We polled Instagram stories for favorite year-long and shorter sewing challenges. Here are your favourites! (in no particular order) This list is by no means exhaustive, so please add your own favorites to the comments! (note: YMMV= your mileage may vary; apply as needed.)
Year Long Challenges
The Make Nine Challenge
The Make Nine Challenge was hands-down the most popular in our response-request. It’s a no-pressure making-queue organizational method. Rochelle is inspirational in reminding us to make at our own pace, whatever it is, whenever it is. In this world of fast-fashion-buying-frenzy-pressure bleeding over into making, Make Nine is a beacon on the Hill of Chill. This year, Rochelle even gave the Make Nine Challenge its own Instagram for 2019.
Pros: It’s only rough guideline… 9 (insert here) items to roughly guide your year of making. Knitting, painting, sewing, quilting – it doesn’t matter. Change direction midway? Don’t finish it? Nothing lost.
Cons: Some people do better with more structure, and/or some people, understandably, get anxiety with the idea of committing. That’s cool too. Rochelle will be the first person to tell you: do what makes you happy.
Curvy Year of Sewing
Without getting into the drama, there was a need for a more curvy-inclusive year-round sewing initiative, and the leaders of the CSC jumped into action in January of 2018 to make CURVY YEAR OF SEWING.
Pros: Year-long, monthly pattern inspiration, prizes, and inclusive pattern options. Follow #curvyyearofsewing on IG.
Cons: Maybe not a con, per se, but they’re doing every-other month prompts. Also, not necessarily a “con,” but 2018 has been just the first year…so here’s hoping 2019 will have another curvy-challenge-year.
Sarah Gunn of Goodbye Valentino hosts the RTW Fast. Says what it is: no buying clothes for yourself for a year. Of any kind. The only omissions are skivvies/bras, wedding dresses, and shoes. Gifts are allowed.
Pros: Open to everyone as long as you sign-up by the deadline and gain entry to the Facebook group before sign-ups close. It started in 2014, so it’s got some momentum & seasoned players. Prizes. A very large group to connect with; you’re with other people who “get” not buying RTW. Very beginner-friendly, with people ready and willing to help with everything from fit issues to even the most basic sewing questions.
Cons: Facebook. Rules seems to be a bit fuzzy, with some group-policing-drama occurring in Facebook group; could use more hands-on and clear moderators. Prizes are popularity-of-facebook-post based, which is again subject to Facebook group algorithms. There are no rules about being transparent about affiliate-link-posts/promotions or promoting business through the group. (I blocked a number of MLM sales people before leaving the group. YMMV)
Sew My Style
#sewmystyle2018 was coordinated this year by sewing and lifestyle blogger Jessica, and according to Jessica’s blog was started in 2017 by Alex of Bluebird Fabrics, and there will be new coordinators in 2019. Sew My Style is a year long challenge with discounts on the monthly featured patterns, which you can get after you sign-up, and they come to your email right before each challenge-month starts. You also must sign-up to receive access to the “exclusive VIP Facebook Group.”
Pros: ~20% discount on the pattern(s) of the month, most of which are pretty hip and modern, if that’s your thing.
Cons: Facebook algorithms again – Facebook isn’t for everyone. Some of the monthly feature patterns stop at “cusp” sizing, and some patterns weren’t known at time of launch. Leadership seems a bit murky – here’s to hoping 2019 gets the wrinkles ironed out.**
**We did see the 2019 leadership announced and there seems to be some positive changes. We love Claire, she’s one of the Seattle Frocktails organizers, so you know she can lead a team. Sierra is also really fantastic (bonus: also temp Sewcialist editor!), with a lot of energy and will lend some excellent perspective…Katie and Mac are a power team themselves…just to name a few.
Kate and Pilar started #makeyourstash this year, for those of us wading in our ocean of fabric. BUT WAIT, you say, THIS WAS ONLY 3 MONTHS LONG! If you know Kate and Pilar, you know they really want you to do this always, and if you follow the hashtag, you know that is exactly how it is being used. Sure, the prizes were for only 3 months, but the real prize is no-stash-guilt and that lasts all year long. Only rule? Fabric must have been “seasoning” in your stash for at least 6 months.
Pros: Self-directed, no spending money, 3 months long for prizes.
Cons: Self-directed, no spending money, only 3 months long for prizes (hahahaha – tongue in cheek. there are no cons.)
Ok – is there anyone left that doesn’t know of Zoe? Anyone? This has been happening since the dawn of time. Maaaybe a bit superfluous, but come on. 2019 has been hinted at to be a major year for #memademay…but you’ll have to wait and see (cough, 10 year mark, cough.)
Pros: Only a month long. *Open to interpretation (read this again when you get to the con about selfie-fatigue.) It’s HUGE. You will see almost the entire sewing AND knitting world of IG at one point or another during the month.
Cons: Is there really any con to promoting me-made-love? Some people get hung-up on the anxiety of selfie-posting every day on IG, aka selfie-fatigue.* In fact, I think we all do at some point. Most seasoned-participants have changed their attitudes to either enjoying it as a documentation method, found other ways of documenting/participating, or just chillax and participate as they feel like it.
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And here are this week’s discussion prompts, although there’s a lot to think about as you sort through the contents of your closet, and I look forward to hearing what else you come up with! I’d also love to actually see your closets (before and/or after) if you’re willing to share them here on IG. – What is the oldest or the most treasured thing in your closet? – What is the item you wear the most? Why? – Are there any "investment pieces"? How did that work out? – Does anything still have the tags on it? Why? – How much is handmade, hand-me-down or has some other personal meaning? – How does what’s in your closet align with the mood board you made about how you would actually like to dress? In what ways are they the same/different? – How do the colors align with the color palette you made? – How do the clothes align with your lifestyle and climate? – What percentage of your closet feels like YOU? #slowfashionoctober #slowfashion #slowfashionmovement #fashionrevolution #fashrev
Karen of Fringe Association started and continues to head up Slow Fashion October. Her own FAQ page says really anything you want to know; there was a stellar LTS Podcast interview where many of us immediately started photographing our wardrobes afterward, and, well…
Pros: It’s only a month long. It’s mostly inspirational, think piece-prompts, and information. Who doesn’t need to slow down a bit come October?
Cons: Can’t really think of any…I guess if you don’t identify with Karen’s aesthetic, it might not really be your thing? Like…I don’t knit much more than a half dozen washcloths a year, so I can’t identify with the knitting, buuuut, that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the inspiration. As with all of these, YMMV.
Rachel of House of Pinheiro started Sew Photo Hop in 2015. #SewPhotoHop is a month long challenge in August with daily prompts.
Pros: As with Me-Made-May, this is open to interpretation, participate as you like, etc. There are some prizes if you’re into that sort of thing. Rachel is also GB-based like Zoe, but you also get some perspective on life in Brazil from Rachel – so that’s really cool too.
Cons: Ditto Me-Made-May.
Sewvember is a November sewing challenge by Amanda of Bimble & Pimble. Amanda’s humor and wit is absolutely contagious, and it comes across in #sewvember.
Pros: Creative prompts, and this year she also had creative stories prompts in IG. Super cool. Also, Amanda is in the Southern Hemisphere, so those of you getting sun in November, rejoice! As with Me-Made-May and SewPhotoHop, participate as you like, don’t as you don’t.
Cons: Ditto Me-Made-May/SewPhotoHop.
#stitchedwithatwist is a month-long challenge that is exactly what it says: make a pattern more “you” by adding that little something or hacking the pattern to make it unique to your style.
Pros: Open to interpretation and anyone, prizes, only in Instagram. While prizes seem to be London-based, challenge is open world-wide.**
Cons: Instagram only, just had its first year, so time will tell…
(**Between you and me, check out the hashtag if you haven’t seen this one – some of those outfits are SO AMAZE.)
2018 was the first year of #sewfrosting. Closet Case Patterns and True Bias challenged the sewing community to make some incredible frosting for their closets, and it. was. amazing. Our own contributor, Keira Wood, was a winner, and Denise of The People’s Sewing Army was a runner up!
Pros: You can put down that pile of basics you’re sewing, and sew something frivolous and fun. Prizes!
Cons: Not sure there are any concrete cons…other than style preferences? I’m not a huge frosting-wearer myself, so I actually made a basic in a sparkly fabric. But that’s why these things are open to interpretation, and that’s not really a con, is it? Perhaps being this was the first year, we can only hope there will be more.
Honorable Mentions & Sewcial Awareness
Seamwork is hosting monthly challenges.
Pros: it changes monthly; all patterns are allowed (not just Seamwork/Colette), prizes, NOT popularity based (staff narrows down top choices to be voted on so it does not become a popularity contest between top bloggers). No dealing with Facebook/wonky algorithms.
Cons: You do need to be an active Seamwork member to participate in the forums. I don’t know if that’s a “con” for everyone, but it is what it is.
#SewInColour started by Rumana on Instagram got a huge wave of support and now has over 900 tags (be sure to add that U in colour, Americans!) #POCwhoSews has just over 600 and is coming in strong as well. Get some perspective in your feed!
It’s no secret we love Shannon, and @SewQueer has built #SewQueer to almost 2500 tags as of this post in just a few months. Shannon provides the SewQueer platform for anyone/everyone who identifies as LGBTQIAPK+, and anyone who needs some perspective is welcome to come, learn, and listen.
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@Regran_ed from @textillia – Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. What does that have to do with sewing? Well, I’m a disabled sewist and I want to challenge you to support disabled people in our community! That means not just sharing inspirational stories about disabled people (those are often just made to make “normal” people feel better about themselves, aka. “inspiration porn”), but truly impactful support like: 1) Use the word “DISABLED”. Alternative language implies disability is negative and must not be spoken. (There are differing opinions on this, but most disabled activists prefer you #saytheword.) 2) LISTEN to disabled people when we tell you about our lives and experiences, and don’t question what we say. If you want to know more, research the basics yourself before asking us to do the labour of explaining further to you. 3) INCLUDE disabled people. Do the work to invite and include us in events, spaces, and daily life. Make your events and spaces inclusive and accessible, beyond just a ramp, *before* inviting us or advertising the event. If you don’t provide basic accessibility and clear info about it, we are not invited. Say who to contact for less predictable accommodations. A small effort from you can make a huge difference including us. 4) Include us in your ACTIVISM and advocate for us. Disabled people are one of the most forgotten and excluded groups. Don’t forget us! Don’t speak *for* us when we are able to speak for ourselves, but follow our lead and add your support to our fights. 5) PERSONALLY SUPPORT disabled individuals in your community. Put your money where your mouth is! We are one of the most underemployed and impoverished groups, and we often can’t find employers willing to adequately accommodate our needs. Help us get and/or stay out of poverty by supporting our businesses, and hiring disabled people in your own business. This is one of the most direct ways to make a significant difference in the life of a disabled person! But remember that intersectional activism, because while many disabled people *can* work, those who can’t are just as important. Know any disabled makers or crafty entrepreneurs? Tag
Great work being done here to give visibility to sometimes invisible disabilities. Created by Curvy Sewing Collective maven @sewprettyinpink
We would be remiss not to segue into the Curvy Sewing Collective‘s tag at this point. The CSC is a force to be reckoned with, and has paved the way for many other sewcialist groups!
Let’s be honest. Me-Made-May has started an every-day revolution.
What. Did you think we weren’t going to put ourselves on here? The Sewcialists was coined and subsequently launched in 2013 and has become a symbol of inclusivity all over the world. Our mantra IS hyper-inclusivity, and we welcome all to be a part. We are a not-for-profit, volunteer-run, editorial platform for all. We made fabric on Spoonflower for you and made our logos available for all to use. (We are NOT affiliated with anyone using the term to make a profit.)
Location/Frocktails & Age/Generation
From #dallassews to #melbournefrocktails and #sewover50 to #millienialsewing; and let’s not forget Lisa & Erin at maternitysewing – There’s something for everyone. Age-bonding is more popular than location, it seems, with both of these age-related hashtags having over 7k each. Sewover50 was just started August 2018 too! We particularly love Sewover50’s positive approach and inspirational prompts.
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Second topic this weekend is pattern companies. @nicolebpatterson has already started this discussion this morning and @susanyoungsewing mentioned it in her blog yesterday. So what are your experiences of pattern companies to suit you, your styles, your bodies? Let's try and keep this positive by talking about the ones you like and use… that fit in with your look and your life. We are all different shapes and sizes so obviously different companies will work better on some than others but also consider the photos or drawings they use for their publicity. Does a pattern company that uses only young, slim, tall models put you off or can you see through that to something that you would like to make? Which pattern companies use models that look like us? I can already think of some but I am looking forward to hearing about ones i may have missed. I imagine this discussion may take place more on this post, or between yourselves, but you may want to add posts with photos too… so use #sewover50 and let's try out #so50patterns. Have a fabulous weekend guys. And happy sewing.
Author Bio: Becky Johnson is a Sewcialist Editor, a Portland Frocktails organizer, and a person of international interest… or ridiculous delusions of grandeur, you decide.
Oh I love when I see detailed lists! ❤️ I do many of these. I started with the RTW fast in 2015 and haven’t gone back since! I love the hashtag #memadeeveryday. I love the visuals of #bpsewvember and #sewphotohop even though my autocorrect doesn’t! I try to do as many as I can every year. May I add one to the list? Designin’ December or #designindecember which I organize on my blog and Instagram. I say “Why buy when you can make it yourself – better and for less money!” Anytime during the year, find an inspirational photo, something you really, really want, whether a single blouse or a complete outfit, and make it yourself! 🎊💃🕺🎉PROS – you get what you want, it fits better, costs less (usually). CONS – most think all the work has to be done in December but inspiration hits us all year round! Find your inspirational photo, make it, and let me know and I’ll enter you in the Challenge in December. Most think they have to make a “well known designer’s garment” but inspiration can come from everywhere or any century even! Last year we had 22 Challengers, 35 with Instragram included. New this year we have 17 wonderful prize sponsors. The sewing community is so generous! There might still be time to enter this year! Anyway I could talk of this forever. I love encouraging people to sew it themselves! If you are curious check out my blog or Instagram #designindecember. I love the #sewcialist hashtag BTW. It’s another example of the generosity of the sewing community! Thank you #sewcisalists !
I so love that you added yours here, and in format no less!! Xoxo
Thank you for indulging me! I try to please! 😁
I’ve seen another shorter challenge pop up, called #seasonalsew3. I think it’s by the same Katie and Mac that you mentioned earlier. It’s a similar concept to the Make 9, but just 3 projects over 3 months, and good for people who get easily distracted by shiny new patterns.
Oh yes! “Easily distracted” is me all over! 😂😂
Oh good add!
Awesome list, Becky Jo! I’ve participated in some and have noticed others. Love the info about who originated what. Thank for this great post!
Thank you! I saw you in the RTW Fast group when i was still in it. I hope you’re having fun!
Sewing the Scene is run by @theunfinishedseamstress on IG. Sew something for your everyday wardrobe inspired by something on TV or film, any era. It officially starts sometime in July, and you need to post by October 1st to be eligible for prizes.
OH YES! I have seen that one! I stumbled across it. I want to do that one. I love discreet nods to iconic fashion.
I was going to name curviness as a con for the curvy sewing challenge, but then I realized it (probably) doesn’t say I have to sew it for myself, lol. But then again if you have a big butt maybe it qualifies as curvy too? Lol
I participated in MMM for the first time this year and the hardest part was taking a photo every day…
Is there maybe a blogpost for Sew your stash? Although mine isn’t that large, I like to keep it that way and could use some inspiration. Like, not outfits but more like advice on how to approach it 🙂
hahaha. I think we have a “lost in translation” moment here for “curvy.” Curvy in American and GB English means Plus Size – like generally something over a 16/18 sewing size, I believe, and it is like…you treat it as you would any category, for lack of better term, in that, if it doesn’t apply, then you move on. I fit in “standard” sizes, but being I often need a FBA adjustment, the Curvy community has information that is helpful. So, if you do find your waist-to-low-hip ratio off of “standard” sizing, or as you called it, big butt, you may find helpful information even if you don’t fit in Plus Sizes. The challenge does many things – it is size inclusive when some challenges pick patterns that only come in “standard sizes” and it also raises awareness so our community realizes that pattern companies sometimes stop at a limited size range, yet the human population has a much more varied spectrum.
We have a fantastic article on here from Zoe of MMM, and she does give varied options for participation. In 2018, I set up a “selfie station” in advance and had a blast. https://thesewcialists.com/2018/04/13/the-sewcialists-interview-zoe-of-mmmay/
We did mention Make Your Stash, and while I did accidentally find Sew Your Stash, I didn’t include it as it didn’t quite seem to have the following of Make Your Stash… and it seemed a bit confusing to me. Did you participate? Is it a YouTube thing? Maybe if you like it, you can add information?
Thanks for the thorough explanation, Becky! Sometimes I’m in need of a sway back adjustment due to my sizes, and I haven’t quite found a great way to go about it, so I think I’ll look into the curvy sewing community next time I need it 😀
Setting up a photostation sounds like a great idea! Halfway through the month I realized that the light at the toilets at work were great for photos, lol. So a lot were taken there.
Ah, sorry, I meant Make your stash (the one you mentioned), I just remembered wrongly. Funny that the other one also exists, haha!
Hi Karin! My original blog post for make your stash is here http://timetosew.uk/introducing-makeyourstash/ though I wrote a whole series on my blog. We’ll be bringing it back in 2019! And sew your stash also exists but it seems to be for the quilters!
Sorry just reading your original comment again – for approaching it see this one: http://timetosew.uk/thinking-sustainably-about-your-makeyourstash-project/
My favorite sewing challenge is The Refashioners hosted by makery.co.uk. It has two components – a month of blogger inspiration posts by a line-up of guest bloggers, and a month long community challenge with great prizes.
Yes, I definitely messed up and forgot Portia’s challenge! I feel like SUCH a heel, as it’s one of my favorites to watch every year.
[…] It seems like there are more and more sewing / sewing related challenges out there these days. Becky illustrated this perfectly with her list of 2019 sewing challenges! […]
I just started sewing garments 2 years ago and really for the past year when we moved and I got my own sewing space. I cannot wait to start joining in on some of these challenges and connecting with sewists on social media for inspiration!
[…] you’re at it, check out this post over on the Sewcialists blog that delves into the pros and cons of each sewing […]