I am a SUCKER for sewing-space tours! I have no idea why I find them so compelling, but there is something very soothing about them.
I wanted to Do My Part by sharing my own sewing space. I do not have a dedicated sewing room — ha! imagine! — so I have had to be very creative in wedging my space into our living room. It’s moved around a bit, but the main pieces sit against the sliding-glass door to our patio — which means that wall storage, like pegboards or shelving, isn’t really an option for me. So I’ve found other ways to stash things in a compact space.
A second Deer & Doe Givre Maternity dress. Such a fan of this pattern; it’s a really quick sew. This is a ponte from Joann (half off, thank goodness) that is a little less stretchy than the last one I made. I like it! And now I have another dress for teaching. Actually, maybe I should make a sleeveless version, since my classroom is SO HOT, I felt like I was going to faint last week.
Also, as a bit of a data-head, I’ve been finding that my completist tendencies are tickled by keeping track of everything I’ve made (so far) in 2020. The gallery is here, and it will self-update as I add stuff to it. Fun!
It’s been a good year! Definitely not the easiest year of my life (in fact, it’s been exhausting), but I had some professional successes that have made me proud — an article in the New Yorker, a book deal, some published articles, and students who’ve had exciting successes. Personally, there’s the pregnancy, of course, but also seeing my daughter growing into a joyful, very silly, thoughtful person, and watching my husband flourish in his job. Most important, my family is healthy, financially OK, and continuing to grow together. If I can say the same at the end of 2020, that’s all I need.
Sewing-wise, it has also been a fun year of growth. I have learned a lot, especially about technique and finishing, even though it still often seems to me as though I’m a rank beginner. When I returned to sewing a year and a half ago, I think I thought I knew a lot more than I did. I had no idea that I have a lifetime’s worth of knowledge to gain! Nevertheless, sewing has been a source of uncomplicated happiness for me, one I sorely needed. It’s wonderful to have something to think about and do that has nothing to do with work, and never will.
For that reason, I really have no interest in setting goals or evaluating progress or anything like that. There’s enough of that happening in my work life, believe me! I prefer to just make what I like, when I like. No curating closets or setting intentions for me.
It is fun, though, to think about what I made back in 2019. So, let me think, what were my biggest wins?
Tilly and the Buttons Etta
I just think this looks really good, and it’s great for a lot of different settings. Of course, it doesn’t even come close to fitting me right now, but hopefully it will postpartum!
I have been pretty AWOL lately, primarily because I am now 20 weeks pregnant, and I spent about a month and a half doing very little besides feeling awful and sleeping. I don’t remember this being an issue with my last pregnancy, but this time around I felt absolutely wretched throughout the first trimester, and in fact I’m still suffering from morning sickness and fatigue. I think this baby knows he’s the last one I plan to have and is intent on giving me the Full Pregnancy Experience.
I am very behind on posting things! Not that anyone cares, obviously, but I do like to record what I make. Earlier this month, I finished an Ellis skirt (a Cashmerette pattern), a denim skirt with nice jeans details. I chose the Ellis over the TATB Ness mostly because the Ellis offers options for both apple and pear shapes. In the event, even the pear needed some taking in at the waist, but I’m nevertheless happy this pattern.
I made View A, the knee-length version. I really enjoyed making this. Denim is fun and satisfying to sew, and I liked doing all the topstitching details. The instructions on the Ellis were great, except one point that I think they should clarify, since I’ve noticed that other people have mentioned being confused, too. The zipper will be too long for the fly. You’re supposed to cut off the excess at the top, where the fly meets the waistband, not try to make the whole thing fit.
Because of the zipper confusion, the fly is a bit poochy, but other than that, I’m very pleased with how this came out. I worked hard to find a denim of the right weight and percentage of stretch, but I’m sorry to say that it actually stretches too much. After wearing the skirt for a few hours, it droops significantly, and putting my phone in the pocket drags the whole thing down.
Next time around, I might go a size smaller. I made a 14 at the waist, grading to a 16 at the hip, but I think I could stand to do a 12-14.
Dora, as always, has demanded a steady stream of handmade clothing. I made her a red t-shirt with a design she specified, cut out with my Cricut.
I need to figure out how to make the vinyl adhere better, though, as shortly after this photo was taken, the vinyl started peeling, and my attempt to iron it back down just made the whole thing smudge. Now, I’m afraid, this is only really suitable for pajamas. Oh well.
I’ve also been making Dora a lot of leggings, since she’s got holes in many of her existing pairs! I used this free pattern from Life Sew Savory. My first attempt was way too baggy, which she did not like one bit, but after I went down a size, they fit perfectly. The only thing is, they seem to slide down in the back a lot, so I think that for the next pair I make, I’ll try raising the waist at the back.
And I made another Saraste top! For this one, I cannibalized a skirt I made early in my return to sewing, made from a Cotton + Steel cicada print. The refashioning was all going fine until I realized I’d cut out one of the side panels in the wrong direction. Ugh. Since I only had scraps left at that point, I had to piece together a new side panel. It ended up being made of seven pieces, but happily, you can’t really tell, and I’ve been wearing this shirt a lot.
At the moment, I’m making a Hadley tank out of some fancy silk I got as a remnant at Michael Levine, and I still have some as-yet-unblogged garments to post. My sister has requested a linen shirtdress, so I think that will be the next project I tackle!
Fresh off the sewing machine! This is the Saraste top from the Named Patterns book, a princess-seamed top with a flared hem and a number of sleeve options. (There’s also a dress version.) I really liked all the versions I saw floating around the internet, and this is one of my favorite garments in the book. Since the Ruska dress was kind of a bust, I was especially glad that this top came out so well.
I’ve sewn quite a number of things since I last posted, but some of them have been a bit disappointing, even though I enjoyed the process. (A too-big wrap dress is weirdly unflattering, it turns out!) Today I took a couple of hours to finish off a pink Etta dress, made out of a coral pink cotton-Lycra from The Fabric Store’s L.A. location.
It’s been cold and rainy here in L.A. (OK, cold-ish, this isn’t exactly Canada) and things have been similarly bleak here on the homefront. We’ve all been sick with colds, and the beginning of the new academic quarter sent everyone into a tailspin, as it always does. For awhile the best I could do, sewing-wise, was a seam or two a night. Still, I’ve gotten a few projects finished.
I’ve had Tilly Walnes’s Stretch book for a while now, and I’ve had my eye on the Joni dress for months. When I saw a lavender stretch velvet in the L.A. Fashion District, I knew exactly what it was destined for. Bonus: the fabric was super-cheap! I think it was $5 or $6 a yard.