2017: My sewing year in review

2017: My sewing year in review

It was late May — mid-year already — when I sewed my first garment of the year, and it had been 10 months at that point since I’d sewn anything. The latter half of the year is the exact opposite story. Whereas this year’s knitting was about settling into a groove I’d been building toward for six years, my sewing practice has been about taking leaps and bounds forward. Up until that white linen shell that got me restarted, my sewn garments these past few years have been almost entirely of the “a front, a back and some binding” variety, but I vowed that this would be the year I’d test out of the lifelong beginner class, commit to sewing some things that couldn’t be done in a single sitting, and change my view of which parts of my wardrobe I’m capable of making myself. I feel like I owe it all the Summer of Basics challenge and the jeans-making workshop that followed. And my serger. Now that was a good decision.

There were definitely still simple little tops: the white linen shell, the grey wool sweatshirt-y thing, and my favorite sleeveless tee in striped hemp and grey wool knit. The jaw-dropping garment of the year was my first pair of jeans. The garments that really changed my closet and my outlook are the four pairs of “toddler pants”: olive (ruined in the wash but still in service on manual-labor days), denim, camo and natural wool. And the most involved thing I sewed this year (or possibly ever) was not the jeans but my Archer button-up. I’ll never forget pulling out the jeans pattern, seeing that it was fewer pieces and steps than the Archer I had recently completed, and thinking “I got this!” Not that Archer is hard, per se — it isn’t — but there is more to it.

And that’s not all I sewed. There were the baby harem pants for Allison plus two refashions: the slipdress and the army shirtjacket. Remaking the latter was one of the funnest days of my year — I had a blast in my sewing room that day, and am thrilled to now have that little jacket in my closet.

2017: My sewing year in review

Altogether, what these clothes mean is I no longer think of myself as capable of sewing simple tops and dresses while still dependent on ready-to-wear for shirts, pants and jeans (the bulk of my wardrobe, in other words). In fact, I no longer feel dependent for anything! But the other half of the giant impact of all of this is that I’ve learned to actually love sewing, rather than tolerate it. It turns out sewing more satisfying garments makes it that much more satisfying. Lesson learned!

Who knows what I might get up to in 2018.


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25 thoughts on “2017: My sewing year in review

    • Me too! I’m not really wearing them yet — I’m trying to stagger the break-in and fading on my three pairs of jeans, and they’re third in the rotation — so they’re still a sort of object of fascination.

  1. I’m blown away by your accomplishments this year- congratulations!!! I really want to love sewing, but several consecutive “disasters” have left me feeling super discouraged. I recently made a Linden sweatshirt (how easy is that pattern?!!), and raised the neckline 1.5″ …so far so good! I remembered to add the additional inches to the sleeve cap as well, but the sleeves now twist like a pretzel when I put the shirt on…obviously there’s more to redrafting a sleeve cap than I knew! So…I’m wondering if you learned by trial and error, or from local sewing classes, or from on-line courses. Can you recommend any on-line classes? I’m not a difficult fit in RTW (size 8), but even my local sewing classes only measured my bust, waist and hips – and I still have three garments that have problems in the fit area. I know how to get out of most knitting mistakes, but I’m terrified now to cut into any good fabric in fear of having another garment that I can’t wear. Any suggestions? Thanks for listening and for any advice you may have to offer!!! Happy holidays…wishing you much happiness and continued success in the new year ahead!

    • Craftsy has a class called “Sew for Perfect Fit” which I think is taught by Lynda Maynard. It might be what you’re looking for.

      • Thanks so much, Liz…I’m a most definite work in progress and need all the help I can get! I’ll definitely try this class before I throw the towel in on sewing (which I seriously don’t want to do!). Thanks again for everything – happy holidays!

      • My friend Kate recommends that class, too. I’m wondering if it’s the same people as the book Fit for Real People, which I bought on Liesl Gibson’s recommendation (but haven’t spent much time with).

        I do recommend taking classes if you can, although most of what I know (to the extent that I know much) comes from just trial and error. Making muslins, trying stuff, seeing what happens.

    • Regarding your Linden, is there any chance the sleeves are on backwards, or maybe not cut on grain? I’m not sure what to picture when you say they “twist like a pretzel” so not sure what it might be!

  2. I’m just like Maureen. I haven’t a clue about fitting or changing patterns. You make it sound so easy but I know it’s not. I’m so in awe of your jeans. Please tell us what happened to those olive pants in the wash. My curiousity is killing me.

    • Try making a muslin first and seeing how it fits. Fitting is trial and error. You have to make it to see if it fits! If you raise the neckline try and keep the shoulder the same as then it affects your sleeve (as you know). Try raising the neckline and grading back to the original shoulder point.

      • I wonder if you got concentrated amounts of soap. I’ve had that happen and rewashing helped. If you dyed them, they still might be splotchy.

  3. I personally want to thank you for putting me on what I think is the right track for my wardrobe decisions. I look forward to your post every morning (as someone else said earlier, it’s like sitting down with a good friend while enjoying a cup of tea – it’s a ritual!) and I’ve felt your encouragement as I’ve begun making my own clothes once more. I’d love to take the jeans class you took, because that is the one hang-up I have. I haven’t bought a single RTW item since last Spring, I think, and I’m so happy wearing clothes that I have made. It takes a little longer to construct them but the process is so attractive to me, and the prize at the end is so gratifying. I’ve also begun to take my color choices more seriously. Why has it taken me 67 years to figure that one out???!!!
    So thank you, thank you, thank you dear Karen. I can’t wait to see what roads you lead us all down in 2018, but in the meantime, I’ll continue knitting and sewing my basic wardrobe.
    Happy Holidays!!

  4. I want to find a skirt pattern that is equivalent to your toddler pants pattern since I am a skirt girl and don’t do pants. I am thinking merchant and mills salt marsh skirt. And then just have fun tweeking it and using really awesome hard wearing fabrics. Of course all sewing garments for myself is a distant dream right now as I am 8 months pregnant.

    I’ve made one archer and I love it but I really want to make another and take my time with it. The first one was just “let’s see if I can even do this”. But I didn’t muslin or take my time with finishing. When will I learn to just slow down?

  5. Next year, you can try climbing the underwear mountain !
    I’m intersted by that, but haven’t jumped in yet, though I already have favorited some nice patterns.
    Sewing my own underwear would mean I can really know what is so close to my skin all day long.

    And I totally agree with Judy, I’m also looking forward to your posts every day. There is a nice variety and yet the regular ones. You really have succeded in creating a kind of hub for slow fashion, and I thank you for that.

    Joyeux Noël !

  6. I love seeing your year in reviews for knitting and sewing, you accomplished so much! I found this site because I am a knitter, but all your sewing inspired me. I am getting a sewing machine for Christmas and I am so excited. I plan to start with some simple placemats and bags then work my way up to pajamas.

    Happy New Year, I can’t wait to see what you create in 2018!

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