Top 5 of 2013

31 Dec

Just sneaking in before 2013 is over, I thought I’d jump on the (increasingly full!) bandwagon with some of my top fives from this year, as started by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, as well as a bit of a general round up.


In total, I think I have made 11 garments this year (I’m sure it was 12 when I counted a few weeks ago, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the 12th one is! Ah, I finally remembered it – 12 this year!) – 10 for myself, and the two pairs of baby dungarees I made. When I worked this out, I was quite pleased – given that I didn’t start sewing clothes until my dressmaking course in April/May, and that I’ve constantly felt like I don’t have enough time to get anything done, I’m quite pleased with that output. Of course I then look at my list of items that I want to sew, and there are about 26 on that (and that’s only counting the ones which I have both the pattern and fabric for already!), and I think I’d better pick up my pace a bit!

As well as the clothes, I also made my baguette quiver, a wedding garter, and 4 cushions and some napkins that were Christmas presents and will be blogged about shortly…

So let’s start with my top hits from this year:

1. Coming in at number 1 HAS to be my Bombshell swimsuit


I love this swimsuit! It was only the second ever item of clothing I made, and should have been so out of my league, that I can’t help but feel incredibly chuffed that I actually made a swimsuit! In fact, I think the fact that it was something so tricky and that I was probably insane for even trying it made it easier somehow (crazy I know, but bear with me!) – there was no real fear of failure, because I completely expected to not be able to do it, so every time something went right, it was a huge bonus. I had never sewn with knits before (I’d barely sewn with anything!), had just bought an overlocker that I really had no idea how to use, and didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. But that meant that, if it didn’t work out, it wasn’t really my fault, it was just that I wasn’t ready to do something co complicated yet, and that made it so much easier. Seriously, I have only sewn with knits once since this, and it took me a long time to get around to that – I seem to be developing fears of things now that I have started knowing how to do them! Must get over that!

2. Number 2 isn’t anything that I made for myself, but there is no question that it has to be my baby dungarees

baby dungarees

These are the only items of clothing I’ve ever sewn for anyone else, and I love them! The only thing I am disappointed about with these is that the photos don’t do them justice! Hopefully the babies they were made for should be fitting into them soon, I can’t wait to see them on!

3. A double dose of Kelly – corduroy Kelly skirt and denim Kelly skirt



What can I say, I love this pattern. I t has nothing to do with the name I swear! It’s such a simple pattern, so quick and easy to make (other than those damn buttonholes!), but has such a great end result. These are my two most worn makes by a long way, which surprises me, as when I started sewing, I was all about the dresses. Much as I love wearing dresses, these skirts just seem to be so practical.

4. The Giraffe Dress

Easy dress supplies

I kind of forgot about this one when I was thinking about this list, because it’s been a while since I’ve worn it, given the weather! But I did get a lot of wear out of it in the summer, and it was such a quick and easy make!

5. The Wedding Garter

wedding garter

This was a garter that I made for a friend who was getting married in the summer. Given that I haven’t made that many things for other people, I’ve surprised myself by putting two of them in my top five! This one made it here for a number of reasons – 1. It was a success and the bride really liked it; 2. I actually managed to get something finished by the deadline I had, despite not having much time to do it (this is a big thing, I need to manage that more often!) and 3. It has been a massive success for this blog – it is my most popular post by a longggg way, and is the only post that reliably gets hits every single day. Evidently lots of people want to make wedding garters, who knew!

Moving on from the hits, there have been a few misses this year as well, so let’s have a quick look at those.

1. Scout woven tee

scout woven tee

The fit of this is just not quite right – looser clothes aren’t my typical style, but I thought I’d give it a go. However, I could really have done with cutting a smaller size, and maybe doing an FBA and adding some darts. As yet, this has not been worn and is sitting in my pile of things that need something doing to them.

2. Paper tape dress form


This is not a complete miss, it is just not quite finished. My plan was to use the shell we created as a mould, to line with felt and more paper tape to make a dress form that should actually be my size. I did do this, and I now have 4 halves of dress forms that have been sitting round our living room for the last few months! I just haven’t got round to sticking the two halves together and finishing it off. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that it’s going to work as I wanted, which I think is why I’m putting it off – if I don’t finish it, then it can’t be completely classed as a fail! I have also lost weight since we made them, and so I have a feeling that it’s not even going to be the right size for me any more!

3. Simplicity 2415

Simplicity 2415


This never made it past the horrendously too big in fabric that really wasn’t right for it toile. I still like the pattern and I’ll go back to it one day…

4. Stella blouse

As soon as Abby from Blue Ginger Doll released the Stella blouse pattern, I decided I wanted it. When she released it as a PDF, I bought it almost immediately. I spent a weekend trying to make it, but it hasn’t worked out for me so far. I had a few issues getting the PDF to line up, but that’s not uncommon. I was using this pattern to have a go at my first FBA, after doing my fitting course, but after a weekend of playing around, I haven’t got much to show other than a hacked up pattern piece, and the fabric for a toile that I have not yet managed to get to fit properly. I needed to move the darts down, quite a lot, and I think I still need to move them further. I will go back and start from scratch with another toile, as I really want to make this pattern work!

5. Simplicity 1803 – my first dress

simplicity 1803

I ummed and ahhed a bit over whether to include this one here or not. I love this dress. But…it really doesn’t fit that well. I should definitely have made a smaller size and done an FBA, but, it was the first thing I made and I didn’t even have a clue what that was! It was a huge success in that I made a dress, it worked, the princess seams worked, and it looks great…when I am standing up straight, with my shoulders back, so the yoke doesn’t gape at the front. There’s a lot of excess around the waist – it’s not necessarily that noticeable, but I know it’s there and it bothers me when I’m wearing it. Probably even more so now that I’ve lost weight. I would like to take it in so that I am happy with it again, and can hopefully wear it some more in the summer. That’s the other thing – it’s a gorgeous dress, but I had limited opportunities to wear it. Less a miss, more a learning experience (which is what your first project should be surely!).

So those are my misses – a couple of complete disasters, and a couple that, with a bit more work, would probably have made it into the hits category instead.

I have to admit, I am a little surprised that I didn’t end up putting more dresses in my top hits – really, I am all about making the dresses, and I do actually wear a lot of dresses as well. I think the main issue is with the fit – I haven’t yet conquered the FBA successfully, and I think that will be the key to making dresses and tops that I am happy with.

And this brings me nicely onto my goals, which are largely based on some reflections from the past year.

1. Conquer fit! I have made some nice items of clothing this year, but the ones I haven’t been so happy with are the ones where the fit isn’t so great, and I really could have some with some alterations. Conversely, my most worn items are skirts which required no fitting. Recently, when I haven’t had much time to sew, I’ve shied away from picking projects that I knew would require some fitting, as I wanted a quick win. I just need to get a couple of successful fits under my belt and I think that I’ll then feel more confident in choosing projects that require some work.


2. Attend some blogger meet ups. I really wanted to attend the meet up in London in August, but was at a friend’s wedding. I’m going to make sure that I make it to some meet ups this year, as the sewists I have met have all been such good fun! Plus, I need someone to keep me in check when fabric shopping!

3. Actually finish my projects. I have developed a bit of a bad habit – I’ll spend a day making a dress and do everything other than the hem and the zip. Or a skirt will be completely finished other than the buttonholes. It will then sit around for weeks, or even months, waiting for those last little fiddly (and boring!) bits to be finished. In the meantime, it is playing on my mind that I need to do it, and I miss out on wearing the item. It’s silly and I just need to get on and finish projects when I make them!

4. Make the most of my sewing time. I spend so much time getting worked up at how little time I have to get any sewing done, and of course I could be spending that time sewing instead! I also often have so many projects that I want to make, that I don’t even know where to start, and just end up floundering, and getting nothing done. I’m going to make much more of an effort in 2014 to make the most of every little bit of time I have to sew. This should be hugely helped once we have moved into the new house, as I’ll have a sewing room! I can’t wait! At the moment, my sewing takes place on our dining table, and essentially takes up half our living room. I don’t have enough space to have my sewing machine, overlocker and cutting mat out at once, so I’m constantly having to move things around, and having to get everything out, and tidy up at the end of every sewing session means that, if I only have half an hour, it’s not even worth starting.

I’m hoping that, once I have a sewing room and can leave everything out, being able to sew in those odd 20 minutes, and have everything I need out at once, will make me a lot more productive. That’s the theory anyway! Time will tell whether it works, I’m determined to try and make better use of my time. My sewing machine will probably have to be packed away soon ready for the move, and I’m not going to have much time to sew for a while, as I’ll be spending much of my time decorating and getting the house straight, but it’s going to be so worth it in the end!

I’m really excited about 2014, there are so many great things to look forward to, and I hope you all are too! What are your goals for the upcoming year?


10 Responses to “Top 5 of 2013”

  1. Daniela M. December 31, 2013 at 13:44 #

    These are great goals that you are having there! And I am sure you will get much more sewing done when you have your own space! It will be so much fun, decorating your sewing room! My goals for 2014 are also to obtain the perfect fit! And to conquer my fear of princess seams, I just don’t know how to fit them especially because the my apexes are so much lower than indicated in the patterns :( I know that feeling when you want to sew so much and then at the end you start nothing. So fingers crossed, we will overcome that problem. Have a Happy New Year, Kelly!

    • Kelly January 1, 2014 at 20:17 #

      Thanks Daniela! I’m just hoping that I can stick to them, but I really think that the room will help! I can’t wait to get in and decorate the room! Good luck with your fitting too. If you’re ever down Oxford way, come hang out in my sewing room and we can work on fit together :) I hope you have a great new year too!

  2. Rachel December 31, 2013 at 14:08 #

    I’m definitely in agreement about the need for a sewing room. I think it’s a killer for productivity, because, like you say, when you know you have to get stuff out and pack it away, it feels like there’s no point starting unless you have a decent amount of sewing time available. It’s interesting as well, because Lauren says that one of the reasons she is so productive is because she uses small amounts of time wisely (, but it’s so hard to do when you don’t have a sewing room. Anyway, enough of my whining – I hope you have a happy new year!

    • Kelly January 1, 2014 at 20:20 #

      Yeah, I was re-reading Lauren’s post yesterday, and I really hope it helps. I just need to get myself out of the mindset of thinking there isn’t any point in starting when I only have a short bit of time. Even if it’s just sticking PDF patterns together, that’s one less thing I need to do later! I was just reading your goals post and realised I missed off one goal I meant to include of getting more confident sewing with knits! I ought to include sewing the patterns I already have as well – it’s so easy to buy new shiny patterns and not get round to sewing all the ones we have! I hope your new year gets off to a good start and you finally get some sewing space!

  3. mrszandstra December 31, 2013 at 14:42 #

    I love your Kelly skirts – I just made a pink cord one but had misgivings about the pleats at the back and my wide hips! I will have to review it after I have shifted a few mince pie related extra pounds that I seem to have gained!


    • Kelly January 1, 2014 at 20:21 #

      Thanks Louise, I adore them, and get so much wear out of them! I think a few people have had the same issue with the pleats, but yes, straight after Christmas is probably not the best time to try! I’m sure it will look great when you come back to it :) Have a good new year!

  4. fionaparker17 January 1, 2014 at 15:05 #

    I love your Bombshell! I totally get what you mean about being more afraid of certain techniques the more you learn, what is that?! Looking forward to hopefully getting to meet you IRL at a meet up in 2014 then!

    • Kelly January 1, 2014 at 20:24 #

      Thanks Fiona! It’s weird isn’t it?! That’s why, when I saw your Robson, I thought that maybe I should just throw myself into making a coat. Definitely want to start sewing more knits though, as I wear RTW ones so much, so I just need to get over that developed fear! Have a great new year, and yes, hopefully see you at some point :)

  5. Ruth Procter January 2, 2014 at 19:32 #

    I’m very envious of you getting a sewing room soon! My sewing space is my dining room table too so I know exactly what you mean about having to spend time getting everything out and putting it away again. I’d also love to get to some blogger meet ups this year – I don’t know anyone IRL that sews so it would be great to meet people in person! And I love your Bombshell swimsuit – I can’t believe it was only the second thing you ever made!

    • Kelly January 11, 2014 at 22:53 #

      Thanks for your lovely comment Ruth :) I know, I can’t WAIT for the sewing room, I’m hoping it will make me so much more productive! Luckily I have a few sewing friends, but I’d love to meet up with more sewists and bloggers :)

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