You can’t swing a metaphorical cat on Instagram without hitting a sewing challenge. You can join in with challenges for particular garments, or monthly challenges. Any type of sewing you do, you’ll find something. Sometimes they’re run by companies with prizes to give away and sometimes they’re run by bloggers.
I have mostly avoided sewing challenges like the plague. To my mind, most sewing challenges are run to gain exposure for companies for free (“sew our dress pattern, share tonnes of photos; you might win something!”) or bloggers run them to increase their following. Either way, I’m not interested. I don’t even like Me Made May because although it isn’t a sewing challenge, you’d never know it for the way that so many sewists churn out a tonne of garments they probably don’t even need. (I’ll admit, another reason I don’t like it is because the phrase “me made” is grammatically incorrect and annoys the hell out of me. Yeah, I’m grumpy like that.)
So… Why The Make Nine Sewing Challenge?
So why on earth did this grumpy slow sewist decide to take part in the Make Nine sewing challenge. Not even once but twice? Good question! Initially I thought that making nine items over the course of 12 months sounded slow and sustainable. I pledged to make things I knew that I wanted to make. I considered gaps in my wardrobe and planned to mostly use patterns I own already.
This year we had our wedding coming up and I knew that including my dress and two bridesmaid dresses was a good idea. Then I pledged to finish some WIPS and do a couple of other things. Ah, silly Toria of 2018 thought that she’d have pleeeeeenty of sewing time through the year. Ha! A house move and a wedding can really put the kibosh on those kinds of plans.
Why I Won’t Be Doing Another Sewing Challenge
A sewing challenge is the absolute antithesis of slow sustainable sewing. To slow slowly and sustainably, I think we should just be sewing what we need, when we need it. In the case of the Make Nine sewing challenge, how on earth do you really know what garments you’re going to need over twelve months? Ok, so you could just treat it like a wish list, which I suppose is what mine ended up being. I can practically guarantee though, that there are sewists frantically finishing a few things off as we get closer to the end of the year. Why? To feel like they’ve joined in. To not feel like they’ve failed. And for what? A virtual round of applause on Instagram.
I know I sound incredibly grumpy, but I think that all any sewing challenge really does is encourage sewing for the sake of sewing. Sewing for likes and nice comments. Maybe sewing to win something. I could be wrong. Maybe you join in with sewing challenges to keep yourself on task and you couldn’t care less about publicly sharing any of it. Even so, how do you feel when you don’t complete a sewing challenge? If you’re anything like me you feel like a failure. I don’t want to feel like that, I’m supposed to enjoy sewing!
If you think I’m a hypocrite because I joined in with Make Nine for two years, then fair enough. But I won’t be joining in with any more sewing challenges from now on. I don’t want to infuse my hobby with stress and panic. I’m not feeling like a failure because I didn’t finish something. I have no idea what I want to sew next year, or how much time I’ll spend sewing.
What I do know is that any sewing I do will be done on my terms, when I feel like it and because I need the garment in question. Not because I’m keeping up with anyone else.