Challenge accepted?

Do you join in with sewing challenges? There’s so much choice around at the moment, I sometimes feel like that the sewing community is like one big Freshers’ Fair. There’s all these shiny, attractive groups vying for your attention that you end up joining 12 but never actually make it to any meetings. I had a similar experience with #sewphotohop on Instagram in September (it’s a photo-a-day theme challenge) thinking it sounded like a lark. I posted one photo, then went camping for the weekend and never posted again.

TBH I felt a bit guilty about it at first. I felt like I’d committed myself to something and couldn’t follow through. But then I reasoned that I was probably taking on too much. I was doing my own personal challenge, Sew My Stash September, and that was as much as I felt capable of at the time. Don’t get me wrong – all this choice means you can really find your sewing tribe, which is awesome – but my #sewphotohop fail got me thinking about how much I participate and what’s realistic.

I’ve taken part in a number of sewing challenges this year, and the ones that have been most successful have been because I’ve got something out of them. I’ve learned something about my sewing/clothing preferences (Me Made May), I’ve been challenged to sew something out of my comfort zone (Cosy Cardi Challenge), or the challenge has fit in with my current plans (The Monthly Stitch and Sew Together for Summer). They were a lot of fun, too! It’s great to see how other people interpret a challenge, and pick up tips and tricks for something you might also be making.


The smile of someone who’s taken part in a challenge that absolutely fit in with her sewing plans.

I should ask myself whether I’m going to get anything back from a challenge, or if I’m just doing it for the sake of joining in. I was thinking of doing the Little Red Dress Project and the Big Christmas Jumper Sewalong in the run up to the festive season, but I realised I don’t actually need either of these. I don’t wear Christmas jumpers and I have no need for another dress at the moment. There’s no point in stressing myself out about a deadline if I’m not getting anything back from it.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule (cos I love a get-out clause). I’m currently doing #BPSewvember on Instagram (run by Bimble and Pimble), which is another photo-a-day challenge. I’m not getting anything material out of it – I’m not learning a new skill, or sewing a specific garment – but I am having a lot of fun thinking about things I can post that fit the daily theme. I’m haven’t posted every day, and that’s ok. I won’t lost sleep over it.

But in general, I’m going to be a bit more selective about the challenges I join in with from now on. It’s fun to join in, but it’s worth so much more if I’m getting something back.

How about you? Which ones do you like? Are there some you absolutely must take part in? Would you run your own?

17 thoughts on “Challenge accepted?

  1. Mags says:

    I’m also taking part in #bpsewvember on Instagram. It’s the first sewing challenge I’ve done and I’m enjoying thinking about how to interpret each day’s word. I’d love to do Me Made May too – something to look forward to in 2018!

    • Jo says:

      Me Made May is a lot of fun, and I love it for pattern/fabric inspiration, but it’s so useful for seeing where the gaps are in your wardrobe. I discovered I like to wear separates more than dresses, even if dresses are really pretty (!), I tend to sew more separates these days. I’ll look out for your posts! 🙂

      • Mags says:

        It’s hard for me to find clothes that fit properly (big chest, small shoulders and back) so I’m keen to sew more for myself anyway. Do people use the challenge as a deadline, or do they tend to start in May?

      • Jo says:

        The idea is to wear your existing handmade clothes so there’s no need to sew especially for that month, but in previous years I’ve also used it as a kick up the rear to get stuff done. This year I’d been dithering about using up some silk I had in my stash so I promised myself I’d use it by the end of the month.

  2. bellecitadel says:

    I’m much the same as you I think! I’ve done quite a few this year that fit in nicely with existing plans: #cosycardychallenge #sewsomethingforsummer and I really enjoyed Me Made May this year – it gave me a few surprises! With the photohop-type challenges, it depends on the prompts a little. I fell by the wayside with September’s as well, but I think #bpsewvember has a few different prompts, so that’s keeping me going! 🙂 I did do #sewmystyle this year and enjoyed it, but I did find a number of the patterns didn’t suit me (or fit me actually, which was a shame!) So I just cherry-picked those. It was fun trying new styles, however. Overall, I’m an excellent procrastinator and also pretty social, so I like that challenges kick my bum into gear and also enjoy seeing other people’s projects. I’ve seen some pretty snarky “Oh God, annootthher challenge” comments and I don’t really understand that. Social media is… um… social? If you’re not interested, don’t take part my friend..

    • Jo says:

      Exactly! I think it was Thumper who once said “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”… I missed out on those start of the year challenges like Sew My Style and Wardrobe Builder, but I wonder if I’d be able to keep up with them anyway, even if I did like all the patterns (there’s always a few I’d swap out). I like the short and sharp ones where you’re getting it done pretty quickly.

  3. Leigh says:

    I got myself so stressed out last December with my Christmas present sewing and the little red dress project that I ruined the week off I had before Christmas for myself. I’m determined not to do that this year so I’m being a lot more restrained in the things I sign up for (and I’ve already cut out the Christmas gifts). The #cosycardichallenge hit at just the right time for me because I was planning to sew a bunch of cardigans anyway. I’m planning to take part in #OWOP again this year because I really enjoy it and it also ties in nicely with this month’s sewcialists TNT theme too. It’s a good one for me because I don’t really have many memade things for this time of year so it’s a good challenge to build some up.

    I did have a vague idea of doing my own little sewing challenge in January (#jeanuary) but now that challenges all seem to have this huge pack of prizes I just don’t think I have the time or energy to try to arrange that. I might still do it, prizeless though, even if it’s just me who joins in.

    • Jo says:

      It’s almost fate that OWOP and the TNT month are at the same time, isn’t it? I wonder if it was planned that way, though I do sometimes think that the sewing community goes through distinct trends (e.g. everyone was sewing knit dresses, then it was jeans, now it’s bras).

      Do you think prizes are a necessary part of sewing challenges these days? I might be alone, but the chance of winning something isn’t a factor in me joining a challenge – I think I’m more attracted by the theme/pattern etc and the prize is a nice-to-have. I’d join in with Jeanuary if you do it – prize or no prize! My RTW jeans are getting a bit past it so I need to bite the bullet and get on with it.

      • Leigh says:

        Glad to hear you’d still join in. Prizes aren’t a factor for me either but I did wonder if they were for other people. Though Gillian said on the Love to Sew Podcast that she doesn’t like entering challenges with prizes so there must be a few of us.

  4. corrineappleby says:

    I feel exactly the same way about sewing challenges. I only join them when it’s worthwhile for me and the timing is right. I think the run up to Christmas is not the best time for sewing challenges as so many people have enough on at this time of year. Having said that I’m doing Stitching Santa (for the fourth time) and the Little Red Dress project. I need a new dress for my work’s Christmas do so the timing works for me! I’m dipping in and out of bpsewvember and only post when I have the imagination to think of something. I don’t enter any of the challenges for prizes though so I may be up for Jeanuary! I have fabric and pattern already!

    • Jo says:

      I think any sewing done in December should be seen as a bonus, whether it’s for a challenge or not!! I’m enjoying bpsewvember this year, but probably more so now I’m only posting when I’ve got something to contribute. And sometimes even when I don’t… today’s post was a picture of Run DMC cos I can’t get It’s Tricky out of my head!

  5. Sew Sarah Smith says:

    I agree, challenges shouldn’t feel challenging should they. Ultimately they should be fun and if you get something out of them (new skills/friends/garments you love) then even better. I don’t think prizes should be necessary or winning them, the aim. (I still think we’ll throw in ‘gifts’ next year though for #sewtogetherforsummer) And you’re right, it is important to remind ourselves we can’t do everything all the time! Xxx

    • Jo says:

      Yes, new friends! I found so many new people on Instagram this year because I was taking part, which is a lovely feeling. I liked your approach to “prizes” on #sewtogetherforsummer. Gifts felt more inclusive than if you were being judged and it looks like a few more challenges are following your lead. Have you started planning next year yet?

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