Hello sewing friends, thanks for dropping by. I could do with a chat!
Although fully intending to, I haven’t written one of these ‘All Sewn Up’ diary style blog posts in a while. My life has been subject to some…flux…lately and I found myself unable to find the words with which to contextualise my sewing, so I dropped them for a while whilst I tried to process what was going on… Read More
September, seriously?!?! You and me need to have words! Lots of words…
That went waaay too quickly! If you follow this blog or generally follow me on social media, you’ll be forgiven for thinking September was a quiet month for me as I took something of a step back from posting generally. This was initially prompted by my Instagram accountdeciding to throw a wobbly (I’ll talk about that more in a bit) but, rather than stress about it, I decided to embrace the idea of a break. It was amazing how much extra time and mental space this freed up to get on with actual sewing and real life socialising and … planning.
So this was September…
Firstly, I sewed three things very quickly and then one thing very slowly.
The #cosycardichallenge was in full swing and, as I’d been planning to sew another Coppelia in some fabric I picked up from my jaunt to Joann’s back in the summer, I cracked on with it. I decided to size up this time, mainly because the fabric I was using was more substantial and I wanted it to be more of a cosy everyday wrap than the first one I made. I also added an extra inch to the length. Ah, I love it, I feel like I’m giving myself a big hug wearing it and let’s face it, I love a hug! Not a lot more I can say about it this time around other than to mention it’s already had loads of wear; I’m sure I’ll sew this pattern again and again (the link to my initial review is HERE). However, what I couldn’t do was join in and tag it as an entry to the #cosycardichallenge because, as I mentioned, my Instagram account was playing silly beggars. Nor could I really participate in #sewphotohop this year…
Firstly, I couldn’t get into my account and the Hubs had to come to my rescue to get me back in by ‘reauthorising’ the account on a different device. Or something. Anyway, once back in, I also decided to acknowledge that for some time I’d noticed that my tagged posts routinely failed to show up on any hashtag page, as if my account were set to ‘private’. As mentioned, I decided to take some time out from the platform; and limiting my activity in the short term, I hope, seems to have been sufficient to ‘reset’ it.
On a personal note, it was interesting to me just how annoyed I was initially when I realised my account was compromised. In the great scheme of things, I realised I was more annoyed at myself for being annoyed than I was actually annoyed at the annoying problem!! Hahahaha. But it is ‘funny’ isn’t it. You and I both know that being unable to participate on Instagram for a while hardly counts as a ‘real life problem’ but, that said, I am deeply committed to our sewing community and Instagram is a part of that. I still don’t know for sure what got my account suspended but I suspect it was using the same hashtags repeatedly. If that’s the case though! I do wonder what impact algorithms like this may have on our community’s ability to ‘commune’ at the same level on that platform? What do you think?
But what I actually spent the majority of my time sewing was…a dress I can’t show you in full because it’s for a, not yet published, mag article. It involved toiling and FBA’ing princess seams, lots of topstitching and the use of contrast fabrics. I actually wore it to the Great British Sewing Bee Live in London last week.
That was the MOST fun!
It was such a blast spending the day with these brilliant and talented women – it was arranging to meet Jane (Handmade Jane), that initially spurred me into attending (and I’m so glad it did!); the vivacious Alex (Sewrendipity) kindly sent me the tickets; Helen (Valentine & Stitch) thankfully agreed to go with me and Diane (Dream Cut Sew) happily arranged to meet us there. Whilst there, we also hung out with and chatted to the lovely Becca (Red W Sews) and Jamie (Male Devon Sewing), plus so many more. I’ll not list them all here because this will just turn into a rollcall…and I’ll only worry I’ll accidentally miss someone off! You were all fab!
Suffice to say, I did try to buy fabric but there were so many familiar faces to chat with instead! And thank you so much to everyone who came up to say Hi! I was bowled over by how lovely you all were. Unfortunately I was totally crap at remembering to get pictures but here’s one I’ve salvaged from my Instagram feed; meeting Amy (Almond Rock) at the Love Sewing mag stand.
I’ll not harp on too much about the event itself as it’s been covered so well by other bloggers. Given that it was primarily geared to dressmaking, with workshops and live events throughout the day; all the fabric and haberdashery you could wish for and great representation from the indie and Big 4 pattern houses, it really was stitchy heaven. And apparently the show IS back again next year! Bookmark your diaries for the 8-10th June!
Once home, the effects of being this sociable turned me into a non-verbal grunting thing who finally succumbed to the flu and the effects of another bout of insomnia. Joy. Anyway, I’m all raring to go again – October is here and I’ve got all these plans. I’ll stop waffling here though and let you go…
Hi! If you follow me on Instagram and/or are a regular reader of this ‘ere blog, you may know that I spent a chunk of August back out in the States, a trip I avidly sewed for! As well as eating and drinking my own body weight, this trip also gave me much needed time to reflect both on my sewing life and life in general…
… and this new monthly ‘All Sewn Up!’ blog series is one of the results of that. I wanted a space where I could take time to both reflect upon and forward plan my sewing and to examine how this fits in with the current flux of my life in general. So, as well as covering things like: what I’ve sewn, what I’ve worn and what I’m dreaming of sewing; I also aim to share the notable books I’ve read, throw in snippets from my life, talk about the patterns I’ve researched and bought and whatever else takes my fancy. Basically having a mental spring clean by dumping the contents of my brain here. I guess some months they’ll be long posts, some months they’ll be short posts and some months they won’t be posted at all!
Spending an inordinate amount of time lounging in a hammock getting my ass bitten by mosquitos also gave me the time to do some much needed housekeeping in my little dot of the cyber universe. As well as redesigning the blog itself to make it more functional (it’s not 100% where I want it at yet – how do you find navigating it?) I also finally succumbed to buying my domain name so that it’s now simply ‘www.SewSarahSmith.com’. I’ve designed myself a wee logo to celebrate. It’s not fancy but then neither am I. All in all, I think this is me finally committing to saying yes, this is my space and I’m claiming it. (And Yey to getting rid of hosting Ads!)
Ok, so with that out of the way let’s talk about August!
We actually flew out to the States on my birthday at the back end of July. I travelled with my family and my Sister-in-Law, Anna, to spend much needed time with family who moved to New York State a few years back. 11 months of the year it’s totally crap they’re so far away from us but it does mean when we do get to spend time together we really spend time together.
I took mostly me-made items in my suitcase this time, including a few things I’d sewn up specifically for the trip. Here’s what I wore the most – it also made me realise what was missing from my wardrobe and so I’ve researched a few patterns I really need in my arsenal. Shall we have look?
My most worn item was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the last thing I sewed before packing – McCalls 7119 (blogged HERE).
It was so comfy in the heat; I didn’t feel overdressed it in, finding it versatile enough to pair with heels to go out for dinner but also to wear around the house with flip flops/thongs.
On days three and four, when my mosquito bites were at their angriest, I took to wearing this outfit – RTW linen blend trousers and my Coppelia Wrap Cardi by Papercut Patterns (blogged HERE)
Can we just take a second to talk about bloody mosquito bites!? On the second evening we lit the firepit out the back and I sat there sipping wine long into the night sensibly wrapped up from head to toe … yet having completely forgotten to douse myself in Deet first. I woke up the next morning burning; my skin had been savaged!
Not only had I been bitten a million times, I’d evidently reacted to them violently, coming up in huge welts which I don’t recall ever happening before (or maybe it did and I’d conveniently forgotten; a bit like the way we handle childbirth!) I subsequently spent the remainder of the holiday spraying myself to near asphyxiation and wearing mosquito bands on every limb to avoid repercussion! A few days in I read the blurb on the back of the can warning not to use whilst wearing rayon. Guess what I’d mostly been wearing?!
My two McCalls 7116 dresses both got a lot of wear (blogged HERE). This is the version with the bright pink flowers, which really goes well with my red skin!
Two sets of lounge/sleepwear were in heavy rotation – my Lakeside Pajamas (blogged HERE) and the Suki Kimono (see HERE). I wore the top with cut off jeans to go out in as well as sleep in. I also wore the shorts around the house paired with a Tee – they’re a bit too ‘short short’ to venture further afield in.
My Suki (HERE) was (and still is) the first thing I reach for every morning. But, remember I said I’d discovered a tad late that you’re not supposed to spray Deet near rayon/viscose? The Suki took the worst hit; I think it leaches colour and some of it has run – thankfully it’s just made the white flowers a tad pink in places – I can live with that. Frankly I’ll have to as you’re unlikely to wrestle this robe out of my hands. It’s a good excuse to sew another though, right?!
My Simplicity 1887 viscose trousers (HERE) were a godsend! Unbelievably lightweight and airy. So lightweight in fact I felt a bit, well, starkers, in them – feeling the disconcerting need to physically check I was walking around Walgreens wearing clothing and actually not butt naked!
I wore both my McCalls 6886 dresses (blogged HERE) a few times; this is the perfect easy wear dress to throw on when you want to wear something really comfy, stretchy and forgiving whilst still looking fairly put together; I mainly wore them to go shopping or to stuff my face eating out – the key word here being ‘stretchy’.
Joann’s was a fun experience although I did feel a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights walking through the sliding doors – it was massive. I ended up only buying three long lengths of fabric and various tools – I’ll probably post them up on Insta sometime soon as well as showing you what I’ve made with them here. The gadget section was fab and I finally got myself a spool holder! I had coupons worth 40% so it all felt a bit of a steal really!
My McCalls 6696 Shirtdress (blogged HERE) came out to play for the Attica Rodeo. I was originally planning to wear my maxi dress having envisaged myself wearing it with cowboy boots, however, when everyone else in the house decided to go all native on me, I decided I had to do my best impression of a Cowgirl too and a Shirtdress seemed fitting. I tried, and I mean really tried, to buy the perfect pair of cowboy boots whilst there but none I liked fitted.
Definitely missing from my suitcase were a few pair of shorts, I needed more variation than the cut-offs I took. I want a City pair and a casual pair(s). I have the (1) Chi Town Chinos shorts pattern by Alina already so they’re a serious contender; the (2) Pierre Shorts by Republique du Chiffon have a few features I like but I’m a bit unsure about the the button front and the (3) Vogue City Shorts V9008 really caught my eye:
It was such a great few weeks. Hanging out with family really is the best. Days out, days in lounging around, letting the kids run wild, nights spent playing cards and quaffing. That’s one of my favourite words/verbs : to quaff. Talking of words…
…I also devoured two really good books:
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys is one of those novels you can’t put down once you’ve read the first page. Written by the character Charlie as series of diary entries – a man of low IQ but huge heart – following experimental surgery to raise his intelligence. Classed as a sci-fi novel, I found this a beautiful and affecting read.
A Place Called Winter by Daniel Gale – brilliantly written and quite epic in scale in terms of the vastness of the landscapes it paints and the mapping of the human heart it covers. I literally sobbed to the point of gulping near the end. I started reading it on the plane home but thankfully read the last few chapters safely in my own bed where my heart could break in peace.
So what’s next?
Summer’s running out here in the UK (or did it even really ever start?!) so my thoughts are already turning to Autumn/Winter makes. Whilst I was away I received a very exciting email about contributing to a sewing magazine; more of that later but suffice to say I think I have the perfect make in mind for it. There’s a great new Instagram challenge I want to take part in (the #cosycardichallenge) hosted by the lovely Amanda – check out her YouTube channel ‘I Sew A Lot’ HERE for the info. I’ve also just bought some double ended knitting needles so I can finally succumb to my craving to knit socks!
I’ll leave you here, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time for one day! Thanks for reading – please feel free to throw book and pattern recommendations my way!