Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Go with the flow!

I'm generally one to "go with the flow" when it comes to my felt projects.  I always start with an idea or plan in mind....a color scheme and a basic form or project, an approach and an idea of the desired outcome... but then I usually feel free to go where the project takes me as it starts to take shape and develop.  Often this approach takes me down paths I didn't anticipate and I enjoy many happy little discoveries enroute. But I see felting friends who start with a specific idea and work thru frustrations and changes to make it come out how they envisioned, so I've often questioned whether my modus operandi when it comes to felt, was good.

So my  two current felt bag projects have been an interesting case study for me in this regard.  One of them,  the Cotswold bag, I've been approaching the way I usually do....an idea in mind and going with the flow. The other bag, by quilt felt bag,  is one I'm trying hard to see thru as my original design idea was envisioned. And what a difference between these experiences!

For this quilt felt bag,  I did have a specific visual in mind and I'm determined to see it thru!   No "happy little discoveries" here. I've definitely learned some things and am happy with certain aspects of the project, just as with my cotswold bag, but sticking to a hard and fast original idea makes what usually I think of as "happy little discoveries" feel like " pain in the neck roadblocks"! 

From earlier posts, you know the genesis of this felt quilt bag project....my attempts to complete it, continue! With a bit of angst.

Since 4 of the 29 squares I needed were MIA this spring,  I had to recreate them.

Then because I didn't think about how much shrinkage the zig-zag stitch (which  I used to attach the felt design squares to the background felt) would cause, I had to resquare the squares to a smaller size - now I'm down to 4.5" square!

Before heading to Sebago for a vacation, I was determined to complete the bag, so I pinned it all together and -ICH! It was too much on the eye!  I can be bold in my tastes, and I love contrasts (the pumpkin oranges and blues is not for everyone), but this was too too much!

I realized that there's no place to rest the eyes on my bag as originally intended!  Quilts use an array of fabrics and some of the fabrics allow the eye to rest. My bag was all of one fabric - true, each square is unique but the basic colors and arrangement are the same - and it was too much.

Determined to stick with my original idea, I decided to intersperse some solid blue blocks among the fancy felt squares to give the eye a place to rest. But that didn't really help, so I left for vacation thinking the 29 pumpkin squares for my bag were going to become 3 pillows and 2 coasters when I returned!

But I've decided I just need to see this bag thru as originally conceived.  So I stitched all my squares to a lovely piece of pumpkin colored silk fabric this weekend and I've pinned it together... again (photo above)....and tonight I'm tackling the handles and final stitching so I can cross it off my to-do list.   Maybe when all is said and done, I'll feel happy with this bag, but rigidly sticking with the original idea has been a frustrating experience for me. And this experience has confirmed for me that it's ok to start with a general idea and go with the flow! No need, if you're not filling a custom order, to stick to the original plan! The experience is more positive, for me anyway, if I can go with the flow....as I have on the Cotswold bag...

After all my excitement figuring out how to make the "tricky braid" (see starting piece of leather for a 3 part braid right and it's resulting braid top)  I've determined these handles are just not the right aesthetic for the bag. At first I thought it was just that I'd made the first set of handles using thicker 3 part braids (photo above right) so I made a set of finer 5 part braids (photo below). But that didn't do it either!  So I'm back to the drawing board on how to deal with the handles for that bag! But I have 2 sets of Tricky Braid handles for future bags!

When all is said and done, I'll be curious to see if the outcome is better with one approach than the other. Certainly from a process standpoint, I know I prefer the  "go with the flow" approach!