The Story of the Bear with Buckles and the Girl Who Failed Him

You know what happens when you don’t blog for a long time (which for me is anything longer than a day or two)? It gets harder! After about three days I start thinking, maybe I should just stop blogging altogether. I wonder what life would be like without being attached to the internet at the hip? Would I be forgotten? Would I finally get all my housework done and stop ignoring my child and husband so much? Would I write a best-selling novel and get rich quick? Think think think, I think. Pretty crazy stuff goes on in this head up here.

So anyway, while I was taking an unannounced mini-vacation from this blog and pretty much hating life because I was a snotty-nosed walking-dead sick person, I decided to take on a colossal SEWING project!!!! What better to do with my free non-blogging time than wrestle with a bunch of obstinate fabric that won’t let me have my way with it? AAAaaaagh! You can just imagine me growling and ripping at pieces of brown corduroy while sweating bullets because I am feverish AND our house is 103 degrees in summertime.

You see, I had this great idea. It was a really really really great idea. I wanted to make a special present for a special person. A special little person who just turned two and who also really really likes buckles. He likes buckles so much that he will stop whatever he is doing—playing at the beach, digging sand castles, running around on his front lawn.—to go and play with the buckles on his stroller. He is a smart little boy who is fascinated with clamps and clasps and the way things work. I am fascinated with this little boy. I know he is going to grow up to be one of those really smart older boys who can take things apart and put them back together again. I love those kinds of boys.

A year ago (a whole year ago!!) I thought up the idea to make this little boy some kind of toy with all kinds of buckles on it. Not one buckle like his stroller but three or four or even five. I would sew it with all the buckles I could find! It would be a buckle extravaganza and he would love me forever because I alone understood his love of buckles. I would be the best honorary auntie ever.

Buckle Bear Plans

And so the idea of the bear with buckles was born, or Mr. Buckles if you like the sound of that better. Inspired and on fire off I skipped to the fabric store. To my delight I found all kinds of buckles. There were ring buckles and clasp buckles and hook buckles, silver buckles and black plastic buckles and bronze buckles. There were even buckles that lit up and blinked. This was the best idea EVER. I was so proud of myself.

I bought some red-braided belt material for the belts, some brown corduroy for the bear body and some cool striped jean material for his sporty cuffed pants. I had some red striped mattress ticking at home, so I decided to use that for a vest to put all the buckles on. After all, part of my motive for making this present was to save a little money along with giving the most original present ever.

After a couple days of staring at the fabric and sketching up all sorts of creatures, I decided to just have a go at it without a pattern or a plan other than the willy-nilly ideas swirling around in my head. I really think that is where I went wrong.

There is a big part of my personality that is not suited to sewing. Sewing is a slow and methodical craft. Rewards come to those who are careful and meticulous with their seams. Cutting corners in sewing does not win the race. In fact, it often puts you back several hours with a seam ripper in your hands. I hate ripping seams and doing things twice or thrice or fifty times that I could have done once. I never liked writing rough drafts in school and that hasn’t changed much. I’m not a perfectionist.

What I am is creative and logical. (Is that an oxymoron?) I can figure things out if I set my mind to it. I can make stuff work if I try hard enough. I figured I would just sew what I knew how to do and figure the rest out as I went along. That worked out well enough for my couch cover project.

A Bear Hot Pocket!

I sewed his arms and legs and stuffed them. Then I sewed his head. They looked adorable. Separate and unattached but adorable! Then I started on the vest.

That bloody red-braided belt material started to unravel. It was horrible. It took on a personality of its own and the more I tried to sew it, the more it unraveled. My sewing machine decided to balk too and the thread made giant loopy tension nightmares on the underside of whatever I sewed. The bobbin jumped and shrieked and flew right out of the bottom of my machine. I took everything apart and put it all back together again, determined that it would not get the best of me. I zig-zagged up the belt material as best I could to keep it from unraveling more but it just kept unraveling and turned into a frayed mess. And then I started to run out of belting and that made me cry. Big snotty smudgy tears that dripped on my corduroy and ruined everything. It was a disaster.

A complete and utter disaster.

I decided that all the zig-zaggy stitching was fashionable and carried on anyway and then I sewed one of the belts on backwards! The blinking belt buckle! The best belt of them all! It was dreadful! How could I do such a stupid stupid thing?!! For a while I decided I would just buckle that belt in the back of the bear but I knew my little friend would know it was a mistake and I had to rip it out.

Then I sewed his head on backwards and his vest upside down and every time I stuffed him inside-out and outside-in the corduroy would unravel a little more because I was stuffing the whole body of the bear through a little hole between his legs. It was not unlike a painful birth without an epidural!

I know those of you who do not sew will be confused completely by the inside-out-outside-in process. Just believe me when I say that it was difficult and strenuous and I was sweating bullets. It didn’t work no matter what I tried. Pinning it right would have been a good idea but once it was outside in I would feel around for the pins and twist it all wrong again. It was like I was sewing blind.

I really do think I was this close to finishing the project and pulling it all off but as the days wore on and my sickness and bad attitude took over, I had to give up. I cried and cried and cried. I hate failure. It was such a good idea and now no one will ever know because it’s such a big mess! I thought hysterically. There might have even been some PMS thrown in.

To make matters worse this is the second present that I have not been able to give to a special little boy in my life. Not the same buckle-loving boy but another one just as special. Is God trying to teach me something here?

A while back I bought some really cool little stump bean bags on Etsy. They were the sweetest little bean bags ever and so very perfect for this other little boy in my life because his mom is eco-friendly and would love them. She wouldn’t want me to buy him something plastic or noisy or mass-produced in China. He would like them because they looked like little trees and you could throw them. And if he didn’t like them, then my friend could put them in a little dish on her coffee table and they would be all cool-looking and deco in her super deco house. I’m using dumb words but you get my drift. Cool friend : cool present. Maybe I was being a little too proud of myself for finding the best most perfect present ever.

I ordered them. I paid for the shipping that was a little bit more expensive than I wanted. I wrapped them in some very special Baby Bug wrapping paper and set the present on the passenger seat of my car to give to my friend’s little boy next time I saw them. Then I drove around with that present on my seat for three weeks. Our timing was all wrong and I never got around to giving it to him.

Then one day I forgot to lock my car and my present was gone. Pfft! Stolen! Right out of my car just like my fancy silk diaper bag and the box of wipes. Somebody in my neighborhood is watching me and every time I forget to lock my car they take things out of it.

Yes, I’m totally going to set a trap.

But in the meantime I’m just peeved! Who could do such a thing? Who would unwrap a present that was wrapped with paper painted by a little kid? WHO??!! Someone who has no soul. Someone who is rotten and evil and mean. I never blogged about that when it happened because I just figured it’s my dumb luck. I’m going to learn to lock my car one way or another. How much is it going to cost me is a better question. $50? $100? more? I don’t know.

I’m just sensitive on this subject. Thoughtful presents should go to their rightful owners and then I should get credit for being such a great present-giver.

Or should I? Is that the lesson here? Am I trying too hard to be the best present-giver ever? If I just start giving people coffee-scented candles will I get over this curse? Nothing against coffee-scented candles but I think I’ve gotten five thousand of them in my lifetime.

Operation Buckle Bear fails

Long story short: It was a spectacular idea and a spectacular failure, but I am glad I tried. My mom says she can help me salvage the bear with buckles. Maybe in a few months or so, he will get to live with the boy who loves buckles.

Sewing Flop

the idea for a tent

So I had this crazy idea to make a tent that would fit over Baby Bug’s old crib. She doesn’t sleep in her crib (even though we took the side railing off it and she could if she wanted to). It just sits in her room taking up space and collecting stuffed animals. We don’t want to get rid of it yet or even disassemble it (if it would even make it through another disassemble and reassemble) because we keep hoping I’ll get pregnant and there will be another baby in the house.

However, the years tick by and the crib just gets in the way—especially now that our art-supply collection is taking over the other side of the room and giving me many organization nightmares. The crib is just an eyesore. But what can we do with it?

Baby Bug does like to play in it. In fact, it is her own personal trampoline. She is constantly scrambling up and down into it and play-acting out some tragedy with her stuffed animals taking nose-dives off the edge.

I thought maybe I could make a tent that would go over the top of it and it could be a little play house for her. This way it would look less crib-like and I wouldn’t have to resent it so much for taking up space and reminding me that I am still not pregnant.

So I pulled out the old fabric that I used to cover my couch before The Great Couch Cover and set to sewing. And that is where things sort of went down hill. I don’t know. I think my good luck with the couch cover was just beginner’s luck. Sewing is a pain in the you-know-where! It takes too long and it never turns out how you expect.

Which brings me to something I’ve been thinking about. If you can see it in your head, can you create it? That is the question.

I once got to talking to a musician about music and how to play a song by ear. He said, “If you can hear the song in your head, then you can play it.” This may not be true for all people but it is somewhat true for me. I’m no talented musician by far but I can usually plunk out any tune I hear, one finger at a time on the piano. The guitar is a whole other story but a piano is pretty logical since the notes are all in a row. Anyway….the same thing sort of rings true for artwork. If I can visualize a drawing in my head, I usually can draw it.

I know you are not believing me on this but hear me out. Let’s pick the hardest example: a horse. I cannot draw a horse because I do not know what a horse looks like. I mean, I know a horse has a long mane and four legs and a tail etc but I don’t really know the anatomy of a horse. Their legs bend backwards at the knee or something weird and when my brain tries to fill what those lines would look like around the knee area, the picture in my head starts to get fuzzy. So that’s why if I drew a picture of a horse it would probably look like crap.

So my theory is this: if you have enough patience and you really pay attention to the picture you see in your head, then you should be able to draw it. A lot of pictures are too much trouble. Who wants to focus on drawing all the spokes in a bicycle tire for instance? But other things like a simple silly cartoon monster are pretty easy for someone like me. I think this could be true for a lot of people but it does involve turning off the left side of your brain which can be a bit tricky, especially if you like to know how to add and subtract numbers.

Anyway, back to my sewing story. I thought if I could draw my tent idea, then I could sew it. And maybe I still can. It’s just taking a lot more patience than I was willing to invest.

climbing in

I sewed it together and it looked like crap. I cut my slit for the door and the whole structural integrity of the entire tent sagged and collapsed on itself. This is actually because I didn’t have enough fabric for the back panel. The back panel is only six inches where it should be 24 or so. Once you cut a slit in the front panel, there is not enough tautness in the fabric to hold it in place. I’m not really explaining that very well but just imagine it falling in on itself like soft bubble gum and you’ll pretty much have the idea.

So I sewed my door slit back up and called it a day. Maybe I’ll make a trip to the fabric store another day and give it another try. Or maybe it will just go down in history as one of those projects that flopped. I figure I’m always bragging about the successful projects on this blog, I might as well share a flop or two too.

Maybe there is somebody out there who really can sew what they see. If so, you are more than welcome to steal my idea. My only request is that you share photos with me when you’re done.

BB in her "tent"

Anyway, all that really matters is whether Baby Bug likes it.


Baby Bug’s Tent from secretagentjo on Vimeo.

Which she does.