Review of 2017’s sewing (and #2017makenine)

I’ve never sewn as much as I have this year. It has been an extraordinary year. I set out with the intention of not buying a single item of clothing and I have pretty well succeeded. I have bought some pants, some socks and 2 jumpers on ebay. Other than that, everything else has been me-made.

I have made 11 tops,  1 shirt, 5 skirts, 3 pairs of trousers, 1 pair of culottes, 8 dresses and a sleeveless coat. I’ve made a skirt for my daughter, one for my mother, 3 sequinned t-shirts for my stepdaughter Caroline’s bridesmaids (her sisters) and a stunning dressing gown for my husband.                                                     It’s a pretty staggering output considering that I work full time, and in summer, have an allotment to tend too.

Some things have been really quick and satisfying things to make like the Toaster sweater, while others took so long (the Matilda shirtdress) that I almost gave up all hope! I’ve been helped enormously by a new sewing machine – I was bought a Janome CXL301 in April for my birthday and it has transformed my sewing. It has been noticed that I can no longer be heard cursing at the machine!

Sewing this much has transformed my relationship with my body and how I feel about fit. Last year I finally learnt how to make a full bust adjustment, so now, when I wear a RTW blouse, I can feel the uncomfortable straining of something that doesn’t really fit me. A lot of things have gone to charity shops, including items that I made last year when I was just getting started again with sewing. I’ve learnt better what suits me, and if it hasn’t worked, I am trying to feel less guilt about getting rid of it. I have struggled with fitting trousers though. 2 out of the three pairs I have made this year don’t fit well, so next year, I am going to take a trouser fitting class so that I can get that nailed.

The #2017makenine was a really good starting point for constructing a memade wardrobe that I would actually wear – no more party dresses! I have made seven of them. The Tilly and the Button Agnes top and the Vanessa Pouzet Wanted top are great staples and I have another Agnes cut out ready to go. The Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater is a joy and I wish I had made it earlier. The Mildred Pinafore dress had to be completely reworked but became my favourite item of clothing for about a month as did the Erin skirt – still go to it when I am unsure what to wear. Again a pattern crying out for another version! The Gertie wrap top is a bit short and the Sew Over Wrap Dress could fit better. I still want to make the Thread Theory Lazo trousers but I can’t see when I would wear the  Maker’s Atelier Sport-Luxe Bomber Jacket that I was lusting after last year, so that idea is being abandoned.

Which is not a reflection on Maker’s Atelier. The book, published in the Spring has provided me with inspiration all year – I have made 3 versions of the stretch pencil skirt, the trousers and the drape front top. I am just about to cut out the tie neck blouse too.

My favourite make is probably the Butterick B6178 culottes, that I made in a bright jungle print cotton – cheerful, comfy and smart enough to go anywhere, they always attract compliments. It’s hard to pick a favourite pattern, but I think the Grainline Scout tee might be it. 2 for me (again in bold prints) and sequinned versions for my daughters have certainly made it the most used pattern of the year! Plus, I must mention Sew Over It. From the dresses to the City Break ebook, the clothes that Lisa Comfort designs continue to inspire me.

I’m going to carry on sewing next year, but maybe not to quite the same extent. It has sometimes felt like an additional pressure in my life and I can get quite obsessional about it. Also, I sometimes see clothes in shops that I really, really like and would like to buy – so I am going to let myself occasionally. My sewing goals include continuing to improve fit, getting a bit more finicky with the finishing and making some children’s clothes for my lovely granddaughter.

Happy New Year!


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