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!

Denim Roberts Dungarees

This is defo one of my favourite lockdown makes! I’ve made lots of jeans (soon to come to the blog) but for lounging around the house, which I’ve been doing since March, these are fast becoming a go-to which I reach for!

This is, of course, the Marilla Walker Roberts Dungarees. I have made them before, in mustard corduroy and I also wear those loads! I made the size 2 and didn’t bother with the mini button placket on the left hand side as I sewed it shut on the corduroy ones anyway and I find there’s enough ease for me to get them on and off without the opening.

The denim is the same fabric I used for my first pair of Dawn Jeans and was a present from my friend, from her mother-in-law’s stash. She sent me almost 4m so it was enough for jeans, these dungarees and a Cleo! Love it when you can make ALL THE THINGS, especially as this denim is nice and soft.

With my other pair of Roberts Dungarees I made a permanent turn-up but with these I took up a 7cm hem and can fold up a turn-up (which stays) or not as the mood takes me.

I particularly like the shape of these dungarees from the side and the back.

I’m definitely living my best adult toddler life in these dungarees!

Instead of adding buttons (I used jeans buttons on my other pair, I made button holes on the body of the dungarees big enough to get the straps through – luckily these straps are pretty thin. I then just tie the straps through the buttons holes, kind of like the Lucy and Yak dungarees I see everywhere online. I would maybe make the straps a little longer if I did this again.

I again added the chest pocket (stolen from the Cleo dungaree dress) as it’s just so useful! Particularly for listening to podcasts while I’m sewing/walking around the flat!

I did the traditional jeans-style top-stitching on these to highlight all of the design details and to make them more like jeans.

I used this nice white with blue cotton as the lining for the bib front. It’s actually from an old Aster shirt I made (which I literally never wore!) which I was planning to refashion for ages and never got around to so I cut it up for this and for pocket linings.

Have you been sewing comfortable lockdown clothes while we’ve been in quarantine? I’ve been sewing a mixture so I’ve got stuff to wear when I have to go out into the world and can’t just sit around my house any more!


 

Anderson Blouse refashion

About 2 1/2 years ago I made this Anderson Blouse from some beautiful coral crepe from Guthrie and Ghani. At the time I was working in an office and imagined myself wearing all these nice smart clothes.

That job lasted less than 18 months then I went to work in a fabric shop, then I changed again (I know!) to work in a bookshop. Both of these jobs did/do not require smart officey clothes and I knew I had made a bad choice of fabric/pattern combo when I made this – the fabric is too spongey and thick for the drapey style of the blouse.

But the fabric was too nice to waste, so I decided to refashion it into something a little more casual that I’ll get much more wear from.

I definitely think I’ll get so much more wear out of this Mercury top (by Marilla Walker) than I ever did of the previous incarnation! The Mercury collection is seriously such great value! You get trousers, with 2 views (which I’ve made here) and a top with 2 views, all for £7.50!

I had to cut the front and back pieces with seams (making sure to add seam allowance in place of the fold) because I had to make it work with the pieces of the old top and the scraps of the fabric I had left.

I decided to use the Mercury top pattern because I thought the little overlap at the back kind of echoed the wrap on the front of the Anderson blouse.

I like how the back drops down a bit further than the front – unless I messed up and it’s not supposed to!

I do think I slightly stretched out the neckline when I was sewing on the facing. I definitely should have stay-stitched the neckline as soon as I cut it out, before sewing anything!

 

 

The lack of fabric meant that the sleeves are actually basically the original sleeves from the Anderson, but I did reshape the top of the sleeve with the Mercury pattern piece so the sleeve would fit in the new armscye. It actually looks pretty much like it’s supposed it, the sleeves are just a little narrower than the pattern calls for.

I made the size 2 with no fitting adjustments, apart from the fabric requirement changes. I maybe could have sized down a size, looking at the pictures, though I like looser fitting tops.

I decided to top stitch the seam allowances down on the front and back seams to echo the top stitching on the back, which is actually written into the instructions. It also means the seam allowance is flattened (and sewn down) where there shouldn’t actually be a seam!

Have you ever refashioned a me-made garment? I’ve done it a few times now (mostly in Alter It August), and I find it really satisfying to make something I’ll get more wear out of. Especially if the fabric was expensive, which lets face it, it mostly is!

 

 

Alter It August-ish

Back in August there was an Instagram challenge (I can’t remember who ran it, sorry!) to alter the homemade items languishing in our wardrobes so they all could get a new lease of life.

I thought I would do a little round-up of the things I altered – I didn’t realise it would take me this long to get around to it, but oh well.  I’ve also altered a couple of things since August so I’ll share them too!

The first change was a super easy one – these are my Mercury Trousers before:

You probably can’t really tell what was wrong with these, but basically the elastic in the waste band wasn’t tight enough so the trousers just didn’t feel secure, so I never wore them.

It was such a stupidly simple alteration, I should have done it ages ago, but at least it’s done now, and I did them in time to wear them during the Summer quite a bit.

Another easy alteration, and basically the same one as for the Mercury Trousers was to take in the waste of my Portobello Trousers:

You can kind of tell in the before photo, above, that the waist has a bit of ease, but this was made worse by my previous job working in an upholstery fabric shop, which involved lifting 20kg rolls of fabric all day every day, so I ended up losing an inch from my waist and hips (so most of my trousers are now too big).

Again, this took, like 10 minutes and meant that I had another great pair of trousers to wear in the warmer months.

A slightly more involved alteration was this coco top that I made a couple of years ago and basically never wore because the neckline ended up really stretched out and I think the fit looked funny in such a lightweight fabric – also I have a long torso and this top just emphasised that!

So I chopped 9cm off the bottom of the top, leaving a 1cm hem allowance. I used this offcut to make a neckband, which I made 6cm shorter than the unpicked neckline, which turned out to be a good guess! The neckband was 1.5cm wide (I wrote myself notes and I don’t know if this means it was 1.5cm once folded in half or not – I think when folded in half.)

This alteration took maybe half an hour and I ended up wearing the top loads in the warmer weather – and there are some blues in the pattern which perfectly match the portbello trousers, win win! A whole new outfit with very little effort!

And now onto the items I’ve refashioned/altered since the end of Alter It August. I was looking at my wardrobe, and realised I almost never wear any of my dresses – especially now I work in a bookshop, I would feel very overdressed compared with how most people dress. I love the 2 scuba ebony dresses I made (blue, gold) – well I loved the fabric – but I realised I would get much more wear out of them as tops, so I spent a couple of hours measuring them to the length of the top version of the ebony, cutting the skirt off and hemming them into tops.

I’ve already worn both of them twice, so I definitely made the right decision!


The last item I’ve recently refashioned/altered is my chestnut sweatshirt. I know the lovely main feature of this pattern is the tie detail in the back, but I made a bad choice of fabric for my ties – I used a cotton, and not a jersey. I also always felt a bit cold in it, even though the fabric is a really thick sweat shirting, because of the gap in the back.

So I unpicked the back facing, removing the ties and cut a semi-circle to fill the gap, stitching it in place and restitching the hem on the neckline.

The piece I cut maybe makes me look a little like I have a hump, but I much prefer the filled in back and I think I’ll get lots of wear from this sweatshirt now it’s pretty cold again in the UK.

So here is my little collection of refashioned me-mades and I’ve got several new items to add into regular rotation in my wardrobe.

Do you ever alter things once they’re finished? Or do you, like me, tend to move onto the next new pattern instead of making a tiny change to an already finished make?
 

Roberts Dungarees of Dreams

After making my Roberts dungaree dress, I realised I wanted to make the dungaree version…….and it only took me 2 years to realise my dreams!

As with the dress I made the size 2 and the only alterations I made were to add a pocket on the bib, which I stole from the Tilly and the Buttons Cleo pattern, and to make a turn up/cuff at the bottom. I used a tutorial from Amy Nicole Studio for how to do this – I think she’s a bit short like me, so it’s a useful tutorial if trouser legs end up a bit long! And luckily I love how they look!

If it looks like the side of the bib is sitting a bit funny under my left arm, it’s because that’s the side that has poppers on, to get in and out of the dungarees, and I was so desperate to wear these that I just safety pinned the side closed, so it’s looking a bit weird. And actually I can easily get these on and off without undoing the safety pin so I may just sew the opening closed, rather than wasting poppers I don’t really need to use.

I really love the shape of the back on this pattern (even with one of the straps twisted!).

And pockets! You can never have enough pockets in my opinion. And the pockets were particularly useful when I wore these to help my in-laws move house (what better outfit for moving things that dungarees!) so I could hold all the keys and my phone and my lip balm!

The fabric was the last of the leftovers from my suit which I made for the Sewcialite Soiree (which I’d already made a Cleo from!). I could really go over the top in wearing mustard corduroy now!

I used a couple of jeans buttons left over from my Morgan Jeans button kit for the buttons and they did keep popping off until I really, really hammered them on. There is quite a lot of strain on those 2 buttons, like the whole weight of the dungarees, so they do need to be securely on.

If I made these again (and I really want another pair) I think I might go full on Lucy and Yak and make loops on the bib to tie the ties onto. I think I’d have to lengthen the ties too, to give enough length to be able to tie them on.

As well as the left over corduroy, I had some of the birdy cotton lawn I used to line the jacket with, so I lined the bib and the pockets of these with it. I love those secret details, that other people don’t necessarily notice, but I know is there.

I think dungarees was one of those trends that I wasn’t too sold on when it first came back into fashion – though I had a pair of dungarees I absolutely loved and lived in when I was a young teenager! I feel like sometimes it takes me a while to decide if I would actually like a particular garment in my wardrobe – and I don’t want to spend ages (and money on fabric) making something only to realise it’s not my style and I don’t want to wear it. But I’m really glad I jumped on the dungaree bandwagon when I did!

Are there any trends you think aren’t for you, then 6 months or a year down the line you decide maybe you do like it?