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jessica wright

kcw: why I sew
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why I sew: jessica from willow & stitch

Earlier this week I said (in an instagram post) that sewing means the world to me, and it’s true, it really is. Sewing may be my hobby but it’s also sew much more (excuse the pun!).

Sewing brings balance to my world

I haven’t always been interested in sewing. For me it’s a passion that was born a few months before my first baby. While I was expecting her it was a relaxing and meditative pastime for me, it was an opportunity to slow down and spend some time thinking about this new life that was coming. Having embarked on the ultimate act of creating, suddenly a whole new world was opening up to me (if I can make a person then surely I can make a cushion cover….?)

Why I Sew

After my daughter was born and my world had been thoroughly turned upside down I found that sewing was in fact my lifeline, a way to keep me sane, something that I could do everyday which couldn’t be undone, physical proof that I had accomplished something that day. It was also a creative outlet. At times during that first year of maternity leave I felt lost, I didn’t know who I was anymore, my days were spent keeping a small and wonderful but terribly irrational baby alive, my family were half a world away and I hadn’t yet made the amazing friends that I have now.

Sewing connects me to the world

Looking at sewing blogs changed my world back then, and it continues to shape my life today in the most positive of ways. I doubt that there are many circles that are as welcoming, encouraging and inspiring as ours. I really feel like I have found my tribe, here, with you. I love these people who are so passionate and creative, so generous with their time and knowledge. I love this place where it’s fine to be part geek, part fashion fiend; part introvert and part show-off. We want to win, sure, but we want everyone else to win too.

why I sew 2

Some of the blogs which made me fall in love with sewing:

1. straight-grain 2. Made by Rae 3. Craftiness is not Optional 4. Sew Liberated

I have learnt so much from the sewing community over the past 6 years, and not just about sewing. I love the segues too – through them I have been introduced to Buddhism, to Montessori, and to Sustainable Fashion to name just a few. Which brings me nicely to my last point:

Sewing is my way of saving the world.

I have always felt that sewing and sustainability go hand in hand. While I haven’t always sewed, sewing is not new to me, I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up surrounded by homemade and home grown things. My mum used to sew clothes and toys for my sister and I when we were children and to me there is something particularly appealing about doing the same things for my children. I love that I am inadvertently instilling them with a surprisingly rare knowledge; that clothes and toys can be made by hand – they don’t just materialize from the mall; that it takes time and effort to create something and that these things should therefore be treated carefully and with love. I hope that this lesson will stick with them, that they will not be in too much of a hurry to dive into the horrible cycle of buying and discarding that our world seems to be stuck in.

Sewing really does mean the world to me and so do all of you awesome people who occupy this corner of the web.

Thank you for inspiring me, I shall try to repay the favour.

finding the time to sew during kcw
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finding the time to sew during kcw

So, Kids Clothes week is almost upon us and I don’t know about you but I’m so exited to get started.  There are so many things I want to make that I feel like my head is going to burst with ideas.

The aim of KCW is to sew for your kids for 1 hour every day, which is a great, achievable goal.  The trouble is that, for me at least, 1 hour a day is simply not enough.  I tend to get so caught up with the whole thing and so inspired to sew that I simply want to do it all day every day.

Now, no doubt you are much saner and more realistic than I am, but finding the time to sew is a challenge for all of us; so here are my top tips on how to get the most out of Kids Clothes Week.

 

1. Don’t waste hours tidying your house during Kids Clothes Week.

If your kids are anything like mine this is a COMPLETELY pointless task anyway.  How often have you spent a day trying to tidy the house while the kids simultaneously destroy it?  I often get to the end of a day feeling like I have done nothing except tidy and the house still somehow looks like a tornado has swept through it.  I often wonder what would happen if I simply stopped.  Would the house continue to get more and more messy? I don’t think so… It’d get pretty bad, sure, but I have a hunch that it would reach a certain (admittedly pretty bad) state of messiness and then sort of stay there.  Why don’t we give it a try – think of it as a sort of social experiment. Bow to the inevitable I say, and accept the mess – just for this week.  If you’re struggling with this one then let me tell you; wine helps.

2. Don’t spend hours cooking.

Most nights, when I ask my kids what they want for dinner, they tell me ‘eggs on toast’ or else ‘sandwiches’.  Usually I ignore this and spend ages cooking something delicious and nutritious which they push around their plates for a while and then throw in the bin.  Save time on cooking and arguments by giving them sandwiches for a week. Everybody wins.

 

Finding the time to sew

1. Accept the mess (source) 2. Don’t overthink the unimportant stuff  

3. Distract the kids 4. Stay up late (source)

3. Distract the kids.

This is probably the trickiest one of all.  It’s one of life’s great ironies that so many people get into sewing because they find that they love to make things for their kids, only to find that their kids prevent them from being able to focus on their sewing (or,in fact, anything at all).  If you’re going to try to sneak the odd hour of sewing into your day then minimize the chance of constant interruptions by making sure that they have been well fed and watered.  While they’re stuffing their adorable little faces, go off and set up a few fun activites dotted around the house.  Set up a place where they can draw, lay out all the jigsaw puzzles, hide all their soft toys around the house as a sort of teddybear rescue / scavenger hunt, anything which is going to capture their interest long enough for you to get a bit of uninterrupted time for sewing.  I find that zipping them into the trampoline / fight cage is a great way to score half an hour.  For those that just won’t be separated from you get them to come and ‘help’ you by sorting all your scraps by colour or stacking your bobbins.  Bribes like M’n’Ms or Jelly Beans help with this.

4. Stay up late.

Honestly, no matter how talented you are at multitasking or how well behaved your children are, you’re still going to find that your most productive hours are while they are sleeping.  Make the most of this by staying up late to sew.  Sleep is overrated in my opinion anyway, I mean, when was the last time you woke up feeling refreshed? Exactly! You’re going to be exhausted in the morning anyway so you might as well have something to show for it.  Tea / coffee helps with this.

 

Well, I hope you found this useful, although somehow I doubt it.  I hope, at least, that you aren’t cursing the fact that having read this wasted 5 minutes of your life that you will never get back!  Above all I hope you’re excited for Kids Clothes Week.

What are your top tricks for getting the most out of Kids Clothes Week? Extra credit if your suggestions are more practical / sensible than mine….

how to prepare for kid's clothes week
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how to prepare for kcw

Today I’ve got some tips for you on how to get the most out of Kids Clothes Week.

In order to make sure you can do as much sewing as is humanly possible during KCW (that is the aim right…?) you need to be thoroughly prepared.  Think of this like training for a marathon.  No, actually don’t.  Marathons aren’t at all fun.  (Apart from the carb loading possibly…) Don’t listen to people who say marathons are fun – they’re totally crazy! (Unlike people who stay up all night sewing and then find themselves barely able to function the next day because of it.  That’s perfectly normal and not at all crazy.)

I digress…

To get the most of KCW you need to plan ahead.  Here are some things you can do in advance to help you get as much sewing done as you like:

1. Decide what you’re going to make.

Use the theme for inspiration, or don’t, it’s entirely up to you.  Take a look at the KCW blog to get some ideas (already doing that? Well done.)  If you want to use paper patterns make sure you order them in plenty of time to get to you.  If you’re using PDF patterns, print and join them before hand and make sure you have a helper to hand you the sellotape.

announcing the fall 2015 kcw season

2. Stock up.

Check the fabric requirements and purchase what you need.  Don’t forget any notions; buttons, zippers, trims.  And the thread! Oh my goodness, I ALWAYS forget the thread!  Also, I feel obliged here to say that you should probably look through your stash and see if you have anything that would work for the project you have in mind BEFORE you go fabric shopping, but really – who are we kidding, go and buy some more fabric.  Go on, you deserve it.

Notions and supplies

1. Thread (source) 2. Zippers (source) 3. Buttons (source)

3. Prepare.

Wash, dry and iron your fabric before KCW starts.  You can even cut out your pattern pieces and have them all ready to go.  As long as you don’t actually sew anything before KCW starts it’s NOT CHEATING!

wash and dry your fabric

1. Wash and dry your fabrics before cutting (source) 2. The small ones may have other ideas about why there is so much fabric on the line of course… (source)

4. Organize.

It’s also a really great idea to tidy and organise your sewing space so that you don’t waste entire evenings looking for your seam ripper or something equally frustrating.  Just needing to use you seam ripper is bad enough – needing to use it and being completely unable to find it will probably leave you feeling something like this:  Although probably not naked.  Not that I’m judging; if naked sewing is your thing, that’s totally fine by me….

 Prepare for KCW

1. Avoid frustration by making sure you have all the tools you need (source) 2. Have plenty of wine on hand (source) 3. Organise your supplies (source) 4. Stock up the freezer (source)

If you’re feeling super organised you could also prepare some freezer meals so that you don’t need to waste any of KCW on non-sewing related activities.  Or if that just seems like way too much effort then just go out and stock up on bread.  I’ll explain why in my next post. While you’re there get tea too. And Jelly Beans. And wine.  Lots of wine.

Have you started preparing for KCW?