2012 Monthly Apparel Challenge
Becca is a music teacher who knits, spins, sews and tries to keep up with her three young sons in her beloved Minneapolis, MN. You can follow her attempts to sew her way through 2012 at her blog and on Twitter. She is also on Ravelry, where she attempts to design and share a pattern now and then.
I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to take a look back at the previous year and think about what I’ve done. Usually I like to challenge myself somehow, but when I looked back at 2011 I found it to be a bit ho-hum. Not that I didn’t make a lot of things, I just didn’t push myself to do anything new. I’ve learned a lot of skills since I first picked up a pair of knitting needles 8 years ago. I can knit myself a gorgeous lace shawl or a sweater that actually fits. I can spin a consistent yarn that’s nice enough to knit something with. I can make myself a quilt. And I can throw together a pair of pajama pants for my boys in my sleep. What I realized I can’t do yet, is — sew my own clothing.
Now, I can sew up a basic skirt out of old t-shirts. And I did sew a skirt with a zipper in it once, but it was unlined, a bit wonky and way too big. So there’s a start. But the more I thought about it, I realized that after eight years of being the mom in a wrinkled t-shirt and baggy jeans, I wanted clothes. Real clothes. Unique clothes that were beautiful and fit me properly. I wanted skirts, blouses, dresses and pants that didn’t fall down. And I wanted to make them myself.
That’s when I decided it was time for a new challenge in 2012. I’m calling it Monthly Apparel, and it’s my personal challenge to take my sewing skills to a new level. At the beginning of each month I’ll pick a pattern. I’ll take the month to work on it and by the end of the month I’ll blog about how it went. I plan on working on more fitted, tailored clothing, but I also expect to try to make the perfect t-shirt and maybe even attempt a pair of pants. I’ll use wovens and knits, cottons, wools and silks. And by 2013 I should have twelve lovely new pieces of clothing in my wardrobe!
Now, a challenge like this is no fun alone. So I invite you to take up the challenge as well! Maybe you have your mother’s sewing machine hiding in the closet because you’re terrified to even plug it in. Maybe you’re a seasoned sewer who sews for everyone else but never yourself. Or maybe you’re like me, somewhere in the middle and hoping to push yourself to the next step. Wherever you are, I would love to have your company while I take on this challenge.
Now to get started, I’ve found some wonderful resources to help me (and you!) on this journey.
The following five sites are my very favorite for tutorials, patterns and inspiration:
And of course, we need books!
- For those who have never/barely touched a sewing machine: Stitch by Stitch by Deborah Moebes
- For basic garment sewing skills: The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook by Nora Abousteit, The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick and Sew U by by Wendy Mullin
- For drafting and designing patterns: Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch
- For working with knits: Sew U Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin
- For using applique, hand stitching and other unique additions: Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin
Lastly, no sew-along is complete without a brand new Monthly Apparel Flickr group to share ideas, questions and lovely new garments!
I’m quite excited to see how this challenge progresses. I’m having visions of my fabric stash shrinking and a closet filled with new, beautiful clothing. I’m a little nervous that accomplishing this without driving my family crazy or feeding them nothing but cereal for supper might be more than I can handle. Despite my worry, I think this is a doable challenge. Some months might be less complex than others, and I’m sure there will be at least one month that I go back to my ever-easy recycled t-shirt skirt pattern. As I sew, I’m hoping to inspire others to take up the challenge as well, playing a part in this wonderful revival of garment sewing we’ve been seeing these past few years. I do hope you’ll join me!