Monday, 27 January 2014

Essssspressssso leggingssssss

Not, it's not a typo - it's snake print espresso leggings! And you know why...

Yes, it's the return of Jungle January! That baby wrapped me in its coils till I was powerless to resist. Like this, where Kaa the snake = treacherously sale-priced jersey, and Mowgli = me:

You know what else lives in jungles? Fruit bats.

And how's that for a segue into HEY LOOK I made my batwing top too! (See what I did there?? BATwing?!)

The plush snake is called Bert. I won him on the Brussels funfair, 13 years ago.

:: :: ::

Pattern notes: leggings

  • Pattern: Cake Espresso
  • Size: mine! Innovatively custom-sized by measuring yourself and joining the dots. It's a lot of fun! (Disclaimer: if you're really into sewing and stuff. If you're reading, I suppose you are).
  • Fabric used: 1 metre of medium/light weight jersey from the Maison Doree sale (so many knit bargains there this month!)
  • Fabric notes: the espresso leggings are drafted for two-way stretch fabrics, and the pattern instructions mention that if you use four-way stretch fabric instead (like I did, because SNAKE PRINT), you might need to shorten the leg length due to the leggings stretching down lengthwise. I don't really mind wrinkly ankles on my leggings, but I did have to cut off my original waistband and shorten the rise all round by about 1" - the lengthwise stretch happens at the top of your leggings too, which led to crotch-area sagging. It's an easy fix, so you can definitely make first and change later if you're not sure how the fit will work out, but I thought I'd mention it.
  • Construction: insanely quick & easy. I used Fehr Trade's elastic waistband method (tutorial here) and it's GENIUS.
  • Conclusion: there are many more pairs of loud leggings in my future. 

Pattern notes: top
  • Pattern: Blair Batwing shirt from the first pattern collection by Named (this pattern seems to no longer be available now their next collection has come out - I'm very glad I snapped it up in time, as it's a winner!) Update: it's back online after a pattern revamp!
  • Size: the smaller of the two. I think EU 38-40? It doesn't exactly require accurate sizing, anyway.
  • Fabric used: 1.5 metres of what I believe gets called "wellness" fleece - the sort of plush stuff that bathrobes are made of.
  • Fabric notes: It sheds fluff like a bastard. And is a disaster to get through the overlocker, don't even try. I did it all on the regular machine.
  • Construction: as above, insanely quick & easy. Clear elastic in the shoulder seams, instead of whatever Framilon Band is (recommended in the pattern). I also added a +/- 20cm band to the bottom of the shirt, to bring it down to tunic length. As far as my own personal wearing is concerned, the one and only rule of leggings-as-trousers is: full crotch coverage at all times, please.
  • Conclusion: there are many more slouchy batwing tops in my future too. 

:: :: ::

What about you - are you an animal print wearer? Or would you, like me, need a little push from some jungle-theming sewcialists?

Either way, I fear there's no going back...


Friday, 24 January 2014

Little flannel nightgowns

Do you think schoolchildren have watercooler conversations?  I do.  Because frankly, I can't think of any other explanation for it. What, exactly, was wrong with pyjamas?

Well, watercooler. More, you know, climbing around the playground. Comparing snacks at break. "Hey, L," (munch munch gulp). "What do you wear in bed?"

I can't otherwise explain it: the request for nightgowns came out of nowhere. The kind of nowhere that gives one an existential parenting crisis over no longer being your children's whole world and therefore having entirely lost your intimate, authoritative knowledge of what they are probably thinking at any given moment. I only know what they choose to tell me! (I.e. not a lot).

Now, some parents, I'm sure, find this kind of thing distressing.  I, on the other hand, well - I rubbed my hands together in glee and thought - now there's an excellent excuse to purchase cartoon-branded flannel from Plush Addict.  Forgive the sangfroid, but it's not like nobody warned me they'd become people in their own right at some point.


So, nightgowns.  The pattern is the Sadie Grace nightgown by SeaminglySmitten, which I got in the Sew Fab pattern bundle (T's has an improvised placket that's not in the pattern). If you didn't see it, this bundle was on offer for one week only in September, and includes a whole ton of kid patterns that separately would cost a lot more. I dithered about buying it for a couple of days, but it included a few patterns that I'd been considering getting anyway, and then my paypal finger slipped and I seemed to have bought it.  I felt momentary impulse-purchase guilt, but now that I've made something from it, and it's something I wouldn't have made otherwise, and that gets massive, enthusiastic use, well. Impulse shopping for the win!

L in particular so likes sleeping in hers that she has already (and rather insistently) requested another one. As the January Kids' Clothes Week starts next Monday, who am I to resist? Also, it's the only way to defuse the insistence :-)  I'm eyeing up some Liberty lawn that's been in my stash for ages and which, I now realise, is unlikely to ever get used for anything more 'deserving'. Besides, what is more deserving than cool cotton nightwear for my firstborn?

I asked them to pose like they were sleeping:

T actually does sleep in positions not unlike that sometimes, but on this occasion they ended up like this:

After 3 nights of bed-sharing, we've now moved both their beds together, like a double, where they can sleep side by side without squashing each other quite so much. This has had the wonderful side effect of putting an immediate stop to T's habit of getting into our bed, as he had done Every. Single. Night for his entire life. So that's a bonus.

With Kids' Clothes Week coming up and an overdue promise to sew more clothes for both of them, I'm looking forward to diving right into the rest of the Sew Fab bundle over the next few days.  Top of my list are these, which would all look great in both boy and girl versions, wouldn't they? :

Clockwise from top left:  bimaa sweater - ethan button-up shirt - best harem pants - reversible zippy hoodie

Currently I have 3 items cut out, 4 more patterns ready to trace, and another 3 on the 'possibly' pile.  Over-ambitious? Quite likely. But I really like ploughing through a big stack of kid stuff - those little pieces are a great antidote to the big makes that adult clothes can turn into. However much of it I actually get done, you can expect to see some more kid sewing this week.

Oh, and some snake print. On my legs. You'll definitely be seeing that by the end of next week - while it's still Jungle January!

Are you kid sewing too this week? What're your plans??  And how do you move between big makes? Do you need little projects to break things up, or you just charge from one ambitious project into the next?

Well for once the sun is shining, so I'm off out. Have a great weekend, fellow sewists!


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Knitting a cardigan is like having a baby

The Danish coast where it all began

You think, possibly with some confidence, that you know who you are.

And then, along comes something - quite likely something wanted and anticipated - that changes you, unexpectedly and completely. Yet it leaves you more yourself than you were before. 

A baby, a knitted cardigan - same thing.

Several months later: the "northern shores" knitted cardigan.

This is the first garment I've ever knit. It's not far off being the first proper thing I've knit at all - it's certainly the most ambitious, once I had a hat (acrylic, itchy and too big) and a fairly simple shawl out of the way. When I set myself the challenge I had no idea whether I would really manage to finish it, and I can hardly believe I actually did.  But once I'd started, I couldn't stop - there was a momentum, a journey to be seen through to the bitter end, painful narrow tubes notwithstanding. See? Sleeve knitting, childbirth - same thing*.

* OK, not exactly. On balance, labour did hurt slightly more. But knitting the sleeves went on a lot longer and was considerably more boring.

Blocking on New Year's Day

As the cardigan slowly progressed, getting bulkier to carry around as time went on, I felt myself growing along with it, learning skills and techniques and didn't know I was capable of. Now it's finished I feel a weirdly emotional but very real connection with it.  I suspect this might be inherent to knitting as a craft: where sewing is about the technicalities of architecture and construction, knitting is more like nurturing something into being, with a heavy investment of time and patience. Very much like the parallel worlds of work and full-time childcare - neither without its frustrations, but both hugely, if differently, rewarding.


The pattern is the caramel cardigan by Isabella Kraemer, a free download on Ravelry. The whole thing is knit top-down in one piece; it hangs loose and a bit slouchy, no buttons or other fastenings needed. This all appealed as it sounded manageable for a relative beginner. In addition to the other things I'd not done before - sleeves, a whole garment for actual wearing - the stripes were about as much more challenge as I could handle. In the end, it was just right; I felt stretched, but not beyond the limits of my knitting abilities. And having never seen an item of clothing come together like this before, I find the anatomy of the finished article fascinating.  This is the underarm point where the raglan 'seam' (actually just a stitch pattern) meets the side 'seam':

Apparently there's a common knitters' complaint about raglan patterns that don't have an underarm gusset, because you're very likely to end up with a small hole at this point where things join. Maybe you can see, there is indeed a hole. I don't really care, it's good enough for me, but I'm intrigued now to discover what different methods are out there.

Here you can see very clearly where I wove in the ends after changing stripe colours all down the inside front of the cardigan:

If I'm going to try stripes again, I need to figure out how to carry yarn up the side of the work so there are less ends to sew in. But it's not visible on the outside, so for me it's not a big deal. When it came to joining in a new ball of yarn in the middle of a row - well actually, this is something my knitting book says not to do, as it'll show.  But I wanted to use each ball of yarn up to the very end in order to not run out, so I wove the yarn in as I went and think it worked fine. Although it is visible, you really need to be looking. Here's an example seen from the inside, where the bumpy little stitches are:

 Here I am pointing out the same join seen from the right side. You have to know it's there!

By the way, I'm really pleased with how even my stitches are :-)  I did struggle slightly with the sleeves - not surprisingly, as this was my first time ever using double-pointed needles, and doing so with the whole body of the cardigan attached to one end didn't make it easier. I'm happy enough with the result, but as you can see there are some handmade-hallmark holes here and there, and my cuff bind off is a wavy mess.  I'm not sure why in either case, but again, I'm just so pleased to have accomplished the whole thing that it's ok. 

When I'd just finished it and those sleeves were fresh in my mind, I could imagine how one might say "never again". But not really, not for me. I was already looking forward to the next thing, and suddenly with far less fear of cables and bobbles and the rest.  It seems - miraculously but not exactly unexpectedly - that making this cardigan has turned me into a real, proper knitter.

It's myself, the same but different.

So cool. Let's do it again!

Plotting and planning, yesterday

Seriously. Just like babies*.

* Except that it's not actually possible to have too many handknit cardigans, is it?


Friday, 17 January 2014

Becowled in blue velvet

Woohoo - party dress!!  And she's a winner!

Completed in the nick of time on December 24th, you could say I'm posting this rather late. I prefer to look at it as a festively-flavoured antidote to the grey that has since descended. What grey? Oh sorry, you must live in the southern hemisphere. (Are you enjoying your 40° heatwave?) Personally, I'm hoping that complaints about the weather & darkness don't get old any time soon, because from where I'm sitting they've got plenty of mileage left.

Anyway, do you want to see it? Of course you do!

Seriously, what fabric does midwinter festivities better than velvet? None, that's what. It shimmers like a party all by itself, it's warm, and it both looks and feels downright luxurious. And what's even better than classic velvet, for the time-pressed home seamstress who wants to get dressed up to eat a big dinner? Yes, you guessed it. Stretch velvet. Stretch velvet, and the Lady Skater. And while we're at it, let's throw on a Renfrew cowl!

Innards first, mmkay?

To mash the cowl on, I measured the Lady Skater neckline (I made the size 4) and the Renfrew cowl pattern piece, and then traced the cowl size that matched the length of the neckline. The necklines aren't the same shape so I just pinned them together all the way round, without stretching as you would for the neckband, and it worked fine.

The Lady Skater pattern itself has been reviewed by so many bloggers already, I'm not going to go into that much detail. Basically, everything they say is true: the instructions are super clear for beginners and advanced bad*sses alike, and result in a sturdily constructed dress which, thanks to some miracle of bodice drafting, fits like a dream without even having to think about bust adjustments.

You might have spotted that I stabilised the waist seam with clear elastic. Here it is in close up:

The three different lines of stitching are where I zigzagged the elastic to the bodice seam allowance, then sewed the seam with the lightning stitch, then finished it off with the serger. This is how I did all the seams (there's only elastic at the waist and shoulders), having apparently taken to heart Steph C's sewing instructions that sergers are NOT for garment construction (I believe she feels strongly about this :-). The result feels great to wear - solid, neat and like it'll last. For a dress in cheap dancewear fabric - which cost far less than an equivalent garment would have in H&M - this is a win, and enough to convert me to careful construction techniques permanently. It didn't even take that much longer to sew, really. And for those who might be wondering, the velvet was easy to handle - with right sides together, it just stuck to itself and didn't slip around at all. The only thing I'm unhappy with is my smooth but untidy hem - I took the skirt up at the last minute, and the rush job shows. User error, nothing to do with the fabric or the pattern!

Now, on to the wearing. As I say, many bloggers have testified to this dress's brilliance, and they're not wrong. There's just something about the design of it - you put it on and look instantly fabulous. It's incredibly flattering, especially for something so comfortable. So a cosy velvet version was perfect wearing for dressed-up family fun and food over the holidays.

However. This is where I complain for proper about GREY.  Because - despite or more likely because of the all-round festiveness going on at the time - I have not a single photo of me in this dress on any of the occasions I wore it. Which means that the only photos I can show you were taken in the cold light of early-January - and it ain't the pretty party that this dress deserves.  So, please. Look at these glowing pictures of pre-Christmas Brussels - big trees, a ferris wheel, spiced cookies, an ice rink and, inevitably, the Mannekin Pis dressed up as St Nicholas - and just hold that cosy little thought before you scroll down to the big reveal...


Hmm. Not so much Bitchy Resting Face as Bitchy Duck Face. Which I'm not sure is better (I'm pretty sure it's not). Let's try the garden.

The garden with wind where I almost froze my t*ts off.  At least here the hair and skirt blowing around give an overall impression of, I don't know, maybe I am smiling instead of scowling (but which one is it??)

Ugh winter.

Still, this dress totally cheers me up and not just because it's a comfortable, flattering, velvet party dress with a built in scarf. It's also a little piece of international sewing serendipity: as I was making it, I discovered that Heather B. and Janet were simultaneously sewing becowled blue dresses for their Christmas partywear too. Sewcialist high five for the blue cowlgirls!


Monday, 13 January 2014

2014: Year of the Loom?

Seriously. Weaving is going to be a thing, you read it here first. But let's backtrack a bit, shall we?

When I was at home over Christmas, I scored big in the toy stakes. Really big. And I'm not talking about my presents here, great as they were. This was a blast from my past, rediscovered on our last morning at my parents' house, as I scoured the cupboards for random stray stuff not to leave behind. Lurking up on a shelf at the very back of one of them was this little beauty: 

I don't know when or where we acquired this, but it must have been around 30 years ago, and that label on the left testifies that it cost 50p. Even taking all those years' inflation into account, that's a bargain for something that, as the label states, was and still is "as new", "With full instructions and pattern book".

On opening the box, I discovered one finished piece of fabric and one work in progress. These, dear readers, were woven all that time ago by my own fair hand. I indistinctly but definitely remember making them, not so much as a proper memory but a glimpse of how they grew as I did it. It's a recollection more in my hands than my head. And the terminology! Warp and weft and heddle and shuttle - these things bring back my 8-year old self, sitting at a school desk taking my first steps in English (pre-)industrial history (the first of many, as it turned out).

In my excitement to examine these childhood works of textile art, I at first didn't notice the pattern booklet. I took all of the above pictures yesterday before realising it was still in the box. But it's a total gem - just look at the possibilities...

And yet, and yet.  Retro and vintage and cool as all this undeniably is (I defy you to deny it!), I'm not seriously considering actually weaving anything. I would almost say that weaving is the forgotten fibre craft - that, in crafting's current modern and youthful form with its modish design aesthetics and all, it's the craft that got left behind.

I'd almost say that, but not quite. Because, only a few days prior to my little rediscovery, I'd seen these pop up on instagram:


(from Skinny laMinx's instagram feed)

With my curiosity aroused, I turned to Pinterest. Of course.

It seems to me that these days, weaving (disclaimer: as far as it's represented on Pinterest) is the preserve of either textile artists or (disclaimer: remember, I'm generalising here) primary schoolers. There don't seem to be that many projects in the middle. There's not much of the sort of thing that someone like me - a semi-accomplished seamstress and comfortable knitter - might look at and think: ooh, I can see the point in doing that.  I mean, woven wall hangings are beautiful.  I can imagine some nicely woven coasters, or perhaps a table runner. But on a child-sized loom the time and effort required to do any of these things would be immense.

Perhaps I'm just spoiled by sewing's quick-fix easy output - after all, if I want a new garment I can theoretically just go and make one and have it done by this evening. Perhaps weaving is simply another way of slowing it a l l  t h e  w a y  d o w n.  It's certainly got something very au naturel about it. Maybe that physical link with the pre-industrial era is precisely what it's about. And is it, just maybe, on its way back? Might I and my childhood loom be, for once, charging ahead of a craft-world trend? Exactly how many artful pinners does it take to get to tipping point??

For now, I have to admit that I don't think I'm going to be doing anything much with my rediscovered treasure.  I'll just keep it, waiting for the right moment or a display of overwhelming interest from the kids. In the meantime, I may well hang my 30-year old woven thingy on the wall from an appropriately shabby-chic stick.  No doubt when I'm good and ready, there'll be more.


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Top Five: reflections & goals

I should have written this post last week. There's a momentum, isn't there, to looking backwards and then forwards at the year's end?  With new ideas and projects bursting into my head - the inevitable consequence of a sewing break and a restful holiday - it suddenly isn't easy to reflect much more on 2013.

Luckily, however, my reflections tie into my goals for the coming year, so I'm going to wrap up my Top 5 of 2013 with both. I know I said it in my last post, but I have found this such a great process - I am sewing self-aware! I have focus! - that I'll get going with another linky shout out to everyone who's taken part. So many great posts, people! Such fun!

1)  Finding my style, or lack of it

I realised when looking at my top five hits that towards the end of last year, I made a string of things that really suit me. I'm not talking so much about whether the clothes flatter, although I think they do - more just that they're really me. In fact, some of the ideas for my fails were like that too - they might not have turned out how I wanted, but they're clothes that reflect who I am and what I like to wear/look like.

I never have and still don't consider myself to have a particular style. I like to be a bit of a magpie, picking up whatever attracts, and my most uncomfortable style moments have always been when I was trying to wear a trend or an idea a bit too thoroughly. This year, with the slow advancement of my technique along with the habit of showing my clothes off on this here blog, I've found that I'm suddenly comfortable making clothes for me, in very the broadest sense.

In goal-for-2014 format: carry on!

2)  Hitting my blogging groove

Hand-in-hand with the above, as I've eased into my own personal style during the last 6 months, I've also found it easier to blog in a way that feels authentic. I honestly couldn't say what the difference is, I just enjoy the writing more, find it easier and feel better doing it, and am happier with the outcome.

If I have a blogging goal for 2014, it's to find a routine or schedule that helps me blog at a regular rhythm. Finding the time, getting the photos, managing to produce fully-formed ideas - nothing earth-shattering or unusual there! I just want to feel like I've got a manageable pattern to it all.

3)  The joys and perils of sewcialising

Just over a year ago I got on twitter.  I honestly had no idea how it would change my life. Really! Through it I have met a huge number of others who sew, most of them online but some in real life too, at our Brussels meet-up  in July. The sewcialists are a gloriously funny, creative, inspiring and generally lovely bunch to share sewing (and other) stories with - and I'm very very glad I took that deep breath and jumped in.

The downside? Twitter is a time-suck-vortex (or something). Factor in blogs, instagram and Pinterest too, and judiciously reading or ignoring becomes a whole time management issue in itself.  Also, new pattern releases are even more dangerous than before - it's like having all your coolest friends at once shout BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT. Learning to step away from my Paypal account, slowly...

Goal for 2014: more :-)  Seriously, making lots of online friends is actually the best thing about my sewing life to have happened in 2013. And in real life, there's an Antwerp meet-up next Saturday (18 Jan). If you're in the area, please join us - the more the merrier! Go here for details.

4)  Sewing for others

Basically, this post sums it up.

(I'll be honest - this is taking longer to write than planned, and there's a fabric sale I have to get to :-) Priorities, people, priorities!)

5)  E n j o y

I'm allowing myself to get vague here. Basically, 2013 was a really good year for me.  All the things I've mentioned above meant that it was great in terms of sewing, and thinking about sewing, and talking about sewing. but it was also just a really good year.  I actually don't think it's a coincidence that G and the kids and I had the most brilliant summer holiday, where we just sort of connected with who we all are as a little family, and then - speaking on my own behalf, but I think it applies to us all - came back and settled into enjoying being ourselves. That's when my sewing and blogging got that much more satisfactory.

summer holidays - siblings - birthday parties - so much fun

I think that creativity is one of the biggest blessings there is in life. Connecting with it, drawing it out, can bring us so much good - and I have so much I could say about that. So much about the post-natal depression I finally (hopefully), with the help of a sewing machine, knitting needles and, yes, some fantastically good care and attention over the last four years, seem to have escaped. So much about the good it does just to concentrate on fabric and wool, even when you think you don't have time. Especially then. I want to get off to that fabric sale, so I won't go on. But I know you know what I'm talking about :-)

So, of course, I could list a ton of things I want to do in 2014.  Places to go, people to see, patterns to sew. (That last list is already long and specific!)  In the end, though, what it all comes down to, is this:

Oh look - I got all reflective there after all, didn't I?  :-)


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Top Five of 2013: the Misses

Everyone's gone out. I'm on my own, in my parents' house, for the first time in almost three weeks. This bit of England is currently wet and windy and brown and grey, and I just realised that what I'm enjoying most is how everything is suddenly quiet and normal. Thank goodness festive seasons come to an end eventually! However your 2014 is starting, I hope it's peaceful and good too.

Well although it feels slightly off balance on New Year's Day to look back at last year's fails, I'm going to do it anyway, because sorting out my list of 'misses' in 2013 was not only slightly cathartic but also really useful in pinpointing where my sewing needs to go next. I can't quite jump ahead to my goals for the coming year until I've done it. Plus, who doesn't like to read about the fails? I know I do :-) It's just so great to know that everyone has them (though in my case, I'm fairly sure you weren't in that much doubt!).

So here we go - here's my list of the things that just didn't work in 2013...

1) Getting to grips with knits

Right off the bat I'm going to have to admit that this is a double-edged fail. A lot of my projects with knits just didn't work out - but this is in large part because I had very little experience using them, and through my unsuccessful sews I've learned a MASSIVE amount this year about stretch fabric choice, and matching that with the right design. I think this was most epitomised by the two fabrics pictured above. I got them on special offer and thought they'd make good simple but nice projects - but when it came down to it, neither of them are the kind of thing I like to wear. Too thin, and I had no idea how they would behave. The white/cream had very little stretch, and turned into a Renfrew that clung in the wrong places with no redeeming slinkyness. Plus it tore like paper when I approached it with the iron, and despite an improvised patch is basically not something I'll ever wear.

The pink became this: 

It's a Mandy boat tee (a free Tessuti pattern), which was great the first time I wore it (although it took me a long time to make an outfit I liked with it, because I don't like how sheer it is). But the fabric immediately stretched hugely at the neckline and it now falls off both shoulders, becoming instantly not me. Moral? Sew twill tape along the shoulders and neckline of unstable fabrics. Like many of my stretch projects of 2013, it's a fail with a lesson.

2) Concept vs. execution

This one's about being inexperienced, lazy, sloppy or all three at once. Again, knit fabrics feature!

I really wanted this sweatshirt-weight Briar to work. I wear sweatshirts a lot. But although I still think this concept is a good one, I had never sewn with a heavier weight knit before, and had never put a zip in any kind of stretch fabric. It was a recipe for disaster, which I did nothing to improve by steaming ahead without researching how to do it (stabilise! stabilise! stabilise!)

And then this. Again, I still like the idea: a slouchy, stripy neon dress for easy summer. But I just dashed into it thinking that slouchy = no bother to fit, and on top of that I didn't match the stripes. Guess what? It doesn't fit (too big on top, too tight at the waist) and I can't stand the un-matched stripes. Good concept, bad execution.

(Both these items blogged here).

 3) Concept & execution vs. wearability

Here we have ideas I love, executed with care, that seem to be hits. And then, even though there's nothing whatsoever wrong with them, I never, ever wear them. This basically is the result of what I was talking about in this post. There's a wearability learning curve, which is entirely different to the sewing-skills learning curve, and these makes both fell off it (the pictures link to the original posts.)

The above pose is the most comfortable I'm capable of looking in that dress, and I don't even know why.

4) The badly-fitting skirt

This skirt made it to the blog in plan format:

I never blogged the final product, mainly because I can hardly fit into it. My fitting brain obviously went on strike at the fact that this skirt is drafted to sit somewhere between the natural waist and the hips, and I fall into two desperately different sizes at those points.

Plus, for some unfathomable reason I trimmed the pocket seams. So when I had finally squeezed into it, the first thing I did was put my hands into and straight through the pockets. I mean, honestly. FAIL. I feel especially bad about this because I got the last metre of this lovely, slightly sparkly fabric, and as I was paying I overheard another customer expressing great disappointment at having missed it. She would no doubt have done a better job with it than I did...

5) Sewing for the boy

And finally, time to face up to something I have been feeling guilty about. These are the only two things I made in 2013 for my son:

They're cool, but they're no match for the approx. 15 items I have made for my daughter. And every time I make something for her, he asks me to make something for him too. Time to man up - boy clothes are fun, and I owe him!

So there you have it. On balance, I wouldn't classify most of these as actual fails but as learning experiences - only the too-small skirt is a real, proper failure. But it's so helpful to examine what didn't work, and I want to give another THANK YOU to Gillian for doing the Top Five series again this year (see here for her linky round-up post). It's a lot of blog-writing, and I might try to merge my reflections and goals - but then again, it's a great process and maybe I won't :-)

Either way, I feel like I have such a blog backlog for you. The kids' Christmas nightwear, the party dress that did get made in time, and - I can hardly believe it - a finished cardigan! Blocked this morning - oh the things one gets done in a free, quiet hour :-)  But the kids and G are back now and we're off to the cinema.

Enjoy your New Year's Day too!