Sewing Your Birth Year — What to Sew?

Sewcialists Mini Challenge Sew Your Birth Year Logo

Have you decided on a project for our Sew Your Birth Year challenge yet? If not, then hopefully today’s blog post will provide the inspiration needed (or at least send you off to enjoy revisiting movies and music from the year you were born).

Having given my own project some thought, I’m sharing my process for deciding on a project inspired by my birth year, 1983. I stuck strictly with my birth year, but of course you don’t have to (you’re free to interpret the challenge as suits). You don’t have to sew for yourself, either; perhaps you’ll sew a project for a relative or friend based on their birth year instead.

For my own project, I began by thinking about movies released in 1983, and the clothes featured in them.

One film from 1983 stands out as featuring a memorable costume — Flashdance, and specifically that wide-necked sweatshirt. Also released in 1983 were Return of the Jedi (think Leia in a camo poncho and, god forbid, that bikini), Educating Rita (Julie Walters in blouses and pencil skirts), and Maud Adams starring as femme fatale Octopussy.

Images from films released in 1983: Flashdance, Return of the Jedi, Educating Rita and Octopussy

I found a lot more inspiration (and project options) by looking to the UK charts for 1983. There were the new romantics (period costumes, extravagance, and lots of accessorising), two-piece suits, and endless denim and leather. Madonna released her first album, Bonnie Tyler topped the charts looking ethereal in the video for Total Eclipse of the Heart, and Boy George wore a multitude of pom poms and bows.

Images of bands in 1983: Culture  Club, Wham, Madonna, The Smiths, Spandau Ballet

I considered using a paper pattern, or an issue of Burda, published in 1983, but decided that selecting and tracking down a pattern would prove even more of a rabbit hole than watching music videos from the year was proving. If you do fancy exploring that option, the Vintage Patterns Wikia is a good place to search pattern releases for a specific year or decade.

Images from sewing patterns from 1983

Finally, I also considered fashion editorials from 1983 as a source of inspiration. I found lots of interesting looks but nothing I particularly fancied sewing. (P.S. The Vogue Magazine Archives contain digital copies of every issue published, and it should be possible to view a small number of issues for free, although I found access tricky.)

Images from fashion photography from 1983

So what did I decide to make?

I stuck strictly with my birth year and decided to make a project inspired by the song which was number 1 in the UK charts when I was born: Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl. I already had plans (and fabric) to make coveralls, so the project is a perfect combination of stash busting and mini challenge inspiration! I have my woven name patch ready and will be busy sewing this week, while admiring what everyone else is making (use the hastag #sewcialistsminichallenge to join in).


Charlotte is a Sewcialists Guest Editor. She is based in the UK, and blogs at English Girl at Home.


Dear Reader: Our goal is to build community and make everyone feel welcome. We support crafting as an inclusive and welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, genders, orientations and sizes. Regarding sewing challenge themes, we ask that you take each challenge as you see it fitting in your life, and express your involvement how you like, at the given time. Our challenges are for the pure enjoyment of participation and the love of community. Extended Mission Page Here.