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Life, the universe and everything

For sure, this year has been a crazy one amirite? And we’re not even halfway through it yet 😱

To add to this insane-in-the-membrane situation, the cherry on top of this crazy-cake is there’s no sewing for you this week here. WHAT HAS BECOME OF THE WORLD I hear you say.

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When I started this blog three and a half years ago (😱) I was a total newbie to both blogging AND sewing. This blog has closely followed my (often steep) learning curve in techniques (the good and the bad), how I choose fabric, how I’ve figured out (well, attempted to 😂) what suits me and what doesn’t. Over the years I’ve learned that even though I may like the look of dresses, I’m hardly going to wear them, so I shouldn’t make them unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you look at my early blog posts, a lot of them were dresses. Which don’t get worn. I made them from properly cool fabrics though – mostly Alexander Henry – so I think these were more about the rebellion of making what I wanted. To hell with the floral dresses in the stores… EUGH 🤮 . By sewing my own I was breaking the rules, pushing the boundaries of what females are expected to wear. I don’t want to look pretty and feminine in a floaty dress, thanks – I’ll make my own with skulls on it instead ☠️

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One of the cooler dresses, which I’ll likely salvage the fabric from and see if I can get a Scout Tee from it 👀

Throughout the journey so far, I’ve also discovered that V-necks are not for me, and skirts are also very shaky ground. I’ve improved no end on techniques – invisible zips and bound buttonholes no longer faze me – and I’ve got better at choosing prints and colours (warm tones only, plz).

Salmon-pink cat print fabric? No thanks. The sight of this fabric makes me want to vomit.

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And the epic-est of the epic dress fails:

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Just NO. To this day I don’t know what on earth made me buy that fabric. Or make the dress 🤷🏻‍♀️

Contrast those fugly-fests to some of my favourite makes of recent(ish) times – aka the point where I’d got my shit together and knew what I was doing a bit more 😂

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That’s better, right? 👀😂🙌🏻  We’ve come a long way, baby.

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When we managed to visit NYC in March earlier this year (just before the lockdown happened), I came out of the garment district mostly empty-handed. I KNOW. I say ‘mostly’ empty-handed – I didn’t buy any fabric, but I did buy supplies for a Gucci-inspired jacket that I’d been planning for ages, plus a quilt kit. I can tell that my fabric tastes are now well-honed, by how fussy I am with fabrics. Which is good! I do have a fair stash of fabrics (I mean, who doesn’t lol) but they are all – mostly – still to my tastes and will be eventually used. I haven’t bought new fabrics in FOREVER as I’m trying to whittle down what I already have.

So yeah, I can definitely see the shift over the last couple of years – I love to create, and that will never change, but my focus has slowly been edging away from MAKE ALL THE THINGS AND PRACTICE to MAKE THE THINGS THAT YOU WILL TRULY LOVE AND KEEP (and get better at the fancy techniques, like pad stitching).

Except just lately, I haven’t really been sewing anything. Well, that’s not completely true I suppose, there has been the odd thing here and there, and lots of knitting, but we’re definitely running a reduced service.

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At the end of last year, I had a career change – from finance, which I’d done FOREVER (literally forever – I left sixth form and went straight into a trainee accountant position at aged eighteen, and remained in finance until the age of thirty-five) to law-slash-data-privacy, becoming a data protection officer. I didn’t plan this one, I didn’t really see it coming, but the opportunity presented itself in the company I work for and my interest was sparked. I jumped, from the career I’d just spent eighteen years on, into the unknown. Six months down the line, I now have a qualification in this new field, plus a second one that I’m currently studying for too – and I’m excited for what the future might bring. I’d done finance for so many years, I think I’d kind of ‘got used’ to it, and now I feel like my brain is alive again. But it’s consuming. I’d forgotten what a time-suck studying was 😂

I was spending a lot of time at the start of the year studying for that first exam (so there wasn’t time for much sewing) then we had the trip to NYC, then it was lockdown and like so many of you, there was no motivation for sewing. Lockdown has been a weird time for me. At first, I was excited for ALL THE SEWING TIME I would have – and expected that my sewjo would just come a bouncin’ on back – but between worrying about what would happen to our jobs and trying to get online grocery delivery slots so we had some food in the house, I found that I wasn’t really interested in sewing. I turned instead to the pile of books that had been languishing under the bed unread for years, and rediscovered my love for reading. My knitting came out enthusiastically and I’m on my third pair of socks, plus I’ve almost finished a sweater. And that quilt kit keeps calling to me, along with my unplayed piano 👀

So… where am I going with this I hear you say 🤔

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Well. Regular readers among you will know that I hit up your inbox every Sunday morning with a new post – from now on, that’s going to be fortnightly, rather than weekly.

When I started this blog I settled on a weekly post to give myself some structure, and I felt it was better for readers to know when to expect a new post (this may or may not be true – lmk your thoughts!). I’ve been thinking for a while now about changing from weekly posts to something less frequent, but for some reason, it never quite felt like the right time.

Now that my making has slowed over the last few months and I’ve begun to invest time in new crafts (my quilt kit) and other forgotten things (the knitting), and of course the studying (🤓) I feel that now is the right time to adapt the blog to reflect that. Before I sewed clothes, I was a knitter, and it got abandoned a bit (okay, totally) while the sewing took off – but I’m pleased to say it’s well and truly BACKObvs knitted things take way longer to make than knocking up a sweatshirt in two hours, and I’ve also got that quilt kit which I’m uber excited to start but which is also gonna take me feckin’ ages, so my new fortnightly frequency is gonna match my slower output.

But even despite this shift, I’m not going to want to continue to make this volume of clothing forever anyway, because that’s needless and my wardrobe fo sho can’t handle it. It’s not sustainable – I only have a small closet, and I would rather it contain twenty things that I love dearly than fifty things that I looked at every morning and went ‘meh’. I’m slowly honing in on those things that I will truly love, and luckily, the process of figuring out what those things are (and also getting your sewing and tailoring skills sharpened) is actually quite a long one, and I’m defo not at the end of that journey yet so don’t panic – there’s plenty more to come! I still have a zillion projects in my head, and fabrics just crying out for me to use them, but we’re going for more of a leisurely coastal drive, taking in the scenery, rather than a sprint down the motorway from here on out.

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When I read other blog posts (and not just sewing ones), I can sometimes be at the end of them in about two minutes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – each persons’ blog is their own expressions and they’re welcome to do that in whatever way they choose – but for me, a blog post is a detailed analysis of the process and also of the finished item. Do I like it? why not? Was there a better technique to use than the one instructed in the pattern? Do I like the fabric? Does it get worn? Was it a total shambles? Epic fail? Does it fit in with the other garments in my wardrobe? Basically, it’s GO BIG OR GO HOME, I either write two thousand words about something I’ve made, or I don’t bother. There’s no in-between. I love writing for this blog – and I feel so lucky to have all of you fabulous readers. When I first started writing, I didn’t even know if anyone would read my posts – I expected the tumbleweeds to go rollin’ on by in my corner of the interwebs. And it took me a fair few months to find my writing style, my vibe. The only thing I’d ever written before this was my essays for my GCSE English exam, or my finance exam papers, so not exactly riveting stuff 😂 To this day I still get excited to see that someone’s commented on a post (and taken time out of their day to read my ramblings) and there’s a special place in my heart for the regular readers among you. When someone says that they’ve been inspired to get making, or tackle a difficult garment because of one of my posts, it’s amazing.

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And I want to continue to write those essay-length, over-the-top-on-the-details posts. Five-hundred-word, blink-and-you-miss-‘em posts just aren’t my jam. But to be able to carry on, I’m gonna have to cut you off one post out of every two. It’ll be okay, I promise 💜

(See? I’ve even managed over two thousand words here to tell you something I could have literally got across in one sentence. But you know that’s not how I roll 😂)

I think (I hope) the last few months will give people a shift in perspective on many things – the number of hours they spend at work, the length of their commute, what’s really important in life. I realise that everyone’s experience is different, and that there are those that can’t wait for this to end, but I have to say I’m grateful to be finding a lot of positives in our current situation. Waking up to the birds singing in line with my own body clock is 100% better than waking up unnaturally at 6am to an alarm, and falling asleep over my coffee. I hope that people who return to a long commute have a damn good think about whether this is how they want to spend their life. I’ve definitely rediscovered the things I ‘never had time for’ – reading, going on long bike rides into the countryside, spending a few minutes just sitting outside in the garden with the dogs (and the husbeast, of course) in the warm sun, looking at the green trees against the blue sky. The husbeast will tell you that just sitting and doing nothing is very unlike me. I never sat still. It was a ‘waste of time’. I had so many other things to be doing that I couldn’t squander precious minutes just doing nothing. But now, I enjoy taking that time to just sit, and be. And it’s good for the soul. It’s nice to not have to rush rush rush all of the time. If all I achieve all day is knitting a sleeve, or making some piping in just the right shade to coordinate with a project, that’s cool. And if there’s no sewing that day? That’s cool too. Now that the brakes have been put on our destructive, too-busy working lives, I hope that there can be a permanent change to our habits for the good.

It’s not just the time benefit, though. We watch more films at home together (cinema’s closed, obvs) and we’re finally managing to watch some of the TV series that we’ve bookmarked since forever that I thought we’d never get round to watching (Ricky Gervais’ ‘Afterlife’ is next up). Not that I’m a particularly good cook, but it’s nice to have some home-cooked meals and lunches as well, rather than convenience foods al-desko or takeaways ordered in the evenings because it’s been a long day at work and you can’t be bothered to cook. I even baked some sausage rolls the other week (okay so I bought the pastry ready-made, but still 😂), and a lemon drizzle cake a week before that (which was a bit of a fail, visually, but still tasted okay). Plus the doggos get to sit outside in the sun all day if they want, rather than being cooped up in the house. It’s win-win for everyone.

In the very apt words of Mr Dave Grohl – it’s times like these we learn to live again.

All that’s left to say – for the first time ever in Wanderstitch history – is see ya in a fortnight! Live your best life, guys ✌🏻

💜

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Next on the blog – an Alexander Henry shirt for the Handsome Husbeast 😍 Subscribe below to have my posts drop straight into your inbox 🙌🏻

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80 thoughts on “Life, the universe and everything

  1. Thanks Rebecca in SoCal! The other thing I wonder about is what the hyper-productive bloggers and vloggers do with their scraps. Even at my slow sewing rate I seem to generate what I label as “big scraps” on their Ziploc: big, but still too small/oddly shaped for garment pieces (and while I’d like to do patchwork at some stage, not all my scraps are suitable (hello jersey)).

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    1. Ohhhh let’s not talk about scraps 😳 I tend to get rid of bagfuls at a time on the likes of Freecycle etc, because I hang on to them thinking that I’ll use them ‘one day’ and then never do…

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  2. If you want to know what to do with your scraps, you MUST investigate “Prigan Art” (PriganArt on FB). She is an amazing artist (and sewing teacher for young students) in Israel who takes buttons and fabric scraps and turns them into amazing wave-like pieces of fabric that then become wall art, makes fabric “beads”, scarves, and jewelry. Her sense of color is absolutely amazing, as she blends multiple colors in the same color family in a way that is an artistic miracle in itself.

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    1. OMG I just looked her up and her stuff is mind blowing!! 🤯🤯🤯 Though I’m not sure I have time for *another* hobby 😂

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