I know I’m so not alone in thinking this, but HOW HAS ANOTHER YEAR GONE PAST?!
I feel like I blink and it’s Christmas again. Life passes me by and I’m another year older, and the husbeast has more grey hairs. And it’s another year where I still haven’t figured out how I get to be one of those influencers who don’t seem to work but instead, get paid to travel to exotic places all the time and post about it on Instagram for us cold miserable commuters to scroll past on our cramped train that will take us to our desk jobs 😂
Ah, ain’t life grand lol.
But in all seriousness, it hasn’t been a bad year. We’re all relatively healthy (apart from the cat who at the grand old age of fifteen went in for dental surgery last week, but he’s alright), we’ve both changed jobs this year, and I’ve tried out a few new things crafting-wise. Plus we’ve got a trip to NYC booked for early 2020, which I’m really excited about (because FABRIC SHOPPINGGGG 🙌🏻)
I like to do a little round-up of the year when it comes to a close because it can be easy to forget about how far we’ve come – it’s only when you look back that you realise that actually, you have defined your style a bit better, or you’ve improved with your choice in patterns and fails happen less often, or – in my case – you wear basically none of the skirts you made so how about you stop sewing them and get better at sewing jeans 🤦🏻♀️
So without further ado – here’s my 2019!
What did I make? Let’s start with the skirts…
Clockwise from top left:
Victory Patterns Madeline skirt (blog post)
Wedding outfit – Deer and Doe Datura and Simplicity 1099 (blog post)
Jupe Charlotte from Republique Du Chiffon (blog post)
Wonderland Skirt by Lily Sage (blog post)
Deer and Doe Agave skirt (blog post)
Skirts were mostly a fail for me this year. It’s taken me longer than it should have done to realise that I’m just not really a skirt person. The Madeline Skirt made me look like a milkmaid (and those straps are not compatible with boobs, FYI 😂). I didn’t like the asymmetry of the Deer and Doe Agave skirt. Plus, it’s a wrap-around skirt and it turns out I don’t like wraps either (bodices or skirts). The Jupe Charlotte from Republique Du Chiffon was okay, I would wear it more often but I was a bit optimistic with the sizing and in all honesty, it’s a tad on the small side. I wore it in New York while we were there and all the burgers and fries put a little strain on the zip 😨 and I can’t bring myself to unpick it and replace it. Plus the denim has got those annoying white wash-lines on it 😑 I really liked the Indian-inspired silk skirt I made for my friend’s wedding, but consider this to be a ‘going out’ style of skirt (rather than everyday wear), and I have very few occasions to wear something like this so it’s really not worth making more.
The Wonderland Skirt is the only winner here – despite me not really loving the wool fabric that I made this one from, or the rectangular waistband, I do actually like the style. I see a black one in my future, with a lace overlay on the skirt – basically, a gothic-style one that’s going to be worn with my massive boots. I just haven’t got round to it yet, and it takes some extra motivation to make something that’s plain black 😂
But it will happen.
Clockwise from top left:
Noodlehead Makers Tote (blog post)
Noodlehead Range Backpack (blog post)
Bionic Gear Bag (Not pictured, but blog post)
Sassafras Lane Daily Duffle gym bags (blog post)
Stoff and Stil washbag (blog post)
By Annie Round Trip Duffle Bag (blog post)
I feel like I made good progress with my bag making this year! The Makers Tote I made was really a ‘trial run’ – I’d never made anything like this before and wanted to see how well it went (spoiler – quite well. I’ve made another one since then). I’m not a handbag fan, instead preferring backpacks (I like to go hands-free!) so it made sense that I tried making one of those. The Range Backpack from Noodlehead was the chosen pattern, and I was pleased with the result and have plans for more (with some small adjustments). The gym bags I made for myself and the husband are possibly one of my most favourite makes EVER – they turned out SO well, and since so many people asked me where they could buy one, I’m going to make a batch of similar ones to go into the Etsy store next year 🙌🏻 The mandala bag looks so pretty and was one of the first projects I made on my Cricut machines. I love the way the purple looks with the gold, and the pouch is the perfect size to store some hanks of yarn 🧶
It turns out that I really enjoy bag making, and sometimes it’s nice to make something other than clothes, just for a bit of a cleanser. The Fennel Fanny pack is going to be made soon (like, maybe over the xmas break 🤔) which I’m really looking forward to!
DP Studio Le 809 coat with gilet (blog post)
Top to bottom:
By Hand London Victoria blazer (blog post)
Deer and Doe Opium coat (blog post)
Republique Du Chiffon Gerard coat (blog post)
Just four coats this year – but a whole lot of leopard print going on! The By Hand London blazer was a complete fail and got donated, and the Republic du Chiffon Gerard was also a bit meh on the fit and a poor fabric choice. It gets worn though. The Deer and Doe Opium coat was a good success – the leopard print version is my second one, but the wool fabric was maybe slightly too thick for such a skirt. The DP Studio Le 809 takes the award for the coolest coat I’ve ever made – it has a matching gilet on the inside! Definitely want to make another one of these, just because they are SO unique, but they take up a heck of a lot of wardrobe space!
Top row, left to right:
Burda fur jacket (blog post)
Folkwear Patterns/Alexander Henry Frontier Shirt (blog post)
Thread Theory Comox Trunks (blog post)
Versace print Folkwear Patterns Frontier Shirt (blog post)
Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat (blog post)
Western-style Folkwear Patterns Frontier shirt (blog post)
I’d been saying for a while that I wanted to get out of the habit of sewing shirt after shirt after shirt for the husbeast. Okay, so he happens to wear shirts for work, and so you could argue that multiples are therefore warranted, but it just gets a bit boring. I feel he’s not done too badly this year – yes, there’s still the obligatory shirts (three of ’em, and they are all the same pattern lolllz 🤷🏻♀️😂), but you’ve also got some boxers and a couple of coats thrown into the mix. Whilst that fur jacket looks cool, it’s wildly impractical – if it’s cold enough for a fur coat, a jacket isn’t gonna cut it amirite? Also, something weird happened with the folds on the facings and there’s no actual closure to the coat. So… yeah not really wearable. The boxers and the peacoat though are totes wearable and do get worn on the reg, so we’ll consider those a win. Coming up I’ve got a vintage vogue coat pattern to make for him, another shirt (yes that same pattern 😂🤦🏻♀️) and a couple of t-shirt patterns to try… so hopefully next year’s haul will have a bit more variety!
No promises, tho 🤪
Kindred Hats (blog post)
Kindred mittens (blog post)
I was a knitter WAY before I could sew, and I was a bit sad to realise that my needles had been somewhat neglected over the last couple of years while I really got into sewing. I was determined to fix that this year, and while there have only been two small projects hit the blog in 2019, there’s been a LOT going on in the background. I’ve got two jumpers that haven’t yet hit the blog, along with a shawl for the husband and a couple of hats. I’m determined to really get back into my knitting – I’ve started my first pair of socks (which I think might be addictive), and have more things in my Ravelry queue than I have time to knit in my lifetime.
Napkitten bi-fold wallet (blog post)
Kwik Sew 3247 apron (blog post)
Evie La Luve Effie crop top and Maxine panties (blog post)
The wallet looks pretty, but it’s a bit unwieldy and floppy (ooh-errrrr 😂). I’m currently making a zip-around wallet as a potential replacement, but given that I wanted something a bit smaller than this one (and the one I’m making is actually bigger), I’m not sure that it’s the best contender for a new one 🤔 The apron gets worn far less than I thought it would, probably because I’ve got nowhere to hang it in the kitchen and it sort of lives out of sight and out of mind. I still complain that the frying pan spits at me, and then remember the apron when it’s too late. The underwear served as a good starting block – the Effie crop top was a good effort, and I’d only make minimal changes for the next one. The high waisted pants were TOO high waisted, even after I reduced the rise by about an inch 😨 The fold-over elastic is uncomfortable around the leg, and I’d look to swap this for lingerie elastic on the next pair I made.
Guest Blogger – the Handsome Husbeast
This year, we were graced with just one guest post from the Handsome Husbeast (blog post here). Next year I’m gonna nag him to do more!
From left to right:
Named Patterns long-sleeved Kielo dress (blog post)
Trend Patterns 70s Dress (blog post)
Named Patterns sleeveless Kielo dress (blog post)
Two-thirds of these dresses are Kielos. Are you surprised? I’m not 😂 I’ve since tried to get around the terrible neckline of the Kielo by grafting on a turtleneck (the Trudy Turtleneck by Wardrobe By Me, to be precise), and I’m pleased to report it’s been pretty damn successful. I’m already planning the second one of those mashups in my head. There may even be a third. And a fourth. The Kielo is pretty much the only dress I will wear, in case you hadn’t figured that out 👀 You might have seen on my Instagram recently that I made the Vogue/Tracy Reese 1314 dress out of a leopard print jersey – I can report that I wore the dress once (to work) and it just fit SO badly around the shoulders, armpit and waist that it got chucked on the floor after it went through the wash and there it’s stayed. I will salvage the fabric (because it’s awesome and I can’t bear to see it go to waste), and depending on the size of the pieces I will either make some leggings or a long-sleeved t-shirt. The t-shirt will be my first choice because that will get worn the most for work, but I have a feeling I might not have enough 🙁
Tees, shirts and sweaters
Clockwise from top left:
Grainline Studios Linden sweatshirt (blog post)
Deer and Doe long sleeve Melilot shirt (blog post)
Grainline Studios knit Scout Tee (blog post)
Deer and Doe short sleeve Melilot shirt (blog post)
Megan Nielsen Rowan Tee (blog post)
Despite my resounding hatred of the Archer shirt from Grainline Studios (the fit was bloody awful on me), they have totally redeemed themselves with the Scout Tee and the Linden. I have MANY Scout Tees in my wardrobe, and although there’s just the one Linden at the moment, there fo sho will be many more. It’s so comfy, so easy to wear. I love it. I’ve got both long and short sleeve versions of the Deer and Doe Melilot shirt here on the blog – it’s a good style but I’m not a fan of the Liberty fabric that I used for the short-sleeved one (bottom centre). It’s just not ‘me’. I loved the fabric I used for the Megan Nielsen Rowan tee, but the first was AWFUL. The neckline was tight enough to choke you, and I made the size XL. Yep, really. Totally not a fan of it. I’ll stick to the Scout, thanks. Thankfully I bought more of that fabric so that I can make a Scout with it – the t-shirt will be repurposed into boxer shorts for the husbeast.
Next year I’m going to try the Trudy Turtleneck from Wardrobe By Me, in the long sleeve version that I can wear in the winter, and I am tempted to try more sweatshirt patterns as well 🤔
Left to right:
Avery Leggings by Helen’s Closet (blog post)
Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans (blog post)
Deer and Doe Safran trousers (blog post)
At the start of the year, I was terrified of sewing bottoms. I really really wanted to start making my own jeans (because I was fed up of making skirts that were easier but never got worn 🤦🏻♀️) but thought that they were this really complicated thing that only pros could make. Turns out they are nowhere near as difficult to make as I thought – but they are difficult to fit.
So, none of these three makes got a regular spot in the wardrobe, although they did serve as a starting block. The Avery’s are a super comfortable style, I just happened to make them a size too small 🤦🏻♀️ The seams were under too much strain for my liking. I made mine intending to use them in the gym, but I actually think I would rather make these in a cotton jersey to wear around the house (under my dressing gown / house coat 😂). The cord Dawn jeans were a good first attempt too – I realised that I needed more room in the thigh and leg, which I adjusted for on the following pair that haven’t hit the blog yet (🤦🏻♀️) I definitely see more Dawn’s in my future. The Safrans… well, they would be good as trousers, rather than jeans, because skinny jeans aren’t really my thing. They have a good high waist, but oddly, no yoke on the back – which means the pockets just look a bit weird 👀The Dawns are definitely the favourite pattern out of these three, and the one I will be pursuing to get a good fit. And then of course I’ll make twenty pairs 😆
Instagram Top Nine 2019
You can’t finish the year without doing the top nine off the ‘gram, can ya 😎
It’s awesome to see quite a variation in the top nine posts of this year – there’s bags, knitting, and even a Kielo!
Clockwise from top left:
- My Volt sweater, which is actually now finished. It’s a smidge on the large side, and when I put it on I remembered why I always size down on the recommended needles – because stuff always turns out big. Never mind, it just means it’s more of a ‘relaxed fit’!
- The Kielo dress that I made from a non-stretch viscose print that I scored an £8 remnant of from eBay. It remains one of my most worn items in the summer.
- One of the very first dresses I made when I started sewing – a Marvel Comics print halterneck dress.
- The Thread Theory Quadra jeans that I recently made for the husbeast (will be on the blog SOON!). I really felt I excelled myself with those back pockets, having drawn out the pattern by hand and then actually getting it stitched without it looking like a drunk did it. Winning!
- The Malabrigo Caracol yarn I picked up in Philadelphia last year which has now been made into a sweater! I always struggle with variegated yarns in that they never quite look how you think they will when they’re knitted up, and this is no exception. But, it’s the exact comfy, soft and warm sweater I imagined it would be.
- My long sleeve Deer and Doe Melilot blouse (again, on the blog sooooon!)
- THE GYM BAGS TO BEAT ALL GYM BAGS. YAS.
- The gloves I knitted to get back into my knitting – they’re looking a bit worse for wear now, but they live on!
- Annnnd in the centre is my very first Range Backpack from the Noodlehead pattern. I made a couple of changes from the pattern, and for the next one I’ll make a couple more, but it’s a fab pattern! I’d also like to try out their similar pattern, the Making Backpack.
Regular readers will know that in ‘real-life’, I work in finance. I’ve worked in finance since I was eighteen years old – so, like, forever. I’m not one of those people that want to climb all the way to the top of the corporate ladder though – life success to me isn’t defined by my job title or my salary, or the number of hours I put in every week. When you work in finance, people always assume that one day you want to be the CFO of some multinational corporation – because they can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want that.
Now I work in data protection and information security, which I realise sounds exceedingly dull, but it’s actually very interesting. When I left sixth form, I wanted to be a lawyer. I got myself a job as a trainee legal secretary, which I was hoping was the first step on my journey. It wasn’t to be though, as shortly before I was due to start they told me that the department wasn’t expanding as planned and that there was no longer a position. So I looked for another job and got one as a trainee accountant. The rest is history.
I never forgot my desire to get involved in law though, and the law paper I had to take for my accountancy exams was the highest mark of all my papers. Now, I seem to have come full circle because data protection revolves very closely around the GDPR legislation here in the EU – so, in a way, I got my law job, it just took me seventeen years 😂
It allows me a bit more flexibility around where I work and will continue to be a part-time role so that we can manage our side hustle a bit more comfortably. I’ve got to take a couple of exams next year, so it’ll be back to the books for a bit – eek!
Sewing in the UK (but if you didn’t buy your own fabric, your sewing doesn’t count)
A few of you lovely readers might have found me through the Facebook group ‘Sewing In The UK’. If you rely on my weekly posts there to prompt you to come to the blog for your next dose of my ramblings, you’re not gonna be seeing them anymore. Not because I can’t be bothered to post on other social media channels, but because I’ve been banned from the group. Yep – banned lol. I’ve never been banned from anything in my life – I feel like such a rebel 😂
The group is called ‘Sewing in the UK’ but it transpires that the point of the group isn’t so much the sewing, but where you get your fabric from. If you were gifted or sponsored your fabric, it seems they don’t want to hear about your sewing 🤷🏻♀️ The last project I posted to the group (before I was banned 😂) was the husbeast’s peacoat from two weeks ago – the wool fabric was provided to me free of charge by Minerva, but I bought all the buttons, lining, pattern and whatnot myself. I mean, I think their reason for banning me is that my post classed as ‘advertising’ – but I think there’s a discussion to be had here, and me and the husbeast had it without coming to a real agreement. He thought that where fabric was provided by a brand, it counted as ‘advertising’, I kind of disagreed and said that there’s a difference between spammy advertising like ‘RAY BANS HALF PRICE THROUGH THIS LINK!’ (who else hates posts like that?!) and saying that a brand provided you fabric for free. Yes, I realise that you’re name-dropping a brand, but I would ALWAYS say where I got my fabric from on every single post, regardless of whether I paid for the fabric or it was provided for free. And I buy a lot of materials from Minerva, in addition to what I use for my Blogger Network projects. Receiving materials for projects is increasingly common across a lot of crafts nowadays, and for sure we don’t all have an endless pot of money to buy all the fabrics we desire. Sometimes we accept the free fabrics so that we can keep on creating and paying the bills.
I know that it’s a fine line though between someone being totally honest about what the product was really like, and just bigging it up because they want more free stuff from that brand in the future. For me personally, if a fabric was horrible then I’d say so – because who does it benefit if I lie? No one. The shop that sells it might want to stop selling it if it will tarnish people’s opinion of the quality of their products, and they will only know it’s rubbish if someone tells them. I always think that honesty is the best policy. I for one don’t care one bit if someone was given fabric to use for their project, so long as the post isn’t a thousand words of OMG THIS FABRIC IS AWESOME IT’S REALLY THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD YOU MUST GO BUY IT NOW THROUGH THIS LINK! FORGET WHAT I’VE MADE WITH IT, THIS BRAND IS AWESOME GO BUY FROM THEM’. If it’s a simple ‘I was given the fabric from whatever brand, now let’s move on and talk about what I made, how the fabric performed and how the project turned out’, then I am 100% cool 🤷🏻♀️
One thing that I had a little chuckle about while reading the ‘rules of the group’ (to see what it was I’d done wrong exactly) was that they said you had to be polite (a very reasonable request) but that also ‘if you couldn’t say what you wanted to say in front of your Gran, then you shouldn’t say it there either’. I’m sorry, what?! Not only is that a totally vague rule – some people’s Gran’s could totes be down with the word ‘fuck’ and some people’s would be horrified, so which is it 🤷🏻♀️ – but isn’t that also being a bit dismissive of the way communication has changed throughout the years?! I mean, I’m not gonna be rude, because I’m a decent human being, but I’m also not going to censor my words like it’s the 1930’s. Because time has moved on, guys.
Meh, I’m not gonna lose any sleep over getting banned, but if you’re wondering where my posts have gone from that group – now you know why!
I am also very interested to hear your views on the whole sponsored-fabric situation – so talk to me in the comments (and total honesty is, of course, encouraged) 💜
We’ve run our Etsy store for two and a half years now and learned a heck of a lot. It’s been way more of a journey than we ever expected. We’ve done a few weekend markets this year in the run-up to Christmas (some successful, some not) and have done a lot of thinking about where we want to go with it in the future.
I’m happy that by sort-of pure accident, I’ve discovered what it is I want the brand to become. I’ve found my vibe. I just need to bring it to life. I have a gazillion ideas floating around my head of how I do that, but they all require time – which I’ve hopefully just clawed back a bit more of with my new job as I get to use the time I would have spent commuting on sewing instead. Yay!
I had a little wobble a while back and considered cutting my hair – like proper short. I was fed up with it getting stuck under my armpit, or waking up in the morning with the plait I’d tied it in (so it didn’t turn into a birds nest while I slept) wrapped around my throat. Cutting it short seemed to be the perfect solution to these problems, but I sat and thought about it for a bit because it’s literally taken me YEARS to get my hair to this length. Then I started to see the error of my ways – it would mean much more frequent haircuts from an actual hairdresser (currently, the husbeast goes around the ends with our scissors about twice a year) much more frequent dyeing (because it’s gonna grow out super-quick), and if I hated it short, there was no quick fix to get it back to how it is now. There’s not even a slow fix – I’d literally be growing it till I was forty. So I decided not to cut it short. Then, a couple of weeks back, I thought about growing out my fringe. I’ve only had a fringe for about five years (ish), and sometimes I wonder about growing it out again… but then I don’t want to be too forehead-y 😂 (which is how I felt when I didn’t have a fringe, and that’s why I cut the fringe in the first place). But instead of growing it out, I’ve settled on just having it a bit longer, and not so blunt. I liked my fringe when it was super short and blunt, but the husbeast didn’t and used to slap my forehead when he got the chance 😑 So I’ll be keeping the fringe.
The calm before the storm
After the hair dramas came and went, I started thinking about getting my septum pierced – it’s something that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a verrrry long time, and I kept seeing really pretty jewellery that made me want to have it done. Like this ring:
IT’S SO PRETTY 😍
But the thing that was putting me off was the actual piercing. Yes, I have my nose pierced, but back in the day when I got that done as a teenager, all piercings were done with a gun. It was super fast and there were no needles involved. Nowadays, pretty much everything is done with a needle, and the thought of having a needle shoved through my nose is enough to make me vomit and pass out. The husbeast has had piercings with a needle (some of which I think I passed out at 😂) but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m a wuss.
But then that pretty jewellery kept hounding me. And for whatever reason, I got a little braver.
And a little braver.
And then started scouting out places that did septum piercings, and reading the reviews to see if they were nice people that would be patient with a nervous wreck like me.
And then it was the weekend, and all of a sudden we were on a train to Shoreditch, and then I was sitting in a chair getting all nervous-sweaty and trying to remember to breathe and then there was a guy marking my nose and the husbeast holding my hand and watching for signs I might pass out and then it felt like someone had shoved a needle through my nose and it was done.
At thirty-five years old, I’d got my first (needle) piercing, and survived, and got a lollipop for my bravery 😂
This is the worst picture (taken in the tube station after I’d just had to walk there from the piercing studio in the rain), but GUYS I GOT MY SEPTUM RING 🤘🏻 (Yes, it’s a bit of an ugly ring but this is what they have to pierce it with initially. In six to eight weeks I can remove it and put the pretty one in yaaaaaay ☺️)
I feel like now I’ve survived that, I can take on the world 💪🏻
In case anyone’s interested, I got it done at Prick (loooolz yes really that’s their name) in east London and can totally recommend 👌🏻
This year was the first year I participated in Make Nine, and it was kinda useful. It highlighted to me the things that I wear on the regular for work (jeans, t-shirts and jumpers) and the things that just sit in my wardrobe (dresses, shirts that are made of crease-y fabrics), which should help direct my future makes towards things I will actually wear.
Best films I watched this year: Green Book, The Dead Don’t Die, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Joker
Worst films I sat through: Ad Astra, Aladdin (don’t mess with my childhood movies plz Disney)
Best book I read this year: A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara (I finally finished it after three failed attempts because life got in the way)
Sneak Peek at 2020
I’ll leave you with a little sneak peek of a handful of things that will be hitting the blog in early 2020 👀 Which one are you most excited to see?!
How was your 2019? Did you conquer any sewing challenges? What was your favourite make?
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday break, and may however you choose to spend it bring you joy 💜
Happy Sunday ✌🏻
Next week on the blog – it’s my final post of the year 👀 I’ll be evaluating my 2019 Make Nine, and announcing my the patterns I’ve chosen for my 2020 nine! Subscribe below to have the post drop straight into your inbox! 🙌🏻