I’ve always done an end of the year sewing wrap-up post, but this year I was inspired to do a #sewingtop5 post by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow. It doesn’t really change much from what I’ve done in years past, but it does offer some guidelines as well as add to the community feel of the sewing blogs. I haven’t done that much personal sewing this year, so I don’t really have a Top 5 for each of the categories, but I will include what I can in the spirit of #sewingtop5.
By the Numbers
Just so we have some basis of what we dealing with as a pool for the Top 5, I’ve done a little graphical analysis. Looking back at this year, I’ve made:
- 5 Tops
- 3 Pants
- 0 Jumpsuit
- 0 Skirts
- 1 Dress
- 1 Coats/Jackets
- 2 Sweaters/Cardigans
- 0 Skating Costumes (for me)
- 26 Skating Costumes (for others)
- 0 Other Athletic Gear
- 0 Costumes/Cosplay
- 1 Home Dec/Crafts
- 2 Refashion
Total Items Sewn = 41
Total Items Sewn for Me = 12
Last year I made 46 items, so not quite as productive this year. I do think my skating costume game has gone up a notch though; I used an airbrush on quite a few costumes, and while it is far from perfect, I am pretty excited by the possibilities this new technique has added to my costuming arsenal. I haven’t done nearly as much personal sewing, but I do think the things I have sewn are more useful in the context of my overall wardrobe, and I think they’ve helped me grow closer to that ever illusive idea of having a defined personal style.
Here’s a graphical breakdown of what I’ve made by type, pattern company, and “success” of the item:
I made a lot of tops this year, which is good because I need tops. Like, desperately need tops. I made most of these because I participated in the 6 piece mini wardrobe contest on Pattern Review, which required 3 tops. Honestly, half of my output this year came from that contest, so that’s telling on how busy I’ve been with other things.
I’m actually pretty impressed by my mix of pattern companies this year. Of course BurdaStyle Magazine is my #1 pattern brand (and if you include the Burda envelope patterns, Burda is half of my makes for the year), but I love their styles and the fit of their patterns, so that makes sense. I’m a bit surprised Butterick beat out the other brands for the #2 spot, but with everything else coming in with a single pattern use, it’s not really that much more significant. In any case, my stash feels vindicated. Perhaps not the quantity of my stash, but the variety of my stash gets a pass.
It’s been a pretty successful sewing year for me; I really like most of the items I’ve made. Even the item that is in the “bad fabric” category gets a lot of wear. The “haven’t worn it” items are from my The Magicians stealth cosplay set; I’m saving those for an event next year, so hopefully they should get some use soon.
And with that, on to the top 5’s!
Top 5 Skills Acquisitions
(5) Coverstitch. My machine is not new to me, but I found a fantastic YouTuber who has great videos on how best to use the machine. I love it so much more now! And I finally understand how to properly remove a garment from the machine!
(4) Organization. I’m working on organizing my fabric stash, but I’m very happy with how my pattern stash is currently set up. Finding a pattern now is much easier for me than it used to be. My digital organization has been quite good, but now my physical storage is equally as useful.
(3) New finishing techniques. One of my major goals has been to neaten up my garment insides, and I really felt I made a step up in that regard this year with a more liberal use of bias tape and attention to detail. Also, my elastic bindings in skating costumes are now super flat, which is really awesome too.
(2) Digitizing. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I have been taking online classes to up my digitizing game. I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve been able to digitize logos and embroider them on our Lightspeed team apparel.
(1) Airbrushing. I’ve been wanting to airbrush skating costumes for a while now, and I’ve finally used that technique to great effect this year. Some of my costumes even went to the world championships!
Top 5 Sewcializing “Events”
(5) Blog reading. I’ve fallen off my blog reading a bit in the past few years, but I’ve been making more of an effort to not just read, but comment on blogs that I really enjoy. It’s been fun to have more of a community feel again. Sewing commissioned projects has sort of hijacked my time to sew for myself, so I’m really enjoying vicariously sewing through reading other blog posts.
(4) #sewphotohop: This was my first time participating in a social media hashtag event. I wanted to do something in September for National Sewing month, and I thought this was a fun challenge. I will say it did take up a lot of my time, and has made me really appreciate how much effort professional bloggers must put into their social media. I did complete the challenge though, and I posted every day for a month!
(3) Pattern Review Mini Wardrobe Contest: This really urged me to sew a mini collection early in the year, which ultimately helped me discover my style identity, and helped me produce the majority of my selfish sewing garments for the year.
(2) Sew Your Kibbe blog series: I’ve had so many lovely comments! I really feel like it’s grown a community around my blog, and I am so thankful for how nice and supportive everyone has been towards that series.
(1) Costume-Con 36: This is a traveling convention for costumers. Similar to Costume College, except it travels around the country, and sometimes even internationally. This year I was lucky enough for it to be held in San Diego – close enough to minimize travel expenses and to justify going. I didn’t actually have time to create/pack/wear any costumes to the convention, but I am so glad I went. I learned so much about new techniques, tips, and tricks, I got to meat lots of nice people who love to create things, and I got to see tons of gorgeous costumes. It was a unique experience and I’m so happy I decided to go!
Top 5 Misses
I’m not saying these items are total fails (it’s been a good sewing year for me!), but compared to my other makes this year they just didn’t quite hit the same level of success.
(5) My Image Blue Sweater Top (Fabric Fail)
Ok, so I’m going to preface this by saying I love this sweater, and I wear it a lot, but I do have to acknowledge that this fabric was a pain to work with, it has serious stripe matching issues, and there is a permanent wrinkle where the fabric bunched up while I was fusing the interfacing to the neck bands. Probably my sloppiest make of the year, but I love the color and the style, and the fabric is soft and cozy, so it still gets worn a ton.
(4) Ginger Jeans (Fit Fail)
This was my first attempt at making jeans, so (as the kids say) I’m not mad at it. I think my sewing technique is pretty good, and I really love the finish on the inside. And I used pretty purple serger thread for contrast, so I’m happy every time I open them up. However, I think it is pretty irrefutable that the fit is not everything it could be. The waist is a bit high, the length of the back yoke just looks awkward on me, and there is a lot of wrinkles happening below the bum. The fabric is also awkwardly stiff, and hasn’t softened in the wash as I thought it would. They aren’t my most comfortable jeans, so I don’t automatically reach for them the way I do with my RTW jeans. I look at this project as a win in terms of skill acquisition, but a fail in terms of fit.
(3) Blue/Black Lace Top (Style Fail)
I made this top as part of my Sew Geeky fall challenge, and I’m really, really pleased with the construction and fabrication. However, I think it perhaps isn’t my perfect style of top. It is a bit stiff when I wear it, and I’m finding I prefer looser garments with more movement. I still like this top, and I think if I style it with a longer, more flowing skirt and a looser cardigan/jacket that I could have a really cute outfit that I would enjoy wearing, but I’m realizing that these more fitted styles aren’t my favorite things to wear anymore because I feel really constricted.
(2) Sew Geeky Winter Plans
This is a fail simply because I didn’t get to any of them. My time has been taken up with skating things and finishing up other sewing projects, but I did really like this collection I put together.
(1) Sew Geeky Summer Plans
This is a fail for the same reason as #2, except it’s worse because I was so excited to sew this collection! I might come back around to this at some point, because I really, really want to make some of these garments!
Top 5 Hits
Honorable Mention: Quartet Costumes
These costumes took over 90 hours of work to create, but they were totally worth it. I’m so excited that they made it to the world championships!
(5) Maleficent Sweater Top
I haven’t had a lot of chances to wear this, but I really like it. This was one of those fabrics I had to buy and sew right away.
(4) Burda Purple Pants
I love this style of pants! I don’t wear these often because they can be a bit “much” for a day-to-day look, but I think they are pretty fabulous. They are also perfect for my Hunchback inspired collection. I’m totally making a top to Disneybound with them next year.
(3) Teal Top
I thought this might be a bit of a “fashion risk” and it’s ended up being my go-top top. I wear it everywhere – travel, parties, work… Everywhere! I love it! It’s also the top that made me reconsider being a Kibbe Soft Classic and realize that I was actually a Soft Natural. The color is perfection and it is so soft and comfortable.
(2) Rainbow Jacket
This relaxed jacket had been on my sewing wish list for a while, and I’m so pleased with it. It’s easy, comfortable, and I think my quality of sewing is quite good (if I do say so myself). Plus, my friends all want to steal it, so that’s a good sign too, I think.
(1) Red Lace Dress
I made this dress sort of last minute to wear to a wedding, but by this point it’s been to 2 weddings and a few other special events. This rayon lace has been in my stash for quite a while, and I think this was the perfect use for it. I really love this dress, it is so comfortable! The photos I have really don’t do justice to the color (it’s a muted purple over a bright red), but I think it is such an interesting combination. I know there’s often criticism that “frosting” pieces don’t get worn enough to justify making them, but this dress definitely disproves that myth.
Top 5 Reflections
(5) I really enjoy blogging. It’s sort of weird, because I know I don’t want to be a professional blogger in any way, but writing the Sew Your Kibbe series has made me realize that I really enjoy researching and putting together informational posts. I know that blogging in general has sort of fallen off as more people are turning to alternative forms of social media (Instagram, YouTube, podcasts, etc.), but I really enjoy having a long format space to really dig into ideas in depth. Probably in too much depth. But, as I have said before, I read epic fantasy. Brevity and I are not bedfellows.
(4) I really enjoy wardrobe planning, especially around a theme. While my Sew Geeky series was relatively unsuccessful in terms of garment production, I did learn a lot about what inspires me, how to put a collection together, and what traps I fall into when contemplating making a “cohesive” wardrobe. All useful information moving forward.
(3) My Kibbe type is Soft Natural! When I first learned about Kibbe I never would have guessed that I was any sort of Natural type, and I only really figured this out by accident this year when the Soft Classic recommendations really weren’t making sense for me, and when I failed to choose Classic styles for my Sew Geeky series. Ultimately, I’m going to have to reconsider what is currently in my wardrobe, what deserves to stay there, and what needs to be added. It should be fun!
(2) I need to hone in on my personal style. I’ve been contemplating this concept quite a bit in my Wardrobe Planning posts over the past two years, but I’m finally realizing what it means to have an image archetype/style slogan, and how that can really help you visualize how pieces will work together in a cohesive wardrobe. I’ve started using My Body Model croquis to visualize how garments will look together on my body, and I think it is really helping with plans moving forward.
(1) I need to prioritize doing sewing things for myself. I’ve been sewing a lot of commissioned costumes for others, and while I appreciate the extra income and I do enjoy planning costumes, I’ve been over extending myself quite a bit. The cycle is always the same; ignore the things I have to do until about February, grind nonstop until the end of July, collapse in a heap and not really want to sew at all until about the end of October, and repeat. It’s not sustainable. I need to be more realistic with my time and abilities, and I need to stop saying yes to everything. I’m at the age where sleep in no longer optional, and I’m looking at upcoming life changes that will likely impact the amount of time I have to give to sewing. I expect I’ll be at a point where I will have to decide if I want to sew for me or if I want to sew for others, because I won’t have time to do both, and I don’t want this to stop being a hobby I enjoy and become just a small side business.
Top 5 Goals for 2019
(5) Take better blog photos. I’ve been watching photography courses on Bluprint, and I want to use this information to take better photos for the blog. Tangentially, this may also play into me wanting to update the look and feel of the blog a bit, which I’ve been working on.
(4) Become a better digitizer for embroidery designs. I’m working on this, but I’d really love to have a better working knowledge of what I’m doing, and be more proficient with my digitizing software. I’m going to keep taking the online courses I’ve been using, but I perhaps need to set aside more dedicated time to improve this skill.
(3) Purge and organize my fabric stash. It really has become overwhelming. I love my fabric stash, but I’m at the point where I think what I really want is a curated fabric stash. I have a much clearer picture of what types of garments I want, and what types of fabrics and colors will help me achieve that. The amount I have has outgrown the space I can practically use to store it, and it really needs to be organized and sorted in a manageable way.
(2) Spend more time sewing for me. I didn’t manage to make as many selfish sewing items as I wanted to this year, and now that I’ve got a much clearer vision of what I want my wardrobe to be, I think that needs to change for next year.
(1) Complete my 2019 sewing challenge! I will post more details on January 1, so please come back to learn more about it then!
2018 Final Thoughts
2018 has been a pretty good year sewing wise. It hasn’t been the most productive year for me by any means, but I think the quality of what I’m making is increasing, and that’s definitely worth celebrating. I’ve spent more time planning and contemplating what I want to be wearing, and by extension sewing those items for the most part, which is important since my output has been so much lower this year. It has given me clarity on styles I want to focus on moving forward, which is really helping me focus my magpie love of all the shiny things down to a manageable, curated list of garments that I know I both want to sew and wear. Which was essentially the goal of most of my sewing related efforts this year, so in that sense I’m going to consider 2018 to have been a really successful sewing year, and look forward to the next!