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!

Another Nancy Dress

Do you ever have projects that you cut out and then loads of things get made first and the project languishes in your ‘to make’  pile for months? I do. This is one such make.

I kind of felt like I had to make this Nancy Dress (Sew Over It) because I cut it out so long ago. Even though I don’t really wear dresses any more. Maybe I would if I didn’t live in such a shitty, cold country. I’m really grumpy about the weather at the moment, can you tell? I’m really fed up of being cold for 4-5 months of the year so the thought of actually wearing this dress at the moment makes me want to crawl up in a ball and wait to freeze to death.

Too dramatic?

Maybe I’ll be interested in wearing this in Spring/Summer for the 3 weeks when we actually have nice weather in the UK? I hope so as I do like the way the Nancy looks and feels to wear. I made another version in one of my favourite fabrics I’ve ever used but since I stopped working in an office, I don’t think I’ve worn it.

This is another viscose and I bought it so long ago I have absolutely no recollection of from where. I think a light, drapey fabric works really well for this pattern – though maybe something with more body would look cool too as the fullness of the skirt would hold its shape more.

A great bonus of this pattern is that there is no zip to fiddle with – it’s just a button (and I added a loop) at the top of the opening which allows you to get the dress on.

I made the straight size 10, as I did last time, with no changes. I have learnt from sewing for so long that I have a disproportionally small bust compared to my other measurements and having made things that end up tight on my arms /shoulders more times than I can count, I finally realise I should not pick sizes according to my bust measurement, but my hip and waist. Then if the pattern is fitted to a small bust adjustment – which I didn’t do here as the pattern is drafted with a lot of ease and it makes it a comfortable dress to wear.

I do love the fullness of the skirt!

I kind of forgot actually how comfortable dresses can be, especially to sit in. I love all the jeans I’ve made but if I’m spending a day sitting at my sewing machine (for example!) then I won’t put them on as they’re not the best for long-term sitting in. This is an especially comfortable dress for lounging in as it’s so easy to wear.

I’ve only made two Sew Over It patterns and the Anderson Blouse I made got remade this Summer. I think like a lot of sewists, judging by general trends, I started off interested in more retro styles (especially the 60s) and then evolved into wanting to make more every day basics, realising that my lifestyle is more suited to jeans and shirts than beautifully fitted retro dresses so I’ve moved away from the pattern companies who have a more retro aesthetic. Having said that maybe the Nancy is a good mid-way point as it’s still comfortable for every day wear but I still enjoy the slight nod to the 60s.

I managed to catch an outtake of myself with a remote control on my camera – that takes real skill, if I say so myself!

 

 

Nancy Dress from Crowd Fabric

I know I say this all the time, but this really is one of my favourite makes. If I say so myself, it was a good combination of fabric and pattern – and I love the pattern! It’s the Sew Over It Nancy Dress, which was I think the first pattern they released as part of their PDF club in January last year. The fabric was from Fabrics Galore and although I bought it ages ago, miraculously they still have it! There is a second colourway too. which is more blue and green. I made the size 10 based on my waist and hip measurements and since it’s a loose-fitting dress, I thought it would be okay that my bust measurement is about 2 inches smaller than listed for the size 10 and I think I was right. I’m glad I didn’t fiddle around trying to do a small bust adjustment!

I found the pattern quite simple to make, and even with my slightly inaccurate cutting because of the shifty fabric. The only fiddley part is adding the side panels in as there is a square corner, but the instructions talk you through how to do it and it worked out fine.

I like the fact that there isn’t a zip or any buttonholes in this dress. It just has a hook and eye at the top of the opening on the back. I used one from the old sewing box I bought from our local antiques shop, but it was a bad choice as it doesn’t stay closed. I think I need a smaller, tighter hook that will stay in its eye. Of course I finished this in November and still haven’t fixed this issue! I just put a safety pin on it! Anyone else do this – once something is finished and wearable, I can’t be bothered to fix it?! The trousers I altered in 2016 were missing a button until about 3 weeks ago!

I really love the swingy shape of this dress – and I’ve got loads of compliments on it each time I’ve worn it. I even wore it on Christmas Day! It was supposed to be my birthday dress but I didn’t get it finished in time so I wore my yellow Marianne dress instead on that day. I’ve already got another Nancy cut out from some viscose I bought ages and ages ago because I really like it as a comfortable but smart-looking work dress. I might sew the sleeves with a reduced seam allowance as that’s the only place that could be slight improved –  things are always tight on the sleeves on me and I don’t know why. I don’t think I have disproportionately big arms compared to the rest of me, but perhaps I do!

I tried to do some twirling to show the movement of the dress, but it didn’t really work – I think I should have filmed it and made a GIF (I say this as though I would know how to do this!).

This is definitely one of my favourite dresses – the only downside with viscose is it needs ironing and creases quite easily while worn but it’s worth it for the lovely drape. Do you have any favourite fabrics to sew with?

I didn’t have any funny outtakes from this photoshoot so I thought I’d share this ‘real’ photo of what I looked like before I took the other photos – in a warm jumper and slippers.

Btw, I forgot to mention it in my plans for 2018 post but one of my resolutions is to try to take better photos of my me-made outfits – I want to try to venture outside and maybe try different poses! I just need to magically become unselfconscious! If you have any tips for taking photos of yourself, please let me know!

 

 

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?!

 

 

October Makes and November Plans

October was a fairly productive month for me, mostly because I had last week off work and used most of my time off as a sew-cation, with a couple of days doing fun stuff for The Boyfriend’s and my birthdays (which are 8 days apart).

My first finished make was my coral  Sew Over It Anderson Blouse.  I think the fabric might have been a little on the thick side for the pattern, but I do like it and I love the colour – I need more coral clothes in my life.

I also managed to finish 2 of the dresses I had planned to make – my yellow geometric patterned Marianne Dress and my black and white striped In The Folds Jersey Dress. They took one afternoon each – I love sewing with jersey!

My biggest project of the month, however, was my suit refashion for The Refashioners challenge. I juuust got it finished in time for the deadline, though I doubt turning a suit into a suit will be imaginative enough to win the amazing prize package! If you follow me on Instagram you will have already seen some photos of my refashion, and there will be a full post coming on Friday explaining all the changes I made so sorry if you get bored of seeing it over and over again! I’m pretty please with how it/they turned out, if I say so myself.

So now onto my plans for November. Are you getting as sick of me saying I’m going to make jeans as I am? It’s been a whole year! Maybe November will finally be the month!?

The Sew Over It Nancy Dress I planned last month is already partly made, so this is a little cheaty, but I hope to get it finished this month.

I’ve also cut out a couple more shirts as I find myself wanting to wear shirt more and more, so hopefully I’ll get my white Archer and my spotty Melilot finished too.

I think this should be enough to keep me going!

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