Me Made May: A Success Story!

Me Made May is officially at an end! Well technically it ends tomorrow – but I’m totally ready to celebrate a wonderful month. I posted at the start of May about my goals for the month. Essentially, I was just hoping to use the month as an opportunity to revisit some of my favourite me-made garments. I definitely didn’t think I would end up dressing in a me-made outfit every day – the weather in Missouri is pretty wildly hot at the moment and doesn’t totally accommodate my vintage wardrobe. But I gave the month a good shot and ended up feeling super accomplished.

One of the greatest things about the month is that it really hammered home where I need to focus my sewing efforts. I struggled to put together any completely me-made outfits (unless I was wearing a dress, of course) because I just don’t have any tops. Just realising that this is the case has motivated me to fill in my wardrobe gaps and, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m in the process of making a couple of new tops! I think Me Made May is an incredibly useful challenge through which to get totally acquainted with the state of your wardrobe and figure out where you could put in some extra effort. I’m genuinely really excited to move forward and create a complete wardrobe for myself. I owe a lot to Me Made May for giving me an opportunity to make a much-needed appraisal of my garments!

To those of you who decided to participate in Me Made May, I hope that you have had a similarly fabulous month of clothes! I’ll leave you with photos of some of my favourite outfits – you can also see more of this sort of thing by following me over on Instagram (there’s a link in the sidebar)!

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My flowery, dotty version of V1043

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The Veronika Circle Skirt from Megan Nielsen

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My favourite trouser pattern – the Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over It

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The Clemence Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons ‘Love at First Stitch’ book

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The Tyyni Cigarette Trousers from Named Clothing – with bonus Ron Weasley

Here’s to a year of making new, amazing clothes so that next May will be even more incredible!

It’s Lu-chee-ah!

I’ve finally calmed down after last week’s serger incident. Clementine and I are back on speaking terms and I’ve actually managed to finish my version of S8591, with no further attempts at sabotage! I was able to find a piece of fabric remnant in the bin large enough to cut out another ruffle for my sleeve so the whole project was salvaged. Hurrah! I’m beyond pleased about this because, honestly, this dress may be one of the prettiest I’ve made so far. Here’s a little sneaky peek for all of you Keen Katies (I don’t know if this is a thing, but we’ll go with it):

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Ok so it’s not much of a sneak shot but I don’t want to give too much away before I post the full photos next week. But, at the very least, you can see this beautiful fabric! I’m in love with it! I kind of picked it up on a whim – not particularly in love with it, but otherwise feeling that it would work well for the pattern. Also, it’s mint green which seems to have become a wardrobe staple of mine without me even realising it. However, once the pattern started coming together I could see how perfectly the fabric works. The dress is super flouncy and cute – the fabric definitely serves to really bring these characteristics out and adds wonderfully to the floral, summer vibe that I was shooting for!

So, yes, pretty pretty prettiness is on its way to you next week! In the meantime, I thought I’d do another project update – because, seriously, I’m whizzing through these patterns like nobody’s business right now. As predicted, my next pattern has not ended up being the Sew Over It Poppy Playsuit – although, it is a different Sew Over It pattern! I’ve decided to turn my hand to making a couple of versions of the new Lucia Top! Since I’m a member of the Sew Over It PDF Club (so exclusive, I know!), I actually got an email about this pattern a few days before it was released. I knew immediately that I wanted to make it – although I didn’t jump on it fast enough to get the discount that came with the email. Still, I’m super excited for this pattern and having even more ruffles in my life!

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I think that I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been wanting to make more separates. Taking part in Me Made May has definitely shown me how woefully lacking I am in this department. I have lots of bottoms – trousers, skirts – but only one top (and since it’s very floral and sheer, it’s not particularly versatile). So one of my goals for the coming months is to spend a bit more time filling in the gaps. This isn’t an easy task for me. I started sewing largely because I wanted to make lovely vintage clothes, and I will always be most drawn to beautiful vintage patterns. However, there’s a definite discrepancy between my everyday wardrobe and the things I make. I’m not a pin-up model and I don’t live in vintage clothes. I love them and I love to wear them, but it’s also not feasible for me to be walking the dog in 35C weather or doing yoga in a 1950s dress.

At the start of the year, I actually set out one of my sewing objectives as finding more of a balance between everyday and vintage patterns. I think I’ve mostly achieved this – what with the Ultimate Trousers and the Ginger Jeans. But, honestly, I find the idea of sewing tops really boring. So I’ve never wanted to invest any time in it. That said, I’m keen to really fill out my wardrobe and I figure that the nice thing about tops is their relative lack of time investment! I’ve already cut out the Lucia pattern and it’s only 3 pattern pieces. That’s definitely refreshing! Since I’m committed to making some versatile wardrobe staples, I’ve also decided to make my initial versions in just plain knit fabrics – one black and one white. I think these will work really well with the skirts and trousers that I’ve already made – plus, I can always make more exciting versions in the future!

So that’s my sewing life at the moment. I’ll definitely have some new bits and pieces to show you next week! In the meantime, if you missed it, you can check out my last post Sewing For Self-Care: A Round-Up to check out what’s been happening on the blog over the past few months!

 

 

Sewing For Self-Care: A Round-Up

Being able to post about sewing and its relationship to self-care is probably my favourite thing about running Sew For Victory. I think that so many of us who have battled – or are battling – with mental illness struggle to find a meaning to it. When you’re experiencing something that you wouldn’t wish on anyone, it’s difficult to justify why you should have to suffer through it yourself. Using my blog as a platform to discuss mental health and highlight the incredible benefits that a creative outlet can have for all of us is just one way that I’ve been able to give some sort of meaning to my experiences. And I believe that this search for meaning may be one of the reasons why sewing works so effectively in helping us to manage our mental health. Not only is a great distraction from various external and internal goings-on, it’s a channel through which we can direct our emotions – sadness, stress, anxiety, happiness, or otherwise – and create something meaningful. I don’t even think it matters what you end up creating – a garment, a painting, or a doodle. Because the meaning behind it is there, regardless.

Opening up the blog to other sewist’s stories about sewing and mental health has been an incredible experience. I am honestly humbled by the fact that anyone would want to share such personal stories with an unknown audience, but it’s a testament to those amazing bloggers and the power of this conversation. Although I see the taboo around mental health decreasing in many respects, it still feels to me as though society is most comfortable when it is a conversation being had behind closed doors. Not only does this do little to dispel the ignorance around mental illness, it’s also incredibly dangerous to individuals who are struggling to find a path forward. My hope in starting the Sewing for Self-Care: Your Story series – and writing about my own struggles separately – was to start an open and honest conversation about mental health and the way that creativity can help us navigate the psychological storms.

So far, I’ve had three fantastic bloggers share their stories:

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  • Jenny from Jenny DIY wrote about using sewing as a means to manage anxiety, as well as the complex relationship between self-care and mental health.

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Each of these amazing individuals spoke openly about the ways in which sewing has helped them to manage mental illness and practice the self-care that we all so desperately need. Their passion for sharing the benefits of creativity is evidenced by their total willingness to share their struggles on a blog that is not their own with a whole host of people that they don’t know. It’s this kind of courage that makes me believe we truly will reach a point where conversations about mental health are no longer ‘closed door’ discussions but are ones that we aren’t afraid to have wherever we choose to.

If you would like to add your own voice to this conversation about sewing and self-care, I would love to have you. You can read the original post or simply email me laura@sewforvictory.co.uk to share your thoughts!

Since starting the Sewing For Self-Care: Your Story series, I’ve also shared some additional resources of my own. One of my favourite posts to write was Sewing For Self-Care: The Science Behind Creativity And Mental Health. The more I’ve been writing about sewing and self-care, the more interested I’ve become in the the objectively verifiable ways that creativity can help us to manage our mental health. Although it is an area of increasing interest for academics and professional mental health practitioners, I found a lot of evidence from studies already conducted that indicates a strong positive relationship between creativity and recovery from mental illness. Although a creative hobby is obviously no replacement for professional intervention – whether through doctors or therapists – it is so encouraging to see evidence that points to the benefits of creative outlets in managing our mental health!

I also recently shared one of my favourite posts of personal tips in Sewing For Self-Care: Managing Motivation. My levels of motivation are definitely a strong indicator of where I stand with my mental health on any given day. It ebbs and flows with my mood. Even if you’ve never struggled with mental illness, you’ve likely encountered the ways in which our drive to get things done tends to fizzle out when we’re faced with particular emotions – typically stress or anxiety. Over years of learning to manage my motivation when my mental health isn’t so great, I’ve developed a few different techniques that tend to work in giving my the motivation boost that it needs. Writing this post was a great personal reminder of the fact that I have all of the tools at my disposal – sometimes it’s just about clearing the mental fog so that I can access them!

So that’s a round-up of my most recent batch of Sewing For Self-Care posts. Definitely check out anything you’ve missed and be sure to show your support to the incredible bloggers who’ve shared their stories here. If you’d like to participate in the Sewing For Self-Care: Your Story series, please do be sure to get in touch. Even if you aren’t keen to have anything published on Sew For Victory but just want to talk, you can use any of the many social media avenues (linked at the top of the side bar) to reach out to me. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves.

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Enemy No. 1: Laura’s Serger

If you read last week’s project update post, you’ll know that I’m working on a new super cute vintage dress. I’m pretty obsessed with the pattern and the fabric is definitely a summer dream – so, needless to say, I got to work on it almost as soon as my Vintage Shirt Dress was finished up! So far, the construction process has been pretty amazing. I sometimes have problems following patterns from the bigger companies, mostly because they usually seem to assume a certain level of pre-existing knowledge about the pattern. Although I definitely think I’m past the point of being a beginner to sewing, I still appreciate a beginner’s approach to pattern instructions – an approach that I generally find it pretty typical with the various indie companies I’ve used.

That said, Simplicity is usually pretty good at giving enough instruction to avoid substantial problems and S8591 has been quite true to this trend so far. So, unusually, this mid-construction update post is not an opportunity to get frustrated with complicated instructions. Instead, I’m going to rant about my new ENEMY NUMBER 1 – Constantine the Serger.

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Although we’ve had our run-ins on a fairly regular basis (usually when he refuses to create a proper chain after my fifth rethreading), we’ve always found a way to work through our issues. In fact, I have always pretty well raved about him at any given opportunity. Serged edges look so professional and overlocking them has removed virtually all of my anxiety over washing my me-made garments for fear of fraying. I totally recommend a serger to anyone who is looking to take their sewing to the next level. They’re a pain to learn to thread for sure, but they’re definitely a worthwhile investment. This is not a statement that remains specific to my serger, however. He’s turned on me.

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The ironic thing with this incident is that I wasn’t even serging anywhere near the sleeve ruffle. The sleeves had been done and dusted for a while by this point – and that’s what makes this even harder to accept. I was serging the back seams and *somehow*, right at the end of the back seam, the sleeve just up and practically walked itself under the knife and needles. I genuinely have no idea how it happened. In fact, I am ridiculously careful anytime I have anything to do with cutting or finishing seams – largely because of the incident last year where I accidentally cut a massive hole in the back of my wedding dress muslin whilst trimming seams.

So there is no conclusion possible other than my certainty that Constantine the Serger is determined to destroy my projects and, ultimately, my life. If I never post again, you can assume he’s taken his quest for vengeance to its inevitable conclusion. But if I survive, you’ll find me digging for fabric remnants in the bin, in the hopes that I’ll find a piece large enough for a brand new ruffle! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

Vintage Shirt Dress (Sew Over It)

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My second make of Me Made May is here! And while I’m very aware of the fact that I call every new make my favourite, I think the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress might legitimately be one of my favourite patterns of all time. I’ve had it in my stash for ages – I bought it not long after I started sewing in 2015. But, I just never got around to making it. There were really two reasons for my avoidance: (1) I just couldn’t seem to find a fabric that stuck out as being super perfect for a shirt dress; and, (2) I was legitimately concerned about making that many buttonholes look neat and lined up. So I let the pattern gather dust on two separate continents, until I came across what is *definitely* my favourite fabric of all time – the Le Map design by Dear Stella.

All it took was a little Parisian flavour to make this amazing pattern happen. And, now, here’s the finished product….

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How many ways can I express my love for this pattern? I think one of my sewing mantras is fast becoming ‘when in doubt, make a Sew Over It pattern.’ Because they are SO easy to work with. I very rarely have issues with sizing, following instructions, or the fit. The process is just clean from start to finish.

As with my previous encounters with Sew Over It patterns, I used the size guide to determine the sizes I would cut – although I can’t remember which sizes these were. And I made zero alterations to the fit. The resulting fit is perfection. Just the right amount of ease whilst still looking tailored to my body. Just another success story for Sew Over It pattern sizing!

The construction itself posed few issues. I’d decided from the beginning that I wanted to make the version of the Vintage Shirt Dress with sleeves (there is a sleeveless version). I just really love the cuffs and am generally a sleeve gal. If you read my previous mid-construction post, you’ll know I had a problem figuring out the sleeves – the only construction issue that I ended up encountering. I would retype the whole saga here but it’s probably easier if you just follow the link to an explanation of my issues with sorting out the cuffs. Although I definitely think the pattern instructions could’ve been clearer on this point, it wasn’t a tough issue to resolve and I ended up with some super cute cuffs once I figured out the problem!

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Another feature of this pattern that I love is the skirt. I think the little pleats on the front are just adorable. They give the skirt a bit of extra shape and just make the whole dress look even cuter. I’m fortunate that the cotton I used was relatively weighty, which definitely helped to give the skirt a bit of extra structure and encouraged the pleats stand out.

I also needn’t have worried about the buttons. Going in, I was concerned about sewing the buttonholes without having them look wonky or misplaced. I’ve only had one experience sewing multiple buttonholes and that was with my Beignet Skirt a couple of months into my sewing journey. Needless to say, the buttonholes weren’t very well aligned! So I took extra time to make sure that my measurements were correct for each of the buttonholes on the Vintage Shirt Dress. It’s a good idea to experiment with button placement before sewing, just to make sure that you don’t end up with any gaping over the bust. Personally, I just ended up following the button placement as on the pattern and the dress is perfectly closed the whole way down the dress – no gaping at all!

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Another super sweet feature of this pattern is the neckline. I love the collar and lapels! They definitely give the dress its ‘shirty’ feel! In order to achieve a really crisp shape, I ended up using a medium-weight interfacing. This gets attached to the fabric facing and then sewn down the back and front of the dress. The combination of fabric and interfacing has worked incredibly well in this case – once pressed down, there’s been no movement from the lapels or collar. So they’re pretty reliably in place, meaning that I’m not having to constantly reposition them or press them back (which I find is often the case with lapels). So, if you’re thinking about making this pattern, the weight of the interfacing is definitely an important consideration!

Construction-wise, the collar and lapels were actually super simple. I did have a problem with size disparity between the facing and the dress shell. After attaching the iron-on interfacing, I found that it had shrunk the size of the facing slightly. So, when pinning the facing to the dress – specifically the collar – I did find that I had to stretch the facing out a bit in order to get it to fit. This didn’t end up posing much of a problem and the size discrepancy wasn’t especially big, but it’s definitely worth being aware!

I also just want to give a shout out to Sew Over It for the fact that their instructions include mentions of when it’s appropriate to finish your raw edges or seams. I think Sew Over It is the only pattern company I’ve used that does this, and it helps so much! I love that the pattern tells me where/when to serge so I don’t have to debate when it’s most appropriate. It also stops me waiting until the whole garment is together and having to spend hours just serging seams and feeling that life has lost all meaning.

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So, in summary, make this dress! I’m actually debating whether I’ll end up using my new fox fabric to make another version, because I’m so in love with this pattern. I think the whole thing probably came together in about 8ish hours (not including pattern/fabric cutting time) so it’s not too big a time investment either!

I think there are so many amazing things you could do with this pattern: add piping to the front; put ruffles on the ends of the sleeves instead of cuffs; add pockets! Or just make it as it is and you’ll still end up with a super chic dress! I’m really excited to experiment with some more versions of the Vintage Shirt Dress. Definitely the perfect make for a beautiful summer!

 

New Projects: Foxy Cotton and 1960s Ruffles

Starting off this post with a big thank you for the response to my Ginger Jeans! I’m definitely super pleased with how they turned out. And, seriously, if you think jeans are beyond your reach, I promise you they aren’t. You’ll just have to trust me and give the Ginger Jeans a go!

With the Ginger Jeans ticked off my list and my Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress all finished (photos to come soon and boy is this dress a stunner!), I’m turning my mind to some new projects. I’ve had my eye on a couple of patterns for a while and, with summer now fully here in St Louis, it’s time to get sewing a few more heat-appropriate outfits! So let’s take a look at what I’ll be working on…

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S8591 is a pattern that I’ve been lusting after for some time. I’m often found perusing the vintage section of Simplicity’s website when I have an overwhelming desire to sew something vintage-inspired. Fortunately, on one of my frequent trips to Joann’s, I came across the pattern in one of their pattern sales! I can’t remember how much I ended up paying, but I think it was 50% off. Bargain! Obviously, after finding the pattern, I had to uncover the perfect fabric. As soon as I saw this cotton, I knew it was the one! Mint green is my favourite. Plus there are gold butterflies! I mean, really, what could be better? Another outfit that will match my favourite mint green petticoat and shoes (are you sensing a theme?)!

I’ve already started work on S8591 (hence the crumpled pattern sleeve!). Fingers crossed that it’ll be an easy breezy construction process and I’ll wind up with a perfect summer dress!

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The second project I have in mind is the Sew Over It Poppy Playsuit, using this gorgeous floral crepe. I’ve wanted to sew a playsuit for ages. I actually own one that I bought from Modcloth ages ago but the fit isn’t great. Which is a shame because it’s super cute and covered in an umbrella pattern. I mean, it’s fine and comfortable as long as my arms are down by my side. But as soon as I raise them, it gets super uncomfortable in the crotchal region. I figure sewing my own playsuit will probably give me the best chance of actually owning something that fits properly. I’m planning on making the version with the shorter legs because SUMMER!

Right now, the plan is to work on the jumpsuit after I finish S8591. However, we all know that I have a propensity to get wildly off track when it comes to my sewing plans. I get distracted by shiny new patterns and fabric. So, while I’m sure the playsuit will happen (probably this year), it’s anyone’s guess whether it will get sewn any time in the near future!

My final project isn’t really a project. It’s another AMAZING fabric for which I have some vague ideas…

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Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the pure sweetness of this fabric. I found this in one of my favourite local fabric stores. I don’t shop there much since we moved to the city – also, they don’t really do sales or discounts so all of their fabric is on the pricey side. That said, I totally couldn’t resist this cotton. It’s actually – totally incidentally – designed by Dear Stella Designs, who also created my favourite Parisian fabric! Clearly they have a knack for making incredibly cute cottons.

Anyway, my plans for this fabric are to make a summer skirt – probably on the longer side (just past the knees/mid-calf, I’m thinking) with some pleats for shape. The main issue is that the fabric doesn’t have a lot of width to it. I think it’s about 43″ wide and I have roughly 4 yds (I bought it a while ago, so my memory is evaporating – it could be 3.5 yds). I like the skirt version of Sew Over It’s Rosie Dress (and it has an option for fabric that’s 1.15m wide) but I do prefer the skirt of the Elsie Dress (which doesn’t have a 1.15m option). So I’m a bit stumped on what to do. If you have any pattern ideas that fit the bill and maybe look a little more pleated – like the skirt of the Elsie dress – definitely leave me a comment! I really don’t want to use the fabric on a pattern that I’m not hugely enthusiastic about since (1) it was expensive, and (2) I really like it!

Those are all of my current project updates! I’m also in the process of putting together a list of patterns that I want to get through this year. There are about 15 items so it’s definitely overly-ambitious. But participating in Me Made May has shown me that my wardrobe is dramatically lacking in separates (I have literally no tops). So my goal is to start spending more time on ‘small’ projects – where I can, perhaps, make multiple versions of a pattern to fill my every day wardrobe. Ideally, I’d like to get to a place where I can put together a good number of self-made outfits (not counting dresses) and mix-and-match what I have. So wish me luck!

I’ll be back next week with some pics of my new Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress and the usual does of Laura’s internal ramblings. In the meantime, have an amazing weekend!

Sewing for Self-Care: Managing Motivation

Motivation is a fickle thing. We all find ourselves subject to its whims, usually at the most inconvenient of times (hello deadlines!). To see peaks and troughs in your daily drive is totally normal. Things like energy level, social interactions, and even the weather can impact our desire to get things done. When it comes to practicing good self-care, however, our general levels of motivation can be both an excellent sign of our current state and a great place from which to build ourselves back up.

My motivation is perhaps the most effective indicator of my state of mind. When I’m feeling acutely anxious or depressed, my ability to get things done flies out of the window and away to some far-off land. It’s not necessarily a question of desire. I usually know what I need to do to put myself back on a positive path. But knowing and doing are two very different things. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve become stuck in a cycle of knowing what I ‘should’ do and criticising myself for my failure to do it. This is neither helpful nor compassionate.

Over many years of handling these lengthy dips in my motivation, I’ve developed some pretty helpful techniques to get myself moving again. I like to think of it like giving a car a jump start. Since this is a sewing blog – and I’ve written before at length about why sewing/creativity is so valuable to mental health– these tips are written with creative hobbies in mind. They are techniques that I apply specifically to my sewing, although I’m sure that they could work equally well elsewhere. The tips I’ve put together in this post are also framed by my own battles with mental health, so they’re particularly sensitive to that. However, I definitely find myself applying some of these tools on days where I’m perfectly happy but just ‘can’t be bothered’. So hopefully there’s something for everyone!

*This post isn’t intended to serve as either a diagnosis of or a treatment for mental illness. I write about sewing and self-care because, for me, creativity helps to bolster a positive outlook and has assisted my recovery. However, sewing is not a panacea. I was helped by doctors and therapists, as well as a host of other important interventions. If you’re struggling with your mental health, please reach out to a professional or someone you trust.*

  • Be Kind

If life were accompanied by its own set of rules, I would campaign for this being number one. We forget it far too often, particularly when it comes to our relationships with ourselves. I want to begin with this tip because it should frame your understanding of the others. Nothing that I’m saying in this post should be a starting point for self-criticism. I’m presenting a number of techniques that work for me when I’m struggling to find motivation. But there are days (and, let’s face it, weeks) where nothing is quite able to penetrate the walls of negativity that I’ve put up around myself.

If you find days or weeks where your motivation wanes – when you just can’t get yourself to the sewing table – it’s ok. The worst thing that you can do is add a layer of self-criticism into the mix. It will only further diminish your motivation. I mean, who has ever told themselves ‘I’m such a failure’ and felt more desire to get things done? Kindness should be your watchword. When I’m in a mindset of self-compassion, I usually find that my periods of low motivation pass by the fastest. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Few of us are taught to cultivate self-love. But learning to be kind to yourself truly is the jumping off point for all great things.

*A side-note: I always struggled with the whole concept of self-compassion. On bad days, I still do. If you’re having difficulty developing a mindset of kindness, I highly recommend looking up metta meditation (there are some on the Insight Timer – a free meditation app that I use). I know this isn’t everyone’s thing – and it’s totally not sewing related – but it’s a really incredible tool!

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  • Small, Achievable Tasks

Now we’re on to the concrete stuff! One of the greatest drains on our motivation – particularly when it comes to creative projects – is looking at a big task as one complete whole. Creative hobbies are often very involved, with lengthy projects. If you can only see the long hours ahead of you from start to completion, is it any wonder that your motivation to get started might disappear?

When I’m feeling anxious or depressed, it’s really easy to get stuck in a feeling of overwhelm. Everything becomes a bit overwhelming – getting up, getting dressed, showering, eating. When you’re investing so much energy to just do the things that you need to (like eating), thinking about an optional hobby like sewing becomes totally unimaginable. However, doing something creative is also a powerful path back towards yourself. The important thing is working to build a bridge between your current state and a place that gives you enough energy to work with something creative. To make this achievable, it’s so important to break any projects down into bite-size chunks – little tasks that could be accomplished in a really short amount of time.

The great thing with sewing is that our projects already come packaged in steps. Writing these steps down in a list can be really helpful – i.e. sew front bodice to back bodice; insert zip etc. Doing this condenses the instructions even further and makes them appear even more manageable. You can break the steps down as much as you want, to meet the demands of your life. Sometimes motivation wanes simply because we have so much else going on. Having bite-size tasks that can be accomplished in five minutes is a great way to get in some creative time, regardless of what else is happening!

A word of warning – don’t rely on yourself to do a task breakdown when you’re in a low place. When you’re already lacking motivation, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to invest energy in this. I tend to do a project breakdown at the start of each new project – this allows for any bad days and gives me a pre-existing list that I can turn to at any time.

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  • Create A Multi-Purpose Space

Like me, you may be lucky enough to have a designated sewing space. They’re truly a gift. However, when my motivation to sew has evaporated, having everything contained in a separate room becomes a bit of a problem. I just avoid the space like the plague and don’t have to think about anything sewing-related. When I had a sewing area incorporated into my living space, I found myself sewing a lot more when motivation was low. This is largely because I would find myself walking past my sewing area, seeing something that needed doing, and just getting on with it.

Now I’m not suggesting that we evacuate our sewing rooms. But it’s helpful to find small ways of making the space feel more multi-purpose. A lot of this is about using the room’s advantages. If, like me, you have a big window, adding a comfy chair for reading in the sunlight might be a great option. If your room is hidden away as an escape from the family, capitalise on that! Add a kettle and some snacks, or a blanket so that you can take a cat-nap. Basically anything that gives the room an added, non-sewing purpose. This way, you’ll find yourself going to your sewing room even when sewing motivation is low.

Where this isn’t possible, it might help to develop a list of non-sewing tasks that can be accomplished in your sewing room. I like to clean my room in between projects, for example. Often, cleaning feels much more achievable than sewing does. Sometimes I like to reorganise my patterns or fabric stash. Alternatively, maybe you have some decoration ideas in mind to brighten up your room. For more on this, see the ‘Emergency Tasks’ tip at the bottom of the post!

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My sewing room is super small. But I recently moved my mannequin so that I could throw some cushions down and read in the sunlight. I’ve ended up spending way more time in my sewing room and, often, will just wind up doing some actual sewing!

  • No Zero Days

The ‘No Zero Days’ mindset has been one of the most valuable tools at my disposal in confronting my motivation. The idea is that you work out the things that you want to achieve and commit to doing something towards that goal every day. No Zero Days. For me, this means doing something sewing-centric (choosing a project, working on pattern construction etc.) and something blog-centric (writing a post, replying to comments, social media posting etc.) each day.

The No Zero Days mindset is great because it gives no requirements on how much or how little you do. You’re simply committing to doing something. Even if it’s 11:30 a night and the day has totally passed you by, there’s always something you can do. Make a list of things you could post about on your blog this week, trawl through some online fabric shops to help plan your next project. Just do a little bit of something – even if there’s no way that you can drag yourself to your sewing table today.

Always remember, however, to forgive yourself. If there’s a day when you just can’t get anything done – you’re too distracted, too low, or otherwise – be kind. It’s no big deal. Learn from it and move on. You’ll do even better tomorrow!

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But really, where would I be without my bullet journal?

  • Emergency Tasks

Along with my breakdown of bite-size tasks, I always like to keep a list of ’emergency’ tasks. These are to accommodate my worst days and help me stay on track with my ‘no zero days’ commitment. Essentially, these should be tasks that you think you might be able to achieve if all else fails – and they can be tailored to the things you most struggle with. For example, when I’m in a state of particularly acute anxiety and panic, distraction and absorption become my priorities. I can typically get about the apartment just fine but my mind is racing non-stop. Tasks on days like that are typically focussed on things that I find really absorbing – so it’ll be sitting on the sofa with RuPaul’s Drag Race on TV and doing some cross-stitch. Relatively low effort but still super engaging for my mind. Alternatively, on days when I’m just super low, my priority is typically to get my body moving. Those are the days when I would work on cleaning my sewing room, reorganising my stashes, or otherwise. I might also set aside some hand stitching that I can do in a comfortable seat.

The important thing here is to work with yourself – that’s what makes this a self-care centric practice. Do some experiments. Watch yourself as your motivation peaks and troughs, see what works when you’re in different states of mind. Trial and error is no bad thing. This should be tailored to you and your needs.

This is true for everything I’ve listed. These are tips that speak to my personal experience. Although I believe that they can be translated to different people and different experiences, they might not appeal to you. And that’s ok! Maybe they simply give you ideas of your own that you can adapt to suit you. I wrote this post as something of a guide for potential ways to navigate low motivation. More than that, however, it should hopefully show that there are ways – even on our bad days – when we can move ourselves forward whilst always respecting our needs in any given moment. It’s not about forcing, pushing, or criticising. Rather, it’s about attentiveness and limitless compassion to ourselves – this picture will always look different, depending on your situation and frame of mind. Just be kind to yourself and the rest will certainly follow.

If you have any of your own tips to share – or general thoughts to add – please comment below! I’m always super excited to hear what other people do and have a conversation about the many aspects of using sewing for self-care!

Ginger Jeans (Closet Case Patterns)

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I’m officially a jeans champion! My foray into the world of trousers is only relatively recent and, before the Ginger Jeans, I had only two pairs under my belt (*pun SO intended*). Before this, trousers were super intimidating to me. I’ve always struggled to buy them because they are either too small for my hips or too big on my waist/thighs. I guess I thought that any attempt at making trousers would revolve around the same difficulties. But with the success of the Tyyni Cigarette trousers and Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers, I started to think that jeans might actually be a possibility. To me, jeans seem like the pinnacle of trouser-based achievement. And, honestly, I would’ve probably avoided making them forever if holes hadn’t started to appear in my favourite store-bought pair!

Fortunately, I’d heard so many good things about the Ginger Jeans pattern that I knew immediately that it was the one I wanted to try. I’m so glad I did, because these jeans are AMAZING!

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Miss Elizabeth Bennet has the tongue of three dogs. (please read in context)

When I committed to making jeans, I knew that I didn’t want to go with conventional denim. So I traipsed around Joann’s for a while, trying to find something sufficiently different from the norm. Fortunately, I came across this amazing anchor denim and I knew that it was perfect! The pattern suggests using stretch denim with at least 2% lycra – this fabric met the specifications, so I was good to go!

Because I’m a terrible person, I once again refused to make a muslin. I don’t think I’ve ever made one and, unless something is super critical or complex, it’s unlikely I will. That said, don’t let me discourage you from your muslin-making ways! I promise, you are infinitely more patient and practical than I! So, as per my usual method, I simply traced off the appropriate pattern sizes (I think 10 waist, 12 hips) and hoped for the best. Fortunately, the fit is dead right with no alterations and I wouldn’t change anything on my next go round!

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Let’s talk details. One of the most intimidating things about making jeans has to be the endless topstitching. I’ve done a bit of topstitching in the past and always enjoy the finish that it gives to a garment. But there is a LOT of topstitching on jeans and, in most cases, it’s going to be pretty visible. I realised early on, however, that although I couldn’t escape the visibility of my topstitching, I could let go of my compulsive need to have it all look totally perfect. Because while there is a lot of topstitching, this just makes it even less likely that someone’s eye will be drawn to that little wave of stitching where you veered off course. I actually didn’t find the topstitching a problem at all – I took it slowly, practiced things like bar-tacking on spare fabric first, and just generally didn’t worry about it not being perfect. I highly recommend not worrying!

If you are really worried about it, you might want to consider investing in an Edge Stitch Foot. This was one of the recommendations made by some of my lovely readers when I put out a call for help on topstitching in the middle of fabric. In the end, I wasn’t patient enough to wait for a new foot – so I just estimated and went for it. Next time around, I think I’ll get a proper foot, just to make the whole process easier. The main issue is that you can’t really mark on your fabric for topstitching (unless you have a super reliable way that is guaranteed to wash off). But an Edge Stitch Foot will definitely save you a lot of time and anxious energy!

One thing I adore about this pattern is its attention to all of the details that you find on store-bought jeans. The topstitching replicates almost exactly what you would see on any pair – same with the bar-tacking and the pockets! Of course, you could sew the pattern without any of these extra details and it would still make a great pair of trousers.

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The pockets are especially cute! I was really intimidated when I saw the various pocket components (coin pockets, yokes, regular pockets etc.), thinking that it was going to end up being a complicated process. But it ended up being truly simple. In fact, although there were definitely parts of the overall pattern construction that gave me pause and I had to play through in my mind a few times, there really weren’t any stumbling blocks. If you’re going to make the jeans, I highly recommend referring to the Ginger Jeans Sew-Along tutorials. I found these posts incredibly helpful. They elaborate on the instructions included with the pattern and are accompanied by detailed photos of every construction stage. In some instances, the tutorial also offers alternatives to the methods included in the pattern instructions. So if you’re stumped by anything, checking the Sew-Along posts is definitely a good idea!

Now for the scary bit – the fly! Making the Ginger Jeans wasn’t my first time installing a fly. I’d worked through this process on the Tyyni trousers and, although it was definitely complicated, it wasn’t as horrendous as I expected. That said, the Ginger Jeans take the process to a whole new level of simplicity. The fly is probably the most impressive part of the jeans (to me) because it looks so professional, both on the outside and the inside of the jeans. As much as I would love to take credit for this, I literally just followed the instructions.

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Where the fly on my Tyyni Trousers definitely looked a bit ragged on the inside, the construction on the Ginger Jeans is just so clean. I don’t think I’ve had a make that looks so well put-together internally! Having a serger definitely helped with this (especially because denim can fray like nobody’s business). If you don’t have a serger, zigzag stitching will work just as well, and will still help to capitalise on the super clean look that is basically inherent to this pattern.

I genuinely have nothing bad to say about the Ginger Jeans. They’re amazing. The jeans are definitely a time investment – just switching thread back-and-forth for topstitching takes up about 10 hours (I joke but it really does feel this way). All things considered, however, I was honestly so impressed with how quickly the jeans came together. I will definitely be knocking out more of these in the future.

Although the construction is complex enough that I probably wouldn’t recommend the pattern for beginner, you could definitely make these jeans with relatively little sewing experience. Using the Sew-Along for reference, as well as the pattern instructions, you could easily make a great pair of jeans! I’ve learnt so much from sewing this pair but without any struggle or frustration – which, to me, is the mark of a truly well-made pattern.

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Same jeans, different angle.

So if you’re debating whether or not to make your own jeans, debate no longer! Trust me when I say that the Ginger Jeans pattern will get you where you want to go. You will end up with a beautiful pair of jeans and feeling like the trouser ninja that always were inside!

Me Made May is Underway!

May brings us so many joyous things – better weather (sometimes), bank holidays (depending on where you are in the world), and a royal wedding (not an annual event, but historically significant). Ok so none of these things are a guarantee. Fortunately, one event is a yearly promise (other than my perfection at subject transitions) and that’s Me Made May!

For those of you who don’t trawl social media on the regular – in many ways, an excellent choice – you may not have come across Me Made May. Started by SoZo blog, Me Made May (or #mmmay if you’re hip with the kids) is an opportunity to wear all of those beautiful self-crafted garments you’ve been hiding away. You can join in in a very casual way or more formally by making a pledge about the number of items you plan to wear. If you visit SoZo’s blog post, you’ll see more information about all of this.

I’ve only ever joined in with Me Made May in passing, mostly because I’ve never had enough self-made clothes to make it through the entire month. This year, I’m taking a much more structured approach (excessively so, some might argue) to my planning and have allowed my bullet journalling habits to guide me.

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Obviously there are still plenty of gaps to fill. This is to allow for new makes, as well as the fact that weekends are a bit up for grabs and I may not fancy wearing a 1950s circle skirt on a hike. I’m also waiting on the second half of the month, just to give myself some flexibility and see if the weather decides to stay on its current hot, sunny track.

We’re now two days into the challenge and, so far, I’m two for two! I decided to go with my Sweetheart Dress for Day 1. This was largely a nostalgic choice since it’s been about a year since I was making this back in the UK, while waiting for my fiancee visa to come through. Those of you who were following me back then will remember that the dress was supposed to be a muslin for my wedding dress! Time constraints and the general stress of moving country meant that a self-made wedding dress didn’t happen, but I’m super happy that I have such a wonderful version of the pattern to wear:

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Hello to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the ultimate and cutest photobomber!

Today’s choice was a dig back into the Sew for Victory archives because I made this dress very early in my sewing career, and barely ever bring it out for a spin. Part of the reason that I so love this challenge is that it really does encourage me to revisit some of the garments that, for whatever reason, I just never think to put on. Sew Over It’s Betty Dress is actually a super versatile and wearable pattern. I think I’m going to make up some new versions – probably shorter than the one I currently have.

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Since I’m wearing this outfit for the day, I decided to forgo a petticoat. Fortunately, the dress works just as well without it!

So those are my first two outfits for Me Made May! I’m not planning on posting any more of these pics on the blog (although I’ll probably do a reflection post at the end of the month) so if you want to stay up to date with my makes, be sure to follow me on one of my various social media accounts. I’ve added handy dandy buttons at the top of the sidebar, which will take you to wherever you want to go!

Let me know if you’re planning on participating in Me Made May, whatever your level of commitment. One of the greatest things about this challenge is getting to see everyone’s fantastic makes. Hopefully I’ll be seeing some of yours too!