2014 Year in Review: Hits and misses

Top 5 of 2014 - Crafting a Rainbow

Is it just me, or are these year-in-review posts really fun to read?  🙂  I’m happy to once again be taking part in Gillian’s Top 5 series, in which we take a look back at our year of sewing and reflect on our success, failures, and lessons learned along the way.  Be sure to check out all the other great round-up posts listed in the comments of Gillian’s post here.

Finished Garments in 2014

Before I dive into my hits and misses, here’s a summary of the garments I sewed this year:

  • 6 Renfrew tops (2 short sleeved, 4 long sleeved)
  • 5 Archers
  • 3 Moss mini skirts (1 just finished yesterday and not yet blogged)
  • 2 Renfrew maxi dresses
  • 1 blazer (Simplicity 2446)
  • 1 sleeveless dress (Butterick 5353, now OOP)
  • 11 pairs of So Zo undies
  • 1 infinity scarf (not blogged, but it’s just a simple scarf)
  • 1 bodice and skirt sloper, still in the process of being tweaked

All in all, I sewed a total of 18 garments, not including the undies, scarf, and sloper.  I’m very tempted to say that I didn’t get as much sewing done this year as I would have liked, but looking back, it feels like I was sewing during most of my free time!  Therefore, I’ll simply confirm what I already knew: I sew at a glacial pace and enjoy taking my time.  Nothing wrong with that.  🙂

So which garments were a success, and which sat neglected in a drawer all year?

Top 5 Hits of 2014

#1 – Renfrew maxi dresses

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - finished

Black striped Renfrew maxi dress - finished

Simply stated: I LOVE wearing these.  Granted, I can only wear them on the weekends in the summer, but man, I wore these every single weekend all summer long (all 2.5 months of it, LOL).  The bamboo/cotton fabric is cool and light on really hot days, the dresses are super comfortable, and I feel fantastic in them.  If I could wear these every day of the year, I totally would!  Truth be told: both hems are crooked.  Does this stop me from wearing them?  Hell no!

My lesson learned from these dresses is to treat jersey with respect: (a) always pre-wash it at least twice; (b) put it in the dryer instead of hanging it to dry (which can distort the fabric and result in crooked hems); and (c) let jersey sit in a pile in the laundry basket for 24 hours between drying and cutting to let the fabric settle and ensure you’re cutting it on grain.

#2 – Bodice and skirt sloper

Skirt sloper version 1 - front

Ha, look at my grumpy face in this photo!  Now, technically the sloper isn’t a finished garment, and it’s still far from completion, but I couldn’t resist including this in my Top 5 Hits because (a) I learned SO MUCH while making it, and (b) it was, by far, the most FUN sewing I did all year.

I learned so much about basic pattern drafting by going through this process, and I learned a ton about my body shape and how it differs from the standard pattern cut.  There was lots of measuring, lots of calculations, and even the use of my old drafting tools from college.  It was a really enriching and satisfying experience to push myself into uncharted territory, and I’ve been actively using my newly acquired knowledge on all subsequent sewing projects.  I can’t wait to get back to this project – my sloper needs sleeves!

If you haven’t yet given pattern drafting a try, I would very highly recommend it.  Get a good textbook and dive in!

#3 – So Zo undies

So Zo undies by Allspice Abounds - finished

Such a simple project, but such a huge payoff.  I wear these exclusively now!  Without getting into too much detail, let’s just say that once you experience the comfort of handmade, custom-fit underwear, you won’t be going back to RTW.  I’m proud of myself for finally learning how to sew with fold-over elastic, and I recently acquired some picot elastic for more undies.  Yeah!

With all the great bra-sewing going on in the sewing blogosphere lately, my RTW bras are looking more and more ill-fitting and uncomfortable.  It’s only a matter of time before I hop on the bra-making bandwagon!

#4 – Everyday wardrobe pieces that mix and match

Four Renfrews with coordinating Archers by Allspice Abounds

Technically this isn’t one garment, but this collage of coordinating Renfrews & Archers (all sewn in 2014) is a great example of the approach I’ve been trying to take with my sewing this year.  I have to admit, I’m quite pleased with the results!  I’ve been more mindful of which types of garments fit into my lifestyle on a daily basis, and I’ve been using my color palette to choose new fabrics that will coordinate with existing pieces in my wardrobe.

Granted, this means that I often sew multiples of the same pattern and find myself sewing not-very-exciting basic pieces, but who cares!  I definitely prefer this approach over sewing beautiful party dresses that sit in my closet all year.

#5 – Summer blazer

Summer Blazer by Allspice Abounds - Simplicity 2446 - showing lining

Ah, my beautiful summer blazer.  I wish I could say that this beauty was #1 in my Top 5 Hits, but alas, it’s relegated to the #5 spot.  Why, you ask?  Although I absolutely love this blazer and am so proud of all the hard work I put into it, there are a few minor issues:

(a) I threw out my back while binge-sewing it (trust me, not an experience easily forgotten!);

(b) I’m not convinced that the cropped hem works with my inverse triangle proportions; and

(c) the combination of long sleeves and bright white make it a little awkward to wear.  The sleeves are too hot in the summer, and the bright white is a little out of place in the winter.  I’m hoping this piece finds its sweet spot in the spring.

One of the many lessons learned on this project was not to interface the seam allowances of pieces that need to be eased (for example, the jacket collar).  On subsequent sewing projects, I’ve been leaving the seam allowances free of interfacing, and it’s been so much easier to fit the pieces together and achieve a smooth finish.

Despite its flaws, however, I still consider this garment a hit.  I think it’s a gorgeous jacket!  🙂

Top 3 Misses of 2014

I’m actually quite pleased with most of what I’ve sewn this year.  Only 3 misses to report:

#1 – Victory Patterns Simone dress

Victory Patterns Simone muslin - front

TOTAL FAIL!  This dress was so bad that it never even got past the muslin stage.  I had multiple fit issues and some complaints about the drafting, and the instructions were absolutely abysmal.  I guess it doesn’t really count as a miss since there was no finished garment, but I had to include it as my #1 failure of the year.  I swore off Victory Patterns for good after this!

#2 and #3 – Spring and summer Renfrews

Spring striped Renfrew - front

Teal striped Renfrew - finished

Sadly, these perfectly good tops suffer from poor quality fabric.  Lesson learned: I don’t like polyester, period.  Call me a fabric snob, but it is what it is.  Both knits are a cotton/poly blend that just feels hot and gross against my skin, especially in warmer weather.  I found myself avoiding these tops all summer, and the short sleeves make them unwearable in winter.  Oh well.

Final Thoughts

Overall I’d say that my year of sewing in 2014 was pretty successful!  I churned out a bunch of comfortable, practical garments, and I’m well on my way to building a completely handmade wardrobe.  I pushed myself, learned a lot along the way, and tried to be more thoughtful with fabric purchases, pattern choices, and construction techniques.  I feel like a solid “intermediate” sewist, and I’m taking steps toward becoming more advanced.

Case in point: I’m currently working on my first pair of pants!  More to come on that soon.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and here’s wishing you a joyful and productive sewing year ahead!

12 thoughts on “2014 Year in Review: Hits and misses

  1. I loved reading about your hits and misses! I am jealous of your Archer collection– that is one of the patterns I want to conquer this coming year. And I really want to work on undies, too. I have no experience with fold over elastic. I hope I can figure it out!


    • Thanks Hila! It’s so fun to look back and see how much we’ve learned over the past year, and also to follow along with everyone else’s sewing journey. There is so much knowledge sharing on blogs – it’s wonderful. Best of luck for another great year of sewing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve made some amazing pieces this year! I love that maxi dress and that blazer is fab! I’m working on by bodice sloper right now so I’m happy to see yours. Can’t wait to see what you come up with this year!


    • Thanks Rebecca! Your projects this year have been amazing too – I’m so impressed with your creativity. Looking forward to seeing how your sloper comes out. I hope you’re having as much fun with it as I did! 🙂


  3. you’ve had a great year! i’m all about the wearable basics as well, so i always enjoy seeing them on blogs. i bet that blazer will be perfect for spring, especially when it’s april and still cold! i like to pull out spring colors, even if i still have to cover up. i’ve been thinking about making a properly drafted sloper as well… that may be my only 2015 goal! can’t wait to see your pants!


    • Thanks Lisa! I think you’re right – maybe that blazer will cheer me up when winter seems to be hanging on forever like it did this year. How exciting that you’re thinking about making a sloper! I hope you try it. I finished a wearable muslin of my pants yesterday – they’re a little frumpy, but not horrible!


  4. Oh my gosh… you’re a sewing machine 🙂
    What a great collection of hits. My favourite is your collection of Renfrews and Archers function AND form. So great.
    And well we’ve got to have some misses from time to time to keep it real right 🙂

    I’m looking forward to reading more about your block/sloper drafting adventures 😉


    • Thanks Vanessa! I think I sew much more slowly than most people, but I guess over the course of a year the projects start to add up. 🙂 I like the Renfrews and Archers too, and I’m trying to get better about making all my sewing projects practical and functional. The misses this year weren’t too bad overall, thankfully!

      Liked by 1 person

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