Make Nine – Sewing in the time of quarantine

My attempt at boro

Back when 2020 was a shinning new year full of promise and potential, I joined the #makenine challenge, which is a, “gentle self-guided challenge for makers.” Here is what I have accomplished as of July.

I’m not as far along as I wanted to be by this time, despite having ample free time. I am tempted to judge myself for being unmotivated or disorganized but this is a “gentle” challenge. Instead, I will focus on what I have achieved and the lessons I have learned.

What I’ve accomplished so far:

In addition to gently accepting what I have achieved so far, despite the fact that I am not living up to my own expectations, is recognizing how interrelated my goals are and how they reflect he craziness of 2020. I want to continue to focus on gentleness in this post, so I will try to keep my observations light-hearted.

For example, my new nightgown is a reminder of the time before the lock down when it was still possible to visit the local library and borrow a physical book. Likewise, an afternoon spent in my local thrift store resulted in the purchase of a new purse. Since I only need one purse, I was going to remove the goal of “Make a New Purse” from my list.

But then we went into lockdown and I started spending too much time on the internet. I went down the rabbit hole of Visible Mending and a Japanese mending technique called boro. I could wax on about how much I love the idea of dignifying and making beautiful the rips and tears of everyday life but instead I will show you the bag I made to keep all my mending tools at hand.

I used denim scraps from a denim quilt I have been working on for years (and finally finished!). The cotton scraps are from The Stash of Doom and the stitching was completed using a very fine cotton crochet yarn from the thrift store. The pattern is Noodlhead’s Wide Open Pouch. I have used her tutorial several times and I highly recommend it. Here is what I have tucked inside:

Mending Tools

As you may have noticed, I used a few more denim scraps to make a needlebook and a sheath for my thread snips. Waste Not, Want Not!

Earlier this year, I finally found a new job that I loved. Some of the time I was interacting with the public so I wanted clothing that would be easy to care for, professional, and suitable for layering. I planned on using this goal to focus on learning to alter a pattern to fit my unique body and to use good sewing practices like finishing all my seams and actually reading the directions. Even though I have been laid off as a result of Covid-19, I have continued to work towards this goal in the hopes that I will soon get back to work.

Man oh man, did this goal have unintended consequences!

A surplus of shirts

Looking at the picture showing off my stitching prowess it would seem that I have more than meet this goal. However, this is not at all true. Let me explain.

Both peach coloured and navy print tops were made using an old Butterick pattern that I have since misplaced. Even though it was a simple pattern, I made a mock up to determine the fit. All was good. I pulled a beautiful peach silk and a cute polyester navy print from my stash. The peach silk top worked out very well and is currently hanging in my closet; the navy print, not so much. Apparently women of a certain age should only wear natural fibers or else risk perishing of heat exhaustion and dehydration within minutes of donning anything made of synthetic fibers. Oh well, at least I got one new top out of the deal. And I learned that I cannot wear synthetic fibers. Ever.

The red, brown and pink tops were made using NEWLOOK pattern 6515. I’ve had this pattern in my stash forever and I love an empire waist. I also really love the red cotton I used to make this pattern the first time – with a 32″ inch bust. What the hell! I haven’t had a 32″ bust in decades. My beautiful red top is now awaiting for the thrift stores to reopen.

I reordered NEWLOOK 6515 from an online dealer and made a muslin of View E in a larger size and tried it one. Oh it looked so good and the fit was just right! So I made the brown print top using View A. D’oh. It didn’t fit right and even worse, it made me look frumpy. It has joined it’s red sister in the donate pile.

I made the pink top out of a pretty cotton and using View E. At last, a top that I could wear! Well, it fits – just barely. I have gained a bit of weight while in quarantine and I come to the realization that I need to loose about 20 pounds. So the pink top has lead to a diet and me finally starting to ride my bike again, which means that I now need to sew clothes that I can cycle in.

Talk about unintended consequences!

I hope you enjoyed this summary of my Make Nine challenge. Let me know in the comments below how the current crisis has impacted your crafting habits. I love hearing from you.


  1. I love that boron purse! The denim scraps give it an especially evocative Japanese touch. Plus your stitching is very eye catching.
    You have given me a great idea to use some scraps from my other brother projects!!🙂
    I have 2 very old, soft linen cropped pants that are systematically wearing thin in spots…the tops of the thighs and seats bearing the brunt of age and use.
    They are so wonderfully soft and comfy, bit by bit I have been mending new spots with a progressive boron ‘mural’…
    I’m on my 3ed year!!…the artwork grows bigger and bigger….
    This summer I’ve expanded to my efforts to 2 ancient cotton nighties….
    I find ths so much more fun and challenging that invisible mending techniques.
    Ps…I’m there with you on synthetic fabrics…even blends are impossible to wear. I wonder if it’s new dyestuffs or newer chemical compounds for the fabrics…I don’t remember this level of discomfort in past years…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I will go with the the “dyestuffs” theory. It sounds so much more plausible than me becoming a Crone. After all, there is no way I could be that old! :).
      Your pants and nightgowns sound like they are becoming real works of art. I’m sure that use and age has only made them more beautiful.

      Oh wait, is there a metaphor there…
      Have an excellent day.


  2. I completely relate to two identical items made from the same pattern turning out different!!! 🙂 … It’s only been in the last three, maybe, weeks that I’ve had any inclination to work on any of my craft projects – new, or ones that have been sitting around, half-finished since February. I’m even starting to feel excited about them. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, I’m glad you are feeling excited about something. It’s funny that will all this free time stuck at home, I did not get as much done as I thought I would. I guess there is some true to the old saying, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” Good luck with your projects!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Heh, 🙂 … I think it’s more than that though when we throw Covid-19 into the mix and our grieving process around so many ethereal ‘losses’ along with the obvious ones.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you have done really well, so don’t be hard on yourself. I read something on Instagram the other day, something to the tune of that your worth is not measured by your productivity. It’s something I’ve had to take onboard for sure.

    (plus the needlebook is very cute!)


    1. Thanks Silver. I know that I should never measure my worth by my productivity but it hard. I have struggled with this my whole life. A family of workaholics well steeped in the Protestant Work Ethic has left its mark. I will soldier on, however. I guess I can now say that sitting my lazy but on the couch is a form of therapy. 🙂 Thanks for the the encouragement. I hope you have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

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