Sew Over 50

This is where you will find all the SewOver50 blog posts I’ve written collected together, each new one to be published will be added at the bottom of the list. I hope you find them interesting or useful, and enjoyable to read. It’s a wonderfully welcoming diverse and inclusive sewing community to be a part of, we are always sharing tips, advice and support between ourselves over on Instagram so make sure you follow the account as well as your own favourite inspirational sewers and makers.

Incidentally, did you know you can follow individual hashtags as well as the account itself? There are loads now such as #so50dresses #so50trousers #so50vintage and so on and they can be very useful if you’re searching for advice or reviews of particular patterns. The main tag to use in your posts is #sewover50 but you’ll notice that all the others are #so50…followed by the topic. If you’re new to the whole Instagram ‘thing’ there are plenty of really useful hints and tips saved in HIGHLIGHTS on the @Sewover50 account profile which should get you started.

@sewover50 was an absolute lifeline to many people especially during the strange years that 2020 to 2022 were, from the devastating bush fires in Australia, through the increasing reach and lasting effects of Covid 19 pandemic and on to the outpouring of justifiable rage after the murder of George Floyd and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, to name just three things. There can’t be anyone who hasn’t been impacted to some degree by one or more of these events and their repercussions. The connections we’ve made all over the world through our shared interest in the simple activity of sewing has been a very real support for many and can’t be underestimated.

So, to begin…

In August 2018 I wrote the first post which became a catalyst for the whole Sew Over 50 ‘movement’, on the 18th of August Judith Staley started the Instagram account.

My follow-up post asked if we were being ignored by pattern companies, the answer was a resounding yes!

In November 2018 10 of us, including Judith and myself, went to Love Sewing HQ for a photo shoot and the article appeared in the February issue the following year. Since then we’ve expanded to over 41K Instagram followers and we are now a hugely varied, and worldwide, group.

Early in the new year 2019 we launched the first ‘Visible’ Challenge, when we asked you to choose a pattern which featured an older in its advertising. It was much harder than you might think but it did mean that we all started to discover lots of new pattern brands which used a more diverse range of models…still a lot to be done by some brands though, and I don’t just mean age.

There was a follow-up post that added extra patterns which had been brought to our attention since the launch of the challenge.

When the challenge finished, and randomly-chosen winners were announced, I pulled everything together with this post.

Sandy’s next idea was a ‘Flat lay’ challenge so here’s a round-up of how that went.

I examined whether anything had changed in the months since SewOver50 had come into being, and was there more we could do to encourage change.

In August 2019 we celebrated our First Birthday! In this post I spoke to several of our stalwart supporters from all over the world. They generously answered many of my questions and explained to me what @SewOver50 has come to mean to them.

We asked for your sewing advice for newbies, so it’s all here in one place

You came up with so many ‘go-to’ T-shirt patterns and I’ve listed them all in this post for you.

The first official SewOver50 meet-up in London, February 2020. It was very popular and well over 60 people travelled from far and wide to be there. We really hope that eventually there will be more of these happening around the world, but please don’t take unnecessary risks. Check out the #so50meetup to see where fellow-sewers have had get togethers. They are gradually starting to happen again now with one taking place recently in Dunfermline, Scotland and the first Sew Over 50 Frocktails event scheduled for September 23rd in Edinburgh, Scotland with both Judith and Sandy in attendance!

We launched the second #so50visible challenge early in 2020 which many of you enjoyed joining in with. The numbers of followers to the account have grown so significantly that lots of you hadn’t been a part of it when the 2019 challenge took place.

We covered some varied topics on the account during the lockdown, one of the most popular was a discussion about our fabric buying choices. You can also listen to me chatting about it over two episodes on the Sew Organised Style podcast with Maria Theoharous. The back-catalogue of contributors to Sew Over 50 Thursdays on the podcast has grown immensely now.

We had another wide-ranging discussion about our cutting and sewing habits-do you just cut and sew one thing at a time, or are you a batch cutter? you decide…

This year’s Sewing Weekender (a really popular and over-subscribed two day event in the UK) went online. As a result it meant that close to 2000 people could attend regardless of where they were in the world, and it raised over £23K for 4 worthwhile charities. I was invited to contribute so I filmed my first ever video in which I chatted about the #so50visible challenge. You can have a read, or a watch, here.

In August 2020 we were celebrating TWO years since Judith launched the first post on @SewOver50, and the grass certainly hadn’t grown under our feet! I summed up a few of the activities many of us shared, especially during the pandemic and lockdown. It’s clear that Sew Over 50 has been a huge source of comfort and support, as well as inspiration, in the midst of it all.

I wrote this post in October 2020 about various hem finishes I like to use, just to add variety and keep my sewing interesting.

There was a lengthy hiatus since I last wrote a Sew Over 50 piece, and when I did it was a summing up of the Sustainable Sewing challenge of August 2021 which you can read here The month may have finished but it’s a philosophy we hope many of us will continue with in our making much more of the time in the future.

Next I guest edited a post on the account sharing thoughts and information on the use, or otherwise, of mannequins in our clothes sewing practises. There were absolutely masses of comments which were extremely varied and interesting, you can still read them by following this link, and this is the link to the accompanying blog post I wrote with lots more information which I hope might be useful if you’re thinking of investing.

Towards the end of 2021 my next post for Sew Over 50 was slightly different to all the others because I’ve shared someone else’s hard work in it. Long-time Sew Over 50 follower Tina in Copenhagen, Denmark has gathered a huge number of sewing resources to help and support those going through treatment and recovery from breast cancer. You can now access them by following this link, feel free to share them with others who are not a part of our community too, I know Tina wants them to be available to as many people as possible, so that they don’t have to spend as much time searching as she did.

In February 2022 many followers contributed their own personal favourite trouser patterns-it was quite a specific brief though with side zip and flat front being the main criteria. It seems there are loads of styles that we’ve come to love so I’ve rounded them all up and now it should be easy to find your new favourite trousers!

The Eve trousers from Merchant and Mills made in soft babycord (the top is the LB Pullover by Paper Theory patterns)

The first SewOver50 Frocktails event was finally able to take place in Edinburgh in September 2022 and it was wonderful! I’ve written a few words along with plenty of photos if you’d like to see what we got up to. It was superbly organised by Judith and Sandy with lots of people coming from all over the world.

good times with sewing friends from around the globe

In January 2023 I added another new post. I’m considering whether the fact we are now such a large yet close knit community in which we are so encouraging, supportive, inspired by and inspiring to each other means that we have stopped noticing that change is still so slow in coming. There are those pattern brands which did already use a few older models and they are still doing so, maybe even more so now. And there are some companies which do now use a wider range of models than they did before, but there are still too many who will still use any variety of model except an older one! Age is still the last taboo it seems. But at least we have each other