2018 was a fun and creative year of sewing for me. I enjoyed playing more with photoshoots and unique locations, with making garments that play with fantastical ideas and senses of myself, and with making for someone else (my partner, Morgan) with a very different sense of style than me.
My favorite creations, in random order, include:
The Medusa dress
God, this dress is beautiful and took a long, but pleasurable, time to come together in my mind as I dreamed about it and sought out the right pieces for it. Once I sat down to make it, though, it went quickly, and I finished up just in time to take these spectacular blizzard pictures (in April!)
The Fancy Dressing Gown
This is probably my most-worn make to date. I pull it on in the mornings when drinking tea and snuggle up in it at night before bed. It’s another that came together slowly as I pieced together all the materials. The fit isn’t perfect, but I continue to feel such joy each time I put it on, so how much do those slightly-too-long sleeves matter anyway?
I love that this dress is fairly simple, but brings me such delight. It’s so easy to throw on and tromp all around in (including multiple trips to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula this summer), and the lightweight cotton is breezy and soft. I want to make similar dresses in wool and seersucker and flannel for all seasons!
The Birthday Dress
This dress it the other side of the spectrum to the Myo-faux-tis: it’s luxurious and slinky; it requires specific underpinnings and begs for fancy shoes; it makes me feel powerful and gorgeous in a very specific, femme way. I loved making this, I loved wearing this, I love it enough that it’s still hanging on display in my bedroom, three weeks after I wore it.
The Knickerbocker Suit
Consider this your sneak peek of this outfit, because I haven’t officially revealed it yet! Yet another long-in-the-making project (I think I bought the plaid in 2015? Maybe earlier?), with some more components still to come (a blazer, I hope, and a linen shirt), this came together in a way that surprised and delighted me. I’ll talk more about it in its own post, but honestly, look how stinking cute that is!
On the other hand, a few makes that made me less-than-happy:
These Fucking Jeans
With time, my antipathy toward sewing these jeans has faded, and I’ve reflected on ways I could make a potential next jeans project more enjoyable. Beyond all the construction difficulties I had, though, I realized that one of the driving forces behind making these was my deep annoyance that the jeans I want I can’t buy. My body isn’t the shape most jeans come in, so I spend my life yanking them up at the waist and pulling out the wrinkles behind my knees. Going into this project with annoyance rather than excitement probably explains some of my resultant anger. If I make jeans in the future, I’m going to try to think of special details that might make it feel more imaginative and fun.
The Reversible Dress
This dress is actually extremely cute and comfortable, and I love wearing it. But because it’s a loose-weave double-cloth, the bias tape I used for pretty much all the edges is fraying like mad. I don’t know how many more wears I’ll be able to get out of it before it crumbles apart.
The Homespun Shirt
This is another construction mishap. I love this shirt that I made for Morgan, and I think they love it too! Enough that my construction — on a fairly loose-weave “homespun” style fabric — has not held up. One of my projects in the next couple weeks is removing the cuffs, stabilizing the edges of the sleeve, and reattaching. It’s hardly a big deal, but it’s reminding me to be mindful of my construction techniques!
The Monstera Co-ord Set
I haven’t even blogged this one, because each time I thought about taking pictures I didn’t even really want to put it on. This set includes a pair of wide-leg pants and a crop top similar to a linen set I made a few years ago (picture here). With the relative stiffness of the cotton to the linen and some changes I made to construction of the top, it does not fit well at all. Pancake boobs abound! I don’t really have another top that goes with the pants, either, so they haven’t been worn. Next summer I hope to make a solid-colored top that I can wear with them, at least.
The Floral Harrison
This one is another that I wear but continue to be a little unhappy with. The very tight-weave cotton was a dread to sew with, to start, but more importantly this make reminded me of the dangers of over-fitting. This was the third Harrison I’d made, and the various tweaks I’d done over each worked well for my tuxedo shirt but ended up making this too short, too tight, and with slightly wonky sleeves. I plan to go back to the original pattern and minimal fit changes for my next Harrison!
So, plans for next year?
Somehow, while I enjoy the process of reflecting and remembering, making plans into next year is not nearly as appealing. This is at least partially because I’m not a sewing planner, I’m a sewing dreamer. That is, a big part of the fun is dreaming up projects, working out the details, finding the right fabric and pattern, planning out the necessary hacks, and, sometimes, bringing it into creation. I don’t have enough time or room in my life to bring every single project into existence, but that doesn’t mean I’m not being creative in my dreaming.
This also means that my “next” project is always highly variable, and I often don’t decide on what I’ll create next until I begin. This process doesn’t lend itself well to planning far in advance. Thus, of my “2018 Make Nine” that I gently suggested to myself at the beginning of the year, I only made three. I ended up a little better on my “Menswear Make Nine,” with a completed five projects (though more than one Negroni for Morgan).
Making New Year’s resolutions has always been uncomfortable for me, no doubt due to their connection to fatphobia (go to the gym! get on that diet!) In trying to parse out why much more gentle — and less self-improvement-aimed — goals like the Make Nine challenge also feel so difficult to me right now, I started reflecting on the ways such long-term planning is, honestly, impossible for my life as it stands. I’m trying to finish up a PhD; I’m on the job market; I have no idea where I’ll be in nine months or how I’ll support myself after May. I don’t know if my next step will be for a semester, a year, or long-term. I’ll be having surgery in February and I don’t know how long the recovery will keep me from my sewing machine. I don’t know if I’ll have interviews and need to be thinking about professional clothes or if I’ll end up somewhere where wool is completely inappropriate (I hope not the latter!) I, quite frankly, do not know what I’ll be sewing in 2019, or when, or how much. With all that in mind, even thinking about making year-long sewing plans gives me (more) anxiety.
So, here’s to spur-of-the-moment sewing in 2019, to sewing that brings comfort to my restless, anxious mind, to sewing that lets me think expansively, creatively, and lovingly about myself, my body, and my abilities in an uncertain world.