So it’s been a couple of weeks since the end of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee, and I have to admit I haven’t sewn a stitch since I finished my Round 4 project. My hat goes off to so many of the other talented participants who’ve churned out incredible garments post-Bee; I just haven’t had the energy. To be fair, the evacuation that happened during the middle of the last round really took the energy out of me. I’ve finally restored most of my things to their proper places, and I’m finally looking at heading back to the sewing space this week. After a much-needed tidying session, I’ll be launching into another labor intensive project – a wool coat for my dad. Originally, I’d planned to make this for him last year, but I wasn’t loving the fabric we ordered, so I wasn’t motivated to start. I’ve since ordered new wool coating, and then planned on entering it in the Wool Coat Contest at Pattern Review, but I just couldn’t muster the effort needed for such a project after the Bee. He’ll need it for an upcoming trip to New York though, so I’ve got to roll it out on something of a deadline now. (Side note: said trip is to visit family in New York, and I’m going! If any of my NY peeps out there have advice for visiting the Garment District on a weekend, let me know! I know the weekend isn’t ideal, but it’s what I’ve got, so if there are any suggestions for me, please leave a comment.) Otherwise, I’ve also got a few commissioned projects to be working on, thankfully with somewhat flexible deadlines, so that’ll be happening on a somewhat slower schedule. I’ve also got a few holiday parties lined up this year, so I’m hoping to make a few new things that will be both quick and stylish for those. Also on my to-do-list is learning how to digitize images for machine embroidery; I’ve definitely got the embroidery bug after making my Round 3 reversible jacket, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon.
Anyway, rather than spending time actually sewing, I’ve been spending time thinking about what I want to sew next. I’ve got a list a mile long of projects I want to make, plus a stash 20 feet deep with fabrics I want to sew. I’ve definitely got ideas and materials, so that’s not an issue. But this past year I’ve really been thinking a lot of about clothing in terms of a wardrobe, especially since my participation in the Pattern Sudoku Contest earlier this year. This really took a turn when I discovered the various style and color typing systems over the summer, and I’ve recently been spending my time delving further into the various recommendations from different sources, and synthesizing this into something I can use moving forward. I think this all really comes from (1) the desire to dress more like an adult (2) the realization that I don’t wear a lot of what I make (I’ll either wear something to death or not at all) and (3) trying to maximize my sewing time by making things I will wear more often. The irony in all this is that, by the time I’ve circled back around through all of my research, it is very similar to the exploration I did with the Wardrobe Architect series at the beginning of my thinking about a doing a wardrobe overhaul. Before, though, I sort of felt like I was haphazardly throwing things together because I sort of liked them, without any real vision of the end goal, and now I feel like I’m throwing similar things together but with a better understanding of why I like them. If you are a results sort of person, then this whole exploration probably feels like a redundant waste of time, especially since I seem to find myself ending up in a very similar place as before. However, I’m much more of a process sort of person; I think going through all of the different sources has given me a much clearer understanding of what I am trying to achieve, and why I’m trying to achieve it. I hadn’t intended to ramble this much about wardrobe planning in this post, but it’s sort of where my headspace is at right now. I’ve definitely got some more concrete/cohesive/extensive posts in the works though, so I’ll continue my Wardrobe Planning series there.
I’d started writing this post with the intent of doing a post-Bee wrap up, but my brain ran down all the various tangents first. Anyway, here are a few thoughts I’ve had since completing the Bee:
(1) I’m so happy I decided to enter the Bee this year! Last year the timing hadn’t been the best; other life events left me exhausted and burnt out after being eliminated in the second round. This year I thankfully had a much freer schedule and I could dedicate more time and energy to the Bee, and I really enjoyed participating in all four rounds.
(2) There is a certain sense of having “made it” to a new level. I feel like I really pushed myself during the Bee and am a better sewist because of it. I don’t know how you feel, but it’s hard not to compare your own makes to other sewists on the blog-o-sphere; we live in a world where inspiration and self-measure go hand in hand. I’ve always felt my sewing projects were somewhat lacking in the quality department; certainly most were good enough to wear, but very few had the clean finishes or perfect hems that I’ve drooled over in the work of others. Yet, aside from the tragic mishap of the back welt pockets and slightly short crotch curve of my Round 4 jumpsuit, I was actually really proud of the quality of sewing I produced for the Bee, especially on a restrictive time limit. Hems lined up, zippers looked clean, seams were tidy both outside and in, linings didn’t make things bunch in weird ways… I was pleased, and a bit shocked. I certainly feel as though I’ve leveled up from these experiences though. I mean, sure, there are still plenty of things I haven’t tried, and lots of skills for me to master, but I think my ability to produce a well made, decently fitting garment has certainly been kicked up a notch, and more than anything that is a great takeaway from the Bee.
(3) I won my first Pattern Review contest! I’m still really excited by this. I sort of love how the Bee gave me an excuse to do something crazy, like my fabulous sleeve gown, which I never would have made otherwise. I’ve been pretty vocal about not loving the big sleeve trend that’s been happening here on the blog, so while I wasn’t surprised by the challenge, I also wasn’t immediately excited by it either. Interestingly, it seemed that while many of the other contestants were in a similar boat, their solution was to try to make something they would consider “wearable” in everyday life, and my solution was to go completely the other way. I sort of love that about the Bee; you get to see so many creative thought processes, and really appreciate vast amount of talent and skill that the other participants have.
(4) I love my Round 3 Bomber Jacket, which I’ve been wearing more than any of the other pieces I made. Just for future reference, I really like the close fit, which is what I was going for in the Bee, but I think future versions will probably need an inch added to both the length of the sleeves and the bodice. It’s interesting how living in a garment gives a whole different perspective from just photographing it for the blog. Also, interestingly, I recently wore this jacket out to dinner, crazy colorful side out. When I got to the restaurant, literally everyone was wearing black, grey, olive, or navy, except me. It was like being in a black and white tv show! I have to ask my fellow sewists – in a world saturated with YouTube videos telling you how to create a capsule wardrobe full of neutrals, do you ever feel like the most colorful person in the room? I sort of wonder if I would have even noticed if I’d bought the jacket rather than made it. Do you ever get self-conscious when you wear something you’ve made for the first time?
(5) Although it wasn’t my intent, I found myself using a Bright Winter color palette on my items during the Bee. I had played around with the Sci/Art 12-tone color system prior to the start of the Bee, and had come to the conclusion that I was a Bright Winter, though I’ve been waffling between that, True Winter, and Light Summer. Somewhat subconsciously, all of my Bee entries actually fall fairly close to the Bright Winter coloring, especially my Round 4 jumpsuit:
If anything, the photos of my Bee projects have me pretty well convinced that not only do I like the Bright Winter colors, I like them on me. Although unintentional, I feel like this sort of cements me in the Bright Winter camp for now. And I’m actually pretty excited to plan some capsule sewing projects based on color schemes from within the Bright Winter palette because I enjoy the colors of the projects I made during the Bee.
(6) I should make wearable muslins more often.
(7) Although I’ve felt lack of energy to actually sew, I’ve definitely been motivated by the Bee to consider more specific inspirations for future sewing projects. Perhaps my Pink Floyd skirt was a bit literal, as was my anteater jacket, but I found that having a very specific inspiration allowed me to be more creative in my execution of the garments, as opposed to my usual thought process, which is something akin to “Oooh, shiny. I want one.” Although I see a bit of “ooh shiny” sewing in my near future, this idea of having more specific inspirations mixed with all the time I’ve spent pondering style archetypes and color palettes definitely gives me ideas for sewing goals for next year.
I think that’s enough of a ramble for now. I’m finally feeling the sew-jo returning, so I’ll likely be busy attending to to actually sewing projects for a while. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to Burda’s announcement of the December issue – the line drawings I’ve seen so far look intriguing. In the meantime feel free to leave a comment about any of the random tangents I went on in this post, or about how you deal with burnout after a large scale project. Do you have to wait for the energy to come back? Or do you press on full steam ahead without pause?