So, it’s New Year’s Eve and a traditional time to take stock of what’s gone on in the past year. Okay, here in the UK it’s also a traditional time to get drunk and stay up till the small hours, partying, but there’s not going to be any of that for me this year, that’s for sure! I expect to be in bed by 11 🙂
I posted my initial #2017MakeNine challenge back in January, choosing categories of garment rather than specific patterns as I wanted to find as many TNT patterns as I could to flesh out my me-made wardrobe and liked the flexibility of setting it up that way. Here’s all my finished makes for the different categories (click on the pics to be taken to the original posts): Continue reading “My #2017MakeNine challenge: the results”
This year I’m taking part in the lovely Gillian’s #SewingTop5 challenge again, as I found it a really good way to summarise my year last time, and it replaces longer, waffley navel-gazing posts. You can find last year’s posts here (goals, reflections and other highlights) and here (hits and misses).
So, without further ado, here are my top 5 reflections on my sewing year:
1: Knit Fabric Mastery
2017 really was the year I attained total confidence sewing knit fabrics. I’ve tackled a range of different types of fabric, and figured out the best ways to sew tricky knits. I’ve also got much more happy with hacking patterns to get what I want out of them and have built up a few TNT patterns for knits, which is great. I’m really happy I’ve persevered with knits as they’re so quick and easy to sew, and so comfy to wear. I really am wearing me-made pretty much every day now!
2: The Curated Closet
The most life-changing book of 2017 for me. That sounds a bit shallow, somehow, but honestly, figuring out my personal style preferences was a lightbulb moment and it’s made my subsequent sewing planning so much more fun. I now know that I’m pretty much guaranteed to love what I make so long as I stick to my style guidelines. That doesn’t mean I won’t be reviewing those every year, or occasionally trying new things, though. Life would get boring if I didn’t do a bit of experimentation!
3: Sewing Journals Rule!
Okay, so maybe this was actually the most life-changing book for me: my humble sewing journal. At some point in early 2017 I started keeping a sewing journal, in which I make notes of future projects I might want to make, blogs I want to write, and detailed sheets with swatches for every garment I actually sew. In the summer I discovered bullet journaling and my journal belatedly acquired a proper index, which made it much easier to use. I will write a blog post about my journalling habits at some point soon, as I’d definitely encourage anyone hesitating about keeping one to give it a go. I’m so much more organised about my sewing now and I swear that journal has helped make me so much more productive. I’m now on journal #2, and it’s a habit I intend to keep up long-term.
4: Instagram and challenges FAIL!
One thing I started doing this year was lots of challenges–I had the idea that they’d be a great way to make new sewing friends and gain blog followers. However, the vast majority of them ended up falling by the wayside as I want to be able to sew what I want to sew. The challenges that I kept up with and really enjoyed were Me Made May and #2017MakeNine, largely because they were the kind of challenge where I set my own goals. I think I’m just too rebellious to follow someone elses rules! I’ll aim to do both again this next year, although with a baby due in early May, the Me Made May participation could be somewhat patchy…
I’ve also realised that microblogging on Instagram is not my favourite thing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots I love about Instagram and I won’t be leaving anytime soon–I was one of the really early adopters and I’ve had my account for years–but I’m not into giving loads of details about what I’m sewing and in-progress shots. Kudos to those of you who do, but it’s not really for me. I prefer wordy blog posts I can write on a proper keyboard 🙂
5: The Unintended RTW Fast
I’ve heard about sewists going on RTW (ready to wear, ie, shop-bought clothing) fasts before, but it’s not something I’ve ever felt a need for myself. I’m not a big consumer of fast fashion at the best of times, and I could never see the point in banning myself from the occasional purchase if it was something I didn’t want to make myself.
However, this year I’ve been absolutely strapped for cash so when needing new clothing, faced with a choice of buying something cheap and nasty from a supermarket or buying fabric and making it myself, I’ve chosen the latter. It’s definitely worked out cheaper (especially when using stash fabric or free fabric in return for reviews) and is much more fun than traipsing round shops trying and failing to find what I’m after.
So, I realised at some point this summer that the only things I’d bought, clothing-wise, in 2017 were footwear and a couple of bras–not something I felt confident making at the time. I still didn’t give myself a RTW ban and have since bought a winter coat (no time to make one) and had the present of a jumper from my mum, but that’s been it for the whole year. Woohoo! I feel really good about what I’ve acheived and it was all the more fun for being my choice each time, rather than the result of a self-imposed rule.
Last year’s goals
I also wanted to reflect a little on how well I met last year’s goals:
Make a pair of jeans – I didn’t exactly make a pair of jeans, but I made a pair of pedal pushers in stretch denim, so that’s almost there. Partially achieved, and I think the only thing that stopped me moving onto jeans proper was getting pregnant!
Make a proper button-up shirt – again, I’ve been working up to this by making some woven blouses with buttons and poppers at the front. Partially achieved for pretty much the same reason as above!
Get more creative and experimental with knit fabrics – Definitely achieved! See knit fabric point above.
Plan my makes much more carefully, making sure they’ll fit in with the rest of my wardrobe and that they’re the kind of things I really want to wear – Also definitely achieved. See journalling point above.
Get my own sewing room again, and make it really cute and practical – I’m still waiting for this one. Andy is making good headway on the new bedroom and promises me it will be ready by the time the baby comes, but I won’t be able to create the sewing room straight away as Gabriel’s current room will probably need to be a nursery for a while. Unless the baby sleeps so well it can go straight from sharing with me and Andy to sharing with Gabriel, that is. I can but hope! For the moment, though, I’m making my space at the end of the living room work for me, and I’ve vowed to keep it tidier and less cluttered this year.
Anyone else taking part in the #SewingTop5 challenge? Or are you doing your own kind of yearly round-up? Please do share your links in the comments so I can come and have a gander!
Blog posts–they’re like buses, aren’t they? I make you wait ages and then you get two blog posts in two days–and probably one a day for the next few days too 🙂
Anyway, today is my debut as part of the Minerva Craft Blogger Network. I’ve done a few projects for the regular Minerva blog over the summer, but I was thrilled to be asked to join the blogger network proper. That means that every month I’m given a budget to shop with on the Minerva site, and I’ll share my makes there on the 28th.
My first make is a knitted cowl, bizarrely enough. I don’t do much knitting, but I do enjoy it and I want to get better, so I figure the only way to do so is to stretch myself and try new things. This was my first go at cables, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out 😀
Check out the full post over on the blog, and here are links to the products I used, should you be interested in grabbing them yourself:
Now, I know some people are suspicious when bloggers use affiliate links and review products they got for free, and I used to be one of them. However, since Minerva are a company I was buying from before I ever got any freebies, I’m very happy to have this arrangement with them, and it allows me to make things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to make. I will always give my honest opinion in reviews and point out the pros and cons, should there be any. I find other bloggers reviews helpful, so I’m happy to be able to spread the word about books, patterns, fabrics and the like.
Affiliate links are something I’ve started doing this last year and so far I haven’t made much from them. Basically, if you click through on an affiliate link and make a purchase I will make a very small referral bonus, at no charge to you. I started putting affiliate links up because I was spending lots of time writing blog posts, but had hardly any money to buy fabric and patterns. I figured that if the blogging could in any way help support my sewing hobby then that would be great. Perhaps at some point in the future my affiliate links will start bringing in a bit of money, and as they’re quick to set up I’ll keep going with them for the time being. If you don’t like them, you can always find the products I’ve linked with a quick Google search. I’ll happily provide a non-affiliate link for you in the comments if you’re having trouble finding anything. Just let me know 🙂
Right, that’s all for now. If you have any thoughts on bloggers using affiliate links and reviewing freebies, then please do share. I’m always really interested to discuss this sort of thing.
I’ll be back tomorrow with the first of my #SewingTop5 posts. Until then, happy sewing!
Hi everyone! I’m here to provide a little distraction from post-Christmas mayhem (or whatever it is you choose to celebrate at this time of year) with my first proper bit of maternity sewing on the blog: a party dress made with the new maternity version of the very popular Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top/dress.
Believe it or not, this is my very first maternity dress make. I was into dressmaking when I fell pregnant with Gabriel, but because of my inexperience with and general fear of sewing knit fabrics, I thought most maternity sewing patterns looked too much like hard work. Since having Gabriel, however (3 years ago this week–doesn’t time fly?!) I’ve truly embraced sewing with knits and now prefer sewing them to wovens. Continue reading “The Party Animal Dress – a maternity Agnes dress pattern review”
I don’t make much for my kids, I’ve got to admit. I used to crochet and knit for Daisy when she was a toddler, but I now find so little time for crafting that I’m pretty selfish with the little bits of time I do get. However, every now and again one of the kids needs and/or wants something that I either can’t track down to buy, or can’t afford when I do. This is one of those occasions.
I’ve had these cords on my sewing list since Gabriel was born as they caught my eye when looking through this old Ottobre magazine (one of only two that I own), but a well-timed gift of some roomy, lined corduroy trousers from my mum two years back meant I didn’t end up making them. I figured I had better make them this year as Gabriel is now at the maximum size they go up to, and after two years in the last pair he’d finally grown out of them! The pattern is for unlined trousers, but after the success of those lined cords I hunted around for a tutorial to add a snuggly jersey lining, and found this really helpful one.
The materials are all from my stash, and are leftover from old projects. The needlecord is beautifully soft but quite thin, so the thick interlock lining is really needed for a pair of winter-ready trousers. Plus I’ve discovered the lining has the added bonus of completely absorbing any little “accidents” Gabriel has. Okay, so they’ll still need changing, but at least everything is contained and I won’t need to clean the carpets. In unrelated news, we will be replacing our pale carpet with wooden flooring at some point in 2018! Continue reading “The Winter Cords: Ottobre Ever Grey Boys Corduroy Pants sewing pattern review”
This has been a weird old month. Not only is there the whole pregnancy thing throwing a spanner in my sewing plans, but Gabriel decided to give up his afternoon nap. That means he’s gone from napping 2-2.5 hours every day, to nothing, just like that! Oh yes, and not only have I lost my sanity time to get things done (including sewing), but he’s been throwing wobblers about random things as he’s tired and grumpy. Is it any surprise I haven’t been blogging?! Continue reading “November round-up and December’s sewing plans”
Right, well my sewing in October was a bit erratic, and I explained why in my big announcement post! Fortunately I’m no longer feeling sick and have lots of energy, plus a rapidly expanding midsection that needs new clothes to cover it. Here’s hoping November is productive!
Blogged in October:
Sewing done in October:
The Cleo dress pictured in the “Blogged in October” was actually finished off in the first part of the month, and I sewed the Purple Ponte Cardie in October soon. So the only thing I have left unblogged from October is a really cute pair of Ottobre corduroy trousers I made for Gabriel. I’d better get sewing or I’ll have nothing else to blog this month!
Pretty thrifty month, which was what it needed to be! The habby spend was mostly thread (Lidl had their overlocker cones in again!) and the fabric was a fat quarter to use in Gabriel’s quilt.
November sewing plans:
I have lots planned for November, but since three of the projects involve tracing out and fitting patterns, I’m not sure I’ll manage to get them all done. I’d love to make a couple of maternity Cleo tops in the two patterned jerseys I picked up at the Sewing Bee Live, and I’m also keen to sew up a shirt for Andy (particularly as another of his has just been consigned to the scraps bin) and a quilt for Gabriel. But first I’m doing my first bit of pattern testing ever: a maternity swimming costume pattern from Seamstress Erin. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to share that one with you, but I’m hoping it will be a quick and fun make. And I definitely need a new maternity swimsuit as my old one is just wrong. Ruffles and beads: what was I thinking?!!!
I’ll also be knitting, and am most of the way through a gorgeous cabled wool cowl (My Minerva Blogger Network post for December) and am hoping to finally finish off a pair of socks and a cardigan that have been on the go for longer than I really want to admit. Time to cosy up on the sofa with the last couple of series of Poldark and get knitting, methinks! Or will the eyecandy be too distracting?! Uh, I mean spotting the scenes shot in my little town, of course. Nothing to do with Ross Poldark. No. Absolutely not.
What are you planning to make this month? Does your Sewjo increase in the winter, or do you just want to retire to the sofa with some knitting?
I’ve been dying to share this information for the last couple of months, and now I’ve officially gone public, I can: I’m pregnant again! This is the little bean:
The last couple of months have been kind of hellish with the exhaustion and nausea, both of which seem worse with this pregnancy but maybe I’m just forgetting what it was like with Daisy and Gabriel. I was also worried having had both a ten-week miscarriage in the past, and of course having had a child with Down’s Syndrome and all its attendant health issues (open heart surgery at 4 months old in Daisy’s case). However, now I’m into week thirteen and have had the first scan and screening (low risk–yay!) I’m feeling much more confident and happy. Plus the nausea and exhaustion seem to have gone away, which is a huge help. Ugh, it was so hard to cook food and even eat sometimes. We lived off fish and chips for a couple of the worst weeks. I know, I’m not proud of it, but you do what you need to to get by sometimes.
So, I’m due on 9th May 2018, which will probably mean I don’t do much posting this next Me Made May, but who knows? Maybe I’ll relish the extra challenge!
Now, onto what this means for my sewing, which is, of course, the most important thing 😛
I was into dressmaking by the time I had Gabriel, but hadn’t yet worked much with knits so didn’t feel confident making maternity clothes. As a consequence, I have an almost entirely RTW maternity capsule wardrobe ready and waiting. The clothes might not all be 100% my current style, but they’re all pretty neutral basics and I don’t dislike any of them. So do I actually need to make anything, especially bearing in mind it will only get worn for a few months? Well, I’ve had a good look through all the clothes and can see a few gaps, mostly in the form of interestingly patterned tops and dresses, so I’ll definitely be making myself a few pieces. I expect they’ll all be hacks of the Tilly and the Buttons Mama-to-be Agnes top and dress, as it’s pretty much my ideal maternity pattern! Seriously, why are there so few options for maternity sewing patterns? And most of the ones out there are so frumpy? I’m looking at you, Big Four! I want bodycon patterns, not to look like I’m wearing a sack!
But other than a handful of Agnes tops and dresses, and perhaps a couple of self-drafted skirts, I’m going to want to concentrate my sewing on things that will be useful beyond my pregnancy. I suppose I could work on more nursing-friendly tops as I get nearer the birth (I have a couple of TNT patterns I can use for that already, as I was still breastfeeding when I started this blog). But I’m mostly thinking longer term clothing, along with other sorts of sewing projects. So here’s a few thoughts on things I could be sewing over the next six months:
Kimonos and cardigans–these should fit now and forever more if I pick my patterns and fabrics wisely!
Shirts for me. I know I wouldn’t be able to fit them properly, but I’m thinking I could make an oversized shirt I could then wear as a “shacket” while pregnant. Possibly in a black and red plaid flannel.
Unselfish sewing for the rest of the family. They all need clothes, let’s face it. Andy wants a shirt, Gabriel needs EVERYTHING because he keeps growing (curse him!), and Daisy could do with a winter dress or two for school.
Gift sewing for birthdays/Christmas. Not sure what, exactly, but I’m sure I can come up with some ideas. Would be nice to have a stash of handmade gifts I could choose from when Christmas comes around. Maybe tree ornaments?
Finishing off the two UFO quilts I started years ago.
Finishing off the coat I started years ago, then got scared to finish as I found out more about tailoring.
Things that will be useful around the home, like aprons, bunting, cushion covers, more quilts, etc.
Things to furnish my sewing room, when it’s eventually done its duty as a nursery, like sewing machine/overlocker dust covers, pincushion, knitting needle holders, overlocker thread catcher, more bunting, etc.
Things for the baby. Clothes, sling, bedding, soft toys, etc. In gender-neutral colours as I don’t get on with that whole blue/pink thing.
Hats. Pregnancy doesn’t affect your head size, after all! And I really want to make a newsboy cap for Gabriel too.
Bags. I’ve been interested in having a go at bagmaking for years now, so maybe this will finally be the right time to get started. I want a new shoulder bag (in leather!) and could do with an overnight duffel bag, and I reckon Daisy could too.
Some of those items are more interesting than others, but even the stuff I’m less enthusiastic about (finishing the coat and quilts, for instance), I’m keen to get done as I won’t then feel guilty about UFOs hanging about, and I know the finished items will get plenty of use.
So yeah, I reckon that’s more than enough to keep me insanely busy for the next six months. I’ll probably go for a bit of embroidery, knitting and crochet too as I feel the need to put my feet up more, but for now, I’m enjoying the sudden surge of energy and catching up on all my neglected cleaning/gardening like a mad thing.
Anyone else out there been faced with a pregnancy sewing dilemma? How did you get around it? And does anyone have any suggestions for things I could be sewing over the next six months? Or links to any cute maternity patterns?
I first found out about Natalie Chanin and her Alabama Chanin clothing line a couple of years ago, and I was instantly intrigued. I’d seen another sewing blogger make one of the corset tops and I loved it. For those unfamiliar with Alabama Chanin garments, they are completely hand stitched out of natural jersey fabrics, and often heavily embellished with beads or their trademark cutaway applique/embroidery. It gives a bit of a bohemian, rustic look, but with more contemporary style lines. And for those who love the look but can’t afford the hefty price tag (embellished dresses retail for almost $6000!), Natalie Chanin has published books of her most popular patterns, along with all the instructions to be successful making them.
Hand-sewing a jersey garment: the very idea blew my mind. I love sewing knits on my overlocker–so speedy–but I also liked the idea of having a portable project that was garment sewing rather than knitting or crochet. And I’ve always been good at embroidery so I figured I’d probably enjoy sewing a garment together with pretty but functional hand stitches.
I added Natalie Chanin’s Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns to my Amazon wishlist but didn’t think much more about it, and then out of the blue (well, okay, for my birthday) my sister bought it for me. And so I got large format prints done of my favourite patterns, then waited well over a year to actually get started on one. Not sure what took me so long to take the plunge. Maybe it was the idea of all that handsewing! Continue reading “Alabama Chanin Corset Top”
It had been a few months since I made my last Cleo dress, and considering how much wear I’ve been getting out of that and my first needlecord version, I figured it was high time I made myself another! Yes, finally I have a TNT pattern for a dress. Yay!
In a Nutshell:
A cute little dress that will be perfect for wearing over tights this autumn and winter. And let’s face it, this is England so I’ll probably be wearing tights well into the spring too! Continue reading “The Autumnal Cleo Dress”
So, this is another of my Patterns by Gertie retro inspired makes, and probably the last summer thing you’ll see around here for a while. Ah summer, I miss you! I sewed this blouse up at the end of August/beginning of September, so I haven’t actually been able to wear it other than for the shoot as it’s been a pretty cold autumn so far.
I have to admit, originally I only intended this blouse as a toile, because after looking at online reviews I realised it would probably be too short for my liking. Why not lengthen it, you ask? Well, the pattern pieces have no markings to do this, and they are some of the craziest shaped pattern pieces I’ve seen so I didn’t feel confident making any alterations until I’d had a go at sewing it together.
And then I made it, and it turned out better than I thought, and I should have left it how it was but like an idiot, I thought I could improve things with a purple dye bath…
Not only has the weather in England been shite (none of that Indian Summer everyone’s been going on about all August) but I caught a cold that left me with zero energy. As a consequence, I got hardly any sewing done. Bah! On the plus side I did lounge around watching the latest series of Orange is the New Black and read a few great books (Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was fabulous!) and it was pleasant to indulge myself in a bit of telly and reading, as I so rarely make time for them these days.
Blogged in September:
Sewing done in September:
Honestly, I have nothing to share here. The Ditsy Flower Corduroy Cleo dress is nearly done, but that’s because I worked on it for an hour yesterday afternoon, so that’s October sewing mostly. While I was sofa lounging and feeling sorry for myself I finished off the last bit of my Alabama Chanin Corset Top, so I’ll be sharing that soon, and also worked a little on the alterations pile. Amazingly enough, I also sewed up the seams on a cardie I knitted years ago and have been putting off finishing ever since. It’s not finished yet as I still have to crochet a border all round and add buttons and so on, but the scariest bit is done. Perhaps I’ll actually manage to finish it off this autumn. Who knows?
I did say I wouldn’t be able to buy anything at the Great British Sewing Bee, but Andy kindly slipped me a bit of spending money and I was able to pick up a few fabrics that will be perfect for long sleeved tops and a jumper this winter. Check them out:
The top one is a lovely soft jersey from Girl Charlee, and the middle is a John Kaldor jersey. Both have excellent 4 way stretch. The bottom one is my wild card. It was called Cookie Monster and is probably largely acrylic, but I loved the look of it and I want something to make a really snuggly winter jumper. Hopefully this will have enough stretch, but although it’s a knit it’s not very stretchy. If it won’t work for a jumper I’ll probably treat it like a woven and make some kind of fake fur gilet, as I’ve been coveting one of those for a few years now 🙂
October sewing plans:
Rather than move all my unsewn September sewing projects over to this month I’ve been thinking about what’s really needed in this house at the moment, and I reckon I’m going to work on the following projects: for me, either a Seamwork Astoria Sweater or a similar pattern from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, using that crazy fluffy knit fabric I bought at the Sewing Bee. Also for me, the Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan in purple ponte (a Minerva sponsored project).
I’m also thinking about the others in the house, and have promised Andy I will finally get around to making him that shirt I’ve been promising for ages, as he definitely needs more work shirts. The first will be in a very boring pinstripe fabric, but if it goes well I’ll make more interesting ones in the future. Daisy needs a school pinny or two, and I will modify the Cleo dress to fit her. Just need to find some suitable black fabric.
And Gabriel is in desperate need of some corduroy trousers, so I’ll be making up an Ottobre pattern I’ve been planning to make him for years now. Luckily he still fits the top size in that one! I doubt there will be time to do anything else, but if there is I’ll start work on piecing a quilt for him too (probably a traditional railfence one as I have a weakness for old-timey quilts), as he’ll need an extra warmth layer for when the nights start turning cold.
What are you planning to make this month? Are you thinking ahead to winter like I am?
It’s been a busy weekend what with the Great British Sewing Bee show up in London, so I’m a little late sharing my most recent make for the Minerva Crafts blog: my version of the Colette Patterns Crepe Dress. Head on over to their blog for a blast of summer, to read all the deets, and to find out what I’d do differently next time. Looking at those photos makes me long to be back in the South of France!
Oh, and by the way, that’s Nice dress as in the city, not nice as in… well, you know. It is nice, but that just seems like damning it with faint praise, and my English teacher told me never to use that adjective if I could possibly help it 😛
As promised, here’s the link to my latest make for the Minerva Crafts Blog, which I’m calling my Rockabilly Pirate Top, for obvious reasons! You can find my full write up of Simplicity 8342 here. It’s such a cute jersey top, and perfect for anyone with a little experience with knit fabrics who’s looking for a slightly more challenging make than a simple t-shirt. I’d love it if you could pop on over to the blog and let me know what you think, and whether you’d make one of these yourselves 🙂