Reflection: how sewing saved me in 2017

Just under a year ago I finally got around to resurrecting my sewing hobby. I hadn’t finished anything for about 20 years because I had been ‘too busy’ at work. During lunch with a buddy, we both discussed how we had let our love of sewing drift and agreed to get back into it together. During our post-lunch window-shopping spree, we ‘happened’ to wander into Ditto Fabrics and a couple of other stores en route and both bought fabric. Great you may think but those fabrics just went into the stash for another year or so. Finally, after a lot of dithering, I resolved to get back in, so now ‘free’ from work, I dusted off my sewing machine and had it serviced and started looking at old projects and new. I also started this little blog to chronicle my progress and I think to keep me going. The most effective thing I did was join Instagram in February. I never really was into IG because I didn’t think I had an “IG lifestyle” but I have found this so inspiring purely because it has given me an outlet for my creativity and it has provided such a lot of support. This has made want to sew and to share my progress. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bit of praise.

Once I had committed to sewing again, I had a big problem to solve, my dress form was kaput and I’m not earning so I cant just buy another. So I rebuilt her. This involved replacing the covering and shoring up the construction a bit. Not perfect, but fit for purpose once more. Never underestimate how much a dress form helps you sew. Once you have one it’s hard to do without.

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My refurbished  Venus dress form

Works in Progress and Stash-busting were my stated targets when I started but unfortunately, I still have many items waiting to be completed and my fabric stash has tripled in size!  I haven’t bought any more patterns though and I have drafted a few of my own which is a long-held dream.

The first thing I did, fittingly was a WIP. I have quite a few of them and one of the promises I made to myself was to complete those I still liked.

Yes, I used the very same fabric as the pattern sleeve, that’s how I roll sometimes.

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This little olive green skirt is really nice on a cold day with thick tights.

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Then I made a little present for my friend’s twins because I knit too!

Nothing much happened until February because… two weeks in Spain! Once back, I ventured into pattern testing and tried out @sinclairpattern’s first release, Clementine. Then I made @studiotkb Fallon and later J004 Kommattia Patterns’ great bomber jacket. It’s so inspiring to get involved with other makers.

I love to learn new things and as I’ve done so many of the ‘standard’ techniques I wanted to try something new. That something was underwear and while my first attempt at a bra didn’t come out too well, I did make some knickers and now making bras is on my Must Conquer list for 2018.

I made knickers, next year bras!

A dressmaking challenge had to be part of my immersion into the sewcialist community and I was delighted to participate in #sewtogetherforsummer a shirtdress challenge which yielded this great dress.

So many people, as well as me, loved this shirtdress

Ultimately I want to design and make my own patterns, this dress below is one of the first steps down that road.

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So pleased with this dress that I drafted myself and the little matching jacket.

My next makes were done in a bit of a frenzy as I wanted to take them on my first big trip of the year to Albania. These were a pair of jeans, constructed from the remains of a favourite pair used as the pattern. A pair of dress trousers made from one of my designer patterns from my stash and a T-shirt cloned from a favourite RTW top. These all made into my holiday wardrobe.

In between trips, we decided to refurbish our study which is also my sewing space. We were doing this in fits and starts and it definitely held up the making as one I was busy helping G rebuild storage and laying floor and painting and decluttering. It’s almost finished and will soon feature on a blog. However, it meant that only a couple more items were finished in 2017.

This unusual over-shirt for a fabric review for @minervacrafts (big thanks to them for helping a skint crafter to make stuff) and this self-drafted maxi t-shirt dress and this sewing puzzle twist front dress with bell sleeves, also self-drafted which is one of my favourites this year.

My biggest sewing problem if you can call it that is that my brilliant partner is determined that we spend this time together fruitfully. He’s already retired from his job, but I’m technically too young to retire although I’m enjoying ‘practising’. When I was struggling at work we made the decision, to live now and not wait for my planned early retirement date. I still don’t know how to thank him for helping me make that decision. Anyway, the problem is that we have been indulging our joint first love which is travelling. For the third year in a row, we have spent about a third of the year away from home. We were always fortunate with time as we were teachers and therefore had a good deal of leave to travel but now we have taken it to another level being able to travel for months at a time rather than weeks. Its been fantastic and I feel a bit churlish that this year I have been ‘missing’ sewing when we are away. Regardless of those time constraints, I am delighted by how much I have managed to create in 2017. There are still a few WIPs hanging about and plenty of makes, challenges and collabs in the pipeline for 2018.

My post is titled how sewing saved me, and that is how it did and still is. I think, overall, I’ve had a brilliant life so far, but recent times have been a bit hard emotionally and physically. I’d lost myself a bit. I’ve always advised other people to write a CV when they are feeling down. This look back at 2017 is in some ways a version of that. The nagging feeling of not being good enough goes away when I see what I have achieved. In addition, the encouragement of such a positive, supporting community has meant that I feel so much different than I did at the beginning of last year.

I’ve been enjoying sharing my 2017 projects and reading about those of a lot of other sewists, how did your 2017 makes go and what do they mean to you?

Elaine x

 

 

 

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Getting it going

The fact that I’m 50 is hardly news anymore but after a few months of easing into it, I have decided I have to make it count. This is sort of a collection of resolutions, too late really to actually be called New Year’s Resolutions as we are well into the New Year. However, my sort of retirement has made me decide not to wait any longer to catch up with all those things I have been telling myself I don’t have time to do because of the rigours of work. 

The notion of achieving some stuff came into my head along with the catchy (I thought so anyway) line “50 for 50”. I decided to make a list of 50 things I want to accomplish while I am still 50 …see? I’ve put myself under pressure as I no longer have a full year only 8 months, but I cannot let that deter me. The initial thing I am struggling with is the 50 things. 

This isn’t really a bucket list so it’s not going to be filled with ‘swimming with dolphins’ type nonsense although some of the things may be major. It will contain many more mundane things and need a lot of revisiting and completing. So here are my 50 (I hope there will be 50 eventually) for 50.


I can’t believe I can’t think of 50 – I’ll have to think about it some more…

I have tried to make these targets SMART however I am aware that not all of them are. However they are intended to make me healthier, better and happier with myself – not to create more way for me to get mad at myself.  So some are flexible and some have caveats that if I mostly meet them I will be satisfied. 

Now for the scary bit – I have to press publish …