2020: Assessment of a Dumpster Fire and Other Thoughts

So I’ve been… quite absent from the blog space for the past few months. I don’t really have much to say in regards to that aside from the fact that I started spiraling quite a bit leading into the US election, after which we headed into fire season, and I really couldn’t find the energy to spend time blogging (or doing anything else fun, really). I’ve also been working a full time job in addition to a side gig that ended up taking a lot more time and energy than I had anticipated over the fall months, and volunteer work that took up the little energy for side projects that I had left over. Add to that some online classes I was taking, and my schedule got really full really fast. My classes were on somewhat random topics; I took two online courses to help me advance in my day job, and I’ve been taking weekly classes so that I can stay up to date as a skating official as well. I pounded through the work classes to finish them up before work got really busy heading into the winter break, but the skating classes are live webinars so I’m essentially taking weekly night classes – in order to avoid work conflicts I have to attend the webinars from 1-3am. It definitely makes me feel my age; I’m not nearly as functional after the late nights as I used to be when I was younger. Honestly, I’m glad I’m done with college because I just don’t think I could keep up now if I had to do that all over again.

Anyway, I normally do a week’s worth of round up posts before the end of the year, but obviously I haven’t managed that this past week. But I thought that, in the dumpster fire of a year that was 2020, I should at least try to have some sort of record for posterity. And despite the spiraling, I actually have been doing some sewing related things over the past few months, so that all deserves some mention as well. This is probably going to be something of a hot mess of a rambling post, which actually feels like an oddly fitting way to wrap up 2020, so here we go.

Sewing Things Since September

In my previous post, I’d mostly made crafty objects and more face masks in the late summer fall. I had been hopeful that I would be able to complete my mini wardrobe challenge for the Pattern Review Contest, but the timing really didn’t work out for me. I was able to trace all of my planned patterns and gather my materials, but as of yet, I’ve only managed to complete one of the items on my list. I’m hoping that I can finish a second piece before the clock strikes 12… at least then I can say I’ve finished an outfit. I (obviously) haven’t written any blog posts about this yet (and honestly haven’t even really worn it to try it out), but hopefully I will find the time and energy to post about this in the new year.

I still have intentions of finishing my capsule sewing plans, but I expect it will take a bit longer than I had hoped. Partly I think this is due to the fact that I’ve gained a fair bit of weight during quarantine; I find I’m needing to make more (and different) pattern adjustments than I have in the past, and this has been slowing my progress a bit. I’m also dealing with what I can only term as “mask-guilt” – I’m basically battling the guilt of making non-masks when I’m sewing something else, but feeling no desire to be sewing a lot of masks all of the time. I did just do quite a bit of holiday mask sewing though (because apparently ugly holiday masks are the 2020 version of the ugly holiday sweater), so that niggling voice should be silent for at least the next little while…

I’ve been trying a new mask pattern, following the tutorial from Oonaballoona:

The Mimi G. pattern had been my previous pattern of choice, but this face mask pattern is much quicker to sew, much easier to adjust the fit and size, and more fun to mix and match fabrics with. I think it’s going to be the new go-to mask pattern for me over the next few months as we ride out the rest of this pandemic and wait for vaccines to be more widely available. There are also update videos for including a pocket filter, but I’ve tended towards using additional fabric layers as opposed to having the filter pockets myself.

Aside from this I’ve been trying to get through a pile of mending, because I really don’t want this stack of raggedy-looking-to-dos hanging over my head going into 2021… Though to be honest, at this point, most of the things in the mending pile probably aren’t worth saving. Like, I can only do so much to save PJs where the fabric is practically disintegrating, and replacing a fly zip is just not high on the priority list as far as exciting sewing goes. 2020 has been extremely rough on a small percentage of the wardrobe, but I’m oddly determined to have it survive through the end of the pandemic.

Oh! And I guess I should confess to making one somewhat spontaneously unexpected sewing purchase recently… I upgraded my machine to a Janome Continental M7! Yeah, I know. It was something I can only chalk up to 2020 brain and having far too many indulgent voices telling me to forget about making responsible choices. (And who says this wasn’t the responsible choice… because masks are life and who’s driving places anyway?) So I blame the enablers. Well, the enablers and the fact that Janome has been very strategic with their choice of influencers and very strategic with giving this model to a large number of sewing peeps that I follow and me therefore being unable to get the shiny out of my brain. Yes, I’m weak and I need to spend less time on social media. All that, and then when I (on a whim) called the dealer, the price point was far too good to pass up. Like, insanely far too good to pass up. I’m honestly still shocked at the deal I got. I mean, to be fair, I have been obsessed with this machine since it was released, and despite the somewhat unexpected turn of events that led to it, I’m honestly really happy I made this purchase. I’m also super happy because my sister has taken up sewing as her new quarantine hobby and I am able to gift her my old machine (which has also been a really wonderful machine) to encourage her to keep going on her sewing journey. I think all around it’s a win-win, and I’m really excited to be able to share the love of this hobby with someone new to the craft! I’ll do more of an in-depth review on the machine after I’ve had more time to play around with it, but thus far I really love it.

Non-Sewing 2020 Year in Review

I was reading over my year-end review from last year, and it was a really interesting and naively hopeful look into 2020. I had 5 main goals from last year:

  1. Finding more time to sew.
  2. Keep working on my skating commissions and skills as a judge and technical specialist.
  3. Eat better and exercise more.
  4. Learn new skills for my job.
  5. Clean/organize/declutter my life. 

I’d say I was successful at 2.5 of these goals. I definitely didn’t find more time to sew, and 2020 has been wreaking havoc on my food and exercise situation. I did definitely learn new skills for my job, and I have been putting in the time to be a better judge and technical specialist. I did do a massive sewing space overhaul this year, but I can’t say I’ve really “decluttered my life” so I’m giving that one a partial credit. I think for me this year was really more about upgrades than overhauls, but for 2020 being what it has been, I’ll take it.

I’d like to say I have some non-sewing goals heading into 2021, but I honestly don’t. I really don’t expect this next year to “happen” and I’m really having a lot of issues finding motivation and goals. It’s odd, because working from home I thought I’d find all of these spare minutes I wasn’t spending traveling to and from work and put them to good use, but honestly, I haven’t. I feel like I’m doing less than I ever have, yet like I’m also so tired and burnt out, and unable to do more. It’s not a great feeling, and it’s not very helpful for motivated goal setting. I could list a lot of things to try and achieve next year, but I’m honestly not feeling the energy or the vibe, so I’m not going to list anything. I’m sure things will be done, I just don’t know what they will be, and right now I’m oddly ok with that.

2020 Sewing Year in Review

Well, this year has been a bit of a roller coaster in terms of sewing and blogging. To be honest, I feel like I should have realized that any year I made a quilt really would have been a sign of the apocalypse, but here we are. I actually feel like I have done more sewing than it feels like I have; it’s just all been random crafting projects and masks and not the usual garment sewing. It’s been a weird year. Anyway, last year I did a sewing Top 5 post and I had a top 5 sewing goals for 2020. I’m afraid of looking, but let’s see how it went:

(5) Finish the Forever UFO. If I don’t manage to finish it by the end of 2019, then I really want to get it done in 2020!

OMG, I actually did this! Back when 2020 was young and full of promise and hope! (And when I fit into jeans!) Of course, I haven’t had a single occasion to wear the forever UFO, but I guess finishing the project really did signal the end of an era. I just didn’t realize it was going to be an era of not wearing a face mask in public.

(4) Keep up with blog reading/community events. I’ve fallen behind and it really feels like I’m missing out on the things my friends are doing. I need to get back into the habit of blog reading again because I really miss know what is up in the sewing community!

I actually did pretty well with this until recently! I’ve been keeping up with blog reading for the most part until the start of this past month, and I’ve been trying to leave more comments and engage with others more often than I was able to last year. I’ve really enjoyed seeing what everyone else has been up to, and I’ve also become enamored with the historical sewing/CosTube community this year! There is so much inspiration and passion in this online community, and I really loved that people are willing to share that passion with others online.

(3) Learn 1 new sewing skill. I’m leaning towards garment drafting or corset making. I have access to Bluprint, so I’d really like to pick a topic and hard-core watch some of the classes on there to learn a new sewing skill in 2020.

Hahaha, so this hasn’t aged well. Obviously, Bluprint has returned to being Craftsy (to which I still have access), but I haven’t really completed any of the courses in there this year. I feel like I’ve wasted so much learning opportunity in 2020, or at least put all of my learning efforts in different baskets. If nothing else, I really want to rectify this in 2021.

(2) Keep working on expanding skills from my 2019 goals. I think I did pretty well on starting a lot of the goals I had in 2019, but I think they were sort of open ended goals, so I still have a lot more I can do moving forward, especially in terms of learning more about digitizing embroidery designs, photo taking, and stash organizing!

Yeah, so, I think aside from the stash organizing (an improved but ongoing project) I haven’t really accomplished much here. I have learned how to use the Cricut a bit more efficiently, but I wasn’t really able to make much of an improvement in terms of photography or embroidery digitizing. I did sign up for a January workshop though, so I’ve at least set a concrete plan for working on this more next year!

(1) Sew more garments for myself than in 2019. I only sewed 4 things, so hopefully this is do-able! Really, I feel like I’m pushing back my goals from the Sew Your Kibbe challenge to the new year, but that’s ok because my goals for the new year are the same – sew myself a wardrobe that’s going to work for me!

Yeah… no. I finished the Forever UFO, one top, and (most of) a skirt. But I did make a wardrobe plan I really liked and am still working on, so that’s good! And I guess if face masks count as wardrobe items, then maybe I did manage to do this on a technicality.

As much as I’d like to come up with a list of goals, as with the non-sewing things, I just really can’t muster the excitement to list a bunch of things heading into 2021. It’s a bit weird because often my sewing goals are related to my needs; but with work from home and lockdown, I rarely leave the house, so it’s weird to be excited about or justify a wardrobe that won’t be used. On the other hand, the few times I have had to leave the house have been difficult, because most of my currently clothes barely fit, so clearly there actually is a need there. I don’t know. I’m hoping that a the sewjo picks up in the new year a bit, because it’s been wildly absent over the past few weeks. But I’m not going to try to force things.

So… 2020 Was a Thing That Happened

Honestly, I feel like there is a lot of reflection I could have about 2020, but I’m not sure that it’s really the time for that yet? I mean, the date on the calendar is changing, but it doesn’t really feel like the start of a new year in the traditional sense. And I don’t know that you can really reflect on a global pandemic whilst you are still in the midst of it. Hospitalizations in my area are through the roof (possibly quite literally; I’ve heard reports that hospital gift shops are being converted into rooms for patients), and I feel like the circle of distance between myself and people I know who have had it or been affected by it is narrowing. And it’s not even just people with COVID; it’s people who have to put off critical surgeries because of the impact of the disease on the hospital system, or people who are out of work and stressing about making rent because relief bills aren’t actually providing any relief to the people who need it most. I can honestly say that, on a personal level, I realize how lucky I have been this year. I traveled very early in the year, and I’m still amazed I didn’t come home with the virus. I’ve managed to accomplish things in my personal and work life, despite the craziness of this year. My immediate family and closest friends have thus far been safe, though we all know people who have been impacted by this pandemic more deeply, and know more and more friends who’s families have suffered losses or are essential workers now testing positive for the disease. Nothing about this will magically go away at the stoke of midnight, and as much as the dark humor, memes, and sassy Tweets (not to mention a few brilliant Match.com commercials) have gotten us through 2020, nothing about this year feels “done.” Of course, we can not know what the next year has in store, but I feel like the past 12 months have given us a fairly helpful glimpse into what to expect for the near future. I can’t say that I’ve felt like the best version of myself in quarantine, despite being a notorious homebody introvert. And while the whole “new year energy” really isn’t feeling like enough to motivate me to making massive changes, I do think 2020 will be a fascinating learning period for all of us when it is time to look back and reflect on how we’ve dealt with this year that at once feels both like it will never end and like it never was. But 2020 was a thing that happened, and, although I’m apprehensive about what 2021 will bring, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’m glad we’ve made it through it and that it’s somehow finally over.

23 thoughts on “2020: Assessment of a Dumpster Fire and Other Thoughts

  1. Good to hear from you again, missing your posts! (Especially the burda 😛) but I read somewhere that the thing most of us missed in the beginning of the pandemic was that we would have a collective feeling of grief, and for most of us grief is a passive emotion so we sit, and we talk but it’s not too much action. For me that rang true and feel a little bit better about not sewing anything since October. But my sewing space is now my working space so I don’t really want to be spending more time there 😢 wish you all the best for 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad to read this post – I thought of you over this last year and wondered how you were faring. Like others I miss your posts (but don’t mean that in a pressure-y way. Just a miss-your-voice kind of way!).
    It’s been such a tough year and I know what you mean about not feeling the motivation. I think that just getting through this year in one piece is heroic enough. Like you I’ve dipped in and out of making this year and masks did rather dominate…
    Here’s to a more stable, hopeful, brighter and better 2021 for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a lot of accomplishments for such a weird year! That purple sweater is a thing of beauty. Your description of your experiences is very relatable! I have a vague memory of sewing exactly one item back in January. I know I had a plan, but I can’t remember what it was and I’m not sure if I care about it anymore. I certainly proved that I have more than enough clothes, as I haven’t touched 99% of them since February. I have no urge to make more, although it would be nice to do something creative at some point. i went through the early months of 2020 with no job and extreme income anxiety, but since June I have been working two full time jobs. It’s one of those times where you just have to take what you can get.

    Your thoughts on combining work. education, and lack of sleep are also interesting. I’m a strong advocate of lifelong learning in any form, and I feel a definite mental stagnation if I go a year without taking challenging courses of some kind. I don’t think age impacts the learning process – I got a second degree at age 32 and a third one at 48. But I also don’t think anyone over the age of 25 can function without adequate sleep! Take it easy on yourself!

    I guess cautious optimism is good at this point. There’s no reason to think that because the calendar changed by a digit we are suddenly going to be safe, healthy, and happy. People talk about “getting back to normal,” but that is not a real thing. The old normal no longer exists and it wasn’t that great anyway. But things will slowly improve, and eventually we will find ourselves in a new normal that is tolerable or possibly even pleasant!

    Wishing you health and happiness (and enough rest)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I so agree about learning – it’s always been a part of my yearly goals. I just know when I was a student I was also skating and it was when I learned to sew and I was a part of extra activities for school… I was busy and I really didn’t sleep. I don’t know if I could do everything at that pace now. I feel like I’m doing less but it all takes so much more time… But I’m trying to find learning opportunities where I can to keep myself engaged this year and I even signed up for an embroidery webinar that I’m excited about. Hopefully the weirdness funk will lift soon and things will improve. Best wishes for a new year to you!


  4. So glad for the update – truly missed your posts ♥ (and like Elisabet said, your Burda posts too…) This year has really thrown a wrench into everyone’s lives. Gatherings are forbidden here in Quebec at the moment, so it has been quiet (apart for fun cooking for the four of us here).

    I wish you the best of health in the new year, as well as good fortune and peace of mind. Looking forward to hopefully more posts in 2021! ♥ ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same… I feel like California never really got out of lockdown after March, but it is very strict right now. But we are celebrating as we can with Zoom and such. Right now it’s about finding the joys where you can. Happy new year!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It is wonderful to hear from you, and glad things are going OK for you.

    My current project is a softly tailored trouser suit in my current (fairly large) size so if I do need to attend something (like an interview) in person I can do so in comfort. In fact I’m sewing a whole collection I’ve dubbed the ‘Ready For Anything’ capsule which has home exercise, office wear etc. My current job looks like to finish in March so I’m doing lots of job applications.

    I have just had a significant birthday and my family, friends and colleagues were gracious in giving me money towards a Janome 4300 QDC which my boyfriend picked up for me from a fairly local B&M shop. I’ve nick named her Queenie and she’s a real joy to sew with.

    Looking forward to what you share with us in 2021.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s so exciting! Congratulations on your new machine! I hope you enjoy. I look forward to reading more about the “Ready for Anything” wardrobe – such a great idea! This year really does feel like I will need to be ready for Anything so I might have to borrow that idea from you. Happy new year!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Terrific to see you writing again. Your year has been similarly mixed to many other people. I am glad to hear you are well and have survived the year.

    Your new machine is huge – so much potential there. I look forward to hearing about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So much to identify with in your post. I had made headway in pattern fitting, but quitting smoking, night shift, and aging had me continuously increasing and changing the fit of EVERYTHING. I also got an incredible deal and took home an M7 in June. I’ve been sewing with vintage machines and fighting hard going high tech with a machine but man I am so in love with that machine! Lastly, it’s ok to slack off on mask making, you only have to do special instance ones now, to coordinate with a sewn by you or for a wedding, maybe for a special needs person that can’t tolerate something or other, someone who is a support person for someone who reads lips, etc. Otherwise there are plenty for sale and people should be able to provide for themselves for the most part. No more guilt!
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The last section of this post summarizes perfectly my thoughts on 2020 not quite being over. I hope and want things will be better, but deep down I have reservations. Thank you so much for writing this.

    Regarding mask-making guilt: be kind to yourself. There is no obligation to make all of the masks! I didn’t make any for sale nor did I volunteer to participate in any of the drives that were active at the time. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it and at a time where personal happiness was necessary to cope with this and other crises, I opted to take care of my mental space. There’s nothing wrong about or to harbor guilt for that.

    The sewing machine looks like a beast! I’d love to hear your thoughts about it after you’ve sewn on it for a while.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. It’s good to hear from you. I have effectively stopped sewing this year, apart from masks and mending. I tried to get into a jacket, but my sewjo left me when copying the pattern pieces. For me it’s not only the pandemic, but just a shift in interest and energy, since I have a new job. Also my sewing room is now my and my husbands home office, and I feel like spending so much time at home, I have no incentive to sew nice clothes, and after all the mask sewing I don’t feel like sewing myself pyjamas either…

    Liked by 1 person

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