A review of 2020

I’ve done review posts (and then planning posts for the forthcoming year) for quite a few years on this blog and I wasn’t going to do one this year (I won’t be doing a planning post) but then I realised it’s been my most productive sewing year so far so it would be a shame not to celebrate all the things I’ve made.

I do want to acknowledge my privilege before I dive into my makes because I know a lot of people have lost friends and family members this year and have lost jobs and had their lives as they knew them fall apart. I myself work in a bookshop and was furloughed when the UK went into lockdown in March and was about to go back to work when we entered the second lockdown in November, but this was delayed until December. I was back at work for 4 weeks and a day when Gloucestershire was moved to tier 4 (today) meaning that I am furloughed again. I have been paid at least 80% of my wages that whole time and my partner and I have relatively low outgoings (and he went back to work in June) so we have been okay financially. I also have a flat to live in and hobbies to occupy me so I was able to enjoy most of my time not working. There were weeks when I was fed up of being in my house, but I did manage to visit family in the Summer when it was permitted and we have my partner’s family close by where we live. I have no children so I didn’t have to suddenly become a teacher over night and this means my time has been my own to do with as I please. I have also had regular online chats with my close group of friends from uni and I feel we have deepened out friendships – usually we try to meet up once per year and have a whatsapp chat but it has been nice to feel like we are close together even when we are (literally in some cases) thousands of miles apart.

With all that said for the first 3 or so months of the lockdown I sewed ALL THE THINGS that I had in my mind to make for probably years. I had bought fabric with specific projects in mind and then never quite got around to them, even with moving to working part-time last June (2019). In 2019 I made 16 garments and in 2020 I made 35 garments (2 of which I haven’t yet shared here) and refashioned one. That’s quite a difference!

I’ll start with jackets and coats – I didn’t realise I made 4!

Sequined Bomber jacket

Houndstooth Richmond jacket


Gold Rumana Coat

Victoria Blazer Coat hack

And of course, no sewing year for me would be complete without a bunch of shirts!

Blue and Pink Popover Kalle

Yellow Geometric Kalle

Faces Kalle


White and Black Checked Blaire

Classic White Melilot

I also did some epic scrap-busting and made a load of Inari Tees from larger scraps I had in my stash.

Silver Knit Inari

Electric Blue Inari

Jungle Print Inari


Crowd Inari


Cotton Lawn Inari


Pink Striped Inari


Yellow Geometric Inari


Black Striped Inari

2020 was also the year of making jeans for me – I made 5 pairs in total!

Ginger Jeans

First Pair of Dawn Jeans


Pale Denim Dawn Jeans


Black Skinny Dawn Jeans


Navy Skinny Dawn Jeans

I also made some other trousers that weren’t jeans!

Black Crepe Evelyn Trousers

Grey Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Double Gauze Arden Pants

Mustard Double Gauze Arden Pants

I finally made 2 pairs of Carolyn Pyjamas, the fabrics for which I had had for years and years!

Liberty Cotton Carolyn Pyjamas

Boaty Carolyn Pyjamas

I refashioned my Sew Over It Anderson blouse into a Marilla Walker Mercury top and I very much prefer the new iteration of this gorgeous fabric!

I made another Cleo dungaree dress mostly just to use up some leftover denim. I’m not sure how much wear it will get to be honest!

I also made another Sew Over It Nancy Dress – again not sure how much wear it will get, though it will certainly have to wait for warmer weather either way.

Another make  I’m not sure will get much (if any) wear is this Sallie Jumpsuit. The fabric is a little too thin and clingy for me to feel completely comfortable.


On the opposite end of the scale is my denim Roberts dungarees which have already had sooo much wear! They’re so comfortable and a good choice for days when I’m mostly sitting at home but don’t want to wear sweatpants!

It’s no wonder after all the sewing – and all the new items for my wardrobe – that I slightly ran out of steam after the first few months! Though a few things were made after the first main batch, the vast majority were made in April, May and June.

I want to try my hand at underwear in 2021 – I bought some supplies to make period pants, to find another way to be more sustainable and reduce my impact on the environment. I did made reusable make-up wipes this year and they have been a triumph!

I also stopped wearing bras really at all last Winter (under so many layers of clothes when it’s freezing at work, who can tell anyway!) but in the Summer with only one layer on I do kind of want at least something else to protect and slightly support my boobs so I’m going to have a go at making some bralettes. I’m lucky that I don’t need the support of underwiring or more supportive bras – when I was younger (like a teenager) I wished I had bigger boobs but now I’m so glad they’re not!

I’ve also got a (rescheduled) wedding to attend in the Summer so I’ll definitely be making a new outfit – I don’t feel like I went out that much before the pandemic but I like having bigger events to go to as an excuse to make something fancier than I would wear in my every day life.

But these are my only plans – I used to plan yearly and monthly my makes but I almost never followed through with the plans so I’m just have ideas for now. And now my wardrobe if necessary items is pretty much complete I might have a go at some more frivolous makes just for fun – and to expand my sewing skills!

Happy New Year! And thank you for following my making journey this year – I’m so thankful I have had sewing to keep me occupied for the vast majority of 2020!

Sallie Jumpsuit

This has to be one of the longest-waiting makes ever. Luckily I keep a (not very comprehensive) list of when I cut things out (and when I’ve finished it, photographed it etc) and according to that list, I cut out this Sallie Jumpsuit in June 2017! I clearly slightly lost enthusiasm for it, though I don’t totally hate it now it’s finished.

I made the size 4 and due to the amount of fabric I had to slightly crop the legs – if I’d have had enough fabric, I would have made them longer for sure.

The fabric was a £4.99 remnant from Rolls and Rems, which I bought way before I moved away from London almost 5 years ago! I think for my taste, the fabric is a bit too slinky for me to really love this jumpsuit. It’s also quite thin and I made it towards the end of Summer, so I haven’t had a chance to wear it yet. I think I’ll keep it in my wardrobe until next Summer to see if it’s a nice thing to wear on the, like, 4 really hot days we have here in the UK.

I suspect what will happen is it will sit in my wardrobe, I won’t wear it and then I’ll give it away. Funny considering how long I had the fabric, and how long the thing was cut out before I sewed it together. Though maybe it’s not a surprise I don’t love it as I clearly put off the whole make for aaaages!

I bought the fabric when I hadn’t been sewing for a super long time – and definitely when I hadn’t sewn much with jersey. I did have a tendency to buy lots of remnants from Rolls and Rems (which I think isn’t there any more) just because they were a decent length and they were cheap. But really cheap fabric is not necessarily made from a fibre you actually want to use!

I do really like the top half of the jumpsuit though, especially the back. I slightly wish I’d used this bodice view on my Sallie dress instead of the version that ties on the shoulders. I have also only worn the dress version a couple of times.

I’m sure lots of sewists have gone through the same thing, but it’s interesting how my style has changed through the years I’ve been making my own clothes. I’m sure part of that is feeling like ‘I’m not ready yet’ to, for example, make jeans and also the general shift which seems to have happened away from more vintage styles and lots of dresses to more stylish basics, like jeans, boxy tops, looser fitting trousers and shift dresses. Obviously some people are still into sewing vintage styles – but while I still love the look of so many vintage garments, I’m not drawn to wearing them in the same way! I think this jumpsuit maybe fits into an earlier iteration of my style – but maybe I wouldn’t have realised that if I’d have never actually sewn it up.

Have you been through a style evolution as a result of learning to sew? Before I sewed I felt restricted by what was pretty cheap in H&M or Primark and so I didn’t especially think about what I might actually like to wear – but with sewing, and being a straight size – I could actually think about what I wanted to wear and make those things, like shirts!

 

 

Liberty Boaty Carolyn Pyjamas

I’m back with more Carolyn Pyjamas! And I really really love this set! They have been literally years in the making – the fabric hasn’t been in my stash quite as long as the fabric I used for my first pair but still, it’s been a while!

The fabric is also liberty but it’s got a bit more weight to it than the stuff I used for my first pair. One of my London friends was very very generous and bought me 3m of it as a present! I knew immediately I wanted to make pyjamas out of it…..and then didn’t for years. But I’ve made them now!

I made the size 8 in both top and trousers as with my other pair but when I laid out the fabric I realised it was super narrow. So I had to sacrifice the long sleeves to be able to fit all the other pieces on – some serious pattern tetris was going on, I can tell you! I used the measurements I gleaned from making the first pair to know how much to shorten the legs by so the cuff would (hopefully) just hit the ground. It basically worked out, phew!

The other main different between this pair and the other is that I used piping – for the first time, no less! I bought ready made piping from my sewing shop (also years ago) and I might be tempted to make some myself next time as I couldn’t join the ends of the loops (on the hems and the sleeve cuffs) neatly. I don’t have a piping foot for my sewing machine either, so I just used my zip foot to get as close to the piping as possible. If I were to do loads of piping in the future maybe I’d invest in a piping foot but at the moment I don’t see that really happening!

The piping looks a little pink in the photos but it’s actually red and white striped, to match the bottoms of some of the boats – and what’s more nautical than read and white stripes with blue!? I also bought matching red buttons once the shops opened to match the piping and the hulls of the boats.

It’s quite tricky to show the piping on the trouser hems! Lol!

The only thing I think I would change if I made another pair of Carolyns would be to use a lighter weight of interfacing – I thought I used medium weight but it was just in my stash so it could have been heavy weight. Either way, with the slightly stiffer handle of this cotton (as opposed to a more cotton lawn feel on the other pair) the front edges are very stiff with the interfacing too. And it doesn’t stop the collar completely losing all shape once they’ve been slept in once but meh. What can you do?!

I’ll leave you with this photo of me cuddling my childhood teddy bear, Cutie. I have no idea why I called him that but he’s almost as old as me (I don’t know exactly when I got him but there’s a photo of me at age around 2 holding him) so I guess we’re both stuck with the name.

 

 

My First Pair of Carolyn Pyjamas

I’ve had the Carolyn Pyjamas pattern for aaaages and I’ve had 2 fabrics ready to be made into pairs for years and years. This first pair was made from some liberty cotton I bought on Goldhawk Road at a meetup ages ago – it was from one of those shops that sold liberty fabrics in 3m cut lengths.

When I bought this fabric I was much earlier in my sewing journey and I don’t know if I had a project in mind when I bought it. But in pre-washing it I, for some reason, decided to wash it with some bright pink fabric I was washing at the same time. So the background colour got died a very pale pink. It was pretty uniform so I kept it in my stash intending to make a practice version of the Carolyns so that I knew how they would fit before cutting into some other amazing fabric I had in my stash also ear-marked for Carolyns.

I made the size 8, based on my hip measurement as I figured I could bring in the waist a little more if needed since it’s just elasticated. I could maybe have sized down on the top (which is the same thing I realised about the Lakeside Pyjamas I made). But I don’t learn from my mistakes, apparently! 😂

This pattern is drafted for someone who is 5’6″ and I’m about 5’3″ or 5’4″ (I don’t actually know my height!) so I knew I would have to shorten the sleeves and legs. I particularly wanted to make a practice version of the Carolyns because I wanted the other version to have piping and you can’t really shorten the legs or arms once you’ve done that.

I had to take 13cm total off the legs so I cut off 11cm, leaving me a 2cm hem allowance; and I had to take off 9.5cm from the sleeves, cutting off 7.5cm leaving a 2cm hem allowance again.

I like the little pocket on the PJs. I finished sewing these near the middle of lockdown and had to wait for the shops to open to go and get matching buttons – very difficult to buy matching buttons online!

After sewing ALL THE JEANS, it was nice to sew some simple trousers, without a fastening! And I love that even though they’re pyjamas, that have pockets!

I think the instructions are pretty good, in case you’re worried about giving this pattern a go. The only slightly confusing thing is the construction of the facing and collar, but I did just about manage to get the hang of it both times. My tip would be cut out and sew everything as accurately as possible so that everything lines up as nicely as possible.

I have found since wearing both pairs in bed a few times that the collar gets really rucked up pretty quickly. I don’t know how to make the collar stay pressed open, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. For this pair I used a slightly lighter interfacing (and the fabric is lighter) and it keeps its shape better than the other pair, for what that’s worth.

 

I tried to take some photos of my jumping up and down on the bed. You are welcome.


I’ve really enjoyed having nice pyjamas for a change (I’d been wearing really old mismatched things before). It feels like a real luxury somehow! Have you made yourself pyjamas?