It’s OK to Have a Bad Day

Hello poppets!

Two posts in one day – I’m clearly on a roll! As you may have noticed, I’ve been away from the blog for a little while. This definitely wasn’t intentional. I found myself falling into a hole of ‘well, I haven’t got anything to show, so why post?’ I wouldn’t be surprised if this was something felt by a lot of crafty bloggers, making it all the more difficult when life’s events stop you from making any real progress on your craft projects.

I made a promise to myself when I started Sew for Victory that I wouldn’t let it become a source of stress or pressure. Unless your blog is your main source of income, you will, like me, have a life outside of the blogosphere. I have a PhD to contend with, as well as family and friends to spend time with, and sewing/blogging often takes a backseat to this. This hasn’t been a problem for me – I sew when I’m in the mood and choose projects based on what I want to make (rather than what I think I can whip up most quickly). But the success of this strategy was challenged last week when one of my current makes went totally to hell.

You might remember my post a few weeks ago, spotlighting the blouse and skirt that I had decided to make. My first stop was the blouse – a gorgeous pattern that I decided to make up in a deep blue silk. Perfect, right? Wrong. As soon as I started cutting out the pattern pieces, I just had a feeling that this pattern was going to be a MASSIVE challenge. This was largely to do with the fabric choice – silk is slippery. This is no newsflash. But for some reason, it hadn’t occurred to me. When I finally got it onto the machine, it slipped around, messing up my darts. I unpicked and unpicked again, leaving small holes all over the place. At this point, my spirits were totally depleted. I cried, I cursed, I shouted ‘I’ll never sew again!’ at my lovely, understanding fiancé. An overreaction perhaps but the only thought swirling around my mind was ‘what kind of sewing blogger can’t sew?’

Fortunately, being English, a cup of tea solves a plethora of problems. After calming down, I realised that I was departing from the original purpose of Sew for Victory. I started the blog to document both my successes and failures with sewing – a blog written by an amateur seamstress with a passion for vintage. As the blog has expanded, it’s content has grown. I write about style idols who inspire me, vintage magazines with their ridiculous advice, and replicating vintage style through sewing projects. It’s as much a blog about my life as about my sewing endeavours.

I decided today that I needed to write an honest post about the difficulty of the past couple of weeks. Because this is as honest an insight into my life as the posts of me wearing successful sewing products. It really is ok to have a bad day (or few days). It’s ok to feel undermined by an attempt to sew flimsy silk. And it’s ok to question your progress at your craft. But, at a certain point, you pick yourself up, put things in perspective, and move on. I decided to put my blouse to the side for a while and get to work on my skirt instead. And my motivation (or ‘sewjo’, if you will) has totally returned.

So remember that whether you’re just starting out or have been in the sewing game for years, it’s ok to have a bad day. Half the battle is in picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and starting over.

Thank you all for your support, encouragement, and being the most fantastic blog readers in existence.

Laura x

Sew for Victory: A History

Happy Wednesday, lovely people!

While I continue working on my Beignet skirt (progress has slowed a little while I’ve been stuck in IT training), I thought I would take the opportunity to give you a little insight into history behind the blog name!

If it’s not already clear from the vintage-inspired style here, I LOVE history. I spent five summers working as a tour guide in a stately home and, even though my career life is totally unrelated, I’m still pretty much taken with all things historical. My decision to take up sewing was totally motivated by a desire to dictate my own style – inspired by the eras that I love and without reference to current fashions and trends. So, when starting this blog, I thought what better than to take a dip into one of my favourite periods – the 1940s – for name inspiration.

sew_for_victory

The Sew for Victory campaign finds its origins in the Second World War, as part of America’s efforts to mobilise women to become involved in the war effort. It rings with similarities to campaigns here in the UK, like the famous ‘dig for victory’ efforts. For me, titling the blog in honour of this historical chapter has two purposes. The first is, clearly, to get across that this is a sewing blog, with a vintage theme. The other ties with my day job as a PhD Human Rights researcher. Sewing – as with other ‘domestic’ pursuits – has an aura of the problematic about it when it comes to talking about women’s rights and their advancement. Obviously, it’s tinged with the idea of domesticity, and reminds us of a time when women didn’t have a choice but to become specialists in these activities. As a feminist who also has an interest in these traditionally domestic interests (I LOVE to bake and knit #granny), I used to find it difficult to reconcile my love of the 1940s housewife image with my unwavering belief in gender equality. But what we, as modern sewers, do differently is make a choice. We’re empowered because it is our decision to be business women, or academics, or mothers, or sewers, or artists, or scientists. We choose. I choose to sew and bake because I love it. I choose to pursue an academic career in a male-dominated field because it is my right to do so. And if I choose to forgo that career to work full-time as a mother, that it also my choice.

There is no superior path. Only choices. The Sew for Victory campaign is a relic from a time when women didn’t have a choice – but they used the space they had to mark out territory in the wider world. They used the avenues open to them and pushed for more. And I want this blog to be a reminder to me that I owe my choices to those women. So, in that sense, I’m sewing in recognition of the victories won, but also the victories that we’re still waiting for.

Whether you’re reading this because you’re a sewer, non-sewer or my mother (hello Mama Clarke!), and whether you’re a woman or a man, you’re so so welcome here. I love this community and everything I’ve already learnt from it – in such a short space of time. So thank you all for being here, taking the time to read my musings on life, and sticking by my side while I sew for victory.

Love you all x

Meet My Machine

Constance

Well hello there, beautiful.

What better way to start out than a post celebrating the wonder that is my new sewing machine? My previous sewing adventures have all happened on a less-than-friendly Brother machine – literally the cheapest one I could find on Amazon. But with my recent successes and determination to conquer the sewing world, my wonderful (patient) fiancé decided that I could invest in a good upgrade. With that the lovely man swept me off to the local sewing machine dealer, for a long lesson in the sewing machine market (I now know so much – go on, test me!).

I’d totally gone in with the idea that I’d come out wielding a much better Brother machine, or perhaps a Janome. But after trying the amazing Britannia Instyle 65, my mind was made up. Whoop! So here she is. My new baby, christened Constance (after my hero Constance Lytton – I will explain at a later date!). I am looking forward to this new partnership, which I think of as something like that of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in Singin’ in the Rain (I am, clearly, the comic relief).

See you soon, with an update on my ongoing projects!

Laura x

An Introduction

Sewing

Hello lovelies!

Welcome to Sew for Victory – an attempt to document my adventures through the world of sewing. I would love to pretend that I am a crafting expert who will be presenting fantastically perfect pieces of clothing to you. Unfortunately, the only way that this could be further from the truth is if I didn’t actually own a sewing machine (I do, so I figure I’m at least one step ahead of total ignorance). To date, I have successfully completed two projects – albeit with many many wounds (both physical and emotional).

So why start a blog and exhibit my lack of knowledge to the world? A couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m hoping that, through the blog, I might actually manage to connect with other sewers for inspiration (and, let’s be honest, a whole heap of advice). But also because I’m hoping that my experience may have some value. As a long-time blog reader, I know how easy it is to be daunted by the number of experienced and awesome sewers out there. I hope that through starting this blog as a real amateur, I might be able to provide some reassurance to other sewers who are just starting out.

Although sewing is a relatively new endeavour for me, it’s something I’ve been trying at for a while now. A deep deep love of vintage fashion and a loathing for exploitation in the clothing industry (I’m a PhD Human Rights student, which might explain this) both moved me to start out. But after a traumatic early experience of trying to sew knit fabric (a truly amateur mistake), I abandoned my sewing machine and threw myself into every sewing manual I could find. At a certain point, however, I realised that such a book-based approach to sewing kind of defied the point of the craft. I have now picked back up the needle, put down the book, and am ready to go.

So world, be gentle with me. And let’s get sewing!

Laura x