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Yesterday, I sewed

27 Feb

Yesterday, I spent the day sewing. Today I have spent the day thinking about sewing, and wanting to be getting on with more.

Now, that shouldn’t really be an unusual occurrence, for someone who writes a sewing blog, but as the astute among you will notice, it’s coming up to two years since I last wrote a blog post. It’s been over two years since my sewjo went AWOL, to have only been fleetingly glimpsed since. In fact, some of my closest friends have probably never read a blog post that I’ve written, or maybe don’t even know that I have a blog. That’s how long it’s been – that (hopefully) lifelong friendships have been formed in the time since I last wrote a blog post!

November 2014 was the last time that I was completely and utterly in love with sewing. The last time when I’d be dreaming of having more spare time, so that I could shut myself away sewing for hours on end. The time that I went on an amazing trip to Paris with 50 odd other sewists from all over the world, and came back buzzing (I never even wrote a blog post about that trip!).

But since then, the desire to sew just hasn’t been there. I’ve wanted to want to sew, but I just haven’t wanted to, if that makes sense.

In 2015 I sewed a sum total of 4 things – a pair of leggings for myself (which have since sadly seen their demise, a story I will tell another time), a pair of leggings and a dribble bib for a baby, and one dress for myself. In 2016 I don’t think I really touched my sewing machine at all until the person I’m dating asked me if, if she got some flags, I’d be able to make her a dress for a work Christmas party, resembling this:

Flag Dress Brazil Costume - One Size - Dress Size 6-10

It would consist of about 4 lines of stitching, and I reckoned I could manage that, plus y’know, I wanted to endear myself to a relatively new partner (to whose friends I am known as ‘sewing girl’, ahh the joys of online dating profiles, and I thought I’d better at least try to live up to it), so I said yes. And so I made a dress. And it turned out much better than I anticipated. And it kinda, *almost* made me want to sew again. So I did. I made myself another Coco dress. I thought I’d start with something quick and easy, so there was less chance of giving up and not finishing it. It took me a total of about 4 hours, and I love it. So I decided to make another. Same fabric, different colour, but this time with the funnel neck. It didn’t really work. I don’t know why, but the neck just doesn’t sit right. Maybe they’ll appear on here at some point, but we’ll take things one step at a time…

But still, despite some little glowing embers, the burning desire to sew has been absent. To be fair to myself, a lot has been going on in my life in the couple of years since I last really sewed. In that time, I have:

  • Ended a 4 year relationship. My only ever serious, long term relationship, and it was not an easy decision, or an easy process.
  • Changed jobs, twice. Once because I wanted to, second time because my first contract came to an end. Soon to be a third time, as the job I’m currently in is only temporary. I have written so many job applications in the last couple of years that I have lost track.
  • Had three different lodgers living with me.
  • Questioned everything I thought I knew about myself, and my identity, and had a few existential crises along the way. I have come to some conclusions, others I’m still working on.
  • Become an auntie (and nothing gives you a minor life crisis like your younger sister calling you to tell you she is pregnant when you are relatively newly single, and wondering what the hell you’re doing with your life). And no, my (now not-so-) new nephew has never had anything sewn for him, that’s the extent of my lost sewjo! I did start knitting him a jumper, but I have a feeling he may be too big for it before I’ve finished it…
  • Broken my ankle, had surgery on it twice (once to put metal in, once to have metalwork taken out, 5 months later), and am still working through a long recovery process.
  • Suffered from an (ongoing) bout of depression and anxiety, which at times has sucked all feeling out of me, and at other times has left me in a sobbing heap on the sofa for hours on end. The one thing that I feel like the depression has taken from me the most is my enjoyment of things – the buzz that I used to get out of sewing, the energy I used to get from going to roller derby. Gone. And along with it, my desire to do these things.
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Have a nice juicy ankle x-ray photo :D I managed to do a good job of it – broke it in three places and dislocated it. Well, if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it properly!

So, y’know, it’s been a busy time. And not just busy-busy, but kinda life-changing, re-evaluating everything busy. Although don’t get me wrong, although bits of it have been tough, there have been many many very good things in there as well. The last year or so in particular has seen a lot of positive changes.

But I miss sewing. I miss the satisfaction I got out of it, the pleasure I got every time I wore something I’d made. I miss the community. And man, what a community! For a while after I stopped sewing, I kept up with reading blogs, then it dropped to just keeping up with my favourite few blogs. For the last year or so, I don’t think I’ve really looked at any at all. I wanted to stay involved, hoped that reading about other people’s adventures might spark me off to want to sew again. But it kind of felt like I was on the outside looking in. Involved, but not really part of it. Watching everyone else enjoying it while I’m just sitting on the sidelines, without that buzz.

I’ve had the same issues with roller derby, since I broke my ankle. I have wanted to still be involved with the league, still be part of the team, but it’s been a lot harder than I ever anticipated. Going along to training, and watching all your team mates on track, watching people progress without you, just makes me feel sad. As it became evident that I was not going to be back on skates within 3-4 months (currently 6 months and counting), it became harder and harder to be there, but not really be there. As with the sewing, it got to a point where reading other people’s blogs just made me feel sad, and a little guilty (I know that I really have no reason to) that I wasn’t doing any. Every time someone comes to my house and sees my sewing room, and my amazing collection of fabric, I feel incredibly bad for having to say ‘yeah, I don’t really do much sewing any more’.

But throughout this time, I’ve held onto the hope that, one day, my sewjo will come back. I seem to have been saying it for a while now, but I haven’t lost hope. I really do think that life has just got in the way a bit. Every time I see a glimmer or sewjo returning, every time I get enjoyment out of sewing something, it makes me so happy, and gives me hope :)

So, yesterday I sewed. And that makes me happier than you will ever know.

Finished: A bit of a disastrous Colette Zinnia

4 May

Let’s just skip over the fact that it has (again) been a number of months since my last post, and that, 4 months into the year, my sewjo has only made an appearance for one day (seriously?! I want it back!), although I have just started sewing a skirt, trying to kick start my sewjo again! But here’s a skirt I made last year, although not one that was a huge success…

This pattern was a bit of an impulse purchase. When the pattern first came out, I wasn’t fussed by it at all and had no plans at all to buy it. But when I was buying the Hawthorn in the Colette black Friday sale last (er, last last – 2013!) November (no, I havn’t made it yet!), Zinnia suddenly looked very nice to me! I think I must have seen a couple of nice versions around, and it somehow ended up in my basket.

colette_zinnia

I probably wouldn’t have got around to making it up if it wasn’t for the fact that The Stitchery announced that they were going to run a Zinnia sewalong. I decided that I’d make it up during the sewalong to enter into their sewalong competition.

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Doesn’t look too bad here – I think my hands are keeping the pouffiness in check!

I bought this fabric in Goldhawk road specifically for this pattern. You’ve seen this fabric before in the form of the tie I made my grandad for his birthday. The fabric is a Chinese brocade and, in hindsight, is really not a great fabric for this skirt, but more on that later.

colette_zinnia2

I decided to make the pleated version of the skirt. I made this skirt a long time ago, and so don’t remember too many details of the construction, but as far as I can recall, it was fairly smooth. I did try to follow the sewalong, but this was the first sewalong that The Stitchery were running and I don’t think they’d got it down yet. The posts were a little sporadic, and it got to the day before entries were meant to be submitted and there had only been a handful of posts. I did contact them then and ask if they planned to extend it, but didn’t get a reply, so pushed on and got mine done. They did then announce they were extending the sewalong, but the posts were too late for me by that point.

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Pouffy :(

The fabric was a bit of a nightmare to work with – it catches on absolutely everything. Every time it moved across the seeminly smooth edge of my cutting table, I could hear it snagging. The fabric also really didn’t work with the pleats of the skirt – it just had way too much body. I’d say the pleats need a drapier fabric to work well, but actually I think it would work well in something like linen, so I’m not sure what character it is they need. But I do know my my fabric doesn’t have it. My skirt is just ‘pouffy’ below the pleats. I have tried extending the stitching down the pleats a bit further, pressing them (and then trying to press them out again when that didn’t work), and various other things, but nothing really did the job. The pouffyness is actually worse than it appears in most of these photos as I was trying to get some where it didn’t look quite so bad! Trust me, it’s bad!

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Super pouffy – I actually look like I’m about to take off here!

The sad thing is that there are some aspects of this skirt that I really love – I am incredibly proud of the waistband, and the botton closuse – I think that looks really great (although I did somehow manage to make the waistband just a smidgen too small), but I just don’t think the skirt works. Needless to say, it hasn’t been worn, and has just been lying round my sewing room for over a year since I finished it, as I’m not quite sure what to do with it.

colette_zinnia4

BUT, although I don’t have a wearable version (and have yet to dream up a version I want to make that I think will work), I don’t regret buying the pattern, or this fabric tao make it from. If I hadn’t bought that fabric for that skirt, I wouldn’t have had it to be able to make my grandad’s tie, and I think this fabric is perfect for that. Clouds, silver linings and all that.

I might try and make another Zinnia again in the future, should inspiration strike me. In the meantime, anyone have any thoughts on what I could do to turn this into something wearable?

Which sewing magazines do you enjoy?

27 Feb

Over the last couple of years, since I started sewing, I’ve read a fair few sewing magazines, and I thought I’d take some time to share my views on some of the different ones I’ve read, and see which ones you all like.

IMG_9108 The sewing magazines that I most commonly see on shelves are Sewing World and Sew magazine. Occasionally I see a copy of Threads, and Burdastyle is sometimes available as well. For a while, when I first started sewing, I read both Sew and Sewing World semi-regularly. At the time, I just wanted to absorb anything sewing-related I could find, and it was before I really discovered the world of sewing blogs.

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Sew was tempting as it often came with a free pattern, which was very exciting (in the days before I had a pretty sizable pattern stash). Sewing World I think I first discovered when I saw a version of Tilly’s Marielle skirt somewhere, which is a pattern she released in an issue of Sewing World. I liked the skirt so much that I tracked down a back issue of the magazine so that I could get it. (Have I made it yet? Erm…)

While I enjoyed reading both of these magazines, I’d find that I’d flick through them, skip over a lot of the articles that weren’t particularly interesting to me, and have read the whole thing (well, the bits of interest anyway) in about 20 mins. At about £6 each, that was a pretty expensive 20 minutes, and I started to think that I’d rather spend that money on a pattern I really wanted, or put it towards a sewing book that I know I would get a lot of use out of. I did used to buy them occasionally – it was a nice treat when I was in Tesco doing the weekly shopping, to be able to pick myself up something sewing-related as well.

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I had a subscription to Sewing World for 6 months, and while I enjoyed them (and even won a pack of Fat Quarters from one of their competitions I entered), I didn’t extend it after that time. The issue I had with these magazines is that they were a bit too general – they covered so many different kinds of sewing, that it was unlikely to ever all be of interest to me. Every issue there’d be a number of home dec projects/ideas for sewn gifts, probably a couple of patterns or things to sew for kids, maybe a men’s pattern, and a ladies’ pattern or two. While I’m not averse to doing a bit of home dec sewing (I’ve got a number of blinds and curtains that I need to sew up pretty soon), it’s not really my main interest. Similarly kids, I don’t have any, and although I may occasionally sew something for a friend’s baby, that is a rarity. Sewing for men – it’s something I’ll probably do at some point (once Marcus lets me know something that he’d like that isn’t a coat!), but again, not my main interest. That leaves a very small proportion of the magazine that is actually about what I am really interested in.

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It’s cute, but I’m just not sure it’s me…

The same applies to more general crafty magazines like Mollie Makes – there just isn’t enough in it than I’m interested in to make it worth me buying it. I do still occasionally pick up Burda Style, but that’s a different class of magazine – more just a collection of patterns rather than having general magazine content as well.

Love Sewing is one I haven’t tried yet – I won a subscription to it at the SewBrum meet up, but haven’t yet received any issues, so I’ll hold judgement on that (and maybe chase them up)!

A few months ago I picked up a copy of Threads at the airport when I was flying to Sicily. I figured it would give me something to flick through on the flight. That magazine kept me entertained for the whole flight – I basically read it cover to cover, and there were a couple of articles in particular that I found especially interesting, and I’m now keen to try out those techniques.

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I love the clear step-by-step instructions of techniques in Threads

I think the main difference that makes Threads so much more enjoyable, is it’s focus primarily on dressmaking. It means that pretty much the entire magazine is of interest to me, and makes it much more worth the money (it also happens to be cheaper than most of the ones I’ve already mentioned. Marcus gave me a subscription to Threads for Christmas, so I’ve now got my fix for the next year – and I don’t have to worry about tracking it down in the shops, which is an issue I had – Threads and Burdastyle don’t seem to be as widely available.

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Yes! This was something I needed!

I would love it (and I know I’m not the only one) if there was a UK equivalent to Threads, although I guess the advantage of reading a US magazine is that all the advertising is lost on me and can’t persuade me to buy anything ;) I noticed this week there is a new sewing magazine on the block – Simply Sewing, which is produced by the same people as Mollie Makes. It will be interesting to see if it fills this current hole in the UK sewing magazine market – I’m sceptical to be honest  – their description seems to imply it includes home dec and embroidery as well, and the sewing special that Mollie Makes produced around Christmas did not seem to be particularly well received – I had a flick through it in the shop and decided it wasn’t worth buying, and I know some people who bought it and wished they hadn’t bothered! But I’ll have a look at Simply Sewing if I come across it in a shop, and see what I think.

So, which sewing magazine you read and enjoy? Do you think there’s still a gap in the market? Do you think there is still a place for sewing magazines given the number of websites and blogs dedicated to the subject? While I could probably find most of what is in a magazine on the internet, I quite like being able to sit down and flick through, and maybe come across something that I wouldn’t have done if I had to look for it on the internet. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Author| Blogger| Freehand cutter

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