I stumbled across the #feelingsewmuchbetter challenge on instagram after a few people I follow posted for the first day. Its run by Sister Mintaka, a fabric shop and haberdashery, and the premise is to pick a project and sew a bit everyday and hopefully finish by the end of the week and a winner is picked randomly each day to receive Sister Mintaka vouchers. I thought I would join in as I often sew for a whole day straight and I very rarely take more than 2/3 days of continuous sewing to finish a project. As a very busy person I decided it would probably do me a lot of good mentally and physically to force myself to just do a little bit each day. Its not about finishing, its about doing every step slowly and consciously and enjoying the process. I thought I would blog about it for this exact reason because its a new experience, something to document, discuss and share. I will do a micro-blog each day and then I’ll review at the end of the week. Without further ado lets get going!
After only finding out about the challenge at lunch time, I spent the rest of today thinking about what project, fi any, I would like to attempt to join in. I say ‘if any’ because I didn’t want to just sew for the sake of it if it wasn’t something I had planned on making but I went through my stash extension – which is the part of my stash that has escaped the main box and so needs to be sewed more urgently – and decided that it was finally time to have a go at my Tilly and the Buttons Nora jumper. I’ve been meaning to make one for ages and this pattern does feature on my make nine grid for 2021. For fabric I chose a fun scuba/textured midnight blue jersey remnant which I’ve had in my stash for a while. Looking forward to sewing this project this week!
Disaster struck almost immediately tonight as I laid out my pattern pieces on my fabric and immediately found I didn’t have enough fabric. I always forget that Tilly and the Buttons patterns do actually use the amount of fabric they say they will on the pattern envelope! So it was back to the drawing board and I came up with the two fabrics you can see on my instagram story below. I asked you all to help me choose which fabric I should use and it came back as a straight 50/50 which was unhelpful. At that point I mentally decided that I am definitely going to make both of these into a Nora as I think they would both be cute for different reasons but honestly it came down to the fact that I am absolutely freezing so I chose the extremely cosy Salmon/Coral-Coloured Knit from Lamazi Fabrics and I will make the Polka Dot Nora in the summer as the fabric is very light. I then got on to cutting the fabric and stupidly I decided to use my mid-range scissors instead of my super fancy new ones and I wish I hadn’t! This fabric was a pain to cut and foresee some frustrating and slippery sewing so the jumper better be super snuggly. One thing I would mention is that once again the Tilly and the Buttons patterns have got my back up as I think the sizing is way off. I came up as a 12 in the pattern due to my bust which I wouldn’t mind if the waist was right but its not, I wear a 36″ bust but a 26/27″ waist which normally puts me between two sizes which I have to grade. However for Tilly and the Buttons I am two sizes apart and trust me its really hard to grade between an 8 and a 12 especially when we think about shoulders and back pieces. I don’t know what it is about the bodice block because the waist to hip ratio is pretty standard. I come up as an 8/10(by an inch) which is absolutely fine but I wonder if there is a reason the bodice block is so square? In this case I’m making a 12 because its for loungewear so I don’t care about a close fit but its really frustrating!
Today I was exhausted but I wanted to do something relating to my project so I decided to do something I almost never do – I actually read the instructions…in detail. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who does this so I might sound a bit weird but I often don’t read instructions, I will give them and the picture a glance for a bout 5 seconds and get one with it. The instructions I read are for techniques I’ve never done before, the first step of a pattern and of course I will depth read if I’m pattern testing for someone else. However on a normal day-to-day sewing basis I normally find that I know how garments are constructed and after about two steps I just get on with it. To me it feels like doing ‘nets’ in maths where you have a flat-lay of an object and you can see how it goes together so the instructions are kind of secondary unless its a complex garment – does that make sense? let me know in the comments below if its just me who’s weird like this. Anyway, I sat and I read as much as possible particularly as I’m determined to really make this jumper step by step. I know some people have chosen really tough projects this week but I have chosen something extremely simple that I would normally do in a couple of hours to make sure I actually take my time and sew slowly and consciously. Now I’m off to bed but I feel better armed to tackle this project step by step!
I actually started sewing today and I made myself just do the first two steps. I stabilised the shoulders with some ribbon I had in my stash, it doesn’t match but its on the inside so who cares. Also I almost never use ribbon so I have no idea why I have so much? The pattern instructions suggested using a satin ribbon but I went for a quite stiff textured ribbon as my fabric is so fine and slippery so I thought it would work better, which it has. I then attached the shoulder seams and stopped there. Although I’ve been thinking about this project all week I feel strange stopping after these two steps as I know I could sew more right now but I am making myself stop and do something else. I’m trying to celebrate the steps, the little wins that make up a project. This fabric also has the potential to be immensely frustrating as its so fine that pins just fall out of it soo maybe its better for me mentally to take this make day at a time.
I’m starting to get into this slow sewing malarky! When reviewing my progress tonight and posting to instagram I got some lovely comments praising me for my stripe matching on my neckband which is hilarious because its entirely accidental. I swear whenever I don’t think about it I match patterns really well and whenever I try it doesn’t work. Regardless, the neckband is on and I’m pretty proud of it. Its nice and wide so I’m hoping I will be able to pull it on without having to take my glasses off. The dream.
Today I nearly fell into the trap of keeping going and finishing my jumper today I’ve got the sleeves on which I’m happy with, they are even and neat and I’m so happy that due to the marl of the wool my white zigzag stitching is completely invisible as I had to fix one bit where I had accidentally caught the sleeve. I was just going to move on and do the side seams but I had to stop as I was getting so frustrated by the pins falling out of the fabric. Also I’m feeling really under the weather today (not Covid don’t worry) but I feel hot and cold and I keep shaking so I’m going to give it a rest now and have a very early night.
It’s the final day of the challenge and all I have to do is finish up the side seams, hem sleeves and close the stepped edges. I have been sat editing this blog this morning and listening to the Un:Cut Podcast which has been really relaxing and as I was sat thinking I realised the solution to my pin problem – I have fabric clips now! I’m not used to them yet as I only got them over Christmas but they worked like an absolute dream on my Nora. The only issue I had is that the sleeves were SIX INCHES, yes you read that right, six inches too long so I had to chop half the sleeve off to make it fit! Head over to my instagram to see how bad the situation was!
Here is my finished Nora! I love parts of it. I like the neckline, the fabric is so cosy and soft and I like the stepped hem. On the downside it is like a literal tent on me and honestly I don’t think I could wear it outside the house unless its tucked into something. The sizing is way off and after a rant on instagram this morning and many conversations with you all it seems the consensus is that Tilly and the Buttons sizing is not made for anyone with a significantly larger bust than waist. I chose a size based on my bust measurements but the rest of the garment is so enormous and its not even fitted on the bust so I think next time I will make a size smaller. Also having to cut 6 inches off the sleeve surely shows that something is wrong with this pattern? Although I love Tilly’s patterns I will be approaching them with caution in future and plenty of measuring, toile making and further attention to the finished garment measurements as well as the pattern sizing!
As for the Sister Mintaka #FeelingSewMuchBetter challenge I’ve loved it. I’ve loved giving myself permission to take things slowly, I’ve loved taking time over my makes and its been nice to do 5 minutes everyday. I’ve really enjoyed the consistency! Also its been wonderful to be part of a big community effort and see what everyone else has been making this week. Now I’m off to have a cosy night in my enormous Nora before the work week starts again!