Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 - my year in sewing

Hello! It's Friday evening and all but the very last tiny bit of my Christmas shopping is done, and I am feeling very mellow and relaxed indeed. Time for me to get reflective on yo asses. Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow has set the ball rolling with her Top 5 of 2012 series, and while I'm not going to stick to the format exactly, I did want to take some time to reflect on my 2012 sewing, especially as I have been parted from my sewing machine until January!

So, yeah - 2012 has been a good year for me and sewing. Actually, I think it's been a darn good year all round, but that's for another post. I've had hits, a couple of misses, and a great time overall.

So, the stats! In 2012 I sewed 21 dresses and 1 pair of underpants. 22 garments! This is in contrast to the 8 dresses I made in 2011, so almost three times as many. I'm really pleased with this, as it signals to me that I have grown in confidence when it comes to sewing. This is important, because I started 2012 in a bit of a sewing funk, even crying into a latte in frustration about it. Making my yellow vintage dress broke my stressful sewing streak:

McCall's 5517 from 1960

If I'm being totally honest, I should probably count this dress just as a miss as I only wore it once. It's so far from perfect it's not even funny! But actually it's very sweet and I think if I take the skirt up a fraction I will wear it more. The best thing about it was how much I enjoyed making it - I think I just put aside my fears of getting it wrong and got stuck in, so this is a very happy dress indeed.

While I'm on the misses, another worn-oncer is my English Hazel dress...


This dress is super cute and it's another one that I really enjoyed making. But it didn't live up to my visions of it because the hot-pink lining just doesn't show through the white in the way I had planned. White is a difficult colour to wear when you have celtic colouring - eg, you're basically pale blue. I'm considering overdyeing it, but it's been packed away with my summer clothes so I will reassess this in the warmer weather. So it's not a complete fail, but it's not paying its wardrobe rent just at the moment.

With that said, I have worn my me-mades SO much more this year than I have before, and taking part in Me-Made-May really encouraged this. I discovered then that I would have had enough me-mades to get me through the month and I think this gave me the little confidence boost I needed. It helped also that I sewed four dresses during May! The dresses I made in 2012 that I wore the most were...


This is one of my plainer makes! But gosh, I love this dress. It isn't perfect - the pleats are a bit off and my zip is a bit eccentric, but I wear this dress all the damn time. What is brilliant about it too is that no-one has ever looked at it and commented on either of those things, and knowing that this stuff is not the be-all and end-all was one of my big sewing breakthroughs this year. Yeah, I try to get it right, and I think my finishing techniques are getting better all the time, but I have stopped freaking out over it.

Gingham Sewaholic Cambie dresses 

I wear my full-skirted Cambie dresses a lot, too, but these a-line gingham ones were the star of my spring and summer wardrobe. This is partly due to my enduring love of gingham, but also because they are so cute and comfortable to wear and I feel really cute and sexy in them. I can see many more Cambies in my future.
I think the biggest shift for me this year was in deciding that, as sewing is my hobby, I wasn't going to worry about whether I should be learning new techniques or to feel bad for not tackling bigger projects and just sew whatever I fancied. I have no plans to change this, and I think it's led to me making some of the more 'wow' dresses in my handmade wardrobe, such as...


This dress is so wonderfully ridiculous, and wearing it makes me really happy. The fact that the fabric was a gift from a very dear, dear friend just makes it even better. It sounds a bit silly and sentimental but when I wear dresses like this I feel like I have found just how to express myself and that's ever so satisfying. These Retro Butterick patterns have been stars this year, too. I feel properly old-school elegant in my Magnificent Obsession dress:


Looking back at all of these photos - look at my smile! I think you can see how much I have enjoyed sewing my way through 2012 and how much it has brought to my life. It isn't just the dresses, either. Sewing has brought wonderful new friends into my life - I attended a couple of sewing blogger meetups in 2012 - knicker-making in Bath, ballgown-pawing in London, and cleaning Birmingham out of fabric. That doesn't even touch all of the online interaction on Twitter and on blogs. I feel unbelievably lucky to be part of this community and the happiness it has given me is immeasurable.

When I took up sewing in 2010 it was, in part, a way for me to address the depression and anxiety I was dealing with. In so many ways, sewing has helped me to become a better, more patient and happier person. I'm really proud of what I achieved in 2012. The only resolution I have for my 2013 sewing is to keep on keeping on - to sew when I fancy it, not to sweat the small stuff, be curious and adventurous, to be proud of my creations, and to continue to connect with all of these talented, funny, awesome women. Sewing is freaking awesome, you guys!

Oh, and if you want to look, I've added a page to this blog to show off all of my handmade dresses. You can click through from the tab at the top of the front page, or just click here.