I swear… 2020 was the biggest clusterfuck in the world but you know what else? It also served some amazing lessons. My biggest one was in being more intentional about my energy. This is something that I talked about briefly over on my main site TheCrunchyMommy.com. But it’s also really been eye-opening for me to think through what that looks like here, on this site.
Sewing has been one of the things that has brought me so much joy. I love being able to create something from nothing and have it be really functional. It just really does something to my spirit. But is it just going to stay a hobby or should this be a business?
This is the question I don’t know the answer too. I’m not sure if it’s my imposter syndrome or what but I really wonder if this could be something bigger than a hobby for me. I love creating. I even love making things for others once I get past the anxiety…
Getting into some updates
I have time to decide since I need my life to settle a little more…
It Never Fails That When You’re Ready To Move On Something, The Universe Pauses You
Friends, after 2020 I was really hoping for a smooth transition into 2021. But alas, smooth has yet to come. We got COVID 19 at the beginning of the year. We were lucky because either it was a mild strain or the non-stop stream of information on how to beat COVID was effective in how we treated it. Either way, we weren’t down for long.
Then February my oldest turned 11 (yay!!!) and we had an opportunity to settle before March 1 when my landlord told us we had 60 days to vacate the house we’ve been living in for almost 3 years. Fun times. So now we’re in the process of buying a house and getting moved in and we have less than 30 days to wrap this process up. But once that’s done, I have some serious goals for myself:
Finish my Pattern Making Course
I don’t know if this means I’ll be coming out with my own line of patterns or what but this is a skill I want to have mastered.
Blog Here Regularly
I love this space and community that I’ve created here on the Needle and the Belle and this is something that I want to continue to grow and foster. Like I want to be a force in the craft world.
Decide If This Is For Money Or Hobby
I need to make that decision so that I can really be intentional about the energy that I’m applying. In my head, I want to be the plus-size, Black version of MimiG.
Thanks for continuing to show up here even when I haven’t! 2021 is going to be the best year–just as soon as I get settled!
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It’s time for another #SMS2020 Sew! This month I’m excited to be sewing the Dionne Duster from my friends Sew Altered Style. They are the designers behind one of my favorite Misty Tank that I hacked after I tested it. I haven’t made this duster yet and honestly, I’m not sure why because Macharva’s pictures of hers are always swoon-worthy!
Choosing The Fabric For The Dionne Duster
The beauty of dusters is that they can literally be made from anything. The fabric choice will determine the fit and feel of them as well as how dressy or casual they are. Because we’re currently in COVID19 times, I’m basically living in comfort. Sure, I’m sewing some other things outside of the cardigans, sports bras and leggings that I’m living in but even those are PEEK comfort.
My Favorite Cozy Fabrics
French Terry is basically my favorite fabric. I could live in the coziness that it brings forth. There are different blends (polyester, cotton, jersey) and then there’s also brushed. Brushed means that one side of the fabric has been “brushed” making it super soft.
I found out about Oakley in 2019 from So Sew English. It’s a form of sweater knit that feels like the love child between French Terry and Double Brushed Polyester. It is so soft and warm and cozy and it doesn’t pill.
Confession: I don’t love the way hacci feels on my skin. It’s almost scratchy? But brushed hacci? Whew! Now this is soft and cozy and is perfect for both tops and bottoms. The brushed form of hacci is definitely on my list!
I love wearing waffle fabric but I don’t really love sewing with it. I know… How can you love it and hate it at the same time. But for some reason keeping it together while I’m sewing is hard with some waffle blends. But the softer ones? I love!
Because I want to wear this sweater often, choosing a fabric that will be easily worn with like, everything, is important! So… here are some of the fabrics I’m looking at:
Brushed Black French Terry
Brushed Sweater Knit
Mustard Rib Sweater Knit
Can you see my theme here???
So tell me, what fabric do you think I should go for with my Dionne Duster? Or maybe I should mix things up and do something totally different!
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?
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!