Sunday 5 January 2020

Sewing goals for 2020

I may not have managed to do much sewing in 2019, but I'm hoping to make up for it in 2020.

Warning: this is going to be a long post, as I've got lots of goals to write about.

Possibly the most important one (certainly the one with an immovable completion date) is making an outfit for my graduation in March. After all, having spent three years studying and writing about vintage home dressmaking, I can't really turn up to the ceremony in something modern and shop-bought! Of course it needs to be made from a vintage pattern, and something fancier than my usual cotton print dresses.

I've chosen this 1954 Patou Vogue Paris Original pattern, which is from a large lot of patterns which I bought at auction some years ago. I never got around to blogging about the collection as a whole, but it really boosted my interest in vintage patterns.

Goal number one - Vogue 1277

This was the reason for the 9.5 metre addition to the stash on last month's London trip. Cate, who blogs as Vintage Gal, makes wonderful 1930s clothes, and does amazing tailoring, had told me about Crescent Trading near Spitalfields, so I paid them a visit. It is fabric-lover's dream shop, stacked to the rafters with wools, silks, and all sorts of other goodies besides. After a lot of deliberation I bought some beautiful superfine merino suiting in blue with a slight black speckle, which gives it depth. I also bought some fine silk twill for the lining. The jacket collar can be made from fur, which was not going to happen, or velvet. Philip Pittack at Crescent Trading told me that they didn't carry much velvet, but it turned out that what he meant was not much by their standards, so only a dozen or so colours. Happily this included a dark blue which was perfect. Then at Barnett Lawson I found some braid and velvet buttons which were an exact match. They only had six left and weren't getting any more in, but luckily six was what I needed.

Clockwise from left: suiting, buttons, velvet, silk lining

It's a very long time since I've done any tailoring, so this will be a chance to really bump up my skills.

The dress will double-up as my February entry to my second goal for 2020, taking part in the vintage dress-a-month-along organised by Renae Brock Fitzgibbon and Lizzie Violet.

Goal number two

As soon as I heard about this challenge, I thought that it would be perfect for making me actually get on with some sewing. However I didn't want it to become an excuse for buying yet more fabric. So, my plan is to use the sew-along to actually get through some of my stashes of fabric and vintage patterns - both actual vintage and reissues. I am not short of any of these items: these photos show just a selection of what I can use for inspiration!

A worryingly small section of my stash

Some possible reissue choices

Some possible vintage choices

Fortunately, I do have somewhere to start. I found that I was frequently buying fabric because I thought it would be perfect for a pattern, or vice versa, but because I didn't start the project straight away, I would forget what I’d bought it for! So when my friend F gave me this Fashion Timeline Journal last year, I used it to record all the pattern/fabric combinations I had thought of.

1930s ideas

For January I am making up Butterick 5748 in a fine viscose. It's hardly the time of year for a sleeveless dress, but I'm using it as 'pre-work' for February's challenge, trying to sort out some fit and alteration issues. More details to come when I post about the dress.

January's pattern and fabric

However, this isn't the only challenge I’m taking part in this year. When people asked what I was planning to do once I had finished my dissertation, I always replied that I wanted to get back into historical sewing. Time constraints meant that I gave it up while I was studying, and I missed it. The Wedding Gown in a Weekend event just reminded me how much I missed it. So this year I am joining the Historical Sew Monthly again, and am really excited to be doing so.

Goal number three

One problem with my previous historical sewing was that what I made was a bit random: the only complete outfits I produced were my Ottoman dance costume, my 'Fortuny' dress and shoes, and my Wiener Werkst├Ątte ensemble. However, this year the format of the Historical Sew Monthly has changed slightly. All the monthly challenges were opened at the start of the year, and can be completed in any order you choose. This is perfect for me, because while I will use some of the challenges for mending/fixing fit issues on stuff I already have, my main plan is to use them to make a complete 1874 outfit. I have nothing at all for this period, so intend to make everything, from the chemise outwards. The idea is to start with simple things which don't take much time, until my graduation outfit is done.

I chose 1874 because I own an actual pattern from that date (co-incidentally it was in the same auction lot as the 1954 Patou pattern), I blogged about it here. Though in-depth research/endless Pinterest scrolling, I managed to find the back view (thank you to Isabella of All the Pretty Dresses for posting it), so now have some idea of how the pieces fit together.

'Casaque du Printemps' - the illustration on the pattern

The jacket/casaque will be the last part of the outfit that I make, and my hope is that by the time I reach that stage my skills will have improved enough for me to tackle it, as there is only a brief description on the pattern.

So all in all, it's a very ambitious plan for the year. Wish me luck!


  1. Fabulous sewing goals! I can't wait to see your graduation dress! The 1874 outfit looks super complicated. Happy 2020.

    1. Thank you Linda, Happy 2020 to you too. Yes, the 1874 outfit is going to require a lot of research.

  2. Happy New Year to you! I'm looking forward to seeing that fabulous blue outfit.

    1. Thank you Lynn, and Happy New Year. I learned today that the graduation is on 13 March, so I have a couple of months to work on the outfit.

  3. Good luck!! That is an ambitious list!!

    1. Thank you Juliana! Yes, it will certainly keep me busy.