Review of 2017

As this year approaches its end I (like many other sewists and bloggers) thought it would be fun to look back and see what I achieved sewing-wise.

The main part of my planning for this year had been my #2017MakeNine but I only managed to make 4 of the 9 patterns I had planned to make.

To slightly defend myself (against who?!) I did make 3 of the 4 patterns twice. (For all the makes below, click on the photo to be taken to the full blog post).

I made 2 Marianne Dresses and I love them both – both are from quite light weight jersey so they’re not the best for the cold weather we’ve been having in the UK recently.

I also make 2 Moneta dresses, though I don’t really wear the first one because I stretched out the neckline while making it.

I also make 2 Inari Tees, and I have a dress version cut out ready for next Summer – I didn’t get around to making it last Summer as it didn’t seem to last long enough!

The other make I managed from my Make Nine was my Roberts Collection dungaree dress. I did want to make the dungaree version as well but I didn’t get around to it.

I bought denim to make both pairs of jeans back in April but I didn’t quite get around to making them. I also have 2 fabrics to make the Carolyn Pyjamas from so I think I’ll bump them onto next year’s list too.

I also had joined the #SewMyStyle project and although I knew at the outset that I wasn’t going to make all 12 garments throughout the year, I only managed one – the Toaster Sweater, which I think was the pattern from January (though I’m pretty sure I made it late).

Although I didn’t make loads of the things I had planned at the beginning of the year, I did make quite a few things in the last 12 months.

I made a few presents and non-clothes, including 2 pyjama cases (a monkey and a penguin), a sack for work, a tailor’s ham and sausage (stuffed with fabric scraps), and a moomin embroidery (which helped me realise I actually quite enjoy embroidery).

I managed to refashion 3 garments: a simple tee refashion, my Christmas Party Dress and – the one I’m probably most proud of – I refashioned one of my dad’s suits into a suit for me.

In terms of sewing from scratch, this year I made:

  • 8 dresses
  • 1 pair of trousers and one pair of culottes
  • 2 skirts
  • 8 tops
  • 1 pair of shoes

The shoes were definitely a highlight! And after listening to Jasika’s episode of the Love to Sew Podcast, I feel inspired to make more shoes!

I am also proud of having made trousers for the first time! Shame I didn’t parley this into making more pairs of trousers as they are the thing that is really lacking in my wardrobe now.

These trousers are probably my most worn make of the year, but also getting honorable mentions are my stripey jersey dress which I’ve worn loads considering it was a late-in-the-year make.

I’ve also worn my grey-blue melilot shirt loads this year, so I definitely have more planned.

I feel like I can’t do a round up of the year without mentioning my Dressmakers’ Ball dress – ooh, I’ve just realised I made an extra pair of trousers than I listed above because my dress had trousers underneath! It was definitely one of my favourite makes from the year and it was fun to do some – very basic – drafting to alter the Emery dress to make the copy of the Emma Watson outfit I liked so much.

There were some other things that I mentioned I wanted to do in 2017, like make a quilt, re-upholster a chair and make a wall hanging. I did none of these things. I did, however, complete the Wardrobe Architect project and I do think this helped me to focus my sewing and fabric buying.

Obviously on a personal level, 2017 wasn’t the best – and 2016 sucked too – so here’s hoping 2018 isn’t quite so crap and I have no family sadnesses.

Did you meet your goals in 2017? Are you rolling some of them into 2018 if not? I will – I think some of my #2018MakeNine will be the ones I didn’t make in 2017!

I made shoes!

I know there are still some things I’ve not yet made (like jeans, a proper Winter coat or underwear) but I have made shoes!

As you’ll know if you read my last post about my prize-winning outfit I made for the New Craft House Summer Party, I made some slightly crazy silver espadrilles from some fabric I was given at Christmas. I’d seen these espadrilles popping up online and saw that they were for sale at Guthrie and Ghani.

I used some quite stiff white cotton twill I bought in Birmingham (which I had in mind for a specific project, but I haven’t got around to making it yet and thought i could spare a little bit of the fabric for the shoes) as the lining and I also used some pretty thick, papery interfacing to add even more structure to the liquid-y silver viscose foil.

I discovered in cutting out the silver parts of the shoes that using pins left a mark on the silver fabric, so I improvised for the sewing part and used paperclips to hold the various layers together to sew them – I maybe could have just held it with my hands, but the silver fabric is quite slippery and a little stretchy so I didn’t want to chance it, especially because unpicking would have left a mark.

I can take very little credit for knowing how to make these – I totally relied on this YouTube video by Makery. They tall you through adding seam allowance to the pattern, stitching the shell and the lining together, and then how to do the blanket stitch all around the edge.

I hadn’t done blanket stitch for years and years so I kind of had to re-learn how to! It probably means it’s not the neatest it could be, but by the end of the second shoe, I definitely felt like I was getting the hang of it. I used topstitching thread, doubled, following the recommendation of the YouTube video.

There are also some little running stitched holding the front to the back on each side of each shoe – this was one of the quickest parts of the hand sewing! I love running stitch!

One really good tip on the video is to hide the knots from the thread on the inside, between the layers of the sole. You can just about make out one knot, below, which I haven’t quite managed to hide!

The only slight problem with the shoes is that the heel has slightly collapsed, and they don’t stay securely on my feet. I suspect this is because the fabric has slightly stretched out of shape.

I’m pretty pleased that I managed to make shoes, to blow my own trumpet! I feel like it was the shoes that swayed the win for best handmade outfit at the party. I don’t think these will get many more wears this year as the weather is sure to turn cool very soon, but hopefully next year I can have them in semi-regular rotation in my Summer wardrobe.

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Wardrobe Architect Week 12: Adding Accessories

This week for Wardrobe Architect we’re talking about accessories. I’ve put this post off for a week because I think I’ going to get a bit stuck because I don’t know how much I use accessories. In the original post they talk about functional accessories and decorative accessories.

“Functional accessories can be decorative too of course, but there is some element of usefulness to them. They might include shoes, bags, hats, belts, warm scarves, gloves, sunglasses, and legwear. These are all things you need to work for you in one way or another. You might not need all of these things, depending on your climate, and some might become purely decorative for you.” Functional accessories might be shoes, bags, hats, scarves and gloves.

“Decorative accessories, like jewelry or pretty scarves, don’t really need to have all of these functional requirements. You can also include some things from the functional list that you wear purely for the sake of style. For example, if you don’t really need to wear a hat in the summer but like the way hats look on you, you can add them to this list.” Decorative accessories might be jewelery and more floaty (less warmth-focussed) scarves.

There is an exercise for this week:

1 Make a list of requirements for your accessories. List what you consider to be functional accessories and decorative accessories, and what your requirements are for each.

Shoes are probably the kind of accessory I have the most of. I have 2 pairs of trainers (one of vans and one rocket dogs), one pair of brogues, 2 pairs of ankle boots, 2 pairs of work flats and a new pair of Clarks lace ups. I wear a lot of pashminas in the Winter because I get cold really easily. I have one pair of sunglasses and a sun hat. When it’s cold I wear earmuffs or wooly hats, gloves and my favourite warm scarf. To be honest I think I’m pretty set for necessary accessories. I could probably always do with more shoes, but couldn’t we all?!

In terms of decorative accessories, I think the only ones I really wear are earrings and I only wear those a couple of days a week maximum. I never wear rings and very occasionally I remember to wear a necklace. I almost certainly have too many decorative accessories compared with how often I wear them, so I definitely don’t need to have any more on a to buy list.

2 Decide how many of each to include for the coming season. How many of each do you need for your current capsule wardrobe?

I haven’t been really working towards a specific season with my foray into the Wardrobe Architect so I don’t know how relevant this is. I could probably do with another pair of sandals, but given in the UK this year so far we’ve had probably 2 warm weeks, it doesn’t seem especially urgent at the moment!

3 Add accessories to your capsule wardrobe. Be sure to look towards what you already own before window shopping!

I think going forwards (urgh, sorry for the management speak!) I will try to be more mindful of the kinds of accessories I feel would nicely finish off an outfit of handmades and work towards a more curated selection. Especially of decorative accessories, so that I have a small stash of ones I actually wear!

Phew, that wasn’t so hard! It’s a brief one this week.