2019 hits and misses countdown

I’ve decided this year to extend my hits and misses thoughts to a couple of new categories as a bit of a countdown from 5 to my proudest make of the year. I’m including some of the things I’ve learned this year, and the skills I have learned. Before I jump straight into the sewing though I thought I would introduce a different kind of special ‘make’ – meet baby Lottie!

She is a grand total of 4 weeks old, and is just lovely. We are all doing really well, and getting used to being a family of 4. She looks great in this wee lap tee and hat I made her, but we should probably get back to the sewing! So without further ado…

5 hits

I still haven’t worn this Ascent Fleece very many times but already I can tell that the sizing is great, resulting in a fleece which is comfortably roomy without being oversized. The feeding zips work really well, so I’m sure it will keep getting worn as the weather gets colder.

I would include both the lion and penguin dungarees in this category, even though the lion ones aren’t in use yet. Toby looks really sweet in the penguin pair, and I love that they are totally unique with their self drawn applique pocket designs. These are definitely ones to keep for Lottie to wear when she is bigger and I’m thinking about ways that I can customise some other garments for them too!

My Oslo cardigan was one of my first makes this year, and consequently is probably one of the most worn. I think it gets worn at least twice a week because it is great for layering up and is really comfortable too.

I am wearing this long sleeved Amber top in constant rotation at the moment. I’m loving being able to layer it up under dresses and shirts. Sometimes the tried and tested patterns like the Amber are the best, and while basics in solid colours aren’t the most exciting to sew they do get worn!

Not sewing, but I am really pleased with the cardigan that I knitted for Lottie. She has worn it a couple of times, though it is a little bit big at the moment. Hopefully that means it will fit all winter! More than anything, I’m just proud that I got it finished because my patience for knitting is definitely limited!

4 misses

Toby’s Honeydew Hoodie hasn’t been worn as much as I would like. He seems to have loads of jumpers at the moment so there is too much competition when I open that drawer, and one of the snaps isn’t set very well and doesn’t do up properly. It does seem like a shame though, because I really like it in these photos!

The proportions on this Raspberry Romper just seem a bit off. I’ve been meaning to modify it to make it less voluminous on the bottom but didn’t find time over the summer. I think I might take the romper part off and add a simple gathered skirt instead for Lottie.

This Givre Top just struggled to make it into regular rotation, partly because it was totally the wrong size during my pregnancy and isn’t very feeding friendly. I think I may see if it fits better into a friend’s wardrobe because I can’t see it becoming a staple for me and it seems wasteful for it to just sit there waiting.

Not exactly a ‘miss’, but two years after buying the pattern and fabric this coat is still not finished. I think I’ve just struggled to commit time to a big project, and it might be even more difficult now that my sewing time is even more limited. The draw of the quick progress keeps bumping this down the ‘to do’ list, but I do need to prioritise finishing it next year!

3 learning experiences or “what would I do differently next time?”

Be really careful when setting snaps- as already discussed above! Also, reinforcing knits in the areas where the snaps will end up seems like a good idea in future. I’m always a little worried that the fabric will stretch and the snaps will fall out. They don’t feel as sturdy as I would like.

Small seam allowances in high stress areas might need reinforcing. Toby’s bunny coat is beautiful, but the heavy ears have been pulling on the hood seam and need a bit or TLC. Next time I make one of these coats I’m going to make extra sure that the ears are secure and I think I would sew them in twice- once at the actual seam allowance, and once inside it. These ones I’m going to have to open up the hood slightly to repair which might be quite fiddly!

Measure more accurately. Fortunately I was able to adapt this overlocker cover by hemming it much shorter, but it would probably have been better to make the adjustment before cutting out. The covers are both a bit floppy too, so if I did it again I think I might interface them with some fusible fleece to give it a bit more body.

2 new skills

My applique skills have improved no end this year. I’ve used them on the bunny coat to attach the fur to the hood and ears, and for the animal pockets of the lion and penguin dungarees. With some experimenting I’ve worked out some settings that seem to work well. I think my next challenge should be to do some applique on jersey, perhaps a t-shirt or jumper for Toby.

Being willing to adapt the instructions to achieve a better finish. It didn’t work perfectly on the Eugene Henley, but it was definitely an improvement on the methods suggested in the instructions. I am pleased with the finish on the Oslo cardigan though. I’m going to remember in future that the instructions for a pattern are just guidelines or suggestions. It’s ok to read ahead and adapt them to suit my needs.

1 proudest moment

Whenever Toby wears his bunny coat and I get asked about it! Authough it is the most complex completed project from this year I found it very satisfying watching it come together and I love the end result. Being so small it was fairly easy to just do one or two steps at a time and each seam is pretty short and speedy. I’m definitely still thinking about making Toby another animal coat for next year.


2019 in review

Once again this year I chose to set myself a ‘make 9’ to help focus my sewing to patterns that have been waiting around or wardrobe gaps which need filling. I found it really helpful in 2018 to have a combination of focus, and freedom and I think it has been successful again this year. Once again, I needed to change and review the plans part way through the year to accommodate the baby bump so these are my thoughts on the year as a whole.

My make 9 ended up looking like this after my mid year review, so how did I fare with completing it?

So all but one of my plans was completed, and I think several of them have been huge successes in either my wardrobe or the skills that I have been developing. I’ll go into more detail about some of the successes and failures when I do my top 5 hits and misses for the year, but I do have some initial thoughts on each of the projects.

Taylor Trench

This got off to a great start with the Rebecca Page sew along early this year, but stalled somewhat once I got behind and hasn’t got going again. I love some of the trench coat details and am proud of the accuracy involved in finishing them well so far. I really do need to get this coat finished because I really want to be able to wear it in the spring! I have got to the point where the main body of the coat is complete and the lining is almost there, so the two just need combining and finishing off.

Alder Shirt

This hasn’t had as many opportunities for being worn as I would like. I’m not sure if it was actually worn again after taking these blog photos because I was already starting to get a little bumpy. I’m hoping though that it will be in more regular circulation next year, especially as I find button-ups a practical clothing choice while breastfeeding.

Eugene Henley

I haven’t done a huge amount of sewing for Matt this year so this Henley is one of the few pieces that have been for him. It definitely wasn’t prefect in the construction, and the pattern instructions were a bit problematic too, but the finished item is happily worn in rotation with all his other t-shirts. Its nice that it is something a bit more interesting than the basic metro tees I have made in the past.

Oslo Cardigan

This has go to be one of my most reached for items, especially during the end of my pregnancy. It fits over a couple of layers, but is still slim enough to wear under a coat. It worked with a huge belly, and is still getting worn as a practical option for breastfeeding too. I’m so glad that I finally got around to sewing it up! I’m actually contemplating another with some mustard French Terry that I bought recently too.

Virginia Leggings

I haven’t been wearing these leggings so much in recent months because I have been firmly in the maternity leggings, but they did get lots of wear in the spring and I am confident that once they fit comfortably again they will continue to be a wardrobe staple.

Ascent Fleece

I have only just started to wear this, but I’m already feeling confident that it will be in regular use over the winter. I hate having to take layers off when it is chilly, so in combination with an Amber tee it is a really practical way of feeding without getting cold! I like it as a fleece too, so I’m sure that even once feeding is done it will get lots of wear, and I’m tempted to make other fleeces or jumpers from the pattern without the extra feeding zips.

Bunny Coat

This has to be one of my favorite makes this year because it is just so cute! Toby has been wearing it quite a bit now the weather has cooled down, and though the sleeves are still too long it does mean it should fit him comfortably all winter. I also love it for the complexity and precision of the sewing. It was really satisfying to sit down at a more complex project and just tackle the next step. I’m definitely inspired to make him something similar for next winter, and have been dreaming up lots of variations with different animals too!

Honeydew Hoodie

It feels like this has been in Toby’s wardrobe for ages, but it still fits comfortably. Admittedly, it’s not the first jumper to get pulled out of the drawer so I’m not sure that I will make another, but it is pretty practical and I really like the reversible nature of it. It was fun choosing two fabrics that co-ordinate, and Toby gets to match with either my Oslo Cardigan or Matt’s Eugene Henley depending on which way round he wears it!

Amber Dress

This dress feels nice to wear now but it did end up a bit long originally! It turns out that my previous Amber dress also needed shortening, so I need to note that with the pattern for future reference. I’ve been wearing it more now that I’ve shortened it, and I know that the style is something that will be really practical for the duration of breastfeeding so it will definitely get worn lots in the spring. It feels lighter and more spring appropriate than the previous Amber Dress that I made, but I have been wearing it with a long sleeve underneath recently too.

I haven’t quite decided how I am going to structure my sewing plans for the new year yet, but there are definitely a few ideas floating around. Some of the projects that I have enjoyed the most this year have been the ones which have stretched my skills a bit, so I’m hoping to add a few of those again mixed in with some much needed basics, unused patterns and possibly a few easy wins for when I need a bit of a mental break. Its going to take a bit of getting used to having two small children around who need me too, so I’m not sure yet how that is going to affect sewing time opportunities either!

Accessorise it up!

When I finished my cardigan for the baby, I had a whole ball of wool left over, so it definitely made sense to knit a few little accessories to wear with it! I was going to look for a pattern for knitting a hat in the round, but couldn’t find one that worked for the combination of yarn, needles and the pattern of the cardigan so I went with a pattern that I have used before and knitted flat.

This pattern comes from a Sirdar Sublime knitting booklet (book 2). It is the Rosie Posy Beanie which is pictured on the cover and is really simple especially as I didn’t even do the suggested colour change part way as my wool was already self striping. I cast this on in the car on the way to the Lake District for our holidays, and finished it off on the return journey having picked it up every now and again at nap time and in the evenings.

There was still some wool left over once the hat was finished, so I thought I had better complete the set with some mittens. These are just a free pattern that I found here. Again, I wanted something super easy and uncomplicated for quick results!

Again, there was no need for all the colour changes suggested in the pattern so each mitten was completed in an evening of television watching. There is not much concentration required, so it is perfect for just keeping your hands busy while thinking about something else!

I still had a tiny bit of wool left after the mittens and thought that it might just be enough to combine with some cream yarn from my scraps box to make some booties. The booties also come from the Sirdar pattern book but I changed where the colour change was knitted to make the absolute maximum use of my green yarn. They are knitted in two pieces, a sole and the upper. The sole is in garter stitch and the upper is stockinette. Again, they are super easy, and didn’t take much time or concentration to produce something which will be pretty cute.

I have made the hat and booties before as a present for a friend’s baby, and was probably one of the first projects that I completed as a novice knitter so I can definitely recommend them as beginner friendly. This time around, they were good easy projects which didn’t require too much concentration or energy. Equally, the mittens were really quick and easy, though they would be a bit more fiddly if you did all the colour changes from the pattern.

I think the whole set is just lovely though, and I can’t wait to be able to use them all. It really is a complete set now with the cardigan! Team green all the way!