Ode To My Fabric Facilitator (Also Known As Husband)

A little late for Valentine’s Day (although I’m actually writing it on the day) but this is a post that’s been in my head for a while. I think many of us who craft a lot – particularly when we’re also turning that crafting hobby into an online presence of some sort – tend to paint a convincing picture of the activity as something quite solitary. This isn’t entirely inaccurate – the skills involved in sewing and the planning that goes along with creating a new garment tend mostly to come from our own minds. It’s not much of a collaborative activity. But there are almost always other people holding us up in some way. Whether these are shop attendants helping us to find the perfect fabric, blog readers who motivate us to keep sharing our creations, or supportive partners who don’t question our many hours at the sewing machine, we all owe some credit to someone.

I often forget how much I depend on my husband to support my sewing. I don’t talk about him much on here – mostly because I’m the one who has chosen to run this blog and I don’t feel that it’s my right to put too much about other people up on the internet. My husband also has the world’s most Googleable name, which is why I don’t ever actually name him anywhere. This said, I do want to spend a post acknowledging how massively he contributes to my creativity and this blog. Without getting too gushy, of course.

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He was absolutely the driving force behind me picking up sewing and blogging in the first place. I’ve been quite open on here about the fact that sewing came into my life at an incredibly difficult time – a time through which my hubs was totally present and worked every day to help me navigate. I mentioned to him that I thought sewing might, for some unclear reason, be a distraction for me. Within a couple of days, he’d got me a sewing machine, some patterns, and just about all of the accessories I could need. I should mention that, by this point, I’d cycled through about four or five different hobbies in the hope that they would be the thing that stuck and helped to alleviate my anxiety and depression. All of these were time and money investments and they all pretty much fell into disuse. The fact that there were no eye rolls or questions when I brought up learning to sew is really a testament to his patience and belief in me. He also encouraged me to take up blogging as a way to log my achievements and potentially connect with other amazing sewists (that’s YOU!).

Since that point, you’ve all been a party to my journey through this blog. From leaving my PhD programme to moving to the US, it’s all been documented here on Sew for Victory. In the background, my husband has been an absolute constant. He’s financially supported my sewing while I was waiting for my green card and couldn’t work. Now that I have my green card, he’s continuing to give me every form of support needed as I try to figure out where I want to go with my career and sewing. But the material stuff is far from the most important thing. He’s there every time I doubt myself and feel like I want to throw in the towel (this happens more times than I’d like to admit). He’s rescued half-finished projects from the bin on more than one occasion. And he’s the man behind the camera every time we photograph my finished makes, telling me how amazing my garments look.

To say that I couldn’t do this without him would be an understatement. I’ve been working to get to a place where I have sufficient self-belief that I rarely question myself or my achievements. Since I don’t believe that resisting these thoughts is the best way forward – and instead work to let them come and go without getting invested or spiralling – it’s a long process of trying to get to a place where these thoughts don’t impact my actions or choices. The work continues but, because of my propensity to get super self-defeatist, I have no doubt that this blog would have disappeared long ago – along with my sewing – if it weren’t for my husband.

This is not a blog post that should be read as suggesting that it’s impossible to develop or sustain a new hobby unless you have a partner. I’ve been alive for 29 years and with my husband for just four of those. I completed an MA, MSc and took up countless hobbies without him – all while anxiety and depression were very present in my life. It’s totally possible to achieve anything that you want to without a relationship. Not to mention the fact that there are so many other types of relationship that are just as valuable as those of a romantic nature. The support I get from my husband is the kind of support that everyone out there deserves – but it doesn’t have to come from one place. I count myself lucky every day that I found all of this in one person.

So I wanted to write this post for the man who is so constantly present behind-the-scenes. He may rarely be featured but he is somehow always helping to facilitate what I do. He deserves a lot more than a blog post but, for now, this is what I have to offer. And I know he’s reading this – so thank you, my gorgeous one, for everything.

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Denim Dilemma!

Picking fabrics can be a nightmare of indecision. This is the main reason why I tend to pick projects based on fabrics that I already own. That way, I can fabric shop purely for what I love rather than panicking myself into a stupor trying to decide on what’s most project appropriate. But this doesn’t always work. Sometimes a project finds its way to the top of my To Do list without any workable fabric in my stash. Participating in The Big Vintage Sew-Along and The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour were great lessons in fabric shopping with actual purpose!

When my only pair of jeans (store-bought – and yes, I only had one pair due to my pre-transatlantic move wardrobe cull!) ripped at the weekend, I knew that I would have to shift my upcoming projects around a bit to accommodate my need for new jeans. Since I already had the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns lined up, I decided to just delay my Mimi blouse for a little bit and prioritise a new pair of jeans. Who knew, however, that picking out denim could be such a task? My husband drove me out to Joann’s where I managed to spend 45 minutes looking at a pretty limited selection of denim, trying to decide what I wanted to do. Initially, I was planning on simply replicating my old jeans as closely as possible by picking out a relatively dark, plain denim. But then some alternatives caught my eye.

Firstly, I was super tempted by a white floral design that I thought would make such a gorgeous pair of jeans for the spring. I carried it around the shop with me for ages before deciding that it might just be too far away from the versatile pair of jeans that I’d initially been intending to make. I’m all for straying off of the beaten path and I adore a good pair of statement trousers (my Ultimate Trousers really demonstrate this fact) but since I currently own no jeans – and I practically live in jeans and yoga pants – I figured best to stay as simple as possible.

That said, I obviously can’t resist making garments that look as unique as possible. So when I came across an adorable dark denim with embroidered anchors, I couldn’t resist!

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How cute is this? The only thing that remains to be seen is whether I actually have enough. I ended up finishing the bolt and it came up just short of the requirements. Annoyingly I fall in between two sizes for the pattern, both of which have different fabric requirements (2.75 yds versus 3 yds). The width of the fabric also falls between the two given widths. So estimating whether the 2.75 yds I ended up with will be enough was a bit of  a task. In the end, I bought it and am going to check the pattern layout before prewashing (in which case, the fabric is still returnable). Fingers crossed that it will work!

I also bought a super cute cotton for the pocket/waistband lining! I love the triangle pattern. Plus the colour scheme feels very much fitting with the nautical theme. I spent a while trying to find a stripy fabric that would work – mostly because I thought that stripes would look really great – but no such luck! I’m super happy with my choice anyway!

Deciding on the fabric was definitely a bit of a trial. But I always have to remind myself that I can have a second stab at any pattern I love. If this version of the Ginger Jeans goes well, I totally anticipate a return trip to Joann’s for the super sweet floral denim! This said, I absolutely need to get better about not feeling as though I’m making life-changing decisions every time I have to pick out fabric. Not least because I fear my husband will eventually stop driving me out to fabric shops if he has to spend many more hours trying to have opinions about fabrics.

Stay tuned and fingers crossed I’ll have some jeans to show you soon!!

New Projects: What’s Next?

With February now well under way, I’m attempting to get together some coherent sewing plans for my next few projects. The down side of not planning out a series of makes for the year (along the lines of #makenine on Instagram) is that I do spend a lot of time dithering when I find myself between projects. Since my sewing productivity has increased massively this past month, my lack of planning is becoming even more of an issue. On the other hand, my makes tend to be responsive to whatever I’m feeling at the time so planning out patterns for the year doesn’t really work well. To navigate these two perspectives, I’m trying to develop a planning method that falls somewhere in between by having the next few makes lined up – hopefully sufficient to get me through a month or two. With that, I thought that I would write up a post on my more immediate sewing plans – at the very least it gets my plans out of my brain (where they will inevitably slosh around and eventually disappear into the ether of my other thoughts) and written down in a concrete way!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been spending a lot of time recently working from Tilly and the Button’s Love at First Stitch book.

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I’ve owned this book for ages but had yet to actually make anything from it. Having just finished up the Clemence skirt (photos to come soon!), I’m now working on a version of the Mimi blouse. I’m actually super excited about this make. I’ve never been big into making separates – I always seem to default to dresses because they’re just so pretty! But I’m determined to diversify my me-made wardrobe this year and separates are going to be a big part of that. I fell in love with the 60s style of the Mimi blouse and thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to use the beautiful fabric that I won during #vpjuly last year.

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I was going to hang on and make a dress from this fabric (as per my traditional dress obsession) but I can’t help thinking that it will make a super cute vintage blouse. Plus there will be some extra fabric left over for other things, which is always a bonus!

After I get done with the blouse, I’m thinking of working on another version of the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress. This was one of my earliest makes and remains one of my favourite patterns. It’s just so beautiful! Unfortunately, my early version of the pattern is both much too big for me now and not amazingly made. I definitely applaud myself for managing to make the pattern at all and, given my complete lack of sewing knowledge at the time, am still very happy with what I achieved. But I think the Belle Curve dress is definitely a pattern that will benefit from my much improved sewing abilities.

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I don’t yet have any fabric for this dress. I think it’s going to be a matter of rooting around at some fabric stores in order to find the perfect material. I think I’m still going to go for something plain (not patterned) and relatively light in colour, since this allows for the darts to show up especially well. I was actually really pleased with the fabric choice on my first version, so I think I’m going to try and use something relatively close to that – because why change what works?

The last project on my current list is the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans. I’ve seen these jeans circulating in the blogosphere for a while and with consistently incredible reviews. I always struggle to find good jeans in stores because they’ll inevitably be baggy on my waist and thighs or too tight on my hips. The idea of making my own jeans is massively appealing and, with my recent Ultimate Trousers success, I’m feeling really motivated to make even more trousers! Not to mention, Closet Case’s jeans patterns are all 30% off for the month of February, as is their online Jean Making course! So I think I’m going to capitalise on that discount and give these jeans a go.

So that’s everything I have planned for the next month or so. If I continue on my current trend, my self-made wardrobe will definitely be growing exponentially through 2018! What do you have lined up for February? Dark, cold winters are definitely optimal sewing time. Maybe this -10 Celsius weather will clear up in St. Louis soon so that I can actually go out wearing some of what I’ve made this year.

 

January Goals: How Did I Do?

At the start of 2018, I set out a few goals for myself. This was in an effort to (1) avoid the inevitable pitfalls and discouragement that come with the idea of resolutions (I feel like ‘goals’ are much more fluid and less associated with berating yourself for failure), and (2) help to give me some direction on the things I’d like to accomplish this year. Although I’m totally open to the fact that these objectives will change as 2018 progresses and circumstances shift, it’s always nice to have some goals that keep you moving forward. In an effort to keep checking in with myself – and to also give you some idea of my current sewing status – I thought that it would be a good idea to do a short monthly rehash of my progress and projects.

January has actually be a super productive month for me. My first goal for 2018 was to do more sewing – and this is something that I definitely succeeded in fulfilling so far! I’ve completed three projects in all, which is pretty amazing compared to my rather paltry showing last year. My first make was a version of B6242 – a reproduction of a 1960s pattern. This was definitely one of my more ambitious projects but ended up being one of my favourites! I especially loved the fabric choice because cherries always have a vintage feel to them (how did this come about, I wonder?).

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After finishing up this dress, I decided that it was high time to use one of my favourite fabric finds – an Australian aboriginal cotton that I’ve been too scared to cut in to. After consulting with lots of wise sewists on Instagram, I decided that a pair of simple trousers was the way to go and found my perfect pattern in the Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over It. The finished project is honestly one of my favourite makes of all time. I love absolutely everything about the finished product and the whole construction process was such a joy. Nothing crazy or complicated. And the resulting fit was something I didn’t think could be achieved without some serious alterations – instead, I just followed the pattern sizes, made the trousers, and found that they fit like a glove all over.

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Once the trousers were all done, I decided to continue working my way through my fabric stash and, shortly before the end of January, had whipped up a version of the Clemence skirt from Tilly and the Button’s Love at First Stitch book. I’ve had this book for a while and had yet to dip into any of the patterns (or, honestly, even look through it). But I’ve had the most darling sparkly bicycle fabric in my sewing cupboard for the past six months and knew that it would make a perfect skirt. I’ve yet to review the pattern – or show any pics – on Sew for Victory, but this will be coming up in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek…

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My second 2018 goal was to find more of a balance with vintage versus everyday wear. I definitely feel like I accomplished that in January. The Ultimate Trousers are absolutely something that I will be wearing on an everyday basis – as is the Clemence skirt (albeit only once spring/summer rolls around because it’s currently sleeting in St. Louis). That said, it’s a continued priority to sew vintage and vintage reproduction patterns when I can because, even though they are perhaps less versatile in terms of daily wear, they are absolutely my passion. A balanced approach to vintage versus everyday sewing is going to be key, and I think January reflects the development of a much better balance between the two.

My final goal for 2018 was to blog more. Without a doubt, January has been my most productive blogging month since I launched Sew for Victory a couple of years ago. I’m now in a position where I can dedicate much more time to the blog – in the past, Sew for Victory has always coexisted alongside PhD programmes and international moves. January has definitely been an amazing month for engagement with you all and with the broader sewing community. I’ve learnt SO much. I launched my Vintage Sewing 101 series at the start of the month and it has been an incredible learning curve. I’ve been baffled by a lot of what I’ve read but always leave more informed than when I came in. Since we’re not even at the end of the first of the eight sewing manuals, I’m sure there will be a lot more learning (and bafflement) coming my way.

Of all the posts I’ve written this month, however, I’m hands down happiest with Sewing for Self-Care: Your StoryI’ve been so overwhelmed by the response to this initiative and so excited by how supportive the community has been. The post appeared on The Fold Line and is currently featured on their Sewing Challenges and Hashtags page for 2018. As a result of this post, I’ve been contacted by some amazing and seriously courageous people. Some will be writing posts, others simply reached out to share their own experiences of sewing and self-care. Universally, these stories demonstrate that sewing is an incredible tool for people facing all kinds of battles. I feel so genuinely honoured to have been able to hear these stories. Never, when I was at my worst, would I have anticipated being in a position to share my experiences and have people prepared to volunteer information about their own to me. I can’t express how much respect I have for all of you who have faced, or are still facing, challenges with your mental health and attention to self-care. As much as self-care has become something of an overused phrase within the past couple of years, there is no catch-all term that better encompasses how we must all work to treat ourselves. I’m so excited to write more on this topic and introduce some other fantastic crafters to the conversation!

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So there we have it! What a whirlwind of a month! It’s been a fantastic way to kick off 2018 and, even though I’m still figuring some things out (and there are definitely places for improvement outside of these three goals), I’m excited to continue to move forward in February. Given that January and February are typically my personal annual low points (I don’t enjoy extra hours of darkness), 2018 is definitely bucking the trend! Thanks for following and supporting me through the first few weeks of 2018. I can’t wait to see what the next month has to bring!

 

New Projects and Updates!

Now that I’m all finished with B6242, it’s on to even better and brighter things! I’ve definitely been keeping to my pledges for 2018 and spending a lot more time both sewing and blogging. This is largely owing to some new bullet journal spreads that have really helped me to get my sewing schedule and plans under control. I hate having these sorts of plans just in the ether of my mind – it can get so overwhelming trying to mentally keep track of my various projects and objectives. Having a concrete method for scheduling out everything related to my sewing and blogging has been a massive help this January. I’ll be sharing some more insight into my current means of organising myself at some point over the next couple of weeks!

In an effort to stay on track with my other sewing goals, I’ve been thinking a lot harder about the types of makes that I want to get completed over this coming year. Although I’m not one for planning patterns too far in advance (mostly because my moods change frequently when it comes to what I want to make), one of my goals for sewing in 2018 was to find some sort of balance between vintage and everyday wear. In order to make sure that I’m working towards this, there’s obviously an amount of forethought required. Since I’ve just got finished with a very vintage-inspired make, I thought I would take a step back and try to use up some of my fabric stash on a more contemporary garment!

For a while now, I’ve had my eye on Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers pattern. Only once in the past have I had a go at making a pair of trousers and they were a roaring success so I’ve been super keen to try out a new pattern. I’ve always had great experiences with Sew Over It patterns and the photos of various versions of the Ultimate Trousers look so impressive. The photos also inspired my fabric choice. As you might remember, I bought the best fabric ever a few months ago on a trip to the independent fabric retailer, The Quilted Fox, here in St. Louis. The Australian print is so incredibly bold and intricate that I’ve been determined to find the perfect pattern for it! I had initially assumed that I’d go the way of making a dress or skirt but this wasn’t sitting totally right with me. So, when I started looking through the galleries for the Ultimate Trousers and seeing lots of amazing bold prints, I was seriously struck by the determination to put my fabric to work! After some consultation on Instagram, I was totally set.

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So look out for these trousers over the next couple of weeks.

In other, somewhat related, news, I’ve joined the Sew Over It PDF club! If you haven’t heard of the Club, it’s well worth a look. Membership costs just £5 and gets you a free PDF pattern, as well as exclusive first-look access at new Sew Over It PDFs and 10% off these patterns. Since PDF patterns from Sew Over It typically cost £7.50, membership to the Club actually costs quite a bit less than the price of the free PDF that you can select as a new member. Plus you get all of the added bonuses. So, if you have your eye on any Sew Over It PDF patterns, definitely consider membership. I’ve always loved their patterns and consider this a really worthy investment!

Anyway, that’s all for now! I’ll be back on Friday with more content for you. Time to get back to some shivering temperatures (I’m most definitely not adapted to Missouri winters yet) and a bit more sewing. Enjoy the rest of your week!

 

Hello to 2018!

Happy New Year, lovelies! I want to say a massive thank you to all my readers for walking with me through the peaks and troughs of 2017. I know that it was a tough year for lots of us – and, in many respects, for the world at large – but we’ve made it out of the other side and have welcomed in a new year. I truly appreciate every one of you for helping to make Sew for Victory happen, keeping me inspired, and offering so much help and encouragement when it’s most needed. As cliche as it sounds, there is no way that I would still be blogging and sewing with any regularity if it weren’t for all of you. I think the best way to start out any new year is with a whole lot of gratitude for what’s been and what’s still to come – I’m definitely grateful for this blog, being able to sew, and for this little community. So THANK YOU!

On to looking forward into 2018. I’m not much of a believer in resolutions. The idea of a ‘fresh slate’ is hugely appealing and this, I think, is why so many people love the opportunity to resolve on new habits for the year ahead. My problem was that every resolution offered an opportunity for self-flagellation when I eventually failed to keep my promise. To turn this on its head and still take advantage of the fresh start that the new year offers, I decided to turn resolutions into goals. Although, in many ways, this is just a language switch, the idea of a ‘goal’ instead of a ‘resolution’ feels more achievable and less intimidating. Goals change and adjust with circumstances – resolutions do not. This approach has worked for me over the past couple of years, particularly with the huge number of unexpected and dramatic changes that have come my way.

Along these lines, I thought there would be no better way of starting off 2018 on Sew for Victory than sharing my sewing goals for the New Year. It’ll be interesting to check back in as we move to 2019 and see what I managed to achieve – although, as I emphasised before, these goals are totally fluid and will probably change as the year progresses. So, here we go…

1.  Sew More!

2017 brought a huge amount of instability. I started off the year by leaving my house, moving in with my Nan, and saying goodbye to my (then) fiancé for an indeterminate amount of time. Although I set up a sewing base at my Nan’s house, the four months apart from my husband were mostly focussed on immigration and trying to get through the whole process. Fortunately, we were reunited at the end of May and got married in July! Shortly after that, there was more immigration stuff, moving to a new apartment, adopting a dog, and then the Christmas holidays. To say that it’s been a whirlwind would be an understatement. But I’m a big believer in viewing challenges and difficulties as opportunities to learn. In that light, 2017 was a very opportunity-filled year!

Unfortunately, with all those happenings, my sewing and blogging fell by the wayside for large chunks of the year. Although November and December have allowed for some stability and a chance to refocus myself on these things, I’m going into 2018 feeling that I need to make a concerted effort to do more sewing. Since I’ll be balancing this with my professional goals (more of that to come soon), I’m taking a carefully planned approach to ensure that I am able to give attention across the board. As such, I’m setting aside a couple of days a week to focus on my sewing projects – making sure that I have a good turnover of new makes and plenty of opportunity to build and consolidate my skills!

To help me along, I’ve been thinking about the different patterns that I’d like to try and get made in 2018. Here’s a few of them:

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2.  Find A Vintage/Everyday Wear Balance

This definitely relates to my first goal. One of the things I started thinking about more in 2017 was the nature of my makes. Since I was sewing a lot less, I wanted to ensure that I was using my time to make garments that I would actually wear regularly. I wear all of my vintage makes but tend to keep them for special occasions, parties etc. Going into 2018, I’m hoping to focus on making more patterns that are vintage-inspired but wearable on an everyday basis. Since I’m not working in an office, this means garments that will work when I’m walking the dog, at my sewing table, or just generally pottering around the house. That said, I will never move away from my love of circle skirts and gorgeous frocks, so there will certainly be more of those on the way too.

On my list of patterns to make for everyday wear:

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3.  Blog More

Grappling with all of 2017’s changes, my blogging schedule had fallen victim to procrastination. My goal moving forward is to return to a three times weekly posting schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). I’m hoping that this will add some level of predictability for all of you but also that it will help spur me on with my general sewing activities. I started this blog as a way to record my sewing journey, warts and all. To me, sewing and blogging are basically intertwined. They run parallel to one another and help to move me forward. So 2018 will definitely be a year of more reliable blogging and attention to Sew for Victory!

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My as-yet empty January sewing Bullet Journal spread. Filling blank pages is one of life’s under-rated joys!

4.  Worry Less And Pay Attention To Self-Care

If you’ve been reading Sew for Victory over the past couple of months, you’ll know that I’ve been emphasising a ‘sewing for self-care’ angle. I started sewing as a way to combat my anxiety and panic disorders and, even though these thing are now only shadows in my life, I still maintain that sewing is an incredible self-care opportunity. My first Sewing for Self-Care post – and my Holiday Survival post – both detail the ways in which I use sewing to remain attentive to my own needs. That said, I still fall into old thought patterns and behaviours that absolutely don’t serve me.

Moving forward into 2018, I want to stay super on top of my self-care and continue to use sewing as a central feature of my self-care regime. In doing this, it’s incredibly important to ensure that the self-care tools themselves don’t become sources of anxiety. This requires a lot of introspection and honesty. For example, I use yoga to keep me on track. For a while I was practicing daily but found that I would get incredibly anxious and down on myself if I failed to practice or missed a day. The whole process then became self-defeating. To manage this, I decided to reduce my practicing to four times a week – meaning that I could switch days around as needed. Voluntarily opting out of some days also allowed me see my yoga practices as less of a concrete thing and meant that I could start paying attention to what I actually needed on a daily basis. Some days I need it, some days I don’t. The same can be said of sewing. Particularly when we’re putting our efforts out into the world via blogging or social media, it’s vital to ensure that we don’t allow these activities to slip into something anxiety-inducing or stressful.

2018 will be a year of super self-care!

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As per my Sewing for Self-Care posts, I love having a list of reliable activities that will always serve as a pick-me-up.

So those are my four goals for 2018. Plenty to be going on with and to think about over the coming months. I feel confident that they are all achievable but they’re also subjective enough to accommodate changes and the inevitable challenges that life brings. If you have your own sewing goals set for 2018, be sure to share in the comments. I’m wishing you all the most incredible and peace-filled New Year. I hope 2018 will bring you all that you’re looking for.

 

 

Project Updates!

After the super momentum that I achieved with my Cocktail Hour dress, I’ve been feeling seriously motivated to work my way through some new projects. So I thought that I would give you an update on my works in progress and everything coming to Sew for Victory over the next few weeks!

At the moment, I’m working with some seriously fabulous fabric picked up from Joann’s. It’s part of Gertie’s collection, and I had visions of 1960s dresses the moment I laid eyes on it.

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At $16.99 a yard, it’s definitely expensive. I love Joann’s for the MANY discount vouchers on their app and I exploit these every time I visit but, unless I’m working with a 50% off coupon, $16.99 is pretty steep (especially given that any 1950s/60s-style dress is going to take 4+ yards, which will leave you over $50 out of pocket for one dress). Fortunately, I hit Joann’s when they were having a sale specifically on Gertie’s fabric line and I think I ended up getting the fabric for around $6 a yard. Far more reasonable.

The only issue I have with this fabric (other than cost) is the 43″ width. This is something I’ve come across time and again, particularly at Joann’s. Am I the only person losing it with the fact that fabric manufacturers don’t account for the fact that EVERY pattern gives cutting layouts and fabric requirements for 45″ and 60″ fabrics as standard? Why on earth would you make a 43″ fabric? Please do enlighten me if you know. Normally it isn’t too much of an issue but it caused me such problems with this pattern. Every piece of the pattern, except for the two cumberbund/cummerbund pieces, had to be cut on the crosswise grain. Manipulating the fabric to account for this, plus cutting on the fold where I had to, I ended up dramatically short on fabric – despite the fact that I had originally purchased 1/2 yard extra than required to account for any issues. I had to go back and buy an extra yard (not on sale) which obviously cost me an additional $16.99. Since I’m working with the circle skirt version of the pattern, every inch of fabric is absolutely necessary. I was finding that I couldn’t follow the cutting layout on the pattern because two pattern pieces wouldn’t fit on the width of the fabric – being 2″ shorter than the standard 45″. I recognise that this has turned into a massive rant but I’m seriously baffled as to why fabric that sells in a nation-wide chain wouldn’t be standard size?

Anyway, moving on from that outburst. I really am seriously in love with the fabric itself. The blue is so gorgeous – the photo doesn’t do it justice. I’m about half-way through the make and it looks so wonderful. I think that this is going to be a truly fabulous dress! The pattern is one that I got free with a magazine ages ago. I wanted to go with a 1960s pattern that offered the standard silhouette but also looked different from anything I’ve made before. The bodice and sleeves are definitely a departure from my previous makes, so we’ll see how it turns out!

Aside from the 1960s dress, I also have plans for a couple of other fabrics that I’ve picked up over the past few weeks. Although obviously not keeping with the vintage theme, I couldn’t resist this Beauty and the Beast stained glass fabric. I’ve seen it floating around on Instagram for a while and have been desperately in love with it. So I picked up a few yards for myself and am still debating on what to do with it.

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Isn’t it sweet? I’m thinking potentially another Sew Over It Betty dress? But I’m worried that it would look too busy. My default with any heavily patterned or busy fabric is to set it aside to become a circle skirt. But I have about 4 yards of this fabric and I’m really not sure what to do with it. I want to stick to vintage-style patterns so, if you have any suggestions, let me know!

I’m also planning another 1960s make for the brocade fabric that I picked up as a back-up for my Cocktail Hour dress. It’s super cute!

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As much as I love it, I might wait a while to grapple with this one. If you read about my Cocktail Hour adventures, you’ll know that working with the brocade was a total nightmare. It frayed like nothing else. This 1960s-style fabric is beautiful but already fraying all over the place. I think I need to get a couple of other (nice and east cotton-based) projects out of the way before I decide to brave the brocade again!

So that’s most of the news regarding my ongoing/upcoming projects. I am also working on a big super-secret side project that I’ll be chatting to you about within the next month or so. In the meantime, I have a variety of plans for Sew for Victory. As well as the usual posts on my makes (as they occur) and some new My Vintage Life posts, I’ll be publishing another Sewing for Self-Care post. My last post seemed to create a lot of interest and I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks reflecting on your comments. Since it’s a topic that’s very close to my heart, I have a lot more to say about it. So watch out for that. I’ll be back on Friday with a new installment of My Vintage Life.

Until then, have a fabulous week. And Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!

Vintage Sewing Treasures: Notions Galore!

As you probably know, I have a total obsession with hunting out the best antique and vintage shops in an effort to lay my hands on some perfect sewing-related finds. I’ve found these escapades much easier to arrange since I moved to the US, where an antiques mall is never far away and typically stocked with vintage sewing patterns and notions.

On a recent trip to my all-time favourite antiques mall – the Antique Mall of Creve Coeur – I scored some of the most incredible bargains. The beauty of antiques malls (at least, the ones I’ve been to) is that they host booths from a variety of antiques dealers – all of whom specialise in different things. I’ve yet to walk into one where I haven’t found a selection of vintage sewing patterns and other sewing goodies on offer. And the Antique Mall of Creve Coeur is always incredibly well stocked with more notions than I could ever need.

I wanted to share my latest haul with you. I actually got all of these bits a couple of months back but it’s taken me forever to get around to writing a post as I’m working my way through a backlog of posts and projects (blame a mischievous pup who demands most of my attention)! Anyway, on to notions, notions, notions!

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All of this for about $10! While I typically find that vintage sewing patterns can get super expensive (usually depending on how old they are), hunting for vintage notions is an easy way to indulge your love of all things vintage while making sure that your bank account stays reasonably intact. Shopping for vintage notions is where antiques malls come in particularly handy. Since there are a number of sellers, it is easy to locate booths where prices are low.

One of the other great things about visiting antiques shops is that they often offer opportunities to buy in bulk…

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This jar must contain at least 40 lots of bias tape, elastic, and lace. And all for about $8! This seller had another jar of the same size containing assorted buttons and belt buckles. I was super tempted but, in the end, thought I would be much less likely to use them. I have a button obsession but I couldn’t see myself finding a use for mismatched buttons. Unless maybe I just start my own vintage button collection!

Some of the cutest bits from this bargain jar…

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Vintage packaging is honestly one of my favourite things. Am I the only one who feels this way?!

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Anything floral is a bonus!

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And so much lace! I have no idea what I’ll do with this. Sewing lace onto garments is something that I’ve yet to do.

As you’ll have seen from the first photo, I also got myself a few packs of vintage buttons. Here’s a close-up of those beauties:

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I’m not sure what projects these will go towards. The buttons on the far left would obviously be super appropriate for a coat, so I’ll probably save them for whenever I’m feeling ambitious enough to get into coat-making! I tried to keep my button selections relatively neutral so that I’ll have plenty of options when it comes to actually using them. For now, though, they’ll sit in my collection and look pretty!

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I also picked up this pack of needles. I’m pretty sure that these won’t ever actually be used but the pack was about 50 cents and, as I mentioned earlier, I am a serious sucker for vintage packaging. When I saw the ‘war economy pack’ note on the back, I couldn’t resist! There’s something about vintage items like this that really makes me feel that I’m holding onto a piece of history. I’m sure this intersection with history is what make most of us vintage lovers develop a love of vintage in the first place.

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Some hooks and eyes! Again, in large part because I couldn’t resist the packaging. But I’m sure that these will actually have some serious utility.

And, finally…

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This fabulous hat pin. I’ve actually got a growing collection of vintage hats, some of which have a really hard time staying in place. I’ve been on the look out for a hat pin for a while and this one was a steal at $1. The fleur de lis design is particularly classic. I’d really like to grow my hat pin collection so fingers crossed that future antique hunts will turn up some more!

So that’s it! $10 and many vintage notions later. I massively recommend paying a visit to some local antiques shops if you’re on the look out for sewing patterns, fabric, or notions.  Alternatively, there are great places online – I love Etsy! – that also stock these kinds of items. If you have any alternative recommendations, be sure to pop them in the comments. I’m continuously on the lookout for new places to shop for my favourite sewing goodies! And, if you’re ever Missouri way, be sure to send me a note so we can go antiques shopping together!

Getting Creative With Your Clothes

First of all, thank you for all of the comments on my last post. I was so happy to read that so many of you find sewing to be such a help. I’m a real believer in the fact that any activity can be turned into an opportunity to practice self-care. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth can be a chance for some mindfulness meditation. So it’s no wonder that something as creative and involved as sewing can provide such a wonderful avenue for managing our day-to-day struggles. Sewing gives us boundless opportunities to pour ourselves into creating beautiful clothes. And there is so much that we can do give them that extra special edge.

One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about learning to sew has been the ability to make my clothes a truly individual creation. When I’m working with any pattern, one of the first things I do is try to come up with ways that I can make the garment totally personal to me. This extra level of creativity is, to me, one of the most important ways in which I connect to sewing as an activity that really lifts me out of the doldrums. And over the course of the past two years, I’ve come up with a few go-to ways to add that extra bit of quirkiness to my makes. In the name of both creativity and self-care, I wanted to share some of them with you today. So here is a list of my favourite ways to get super creative with my makes:

1. Highlight Shapes and Break Up Busyness with Piping

My first foray into piping was for the Big Vintage Sew-Along last year. I’d never thought about using piping before but the shape of my chosen pattern was just screaming for something additional.

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The dress’ front panels are perhaps the most interesting thing about the garment. To make the whole thing in one fabric would essentially hide this detail. Sewing some piping into these front panels ensured that the shape was one the first things you notice when looking at the dress. Plus it gave me an opportunity to really develop my colour palette. I was keen to replicate the sailor-esque colours that were so popular during the 1930s. Paired with the white buttons and blue crepe fabric, the red piping really hammered home the authentic 1930s look that I was shooting for.

Piping is also a super effective way to get creative when trying simply to break up a busy garment. I had this problem when I was sewing up the Simplicity 1221 vintage apron. I had chosen a really beautiful fabric that I was super keen to use. I also knew that I wanted to make the version of the apron that had big ruffles attached to the sleeves. All-in-all this promised to turn out an overly busy creation where the details were lost to the distracting fabric.

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The way that I contended with this was a return to my trusty piping method! I attached some white piping in between the front panel and the ruffled straps. This super simple addition served to give the eye a bit of a break from the dots, flowers, and strawberries.

Piping is definitely one of my favourite methods for really getting creative with patterns. It’s simple to do and always looks super effective. Not to mention, everyone will be super impressed with your skills!

2. Choose an Extra Interesting Lining

I honestly hate attaching lining so much. It really is the worst thing. I’m working with lining on my Cocktail Hour project and it is seriously horrible. Somehow I always have issues getting the lining to match up with the shell fabric correctly. Just about the only time it has gone right for me was with the Beignet Skirt. This skirt was one of my first makes, inspired solely by the fabulous fabric I found to use as the lining.

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I discovered this William Morris fabric in my local fabric shop while I was living in Colchester, and I was honestly blown away by it. Looking at it, I knew that it would be too busy as an actual garment (although I’m sure there are a lot of people who could actually pull it off!). But as a lining, how perfect! I remember posting this make and getting comments about why I would hide away such a fabulous fabric. But, honestly, it never even occurred to me that I was hiding it. As far as I was concerned, I knew that it was there. And this extra secret detail was exactly the sort of thing that made sewing such a perfect creative outlet for me!

I’ve hoarded the remnants of this particular fabric ever since and recently used it on my Tyyni trousers as another cute hidden curiosity!

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So if you’re looking for a seriously easy way to give your garment that extra bit of quirkiness and you have lining or pocket opportunities, definitely think about fabric choice. It’s your chance to go a bit crazy and use that gorgeous fabric that you weren’t quite sure what to do with!

3. Experiment with Colour-Blocking

I’ve only just started working with the potentials of colour-blocking (and I’m not even sure that my approach really counts). When I picked up my amazing Harry Potter fabric, I was pretty well settled on having a go at making the Zadie dress from Tilly and the Buttons. One of the best things about this pattern is the neat use of shapes. As with the Big Vintage Sew-Along dress, I knew that the shape would get lost in using the same fabric for the whole garment. But, since the Zadie dress demands knit fabric, piping wouldn’t really be an option. So I set about finding a plain fabric that would complement my fabulous Harry Potter knit.

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This dress still isn’t finished due to various construction issues. But I love the black fabric against the mustard yellow. Once again, it stops the garment from looking too busy, while also drawing the eye to the shapes. Not to mention that it is yet another way to achieve that additional level of creativity with a pattern. There’s something incredibly satisfying about looking at a pattern and thinking up ways to make it even more interesting! I’d be super interested to see any examples you have of using colour-blocking. This is something that I’ve only just started to think about – and I do struggle a bit with knowing whether or not colours really fit together. So I’m always looking to you fabulous sewists for inspiration!

4. Work with Patches

This discovery was very much a happy accident. If you were following the blog back in spring, you’ll remember that I was working away on the muslin for my wedding dress. This project, more than any other, really honed my skills when it came to achieving perfect fit. Unfortunately, at the very end of the project (I was literally trimming down the back seam as a final step), I accidentally cut through the main fabric on the back of the dress. This left a massive hole right in the centre-back.

Needless to say, many tears and much sadness followed. But then a thought occurred to me. Why not just patch it?! Since it was a pre-wedding dress make in navy blue – with white polka dots – I figured that dotting some red heart patches around the dress would be a fabulously appropriate addition. I was honestly terrified that it would make the dress look super kitschy but it ended up working perfectly!

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I’ve become such an advocate of cute patches. And they were super easy to make. I simply drew some heart shapes onto paper (for a more complex shape, you might want to find a template online), attached them to the fabric and cut out the number I wanted. I attached iron-on interfacing to them in order to stop fraying and then top-stitched them onto the dress. The whole process took me about an hour and I honestly couldn’t imagine the dress without them!

I haven’t seen a lot of use of patches out there. So, once again, let me know if you’ve used any in the past. One of the great things about using patches is that there are so many available to buy online! The hardest part is deciding where they might be appropriate to use. So if you have any inspiration to provide, please send it my way!


So there we go. Some quick and (relatively easy) tips for kickstarting your creativity. For me, this goes hand-in-hand with last week’s post about sewing for self-care. While making the pattern as written is still a super joyful process, I honestly get most involved in finding ways to add a truly personal touch to my makes. Not only is it the perfect method for developing your sewing skills, it is also a great reminder of how fantastically creative you are. Happy accident or purposeful decision, be brave and take a chance!

If you have any of your own tips to share, please leave a comment or send me an email. I’m always looking for new techniques to try out!

 

The Cocktail Hour: An Update

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You might remember that, at the start of the year, I announced that I would be participating in The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour! Well, many months later, my reveal is actually approaching! I’ll be posting on 17th November about my finished dress – and finally showing you all the pattern that I’ve been working with.

Thankfully, my Cocktail Hour project has been just the motivation I needed to kick-start my sewing again. After the endless disasters of the Zadie dress (which is still not finished because of various construction issues), I’ve been having a seriously hard time getting myself to sit back down at my machine. But I finally took myself out fabric shopping in the hopes that I would find just the right fabric to get me moving again! So here’s a little fabric teaser for the dress that you’ll be seeing here in a couple of weeks…

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Stars for days! Cocktail Hour appropriate, while still sufficiently Laura! This gem was picked up from Joann’s and, although the fraying is already a pain, I’m super happy with this fabric choice. I can’t wait to see how the finished dress turns out.

If you’re feeling in the mood for a challenge or need a bit of sewspiration, definitely check out the great collection of Cocktail Hour patterns. It’s an amazing selection and the proceeds from sales of the patterns are going to The Eve Appeal – so you’re also helping out an incredibly worthy cause! Here are some of my favourites:

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If you decide to participate (which you absolutely should!), make sure to post your makes with #sipandsew so that we can all see them. And stay tuned on 17th November to see my make!