My top 5 Reflections, Inspirations and Goals of 2013 and looking forward in 2014…

Here’s part two of my Top 5 posts, in which I try and assemble my thoughts into some kind of coherent jumble.  It’s a long shot at best.

crafting a rainbow top 5

Top 5 Reflections: What did you learn about yourself or sewing this year?

The more time and thought I put into a garment, the more I enjoy it long term.  It’s hard balancing the want to dress the family quickly, as opposed to buying ready made clothes, and the quality that makes it worthwhile.

I completed my Seamless pledge, and it was fairly easy.  What’s difficult, which I didn’t expect was trying to go back to RTW.

Going to sewing social, however many projects I bring, I will only AT BEST do a third of that.  It’s a pretty good reality check between how fast I think I sew, and my actual speed.

Nothing teaches you faster than practice.  All the blogs in the world won’t replace the feeling of fabric under your fingers. It took 8 versions of Jalie 3133 to finally nail it to a quality I loved, no matter how many tutorials I read.

Jalie 3133 raglan baby toddler FOE fold over elastic

My UFO list is getting outrageous.  I might enforce a finish ban before starting anything new….

Top 5 Inspirations: What books, people, blogs, trends etc motivated you this year?

The sewing of my friends.  Nothing is more inspiring than seeing what people are sewing at social sewing, on Twitter and seeing different tips and techniques and versions of garments.  The different thinking and way that people sew also challenges me to try different methods, i.e. fast finishes versus couture methods.   This has been fascinating as the lure of technical projects is very much influenced by watching Poppykettle sew, and also balancing that with using sewing as a practical means of ethically dressing myself (and increasingly the family) is driven by Funkbunny, Mymessings and Unique Schmuck.

Blogs.  I love reading a wide range of sewing and design blogs.  And even one or two cooking blogs.  It’s great to see different peoples opinions, techniques and use of patterns and fabric combinations.  You really can never be too inspired right?  (Total lie – occasionally I have internet reduced days* so I can focus on my projects on hand and not start anything new.  That’s right, my UFO pile isn’t my fault…it’s yours.)

*Internet free days aren’t really an option when you run an online store, but not checking your email every 20 minutes IS an option.

Technical sewing (books).  I’ve admitted before I read sewing patterns on the train.  Aside from feeling a little like Dumbledore reading knitting patterns, I like to make my own notes about how I’m going to tackle a project of any modifications I’m planning on doing BEFORE starting these days.
Having learnt from experience working as a advisor in a large consulting firm full of specialists, in my role as a “be all advisor” you can never stop learning, or know everything about a subject matter.  However having a broad understanding of the concepts and the practices out in the field means that when you do encounter an issue, a lightbulb will hopefully go off and you can refer to a subject matter expert.  Sewing is exactly the same.  Gertie is my go to for vintage patterns/techniques.  Colette for the basics, same as readers digest (mine is the 1970’s version).  My sewing machine manual is INVALUABLE.   You know what else is?  My local library.  I’ve borrowed heaps of amazing sewing books like pattern magic from my little local library.  Now I just need a full collection of Susan Khalje books…..

Craftsy.  The couture dress class has changed my life.  So has the fitting class.  AMAZING.  I learn visually and verbally best, so this is an amazing platform of learning for me.  It is my dream to attend a Susan Khalje class, but my skills need SO much work to really get the best out of such an opportunity.

Designsponge.  I like Grace and her ethos, not all the posts are for me but I find generally it’s fairly inspirational for a simpler, more decluttered life with quality things around me, and to support local and independent as much as possible.  It’s not the easiest way to live, but it makes us all happier.  Side note, I’ve been decluttering the house while nesting, and it’s STILL full of stuff.  The volume of things I’ve thrown out has been astounding, but it feels SO good.  I’m determined that we should do it twice a year as a family, and that will drive us to accumulate less.

Top 5 Goals for the New Year

One.  It really is time to finish all those UFO’s from last year and new UFO’s.  Notice anything about that list?  Nearly everything on there is for other people.  Naughty isn’t it?  The only two things really for me that haven’t been completed in a timely fashion is the pavlova blouse, as I picked a terribly hard fabric to work with, and the lady grey coat which also has a poor fabric choice.   So that’s the real challenge while I sit around waiting for this baby to arrive, finish UFO’s and work on the new website.

  • Oliver and S Sailboat top x 2
  • Oliver and S Sailboat pants
  • Oliver and S Sailboat skirt
  • Thread Theory Jedediah Shorts
  • Cake Patterns pavlova blouse
  • Vintage cape
  • Two quilt tops
  • Hand quilting of a queen sized quilt
  • Colette Patterns lady grey jacket
  • Curtains for my sewing room
  • Table napkins

Two.  2014 has a focus on two speed sewing.  Quick quality basics, and high quality beautiful classic designs.   We all have those tried a true patterns, for basic t-shirts and simple items, and I’m planning on making sure to keep the family stocked in those.  The other items I want to sew are things that might take a bit more time, but use beautiful fabrics and proper sewing techniques and are finished to a high standard.  Mel of Poppykettle is really starting to rub off!  I’d like to do sewing lessons again later in the year to really pull the standard of my sewing to a better level, and then feel more confident spending more money on super high quality fabrics.

Three.  Finish a couple of craftsy courses.  8 classes, and only one finished watching.  I’ve rewatched lots of sections of certain courses, but not actually made the projects and gotten to the end.  My enthusiasm did not match my spare time last year.  Nearly all the watching I did, was on the train commuting to and from work.  It’s kinda hard sewing along on the train.

Four.  Sew for my husband.  The ratio of fabric proclaimed to be shorts/t-shirts/hoodies etc to finished garments is staggeringly poor.  I get some patterns to muslin stage, get him to try it on…then they disappear under other projects or need alterations….blah blah blah.  He should be the easiest one in the family to sew for, yet gets the least number of garments.  Unlucky.  (His total finished garment tally is 2 – and they aren’t even wearable in my opinion.  He kindly wears one, and asks for more, but maybe next time with a less wavy neckline.  That t-shirt should be in flashdance it’s that stretched out on the neckline).

Five.  Be kind to myself when I’ve got two small kids and no time to sew.  It will pass, they will grow, and it’s perfectly fine to pack away the sewing machine for a couple of months.  I’ll leave out some hand sewing to do, now I think about it…there are some english paper pieced hexagons half done which might have been left off my UFO list…..

How did I go against prior years goals?

-Sew whatever takes your whimsy, but try and make it a practical and beautiful version.  Add a stunning lining to a coporate colour, sneak in some pockets, embroider a jacket

Hmmm, I think the practical aspect worked, but the beautiful is something to keep aspiring to.  Much of my sewing recently has been all practical, and the challenge of making something beautiful is something to keep aspiring towards.

-I have a two item limit of UFO’s come 31 December 2013, which means digging out that Lady Grey coat and finishing it.  It also means three quilts, a tiramisu, day to night top, kimono top and a girls dress, four cushion covers and a set of curtains.  *sigh*.

EPIC FAIL.  The curtains, three quilts and that lady grey are still outstanding.  I’m trying to spend time at home sewing before this baby comes clearing away this UFO list.  The Lady grey as well, it needs some rework which is causing epic procrastination, but it will be worth it when it’s done.

– Try and blog once a week, sewing is a team sport, and sometimes reading someone else’s blog gives you the encouragement to start sewing something.  It’s the bomb.

Well, apparently I blogged 33 times last year, which considering what a crazy year it’s been, I totally forgive myself.  You do too right?

-Be a good person.  I made my first Kiva loan to a sewing lady in pakistan this week, and it felt good.  I’m not a huge fan of the high rates of interest they charge, but even here trying to get the funds to start sewsquirrel was tricky for a microbusiness.  It’s the least I can do to regularly make Kiva loans.

I totally need to do this more.  We’ve been more focused on domestic charities this year, and considering how much international aid Australia no longer is contributing, I should stump up and help represent.

-Do some selfless sewing, and more mending.  This year I got an extra years use out of a set of sheets by patching them (twice).  I’m trying to live a more green and sustainable life, so that means repairing and refashioning!

This, is kind of a win.  While my poor husband is still waiting on a wearable finished garment (any garment really), the little one got a bonanza of outfits.  She’s just gotten to the age where she doesn’t grow out of things immediately, so it’s more worthwhile.  I’ve repaired many more things, although I’ve got to stop repairing sheets with quilting cotton.  There are all these tiny little colourful circles all over the sheets (from the cat sleeping/clawing at the bed).

My top 5 Hits and Misses of 2013

This year, I’m going to take a self created award for the latest Top 5 post!  As you will see in part two (up tomorrow), this is one of my goals, to be kinder to myself.  It’s been 40+ degrees, I’m 8 months pregnant and working hard on the sewsquirrel pattern store.  Taking blog photos has been a VERY low priority.

Gillian has put out the call for the top5 lists, and while mine is a little late to the party, it’s so good to take the time to reflect.  I find it especially interesting to compare people’s 2013 Top 5 lists to their 2012 Top 5 lists.  It’s amazing how much we can improve and challenge ourselves (and also ignore the ever growing stash).

crafting a rainbow top 5

Top 5 Hits: Favourite Creations, most worn or most loved

Cake patterns tiramisu

This was a fantastic mix of print and pattern, and this has been washed and worn so many times it’s faded grey.  In fact the black faded before any of the print, and I would still wear this around the house/locally if it fit at the moment.  This pattern is comfortable, easy to make and looks great.  It’s well suited to a firmer knit fabric, so I’m tempted to get a similar weight interlock and make another.

Cake patterns tiramisu dress

Hollyburn skirt

The Sewaholic Hollyburn got so much use, it looks fantastic on, and while skirts with firm waistbands aren’t my first preference, this made me a bit of a convert.  This was a really win as it was easy to sew, and the fabric had that mystically perfect amount of drape.  The hollyburn for me was a Work outfit, and as such the pattern probably won’t see much love in 2014 while I’m at home.

beginner sewing pattern sewaholic

Sewcietea dress

This dress was a matter of personal pride, and has only been worn twice in 2013.  It was a labour of love, with hand basting and well, lots of tiny hand stitches everywhere.  It’s was the most time consuming item sewn in 2013, and dang it I’m proud.

Eliza

Tessuti gridlock lekala dress

This dress gets a mention for three reasons, one being that I actually finished it in time for a competition, two being that I tried a new style for me (based on the best use of the fabric – and I love it), and three, I wore this all the time to work!  Picking the pattern for the fabric meant I was really pleased with the final result, and as it’s handmade the style suits as it’s fitted properly.  Sometimes it’s hard to get past the RTW mental blocks of certain styles not suiting you.

Gridlock tessuti dress

Maria Denmark audrey dress

This Audrey dress was meant to be a wearable muslin, and was whipped up using jumper fleece.  It reminds me of my primary school jumper, and dang it was comfortable, washed well and was suitable for most occasions.  This dress was like not wearing anything at all, and incredibly warm.

maria denmark audrey dress

A most honourable mention goes out to my Tofino pjs, which is one of the few items I wear with my giant preggo belly, and the final versions Jalie 3133, which is pretty much R’s childcare uniform.  At last count she has about 8 in high rotation in her wardrobe.

Top 5 Misses: Sewing Fails, UFOs, worn once, or complete disasters

Silk Pavlova blouse

This gorgeous silk is from Astratex in Richmond, and it was a total splurge.  It was about $50 for two metres, and was SO far out of my skill level.  I love the pavlova pattern by Steph of Cake Patterns, but the damn slippery silk was just out of my depth when I tried it.  It still needs to be finished, but I’m thinking of just calling it a wadder and trying again with some silk georgette.  It’s unfinished, barely recognisable and all around I made a hash of it.  I’m going to try this again with a knit.

Cake Patterns Pavlova

FO cord dress

This cord dress was the first thing I’ve made in corduroy, and while it was cute the fabric didn’t really suit the pattern.  Also, the finish was not brilliant as I should have done lots of test stitches and overlocking…and didn’t.  It was a good lesson on researching fabric before sewing.  *Sigh*.

Cord dress

Husbands raglan tee

The raglan tee fit nicely, except for the neckline which I stretched out HORRIFICALLY.  It makes me very sad.  Next time, I need to shorten the ribbing.  As I pinned it, I KNEW it was too long, but I sewed it up anyway.  If I had trusted my gut, and sewed it at the tension I thought it should be it might have turned out ok.

Raglan tee

Husbands pjs

I cut these way too small.  Aside from that, they were fine.  Just Unwearable.

20130817-195508.jpg

Oliver and S playtime dress

Oliver and S dressThis is the super cute dress pattern by Oliver and S, the Playtime dress which I love, and will make more of, it just needs to not be in this fabric.  Blergh.  A well made, lovely pattern and I manage to make her look a like a cast member of little house on the prairie.

All in all, I’ve learnt from the fails, they weren’t as bad as my fails last year and I’m very pleased with my favourites.  What more can you ask for?

 

Top 5 Goals for the New Year

Top5

My Top 5 goals are something I’ve struggled with, I tend to sew more when the mood strikes me, so making a super specific list is never going to work.  Let’s call this my 2013 conceptual framework 😉

-Sew whatever takes your whimsy, but try and make it a practical and beautiful version.  Add a stunning lining to a coporate colour, sneak in some pockets, embroider a jacket

-I have a two item limit of UFO’s come 31 December 2013, which means digging out that Lady Grey coat and finishing it.  It also means three quilts, a tiramisu, day to night top, kimono top and a girls dress, four cushion covers and a set of curtains.  *sigh*.

– Try and blog once a week, sewing is a team sport, and sometimes reading someone else’s blog gives you the encouragement to start sewing something.  It’s the bomb.

-Be a good person.  I made my first Kiva loan to a sewing lady in pakistan this week, and it felt good.  I’m not a huge fan of the high rates of interest they charge, but even here trying to get the funds to start sewsquirrel was tricky for a microbusiness.  It’s the least I can do to regularly make Kiva loans.

-Do some selfless sewing, and more mending.  This year I got an extra years use out of a set of sheets by patching them (twice).  I’m trying to live a more green and sustainable life, so that means repairing and refashioning!

Here’s hoping I manage to stay on track.  You’ll keep me honest right?

Top 5 Blogs and Bloggers that Inspire

Have you heard about the Top 5 end of year blogging started by Gillian?  It’s really interesting to hear what everyone has loved or hated to sew, and as such I thought it would be fun to do!  I know these were meant to be up before new years eve…but it’s such a busy time of year lets just pretend I made it….)Top5

Listing my top 5 Blogs and bloggers that inspire is really difficult for me, as some get me enthusiastic about sewing, and I’ve read them for years, and some get me into my sewing room.

LLadybird

I love her style, penchant for thrift and foul language.  It’s sewing with some extra laughs which is a pleasure to read.

Gertie

I’ve been a follower of Gertie for years and years now, and I love her style and watching her sewing/blogging evolve.  It gives you inspiration following someone’s progress for so long, and seeing the couture level of sewing they can achieve.  I will totally pad stitch a jacket something someday.

Male Pattern Boldness

I’ve also followed Peter’s blog for years now, and sometimes it’s very refreshing to see things he doesn’t like, or his discussions on fashions.  Peter also once had a really inspiring post (which I’m trying to find again), about how making a wadder isn’t a bad thing.  You can never waste fabric if you learn something from it.   I love his pieces like this on the benefits of making it yourself.

Design Sponge

Grace has a fantastic team that really inspires my (admittedly very slow) home decor sewing, and general style.  I will blame this blog for the purchase of a genuine WW2 merchant navy british flag (which are huge and is yet to be mounted), my self made curtains and purchase of random pieces of furniture which are yet to be reupholstered and at this rate, may never be.  On a side note, I generally find my brothers birthday/christmas present inspirations here too.  Some of her podcasts about maintaining a blog and a passion are kind of cool too.

SewBusyLizzy and Mymessings

These ladies get mentioned together, as funny and very friendly and encouraging blogs.  If you ever want to get excited about a project, discuss it with these bloggers and you will be running back to the sewing machine.  They are both on twitter, and love to pitch in helpful advice.  They also sew like maniacs, so don’t be discouraged if your sewing isn’t as fast!

While that was 6 blog/bloggers, there was no way to whittle it down, so if you haven’t already, I’d go and check them out!

Top 5 Sewing Fails

Top5

It’s quite interesting, I found picking the top 5 worst items much harder than my top 5 favourite.  Some of these I haven’t blogged, some I haven’t even sewn (but wait, I can explain!)  Understanding what didn’t work will hopefully prevent too many more of these wadders in the future.   These all went awry for different reasons.

Black top

I have never worn this top.  This was the first item I made when I decided to really get back into garment sewing (and to take it seriously) and it is terrible.  The neckline was stretched out, it’s cut off grain, and completely half arsed in every way   A betting man would estimate this was done with a normal sewing needle, straight stitch and definitely no clue.  It’s not worth saving, and will get cut up soon to become baby dribble bibs, which is a much better fate than languishing at the back of the closet.

final

Grey pinstripe skirt

I need to try this again, I love the look of the pattern, but the skirt is an unlined, poorly finished, pointy darted mess.  It’s so bad there isn’t even a photo of it.  If you fancy imagining it, think of how you would have made this at high school sewing, and thats pretty much about it. I might yet blog it, but it is awful.1963 sewing pattern suit

Baby turtleneck dress

While super cute, my baby has a giant melon of a head.  I never managed to get this over her head again, and as a result I now will be cutting out weirdly sized baby clothes with giant necklines, super skinny sides and very long.  I suspect she may actually be an alien.  I doubt a human could really consume as much yoghurt as she does.

Baby dress sewing pattern knit

I love the look of the Heidi and Finn patterns, but I struggle with the quality of the patterns, and would prefer to pay the extra for oliver and s.

Sorbetto

Turns out loose drapey hand wash blouses are never going to get a look in around my house.  This was just a terrible combination of a stiff print on a silk, a poor sizing choice, and a lack of reality about my lifestyle.  Oh, and the darts give me pointy boobs.

Sorbetto

Oliver and S pants

I bought the oliver and S Field trip cargo pants and raglan t-shirt pattern (wow, what a mouthful!) to make for my bestie’s babe, B.  He’s a gorgeous little boy, one week younger than mine.  I made 5 of the raglan tops quick smart, and cut out three pairs of pants.

Last week I threw out the cut out pieces.  This pattern is lovely, but for running around pants there are just too many pieces.  I know I would love it if I made them, but when he will outgrow them in 3 months I’m not spending all that time pressing cargo pockets, and top stitching tiny little trousers.

The pattern is worth it for the t-shirt, but I wouldn’t make the pants (or try) for an under 2 again.

 

So really, the big thing for me is to think about what and why I am sewing – and to plan out my projects appropriately.  Any other tips?

Top 5 Favourite Creations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you heard about the Top 5 end of year blogging started by Gillian?  It’s really fascianting to hear what everyone has loved or hated to sew, and as such I thought it would be fun to do!  (Better than doing one of those get to know you quizzes emailed about, and yes I prefer windows down to aircon)Top5

Thank you for all your kind comments about my Red Washi, I’m very fond of it, and so to kick off my Top 5 lists for 2012 (who doesn’t love a good list?) will be, in no particular order, my top 5 Favourites.

Washi

This was a hard pick, just because I love wearing my Red washi, but the Blue washi I ADORE the finish and bound hems.  Often there will be a bit of leg flashed as the hem is turned up to show the matching bias tape.  Nobody else cares, but I’m terribly proud of this dress.   It’s also really comfortable and very flattering now with the lower neckline and under bust darts.

Seam finishes on the blue washi dress

Corporate Cambie

This dress comes out at once a week at work, it’s comfortable and professional without being boring.  The pockets are always in use, Iphone in one and security pass in the other, so I never get locked outside again getting coffee.

The sewaholic work cambie

Oliver & S PJ’s

This is my absolute go-to pattern for winter pyjamas for my little lady, last winter she had five or six pairs.  As I downloaded this pattern as a PDF, I can reprint each year in the larger size and keep going.  Kids patterns really are fantastic as PDF’s, and they usually don’t take too long to tape together.

Oliver and S Bedtime Story pjs version 2

Maria Denmark Kimono top (yet to be blogged)

This is by far the most comfortable top I’ve ever worn, it took no time at all to make, I finished it terribly and yet I get the most unsolicited compliments about it.  Will blog shortly, as this is love.  In fact, I’m wearing it right now.  As soon as it comes out of the washing basket I’m wearing it.

Maria Denmark Kimono top

Pink turtle neck Renfrew

The best kind of clothes are those that do double duty.  This does TRIPLE duty.  Perfect for home and work, and also for playing peek a boo behind the cowl with baby.  She thinks it’s hilarious and I think it’s amazingly comfortable, easy to sew and the most lovely designed cowl.

Sewaholic, knit

It really wasn’t hard to pick my top 5 favourites, it’s whatever has gone through the washing basket the most this year!  These were all patterns I made multiples of, which usually indicate they are easy and satisfying to fit and sew.