Sew What? I Seek the Unusual and Find An Artisan
A recent soaking after I was trapped in a downpour did nothing to prolong the life of this pouch. It was clearly time to replace it. Despite the vast array of consumer goods for sale in store after store and mall after mall, there are some things, no matter how useful or necessary, that are just not easy to find. Pouches for monoculars are just such an elusive item.
In expensive camera and optics stores you can find a very few leather pouches, but they are not available in a range of sizes, and their design leaves much to be desired. I really hated the thought of paying more for the pouch than I had for the monocular, only to wind up with an unsatisfactory makeshift. I came up with what seemed the perfect plan.
I would locate someone who did custom sewing to make a pouch for me; in fact, I'd have them make pouches for all my monoculars, since the others I have are more awkward to use. I am no stranger to research, so I figured I'd just search for custom sewing services in Google, then e-mail some of the most promising candidates.
Usually, I can find whatever I want online within fifteen minutes. Half an hour after I'd begun my search, I was still wading through a list of services that seemed to limit themselves to extremely narrow niches. One site would do "window treatments" but nothing else, while another would do only dresses and skirts.
There were occasional sites that promised a broader range of services, but only for those willing to order industrial quantities. My monocular collection isn't that large, so I had to rule those out. By this time I was feeling quite discouraged. I'd traipsed through stores piled high with goods, only to find nothing that would suit me.
Now I was sifting the wide, almost limitless reaches of the Internet, and I still couldn't seem to find what I sought. No one but the impossibly wealthy can afford to have everything they own custom made, but it is nice to have options. Finally, far down the list of search results, I located a webring for sewing services. I began to make my way through the list of links in this webring, one at a time.
Site after site still offered me no hope at all. I was weary of the search and ready to give up, but decided to at least check all the sites in the webring before I quit. Finally, I found a custom sewing service which, while it didn't exactly offer or mention the type of thing I had in mind, didn't flatly rule it out, either.
I wasn't feeling very optimistic by this point, but decided I had nothing to lose by e-mailing them. I explained I was looking for something unusual, and attempted to describe what I wanted. I was more than half expecting to be told they didn't do that sort of thing. Instead, the artisan who owns this service replied by telling me she was willing to consider making what I wanted, but only if she felt she could do a good job!
She asked me for photos of the pouch I have, and warned me she wanted to consider what was involved before promising to undertake the project. I was amazed, and impressed! I had found a service willing to fulfill unusual requests, but only if those requests fall within their capabilities. And, despite the fact my e-mail made no secret of my desperation, the rough estimate she sent made no attempt to take advantage of that.
True, if she decides she can make them, each pouch will cost me more than it would if it was sold off the shelves in Wal-Mart. But anything made singly, by hand, costs a great deal more than mass-produced junk. I have no doubt these pouches will be better made, and of better materiel, than anything I might find in Wal-Mart.
And, of course, they won't be whipped out at a breakneck pace by slave labourers for barely enough pay to keep them alive and working. A few more dollars per pouch is surely worth better quality and a clearer conscience. All my effort and searching has paid off.
Despite my satisfaction with the result, this may seem an odd subject to blog about. I decided to do so for several reasons. First of all, perhaps I'll make the next person's search a bit easier. Second, and more important to my mind, is the fact that the world has far too few services like this anymore. The dedicated, skilled people who keep them going deserve our respect, our recognition, and our admiration.