Katie and I have a regular weekly “check-in” where we chat about our lives, our blog, and our goals (because let’s be real – it was difficult to connect without scheduling the time in). This connection point, a simple phone call with a very loose “agenda,” is one of the highlights of my week. During our most recent call, we got on the topic of minimalism – and how we would most want to incorporate it into our lives. We came to the joint conclusion that despite being drawn to articles and lifestyles that tout “minimimalism” as something to aspire towards – it simply wasn’t right for our lifestyles (and hell all the creature comforts we have come to enjoy so much)! Instead, we landed on a new mantra: you don’t necessarily need to amass LESS stuff (or fewer items, per se) – but rather intentionally focus on sourcing the RIGHT stuff. This leads to more inspiration, creativity, and realistically a better use of resources (time and money being two of the most important ones I can think of). I’ve broken this down into three different tips to help myself remember when to buy, make, or leave behind a fabric/pattern/garment – and am sharing it in case it helps you too!
1) Instead of searching for a “hack” or settling – BUY IT!
As a self-taught beginning seamstress – it took a long time before I was willing to spend any real money on fabric or patterns. I had a threshold below which I would give myself an out to buy without consequence or guilt: just around $5-7 per pattern or yard of fabric was where I felt comfortable. If it met that criteria – it might just end up in my shopping cart by accident – no matter the quality or whether I could create any immediate vision for it’s use. The PDF Pattern Sales group on Facebook was one of the first groups I joined when I started sewing – so I just thought this was what seamstresses did – bought patterns and fabric only on super cheap discount. Little did I know that I would take far more joy in waiting until the circumstances were right: the right season for a particular garment, the right fabric was in my stash or easily purchased, or even until I had the right level of skill, the right amount of time or the right amount of patience/focus. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it a habit of making sure I had planned well so I would then purchase the fabric/pattern and eventually I would forget I owned it, or worse yet, not understand that I was picking up my 5th dolman in a row (true-ish story). Soo, many lessons learned.
Because I have an embarrassingly large ample amount of fabric and patterns, I found myself at some point deciding I had purchased enough – and that I would “hack” my way into making the newer designs that I coveted. But alas that was futile, as I didn’t have the time, patience or skill to draft a pattern I had seen AND make it personalized to my dimensions. So the patterns sat, the excitement passed, and my pattern and fabric stashes continued to grow with little to show for it.
I’ve recently freed myself from that construct – and it is refreshing! I won’t buy ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, but rather – if inspiration hits me like a sack of bricks, and there is a well designed pattern, with a well regarded fan base, and its a bit pricey (closer to $15-20) – I just buy it! But ONLY once I know I can marry it with setting aside the time to muslin/sew it, the skill/time/patience to execute it, and the perfect fabric that complements what I already have in my closet. That’s what happened with this Closet Case Files Sallie Sewing Pattern for me.
2) When you can’t stop thinking about it – MAKE IT!
I purchased the Closet Case Files Sallie before Heather Lou redesigned her site. The pattern was always gorgeous – and I bought it specifically to make the jumpsuit version – the maxi dress was a total bonus! You can read more about my first version here on Harper+Lu, where I used a fabric I had in my stash from Knitpop that had NOT been sourced specifically for this make. While I love it to pieces, I NEVER wear it – and thats a complete shame. I think I probably need to shorten the pants so they are more culotte length and more practical for chasing my kids.
When I saw the sample that Heather (the designer behind Closet Case Files) had sewn up for the pattern and shown off by her seriously STUNNING new model – I was instantly smitten and knew I wanted almost the same exact dress/color, just with the kimono sleeved bodice (because, well, … bra straps):
For my version, I purchased 3 yards of double brushed poly from Knitpop (this Dark Burgundy color is out of stock but the eggplant looks close) and it was almost a perfect match! Unfortunately, I ordered the fabric right before winter came and I don’t know about you, but off season makes are REALLY hard for me. So almost one year since I made my first version – and with a very intentional purchase, I celebrate the migration from amassing fabric without a purpose – to buying with greater intent — AND following through! And damn if this isn’t CELEBRATION worthy! I paid FULL PRICE for this pattern, and the fabric, AND used it to make my vision a reality — so worth it, especially now that I have made it twice!
3) If you don’t have a plan – LEAVE IT!
Of these three lessons, this one speaks most to minimalism. I am learning that new designs (and the energy and excitement that come with them) will wax and wane. But solid designs and perfect fabric pairings are always just a click of the button away! Having too many ideas (with no execution) – wastes time. And I don’t know about you, but my sewing time is limited and precious. I would rather fill it with plans, than to keep buying with the hopes that EVENTUALLY I will make something from it. Maybe I will update this when I find a way to carve out more time — anyone want to help me figure out how to do that???