Thursday, 27 December 2012

A (Sewing) Review of 2012 and Goals for 2013

I'm kind of glad 2012 is almost over, to be honest. It's not been a stellar year for me on a personal level, and the few things that seem to have been good about this year are heavily, heavily outweighed by the bad (illness, death in the family, PhD gloom). Roll on 2013, I say!

Bags and Accessories in 2012

I started the year only really sewing bags and the odd scarf. I do love making bags, and I am glad to keep it up by selling them on Etsy. I don't sell very many via the shop -- a couple a month at most -- but, along with commissions and gifts and things for myself, the shop sales are just enough to keep it ticking over as a hobby I can indulge in without ending up with WAY more bags than any woman needs. In total I made about thirty bags, pouches, clutches and scarves this year. I put all my photos in my 2012 Bags and Accessories Flickr set, but these are my four favourite:
Upper row: Olivia by ChrisW Designs in grey denim (a gift for my sister-in-law -- my review); City Tote (free pattern) by Martina with plastic handles in brown and turquoise.
Lower Row: Katie Bag by iThinksew in red faux suede; and Tulip bag from Sew Serendipity: Bags (book) in white, brown and black wool.

I'm pretty happy with my bag-making, to be honest. As far as the shop is concerned, I have a decent idea of what sells and what doesn't at this point, so I know what to keep making. I'd also like to make more bags for me and as gifts from the more complicated end of the pattern range. I enjoy making the complicated bags best, I think, although they are very time consuming.

I'm still a real novice when it comes to clothes. I've only made a handful of garments and I have SO MUCH to learn. This is simultaneously exciting and alarming. I've really only been sewing garments since April this year, and I took several months off in the middle of the year while I was ill. I feel like the number one thing I need to learn though is how to a really exceptional finish on my clothes. I know from learning to make bags that finish is a function of both practice and time spent working on getting it right.

This year, I really only successfully made three types of things: PJs, skirts, and tops (knits and wovens). I also made a wadder of a dress and a couple of muslins of woven tops.

PJs: New Look 6321: Hippo shorts (far left) (review) and white and blue raglan knit top (far right) (review); Ottobre 05-2011-02 "Sweet Dreams" shorts (review) in red and blue plaid; and a no pattern (it's just a giant rectangle) blue velour caftan dressing gown.

 Skirts (from left to right): Simplicity 8664 straight skirt (review) (I also only partially successfully made a second version); Ottobre 05-2007-04 A-line skirt (review); Simplicity 3881 skirt with a ruffle (review); Simplicity 5351 gored skirt (review)
Tops: (far left) New Look 6025 (review) woven dolman sleeved top; (second from left and second from right) Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee (purple and white/turquoise) (review); (middle) Imagewear M1152 draped neck knit top (review) and (far right) Ottobre 05-2010-01 yoke-necked knit top (review).

As far as finding the things I made useful is concerned, the outcome is a bit mixed. I made the skirts for work and then was too sick to actually start work, so I haven't worn them at all unfortunately. By contrast, I wear all my PJs except the hippo shorts very regularly. The hippo shorts are made from a fabric that is intended for home dec. It's very lightweight home dec, but really it's just not soft enough to wear in bed comfortably.

My absolute favourite top is my purple Maria Denmark tee, which I wear pretty much every week. My least favourite top is probably the MyImage draped neck knit. It's not a bad top, in the sense that it is sewn quite well and it's a perfectly nice pattern, but I have worn it several times and I now remember why I just don't like draped neck tops. I am constantly fussing with the neckline and it's awful under jumpers and jackets, bunching up really unattractively. I MUST remember that before I get involved in making any more drapey neckline tops! I've worn the other three less, for various reasons.

Looking ahead

In 2013, I want to keep my goals simple: plan well and sew carefully. Rather than list all the things I want to do and make, I think it's better to say what I'd like to think about sewing at the end of 2013. I'd really like it if, when I look back at 2013, I decided that on balance I'd sewn useful additions to my wardrobe. I'd like to feel that sewing was a hobby that made me happy, not stressed. I'd also like to feel like I'd improved my skills levels and could see that I could do more at the end of the year than at the beginning, and that the bags and clothes I've made reflect that I've taken the time and trouble to sew them to the best of my abilities.

In practice, I think the best way to plan well is to do a little monthly plan like I did in December. That worked really well for me. So probably my next post will be my Plan For January.

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