Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 #SewingTop5 Hits and Misses

It's that time of year: wrap-ups, top 5 lists, top 9 lists, make 9 lists, best of lists, worst of lists... lots of thoughtfulness, a bit of navel gazing, and some fun rounds-ups!

I'm here with my annual navel gazing: I'm joining in Gillian's #sewingTop5 again, for the fifth year running (!!). You can see my previous posts here: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017... as usual, I probably won't stick the exact format of the challenge, but rather I'll just be inspired by it.

Here's a summary of what I made this year, in pie chart form (sorry it's a little blurry- I think if you click on it you can see it a bit clearer). I used what I blogged as the source of this data, so it doesn't count a few things here and there that didn't get blogged, as well as some pattern tests that were made from muslin or immediately binned. 86 garments total... most stuff was sewn for me (about 70%), with 30% for other people. Tim was the big winner of that 30%, clocking in 13 garments for about 15% of the total items sewn.

For me, 2018 was a year of coming back to terms with working full time and trying to fit in all the sewing I wanted to do! I started a new job back in January and found my sewing time significantly reduced from when I was consulting/working from home. And yet it took me a while to wrap my head around the concept of not saying yes to every single sewing opportunity to come my way, no matter how fun.

With that, let's start with some of my sewing goals for 2019.


1. Don't say yes to everything. Be selective, consider time constraints and existing plans and obligations. Honestly, this doesn't really apply only to my sewing life, but my personal and work lives as well.

2.  Finish those damn jeans. And that lined coat. And that bra. I have started all of these projects, and had already promised myself I would finish them in fall of 2018, but then my bad habit of saying yes to new projects (see #1) derailed those plans.

3. Sew more for other people. I've got lots of projects planned for friends and family that similarly get derailed by pattern testing, etc., and sometimes by indecision. Just do it, McCarthy.

4. Update Cora fabric stash app. Back when I was in Bangkok, I did a major push to get all of my stash fabric measured and cataloged in the Cora app. However, I've been super lax about entering new fabrics in and it's driving me mad not to have that info at the tips of my fingers when I am day dreaming about what to make... gotta enter everything I have and update the app to account for pieces I've used!


In no particular order, here are my hits from 2018! You'll notice my choices are very different from my Best 9 on Instragram, as voted by folks following me. Those projects are mainly more frosting-y pieces, with a few technique shots thrown in. My hit choices tend towards the more practical: what do I reach for on a daily basis and feel most comfortable in?i

1. Concord t-shirt dresses: I made two versions of the Cashmerette Concord t-shirt lengthened into a dress (here and here) and they have been just perfect for my work/life situation here in Vermont. Dressy-ish, but not overdressed, comfortable yet body skimming. I love the fabrics I chose for both of them (quilted knit from Joann and double knit from Fabric Mart) and am just generally delighted with both versions!

2. Linen shirts: These two linen shirts I made this year are both favorite of mine. I just love linen, and I am so happy with the traditional (Liesel and Co Classic Shirt) and non-traditional (Closet Case Kalle) buttondowns I made from the designer linen from Fabric Mart.

3. Jenny Trousers and Pembroke Tunic: these two all-black garments are not particularly exciting, but they both have already turned out to be wardrobe staples. The wool gabardine Closet Case Patterns Jenny trousers fit fabulously, and the Cashmerette Pembroke tunic is so cozy!

4. Hvar Jackets: I feel great in these two Hvar jackets from Itch to Stitch. I particularly love the Brussels Washer Linen version because of the color and the finishing techniques I used, but the plaid one is great, too!

5. McCall's 6044: This pattern has made my top 5 several times in the past 5 years. I've made Tim so many successful versions of this TNT buttondown shirt, and I don't imagine I'll stop anytime soon. Favorites from this year are definitely the pincord version with the contrast stitching and the blue plaid seersucker version. But also the brick red one, and the two batik versions. I can't choose- I love them all!


Something about the combination of pattern, fabric, and fit in these projects just didn't work for me. Sometimes I knew it right away, but sometimes it took several wears before realizing these weren't in the win column.

1. Hot Patterns Metropolitan Chimera Jacket - I so wanted this to be my go-to jacket, but I don't love how it hangs and how the collar flops about. I tried wearing it, but didn't really like it at all. 

2. Sew DIY Lou Box Top - The fit on this one was just off for me. It turned out huge! It was fun to play with the button back technique, but I don't like the final garment.

3.  Closet Case Sasha Trousers - The fit on these was just not where I want it to be. I need to work on these pants fitting issues and make a more attractive pair!

4. Helen's Closet York Pinafore - Turns out this is just not my style. I tried to wear it a couple times and it didn't feel like me. And that's ok. I do like it, however, as an apron, so I'm planning to make a couple York Aprons!


1. Meeting other Sewcialists! I crashed not one, but two Canadian sewing events this year (the Montreal Love to Sew meet-up and Ottawa Frocktails) and was lucky enough to meet long-time internet friends (Gillian!!) as well as a million new, creative, intelligent and friendly folks. So much fun. Plus I've some folks have connected via #VermontSews, though there aren't many of us and we seem to be spread out through the state. Thanks to Miriam for convincing me to cross international borders for the Montreal meet-up, and to Gillian for daring me, in true Gillian fashion, to cross the border yet again for the Frocktails fun!

2. Teaching sewing classes! I have taught several beginner sewing class this year and I found them really rewarding- nothing like the proud face or exclamations of "oh my god, oh my god" when someone finishes their first self-made garment!

First, I taught two sets of 10 Somali Bantu women the basics of sewing as part of a joint effort between the Generator makerspace and the financial futures program at Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (read a bit about it here). I'll be honest: I was way over my head with these two sets of classes. New to sewing instruction, language barriers, not great teacher-student ratios... it was a lot. But really fun, too.

I also taught several beginner garment sewing classes at Generator, and had several repeat students, so I am feeling happy about those as well . It was a struggle to find patterns that would work for the class for both men and women since the membership at Generator is mostly men, but I found some things that worked (pajama pants, raglan t-shirts). Next year I have a few skills-based classes (rather than project-based) on the calendar- I'll teach zippers and shirtmaking techniques. Fingers crossed! 

A good year in sewing! Can't wait to see what 2019 brings. Thanks for reading and for being such an inspiring, supportive and whip smart group of people!