Reflection: how sewing saved me in 2017

Just under a year ago I finally got around to resurrecting my sewing hobby. I hadn’t finished anything for about 20 years because I had been ‘too busy’ at work. During lunch with a buddy, we both discussed how we had let our love of sewing drift and agreed to get back into it together. During our post-lunch window-shopping spree, we ‘happened’ to wander into Ditto Fabrics and a couple of other stores en route and both bought fabric. Great you may think but those fabrics just went into the stash for another year or so. Finally, after a lot of dithering, I resolved to get back in, so now ‘free’ from work, I dusted off my sewing machine and had it serviced and started looking at old projects and new. I also started this little blog to chronicle my progress and I think to keep me going. The most effective thing I did was join Instagram in February. I never really was into IG because I didn’t think I had an “IG lifestyle” but I have found this so inspiring purely because it has given me an outlet for my creativity and it has provided such a lot of support. This has made want to sew and to share my progress. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bit of praise.

Once I had committed to sewing again, I had a big problem to solve, my dress form was kaput and I’m not earning so I cant just buy another. So I rebuilt her. This involved replacing the covering and shoring up the construction a bit. Not perfect, but fit for purpose once more. Never underestimate how much a dress form helps you sew. Once you have one it’s hard to do without.

My refurbished  Venus dress form

Works in Progress and Stash-busting were my stated targets when I started but unfortunately, I still have many items waiting to be completed and my fabric stash has tripled in size!  I haven’t bought any more patterns though and I have drafted a few of my own which is a long-held dream.

The first thing I did, fittingly was a WIP. I have quite a few of them and one of the promises I made to myself was to complete those I still liked.

Yes, I used the very same fabric as the pattern sleeve, that’s how I roll sometimes.
This little olive green skirt is really nice on a cold day with thick tights.
Then I made a little present for my friend’s twins because I knit too!

Nothing much happened until February because… two weeks in Spain! Once back, I ventured into pattern testing and tried out @sinclairpattern’s first release, Clementine. Then I made @studiotkb Fallon and later J004 Kommattia Patterns’ great bomber jacket. It’s so inspiring to get involved with other makers.

I love to learn new things and as I’ve done so many of the ‘standard’ techniques I wanted to try something new. That something was underwear and while my first attempt at a bra didn’t come out too well, I did make some knickers and now making bras is on my Must Conquer list for 2018.

I made knickers, next year bras!

A dressmaking challenge had to be part of my immersion into the sewcialist community and I was delighted to participate in #sewtogetherforsummer a shirtdress challenge which yielded this great dress.

So many people, as well as me, loved this shirtdress

Ultimately I want to design and make my own patterns, this dress below is one of the first steps down that road.

So pleased with this dress that I drafted myself and the little matching jacket.

My next makes were done in a bit of a frenzy as I wanted to take them on my first big trip of the year to Albania. These were a pair of jeans, constructed from the remains of a favourite pair used as the pattern. A pair of dress trousers made from one of my designer patterns from my stash and a T-shirt cloned from a favourite RTW top. These all made into my holiday wardrobe.

In between trips, we decided to refurbish our study which is also my sewing space. We were doing this in fits and starts and it definitely held up the making as one I was busy helping G rebuild storage and laying floor and painting and decluttering. It’s almost finished and will soon feature on a blog. However, it meant that only a couple more items were finished in 2017.

This unusual over-shirt for a fabric review for @minervacrafts (big thanks to them for helping a skint crafter to make stuff) and this self-drafted maxi t-shirt dress and this sewing puzzle twist front dress with bell sleeves, also self-drafted which is one of my favourites this year.

My biggest sewing problem if you can call it that is that my brilliant partner is determined that we spend this time together fruitfully. He’s already retired from his job, but I’m technically too young to retire although I’m enjoying ‘practising’. When I was struggling at work we made the decision, to live now and not wait for my planned early retirement date. I still don’t know how to thank him for helping me make that decision. Anyway, the problem is that we have been indulging our joint first love which is travelling. For the third year in a row, we have spent about a third of the year away from home. We were always fortunate with time as we were teachers and therefore had a good deal of leave to travel but now we have taken it to another level being able to travel for months at a time rather than weeks. Its been fantastic and I feel a bit churlish that this year I have been ‘missing’ sewing when we are away. Regardless of those time constraints, I am delighted by how much I have managed to create in 2017. There are still a few WIPs hanging about and plenty of makes, challenges and collabs in the pipeline for 2018.

My post is titled how sewing saved me, and that is how it did and still is. I think, overall, I’ve had a brilliant life so far, but recent times have been a bit hard emotionally and physically. I’d lost myself a bit. I’ve always advised other people to write a CV when they are feeling down. This look back at 2017 is in some ways a version of that. The nagging feeling of not being good enough goes away when I see what I have achieved. In addition, the encouragement of such a positive, supporting community has meant that I feel so much different than I did at the beginning of last year.

I’ve been enjoying sharing my 2017 projects and reading about those of a lot of other sewists, how did your 2017 makes go and what do they mean to you?

Elaine x




About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

4 Responses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.