After a busy holiday period, I’m having trouble getting back into my usual sewing and knitting rythm. Maybe reviewing what I’ve done last year might help me get motivated for this new one, and get me back in front of the sewing machine? This year, I thought I’d join in the #SewingTop5 series hosted by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow. So here are my top 5 for 2018, in 5 categories: hits, misses, highlights, reflections, and goals. Get ready for a super lenghty blog post!
First things first, let’s talk numbers. In 2018, I’ve sewn:
– 9 projects for myself (4 of which had been started in 2017)
– 5 projects for others: a Nenuphar jacket, a Luzerne trench coat and a toiletries pouch for my sister, two Plantain tees for my mom
– 19 projects for Deer&Doe: final versions of new patterns, samples for the shop, tutorials for the blog… not including dozens of muslins!
On the 9 projects I made for myself, 6 were sewn from Deer&Doe patterns, which gives us a grand total of 29 Deer&Doe garments out of the 32 garments I’ve sewn this year! 😮
On the knitting side, I finished only one sweater (for myself) and one hat (for my sister-in-law). Most of the year was spend knitting a Boxy sweater to learn to knit with the continental method, but it is far from being done!
TOP 5 HITS
These projects are those that make me the most happy: the ones I’ve worn the most and that fit seamlessly into my wardrobe, or that I’m particularly proud of!
The garment I’ve worn the most this year is by far my Myosotis dress in chambray cotton sateen. It’s the one dress that I put on when I don’t feel like getting dressed in the morning: it’s super comfortable when it’s hot outside, and works just as well with leggings and a cardigan when it’s colder. In addition to the silhouette, I think a lot of its success is due to its color: this chambray blue makes my eyes pop and does wonders to my skin tone.
In second place of the most worn garments is my floral Givre dress. To be honest I wasn’t expecting to wear it that much, as my weight has been fluctuating a lot this year and I’m not always comfortable with skin-tight clothing such as this dress, but the fabric makes it completely irresistible! The double-brushed poly knit is just as soft after months of intensive wear that it was at the beginning, and it didn’t stretch or pile at all! I really need more clothes in this fabric.
Technically speaking I haven’t worn this skirt that much yet, since I finished it at the end of the year… but I love it so much! Sometimes with a project you have a clear idea in mind, and the result is exactly like you imagined it, maybe even better. That’s the case here: I love the shape of the Rosari skirt, the deep color of this velvet – a forest green that brings joy to my winter wardrobe, the copper buttons… I’m also very happy with the adjustments I made for my full butt and swayback, that I intend to put to good use with other Rosari skirts!
My only big knitting project of the year was a tremendous success! I loved knitting this sweater, which was my very first with stranded colorwork, and I’m wearing it all the time. Drops Alpaca is extremely soft, and Isabell Kraemer’s patterns are as fun to follow that they are pleasant to wear.
5 – Burnout Velvet Magnolia Dress
This top 5 wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my Magnolia dress in burnout velvet! I’m really proud of this dress, which required tons of handsewing on slippery velvet, and fits me like a glove. I think evening dresses such as this one are my favorite type of projects to sew, with their couture details and luxurious fabrics.
TOP 5 MISSES
You learn from your mistakes, and let’s just say I always have plenty of opportunities to learn! Bad fabric choice, dodgy patterns, questionable style and miscellaneous blunders led to projects that didn’t really meet my expectations…
Bodysuits require 4-way stretch, and clearly my velvet didn’t have enough vertical stretch. I tried saving it by chopping off the bottom to turn it into a tee, but the result is still too tight and not exactly comfortable, especially in this non-breathable polyester. I’ll need to try again in a better fabric, because I do like the idea!
2 – Chiara Dress
This dress was a complete disaster: the fabric was too thin and gathered with every seam, the construction methods and instructions were kinda bad, and a failed attempt at a full lining did me in. I left it unfinished for more than a year before forcing myself to put in the zipper, all of this to get such a terrible fit in the end that I didn’t even bother hemming it.
3 – Gingham Myosotis Dress
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this dress: I like the combination of gingham and gathers, and I think it’s very cute and springy. So how come I’ve worn it only once since I’ve finished it? I think it might be because I made it right before summer started, and the fabric is polyester which means it’s not the most pleasant to wear in very hot weather. Hopefully it can redeem itself in the spring.
4 – Myrna Cardigan
The Myrna cardigan will forever mark the moment when I fell out of love with Andi Satterlund’s patterns. A few years ago I swore by her cropped sweaters and cardigans, to be worn over high-waisted skirts, but after trying out other designers’ models I realized I really don’t like the construction and fit of her patterns, the sleeves in particular. With Myrna’s sleeves, I felt like Snow White, and I hated the look so much that I didn’t even bother blocking it. I frogged the whole thing to start a Daelynn sweater instead, which corresponds much better to what I want to wear at the moment.
I was already telling you in the blog post about this dress that I was feeling “meh” about it, and that’s still the case. It’s not bad, but not great. Let’s just say it doesn’t really “spark joy” to my inner Marie Kondo.
TOP 5 HIGHLIGHTS
What happend in my life in 2018 outside of sewing and knitting? With my constant back and forth between France and the US I tend to lose track of time and forget all about the special moments of the year, even though so much happened…
1 – Turning 30
January 2018 was my 30th birthday, and that was a very powerful milestone for me. The main reason being (and that’s a bit dark, sorry) that I’ve been struggling with daily suicidal ideation since I was a teenager, and I was convinced for a really long time that I would never make it to 30. WELL LOOK AT ME NOW! Take that, depression! The other reason is that I see my thirties as a much more positive and strong decade than my twenties: I know who I am, what I want, and I don’t have to answer to anybody but myself.
2 – Moving back to the South
2018 was also the year we moved back to North Carolina after two years in Boston! Moving to Boston wasn’t so much of a choice as something that happened to us, and though I had some good moments there, I really hated the weather. The cold, the rain, snow and ice half of the year, the dry air which gave me eye blisters… I was sick all the time and barely got out of the house. Now that we’re back in the warmth and humidity of the South I feel right at home, with my favorite lake nearby and the smell of honeysuckle in the air ❤️
3 – Working around people again
In the same vein, one of the harder things to deal with for me in 2017 was working from home: being all by myself for days and days is not something I handle very well. And with Eléonore’s baby, there was no way we could keep working from her apartment when I was in France! So we moved to a dedicated studio, in a collaborative space filled with artists and creative people from all backgrounds, and I also found a co-working space where I can work part-time when I’m in the US. This makes a huge difference on my mental health!
4 – Travelling
Ever since I joined Deer&Doe as a partner, I haven’t taken a real vacation, except for a few days at Christmas, and I have to say I miss travelling. But in 2018 I got more than my share of weekend getaways! I visited castles in Germany and wandered in the streets of Montpellier, I went to NYC and Las Vegas, partied in Bordeaux and hiked in the Appalachians and the French Alps… Quite a few magical moments that broke down the routine nicely.
5 – Embracing the curly girl method
This one might seem a little frivolous, but it’s a game-changer for my hair! After researching extensively the curly girl method, I completely stopped using sulfates and silicones and stopped dry blowing my hair to let it curl naturally. I’m still experimenting and I still have a lot to learn, but it’s already crazy how much my hair has changed: it’s shinier, less brittle, and just in better health overall!
TOP 5 REFLECTIONS
Time to analyze! Thinking back about last year, the projects I’ve finished and the ones I didn’t, several things come to mind…
1 – I need to learn how to prioritize my personal sewing time
In general I have a hard time finding, or actually taking the time to sew something else than Deer&Doe patterns, and an even harder time not feeling guilty about it. After all, if I’m going to sew, I might as well make it count, right? So last year, from May to October, I only sewed for work, and I didn’t even touch my knitting needles. I was overwhelmed and there was always something that I “needed” to do that would bypass something I “wanted” to do. I only realized how much I had missed my hobby at the end of the year, when I finally took some time over a weekend to make my Rosari skirt, and I suddenly felt like myself again. If I want to avoid a burn-out, I really need to force myself to take some time for my hobbies that doesn’t do double duty.
2 – I learned so many skills thanks to online classes
2018 was definitely the year of new skills! Thanks to Lise Tailor’s videos (FR), I finally learned to master the continental method of knitting, and my knitting speed greatly improved. I followed a class on Artesane (FR) to learn how to dye yarn, and subscribed to Bluprint, the unlimited service from Craftsy that is a true goldmine. I highly recommend the subscription: classes are super high quality, and go in depth into a wide breath of topics. Thanks to them I learned all about tailoring coats (and made my first ones in the process!), and also learned how to make some delicious cheddar bread 😉
3 – I’d like to set aside more time for blogging
To be fair, I’ve never been a very productive blogger. This past year, I wrote a grand total of 14 posts, exactly as many as in 2017. And even though every year I feel like I posted way less than the previous one (and I feel super guilty because of it), the truth is I’m always around the same output:
But I’d like to post more! First, because I like to have an archive of my projects that I can refer to when I want to sew a pattern again. Second, because I’d like to share more with the sewing and knitting communities, and that the blog post format allows me to get more in depth with my remarks and criticism that I would do on Instagram. Finally, because blogging is a creative endeavor by itself: picking an outfit, a location, taking the pictures, editing colors and light, writing the text and seeing the final result take shape, each part of this process is interesting and gratifying. At this time, I still have 10 projects in my closet waiting to make it to the blog, including 7 that haven’t been photographed yet (and that I am afraid of wearing until they are), but these are summer clothes and I can’t really take pictures of them at the moment with these temperatures… That’s really the most blocking point for me, the pictures I mean: I have trouble taking pictures on my own with a tripod, it takes me hours, and I have even more trouble synchronizing with Phil so that he can help me take pictures on the weekends, and when the weather is finally cooperating then suddenly my hair isn’t… This and translating each and every one of my posts from French to English or vice versa, which doubles the writing time per post.
I think I’d need to lower my expectations quality-wise, or I won’t get anywhere. Without giving myself a concrete goal of a certain number of posts for 2019, what I’d like is to reestablish my old Sunday morning ritual: every weekend, Phil and I would drive to our favorite coffee shop for our “coworking” session, and I would write my weekly blog post while sipping hot chocolate while he works on his own things. I think it’d help me frame the act of blogging as a hobby in itself rather than a chore.
4 – I love Instagram, even though sometimes it can be taxing
Though I was never very active on the blog, there were times in 2018 were I was very active on Instagram, particularly for #memademay and #bpsewvember. It can seem a bit shallow, but these daily mini-challenges help me a lot with handling my depression when I have trouble finding motivation to do anything. There were also times when I disappeared from social media for months at a time, because it was too much to deal with, which also made me feel a little guilty. I think I’ll try to continue participating without overthinking it this year: interact with the community when I feel like it, and retreat into my shell to recover when I need it. What’s for sure is that I’m going to be there for Me Made May!
View this post on Instagram
5 – I did make a sizeable dent in my fabric stash
This was one of my main goals last year: shop my stash instead of buying new fabric. The aim was not so much decluttering as it was to use these pieces of fabric that I love and that I’m afraid to cut into. In the end I didn’t use as much of these specific fabrics as I had planned to, mostly because I didn’t sew for myself that much. However my stash definitely went down, because I pushed myself to use both leftovers and fabrics I fell out of love with to make wearable muslins for patterns. I hope to keep going in that direction in 2019, so that I can save both space and money!
TOP 5 GOALS FOR 2019
This last part will be more about what I’d like to do rather that what I commit to doing, because I’d like to avoid putting extra pressure on myself, and make sure that I keep looking at sewing and knitting as hobbies. Here’s what I have in mind:
1 – Sew for fun
This year, I want to sew for myself, with no planning or deadlines, simply sew projects that make me happy. I want to find the joy of these first years of sewing, when I would just start a project when I found a random pattern I liked, and I want to be able to take a whole afternoon to sew a garment without thinking about bulk-cutting three others to optimize my sewing time.
2 – Discover new techniques
In the same vein, I want to create for the process itself, without it always being about the end result. To me, this means experimenting with new sewing techniques, and knitting techniques as well. For sewing, I want to try a button fly, activewear, even sequins. For knitting, I am really into the idea of an intarsia sweater. And maybe I’ll even get into quilting, who knows?
3 – Try other pattern brands
Still with this idea of discovery, I’d like to get out of my comfort zone and sew something else than Deer&Doe patterns. Yes, of course, instructions won’t be exactly how I like them, and I won’t be able to apply my usual adjustments with my eyes closed, but it will give me the opportunity to discover new styles and construction methods. Among brands I’ve never tried and I’m drawn to: Style Arc with the Ariana and Giselle dresses, Orageuse with the Rome shirt, République du Chiffon with the Nadine shirt, or even Anna Allen and her famous Persephone pants.
4 – Enjoy my fabric stash
Some of my favorite fabrics have been in my stash for over six years, and I’m still crazy about them. However I have a lot of trouble letting go of the projects I had in mind when I bought each one, which I’m not that crazy about anymore. I’d like to allow myself to change my mind, and imagine new uses for these fabrics without staying fixated on the patterns I bought them for.
5 – Interact with the sewing/knitting community
Without setting any quantitative goals, I’d like to make efforts to participate more to the sewing/knitting online community, whether that is via this blog or via social media. During my depressive episodes I have a really hard time answering messages and comments, and interacting with people in general, and that’s a real shame. I want to do better. I’m also going to try documenting my projects as I go rather than waiting a year or more to take pictures of them, just so I can remember what went right and what went wrong, and so my notes can be helpful to others.
And this concludes my Top 5 for 2018! Pfew that was long, I guess I had a lot to say 😅
Have you posted your own Top 5, or a 2018 review? If so don’t hesitate to leave me the link in the comments, I love these posts!
Thanks for sharing! I’m sorry to hear about that you haven’t been well.
I am not-so-secretly glad to hear that there are other people in the world who fell out of love with Andi Satterlund’s patterns. I had an extremely frustrating experience trying to make a Salal sweater over the summer and it was so frustrating to have read one glowing, squee-ing review after another. It really made me doubt myself, instead of just being able to go, nope, it’s the pattern, not me. Best wishes for 2019!
I’m glad it made you feel less alone! It’s a shame because the Salal sweater is really pretty. It reminds me a lot of the Audrey in Unst cardigan, which might have a nicer fit/construction! (I’ve never tried Gudrun Johnston’s patterns though so I don’t know)
Thank you for this post! Usually I am not very interactive and a quite reader, but this time I just have to say, that a lot of what you have written, reminded me of myself. (only the Boston thing I disagree, we lived there for 2 years and I loved it :-)). Yes, sewing and knitting can save you. If I feel bad it is always good to hold knitting needles or a crochet hook, it helps not to sink deeper. I also miss sewing for myself without pressure. I have so many projects in line and so much fabric in my stash, that’s enough to feel overwhelmed. I hope i can sort things out like you did, knowing what we want is a big part of it. Have a great 2019!
Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I wish you a very joyful and healthy year, filled with no-pressure fun projects 🙂
Wow, Camille. Long and deep. I am so pleased for you that you are no longer in Boston, it must have been awful for you there, and probably didn’t help with your mental health at all. I have to say here that I really admire and respect the way you have spoken and still speak about your struggles with depression. The world of social media can be so superficial and contrived – everything’s shiny perfect beautiful!!! – and honesty and genuineness do not abound. So honesty shines out even more among all the fake glitter.(By the way, I found CBD extract helps with my bouts of dealing with black dogs – which, I have to tell you, have improved as I got older, some things do… I also like the original version :)…
That Chiara dress – omg what a nightmare. I have a few of Lemonade’s patterns, but find them completely cockeyed and stopped buying them after one make. I made the Falbala and found the cut and fit soooo strange. Instructions also.
I went off Andi S’s patterns after making can’t remember which sweater and at the same time a linen top for summer. Sleeves don’t work for me, and the side shaping is so extreme and kind of amateur. Also the instructions are way too long. Plus I’m really over all the tight, fitted, shaped things and want mostly loose, boxy and comfortable:). I made an Audrey in Unst cardi, the shaping is much more professional, and it’s very nicely done. Sleeves also. Although I have to say that much though I love the ease of knitting, i don’t find that picked up and short rowed “set-in” sleeves work as well in sleeve cap shaping and fit as do old school knitted flat sleeve caps. In fact one pattern that’s on my to do list has a body in the round as well as sleeves in the round but with a flat knitted sleeve cap that is then sewn in – and it looks so much better…. having said that, right now I am also into drop shoulders. For knitting and sewing sweaters. I love my LB polo and Tabor V neck.
One thing I’ll tell you – use the fabrics! Because just like your taste in styles and fit has changed, one day, horror of horrors, you will find that your fabric taste has changed, and that’s awful. Happened to me…. or that a colour you love actually makes you feel anything but good. And you have loads of it in your stash. Happened to me…. I’ve knitted more than one top in a dirty pink I adore in wool and linen, and have beautiful fine wool for a blouse, plus more fabric, and more yarn. I suddenly realised a few months ago that the reason I put on these things and discard them is because with my skin and fair hair I feel bland and colourless. And I look at myself and see this beigey blob. Put on a red or navy top – or cream, or striped – and I feel vibrant. It’s the same with prints, things I bought in dress amounts I now have trouble visualising as tops on me, let alone dresses. So use them, seriously, just go for it. 30 is young – you have many many years to find more loved fabrics and use them :).
I love your hair like this! I’ve never been into blowdrying my hair – a) it’s exhausting b) it never really came good and c) I liked my natural waves. But a few years ago I read an interview with a top trichologist on Allure how bad silicones were – dimethicone and all the other cones – because they actually suck the moisture out of your hair, skin, you name it. She recommended using a couple of drops of jojoba oil mixed in your palm with a bit of water instead of serum. I chucked all my anti frizz stuff except for one product which miraculously had none of the plastic, and filled a serum bottle with water and a bit of the jojoba oil. Shake and pump and it works sooo well. Since then, my hair has really improved in health. Oh, and I only use sulphate free shampoo, and sometimes low shampoo. I particularly like one with coconut by Silk Naturals – they’re in the US, and my sis and I use it either as low shampoo or leave in conditioner.
ok. That was probably way too long. But please – don’t feel that you HAVE TO post more, reply more, anything more… just be your lovely self and don’t forget to make things just for fun and pop up on line when you feel like as otherwise you won’t enjoy it!
Francesca, your comments always make my day, you have no idea 🙂
I hope someday we get to meet face to face to share a cup of tea and talk about life! Sending all the love 🙂
Hi Camille, I loved this post. I, too, struggle with depression and also anxiety. What I noticed in your writing was the word “should”, which seemed to come up as something that makes you feel bad. Maybe you need to get rid of as many “should”s as possible and do what you want to do. Do what gives you joy, (to paraphrase Kondo).
I wish you much more joy in the future.
Aw man, this is exactly what my therapist points out to me every single week! Framing things less in terms of “should” and more in terms of “I’d like to” is definitely something I try to work on, and hopefully 2019 will bring more fun sewing and less guilt. I wish you a very joyful year as well!
Welcome back! To blogging, to the sewing and fiber communities, to the South! I’m so, so glad you’re here, and so happy that you celebrated 30 last year. Depression sucks; anxiety sucks; but you’re still here doing the best you can every day, and you’re finding joy. That’s amazing, and you deserve to feel proud of it. Here’s to a new year (and a new decade!) with more of the things that bring you joy. 😀
Thank you <3 I'm so glad to be back!