Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

With the end of the year quickly approaching, the time to reflect is upon us.  This year was a relatively big year for our household. We've been busy settling in, working on our house, traveling, and improving our health so, the year seemed to fly by.  Between everything else though, I didn't have much time or desire to sew or knit.  I'm planning to change that in the coming year but, for now it's time to take a look at the things I did accomplish.

(Note: as much as I'd love to participate in the "Top 5" posts, I didn't make enough things! haha So, here's everything, in order of completion.)

  • Two chunky cowl scarves - Hooray for learning to knit!! All three of my hand-knit items are huge wins in my book because, hello, new skill! Woo!
  • A diamond-patterned slouchy knit hat - it seems I put this on Ravelry and Kollabora but didn't blog it? Love it though! I'll admit to being quite tickled that it looked like a "real" hat (I never feel my crochet pieces do).
  • Betty's Picnic Dress - Love this too, though I am starting to doubt myself in prints... more on that later.
  • Raspberry Renfrew - This sooo cozy but, not polished so, it's athletic wear now. I'm happy with that.
  • Teacup Floral Sorbetto - Unblogged and I'm still unsure how I feel about it...
  • Brasilia Dress - You know I love this one! Finished in November and worn three times already! I think that's a me-made record :)

So, actually my success rate was pretty good this year.  I like everything I finished, yay! But, of course, new UFOs were added to last year's list. (All of last year's remain unfinished except the simple gathered wool boucle skirt, which, unfortunately, is too short and was never blogged.)
  • An ivory/blue floral silk challis dress - I meant to finish this for the Challis Chalet but, one thing after another came up and then, I started second guessing the fabric for my skin tone... hopefully, new motivation will find me next year so I can finish it.
  • A white/blue Brooks Brother skirt copy (Jo-Ann sold the same fabric!) - I technically finished this one but, I feel it's too short so, I have plans to add a contrast band at the bottom.  Unfortunately, it's polyester so, my motivation to make it wearable has been minimal.
  • A navy cotton twill nautical skirt - I'm roughly half-way through this one and I know I'm going to love it.  I got bored making a "staple" piece though and put it aside to start on a cobalt peplum skirt.
  • A cobalt blue cotton sateen peplum skirt - This one was put aside because we left for a vacation just after I cut it. I hope to finish it next year.
Not as bad as last year but, then again, I didn't finish as many either.

I also currently have two works-in-progress that I'll add to one of the lists above after the new year:
  • A burgundy swing jacket to go with my Brasilia Dress - I made it a bit more complicated than the pattern intended by adding a lining then, we went out of town for Thanksgiving.  When we returned, I was sick, then opted to work on my emerald skirt instead.
  • A light emerald half-circle wool skirt - self-drafted, nearly there, just needs a hem.

As for the resolutions I made last year, it's not looking so good.  In the jar, I pledged trousers and a jacket.  As I mentioned, I do have a jacket in progress and I may finish it in time but, it's unlikely at this point.  The trousers, I decided to postpone because I'm still mulling over what pattern would look best on me.  Being pear shaped, I'm intrigued by the Thurlows but, I'm still warming to the idea of a wider leg.  I also promised Cindy that I would use 8 pieces of my stash fabric, including one for Brandon.  Well, sadly, I didn't make him anything and I only used two stash pieces.  And, I added waaaay more than two pieces to my collection.  Ah well. :-P

Enough about 2013, let's look forward, shall we?  I agree with last year's statement that I need to schedule ~2 weeks for each garment I want to make.  However, I now realize I need structure in order to adhere to that.  So, this year, I hope to find more challenges to participate in to give me deadlines and I plan to keep a monthly planner in my sewing room with "due dates".  The deadlines should keep me motivated and moving forward but, I need to choose my challenges carefully.  I know that I need to plan my queue according to what inspires me and suits my lifestyle, rather than making up projects to fit themes.  As fun as themes are, those garments just don't get worn as much as the ones I chose on my own.

This year, I want to focus on simple, classic garments.  Not necessarily what most would consider "staples" but, tasteful pieces that I know I'll reach for.  The Brasilia Dress really showed me how much I actually love a simple dress in quality fabric.  I'm shocked I love a solid-colored garment so much but, I do!  Running with that idea, I've decided to start 2014 off by (unofficially) participating in SWAP.  I've already selected my 11 garments and I'm excited about each one! More on that to come :)

And since no year-end post would be complete without a few resolutions, here you go:
  • Sew at least one pair of trousers or shorts
  • Sew at least one jacket, coat, etc
  • Learn new knitting techniques (cables, colorwork, and or difficult stitches) 
  • Knit at least one garment
  • Sew 18 garments total! (I could fit 20-25 but, we're planning to travel this year as well and trips really throw off my groove. Also, I expect some projects to take longer.)

So, how did your 2013 go?  Did you meet all of your goals?  Are you setting new ones this year?  Please share!

Happy sewing! x

Finished: Pattern Testing House of Pinheiro's Brasilia Dress

It may be quite easy to guess that my sewing mojo has been next to non-existent this year.  I eventually wondered if it would ever return.  Luckily, I just happened to check my blogroll the day Rachel sent out a call for pattern testers.  I positively loved her "Fall for Cotton" sateen version so, of course I jumped at the chance!

Scarf: J. Crew
Dress: me-made
Shoes: Corso Como
Jewelry: NY&Co, vintage

This dress is just the thing for sewer's block/mojo loss.  It's quick and relatively easy and the absolute perfect balance of a classic silhouette with modern style lines.  I love, love, LOVE the seaming on this dress!  Such a small detail really but, I think it makes a great impact.

Unique bust darts and my first use of piping - this dress begged for it!
(Ignore the slouch, of course)
For my version, I knew immediately I wanted to use a burgundy wool.  Technically, I originally sketched it as bouclé with frayed seam lines but, when I ventured to my local shops, there was no suitable bouclé to be found.  What I did find was a wonderful 100% wool flannel, which made for a sleeker look.

Of course, since I had selected a fabric with no stretch, and the pattern had been designed for fabrics such as stretch sateen, adjustments would need to be made.  I knew I owed it to Rachel, and myself, to really give this dress my all.  So, I started with a muslin sewn up straight from the original pattern (my waist and hip measurements actually match hers).  From there, I made a few narrow-back and sway-back adjustments, took up an inch in the bodice for my short waist, and let out the tiniest bit all around the hip to account for the lack of stretch.  Then, I actually whipped up another muslin (very rare for me), made a few very minor tweaks here and there, and then excitedly cut into the pretty wool.

Mind you, I made it three times (four if you count the lining of the final dress) but, I have to say sewing this dress was quite a breeze.  Rachel has such a great eye for detail and so drafted her inaugural pattern very well.  Everything fit together nicely (though, I would recommend tracing the stitching lines for the inset, just to be safe, particularly for slippery fabrics such as the Bemberg lining) and there's only a handful of seams, making this pattern one you can (and will definitely want to) whip up again and again!

There's so much you can do with a great basic like this, particularly with the fantastic inset detail.  Piping is a great start but you could also fray the seams, play with patterns or color blocking, mix textures, the list goes on really.  It would also make the perfect LBD!  Classic, of course, but with great style.  As for me, my next version is going to be a sharkskin wool with leather! sides.

             Brasilia Dress Back View     Brasilia Dress Bundled Up
Left:  Back view, which would be smoother if I stood up straight ;)  Right: How I bundled up between pictures...it was freezing!!

Seriously, when Rachel releases this lovely gift on Christmas Day, POUNCE!  I'm thoroughly convinced it's going to be universally flattering.  Despite some recent body-image issues, I found it impossible not to feel fantastic in this dress.  Besides, if it broke my rut, it's bound to work wonders for anyone else's enthusiasm. I guarantee you're going to adore this pattern.

Three cheers for Rachel!!!  Thanks so much, Hun, for allowing me to test this great pattern and giving me my mojo back! (Many happy dances ensued :)

Happy sewing! x

Project details
  • Pattern: Brasilia Dress by House of Pinheiro, $0
  • Year: To-be-released later this month!
  • Fabric: 1.75yds (used ~1.1) burgundy medium-weight wool flannel, Gail K Atlanta $21; 2yds biking red Bemberg Ambiance lining, Jo-Ann $10
  • Notions: 1.5yds burgundy braided piping, ~$3; 22" invisible zipper, $2, 2 spools Gutermann #450 thread (used 1), $1.80, lightweight grey interfacing from stash
  • Time to complete: ~1.5 weeks, including two muslins and full lining
  • First worn: for an afternoon of shopping with old friends (funny note: they wore jeans but, I felt so great in this dress, I opted to wear it anyway)
  • Wear again: already have, for photos at Colonial Williamsburg, and will again for Brandon's company party
  • Total cost: ~$38