2018 RTW fast and Make Your Stash sewing challenge

2018 RTW Fast and Sew Your Stash sewing challenge

I’m fasting this year – not food but RTW clothes and fabric. I’m participating in Goodbye Valentino’s 2018 RTW Fast and I also decided to focus on shopping my stash first before buying any fabric. So far, I haven’t purchased any fabric in 2018. I’m not sure how long that fast will last but I’m also participating in the Make Your Stash challenge hosted by Time to Sew and PilarBear – which will also be inspiration to sew my stash.

2018 RTW Fast

For the RTW Fast, you commit to not buying ready-to-wear clothes for a year, which I signed on to do at the end of December.

The only things you are allowed to purchase during the RTW fast are underwear, socks, stockings, shoes, jewelry, handbags and belts. There’s an exception for wedding gowns but that’s it. You can see some of the fasters on Goodbye Valentino’s January post, “Meet the Fasters.” There are more than 1,000 participants!

2018 RTW Fast

Follow the hashtag #2018rtwfast on Instagram to see what people are making. There’s a private Facebook group for participants (sign-up closed on Jan. 1) and various sewing-related prizes are given out every month.

Make Your Stash

The hosts of Make Your Stash call it a “sustainable sewing challenge.” The idea is to use fabric that has been in your stash for more than six months to make at least one wearable garment and post the finished version on Instagram (#makeyourstash) anytime between March and May – emphasis on wearable.

As Kate of Time to Sew notes, “We do not encourage making something that you won’t wear just to use something up – that is not the point.”

Make Your Stash - a sustainable sewing challenge

They want people to take their time and make something that you will like. They are also offering prizes – PDF patterns for each month of the challenge. But I don’t care about the prizes. I just want to find more time to sew my fabric and make some progress on sewing my stash.

Sewing Not Buying

I also decided to give myself the additional challenge of not buying any new fabric during Make Your Stash  – or at least not buy anything until I’ve made that one garment for #makeyourstash. 😉

I had already been shopping my stash when I put together my 2018 Make Nine list. So far this year I have not purchased any fabric. Really. But it’s a practical decision… I don’t have room for more fabric. Heheh.

I’ve got fabric in four plastic bins of varying sizes in the bedroom; fabric in the bedroom closet and fabric in a few drawers of a rolling cart in the dining area. According to my husband, “Fabric is everywhere!” I think that’s an exaggeration but I am trying to see if my fabric-buying fast will last at least six months. Wish me luck!

My next big project will be going through my closets and getting rid of old RTW clothes, hopefully donating them to an upcycle group that can remake them into something else. Or maybe I can make them into something else for someone else. (Note: Donating clothes to Goodwill is not necessarily a good thing. Read this HuffPo article on what happens to your donated clothes.)

Do you care how big your stash is? Are you trying to sew more of your fabric and buy less? What do you do with the clothes that no longer fit or are out of style? Do you upcycle? Repurpose? Donate? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Sewing Organization

Sewing organization  - csews.com

I didn’t participate in Bimble & Pimple’s Sewvember Challenge – post a sewing photo every day in November – but after seeing all the photos on Instagram (#bpSewvember), I was inspired to organize my notions, fabric, and related books. (Plus I had the additional incentive of the hubster was complaining (a lot) about the fabric: “It’s everywhere! You have to do something!”)

OK, I admit there were about a couple of fabric piles in the bedroom – sitting on top of some large clear plastic tubs, which were full of fabric, my notions were also crowded in couple of small carts, and my patterns needed some organization. It was starting to get messy but really, it wasn’t as bad as the hubby made it seem. The challenge was how to find more space in our cramped apartment. And that’s partly why I procrastinated doing anything.

I don’t have a sewing room (if only!) and nearly all of the wall space was already taken up by bookshelves. The hubster is an avid reader and book collector. His books fill more than a dozen bookcases (really!). I have a few bookshelves, too but nowhere near as many as he does. So I decided I needed the following:

  • a freestanding shelving unit of some sort to store some fabric and other sewing items
  • a place for my sewing and fashion books
  • another rolling cart for notions or sewing projects
  • more plastic storage bins for fabric
  • something to store patterns

I searched “shevling unit” on Ikea‘s website a few times, trying to find something that didn’t cost too much, wasn’t too wide, and didn’t necessarily need a wall to rest against. The website can be a bit overwhelming – too many search  results – so I popped over to the store in Emeryville to see what some of them look like in person and decided to get the Vittsjo shelving unit ($49), which has four shelves with a lot of space between the shelves. I thought they would be good for storing containers of fabric and other stuff. It looks like this after you put it together (yes, like most Ikea furniture, assembly required.)

Ikea Vittsjo shelving unit - sewing storage - csews.com

It was freestanding on Ikea’s floor display but it does come with something to attach to the wall at the top. Maybe I’ll use some bungee cords to attach it to the desk. I wouldn’t want it to topple over in an earthquake.

It’s nearly 69 (175 cm) inches tall with metal supports and three glass shelves in the middle, the top and bottom shelves are wood. As you can see, it’s not very wide (about 20 inches/51 cm) or deep (14 inches/36 cm), which was exactly what I needed. It had to squeeze in next to my desk in the bedroom and not block the television.

Here’s a shot of it in the bedroom, right next to the bed. You can’t see my desk because it’s right behind the Vittsjo shelves. My back was against another bookshelf behind me so this is as far back as I could get to shoot it. You can’t see the bottom shelf.

The two larger clear bins (fabric inside!) that you see on the two middle shelves are the deep sweater box from the Container store (dimensions: 15 5/8″ x 13 1/8″ x 13 1/4″ h).  These boxes aren’t very wide but you can fit a lot in them if you neatly fold your fabric. My larger bins of fabric are on the other side of the bed.

Sewing storage - Ikea shelf

I discovered that I could fit several of my smaller plastic containers next to the fabric boxes. This is the side view.

Ikea shelves - Vittsjo - side view - csews.com

Some of my notions are in the small plastic boxes, which had formerly been piled on top of my rolling carts in the dining area.

Containers on shelves - csews.com

It’s nice to have them out of the way.

Next, I wandered around Target to see what they had and found what they call a small three-shelf organizer – really a small, skinny, cheaply made bookcase ($21.49, assembly required). Part of Target’s “Room Essentials” line of products, it’s made out of that heavy pressed board stuff, except for the back, which is actually a flimsy piece of black cardboard(!). I got it because it fit in the space – on top of a small chest near another bookcase and left enough room to put another stack of books in front of it.

Sewing book case - csews.com

I got a purple fabric bin ($6) at Target, which sits on top of this skinny bookcase. The bins are also part of the Room Essentials line; they fit inside of various shelving units. I put sewing magazines and more books in it. They are made of polypropylene textile, which is a very lightweight, nonwoven fabric. (A lot of promotional tote bags are made from this fabric.)

Sewing books and magazines - csews.com

Moving onto our dining area of the apartment where I have a row of small Sterilite rolling carts. I  already had two and I needed another three-drawer one, which I got at Target for $12.99. It’s the one on the left, which is now full of fabric and project stuff.

Rolling carts - notions - csews.com

These carts are lined up against our dining room table, which is essentially my sewing table. We don’t eat there. 😉

I’ve got three short carts, including one 5-drawer one. which has thread in zip lock bags, fusible bias stay tape, fray check, and other notions in the shallow drawers and fabric paint, glue and other things in the deep bottom drawer.

Notions in rolling cart - csews.com

On top of this cart, I’ve put this three-drawer organizer ($8.99), which I also got at Target that day. I’ve got bias tape and seam tape in the top drawer and zippers in the other two.

3-drawer storage - Bias tape and zippers - csews.com

On top of the three-drawer cart on the right, I’ve put a fabric file box I got on sale at the Container store earlier this year. I put several sewing patterns (vintage, indie patterns, patterns I’ve traced, and tracing paper) in it.

To the right of my small carts, you can see a tall, 8-drawer storage cart, which I got for $57 last year from Office Depot. At the time, it was cheaper than other multi-drawer carts I saw. I like it because the bottom two drawers are deep and the rest are shallow. This cart is now $74.89.

Here’s a closer shot of it. As you can see, it leans slightly to the left. I don’t know why it’s doing that. I moved some of the heavier stuff to the bottom drawer to see if that would make a difference but no. Oh, well, it still does a good job storing stuff.

8-drawer cart - notions - csews.com

I went through it and reorganized the drawers – tape measures, marking pens, sewing machine needles, hand sewing needles, scissors, etc.

8-drawer cart - notions - csews.com

And that’s my current sewing organization. Now I feel ready for sewing in the New Year. How do you store and organize your sewing stuff?

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Sewing Contests – Updated 2/18/2013

I’ve never entered any sewing contests before but I hope to enter my first one this year – the BurdaStyle Vintage Modern Sewing Contest. It’ll help me keep to my sewing resolution – to make, not buy clothes this year.

I decided that if I’m going to make something for a contest, it needed to meet the following criteria: 1. I would be making something I would wear; 2. the garment would use fabric from my stash; and 3.  I would gain more sewing skills.

To help me decide, I flipped through the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern, looking at the designs and the recommended fabrics. I wanted something that would be relatively easy to make, allow for some creativity, and use my stash. (When the contest was first announced last month, the deadline was in early February so I needed to make sure I’d have enough time to make something. The deadline is now February 15 – yay more time!)

Clockwise from top left: cotton voile, cotton sateen, wool crepe, denim
Clockwise from top left: a pretty cotton voile, cotton sateen, “plaid” wool crepe, denim (really a dark denim, not grey)

I saw that some dresses used silk charmeuse so I crossed those off my list (only silk I have on hand is velvet or sheer, no charmeuse). But there were a few garments that would use some of my stash: a top (cotton voile), a 1950s dress (cotton sateen), 1960s dress (wool crepe), and a cool pair of bell-bottom pants (cotton denim).

At first I thought I would tackle the pretty top, which has a really nice lace detail. But it does require some pattern making. You use the bodice from a dress pattern in the book and then make several adjustments, following the step-by-step instructions, to make the pattern. (To read more about the book, check out my interview with its author Jamie Lau.)

I did start drafting it but then I decided I didn’t have enough time to complete that pattern, make a muslin to check the fit, etc. I don’t have any experience with pattern drafting – the most I’ve done with a pattern is take a vintage pattern and grade it up a size.

So decided to switch to the Jamie Shift Dress – a 1960s style dress with simple lines. I went to Loehmann’s and tried on a couple sleeveless shift dresses to see if that style would suit my figure. (The store is a block from my office and they have plenty of designer duds.) Most of them looked OK but the necklines on some of them didn’t look so great because of my broad shoulders. But I thought I could make it work.

I traced the pattern for the Jamie Shift Dress a couple weeks ago. Before I cut the muslin, I adjusted the waist a size smaller, which is what I usually need to do with patterns. (Depending on my mood, I view that as: A. my waist is too small for my hips or B. my hips are too big for my waist – at least according to so-called standard sizes.)

I have this very nice wool crepe with a black-and-white plaid pattern on it (see photo above). And I got very excited about making the dress half plaid and half solid black. I also decided that I would line it instead of using a facing. I would just use the pattern from the dress to make the lining.

Though I already have some black wool crepe it seemed like it was of a lesser weight than the plaid so I splurged and went to Britex Fabrics and bought a remnant of solid black imported from Italy (with imported prices too!).

MuslinLast weekend I put together a muslin – complete with invisible zipper and lining. However when I tried my muslin on, I was kinda swimming in it and it dawned on me that it’s really a style more suited to a thin person with no hips (uh, so not me). Some of the dresses I tried on at Loehmann’s had darts in them, which I should have remembered. (sigh) this dress only has bust darts, no curves.

Nevertheless, I really like the idea of color blocking so I want to make it work. I’m in the midst of adjusting the pattern to make it curve more to my body instead of being so straight up and down.

I also used some of the black wool crepe (not the expensive Italian remnant from Britex) in my stash to make a second muslin with an adjusted neckline – more of a boatneck showing all of my collarbone. I also wanted to practice sewing the invisible zipper and see what problems I could have with lining it. I’ve only lined vests and a jacket. I tried bemberg lining and no facing to see how that would work.

The problem is that I can’t understitch all the way around the neckline and because wool crepe has such a drape to it, you can tell where the understitching ends. I’ve been contemplating using a facing and lining, using a lining that’s closer in weight to the crepe, or using the facing pattern to cut out some interfacing and attach that to the lining.

On Twitter, @bydaiyami of Sisters Are Making It For Themselves told me “Facing+lining probably the official way. Lining has to drape similarly, but no need for same weight, IMO.” @Tantisis  of Tanit-Isis Sews agreed and added “Although I far prefer sewing a heavier lining. Facing will keep the lining from showing at the arms, too.”

@bydaiyami also suggested that I check out a Threads article on quick lining, which you can find here. After reading that article I think I’ll go with facing and lining – just sew the facing on the lining.

Now I need to draft a pattern that curves more and has back and front darts.

Napkin sketchI made these sketches on a napkin at dinner last night – trying to keep the ’60s flavor but make it curve more.  If it doesn’t work out, my backup plan is to make the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress, which is more suited to my body.

Have you ever entered any sewing contests? What was that experience like? Did you like it? Love it Hate it?

UPDATE 2/18/2013 — I decided I didn’t have enough time to make modifications to the Jamie Shift Dress in order to finish a garment by my deadline of February 9. I gave myself that deadline because I found a photographer willing to photograph me in exchange for a garment I would make for her. I did make the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress, which worked out really well. I made a few modification, which you can read about in my contest entry here.