As the new year is upon us, I’m enjoying all of the sewing recaps on instagram and on blogs. It’s exciting to see what people can make in a year. I’ve been sewing quite a few years and wish I had kept track of all the things I’ve made, well, maybe not all things. I did make a few things in the 80’s that...well imagine handmade 80’s and you might know what I mean. But even still, I would love to be able to look at what I’ve done and how I’ve grown.
My husband is a painter and he does a great job of photographing and cataloging all of his work. Artists have retrospectives and catalogs that encompass their life’s work. And although I don’t consider myself an artist, sewing is part of my life’s work and a couple of years ago I decided I would do a better job of documenting it.
I don’t save everything I make. I just couldn’t and wouldn’t considering all the use someone else could get out of garments I no longer have a use for (plus, I absolutely love finding a handmade garment in a thrift store and hope my handmade garments make someone else happy in a thrift store too). Yes, those projects that have a really special place in my heart, my daughter’s easter dress, the first shirt I made my son and the shirts I made for my husband when we first married, among others have found a place in a memory box. But other than that, the things I made are just a memory.
I have a simple way of documenting my makes that doesn’t take up a lot of space and takes moments (because if it takes too long it simply won’t get done!)
Because fabric is the driving force in all of my sewing I save a 4” x 5” swatch of my fabric. I put all the swatches on a safety pin and all the pins on a ring. Then I keep a sewing journal and in a two line entry I write the project, pattern and fabric. That’s it! I know it’s really simple but already it’s been fun for me to look at the swatches and see what I’ve made in just the 2 years I’ve been doing this.
Documenting can be done in all sorts of ways. With cell phone cameras, a photo album might work best for you. You may want to keep an online journal (I do a handwritten one because when my mom passed away it brought me comfort to look through her cookbooks for her handwritten notes...handwriting is so personal), a binder with more details, a page in your calendar or even notecards. Whatever works for you.
I hope this new year brings you lots of sewing time and I hope you take the time to document your work, time, effort and creativity. It’s brought me so much joy and I hope it will for you too.
If you enjoy taking notes on your projects, check out my free sewing project cards. I have one for each of my patterns and a blank one you can use for anything.
2019 was a year of healing and growth for me and sewing was central to all of it. Yes, I know at it’s core, sewing is only building something with fabric but it really can be and usually is so much more. I carefully documented all of my makes this year (more about documenting makes in a future post) because I needed to see my efforts and growth consolidated in one place.
My goal last year with my sewing was to help strengthen and heal my hands without occupational therapy. As some of you know, I have nerve damage from complications of Lyme disease treatment so atrophy, numbness, pain, diminished fine motor and tremors are new challenges in my life and in my sewing. Every single one of us has challenges and I’ve had the pleasure of watching others use sewing as a way to overcome challenges and I too will tell anyone that sewing keeps me sane, but I knew it could also help me physically.
Although sewing is much more challenging than it’s ever been it is no less fulfilling and arguably even more. It’s exciting to see that every project gets a little easier and a little faster so visible progress has not only been good for my body but good for my soul. I still have the challenges but through adaptation (a few new sewing tools and techniques), practice and renewed confidence I’m not discouraged but empowered. And on top of it all I did so much more than I expected and filled my closet with some happy new clothes! So on to the recap:
Total Number of Projects: 49 (46 garments and 3 “other” projects)
Most Proud of: “Occupational Therapy Shirt” (this was the first project of the year and started it all)
Most Worn: New Look 6413 navy print dress
Most Used Pattern: Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet (I made it 6 times)
Gifts aka "unselfish sewing": 14
Most Fun to Make: Robes for my girlfriends
Fail: Workout wear (I found some great patterns but I wasn’t happy with my fabric choices)
New Patterns: 14 “new to me” patterns
Friends, it was a lot of sewing this year and I’m looking eagerly into 2020 and don’t expect to make as many projects but to make fewer things with more details. What are your plans this year? And what did you make in 2019 that was special?
And to help you with your 2020 sewing goals, get 20% off all PDF patterns in the store with code: NEWDECADE today through January 5th, 2020.
Thanks for reading!
Hi! I'm Diane, a wife, mom, sewing teacher and pattern designer from sunny Southern California. I share my sewing adventures here on the Blue Dot Blog formerly Gatorbunnysews. For more info click here.