If you follow me on Instagram you may know that I signed up to take part in the #2017SVE gift swap. For the uninitiated, this is the Secret Valentine’s Exchange, a worldwide project where participants make a gift for someone and send it in time for them to open on Valentine’s day. Nice idea, right? It’s the brainchild of Sanae and Ute, and this year over 400 crafty people joined in.
I was really unsure about signing up. With the exception of a few pencil cases for teacher friends, I have never sewn anything for anyone else. Like others, I’m rather critical of my own work and I would never want to send something substandard to another person, especially someone who is probably much more advanced than me! I was also worried that something might happen that’d stop me from completing the project on time (machine malfunctions, hit by a bus, mysterious tropical illness…) but I got over my worries and got involved.
I went snooping through my partner’s Instagram photos for inspiration. Tryntsje said that she liked any shade of blue, green or pink, stripes and bold prints. I wanted to make her something practical and decided on a shopping bag. I wanted to use something like a heavy canvas for the shell so it could hold weighty items. I rummaged around in my stash and found a piece of upholstery fabric from Laura Ashley with baby blue, mint green and candy pink stripes- jackpot!
I lined the bag with an unused pillowcase with a bold floral print in the colours she likes. The sharp-eyed among you will notice that its the same fabric I used for my pyjamas. I made box corners to give the bag a nice deep base with plenty of room for grocery shopping.
Tryntsje recently shared photos of a skirt she’d made from old jeans. Inspired by her denim upcycle, I used the back pocket from some jeans to make an internal pocket in the bag. I tucked a folded piece of elastic behind the pocket before stitching it on to make a pen loop. Everything was going really well, until I accidentally stitched over the bag handle! I deliberated about unpicking it for ages, but thought it’d look worse with little punctures in the leather. I hope Tryntsje will forgive me one mistake!
I stayed in the spirit of the project and used things I had in my stash, except for the leather bag handles which I bought from this Ebay seller. I added a pen, a shopping list pad and, of course, some Valentine’s chocolate and sent it off to the Netherlands. A few days later Tryntsje posted a picture of the package on Instagram so I knew it had arrived safely.
On the 14th she sent me a lovely thank you email and seemed to like the bag. Phew!
I’ve really enjoyed taking part in this years Secret Valentine Exchange. Getting involved in something that the whole community has been engaged in and excited about has been great fun. The #2017SVE hashtag has introduced me to lots of new craft bloggers too.
At the time of writing this post I haven’t received my gift yet. I’m really excited to see what it is and, more importantly, who it’s from!
Sending a handmade gift to a stranger in another country might seem a bit odd (my non-sewing friends were pretty baffled), but it’s also enormously satisfying. If you enjoy feeling warm and fuzzy I suggest you sign up for #2018SVE!