Carly @therunawayseamstress chats about why she joined the pack, why she likes the pack, and why she challenges herself to make the featured pattern every month.

Ever just not feel like sewing? I know others must feel like this sometimes, but scrolling through Insta – with its sea of gorgeous makes – it’s hard not to feel like the odd one out. I can have the perfect pattern and the most gorgeous fabric lined up and yet… I just feel a bit ‘meh’ about it all. I think this is normal with any hobby, but I find it REALLY ANNOYING!

I was in one of these funks when I came across the In a Haystack Pack by Kate. If I’m honest, it was the fabric discount that reeled me in. I think it must have been about September time last year and everyone was showing off the fabric they’d bought from The Rag Shop using that months discount code, and I was gutted I’d missed it. The Rag Shop is probably the place I buy the most from and I love the stuff that Steph stocks.

I was a little confused about what the pack was about. I’d worked out that you got a fabric discount each month, but as much as I love buying fabric, I couldn’t justify a tenner a month for the discount alone. So I did I bit of digging (I Googled and found the website) to find out more.

“It turned out you actually get quite a bit!”

For each month you subscribe, you get:

  • A pattern from an indie designer. So far, all of the companies have been totally new to me, which is amazing, there’s so many great pattern designers out there; it’s nice to have a bit of help in finding them!
  • A discount from two fabric shops, one based in Europe, one US based. Some I’d heard of, some I hadn’t. All have stocked some lovely fabric.
  • A treat. This is usually a discount off something sewing-related. At the moment, for example, it’s a discount off pattern printing.
  • A lovely email that’s chatty and full of random info, and interviews with the owners of that month’s pattern company and fabric shops.

It’s just a really nice way to spend a quiet hour on a weekend morning before my brain starts waking up and buzzing with all the things I need to do!

I still wasn’t sure I could justify a regular £10 a month for something that I didn’t even know the contents of. This is one of the main reasons I don’t subscribe to any of the monthly fabric boxes – I’m incredibly fussy! Anyway, I’m writing this piece because I’ve been subscribed to the In a Haystack pack since October so we all know how this story ends. This is how I justified it to myself:

  • If I already had a pattern for a particular month, there’d be a good chance I could swop it for another one from the designer.
  • I didn’t have to use the fabric discount each month and, if I did use it, it didn’t have to be on fabric for that month’s pattern. I could take advantage of the discount to buy fabric for another project or simply to try out a new-to-me fabric store with less risk.
  • I’d get to know the sewing community a bit more. Insta has been lovely but it’s hard to get to know people a bit better, and I find it can feel a bit superficial sometimes. The monthly email is a lovely way to find out more about the suppliers for that month, as well as finding new people to follow.
  • I could unsubscribe whenever I wanted as there was no minimum subscription.

One of my main concerns was what if I didn’t like the pattern? I can’t really ask for a pattern swop just because it wasn’t my cup of tea!

“This is when I decided to take things a bit further, and make it my own personal monthly sewing challenge.”

I decided that I would make each month’s main pattern (one month we got a bonus pattern) by the end of the month, whether I liked the pattern or not. It may seem a bit weird but it’s had lots of benefits:

  • It takes away any thinking around what to sew. I simply sew the pattern, because that’s the rule.
  • It helps me work through my fabric stash. I’ve got a lot of fabric, some of it I bought because I loved it and I knew exactly what I was going to make with it, but some of it I bought because it looked nice or, more often than not, was the right price (I’ve come a long way since those days!). And some of it is just old fabric (curtains, bedsheets, old clothes etc). If I’m not sure on a pattern and don’t think it’s something I’d wear, I use some of the old fabrics in my stash that I’m not bothered about using up for fear the perfect pattern comes along!
  • More often than not, it gets me out of the ‘I want to sew but don’t feel like it’ mood I mentioned at the start. I sew the pattern because I’ve told myself I have to and, often, starting is the hardest bit. Within an hour I’m in my happy little sewing place again.
  • I learn new skills. Things I’ve learnt by sewing things I wouldn’t have chosen myself: scalloped hem, ruffles, full bust adjustment on an unusually shaped pattern, how to make significant adjustments that impact multiple pattern pieces.
  • I actually end up liking the things I’ve made. Scalloped edges look a bit dowdy? Shorten the hem and it looks super cute! Ruffles make you feel a bit matronly? Use a drapey fabric for a more sophisticated look! Being ‘forced’ to work on projects I’m not keen on, has helped me to practice my creativity.

For January to March this year, Kate is also releasing a menswear version of the In a Haystack pack, which I’m loving. I’m secretly hoping it gets extended – although, if I thought I was fussy with fabric, my partner takes it to another level! Saying that, he hasn’t taken off the joggers I made him from the January pack, and keeps asking when the hoodie from February’s pack will be ready, so I think he approves too 🙂

This ‘challenge’ technique works for me, and I’d love to know how others approach the pack. Do you try and make the pattern each month too, or do you use it as a way of adding to your pattern collection? Do you read the email the day you get it, or do you wait for a quiet weekend morning? Happy sewing!

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and fun challenge, Carly! Find out more about @therunawayseamstress here and join the pack here. We’d love to welcome you!

If you’re a member of the pack and you’d like to write a blog post, feel free to drop me a message.