Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

2014 in review

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Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas

Seems like it’s the done thing on here, so here is a review featuring my top 5 things I’ve learned this year:

1. Think big and embrace the challenge!

Think big

Before I started my sewing venture I was entirely sure whether I was a novice or not. I have never bought any curtains or cushions and always made my own. I therefore knew how to use my sewing machine and I knew a few techniques such as inserting a zip. I made a couple of garments in 2013 and without thinking I just went into a fabric shop bought the fabric, pattern and notions and got on with it without too much thinking. The top turned out fine, I wasn’t so happy with the dress, I believe the fit could have been better. But they are still wearable and I have worn the dress many times to work. I haven’t blogged about these two makes, but I’m sure they’ll make an appearance on-line sometime.

It was only over the Christmas holidays last year when I started reading sewing blogs that I  wondered whether I was being over-ambitious. In addition, the fiasco with the pyjama trousers knocked my confidence a little and I felt perhaps I needed to think myself back to being a beginner. A few easy projects followed as I found my feet again. On reflection, this probably worked well as it made me scrutinise my efforts more closely. Because I already did have some experience, I found that my knowledge was full of gaps and this period of easiness helped sort that out.

By the middle of the year I had hit new heights of ambition and even entered a fashion show with two of my own designs. If someone had said I would be doing that a year ago I would have laughed!

2. It’s a lifestyle, go with it!

Embrace life

I don’t think I had really considered how much my “no clothes shopping” pledge was going to change how I live my life. It goes far beyond just not buying anything in a clothes shop. I now spend a significant amount of time sewing in the evenings and writing for my blog. I do occasionally go into clothes shops, but now I spend my time critically eyeing up the fashions for ideas and checking out how seams have been finished etc. But I haven’t just survived my year without ready-to-wear fashion, I’ve actually relished it. I have changed from someone with a sloppy, couldn’t-care-less attitude to clothes, to embracing my new-found fashionista self.

My only regret came out in a conversation about the works party do a couple of weeks ago. Everyone at work was talking about what they were going to wear, which incidentally meant what they were going to buy to wear. I realised that I wasn’t really part of this conversation, with only a few days to go before the party I needed to make a choice from my existing wardrobe. Perhaps I’m a little relieved, I now don’t feel obliged to run around trying to find an outfit that I would only wear once. Anyway, I felt quite smart in my bronze silk dupion skirt and my paisley silk top. OK, possibly brown was not an ideal choice for a Christmas party, may be next year I’ll make a dedicated outfit.

3. Be proud of a home-made wardrobe!

FrumpySewing has undergone quite a progression. It was almost a necessity for women in the early twentieth century and before that. Certainly in the sixties and seventies it was still a popular hobby and many people still made their own clothes. However, when I was growing up in the eighties, the cost of clothing had started to come down and it was an almost obsolete skill. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it was regarded as unfashionable and outdated. I still feel a little self-conscious every time I put on something hand-made because of this. But, people just don’t notice and don’t know. They seem surprised and even complementary if I ever mention that I made what I’m wearing. I feel I need to celebrate my wardrobe more and be proud of my skills. Besides sewing is trendy now, long may it continue!

4. Plan and don’t get distracted!

At the beginning of 2014 I did make a brief, back of an envelope wish list for my wardrobe, there were only a few items on it:

It wasn’t a grand list, but there were a few items that just kept on getting pushed to the bottom of the list. Of the items in the list I would say that the corduroy trousers were the most essential. I was really suffering a trouser crisis before they were made as all my pairs of jeans are showing a lot of wear;  I mean that I was risking exposure should I catch them on something as they are so threadbare! I didn’t get around to making these till quite late in the year, as I didn’t think that I had the skills to make them before that. Of course, it’s very easy to get distracted from doing more boring items – I just didn’t feel tempted to make those curtains.

The rest of the distraction must surely be down to discovering indie pattern companies. There are just so many fantastic patterns that inspire me. I definitely need more focus in the coming year and of course, there will be plenty of indie patterns intentionally in the mix this time.


By the way, this picture came courtesy of Jammy and Jelly. It’s a cute drawing blog. If you are thinking about New Year’s resolutions, just take a look at last year’s resolution drawings.

5. You inspire me!


I would never have guessed that the sewing community on-line was so vibrant and inspiring. You have helped me so much this year – given me so many ideas for my new improved wardrobe, kept me going when I thought that work was taking over my life and I didn’t have time to blog, and freely given your advice and encouragement. Not to forget how many giveaways I’ve entered. You are all so generous! It’s definitely time I gave a little more to this wonderful community so watch out in the coming weeks for some giveaways here.


Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

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