Sunday, 20 January 2019

Reflections on my sewing

Reflections on my sewing

Earlier in the month, I had planned to post these reflections but didn’t get around to it. I decided that I would post them now, anyway – even though I have already thought a bit about lessons from 2018 and plans for 2019 and posted that. I think this post is more reflective of the real circumstances!

Matching (quality) fabric to pattern
You can't make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I knew this previously, but I still make mistakes with fabric choice - or maybe it’s the right fabric but the wrong pattern? It’s certainly sometimes the wrong style for me! Cheap fabric has a place for toiles etc but not for a garment I am going to take many hours to make and hope to wear for a long time.

Cheap, maybe off-grain fabric leads to the need for extra time spent and probably a less than optimal result. I spent a LOT of extra time on the wonky knit I recently used for the Blackwood cardigan; note that fabric wasn’t ‘cheap’ though I did get it in the sale.
Wonky fabric. A lot of work to salvage it. Final cardigan at the end of the post
There are some shapes which will never suit me - why have I persisted so long? I’m thinking of the vintage style dress I made a couple of years ago - I spent ages trying to fit it. Why? I didn’t suit it.
I thought you'd rather see the pattern envelope than my version which I did post about, though.
I have to remind myself that as a larger and taller individual, I'm not going to look as good as the slim models.

The fabric was a lovely Liberty - but the style of the print and the colour weren't for me.
I had the fabric and made the toile - it was not a good look for me! I have given the pattern away

I’m hoping that trousers/pants don’t fall into this category as I like wearing them and they fit in with my lifestyle. I think wider legged trousers are easier to fit but perhaps not ideal for my shape. I’ve long since given up on the idea of skinny jeans or jeggings.

Quality over quantity
Other than getting trousers to fit well, I don’t have a huge need for clothes!! I have many (not all brilliant quality) and look after them so don’t go through them that quickly. Except for trousers! So it’s important that I take my time, use the best quality fabric for the job, probably natural. I don’t have the space to store a lot more clothes. I’m just not much of a fashionista. I do like well sewn classics that will last forever. As I replace the items I have, I hope that’s the direction I’m steering towards. I should say, I’m willing to add RTW if I come across something suitable (unlikely, sadly). I’m not saying I have to make everything I wear - I would end up nude!

As I approached some trickier bits of sewing (either genuinely trickier or that I believed would be tricky), I found myself procrastinating. I need to avoid this - the actual sewing was never as bad or as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Procrastination means that I end up rushing at the end and leads to mistakes. Actually, I realise that I procrastinate all the time! Like writing this, or reading blog posts or...

Even when I think there is no problem, I need to do more practice sewing. This would have avoided the problem I had with the armhole binding on Helen’s silk dress. As I had successfully done it on a previous version, I assumed it would be okay, but it wasn’t. Different fabric = different issues, even when they are supposed to be ‘identical’. I ended up doing the practice pieces after I had made the mistake in the first place.

I reckon I know what I like and what I want to make so I need to plan out how I’m going to achieve that. I’ve stopped being seduced by the latest pattern I’ve seen. I’ve stopped entering contests and competitions for the sake of it. However, I recognise that as an inherently competitive individual, these do have a place! I’d like to enter the trouser contest late in the spring, hoping that might give me the push I need - but only if the timing is reasonable for the point I’ve reached in the process.

Destash and organise
I have much more fabric and many more patterns than I could sew in my lifetime. Hence, I need to destash. That will help with my space issues. By the way, I have a very large house - it has a disproportionate amount of my stuff in it and a relative lack of storage space. Anyway, when things are stored you forget about them or can’t find them when you want them.

On that note, I planned to continue with the blouse I started before Christmas - but couldn’t find the pieces (already cut out with pattern still pinned to them) anywhere. Turned out I was looking for the wrong container and David found them tonight. So at least I have some work to take to sewing bee next week.

My friend Chris from sewing bee has requested any scraps etc I might create as she is making and stuffing a pouffe. First lot is going to her next week. Sadly, I had dealt with a large bundle just before she asked me. I did have an issue with scraps - some big enough to make ‘something’. Chris also wants the little bits.

Get fit
It would probably be easier to fit me if I was back to nearer the weight I feel comfortable at. The extra weight does appear to lead to extra fitting problems - and of course is bad for my health. I’ve just (re)joined Slimming World on a 12 week ‘Countdown’ membership; in that time apparently, you can be expected to lose 2 stones. That would get me well on the way. I do find the group environment helpful.

I’m not yet able to get back to the gym or golf. My foot is still rather painful. I hope I can get to play on my golfing holiday to Spain in May! Oh, if I’ve lost weight, my pre-existing golf clothes should fit so no great pressure to make more. I don’t need to be high fashion.

I need to do more cooking to make the meals I want for my eating plan; David has done a lot of cooking to let me sew but that is perhaps another reason why my weight has crept up. This of course means less time for sewing but if I am back to my slimmer self, it will be well worth it.

Today I made a lovely vegetable Scotch-type broth. We had it for lunch and 3 portions for the freezer. I also made a lovely chicken, sweet potato and squash tagine; we had it for evening meal and there are a few portions left for another time. These fitted in with my eating plan. If I batch cook, there is hopefully less cooking to do later, and more time to sew!

Actual sewing plans?
No, not yet.
Last year I only managed 2 of my ‘makenine’. At least only 2 were successful. 2 others were disastrous wadders. The others were trousers, jeans and pants - and I didn’t get past the first stage of fitting. As I will lose weight this year, I’m not sure as yet when I’ll start being able to make well-fitting trousers and I’m not going to put unnecessary pressure on myself. I am going to continue to pursue this goal, though

I have decided, though, that I will not sew orphans. Any item I make must go with the previous or the next item I make. I think this is referred to as ‘endless combinations’. However, if a special event requires that I make something then that of course is fine; I sadly don’t go to many special events, so I haven’t figured in making items for these events. (I’d ‘like’ a dress for my birthday)

Earlier in January I  made a Blackwood cardigan and I’m planning a tank to go under it. I’ve chosen the fabric and the pattern but still need to alter it - that has led to this round of procrastination!


  1. Ahh yes, sewing reflections...we could probably all use them from time to time. And I agree, there is a limit to what we need to sew...which means much more time to sew what we should be sewing (theoretically)!!!As for weight issues and sewing - there seem to be a number of approaches to this - some advocate simple garments with elastic and/or easily alterable, some advocate waiting. I guess it really depends - if you need something urgently, something in the former category would work! Quite agree about fabric - I have just binned something - I was trying to make something look nice when I was working with a fabric that was really quite cheap looking was a disappointing online buy. So we all do it...and choose the wrong styles. I find it hard to choose garments that work for my age, stage and lifestyle as well!

    1. Age, stage, lifestyle - yes, I agree. I'm struggling with clothes at the moment because a lot of my garments are too tight. I'm going to go with tops for the moment (less of an issue) and leave the biggy - trousers - for a little but not forever!

  2. I am definitely in your camp when it comes to quality fabric. I want my time to be spent on a garment which will be valued as times goes on. Happy New Year to you!

    1. Yes, I agree - but I'm not quite there yet!!

  3. Very interesting reflections that I think are quite common. I don't mind making something I don't suit if I really love it, but really avoid following trends. I have such a large stash with great quality fabrics yet i find myself sewing with remnants - I think it's the challenge of fitting it on the bits!

    1. I have too many unsuitable fabrics. I do have good quality fabrics and am anxious about sewing them as my skills are not quite where they should be, I feel. I don't follow trends (wrong age and shape anyway!) but if I knew in advance I wouldn't suit something I wouldn't make it. As for the challenge of fitting in the bits - no thank you, not for me! (Though I find myself in that situation at the moment but not by choice)

  4. Interesting reflections. I think the lesser quality fabrics will be fine for toiles. I'm making a lot of those these days. I mark all stitching lines in a (machine stitched) contrasting colour, and all adjustments in a different colour, really helpful for future reference. This way I can use up all kinds of colours and prints and still see what I've been doing. Good luck on the weight loss!

    1. Yes, some of the fabrics will be fine for toiles. Your suggestions are great - I need to be more systematic. Thanks for your good luck for the weight loss - going okay so far.

  5. OOOHHH! Anne- you've hit the nail on the head with your comments! I have so many of the same issues- needing pattern alterations leads to procrastination, bad fabric choices lead to bad makes, creeping weight issues lead to more pattern issues... It's a bad circle of frustration.
    Thank you for writing about this so clearly; maybe it will help me make alter the pattern without procrastinating and so on. Let's move onward towards better makes!

  6. A soul sister! Yes, let's move on!


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