My first sewing project in ages led to mistakes that I am grateful for.

When I heard about phone bandoleer bags, I realized I could really use one. I listen to podcasts while I do chores and was finding myself tied to wherever the phone was sitting. Most of my pockets won’t accommodate my phone, so making a portable pocket for it seemed like a great idea.

I hadn’t sewn in over a year and I didn’t have a pattern to work from, but I was making a very simple bag. I was sure I could figure this out. I made some sketches and measurements, picked out my fabrics, and got to work.

My homemade phone bandoleer bag, also known as a portable pocket.

To protect the phone from hard knocks, I made quilted fabric for my bag. I was convinced I needed two layers of batting instead of one to adequately pad the phone.

I was wrong.

Not only was the double-layer quilted fabric horribly stiff, it made for bulky seams. I couldn’t get the quarter inch seams I’d planned for and tried to fudge with 3/8th inch ones. The result was a bag that was too small for my phone.

Portable pocket in use

Initially, I felt horribly discouraged. I’d had the usual challenges of doing something I hadn’t done in a while, making lots of little mistakes as I reminded myself how my sewing machine worked. My free time for sewing was used up and the finished project had not turned out as planned.

I could easily have given up. Instead, I learned from my mistakes, adjusted my pattern, and tried again.

A single layer of batting would be fine, and cutting the pieces larger to allow for a bigger bag and wider seams (a necessity when sewing quilted pieces together) were both essential. My second bag came out fine.

Why had I failed? Because I was out of practice and because I was winging it. One of the risks of winging it is that you might fail. And I did. But that doesn’t mean I wasted my time, or even my materials.

I love bags with interesting linings.

I needed to make that first bag to see where the problems were with my ideas. The things I did wrong helped me to do a better job the second time. And the first bag, while too small for my phone, is the right size for a pair of glasses.

But even if I chose to throw that first bag away, I wouldn’t feel like I’d wasted anything. The time and materials I used to make it served me well, giving me a chance to practice my sewing and teaching me things I needed to know for my project.

You could call it a failure, but it was really just a lesson. How grateful I am that I can learn from my mistakes.

How do you feel about your sewing mistakes?

4 thoughts on “Appreciating Failure: Homemade Portable Pocket”

    1. Thanks. Practicing makes a huge difference with machine quilting! That’s why I’ve taken so many classes for it… to get some practice time in. When I have time to sew at home, the last thing I want to do is practice!

  1. I’m so glad you wrote about “failure” in your creative process. I must admit that I still struggle with failure… and have many opportunities to struggle.

    1. I know how you feel. We all make mistakes and it’s easy to get frustrated by them. I’m not always this kind to myself!

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