2017 in review

Happy New Year! I’m not joining in with Gillian’s Top 5 challenge properly this year, but I’ve rounded up my five favourites from this year, and from past years, and I thought I  might as well follow up on my 2017 make nine progress as well. Hopefully not too much navel gazing for you, so early in the new year!

Ok yes, I’ve cheated slightly with my top 5 of 2017. I couldn’t choose between my Safran and my Ginger jeans, especially after they’ve been on my to-sew list for so many years! I also couldn’t choose which pair of Flint trousers I like more, so I put my black and terracotta pairs in. It’s the same pattern, so it barely counts right? I also had to include my sandals, for sheer novelty factor and the immense satisfaction I got from making them. My Kelly Anorak also makes the cut, it’s been one of the most useful things I’ve made this year and was a great garment to take on my 5 week trip to the UK (if it had been slightly waterproof it would have been perfect!). My final pick is my Bronwyn Sweater, which was one of the most challenging and fun things I’ve knitted so far. I knitted most of it in 2016, looking at my ravelry page, but it was finished in time for winter 2017 so I’m counting it. I love all those cables, and it was lovely and warm throughout our crappy winter. Honorable mentions have to go to my merino Driftless Cardigan, which gets worn most days, and to my long sleeved Melilot Shirts, which also got a heap of wear this year.

For my top 5 garments from previous years, I had to start with my Genoa tote from last year. I use it every day, and it’s still going strong! I love the size and the leather and the handles, and the toggle inside for my keys has saved me hours of useless rummaging every evening. Next is my Wickerwork pullover. It’s still my favourite jumper, I just love the texture and the colour so much. I wish I had knitted it in a nicer wool than Cascade 220, but I’ve learned my lesson! It gets a regular shave with the de-piller to keep it looking nice. This winter I unraveled the neckband and knitted it a bit higher, and bound it off tighter, and I’m so happy with how it sits now. No more cold droughts down the back of my neck! I’ve worn my first Driftless Cardi so much that it’s getting bald spots at the elbows and hip (where my bag rubs), so I had to make a new one this year so I could alternate them. My Waver raincoat is another item that gets a bunch of wear, even though I can see so many mistakes I made whilst sewing it (whyyy did I shorten the sleeves??), and the lining is shredding along the raglan seams. I’m planning a waterproof Kelly Anorak for this autumn, so this one might get retired this winter, but it’s had a very useful life! Finally, my knit Scout tee from the very beginning of 2015. It’s made in a bamboo knit from Blackbird Fabrics (I think it was from their opening week!), and it’s still going strong! I must wear it about once a week, I love how soft and comfortable it is. I should really look for more bamboo knits…

Finally, this is what my #2017make9 collage looked like. After not really succeeding with sticking to the specific plans I made for myself in 2016, I thought I would try a more flexible, mood-board style approach for 2017. It doesnt seem to have worked much better though! I didn’t make the velvet tee shirt (though I have plans for a black velvet Kobe Top for later this summer), or the moto style jacket, or the wrap skirt or midi skirt. I did make a sheath dress, jeans (two pairs! have I mentioned that? once or twice? I might be a bit pleased with myself), a woven wrap dress, a tee dress and some high waisted shorts (which haven’t made it to the blog yet). So it wasn’t a total failure, but I’m not going to bother doing it again this year. I know what I want to make now, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll want to make them later in the year! There are too many new patterns coming out, and my style seems to be fairly changeable these days too (who knew at the beginning of last year that I’d be all about the cropped trouser trend by the summer? Not me!). 2018 is also going to be pretty busy for me, I’m going to be working on the research project that is the final step in achieving my Masters in Information Studies this year, which I imagine will keep me occupied! Anyone who wants to know about the information seeking behaviour of Registered Nurses in a clinical environment, come and talk to me…

Finally, thanks so much to everyone who reads my ramblings, and who leaves comments and encouragement and advice! I appreciate it so much. I love being part of this community, it must be one of the nicest corners of the internet (and that means a lot, especially these days). I know 2017 has been pretty rough on a lot of people, so here’s to a happier, kinder and just generally better 2018!

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…

2016 Top Five


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


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


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


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


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


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:


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:


Mr Scotty!


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

2015 in review: Goals and Reflections

Happy New Year everyone! Today is my second blogging anniversary. I’m pretty impressed, to be honest, I was always rubbish at keeping a diary when I was a kid, even though I always aspired to! Two years is quite a long time for me to maintain such a high level of commitment to a hobby as well, I suppose sewing is such a practical and varied past time that its easy to just keep going! Huge thanks to the online sewing community for all the assistance, motivation, inspiration and enjoyment you give me, it would be much more difficult without you.

Anyway, before this starts to sound like an Oscar winners speech, I have some more navel gazing to do! Here is the second half of my Top 5 for 2015…

(I’m going to break this up with kitten pictures, if you need some incentive to get through another annual blog review)
First, some numbers:

I blogged about

  •   36 sewn garments, and 5 sewn accessories
  •   3 knitted garments and 1 knitted accessory

The things I sewed included

  • 14 tops
  • 4 pairs of shorts/trousers (2 mens, 2 womens)
  •  4 skirts
  •  5 jackets/coats
  •  6 dresses (5 for me, one for a friend)
  • 3 undergarments/Pyjamas

Unblogged items included 1 watson bra, a couple of mens tee shirts, a few emmeline tee shirts and scout tee shirts made for other people. 
I’m surprised I only made 5 dresses for myself this year, but I suppose I’ve been making lots of pretty practical things! I’m particularly proud of my outerwear and knitting this year.

Zelda is my sewing helper kitten. Except not terribly helpful.

I looked back at my goals and resolutions post for 2015, and I’ve been pretty poor at achieving my goals for the year! I wanted to:

1) Get better at fitting wovens, specifically learn how to do an FBA and a sway back adjustment. Fail! I haven’t touched on sway back adjustments at all, and I’ve done plenty of research into FBA but still haven’t put it into practice.

2) Make jeans. Another fail! I have the Ginger pattern printed and ready to go, and two lots of denim and notions all prewashed and ready, so no excuse. 

3) Make lingerie: Fail again! I made one Watson bra, but I’ve struggled to find the right materials in Wellington. I have enough for another Watson Bra, and I nearly have everything I need for a Boylston Bra too, so maybe this year.

4) Improve my knitting. I did this! I did learn cables and colourwork, like I wanted to. I’m looking forward to knitting a bunch more this year.

5) Sew more for others, especially for Monsieur. I kinda did this, maybe half marks? I made a pair of Jedediah shorts and a pair of trousers for Monsieur, along with some tee shirts, and I made some things for friends too.

I’ll have to give myself a D grade for achieving my goals in 2015, only 1.5/5! Terrible! I was clearly having too much fun doing what I was doing to be too worried about my lists. For 2016, I’m just going to repeat the same goals, but with some specifics added in. Hopefully that’ll make it easier to stick to them…


For 2016:

  1. Keep getting better at fitting! Actually do an FBA. Specifically, sort out the fitting of the Florence Tulip dress so that it can be worn to a wedding next summer.
  2.  Make jeans! Ginger jeans. Just sodding do it! Before winter.
  3. Make Lingerie. Have another go at Watson, and at Boylston.
  4.  Challenge myself with my knitting. I’d like to have a go at socks, and at some more colourwork.
  5. Make some shirts for Monsieur. If anyone has recommendations for a slim fitting mens shirt, I’d love to hear them! 

Bonus goal: Keep getting better. Don’t get stuck in the rut of only sewing things I know work for me, try new things! 

Wellington put on a pretty spectacular (filter free) final evening of 2015.

So thats it for another year. I hope you’ve all seen off 2015 in a manner which you’ve found enjoyable, here’s to an excelent 2016!

Hits and Misses 2015

I really enjoyed taking part in the Top 5 blog series hosted by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow last year, so I was happy to see it was happening again this year! I’m going to look at my hits and misses today, and then do my reflections and goals closer to the end of the year (only a few weeks away, argh!). So, in no particular order…

Top 5 hits of 2015:

1)A definite no brainer, I’m still amazed that I made this coat! I love everything about it, the amazing wool, the shape, the fit, the sewing experience. It kept me lovely and warm all winter, and I’ve finally got over my fear of it getting wet.
2) My Closet Case Files Carolyn Pyjamas. And not just because they won me that amazing prize! I loved the planning and designing that went into these, coming up with my monogram was lots of fun. 

3) Scout! My ultimate T&T. I love messing around with this pattern, and I love wearing it. I actually made 6 this year, but one was for my Mum (the other two are coming Mum, promise!).

4) Hand knitted jumpers. So warm! One of my goals for the year was to get better at knitting, and I think I definitely forfilled that aim! I learned how to knit cables (Wickerwork Sweater), short rows and shaping (both Lesley and Lila) and I’m working on a lace panelled jumper now. I even managed some fairisle!

5) Squeaking in at the last minute is my Southport dress. I love it, I’ve already picked out fabric for another one (maybe two) and I’m so annoyed that its been wet and windy this week, because I want to wear it again!

Top 5 misses of 2015:


1) My Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt. I like the pattern, and I loved the brushed double gauze, but they don’t work together very well. I also made some fitting errors which meant that it looks like a maternity shirt. Also, the mismatched plaid down the front makes me cross. 

2) Silk Chiffon Alder dress. Its probably a bit harsh putting this in the fail pile, but there are a few issues with it that have stopped me wearing it. One is the fact that it is insanely static-y, and I haven’t found a slip which works with it. I might make a Nettie dress in a knit to go under it. The collar is also a bit sad and floppy now that I’ve washed the starch out, so I might need to put some back in! I chose bad interfacing, I should have used silk organza.

3) Named Kanerva top. Just bad fabric choices! I like the pattern, but it needs to be made with a fabric with some stretch. 

4) Waton Bra. Never blogged, this is only a first trial run, so its probably a bit mean to include this one too. The longline part of the bra means its really comfortable, but the interfacing I used is shredding already and it keeps rolling up. Next time I’ll use some proper reinforcement (now that I’ve found some), but I’m not sure how to fix the rolling up problem. I considered two strips of boning in the side seams, but that seems to defeat the point of a soft bra… Once I’ve figured that issue out, I’ll use my Blackbird kit!

5) …I can’t think of a fifth! I’ve had a pretty successful and productive sewing year 🙂