Looking back, over my shoulder

Wow, it’s the end of 2017 already. Where did the year go?! No seriously, I’m genuinely concerned that my life is whizzing past this quickly. Last Christmas seems like five minutes ago and here we are faced with another one.

A lot has happened in the past year for me, sewing-wise. This time last year, I was planning the launch of Wanderstitch. Yep, this blog is almost one year old – it’s my first blog-versary! Yay! And what a year it’s been. I’ve learned a lot – some of it the hard way. Actually, most of it the hard way, but that’s the best way to learn, right?!

The very first Wanderstitch blog post went live in January this year, and I never imagined what it was to be the start of. I was, to put it bluntly, persistently nagged for several months to start this blog – but I’m thankful for the gentle push/violent shove into the world of blogging and social media. It’s connected me with so many wonderful people and it’s challenged me to better myself and push through the barriers of my comfort zone.

Sewing can be a very solitary hobby – it’s just you, the fabric and the machine. It’s not exactly the most portable thing, so you don’t (as much) get the easy benefits of crafting on your commute or a knitting circle down the pub on a Tuesday evening. You can’t just rock up to your local with your sewing machine, overlocker and tools asking where the nearest power supply is – and if you have done this, RESPECT.

But when you become a part of the social media sewing community, you’re suddenly no longer on your own – there are strangers and people who you’ve never met that will help out when you’re stuck, celebrate with you when your invisible zip is actually invisible, and laugh with you when you realise you’ve cut out your bodice piece upside down or placed some unfortunate design element right over your boob.

Starting this blog has not only helped me improve with my sewing, it’s also helped my husband develop his photography skills – he has always been a keen picture-taker, but as Wanderstitch’s Head of Photography (yep, official self-designated title) he’s learnt so much about how to fully use his camera and some of the photos we have on the blog are – even if I do say so myself – bloody awesome. It’s still a slightly bizarre experience to see so many pictures of me in one place, though.

I will admit to being blissfully ignorant of the level of commitment I needed to give to having a blog, though – it’s so much more of a time-suck than I anticipated. Not that I’m complaining mind you, I really love it, it just took me by surprise a little. I’m still trying to find my flow with writing posts – when I started out, I would draft the post early in the week and then slowly finalise it as the Sunday publish date rolled around – sometimes finishing it off in a mild state of panic last thing on a Saturday night. I’d stick to one post a at a time, too. When one was published, I’d move on to the next one. Now though, I have any number of posts on the go – at this point in time I have nine drafts. Nine! I find it easier to set up a draft post each time I start a new sewing project, that way I can update it every so often with things that I notice as the garment slowly comes to life. I set my blogging schedule at once a week when I started this blog and I’m still going strong – every Sunday, 8am London time, you’ll see my next instalment land in your inbox. I love reading all your comments on my posts so keep ’em coming!

So what did 2017 bring to the table?

SMILEY FACE HIGHLIGHTS:

Starting this blog was a massive highlight of 2017, obvs.

Sewing-wise, I did a couple of guest posts for the Minerva Crafts blog, and was then offered a regular place on their Blogger Network  – woo! As a guest blogger I made a fern print maxi dress and also a Kielo dress with the most AMAZING Ganesha fabric:

My first posts as an official, fully-fledged member of the Blogger Network were the Sew House Seven Alberta Street skirt and also a dog coat for my little furkid Leela.

You know I’m a Deer and Doe fangirl, so I was super-excited when they asked me if I would like to be one of the first to sew up their re-release of the Bleuet dress – which I did in an Alexander Henry fabric. I totally love how this turned out, and I threw in some leather accents for an added bit of goth-ness 🙂

Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress Alexander Henry Heart of Darkness Fabric

Shortly after this, Deer and Doe then featured a little Q&A with me on their website, as I’ve made a fair few of their patterns!

2017 saw me make my first winter coat for the husband – by far the most complicated thing I’ve sewn to date, and it was classed as an ‘advanced’ Vogue pattern which made me feel all proud that I’d managed to make it (and successfully, too!). I also worked with sequins for the first time. The memory of removing the sequins from the seam allowance is still pretty raw, and I don’t think I’ll be doing it again in a hurry, but I’d like to make something else sparkly in the future because, well, they so pretttttty 🙂

V8940 Purple Double Breasted Mens Coat

Vogue Badgley Mischka V1534 black satin and gold sequin dress

I was totally honoured to be featured in the first issue of ‘Sewn’ magazine, which was launched in November. If you haven’t yet checked it out, do! It’s a sewing mag that features a whole range of diverse makers from all over the world. It’s a printed magazine and they ship internationally – so what are you waiting for! Pre-orders for issue two are now being taken over on their website.  Definitely good competition to some of the (let’s face it, pretty old-fashioned and dull) sewing mags we have here in the UK…

AND THE SAD FACE LOWS…

  • Figuring out, from scratch, just how you work WordPress, how you optimise your site so it’s not hideously slow, and how to fix it when it has problems (multiple, frequent problems in my case for the first few months before I changed hosting provider – long story short: Stay Away From FastHosts).
  • Making the Trevi dress to realise that it absolutely, 100% did NOT suit my shape – this was a real learning curve in realising I NEED A WAISTBAND. Lesson learned that just because something looks good on the model on the envelope, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT WILL LOOK GOOD ON ME.  It’s not all bad though as at least I now know what sort of designs to stay away from. The husband told me that the one I made looked like a hospital gown, and in all fairness it totally did.
  • Buying some nice fabric and making the Deer and Doe Melilot blouse, only to realise that yes I liked the fabric but it doesn’t suit me as clothing. Peach is a colour that doesn’t feature anywhere else in my wardrobe, and it seems that there’s a good reason for that. Deer and Doe Melilot blouse

 

So these things aren’t really ‘lows’ as such I guess, more #FirstWorldProblems in the grand scheme of things. They did help me to develop as a sewist and figure out what colours, styles and patterns suit me. Saying that, it’s always disappointing to put time and effort into making something and then have to chalk it up to experience because it hasn’t quite turned out how you hoped.

OTHER STUFF THAT HAPPENED IN 2017

2017 was also the year that I finally upgraded my sewing machine, after using a basic model that my Mum bought me for my 16th birthday. I used this machine for 16 years – and during that time she passed away – so the decision to upgrade it was a difficult one as it held sentimental value for me. It was a Brother XL-5022. Proper retro! I stayed with the Brother brand, and I bought a Brother Innov-is F420. OH MY GOD. It’s like driving an old banger your whole life and then suddenly being given a Ferrari. It was so quiet – I didn’t even realise how loud my old machine was. And this new shiny-shiny one had an electronic display and BUTTONS! It would backstitch at the start of a seam AUTOMATICALLY! And sew buttons on! And cut the thread for you at the end of a seam! OmgOmgOmg. Some of the guilt of shelving my old machine faded away (pretty quickly, I’m ashamed to say) when I realised how much easier everything would be with this machine. I still have my old one – I don’t currently know what its future looks like but there’s a girl in the office who wants to teach herself to sew so I’ve offered to donate it to her if she’d like it. It would make me happy to see it start someone else off on their sewing journey the way it did for me.

In May this year, I opened my Etsy shop – WanderStitch Studio – where I sell handmade bags and pouches made from all the cool fabrics that I love. I choose all the fabrics myself, and every single bag is handmade by me. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to know that there are people out there using things that my two hands have made for them! I hope one day to sell clothes, and perhaps even my own dressmaking patterns – let’s see where it takes me. December has been absolutely crazy so far with orders, and we’ve had items bought as wedding presents, secret santa presents, and good ol’ regular christmas presents. It’s so exciting to think that people all over the UK (and in fact all over the world – we’ve had a fair few international orders!) are receiving our items on their doorsteps! It does mean though for the last couple of weeks we’ve been working literally every evening to make, wrap and ship orders. On top of our full-time jobs, that is. Our days currently look like this:

  • Get up at some obscene pre-dawn hour of the day
  • Down a cuppa and feed the furkids
  • Commute to work (with photo editing, blog post writing and social media maintenance on the way)
  • Work, walking to post office on lunch break to post previous day’s orders
  • Commute home
  • Feed and walk furkids again
  • Eat something that can be prepared in less than 10 mins (bonus points if it can be in my stomach within five minutes, or delivered to my door)
  • Cut, sew, wrap and package the day’s orders
  • Go to bed knackered

Rinse and repeat.

Whilst it’s totally amazing to have had such a busy few weeks, I am definitely looking forward to having a rest! But to be real, I didn’t in my wildest dreams imagine that the shop would take off in the way it did. I’m hoping that it can be the start of something much bigger – I don’t know exactly what yet, or how, but that’s half the fun!

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

So it’s Christmas eve… I hope you all have a wonderful festive period, wherever in the world you are and however you choose to spend it. What are your plans? Mine involve sewing, comfy clothes, and cuddles with the furkids while I watch my two favourite Christmas movies that I watch every year – Love Actually and The Holiday. This is as close to a chick-flick as I get. If I can catch it, I’ll watch The Snowman as well because it’s an absolute classic – not just because of the retro animation but also because of the fantastic score that accompanies it. I could quite happily watch it with my eyes closed and just listen.

I’ll be back next week with my final post of 2017, sharing my sewing goals for the new year and revealing my 2018 #MakeNine! There’s some fab patterns in there – some which might be a little ambitious. I may be regretting my choices.

I hope you all have a holiday filled with love, warmth and good company – and of course a bit of crafting in some way or another. Do you use the Christmas break as a breather from sewing or do you use it to sew to the max?

I’ll be cutting, prepping and sewing every minute that I can!

 

Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… my final post of 2017 including my sewing resolutions and my #2018MakeNine 😍 Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!

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60’s black and white faces large bag
Skeletons in Love large bag
Dr Who Tardis large bag
Retro Super Mario large bag
Pokemon Pikachu Large bag
Wonder Woman Large bag
Batman Bat Sign Large bag
black lipstick large bag
Ninja turtles large bag
Black Skulls Large bag
Red skulls large bag
Grey skulls large bag
Nightmare before Christmas large bag
Nightmare before christmas large bag
Nightmare before Christmas large bag
Galaxy cat large bag
Star Wars C3PO washbag
Legend of Zelda washbag
Beauty and The Beast washbag

 

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16 Comments

    • Sarah
      Author
      December 28, 2017 / 9:04 am

      Thank you! Hope you had a lovely holiday break 🙂

  1. Linda Jamieson
    December 24, 2017 / 2:10 pm

    Have enjoyed reading about your sewing escapades this year Sarah. We seem to hang out in the same shops. Currently in the USA and loving the pattern fest here- vogue for $ 4.99 , the others $1.99 !!!! Would be a shame not to!
    Merry Christmas to you and keep on blogging
    Linda

    • Sarah
      Author
      December 28, 2017 / 9:05 am

      Ahh thank you Linda! Happy holidays to you too! Very jealous that you’re in New York…. Vogue patterns for $4.99?! WHAAAAAAAT?! Haha. Buy them all!

  2. michelle
    December 24, 2017 / 3:09 pm

    Brilliant year and your makes are awsome

    • Sarah
      Author
      December 28, 2017 / 9:05 am

      Ahh thank you Michelle! Glad you enjoy them! Happy holidays 🙂

  3. Anne
    December 24, 2017 / 10:07 pm

    Congratulations on your first anniversary! Thanks for the insight to it’s creation too. Such a lot of work for you and and the Head Photographer. I love your blog – it’s honest, informative and motivates me to sew. Looking forward to your 2018 creations!

    • Sarah
      Author
      December 28, 2017 / 9:07 am

      Thanks Anne! So glad you’re enjoying it 🙂 It makes me really happy to hear that it motivates you to sew. I’ve got lots of fab projects planned for 2018! Happy holidays to you and yours 🙂

  4. Julia Carvel
    December 25, 2017 / 5:11 am

    Happy Christmas and also blog anniversary! I never would have guessed that you’ve only been blogging for a year; your photos and presentation are all very polished. Can’t wait to follow along on your sewing adventures in 2018.

    I, too, love “The Holiday”, although I see it as suffering through Cameron Diaz’s performance in order to enjoy the wonderful acting of, well, everyone else in the cast. #Honesty. 😉

    • Sarah
      Author
      December 28, 2017 / 9:09 am

      Happy holidays to you too Julia! So glad you’re enjoying the blog 🙂 I’ve got lots of fab projects planned for 2018!
      Ah, yes Jack Black is my favourite in the Holiday – Cameron Diaz is a little high maintenance 😉

  5. December 25, 2017 / 7:15 am

    Congratulations with your first year. You always have such beautiful clothes in gorgeous colours and your matching shoes: amazing. Looking forward to your second year.

    • Sarah
      Author
      December 28, 2017 / 9:10 am

      Thank you Sonja! Really glad you’re enjoying it. Stay tuned for an awesome pair of boots which will be featured in 2018… 🙂 🙂

  6. Nancy May
    December 25, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    I have enjoyed reading your posts these last few months. I really don’t know where you find the time to do all, but keep it up. I’m loving it.

    • Sarah
      Author
      December 28, 2017 / 9:11 am

      Ahh thanks Nancy! Glad you’re enjoying it 🙂 If I’m not at work, I’m commuting to work and blogging on the train, and if I’m not doing either of those I’m probably sewing 🙂 🙂

  7. December 26, 2017 / 9:00 am

    Happy First Birthday WanderStitch! I’ve so enjoyed your first year too, you are now part of my Sunday morning chill, still in bed with a cup of tea reading about your exploits. And I’ve fallen into the same traps as you too – dresses that I thought would suit me and just don’t, fabrics that turn out to be the wrong colour,or texture or both! (Not to mention the dress I made for my sister in law’s posh wedding in beautiful lightweight wool to a Vogue designer pattern – and got a spot of oil front and centre from my elderly Singer machine. I washed the dress in the machine in our rented flat – wool cycle, obvs, and the whole thing felted when the machine malfunctioned! – that was many years ago, and you’d think I’d have learnt…..)
    So wishing you and all my fellow readers a very Merry Christmas, and a New Year full of creative and successful projects!

    • Sarah
      Author
      December 28, 2017 / 9:15 am

      Thank you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! I’ve got some fab projects planned for 2018 🙂 🙂
      Ah it sounds like we do have the same pitfalls! At least it helps shape our future makes though so that we can avoid the traps again. It’s funny you should mention textures, as I’ve come to realise I have something against crepe – it just feels so weirrrrrd lol. Especially polyester crepe, thats the worst!
      Ohhh no your poor dress… how disappointing. I’d have been so gutted to ruin something that was fresh off the machine that I hadn’t even worn 🙁 The poor Singer machine was probably just so excited to be sewing something that luxurious that it couldn’t help but let out a bit of oil haha.
      Happy holidays to you too – here’s to lots of sewing in 2018!

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