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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
On reading your post Charlotte I found a picture of a Burda style Boiler Suit pattern which is very like one I was wearing in 1983! My birth year was 1952 so not inspired at all (tiny waits and pouffy skirts are you kidding?) but will be interested to see what people do make. On lockdown so hard to source patterns and fabric in a week though let alone sew up. Good luck everyone!
I remember watching Billy Joel sing that song live in concert. Christie Brinkley, his wife at the time, was in the front row, singing along and dancing in her seat. And Flashdance! I cut the bands off all my sweatshirts and wore them inside out with leggings and leg warmers.
Another one who was adult, dressmaking and wearing boiler suits around your date of birth, plus the pencil skirts and blouses to work. I’m looking at inspiration for my date of birth, which was the end of 1959. It’s been fascinating.
I hope I have a chance to get this done
My birth year is 1963
I have a piece of pink wool I had put aside for a jacket for my daughter
There is only one iconic fashion image for my birth year…For the decade…Maybe for the century
The Pink Suit worn by Jacqueline Kennedy
and at a time like this, it is worthy to remember some of the thing President Kennedy said
“In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course….
..In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: … what together we can do”
What a great post. I can’t wait to see your boiler suit. I’ve been trying to source an embroidered name tag without success.
Gosh thinking about Flashdance really takes me back to 1983 in a very good way. I loved that film and I hacked my sweatshirts for the off the shoulder look. And yes, i wore the legwarmers too. In my defense, I was in dance classes. 🙂 One of the most memorable looks from the movie was the tuxedo halter shirt Alex wore when she went out for dinner!
Okay…I’ve been looking at styles from 1960, but I just don’t think it will happen for me this time. I have a vintage pattern, but not the fabric. It will be fun to see what people sew though!