Wednesday, 12 August 2015

My 4th Sewing-versary, and a sleeveless shirt (Ottobre 02-2006-4)

Today is the 4th anniversary of the day my shiny new sewing machine arrived on my doorstep! Whee!

I do know, of course, that it's a stupid milestone to celebrate, even in the mildest sense of "celebrate" where I mean "compose a rambling blog post on the topic". However, sewing has been such a rewarding hobby to have picked up that I do like to reflect on it a little bit. Since 2011 I've sewn a lot of bags, clothes and sundry other things, replaced that original basic sewing machine with something a bit more sophisticated, bought an overlocker, a coverstitch, far more fabric than I ever thought possible, more books, patterns and pattern magazines than I'll ever use, and a million other things. Who knew that first purchase was the gateway to a life-ruiningly expensive hobby that I would nevertheless love to pieces and get a huge charge from every single day? I seriously think that there isn't a day that goes by when I don't either sew or think about sewing in some way.

Unfortunately, since I've continued to be so ill for the last year I have not really had the ability or need to level up on the sewing front over the last 12 months. The fact of the matter is that my lifestyle has been very limited since my last sewing-versary. I'd love to be making outfits for work and parties and holiday capsule wardrobes, I really would, and not least of all because it would imply I was working, going to parties and able to go off on holiday. One day soon, maybe! In fact, let me just cross every finger, toe and other appendage I have that this time next year it's a whole different story and I'm talking about the new things I've had to learn to sew to fit in with a new, less sickly lifestyle.

That said, mainly-pyjama-wearing lifestyle notwithstanding, I have moved on a BIT since this time last year. The biggest stride forward, when I look at the things I've made since August 2014, has been an increasing level of comfort with working with woven fabrics for my upper body. Shirts and shirt-making were a big sewing ambition for me from the start of my garment sewing adventures and since last August I've made really quite a lot of different woven tops. They haven't all been wholly successful, but there's definitely been a learning curve I've been climbing up this last year that seems to be working for me.

Ottobre 02-2006-04 Sleeveless blouse in red polka dots
As it happens, the latest garment I finished precisely exemplifies where I think I am with my sewing compared to my last sewing-versary. This is a simple little sleeveless blouse from Ottobre (more specifically, it's Ottobre 02-2006-04). I don't wear too many sleeveless tops due to an (annoying, I'm-such-a-tool-of-the-patriarchy-ugh) lack of confidence about showing off my upper arms, but I decided I wanted one in my wardrobe for this summer. I used 1m of crisp red polka dot cotton for the fabric. Something about red polka dots always screams retro!! to me, which isn't my style at all, but I bought it on a whim and I am quite pleased with how the combination of fabric and pattern worked out.

Little details: satin bias tape, collar points, contrast top stitching
On the one hand, there were aspects of construction that, in my opinion, really show the difference between now and a year ago. I've continued to really work on my seam finishes and my overall finish generally in my sewing over the last year. When I was making this shirt there were things I did almost automatically that improve the quality of the finish: flat-felling all the seams, making sure I got nice sharp points on my collar, working my seams and top-stitching so that it rolls slightly over to the underside of the collar, and so on. Nobody will ever notice those details except me, but I really am quite proud of them.

But what is causing that little wrinkle on my shoulders? So annoying!
On the other hand, there are a few things that are not quite right with this top, and all of them come down to that perpetual sewing bugbear: fit. The bust darts are just a little too high and a bit too long. I could have done with an extra 1-2cm at the rear hip. There's something not entirely right through the shoulder but I'm damned if I know what the problem is or how to fix it. I like my shirt, but it's imperfect, to sat the least. Still, an imperfectly fitted shirt is better than I managed last year, when shirt-making was still an optimistic dream of a project rather than any kind of reality!

I make a lot of resolutions and plans on this blog (not many of which I actually carry out!) so I don't feel any need to do any more of that here except for one: I really hope that in a year's time I am still saying how much I enjoy sewing and how glad I am that I suddenly decided, back in August 2011, that it would be a fun thing to do.


  1. Happy Sewing-versery! Keep up the great work! I love your red dot sleeveless shirt. It looks very nice on you! See me @