It’s that time of year – the last day of the year to be exact – when it’s time for reflection and assessment. I love assessments! I had so much fun looking back on my makes of 2019. My sewing has grown so much this year and I wanted to document the highlights and failures (including a dismal Make Nine). I’ve learned so much both in terms of techniques but also in terms of how sewing can best serve me.

Favorites of 2019

My hacked Lyric dress represents my growth in flexibility. I was hit with snag after snag, but managed to keep going and adapt. I ended up with a dress that looks nothing like the pattern illustration, but I love it so much!

In July, I tested the Pattern Scout Hana and it has become one of my favorite patterns. This dress is special because I (accidently) recreated a dress my mom had when I was young by pairing the boxy dress pattern with dark green linen with iridescent buttons.

This No.12 Aalborg dress by How to Do Fashion is my go-to dress when I want to feel a bit glam. It’s made from the silkiest viscose I’ve ever touched and it feels so luxurious. I feel instatly elevated when I put it on, yet it’s still casual enough for everyday wear.

Most Worn 2019

I a bit unsure about my Orchid dress when I made it last spring. The excess blousiness of the bodice seemed overwhelming. But when I hacked off the bodice and added a waistband, I got a skirt I wanted to wear every day! The lightweight, opaque viscose was perfect for breezing around in the hot summer.

I’ve already mentioned my Hana dress, but seriously, it’s just so good. Lately I’ve been layering it over my Megan Nielsen Rowan like a pinafore!

I love a wrap dress. I made six this year and my 1930’s Hooverette reproduction by Mrs. Depew is probably my favorite. I wore it once a week in those warmer months!

Biggest Disappointments 2019

I love both of these dresses so much, and that only makes the disapointment greater. They both fit great, they’re fun and easy to wear and comfortable…and both are threadbare. The viscose and viscose dobby these dresses are made from were some of the most expensive cuts in my fabric stash. A big lesson here was the cost doesn’t neccessarily equal quality. The dotty viscose has faded and worn through. The tropical Lady McElroy viscose dobby has so many snags it’s unwearable. I’ll be replacing both my 1930’s Hooverette Wrap and my ruffle-hacked Heidi dress come summer.

Sewing Fails 2019

I thought I would try refashioning an old knit circle skirt into a Tilly and the Buttons Coco top. A cropped top, specifically since there wasn’t a lot of fabric to work with. It was on my Make Nine (more about that below) and I really wanted to make it. It was going fine until it was time to hem. Here I learned the importance of the walking foot. My mystery boucle-ponte stretched and stretched and the end result was totally unwearable.

My other Tilly fail was this Francoise dress. The fit is terrible and my fabric choice was wrong. I used a thick stretch cotton that was too stiff to hold the darts. Aditionally it was too tight in the shoulders and awkwardly too loose aroung the back neck. The search for the perfect pinafore continues.

These are just my favorite failures of the year (ie the ones with the best photos). There were several more, believe me. I’ve kept some in hopes of altering refashioning, but others have gone straight into recycling. Next year I want to better document and share my failures as they happen.

Make Nine: A failed sewing challenge with a side of self-discovery

Top: Tilly and the Buttons Orla, Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse, McCall’s 7542
Middle: Sew Over It Mia, Megan Nielsen Rowan, Butterick 6385
Bottom: Sew Over It Alex, Vogue 9182, Tilly and the Buttons Coco

Speaking of failures, let’s chat Make Nine…insert sad trombone sound. While I own all nine of these patterns, I only attempted four. Worse even, only three were even a bit successful. I say a bit, because I’m still on the fence about the McCall’s top and I don’t reach for the Vogue dress. I do, however love my Rowan bodysuit. It’s a winter layering staple!

Here’s what I learned from my Make Nine: Arbiturary goals don’t work for me.

When I was making my Make Nine this time last year, I was looking through my pattern stash in hoping to cross off some big milestons – blouses, heans, a coat, a shirtdress. And sure, I’d still like to master these skills someday, but really I based my list on what I felt I should make. I revisted my Make Nine goals throughout the year and finally in August I realized it just wasn’t going to happen. I gave up on my arbitruary Make Nine and I’m so glad I did.

This year, sewing has taken on the purpose of steadying my mental health. I realized that what I need from sewing, at least in this season, is the sense of accomplishment from completed quick make and the comfort and pride of wearing something I’ve made. I took lots of risks at the beginning of the year and didn’t end of building my closet as much as I had hoped. By the end of the summer I realized how much wearing my memade clothes was positively impacting the way I felt about myself. I determined I’d shift my focus to smaller, more managable projects that I could more quickly add to my weekly rotation.

Overall, 2019 has been an unrelenting year that can be best categorized by struggle, loss and loneliness. But. I am so proud of how I’ve grown in my sewing and how it relates to my mental health. Plus, how cute are my two sewing assistants?

As we say goodbye to 2019, I’ll leave you with a few more beautiful photos. Happy 2020 sewing friends.