Ok, first things first, I have to give a shoutout to Carolyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic because her post totally inspired me to do a decade-long look back at my sewing. It’s actually a pretty great time for me to do this because I got my first sewing machine in May of 2009 – so I have just enough to have a full decade of sewing to look back on!
Looking at my sewing really does tell the story of where I’ve been in my life the past 10 years – I was so much more prolific when I ended my time as a grad student, and was using this hobby to keep me sane and happy while I was still processing how I felt at the end of my time as a student. You can see from my chart below that my production output really jumped when I started making a lot of skating costumes on commission to help keep me financially afloat during that weird patch after grad school, while I was working odd jobs and actively participating as a competitive skater. It has sort of tapered off the past few years until this year when I’ve finally gotten that mythical “adult job” and had to rearrange my priorities a bit. I doubt I’ll go back to the time of making 80+ garments in a year, but I also hope I could possibly get back to making something around 20 garments per year – that would be so helpful for my wardrobe right now!
Of course, because of the commissions, the majority of things that I made were skating costumes. In an unscientific way, I’ve used the search function to see how many times these garment types pop up on my directory of sewn garments, and you can see that “skating” just dominates the field, though because I often write “skating dress” the dresses category is perhaps a bit inflated depending on your definition of “dress”:
Similarly, when I include the patterns I’ve used for skating garments, Burda, Jalie, and Kwik Sew are all heavily favored, because I’ve used a few of their patterns many, many times, but I think that makes the numbers for BurdaStyle Magazine all the more impressive because all of those patterns have been garments for me or my sister:
I know I’m a bit of a graph junkie… but I actually find the chart about sewn garments by year to be incredibly informative. I think it really does show how much outside life events impact my sewing output. Also, it’s interesting to note that the Big 4 were used in pretty equal measure (between 10-20 patterns over the past 10 years), whereas my BurdaStyle patterns far exceeded that number. Also, there are about 4 patterns I’ve used dozens if not hundred of times for commissioned skating costumes, so I have to say that those patterns were spectacularly good investments!
Anyway, here’s a look back at my top makes from the past decade!
This coat is sort of the garment that started it all! It’s not the first thing I sewed, but when I got my sewing machine I was set on using it for skating outfits and cosplay costumes, and that was going to be it. But I sort of fell in love with the idea of this Butterick coat, and had to make it. So it was the first “non-costume” garment I ever made. Of course I couldn’t start with something simple like a skirt. I didn’t wear skirts in grad school. To be honest, I didn’t have anywhere to wear this either, but my brain settled on making it, so here it exists. It doesn’t look too bad in the photo, but, honestly, it was pretty terrible. I used completely the wrong interfacing, I had no idea how to finish edges so it was itchy through the lining, and I completely overdid my fit alterations. I also bought a “Couture Techniques” book as my first point of sewing instruction, so this totally had layered back and shoulder stays with bias cut interfacings and the world’s worst bound buttonholes. In hindsight what I did was totally nuts, but it started me on this journey of loving to sew, so I guess it was worth it!
This was probably the first garment I’d sewn where I was really happy with the fit, fabrication, and finishing. I’m sure I could do a better job now, but this was a last-minute make to wear to a wedding after my original plan turned into a dumpster fire, and it started my love affair with BurdaStyle Magazine!
In 2012 I was attempting to do a Tim Gunn inspired sewing challenge, and I made this amazing Little Black Dress! It no longer fits, as I’ve changed proportions quite a bit as I moved from my early 20s to my early 30s, but I really did love this dress when I sewed it, and though I only wore it a few times, I felt super fashionable!
This is possibly my favorite skating dress that I’ve ever made. It has so much detail work with the appliqué and stoning, and I love peacock colors! It’s certainly a lot going on, but I loved it and really feel like it was sort of my personal culmination of skating creativity.
This dress was sort of an accidental hit – I’d made it as a nice practice dress, but everyone loved it so much that I ended up wearing it a lot! I think it is probably one of the classiest dresses I ever wore.
2015 was a bit of a dip for me as far as sewing output. In hindsight I realize this may have had to do with the fact that this was the year I seriously injured my back. I gained a lot of weight and was generally not feeling my best. I did love this Burda top though – it was a surprise hit that I wore a lot!
The irony of this whole sewing thing is that my goal was to be a cosplayer, and I ended up barely doing any cosplay! I did really enjoy this Frozen Jedi cosplay I did with my sister though – it was a super fun day and I will never forget it!
I feel like 2017 was really the year my sewing skills solidified; I made it to the final round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee and even won the second round with this dress! I also started playing more with finishing techniques and embellishments, and really making garments that had a lot more technical skill behind them.
I didn’t make a lot of garments for myself in 2018, but I think I love this dress the most. I used a lot of skills with both hand-sewing and the machine to get a nicely finished dress with a clever use of the lace edge for the neckline and the hem of the dress. I definitely want to make more fun garments like this moving forward!
2019 was very minimal as far as sewing output goes, but it was the year I really learned to understand line and shape with my Sew Your Kibbe series. This cardigan is the one garment I really made off my planned list for the year and I love it!
And that’s it! I’ve had such a great time learning to sew and participating in the sewing community over the past decade! I hope it shows in the pictures, but I think I’ve learned a lot and grown so much this decade – both in skills and in how much I’m willing to share with the internet! There’s definitely a confidence that has developed from this journey, and the fact that I’ve been able to apply it to other aspects of my life has been so beneficial to me. It’s been an amazing journey and I want to thank you all for sharing it with me!