Half-year check on sewing goals

June is over, half of 2018 is over, and I am always up for some wordy reflections. Remember how six months ago, we were all super optimistic and excited about what this year would hold for us? Our sewing goals for the year, all the challenges we signed up for, the spending bans…?

If you may remember, I posted five resewlutions:

  1. V-Necks
  2. Linings
  3. a well-fitting bra
  4. Embellishments and Details
  5. Getting more involved in the sewing community

With the exception of 3, I’d say I’m making pretty good progress on these goals. I’ve made a couple v-necks, inserted a couple linings, focused on some pretty details with the embroidery on my Rumana coat, and I’ve been way way more involved with the sewing community! Bras? I’ve made a couple. Well-fitting? Okay, ugh. I’m like, working on it. Small bobbins don’t make it easy!

…and I also posted my Make Nine choices:

So… as of last week, I’ve managed to finish one of these. Maybe 1.5 if I count the lingerie I’ve been working on. But the one I’ve made so far is my Ginger jeans, so that’s a pretty big achievement! I’ve found that if I don’t explicitly put a Make Nine project on my monthly plans, then it just ends up out of sight, out of mind. For July, I’m working on the Maisa denim jacket.

and actually I have an unpublished post all about how pumped I was to take on every single sewing challenge that I could get my greedy paws on. Sew My Style, Project Sew It, sew a dress, sew a shirt, sew this pattern, sew that pattern, sew an outfit for a virtual party; I was ready to do everything!

Ehhh… In reality, I very quickly gave up on this idea. I have kept up with Sew My Style. My Sunny Dress (January) is still worn often; the shape and my fabric choice make it super versatile for all but the hottest weather. Obviously the Rumana coat (February) is packed away for now. The Kalle shirtdress (March) is disappointingly off, it’s a bit tight across the back, the length is just a bit too short, and I’m reminded of my not-so-great construction every time I wear it. The Marigold jumpsuit (April) has not yet been worn in public! It needs warm weather for sure, but I just don’t find myself reaching for it, even when it’s peak summer like it is now. I skipped May’s pattern to focus on other sewing goals. And June’s Suki Kimono is on my body nearly every morning and evening; I looooove it. For the rest of the year I’m pretty set on which months I’ll definitely join in with (July, October, November), and which ones I’ll skip (August, September, December).

I also joined the Facebook group for Project Sew It, which is a monthly challenge to sew one type of garment each month. So, January was a tee, February a sweater, etc. It’s an easy challenge, and there are monthly prizes, but my plans just never seem to line up with the theme, so I’ve mostly abandoned this… oops!

IMG_0095

(I did sew a tee in January though, it’s a mash-up of the Toaster Sweater and the Basic Instinct tee that I haven’t otherwise blogged about.)

All other sewing challenges…? Similar feelings. I’m just in love with my own sewing plans too much to change them!

…spending bans?

I didn’t make any specific fabric-buying bans. I considered committing to a pattern-buying ban, and I’ve mostly stuck to it anyway. If it wasn’t a Sew My Style pattern or something that I received as a gift, then I only bought two patterns so far this year.

In general, I’ve tried to be more mindful of purchases and try to avoid spontaneous purchases. If I’m on a fabric website or planning to visit a fabric shop, I always make a list ahead of time of not only what I need for specific projects, but also what I might like to find. Fantastic prints (that otherwise don’t fit my plans) still make their way into my stash, but having specific “wants” in mind helps me to stay focused on buying stuff that I’m more likely to wear.

And my style evolution? Lately I’ve been having some big thoughts on dresses. I am reaching this point, as I discover my personal style, where it has hit me that while dresses are so cute and fun to wear, I don’t reach for them first and they’re not entirely suited for my lifestyle. I bike nearly every day, I work in a casual office, I have to pick up kids and move around, and I live in a country where I’m likely to need warmer clothes for 3/4 of the year. If I want a wardrobe that I love and that makes me feel comfortable and stylish and confident, then I’ll need to focus on separates and layering pieces. Dresses aren’t entirely off the menu though, but I need to make sure that they’ll have a fuller skirt and could be worn over tights, over pants even, over t-shirts or turtlenecks, under sweaters, etc.

Phew! As we go into the second half of the year, I’m thinking more and more about how I can focus on my plans and how to make the most of my precious free time! I’m trying to blog more consistently and even (gasp!) start vlogging! (erm… stay tuned)

SO! How’s your sewing year going so far?

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thinking about: denim jackets

(Here’s the start of a new series where I publicly ruminate over a certain garment that I really want to make for my wardrobe.)

I’ve whined a lot about not having a solid, trans-seasonal jacket for my wardrobe, which is so useful for a place like Belgium where the weather can fluctuate wildly throughout the day, and where “between Winter-Spring” lasts longer than Spring itself.

So, I want a denim jacket. I already have the Maisa pattern from Named Clothing printed and prepped for way too long, patiently waiting with a stack of my husband’s old jeans. He’s threatening to take them back to use as work clothes, so I’m on a deadline now!

Here’s some inspiration I’m thinking about for my version.

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designer fabric shopping in Antwerp

Thanks to a darling co-worker who knows how much I love spending money on fabric, I learned that two designer fashion labels were hosting a sample sale in early May in Antwerp (Belgium, of course! About 45 minutes from where I live). It was specifically advertised that they were selling fabric (in addition to clothes, of course), which really piqued my interest. Some Googling led me to find out that this was something of a city-wide event for designer labels in Antwerp, called Belmodo Fashion Days.

(I’m not too fluent in fashion history, but Antwerp is quite a hub for designers, labels, and fashion houses; check out the Antwerp Six if you want to learn more!)

From what I can tell, it seems like it’s only one week per year, but the specific dates are announced as early as January/February, and then they have handy maps and lists of who’s participating closer to the event. (The site is in Dutch/French, but the map itself is in English.) The main bummer moment was realizing that Dries van Noten had their fabric sales a couple weeks prior to the main sample sales, and was only selling clothes at the time I went. I’ve already set a calendar notification for next April to not miss out!

I don’t work on Fridays, so I made a game plan to hopefully skip the weekend crowds and explore the city kid-free. I made a list of stores that mentioned selling fabric, checked out their websites to try to get an idea of what fabrics might be available, mapped them all out (Google Maps lets you make “my places” maps with custom pins on them) and decided which stores I wanted to visit based on location/priority. Then I added walking directions from the Centraal Station, downloaded it as an offline map, and I was ready.

I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be an overall good experience!

Continue reading “designer fabric shopping in Antwerp”

reflecting on me-made-may

This was my first time really participating in Me Made May and I had a lot of fun with it! The (nearly) daily documentation, mindfully encouraging myself to choose a handmade garment over a RTW one, and the reflection that came with it about my wardrobe, my style, and how I want to present myself to the world in the future, were all really enjoyable parts of this month-long event.

You may remember from my last post that I didn’t get terribly specific about a goal; I was giving myself permission to dip in and out of the challenge as I felt like it, and not be too demanding on myself. I didn’t think I had enough me-mades to make it through the month, or, more accurately, that I had enough me-mades that I wanted to wear.

It turns out that I was able to wear some sort of me-made garment (or undergarment) nearly every day, with some repeats.

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Me-in-progress-May

I, Kirstin, of Small Bobbins, do solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

(Wait, that’s not the right pledge, is it?)

Happy Me-Made-May 2018! This is a challenge invented by Zoe from ‘So Zo’, you can read more about this annual event on her blog or listen to her interview on Love to Sew Podcast.

MMMay is probably one of the “original” sewing challenges for the digital sewing community. Nowadays, there are so many challenges that it’s impossible to keep up! In fact, I’m even at a point where I’m (gasp!) challenged-out. So for my MMMay 2018 pledge, I’m going to focus on my massive pile of WIP/UFO’s (works-in-progress, un-finished objects) and follow a low-key pledge to wear me-mades when I can. I’ll try to document my daily outfits on my Instagram so that I have a record of what I’m actually reaching for, and maybe that will help me focus my plans once I’m open to starting new projects again.

works-in-progress

Yes, no new projects until my WIP-pile is done. Honestly, I have too many! At least 16 projects that are either fully cut out, partially cut out, or need some mending/altering before I’d feel comfortable wearing them. I don’t think I’d reasonably be able to get through all of these in May, but I’m sure going to do my best, and I’m banning myself from new projects (besides pattern testing!) until I’m through.

So what’s on the menu? (click through to go to the designers’ sites)

Yeah, so, omg.

I’m a big believer in checklist, so here’s how I’ll approach these projects:

  • Grab one at a time: To me, this feels like a crucial first step to tackling these projects. Focus on one at a time! Give it my full attention, complete it, and then move on.
  • Check where I’m at: did I cut out all pieces? What size? Did I make any pattern adjustments? Do I have all the notions/equipment? Matching thread?
    • If I’m missing any notions/thread, I’ll make thorough notes and put it aside until I can head to my local shops.
  • Read all of the instructions before getting started: if I have any qualms about the methods or the order of the steps, I can make notes before starting.
  • Sew the dang thing.

What about you, have you pledged to participate in MMMay this year? Do you have an overflowing pile of UFO’s that keeps you up at night…? No? Just me? Okay then…! Has your approach for organizing and tackling your sewing projects changed since you started sewing? And if so, why?