2014 Superlatives


It's that time of the year again!  Time to take a moment to look at all the things that we've made and to assess what went right and what went, well, not so right.  So without further ado, I present to you the 2014 superlatives.


Well, there are a fair number of competitors in this category this year, mostly because this year was really a return to basics.  Yes, I could sew fancy dresses every day but the fact is that I rarely wear them and this year I tried to focus more on things that actually get worn.  And I have to say that this focus was pretty successful because I regularly find myself turning to handmade garments to wear.  As for my most worn items, well this is where you realize that I'm a totally boring human being because probably my most worn items are these Plantain Tees.  White and gray t-shirts?  Is there even a more boring garment than that?  If so, I'll probably make that one too.  

A close runner-up though is something a tad bit more exciting - undies!  I loved making undies with the Ohhh Lulu Grace pattern and I fully blame this pattern for getting me hooked on lingerie making. The good news is that if my shirts are totally boring, at least my knickers aren't.

As for the kids, I could go with the old standby of undies because O still rocks her handmade undies (in between her Frozen undies, of course), but if we're excluding undergarments, I'm going to go with this Oliver and S Hopscotch dress.  O is definitely a dress girl and a knit dress is perfect for everyday wear.  Plus I love that it has long sleeves since it's often quite chilly around here.  I tried to create my own knit dress for O's first day of school but the result kind of sucked, so I'm definitely going back to the Hopscotch dress.  Unfortunately I'll have to buy a bigger size for next year.  Wahhh!


For me it was definitely this Meridian Cardigan.  While I love the pattern, I was a dumb butt and made one size smaller than was recommended.  Because of this I had to fuss with the cardigan to make it fit correctly over my shoulders and this drove me a bit bonkers.  I tried to make it work but in the end  that little issue drove me nuts and so I accepted the fact that I wasn't going to wear it and instead cut it up to make a shirt for O.  Perhaps the fabric is cursed, though, because not only did I mess things up when cutting out the shirt (resulting in a seam down the front of the shirt) but I broke two double needles while hemming it so it's still waiting around to be finished.

For the kids, it was definitely this hat.  I wrote about my woes in making it in the original post so there isn't much more to say except that it has since found a new home.  So long, Huck Finn cap!


For the kids, definitely the Hanami Dress.  As with most things, I was a little late coming around to this pattern, but once I found it I jumped all in.  In fact I made not one, not two, but three Hanami dresses this year and there will no doubt be many more made in the future.  

And for me and the kids, I have to go with the City Gym Shorts pattern (you gotta love a pattern that comes in child and adult sizes).  Not only is it my favorite price (free!), but the shorts use so little fabric and they're really fun to put together.  The black and gold version are definitely my and O's favorites.  In fact, she decided that they were perfect for soccer and she wore them to every game throughout the season.  Be forewarned, however, that the shorts are definitely on the short side.  In fact, I had the distinct pleasure of overhearing some parents talking about them, commenting "I didn't even know that you could buy shorts that short anymore."  Turns out you can't - you have to make them.  Ha!

And can I pick a runner-up for favorite pattern?  Good.  Then I choose the Watson Bra pattern.  I've made two bras from this pattern so far (one that I haven't blogged about yet) and I have to say that it's a great first bra pattern and is surprisingly supportive for not having an underwire (although I don't have a whole lot to support, if you now what I'm saying).  I'm really excited to see how I'll be able to use this pattern in the new year.  And not surprisingly, so is Ben.


My Alabama Chanin Dress.  Yes, it's extremely simple but I think that that may be what I love most about it.  It's simple, yet it has such a flattering silhouette.  It's all hand sewn and I really like the visible hand stitching along the seams and the neckline.  I didn't finish it until the end of summer so it hasn't gotten a ton of use, but I'll be excited to break it out again once the sun decides to warm up our little corner of the earth once again.  

For the kids, I'd have to say that my overall favorite is this Oliver and S Popover dress.  I've never worked with a border print fabric before I loved playing around with the placement of the different prints.  I think that the different, yet coordinating prints, really kicked the dress up a notch and I love the way that it came out.  


2014 was supposed to be the year that I got serious about stash busting and while I certainly made a bunch of garments with items from my stash, I'm not sure that I'm ending 2014 with less crap fabric than I began with.  

As for the new year, my hope is to keep learning, whether that's fitting a new garment or trying out a new technique.   2015 may be the year when I finally try to tackle a pair of pants.  Also, while not sewing related I also need to work on my posture.  I'm not getting any younger around here and my posture gets worse and worse every year.  Actually, come to think of it, it may be sewing related because hours of sewing while hunched over a sewing machine is probably not the best thing for you when you already have poor posture.

So here's to loving, learning, and standing up a bit straighter in the new year.   Wishing you much health and happiness in 2015!

And just for kicks, here are the superlatives from years past: 2013 & 2012

A Christmas Dress That I Actually Finished Before Christmas. Now That's A Christmas Miracle.


Christmas is over and thank God for that because I.  Am.  Exhausted.

Who knew that attending four events in three days - three of which we hosted at our house - would be too much?  Someone should have hit me over the head when I suggested hosting a baby shower two days after Christmas.

Plus the season was made even more crazy by the fact that Ben and I spent a week in Mexico right before Christmas to celebrate our ten year anniversary.  Poor us, right?  Well, it was poor us when we both came down with a lovely case of food poisoning the day after we got back.  In Mexico's defense it was totally our own fault and we've all learned a valuable lesson (of course we learned it the hard way - as I like to learn all my lessons).

But enough about food poisoning - let's talk sewing because not only did I manage to sew a  Christmas dress this year, I actually managed to sew it in time for Santa pictures (actually, I finished it the morning of Santa pictures.  There's nothing like a little procrastination.).  The dress itself has a couple of issues, but that's mainly because I was trying out some new things in making the dress.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

First new thing - the pattern.  The dress is the Caroline Party Dress by Welcome To The Mouse House and I'm 99% sure that I picked in up in a pattern bundle sale, but I can't remember for sure.  In any case, Rachel has raved about the pattern so I was pretty sure that it was going to be a good one.   For sizing I went with a size five for the bodice but a size 6 for the length.  O (who's five) is kind of a string bean so the bodice is probably a little on the loose side for her, but at least it means that the dress will fit longer than a month.   The dress comes with several options but most of them I left off and instead I just opted for a full lining.

Now let's talk about that beading because this was my first foray into this slightly addictive activity.   I actually bought these beads several moths ago with the intention to bead an Alabama Chanin garment, but in the end I decided that I liked those garments really simple so I opted to leave off the beading.  But then I had a whole bag of beautiful Alabama Chanin glass beads burning a hole in my pocket.  Oh, what a dilemma.  I finally settled on adding some beading to a Christmas dress for the girls but when I started the project I really had no idea what I was doing.  My original idea was to bead a peter pan color on the dress and while I still think that that would be incredibly cute, I was afraid that I was going to run out of beads halfway through so I scrapped the idea after a couple hours of work.  The problem though was that after pulling off all the beads there were so many holes in the fabric that it was essentially ruined.  Fortunately I had juuuust enough to cut out one more front.  Whew!  The second time around I opted for a much more simple design and I just added beads along two semicircular lines that mirror the neckline.  Really simple, but who needs complicated when you have a  bunch of beads?   For the beading work I traced the pattern on the fabric, added all the beads, and then cut out the bodice pieces.  That way all the breading thread on the back of the front bodice is hidden by lining.  Oh, and for the thread I used button thread since it's one of the strongest types of thread.  I don't want those little suckers coming off!

As for how the beading turned out, I love it but I should have done a much better job of ensuring that none of the beads were anywhere near the seam allowance.  Because I didn't do this I had a really hard time pressing the shoulder seams so they're not very pretty.  Grrrr.

But there is one more thing that I love about this dress - the tulle peeking out of the bottom.  Tulle is a complete pain in the butt to work with and mine is not sewn on in a particularly attractive manner, but I love the way it looks with the dress.  It adds a little poof and a feminine touch to an already super-girly dress.  Despite the total side-eye that she's giving in this picture, O actually really does like the dress.

And lastly, let's talk about the fabrics because they are all from leftover projects.  The outer fabric is a cotton that was left-over from this Carme Blouse and the inner in a cotton-cashmere blend that is leftover from this Tova.  I wish I had more of that cotton-cashmere fabric because is is truly the most delicious fabric, but alas, I think all I have left now are teeny-tiny scraps.

Alright, operation Christmas dress 2014 is officially complete.  Bring on the new year!

Also - just because I think it's funny, pictures with Santa from years past 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

Carolyn 1, Bleached Out Fabric Marker 0


Remember my first version of the Carme blouse?  Well, this is where I tell you that the little bleached-out dots on the pleating drove me absolutely bonkers after a couple of wears.  I couldn't wear the shirt without feeling like everyone was staring at those dots (even though logically I know that they probably weren't).  I ended up over-dyeing the shirt in an attempt to get rid of the marks and while it mostly worked they are still very faintly visible.

Almost like they're mocking me.

But it looks like I'll have the last laugh, though, because look - I made another Carme blouse!  And you can bet that I was very careful in how I marked the pleats this time.   No little bleach spots here.  Hallelujah!

As for how version 2 compares to version 1, well, mostly it's just better sewn together.  I fumbled around with the bottom of the neck placket the first time around and while it came out okay, it didn't come out great.  This version's placket looks much better.  The collar looks better on this one too, but to be honest I'm still not happy 100% happy with it and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong.  If we come across each other in real life just don't stare at my collar, okay?

Everything else is pretty much the same as last time.  Same size, same length, same super-awesome sleeve tabs, and same use of Jen's tutorial on how to make the sleeve placket.

As for the fabric, it's a cotton lawn from Drygood Design, but honestly it seems a little thicker than most lawns that I've seen.  Plus there's a little bit of a sheen to the right side.  It was absolutely lovely to work with, though, and if all goes well, O's holiday dress will be made out of leftover fabric from this project. Blue's totally appropriate for a Christmas dress, right?

Glad you agree.