One Year In...

I've got a bit of a different post for you today; it's not a new make but a reflective post. I've mentioned on here before that I started sewing my own clothes in April 2017 after being frustrated at the lack of ready to wear good quality cotton shirts in colourful and different patterns. There has been a lot of talk on the blogs about wardrobe planning/capsule wardrobes/making things you want to wear/sewing your stash/scrap-busting and, as I'm now one year into sewing my own wardrobe, I thought it might be good to reflect back on what I've made and how my sewing style and skills have developed over this first year.

What I made: 

Pauline Alice Cami

I started with a couple of oversized shirts from a shirt dress pattern and then moved onto dresses which, I believe, is a more typical territory of a beginner sewist. You can see some of these early makes over on my Instagram account: @pocketortwo. And then, sometime in late summer (I think), I fell in love with the Linden sweatshirt pattern (I have four of the sweatshirt version) which I have lived in ever since. As a quick run down, over the past year I've made:

Shirt dresses
(Sew Over It Tulip) Skirts
Kimono tops
A sequin top!
A make-up bag
And probably some other things that I have forgotten about!

I love a challenge and jeans and bra-making have certainly allowed for me to up my skills. My second pair of Ginger jeans are certainly wearable and I don't feel as though they are obviously "me made" when I wear them. I'm still honing down the sizing on my bra-making, but I am enjoying the small-scale sewing that it invites. It's so pleasing to see these small pieces of fabric turn into a bra!

That dress - Butterick B6318 - Retro '61

What I actually wore:

So, what I have sewn and what I have actually worn are two different things. I will confess that I haven't worn the dresses or the skirts a lot since last summer. I still love the Pauline Alice Cami dresses and they will come out again this summer. The boat dress that I made has not been worn and neither has my gorgeous retro Butterick '61 dress (above), only for photos! My Sew Over It Tulip skirts were worn a lot after first making but, as they're early makes the construction isn't perfect so they need a little TLC. Looking back at my makes, the Kimono top hasn't been worn much either. Writing this, it appears that my "big four" makes are the least worn.

One of my Lindens

I didn't wear a lot of dresses before making my own clothes so, again, looking back it seems odd to have started making dresses. But, I think this is usual; dresses are fairly straightforward to make and they're more forgiving makes than trying to fit a pair of trousers.

What I sew now:

Linden hack and Ginger Jeans

Over the past few months I've developed a much more practical wardrobe. As I have always lived in jeans and tees, it makes sense that I make a lot of tees (and a couple of pairs of jeans!) as a sewist. They get worn a lot. I also make a lot of shirts, which returns me to my original reason for sewing my own clothes. I wear my shirts a lot for work and my banana Kalle shirt is very popular (and one of my favourite makes of the year. I have more planned - and two already cut out ready to sew - so watch this space!) I'm planning a tee-shirt pattern round-up blog post soon as I've been trying a few tee-shirt patterns lately.

Grainline Studio Lark Tee - a new fave!

I also prefer independent patterns to the "big four". I find the instructions easier to follow. More complicated makes often have sew-alongs online which are hugely helpful. My favourite pattern companies at the moment are Closet Case and Grainline Studios.

Megan Nielsen Acacia 

Oh, and the Acacia underwear pattern from Megan Nielsen is my staple underwear pattern - great for scrap-busting and such a good design! And it's free!

Gaps in my wardrobe that I'm hoping to fill:

There are still things that I need (that probably doesn't include another Linden). I'm desperate to find a cropped trouser pattern that I can make in twill-weave cotton. I have two RTW pairs that I live in for work and really would like to make my own versions. I have a pair of Nina Lee Portobello wide-legged trousers and the Robert Kaufman Neon Neppy Chambray ready to make. I'm really excited about making these!  I am also in need of a cardigan or two. I'm looking at the Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan.

I really want to make a bomber jacket this summer. I think I've settled on this pattern from Street Style Patterns (thanks @sodburysewing for posting about it on IG). And I'm coveting this fabulous Rico Design fabric from The Fabric Fox for it. What do you think?

Sewing items I couldn't live without:

My overlocker was a real game-changer for my sewing. I have the Janome 9200D, which I've found really easy to use as a beginner. I love the professional look of the finished seam and it is so quick for tee-shirts and underwear. I'm really pleased with my orange overlocked seams on my Ginger jeans turn-ups!

Orange thread overlocked seams 

I sew with my Tula Pink duckbill scissors by my side. They're great for snipping threads and cutting notches, trimming fabrics etc. Love them!

Where I buy my fabrics:

I still mainly buy fabrics online as the independent shops have the best quality fabrics, in my experience. I love Sew Me Sunshine, Harriet is always sending me photos of fabulous fabrics coming up. Material Girl Laura also has a lovely range of  great quality fabrics. She has some great jerseys in at the moment, and a good selection of Atelier Brunette fabrics. Cloth and Candy has the cutest designs - they currently have the super colourful and metallic Rico Design piping and bindings in that are amazing (I'm trying to find something that needs them so I can buy them!) and The Fabric Fox has a great range of colourful fabrics too, especially if you love Cotton and Steel fabrics (which I do!) There are loads of fantastic independent sewing shops online!

What next?

Over the next year, I have a few makes planned. I'm trying to sew my stash as I have a few(!) fabrics to get through. I have a planner in which I list my fabrics and patterns and plot out my makes so I can keep track of it all. After I've got through my planned makes and filled the gaps in my wardrobe,  I'm going to do some self-less sewing and plan to make shirts and trousers for my partner. I've got the Thread Theory Jedediah pants and the Fairfield button up shirt patterns on their way to me. I don't want to just make things for me, for the sake of sewing, but there are still things I need, and things I want to replace. I'm also thinking that the next year might bring a new sewing machine. My old Toyota is great and I've made a fab wardrobe with it, but it doesn't like sewing denim/top-stitching so well and struggles a bit with other things too.

I'm planning to continue blogging with more posts planned as I make more. You may have also noticed that I've changed my Instagram handle to match the blog as it's largely sewing-related posts over there too. I was also lucky enough to be asked to guest blog for Material Girl Laura this year, which was a great experience. Me Made May is coming up next month and I plan on participating in that challenge and hopefully a few more this year. I'm choosing ones that are relevant to my sewing though, rather than trying to do them all as there are a quite a few sewing challenges around and I don't want to sew things that will go unworn (I've learnt my lesson!)

I'm probably wearing at least one me-made item everyday now, one year on, which I'm really happy about. I didn't realise that my need for shirts would lead to me finding a hobby that would help me in so many ways, on a practical and a self-care level. And I really didn't expect to meet new friends in my mid-30s. I know people say this a lot, but the sewing community really brings together the loveliest bunch of people! I've learned a lot from other bloggers and Instagram sewists out there (and podcasters - Love to Sew is my fave and also the new Stitcher's Brew podcast). I look forward to discovering more sewists, patterns, fabrics and all the other fantastic sewing-related things over the coming year.

Here's to another year of sewing!


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