Friday, December 27, 2013

I want to eat shrimp off an old gay dressed as Baby New Year

Hello all! I hope everyone has had a very happy and relaxing couple of days. I have - Christmas Day itself was hectic and long with so many family members to see, but it was excellent. I spent Boxing Day curled up on the sofa knitting and watching old films with my sister, and today I hit the shops with my parents and my sister. I didn't go too wild in the sales but I had a voucher for my favourite shoe shop from my brother (I scored pretty well in Sibling Secret Santa) and I may have* bought another pair of shoes and a dress as well (*totally did.)

So, I may not have the chance to blog again before 2013 is out due to family commitments and suchlike, but I did want to take part in Gillian's Top 5 series. I'm going to try to roll the whole thing into one blog post though, so there are probably going to be lots of photos. 

I'm going to tackle the sewing fails first I think. On the whole I've had a very good sewing year, but of course there are always a few things that don't get as much love. This list was harder to compose than I thought it would be, which is good! So, onward for...

 Misses of 2013

Polka Dot Problem dress - New Look 6000

In theory this dress is great. I love the colour, and the polka dots. It looks... well, it looks okay in these photos, I guess. I don't like the fabric and I'm not wild about the fit. I've only worn this dress once since I made in in January. I do want to make a green polka dot dress, but not from nasty synthetic fabric.

Colette Patterns Parfait dress

This makes me a bit sad, actually, because this beautiful fabric was a gift from my mother-in-law and the buttons were a gift from my friend Lucy's children. I saved the fabric from another sewing disaster but the truth is I just don't suit the Parfait dress. I've had a couple of bashes at it and it's just too mumsy for me. I gave this dress to the charity shop and the pattern to Vicki Kate.

Ms Peacock dress - Vintage Vogue 8789

There's nothing really wrong with this dress. The fabric is lovely, and both it and the pattern were a gift from Minerva Crafts. I just don't wear it. I think this might be a problem of association as the occasion I made and wore it for was ruined by a horrible, sickening migraine and it ended up being very stressful - so I think the dress has been marked by that. I think I'll reappraise it in the spring, but it might end up going to the charity shop as well.

Barry's dress - Sewaholic Cambie dress

I think I covered my feelings about this dress in my post on it a few weeks back. It's just too pale on me - and sadly, it's a bit too big as well. I have it packed away now until the warmer weather because it might look slightly better on me when my skin isn't pale blue and turns instead to its springtime colour of a slightly warmer shade of pale blue. It's a shame because it's nicely made and the golfer fabric is pretty cool, but it just doesn't do it for me.

And that's it for my misses - I couldn't make it to five! That's reassuring in a way - my handmade dresses have been getting great play this year, and these are the ones that are notable for not being worn. I do know what I like to wear and what I feel comfortable in, and that's what I've been sewing - I'm hoping that by the end of 2014, I will have even fewer misses!

My Top 5 hits of 2013 list has been even harder to compile, which is a good feeling as well! 

Top 5 Hits of 2013 (in no particular order)

Beauty School Dropout Dress - By Hand London Anna dress

My first By Hand London Anna dress, this one is a bit of a showstopper. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd wear - let alone sew - a maxi dress with a thigh-high split in the skirt, but I'm so glad that I did! I love the fabric, which was a gift from my darling Handmade Jane, and the dress itself reminds me of a brilliant day meeting up with lots of other sewists on the Goldhawk Road before spending the afternoon with Nic and some old friends in a pub garden in Camden. I've since gone on to make twelfty more Anna dresses, the pattern fits just perfectly with my life and my style, but this one has a very special place in my heart.

The Dolly Holiday dress - By Hand London Elisalex dress with a pleated skirt

This dress really makes me happy. It's my own interpretation on a dress by Limb, but made at a fraction of the cost. I love the shade of red and of course those cheeky cowgirls. I'm very happy with how it fits and I always feel brilliant when I wear it. Again, this dress is imbued with really happy memories as its first outing was to a party at Chez Sew Dixie Lou. Yes, I got horrifically shitfaced and so did Nic. Yes, I passed out on the floor of the hall. Yes, it would have been horribly embarrassing if it weren't for the fact that the friends I was with are so totally amazing. Throwing shapes on the dancefloor in this dress remains one of my happiest memories of 2013:

Feckin Birds dress and Lobsterlex dress - By Hand London Elisalex dresses

It might be cheating to count these two dresses as one, but I don't care. As soon as I saw the Elisalex pattern this time last year I knew it would be the perfect match for this lobster fabric, which I got at a swap in Birmingham last November. The Elisalex bodice has become basically one of my blocks, but I love the dramatic tulip skirt as well. I know it's divisive in the sewing community, with a lot of people fearing that it will make their hips look bigger. I can understand that, but I really like the very exaggerated shape. I have slim-ish hips and I like the way this gives me curves where there might not be any otherwise! One of the things I have loved about discovering By Hand London this year is how quirky their designs are and I can see many more of their dresses in my future.

The Nana dress - New Look 6886 with a gathered skirt

I have worn this dress so many times this year. It was snowing while I sewed it (hence the rare indoor photos) but I was able to wear it on a warm day in Paris in May, and lots of times over our lovely hot summer. I had wanted the Bernie Dexter dress made in this fabric for ages, but I'm so glad I made my own instead. Not only did it save me money, but this dress is so much more satisfying to wear and it always makes me feel happy to wear it.

Comic Muse dress - By Hand London dress with a circle skirt

I'll not repeat myself here because I blogged about this dress last week. I just love it. It's basically my perfect dress. I wore it on Christmas Day and it was fit for the task of eating a big dinner and running around after children all evening, so I'm calling this one a solid win. Hurrah!

2013 has been a really good year, sewing and crafting-wise. Counting up my projects, I have made 58 dresses, 1 jacket and 5 cushion covers - 64 completed sewing projects in total. I also crocheted a granny square blanket for our flat, and a hat and scarf for my father-in-law. I find crochet really exacerbates my RSI so I can't do very much of it, but knitting doesn't seem to have the same effect. I won't be able to count my Miette cardigan in my 2013 total but I should have it finished very early in the new year and I'm really pleased about that! I'm going to be working in London a lot more often in the new year so having a more portable craft is going to come in handy, I think.

One of the cushions I made - these were a Christmas present for my mother-in-law to go in her nautical-themed home. I made one and Nic made one!

I've been very prolific this year and am pleased that so few of my dresses have gone into the fail category. I feel even more pleased with myself when I consider how busy work has been this year - since being promoted in May I've basically been doing 1.5 jobs as we've been so short-staffed. Imagine how much I might have made if I didn't have a (more than) full-time job! Add to this the fact that I have been teaching at Berylune - I've really had a very busy year.  I'm not sure if 2014 can live up to it - and I'm not sure I have the space in my wardrobe, to be honest.  

As well as being a good year in terms of sewing output, 2013 has been pretty awesome in terms of what sewing has done for my life. Teaching at Berylune has been brilliant because it helped me get to know Amy, Emily and Fiona - all three of whom have become really good friends. I went along to lots of sewing meetups, including two massive ones in London. These were all really good fun but on the whole I preferred the smaller meetups when I had more of a chance to talk to people. In the past year I have made some truly super friends in the shape of my fellow Spoolettes. Not only are they all super hot and sexy, but they'll set you straight on sewing questions and will not judge you for drinking champagne in a bowling alley. Sewing is a fucking awesome hobby, no question about it. A big shout out to Clare, Emmie, Sally, Jane, Vicki Kate, Rehanon, Nicole, Amy, Marie, Kat, Helen, Alison, Lizzy and Sarah for becoming really good friends in the past year. YOU GALS THO. Sewing has made me happier and more confident, and a big part of this has been the friends that I have made.

In terms of sewing goals - well, I genuinely try not to set myself too many goals for my hobby. I find it takes the fun out of it. I do have one goal for 2014 and it is wedding dress-related. It's basically this: MAKE A FUCKING AWESOME WEDDING DRESS. And find some excellent shoes to wear with it.  I also want to keep doing what I've been doing throughout 2013, which is to wear the dresses I've made, and to make dresses that I want to wear.

An outfit shot from a few weeks ago. Sunday 8th December 2013 - Electric Boogaloo Anna dress and Irregular Choice Edna heels

All in all, 2013 has been a pretty excellent year. It's been full of happiness and good things - a wonderful holiday in Paris, spending time with loved ones, new nephews. I got a new job that makes me a lot happier and that makes a work-life balance easier to achieve. Nic and I got engaged. If 2014 is even half as good as 2013 has been, it's going to be brilliant.

Now, I have waffled on for far too long. I will say farewell now until 2014. Thank you to everyone who has read and commented and emailed and tweeted me throughout this year - it means a lot to me, truly. Have a very happy new year, and see you in 2014!