Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sewing year in review 2015

Hi all and Happy New Year! I am not one for introspection when it comes to what I sew, nor am I a planner in any way. It constantly fascinates me to see all the list making this time of year as to what will be sewn. That is so not how I operate. Whatever whim or new pattern comes my way is mostly what I sew, with a few basics or a general thought about some theme - such as needing to tackle pants, or wanting a certain color jacket to round out my wardrobe.  I can say that the past few years I have not bought a lot of fabric at retail, whether in shops or online. Perhaps 50% of my fabric sewn is from things I bought as estate sales, sewing guild fabric sales or given to me. It is just so satisfying to rummage through the pieces of fabric and then take the challenge of whatever yardage length and then make it up into something I am thrilled to wear. The low investment generally increases the sewing satisfaction for my frugal side.

In fact some of my best things have been sewn with fabric from this very category. Which brings me to my exciting end-of-year news.

I won the Color Blocked Contest at Pattern Review. I'm so thrilled and Thank You to everyone who read my review and voted for my Tri-Color Coat. Here is the link to the post for this coat.

Contest win graphic

The prize is a $ 100 gift certificate to Mood Fabrics so now I have to choose something special. The first things that come to mind are the ever elusive pretty border print to make a special dress, or a substantial knit to make the perfect all-purpose travel blazer jacket that would look sharp and stand up to being scrunched in a travel bag. We shall see.

How about a little analysis to close out 2015?  As per the the last couple of years I have used Excel for good not evil (I first made the sewing pie charts for my 2013 sewing look back and I see them all over now - could I have started a trend or just absorb the idea from somewhere else?)

Starting with items sewn in 2015, a total of 30 items sewn for me or a friend/family member.

Garments sewn analysis 2015
I think this is fewer than previous years, and that is probably a good thing. I spend a LOT of time sewing the previous year and this year realized there were a few things neglected (garden - partially due to drought, and gym time - partially due to laziness) as well as other things I just wanted to do with my time. Plus closet space is becoming non-existent. I have a lot of stuff - most of it dear to me and not ready to be parted with. So sewing new things becomes a bit silly.

Also I surprised to see how many dresses I sewed - when I have so many already. I blame new pattern releases for the dresses - they look so pretty and fun to sew that I find at least one a season completely irresistible.

As for pattern brands, not a lot of news there. Well actually - Burda is tied with Vogue patterns if you count PDF magazine and envelope patterns. As a brand, Burda has really grown on me this past year and I think their coats are the best for all size ranges. I am still a fan of envelope patterns generally, and if a pattern has various items in the envelope, or variations on the item then I think even more highly of it. Such as a pattern with a jacket/skirt combo, or several variations on a top. I rarely buy a pattern that is just for one item. I think that is one reason why I rarely sew indie patterns as they are often just one item. This year I might try a few more.

Pattern Brands 2015

Another statistic that didn't merit a pie chart is Pattern Repeat:  fully 50% of my items sewn were from patterns I have used previously. Which I think is a lot - and probably will hold steady next year.
I just cut out a blouse this weekend from my trusty Simplicity shirt pattern (S2339 Amazing fit shirt pattern) which I have adjusted to have a hidden buttonhole placket (possible how-to if anyone is interested).  Hidden buttonhole plackets are a secret weapon on a silk blouse where you are a bit afraid of the quality of machine stitched buttonholes - especially on silk - and who is not?

Let's get down to the top 5 favorites of 2015. In no particular order. And I will add a number 6 favorite right here which is the Tri-Color coat, shown above. Which you might be sick of looking at now but I am not - pattern/fabric/color love and it is my absolute favorite thing I made all year!

I have linked to each original post so there are more photos and some construction details on each item there.

Plum wool shawl collar coat from Burda. I made this at the end of last winter and with our crazy climate wore it not at all. However once winter set in here I have worn it a LOT and it so warm and cozy. Because it is freezing here! At least to me. 42℉ in the morning as I was out shopping. Brrrr! for us Californians.  In fact yesterday I was doing some early morning post-holiday shopping/exchanging and in two different shops the saleswomen said " love your jacket, so pretty" or some variation on that. You know how gratifying for strangers to compliment our sewing. Or at least they don't know it is home sewn :) And I cannot resist saying "thank you, I made it" After all why not?

Burda Plum jacket front

Burda 6840 envelope pattern plaid blouse. This was a pattern purchase whim and it turned out to be fantastic. With a hidden buttonhole placket :)  and options for a bow neckline blouse which I might try one of these days. Fabric bought at a garage sale, super soft and vintage cotton plaid which is a dream to wear and saw regular rotation last winter.

shirt front

Vogue 8904 the Shingle dress, a pattern repeat, this time in ponte knit. This pattern was a favorite the first time I made it but I knew it would be better in a slightly beefier knit. I saw this fabric at Stone Mountain and knew it was exactly how I had envisioned this originally. It is so nice to find the exact fabric that you have in mind and make up something that is just perfect. I wore this a ton in the summer/fall and it will be worn again a lot come next spring.

Stripe dress edited

Next is another dress, made for wear on vacation, McCall's 6544 in blue cotton batik. You can't see in this photo but this is a vintage pattern from the 70's which has a lot of really cute details. And underscored my belief that a lot of modern patterns have simplified the construction so much that nice finishing details are lost, and the style suffers due to that.  Anyway - I love the color of this fabric and will be wearing this again when the weather heats up.

blue batik on me2

Another project where the fabric and style made a happy combination. The Alameda dress from Pauline Alice patterns.  I love this outfit and wore it as shown, with top and skirt, and then wore the skirt separately with a white top. Very fun skirt to wear with the flounce, and pockets! I think this skirt will be a pattern repeat for the upcoming year, it is calling to me for a denim version.  Pauline Alice makes really nice patterns, definitely my favorite of the independent pattern companies. This outfit uses another fabric I bought at Stone Mountain, not for a specific project but just because it was unusual and I liked the print.

Alameda 2-piece

Honorable Mention:  The Quart Coat, also from Pauline Alice Patterns that I made for my friend Jaime. More details and views on the post for this one. Another project where the choice of fabric I think made the garment really special. And caused many many minutes of checking and double checking when cutting and sewing. I do not recommend plaid for this coat unless you are really a wizard with plaid matching or enjoy tearing your hair out, ha ha. But in the end it worked out and I am so happy with it.

front collar open copy

So that is 2015, all done. Up next, I am sewing a silk blouse and probably no more coats for quite a while :)  Perhaps more pants in my future.

Plus I am ordering some new rose bushes so I really should turn my attention outside. But it is so chilly out there and so warm in my sewing room!

Thank you to everyone who reads and/or comments. I have said it the past few years but it always bears repeating, that meeting and getting to know other people who have a passion for sewing has been the very best part of writing a blog. It is so wonderful to have friends all around the world that share this interest and I know that while for the most part it is virtual but if we were to meet in person the feeling would be the same.

Happy New Year to you and happy sewing in 2016,


  1. Yay! Congratulations on your win. You make such beautiful clothes. It was fun to see your pictures and statistics. All the best to you in 2016!

  2. Happy New Year! I love your posts and the items you make - I voted for your coat and was so glad you won the PR competition. We've been unseasonably warm (and wet +++) here in the North of England - sounds like it's been warmer than California! I still have fuschia flowering in the garden and the ceanothus is flowering again way out of season. The ground is too wet to work on though - at least that's my excuse. We do need to get it sorted for my daughter's wedding in June - and I need to get back to sewing for that rather than procrastinating.

  3. Congratulations on your coat! I'm so glad you won--it is such a job well done!

    I would love to see your hidden buttonhole placket. Just a few pictures and a couple of tips would be highly appreciated. I don't think I'd be so bold to ask, but since you've mentioned it...

    And thanks for sharing so much on your blog. Your sewing is inspiring!

  4. Congratulations on your win! Who wouldn't be thrilled to shop at Mood for free? Thanks for your informative blog and beautiful sewing. Karen

  5. Congratulations!! You are one of my favorite bloggers because of your style and techniques.

  6. Congratulations! When you find the pattern for your travel blazer, please post. I have a lovely wool blend double knit waiting for such a jacket. Great blog post today; always an enjoyable and informative read.

  7. I don't often comment (spend too much checking blogs on my phone) but I have to say I love your blog - I always aspire to sew like you do, your coats especially I find so inspirational! And congrats on your win!

  8. Congratulations! I voted for your lovely coat.

    I've never sewn Pauline Alice but I have my eye on the new Rosari skirt, so I'm glad to hear you like them so much.

    Happy New Year!

  9. Happy new year and congratulations on the win - a fine way to end 2015. So many lovely makes there, your coats and jackets are all divine!

  10. Congratulations on the win...all of the coats you made look terrific, but I can certainly understand why the color-block coat is a favorite.

  11. Ooh, that shawl collar coat is so beautiful! The Quart coat is also one of my favorite things you've made this year- I love it so much!

  12. You make such beautiful things Beth! That last coat in particular is a stunner. I agree with you about Pauline Alice. Congratulations on your win, very well deserved!

  13. Happy New Year! And a great round up. I particularly like the plum jacket - so pretty.

  14. Oh, and congratulations on the win! The coat was well deserving of it.

  15. What a wonderful year you had, kinda jealous with all the sewing you had, I wish I could make one next year.

    Dressmaking Fabrics

  16. Congrats on winning PR ! I love your dresses & coats !

  17. Congratulations on your PR win! I love your year end review and can't wait for 2016's creations and inspirations!

  18. Congratulations! Your coat was the best garment in the contest for once! Well, at least in my opinion. A well deserved win.

  19. Congratulations on your well deserved contest win! I would love to see a tutorial for a hidden buttonhole placket, that is something I would love to learn to do.

    Wonderful year-end wrap up. Here's to 2016!

  20. Congrats on both winning the PR Color Blocked Contest (well deserved!!) and the quality of your sewn garments. Your top five are simply marvelous! Happy New Year, Beth!

  21. Congrats on your win in the colour block contest. That's one great coat. I was just scrolling through looking at this post again when I got to the shingle dress, my son (11-but with excellent taste) said "ooh! That's nice!". Trained well.

  22. Congrats on your win (well deserved) and these beautiful garments. I love them all. Happy New Year!