Looking back and sewing forward….

I know, I know, you’ve read a ridiculous amount of New Year round up posts and I’m a bit late to the party, but in my defense we were away from just after Christmas until 2nd Jan spending the New Year break in France and today was the first day back at work so to be honest I’m just shocked I’m not already asleep with my head in my dinner!

A lovely New Years Day visit to the beach in France
A lovely New Years Day visit to the beach in France

beach 1

It was lovely to finish the year away with my husband, just the two of us relaxing and stuffing our faces with bread and cheese whilst drinking copious amounts of wine. I got some last minute end of year sewing in as well, so a pretty perfect way to end 2015.


I spent some time reflecting on the year, especially my sewing and what I have learnt and achieved. I started sewing in February having not touched a sewing machine for about 15 years. There was no particular aim and I didn’t have any expectations, I thought I’d just give it a try and I have to say it was one of the best decisions I could’ve made. I love everything about sewing; it helps me focus and relieves stress – when I’m sewing I going into my own little world and thoughts of anything else are pushed out. Sometimes the sewing itself causes stress; some swearing and over zealous seam ripping, but that in itself is a challenge which is what helps to hold my interest. I get such a sense of achievement from sewing, and have already discovered so many other amazing sewists and a whole new community. It sounds a bit extreme but I feel like it’s opened up a whole new world to me! Anyway the fact that you’re reading this blog means I’m probably preaching to the choir, so I’ll get on with the post! It’s a mishmash of Crafting A Rainbow’s Top 5, and it pretty long so grab a drink…or just scan for photos!

The first thing that struck me when looking back on 2015, was how I’ve made so much more than I thought! There were 35 finished garments;

  • 14 dresses
  • 2 skirts
  • 3 pairs of trousers (one was my ill fated first make of some pj bottoms that ripped in the crotch the first time I wore them!
  • 12 tops
  • 1 blazer
  • 1 coat
  • 2 pairs of knickers (Liberty frillies if you don’t mind!)

I’m really pleased with the variety of garments I’ve made and how much the finish and quality has improved since starting out, definitely helped by my having a much better understanding of fabric types and how important the right choice is (see buying so much fabric served multiple purposes!) and getting my overlocker in September. Having personalised labels also makes me smile!

Reflections and Goals

  • I bought a LOT of fabric! I wouldn’t say too much, you can’t ever have too much fabric, but I definitely learnt that fabric choice is paramount. It doesn’t matter if it’s got the best print on it, if the colour of it is going to make my skin look jaundiced! This year I am going to try and shop my stash a lot more and only purchase fabric that is great quality and really wearable.
  • The fabric shops’ gains have been the High Streets’ loss. I hardly bought any RTW clothes in the last half of the year as my sewing output increased. I was quite shocked at how quickly it happened, but thinking “I could make that” puts me off buying, as does the terrible quality of a lot of the clothing for sale on the High Street. Never before had I noticed the crap finishing and wonky seams on so many RTW garments or been so turned off by cheap fabrics. For 2016, I plan to continue making as much of my wardrobe as I can – I would love to get to the point of wearing memade everyday but I think that might be a couple of years away.
  • Fit is everything! This one is a work in progress, it is so hard getting things to fit well, especially when pretty much nothing fits straight out of the pattern envelope. I’ve learnt that there really is no point in steaming in and making something without assessing the pattern, making any changes no matter how laborious (yes FBA, I mean you!!) and probably making a toile. Dull but better than ending up with a complete wadder after putting in lots of hard work. I’m taking this class at Ray Stitch in a couple of weeks and am really going to practice fit and try to learn more.
  •  Jersey and knits aren’t scary! Nor are sequins or wool, or any fabric except cotton which is what I stuck to religiously in the beginning. I don’t know what all the fuss was about! This year I’d like to try even more fabrics, with lace, silk and velvet on the list.
  • It’s OK not to finish in one sitting. I’ve got a bad habit of getting so in the “zone” I don’t like to leave a project before it’s finished. This tends to result in stress and a finish I’m not happy with or a crap fit. I’ve started to learn that the best way to avoid this is to pick my projects for my moods, maybe even having more than one on the go at once. If I want something speedy I’ll run up a quick TNT top not try and cram making a silk lined wool coat in 4 evenings after work – true story!

Top 5 Makes

I’m not going to put up any misses as 2015 was such a learning curve, plus I’m taking Karen’s very sage advise about abolishing ablogogising, so I’ll be focusing only on the positives!

Anise Coat

Anise Coat

I am so proud of this make, it’s a 100% wool outer with a silk lining and it really challenged me! The fit needs some alterations, but I wear it all the time anyway just because I can’t actually believe I made an actual coat with bound buttonholes and welt pockets! I will blog this really soon!

Ta Dah!
Ta Dah!

Ultimate Trousers

I’ve remade this polka dot pair in stretch cotton now, as this linen has too much give for my liking. The new, improved pair are worn regularly and I’m so happy all the hard work on fitting paid off. There is a plain black pair almost finished lurking in my UFO pile as I type.

anna ascot

Anna in the wild at a recent family wedding!
Anna in the wild at a recent family wedding!

Peacock Anna

This dress makes me happy, not only do I love the colours and the print but the Anna dress is such a superstar pattern and it’s finished with French seams. I’ve worn this to a wedding and to Ascot, so it’s safe to say I’m happy to show it off!

by hand london anna circle

Cosmic Anna Hack

Another Anna, and another one that I love. The circle skirt makes me feel all girly and feminine and the fabric is so much fun, it makes me smile every time I wear it, which I do often.

Pouting in Unicorns...that's me!
Pouting in Unicorns…that’s me!

Mimi Unicorn Blouse

This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this blouse sums up what sewing is about for me. It cheers me up to look at it and I really like the flattering shape. There were also some good techniques that I first learnt when making this, such as buttonholes and bias-bound armholes.

On The Horizon

I’ve detailed the top 9 patterns I want to make this year on Instagram, and there are a couple of others like the Megain Neilson Darling Ranges dress which I’ve just discovered via Sarah’s blog. Let’s see how many of the goals above I can achieve!


I’m looking forward to a whole new year of sewing! What are you most looking forward to sewing in 2016?


4 thoughts on “Looking back and sewing forward….

  1. Wait, what?! You made a wool coat with bound buttonholes and welt pockets! You are a sewing ninja!! I shall look forward to a post about it becauee it looks brilliant.


    1. Haha thanks Lynne, you’ve made my day! Never thought of myself of a sewing Ninja, but I am very proud of myself! I will put it up soon, I’m just in that annoying place of wanting to make a couple of little tweaks to it but wearing it quite a lot already, do you ever get that?


    1. You are too lovely! I’m not sure there’ll be any ballgowns as I don’t think I’ll ever go anywhere to wear them, but definitely want to keep testing myself, any suggestions? I think your flower print coat is gorgeous, I’ve been wanting to go to DM Buttons ever since I read your post – one day!


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