2014: a year in sewing (and a bit of knitting)

2014 has been a very productive year for me, I managed to make a grand total of 38 items: 13 dresses, 4 skirts, 3 shirts, 8 tops, 1 jacket, 1 swimsuit, a bag and 7 pairs of knickers (I’m counting the knickers as one!)  I’ve also knitted 4 cardigans, a hat and a pair of arm warmers.

Me made May was a catalyst in being able to see what suits me, what I feel comfortable in and what, in essence, is ‘me’.  You can have a quick look in the mirror before going out the door but there’s nothing like photographic evidence for getting a true picture of how an outfit works (or doesn’t) on you.  There were a few items that went in the Charity shop pile after seeing the pictures but there were also a few pleasant surprises.  My main realisation was that I prefer to wear dresses and this is reflected in the thirteen I’ve made this year.   I think in part this is because they are easy to wear, you can just throw them on without having to figure out what goes with what.  Another reason is that being on the short and curvy side they help to ‘elongated’ me, whereas separates tend to break me up a bit too much.

I know it’s traditional to do a top 5 hits and misses but I struggled to pick these,  so I have decided to do favourites, most worn and things left languishing in the wardrobe.

Favourites

My Swishy Anna Dress

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I really love this dress, it fits perfectly, the fabric is lovely and it’s very ‘me’.

My Flock Simplicity 2444 and the accompanying tartan frankenpattern

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I think the tweaks to this pattern have resulted in not far off the perfect fit.  I also have happy memories linked to them as I wore the grey flocked one for the Sew Brum meet up and the tartan was, of course, my Christmas dress!

My Purple and leafy Chardons

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This has proved to be the perfect flarey skirt pattern for me, I love the inverted pleats, it gives a bit of body without having the bulk around the waistline.

My Bombshell Swimsuit

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I enjoyed making this so much and I’m really glad I went for the bottle green.  I am also rather amazed proud that I not only blogged it but posted photos of me wearing it!

 

Most worn

My Ladyskaters

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These have been like wearing pyjamas, so comfortable yet respectable enough to be seen in public.  I actually prefer the blue one, the purple one is starting to bobble a bit but they are both everyday workhorses.

My Maya dress  

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I’ve worn this loads over a long sleeved tee and leggings, it’s so easy to wear, doesn’t need ironing and it’s got flowers around the bottom!

My Archers

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Perfect for wearing with jeans and have therefore been worn a lot at work.

My Miette Cardigans

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I think the Green Miette is my most worn knitted cardigan, I really love the colour and I’ve managed to combine it with a lot of things in my wardrobe.  Another Miette is on the cards once I’ve finished my owl sweater.

My Trixie Lixie Knickers 

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Without a doubt my most worn by far.  I made seven pairs back in April and have worn them daily since.  They are a really good fit, exceptionally comfortable and they have gingham ruffle elastic!  I really need to make a few more pairs as some are starting to look a little too well worn

Languishing in the wardrobe

My Liberty Cambie

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I’m a little sad that my most expensive dress has ended up being barely worn.  The only reason is the fabric, I really liked the dark green and kinda expected the dress to turn out a darker colour but the reality is a very wishy washy yellow colour.  I still can’t figure out how it happened, it’s like some kind of optical illusion!  It just doesn’t work with my skin tone and it’s probably my biggest disappointment.

My Spotty scout tee

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The one time I didn’t pre-wash the fabric, it shrank, ended up in the bin, lesson learned!

My navy eyelet Laurel

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Great when I’m standing up, rides up far too much when I am sitting down and flashes a bit too much leg for my liking!

My outfit a long outfit

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I do like this but I think I’ve only worn the dress twice.  I was never happy with the fit around the shoulders and it didn’t feel very ‘secure’.  I haven’t really worn the cardigan much either, there’s too much fullness in the sleeves and although the colour is a perfect match for the dress it doesn’t really go with anything else in my wardrobe.  Another disappointment as I had been hanging onto the fabric for a couple of years, I do have another two metres left of it though so not a total loss!

Some thoughts for 2015

  • I really need to consider if something will suit my body type before jumping on each new shiny pattern that get’s released!
  • I think I need to slow down a bit and  concentrate on quality rather than quantity.  I’ve made a considerable amount of garments this year but the one’s I’ve most enjoyed the most have been those I’ve taken the time to achieve a good finish.
  • I’m going to try and rid myself of my list making obsession.  Lists and plans have helped me focus but they’ve also taken out the spontaneity and added a bit of pressure.  This year I want to try and go with the flow and just sew whatever I feel like at the time.
  • I really need to get the stash under control.  I’ve got enough fabric to last next year and beyond.  Now I’m not committing  to a total fabric fast, a year without fabric shopping is a far too depressing prospect!  I just need to have a really good sort out of what I’ve got and ‘maybe’ set up some kind of system so I know what I’ve got and how much yardage without having to rummage and measure every time I want to sew something.
  • I am going to commit to a ‘ready to wear’ fast though.  I don’t think this will be difficult as I’ve only bought a handful of rtw garments this year.  I honestly don’t miss going clothes shopping, being liberated from size labels and shop changing rooms is one of the best things about sewing my own.

So that’s another year of sewing.  It has been a brilliant year, I have met some wonderful people through sewing, both online and in real life.  I’ve loved reading comments, blogs and particularly developing my instagram addiction!  Seeing everyone’s creativity has been inspiring and I feel very fortunate to be part of such a fabulous community.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Cambie Dress number one

Last Christmas I decided to be really pro-active about presents.  I’m usually the kind of ‘surprise me’ person, I always think it’s a bit rude to ask for things for some reason.  However, my previous attitude used to result in flummoxed relatives with no idea of what to get me.  Consequently I’d end up with slippers, PJ’s and an array of smelly bath stuff!  Last year my list of want’s consisted of sewing patterns and fabric!  My Mother-in-law kindly got me the Sewaholic Cambie Dress pattern and three metres of Liberty Tana Lawn.  Now I have to admit I have been a little apprehensive about starting this project, mainly because I didn’t want to ruin such lovely (and expensive) fabric!  However with summer on the way and questions about when I was going to get it done I could put it off no longer!

I decided the best course of action was to do a trial run in something a lot cheaper that I didn’t mind if I made a hash of!  This is generally my habit when I am trying a new pattern, I am too impatient to make a toile so I generally just dive in with what I suppose you could call a wearable muslin.  I have realised that I am short waisted so I always take an inch off the length of the bodice but other than that I just trace the size closest to my measurements and wing it!

I picked up this Blue fabric a few week’s ago specifically to make my first Cambie with, I’ve no idea what it is but would guess at Rayon as it is very drapey!

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The dress is described as a ‘fitted, lined dress features a sweetheart neckline, darted bodice and extended cap sleeves. View A has a slim A-line skirt with slash pockets and view B has a full gathered skirt with inseam pockets’

I went for view B.   As it calls for a full lining I planned to use some buttery soft white cotton that I’d got five metres of in my stash.  I decided however to just use this to line the skirt and then line the bodice in my main fabric. (didn’t want to risk the lining peeking out!) This dress eat’s a lot of fabric! It took three and a half metres to cut the main dress and bodice lining and a further metre and a half just to line the skirt!  I cut a size 14 as that seemed to fit my measurements.  I was a little unsure about the sweetheart neckline, thought it might emphasise my bustyness too much so I redrafted the front bodice piece to form a straight neckline.

Now I seem to have developed a fear of sewing things that are too small, I keep muttering the ‘trust the measurements’ mantra but I’m always worried that I’ll spend so much time making something that is unwearable (this happened with a By Hand London Charlotte skirt which I couldn’t zip up for love nor money!). As I was sewing the bodice pieces together I decided to keep my seam allowances as small as possible (about 6mm) my thinking being that it would be easier to take in than let out!

The dress pieces and the lining pieces are identical apart from the sleeve lining piece.  You are essentially making two dresses before sewing them together along the zipper and bodice top and sleeves.  When it came to attaching my bodice and skirt to the waistband I had a bit of a panic.  I tried the waistband around my waist and it only just met…. hmmm.  Just to be on the safe side I recut two more waistbands adding two more inches for good measure!  After sewing everything together I decided to try it on for size and guess what?  It was about two inches too big!  I really should just have faith in the measurements given on the pattern envelope!  I had to take an inch of each side from the underarm, through the waistband and skimming to the top of the pocket.  Tried it again and it was spot on!

The next step was to insert the invisible zipper.  Learning from my wrinkly Anna zip I cut two strips of fusible interfacing for the centre back.  The first side went in like a dream but the second was a complete pig!  I had decided to start sewing the second side from the waistband down so I could get a good match but it just wasn’t happening, I had to unpack it three times, by then the interfacing had been unpacked to death!  I eventually settled for ‘good enough’ even though there is a slight wonky bit at the waist!  For some reason it is really tricky to zip up but no problem to unzip, at least I’m not going to have an attack of claustrophobia trying to get out of it!

Sewing the lining and dress together went without a hitch.  The only thing It’s change next time would be to do the pocket lining’s in my main fabric, I did them in white lining fabric for this version and they are quite noticeable when you put your hands in them!  Anyway here’s some pictures:

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On Doris (My dressform!)

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The inside!

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Overall I’m more than happy with this dress.  I think the straight neckline adds a little more modesty (and helps to contain the girls!)  Will do the same adjustment on my ‘proper’ dress.  Now I just have to pluck up the courage to cut into the Liberty, I shan’t show you which print it is yet, you’ll just have to tune in next time to see!

Have you got any fabrics in your stash that you are too scared to cut into?