One Friday night at the start of June, I was making a massive batch of chocolate macarons when a message popped up for me on Instagram. It was my lovely IG friend Diane, aka @dream.cut.sew, mentioning that she’d had an idea for a photo challenge to tie in with the Year of the Sleeve, and asking whether I’d be interested in co-hosting. I was up to my elbows in ground almonds and icing sugar, had three birthday cakes to make for the following week, a pattern launching the week after that, and a busy schedule at work… so of course I said “YES” immediately! And here’s why I said yes:
Firstly, Sleevefest! What a brilliant idea to bring together a community of sewists on Instagram in a creative and fun way. I love the idea of the Year of the Sleeve, promoted by Sewing and Design School, who hosted the #sewapril2017 challenge that I participated in during my first month on Instagram (and who are one of our sponsors for Sleevefest!) I’ll talk more about the details of Sleevefest in a moment, but first I just want to tell you my second reason for saying yes:
Diane. She’s an amazing sewist and a truly lovely lady. I only joined Instagram a few months ago, and Diane was kind enough to follow me on day 1, when my following was in single figures. She didn’t need to, she was already established in the IG sewing community, and it wasn’t a cynical ‘follow-for-follow’ thing – I’d already started following her. In those first days I almost shut down my account many times. Do you know the main reason I didn’t? Diane. She had faith in me on the first day. And I read her blog that weekend, and was blown away by her talent (which, by the way, is always understated and never showy-offy, and yes that’s a word 😉 ). So much of what she wrote and photographed resonated with me: being taught to sew by her mum, never being satisfied with a ‘that’ll do’ kind of a job, attention to detail, personalisation of patterns… not to mention coming to the social media community long after coming to sewing, and long after it had already been established. If she could do it, I could too.
So we spent a week or so emailing to work out the details, and who to approach as sponsors. The second week of planning we approached all our sponsors, while Rich, the unsung hero of Valentine & Stitch, started working up a graphic image for us based on a sketch I made. By week 3 we had our sponsors, our signature image, and our ‘rules of play’, and then everything came together! We’ve had so much fun planning it and releasing our ‘teasers’ on Instagram, and the most fun is yet to come – seeing all the sleeves!
So, how does Sleevefest work? Well, to join in, the first thing you need is a public Instagram account. Then you follow Diane and me on Instagram (@dream.cut.sew and @valentine.and.stitch) and re-post our announcement (which you can find on both our Instagram pages), tagging us both so we know you’re participating. Then comes the fun part: make, pattern-hack or decorate any sleeve on any garment in any fabric, and then at any time between now and 31 August post a photo of your handmade sleeve, tagging us both again and using the hashtag #sleevefest2017. You can enter as many times as you like, as long as you follow the rules for each separate entry:
1. You must post pics of a new make that you’re working on for sleevefest.
2. You may enter as many times as you like, just make sure you put all the tags on each entry.
3. Winners will be selected from all the entries after the end date of 31 August 2017.
Please feel free to post work-in-progress photos too! There are lots of great prizes up for grabs: after the closing date, 5 winners will be selected at random, and each will receive one of the following:
From Sewing and Design School, experts in sewing instruction, and the brains behind both SewApril and Year of the Sleeve: e-book of Jan Minott’s Total Pattern Fit
From EmmaOneSock, a fantastic resource for designer fashion fabrics: $35 gift card
From Dragonfly Fabrics, a family-run sewing store selling beautiful quality fabrics and a wide range of independent sewing patterns: Two paper patterns (with fun sleeves!), the Azaire dress and top by Gather and the Primrose Peplum by Sew Caroline
From Ditto Fabrics, a treasure trove of fabulous fabrics: £25 gift card
From Suzy Magazine, the new magazine for the fashion-forward sewist: Two issues of the magazine
PLUS, there will be an additional prize that you can vote for! Diane and I will choose our ten favourite sleeves, and then it’s over to you to vote for the one you like best. Rich and I have teamed up with Sew Essential to offer a fabulous prize! The winner will get a bespoke pattern of our Angelina dress and top (we’ll contact you to ask for your body measurements so that we can tailor the pattern to you), and a £25 voucher to spend at Sew Essential, so you can buy the fabric to make it with, or indeed something else from their amazing collection of fabrics, patterns (indie and big 4) and haberdashery! They have everything you need for your sewing projects, and are a business of sewing enthusiasts always willing to help and answer your questions. So you can get a bespoke pattern from us AND a chance to buy some pretty things from Sew Essential to go with it, or to kickstart a new project. Pretty great, right?
So what are you waiting for? Start making your sleeves! We can’t wait to see what you come up with 😀