MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Jan 17, 2013

When Sewing Bloggers Jump the Shark



Friends, you're no doubt familiar with the popular term "to jump the shark" but do you know its provenance?  It's the 1970's sitcom Happy Days, and you can read more about it at your leisure here.

I use the term jump the shark today to describe those particular moments when a favorite blog -- and by extension, favorite sewing blogger -- shifts from relative normalcy to outright wackiness.  It's happening a lot these days.  And I think I know why.

With the new year come the inevitable sewing resolutions, many of them suggestive of -- if not quite neurosis, then mild-to-middling inner conflict.  Do you recognize any of these?  (No names please!)

I will only sew from my stash.

I will only sew from reclaimed fabric.

I will only sew clothes I will really wear (i.e., "cake")

I will only sew "frosting."

I will sew a dress a day (a week, an hour, etc.)

I will knit _____ pairs of socks.

There are so many more, most of which won't be remembered past March.

But the humdinger has to be our own dear Debi Fry, who has created what she calls her 1940 McCall Project.  As if Debi's life wasn't full enough (Etsy store, career, social activism, weekly vintage photo shoots in verdant Scotland), Debi has decided that over the next decade, she will attempt to sew every pattern created that year by the McCall Pattern Company (currently called McCall's).  That's right, the entire catalog from 1940.  Do you recognize the scary mix of obsession, grandiosity, and challenge in Debi?  Look in her eyes: it's all there!



Don't shoot the messenger, but let's remember that Debi never even finished her vintage sewing alphabet project, stopping somewhere around the letter S?  Debi, how about T,U,V,W,X (good luck with that one),Y and Z?



To sum up, Debi -- whom I've met myself and comes across as an exceedingly warm, intelligent, and lovely young woman -- has decided to claim an entire year for herself, sucking up the world's supply of vintage McCall's patterns faster than an Electrolux canister vacuum cleaner.  Which leaves the rest of us -- where?  Out in the cold.

Now I happen to own a very rare 1940 McCall pattern, one that Debi would no doubt like to get her greedy mitts on post-haste.  Do you think I'm going to trace it and share it with her?  Perhaps, but let's see what she offers in return first.



Now, not to be outdone by devilish Debi, I hightailed it over to Etsy last week to pick among the scattered crumbs left in Debi's wake.  And I found something fabulous.  It's not from 1940 of course -- how could it be, Debi owns them all -- so I had to settle for 1939.

Behold, charming McCall 3338!





I purchased this pattern from Genny at studioGpatterns, my new favorite Etsy store.  Genny has a ton of vintage patterns for under $15 (the vast majority, in fact) and many for much, much less.  (This Marian Martin is a personal favorite and I hope someone will scoop it up fast and remove the temptation.) 

Readers, three questions, one personal, two Debi-related:

1) Do you see the suggested materials for McCall 3338?  What does the line "Made from silk, cotton, wool, rayon, and other synthetic fibers" refer to?  All the fabrics listed above it?



2) What do you make of sewing bloggers and their often bizarre resolutions and goal-setting?  Is Debi off her rocker or merely enthusiastic?

3) Have you set a sewing resolution for 2013?  Don't be shy: share it with us.  We will not laugh.

PS - You can view Debi's 1940 McCall's pattern collection on Pinterest here.   Please put a Pinterest button on your blog, Debi!

75 comments:

  1. I am indeed off my rocker but in a good way! Hahaha! I did notice your sudden interest in 1939 McCall fashions on Pinterest :) and was thinking of swapping a pattern or two from my 1939 McCall collection (lol..much smaller than the 1940 one) for a copy of your 1940 McCall which is in the top 5 best patterns of that year!!!! What can I say? I dream big and also have the mountain climbing (obsessive? ) tendencies of a Capricorn :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (Egad, she's also into astrology...)

      Delete
    2. I am SO on board with Debi's ingenious and daring goal! But then again, I'm also the one who vowed "Only frosting!" this year. Someone had to bring some balance to the sewing blogosphere with so many people sewing only cake...

      Delete
    3. I too noticed your sudden 1939 McCall madness on Pintrest and thought perhaps you were planning to one-up Debi (one-year-previous Debi?). But you would never stoop so low as to imitate another blogger, would you?

      Delete
  2. My, what a shit-disturber you are, Peter!

    Here are my sewing resolutions: 1) Make smarter choices when it comes to fabric selection. 2) Make a pair of pants that actually fit my a**. 3) Don't sew for kids!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Suzanne, in the future, please use the word "doody."

      Delete
    2. Damn I wish this had 'like' buttons. Doody?

      Delete
    3. Apologies, Peter. I wasn't aware this was a family-friendly blog. I do like the alliterative properties of "Doody Disturber," however.

      Delete
    4. You could always go with the popular term "badonk-a-donk".

      Delete
  3. YAY! Thank you for introducing me to her site!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is this another "Julie & Julia" movie in the making?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Haha. Um. I have subscribed to most of the resolutions you have listed, with the exception of Debi's. This year is a wardrobe building year for me. Also, I have to trim down my sewing pattern stash... it's just so hard to not keep adding to it. :-(

    ReplyDelete
  6. Most sewing blogs are about what we're sewing, and I think if the work stays the main focus, it's not possible to jump the shark. However, if the blog focuses too much on the blogger's personality, it's all but inevitable. Danielle at finalfashion.ca said this about making yourself the subject of your blog: "it can turn you into a parody of yourself, quicker than you’d think." I don't think that will happen to Debi, though.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have no plan. We'll see. How's that?

    ReplyDelete
  8. This post is so funny, and Debby found it fun too, which is good!

    I am one of those who vouched to only sew from their stash in 2013.
    I've bought fabric yesterday so, that's 15 days of showing my strength of character and about the longest I have ever kept a newyear resolution !
    E.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think I'll be joining Cation Designs stash busting sew along, so in that sense I do have a resolution.

    Thank you for reminding me about Debi! I wasn't really using a feed reader when Sewweekly 2011 came to an end, so I forgot about her! (sorry Devilish Debi) So now I can add her to my reader!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Elisha! I wonder where Mena's going to take Sew Weekly this year?? I haven't seen anything recently...

      Delete
  10. My resolution is to go through every item of clothing I own to inspect for repair, rehabilition or rejection(in progress now). Feels like I a fresh new wardrobe. BTW, Debi Fry is pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My sewing resolution for the year is simply to try to finish one project at a time so that they all get completed, instead of lying around my sewing room, half finished. That's about all I can manage.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I see resolutions as more of a to-do list to help me stay focused on what I want to do.
    My sewing resolutions were pretty basic as I've been sewing for less than a year.
    1. Work on fit (specifically, make the Vogue fitting shell)
    2. Sew with fabric other than quilting cotton
    3. Learn to use my serger
    4. Don't buy fabric that's not for immediate use
    5. Make a corset (OK, this one is pretty silly, but it's something I want to do)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I don't have a sewing resolution as such but rather I've started a new thing that I'm calling Inspired. As a personal challenge I'm going to try and prove to myself that I can replicate garments I like in stores by utilising my skills and manipulating patterns I either already have or can easily source! I've already made start and hope that it will help keep me inspired. I think Debi is very brave with her commitment to sew up all 1940's McCall patterns and I lool forward to seeing her progress!

    ReplyDelete
  14. That Debi-- is there anything she can't (or won't) do?? I'd love to see both Debi and Cathy wear that amazing McCall's pattern from your stash!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is that a sewing dare?? I saw your recently twitter sewing dare string...via oonaballoona...hilarious!! :)
      http://www.oonaballoona.com/2013/01/who-gave-gillian-blog-anyway.html

      Delete
  15. I don't think sewers are wacky or crazy because they want to only sew from stash or icing or 1940's patterns. They're giving themselves a challenge or trying to make their sewing more fun & interesting by shaking it up a bit. I hope Debi makes her goal.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That's incredibly ambitious. I only went so far as "I'll make a couple of shirts this year." Nice. Non-specific. Easily attainable. Success assured. Be well. Lane

    ReplyDelete
  17. To answer your first question, I think that yes, the "made from silk, cotton, rayon, etc." does refer to the types of fabrics that are made up of those types of fiber content. Does that make sense?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I think it's worse when bloggers start shilling as opposed to sewing. My favorite blog has basically turned into a giant advertisement and I barely skim her posts now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, juicy gossip, I wonder who it is (I can't think of anyone!)

      But what you're talking about is exactly where I thought Peter was going with sewing blogs jumping the shark. I also thought of sewing/DIY bloggers who crank out tutorials for the sake of tutorials, posting them whether they're good or not. I saw one that looked terrible recently! It reminded me of a discussion I saw on the Kitchn (or however apartment therapy spells their food blog) about food bloggers knowingly posting terrible recipes just because the pictures look amazing.

      Delete
    2. I've seen it happen so much lately! Mostly with vintage clothing blogs, and of course, the aforementioned sewist. It's disappointing. I want to read about your pretty clothes and projects, not see some product a company sent you!

      Delete
  19. My stash has become overwhelming. I resolved in 2012 to sew only from my stash and not to acquire any new fabric. I also resolved at that time to sew more often, as the previous year I think I made only one thing for myself and precious little else.

    I did pretty damn well with those resolutions in 2012, so I'm bringing them with me into 2013. I had a couple of minor transgressions last year though, so I resolve this year to keep my resolutions better!

    As for Debi, will it really take her ten years to sew that catalogue? I think it's a brilliant goal, but I think she could do it one year if she's really serious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Turns out every pattern company was WAY more prolific back then...the McCall pattern catalogue for 1940 alone is about 540 patterns!!! Can you believe that? It's hard to imagine given how many patterns the big 4 pattern companies produce now....crazy, right?

      Delete
    2. 540??! I guess there was a lot of ground to cover in those days. Now, of course, there's nothing new under the sun. In all seriousness, I'm both humbled and intrigued by your ambition. In a good year I sew maybe a dozen things. I will follow the McCall 1940 project with great enthusiasm!

      Delete
  20. Ooh! Somehow I missed that Debi was doing this. I think it's really the coolest idea ever and I can't wait (but I guess I'll have to) to see how it all turns out!

    ReplyDelete
  21. it's hard for me to imagine having so much unused fabric that i could go a full year without needing to purchase any! my "stash" merely consists of leftover pieces i turn into bias tape, a pocket lining, or maybe the inside of a waistband. i think debi's goal is awesome, and even though i'm not really into vintage patterns myself, i like seeing what others do with them.

    my own sewing is rather practical these days, but i do prefer my efforts to go toward things that get worn on a regular basis instead of hanging unworn in the closet!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sort, organize and toss stuff in my sewing room that I will probably never use. That might include patterns, fabric, buttons, accessories, and other paraphenalia. 30 years in one place. I'm retiring in two years and we will be moving. It will take me that long to complete this resolution.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Peter, do you follow didyoumakethat? Karen has challenged the sewing blogosphere with resolutions for 2013 and put all who responded' resolutions into a Jar the size of the Chrysler building as there are hundreds!
    It's done wonders for me - I've actually started sewing clothe again after a year of making only crafty things for class samples. :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. The only I'm going to promise to do this year is sew and hopefully blog about it but mainly just to sew and reverse the 5 year long bout of burnout. Though sewing on the internet has changed a lot when I left it was mainly just patternreview. Sigh.

    Also am I the only one not interested in vintage? It's kinda horrible because I am sitting on some lovely ones but I have a temptation to throw them all away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing wrong with not having an interest in them, but for those of us who do please don't just throw them out. Someone would love to give them a home!

      Delete
    2. Have a giveaway if you have a blog, or maybe Peter could use them to do a giveaway. That way you're not sitting on something you won't use and someone else will be happy to have.

      Delete
    3. You could always call a college or university theater department in your area and see if they could use whatever era your patterns are. Even a high school theater department might use them.

      Delete
  25. I didn't think Debi was so crazy when she first said that about sewing everything McCall issued in 1940, but then she started posting about how prolific McCall really was in 1940, and it's plain to see she's got her work cut out for her. Even if she only gets through 10 patterns, though, it will be fun to see what gets made up. The 1940's style suit her so well.

    I don't do "new years resolutions", but I do enjoy sew-alongs, so I joined right up when I saw the 2013 Stashbusting sewalong. I've pledged to sew up 25 pieces from my stash over the course of the year, but reserved the right to keep buying fabric if it suits me to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I think the sewing resolutions, like any other resolutions adopted at the start on a new year, are almost always outlandish out of a desire to set a very high bar for oneself, so that even if you miss the bar you still feel like you've been more productive than you would have been without any set goal in mind. To use a cliche: "Shoot for the moon and you'll land among the stars." I gave up on major resolutions like that long ago, because it's much easier for me to work with short, easily accomplished lists than any grandiose plans for the near future. That being said, the only big sewing resolution that I have ever set for myself was to not buy any new fabric unless I had VERY specific plans for it, and nothing in the stash that would function. That's been one that's reasonable and easy to stick with. It doesn't ban any fabric purchases, but does require that I take a little more care in deciding which purchases are worth it and which are merely impulse buys that will sit and languish for who knows how long.

    ReplyDelete
  27. A dress an hour...ha ha ha! That's a good one! I'd like to see that contest on Sewing Pattern Review!

    ReplyDelete
  28. each to their own....

    Me myself and I have vowed to sew only from the stash this year. We'll see how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Well... Letssee... Mine were to continue organizing and get my pattern stash under control, plan less, sew more, and to sew more from my stash and buy less fabric. Reasonable, yes? Not insane? I'm getting a nephew in April so sewing from my stash of mostly girly fabric is totally unrealistic. But I need to use up more fabric instead of continuing to purchase more and grow the stash!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Ooohh don't get me started on blogs that jump the shark. My personal pet peeve is those blogs who post ludicrous digs at things just to get tons of people commenting in defence of said thing or person being 'attacked' (did you see what I did there?)

    Mind you, that Debi, TOTALLY letting us down ONLY getting to S, and did you see her during her 2011 Sew Weekly year? She only managed a piddling 55 garments in 50 weeks....I mean, I know she lost her job half way through the year and still carried on the sewing challenges, but if I don't get to read about sewists constructing a good dress an hour, well it's just not worth my paying to support the time they spend making stuff, photographing it, carefully writing and illustrating their blog posts whilst many of them, like Debi working a day job! Oh hang on, I don't pay them....they do it because they want to and aren't beholden to any audience's whims. My bad.

    I say good on the shark-jumpers! Good on those who shoot for the stars, even if they only get a metaphorical month into their space-travel. No effort is ever wasted....even if you only do a few weeks of a resolution, you still do a few weeks more than if you'd never aimed high in the first place.

    (As a total aside, I now resolve to make shark-jumpers in 2013, I'm a bit late for the Gregorian and Julian calenders' New Years so I'll take from now until Chinese New Year to plan my shark jumping shark-jumpers resolution....and whether I use 'jumpers' as the British 'sweater' or the American 'pinafore dress' or 'dungarees'. Which do you reckon sharks would suit best?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so funny. I just laughed for 5 minutes at your comment. Shark jumpers. Jumper wearing sharks. Too funny. I vote for the pinafore dress version.

      Delete
    2. Tempest, YOU ROCK! I also vote for a pinafore shark dress! That would be so much fun!

      Delete
    3. I concur, pinafore dresses, would probably be more aerodynamic for swimming.

      Delete
  31. Hello, Peter!

    Re: Q. No.1) YES! Please use one of those types of fabric (i.e. crepe) in one of the fibers listed (i.e. silk or rayon) So a silk crepe, poly crepe or a rayon crepe would all work fine.


    Re:Q No.3) K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sewer)

    I over-analyze EVERYTHING!! I mean type-A it to death!!! OMG! I didn't lengthen my stitch when I sewed the topstitching! OMG! I cut that bag out one inch smaller than I wanted too! OMG! OMG! The crazy list goes on-and-on.

    So I decided that I will Keep It Simple. Here is the rule: One look, fine. Two looks, OK, just making sure its fine. Three looks - PUT IT DOWN, ITS FINE!!

    I am quite sure that I will dramatically increase the amount of things that I sew, and also the fun I have sewing them.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I never do resolutions other than "going for a run with a hangover" which is always fulfilled the morning of Jan 1st without fail ;)
    All I am doing in 2013 is learning to make buttonholes and setting a monthly budget for sewing and sticking to it, irrespective of whether it's spent on notions, fabric or patterns.
    Everything else, as they say, is gravy.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm loving that McCall's 3640 pattern - how adorable is that!!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I think it is a brilliant idea, although it will certainly be a challenge (but I suppose that is the point)! I have toyed with the idea of knitting my way through an entire book, or making as many vintage repros as possible, but then I get distracted.

    Resolutions can be fine so long as they are not the cause of too much stress!

    And, once again, you made me laugh out loud, Peter - that "doody" comment sent me over the edge.

    P.S. Don't let Cathy guilt trip you into doing a McCall project for her!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I tend to "save" my good fabric, so I am making myself use it. I won't resolve to not buy fabric or patterns, because that would make me want to buy them. But I'm trying to spend 15 minutes a day in my lovely sewing room. Once I start sewing, I'm always happier. Just have to get in there. Bravo Debi with her 1940 plan. I like a person with big plans

    ReplyDelete
  36. Whilst I haven't set myself any bizarre sewing goals, I have committed to the Stashbusting Sewalong and won't be buying any new fabric (except for my SWAP) for the first six months. When I realised I had forgotten MOST of what I already owned and I was in danger of becoming a hoarder, I decided to actually use as much of the wonderful fabric I already have. I'm impressed with Debi's pledge and will follow her progress with interest. A side note: I have never heard the term 'jumping the shark' before. Perhaps it is an American saying?

    ReplyDelete
  37. Oh my goodness! First, you trash talk the colour taupe now this (holding McCall's 3338 hostage from Debi), you're a brat! Or should I say the L'Enfant Terrible of the Sewing Blog world?

    I have to get back to jumping the... uh, I mean my Stash Busting 2013 journey.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Great post! I do have 2 huge catalogues from c. 1930 from McCall's. Just drool over the careful line drawings. I got them for 25 cents each, at a charity shop special sale. As for resolutions, being a Type A and OCD personality, I don't want to overstress myself. Basically, I want to learn to fit much better, and realistically - I am large and curvy, and want to flatter the real me. I will use my yummy stash, share a lot with niece, Stephanie (she is free to "shop" my stash, and has borrowed my 99K). I say "scratchy" fabrics, or ones I hate, go to charity shops - where, no doubt, they are immediately snatched up. And use my yummy pattern collection, much vintage, after fitting issues dealt with. Cathie, in Quebec, who loves this blog. You go, Debi!!!!!!!! Where do you live in Scotland? My ancestors came to Canada around 1840, mostly from the north, near Inverness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I live in Edinburgh! I love visiting the highlands and hope to do that more this year! My husband's ancestors are also from up near Inverness! It's such a lovely country!

      Delete
  39. I have already started my goals for this month. My goal was to do more sewing, use up all the yarn that I have bought (not much really compared to other yarn junkies to actually make a few vintage children's clothes and to make things I need for my home. Oh, and to finish off cards I started making. So far I have knitted two baby sweaters, made a useful and pretty good knitting roll up thingy, made pot holders and that's about it.
    Then, like I have been saying for the past 3 years, I need to sort out my vintage photographs and not buy anymore. I browsed through them and realized that most of the brides from the 1920's pretty much wore the same dresses and veils and carried gigantic bouquets. No more 1920's bridal photos.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Is there anyone out there who has been sewing for any length of time who has NOT resolved to sew only from there stash? "Mostly" is okay, but "only" is no fun.
    I plan to follow Debi's project. She looks like she knows all about having fun. But I wonder how many of the 540 patterns she will be able to get hold of? What about those she does not like? And where will she wear them? Am I correct in thinking that women in Scotland still wear dresses and suits on a regular basis?

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'm another with good intentions to sew more, and only from my stash. I've made the mistake of attempting to catalogue my stash, getting lengths of fabric from their various hidey holes around the house. Have barely scratched the surface, but can confidently assert that if I make one item a week (unachievable - the day job gets in the way) I wont have to buy any more fabric for at least two years.

    But will i be merely swapping an unmanageably large fabric stash for an unmanageably large wardrobe????

    ReplyDelete
  42. "What does the line "Made from silk, cotton, wool, rayon, and other synthetic fibers" refer to?"

    I think you're referring specifically to the phrase "and OTHER synthetic fibers" ... ??

    If that's what you're wondering, the "other" is referencing the rayon, which is technically a synthetic (man-made) fabric.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I got so excited when I saw the title of your post, Peter. I imagined you would literally jump the shark. On water skis. Or maybe Cathy would, since she has such lovely beachwear.
    My 2013 shark is quilting. I am sewing a quilt this year! That is so weird. It sneaked up on me and captured my imagination.

    ReplyDelete
  44. And I meant to say how much I love Debi's idea! I adore dresses from that era. I will have to sew one, too.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hi, your blogs sounds sarcastic and hilarious:) Found you through Debbie's post. New to blogging.
    Would love people's advice/tips:)

    www.becstitches.blogspot.com.au

    look forward to seeing more of your posts

    ReplyDelete
  46. Who said "make no small plans" and Chicago was the result.
    This woman is possessed.
    My shark is boring - using up the stash to make tiny quilts for my grand-daughters doll beds ie fiddling while Rome burns.
    Did I hear that Kathy is pregnant again or is that just a rumor ?

    ReplyDelete
  47. I think once Debi gets that steely look of determination in her eye, people should leap out of her way! That woman gets things done. (And even if she doesn't complete this resolution, who cares? We'll all have had fun along the way.) It's worth teasing her, though Peter - just to make her even more determined to prove us all wrong!

    ReplyDelete
  48. LOL - this post is hilarious! I love Debi's new project, it's going to be so much fun seeing what she comes up with. However, if there are 540 1940 McCall's patterns, she is going to need massive wardrobe space! Where will you keep 540 garments?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good question :) I probably won't keep all 540 projects for me...there are a lot of children's patterns that I'll probably make up for friends and readers and then there are household patterns (including a couch cover!) that will be in other parts of the flat and that I'll probably also make up for other people! I don't think every make will be a win either...I'll be slowly getting rid of all my RTW clothes....it will be interesting to see how it goes :-)

      Delete
    2. Aah yes, well I can't wait to see how it goes!

      Delete
  49. I don't do new year's resolutions. I did, to an extent, subscribe to the "cake" and "stash" resolutions... but that was not really linked the the new year. I joined The Dreamstress's Historical Sew Fortnightly (more like two-monthly in my case, I think...), and that's about it. Mostly because, for me, a new year is not entirely a new year; I still go by schoolyears as well, and kind of start a year with the beginning of Advent, too, so a new year resolution does not quite make sense...

    I was not familiar with the expression "to jump the shark". As a student of English, I'm intrigued. As a hobby seamstress with a liking of vintage styles, I'm intrigued by Debi's project, mostly for the, let's say, archival aspects. Or maybe it's the exact opposite of archival; that part's a bit hazy in my mind.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Toile Jeans! I am absolutely completely in L-O-V-E and awe of yours Peter. First I gotta finish the pair of dress slacks that have been haunting me for the past 8 months. Thank GAUD for Lexapro!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Sweet seam tape, that 3640 is a beauty! Jealous :-D

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails