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 makeĀ  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!

Blaire Shirt (I have a shirt-making problem!)

I’m pretty sure I kinda said I was done making shirts a while ago (though I think I acknowledged that I had 2 more planned…..this is one of the 2. And then I’m really going to stop, honest!

I’d kinda forgotten about the Blaire pattern (as I was on a Kalle- and Archer-making kick most recently) but I really like it! I’ve made it once before, in peachskin, which is really quite a sweaty fabric so I don’t wear it as much as I could. But I think this one will get loads of wear (once the weather is warm enough for short sleeves (with or without a cardigan).

I again made the size 8 without any fitting changes, though I did leave off the underneath panel which I added last time (I’m still not entirely sure whether the different bottom panels are interchangeable or meant to be used together, and Style Arc’s instructions have to be the sparsest in the business, even more so than the big 4). I did this because my fabric was very limited – I bought I think 3 separate remnants of it from Guthrie and Ghani at the Sewing Bee Live. I knew I would be pushing it to be able to make much but I’m glad I managed to squeeze out all the pieces for this shirt, though I obviously couldn’t fully pattern match but I don’t think it’s too obvious.

I love the little peek of skin on the side from the shape of the side seam – and wearing it with my high-waisted black dawn jeans, the peek isn’t too much for what I’m comfortable with!

As I mentioned before, although the instructions are very limited, this is a slightly simpler shirt pattern than, say, the Archer or Kalle as there is no back yoke – so you don’t have to wrestle with a burrito! And there are no cuffs/ sleeve plackets. So if you’re looking for an easier shirt to try for your first one this could be a good choice. Though I would also really recommend the Archer as the instructions are excellent and there’s a full sewalong on the Grainline blog, including some videos for the trickier parts.

I used plain black buttons which I had in my stash, and I’m amazed how well they seem to blend in in these photos!

Do you have a particular garment that you can’t stop making? I don’t know why I’ve made so many shirts! I’ve got a white Melilot made (I just need to photograph it) and then I really am don’t for a while! I think I might love shirts because often the kinds of fabrics I’m drawn to, I think ‘that would make a great shirt’ if it’s a woven – because I don’t really wear dresses that much and making a plain tee would be less interesting somehow (though I’ve also got loads of those thanks to my Inari binge over the Summer).


 

Black and Cream Spotty Melilot

I’ve made another Melilot – I’ve made a long-sleeved and a short-sleeved version before – and I still love this pattern. And shirts in general – hence my plan this month to make a Closet Case Patterns Kalle.

I made the size 38, as I have both times before and the fabric is this lovely cream cotton with black spots on from Sew Over It. Sadly they don’t have it in stock any more. I ordered it online a few months ago – I tend to order a bunch of fabrics at once and then it takes me probably 6 months to sew through it all!

I decided to make another long-sleeved version because this Winter seems to be going on forever! And I figured I could wear it with a jumper or cardigan in the Winter and then without in the Spring – here in the UK we don’t get very much Summer where I want sleeveless/short-sleeved tops so I hope this will be a good addition to my wardrobe which will get a lot of wear.

Probably my favourite thing about this pattern is the shape of the hem and how it goes up at the sides and is lower at the back than the front. I just think it’s really flattering.

I think I messed up the collar a bit. Well I know that I did. I stitched the collar stand to the collar too early and had already trimmed the seam allowance, then had to unpick it and stitch it again so I think something got a bit pulled out of shape. So the 2 sides of the collar are closer together in the middle than on my other versions and while it doesn’t look really terrible, I notice it. #SewingPerfectionist

Looking at these photos, the buttons are maybe a little big compared to the size of the spots but I quite like them anyway. I sneakily stole them from the Dressmaker’s Ball last year as they were sprinkled on the table as cute sewing-themed decorations. Luckily I nabbed enough for a whole shirt!

One of my favourite things about making shirts is all the top-stitching. It’s so satisfying when you do it neatly in the first go – and it forces me to slow down, which is always a good thing I think. There’s no point rushing for the sake of it and then having to re-do things multiple times – less haste, more speed as they say.

As well as messing up the collar slightly, I totally messed up the cuffs. I remember finding the instructions for the plackets a little confusing and I found them equally confusing this time – in fact you might argue I found them more confusing given that they ended up fastening the wrong way – from back to front instead of front to back. It’s not a massive problem that renders the shirt unwearable, and I’m sure no-one will really notice, but it’s a shame I didn’t realise my mistake until I’d already sewn (and cut) the buttonholes. Oh well.

I think my next version of the Melilot will be another short-sleeved version, so I avoid the issues with the placket!

 

 

December & January Makes and February Plans

I haven’t done one of these planning posts for a couple of months, but I want to get back into the routine so I’ll be more mindful and thoughtful in my sewing. December wasn’t super productive for me, what with Christmas and everything. I think I technically finished my New Craft House Party dress in December, though made most of it in November.

I did make the only 2 presents I successfully made in December – I also made another moss skirt for my sister, but it didn’t fit her because I forgot that the last time I made it, I reduced the seam allowances. I did make 2 Mini Chestnuts for my friend’s daughter and this Harry Potter tote bag for a secret santa present. The tote bag might have actually sneaked into January – I’m sure I’m not the only one who loses track of time over Christmas and New Year!

My first make of 2018 was my Chestnut sweater, which I blogged earlier this week. I really do love it! You can read about how much and the gorgeous snuggly sweatshirting I used in the post.

I also made 2 Ebony dresses from 2 different scubas and I love them both! And they’re really quick to run up.

I made half of a linden sweatshirt, but I was using a not very stretchy ponte for the sleeves, the neckband, cuffs and hem band but it wasn’t anywhere near stretchy enough to work for the neckband so I put it to one side and started on another project. I’ll probably finish it off this weekend.

And finally last month I made most of this spotty melilot shirt, which I’ve been planning to make for a few months I think. I’ve just got the collar stand to stitch down and topstitch, and then the buttons and button holes. I really do like shirt making, it’s so satisfying when all the pieces come together and you get to do some lovely topstitching!

So onto my plans for February. I’m going to finish the melilot and linden, hopefully in a single morning. Then my main plan is to make a coat – my first proper coat. I refashioned a coat a couple of years ago but there was none of the structure you actually need in a coat, the lining is just cotton and rolls to the outside of the coat because there is no facing.

As per my #2018MakeNine the pattern I’m going to use is Marilla Walker’s Honetone Coat.

The fabric I’ve got is some lovely electric blue and black wool I bought from Barry’s fabrics at Sew Brum. I don’t have any lining fabric yet – I want it to be the electric blue colour but I haven’t found anything I like so far. I also don’t really know what kind of fabric would work well as a coat lining – I don’t want to use that cheap acetate lining fabric. Any ideas of a good coat lining, I would be greatly appreciative!

I think this is the least I’ve ever planned for one month, but I want to take my time with the coat so it’s something I can wear for a long time and in cold weather – I might try to underline it with thinsulate or fleece or something. Again any tips gratefully received!

 

 

November Makes and December Plans

November has been a quite quiet month for me sewing-wise. I only finished 2 things, though one of them was a shirt and I like taking my time with shirts to make sure all the top-stitching is all neat and lovely. And this white Archer shirt definitely contains some of the neatest topstitching I’ve ever done. I really took my time because this was the really nice quality fabric I bought at the Great British Sewing Bee Live, plus I discovered it marked a bit when pinned and a lot when unpicked so I made sure to unpick as little as possible! The eagle-eyed reader may spot I haven’t sewn on the buttons yet – that’s for this evening in front of the tv!

My other finished item in November is possibly my favourite thing I’ve ever made – and I’ve had a lot of compliments each time I’ve worn it. I think it might be one of my best instances of matching pattern and fabric. It’s my first Sew Over It Nancy Dress. I signed up to the PDF club because of this pattern and it’s the only one I’ve bought this whole year!

I’m going to try to be as realistic as possible about how many things I’m likely to make in December, and I’ve come up with 2-3, though I know I won’t get them all finished! One thing I do have to finish, though, is my dress for New Craft House’s Winter Party next weekend. One of my friends at work gave me this dress which doesn’t fit her and it doesn’t fit me either, so I’ve unpicked it and am planning to make it into a By Hand London Sophia Dress. I’ve muslined it once and have made some tweaks, so just need to make a second muslin to check the new fit, then hopefully I can get cracking!

The other thing I’m hoping to get finished is this spotty melilot shirt. I cut it out a while ago, so I just need to get cracking.

I’ve got one or two Christmas presents I want to make, too, so it’s going to be a busy month! Plus I haven’t started any of my shopping yet! Does anyone else like Christmas but find the lead up to it a bit stressful and overwhelming?!