What I wore Wednesday to Sunday + a sensitive topic

- Life of Johanna, outfit

Last week was a wonderfully warm week, so lots of chances to wear all the summer clothes I’ve made over the years. So let’s take a look at what me-made outfits I wore this past week.

 

Wednesday

For a regular day at the office, I wore my shirt dress from Burdastyle. I’m lucky to work at a place where the dress code is pretty lax, so when it is summer, I can actually wear summer clothes! I’m very fond of this dress and especially like the placket and the pockets.

 

Thursday

On Thursday morning I got an early call that the local news wanted to film for an interview at 10 AM. I’m normally not a spokesperson for my day job, I do work in communication, but mostly behind the scenes, though this time I had to chime in.

So I picked an outfit that I felt comfortable and confident in, which is a Burdastyle button front skirt and blouse. It was an interesting experience being interviewed for tv, you clearly can’t be too short and concise, one basically only has like 20-30 seconds to get all the points across, which was hard.

I worked as a journalist for over a decade and then switched to communications for non-profit organisations, which I’ve done for the last 4+ years. So I’m usually the one doing the interviewing and not the other way around!’

 

Friday

I was feeling festive since we managed to bring a huge project to fruition at my day job, so I dressed up wearing the Parfait dress from Colette patterns, it is from 2009 and still going strong. I and my colleague celebrated our successes by eating frozen yoghurt at the mall and then she took this outfit photo of me. It was a nice day for sure!

 

Saturday

Selfie at the gym. I was wearing my latest activewear makes; capri leggings and a top with an open back. I love this outfit so much if I can say so myself! I did an upper body workout, which I try to do two times a week to keep my back and shoulders pain-free.

 

Sunday and my thoughts on working for free

Another day, another summer dress. This dress is literally 13 years old and has held up beautifully, which is amazing. I’m about to hit the coffee shop to do some blog writing for the upcoming week. Every weekend I work on my sewing content, and sometimes I wonder if I work too much?

Reducing the hours at my day job is not an option currently, however. Maybe if I had like tons of sewing products such as books, patterns etc, then perhaps I could?

But unfortunately, the sewing world is still a lot ”getting paid in patterns and fabrics” for extensive, time-consuming, marketing work for fairly large companies, which I’m not interested in. That said, I’m not against doing sponsored content for companies, in fact, I would love to do a cool, creative collaboration with a company I respect. But only if it’s a proper business transaction where the marketing laws and policies are being respected.

Stating our worth

I don’t think we should do free work for companies that clearly has a marketing budget to spend. So we need to start adding a value to what we contribute to these companies. Remember that companies pay good money for advertising, so how come they can get away with paying bloggers next to nothing for the same type of exposure?

So why then is the sewing world is still so much a “work for free” culture? I suspect it’s because sewing is a combination two undervalued things, women’s work and handmade crafts.

Anyways, that was my week in me-made clothes. This week is my final before the summer holiday, I can’t wait! Hope the warm weather continues so that I can keep wearing my summer clothes. But since I live in Sweden, it can feel like winter on some summer days!

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Ellen
    July 3, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I love that you are still wearing clothes you made a while back. One, it’s ecologically responsible, and two, I’m impressed that they fit. Probably all the exercise 😏.. Too many bloggers are always posting new makes, and it seems wasteful. I agree that sewing is still somewhat undervalued because it is seen as woman’s work.

    • Reply
      Johanna
      July 3, 2018 at 6:49 pm

      Yes, being able to wear makes for many years means a lot to me. I put so much effort into each makes that every time they break it’s a grieving process. I’ve learned to invest in better fabrics and also I don’t sew many “trendy” things, focusing on what is truly my style. My hope is that together we can raise awareness to make sure that sewing is given more value.

  • Reply
    Sheri Karanasos
    July 3, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    I just love the clothes you make! I usually sew for the children because nothing seems to fit me very well. But that is changing. Your blue dress is sooo cute!! I am just about ready to purchase your book. I usually don’t like PDF’s. I want something in my hand that I can also pass down to my daughters. If they borrow them I don’t ever see them again. I think the price of fabrics has stopped me for a couple of projects. And patterns? I always buy them on sale. What I do is buy something rather generic and make my own adjustments and creativity, or cut up a favorite pair of shorts, etc and make my own pattern. People don’t think about sewing until they need something repaired or hemmed. I see it all the time on our neighborhood chats. I have 3 pairs of pants at this time to hem for my ex-husbands wife. What I found, follow your heart and passion and you will be amazed what happens! I really appreciate all you do for all of us in the sewing world!

    • Reply
      Esther Mozo
      July 4, 2018 at 6:51 am

      Did I read that right? You’re hemming three pairs of pants owned by your husband’s ex wife??!! Please refuse!

    • Reply
      Johanna
      July 4, 2018 at 8:40 am

      Thank you! Yes sewing can quickly become a pricey hobby and it can be a hard to navigate that when our budgets are tight. As for the undervaluing of crafts, perhaps we need to bring more focus to it in schools again? Maybe that could help people understand and respect the work and also being able to do it themselves, rather than having someone else do it on the cheap or free?

  • Reply
    Sew Old Fashioned
    July 4, 2018 at 2:47 am

    Thank-you for sharing thoughts on making money through sewing. I think you are right in that it is somewhat under-valued and a lot of people (non-sewing people, obviously!) think we’re all just doing this for fun or as a bit of a hobby. If I might share a little story of my own… Earlier this year, I realised I was spending more time on my sewing channel than on trying to earn money and I naturally wondered if I should combine the two and try to earn money from sewing. My immediate reaction was NO! It seems I want to keep my sewing separate from any attempt to monetise it and I think one of those reasons was a suspicion that there wouldn’t be much money in it anyway. In turn, that would probably detract from my enjoyment in sewing and it just wasn’t worth it.

    It’s always good to break the silence on topics like this and I am glad you spoke your thoughts.

    • Reply
      Johanna
      July 4, 2018 at 9:27 am

      Agree, there are many avenues that are better to pursue than sewing if making money is the goal. And we have to decide if it’s worth it. But companies profiting from the free culture of sewing is something I would like to see change. So that the value exchange is honoured.

  • Reply
    Esther Mozo
    July 4, 2018 at 7:18 am

    Hi, Johanna! Where I am from — Manila, Philippines — sewing isn’t necessarily regarded as the exclusive domain of women. It’s true, there are a lot of dressmakers (women) here, but there are also a lot of tailors (men). As a third world country, the Philippines considers sewing as an occupation and few consider it a hobby. Anyone can easily have custom-made clothes done here, especially in small neighborhoods. Sewing is taught early on in elementary school, and also as a vocational course later in order to provide people with a means of earning a livelihood even if they don’t go to college. There are also couture and fashion courses in college, and their graduates produce excellent couturiers charging high-end prices.

    Sewing is a hobby for a person like me because I don’t need it to earn a living, and actually, it costs more to make my own clothes than to buy them. I have to admit that it is an expensive hobby, especially since I source my fabrics from other countries. People usually ask me why I bother to sew clothes when it’s easier to have someone else make them or to just buy RTW. I guess the satisfaction of making my own outweighs the cost and convenience of simply buying it, whether it’s clothes, bread or jam. We feel proud that we designed our own clothes, satisfied that we made them with our own hands, and we are happy to wear them! Whenever I wear a me-made garment, I still remember what I was feeling and going through when I made it.

    Thank you for keeping up your blog and videos. You always inspire me to continue sewing and making. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on our common hobby. Cheers!

    • Reply
      Johanna
      July 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you so much for your perspective, this is one of the reasons I love the sewing community, that we are truly an international crowd and have different experiences. Regarding sewing as a hobby instead of a necessary skill is definitely a result of changing economics. So would you say that sewing skills have a higher status in the Philippines compared to say Europe? Sweden too used to be a big producer of garments, but it was more split up here, with women working in the sewing factories and men in the hardware industries.

      And I agree, making me-made garments is a form of self-expression and also about developing a skill that gives us a lot of joy, so the perspective of why we sew can definitely vary.

  • Reply
    K
    July 4, 2018 at 8:03 am

    Sewing is a work for free culture because personal blogging is a work for free culture.

    • Reply
      Johanna
      July 4, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      Yes, that has been the case, but it has changed A LOT in the last few years. Especially when it comes to working with sponsors, now a lot of bloggers make more ad revenue than traditional media (and rightly so). But I feel that sewing has become one of those areas where companies still don’t feel a need to pay bloggers for marketing.

  • Reply
    Angela Coceancig
    July 4, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Most (if not all) creative occupations have this “work for free and get exposure mentality”. Until everyone unites and says “no I won’t work for free, I will work for what I am worth” then there will always be someone who undervalues what they do, to the detriment of the community as a whole.

    • Reply
      Johanna
      July 4, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      Totally, and that is what I would like to see change. And the only way to change that is that if more people get together and speak up. Because no one can change that on their own!

  • Reply
    Libby
    July 9, 2018 at 1:46 am

    I see so many bloggers and vloggers promote fabric stores and pattern companies because they were simply given a pattern or $15 of fabric and asked to do so! Many hours and a surely a certain amount of expense later they have made a garment and THEN they are taking even more time to write or film and edit their review just so it can be presented to a perfectly curated audience that that very blogger has cultivated themselves. I can understand that trying to make a living on the internet on your own is pretty uncharted territory and the lure of being sought out as a spokesperson would feel a step closer to feeling one had “made it”, but shame on these companies for exploiting these people. And quite often they are really awkward to watch. So disingenuous.
    I think everybody who sews should start a tiny business, even if they have no intention of making any money. That way, whenever someone ask them to “test my pattern” or “hem my pants” they can simply hand over a business card and say “I’d be happy to. My rate for custom sewing and alterations is $40 per hour.” Feel your worth, insist upon your worth and the rest of the world will see you that way, too. You need to start this revolution, Johanna!

    • Reply
      Johanna
      July 9, 2018 at 8:08 am

      I couldn’t agree more with what you say. I too feel like these companies are prying on our need for validation and to be seen, and then we ask for so little in return for all the hard work. It is not healthy to undervalue what we do and it needs to be changed. No one should be grateful for doing free marketing for companies that clearly have the money to spend on paid marketing. I like your idea of treating it like a business. I think that is the only way of moving forward and to raise the value of sewing for those who do not understand!

  • Reply
    Tamara
    July 10, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Johanna,
    I just got your book (plus 2 others) because I love sewing my own clothing — it actually fits! — but need to expand my knowledge base. I am teaching both of my kids to sew, more because I think we all need to be able to DO things rather than pay others to do them for us. Doing equals independence.
    Enjoy your summer holiday. Sweden… my husband just finished a 2 week work trip there. He’s got to return in late September or October. Says it’s beautiful. But, yes, enjoy your holiday, your sewing love, and everything else that you can. Thank you for creating a book on active wear. I’m looking forward to learning from it.

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