2016: the Year in Review

I always think it's useful to look back on the year just gone, especially with my sewing, as it helps me to realise how much I have achieved, how much I've improved, and helps me to refocus for the New Year.  

I gave myself some goals for 2016, which were:

1. Make my perfect coat. 
I didn't do this one. Maybe next year! In my defence, just as it turned to coat weather I was in my early pregnancy, and was sick and tired. I didn't have the energy to sew anything, let alone something big like a coat! I did find a truly gorgeous one which my lovely husband bought me. It's a dark green Diane von Furstenburg one (via TK Maxx), and is everything I wanted in a coat. 

2. Perfect the fit of my TNT dress patterns and make lots of versions of them.
Hmm. I began! I perfected the fit on a few of my favourite dress patterns and I did make some great dresses last year. My favourites by far were the two below. I'd even go so far as to say they are my favourite handmade items I have ever made (bar my wedding dress). Perfecting the fit was definitely a huge factor in their success. 

Magpie Feather dress (Flora bodice with Emery skirt)

A Thing to Shake the Heart dress (Anna bodice with Simplicity 1873 skirt)

3. Make more separates.

Yes, I did this! I made my first pair of trousers, a Sorbetto top and two viscose tee shirts

4. Restrict my internet time!
I actually did alright at this one, spending much less time on the internet. My sewing output was low last year but I had a far higher "success" rate than previous years!

5. Keep using up the stash! 
Yes, I think I did do this. Out of the 12 things I made in 2016, 8 were from fabrics that were already in my stash when the year began, including the scrap busting quilt I made. Of the other 4 makes, 3 were fabrics which were birthday gifts, and 1 was an impulse bargain. I'm actually pleasantly surprised as I write this - I really didn't go nuts with fabric buying in 2016. I only bought ONE new pattern is 2016! Wow! 

The Scrappy Quilt of Joy

I find statistics really satisfying, so I've done a bit of analysis. 

In 2016 I made a total of 12 items:
3 tops
1 pair of trousers
6 dresses
1 quilt
1 lingerie/nightwear set

10 of the above were prints, only 2 were solids (quell surprise).

Only 1 of the items I sewed turned out to be unwearable (that lovely tartan dress which was just too small in the bust).

Fabrics I used were...
100% cotton: 5 
viscose: 2
polyester or poly mix: 2
ponti de Roma: 1
100% silk: 1
srtetch cotton: 1

My Sewing Goals For 2017

To be honest this year I have only one: keep on sewing! Since we're expecting our first baby in May, I know that keeping up my sewing will be much more difficult in the latter half of the year, so if I can keep sewing even in tiny little bits, I will be happy. 

My happy little sewing space

Happy 2017 everyone, I hope the year brings you lots of happiness. I've just started off the year very well by passing my driving test! I'm so so happy to be ticking off this big life goal. Next challenge: baby! 

Fox in the Foxgloves Quilt

Some of our dearest friends were expecting their baby girl in early January, and I knew I wanted to make them a lovely quilt as a gift. I really wanted to find some lovely co-ordinating prints to make a herringbone quilt, inspired by some I had seen on Pinterest. I'm pretty chuffed with the result of my efforts:

Fox in the Foxgloves quilt 

My luck was in when I found these fabrics: a bundle of Cloud9 fat quarters from their Fox in the Foxgloves collection by Aneela Hoey. It was just what I was looking for, a nice mixture of different prints, cute and child friendly, but not overly cutesy. Plus I love the colours.

As I didn't give myself much time to make the quilt, and I didn't want to feel "bogged down" by doing it, I decided on a pram sized quilt for our friends. I actually think this size is more useful for a newborn. It can be used as a mat to lie on, a pram blanket or even just to snuggle in.

It really did come together quickly, I only spent 3 sewing sessions on it in all, which I was pleasantly surprised with!

The quilt top's herringbone design is made up of half-square triangles, which was really speedy as thankfully I opted for 15cm squares.

The quilting is stitched in the ditch of the herringbones, with white thread.

I backed the quilt with white cotton and used a thin 100% cotton wadding by Quilter's Dream. I didn't want anything too hot for the little one!

Choosing a fabric to bind the quilt in really took some deciding. I tried peach, mint, navy blue, a combination... and thankfully asked my husband for his thoughts at the critical moment. He's usually spot-on with colour or print decisions, and he said: "Oh, I thought it was just going to look like that. I think a strong colour on the edge would spoil the effect.". He was absolutely right, and when I tried white, the quilt looked much more balanced. Thank you, Liam!

So, in the end I used the backing fabric and folded it over from the back to make the binding. I would definitely do this again - it was really easy!

I'm so pleased with how the quilt has turned out. There are a few less-than-perfect bits (can you spot the 3 squares which had to be laid the wrong way round?), but hey, that's the charm of it being handmade, isn't it?!

We went to visit our friends and meet their baby yesterday, and oh my goodness, she is absolutely lovely. It's so wonderful to watch our friends being parents as well, they are absolutely besotted with their little girl and it just warmed my heart to see. They love the quilt, which I am so pleased about!

I will definitely make another pram sized quilt as a new baby gift in the future, since I enjoyed making this one so much. A smaller quilt is so much less tedious to make than a large one, and much less frustrating the squish through the machine when it gets to quilting time.

In fact, since this quilt used less than half of each of the Cloud9 fat quarters in the bundle, I am already making a sister version of this quilt as a gift for another pair of friends expecting their baby girl soon. I'll put it on the blog if it turns out much different to this one!

Thanks for reading! x

P.S. Here are links to posts about previous quilts I have sewn:
The Scrappy Quilt of Joy   (throw size)
Nautical Chevron Quilt      (cot size)

My Maternity Sewing Plans

(Yes, there's a baby on the way!)

I am so delighted to be expecting my first baby, due in May, and very excited for the new challenges and adventures ahead!

NOTE: this turned into quite a wordy post! I apologise, and I realise that not everyone will be remotely interested in my musings on my maternity style/wardrobe, so I honestly won't be offended if you skip it all! 

I'm almost 22 weeks pregnant now, and up until recently had not sewn a single piece of clothing for myself since becoming pregnant, due to a number of reasons....

  • I was very sick.   Like many expectant mothers, "morning" (ha!) sickness hit with a vengeance at exactly 6 weeks gone. I could describe it as feeling constantly nauseated, knowing I had to eat but then often throwing my breakfast / lunch / dinner / dry crackers back up again. I did eventually find that making sure I ate something bland every 2 hours helped keep the sickness at bay, but then it really ramped up around 16 weeks, before tailing off at 17-18 weeks. Now, I feel waaaaay better, much more like myself and am only occasionally sick now, which is honestly wonderful!
  • I was so tired!    Again, very common, but I wasn't quite prepared for how tired I would be. For the whole first trimester I pretty much just managed to work and sleep. Don't get me wrong, I am NOT complaining here, it is totally worth it and I am beyond grateful to be carrying this little baby! But the tiredness meant I just did not have the energy to sew.
  • I had no idea what I wanted to wear!    My usual default style is a fitted dress, with a very definite waist. This pretty quickly became uncomfortable, as although an actual bump didn't appear straight away, my waistline did get a bit thicker and my bust grew quite a lot straight away too. The clothes I get excited about sewing tend to be woven dresses, which just didn't seem practical when I was growing every week and really unsure of what I wanted to wear. Consequently I lived in baggy tops and jumpers for the first part, before I had told anyone the news, then quickly found that once my bump appeared I wanted to show it off! So I have been wearing much more jersey, basically just stretching the RTW tops I already have. I would LOVE to make some more though, with belly room for baby to keep on a-growing!
  • I had lost my sew-jo.   I think because of a combination of having not sewn in ages, not feeling inspired and not knowing what I wanted to sew, made me feel completely "meh" about sewing for a bit. Sewing a quilt really helped me get it back (coming to the blog soon!), and instantly rekindled my love for sewing.
One by one these four things have resolved themselves and I am now reeeeaaaally excited to get sewing some maternity clothes, both very useful basics and some frivolous frocks too (I do miss the frivolous part of my wardrobe, and I definitely miss the bright and bold prints!). 

I've been really inspired by watching Lisa from Sew Over It's vlogs about the maternity hacks she has done to existing patterns, and it really got ideas firing in my head. I also loved Zoe's posts about her maternity makes at Hello Zoe B, and found them to be very useful, inspiring and helpful. I have also been following Jessica's outfit posts on What I Wore. She is so stylish and gave me some great ideas on how to mix it up a bit, and what pieces might be useful in my maternity wardrobe. 

Things I would like to make:
  • T shirts in fun prints, with room to grow
  • Empire line swishy dresses to wear with leggings or tights and boots in the Winter, then bare legs in the Spring
  • A retro "tent" dress. I think they can look oh so stylish on a pregnant lady!
  • Vest tops for layering
  • A stretch pencil dress
  • A long jersey cardigan
  • PJs! 
  • A chambray shirt or shirt dress which may be useful for nursing after baby is born too
Hmmm, as usual I fear I have been overly ambitious with this list! That's a lot to cram in when I also want to make some things for baby. I will have the Easter holidays and also a few weeks of maternity leave to do last bits of sewing though, so there's that to bear in mind. 

Any tips on good maternity patterns or hacks? 

I promise to be back soon with some sewing to show you!