Monday, November 18, 2013

Thinking ahead to 2014: Seeking balance

I got a lot of sewing done this weekend, but I don't have any photos yet of anything that I did, so I'm stepping back from project-related posts for the day and want to think out loud about the future for a few minutes.

I feel like I have the attention span of a house cat when it comes to sewing projects. (Ooh! Shiny object! Ooh! Laser pointer! Ooh! Leaves blowing around outside!)  I've gone so far as to plan mini-capsule wardrobes (and bought the corresponding fabrics and patterns), only to throw away all of my plans because I was distracted by a new pattern release. As a result, I have a lot of orphan garments in my closet that can really only be worn with jeans, and I have an overflowing fabric stash, only some of which coordinates with the other pieces in my stash. Almost as bad as my fabric stash is my pattern stash. I've mostly weaned myself off of the JoAnns/Hancock pattern sales for the Big 4, but I'm still a sucker for a newly released indie pattern during the initial discount period that most of them have.

Do other sewists have this problem? (The attention span thing, I mean. I figure that by default, if you're reading a sewing-themed blog, you probably also have a fabric stash problem.)

Next year, my sewing goals are going to revolve around taming my pattern and fabric stash a bit. I won't promise to fast either of these things, but I want to make wiser choices and sew down the stashes that I already have. Instead of only asking myself, "Do I think this has the potential to be cute?", I want to also ask myself, "Will I actually wear this? Like, out of the house, and stuff?"

I generally sew about two garments a month (give or take, depending on garment complexity and what else is going on in my life) and that I also sew for my daughter (frequently) and husband (less frequently), in addition to sewing for myself. Keeping these things in mind, these are a few of the self-designed "challenges" that I'm mulling over to set sewing goals for myself in 2014:
  • HotPattern-a-month challenge: I have a HUGE stash of HotPatterns. I've actually sewn quite a few of them, but between my pregnancy, having a baby, and then moving across 3 states, my backlog of "wanting to sew" HP patterns has grown beyond my comfort zone. Most of their patterns haven't been done to death in the blogosphere, as well.
  • StyleArc-a-month challenge:  My StyleArc backlog isn't as big as my HP backlog (due mainly to exercising more self-restraint because of the shipping charges and/or waiting to place orders in months where I Had to Have the freebie pattern), but their style and wearability scores about the same with me as HP. I've sewn a lot more StyleArcs than I've reviewed because I went through a big StyleArc phase when we were trying to pack up our house and I never got around to doing the pics/reviews.
  • Colette-Pattern-a-month challenge: My Colette stash isn't quite as large as the first two, but I do have a backlog of their patterns that I would really like to sew. HP and Colette both have the advantage of having a few men's patterns, so I can occasionally sew something for my husband and still meet my challenge goals.
  • BurdaStyle challenge:  Sewing folks have been doing this one for as long as I've been sewing--select a pattern from that month's Burda magazine and sew it that month. I no longer subscribe to the magazine, but they make a generous selection of patterns for each issue available on their web site. I like this idea for keeping things "fresh" (instant gratification from downloading PDF patterns), but I worry about finding something that I want to make every month, especially since I'm plus-sized.
  • Pattern Review contest-a-month challenge: The Pattern Review web site typically runs two contests every month. For this, I'd make myself participate in one of those contests every month. The upside to this is that it would stretch me out of my comfort zone. The downside to this is that sometimes I truly have no interest in whatever contests are currently running.
  • Sew-along-a-month challenge (non-company-specific): As you might know, I follow the blogs, etc, of several indie pattern companies. Several of these companies host structured "sew-alongs" with the release of new patterns. The idea behind this would be to find one per month to participate in and go with that. The upside to this is that sewalongs usually break things down into manageable 30-minute-a-day chunks--great for a busy working mom. The downside is that I'll need to actually find a sew-along every month.
As you can probably tell, I'm leaning towards doing the HotPatterns or StyleArc thing as my personal challenge, but I'd love to hear what others think.


  1. I also have an embarrassing number of HP that have yet to be made up, so if you would probably have company if you went in that direction. :-)

    Other than that, my immediate thought is you might be putting *too much* pressure on yourself with so many challenges. Maybe just pick a different one or two from your list each month?

    (Nice to see you blogging again!)

  2. Thanks Debbie! I like that idea as well. I edited my post to mention my StyleArc backlog, too. Maybe I should just make up a list of those and my top-priority HPs and pick from those? I like what Melissa from Fehrtrade does with her seasonal storyboards, so I'm thinking of something along that line to keep myself accountable.

  3. Hey - you are going to be exhausted at the end of each month...

    Why don't you join in on the Sarah Liz one garment a month challenge. It is kind of a sew along. You can alternate between HP and SA and if the garment fits into any of the PR comps then go for it too - but I worry about your word MAKE MYSELF participate. Then it becomes a chore not fun. Challenge your self to one (or even 2) items per month and do with those what you want.

    I would hate for you to wear yourself out after just starting to blog again.


  4. That's a good suggestion Bea, although now that we're mostly settled into our new house, I don't anticipate having any trouble completing one garment/month--I usually get somewhere between 1-3 done/month without trying to challenge myself.

    For me, the "challenge" idea is more about sticking to some sort of plan/structure, rather than just sewing whatever I feel like (and sometimes ending up with orphan garments or garments that don't fit my lifestyle because of it.)

    Maybe a better solution (for me) would be to plan out storyboards with a few prospective projects every few months and see how many of those I can tick off my list. (I LOVE ticking things off of lists.)

  5. Nice to see you back blogging.

    I am another who has a large Hot Patterns stash and am aiming to work through a bunch of them in the next year.
    I can completely relate to planning projects, and then getting distracted by shiny new ideas. Must start sewing them up ... ;-)

  6. I would definitely be up for some HP or Colette sewing this year. I have no StyleArc patterns as yet. I actually want to get a Lantern skirt and the HP kimono jacket sewn this month. You up for either of those?

  7. Linda, yes, yes I would be up for those!

  8. I'm glad that I am not the only person with a stash of unused HP patterns. To make it worse, I keep buying them, lol. The idea of using a HP pattern every month is a good one. I just bought the Miss Moneypenny Twinset. I pledge to make it my Jan/Feb project.