2016 challenges and a little look back

I didn’t think I’d be posting again until the new year, but then I remembered that I never tied up the loose ends of the various challenges I took part in this year…

 First up is the #2016makenine challenge that was set by Rochelle from Lucky Lucille over on Instagram. This is what my initial nine projects looked like:

Fairly quickly I realised that wasn’t going to happen, so I took each project as more of an inspiration image than a picture of the object I planned to make. I tried really hard to stick to very similar items, but it has changed a bit! 

This is what I ended up with:


I managed 5.5/9. I’m only giving myself a half mark for my jumper, as it still needs another sleeve!

I made the laule’a socks first, and those along with the my Waver raincoat and Kielo dress are the only three which made it from my original list. I switched the two Brooklyn Tweed patterns for two different BT patterns, the Gurnsey Wrap (still unblogged! Bad blogger!), and the Bronwyn Sweater. Finally, I switched the M6696 shirtdress for the M7351 shirtdress. I once again failed to make a bra, or jeans! I did muslin the Republique du Chiffon Madeleine dress, but it needs a fair amount of fitting to make it work so I gave up in a grump.

I found this was a really good way to focus my plans a bit, so I’ve made another #makenine collage for 2017. This time it’s just made up of inspiration images rather than actual patterns, to avoid the ‘cheating’ which occurred this year!

All images from Pinterest

So for 2017, I’d like to make a velvet tee shirt, a fitted sheath dress, a shift dress/tee dress, those bloody jeans (for the third annual to-do list in a row), a biker style jacket, a midi skirt, a woven wrap dress, a wrap pencil skirt, and a pair of high waisted shorts. I’m pretty sure I should be able to manage each of these, I have fabric and patterns lined up for most of the garments already! Not that my plans aren’t bound to change…

The other challenge I took part in this year was the 2016 vintage pledge. I wanted to make three garments from vintage or reproduced vintage patterns, and I only managed two. I’m really happy with both my 1960’s party dress and my 1930’s day skirt though! 


I had a few patterns which were strong contenders for my third vintage pattern, but in the end I just didn’t want to sew any of them up enough to do it! These challenges are all just self imposed, so I can’t get too worked up about not finishing them. It has to be fun right?

And that’s the reason why I’m not going to go back and look at my goals for 2016 which I set this time last year (I’m pretty sure they’ll say “Make Jeans!”). I know I’ve improved in a few areas that I really wanted to work on, like fitting wovens and matching patterns to suitable fabric. I’m especially pleased with the progress I’ve made in getting things to fit better, it’s such a noticible change in my sewing. I’ve also been trying really hard to be more relaxed about my sewing. It’s meant to be fun, I shouldn’t be stressing out so much about everything being so perfect. As long as it’s good enough for me to live with, I’m trying to be happy with it! On the other hand, if I can’t live with it, I’m trying to go back to fix it rather than letting t languish and annoy me every time I go to put it on. Everything has to balance out!

So there we go, hopefully some new plans and a new outlook to take into 2017. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas/holiday period, and that you’re getting plenty of rest before New Year’s festivities kick off! I’m spending quality time with my sewing machine and my furballs…


Old picture, but they look pretty much the same now (just twice the size), asleep on whatever I’ve left on the floor of my sewing room…

Christmas Day Dress

I feel like I must be the last sewing blogger on the internet to make the By Hand London Anna Dress (though Kat assures me she hasn’t made it either)! there are so many versions of this dress out there, and the bodice seems to get matched up with other skirts all the time. I managed to grab a paper copy of the pattern when BHL stopped printing them, and I’ve imagined it paired with several lengths of fabric from my stash since then. Then when I saw the Cotton + Steel/Rifle Paper Co collaboration, I knew that I would use some of their rayon for my first Anna.

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I’m going to rave about the fabric before I get to the pattern, because I love it so much. You might have noticed that rayon is one of my favourite fabrics to sew and wear, and C+S rayon is even nicer than most. This one is lovely and smooth and drapey, and has a nice weight to it which makes the skirt hang beautifully. And how gorgeous is the print? I’ve always been a fan of Rifle Paper Co., so I was super excited to get some of this fabric (it came from Miss Matatabi, by the way). I also have some of the canvas waiting to be made into shorts, and some of their cotton for a dress…I’m not obsessed at all…

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I really wanted a pattern which would let the fabric be the focal point, and I think the Anna works really well as a canvas. The bodice and cut on sleeves doesn’t have too many seams to interrupt the print, and the multi-paneled skirt hangs and swishes beautifully in the rayon. I also really like the boat neck, I think the width of it is a nice way to offset the higher neckline.

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I did make a muslin of the bodice, as I read enough reviews which said they had trouble with a gaping neckline to be wary. I ended up pinching out nearly an inch on either side of the back neckline, and half an inch of each side of the front. I used the tutorial on Ginger Makes to do my flat pattern adjustment, and it worked really well. I still get some gaping at the back if I roll my shoulders right back (how my mother would ask me to stand!), but I think that’s probably just the nature of a high, wide neckline. When I stand normally it sits nicely. I was surprises that I didn’t need to take any length off the bodice or adjust the bust tucks, it all fit pretty nicely once I had the neckline sorted!

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I’m very pleased with how my zip went in, its one of the most invisible invisible zips I’ve ever sewn! I have a little bit of extra fabric at the back waist, but nothing too major. I have to have some moving room!

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I also discovered that I could do a blind hem with my beloved Bernina! How did I not know I could do this? Its so pretty, and so fast, I love it! Blind hems for everything from now on.

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It’s funny, this dress feels very me three years ago. Its the sort of thing I would have been desperate to buy before I could sew, and the sort of thing I would have sewn until about 18 months ago, but I feel like my style has moved on quite a bit from then! I still really like this dress, and I adore the fabric, so it’ll get worn, but it’s funny to think how much this dress sticks out in my current wardrobe. Its nice to have some really girly dresses in there, I suppose. I was planning on this being my Christmas day dress, but to be honest I’m not sure there’s enough room in the bodice for the two Christmas meals which I will be required to eat over the course of the day! I’ll see how I go, I might have to change into something more forgiving after lunch (because eating less really isn’t an option!).

I hope you all have a good holiday period! I’m planning a stay at home sewing marathon over New Year, then we head away for friends’ wedding. I had better get working on the dress I want to wear for the wedding…though I suppose I can always wear this one if I don’t get it done!

2016 Top Five

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It’s that navel gazing time of year again! I love reading everyone’s annual round ups, and I’ve enjoyed participating in Gillian’s top five series for the last two years (I’ve nearly been blogging for three years, that blows my mind!). This year I was only going to to my top five hits and misses, as my goals and reflections are pretty much the same every time, but when I was looking though my posts for the year I realised that I wouldn’t class anything that I’ve made this year as a miss. I’ve had less sewing time this year, so I think I’ve been more considered and careful in my general approach which has only benefited my sewing as a whole! This morning I saw Katie’s top five post, and I really liked how she made a list of the garments which weren’t sewn this year, but which are still being worn regularly. I find that I fall out of love pretty regularly with stuff that I’ve made (I’ve just sent a huge pile to a local charity shop), so I thought I’d be a shameless copycat and do the same in the hope that it might reveal some common trends.

But first, here are my Top Five Hits for 2016…

  1. My 1960’s Party Dress

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It’s been worn to two weddings this year, and I’ve felt amazing in it both times. I adore the fabric, love the shape of the skirt and the neckline, and I feel like it’s a solid addition to my wardrobe. I can’t think of many formal events it wouldn’t be appropriate for!

2) Waterproof Waver Jacket

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A water resistant jacket is an absolute necessity in Wellington, and this one served me well over the winter (and Spring, and Summer so far…thanks Welly), too short sleeves and all!

3) My Leather Genoa Bag

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Another happy marriage of pattern and material! It’s so practical, and so pretty, and I’ve had so many complements on it since I finished it!

4) Wool Crepe Alexandria Trousers

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They’ve been an excellent alternative to jeans, and always make me feel a bit more dressy, even though they feel like pyjamas. What more could I want?

5) Helmi Dress

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This one surprised me, but I love it! I wore it to my work Christmas party, and I’ve worn it out a few time since I finished it, and it’s so comfortable but still looks so cool.

 

Top Five most worn from previous years:

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Probably nothing too surprising here! My first Southport Dress had so much wear over the summer, I’m looking forward to pulling it out again soon. The mustard Brume skirt is a favourite for the weekends all year around, I love wearing it with fleecy tights. My Cascade Coat is still one of my biggest sewing achievements to date, and it got just as much wear this winter as it did last year. Same goes for my Wickerwork Jumper, its just so squishy and cozy, and now that I’ve bought a de-piller, it’s looking just as good as when I finished it! Finally, the oldest of the bunch, and probably the most worn, my knit scout tee. It still gets worn about once a week, I love it so much! The fabric is still holding up really well, its only showing a little bit of wear. In fact, I’m wearing as I write this post!

I’m intrigued that no knits made it into my top five this year. I’ve sewn a lot of tee shirts this year, but I suppose they aren’t really top five material! I definitely like my basic easy-to-wear clothes, as evidenced by my most-worn. If I put together a similar list next year, I’m sure that there will be a huge number of Lark Tee shirts on it. I definitely haven’t been wearing my Scout tees as much this year, a few of them went in the donation bag. Though that was more due to changing taste in fabric than because of the pattern. I feel like I’ve moved away from the sack silhouette I was sewing a lot last year, even my Helmi dress gets belted rather than left loose. I did buy the Grainline Studio Farrow and Willow patterns in the Black Friday sale though, so who knows what’ll happen when it gets hot again?

And finally, here are two of my favourite things from the past year:

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Mr Scotty!

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…and Zelda! We’ll have had them for a year next week, I love their fuzzy little faces so much ❤