Monday, 30 December 2019

sewing resolutions for 2020

Christmas is done! It was extra chill this year - Patrick's sister is heavily pregnant and we had his grandpa's funeral during our visit, so nobody was feeling especially bouncy. It's still exhausting to be in someone else's house for a week, so we're currently decompressing ready to start the new year. I did start writing a "sewing year in review" sort of post, but it just ended up being me ranting about the stupid Sierra jumpsuit pattern again so we're skipping that this year and moving straight on to the resolutions.

I went about 50/50 on my 2019 list. At the beginning of the year I assumed the one I would definitely do was the ballgown toile, but when I actually got the pattern out and looked at it I realised I don't actually like the style lines that much. What I liked was the general vibe and the idea of having a swanky red ballgown. I also didn't make the jeans (couldn't find the denim) and didn't take any fitting classes. Money was a bit of a thing this year and my back-up plan of Craftsy classes got a bit scuppered when Craftsy rebranded and became much worse. However, the resolution is not dead! Patrick has very kindly bought me a couple of sloper-making classes for Christmas, so I'll be doing a bodice block in two weeks' time and a trouser block in February. I'm interested to see how this goes and I'll be doing a class review here.

What I did manage to do this year was make an acceptable shirt (!), improve my twin needle stitching and get much better about planning and purchasing. Most of the fabric I bought has already been used, and I've not bought a random pattern without a plan in ages. This is solid progress.

On to 2020!

1. I will either use or get rid of everything that's currently in my stash.

With the exception of my aubergine silk double crepe, which needs to wait for the right pattern and occasion, I want everything in my stash to be used or donated by the end of the year. Even the expensive stuff. I really hate having a massive stash and would much prefer to just keep fabric for my upcoming seasonal plans and maybe one or two other pieces (sometimes Abakhan has amazing swimsuit fabric in October and you just have to buy it and wait). I've been trying to work on this over the past year and the number of metres in my stash has definitely reduced, but I don't think I'll feel like it's really working until all the old stuff is out of there. I'm currently working on pairing every piece to a pattern, or at least a type of garment.

2. I will make a good quality swimsuit.

I've tried and failed at this several times now, but I am determined to make it actually work. I probably want two swimsuits - a bikini with proper underwired cups, and a one-piece swimsuit because I have stripy multicoloured fabric that I don't think will work as a bikini. Sewing pattern designers thus have a year (six months?) to come up with a swimsuit pattern I don't hate! Yay!

3. Following on from last year, I will pick some more areas that bug me about my sewing and work on them.

This worked pretty well as a resolution last year and I think I could benefit from making it a permanent fixture. My number one goal is to be able to sew a lined/faced woven V neck that actually looks like a V. I don't know what I'm doing wrong here - I clip my seam allowances extensively - but I want to work it out and have one nice V neck garment by the end of the year. I'd also like to be able to improve my topstitching to the point that I'm happy to do it in a contrasting colour and make it a feature. During the year I'm planning to remake my Cashmerette Ellis skirt (there was a flat fell failure) and I want to put the proper topstitching on.

4. I will try out some of the patterns I've acquired but never used.

My hard drive is full of PDF patterns I've never had a go at. Most of them aren't ones I've paid full price for, but if I downloaded them I must have liked something about them (a free pattern you hate is still a pattern you hate) and it would make sense to start working through them. I'd particularly like to get to the Sew Over It patterns I harvested, and some of the other patterns from the Named book that I've been putting off because of the neckline modifications I'll need to do. I've also got a bunch of printed patterns I've never used that I'd like to either work through or get rid of.

5. I will make the swanky red ballgown.

I think not making the actual 1920s pattern was a smart move but I also think I should have a ridiculous red gown. What I specifically don't want is to end the year saying "well, I made a long red dress at one point, so that totally counts." It does NOT. I want to make something that I haven't made before, and I don't want the fabric to be doing all the heavy lifting. Usually the ballgown factor comes from the dress being big and poofy, but I don't like big poofy dresses so I need to find another way. I want this to involve me learning at least one new technique and possibly even trying embellishments. Where I find my starting point pattern for this I have NO idea, but I'm dreaming big on this one.

6. I will learn to use all the different sewing machine feet I have.

I have a box of different feet I got when I first started sewing, but I only ever really use a couple of them (standard foot, regular and invisible zip feet, walking foot, and recently buttonhole/button feet). I'd like to know that I can, should I require it, use the rest of the feet I have. I want to make sure I know what they all are and what I'm supposed to do with them, work with them until I can reliably make them to the thing they're supposed to do, and integrate the useful ones into my regular sewing. I'm sure I'll mostly continue to use the same half dozen feet, but I'm also sure that it would add to the quality of my sewing life if I were able to, say, do a nice blind stitch or rolled hem.

7. I will wear everything I make at least twice before I post my review.

Something I've noticed over the past year is that I sometimes make something I like, get very excited, post a glowing review immediately, and then over the next few days of wear I start to notice things that make me like it less. Then several months later I'll get a blog comment that says "thanks for the review, I'm definitely going to check this out based on your recommendation!" and I worry that I've accidentally misled said commenter by not including things I discovered when wearing the item out and about. Obviously I'm not going to stick by this so rigidly that I can't post my ballgown until it's had a few trips on the 344 bus, but for everyday clothes I'm going to test run them for a week or two until I'm sure I'm able to give a complete picture.

That's a fairly well-rounded set of resolutions, I think. Fewer than I usually make, but the stash-clearing one in particular is enormous and I don't want to overwhelm myself. My hope is that 2020 is going to be a year of change and upheaval for me, where I have to work very hard whilst also protecting my health, and my sewing needs to serve that this year and not end up being an extra chore and source of guilt.

Happy 2020, everyone! Good things for all of you!


  1. #7 - YES! I got backtracked on reviewing patterns and now they are usually worn before I review them. I used to always review as soon as I finish sewing stuff and it really helps.

    #1 - I can definitely get with this. I was *just* contemplating going through my fabric stash and getting rid of anything that isn't 100% my tastes *today* or that I don't think I would realistically use as a muslin. I have 8 bins of fabric and an IKEA Expedit 4x4 and it's just too much for me, right now. I'l be looking forward to following on this journey with you!

  2. A sloper making class is a very good Christmas present!