The past few Decembers I’ve done a rather thorough review of my year of sewing: how many garments I made, reflections on pattern experimentation, etc. I didn’t manage to photograph all the things I sewed this year for the blog, and looking back over the ragged patch-work of months that made up 2019, I don’t think my typical review will work well this year, anyway. My wardrobe has been in upheaval as I’ve had to make new adjustments for my body, my feelings about myself, and the tumultuous climate. So instead of looking backward, I will focus this post on looking forward.
A helpful thing that I discovered this past year is that semi-fitted to loosely fitted garments last the longest in my wardrobe because they accommodate subtle fluctuations in body size and shape. Other things that I learned: that I prefer small prints to large ones, cotton is my favorite fabric to sew with, and it is important to plan sewing projects with layering (can I wear a sweater over it? Can I wear a petticoat under it? etc.) and color combinations within my existing wardrobe in mind. Also I think that shirt-dresses, button-up shirts, and full skirts are the hardest working members of my wardrobe, as they are so versatile for so many kinds of situations from cleaning to attending a museum to going to church to hiking or walking.
In 2020 I want to reaffirm my sewing commitments. First is my commitment to making my own clothes, jewelry, and accessories. I find that I value and enjoy the things that I’ve made more than the things that I’ve bought. When I dress well I feel more dignified even when I’m emotionally struggling. I value the power of getting dressed. I read a quote from Virginia Woolf recently that encapsulates the idea perfectly: “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes… change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.”
My second commitment is to make my projects out of second-hand materials as much as possible. Valuing clothing shouldn’t come at a great cost to the environment. Reading books like Fashionopolis has opened my eyes not just to the great waste of the fashion industry, but also the danger to workers and the environment in the production of fabric itself. There are many sources of second-hand fabric in the world and I am blessed to have lots of thrift stores and a creative reuse center readily available in this area. I want to continue to take advantage of them while we live here. As the old pioneer motto says: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
My third commitment is to simplicity. I want to spend more time making tried-and-true patterns and experimenting with adjusting and drafting using those patterns. I don’t need as many patterns as I have had in the past, and I’ve spent some time over the past few months evaluating my collection and slimming it down. There are still patterns in there that I haven’t tried, so there will still be some new reviews over the next year (and some catch-up reviews for things I made this fall and haven’t been able to photograph yet). I plan to go on a “pattern fast” for 2020 and not buy any new patterns, but only to use what I already have. I know that I like variety, though, so I will leave myself a gentle clause that I can buy or ask for a pattern or two for holidays or my birthday. This will hopefully slow down my pattern acquisition to the same pace that I’m actually able to make toiles and finished items from them.
I am trying to decide if I want to make a “Make Nine” list or not, so for now I’m going to put down some general goals for things that I want to try to get done at the sewing machine over the next year:
My last sewing commitment for the year is to keep this blog going. It’s been a struggle to take photos and keep things updated here since we moved to Utah, and I can’t promise that the year ahead will be much better, as I anticipate experiencing a lot of the same challenges with the weather, lack of light, scheduling, etc. But I am going to try, and Mr Rat says he will try as well, as he thinks that making a record of our sewing is important, and getting to share and be part of a larger community.
Do you spend time reflecting on your past year of sewing before the new year arrives? What have you learned? What goals (if any) are you making for the year ahead? We are starting a new decade 2020----how startling! And how wonderful that we are all still here, still learning, and still creating, despite whatever struggles we face. I wish all of you a very happy New Year!
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.