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!

 

 

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!

 

 

Crepe Mercury Trousers

As I mentioned in my Summer sewing plans post, one of the garments I wanted to make was some Marilla Walker MercuryTrousers made from this lovely Crepe from Sew Over It. Although I’m blogging only blogging them now, I did make them in early September when the weather was still sort of warm, but I maybe won’t get much wear out of them until next Spring.

But I do love them! And the pattern was really easy to assemble, especially because there’s no fly or buttons – they’ve got an elasticated waist so they’re easy to fit too. I made the size 2, based mainly on my waist measurement because there’s a lot of ease at the hips.

These trousers have excellent deep pockets – now I make my own clothes, I’ve realised my ready to wear trousers (the few I still have left) generally have pockets so small I can’t get even my hand in them, let alone anything else I might want to carry round.

Having said that this pattern was  easy to make, that was definitely true but I made a really stupid mistake. I had been ironing cotton immediately before ironing the centre front seam and I didn’t adjust the heat setting and melted a hole in the top of the trousers, right in the middle. I’m not going to lie, I threw a little tantrum over it and stopped sewing for a while until I’d calmed down, thinking I’d ruined some not-very-cheap-fabric.

But when I’d calmed down and had a think, I realised I could just essentially chop the top off by sewing the waistband on further down the trousers than the pattern called for. In the end I only lost 2cm and I think the trousers turned out fine – the rise was high enough on me that the adjustment didn’t give me a wedgie!

I made the view with the pleats and the cuffs on the bottom, but in these photos I’ve folded the calf up because the trousers are a little long on my, but I really like them and I definitely think I’ll make them again. I really like the wide-legged view too, and I think a pair in some lovely linen for next Summer would be perfect! I also really like the top that comes in the Mercury Collection, so I might give that a go when it warms up a bit too.

I think this might be my favourite ever outtake by the way. You. Are. Welcome.


Have you made the Mercury Trousers? Or do you have a favourite relaxed fit trouser pattern?

 

 

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!