2017 In Review

Finished Objects:


Whew! Well considering I spent a lot of this year feeling like I wasn’t doing nearly enough sewing, I definitely got quite a few pieces done! (And a lot more undergarments than I should probably feel comfortable sharing on the internet; I now feel like the queen of oversharing, SORRY.)

Items I’ve worn a lot:

  • the Harrison shirt is the MVP of the year. I love it and I want to make more! It has a few minor fit issues that I’ll try to resolve next time, and my sewing could be better on it, but I’m always excited when it’s clean and I get to wear it again.
  • The skull and heart underwear are ridiculously comfortable and I love them. I need to transfer that underwear pattern to tagboard because it is golden.
  • The denim Selene skirt, despite what a pain it was to make, is functioning exactly as I dreamed – I wear it all the time.
  • Is it too soon to call the Margot PJs a fave? I can already tell I’m going to be wearing them a lot.

And things I haven’t wound up wearing much:

  • the first pair of underwear just feels too much like a swimsuit (in fact, I might add a top and call it a two-piece swimsuit)
  • the first York shirt pulls badly at the upper center back. I just noticed today that the center back seam has torn, in fact, and I’m not sure what the best way to fix it is
  • the second York is just… not quite right. I don’t like the feel of the material even though I like the way it looks, and it also still tugs at the back, and the blue binding doesn’t pull the blue out of the fabric like I thought it would, so it needs some additional blue trim to tie it together. With all that combined, I just don’t wear it a lot.
  • The plaid Akita shirt is way too big and I have to be wearing something I feel comfortable tucking it into, or wear it with a belt.



I bought a grand total of three pieces of clothing for myself this year. One was a Captain America shirt (which was on my exceptions list from day 1), one was my yukata from Japan (obviously a special purchase and not something I consider to be aiding in overconsumption), and lastly, the grey sweater I got at the Bins (a rescue item, and one that needed mending at that – but it’s still the one of the three I feel guiltiest about).

I’m not particularly a clothes horse, so I knew it wouldn’t be that much of a hardship to keep myself from buying new clothes. What did surprise me was the number of thrift store items I wanted to buy and forced myself to put down since they were technically a clothing purchase. Yes, buying at thrift stores is marginally better since you’re not directly supporting sweatshops, but it’s still very easy to overconsume clothing at thrift stores since there’s just so much of it.

My other goal for this project was to get in the habit of sewing regularly, and to get better at it. I’ve certainly tried a whole lot of new things, and gained some additional skills, even though overall I don’t feel like I’m that much improved. However, I also obviously had some periods where the last thing I wanted to do was sew, and I know that came across in some really boring updates. (My stats say there are a few of you who read every week, and you must have the patience of saints, bless your hearts.)

Going forward

What I’m going to do going forward is focus more on a project-based update cycle, rather than weekly updates. This means far fewer updates, I’m sure, but hopefully more interesting ones. I’m going to aim for at least one update per month, and more if I’m on a roll.

I’m also going to try to do more with my Instagram for intermediate updates. I’m very bad about using it now because a) people I know in real life are on there and I have anxiety, and b) I’m hoarding the few pictures I do take every week for my updates here, haha.

I’m excited about the new sewing space I’m going to have when I finally am able to move into my house (it’s looking like late February or early March, right now), and hopefully I can turn it into a place where just walking in will make me feel inspired and want to get to work! It’s been wonderful to actually be able to keep my sewing stuff set up all the time, but it will be even more wonderful to have an actual cutting table and a full-sized ironing board so I don’t feel like I’m bumping my elbows on everything while I’m working.

Happy New Year, folks, and here’s to a great 2018!


Week 52: Margot + Mending

Well, this is the last week of the year, and of course the last night of the year as well here in Portland, so happy new year! It’s kind of hard to believe I’ve been doing this for a full year, to be honest. It simultaneously feels like I’ve been doing it forever and only just started. I have a wrap-up planned for tomorrow, but for tonight it’s just a normal update.

I wrapped up the Margot PJ pants! They are quite a bit shorter than I was expecting, because I failed to consider hemming when I shortened the pattern (oops), but they are about where I’d wanted them to be – a couple inches above the ankle, where I’ll never trip over them even if the tie comes loose and they start getting a bit low. I probably could have shortened it by an inch instead of three and it would have been ankle length, but I’m not at all unhappy with the length as they are. I should have added a full seat adjustment (I just need to give up and do that by default), and the front crotch area fits a little weirdly (maybe for the same reason) but there is enough ease that they’re still plenty comfy and make for great pajama pants. Yay for old flannel sheets!


Mending-wise, I made it through most but not all of what I wanted to. I darned this hole in the very first pair of socks I ever made:

It  spanned enough rows that I actually decided to knit a patch while darning to cover it. It was kind of an awkward affair, especially since it was right at the point where the heel was decreasing, but it turned out all right.

I don’t believe I mentioned this sweater before, but I found it at the Bins months ago, and I decided that since it needed mending it was a justifiable purchase for this year:


It’s 100% wool, and it is a little bit felted (but still stretchy) – it looks like it was originally a mock honeycomb pattern like the one I used on these socks (but purled on the right side), but I am a very inexperienced darner and opted to just darn it in stockinette. It had three moth holes that needed repairing. I used a Paton’s 100% wool yarn, and it’s a decent match considering I forgot to bring the sweater with me to the store when I went to buy darning yarn. It’s a bit heavier weight, so the darned spots are a little stiffer, and it’s a touch darker. It’s more noticeable from the inside than the outside, I feel, and anyway I’m not that concerned if it’s not a perfect match. I’m not quite bold enough to do perfectly visible mending, but semi-visible mending doesn’t bother me.

The largest darned spot is obviously in the center, but you can also see the spot I mended in the collar at the top left.

I don’t actually have any other wool sweaters, so this was a great find – I’ve already worn it out a few times and it’s nice and warm in a way my other sweaters aren’t quite. (I imagine the partial felting helps with that, too.)

The last thing I managed to get mended is a quilt my late great grandmother made for me when I was a teenager (so… probably twenty years ago now). The edges have been pulling out of the binding and fraying for awhile. I just darned over the smaller spots, but this was one of the larger holes that I didn’t think just reinforcement was going to help:

So instead I took a scrap of flannel leftover from the PJs and patched it:


I’m kind of excited about the idea of it just getting patched and re-patched over the years, putting my own care into maintaining something that my great grandmother put her care into making for me. I’ll have my own boro quilt by the time I die, haha. I’ve been hesitant to use this quilt much since I don’t want to wash it much while there are holes, so it will be nice to put it back on the bed while it’s still winter.

The major mending I wanted to get done that did not is another item my great-grandmother made, a nightgown. It’s my favorite, because it’s knee-length rather than ankle-length (I hate it when nightgowns get twisted around my legs as I’m sleeping), and though it’s flannel, it’s lightweight enough that I can wear it in summer, too. It’s definitely going to be a project – the cuffs and neckline are all worn completely ragged, there’s a giant hole in the armpit, and there are a lot of spots that are just nearly worn through and need to be reinforced. It’s probably a week’s project on its own. I might also attempt to make a pattern from it before I fix it up, because unlike the quilt, the nightgown is unlikely to survive my lifetime no matter how much repair I do (although we’ll see), and I’d like to make another like it before this one falls to pieces.

Week 47: Underwear & Grocery Bag

Well the last part of the underwear, as expected, was a ridiculously quick sew. Batch-working these seems like the way to go. My yard of cotton jersey got me three pairs total, so next time I buy a yard for underwear I might just make all three pairs at the same time and save some time.

I know I said I was just going to cut the fabric for my bag this week, but my sew-jo came back and also Thanksgiving weekend came up and things




out of control.

I was so worried about being able to sew and cut through this nylon, but actually it cut beautifully and the major sewing problems I had were (I’m fairly sure) related to the thread, not the fabric. Sewing through the D-ring tabs (four layers, plus whatever I was stitching it to) was the hardest part, and definitely getting those attached around the bottom curves of the bag was a challenge, but basically the whole thing just went extremely smoothly, and now I have a nice grocery bag with sturdy seams and the ability to turn into a backpack for those long walks home with heavy stuff!

There were a few moments of confusion with the pattern, but in general the pictures explained most everything without me needing to use a ton of my Japanese skills (although they were nice to have as a backup). I like the book a lot, and will gladly use it when I want a new backpack.

I also sort of went a little overboard on Craftsy classes during the Black Friday sale. (Even though $17.87 isn’t that much better than the $20 sales they have all the time, I know.) I bought the last two of the Alison Smith Tailoring classes because I love every class she’s taught and also I’ve always secretly wanted to do tailoring, along with some others that either had been on my wishlist or just sounded appealing in the moment after a few beers.


That brings me to my next project! Ever since I got this fabric in Japan, I’ve been envisioning a short, tailored coat for it. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted with the style, and I wasn’t sure exactly how I needed to prep it, because it’s a very loose weave and I knew I was going to need to know before I started on it. But after watching the Structure and Shape class I’m feeling like I have a basic idea of where to start, at least, and then Seamwork’s Lilliana pattern came up when I was looking for a jacket pattern, and while it’s not exactly what I want, it’s close enough and a simple enough pattern that I think I feel comfortable making pattern modifications to get it there. (I’m going to add a lining and facings, more structure in the shoulders, and probably patch pockets because a jacket without pockets is no jacket at all.)

I’m going to start with a muslin, because I’ve had shoulder fitting issues on every top I’ve made, so better to get that over with in cheap fabric before hitting the good stuff.

Goals for next week:

  • Get this new pattern printed
  • Make any pattern adjustments I know I’m going to need right off the bat
  • Cut out muslin

Week 45: Selene, complete!

It’s done!

The hem is actually straight, I promise. I just can’t resist looking at that bias tape hem.

It’s been so long, I barely remember working on anything else. And although I’ve made this pattern before (the version without pockets), my unfortunate pattern adjustments made this one of the hardest projects to date. I’m frankly amazed it’s wearable at all! But actually, it mostly lays smoothly and I suspect I’m the only one who will see the problems. Plus I love some of the details – the pockets are great, I love the gold topstitching, and I am super proud of my hem now that it’s done.

In hindsight I probably should have gone with a quarter inch seam on my first pass attaching the bias tape, but I don’t really mind the wider strip there.

Lastly, I cut fabric out for two more pairs of underwear from my heart and skull knit fabric – which leaves me with just small scraps now – the first of my fabric stash I’ve officially used up.


Goals for next week:

  • two pair of underwear
  • ponder the next pattern

Week 26: Harrison Shirt

Happy halfway through the year week!

I leave for Japan on Tuesday, so I’m frantically trying to wrap up everything before then.

I did decide to go ahead and cut out the fabric behind the lace, which may have been a mistake. It’s fine when I’m standing, but when I lean over it pulls away from my chest a bit. Also it feels very fragile – this has become a hand-wash only bra for sure. (I usually machine wash and lay flat or hang to dry.) It looks very nice, though.

Here’s the weird fisheye dart I added:
It really looks like it needs topstitching, and actually the fabric on the back would probably stay in place better if I did that, too. I’ll have to do that by hand, to, though, so we’ll see how I feel after a few wearings. I was worried the dart would leave extra visible bulk but actually it looks much smoother with the dart added because of just how much excess fabric there was. It’s not perfect, but it’s wearable. I’m hopeful that my next one will be even closer to a perfect fit.

I made fantastic progress on the shirt, too! The only thing I have left to do is the buttonholes and the buttons, which I really hope go smoothly. I’m going to have to make a test buttonhole or two before I start so I don’t wreck everything with the final step.

I’m so pleased with the collar – it went together really smoothly (probably due to all the hand basting I did), and the stopstitching is pretty even.

I really enjoyed this pattern – I’ll need to make a few fit tweaks for the next one I make, but there definitely will be a next one. I am also DEEPLY in love with this fabric – the seersucker is super easy to work with, and kind of sticks to itself so it doesn’t slide around while you’re working on it. It’s a nice change from the rayon. (I love the feel of the rayon but dang!)

The only official goal I have for next week is actually a goal for tomorrow – I gotta get those buttonholes and buttons sewn on pronto. But I’m bringing knitting needles and yarn with me, since I have a long flight and a whole lot of train rides ahead of me, and I’m planning to post as usual next week. I just… gotta figure out when to post so that it will come up at the normal time, haha.

Week 22: Bra #2 and Shorts

I didn’t make it quite through all the small things on my list from last time, but on the other hand, I got way more done on the big projects, so I think it comes out pretty even.

First off, the small things that weren’t really worth photographing. I did bar tack the Akita shirt, although when I was going through the binding, I couldn’t find any of the raw edges I remember. I’m sure they’ll turn up again when I wash it and they start to fray. I also split the side seams on the black knit shirt and stitched them up separately, but I have not yet figured out how I want to handle the weird neckline facing issue. Topstitching it down would be the most effective, I think, but I’m not sure if visually it will be weird. (On the other hand, having to adjust the facing constantly throughout the day to tuck it back in is pretty visually weird, so…)

For some reason I thought that hand-stitching even the first part of the bias tape to the York neckline was a good idea, so that has gone more slowly than I’d anticipated.


I’m very nearly finished, though, and then I’ll just have to rip out that stay stitching. I haven’t touched the shoulder dart yet, so that’s still on the docket.

Undergarments below the cut. (Why am I suddenly all weird about this when my very first post was about underwear? Who even knows. Thanks, anxiety!)

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Week 19: Manila #2 and Bra #1

Hey there! I made a bra this week! I’m going to cover everything non-bra-related before the cut, so you can easily stop reading at that point if you don’t want to read in depth information about (my) boobies.


So the first order of business for the week was my second pair of the Manila leggings.


I really love this pattern. I should definitely have done some pattern matching, because one of those roses gets cut off right at center front, but fortunately these are leggings, and I subscribe to the “leggings aren’t pants” school of thought (at least on me). That cut-off rose will always be under a skirt, haha.

One of the freeing things about being a mediocre seamstress is that you can’t do much worse than ready to wear when it comes to pattern matching. If it sucks, people will assume you bought cheap pants – not the greatest thing for them to think when you put a bunch of work into something, but at least they won’t secretly judge your sewing failure.

Hand basting the waistband didn’t quite save me this time – I still wound up with one side of the waistband not tacked down in the seam, and had to unpick it and stitch it back down. I realized when I was doing the petal cuffs this time though that pressing this material actually does work, and keeps it from rolling – so next time I use something similar I’ll try pressing the waistband before I stitch it. I’m also tempted to wear gloves next time I use this fabric – it kept catching on nicks I couldn’t even feel on my fingers and fingernails.

As a side project, I’ve been unpicking a pair of black corduroys that met a tragic end by splitting right down the butt while I was out and about. Now that I’m sewing regularly, I was like “ooh, fabric!” and started thinking about things I could do with the remaining good fabric. I figured a knee-length skirt would be a good candidate, and I made Selene awhile back, and although I need to fix some fitting issues with it, it has that center front panel that would allow me to use a smaller piece from the pants. Unfortunately, when I laid the pattern out on the fabric, it became pretty clear I wasn’t going to have enough:

Of course Kaylee sat right on the clean fabric as soon as it came out of the dryer.

I might be able to tweak the back pattern to separate it into two pieces, but I think even doing that, there’s not enough good fabric left to cover the whole thing. The seat area has marks from where the pockets were, and the front pockets cut into my usable area on the front. I didn’t even bother to lay out the waistband pieces, because if needed I could have done the waistband in a separate fabric.

So, sadly, Selene is not going to work out for me here. I’m also questioning whether I can manage a skirt just from this one pair of pants at all. I might have to stash it and use it for a much smaller project, or as an accent fabric on something.

Complete tangent here: unpicking these pants was a really interesting experience. When I was a kid, probably even into my teen years, I assumed that ready to wear clothes were made entirely by machine. I don’t think it really occurred to me that real people could be making so many clothes, or that it would be so inexpensive if they were. Unpicking my inexpensive ready to wear pants reminded me that there are people behind the clothes we buy, sewing the same seams I’d be sewing if I made them myself. They do it day in and day out, on the same style of garment over and over again, and they’re paid substantially less than I am so that I can afford to buy a pair of pants that sort of fit me for less than $30.

Unpicking just felt like a weird sort of communion with the people overseas who did the sewing on them in the first place. This whole year of making all my clothes is at least partially to make me mindful of the process that goes into my ready to wear clothes, but this is the first time it’s really hit home.

OK, enough with the serious stuff, on to boobies!

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