Presenting my #frugalfrocks2021

When it was announced that Sam (@Frugalisama) and Ruan (@TheYorkshireSewGirl) had put together the #frugalfrocks challenge i initially thought I’ll keep it simple. Less stress. Hahaha…of course dear 🤥🤣

I began feverishly scouring the net via trusty Google, downloaded several different patterns from the Sinclair Valley Knit Skater Dress to the Untitled Thoughts Louise Wrap Dress and many others as well. Then I turned to my trusty printer which has never let me down. However, it has also been sat unused for some time. In fact since I last moved things around in my Lair of Craft, it hasn’t even been plugged in. It was when I was plugging it in, I realised the cable which runs from pc to printer was now too short, so I ordered a new longer cable. So far so good. Then the pc and printer confer and tell me I need more ink, lots of ink. So I trudge to the store and buy more.

I change the ink out and attempt to print. No black showing on paper. The colours come through fine but black is a no show. Outcome? Endless cleaning of headers and test prints later, patchy black at best, losing patience and seriously considering chucking the printer through the window. Time for a cuppa and a rethink. Whilst giving my formerly beloved printer the death stare and sipping tea between muttered words I shall not repeat here, I glanced toward my bookcase and spotted the pile of magazines that I was at one point buying every month. 💡😯

I have free patterns. Paper patterns! Quick gulp of tea and I throw myself bodily at the shelving containing my pattern hoard. I mean stash. Curated collection?…Let’s go with that. Whilst sorting and musing over many free patterns from various sewing magazines I come across more patterns my mom gave me nearly two decades ago. Now you may remember from my last blog that I’d finally used one of the patterns she gave me to create a faux wrap top. There were several more vintage patterns as well.

It is one of these I inevitably chose. The Style 2077. It is a wrap dress which has two different views/lengths to pick from. View 1 is a mid calf length with full panelled skirt. View 2, the one i chose to make has a pleated tulip skirt which ends just above the knee. The pattern states it is a size 8-18 which on the sizing chart on the pattern sleeve goes from a 31.5 – 40 inch bust and a 33.5 – 42 inch hip. I chose to use the size 18 in accordance with my current bust measurement.

Pattern sorted, onto the fabric! I spent hours trying to decide, whilst tripping (yes, literally) over a bag of scraps and remnants too small to put onto boards. Sat musing my choices, another light bulb moment. I do need to use the remnants up. No shelf space for them. How big are the pattern pieces?

If you haven’t already seen my stories on Instagram or my reveal post I did indeed end up using no less than 4 different fabric remnants to create my dress. Three of them, the dark green, purple and an earthy beige? They are very light weight and drapey. I believe those three are a polyester blend of some kind though not sure of the actual composition. The brighter green which i used for the back skirt i hadn’t planned on using but i ran out of fabric. Its slightly lighter in weight and if I’m honest i think it may actually be lining fabric but i really wanted to make this dress and the colours seem to work well together.

There have been a few alterations and general botching along the way. I ran out of big enough pieces for the facings so some are patchworked together from smaller pieces.

Alterations wise I’m not sure of the name, if it has one. I found whilst attaching the bodice to the skirt, that the waist sank toward my hips. It was level both front and back but not on the sides. A significant dip, i had to raise the sides nearly 2 inches! I still don’t think its completely straight. I judged it by eye whilst it was draped on Martha. Poor Martha. She’s been stabbed many times this month. With pins! Just pins. I also took in the darts by a few more cms than the pattern pieces stated as the dress looked shapeless without. The pattern suggests the waist is 32 inches and I’m 33 so I thought it would be bordering on tight once the darts were in but actually a little too roomy.

If I make this dress again, I think I would forget the armhole or skirt facings and possibly bind or just turn under the edges. I found the facings quite cumbersome on such a draped fabric and I’m sure they pull the fabric out of shape, not to mention the slip stitching which I think causes dimpling which is too obvious on a lightweight fabric. Also I’m not a fan of hand stitching so like to avoid as much as possible.

I used a couple of vintage buttons from a jar i think I bought from a charity shop several years ago for the button loops and the ties were made from a ribbon which I think was wrapped around a gift box i received. I know itd come in handy.

There was much cursing, unpicking, sewing, unpicking, swearing and general chaos but I completed it. I do believe it is the most frugal garment I have made to date and I enjoyed every minute! I’m now wondering what else I can create from the remaining scraps and what April will bring.

Happy sewing folks! Spring is sprung and she’s brought her sewjo!

Sowing seeds of hope

I’m not sure where to start. January has been a mixed bag overshadowed by low mood and even lower motivation. It still feels like 2020, its slimy grip keeping us in a chokehold as it clings on for a third bout. I’m aware this sounds melodramatic but I think I can safely say we are all exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically. It feels like a real slog at the moment as we wait for brighter days and some semblance of freedom.

In amongst the monotony there have been personal highlights for me. Even though my sewjo seemingly deserted me for most of last year amid my mental health struggles i still managed to do some sewing. I finally finished my #sewvintageseptember make in January no less. Only 3+ months late. 😂 I had several issues with it along the way. I’m sure they all could have been prevented if I had been in a better state of mind but I am happy that I persevered and feel I learnt a lot along the way. The bright colours alone make me smile not to mention pattern matching that zip. Also worthy of note the zip wasn’t designed to be invisible. 😉 😊

My #sewvintageseptember make using vintage pattern Butterick 4215

I wasn’t sure about the big collar or the hot pink fabric i chose for it. However I may be a big collar convert. 🤔 The only real issue i still have with this piece are the sleeves. The picture depicted on the pattern shows them as a normal short sleeve but upon adding them to the garment they were long enough to reach my elbow and extremely tight to boot! I shortened the sleeves and tried variations and alterations until I could lift my arms easier. Its still not perfect especially when it comes to trying to remove the dress. Lol I’m in two minds whether to see if I have enough of the purple fabric left to create new sleeves. I may be musing over that decision for a while. 🤷‍♀️

Moving on into 2021 proper and as part of my quest for balance this year I decided to take myself back to basics and focus on simpler makes and honing my skill level more. First on the sewing table was the Threadcount illusion wrap top 1502, View B. A pattern my mom gave me many moons ago. She had meant to create it herself but never did. I completed it on her birthday before raising a glass to her. I think she would have liked it.

Its a beginner friendly pattern and I loved making it. Its only my second real venture into using stretch fabrics. The only other time I’ve sewn any form of stretch was my TATB Stella hoodie which I made using a stretch knit velour. Poor Arthur struggled to sew it and it shows in the stitching. 😬 Sewing with my new machine was much less stressful (sorry Arthur), and I found the instructions clear and concise. Overall I’m happy with it and hope to make another in the future.

Threadcount illusion wrap top using a plain grey stretch poly & a vintage style rose print jersey.
Stretch rose Jersey bought from @rosysewsmodernvintagedestash on instagram
Main fabric is a grey poly jersey from @minervadotcom

I will be adding some small hand stitches in a couple of areas due to a shortage of fabric on the wrap pieces meaning the edges keep turning out as I move. That was a gamble on my part as I really wanted to use the vintage style rose jersey I bought from @rosysewsvintage during one of her destashes. It should be a simple fix and something I’ll keep in mind going forward.

In the coming months I plan to complete a few wip’s i have outstanding along with depleting my out of control alterations pile. It is seriously out of control, not even joking. 😳😆 I have a few ideas for new projects as well. But… 😉 all in good time my dears.

As we enter February I’m feeling hopeful. With the beginning of the month Imbolc heralds the return of spring and new beginnings. It brings to mind fresh pastels and blocks of colour shining through from the gloom and dark as crocuses and snowdrops rise from the earth. I celebrated the sabbat with a small rite, bringing together what I associate with the season.

Small altar space in celebration of Imbolc

They also work as a reminder to me to stay present and be mindful. To enjoy that which is around me and to be open to new possibilities and creative endeavours. Ideas are definitely flowing right now as my sewjo returns. The mindfulness is a work in progress but I’ll take it!

I feel there is much to come and I’m looking forward to the challenges and projects ahead. In the midst of the chaos around us, that glimmer of hope for good things to come is shining brighter every day. As I wrap this up i send Blessings to you all and may your sewjo burn bright and steady in the months ahead. 😘💞

I’m a work in progress, regardless of the year

Hello everyone! I have been absent for a while but I’m dipping my toe back in the writers pool again. This is a ramble so bear with me. The last week, I have deliberated what to write. If I should write at all. My mood has been low, my anxiety high. A lack of concentration and motivation.

Tis me!

I kept Yule and Xmas a relaxed affair knowing there was a tipping point i didn’t wish to cross. The season a minefield of memories from years past. Many nostalgic, if a little upsetting.

Therapy on hold over Christmas whilst my therapist was on annual leave. I hope they’ve had a good time. There were high’s with mine. Losing 4 games out of 6 at dominoes to my dad. One game a draw. Who knew he was a dominoes shark? Not me. 😉

Just a smattering of yuletide joy.

Also tearful lows. Christmas was always my mom’s favourite holiday. Many of her favourite movies on TV. I watched a few, had a good cry at times too. Its from her I gained my love of sewing.

I began writing thinking I would write about sewing but plans don’t always come to fruition. 2020 certainly proved that in extremis. The last few months were both hectic and unmotivating. I had some spare time but no inclination to do anything more with it. I’ve heard words being thrown around such as ‘burnouts and ‘adrenal fatigue’.

Part of me acknowledges this was bound to happen. An awful situation over a long period was bound to have a knock-on effect on people. Another part of me is angry that years have gone by before this pandemic with folk dealing with various mental illnesses with comments aimed at them such as ‘get a grip.’ ‘Its not that bad, it could be worse.’ ‘Smile, it might never happen.’

Apparently now greater numbers of people are feeling the strain, combating issues due to isolation, change and constant fear. Battling mental health issues. Now there is more understanding but,…for them. Not existing sufferers.

New comments range from, ‘you are so strong, but I guess you’re used to it.’ to :’How do you stay calm? No seriously give me tips.’ and,’Oh, well you can do this. You’ve had therapy before, so you already know how to cope. Why do you need to have it again?’

From VeryBritishProblems on instagram

These are just a few from the last few months. Its dismissive, insensitive and downright gut-churning at times. My mind has felt like a windowpane, every comment or excuse for behaviour another fracture, another crack until I can’t see clear through to the other side.

I’m not writing any of this for sympathy. I’ve mused over whether I should post it or keep it private. However, it occurred to me as I was writing my thoughts and feelings in my journal. As I excavated my way through the less pleasant brain debris that its likely, hell! Entirely possible I’m not the only one dealing with these offhand comments or outright disdain that continue to chip away and shatter our sense of self during a significant global event that has no visible end date.

Yes, everyone is in the same boat, but (heads up: taking a metaphor too far) we aren’t all holding to the stern of this ship as it sinks or even being saved and aided into another vessel. In my mental landscape I’m clinging onto debris and paddling like mad. There’s no lifeboat in sight but I can see a horizon. Miles in the distance and no discernible features yet I can feel a flicker of hope.

It seems an impossible situation yet I haven’t given up. Call me an eternal optimist, an errant dreamer or just a stubborn bull-headed Taurus. 😏 Name me what you will but I refuse to give in.

I’ve thought long and hard about what 2021 will entail. I’ve watched folk posting everything from new year resolutions to their #makenine lists. Their endless enthusiasm as a new year is afoot! And you know what I’ve decided? I’m not planning in details. There’ll be no #makenine this year. No concrete resolutions or must do lists.

This year instead of unnecessary pressure on myself, heartbreak over cancelled plans due to changes in restrictions. I’ve given myself a more wide encompassing set of goals.

Picking my brains,..got lost in a tangent

* Be me and don’t apologise for it.

* Enjoy each day as it comes.

* If my body needs rest, then REST!

* Everything in moderation.

I’ve been reading through @susannahconway Unravel Your Year 2021. Instead of a new years resolution im picking a word, for me, for the year.

BALANCE

Balance my time.

Balance my stressors against that which calms me.

Balance my finances.

We could all do with a little more balance. So going forward, there’ll be tentative planning. Keeping things simple and fun. My intention to create a life thats mine, as opposed to one with a stress inducing criteria checklist that seems to abound this time of year. If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught me, its that a pressure filled environment and full on chaos doesn’t suit my psyche and I like being me. Quirky and quiet nights in are my happy place. I do hope this year brings more highs than lows and that every one of you finds your own balance in your own way, whatever that entails. Here’s to endless hope.

Stitching new pathways

This month has flown by and the last couple of weeks I’ve struggled to wrap my head around the simplest of tasks.

I’ve lacked motivation and dealt with brain fog and insomnia in equal turns.

Red & yellow Marigold in my garden

Today I’m heading toward more positivity. I’m aiming for this post to be quite short however, I alluded to some good news on my insta grid just a few short days ago.

As you know Arthur (my Brother sewing machine of 20 years) has been struggling lately and after much deliberation I finally bought a new machine. I increased my budget a little more than originally intended. I just wasnt comfortable with compromising and settling on a machine that didn’t have everything I wanted.

I made a list of requirements according to things I actually want to sew, both now and in the future as my skill increases. I’ve also been mindful of the various sewing brands since #blackouttuesday to see who put their words into action. Only one of them has truly stood out to me. So here they are, my new machine. The Pfaff Passport 2.0! 🤗😃

Pfaff Passport 2.0 sewing machine

Sturdy yet light & small enough to fit my limited space. I did consider saving further for an Pfaff Ambition but my small worktable/desk has multiple uses and no additional space to place a much larger machine.

As yet unnamed, I think we will have to spend more time together before I can name them. (And yes Arthur 2.0 had occurred to me) 😆

With my low mood at the fore this past week, I’ve not done more than familiarise myself with the various features and test many of the stitches.

Stitch test of the various stitches using Pfaff Passport 2.0

Everything about it feels fluid. With practice I can see many sewing projects in the future. As we head into September and the colder months I’m looking forward to creating simple yet cosy designs.

A wonderful challenge is starting next month called #sewvintageseptember

Vintage sewing challenge
Sewing challenge on instagram

I have many patterns in my stash and this is just the right opportunity to use my Pfaff to bring some of them to life.

Happy sewing folks and have a great bank holiday weekend!

Bringing balance to the fore

Before I begin, I haven’t given up on sewing, though I’ve not done much lately.

I’m looking for a new machine which is both in my price range and available. Poor little Arthur is plodding on, singing a little sweeter than before but still grumpy. I gave him a thorough clean and oil this past week. Cross your fingers he sews on a bit longer.

Photo of a Brother sewing machine which I named Arthur
Arthur be good… featuring @pinkcoatclub & @ipdipdesign stickers.

I’ve been reflecting this week on my interest in dressmaking and how ten years ago I would never have imagined myself being so invested in it now.

I’ve spent the past 2 years gradually building on my knowledge whilst spending near double that time working on my mental health.

Lockdown has undone a lot of my progress in regards to my panic disorder which is equal parts frustrating and isolating but I digress.

Image from @worrywellbeing

I’ve made a promise to myself to create more balance by giving equal focus and time on the various areas in my life where able. ⚖ (no resolutions as perceived failures in any area can leave you with an inherent feeling of guilt)

An area I have neglected for some time due to both my mental health and other personal issues has been my pagan beliefs and practices.

I made the decision to correct this going forward. I’m beginning gently but feel very positive with a fresh start.

August began with Lughnasadh. 🌾 Primarily a grain festival, it is also a time of spiritual transformation. No time like the present right?

I put together a small celebration for myself. I found it calmed me greatly and know I’ve made the right decision.

Basic altar set up in celebration of Lughnasadh/Lammas.

I may go into it in more detail in future but feel the emotions it evokes, the stillness that overcame me was of more note in this instance.

Another place that I feel calm and a certain level of satisfaction is my garden. My vegetable area has exploded in greenery this last week. The pumpkins and squash have been slow to get going and I feared they’d actually stalled during the hottest part of the year. They are just now beginning to vine and flower.

Tendril unfurling on pumpkin vine

Alas the pigeons have decimated the raspberries so I missed out there. I’m thinking a wire surround/cage for next year. (For the raspberries, not the pigeons)

On a brighter note my carrots and parsnips appear to be doing well. I’ve harvested some lovely onions. They didn’t last long enough to photograph but were wonderfully tart.

I’m branching out even more this year with beetroot and one long broccoli that survived the heat. Both appear to be doing well.

Well done to anyone who made it to the end of my circuitous ramble.

Sew long for a short while, I’ll post again soon. There’ll hopefully be some sewing content too. 😄

Ash being cute

Creating cohesion from chaos…

Please bear with me as I begin this, my blogging adventure. There may be rambling, going off on a tangent and possibly even some inane cackling. Hopefully not too much of the latter. 😉

I’m Amanda aka @stitchcastnsow. Some know me as Py or Pythia. I’ll even answer to AJ!

I have begun this blog as a fresh start and to bring together the different aspects of my life into a cohesive yet eclectic mashup. A bit like me. The latter anyhow, I’m working on the former. 🤷‍♀️😁

I’m a pagan witch who enjoys sewing and gardening. I learnt the basics of sewing from my mom and gardening from my dad. I learn more with each year that passes and endeavour to continue in the same vein. You can never know too much in my opinion.

I was drawn to paganism from a young age as I have always found the duality of nature inspiring and comforting in equal measure.

I…contend with panic disorder which tends to throw a spanner in the works when I least expect it. I used to say ‘I suffer with..’ but am trying to break my habit of using that word as it makes me sound like a victim and reinforces the feeling of being weak or a failure. I’d rather consider it as a foe I need to overcome or dispatch. A puzzle to be solved.

Mental health is important and it may well crop up in my posts along the way. Therefore I’d rather be upfront as it is a part of my journey, though by no means its entirety.

If any of this interests you, please stick around. I’ll post again soon,..there may even be pictures. 🤞