Monday, 12 August 2013

Two Year Sewing-versary! (and a giveaway to celebrate it)

Two years ago today a shiny new sewing machine was delivered to my house.

The start of even wanting a sewing machine was this post, which I was linked to by one of the (many) people I know who are involved to a greater or lesser extent in body acceptance movements: Why clothes fit celebrities and not you. The point, I think, of the article is probably more about worrying less about not getting a good fit from RTW clothes, with the implication being that celebrities can afford to get every single damn thing made or tailored to fit (and have to, in fact, because their livelihoods are partly dependent on looking well put-together) and most of the rest of us can't, and that is why even simple items like a white tee look great on them and not so much on us. However, what I took away from the article was this: maybe I could learn to sew, and then alter my own clothes. At the very least, maybe I should stop relying on my mother to take the hems up when I buy trousers that are too long for me.

That is NOT AT ALL the trajectory my actual sewing has taken and I have no more idea now than I ever did how alter RTW to fit (although I would indeed be able to take my own hems up now). I mean, I could probably figure out how to take in a skirt waistband to fit with some help from google, but it's definitely not been the focus of my sewing. At the time I bought the machine, though, I sort of had this hazy idea that I would do a lot of refashioning, but I've only ever done one project that could even remotely be called a refashion. The main problem is that I don't know where these mythical charity shops are where people "thrift" and get wonderful deals to start their refashion, but let me tell you where they aren't: the rural north-west of England. In every charity shop I ever went into all that was for sale was the SAME EXACT dreck that was in the high street shops -- because it came from them originally -- only 2 years out of date and worn and oh, by the way, still AT LEAST a fiver for a cheap blouse that probably only cost £8 to start with. Maybe it's better here in Dublin, given that it's a major city, but I've not even seen a charity shop to go into yet. The other problem is that, I have to be honest, I have seen some amazing refashioning projects but they are far, FAR outnumbered by refashioning projects where all I could think was: nope. I'm not saying never for refashioning, but it's definitely not likely to be my Big Thing. (I also don't think it's co-incidence that the most successful refashioners I've seen are all small women -- both in terms of weight and height. You can make almost anything smaller but your choices are limited to the (very few, mostly drecky and expensive) plus size clothes and large men's clothes in stock if you're tall and plus-size.)

At any rate, when I actually started sewing, what I really made was bags. I don't know why, because I am the LEAST interested in handbags of almost any woman I know. Nevertheless, that's what I made. Here are all the things I made in 2011, the year I started sewing, to give you some idea of my progression. The bag I'm most proud of, after two years, is probably the ChrisW Designs Olivia I made for my sister-in-law last year in denim. I have plans to make one for myself this autumn in navy blue and white, but every time I think about it I remember that this is a 20+ hour project and sort of crumble under the idea of making it again. (Nothing against the pattern, which is amazing, its just a long, long, LONG make.)

At the time I started sewing, I was adamant that I would not ever sew clothes. When I originally learned to sew a bit, in home economics class aged 11-13 before I gave it up to take German class instead, I had to make a patchwork pillow case and an A-line skirt. They're both in one of the (frighteningly large number of) boxes that are arriving tomorrow with the rest of my belongings, and I must remember to take some photos of them at some point for the sake of amusement. Suffice to say the patchwork was bad, the skirt was a sad endeavour that never fit me, and the whole thing turned me right off the idea of sewing. This time around, the idea of making clothes crept up on me gradually. I took about 4 months off sewing last summer because I was too sick at the time, and that was when my enthusiasm for sewing garments really ramped up. The thing is that my first love is learning, and there came a point where all the bags I made were just increasingly more of the same thing over and over. Garment sewing was a new challenge, with tons of new things to learn. I'm not going to lie, it's been more challenge than I expected sometimes, but it's still loads and loads of fun, and there's loads and loads to learn, and that pretty much guarantees my continued interest.

I'm probably most proud that I TRIED to make a jacket for the wedding I attended earlier this summer, although my actual feelings about the jacket have taken a sharp reversal. I don't have any photos of me from the day of the wedding (I hate having my photo taken, which is why Flossie models most of the garments I've made) but I am pretty sure the jacket at least looked terribly home-made and grim. Probably it looked no worse than a badly fitted RTW jacket, though, so I refuse to worry about it overly. It's not like I ruined anyone's wedding photos since I was just a friend of the two brides and therefore not in any of them!

In conclusion: two years of sewing! It's gone so fast! I've learned so much! I'm still so shockingly bad at it! It's all kind of awesome.

To reward you for reading this far, I have a tiny giveaway to offer. I don't really know how many people read this blog -- maybe 20 or so, based on my stats -- so maybe this will be a case of me offering a giveaway and then crickets chirping in the ensuing silence. However, on the off-chance that any body is out there, I'm offering a pattern to each of two randomly selected persons:

Giveaway #1: The Tiramisu dress pattern by Cake patterns

Have a look at the pattern for sizing, because it's a bit unusual. I've seen versions made by women of all kinds of sizes though, so pretty sure it will work for a lot of people.

Brand new, not even taken out of the envelope. I have the original version which has a printing error in it, but the errata are included in the envelope and I don't think it's significant.

Giveaway #2: Simplicity 2773 - Knit co-ordinates - size 18W to 24W

I really loved this pattern of knit co-ordinates but the sizing doesn't work for me (take a look at the sizing to see if it will work for you!). Again, completely new and unused, although I think I took the instructions out of the package at some point.

If you would like to win either pattern, just tell me which you like best (if you would like to enter for both, you can do that too, since I am thinking the number of entrants will be SMALL.) I will post to anywhere in the world. I will make the draw on Friday and post them, um, whenever I actually manage to dig them out of the box they are currently stored in.


  1. Happy anniversary. You have a lot to be proud of. You have created some lovely items. Your bags are gorgeous. Sorry you are no longer happy with your jacket. I love that jacket.

    Both patterns sound great but I have been dying to try the Tiramisu.

    Good luck with your next 2 years.

    I am coming up to my second anniversary as well so look out for a givaway on my blog too.

    1. Thank you! I wish I still liked the jacket (jackets, in fact, since I made a second one to the same pattern and have exactly the same problems with it, not surprisingly) but I kind of don't. Oh well, it was a GREAT learning experience, if nothing else.

      I will add you to the Tiramisu draw!

  2. Happy anniversary! I won't enter the giveaway as I have a squillion unsewn patterns including the tiramisu, but I just wanted to say I do enjoy your blog and from the photos I can't see what you don't like about the jacket. It's a bit loose on flossie's er, front, but I assume that's not the case in real life! It looks great from here. Thank you for taking the trouble to blog!

    1. Thank you! I am glad you enjoy my blog. I write mostly for my own entertainment but it's nice to think people are reading it who aren't me :D

      Flossie is not so, ahem, well-endowed as yours truly, I must admit!

  3. Happy Sewing-versary (what a great word!). I'd love to try the Simplicity pattern if I were to be a winner.

    I think with charity shops, perseverance is the key. The number of times I have walked out empty handed is far greater that the number of times I’ve walked out with a great find. If you are having no luck finding Dublin charity shops, Dun Laoghaire and Bray have a good selection, but I think the recession is hitting the quality of donations both in the UK and in Ireland.

    1. I will add you to the draw! (I really wish I'd been able to use that pattern, I was desperate to make that snuggly looking shrug).

      I will have to try again with charity shops, but I think you're right -- that and the fact that everyone shops at Primark, seemingly. If it was crap to start with, by the time it gets to the charity shop it's really not worth having.

      (PS, I saw on your blog that you went to Standfast in Lancaster! Man, I'm going to miss that place. I have so many of their fents that I bought when I lived nearby!)

  4. Yay, two years, that's great! Happy anniversary! Please, go on writing like you do in the future!
    I'd love to try the Tiramisu pattern. The other one looks nice too, but I'm not quite the right size.

    1. I will add you to the Tiramisu draw!

  5. Happy anniversary! I'd love to jump on the Tiramisu give sweepstake.

  6. Happy sewing-versary and many more happy sewing years to come! *^v^* I also started sewing with bags, they're good for practicing little details, like zippers, buttons, pockets.
    I love the Tiramisu dress, please count me in. ^^*~~

  7. Congratulations on two years of sewing! I'm late to the party - trying to catch up on blog reads since last week's move.

  8. Congratulations on two years of sewing! I'm late to the party - trying to catch up on blog reads since last week's move.