Do you find it helpful to make detailed plans ?

What sewing are you doing over the holidays ? Following holiday freedoms, I ‘went as the spirit moved’ and surprised myself by trying free motion sewing for the first time. Not what I was expecting to do. So that opens up all sorts of possibilities. . .

Meanwhile. . . back to thinking about New Year’s Resolutions.

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Resolutions about what to make

Plans have the opposite effect on me than what life coaches insist they will. I make plans for fun, it’s something I’m good at. Making them does clarify my ideas and what’s important to me. But if I try actually to follow detailed plans they usually bring me to a halt instead of motivating me.

I’m best working in a general direction rather than with a specific plan.

Even so, I keep changing my general resolutions for the year.
Learn to sew knits – oh that’s so last week.
Join in the jackets sew along. Hmm, what about all that fitting.
Do some Sewing With A Plan. Wardrobe planning is an excellent idea, but I am not at my best under time pressure. And I am better when following a general inspiration (colours, fabrics, learning ever more about what suits my shape and style), rather than setting a specific number of garments before ever starting anything.

Though I am very happy that other people do make storyboards and follow detailed SWAP plans. And take the time and trouble to tell us what they’re doing. It’s fascinating and inspiring and thought provoking, and gives a great deal of pleasure.

At the moment I think it’s best for me to sew individual items. Just check they will make at least one whole outfit with clothes I already have.

After a couple of years of reading and thinking about discussions at Stitchers Guild, I think I’ve got a sufficiently good idea of what are the right colours, fabrics, shapes and styles for me, not to go too wildly astray.

Well, perhaps I need to allow for two clothes personalities ! One day I’m going for the minimalism of Loes Hinse Textile Studio, the next I’m loving the cheery wild patchwork of Pavelka. . . At least it’s only two – er, I think. . . If you really do like wearing a different style every day, then you might enjoy the book ‘I love your style’ by Amanda Brooks.

So one of my resolutions for this year is just to put the pedal to the metal at least once a day. Or find a notion. One little sewing thing. Nothing more specific. I’ll probably follow a general idea of what to do next, but that Big Plan sometimes changes several times a day. . . (Hmm – this morning Nancy Erickson’s sweater set pattern arrived, with her booklet on knits – make one of everything in the booklet. And the latest issue of La Mia Boutique pattern magazine – a padded vest, a drapey vest, a bolero vest. . . So that’s at least two more Grand Plans for today :D Perhaps I need to cut down on my sources of inspiration.)

It definitely wouldn’t be a good idea for me to make a resolution which says I’ll stick to one plan of what I’m going to make :D

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Resolutions about tools and techniques

If you’re inspired by other people’s Resolutions, there’s a good discussion thread at Stitchers Guild. Including resolutions not to do something !

Some people resolve to make certain sorts of clothes, perhaps following a wardrobe plan or SWAP or sew along. Or some home dec.

As I’ve said, that’s not right for me at the moment.

Some people resolve to sew from what they’ve already got, fabric stash or pattern stash.

I do try to do that anyway, but don’t limit myself, as fabrics that are ‘right’ for me don’t come up all that often. And I’m a pattern geek. Collecting them is one of my treats. And it isn’t at the level of a dangerous or harmful addiction :D

Some people resolve about techniques or tools, such as learning to use a serger or embroidery machine, or make welt pockets.

The main resolution I’m going for is one of these. I’ve realised a mighty thing that stops me sewing is I have to make so many fit adjustments to a commercial pattern. And that’s something I don’t enjoy doing at all. For some reason it’s taken on the overwhelming character of something impossible to deal with.

I’m currently aiming to make a sleeveless knit shell. And I’ve listed half a dozen changes that need to be made to any commercial pattern (forward neck, sloping narrow shoulders, deep armhole, wide back, small bust, short waist, high hip). Why on earth, you might say, is anyone taking that much trouble over a sleeveless knit shell. . . Well, if I don’t, I may as well go on ‘making do’ with all the peculiar strains and sags of RTW.

So I resolve to put more effort into getting Bernina My Label to fit. If that does work then, even if it doesn’t give perfect results, it should be easier to get a usable starting point.

Hey, wait a minute. I’m assessing all these patterns and software outputs by comparing them with a reasonably good personal sloper. One thing that can be said about trying to use pattern making software – I’m learning a lot about the special features of my own body. In fact, I don’t know why I’m hung up on thinking I ‘ought’ to use someone else’s pattern. So I’ll also work more on my personal slopers, which I seem to able to adjust more easily than I can get software to fit me ! If BML doesn’t work out, then I’d be better off learning more about pattern making and adapting my own sloper, rather than changing commercial patterns.

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Sticking to your plans

And, once you’ve decided what to make or do, what is your own preferred way of keeping going and finishing a project ? In SWAP, many people greatly value the companionship and encouragement of belonging to a discussion thread. But there are also excellent sewers who appear at the end of SWAP with a beautiful wardrobe, after saying and showing very little.

Goodness, I hadn’t realised how much there is of ‘know yourself’ in all this ! To get the best out of our sewing we don’t only need to know what to make, what colours, shapes and styles are best for ourselves and our lifestyle. There’s also how we do it :
– what tools and techniques, fabrics and embellishments we enjoy using.
– whether we like to try new techniques or relax in the familiar.
– what gets us started : whether we like a clear prior plan, a defined end point we’re aiming for, or to have a general guide but nothing specific, or to wander where we will, to follow the spirit of the moment.
– whether we like to finish one project before starting the next, or have several in progress at the same time.
– how we keep ourselves motivated, what helps us to finish our projects.

Or perhaps you get the biggest fun out of starting up. Does it matter if you don’t finish ? If you could get rid of any guilt, would you happily just make UFOs ? Call them your samples :D How much are you willing to pay per hour of fun time – does that cover the cost of half used fabric and notions ? What might help you to throw unfinished things away with glee ? Each one may have started as a dream and ended as a learning experience. Perhaps do the same as embroiderers and art quilters. They don’t expect everything they try to work out well. Store a piece of as far as you got, with notes, in a swatch book for reference. How about a resolution not to finish anything you start :D (I tend to be a bit contrary, perhaps that would get me to finish things. . .)

Remember the best way of training is not to chivvy trainees about mistakes, but to reward them when they do something right. Do you need a reward system for finishing projects. Or a reward for learning from what you didn’t finish, for getting something positive out of not finishing. What would be a reward for you ? Perhaps you would like a resolution about rewards :D

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Sewing is a hobby – what makes it the best stress-free pleasure time for you :D

Do you actually enjoy the sewing, or do you really prefer reading and thinking and stroking fabrics :D

I hope you all have a Happy New Year and an enjoyable 2011, whatever it is that keeps you doing whatever you like best !

Explore posts in the same categories: personal style

15 Comments on “Do you find it helpful to make detailed plans ?”

  1. BeeBee(Beth) Says:

    Great post! I do like how you skated around the entire commentment issue ;-). Seriously, though, some good food for thought (which I can use since I need to cut back on my real food this year). And Happy New Year!

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks for the comment, BeeBee – I need a Resolution that gives me a gentle push and allows for my lapses :D Same I think goes for dieting !

  2. RuthieK Says:

    Of course it helps if the goals are fairly realistic too :-)

    • sewingplums Says:

      Good point Ruth – I’m very good at making Grand Schemes then feeling guilty, not so good at being realistic. One of my aims for this year is to stick to projects I find easy, so I can get more successes under way !

  3. Karin Says:

    I agree, sewing is my hobby- not my job! You are insightful. I do enjoying, reading, planning, thinking and stroking fabrics just as much as sewing!

  4. Lisa Says:

    This was a good post. Sewing used to be for me a need – on a teacher’s salary it was the only way I could have decent clothes. 25 years later it is a hobby that I’m beginning again – hoping to inspire my 12 year old who loves fashion to sew for herself.

    My goal is to sew a few things from Butterick 5398 (I found on your blog) and to work on fitting. THat is one of the reasons I gave up sewing. Patterns seemed to get more and more boxy and the fit was funky. I would like to learn how to fit patterns so that I love my end product.

    I have a question – how do you organize your patterns? I need to get a good system for this.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Lisa – yes fitting is a big challenge and well worth doing !

      Pattern organisation is another area where people have different styles. Experiment to find what suits you. You might search at Stitchers Guild, there have been discussions of pattern storage in the past.

      My scheme is very flexible, easy to pick out patterns for what I’m thinking about at the time. Perhaps it’s organised for being re-organised !

      Mainly in five sections for : tops and dresses, skirts and pants, jackets, wardrobes, accessories and crafts. And patterns from favourite designers are in their own groups. Then there are temporary groups for current interests. In a mix of pretty boxes and big transparent plastic bags.

      I also like to have things physically in front of me, instead of hidden on a computer. So I print out line drawings of patterns, one to a page, and sort them a lot when I’m thinking which patterns I like best or which would make a good group for a wardrobe.

      Best Wishes for getting back to sewing, and for finding what works for you.

      • Lisa Says:

        I love your idea for printing out the line drawings of patterns. Line drawings are so much more helpful to me than the sketches on the fronts of patterns.

        Thanks.

  5. sdBev Says:

    Very provocative goals (non-goals?). I think of my goals as directions I want to travel. None of them are cast in concrete. All subject to change or discard. But by stating my goals I do find myself accoomplishing something, which makes me a happier person. Can I encourage you to give your goals a lighter touch? To look at them as possiblies rather than do-or-die?

    • sewingplums Says:

      Lovely idea Bev – I tend to be both a very driven person and buzzing to bursting with ideas, so I need to be careful about goals :D

  6. Sigrid Says:

    I’ve made elaborate plans in the past, and learned that I will not stick to it. There’s enough to plan for work, so mostly I’m not planning too much for sewing, as it should be de-stressing. And reading about sewing either online or in magazines/books is such fun too.


  7. [...] and I want to build on a few things.  I was inspired to write this post by Lisanne’s resolutions post on her Sewing Plums blog, which is always worth checking out, if you haven’t discovered it [...]


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