Thoughts for the (not so) New Year

Well hello there.

What’s that you say? I’ve taken much too long a break and it’s rather too late for some kind of yearly wrap-up post? Ha, nonsense! The fourth week of January is the perfect time for a new year’s retrospective for the consummate procrastinator. Which I obviously am.

It’s funny, I’ve been kind of (or more than kind of) avoiding writing a post like this (and therefore not posting at all, since somehow I thought a recap should be my first post of the year – I mean, I couldn’t just ignore the turn of the year, right?), because I thought it’d be a pain, or take too long, or because for the last few weeks all I’ve been wanting to do is stream old episodes of How I Met Your Mother while knitting (man I knit slowly). I’ve sewn a few things, but nothing that I’m excited enough about to motivate me to blog. But now that I’ve finally started to think about my year in sewing, it’s actually reinvigorated me. Look at all the things I made last year! They look so pretty all together! Hey, I want to do that some more!

2012 collage 1 2012_collage_22012_collage_3

Observant followers may notice some pictures of things here that I never blogged (no, actually, I don’t expect anyone to be following so closely that they’d remember all my makes – that’s why I’m confessing it!) Like what is happening currently, at some point over the summer I made a bunch of stuff in a row and never took the time to write it all up. If there’s something you spot that you’re absolutely dying to know about, do let me know and I’ll try to dig up the details.

I tallied up my totals for the year – I made:

  • 21 dresses
  • 17 tops and 1 tunic
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 pairs of crop pants
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 jackets
  • 1 pair of pajamas (plus 2 unphotographed pairs of pj pants)
  • 3 bags and a camera insert

So, not bad! Looking at my closet now, even though I added 20 dresses to it this year, I still find myself wishing for more. I think that’s because only a handful of the dresses I made land in that sweet spot of nice-enough-for-work-but-not-too-nice, especially now that I’m generally commuting to work on a bike and I need dresses with some stretch. I like making tops ’cause they’re quick and a good use of just a yardish of fabric, but my sad lack of well-fitting pants means they hang in the closet unworn most of the time.

All the same, it’s actually hard to pick a favorite item of the year. I’m particularly proud of my Anthro knock-off tank and of my whole Mini Wardrobe. My Minoru has been seeing a lot of action in the last couple months (rainy season), and all my knit dresses are in regular rotation. My biggest fails this year were definitely my sad rushed poly dress and an unblogged maxi dress that I wound up cutting in half and turning into a top and a skirt. And as far as least worn goes, although I like them, the two sacks-with-belts I made this summer will likely languish in the closet in favor of some of the fancier knit dresses I also made.

Which brings me to the lessons-learned-and-applied section: Thinking about what made me happiest to sew this year, I’ve realised that I’m really a practical sewist. I like to make things I wear, and I want to wear-it-NOW-already! So taking six weeks to craft a complicated, perfectly fitted fancy woven dress is just not my thing at all (sorry, Gertie’s Bombshell Dress Course, I don’t think I’ll ever get around to you). Now, that’s not to say that I only want to make boring garments – I love color, prints, and unusual construction details (I’m so on board with all the twisty jersey dress patterns I’ve been seeing), and I rarely make the same pattern twice. So I suppose my goal for the new year is… more of the same. Wow, ambitious, right? Well, I’m the first to admit that I’m honestly not that interested in stretching myself too much – this sewing lark is supposed to be fun, after all. But I do want to keep improving my skills: getting better at choosing appropriate fabric for patterns, getting more confidant with my routine fit adjustments, getting faster. And I do want to sew some more complex things this year – pants and coats, for one. But only things I can really see myself wearing every day.

I also need to get a handle on the Stash Monster. Fabric has literally taken over our office, to the point that there’s no place to sit anymore and the cat has to vault straight from the floor to get to his sleeping spot on the back of the futon because of the teetering piles of fabric that have taken over the seat… To that end I’m joining Cation Design’s Stashbusting Sewalong for sure. I can’t swear off buying fabric altogether (that’s just setting myself up for failure), but I do want to stop buying fabric online. I have a bunch of knit fabric in the stash that I ordered that is staying unused for some reason, mainly because it’s thinner than something I would have picked out in a store. So my only stash additions this year will be from my local 99 cent bolt end store and from any incidental vacation/special trip fabric shopping I may do (LA garment district, I’m looking at you!). I love nothing more than browsing fabric online, but I’ve learned that the fabric I’m most likely to use is the stuff I touched in person before I bought it.

My last big nebulous goal for the new year is to not let myself procrastinate this blog into nonexistence. I think the key to timely blogging is to not let finished projects build up. I just need to get into the rhythm of finish a project, write it up, start new project. Once a few things build up, it’s hard to motivate myself to sit down and blog because it seems too daunting and I’d rather just keep sewing. I want to try to keep sewing and blogging together as more of a unit so I can write about things while I still remember what I did!

So that’s my year in sewing, and my sewey goals for this year. I do feel like I should mention what else went on in my life last year, since thinking back on it now it actually was fairly eventful. In May I left my job of nearly 7 years and transitioned into a job closer to home, eliminating my hourlong commute and also decreasing my work hours each week (which did translate into more sewing, but not more blogging, as discussed above…) I’m still figuring out my new schedule and how to not just spend my extra time each week perusing cooking blogs (though I have been cooking a lot more, which is great). Happily, the job shift has also allowed me to spend more time with my friends, and has resulted in the growth of some great friendships. My year in biking was certainly eventful also – I rode almost 5,000 miles and climbed over 300,000 feet in 2012. I rode 5 organized rides: two full centuries (100 miles), two 70 milers, and 90 miles of the Death Ride. If you’d asked me two years ago if I thought I’d ever participate in any kind of organized athletic event, let alone something as challenging as Death Ride, my answer would have been a resounding “are you crazy?” But much to my surprise I really enjoy it. And, of course, also this year I had my first major crash and broke a bone for the first time in my life! I hope this year I can ride as much or more, but I’ll do without the crashing, thank you.

But back to sewing, one last thing that was great about last year was just the fun of participating in this crazy awesome online community. I’ve loved getting to know everyone through their blogs, and having the pleasure of meeting a few real sewasaurases in the flesh! And I don’t say it often enough, but thank you all so much for reading and commenting! I’m dreadful at replying to comments, but every time a new comment shows up in my inbox it absolutely makes my day. I can’t articulate how cool it is to find out how much I have in common with people all over the world! Thank you for making me feel so welcome and appreciated! I was even nominated for the Lovely Blogger Award (thanks Adrienne of stitching on the edge!) Rather than make this post any longer by sticking to the letter of the award rules, I’ll just finish up by calling out some of the blogs that really inspired me last year (and I’m sure will continue to do so this year!):

  • Cindy at Cation Designs is slowly convincing me that I may be able to just wing it and make something awesome without a commercial pattern,
  • Andrea of foursquarewalls has given me the baby step option of just altering the heck out of my existing commercial patterns before I try to leap off the patternless cliff,
  • Lisa of notes from a mad housewife has helped me to not be afraid of real coat construction (I hope to apply those lessons soon!),
  • Jess of the Sometimes Sewist has shown me that you really can just jump in to a big complicated project and just make it happen,
  • and Anne of Pretty Grievances has made me laugh harder than I thought possible at sewing related matters.

Thanks, ladies, and thanks to all the other bloggers who I just happily devour whatever gorgeous thing it is you’ve made this week – there are too many of you to list, and that’s the best thing ever!

Here’s one more collage of the things I made last year (a happy accident that occurred as I was trying to figure out the online collage maker). Recap over, back to regularly scheduled sewing (and sharing the things I’ve already sewed before they get away from me!)


So here’s to a great 2012, a better 2013, and lots of sewing for everyone!

  1. what a great selection of creations! I look forward to seeing what your crafty hands make this year 😀 xxx

  2. lisa g said:

    okay, that last picture collage is awesome! you have a lot of great wearable pieces there. i’m a lot like you in wanting to make things that actually get worn! i also know what you mean about getting out of sewing/blogging rhythm. if something has sat for more than a week, it’s likely to get skipped; something i’m trying to be better at too. oh, and thanks for listing me as inspirational! it always blows me away that anyone finds my work the least bit interesting! here’s to another great year!

  3. Sue said:

    I really do enjoy your blog! I especially loved the stash monster portion of todays’s entry. I recently refolded the “small bits” portion of my stash and knew I shouldn’t ever buy more fabric..but knew I would.
    Thanks for the humor, inspiration, practicality, and I will mention it again..inspiration!

  4. It’s like you read my mind about letting your blog lapse because you are too busy with your next project and then things pile up and the prospect of blogging becomes more and more daunting. It’s my exact situation. Congrats on your year of great makes! And THANK YOU for introducing me to Cindy’s (Cation) dolman sleeve top.

  5. great post, you created so many cute dresses this year. Love your paragraph about the sewing true. and that skinny collage is so cool. Happy sewing in 2013.

  6. Myra said:

    Congratulation on what looks like a very successful sewing year! I too agree that it gets really hard to post sometimes and like you, I have quite a bit this year that I did not post. Oh well…cheers to a great 2013!

  7. Amy said:

    Snap on just wanting to watch episodes of HIMYM, though I’m accompanying it with slow crochet instead of slow knitting! Your 2012 wardrobe looks fantastic, so many great makes 🙂

  8. Meredith said:

    I love your blog and your style! I’m also a practical sewer, and I loved your mini wardrobe. Thanks for the inspiration! And as far as I’m concerned, it’s never too late for a new year post!

  9. Adrienne said:

    I’m really impressed with all that you have made this year. Wow! And it all looks everyday-wearable. That’s definitely a goal for me, to make more clothes I can use.

  10. susana said:

    Increíble lo que usted hizo en un año!Hay algunas cosas en sus fotos que me gustaría ver como las hizo pero no la voy a poner en semejante trabajo!Felicitaciones por los 5000 km .Cariños.

  11. Wow, almost 50 makes last year! Super impressive. I hear you when it comes to procrastination (I add a little to everything I do), and I also end up the happiest with the clothes that aren’t too fancy that turn out well…the ones that can be easily worn day to day. I would totally wear the shit out of your mini wardrobe…it’s awesome! Looking forward to what you come up with in 2013.

    p.s. Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

    • Er…40 makes. Apparently Saturday night multiplication is not my strong suit!

  12. Andrea B said:

    Nice recap! I kinda like that it came later than everyone else’s. You’ve made some really great pieces this past year. Glad I could encourage you to hack your patterns!

  13. Jennifer said:

    Wow, that is AWESOME that you did so much biking! I set 5,000 miles as my goal and didn’t even come close. That is also so impressive that you did so many big rides! And I love your finished projects. I’m going to have to spend days reading about them!

    • aleah said:

      Thanks! As far as riding so much, I have the unfair advantage of living in a climate that allows me to ride year-round 🙂 And the big rides seem way less daunting when you have a friend or two riding with you and there are guaranteed rest stops with food!

  14. lloubb said:

    fun recap! also 2012 had a giveaway, which I was so excited to win!! It really helped build my confidence sewing with knits — I used the navy fabric/twill tape/twin needle on a long sleeve Renfrew and the picot edge elastic on a pair of undies using So Zo’s pattern. I was also really excited to have the twill tape on hand when I made a Crescent skirt. I used a cotton sateen that had just enough stretch that the waistband would not have worked out without twill tape!
    that ‘mistake’ collage at the end is pretty neat 🙂
    Cheers to great makes in 2013!

    • aleah said:

      I’m glad you’ve had fun using the stuff – glad I threw in that twill tape then!

  15. That collage is really cool! You’ve made so many wonderful things – looking forward to seeing more fabulous creations this year 🙂

  16. Oh man, that last collage is awesome! How did you do that??

    I totally hear you on the just sewing things that I’ll wear, and that are fun to make. Knit dresses certainly fit the bill, don’t they? And gosh, I really want to visit that crazy store in Solvang with you.

    • aleah said:

      Seriously, that last collage happened because I didn’t know how the program worked… I used an online collage maker ( and it wasn’t at all clear what the different templates would do. I chose one at random and it stuck all my pictures into it like that!

      And come up anytime and we’ll dig through the piles in Solvang! …though it pales in comparison to Michael Levine Loft – I gotta come down and do that again too! I’ll let you know!

  17. Nhi said:

    Wow I’m amazed at all your beautiful garments. This is coming from some who thinks she’s a prolific sewer. Apparently not as amazing as you. Congrats on a closetful 2012. I must join you in Solvang. Fabric and kringles, who can resist.

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