Making it through 2020 is an achievement in itself. Congratulations! Pour yourself a drink of choice and take a hard nap. Here’s a 2020 recap that (hopefully) won’t make you cry: A roast and toast to the things I’ve made this year.
As my buddy Brian so eloquently put it:
Honestly, it’s kind of like when you need to laugh to keep yourself from crying. I started my Instagram account and blog to track what I make, write down my thoughts, and make some sewing friends. If I didn’t recap what I made this year, I’d be a liar.
However, if you didn’t sew much—or at all—because of this truly hellacious year, no need for guilt. There were bigger things to worry about this year, such as surviving in spite of our governments.
With every new Instagram post of a finished project, I often wondered if people actually wore what they made. They churned out so many garments, so they couldn’t possibly, right?
Well I’m a slow AF sewer. I have a job. I have other hobbies besides sewing. The items I’ve considered “toasts” are things that I’ve worn repeatedly or used, even if I didn’t document it.
Before I learned to sew, I hated wearing sleeveless tops. Besides my aversion to showing my batwings, the armholes were always too long and the neckline too low.
I tried Hey June Handmade’s free Durango tank using thrifted men’s t-shirts. I only posted an in-progress photo, but I wore the finished product often this past summer.
The pattern originally came with negative ease, but I’m in a loving relationship with ease so I added more. After all of the adjustments were made and the garment was sewn, the Durango tank made me…like sleeveless tees. The neckline and armhole is chef’s kiss and it’s a slight A-line shape, so you won’t feel like your belly is horribly exposed with negative ease.
I also look like a neon watermelon, which is always a plus. I’d take a photo of me wearing it, but I’m going on three days without a hair wash and I’m wearing Christmas pajamas, so it’s not happening.
I found my t-shirt TNT (tried and true) pattern: the Ruska Tee from Named Pattern’s Breaking the Pattern book. I was too busy making as many different versions as possible to write anything about it.
I love the center front seam and how well it drapes my body. If you’re a pear or petite pear, you should try it. There are knotted versions, long-sleeve variations, and a dress version.
Everyone can go home. This pattern wins. I wore this on Christmas Eve and it survived the copious amounts of wine and menudo I consumed.
I finally made the chartreuse culottes of my dreams and learned some important lessons about fitting pants on a petite pear shape.
An update on using tencel twill: It wrinkles easily as you wear it throughout the day, and it attracts stains easily. (For example, King’s excited drool did NOT come off with water. Dog drool is the stuff of legends.) Despite those shortcomings, it’s a great fabric for Texas summers.
I will make a million versions of this pant in 2021 and you can’t stop me.
I made this pattern in my ongoing quest to find a TNT button-up shirt pattern. This was my first time using double gauze fabric and while I don’t get the obsession with it this past summer, it’s nice for the artist “I just threw this on” aesthetic.
I need to make this out of a few different fabrics first before I make that call, but I love the grown-on sleeves and ruffle sleeve variations.
My sloping, forward shoulders and rounded back adjustments messed with the kimono shape, so it looks sad on a hanger, but it fits me so that’s what matters.
Japanese cross-back apron
Aprons are usually a beginner sewer’s first project. I went backwards in this instance. Petite folks can relate, but I was tired of knotting the neck on traditional apron styles, so I decided to give the Japanese cross-back style a shot.
I highly recommend this for my fellow shorties. I used the Fabric Store’s free pattern-less tutorial, with the following changes: The pockets are much larger, I lined the inside since I was using lighter-weight linen, and added a twill tape loop inside the bib for hanging.
I plan to make a second one in 2021 as a craft apron. After all the sewing I’ve done this year, I’ve grown tired of all the bits of thread stuck to me.
Everyone has made this pattern a few times over, and I joined them.
I had two boxes of fabric scraps and my husband was like, “Can you not?”
I made this a shorter floor pillow, rather than an ottoman, added straps, and did a full circle rather than the pizza slices so I could show off the dope Alexander Henry Sonora fabric.
And now I have one box of scraps.
Frog Kigurumi cape
My siblings and brother-in-law have Kigurumis (Japanese animal onesies) and I didn’t, so I was jealous. I took a local, socially-distant intro to cosplay class and made a frog Kigurumi cape. The cape is superior, in my opinion, because it helps hot-blooded people like me regulate temperature.
I’ll have to adjust the hood size because I have big head energy, but I consider this a toast.
Wired light-up ornament.
In the spirit of learning new things this year, I also took a socially-distant E-textiles class. I learned how to use conductive thread to wire LED lights and make this cute Christmas ornament that’s now hanging on my tree.
King’s robe for a dog (named King)
I really got into the Halloween spirit this year, but not for myself. My father likes to buy costumes and other outfits for King, my brother’s 11 year-old toy Australian shepherd. I realized he needed, nay, deserved a king’s robe.
I used a Kwik Sew dog coat pattern and copied a cape from one of King’s existing costumes to make this thing of beauty.
My dad provided creative direction by picking out the fabrics and trims. He was like a kid in a candy store when we went to the garment district.
I sewed with fur and upholstery velvet. I hand-sewed the trim. My machine sewed through seven layers of fabric and didn’t flinch.
And a bonus: King loved it. He’s a flamboyant dog who loves his costumes.
Knit tee upcycles
This is less interesting, but I did several upcycles to existing t-shirts I owned to prolong their life. It was mostly shortening and hemming, but it meant that I’d wear these shirts more.
Almost a toast
“You forgot the champagne but that’s okay because you brought mini quiches.”
There are many wins about this top. It buttons up without gaping, the princess seams are everything, the ruffle is cute, and the aesthetic is modern.
However, binding always trips me up, and I think my confusion is why I don’t wear this top much. This is a stiffer ikat fabric, so there’s some discomfort in the armhole and it digs. I’m not sure if I need to shave a hair off the armhole or if it’s the fabric selection.
There’s also my vanity coming in: I don’t like how it emphasizes my batwings at certain angles. This may be a pattern where I go back, remove the binding, and add sleeves. I’m not quite sure what to do with it. It’s a shame, because it’s a really lovely top and I would wear if I could figure out the source of my discomfort.
These are fails. There’s no sugar-coating it. I’ve had to dig deep into my phone to find these photos.
Button-up striped shirt
When I originally reviewed McCalls 7629, I optimistically believed it could be my TNT button-up pattern. A year later, I think it could be an option.
However, I’ve come to realize that the button-up styles that feel more like me are more casual. I prefer how I look in dropped shoulder styles. Set-in sleeves at the shoulder line feel more formal to me and I’m not a formal person.
That’s not why this pattern has been a fail both time I’ve made it.
In both instances, I was using the wrong measurement for my shoulder. I thought the bone at the tip of my shoulder is where the measurement needed to be taken. Simplicity set me straight: It’s the shoulder dimple you see whenever you raise your arm. (Raise your arm to shoulder height and check yourself out in a three-way mirror. That measurement is a littler further out.)
The short-sleeved version I made in 2019 was too short as well due to fixing a mistake without wasting fabric, so I’m not as comfortable wearing it.
This long-sleeved version still has the shoulder problem, which isn’t as obvious. The main problem is that the top button is too low, I had a million problems getting the lapel collar the right size, and it looks like a pajama top.
It makes me quite sad because I love how I sewed everything else: The sleeve cuffs, the pockets, the hem. Other than the pajama vibes, weird lapel, and button sitting too low, it’s a really comfortable shirt. However, I know I’m not wearing it in its current iteration, and it deserves better.
Other knit upcycles
I’ll keep it simple: I cut some hems too short. I tried to extend the life of some shirts by fixing the hem, but I realized the problem wasn’t the hem, it was the actual shirt.
It’s just another part of the style discovery process.
Various mask patterns
Everyone was sewing masks this year. As it turns out, we all have preferences with our masks—from fabrics to pattern selections.
Some like the 3D shape, others liked theirs close to the face. I tried two versions of the 3D mask and didn’t like it. One made me feel like a duck, and the other wasn’t forming to my nose how I liked it.
I used Craft Passion’s pattern for a while. It’s still a solid pattern. I modified the size to fit my husband’s face. However, I prefer my mask to be a little off the face, but not quite to the extent as some 3D masks. I ended up rubbing off a ready-to-wear mask I received as swag from work, so that’s been my go-to mask pattern.
The Burnside Bib that never happened
Oof. This breaks my heart. This was the first time I cut through the PDF pattern and never again. Team Trace for life.
I had so many problems in the pattern adjustment phase that I ended up throwing away my paper mess, stepped away, and purchased Pants for Real People.
When I chose my size according to the instructions, the pants were SO BIG. Thank goodness I did a muslin. As I later learned sewing the Emerson pants, I need to grade down two sizes from my hips to the hem to cover my ass but avoid drowning in fabric.
Goodbye, 2020. We won’t miss you.
This recap of what I’ve made this year is just a sliver of my 2020. I got a new job right before the pandemic, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Yet my mental health was up and down, my spouse’s mental health was up and down, and my father contracted COVID from work (and survived).
It’s impressive I was able to sew what I have this year, considering all of that. Yet I know that there are people who are still struggling to make ends meet. Considering my own experiences, I have massive amounts of empathy for anyone going through a tough time right now.
And this was a tough year for everyone—full of grief and sorrow—but I’d like to believe it was also a year of self-discovery for many. Whether you ditched toxic friends, found out the true meaning of life, or jumped on the sourdough bandwagon, I hope you can look to 2021 with renewed hope that if you could make it through 2020, you can make it through anything.