does it bring you joy?

For five years, my home consisted of one room and the shared use of a communal area in a Buddhist community. Since moving into a flat, I’ve slowly begun to accumulate more and more possessions but I still value a minimalist lifestyle. However, I can be prone to prevarication when it comes to letting go of things, namely clothes – coming up with a plethora of reasons to hold on.

Ten months into my love affair with stitch, I felt compelled to examine my wardrobe. If I continue to create at my current pace, I’m in danger of over-indulging the inner consumer I had hoped to curtail. Reflected in the eyes of admiring non-sewers, I could perpetuate the myth that making my own clothes is driven by a lofty desire to reduce my carbon footprint.

Who am I kidding? Dig a little deeper and you’ll see the fabrics I’m drawn to are high end craft cottons as averse to recycled thrift. When it comes to patterns, I scan eagle eyed for breaking releases from independent designers and pour over Japanese dress books, beguiled by the clean lines and aspirational living shots. I’m consuming – just in a more palatable, aesthetically pleasing form.

On many occasions I’ve tried to hone my wardrobe and been hampered by reasons not to: I might wear it in future (I haven’t for years), I might lose a stone (I’ve put on a half) … the list goes on. So this time, I decided to adopt a different approach based on the Maria Kondo principle – does it bring me joy? It’s a emotional question which elicits an instant response and made easy work of streamlining my stuff. My working wardrobe is now a cacophony of colour, vintage finds and handmade creations.

WordPress and Instagram are vehicles which have allowed me to document my progress through words and pictures, connecting with like minded makers across the globe. Whilst I’m hugely encouraged by the support thereof, I’m mindful that the pressure to post does not propel the creative process. Cleaning out my closet has allowed me to fully appreciate what I already have and consider where I want my sewing journey to take me next.

In 2016, I’ve been concentrating on a capsule holiday wardrobe and unsurprisingly Japanese smocks feature highly. This month’s offering is another attempt at Yoshiko Tsukiori’s Dress E, from my beloved Stylish Dress Book. The first continues to garner the most positive feedback and the second is one of my most worn makes to date – however, I’m not convinced the capped sleeves work for me and am considering chopping them off. For my third, I’m using fabric sourced from Tim Holtz’s Eclectic Elements Collection, which found it’s way to me in the John Lewis January sale.

Construction was a stress-free staged approach, as I have painfully learnt from the errors of a sewing lock-in too many. I’m embracing a new tack of sewing punctuated by other healthy living essentials – namely cooking, eating, and sleeping. So far, it’s paying off and this make was a calamity free endeavour. I think the pattern and fabric compliment each other perfectly, with a home-made bias binding finish at the armholes to accentuate the green over pastel tones.

There’s always room for improvement and gathers continue to be my nemesis, as I lack the necessary patience to execute them well. The join on my bias binding is also unworthy of close inspection but I’ll dwell on these shortcomings no longer. Does it bring me joy? The answer is a resounding yes, so it’s a very welcome addition to my handmade wardrobe.

Whilst I’m yet to read Maria’s book, the wisdom in the words of this simple phrase have captured my imagination and the potential applications are all-pervasive. Food, friends, pastimes, sewing patterns … if they aren’t bringing me joy, I’m considering what they are bringing and whether it’s worth holding on to them so dear.

6 thoughts on “does it bring you joy?

  1. its ever-so pretty, its like an impressionist painting from a distance (actually working in the opposite as the pattern becomes clearer as you get near). I love the pleats/tucks at the front, the straight lines vs florals – lovely finish with the binding too – I have to do a seasonal wardrobe check soon (wash and pack away jumpers) and invariably still keep some clothes I am sentimental about (4 dresses I no longer have delusions of wearing ….. one I have never worn, my aunt gave me a 70s tailor made ‘eurovision’ style dress that she owned and I can’t just discard it either…..)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly what I thought when I saw the fabric – that it reminded me of an impressionist painting. From a distance it also looks quite textured and velvety but it’s 100 percent cotton. I did hold on to some vintage dresses that I’m unlikely to wear again but harbour sentimental feelings for… Which I felt was enough to keep them in the ‘joy’ pile… For now at least x xx


  2. Yes, I know exactly what you mean! My wardrobes are stocked with dresses which have places to go. Mostly of the dancing/different types of, hence the quantity. Then there are lots of casual pieces not good enough for meals out and theatre etc. It’s got to the point now that I can’t find much to fit the bill for certain occasions. I too found the “does it bring you joy” advice useful in parting with stuff. I love your dress, and with those never to be parted from red boots and coral jacket you wore on Saturday – what a combination! Happy pre holiday makes. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Terri. I am really pleased with the dress…. I think it’s so versatile and I’m so glad I bought the fabric with you. I spent ages thinking which pattern to use and I’m glad I opted for this one. It’s a dress for every day and every thing! Does it bring you joy – my new life mantra! X


  3. This dress is beautiful, I love this book. So many beautiful styles. The does it bring me joy? Good question. It’s so hard to chuck out our homemade clothes but I agree if we keep sewing we will drown in it all. You’ve inspired me- going to have a rummage through the wardrobe see what I don’t love any more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thank you Louise – I am really happy with it and the book was the best investment – the gift to myself that keeps on giving! Hope you don’t later regret my inspiration when you realise something you purged would have come in handy! I find these times are few and far between though and the satisfaction of streamlining wins out! 🙂


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