Why I don’t monetise my blog.

I’ve read a couple of posts by “big-name” sewing bloggers recently about why they are monetising their blogs.  They provide great arguments and rationale.  I especially understand why you would want to monetise your sewing blog if you have a sewing related business – or if you have a huge readership who clearly do follow your links.  But here’s why I don’t monetise mine.

  • Sewing – and by extension, blogging about it – is my hobby.  By definition, a hobby isn’t a job.  I don’t make money out of it.
  • If I wanted to make more money, I’d do more hours at my day job.  The hourly return there is far more than I would ever get from blogging.
  • I’m a small-time blogger.  Why would I want to bother monetising?
  • Money creates expectation.  If I’m being paid or receiving financial reward in some way from what I am doing, there are certain obligations that go along with that, whether explicit or implicit.  I’m not interested in those obligations.
  • No-one makes me blog.  I blog for me.  I am thrilled that there are people who like to read my blog, but the main driver of my blogging is to record my sewing and crocheting.  It’s an online journal.
  • I link to patterns I like, products I use, books that I read, web-sites that I frequent, shops that I buy from.  Because they are what I use.  Not for any other reason.  I don’t want to link for any other reason.
  • Not everything in life has to be about money or financial reward for effort.  What about karma?

Many of these points are inter-related.  I suspect that others may have similar reasons for not monetising their blogs.  I am not saying that people shouldn’t monetise, but I also think that there are valid reasons for not heading in that direction.  Your thoughts?

Cambie for Freya

One of the fun things about sewing for my cousin Freya is getting to sew up styles that I really wouldn’t wear myself.  You know, those styles that show off a tiny waist.  I don’t have a tiny waist – but Freya does.  Despite having jumped on the Tessuti Sophie bandwagon quickly, I was very slow to jump on the Sewaholic Cambie bandwagon.  This pattern came out a couple of years ago, and was number two on the Sewing Review Best Patterns of 2012 list.  This meant that there were what seemed like a million reviews and tutorials on the internet, so there were plenty of resources available for reference.  Not that I used any of them actually – I just followed the pattern instructions.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Oh it’s a good thing for me that Ada is adjustable and I could dial her down to Freya’s measurements! I chose to make the A-line skirt version, mostly due to fabric restrictions. The bodice is lined, and I used the same fabric for lining, but decided not to line the skirt.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Freya’s measurements exactly correspond with Sewaholic’s size 10. Yippee! So that’s what I sewed. The invisible zipper through the back shows ever so slightly at the waistband, where the fabric is thicker, but otherwise it is basically invisible as per the name. When it was on Freya it was quite invisible at the skirt – the photo above is deceptive.  I wasn’t able to pattern match the florals, but didn’t actually try to. (I watched the first episode of the 3rd series of the Great British Sewing Bee yesterday and now every tiny imperfection in my sewing is glaring at me each time I sit at the machine or touch anything I’ve made). The seams do line up nicely though!

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

There are side seam pockets, which were straightforward to construct. I stabilised the angled pocket openings with stay tape before stitching. It’s always worth remembering to do that on seams that are cut on an angle to the grain.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Unfortunately when Freya eventually tried her dress on it fit perfectly everywhere except vertically through the upper bodice. The perils of sewing for someone else without having them available for fitting! We have finally decided that she is proportionately shorter from the bust to the shoulder, which leads to bodice gaping in styles like this one.  As it turns out, lately she has been getting ready to wear clothes altered to shorten them in that area, and she’s going to get her alterations person to alter this dress too (I could have done it but Freya lives half an hour’s drive away from me and this way she’ll have her dress back much sooner). The sleeves/straps need to be shortened, which in this case means unpicking the bodice lining to access the straps, unpicking them from the top of the bodice then pulling them through an inch or so before restitching. That will eliminate the bodice gaping that is currently there. I will now remember to do this with future garments I make for Freya. We are similar heights, but interestingly for me I usually make the petite adjustment through the body between the bust and the waist, and rarely between the bust and shoulder.  Different proportions and alterations are needed for different bodies, even when their heights are similar and often even when their circumferential measurements seem similar!  We are three dimensional, and simple measurements don’t always reflect our similarities and differences accurately.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

I’ll add a modelled photo when one becomes available.  ETA – a photo just came through!  Hooray!  It looks fantastic on Freya!  Construction was shared between the sewing machine and the overlocker, and I used the machine to blind hem the skirt. This was quite straightforward to make, and does end with a pretty result. The cotton (a gift) was easy to sew, and I was pleased to move this pattern from the unsewn pattern drawer to the sewn pattern drawer! (Don’t you organise your patterns like that too?)

Sewaholic Cambie for Freya

pencil case

Oh the blog post titles are getting even more mundane.  This one is about a – you guessed it – pencil case.

New pencil case to start year 7

Just before school started and we were sorting through Clare’s things, making sure that we had everything she needed for high school, she realised that she needed/wanted a new pencil case. One large enough to fit her ruler and assorted other bits and pieces. So it was off to the stash we went, where we chose some fabrics and even managed to find a coordinating chunky zipper. The outer fabric is a home decorating weight designed by Denyse Schmidt, and the lining is a quilting cotton. Both very pretty colours. Because the outer was a heavier weight I didn’t even interface it.

New pencil case to start year 7

There are a plethora of instructions on the internet that can help you to make a simple lined zippered pencil case, but I used a combination of the instructions for the zippered pouches in You Sew, Girl! by Nicole Mallalieu and those in her make-up purse pattern. I strongly recommend Nicole’s book(s) for anyone wanting to know how to make bags/purses and similar items well – they are packed full of simple tips and tricks that really improve the finish. I based the pencil case size on an existing pencil case and then tweaked it to Clare’s specifications.

New pencil case to start year 7

I can hardly believe that I managed a whole blog post on this! It was very quick to make and highly satisfying, fits all Clare’s stationery requirements (including her calculator) and apparently the other girls in her class have admired it quite a bit. It’s a winner!

Another Ruby

These last few blog posts have had a definite theme – they are all garments sewn from Tessuti patterns.  This one is a pattern repeat for me – the Ruby dress.

Tessuti Ruby dress in Chiang Mai cotton

Now I know that my pose in that photo is weird, but it shows off the shape of the dress beautifully. And hey, I found a new backdrop for you! However, I discovered that it was wet when I leaned on it. Ew. Just water from the building’s air conditioning, luckily. So, back to the dress. I sewed this in size Medium without alterations. The length is as per the pattern, simply overlocked then turned up an inch and blind hemmed on the sewing machine. For reference, I’m 158cm tall so you might want to take that into account if you are taller.

Tessuti Ruby dress in Chiang Mai cotton

Now can I rave about this fabric? I love it for quite a few reasons. The colour way is superb. Dark olive green with mustard flowers; just perfect for me! It’s quite loosely woven yet isn’t transparent, and is super soft. And the best bit? It’s a holiday souvenir, bought on my fantastic fabric shopping trip with Gaye in Chiang Mai last year. Wonderful memories!

Tessuti Ruby dress in Chiang Mai cotton

Side seams and shoulder seams were sewn on the overlocker. I applied the binding to the inside of the dress first, then turned it to the outside and topstitched it in place. The facing around the back slit was cut twice and then sewn right sides together around the edges before turning to the right side. This acted as self-interfacing and left me with lovely edges to the facing. Then once it was attached to the dress I top-stitched around the slit for extra strength. The button closure is a flat shank button from stash, and I used hat elastic to make the loop to secure it.

Tessuti Ruby dress in Chiang Mai cotton

So there you go! This dress does need a strapless, racer-back or cross-back bra underneath, so you might want to keep that in mind if you make it. The armholes are cut in, but not too far and I think it’s a great cut on me. I loved wearing this in yesterday’s heat. Just wish that I’d remembered to put my lipstick (and bracelets) on for the photos!

Tessuti Sophie dress

Sometimes I am the last person to jump onto a pattern bandwagon (and yes, there are many pattern bandwagons that appear in the sewing blogosphere, for good reasons and for bad).  But hey, this time I think that I am one of the first!

Tessuti Sophie Dress in silk cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is the Sophie dress. The pattern description from Tessuti’s website is as follows: Sophie Dress – this flared dress features a one lapel v-neckline, drop waistline and centre back seam with dipped hemline at the side seams. The Sophie Dress comes either sleeveless or with a sleeve option. Suitable fabrics for this dress include light to medium weight linens or linen blends, wool crepe and triacetate/poly blends. There is also a variation of this pattern where the lapel doesn’t fold back but comes across to a button and loop on the other side of the v-neckline. Tessuti have instructions on this modification here.  However, I decided to sew up the pattern as it was originally designed, with the single lapel. My first thought had been to sew it as a straightforward v-neckline, but after sewing it all up I’m so glad that I chose the asymmetric lapel after all! I chose to sew size Medium, which is my usual Tessuti size, as what I hoped would be a wearable muslin. It certainly is, although there are things that I will change when I next make it.

Tessuti Sophie Dress in silk cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I did shorten the dress considerably, folding out the entire section at the shorten/lengthen here marking to better suit my 158cm. Otherwise there were no alterations. The fabric is a silk/cotton blend (if my memory serves me correctly) from Darn Cheap Fabrics – and yes, from the $2 table! It was terrific to sew with and equally lovely to wear. It’s not a regular brown though, and the colour was quite hard to match up to thread. It’s got quite a taupe, almost reddish cast to it. The instructions were very good, and I basically followed them other than immediately binning the pattern pieces for the Vilene shields and using Emma Seabrooke stay tapes instead (available in Australia now from Stitch 56). I love these tapes. The under stitching around the lapels and the neckline really ensures that everything sits just as it should. The seam lines and topstitching are definitely features of this dress. I really like the topstitching features throughout and the subtle shaping that has been incorporated into the seams.

Tessuti Sophie Dress in silk cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The actual pattern is rather large in terms of the number of pages that you need to print. Tessuti do warn you of this on their website and the “read me first” instructions that come with the pattern. I took mine to Officeworks and had it printed there. The four large sheets came to $14, so in addition to the pattern cost of $10 it is certainly not cheap. But this is a pattern that I know I will use multiple times, so to me it is still value for money. I also saved quite a bit of time by not having to trim and tape – and time is money too!

Tessuti Sophie dress

Okay, onto what I’ll change next time. I am very happy with the fit through the body, and the way that the dress fits me at the front. The length alteration also pleases me. However, the dress is too wide across the shoulders and there is more sleeve cap ease than I need. Next time I’ll grade to size Small from the bottom of the armhole up, and I’ll make a corresponding change to the sleeve cap. This is not an unusual alteration for me; my shoulders are relatively narrow and sloping. I also have that high rounded upper back thing going on that many computer users have (as well as many in their mid-forties) but that isn’t a problem fit wise.  The back neckline didn’t gape at all.

Tessuti Sophie Dress in silk cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The other thing that I will alter next time is to reduce the back waist length. There is a centre back seam, so I should be able to take out a wedge from the centre back that won’t affect the length of the side seams. I often petite clothing through the bodice, but wasn’t sure if this style would need it. I now think that it does, but only at the back.

Tessuti Sophie Dress in silk cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I plan on making a sleeveless version, and I’ll possibly also give the top a try. I’d also like to try the other neckline variation. Ah, so many plans and so little time!

Tessuti Alice (again)

Do you remember the first time that I sewed the Tessuti Alice dress, in a gorgeous linen with feature yoke, in my usual Tessuti size of Medium?  It was WAY too big for me.  Fortunately, after letting the hem down it has been successfully re-homed in my mother’s wardrobe.  Hooray for others happy to take what I’ve sewn!  Anyway, I’ve made it again.  This was actually sewn weeks ago, but I didn’t manage photos until yesterday.

Tessuti Alice dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This time I sewed the Extra Small, two sizes smaller than last time, and I’m very pleased with it. You can really see the difference at the armhole. The Medium:

Tessuti Alice dress in Darn Cheap Fabrics linen - way too big

And the Extra Small:

Tessuti Alice dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I think I’ve waxed lyrical about this fabric before. It’s rayon from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table, and I used it in a dress for Clare. I also have a Sewaholic Pendrell for my cousin cut out from the same fabric. The colours are superb! And I always prefer a more abstract or graphic floral to a detailed, more realistic one. This ticks all the boxes.

Tessuti Alice dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern other than to shorten it a bit. I used a double folded one inch hem, so two inches in total. That gives the hemline just that bit more weight so that it hangs well. Something I really like about this dress is that the gathers are restricted to the centres of the front and back skirt, which means that the overall silhouette at the sides is fairly straight. Remember, I’m never really looking for waist definition.

Tessuti Alice dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I can tell that this dress will be worn quite a bit. It feels like a happy dress – all that colour! And rayon is always so comfortable. I’ll possibly use the pattern again for a top at some stage too – I’ve seen many lovely versions with a contrast yoke. Other than that, there’s not much more to report! It’s easy to sew, but watch the multitude of different seam allowances used at different stages throughout the pattern. I think that there are three!

Tessuti Alice dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Jungle January swap

Well, it’s been quite a week.  Stella went back to school – grade 2 for her – and Clare started high school.  She was SO excited about it; no nerves at all from her, just anticipation of what the next stage might bring.  But I have to admit that I cried more than once as I took her to school for day one – but I did make sure not to cry in front of her!  I wanted her to just keep on feeling great about it and not worry about my tears.  It is a big step for all of us.  I imagine that the next year will be a massive learning curve for her and for us as her parents.  She’s incredibly well prepared and so ready for it, and I think that we are too.  But it is very emotional for me!  We are all very proud of her.  I’m also emotional about Stella moving in to grade 2 and being at primary school without her big sister being there to fall back on.  I am sure that it will be a great thing for her and give her the opportunity to grow and develop purely as herself, not in relation to her sister.  There will be lots of changes there too.  Phew!

You may be aware that Jungle January has been on this month, and that there was a fabric swap organised as part of it.  I was lucky enough to be paired up with Liz of He Cooks, She Sews! and she sent me this wonderful little package.

Jungle January package from Liz to me

That jersey is definitely going to become a wrap dress, most probably this one. This print is right up my alley! The two patterns were a lovely little extra. Clare spent a bit of time with the croquis included in Simplicity 2983 working out what styles she’d like me to sew for her, and came up with these two.

2015-01-26 09.26.17

2015-01-26 09.51.48

You can see the fabric and other bits and pieces that I sent to Liz over here. (Unsurprisingly, I bought some of the fabric for myself too.) Liz said some very complimentary things in her blog post about how much I get done.  I do sew a lot.  There is no denying that.  It sometimes amazes me too that I can get so much done.  But there are few reasons behind why I can be so productive.  Yes, I currently do work full-time – but my husband is currently at home full-time, so I’m not doing the cooking/shopping/cleaning at the moment, which means my “free” time is more available.  I am able to sew in snatches of time, because I have a fully set up sewing room that even has a couch and TV in it.  So while Stella is in the shower?  I can sew.  While I’m chatting to Clare?  I can sew.  While watching TV?  I can sew.  I’ve been sewing all my life, so I’m pretty quick.  And I sew simple things.  Not because I can’t sew more complex things (I have done in the past, still do on occasion, and probably will in the future) because those styles and silhouettes are what I prefer to wear.  And yeah, I’m obsessed.  But I’m not wonder woman, I promise you!

I was hoping to get another item or two finished before Jungle January was over, but time flew away from me and it’s unlikely to happen (unless I stay up sewing very, very late tonight and count on the time difference between Australia and the US to help me sneak another garment in). But don’t you worry, the Jungle love will continue throughout the year in some way or another!