Crafty Climbing Blog

The Climber Who Learned How to Sew – Marcin’s Hidden Talent

One of the most asked question that we get are the ones assuming that Karolina first started sewing chalk bags. Then I smile and say that it was not like that, I was the one and he had all the skill. People are always surprised, a guy climber who had sewing skill? How come? This is the story of my beginnings with sewing and how it all burst into life thanks to climbing.

Sewing is like riding a bicycle - you never forget it. Here I'm sewing Green Five Tooth Monster Chalk Bag

To be honest I do not even remember my first steps with sewing so it must have happened along with my first walking steps. Before I was even born my mom had a great and prospering sewing business. She made colourful and original clothes at the time when fashion in Poland could be described by two words – grey and boring. However it was also the time when the country started to become more and more rich and people could afford to buy something nice and fancy. That meant a lot of work for my mom. As she worked from home all the workshop and equipment was there too. I used to watch her work like preparing templates, cutting fabrics, sewing, adding buttons and other garment accessories. The child’s brain gets shaped like a plasticine and I gained all those skills. As a kid I have also become fond of bright and shiny colours and I always preferred lime green and energetic orange over black or grey. 

I love to wear energetic colours while climbing. It always gives me strength and motivation

Up until the moment when I started climbing I was not even aware of this sewing know-how. I never needed that. During the second year of my studies in Southampton in UK I came across climbing and I’ve met a lot of great people at the climbing wall. I got so much into this sport that I’ve decided to sell my performance mountain bike and buy all the climbing equipment and my first 2 weeks trip to Costa Blanca in Spain. I bought shoes, harness, carabineers and belay device but I had trouble with choosing my first chalk bag. All of those in the shop were grey or black – just like fashion in Poland 25 years ago… After a chat with my new climbing partner – Espen we have decided to make our chalk bags ourselves. How hard it can be?

He used to have a small domestic sewing machine so we needed to go to a shop to buy fabrics and all the haberdashery. I went for furry leopard and Espen chose flower fabric. It took us several hours to make them but I was surprised that with absolutely no practice I had so many ideas and solutions on how to sew the bags. We also had great fun while making them. 

This is the first chalk bag that I’ve made. I still have it at home and I am very proud of it :)

My first climbing trip to Spain where I tested my furry leopard chalk bag

I started to treat a chalk bag as a fashion item and I’ve made different unique patterns for different occasions. Winter was the time for upside down Santa’s hat, for spring I’ve made fresh green furry chalk bag, during summer I’ve used a yellow sunny bag and in the autumn I’ve come up with pumpkin chalk bag. All of my climbing friends were saying ‘Dude! You should make a business out of it!’ but I was never really sure about that. 

Winter is the time for Santa’s hat – here it helped me to climb my first 7a+ - Vanishing Point in Sokoliki – Poland

I’ve used this self-made sunny chalk bag during a climbing trip to Mallorca

Pumpkin chalk bag gives me some courage while trad climbing

Couple of years (and many chalk bags) later I’ve moved to Wrocław in Poland where I met Karolina. When we got together I really wanted to get a sewing machine to repair clothes, make some useful bags for climbing gear and obviously make some more chalk bags. Our friend decided to buy us a very old but reliable sewing machine as a birthday gift (it turned out that me and Karolina have birthday the same day!!). 

That’s when I really got into sewing. Pretty much every day after my work I went to second-hand clothes shop and got some old jeans, shirts or mascots. Karolina has discovered a potential there and decided to put them up for sale on Facebook. They were immediately bought by climbers. That is basically how we discovered that there is a big niche on the climbing chalk bags market. 

First chalk bags that we sew made of anything that we found in second hand shops

Our first chalk bags characters we made

The next step was teaching Karolina how to sew. To be honest she wasn’t very eager to learn it. She treated sewing as kind of black magic. It took me about 2 months to persuade her to start sewing but when she started I was amazed by how ambitious projects she took up. Some great and original chalk bags came out from Karolina’s hands. With little practice she discovered that designing new patterns and characters is her thing. Slowly the company structure was arising. 

Today Crafty Climbing is in a completely different place and I am proud of ourselves that we pulled it off. Looking back at this story always makes me smile. It also makes me wonder that everyone has some kind of skill in their life but it might be hidden. Sometimes you need a trigger to find it. Maybe somewhere around a corner there is your undiscovered talent. 


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