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Jan 2, 2011

Where do we go from here?

Friends, there's always that first week of a new year when I'm thinking, OK -- What do I want to get done in YEAR X.  Then the urge to plan wears off and it's back to day-to-day blog writing, dog walking, and intermittent vacuuming.

I'm not much of a planner. The way I look at it, you never know what life may throw your way so it's always wiser to stay nimble and go with the flow.  Wasn't it Robert Burns who said, "The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go oft awry."?  Or was that George Burns?

I didn't start 2009 with any intention to learn how to sew, nor 2010 with any plan to blog.  So what would be the point of saying, In 2011 I'm going to ________?

You're probably thinking, well, everybody has a plan of some sort and Peter is just not revealing his to us.  But I swear, I don't.  Actually, if you have plan -- for yourself or for me -- maybe you can share it with us here.

It's inevitable, since we do divide up time and live according to regular cycles, that we're going to reflect a bit this time of year and think about what's next.

I know there are a few things I would like not to do in 2011.  Maybe expressing them publicly will steel my resolve.  Or not.  Anyway, for what it's worth....

1.  No new sewing machines.   Or old sewing machines.  I was very good with the sewing machines last year.   Besides a serger, which I did need and use constantly, I purchased only four sewing machines (my Singer 15-91, 15-90, and 66 treadle, and my Pfaff 30) in 2010.  I received a fifth as a gift and found the sixth in the street.  But I sold eight (including the last two).  So I'm definitely moving in the right direction.

2.  No more luggage.  Somehow I have ended up with three (still) smelly pieces of American Tourister luggage and two Samsonite vanity cases and I'm not even particularly vain.  I got carried away, which is what somebody should do with these.

3.  No more piles.  I am pretty good about cleaning up after each project -- I have to be since I sew in the living room -- but things still tend to accumulate in corners.  I just put away a stack of self-drafted patterns I'd created in (eek) May, and only because we discarded the table it had been sitting on.  Maybe furniture disposal is the secret.

I also really need to edit Cathy's shoe and hat collection.  Half the shoes don't fit and she rarely wears a pair more than once anyway.  Once those shoots are over, she's back to her Dr. Scholl's exercise sandals.

Readers, have I forgotten anything? 

There are still a bunch of things I want to sell on Craigslist -- dishes, phones, a bike, a lamp -- but these can also go to a thrift store in the worst case.  Michael hates that bike, which I haven't ridden in four years.

Sometimes the Craigslist thing can be more trouble than it's worth, though, and you really just want the stuff out.

What do you do with an old coin collection?  I haven't collected coins since the Seventies but I don't know how to get rid of countless rolls of uncirculated pennies, proof sets, et al. that are sitting in a big plastic Rubbermaid box at the bottom of my closet.  (I hope that's not an invitation to burglary -- they're not particularly valuable -- though that might solve the problem.)

Meanwhile I am still toying with shirt ideas.  I was originally going to make a Western style shirt with my plaid flannel but am now leaning toward something more traditional, or maybe a princess seam version, we'll see.  Plaid is already busy enough without all those bias yokes and button plackets.

I made this the October before last and it gives me a headache.

Resolute readers, in closing, do you have goals for the new year?  Anything you're determined to accomplish come hell or high water?  How about an I will not --list?  What are you determined not to do in 2011?

Tell us all and perhaps we can not do it together.

Jump in!


  1. Put the coins on Etsy. They'll go eventually. Or shove them in a box and leave it on a corner three streets over. It's not littering, someone will pick them up.

    They might even use the mint pennies to buy some medication. It's a good deed you'd do.

    I'm a planner, though I believe in planning hard but still leaving myself open to the fates. It works for me.

  2. If it's useful, by the way, I discovered princess seams for manly garments used to be called "Viennese Seams" way back in the day. Regency, I think. Nice shirts, I always think I want to make something like that, then the thought of matching so much plaid makes me want to hide.

  3. I agree with Steph about putting the coins on Ebay. Tag them as 'vintage' and some people will go nuts...

    I have an 'I will not' list too! The main one is to cease feeding my burgeoning fabric stash with any more material. I also need to stop making full-skirted dresses that I never end up wearing - making simple shirts just isn't as fun though...

  4. Peter, I think 2011 is the year of the faux python. You need to get it out of your system. If worst comes to worst you can always make tissue box covers with it LOL.

    For me PLAN is a four letter word. Which explains why I never got any sewing done last year hehe.

  5. I rocket back and forth between needing to have a plan and just wanting to go where the wind blows in terms of sewing. I guess I`m just an anal retentive free spirit!

    I think you should try something in faux fur. I don`t know why but it just seems like you would totally rock the faux fur!

  6. OMG, I totally forgot to mention faux fur -- I really want to try that. Uh oh, the wind is blowing... ;)

  7. The latest issue of Threads has an article on "slow sewing" I haven't read it yet, but it appears to stress the joys of doing more detail and taking more time. I have 3 speed limits on my machine and I think that I should lock in the slowest, and try to be more patient when I sew. I hand pieced a quilt top and that was nicely paced and kind of relaxing, not to mention protable. Perhaps there is a hint there for me.

  8. I'd put the coins on Ebay as a lot, with a traditional auction. That way, collectors will determine the price and you can just charge shipping and send them off.

    For me, I'd like to get a lot better at some of the finer, simpler points in sewing. Like maybe get really really good at sewing with knits, or making welt pockets, or putting in zippers. I'm still mulling over my goals for 2011, as 2010 was such a horrible year for me I don't want to screw up another like that!

  9. Find a reputable coin and metals dealer for your coins. If you know nothing about the value or non-value of your coinage, you absolutely need to have them evaluated by a professional before you decide to just hork them onto the street corner or ebay or whatever.

  10. First thing, it's Steinbeck in of Mice and Men. Plans? I like them to a degree. I don't want to feel like a failure if I don't finish and after all we are not talking work but hobby here. Sewing is supposed to be fun and if it makes me stressed than it's not worth it.
    I am toying with the 12 jackets in 12 months thing that is floating around. I am in a rut; knit tops and pants. I need some more challenging sewing and Thread's slow sewing strikes a cord. I get anxious just looking at the number of garments people post as their end of year totals. I am not counting. I sew what I sew. That said, I am planning to make a leather jacket and I am working on my coat. I will make my trenchcoat that I've had planned for at least 3 years. So, I do have some plans and they are of the possible sort.

  11. I just started to sew garments this year after years of sewing simple accessories like pillows and drapes. When I was a kid I made my Barbie clothes. Now I have a daughter, it's like sewing for my own little doll again!

    But this year I want to continue to improve my skillds and try to get into adult clothing a bit. This dramatically changes how I will be buying fabric (for my kid I love playing with whimsical cotton prints) and I'm kind of excited about that. Hey -- I have so much fabric, but not really fashion fabric. It's a whole new excuse to shop!

    ......and I kind of want to make a pair of leopard pants. ;-)
    Happy New Year!

  12. Hi, Peter! The quote is most often ascribed to Burns, and it appears in many permutations across the literary spectrum. As for plans, I like to head in a general direction, and be open to side trips when the opportunity arises.

    Happy New Year!

  13. I haven't sat down to develop a plan per se... but I know there are things I want to accomplish in 2011.

    For one thing, I want to lose some weight. I know that is so cliche' but that is where I find myself... needing to lose weight. Let's just say I'm tired of carrying around a Third Grade kid with me everywhere I go.

    I would like to organize my sewing stuff so that I can use it. I have a small fortune invested in machines, tools, fabric, patterns, and notions and they all sit there unused because I just haven't felt the desire to organize them. I have a great tolerance for clutter and that isn't acceptable to my better half. Consequently, it's still organized in the boxes they moved in...

    I would like to sew more regularly and complete projects. That is one reason I am attracted to MPB. I hope to be inspired to sew more frequently and follow Peter's example of completing projects.

    I want to develop a bit more focus in my life. I have so many interests that I do not really accomplish much. The problem is choosing which interest(s) to pursue... There isn't enough time to do it all. Perhaps if I were independently wealthy I would have enough time but that is unfortunately not the case.

    I would like to give a little more of myself in life in general. Some people have kind, generous souls and others do not. I would like to be more kind and generous.

    And lastly, I want to end 2011 feeling like I accomplished something positive. Rather than surviving another 365 revolutions of the planet, I would like to be able to look back on the year and say, 'I accomplished this, and this, and this, and oh yeah, this thing too!'

    At least those are the things I would like to accomplish in 2011... Perhaps if I had a plan?

  14. It's from a poem called "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns

    He ploughed up her nest with winter coming on, and feels for her.

    Me, right now I'm just scrabbling day to day. I need to dedecorate the tree and get it out of the house today, and go take the recycling to the center and the garbage to the dump.

  15. First I need to reorganize and then declutter my sewing space. Then, as others have mentioned, I need to learn finer skills. But, most of all I need to find a good pants pattern for me. This is so elusive.

    Happy 2011!

  16. Peter, I saw a dog bed made from vintage suitcase and immediately thought of you.

  17. I'm going to not worry about everything so much.

    And sewing... make more and buy less.

  18. My one sewing goal this year is to... wait for it... make MYSELF some new clothes this year. I need some new clothes badly but I spend so much time making stuff for the kids that I ignore the fact that I need some myself.

  19. Not many people could rock those cheetah pants, but you do!

    I don't really believe in resolutions either. As far as sewing goes, that's the fastest way to quash my mojo. It needs to be fun, it needs to be loose. It is my hobby, after all!

    Happy New Year, Peter

  20. I don't make promises at the start of a year... too much stress.

    As far as the smell in the suitcases...I found a recipe that worked well to get rid of cat urine smell when one sick cat kept peeing on the carpeted stairs. One tsp lemon juice and one tsp (teaspoon)baking soda in one cup hot water, mix well, stick in a spray bottle. Just spray it and if you can let item air out. Good luck with the smell and your will not do list.

  21. I don't like to make New Years resolutions either. I hope that I am in a state of awareness all year long and I adjust my course as needed.
    Lately, I am fascinated with fitting other people, so I am doing a lot of pattern work. It's even more fun than sewing for myself at the moment, so that's what I am doing. How ironic- I got a pang of guilt when I dropped my own sewing project to draft a pattern for someone because she emailed me with pictures and I wanted to test my knowledge.
    I realized, that is dumb! Do the fun thing, silly!

  22. "We don’t know what life will bring, so it is what we bring to life that matters." ~unknown

    Wishing you a happy, healthy, contented new year, Peter. You of all people, bring this quote to life!

  23. I'm trying to get rid of extraneous stuff, too. Though I'm not constrained by a little (but awesomely urban) apartment, I like my house be very neat and clutter free. It's impossible when it's full of stuff I never use. That's my constant battle - we have our ups and downs. So, the New Year has me resolving to do better with that.

    Sewing-related, I WILL sew a shirt for my husband and keep sewing from my stash of fabric without setting a total moratorium on purchasing.

    I've enjoyed reading your blog this year and look forward to your next adventure. :-)

  24. I'm not good with planning/goals - one of the things I would like to work on this year.

    I want to sew more than 2010; I made 1 top - yep that's it! I need a new wardrobe, for work and causal but the $$ is tight. Good thing I have a stash!

    De-cluttering is needed - nothing like having two parents scaling down due to their spouses death to prompt you to reevaluate the amount of "stuff" you have.

    Happy New Year!

  25. I will not make sewing plans for months ahead, a few weeks is all I can manage and even those plans often go up in smoke (= work).

    Happy new year Peter, I'm enjoying your posts very much.

  26. You found a sewing machine IN THE STREET? The most I've ever found in the street was $5 and a half-eated burrito.

  27. Oh! This is the quote you're looking for, Peter--

    "But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
    Gang aft a-gley,
    An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
    For promis’d joy."
    --Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”

    I was an English major in school....

  28. Plans for the new year, oh so many. Eat less, exercise more, watch less TV, take 20 photos a day, sew more, clean more, declutter, read more. Sounds like a lot, but if I reduce the amount of TV, the rest should be manageable. Oh and of course the most important, read Male Pattern Boldness daily. Happy New Year Peter, and thank you for entertaining me every day.

  29. I'm looking at a stack of fabric right now, trying to decide what to make first! I baled on making anything around Christmas for myself or as gifts, so now my creative juices are flowing once again.
    I never do new years resolutions!

  30. I've just spent the last few weeks going through boxes & boxes of clutter that I've been hauling with me wherever I go since (some of it) 1991! how ridiculous to keep stuff for so long & not even remember what I had? And boy have I been brutal! (Saint Vinnies did rather well out of me this year)
    So my first motto for this year is to not accumulate any more crap! easier said than done.
    this translates to 'don't start any new hobbies that I will invariably become addicted to & want to buy every fandangled gadget that is associated with it'. as I said, easier said than done.
    note I have excluded my 72 tea chests worth of fabric in the said clean out, so my 2nd motto for the year is to try & make a dent in the stash & get some of it sewn, instead of my usual - admiring it & deciding not to cut into it cos its 'too nice'. again, easier said than done.
    Which if course is related to motto no 3, don't buy any more fabric. As if I'm going to manage to stick to that one - ha!
    last but not least, I'm thinking of another major residential move. When I moved 2000km in 1989 to the other side of Australia, little did I know that would be the beginning of a period of major moves (including 3 overseas jaunts) up until the end of 2000, where I didn't stay in one place for longer than 2 1/2 years, some of them for as little as 10 months.
    Now, having been in Brisbane for the last 10 years, I'm bored & have itchy feet. So my decluttering has been in potential preparation for another huge move, probably only 1000km this time (Canberra), if I can just swing myself a job. (by the way, the new BF has absolutely NOTHING to do with this choice, no really!)
    So anyway, I'm not a planner per se, nor am I into new year resloutions, although it kinda does sound like I am. Lets just see how we go at keeping myself decluttered eh?
    I still love those pants by the way, I'm glad to see you are taking every opportunity to wear them with pride! I agree with the other comments, get your coin collection looked at by someone in the know... that may help you decide what to do with them....
    Happy New Year Peter!

  31. Happy New Year, Peter. I LOVE having plans!
    1. For starters, how about buying a cheap camera and kick starting my own pathetic languishing blog.

    2. Japanese coat #3. A short trench coat in olive green twill.

    3. Make a sport coat for my niece's wedding in June. I have a vintage 80's pattern with instructions in ENGLISH!

    4. Sew an entire steampunk wardrobe for myself to go with the amazing cufflinks and brooch that my daughter sent for Christmas.

    I think that's about enough. Oh..... Keep up with your blog, which amazes and inspires me. Cheers!

  32. Thanks for the New Year's greetings, guys!

    Mazzy -- first question: how big is a tea chest?!

    Duane -- I totally see you in steampunk. When are you coming to NYC?

  33. Peter, a tea chest is one of those standard large boxes you get from removalists (they normally have 3 kind of boxes, 1. wardrobe boxes, which are huge, 2. book boxes which are the smallest size, & 3. tea chests which are in between the 2) - so yes I have a lot of fabric

  34. My ongoing goal: Do NOT buy more patterns for a buck, just because there is a sale. Unless I really really want and need them.

    Etsy is cool and everything, but you live in NYC - I'm sure there are several dozen coin shops who will take that box off your hands, one trip, no shipping.

    I am also hoping to move this year, so that's my primary focus. My new goals: Order, peace and simplicity! I'm going to aim for Shaker in the hopes of hitting just south of Scrubby Dutch. That will involve a lot of Nots.

    Also, I will NOT make resolutions for other people. Not that I was ever tempted, myself, but yesterday I heard two. One person wanted to cut Justin Bieber's hair, and the other vowed to have his children learn Chinese. "Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone..."

  35. Having just put 9 tons of goods, comprising the contents of my sewing room together with my book & magazine collection into a storage unit in anticipation of putting my house up for sale, I believe I am well-qualified to say if it makes you happy and you use it, keep it. That said, I have tossed or donated all my fabric scraps, kids fabrics, cheap fabrics and shelter mags devoted to the homes of the uber wealthy. I believe I could have gotten rid of a lot more if I had not had to act so quickly. Perhaps before the 9 tons goes into an 18 wheeler to its final destination, I can toss a bit more. I was able to sort, load and label all my fabrics into about 60 plastic bins from Target, so they are organized to the hilt; which will make it very easy on the other end, since they will not even have to be removed from their bins, simply placed on shelves. My pattern collection stayed in the commercial pattern drawers.

    Antique dealers bury items in kitty litter to get rid of smells. It could be worth a shot with the luggage.

  36. Regarding the coin collection, I'd sell the proof sets (or anything else that's of particular interest to a coin collector), but as for rolls of uncirculated coins - those I'd most likely take to the bank and deposit them in my account. Most likely billions of them were minted, and you'd need to keep them for many years before they are worth much more than face value. In other words - how much more would you need to get for them to make up for your time and energy to get them sold? And even for the proof sets, are they anything like the other "investment collectibles" that people have gotten in a frenzy over like plates and beany babies? Items sold as investments, but now worth nothing. I have no issue with people who bought them because they genuinely like them - I have a couple items myself. I'm not a coin collector, so I have no idea how the market is for them, I'm just asking.


  37. I've been slow-sewing for years. It started out unintentionally, then after a while I realized that I really didn't want to sew fast.

    I love resolutions. New Year's is my favorite holiday. But I keep my resolutions very broad and general, and I fully expect some of them to fall by the wayside as the year progresses.

    My only plan for sewing this year, is to spend more time with it than I did last year.

    I like your idea of planning what you're not-doing. I might give that some thought and add some not-do's to my list.

  38. This is late I know (catching up on post-holiday blog reading, which definitely helped ease the back-from-holiday-blues!) but I'm so with you on the Craigslist/Goodwill internal debate. You want the stuff out, you don't want to list and wait and risk the sale falling through, but then... the reluctance to get rid of stuff that you know could be used by someone else and that you paid good money for.

    Also - I have to subscribe to the no more piles pledge too. My sewing area is a wreck of past projects... poor form.

    Good luck with your plan!


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