Happy New Year!!! How exciting to be looking ahead to a whole year of sewing-based fun. And all the other types of fun. I don't know about you, but a new year always feels like a fresh start and I'm buzzing with excitement to get cracking on new projects. Except... No. Funds. Ugh! It's good to think about how we can get more from what we already own, sewing-wise and more generally, but it always seems more pressing at this time of year, doesn't it? I wrote a piece five years ago (WHAT?!) about cutting the costs of sewing, but here's some more ideas about how to get your sew-on if you're feeling the financial pinch at this, or any other, time of the year:
- Comb your pattern stash. This one may seem obvious, but I think it's worth adding because it's easy to forget about stuff you already own. A couple of months ago I bought some new storage boxes for my sewing area so I ended up sifting through all my patterns and was amazed to find that I'd forgotten about over half of them! It really got my mind racing with possibilities and I have renewed excitement about finally making some of them up this year. Also, if you don't immediately print out your PDF patterns once you've acquired them, like most people I'd imagine, it might be worth trawling through the downloads folder on your computer to see if you've got some digital gems sitting in there.
- Hunt out some freebies. There are literally thousands of free sewing patterns and tutorials out there on the interwebs that can be the starting point for a new sewing project. Simple Google searches will unearth them, and I'm always seeing them popping up on Pinterest. Of course, I can recommend to you my free vest/camisole/singlet and knickers/pants/undies patterns and my cowl neck scarf and bustier line T-shirt (part 1 and part 2) tutorials. Some others that I've tried or plan to try are the Oliver + S kids reversible bucket hat pattern, the Oliver + S sunny day shorts pattern, the Brindille & Twig kids hoodie pattern, the Maria Denmark Kimono T-shirt pattern and the Delia Creates Headwrap bands tutorial.
- Refold your fabric. The beginning of a new year is a great time to take stock of your belongings and get things straightening out. It may seem a bit drastic, but if you get a chance, why not get your entire fabric stash out and refold everything? Unless you have some kind of permanent set-up where everything is neatly arranged and always on view, taking everything out is bound to unearth something you had forgotten you owned. I'm going to get all Marie Kondo on you now, but by handling your fabric through the process of sorting and folding means you'll be more likely to connect with each piece and either remember what project it was originally intended for, or perhaps you'll receive a zap of new inspiration for what it should become. Plus, having everything neat and in order (at least for a short while!) can have a great impact on flagging sew-jo.
(a fabulous fabric swap that took place in Brighton four years ago!)
- Hold or attend a fabric swap. Refolding your fabric will hopefully help you fall back in love with some of the pieces you've stashed, but finding some duds that you can't remember why you ever acquired in the first place is just as likely! You should find this second category of discovery almost as exciting as the first, because unwanted fabric, and sewing patterns for that matter, is currency. Find out if there is a sewing meet-up with a fabric/pattern swap going on that you can get to in the near future, and you can give the stuff that was languishing unloved a new loving home, whilst picking up something new-to-you that floats your boat. If you can't find anything already planned, why not try arranging a meet-up yourself? You'll probably make a heap of new sewing friends and have an ace time as well.
- Selling out. If attending or organising a meet-up/fabric swap isn't possible, selling those unwanted pieces of fabric and sewing patterns will get some funds flowing and make space for more appealing replacements! Jen from My Make Do And Mend Life's fabulous Top 5 Tips on Sourcing Secondhand Fabric post gives great ideas for how you could sell, as well as acquire, pre-owned fabric.
(my snappily-titled Refashioning Project Ideas Pinterest board)
- Refashioning, remaking and upcycling. Using existing clothing as the basis for sewing projects is not only a great option for cutting down on the environmental impact of making clothes, but it's also freaking cheap! Whether you plunder a charity shop/thrift store/op shop for your starting point, or merely the cupboards in your own bedroom, it's got to cost less than heading to a fabric shop for your next sewing project. I've been harping on here on this blog about reusing unwanted clothes for yonks, but I feel that last year's Refashioners challenge hosted by Makery really breathed new life into the whole concept. So. Much. Creative. Awesomeness. If you've ever fancied having a whirl at refashioning, but weren't sure where to start, the community Pinterest board for the 2015 Get Shirty Refashioners challenge is packed with amazingness that might get your creative juices flowing. My Refashioning Project Ideas Pinterest board is also chock full of all manner of upcycling ideas that I personally found inspiring.
- Let the cat out of the bag. This one might take a bit longer to bear fruit, but it could be a fantastic way to open yourself up to heaps of free sewing stuff. Often we keep our passion for sewing to ourselves, especially if we work in a non-creative environment, or we are (sadly!) mixing with people who we fear may think that sewing your own clothes is a bit of a weird thing to do. But by occasionally sharing the fact that you love to sew with people that normally you might not tell, you are more likely to benefit when they hear of someone who wants to get rid of their sewing stash. People don't generally want to throw something in the bin if it might be used and loved, so even if the relationship link is really tenuous, you could be the one to luck out if somebody has decided to stop sewing, or they are clearing out the belongings of a relative or something. By making sure people knew I like to sew, I once received an enormous stash of buttons that I will literally never be able to use up and some great pattern cutting books from my ex-boyfriend's grandma's friend. I never met this women, but I made sure to send her a thank you card!
So tell me about you! Are you feeling fired up, creatively speaking, at this time of year? Are you waiting for a payday/paid invoice to get back to piercing-fabric-with-needles?! Do you have any ideas for cutting sewing costs whilst on a budget?