Reflecting on 2020 Sewing

2020 was the year I really got in to sewing my own clothes. Prior to 2020 I had only dappled in sewing clothes, with most of my sewing being quilts and bags. One of my only real sewing garment experiences before this year was a self drafted dress (based on a RTW dress) out of this floral Joann’s polyester. It was quite frankly a sewing disaster. My grandmother tried to help me salvage it, and we got close to a almost complete wearable garment…BUT, I was so frustrated with the process I tossed the almost finished dress and fabric scraps in a bag and tossed them in my closet. Fast forward 3 years to April 2020 when we are in pandemic lockdown and I’m in quite a state of boredom. I’ve always been a creative, but when the lockdown set in my usual crafts were not keeping my attention. The forgotten dress was pulled out of the plastic grocery bag and work began. The dress was ripped apart and re-sewn to fit my changed body, and while it is real wonky, it is wearable.

The self-drafted dress that started it all

That one dress sent me off on a deep dive of sewing your own clothes. I discovered the sewing community on instagram (‘There’s a whole group of people that make their own clothes and post about it, what’?) With that revelation, I also discovered indie sewing patterns, and slowly, indie fabric companies. The Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit and Helen’s Closet Yanta Overalls were some of the first items on my ‘to sew’ list.

Now in May of 2020 I started one of my first sewing patterns: the Sew Over It Penny Dress. Not knowing too much about fabric at this point, I picked a cotton/linen blend that was a little heavy for the dress, but nonetheless I was hooked. I made my button holes my hand (not yet realizing my machine had that ability) and threaded my first elastic waist band.

My SOI Penny Dress – my first Indie Sewing Pattern!

My next project was the Zadie Jumpsuit in a beautiful linen blend. At this point, I could not believe the possibilities of sewing patterns and my new found super power. I ventured down a path of pattern alteration and was way out of my league as I attempted to increase the rise. At this point, I didn’t even realize I was looking for the word ‘rise,’ but somehow I managed to make a wearable item.

Zadie Jumpsuit

Similar themes carried me through the summer as I strived not for perfection, but for wearability. My fabric stash grew and I spent countless hours researching sewing patterns, fabric, and other makers. I made my first shorts (the Dorian from Seamwork), collared shirt (Natalie from Seamwork), overalls (Yanta’s), and knit garment (Union St. Tee). As I learned a bit more, I become more adventurous with my fabric choices, sewing a Suki robe in Crepe de Chine from Spoonflower and experimenting with tencel twill for my Arenite Pants.

Up until this point I was mostly just sewing up patterns that caught my eye and pairing them with fabrics I selected for similar reasons. In August I took part in Seamwork’s Design Your Wardrobe Challenge, which really changed the way I planned my makes. I started paying more attention to colors, and items that would be easily interchangeable. This is not to say that I don’t just impulse purchase fun sewing patterns and fabrics; however, I have gotten a bit better at planning and organizing my sewing.

In the fall, I selected 9 items as part of a mini capsule wardrobe. I sketched out my sewing plans and recently finished making them in December. I made my first fitted pants (Lander Pants), a beautiful day robe that feels like a warm hug (Seamwork Quince), and turtlenecks that have become a staple (Seamwork Neenah) among other loved items. These items have been worn again and again throughout this winter as I try to incorporate my me mades into my everyday wardrobe. Seasonal planning is definitely my way forward in sewing and a great way for me to think about what I really need in my closet and new techniques to try.

In terms of some of my favorite makes my top three would have to be:

  • My collection of Seamwork Neenah’s
  • My Seamwork Shelly leggings (they already need to be mended)
  • My Sirocco Jumpsuit – this was on a weekly rotation in the fall
My Sirocco

As I’m reading this I’m noticing these are all knit garments, and all very comfortable.

Some of my least-worn makes have been:

  • Seamwork Natalie – this is mostly because I choose a quilting weight cotton and just do not like the weight for the pattern. Plus, I cropped the shirt too much.
  • Sew Liberated Strata Top – it’s a beautiful fabric and I like the design but it just doesn’t fit me and I think I needed to do an FBA
  • Astoria Sweater – not the right fabric choice

Ultimately, my least worn makes are a result of poor fabric choices and this has been something I’ve been working on throughout the year. As I look through my Instagram feed and other pictures it is clear that my sewing choices have evolved and I’ve been making things that I like more (and my picture taking ability has increase ever so slightly).

Breakdown of 2020 makes:

19 top

10 dresses/jumpsuits

9 bottoms

In 2020, I made almost 40 garments! In reflecting, I am so very thankful I found sewing and the sewing community. This hobby has made this lockdown bearable, giving me a hobby to look forward to on the evenings and weekends, and a way to connect to others in this new world we all found ourselves in. I learned SO MUCH just in this past year and am looking forward to learning more in 2021 as I challenge myself with intentional making and fitting.

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