Sewing top fives: goals

Last of the Sewing Top Fives of 2020: goals. I didn’t complete most of last year’s goals, so I’m setting the bar low for 2021.

I want to complete my sewing with a plan wardrobe. This should be achievable. There are three more garments to go. I already have fabric for the last pair of trousers, and I have the fabric and have even traced the pattern for the white blouse. The third piece is a simple Burda top that I’m having some doubts about now I’ve read a few reviews of it. I may replace that pattern with something else.

However I think I may have to make an extra wardrobe piece to replace the black blouse that didn’t fit. I’ve got a fairly basic Burda shirt pattern lined up for that. So maybe it’s four more pieces. That should take me until April or May. After that, all bets are off. I’m hoping the world will look quite different by then, and who knows what I’ll feel like sewing.

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.

Sewing top fives: misses

This is my favourite part of the Sewing Top Fives blog series: the failures. There’s much more to say about the projects that didn’t work than the ones that did. When I went through my projects for the year I found three that didn’t work out. Which is one less than 2019, so that’s progress.

I’d completely forgotten this Burda dress, from my long abandoned attempt to sew my way through my Burda wishlist. It looks all right on the dress form but the fit was horrible. No prizes for guessing why there are no photos of it on me.

I chose the wrong fabric for the pattern, made some misguided experimental fit adjustments, and added pockets in a bad place. A sad waste of nice fabric. I still occasionally hanker after the dress that inspired the project though: Luv’s fitted white dress from Blade Runner 2049. I was intending to use this pattern as a base to reproduce it once I’d worked the bugs out. One day perhaps, but definitely with a different pattern as the starting point.

The next one seemed like a success at the time I finished it, and I still like the way it looks in photos. But sadly it’s so low cut and boxy that it’s only suitable for lounging; anything involving movement, never mind bending over, is extremely dicey. I wore it to take my son to the playground once. Never again. I haven’t thrown it out because I cling to the hope that I might one day have a lifestyle where I can wear it; that or I find some magical underpinning for it that I don’t mind people seeing.

The last one should look familiar because I only posted this blouse two weeks ago. The fit is definitely not right; odd because I’ve been sewing Vogue for years and I thought I had a good handle on how their block fits me. Maybe this one’s just a bit unusual. Anyway I haven’t decided what to do with it yet; probably wear it less done up but with a camisole underneath. I can’t face setting those sleeves again to try to fix the pulling.

Interestingly my historic failures are predominately down to poor fabric choice, but this year it’s been more of a mixture. Not sure if that means I’ve gone forward or back, not that it would be statistically significant anyway.

Sewing top fives: hits

I’m continuing to sew my way through my wardrobe plan. And this week all I’ve got to show is a pile of black linen pieces that’s supposed to become a shirt eventually. I can barely see to sew it, let alone photograph it. So the appearance of the Sewcialists’ annual Top Five blog series is a welcome distraction.

The first prompt is Hits: the best or most worn things you’ve made this year. I don’t think mine are exactly either: they’re the things that make me feel good every time I wear them.

First up is Burda 121 04/2020. This is a very unusually drafted top – the front and back pattern pieces are identical – that I made more on a whim than anything. It was a quick sew and used up some fabric that had been sitting in my stash for years. I wasn’t expecting to wear it much. And yet I find myself reaching for it frequently. Even in winter I’m still wearing it over a long sleeved t shirt.

Keeping the casual theme, my silver drawstring trousers have also been a winner. I made them at a point where weight fluctuations meant most of my existing clothes didn’t fit. It felt so good to have something to wear that didn’t need constant adjusting. The pattern is a Ralph Rucci and has the incredible level of finishing you get on his designs. I didn’t sew all the fancy details it called for, but they still feel luxurious.

Next up more trousers: my Burda flared jeans. These were another slightly experimental project. The shape came out very exaggerated; I was slightly concerned I might look like I’m on my way to a 70s fancy dress party. But it turned out that I love them. It’s not just the style but the fabric (Empress Mills 7.5oz premium denim) which is nicely black, has just the right amount of stretch, and amazing recovery. No baggy knees here.

The next one appears much less practical: my Burda pleated culottes. Admittedly they aren’t something to wear if it’s raining as they turn into a heavy damp mess. But on a dry day they’re a lot of fun. I like the fact that the style mixes femininity and toughness.

But last and best is my silver quilted coat. Yes it’s the same fabric as the drawstring trousers. And I have on occasion accidentally left the house wearing both together. But this gets worn most days so that’s not surprising. It’s not waterproof but is thick enough to cope with ordinary rain, and it’s very warm. The colour’s good for visibility after dark too.

So that’s it for my top five hits: next up are the misses.