2014 Retrospective: Sewing for Me


Before I put this collage together (thank you Rachel, for the Mosaic Maker recommendation — it saved me about a zillion hours!), I had it in my mind that I didn’t sew much for myself last year. And compared to 2013 which clocked in at 37 garments, I definitely sewed less at 36 garments for 2014, especially since I didn’t start sewing for myself until May in 2013.

So overall, my sewing output has been decreasing, but 36 items of clothing is still a pretty decent number, and what was significant about 2014 was that my first ever participation in Me-Made-May radically changed my attitude toward my handmade clothes. Up to that point, I was more of an abstract sewing enthusiast. You know, I loved the idea of creating custom clothing for myself and I was learning a ton, but there was still some niggling part of me resistant to actually wearing them. Everything I made looked great on K, but grown-up curves are trickier to navigate. I was a little embarrassed that my stitches weren’t perfect, that the fit was off. Even though I knew the clothes looked fine for the most part, I couldn’t help but feel like I had “HOMEMADE” stamped on my back when I sashayed about town in my me-made clothes. And not in a good way.

But after 31 straight days of pulling out my handcrafted apparel to clothe my body and spend the day in said apparel, I noticed that I became more and more fond of my less-than-perfect wardrobe. Make no mistake, certain items were undoubtedly fails and I quietly stashed them in the back of my closet once I determined they just didn’t work (though my recent tidying frenzy finally motivated me to say heartfelt thanks and I let them go). Maybe it was because I’d spent so much time on them, but the garments I made felt…familiar and friendly. That probably sounds weird, but even the clothes that didn’t look all that hot on me added a little pep to my day. And I have to say, I’ve never gotten so many compliments as that month in May — I’m certain it was because I learned to appreciate and felt happier in my friendly clothes. Through the Me-Made-May exercise, I discovered a love of dresses and my knits became hardcore wardrobe workhorses. Nowadays, it’s rare for me not to be wearing something handmade. The craziest part is that except for an extremely dire situation necessitating two t-shirts and a pair of capris, I still haven’t purchased any clothes for me or K. It’s been two-and-a-half years!!

How do I want to proceed for 2015? I really really want to focus on quality over quantity. I want to sew wardrobe staples made out of beautiful fabric that will last a long, long time. I want to take my time making things and savor the process rather than continue my default mode of whipping out easy projects for a quick fix (though those will happen too, I’m sure). What are your thoughts on sewing for this year?

Below is a list of the sewing posts in chronological order…that’s a lot of links! Oh, and on a side note, I’m over the moon that we already have more participants for the 2015 Secret Valentine Exchange compared to last year!! If you haven’t joined in the fun already, sign-ups end this Friday, January 9th!


Vogue 8511 Grey Dress
Simple Style Dress Khaki Linen
Yellow Silk Tunic








Simple Style Dress Blue Chambray

The Sumo Wrestler Top



Summer Concert Tee
Lady Skater Dress
The Easiest Top (aqua)



Really, More Grey?
Sew Chic Moss Green Linen Jacket



Simplicity 1463 Purple Batwing Top
Wiksten Tanks



Staple Dresses
Simplicity 0403 aka 2147 (A Very Japanese Top)
Burda 7659 Grey Dress
Nani Iro Mountain View Dress
Nani Iro Water Window Wiksten
Basic Black Top + Maxi Skirt



McCall’s 6751 Pinafore Tank
Coastal Breeze Dress
IKEA Blouse



Summer Salvation aka Tent Dress
Darling Ranges Dress
FrankenIkat Tank



Skippy in Abstract Indigo



Wool Zip-Up Vest
Julia Cardigans
Striped Renfrew + Hudson Pants



Grey Dotted Button Down
Simplicity 1538 Plaid Shirt



Bronte Top





26 thoughts on “2014 Retrospective: Sewing for Me

  1. I actually really like your recaps of the year, it gives a good sense of your style. I think you have also been accidentally brainwashing me with your beautiful neutral piece. A few similar items have made their way into my wardrobe this year and you know what? Getting dressed is so much easier now that my crazy prints and colours have something to match with lol!

    1. Thanks Kathryn! Viva neutrals!! I realized early on that it was the most boring clothes that I seemed to be reaching for the most, so I bit the bullet and started making clothes that I knew I would actually wear. Sometimes, though, I want to experiment outside of my comfort zone, so I think I’ll explore more of that this year. 🙂

  2. Lovely mosaic! You have certainly done a lot of sewing this year. I am glad that May helped you to wear your creations with pride!

    I have no sewing plans for this year. I mean I have nothing organized or specific. No course to follow. I am going to make a dress this week, as my younger daughter was invited to a birthday party and we need to bring a present. I will make two dresses, because this will be a good way to minimize leftovers, and because Stella says I never make her dresses. Untrue!

    I also started a quilt (or two) last summer that will get finished this year. It is one quilt, but I am considering cutting it in half to get two twin quilts to avoid squabbles, you know? They are Nani Iro double gauze and my first patchwork quilts! Just all triangles, basic design, very not basic fabric. I don’t have much in terms of a stash, so I figured I should just buy what I want to make one quilt. Hence the cut in half idea too, as I don’t think I will make more than one in the next year or so, or ever.

    1. Sewing planning doesn’t have to be organized or specific at all, Max! Sounds like you have some general ideas and I find that those general ideas become a springboard for other ideas. One of these days, I’m going to try my hand at quilting…I’ve been known to botch up a quilt or two since accuracy isn’t my strong suit, but I love the idea of having beautiful handmade quilts on our beds.

  3. beautiful year-end roundup, Sanae. The stats of 36 garments and 2.5 yrs of not buying RTW clothing amaze me! You must never have an idle moment on your hands with that kind of productivity:) And I know that besides sewing there’s a lot more writing, photographing, painting, etc that goes on – you are a wonder woman!
    As I scrolled through your roundup, my eye kept going to the grey dresses that you made. Love the Vogue one, made about a year ago, and while maybe not grey, the Coastal Breeze one also caught my eye. They look super stylish and comfy at the same time, which we all know is a win-win:) Also love how hip you look in that wool zip-up vest!
    And it’s so great to read how you have journeyed through your inhibitions of wearing me-made clothing to the point where you prefer them on a daily basis. That alone is a pretty cool accomplishment for 2014:) Just as we all say there’s probably no other kid as stylish as K, I’m pretty sure all K’s friend’s moms are saying the same thing about you!

    1. I’m pretty amazed myself that I haven’t bought any RTW in so long…in fact, I was downright annoyed that I had to purchase those tees and pants! 😉 As for idle moments — you’d be surprised at how much time I DO waste just idling about. Whenever I’m “working on my book”, it just looks like I’m staring off into space! 🙂

      Ah, I don’t know about being stylish, but I definitely love my handmade clothes. There’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I made something so utilitarian from scratch, you know? Thank you, Lucinda!

  4. Wow – I love your round up. You made so many lovely pieces that suit you well. I made relatively few things for myself – I have a stack of cut-out pieces that I am determined to sew up though once I tackle my daughters’ needs for pyjamas and trousers… you know how it goes…! x Happy New Year!

    1. I totally know how it goes, Clare! I tend to put K’s clothing needs ahead of mine even though her wardrobe is overflowing and I’ve pretty much emptied out my dresser and closet after my recent enthusiastic “tidying”. Happy, Happy New Year!!

  5. 36 items! Impressive. Obviously not as impressive as 37 items, but you know… ha. I had that same revelation. I didn’t really do Me Made May, but when I heard about it a few years ago, it really made me think about what and how I want to sew. I was just sewing to learn and sewing along with random online events, but once I started sewing for myself with a purpose of a wardrobe, it changed a lot. Mainly, it drastically decreased my blogging. Heh. Can’t wait to see what you sew this year!

    1. Ha! 37 is WAY more impressive than 36, we all know that Monica ;-). I hear you on the slow-down on the blogging. When I examine what I truly love to wear (comfy knits), it’s really not very blog-worthy, but I also want to amp up my skillz, so we shall see!

  6. love seeing this roundup! you make such a nice variety of garments, and it’s super cool to hear you wear them so often too. i think i had a similar revelation in 2014…i used to be really self-conscious when I wore handmade, and now i barely think about it! i actually PREFER my handmades a lot of the time! i so look forward to what you make in 2015, you’re a huge inspiration!

    1. So true about preferring handmade clothes, Kristin! My handmades are increasingly better-constructed than RTW and is made with fabric that I absolutely adore so it’s hard to beat that. I love everything you make!! I tried to leave a comment about your awesome hand-painted sidekick, but WordPress kicked me out for some reason. Sigh…I’m constantly having technical issues.

  7. Beautiful clothes, and they look so good together. Nice to see the McCalls tank again – you inspired me to make my own – in grey, of course! I’m aiming to make fewer, better quality clothes as well this year.

  8. I love the clothes you’ve made in 2014. It suits you and your figure and I really like that you sew for the actual life you live. It’s so easy just to sew pretty dresses, that rarely get any wear. You are an inspiration!
    – I actually made the coastal breeze dress after seeing your beautiful version:)

    Looking forward to see your makes in 2015.

    1. Thank you so much, Mette! My coastal breeze dress gets a ton of wear, though I think the Skippy is my favorite (in fact, I’m wearing it as I type this!). I do try really hard to be practical about what I sew, but I also want to have fun with it too, you know? I hope I find a good middle ground for that going forward 🙂

  9. You know, I finally figured out why I love your hand-made wardrobe so much. Firstly, you never compromise on your personal style: you seem to know what shapes / palettes / styles are you and you flog them! Love it. Second, it’s that pretty much your whole collection of hand-made clothes for the year could be a catalogue for one of those trendy Japanese sewing books that we all love so much. Looking forward to the next bout of me-mades in 2015! x

    1. Ah, kind words Sophie! Straight from the woman who hits it out of the park with her signature style time and time again 🙂 I did sew a lot from Japanese pattern books this year, and I’m definitely naturally drawn to that aesthetic. I’m excited to see what pops out of my sewing machine this year 🙂

    1. Thank you, Liz! I always feel like I’m trying something new, but when collectively gathered like this, I obviously lean toward a very particular look. Not a bad thing, but would also love to stretch myself more!

  10. Positively amazing! I’m pinning this so I remember to look at it over and over again for inspiration. You are so super talented at taking simple but stunning fabric and turning it in elegant, wearable clothes. I love it so much! Also, I couldn’t agree more about Me Made May. My experience was so similar. I was always afraid to wear my handmade items and now I do almost every day! It’s a lovely confidence builder. Last year I made lots of handmade clothes but I am in love with only a few. My goal this year is to better define my style and make clothes I love! Quality over quantity. 🙂 Wow, this got long! Ha!

    1. Thanks so much, Melissa! Me-Made-May just rocked and really helped me get over the weird stigma I attached to my handmade clothes. Quality over quantity for sure!

  11. There’s so much here to love. I am one hundred percent on board with your colours. You inspired me to start making things for myself and now I find I’m wearing something I made pretty much every single day. And so now I’m in the same place too of needing to only make things that I will continue to really love, not just for the sake of making them. Looking forward to seeing how you work that and following in your footsteps

    1. Sewing can be so unpredictable, don’t you think? Some of the things that I loved initially (like the Weekend Getaway Dress), I didn’t actually wear, and some (like my Skippy dress) that I thought I wouldn’t wear so much is in constant rotation. It’s what makes sewing interesting to me though!

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