Good Advice, Thomas Edison

q~Except for skydiving and other physical activities of that genre, I’ve never kept myself from trying something because I was afraid to fail. In elementary school, I can vividly remember a story about Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb. When a boy asked him if he felt as if he were a failure because he had tried so many times to invent a lightbulb that worked Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” That story has stuck with me my entire life. I was also raised in a family where we were encouraged to try “things”. My sisters and I were never told we couldn’t do something because we were girls.

As a result, unless it’s dangerous, I’ve never let the fear of failure stand in my way of learning or trying a new skill, pattern, etc. As with Thomas Edison, I have found techniques that don’t work, so I try something else. With my optimistic mindset, I bought the Effie and Ollie elephant pattern by Heather Bailey. Daughter Em loves elephants and this pattern would make perfect “baby blocks” for the new grandson, who will be born in September. I have to admit it, I may have found my Waterloo. My mind may be young and eager, but the hands not-so-much. Arthritis in the right hand and nerve damage to two fingers of the left hand have made sewing tiny objects rather difficult. Oh, to go back in time to when this would have been a moot point and sewing this little elephant a cinch. Tiny tail frustrations, after the third try I did my own thing ala Thomas Edison I learned what wouldn’t work. Then there is the super, tiny trunk. No way could I get that trimmed and turned right-side-out and have it look right. Poor little trunk twists off to the left. Lastly, clipping the seams all around and getting it ready to stuff. What’s that I see? A hole in the legs where stitching should have been? Did these old eyes not see the seam and clip through it? I can hear our mom now, “Be careful when clipping the seams, don’t get too close or you’ll clip right through the stitching.” Well mom, I can hear your warning, but either bad light or bad hands, I clipped through. Little elephant projectile across the room. I’m amazed at how something so light could actually make it across the room. Stomping down the stairs from my studio ensued. I don’t get frustrated very often, but when I do it really upsets the Hubs, he’s not used to it and doesn’t quite know what to do. It’s been two days, I’ve had time to cool down.

Effie Elephant

Effie Elephant

This is NOT a failure, it’s just lessons learned:

  1. Trying to pull an 1/4 inch width tail right-side will not work for me, even using the cord-sewn-in-the-seam method to try and pull it. (Another tip from my mom. She’s is/was a fabulous seamstress.) A wider width worked,  as well as a folded tail. I like the folded tail best.
  2. Next time I need to clip seams, bring the elephant outside. The light is bright enough out there for me to see the seams properly. Besides, it’s always nice to get outside.
  3. Most of the elephant was easy to do, remember this and when frustrated don’t spend an hour getting really worked up. Put the item down and go do something else.

So thank you Thomas Edison, again your words ring in my ears and I’ll be back to try Effie and Ollie. “Success is almost in my grasp.”


10 thoughts on “Good Advice, Thomas Edison

  1. Sewing frustrations, yes I’ve ran into those now and again. I do think your elephant looks cute. Where did you purchase the fabric? Have you ever used Fabric Mart? They have some lovely fabric and it’s fairly reasonably priced too.

    Good tip! When I get frustrated with a craft I take a time out and come back to it when I’m not so frustrated. Usually I’m fine in a few hours but on the rare occasion it might take days, lol.

    My nephew wants me to sew him a monkey and so I’ll most likely create a pattern so I can make it for him. Of course, this means I need to purchase proper “monkey material”. And I just realized, that I can now use my monkey fabric for the monkeys clothes. I most likely will use the fabric as embellishment instead of making it the fabric entirely out of monkeys. 😉

    Oh and I quite like skydiving, I started when I was about 27. I’ve always loved extreme sports. 😉


    • Q – Our daughter loves extreme sports. Um not me. 😎

      I just ordered some fabric from Fabric Mart. I purchased the fabric for the elephant at JoAnn’s. It was in a fat quarter bundle of five fabrics. Actually Curls saw the fabric first and showed it to me knowing it would be perfect for the elephants.

      I usually take breaks too. I was just so anxious to see how the elephant would look. LOL!


  2. I completely know what you mean. The eyesight problem just drives me crazy. And you are right… daylight is the best for seeing the tiny things these days. I have bifocals but they still don’t work as well as plain daylight. I also find in most things that stepping away with what is frustrating you helps you come back to it later with a fresh perspective.
    The elephant is darling and so worth the effort.
    Love it!


  3. Nothing can keep a good crafter down! We just have to “ad lib” a little from time to time. I can tell your little Elephant will work out splendidly in the end and clever you for modifying the pattern.


  4. Framkly, I don’t see the problem–and what is this for–tossing, teething, hugging? Your GRANDSON–do you real,ly think he wants an elephant????? You are trying to do too much at once as you would never have had such a problem…………..


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