The Pattern Project 

So I’ve started on a very exciting project this week, getting the ball rolling with generating our own patterns to sell at Crafty Sew&So and beyond! It’s really exciting and opens up a whole new branch to the business but I can tell it’s going to be challenging!

I started with a list of body measurements compiled with help from our garment pattern cutting and grading expert Janie.

We are really keen to ensure the size range reflects what people are used to buying from the high street with realistic measurements covering sizes 8 to around 26 rather than the usual teeny tiny sizing used by many of the mainstream pattern companies. Most use a set of size specs first generated in the 1950s.

But the reality is that generally we just don’t have the same body shape because we don’t have the same lifestyles as back then. The archetypical 50s silhouette with nipped in waist and exaggerated hips is now less severe – even in athletic types our waists are less defined. Many of us spend more time sitting down in our jobs and daily life. Waists are bigger and bums are a little bit flatter! That’s not to say we’re lazy, life is just different with many women having desk jobs and power assisted cleaning equipment! We’re using different muscles than we used to!

And man was I feeling that by the end of this first block drafting session…

Me: phew this is hard, I’m using brain muscles I haven’t used in a long time!
To which Freya replied..
Freya: well that’s why we pay ya… Or, ahem, are trying to!

Which brings me to another challenge of the week.
Freya and I pay ourselves a modest amount, just enough to survive on. We have been lead to believe most new business owners don’t pay themselves for at least the first year so we feel pretty proud to be doing at least that. But it is tough, I mean there is life to be lived, cats to be fed and fabric to be bought!

I’ve always known that running my own sewing business will not make me rich, at least not any time soon. But this isn’t a sob story of hard working girls sent to poverty and ruin. Instead I feel proud of how I’ve paired down my life to what really matters to reach happiness. I feel richer than many because I love my job. I do feel very lucky to do what I love everyday. There are struggles, bills to pay. Investing in new equipment, product lines, display fixtures and man power/ services when really we could just pay ourselves a bit more- but we want to grow and succeed long term- see the bigger picture.

So that’s why despite the extra hard work I’m so excited to be starting on this new pattern making venture. It’s great to be working on something we know from experience there is a market for and that we really can do it our own way!

Today I am feeling pretty knackered so having a lazy one- enforced by Ollie who insisted I stay in bed this morning by doing this!

My legs are somewhere under there!

I’ve washed some fabrics ready to be cut out and will finish of some pjs this afternoon.

I’m having a relaxed sewing day with my mum tomorrow. Conserving my energy for pattern drafting again on Tuesday! I can’t wait!

I might be just about getting there…

It’s Tuesday night and I’m feeling all-right! I might have actually struck a good balance between work and play over the past week…or it might be something to do with me sorta- kinda having had 3 days “off” in a row. This week as well as my usual Monday and Tuesday away from the shop, I had a bit of down-time enjoying a peaceful day bimbling around in Leicester. Helen, one of our lovely tutors came in to teach a lampshades workshop and then Roman blinds in the afternoon so I was free to spend a relaxed day out with Matt. We started with brunch at St.Martins, a delicious squash and coconut curry for me, burger and chips for Matt!  Then made our way to the New Walk Gallery to see the Open 27 exhibition. I’m always astounded at the talent that breeds in our small city- Leicester is a humble place in terms of creativity with commerce and consumerism usually finding a much louder voice so I always look forward this annual exhibition which shows it off.

In fact always enjoy a trip to the New Walk Gallery at any time. Last time we went there was an exhibition on the Gujarat region of India which was enlightening. This visit there was also an open day for the Rajcot Twinning association. Intrigued, me and Matt made our way through the back corridors of the museum to a meeting room where we were welcomed by the secretary and encouraged to try some Indian dancing.As well as this they were making paper flowers and there were Colouring activities and henna mehndi demos. It was an unexpected treat! The only thing that really frustrates me about Leicester’s approach to creative culture is that it can be a but all behind closed doors. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places but I always seem to hear about things after they have happened- there seems to be a bit of a communication barrier when it come to letting the people of Leicester know about all the exciting creative things happening in their city. I’d love to know how other cities do it. I always seem to be hearing about something cool happening in London, Birmingham or Manchester.

So that was Sunday.

I told myself I had to spend Monday sewing- which of course didn’t work! After a ‘quick check’ of the emails, I spent most of the morning re-doing the parties page on our website. We had had 3 enquiries about kids and adults parties so I figured this was the kick up the bum I needed to finally update the pages, a task I’d unsurprisingly put off for some time!

So I am starting to realise something about myself! I do not do plans on my day off! If I plan a project- even if it is something I want to do- or worse, need to do- I will not get it done! at least not until I have done several other things first. So I just went with that yesterday and today. I just did waht i felt like doing, around a few pre-planned events like going to the doctors. I updated the workshops for May,I went to the doctors and bought some fruit, I paid in a cheque, I overlocked the raw edges of some PJ bottoms, I started a cross stitch project I bought 3 months ago, I made a poster for our sewing cinema event, I cut and sewed a bit more of the Mortmain dress I’ve been working on, I painted the walls but not the ceiling in our bathroom, I went for a pint with Matt.

I did a lot of things! A little bit of a lot of things withour too much of an agenda. And that’s what I learnt works for me. Horray!

A day of sewing with new blogging friends!

I am trying ever so hard to keep finding time to sew for me not just for work- it’s weird that it’s so hard! Yesterday I went to my first ever blogger’s meet up. It was a really fun day and I loved meeting some of the blogger’s I’ve been following and making some great new blogging friends too.
The event was hosted and organised by Sew Essential, an online haby, fabrics and sewing machine retailer.
Freya, Bekki and I drove up together and it was really nice to go on a Crafty Sew&So outing with the team but also with the mindset of a stand alone blogger and hobby dressmaker too. We all tried our best not to talk too much about work and focus on sewing as a hobby. I couldn’t help myself though and did talk quite a bit about the shop and bought a pattern cutting book I’ve had my eye on for a while with the 10% discount on offer. I also picked up a Prym clamshell purse kit as it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while.
We settled down for an intro from Lucy, the company’s social media and marketing director, then enjoyed yummy breakfast nibbles including my favourite almond croissants and big juicy fresh strawberries (I know they are probably from Egypt but they always get me excited that summer is coming to us too!) plus copious tea. Then we had a tour of the warehouse and a spot of shopping and lots of chatting.
We then set about a little crafting project creating hand hoop embroidery monograms, I didn’t get that far with mine but have been working on it a little bit since and I really like how it’s coming along. I’m going to get another mini hoop and make an ‘M’ for Matt too 🙂
We then all went out for afternoon tea at a really sweet restaurant called the Lakeside Bistro. I could definitely do this more often!
I met lovely Charlotte of englishgirlathome. She runs monthly sewing meetups with Midlands Sewcialists and I’m really looking forward to going to the next one in Birmingham with Freya at the end of the month.
Charlotte was wearing a fab Emery dress in a really sweet soda pop print fabric (why didn’t I ask here where it was from?!).
I also met Kat from akraftykat who had made herself a lovely maternity dress in this fab Girl Charleejersey fabric (again why did I not get a photo?! I will get better at this I promise!)
And I spent a bit of time getting to know Crafternoon-tea hostess Samantha of CreateItSamantha

Samantha, also wearing a lovely floral print handmade dress- Putting florals on my make it next list!

It’s a bit silly but I really did have trouble trying to decide what to wear. It’s a good thing as it was because I actually had a fair few outfits to choose from! I thought about wearing my Ginger jeans and Granville shirt but they were in the wash, or my red polka dot 40s style dress but I decided it was a bit too formal, so instead I wore my latest make, a lightweight denim Colette Laurel dress- this felt like a very good choice as I could layer it over a vest, I do love a bit of layering, and pop a cardi over. I also wore one of our cowl infinity scarves- I am pretty much never seen without one these days! At the last min I grabbed a scrap of fabric and used it as a hair band. I tied it round my head which looked quite fun.
Inspired but my last minute accessory grab, I set to work yesterday on a proper headband based on something I’d seen a while back somewhere.
I made 2 of these yesterday. I’ll be making another one today for Freya in the red floral fabric to the right.

I’m having a non-selfish sewing day today and FINALLY starting on Matt’s shirt- it’s cut out and ready to sew – and the headband for Freya plus a little bit of patchwork too.

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