Review of 2021

I’m shamelessly using the old Sewing Top Fives series from Gillian and the Sewcialists as the template for this post. There isn’t an official Sewing Top Five blog series this year but I’ve always enjoyed doing it in previous years so here is my version for 2021. Since I started writing this post Gillian’s posted their own top five so it’s not quite dead. Gillian if you’re reading this many thanks for the inspiration.

The usual top five categories are highlights, misses, non-sewing highlights, reflections, and goals.

My highlights will be over quickly because this year my favourite pieces work together as two complete outfits so only two pictures to show. First up, a dress, jacket, and t shirt (not seen in the picture).

The dress is vintage Vogue 1308 by Claude Montana. The jacket is Burda 105 2/2021. Underneath the dress is a v necked Burda top made up in wool jersey. The top now really belongs to the dress as I never wear it with anything else; I need the extra warmth from putting a layer under the yellow knit fabric. The jacket is also essential because it provides pockets.

The other outfit is simpler: a jumpsuit and another wool jersey top (again not seen). With a pair of thick tights underneath this is the perfect thing to wear for work.

The jumpsuit is the Closet Core Blanca and the top is a simple t shirt based on Winifred Aldrich’s drafting instructions and made up in wool jersey. The Blanca is such a favourite I keep thinking about making another. This one is made from Empress Mills 7.5oz stretch denim which comes in a wide range of colours; maybe a blue or green next time?

On to the misses. Luckily I don’t have a lot of these this year. The first one is very recent; Vogue 1558. I have only worn this for blog photos.

This wasn’t an ideal style choice for me and then I doubled down on it by picking unsuitable fabric which stretched more than I wanted. I’m glad I finally used the pattern, which I’ve had since it was released, but I think this version is going to be relegated to the dressing up box. Lots of people made helpful suggestions for saving it, but right now I’m just not loving the white enough to rework it.

The Vogue 1378 pleather leggings have had a couple of wears but aren’t a favourite. Odd because I have worn previous iterations of this pattern to pieces but this pair is too shiny. I’m hanging on to them though because a very warm and almost waterproof pair of slim trousers can be a useful thing to have in winter, and they don’t take up much space.

And finally the Burda 111 6/2021 twisty cardigan which I immediately cut into a non twisty tie front cardigan. I’ve worn it a couple of times but it needs warm weather and a day when I don’t mind dealing with the fussy ties. I doubt I’ll still have it this time next year.

Non-sewing highlights is the one I skip because this blog is strictly for dressmaking. But I can come up with some sewing-adjacent highlights: finally finding a use for the green wool coating that’s been in my stash since 2012; having an LED light strip for my main sewing machine – I really can’t recommend that enough; introducing a bit of colour into my grey and black wardrobe; getting a heavy duty snap press; discovering Claude Montana’s 80s patterns for Vogue which led me down a rabbit hole of fashion history.

On to reflections.

Advance planning my sewing in ‘wardrobes’ still works well for me; I thought I’d get tired of all the restrictions but in fact it’s been great to make things that are planned to go together. I sewed my way through an entire second wardrobe plan this year and many of the pieces became favourites.

I was unusually productive this year – 25 pieces in all, not all of them blogged – because I used a lot of fairly quick patterns, repeated a few, and didn’t make a coat. I doubt this particular trend will continue though. I like making new-to-me patterns and I really enjoy a complex project. And I’ve just started a lined coat which will require home made shoulder pads, so look for my next finished project round about the end of February.

My pattern stashing habits changed. I’ve always been a pattern collector, primarily Vogue and Burda magazines, but this year I didn’t buy a single Vogue pattern. I suspect the problem with Vogue is that they’ve almost completely stopped doing designer collaborations. What I loved was finding images of the original designer’s styling of the garment, which usually turn out a lot more appealing to me than the toned down version shown on the pattern envelope. I’m obviously still not good enough at seeing the potential of a garment from the envelope photo. I do have my eye on their recent men’s coat pattern for my husband but it’s yet to reach the UK distributor.

Burda abruptly stopped working for me round about the August issue, after a couple of years of being absolutely on fire. It was so sudden I wonder if they’ve had a change of designer. My subscription runs until the summer so I’m still getting the magazine and hoping this is a temporary thing.

I discovered a few great sewing blogs this year. But I’ve been pretty bad about commenting on Blogger blogs because every browser I can install on my phone simply fails to display Blogger’s captcha popups, and I cannot find a way around it; it’s so frustrating, especially as the sewing blog world is still shrinking rapidly. So thank you so much to everyone who blogs their sewing! I’ve been trying to use Instagram a bit more as it seems that’s where a lot of sewing bloggers have migrated to, but an Instagram post isn’t the same as a long form blog post.

And finally goals. I have a lot of those. I want to make up the 80s Vogue patterns I’ve collected; in particular 1476 from 1984 and 1071 from 1983.

Vintage Vogue 1476 envelope art, Pinterest
Vintage Vogue 1071 envelope art

I intend to carry on expanding my colour horizons by making some blue pieces which will hopefully work together. In fact I’ve already turned a length of stashed royal blue satin into a pair of fancy joggers and now I need to make a top that goes with them.

I want to keep the number of items in my fabric stash spreadsheet at or below the current total of 40. Having 40 lengths of fabric make it sound like I have a huge stash, but the majority are leftovers of less than a metre or lengths of lining fabric; there are only five or six pieces left that would make a complete adult garment. I need to find things to do with all those big scraps though, or rehome them.

And finally I want to carry on blogging regularly and discover new sewing blogs. Suggestions very welcome!

Happy new year all.

47 thoughts on “Review of 2021

  1. Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing your coat in February.
    I agree that something has changed with Burda, I have been buying less and less of them. They have always had a few repeats, but you would also get great coats or a complex dress. Everything seems a bit simple or shapeless now, relying on the fabric to make it unique.
    I have been going back through older issues for inspiration – yesterday I made a dress from 2016.
    I’m interested to hear some blog recommendations too. Especially ones that go in depth showing their techniques, like Beth at Sunnygal sewing, Manju (sewnanju) or Carolyn (handmadebycarolyn).

  2. Wonderful blog to begin 2022! Your future fashion choices..Claude Montana.. are perfect for you and I look forward to seeing them come to life. Reading your blog gives me such pleasure and is inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  3. One of my friends made changes to the Miyake coat to help with the front drag created by there being so much more fabric in the front than in the back. She lengthened the back so it wasn’t so short and added a pleat for weight. Then she removed some of the width from the front drape to help again with the front weight and too much fabric there. A friend made it in white fleece, and everyone looked like marshmallows in it! The shirt in that pattern is great. Anyway, great blog and keep up the work.

  4. Happy New Year! I’m so glad you still blog; I enjoy reading about your makes! I think you should definitely do a green boiler suit, and I look forward to your coat reveal in February!! 🙂

  5. You’ve had a pretty good year1 I’m glad the planning has worked for you. I’m quite bad at planning…I do it to some extent but often my original plans fly out the window.
    And thanks for reading my blog. I’ve always read sewing blogs regularly and I try to blog regularly so as far as I’m concerned blogging isn’t dead yet

  6. I’m glad you will keep blogging. You have the height to carry off V1476. I tried making the coat years ago and never finished it. It overwhelmed me. It needs so much fabric I was able to remake it into a more suitable design for me. The CM dress looks interesting. The belted illustration looks so different from the live version.

    1. Yes, one thing which worries me a bit about the coat is that there is almost no scope for making adjustments because of the way it’s constructed. Definitely trying it out in an inexpensive fabric first.

      I think the Montana dress needs a belt and I’ve got the perfect 80s belt pattern from an ancient issue of Burda 🙂

  7. Happy New Year to you! Love your “wins” this year.

    I’ve been getting Burda for awhile and, honestly, I should probably stop — haven’t made up a single thing. The simple patterns I like are pretty close to what Vogue has, and Vogue is so much easier to cut out.

    1. Oh that’s so true. I trace Vogues but I’m always amazed by how quick they are to do because I don’t have to add seam allowance. And the older ones are one size which makes it even easier.

  8. looking great missus! I’m hoping to get back to sewing and blogging asap, but my eyesight is now so bad the optometrist has referred me to a private clinic for cataract treatment. eek

  9. I appreciated your comment about sewing blogs! It spurred me to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed yours! Thanks for sharing your makes and thoughts!! Happy New Year!

    1. So glad to know you’re going to continue blogging. I have made the shirt from V1476 many times. It’s a winner for sure. I have the coat cut out. It’s been waiting for me to tackle it for a very long time. Working up to it. Maybe I’ll make it this year. Love to see yours when you make it.

      1. I keep hearing good things about the shirt! I am also wondering about making the trousers. My copy of the pattern has a printing error which means most of the instructions for them are missing (page 4 is missing and there is a second copy of page 2 instead) so the pocket construction is completely unclear to me and will definitely need a trial run. I like the illustration but haven’t found any pictures of them made up.

      2. I hacked the pants pattern into a skirt years ago. The only tricky part of the pocket is the top corners from what I remember. It on my blog.

  10. Happy new year! I always find your posts so inspiring and educational. Instagram just isn’t the same – more surface, less substance, and good luck finding older posts!

  11. Happy New Year sewing friend! I look forward to your posts and what you make! I like your goals and I wish my stash was a small as yours (did some depression shopping a few years back…). I find myself wanting to make all my old Vogue designers too.

  12. I’m a new follower–I found your blog right after you posted the Leia dress and started following you because your post was so funny! Wishing you many productive moments in your sewing room in 2022!

  13. Re the LED lights–your blog is where I learned such a thing even existed. I got them and LOVE them as my Bernina is old (1987?) and the light is quite dim. So thank you!

  14. Love your two outfits. That Burda jacket pattern is very tempting as I also have that issue. Will be very interested to see how the Claude Montana pattern comes out. I so much like the ochre dress and this has a similar vibe. Also, I notice that the drawing and the model look somehow quite different. Perhaps it is the fabric and the fact that I’m sure the model has huge shoulder pads!

    Do keep on blogging! It is amazing how much my readership has grown recently and I expect you might have noticed the same. I certainly come here, to this blog, as I appreciate all the details and not just an Insta-friendly pic!

  15. I love the annual wrap up posts – it’s good to be able to read reflections on things from the past year and it’s always exciting to see what people have planned for the upcoming year. Happy New Year and best wishes in 2022!

  16. Thanks for your recap, I’ve enjoyed seeing your makes so much. I’m looking forward to seeing that Issey Miyake come into being, I’ve been eyeing that one for decades and kind of wish I’d bought it back in the day. I love blogging and came to it later than many and I’m sad that there are fewer all the time. I’m happy that yours will still be going. Happy New Year!

  17. Happy New Year! Investors made the Miyake. Oat in a wonderful wool coating fabric and wear it every fall (not warm enough for winter where I live now). I really love it. The instructions are spot on. Having said that, the inside seams are visible and need tp be treated in this way. I made this coat decades ago and hadn’t thought that part through. Required some hand sewing to clean up the shoulder seam. I sometimes wear it closed up with a giant pin, making it quite warm as the fronts are doubled up. I think you will want to leave the pockets off until it is done so that you can place these in the best spot. Looking forward to seeing your rendition. Abbey

  18. I love reading sewing blogs, and you’ve persuaded me that I really should find the time to start posting again. I love the way you plan outfits. Perhaps I’ll give that a go this year…

  19. Catherine, a couple thoughts. I am so glad you keep blogging, I prefer reading blog posts about sewing. The Claude Montana patterns are perfect for you! I may still have a couple (I sold many patterns before a second move in the 90’s. including Miyake). I’d be happy to send them to you. I have the Miyake coat/pants/shirt pattern. If it has no errors I can copy the missing instructions and email or snail mail them to you. You may like some of the old Perry Ellis for Vogue Patterns, check out a couple of Geoffrey Beane’s…great coats and a nice challenge. The 70’s-80’s-90’s were great for designer sportswear patterns. Calvin Klein, Donna Karan/DKNY, Perry Ellis, Claude Montana, Isaac Mizrahi, Anne Klein (Designed by Louis dell’Olio and a very young Donna Karan later on), Guy LaRoche, Kaspar, Adri, Jean Payout, Jerry Silverman, Ralph Lauren, Miyake, Balmain, Dior, Nina Ricci, Bill Blass, Lanvin and so many more. Now there’s only a dozen or so and it doesn’t seem like any new additions, just those with contracts. Something Delightful (how I hate that name) doesn’t seem to know what to do with a massive pattern company since they primarily made wrapping paper/ribbons. When McCalls plant in Kansas City shut down, it took the printing business away from the many small/indie pattern makers. They printed patterns, instructions and folded them for small companies for many years…so sad. I don’t imagine S.D. will hold on to the patterns for long, they will either try to sell or just run it into the ground. The latest non-Vogues looked like they copied everything from Princess Diana’s closet before the divorce. Shirtwaist, full skirted, puffy sleeves, big collars….ugh! This is way too long, let me know if you need the instructions, it’s a great shirt that will look great on you, pants too! Oh, do you follow Sarahjw70 on IG? She sews old Miyake pattern frequently. Incredible talent!

    1. Oh that’s so very kind of you, thanks! It’s such a shame what’s happened to Vogue. I know companies come and go, but it does feel like something unique is being lost.

  20. I took photos of the pant instructions, do you need the shirt ,too? My instructions are printed as 1-2, 3-4, 5. I know they changed slightly over the years this was in print. It was a big seller for many years. Just send me your email address and I can get them sent. Don’t print it here if you don’t want to, send it to me at

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