Well it’s February & I started writing this review early in January & never got it finished! Better late than never eh! It’s been a fabulous year of sewing for me. So grab a cuppa – it’s gonna be a long one!
I thought that I’d write an overview of my sewing highlights, hits & misses of 2019 before I write up my 2020 plans. If anything this year marks the year that I came out from the sidelines & started to join in – with everything! – Starting with MIYMarch & the Great British Sewing Bee in March & actively participating with Me Made May for the first time. I’ve had a lot of fun making new friends online but in person too. I also started this blog & blogging for Minerva too.
I think the girls over at @SewOver50 gave me the push that I needed & made me realise that there are women of my age out there sewing & having fun posting pictures of their memades. I’ve taken part in so many challenges this year & find that it’s a good way get things done, as there is generally a deadline to work to.
MIYMarch was interesting to take part in as this years theme was Sustainability which made me think a lot about what I was making & the materials used, I also participated in the New Crafthouse Sew Yourself Sustainable challenge in September. I always think that by sewing I’m already doing my bit but there’s always improvements that can be made on this front.
JayJay @theCamdentitch held the #SewFrugal!9 challenge to sew up something as cheaply as possible – which was obviously right up my street! I had a Seamwork Reggie dress in a coral shirting cotton, that I had never worn, despite dying it blue & an old GBSB maxi dress that I had stopped wearing. I found my inspiration on Pinterest of a dress by Doodlage & hacked a tunic pattern that had been a freebie in a sewing magazine to try a replicate it. I was really pleased with the result, I used up the remnants for a bag lining & it cost me nowt & I had a much more wearable garment in the end.
I failed a bit at the Rural Sewists mini challenge to make 3 unsewn, the only garment I succeeded in sewing up was the vintage Simplicity pattern 6721 that I used for the GBSB vintage week. And of course there is the Make 9 challenge which I completed one & then made another grid for the Autumn/Winter, which about half way through – it’s still winter, so not a fail yet!
I joined in with the Stitch Sisters 30 days of dresses & was quite shocked wen I did a count up of how many dresses I had made, so managed to wear a memade dress & get photos each day in July. And there was the Sew Together For Summer challenge to sew a jumpsuit, I made 2 & won some patterns from Pearson & Pope. I’d never heard of this designer before & have made up both patterns, (they were part of my 2nd make 9) & they are really lovely.
I particularly enjoyed Sheonas, @Sewisfaction, GBSB challenge, as the deadlines were weekly, so I had to be creative & slot them in with patterns or fabric that I already had. I also worked my Make 9 plans into a few & finished off a dress that I’d had half made for ages, I even made a swimsuit, something that I never thought I’d do. I really enjoyed the upcycle challenge, as that fitted into the MIYMarch sustainability theme and I believe the 2020 GBSB will focus more on this. I was lucky enough to win some patterns from Cocowawa Crafts as a runners up prize for the Camden Cape that I made from some Burberry wool that I’d inherited too.
I also took part in the Pattern Swap & used one of the patterns (Simplicity K8460) to enter the #MadeLikeMaisel competition & was chuffed to bits to make it to the finalists. This challenge was to make a Marvellous Mrs Maisel inspired outfit. After many hours of watching the TV show & scouring Pinterest, I came up with the outfit below. I did a lot of work altering the jacket to make it look like one of the images that I’d seen. I was really pleased with the result & have worn the dress a couple of times.
The SewOver50 crew have had few challenges over the year that I’ve participated, in most just for fun such as So50Flatlay, which was a great way to get us thinking about getting shots of our garments when we can’t model them. There was So50Vintage too where I won a prize of a vintage pattern with the dress above.
So50Visible has been a really important campaign to get pattern companies to showcase older models on their main promotional material & I wholeheartedly support that. We’re the ones who have probably been sewing on & off over the last 30+ years & have a bit more time & money to spend on their hobby & should be seen out there enjoying our lovely makes but more importantly connecting with each other, which rather conveniently segues into …
Sewing Meet Ups
I did go to a couple of Meet ups in 2018 but so many more in 2019. I went to #SewupNorth again this year & Ali at Thimberlina organised one in Harrogate, where the lovely ladies at Fine Fabrics gave us a little goodie bag & tea & cake.
Ali organised another #SewDownDewsbury, this is my local meet up, I think if it wasn’t for her meet ups & would never have braved going to any of the others. These are always lovely relaxed affairs, I’ve met some really great new sewing friends who live just around the corner & of course it’s on my stomping ground so I can show people around & show off Dewsbury’s often overlooked little gems. I also met the lovely Janet Poole from last years Great British Sewing Bee too!
Samantha @theRuralSewist organised a couple of really interesting meet ups too. One to look around Marton Mills, which was absolutely fascinating & the owners were lovely & so enthusiastic about keeping the weaving trade going in Yorkshire.
The other was in York to meet & chat & then look around Joanna Wakefield’s lovely little jewellery shop, where I bought my favourite earrings. If you ever get chance to pop in, it’s not far from the city walls & everything is handmade there on the premises. She even provided us with tea & cake, it was a lovely afternoon.
Top 9 favourite makes
Instagram makes you a little grid of your most popular posts based on the amount of likes but I decided to make one disregarding how many likes that they got but rather my favourite makes in terms of what I feel that I’ve achieved, the skills I’ve learnt most importantly what I’ve worn in 2019. What I didn’t do last year is keep a tally of all the things that I made, which I did in 2018 but going into 2020 I will start to keep a record of my makes again.
So here they are in no particular order …
Top Left – Butterick B6412 – A full skirted dress with a sweetheart neckline from their patterns by Gertie range, made in a lovely peach skin by Joh Kaldor given to me by Minerva crafts. I’ve written a blog post about the dress over on their site, which will appear sometime this year. As the dress is fully lined, I used the lining to make the toile & made self covered buttons too! There was a fair bit of hand stitching involved, along the lining to the zipper but I also decided to hand stitch the hem, (all 4.25m of it) as I think it gives a nicer finish. This is among my favourites because I wore it to the Frocktails event, held by Laura @sewdifferent in November & won the Best Dress prize, which I was stunned by – there were so many lovely dresses there that evening but I think it was because I’d made a matching bra that swung it! (More on that next).
I’ve got Karen & Sue (pictured below, top right) to thank for saving me a seat & making me welcome, as I nearly didn’t go but I really enjoyed the evening, chatting to everyone and I got to meet Janet Poole again, Debbie Shore, a bag making guru & Tree from Stitchless TV. Hila from Saturday Night Stitch did the presenting & has a short video of me accepting my prizes, if you really want a laugh at my Yorkshire accent! I appear around the 20 minute mark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj2EH6hXxIU I won some fantastic prizes: £100 gift voucher from William Gee, some lovely denim from The Denim company, a fabulous wax print from Dovetailed London & a pattern from Emma Garry.
Top Middle– Harriet Bra – Cloth Habit – Bra making was something that I’d been wanting to try for a long time & it was one of those things that just looked too complex to try by watching YouTube tutorials – my usual way of learning! So I very subtly dropped the hint to my husband who bought me the course for my birthday. I went to the New Crafthouse in London, along with 6 other ladies & the lovely Rosie demonstrated each step for us.
While the end result didn’t give me a perfectly fitted bra, it did give me the skills & confidence to give it another go. As mentioned before I made another in the John Kaldor peachskin & went up a size & it fits so much better, so I will definitely be making plenty more in 2020. I’m looking forward to being able to wear 100% memade this year!
Montavilla Dress & Top
Top Right – Montavilla dress & top by Sew House 7 – I made 3 of these in 2019, starting with one made from a upcycled skirt that only cost me £1. The top version takes a surprisingly small amount of fabric & construction is relatively easy. I went on to make both dress versions too, one for the Sewing patterns & prints challenge – I think the theme was Geometric July. There were random prizes drawn & I won a voucher for this one. The full length version in the picture was my very first Minerva blogpost. The fabric was a beautiful viscose twill with a navy background & flamingoes on. I’ve written a full blogpost here of all the Montavillas – it’s a pattern that I really love & I wore all 3 a lot through the summer.
Colette Penny Dress
Middle Left – Colette Penny Dress. Made from a lovely Liberty print – the infamous William Morris Strawberry theif, which I’d had for a few years. My son bought me the fabric & probably paid a lot for it, so I wanted to make it into something special & thought that his wedding celebration was the perfect opportunity. I absolutely love this dress & have worn it to an interview, (no I didn’t get the job – but it’s ok). This will get lots of wear in the summer, as it’s sleeveless. I think I need to add a blazer or cardigan to wear with this to get more wear out of it, as it’s not a particularly summery print, so would be fine to wear in the cooler months. I’ve written a full blogpost about the dress here.
Middle – I had a bit of a bag making frenzy in 2019 & made lots from the Sew Sweetness range & a Necessary clutch wallet. But it’s the MorsBags which I’m particularly proud of. I love their tagline – Sociable Guerrilla Bagging! The idea is that you make a tote bag from any old bits of fabric, such as old curtains & duvet covers, to scraps & remnants – (I even used an old shirt & tea towel, the possibilities are endless really). There is a free tutorial here .
What I’ve particularly enjoyed about this is that I’ve been able inspire people to make their own & pass on my skills to others, teaching them how to make them. The idea is that you make them & give them away, so I donated the 30 that I had made to my local Recycle Yard.
Solina Dress – Named Patterns
Middle Right – Solina Dress Named Patterns – This was on my first make 9 & I made it up for the Party week during the GBSB challenge. I picked up the chalk blue viscose crepe from Fabworks without any idea of what I was going to make but I absolutely loved the colour. I’ve worn it a couple of times out I feel very fancy wearing it, I just need watch those wrist ties if I’m eating soup!
Augusta Moto Pants
Bottom Left – DIBY Augusta Moto Pants Do it Yourself Better Club were a new pattern company to me. I saw Di’s version @DreamCutSew & loved the pleating details, so really wanted to give them a try. These are in the top 9 because of all the new techniques I learnt, along with a few lessons about stretch fabric & thread. Note to future self – make sure that when the pattern tells you 30% stretch is needed, listen & use proper topstitching thread in polyester not cotton because it’s going to snap! These were the 4th item made from my 2nd make 9 & I’ve worn them a lot & luckily none of the stitching has popped so far!
Kalle Shirt Dress
Bottom Middle – Closet Case Files Kalle Dress – The Kalle is one of my favourite patterns, it has so many variations & this is the 3rd that I’ve made & probably my favourite, I wore it a lot over the summer. I bought this fabric at the Harrogate meet up & wore the dress to one of the Dewsbury meet ups, so it brings back happy memories too.
Bottom Right – Sade Top – Named Patterns – I put this top on my 1st make 9 to wear to a gig in February & it was one of my 1st makes in 2019. I rescued the fabric from the remnant bin at Fabworks & I think it cost me £1 or £2. I used some ribbon that I already had. A really simple top to make & I’ve worn it lots on nights out & on holiday as it folds into nothing.
I do need to wear a little cami underneath as it’s see through but that’s fine. The wrist ties are a devil to tie by myself, so I need an assistant to get dressed & they had an habit of unthreading, as they were a tad too short but I’ve solved that by adding a couple of stitches at both ends to stop them from unthreading.
Jakista Blazer – Closet Case Patterns – I left the best till last with this, it’s not on the grid but I was really pleased with the result of this Jacket. I decided to invest in the video tutorials, which I’m glad I did, they are well worth the money. Heather Lou goes into a lot of detail to help you get a good result. She describes it as fast tailoring, so fusible interfacings & minimal sewing but with welt pockets & a notched collar. While I wouldn’t want to be making this a complete novice, the instructions really do hold your hand. I made a couple of fit toiles first out of some decorators dust sheets. I then cut into some sparkly fabric that I picked up from our local market for around £2 a yard & used the leftover lining fabric from my 1970s dress Simplicity 672. I bought the button from Duttons for Buttons (I love that name) at the Harrogate meet up which has a Yorkshire rose on it. I’ve actually started a blogpost on this & may finish it one day, as I’ve got another planned for 2020, so watch this space for a full review.
And the Wadders
Obviously not everything turns out fantastic but every day is a learning day when you’re sewing. Sometimes things just don’t turn out how I have imagined, it’s usually my fault because I haven’t quite got the fit right or the fabric isn’t right for the pattern – yup I still make that mistake. Sometimes the style doesn’t suit me, as in the Reggie dress mentioned previously but I have the skills to repurpose the fabric & make it work.
Camille Jumpsuit – Sew Over It – Work To Weekend Ebook. This was supposed to be my New Years Eve 2018/19 outfit & I didn’t get it finished in time. I’d toiled the trousers & found the crotch to be too low, so made the necessary adjustments but didn’t toile the bodice. I used some beautiful fabrics from Fabworks, a navy blue plisse & a sequinned fabric for the sleeves that was a remnant. I actually started one of my 1st blog posts about this but never published it, as when I saw the photos, I could see the top part was too big. Undeterred I did wear it once & spent the whole evening faffing with it. One day I may unpick it and size down, I don’t think that the plisse helps, as it’s nature is to stretch. It’s a shame as it was one of my favourite patterns from that e-book.
Anna Trench Coat – Sew Over It Work to Weekend. I touched on this in my Make 9 update, so won’t go into too much detail. But this was a case of the fabric being too thick I think & trying to add a lining. I can probably rectify the lining issue but I’m still left with the fabric feeling too stiff. I’m still not sure about this, so it’s in the back of the wardrobe while I decide.
It looks as though I didn’t have much success with the Work to Weekend ebook but I’ve made about 4 Edie tops which are on regular rotation & I’ve got the Kate dress printed, I just need to fit it into my plans but other shiny new things keep distracting me! These 2 are examples of the wrong fabric choice I think
Well done if you’ve made it this far, I never intended this to be so long but wanted to record everything for posterity to help me make plans for 2020. Hopefully, in the future I will do monthly round ups, to keep a track of what I’ve made, along with more pattern reviews.
I think my biggest lesson this year is to make a plan with a deadline. My first make 9 was a success because I knew what I wanted & when I wanted it for. Oh – and that I love taking part in challenges – who knew I was so competitive!
Right I’m off for a large glass of wine, now that dry January is over & to make some firm plans for 2020! Let me know what your favourite makes have been in 2019 & what have you enjoyed taking part in.