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Having a knack for creative hobbies can lead to a serious passion of collecting new hobbies and skills (and sometimes ditching them shortly after). I’m certainly guilty of hobby hoarding. During my blogging break this winter I had the urge to try something new. I’ve always adored Amigurumi figures and as they look incredibly complicated to make I never thought I had the time to learn how to make them myself.

One evening I had sat down with an old crochet hook and some leftover yarn and watched a couple of YouTube videos on making Amigurumi bunnies. A few weeks later I’d made three bunnies for my nieces and nephew and was so in love with this new hobby that I treated myself to some more supplies. See, with collecting hobbies there always comes a massive collection of supplies with it and since I will run out of space sooner rather than later, I try to be more selective about what I really need to buy. I loved this technique so much that I knew I wanted to spend more time making crochet animals and found the amazing Yan online, an Amigurumi pattern designer on Instagram. Luckily, she’s got some books out already which had really great reviews.

I bought the pattern book “ANIMAL FRIENDS OF PICA PAU” as well as a basic set of crochet hooks and was addicted from the first second.  I’ve made almost half of all the patterns in the book and the enthusiasm doesn’t seem to run out!

What I love most about the book  – apart from the amazingly cute patterns – is that it doesn’t leave any gaps. As an absolute beginner I was able to recreate the animals as shown in the photos just following the step-by-step patterns with the help of a crochet 101 guide also included in the pattern book. The instructions are really well photographed so that even the more complicated bit and bobs weren’t that hard to wrap my head around.

I was a bit worried about what wool to use, but learned that I doesn’t need to be the exact same wool as used in the book. You could use pretty much any wool you’d like as long as you used the same one in different colours for one project. The animals turn out bigger or smaller depending on the yarn and hooks you pick. Using a similar yarn and hook size as recommended, my animals measured pretty much the same size as the ones in the book. I got hooked on (bad pun intended) a really nice cotton yarn from Schachenmayr, called “Catania”, which is perfect for Amigurumi as it is silky smooth and slightly shiny. On German Amazon it is about 2,50€ per ball, quite a reasonable price for the quality you get. I used approximately 1-2 balls of yarn (main colour) for the animals plus small amounts of all the other colours.  They have a really nice range of nice brown, cinnamon and taupe tones. They also have really lovely pastel and vintage looking colours that I prefer to bright and glaring reds, yellows etc.
Here in Germany they sell Schachenmayr Catania in pretty much any wool and sewing shop I found out, so this is sort of my go-to brand now. The only thing that annoyed me a bit is that they apparently release limited series of “seasonal” colour ranges, which they stop selling online after a while. Naturally, I ran out of one of these mid-project and had troubles finding it online. I bought some of off Ebay, which was alright but annoying nonetheless.

So all supplies considered, the cost of making an animal is somewhere between 5-10€. For the stuffing I recycled some Ikea pillow stuffing, which works perfectly and is much cheaper than the plush toy stuffing they offer in stores.

So, in case you’ve been itching to learn how to make Amigurumi yourself, I can only encourage you to try! It’s fairly easy and soooo relaxing! Another plus: lots of cute presents for you friends and family!

The ones in the pictures I’ve given all away except for the wolf which I cannot part with. I’ve made a couple more that I didn’t photograph which also found happy new owners already.  They bring so much joy, it’s incredible!

Have you meddled with new hobbies lately? Anything you’ve fallen in love with and would like to recommend?

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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Oh, hi! It’s been a while!

I’m back from yet another random blogging break. I wanted to start right back with a fun little project post, but now that I think about it, I’d rather talk a bit about shifting down a gear and putting self-care first. It’s such an important topic and it shouldn’t be brushed over by just going on posting the next cute outfit.

I have to disappoint you, there’s no big reveal or good excuses. I just took a while off blogging and social media because other areas in my life were a bit busier than usual.

Did you read my post a while back, about why we should stop making our hobbies stressful?

Well, I just basically followed my own advice! Since I started a further training course last year, the work bit of my work-life balance has a bit more weight to it. I have to study or go to seminars on weekends and have a bit more on my to-do list at work. Also there are times when my daytime job as a psychologist is more stressful and demanding than usual. This is why I took the “worky” bit out of my hobbies for a while. For me this sometimes also means blogging. As much as I love it, it can sometimes feel a little bit like work. To be honest, it IS work in the way that blogging for me is also a side business that needs to be run. It’s a very small business, but a business nonetheless. Emails, calls, project planning, taxes and all that. Editing pictures, writing content and managing social media is more or less the “fun part” of the business.

It’s hugely important to have the courage to prioritise self-care when needed. It does not mean being a selfish person, but looking after oneself, when your body and mind tell you to.

I’m a perfectionist and I take everything – including my hobbies – quite seriously. Feeling like I cannot live up to my own standards stresses me out endlessly and can be a source of anxiety. I love my blog and I’m fascinated that there are, oh, so many lovely people out there that have been following this little blog’s adventure for ages and still are enjoying content that I create. Taking a break sounds easy enough, but I noticed how much courage it still costs me to make a conscious decision that IT IS OK. This is the part you should always keep in mind: It is OK to self-care. 

The frozen blog had been a nagging thought in the back of my head before I consciously chose self-care before an overly organised hobby. It just felt so disappointing that I couldn’t make the time or have the energy to blog at the time. At first I thought I would disappoint blog readers if I just stayed quiet like that. I now know that it was rather my own feeling of disappointment over my lacking standards.

It’s hugely important to have the courage to prioritise self-care when needed. It does not mean being a selfish person, but looking after oneself, when your body and mind tell you to. Being anxious that others  might think you’re selfish makes it sometimes really hard to stand up for your own mental (and also physical) health.  When you actually find the courage to do so, the feedback in most cases is one of appreciation and understanding.

Now that I feel like I really want to – not should – share the next project, it’s a good time to ease back into blogging! During my offline-time I explored some other hobbies (like book-binding, knitting and crochet) and also delved into projects that I usually wouldn’t consider “bloggable”. (That sounds awful, right?) Mostly projects for kids or little personal gifts that I do not see fit to put up on the blog. I had a lovely but quiet creative time. I would even say it was therapeutic in a way, that I could use my hobbies again as counterbalance to work-related stress and immerse myself in funny little crochet projects and sewing for my friends’ babies.

Although I’m now swamped with emails of people almost aggressively offering guest posts, I feel like this break was more than worth it. Instead of adding to the stress, I could explore my hobbies as something incredibly refreshing and therapeutic. It helped to clear my mind and busy my hands on very stressful days.

Quiet sewing time is a source of calm and peace. Take it when needed.

The same applies to self-care in general. Just as you rest when you are physically exhausted, you need to allow yourself a mental-health time to balance things out again. I’ve been making the conscious decision to cancel an engagement in favour of self-care more often over the past year. I now also let other people know that I’m cancelling not because of time issues or scheduling conflicts, but because I feel stressed or drained that day and need to look after myself. So far, not a single person could not understand this. In most cases I even got very endorsing and supportive reactions. It showed me once again being anxious about other people’s opinions and reactions is wasted time.

Have you made similar experiences? Do you sometimes struggle with self-care or stressing out about even your own hobbies?

Please chime in, if you feel like it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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leafs as golden as the buttons on my dress

Every year I’m sad at the end of summer for exactly five seconds until I remember how much I love autumn. I find beauty in every season and autumn has its very own special appeal. Hot chocolate and cosy blankets, long walks with muddy dogs and wellies, the smell of burning wood fire and red wine and books. Oh, and long dresses and boots. Why complain about the weather then?

Remember how I gushed over the Doris Dress in one of my recent posts? The only dress that got me more comments and compliments this summer was this gorgeous floral Florence number. And I am so glad how well this lady transitioned into the cooler season. Just add boots and denim jacket and you’re good to go.

pattern: The Florence Dress (Sew Over It), Version 1 (size 10)
fabric: lightweight cotton viscose from a Swedish sewing shop in Ljungby
amount: ~2,75 m
cost: less than 15€ (it was price per kg, buttons from my vintage stash)
duration: ~4 hr

I’m having a massive Sew Over It sewing spree this year and Florence is one of their more recent patterns. From its release on I had my eyes on this pattern and couldn’t wait to find the right fabric. I found this lovely viscose maxi flower print during our holiday in Sweden and it was perfect for this pattern. The shop sold pre-cut fabrics (price per kg) and I had a little less than needed for the Florence. As I’m super stubborn I went ahead anyway and just shortened the skirt pattern to fit my fabric. I love the midi length as it keeps the elegance but make for a much more casual, work-appropriate style.

Apart from changing the length, I sewed the pattern straight from the envelope without further adjustments. I got a pretty decent fit. (The shaping at the waist happens automatically due to the elastic sewn into the waist seam.) There appears to be some excess on the shoulders towards the neck, especially at the front, but since I wear the dress with the top unbuttoned it’s pretty much unnoticeable (to the untrained eye!) Now you go ahead and spot it!

I will certainly try and fix this when I make this dress again, which I most definitely will do!

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Reducing waste with ecoconscious DIYs

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this little Sunday morning project! I’ve been trying to incorporate more and more Zero Waste strategies in our daily routine and be more conscious about waste reduction in my shopping decisions. Talking to my friend the other day, I told her that I’d heard about washable cotton pads and whether that wasn’t a bit too out-there to try. She laughed and said she just bought some on Amazon the other day and loved them. I loved the simplicity of the idea but was shocked how much money a bunch of terrycloth cotton pads cost online.

This is why I made my own recycling an old white towel. This was so simple and easy, it’s absolutely mind-blowing. I never thought of this before seeing the ready-made ones in shops. And you know what? You can make your own, too! Here’s how simple it is:

Materials: old towel or wash cloth, organza bag, scissors, overlocker & thread (or zigzag stitch)
Duration: 5 Minutes
Costs: Zero
Benefits: no waste, no more costs, recycling old materials

Instructions

As you can see, you need just very few materials for this project. By the way, if you do not have an overlocker, you can also use a simple zigzag stitch on your machine to keep the fabric from fraying. It’s a bit slower, but works just as well.

First, I cut off the woven edges of my towel. This is really optional. If you’re feeling a bit lazy and don’t mind looks too much, you can keep them and save yourself some overlocking time of those edges. The fastest way to do the overlocking is by cutting long strips of your towel and overlock these before cutting them into smaller rectangles. Finish all four sides and you’re done! It’s that easy.

You will need a little organza or cotton bag to put the used pads in. Just let them sit in the bag and throw it in with your next wash. The bag also keeps the pads together in the washing machine. I found a cute wooden tray (IKEA) to put my new cotton pads in and it looks really pretty in the bathroom now! You could also just use a little box or porcelain plate to keep them together and keep them clean. Just as your towels, you can wash these with up to 95°C. If you use them dry on your clean skin, you can also use them to exfoliate.

This was just a whole 35€ cheaper than my friend’s alternative from Amazon and she got just 7 pads in total. I made about 50 and will give some away as my mum and sister are also keen to try this. Nice, right?

What do you think? Do you feel like this could be something you might want to try? Do you have other suggestions for zero waste DIYs? Please let me know!

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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Goodbye Summer

Summer now has finally ended this last week here in the south of Germany after a gloriously hot September and October. I’m quite behind in posting my summer and early autumn makes so you’ll have to endure some off-season posts this year! I want to introduce you to my absolute favourite garment of this whole summer. I’ve worn this dress to death. It’s seen so many washing cycles that I’m very much surprised it’s still holding up really well.

So, who are we talking about? Doris!

She’s the perfect summer party companion, gets you lots of compliments on family get-togethers, squeezes into your vacation suitcases in no time and is your best friend on the hottest of hot summer days. She even did well as a wedding guest, but she doesn’t know where to stop with the free drinks, so beware. She could pull herself together when needed at work and depending on her mood didn’t even need a press before being worn. She does that nice trick with the back ties when you’ve eaten more than you probably should have and gets all her Marilyn vibes in the faintest breezes. To sum it up, Doris is your perfect wing-woman.

pattern: The Doris Dress (Sew Over It), Version 1 (size 10 graded to 12 below hips)
fabric: lightweight cotton viscose from a local sewing shop
amount: 2,45 m (end of roll, I just paid for 2 metres, 18€/m), directional print
cost: 36€ (+ zip from my stash & handmade self-covered buttons)
duration: ~5 hr

Pattern & Fabric:  Oh, and you can get her – guess what – as a PDF or printed pattern at Sew Over It. (Disclaimer: I’m REALLY not being paid by them I just have a massive style crush on their patterns!) This pattern has been sitting in my stash for quite a while. It didn’t really inspire me until I saw some made-up version of it and Lisa Comfort showing it on her YouTube channel. I noticed that perfect silhouette and had the perfect fabric for it: a gorgeous blush-pink stag print viscose my husband got me for our wedding anniversary. I did a crazy thing where I just cut into the very expensive fabric without having sewn this pattern before and I was super lucky that it fit straight out of the envelope. I do not have a lot of fitting issues with Sew Over It patterns, which is one of the reasons I’m drawn to them. I usually make them without trying a muslin or cheaper fabric first. Doris is a little fabric eater, especially if you use a directional print as I did. I used the whole 2,45 metres I had and couldn’t have cut it out with less fabric. (I made a second version with just a bit over 2 metres of fabric – non-directional – but it’s a lot easier if you have a little extra fabric to handle.) I’ve attached a picture below for you to see the layout for my size (UK 10 at the top graded to a 12 from hips down). It took quite a while until I had this layout figured out. I don’t often have more than 2 metres of fabric length in my stash, so I was super lucky that the lady cut me some extra as it was end of roll fabric.

The construction part was fairly easy. The most time-consuming bit is certainly overlocking and sewing together the seven skirt panels and inserting an invisible side zip. Apart from this, the dress came together very quickly. I chose a faux button-up front, which means I did not sew real button holes and just put on the self-covered buttons stitching through all layers. The dress isn’t fully lined and comes with a very uncomplicated facing instead, which is much more convenient for hot summer days. Fitting is not much of an issue, as the skirt is super wide and the top is shaped by tying a bow in the back. It might certainly be a challenging project for beginners but just a half-a-day project for the intermediate sewer.

My favourite place I wore this dress in – a very close second place goes to my mum and dad’s legendary summer party is all I say – was at the childhood home of Astrid Lindgren in Vimmerby, Sweden. We had such a blast on our summer vacation in Sweden and visiting this amazing place where one of my absolute favourite authors grew up was such an amazing, inspiring experience. Aslan also did pretty well posing for pictures! 

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Hello there! Today I want to share a really fun & quick project to personalise or update your t-shirts! This is really easy to do and the perfect project if you feel like a creative project but don’t have a lot of time on your hands. It only took me a couple of minutes plus the time it needs to dry. I love those little projects that you can squeeze in after work.

The lovely folks over at Stencil Revolution offered to send some stencils for me to try. What I love about their company is that it’s a small, family-owned operation that developed out of what originally was a street art forum. I love supporting upcoming creative businesses and I really had a great experience with them. They offer a large variety of designs and sizes (for decorating walls etc), I stuck to smaller sizes as they seemed a better fit for decorating shirts, fabrics and tote bags.

These stencils are not very expensive but are very long lasting. It’s a hard plastic sheet that you can wipe and wash and reuse many times. I had specific project ideas in mind when ordering the three larger stencils. But I picked the arrow stencils knowing this would be a motif I will probably use over and over again! Obviously, you can use these for walls, furniture, bags etc., too. I just love a t-shirt refashion and I buy plain white & black t-shirts every once in a while for exactly these kind of projects.

So, how does it work?

First of all, here’s what you need:

– stencil templates 
– fabric paint (I used black and light blue/turquoise)
– small dry sponge
– old plate or plastic container to pour the paint in
– masking tape
– a piece of cardboard (big enough to place under the area you are using colour on)
– iron & iron board

  1. Prepare the shirt/fabric and template.
    If necessary, you might want to iron the shirt to make sure there are no creases. Clean the template if you used it before, to make sure it’s dry and there no residue colour. Use some masking tape to tape the template into place. It’s very important that it doesn’t move once you start with the colour.
    If using this on a shirt, place a piece of cardboard between both fabric layers. Otherwise, the colour might come through and leave stains on the back. A hard, smooth surface also makes it easier to get a neat result.
  2. Pour fabric paint onto your dish and dab your dry sponge in it. Dab it a couple times more onto the plate to have some of the paint come off. Using too much paint might need to colour bleeding. If you want to get crisp edges, make sure you use less paint and apply it in several layers.
  3. Dab the paint onto the fabric. Try not to use stroking motions as this might lead to blotches and colour bleeding as it gets under the template. This will also give the paint more of a sprayed “graffiti” look.
    If you want an ombre effect as I did with my project, start with the lighter colour. I used the light blue for the first layer, let it dry a bit and then dabbed over it with black again. For the colours to blend softly you really want to use as little paint on the sponge as possible. Work in layers until you get the opacity that you like.
  4. Let it dry. I usually remove the template afterwards. If you remove it while the paint is still wet it might smudge and blur.
  5. Once it’s dry remove the template and iron your fabric from the wrong side to set the colour.
    That’s it, you’re done!

I’m planning more projects with these stencils. They would also make a great project to do with kids. That Bill Murray will go on a tote bag for sure!

I’m looking for some nice gold or rose gold textile paint. Do you have any recommendations?

xx

Charlie

Please note: As always, all opinions are my own. All my product reviews are completely honest. I was gifted this product, but not asked to review it or given compensation for doing it.

Happy crafting!

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Hello there. I hope you’re not getting tired of me sharing Sew Over It makes 100% of the time. I’ve been wondering myself what draws me to these patterns (after just buying and cutting out a bunch of new ones…) and I think it’s the simplicity of the construction, the versatility and having found that for most of their patterns I do not need to make any adjustments. And that’s just such a huge time saver! I rarely have these moments anymore where I feel like picking a super complicated Burda masterpiece that I most likely will only wear once or twice. I crave patterns that I can make in a day over the weekend and can wear to work on Monday.

The Juliette Blouse took me a bit more than a day, as I needed to wait until the sewing shop opened on Monday to find matching buttons! I actually found the exact same colour, a peachy pastel pink, which was a little weird but I carried those two buttons home as if I found the most precious treasure, I can tell you.

This was the first time making this pattern and I really like it. I had no adjustments to make, as it’s quite loose-fitting. The fabric is a peachskin polyester with a little bit of weight to it, which works really nicely with the drape on the front detail. I love those little sleeve cuffs, they make the blouse look so elegant. We had a super hot summer, so I haven’t worn it often yet. I already see myself wearing this to death in autumn.

The Mia Jeans does not need an introduction, I guess. I stopped counting how many Mias I’ve made and plan to make. It might soon overtake my Ultimate Pencil Skirt collection in numbers. I found this really cool stretch cotton in our local sewing shop. I wasn’t too sure about the print when I saw it on the roll, but I went for it and I really love it now. Such a cool trouser fabric! I got a lot of compliments wearing this. And it’s also really comfy to wear because of the stretch.

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When I’m not sitting behind the sewing machine, I work full-time as a psychologist. This is why I every once in a while share a mental health-related post on this blog. Please grab a coffee and join the conversation!

***

This isn’t a scientific research article. As there is very little research to review on this topic, information given in this post is largely based on my work experience and training as a mental health professional. 

For a long time I have been wanting to write about making your own clothes and its relationship to body image. While sewing encompasses our skills, tools and materials, our bodies are the foundation when it comes to making and wearing garments. I myself feel like I developed a healthier body image of myself since starting to sew my own clothes. There are many other sewing bloggers who have written about how they feel sewing affected their perception of themselves. (I’ve put together a list of blog posts I could find at the end of the article.)

Why is that? And how can sewing help to see ourselves in a more positive light?  First, let’s have a look at the term “body image” to know what exactly we’re talking about.

Body image is the mental representation you create of yourself and the way you look. It consists of the mental image you have of your own physical body, meaning your size, shape and appearance, as well as your personal attitude toward that physical self. Your attitude is made up of your thoughts and feelings and also beliefs about your body. All this together is your “body image”. And, this mental image of your body does not necessarily represent reality.  It is also not super stable and can change as it is subject to all kinds of distortion from moods, perceptions, feelings as well as a number of social factors.

Healthy body image has to do with self-acceptance and self-compassion. It means you are comfortable with the body you have, even when you do not think that you are perfect. It is about accepting flaws, embracing the body that is given to you and caring well for it.

When someone has a negative or unhealthy body image they find it very hard to accept and think positive about the way they look. They might be very preoccupied with perceived flaws. They might experience discomfort, disgust and shame, as they will also believe that others think about them in the same way. Severe dissatisfaction may result in a constant desire to change their body, even when such changes are not achievable. Negative body image may contribute to low self-esteem, unhealthy eating behaviour and therefore might affect your well-being. In severe cases unhealthy body image might cause severe distress,  contribute to depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, self harm etc. In those cases the help of mental health professionals is needed as it seriously affects functioning and quality of life.

Healthy body image is not synonymous with healthy body weight. It this case we’re  differentiating between physical and mental health (although these two are very much connected). Even if you’re over- or underweight, it is important that you find ways to accept yourself the way you are, whether there is a need to get to a healthier body weight or not. A diet or lifestyle change will be more successful and long lasting if you do it out of self-love and self-care instead of disgust and self-hate.

The term “body positivity” appears to be now used interchangeably with the term body image, whereas body positivity sounds “trendier” and appears less connected to mental health problems such as eating disorders and body image disorders, self harming etc. I am a bit cautious using both terms as synonyms, as body image is a very complex term consisting of many factors and variables, whereas body positivity mainly focusses on loving yourself unconditionally. Your body image will always contain negative perceptions, too, as it is normal to be critical of yourself. The extreme promotion of body positivity seems to lead to a converse trend of not allowing body negativity. People that are “objectively” perceived as beautiful (if there even is a chance that we can speak of being objectively beautiful…) are often openly and very harshly reprimanded on social media for “attention seeking behaviour” when they open up about not liking themselves. But this isn’t my topic today (I’ll save it for some other time, though.)

Many of skills we use when sewing a garment for ourselves are similar to certain therapeutic techniques used for building positive body image.

In my profession as a psychologist, I used to mainly work with eating disorder patients for a while, a group suffering from one of the more severe forms of body image disturbance. There are various methods and techniques to try and help someone change their perception of themselves. I’ve noticed that many of these techniques that focus on observation, non-judgment, neutrality, acceptance and self-compassion are  similar to certain skills we use when sewing a garment for ourselves.

I found this very exciting, as I’ve shared the opinion that sewing changes body image in a healthy way, but there is pretty much no research on this topic so it is hard to pinpoint the causalities and correlations.

When sewing, instead of rejecting your body, you are working with it.

It’s hard to reject your body when you sew. As it is our foundation, we have to work with it. Working with instead of rejecting it means we are a big step closer to embracing our bodies and what we look like. To make a garment fit your body, you have to go beyond the “I don’t like the way it looks on me” or “my body doesn’t fit the pattern”. You have to take a step back and look at yourself from a more objective angle. You’re looking at general forms and thinking in shapes instead. You’re on a very different level of judgement. Instead of judging the way you look and whether or not you like the overall image of yourself, you’ll be judging whether one shape matches the other shape and if not, where and what you have to mathematically tweak in order to make it fit. This is a healthy way of observing yourself in a more neutral, constructive way and taking a step back from judging yourself in unhelpful ways.

We tend to compare ourselves to others all the time. This is reinforced through social media. The sewing community is no exception, but it’s certainly a „slightly healthier crowd“ to compare yourself with. It’s about achievable goals, constructive skills and support. You might notice that almost no one has a perfect body. Everyone has to make adjustments. It’s a very rare thing to fit into the ‘average size’. Reading about other people’s experience when sewing a certain pattern and learning about their struggles with fit, can help to develop some self-compassion toward your own body shape.

There has been research on the link between body image and self-esteem and the link between self-esteem and creativity. Body image and self-esteem are different concepts, as self-esteem focuses more on personal strengths and self-worth which can be valued on more factors than just your physical appearance. According to research, body image and self-esteem are linked, but the direction of the relationship is not clear. They affect each other in many ways. Making your own clothes certainly influences the way you gauge your self-worth. Making and wearing handmade clothes might lead to higher feelings of self-efficacy as well as self-sufficiency which are quite empowering. This, in turn, might influence, but it doesn’t necessarily need to lead to, a better body image. There is good cause to believe that having a number of different things that you value about yourself leads to a more stable and solid perception of yourself and your self-worth.

Research definitely supports the hypothesis that creativity and self-esteem are directly linked (even stronger for females than for males). Our creative skills might also help us to deal with body dissatisfaction in other ways. For example, let’s look at fluctuating weight and sewing.

If the clothes don’t fit you, put your energy into changing the clothes, not your body.

Obviously, when we sew garments, we have to measure ourselves regularly. One inch more or less makes a difference. Changes in weight and shape are much more noticeable. But there are also many more options of dealing with those changes. We sewers have a very empowering set of tools!
Sewing blogger Tasha says “When I’m standing in front of a dressing room mirror and no pair of pants I try on looks good or feels right, I think that encourages me to feel like I need to change, like my body is not right” But, with making your own clothes, you have the tool to change the garment, not your body. Your body is fine as it is – the clothes do not fit! And that is changeable. You know how to do that: you can cut out a size bigger or smaller, pick more flattering shapes and fabrics, let out or take in some seam allowance, etc. You have a set of skills to make body changes count less and make self-efficacy count more.

Sewing clothes instead of going shopping saves us from exploitative marketing strategies that feed on women’s body dissatisfaction, self-consciousness and low self-esteem.

Being able to make your own clothes also saves you some really frustrating shopping trips. Clothes sizes play a major role in pigeonholing ourselves into “good or desirable” sizes and undesirable sizes. What makes this even more frustrating is the fact, that there is no standard for sizing when it comes to women’s clothes. Unlike men’s clothing, there are no direct measurements, but categories such as a “size 6/32”, a “size 12/38” etc. Different countries, and even different brands, use different sizing for those categories. Unfortunately, consumer culture shows an unhealthy trend of making those categorical sizes smaller over time. That means a woman with a size 12 might be a size 14 after a while, without gaining a single pound. As clothes and beauty ideals are very much connected, so are clothes and body image. Women tend to see clothing size in direct relation to their body size. The size she is wearing might very much affect how beautiful a woman feels. To make this even more confusing, there are marketing tactics such as “vanity sizing”, scaling down clothing sizes, so that consumers suddenly fit in smaller sizes. This strategy feeds on women’s body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem – counting on women to pay more for a smaller size.

By the way, there is also no consistent sizing when it comes to different sewing pattern brands. But size becomes less important and “just a number” once you start seeing through this system. We are also able to cut between sizes, merge sizes or alter patterns altogether. I mainly use sizing as a rough guide to cut out a pattern. I often cut out one size larger and take in the seam allowance where necessary. So, when making garments, we do not sew a Size 10 or a Size 36, we sew a “my size”. Decreasing the overemphasis on size and numerical identities boosts confidence and satisfaction with self. Furthermore, this helps to focus more on individual style and personal traits as key components of beauty. So let’s create some garments at home and save us some frustrating shopping trips!

There are various ways in which making handmade clothes can help with a healthier body image. Sewing might not necessarily lead to 100% self acceptance and uncompromised body positivity, but it might help to develop a more holistic, stable mental image of yourself and your body, that is less prone to quick fluctuations.

After all this talk about positive body image … don’t forget: It’s ok to feel body negative, too. It’s hard when we look in the mirror constantly and don’t like what we see, it’s hard when your handmade clothes suddenly don’t fit anymore, it’s hard to run around with a measuring tape all day. It’s hard if you feel like a pattern you love looks better on everyone else. It’s hard to have to..

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A Winning Team

Hello & meet my new two favourite pieces in my wardrobe! Can you tell how much I love this outfit from the photos? I just love the combination of textures, colours and silhouettes. Let’s have a look at those fantastic team members, shall we?

pattern: Carme Blouse by Pauline Alice Patterns
fabric: cotton lawn from local shop
amount: 1,5 m
other materials: 10 buttons, interfacing optional
cost:
Zero as fabric and buttons both were gifted to me. (+8€ for the pattern)
duration: It took me almost two full days.

First, there’s the versatile, but high-maintenance Carme Blouse. I’ve had this pattern in my stash for ages and knew by the look of it that this wouldn’t be a quick and easy make. It a PDF/paper pattern by Pauline Alice Patterns, who have a small but growing gorgeous range of patterns in their shop.

After so many years of sewing my own clothes you should think I could more or less tackle any technique, right? Well, say hello to pin tucks. Let’s just say there’s still oh-so many things to learn. Man, these pin tucks were some real suckers, especially constructing them with such a lightweight fabric. Luckily the print is crazy enough to hide the uneven pleats! Otherwise you could see that I struggled on the left front yoke and had it figured out reaching the far right side of the yoke. My tip: instead of following the pattern markings for the pin tucks, measure them out one by one as you go. This way you’ll get evenly spaced pleats. In the beginning I tried to follow the pattern markings – but if you’re off by just a millimetre the inaccuracy becomes very noticeable after a couple of pleats and it’s increasingly difficult to correct.

I used this luscious cotton lawn, which was a gift from the Mr for your wedding anniversary. He bought it at a local fabric shop, so I can’t give you any more info than that it’s fa-bu-lous. It might be a bit too noisy for such details as pin tucks, but it was an experiment and I love how it turns out. Together with some simple skinny jeans it’s not too crazy, right?

The pattern comes with really cool sleeve tucks and a button-down front, which make the blouse quite versatile. I like to wear the top unbuttoned and sleeves rolled up. It looks a lot more casual and the white back of the fabric gives a nice contrast. The cute buttons were a gift from my sister which we bought on a trip to Korea.

***

Let’s check out team member number two!

pattern: Mia Jeans by Sew Over It (Capsule Wardrobe ebook, £20)
fabric: stretch denim from Alfatex.de (12,90€/m)
amount: 1,5 m
other materials: 12,5 cm long zip, one jeans button
cost: ~ 20€ (the ebook was courtesy of Sew Over It)
duration: ~ 3 hours

It’s the very low-maintenance Mia Jeans! It’s my fourth pair of Mia Jeans, a pattern by Sew Over It. It’s made from a stretch denim fabric and the only main alteration I did (and which I do with all my Mias) is that I lengthened them to full-length instead of ankle-length.

The top-stitching at the waistband got a bit out of hand. There are days when I love me some top-stitching and this was one of them. I think it looks really nice and it also gives a bit more structure to the waistband. The best part about making jeans is that I get to try new decorative stitches on the pockets every time. My sewing machine has loads of different ones which I sadly never really need or use, so I make en extra effort of putting them on all the pairs of jeans I make.

I used blush pink thread for the top-stitching and overlocked seams. You can’t really see it in the pictures, but it looks really nice up close.

The easy fitting and quick construction is what I love about the Mia Jeans. As the cut is quite simple, the fitting options are limited. I always use stretch fabrics and try to really stabilise the waistband so it doesn’t start gaping after a couple of wears. As it’s a quite high-waisted pair of  jeans it’s flattering as long as you haven’t had a big lunch. But I don’t mind, life’s too short to suck in your tummy!

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Hello there! Today we’re talking pattern standoffs!

Do you have sewing cravings? Sometimes I want to sew just for fun, some days I really want to make something that I urgently need in my wardrobe and, well, sometimes I want to take up a masterpiece project. Most of the time the particular craving depends a lot on the time I have on my hands.

Time is actually quite an important factor when choosing a pattern for your next project. There are a hundred ways to sew a skirt. I can be done in half an hour or it might take a couple of days. That’s completely up to you and the pattern you pick.

I thought it would be fun having a look at some unlikely couples. I’ll share two pattern options for sewing projects – one that can be done in an evening and one that will keep you busy for a weekend. Shall we have a look?

Jeans: Mia vs. Ginger

Speedy

Are you looking for the perfect jeans project? If you need a new pair of jeans by tomorrow – Mia to the rescue! The Mia Jeans pattern by Sew Over It (included in the ebook My Capsule Wardrobe) is the perfect ‘very quick & perfect fit’ pattern for you. I have made 4 pairs so far and they all turned out amazing. The pattern comes together really quick, the only two trickier bits being the front fly and the patch pockets in the back. Fitting is made very easy with a generous seam allowance that’s included in the pattern. I really recommend checking out Sew Over It’s Youtube channel for the video on constructing the front fly.

My tip: choose a stretch denim fabric to make fitting even easier!

Slow & Steady:

You finally want to tackle that masterpiece jeans project of yours that’s been on your list for ages? The Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns is a very well designed five-pockets-jeans pattern with a higher back rise, belt loops, rivets and all! The pattern is incredibly popular and known for a flattering fit and a professional look. You’ll need more supplies compared to Mia, but this is a project of love and a masterpiece you will be proud of! In Germany we say it’s for those with “patience and spittle”.

My tip: Make sure you have all the supplies ready by the time your sewing weekend starts, so you can work without frustrating shopping runs. Take your time and enjoy the ride!

Blouses: Silk Cami  vs. Carme Blouse

There are just soo many great blouse patterns, but these two are my current favourites.

Speedy:

The Silk Cami (Sew Over It) is such a satisfying quick sew. I can’t recommend it enough. It comes together very quick: no fastenings, bias binding or darts! It’s a basic French seamed sleeveless cami top finished at the neckline with a facing. You’ll need very little fabric and very little time! I love to use this pattern for hacks, such as this dress. It probably doesn’t even count as a blouse, as there are no sleeves or anything involved. But this is such an elegant little garment, it is more than just a top.

My tip: Spend some money on a high quality polyester, cotton lawn or silk fabric. You won’t need much fabric, so you can go for quality over quantity.

Slow & Steady:

If you want to take your time and get into more technical handiwork, the Carme Blouse by Pauline Alice Patterns is a great project. It’s a sophisticated-looking, but versatile blouse. It offers a couple of challenges such as pin tucks, a small mao collar, a front yoke, a button placket and sleeve tabs. The instructions are very easy to follow and you’ll also find sewalong videos for this project on Youtube.

My tip: Instead of just following the pattern markings for the pin tucks, take your time and measure – press – sew one by one. I found that measuring the intervals gives a much neater outcome.

Coats: Burdastyle Wool Coat vs. Ellsworth Coat

Speedy:

The Burdastyle pattern 09/2015 #117A is such a rewarding little project. Not much effort but making a big impact. View B is belted and slightly shorter than View A. The pattern is pretty brilliant as long as you use the right fabric. They’re asking for double-sided wool because it comes without lining. Therefore, it’s a really quick, simple sew. No interfacing, no lining, no bindings. It’s pretty much just three pattern pieces: front, back and back sleeve (plus pockets). The sleeves are two pieces. The front one is cut as a kimono sleeve and part of the front bodice pattern. I got many compliments on this coat and people can’t believe I made it myself. You can check out my version here. No-sweat coat making with this little number!

My tip: Find a show-stopper fabric in a bold colour. Make sure your fabric is double-sided!

Slow & Steady:

The Ellsworth Coat by Christine Haynes is a fully lined classic 1960’s-inspired double breasted overcoat. You can go topstitching galore on this one! There’s a collar, lots of buttons and buttonholes, pockets, lining… basically everything you want and more when your sewing mojo is top-notch and you have the whole weekend in front of you. Add a season of Game of Thrones or Homeland to the mix and you’re good to go!

My Tip: If you’re planning on using a patterned fabric, buy a little extra and take your time before you cut to get the pattern matching right.

Skirts: Ultimate Pencil Skirt vs. Hepburn Skirt

Skirts are generally easygoing and quick projects. It depends on pleating, button plackets, zips or pockets how much time you’ll need.

Speedy:

The Ultimate Pencil Skirt by Sew Over It is one of my all-time favourite patterns. It’s very elegant but simple, works also as a mini skirt and can be made in woven or knitted fabrics (I tested this!). The trickiest part of this skirt is at most the concealed side zip. I made a version with a exposed front zip which also worked brilliantly. I’ve made many versions and hacks of this skirt, it’s the perfect base once you got the fit right. I made a faux-wrap hack with belt-and-all. I even based the design of my wedding dress on this pattern! It’s so very versatile, it’s definitely worth buying.

My Tip: Find a fabric with a little stretch and focus on getting a perfect fit. It’s a great base for many future skirt projects.

Slow & Steady:

My very own Hepburn Skirt PDF pattern is another great option for a high-waisted pencil skirt. The vertical and horizontal seam lines are perfect for colour-blocking and give you some options for experimenting with style lines and colours. Cutting, sewing, pressing and finishing seams takes a little bit longer, although the skirt is fairly easy to sew. It’s certainly a project for a confident beginner to tackle.

My Tip: Depending on the type of fabric you choose, you might want to take the time to add a lining, as well. Thus, you prevent the skirt from riding up when you walk. 

* * *

Did you find this helpful? Would you like to see more content like this? And what are your evening vs. weekend pattern recommendations? Please don’t be shy and let me know in the comments!

Next time we’ll have a look at blazers, cardigans, trousers and dresses!

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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