When the world shut down in mid-March I freaked out, then I turned to sewing. I pushed through my existential dread and sewed about a hundred masks to donate to a local animal sanctuary that needed protection for employees who had to continue to show up in an unpredictable pandemic and take care of animals.
I got bit by the sewing bug and decided to use my extra free time at home to work on some fun projects for myself for the first time in years. My 2020 new years resolution had been to buy fewer things made in factories, and sewing my own clothes helped assuage my cravings for fast fashion.
Living alone this past year has been a blessing and a curse. More free time, but greater isolation. I wanted to share this somewhat self indulgent post to share a few of my favorite patterns and some sewing tips. Please don't read any judgement into it. It's totally okay if you spent your spare time in 2020 re-watching all your favorite tv shows (I did a lot of that too!)
I keep my patterns in a milk crate and keep used ones together in zip lock bags. I sewed my first garment when I was 10 (a denim vest, thank you very much) so I've been collecting patterns for quite a while. I also recently raided my mom's 80s pattern collection and found quite a few gems. In the past I've stuck mostly to the big companies (Vogue, Simplicity) because I'm used to their sizing and directions. But last year I delved into some indie brands, and I've found some real keepers!
I've already made the Wiksten Top twice, and would like to make another Yari Jumpsuit and Pietra Pants in different fabrics.
Wiksten Top and Pietra Pants in Frankie Pink Linen Gingham from Merchant & Mills. The Wiksten Top is so easy to make, it will quickly become a staple. I look forward to trying out the Wiksten Shift Dress pattern too! The Pietra Pants from Closet Core Patterns were a pain in the butt to make, but I really like the fit. I'd like to make another pair in a solid linen for a more everyday look. I made a muslin first to check the fit, which luckily didn't need any adjustments, but was helpful to figure out all the pockets and panels before working with the nice fabric. This is the first fabric I've ordered from Merchant & Mills. Their fabrics are so beautiful and the quality and customer service is worth the price tag.
Here I am in the Yari Jumpsuit from True Bias. This one was a lot of work but I never want to take it off. I have never done so much top stitching, but it is worth it for the finished product. I used black linen from Elizabeth Suzann's closing sale (heartbreaking!) Paired with The Explorer Hat.
Here are some details of a dress I made from Vogue Patterns (V9124). I love a tiered maxi dress, but I want to try it again with a different top. The fabrics are a mix of Rifle Paper Co and Kimberly Kight, who now designs for Ruby Star Society. I also made the espadrille shoes from a kit I had that's no longer made with some Heather Ross fabric I'd been holding onto for about a decade. A Happy Stitch offers similar espadrilles kits on etsy. You just need basic hand sewing and machine sewing skills to make your own.
My biggest garment sewing pointers are:
- Iron after every seam! It will make everything easier and look better if you iron as you go.
- Finish seams as you go. Much easier than waiting till the end. I usually just use pinking shears unless I want it to look extra nice. French seams for a fancy finish.
- Baste in zippers. If you want a zipper to sit flat, hand stitch it on first with big, loose stitches.
- Transfer all the pattern markings. Never try to guess where things line up.
- For lightweight interfacing, use SF101 from Pellon
- Have fun!
To see more of my sewing projects, as well as a few knitting, embroidery and quilting projects, check out my "Sewing" highlight on my personal instagram.