Ooopps, I bought a dress! Challenges of writing a sewing blog.

Today I wanna have a heart to heart chat!
Yes, let’s address the elephant in the room, this is not handmade! I love clothes but don’t have unlimited time to make everything I want, or find the right fabric or even have the desire to make something basic because I’m running out of them.
Sewing passion has to come within. I want to make something either because is fun, has a purpose (like class samples) or/and will teach me something new: a challenge! 
After searching ages to find a suitable scuba fabric I liked, factoring the cost of the pattern and my time I decided that it was OK to not have to be a sewing factory and just buy that dress.

Yes, is so easy for me to make! Basic even: I even found a perfect pattern (McCall’s 6988)

BUT that is Ok! right? That not everything I wear has been made by me. The pressure of caring the “handmade” baton is wearisome. Now, everyone I know assumes I make everything I wear and when I say I don’t, that strange glare on their faces. Disappointment? surprise? confusion?  My face justifying “No, I haven’t made that but don’t judge me for it: I love sewing!

I love being creative! I heart making stuff but I am also a child of the capitalism that even tho I am a much better and more educated shopper, I still want to buy cool stuff and wear it with anyone. Even among the sewing community.

Our sewing community represent an excellent support group, a judgement free space to wear our handmade stuff, but there is almost an unspoken rule of what to wear. Creatively that is annoying for me. I wear my handmade clothes almost daily but what happens If I want to wear something else. You know, be a creative rebel!

What I mean to say is that I feel it is ok to have days off. Not to show up wearing everything you made. I often see beginners feeling uncomfortable what they made and the first thing they do is to apologise as their makes don’t fit, or they don’t like it etc..  Often I say: wear what makes you feel proud and happy, don’t wear what makes you feel uncomfortable. I won’t judge how well it was made. My first makes are horrendous. I care to be supportive and encouraging.

What I love about wearing handmade is the feeling of my personal accomplishment, not complements that it brings. 

Since raising my hands and talking how stressed I was about overcommitting, I been very careful to what and who I say “yes” to.  I get asked almost daily about a new book, project, pattern, guest blog, link etc. 

I don’t want to become a blogger that just keep sharing “the newest whatever’ that seems to be the same to every other similar blog. My blog reader (I follow many different types of blogs besides sewing) have became full recently and I’m getting bored…  Can you promise me that if I start getting too promotional/voiceless you will nudge me kindly. I’m not saying that I won’t have an occasion promotional post. There are things I want to share that I am honoured to be given the opportunity!

Since my personal blog resolution, I have only have said “yes” to projects already on my sewing plans (either for me or for my friends and family) or I would buy it anyway, because I think it’s awesome. That’s narrowed it to a few commitments a month. Who doesn’t love interesting interviews and/or thoughtful reviews. I already have a few lined up I’m so excited to share.

Buried under my sewing room mess, I realise how much my stash is out of control. Or rather,  I need to stop buying stuff! I buy too many meters of fabric and hoard far too many patterns.  The worst is that for the last year I have been trying to slow my sewing down!  Yes, slow down… be more mindful to what and why I make things. Without success!

So easy to get catch up on  excitement saying “yes” to everything, pressured to have/make the latest stuff, always wearing handmade, and so on!  Be true to my own personal journey is my guideline.

Not often I blog so many personal views at once. I let those discussions for private conversations however how can I be inspiring and encouraging without sharing some downfalls of writing a sewing blog. 

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  • This is so timely! I agree with so many points that you make. I too struggle with many requests, people assuming I make ‘everything’ & just not enough time. I’ve also decided that I sew for creative reasons & I need to nurture that love. xo

    • I feel we all navigating this feeling together and its so lovely having the support on those issues too

  • This is a really great post Rachel! I’ve only been sewing for a year…and am still very much a beginner! I’ve really only made a very few things that I like, or want to wear (that are comfortable) so when I go to a blogger meet up wearing RTW I do feel like a bit of a fraud when everyone else is wearing great me-made stuff. For me I don’t WANT to make everything I wear…I want to sew as a hobby, to give me something to do at home and for something to blog about. We have a fancy blogger meet up soon and everyone will be wearing great, fancy me-made dresses. After reading your post I feel OK about making something really basic…it’s simple, but it fits and I like it! Thanks!

    • How lovely to know that I encouraged you to sew what makes you happy! happy sewing

    • I agree with you Melanie, I’m there too! And I also get caught up in the excitement to make pretty dresses, but that’s not what I wear. It’s a challenge to sew slowly and make sure each project is going to be loved in my wardrobe rather than just being something I sewed to see what it would look like.

  • Very well said, and your new dress is very pretty!

    • thanks darling, sometimes its hard to talk about delicate subjects without being negative. I wanted a positive feel about facing challenges and keeping oneself true

  • Hah, I get no requests at all, but fully endorse your opinion on buying things. I think there’s a time and place for everything, and that includes buying some stuff that you could easily make (ahem underwear).

    There’s a balance to be struck, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    • lol I made some underwear in the past and although looked so cute it was so uncomfortable..

  • Rachel, I am so happy to read your blog.. I agree with you totally..Sewing is for our fun/pleasure, not to make everything we wear or to make garments, because someone wants us to advertise their patterns,books,etc..
    I make a lot of the clothes I wear..But, I buy what I see that I like also. There are days , I just want to wear a pair of old shorts and a rtw tshirt. No big deal.. and there are days that I want to go buy me a dress to wear for a special occasion. Sure, I could make them…. and I have the fabric in my sewing room… but……..if I am forced to wear only what I sew, I would be too stressed to get it all done. ha
    I haven’t done a lot of blogging or reading blogs lately, I too feel bored by the same ole/same ole.
    totally enjoyed your honesty with this post. thank you so much for sharing..

    • you are one of my longest blog reader and very dear to me, I love when i read your comments ! xx

  • So true – when being creative becomes a chore then it loses the joy. It’s totally OK to buy something well designed that brings us joy. We in turn are supporting the creativity of others if we buy wisely. The dress is gorgeous on you by the way.

    • I feel that as we move forward we go to similar roadblocks… so its important to openly talk about it. I’m very privilege to see my blog grow and I think by keeping talking openly about my vision for the blog can help others.

  • Oh heavens, we ALL wear some RTW stuff, don’t we? (Don’t we? I do!) There are the things I can’t make (fine-knit cardigans) and the things I can’t be bothered to make (real jeans) and the stuff we’ve had since before learning to sew… I don’t think there should be any shame in that. Even in Me-Made May I wear plenty of RTW. I’m at the point where I could wear all me-mades all the time, but why limit myself? Your dress is really cute – wear it with pride! 😉

    • we totally do. I feel that not always we ( sewing bloggers) show our challenges. Its so easy to share a very glam version of ourselves by sharing only our handmade wardrobes… we should share more about the challenges to get there!

  • I agree with everything you are saying. In the end, you are sewing for your own personal enjoyment, and anything that takes away from that is a negative. I hope you can find the right balance for you. Your blog is great and I love to read it!

    PS no judgement at all for buying a few items here and there. Hello, jeans that I wear every single day!

    • yes! love my jeans! I do feel its a challenge to ry to make them which i have been procrastinating 4ever!

  • I dont make all my clothes. I make mostly all my pants and every winter coat jacket. Because i am tall. Not easy to find pants for me that are in right length from RTW racks. And all mu coats because I don’t like to pay 250€ for something that wont keep me even warm when the temperature drops to -25°C.
    But people do assume I make all my clothes. Ouh and underwear. .. I don’t sew panties. Nope.
    So… I think it is okay to buy clothes. No one said you have to make everything you wear.

    • so true. I face the same challenges…well, just look how short this Rtw is LOL

  • Great post! Sewing and blogging are about doing something for yourself and indulging in your creative interests, but if it’s not feeling fun and you’re writing posts that you feel you should rather than want to then what’s the point? There is no rule book, so if you want to buy a dress flaunt it, if you don’t feel like writing a post then it’s ok to have a break! You seem like such a happy person, so it’s great to read that you’ve changed how you do things and only taking on projects that personally suit you! Xxx

    • lovely to hear that I project a happy persona because i am always looking on the positive of things, and that overcoming personal roadblocks one of them. thanks for the love x

  • Well said Rachel, it needs to be fun 🙂

  • Too true! Well said Rachel! And that dress looks fabulous!

  • Sam

    Great post Rachel. I’ve been thinking about some of this stuff recently myself. I don’t wear handmade all the time, but I find myself enjoying the process of shopping for clothes less and less. However sometimes for whatever reason you don’t want to make that “whatever…” It might be something really boring, it might be that you can’t find the right fabric, it might be that the one you’re staring at in the shop is just so perfectly what you want you’d never be able to recreate it anyway.
    I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people who exclusively wear their handmade clothes and I have no desire to. Sewing, knitting, creating, whatever is my hobby, it’s supposed to be fun and I don’t want to turn it into a chore by forcing myself to make things I don’t want to!

    • great to know we all go though this feeling! exactly… hobby is fun. So many opportunities to sell stuff but i often say: i cannot saw more than one… so yeah, its lovely to have that freedom

  • Nice call Rachel. Finding the balance for you is what’s important.
    It is an honour to be approached to review and make things. You have lots of creativity that you enjoy developing further so it’s lovely that you’re sharing your crafting journey including the hurdles.

  • T

    Ah, lovely Rachel. (That’s a gorgeous dress by the way.) You are absolutely right and don’t worry, I am always going to be ready with a “show me the T-shirt” comment if need be. 😉 I wear a lot of stuff that isn’t handmade and couldn’t give two hoots about whether that’s cool or not with the sewing blog expectations. Wear what you love, and you can be creative just with the way you put things together even if you didn’t make it yourself.

    • Im counting on it darling. It was so awesome meeting you finally IRL! love xx

  • Great dress, looks fab on you 🙂 I’ve never been a big shopper and my wardrobe contains basic pieces I’ve had for years. I like to repurpose stuff and make things I can wear a lot by mixing and matching. Sewing is one of the creative things I do in my limited spare time. If I can make a dress for my little niece out of scraps I have left over then I am delighted because I’ve used up every piece of fabric – I don’t like waste! If I sew something and I know I won’t wear it (I am not good at fitting yet!) then I will turn it into something else. I love making curtains, cushions and crocheted blankets because they get so much use. I had a comment from a male colleague yesterday because he saw a label in the back of my dress – I’ve owned it 5 years, I might try to recreate the style when it’s getting tatty but why would I make it now when I already have one? I asked him if he only ever eats at home because he’s a good cook – the answer, of course, is no! He loves eating in restaurants – sometimes he doesn’t feel like cooking, eating something prepared by someone else inspires his own creativity, occasionally he’s short on time. Sew and wear what you love x

    • exactly! Its so nice to be able to open my heart on those issues i been facing because its so contradictory! I want to sew more, than i want to be more mindful, I need to say No, but i feel honoured to be in the position to say yes. oh well. Life isn’t it!

    • That cooking analogy is perfect, for so many reasons… When a professional makes something for you in the kitchen, you’re often inspired to make it yourself…and maybe slightly differently to suit your own tastes. That’s exactly what dressmaking is to me, a wonderful accompaniment to professional examples, that often inform my decisions on how and what I’ll sew next.
      Hope that makes sense!! 🙂

  • Fab post! I struggle with this too! Honestly though I don’t wear a lot of my sewing creations usually because I made it for the sake of making it.
    I should only sew things that either I’ve found great fabric for or something that challenges me. As for RTW I’ve realised that if I want that simple stretch skirt or that fabulously funky dress then I may as well buy it otherwise I end up torturing myself about find time to make it or getting the right fabric

  • I think your attitude is really sensible. Sew what you want, wear what you want, don’t take on too much and get stressed out about something which you do because you love it.

  • Great post! Definitely nothing wrong with buying something that you love that’s RTW – and that dress looks fab on you! I started sewing partly because I found it difficult to find stuff that I like in the shops, but that doesn’t mean that I never buy RTW anymore. Sewing what you want to sew and wearing what makes you feel good is definitely the right approach!

  • Wow, big hug to you. TOTALLY understand. You know, I learned to sew 40 years ago because I was a fat kid and the clothes I wanted to wear were not available in RTW in my size, and that is how life was for me. When I was able to buy RTW, it was such a huge novelty! It still is! So I am not anti it at all, I like a mixture and I don’t care if when people say, ooh did you make that and I say no, I bought it and they look a bit deflated, I don’t care hehehe.
    I confess there are heap plenty sewing blogs on my blogroll that I never read unless the post sounds like it may be interesting, but so often it is promoting a book, or a pattern test, or something else commercial and I’m not interested. More and more my own blog is about my show biz career, and I’m reading a wider variety of blogs. xo

    • Thanks for the love darling. It means loads from people that been reading me thought the years and followed my evolution as i follow them! Viva the freedom of choice!

    • Absolutely! And you are amazing, and interesting and I hope one day I’ll get to meet you properly xo

  • I actually feel quite passionately about this, as I think it’s healthy to have a bit of diversity and even healthier to be realistic about what we can and cannot/should not achieve. Just because we can sew, doesn’t mean that we have to! Sometimes it just makes sense to buy something rather than make it. If we think about it in terms of other crafts/art forms, it makes perfect sense. For instance, painters might be able to paint anything, but they still might buy someone else’s art to adorn their walls. Give yourself a break and stay sane – just like you are proposing. Rachel 🙂

    • exactly…. I feel its important to say it out loud. People read me and get inspired but only looking a well made wardrobe can show a very unrealistic life style.

  • Great post, and great dress too! I’ve discovered that I can’t make the fitted t shirts I wear all the time, so I’m going to buy them instead of wearing something I’m not happy with. Maybe one day, as I improve. It’s got to be fun!

  • a forget who told me this story, but a chef said to a sewist, “of course it’s silly for you to feel about about buying RTW. do you think a chef never eats anything but his own grub?”

    🙂

    • exactly.. sometimes is nice to share that internal contradictory dialog out loud! xx

  • Good for you. Sewing is a hobby, and you need to enjoy a hobby, not feel pressured by it! It’s good to take a step back every so often and check you are still enjoying what you are doing.

  • I started feeling too commercial and have stopped doing a lot of guest posts promotions giveaways too. I got so burned out. I love your dress and you should never feel guilty . Just because we can sew doesn’t mean we are chained to the machine. Shopping is fun sometimes!

    • so true… i love reading about your evolution.. we all go thought some phases of grow and than reflection…

  • Love this and I agree on so many levels. I’ve been feeling the burn out myself and while I can’t yet bring myself to buy, I do consider it a lot! Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    • you are so inspirational so its so nice to hear you face the same!

  • Rachel, you are just lovely and I agree with you 100%. I came from generations of sewers and I so appreciate that it was passed to me and I am passing to my granddaughter (13) – she loves the art of this medium and of course we both purchase plenty from the market. Showcasing “what you purchase” I think shows great creativity too and must be a part of it too. My granddaughter has a lot of interests but she is very respectful and loves the art of sewing and knitting. I love this blog because it brings balance and lets us know that it is ok. I think we all mix it up LOL You give us great inspiration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • what a lovely comment Nancy, makes me so happy to get that feedback. xx

  • I love this post, Rachel! I have followed your blog since its early days and I even though I don’t comment often I am a big admirer of not only your work, but also of your views, opinions and attitude. Most importantly, I enjoy your blog because it changes, evolves, reflects your personal changes as well. That is what makes a great blogger/blog to me, not a monotonous write up of makes. Loved you Brazil posts btw! Many hugs from Cyprus

  • ah Rachel, thank you for this post sweetie! recently i’ve been wanting to do a post speaking to beginning sewing peeps on an issue similar to this one. As you put it, so many blogs put an unrealistically, even scary type of ideal out there! The beauty of sewing is that each of us gets to do it for ourselves, at whatever level of skill and commitment we want! So we don’t have to just take what ‘the market’ has to offer, we can pick and choose or not participate in part or whole, we can sew anythings from alterations to repurposes to whole garments. We can mix it up however we want!

    But this pressure to have a completely ‘me-made’, perfect couture technique wardrobe….who has the time and energy for that? Well, obviously some people do and have the drive and energy for that and i salute them! But plenty of us want something else, and we should get a salute too (heehee, don’t know if that came out the right way and english is my first and only language!).

    But i hope you get my point. I want be to feel inspired and excited to try their hand, not be intimidated to even try. Rachel, always so happy to read what you have to say and your gorgeous physical self is a fun bonus! Happy Day! steph

    • You put it so lovely, we can pick and choose , support and admire .. all in a realistic manner. i got your point… i wanted to make sure people don’t see me as a sewing factory lol! Im human!

  • I agree with everything said. Be yourself. Enjoy what you do and if you don’t enjoy, do you have to do it (I realise we don’t have absolutely free choice eg paid employment). If I didn’t wear RTW, I’d be naked most of the time! I took up sewing to get clothes to fit that I couldn’t buy in RTW – if I see RTW that fits, I’d certainly buy, in duplicate!

  • I agree with everything said. Be yourself. Enjoy what you do and if you don’t enjoy, do you have to do it (I realise we don’t have absolutely free choice eg paid employment). If I didn’t wear RTW, I’d be naked most of the time! I took up sewing to get clothes to fit that I couldn’t buy in RTW – if I see RTW that fits, I’d certainly buy, in duplicate!

  • Great dress Rachel! I agree with your point of view. Sewing and blogging should be for the sake of fun and creativity not pressure. Keep having fun and sharing that with others.

    • thats exactly the message I want to share. I have been blessed with so many lovely readers and its unrealistic to see only me making this or that all the time.

  • Great post! I also have this problem where people think everything I wear is handmade and when it’s not they look confused!
    I recently ran out of basic black leggings and bought them. I don’t like making stuff that is this basic and I want to put my time and effort into other stuff that’s harder to find in the right size or shape or colour.
    Thanks for you ideas on this matter!

  • I don’t expect someone who sews to make all their clothes, but I understand that some people would. When I made handbags I stopped using bags I didn’t make so I would always have an example with me. Now I’m so excited to look for the perfect bag to buy, but I still think that I should make it when I look at bags in the store.

    • i often get that feeling. Ohh thats great inspiration and go away without the project. I than buy the pattern, the fabric but never get around to making it

  • spot on Rachel. I love your honesty and your desire to empower others and help them feel good about their sewing. All people should be supported and encouraged with their creativity, no matter what their sewing ability is. you look amazing in the dress and wear it with pride. my sewing journey seems to be very focussed at the moment on passing my knowledge on to my friends, and giving them the skills needed to make a few bits and pieces which I find incredibly satisfying. more so than filling my own closet with garments. (which is good also). Looking forward to seeing your seeing journey evolve 😉 xx

  • Well, I’m really glad that you decided to teach on Saturday, because I had am amazing time! The dress is very pretty 😊

  • What a great post! I completely agree! I’m also pretty fet up with offers I get and that the person making the offer is pretending I should feel honoured, but when I read the offer I’m pretty sure they never read a word on my blog. That makes me really sad. Oh well, let’s continue the love for sewing and extras are fun but they have to fit in 🙂

  • Hi Rachel, great blog post, and I love your blog too! Sometimes it just isn’t possible to make everything and there is no reason you should have to! Sewing enables us to make things we like that we cannot find elsewhere but it doesn’t mean we have to make anything and everything! Since I began making me own clothes about 9 months ago, I haven’t bought anything (oh, except underwear and swimwear as I don’t think I could make them!) but that’s not to say I will never buy something again. And since starting my own blog recently, I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to work, sew and blog so I may have to buy something one day if it’s for a specific occasion which I can’t sew something for in time! Keep up the great blog – I love it because it is so unique to you 🙂

  • Thanks for such a thoughtful post. My friends and family also have the expectation that I make everything I wear so when I don’t they seem surprised/shocked/puzzled. I don’t buy RTW too often, always have trouble with fit being as short as I am. But I do buy jeans, underwear, bras, gym clothes. I will also buy anything that I feel I want that fills a gap in the wardrobe or that I can’t copy, or I don’t want to or I can’t get the fabric. After all I sew for enjoyment but also to get what I can’t find in the stores. If I find it in the stores then I go for it 🙂
    I certainly don’t judge you for buying in a store – if it makes you happy, go for it!!

  • Yes yes yes! I hear you! I feel like I have to wear handmade all the time and as much as I would like to, there’s some stuff that I just don’t want to sew (bras, underwear- no way in hell am I going to sew that!). I just bought a jacket in Sweden that, yes, I could’ve sewn myself, but the more I thought about, the more I realized I just didn’t want to sew it (it’s a linen-blend moto jacket with rivets, snaps, and zip details that would be a total pain in the butt to do at home). I could have spent tons and tons of time and probably a good chunk of money replicating the jacket, but I just didn’t want to do it! It was made in Europe so I didn’t feel like it was a sweatshop product and guess what- I love the jacket! We’re not factories, and when sewing becomes joyless, you have to question why you’re doing it. Sew what brings you joy!

  • I agree with everything you’ve said as I have been thinking about this ALOT lately.

  • I’ve been getting a lot of questions – every time I see some people I get asked if my outfit is handmade. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. I agree, they do seem to be disappointed when I’ve not made something I’m wearing – as though by making my own clothes I’ve somehow banned myself from being allowed to buy things again. Um. No.

  • “I don’t want to become a blogger that just keep sharing “the newest whatever’ that seems to be the same to every other similar blog.”

    And, this is why I love your blog! If I’m honest, I often skim past posts that are all featuring garments from the same pattern. I return to those blogs when “regular scheduled programing” resumes. I love seeing variety and point of view. It’s certainly possible for 100 people to make the same pattern 100 different ways, but it doesn’t hold my interest.

  • Great post… and so true. I just want to make stuff I will enjoy making. If I tried to make my entire wardrobe I think I would lose my love for sewing. It is a nice thought and I have said I would in the past but I DO like to do other things and realize that is just too much pressure! Currently I am trying to beef up my own me mades- but I am enjoying every minute of that! But if I saw a super cute dress or something I had to have I would go for it! Especially since sometimes you just can’t find the right fabric to “copy” it! And why should you?! Spend the time to make something creative instead!

  • Great post!! In my opinion the best is to always be true to yourself. If you feel like buying, do it. Making just because you feel you have to, will ruin the fun, but that is just my opinion anyway 😉

  • It’s funny how a hobby or passion can quickly turn into a trap… Something other people expect of us, and are disappointed about if we take a detour from it… For the majority of my life I wasn’t a sewer, then I was. At some point the comments changed from “You made that? Wow!” to “You didn’t make that? Oh…”.
    But we all have the capacity for loving variety, in the kitchen, in the wardrobe, etc! It’s what keeps us appreciative, no? 🙂

  • Hi Rachel, I totally agree with you on keeping your blog about what you want to do. I say no so much more than I say yes now. In the beginning you feel like you should say yes to every opportunity but then like you say all blogs become the same. You want to keep your blog/site unique to the things you love and that’s what makes it special.

  • Love your thoughts always Rachel! This blog is your blog, and I’ve been reading consistently for a while now… and you don’t fail to keep your voice and point of view here. Yes, we don’t have to sew everything in our wardrobe… today I even put down fabric that I was considering for cushion covers because I just don’t want to sew them right now! I don’t even need them! Since having my baby/boy I’ve become very realistic what I want to wear and sew… sometimes it skips around but I feel happy writing my blog the way I want it and sewing what I want to sew! xoxoxo to you