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2014 : My {Sewing} Year in Review

This year (and in years past) I have been so inspired by you fancy bloggers who put together those clever year-end mosaics.  This year I decided to give it a go myself using Mosaic Maker and it turns out, it was very simple!  If you haven't tried it, you should.  It's quite fun!  I made one mosaic for each quarter of the year.

January - March

Between having unrelenting morning sickness and our house flooding, this was my slowest quarter of the year for sewing.  I made 9 dresses, a tunic, two pair of leggings, and one pair of pants. 

What I learned:  This was my first time sewing with knits outside of making leggings.  I learned how to sew neckbands.  I learned not to buy cheap knits. 

My favorites:  I really loved Tia's piped geranium dress in the Belgian fabric from An and Tia's Happy Homemade dress in voile - also from An.  

What didn't work for us:  I loved the practicality of the knit skater dresses, but the animal print fabric faded quite a lot and pilled terribly.  Those dresses are still in heavy rotation, though.  Iris rejected the chambray pinafore, even though it was, in my opinion, one of the cutest things I've ever made for her.  The Happy Handmade Pinafore was too big on Iris, but I love it and think it should fit well now.  Last winter, Tia did not want to wear the chocolate linen wide leg pants, but has recently taken a liking to them.

April - June

Between being back in my home and being firmly planted in the second trimester of my pregnancy, things picked up in this quarter.  I made 8 dresses, two pair of shorts, 4 shirts, 5 skirts, one romper, and two swimming suits.

What I learned:  Learning how to sew swimming suits was the highlight of this quarter!  (Thanks, Suz!).  I wrote a skirt tutorial and I (mostly) self-drafted a romper pattern.

My favorites: I made some of my favorite dresses ever during this quarter:  the Bohemian Babydoll dress, the Persimmon dress, and the hybrid pinafore.  I also really loved the Caroline Party Dress and the Lotta dress.  And the Cosi swimsuits.  (I'm diluting the meaning of the word favorite!).

What didn't work for us:  I tried to sew outside of my comfort color zone (or non-color comfort zone) with black and white houndstooth for the O+S Hide and Seek Dress.  Tia wears this dress a lot, but I am just not a black-and-white person, literally or metaphorically.  So this color scheme did not work for me.  I find it too severe.

I made some measurement errors with the persimmon dress and the hide-and-seek (altered) dress and they were both scandalously short when Indigo was playing.  So those were not worn and instead were stored away for Tia.  Tia is on the shortish side, so they should be just right on her next year.  Tia never wore the romper that I labored hours over for Vintage May.  The top for Indigo's Vintage May ensamble would not stay tucked into the skirt or sash and was ridiculously hard to iron.  Those were not worn, but the skirt has been worn quite a lot.

I tried again to venture out of my comfort zone with Indigo's chartreuse tshirt, but it's just too blindingly bright for me.  As it turns out, my love of bright colors inversely correlates to the size of our family.  As our family has grown, it seems I've become more and more drawn to neutrals.  I dress Hazel in almost exclusively neutrals.  (Consequently, everyone thinks she's a boy.)  Perhaps the inevitable chaos of a large family makes me seek out quieter elements in my environment?


With Hazel due to arrive at the end of July, I was in pretty serious nesting mode this quarter and my sewing showed it.  I made 6 newborn gowns, 3 swimming suits, 2 dresses, 2 tunics, 2 pair of shorts, 7 throw pillows, and one wholecloth quilt (not pictured).

I did this interview for Kids Clothes Week on why I sew.  I was moved by the amazingness of the sewing community when I received these mobile ornaments for Hazel as well as some really thoughtful and special handmade gifts for her.  I could not believe the generosity of it all.  It was so humbling.  The goodness of this community is just incredible and man, you ladies are so talented!

What I learned:  That I really love sewing swimming suits!  I became very comfortable sewing knits.  I drafted a kimono newborn gown (I wish I would have saved that pattern!) and I created my newborn gown pattern (available here).

My favorites: Though both are pretty understated, my favorites were the Geranium tunic I made for Iris and my second Bohemian Babydoll dress for Indigo.  I also loved those Cosi swimsuits!

What didn't work for us:  The 3 newborn gowns I made from an Etsy pattern were way too big for Hazel  - but that led me to create my newborn gown pattern.  The new pattern fit well and Hazel ended up spending her first three months of life living in newborn gowns made in the coziest knit fabrics!  The newborn knot hats were too big for Hazel, too.

Indigo is more inclined to wear dresses so the shearwater kaftan didn't get worn much, despite me making it in the most incredible, silky Arizona voile.


With a new baby in the house, my sewing was simpler and more practical this last quarter.  Sewing took a back seat to cuddling and photographing my baby, for sure.  Since my sewing time was much more limited, I experimented a lot with knits which are fast to sew.

I made 6 dresses, 8 shirts (one not pictured/blogged), 1 skirt, 1 pair of bubble shorts, 3 nightgowns, 1 pajama set for Jude, and 1 newborn gown.

What I learned: One of the hardest things I learned this last quarter was to digitize a pattern.  Because I was self-taught using tutorials and youtube videos, the learning curve was really steep and frustrating.

I also discovered stretch thread!   I sewed more knits than wovens.  Considering I was terrified of knits last year, that was some good progress.  I finally understand the desire to make things like t-shirts.  While they aren't the most impressive things to sew, they are just so wearable.

Finally, I tried some self-sewing, making two Bento tops for myself, which I wear all the time, though I forgot to blog one of them.  :)

My favorites:  The Sunday Picnic dress and the Hattie dress were my favorites.  I also love when Iris wears my flipped Hattie.  That dress didn't photograph well, but she looks darling in it.  Tia wears her orange lace peplum top as often as possible and the red and grey ottobre dress is another favorite of hers.

What didn't work for us:   I'm happy to report that everything I made this last quarter is getting lots of wear!  There really wasn't anything that didn't work -with the possible exception of using stretch thread in my bobbin only.  A few of the girls' hems have broken but I'm not sure if that's from my technique or from them doing things like stretching the tops over their knees!  :0

That brings my total for the year to:
25 dresses
16 tops
7 newborn gowns
6 skirts
5 swimming suits
5 shorts
4 nightgowns/pajamas
3 pants/leggings
1 romper

and my grand total to 72 garments!  My goal is to sew about one garment/week, so I am very surprised that I made so many things this year!

I don't have any specific New Year's resewlutions (hehe) but I would like to keep my girls' wardrobe as close to being fully handmade as I can... as long as that continues to work for my family.

How about you?  Do you have any sewing goals for the new year?  I do have a looong list of Ottobre patterns that I can't wait to sew.  I hope I'll get to at least some of them!

Happy New Year!


  1. Love your style and eye for the artistic! Also love the honesty about what doesn't work. Keep up the great work!

  2. Look at you, fancy mosaics and all! That was an incredibly productive year even without having created a new little person. I don't see anything here that isn't lovely. Well done and best wishes for the new year.

  3. happy New Year sweet Rachel! I love this post! I think it will be a great way to remember this year in the years to come. You are so talented and I always love how classy your creations look! I wish you a beautiful year, filled with love and happy moments.

  4. Happy New Year! 72 garments this year! That's awesome :) A great and well-organised post too. I pretty much love all the gorgeous clothes you made but for some reason, Iris's mustard/ yellow Geranium top paired with the navy stripe leggings is my favourite. Such a simple but perfect outfit :) Maybe it is that the photos are so lovely too, she seems like such a sweetie. It is great that if you have any sizing issues or rejections ( :) ) you have someone smaller to try them out on :) I'm lucky at this stage that my Jude is happy to wear the clothes I make him. I'm sure that will change sometime though.
    My good wishes to you and your family for this coming year :)

  5. I am in awe of all that you've made! All that, and you made a human being this year! You know - no big deal :)
    I love seeing all your makes! Your style is always so gorgeous - classic but fun. I had to chuckle when I read about your kids refusing to wear certain things. Mine are the same. Actually the big one is pretty appreciative and wears most things. The little one has dome definite opinions though and she is not afraid to share them! Best wishes to you all in 2015!

  6. I love posts like this because it makes me remember who sewed what. I now know that you sewed not 1 but 2 of my most favourite dresses ever in Blogland. Your Persimmon dress and your Caroline Party Dress. Sew amazing!!!!

    Just wondering if you made much for your son? Or do you not like sewing for boys?

    1. Aw, thank you so much! That is an enormous compliment!

      Regarding my son - well, he is almost 10 and mostly wears jeans/corduroy pants and tshirts. I haven't sewn jeans or cords yet, nor am I particularly inspired to, I guess. I just started sewing tshirts, but they aren't my favorites - though I do have some fabric sitting on my sewing table to make him a tshirt in his chosen color soon. I have always made pajamas for him and I also used to sew jackets for him. But no, I am not particularly inspired to sew for boys. Mostly because I love sewing dresses most of all. :) My sewing time is actually very limited so I try to mostly sew what really inspires me and my son and I connect in lots of other ways.

  7. Your sewing (and your children) are just so beautiful. What an inspiring roundup! And I love reading your comments about what worked, what didn't, and what you learned. I look forward to seeing your 2015 creations. Happy New Year!

  8. Well done, lady ! I have to do do this sum up, too. Happy new year, Rachel.

  9. What an incredible amount of sewing! And you with so many little ones and homeschooling - clearly an awesome woman!

  10. Wow!!!! What a great wrap up! In a year when you were pregnant and had a baby, you made 72 garments?!!!!! That is incredible. And I love that Bento Tee you made yourself! I missed that somehow! Go you! That must have been during my deep blog funk, haha.

  11. This like others have said was incredibly inspiring to me - I have a 13 month old and have made a few things for her but got lots of great ideas from this post. I'm wondering where you buy most of your knits - is there a particular site you love and is your go to? Thanks! Keep up the great sewing and blogging :)

    1. Yes - I usually buy from Hawthorne Threads, or Etsy or - though some of the knits I have purchased through have been more miss than hit. I try to stick with names that I trust more than buying from one particular retailer. I really like Robert Kaufman jersey
      I love - adore - Riley Blake knit stripes! I could live in them! they are so soft!
      i also really like birch fabric knits. You can find some of their knits lines here
      Good luck and let me know if you come across a line you really love!

      Thanks so much for the comment and the kind words!

  12. It's amazing how much sewing you have done for all your children! Beautiful work--and models

  13. You are seriously amazing. I get the whole nesting = productivity thing but you've kept it up AFTER baby too! But I get that too - sewing is the thing that makes me feel like ME so it's always a nice thing to come back to after a needy baby day. Aaaaanyway, love all your makes, especially love your photos, and I'm so glad we're friends. I just realized I should make a newborn gown for our neighbors' new baby! Take care and happy 2015!

  14. Oh Rachel, look at you! That is one year of pure awesomeness! Your sewing is always so classy and beautiful. What an amazing style you have! I can't wait to see what you're up to in the new year. I hope you'll have many, many beautiful moments and a year filled with love and laughter!

  15. So much to love and drool over in this post! I love the honesty in your writing - what worked, what didn't. Keeping it real! I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, as there is so much sewing goodness here. That Belgian Geranium dress though just makes me SO happy - love, love it! Also loved seeing the uptick in knit garments - you've always been so generous in sharing knit tips and your awesome garments show that those tips are clearly working. And in busy girls' lives, knit garments are always the first ones pulled from the closet:) Eager to see your upcoming Ottobre creations (you brave girl - I get a headache from tracing out those patterns!).
    Thanks for sharing this year-in-review - I hope seeing all the beautiful clothes you have created for the girls (and Jude!) show how you have covered them in love this past year:)

  16. Wow! You are so INCREDIBLY productive! I would be happy with doing a quarter of that (who am I kidding, a tenth of that). I love so many of these! Feeling inspired for 2015.

  17. I love seeing all your makes together! And mostly because this year I've only really made quilts. It's always fun to see someone get so much joy from another side of sewing. I wish I could spend an afternoon at your house absorbing some of your skill!

  18. Such beautiful things! I have so enjoyed visiting your blog this year, your sewing is always an inspiration and your photos are always stunning. I can't wait to see another year's worth of dresses (etc!) from you!! :)


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