Sunday, 3 January 2021

2020 review

Well, 2020 is over, and good riddance! Time to review the year's sewing - and there's been a lot of it.

Just in case anyone reading this sighs, and feels inadequate because they think they achieved very little, I should just make a couple of things clear. I'm retired, and I don't have children. For months at a time this year, apart from doing my parents' shopping and sorting out anything they needed, I have had no demands on my time and nothing to do but sew. Indeed, sewing for me is a major coping mechanism for stress, and this year it provided a very welcome alternative to endlessly following the news.

The major win of the year, and the one I'm really happy about, is the amount of sewing I did from stash fabrics. Every January for goodness knows how long I have promised on this blog to reduce my stash, and every December I have had to admit to failure. But this year, finally, I did make inroads.

27 whole metres removed - woohoo!

A big part of this was courtesy of the Vintage-Dress-A-Month-Along, for which I must give a huge thank you to Renae, Lizzie and Erica for running the group. I only managed 10 dresses, because my plans to make my December dress and finish my February one last month were blighted by The Lurgy. On the plus side, nine of these were made from stash fabrics (29.7m), and the other one from fabric which I acquired by accident at auction (5m).

Ten dresses, and not a centimetre of fabric bought!

Other stash projects were a summer dressing gown, my 1940s Autumn Roses hat (my favourite make of the year), face masks, and two sets of scrubs (14.2m). In other dressmaking news, I prolonged the life of a favourite dress by replacing its broken zip, and finished a UFO which had been on the pile since 2018!

UFO, scrubs, hatmaking, dressing gown and mending

Fabric purchases included material for five more sets of scrubs (seen above being pre-washed in the bath). There was some left over, due to cutting out in bulk and my obsession with frugal pattern placement. I have earmarked it for toiles, and updated the Stashometer accordingly, as I know for sure that I'll never want to make anything out of blue polycotton. At the time I was very conflicted about making scrubs (I'm grateful to Sewcialists website for the discovery that I wasn't alone in this) but it was probably the only time in my life (at least, I hope so) that being able to sew was been of such importance and overall, I was grateful to be able to contribute.

Historical sewing was my major failure of the year. I had a study visit to the Fashion Museum scheduled for March, and when this was cancelled I rather lost interest in the 1874 project - a poor excuse, I know. I do still want to do it next year, but not sure if I will attempt to do the Historical Sew Monthly challenges. Every challenge I did complete this year was underwear related, which makes sense as I'm starting from scratch in historical costuming. I made a Victorian chemise, drawers and corset, redid the boning of my 1911 corset to make it more comfortable and reduce wear, and then altered the drawers to fit properly as they were a little short in the crotch. I didn’t blog about the alteration, but the centre top picture below shows where I added the extra length. In total I used 4.5m of fabric, of which 3.9m was from stash.

So much underwear

None of the fabric which I bought this year actually got used, but I know what I intend to make from each of the three, 4m lengths of cotton. I will list them separately on 2021 Stashometer, as an incentive to use them. A last-minute dash to my local fabric shop for supplies before Cheshire went into Tier 4 resulted in a semi-impulse purchase of 4.5m remnant of black cotton velvet (which proved impossible to photograph). I know what I want to use it for - it's a project I've long wanted to attempt - but I'm not sure if my skills are up to it. There's only one way to find out!

Dress cottons bought but not used in 2020

All of this sewing used up a lot of thread.

Out of curiousity, I kept all of my empty cotton reels for the year: in total there were 14 G├╝termann, one Drima, and one spool of basting thread. In addition, I used a lot of black, white and off-white thread, but I buy these on the largest spools I can get, so none were used up completely. Rigid plastics cannot be recycled where I live, so these will end up in landfill, which bothers me. I have reused one G├╝termann spool to store a skein of gold thread, but there is a limit to how many things I need to store on spools. I do wish that wooden reels would make a comeback!

My 2020 empty spools collection

Looking forward to 2021, I want to continue trying to use stashed fabric where possible, although I know that once fabric shops can open again, purchases will almost certainly be made. I will probably create my own "UseNine" grid for the year, including my four acquisitions from last year, of course, and try to improve on last year's five used. The Dress-A-Month-Along as become the Sew a Vintage Style Dress Community, with quarterly challenges, and I'm very excited about the first one. More details coming soon.

Here's to a happier 2021 all round!

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