2016 was not a good year for celebrities or U.S. democracy. I’m not going to beat a dead horse about that one. The year 2016 was, however, a pretty productive year for me. I’ll get to my favorite sewing projects of the last year in a bit.
“I’m never sewing again!”
I’m not proud that I’ve uttered those words. I’m not a quitter. But to be fair, as far as hobbies go, sewing can be pretty frustrating. There are times when I just can’t grasp a pattern direction or tutorial. Other times I’m defeated by a tricky fabric or stick a pin through my finger (ouch). But then I force my impatient self to take a step back and look at the big picture. When I compare when I first started sewing to now, the difference is night and day. In fact, it took sifting through the archives of my old Tumblr to realize just how much my skills have evolved in the past 1.5 years. From learning the difference between a hand needle and a machine needle to discovering which weird-looking foot to use for knits, digging into this new hobby has been exciting—and infuriating. Here’s a look back at a few of my favorite projects—some good, some strange—from the first 1.5 years of my hopefully never-ending sewing journey.
The beer sleeve that started it all. This was made from a $1 fabric remnant from JoAnn. I think the prototype of this had an ugly, sickly little arm, and then I overcompensated and went too big with the sleeves on this guy. Thus, the beer dashiki was born. Magic Hat Brewing even retweeted my pic, which to this day is the height of my Twitter fame.
This top is simple, but it’s a significant piece since it marks the first time I made a wearable piece of clothing without a pattern. I have a handful of slouchy shirts that I practically live in, so I used some leftover sweater-knit fabric and pieced together this shirt. Sure, the neck’s a little wide and the armholes gape a bit, but it’s comfy and it drapes nicely. If only I would’ve realized that you need a different needle and machine foot to sew knits… I’ll just chock that one up to the learning process!
This was a big Halloween. For years, my talented mom had been making me pretty unbeatable sewing costumes. (I was the Titanic in second grade. Like, the actual ship.) But this time, I wanted to see if I could create something completely on my own, from concept to finished product. I’d been eating a lot of shrimp spring rolls that fall and figured it wouldn’t be too tricky to create a dress version of the cylindrical food. I sewed up a simple shift with some $2.99/yd. velour, then made orangey-pink shrimp pillows and hand-sewed them onto to dress. The vermicelli noodles are rope. Sadly this grainy picture doesn’t do justice to the felt cilantro and basil hiding under the tulle rice paper, but you get the gist.
Anyone who knows me knows about my unhealthy obsession with things that are comically undersized. Tiny hats, Barbie-sized Coke bottles, little armchairs, you name it. When I finished up sewing this simple clutch, I had a little bit of leftover fabric. Naturally, I decided to make a baby wallet that could fit inside the already modest-size clutch. I’ve been using the clutch as my primary wallet for months now, and I still haven’t gotten rid of its teensy counterpart. Where else am I supposed to keep my inspiring fortune cookie fortunes and lucky pennies?
Finally—I used the right equipment for a knit! It turns out that using the right tools—in this case ballpoint needles and a walking foot—can make all the difference. This dress is a Tracy Reese Vogue pattern that’s ruched on the sides and lined throughout the body. I used a stretchy mesh for the lining, and the outer fabric is an ugly-sweater knit from The Needle Shop. Whenever I sew a dress, I always extend the torso 2–3 inches, since roughly 80% of my 6 feet of height lies in my torso. That lengthening really helped with the overall fit and fall of the dress. It’s one of the more flattering items I’ve worn, and I’m really proud of it! The ruching is surprisingly forgiving—it even masked my bloat after my birthday dinner, during which I ate 10 pounds of sushi and drank my weight in sake. Nomnom.
So, there you have it. Not necessarily all the best, but definitely five of my favorite sewing projects thus far. Hopefully that gave you a little taste of things to come! (Halloween’s only seven months away, after all.)