Friday, 28 December 2012

2012: Top 5 Hits and Misses

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's top 5 lists of 2012. I've decided to join in using a similar format. Thank you to Gillian at Crafting A Rainbow for the idea.

Review of 2012 makes

I took my review very seriously (tee hee, I'm a bit of a geek). With virtual clipboard in hand, I listed all my 2012 makes and posed the following questions for each:

  • Number of times worn
  • Love (score 1 to 10)
  • Hate (score 1 to 10)

I completed 17 garments in 2012. I'm actually surprised the number is so high. I spent a lot of time making muslins and working on fit resulting in large gaps between blog posts. I balanced things out a bit with easier makes such as the Burda Tops and the Picnic Blanket skirt.

One interesting discovery is that my third question was redundant. I didn't hate any of my makes (or score them 5 or less). This could be due to a number of things:
  • Making muslins. Although I haven't achieved a perfect fit on anything (and I'm not sure there is such a thing) my preparation work seems to have paid off. The less worn items this year have been where the fit is not quite right.

  • Lining where lining is required.

  • Veering towards the “cake” rather than “frosting” side of things. An example is my Minoru Jacket. I used plain old black even on the zip and topstitching. As much as I loved seeing bright colours and quirky fabrics on others, I knew that this would limit wearability. With something like a jacket, I don't want to limit this.
Review of patterns and garments

I used Sewaholic patterns the most, completing six garments in all. Next up was Megan Nielsen with four makes. I made two garments each from Colette patterns and Burda magazine.

Obviously I'm not a “big 4” girl yet! I've nothing against the big 4. It's more that I've only made a limited number of garments and these lovely independents are prolific in the on-line blogging world. As a direct result, I bought a lot of their patterns in 2011 and earlier this year. It's not really surprising they account for a lot of my makes.

Looking forward to next year, while I don't have any concrete plans, I have plenty of patterns and books to use. You might be seeing makes from my sewing books in the coming year (ie Gertie, Burdastyle and Colette). I might crack open Burda magazine again.

I have the Colette Beignet which I will get around to at some point. (Those buttons don't scare me any more – 2012 was the year of the button for me!) I have the Colette Violet, bought in 2011, but at present have no plans to make it. I bought some “Big 4” patterns back in 2010 when I started sewing so it might be time to start some of those. Also I have a big stack of vintage patterns from auctions, some of which I would like to try.

I also have a perfectly fitting ready to wear summer dress, bought years ago, that I've been thinking of copying. This is something I'd like to try, maybe in 2013.

As to categories of makes, the dresses take the top spot. I made 7 this year. Next up were 6 tops, 3 skirts and 1 jacket. I think this is a fairly good mix and I've certainly worn all my makes. There haven't been any areas where I've felt my wardrobe is lacking.  (I don't wear trousers or jeans that much so I don't see the lack of those items as a gap!) Mainly I'm sewing for fun now.

My Top 5

I've cheated a bit and included 6. All of these items scored a 10 from me and it's not fair to leave one out.

I haven't listed my hits in any order but if I were to pick one favourite, this would be it. I love everything about this jacket and wearing it makes me smile. What can I say about this jacket? Tasia has made such a unique pattern. This is my first jacket and Tasia really does prove that anyone can make a jacket.

These are the best photos of the year as well, taken by my lovely chap.  It was the hottest day of the year that day - I was sweltering in that coat! We sneaked into a farmer's field.  We noticed the next day that the bales of hay were gone so we got there in time!

A surprise hit for me this summer. I discovered it also makes great winter wear, worn with black tights and a black / dark fitted jumper. In fact I might even prefer the winter look!

This isn't my usual silhouette and I would normally avoid gathers at the waist. I think it helped that I kept the skirt flat at the sides rather than gathered to reduce the width. Sewing has allowed me to venture into areas that I might not have considered. Another example of this is the Crescent skirt. When the pattern came out I never dreamed the style would work on me. My 3 Crescent skirts (from 2011) get worn all the time in the summer. I'm a bit sad that I haven't got round to making a winter Crescent yet.

This gets worn all the time, but as work wear, with a fitted navy suit. The drape of the top is perfect. Next time I will remove those damn facings and just have the bias binding though.

This is another one that gets worn all the time. I wear it with my denim skirts, my Miss Chalmers' skirts, my pencil skirt, and … well all my skirts! I don't know if the weight of the fabric helps with the versatility. It's a very fine knit, with a good drape.

This is a recent make and so has only just made it onto the list. I wore it on Christmas Day and I know that it's going to get worn a lot. The dress is so comfortable and can be dressed down with a cardigan or dressed up on it's own. It's nice to have a dress without a zip and I think this adds a lot to the comfort factor!

Another recent make that has shot straight into the top 5. I haven't yet worn it but it will get worn a lot. I'm really proud of the finish on this one and that the fabric choice and drape is spot on!

Top 5: the Misses

As explained above, there were no horrible misses or fails in 2012. All of these items are still in my wardrobe and I'll continue to wear them. What you're seeing here are the makes that haven't scored as highly and the reasons why this might be.

I've worn this a lot. I love the shape, the lining and the fabric I used. This has scored low purely because of the fit. It's too tight around the bust and I should have lowered the midriff band as well. I even made a muslin for this one. The muslin fabric I used had a bit of stretch so maybe the fitting issues didn't show up. I don't have any plans to make the dress again.

I'm wondering now why I scored this so low. I've worn it a lot this year, both for work and as casual wear. The light colour goes well with brightly coloured cardigans and tops. I guess the only reason it has scored low is the waistband. I made it too wide (rather than a slim waistband), and the waistband didn't fit well. I have to hide the waistband with the tops that I wear. I love everything else about the skirt though, particularly the lining. I also enjoyed making the lined vent.

Again I wear this a fair bit. I finished it well and my boyfriend was recently surprised that this was something I made as it looks shop brought! The knit fabric I used is not as good as the fine knit I used in my first version. The main problem is the bottom of the sleeves and the cuffs. I'm now sure how it happened but I ended up making the sleeves too short and so I had to make longer cuffs. The bottom of the sleeves are too wide and need to be taken in. There is too much gathering of the sleeve into the cuff. Apart from the sleeves I like this top but the issues with the sleeves were enough to give this a low score.

Red and Black Macaron

I appreciate my “fail” list may not be “fail-ey” enough for some people. I do love this dress even if I have scored it low. The fabric I had in my stash works well and the lining makes it extra special. I love the Macaron shape and the design elements like the pleated skirt, the petal sleeves and the sweetheart bodice. I haven't worn it much, perhaps 3 or 4 times? The reasons for the low score, and why it's not reached for more often, are:

1. The shoulders are too tight. I noticed this with the Darling Ranges bodice as well – the shoulders are very narrow. I don't know why I didn't notice this at the muslin stage as this is a very easy fix.

2. The waistband. Aaaarrghhhh! I still shudder at the problems I had with the waistband. I couldn't get the original one to match the bodice properly. I'm sure this was a fault in the pattern. I even emailed Sarai about this but she said she checked her original drafts and couldn't see anything wrong with the pattern. I drafted my own waistband in the end. I kind of fudged it and so the dress consequently doesn't have that polished look. Even if no-one else can notice the slightly dodgy waistband – I can! A bit like the waistband on my pencil skirt. I don't yet have the skills for pattern drafting and my drafting fudges have dragged down both of these makes.

3. It's not easy to get on and off, exacerbated (or perhaps caused) by the shoulder issues.

4. It's not cardigan friendly. This may just be that I don't have a matching cardigan – I think I would need black. It may also be that the sleeves make a cardigan uncomfortable. I do think this is the sort of dress that looks best on its own. I wouldn't hesitate to wear it to a drinks party – it's fine for standing in a warm room, holding a glass and chatting! Unfortunately I don't get to do that very often. It's a winter dress and so if it can't get worn with a cardigan then it's wearability is limited.

Again I like this and I wore it a lot in the summer. It's also cardigan friendly. The reasons for the low score are:

  1. The skirt is not quite right. See in the front where it looks like a pleat? I don't know how to fix that. I probably need to move remove some of that excess from the pattern pieces.
  1. I should have given the straps a sloping shoulder adjustment or something so they sit flat on my shoulders. As it is the straps stick out where my shoulders slope down, made more obvious by the width of the straps.

  2. I didn't use a great quality fabric. I was attracted mainly to the stripes. The fabric is a bit stiff but more importantly it frays like hell. So much so that part of the waistband has now worn away (as I used only a 1cm seam allowance). I do want to fix this so that I can wear it next summer. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it – perhaps interface where the fabric has frayed?

I really enjoyed putting together this post. I think it's good to be honest with your makes, recognise what hasn't worked and try to learn from the fails. Like most of you, I have precious little time to sew. I want to use my time productively to make more of the items that will be worn and loved.

One area I need to work on is not being afraid to give up! I've spent a lot of time on muslins this year. For some makes I've worked through multiple muslins (the Banksia, Darling Ranges, Macaron). While it may have been easier to give up on some of them, I worked on. On the whole I'm glad I did for all of them, particularly the Darling Ranges and Banksia patterns, and even the Macaron dress. Sometimes it's hard to give up when you've invested so much time in something. I will see if I can recognise more in the future when to give up on a project.

So with that we now move into 2013, which in my case will be the start of my third year of sewing. 



  1. I'm so glad you've been enjoying your Banksia and Darling Ranges!! Totally thrilled that they're in your 5 hits! yay!!! They really look great honey - can't wait to see what you make up next year :)

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. I totally love my Banksia and Darling Range and adore your designs. I can't wait to see your new designs next year!

  2. Oh, your hits really are hits, girl! And your misses wouldn't be misses in anyone else's world! I'm really excited to see what you make next year!

    1. Ah thank you! Ha ha - I guess not - more "picking holes in them" than misses! Still really useful lessons for next year though.

  3. Gosh if those are your misses than you are soo not seeing mine. haha, they all look amazing! I especially love that gold pencil skirt so I'm glad to hear you've worn it a lot. It looks so great with that pink shirt, it really brings out the colors of both and just looks really pretty. I've made that mistake with pencil skirts though too. It's hard because they're so form fitting so you really have to get the fit just right or else it feels like it doesn't fit. Just for the record though, it looks like it fits perfectly.

    1. Thanks Haylee! I'm so glad you like the pencil skirt! Yes I've hidden the problem with the waistband with the top. The pictures that show the waistband problem have been filtered away from the blog - ha ha! I was really pleased with the colour combination with the top - a pre- sewing purchase that I had only previously worn with a black skirt. Exactly right - I should have paid more attention to fitting the waistband with the countless muslins I did!

  4. My Cambie dress does the same thing and I have no idea how to fix it either! Argh....

    1. Annoying isn't it! I didn't notice it until it was finished!