2018 is the year of the Mini Habit

(Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  That means that if you buy a product through one of these links I will receive a little bit of money in return, at no extra cost to you.  However, I was not paid to advertise any of the products featured here, and all opinions are my own).

The start of the new year is a great time to turn over a new leaf and push on to bigger and better things, as a result, many people start the year off with a New Year's Resolution.  The problem is that New Year's resolutions have an abysmal success rate.  By the end of January, most people have already given up on their resolution.  We have these huge goals and start off the year with lots of motivation and hit them hard, doing things like going to the gym 2 hours a day every day.  That kind of motivation is hard to keep up though, especially if you don't see the kind of results you would like immediately.  Before long you are discouraged, skip a day, then two days, feel like a failure, and give up.

What if instead, you had a teeny tiny behavior that you had to do every day that supported your bigger overall goal, one that required you to do so little that you could do it easily every day, without fail?  Then every day you would make incremental progress toward your bigger goal, and since you were meeting your daily requirements every day you would feel like a success.  You would be encouraged rather than discouraged, and you would keep at it, right?

For a while now, I have been trying to figure out ways to create daily habits that would support my overall goals - getting fitter, writing for the blog more often, and doing research for the podcast every day.  I have tried Habit Stacking, and habits based on a cue, and habits based on a time of day, one habit at a time, multiple habits at one time, and every other derivation you can probably think of.  I always failed.  I didn't have enough motivation, or enough time, or enough energy.  Life consistently got in the way of hour-long workout sessions, and marathon research.  I tried to make myself do too much, and I just couldn't keep up - at least not with enough consistency to actually form a habit.

Then, after what seemed like ages of searching I found Mini Habits, by Stephen Guise.  The idea behind Mini Habits is that the thing you are striving to do every day is so minimal an obligation, so simple, and so easy that you could still do it on your very worst day.  That way you never fail, you stay encouraged, and keep working toward your goal.  You can always do more than what your mini habit requires, but you never HAVE to.  Even if you only do the minimum you have still succeeded, and if you exceed the minimum, well that feels even better.

So how small are mini habits?  As the author of the book likes to put it, stupid small.  Currently, the mini habits I am working on are;

  1. Preform one push-up or sit-up per day  
  2. Write 50 words per day
  3. Read the equivalent of one page in a book per day

I can complete all 3 of these in 5 minutes or less and I have every day since I started Mini Habits.  I have also exceeded my minimum in most areas on most days so far.  The thing that makes this so much easier than all of the other habit programs I have tried is that I have to do so little that I can always do it.  I don't have to get up the motivation to do one push-up, it is so easy that I just do it.  And usually, once I am down there doing the push-up, it is easy to do a couple more, and maybe a few stretches, and then why don't I turn on that yoga routine that looked pretty good - after all, I don't have to finish it since I have already met my goal for the day.  In the same vein one page usually turns into 10 or even 20, and 50 words (which is not much more than a tweet) often turns into 200 or more.  Once I start it is easy to keep going, but if I knew beforehand I HAD to sit down to write 200 words or read 20 pages I would never start, it would just take more motivation than I could generally muster on a daily basis.  I have a full-time job outside the blog and podcast, 2 kids, and a list of things that need to be done at home longer than my arm - doing more just seemed like too much, that is until the requirement became so small that it seemed easy.  Now, I may not be making leaps and bounds toward my goals, but I am making steady progress, and that feels really great.

If you are looking for a way to reach your goals in 2018 and have had trouble sticking with it in the past, I would like to encourage you to give Mini Habits a try.  The worst that can happen is that you spend a few bucks and discover it isnt for you, the best that can happen is that you finally meet your goals and live your dream.  For me, that is a risk worth taking.




Sewing - Picking the Correct Pattern Size

I have been asked a lot recently to teach classes in sewing (usually whenever someone finds out that most of my clothing is hand sewn, rather than store bought).  I would love to be able to do just that, but I simply don’t have the time.  Most of my sewing is done at night, or during spare moments on the weekends.  I have no idea how I could squeeze a class into the mix, but I decided to try anyway – at least in bit and pieces.  I have decided to create several online tutorials at my leisure (Ha!), starting with the basics, and working toward a perfectly fitted pattern.

Choosing the appropriate pattern size

If you buy clothes off the rack, it is relatively easy to find the best size, you just try on all of the sizes that might fit, and pick the best one.  When you are sewing your clothes, it is a bit more difficult to find the correct size; after all, you can’t try the pattern on before you sew it.  On the other hand, sewing your own clothes can give you a perfect fit, rather than the fit that is just close enough.  The problem is; which pattern size should you choose?


Ready to wear clothing, and most sewing patterns are made based on an average, ideal person.  She is a size 8, about 20 years old, 5’6” (1.67 meters), and a B cup.  As I am sure you know, very few people fit this “average.”  Most of us are shorter, or taller, younger or older, larger or smaller, or several different sizes.  So which size should you pick?

Here is the rule of thumb;

Pants – Measure at your widest point below your waist, and above your legs, and choose the pattern size with the corresponding hip size.  If you are between sizes, choose the smaller size (Unless the style of the garment is very closely fitted.   Most styles have enough ease, or extra room, to fit people who are between sizes; however, very closely fitted garments have minimal ease).

  •  Why?  It is relatively easy to adjust the width of the waist, and legs of pants, but the curve at the seat of the pants is a bit tricky to adjust.  Picking the full hip measurement usually allows for the easiest adjustment.

Skirts –

  • A-line, and other styles that are closely fitted at the waist, and then rapidly increase in size skimming the hips, should be chosen based on the waist measurement.
    •  Why?  Since the waist is the only part of this style that is closely fitted, picking the size that fits the waist allows for the least pattern modification.
  • Straight skirts and other styles that are fitted through the waist and hips should be chosen based on the hip measurement.  Chose the pattern size in which the hip size corresponds to the measure of your widest point below your waist (this measurement may be at your hips or thighs).
    • Why?  The waist in this type of skirt usually has easily adjustable darts at the waistline.

Blouses and Dresses – Measure your full bust, and your upper bust (wrap the tape measure around your chest under your arms, but above your breasts).  Now subtract the upper bust measurement from the full bust measurement.

  • If the difference is 2 inches (5 cm) or less (you are likely an A or B cup) choose the pattern size with the bust measurement corresponding to your full bust measurement.  Congrats, you probably don’t have major bust revisions ahead, since most patterns are designed for b up breasts!
  • If the difference is greater than 2 inches (you are likely a C cup or larger), chose the pattern size with the bust measurement corresponding to your full bust measurement.
    • Why?  While the bust adjustment isn’t easy, it isn’t nearly as complicated as sizing down shoulders that are too big.  If you were to pick the size corresponding to your full bust measurement, the bust would fit, but the shoulders (and often everything else) would be too large

I am currently working on a dress for myself, and I have been focusing on the fitting issues inherent in dresses recently.  Since they are on my mind, I will likely post next about bust adjustments.  Till then, find a simple dress or bodice pattern, and find your size.  I am working on the Truffle dress, by Colette Patterns from their new book, “The Colette Sewing Handbook”.  It is a wonderful pattern for perfecting fit, and I highly recommend it.

What is a Sloper or Block?

When a dressmaker wants to make a fancy pattern using the flat pattern method they usually begin with a sloper or block.  A sloper is a basic pattern without seam allowances, made to fit the measurements of the person who will be wearing the fancy pattern.  Once a sloper is perfectly fitted it can be used to create a lot of different clothes by changing the details, like the length, or neckline, and adding fancy stuff life ruffles.

Why would a knitter care?

Knitting schematics are basically flat patterns.  If a knitter has a perfectly fitted sloper, and knows the measurements of that sloper, then the knitter should be able to adjust the measurements of the knitting pattern to match the measurements of the sloper, and get a perfectly fitted garment.  Interested yet?

I am currently adjusting a pattern to fit me based on  a sloper, and I plan to tell more about it once I get a bit further into the pattern, so stay tuned.