Happy New Year, folks!

Can you believe it’s 2014 already?

I’m feeling quite a bit worse for wear today after one too many glasses of champagne yesterday, but I’m extremely excited about this year. 2013 was a bit of a mixed bag in all – and when it comes to sewing, it slowed down a little by the end.

Hopefully, that won’t be the case this year. I’ve got a few challenges going for 2014, which you can find full details of here. But the most important one you guys should know about is as follows:

Earlier this year I popped a list of all those projects I’ve passed up into a fancy jar, which currently gathers dust on my bedside table. For each month of 2014, I’ll take a Can’t out of the jar and get it done, once and for all. Some things, like a coat for example, will take up the whole month with just one project while others can comprise of lots of different ones. I want to push the boundaries of what I can sew by getting out of my comfort zone. Should be fun!

This month, it’s all about sequins. I’ve never sewn sequinned embellishments and I’ve never used sequin fabric – so this could either be an awesome new skill or a recipe for disaster. I’ll be posting some inspiration for sequinned projects this month – hopefully ones which can travel, as I’ll be moving to London in a week and I’ll need something I can stitch on the move!

For now, I’ve got a pair of trousers almost finished and I’m in dire need of a long snooze…

And of course, if you’re stuck for a New Year’s resolution – you can always take on the Seamless Pledge!

Getting back on the Seamless Pledge wagon with a new challenge

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One of the best things about sewing is having complete freedom over your wardrobe.

You don’t have to make concessions for fabric and fit when you’re the one making the things you’re wearing.

But, I don’t know about you, I find I still have a long “no can do” sewing list of garments and techniques I won’t touch.

Sometimes it’s because it’s too time consuming, other times it’s because I feel like I’ll make a right old mess of things.

And when you’re taking a pledge not to buy any new clothes, it can lead to some difficulties.

Confession time: while I haven’t returned to my shopping habits of old, I have broken the pledge a few times in the last couple of months.

It all started when I foolishly decided to do the Cardiff Half Marathon (I DON’T EVEN LIKE RUNNING ARGHH).

My running gear is threadbare to say the least – basically, I’m the person who will happily run in her pajama bottoms if they can pass for joggers at a distance.

Yep this is a pretty accurate depiction of how I run

Yep this is a pretty accurate depiction of me trying to run

And that is totally fine when you attempt a half-hearted run around your local neighbourhood before returning 10 minutes later, panting and wheezing even though you stopped every 30 seconds.

A half marathon is serious business. Holey pajamas and my brother’s stolen hoodie would not do.

Except I ended up getting beyond frustrated hunting for the right fabric and patterns for what I wanted, simple as it was… and one lunch break I popped into a sports shop and gave in.

The guilt is pretty much going to power me through those 13 miles in a few weeks. I didn’t even break my pledge on something pretty – I broke it for some cutoffs and fluro racerback.

OH THE HUMANITY

And it’s amazing how quickly you can start slipping into old habits once you’ve had your first lapse.

Never fear! I’m back on the wagon now – but it got me thinking.

I basically gave in because I thought to myself: “I just can’t make this.”

And the more I thought about it, the more I realised just how long my “can’t sew” list is.

Let’s see, we’ve got trousers, sequin fabric, coats and jackets… I’m all about the “make do and mend” ethos, but I haven’t exactly got a can-do attitude when it comes to sewing.

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So I wrote all my “no can sews” down and popped them in a jar – appropriately labelled as the “Can’t jar”.

The plan is to pick out one at random until I’ve got through the whole thing – and hopefully come out a better seamstress by the end of it.

I won’t lie, I’m a little daunted! One of the challenges in there is to sew a faux-leather jacket – probably the most complicated thing I’ll ever attempt.

Oh, and for those of you who may be wondering – sewing fitness stuff is most definitely in there!

Over to you: what would you put in your can’t jar?

Although before you respond… beware! I may well rope you in to the challenge too…

Seamless needs YOU

Things are looking a little different around here! My good friend and all-round talented lady Martha Moreno kindly donated some of her time and waved her wand of creativity to spruce Seamless up a little. Doesn’t it look great? I love how the blog has a real retro feel to it now.

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If you want to update the button on your blog, the new code is:

[a href=”https://seamlessblog.wordpress.com/the-pledge/&#8221; target=”_blank”>[img src=”https://seamlessblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/button.png&#8221; alt=”The Seamless Pledge” /]</a] (replace the [ ] with < >)

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She also created this schnazzy little card you can download and print off to fit in your wallet. The brainchild of fellow blogger Gillian, it’s a gentle reminder in your purse just in case you get tempted while out shopping.

It seemed right to go for a little redesign now – when I started the pledge as a baby journalist a little more than a year ago, I didn’t really expect anyone to pay any attention. 100 posts, 901 comments, 55,200 views and an amazing 150 pledgers later (give or take!), I think it’s safe to say I was mistaken.

I definitely don’t plan on quitting anytime soon – and here’s where you come in. I’ve got an idea for a little project to get people thinking about the pledge once more, but I need your help to get this ball rolling.

All I need are some willing volunteers who aren’t camera-shy. You don’t have to be from the UK, no siree. In fact, the more people from across the world, the better. You also don’t have to be pledging  right now. Perhaps you’ve done it in the past or you’re planning to. As I said, the more the merrier.

While I’m calling for volunteers, I may as well mention that if you’re interested in doing any guest posts, do let me know.

You can probably tell I’m wanting to keep this project under wraps until I get it off the ground! For more details (only if you can keep a secret!) just shoot me an email on elenamcresci at gmail dot com with the subject “Seamless project”.

In the meantime, what do you all make of the new design? Do you love it as much as I do?

Why don’t my shoes last?

If my shoes aren’t well-worn, there’s (usually) something wrong with them.

20130110-230124.jpgWell, except for these bad boys. They can take ANYTHING

Perhaps it’s all the stomping I do, but it doesn’t take too long before my shoes are well and truly scuffed, as I’m wobbling on uneven heels and just hoping the holes will stay away for another day. Being a pair of my shoes can’t be easy.

Rather than buy multiple pairs of shoes, I tend to wear one pair to death before grudgingly moving on to the next. Usually, this process can take about a year at the most. But lately, I’ve noticed my shoes wearing down quicker and quicker.

Is it just me, or are shoes just not made to last? It makes sense really – if they’re cheaply made, the prices will be down in the shops and people won’t really mind spending £2 on something they’ll chuck away in a matter of months.

Sound familiar? This is more or less exactly how I saw my shopping habits pre-Seamless pledge.

This is the reason shoes are exempt from my pledge – but I don’t really buy them often anymore. Even when I make a conscious decision to splash out a little more on a new pair of shoes, they just don’t seem to be able to handle my endless tramping around.

Then I’m back to square one, buying tacky shoes which won’t last two minutes because it’s not worth parting with more cash for a pair which won’t last much longer.

That said, there must be some reputable brands out there which aren’t going to fall apart at the drop of a hat? I got lucky with a pair of second-hand floral Doctor Martens on eBay a few months ago and they’re the best pair of shoes I think I’ve ever bought, but not quite work appropriate.

I’ve also got a battered pair of Converse which really should have given up by now – they’re a real pair of troopers, already scuffed when I bought from for five Euro at a flea market in Dortmund. But they’re still going strong!

What are your favourite shoes? When it comes to your shoe rack, is it a case of less is more, or do you need to stock up just so you can do some damage limitation by rotating which ones you wear?

Well, hello there 2013

Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe how quickly this year has gone by?

some of 2012's makesSome projects from 2013…

It feels like just yesterday I was talking about my sewing goals for 2012. So how did I get on?

Well, I didn’t sew more. In fact, I think I sewed a bit less. Quality was a high priority, but my sewing abilities have yet to catch up with my ambitions.

But meeting new bloggers? I’d say that’s been a resounding success, both in real life and online. Since the pledge got started, more than 100 people have joined in from across the world.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of my favourite bloggers in person and get to know some others via Twitter. Even if my sewing doesn’t get any better, I’d like to keep this going.

Here are some things I’d like to achieve with the Pledge and my sewing this year:

1. Sew a work-ready wardrobe

You all know how much I love a good pencil skirt. In the next couple of months, I’d like to sew some classy clothes suitable for work. They’ll need to be well-made,  so it’s again a case of quality over quantity.

2. Tights, pants and shoes

As you know, underwear is exempt from my Pledge and while I certainly don’t buy as many shoes as I used to, I’m still buying them once I’ve worn my favourites  ’til they have holes in them. My aim for 2013 is to find places to buy tights, pants and shoes which are more in-keeping with the ethos of the pledge.

3. Reboot the pledge

The Pledge is just over a year old now, but I want to take it somewhere new. I’ve been chatting to Gillian and Clare about revamping the pledge for 2013. We’ve got some exciting ideas, so keep your eyes peeled for more information including how you can get involved…

Have you got much planned for 2013? Do let me know!

Featured Pledger: Jenn (Made to Fit)

For some, the Seamless Pledge is a complete lifestyle overhaul that’s difficult to manage. A few people have contacted me worried they won’t be able to take it because it might not work with their situation. So I’m happy to introduce you to Jenn, someone who’s made a few amendments to her pledge since she started to better suit her lifestyle.

Name: Jenn

Website: http://madetofit-jenn.blogspot.co.uk/

Pledging until she moves to her new house!

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

After I moved to New Zealand I had a hard time finding clothes. When I first heard about the pledge I had a closet full of worn out clothes I loved and newer clothes that didn’t fit well and I rarely wore. I thought it would be a great way to think more closely about the clothes I needed to add to my closet. When each item takes 2-4 weeks to sew, they all have to be closely considered.

I have mostly kept to the pledge. I pledged until we had moved into our new house, which was originally scheduled to be this past June. It’s now been delayed until December, but I don’t see myself giving up the pledge anytime soon.

I did slip in May – it was getting colder here and I needed some sweaters. I don’t knit and haven’t sewed with sweater knits, so I bought a couple of cardigans and a sheath dress for winter. I think it’s a good idea to have a couple of ‘get out of jail free’ cards for these types of emergencies.

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

I no longer go to the mall. Instead I now spend my spare time dreaming about fabric. It wasn’t a huge change – I love the challenge of trying new, increasingly difficult patterns. I also love that I now wear mostly natural, luxurious fabrics. For example, I can afford silk and linen fabric, whereas I wouldn’t generally be able to afford them in RTW.

My husband bought a pair of poly dress pants for a wedding in June. I made my dress (silk) and my son’s pants and vest (lightweight wool suiting). I am so happy to be able to sew, and not have to deal with plasticky fabrics (although I did have to hem his pants the night before the wedding)

My son was originally part of the pledge, but is growing so quickly I couldn’t keep up. He has a few items that I’ve sewn for him and I prefer them to RTW – where else can you find grey sweatpants with elephants on them? I’ve made my husband a few merino t-shirts, Colette Negroni shirts, and have plans for a few more shirts for him.

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing?

Sew multiples. For me the hardest part is not having enough to wear. When I sewed my fall wardrobe I made two A-line skirts, two knit tees and two sleeveless blouses, using the same patterns. Fitting a new pattern is time consuming, especially when you end up with a wadder, so once you find something that works, make multiples.

Also, consider what your lifestyle requires. Right now I’m doing a set of Fall work clothes that all coordinate. It’s not much fun, mostly neutrals, but it’s practical and I’ll wear them to death. I motivate myself by alternating something ‘practical’ with something fun. I finished a navy blouse, then sewed my Macaron. I’m almost done with a navy sheath dress, and next I’ll be making a fun casual dress. It’s important not to get bored.

Thanks Jen! Make sure you go read her blog here. Even if you’ve finished your pledge or had to give it up, I’d love to hear from you. 

Featured Pledger: Vicki Kate (Vicki Kate Makes)

Seamless’ second featured pledger is Vicki Kate, who’s midway through her pledge and has some serious stitching skills. Can you believe her dress is made from two bedsheets? Have a read about her pledge experiences:

Name: Vicki Kate

Website: http://vickikatemakes.wordpress.com

One year, from 30th birthday to 31st on the 24 Nov ’12 – new decade, new lifestyle commitment!

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

It was a mixture of fortuitous timing in discovering the pledge and wanting to take more responsibility for our world just as I hit 30. Being a Mum has completely changed my perspective on pretty much everything.  I need to lead by example to ensure my son grows up with a sense of responsibility, not just to his immediate community but the worldwide one too. It also gives me incentive (which is now habit) to shop second hand, search charity stores and eBay rather than buying new.  My sewing of garments has gone up a gear too, which was part of the plan!

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

I’m a much more thoughtful shopper and not just when it comes to clothing. It’s spread to my grocery shopping (with regards to origin rather than it being pre-loved!) and also made me go to my fabric stash rather than shops for my material. I am so envious of the estate sale and thrift store hauls our US friends score! There’s nothing like that in my experience in Norfolk, UK. A positive is my limited funds go further.

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing?

Examine what you wear! I bet it’s 10% of your total. Look for items that work with that 10% but limit where you look.  If you freak out about charity shops (my sister does), go for eBay as, while you’ll pay more, there is better choice.  Also, develop some patience as sometimes you have to look for a while to find what you want. I’m still looking for the perfect red Mary Jane shoes!  Failing that, learn to sew! But that in itself leads to other consumer issues.

I’d heartily recommend Zoe’s blog for someone wanting to know how to live sustainably and Miss P’s blog for refashioning tips to make those charity shop finds perfect. Finally, train yourself to look beyond a garment’s (or pattern for that matter) first appearance. With a little ingenuity that granny tartan skirt could be amazing! 

Make sure you check out Vicki Kate’s blog for more on her creations. Want to be a featured pledger? Get in touch.