2018 in Review

Another year is over so I’m recapping what I’ve made in the last 12 months. I thought I hadn’t made as much in previous years, but I made 5 dresses, 4 sweatshirts (2 for my friend’s daughter), 2 Cleos, 4 Pairs of trousers, one of which was part of my Socialite Soiree suit, 4 shirts, and a coat. Plus I made a Freddie Mercury outfit and refashioned a bunch of things into a Miss Fisher outfit. Phew!

Here is my final Make Nine 2018 progress – I made 5 of them, which I think is the most of any Make Nine I’ve come up with. I still didn’t yet make jeans. 2019 will definitely be the year I finally tackle jeans! I made my Honetone Coat, Carnaby Dress, Ebony Dress (twice), Blaire Shirt and Portobello Trousers.

The thing I’m proudest of making this year (as I mentioned via the #myproudestmake hashtag) is my Honetone coat. I really took my time over it in February and I’m really glad I did. Apparently there is some really cold weather coming in January so this will still get lots more wear this Winter. I kind of want to make another coat, but I probably don’t need one.

My second favourite make from this year was the suit I made to wear to the Sewcialite Soiree. I made it in record time, (unlike my coat) because I left myself, like 3 full days and 3 evenings to make it in. The Joe Jacket came together really easily and I definitely want to make another one, in black and white houndstooth – if anyone has any ideas where to buy some suiting in houndstooth, let me know!

One of my favourite makes was my cropped Kalle shirt. I definitely want to make more Kalles. I did wear it quite a bit this year as we had an unusually long Summer.

2 things that I wore way more than I anticipated were my 2 Cleos. Though sadly I wore the mustard one to work a lot and when unloading a delivery from a van I got a big black mark on it, which hasn’t come out yet. Happily I have loads of mustard corduroy left over from my suit so I’m going to replace it – I think that will be one of my first makes of 2019.

Pretty much my only refashion project (except adding a hem band to a cropped Inari tee) was to make my Miss Fisher outfit for The Rafashioners. The coat will definitely get lots of wear in Spring and Autumn when it’s not too cold.

My love affair with shirts continued – I made 4, 3 of which were from patterns I hadn’t used before. (Clockwise from top left: Blaire, Honeycomb, Melilot, Kalle)

I also made 4 pairs of trousers – and I have lots more plans for more trousers in 2019. (Clockwise from top left: Persephone Pants, Simplicity 1696, Portobello Trousers, Mercury Trousers). I really want to make more Persephone Pants next year so I’m on the lookout for good fabric.

I also made 5 dresses last year, which is a lot considering I don’t wear them super often now I work hulking fabric around all day. Dresses aren’t the most practical of garments. I love the Laurel I made – definitely a good rediscovery of a forgotten pattern in my stash. (Clockwise from top right: Inari Tee Dress, Carnaby Dress, Ebony Dress (blue and gold))

Also this year I ‘launched’ my Hundred Years Wardrobe project – to sew something from each decade of the 20th century. I also completed the first project – this 70s Freddie Mercury Zandra Rhodes outfit. Sadly I didn’t dare wear it to the cinema when I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, which was amazing!

This year I joined my local brass band, and a swing band, playing the cornet/trumpet which I played for 10 years while at school. I went to their big Christmas concert last year and the year before and last year I finally plucked up the courage to talk to the band leader and then I played at the Christmas concert this year! I also spent rather a lot of money on a set of mutes so I made some storage bags to keep them from getting bashed and scratched.

The other thing I wanted to do in 2018 was to do some knitting and to make my partner some clothes. I basically didn’t do either of these for 51 weeks of the year – I have actually done some knitting over the Christmas break. I’ve been finishing a jumper I cast on probably 3 or 4 years ago!

All in all this was a pretty good year for me – I did plenty of sewing, played lots of music and got a new job which I don’t hate. My partner turned 40 and we went away for a weekend. And I’ve tweaked some stuff in our flat so it looks nicer and works better – and I’ve been clearing out cupboards this holiday season, which has been really satisfying! I finally renewed my passport and went to visit one of my best friends, with my other best friend, in Germany finally, which was really brilliant. I always feel stupidly pleased with myself when I manage to fly somewhere on my own!

I’ve also had quite a few periods of feeling low and uninspired this year but I tried to be kind to myself and not get annoyed at myself if I didn’t sew for a couple of weeks or blog as regularly as I might have liked. Sewing and blogging should be fun hobbies so if I didn’t fancy doing them, then I didn’t and I feel good about that.

#2017MakeNine and other plans for the year

After my review of 2016, I thought it would be nice to plan for my year of sewing yet to come. I’m sure you’ve seen Rochelle from Lucky Lucille‘s #MakeNine thing which has been all over blogs and instagram for the last week or so. I think it’s a really good idea to focus your year of sewing, so here are my #2017MakeNine in no particular order (and they’re all patterns I already have in my stash):

1. Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns

ginger-jeans-1I’ve ended up with almost no wearable jeans – I have one pair which are worn on my thigh between my legs which are just about passable but my others either don’t fit any more or have a broken zip. I’ve had this pattern for quite a while and 2017 is definitely going to be the year when I finally make them!

2. Roberts Collection by Marilla Walker.

roberts-collection-2This is another pattern I’ve had for a little while and after we moved, before I set up my sewing space, I spent some time printing and assembling PDF patterns I’d bought and this was one of them. So it is now all ready to go. I think I’m going to make the dungarees and the dungaree dress (so this is a twofer!) so I have some casual weekend clothes that aren’t just jeans (though I do love jeans).

3. Moneta Dress by Colette

moneta-dressI bought this pattern, along with the Mabel skirt, not long after they were released. I have a similar style RTW dress from H & M which I bought ages ago which I really like when I wear it, so I’m hoping to recreate it/ create more versions of it to have comfortable but hopefully smart-looking dresses for work.

4. Morgan Jeans by Closet Case Patterns

morgan-jeansI like a classic skinny jean, but more and more I feel I’m being drawn to boyfriend jeans too. I might start with this pattern as I assume there will be less careful fitting needed, and then move onto the Gingers.

5. Cooper Bag by Colette

cooper-bagI’ve had this pattern for years and I bought all the hardware I need to make it, I just haven’t yet actually made the bag. I currently use a crappy sporty rucksack and I’ve wanted a nice bag for aaages. Part of my problem is I can’t decide on what colours and fabrics to use so if anyone has any suggestions, I’m open!

6. Inari Tee Dress by Named

inari-tee-dressI meant to make one or two of these last Summer as I’ve seen so many great versions online but I didn’t get around to it – always the way, huh?! So this year is the year….

7. Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes

marianne-dressI think this could be another option for smart but comfortable work dresses – and they could also work for weekends depending on the fabric choice. I don’t know why I haven’t got around to making this yet, I’ve had the pattern for quite a while.

8. Carolyn Pyjamas by Closet Case Patterns

carolyn-pajamasHaving made Summer pyjamas in the form of the Grainline Lakeside Pyjamas, I am now in need of nice Winter and Spring/ Autumn Pyjamas so the Carolyns are on my to make list this year. All my current bought pyjamas are a bit past their best so I really need to get onto making some nice new ones. I’ve also never sewn with piping so that will be a fun skill to learn hopefully.

9. Albion Coat by Colette

albion-coatAlthough this pattern is sort of a men’s pattern, it is technically unisex. I bought it before Grainline brought out their Cascade Duffel Coat as it was the only one on the market. This is yet another pattern I’ve had – and been meaning to make – for years. I want to make basically a copy of the lovely bright coats they sell in Sea Salt. I’ll be on the hunt probably for yellow waterproof fabric and a navy and white striped lining.

As I’m sure you’ve picked up on, I’ve had most of these patterns for quite a while! I want to try as much as possible to sew from patterns I already have in my stash as I’ve only sewn about half the patterns I have – and that doesn’t include patterns from books! There are, I’m sure, one or two I will buy but I feel like I pretty much have every kind of pattern I could possibly need. I’m also going to try to be mindful about my fabric buying, so I buy with specific projects in mind.

This year I have also signed up for #ProjectSewMyStyle. Run by Bluebird Fabrics, the idea is to make 12 garments in 12 months and end up with a brilliant capsule wardrobe. Having looked at the schedule of the patterns, there are some months when I’m not going to join in as the patterns are not really my style – and it seems against the ethos of the project being about slow fashion to sew things for the sake of joining in with a project. I am going to try to make the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater 2 in January, though.

PrintThey’re a new-to-me pattern company, and I like the simple lines of this pattern, but it looks like a flattering shape too.

The only other pattern I think I’ll definitely try to make is the Named Yona Wrap Coat which is scheduled for September. There are some Megan Nielsen patterns throughout the year, too, so I might have a go at them, though I don’t want to buy tooooo many new patterns.

yona-wrap-coatMy other main project for the first half of this year is going to be to do Colette’s Wardrobe Architect series to try even more to focus my sewing, so this whole post may be thrown completely out of the window! I’m hoping it will help me be focused in my fabric shopping and how I pick fabrics for specific patterns so I don’t end up with things that don’t fit with other things I’ve made. I want to try to create more of a capsule wardrobe and try to be less of an unfocused magpie!

wardrobe-architectI think I’ll manage to post about this every 2 weeks, so it will take me a few months instead of the 14 (I think) weeks planned. I’m also going to carry on planning my sewing month by month as I’ve found this really helpful since I’ve been doing it the last few months – it means when I do have time to sew, I know what I’m sewing. And I have been sometimes cutting out things during evenings after work so I’m ready to sew when I have a chunk of time at the weekend, instead of spending one weekend day cutting out.

This seems like quite a lot to fit into one year, but I also want to try to make a quilt for the first time this year. I want to do some work on our bedroom, so maybe a quilt for the bed? I need to decide on a colour scheme for the room first though…. The other option is to make a throw for our sofa which currently has one of my pieces of fabric on it because it’s uglier than it looked online when we ordered it! I also want to have a go at weaving a wall-hanging to go above our bed as the walls in our bedroom are quite empty. I’ve also got a chair I want to recover. And I started making a tank top for The Boyfriend over a year ago so I really should finish that!

Phew! I’m glad I’ve got a whole year to do all of this! What are your plans for 2017?

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Make It: 15 Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

15 Homemade Christmas Present IdeasOn Saturday  the boyfriend and I went to see the Christmas lights being turned on in Cirencester and it was really lovely. We all sang a couple of carols then Ben Miller (or Armstrong and Miller fame), who is apparently local pressed the button then there were fireworks on the roof of the local church. It has definitely got me feeling in the festive mood so I thought I’d share my pick of homemade presents I’ve made for various people in the past – I have no ideas of things to make this year, so if anyone has any ideas I’m definitely looking for some inspiration!

(click on the picture for the full post)

One of the most versatile and adaptable presents you could make is a tote bag – you can applique something on it to suit the person you’re making it for. I’ve made them with a car, a strawberry and BBC’s Sherlock on for various people!

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For your tea-loving friend or relative, why not make them a tea-cup candle? You can flavour them with any essential oil – I used chocolate, mmmm.

Do you have a friend who loves lego? If so, you could make them a lego doorstop – there isn’t a huge amount of knitting involved, so you’ve still got time to make this in time for the big day!

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You could make a genuinely one-off present in the form of a scrapbook, as I did for my dad’s 65th birthday.

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For your music-loving friend or relative why not make a vinyl record clock?

For your internet-meme-loving friend or relative you’ve still got just about enough time to embroider a cushion cover 😉

thumbnail_img_1309For your friend or relative who loved cooking and baking you could make them a lovely apron – there are lots of free patterns out there. I used the one from the first Great British Sewing Bee.

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If you have a friend or relative who loves running or exercising, you could make them a useful present in the form of a running armband to hold their phone and keys while they’re out doing their thing.

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For Kids:

If you know a kid who needs entertaining while traveling (or at other times!) why not make the travel match game I made for my friend’s daughter?

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If you know a kid (or have a kid) who would like to learn about growing things, why not make them a felt allotment? (p.s. this is really, honestly, one of my very favourite things I’ve ever made – I was more excited to give it away than I think the recipient was when she opened it!)

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Why not make their favourite book into a cushion cover……..

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2or a wall-hanging?

Clothes are sometimes a good option for kiddies (though they will grow out of them in no time at all!) I’ve appliqued babygrows, made dungarees and made the cutest dresses with matching knickers!

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Are you making any homemade presents this year? I’m not sure I’ll have time to be brutally honest, though my sister has asked me to make her some skirts so I think that will count….if I get them made in time?!

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Make It Yourself

As you may have noticed (or not!) I have had a bit of a rearrange of my categories and menu. I’ve made a new category (and archive page) for posts where you could make the things yourself – like my tutorial for making a tote bag and how to make a running armband: Make It.

I thought I’d write this quick post to let you know all the ones I’ve written before, which are now in the archive. I’ll be checking through them to make sure they all have comprehensive enough instructions for you to follow. Let me know if you spot anything that needs better instructions.

I’m hoping to add new posts of crafty, and thrifty things you can make yourself. I love sharing things I’ve made, but I want to encourage other people to make things too.

You can make food shopping/ planning less painful (well, I find it less painful!) with this meal planner pinboard.

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Make your very own Doc Brown costume from Back To The Future – though it might be too late now it’s not 2015 any more 😦

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One of my favourite ever makes, A Beautiful Mess’s Felt Allotment, could be made for any kid in your life – and, in fact, I kinda want one myself!

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Do you know a kid with a favourite show or book? Why not make them a cushion with the character on, like my Sarah and Duck cushion?

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Have you set a New Year’s Resolution to take up jogging (or another kind of exercise)? Make yourself an armband to hold your phone so you can listen to chunes while you work out!

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Ah, the tote bag. If you’re living in the England, then what better way to avoid the new plastic bag charge than by making up a bunch of tote bags?

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I made these tea cup candles a while ago, and I plan to make more as they’re so cute!

Tea Cup Candle

If you know someone who recently had a baby, but don’t really know what to get them, why not applique some animals or flowers or letters or anything at all on some babygrows? Clothes are always a useful gift and this way they’re a bit more personal!

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I made this Polaroid camera case for a friend of mine a while ago, and the principles could be transferred to any camera. Of course, not everyone will probably like an anatomical heart adorning it…….

Polaroid Camera Case

This has to be one of the easiest makes ever – you just need a clock kit from ebay! And a vinyl record, of course.

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For one of my many friends who likes BBC’s Sherlock I made this Kindle cover – it’s got silhouettes on one side and the purple shirt of sex and John’s cabled jumper on the other side!

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If you don’t fancy making a cushion for a kiddie, you could make a wall hanging instead, like this one of Norman The Slug With A Silly Shell!

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Best Makes of 2015

So since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d do the obvious thing of looking back over the last year and seeing what I’ve made and done. This was inspired in part by the Instragram #2015BestNine hashtag.

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I’ve made myself 14 garments, which isn’t really that many – I have felt like I haven’t had as much time for sewing as I would have liked.

I particularly like my BHL Victoria Blazer, and definitely feel smarter when I wear it instead of a cardigan.  I like my Merchant and Mills denim Dress Shirt, too.

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I made a few things with knits, for the first time this year: a Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi Dress; a Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress; and a Breton-style Deer and Doe Plantain Tee.

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I have also refashioned 7 things, so I’ve been a bit more productive than a first glance might imply!

My 3 favourite refashions were my ugly skirt to Grainline Scout tee (which I unfortunately shrank in the wash, boo!), my Refashioners Dear Creatures rip-off and, probably the one I’m most proud of, my ugly coat which I remade into a Freemantle Coat.

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I’ve made 6 non-clothes things, including my first (pusheen) and second amigurumi (a Minion), and my first scrapbook, for my Dad’s 65th Birthday.

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But my very favourite non-clothes thing (and probably favourite out of everything I’ve made) was the felt allotment I made for my friend’s daughter for Christmas 2 (which happens in January so this was made this year). This was one of those things that I saw on A Beautiful Mess and knew I had to make it, and then was super excited to see my friend’s daughter open it! I was almost too excited to wait until the present exchange, and wanted to open it as soon as I arrived for Christmas 2!

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This is the anniversary of this blog, too – I had an old one but transferred the content over and focused just on sewing and crafty things (I had previously written about food and books too), and I’ve introduced a couple of new regular posts – style inspiration and fashion history. I’ll continue with these I think, as they help me to cement my personal style and guide me what to make next! I’ve also reviewed some books, events and shops. You can see the archive of all these posts here.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year and I hope you’ll come back in 2016. xx