Monday, 2 January 2017

A Look Back Over 2016

I so enjoyed spending a couple of hours reading everyone's round ups of 2016 yesterday that I figured it was about time I got around to looking back over my own year. I feel like the last year has been really successful for me in terms of sewing and its made it really difficult for me to pick my favourite projects to share in this post! I have sewn so much (particularly over the second half of the year when I was settled into my new flat and sewing space) but I've also WORN so much handmade too. I've been much better this year at identifying patterns and fabrics which I know I will wear and will work as part of my current wardrobe and I wear something I've sewn most days now without even thinking about it. My handmade garments are definitely the most loved part of my wardrobe!

A fair bit of my sewing (including some of my most worn garments!) hasn't even made it to the blog yet so for the purposes of this little round up I'm just going to include projects I've got pictures of an reviewed. I've definitely felt more inspired to sew than blog this year which is absolutely the way I want it to be but I have at times felt frustrated by the long list of garments I've got waiting to photograph and share. I used to make sure garments were photographed and usually blogged before I wore them but I've found it much more interesting this year to write a review after something has been worn a while and I can accurately assess any problems. The thing that holds me up is taking the photographs as I really don't enjoy that part! Hopefully that is all about to change as my fantastic Uncle gave me a GorillaPod, remote and lenses for my phone which fingers crossed will make the whole process a lot less painful! Just need to get the hang of feeling comfortable in front of the camera now!

It was hard to decide and there are so many more projects that I am incredibly proud of and get a lot of wear out of, but these are my favourite five garments of the year. Other un-blogged highlights which deserve a mention are the Butterick 6385 Coat which I completed just before Christmas and can't wait to share, the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater pattern which I have been living in recently and the Sew Over It Mia Jeans which were my second pair of jeans after my Gingers and have turned into my more popular choice.


  • An easy choice, both my versions of the Sallie Jumpsuit from Closet Case Files. These basically became my uniform in the summer. They are so practical for the physical kind of work I do, kept me cool and comfortable in the heat and also kept me feeling stylish 100% of the time. The longer version has also seen me right through until the winter temperatures kicked in, styled with trainers and a cropped jumper thrown over the top. Nothing is going to stop me making more of these this year!


  • It was the year of the jumpsuit for me. I was really excited to make the Ailakki Jumpsuit from Named Clothing but didn't think I'd love it half as much as I did! I couldn't be more pleased with this project which I really took my time over. Its quite a bold style so I half expected it to be one of those projects which gets a once a year wear but its had three outings in the last six months and each time I've felt fantastic. More Named patterns are high on my wish list for 2017; I've absolutely loved them this year.


  • My Green Merino Neenah Dress from Seamwork Magazine has been an unexpected hit late on in the year. Its been worn almost a couple of times a week since I whipped it up in November. I have never been a fan of a high neck or a midi length so the success and comfort of this has taken me by surprise! I spent so long agonising over what to use this beautiful merino for and this project is the proof that sometimes a simple style is the best way to showcase a quality fabric.


  • With two slots left in the top five this is where decisions got tough! I made my last two choices based on what I've had the most wear out of this year and my Floral Dove Blouse from Megan Nielsen has definitely been a wardrobe star! This top has solved a wardrobe quandary on countless occasions and just feels so very me. The fabric is dreamy and my ideal match for this style; it can feel casual one minute and glamorous the next. A win on all levels.


  • I've made two Rosari Skirts from Pauline Alice over the course of the year and I doubt I'm going to stop there! My mustard needlecord version has been worn to death and still looks as good as the day I made it. I've since made a dark denim version which has proved an equally popular part of my wardrobe. As well as being a good style fit for me making these skirts actually taught me a lot and I went on quite the snap-setting journey trying out different tools and having wildly different levels of success!

All of these are contemporary garments with clean lines which suit my lifestyle and I feel like myself in. I can definitely learn from this when planning my sewing for the next year. Making good fabric choices has also been key and the success of all of these projects has largely depended of picking the right drape and weight of fabric. I do love the occasional fun print but it appears solids generally work best in my wardrobe. I've discovered a love for a seventies vibe and wearing strong, rich colours, although I do stray to my old favourite of black a fair bit!

Thinking about the not so successful projects there haven't been all that many total disasters this year. Here's the five projects which were not as successful as I had hoped.


  • Its very unlike me to give up on a project before completion, I definitely have a determination to make things work somehow. But I gave up on my By Hand London Sophia Dress once I had installed the zip and realised the fabric choice was all wrong and the remnant I'd thought was such a bargain was actually discoloured and clung in all the wrong places.


  • As much as I loved both the Named Kielo Wrap Dress pattern and this Anna Sui rayon print I had to give up on this dress after only a few wears as the fabric started disintegrating along the seam lines. I usually wash all my rayon/viscose on the delicate 30 degree cycle in the machine but I think that proved too much for this delicate crepe and that wasn't apparent after the prewash. I also trimmed down my seam allowances inside the ties quite aggressively which I think exacerbated the problem.


  • My floral Colette Laurel Blouse which I made in a beautiful silk crepe from the House of Hackney sample sale was worn a couple of times but was never quite what I had hoped it would be. I was excited about the little bell shaped cuffs but once made they seemed a little bit on the small side and combined with the slim fit of the blouse didn't have the boho vibe I was after. Luckily I nailed it later in the year with the Dove Blouse and the beautiful fabric hasn't gone to waste as I had enough let over to make some pyjamas shorts!


  • I've unfortunately not had any wear out of my MIY Collection Brightside Shrug. Shrugs have never been part of my wardrobe but making this has definitely opened me up to trying these out again. I think this would have been a more successful project if I had sized up for a slouchier look. I think a lightweight, drapier fabric in a neutral colour would have made this feel a little more me and it could have been worn a lot over the summer.


  • My final choice is a recent project; my Tilly and the Buttons Marigold Trousers. The gabardine fabric is a fantastic match and I've had quite a bit of wear out of them around the house but am yet to find a way to style them that I want to venture out in. I really WANT to like them and quite like the look of them in photos but for some reason the style just doesn't feel like me when I'm wearing them! I'm not going to give up on this type of trouser entirely as I think perhaps a style with a no elasticated waistband and slightly less volume in the seat and crotch might work better. At least I've got one step closer to a pair that suit me in making these!

I've definitely learnt a lot from each of these projects, whether that be fabric choice or interpreting the illustrations and fit information from the pattern envelope correctly. I always think that however disappointed in a finished garment you may be, no sewing project is a waste of time as you learn so much along the way and for me most of the enjoyment is in the process!

One of the things I've been most proud of this year is how much handmade I've packed for holidays and how well planning that has worked for me. I've sewn and packed practical city clothes for NYC, summer clothes and swimwear for the South of France, activewear for Centre Parcs and warm clothes for sub-zero temperatures in Russia! I wrote a post about how I used my capsule handmade wardrobe in France and really enjoyed keeping a track of that. I'm considering writing more of this type of post in the new year as I find reading posts about the life of a handmade garment beyond the initial 'hooray I made this!' post really interesting. 

I'll be writing some more about my sewing plans for 2017 soon but in general my plan is to have more fun! Now I feel like I've really found my handmade style I think its time to get creative within that and play around with fabrics, pattern hacking and adding in trims and interesting details. I'm also taking part in the #2017makenine on Instagram as I really enjoyed it this year. I think choosing nine garments/patterns you'd really like to tackle over the course of the year is a really achievable goal and selecting mine has helped me focus my sewing ambitions for the year. Last year I really wanted to try making my first coat, jeans and bra. The bra has carried on over to this year and I'd also like to improve my trouser fitting, make my first pair of classic pyjamas and work with some more vintage patterns. 

In the coming year I also want to sew slower, take the time to think things through and also go back and perfect my mistakes. I have a lot of handmade filling my wardrobe now so I can take my time and make less but better. Work and life in London can be very demanding on my time and over the last year in particular I've found myself in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed by how much I have to do. I don't want sewing to be a part of that. Whilst I know I'll always have a never ending list of things I want to sew I'm keen for it to stay as a hobby with some spontaneity in it rather than another commitment. Now I've got a more easily accessible sewing space set up I'm tempted to try the 30 minutes a day approach rather than thinking I need a good few hours open to sew. I'll definitely be making as much time as possible for my favourite way to relax in the next year but also want to make more time to read, walk, cook and take care of myself.

My sewing is definitely a positive to take with me from 2016 and I'm looking forward to a very creative year ahead! Thank you all for the inspiration, motivation and guidance. Wishing you all a wonderful 2017!

18 comments:

  1. I think you've definitely found your style. So many lovely makes this year! I

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    1. Ah thanks Katie! It feels good to have more confidence in choosing patterns I know will work for me

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    1. Thanks! It feels it! Happy New Year!

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  3. Hi Fiona - I just love your makes! And as I am also a petite stature, find your blogs informative. You have made some amazing makes this year which have inspired me. But - please share your disappointment with the Marigold jumpsuit. This was going to be my next make and something I would not ordinarily wear. But having read your post, I am now slightly hesitant!

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    1. Hi Gilly, thanks for your lovely comment! I'm so pleased when I hear that reading my blog inspires other people to sew!
      My disappointment with the trousers is nothing to do with the Marigold pattern itself, just the fact that I personally prefer a closer fit and usually can't stand an elasticated waistband so I should have known that they weren't for me! They are a great shape and super easy to make, I am still tempted to make the jumpsuit as I think that would solve some of the issues I have with the way the waist sits on me. I definitely recommend giving them a whirl, just maybe try a muslin first! Good luck!

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  4. I want to urge you to reconsider your placement of the Hackney/Laurel blouse in your bottom five. I am reminded of a line from an old Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall: “Love is too weak a word for what I feel - I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you with two F's, yes.” That is how I feel about your blouse. I covet your gorgeous Hackney fabric, and love everything about the blouse. Although you did not achieve the look you intended, the look you did achieve is fabulous. I suspect that your disappointed expectations are impeding your ability to appreciate it, and I am writing to encourage you to simply change your mind! I appreciate your blog, and all of the work it must entail. You are my number one source for finding new indie patterns. Thank you for all you do!

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    1. Ah thank you for that comment Ann! I love a bit of Anne Hall too!
      You're right maybe I do need to look ta it with some fresh eyes instead of seeing it as not how I intended it to turn out. It is stunning fabric and I do like the classic shape...it just doesn't quiet feel right on if you get what I mean?! Perhaps its something about the fit, this particularly silk crepe as no give whatsoever and is quite unforgiving. Maybe its one of those that is worth keeping in the wardrobe as one day it will turn into my favourite top!
      I really appreciate you taking the time to say you enjoy reading, it means so much to read that! It doesn't feel like work at all and I enjoy writing it but its all the more enjoyable when you get something back!

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  5. You have made so many awesome garments this year (that I want to copy!). Sticking with solid, but beautiful, coloured fabric has worked well for building a wardrobe of staples. I agree that it feels strange wearing elasticated-waist pants out of the house, they always just feel a bit puffy and handmade.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling like that! Puffy is exactly the right word. I'm definitely going to be sticking with the solids plan this year, with the odd irresistible print thrown in! Please do feel free to copy! Thanks Naomi

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  6. I agree with Ann, the Laural blouse is beautiful. I think it suits you perfectly. I agree it is more dressy than bohemian style. But you look beautiful in it!

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    1. Ah well with two of you loving the top I really need to give it a second chance don't I! I'm going to wear it this week and see how I feel! I'm now thinking perhaps styled with a high waisted pencil skirt it could really work

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  7. I love your favorite makes and I have to tell you that your Dove inspired me to make one as well. I think I made mine too big on top and too short on the bottom but I really love it and wear it around the house a LOT. I can't wait to make another. So, yay! I love your jumpsuits, especially the long-length Sally!

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    1. Ah hooray! Hearing that one of my projects inspired someone else is the best compliment! Its a cracking pattern and I definitely always have my eyes peeled for fabric for another.
      I adore the jumpsuits too! Happy New Year Colleen

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  8. What a great review of your sewing year. I also love your laurel top, but I think my favourite is your Sallie jumpsuit. I almost want to make one, I just can't get over the going to the bathroom conundrum! Thank you for doing your pattern round up too. As someone else has commented, I have found many an interesting pattern/designer/blog through reading you posts! Wishing you a happy new year and happy sewing!

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    1. The Sallie is possibly my favourite too as as much as I love the Ailakki I've had SO much wear out of Sallie. Its suitable for so many different things!
      The bathroom problem is not ideal but I've kind of got used to it, its very easy to wriggle in and out of and totally worth it to wear something so lovely in my opinion!
      Thank you for that lovely comment. A very Happy New Year to you too!

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  9. I love your Laurel blouse! I think it suits you even better than the Dove!

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    1. Ah thank you! I'm definitely going to have to give it another chance after all the lovely compliments its had!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!