My interest in sewing had been ignited when I was in the kindergarten. I began with making a simple pillow case with full of cotton stuffed in it. I learnt to sew on a sewing machine, mainly with the simple straight stitches. As my interest in fashion never grew beyond the practical and simple clothing, the use of sewing machine wasn’t for making shirts, skirt or dress, but for creating rain cover for my school bag, a calico bag and numerous dust cloths made of old towels.
Early in this holiday, I was thinking what to make from fabric I bought just because I liked the pattern. The order should be the opposite – choose what to make and select materials – but for me, joy in sewing often comes from the beauty of materials. This time, I decided to create a pencil case for design tools, including design knives, tweezers, scissors, a compass, a ruler and design mechanical pencils.
Since I am not a “pro” and want to keep process as simple as possible, when I measure and design something I usually add 0.5cm to the dimension for the margin. I sew fabric inside out alongside the line 0.5cm from the edge, leaving a small section so I can flip it afterwards. After flipping it inside out, I iron the edge to make it easier to sew them. By sewing approximately 0.2cm from the edge around the fabric, the corners and the seam are fully defined and it acquires strength.
I utilised the light blue jeans fabric and the purple sail-cloth. The purple Japanese pattern is called “Yagasuri (矢絣)” (“矢” is feathers of an arrow and “絣” is a traditional Japanese technique for producing fabric). Having its vertical line work parallel to the direction in which the tools are arranged, emphasises the contrast between the length over the width when rolled up and fastened. I decided to sew pockets along the straight lines of the pattern, so the threads are hidden and less noticeable on the surface.
After creating the pencil case, I happened to make one more case; this time, it was a case for ballet shoes my mother uses. She wanted to have a bag that is compact and easy to use. We went to a handcraft store and found a pair of fabric with the same pattern, but in contrasting colour schemes. I decided to use one of them for inside and another for outside, in order to establish the unique, consistent relationship between them. Since my mother has one pair of ballet shoes and one pair of toe shoes, I made two large pockets next to each other. I sew the elastic so it can hold shoes from sliding out of the case. The case can be rolled and bound, which allows it to be flexible with the amount it can contain.
Of course these case designs do not always work for the first time; as I test the usability during the production, often I find the need to put extra snaps on, or extend the elastic a few cm longer. Having a few sketches and scribbles of measurement in prior to the production means to construct the process in my head and to make sure that it is going to work as I make it. As a consequence, the production of each case took hours (from ironing fabric before the measurement to packing up equipment) but I believe that makes me think very hard to make something that is worth using.