My Week In Sewing: Me Made Wardrobe and Upcoming Sewing Plans

Hello everyone! This week you join me on the sofa cutting out patterns and giving myself a home pedicure with one of the Fast and Furious films in the background. Its been a busy couple of weeks with very little sewing if I’m honest. But then that is the point of these blogs, to be honest about my sewing! 

Part of the reason I’ve done very little sewing is that last weekend I took a trip up to Birmingham to visit my school friends who I’ve not seen in forever. It was lovely to get a weekend away after a busy week and nice to visit a city for the first time! I was very good and didn’t visit any fabric shops instead we just had a wander around and went for dinner and drinks then brunch on the Sunday morning. Although I couldn’t get any sewing done, it was lovely to take a me made wardrobe on tour. Since my me made wardrobe has grown I actively enjoy packing for trips. Trying to find new styles and looks, combining new garments, and really revelling in the joy of making and wearing my own garments. It was a scorching weekend so I pulled out my old favourite, the McCalls #M8090 made in this beautifully pattered viscose paired with my new denim jacket (left) as discussed in my last blog! Then  for brunch it was a little cooler so I brought out my McCalls #M7531 striped jersey dress with the same denim jacket(right). Packing for one night is always challenging and both garments roll up very small so are ideal for the backpack. 

Although covid and lockdown allowed me to advance my sewing endlessly and create lots of beautiful garments, it also robbed me of a chance to actually wear any of them. Now that we have the freedom to socialise and travel I am really enjoying styling my me made wardrobe. I had the wonderful sensation the other day of looking into my wardrobe and seeing that well over half is now me-made. I have also started a new system of organising my wardrobe using colour. Not only is it visually very appealing when I open the door, its also making it much easier for me to find garments. I’ve discovered that when I’m thinking about outfits I tend to choose a colour first and then a style or combination. I think that’s the trick to sorting your wardrobe, its finding a system that works for you and sticking to it. 

The other reason I’ve managed very little sewing is because almost every night this week there has been a points failure at Marylebone so I’ve been late home every night. Even on Thursday night when I was lucky enough to go to the ballet with Adam’s mum and sister (we saw swan lake it was amazing!!) I got to the station for the 11pm train and again we were 40 minutes late leaving meaning I got home past midnight. Taking travel difficulties into account, plus the fact that every spare moment is being spent on my MA dissertation, you can see why not much sewing is happening. I do have lots of sewing I want to do though. The inspiration is definitely there, I’m just time poor at the moment. 

So! Lets talk about what I am sewing and hoping to sew. First up is my next ambassador project for Cashmerette, I can’t talk about the pattern but I am hoping to manage a trip down to town this afternoon to pick up the fabric. It will be a super quick sew, I just don’t have any suitable fabric in my stash. I will reveal that it’s a stretch pattern and I so rarely sew with jersey that I am breaking my fabric ban because I genuinely have nothing appropriate. I also need to buy some thread so I can hem a dress, and I will also need some buttons. The deal is, I write 500 words on my lit review and I get to go into town! 

Next up are two slip dresses. One is my next Friday Pattern company slip dress, I’m making the long version in a size smaller, and the other is the Jessica Slip Dress from Tammy Handmade which I’m going to make in a Black Cupro. I’m planning to do a youtube video about all three slip dress patterns and give feedback on how they all compare and fabric suggestions etc. I’m hoping that will be ready for the Jubilee Weekend so keep an eye out if you subscribe to me on YouTube!

The final active project I’ve got at the moment is my Chalk and Notch Wren which I’m making in this gorgeous red viscose from Stitch & Ink! I’ve cut it out, I just need to get going with it. I think I’m going to have a go tonight so I at least get some sewing time in this weekend. 

As you can see I’ve got lots I want to do, lots I’m excited about sewing. I’m just struggling for time. This morning is the first time this week I truly feel like I’ve had a moment to myself to just relax. Then I’m off to write more of my dissertation and then hopefully (fingers crossed!) a trip to town in the sunshine. The final thing I’ve been working on you will see tonight! My guest blog for Lush Cloth will be going live and I’ll finally be able to tell you all about one of my favourite new makes that has been ruling my work wardrobe. 

It wouldn’t be a My Week In Sewing blog unless I did my pattern and fabric highlight. As always these are in no way sponsored, they are just fabrics and patterns that I’ve seen this week and am secretly coveting!

Pattern: This week’s pattern of the week is the Carolyn Pyjamas from Closet Core. I’ve been thinking about making myself a super light pair of summer pyjamas for a while and I think the Carolyn is the dream pattern! Now I just need to find a suitably light fabric for when its ultra hot.

Fabric: My fabric of the week is not from one shop but all week I’ve been dreaming about White Broderie Anglaise! I’ve never sewn with it but I’ve always loved it. I’m still looking for the perfect one, Sew Sew Sew have this in coral and there is talk it may be coming in white in July! Until then I’ll be swishing around in Broderie Anglaise in my dreams.  

That’s all from me this week, but have a great week everyone and hopefully next week I will have lots of beautiful things to show you!

My Week In Sewing: Slip Dresses & Summer Sewing

Hello everyone, here we are back again! Honestly I missed last week because of a combination of the Bank Holiday making me forget what day was Sunday and my final MA assessment (apart from my dissertation) was due on Tuesday so I was writing all weekend anyway. Thus a Sunday missed but not much sewing week before last so no harm no foul.

This morning I spent a lovely couple of hours sat outside in the sunshine, basking like the salamander that I am, reading, and starting to think about my summer holiday wardrobe. I have not actually been on a hot summer holiday since I started sewing more seriously. So there is a lot to think about. In July I’m going to Menorca for 4 days with one of my best friends in the world, we are going to sunbathe, read, drink by the pool, and thats pretty much it! We both seriously need a break and we have the same heat tolerance so its perfect. Now I have begun the very exciting task of considering my wardrobe. Its not that long a holiday but I want lots of options and ideally I want everything except my existing swimwear to be me-made. This morning I sat out and read in my McCalls #M8090 dress and it has definitely earned the first spot in my suitcase. I made this dress last summer and I loved it from the second I put it on, its light weight, floaty, a nice length and but still covered enough to protect your arms and chest from sunburn which I definitely need. I’ve got some other ideas but nothing concrete as of yet but I am definitely going to film a vlog of the final wardrobe when I’m back from holiday.

I’ve been quite quiet over on instagram and on my youtube community tab recently, not that I can really get to grips with that last one I’ll be honest… My quietness is not due to lethargy but actually because I’ve been doing some secret sewing that I can’t reveal to you just yet. For one garment the pattern has not yet been released, for the other I’ve got a guest blog to write before I can show you the make publicly but, spoiler alert, I love them both. Something I can tell you about however is the Butterick pattern I’ve been chipping away at for the past few weeks (pictured on the left). The skirt finally went on last night (hooray!) but there is still a lot of work to do on this dress. The fabric is so slippery that it is astonishingly irritating to work with and I’m having to baste everything to get the right placement. I’m not kidding, pins just fall out of this fabric! However I do have a time limit so I’ve got to get on with it. In two weeks time I am going to the Royal Opera House to see Swan Lake with Adam’s mum and sister and ideally I would like to wear this dress. However there are other options in my wardrobe if this one tries my patience too much.

Last weekend I was also finally able to reveal both my Sicily Slip Dress(left) and my Saltwater Slip (right). It’s so great to have them both out in the world now and feel free to head over to my youtube to find out how I got on making them both. The Sicily has grown on me massively, particularly since I cut half of it off but the Saltwater? I hate it. Or at least I hate the one that I have made. I’m not going to give up because I really do like the pattern, instead I’m treating my first endeavour as a wearable toile. This time around I will be making the longer version in a size smaller in a different fabric and adding the waist ties. I’m also considering a second Sicily but just as a top this time because I think it would look amazing tucked into jeans.

As you all know, I have a penchant for short dresses both in the summer and the winter. Now that my slip dresses have been revealed, the genre of slip dress fashion is open to me and I’ve been considering how best to style them within my wardrobe. I am trying to buy as little as possible and curate a beautiful me made wardrobe, however when I see a piece that I love and will keep for many years I think its worth buying it. What I am trying to train myself to do is to do less impulse shopping. For example, yesterday when I was in London I tried on the most incredible M&S denim jacket embroidered with daisies. I loved it when I saw it on the mannequin, I tried it on in the changing rooms and realised then that it would look amazing with my Sicily slip dress, my white trainers and a pony tail for a more casual summer look.

However sometimes shopping in London specifically can make me way more impulse prone that I am usually so I resolved to think about it. I left the store and 5 minutes into my bus ride to the station I had managed to think of about 8-10 outfits which I wear in the winter that could easily become summer outfits with the addition of this jacket. By the time I was on the train home I was utterly bereft that I had not bought the jacket. I talked it through with Adam, I looked at my wardrobe, I considered if I might find something else better, I um-ed and ah-ed all morning but finally decided on mature consideration to order it online today.

Although it is spending money which with the cost of living crisis I’m really trying not to do, I feel that a proper denim jacket is a good investment for my wardrobe and something I will have for a very long time. I had one as a teenager for 4/5 years before I grew out of it and i wore it constantly, since then I’ve not had one but I have felt the lack of it in my wardrobe. So I have made an investment in my wardrobe. That was the theme of yesterday because I also decided to go and get a bra fitting for the first time in 4 years and also invested in two new bras that fit me. What with that, the jacket, and a little bit of summer fabric shopping at Stitch and Ink, I’m on a spending money ban until my holiday in July!

However thanks to me small shopping excursion I do now have some exciting fabric plans my long saltwater in a black ditsy floral viscose, a wide check gingham version of my Cashmerette Roseclair Wrap Dress, and a mystery red dress for an engagement party we are going to at the end of July. I should point out that the dress is only a mystery because I can’t think of a pattern just yet rather than it intentionally being a mystery. It will have gathers, It will be floaty but other than that I have no idea. Suggestions are very much welcome in the comments below.

One thing I did want to talk about in this blog is Me Made May. Last year I took part in Me Made May by wearing a me made garment everyday and posting a picture on instagram. I felt that it really helped me to get to know my wardrobe better. This year I’m going a different way. The mending pile in my house has now become a mending bin bag and its got to be dealt with. So this month my focus is going to be on mending and caring for my existing wardrobe. I’m hoping to film a mending vlog when I have time and I’ll do a post at the end of the month to say how I got on but other than that you probably won’t see a huge amount from me about Me Made May. Apart from anything I don’t want to procrastinate from the mending by posting about it! But I am taking part, just in my own way.

This week’s fabric of the week comes is a deadstock viscose from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn that I am absolutely in love with! I saw this green fabric no fewer than 5 times on different people when I was in Covent Garden yesterday and it looked stunning. I’m not normally one for bright green but this fabric has got me sorely tempted!

This week’s pattern of the week is the aptly named Jessica Slip Dress from Tammy Handmade which is the next slip dress on my horizon. I adore Tammy’s patterns and can’t wait to get stuck into this one. It might even be a candidate for my new red fabric!

Thats all from me this week but can’t wait to catch-up with you next weekend when me and my me made wardrobe will be going on a little road trip up to Birmingham to see an old school friend of mine!

My Week In Sewing: Holidays, Bomber Jackets, and Summer Sewing

Hello everyone and welcome back to the So What If I Sew blog! We are back for another ‘My Week In Sewing’ except technically it is two weeks as last weekend we were away on holiday. It’s been an exceedingly busy two weeks and I have been really looking forward to sitting down on my sofa with a cup of tea and taking a moment to reflect and write this blog. As we were off work from Friday to Thursday and actually away Saturday to Tuesday, the weeks have somewhat blurred into one so I will do my best to separate them and remember the interesting things but honestly its more likely to be a thematic blog this week!

Last week(w/c 11th) I was working on an exhibition opening and I have to say my me-made work wardrobe really came into its own. I wore my second Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress – which to tell the truth isn’t completely finished( I still need to sort the sleeves) but I wore it anyway and no one noticed so I’m counting that as a win. Then for the night of the private view I got my favourite Nina Lee Portobello trousers out – stylish, elegant, and space for two phones and an epi-pen in the pockets and a radio on the waistband! Then on Maundy Thursday the sun shone and I unearthed a make I had completely forgotten about. This McCalls M7531 midi dress(shown on the left) in a super cute pink stripey ribbed jersey from Sew Much Moor. It was funny, I was sat in bed on Wednesday night trying to figure out what to wear, I was going into the office and then having dinner in London in the evening with a friend so needed an outfit to do both. Then as I scrolled through my instagram account my me-made wardobe came galloping to the rescue! This dress was made in October and the fabric is far too thin to wear in the winter so I had just sort of forgotten about it but I love that even though the fabric is lightweight, the length helps to keep you warm and cosy, I love how comfortable it is while still looking smart, and I love the colours. Now that this make has been brought to the front of the wardrobe, I know it will be getting top billing for the rest of the spring/summer.

One of the functions of these blogs is take a moment and think about my week. I know I mentioned I was starting to be a bit better about taking time for myself but this philosophy sort of dissolved in the run up to the holiday as so much had to be done before I left. However on reflection I did manage to take some time for myself before it all kicked off! I started last week with a relaxed Sunday at the hairdressers. My appointments take roughly 6 hours but I really value that time to sit and relax, to read a magazine, to get a bit of local gossip, and generally enjoy time that is truly my own. I had dinner with a friend that I’ve not really seen since January 2020 which was wonderful and on Good Friday Adam and I had a wonderful relaxed afternoon in town together. What originally was a quick admin trip for birthday presents and picking up shoes from Timpsons, devolved into a full day together in town including lunch out and some shopping for me – I managed with great difficult to stay away from the fabric shop but I am on a fabric ban until I have enough space to the fabric I currently own! I also managed to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to finish my purple satin dress in time for our weekend away so instead of stressing and beating myself up I decided to be kind to myself and I ended up buying a RTW jumpsuit(as shown below with the bomber jacket) and a red jersey dress. Both of which I adore and fit me perfectly! Thats the funny thing, when you fully stop shopping for clothes and sew most of your wardrobe, buying something RTW becomes a lovely treat. Something that happens once in a while and that I appreciate far more than I used to. I really enjoyed trying things on, thinking about upcoming makes and silhouettes but not feeling pressure to get anything just engaging with my love of clothes and treating myself after what has been a really intense couple of years.

My main sewing project last week was my first Cashmerette Club pattern, the Kimball Bomber Jacket. I used a ponte di roma jacquard for the main jacket, black ribbing for the cuffs, neckline, and waistband, and a cosy viscose for the sleeve lining. Looking at this garment both in photos and on the sofa next to me right now, I still can’t quite believe I made it. So lets talk construction details: this project involved bias bound seams, zip pockets, jacket zips, and it allowed me a first go at quilting fabric. The sleeves are made of three layers of fabric, an outer jacket layer, an inner lining, and then a layer of batting sandwiched between the two to give the sleeve some body. It also contributes to making the jacket super cosy to wear. I quilted it by eye which was tricky, as neither fabric would take chalk markings, but it worked out fine if a tiny bit messy and then literally yesterday while I was tidying I discovered that I have a quilting foot for my machine. That would definitely have helped!

The pockets were also a real learning curve, for some reason I really struggled to get my head around attaching the pocket bags for the zips, but sure enough doing just one step at a time and not reading ahead(not reading ahead helps me when I a overthinking and I just need to focus on the step at hand), the instructions guided me through and I have two excellent pockets. There are also loads of other techniques in this that were a little new to me such as bias bound seams – which I love! All in all it was a real journey and I’m incredibly proud of it. I mean…please don’t look at the inside or anything and its by no means perfect, but I am extremely happy with the result and I know its going to get alot of use this summer. I was so proud of it that I wore it out in London on the Saturday night and made Adam take photos of me against a cool black wall outside our hotel. I had a bit of a vogue moment and I regret nothing. Side note: do we love my new sunglasses? The result of over an hour trying sunglasses on at TK Maxx but I am very pleased!

The bomber jacket and jumpsuit emsemble was in honour Adam’s mum’s 60th Birthday, we had dinner with most of his extended family and then went to see Cabaret which was an absolutely wonderful production. If you get the chance to visit the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre I thoroughly recommend it! Then on the Sunday we escaped to the countryside for a few days walking and relaxing at a country house hotel in the North Downs to celebrate our anniversary. On our way back through London on Tuesday we rounded the trip off with nearly two hours, and an ungodly amount of money, spent in the enormous Waterstones in Gower Street. All in all a wonderful weekend and very much needed! Since we got back earlier this week we’ve been trying to sort things out as between work, Adam and I being ill, my MA, and the holiday, we STILL haven’t finished unpacking the house after the move! I know everyone says that unpacking takes time but Adam and I are normally very very speedy unpackers so it is a little stressful that the flat still isn’t completely sorted. We will get there though and there really isn’t that much left to do, it just feels a lot at the moment – we shall prevail!

However I have had time to get some good sewing in this week! After work on Friday I got the overlocker out and finished all the seams on my white Marlo cardigan. Now I just need to decide whether I want to put buttons on it or if I’m happy with it as it is. I have also been beavering away at my Harriet Bra and I am pleased to report that I now have about 75% of an actual bra! The casing is going to be attached next and then elastic to almost every side and then I just need to wait for the rings and sliders to arrive so that I can attach the straps. Idiotically I used my original rings and sliders on my Friday Pattern Company Saltwater Slip Dress which I will be able to tell you all about next weekend. Yesterday evening I also managed a little batch cutting and cut out my next Cashmerette ambassador project – I can’t reveal the pattern just yet – and my Closet Core Pietra trousers which I’m hoping to start this week as well.

I even managed to get a vlog out this weekend! Head over to my youtube channel for updates on my favourite spring makes, my summer plans, and an update on my make nine challenge.

So its been a week (or two!) of bits and pieces. I’m sorry I don’t have anything more meaningful to discuss this week but I really do love these blogs as a way to chat to you all and give you little updates on my sewing. Sadly there will be no sewing for me today as I need to write 3000 words of my dissertation for tomorrow for my tutor to review – wish me luck! Its only my lit review and I have done a massive amount of reading and I’m also fully prepared that what I give her on Monday is very much a first draft and I will most likely edit it a further 6 times before my tutor does her second review. However there is just time to squeeze in this week’s favourite fabric and patterns!

Pattern of the Week: Absolutely loving the Cashmerette Vernon Shirt at the moment! I’m on a Cashmerette kick at the moment and I definitely fancy the idea of making a shirt with no gape and no pulling buttons!

Fabric of the Week: This Ecru Patterned Viscose from Sew Sew Sew has absolutely stolen my heart! I want culottes, I want a dress, I want a skirt, I want absolutely anything and everything in this fabric!

Anyway, I had better get on with my dissertation so thank you all for joining me again this week and I’ll see you next weekend for another My Week In Sewing!

My Week In Sewing: Batch Projects, My New Sewing Space, and The Cashmerette Club

Welcome back to week two of the My Week In Sewing blog feature. I have to say I have been looking forward to sitting down and writing this all week! This past week has been far more sewing focussed, started some new projects, I kept going with some old ones, I tried a new philosphy of sewing and I have an exciting announcement so grab a cup of tea and join me for a round up of my week.

After a week off with illness I returned to work on Monday. My week off definitely helped me slow down and gain perspective and I was determined to try and carry that into the week. Needless to say that didn’t necessarily happen, by Wednesday I found myself all stressed and tense again however I did manage to take 30 minutes to myself everyday which I think is an improvement. Furthermore although I could feel myself returning to old habits I was at least aware of those habits and I do feel like I’ve made positive progress. I guess the key is, as with all long term change, to remeber that nothing is going to happen overnight. I’ve done the hard bit and realised that I have to change my habits but the reality is that I am tackling habits that have been instilled in me since birth so its going to take some hard work to unlearn them. However, it is strange what a period of rest and reflection can do for your motivation. On Monday I started a project that I have literally been putting off for a year. A whole year! I started cutting out my Cloth Habit Harriet Bra. It was one of those moments where you realise that you were actually worrying about nothing. For more news on this make look out for a youtube sew-a-long coming in two weeks time!

This week’s mantra came from a podcast I was listening to which discussed whether something is convenient or whether its positive i.e. when you make a decision are you making that decision because its just easier to do it that way or because it will be actively positive for you. A good example of this for me is going to ballet, I adore going to ballet but often its just easier to work out at home when I get back from work. However if I really think about it, actually going to ballet and socialising with the class would be much more beneficial for me. Sometimes its not possible to go but often all I need to do is remember to put leggings and ballet shoes in my work bag and then I would be able to go. I decided to go to ballet on Thursday and I had a wonderful time so I’ll definitely be going regularly after the easter break – although I should highlight that I can still barely straighten my legs today they are so sore!

This mantra has also made me consider when I have energy and what I should do with those periods. Something I see lots of sewists do, but could never stomach myself, is batch cutting. My style of sewing used to be, one project at a time, long sewing days, cutting and sewing everything pretty much on the same day. The issue with that system is that it means I have nothing to work on in the week without starting a whole new project, something that I rarely have the time or energy to do on Wednesday night for example. Here enters a product that I was shamelessly influenced to buy by Ruan (The Yorkshire Sew Girl) which are these amazing A3 project bags. I bought them off amazon, I got a pack of 5 and I am in love. They allow me to batch cut projects when I have the energy and then during the week when I have a moment to sew I can grab which ever project I want to work on, do five minutes of sewing, and then put the project back in the bag in whatever state it is in! Honestly these bags have revolutionised my sewing. Part of the reason I used to try to get so much done in one session was so that I didn’t have little pieces of fabric or pattern floating around that might get lost. Being able to grab a project and work on it as much or as little as I am able and then safely store it away has really helped me to feel comfortable with any amount of progress and I feel like my sew-jo has flowered again as a result.

Adam finally tested negative for covid so I was able to move back into the bedroom on Thursday. Although it was really rubbish isolating from each other for such a long time, there was one big positive. Having too sleep in the office meant that I had to unpack the room to make space for a bed. The result? The bed is out and now my section of the office / sewing room is full unpacked and beautiful. My sewing machines are out on the side board, my desk it clear, all my sewing supplies are stowed appropriately and the space feels calm and relaxed. I have filmed a tour of my new sewing space which I am really excited to share with you but you will see all next week!

This week I also started quite an ambitious project which is the Cashmerette Kimball Bomber Jacket an exclusive pattern to the Cashmerette Club of which I am now a member! The lovely team at Cashmerette have invited me to be a Cashmerette Club Collaborator so I will be having a go at some of the beautiful patterns and sharing my thoughts with you all. This is immensely exciting to me as I absolultely love Cashmerette patterns. They are primarily a plus size brand however they have expanded into straight size patterns but with proper cup size options – hallelujah! As any of you who have followed me for a while will know, I have a significant bust to waist ratio which can make some patterns completely inaccessible unless im willing to do a multiude of full bust adjustments which (spoiler alert) I can very rarely be bothered to do and often ruin the line of the original pattern because of the amount I have to add. Enter cashmerette patterns where I can make a US size 2 (UK 6) but with a G cup on the bodice! This bomber jacket pattern has been great fun so far, I’m working with a Ponte di Roma Jacquard and a viscose lining from Sew Sew Sew and this week I had my first ever go at quilting to create the sleeves of the jacket! I’m very nervous and I hope the jacket turns out well but I’m hoping to reveal it next week for you all providing I can pluck up the courage to insert the zips.

So its been a busy week! To round it all off I hit 5k followers over on instagram which is very exciting. It’s not exactly the most important thing in the world, but it was nice to take a moment yesterday and appreciate what a wonderful community I am part of and how happy I am to have an international community of sewing friends.

Now I’m off to get my hair done so I can return to a full head of blonde hair in time for our easter weekend away but before I go allow me to highlight my favourite patterns and fabrics I’ve spotted this week!

Pattern pick of the week: The Chalk & Notch Wren Top & Dress gains this week’s spot for pattern of the week! I discovered Chalk & Notch back in January and I have absolutely fallen in love with their patterns. The designs are beautiful and there are two cup sizes available across the whole size range which is fabulous.

Fabric pick of the week: White Broderie Anglaise from Sew Much Moor is my favourite fabric this week. It always makes me think of spring / summer although I’ve never had the confidence to sew with it! I’d like to have a go this year, I’m thinking possibly a fourth Amaya Shirt but let me know in the comments below of any patterns that work well with this fabric.

Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed this week’s installment. I’ll see you next time for another My Week In Sewing!

My Week In Sewing: Sickness, Cosy Cardigans, and my Sicily Slip Dress

Hello everyone, I’ve been saying this a lot recently but welcome back after a brief hiatus. I’m hoping to have to say that less but life is what life is. The challenge from starting a blog in lockdown is that returning to the office, commuting, and generally being out of the house limits the time to blog. Furthermore the stress of returning to a hectic pace of life often means that when I do have time physically, I don’t have space mentally to think about writing. In many ways I felt pressure for this blog to be a practical outlet but now that I have my youtube as a zone for practical sew-a-longs and pattern discussions I wanted to take time to evaulate what this space is for me. The original purpose was always to share my sewing journey, so thats what I’m going to do.

Those of you who follow me on youtube will recognise the name of this series. For a good portion of 2020 and 2021 I would vlog my whole week and share it with you and I loved doing it. It was fun to share what I was up to from home and to share the reality of my sewing journey at that time. However since returning to the office and to commuting, I don’t have the same type of sewing time anymore and it became a real challenge to film anything interesting. So a few weeks ago I had a bright idea! I am bringing the My Week In Sewing segment across to the blog. I’ll still be able to share my week with you plus its a no stress way for me to keep blogging while also taking much needed time to process my week. I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I am going to enjoy writing it.

My Week In Sewing: 28th March – 3rd April

This week is an interesting one in which to start this series because the majority of my week did not include sewing. In fact I was extremely unwell this week and landed in hospital on Wednesday with a fever, low blood pressure, and a chest infection that was having a good go at becoming pneumonia. However I am definitely on the mend and in many ways the opportunity to stop doing absolutely everything and just rest and focus on my health was a blessing. While I didn’t have much sewing time at the start of the week, I was still thinking about sewing all the time and that is something that can be very hard to capture on a vlog so I’m excited to share those thoughts with you.

Last week was gorgeously hot, as the end of March often is, and I got a chance to debut my Me Made spring and early summer wardrobe. I also started my annual spring body reset where I start moisturising my legs again, sorting out my nails, and putting on face suncream everyday. So even though it turned colder this week and the jumpers went firmly back on, my brain was very much rooted in spring patterns and fabrics. This mood was further bolstered by an exciting package from the Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn sale (shown below) with a beautiful lilac crinkle satin and a rust colour polka dot viscose.

I’ve never really sewn with anything lilac because I used to find with my old hair that it washed me out but my new blonde hair definitely helps to warm up my skin tone so I’m hoping it will look good. I’m just trying to find a pattern for this fabric. I definitely want to make a dress, most likely sleeveless and long but not necssarily flowing, and categorically no buttons. I’m racking my brains for something with the right silhouette so if you have any ideas do let me know in the comments below!

While I was lying in a bed in A&E on Wednesday I looked down at my trousers and noticed that they were starting to go threadbare at the knees and thighs. I’m sorry to say that I have an emergency/inpatient hospital outfit and have done since around 2018. The key to dressing for hospital I always think is convenience and comfort so for years my go to has been a comfy lounge/yoga bra (no metal so you don’t have to take it off for scans), a short sleeved black t-shirt, so they can access your arm for blood tests, cannulars, and blood pressure monitoring, a zippy hoodie or cardigan (something that can go over your shoulders if you aren’t able to put your arms back in sleeves, and my favourite comfy black harem pants which I have had since around 2007. They are super soft, lightweight but warm, easy to take off/put on, and will double as pyjamas if you are admitted. It is these beloved trousers that are finally going the way of all flesh so I put a call out on instagram for pattern suggestions to make another pair and you all asked me to share the recommendations.

Harem Pants Pattern Suggestions:

  • The Tilly and the Buttons Juno PJs and altering the pattern https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2020/02/make-it-simple-juno-pyjamas-sewing-pattern.html – this i didn’t go for becuase the vast majority of Tilly’s patterns just don’t fit me in the slightest and I don’t fancy the effort when I know its unlikely to work.
  • The Margot Trousers from Made My Wardrobe https://mademywardrobe.com/shop-products/margot-trousers-printedversion – These were quite a good option but the waist line was wrong for what I wanted. My harem pants have a flat panel from waist to hip, then gathered flowing trousers, and an ankle cuff at the bottom.
  • True Bias Hudson Pants but in a much lighter fabric – I love this pattern but this wasn’t quite right either as the shape doesn’t have the looseness that I want.
  • SEW Magazing Free Harem Pants Pattern https://www.sewmag.co.uk/free-sewing-patterns/sheena-pants – This was the best recommendation by far as it almost exactly matches my current pair. All I will need to do is to lengthen the waist/hip panel a bit and we are sorted! I am going to make these in a super soft bamboo jersey a little later in the year

This weekend I started to feel better so I decided to do some very slow pattern cutting. I managed to cut out two projects I’ve wanted to make for a while. Both of them are repeats of patterns I’ve already made and wear constantly, I am of course talking about the True Bias Marlo Sweater and the Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress. My original versions of which can be seen on the right. The Fringe Dress has been a massive success particularly in the warmer weather. Its comfortable and airy but still modest enough for work and I think the hemline is really fun. And the Marlo Sweater? Honestly I don’t think there has been a day when I’ve not worn it since it came off the machine!

So I will be making a dark version of the fringe dress in a beautiful black viscose with little pebble spots (but this time I’ll include the pockets!) and I will be making a cosy cream version of the Marlo in stretch waffle knit from Higgs & Higgs which will be perfect for colder spring days. I cut both out yesterday and actually managed to make 90% of the Marlo! I’d forgotten what a quick pattern it is to sew. All thats left is to interface the button placket, attach the neck binding and then do buttons and buttonholes.

It took me a lot longer than usual to sew but thats fine. At the moment I’m trying to understand and define what rest means to me rather than what other people say is restful. One huge realisation I’ve had is that for me, someone who constantly has a to do list, I need time where there is no goal. Time to do an activity for the sake of doing it rather than to achieve something. Yesterday I tried to practice that and do you know what? It really helped.

I’ve noticed that in a week of stopping literally everything I do that my mind has become a little clearer as well. So I made a decision about my Sicily Slip Dress. Some of you may remember that I made it back in february and although I’ve not officially revealed it yet as its part of a collaboration i did post it on my story because I couldn’t decide about the length. It was mid-calf and although everyone on instagram said to keep it long, I just couldn’t like it. I hated the way it made me look like a 1920s ghost and I didn’t feel like me in it. But i kept it loong becaues other people liked it and I just couldn’t decide. Now I’ve had space to think and my brain feels quiet I can see that I hate it long and that, although other opinions are useful when trying to make an irreparable decision, at the end of the day I am the one wearing it and I need to like it.

So I took a deep breathe and one inch at a time I shortened it until I began to love it. I took 8 inches off in total so now its mid-thigh and I lengthened the straps so that the neckline was much more flattering. I suddenly feel light. There are lots of a little decisions that can pile up and start to feel like buzzing noise in your head but sometimes it helps to remember that they are individual decisions and each one is entirely achievable if you give yourself time to concentrate on it. I can’t show you the dress just yet as its still technically a secret but I had a really good time slowly altering it to make it fit. It reminded me why I love sewing the way I do, because my clothes are for me and only me.

Today’s other job is to start but not necessarily finish to the make the office/sewing room passable as currently its full of fabric and I can’t get to the desk. Also as Adam is still testing positive for covid, I am sleeping in the office so extra impetus to clear some more space.

I thought I would round off by highlighting a fabric and a pattern that I’ve spotted this week

Favourite Pattern Of The Week: True Bias Zoey Dress & Tank Top

This one would have passed me by but for a fellow instagrammer sharing it on their story! I love everything about this pattern and its swiftly climbed to the top of my wishlist. As someone with a curvier figure I love the chunkier straps and the neckline. I ideally want to try the pattern before Summer so that I can make lots of versions if it works well.

Fabric I’ve Spotted This Week: Hey Sew Sister Peach Waffle Knit

Soemthing I’ve discovered about myself over the last year is that normal jersey and knits are fine but my god do I love a waffle knit. Everything about this fabric just cries out to be made into lightweight jumpers and cardigans, long sleeve tops, and cute lounge shorts, and honestly I can feel my resolve beginning to break! In A/W I was lusting after the Khaki version but now this Peach colour is my favourite!

Thats all from me this week so thank you for joining me. I don’t normally do this style of blog so if you enjoyed it please do give it a like, leave me a comment, and maybe even consider subscribing to hear from me each week.

Until next Sunday, have a wonderful week everyone!

International Women’s Day 2022 #BreakTheBias

Happy International Woman’s Day! For those of you who may be new here, the two things I talk about are sewing and female healthcare. The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias. This theme encourages us to consider the myriad ways in which women experience bias and to challenge those biases. As is probably obvious from my overarching theme this month, I want to talk about bias in female healthcare.

It’s fitting that we are talking about gender bias in healthcare in Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide, approximately 1 in 10 women or those observed female at birth. Despite its high prevalence, Endometriosis is massively under-researched and under-funded. A significant reason for this lack of attention is the normalisation of extreme female pain and the stigma that still persists around the discussion of menstrual health (As-Sanie et al. 2019)

Social stigma towards menstruation causes women to feel like their pain is something to be borne quietly and something that everyone suffers from. A 2012 study showed that the stigma attached to discussing menstrual issues caused women to delay seeking help for up to 2.5 years(Hudelist et al. 2012). One study investigating public perceptions of endometriosis in both male and female populations found that women with endometriosis were more likely to discuss their condition with their physician than women without the condition, leading to a lack of awareness in the wider female population (Shah et al. 2010). 

When women do seek treatment, the response from their physician can still be skewed by gender. While men with chronic pain are often described by physicians as ‘brave’ or ‘stoic’, women are more likely to be described as ‘emotional’ or ‘hysterical’ (Samulowitz et al. 2018). In addition, 74% of Endometriosis patients have received at least one false diagnosis and the social normalisation of dysmenorrhea was shown to dramatically increase diagnosis time (Hudelist et al. 2012). 

It’s sad to say that female pain is treated differently even when its nothing to do with gynaecology. Despite exhibiting the same pain scores, women are less likely to receive opioid analgesia (opioid painkillers) in A&E across both gender and non-gender specific diagnoses. Women also have to wait longer to receive painkillers in these situations(Chen et al, 2008). Furthermore, when presenting with chest pains, men are 2.5 times more likely to be referred to a cardiologist than women despite presenting similar symptoms and pain scores(Clerc-Liaudat et al. 2018). Women have a lower chance of receiving emergency  CPR from a stranger and women are 22% less likely to survive hospital admission for cardiac arrest – men have a 55% chance of survival whereas women only have a 37% chance (Macdonald, 2019).

So what can we do to improve the situation for women?

  1. We break the cycle of menstrual shame and go to our doctors straight away when something isn’t right.
  2. When other women tell us their experiences we can listen openly and accept that our own experience isn’t universal.
  3. We can complain loudly if something isn’t right. If you’ve had a bad A&E experience, complain to your hospital trust. Don’t let them get away with providing sub-standard biased care.

Together we can fight for systemic reform. Together we can break the bias.

References:

As-Sanie, S. Black, R. Giudice, L.C. Valbrun, T.G. Gupta, J. Jones, B. Laufer, M.R. Milspaw, A.T. Missmer, S.A. Norman, A. Taylor, R.N. Wallace, K. Williams, Z. Yong, P.J. Nebel, R.A. (2019)

Assessing research gaps and unmet needs in endometriosis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. [221:2] 86-94.

Chen, E.H. Shofer, F.S. Dean, A.J. Hollander, J.E. Baxt, W.G. Robey, J.L. Sease, K.L. Mills, A.M. (2008) Gender Disparity in Analgesic Treatment of Emergency Department Patients with Acute Abdominal Pain. Academic Emergency Medicine [15:5] 414-418.

Clerc-Liaudat, C.C. Vaucher, P. De Francesco, T. Jaunin-Stalder, N. Herzig, L. Verdon, F. Favrat, B. Locatelli, I. Clair, C. (2018) Sex/gender bias in the management of chest pain in ambulatory care. Women’s Health [14] 1-9.

Hudelist, G. Fritzer, N. Thomas, A. Niehues, C. Oppelt, P. Haas, D. Tammaa, A. Salzer, H. (2012) Diagnostic delay for endometriosis in Austria and Germany: causes and possible consequences. Human Reproduction. [27:12] 3412–3416.

McDonald, A. (2019) ‘Women less likely to receive bystander CPR than men, research shows’ British Heart Foundation Website. 22nd May. Available from: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2019/may/women-less-likely-to-receive-bystander-cpr-than-men-research-shows

Samulowitz, A. Gremyr, I. Eriksson, E. Hensing, G. (2018) “Brave Men” and “Emotional Women”: A Theory-Guided Literature Review on Gender Bias in Health Care and Gendered Norms towards Patients with Chronic Pain. Pain Research and Management. 1-14.

Shah, D.K., Moravek, M.B., Vahratian, A., Dalton, V.K., Lebovic, D.I. (2010) Public perceptions of endometriosis: perspectives from both genders. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. [89:5] 646-650 

#SewYellowForEndo 2022 – Prizes, Sponsors and Much Much More!

Hello wonderful people and Happy Endometriosis Awareness Month! #SewYellowForEndo is back for another year with livestreams, blogs, vlogs, lots of yellow sewing, and lots and LOTS of chat about menstrual health and periods.

I’ve been literally silent here on the blog as things have been so busy I’ve not had the mental space to write but Sew Yellow For Endo is back and I’m hoping this will be a nice push to get back to blogging.

Endometriosis Awareness Month 2022

Endometriosis is a cruel condition that affects one in ten women and is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK. It causes agonising periods, pain with sex, problems with bowel and bladder function and can contribute to infertility. Despite that diagnosis takes seven years on average and honestly? Thats way too long.

Endometriosis is a cruel condition that affects 1 in 10 women and people observed female at birth, making it the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK. It causes agonising periods, pain with sex, problems with bowel and bladder function and can contribute to infertility. Despite that diagnosis takes eight years on average!

Endometriosis Awareness Month prompts us to talk openly about Endometriosis and menstrual health and the impacts it can have. No one knows what causes endometriosis and there is no known cure. However the earlier you catch it, the more effective treatments can be. The first step is knowing something is wrong which is why discussing menstrual health is vital. I am an endo-warrior and although I had a successful surgery back in June 2019, it is still a condition I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

The aim of #SewYellowForEndo is to raise awareness and provide a platform for other sewists to share their experiences as well as raise money for Endometriosis UK, the main charity supporting Endo warriors in the UK. The month involves Instagram Lives with a range of guests, sharing resources to improve menstrual knowledge, running mini-quizzes, destashing our fabrics for a good cause, and sewing up plenty of yellow garments!

Key Events: Sew Yellow For Endo 2022

The Big Destash – 12th & 13th March

The Big Destash invites you to destash for a good cause! You can destash fabrics, patterns, notions – whatever you want! Over the weekend of the 12th and 13th March share your fabrics on Instagram for whatever price is appropriate and then donate what you’re able of the profits to our Just Giving page.

How Do I Enter?

  • Take photos of what you want to destash and post them on Instagram with the price either on your grid or on your stories on Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th.
  • Post off your destash item to its new owner!
  • Donate whatever amount you are able to to the Just Giving Page

The Sew Yellow Challenge – Reveal Day 26th March

I am inviting you to learn more about Endometriosis and sew up a yellow or partially yellow garment/outfit. Put your sewing skills to the test and support the Endometriosis community by whipping up a gorgeous yellow garment and show it off on 26th March on Instagram!

How Do I Enter?

Like the sound of the challenge? Well entering is super easy! All you need to do is:

  • Sew a yellow (or partially yellow) garment/outfit and post a picture on instagram with the hashtag #SewYellowForEndo2022 on the weekend of the 26th March. Please tag me @sowhatifisew so I can find your entry.
  • Donate £1 to Endometriosis UK via my Just Giving Page (remember to include your instagram name in the donation message!)
  • Include a fun fact you’ve learnt about Endometriosis or tell me whats been your favourite part of the Endometriosis Awareness Month in the caption of your post.

Entrants must be over 18 and UK resident to be eligible for prizes. If you’re none-UK based and still want to take part I would love to see your yellow outfit and I am working on sourcing some international prizes as we speak.

Challenge Prizes

I am extremely pleased to say that we have some fabulous sponsors on board who are donating prizes to the challenge! We have…. *drum roll please*

  • Lush Cloth will be offering a £25 gift voucher for the winner to use on any products within 3 months of the challenge.
  • Sew Sew Sew are donating a £20 gift voucher to spend in their online shop.
  • The Stitch Sisters are donating any one class for free to one of your winners. 
  • Crafty Sew & So and their sister brand My Handmade Wardrobe Patterns have teamed up to provide an amazing prize! Imagine waking up and choosing a unique garment from a wardrobe full of your own creations. With My Handmade Wardrobe Patterns, you can create comfortable and stylish everyday essentials to get you excited about getting dressed every single day!  The winner chosen will be able to choose three MHW pdf patterns to download. What would you choose?  Our oh so comfy Cosy Jersey Dress, the classic Ready To Party Dress, or a stylish Button Up Skirt. We can’t wait to see! *N.B. The extension pack for the Cosy Jersey Dress will be excluded from this offer.
  • Stitch & Ink Fabrics are donating a £10 voucher for their online shop.
  • Tammy Handmade is offering a wonderful pattern bundle including the Raj Dress & Hayley Robe.
  • Jenny Stitches Fabric is offering a £25 gift voucher, for use on anything in store and online, to one lucky winner.
  • 1st For Fabrics are donating a £20 gift voucher.
  • Size Me Sewing are offering 5 people the chance to win 1 pdf of their choice
  • CLC Essex would like to offer any Ellie & Mac pattern plus the pattern pack with the A0 pages, premium booklet and printed envelope all included.
  • Pattern Pouch Nest, a new business in the sewing community, is offering one of their new pattern goodie bags with a pattern of your choice .
  • Hey Sew Sister are donating a prize of a £25 voucher to spend on our website. 
  • Sew Totally Me are offering a £15 fabric voucher to spend on their website.
  • Stitch Crafts UK are donating one of their stunning handmade sewing machine covers to one lucky winner.

Winners will be chosen randomly on Monday 28th March over on instagram!

Yellow Fabric Discounts

To help you get involved a number of sewing companies are offering discounts on yellow fabrics or will be donating a percentage of sales to Endometriosis UK.

Fabric Donation

  • Crafty Sew & So will be donating 10% sales from Yellow Fabrics to Endometriosis UK during the month of March. Check out their website here: https://craftysewandso.com
  • Made With Love Scrunchies are donating 20% of their sales from the month of March to Endometriosis UK – find them on instagram!
  • Fleur Et Oeurs are going to be donating 10% of their yellow fabric sales to Endometriosis UK, check out their collection of fabrics here: https://fleuretours.com/product-category/yellow/
  • Scrunchies & Sew are donating 20% of their sales that include a yellow item to Endometriosis UK – find them on instagram!

Instagram Live Series

The other big event series going on this month is the Instagram Lives with Endometriosis Warriors from across the sewing community. Join us every Wednesday on instagram to talk about all things Endo! Lets normalise discussing menstrual health, raise awareness of the condition and the variety of experiences had within the Endometriosis community. We will also have some more scientific content talking about what the condition actually is so anyone who hasn’t heard of it can learn more. I’ve listed the lives below so check them out and come along!

  • 2nd March 8pm – My own endo experience (this has already happened but you can watch it back here!)
  • 4th March 8pm – What I’m Sewing & So What If I Sew – Endo Experiences
  • 9th March 7pm – Sew Much To Say & So What If I Sew – Endo Experiences
  • 16th March 8pm – The Mindful Scientist & So What If I Sew – What is Endometriosis?
  • 23rd March 8pm –  Sew Sew Becki & So What If I Sew – Endo Experiences
  • 30th March 8pm – The Hungary Sewist & So What If I Sew – Endo Experiences

The fact is that many women have to go through an average 8 years of agony to get diagnosed and it’s terrible. How many women will go their whole lives not being believed about their pain, being told its normal or ‘part of being a woman’ to suffer? This year I want to shout about menstrual health, have some fabulous conversations, learn, sew some beautiful yellow garments, and support EndometriosisUK.

Let’s end the stigma around menstrual health and let’s talk about Endometriosis. 

Fabric Friday Reviews: Stitch & Ink Fabrics

Welcome back! Its been a hot minute eh? It’s been an absolutely crazy year with lots of change and upheaval and this blog series hasn’t been possible to maintain on a weekly basis.

Thinking about it, I’ve only actually reviewed one shop since we moved back in March because life has just been too busy. It takes time to settle into a new home even if you physically unpack quickly, mentally it takes time to settle. Then I had exams for my masters degree, then a period of incredible work stress at my previous job, then I got a new job which is my absolute dream job (yay!) and then just as I was starting to feel settled our landlords announced they will be selling our flat (boo!). I should say it has not been sold yet and we will of course be able to finish our tenancy but it felt like a shattering blow to that lovely feeling of settled domesticity we were just starting to achieve. 

So with one thing and another my sewing motivation and output dropped, my fabric stash started to build, the UFO pile has gained sentience, and basically I now don’t have the space to store any more fabric. Although, its worth noting that I almost definitely will buy more fabric because I want to make some more cosy loungewear and I’m sure I’ll have to make presents for some people. 

ANYWAY. One of the upshots of my sewing malaise has been that I have tried quite a few new fabric shops over the last six months and I finally have lots of wonderful shops to tell you about! In particular today we are talking about Stitch & Ink Fabrics. A new fabric shop and fabric subscription service run by the lovely Alisha, a fellow Scot living down in the south of England!

Before I go on to my usual more detailed discussion of the shop, I absolutely have to mention how fantastic the Stitch & Ink Instagram is. If you don’t follow them you absolutely should, beautiful fabrics, photo quality is amazing and Alisha really engages with the sewing community. 

Stitch & Ink 

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.stitchandink.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery, Subscription Service & Gifts
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre 

Stitch & Ink Fabrics is a new independent fabric shop offering dressmaking fabrics, notions, sewing gifts and a fabric subscription service. For a new business it is already well known in the community and its been a pleasure to see them grow so far. My first purchase with them took place in the August bank holiday sale where I bought some beautiful Art Gallery black cotton poplin, a couple of metres of white polka dot georgette, as well as some pale green floral viscose which will go on to become the lining of my Closet Core Jasika Blazer.

The range of fabrics is fairly good for a new shop with the standard cottons, viscoses and jerseys as well as some beautiful chiffon and georgette options and they have really focussed on engaging with popular statement fabrics. Having watched a number of fabric businesses start, finish and grow over the last year it always seems to me to be a wise strategy when first starting to engage with those popular fabrics and become ‘the shop that sells THAT fabric’ before then branching out, so that you really make a splash on entering the fabric market. In particular Stitch and Ink are stocking some fabulous bright coloured tartans at the moment, the red and pink one of which I am definitely lusting after for a fun fit n flare style dress for Burns Night/my birthday in January!

While their fabrics are not the most affordable on the market, they are a fair price for high quality organic cottons and well known fabric designers. Costs range from chiffon at £1.50 per half metre up to up to organic cottons for £7.25 per half metre so although its a small fabric range at the moment there is something for most price points. In terms of delivery, I paid a standard delivery fee of £3.50 and the dispatch and delivery were actually blisteringly fast especially considering it was a bank holiday! My order arrived in a cardboard box with branded sticker (you all know I much prefer a box to a plastic post bag) with my order beautifully wrapped inside and a small branded card. The presentation was excellent and made opening my fabric parcel feel special.

One of my ultimate bugbears with fabric shops and something that will make me stop shopping somewhere on principle is poor website design and functionality. I am delighted to say in this case that Stitch and Ink’s website is fantastic. I love the branding, I love the filtering, the homepage is solid and all the sub menus actually work and make sense. I’ve browsed on my phone and my laptop and have found the cross device functionality to be excellent and I love the filtering on each fabric page for price and order. Its a simple thing but its the little things that improve user experience. I think where Alisha has really excelled her is that she has a website that is simple and functional. You would never know this is a new business. It’s slick, its professional and it’s user friendly. I only have two tiny recommendations or updates I would suggest. Firstly I would add a little more about each fabric in the description to give you a better sense of what it could be used for. Whether that is specific pattern examples or event just a note saying ‘would work well for structured trousers’ or ‘ideal for blouses’. That might just be me, but its a little touch that can be extremely helpful when you can’t physically feel the fabric yourself. My only other minuscule note would be that when I went to pay the mailing list option was pre-clicked which it shouldn’t be as GDPR regulations mean it should be an opt-in not an opt-out. I know its a little thing and I’m not nit-picking I promise, its just a bugbear of mine and I do pull everyone up on it.

The other large facet of Stitch and Ink is the subscription service which, from a recent instagram Q&A, it appears was in fact always meant to be a subscription box service first and foremost. However of course you can’t really run a subscription service unless you already have fabric so the fabric shop side of things came first. Now you all know I’m not much a subscription box person as I like to choose my own fabrics and patterns however if I was going to buy into one sewing scheme it would probably be Stitch and Ink. The respect for size inclusivity in pattern selection as well as the literal monetary value of the fabric and patterns is wonderful to see. The subscription boxes range from £30 – £50 per month. The Classic Box offers 2.5m fabric, matching thread, four fat quarters, and a sewing gift. The Ultimate Box offers 3.5m fabric, an indie pattern, five fat quarters, matching thread, and a sewing gift. If you are somebody who likes a subscription box style service then I encourage you to check them out.

So on to my rating system which is of course very scientific

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 5/10
  • Cost – 6/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 9/10
  • Ease of Use – 8/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Average Score: 7.2 / 10

Overall Stitch and Ink is one of those fabric shops that I am excited about. I am really enjoying watching the business grow, I like to see somebody passionate about what they do and I look forward to shopping with them plenty in the future.

Back To Reality: Keeping My Sew-Jo Alive While Working Full Time

Hello everyone! Yes I am still here, I’ve not fallen off the face of the earth and I’ve not given up blogging. What has actually happened is something I think has happened to a lot of sewists. After 18 months of working from home and getting enough space and time to myself to enjoy my hobby, I’m now back in the office and crucially I’m back to commuting.

Now I wanted to say first off that I love my job, I am an event manager at a leading cultural venue in London, I’m lucky that I get to work on amazing events and with fantastic clients. However there is a reason I didn’t have much time for sewing pre-pandemic. There’s a reason I’m sitting on the sofa blogging before I head to work at lunch time and work until midnight. My job by its very nature is stressful, the hours are unpredictable and its exhausting. I pour my heart and soul into every event I run and it leaves me tired and all I want to do at the weekend is sleep forever. I will say though this job, unlike any other I’ve ever had, has got a greater awareness of welfare which is amazing. I’ve had jobs in the past where if an event runs from 6am – 10pm you would work the whole thing yourself, my current job recognises that not only isn’t feasible, it isn’t good for your physical and mental health.

Its not just that though, commuting is tiring (although I have to say I am loving how much reading time I get now!) and the reality is that once you are home you don’t want to do anything at all. I feel like it takes so much brainpower that its a struggle to reset and go and do some sewing because the reality is there is dinner to make, dishes to do and then I need to be in bed by 10:30 because I get up at 6am. In addition, I’m now back to my second year of my MA degree. Although it only takes one day of my week, it means that there is a lot of additional work i need to do on my evenings/weekends.

Plus I haven’t felt as inspired in this flat because I don’t feel as on top of everything. The office is a mess because I’m in and out all the time. The washing is piling up because Adam and I are both working in London. Our landlords are trying to sell our flat so I don’t feel like I can make mess on the weekends by sewing if they are coming around with viewings.

So altogether even when I do have the time to sew I don’t want to because I’m so tired. I’ve got beautiful fabrics, loads of projects I want to do, the equipment to make them but no brain power. Sewing should be relaxing and fun but its hard when you don’t have enough brain to relax. I’ve bought loads fo fabric because that was a way of getting inspired, now I need to find the time to do it. I’ve got two projects cut out that I’ve got no desire to finish.

And I guarantee I’m not the only person struggling with this. Last year at the beginning of lockdown Hobbycraft’s sales of sewing machines tripled. There was actually a global sewing machine shortage! So many of us took up sewing in the last year when we were working from home or furloughed and so there will be a corresponding number of people who are now having to fit their favourite hobby around commuting.

It’s hard. I miss the inspiration I had when my brain had enough space for it. I miss how relaxing saturday morning sewing felt when I wasn’t exhausted from a commute that went horribly wrong on Friday night. At the end of the day I love sewing and I love vlogging and blogging – I just need to find a way to fit it around my work life and to boost my energy levels enough to do it.

So What Is The Plan?

Firstly I’m going to plan out everything I do in a week without sewing, which looks like the following pie chart:

Realistically I have two hours every evening to myself or for myself. I won’t sacrifice sleep during the week because I know the effect that has on me so I’ve not included it on the pie chart, its a given that I need 8 hours sleep or I am useless. Lack of sleep reduces my ability to cope with stress and decision making so I prioritise that over everything else.

So maybe I need to change the way I sew. I’m big fan of long sewing days where I pretty go beginning to end on a project in one 8 hour day. I find that relaxing. I find I can really sink into the sewing and ideally I would still like to have one of those days at the weekend but maybe there are little sewing tasks I could do in the week? Maybe I could I cut out a pattern during the week so I’m ready for sewing at the weekend? Maybe I can do planning? Maybe I can dedicate one night to tidying to office so its all set-up and ready for sewing at the weekend? Realistically I go to Ballet on Monday and Thursday, Tuesday night I try and do my MA reading while its fresh in my head from Lectures that day so lets start small.

I’m going to commit Wednesday night(or morning if I’m working) to sewing activity. To doing something sewing related whether that is cutting out a pattern, filming a talking vlog, proper project planning, tidying the office or just pre-washing fabric. I will try and post to IG every Wednesday to let you know what I’ve done, I find accountability tracking really important for the way my brain works. After a few weeks Wednesday nights will be demarcated in my mind but I find its important to schedule it into my diary as a commitment so I take my own welfare and relaxation as seriously as I would an appointment or a work commitment.

Scheduling in down-time is actually a technique I was encouraged to use when I had a therapy session a few years ago. Its not for everyone but if you are a busy person like me then its important to block out time in your diary for yourself so you can’t book over it. You don’t have to schedule what you do in that time but its like creating a window in your week or your day for you. Even on a small scale I now actually put my lunch break in my diary at work to reclaim an hour just for me. I’m advocating this technique for everyone as I know it would stress some people out more but for me its having that reminder and committing the spending time on myself or my hobbies.

This month I will mark out my Wednesdays for myself and I will also be doing my Simple Saturday Sews on YouTube where I do a project on a Saturday that should only take a couple of hours and I’ll vlog along, the first of those will be coming up very soon!

Even writing this blog I feel like I’ve had the time and space to consider my needs and I feel much better. The key is finding the time to stop and think and find a way forward that works for you.

I should say I am off to the Knitting and Stitching Show on Friday, I booked a whole day off work to go and enjoy myself and I’ve even booked onto some workshops which will hopefully reignite my sewing passion so I’ll come home and will be sewing all of Saturday!

Have a great Wednesday everyone and I’ll back much sooner next time xx

One Year On, How Shopping Has Changed

Today for the first time in over a year I bought clothes. There I said it.

As many of you know what really kickstarted my sewing journey was my pledge to completely give up fast fashion and buy no new clothes for a year.

Now, a year on, I find my mindset towards shopping and clothes is completely different. Before I would shop when I was sad or needed a confidence boost but I would get sad when clothes didn’t fit and I would blame my own body, believe me I have cried silently in many a dressing room. So I would try things on until I found something I loved or something that made me feel better and a few hours later I would come home, arms covered in shopping bags and a big smile on my face. 

However taking a year away from all types of clothes shopping and focussing on my sewing really has changed the way I feel about clothes and my body and that’s what I want to talk to you about today. 

So, what prompted me to shop? Well yesterday I finished my last job and I start my dream job on Monday morning (excited is an understatement) so as a little present to myself I booked in for a manicure and a pedicure which really feels like a luxury when you go at mid-morning on a Wednesday. After my manicure I decided to have a wander through the town centre, I popped in to buy toiletries, I picked up my prescription, I had a mooch in Waterstones and then I walked past GAP. 

Now any of my lovely readers who are not based in the UK may not know but GAP is closing down in the UK forever and although the human rights record of GAPs parent company isn’t great I feel genuinely sad that we are losing this pillar of the high street. GAP is one of the shops I grew up with, its where you would go to get basics or holiday clothes as a child, its where my mum would take me to get proper jeans, its where I bought my favourite jumpers and jeans that actually fit my body. I remember when it was the height of cool to have a jumper with the huge GAP letters across the front, I remember them subsequently going out of fashion and now they are back-in [side note: aren’t trends ridiculous?]. 

Here I am now confident and loving life in the dressing room

Not only was it a big part of my childhood but also GAP had the most consistent sizing, the jeans are done by measurement sizes rather than dress sizes and they have a range of leg lengths. It’s easy to forget the mental impact size consistency or inconsistency can have on you. I have size 10 shorts from River Island bought in 2011 that are still too big for me and now if I tried to buy a size 10 shorts in River Island they wouldn’t even fit on one of my legs. Years ago I would have burst into tears thinking I’d gained weight [another poor side effect of 90s/00s culture] whereas now as an adult I’m outraged that sizing can be so arbitrary. 

So when I walked past the shop today and saw a huge red sign saying the store was closing for good in four days’ time I felt a pang of regret and nostalgia and decided to go in for one last shop. The second I stepped in I noticed a difference in my mindset, I was critical of the clothes not myself, I was aware of what I could make and I didn’t even look at items I know I could sew easily and probably make better versions than what was on offer. 

For me the one thing I’m still not up to yet with my sewing is jeans and one of the reasons I’m sad to see GAP go is that it was the one shop I could always count on to have good quality denim jeans in my leg length and the range of cuts meant I could always find something flattering. So I picked up a few pairs to try on as well as some denim shorts, a super soft black t-shirt and a nostalgic yellow GAP branded jumper and I headed to the changing rooms. 

Again when I tried the clothes on and inevitably some of the jeans didn’t fit I wasn’t sad. I didn’t feel let down by my body because I didn’t fit. Instead I looked at the cut, the fabric and pattern shape and I was critical of the garment. I didn’t want to break my pledge for the sake of it, I thought to myself that if I was going to buy anything I would buy something that fits me well, that makes me feel good and that I like. 

I spent about half an hour in that changing room evaluating each garment, I tried them on separately, I tried different combinations of everything together and in the end I bought a pair of light skinny jeans, a really nice pair of dark denim shorts that are a little longer than normal, the comfy black t-shirt (because I loathe sewing basics) and the bright yellow jumper. The yellow jumper is still making me smile as I sit here writing about it because its just so me. I love the super baggy cut, I love the colour palette and I know I will get a huge amount of use out of it because this gal loves a sweatshirt in all seasons. 

I was worried I would feel bad for breaking my pledge but I don’t. One of the key reasons I chose to give up fast fashion in the first place was to re-evaluate my relationship with clothes, to understand why I shop and not just to buy clothes I’ll never wear to make me feel better. I like making my own clothes but equally I’m not going to pressure myself too much. Buying fabric is expensive so I shouldn’t be buying that just for the sake of it either and there is nothing wrong with buying something every now and then if it’s something completely out of your technical sewing abilities or something you just don’t want to spend your valuable spare time sewing – no one really wants to sew plain t-shirts do they, but we all need them in our wardrobe. 

So will I be going back to shopping now? No, I don’t think so. I love the me-made wardrobe I’m creating, I love the awareness I have of my body and my figure, and I love knowing that my body isn’t the problem, the fashion industry is. 

Furthermore I have increased awareness of the labour of others that goes into my clothes. I see the effort that has gone into them and I recognise the need to pressure the fashion industry to tell us who is making our clothes and to provide those workers with fair working conditions and pay.  

But at the end of the day it is okay to buy things every now and then if you need to or want to as long as you doing it for the right reasons. Pairing Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans made in eco-friendly denim with a RTW jumper doesn’t invalidate the effort put into the me-made garment. In the same way that forgetting your reusable water bottle one time and getting a single plastic one doesn’t devalue the effort you make the rest of the time. We’ve all got to find a way that works for us and it doesn’t have to be all one way or all the other.  I have taken a step back and I see that the way the fashion industry wants me to shop isn’t good for me, it isn’t good for garment workers and it isn’t good for the planet. But if I want to make a considered purchase every now and then and continue to make the rest of my clothes then that’s fine too. 

Clothes should make you feel good and don’t get me wrong my me-made clothes do but so to does my sunny new yellow jumper.