Monday, 21 December 2015

2015 In Review: Things That I Made

This is part of my 2015 in review posts, which started with How I Spent My Money.


First up, some numbers, because it wouldn't be me if I didn't lead with the numbers.

This year I acquired 57 garments in total (compared to 78 in 2014). I discarded 86 garments, so overall my wardrobe shrank by just over 10% compared to 01/01/15.

Of the 57 garments added to my wardrobe, I sewed 34, knitted 1 and bought 22. My goal this year was to make (rather than buy) about two thirds of my wardrobe acquisitions, and I am going to call it good enough that I made just over 60% of them. This is about the same proportions as last year, and I am quite satisfied that that is a sewing/RTW mix that suits me for now

My RTW purchases were mainly trousers -- linen trousers for summer, cords and jeans for winter --  a handful of knit tops in styles I don't want to sew or fabrics that I can't source (especially wicking fabric for active wear), plus a couple of other random things, plus also lingerie.

Of these, the thing I'd at least like to have the option of making is trousers. I haven't really worked on fitting trousers yet though and a major fitting project like that is outside of my capabilities at my current level of health, so for the time being RTW is really my best option. Luckily, I don't find it overly challenging to buy stuff that fits at least reasonably well and this year I was also able to get some new-with-the-labels-still-on thrift buys that worked out really well. I did discard one thing I bought this year due to poor fit.

Of the 35 things I made over the course of the year, I discarded 4 more or less immediately due to poor fit (2) or poor fabric choice (2), and another 2 after about 6 months worth of wear. I'm not super excited by my attrition rate among my hand-made garments, but on the other hand I'm not going to keep something in my wardrobe if it doesn't work for me or looks ragged just because I made it.

Patterns used

I used 24 different sewing patterns to make my 34 sewn garments this year. Of those, 18 patterns were completely new to me this year, and I made 23 garments from them. The remaining 6 patterns (11 garments) I had used in previous years.

My 24 patterns came from 10 different pattern sources. Half my patterns came from issues of my two favourite sewing magazines: Ottobre (7 patterns) and Burda (5 patterns). I made up 7 traditional envelope patterns (3 New Look, 2 Butterick, 1 Kwik Sew, 1 Burda envelope. (I also produced a total wadder with a Simplicity pattern). From the indies, I made 2 StyleArc, 1 HotPatterns and 1 Wiksten. I also drew up one (extremely simple) pattern based on a RTW garment. This distribution between the types of pattern sources is pretty consistent to last year.

Garment outcomes

You can see everything I made in 2015 by category here on my completed project page for the year.

FAVOURITES: 3 garments
Favourites: Burda 03-2014-124, StyleArc Estelle, Burda Classics 2013 005B

My absolute favourite thing I made in 2015 is my Burda 03-2014-124 rolled-cuff blue gingham summer blouse. If I regret anything it's that I didn't have enough fabric or the foresight to make proper long sleeves with cuffs so I could wear it year round. I love it partly because I really like the fabric (an inexpensive but extremely nice 100% cotton gingham) and partly because I really like the design, especially the shape and fit of the collar and the spiffy button placement. I plan to use this pattern again for sure. This was my most-worn woven top this summer.

I also really love my black and white lace print StyleArc Estelle cardigan. I made a blue one as well that I also like but overall I like the black and white fabric more. This was the first StyleArc pattern I tried and it went together beautifully and it is very easy to wear as a layering piece.

My third favourite garment is another Burda pattern, this time the only skirt I made this year: Burda Classics 2013 005B. I had SO many problems sewing the hem on this full skirted maxi and it's very far from perfect if you look at it critically, but it's still lovely to wear. I made it from a very lightweight green paisley fabric that floats and twirls perfectly. I wore this skirt frequently through the summer months.


StyleArc Issy, Ottobre 05-2011-11, Ottobre 02-2006-04: Good, but not quite favourites

The black and blue StyleArc Issy top might not have a huge longevity -- after a few washes the inexpensive viscose fabric is already not looking great, which is why it's not in the favourites section -- but it's a lovely top to wear and I love the cowl neck design, which I think is highly flattering.

I've worn the blue and white blobby Ottobre 05-2011-11 top less because it's not such a great layering piece, though I'll get more wear out of it in spring I hope. It misses on being a favourite because of the problems with the facings that persist in wear (they tend to pull just a little), but it's still a really great top.

Another top I really liked was a red sleeveless blouse I made using Ottobre 02-2006-04. I only wore this twice because we didn't get the weather for sleeveless shirts after I made it, which is why it's not in favourites -- it hasn't quite stood the test of time or washing yet. However, I really like the way it turned out and the fit is surprisingly flattering for a shirt that looks so boxy on my tailor's dummy.


Three of my five uses of a modified pattern based on New Look 6150 this year
A lot of people say they can't be arsed to make t-shirt type knit tops, and I can definitely see that if you can buy inexpensive, moderately good quality tees that fit you then it's probably pointless to make them. However, I like my tees a very specific length and shape that I find difficult to find in shops at a good price. Thus, I have made my t-shirt sloper based on New Look 6150 (link to tag) eight times now, including making five this year, and it comes out perfectly every time. I wear these tops constantly and I love them. Tragically my favourite from this year, the navy stripe in the middle above, has gone saggy and sad as the fabric was poor quality and I washed it a LOT this summer.

Also boring but incredibly useful: I made a TON of pyjamas this year with various patterns, but most notably Butterick 5704 (PJ trousers), Burda 8271 (PJ capris), and Ottobre 05-2011-02 (PJ shorts). These are all workhorse patterns for me that I will continue to use every time I need PJs. None of them are at all glamorous but they work really well and I love them.

I also made a couple of pairs of loungewear type knit trousers using Burda 11-2005-127 that I've worn and washed to the point of extinction. I actually don't know if I'll make the pattern again because I fancy using a different pattern when I make some replacements early next year, but these have been wardrobe staples for days at home in cool weather.


Butterick 5826, New Look 6407, Ottobre 02-2010-17, Kwik Sew 3555
I really wanted to like my blue and brown paisley pullover top made with Butterick 5826, and I actually did wear it several times early in the year because I liked the fabric so much. However, I fought with the pattern the whole time I was making it and would never voluntarily make it up again. It's also really not great to wear: the fit is off and the sewing problems I had with the neckline don't look any better for the top having been washed a few times. It did not survive the most recent wardrobe cull.

New Look 6407 was another disaster throughout when making it. I struggled with the vertical darts, fit and facings. I tried wearing it once only and halfway through the day I ripped it off and put something else on because I hated it so much. It went straight in the bin and I have no plans to revisit this pattern.

Another 'I wore it, but..." garment is this white pin-tucked blouse I made using Ottobre 02-2010-17. I really liked the idea of this but the pattern was much more oversized than I anticipated and although I wore it a few times I never liked how it fit. The fabric is so very sheer and lightweight that it doesn't hold the shape of the shirt at all and after a couple of washes it turned into a rag. It too went in the recycling when I last reviewed my wardrobe.

Most disappointing of all though is the short-sleeved shirt I made with Kwik Sew 3555 in green checked linen. Earlier in 2015 I had made the long-sleeved version of the shirt in blue polycotton quite successfully, although the high poly content of the fabric makes it sweaty to wear. For this version I used this (very expensive) fabric that I bought while I was living in Ireland. I really thought it would make a great shirt. However, the hand of the linen turned out not to be ideal for a shirt and after I first wore it, it shrank in the wash despite two pre-washes. Even more disastrously, one of the yoke seams unravelled horribly as well and I had to do a very ham-fisted patch job. I am so reluctant to discard this shirt after only wearing it a couple of times because I loved this fabric, but I am not sure I will ever wear it much as it's too short and the yoke seam is a mess. I've left it in my wardrobe for now but I may well discard it when summer 2016 rolls around.


A selection of indifference, failures and other stuff
Unwearable muslin, then wearable but indifferent version 2: I made two versions of the HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Tee. The first, a turquoise "wearable muslin" was, in fact, an unwearable muslin as it was entirely too low cut. I think I wore it twice before I discarded it. However, the second version, in grey animal print, while still lower in the neckline than I like, turned out much better and I wore it a good number of times through the summer. The neckline is too chilly for me in the autumn and winter though.

Indifferent: Boob vortex tee (Ottobre 05-2012-11) -  I wore this a reasonable number of times this summer but the fabric shrank a bit in the wash despite pre-treatment and the pattern never 100% worked for me. I'll replace it next year. Also indifferent: New Look 6890 nightdress.

My choices are baffling: Backshore sweater (knitted). But WHY did I knit a 3/4 sleeve DK sweater? If it's cold enough for a DK weight sweater then it is cold enough to need warm arms! I did wear it a few times in the autumn but it's a sweater of limited use.

Why did I make this?: Wiksten tank in green cotton voile. I hate tank tops and can't think why I made one, especially of this nearly see through cotton voile. It is no longer in my wardrobe. 

Worst fabric ever: Green flames top - surely the itchiest fabric in the world. I wore this Ottobre "Summer Basics" top once and then got rid of it after spending the whole day feeling like I was wearing a hair shirt. Dreadful.

Adventures in Extreme Wadders: I reviewed, even though it was never finished or added to my wardrobe, a dreadful knit top wadder made with Simplicity 1063.

OVERALL, I'm not sure if it was it a good year or a bad year for sewing outcomes. I (mostly) enjoyed myself making everything that I made, which included some other random things as well on top of the garments described here -- I sewed a quilt, blinds, some tote bags and a handbag, and I knitted scarves, shawls and a hat. I very often think that the pleasure I usually get from the process of sewing outweighs the outcomes anyway. So I am willing to call 2015 a good year for sewing, even if not everything turned out well, and nothing at all turned out perfectly (not that it ever will). :D


  1. I love reading end-of-year reviews. It's too bad the NL blouse pattern didn't work out, but you have a TNT in the BurdaStyle top for sure!

    1. I love them too! I do love that Burda top. It makes me keen to try out some more woven top patterns from the magazines.

  2. I too love yearly wrap-ups!

    I really do think you had a great year! I mean, when DOES the time come where every sewing project turns out perfectly?? perfect fabric, perfect pattern, perfect fit, perfect stitching? Blurgh. ;-)

    I really loved that Burda maxi and so glad it made it into your top picks!

    1. That Burda skirt, the hem was so grim to do but it was totally worth it in the end.