One whole year of sewing not shopping.

One whole year.

I sewed it all for one whole year.

This time last year I was feeling quite anxious. What if it all went wrong at the first hurdle, what if I couldn’t exercise some self restraint as I walked past my favourite shop during the sales, what if I ran out of pants…???

No shopping, just sewing. For me that meant breaking the very expensive habits of a lifetime and going cold turkey. If I wanted something then I had to sew it, which meant sewing for work, play, conferences, weddings, building sites, the summer hols and on and on. Sewing without a safety net.

Lets be frank my skillset was limited.


Here it is. Everything I had made prior to my mad challenge.

Why, Oh why?

What made me want to sew my own wardrobe?

I needed something to anchor my year after a pretty rough 2015. Sewing became my self-prescribed therapy. I could sit and be miserable or I could do something and sew.


My brain has been full of patterns, fabrics and possibilities. I measured my body properly for the first time ever and began to understand what shape I am and how best to sew for the curves I was gifted by mama gene pool.

The how’s...

I am stubborn. I was born with my share, and several other peoples, of sheer bloody mindedness. This comes in handy when packing suitcases, moving furniture and learning a new skill. I call it the “it will freakin’ fit because I’ve willed to freakin’ fit” school of craft mindfulness. It works for me.


I have made tops from a 50cm remnant of fabric, created a sewing room from the kitchen table, squeezed and stretched and schedules to make sewing time (ta for that one CBeebies) and learned. It’s an occupational hazard, but a fair bit of research goes into everything that I make…and yes Instagram and Pinterest is research.


I’ve learned that mistakes can be feature, you can make them disappear into the bin and you can try, try again until you get it right.

I have a new love in my life, the orange wonder that is my Janome DKS30, this was purchased with the savings I’d made on not clothes shopping. If any beginners are reading this, I started out on the most basic Brother machine you can get and literally worked it into the ground. It’s really only fit for curtains after everything I put it through. You don’t need a fancy pants machine but it sure is nice to have an automatic buttonholer!

The importance of Instagram


Last year I used Instagram mainly to avoid photoshop and filter holiday snaps and now its become a record of my sewing life, even more so than my blog.

Through Instagram I have discovered an equally obsessive sewing community of like minded people who are also very cool in real life. In fact thanks to the ‘gram I threw caution to the wind and met up for what felt like a massive sewing blind date at Sew Brum this year!

Although, every now and again it is healthy to take an insta’break and look out the window or wander into a fabric shop.

Learning curve

Be brave. Be Bold. Cut the good fabric.

If someone had told me that i would proudly wear a jumpsuit, out of the house, as a fashion item in 2016 I might have sniggered a little bit. I’ve discovered that I can strike a pose, own my outfit and write a blog post.

Everything was a challenge. There were no home economics or craft lessons at my school, I had zero interest in sewing up until a couple of years ago, I wasn’t out of my comfort zone because I didn’t have one!

Learning how to sew is like learning a new language, and in fact I’ve been able to test this one out because my other language is French and I needed to learn a whole new French vocab list just to get through a simple pattern. Brain stretched.

Quitting shopping, cold vegan turkey.

Quitting the shopping habit of a lifetime cold turkey was almost as challenging as learning to sew. As a keen consumer of fast fashion my habit was indulged in all the usual places, Topshop, Primark, H&M, Zara, Mango, Uniqlo, Muji plus my love of ebay/ vintage/ charity shop stuff. I still look around the shops for inspiration and can’t help but to check the quality of the construction and quality of the fabric. To be honest most high street stuff leaves me feeling a little ‘meh’ now, my internal pattern library usually thinks huh I could make that myself it looks like a …insert pattern name here…and for half the price.

I’ve also found that there is one item that I would much prefer to buy than make. The Breton top. It’s just something that I like buying/ collecting in any number from everywhere I go. I just haven’t been able to find the right quality of fabric, with the correct stripe width and colours to make something I would be proud wearing for 10 years plus. There was a moment in a Uniqlo in Antwerp where it actually pained me to walk away from the best stripy top in the sale sigh… First world problems.


Of course fabric shopping is an excellent substitute for clothes shopping!

Me, me, me.

Of course this has been all about me. I started this challenge to focus on something new to help me through a rough patch. I needed something to occupy my brain and free time. Quite a few mindfulness people talk about the ‘flow’, doing something in which you can completely lose yourself and forget about day-to-day life. Sewing definitely has added some much needed stress relief and flow to my life as well as a very beneficial creative outlet where you get to wear what you create.

My biggest super proud moment was definitely my Deer and Doe Safran Jeans.

It was my Everest summit moment. I felt like I had climbed to the top of my skill level, breathlessly excited and in wonder that I had created actual wearable jeans. I can’t tell you how many people got to marvel at my bum as I showed off my jeans that day. Like I said, super proud.

Sewing has changed how I see myself and made myself more accepting of my body shape and the knowledge that clothes sizes are a bit of an illusion. You are the size you are, not the one that Topshop wrote on the label. If it fits, it fits.

What next?

As 2016 is hurrying towards it’s end, and we’re all holding our breath hoping that we’ve wrapped David Attenborough in enough bubble wrap to survive the year, I’m thinking what next?


I am going to continue expanding my handmade wardrobe…sorry instahusband we need a bigger closet.

The blog will continue but needs a stylistic tweak here and there

I will allow myself to buy Ready to Wear but with some interesting new criteria. Watch this space.

I’m going to apply some sanctions to my fabric acquisition process.

Thats just a flavour of things to come, more of my 2017 intentions in my New Year post. For now I’m looking back on one good sewing year.

And as for the pants…I made them. I wore them. But some things, dear reader are for Mr Instahusband only. Photographers perks.


Thank you for reading for a whole year! Thank you to all the people who’ve liked and commented and even told me in person how much they enjoy reading my blog. I am always honoured and totally embarrassed in equal parts! I’ll see you in 2017.

Madame Tifaine xxx


23 thoughts on “One whole year of sewing not shopping.

  1. Great post and lots of great projects! I’m very impressed with all the different sewing challenges you’ve tackled! Jeans! Shirts! Just to mention two things I’m still trembling before πŸ˜‰ All the best in 2017! I hope it brings you lots of great new sewing challenges (with positive ourcomes) πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fab post, I really enjoyed reading it. Going cold turkey is a bold move and you’ve done amazing!! I wanted to do textiles at school but they put me in woodwork for two years instead! Bloody mindfulness is a great attribute to have, I decided two years to make clothes and taught myself though blogs and Pinterest but I do need to throw caution to the wind more and take chances. Sewing is therapy and definitely gives me some of my sanity back, I wish had started sooner but I’m making up for all the lost years. The sense of achievement, accomplishment and pride I get with sewing is such a boost and one that I don’t really get elsewhere in my life, sewing rocks !!!!! I hope 2017 is a fab year for you, I look forward to getting inspired my your amazing makes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much and thank you for reading too! I hope that 2017 is the year of tackling those big sewing challenges and coming out victorious!! Have a happy new year!! 😘


  3. A fabulous blog post to end your year! You are so inspiring and I wish I had the guts to try all of the things you have, maybe soon! πŸ™‚
    I will continue to read your blog as I am now excited to hear what’s next! πŸ™‚ Thank you for taking the time out to write this blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a great reader of blogs but I love yours. Your writing, humour and sewing are all really interesting and entertaining to read. Well done on a year without RTW, genuinely I can relate to how difficult a challenge that was.
    I appreciate your help to get me connected to the IG sewing community, I really enjoy the connection to the world of sewing it has given me.
    Your achievements have been impressive and its good to hear sewing bought calm and focus at a difficult time. Its great to have you as a sewing friend you entertain and inspire me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sarah, thank you so much for your lovely comment! It really has made my day. Definitely the best part of the past year has been meeting some very lovely people like you both online and in real life. I love seeing all your makes on IG and hope that we can meet up again soon for more sewing chatter and cake! Happy New Year lovely lady 😘


  5. Hey I stumbled across your blog a few days ago and I’ve really enjoyed reading it. I’ve reached a sewing lull and you’ve inspired me to just cut and sew and stop thinking too hard and finding excuses. Thanks for the kick up the buttons and happy new year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Tif, what a bloody brilliant post, and an equally bloody brilliant year! Well done! I love everything you make, and the fabric you choose; both inspire me. The thing about buying Breton tops: yes. The thing about turning to your mental (and for me, Evernote based) pattern library to recreate a RTW garment: yes! And the thing about dressmaking making one more comfortable with their size and body: YES! Loved this post. Really looking forward to seeing your 2017. Hmm that sounds creepy, you know what I mean…right?! x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations on completing your goal! Very inspiring! I would love to interview you about what the year was like for you for the Clothes Making Mavens podcast, so please feel free to get in touch with me at if you are interested. (Couldn’t find your contact info to PM you.) Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, that must have taken some willpower, not shopping at all! You’ve made so manay pretty things this year! And i’m wondering, how do you make a shirt out of 50cm? Was that the pink top? It’s beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tif, I jut listened to your podcast on the ‘Clothes making maven’ podcast and am amazed at your perseverance or sheer bloody mindedness as you call it. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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