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. 

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Can you believe it, So What If I Sew is one year old! The fact that a year has gone by is stunning to me – my blog and instagram account and youtube channel have grown more than I ever would have thought possible when I dipped a toe into the online sewing community.

Celebrating 1 year in my new Mile End Hoodie from Closet Core Patterns

Although I’ve not blogged as regularly as I did when I first started the blog I still find this space an important space to explore my deeper thoughts and feelings about sewing topics as well as to provide accessible pattern and fabric shop reviews.

So, I wanted to take a moment to reflect and since I’m a data driven person I thought I would have a look at my stats. In the last year:

  • 3,224 of you have followed me on instagram
  • 1,845 of you have subscribed to the So What If I Sew YouTube channel
  • 59 of you have subscribed to the blog
  • I’ve had 9,481 views on this blog
  • over 500,000 views on both instagram and youtube individually.

What a year it has been!

How did So What If I Sew come to be?

28th June is a very special day as on this day one whole year ago I first considered having a sewing blog and Instagram.

I have tried to blog before and Instagram a hobby before but I could never keep up, I lost motivation and most times I tried to blog, my blog died in a few months. However at the time I was also struggling with sewing motivation and after a friend of mine shared a sewing account I went down an Instagram rabbit hole and discovered that there was in fact an online sewing community – a really really big one. 

June 2020 – GBSB Jersey Dress
July 2021 – Nina Lee Carnaby Dress

I wanted to really commit to a blog this time as well as to a hobby I love and to creating personal space. I also wanted to take the plunge and give up fast fashion. So on the 28th June, in my pyjamas, watching treasure planet in bed at 11am on a Sunday, I started brainstorming blog name ideas with my sisters over messenger. I am proud to say I am actually the one who came up with ‘So What If I Sew’. A few short clicks later and the blog and Instagram were born!

I wasn’t really sure what to post first so I posted my first logo effort, not fantastic but not terrible, and a few facts about me. Then I posted a couple of the pieces I had made and slowly started to expand my fabric and pattern horizons.

It was at this point that I did my first ever fabric haul on Instagram which I just decided to do for fun with some stunning fabrics from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn. After this I started to get more traction, I started to review fabric shops on the blog and posting more regularly.

Then on 17th August I started the So What If I Sew Youtube channel. I’ve never been so nervous in my life but sure enough 100 of you lovely people subscribed in the first two weeks and allayed my fears with your very kind comments.

In September I hit 1000 followers on Instagram and things began to grow and grow and here we are today, I hit 3k followers a few weeks ago and I’m sewing regularly.

How have I celebrated my first year?

By organising a sewing challenge on Instagram with a giveaway – how else would an events manager celebrate!

The ‘Sew New In June’ is a challenge designed to celebrate how far we have all come and challenge us to get out of our cosy sewing comfort zones and try projects we’ve always wanted to try!

Whether that’s plucking up the courage to sew with silk, insert an invisible zip, try a pattern RTW fashion tells you you’re not allowed to wear or all of those things together I want you to step out of your comfort zone with me and explore new sewing horizons.

Find out more over on YouTube where you can watch all of my vlogs from this week. Or head over to Instagram and search #SewNewInJune to see all of the amazing garments the community have stitched up this week.

So what have I learnt?

If there is one thing I have learnt in the last year its that the sewing community is an incredible space full of caring, talented and friendly people willing to support one another when we share our failures and celebrate each other when we make something amazing.

I’ve learnt so many new techniques, sewn with new fabrics, tried new patterns and explored new fabric shops. I’ve made some lovely new sewing friends and found a community in which I truly feel comfortable.

Nothing astounded me more than the response from the sewing community to Sew Yellow For Endo, I’m still blown away by the £1738 we raised as a community to support women with Endometriosis. 

So as I head into my second year I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for letting me be part of this wonderful community. I have learnt so much from all of you and my sewing has improved immeasurably just by seeing all the beautiful things all of you have made.

Hears to another year of sewing, blogging and vlogging!

5 Ways to Get Your Sew-Jo Back

No matter what type of sewist you are, chances you’ve lost your sewing motivation at some stage. So here are my five top tips for reigniting your sewing passion.

Picture the scene, you’re sat in your sewing room or at your sewing table, you’ve finally carved out five minutes in your day to get sewing but all of a sudden you just don’t want to. You’ve been thinking about sewing all day but now you’re there you just haven’t got the energy to turn on your machine or cut out a pattern.

This happened to me this week. I’ve been so tired lately that I just haven’t felt like sewing at all. What’s more I have been thinking a lot about sewing my dads shirt. Its one of the only projects I’ve ever truly messed up. I cut the first version so badly that I literally couldn’t even get to the sewing stage and honestly I felt so upset and ashamed that he couldn’t get his present at the same time as everyone else and that I’d messed it up so badly. So I got him something else for Christmas but people have been pushing me to start making it for his birthday that was in April and the more people pushed and asked the more overwhelmed I felt.

The thing is I’ve made myself shirts, none of the sewing is daunting at all apart from maybe cuff plackets. I was just so scared of cutting it incorrectly that I’ve let the project overshadow me. In April I took the plunge and bought the fabric however even then it sat in the sewing room looking at me. On Saturday I finally felt like it was getting too much so I set myself the target of cutting it out. No time limit, no concerns about sewing or vlogging the process. I got my partner to help me lay the fabric out and pattern match it really carefully and cut it out.

Today I did about half of the sewing, the shirt is together and currently sleeve-less, the collar is together and the buttonholes are marked and I do feel a little bit better but the project is still overshadowing me a bit and sewing it is not relaxing in the slightest because I want it to be perfect for him. I’m feeling better because everything I’ve done is good and I’m really happy with the sewing I’ve done but also I can’t wait for it to be done. Not only to give it to my dad as a very belated present but also to prove to myself I can do it and hopefully restore my sewing confidence and my sew-jo!

That experience got me thinking about my sewing motivation in general. What motivates and demotivates me and what you can do when you’re feeling a little low on sewing enthusiasm.

Why do we lose our sewing motivation?

There are many reasons we lose motivation for a hobby. It can be that you’ve lost impetus to make something new if none of your patterns or fabrics are really grabbing you. Maybe you’ve left a project half done and just can’t face going back to it. Maybe you’ve made mess of the last garment you tried and your sewing confidence is low. A hobby should be a relaxing space and if you’re struggling with a new pattern then suddenly your hobby time can become less relaxing. After a long day at work, you might not want to spend an hour cutting fabric or stitching buttonholes or deciphering complex pattern instructions.

I personally struggle with sewing motivation after a concentrated period of sewing. For example after a month of sewing everyone’s Christmas presents I just didn’t want to touch my sewing machine. This made me realise that I don’t like sewing for others precisely because it detracts from the relaxation of my hobby, there is suddenly a greater amount of pressure to make things ‘perfectly’ and it can leave you not wanting to spend your free time sewing.

However it can also happen when you’re sewing for yourself. Maybe you’re working on a big complex make you’ve wanted to do for ages like a new coat or a pair of jeans. Makes like that require brain power and sometimes after a long day of work or a long week you just don’t want to sew because you don’t want to make a mistake or sit down for a long period of sewing. I found after spending a lot of concentrated time making my Eden Coat that although I was in love with the garment I had made and very proud, it took a lot of brain power and I felt like I couldn’t face sewing for a few days after.

Sometimes we can be enthusiasm personified one day and have zero motivation the next day and thats pretty normal. So what can you do about it? Well my first piece of advice would be to give yourself the space to think about why you aren’t sewing and then try one of my tips below to see if you can coax back some enthusiasm into your sewing.

Top 5 Tips to get back to Sewing

1. Tidy Your Sewing Space

This is a simple way to do something sewing related without the pressure of sewing. You may have lost some of your motivation if your sewing space is messy or if its being used as a dumping ground for other things. Take 10 minutes and straighten everything up. Put something good on the TV or the radio or Netflix and just take your time, whether you’re tidying a sewing room, a sewing table or a tiny sewing nook. You never know you might stumble across patterns you had forgotten you owned or fabric you had a great idea for and then forgot about. Its a great way to spark a little sewing enthusiasm.

2. Pick a palette cleanser project

This is a great way to deal with the post project blues. If you’ve spent a month working on a coat or you’ve been toiling jeans for ages put them to one side, pick a super easy project that you’ve got the pattern and the fabric for and just make it. The golden rules for palette cleanser project are make it quick, make it simple and make it fun. I’m a big fan of whipping up a t-shirt in between projects as I never have enough t-shirts that fit me comfortably and they are so quick to make. Whatever your preferred palette cleanser is, just make sure its something quick to make as you don’t want it adding to a growing pile of UFOs in the corner!

3. Break down your projects into smaller goals

Can’t face starting something new? Then just cut out the fabric today. Nothing else. Have a really big project in the works that promises hours of sewing? As my history teacher used to say, you’ve got to eat your elephant one bite at a time. Break down big projects into small tasks and then reward yourself when you complete them.

4. Set a 5 minute sewing timer

This is a technique I use for everything not just sewing. If you can’t face doing something set a five minute timer and say to yourself ‘I’ll just do 5 mins’ whether that is writing an essay, tidying the kitchen or sewing your next me-made garment. What this does is it takes away the threat of spending hours doing something because you can stop when you’re 5 minute timer is up. More likely than not you won’t stop after 5 minutes because you’ve got into the rhythm of the task but what it does is motivates you to start rather than thinking about starting.

5. Do something else

Sometimes we can be full of enthusiasm one day and suddenly that enthusiasm dwindles all of a sudden. This can happen for rational or irrational reasons. Maybe you’re experiencing one of the situations I described above or maybe you’re hormonal and don’t feel like doing anything at all. You could be exhausted and stressed and tired and all you should actually do is have a bath and go to bed. The most important thing to do is not to beat yourself up about it, it is completely normal to have off days. Literally everybody does. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not sewing – give yourself the space to go and do something else if you want to. I don’t sew everyday. Sometimes I play the piano or go for a walk with my partner or bake or read or just watch TV with my partner on the sofa. It doesn’t make me a bad sewist, it makes us human.

I hope this tips are helpful to you and let me in the comments if there is anything else I’ve missed. My top piece of advice however no matter what the situation is to actively choose to take some time away from the sewing machine. whether thats 20 minutes to grab a cup of tea, a biscuit and let your brain catch-up with you or a full evening to do something completely different. Just remember that there is nothing wrong with losing motivation, it happens to the best of us and you will get it back I promise.

#SewYellowForEndo: Where to buy yellow fabric & DISCOUNTS

Hello everyone! It is day three of Endometriosis Awareness Month and I have just done my first Instagram Live of the Series talking about my experiences with endometriosis and my journey. The response was overwhelming and I am so lucky to be part of such a wonderfully supportive community. Now onto the exciting part! I bring you not only yellow fabric inspiration but also DISCOUNTS! And the best kind of discounts as these ones also contribute a percentage of sales to my EndometriosisUK fundraiser on Just Giving.

Who’s Offering Yellow Fabric Discounts?

Felicity Fabrics

Felicity Fabrics are not only one of our fabulous competition sponsors but they are also offering a 10% discount on yellow fabrics throughout March and will be donating 10% of sales to Endometriosis UK. Check out the gorgeous yellow fabrics below to get you started! The discount is automatically applied on yellow fabrics.

The Sewist Fabric Shop

The Sewist Fabric Shop have some stunning yellow fabrics in stock and will be offering a 20% discount throughout the month of March on yellow fabrics and will be donating 5% of their sales to Endometriosis UK! They will also be donating one of our prizes for the #SewYellowForEndo so check out some of their yellow fabrics below to get your inspired! Discount code: SewYellowForEndo

Sewing at Number 51

Sewing at Number 51 will be offering a 15% discount on yellow fabrics throughout the month of March and donating one of our prizes for the #SewYellowForEndo competition! The discount is automatically applied on yellow fabrics.

https://www.sewingatnumber51.com/product-page/cotton-jersey-1

Jenny Stitches Fabric

Jenny has kindly offered a 10% discount on her gorgeous range of yellow fabrics and will be matching that by donating 10% of yellow fabric sales to Endometriosis UK! Check out some of her gorgeous yellow fabrics below and use code SEWYELLOWFORENDO to activate the discount.

The Specky Seamstress

The wonderful Laura from The Specky Seamstress has also provided a discount on her yellow ‘You are a Superstar’ bias binding and she will donating a portion of her sales to Endometriosis UK this month.

https://thespeckyseamstress.com/product-category/bias-binding/specially-designed-fabric/page/2/

Who Else Is Stocking Yellow Fabrics?

Hey Sew Sister

https://heysewsister.co.uk/shop/p/linen-leaping-leopards

https://heysewsister.co.uk/shop/p/organic-cotton-single-jersey-ochre-dots

The Rag Shop

The Rag Shop are one of our competition supporters and have a fabulous range of yellow fabrics in stock! Go Go Go!

Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn

Checkout these two gorgeous yellow themed fabrics from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn! There’s a gorgeous yellow floral viscose challis and the yellow version of the rose viscose I used to make my Trend Patterns Raglan Dress.

https://www.rainbowfabrics.co.uk/product-page/yellow-rose-viscose

https://www.rainbowfabrics.co.uk/product-page/yellow-mustard-kim-viscose-challis

Sew Anonymous

Sew Anonymous also have some wonderful fabrics in stock so check out their range of yellow fabrics!

https://www.sewanonymous.co.uk/fabric/p/pre-order-lucerne-yellow-crinkle-swiss-dot-viscose-12-per-metre

https://www.sewanonymous.co.uk/fabric/p/ochre-bird-pearl-peach-prints-7-per-metre

Hopefully these fabrics have inspired you to get started with your sewing project for #SewYellowForEndo! Let me know in the comments below if you’re using any of these fabrics.

#SewYellowForEndo Challenge: How to Enter!

Hello wonderful people! Appologies I’ve been a little quiet on here recently but I’ve been working on a very exciting project which I am now able to share – I am of course talking about my Endometriosis Awareness Month activities and in particular the #SewYellowForEndo challenge which will take place on Saturday 20th March.

Endometriosis Awareness Month

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.

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 to catching it is knowing something is wrong which is why discussing menstrual health is vital. I am an endo-sufferer 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.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and provides a chance for us all to talk openly about Endometriosis and menstrual health, to engage openly and share experiences. I decided to arrange a months worth of activities to raise awareness and champion experiences in the sewing community. The month includes Instagram Lives where I will be talking to a range of guests about their endometriosis experiences, I will sharing resources throughout the month, running mini-quizzes and sewing up plenty of yellow garments! I will also be raising funds for Endometriosis UK.

Endometriosis UK is a fantastic charity who support and advocate for the Endometriosis community encouraging research, running support groups and championing us at the highest level of government and after a very tough year for charities I want to support their vital work! 

So What Is The #SewYellowForEndo challenge?

I am inviting you to learn more about Endometriosis and sew up a yellow or partially yellow garment/outfit – yellow is the awareness colour for Endometriosis. Put your sewing skills to the test and support the Endometriosis community by whipping up a gorgeous yellow garment and show it off on 20th 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 #SewYellowForEndo on the weekend of the 20th March. Please tag me @sowhatifisew so I can find your entry.
  • Donate £1 to Endometriosis UK via my Just Giving Page – this challenge is for charity after all!
  • 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!

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*

  • A stunning fabric bundle from The Rag Shop
  • 2m Metre of gorgeous yellow double gauze and £10 gift card from Hey Sew Sister
  • A £25 gift card from Felicity Fabrics
  • 3x Tilly and the Buttons Patterns + 3 x Yellow Pink Coat Club Pins from Fabric Magpie
  • A £25 gift card from The Sewist Fabric Shop
  • A beautiful fabric and haberdashery bundle from Sewing At Number 51

Winners will be chosen randomly on Monday 22nd March and I will also be aiming to produce a little video/reel of everyone who takes part to share at the end of the month (stay tuned for more on this in March!)

What Else Is Going On?

The other big event I’ve arranged is a series of Instagram Lives to talk about Endometriosis every Wednesday throughout March. 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 it out and come along!

3rd March 6pm – I will be kicking off by sharing my experience and hosting a live Q&A (I’m super nervous)

10th March 6pm – So What If I Sew & Martha Made Things – Endo Experiences

17th March 7pm – So What If I Sew & The Mindful Scientist – What is Endometriosis anyway?

24th March 6pm –  So What If I Sew & Sew Much To Say – Endo Experiences (with some surgery and post diagnosis chat in there as well)

The fact is that many women have to go through an average 7 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 and wellbeing and support EndometriosisUK, an amazing charity who support 1 in 10 woman. Let’s end the stigma around menstrual health and getting talking about Endo. 

2021 Sewing Plans: My Top 9 Patterns For Next Year

It’s new years day, its absolutely freezing and I’ll be honest I’m still in my pyjamas. There’s something about the period between Christmas and New Year that makes absolutely everything and anything acceptable, so the pyjamas will stay at least for today until I return to the real world. I would love to say I’m still relaxed from the best christmas I’ve had in years but alas my MA assignments due on Monday now occupy most of my brainpower. I have however started reflecting on my makes from this year, the techniques I’ve learnt, the challenges I’ve overcome and I’m honestly proud of everything thats come off my sewing machine this year. This was the year I invested in an advanced sewing machine that is such a workhorse I doubt I’ll need another one for the next decade.

I’ve also begun to think about new years resolutions, aims and goals, I always make some and actually for the last three or four years I have achieved most of my goals and kept to my resolutions. I differentiate between goals and resolutions because resolutions are somewhat intangible and goals can be ticked off a list but i think both are important. This year I am going to set myself a few sewing resolutions!

Resolutions

  1. I will finish all of my seam edges all the time, not just when I feel like it.
  2. I will pre-wash all fabric even when its super inconvenient to do so.
  3. I will try to use up the fabric I have in my stash before buying more.

We will see how I go with these and I’ll report back in three months time to see how I’m getting on. I’m hoping this blog will keep my accountable!

Top Nine Patterns For 2021

After a lengthy period of trying on my clothes and excavating my wardrobe, I’ve also started reflecting on what pieces I would like to add to my wardrobe in 2021. I have seen other makers do this on instagram so I will be joining in this year and creating a Make Nine grid. Nine patterns or garments I would like to aim for this year. While these nine patterns will by no means be the only things I make, they will be core projects that I plan for and focus on in 2021. With the exception of the jeans, I don’t have fabric in mind for any of these makes and half of them I still need to buy the pattern! However I am going to try and do one big blog on each of them as well as the inevitable YouTube sew-a-longs and vlogs which I really love filming. I’f you would like to see me talk through these patterns in detail then head over to my youtube to see a full vlog! (linked below)

Tilly and The Buttons – Cleo Pinafore

Closet Core – Elodie Wrap Dress

Size Me Sewing – Florence Blouse

Tammy Handmade – Leona Dress

True Bias – Hudson Sweatpants

Megan Nielsen – Dawn Jeans

Tilly and The Buttons – Nora Jumper

Yoga Leggings

Fitted Work Blazer

So there we have it, my Make Nine patterns for 2021! I can’t wait to share the making journey for all these with you over the year. Let me know in the comments if you’re doing a Make Nine this year, and which sew-a-long and projects reviews you’re excited to see!

2020: The Year Of The Blog

As we approach Christmas, albeit a very 2020 Christmas, I have started reflecting on the year. While it’s been stressful in some ways, its been a great year for me, I started my blog/channel and instagram this summer to name one great thing!

Adam & Me in Zurich

I rang in the new year with Adam in Zurich while visiting his extended family. In January I had a great birthday and started playing badminton weekly with Adam for some time together from my busy work schedule. In February I left my stressful workplace and got a new job and I went on a bra making workshop at the New Crafthouse. I saw my family in London in March and my family and Adam’s family all had dinner together which was really special. Then the pandemic hit. After some extremely stressful moments considering whether or not I would be made redundant, my colleagues were put on furlough and I stayed full time helping clients reschedule their events across the next two years.

During this time I sewed a few things, did some pattern drafting and planning but my old red machine was getting to me a little, my motivation was slack and the living room was not configured in a way that let me have enough light to sew. Adam and I did some gardening and I taught and filmed a lot of yoga classes. But I wanted to sew more. I also had always wanted a blog. I have tried many times to keep a blog going but I always felt silly because I didn’t feel like I really had anything good to say. I could do the first few posts but then I just felt like I was forcing it. Its one of the great challenges of blogging to keep the authentic voice and purpose. However talking about sewing is something I can do and whats more I LOVE doing, much to the dismay of many of my friends.

Enter The Blog

My First Logo

I vividly remember the day I started this blog. 28th June, I was lying in bed watching treasure planet on Disney Plus and I’d been toying with the idea for a few days and then I decided to go for it that morning. I spent all morning trying to think of names, I enlisted my sisters to help but in the end I actually came up with So What If I Sew. Honestly ‘So What If I Sew’ is the crux of the response I give to people who make judgemental comments about my hobby and a response I’m sure we can all relate to. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly nervous about starting the blog because I am by no means an expert. In fact one of my first blog posts was put down by a woman who decided to tell me my scissors were rubbish and I clearly had no idea what I was talking about but I don’t care, I love sewing and dressmaking and it is for absolutely everybody.

So now here we are six months on and I’ve loved every minute of it. I love blogging and vlogging and instagramming. My YouTube Channel has been a great source of relaxation and fun, watching other sewing vlogs on YouTube has been very inspiring and the sewing community as a whole are wonderful and supportive. I am now starting to plan my landmark makes for next year and I can’t wait to show you all what I get up to. I am going to return to fabric Friday blogs in the new year but I am going to aim for fortnightly reviews instead. I will also do a monthly blog spotlight on a project and I’ll be asking on instagram what you guys want the blog to be on!

Now I’m off to relax with Adam before we go and pick up our Christmas Duck from the Farm Shop and start really getting ready for our first Christmas just the two of us.

Merry Christmas all and Happy New Year!

Sewing Plans For Lockdown 2.0

Hello everyone, I’m writing to you having just woken up from a nap after a fantastic Sunday roast courtesy of Adam and we are back in lockdown. Now I don’t mind lockdown especially, it’s a strange time but not much will change for me personally however mentally and emotionally its still very tiring. So! To combat this emotional time I have started thinking about the projects I want to accomplish in lockdown alongside the very significant amount of Christmas present sewing I’ve got to do. I’m sewing something for my mum, dad and eldest sister this year along with some other potential sewing presents so lots to do and therefore even more important that I continue some selfish projects to challenge myself as a sewist and make sure I’m still getting time to relax.

My current work in progress is my Tilly And The Buttons Eden Coat. I’ve been working on it for ten days so far and its incredibly tiring but I’m proud of my work and I’m super excited that I will have actually made myself a coat. It feels like such an incredible step forward and advancement in my sewing. I’m hoping to finish it by next weekend as I’ve got to make a whole second version for my sisters Christmas/Birthday present so I will write a blog post reflecting on the making process and any lessons I learnt along the way.

However there are a few other garments I’m looking to make in the next month or so which I have listed below:

Lotta Dress, Tilly And The Buttons

I’ve got these two stunning fabrics from The Sewist Fabric Shop and from Felicity Fabrics, both of which are destined to become Lotta’s however I’m not sure if I’ve got enough of the green one but I’m super excited to work with these fabrics and this pattern! I’m saving the first one up for this week, I think it will be a palette cleanser when my Eden Coat gets too much.

Nora Top, Tilly And The Buttons

As the weather gets colder the Nora top is really starting to call to me and luckily I’ve quite a few snuggly fabrics in my stash. I’ve got a grey rib knit, a coral rib knit as well as a cosy navy textured jersey/scuba and some other jerseys and I’ve got a feeling that the Nora will be making making appearances in my wardrobe. I’ll be writing a blog about my first Nora so stay tuned!

Wrap Dress, GBSB

Above is a picture of the first GBSB wrap dress I made in October. I want to make another of these now I understand the sizing better and make the adjustments I discussed last time. I have some gorgeous slightly heavier viscose jersey that is a black base with an abstract print from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn that would look stunning as a wrap so I just want to have another go at this pattern knowing what I know now.

Something with my waffle

I’ve not got a pattern in mind for this one but I have the most gorgeous ochre waffling from Felicity Fabrics and I really want to make something cosy and comfy for the winter. I was considering a cute yellow dressing gown but then maybe a Freya or similar would work for it? I’m not sure. Please let me know below if you’ve worked with a non-stretch waffle and if there any patterns you could recommend!

Florence Blouse, SizeMe Sewing

This is a new pattern purchase from SizeMe Sewing, a raglan blouse with shirred sleeves(never done shirring before so very exciting!) and I’m going to make it in my purple viscose marrocain from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn. I’ve been holding on to this fabric for ages now because I just couldn’t quite find the right pattern for it but as soon as I saw the blouse online and I knew this would be the one! Can’t wait to make this but definitely need to get some shirring elastic in.

Christmas Sweatshirt

Finally project on my wishlist. As we are stuck at home for the foreseeable I wanted to get into the christmas spirit buy some plain sweatshirting/loop back jersey and some christmas patterned sweatshirting to make two tone Christmas sweatshirt! It will be my first christmas video so I’m just looking at fabrics at the moment and then I will buy the fabrics themselves once I’m paid at the end of November!

So these are some of my sewing plans. Not a definitive list by any means but the projects that I have in my mind at the moment to complete before Christmas. Above all I don’t want to lose my sewing motivation because I’m sewing complex things for other people, I want a list I can turn to when my inspiration is low to just make something fun for me. I will learn loads from the presents I’m making but sewing for others can get a little dull so I’m excited to work through my personal sewing list. Now I’m going to finish uploading my first Eden Coat Vlog and tidy the house before another very busy week!

Anticipate Your Wardrobe Needs To Give Up Fast Fashion

I want to take a moment to reflect on my three months without fast fashion and my new relationship with my wardrobe. I’m surprised that I don’t miss shopping but this could be because I haven’t actually been into a shop yet so the temptation hasn’t been strong. Honestly I actually feel liberated, no pangs of regret after spending too much, no more constant emails and a much more comfortable relationship with my body. Now I can make clothes that fit me and not have to rely on whether or not my body type is in fashion to buy jeans. Another wonderful side effect of this process has been the appreciation its given me of my existing wardrobe. I have gone through my full wardrobe to remind myself what pieces make my heart soar and which ones I make me feel frumpy. Its also given me time to consider my style and what I genuinely like wearing, the gaps in my wardrobe and the garments I’ve always wanted.

A great example of this analysis is my recent foray into making tops. I have plenty of shirts and going-out tops but very few standard day to day tops and t-shirts. I saw the gap and decided to fix it! The result? My Gwen Batwing Top, my Amaya Shirt, my boxy blouse and I’ve even made a couple of Shell Tops from GBSB, check out my vlog sew-a-long here! It can be hard to identify the gaps especially as the gaps generally match the garments you hate buying. The joy of sewing however is that we can craft our own versions of garments we hate buying. For example, I don’t buy tops very often because I find sizing difficult. With a 10inch difference between my bust and my waist there are very few RTW tops I can buy comfortably however when I sew I can adjust all the measurements in a garment as required and make something for my body type. So how do you hunt down those wardrobe weak spots?

3 Steps To Finding Your Wardrobe Weak Spots

  1. Look At Your Wardrobe – Seriously just get all your clothes out and go through them. What do you love? And crucially, what do actually you wear? Is there anything you want to wear but have nothing to go with it? Write it all down.
  2. Look At Your Bookmarks/Saved Links – This step is important as its the clothes that we lust over online and save and wait for that we really want. Sometimes we bookmark aspirational things that we would love but can’t afford. Again write down what types fo clothes you’ve bookmarked and then think about WHY you want those clothes? For me I often bookmark things that are much more expensive that I really want. It used to make me feel bad but now its just sewing inspiration!
  3. Consider Your Purchasing Habits – Think back to your last few shopping trips, what did you buy? What do you hate buying? The things we hate buying tend to be the things we need. For example, I hate buying and wearing trousers other than skinny jeans and tight leggings therefore I have no other trousers at all. Now I probably should take a foray into other types of trousers but its too disheartening in the shops as they ever fit my leg length or dimensions. Therefore they are a great candidate for me to make.

Hopefully these tips will help you find the weak spots in your wardrobe and then work to fill them either with high quality products or me made garments. For me it is all me-made garments but I recognise not everyone is looking to give up fashion completely. In terms of fighting the urge to shop I find planning my makes helps a lot. I’ve made a pattern wishlist and now I get the same rush of excitement when I buy a new pattern or finish a new garment. Giving up fast fashion isn’t always easy but you’ve got to start somewhere and auditing your clothes is never a bad idea.

My First Instagram Fabric Swap

Hello everybody and Happy Friday! The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that two weeks ago, for the first time since I started this blog, there was no fabric shop review last week! Last week I featured the wonderful Sewing At Number 51 so go check that out that blog post if you’re interested. In fact two weeks ago I wanted to write about my experiences taking part in my very first instagram fabric swap however all the fabric hadn’t arrived and then I got quite ridiculously busy so today you join me for a slightly different Fabric Friday!

I want to start by saying that this was an incredibly fun community experience that I am really glad I took part in however I will freely admit initially I had no idea what was going on or how to get involved. This blog post therefore will be half review of my experiences and half guide to beginner instagram sewers who want to get involved in the next one. I’m not sure how regular they are, this one was part of the #sewyourselfsustainable challenge with New Craft House but I’m sure there are quite a few across the year. So, what did I swap and what did I get?

Fabrics I Swapped:

  • Navy Gingham (1m)
  • Red Floral Cotton (>1m)
  • Navy Star Cotton (>2m)
  • Black Floral Cotton (>1m)

Sadly no one claimed my fluffy monster fabric but if anyone wants it you’re more than welcome! its incredibly long but only about 40cm wide so not ideal but still very much available.

Fabrics I Received:

  • Green Stretch Velvet
  • Peach Viscose Jersey
  • Rust Triple Crepe
  • Navy Textured Jersey

The swap was a wonderful experience, it was so lovely to connect with other makers and take part in a big community event. Normally I am too shy or unprepared to take part in these however now I actually have fabric stash and whats more its growing rapidly so I thought it was a great time to take part. It was wonderful to be able to swap out enormous remnants from where I’d just bought too much fabric for one make or I just couldn’t think how to use. There isn’t the pressure of having to take money or pay., it was just a nice swap event plus I got some fabrics I’ve always wanted to work with but didn’t have the financial confidence in my sewing skills to buy.

So to finish off I wanted to share my top tips for taking part in fabric swaps.

  1. If There’s A Hashtag Follow It! – This helps straight away. Not only does it mean you can keep up to date with whats going on, it also massively increases the range of makers and accounts you can find and interact with. More accounts means more fabric options!
  2. Don’t Be Scared To Get Involved – Most people will post fabrics on their grid and some people will talk through them properly on their story. Don’t be scared to respond to a story or comment on the grid post and ask if fabrics are still available. When I started I knew there was a swapping element but I didn’t know how to introduce it into conversation because I have a British awkwardness that knows no bounds. So if you’re nervous just say something along the following, ‘Is that *insert fabric here* still free? I’ve put my fabrics up so let me know if there is anything you would like to swap.’ Something along those lines. The reason I put a literal sentence is because there are some wonderful but rather shy makers out there who wanted to get involved so if you’re nervous thats how you start the conversation!
  3. Get Your Remnants Ready First – This is a key step. Before you start looking at all the gorgeous fabrics that people want to swap, get all of your fabric out and I mean ALL, and figure out what you’re going to use, what you have plans for and what you just aren’t going to use. One of the big sources for my remnants was fabric from early makes because stupidly I actually followed the instructions and bought the amount of the fabric the pattern suggested. *Spoiler Alert* I always need about half a metre less than the fabric tells me is absolutely compulsory. Maybe I’m good at laying pattern pieces and maybe I’m just short.
  4. Plan What You’re Going To Post In – This sounds silly but normally these happen over the weekend and most people post on the Monday and Tuesday so just remember than once you have successfully swapped your fabrics you will need two things; 1. the address of the person your posting and 2. something to put your fabric in. You ideally want this to be pretty cost neutral apart from the cost of posting itself so have a hunt around for envelopes or if you’re starting to plan now save the post bags your fabric is sent in originally as they are ideal.
  5. Don’t Go Crazy – This is just a little reminder that you aren’t buying fabric here you are swapping so presumably you will get the same number of fabrics as you have swapped so remember you can’t have everything! Be discerning, pick fabrics you can’t normally access or want to work with, a lot of people actually specify fabrics they are interested in in their grid post. Just remember, have a great time, take part and don’t go mad!