2014: a year in sewing (and a bit of knitting)

2014 has been a very productive year for me, I managed to make a grand total of 38 items: 13 dresses, 4 skirts, 3 shirts, 8 tops, 1 jacket, 1 swimsuit, a bag and 7 pairs of knickers (I’m counting the knickers as one!)  I’ve also knitted 4 cardigans, a hat and a pair of arm warmers.

Me made May was a catalyst in being able to see what suits me, what I feel comfortable in and what, in essence, is ‘me’.  You can have a quick look in the mirror before going out the door but there’s nothing like photographic evidence for getting a true picture of how an outfit works (or doesn’t) on you.  There were a few items that went in the Charity shop pile after seeing the pictures but there were also a few pleasant surprises.  My main realisation was that I prefer to wear dresses and this is reflected in the thirteen I’ve made this year.   I think in part this is because they are easy to wear, you can just throw them on without having to figure out what goes with what.  Another reason is that being on the short and curvy side they help to ‘elongated’ me, whereas separates tend to break me up a bit too much.

I know it’s traditional to do a top 5 hits and misses but I struggled to pick these,  so I have decided to do favourites, most worn and things left languishing in the wardrobe.

Favourites

My Swishy Anna Dress

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I really love this dress, it fits perfectly, the fabric is lovely and it’s very ‘me’.

My Flock Simplicity 2444 and the accompanying tartan frankenpattern

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I think the tweaks to this pattern have resulted in not far off the perfect fit.  I also have happy memories linked to them as I wore the grey flocked one for the Sew Brum meet up and the tartan was, of course, my Christmas dress!

My Purple and leafy Chardons

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This has proved to be the perfect flarey skirt pattern for me, I love the inverted pleats, it gives a bit of body without having the bulk around the waistline.

My Bombshell Swimsuit

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I enjoyed making this so much and I’m really glad I went for the bottle green.  I am also rather amazed proud that I not only blogged it but posted photos of me wearing it!

 

Most worn

My Ladyskaters

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These have been like wearing pyjamas, so comfortable yet respectable enough to be seen in public.  I actually prefer the blue one, the purple one is starting to bobble a bit but they are both everyday workhorses.

My Maya dress  

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I’ve worn this loads over a long sleeved tee and leggings, it’s so easy to wear, doesn’t need ironing and it’s got flowers around the bottom!

My Archers

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Perfect for wearing with jeans and have therefore been worn a lot at work.

My Miette Cardigans

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I think the Green Miette is my most worn knitted cardigan, I really love the colour and I’ve managed to combine it with a lot of things in my wardrobe.  Another Miette is on the cards once I’ve finished my owl sweater.

My Trixie Lixie Knickers 

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Without a doubt my most worn by far.  I made seven pairs back in April and have worn them daily since.  They are a really good fit, exceptionally comfortable and they have gingham ruffle elastic!  I really need to make a few more pairs as some are starting to look a little too well worn

Languishing in the wardrobe

My Liberty Cambie

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I’m a little sad that my most expensive dress has ended up being barely worn.  The only reason is the fabric, I really liked the dark green and kinda expected the dress to turn out a darker colour but the reality is a very wishy washy yellow colour.  I still can’t figure out how it happened, it’s like some kind of optical illusion!  It just doesn’t work with my skin tone and it’s probably my biggest disappointment.

My Spotty scout tee

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The one time I didn’t pre-wash the fabric, it shrank, ended up in the bin, lesson learned!

My navy eyelet Laurel

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Great when I’m standing up, rides up far too much when I am sitting down and flashes a bit too much leg for my liking!

My outfit a long outfit

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I do like this but I think I’ve only worn the dress twice.  I was never happy with the fit around the shoulders and it didn’t feel very ‘secure’.  I haven’t really worn the cardigan much either, there’s too much fullness in the sleeves and although the colour is a perfect match for the dress it doesn’t really go with anything else in my wardrobe.  Another disappointment as I had been hanging onto the fabric for a couple of years, I do have another two metres left of it though so not a total loss!

Some thoughts for 2015

  • I really need to consider if something will suit my body type before jumping on each new shiny pattern that get’s released!
  • I think I need to slow down a bit and  concentrate on quality rather than quantity.  I’ve made a considerable amount of garments this year but the one’s I’ve most enjoyed the most have been those I’ve taken the time to achieve a good finish.
  • I’m going to try and rid myself of my list making obsession.  Lists and plans have helped me focus but they’ve also taken out the spontaneity and added a bit of pressure.  This year I want to try and go with the flow and just sew whatever I feel like at the time.
  • I really need to get the stash under control.  I’ve got enough fabric to last next year and beyond.  Now I’m not committing  to a total fabric fast, a year without fabric shopping is a far too depressing prospect!  I just need to have a really good sort out of what I’ve got and ‘maybe’ set up some kind of system so I know what I’ve got and how much yardage without having to rummage and measure every time I want to sew something.
  • I am going to commit to a ‘ready to wear’ fast though.  I don’t think this will be difficult as I’ve only bought a handful of rtw garments this year.  I honestly don’t miss going clothes shopping, being liberated from size labels and shop changing rooms is one of the best things about sewing my own.

So that’s another year of sewing.  It has been a brilliant year, I have met some wonderful people through sewing, both online and in real life.  I’ve loved reading comments, blogs and particularly developing my instagram addiction!  Seeing everyone’s creativity has been inspiring and I feel very fortunate to be part of such a fabulous community.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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A tartan Christmas Frankenpattern

I managed to finish my Christmas dress in time for the start of the celebrations. It’s a frankenpattern: the bodice from Simplicity 2444 and the skirt from the Colette Peony. I made a Blackwatch tartan Peony (unclogged) last year but there were multiple issues with the fit of the bodice. I tried my best to tweak it, and it is wearable, but I haven’t made it since as I couldn’t be bothered to try and sort out the fit. I loved the skirt of the Peony though, just a simple A-line. It is supposed to have two sets of gathering at the waistline but I changed these to inverted pleats for a more streamlined look. The fit of my last 2444 was so good that a marriage with the Peony skirt seemed to be a match made in heaven.

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My initial plan was to use purple and grey tartan but when I held up the red it just screamed Christmas. I had a bit of a headache trying to match the checks, I finally gave in and realised I couldn’t match both horizontal and vertical so decided to just concentrate on the horizontals. It’s not too bad, the front is OK, the back went a bit squiffy but I can live with it.

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from the front…..

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….the insides…..

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….and a back view

I used red satin bias tape to finish the neckline instead of using the facings, which worked well and is a method I plan to use again in the future. I also bias bound the hem using the same red satin (really love bound hems!)

 

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I really enjoyed making this dress, I managed to do most of it on my birthday. I also got the best present ever from my other half: A 1959 Singer 221 Featherweight, it has all eight feet, original instruction book and even the original tube of oil! I sewed some of my dress with it and it stitches like a dream, just like the old Singer I got for my fifteenth birthday.

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So that’s the Christmas dress, I really do love it, suitably festive for the time of year. I really think I may have found a winning combination with this pattern mash-up, there are quite a few sleeve and collar options which come with the 2444 which I might have a play around with. I’ve worn it twice so far; to my work Christmas dinner and to a neighbour’s party and will be wearing it on Christmas day.  I’m all done and organised and all that remains is to just enjoy it!

I really hope you all have a fabulous Christmas!

What will you be wearing for Christmas day?

 

Helen x

A leafy green Chardon and battling the winter blues

This Deer and Doe Chardon is the last thing I sewed for myself and that was nearly six weeks ago. Towards the end of October my brain promptly went into hibernation (I think I must have been a bear in a past life) I should be used to it by now as it happens every year. The sensible thing to do would have been to take it easy but I’m not one to take my own advice.   I normally manage running the project days, as it’s a horticultural therapy project it works both ways.  Unfortunately it coincided with the busiest time for paperwork; monitoring, evaluation and annual accounts to do. I tried to bumble through as best I could but with everything taking twice as much time, energy and effort I spent most of the time feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and slightly confused. I was just starting to surface again at the end of November when my Mum was rushed into hospital.  She had suffered a small stroke and is fine now and back at home, but we had two weeks of stress and worry.

The point of this ramble is that I haven’t sewn any clothes for weeks and I’m missing it badly! I didn’t want to start any major projects as my lack of cohesive thought would very likely lead to me making a mess of it. I have tried to keep myself busy with easy little side projects, I finished knitting my Wiksten Jul hat just in time for winter to take hold in earnest. I’ve also got one and a half matching arm warmers. I’ve got the yarn for my Owl sweater but I want to wait until the holidays before I cast on.

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Spurred on by Marilla Walkers Christmas decoration swap I vowed to be as crafty as possible this year. I made a couple of stuffed Christmas trees with bells on for Caroline my swap partner:

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I’ve also made my own Christmas cards this year, having a very therapeutic evening with buttons, paper punches and a glue gun:

 

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I’ve just finished making a Parliament of Owl heat bags:

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I’ve enjoyed these little crafting projects but haven’t had the same sense of satisfaction from making them (ie I can’t wear them!)

I normally hate cutting out but it seemed to be a task that was quite manageable and so I have a few make-up bags ready to sew. I’ve also cut out an Archer shirt for the little one (who is now nearly as big as me) as he keeps wearing mine. I’ve cut the same size as I figured he would grow into it and when he grows out of it I’ll be able to have it! I had planned to make some knickers for presents but there has been a bit of debate about how appropriate they would be. The little one is adamant that you can’t give someone a pair of knickers for Christmas, I’ve tried arguing that they will be liberty print with gingham ruffle elastic but the Jury is still out on that one.

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Anyway, the skirt. This is my second Deer and Doe Chardon skirt. I used a metre and a half of this 45inch wide William Morris based quilting cotton, which I bought on holiday earlier in the year. It’s medium weight, a little lighter than my previous Chardon. I sewed it up exactly as last time, cutting a size 44.  I used some of the fabric from my previous one for the facing as it was just that little bit stiffer.

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I bound the hem with green satin bias binding (will definitely finish all my hems this way in future) I am even more in love with this pattern now and it is my number one little flarey skirt pattern.

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Even though things have been hectic (and will continue to be as Christmas approaches) I really feel the need to sew a Christmas dress getting back to a bit of selfish therapeutic sewing. I had a look through the stash and have found the perfect fabric; red tartan!  I’m going to use the bodice from Simplicity 2444 with the skirt from the Colette Peony. I may even go all out Christmas present and put a bow on it. As far as time goes it’s my birthday next week (even though I stopped having birthdays a few years ago, I have settled on being eternally thirtysomething!) Everyone is at work and school apart from me.  The other half wanted to take the day off work so we could go out somewhere but I managed to dissuade him. All I want to do is have a day to myself, sewing my Christmas dress. The prospect of no interruptions, a lit fire and possibly a Cary Grant film on Netflix sounds like a perfect day. I have a box of chocolates at the ready and might even have a bottle of fizz (I actually sew better after alcohol!) a whole six hours of uninterrupted me-time will be bliss!

Anyone else sewing a Christmas dress and if so what are you doing?