Celebrations, resolutions and goals for 2015

Firstly, Happy new year!

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I hope you all saw 2014 off in a manner you found enjoyable! I spent it playing board games, drinking beer and finishing off Christmas chocolates with some good friends, capped off by the torrential rain and howling gales stopping just in time for the midnight fireworks display. It was an excellent way to spend the evening!

Secondly, happy first birthday to my wee blog!

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When I wrote my first post, a year ago today, I really hoped that I would be able to keep my resolution to do something creative every week for the rest of the year. I also had vague hopes that someone might read some of my posts, but it was mostly just a way to keep myself motivated. I also planned on doing a lot more crafting, and less sewing, but sewing soon took over! I’m amazed when I look back over the year just how much my sewing has improved. I had sewn a bit before 2014, and had taken a few classes with my friend the Dreamstress, but my skills were still rudimentary at best! I never finished my seams, I was sketchy about things like grainlines and pattern matching, and didn’t really have a clue about picking the right fabric for my projects. And fitting was something which happened at the point after basic construction had been done! I still struggle with some of these things, especially fitting and fabric selection, but i’ve come a long way! But by far, the best thing to come out of writing this blog is joining the incredible online sewing community, and connecting with so many other amazing, inspiring and helpful people. Thank you all so much for reading, commenting and offering so much advice!

Here is my year of making things in numbers…

~58 things made,
~42 garments sewn, 13 accessories crafted or sewn, 3 items refashioned, 1 garment knitted,
~22 tops, 9 dresses, 7 skirts/bottoms (and a playsuit), 3 items of outerwear,
~21 garments made out of knits, and 21 made out of wovens (surprisingly, I thought knits would dominate!)
~40 garments made from indie patterns, 3 from patterns taken off RTW garments
~Finally, to my shame, out of all of those garments, only 4 were for other people!

Not a bad years work, really!

I’m going to finish off this post with my Top 5 reflections and goals for 2015..

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Reflections (as if this whole post hasn’t been a reflection…here is the tl;dr version!)

I actually can pretty much make what ever I like, as long as I take my time, do some research and allow time and resources for making mistakes. This goes for sewing and knitting, and I assume most other things in life! I also need to remember that the given instructions aren’t necessarily the only way to do things, but if I’m going to deviate from them I should probably stop and think carefully about what I’m going to do instead, rather than cutting/sewing first, and ‘just winging it’…

Goals for 2015

-get better at fitting woven garments. I should really learn how to do an FBA, as I think that will fix a lot of my upper back/shoulder fitting issues. I also need to study up on sway back adjustments. I would also like to learn more about pattern drafting (which shouldn’t be hard, as I currently know nothing about pattern drafting…)

-make jeans! I bought the Ginger jeans pattern during my pattern buying binge at the beginning of december, now I just need to find some appropriate denim. Its proving to be more challenging than I expected…

-make lingerie. Totally planning to jump on the bra making bandwagon next year! I think I’ll ease myself into it with the Watson Bra (I have the Watson Bra kit from Blackbird Fabrics winging its way across the ocean, can’t wait!) then try the Marlborough bra if that goes well. I also want to try swimwear, I have the Bombshell pattern and might try a Watson/Bombshell bikini if I get time this summer.

-improve my knitting. I really want to learn how to do cables, and I’d love to try some stranded colourwork or fairisle for winter.

-start doing some sewing for monsieur, starting with some shorts and new tee shirts! I have the Thread Theory Jedediah pattern waiting to be cut out for him, and I should really get onto it because he’s wearing his swimming shorts out and about at the moment! He would also like a shirt, but the idea of that is a bit scary so I might need to work up to it.

-bonus goals: keep blogging! I’m not planning to do have something to post every week this year, as I’m going to increase my postgrad studies and I would like some time for other things as well! I do plan to keep sewing, and blogging about what I’ve made. I’m also hopeful that I’ll be able to add some sewing and crafting for our new house, when we manage to buy one…

Congrats if you managed to get to the end of that, it feels like a very long-winded post! Massive thanks again to all you wonderful people, heres to an exciting, productive and fun 2015!!

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Hits and Misses 2014

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More Top 5, this time my hits and misses for the year. I actually found it quite hard to put this list together, as I feel like everything I’ve made has taught me something, even if it has turned out to be something I’ve barely worn. I’ve mostly based my lists on what I’ve worn most/least, with a few things that I’m especially proud of thrown in. So, in no particular order…

Top 5 Hits of 2014

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-My mustard button back top, from the Grainline Hemlock pattern. I wore this all winter over my button down shirts, and I’ve been tossing it over my striped tee shirts as an extra layer when its a bit cool in the mornings on my way to work. Its been worn so much that one of the cuff bands is starting to come away from the sleeve, so I’ll need to fix it up soon! I used interfacing on a knit for the first time on the button bands of this top, though I wasn’t game to attempt buttonholes!

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-Tee shirts! I know its kind of cheating, lumping all of these together, but learning to make my own tee shirts which actually fit has been so awesome. I like making pretty dresses and skirts, but my monday to friday uniform is tee shirts and jeans (and that tends to be what I wear on the weekend too, unless I’m doing something special), its hard to get excited about what I wear during the week as I get changed into scrubs as soon as I get to work. The Renfrew and Bronte patterns are great, and I love being able to mess about with the pattern to get exactly the teeshirt I want. Every tee shirt I’ve made has taught me something different about working with knits (including how to sew knits in the first place), and about how different knits will act and affect the look of a garment, even if the pattern is the same.

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-My gingham Scout Tee, the happy accident! I love wearing this top, it fits me perfectly through the shoulders and back and it makes me feel good. I have so many plans for other Scouts, but they’ll have to be pretty exceptional to usurp this one from my favourites pile.

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-the Papercut Patterns Coppelia cardigan. Probably the worst photos on my blog are in that post, as I had to take them at night under artificial lighting! But the cardigan is one of my most worn me-made items, it goes beautifully with my dresses, or just with a tee shirt and jeans. Initially, the red merino dyed my tee shirts pink, but it stopped doing that after several washes!

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-my Grainline Archer shirt. This was the first thing I made which made me sit back and think ‘holy shit, I cant believe I’ve just made that!’ It’s far from perfect, but it was my first foray into the world of collar stands, shirt cuffs and plackets and button bands, so I’m really very proud of it. And there are many more to come!

Honorable mentions should go to my Malu coat, which has had a depressing amount of wear given that I finished it as the beginning of summer, and to my Grainline Alder, for many of the same reasons as my Archer shirt made the list!

Now for my top 5 Misses of the year…

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-my Papercut patterns Rigel Bomber. I don’t know why, but I just don’t feel comfortable wearing this! On a practical level, the cuffs are too tight, but that doesn’t account for why I don’t like wearing it. I’m a bit sad about it, because I put a lot of effort into making it, but you can’t win them all! I think I’ll join in with the Rigel Bomber Jacket January sewalong, and maybe made it in a heavy knit instead. I will not let it beat me! This jacket was my first attempt at welt pockets, and at drafting a lining for an unlined jacket, so I learned a lot sewing it.

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Merino Moneta dress. Just a bad choice of fabric! The merino is far too soft and heavy, and doesn’t have much in the way of recovery, so was never going to be a good choice for a close fitting dress. I’ve worn it a few times, but it just stretches out over the day, and I end up feeling a bit swamped in it! Making it was a good learning experience though, and I’ve learned my lesson regarding knit fabric choices.

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– my Macgyvered mens tee shirt. This was a total experiment , I took a patten off one of Monsieurs RTW tee shirts. Unfortunately I forgot to add seam allowances, and then I sewed the whole thing with flatlocked seams, which don’t appear to be particularly strong…as a result, it is pretty much falling apart. I’m really pleased with how the pattern turned out though, and next time I’ll add seam allowances and sew it together with a stronger stitch, and it should be good!

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-my Flolly playsuit. I’m kind of gutted about this one, because I was really looking forward to making it! Unfortunately, its incredibly uncomfortable. If I lift my arms up, I give myself the most incredible wedgie, and the same if I bend over. Not good! I think it might be the result of over fitting, if I had made the playsuit in a softer fabric, and made it looser and more relaxed, then I think it would have worked better.

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-my Colette Jasmine top. This was one of the earliest things i made for this blog, and it shows! Its miles too big, the fabric is way too stiff for this blouse, and then I used stiff interfacing on all of the facings! It was a nightmare, but it did teach me about cutting and sewing bias cut fabrics, and was my first foray into matching stripes (which I have to say, look remarkably good for a first attempt!) Also, no seam finishing at all!

Looking at this list, my major successes this year seem to be Grainline Studios patterns, and things made from merino wool. I’m lucky to have such easy access to merino in pretty much any colour and weight I could ever possibly want, its so lovely to sew with and wear! My misses seem to be mainly a result of poor fabric choices, so thats something to work on next year. Now I’m going to go back to fighting with the zip on my Christmas dress, it just does not want to go in invisibly…

Festive Sewing part 2: Secret Santa Scarf (maybe…)

I’m really not sure how I feel about my post today! Its supposed to be my gift for our work Secret Santa swap, but I’m not sure if it’ll be appropriate…I don’t know the girl who’s name I pulled out of the hat (ok, it was a kidney dish, cos that’s how we roll in theatre), and I’m not sure if its the sort of thing she’s wear! I quite like it, but I’m willing to admit that pink pom poms may not be for everyone. Its especially hard to tell when you only ever see each other in blue scrubs!

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I made the scarf out of the remains of the fabric from the dress I am currently making, its a lovely soft Italian cotton lawn from The Fabric Store. I really wanted navy pom pom trim, after seeing the pom pom trimmed scarf tutorial on Indiesew, but apparently no one in Wellington stocks pom pom trim in sensible colours like navy or grey, and black or white didn’t look right. So I went with pale pink, which I thought would be a nice contrast but not too childlike.

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I had a bit of a brain fail trying to sew the scarf together, I sewed the whole lot inside out, then tried to turn it through a hole in the seam. I must have been tired, because that was obviously never going to work! I ended up with a pom pom trimmed tube, like a muff. After a bit of swearing, I got it back inside out, and unpicked the long seam. That was a total bastard to unpick, because the trim meant I couldn’t just pull lengths of the thread out, I had to undo it stitch by stitch! Once I had it unpicked, I just folded under the raw edge and topstitched it over the pom pom tape. Its not quite as neat, but it looks ok.

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I think its quite cute, but I’m not sure it’ll make a great gift. What do you guys think? Does it look too much like a pillowcase? Will it be a confusing present, should I just go with the Body Shop stuff I bought originally? I am deeply conflicted here!

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Meanwhile, I thought I would participate in the Top Five annual roundup which is hosted by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow. I’ll do Highlights today, and then combine Hits and Misses, and Goals and Reflections. So…

Top 5 Highlights of my year (in no particular order)

-Starting a new job! I did love working in a big public hospital, but I think i love having regular working hours and not having to work weekend, evening and nightshifts more. I miss (some of) my colleagues, and I sometimes miss the excitement, but I do enjoy how busy and stable my new job is.

-My summer trip around the West Coast. It was awesome to see parts of the country I hadn’t visited before, and it was really nice spending time with Monsieur’s extended family.

-Getting through my first year of big girl post graduate study. I was pretty unsure about the course when I started, but by the end of the second trimester I was really enjoying it, and I’m looking forward to my papers next year. I’m working towards a Masters in Information Studies, if you’re interested!

-Getting the ball rolling on looking for a house of our own. The house hunting process has been a bit soul destroying, and missing out on a house you really want sucks, but its all a learning curve, and I can’t wait until we find (and actually manage to buy) our first home. Then I’ll be a real adult, right?

-Starting and maintaining this blog! I’ve met some seriously awesome people in the online sewing community, and I don’t know if I would have kept up with my weekly challenges or made such a huge variety of garments without your support and the incredible amount of inspiration you all provide! So thank you all 🙂

Finally, this week I was invited to become a part of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network, or WSBN, which is very exciting! I’m looking forward to drinking tea and having sewing geek outs with the rest of the ladies in the group in the new year.