Sunday, January 2, 2011

Best of 2010

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2011 has gotten off to a great start - mine has, and now I'm ready to close out 2010. For a lot of reasons, 2010 was a very good year.

Sewing-wise, 2010 was a very, very good year.

I went through the month-end reviews and picked out my favorites to share with you. Not every project made the top 10 for the same reason - some, like the piped Burda dress, are relatively simple, while others, like the plaid and leather jacket, were complicated patterns even before I complicated them further.

Leading off in January was a Burda pattern (4/2008 #128). It was a plus but I loved the twist front and decided to grade it down. Partway through, I realized that reinventing the wheel was silly and I only graded down the front, using the back and sides of my TNT KwikSew pattern. I've worn this really often and I think it's my favorite knit piece for the year.

February made me step out of my comfort zone. I have a love/hate relationship with ruffles (I love them; it's not always mutual) but I really wanted to try McCall 5522, and for some reason, the ruffled version really struck me. I decided if ruffles were good, then bias plaid ruffles were better. And in orange! I had a lot of fun matching the plaid and playing with the bias, and while it's not something I wear often, I got a good fitting blouse pattern out of it and I've come to accept that while ruffles may not be my best look, I can get away with them once in a while.

Especially in orange.

April's notable garment was the BWOF 2/2009 #104 V-backed sheath, a great dress on its own, but it apparently made a good impression because it's the basis for my frankenpatterned wedding dress. In its original form, it wasn't a difficult project - unlined, no sleeves to set in, but it's one of those projects where the end result has very little to do with the amount of effort put into the construction.

Sometimes it just happens that way.

In May, I finished a project that I'd been thinking about since some time in summer 2009, if not earlier - a Chanel(ish) jacket, based on KwikSew 3258. I'd made a muslin, tweaked it and put it down. When I found some black boiled wool, I was inspired to pick it up again. I paired it with the almanac-printed silk which had been in stash for another year or two, and had a lot of fun playing with buttons and trim.

It was definitely more labor-intensive than its predecessors on the list, but that was part of the fun for me - I like all the fiddly steps involved in making a jacket, and unless I'm pushing myself, I'll linger over it a few weeks so I can enjoy the process.

And I finally got Chanel out of my system. Though I can feel a relapse coming on. Can anyone say boucle?

Sometimes the best patterns are the simple ones, styles that you can customize to your heart's content. For me, the Burdastyle Fatina dress is one of those. I've made it 3 times now, but the Chocolate Swirl dress is a good example of how to take a basic pattern and tweak it to get the result you want. I saw a RTW black and white dress (knit) in a store, but by the time my dress made it out the workroom, it had turned cream and brown, and linen. Not where I started, but definitely more me.

Another repeater, and another simple pattern, is BWOF 2/09 #113. I've made it 4 times now, but this version was driven by the bright floral fabric I chose - fabric that had only been in stash for a week.

This was also a year of using my newest fabrics first, and only fishing into stash when I'd exhausted the more recent purchases. My stash deserves to be treated better than that, and I have apologized.

When I first paired this fabric with this pattern, I was iffy because there was no way that the seamlines weren't going to break up the floral and look funky in all the wrong ways. I hit on the idea of piping the seams and the neckline, which turned out to be the great choice, and a royal pain to actually do. I love piping; I just haven't used 5 yards of it on one project before.

This summer I also tackled an engineering project. Literally.

Back in January, I made a strapless dress for my actress friend. Even though I didn't like the dress that much, I was intrigued by the challenge it posed. I'd never used boning before, and I wanted to see what actually made the dress stay up besides will power. That dress stayed up through 20 performances, which gave me hope, but I wanted to try the theory out on a figure a little closer to home.

The pattern I chose was an older one, BWOF 5/2002 #111. There's a lot of boning - front darts, side seams, back darts - but it was comfortable, and it stayed up. Actually, it barely shifted when I wore it, which was a pleasant surprise after years of watching girls in strapless dresses tugging and adjusting and looking, well, tortured.

August's effort was a remake of a skirt I'd made years ago and outgrown. When I ran across the perfect pinstripe during Deepika's post-PR Weekend visit in July, I decided to recreate my lost skirt. Instead of normal ruffles, I used a technique from the 7/10 BWOF which consisted of lots and lots of circles, cut and folded and hand-sewn down to approximate ruffles. I lgot really tired of sewing those little circles but I loved the effect!

One of my absolute favorite projects for the entire year was also one of the fastest. Andrea wore an embroidered, appliqued skirt to work on a Friday, and I took one look at it and knew I had to have one of my own. I took a few pictures, drew out a diagram of the embellishments and spent some quality time playing with the photocopier to enlarge the design to the correct size.

That night I transferred the design to some distressed linen from my stash, and then the games began. I embroidered the stems, cut the leaves out of scrap leather, and made yo-yo flowers out of ivory lining fabric.

And I wore it to work on Monday, totally confused my co-workers, and made Andrea smile.

Things like that are WHY we sew.

Last but not least is the BWOF 1/2008 #127 shawl collar jacket, otherwise known as the jacket that made me face my fear and just sew the damn welt pockets already and stop whining. And I did sew them, and I stopped whining, and then for good measure I figured out how to do bound buttonholes in leather as well, and they worked, and now I have to find something new to complain about.

I left out a few categories when making this list, like men's shirts and baby clothes, one a longstanding like and the other one quite recent, because, after all, it really does come down to sewing for ourselves. That's where most of the hard lessons are learned

I'm calling the projects above my 10 best, though they aren't necessarily the "best" I did all year. For one reason or another, they're my favorites, either because it's a pattern I know well and can turn into something flattering without tearing my hair out, or because it's as project that challenged me to learn something I previously thought I was incapable of learning, or reminding me that I enjoy fiddly hand sewing while watching Mario watch TV.

That's my roundup. What about you? Did you have any projects last year that were particularly memorable? Did you learn something from them, or did they make you learn something about yourself?


SEWN said...

The v-backed sheath was my favorite because of the end result and the fabric. TDF!!!

Happy new year my friend. Now show us the wedding dress already.

Anonymous said...

The applique skirt is my absolute favourite and I am tempted to try and replicate something like it, love it.
After seeing how great the Burda 02-08-113 dresses looked on you, I made this style up. Unfortunately it didn't really work for me so I cut it off to top length.
Can't wait to see what you sew up this year - I'm especially looking forward to the wedding dress.

Lori said...

Great job in 2010, I like all your garments but the Chanel jacket and the applique skirt are my favorite. Happy 2011 to you.

Gail said...

Its been a very productive year for you, but the Chanel jacket is my pick.

SewRuthie said...

Some really great projects! I have enjoyed reading your blog.

Little Hunting Creek said...

That applique skirt is one of my favorites. Like all good projects it gave me ideas of my own. Happy New year!

Journeyin' Lady... said...

I'm a sewer who doesn't sew much anymore (but I still go to the fabric store and walk through the fabrics - do you love to just touch them like I do?) so I love reading your Blog. You are VERY talented both in sewing and writing!

Kathi Rank said...

Thanks for sharing your top 10 list, and an impressive list it is! It looks like you had a very good year of trying out new styles, learning new techniques and making wonderful clothes from both new and TNT doesn't get much better than that. Keep up the blog, you are one of my must read sites.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

I had forgotten about that Chanel jacket. I think it's my favorite of the bunch. You did some great stuff last year! Looking forward to seeing the wedding dress.

Shannon said...

Wow! You had some beautiful projects last year. Can't wait to see what you make this year!

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

You've made some amazing garments this year...but I love your summer dresses. They are fun, flirty and just scream I love summer!

Audrey said...

You did have a productive year. Lots of beautiful unique garments that look wonderful on you. I enjoyed reading your "Best of 2010".