Sewing reflection; a year of personal projects

I began this year with a lot of fabric and a lot of ideas about what I would like to make for myself. Trying to maintain an element of realism, I wrote out what I thought was a moderate list of sewing projects I would be able to complete in 2013.

The year has truly flown by. I have been buried in a massive freelance project for the last four months (hence the lack of blog posts) and was in denial about Christmas right up until it happened. At the beginning of December I read Kathryn's post about her impressive year in sewing and started to feel a little glum that my accomplishments were so few.

Since then, I've been gathering mental evidence of the things I have made this year and realised that they do in fact add up to a list, even if it doesn't quite match the one I initially wrote down when 2013 was shiny, fresh and new. Inspired by Karen's post about her shirt achievement, I decided to record here the things I've made this year, as a sort of visual reminder.

My major sewing resolution for 2013 was to make and wear a dress, which I ticked off quite early in the year in honour of my sister's wedding ceremony. More about that here.

My sister also had a separate wedding party, for which of course I felt I must make a whole new outfit. I self-drafted a shirt from some beautifully crazy fabric I got in Walthamstow. I was so proud of myself for calculating extra fabric for the front overlap, so that the pattern would match, but I forgot to add extra to the collar stand. The results of this error are clearly shown in this photo - wonky collar alert!

This photo can also be found under the encyclopaedia entry, "The face of a vegetarian when surprisingly confronted with a roasted animal."

Later that spring, I spent more time making this cloak than I have ever spent on any other handmade garment. And look! I haven't finished it! I felt quite disappointed with my lack of pattern matching, so lost the heart to add buttons. Looking at the cloak now I don't think it's so bad. Adding buttons will go on my 2014 list of things to do.

With the weather still fairly cold, I whipped up a sort of long sleeved vest, based on a body suit I have. I do wear this every now and then but still haven't finished the neckline as I was a little baffled about how to do so. I think I'm going to make some bias binding from the same fabric. Any suggestions from those of you experienced in the ways of stretch would be most welcome.

When the hot weather struck I discovered I had no appropriate clothing and got into making shorts. As well as the two pairs documented here, I made this plain ol' black pair, which I wore almost every day on holiday in Portugal.

Having developed a small obsession with the colour lime green, I started a fourth pair of shorts in this zingy shade, but sadly they remain unfinished. Another project for my 2014 list.

In summer I also made a dress for my colleague Patricia. We sit next to each other in the Bag Books workshop, usually wearing dirty jeans and oversized t-shirts with our hair covered in sawdust, though it is not unusual for Patricia to accompany this look with a pair of six inch stilettos.

She sketched out a picture of her fantasy dress - which she envisioned in red - and I decided to take up the challenge and make it for her.

I exercised my artistic license along the way and it emerged without a spot of red to be seen. The dress is a Dr Frankenstein mash-up of the By Hand London 'Charlotte Skirt' pattern and Vogue V8240 with a self-drafted mega peplum for good measure.

Patricia and I have very different tastes and ways of dressing and it was a lot of fun to make something to suit her style rather than my own.

I Autumn, my friend Alastair got married and I decided to knuckle down and make a dress for the occasion. I had no spare time so made this tiny, seasonally inappropriate number on my lunch breaks at work.

When the wedding date arrived it was a cold, dark, windy London night and wearing an exotic mini-dress seemed nothing but absurd, so I opted for trousers. Hopefully this will come in handy in the Indian summer of 2014 that I predict we will have!

In summer, I promised Offset Warehouse that I would make a top using some of their beautiful African fabric. This is one of the many projects that I struggled to find time for and have only just completed it. There will be a tutorial for this simple summery piece on their blog soon.

I made the trousers earlier this year, also using fabric from Offset Warehouse, so I'm pleased to say this outfit is 100% ethical and 100% homemade.

With Christmas undeniably looming into view I got to work on presents. I made this pair of trousers for my sister from a vintage pattern. They came out absolutely enormous at first so I had to take off a lot of fabric at the side seams. I plan to make these for myself but need to spend a bit of time working on sizing before hand.

I also downloaded Tilly's 'Mathilde Blouse' pattern and made it for my Mum. Though I have the Sinbad & Sailor 'Dove Fitted T' pattern sitting on my computer, this is the first time I've got together the gumption to actually go ahead and use a Pdf sewing pattern. I must say, I really enjoyed the experience.

This is what it looked like at the beginning...

... and this is what it emerged as in the end : ) What a lovely Christmas fairy! I turned the tucks into pleats instead and also used binding to finish off the bell shaped sleeves, rather than gathering them into more traditional blouse cuffs.

I'm happy to say my Mum felt right at home in the top. Thank you Tilly!

Finally, the project to end all projects; my winter coat. I can't even remember when I started working on this it is so long ago, but slowly, slowly, the monster is rising up from a leopard print swamp.

I'm aiming to make this a super warm beast that fairly cooks me alive it is so warm, so I have added an interlining made of micro fleece. It's almost too much for my poor little machine to handle, but together we are just about managing to push onwards. I hoped to have this finished by the stroke of midnight tonight, but I still have a full lining and button holes to go. Hopefully, this will be the first project I complete in the new year.

 So, thank you for inspiring me to reflect Karen and Kathryn. It is so easy to charge onwards without a lingering backwards glance, but with all this retrospection, I am now actually rewarding myself with a pat on the back rather than castigating myself for not achieving my goals!

I already have a mental list of sewing projects to complete in 2014, and I look forward to ticking some of them off as well as making things that right now I have yet to imagine.


  1. You managed a lot more sewing than I did this year! That dress you made for your colleague it stunning! She looks amazing in it. I'm amazed you managed to fit so much sewing in alone with everything else.

    Hope you manage as much is 2014 x

    1. Thanks Fiona - she does look fantastic. She wore it for her birthday this year and looked mega hot : ) I find it hard to create the time for personal sewing and and always want to get much more done! I don't know how you manage to run a business single handed and be a Mum - super impressive!

      Happy 2014 to you xx

  2. Oh, I am immensely flattered to have inspired you as you are my HEROINE! I think you've achieved amazing things in 2013. That veggie confronted by meat photo is hilarious. The horror!

    1. Aaaaah Karen - I'm not worthy!! Thanks for your support. looking forward to seeing you soon xx

  3. This is really funny because I love everything you sew! I always feel like I have no tangible style whereas everything you make has such a great clear aesthetic, I love your style. I really want to make more things in simple shapes and bold colours. That leopard print coat looks bloody amazing, hope you get to finish it soon! Happy New Year! x

    (this is Kathryn by the way - Blogger comments always seem to strip out my identity...)

  4. OH. MY. GOD! You were HERE in Portugal???? In Belém???? Did you taste the awesome "Pastéis de Belém"?? I Hope you enjoyed! Did you went to Sintra? If not I can tell you BEAUTIFUL places to go there, the next time you come to Portugal!!! :D
    Kisses from Portugal!!!

  5. I refused to hand over big bucks for a new dress and I found this dress on Internet. It is absolutely perfect and it's a great dress that's worth triple the price.
    Tory Burch espadrilles


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