Have you ever had a friend move away – a very dear and close friend who you were sure you’d always keep in touch with? And then, as time passed, maintaining that level of contact became more difficult. And then, the longer you left it to send that email/make that phone call/post that letter, the harder it became. Each passing day was filled with more news that needed to be relayed which meant the email/call/letter needed to be even longer and in-depth.
But she’s was good friend – a great one, in fact – and you didn’t want to let the friendship go so, at some point, you just had to take the plunge. And even if it wasn’t as complete and thorough as you would have liked, at least it was contact and at least you knew you aren’t going to lose this friend forever.
It turns out that, for me, this ‘friend’ is my blog. I never intended to step away from blogging and I most certainly didn’t intend to take a break from sewing. But, for various reasons that is exactly what happened. Almost daily I have tried to jump back into the blogging world, but then another day passes making the whole process of re-insertion fractionally more difficult.
This post has been a long time coming – the culmination of thoughts, ideas, motivations – sprinkled with some deeper soul-searching, complete with the realisation of my somewhat difficult and contradictory relationship with social media (which could easily be the subject of another post entirely).
My unplanned path down the road to a blogging break
When I posted about my flipped Pea Coat back in November, I didn’t know it would be my last post for 4 months!! (My jaw still drops when I write that!). It’s only now, with enough space for reflection that I can really understand why this happened. This is sort of the path I went down…
- As some of you already know, my family and I moved from Belgium to the UK last summer. Since then my entire life-style changed – moving from city to country, getting a dog, more commitments with kids’ schooling, trying to make friends and integrate in a new country, etc. These changes meant that my normal ‘routine’ of sewing, photographing and blogging was dramatically disturbed. Not necessarily in a bad way mind you…
- This reshuffle shook things up enough that some interests other than sewing started to resurface (yup, I have interests other than sewing – shocking, I know!). I found myself filling my free time with long walks, enjoying our local forests, getting back into an exercise routine, reading books, and cooking up meals with all our local produce. I even tried crocheting a hot water bottle cover (which I never finished). It’s not that I consciously didn’t want to sew – it was just that other things were taking priority in a way that they hadn’t since I started this blog in February 2012. And it felt good!!
- Well, it felt good for a while. Once I decided to try to get back on track I made the mistake of checking back in with the online sewing community. I say ‘mistake’ because what I found there was more pace, passion, commitment, energy and general lightning speed creations that I felt that I could cope with. This, in turn, lead to a bit of a crisis in confidence culminating in a state of not believing my own sewing hype. And this is a dangerous place to be as a blogger!!
- Once you lose a bit of the love for the work you create, it becomes almost impossible (for me at least) to shout from
the rooftopssocial media outlets, telling everyone to come have a look. And isn’t that what having a sewing blog is all about – sharing your sewing?!
- So I spent a long time not knowing how to proceed – I was in a state of limbo – not contributing to my blog but not wanting to let it go either.
So how does one exit this drifting state of blogger/non-blogger, sewist/non-sewist? It turns out that the answer was simple! To make me feel like I was back in the game, I realised that all I needed to do was to start sewing again!! Sew something, sew anything, just sew! For about two months I spent time in my sewing studio just milling around being a bit pathetic. I would pick up a pattern here, some fabric there, contemplate making something, decide the pattern/fabric wasn’t right and then move on to something else. Or I would convince myself that I just didn’t have enough time or energy (I used to think nothing of starting a sewing project at 10pm but now I was wanting to curl up in bed with my book). I made a few gifts along the way but nothing that I would consider serious sewing. I even made napkins; yup, napkins – and two sides were already hemmed! Nothing says ‘sewing funk’ like some straight line stitching (although I do love the napkins!).
And then a couple of weeks ago I got entirely fed up with myself! I sat down and made lots of lists and resolutions (sewing and otherwise) and generally gave myself the proverbial kick up the backside that I needed. Since then I’ve made this coat, a skater dress, some new baby bunting, a spring skirt for me, a Liberty and linen dress for Margot, and a Named batwing shirt. And, now, I think I can safely say that the doubtful sewing demons have been banished! *poof* And since I now, again, believe my own hype, blog posts on all these outstanding creations will be coming soon 😉 .
Moving in the right direction
It would be a shame to let all this time spent self-reflecting go to waste so I have used this period of uncertainty to figure out what it is I want from my sewing and blogging going forward. I’m hoping these will make me a happier and better blogger.
- My biggest motivations for blogging have always been to make connections with other like-minded sewists and to create further opportunities in this field. I have always seen blogging as a journey as opposed to a destination and, in this respect, nothing has changed since day one.
- I have learned that I’m not as single-minded about sewing and blogging as I thought I was!! Shock! Horror! This is the realisation that surprised me the most. It is not to say that I enjoy sewing any less than I did before, it’s just that I’m not willing to make it my entire life. I feel happier and more well-rounded when I’m also pursuing my other interests. Perhaps this will be a detriment to my long-term blogging goals but if a happy blogger = a good blogger then this is the way it has to be.
- The lightning pace of blogging – particularly in the sewing/DIY genre – is something that’s always jarred with my approach to sewing. I want to take my time over a project. I want to hand-finish that hem even though it would delay the blog post; I want to take time to learn a new skill properly, not just a quick-fix to get the thing done; I want to share projects that inspire a true desire to sew, not just slap something together for the nearest holiday season.
- Leading on from this, I want to make 2015 the year that I increase my core sewing skills. I want to push myself to master new techniques which will open up new possibilities in my sewing. It’s my hope I can share some of these with you.
- Finally, I want my sewing and blogging to be a reflection of my dedication to sustainable fashion. With Fashion Revolution Day quickly approaching, I think we could all spare a thought for those who make our ready-to-wear clothes in factories all over the world – many of which with far few worker’s rights than we would accept.
So, dear friends, I am sorry I have been out of touch but now at least I hope you see the reasons why. I promise I won’t let it drift so long again.
Now! Enough introspection – let’s get on to the sewing!!
Today I’m sharing a new coat I made for the littlest member of our family. Aptly enough, the starting point for this coat is the Dear My Kids Trendy Unisex Pea Coat – the same pattern I flipped in my previous post waaaaaay back in November (yikes!)
This pattern is a perfect starting point for lots of personalisation. Sewing outerwear is great as it makes such a big impact. This one’s a double-win because it’s also easy to sew. For this version I played it much closer to the printed pattern than I did the first time round.
Here’s the nitty-gritty:
- I made size 4 for my 5-year-old. It came up a bit wider and shorter than I imagined but he wears it happily so this isn’t really a complaint.
- I changed up the method of closing. This came about because when he tried it on (minus the buttonholes) it naturally came together like this and I liked it! Plus, it meant far fewer buttonholes to be sewn – which is always a good thing on thick fabric like this.
- The exterior fabric is wool (the green – left over from Christmas stockings a few years ago) and boiled wool (the sleeves and pockets – left over from this Oliver+s cape).
- The interior fabric is a light-weight quilted cotton for the sleeves and faux sheep skin for the rest.
- I added patch pockets – lined with the same striped orange ribbing as the cuffs.
- In a similar fashion to my previous version, I added wrist cuffs with thumb holes.
- The buttons are actually pebbles that have been drilled to make them into buttons (courtesy of my jeweller mother, Molly Sharp!).
This is a really useful coat that didn’t take an eternity to make. Of course Spring is nearly upon us and I suppose most of you are turning your sewing efforts to warmer weather makes but it’s worth book-marking this pattern to bring out when you’re looking for something warm and cozy for your little one.
Whew – this post has been such a long time coming that it feels great to finally have it out there. Thanks for sticking with me until the end – I promise there will be more sewing and less self-analysis in the future!!
As a sewist and/or a blogger, have you ever encountered any of these stumbling blocks on your journey? I’d love to hear.
As ever, thanks for reading,