Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 Hits and Misses

My, being on holiday really frees up time for blogging, this is definitely the most frequently I've blogged since I started! I've also been enjoying more time to read others' blogs and gather inspiration for the coming year's projects. This time last year I'd only made a couple of bags and was avidly reading other peoples' Top 5s to build up my list of blogs to read and patterns to be tempted by, and after a year I feel I have enough experience under my belt to throw my own Top 5s into the ring!

Looking back on this year is conflicting for me as I'm proud of all the things I've made, but none of them have been perfect. A lot of them will straddle the traditional 'Hits' and 'Misses' categories, so that's how I will handle them. Here's five in chronological order:


At the very beginning is my first Anna dress. I was so proud of this when I finished it and wore it all the time! I had so many challenges in the process, many of them due to trying to rush the dress through to completion. The zip is horribly inserted (for some reason I totally ignored the instructions and went with an old half-remembered method), the seams are a disgrace, the hem is lumpy, the sleeves are uneven, the list could go on! But on some aspects of this make I really took my time (why such an inconsistent approach?!). I got into good habits by tracing off the pattern, I followed the sewalong and tried my hand at my first FBA, I even modified the sleeves to 3/4 length.

So although this dress is now due to be scrapped, it's definitely a hit for me as well as being a miss in equal measure, and taught me a lot! My second Anna was a vast improvement and was a staple part of my summer wardrobe, although there are still some fitting issues to be addressed for future versions (of which I have many planned!).


Following quickly on Anna's heels was the Charlotte skirt, a pattern I also acquired in my round of Christmas pattern requests last year (all Dolly Clackett's fault). Again, my Daffodil Charlotte is a hit for me because I enjoyed making it, loved wearing it, and still get loads of compliments when I decide to put it on. And again, there are a few flaws in the construction (mainly uneven gathers at the flounce really), but this is something that doesn't get that much wear because the fit is a bit off. I'm looking forward to making another version that isn't straining to contain me quite so much as this one is! I think I'd even like to make it daffodil-coloured again.

Also, now that I know a bit more about construction I'd do something to make it easier to walk in- the flounce is lovely but having it the whole way around makes getting anywhere a challenge, and for some reason I always end up having to run for the bus when I'm wearing this (and as I have no shame, I go for it, swinging my feet out as far as they will go to try and cover some ground!). This has resulted in a fair bit of strain at the bottom of the seam which I've patched up a couple of times but reckon it'll be scrapped as soon as I can get together a decent replacement.


I think I over-reached myself when making this- the 'Heartache Sweetheart' as it came to be known. I had some bold design choices that my skills at the time just couldn't handle (the semi sheer fabric vs facings, mainly). I do wear this surprisingly often, considering it doesn't really fit at all and has to be tamed with a belt! I also wear with a slip to stop the facing and seam allowances showing through. Apart from the woefully wrong (at the time- I still love the idea behind this!) fabric choice this dress just didn't fit my shape at all, despite some adjustments I made to the seams to try and bring it in and give it more definition where required. I love the design and the aesthetic (and the pattern was a very thoughtful gift) and have dreamt up versions in other fabrics in my head- I just need the energy and patience to muslin up another go at it and really take time working through the fit.


I am so, so gutted that my Air Hostess Megan dress has to be filed under 'miss'. But it definitely does, because like a goon I went ahead and made it too small. I was tired after the faff of the Sweetheart dress so decided to make this up without bothering to do an FBA. Big mistake. In fact, the dress could really be bigger all over (I think it has shrunk a little in the wash, even though I pre-washed the fabric), but even though I opened out the dart tucks to make for a roomier fit this dress is almost painful to wear. I'm kicking myself about this because it's yet another thing that I took the time over in other aspects but skimmed over a really key area. It's one of the more careful and precise things I've made (due I'm sure to Tilly's excellent instructions) and again I love the design choice I made with the fabric. Basically it's only a hit in that it's probably the most well-constructed dress I've made, and because if I could do it again exactly but slightly bigger I would!


This is the one thing that I've made this year that I have not and definitely will not wear! However, for once this doesn't really matter, as these are just a toile so weren't a fabric or emotional design investment. So that's a win for me! It took some time, and I didn't (and don't think I can with something so small) make any fitting adjustments, but at least I got to practice and get my head around making a pair of trousers (well, short trousers) which are notorious in the sewing world for being tricky. The pattern itself is quite simple and the instructions and accompanying sewalong are well-written and clear so I would love to give these another go in the full-length version, but it's been something I've been putting off as I know that I'll have to dedicate time to some extensive fitting trials.

Lessons learnt?

I think the take-home message from all of these makes is that I should have taken the time to make a toile before diving in with my fashion fabric! However my other take-home message is that I haven't regretted a single make. All of the fabric I have used so far this year (for myself, anyway) has been inexpensive so I guess all of these things count as wearable toiles until I graduate to better quality fabrics. I will probably scrap my first Anna and the shorts, and will have to give away the Megan unless I experience some sudden weight loss, but the other things I will still wear until I have made better versions to replace them (which realistically means another year as I have so many new projects in my queue!).

A big goal for 2015 will be getting my head around fitting properly, so it will be toiles or muslins all the way from now on. On top of this I got the Colette Sewing Handbook for Christmas (and, as mentioned in a previous post Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, both of which I have read almost cover-to-cover already!) so have plenty of new sewing desires battling for my attention! Customs will also shortly be releasing my Ginger Jeans Denim kit so trouser-making and fitting is definitely going to be a part of the plan as I gear up towards making JEANS!

I've really enjoyed my first year of sewing (and even the blogging about it, although it's been tricky for me to keep pace). Not only has it made me approach clothing in a more 'slow fashion' kind of way (although I could definitely gain from taking it at an even more considered pace), it has also got me creating handmade gifts for others which hopefully won't fall apart! I've made the April Rhodes Staple Dress, Great British Sewing Bee Box-Pleat Skirt, and Love at First Stitch Margot PJs all for others this year and one of my first projects for 2015 will be yet another gift (still to be decided).

And even though I haven't been making at an astonishing pace, I have only picked up one piece of shop-bought clothing this year (it was a gold foil stretch velvet pencil skirt that I picked up for £7 in the January sales, and I knew it would be a while before I could handle that kind of fabric so couldn't resist). Normally I'm a real sucker for a sale, but now I've transferred my retail therapy fix to fabric shops which has been a bit of a limiter on my spending habits, although I have still acquired more fabric than I know what to do with just yet! So 2015 will have to be a bit of a stash-busting year too!

And I've finished off the year by taking part in the Vintage Pattern Pledge! Although I wasn't too ambitious with what I decided to make up this is the first time I've taken part in making something as part of the online sewing community and I'm glad I did it!

Hope you've all had great 2014s, here's to the New Year!

NorseOtter xxx


  1. Working out fit is one of my new years resolutions. On the plus side, at least you've learnt from all of your projects (and they look awesome)

    1. Thanks Laura! I'm hoping I'll have the self-discipline to be able to contain the urge to get stuck in straightaway (you can tell I don't trust myself very much!). I know taking the time to fit will be a worthwhile investment. Hope all your 2015 makes go really well, happy new year! x

  2. I hardly wear anything (ok, nothing) from my first year of sewing... but that's part of the journey, I think! if you hadn't made these slightly imperfect garments, you wouldn't be about to make more awesome garments in 2015! Ya gotta sew to get better, right? I think you've made some lovely things - and thanks for joining in the Top 5 lists for the first time! :)

  3. Thanks Gillian! It's been fun looking back over the year's makes and checking out everyone else's - it's such a great way to discover new people to follow/ patterns to crave (and try to resist!). Happy making for 2015!