My #SewingTop5 Hits of 2020!

It’s the 20th of December! Argh! When did that happen? I’m actually reasonably organised for the holidays this year (I say this tentatively in case I’m tempting fate here) but I haven’t done a whole lot of sewing the last few weeks (at least, garment sewing) and I completely forgot about the end of year round-ups, which I love to take part in. I have lots of thoughts about the Year That Was 2020, but I’ll perhaps save those for the longer Reflections and Plans post I’ll do last. For now, here is my Sewing Top 5 Hits take that is part of a traditional round-up series from Gillian/The Sewcialists that I’ve taken part in for four years now. (Here are the same posts from 2019, 2018 and 2017 if you’re interested). Next up with be Sewing Fails and then the aforementioned Reflections post for 2020.

Without further ado, here are my #SewingTop5 Hits for 2020. It was actually really hard to pick this year. As I looked through my year’s sewing, I felt like a lot of my garments in 2020 had turned out rather well and the proportion of items I’m wearing on a regular basis is very high. This is in no small part down to the fact that I made a couple of intentional capsule wardrobes this year and the items from them are in high rotation. As always, it begs the question of how you classify your “best” makes and it’s not easy. I’ve gone for a mixture and here they are!

  1. Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

The Dawn jeans are one of the best known jeans patterns out there, along with the Closet Case Gingers, Morgans and the Cashmerette Ames jeans. I’d already made a couple of pairs – did I really need to try another pattern? Well, the answer was “yes” – and I’m really glad I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed this sew and the result was super!

The Dawns are high-waisted rigid-denim jeans that come in a variety of leg styles. I made the tapered leg version in a regular length size 18 and they fit me really very well from the off. I made a few adjustments to the rise and a full tummy adjustment, all outlined in my blog post at the time, but they were fairly minimal/typical adjustments for me and I really do love the final shape. I had plans for two more pairs – a wine corduroy pair and a wide cropped pair in a different denim, but I have yet to cut them out. Not to worry – the reason this is one of my top makes is that I know already I will be using this patterns for years to come. It’s a good ‘un!

2. Allie Olson Highlands Wrap Dress

I tested this dress for Allie earlier in the year and it was one of those fulfilling sewing experiences that happen every now and again. The draft for the D cup is lovely and the design of the entire dress is definitely one of my favourites. The Highlands Wrap Dress can look glam in one fabric and like a casual summer dress in another version, depending on the options you choose and the styling. It has tons of coverage, but still manages to look a little sexy, thanks to the leg splits and shaping.

The finishing on the dress is beautiful, which definitely adds to the sewing experience in my book. I’ve put plenty of details on the project in my post from May, but the versatility of this dress is what put it into my Top 5 for the year. I wore it dressed up to an extremely fancy dinner for my anniversary in August, and also with flip flops to the beach in September and felt equally at home on both occasions. I love it!

3. Nani Iro Atelier Coat Q

I’ve made a fair few coats this year and I must say that I do really enjoy coat-making. I can see why people get addicted to it, even if it is one of the more complex garments you can fashion. I probably would have put my new Willa Coat up as one of my Top 5, but I haven’t had a chance to really wear it too much yet. On the other hand, I can safely say that another of my outerwear projects – the Nani Iro Atelier Coat Q – is a coat I’ll be wearing for a long time.

It’s a lightweight affair for a coat, being unlined and completely composed of linen, but it is was one of my best marriages of pattern and fabric this year. It’s a simple shape, but was a delight to make and it goes with EVERYTHING. Even more than that, it’s the sort of item that actually makes an outfit. I noticed as soon as I started pairing it with other garments that it really pulled my day’s clothing together in the kind of “no effort”way that I always wished I could pull off before I started sewing. The black and white graphic nature of the linen is just so typical of my own personal style that it goes with a large proportion of my wardrobe. It’s unassuming but brilliant in the same way as, say, a plain but well-cut white shirt is.

3rd place runner up: Seamwork Sadie top

To be honest, I could have included virtually all the pieces in my Great Module Sewalong in Spring this year, In terms of practicality and cohesiveness, the wardrobe was a total (and slightly surprising) success. The Dawn jeans were from that module, as was the Nani Iro coat – and here’s my 3rd place runner-up. The third item I picked out was this Sadie top from Seamwork. It’s a fairly simple sweater and I modified it quite a bit, but it’s so comfortable that I wear it all the time. I will definitely be making more of these. Great wardrobe staples.

4. I AM Patterns Irma Shirtdress

This is a pretty recent project and I always wonder if I’m swayed by the fact I’m still in love with recent finishes, but I do think this dress is one of the most fun things I’ve made during the -frankly- crappy year of the pandemic. It brought some much needed light relief to my day and I plan to wear it on New Year’s Eve.

The Irma has the structured aspects of a shirt that I’m totally into, but then it has this dramatic high-low hemline and enough ease for a full floaty turn everywhere you go. It’s a frothy cocktail of a dress and I’m here for it. All the details are in my post from a few weeks ago, including how to finish the placket sleeve, which needed a touch more by way of instruction imo. I’m wearing it pretty plain in these pictures just to highlight the actual dress, but I have all sorts of fun ideas to wear it as part of a layered outfit and I’m looking forward to trying some of those out.

5. Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirtdress

Man, it really was hard to pick this year! I did a fair amount of testing in 2020. I hadn’t really planned to, but a number of designers started producing (and reissuing) patterns in extended sizing which more often than not included a D cup draft. I was pleased to get the chance to test a few patterns for Closet Case Patterns and particularly because their extended size 16 is almost exactly identical to my own measurements. It was a dream and I loved everything I tried (Charlie Caftan, Blanca Flightsuit, Kalle Shirtdress), but the Kalle shirtdress was my favourite.

I’ve made the Kalle shirt before and I tried my best to get a good result with an FBA, but it was fantastic to use a professionally extended version of the pattern. I’d always intended to make the shirtdress view and this was another happy marriage of a cool pattern with a favourite stash fabric – this time a Japanese lawn from Kokka. You can see another example of the great coordinating powers of my Nani Iro Q Coat over on this blog post too – it makes me so happy.

Every time I look back over my shortlist of what I’ve enjoyed making this year, I keep changing my mind as to what my Top 5 are. It’s a nice problem to have! I think, overall, I’ve gone for pieces that are well-drafted and were really satisfying to make, but that I also reach for in the cupboard, even if it’s the less frequent “going-out” cupboard for the Irma and the Highlands Wrap. I really could have listed a bunch!

Here is my Instagram Top 9 pic for 2020, which shows some of the same projects and a few others – it’s always interesting to see how that compares. I thought it was funny that my “top” picture for the year was a photo of the Summit Packs that my husband and I made for Sew My Style this year. I’ll have to tell him – he’ll be chuffed!

Anyway, up next will be my fails post for the year, which is always my favourite laugh of the year – so stay tuned! Let me know if you do some summary posts – I always love to read other people’s!

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