#top5of2017: Reflections on a strange year


It’s been quite a strange year for me; lots of unexpected developments but lots of positives too.

I was struggling to find a framework to sum up the year, but found Crafting a Rainbow’s #top5of2017 and loved it – what a great way to sum up the year. I’ll be publishing a post on each of the 5 themes in the order that makes most sense to me, starting with reflections.

1. I need to finish my projects

I have so many WIPS. Having only learned to sew a few years ago, I’m still in the super excited, want to make everything phase which often means I move on before I’ve finished my current make. It also means I struggle to get started as I can’t decide what to make.

My most productive time of year is before I go on holiday – having that deadline pushes me to complete some of those projects that might be useful whilst I’m away, but I still don’t have time to make as much as I’d like to, mainly due to running out of time as a result of indecision…

I’ve realised throughout the year that I need to plan a little bit more carefully (#2018makenine may take a while…). I need to think about the techniques involved in making the garment – are there any that I might put off (ahem, buttonholes!). I need to think through the timelines of my projects to ensure I can finish them, and to make sure that the garment I’m making is actually needed. I also need a bit more willpower to hold off and finish that project before starting the next!


2. There’s nothing like a complex pattern to teach you new skills

I woke up to 2017 with a bad hangover, and news that the beloved Stitchery Studio, where I learned to sew, was to close. I learned so many skills there, but thankfully had a few more courses (jean making and fitting masterclass) booked in before it closed its doors in April.

This year I’ve really noticed the improvement in my sewing techniques, and although the final two classes contributed a lot to that progress – fitting skills have been so helpful for me – I’ve continued to improve and build on my skills since the Stitchery closed down. There’s so much information around, I can learn techniques on my own! I’ve also noticed that I tend to go for the more complex sewing patterns over a quick and easy make – despite the subscription to Seamwork, I don’t think I’ve made any of their patterns this year. I much prefer a more involved, difficult make.

3.  Slow sewing is for me

Until I began to sew, I had absolutely no appreciation of how much work goes into a garment. I was fully into the fast fashion culture – I bought clothes I loved only if they were cheap, and like to keep up with the latest trends. I had no idea the impact that the low prices of my clothing had on the lives of garment workers, and on the environment. I’m still learning about this, but my understanding has definitely improved this year.

I still buy ready to wear clothing, but this year I’ve noticed that I’m much more conscious about my purchases. This begins with consideration of where my clothing comes from, and extends to the longevity of the item of clothing. I think about what place the item has in my wardrobe, consider whether I like it because it fits my style or because it’s in fashion, and how well the item has been constructed.

Something I really need to work on is to slow down on buying patterns and fabrics. I am still in that excitable phase of learning to sew, but I now have so many patterns, and fabrics, that I should really shop my stash…

4. I’m sewing for my body right now, not my ideal size

As a result of some unexpected surgery, my body measurements have been all over the place this year, and I leave 2017 the biggest I’ve ever been. But that’s OK. My body is amazing and will always change.

Something really important that this year taught me is that I need to sew for who I am now, and that includes my body size. I’m not going to wait to make that dress until two weeks before I need it just in case I lose weight. Because I won’t leave myself enough time to make it. I’ve missed out on making so many of my planned garments this year because of this mentality. I also have way too many RTW clothes in my wardrobe that no longer fit, just in case I lose weight and fit into them again…

5. I LOVE knitting as much as sewing

Unlike sewing, I learned to knit as a child – my Mum, Nan and Grandma all helped fuel my love of knitting, and I made some horrendous, but complex, projects. I took up knitting again as a way to relax, and as it’s so portable, and requires little equipment, I’ve finished so many projects this year, and learned new skills with each make.

As more of my friends have had babies, I’ve knitted more and more complex items as gifts, including booties and hats, blankets, rompers and sweaters.

I was gifted the Hillary Grant Knitting from the North book last Christmas, and love the beautiful Fair Isle patterns within it. I’ve already made two scarfs and a couple of hats from it. They make the perfect gifts.

There’s definitely going to be more knitting in 2018!


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