2012 Reflections/Inspiration

I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about 2012 by now, but don’t fear– this is my last wrap-up post!  For the 100th time (but I sincerely mean it!), thank you, Gillian!

2012’s handmade gifts


1.) I’m not a newbie?

2012 marked the year that I began to feel comfortable thinking of myself as a sewist and a blogger.  2011 was my first year sewing, and I felt afraid to try new things (and when I did, I had mixed results at best).  I’m starting to feel more confident now, knowing that I have so much to learn, but I can and will learn!  I feel much less fearful and much more excited about what my future holds.  Becoming a member of the Mood Sewing Network this year encouraged me to push myself and to work with new fabrics, techniques, and styles (but really, how could I not push myself?  Have you SEEN the other sewists Mood chose?  They make me quake in my boots!).

2012’s knitted garments (some of them are gifts)

2.) Strive for excellence, not perfection.

There’s a poster in my mother-in-law’s guest bedroom full of instructions for how to live a good life (“Call your mother” is underlined in Sharpie, just to drive that point home).  These words jumped out at me– try your hardest, do a good job, seek to improve… but let go of small imperfections!  Perfectionism can suck all the joy out of making.  This is a lesson that I’ve tried hard to absorb this year, and I hope to carry it into 2013.

2012’s tops

3.) Relationships enrich the act of creating.

I love holing up at home and spending the weekend at the sewing machine, but as an outgoing, chatty extrovert, I’ve come to realize how much joy I draw from the communal aspects of the blogosphere.  I love cheering on and commiserating with you guys, keeping tabs on the projects you’re working on, snooping new patterns, and giggling at photos of your pets on Instagram.  2012 was filled with sewalongs, swaps, and meetups, and it was so fun to get to know some of you better!  Heck, I even met in person: Mika, Kerry, Liz, Kelli, Janice, Cindy, Marina, Inna, Peter, Nettie, Christine, Devra, Tricia, Rachel, and Oona!  I honestly believe that my fellow sewing bloggers are among the coolest people on earth.  Meeting up with other people to sew, learn, shop, and hang out is something that I really treasure.

2012’s Grainline patterns (plus a pair of Simplicity pajama pants)!

4.) Take time BEFORE you start sewing to save time AFTER you start.

I made some successful projects this year when I:

  • measured pattern pieces and compared the measurements to similar garments that fit well
  • made muslins and carefully altered them
  • read others’ reviews of patterns
  • paired patterns and fabrics carefully
  • selected projects that would fill holes in my wardrobe
  • didn’t start sewing at midnight

Any failures I had could usually be chalked up to disregarding one (or more!) of these steps.

2012’s indie dresses

5.) My eyes are bigger than my stomach!

I have so many ideas, goals, and self-imposed deadlines, but I rarely have a good handle on how much I can reasonably accomplish.  In 2013, I’ll try to be more realistic about what I can get done, how quickly I can get it done, and how much fabric (and patterns, oh, no!) I actually need and will use.  I spent most of 2012 feeling like I was buried under UFO’s, to-makes, and piles of fabric!

2012’s Big 4 dresses


It goes without saying that I’m inspired by all of you every time I attack my blogroll!  I’m really not into Pinterest, I don’t read style blogs, I haven’t bought a fashion magazine since I was in my teens, but the sight of a gorgeous dress on one of you has me clicking “buy” on a new pattern before my wallet has a chance to let out a whimper of protest!  That said, my official sources of inspiration have to be the indie designers that had me wiping drool off my keyboard all year long– Kristiann, Megan, Jen, Sarai, Tasia, Charlotte and Elisalex, Cindy, Dixie, Zo, and Katie.  Thanks, gals, for following your dreams and giving me sweet patterns to make up (so I don’t have to draft my own… we all know I fear math!)!  I will gladly shell out my cash to you– since the feeling you get when you wear a brand-new, super cool, unique dress is basically PRICELESS.  Those of you that give your patterns away for free… holy cow, I could smooch ya smack-dab on the lips!

2012’s vintage pattern makes

Final Tally:

I felt like I had a pretty unproductive year, since I’m a pretty slow sewist and my knitting output was greatly reduced by my sewing mania.  But when I counted up my makes this year, I found that I had hand-made 33 items this year!  That broke down as follows:

  • 9 knitted items
  • 24 sewn items
  • 11 handmade gifts
  • 1 skirt
  • 9 dresses
  • 11 tops
  • 4 unblogged items (2 are gifts that haven’t been delivered, 1 is a FO I hate, and 1 I just realized I never blogged!)
  • 14 garments from indie sewing patterns
  • 6 garments from big 4 patterns
  • 3 garments from vintage patterns
  • 3 Tiny Pocket Tanks
  • 3 Renfrews

How do your 2012 makes compare to mine?  What did you make the most of?  What did you wear the most?  And what lessons did you take away from 2012?

Most importantly, Happy New Year!  I sincerely hope that 2013 brings you joy, good health, and adventure!

Top 5 of 2012: Misses!

Uh-oh… now it’s time to think about my 2012 fails!  I’ve enjoyed reading your posts about misses– looking back over bad sewing projects teaches you lots about fabric choices and what works for you.  I’m sure your 2013 sewing will be so much stronger for it– I know mine will!

1.) Chloe dress


This pattern is so chic, and I love the color combo that I used, but I just haven’t been able to work up the nerve to fix the massive puckering issue I had with this dress.  I’ve picked it up a few times and almost gotten started, but every time I get so irritated and frustrated that I just end up setting it aside again.  Lesson learned: research new fabrics BEFORE you start sewing with them to avoid problems like this in the future!  Also, pay closer attention to instructions during the muslin process– I assumed that adding the binding to the armholes would make them higher, not lower.  Not the case.

2.) Scout tee

Love this pattern, even though it’s not a flattering shape on me.  LOVE the fabric.  Together?  Bad combination.  I feel like I have a stiff sack hanging from my shoulders when I wear this, so it sits in my closet unworn.  Lesson learned: make sure your fabric has the correct amount of drape for the project!  Consider if a style is flattering on your figure before you cut into fashion fabric (don’t just say, “eh, nothing looks good in muslin!” and forge right ahead with your project)!

3.) Hazel dress

I actually wore this dress quite a bit because it’s comfortable and has pockets, so it worked pretty well for hot summer days when I was out scouting.  But.  I never really feel that good in it– it’s just not my style.  Lesson learned: don’t make things that aren’t really your style just because you want to participate in a sewalong!  This is kind of a no-brainer, but I had to learn this lesson the hard way!  🙂

4.) Banksia top

This one is a little surprising, but as much as I love this pattern and the fabric, it’s just too tight through the shoulders so I’m always afraid it’s going to rip when I’m wearing it (and it’s not very comfortable)!  This is entirely my fault– I made a muslin, but for some reason got distracted before I attached the sleeves.  I even cut them out, but just didn’t assemble them.  I need a good 5/8″ more on each shoulder.  I still wear this top often, but it feels pretty annoying to wear something that binds and pulls through the shoulders.  Lesson learned: be more thorough with muslins!  There’s no point in making a muslin if you’re going to rush through that process and not fit it correctly.

5.) Dixie DIY Hot Cocoa Sweater (unblogged due to my shame, sadness, and cowardice)

The Garment Which Shall Not Be Pictured

There are some really sweet versions of Dixie’s lovely (and free!) pattern on the ‘net.  However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a great shape for my figure.  And it was definitely not a good shape for me when I made it with a stiff, barely-stretchy, novelty-print knit.  I looked like a giant triangle, and when I removed the extra fabric on the sides that’s supposed to create a lovely drape (if your fabric has more drape than, say, a cardboard box), all that was left was a shirt that looks EXACTLY like a pajama top that I owned when I was 4 years old and I don’t have the guts to post photos of myself in it.  Lesson learned: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, DON’T BUY NOVELTY PRINTS.  You aren’t going to wear something covered in hot pink hearts.  And DEFINITELY don’t buy stiff, un-drape-y novelty prints.  JUST SAY NO.  Again, consider your figure!  If you hate feeling like a rectangle, don’t make patterns with little shaping out of unforgiving, stiff fabrics.  Sheesh!

So what is the main takeaway here?  Slow down!  Don’t just use any fabric that you have because you’re anxious to try out a pattern.  And do your research ahead of time, learn about the fabric, and consider your figure before making something that looks cute on other people.  Almost every one of these projects was doomed because I used the wrong fabric or didn’t resolve issues at the muslin stage.  That’s really frustrating!  I really like all of the patterns (except for the Hazel dress, which came together without any problems or even any alterations), so you may see some of these pop up in 2013 in a new and improved state.  Let’s just count all of these as (expensive, time-consuming, tantrum-inducing) muslins.

Top 5 of 2012: Hits!

Hi, everyone!  Hope your Christmases were lovely (if you celebrated) and that you’re looking forward to the New Year with hope and optimism!  I’ve so enjoyed reading your Top 5 of 2012 posts that I couldn’t resist and had to join in on the fun!  Thanks, Gillian, for the great idea!

Here are my favorites for 2012!

1.) The Mello Yello dress

This dress ticks all of my boxes– it’s a flattering shape, is simple but has great details, and is a fun, bright color.  I love it!  The only thing I’m not crazy about is that I started it back in September 2011, before my sewing skills were very strong, so it’s not finished as nicely as I would have liked.  But that’s OK.  🙂

2.) Blue Stripe-y Renfrew

Sister baby birds!

This is one of my simplest makes of the year, but I wore this shirt sooooo many times this year.  It’s just a nice, basic top, similar to what I would buy RTW if I was shopping much these days.  Isn’t that the goal of sewing in some ways?  To make stuff that you love AND wear?

3.) Tiny Pocket Tank v.3

Here’s another super wearable favorite.  I love the shape, and it’s just so easy and breezy.  Love this pattern so much!

4.) McCall’s M6553

Here’s another dress that I love– it’s swingy and unusual, in a vibrant color.  I love that it looks completely different belted and unbelted, which makes for a variety of ways to style it.

5.) The Wild Side Pencil Skirt

A late entrant to the competition, this one just barely squeaks into 5th place!  I love the shape of this, love the print, love the weight and drape of the fabric– it’s a real winner.  I feel so grownup and sophisticated in this, but still a little playful and fun.

I spent lots of time nitpicking stuff that I make, so it’s kind of refreshing to look back at what I actually loved this year!  And it’s helped me to figure out what works for me and what I tend to gravitate towards.  I’ll definitely be taking a long look at this list before I start in on my sewing plans for next year.