Sewing Top Fives: Reflections

Next up in Sewing Top Fives of 2020: reflections. I skipped the non-sewing highlights prompt because I like to keep this blog focussed on the clothes and not everything else going on in the world. I guess that makes it a Sewing Top Four.

I only set four sewing goals for 2020, which were three patterns I wanted to make and to carry on with my project to sew my way through my Burda wishlist. And I failed almost completely: I made only one of the three patterns and stopped sewing the dresses after January. I never do well with New Year resolutions. The two patterns that didn’t get made weren’t the most practical of items: a particularly ridiculous Vogue coat which resembles a turtle, and a sleeveless wrap jumpsuit. Where I live, sleeveless works for about one month a year. However I don’t find myself all that disappointed about the failures. The jumpsuit pattern is great and I might go back to it in the spring, but the coat is probably a project best kept for a point in my life when I have a lot more free time. And as for the dresses…well, I don’t have the lifestyle for most of them and my wardrobe space is very limited. So I doubt I’ll go back to those.

I did try something new this year: sewing with a plan rather than making whatever happens to take my fancy next. The aim was to make pieces that work together and use up some stash fabric. It took a surprisingly long time to come up with a suitable set of projects and I’m still working my through the list. At the rate I sew, even the eight garments I have planned will take six months. I’m half way through now, with four finished garments.

I’m honestly surprised I’ve stuck with it even this far, although it helps that I already have most of the necessary fabric. I am starting to get slightly bored, although that might be because I’m currently working on an involved Vogue designer pattern in black fabric with miles of black topstitching at the darkest time of year; I seem to have been making it for weeks and it’s still not done.

Three of the finished items from the plan have fitted right into my wardrobe. The one failure was down to poor fit rather than the choice of pattern. So it’s been mostly worthwhile, but if I carry on planning in advance like this I need to find a better balance of short and long projects. And I do miss the fun of planning frivolous projects based on my latest whim.

On the subject of patterns, I’m slightly saddened by what’s happened to Vogue Patterns this year. It’s not the rebranding of the parent company from McCalls to Something Delightful, although I don’t love that. Vogue are still by far the most interesting of the Big Four ranges, but they’re clearly winding down the designer pattern section. The designer’s name is no longer a prominent part of the marketing, and there are fewer and fewer designer patterns in each release. Conversely Burda magazine is going from strength to strength, so I haven’t bought any new envelope patterns all year.

I did buy and make up a vintage envelope pattern though: a Claude Montana Vogue from the 80s. It was beautifully designed; if modern Vogue designer patterns cease to be an option I’ll certainly be stalking eBay for vintage ones.

eBay has also supplied a few back issues of Burda this year that filled in some gaps in my collection from before I subscribed. I was struck by how different the magazine was ten years ago. There were fewer patterns per issue but they were very much more detailed. And of course the patterns were spread over eight sheets rather than four back then, so they’re much easier to trace than modern Burda. I can see myself sewing up a few things from these old issues next year.

Well that was an unstructured ramble. Next up: goals.

8 thoughts on “Sewing Top Fives: Reflections

  1. I was a bit surprised by the new Vogue release too, I don’t like the new branding where the designer scarcely features. I think it was something that set the Vogue patterns apart.

    For years I’ve been trying to rein in my desire to sew beautiful clothes for a life I don’t have versus the inevitable need to sew useful items for the life I do have. Fortunately, I actually love sewing trousers and jeans! I keep on taking part in this “Make Nine” challenge. I’m still not particularly sure that it is good idea since it means that virtually all my makes I can manage in a year are in the plan, I do like to sew something on a whim too!

  2. I’ve surprised myself this year by the sheer number of items I’ve made.. lots of coats and undies. I think burdastyle magazines are great value. I stopped subscribing a couple of years ago as I found lots of repeats and fewer patterns per issue. However, they are my go to resource for patterns and I sew most items from them.

  3. I hear you on sewing dark fabric in winter months… Just finished a navy jacket and accidently switched between dark navy and black thread for the top stitching 😆.
    I’ve been going through all my old Burda magazines lately and there are way more challenging and interesting patterns in the older magazines… Along with it being so much easier to trace a pattern.

  4. its a pity vogue are not having the same emphasis on designer patterns as they used to. I read an interview with Rachel Comey and her comments on designing for vogue (I cant remember them exactly but she did seem to get a thrill from connecting to the home sew-er). I think connects with one reason I admire Show Studio project where designers have shared patterns so makers can do their own interpretation. Having said that the Alexander McQueen is the only one I would make and have it on a wish list for nearly 10 years.!!

    1. Heh I made that pattern, and didn’t wear it all that much. It was a fascinating project but not one to use fancy fabric on 🙂 I do like Rachel Comey’s stuff. I wonder if Vogie uses her actual patterns? Some designers they do, and others they draft their own version.

  5. I agree on Vogue. I have so many patterns I want to make – and already have – so I’m just going to start with those! (And, e-bay). Oh, and I have to agree with you about sewing in the evenings with black fabric… nearly impossible. I’m working on a dark navy pea coat for my husband, and I have trouble once the sun goes down.

  6. I have stopped checking Vogue releases. As for modern Burda vs. older Burda, people have been complaining about them for decades now. I’ve seen people say that 2012 was terrible compared to 2002, and 2002 was no match for 1987. My solution is to not buy whole paper magazines but instead hen-peck through individual patterns (normally on the Russian site, where they go for as little as $0.50/pattern on sales several times a year).

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