Thursday, 15 December 2016

2016 reviews: my favourites

Review time! I had a bunch of options for post categories - favourite patterns, biggest accomplishments, stuff I learned, everything I've got rid of this year - and any or all of those could have some value. But I don't want to beat this thing to death, so I'm doing favourites, least favourites, and a 2017 resolutions post. I'm going to start with my favourites, listed chronologically so that I don't spend too much time trying to get everything in the exact right order. 

Cake Patterns Tiramisu Dress

Having said that, this Tiramisu is probably my overall favourite garment of the year. This is my go-to dress - there is nowhere I can't wear it. I've been to dance events, gin bars, family parties, swanky restaurants, hair appointments, supermarkets, and never have I been over or under dressed in this. And it's incredibly comfortable. This is the winning dress, right here. I was all set to buy a couple more patterns from Cake, but searching for reviews turned up way more negative feedback than positive, so I refrained. Shame. 

Cropped sweater from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

From the leftovers of my Tiramisu, I made this Gertie cropped sweater which is my most-worn item of the year, without a doubt. This is in large part due to the fabric - because it's grey and black it goes with almost everything else I own, but as it's also a (simple) print it makes the outfits overall look more interesting. Finding fabric this versatile has been the main roadblock in my attempts to make more tops this year, and I need to work on that. 

By Hand London Anna dress

Admittedly I've not got much wear out of my burlesque dress, but it absolutely deserves to be on the list. Whenever I see it in my wardrobe it makes me smile. Being Amber Moon for a night made a huge difference to me, and that's at least partly down to the fact that I made the dress myself. The sewing isn't perfect - it's not even good, really, since I made it in a blind panic - but I do not care. I had an effing AMAZING time in this dress, and getting out of this dress. 

Closet Case Files Sallie jumpsuit

This was SO GREAT in the summer. Comfortable, practical, and pretty. It was just as good for lounging around in as it was for going dancing. My second attempt didn't work quite so well, but I may make another next summer and it's definitely sold me on the whole jumpsuit thing. 

Sew Over It tulip skirt

This is the tulip skirt I wore the most this year, but it's kind of a stand-in for all tulip skirts. There's really nothing more I can say - I've made eleven tulip skirts this year (not all blogged) plus used it to make two dresses, clearly I love it and it's the best. I won't be bashing them out next year like I was this year since my skirt wardrobe is now quite extensive, but I imagine it will remain my favourite thing to do with a remnant. 

By Hand London Anna/Butterick 4443 dress

This mash-up is the most expensive thing I've made (Cloud Nine barkcloth at £25 per metre - eep) and I'm so glad it was worth it. I want to keep it as a special occasion dress, but I've broken it out for weddings, anniversaries and particularly swanky dinners. I love the colour, I think the bodice and skirt work really well together, and I'm proud of having bias bound every single one of my seams. 

By Hand London Anna/random gathered skirt dress

Honestly, when I made this particular mash-up it was a bit of a bodge (since I'd been planning to make a straight Anna without realising how much I'd underestimated the fabric requirements) and I thought it might not work, but I wore it to death. If I'd had the time and fabric to make two or three more I would have, and it's at the top of my list for next summer. I much prefer to have my shoulders and legs covered in the summer because my skin is so pale, but having so much movement in the skirt from the side slit made walking feel like an event, and I loved that. Yes, I know that's a completely twattish thing to say. 

Victory Patterns Trina dress

This thing is bonkers and I love it. I wore it a lot on holiday, and as a dressing gown around the house before it got too cold, but I wouldn't rule out wearing it as a dress next year. It's not going to be a pattern I make a lot, but I really liked the way it went together and might well make another one if I can find an affordable fabric.

Cashmerette Turner dress

This one is a bit recent to be putting on a "favourites of the year" list, but I get upset when I have to put it in the wash, and that's usually a sign of a good one. I feel much less upset about winter in this dress. 

Honourable mentions to a couple of things I really enjoyed making:

Deer and Doe Centauree dress

I haven't worn this much at all, but in terms of pure sewing experience this is my favourite thing I've ever made. It was a complete joy, and frankly I will probably do it again just for the hell of it. 

Simplicity 1647 jacket (for Mum)

I got to try a lot of new techniques making this jacket, and it was really great to be able to give a vaguely accomplished piece of sewing to someone else. It's given me a bit of a taste for it, and I am now seriously considering making some quite complicated things for my fuss-pants boyfriend next year. 

Up on Monday: the fails. Everyone loves failure!


  1. Nice list. Your Anna/Butterick mash-up is one of the prettiest Annas I've seen.

    1. Thank you! That's probably the one I'm most proud of.

  2. That red Anna is absolutely stunning!

    1. Thank you! It's hard not to feel awesome in a floor-length red dress!

  3. I found your blog via Debbie Cook, and I'm so glad I did! I've had to binge read the entire thing (your writing is a joy). Our body types are very similar, and because of this, I now must order the Tiramisu.

    I know it's so tough to be honest in sewing blogs. It's one of the things that stopped me from even commenting on other people's posts. But I think we're seeing a shift, and much more honesty in other blogs since the Collette debacle (did you follow the Pattern Review thread on the Rue?) and I'm really glad you share what you see.

    Thank you for your hilarious, honest, touching posts. They've made my week and been a lovely respite from the Xmas busy. Keep on writing, you really have a talent for it and an original voice.

    1. Thank you! What a lovely thing to read after Christmas. Writing is my first love and sewing my most recent, so it's great to be able to put the two together like this.

      I have been following Ruegate; it's fascinating. Colette was basically the first indie company I heard of (as I imagine is the case for a lot of beginners) and I so badly wanted to rush out and buy all their patterns, but I also wanted to see what they would look like on someone of my body type first. My Google searches turned up 95% awkward looking bodices, and the 5% that fit well were attached to long blog posts about how much work it took to get it to fit, "but it's totally not the pattern's fault, guys. I shouldn't have used this fabric/should have made a fourth test bodice/didn't think to redraft the neckline and armscye". The sewing world is a nice community so of course everyone wants to be friends, but a lack of honest reviews is unhelpful for everyone.

  4. Indeed... And I think because Collette markets so much to beginners (Patterns that Teach, and all that) people have felt even MORE insecure about getting it wrong.

    On another note - yes, your writing skills really show. I had to go and read your Things of Bronze blog, and I shared your posts about critical self talk and anxiety with a close friend who experiences very similar anxiety. He found it very helpful. You've an excellent balance between the absurdly funny and tragic, that I can see comes from lived experience and honesty. It's a delight to read, and I hope that you get published someday.

    A very happy new year to you! I promise to keep reading. ❤️

    In other news, my Tiramisu pattern arrived today! Yay!

    1. Agreed, absolutely. The fact that their redraft of a very publicly condemned pattern looks to be still riddled with errors makes me feel that maybe keeping people insecure and never ready to move past beginner level is a feature and not a bug for Colette. Is that too cynical?

      Thank you so much for your words, it really means a lot to me. I've been feeling quite stuck with my non-sewing writing for quite some time, and hearing that people actually like it has made me think about blogging properly again. I'm glad my posts were helpful to your friend. Slightly more selfishly, I'm also glad they resonated with someone because it means I'm not the only person who thinks like this...

      Yay for the Tiramisu! I hope the pattern works for you, would love to see what you make!