How to Level Up Your Crafts and Your Life


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I don’t know that it’s absolutely true, but I would guess that most of us have invisible walls around certain things in crafting and in life, skills you’d love to have but you just can’t level up your crafts.

Maybe starting a whole new craft just sounds too daunting, though you’d really love to knit yourself a scarf.

Or maybe there’s a particular skill that just seems like to much for you, like hemming a skirt, crocheting a garment with shaping, painting with oil paints.

For some reason that thing, as much as you want to do it, feels like a thing you can’t do, like it’s too hard or scary or whatever to even try.

And yet you really want to make this thing, so you can sit there with the tension between wanting to make something and being afraid of the skills involved for years.

I know, because I’ve been there.

Meet My Crafty Nemesis

My big fear when it came to crafts was sewing in zippers.

(Also using my serger. I had that baby for, like, three years before I finally took it out of the box.)

It’s OK to laugh. If you’ve ever sewn in a zipper, you know it’s not really hard.

embroidered bag opened to show lining

But I had built it up in my mind into this thing. A thing that was hard.

  • Sewing zippers requires a whole different foot, which I somehow lost, though I had never used it. My mom bought me a new one for my birthday, probably a couple of years ago (thanks, mom!) and I still didn’t use it.
  • Sometimes to use a zipper foot you also have to move the needle on your sewing machine. That sounds scary.
  • There’s a big potential (in my mind, anyway) for sewing over the zipper, which sounds like it would be scary and could result in a broken needle. Which might put your eye out. Or something.
  • If I mess it up I could be wasting fabric, and certainly would be wasting time.
  • Messing this up would confirm that I actually suck at crafting and shouldn’t be telling anyone anything about how to be more creative because what do I even know? I can’t sew in a zipper!

New Year, New Craft

My daughter went back to school on Monday, and in the spirit of starting new things (and actually having a little time to craft because she was in school) I decided zippers had intimidated me long enough.

It was the day to level up my crafts. Achievement unlocked.

But what to make that would be quick, easy, use materials I already had in the house and simultaneously be something I’d actually want to use and something I wouldn’t be too sad if I irretrievably messed it up somehow?

Enter the zippered pouch.

Level Up Zipper Pouch

Luckily, I had a short zipper (because sewing in zippers has definitely been in my plans before) that would make a pouch of decent size.

I was casting about for fabric to use, thinking I’d just grab a couple of random things in the spirit of low-risk crafting.

embroidered bird with beaded tail

But then my eye set on this embroidered bird.

How I love this little guy.

I made it years ago, and because I rather haphazardly cut the fabric while I was working on it, it just barely doesn’t fit in an embroidery hoop.

It was, however, exactly the right size to go with my wee zipper.

I pulled out some fun green batik-like fabric with leaf print that looked like a place this bird might live, and some bright blue for the lining and I was on my way.

fabric used for making a zippered pouch

It turned out the foot for my machine is offset, so I don’t have to move the needle (whew!) and when you use non-metal zippers it’s totally OK if you sew over them.

I had to redo the lining because it was in the way of the zipper on one side the first time I sewed it. And I’m still not sure how to get around the zipper pull gracefully. But it’s functional and super cute and DONE.

back of zippered bag

How to Level Up Your Crafts

If you have something that’s been holding you back in crafting or in life, it’s time to level up. Make some time to do the thing, or start doing the thing, this week.

  • Buy the materials if you don’t have them already. (You probably have them already.)
  • Plan a simple project to get you over the fear.
  • Sign up for a workshop if you’re that kind of person and there’s one handy and soon.
  • Scour YouTube for videos. There are videos for everything.
  • Or check out CreativeBug or Bluprint for online classes.
  • Hit the library for a pattern book if that’s your jam.
  • Get that project started ASAP.

Do not let this research/supply gathering/project planning become another hurdle to doing the thing. Just grab what you can and get it done!

Whatever it is, take the steps to get started. Need help? Let me know what you’re working on getting over in the comments and we’ll level up crafts and life together!

embroidered bag used to illustrate concept of leveling up in crafts
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