The last post might have made it sound like it, but fortunately 2014 was not all about health problems. On my better days, I slowly but surely worked on my creative projects, and looking back I actually made a lot of things! Making these things made me really happy, and let me get back in touch with myself and my creative passions. In 2013, I learned to sew clothes, and in 2014, I continued to hone my garment sewing skills, but I also learned pattern drafting (how to design my own custom fit patterns), drew a lot, published a second issue of my zine, created eight Heartgirls, and took about a zillion photos!
The moral of the story is I spent a lot of happy time here:
Chronically Yours Issue 2
In January, I completed the second issue of my zine on chronic illness, Chronically Yours! Writing a zine is something I'd wanted to do since I was a teenager, and it's been an amazing experience finally doing it. Making a zine of this length, with all the art and layout is an enormous endeavour, but it's been so rewarding connecting with other zinesters, and chronically ill people through it. This second issue talks about my experiences with the healthcare system.
100 Acts of Sewing Dress 2
The first sewing project I completed in 2014 was my beloved 100 Acts of Sewing Dress 2 in Nani Iro double gauze. This might be my favourite garment I've ever sewn, both because I love how it looks, and because it's so comfortable and easy to wear (I say this because have a couple other favourites that look nice but aren't as wearable). This pattern is so simple and perfect, and I've gotten a lot of use out of it over the course of the year, also using it as a template for portions of some self-drafted patterns. It's my top recommendation to friends who want to learn to sew too, in case you'd been considering dusting off your sewing machine...
Grainline Studio Hemlock Tee
My next sewing project was a free pattern from Grainline Studio, the Hemlock Tee. This is a simple pattern as well, with clear instructions, and makes a great first project if you're learning to sew with knits. Jen from Grainline has a few posts about the pattern with further instructions if you are new to knits and want some extra guidance. This particular one was sewn in a heavy interlock knit that I had only about a (very wide) half yard of, so I modified the pattern slightly - it's cropped and I think the arms are a little wider than in the original pattern, since I just decided to maximize and use all the fabric I had. It's a super comfy top, and feels almost like a lightweight sweatshirt.
Self-drafted undies, attempt number 3
After two failed attempts at sewing undies in 2013, I was not ready to give up. I decided to try a different style of undies - with self binding, loosely modeled off an existing pair that I liked the fit of. This time, success! They may not be the most attractive undies ever, but damn are they comfortable!!! They actually feel like wearing short leggings more than underwear, but with no elastic anywhere (I loathe elastic), and no center seam. Because of the leg binding and the "hipster" cut, they don't ride up at all - as demonstrated with the photo of my behind: un-wedgable! I've actually made more of these since, though they've gone unphotographed, playing with different binding widths, and they're simply great. Also an excellent way to use up scraps of knit fabric, or even old t-shirts that have a bit of stretch in them - they're fun to piece together and mix and match fabrics.
I used the last of this organic cotton to make my first pair of leggings because it was soft. Then I realized I'd made cream coloured leggings. Oops. They will never see the light of day until I eventually figure out how to dye them. They fit fine though! (I used a pattern, which didn't fit at all, and I then re-cut them after tracing off a pair I owned.)
Next up, came the pattern drafting class with Cal Patch on Creativebug! My first project was a pretty decent brown tank dress... Unfortunately it turned out I hadn't prewashed the fabric, and it later shrank when I washed it. It shrank lot. Single tear.
I experimented a bunch after this, trying to figure out a slightly over-ambitious project, for which there are several unwearable prototypes. Too big. Too small. No, Goldilocks, too big again...
I realized something just wasn't working (looking back, I probably need to axe the square opening on the back), and decided to set that aside for a while, maybe to come back to later. I then made two successful tank tops! The first was a bit wide in the shoulders, so I tweaked it a bit for the second, but they are both completely wearable and great in the hottest part of the summer, when you don't want to feel like you're wearing anything.
In the fall, were my pieces-de-resistance of self-drafted patterns, a couple more ambitious projects with knit fabrics that turned out amazingly well! The first was a skirt, which I am absolutely in love with - it's made with a heavy striped organic cotton jersey that I got at Siebenblau in Berlin a couple years ago and had been saving for the perfect project. I was initially going to make a long and more typical fitted knit skirt, but then I realized I had more width to work with and decided to get crazy and make a gathered skirt...with pockets! I'm so glad I did - it's so comfy and so pretty, and turned out better than I could have hoped!
Finally, I did a drop-shoulder dress with a gauzy hemp-organic cotton blend that I'd brought back from Bolt in Portland at some point. Drafting the drop shoulder properly took some fiddling, but in the end it turned out well! I decided to leave the edges unfinished on this one, as it worked well with the look of the fabric.
Mending, mending, mending
Maybe mending isn't exactly making, but after the pattern drafting course, I set aside a bunch of time to tackle my mending pile in a serious way, and wouldn't you know... the skills I learned from pattern drafting made my mending infinitely easier and more successful than before! Here are a sample of the many clothes that went from tossable to re-loved - overalls handed down to me from a friend, which I sewed new cuffs onto; a lovely shirt whose shoulders I de-puffed (I HATE puffy sleeves about as much as I hate tight elastic waistbands, which is a lot); a beautiful dress Bruno gave me last year that had bafflingly tight neck and arm holes, which I opened up and now is super comfy; and some Lunapanties that had too tight of elastic waistbands for my liking, that I swapped out for elastic-free super-comfy waists.
Late spring and much of the summer were spent drawing, as I worked and worked on my Heartgirl drawings, which I then began to sell in my Etsy shop. They were so wonderful to create and send out into the world, bringing self-love and healing vibes to many sweet and lovely people... I created six initially, and then did two more after that. Will there be more to come? Time will tell...
Purl Soho Quilted Vest
Another free pattern, this time from Purl Soho. This one was a pretty fun make, albeit not quite as quick as expected, since I ended up hand sewing the binding. I modified the pattern a little to size it down a bit, and make it reversible (because it was so close to being reversible already!) I kind of wish I'd added side seam pockets too, but oh well. I might sew some buttons on it eventually too, as it seems like it would make the vest a bit cozier if it didn't open so easily in the front. This should be a great layering piece in the ends of the season.
100 Acts of Sewing Dress 2 number 2: The Sheep Dress
The sheep fabric! It was destined to become The Sheep Dress. It has sparkly polka dot pockets (side seam pockets, a pattern modification). It is glorious. Also, I can see how Sonya ended up making hundreds of these dresses...it is very tempting!
Self-drafted x 100 Acts of Sewing mashup dress
This started out as a particular pattern. It was a big nope in the end, as you can see from my face below, and I basically went out on my most annoying make of the year. But I salvaged it! I actually started the top as a mashup with the 100 Acts of Sewing dress, because I wanted to lengthen the top into a tunic. And I'm glad I did, because I probably would have just stuffed the whole thing into the scrap bin otherwise.
This pattern was painstaking - facings, gathers, a yoke, and my first raglan sleeves. In a lovely Nani Iro double gauze. It took sooooo long. I did all the steps. And I put it on at the end, and I could barely move my arms without cutting off circulation. WAY too tight. $&$#*(*$%!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll admit, I was pissed, especially since my measurements put me firmly in the XS size range, and frankly if XS is too small for me (at 5'1" and 90 lbs, I am a tiny human!), it's TOO SMALL. After a quick moment of fuming/mourning, I hacked the top off, stuffed it in the scrap bin, and cut a new top from my self-drafted tank pattern out of a solid navy double gauze. After patching the top on, and finishing the bias facing, I actually have a wearable dress, and didn't completely waste all that nice fabric. Good enough!
Whew! What a year! I'm sure I likely missed some bits, but based on my photo archive, that's what there was evidence of having happened. I've got lots more sewing plans for the new year, including a Republique du Chiffon Veste Michelle (in French!), a Grainline Moss Skirt, maybe that Victory Lola I've been putting off for ages... Maybe some man pattern sewing for Bruno? I'm keen on making a bunch more garments from the patterns I've accumulated, as I find it's the best way for me to learn new techniques and skills.
Hope you all had some great makes in your year, and here's to much more creative time spent in 2015!