Tidbits #8 - Sewed all the pants, bought all the fabric, now what's next for 2020?

Tidbits #8 - Sewed all the pants, bought all the fabric, now what's next for 2020?

Dear readers,

All my best wishes for your sewing projects in 2020! This is the 8th edition of Tidbits, and as often, it’s a mixture of life update and sewing thoughts. These have always been my favorite kinds of posts to write, so I hope that you continue to enjoy them!

Life update and the year of pants

As some of you already know, 2019 was an “interesting” year to say on a personal and professional level but also sewing wise and for Just Patterns. Geographically, it started in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where my day job was located then, I suddenly had to relocate to France for some time. Late September, I moved to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to start a new job. I am grateful because 1) it looks like we are going to be stationed here for a while, and 2) life is more straightforward than in Port-au-Prince. But I am also tired!

My time in France was both lovely and stressful. I was looking for a new position, which is never a pleasant task for me, but it also meant that I had an unusual amount of free time for sewing and sewing-related activities! I did not do an accurate inventory, but looking at what I posted on Instagram, I sewed between 25 to 30 garments between February and September. It’s a considerable output for me and my closet since aside from a Wiksten Haori for my mom and 2 garments for the little human, it was all for me! It’s likely why I do not have sewing plans for 2020.

I made an effort to sew cohesively last year, I don’t see significant gaps in my handmade wardrobe right now. I can honestly say that I’m happy with my closet! One hole that I closed last year was handmade pants. I had not sewn pants in a while because I never found patterns that I truly liked, and I could find decent looking options in RTW. But last year, I made 6 pairs, all the patterns I used were successes, and the finished garments are now in heavy rotation! I made 2 pairs of jeans (Morgan and Dawn), 2 pairs of Persephone pants (I already owned 2 pairs), 1 pair of Pietra Pants, and 1 pair of Burnside Bibs. I don’t know if you experience similar cycles, but I tend to run through sewing phases, and I think it’s fair to say that 2019 was my year of making pants.

My sewing machines have just arrived in Kinshasa, I should be bursting with the need to make, but I struggled to think of what I wanted to sew. Until I saw a skirt on Instagram last Sunday and decided I needed to make it that day. Which is what I did (see a sneak peek above), and it seemed to have reignited the flame. I already prepared the pattern for my next project, and I hope to cut my fabric tonight. Maybe 2020 will be the year of impulse sewing, which can be extremely gratifying when things work out. Sewing really does feel like a superpower when you see a picture of a garment, run to your sewing room, and exit with the clothing you love! I’ll admit that I may have skipped a few steps, but the overall feeling is the same.

Sew much fabric…

I also bought quite a lot of fabric, which I feel conflicted about. When I arrived in France, I had time on my hands, my mom’s sewing machine, and no stash since I had to wait for the shipment of my personal belongings. It was the perfect excuse for some radical fabric shopping and an excellent opportunity to discover new-to-me shops:

  • Coup de Coudre in Versailles, a lovely small studio in Versailles that also sells French Indie patterns and teaches classes ;

  • and General Diff in Le Sentier - the garment district of Paris, where you can get designer and couture fabrics.

I also participated in a sewing meet-up, Paris Coud, where I could not resist the peer pressure and the excitement to shop my old favorite neighborhood joint, Sacré Coupons. When I lived in Paris, my apartment was one street away, and I used to go there weekly. I always loved their silk selection, and I again found good stuff. What stroke me most was how full the store was compared to 10 years ago. Dressmaking is definitely having a moment in France!

Overall, I bought a little over 50 meters throughout the year. According to my rough estimate, I already sewed through 1/3 of it, but it’s still a lot of fabric. Especially if you consider that my entire stash measured around 100 meters before. I don’t enjoy having a large fabric stash. It makes me feel guilty and is somewhat paralyzing. At the same time, browsing fabric stores in person is one of my favorite sewing things (online fabric shopping is not for me!), and I do need to maintain a stash when I live in locations where the fabric offer is limited or specialized. I am not making a new year resewlution to ban fabric purchases, because I know I would fail immediately (and I already spotted some unique pieces of Vlisco wax here in Kinshasa…). Still, I do want to focus on using what I have and diminish my stash significantly.

Just Patterns

It was also an exciting year for Just Patterns. Like many others, 2019 was the year that we decided to improve our size range. It had been too restricted since the beginning, so I was glad to have time this year to start tackling it. We successfully updated our bestseller, the Stephanie skirt, with the new size range and step-by-step instructions. I even wrote a full sew along!

Writing that sew-along was extremely time-consuming for me, even for what I consider a simple skirt that I could sew in my sleep (almost). I don’t know if I’ll do many of those in the future, but it was definitely interesting to try it out. I’m also happy to have revamped the website and merged it with my personal sewing blog. It was the right move for me. Now, I am finally satisfied with how things look, it’s easier to manage, and I actually look forward to posting!

For 2020 we already have a couple of things planned, including a new pattern release (finally!!)! I will also be writing my traditional annual income report and lessons learned for the patterns. I really look forward to the discussion that usually follows these posts, let me know if you would like me to cover specific elements this year.

I have more sewing tidbits coming your way soon. I realized that this year marks my 20th year of sewing, and it triggered all sorts of reflections on sewing, speed, quality, and personal style, which I hope to share soon.

Until then, happy sewing!

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