Monday, 1 January 2018

2018: Goals and the 2018 Magazine Challenge

Happy New Year to those celebrating today! :D Hope everyone, no matter whether you're a New Year goal-setter, a forgotten-about-it-by-7th-January-resolution-maker or a hibernate-through-January-to-avoid-it-all type, has a fabulous year ahead. :D

It's surely no surprise to anyone that I'm a big goal-setter/planner at New Year.

This year, there is a big over-arching story to my sewing goals. Towards the end of 2017, I spent a bit of time cleaning up my sewing room, which had become very disorganized. As I was tidying it up, I found myself admiring my fabric, thinking how well it all fits together, and how great it would be to have actual garments made of it rather than folded rectangles on a shelf. In a fit of organizing zeal, I then tidied up all my envelope patterns and magazines as well. Again, I kept thinking how many great patterns I already own and how much I wish I owned those clothes.

This is not by chance. Over the last eighteen months, I've been gradually sorting and culling my fabric stash so that it only contains things that would look good in my wardrobe and that I like and I've made sure any new additions would fit in well, especially in terms of the colours I've been buying. I did the same to my pattern stash, so that it only contains patterns for things that I would actually like to wear. Organized on shelves, it looks remarkably pretty and surprisingly cohesive.

At the end of my tidying up, my sewing room was looking great. However, I still felt quite dissatisfied. Nobody who sews buys fabric and patterns to look pretty on shelves. We buy it because of the potential of it all. So why exactly is all this fabulous potential that I've been collecting still sitting on shelves as fabric and patterns, sometimes for years, and not hanging as garments in my wardrobe?

Partly, of course, the answer is that I've been ill, and I'm not beating myself up too much for the sometimes lengthy delays in turning plans into actions as a result. Partly the answer is that it's taken a while for my sewing skills to catch up with my ambitions. The other big constraint is ridiculous though, because it's just fear: not wanting to use my 'best' fabric in case my idea doesn't work out, or my sewing skills don't stand up to the challenge. But, really, that's silly: it's just fabric. It's just clothes. What is the worst case scenario, after all? Everything goes disastrously wrong when I try to make something and it all ends up in the bin. I mean, that would be a shame, but there's no actual calamity there. On past experience, I know that, once I've complained about it a bit, I'll get over it, and I'll probably learn a great deal in the process.

With this pep talk in mind, I sat down with my wardrobe plan spreadsheet (because, c'mon, this is me, of course I have a wardrobe plan spreadsheet!) and asked myself some questions: What does that "fabulous potential" wardrobe that I keep comparing my real wardrobe to really look like? What part of it do I already have right now, and where are the gaps? How many of those gaps can I fill by sewing up the stash I already own? What's left over, in terms of things I want to sew that I don't have stash to cover, stash that doesn't quite seem to fit in anywhere, and things I don't generally choose/want to sew and might need to buy?

I've done this before -- in fact, I've been doing a version of this kind of planning for a couple of years -- but this was a big new refinement of my wardrobe plan, and it's left me feeling really excited and optimistic about what I might make this year. My big sewing plan for 2018, therefore, is really a simpler, but much more complete version of what I was trying to grope my way towards with my Wishlist Challenge last year: This year, I want to use the things I have, and try to make the things I really want to own.

More specifically:

1. (a) Stick to my 2018 sewing budget. Living within my budget is always my first goal! I am starting this year with the lower number I ended 2017. My focus is going to be really strongly on using fabric and patterns that I already own, so hopefully apart from notions, gap-filling fabric and the like, costs should be lower overall compared to other years. I'll see how that goes over the first half of the year.

(b) Stick to my specific envelope/PDF pattern spending limit for 2018. This is basically the same budget as I have limited myself to for the last two years.  Honestly, I don't need any more patterns at all. Between my huge magazine stash, a sizeable envelope and PDF stash, and my magazine subscriptions I've already got pretty much everything imaginable and a whole lot more headed my way over the course of the year. However, I'm guessing that somehow there will still be a few things released this year that I just won't be able to resist. This goal is really here therefore just to keep a lid on that spending.

2. (a) Use at least 50% of the fabric I buy this year. I do know I'll need to buy some fabric for immediate use in 2018, because I've got some holes in my plan. As with patterns, I am not optimistic that I won't also see and buy a few things 'just because' now and again, not all of which might get used this year. But the theme of this year really is "use what I already have" and "fill in gaps", not buying for stash.

(b) Reduce my overall fabric stash to under 150m by the end of the year. Even though I've planned big stash reductions before and never achieved it, my attention this year is going to be on turning the fabric I already own and love into the garments I've imagined it could be. Logically, if I manage to make my imaginary wardrobe a reality, an overall reduction of my fabric stash should follow. I'm starting at almost exactly 200m so I am aiming to reduce my stash by 50m overall. That sounds overwhelmingly huge as a goal, but, put another way, it means on average I have to use 1m more than I buy per week all year, which sounds a lot more reasonable!

(c) Increase my envelope and PDF pattern utilization. The vast majority of my PDF and envelope patterns are unused. I didn't buy them to look pretty on my shelves: I bought them because I really liked the idea of owning those clothes. Right now, I've used 18% of my envelope patterns and 24% of my PDF patterns, so I have plenty of room to improve.

I don't just want to make great new things this year - I also want to make them well and for them to have good longevity (as I discussed in my second review of 2017 post). Thus:

3. Focus on quality and longevity in my sewn and RTW wardrobe. The specifics of this are based on my wardrobe vs. 30 Wears analysis I did at the end of 2017, which produced some pretty clear ways I could improve. For one, I'm going to try changing up my laundry practices in order to try to keep certain types of garments from degrading so quickly. I'm also going to try, when buying new fabric and RTW clothes, to buy better quality (in particular with knit garments and fabrics). And finally, I'm going to make sure I use fitting and construction methods that are suited to producing a garment that at least has the potential to last for 30 wears

On the fitting front, I think what I need to focus on this year is (a) incremental improvement of fit for those types of garments where I have some idea of how to get things to fit reasonably well and (b) the big missing piece: "anything lower body" but particularly trousers. Provided I stay healthy enough to face it, I will have to attempt another at least one giant fitting spree for that, though probably not until a bit later in the year. I am very tempted to try to book and attend a trouser fitting multi-day class, but I can't be certain enough of my health to commit that money right now.

Overall, my idea is that 2018 is mainly going to be about executing a lot of plans. However, because all plan and no whimsy is no fun, I'm also going to add another goal/challenge:

4. The 2018 Magazine Challenge: Make one thing from any 2018 issue of any of my three subscriptions (Burda, Ottobre, Knipmode) per month. This is a more relaxed version of the Burda challenge a lot of people do. I'm allowing myself to use any of my magazine subscriptions, and I won't restrict myself to the current month of the magazines except, for obvious reasons, in January. Ottobre only comes out twice a year, and Burda and Knipmode are both bonkers in the summer, so I prefer to give myself some flexibility.

I think this challenge is a great way to lighten up from the planned wardrobe mode I hope to be in the rest of the year. I'll try to draw from my fabric stash, but I'm open to buying fabric specifically for the challenge garments, my only limitation being that I need whatever I make fit in, in terms of colours and broad silhouettes, with the rest of my wardrobe. I'm far too practical to make things I'll never ever wear, like ball gowns or something. However, I do think that I want to pick out and make patterns that are more trendy, unusual or interesting to sew. Although I only managed to make a few things last year for my 2017 challenge, their outcomes ranged from spectacularly successful to total wadder, and I am strangely OK with that trend continuing.

With all these ideas and plans buzzing around, it was hard to decide where to start! However, first up, I'm going to be plugging another major gap in my outerwear wardrobe, using fabric I've had stashed for this exact purpose since 2012. I've also picked out my January Magazine Challenge item. :D


  1. I love your planning posts. (Actually I love all your posts, though I haven't commented recently.) I find that although you and I don't have exactly the same style of dressing, your planning and sewing processes are remarkably similar to mine, so often I can "borrow" your conclusions without having to have done all the detailed calculations. So thank you for that, and carry on! And I really hope that your health stays under control this year and that you can make good progress on sewing and everything else, too!

    1. Thank you! I am glad you find my blog useful/interesting even if our taste in clothes is divergent! :D

  2. These are well-thought goals. In 2017, I only bought 5 new patterns. I intend to limit myself in 2018 and try to sew things I own and patterns return to again and again.

    Happy New Year and good luck.

  3. Great post. I share the same sentiment concerning patterns and fabrics. In 2017 I decreased my spending on patterns and fabrics by 80 %. In 2018 I plan to continue the same trend. The post reflect your careful thoughts about your plans for 2018.