A Review of 2016

As it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d have a look back at the sewing I’ve managed to complete this year. Some of it hasn’t made it to the blog yet, but this year I have made:

(non-clothes)
2 Quiet Books
1 Appliqued Cushion
1 Internet Meme Cushion (which was my favourite non-garment I’ve made this year)

Internet Meme cushion

(clothes)
3 Shirts (2 Archers [1,2] and a Melilot)
6 Tops (3 Cocos [1,2,3], a Plantain, an Astoria and a Hemlock)
2 Jackets (both made with dresses, for a Christening and a Wedding)
1 Skirt
2 Pairs of Pyjamas
6 Dresses (1 from a Vintage Pattern, a Rushcutter, a Drapey Knit Dress, a Lace Emery/Elisalex mash-up, an Alix Dress and a not-yet-blogged Jersey Dress)
I’ve also made 3 skirts for my sister and am making a 4th and possibly 5th in the next week or so, so I make that 23 garments in total! That’s definitely the most things I’ve made in any year since I started sewing clothes in 2013! To compare I made 14 things in 2013, 13 in 2014 and 11 in 2015. It definitely helped to take a couple of months off work this year!

I’m going to round-up my favourite and most-worn makes of the year in a bit more detail.

My Rushcutter by In The Folds was one of my most worn garments this year – and definitely my most-worn dress. I love the loose fit, but it feels flattering at the same time. And I’ve discovered it’s perfect for layering with a long-sleeved top underneath when it’s cold. I think I need to make this pattern again in the new year!

Navy Spotty Rushcutter DressMy other most-worn dress was my #SewDots Drapey Knit Dress (from the 3rd GBSB book). This could have beaten out my Rushcutter if I’d made it earlier in the year! Again, I think I need one or two more of these in my wardrobe – but probably made from a more stretchy jersey as the sleeves on this one are a bit snug. It’s another good one for layering, too.

#SewDots GBSB Drapey Knit DressMy 2 Cocos (1,2) with funnel necks were pretty successful makes from this year, though I haven’t worn them since the weather has really got cold. They are probably the things I get the most compliments on too, which is nice!

Turquoise Coco Top with Funnel neckI’ve definitely got quite a lot of wear out of the 3 shirts I’ve made this year. For some reason I feel like my blue spotty Archer isn’t smart enough for work, so I tend to wear that more at weekends, but the other Archer and my Melilot are perfect for work, so I think it would be good to make some more shirts in 2017.

Blue Spotty Archer Button UpMy 2 probably favourite makes are the 2 party dresses I made, though of course, I haven’t worn them very much – but we all need a couple of occasion dresses, don’t we? The lace frankenpattern dress I made for a wedding in May was my most liked make on Instagram and I do love it so! I need more parties to go to so I can wear this again……

Wedding-Outfit-11And my most recently blogged make, my By Hand London Alix Dress, is my other favourite. It’s a bit of a different style for me – more 70s than 60s as I’m normally drawn to – but I do love it! Again, it’s not really the kind of thing I can wear down to Tescos…….

Bright Pink Viscose Alix Maxi Dress - By Hand LondonAnd now onto my couple of unsuccessful makes…..(quite proud there are only a couple!)

By the time I’d finished my 2 sets of Lakeside pyjamas, and we’d moved into a very cold flat, the weather was definitely NOT warm enough to wear these. Boo! Hopefully we’ll have a warm Summer in 2017 so I can break these babies out!

Teal Lakeside PajamasMustard Lakeside Pajamas

The other thing(s) I made which have only got one wear is my Vintage Pledge outfit I made for a Christening in April. I didn’t really feel comfortable in it on the day beacuse the fit of the dress is pretty off. I made it with no fitting changes, knowing the pattern was probably a size too big for me. Also I made it in a probably too stiff fabric, so it looks even worse fitting – if it had been a more drapey fabric, perhaps it would have been more forgiving?

Vintage Pledge Christening Outfit - 1960s Vintage Dress and Coat

I thought I might have got some wear out of the coat in the spring, but it didn’t happen. Maybe Spring 2017? Now I work in a fairly smart office, maybe I wouldn’t look so overdressed in a long jacket?

Vintage Pledge Christening Outfit - 1960s Vintage Dress and CoatOn a side-note, I failed in my Vintage Pledge to make 3 garments/outfits from my vintage patterns. I made these 2 and then I think I lost heart because they didn’t fit well. Next year I will have another go, but I’ll treat them like any other pattern, I’ll trace it and make a toile and make sure I end up with something wearable.

On a personal note 2016 has been ………interesting.

It was definitely a year of change:

  • The Boyfriend and I quit our jobs in London in January and packed up our flat to move across the country to Cirencester to live with his parents – thank god they let us stay with them! I have no idea how people move to different areas of the country if they don’t have someone they can stay with.
  • I spent a couple of months (from March to June) not working, which was nice in one way – I got lots of sewing done – but the stress of not being able to find work slightly ruined this period. Also I pretty much spent all the money I’d saved to move with.
  • I got a permanent job and started on August 1st – I’d forgotten what it’s like to be the new person at work and it took a couple of months to settle in. It’s also weird when you don’t have other friends as work friends seem more important and then when you don’t know them yet it feels a bit crap!
  • The Boyfriend and I got our own little flat (though it’s bigger than our one in London was!) and we moved in a week after I started my job! It’s definitely feeling like home, though I have a couple of things I’d like to sort out. I might post some photos on here one day, once I like everything……so probably never!

This year is the first year I’ve made some IRL sewing friends! Yay! I went to the #SewBrizzle meet up back in the Summer and there were a couple of us from more my neck of the woods, so we have met up for dinner twice so far. It’s sooooo nice to talk to people about sewing who know what you’re talking about! It’s lovely to get compliments on things I’ve made from non-sewers, but there aren’t many people with whom I can have an in-depth conversation, or even say the name of the pattern and have them know what I’m talking about!

I feel like the elephant in the room of my run-down of my 2016 is what has happened to my sister. For those of you that didn’t read my post about it, in August my sister got a DVT in her leg, which was very very swolen and purple. She went to the local hospital, who sent her away with blood thinners. 3 days later when she went back for her check up, they rushed her by ambulance to Addenbrookes hospital because it was clear the circulation had been cut off in her leg. The doctors spent 2 days trying to get the circulation going again – it turns out they were really trying to save her knee as when circulation has been cut off for more than about 4 hours, they’re fighting a losing battle. So on 25th August she had her left leg amputated above her knee. They spent the next couple of weeks while she was in hospital trying to work out why she had all these clots and it turned out it was lung cancer, which is the most common kind of cancer. It had spread to 3 of her lymph nodes which means it can’t be removed surgically, but she is having chemotherapy – via tablets! Who knew what was a thing!? She had a scan check-up thingy in November and the tumour had shrunk, which is brilliant news obviously.

She now has a prosthetic leg, which is the swishiest one you get if you’re not a paralympian (that’s the only kind better than the one she has) and she’s already (after only just over a month) walking with only one crutch. And she was practicing walking with no crutches over Christmas so she should be able to walk and get about so no-one can tell that she has only one leg. This is her the day she got it:

phoebes-leg
And this is her favourite Christmas jumper:

phoebes-jumper

A morbid sense of humour is definitely a must when faced with this kind of crap!

And to add crapness to crapness, my sister is not the only member of my family currently with lung cancer 😦 A couple of years ago my Dad had one of his kidneys removed (4 days before Christmas!) because he had a tumour in it. For 2 years he went for his scans and got the all clear. But he had another scan – and got his results on the same day as my sister got her good news – and it turns out the cancer he had in his kidney has reappeared, but this time in his lung. He has been living with a rare degenerative brain disease called Corticobasal Degeneration (or CBD) for a number of years (I’ve lost track of exactly when he was diagnosed as he had clearly been suffering with it for a long time before they worked out what it was) and is now in a home as my mum is no longer able to look after him at home as his mobility is so reduced now. (If you want to read about CBD and the related condition Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or PSP, you can visit the PSP Association.) It might sound harsh, but I think it’s almost kinder that he might die quicker of cancer instead of the slow death from his brain disease, which will cause him to eventually be unable to swallow or communicate. He probably only had 2-5 years left anyway, so the cancer diagnosis may not make too much of a difference. He’s not strong enough for agressive treatment, so it remains to be seen what treatment he does have.

So, yeah, that’s my 2016. The first half of the year was okay, then everything seemed to go a little wrong, starting with Brexit. I won’t go into politics on here, but it feels like the world is shifting and we need to pay attention to the people who feel left behind or forgotten or ignored. My answer is to do what I enjoy doing and be nice to people. I think that’s all we can do in our little lives, really. Try to spread love and joy and happiness and hope that if enough of us do this, 2017 will be a better year.

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog and comments on it, I hope you get a bit of joy from my makes and posts. I hope to get more into a regular schedule of posting next year as I really like connecting with like-minded people online, and IRL.

 

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Make It: 15 Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

15 Homemade Christmas Present IdeasOn Saturday  the boyfriend and I went to see the Christmas lights being turned on in Cirencester and it was really lovely. We all sang a couple of carols then Ben Miller (or Armstrong and Miller fame), who is apparently local pressed the button then there were fireworks on the roof of the local church. It has definitely got me feeling in the festive mood so I thought I’d share my pick of homemade presents I’ve made for various people in the past – I have no ideas of things to make this year, so if anyone has any ideas I’m definitely looking for some inspiration!

(click on the picture for the full post)

One of the most versatile and adaptable presents you could make is a tote bag – you can applique something on it to suit the person you’re making it for. I’ve made them with a car, a strawberry and BBC’s Sherlock on for various people!

P1020362-PS-medium
For your tea-loving friend or relative, why not make them a tea-cup candle? You can flavour them with any essential oil – I used chocolate, mmmm.

Do you have a friend who loves lego? If so, you could make them a lego doorstop – there isn’t a huge amount of knitting involved, so you’ve still got time to make this in time for the big day!

Lego-Brick-14a

You could make a genuinely one-off present in the form of a scrapbook, as I did for my dad’s 65th birthday.

Scrapbook-3
For your music-loving friend or relative why not make a vinyl record clock?

For your internet-meme-loving friend or relative you’ve still got just about enough time to embroider a cushion cover 😉

thumbnail_img_1309For your friend or relative who loved cooking and baking you could make them a lovely apron – there are lots of free patterns out there. I used the one from the first Great British Sewing Bee.

P1010059P1010457

If you have a friend or relative who loves running or exercising, you could make them a useful present in the form of a running armband to hold their phone and keys while they’re out doing their thing.

Running-Armband-16

For Kids:

If you know a kid who needs entertaining while traveling (or at other times!) why not make the travel match game I made for my friend’s daughter?

P1010935-PS-medium
If you know a kid (or have a kid) who would like to learn about growing things, why not make them a felt allotment? (p.s. this is really, honestly, one of my very favourite things I’ve ever made – I was more excited to give it away than I think the recipient was when she opened it!)

Planting-Game-36
Why not make their favourite book into a cushion cover……..

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2or a wall-hanging?

Clothes are sometimes a good option for kiddies (though they will grow out of them in no time at all!) I’ve appliqued babygrows, made dungarees and made the cutest dresses with matching knickers!

p1010830-ps-mediumP1020690Alice's-Blue-Dress-1

Are you making any homemade presents this year? I’m not sure I’ll have time to be brutally honest, though my sister has asked me to make her some skirts so I think that will count….if I get them made in time?!

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Make It: Meme Cushion

(*This post contains swearing*)

I love a good internet meme. And this bayeux tapestry one is one of my favourites. I was chatting to my Aunt on the phone a few months ago and I think she might have told me about it – we were talking about other ‘don’t give a fuck’ memes too.

memeWhen she mentioned this meme, I googled it and found someone else had embroidered it on a cushion and thought this was a fantastic idea. I filed it away and planned to make it for my Aunt’s birthday, which is at the end of September. We’ve both had a pretty crappy few months so it seemed even more appropriate by the time I handed it over – a little late, oops!

meme-cushion-1I used the picture at the top as my inspiration and drew a version on paper – an A3 sheet (2 A4 sheets stuck together). I started with the writing – it was quite fun to make sure it didn’t look even or straight! I would not have had the skill to do it neatly! I traced everything onto greaseproof paper, then traced it onto the calico – it’s quite good how you can draw on calico! And because you’re sewing over it, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t all come off.

I like the 2 different kinds of ‘e’ and the random dots at the ends of some words. Also the ‘v’-shaped u’s. I did make one mistake though – can you spot it? (The a in barren doesn’t have the cross part, it’s just an upside-down ‘v’.) I sewed all the letters with really thick embroidery thread from my local sewing shop, using backstitch so the lines were unbroken.

meme-cushion-5I added a simplified version of the house thing in the photo. This is mostly to fill the space above the men! Again I used backstitch.

The men are maybe my finest hour of embroidery – again it’s a good job this wasn’t meant to look amazing! I decided to put just 3 of the men and not all 4 – I thought 4 might be pushing it! I did the outlines in brown embroidery thread – the kind you get with crossstitch kits. I used 2 strands at a time.

meme-cushion-3
I bought 4 different colours of thread – gold, red, green and black. I used the grey mixed with the brown for the cape of the dude on the right. I pretty much copied the colours from the picture as best I could. I slightly with I hadn’t done the 2 bright colours on the same guy on the left. But he does have an excellent moustache, so there’s that.

meme-cushion-7

I just used long stitches to fill in the lines as quickly as possible basically – I don’t know what the stitch is called, though.

meme-cushion-4I asked the advice of my friends when I’ve done all the above about whether to add some soil-type lines and they all agreed yes. And they were definitely right – it looked a bit bare before I added them. This is what it looked like before I sewed the front to the back.

meme-cushion-2I had left the piece of fabric quite big so I had room to change the proportions according to the cushion inner thing. But in the end I made an inner cushion and used toy filling to stuff the cushion. I think I stuffed it a bit full, though, because you can’t really see all of the embroidery unless you squish it a bit.

Here is is all finished!

meme-cushion-8And here is is on my sofa – it took so long to make it look good, it was ridiculous! I’m not great at styling I think – any tips?

meme-cushion-9
My aunt took this photo of it on her chair and made it look sooooo much better! She’s definitely better at styling!

Meme cushionDo you have a favourite meme? If so, please post it in the comments to give me a giggle 🙂 Would you be tempted to embroider it on a cushion? It could be a good Christmas present for someone!

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