Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Sewing Retrospective

I don't keep good track of what I sew, but in spite that, I'm pretty sure that this has been by far my most productive year ever, sewing-wise.  There are a lot of possible reasons for this - my work was very part-time in the fall, so I had more free time than usual; my study and my sewing room are the same room, where in my old place they were two separate rooms and out-of-sight-out-of-mind often kept me from working on projects; I got a coverstitch machine, thus making knits more enjoyable to sew (in theory - more on this below); and probably most relevant of all, I think I've finally achieved a level of skill where I have a success to failure ratio that isn't too miserable.  I still get discouraged by failures, but I have enough successes that my motivation doesn't usually vanish for too long.

I did abandon thing-a-week after not too long, but with good reason - I spent a few weeks making many iterations of the Cashmerette Concord tee to get a good fit on the armholes in a heavier knit with a much firmer stretch.  These things didn't count towards my thing-a-week goals, since they were not finished nor meant to be, but I was sewing actively, and that's what the goal was really about.  And I did, in time, get a fit I'm very happy with.

The 14 G/H was perfect in lightweight summer fabrics, but too snug in the back and sleeves when I used a heavier cotton lycra with very firm stretch:

The 16 G/H was too big, and I got weird vertical folds in front of the arm holes (most obvious from the side view, but they're there all the time):

A 14 G/H with a bit added to the waist, and armholes raised about 1", is great:

(I could maybe use a bit of  swayback adjustment, but I am entirely unconcerned about that; I don't see myself trying to fix that.)

My next project planned is a Concord with the Sewaholic Renfrew cowlneck on it.  I've long admired the Renfrew's cowlneck, but as I am decidedly not-pear-shaped, I've never attempted it.

The biggest step my sewing took this year was the addition of a coverstitch machine.  I mostly wear knits, so I should mostly sew knits, but I've never been really happy with the hems I get on a traditional machine.  I could never conquer tunneling with a twin needle, and the narrow zig-zag gets the job done, but I wanted a more professional look.  So in the spring, I got myself a Janome 900CPX.

And although I loved the ability to coverstitch, the machine itself drove me batty.  So very temperamental.  I'm sure that a large part of this is user error, as some people seem to manage just fine with the 900, but it had turned hemming knits into something I dreaded more, not less.

So just two weeks ago, I got myself a lavish birthday/Christmas gift, and got a Babylock BLCS-2.  I haven't had it for long, but even so, it's worlds of difference.  The very first test run I sewed on it was a bit iffy, but everything since has been so easy and great looking.  I am madly in love, and consider it well worth it, even though it was plenty expensive.

My sewing goals for 2017 are pretty much in line with my goals in late 2016: keep sewing actively, make things I (or intended recipient) will actually wear.  It would probably be good to plan some skill-building projects - make myself something other than a skirt out of a woven, probably - but we'll get there.  I'm tentatively going to attempt a modified thing-a-week for 2017 - a goal of making fifty-two things over the course of the year.  (Not necessarily one a week, to allow for some projects being faster and some slower, plus busy times, etc.)

I'm going to try to keep better track of my sewing, too - what I spend (I know it's "far too much" but getting specific would be wise), what I use, what I make.  It's a good time to start keeping track.