So Much Sewing: Some Thoughts

6:20 PM

So as my regular readers may have noticed by now, in the month of July I was sewing up a storm. I signed up for the Pattern Stash contest at Pattern Review, hoping to inspire myself to get to some of those older patterns in my stash that looked good to me at the time but somehow never made it out of the envelope.

I discovered a few things about myself and my sewing while participating in a contest like this.

On the positive side, I did make 15 patterns! That is, quite literally, 5 times my normal output; usually if I make 3 things a month I feel impressed with myself. Only a couple of the things I tried this month were items that I ended up not liking -- most of them were really satisfactory. Out of everything that I sewed up, I think I'll be most likely to want to make these ones again:

Vogue 1247 -- a well-fitting, practical skirt
New Look 6977 -- an easy and pretty skirt
Simplicity 3790 -- wonderful pullover top that fits well
Kwik Sew 3756 -- unusual neckline, easy top -- it's all good
Kwik Sew 3559 -- the first thing I made this month; and it's been worn at least 10 times so far. Great pattern, wonderfully useful top. Definitely making this one again.

I enjoyed sifting through my older stash of patterns and matching them up with fabric stash -- got lots of ideas and even decided to give away some fabric that I didn't like anymore. Plus, I used nearly 19.5 yards of the stash in this month's sewing! I enjoyed having a deadline of sorts to keep me focused on my sewing, and I enjoyed how it helped me to stop dithering and just cut a pattern out already ;) I discovered that I like cutting out the next few projects all at once and then having them ready to go, even if I will be limiting that to only 3 projects cut out at once in future, to avoid the dreaded UFO.

However, this hyper-focus on sewing is not sustainable in my lifestyle. I also discovered this month that I am a slow sewer. To get 15 items sewn (many of which were "quick and easy" patterns) I had to spend the vast majority of my available time sewing. While I of course love to sew, I also have other things that need doing, and most of those things were entirely neglected this month -- and I'll be playing catch-up for the next week or so.

I also find that whenever I place myself under an obligation to do something (no matter what it is) I immediately begin to feel less excited about doing it. I don't want to rob myself of the joy of sewing, which is why I do it, so I don't think these kinds of competitions are in my future. Plus I don't like the feeling of comparing myself to others that contests engender, or the anxiety of not doing as much as I had thought I could...

Another element is that these kind of quantity contests mean you're in a rush and whipping things up -- and I found that I'm not interested in just making something for the sake of making it; I want to take more time over the things I'm making, and learn things with each project, and go the extra bit to line a skirt or add a nice seam finish, or rip out a zipper and do it over again. Or take on a difficult pattern and spend the whole month just fitting it and testing it. So while I did have fun this month, I have to accept that I am not a rapid stitcher who can turn things out instantly.

Despite all this, I thought this was a valuable experience -- I learned to think about sewing more consciously, and was able to make up some items that I was just not getting to, due only to procrastination. I streamlined my crowded sewing space to make it more functional, and went through my pattern and fabric stashes. I was inspired by other participants' makes and their sewing habits. Now to incorporate that into a more normal schedule for all that sewing ahead!

All photos via British Library on Flickr

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  1. Very impressive to sew 15 garments and nearly 20 yards of fabric in one month! I'm always threatening to sew more but so far the thrift stores are doing a good job of keeping my closet stocked. I didn't know about UFOs. :D Great. I have a ton of those lying around. The other day my dad asked me if I was taking in sewing jobs. :D

    1. LOL -- taking in sewing; you'd look like the lady in the first picture before long ;)

      I am now using the thrift store more as a source of fabric & patterns than finished clothing... once the sewing bug never quite recover...

  2. Oh I bombed sooo badly on that contest! Like you, any restrictions make my little feet drag. Suddenly I had a major urge to BUY MORE PATTERNS!!!

    1. I know what you mean -- I kept seeing new patterns and new fabric to buy that would OBVIOUSLY be more exciting to use -- was able to hold myself back, mostly...

  3. Well done for completing this challenge I am so impressed by what you achieved. It sounds like because you have taken the time to reflect you have also discovered a lot about yourself too. If you average 3 garments a month that's still very good going in my book I'm pushing it to keep up with the make one garment a month challenge.

    1. Thanks Tracy -- I think it's important to think about why you do the things you do ;) If I make 3 items a month I feel pretty chuffed; I joined the MGM challenge to keep me focusing on making at least one thing regularly -- I think it's more my speed than this kind of sewing frenzy!

  4. Yes, I too do not like pressure sewing - I like to always have something on the go, but I have enough pressures without that as well. That is why my challenges are rather low key - just to encourage us all to keep up with the journey, no matter how fast or slow.

    1. Yes, and I find that kind of challenge much more enjoyable -- no pressure, and chosen for the joy of doing it. It's really helpful, and I really enjoy your challenge -- doesn't have that kind of pressure.

  5. You had a fabulous seeing month. I think that anytime we take on a challenge, it becomes about so much more than we ever thought. We learn things about ourselves that other wise would not have come up.
    BTW, love the vintage pictures. A fun touch.

    1. Absolutely -- I learned a lot this month that I didn't expect to!

      The vintage pictures are from the British Library's Flickr stream; so many great library collections out there :)


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