Written by: Chuma Gqoli
Hey sewing friends. I was super excited and nervous when Tino asked me to write a feature for her blog. So sewing inspiration… At first it made perfect sense but then I got into writing and suddenly I was stumped. I quickly realised that for me that’s a very broad and multifaceted and loaded word that is closely tied to my reason, motivation and discipline (or lack thereof) for sewing.
First let’s start with my reason for sewing as I think it’s a critical factor in my inspiration journey. My reason to start sewing is easy-peasy…. I’m fat, I love clothes, and fabric and colour and I want a stylish wardrobe! The plus size RTW market in South Africa (RSA) just isn’t allowing me to live my best fat fabulous fashionable life.
Secondly I can’t jump into what inspires me without touching a little on how I like to plan my makes as it another major factor in my preferred manner of collating my inspiration. I’m a Seamwork member and I have worked through the #seamworkdesignyourwardrobe (DYW) ebook and class and this winter I plan on actually making and completing a few projects. Because of DYW, I break my sewing into two seasonal collections for either my summer or winter wear needs.
So let’s finally talk about inspiration. Firstly my imagination… when I think about what living a fat fabulous and fashionable life means and it inspires to keep moving towards the me I want to be. I’m deeply inspired by people like Tino who are living their lives fully and who are always bravely pursuing the best version of themselves, probably because I’m working actively and quiet the negative voices in my head and pushing past my fears and procrastination tendencies to just start. Finally when it comes to sewing projects it always comes back to my first secret love FASHION. Most of my inspiration comes from looks I see that I love and absolutely have to have. I’m always pinning looks from fat/plus size influencers I follow onto my own seasonal collection boards. Instagram is another huge source of inspiration for me whether it’s plus size influencers again (I double down and follow a few on both the Insta and the Pinterest streets), or following sewing related hashtags like #fatsewing, #curvysewing, #curvysewingcollective, #sewmysize, #plussizesewing, #seamworkmag and the many others. Fabric can also be a great source of inspiration when it comes to sewing projects. Sometimes I’ll start a collection based on the my fabric stash colour story. Sewing patterns themselves or sewing pattern hashtags are another great way I like to trigger my imagination. Sometimes a pattern just speaks to you and sometimes you need other more experienced sewists to show its full potential.
So now it’s time for my dirty confession… You’d think with all these different sources of inspiration my wardrobe is full of me-mades but that is the furthest thing from the truth. See the problem is I get inspired and I make elaborate plans but then I never follow through. I’ve got exactly 2 completed makes under my belt(1 which I ended up not liking at all) and a growing UFO pile. This winter I went into my collection planning with a couple of set intentions to ensure a more successful sewing journey and a growing number of me made items.
- I’m limiting my projects to makes that I reasonably feel I can accomplish and remake. Here it’s all about practice and progress and building my sewing confidence.
- I’m focusing on makes that will pair well with my existing favourite RTW items
- Finally the looks that go onto my board as inspiration must fall in criteria 1 and be as close to the pattern as possible. Extra points for exact matches. This is so I don’t have to overwhelm myself with any hacking
So armed with these 3 thoughts I jumped into my process and started planning my AW21 capsule collection. I planned for 2 life contexts, business casual and athleisure. Luckily for me dress code at my workplace is pretty casual even when we eventually get back to working onsite(we’re currently still observing work from home protocols). I have a few jerseys, knit dresses that I tend to keep going back to so also used that to see what would work well in my wardrobe. Once I really looked at my wardrobe it was clear what was missing:
- Skirts to go with the jerseys and tights
- Leggings to go with the knit dresses I already own
- A shirtdress to also go with the leggings
- A sweater dress to fulfil my inner fashionista
- Sweater and joggers because that’s all I see and even me I want to be a cool fashionista
Here’s my AW21 final inspiration mood board that I’ve printed out onto an A4 sheet and stuck onto the door of my spare room and sewing space to motivation me to go inside and get stuff done. I’m also happy to report that I’m about to complete my first project based on these inspiration looks and I’ve already printed and am taping my next project up. Depending on how well I do and how confident I’m feeling by mid-July I may even add a surprise advanced beginner project in the works.
I guess my final thoughts on inspiration would be don’t be afraid to play, it’s the only way you’re going to figure out your voice and what you like. If you’re a visual person like me take the time out to make a board and print it out and put it somewhere where you’ll see it and get a tingly sensation everytime you look at it and anticipate wearing it and finally if you start feeling overwhelmed, walk away, come back to it later and maybe start with pairing it down into a more manageable goal.
Remember it’s all about progress not perfection. Keep sewing!!! Keep sparkling!!! Keep Smiling…