Category Archives: top five

Top Five Hits and Misses of 2014

Firstly, I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. I can’t believe that a year has passed already! I took part in Gillian’s (Crafting a Rainbow) Top Five last year, and now it’s time to do it again. I still have a few more makes to share with you before the end of the year, but this post just feels so right for today!


I’ve never been one to set goals for a new year but I do find it fun to look back on what has been. I’ve had such a great sewing year that I am going to take a little bit of liberty and group a few favourite makes in together.

HITS

1. Culottes/gaucho pants (Esther short pattern hacks)


I’m pretty sure this hit doesn’t need any further explanation. I made my first pair of white gridline culottes at the start of the year. A few months ago, I added to my collection with a Japanese corduroy pair and my pleated green cords. I’ve been wearing them all to death.

 
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention my Esther shorts, and not just because this was the pattern from which my best culottes originated. It was a TNT in it’s own right first. My skorts version is here.

 
 

It’s a more recent make but one that I’m super proud of. Admittedly, it’s a straight copy of a Dior design I found online, but I did draft this pattern completely on my own. It was also my first real attempt at tailoring. It’s not quite warm enough to function properly as a coat in a Kansas Winter, but it would be perfect for Sydney! It’s also still fine to wear as long as I dash from car to restaurant and back again.

I love this coat. It’s light, comfy, and super snuggly. It also has a very high wearability factor, especially since I lobbed off it’s tail. The pattern I used was modified from a short Japanese raglan jacket. I should also make a sneaky mention of the leather blocked leggings that I’m wearing with it in the photos. They have also been worth their weight in gold.

4. Playsuits
 

I made up two playsuits this year. I’ve worn the white one a lot, both dressing it up with a silk kimono and wearing it casually with sneakers or flip flops. I love my Oscar de la Renta silk version too, but I’ve been reserving it for special occasions.

 5. Simplicity 1366
 

I discovered Simplicity 1366, a Cynthia Rowley pattern, several months ago. Since then, I’ve made versions in white gridlines, a white fleece, sweater kint, neoprene and cord, Nani Iro, and white denim. I also used the pattern to make a black gridline drop waist dress. I wear all of these makes a lot.

 
 

Finally, I’m going to give an honourable mention to this leather trimmed tunic. I made it with scraps and I never really intended for it to become as handy as it is. I like it, but I still don’t love it the way I love some of my other makes. Nevertheless, it’s still become my trusty Winter LBD. It’s the dress in my wardrobe that I turn to when nothing else seems suitable (or warm enough) to wear.

MISSES
 
I’ve had a few misses this year, but nothing that I haven’t been able to refashion into something better. That’s the great thing about the experience that comes from an extra year of sewing. A year ago, some of these makes would have been given away, but these days I feel quite confident about cutting up lesser loved makes and turning them into something more fabulous.
 
*Content warning*
Some misses may cause distress (yes, I’m talking to you Kirsty, turn away now)
 
 
I know, I know…how can this possibly be a miss?! The fit is absolutely perfect. It sits around my waist, tight enough to stay up high, but not too tight to cut off my circulation. But, and this is a big but, the skirt is way too heavy. The cowhide is too heavy for the garment. It would have better suited a coat. I should have listened to my head, but I was so desperate for this precise colour of leather. 
 
I’ll admit that the skirt looks wonderful in photos, and I’ve even tried to wear it out on a few occasions, but within half an hour (usually before even leaving the house), the weight on my hip bones and back is really unpleasant and I’m dying to take it off. Next time, I will stick to lambskin. In the meantime, I have a few ideas on how to repurpose this great hide. 
  
 
 

This was a lovely dress. It fit me well. I wore it a few times, but it wasn’t really me. I turned it into something better.


3. My attempt at upstyling my husband

The colourblocking was a big miss. It just didn’t suit the husband’s personal taste. The shirt was also a little too large. In future, I will stick to his TNT patterns.

 

 
 
 
 I kind of knew this one wouldn’t work from the outset, but I also knew that by making it, I wouldn’t be wasting fabric because I had Plan B and Plan C already in mind. I love the refashioned items that I made. The silk jersey pants have also become the most delicious summer pyjamas.

5. Knitting

 

I really, REALLY tried to love knitting this year. I had the perfect opportunity present to me in which I was moving overseas and would be away from my sewing machine for a few months. I even purchased a great set of adjustable graphite needles. I was so determined to get into the knit of things.

Over the space of a few months, I knitted my first ever beanies. I also finished a couple of scarfs for my little peeps. I then tried my hand at a little dress. It’s a red hot mess, rife with all kinds of mistakes, but it is pink, and surprisingly, a big hit Miss Three.

Alas, knitting and me are not meant to be. I tried Jillian, I really, REALLY did, but it’s time for me to admit defeat. I do, however, have a new set of eyes for admiring the amazing skill that does go into beautiful hand knitted garments. That’s right Gail. I’m also talking about your speedy fingers and those sweaters and scarfs you’ve been showing us lately. 




Reflections and misses for 2013

 


Looking back, I have to admit that I’ve had a pretty good year. I’ve come a long way since 2012 and I am getting a lot better at understanding how to fit my body and translate the images in my mind into stitches on fabric.

I’ve had a lot of lightbulb moments this year, in better understanding sewing techniques, construction methods, and fitting issues. I’m still constantly learning and I know I will still have plenty of big misses in the future, but I also know that if I take my time, plan things through properly, and if I SEW A MUSLIN first, then most things I make can turn out at the very least, wearable.

I quite enjoyed looking back and reflecting on my biggest successes of last year, so I feel it is only fair that I share my doozies too. These aren’t quite all of them, but the ones I didn’t get around to photograph generally didn’t make it past the muslin stage.

1. The not-so-wearable muslin

 

Seriously….what was I thinking! Now don’t get me wrong. The fabric is utterly divine, a lemon seersucker remnant I picked up from Tessuti Fabrics. The fit was great and I liked components of the design (I was testing the bodice for my Tessuti Awards dress). But the cotton lace back was tacky and front on, it looked like I was about to dive into The Sound of Music set. I will say no more.

2. The hand-dyed skirt

I had great fun dyeing the fabric and the fit is perfect (although hubby says I look like an upside down flower in it).But the skirt really isn’t my style and I have nothing to wear with it. The fabric is silk, so I wouldn’t wear it on a daily basis,  but it isn’t particularly good quality silk, and I know I would always choose something else to wear on a special outing anyway. It is currently gathering dust in my wardrobe.

3. The cropped bolero

This devastation was completed before I started blogging. I actually made two of these boleros. The first one was collarless and in emerald green wool. I loved it but hubby said I looked like an elf  when I wore it so I gave it away. I changed this one a little by adding a collar. As you can see, I got the collar completely wrong. It was too narrow and the only way I could get it to sit down was to stitch it…which is a complete mess. I also forgot to follow my previous pattern adjustments when I cut the fabric, so it is uncomfortably tight across the back. So now I have this white elephant sitting in my closet. The fabric is a divine wool and cashmere blend, but it is too small with an atrocious collar. It could have been so cute!

4. Winter wool suiting bubble dress for Midgie

 

I nearly cried! She wore it once and then it was too small. I just should have just sewn it in a bigger size. It did look super cute on her though, especially with white tights and a little long sleeve top underneath. It was made using a pattern from one of my Japanese pattern books.

5. The ruffle top


There isn’t much to say about this top. It worked out well enough. It fits me reasonably but the fabric is cheap and the style just screams ‘homemade’ to me. I never wear it.

Otherwise, another big thing I have learnt from the past year is that I need to consider the whole picture more. On more than one occasion, I have made a fabulous top or skirt or shirt that I love, but then I have nothing to wear it with. I often choose beautiful prints and textures for a project but I need to think about making more simpler, single colour separates so I can mix and match a bit more successfully in my wardrobe.

Bring on 2014. Happy New Year everyone!

Top 5 hits of 2013

Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow is once again hosting the Top 5 lists of the year. Pop over to her blog to grab a badge and be a part of this great initiative. I’m not sure what I love more about this, the cause to reflect or the fabulous emblem! I’m pretty sure if that emblem came in a fabric, it would be in my stash already. In fact, it reminds me a little of one of my great wins this year. I’ll let you guess which one yourself. So in no particular order, here are my favourite creations for 2013 (I may have taken the liberty to add a few more than five)!

 
 
 
 


 There are so many reasons why this little swimsuit has made the list. It was the first time I’d ever sewn with lycra and my first ever swimsuit. It turned out so much better than I’d anticipated and the rapture with which it was received was wonderful. Miss nearly-Four still wears it on a nearly daily basis. The fabric is just divine and it has withstood the effects of chlorine and sunshine beautifully over the past few months. I have more beautiful swimsuit fabric in my stash that I would like to sew into some rash vests, tights, or swimsuits before the end of summer.


Now I actually have two dresses that I would like to place in this category. Ironically, my wearable muslin is my favourite of the two at the moment. It is just soooooooo comfortable and cool. But I am also pretty happy with how version two rolled out. I have been wearing the knit version at least twice a week and I am sure the second one will take over soon. I am especially proud of the silhouette and fit that I achieved with these dresses since I designed them both from scratch. I love the feeling that I am improving with each most new projects I take on. 

 


I made these pants at the start of Spring and was so pleasantly surprised with how they turned out. Although, given the fact that they were a Tessuti pattern, I should never have doubted the impeccable fit and design. Pants can be so very tricky to fit and feel comfortable in, but these pants are nothing short of amazing. And this is coming from a dress and skirt kind-a-gal. I am amazed at how many times I have worn them already this year. Once again, more Chloe pants are planned.

 
 Sometimes the quickest sews can also be the most satisfying. The pyjama dresses I’ve made for my girls this year are here, here, here, and here, all in the softest jersey (notably, one started out as a top). They have all been worn nightly and I can totally see why.
 
 This is the cutest little jumpsuit I’ve ever made. The Salme pattern itself is lovely, but the Liberty of London fabric I used makes it extra special. I love cute shorts and playsuits on my girls, but it is near impossible getting them out of dresses. So I was obviously very happy that Miss Five decided to love this playsuit. I see her in it often and it fits her perfectly. 
 
 Now I really, truly love this dress, and I have worn it more times than I can count so I do count it as a success. But….there were several quite major mistakes that were made with this dress. I’ve discussed some of them in the actual blog post, but more recently, I discovered another rather major blooper (that thankfully it isn’t too obvious). Now, I’m not quite sure where my head was at to make and miss such a mistake, but I managed to sew the collar inside out! With white linen, this is probably easy to understand as both sides look similar. However, I managed to arrange the INTERFACED side on the outside and as the collar is designed to stand up, all you see is facing, not linen. I only noticed this for the first time when hanging out my washing when on holidays, in the glaring Gold Coast sunshine. I noticed a little pilling on the collar and in confusion, I took a closer look (as linen doesn’t pill). And this was when I detected the problem. I am not entirely sure if I will re-do the collar or just live with it. I have also managed to tear the dress a little at some strain points in the back pleats, probably from resting my hands in my pockets, and possibly also from the sheer number of times this dress has been worn in the proximity of dress tugging toddlers. So whilst overall, this dress has been a massive hit, with all these ‘misses’ in the bodice, I may eventually convert this dress to a skirt.

 

This was one of those dresses that just came together so well. I used part of a dress pattern I had drafted months earlier and just winged the rest. I love how pretty it turned out. It is a favourite in my daughter’s wardrobe and I am also quietly proud of the fact that it got Nan Nan’s hard won tick of approval.
 
 I am so proud of my efforts with these pants. They turned out beautifully and I learnt so much along the way. This project has opened up so many new avenues for me now that I feel confident sewing with leather.
 
This is such a special dress to me because it was made possible due to my winnings in the Tessuti Awards (which, come to think of it, really should be in this list too!). It is the first ‘special’ dress I’ve made for myself. Most other dresses and tops I make are to suit my day to day job of running after children. For this dress, I chose my extra special fabric and I tried to turn it into a dress that was relatively simple by design, but in a style that had a timeless quality.
 
A major achievement for me this year was making the finals of the Tessuti Awards. Placing 3rd was a little unbelievable, but so very wonderful. This all happened around September this year, which was a little while before I started blogging.