Top Fives of 2013

Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow has this brilliant thing- Top 5s for 2013. I’m in. Except I haven’t necessarily got 5 of everything this year- my sewing output is pathetic! But I’m going to have a damn good go anyway, and Gillian says the rules are meant to be broken!


My favourite Makes this year. It’s hard to put them in order, but I think this is just about right.

5. The Jif Lemon Dress– I really love the decoration on this one and its swing. The *only* reason it’s towards the bottom of this list of hits is that the front seam is not quite right in the chestacular area, and I need to do a bit of tweaking to it, to make it less chestiferous.

4. The Squares & Triangles Circle Skirt. I love the jauntiness of this skirt. I need to make more circle skirts, I think. But on this one, the waistband is too big for me, so one of my New Year sewing jobs is to take out the waistband, gather the skirt a bit- yeah I know you’re not supposed to on a circle skirt, but I’ve got no other option- and sew the waistband back on smaller. I definitely want to carry on wearing this one, but without the risk of it showing what underwear I’ve got on that day.

3. The Blue Roses Dress– I wore it for a job interview and got the job, so I’m definitely counting that as a hit. I’ve worn it a bit, but it feels quite dressy and I don’t wear it that much. But it has definitely been worn on several occasions this summer, and I’m confident it will be worn next summer too.

2. The Counterintuitive Black Birds Skirt– I love this one, it’s a good work skirt, with enough interest to it to make it fun to wear.

1. The You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! Skirt– I love this one to bits, and it is a total winner. I love it, love it, love it, and it’s a real compliment magnet. It’s a joy to wear and it goes with pretty much every single top I own.

Guildford Castle

Ahhh! The Summer, I remember it!


I’ve been pretty lucky and don’t seem to have too many misses.

4. The Tweal Dress. This isn’t a big miss, but it is a year end UFO, which I would have rather not have had. I’ll get round to it in the new year sometime.

3. I’ve got two part-made Bellydance Costumes on the UFO shelf. One I really like, and I ought really to finish, because I’d definitely wear it. The bra is nearly all finished, it just needs a few bead swags, and then lining and hooks adding. The skirt is constructed, and needs  beading. I’ve got all the supplies for it, it’s just sitting in the pile, taunting me with its unfinishedness.

Fab Crazy Floral Costume Skirt

The bra very nearly finished

Of course it would also need a few accessories to make it a complete costume, headband, arm gauntlets and the like…

The other costume I’ve just gone right off- it’s not appealing to me, and I’m going to be abandoning it, and cannibalising it for parts.

2. The Niece’s Summer Dress is a hit in that it got finished at all. However, it is firmly in the Miss category on account of it being a good two years too late for either of the older nieces, and two years too early for the youngest niece[*].

1. My main miss seems to be the Sorbetto top I made at the start of this blog. I think I wore it once only. It’s just not right. It’s too small and short and constrictive. It needs an FBA  and a lot of futzing to get it to fit me in a way that will look even part way flattering. It needs completely remaking, to be honest.  In my heart of hearts, I’m not sure that a Sorbetto is the best kind of top for me, which is kind of why I haven’t done anything about re-making it. I suppose if I can find the right fit, it would work, I’m just not sure I can be bothered to go to that trouble.



I’m always very bad at Reflection, but I’ll try to put together some sensible end-of-year thoughts.

5.  I’ve realised that I like making Cake, as opposed to Icing. In these last few months, I’ve made very functional clothes, pretty but functional, that I can wear to work, or socially, on a regular basis, and they have generally all had a good bit of wear.

4. I’ve been reasonably good at controlling myself. I know my tendencies. If I gave myself an entirely free rein, I would be buying patterns and fabric and embellishments left, right and centre, with no thought beyond “wouldn’t it be cool if…” or “I could totally make a dress with that…”. But I think I’ve been pretty good at holding back and not spending money like it’s going out of fashion, and not buying a ton of new material when I still have plenty of fabric to play with at home. I quite like the rigour of using what I’ve got first. I’m currently on a pattern-buying break, and I’m not planning on buying any fabric until I’ve used up a good part of the stash that I’ve got sitting at home.

3. I need to make a better space for sewing. This is tricky. I simply don’t have space! I live in a tiny studio flat. I don’t even have enough storage for my actual clothes, never mind potential future clothes. I’ve allowed my space to get cluttered, and I really need to keep more on top of the clutter and get rid of stuff if I’m not using it. When the flat’s messy I don’t feel like sewing.

2. I need to remind myself all the time that everything takes longer than I think it’s going to take, and that that’s ok. My expectations are always ridiculously high as to how quickly I can finish a garment, and I need to adjust my thinking. I’m getting better at Sewing Patience. I’m learning that it’s ok for things to take time, that it’s ok to unpick a zip that’s not working and redo it[**], that it’s ok to spend more time faffing about grading the paper pattern than it’s going to take to cut out the pattern, that neatening a seam does indeed add to the time that I am spending on sewing that seam. It’s all ok. It’s all Zen. And there are no real deadlines. OK, I allow deadlines when I’m in a Challenge, but if I don’t hit those deadlines, nobody’s going to die or anything.

1. I have really loved making my own clothes. I’ve loved the personal knowledge that I made what I’m wearing, I’ve loved receiving compliments and being able to say “Thank you, I made it”, I’ve loved knowing that I’m wearing something unique and individual and generally awesome.


This is difficult. I’m not going to name the biggies, because everybody knows about them, they’re the Go To Sewing Bloggers, like Karen and Tilly, et al.

5. The Sew Weekly Reunion. This was a real kick-start for me to up my game, and make things that were a bit special and individual. I’m hoping I can take part again in 2014.

4. The Great British Sewing Bee. This was a real boost to nerdy home sewists, I felt. I loved that they’d included sewists of all ages, and managed to find a couple of men to take part. When I was watching I spent the whole time thinking how hard it must be to be under those ridiculously tight time pressures. But I was also really impressed with how well the contestants did. I’m so looking forward to the next series (about April time, maybe?

3. Amanda of Sew Deputy – she makes really cool dresses, but her Liverpool Lace Trench coat is simply amazing! I admire how low key she is in her blogging (unlike me- I’m all LOOK LOOK LOOK, I MADE SOMETHING, LOOK!), and how she works towards her personal style. And she’s been so encouraging! Or do I mean enabling?

2. Zoe of So, Zo… What do you know? I know I said I wasn’t going to mention the biggies, but she really has been the most inspirational single sewing blogger, for me. I admire her dedication to ethical clothing and against thoughtless consumerism. I admire her personal style and she’s really the blogger who has made me think most about my own sewing and style, even though mine is nothing like hers. She’s probably my biggest sewing girl-crush!

1. The WHOLE sewing blogosphere as a general thing. I feel like I’ve found a place in it, just a little space but enough that I feel connected, and part of it all. And that’s inspiring.


I’m keeping this very limited, because I know I don’t respond well to Big Plans. I’m seeing these as general aims, rather than concrete goals.

5. If there is a Me Made May (or similar), I want to take part. The trickiest part will be the photo-documentation, but I’m sure I can work something out.

4. I would like to make one or two things which are more challenging to me. Specifically, I want to make a blouse that involves buttons and buttonholes. I’d like it to be earlier in the year, but I’m not putting myself under any specific time pressure to do it. I’ve also got two skirts planned that will involve using new techniques, and I would like to get those under way in the first quarter of the year. And into the later part of the year, I’d like to try making some kind of jacket- BIG challenge!

3. I would like to attend some kind of sewing blogger meet-up, if there’s one that’s geographically feasible at a manageable time/date.

2. I would like to start knitting for myself again.

1. I would like to take part in more online sewing challenges/sewalongs. I really enjoyed the Sew Weekly Reunion, and Fall For Cotton, and I’d love to find something else like that for earlier in the year. I’m sure something will come along…

In general my specific plans for the New Year include taking part in Jungle January. I’ve got a beautiful soft leopard print chiffon, and an idea or two of how it can be used (talking of challenges- chiffon will probably be a bit of a nightmare, no?). I’m thinking over what other animal print options I might have for January…

And the other thing I want to do is tweak those garments I’ve made that need it. For example, the Triangles and Squares Circle Skirt waistband and the Jif Lemon Dress front. So those are jobs that I’m going to try and get on top of in the New Year.

[*] The youngest niece is adorable, but remarkably, ahem, headstrong. She has become known as Eleanor Stormborn of House Targaryen. She is the Khalisi of Chertsey.

[**] However, it is also sometimes ok to decide after three attempts at a zip that done is good enough, and that only Allah is perfect.


9 thoughts on “Top Fives of 2013

  1. You should finish the bellydancing costume, especially if it is taunting you! Kudos to all your wonderful work — the blue roses dress looks fantastic on you.

    • Thanks Laurie. I wanted the goals to be realistic and achievable, so I had to keep them Manageable rather than Aspirational! There are detailed plans behind the scenes, to help keep me organised, but I don’t expect to stick to them rigidly

      And yes the costume will definitely be finished this year. The Internet Has Spoken!

  2. Great read! I hadn’t spotted your Counterintuitive Black Birds skirt before – it’s great! Love that fabric and the lime green pop of colour. 🙂

    Have you come across The Monthly Stitch yet? It’s an ongoing monthly sewing challenge, like the Sew Weekly used to be, but monthly instead. Over here if you’re interested:

    Looking forward to seeing what you make in 2014! 🙂

    • I’ve been thinking I should subscribe myself to the Monthly Stitch, but worry that I won’t be able to stick to the planned themes. But you know what? I’m going to go for it!

      • You so should! It’s lots of fun. 🙂 And you don’t have to do all the themes, just the ones you want to do.

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