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.
Today I accidentally went down the rabbit hole of sewing apps that have the sole purpose of organizing your stashes–both fabric and patterns. Friends. I never would have thought to have my sewing stuff organized on my phone but after looking at the apps, it makes so much sense. I have fabric stored in my sewing space, random bins and then my garage and honestly, I don’t know everything I have! But an app that would keep my fabric swatches together without me having to cut anything?
Sewing Apps That Keep Your Stashes Organized
Sewing Patterns Lite
This app allows you to keep track of all your patterns. You can keep the pictures of the patterns, rate them based on difficulty, categorize them based on outerwear, bottoms, etc. Not just that, but you can also store how much yardage you need for each pattern too.
All About Fabrics
This app is really cool because it can automatically calculate the right amount of material you need for any piece, shares information about different fabric types AND finds the nearest fabric store!
This app can keep track of all your fabrics, threads, notions, and patterns. You can take pictures with your camera and upload or use saved images.
This app doesn’t organize your fabric BUT it does offer some loose definitions of the fabrics which is sew good.
Ok, so this isn’t a sewing specific app but it offers PEAK organization for your patterns. Have you ever accidentally purchased the same pattern more than once? This app can track all your patterns for you!
This is probably my favorite one on the list. It’s actively maintained and new releases are still coming out. In this app you can do so much including keeping your patterns, projects and fabrics organized WITH due dates when necessary!
Are you using sewing apps? Drop your faves for me!
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that the CDC has recently recommended that people leave the house with facial coverings. While there are a bunch of people that are still doubting the effectiveness of a cloth mask, it’s one of the recommendations that the CDC is making. Many people I know have sewing machines that they don’t use so go ahead dust that baby off so you can follow this super easy cloth mask tutorial.
5 Minute Cloth Mask Tutorial
This tutorial is for the easiest mask to make which is the accordion style. This style fits both adults and children and after watching numerous videos, I also covers the N95 masks with ease. This mask also features:
Two layers of cloth
A pocket opening for filters
Straps that tie
Twill/Bias tape/Long piece of t-shirt material
Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
Cut your fabric to measure 15 x 10.
Fold over in half with right sides together and mark 3 inches from either end (at the 3in & 7in spots).
Sew the bottom piece leaving the 4in open. This will create our pocket.
Flip the right sides out and have the pocket facing up.
Create 3 pleats on each side and pin in place. Your mask should measure 2.5 inches now.
Sew these pleats in place by stitching from top to bottom. Clip these ends with shears.
Fold the short edge over creating a casing for the ties. Sew in place and repeat with the other side.
Press the mask.
Insert the ties by threading the tie from the top down and the down up.
All done! Your mask is ready to wear!
Where To Source Materials
Right now, materials are suuuuper hard to come by. People are buying cotton, elastic, bias tape like hot fire. I got the twill used in this tutorial from So Sew English and last I checked they had hundreds of yards left in stock. You can also use elastic hair ties or shoe laces too. I’ve been cutting my ties at 45in minimum for adults and a yard for children.
How to Use and Care For
It’s important to note that these masks are will not protect against viruses at all. They provide a barrier making it harder for it to reach you but these masks should not be used in place of the recommended social distancing when you are sick. These masks work great for cutting grass, allergies, and normal dust by themselves. To add an extra layer of protection and filtration, HEPA filters are a great option to cut up and put inside of them.
Please make sure to wash your masks often as these will store germs. They should be washed between wears and handled with clean hands.
Happy New Year friends! 2019 was filled with SO much sewing–I tried to put together one of those nifty grids that showed all my sews and, well, it took a really long time to get through. I got up to some 150 sews and I was barely halfway through. Amidst all of my sewing, I was also doing some pretty cool things–including being invited to be a 2020 Sew My Style (SMS) Leader!
2020 Sew My Style (SMS)
This year Sew My Style (SMS) is being more intentional about including the face of all sewists–including more inclusive sizing, different cuts, and styles that support different fits. Just like how the world is changing, so is that of sewing and it’s something that should be reflected in SMS. This year’s head leader, Paulette, has been intentional about choosing leaders, patterns and more that make ALL of us feel welcomed.
What Is SMS?
Sew My Style is an online sewing challenge. Each month we all sew up one of two patterns and then show off our garments together on the last day, as one community.
It’s also one of the longest-running sewing challenges, having started in 2017 and run continuously since then thanks to a number of volunteer vloggers and bloggers.
Originally it was called Project Sew My Style and started by Alex Bartholomew to raise awareness about the slow fashion industry movement and encourage young women to take up sewing.
Since then, the online sewing community has grown tremendously and standards of inclusivity and diversity have evolved.
The challenge is no longer focused on a small segment of the sewing population. Instead, we actively encourage participation from all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, and genders. The make-up of the 2020 leadership team of sewing bloggers and vloggers reflects this evolution.
So yeah, it’s a super dope YEAR LONG sewing challenge.
Why I Decided To Join SMS
Full disclosure: Before Paulette told our House of Curves group that she was going to be taking over the responsibility of the challenge, I didn’t know what it was. I volunteered because I really respect her and was looking forward to something that would get me out of my sewing comfort zone. And then I got excited about the patterns. Then I got excited about the things I could do with the patterns.
And then I got excited because I get to represent some amazing people. Being a plus-sized black woman in an area that doesn’t always welcome us can be hard. It doesn’t feel good to not see myself in patterns, fabrics and represented in an area I love. But this is rapidly changing and I’m happy.
I’m pretty excited to be sharing this here first. I’m launching a monthly box of goodies that are both hand-crafted and hand-selected by yours truly.
This is NOT subscription box as it will not be put on auto-ship but this is a box that can be purchased monthly. I’ve been wanting to have a box for some time now and I’ve finally settled on what I wanted it to be. Whenever I share pictures of pieces that I’ve made, people tend to want the exact thing that I’ve made but I’ve run out of that fabric! Some people have even just remarked that they love my fabric choice and would want me to just style them.
This box will be a happy medium of both of these things here. And I really hope that it’s loved by all!
Ok Aaronica, I’m excited… Give me the deets now!
These are still being ironed out as we speak BUT here is what we’ve got so far:
Box contents will include the following:
1 custom piece made by me
Between 3-5 of my favorite artisan items. These will range from body butters to washes to wax melts and more
Things that I think you’ll love
Pre-selling starts right away
There will be 10 boxes for the first month
Depending on how thee boxes sell, there will be a waitlist
All boxes will be shipped out by mid month
Hashtags to track and share what’s in the boxes will be provided in the box but will include #AaronicasBoxOfFaves
This is what I have for now. Once I figure out how to get WooCommerce up and running on this site, I’ll be posting the boxes for purchase! #LettucePray they sell out so I’m motivated to do this again!
Want to be kept abreast of what’s going on with Aaronica’s Box of Faves? Sign up for the mailing list and you’ll be notified of what’s going on with the boxes!
Up until last year, I didn’t know PDF patterns were a thing. The very first pattern that I bought were the Peg Legs by Patterns for Pirates. I struggled trying to piece together the pattern and my stubbornness wouldn’t let me watch their YouTube video on the ease of putting it together. As Hancock Fabrics was going out of business, I stocked up on all the traditional patterns I could.
And I haven’t used not one of them.
Bye Bye Traditional Patterns
I’ve tried to use traditional patterns since I started sewing over 20 years ago. Geez… I feel really old all of a sudden but I digress… Back then I couldn’t understand the directions and when I started back up sewing 10 years ago I tried again with all the easy patterns only to find myself lost amidst thousands of pieces and terrible directions to create a semi-mediocre piece of clothing.
The sad thing is to this day, I can still count on one hand how many things I’ve successfully made from using a traditional pattern. Even though with the help of Hancock Fabrics I now have some 100+ traditional patterns, I still refuse to use them. Ok, not all of them. I will use the Kwik Sew patterns because they’re made of a thicker paper so it’s not so hard to cut out. Their directions are also way easier to follow than most others.
The main reason I don’t like the traditional patterns is because once you cut your size you’re using, that’s it. Sure if you’re experienced you can grade out but if you’re a lazy seamstress like myself, this sucks. In this moment, I’m wearing plus sized maternity but this is about to change. I do plan on getting smaller and traditional patterns just don’t account for size changes in women or children.
PDF Patterns Are Bae
Ok so I struggled through my first one and possibly my second one but now? I’m like expert level at piecing together these patterns. It only takes me about 15 minutes to put together and cut out the pattern to use. The best part about these is as my family and I change sizes, I can always reprint so I don’t lose my favorite clothing!
PDF patterns are also tested on the everyday woman–all of us. I love being able to be part of a community of PDF sewists and get questions answered from the pattern designers or other experts. You don’t get that with the traditional patterns. And the instructions are always so much easier to follow. All the tester groups I’m apart of have been intentional about making patterns easy to understand for all levels of sewing.
If you’re struggling to get started in the sewing arena I totally recommend ditching the traditional patterns and going the PDF way. Not sure if you want to make the investment? Most PDF designers offer freebies for joining their groups!
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!