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Top 5 of 2021

The #sewingtop5 has been hosted by @craftingarainbow for 10 years now.  I've participated in a few of them in previous years.
With no further ado, here's my top 5 hits, misses, non sewing highlights, and goals for 2022.

Top 5 Hits

The 5 most worn or most loved makes from my year, shown in the order they were finished.
  1. Summer Dawn, specifically the short tie dye one.

  2. Desmond Backpack (unblogged) I made this as a gift for a friend and I really love how it turned out.  The pattern is very well made and can be found here on the Taylor Tailor website and there are also some kits.

  3. Rebecca Page Laura (unblogged) I will be blogging about these makes soon.  I have the post mostly written and just haven't taken the time to clean it up and add photos yet.  But I have really liked the two Lauras I made from rayon challis.

  4. Sew Liberated Strata (unblogged) AND
  5. Linen Helen's Closet Arden pants (unblogged)I really love this combo and I wore it as often as I could get away with while the weather was warm enough.  

Top 5 Misses 

  1. Jennifer Lauren Bastion Culottes I tested the new expanded sizing for these and I am not fond of the style on me.  The pattern itself is great, but I just don't feel comfortable wearing them because of my large belly.  Looking at the photos, they don't look bad at all, but I have to constantly fiddle with them and I just feel uncomfortable wearing them because of that.

  2. Fehr Trade Surf to Summit. I wanted a rash guard to take on my Mexico trip, so I decided to try the Surf to Summit top that I purchased forever ago when it came out, but haven't made it yet.  I don't hate this top, but it just didn't turn out very well, especially in the collar area, which is right front and center.  I think it was more me than the pattern, so I'm willing to give it another go at some point.  

  3. Rebecca Page Summer Maxi Dress I really don't even know what's going on with this dress.  It just looks and feels frumpy.  It's a pullover dress that probably shouldn't be because the style would look nicer without the ease needed to be able to pull it on.  At some point I might mess with it to improve it.

  4. Rad First Crush tankini top. I couldn't seem to figure out how to make this top come together because the instructions are difficult to understand.  I posted a question and a couple photos to the Rad Patterns facebook page begging for help to no avail.  So, this top went into the scrap pile and I think I will avoid Rad Patterns from now on...

  5. Smurf outfit I have a pair of yoga pants from Old Navy that I love and they have started to develop little holes.  So I've been looking for a good pattern to try to replace them.  The Designer Stitch Shakti pants have the look I'm after.  I made the size indicated by my measurements, but they are WAAAAY too big.  Plus I think maybe the fabric didn't have enough lycra in it to provide the recovery needed, so they fall off of me.  I also made the Made for Mermaids Rory Raglan from the same fabric and using the curved hem with the kangaroo pocket looks odd and overall the color made my husband tell me I looked like a Smurf. I will give the pants another go, but I'm not sure about the top yet.

Top 5 Highlights

  1. New Aquarium My husband's quarantine hobby was researching and putting together a 75 gallon aquarium.  I get the pleasure of enjoying it with little to no work involved.  Now we have 2 5.5 gallon quarantine tanks for treating sick fish and we are planning a second 75 gallon tank on the other wall.  I'm working on getting some fish themed art for the walls.

  2. I finished a quilt!  My dance instructor and his wife, who is also an instructor at our studio, were expecting their first baby in May.  So I made a quilt.  I used the spinning star block from Connie Kresin then added a yellow border around each block.  I decided to use the 3" version of the block as the cornerstones and I really love that.  I embroidered a square around each of the 3" blocks to mirror the larger blocks.  And I used my Brother PE770 to create a label for the back.   

  3. Cancun trip (Playa del Carmen) I went to Cancun with a friend and a large group of her friends that I didn't know prior to the trip.  It was my first time to Mexico and I had so much fun, even if it was during the middle of a global pandemic.

  4. Thanksgiving with family.  We went to Colorado to spend Thanksgiving with my husband's family.  It was great to spend time with family and relax. 

  5. Christmas in Idaho. We drove to Idaho to meet my daughter's partner's family and crash their Christmas.  I was so nervous beforehand because meeting people is always tough for me, but they made us feel very at home and I had a fantastic time.  It snowed a ton and then we drove home in a snowstorm.

Top 5 Goals

Before we start, I would like to briefly comment on the status of last year's sewing goals.
  1. Make jeans. I tried making a pair of Helen's Closet Arden pants out of denim, but they didn't work out for some reason I haven't figured out yet.
  2. Make a new smooth dance dress.  Hasn't happened yet.  But I do have a muslin started with the hopes of having something done before I go to my next dance competition at the end of January.
  3. Make a coat. I made a denim jacket in the second round of the Pattern Review sewing bee.  Not quite what I intended when I wrote the goal, but it counts.
  4. Make a quilt.  I did!  I made a cute little quilt for the first baby of some friends.
  5. Start my Christmas sewing earlier in the year! Haha.  This definitely didn't happen.
Now on to the goals for 2022.

  1. Make a new smooth dance dress.  I'm going to a competition in Hawaii at the end of January and I have the fabric and rhinestones ready for a lovely turquoise dress with beige lace and stones.  I just need to get off my butt and make it.

  2. Finish at least 2 more quilts.  I have several quilts in progress and I would like to finish at least 2 of them in 2022.

  3. Make a bunch of gift items to have on hand.  I had a couple things that I ended up using, so my stash needs to be replenished.

  4. Make a coat.  I've been wearing my Seamwork Oslo sweater like a coat this past year, so I'm thinking a good coatigan would be good. I'm currently planning on the Seamwork Jill, which I've already got printed and assembled.

  5. Use more fabric than I purchase to help reduce my massive stash.

A pair of Summer Dawns

A friend invited me to room with her on a trip to Playa del Carmen that she was going on with a group of her friends in August, and of course I said yes!  Leading up to the trip, I sewed up a bunch of summer clothes.  My idea was that I wanted a lot of loose, flowy clothes made from breathable fibers, preferably with no zippers or buttons.

I definitely wanted some maxi dresses for strolling on the beach and I have several gorgeous rayon knits that are just begging to be made into a wrap dress.  But the only wrap dress I had previously made that I actually liked was the Named Olivia, but that wasn't quite the style I was after.  So I took a look at my pattern stash and decided the Striped Swallow Summer Dawn had the look I was after.  It has lovely gathers at the shoulder seams, fluttery sleeves and ties that wrap all the way around the body.

Since I'd never sewn this pattern before, I figured I'd try making a wearable muslin of the shorter version first, to minimize the loss of fabric if it turned out to be terrible.  I chose this gorgeous tie dye rayon spandex in shades of blues, reds and black  

My current measurements put me in a size XXL.  I'm 5'9" and I knew I should probably add length, but I decided to make it with no modifications just to see, but also because lazy.  As you can see from the above photos, it was pretty short.  I'm not opposed to short, but I've just become more comfortable with skirts that are a tad closer to knee length than this one turned out to be.

So, to fix it, I used some of the leftover fabric to create a ruffle.  I cut as many 8" strips as I could and sewed them together into one long strip.  Then I folded it in half lengthwise, gathered it along the raw edges then lined them up with the right side of the dress along the hem and sewed them together.  Then, pressed the seam allowance up toward the dress and topstitched it down.

It adds length and also gives it a good weight at the hem that just makes it feel nice to sashay around in.

I also like that the front skirt piece is wide enough to have plenty of overlap so there is no flashing everyone if the wind picks up.  I'm pretty pleased with the lovely flutter sleeves too.

And here's the view of the back.

I've worn it a few times and I have gotten compliments each time.  I really do love this dress.

The second version I made from a Lavender/White/Black/Glacier Gray Modal/Rayon/Lycra Daub Watercolor Floral Print Jersey Knit from Fabric Mart. The photos of this maxi version were taken on the balcony of our room at the beautiful Paradisus resort in Playa del Carmen the day after Hurricane Grace blew through.  Where we were, she was still a category I hurricane and other than the minor inconvenience of all alcohol sales being banned after 5 pm on the day she hit and the pool being closed for a bit the next day, the storm didn't have much affect on us.

The maxi skirt is a separate piece from the short skirt -- well pieces.  To save paper, they have the top and the bottom of each maxi skirt piece and instruct you to place them 15.75" apart and then suggest using a long, straight ruler to help cut the straight lines between the pieces.  I didn't alter the length of this skirt and it just happens to be pretty perfect.

The pattern doesn't have pockets and it is the one thing about my tie dye version is missing, so I added some inseam pockets to this version.

Other than being a bit squinty, I like how these photos came out.  I need to setup a place at my house that has good natural light and a neutral colored background so I can easily get better photos without traveling to Mexico..

This pattern is definitely a winner for me.  And there is no doubt that I will be making it again. 

Seamwork Skipper

I have been hording this retro floral jersey knit fabric from Fabric Mart for years.  I just love a good retro print that is reminiscent of the 60s or 70s.  

I have been wanting to make a hooded sweatshirt dress for a while, so I thought I would finally cut into the precious to make one and decided on the Seamwork Skipper with the member bonus dress option.   Honestly, I have much more of this fabric because a little while after I bought my initial standard 3 yard cut, I saw it on the 70% off section for $2.40/yd, so I bought 10 more yards.  Yeah....I totally don't have a problem with hoarding fabric.

I made this back on August 2nd, 2020 and took these photos the next day.  It was like 110 degrees (at least it felt that way!) so it's not styled the way I actually wear it -- with some nice warm grey leggings and cozy boots.

I underlined this dress with a pink cotton lycra just to add an extra layer of warmth and I lined the hood with self fabric.

The Skipper dress is a cocoon style silhouette, so I'm not overly concerned about the fit, since it should be bagggy.  I added inseam pockets, but I now think a kangaroo pocket would have worked much better on this dress.  The other thing I'm not loving is the size of the hood.  I get hoodies as gifts all the time from family and from work, so I know how I like my hoods to fit and this on is just way too big.  It sort of flops into my face when I wear it.  So I would swap it out for another hood, but I have yet to find one that I'm happy with, so finding the perfect hood is going to be a low-key goal of mine now.    

Overall, this dress is a solid choice for lounging around the house or going out to run errands, but I don't think I would wear it to a party or the office -- although during this time, neither of those things are even a consideration. 😁

Top 5 of 2020


I try to do these every year, but since I'm so bad about blogging my makes, I often do the year end summary about items I haven't written up yet.  No worries, this year will be the same.  But as I was working on this post, I did go back and update previous years to link to any blog posts done later. 

Top 5 Hits

The 5 most worn or most loved makes from my year, shown in the order they were finished.
  1. NYE Dress - This was actually made at the very end of 2019, but I had already published my top 5 for the year.  I used the Seamwork Kenedy pattern slimmed down below the hips to be more of a straight dress and a gold/black flip sequined fabric and I combined a gold and a black fringe to make a couple rows of rows of fringe at the bottom by just sewing them one on top of the other.  Everything else I wore was from Amazon.  

  2. Greenstyle Clara - I did both of these for contests and I love them both so much!

  3. Itch to Stitch Causeway Bomber - this reversible jacket is definitely among my top favorite makes of all time.

  4. Pattern Emporium Palazzo Pants - these are flattering and fun.

  5. Mom's Suki - I hacked the Helen's Closet Suki Robe to have a high/low hem and a band that goes all the way to the bottom.  I lengthened the sleeves and added fringe to the bottom.  I really love how it turned out.

Top 5 Misses 

I didn't make a ton of things this year, so it's not like I hate these makes, but they are certainly the least successful of what I did manage to produce.
  1. Fab Forty Shirt - Early in the year I tested the Fab Forty Shirt from Annelaine Patterns.  I made 2 of them and the first one was pretty cute.  The second on I thought it would be fun to use glittery elastic for the crossed shoulder straps.  I also used a stiffer knit and the neckline just doesn't drape right and just bows out and looks strange.  Plus, the elastic is not comfortable.  

  2. SSE Seattle Shirt - I just really don't like this shirt.  I'm 85% sure it's because of the fabric and not the pattern, but I just haven't given it another go yet.

  3. Seamwork Skipper - There are a few things wrong with this dress, but the most annoying is the hood is enormous and just isn't practical to actually wear.

  4. Sew Liberated Lichen Duster - This duster looks great from the back, but the front is a mess.  I don't like the insets -- they are just awkward to assemble an I'm not crazy about how they look.  I also didn't do well with the shawl collar and the entire front edge and so it doesn't sit right without me needing to constantly fiddle with it.

  5. Paprika Zircon - I made this with a pretty drapey knit and I think it turned out better than it probably should have.  I also underlined it and the two layers don't hang correctly together.  So, at some point, I will probably undo the hem and let the dress hang for a while to settle out before re-hemming.

Top 5 Highlights

  1. I got to go to the Sew Expo!  This was the very last scheduled event that I was able to go to before the world shutdown.  I remember vaguely thinking that it seemed a little risky at the time, but nothing had been canceled yet at that time. 
  2. We finally had cabinets put into the strange alcoves in our living room and they already feel like they've been there forever.

  3. Had deck refinished.  We let our poor deck go way too long without maintenance, so we needed to have several boards replaced and had the whole thing painted with a resurfacer paint.

  4. Got back into crochet - I made 3 blankets and a few other random things and I'm in the middle of some blocks for another blanket.

Top 5 Goals

Before we start, I would like to briefly comment on the status of last year's sewing goals.

  • Be better at planning for big events. I didn't get much chance to practice this! But I did participate in a few sewing contests, so I did some planning and executing to a hard deadline, so that counts for something.
  • Make pants. I did! They even made it to my top 5!
  • Make a new smooth dance dress Everything was cancelled and I lost my steam for getting this done, as well as my sewjo for a big chunk of the year.
  • Make a coat. I made a bomber jacket, so partial credit.  
  • Go to more social sewing events! Lol.
Now on to the goals for 2021.
  1. Make jeans. I had planned on doing a pair of Morgan jeans as part of my entry for the Pattern Review wardrobe contest, but then I changed my plans.  So I have the pattern copy shop printed and ready to start.
  2. Make a new smooth dance dress. 
  3. Make a coat.
  4. Make a quilt.  I joined a block of the month group on Facebook and I'm getting kind of excited about it! 
  5. Start my Christmas sewing earlier in the year!