My 2021 Sewing Challenge: Skipped, Rejected, and Came Out Feeling Good

My 2021 Sewing Challenge: Skipped, Rejected, and Came Out Feeling Good

Going into this year I was feeling pretty burnt out with all of my sewing from the previous year so I decided to take each week as it came without looking ahead. I planned to not stress out about the challenges and didn’t even attempt to keep track of what each week requested. Instead, if I sewed anything I entered it regardless of whether it matched the challenge topic or not. Heck many times I decided whether it was accepted or rejected while filling out the Google form to submit it. Many weeks I didn’t sew anything. As I didn’t worry about doing each week I also ignored the quarterly make up posts which made it simpler as I didn’t need to save or plan for any extra sews. As such I have way less entries than previous years but I think I came out of this year feeling better as I was able to balance my sewing wants with blogging, coding, family, and other things that came up this year. This more relaxed plan in addition with Ada returning to in person school and Zoey starting kindergarten gave me so much more time the second half of the year. All that said here are my sews for 2021!

Pinterest geared image showing my post's title, main main URL, and a collage of all 30 challenges I submitted one or more sews for.

I’m so glad that this sewing challenge, found here on their Facebook page, was created as it greatly expanded my sewing horizons. I first heard about it before it even started that first year, in 2018, and loved finding my footing balancing the sewing challenges with my own projects. That said it was a bit stressful as I tried to accept all the challenges and worried about missing a week. Thus, for the next year 2019, I attempted to submit something each week but gave myself the permission to reject any and all challenges as needed. This made it more fun and I was able to actually sew something each week. By the end of that year I was mostly recovered and decided to grab 2020 with both hands and thus attempted to sew something for each challenge. I even went through my paper planner before the year began and wrote out each challenge and one or more possible submissions I could use making it easier on me to follow along as I went. Looking back I even worried about whether I could keep this up if and when I went on a vacation. Boy did the year go differently. That year made me especially glad I found the sewing challenge as it gave me something consistent to focus on each week and I’m so glad I had my sewing community to keep me company. I actually managed to sew an accepted challenge each and every week. The one pro to the year? That said, by the end of that year I was burnt out on sewing; yet, I also didn’t want to drop the challenge as it was a big part of my life in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Thus this year I decided to screw the challenges. I didn’t write any of them down! I didn’t even look ahead at the next week or even that current week. Instead if I sewed I submitted it. If I didn’t sew that’s fine too. This actually made me lose track of the weeks so I really appreciated the routine I had set up the previous years as I could look at my Notes or my 52 Weeks Photo Album to see what and when I submitted sews for. The Google Form email was also really helpful. I even started a weekly reminder on my phone to check if I had sewn and if so it reminded me to submit. This made the year so much less stressful and I may do the same next year too.

Without further ado here are all my submitted challenges from this year!

Week 1 – January 4th, 2021 to 10th

Organize Your Sewing Space – Accepted

Image shows a collage of five images and the text saying "week 1". In it is a messy fabric strewn closet, left, with the top two images on the right showing the final organized closet. The bottom two images on the right shows the pile of yardage I serged (right) and me serging it on the left.

Organize Your Sewing Space is my absolute favorite challenge category as even if my sewing area was completely cleaned up (almost never) there’s always something I could organize, streamline, or change. This time around I went through my closet and organized the fabric enough to be able to put most of it back in a bin. I also returned all of the sewing patterns I had used over Christmas break back to their folders and made new folders for all the new ones I had recently tried out. I also grabbed some fabric I bought years ago and serged the ends so I could prewash it without the it unraveling. Other than the odd remnant it was the only fabric I have in my stash that hadn’t been pre-washed.

Week 2 – January 11th to 17th

Sew a WIP (work in progress) or UFO (unfinished object) – Accepted

Image shows a heart shaped photo on a white background with the words "week two" along the bottom in orange. The image shows four horizontally pleated face masks.

I didn’t have any works in progress that I wanted to work on and so I needed to plan ahead with this challenge to accept it. I started making four Iris Luckhaus face masks the previous week and was thus able to finish them and accept the challenge this week.

Week 3 – January 18th to 24th

Make a pattern you already own but have never sewn – Rejected

Images is a collage of four views of the same foldable shopping bag. The text, saying "week 3", is in teal along with the curved dividers between the photos.

I was pattern testing this week making a foldable shopping bag for Rebecca Page and thus didn’t use a pattern I already owned.

Week 4 – January 25th to 31st

Sew Something for Your Feet or Head – Rejected

Image shows the text "week 4" in pink with five images. The main large one, top left, shows a pink and orange flowered shirt with two longer flowered dresses in a different fabric. The other four images (two to the right and two below) show me wearing the flowered top.

I was, again, pattern testing for Rebecca Page this week and made a shirt length T-Shirt Dress for myself and a tunic length one for my girls.

Week 5 – February 1st to 7th

Sew Something for Storage – Accepted

Image shows two photos one above the other. The top is the ripped garments while below they're fixed and folded into piles. The words "week 5" are along the top and there are two white arrows pointing down from the top.

Over the last while I had accumulated several pairs of pants with holes along with a ripped Zoey nightgown and a workout top for me. These were piled up behind my sewing machine and driving me crazy so I figured rather than sewing something to store them in I’d fix the holes (sew something) and gain back my space as we can now store them with the rest of our clothing… so I guess accepted as technically it removed items from storage!

Week 9 – March 1st to 7th

Sew Something Timeless and/or Classic – Rejected

Image shows three items spread out on the floor including a pillow case, a dress, and some pants.

I took my first break from sewing and, in the meanwhile, accumulated more clothing that needed patching. I used a quick zigzag stitch on the items after supper on Sunday and managed to submit the sewing project right before the challenge week was closed. I guess a pillowcase is timeless but I won’t try to stretch it out and decided to go with rejected this time around.

Week 10 – March 8th to 14th

Sew a bag – Rejected

Image shows a collage of four images with two larger and two smaller with an angled divider between. Three of the images are modeled and one is a flat lay. There's white text saying "week 10".

Tested out the shapewear pattern from Rebecca Page patterns this week.

Week 16 – April 19th to April 25th

Make Something inspired by a Character – Accepted

Collage uses the same layout as the previous photo. The top two images shows the seam ripped dress (on right) and final skirt (left) while the bottom two images show the pants. The text says "week 16".

Looking back I know this sewing project was in the works for awhile but I can’t remember if the sewing challenge made me start it or if it was just happenstance. That said I took my daughter’s too small peppermint swirl dress, removed the bodice, and used the Captain Marvel logo to hide the slit from the dress’s opening. Overall a skirt inspired by a character! If you’re interested in taking your own dress and changing it into a skirt I shared how I did it here. I also sewed up a pair of pants for her and marked it with a W to go with the theme.

Week 17 – April 26th to May 2nd

Sew a Wardrobe Staple – Accepted

Image shows a plain black tee laid out on the floor with the words, in white, laid overtop saying "week 17".

Since I only have girls my husband, Matt, normally ends up with a new shirt whenever the challenge is Sew something for a man or boy. This year I’ve allowed myself to skip weeks and reject challenges so I wasn’t sure if he’d get one… here’s your shirt Matt. A plain black tee which is definitely a wardrobe staple.

Week 19 – May 10th to May 16th

Face Your Sewing Fears – Rejected

Collage shows three images with angled lines separating them. The left one shows a rainbow nightgown with stitching along the seam keeping it together longer. The two right ones show the front (top) and back (bottom) of a mermaid dress. Along the top it says "week 19"

I removed stitches from one of my daughters’ dresses to extend the strap, fixed the other strap that had pulled free, and handstitched the holes closed in her rainbow nightgown. Quick hacks that allowed me to submit but definitely did not facing my sewing fears.

Week 20 – May 17th to May 23rd

Procrastination Sew – Rejected

Collage shows four images with the words "week 20" going down sideways along the top right image. All four show me wearing a green flutter sleeved top in front of a brown fence and leafy bushes.

I sewed up the Rebecca Page Flutter Sleeve in advance of the deadline so this was the very definition of the opposite of a procrastination sew.

Week 21 – May 24th to May 30th

Sew a Bathing Suit – Accepted

Single image showing a pair of orange swim shorts with the words "week 21" overlaid overtop.

Going into this week I realized that my daughters’ swimming suit tops still fit but their bottoms were too small. I quickly sewed up another pair of orange shorts for Zoey this week and cut out some bottoms for Ada that I didn’t quite finish in time making it part of next week’s submission. You can check out how I made these bottoms and their matching tops in this post from 2019.

Week 22 – May 31st to June 6th

Sew Something Rainbow Inspired – Rejected

Image shows a small image, top right, superimposed over a larger photo. The words "week 22" are along the top left. The large photo shows the red banded yellow swim shorts I sewed up. The smaller image shows the same shorts laid out over last year's top.

Finished Ada’s new swim bottoms but I don’t think the two colors are rainbow-ey enough to count as a challenge accepted. Ada chose the color for the swim suit bottom from my stash keeping with the Wonder Woman theme but doing it in her own way. Last year I paired this top with blue shorts to match Wonder Woman’s costume a bit more.

Week 24 – June 14th to June 20th

Fix the Fit of a Garment – Rejected

Collage shows two images with a zigzag separating it along the center. The top of the image says "week 24" while the top image shows the opened seam and the bottom the stitched closed seam.

The seam in Zoey’s swim shorts had opened up so I needed to handstitch it closed which allowed me to submit something although I’m rejecting the challenge as the fix didn’t affect the fit that much.

Week 31 – August 2nd to August 8th

Mash Patterns – Rejected

Collage shows four images along with teal text saying "week 31". The top large image shows all the finished masks spread out along the table. Along the bottom are three images. The center one shows my elastic system while the outer two shows the front and back of the tooth fairy door hanging.

I did a lot of sewing this week but didn’t mash up any patterns. I instead made a tooth fairy tooth holder, of my own design, and many masks so we’d be ready for back to school. I later created a caddy system for the masks and shared it here.

Week 32 – August 9th to August 15th

Make Something for Back to School – Accepted

The text "week 32" is overlaid over the top image of the four finished zippered pouches while the bottom image shows the cinched bags, inside out, before the ribbon is added.

I finished the back to school masks last week but had also planned on making zippered pouches and ribbon cinched bags for the clean and dirty masks when the girls go to school. Since it was for school I could accept the challenge this week and finished up the mask command center I had planned! We ended up hardly using the dirty mask bags as my girls only wear one mask all day but it’s in their bag along with a zippered pouch containing a couple clean masks so I know it’s available.

Week 33 – August 16th to August 22nd

Sew Something with a Zipper or Placket – Rejected

Image shows a collage of four images along with blue text saying "week 33". The two left images show the clothing laid out on the floor and folded for the next morning. The two images on the right show the dress being worn.

I realized I should start sewing back to school clothing for the girls so I cut out four garments but only managed to finish two, the best ones, this week. I absolutely love them! To make them I used the base Stitch Upon a Time Wendybird dress paired with bamboo lycra Bluey inspired fabric I bought through a pre-order with Sweet Tickles Custom Fabrics.

Week 34 – August 23rd to August 29th

Sew Something Inspired by Art – Rejected

Image shows a smaller image with the ripped backpack on the lower left side while the main image shows a back of the backpack with the edge zigzag stitched closed. The text along the top says "week 34"

I spent much of my time this week batch sewing four dresses for the girls but as I only worked on them when they were in school I ran out of time and didn’t have a finished dress to submit. I thought I wouldn’t be able to submit anything this week but then Zoey came home with a hole in her backpack. Although the backpack is very artsy, as she painted it, the patch job, a quick zigzag on the machine, was not so challenge submitted but rejected.

Week 35 – August 30th to September 5th

Sew with a Stash Fabric You are Afraid to Cut Into – Accepted

Image shows four Magnolia tops laid out on the floor. Two of them match with a Mo Willems quite "Books bring me joy!" while the other two look different.

I finished sewing the four back-to-school dresses for my girls and hadn’t looked at the challenge until after. That said, as I’ve had many of these fabrics for quite while and never got myself to cut into them (especially the super-heroine ones) I’m counting this as accepted! The fabric is all custom cotton lycra from Whimsy Baby Customs and I used the Stitch Upon a Time Magnolia for all four.

Week 36 – September 6th to September 12th

Sew Something Two Ways – Accepted

Collage is a large image on the left with the text at the top saying "week 36". Along the right side are three other images. One of the images shows the shirt laid out on the floor while the other three shows me wearing it and taking selfies in the bathroom mirror.

I made myself a top using two machines (serger and sewing machine) while also using my sewing machine in two different ways (single needle at times and double needle to hem) so I’d call this challenge accepted. No affiliate but this is the Sienna drawstring knit dolman top from Sinclair patterns.

Week 37 – September 13th to September 19th

Sew Something with a Woven Fabric – Rejected

Collage shows three images with yellow text saying "week 37" at the bottom. The top image shows a hole in fuzzy fabric while the bottom image and the heart image in the center shows the stitched up seam.

I cut out three new garments this week but didn’t have time to start sewing any of them so I assumed I’d be skipping this week. Then my eldest discovered a hole in her stuffed kangaroo’s neck and I was able to make her day by hand sewing it, with my easily available black thread, closed. Doc McStuffins saves the day! I’m not sure if the fur is a woven or what so I’m going to go with rejecting this challenge to be safe.

Week 38 – September 20th to September 26th

Embroider or Hand Sew Something – Accepted

Image is a collage showing three images on top of each other with angled dividers. At the top it says "week 38" in green. The top image shows a pink knit belt around a red dress with a glimmer of silver under it. The center image shows a light green felt leaf with dark green veins being stitched in. The bottom image shows a brown branch in a cross shape with red thread connecting the red felt sail with the wood.

I started working on Zoey’s Halloween costume earlier this month and finally got to the sewing stage! I took an old red dress and added a simple pink belt to go over top that involved both the serger and some hand sewing to close the hole after I turned it right side around. I also embroidered a felt leaf and attached it and a rectangle of red felt to a homemade mast with embroidery floss so I’d say this challenge was accepted without even meaning to! Her Princess Skateboarder costume in all its entirety is posted here with the sail specifically shared here.

Week 39 – September 27th to October 3rd

Make Something with a Hood – Rejected

Image is a collage of three images with the text saying "week 39". The top two images show the dress with the one on the left laid out on the ground and the right one a mirror selfie with a Zoey beside me. The bottom image shows a closeup of my flower patched flats.

I continued to sew this week but didn’t add a hood to anything so I’m going to have to reject this challenge. That said I count this week as a personal success as I finished a wearable muslin, using the Violet pattern through Sinclair Patterns, and finally patched up a pair of my flats with some embroidery floss making them gorgeous.

Week 40 – October 4th to October 10th

Weave Fabric – Rejected

Image is a collage of six angled images. From bottom left to upper right they go: patched hat, embroidery patched flats, two twirly polka-dotted dresses, two nightgowns, one sleeve cropped nightgown, and one pumpkin dress.

Back before school started I cut out several outfits for the girls but then never got around to sewing them. I then started worrying that the girls would grow out of the outfits so I decided to focus on sewing them up this week and ended up making two nightgowns, two twirly dresses, and one no-pocket dress. I also quickly fixed another nightgown, a sun hat, and patched my other pair of shoes! None of which involved weaving so challenge rejected.

Week 42 – October 18th to October 24th

Make or Embellish Fabric – Accepted

Image is one large photo at the top and two smaller side by side ones below. The text, in pink, says "week 42". The top image shows all four finished masks. On the bottom left you see the pink pieces for the drawn "Pink Princess" mask while on the right you see the pieces for the "Princess Skateboarder"

At first I didn’t think I’d have anything to submit for this week but then realized that if we were going to have custom masks for our Halloween costumes I should get on it soon… plus since we’re embellishing with fabric markers and/or glittery fabric it also fit the challenge. Two custom Iris Luckhaus masks for both girls perfectly matching their Halloween costumes for this year: Pink Princess and Princess Skateboarder.

Week 44 – November 1st to November 7th

Sew Something you Would Normally Purchase – Accepted

Image shows three photos side by side with slated angles between. It says "week 44" along the top center. The left and right image shows the hole and the fix. The center image shows the jeweled flower once it was sewed back on.

My oldest ripped a hole in her pants, from her 2020 Wonder Woman costume, and one of the jewels on this year’s costume was coming off. I handstitched the hole closed and the gem back onto the dress. I guess this fits the challenge as fixing these means they won’t need to be bought later on… so accepted?

Week 47 – November 22nd to November 28th

Sew Something with a Stretchy Waist – Accepted

Image shows a ripped center seam in the leggings and the fixed dolly head. Across the top it says "week 47" in pink letters.

I didn’t think I was going to submit anything this week but Ada spotted a stuffy that had been forgotten in my todo pile for the last while. I quickly hand stitched the hole in her head closed and, in doing so, discovered the pants that I had fixed in the last challenge. The thread had come out either before or in the wash so this time around I used my serger to close the hole in the hopes that it would last longer without throwing off the fit of the leggings. I guess since the pants have a stretchy waist this counts as an accepted challenge!

Week 48 – November 29th to December 5th

Sew Something Purple – Accepted

Collage of four images showing two items in each. The bottom right says "week 48" in light blue. The top left image shows a hexagon shaped quilted pillowcase while the top right shows two large skirted eyeball decorated black dresses. At the bottom there's two long sleeved raglan style sweaters in two colors (left side) and two dresses on the right festooned with cacti or insects with the odd bit of color showing.

Two weeks ago I cut out six tops for my girls’ for Christmas. I realized going into this week that I needed to sew them up before I ran out of time. As such, I managed to sew them up, in three school days, along with a new pillowcase for each of them! I hadn’t looked at the challenge ahead of time but as some of the fabric I used in the pillowcases has purple I counted this week’s challenge as accepted!

From upper left going clockwise: Pillowcases based vaguely on a free potholder pattern using Walmart-bought fat quarters, two pocketed Ellie & Mac Sweetie Pie Dresses, two pocket-less Magnolia dresses using color-changing fabric from Whimsy, and two sweaters using Ellie & Mac’s raglan pattern. The sweater fabric and black eye fabric are both from Girl Charlee.

Week 49 – December 6th to December 12th

Sew Your Inspiration – Rejected

Collage has three images stacked on top of each other showing a closeup of the fix (top and bottom) and an image of the whole top of the shoe (center). The words in white say "week 49".

I didn’t think I’d get a chance to sew this week… but then the velcro fell off my daughter’s shoe strap. I used super glue along the center to help attach it down and then quickly hand stitched along the edge to keep it even more secure. That said, I don’t think it was an inspired sew so challenge rejected.

Week 50 – December 13th to December 19th

Sew a Gift – Accepted

Collage has a pentagon in the center showing two little snowmen kit baggies. Along the outside are five more images showing a ripped monkey, two views of the nightgowns, my purple and teal housecoat, and a heart pot handle cover.

Going into this week I planned to cut some patterns out but hadn’t planned to sew anything up. Then, on the first day, I realized Matt had a ripped open monkey on his desk and I quickly handstitched it closed knowing that I could now submit. Then, while cutting out nightgowns, Zoey wanted one of them for pajama day at school this Friday which led to me sewing all four rather than waiting until after Christmas. Then I made two little sachets and a pot handle cover for some friends and finally figured why not and sewed up a housecoat with some fabric I was scared to cut into. So all in all the simple hand stitched monkey has transformed into something for me, three small gifts for friends, and four pajama gifts for my daughters… so challenge accepted.

From upper left going clockwise and ending in the middle: the ripped monkey stuffy, four nightgowns using my Olivia Patsy mashup and Joann’s snuggle flannel, a housecoat using Rebecca Page’s pattern and some gorgeous wax print fabric my sister bought me in Ghana that I was afraid to cut into, a pot handle cover (slightly altering and referring to a Deb’s Day video and a Crazy little Projects blog post), another view of the nightgowns, and two little sachets that followed the same steps as my Christmas reusable gift bag post.

All in all a good year and I’m so glad, looking back, that I gave myself permission to ignore the challenge and only submit something if I felt like sewing that week… or was pressed into a quick fix. Although I bid this year adieu on a tired note I’m glad I had time to focus on other things like getting back into coding and working with my reMarkable. Overall I was able to submit something for 30 of the 52 weeks and of those there was a fifty fifty split between accepted and rejected!

Going into 2021 I plan to continue to sew only when I feel like it, continue to ignore the upcoming challenges, and create a collage to submit and save whenever I do sew whether I accept the challenge or reject it. I’m so glad I found the 52 week sewing challenge and it continues on! Here’s to another year!

Have you followed along with the sewing challenges? It doesn’t matter what time of year it is you’re always welcome to join in. You’re also welcome to share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear what your most challenging and/or most fun sews of the year were? Ooh and what sews did you find the most helpful?

I hope your year went well and here’s to a great 2022!

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