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.
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.
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.
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