Sewing resolutions (or: why I will not be wearing crushed velvet in 2018)

Hello and happy new year! I hope that everyone reading this has had a wonderful and joyful Christmas and festive season. We had two weeks off – and offline – and it was such a tonic. I have enjoyed going back to the immediacy of living in the moment I’m in, and two weeks without using my phone has totally smoothed out the frown lines I acquired lately – seriously, I feel like I’ve had non-surgical Botox! With this in mind, I have resolved to spend less time on Instagram in 2018 (along with reading more and going to bed earlier). How do you feel about new year’s resolutions? I always make them, ranging from small, achievable changes like making sure I drink 2 litres of water a day (that was my resolution for 1998 and it’s still going strong!) to bigger things that are renewed every year like being more patient. I accept that by the end of the year some resolutions will have become embedded and others will still be works in progress (I think I’ll be making the patient one every year forever…) This year I made 5 sewing resolutions, and you can place your bets now on which I’ll have stuck to by the end of the year…

1. Only sew things I will wear

This one really hit me with my final make of 2017, the velvet dress I made for the Little Red Dress Project. Despite not having worn velvet since I was a teenager, with velvet popping up just about everywhere last season I couldn’t shake the idea of a red velvet dress. We were working on the Cassandra pattern at the time, so I had a vision of a swingy red velvet Cassandra to wear over the holidays. I modified the pattern to make it a v neck, and (foolishly, as it turns out) turned the fitted sleeves into bell sleeves using this method, and finished them with a rolled hem.

It just all felt a little too Kate Bush…

But oh dear… the combination of crushed velvet and the flared sleeve just made me feel like it was 1992 again and I should have dyed my hair mahogany and donned my carefully pre-scuffed Doc Martens (yep, along with Rimmel Black Cherries lipstick and the Levellers’ Levelling the land album, those things pretty much sum up 1992 for me). So this resolution is about making clothes that reflect me, and not letting over-excited creativity lead me someplace where I don’t recognise myself.

2. Slow sewing (reboot)

This was one of my resolutions for 2017, and it has been a bit hit and miss so I’m renewing my resolve for 2018! I first discovered the “slow food” movement in 2011, when we were planning a holiday through France. I had never heard of the slow movement before, and it appealed to me on a very deep level. Life feels so hectic a lot of the time, and taking time to appreciate the moment, filter out all the noise and stress, enjoy small things and really see what’s around me is… well, kind of like my Holy Grail.

Slow holiday 2011. This is one of my favourite places on earth.

For me, “slow sewing” doesn’t necessarily mean complex projects, or making a simple one last longer than it has to, but rather taking time over every detail of every project and enjoying the process as well as the end result. So, not like my red velvet dress. One of the rules of the Little Red Dress project is that there should be no reveal until the week before Christmas. I imagined that I would be ready and waiting with my dress and my photos, serenely welcoming the week when I could show it to you.

Hahahahahahaha. Know thyself! I started it at the beginning of reveal week.

I could have just abandoned the idea, but then what was I going to do with 2 metres of red velvet? So I whipped it up in about an hour. But speed sewing or sewing to a tight deadline takes away what I really love about sewing – how it rests my mind, gives me time and space to create,  and means that while I’m doing it I can’t get sidetracked  by anything else on my ever-expanding “to do list”. So I’m on the slow wagon this year, hoping not to fall off too many times!

3. Mindful designing

This is connected to “slow sewing”, and isn’t so much about changing how we do things, but about having a design ethos. We have far more ideas than time, and I want to learn how to feel ok with just focussing on a few. We released 8 patterns in 2017, because as a brand new company it seemed right to build a catalogue. Our goal for 2018 is to release 4 patterns, and we’re starting the year with a research and design phase to develop them and see where the process takes us. And all of my makes will be sporting one of these gorgeous V&S labels that Rich made me for Christmas!

He also got me tickets to see A-ha. It’s hard to say which I love the most.

4. Making use of what I already have

This is not only about using fabric from my stash, but also seeing how garments I no longer wear can be given a new lease of life. I made a start on this last year with my silk skirt refashion, and I have this idea in my head to use all our old jeans and scraps of denim to make myself a denim jacket – let’s just see if that one ever comes to pass, or whether it’s back on the list for 2019!

It’s going to be a jeans patchwork…

I generally find it quite hard to squeeze one garment out of another (it’s always narrower in one part than I need it to be!) so I may have to think about combining this goal with my final resolution:

5. Sewing more for my children

My daughter always has lots of handmade clothes, my son only a few things. But I just love sewing for him as well, and he loves it too. Just before Christmas I made them these penguin sweatshirts, using the Everyday sweatshirt pattern.

Who doesn’t love penguins?!

The moment I showed them their finished sweatshirts they were yanking off their clothes so they could put these on – cue my heart bursting out of my body! And my daughter wore this dress on Christmas Day, from a pattern which will be our first release of 2018 and has a special place in my heart!

If there’s one thing I love more than a beautiful dress, it’s my beautiful girl wearing it!

And finally, while I was writing this post, Sarah Liz published a new take on the MAGAM sewalong for 2018, asking participants to set out their sewing plans for the year. This sits well with my theme of resolutions, and I find this challenge to be one that really channels my creativity well, so I’m signing up for the whole year! MAGAM is about “selfish sewing”, so my 12 plans are all for me and I’m including 3 things I want to design, 3 fabrics I want to use up, 4 specific garments for my handmade wardrobe and 2 “wildcards”. So here they are, in no particular order:

1. A fitted sweater for cool weather
2. Knickers
3. Sleeveless summer swing dress


4. A faux leather jersey that’s too thin for the jacket I originally had in mind
5. A beautiful jacquard I got for Christmas
6. A woven fabric from the days before my monogamous relationship with knits (top contenders are a floral lawn and a lattice eyelet).

Specific garments
7. Leggings
8. A tunic-length top
9. A summer cover-up
10. A Christmas dress I will actually wear (ok ok you get the picture: no more crushed velvet)

11. THAT recycled denim jacket
12. Try a new-to-me pattern company

So there we are, my goals for 2018. They sound quite ambitious but actually I think they’re pretty connected, and just manifestations of a desire to slow down, enjoy things, and make wearable, durable garments. Do any of my resolutions resonate with you? Do you make resolutions in the new year? And do you have any sewing resolutions or goals for 2018?

24 thoughts on “Sewing resolutions (or: why I will not be wearing crushed velvet in 2018)

  1. Maxine @ sew.ready

    I am so with you on your sewing resolutions, last year saw me jumping from project to project, buying random fabrics and patterns and this year is all about planning and focus and not letting myself be distracted by patterns and fabrics that don’t suit my fashion, body or lifestyle….
    My resolution too was to drink a minimum of 1L of water a day, I’ve never had to frequent the toilet so much, it’s like being pregnant again and having to plan toilet stops! Look forward to seeing your patterns over the coming year XX

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Oh that made me laugh Max! You get used to it – I’ve been drinking 2 litres a day for 20 years now, and I don’t need the loo too often!!! Yes, some of the things you said in your Make Nine post resonated with me – aiming to make things that actually suit you and your life. I must hop back over actually and reply to your last comment! And thank you for your support, I am really looking forward to these plans and today’s the day we make a start on the sweater! One thing’s for sure: it will be a SLOW sweater!! xx

  2. Beck

    So much wisdom here – good luck with these 2018 goals. The line that resonated the most with me is that we have far more ideas than time – dealing with that reality is something I really struggle with myself!! And those two matching penguin sweaters just made my heart melt! I don’t sew for my son, mostly because he outgrows everything in 2 months so it just doesn’t seem worth the effort but some quick-to-sew knit wear could be an exception!!!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thank you Beck! I feel so zen after some time away from it all, and I want to make that feeling last. I suspect the answer lies within myself, hence the resolutions… Yes, the time vs ideas balance is cruel, isn’t it?! I have started a spreadsheet with fabrics in my stash, patterns I want to make, and what matches what, in the hope that this might cut down some dithering time and let more ideas take shape… but we’ll see! I think it’s harder to sew for boys than girls because the styles are not as varied, and also if you use offcuts from your own projects to make clothes for a little one, they’re more likely to be girly fabrics than boyish ones! I couldn’t resist the penguin fabric though, I’m really happy you like it too!! (Also I have seen a couple of blog posts from you in my inbox and hope to make it over before the end of the day to catch up on what you’ve been sewing while I’ve been offline!)

  3. Sew Sarah Smith

    I loved this post, we could chat about this for hours. And we will I hope. You’re absolutely right on so many levels here. My goal for 2018 is to be more focused, and that means as you rightly say, slowing down and enjoying every bit of the process – it’s a reminder that, really, I’m sewing for my well-being. It’s amazing how quickly we can shift our own goal posts isn’t it away from what was initially intended. I hear you Helen xx

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      That is such a good way of describing it Sarah. No-one makes me sew things I don’t want to, and yet… yep, it was me who shifted the goal posts. Argh yes please can we chat about this for hours? And a million other things too? We surely deserve to make catching up a new year’s resolution too?! xxx

  4. Caroline

    I’m definitely resolving to slow down and enjoy the process and planning ahead really helps me. I also had a pre-Christmas red (ish) dress disaster. I loved every minute of seeing my maroon needlecord Tova hack and the finished result is lovely…but it isn’t me and won’t get worn. Once some time has passed it’ll be refashioned!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Hi Caroline, thanks for stopping by! It seems like slowing down is a good resolution for 2018. I like to plan too, I feel ridiculously stressed if I don’t know what I want to do! Your needlecord dress sounds lovely – do you have a blog where I could see it? I understand what you mean about it not feeling “right” though. It’s good to try different things and not get stuck in a rut, but not good to try and force ourselves into styles that feel all wrong – it goes against the point of sewing our own wardrobes doesn’t it!!

      1. Caroline

        I don’t have a blog, though I’d like to work towards becoming more of a part of the sewing community by starting to post what I make on Instagram. But I learned all I know from indie patterns and blog posts and tutorials so I’d like to add my experiences into the mix too by blogging one day. I have only been seeing since last May but most of my clothes are made by me – I’m addicted!

        1. valentineandstitch Post author

          Wow, you have done a lot in 8 months! I really enjoy writing a blog, though a couple of years ago I stated vehemently that it’s not something I would ever see myself doing – I find that very funny now, looking back!!! One of my favourite things about sewing is that you’re always learning – it’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I still love discovering new things. So there is much to look forward to with your new addiction!!

  5. Kelly

    I really enjoyed your post Helen. 🙂 Very thoughtful. Although I find the end of the year/beginning of a new year to be bittersweet it is an important part of my life to create resolutions and review past resolutions. I have yet to dive in to specific sewing resolutions but your “slow sewing” resolution really resonated with me. I usually begin the month with a list of patterns I would like to sew and I used to think I needed to get through them no matter what but I started to lose sight of the beauty of the process. There is so much I love about sewing including all the little things like the sound of cutting fabric or the way the sewing machine light casts down on my projects. I really love being in those moments. I want to capture more of those moments this year so thank you for reminding us that we not only should be more in the moment in our every day but in our projects too. Happy New Year Helen! 🙂

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Happy New Year to you too Kelly! And I’m glad this post struck a chord with you too. What you describe about those pockets of joy and really being “in the moment” is why I had “slow sewing” as a resolution last year, before I used social media or anything like that. Even without all the inspiration and ideas that come with a sewing community, like you I found I was just ticking things off a list, and the more I did the more I thought I could do. Then suddenly it hit me that I was only thinking about the end result. The process is so important and that’s what I want to enjoy. I expect I’ll forget or fail many times in the course of the year but I want to keep remembering to get back on the wagon afterwards! Like you the transition from one year to the next is a time of reflection for me, for both good things and less good things. I’m looking forward to talking “sewing, life and things in between” with you more throughout 2018! 😘

      1. Kelly

        Hehe 🙂 Aww you remembered my blog tag! You used it so much better than I ever could! We all fail and forget bits and pieces or our entire resolution and that is okay as long as we keep trying. I’m glad you are trying “slow sewing” again this year. I think you are going to find a lot of joy in it and a supportive community standing behind you. I also look forward to talking sewing. life and things in between for this coming year! I can’t wait to see how we grow as sewists, as individuals and as friends! 🙂

        1. valentineandstitch Post author

          Yes! Me too. So much to talk about this year, and it will be all the more fun for being “slow”. And yes, let’s try not to berate ourselves if we “fall off the wagon” and just pick ourselves up and get back on! 😘

  6. Sil

    Firstly, congrats on a very productive and creative year, releasing many gorgeous patterns in 2017. I love all your resolutions, especiually slow sewing – it’s one of mine as well! And how sweet and nice are your labels (and your husband’s gesture). 2018 will be an even better year!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thank you Sil, Happy New Year to you too! I think you’re right that 2018 will be even better, because it will benefit from everything learned in 2017. It seems a lot of us feel the same about “slow sewing”. The labels are so cute aren’t they? Now I mustn’t forget to sew them into all my makes!

  7. Kate

    Slow sewing seems to be a common theme this year, which I am really pleased to hear! I think it is so easy to get out of control with hobbies like sewing and actively forget about the realities of everyday life. Or maybe that’s just me. I have actively had to designate some evenings to be non sewing – should be easier now I’ve decided to do more blogging / reading other blogs / work on my photography. Good luck with the plans for this year and look forward to seeing what you make / patterns you release. PS – little miss looks delightful in her matching dress!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Hi Kate, yes we are definitely on the same page with slow sewing! I don’t really need that many clothes, but I do enjoy the process and so am trying to be selective and also think about what other things I could sew instead of buying (hello, slippers!) Working on your photography sounds fun. For some reason this week I’ve been hankering to try crochet, but I think it goes against my desire to slow down as it doesn’t necessarily mean I’d sew less!! Thanks for your kind words about 2018 plans and of course about my little lady – I think she’s my favourite person to sew for 😍

  8. Diane G

    I loved reading your thoughts Helen. The idea of taking time over each stage of sewing and being mindful over each stage sounds like something I ought to do and I so wish I could tap into my feelings on what I really like to wear and feel good in because I get so easily tempted by styles, plus my eclectic tastes always have me experimenting. I actually think you know yourself really well and your red Christmas dress was a mere blip. By the way, I’m sure your lovely children will absolutely love their mummy making them fab clothes and I look forward to seeing your 4 planned new patterns for 2018. All the best xxx

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Diane! That’s funny because I think of you as someone who is mindful of every stage – I’ve never known you rush or bodge! I love every bit of sewing, even the less exciting parts, but feel sad to think how many times I have wished stages away (I wish this was already cut out, I wish my machine would thread itself, I wish I didn’t have to baste this seam… etc). No more! At least, I’ll try 😉 I also think of you as someone with a clearly defined style, it’s really interesting to hear you say you get sidetracked by new trends. I’ve never seen you in something where I’ve thought “ooh, that doesn’t look right” – you know your colours and lines really well! I find that the few times I’ve gone against my gut instinct about what will suit me, I’ve ended up with a garment I don’t wear. Mainly I experiment because my style is so simple I think I ought to mix it up a bit! Maybe I’ll just stick with simple 😂

  9. Sarah Liz

    Slowing down sounds like absolute bliss and something we all need to do more off! Lovely post, which I have read, absorbed and enjoyed. Unfortunately, time precludes me commenting at length today for reasons which will quickly appear on my blog later!

    I like your 2018 goals – sewing for others and sewing for yourself in the way you want to sew seems a very nice idea. I also have trouble with focus, for exactly the same reasons …ideas, ideas…time???

    I will be very distracted for a few weeks so will not be commenting much on the blog or on IG, but I have not disappeared and will be making sure Make A Garment a Month is still going!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thank you Sarah Liz. I’m sorry to hear 2018 is not giving you much breathing space yet, and really appreciate you stopping by. Yes, I have realised that slowing down is something to aspire to, not to fear. I get so caught up in wanting things now, wanting to know if the idea in my head will work, wanting the safety of lots of finished garments to choose from when I’m getting dressed… but what’s the point if I haven’t enjoyed the process? Now if only I could magic up more time… Thanks again for running MAGAM – it’s a wonderful challenge. I commented on your last blog post but I’ve checked and it didn’t publish – I don’t know why blogspot dislikes me so, I have the same problem with another blog I read regularly! I’ll try again today… In the meantime, I hope you can carve out some time for yourself while things are so hectic around you.


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