Reflections on 2013

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted. Or, actually, since I did any sewing. Initially I was just feeling guilty about a couple of unfinished dresses in my cupboard and kept trying to finish those (unsuccessfully). Then, we were in Christchurch for Christmas with my family-in-law, and now I’m on night shift (7 nights in a row is awful, trust me).

So in lieu of presenting an actual garment, I thought I would take some time to reflect on my sewing for 2013 and what my goals are for 2014. Warning: text heavy post, so I’ll start off with a picture of our cat (Travis) with string stuck in his teeth.


This year my sewing has come such a long way. I’m never sure what to say when people ask when I started sewing; I did a sewing class in 3rd form where I made a windsock which I made a hole in with the overlocker, a gypsy skirt that I shortened a lot and wore all the time, and a disgusting straight skirt that I shudder to think about (shiny teal stretch fabric with beaded trim around the hem) and didn’t even like back then. Then I must have dabbled for a while with my mothers sewing machine as I seem to recall making a pretty awesome pair of tartan shorts for my brothers (which pulled apart at the seams because the fabric was such poor quality).

I got my current sewing machine on my 18th birthday, and since then dabbled, making maybe 3-4 garments per year. Construction and fit were not ideal but damn did I wear those items a lot!!! In 2014 my now-husband and I moved into a flat of our own and I got my own sewing room, so churned out a few more, mainly dresses. I got a sewing mannequin (since sold because I didn’t actually use it that much and I needed the money) which helped my fitting. I graduated from med school.

ImageDresses I made in 2012 and still wear/own.

Then, after moving to Wellington, something changed and I started sewing a lot. Maybe it was starting work full time and having money to spend on fabric; or just needing a creative distraction when not at work. Either way, I really stepped up my game and have improved so much from last year. I still make some terrible things but my knowledge and appreciation for what works has really grown; and I now only sew things that are the proper length!!. Since June I haven’t bought a single RTW item which has forced me to really sew for my style, get better at basic items that I can wear to work


Luckily, I never get the feeling that I’ve failed when sewing; I guess because I tell myself that I always learn from a garment, and it’s just a hobby so money spent on materials is fine (especially when compared to other hobbies like water sports, and amount people spend on booze). However, I do get really disappointed in garments that don’t turn out well – and I have realised the two main issues are fit, and doing a rushed job which compromises the craftmanship.

Most of my “failed” items are actually from before I started the blog, so don’t have any photos. Many have gone to my sister-in-law. Some other things have gone in the bin or to the op shops. They’re mainly items that just don’t fit properly or that I don’t feel good in – it’s amazing how we will still wear items that make us feel bad, for whatever reason. I decided late last year to only wear clothes I feel fabulous in which has done wonders for my self-esteem, although it did mean culling a LOT of clothing.

In the interest of staying fabulous, I am making myself look hard at what clothes I don’t tend to reach for, and don’t enjoy wearing, so I can kind of start afresh for 2014.

ImageI had such high hops for this dress. I was so stoked with the fabric when I bought it – the kind of thing I used to overlook but would be common to see in RTW. But, it’s a fail. The collar is botched (the two points are waaay too far apart), I don’t like my button choice, and the skirt was such a disappointment (it really should be a full skirt rather than a-line). The fit is okay and I love the sleeves, but I just don’t enjoy wearing this one.

This one is a case of wrong fabric for the wrong dress. Again, I wated the skirt to be fuller, but mainly it’s a fail because the fabric is way too heavy for a dress, particularly one with sleeves. I love the collar and the buttons, and maybe I’ll like it again in the winter when it gets cold again, but I haven’t ever enjoyed wearing it. The fit is pretty good though, I guess.

After how well my first Ginger went, I quickly made these two repeats. Again, not exactly sure why I don’t like these, but they just don’t sit well on my hips. Additionally, because the linen obviously creases when I sit down, but the lining doesn’t, it ends up with a crazy yellow bottom. The tartan wool one I tried matching the tartan after cutting, so obviously it ended up being a bit squiffy.

These two Anna’s have mixed feelings. For one, they look awesome – but, the necklines are way too high and are almost uncomfortable. The polka dot one in particular sits half way up my neck! After making this pattern four times, I finally clicked that the shoulder seam sits too far back, so the back neckline is too low while the front neckline is too high. I feel like an idiot for not fixing it first, and it kind of teaches me to not make a muslin, and to go after “quick projects” which are inevitably a disappointment. I think I’ll still wear these and the red one at least I can fix by lowering the neckline.

Favourite Garments

So, for my favourites.

Gosh darnit but I love these skirts, I end up reaching for them most days. They fit well and I feel like I finally have a proper TNT pattern; I know it will fit without any alterations and all I need to take into account is how much stretch is in the fabric.

Every time I put on this jacket, I get all excited. I made this – I MADE THIS! Good fabric choice (wool and silk), cool design, well fitting (despite not doing a muslin, oops). When I make it again I’ll shorten the shoulders a touch, maybe do bound buttonholes and/or use snaps rather than buttons to close it. I’d love to make it without the double breasting, too.

Another one that I’m so proud of making myself. I’m not sure exactly why, as the fitting isn’t the greatest, but it’s really comfortable, looks good, and always gets comments. I love the pleating in the front, and while the shirring is comfortable it looks a bit odd over my bottom so will probably do a pleated skirt on the back next time.


So, 2013 has been a pretty awesome sewing year for me. My skills have improved hugely, I started a blog, and thanks to Mrs C (who I met at her shop, gossiping), met a whole heap of awesome sewing ladies (through the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network). I’ve become more discerning in my fabric choices (and have recently culled a huge amount of fabric from my stash, so I only sew with things I actually want to sew with/wear – this largely means no polyester!).

My main goals for 2014 are non-specific, mainly around spending time to perfect the little details as they make me the most happy with a finished garment. No more “fast-sewing” or “quick projects”!! I’m continuing with my RTW ban (although I haven’t even been tempted to buy anything yet), and so will try to encourage myself to be less stingy with fabric, buying good quality fabric with enough yardage (!) to make what I will actually want to be wearing in 5 years.


7 thoughts on “Reflections on 2013

  1. Squee!!! I am sewing at work, if you want to bring your Annas in and redo the necklines, or anything else, happy for the company 🙂 I am very excited about your 2014 resolution – having dropped $32m and $18m on fabrics today, I realised how important it is to buy quality, so your hard work and time spent is not wasted. xo

    • Will you be sewing tomorrow? Maybe I will bring them in. I probably should change the neckline of the spotty one too, pretty sure I have more white cotton (the collar is so cute and it did, after all, get me featured on BHL’s blog :D)

  2. You’re a sewing inspiration to me. Really good thoughts on your year and I can’t wait to see what you make me jealous with next! Heh heh. I had the same issue with my anna (high in front, low neckline at back), which I somewhat fixed in muslin stage, but I don’t think I completely cracked it. So much to learn! Enjoy your next year of sewing 🙂

    • See this is why I should make more muslins! Then I can get the fit a hang of a lot closer and not look back. Instead, I charge forward, and any fitting issues I fix don’t necessarily get transferred to the pattern!

      And don’t worry Jo, I’m just as jealous of your stuff and super star status! :p

  3. That jacket IS amazing! Great color, fit and I can imagine it was a lot of work. Impressive! I like the Annas- but I am not wearing them! At least you know the fix and can change your future ones. Looking forward to seeing your 2014 makes. Happy New Year!

    • I actually wore the red one to work the other night and it wasn’t as bad as I remember – I realised the problem is actually that I didn’t trim or clip the facing seam, so it wants to roll out. Stupid!

  4. Loving your skirts! 2013 was a year of sewing skirts for me too! Your green dress is gorgeous, what pattern did you use? Very pleased to have found your blog via thread theory 🙂

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