Plans and goals for 2013 – A Review

Do you remember Karen started the sewlution jar in January? Well I threw my name into the jar with this main goal: I am going to make less but what I make will be better. Lets see how I did…

couture couture jacket liberty hawthorn Floral Cambie

I learnt some more couture techniques from reading and online tutorials, which I used to make my turquoise couture jacket; The majority of this was finished by hand, which took lots of time, but was to a finish I’m really proud of. I took my time making dresses this year, using higher quality fabrics, and spending much more time on the muslin process and using better pressing techniques to get a better finished garment. I’m not sure if I have really made less, but most of what I have made will be worn for years to come. I’ve made more classic quality pieces and less impulsive fast fashion garments, so I think I can say my Sewlution was achieved, oh Mistress of the Jar!

Other goals I set were:

  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations.
    Did you see the giant bag of clothes I took to the charity shops at the end of Me-Made-May? It included many me-made garments that just weren’t getting worn. A couple of garments were kept for recycling, but these are still in the to-sew pile.
  • donationsI will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). Errr… not as much success for this. When I moved house I did get rid of loads of scraps and pieces, but I also had to buy more storage for my stash :-S oops.
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! I have used the Block of the Month and Free Motion Quilting courses to make my Black and White and Red All Over quilt,  and I’ve been watching knitting classes to learn how to get a better fit in knitting garments (finished cardigan is still drying, must turn heating up!).
  • I really want to make bunting! I made some bunting for the Crafty magazine fox competition, but sadly I didn’t win (I think my tutorial was much too long for a magazine). But that means that I can now share my super cute tutorial with you all instead!
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. I have a tripod and a remote control, and have been taking hundreds of pictures to get 5 decent ones for the blog. I set up a proper background to take photos of my girly cupcakes.
  • girly cupcakesI am going to be a better blog-reader. I am better at commenting using twitter, but there is still the issue of getting past comment validation systems on a phone. Still a point to work on as I have loved all the great comments I’ve recieved this week.

retro recipes

  • I am going to explore new recipes. I only made 5 recipes as part of my retro recipe plan, but they were all great dishes that I know I will return to. I will carry on trying the classic recipes, but found it tricky this year with my wrists bandaged up.

I think I had a pretty good go at those plans, but the main change has been my attitude to my crafting; more planning and precision has led to more successes. If you want to read my plans for 2014 you can see them here.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading and commenting this year 🙂 Hope you have a fantastic new year and I’ll see you in 2014!

Top 5 of 2013

 

It is time for my Top 5 of 2013 (as organised by the lovely Gillian. I can’t believe this time last year I didn’t know her!). I have to review my Sewlutions tomorrow for the Mistress of the Jar, so I’m going to pack a lot in this post…

Lets start with the misses2013 misses

  • I learned so much making my Couture Jacket and am really pleased with the construction and techniques I used. But I’ve only worn it a couple of times. I’m hoping it is because the typical British spring went from freezing to boiling in a week, so fingers-crossed I enjoy wearing it this spring.
  • My Dotty Dolly Cambie dress remains unblogged 😦 I was so excited making it – polka dots, a Cambie dress, ric-rac…. all the ingredients for a perfect dress. But wearing it didn’t feel perfect. I think I prefer the gathered skirt to the a-line version I did here, and the fabric for my floral Cambie flows better. Again. I will try it again in spring as it was finished just as the heatwave started, and all the lining was a bit too sticky.
  • Inspired by meetings with Charity Shop Chic I got some items to refashion. Have you seen them yet? Nope. Because there was a lot of brain power involved in fitting my pattern pieces onto refashioned parts of garments. I will definitely put these to the top of my to-sew pile as one is fuscia silk and the other is red wool.
  • My red Basic Bella cardigan has been worn frequently these past few months and is a great chunky cardigan for a chilly day. But it is chunky. The cotton blend yarn stretches (not enough research done) and I made it fit my measurements, not incorporating negative/zero ease for a close fit (beginner knitter’s mistake) so overall it is rather baggy and can look a bit sloppy. It is still great to wear, but it has to go in the miss category since it was one of the causes of my bad wrists 😦
  • Finally my first Anna dress. Its not a total disaster, and most of the lovely comments suggested chopping the sleeves off (a job that can wait until it gets a bit warmer!), but I felt disappointed with it after all the Anna love around the blogosphere.

Hits 2013

 

 

I had a lot of trouble choosing my hits as I’ve made so many nice things this year; I feel my sewing has improved and I have a better sense of what suits me now, so there were less disasters.

  • I love my stripy Tiramisu dress and it was a great introduction to Cake Patterns. Steph’s drafting and custom fit instructions are great, and so it was easy to get a fit and finish I was happy with. I wore this loads over the summer – perfect for pulling on with sandals – even though it is still un-hemmed! oops! I made a long sleeve version which was also great, so this pattern will be staying in my collection.
  • My Polka-dot Portrait Blouse was a simple cotton tee but it was perfect over the summer. Loose enough to stay cool, but with enough subtle shaping. I lived in this with my cropped jeans, which was quite a revelation for a stretch t-shirt girl.
  • I made a quilt!! What more do I need to say?! I learned so much, caught the patchwork and quilting bug, and now can stay cozy while lounging on the sofa.
  • My floral Cambie was another great dress that worked for all occasions; school, weddings and lazy weekends. I feel so good in it as there is the right balance between style and comfort, the fabric is soft and scrummy, and I did some good pattern alterations to get the perfect fit (and at a meet-up someone was wearing a Cambie they had altered using my tutorial!)
  • Finally, since it is the only garment in season at the moment, is my Liberty Hawthorn. I wasn’t convinced about the pattern until I saw all the versions popping up on people’s blogs. This is the fourth fabric version of this, after lots of muslin-ing to get the bodice darts to fit once I’d done a big FBA, so I’m proud of all the work that went into making it. Again, I feel really good in it – not showy, but just quietly confident, like a stylish grown-up in it.

Reflections:

  • Do you notice anything about all my hit garments? A Cake pattern, a Gertie pattern, a Sewaholic pattern and a Colette pattern. I didn’t realise until writing this, but all my hits have been from independent pattern designers (my By Hand London blazer was almost in the top 5). This isn’t deliberate but I think it reflects my sewing process. Since blogging and reading other bloggers I have discovered new companies I’d never heard of. And since these companies all blog, I get to see inside the patterns and get more inspiration than is on the pattern envelope. To be honest, I’m not sure what the last Big 4 pattern I used was…
  • Three out of four hit garments are dresses! I feel good when I’m wearing a well fitted dress, and it is less hassle getting dressed in the morning. Yet I feel like dresses are impractical and don’t sew that many. This must change!
  • I like learning and I want to expand my skills. This year I learned some couture skills, I learned to patchwork blocks and how to free-motion quilt, I learnt how to add darts to knitting (yes, bust darts on my knitted cardigan coming soon once it is dried. Blocking takes so long in winter!) and I learnt more about photography and taking better pictures. As we say in school, I have a growth mind-set towards my sewing learning.
  • Sewing is more fun when you can share with people who understand you. I love, love, LOVE my new Sewcialist and Spoolette friends here on the blog, on twitter and instagram and now in real life thanks to lots of meet-ups 🙂 It is so great having people who understand your passion for creating and who can offer advice from experience, but most of the time we meet we don’t talk about sewing; there is almost an unspoken attitude towards life that we all share, despite being totally different and having different other interests, which means we can get on so well.
  • I’m pretty awesome. This isn’t said in an arrogant way, but in a “I have previously had such low self-confidence but I’m actually starting to believe I’m good” sort of way.
  • I need to craft; it is not just a hobby anymore, it is part of my life. When my wrists were bad and I had to rest, I had no idea what to do with myself. I felt twitchy and on edge for weeks as I hadn’t made anything for ages, and this in turn made me feel really low (in combination with the pain and frustration).

Inspirations:

  • All my sewing and crafting inspiration comes from the sewcialists and spoolettes and all the great blogs I read. If I had to pick my main inspirations, they would be:
    Jo  (Sew Little Time) because I think we sew quite a lot of similar things and are similar height so I can trust her makes will also look good on me.
    Struggle Sews A Straight Seam because her blog makes me smile so much, and she has a great approach to sewing wearable garments.
    Gillian (Crafting A Rainbow) because we are like the same person on different continents; both teach little kiddies, both love bright colours and sewing wearable jersey. And Gillian is always behind a twitter plan!
    Amy (Almond Rock) as she makes such cute tops with great fabric. And she turned her blog into self-hosted (I may need her help soon since I’ve nearly reached my storage limit on wordpress, eek!)
    Roisin (Dolly Clackett) for all her amazing and FUN dresses (and she is such a lovely friend).

Goals:

  • Make more dresses. I feel great in dresses, so I should make more.
  • Wear an entirely me-made outfit at least once. The only RTW items I have to buy at the moment are bras and socks. I have some sock-weight yarn and I’ve signed up to a bra-making course at Morley College (its not for a style I really wear, since that sold out last term, but should teach me the fundamental aspects I hope)
  • Keep improving and learning new techniques, and keep challenging myself in my crafting. (Was that in school speak too much?!)
  • Make more effort to join in online; open-ended sew-alongs, challenges, commenting on blogs and sharing reviews and projects online.
  • Most importantly, I will enjoy my crafting and take my time to savour all the details. I rushed my knitting and learnt the hard way that I need to enjoy crafting in (slight) moderation, otherwise I may not be able to craft at all.

As a thank you for reading all that reflection, here are some pictures of some of my projects that didn’t make the top 5 hits… To see them in more detail, click on the newly organised pages at the top of the blog 🙂

2013

Plans and goals for 2013

I have just the one row of scallops (and darning in ends on some squares, I had to sew them together first as they were taking up too much/all of my floor space) so fingers-crossed I will be able to take some proper pictures tomorrow.

IMAG0682

In the meantime I thought I should get up and stop sitting around in my pjs (just one more row of crochet is currently a couple of hours!) so here are my crafty plans for the year. The first few goals are what I submitted for the sewlution I posted on Karen’s blog – she is going to check we keep them at the end of the year – and the rest will have to be checked by my lovely readers.

  • I am going to make less but what I make will be better. I’m specifically thinking of seam finishes, precise measuring and cutting, perfect fitting. I have enough cheap and cheerful tops I have made and worn but some of the most recent ones are starting to look shabby – it is okay to make a few fun tops in a crazy print but, after jumping on the blogging bandwagon and reading Overdressed, I think my wardrobe should be built to last. I want to make a proper winter coat by the end of the year and make more hand-knitted items.
  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations. If I don’t have a wearable garment I will still have enjoyed myself and learned skills, so I need to stop being so protective of the unwearable garments and actually turn them into something else! At school one of the current trends is how children view learning – do they feel success when they have got 10/10 or is the challenge and learning experience more important for them? Which is more important – the finished garment, or the lessons learned in the process?
  • I will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). (see above) At the moment I have 2 blouses, a skirt and some jeans cut and partially made – the jeans were left until I lost a bit of weight before fitting them, the skirt went horribly wrong (how can 2 makes with the same pattern differ so much?!) and the blouses have slight sleeve fitting issues. No wonder my pin-cushion looks rather empty!
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! This year I did the Couture Dress and Jeanius courses and they were amazing and I learned SO much. I have other courses lined up in my account that I need to find time to do, plus I have lots of techniques in my pile of Threads magazines and books waiting to be used.
  • I really want to make bunting! I’m very surprised I haven’t actually made any yet, so this year I will get around to making some to jazz up my little flat. I have some crochet books that could be perfect for making little things to hang on garlands, or I could recycle and reuse all the fabric/projects going spare.
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. The blogs I love reading are the ones with great pictures, and I want that to be true for this little crafty place. I think my pictures have improved, but they are not always as good as they could be, so I am going to learn to use all the settings on my camera properly and make the most of natural light. I suppose I should include taking better action shots.
  • I am going to be a better blog-reader. I LOVE reading comments from readers on my blog but I am not great at commenting on other blogs. I catch up on blogs on my reader apps on my phone or iPad, but there is no comment option on them, and by the time I have got home via the supermarket and made dinner etc then I have forgotten what and where I wanted to comment! I am going to try to star the blogs I want to comment on so I remember when I get home and can have a comment session, however I am finding some blog platforms wont let me comment from the iPad – if anyone has any apps to help me keep in touch please let me know.
  • I am going to explore new recipes. When I say new I mean new-to-me. I acquired some of my Grandma’s old recipe books but haven’t tried any of the recipes yet. Instead of looking online for recipe ideas I will look for inspiration in books! In my snazzy blog button you can see my Grandma’s old red binder (full of cuttings and handwritten recipes) and The Radiation Cookery Book (the 35th edition printed in January 1949, designed for fancy new gas ovens!)

retro recipes

 

A Royal Refashion

Yesterday morning I bought these rather large, shiny and feathery earrings on sale.Hmm… a bit big for my taste, what to do with them… What if I were to break them up with wire-cutters and pliers, what could they become?*
A whole sash-worth of medals fit for a Queen! Hem a long strip of lining fabric to become the sash, add some fur and ribbon to the top of a cheap bed-sheet for a ceremonial robe, and cover some card with LOTS of glitter to make a crown and… hey-presto! A fancy dress outfit fit for a Queen!

A friend had her annual birthday karaoke do and this year the theme was “Best of British”. She was Amy Winehouse, there were policewomen, cricketers, Olympic Games Makers, a traditional British gentleman, Boy George and Freddie Mercury (from the ‘I Want to Break Free’ video, complete with vacuum attachment) and I was HRH The Queen. Here is Her Majesty singing Total Eclipse of the Heart with Miss Winehouse – lots of passionate gesturing and pointing happens to look just like a royal wave. The crown barely survived the night -there was nobody to carry an umbrella over my head – but the rest is going into storage and is going to the top of my Best Fancy Dress Outfit list. I also sang The One and Only because it is an awesome song, but it turned out to be a good song for the Queen to sing.

I took some cakes and it was easy to make them themed with just some red and blue icing (and Haribo sweeties for the birthday girl). They aren’t totally accurate but under the flashing disco lights they looked good enough. And people were a little too tipsy to notice that some were a bit over-baked!

* It is slightly worrying how easily they fell apart, I barely had to use tools. I also have 14 feathers that I need to find a use for… any suggestions?

Self-Stitched-September Summary

I have been participating in Self-Stitched-September last month, but neglecting the photography and documentation. To be honest, September was quite a crazy month and I don’t really remember precisely what I wore everyday, but I promise I did complete the challenge. My official reason for not documenting the challenge is that it is no longer a novelty to wear handmade garments and there were only a few days when I had to remember I was doing the challenge.

So here is the summary of my Self-Stitched September… Continue reading

Me-Made-June – the end of the month

June is over and so I have come to the end of my Me-Made-June challenge.

I was initially not sure if I could manage a whole month in home-made but I have managed it and have worn something home-made for 29 days (1 day of staying in bed in my pjs). This was a total of 22 homemade items including accessories and bags. There are still some handmade items that did not get worn this month (heavy winter clothes and super-summery clothes) due to the weird weather we had, and some items that got quite a few appearances (hello new favourite stripey top!)

I had really wanted to end the month with a bang, wearing head-to-toe homemade, but I had other more important matters to think about when dressing on Thursday… What could possibly be more important than sewing?! …Find out soon!

Me-made June – the month so far

With one week until the end of June and the me-made challenge, I thought it would be time to summarise how I’ve done so far (I’ve been repeating some items so have been a bit lazy taking photos and needed to jog my memory).

Today was a fail as I am not well and stayed home in my pjs all day. Only 7 days to go, and I still have all my summer maxi-skirts to wear if the weather ever improves.

Me Made June 2011

One of the reasons I decided to start my own blog was seeing the Me Made June challenge on So Zo… What Do you know?

The challenge is to wear handmade items every day in June. I sorted my wardrobe and counted (at the time) about 20 different items and thought it would be something I could just about manage. What I forgot to factor in was the great British weather – my me-made items include lots of summer dresses which are obviously not suitable for a British summer! So the past couple of weekends I have been panic-sewing some warmer clothes that I can wear in the gloomy rain this month (although today’s make is actually rather summery!)

I found this dress in Oxfam for the bargain sum of £4.99 (£40 less than the sale price!) and was debating what to do with it – I considered a skirt, but then decided I could use a denim dress. The sleeves were a bit tight so I took the binding off and removed the gathers, and stitched it back up. This didn’t seem like enough of a refashion so I decided to go crazy and change the buttons (I also moved the position slightly so there is a teeny bit of extra room when I sit down).

The dress was originally from Bravissimo, and comes in different sizes depending on how curvy you are – this was in my normal top size, but if I was buying directly from Bravissimo I would go down a dress size and up a curvy-size to get a better fit. Saying that, it isn’t too bad for ready-to-wear for under a fiver!

I also made good use of the little scraps of binding (nothing wasted with me!) – See what I did in a tutorial to follow soon!