Category Archives: Stress

Templates, Bags, and Stress


A few posts back, I mentioned that I make reversible, drawstring dice bags. Because the bags are reversible, I basically make two bags and sew them together. All sides of the bags are made from the same pattern.

Since I have to cut out so many of the same pieces, I made a template out of some thin cardboard that I could just run a rotary cutter around. Voila! Fast and easy. However, if I got in too big of a hurry or I wasn’t paying attention, my rotary cutter would cut into or shave off a wee bit of the cardboard. Well, that was going to change the shape and size of my template eventually. Enter my friend who had just gotten a 3D printer. I asked him if he would be willing to print a template for my pattern, if I created the design. He said sure.

He then told me about TinkerCad. It’s a free online 3D design tool that’s pretty simple to use. I went to the site and I created a super simple template that ended up looking like so:




I sent it to my friend and he printed it for me. It seems that sometimes I have pretty awesome ideas. The template turned out really well and works great! I can cut fabric pieces out in no time flat *and* still have an intact template after it all.



Once I had the 3D printed template, I had a ton of material cut out and ready to go. With so much fabric pre-cut, I can quickly throw together a completed bag. 




With those bags I opened my Etsy store, Pixel Whimsy Shop. At some point I showed a friend who owns a small cafe and cooking school pictures of some of the drawstring bags. She asked me if I could make a reusable, washable grocery bag. I said I didn’t see why not. So, I went home that night to see if I could make one. I didn’t purchase enough material, as I didn’t have a pattern when I bought it, and I ended up making a miniature reversible, reusable grocery bag. It turned out super cute.





I posted pictures of it on my Facebook page. So many people went crazy over this bag that I threw together on a whim. I had people asking me what material I had, how much I was charging for them, if they were in my Etsy store yet. Needless to say, I was completely caught off guard by people wanting these. My friend with the cafe? She wanted four for her patrons to purchase and one for herself.



Regular sized shopping/tote bag.


I should mention that this happened a week before school started. I teach and I knew that I would not have much time to sew once school started. I began working on bags like a madwoman. I was going practically non-stop from 7:30 in the morning until evening, trying  to get the hang of the construction of the bag, in order to finish as many as I could. I got quite a few finished and out to their new homes. And suddenly, what had been a fun little side project became incredibly stressful. I was running out of free time and I wanted them to be (ahem…) perfect because people were paying me to make them.




I started clenching my teeth while I sat at the sewing machine. I ended up with headaches and eventually a migraine. On Wednesday evening of that week, I went to bed at 8:15 and slept straight through until 7:30 the next morning, only to wake up to the same headache. My jaws were ridiculously tight. I decided to go to the chiropractor, hoping she could give me some relief, but I couldn’t get in to see her until Friday.

As I was talking to my chiropractor, she commented on how tense I was, how tight my muscles were, especially in my jaws. I told her about the stress of the week. Before I left she told me, “I cannot tell you in good conscience to go home and sew. I think you need a break.”


I went home and thought, “I can finish one more bag.” As soon as I sat down to the sewing machine, I was completely tense, jaws completely clenched. I quickly decided that I would, indeed, not be completing any bags. I got up, turned my sewing machine off, and started packing and putting away all sewing supplies. I could feel the stress start to easy immediately.



I made another Facebook post. I told everyone that I was extremely grateful for their support and all of the people who wanted a bag, but I just could not do it. I had to take a break. I had realized that I did not want to begin the school year like a crazy person who was ridiculously stressed. Anyway, this was supposed to be fun, not stressful. All of the comments were so positive and people told me how good it was that I was able to recognize it so quickly and relieve the pressure from myself.

That was three months ago. A week ago, I lifted the self imposed sewing ban. I put together several dice bags. They were quick and easy. I haven’t approached the shopping/tote bags yet, but will soon. I have to admit it felt nice to be sewing again. Hopefully, this weekend I will get some more made.



It was absolutely crazy how quickly everything changed from something that was new and fun to something that was starting to affect my health because of stress. I’m glad that I could recognize that things had taken a horrible turn. I’m glad I took a three month sewing hiatus. I’m glad that I started sewing again and that it is still enjoyable.

The lesson? If you find yourself in a situation that is completely stressing you out or wearing on you mentally, maybe you should take a break. Sure, you might not be able to walk away for three months, but sometimes walking away for a few minutes or an hour can give you a chance to take a breath and reset.