The view out the window of my sewing room on a recent unplugged Sunday.
One year ago on February 7th a freak snowstorm gave me an unexpected day off and I started on a journey of sewing garments that has brought me so much fun (and a whole new me-made wardrobe) over the past year. I had sewn some children’s clothes when my kids were little and had been a quilter for many years but work and life kept me too busy for hobbies for many years and it was just this last year when life calmed down a bit that I was able to think about sewing again. And this year, for the first time, I made clothes for myself. Specifically, I made 8 Washi dresses, 5 Bianca dresses and 1 Bianca blouse, 6 Beatrix blouses: 2 of them sleeveless and one of them in a tunic length, a Pearl Shift flannel dress, 4 Ruby dresses, 1 Ruby blouse, 3 Voila blouses and 2 Pocket Skirts and a New Look 6095 Shift Dress. Three of the garments were for my daughter and I made one pair of PJ’s for another daughter but the rest I have been wearing and enjoying all year. I have basically replaced my entire work wardrobe-slacks excluded although I don’t wear slacks very often- with garments I have sewn. Some favorites below:
When I started sewing again, I didn’t set out with any specific numbers or goals in mind. I made a Washi dress, a Ruby blouse and a Voila blouse and then it was May and I was so inspired by the posts on Instagram for Me Made May that I sewed several garments that month to be able to join in- which I did about half way through the month. I had set up an Instagram account in April because I wanted to have a place to keep track of my sewing life. I had no idea that there was such an amazing sewing community there. It has been wonderful to have experienced sewers give me advice and comment on my projects. It was totally unexpected and a wonderful surprise. One thing I did this year that I hope to do again is to rent a cabin in Maine and bring my sewing machine. I didn’t go just to sew. I went for a couple of days of R and R when I dropped my daughter off at college but how nice to have my sewing machine on the rainy day and have some unstructured time to work on some projects in a beautiful setting.I also made 3 dresses that were fails- all of which were for other people. I find it a challenge to sew for people other than myself and the one daughter who is close to my size. Two of my fails were made of knit fabric-I need to work on my sewing with knits skills- and one dress made of a somewhat stiff satiny party dress material that is hard to work with. I also sewed 2 felted wool sweater quilts that were not fails! These were inspired by a beautiful blanket I purchased over ten years ago in the Berkshires from Crispina. I followed the very clear tutorial by Catherine Newman and I was happy with the results.
As were the recipients.I used the leftover plaid flannel for facings on a Pearl Shift.
I finished these two early this week so technically first garments of the new year! They have already been worn to work. I bought some heavy cotton flannel on sale at Joanne’s before Christmas. I am so happy with my first Pearl and I know these will get worn all the time too. Great for those snowy cold days with leggings or skinny jeans and boots. So all in all 35 successful garments, 3 learning experiences and the 2 afghans. I am going to be honest and say that I am not sure how I did this but many of the suggestions that Christine Haynes makes in her blog post on finding time to sew are true for me. I sew in little bits of time interspersed with one long afternoon or evening a week. I actually work 2 jobs as a nurse and many weeks this year I worked 7 days a week, so I can’t stay up late to sew-it is just not possible. Other than when I had the deadline for a gift such as the afghans for Christmas, I only sew when I have the energy so it doesn’t feel pressured or like a chore. I don’t watch TV ever. I don’t exercise enough. So other than work and reading, sewing is the way I spend my downtime. On an average week I can generally sew one garment but I tend to sew them in pairs. It ends up being more efficient to cut out two of the same thing. More than two doesn’t work so well though. I still have several unfinished Ruby blouses that just need a bit of time to finish but doing more than two at a time ended up being overwhelming.
In the coming year, I will probably do more of the same. More Washi’s, a couple more Voila blouses and Pocket Skirts since they are great basics. Definitely will be finishing the Ruby blouses! Some more Pjs for my daughter and I would like to try to make a pair of cropped linen pants to wear with the blouses I have made. I am thinking of trying the new Cali Faye Hampshire Trouser. I also have another couple of Beatrix blouses, one in a tunic length planned. I am also hoping to make the Emery Dress and the Anna Maria Horner Painted Portrait dress. I am thinking about trying the Pearl Shift in a chambray or linen. I am also hand quilting a long time project and slowly making progress. I am hoping to quilt with friends so that goes a bit quicker. This year, my New Year’s resolution was to not work Sundays at all, something I haven’t been able to do in years due to jobs, finances etc. It has already made a difference knowing that I have that day off every week to look forward to. I have been able to go back to church regularly, something I haven’t been able to do in ten years-yikes! I also made a resolution to keep Sundays unplugged. I am not a TV watcher but I can lose a lot of time on the computer, phone, on Facebook and Instagram and while I value the community so much, I am definitely benefiting from that once a week 24 hour break from screens. I read more and I enjoy the peace. I am so grateful for my sewing year and I am excited to see what the new year brings! Wishing you happy sewing, beautiful unplugged moments and peace in 2016!