2016 Reflections

As a new year begins, it's always interesting to look back over the past year and sort of see where one 'was' vs. where one feels they are 'now'. 
Overall, I'd say this year has been a year of growth for me in not only skills improvement, but in a greater self-confidence in my abilities.  At the beginning of the year, I can remember the turtle feeling as I struggled in second-guessing every step of each project to such a degree it began to sort of suck the joy out of the sewing process.  But with each garment completion, there was that feeling of elation seeing my creation come to 'life' and the joy of wearing handmade garments that would push me on to begin another.  Then came the struggles, then the elation..... a vicious cycle within myself.  But somewhere toward the end of the year, it all just seemed to click.  Still taking time to evaluate each step, maybe even changing the approach because I'd learned how to do that step a better way..... but moving along and not allowing myself to become overwhelmed with the process.  And it feels really, really good. 

Made at year's end, the plaid McCall's M5252 jacket is a great example of my progress out of the cycle.  I'd been wanting to make that jacket for over a year and once it was decided it should be next in the queue, in the course of a very short period of time for me, I'd chosen fabric from my stash and dug in to such a degree that I even ran the collar stand through my machine (after pinning ever so carefully) and stitched a perfect stitch on both inside and outside right then and there.  Totally amazed myself at my newfound 'bravery'.
But I am getting ahead of myself here.  Let's go back to the beginning of the year where I was working on the NewLook 6261 sheath dress out of quilting cotton bird fabric to wear to my niece's wedding in February 2016. 
It was actually supposed to be a wearable muslin to work out all the kinks in the pattern so I could make the 'real' dress for my daughter's May graduation from college using the most gorgeous fabric in the world I'd received from my sweet, beautiful Australian friend Carolyn at the end of the 2015 year.
I made the bird dress in time for the wedding and sewed the coordinating Burda jacket in a mere 2 days!  Both were worn at the Florida wedding.  And when I arrived home, felt very honored that Simplicity Pattern Company picked up the first photo below, and ran it on their facebook feed.
But everytime I worked with Carolyn's precious fabric, a strange semi-paralysis took over as I was so frightened of ruining it I'd carefully put it away.... petting it from time to time.  In the meantime, I made a few more Plantains and another Burda jacket.  A pretty Toile de Jouy dress was finished in April using NewLook 6370.
Made 3 Ottobre 02/2015 no. 14 pants.....
.... and a linen Ottobre 2/2016 no. 10 shift dress that I love!
Then came a linen Rachel Comey Vogue 1247 top....
...and my hand-stitched Alabama Chanin top and skirt.
Meanwhile my beautiful daughter had graduated with honors from Clemson University.  I had to wear my bird print dress to her graduation.  Let me pause here a moment and say, her graduation was the biggest highlight of my (our!) year!  This bright and beautiful young lady was diagnosed with cancer the beginning of 2016, had surgery over her Spring break and graduated on time 2 months later.  Many, many people were praying for her and we are so very grateful the Lord answered our prayers and today she is healthy and cancer-free.  Love her so much.  Proud momma moment here wiping away a few tears.
Okay.... back to the subject matter..... somewhere after mid-year I decided that Carolyn's dress needed to be finished.  Carolyn is very dear to me and I admire and respect her so very much, and felt that I had been rude by the extreme delay in getting her dress done.  A sheath dress is not a hard dress to make, the trick is getting the fit just right..... and in my case I'd also never lined a dress properly before.... but it was done.... and I am so proud of my work and feel I did Carolyn and her beautiful fabric justice in the end.  In fact, when the dress was (finally!) completely finished, I cried.  It was a fantastic feeling.  Thank you Carolyn.
First wearing
'Official' outing
After completing Carolyn's dress, it just seemed everything started falling into place and I finished a put aside Yoshiko Tsukiori Frilled Bolero shortly thereafter.
NewLook 6374 has been worn to death and
 another NewLook 6192 basic skirt was made.
It was fun to make Ottobre's 05/2016 no. 15 'Like a Warm Hug' with its exposed serged rolled hem seams center front and center back.  I'll let you in on a little secret here..... I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant in the photo below, but was actually so stressed as there were *gasp* PEOPLE nearby!!!!  Still not comfortable about photos in public, but do force myself out of my comfort zone occasionally and take 'on location' shots with my camera and tripod.
Needing pants desperately made a pair of NL6216 gray cords and a slew of leggings from Ottobre's 05/2016 no. 9 Leggings.  LOVE these!!!
So overall I made 26 total garments.  25 for me and 1 for Melissa, so guess that means it was kinda a selfish sewing year.  1 Home Dec project of corduroy pillows with zip and not one single quilt.  The statistics came down to: 7 tops, 4 dresses, 3 jackets, 1 cardi, 9 pants and 2 skirts.  I also (poorly) participated in Make a Garment a Month for the 3rd year and want to do better with that sweet group in 2017.  Sarah Liz is our lovely moderator who I have enjoyed getting to know all these years.  I've only been sewing garments for myself since 2013 and joined her group shortly thereafter and found it a source of inspiration and motivation.  Also participated in Me-Made-May 2016 for the 3rd year and worked hard to take self-photos 28 of the 31 days of May and used that month to better my photography skills.  I cannot conclude without mentioning Instagram.  This was my 2nd year on IG and cannot even begin to express how much enjoyment, creative inspiration and sweet encouragement there is to be found in our wonderful sewing community via that social media outlet.

So that's it for 2016.  I want to thank you, dear readers, for reading my posts and following along as my hope might be to inspire you in some sort of creative way.  Looking forward to seeing what 2017 may bring.

Happy New Year!!
EDITED 1.4.2017:  the full 2016 Gallery of My Work can be viewed here with links to all posts written in 2016 with garment construction information:   2016 | GALLERY OF MY WORK


  1. Firstly I want to send my wishes to you and your family and daughter. So glad she is cancer free and I can imagine your pride too. I have 3 daughters and full well know that motherly feeling. OK now , wow about your sewing doubts. Everything you make looks so well fitted and made and you really know your style so I was surprised by that. Finally I love your Mccalls plaid jacket too.

    1. Thank you so much Janine! It's interesting, in that it was only when I was writing this post, it occurred to me to talk about some of the struggles I've tried to overcome (manage?!) and not write like all is okay all the time. "Life" really is a journey! :)

  2. What an awful start to the year, with Melissa unwell. That must have been such a tremendous worry to you. I am so thrilled she is better. It must be awful having a child in that situation. Now on to sewing - you certainly have made progress in conquering your fears - I think we all have them, it's just some of us don't always say so. And I think personality also comes into play. Everything you have made looks lovely - and goodness, 26 garments is quite impressive. I'm thrilled that your "Caroline" dress turned out well - you would have been so devastated otherwise. And thank you for your kind words about me. Happy New Year, Lisa, to you and your family.

    1. Thank you so much Sarah Liz! And oh my goodness, if I had not been able to construct Carolyn's dress to my high expectations, you are oh-so-right it would've been devastating! But then again, because it was a success it sort of catapulted me into a newfound confidence of my abilities. You have been a part of the confidence building too.... and I am oh-so-grateful. :)

  3. I love all the projects you have shown here, particularly the plaid jacket and the bird print dress. You really know the print/colour and shapes that flatter your body. Looking forward to seeing more of your projects in 2017!

  4. So many achievements for you Lisa. Well done you must be so proud of yourself. And a totally wonderful outcome for your daughter. So happy for you! here's to 2017 :)

    1. Yes! Here's to 2017! Thank you so much Dawn! :)

  5. You've had a phenomenal year - first with your daughter being cancer free and second with your sewing breakthrough. I didn't realize that you'd only been garment sewing for 3 years! You are sewing so well in such a short period of time. I loved the dress from Carolyn's fabric - you did it and her proud. Will continue to follow your sewing journey in 2017!

    1. Thank you so much Carolyn! What a kind compliment!! You probably might not remember, but 3 years ago, you helped me by answering my question about laundering linen. The first time I'd ever worked with linen and was at such a loss. You were so kind in responding right away and encouraging me along. And I still prep linen fabrics the way you recommended to this day. :)

  6. Happy New Year to you Lisa! I enjoyed reading this review, as much as I enjoyed reading about every single item you've made! It is a lot of fun to me following you along on your journey. I'm excited about your 2017 projects. Also I'm glad that Melissa is cancer free!

    1. Thank you so much Katharina! And I love seeing all the beautiful creations you make too! :)

  7. Lisa, you have made so many beautiful garments. I love them all, especially your latest jacket and the bird dress. Looking forward to seeing and reading your 2017 makes.
    Glad that Melissa is cancer free.

  8. Lisa, you have made so many beautiful, carefully worked garments, that suit you and your lovely style to a tee. I really get the sense that you approach your wardrobe with a super thoughtful, discerning eye, and truly pay full attention to each decision, in fact each decision along the way. It' very very inspiring to me! Thank you so much for your friendship, and I am so glad my fabric made you feel like a hurdle had been cleared for you in making it. You sure look absolutely gorgeous in it!!
    I am also so happy to hear that Melissa is happy and thriving and doing so well. You must be proud of your beautiful daughter and how well she has coped with a difficult year, As have you all.
    I'm looking forward so much to a safe, happy, in fact fantastic 2017 for you.

  9. You certainly had a productive year and made some stunning clothes. I am so thrilled for you that your daughter has regained good health. I am looking forward to following your progress in 2017.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a note.~Lisa