Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Blog anniversary and give away

Well - I have turned one and what a year it has been.

Sewing wise - not great. When I started sewing a year ago I had envisaged a wardrobe bulging at the seams with newly stitched garments .......

and friends / family and strangers ooing and aahing over my outfits and fabrics.....

I have planned various capsules and spent so much time fantasizing over these luscious plans.

Hmmm....  who would have thought that this sewing gig is so hard!

I was naive at the beginning (knowing nothing about sewing) and thought that you bought magic patterns that came in their little envelopes - delivered straight to your door - you unpack them, throw them gracefully onto a  cutting table, slice through your lovely fabric - take it to the machine where, within mere minutes, it is magically transformed into couture works of fabric art.

I purchased fabulous machines that work hard (not their fault), glorious fabric by the ton; patterns; more fabric; notions; DVDs etc etc etc

Not only was this naive of me - but doesn't acknowledge the years and years of experience it takes to produce the beautiful outfits I have seen on blogs that I follow.

Who knew that patterns rarely fit straight out of the packet - add to that the challenges an apple shape puts on a dress, top or even worse - pants. Who would have thought that an outfit that looks smashing on the twigs on the envelope would have you wanting to smash the mirror when worn on your bod!

How do RTW get it right? Can you imagine going into a shop and looking for the rack that has a sign - clothes for full busted, short waisted, round stomached, deep crotched, flat bottomed, round shouldered, sway backed, hump backed, large biceped, thick necked people. And that would be just the one rack! I would be happy with labels for pear, apple column etc but no luck.

I even tried the Pattern Master software where you put in your own measurements and it spits out a pattern especially done to your measurement - nuh! - I will post about it after I see if I can save the dress.

This is what I ended up with instead of the bulging wardrobe:


Now this is not a whinge fest - I have had so much fun - even with the wadders (some shown on the blog - some didn't even make the photo shoot) and am happily celebrating one year of not only blogging - but sewing.

One of the reasons that I am celebrating is the wonderful sewing people I have met and virtually met during the year. You know I reached out to the sewing world with my recent purchase of my overlock / coverstitch 744 machine looking for a video and I had pictures sent to me; links sent to me for You-tube videos of a similar machine and 2 lovely ladies sent me copies of their DVD. One lovely lady (Barbara) included tips and photos of threading she had taken of the machine and a couple of darning needles to help me with releasing the thread and the other lovely lady (Sandra) sent me a list of tips too. These are people I have never met or spoken with before. I have met some lovely people at my local sewing group - some of whom have blogs I have been following (like meeting rock stars!!), I have learnt from the many tutorials and the people who are so giving of their time and knowledge. The generosity of this global sewing community is amazing.

Most of all I have appreciated the encouragement, wisdom and advice I have been given by fellow sewists.

So - I would like to give back.

I have 2 things on offer.

For the artistic amongst us (not me!!!) I have a fashionary sketch book. Let your inner artist / designer loose. Follow the link to have a better look (and you can also download a sample to try from their site) NB! I purchased this a little while ago so it might be an older version.


For those non artistic amongst us (or those just not interested in design) - I have a pattern from Hot Patterns - Deco Vibe Sarine knit dress and top (sizes 6 - 26 in one envelope) Advanced Beginner level.

I am happy to post anywhere.

Simply leave a comment on this post by the end of the year - indicating which of the 2 give-aways you want and I will draw out a name for each on Jan 1st.

As this blog was started for me to journal my sewing progress I am going to finish with just a few (well maybe several) of the new things I have learnt this year.

  1. How to do a full bust adjustment and other pattern alterations - I actually enjoy the process now. There is something so satisfying about cutting into the paper and sticking more paper on - ending up hopefully - with a much better fitting garment.
  2. In line with the above - sewing is like house painting - 80% of the effort and time should go into preparation. (I made up the 80% in line with Pareto's Principles - I don't really know what percentage!!!!!)
  3. Your foot control isn't a surrogate for a car accelerator - slow down - beautiful garments won't magically appear the faster you go! Sometimes I think I need a sewing cop in the vicinity to give me a ticket - you can tell by my seams - straight - no!
  4. I love machine feet - the more the merrier. 
  5. Starting to learn to look at pattern lines on the packet instead of the pretty pictures. This goes hand in hand with starting to learn what suits me - still a way to go with this.
  6. How to use the gelatin method to make sewing with sheer easier (thanks Lena)
  7. Be careful to test the fabric you are using for stretch - different stretch capacity will really affect your outfit
  8. What my colours are
  9. That the sewing community is fantastic

Slow down and take it easy

Some of my fave bloggers are posting on their most worn self sewn items of 2012. Let's hope that next year I will have enough to do that!!

What will 2013 bring? Some plans:

  • Artisans Square SWAP
  • Jungle January courtesy of Prttynpnk at Pretty Grievances
  • Maybe one pattern many looks competition on Sewing Pattern Review - depends on the rules as it will need to fit my plans with my SWAP
  • Doing zips, buttons and trying the corded buttonholes Sharon from Petite and Sewing was kind enough to demonstrate for me
  • Collars
  • Craftsy courses - tailored shirt and pants fitting
I think that is ambitious enough for now.

Finally - I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.


  1. Yay! As a fellow apple, I want that pattern! It looks very potentially flattering. Thanks for the giveaway. Also, keep plugging away at it all. I find every wadder I make also teacher me a hugely valuable lesson.

  2. Please enter me in the drawing for the sewing pattern. You know I need more!

  3. Happy Blogiversary!!!! As I read your post I had to laugh, your past year has obviously been a year full of fun and learning all the way. And I love the pile-of-wadders photo...don't we all have this pile hidden away in the dark of our sewing rooms??? Just sit back in the sewing chair and enjoy the ride in 2013. Since I fall into the 'non artistic' of sewers, I would love to be in the draw for the dress pattern, please. Enjoy the rest of the Christmas season to its best...J

    1. Bea Jay - you asked about the cardi I was wearing in my post! I am a knitter (much slower than sewing) but no, this one I didn't make. But it would be an easy style to adapt to a basic cardi pattern. The wool is a summer weight. It starts with about 5 rows of ribbing, followed by just under a 1/2 of the finished length in garter stitch (though you could do a seed stitch, or other simple fancy stitch). Then knit as normal for the rest. The front band is knitted into the main pieces (3 stitches continued from the rib), then decreased around the chest/neck area. And the same pattern style is used for the sleeves - I have nearly just convinced myself to attempt to make one myself!!! I have some Patons Sorrento lying around...

  4. What a great post for your 1st year anniversary. Such a busy year you have had. I can't wait to share 2013 with you too. Season's greetings to you and yours.
    PS please put me in the draw for the pattern.

  5. You've come a long way in 1 year. It's been great meeting you BJ and I hope to sew with you in 2013.
    Happy blogiversary!!

  6. Happy anniversary Bea Jay! You've had a terrific year, and I'm sure the next year will be even more wonderful, with lots of successes and Not One Single wadder at all!
    Thanks for the giveaway offers, but no entry for me thank you :)

  7. Its been great reading your blog, you have come so far in the last year and have made some great tops, can' wait to see what you make next year! I agree about the sewing community too - everyone is just so friendly!
    Please enter me in for the fashionary sketch diary (I am not artistic at all but it looks like a great idea for sketching garment ideas!)

  8. BeaJay - I love your view on the sewing world and wished we lived close enough to be able to encourage each other IRL. You know we are always learning with sewing, so even though you feel a beginner we really are all in the same boat - I am still learning all the time.
    just to take part of the fun, put me in the draw for the pattern. I hope we can keeping hearing about your sewing progress in 2013. *hugs*

  9. Happy anniversary and thanks for offering this great giveaway. If I was the lucky winner, I would love the pattern - I've recently taken the Sewing with Knits course on Craftsy and am keen now to extend my knits wardrobe. Thanks.

  10. Hi BeeJay - Great blog entry. I did/am doing teh Susan Kaljie Craftsy course - I learned so much from it. I have yet to do the whole dress - but I have watched all the videos and practiced many of the techniques used in it. I think it helps a lot with fitting. I ahve a lot of your same fitting issues - but in a pear shape! I can so relate. I am also doing the SWAP this year - I have a desperate need for clothes for me! (I often end up sewing a lot for everyone else.) That is a great place to really work on developing a few TNT patterns. I have a TNT skirt pattern - and am now on a quest for a TNT top and pants. I hope to perfect those through doing the SWAP. Once you have some TNT's it makes sewing a lot more satisfying - you have items that fit well - and when you make a wadder (we all do at tiems), you can then do a TNT to feel better again.

    I can't decide between the pattern or the sketch diary - I guess enter me in for the sketch diary please. I have a sewing student that would love using that!!


  11. Happy 1st birthday Beejay, love your enthusiasm to your new hobby and watching you progress. Totally agree with Sue we are all learning all the time. Please enter me for the pattern draw.
    Merry Christmas
    Louise x

  12. Looking forward to seeing your SWAP when it's done! And I'd love to be in the draw for the sketchbook. :D

  13. Oh I love the 'un-artsy' pattern. I love how honest, yet not down on yourself you are. Sewing is hard, the learning curve is long - I feel like I'm still constantly learning. g

  14. BeeJay, Happy blogaversary. You have come a long way and it seems to me you've learnt a lot. I admire bloggers that share their frustrations as well as their successes and you are one of them.
    P's Please put me in the draw for that pattern. I hadn't even seen it before!
    Merry Christmas, Val.

  15. Happy 1st! I've enjoyed this travel with you and can't wait to see more- perhaps a cheetah with a full bust adjustment!

  16. Congratulations on your year of blogging!! What a brilliant blog. Your blogs are always filled with whit and from the heart. You really must have progressed the most, both as a blogger and sewer this year than anyone I've ever read. I agree with your #5, photos on patterns are so deceptive. One outfit I made recently, I thought I must have made it incorrectly because the waist wasn't at my waste as shown in the sketches.

    I have come to realize that buying the fabric, patterns, designing and dreaming is the important creative part and it doesn't matter if I don't make the item I have envisioned. Fabric is so easy to give to others or eventually dream about using it in another way and wadders teach us so much and can usually be changed somehow or completely forgotten about so easily, LOL.

    The sketch book looks wonderful.

    Hugs, Jean

  17. Enter me in for the sketchbook please! I've had my eye on one for awhile...a great Christmas gift!

  18. Hi Beajay, just followed your link from Stitchers Guild and landed here. I'll pass on both the sketch book (not artsy type) and the pattern (which will accentuate my full tummy!) :) but just wanted to drop a line saying I loved reading your blogpost on your progress.

  19. Congratulations on your blogiversary. I hope I get to sew more wearable items too next year. I have had my share of wadders.
    Throw my name in the hat for sketch book. I have given up on sewing with knits with my machine, the main reason for several wadders. Wishing you happy holidays and a fabulous sewing 2013.

  20. Happy anniversary !i like a Sketchbook

  21. Hi Beajay ! Happy Blogversary! I'm glad I found your blog. I don't want to enter the give-away. I just wanted to say hello and read all the past post. You are so witty and full of determination. Happy New Year!

  22. Congratulations on surviving your first year of sewing. I am still learning and always hope to, make it more interesting. Looking forward to sewing with you in 2013. (No entry for me please).

  23. Hi, I just found your blog. I followed you here from Pretty Grievances (which I love). I'm enjoying your blog very much also. I am very much a beginning sewer, though as I like to say, an aspirational one! I bought myself a sewing machine for Christmas--a very nice but not too complicated Janome. I love it. I think I'm a lot like you were a year ago--perhaps a little naive about the difficulty, but full of enthusiasm. I've got a lot to learn. I was interested in your comments about RTW. Having spent so much time complaining about the fit of RTW garments, perhaps I should rather be surprised that they fit as well as they do, given the many shapes of bodies in the world! Now that I'm a sewer (well, sort of), I can stop complaining about that and focus on complaining about the lack of proper fabric available where I live. (Ha.) It's a serious problem. Quilting cottons? They're everywhere--hundreds of choices. Anything else? Forget it. I guess when I get better at sewing I will have to buy online, but it's a bit of a problem at the moment, as I'm not experienced enough to know exactly what I need, or guess the weight of the material, etc. Anyway, congratulations on your one year anniversary! I'm enjoying reading your entries.

    1. Leigh - I am glad you found my blog - welcome. I had a look at your profile to see if you had a blog so that I could visit and respond but didn't see one.

      My first machine was a nice but not too complicated Janome (got to love those Janomes) and is still my main machine - I have since added an overlocker and a coverstitch.

      The main thing I have learnt this year is that every garment is a step forward - even if it is a wadder - as I have learnt something else.

      Good luck on your journey and if you do decide to create a blog to journal - please pop back and let me know.

    2. P.S. - Hail to Queen Anne - Petty Grievances is such a great blog - isn't it.


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