A Tiny Tip for Successful Sewing

Note: I actually wrote this post ages ago when it was still cold in the South. That explains any odd references to tights–which no self-respecting southern gal would be wearing in May!

How do you decide what to sew?

I know a lot of sewists out there like to sew whatever they feel. And I know there are many who have been caught up in this wave of wardrobe sewing. Those of you who are attempting to sew according to a plan, do you ever find it difficult to plan wisely?

I still struggle sometimes trying to determine the difference between a garment I know I’m going to wear and a garment that I ought to want to wear because it’s something that everyone else is wearing. I was thinking about this the other day. How can I make consistently great wardrobe-sewing choices?

And then I realized–the best time to decide what I need to sew is when I’m getting dressed in the morning and I don’t know what to wear. I’m more likely to be inspired by what everyone else is wearing when I’m sitting down with pen and paper and a hundred blogs to read. I’m inspired by what I actually want to wear when I really want to wear something that doesn’t exist in my closet.

Hmmm. . . time to spruce things up in there. Winter things need to be put away. Hangers need to be sorted. And, yes, that IS a small bear sitting atop a container of catnip. Is this not something everyone keeps in her closet?

Hmmm. . . time to spruce things up in there. Winter things need to be put away. Hangers need to be sorted. And, yes, that IS a small bear sitting atop a container of catnip. Is this not something everyone keeps in her closet?

I imagine it’s something like the difference between basic training and the battlefield (super dramatic metaphor, yes, but just go with it). Spending hours falling into the deep, dark abyss of Pinterest or trolling countless sewing/fashion blogs is like your basic training. You learn what’s out there. You get an idea of what you can make. You discover what you like to look at. But, when it comes time to actually put on some clothes and rush out the door–that’s the battlefield. That’s when things get real. That’s when things don’t always go according to plan. Sure, maybe I pinned and made a yellow pencil skirt that I thought I absolutely couldn’t live without, but if I never want to actually put it on in the morning, what’s the point?

Sometimes, I’m standing, staring into my open closet trying to figure out what clothes best reflect the girl I am that day. It’s too cold for my Moss; I just wore my Lady Skater yesterday; and all my Archers need to be washed (true story). First of all, that tells me that the Lady Skaters and the Archers are really excellent wardrobe choices. Also, I need tights to wear with my Moss (get some gray tights, Jen! Honestly. . . ). When this happens, I always have a thought along the lines of, “If I just had a ________ then I could wear ________” or “I’d really like to wear _______ but I haven’t made one yet.”

These are the makes that need to happen. These are the garments that if I made them, I would actually wear them. How do I know that I’m not a vintage-lovin’ gal? I have never, not once when I’m getting ready thought, “I’d really like to wear a 60s style wiggle dress today.” How do I know that I love a knit skater dress? Because I wear mine every chance I get! Because there are some days when I think, “I really want to wear my navy Lady Skater, but people will think I’m weird if I wear it three days in a row.”

Here’s the catch: thoughts occurred and thoughts remembered are two different things. Thinking, “I need more knit dresses,” at 6:30 in the morning may not mean that I remember that I need those knit dresses a month later when it’s time to make another plan. (Oh, who am I kidding?? My love of knit dresses is well-documented. But you get my point!)

The solution? So simple, I probably don’t even need to mention it.

But, I totally will.


Post-it Notes! All I do is take a moment to ask myself, “If I could wear anything today, what would it be?” When the answer comes to me, I either find its equivalent in my closet, or I jot the idea on a note and stick it to the inside of my closet door. When planning time comes round again, all I have to do is match my wardrobe wish list with existing patterns. To help me in my wardrobing endeavors, I’ve been curating a Pinterest board of potential patterns. Like virtual sticky notes!

Thanks to a simple office supply, some day I will stand in front of my open closet doors and rather than feeling like my closet is full of nothing, I’ll be greeted with more options than I can choose between.

Idealistic? Unrealistic? Maybe. But I believe!

Do you have any great tips for sewing what you’ll love to wear?


16 thoughts on “A Tiny Tip for Successful Sewing

  1. That is an amazing idea. It sounds so simple but just blew my mind, as I have pinterest boards full of clothes I love, but would not want to wear on a daily basis.

    • Oh, I think there’s definitely a place for pretty Pinterest boards, but perhaps it’s time to add a new one specifically for new ways to wear things you already love!

  2. Brilliant! (I’ll probably never do it, but I’ll consider it for years!) I do hope you blog about something you make from your getting-dressed inspiration!

    • You mean you don’t take time for deep reflection every time you get dressed? 😉
      That’s the plan! Though it will probably be a while for some things since a lot of my notes are cold weather inspired.

  3. yep, happened to me this morning (not enough long sleeved tops or cardigans/jackets – heading into cold seasons in the southern hemisphere), time to note it down!

    • Definitely been there. In fact, a few of my notes are for long-sleeved tees which I never seem to have. Good luck! I hope you get those gaps filled soon!

  4. Love this! I was standing in front of my wardrobe yesterday looking for a warm enough but still Spring like, baby niece friendly, outfit. Including something for MMM of course. It wan’t easy!

  5. Yes! Post it notes!!!! It’s so “Being Mary Jane” – am I the only one who watches that show?

    I totally was a whole season behind (and still am) in my sewing. Now I get why fashion shows are always seaons before so people can actually absorb the styles before the seasons turn (and I guess so Target has time to knock-off).

    Not completed from my Winter sewing list are a few long sleeved dresses and I have yet to put buttons and hem my red plaid fleece archer. I think this summer I’m going to work on these so that I have them ready for Fall. 😀 But who wants to work on fleece when everyone is out and about wearing shorts and crop tops?

    • I have to look into this “Being Mary Jane”–how have I never heard of it??

      I was actually thinking about that the other day. If I sewed a season ahead, I’d never feel rushed to finish things. But then you also don’t get the instant gratification of snipping the last thread and then immediately putting the thing on.

      I’m still working on an Archer myself (it’s all the pressing. I’m just not in the mood) and one last dress from my winter sewing. At least I’m not alone! Let’s stick to it and get it done!

  6. So simple, and seemingly obvious, yet this is just genius! Thank you. Looking forward to seeing how this works for you.

    This year is going to throw some interesting challenges at me. I have a post partum, changing body, coupled with a wardrobe full of work appropriate, non nursing friendly dresses! Plus extremely limited sewing time! I am thinking I am about to become fast friends with the Coco and the Hemlock! I have started a Pinterest board in that vein, but I will see how realistic it turns out to be!

    • First of all, congratulations!
      Second, I think you’re definitely on the right track with the knits. It is tricky, though, to curate a realistic Pinterest board when there are so many pretty things to pin! I find that I just have to revisit and edit my boards pretty often.

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