Sewing project: Pona Jacket

I’ve wanted to tackle a proper jacket for myself for a while. For a while it was going to be the Chilton Trench by Cashmerette (and I haven’t ruled it out or anything) but it seemed a bit complicated and I don’t want to make it until I find the perfect teal twill anyway. But then Helen’s Closet posted about the Pona Jacket, which is very simple – unlined and not even closures, so I jumped on it. Bought the pattern the day it came out, and immediately knew which fabric I was going to use.

When we were in Virginia, I bought some fabric at IKEA but without any ideas for it. It’s a cotton canvas, not super heavy, but definitely meant for home decor. I thought a shift dress or an a-line skirt, maybe. The print was very large and bright, so whatever it was, it was going to be BOLD.

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Well, obviously it was just waiting for this jacket pattern to come out, because it’s a match made in heaven. The only small issue is that it’s really more of a spring print, and it’s November, but WHO CARES?

It was a pretty easy make – I’ve made several button down shirts for George and the boys (and other male friends) so a collar and lapel and facings aren’t a huge deal to me. But because this one has a neck facing as well, it was SO much easier to deal with. I have a feeling every one of those button down shirts I’ve made is slightly wrong around the collar area. OH WELL. No complaints yet. (I don’t know enough about construction to know if it’s because shirts use yokes? Or I suppose a neck facing in a button down shirt would be weird? But anyway, whatever.)

The whole thing came together in an evening, which was exciting. I love quick makes that look impressive!

 

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Hi there! I made my own Halloween costume!

This summer, I started watching The Good Place. I’d started watching it when it came out, but then stopped for whatever reason. I decided to pick it back up, and while I was watching the second episode, Miles wandered into the room and sat down. And was hooked. By the third episode, all three were watching it (and had gone back to watch the first two.) Over the course of a few weeks, we binged all three seasons and were pretty obsessed. We even listen to the official podcast. Nerds.

I thought it’d be fun for the boys and I to dress up as characters from the show for Halloween, but you already know they declined to do that. I’m not sure why, honestly. They re-watch episodes constantly and we actually sit and watch the new episodes when they air. (Who does that anymore?!?)

But I still wanted to do it, and naturally with my hair I wanted to be Janet. (I hate wigs.) (And strapless dresses aren’t my thing.)

I thought briefly of buying a purple vest and skirt on Amazon but AS IF. Instead, I bought a few yards of purple scuba fabric. Obviously I was going to make it myself!

The skirt was easy. I figured I’d make a simple half circle skirt, but then I remembered I have the perfect pattern – the Linea skirt by Wardrobe By Me. That came together quickly, especially since I left out the pockets. I hemmed it using bias tape to give the bottom a little more body.

The vest was a little more challenging. At first I was just going to wing it and use a t-shirt pattern and just hack it, but then I came across this blog post from a woman who made a Janet costume and decided I needed to step it up a bit.

So I went to Joann’s and bought a pattern since I couldn’t find any suitable pdf patterns. I ended up getting Butterick 5359 which worked perfectly (view C.)

Well, I should have lengthened it some, because once I was done I had to pull the skirt up to my ribcage so that the top would be covered by the vest.

In any case, it was pretty easy. I couldn’t find buttons in the correct color, so like the other blogger, I painted some that were close with purple nail polish, which cost me like 17 cents at Walgreens. Nice.

The last thing I tackled was the shirt. I had a plain white button down that I was never going to wear again, so I decided to paint the design on it instead of tracking down expensive fabric and sewing a shirt I’d never wear again.

My plan was to make a design of the stencil with my Silhouette and then paint it on the shirt with a mix of blue and purple fabric. In my head, it came out perfectly. In reality…well, I mean, it was a bit messier. Oh well! I also bought a little bit of white crepe fabric from the remnants bin, painted the design on that as well, and safety pinned it to the neck of the shirt for the ruffle. I mean, it wasn’t exactly ruffly, but it worked well enough.

Before the neighborhood Halloween party Saturday night, I straightened and curled my hair (thank goodness it wasn’t humid!) and put on some makeup and low heels and voila!

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That one’s me.

 

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That one’s the real Janet. I know it’s confusing.

Some details:

I was pretty pleased that so many people at the party knew who I was dressed as. I mean, I did get a few “Violet Beauregarde?”s but not too many.

Next year…Bad Janet?

PS If you don’t watch it yet, start at the beginning and watch!

So much sewing

In spite of my lack of blogging, I’ve actually been sewing a lot lately. In between sewing costumes, I made Linus a Go To Jacket with a hood, but without a chin guard (it was too fiddly when I made Miles’s, so I decided it would be okay to go without. And it was.) He loves it, even though it’s inexplicably too big. I think because the fabric I got (a 97/3 cotton/lycra blend) was a lot stretchier. Miles’s was made of ponte and lined with a knit, so it definitely didn’t stretch as much. But I’m sure it’ll shrink and/or he will grow into it. 😀

Oh. And I have no idea where I went wrong with the pockets. This version had inseam pockets, but as far as I could tell, there was only one pocket piece, but I couldn’t find instructions on how to close the top. So I top stitched it to the front piece, which looks weird and I may re-do later. 🤔

Oh and I messed up one of the front pattern pieces but didn’t have enough fabric to cut it again so I re-cut the messed up bottom half, and then cut the other side in the same place to make it look “blocked” and on purpose instead of an accident.

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Anyway, it’s super cozy and he’s happy so win!

The other fun sewing project was making a dress out of the sequined fabric I bought a year and a half ago. This fabric is so dreamy that I couldn’t bear to cut into it. And also I was terrified of sewing with sequins. And also I wanted a pattern that would have relatively few seams and nothing fiddly. At first I was going to make a skirt but the thought of putting a zipper in made me back off. Then I remembered the pattern I’d bought for me and Kiki’s Arsenal dresses this summer – the 100 Acts of Sewing Dress #1. It’s basically a shapeless trapeze tank dress but only one pattern piece so perfect! Who’d be looking at me with that fabric anyway?

I decided to line it with pale pink satin, and basically I just made the dress twice. I attached the lining at the neck, where I used bias tape to finish the seams. And I finished the arm holes of the sequined dress with bias tape (but the satin dress was just serged in matching thread.)

It was a bit big, (obviously this was before I made my Ellis skirt) but it worked well enough. I don’t have any great pictures, but I got a lot of compliments on it and it was comfortable and easy.

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Pre-event, when I was still wearing heels
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Oh look, there I am. Looks like I should have paid more attention to the side seam. Oops.

So what’s coming up?

Well, I need to make my own Halloween costume, but it should be fairly easy. And I’d like to make another Blackwood Cardigan, and another York Pinafore, and maybe some joggers, and this jacket looks intriguing but I haven’t had a ton of luck with Seamwork patterns. I really want to make the Tillery skirt out of denim, maybe? Or corduroy? Possibly the canvas I got at IKEA? But then I saw the new skirt pattern from Grainline yesterday and I’m a bit starry eyed over that. But maybe I’ll save that for the spring. Maybe they’ll finally expand the sizing on the Farrow dress that I’ve been dying over. And I’ll reward them by purchasing two patterns.

Oh shoot! And I just forgot I got the new Tobin Sweater pattern from Cashmerette, and they threw in the Appleton for free! That said, I’m not really into the idea of a wrap dress for myself, but I might try making it as a top instead. So yeah, I’m gonna be busy. 😀

(Speaking of Cashmerette, the most exciting thing happened this morning – I opened an email newsletter AND THERE WAS MY BUTT! Normally, I wouldn’t be excited about seeing my butt anywhere, but I was very honored that the designer chose to feature my version of her skirt! YAY!)

I’ll finish off this post with a photo of my (very tiny) closet. I took everything out of it that I didn’t make. So yeah, this is all me-made. (Not all of it, either, by a long shot!)

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Making Halloween costumes

I’ve told this story before, but I started sewing right after Mardi Gras last year. Right after I spent a day frantically buying random things and hot glueing and doing anything I could to avoid a needle and thread for our Mardi Gras costumes. All things considered, they turned out pretty well. But then within a week I fell headlong into this sewing obsession, and I had to wait until Halloween to get an opportunity to finally make costumes for the boys that didn’t involve tying fleece together or safety pins.

But they just wanted to be soccer players, and as you might imagine, we have plenty of soccer uniforms floating around. No sewing required. And then Mardi Gras came around again and they could not be convinced to go in costume (tweens, amirite?)

Now they are nearly 12 and my chance to lovingly craft costumes for them is probably nearing the end, so I hounded them endlessly for ideas that I could make. Inexplicably, Miles came up with a penguin, and Linus decided he wanted to be the Easter bunny. I mean, of course.

We had an event yesterday (Sunday) and these decisions came on Friday, so I didn’t have long. I could have made Oliver’s costume as well, but I was not unhappy to see that we could buy it at Target. So we did:

Hilarious, right?!?!?

So back to Miles and Linus. We went to Joann and bought a bunch of black, white, and pink fleece. I’d make Miles a tunic he could wear with black leggings, but I’d need to make Linus pants as well.

Since a penguin needs flippers, I didn’t want to just use a standard shirt pattern, so I thought the dolman sleeves of the Pumpkin Spice Dolman from Patterns for Pirates would work well. I printed out the smallest size and got to work.

Boy, it sure is easy to sew when you don’t have to worry about finishing seams!

Miles also needed a hood for his penguin head, so I used the pattern pieces from the Go To Jacket I am working on for Linus, and just used a pajama pants pattern for the bottoms. (I would have used the P4P pattern for this as well, but I had a Simplicity pattern for kids’ pajamas that was just as easy.)

Then I cut out a white chest piece and sewed a red bowtie (guess where that pattern came from?), stuck that on, cut eyes and a beak from felt and voila! We had a penguin!

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Next up, the Easter Bunny!

This bunny got a pink belly and we made him a Halloween-themed bow tie. Because the Easter Bunny respects holidays that aren’t his own. He didn’t need a hood since we’d purchased ears. I used eyeliner to paint on whiskers and we dug out Linus’s Easter bucket and filled it with eggs. I also found some gloves that belonged to a Mario costume from a few years back. Too bad one was lost at the mall. Oh well. But still, the cutest Easter Bunny ever (promise he and the penguin weren’t as grumpy as they look here.)

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Since Halloween isn’t for another couple of weeks, I have some time to adjust and finish their costumes. Miles needs shoe covers for penguin feet, and he wants the belly to go down further. We need to attach a tail for Linus, and maybe figure out how to secure the ears onto his head better. And of course I need to make my costume (no spoilers.)

Sewing the Ellis skirt, take 2

Back in March, I made a test version of the Ellis skirt by Cashmerette. I had bought a kit from the designer with nice denim and all the accoutrements (rivets, button, topstitching thread, etc.) but I only got around to using that kit last week or so.

The problem is, I gained a bit of weight since March so I wanted to size up a tad. But long story short, I sized up too much. Why do I always do this? Plus, I didn’t seem to learn anything from the mistakes I made the first time. If I decide to make this skirt again, though, I know exactly what to do.

  1. SIZE DOWN.
  2. Sew the ding dang zipper closer to the center front seam! Don’t line up the edge of the zipper with the seam, but line up the zipper teeth.
  3. I realized that when the zipper is lined up the way I did, the waistband ends up being too short. So then I had to take apart the waistband and add more length to it.
  4. And then LATER when the waistband was too big, I had to take it apart and remove that length.

So, don’t look too closely is all I can say.

But in the end, it fits okay, not great, but well enough, and it looks like a denim skirt and I love the topstitching I did on the back pockets. 🇬🇧

Look! A weird picture of my butt! (I lightened it so you can see the stitching.)

Oh and the lining fabric went with my pocket theme…

(Like before, this is view A in the length of view B.)

Coming soon: More sewing posts, because I’ve been sewing a lot!

First day of middle school!

Middle school. I sure hope it’s kinder to them than it was to me.

I promise, they’re happier than the smiles (or lack thereof) would indicate. Especially Miles. That’s his “smile.”

They enjoyed looking at all of their past first day of school pictures, so I had them re-do this one from 8 (eight!!!) years ago.

They’ve changed a little.

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Sigh.

For now, our bus stop is literally a block and a half away, which is amazing. But we will probably move to one a bit further away so they won’t have to be on the bus for two hours (!) every afternoon. I’ll enjoy this little walk until then.

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Getting on the bus!

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Sewing tangent: I made Miles’s jacket and Oliver’s leggings. The jacket was a real labor of love, it’s the Go To jacket by Patterns for Pirates. I’ll post more about it later.

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There’s that smile again!

Sewing project: Akinori dress

I’ve made a few Wardrobe by Me patterns – notably I’ve made the Tropical shirt about fifty times (well, really more like five) for George and the boys but I’ve also made the Linea skirt twice, both times as gifts. So now it was my turn to make something for me!

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When I saw the Akinori pattern I loved it, but wasn’t sure it was for me. Mostly because of the waist tie. Pam doesn’t do belts. It’s one of my cardinal rules. (I also don’t tuck things in and I also don’t eat celery.) But if I didn’t do the tie, it would be too loose. And loose dresses, I have learned in time-consuming and expensive ways, don’t work well for my shape.

But…well, maybe I’d just give it a try. I didn’t have to wrap the tie around my waist twice. I could just tie it in the back.

Backing up…

I decided to use the linen print I bought last summer at Mill End in Portland. I wasn’t sure if it would be flowy enough, but what the heck. If I didn’t use this fabric now, it would be another year before I could, since summer was technically ending soonish. (I mean, not really, this is Louisiana, summer is year-round, but I like to pretend it’s cool in the fall and wear seasonally appropriate clothes.)

So I got to work sewing up the pattern. Pleats always confound me, but I figured it out (with a little help from the designer and other sewists in the Facebook group.) But then I got stuck again with the semi-circular front insert piece. It was tricky because it uses a sort of burrito method (which I used in the Tropical shirt as well) but I was okay with that.  It’s when I got to sewing around the front insert piece and it was just waaaay too big.

I asked for help, unpicked those pleats like fifteen times, tried easing the fabric around the circle, etc, etc, etc. Finally, I just said “screw it” and cut about 1/2″ from the insert pieces all the way around and sewed it up. I figured if things were off down the road I’d deal with them then.

Hooray! I made it work!

But it all worked out from there! Everything went smoothly! And I put in one of my new labels I got in Virginia.

I put it on and decided wrapping the tie around my waist twice added too much bulk to my (nonexistent) waist, so decided just to tie it once in the back. Much better! But now the ties were almost dragging on the ground. I wore the dress out last weekend and just tied a bow. Later, I cut about 18″ off each of the ties. May have to cut more off, we’ll see.

Also, the neckline is way too low for my comfort, so I need to tack it in place a bit. I used a safety pin when I wore it.

I made Terry take a picture of me at her house, so here you go!

Voila!

It’s been too long

What’s up? Why haven’t I been blogging? Is it that life is boring? Maybe a little. I mean, not that that’s a bad thing. Or maybe it’s been busy? Or maybe I just don’t want to sit in front of my computer when I’m not working? Maybe all of those things all at once?

(I started this post two days ago. What is wrong with me?)

Okay, here’s some random stuff we’ve been doing:

I chaperoned a field trip to the swamp and we saw lots of gators! Yay! Finally!

I finally sent Kiki the skirt we bought the fabric for in January. Egads. Look at the frogs and the flies!

The boys and I did a 5K! Oliver and Linus ran the whole thing (!) and finished in about 34 minutes. Miles and I walked with Jen and Ethan and took about twice that. It was fun. Oh, and it was the Pink Bra Run to raise money for breast cancer research, hence the…bra on the outside of my clothes.

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The boys had an end-of-season soccer party. It was kind of sad, but also cemented all of the reasons in my head we decided not to do competitive soccer again next year. I mean, we may go back one day, but probably not to the same club. Anyway, the coach had shirts made for all the boys, which was so sweet.

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George and Rob celebrated their birthday and I made them a cake. (Chocolate stout.) Aren’t they cute?

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For Mother’s Day, I got cards from the boys (and breakfast from Chef Ollie!). Later I had poke for lunch (yum) and went to see a movie with Steph and Terry (our Mother’s Day tradition.) It was pretty nice.

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Look at this beauty! My aunt passed on to me my grandmother’s old sewing machine! Isn’t she beautiful? I’m still working on getting it sewing, but I am stuck on bobbins. I’ll figure it out. I also need a table to put it in. I found the one its sitting on, but it was made for a different machine, so I need the table to be modified so this machine will fit in it. Anyway. Soon, I hope to be sewing with it! It’s pretty incredible. It’s from 1950.

As far as Me Made May goes, it’s been a success in some ways, and a fail in others. A success in that I have worn something I’ve sewn every day. A fail because I haven’t taken pictures every day. But just picture this cardigan, which I absolutely adore, worn over everything, all the time, every day. It’s the Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan in this lemon knit I got at Joann’s. I’m obsessed. (Need to get a better pic, though.)

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Me Made May 2019 – week 1!

Just like last year, I’m participating in Me Made May, which is a very flexible sewing challenge because you can make up your own parameters. Mine are that I wear at least one item of clothing every day that I made, and that I post it on Instagram. That’s it. I don’t have to make anything new, and it doesn’t have to be something different every day.

So here’s what I wore for the first seven days of May…

After the first day, I tried using a prop to have something to do with my hands in the hopes of taking photos of myself somewhat less awkward. It helped a little bit, but on day 3 I decided I would make the boys take them instead (or at least someone else.) So you’ll see a lot of pictures in the boys’ messy room since I might not remember until bedtime. And a prop can also be a human. 😀

I’m excited about week 2 – I made something new that you can get a sneak peek of if you follow me on Instagram. 🍋

Sewing clothes for myself again!

I feel like it’s been forever since I made something for myself (not counting the pink satin shorts I made for Mardi Gras, even though they are now in use as the most comfy pajama shorts ever) but I finally finished my first Ellis Skirt by Cashmerette.

The day the pattern came out, I ordered a kit complete with this beautiful dark blue stretch denim and the rivets and topstitching thread and all that good stuff. But there was no way I was going to cut right into it without practicing on a less precious fabric first. So I found some inexpensive gray stretch denim at Joann’s, and set to work.

Well. I mean, it’s an intermediate-level pattern, so it wasn’t easy. But it was fun. I set up two sewing machines (thank goodness I got another one!) as suggested – one with regular thread, and one with topstitching thread. That way, you’re not constantly changing out the thread.

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The pattern comes with two size variations, one for apple shapes, and one for pear shapes. I always assumed I was a pear, but after scrutinizing the measurements, I decided to go with the apple. (In all honestly, I’m more like a slice of bread. Kind of square.) And you can choose between two styles – one is a traditional jeans look with rivets and a jeans button and all that, but is knee-length with a slit up the front. The other has different details on top – it uses a slide fastener, and there’s some topstitching on the pocket area, but it’s short.

I wanted the jeans-style of the first style with the length of the second, so that’s what I made.

I could wait to blog about this after I finish the second skirt, but I learned a lot while making this, and I want to write it all down so I remember.

  1. The zipper. Oops. This is a big one. I somehow misread the instructions and it’s somehow shifted to the side a bit. It’s actually fine, it works, and when the skirt is all closed up, you can’t really tell. I don’t think. Maybe it looks off-center, but it’s not immediately obvious. I’ve since watched tutorials on installing the zipper, so I’m fairly confident I’ll get it right next time.
  2. Topstitching. There are a few things here I need to think about for the next time. First, I need to really figure out what the tension settings should be for each area of the skirt. In some parts, especially around the waistband, you’re sewing down several layers of denim and lining, and the stitches don’t look quite right. But it would probably need to be adjusted for other areas where you’re only sewing through one or two layers (pockets, hem, etc.) And for this skirt, I didn’t think too much about the pattern I stitched onto the pockets, but this is an area where you can really have fun! So I want to think harder about what I put on the pockets. Maybe a different thread color? Some kind of pattern? We’ll see.
  3. The dang button. I bought a pack of five or six jeans buttons from Joann’s and I destroyed three of them trying to hammer them in. What’s up with that? Why can’t they just screw in? Hmmph. I ended up having to repair the hole and just sew on a regular button. I hope rivets aren’t as difficult.

I guess those are the big things – doing a neater job with topstitching will go a long way towards making the next skirt a bit more polished. But if anyone has any tips for the button, please let me know.

Now for the awkward pics! I swear I wasn’t trying to make any particular face in any of these.

Detail shots:

PS This is random, but just a demonstration of what a small world this is…the model wearing the longer skirt is Meg, who is a prolific and awesome sewist I have been following ever since I started sewing. The crazy thing is, she is also good friends with George’s cousin! We were even at the same wedding a couple of years ago (before I started sewing, sadly.) Isn’t that random? So awesome.

Wrapping up my sabbatical

The last time I wrote about what I was up to was in late January, at the mid-point of my sabbatical. Oops. Today is actually a bonus day off – I have thought for the entire three months that I was going back to work today, but I’m actually going back tomorrow. My last day off is today. Score! I sure was smart way back when I requested my time off. I was pretty bummed when I realized I was going to be going back to work right after Mardi Gras break, with no down time from the boys being home from school for a week and a half. So it’s nice to have some quiet time today to straighten up the house and get some things done and just to chill.

SO. What have we been up to?

A lot, actually.

Let’s see if I can remember it all.

First, I want to say that I really thought my sabbatical would fly by. I guess to everyone else it has, but to me, it really hasn’t. It felt like three months. It felt like a nice long stretch of time. Mid-December feels like a long time ago. I think maybe it’s because I didn’t try to fill it with too much stuff. I really did relax and laze around a bunch. 😀 Continue reading

One year sewiversary!

One year ago I walked into Joann’s, picked out a pattern and some whale fabric and painstakingly sewed a skirt.

Backing up a little…a few days earlier, I posted on Facebook somewhat reluctantly looking for recommendations for an inexpensive sewing machine. I was reluctant because I knew my mom was going to bring up the old machine she had given me years ago. That machine scared me. It was old! It needed oil and stuff. I wanted something shiny and new that would have videos on YouTube and lots on online resources.

But I’m also impatient and cheap so I figured I’d just pull out the machine and give it one more try, and this time with the manual, before ordering something online.

Okay, this story is getting too long and I have a feeling I told it all before. So let me just cut to the chase. On February 18, 2018, I sewed my first item of clothing, and an obsession began. It didn’t turn out all that great. I didn’t know about finishing seams, so after I washed it, they all started fraying. Oops.

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Derp.

I made shirts, more skirts, pajama pants for the boys. I was pretty fearless. I discovered the world of indie sewing patterns and bought a serger off Facebook Marketplace so my seams stopped unraveling. In May, I participated in Me Made May and wore an item of clothing I sewed every day for the whole month. And I kind of never stopped. Even now I try to wear something every day that I sewed. Sometimes I forget, but it’s not a big deal. My wardrobe is probably 80% handmade by now, so it’s almost inevitable.

Back to that old sewing machine – I love it. I now realize that any sewing machine I could have afforded would have been a cheap plastic wobbly thing compared to this tank. Sure, it has its issues – I have to special order bobbins, and it doesn’t do fancy things like automatic buttonholes and it gets cranky when the bobbin thread runs low, but I’ve learned to deal with its quirks.

So what are my favorite things I’ve sewn so far?

 

But those are just the things I’ve made for myself. I’ve also enjoyed sewing for other people.

And I’ve had fun sewing bags and scarves and scrunchies and pillowcases too. Why not?

So what’s next? I have bins and bins of fabric and probably a dozen patterns that are waiting to be used. I’m most excited about the Cashmerette Ellis denim miniskirt – I even have rivets! And a bathing suit pattern that I’ve been sitting on, but definitely want to make it for this summer. And a pretty border pattern fabric that’s probably destined for a skirt, but I kind of want to make something more unexpected with it, but I’m just not sure yet. And that pink art deco sequin fabric that I bought almost a year ago but I’m terrified to mess up, oh and there’s the silk brocade that I bought in Singapore…and on and on.

So yeah, I think I have plenty to keep me busy for another year of sewing at least!

All in all, I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come in a year. I’m not scared of knits or zippers. I have come to embrace my shape instead of being ashamed of it. Instead of dreading trying to find a dress or a skirt, I can just make one! It’s incredibly freeing. I was in Real Simple! I helped bring attention to an amazing online community! It’s been so great, and I can’t wait to see how much I can do in the upcoming year. (Let’s see if I can tackle that bathing suit…)