Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 5 2013 - Reflections, Inspirations & Goals

Happy New Year to you and yours! Here's to a fantastic one for us of us, full of creativity, inspiration and sewing satisfaction. :)

Part 2 of the Top 5 today... and what a perfect topic(s) for the first day of the year! We'll start with:


1) 2013 was the first year I committed to making all my own clothes. Initially I wasn't sure whether it was doable, or if I'd be able to stick it out (would I be utterly sick of sewing by the year's end?). Verdict: Entirely doable! I've found it liberating, not being limited to the styles and colours of the shops' offerings.

As for being sick of it - I've never enjoyed sewing as much as I have this year, which is partly due to the sheer satisfaction of the creative process, and partly due to the amazing online community which is so unwaveringly kind, generous and supportive. Thank you! You've made it a wonderful year.

2) I have overcome my reluctance to wear my me-made stuff in public. Last January I had a handful of things I loved but never wore - someone might have seen them! ;) It's a vulnerable thing initially, isn't it? And I was always slightly worried that if people asked, "Did you make that?" it was because it looked homemade - in a bad way. That intimidation factor is completely gone now. In fact people at work often ask, now they know I sew, and look a bit disappointed if I say no...

I've also - mostly - overcome my dislike of being photographed. I very much prefer being behind the camera, but that's not going to cut it when you write a sewing blog, obviously... Special thanks to my twelve year old daughter who takes all my photos (I started off asking my husband, but that usually ended in an argument. Too many chefs... ;) )

3) Sewing this past year has definitely taught me to trust my own taste and judgment more. I've never been a fashionista, nor a slave to trends, mainly because I've always loved vintage and period clothes and the whole notion of everyone wearing the same thing always seemed a bit limiting or unimaginative. But as an introvert I've always shied away from standing out. So in the past even when I've seen something I loved and that I know would suit me, if it was too different from what everyone else was wearing I typically baulked and left it alone.

Maybe the confidence to jettison fashion in favour of personal style naturally evolves as you get older, but I think sewing for myself is definitely hastening the process.

4) I think I have begun to do what I hoped I would do - slow down my consumption. I'm finding I impulse buy far less often, now that I know that that purchase entails time and effort on my part to come to fruition. Any purchases are a lot more considered than when I was just grabbing a quick, cheap fix off the racks. There isn't time, sadly, to make all the things I'd like to make (not if I want a life outside sewing...), so I'm trying to prioritise more. I'd much rather have ten well-made garments that I love to wear, than 50 ho-hum ones than I don't.

5) Looking back over what I've made this year, although most individual garments were successful, I think I can be a lot more cohesive in what I plan and make from now on. I've sewn a lot of clothes; now I want to start sewing a wardrobe. My "rule of three" (whatever I buy needs to go with at least three things I already own) has been helpful, but I think I need to sit down and evaluate where the gaps are. That'll be a focus for next year I think.

All in all, I think it's been a successful year. I've learnt a lot, grown a bit, and enjoy sewing more than I ever have. On to:


In no particular order:

1) To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World by Lucy Siegel. I've mentioned this before, but this is the book I read in late 2012 that initiated my goal to forego RTW for a year. It continued to inspire me all year. Excellent, enlightening and, most of all, motivating read.

2) The online sewing sewing community. I won't list individual blogs, because I'm bound to miss someone, but having largely avoided social media up until now this was a wonderful surprise. Who knew the internet could be such a friendly, inspiring and supportive place! (I sound like I'm eighty...)

3) Pinterest. Another surprise! I don't know what it is about being told I HAVE to try something that makes me dig in my heels and avoid said thing, but I'm glad I backed down on this one. (took a few people saying it though...) To me it's been less of a social media thing (see #2), and more a sewing inspiration board. And it's been really helpful with styling ideas, which don't come naturally to me.

4) Order and calm. I don't function well in chaos. I remember reading in an Isabelle Allende book the sentence, "He felt filled with noise inside; he longed for the void of silence and solitude." I know I can't be inspired or creative when I'm not calm on the inside. The good thing is that this isn't dependent on circumstances - just as well, because life gets busy at times! For me to remain inspired, I have to make sure I'm setting aside quiet me-time; praying, meditating, walking, reading, even just watching the sky for ten minutes with a cup of tea. These are not selfish things! These are what help me do the rest of life well, or as well as I possibly can. Which leads fairly naturally into:

5) This saying I heard a few years ago: "You make time for the things that are important to you." This irritated me no end initially - probably because making excuses is easier than taking responsibility! But it's true - say if I want to be fit, I'll forego an extra hour of sleep to do something about it. (not a personal example that one...) Sewing a dress is more effort than just buying one off the rack. But the rewards of creative expression, refining skills and personal satisfaction are more important to me than the "quick fix", so I make the time for it. To me that's empowering...and it inspires me to follow through on my resolution.

Ok - on to next year!

2014 GOALS:

1) TO DO:
   Write down a wardrobe plan; what do I need, what do I want, how does it all fit together?  Also, I like the idea of sewing to a colour palette - no more wardrobe orphans!

   There are a few individual items I really want to try my hand at this year (I'll make sure they fit into above plan)

  •  A coat. I got a Style Arc gift voucher for Christmas - already spent and ordered - and one of the patterns I chose was the Ziggi Jacket. It looks pretty challenging, and a leetle bit intimidating, but I'm looking forward to this one!
  • Trousers. I refuse to be intimidated any longer. 2014 will see me make pants I enjoy wearing. Extra points if they're tailored or jeans.
  • A tailored blazer. Tricky. Must buy tailors ham.
  • A proper shirt. Or a silk blouse. Something that improves my finishing skills.
  • Underwear. This was the one exclusion to last year's RTW ban. I'd love to be able to make my own. Ohhh Lulu have some lovely patterns. Won't be modelling these personally on the blog though; a hanger shot will have to suffice!
I'd also like to sew more for the family. I've been wanting to try out some Thread Theory menswear patterns since I saw them. 2014 is the year!

3) TO TRY:
   Fair Isle or colourwork in knitting. I've admired from afar, but I'd love to actually have a go at it.

   More proficient with sewing knits. You really can't - well, I can't - have a wardrobe without knits. I've made a start, but I want to get good at them.

   How to spin. (I feel all earth-motherish just writing that ;) ) I was just given two massive bags of alpaca fleece ( I know!!) recently, and have borrowed my mum's spinning wheel. It's going to happen! I'd really like to try my hand at natural dyeing too, and this is the perfect opportunity. 

So there's 2014 at a glance - the ideal version anyhow.... It's looking a bit ambitious, but honestly even if I only achieve half of those goals I'll be satisfied. No harm in aspiring!

Here's to a wonderful new creative year for all of us! What are your sewing plans for 2014?

Danielle oxo


  1. Your Rule of 3 is the exact rule I always had for Impulse Buys. I need to revive that rule.

    1. It's a great rule! I used to use it for RTW too - I think it's saved me quite a bit over the years... :)

  2. That's a great, mindful summary Danielle. I do like your rule of 3 too - would go well with all wardrobe additions including self made items and accessories! I'm sure you will conquer pants - I'm trying to think of them as nothing more than longer shorts! I'm so glad to have found your blog this year, and thanks so much for all your great comments on my posts! Happy new year! X

    1. Longer shorts, hey? That's helpful! I've actually got a pair of shorts - with welt pockets! - cut out and ready to go...we'll call it babystepping towards pants ;)
      And thanks, I've loved reading your blog too!

  3. Love your thoughts! I think you hit a lot of points on why we do what we do. Great to hear your plans and good luck on accomplishing them! I look forward to reading your adventures.

    1. Thank you! It was good to take the time to evaluate a little bit - I don't do that very often. Happy new year!

  4. Wow! What an interesting post! I can't wait to see what you make! It sounds like its goimg to be an exciting year! X

    1. Thanks Helen! Seeing it all written down makes me start to wonder whether I've been a bit ambitious (Blazer. Hmmm...), but it's worth a try!

  5. These are some great goals and plans! the best of luck with making your own lingerie; once you find a good pattern that is the style you like then it's lots of fun :)

  6. Ooh, I love your goals! Learning to spin, how cool! And I'm also embarking on trouser and collared shirt sewing this year (at least, I've put it down as goals)...