Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Summary of 2013 Sewing, Plus Stashbusting Wrap Up

There's just something about making lists that's so appealing to the J in me. Thank goodness for Gillian's Top 5 prompts, because that means I get to make five lists! Also because it's a convenient way to sum up the year in sewing. Sew so here goes:

Top 5 Hits: Favorite Creations -- Most Worn or Most Loved
  1. Elaine's wedding dress: I'm pretty sure this is self-explanatory; although Elaine only wore her dress for the one day, it was a labor of love and an expression of our friendship. It's also easily the most complicated thing I've ever sewn. 
  2. Eowyn/shieldmaiden costume: Again, only worn once, but this is the dress that I always wanted when I was younger and dreaming of being a warrior princess. 
  3. Party King Thranduil: Gack, why is it that this year's top makes are all so impractical? But again, despite its being relegated to the costume closet, and the very uncomplicated pattern, it is too fabulous and I loved wearing it so much.
  4. Perfect pants: Finally, something practical, but only just barely, seeing as how they are covered with flocked damask print. These pants were a few months in the making, but they were worth it!
  5. Pirate coat: Yikes, another non-everyday item, and one I haven't even worn officially yet? But every time I see it in my sewing room I feel warm fuzzies, knowing that, like Eowyn's dress, this is one garment I've been longing to be able to make for myself for years. 

Top 5 Misses: Sewing Fails, UFOs, worn once, or complete disasters
  1. An attempt at remaking my Spiderman dress from another sheet: I didn't ever blog this because it was such a fail. I never wore it, not even to take pictures. This was really sad, considering that the dress I was trying to recreate was one of my top fives last year
  2. Dotted Anthro top: I just didn't like the fit on this, so I just donated it after I took pictures. 
  3. Strapless dress: Let's face it, I'm never going to be comfortable in a dress that depends on a knit tube top to hold itself up. I did go back and add straps, but then I never wore it because it was too cold by that point.
  4. This other DIY Anthro top: It's not that I don't wear it, but it's just not my favorite. The colors aren't really me, and the sleeves make it impractical for layering. 
  5. Regency sheet dress: Not super accurate in terms of look or material, and never worn again. Sure, there are other things I've only worn once (or not at all!), but I still have positive feelings toward them. 
Bonus "fail": I originally categorized the accidental Aladdin pants as a fail, but then I went on to wear them all summer because they were so dang comfortable, and then they came in handy on my firebending costume. I take back all the mean things I said about it!

Top 5 Reflections: What did you learn about yourself or sewing this year?
  1. I really like free things. That is why I ended up reviewing so many Japanese sewing pattern books.
  2. Unfortunately, that meant I was sewing things that weren't originally my idea to sew. I guess it should come as no surprise to me, then, that those garments just feel "meh" to me. Considering how much less time I have to sew these days, I just can't afford to sew things I don't actually want to sew.
  3. Not really a revelation, but more of a confirmation: I REALLY LIKE MAKING COSTUMES. Like, a lot. The garments that had the highest time-invested-to-positive-feelings ratios are almost all costumes. 
  4. There's no need to buy fabric all the time! This year, I bought much less fabric than in previous years, and new fabric was only purchased because I "needed" it to complete a costume or project by a deadline. Of all the items I sewed this year, only 15% required non-stash fabric. I did still acquire some new stash, but most of it was free (and therefore doesn't count in my mind!) or so incredibly cheap, like <$1/yd, that it was too good to pass up. Granted, there were only two purchases like that this year, totaling less than $15. Because of this self-imposed no new stash rule, I've really changed my mindset toward acquiring new fabric. No longer do I stalk the thrift stores looking for sheets to stash; things are purchased only with a specific, immediate, project in mind.
  5. I really love the sewing community that's sprung up! Last year, I felt like I was getting to know people via their blogs and comments; this year that feeling has multiplied thanks to Twitter and Instagram, along with real life sewing meetups. I love that there are so many likeminded people with so much knowledgeand experience and good advice right at my fingertips. 
Top 5 Inspirations: What motivated you this year? 

I don't have too many new inspirations this year, but if I had to pick a couple, I'd say:
  1. Deadlines: Having set dates that things need to be finished by (whether for HSF, the Stashbusting Sewalong, or costuming events) really helped me to be ultra-productive. I've always worked best under a deadline, and this year there were a lot!
  2. Chances to dress up: Call me a big kid, but I really, really, really like getting to wear a costume. It got to the point where if there was anything remotely costume-permitting (movies, and not even midnight showings! school spirit days! going to a museum!), I was all over it. I don't know what it is about pretending to be someone else, but as an introvert, it's one of the few times I like being the center of attention. Even when I made "normal" clothes this year, they tended toward the costume-y, like my Carmen Sandiego coat or my Slytherin bolero
Top 5 Goals for the New Year:
  1. Continue not buying RTW if I can help it: In 2013 I only bought 5 items: leggings, a fleece thermal top, a cardigan, and socks. Mostly these things strike me as not being worth the hassle of making them myself, or because I don't know how to knit (yet). The fleece top was something I could have made myself, but I was in a hurry to get something warm to wear under Thranduil since it was a midnight showing in December, and I didn't have time to make something. Leggings, I do want to attempt this year, since Cake Patterns released the Espresso
  2. Continue not acquiring stash if I can help it. Now that I'm in the habit of shopping my stash, I want to keep going! More on this to come. 
  3. Make more pants. Making jeans has been in my sewing resolutions for a couple years now, and there's really no reason not to, now that I've perfected my pants block. This is especially urgent now that my two favorite pairs of jeans have started developing holes. 
  4. Make difficult things in a sustainable way. Prior to 2013, I didn't really sew anything that required prolonged attention; I was churning out dresses like a machine, each requiring about 5 hours. Now that I've had a chance to sink my teeth into some really involved projects (like the shieldmaiden dress, wedding dress and pirate outfit), I find that I enjoy these multi-part outfits that take a whole work week to complete. I still want to make a complete rococo outfit, Victorian outfit, and Titanic evening gown, but doing so will be a challenge this year between school and school. I tend to work best when I have a huge block of uninterrupted time, like four straight days of sewing, because mentally detaching and re-entering the real world is really difficult for me. Sewing in short bursts is more sustainable for my current life stage, but it will be a challenge mentally, since I tend to think "oh I only have an hour, so I might as well just waste it on Pinterest."
  5. Make more things for other people. I didn't sew anything for Mr. Cation this year, despite making it a resewlution last year. I did sew a wedding dress for my best friend, a couple of things for my sister, and some plushies for others, but I want to do better. I don't really need to make more clothes for myself, and even though I'm sure I will anyway, I want to make it a bit more balanced. My mom wants me to make pants for her, and Mr. Cation needs a nice wool coat, and I still want to perfect a shirt block for him. We'll see if that happens. 

Phew! That's a lot of reflecting! And the reminiscing isn't quite over yet, because I've still got my stats of 2013 to show: 

Compared to last year, number of garments sewn (37 total) has decreased significantly in most categories, except for costumes, headgear (costumes require matching bonnets, turbans, and hats!), and outerwear. (There were definitely less squids and bow ties for cats, which obviously needs to be rectified in 2014.) I used less of my own patterns, but increased in my use of non-Big-4 patterns. In lieu of vintage patterns, I opted for using historical instructions to create patterns to fit me, so that's not quite my own pattern, but also not quite the same as a pre-printed pattern. I went back to sewing with wovens, mostly because stretch fabric is inappropriate for historical and/or fantasy garments, but when I used wovens for everyday clothing, a significant portion of it was either a stretch woven or cut on the bias, allowing for less closures than in previous years.

Other stats:
  • The average time spent per garment approximately doubled, from about six and a half the previous year, to about twelve hours in 2013. Most of this was due to the fact that I was making so many complex costumes, and of course the wedding dress and pirate coat pulled the average up a lot. The amount of time spent sewing overall decreased slightly, from 491 to 447 hours. 
  • The average cost per garment increased from $6 to $10. This doesn't include the wedding dress, because hello, wedding dress. Again, the increase is mostly because of involved costumes that require yards of trim or lots of buttons. Without factoring in the wedding dress, my me-made clothing (and costumes) this year cost $369, but 2/3 of that was materials already in the stash, so it wasn't actually money leaving my wallet. 
  • I sewed a total of 108.5 yards of fabric into garments this year, averaging 3 yards per garment.
  • I continued sewing with non-traditional yardage, using over a dozen sheets, a tablecloth, and a placemat. 
  • I participated in many more sewing community events: the Historical Sew Fortnightly (despite petering out in the second half of the year, I still completed 12 items!), Jungle JanuarySew Grateful Week, a sewing challenge with GingerMakes, the Sew Weekly Reunion, Red October, pattern testing for Lolita Patterns (while not really an event, it was fun knowing that other ladies were sewing the same thing, albeit secretly), and of course, the Stashbusting Sewalong!
  • Not sewing output related, but I took my first "official" sewing classes! I didn't get to do too much sewing in the latter half of the year due to being a student again, but I learned loads (and I hope you did too)! You'll be pleased to know that I got straight As this semester in both textiles and pants. Actually, you probably don't care, but hey, 4.0 is a number and this is a list of numbers. 

Whew, that's a lot of tallying and calculating. If you've read this far, thanks! And if you're just here for the pictures, like previous years, I've collected all of my finished garments of 2013 here. Unfortunately, I'm not fancy enough to have them be clickable links to the original post...sorry :(

We also have several sewn non-garments:

And now, to wrap up this absurdly long post, let's talk about the Stashbusting Sewalong. When I look over my original list, I didn't use up even half of the yardage I hoped to use, but I did end up using other stash fabric that hadn't been listed. Actually, 29 of my 37 garments utilized stash fabric, using up $248 in the form of 74 yards of fabric. I had originally listed about 70 yards of fabric, so I think I can still call this year a success! Of course, let's not think about how many more hundreds of yards I've got stashed...

EmSewCrazy and I have plans to continue this challenge in 2014, but it'll likely take a different form...stay tuned for more information! In the meantime, how have you done with your pledges? Leave a comment telling me how many items you sewed from stash fabric, and how many yards of stash you busted. We're planning on some fun little prizes for the most successful stashbusters!


  1. Wow, that is an impressive list of garments you made! There is so much to love, but those Jane Austen inspired dresses strike my as particularly lovely!
    No stash busting round my parts, I'm afraid - I am still happy to build one (though 2014 might be the year where I slow down a little ;-) )
    Happy new year!

  2. Love your round-up! As a fellow J, I love reading lists as much as I like creating them! :-) I don't know how I missed your Carmen San Diego coat the first time around...but I love it!! Definitely want to join in the stash busting this year as well!!

  3. I went a little crazy on the buying fabric for specific projects near the end of the year, so I'm pretty sure I ended up with more fabric than I started 2013 with! But I am doing the Stash Diet this year, so I'll be interested to see what form the Stashbusting Sewalong takes this year. Especially since I didn't get to participate as fully as I would have liked.

    Definitely need to sew a costume or two myself this year. It's been too long.

  4. for not having as much sewing time, you still had a very productive year! happy 2014!

  5. After reading your first two hits I had to scan down to make sure the pirate coat made the list! That thing is amazing. You've had a great year, and I'm especially in awe of how much you've made and how well you've made it with all the other activities you do!

  6. Happy new year Cindy! and congratulations for the beautiful garments (and non-garments)! I love your stats :)

  7. Fabulous! Here's to a happy new year and lots more sewing! I think your costumes are slowly infecting me... I'm starting to feel the need to make some....

  8. It's great to see all your amazing makes again. I love how diverse a selection it is & I'm very impressed that you managed to do so much with stash fabrics!

  9. Welcome to the dark side of sewing (we have costumes!) ;) I keep *thinking* I should do more real life sewing, but costuming is just too much fun. Love the photo montage...especially the shot of Dignified Grey Sheath Dress looking (with dismay?) at Accidental Aladdin Pants!

  10. Whoa! What a productive year! I love that you kept track of all your sewing stats :) I just started following your blog this year and I can't wait to see what you do in 2014!

  11. You know, I've never sewn a costume... but I really excited to try it with the Shieldmaiden Sewalong! (Notice my spelling has improved! ;) I"m definitely going for your genre of effect over accuracy - I need something accurate enough to be educational for 10 year olds, and nothing more! :) Great job on all your costues this year - I wonder what this next year will bring?

  12. Your productively is amazing! I love all your seeing all your costumes even though that's not my sewing style. They are just too fun. Thanks for co-hosting the Stashbusting sew-a-long, I really enjoyed it. So my original stastbusting goal was to make 12 projects but then I met that early in the year and upped it to 40 projects. At the end of the year I made 40 garments from stash and 3 other small bag projects. Hooray! My yardage sewn up was around 86 yards.

    Look forward to this years stashbusting sew-a-long.

  13. I love seeing your costumes and also mostly don't comment but they are all fantastic. I really enjoyed your pants journey and need to get some of those reference books.

    Now for the Stash Busting: 18 of the 22 garments I made where from Stash and a total of 36 yards went out. Unfortunately another 20 came in but I accomplished my pledge. Now to see what you have planned for the 2014 stashbusting sew-a-long!

  14. Awesome! You had a ton of fun projects this year. The pirate coat is SO GOOD. I'm definitely going to be making some costumes next year.

    My roundup of projects and stashbusting and so on is over here. 45 projects, 20 of which were from stash. My goal was 12, so success! Also waaaay more projects than I expected to complete with a baby and a full time job.

  15. To be honest I stopped taking measure of how much fabric I'd used fairly early on, then I just kept a mental note of what I'd actually made.
    13 items, all for the Historical Sew Fortnightly; another is probably halfway through but has stalled with the school holidays here. Of those only 2 involved me purchasing fabric; everything else was from stash.

  16. I am totally amazed by your productivity and the amount of really intricate and complicated costumes that you made! The wedding dress is so beautiful! I have failed miserably at stash busting, but I decided if I want to make things that I will reach for every day to wear, I need to up the anti on what kind of fabrics I chose. Happy 2014!

  17. Love the costumes you've made this year. So fun to see, even though I didn't have any reason to make any in 2013 (this year I'm totally thinking my family needs to go to the Robin Hood festival held in the nearby town of Sherwood, but only if they will all wear costumes with me). I kept track of my projects through the year and managed to use 25 pieces from my stash (more or less). I estimate this was at least 48.5 yards of fabric, but I should have kept better track. This year I'll be keeping a closer eye on the yardage I'm using. I seem to have stumbled in the stash busting arena about the time I got sick/had surgery (June/July). This year I plan to avoid surgery, so maybe I'll be able to keep my momentum going.

  18. You do such a great round up post! As far as you requesting my destash numbers...I'm afraid it's not good here. I add-stashed this year. Hopefully I have a better handle on my ML loft and FIDM addiction...I live in SM very close to TCOCC.

    1. But now it's just ridiculous and must be used!!!! You have been very inspirational though in helping me realize that I CAN DO THIS!

  19. Wow, what a fun year! I love that you had a mix of really difficult projects (like the pants and the wedding dress), and fun costumes! I had so much fun making the Jurassic Park dress with you-- thank you! And thanks for running the stashbusting sewalong! My goal was to use six pieces of stashed fabric, but I ended up using 11!

  20. Looks like you had a very good year. I met my stashbusting goal, so I'm quite pleased. I love all your costumes.

  21. Just saw this and thought of you:
    :-) sounds fun!

  22. Although I didn't get that much made for myself or my family (too busy sewing for clients!), I did manage to complete 7 items of personal sewing, using up (either wholly or partially) 13 pieces of stash fabric. More than I thought I'd manage to fit in, but still a lot less than I would have liked. I'm so impressed by the amount that you sewed last year, and with a full time job, and your recent venture back into studying yourself!

  23. I've just finished reading through your archive, and perfect time for it too. I can't wait to join in the stash busting for 2014!

  24. I love seeing all the things you made, it's so impressive! I'm also so honored to have my wedding dress in your list of favorites! It's easily my most favorite garment to have gotten last year!

  25. Congratulations for your blog! I think your designs are amazing, and I love the details! I've started doing pattern design just a weeks ago, when found your blog (because of your quipao). My previous sewing hobby was kites. This year I would like to try a skirt, a jacket and a new foil, if I have time for everything :) Reading your blog I hold out hope


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