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Tuesday, 5 July 2022

I Can't Do Everything - Maintaining Balance

My family was here on the weekend NOT to celebrate Canada Day although we did. It was the last celebration of my 60th birthday with my children and grandchildren. I got snuggles and hugs, conversation and NOISE. It's so loud to have people, especially children, in the house when you're not used to it but lovely... in a noisy way. 

When I think about all the things I've learned in the last month, I'm thrilled. Right now, I'm exploring an AI based software for editing video in text rather than through the audio and video tracks and it's really fun. I think I'm going to enjoy this part of my new business more than I thought. I am working on my next video for the YouTube channel. It's coming together well and it's taking a tremendous amount of time and energy. New always does. Eventually, it'll flow much easier but for now...

... I've realized that I can't do everything, splitting myself in too many directions while hoping to maintain balance, so this is the last post on this blog and all future posts will be on Bags by Myrna. Although I'll be developing bag patterns and workshops as products, bags won't be the only thing I talk about in the articles or on the channel. LOL - I couldn't keep my conversation that tight even if I tried. I like to "talk". There will be a focus on creativity in a broader way with intermittent products for sale or announcements around workshops. The next YouTube video is a scrap fabric project. 

Bottom line, balance and results are equally important to me. As engaging as this project is - and as much as I needed an engaging project - I also need to generate income so my primary focus is to provide consistent, quality, well developed articles, patterns, videos, and workshops that both support and encourage and sell to generate cash flow. My immediate goal is a once-a-week publication on both the YouTube channel and the articles section of my website starting at the beginning of August.  

Here is a link to the website if you'd like to subscribe there...

And, here is a link to the YouTube channel if you'd like to subscribe there...

Or both.

THANK YOU for sharing this journey with me. I am looking forward to this next chapter and hope you will join me there. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new adventures

Friday, 1 July 2022

Literally My First Video

SO much work for forty-nine seconds. This is literally my first video. I combined three clips, edited the input and output points of each clip, overlapped them so they would fade in and out, and added a gradual zoom in filter to the section with the sewing machine.

I used a program called Shotcut because it was on a list of the top five, free, editing software and there was an absolutely fabulous tutorial that literally walked me through step by step. The facilitator, Kevin, provided the clips so I could follow along and do exactly what he was doing and make a cookie commercial. From there, I was able to make this video without needing to refer back to the tutorial. That's a REALLY GOOD tutorial. 

The video is published on my fledgling YouTube channel. Right now, the channel has an autogenerated URL and when there are 100 subscribers, I can customize the name. If you want to see how it looks, here is the link. Next week, I'll be working on more videos and eventually they'll get to actually being about sewing and bags. The sound of the machine helps in this one. You get to see a bit of my studio too although I want to make quite a few changes.

The video was shot with my new camera. So many new things. I'm also figuring out how to use it too but luckily it's very similar to my previous one, the same brand with similar functions. I did a few clips on the older one and the quality of this one is vastly better so I'm glad I bought it. 

This morning is journal writing, tidying up, and going grocery shopping. My daughter and her family will be here this afternoon until Monday and everyone will be here on Saturday when we're celebrating my birthday. That's the last of the planned events. It's been a fabulous month. I've enjoyed celebrating with friends and family, making things, and learning new skills. Three of my favourite things.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my first ever video

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

That Completely Cringeworthy, Totally Terrifying, First Video

Thomas Edison died thirty-one years before I was born and somehow he still managed to preach from the fridge daily. Back then, I didn’t know they were his words but I definitely remember them scripted  in gold metallic on a green magnet with the image of a carpenter carrying a hammer over his shoulder. They flashed every time we walked by.  

Fairy dust, a silver bullet, the wave of a magic wand, they all sound good even as we know that success follows work. If you’re not willing to work, you’re not likely to be successful be it making a button hole or developing a business. Improving takes time. The exceptionally bright shine of an overnight success obscures the highly touted ten-thousand hours of prep time that came first. We have to do the work to learn how to do the work because we learn to do by doing.

I started sewing forty-eight years ago when I first sat down at the machine and fell in love. Sewing has become a near daily practice since and in that time I’ve learned a lot and have gotten very good at sewing everything from lingerie to outerwear, traditional quilts to textile art. I’ve refashioned, upcycled, and even made textile jewelry. My preferred plan of attack is to dive deep into a subject, OD-ing on it until my hands flow with ease and my mind bubbles with creativity. Only then does the magic happen.

Although it’s appearing here now, this will be the first article on the new website but it’s nowhere near the first one I’ve written. I enjoy writing nearly as much as sewing. If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that life took a bit of an unexpected shift earlier this year after which I began looking for an engaging project and increased cash flow. I started Bags By Myrna – a business designing bag patterns, writing articles, developing workshops, and creating a YouTube channel. I’ve been sewing bags since my teens so that part feels comfortable. Everything else is a steep learning curve especially as I’m a self described technical dinosaur.

In the past few months, I’ve set up a website, found an accountability partner, learned about search engine optimization, learned about product photography, learned how to use a vector drawing program to draft PDF patterns printable on a home printer, written and sewn a first pattern, organized the first test sew and used the feedback to edit the text ready for the second test sew. I’ve drawn the rough illustrations and hired an illustrator, outlined an online workshop, started setting up a YouTube channel, gathered most of the starter equipment for making videos, made a list of topics, and watched a LOT of how-to videos. That’s about as much preparation as one can do – or procrastination depending on how you look at it – before it’s time to actually record that completely cringeworthy, total terrifying, first video.

I have decided to embrace inevitable failure and not just to embrace it but to share the process to hopefully encourage anyone else who might be waiting to hop off this fence. When I’ve been the teacher, I’ve told my students that starting is the most important step. You are going nowhere if you don’t start and somewhere if you do. This time I'm the student.

In every how to get started video I’ve watched, the facilitator has said stop overthinking, stop procrastinating, just make a video and then another and another because no matter how much you know now, at some point down the line you’ll look back and recognize, as you cringe, that you’ve made progress. To make progress, you have to start - so start. They sound like my own words coming back at me!

The next steps on my to do list of getting this business going is to write a dozen articles for the website (
of which this is one) before making them live and to record really bad videos until I can’t make really bad videos anymore because I’ve learned enough to do better! I'll link the first one to this article on the website. 

Although a few of these learning curves have had me in tears at times, overall I am thrilled with the progress I am making even as I realize that there are no guarantees. The goal of an engaging project has been met. I am having fun and learning a lot. The goal of increased cash flow is yet to be seen. I can’t control the financial success of the anything. The only thing I can control is my choice day-to-day to do the things I am passionate about like creating, sharing, teaching, supporting, encouraging, and life long learning. That is good and enough for now. Time will tell with the rest.

What have you been putting off?  When will you begin?

These flowers were on my doorstep yesterday morning, sitting in an old metal watering can with no note. It wasn't necessary. I knew exactly who they were from. Three years ago, my friend Mimi decided to grow vegetables only she was so successfully inundated with them that last year she learned how to grow flowers. Regular bouquets appeared on my doorstep all summer, so many that I gave flowers to most of my neighbours. This is the first bouquet this year. I imagine more will show up. It would take me pages to detail her research, efficiency, organization, and learning curve. She's a deep diver too. I love her results. I hope mine impact others positively as well. 

Talk soon – Myrna

Grateful – gorgeous flowers, lots of boxes checked off on my to do list

Monday, 27 June 2022

The First Test Sew

Before my cousin - Karen - arrived, we discussed different activities we could do together and I'd suggested several around knitting only that isn't where she's at right now. She also doesn't sew regularly so I was surprised on Wednesday when she suggested test sewing the pattern. Surprised and thrilled. I really want this pattern to be beginner friendly and having it tested twice - by her and by my friend Francine - is perfect. Both are beginners. 

Apparently, the instructions are very thorough. Karen is the type to read them through from beginning to end before starting and she said about halfway through reading she started to wonder what she'd gotten herself into and if she could possibly do this. She did, fabulously. She also said that as she began to work through the steps, it all came together so well that her panic subsided and she was having fun. YES YES! 

Above left, she's block fusing the interfacing/fleece to the fabrics before cutting out the individual pieces and above right, she's just finished putting the interior pocket together.

I'm almost seventeen months older so we're close in age although we grew up a long distance apart and didn't spend much time together. We still live quite far apart but reconnected in adulthood and the older we get, the more alike we are which is very fun to explore especially for me as I have limited contact with extended family. 

Karen has excellent attention to detail which I really appreciated as she went through the pattern step by step. Not only did she proof and edit, she confirmed where further illustrations are needed. I was able to experience how a beginner responded to what I thought I said and, THANKFULLY, there were very few changes. I wrote how-to for years but it's been a long time since my last pattern. It's nice to know I haven't lost the ability. 

This is at the end of the following section where the interior pocket has been sewn to the lining and the lining is completely formed. The next section, the exterior bag, is almost identical so this is a point of comfort in the process. 

We started about mid morning, took a break for lunch, worked through the afternoon, went out for dinner, and finished early evening. The lining fabric was one I used for a pair of pants several years ago so I tried to find the pants to give to her only I think I cut them up BUT... I did find another pair using the same Burda pattern used for the floral cigarette pants and they fit her fabulously with the alterations I use for my own shape which shows how identical our figures are as well. Maybe - VBG - I'll get a request for a copy of the pattern since they are such a simple sew. How fun would that be!

You can see that we wear a similar "uniform" of a black top with a brighter lower garment although her jewelry is far more understated that my typical statement necklace. LOL - I sent her home with a Myrna piece. 

The exterior fabric is denim left over from some jeans I made several weeks ago. Since it's dark, it doesn't show up too well against her black shirt but you get an idea of the finished size. It has a snap closure and four buttons as embellishment. The handles are webbing. It was designed to be easy for beginners and a blank canvas for textile artists. 

The first test sew was successful. Today, I am making the suggested changes to the pattern, working on search engine optimization for my website, and looking into hiring an illustrator for the images I can't draw myself... yet. I want to get the first three patterns and two workshops done by mid September so rather than frustrate myself with what I can't draw, it seems better to hire someone for the more three dimensional images and then, when the pace slows down, I'll figure out how to do that too because...

... there have been many situations where I let my inability to do something hold me back and then when I learned how, I wondered why I waited so long. I used to hire someone to do my buttonholes and insert zippers and I avoided features like welt pockets because I didn't know how to make them. Instead of stitching in the ditch with quilting, I always stitched 1/4" away because I was afraid of not hitting the ditch perfectly. Now, I can do all of those techniques with ease. It took starting and practicing until I'd done it enough times that the work flowed easily. I'm not ready to learn how to draw with paper and pencil but I do believe I'm ready to learn how to draw electronically. YES YES!

Talk soon - Myrna

- a cousin-friend, a visit from family

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Floral Cigarette Pants

Yesterday, my cousin and I drove about twenty minutes out of town and then hiked up to Margaret Falls. We went in the morning before the forecasted rain and the weather was fabulous, warm but not too hot. We've had so much rain lately that there was a lot of water running over the falls sending the spray further back onto the rocks than I've seen before. It's a gorgeous area; a hike I always enjoy. 

I finished the Burda 7062 floral cigarette pants on Monday morning and wore them on the hike so she could take a picture. I don't usually have a photographer along and I'm subconscious taking my own photos in public although there wasn't anyone else around this time so it would have worked... this time. 

I'm really pleased with how they turned out. The only change I'll make next time is to shorten the front crotch curve 1 3/4" so the waistband will sit in the correct spot. I have less tummy curve again and I'm more than okay with that change. They are wearable so I won't be altering them but I am going to keep this pattern in mind for the fall when I will need new pants. SUCH an easy sew.

I really like this Hemnes cabinet from Ikea that is finally back in stock only the price is significantly higher than it was two years ago when I first started looking at it for my studio. If I remember correctly, it's up almost $200.00. I'd like two for sure, three hopefully, so maybe not... or perhaps they are something to work toward... a reward for milestones along my business pathway... as those milestones pay out. That's fun motivation. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a sunny morning, yummy ice-cream