Top 5 of 2013: Reflections, Inspirations, & Goals

Hi, guys!  Hope your New Year’s Eve celebrations are safe and joyous!  My New Year’s Eve’s tend to be quiet and introspective, despite the fact that I’m neither quite nor introspective.  It’s nice to pause in the midst of the holiday madness and reflect on the year past and the year to come– I think I need a little thoughtful time before embarking on another sure-to-be chaotic year!  So today I wanted to share my 2013 reflections, inspirations, and goals.

Reflections: I thought it would be fun to revisit my goals for 2013 and see how I did!

  • Organize my sewing space! Check!  If this was the only goal I accomplished all year, I’d still be happy!  My sewing area was completely and totally out of control, unorganized, and uncomfortable.  We saved up and bought a nice table that has just enough room for my sewing machine, serger, and rotary mat, and I put together a cube storage system for fabric, scraps, UFOs, and odds and ends.  I added a little rolling tray from IKEA for extra storage, and Man Friend gave me a lovely rolling chair for my birthday in November, which really completed the setup.  This setup replaces my previous, ultra-elegant system of two folding card tables and a pile of Mood bags.  I feel SO much saner, happier, and more productive now that I’m not working in the middle of an awful mess.
  • Sew pants!  Total fail– never got around to this.  This year went by at an insane pace, and I never even came close to starting this.
  • Sew a jacket! Check!  I started out 2013 making my Colette Anise jacket.  It was the slowest sewing that I did all year, but it was nice to make something that took more time and care.  I don’t think I’ll ever become a tailoring junkie, but it was fun to make this.  Looking back on this, the fit isn’t perfect (the sleeves are baggier than I wish they were), but it was a great learning project.

  • Identify and make pieces that I’ll reach for over and over again.  Check!  OK, not every garment fits in this category, but I was really excited this summer to hit a stride for a moment when I made 3 or 4 garments close together that really suit my lifestyle and work for me (my Victoria blazer, my Moss Mini skirt, and my Archer shirt).  This will sound really geeky, but it was really thrilling to make things that I would want to buy RTW.
  • Avoid overcommitment! Check minus?  On the one hand, I deserve a check because I opted out of some REALLY super fun sewalongs and pattern testing projects that I wanted to do, but knew in my heart I couldn’t get done.  On the other hand, signing up for a patternmaking class was a colossal failure in the overcommitment department, so maybe I average out to a “C” grade?  While it was sad to skip out on so much fun, I felt much calmer with fewer self-imposed deadlines.
  • Make a sloper!  Check minus again?  This was a #sewingdare from Gillian, and I *sort* of fulfilled it in that I MADE, tested, and drafted from a sloper, but I failed in that the sloper fit a dress form instead of me!  Unfortunately, my patternmaking class made me realize how much tinkering goes into fitting a sloper, even when you draft from careful, careful measurements, so I don’t think I’ll attempt one for myself unless I can find a measuring/fitting buddy who wants to do this together.
  • Sew from my stash!  Check!  Out of 29 projects this year, I sewed 10 garments from my stash.  Considering that 12 projects had to use new fabric (for the Mood Sewing Network), that means I only purchased new fabric for 7 other garments.  Not too bad, although I could do better.  I did a major clear-out of my stash in the spring, so I was left with only pieces that I really love and want to use, so I was thrilled every time I made something with one of these favorites.  I worked hard to shop from my stash for every non-Mood project, but sometimes I just didn’t have anything appropriate.

Stash-busting at its finest!

In some ways, this was a disappointing year for me.  I had a really, really busy year with work, and my patternmaking class in the fall really sucked up an insane amount of time.  I had so many plans this year for fun garments I wanted to make, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

At the same time, this year was really exciting.  I felt for the first time like I was sewing for myself, who I really am.  I had fun thinking about my style and considering which garments would really work for me.  It was also exciting to push myself more and branch out from dresses and tops into jackets and swimwear.  Sometimes it was ugly and messy, but it was nice to keep learning this year.

Inspirations: I’m just so thankful for all of you bloggers who inspire me every day!  Every time I open up my blogroll, I’m just so amazed by what you guys make.  Thanks for being so incredible!

I’m feeling pretty brain-dead at the moment, so I don’t have a list of 5 inspirations, but I wanted to give a special shout-out to Carolyn.  I was lucky enough to get to know her a bit this year, and she is just so inspiring.  She has tons and tons of sewing experience, and is really gracious about sharing her wisdom.  Thanks to her, I now know to keep my eyes peeled in the fabric store for special fabrics and to snatch them up when I see them.  She’s totally right– a fabric like quilted, flannel-back wool completely makes your project!  She was also right when she told me I would regret not buying glazed ponte– even thought I bought it, I regret not buying more!


  1. Sew a pair of pants, FOR REAL THIS TIME.  I wear pants.  I like pants.  Time to sew some @#$% pants!
  2. Delve more deeply into outerwear.  I’d like to make a casual, sporty jacket and get more confident sewing that kind of thing.
  3. Use sewing patterns multiple times.  It’s time to slow down my pattern purchases (SO HARD, YOU GUYS) and make things more than once.  It’s much more cost-effective and you don’t have to spend extra time working out fit issues.  WHY DON’T I DO THIS MORE?!  I want to make at least 3 garments next year from patterns I’ve already used before.
  4. Sew at least two garments for Man Friend.  It’s the least I can do!
  5. Make at least one self-drafted garment.  Time to put that patternmaking class to work!

Before I go, I just want to wish every one of you a happy and healthy New Year!  It means so much to me to connect with so many of you through this blog and your own, and I really am so grateful for the many friendships I’ve made through this little world.  Here’s to 2014!

Top 5 of 2013: Hits & Misses!

It’s back… Gillian‘s Top 5 year-end review round-up!  I really love reading these posts– it’s so fun to hear people analyze their output for the year and I especially love to see everyone’s favorite makes of the year.  I love seeing what makes you happiest about sewing!

Alright, let’s dive right in with the misses!  Rather than specific garments, this time around I wanted to write about some problems that plagued my sewing this year.

Miss #1: Not sewing for my lifestyle. 

Oy, why do I do this?  It’s dumb to make things that don’t work for me, but I still do it all the time.  Take this dress, for example.  There are virtually zero occasions in my life that this is appropriate for.  I wore it once, to a work party, felt pretty silly in it, and managed to rip the lining during a rowdy game of ping-pong.  This was back in June or July, and I haven’t had a real desire or need to fix it, which tells you it’s just not a good fit for my lifestyle.  There are some fit issues, too, but it’s a color and style that are best suited for, say, a garden party or something, and I’ve definitely never been to one of those.  It was fun to make, but I don’t feel comfortable or cute in it.  I have limited time to sew, so I need to be wiser about what will actually work for me so I have fewer duds hogging up time and closet space!

Miss #2: Complete inability to stay on top of gift deadlines.

I first started hand-making things because I wanted to have special (but cheap!) gifts for the many babies in my life.  Since then, I’ve become obsessed with sewing, but little projects for dear friends have taken the backseat and been given way, way late or worse, not at all.  These two little dresses were mailed off to friends way after the baby showers and way after the babies were born.  My dad’s birthday blasted past weeks before I finished his sweater.  Handmade Christmas gifts?  Didn’t happen, besides one knitted hat.  I wish I had budgeted my time better this year so I could show my dear ones that I love them with special gifts.

Miss #3: Abandoning projects that needed fitting work.

I think I muslined three patterns this year that needed work and never went back to them when I saw they would take some time to fix.  I had really limited time to sew this year, so I didn’t want to get bogged down in fitting nightmares, but at the same time, I don’t want to only sew things that fit easily or not address problems that need fixing.  I don’t want to be a sewing quitter!

Miss #4: Not using tried & true patterns.

The only pattern I used twice (for myself) this year!

This is the opposite of the last problem, but I only used a couple of patterns more than once this year!  It’s a really good way to save time and ensure good results, but I was a sucker for the new and shiny and just had to try so many new patterns this year that I only made a second item from one pattern for myself once this year!  That’s so silly, and it means that patterns cost more money when I don’t use them more than once.  On the other hand, I used the Renfrew and Briar top patterns multiple times for my sister, and that made it easy to stitch up pieces for her in a flash.

Miss #5: Not sewing for my dude.

I’m really sorry!!!

This is a bad one.  I sewed 29 items this year, 21 for me, 5 for my sister, 2 for my friends’ babies, and 1 for my dad.  Not one single thing for Man Friend, and he was even sweet enough to model my dad’s sweater, even though it was too tight for him!  This is definitely the thing I feel worst about this year.  I planned to make him a tie and a buttondown for Christmas, but I just couldn’t find the time.  Must remedy this in 2014!

Alright, let’s leave this misery behind and move onto a happier topic: my 5 favorite garments of 2013!  Let’s go in reverse-order, shall we?

Hit #5: Leopard-Print Lola Dress

This might be sort of a boring pick, but it deserves a place on the list because it’s still, to date, the only dress I’ve ever worn to work.  I’ve worn it out and about running errands, to work and a nice dinner afterwards, to church, and just around the house, and it sorta works for everything.  It’s just so easy to wear and it’s LEOPARD PRINT, duh!

Hit #4: Bombshell Swimsuit

This is a bit of an odd choice, since I never go swimming and I don’t love the grandma fabric paired with a more conservative cut than I usually wear, but it was just so enjoyable and surprising that I actually sewed a swimsuit that it has to make the list.  It was a really fun process– I felt like I passed a huge new sewing milestone, but without any pain and suffering!

Hit #3: Victoria Blazer

I just love this blazer so much.  I’d never sewn one before, and never really even worn one, but I wear this all the time and LOVE IT.  I love the shape, the fabric, and the feel of wearing a lined blazer.  It’s a really fun garment, but still totally wearable– AWESOME!  I’ve enjoyed feeling more put-together at work this year, and a huge part of that was putting on my big girl pants and starting to wear blazers!

Hit #2: Archer Button Up Shirt

Dude.  I love this shirt.  When this pattern was released, I felt like it had been designed just for me– this is exactly the kind of shirt that I wear on a daily basis.  It was so fun to put together a buttondown for the first time, and the sewalong was insanely helpful.  It was so thrilling to me to feel like I was making something that was absolutely made for me and that completely fit in with my style and wardrobe.  I was slow finishing this after a mishap with pearl snaps, but once I finally did, I wore it all the time and I feel so very proud that I made it every time I see it.  Thanks, Jen!  I want to make 12 more in 2014!

Hit #1: Ma Deuxième Belladone

This is my favorite dress of all time.  I love love love the pattern, and I finally used a special fabric that I’d been saving for ages to make it.  It so perfectly suits my style, and it fills a major wardrobe gap, what I like to call Saturday dresses.  A perfect Saturday dress can go from the bagel shop to the laundromat to the grocery store to the movies to dinner with friends, all while looking cute and feeling comfortable.  This is totally that dress.  I love it.  I want to marry it.  It just makes me happy!

Alright, how about you guys?  What were your big hits and misses?  What was your very favorite garment this year?  Anything that makes you want to bury your head in the sand and forget it even happened?  There’s no judgment here!  Spill the beans!