2014 Top 5 Hits and Misses (sort of)

Another sewing blogger, Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow, hosts a “Top 5 of the year” blog series at the end of every year. The idea is to post a roundup of your top 5 hits and misses from the year, as well as other highlights from the year. I thought it would be fun (and maybe educational) to join in and take a look back at my sewing successes and failures this year.

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5

The first thing I noticed as I scrolled back through my 2014 blog posts is that I didn’t make that many things this year (11 garments blogged, plus 2 that weren’t), and for a while I felt bad about that (especially while reading all the “year in review” posts from other people with truly incredible numbers of finished garments for the year…). But after thinking about it for a while, I’ve decided I’m actually happy with that number of makes. I don’t need or want to make dozens and dozens of new garments every year–I don’t have room for that in my closet anyway! A few well thought out, well executed projects is actually ideal for me, and I think I achieved that. Nearly everything I sewed this year gets worn frequently and makes me happy, and for me, that’s success.

So, let’s get to the hits and misses, shall we? (Clicking on the pictures should take you back to the original post about each project.)

Top 5 Hits:

1. Black Scout Tee

Black Scout Tee

This was the 3rd Scout Tee I’ve made, and I perfect it a little more with each iteration, so this one is pretty darn good! The silhouette works well for me, black goes with everything, and it’s easy to dress this top up or down. I’ve worn it a ton, and I love it.

2. Archers #1 and #2

Archer #2Archer #1

I’m cheating a little and counting these as one. I freaking love my archers! I wear them all the time! They are the perfect balance of casual-yet-put-together, and they work well both for work and leisure. I’d still like to make more of these.

3. Portrait Blouse

Portrait Blouse

This was kind of an unexpected hit — I sewed it up more or less on a whim, unsure it the shape would work for me. But it does work, brilliantly, especially for tucking into slacks for a slightly dressy look. The print and colors are perfect for me, too. I wore it to a job interview few weeks ago, and I felt great in it. (The interview, incidentally, went really well — must have been the blouse, don’t you think?)

4. Pumpkin Renfrew

Pumpkin Renfrew

Not much to say about this one, except that I LOVE the color. It just makes me happy to put this on in the morning. I’m wearing it right now, actually! Plus it’s super soft and cozy, and the fit is pretty good (although I think on my next Renfrew I’ll shorten the body by 1″ or so).

5. Floral Flora Dress

Floral Flora

I’ve only worn this once (to a wedding), but it’s still qualifies as a hit because I felt great in it on that one day. Besides, when I made this I didn’t expect to get to wear it super often. I knew if would be a special occasion dress; that was the point.

Top 2 Misses:

I wouldn’t say that anything I made in 2014 was a complete miss, which makes me feel pretty good! Here are the two makes that I’m least satisfied with, though:

1. Sandpoint Top

Sandpoint Top

This make seemed great at first, but I eventually realized I just didn’t feel good wearing it. (The difficulty I had getting pictures of me wearing it that I liked enough to use in that blog entry really should have been a clue…) Part of it is the hem–it feels too long right now, and the hem hits me at an awkward place. I need to either take the hem band off and hem it normally, or take the hem band off, shorten it, and then put the hem band back on. Blah. In addition to that, the style just isn’t practical for my everyday life. The cowl back makes it not work appropriate (for me, at least), and you can’t really cover the back by wearing a cardigan over it because the cowl gets all bunched up. So it’s weekend wear only. But most of my weekends are spent either lounging around at home or traipsing around outdoors, and this doesn’t really lend itself to either of those activities either. So mainly it sits in my closet, unworn. Once I get the hem fixed, though, it will be fun to wear this occasionally!

2. Shirt For The Boyfriend

Blue Men's Shirt

This definitely isn’t a complete miss, as it gets worn frequently (hooray!). But it does have some issues. The sleeves are too wide/puffy where they meet the cuff–I really need to adjust the pattern to take out some width there. I also don’t really like the shape of the collar–it turned out too big, I think. The Boyfriend looks best in shirts with pretty narrow collars. Need to adjust the pattern for that, too. Still, considering that this is only the second incarnation of a completely self-drafted pattern, I’d say it’s pretty good! Hopefully the next version, with those changes, will be even better (whenever I get around to it…).

Another Highlight — The Wardrobe Architect Project:

The Wardrobe Architect

The other sewing-related highlight of my year was participating in the Wardrobe Architect Project. It definitely helped me figure out what kinds of garments to focus on making/acquiring, and my wardrobe has certainly benefitted. I think the fact that I frequently wear nearly everything I sewed this year is largely thanks to this project. Huge thanks to Sarai for designing and leading it! I learned a lot, but I think the single most helpful thing I figured out is that I look/feel the best in warm autumn colors (olive green, dark red, burnt orange, warm purple, mustard, teal, etc.). Although I don’t intend to always confine myself to this palette (obviously, judging from the things I made this year), having this in the back of my mind has been hugely helpful when I’m fabric shopping (or just shopping for ready-to-wear clothes).

That’s it from me for today. I’m off to make another Scout Tee (this will be #4). #SoManyScouts #NeverEnoughScouts


Versatile Blogger Award

Sewing bloggers are a friendly bunch. Among other things, they like to give each other blogging awards! It’s fun, and a nice way to point people to new awesome blogs that don’t have many followers yet.

One such award that gets passed around the blogosphere (like a chainletter, but much friendlier and less annoying) is the Versatile Blogger Award. And, lo and behold, Becky from Springystitches has nominated me for it! :)

Thanks for the Versatile Blogger Award nomination, Becky (Springystitches)!

(Ignore my handwriting… Focus on the sentiment, and the sneak peek of this gray and pink plaid that I’ve earmarked for another Archer shirt.)

Here’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re nominated. (If you want. No pressure.)

1. Thank the person who nominated you and create a link back to their blog

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3. Nominate 15 other versatile bloggers

4. Tell the bloggers that you nominated them

Okay, so, some things about me:

1. I majored in biology in college.

2. I really like board games. Current favorites include Dominion and Race for the Galaxy.

3. I love fantasy novels. I’m re-reading Lord of the Rings right now.

4. The first sewing project I completed was a Lord of the Rings elf costume to wear to the opening of the Return of the King movie.

5. I really like British TV mystery series. Poirot, Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes (the Jeremy Brett version), Midsomer Murders, Rosemary and Thyme, etc.

6. I can juggle!

7. I love Shakespeare. I’ve seen almost all the plays at least once, except for some of the more obscure history plays.

(Basically what I’m saying is I am a giant nerd, okay? Okay. Glad we got that sorted out.)

Now for the best part!

I know you’re supposed to nominate 15, but I really wanted to limit myself to blogs that 1) aren’t already super well-known (under ~300 followers on Bloglovin), 2) I’ve been reading for a while and genuinely think are awesomesauce, and 3) haven’t already been nominated for the VBA as far as I can tell. These are the 6 I came up with:

1. Dandelion Drift for her relaxed, modern style.

2. Sew Pomona for her beautiful and everyday-wearable makes, and her sense of color.

3. Sewin’ in the Rain for super cute dresses.

4. SewStylist for her strong sense of her own style (which she summed up recently as “uncomplicated,” “interesting,” “timeless,” “sensual,” and “edgy”). Seriously, her blog is just beautiful to look at.

5. Under Alteration for her chic, wearable, and beautifully-sewn garments (and she calls herself a beginner!).

6. Two Random Words for awesome pencil skirts.

There you have it! Thanks again for the nomination, Becky. Now go forth and check out these lovely blogs!

Wardrobe Architect (weeks 7 & 8)

More Wardrobe Architect talk today! (See, I haven’t forgotten, even though I am atrociously far behind…)

The Wardrobe Architect

Week 7 was all about prints and patterns vs. solid colors, and figuring out which types of prints we like wearing.



I’d say that my favorite and most-worn garments (me-made and otherwise) are about half prints and half solids. I don’t do a lot of print mixing — I tend to pair printed tops with solid bottoms or vice versa, or just go for all solid colors. This made me realize that I could stand to make/acquire more solid-colored blouses and t-shirts for wearing with patterned skirts.



In terms of types of prints, I tend to go for organic-looking patterns, florals, and novelty prints. I don’t really care for strong geometric prints on me, except for stripes. Oh, and plaids are really nice for button-up shirts! In this post I’ve included a sampling of prints from my favorite garments and fabric pieces from my stash. I think lately I’ve actually done very well at steering clear of prints that I love the look of on a bolt of fabric, but don’t actually like to wear.



Week 8 was all about hair, makeup, and other beauty products and routines. This is an area of personal style I’d like to explore more! I’ve pretty much always had long hair. I like it, but I’d be interested try short hair to see what it’s like.

I’ve only just started dipping my toes into the world of makeup–somehow I missed the memo on this in high school and college. (I’ve found lurking in r/makeupaddicts to be very educational in this regard, by the way.) I suppose my core, essential makeup products at this point are foundation; black mascara; neutral, brown-ish eye shadows; and pinkish lip colors. The amount of makeup I put on really depends on the day. I actually enjoy doing a full face with foundation and everything, but realistically I don’t bother most of the time. (I still need to acquire some kind of really light foundation/bb cream/tinted moisturizer for days when real foundation seems like too much… Recommendations?) As with clothing, if something takes a huge amount of effort to put on or wear, I can’t be bothered most of the time. And that’s fine with me. :)

Wardrobe Architect (weeks 5 & 6)

I bet you thought I’d forgotten about the Wardrobe Architect project, huh? Okay, you probably didn’t–I don’t think anyone except me thinks about my blog enough to notice that I’ve fallen behind, which in this case is convenient! (If you want to read my previous Wardrobe Architect posts, you can do that here.)

The Wardrobe Architect

Weeks 5 & 6 were all about color. The exercise for week 5 was simply to create a palette of colors that you like and feel good wearing.

This was actually a really useful exercise for me because it forced me to think critically about what colors I think look good on me (as opposed to just what colors I like), something I admit I had never put a lot of thought into before. I found this series of posts (part 1, part 2, part 3) from the blog Into Mind (which I recommend, by the way) really helpful and interesting while I was thinking about this. Apparently, according to the “color seasons” idea, I am a “warm autumn,” or possibly a “warm spring.” Now, I don’t subscribe to the idea that one should feel obligated to cling slavishly to the colors one is “supposed” wear, but figuring out which type you are is an interesting starting place for figuring out which colors you might like to wear.

Figuring out which “type” I am was pretty illuminating for me, actually. I had never really considered before that I tend to look best in warm colors, but now that I have thought about it, I can see it’s totally true. My favorite garments are warm colors, and I can even think of specific cool-toned garments that I don’t wear very often because I don’t think the colors flatter me.

The exercise for week 6 was to organize your color palette into three categories: neutrals (black, cream, etc.), near neutrals (colors you’re comfortable wearing as neutrals, that go with almost anything), and statement colors. So, without further ado, here is mine:


This is a combination of colors I already wear and like, and colors that I’d like to wear more often. I really enjoyed putting it together, and it’s definitely been useful to think about while fabric shopping.

Up next in Wardrobe Architect: prints vs. solids! Also, I just finished a Scout Tee today (and I love it!), so you’ll be seeing that up here as soon as I have a chance to photograph it. :)

#WardrobeArchitect (weeks 3 & 4)

More Wardrobe Architect talk today! Week 3 was devoted to thinking about the shapes of individual garments, and week 4 was all about outfit silhouettes.

The Wardrobe Architect

In week 3 we filled out a questionnaire to get us thinking about which garment shapes we gravitate towards. (Mini, midi, or maxi skirts? Full, A-line, or fitted?) Then, for week four, we used those preferences to come up with outfit silhouettes that fit those preferences. In this case “silhouette” means a formula for an outfit: skinny jeans, a button up shirt, and boots, for instance (which just happens to be one of my go-to silhouettes).

Silhouette 1

Coming up with a collection of the silhouettes you tend to use over and over again can help you zero in on the kinds of garments you’re likely to get a lot of use from, and decide how to spend your precious sewing time! I came up with nine silhouettes that I wear often. I’ll only post a few of them here, but you can check out the rest on Polyvore if you’re interested. (Pay no attention to the colors or patterns of the clothes in these–the point was to focus on shape!)

Silhouette 3

This was actually quite a useful exercise for me. It confirmed that I should really make myself some Archer button-up shirts, if nothing else! More loose, casual tops would be good too (Scout tee-shirts, perhaps?!). And more Renfrews, and maybe a few more versions of my self-drafted batwing top pattern…

Silhouette 5

That’s all for now. The button-up shirt for The Boyfriend is coming along! Hopefully I’ll have a post about that up here soon. :)

#WardrobeArchitect (Weeks 1 & 2)

I have no finished garment to show you today. (Sorry–I’m working on it! Next up is another button-down shirt for The Boyfriend.) Instead, I have something a bit different!

The Wardrobe Architect

I’m following along with the Wardrobe Architect project, led by Sarai over at the Coletterie blog. (Here is the very first post in the series, explaining what the project is all about. You can check out all the posts about the project so far here.)

The point of this project is to think critically about what we wear and why we wear it, so as to be able to sew (and buy) garments that we will actually use and be happy to wear, rather than garments that end up perpetually hanging in the back of the closet, unworn and unloved. What kinds of clothes make us feel good about ourselves or our bodies, and why? What kinds of clothes make us feel uncomfortable? What garments do we like in theory (or on other people), but never seem to actually wear? What shaped these preferences? How does one define a core personal style, or aesthetic?

Sarai has posted some great prompts and worksheets to help us get started thinking about these things (one prompt per week is the plan). The last item on the worksheet for week two was to select five words that define your personal style, and then to collect 15-20 images that reflect those words. My words were casual, modern, subdued-yet-cheerful, practical, and simple. (I know I kind of cheated on the middle one, just roll with it.) I collected my images on a Pinterest board–feel free to peruse it, if you so desire.

I’m not going to share the rest of my answers to the worksheet questions here (too long, too boring, too personal), but here are a few of the more useful thoughts that came to me as I was filling them out:

I want my clothes to help me look like a competent adult. For whatever reason, when people first meet me (and have nothing but my appearance to go on), they often assume I’m several years younger than I actually am. While this isn’t the end of the world (people are forever telling me I’ll be grateful for it eventually!), I would like my appearance to better reflect the reality of the situation.

I’d like to look “effortlessly put-together.” I want it to look like I put some thought into what I’m wearing, but not like I obsessed about it. Plus, although I like looking good as much as the next person, I know that I’m way more likely to wear things that are “easy to wear.” If it requires a lot of maintenance, special undergarments, a special hair-do, impractical shoes, or what-have-you, it probably won’t be on heavy rotation in my everyday wardrobe.

Unique details are good; super quirky and weird usually isn’t (for me, right now). When I was younger I was way more into looking purposefully quirky/weird, and steadfastly not following trends. These days, I don’t mind fitting in a little bit more.

Although I like vintage looks on other people, I (mostly) don’t feel comfortable sporting that look myself. Wearing things that are so far outside my usual “skinny jeans and a nice top” uniform in my everyday life usually just makes me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. (For special occasions, though, all bets are off.)

I need my everyday clothes to be comfortable and practical. If I can’t comfortably walk moderate distances, bend over, and sit cross-legged on the ground in it, then I probably won’t wear it super often. (Again, though, this does not apply to special occasions!)

Clean lines and simple designs tend to appeal to me. I should really try to embrace this more in the garments I sew.

I feel the most attractive and comfortable in subdued-but-cheerful colors. No neons, not all black. Colors like cranberry red, peacock blue, olive green, burnt orange, dusty pink, dark lavender, and mustard yellow. (I guess most of these are “autumn” colors.) I think they look good on me, too. My favorite garments in my closet at the moment are almost all in this color pallet. I’m also kind of getting into gray as a neutral these days–it’s less harsh than black.

That’s it for today. I recommend playing along, if you’re interested in thinking a little bit more deeply than usual about your fashion preferences and choices. But even if you aren’t, go and read Sarai’s posts and skim the comments–lots of great inspiration and food for thought!

P.S. If you made it all the way through that wall of text, thanks for reading. :)