Saturday 18 January 2020

Looking back at 2019

Happy New Year blog friends! The turn of the decade kick started my sew-jo and I’ve been on my machine as much as I can over the last couple of weeks. Now that I’ve got a few completed projects under my belt the motivator to blog again is kicking in too...though not so much the desire to get dressed up and take photos of myself! I thought it might be nice to start the year with a look back over the previous one. 2019 was a big year for me, in many wonderful ways. But one which saw sewing pushed down the list of priorities a couple of notches and I missed it. Looking back I think I sewed more than I realised but there are noticeably fewer additions to my handmade wardrobe than in previous years.

It is actually quite tricky to look back across what I made in the last twelve months as the limited time I had for sewing I wanted to spend actually sewing so this poor old blog became quite neglected. Something I hope to rectify in the coming months. I’ve had to rummage in my wardrobe to remind myself what I’ve been making! I do know that I started the year with a two week frenzy of sewing and scheduling blog posts, making extra pieces to add to a handmade holiday wardrobe. I spent most of January and February travelling in Southern Africa and then the Philippines for a wedding. I enjoyed the opportunity to work on some slightly different projects that would be suitable for camping in scorching National Parks and lounging on tropical beaches.

At Victoria Falls with my Desmond Backpack

The most successful thing I made for my trip wasn't actually an item of clothing! I made the Desmond Backpack from Taylor Tailor and absolutely love it to bits. It went everywhere with us on holiday and was the perfect size for all our day to day needs. It has then been used nearly every day of the rest of the year to cart around everything I need for work. Definitely one of my most used sewing projects and very enjoyable to make too. Other big handmade successes on holiday were the Summer Jumpsuit Tofo from Half-moon Atelier and this zero waste kimono cover-up from Elbe Textiles. We are off to Uganda for two weeks next week and I’m looking forward to sharing with you what I’ve made for this trip after reflecting on what else would have been useful last time.

Back in the UK in early March I kicked off what was going to turn into a very busy year of work for me. I work in the theatre as a freelance costume supervisor so move from production to production throughout the year. Over the last ten months I’ve supervised 6 shows and worked on the next series of The Great British Sewing Bee. Long hours and overlapping projects left me little time for sewing but seeing what the amazing costume makers we have on each production can do is very inspiring. Watching the sewers beavering away at the challenges in the sewing room certainly left me with itchy fingers to get back to my machine!

I did tackle a couple more complex and lengthy projects last year and they are definitely the ones I'm most proud of! I think my Hampton Jean Jacket might be my favourite thing I've ever made and it has already racked up a large number of wears. I can't wait for the weather to warm up so I can get this on my back again.

In May my Mum got married which was one of the happiest days of the year and my life. I made my bridesmaid dress using a combination of the BHL Elisalex bodice, the Emmeline Tee from The Little Tailoress for the beaded overlay and a self drafted half circle skirt. The dress was all about showcasing the fabrics really. The beaded chiffon for the top came from Goldbrick Fabrics and the AMAZING satin backed crepe for the dress was from Borovick Fabrics. I was so happy with how it turned out and loved wearing it.

My favourite patterns of the year were the Zadie Jumpsuit from Paper Theory and the Evie Bias Skirt from Tessuti. Both of which I've made twice and still have plans for more of! The Zadie is such a great unique, yet easy to wear design. I miss my first version of this when it is in the wash. I love patterns which have quite classic cuts but interesting design details to elevate the garment from the norm and Paper Theory seem to do this really well. I've just made their Olya Shirt which I can't wait to share. Another brilliant pattern. The Evie Skirt I just love for its versatility as well as the care Tessuti put in to their finishing techniques. I've worn both versions I've made so much right through all seasons of the year. It works with trainers and an oversized jumper for day to day yet effortlessly dresses up with some heeled ankle boots and a fitted turtleneck for evening.

Towards the end of the year I FINALLY made my first bra! I used the Cloth Habit Watson Bra pattern and whilst I can't say I fell in love with bra making I was really pleased with the result. More practice is needed but I'm looking forward to moving on to more structured bras with underwires. This project was part of my 2019 #makenine selection which I was so close to completing! Just two sleeves to go on my knitted jumper.

I also remade quite a few patterns I've used previously this year as the initial versions of them see so much wear! It was quite a satisfying way to use small amounts of sewing time as the projects weren't particularly taxing as I'd made them before and I knew the finished garment was going to be a winner. Most of them didn't make it onto the blog or Instagram as the only change from the first version was the fabric. I've been wearing a lot of True Bias Nikko tops this winter, the Basic Instinct Tee from Sasha at Secondo Piano has become my go to tee for warm weather and I made myself another Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater (#2) as my black version was getting worn nearly every day!

Ruby at 2 months 'helping' me assemble a PDF pattern!

In the summer I took the big step to move out of London to Dorking where I now live with my boyfriend and our six month old Shiba Inu puppy called Rhubarb (Ruby) who came home with us in August. You can expect to be seeing a lot of her in future blog photos! We love her to pieces but training her (and training her to leave my pins and fabrics alone!) has been very time consuming indeed and therefore rather detrimental to getting lots of sewing done. I'm settling in to these changes now and we are finding a nice balance of countryside walks and sleeping at my feet while I sew. Dog walking calls for a different wardrobe so I'm foreseeing my 2020 sewing being a mixture of the very practical (waterproof coat, t-shirts and jeans!) and the very impractical, things which are just fun to make and wear!

In my new sewing space in my totally impractical for dog walking Mayfair Dress

Over the course of the past twelve months I found myself enjoying sewing a little less because I had less time to do it and was therefore only managing to find time to work on the projects that I felt obliged to do because I had agreed to post a review/try out a new pattern/make something for someone as a gift. There should always be a place for sewing a fun and frivolous garment on a whim purely for the joy of making and wearing it. I always try to make careful choices with my sewing; whether that be pattern, fabric or whether I really need another of that particular type of garment in my wardrobe. But I also firmly believe in enjoying my hobby and sometimes that means throwing caution to the wind and trying something completely new and outrageous because you feel inspired to do so. I sew for enjoying the process of doing it and the therapeutic nature of creating rather than necessarily to reach the end and have a completed garment. I want to make sure I remember this going forward as sometimes feeling pressure to finish something and rushing the steps can take all the fun out of it. 2020 is going to be all about bringing the fun back into my sewing time!

Speaking of sewing fun I'm going to The Stitch Festival (formerly the Knitting & Stitching Show) at the end of February. There will be over 200 exhibitors selling craft supplies, 200 workshops to participate in and demonstrations and interviews with numerous craft stars. I have five pairs of tickets to giveaway! The tickets are valid Thursday 27th February to Sunday 1st March but if you would like to attend on the Saturday there will be a £5 supplement to pay. Head on over to my Instagram to enter. If you'd like to purchase more tickets you can use the code DIARYOF2020 to get £2.50 off standard advance adult tickets and £1 off concessions. The discount can be used for advance bookings only up to Wednesday 26th February and there will be a £2.20 fulfilment fee per transaction (£2.50 for posted tickets). I hope to see lots of you there!


  1. It's so important to remember the joy of spontaneous, ridiculous sewing, isn't it? I love seeing how your projects have worn and shone throughout the year, this inspires me to get on with my Desmond backpack. Also, your puppy is really adorable, congrats on the move and the life changes : )

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Reading about the joy of sewing has made me want to jump on the machine right now! I feel like I've really got into my sewing groove over the last couple of years and I am loving seeing how my handmade age and find their place in my wardrobe.
      Little Rhubarb says hello!

  2. This is a very enjoyable post! I think you made some fabulous garments this year, and quite a few more intricate - so no apologies needed. Congratulations on your move and puppy.😊

    1. Thank you very much! I really enjoyed writing it. I didn't realise how satisfying it would be to look back over the year and see what I have actually achieved. It was much more than I realised as it has all passed by in such a whirlwind

  3. Love reading your review! And SUCH a cute pup. My best advice for training a puppy is consistency. And that they're only really out of their puppyhood stage at 18 mo - 2 years. A lot of my expectations were lessened once I let go of wanting my pup to be the perfect dog before then :)

    1. Thanks for the tips! She can be a real handful but we love every minute! She's really getting there with the training now and you're so right about accepting them for who they are and their funny little ways

  4. I lost my whole train of thought at the sight of that jean jacket. It's absolute perfection!

    You had a great year! Your bridesmaids dress is so gorgeous and I've been thinking of a bias skirt - sold! :)

    1. Haha! Thank you very much. I am incredibly proud of that jean jacket, I think it is my favourite thing I've ever made. Can't wait for the weather to warm up so I can wear it!
      Get on the bias cut skirt train! They are so easy to wear and great to showcase beautiful flowing fabrics


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