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!

Houndstooth Richmond Blazer

When I was thinking of making my suit for the Sewcialite Soiree, Nina Lee mentioned that she was releasing a jacket pattern. It was released later than made it possible for using it for that jacket, but I snapped it up as soon as she did release the Richmond, so that I could make a copy of this jacket Claire Foy wore.

I was on the lookout for the right fabric for ages. I eventually settled on this fabric from Minerva Crafts. I also bought the lining from Minerva. The scale of the houndstooth is obviously smaller than on Claire’s jacket but it still kind of works. The fabric is super synthetic, though, so I probably wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone else as it’s difficult to iron into shape.

I made the size 8 and didn’t make any fitting changes as it’s drafted to be a relatively loose fit. The sleeves are a little tighter than I anticipated, though, so I definitely wouldn’t get a thick jumper underneath – not that I was planning on that anyway.

The pattern has 2 welt pockets, with pocket flaps and the instructions were really clear – so if you’ve ever struggled with this before, you won’t struggle with this pattern.

I think if I made another jacket, I would use this pattern rather than the Joe Blazer (which I made for the suit) as I prefer the way it fits. I also made the super wide lapels, which I liked for the suit, but I think I like the lapels on the Richmond better.

It doesn’t look like it, but I have pressed all the seams and the collar but it doesn’t really look like it – this is because of the super synthetic fabric.

I didn’t bother adding buttons or buttonholes as I figured I wouldn’t wear it done up. I might change my mind once I start wearing it though. I think I’d go for black buttons like in the inspiration pic.

I thought about putting some shoulder pads into this jacket to add a bit more structure but the fabric is quite drapey and it’s meant to be a slouchy fit so I decided against it. I do kinda want to make a proper tailored jacket with shoulder pads and stuff one day though.

I’m hoping to get a lot of wear out of this jacket once Spring finally arrives, as an alternative to a jumper or cardigan.

Sewing another jacket has also made me kinda want to make another suit…..

Have you made a jacket/blazer?

 

 

Blue Cupro Portobello Trousers

I first want to apologise for the blurry photos – I’ve tried to photograph these trousers 3 times and these are the best of the bunch! Roll on Spring so I can go outside again.

I actually made these trousers back in October when it wasn’t as cold as it is now – I think these will have to wait until it warms up again next year as cupro isn’t the thickest of fabrics, but I think these will be great Spring/Summer trousers.

I made the size 10, the same as for my Carnaby Dress but if I make them again I will take them in a little at the waist as there is a bit more ease there than I like.

The cupro was from a random online shop and I ordered it as a possible lining for my Honetone coat, but it was too dull for the bright blue in the wool. But I knew I would use the fabric for something else – and here we are! It’s funny how now quite a few of the indie fabric shops are stocking cupro, but in January last year I couldn’t find many online shops selling it at all. It’s definitely a fabric I would use again – it’s nice and soft and has a lovely drape. I think it was a good choice for the Portobello trousers because the pleats on the front ended up nice and flat, without adding too much bulk.

I have a memory of taking quite a lot of length off the legs of the trousers, but annoyingly I didn’t write down how much – so if I make them again I’ll have to do the trial and error all over again. I wanted them slightly cropped, sitting just on top of shoes, as I don’t like trousers dragging on the floor these days. I don’t know if this length makes me look shorter, though? I have short legs proportionally to my torso and I’m only 5’3″ so I’m not sure what would be the best trouser length for me, but I’m also not sure how much I care about what length I ‘should’ wear – I can make trousers in any length I choose! 😀

I love how deep the pockets are. That’s definitely one of the best things about sewing your own clothes – you don’t have to put up with the tiny pockets you get in rtw trousers. I have a pair of black trousers from New Look years and years ago and I can get my hands in the pockets only to my knuckles. Ridiculous!

I have to say I’ve been impressed with both Nina Lee patterns I’ve made so far. The drafting is good and they fit me relatively well straight out of the packet. She has teased a jacket pattern coming soon and I think that will definitely be one I’ll be buying and making next year!

Have you made any Nina Lee patterns?

 

 

Art Deco Carnaby Dress

This is my first – and no doubt last – Nina Lee Carnaby Dress and I love it! This was one of my planned Summer makes and I did make it last month, but just as the weather started to turn a bit chiller. Hopefully I will get some wear out of it with tights and a cardigan in this Autumnal weather. I do slightly wish I’d made it without sleeves so I can wear it with a long-sleeved top underneath for extra warmth, but c’est la vie!

And it has pockets! I really like how they’re hidden in the hem seam.

The fabric is some lovely cotton from Sew Over It, which they sadly don’t have any more. In fact I got the last metre and a half/ 2 hours (I can’t remember which). When I first saw the fabric, I thought it would make great pyjamas, but they didn’t have enough left for the Carolyn Pyjamas.

I made the size 10 and the only change I made was to use an invisible zip instead of the exposed one called for in the pattern. I also spent ages trying to pattern match across the back seam and on the pocket seams but it didn’t seem to work as well as I’d hoped. I managed to just about get it to look matched across the back, if not perfectly centred.

The pocket seam is almost hidden, but again, not as well as I’d hoped. I think I just need a bit more practice at doing it – I haven’t done much pattern matching before, so I’m not the best at it!

I really do like this fabric – there will be lots of colours of tights and cardigans I can wear with it. And it was a pretty quick make. This was my first Nina Lee pattern (I have plans to make the Portobello trousers before the year is out) and I’m impressed. The drafting seems to be good – often I find sleeves and shoulder seams really tight, but this fits and is comfortable right out of the packet. The instructions were also really clear and easy to follow. Next time I might do the exposed zip she recommends as the instructions for that seemed really clear too. I would definitely recommend this if you’re relatively new to sewing, or if you want a quick make that will give you a really chic dress.

With this and my jungle print laurel, I have definitely rediscovered my love of the simple shift dress.

p.s. I might keep my eyes open for anyone selling more of this fabric as I would still like some really chic pyjamas – let me know if you see it anywhere!

 

 

Summer 2018 Sewing Plans

Since I’ve been writing fewer posts, and sewing at a slower pace, it seemed silly to write monthly posts outlining my sewing plans, so I’ve decided to do it seasonally instead.

Apparently in the UK we are going to experience a 3-month long heat wave, which some people would call ‘Summer’ but that’s not a normal Summer for us – usually it’s warm for a week or two, then cold again for weeks. So since it’s going to be consistently warm for a couple of months, I need some clothes to keep me feeling cool.

My first plan is to make an Acton Dress, probably out of this turquoise viscose I bought online ages ago. I slightly went off is as soon as it arrived, but I’m digging the idea of a floaty Summer dress. I don’t know which view of the pattern to make either, yet.

My other option of fabric for the Acton is this blue cupro which I originally ordered as a lining for my coat, but which was too dull a shade of blue to work with the wool.

But I’ll probably use the curpro for a pair of Nina Lee Portobello trousers. I think it will be perfect for a Summer pair of trousers.

And speaking of Nina Lee, I’ve got plans for a Carnaby Dress made from this deco-ish style fabric from Sew Over It. I bought the fabric on a total whim, because it was almost sold out, and I’m so glad I did! I’ve already got this dress cut out, so hopefully I will actually get this one made. And I can probably wear it with tights and a cardigan in the Winter too.

And speaking of shift dresses, I’m giving the Colette Laurel another go, with the ruffled sleeves, which I now like, a year after they were in fashion! I made a couple of Laurels a few years ago but I got rid of them both as they were a bit snug and uncomfortable, so I’ve gone up either one or 2 sizes, I can’t remember which.

My final Summer dress plan is for this turquoise cotton drill (I think) Inari Tee dress. I actually cut this out last year and never got around to making it, so fingers crossed it happens this year. The fabric is years old – I bought it on one of my first trips to Goldhawk Road, when I knew very little about fabric.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t plan to make another shirt. I bought this peach skin from Fabric Godmother a couple of months ago and I think it would make a great Blaire Shirt by Style Arc. I might try to play with the direction of the pattern in the fabric, given that the seam lines are begging for it, though stripes would work better. Maybe the next one!

One thing I definitely want to make time to sew is a kimono from this Simplicity pattern I got free with a sewing magazine, I think Love Sewing. I have this lovely cotton lawn from Sew Me Sunshine, which I snapped up as soon as she got it in stock because I had tried to buy it last year but everyone was out of stock. I think this will be the perfect Summer cover up for when it does get a bit chillier.

Another buy from Sew Over It is this navy blue checked crepe, which I think will be the perfect fabric for a pair of Mercury trousers.

If you’re still reading at this point, you may be thinking that this is a lot of things to make for a Summer which has already started, and you’re probably right – I wouldn’t be surprised if this Salle Jumpsuit gets bumped again to next year. It’s already been sitting around, cut out, for a year, with the Inari Tee Dress.

I’m going to end this post with a plea – what can I do with this beautiful crepe (I think) from Sew Over It? It has a gorgeous drape, but I don’t want to make another dress as I already have probably too many planned as it is. I fear it is too jazzy for me to reasonably wear as trousers, so maybe some kind of top? I’ve got 2m. Suggestions very welcome!