I remember when I started back sewing a little over 4 years ago. I was so excited to find all this fabric and patterns in places that I had no idea they existed. And then I started testing. I felt like I was a cool kid in one of the coolest clubs ever. But now? Now I’m committed to sewing with intention. Why?
Because textile waste is a big thing courtesy of fast fashion.
I want to make sure that I’m doing my part in not contributing to the growing waste that seems to be taking over our planet. And I got tired of making things and feeling like I never had anything to wear.
Sewing Just To Be Sewing
Sewing is one of the most fun and useful hobbies in the world. One minute you have just a piece of fabric and the next minute, you have.a garment or more. And then the sewing community is such a cool one to be part of too,
When I first joined and I was chosen to be a tester in some really amazing pattern brands, I just sewed all the patterns—it didn’t matter if it was my style or not. Same thing with fabric. I racked up more than a thousand dollars on a PayPal line of credit for fabrics that were, in a word, trash.
Between the quality of fabric and the style, it was a waste for me. Luckily, living where I do, donating fabrics to schools is very much so a thing but I wish I knew then what I know now about sewing with intention. The amount of clothes that I made that were just not for me, whew. Mind blowing.
What Does It Mean To Be Sewing With Intention?
This isn’t something that is complicated. I really mean to be intentional about what it is you’re sewing and the fabrics that you’re using. I do think that going through frivolous sewing gets you to being able to do it with intention but the faster you can get to being intentional, the better.
Deciding on colors is something that is super helpful in creating a cohesive and intentional wardrobe. One of the things that I learned was that just because I loved a fabric doesn’t mean that I had to have it because I likely wasn’t going to sew it. Last year, I made the decision to stick with earth tones. I love the mustard, rust, navy, teal colors and how they look on my skin.
When I look to purchase fabrics, I intentionally search for fabrics that are in this color scheme. Pretty much all online fabric shops have the ability to search for the colors of the fabrics that will fit with your wardrobe. This doesn’t mean that you can’t branch out and grab like fuschia but when you do, it’s a statement piece because it’s outside your norm.
This is something that I had to learn. Just because there are new releases all the time doesn’t mean that you have to get every pattern. This is said as someone who owns some obscene amount of patterns—I mean, how many raglan patterns does one really need? But when building out your pattern repository, really pay attention to the clothes you actually wear.
Do you like oversized sweaters? Fitted turtlenecks? Loose sweats? Joggers? There’s a pattern for each of these! Build your pattern database like you would your closet.
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Yesterday I was really feeling myself and sewing. I made 3 pieces to add to my wardrobe and all 3 were timeless classics. And one of them was free! Yep! Helen’s Closet just released the Luna Tank this week.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Helen, the designer behind Helen’s Closet. Her newsletters and round-ups of the new patterns that have dropped recently are my absolute fave. Oh, and she had me on her super dope podcast too. Yeah, I’m a fan.
Helen’s Closet Luna Tank
Ok. Let’s get into this pattern. When I saw it on Helen when she shared her new piece on Instagram, I knew I had to have it. I don’t know what material she used–a rayon blend maybe–but it immediately convinced me I had to have it. This tank is a really flowy and summery staple. It comes in two lengths–a crop and shirt.
Size-wise it’s pretty inclusive. It goes from 0-30. The pattern is only 13 pages and 3 pieces since the same piece is used for the front and the back–these are my fave because it makes cutting so much easier. Instead of banding, this tank uses binding to give it a polished finish though I think you could get away with bands if binding isn’t your thing.
With it being a flowy tank, the fabric choices range from things like bamboo, ITY, rayon blends, modal and the like–something with good drape is a must. I just a double bordered ITY that I fell in love with from Freckle Fabrics. I used to never sew with ITY because I had a bad experience earlier on in my sewing journey. Now? I’m kicking myself.
The minute I saw this, I knew that it had to go with some Bailey Bell Bottoms from Made for Mermaids. I deepened the crotch curve here and added 2 inches in height to the waistband to give me a higher waistband with no wrinkles. Naturally, clogs finished the look. I didn’t put on jewelry but I think a long, statement necklace and oversized post earrings would be perfect.
I love love love this pattern. For it to be a freebie, I really think Helen blew this out of the water. It’s super easy and fast to sew.
This is probably my first year being legit excited about National Sewing Month! I’m not sure what changed between this year and previous years but I’m completely committed to making this National Sewing Month my best yet. Maybe because of Covid and we don’t have much else to do/be excited about.
A Little History On National Sewing Month
On September 21, 1982, President Reagan declared that September was National Sewing Month at the request of the American Home Sewing & Craft Association. This is an industry and trade association that supports the craft and sewing industries. President Reagan declared September as National Sewing Month under Proclamation 4976 “In recognition of the importance of home sewing to our Nation.” How dope is that? But because we didn’t have the internet back then, we don’t really know how it was celebrated during these early years.
In 2004, the Home Sewing Association (formerly the American Home Sewing & Craft Association) commissioned a new logo. There were a couple more logo changes–including one this year as well! There’s a website that celebrates National Sewing Month as well! There’s more in-depth history on the website if you’re into that sort of thing.
2020 National Sewing Month Theme…
I’m super excited about this year’s theme. For those that don’t know, I run TheCrunchyMommy.com which is a site that serves as a practically green guide to millennial moms on the go. This year’s focus is leaving fast fashion behind while investing time and creativity into sewing your own clothes. This year’s theme is as a result of the wake-up call of the environmental and human impact of fast fashion.
Something great to do this month is jump into upcycling clothes or reusing some items that you already have so that you can reduce textile while creating something new. Grabbing some old sheets and turning them into new jammies or a dress or whatever is an idea. While I think that thrifting is a good idea, I’m not really partial to grabbing plus sized clothes to turn them into smaller things because there’s already a low amount of plus-sized clothing available to thrift.
So What Can You Expect From The Needle And The Belle?
I have some goals for myself this month outside of the theme. Since Covid hit, I’ve had one foot out of the community. It’s been hard for me focus on really connecting during this time because honestly, I feel like I’ve barely been keeping my head above water. So I’m using this time to reconnect to my love of sewing and pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone.
Here are my goals:
Make daily blog posts here.
Sew 2 new bras.
Hit 10K on my Instagram.
Create a sustainable plan for teaching.
Alright friends! That is all! I’m excited to hear from you too–what are your goals for this month?
I didn’t want to lie and make it seem like my Reed Trousers were a success. They were not and I have A LOT of feelings surrounding this. This was my first month and time leading the Sew My Style Challenge and I was really excited. When I was asked to lead, I had all these great ideas and I was prepared to take MY BIRTHDAY MONTH by storm.
But then I met the Reed Trousers and it went to hell.
What Happened With The Reed Trousers?
Let me preface this by saying there will be complete honesty here. So let’s get into it.
The Pattern Pieces Had Errors
This wasn’t as much of an issue. I’ve been sewing for long enough to be able to pivot when needed. The front piece for the trousers was labelled as the back. The tutorial referenced using interfacing for the welt pockets but the welt pocket pieces didn’t reflect needing to cut them out. When you print out the pattern, page 1 didn’t print in order. **Spoiler alert: It does print but it comes out between pages 18 & 19 of the pattern.
The Tutorial Didn’t Make Sense (To Me)
I’m pretty smart. I read directions fairly well and when I still can process it, I utilized Google because, well, we all should. When it came for the welt pockets, I looked up this video that was helpful because as I was reading the directions, I just didn’t get how this was supposed to work from the tutorial. Same with the zipper install. I read the instructions an obscene amount of times, installed the zipper a million times only to have to seam tear an equal amount.
And In Conclusion…
Countless hours later accompanied by many tears and a little blood, I have my first unfinished garment in my sewing history. This is the first pattern that has stumped me so much that I couldn’t complete it. I’ve made trousers before for myself and I could have deferred to those instructions but I wanted to follow the tutorial and complete it that way. The Reed Trousers were a big fail for me and I’m still sitting in frustration because they were going to be a birthday present for my husband.
Also, in complete transparency, the pattern designer did let me know to reach out if I had questions or needed help. I didn’t. Why? Because the tutorial ideally should have been something anyone could follow and I’m not a beginner sewist. If you’re looking to make men’s trousers, I don’t recommend these unless some updates are made.
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I’ve sewn quite a few things for my husband since I’ve been regularly sewing. I’ve made him some shirts, hoodies, undies, and socks. But now I’m ready to take on a new challenge for him: the Reed Trousers from Laela Jayne. I’m not going to lie: this is a bit intimidating for me. Making pants that fit me can be a challenge but making them for someone else’s body that’s nothing like mine?
But it’s also forced me to go back to the basics of sewing versus getting into my head. I know how to measure properly. I know how to grade patterns. And I know fabric–which is where I’m starting first.
Choosing Fabric For The Reed Trousers
My husband will be the first to share a judgmental glance when I huff and puff about not having fabric. Friends, I have ALL.THE.FABRIC–just none for men’s trousers! One of my biggest fears in sewing for others is that they won’t wear this garment that I’ve put my blood (yes, often a little big), sweat and tears into. So fabric choice for these is huge.
The pattern calls for bottom-weight fabric like twill, denim, corduroy or any suiting. Because we’re basically getting dressed with nowhere to go, comfort is key here. And also, he’s kinda picky. Any pizazz in his wardrobe has been as a result of his colorful wife lol.
I hit up Fabric.com to check out their options and these are some of my favorites that I found:
Gabardine Suiting in Black
Heather Wool Blend
Gabardine Solid Blue
Italian Tropical Wool
Black Polyester Twill
Navy Blue Polyester Twill
Now I’m absolutely loving this brushed twill. The color is everything and brushed everything is soft. But I’ve also made a couple pieces for my son and daughter in the camo and I think it would be cute for them to match daddy. So we’ll see…
What fabric option would you choose for your spouse or self?
My name is Aaronica and I'm the sewist behind The Needle and the Belle. I started sewing when I was 13 and then fell back in love with sewing through PDF patterns. I now document my pieces I make here!