I'm very loosely basing this post on Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow's Sewing Top 5 series which she runs every year and I always enjoy. Picking your Top 5 Hits, Misses, Highlights, Reflections and Goals is a great way to summarise your year of sewing without it getting overwhelming and to help you decide on some goals for the year ahead. I'm not going to stick to the categories religiously but let's kick off with my favourite things I made during the last year:
My unquestionable triumph of the year was my Denim McCalls 6696 Shirtdress. I have worn this thing to death and the more I wear it and wash it the better it looks. I think the things that made this such a success are the practicality of the design (big pockets!), a good fabric choice and taking the time to make a quick bodice muslin and work on the fit. That needs to be a lesson I take forward into 2015.
Another garment that I have had an absolute tonne of wear out of despite thinking I would very rarely wear it because of the physical nature of my job is my Tartan Ultimate Pencil Skirt. I just LOVE this pattern. It fits me like a dream and I've sewn it no less than four times. This is my favourite version as that tartan seems to work as part of any outfit, for any occasion.
If I were making my choices based on success of my sewing techniques rather than anything else my Embroidered Vogue 1247 Skirt would top the list. How the pattern matching on this turned out had me jumping around the room with delight. Also I haven't been ablate resist wearing this at least once a week since it was finished, pretty good going for something which was supposed to be a special occasion skirt.
Something which has come as a bit of a surprise to me is how much I've worn my Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress. Don't get me wrong I loved it when I finished it but I thought it was perhaps a tiny bit too short and I didn't do too well with the pattern matching because of a lack of fabric. But I wore this plenty in the summer and even more once the temperature dropped as it is so great layered with tights and a sweater. Total wardrobe win.
Next we have my White Cotton Fifi Pyjamas. I wear these as soon as they come out of the wash every time. This pattern was so much fun to sew, I'm constantly planning future versions in my head so expect to see more of these from me this year!
I know it's number 6 but couldn't leave out my Electric Blue Crepe Quart Jacket. I am so so proud of how this turned out after all the effort I put into learning about the new techniques I encountered like the sleeve heads and shoulder pads. The fabric is dreamy and I had so much fun making this. Plus...silk charmeuse lining...
There are also a couple of Christmas presents I made which would have been real contenders for this list but I haven't blogged about them yet so I'll leave them to share with you later this month!
And now for the really interesting bit the projects which didn't turn out quite as I had hoped in 2015. I actually found these really hard to pick as there are only a couple of things I've made this year which haven't been won out at least once; I'm taking that to be a good sign that my sewing and ability to chose fabrics and patterns which will work in my wardrobe is improving!
Despite the first knit version of the Scout Tee I made from a cotton jersey being a roaring success this Striped Cotton Jersey Scout was never worn. It's amazing what a difference fabric choice can make. I love the fit of the burnout version and sewed this one up in exactly the same way but feel completely overwhelmed by it. There's a lot more stretch in the striped jersey and it's heavier in weight too which combined with the loose fit makes for an unflattering look.
I love this outfit but it's never been worn out as a Two Piece Set as intended as I'm just not quite happy with the fit of the top. The spongy nature of this unusual viscose is too thick for the self lined sleeves and the shoulders feel too bulky. I don't think it's very noticeable to look at but I feel aware of it when it's on. This is definitely a project which could have benefited from not ploughing straight on through to finish but a bit of a rethink midway through construction. The skirt has been worn a tonne though!
It's such a shame that I am not as in love with my Geometric Moss Mini Skirt as I hoped I would be! i adored this fabric when I saw it online then even more when it arrived but the stretch recovery isn't all that great so it starts to look really shapeless throughout the day. Plus I can't help being bugged by the stretched out hemline which no amount of washing or steam will ping back into shape.
I still kind of love how this Striped Laurel Dress looks in the photos but I just don't feel quite right in it. It hasn't been sent to the charity shop quite yet though; the loose fit around the waist is such a departure from my normal style that it might take a bit of getting used to so maybe I should persevere. I do feel very conscious of the badly set in sleeves though which I'm partly blaming on the slightly odd drafting which I discussed in my post about it.
Reflections & Goals
I am in general really pleased with the sewing I did do in 2015 but I feel like a lot of improvements could be made in the next. I don't think I pushed myself to learn as many new techniques or try as many new garments as I could have done this year. I was quite short on sewing time for a number of reasons and I think I fell back on familiar projects and techniques, making multiples of many items as I felt I'd get more satisfaction out of my sewing time that way. But what I've realised is I actually get the most satisfaction out of learning, trying new things and accomplishing something different. I had big sewing plans for 2015; bra making (didn't happen), jeans making (cut out but didn't happen) and tailoring/coat making (semi-happened with my Quart Jacket). I think I didn't really get started on any of these things because I felt that something so new to me required a lot of time, or a least a big block of time to concentrate on it. I could have broken it down into small chunks and accomplished something that way instead of waiting for a couple of days of uninterrupted sewing time to come along. That's just not going to happen any time soon!
It's become really clear to me over the past year that the process of sewing is probably what I enjoy the most. Not the wearing of the clothes or even completing a garment but using my hands to create something and seeing it come together. Sometimes I pick projects based on wanting to wear that garment, sometimes I pick a project just because I want to sew it. I don't really sew to fill gaps in my wardrobe and I'm not going to change that. It's my hobby and I want to enjoy it!
With that in mind and coming back to my first point I don't want to pressure myself to sew dozens of things this year. Sure I'll make some simple tops and skirts because like most of us I get enjoyment out of a quick project, but I'd like to tackle some big, complicated projects by taking them one small step at a time and also taking the time beforehand to research the techniques involved. If I don't think I've got enough time to get all my sewing kit out and make some progress with a project I could settle down with a sewing book and brush up on my skills that way; God knows I've got enough books! I'd like to carry forward my big goals of last year and get those jeans, bras and coat made, try out new patterns and construction methods. The challenge is what I enjoy the most, especially if I don't set myself silly, self-imposed deadlines. Quality over quantity of garments is my motto as I venture forward into 2016!
What are your sewing resolutions and goals for the coming year?