My sewing challenge for 2014

I have decided to join Sarah Gunn from Goodbye Valentino on her yearlong RTW fast. This means that I am not going to buy any clothes, except for shoes, socks and underwear in 2014. I will make what I need.

At first I thought, not buying anything for a year, that will be tough. Then I started thinking about the clothes that I bought this year and couldn’t really remember anything. I had a quick look through my bank account records and I’ve only bought something in a clothes store once in 2013 (unless I paid cash because then I don’t have a record, but I don’t think I did), so in fact, it probably won’t be tough at all.

Shopping for clothes is not something that I enjoy because I find it really hard to find things that fit well. Being fed up with RTW was one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to sew. Now that I can sew and adjust patterns, I am much happier with most of the garments that I made myself than with the ones that were store bought.

buy fabric not RTWDuring this challenge I will continue to wear the RTW items that I already own, but I plan to slowly replace almost everything by (better fitting) items that I have made myself. By the end of 2014 I hope to mostly wear my own makes. This means that I will have to conquer my greatest fear, trousers, because my RTW jeans are likely to wear out during the coming year and I better have some new ones ready before that happens.

It will be important to create a basic versatile wardrobe (and not 20 party dresses that hardly ever get worn) so I’ve made a list of things that I will need to make in order to arrive at this wardrobe. This list does take into account what I already have made and wear. For example, I already have made 4 cardigans that I wear all the time, so my efforts are better aimed at making items that I haven’t made before instead of making 4 more cardigans.

What to make for my basic wardrobe:

  • 2 casual skirts (The skirt pattern from Craftsy’s class “Design and sew an A-line skirt” is still somewhere in my UFO pile, I think that will be a good starting point.)
  • 1 fancy skirt (Adapt my A-line skirt pattern to a pencil skirt and use a suiting fabric?)
  • 4 pairs of trousers (I have a Sewaholic Thurlow muslin and a pair of jeans that I started to copy with the method from Craftsy’s Jean-ious class in my UFO pile so those will be good to start with.)
  • 4 basic knit tops (Some Sewaholic Renfrews? Lady Skater bodice transformed to a t-shirt? I also really like the look of the Papercut Ensis tee.)
  • 2 sweaters (Anyone has a good idea for a sweater pattern (not a hoody)? Or perhaps I can find one in my stash of Knipmode magazines.)
  • 1 cardigan (Plenty of patterns that I still want to make in my stash of Knipmode magazines. Probably will be hard to stop at just 1…)
  • 2 jackets (There is a jacket in my UFO pile that I really need to buy a lining for so that I can continue with the construction. I’d also like to make the Sewaholic Cordova)
  • 2 classic tailored shirts (I’ll probably use a pattern from a Knipmode magazine.)
  • 2 casual dresses (I suppose my next Lady Skater dress already fits this bill. Perhaps I should also make a dress with a woven fabric?)
  • 1 fancy dress (Good opportunity to finally try out the techniques from Craftsy’s “The Couture Dress” class.)
  • 1 bathrobe (quite urgent, my current one is threadbare and needed replacing 2 years ago (did I mention how much I dislike shopping?). I’m pretty sure I have a decent pattern somewhere in a Knipmode magazine.)
  • 2 pyjamas (Not very urgent)
  • 1 summer coat (I’ve had my eye on the Sewaholic Robson for a while now.)
  • 1 winter coat (Not urgent, my current coat is still in good shape.)
  • 1 suit (Not urgent, I hardly ever wear one and I think for most occasions you can get away with wearing something else. I’d like to make a suit one day though.)

Am I going to make this whole list of items in 2014? I wish… That would mean at least 2-3 finished items each month and some of these will certainly take a decent amount of time. With my current sewing speed that is just not going to happen. I also want to continue to make quilts and gifts so not all of my sewing time will be spend sewing for myself. I think it is really a good idea though to have some sort of plan and to have an overview of the things that I want to make. I think that will also make it easier to make items that will work well with the other items in my wardrobe so that I will be able to combine them in different ways.

Would you ever consider making all of your clothes?

December 4, 2013

Emmely Treffers

About Emmely

I am a sewing enthusiast from the Netherlands. I live in the Leiden area with my husband and two daughters and I am currently working as a senior researcher in molecular virology. With my quilting patterns and sewing blog I want to infect as many people as possible with my love for sewing.

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  1. onedabbles

    I’ve signed up for the same challenge, which for a beginner sewist is either very brave or sheer lunacy – but it will certainly get me started and make me try new things.

    I like your planning approach and I’m thinking about what I might need and the order in which I’ll need it.

    I will probably substitute skirts for trousers. Did you see this post about making jeans –

    These patterns are very tempting – stylish and wearable.
    I’ve ordered the T-shirt pattern because I’ll need to master those for next year. Perhaps later in the year (our winter) I might try to make some pants.

    With Sarah’s challenge and your skills, I think 2014 will be a great sewing year for you. I am really looking forward to seeing what you make.

    • Emmely

      I am certain this challenge will be an opportunity for you to quickly learn new skills. Everyone will be cheering you on for sure! For a beginner my advice would be to start with some easy patterns (like the t-shirt you already got) so that you are able to finish some things fairly quickly. It is very rewarding to have made something that you like and be able to say “I made that”. When you get more confindent with your skills move on to slightly more complicated patterns and you’ll discover that they’re not as difficult as you imagined they’d be.

  2. Deborah

    Wow, Emmely! This is an awesome idea! I can’t wait to follow your progress. It’s ambitious, but you are realistic about not trying to accomplish it all in 2014. Having the plan will help things move along though! Kudos!

    I’m not sure I would consider such a challenge myself, but it certainly might get me thinking about sewing SOMETHING for myself to wear, if not in 2014, then once I’m back in the U.S. At the moment, I barely have time to do the quilting I want to do, so I can’t add additional sewing right now. But I am now thinking that I might need to set specific quilting goals for 2014.

    Good luck with it! I’m cheering for you!

    • Emmely

      Hi Deborah, I think the list will be super helpful. Until now I just made what caught my eye at the moment of wanting to make something instead of choosing something that would be a really useful addition to my wardrobe. I might have to make a similar list for the quilting projects that I still want to make because I am not really making a lot of progress with my quilting at the moment (and so many ideas floating through my head).

      Perhaps you could make something really simple for yourself just to have made something to wear? I can finish a t-shirt in less than an afternoon, so something like that in a fun fabric can be fast and still really rewarding.

      • Deborah

        I appreciate the thought, but I will admire from afar until I’m back in the US. In addition to the issues of shopping for fabric in a language I don’t understand, I have to accept the fact that I’ve crammed enough me activities into the coming year. A year ago, I wasn’t quilting at all, blogged twice a week, and wasn’t doing regular exercise. Now I’m quilting at least weekly, blogging several times a week, and doing a 30-minute workout routine 3 times a week. No more room to put anything else in at the moment. But I’m putting clothing-making on my list for the future. I’ll need new clothes as the size continues to change over the next few months. 🙂

        • Emmely

          If your size is changing I think that is a very good reason to postpone sewing clothes. It is a bit of a bummer if you make something that fits perfectly and then no longer fits 2 months later.

          • Deborah

            yeah, going from being basically sedentary to working out three times a week is definitely making a difference. But I’m still excited about your project, and it has inspired me to think about returning to garment making when things stabilize in my life. 🙂

  3. andrea

    What a great list of items to make. Like you, next year I need to finish a jacket, make a bathrobe, warm winter coat and cardigans (but I might also have to learn to knit to make these). I also have the Cordova pattern as a project for 2014. Good luck with your plans!

    • Emmely

      The knitted items will pose a bit of a problem for me. I’ve tried knitting and have decided that it’s just not for me. I like the construction part of making clothes and don’t want to first spend ages making the fabric myself. I also was, to put it mildly, not very good at it. Perhaps I’ll have to team up with a knitter and swap a knitted sweater for a sewn dress or something like that?
      I really like the look of the Cordova jacket but I have to finish some other items first before I start anything new…

  4. ukcitycrafter

    That’s an impressive list I shall look forward to reading about your evolving wardrobe 🙂

    • Emmely

      Thank you, I am sure it is going to be a fun year!

  5. sewexhausted

    I just signed up to play along. I am actually finishing up a full year of a RTW fast and ready to go straight in to year 2. Year one was easy because I had enough clothes! Now I am finding I am going to need to replace my jeans and I need some more casual tops… So, I bought the Renfrew pattern from Sewaholic and am going to treat myself to the Jeans class from Craftsy. Your list makes you way more organized than I was! I look forward to seeing your makes… ~Laurie

    • Emmely

      Hi Laurie, nice to meet another RTW faster! My job costs me a lot of energy so I have limited time to sew. My biggest worry is that all my trousers (or something else) become too worn before I have had time to make new ones which would force me to do some kind power sewing to make sure I don’t have to leave the house naked. Most weeks, that is just not an option so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to stay organised and make enough basics in the coming months.

      Good luck on your continued fast!

  6. Carolyn

    Good luck with the challenge! I made a lifelong pledge off RTW four years ago, through Wardrobe Refashion, which is no longer a sign-up site but was pretty big in the sewing world for a long time. It’s revolutionised my shopping habits. I haven’t bought any RTW, including underwear, during all that time, and this year have worn exclusively my own handmade clothes, including all underwear, socks and hosiery. It is quite a big commitment but you get used to it pretty fast. My best advice is to avoid even stepping foot into a clothing store, and after a year or so you are over that quick-fix gratification to buy;. I’m not even tempted by RTW any more.
    all the best with it!

    • Emmely

      Thank you! I don’t like shopping so not going into clothes stores luckily isn’t difficult at all. When I do I am usually very disappointed at the fit so I imagine the temptation will be minimal. I am not yet ready to make my own underwear, but maybe, someday….

  7. saskia

    Nice blog! And so cool you’re also going to sew your own wardrobe for a year! I’m going to do the same thing (knitting and sewing) and plan to blog about it as well. I am not sure if I can do it though.. to be honest I have only sewn two garments that I actually wear.., the idea of this challenge for me is to ‘force’ myself to wear my own stuff.
    Curious to see how you will be doing your challenge! En heel veel succes met je blog natuurlijk 🙂
    Groetjes, Saskia

    • Emmely

      Hi Saskia,

      Nice that you found my blog! If you start one as well please let me know the link. As your skills improve your garments will look less homemade and it will be easier to wear them. I hardly ever wear the first garments that I made because they look a bit too homemade or don’t fit so well. Nowadays I wear everything.

  8. Louise

    I just signed up to the RTW Fast Challenge. Just like onedabbles I am actually a beginner sewist too, I look forward to seeing your makes…

    • Emmely

      I’m sure it will be loads of fun and an opportunity to learn new skills. Good luck! We’ll be cheering each other on.

  9. patternandbranch

    Wow. I’m really impressed. I’ll have to check back in with your blog to see how it’s going. I really like the Alabama Chanin books for knit skirts, t-shirts, etc. She has a lot of hand-sewing projects, but I just use my machine, because I’m impatient, and it is FAST when you do that. I also like Mary Adams Party Dress book for a fancy dress. All of these books have patterns in them. I’m not sure how available they are in the Netherlands, but you could order them from, I’m sure. Good luck! Your list sounds like mine, and I never end up making all of the things, but you have to dream, right? 😉

    • Emmely

      I love Alabama Chanin! I have the Alabama Stitch book and plan to make the corset one day. Alabama Studio Sewing & Design is high on my wish list. I’ve made one project so far, an embroidered cardigan (not an AC pattern) completely by hand and I really enjoyed the process.



  1. I might spend 2014 mostly naked | One dabbles, Mrs Weaver. - […] at infectious stitches has posted about her wardrobe plan. I suspect I might be substituting some skirts for jeans…

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