Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 5 Everything 2014

Hello all, and I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas season, with plenty of decadent leftovers to enjoy in the time since. :)

Thank you everyone who left such lovely comments on my last Francoise post; I appreciate your kindness very much. Thank you too to all who voted for me in the competition - because of you I was actually one of the runners up (runner ups??) which was an enormous thrill!

The end of the year means it's time for Gillian's:

End of year evaluations are one of those "it'd be great to" things that I think of and promptly forget to do unless reminded, so thanks Gillian for the impetus!

I have a bit of a backlog of unblogged makes, so I'm going to keep this as one, hopefully not too lengthy post. I may or may not keep to the '5' guideline. So....

I kept a record all year of the number of times each item was worn, which was quite an enlightening exercise.  I've largely gone by this in determining this year's hit list,

  • This is a bit of a cheat, but I'm grouping together the basics as one Hit. These definitely got worn the most - perhaps unsurprisingly. They're not particularly exciting to sew, still less to blog about, but I've found it really satisfying to sew the wardrobe building blocks like these. 

Just a selection here, from top left: Plantain tee (Deer and Doe) & Wallis leggings (Style Arc), Rowe top (Style Arc), Rowe top & Hudson Pants (True Bias), and two Kirstens (Maria Denmark). I reach for these (and their like) over and over again. HIT.

  • Black floral skirt (New Look):

Love it. And I do wear more than black with it... One of my favourite things about this is that I can wear it all year round. In summer with a singlet, in winter with a jumper and tights/boots, and a chambray shirt anywhere in between. HIT.

  • Refashioned floral blouse:

This just makes me happy every time I wear it. It's comfortable, feels lovely on, breathes, and never needs fussing with or adjusting. Perfect summer blouse. HIT.

  • Cobalt stripe jumper

Even though cobalt is not one of my better colours, I think it works here being tempered by the grey. I love the stitch pattern and the fit, although being a cotton yarn, it does tend to grow after a few wears. (Quick hand wash and all's restored though). Plus, it's one of my husband's favourites of anything I've made. HIT.

  • Willow Pants (Style Arc)

I confess, I'm a little torn about these. I love the pattern, and I think I got the fit sorted out fairly well. But it wasn't an ideal fabric choice - cotton sateen just doesn't have  the 'weight' for them. By the end of the day they have relaxed a little too much to look good (jodhpurs, anyone?) but because I do love the print and because I MADE TROUSERS, I'm affording them a special mention on this year's list. PARTIAL HIT.

  • Antoinette silk pants (Style Arc)

A late make, these, so we'll disregard the number-of-times-worn list. I ADORE THESE PANTS. I feel great whenever I wear them. Love, love, love. HIT.

I like that Gillian uses the word 'misses' rather than 'fails', because I don't think there's anything I made this year that I didn't learn something from, even if the garment wasn't wholly successful. So these are the makes that ,while ok, just missed the mark in some way. I'm becoming less tolerant of ill-fit, wrong colour or fabric, which I think is a good thing.

  • yellow jeans

This are a miss on three counts. 
1) I was trying to experiment with natural dyes rather than chemical ones, and gave up half way through and used a commercial packet one.
2) As much as I love the colour, I've realised I love it more on other people. These just feel way too bright for me. hence
3) I never wear them

  • Safari chambray shirt (Style Arc)

I'm a bit loath to include this here, because in terms of workmanship this is probably one of the best things I've made. But there are just too many things that bother me about it for me to enjoy wearing it out of the house. It's a bit too oversized (my arms by my side in the pic are keeping the volume under control), the pockets feel too big, the shoulders are too wide and the tabs to hold the rolled up sleeves in place are too low. For around the house or gardening it's wonderful. But it really didn't fulfil the intention it was made for - a go with everything, wear all the time shirt. I've since bought a chambray one that absolutely fulfills those requirements (first RTW besides underwear in two years), so problem solved there, but there's a vague aura of regret that pervades this shirt. For that reason, MISS.

  •  Drape Drape 2 top

It's ok. It was fun to make - such a completely counterintuitive pattern - and I feel a little glow of satisfaction at my chevron matching at the back. But, I haaaate having to fiddle and fuss with my clothes when I'm wearing them, and that's all I ever seem to do when I wear this. It creeps and bunches and rides up, and somehow the sleeves manage to be too long and too short at the same time. Life's too short for high-maintenance short, MISS

  • Scalloped chambray shorts (Pattern Runway)

Yes, I love chambray. Yes, I sewed welt pockets. Yes, they're comfortable. But that's no excuse for a garment that's at least two sizes too big. Time to admit it. MISS.

  • Willow Pants (Style Arc)

Everything that bothers me about the printed Willow Pants is present in this pair, and there's no redeeming print. MISS.


  • Last year's goal list was far too ambitious. And I didn't take into account the fact that I'd be sewing for the school production for a third of the year. Now I like a challenge, but my goal list very quickly became an oppression and a reproach. Sewing is a hobby and a creative outlet. I'm not going to let it morph into anything else again.
  • That being said, one particular goal - becoming comfortable with sewing knits - is well and truly met. See 'basics' above!
  • I think I'm becoming more aware of what suits me - my figure has changed over the last few years from the straight-up-and-down column it used to be and it's taken a little while to work out what looks best now.
  • Something that's been extremely helpful in wardrobe building has been researching seasonal colour analysis. At the risk of sounding a little bit Bridget Jones' mother-ish, I had the Colour Me Beautiful thing done in my teens and was labelled a Summer pretty much by default - most warm colours made me look ill and bright colours wore me. But it never really sat comfortably - I don't really like pastels and always felt a bit washed out wearing them. Trinny and Susannah's 'Muted Brights' category felt a bit closer, but still didn't quite hit the mark. Then recently I discovered that some clever soul has broken down the seasons into three sub-categories, and I had my eureka! moment. This kind of seasonal analysis is far more constructive. Soft Summer, a palette of richer, muted cooler colours is perfect. It doesn't wash me out or overwhelm me. It complements the fact that my colouring is low contrast, rather than dramatic, And it showed how the 'sister' seasons can flow into each other, which explains why there are some warmer 'Autumn' colours that I can wear successfully, provided I get the combination right. Very, very helpful! If you're interested, this was a really good site for determining which you are, but just googling 'seasonal colour analysis' brings up a wealth of sites. I quite liked the site 12 Steps too - she writes rather poetically - although it's specifically make up based and I found it a bit hard to find my way around the site (best to google 'soft summer (or whatever you are) make up palette' and get to it that way). In any case, I'm finding fabric buying is a much more effective and satisfying experience. 


I have to confess, I'm feeling much less goal oriented this year. It's been a very challenging year in several ways and the fact is I'm pretty worn out. I feel like I need to go gently with myself for a while, to be less driven to tick items off a master list. I usually try to have a "focus" word for a year, and for 2015 "refresh" sits well. Most days off I've had this year have involved sewing and I think I need to make space in 2015 for other things that refresh me; walking, reading, praying, swimming, cooking, gardening, and so on. Next year I think I'd prefer to make fewer items really well, than churn out several mediocre ones. I've spent two years trying to build up a handmade wardrobe and I'm at the stage now where most days (5-6 a week) I can wear something I've made , and by preference, not just for the sake of it. I'm ready to slow down a bit.

That being said, two things I would like to do next year - or at least make a start on - are learning to spin, and learning how to make underwear. I think that's a much less pressurised and more achievable list than last year! In fact, I'm pretty sure both those things were on last list; they just got crowded out by all the rest. Funny really, because those are the ones that interest me most...

How about you? What has 2014 taught you? And has it influenced your approach to 2015?


  1. A very thoughtful roundup indeed. It's been a draining year for so many.... I think your 2015 goals are fabulously low key! It's great to get to that point where more in the wardrobe is self made than not, I think it does (at least for me) help me to be able to slow down and not feel I must make all the things asap. So interesting to read about your 'colours'! My bestie and I have joked for a while that we must get it done... Have a super New Years eve and I hope that your year is just what you need it to be (sans school production..... Have they thought about doing some sort of toga based production... Nice and easy to sew) xx

    1. Oh, I may just have to pass that suggestion along! Genius.... :)

  2. Great round up and again I love your basics! Love your idea of “refresh” and I'm envious of your being able to wear so often something you’ve made and … set goals for yourself - this second part I will never manage - on the first part I’m working ;)

    1. And you're doing an amazing job! As for my goals, I'm not sure they could be much less ambitious!

  3. Great round up and I envy your wardrobe of basics! I think it's very important to know what colors look best on us. Why put in the time and effort to make something when the color is awful... I love your black floral versatile!!! And cute.

    1. Thank you! You have to love a genuine multi-tasker, huh! The whole colours thing has been a revelation to me - albeit a fairly obvious in hindsight one. And explains why I never feel comfortable in an otherwise lovely wool coat I made. Maybe I'll do a dye experiment...

  4. Great round up! It sounds like you have definitely cracked knits. Well done for that. And I love those silk pants - think I might have missed a post there as I'm sure I would have remembered reading about them before. I have also completely missed your Francoise post, so I haven't voted for you. I actually feel like I've let you down!!! Sorry. :( Well done for making the runners up list though!!!

    Having had the December I've just had, I can absolutely relate to your aim to slow down and "refresh", and I like the idea of concentrating on fewer, better made garments. I haven't yet spent any time thinking about my goals for 2015, other than working through my pile of long overdue makes, and working through my stash, which is not large (relatively), but is starting to feel oppressive.

    And PS, I hope your son's foot is ok!!! X

    1. Ok, I did see your Francoise dress - how did I forget that dress, it's so beautiful!!! But I totally missed the voting bit. Sorry! X

    2. No apology needed at all! I deliberately didn't do a "I've been shortlisted, please vote for me" post, because I didn't want anyone to vote out of any sense of 'obligation' :D If something wins, it should be out of merit!

  5. Amazing that you now wear a mainly handmade wardrobe of clothes. Enjoy the slower pace of sewing next year.

  6. Thanks for sharing your lists. Overall, it looks like you've had a great year. Happy 2015!

    1. And to you! Here's to satisfying sewing, in whatever form it may take :)