Wow – it’s 2020! When did that happen? 2020… it’s hard to believe it. It sounds so futuristic to my ears still! In any case – I hope you all had a fantastic New Year. We had quite a quiet one. We were supposed to be taking advantage of Grandma being in town and going out to get down with the kids at a party (not our kids, just kids in general as we are old) and I even made a dress on NYE for it. Then just as we were about to leave, my husband sheepishly told me he’d forgotten to buy tickets and it was sold out… le sigh. I was not mad AT. ALL. (honest) so we went and watched Star Wars instead in my new dress (which was epic) and then to a local pub, which was really very nice and reminded me that the most important thing was being with my husband. My forgetful, sometimes-useless husband, but nevertheless… my husband.
Anyway, this has nothing to do with anything, except that it’s also that time of year when you sum up the previous 12 months and think of a few things you’d like to do in the subsequent 12. I like to write a nerdy post, which helps me figure out what I’m doing and is fun to read back at a later date. It’s also kind of the third part of Gillian’s Top 5 series – my Parts 1: Hits and 2: Misses are here if you want to catch up…
Okay, first things first: what did I make this year?
I made 69 items, which is roughly the same as last year (66). Of those, more were for me than last year too, proportionally speaking! Ha. It’s, funny because I almost feel like I made less this year, but there we are. Just under three quarters of my projects were for me, me, me, which equates to 51 items, or almost one a week. That genuinely seems a lot more than I expected.
When I look at the types of garments, it becomes a little more clear – I made more tops and tees than anything else this year – and actually only minimal numbers of trousers and skirts. I made more dresses than I thought, but most of these were simple affairs, such as t-shirt dresses or shifts, so they were fast to put together. Another aspect is that I made multiples of some garments and also more TNTs than ever before. For example, when I made the Shirt No. 1 by 100 Acts of Sewing, I made three because I wanted to try out different fabrics and variations.
I also made a number of coats as well as three (very successful) jumpsuits, so actually a wider variety of types of garments than ever before. One reason I made multiple basics is that I put on some weight compared to the last year as I was not training as intensively (not at all actually). Some of my best-loved projects from 2018 don’t fit me terribly well now (sob) and is probably why I veered away from too many fitted garments this year (even if it was subconscious). I made a lot of loose and airy garments, many with ties to add some shape. Jumpsuits were a big hit! Did anyone not make a jumpsuit in 2019??
Company-wise, I used patterns from a number of different designers again and found some new faves: Marilla Walker and Ensemble Patterns, for example, and I shall be making more of their patterns. Named Patterns and Liesl + Co. were the top companies, although l do write for Liesl’s blog, so that skews it slightly in her favour. I would make her clothes in any case, but perhaps not quite so many. Wiksten was a bit hit as I made the shift dress (twice), plus the Wiksten Haori and loved both. Deer and Doe patterns continue to work for me as does Seamwork (mostly).
One stat I didn’t pull out last year that I did want to this year was to take a look at how many of my garments are “free-choice” as opposed to challenge or commitment-led. Now, I don’t in any way mean that I am obliged to make these projects: I enjoy challenges and community-based sews, but, nevertheless I was interested. I did not include fairly open IG challenges where you can choose from a broad range of patterns, but am meaning more commitments like Sew My Style 2019, where I was a leader, so sewed quite specific patterns. As you can see, a decent amount of projects were linked to sewing commitments, but this number includes all my sews. When you just look at the items I made for myself, it is fewer – just 26 of my items or 50% were totally free-choice. This is not a good, nor a bad thing, but it does lead me on to… social/community sewing.
One of my consistent aims since I started sewing at the end of 2015 has been to get sewcial. I’m a social person and I wanted to meet people and talk about it – I’m not the lone sewer type. I’m someone who volunteers for things and wants to get involved – and my most involved project this year was Sew My Style 2019.
I was a leader or sub-leader for 4 of the 12 months and tried to make an item for the other months too – I think I missed just one. Some of these garments are in my favourites list for the year and they really helped me amp up my skills too. Nothing like the pressure of helping other people to make you up your game! My Stevie denim jacket (bottom left) was the highlight in that sense – it was a complicated project anyway, but figuring out how to put in a Sherpa lining all by myself was a breakthrough moment for me in terms of skillz. Sew My Style was a mostly enjoyable experience and I met some talented fellow sewists. We had a bit of a rocky start, but I was glad to do it, and although I didn’t apply to lead again, I will certainly be following along for the fourth year running!
I am also still a member of Liesl + Co. Advisor’s Circle, which is much more of an occasional thing and mostly involves volunteering blog posts when you have an idea, or want to make a pattern (new ones particularly). I enjoy this and feel I’ve settled into it this year, after feeling a little intimidated last year by some of the skills of my peers in the group (although not by them! They’re a lovely bunch of sewists). Above are a few of my projects from 2019.
I also did Make Nine again this year and am pleased to say that my strategy of going for fabrics and pattern books this year really worked as I made 8 out of the 9 grid items and had fun doing so! I’m going to do something similar this year. I also did a few other random challenges through the year and will continue to do those as well, I’m sure. I have Meg’s Twists and Ties in my sights for January! Ha.
Did I meet my 2019 goals?
As I say every year, I’m not militant about this, but it’s a good exercise to look back and see how I did during the year and even how my goals changed…
- Stashbusting: This was definitely my BIG goal for the year and it was a… partial success I guess, but mostly a fail. I learnt a few things about my sewing, the first being I will NEVER sew all my stash. I kept a very careful record of everything I sewed and bought through the year and I sewed WELL over 100 yards. My aim was to reduce my overall stash by 100 yards and I managed…well… 20 yards. Oh dear.
The truth is I bought too much again this year and didn’t get rid of enough. I had grand plans to sell some, donate other pieces (I did donate some actually, but not enough) and cut back on spending, but I had lots of good fabric trips this year – Vancouver Frocktails, Portland Frocktails, Montana, Sew Expo… it was hard. A renewed stashbusting pledge is definitely coming up for 2020. I DO feel like I’m buying better fabric than before I must say, but, man, some beautiful fabric came out this year (I’m looking at you Ruby Star Society).
2. UFO alert: I didn’t finish any UFOs again. Mostly because I’m heavier, so they won’t fit. I don’t have too many in all honestly, but this was a fail.
3. Work on My Wardrobe: Okay, things start to look up here. I feel like I had a good year in terms of working on my wardrobe. I succeeded in putting together a couple of robust “collections” ensuring that items I made went together rather than just making things on a whim and ending up with a mountain of wardrobe orphans (so sad).
I made a Spring/Summer plan in the first half of the year based on many things, including colours I wear a lot and a wardrobe purge, and sewed pretty much the whole thing! It seems fairly successful – I certainly wear many of the pieces a lot, but I had intended to do a follow-up post and never got around to it. Oh well.
I also did an informal linen/double gauze wardrobe further into summer when we booked to go to Virginia on holiday and I realized I was missing those easy-to-wear throw on linen items that still look put together in some way. I made the Wiksten shift, the Zadie jumpsuit, the Maya top and a pair of Nani Iro linen trousers in quick succession and I wore them a LOT. They were exactly what I was after and I will definitely add some more this year.
One area my wardrobe has been lacking any coherence is in the outerwear department as I haven’t really made any coats before. I came up with an Autumn/Winter coat plan and have made 4 out of the 7 coats I planned. They are of course not all heavy winter coats – some are more spring jackets, but they will do very nicely to round off my outfits.
4. Take some specific classes: I didn’t take quite as many as I’d have liked to, but I did take a hacking class at Drygoods Design, a shirt draping class with David Coffin, and a sleeves class at Sew Expo. I got better at fitting myself and picked up a few other skills, but I really want to focus on this in 2020.
5. Be more specific in my choices: This is kind of tied into the wardrobe goal above. Doing Me-Made May again this year proved just as invaluable as the previous years and really acts for me as an annual check-up on how I’m getting on – what works, what doesn’t, etc. If you haven’t taken part in this, I can highly recommend it as a yardstick tool. It’s not entirely the point of the challenge, but it’s a priceless side-effect for me.
Sewing Goals for 2020
I’ve thought about these quite a bit and so here they are:
- Stashbusting – yes I’m giving it another go, haha! I really think I can cut my stash by 100 yards this year. I CAN DO IT!
2. Skills/Best Practice:
Part a) I really want to up my intermediate skills this year and something I’ve thought of is to do a “Best Practice” series. I don’t know about you, but I make patterns from so many companies and each has a method for, say, attaching a collar, that’s just a little bit different from other designers. I have found some I love that really work for me, but always forget which ones. So I’m going to make a list!
Part b) Similarly, I want to take some classes/practice in intermediate finishing techniques and piecing. Maybe even some drafting this year.
3. Use some video classes: This is definitely a goal of mine this year. I have both a Bluprint and a Creativebug subscription. I know there’s a wealth of info there just waiting for me to tap into. Plus I need to get some value from the damn subscriptions!
4. Make some crazy/challenging clothes! I definitely want to continue streamlining my wardrobe and making clothes I can throw on every day. I feel for the first time that a practical handmade wardrobe is within my grasp now. The gaps are getting smaller and I’m slowly but surely finding my style. I’m also participating less in commitment-led sews as per my chart at the top because I want to spend time on more challenging patterns and maybe go a little crazy! I have patterns from companies like DP Studio, Trend Patterns and the Big 4 that are a little out there, but I’m excited to try something different. I’d also like to explore ideas like bias-cut clothing this year and understand fabric and cut in a little more depth.
So there we are! Another fun year of sewing in what has turned out to be a life-changing hobby for me. One other goal I have set myself is to read more this year. I adore reading and have read voraciously my entire life, but it’s really the one thing that’s gone out of the window the last few years due to time. I’ve also been reading a lot of sewing books, lol! Anyway, I’ve signed up to Goodreads and am already 2 books in, so am actually super-excited to dive back into that world – I’ve missed it a lot!
What about you? Have you made any plans? I try to read as many of these round-ups as I can at this time of year as I love to see what people are planning. 😀