Tag Archive | top 5s

Top 5s post – Reflections & Goals

Top 5 for 2014


Continuing with Gillian’s Top 5s posts for the year! Post #2, the reflections and goals. Post #1 (the Hits Misses & Highlights) is here.

Top 5 Reflections: Looking back, what have you learned about sewing or yourself?

5 – My reach very much exceeds my grasp. I have too many ideas/inspirations about things I could make. I’ve tried to fulfil some of my ideas, but I know a lot of them will never ever get made, and that makes me a bit sad, because they are good ideas. But… I’m trying to accept that it’s ok to let some of them go.

4 – Winter is a bad time for my sew-jo, and I should maybe try to factor that into my attitude. Perhaps I can focus more on smaller projects, like mending, makeovers and refashioning rather than making a whole item from scratch. Or make really quick and easy do-it-in-an-evening projects.

3 – I went overboard on the Belcarra blouse pattern this summer! It was interesting to see how quickly I gained confidence with it, and was able to hack it and mess around with it, to make 4 tops and 2 dresses which are all quite different. I’ve got one, maybe two other hacks in mind, so I’m not quite finished with this pattern yet. But it has proved to me that I really enjoy being able to use a fairly easy TNT pattern. I was the same with the McCalls 3830 straight skirt pattern last year.

2 – I’ve acquired far too much stash (*recoils from the pressure of the entire sewing blogosphere laughing at me*). I buy fabric, with good intentions of using it immediately, which sadly does not work, see reflection #1 above. I have more than enough fabric and patterns to achieve all my current aims and ambitions. So I need to go on a stash diet.  I’ll allow myself to do swaps because that doesn’t add to my stash, but not accept freebies/giveaways. I will allow myself to buy notions- zips, interfacing, whatever- in order to make the things, but not the patterns or the fabric. No new fabric until I’ve used at least five pieces from stash.

1 – I never get tired of receiving compliments on my me-made clothing. It’s so heart warming, and makes me feel great about my skills and personal style. I never want that to stop!


Top 5 Goals: What do you hope to achieve in 2015?

Firstly, I think it’s in order to look back over my 2014 goals from this time last year.

5. Take part in Me Made May. SUCCESS! I met and bettered my pledge, and had a ball doing it.

4. I would like to make one or two things which are more technically challenging to me. FAIL – I didn’t achieve any of these planned challenges. I just made easy stuff!

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. SUCCESS! The NYLon meet up was amazing. I met some lovely creative people. I definitely want to do that again!

2. I would like to start knitting for myself again. SUCCESS! A slow success, admittedly, but I’ve got back into it.

1. I would like to take part in more online sewing challenges/sewalongs. SUCCESS! I did OWOP and the Summer Sundress Sewalong, and I did my first TMS challenge.

So overall, I count that as pretty successful!


The 2015 goals are perhaps not vastly different from my 2014 goals, but that’s ok – they can roll on.

5 – Make garments that work together and work with my wardrobe needs & likes. Me Made May showed me that I could work towards a more integrated wardrobe, so that I have fewer and fewer wardrobe orphans. I think I’m getting there. What I need to do is work out exactly what the specific gaps are – I made a start on that in my last MMM14 post, I just need to firm that up and work out if there’s anything else I am missing. And then of course, actually make it!

4 – Do more with the Monthly Stitch. I really enjoyed the interaction when I posted about the All-nighter dress. Not every month’s theme works for me, but it should occasionally be reasonably possible to crowbar what I’m making into the theme. January’s Denim Never Dies challenge should be possible, and their rules are pretty fluid, to be honest, so I should be able to post more there. And now I’m feeling the influence of work, and how I’m always banging on to my tutors about making their goals SMART, so I’m going to be very specific with this goal, and aim to post four times to TMS in 2015.

3 – Do MMM15 and up my personal challenge. This year I had an official pledge which was stated publicly, and a personal aspiration which I kept to myself until the end, and I think I will do that again, but I want to make both more challenging than this year. I’m not sure yet how I’m going to do that, but I’ve got four months to work it out!

2 – Make more dresses. I like wearing dresses. I should have more of them. I don’t need the dresses to be particularly fancy, in fact I think I prefer a simple pattern, it gives me more of a canvas for stunning fabrics and/or fun embellishment, which are both things that I like. I would like to find a good fit & flare pattern to work with, sometime – not necessarily immediately, but sometime. So I’m aiming for 5 new dresses in 2015.

1 – Make some undies. I’m never going to attempt bra-making, but I’d love to try making knickers. I can see this as a good scrapbuster. I won’t consider this goal met with a one-off pair that doesn’t really work, the intention is to make knickers successfully, so my SMART objective is that by the end of the year, I want to have at least two pairs of me-made undies in regular wearing rotation. Also, I’ve just found out about Marilla’s tights pattern

It’s been really interesting reading everyone else’s Top 5s posts, and I remain awestruck and inspired by all you sewing bloggers out there – Happy New Year to you all, may your creativeness and talent continue to inspire us all.

Top 5s post – Hits , Misses & Highlights

Top 5 for 2014

Hooray, hooray, it’s time for Gillian’s Top 5s posts for the year! I’m really enjoying the posts I’ve seen so far, looking forward to the ones to come, and hoping to find some new to me blogs to read and follow.

I’m going the same way as many bloggers and splitting my posts – first off, the hits, misses and highlights.

My Top 5 Hits: What have you worn or loved the most?

5 – When Two Become One T-shirt – I love that I made an unwearable garment into a wearable one. I want to keep working on developing my refashioning skills- at the moment they’re still cursory, but I’ll keep practising.

4 – Cadfael & Cats Belcarra – I love the colour of this blouse. Again, it gets noticed, but I don’t believe in wearing clothes that blend into the magnolia walls. It’s a fairly firm cotton, and I’d like to try using it again, in other colours.

3 – Pretty Summer Splodges Skirt – This was a delight to wear in the summer, and was a total compliment magnet. The colours are an interesting mix (it would never have occurred to me to wear red and pink together!).

2 – Watermelon Belcarra – This was my first Sewaholic Belcarra blouse (of many) and I still think it’s the prettiest. I wore it lots, because it was so cool to wear in the Summer. I need to work with more cotton lawn, I think, for blouses and tops for next Summer, it’s a dream to work with.

1 – The Dress of Many Colours – I loved this one hard! I made it quite late in the Summer so it didn’t get as much wear as I would have liked. It’s also quite a Statement garment, so I don’t wear it very often, because it’s so noticeable. But every time I wore it it gave me joy, and I’m really looking forward to next spring, so I can wear it all over again. Thanks go out to Heather for the Summer Sundress Sewalong which inspired me to make this.

My Top 5 Misses: What went wrong or never got worn?
I’ve only got four, really. I’m pleased to report that mostly I’m happy to wear the things I’ve made.

The Slouchy Teal Cardigan scroll down to Day 24

4 – The Slouchy Teal Cardigan – The proportions for this were just all wrong for me. I’ve only worn it around the house, as it’s not very flattering. But it’s snuggly and warm and it will be getting more house wear in the new year, while it’s still cold.
Lessons learned:
– Do a swatch (hahahaha! Like *that’s* going to happen!)
– Be willing to undo the bits that look obviously as though they aren’t going to work.

The What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Belcarra – and yes I wear this skirt a lot!

3 – The What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Belcarra – This was a nightmare to make, but having finished it, I have to say I’ve worn it quite a bit, because it’s a useful neutral top. So although it’s in the Misses, because of the difficulties in making it, it turned out ok in the end.
Lessons learned:
– choose fabrics more carefully.
– just because you’ve made a pattern successfully a couple of times before, don’t go making the assumption it will work every single time afterwards.

 2 – The Red Square Skirt – I have worn this occasionally, as it’s a fun wear, but it’s not very practical. The jersey is clingy, and the weight of the fabric is such that it only really works as a very transitional piece. It’s not warm enough for winter wear, and it’s too thick for summer wear, and since it’s best to avoid tights, it needs to be a warm spring or autumn day for me to want to pull this one out of the wardrobe
Lessons learned:
– choose fabrics more carefully.
– consider making some slips to wear with all my unlined skirts.

1 – The Crazy Swirly Circle Skirt – The only reason this hasn’t been worn is that on its second or third outing, I wore it for a picnic, and while sitting in one of those folding chairs, the fabric must have got caught in one of the folding joints, and the fabric got “sliced”. I need to fix it, and I haven’t quite got round to it – mending is never as much fun as actually making a thing.
Lessons learned:
– When a thing needs mending, do it right away

Top 5 Highlights: Tell us about 5 non-sewing highlights of your year!

Gillian’s new topic for our 2014 top 5s is Highlights. This is harder to write! I’ve had a nice year, but it’s been kind of steady, not really full of big events.

5 – Holiday in France. I was on holiday in the Summer with two out of my three sisters. We were in the holiday home that I’ve known all my life, as it was originally built for my great-grandmother and has been the holiday home for my mother and her brothers and sisters, and me and my brothers and sisters all my life. It got split into four apartments when Grandmere Dorion (great grandmother) died to be split between her 8 surviving children. Through a combination of inheritances and buy outs, my three sisters have ended up with three out of the four apartments, one each, and I was borrowing one of them, because that particular sister was coming later in the summer.

It was glorious! The weather was beautiful, I got to spend time with my nieces and nephews as well as my sisters. I really didn’t want it to end.

4 – Being asked to work at Oakleaf. I have been volunteering for Oakleaf Enterprise for a little over a year. It’s a very local charity, helping people with mental illness, providing work-based training and work experience opportunities, as well as social inclusion activities and counselling. I was thrilled to be asked in the Summer to take on some paid work for them, in addition to my normal volunteer work. It’s really made me feel part of the team. And it may sound totally trite and “worthy”, but I really like that the work I do helps make my community a better place.

3 – Seeing my students performing. I love teaching dance. And I firmly believe that dance is a *Performing* art, so I encourage my students to take part in shows.  I do everything I can to make it a positive experience for them. I rehearse them, I make sure they all have good costumes, that they feel comfortable in, I make sure the performance venues are appropriate to their level of dancing (I would never ask students to do a professional paying gig, or to dance at a venue which might not be supportive of them).  I always feel like such a proud mother when I see them!

2 – Working with Dandesh. Dandesh is an Egyptian bellydancer. She’s a proper club dancer, but she also teaches on the international circuit. I last took a workshop with her back in 2005, and I have been trying to do so again ever since. I’ve seen her dancing, when I’ve been in Egypt, but haven’t managed to get lessons.

Dandesh, dancing in Egypt. Photo by Kay Taylor.

This autumn she was teaching and performing at a dance festival in Yorkshire, and I was able to take three workshops with her. I LOVED them. It was so good to get that authentic Egyptian attitude!

1 – Fabric printing. This was partially sewing related, but I’m including it anyway. I took part in Marilla Walker’s Fabric printing swap, and it opened my eyes to a whole new way of being creative and personalising your sewing. I had a ball, and I’m planning on incorporating more hand printing into my makes. And as much as I liked my hand-printed fabric, next time I want to be a bit more adventurous.

The reflections and goals will be in a separate post, coming soon. (Edited to add – it’s here)

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.