Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Confessions of a gift-making coward

I love to sew, and to play with fabric combinations. No news there! I love to sew gifts for other people. But somehow, when I need to bring these loves together, something goes awry. I lose my confidence in combining fabrics when I try to take someone else's fabric tastes into account. I become paralysed with a silly fear that I might make something that a friend thinks is hideous. If I am going to spend time sewing something, I really want it to be something they will love! Often, this fear defeats me, and I avoid making the gift. Ridiculous, huh?!
Months ago, I had promised to make a frilly dilly bag for my gorgeous friend Wendy (who would never tell me that my gift was hideous, of course - she is my friend after all)! But so indecisive was I about what fabrics she might like, that I had to resort to a desperate solution:
"Wen, can you please go out and buy some fabrics that you really like so that I can make your bag for you?!"
What a coward I am! These are the fabrics she sent:

And without further agonising on my part, here is her bag:

Having Wendy choose the fabrics took none of the pleasure away from the process for me. I loved making this for her, safe in the assurance that she would love the end result.
For the record, the beautiful fabrics Wendy chose are:
1. 'Shangri-La' stripe by 3 Sisters for Moda
2. 'Fresh Air' brown print by Chez Moi for Moda
3. 'Lily Pond' by Wendy Slotboom for In the Beginning fabrics
4. 'Arabella' by Pat Sloan for P&B Textiles
5. 'Midas Touch' #2906 by Ro Gregg for Northcott
Lining - Michael Miller 'Dumb Dot' C2490
Pattern - 'Frilly Dilly Bag' by Janelle Wind
Foundation fabric - Natural linen/cotton blend
I only hope that my round-about way of gift giving didn't diminish my dear friend's pleasure in receiving it!


  1. That is one pretty bag. I'm sure Wendy loves it. Your work is lovely! Suz

  2. I understand completely! Also, I hesitate if the receiver may not understand the amount of work in the gift...yet I'd love to make things for everyone! We're a funny bunch (at least two of us!) ;-)

  3. It's a gorgeous bag - be confident in your choices, I'm sure you're good at picking.

  4. The Bag is Lovely..Nice choice of fabrics...I know what you mean..have done the same thing myself...I Think it's Normal.

  5. This is my favourite bag pattern and you've totally done it justice! I would be thrilled to receive this as a gift! Lots of love, Amanda xxx

  6. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. I would love to purchase your new book and some of your delightful patterns. But, I'm not sure how to go about purchasing. Can you lead me in the right direction? Thanks much. Love, love, love your designs.

  7. Sometimes I think it is best to have friends and family pick out fabric especially when making a "special" gift!

  8. I know JUST what you are talking about and I suffer from the same syndrome. :S

  9. The bag is GORGEOUS. :D

  10. I know exactly what you are talking about. I'm fine if I chose the fabrics and just make what I like, but when a customer places a particular order, I go to pieces and it takes me ages to get started. We really should have more confidence in our work shouldn't we.... I think this bag id FAB! Who wouldn't love it???
    Love Yvonne x

  11. A beautiful bag you've made there!!
    I also know that feeling you described...always hoping that the recipient will like my choices...aren't we a bit too hard on ourselves???!!!!
    Cheers from Denmark!

  12. I have just been through the exact same dilemma. I started three different things. I couldn't decide on colours. It is especially difficult when you have only met through a blog. In the end I made something quick and simple. Not what I was going to make originally but at least I made it and finished it.

  13. I agonize when I am picking out fabrics/colors for my friends. I am getting better, but the confidence still waines. Love the bag - is it hard to make?

  14. WEndy is going to be THRILLED!! I LOVE this bag!! You done good!

  15. Oh; this is sooooo interesting as I have fallen victim to these decisions too. My problem is usually follow up orders of a design of mine; where the customer will say something like make it in "country" fabrics. Well...country fabrics run a wide gauntlet these days so knowing what the person would really like is difficult.
    The only way I have been able to handle it; is to make two or three of the same item and let them choose which one they want.
    The thing that I would like to know is; "are they the type and colour fabrics you would have chosen for Wendy???". Maybe there is a lesson somewhere in this.
    Kind Regards

  16. I know exactly how you feel!
    I agonise over my fabric choices for so long when making gifts that they're nearly always late! I love your idea of having the recipient chose their own colours... bag is gorgeous!

  17. You are not alone. I swear it takes me ten times longer to choose fabrics for gifts than choosing them for an entire gift. The I keep thinking I could have done better. I think the bag is wonderful and your solution was the best bet.

  18. I understand completely! And, yes, the bag is absolutely lovely.


  19. You're not alone, it seems we're a good number of people out there with the same problem..jejeje
    lovely bag :D

  20. I completely understand your fear. I am the same way and often avoid home-made gifts all together for fear of my friend's reaction. Silly, huh! I like your solution though. The bag turned out great.

  21. Just beautiful Ros. Love the fabrics and I never get board of seeing your wonderful Frilly Bag Creations.

  22. Muriel - even though I think you have extremely good taste my dear, I do love the idea of the recipient choosing the fabrics :) Speaking of fabric, it's time I sent you some more...
    Love Janelle xx

  23. This bag looks amazing, and so feminine. I love the fabric choices and you did amazing work

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. It's a lovely bag. I think getting her to pick the fabrics was very sensible.

    I have not been to your blog before ( found it from somewhere else ) but it struck a chord with me. I have been looking back at all your wonderful garden photos. Congratulations it is amazing. I know just how much work that has taken. We did Garden Artfest ( week long ) here in 2000 and 2002 and decided that was enough. Since I have got the quilting bug I have less time to garden and as you said somewhere am now trying to downsize our garden.
    I have enjoyed your blog so I will return again. Best Wishes from NZ.

  26. What a perfect way to be sure she gets what she likes. You did right! It makes it more fun to work with fabric chosen through someone elses eyes. I'm sure she didn't mind at all!

  27. I saw this bag in the flesh today - it looks even more gorgeous in real life when you can see all the attention to detail and perfection. You're so clever Ros! Wendy and co came for lunch and we've had a lovely afternoon - wish you guys could have been here too. Lots of love from us.

  28. I'm with you on the fabric. It would be easier if they would pick it out. BUT, most of my friends do not know how to pick fabric AT ALL. They mix fabric types, they're more fearful at picking the wrong things. It is a labor of love, definately. BTW, I love the bag.


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