My sewing year of 2020 – highlights and lessons

For the last post of 2020 I decided to write about the ups and downs of my exciting journey of sewing that only started in spring of 2020. Admittedly, there are not that many pleasant highlights that the year of 2020 is leaving us with – it’s been so much about lock-downs, quarantines, restrictions, anxiety and change of life, that every nice memory has to be cherished! And what the quarantine has brought to me was a new hobby and loads of fun with sewing and later – also with blogging. So, I guess, it was still a decent year, after all!

Oh, it is so difficult to choose my favorite makes – each and every project was dear and somehow important. Either I enjoyed the project, or I learnt from my mistakes. In total this year I made 23 garments – dresses mostly, and there was also a coat, few jumpsuits and a handful of tops. I have written blog posts on majority of my projects, however I left out more simple garments and that is why, for the sake of documenting my journey and appreciating each and every project of this year, I will add pictures of the ones that had been left out from the blog at the end of this post.

Now, I absolutely have to choose my favorites, so without further ado, my TOP 3 of 2020 are the following:

I sat back and thought for a moment as to why I have ended up choosing these early, relatively simple and not too exquisite makes for my top list. I worked on many more complex, more neat, more enlightening projects in autumn and in winter. Why could the coat not appear on my TOP 3 list? Well, I guess, the precondition to get on the list is that the project should have been pleasant to work on, while the coat was so excruciating, that I probably still need to take time to recover.

Now, as the best projects have been announced, I have to confess of few defeats as well. At the very beginning of my sewing journey I made a promise to myself to think sustainably, to not waste resources and to always finish the projects, regardless of how difficult or unpleasant they might become. At first I did follow this rule, and one soon-to-become disaster I actually ended up finishing. However, I have never worn that dress, nor am I going to wear it in the foreseeable future. It was only the third or fourth project of mine, and I was only learning back then. However, this particular learning came across as a really painful one.

There were so many things going wrong with this project, that it is even difficult to choose where to start! First of all, the fabric choice was wrong – at that time I had tried to not spend much on fabrics, trying to minimize the loss if I ruined them. But in this case it admittedly turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and my overcautious approach came back to bite me. For this seemingly nice dress pattern I chose sturdy polyester fabric that was fraying like hell, was cold and extremely unpleasant. Then I proceeded on to cutting one piece of the sleeve cross-grain. Noticed only when the sleeves were set in and done, and then of course could not un-see it as it was a clearly visible defect.

What was even worse, the pattern from Burda 2014 magazine was badly too wide for me, and I spent hours on end in trying to make this pattern work. Well, with little experience that I had back then, I simply could not manage. To top it all, as it became clear upon the completion of the dress, metallic thread in the fabric was actually scratching the skin with every move. In trying to tackle this unexpected problem I learnt how to finish seams using bias tape. However, this finish made seams even heavier than they already were, and I disliked the fabric even more. I managed to finish the dress, but it ended up being my biggest and rather painful defeat of 2020.

Few other defeats are still sort of unfinished – they are resting on the shelf waiting for better times, which may not come for them unfortunately. One of them is quite simple straight line blazer, for which I chose terribly yellow fabric, which I fail to understand how I had bought. Upon the first glance at the started project, my husband said – it looks like a yellow protective vest. And then I saw it! My blazer in the making indeed looked akin to a yellow protective vest, and now I simply cannot un-see that. So I’m afraid this may be the end for this project. It’s a pity though – I really liked the lining in yellow and orange stripes, and it is already cut unfortunately. What is good about this fail is that the main yellow fabric was rather cheap 🙂 On the other hand, had it not been cheap, maybe it would have been a successful project! 🙂

One more started and unfinished project is a pajama set which is badly too large for me and I am afraid I will not be able to make myself work for hours to make pajama fit me well.

All in all, this is probably not too bad – for 23 successful projects I have 3 disasters, which is a rather decent score for the year, I reckon. What are your defeats in sewing? Are you able to easily let go of unsuccessful projects?

Now, I would also like to give some credit to my first make ever, which is this proper top that I made from pure medium weight silk by Etro! What was I thinking when choosing silk fabric for my first project ever, is beyond my comprehension. I just remember, that it was impossible to cut the pattern pieces properly. Back then I owned only one pair of scissors which were also used for paper, and it was so unexpected to find my scissors being so blunt! Later I bought another pair of scissors – for the fabric! But hey, this top, which I made using Burda 2020/02 pattern #115 (which by the way was meant for knit fabric, but what did I know back then!), turned out quite well, I wore it multiple times.

To end this post of my sewing journey in 2020, I would like to add a gallery of my smaller projects of this year which kind of have not deserved separate blog posts. All of the below were successful projects, and I wore all of the garments extensively back in summer.

  • Top in pink with butterflies – M7542
  • Shorts – M8099
  • Top in green/yellow – M7899
  • Top in pink/blue checks – Burda 2011/06 #124
  • Top with straps made of the leftover fabric after the previous top – Burda Best of 2020 #101
  • Orange asymmetric jersey top – Burda 2020/04 #121

The first title that I gave to this post was ‘Highlights and defeats’. But then I figured that in fact each mistake, each fail was also a valuable lesson which enabled me to excel even faster. That is why I decided to change the title of this post to ‘Highlights and lessons’ – that is how it appears now when opened.

I learnt so much this year! From not knowing how to install the sleeve or the neck facing I went on to actually sew a fully lined coat! It has been a long and exciting journey which I am looking forward to extending into 2021!

Let’s all stay healthy and Happy upcoming New Year!

~Giedre~

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