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.