Sewing with less stress…

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I didn’t do a big sewing resolutions post this year. I felt that my resolutions last year really helped guide me last year so much so that I don’t need new general resolutions this year. Sure I want to do specific things like sew a coat and use my stash but I don’t have enough of those things to make a full list.

However I do have one thing I genuinely want to work on this year regarding sewing and I want to know if anyone else has this problem, too…

While a lot of sewists make resolutions to sew more in the coming year I think I’m going in the opposite direction. In the last two years I’ve made a boat load of garments. Not all have been winners but many have and now a majority of my everyday wardrobe is handmade. I don’t do a “Me-Made-May” or a “Self-Stitched-September” – I do a “Self-Stitched-Life!” I feel a big sense of pride that most of my clothes are me-made. I love getting compliments from friends and family in real life and I like showing off my projects on the blog.

But it’s gotten to the point that I feel disappointment in myself if I go out and I’m not wearing a single me-made garment. Or even worse if someone asked me if I made something I’m wearing and I have to say “no.” I feel like I am pressuring myself to sew all my clothes. Maybe this me-made pride is getting a little out of hand? I even feel guilty if I have to go buy clothes in a store because I just don’t have the time to make something or do a lot of fitting. And those damn Gap jeans fit so well, too! I just can’t compete! (Breathe, Dixie, breathe!) This is a legitimate problem, I’m telling you! It’s like, “sewist’s guilt” or something!

This manifests in other ways, too. I am constantly inspired by new styles but heaven forbid I buy a trendy garment from a store like a normal person. I can make that myself, goshdarnit! So then in my quest to make every idea that pops into my brain I get distracted and the projects that take a long time to develop, like designing my own patterns, take a back seat to the quick and dirty “fashion fix”, the instant gratification I can get from sewing with pre-made patterns. Sure, I can crank out several garments a month but my pattern development schedule suffers.

Perhaps giving in and buying the occasional piece will free up some time for me to make more patterns or work on more complex projects?

So this year I resolve to chill out when it comes to buying clothes vs. making them. It is just impossible for me to make all the clothes I ever have an idea for and sometimes there are clothes that I like and would be great in my wardrobe but I just don’t have the desire or excitement to sew them (which is perhaps why I have one button down top that I’ve been working on for months ’cause I’m a little bored with sewing it even though I know I’ll like it when it’s done).

Plus, I already know that I can make jeans or coats or bras or some other difficult item but that doesn’t mean I have to make them. I should sew what I like making! I’m going to try to focus on  enjoying sewing and not feel pressured to fill every corner of my closet with stuff I’ve made.

But I will try to at least buy clothes that are decent quality and buy from designers I admire like what I’ve decided to do since reading Overdressed.

Phew, ok, I’m glad I got that out of my system. It’s going to be a hard resolution to keep – not necessarily buying clothes but not feeling bad about doing so. Does anyone else have this problem or am I just crazy???? I think I’m a little crazy…

Dixie DIY’s Year in Review 2012

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I love the new year! New start, new goals, new memories but first I want to review everything that I did sewing-wise in the last twelve months.

2012 Was a pretty big year for me, I dyed my hair purple, sewed a bunch of swimsuits for my summer vacation, I released 3 new patterns (one of which was free), and made about 50 garments and accessories. Not too bad! Let’s break it down now -

  • Garments Sewn for Myself: 34
  • Dresses: 10
  • Shirts: 19
  • Skirts: 1
  • Pants/Shorts: 6
  • Underwear and Swimsuits: 2 bras, 1 undies, 7 swimsuits
  • Accessories: 1 wallet, 1 handbag, 1 make up case
  • Sewn For Others: 3 dresses for cousins, 1 baby shirt, 1 shirt for my man, 1 monster quilt
  • Other crafts: 1 failed kite, 1 travel neck pillow, 1 holiday wreath, 1 state shape string art

Now, let’s discuss the value of all those me-made items, not monetarily but in terms of wear-ability and how well they met my sewing goals from last year.

To recap, some of my goals were: to make “church appropriate” dresses (ie: cute party dresses that don’t look trashy), solid color tops, tops and dresses with sleeves, good everyday dresses, pants/shorts, blazers and solid color coats. On the flip side I was refraining from sewing skirts (already have to many that I don’t often wear) and anything without sleeves or clothes that need to be worn with other clothes to feel comfortable.

Colette Macaron with Fabricker FabricsDrape Drape book no. 3
(these two dresses are both “church appropriate” and good for everyday wear, double check!!)

So I didn’t sew a single coat or blazer(well, maybe a sweatshirt/blazer hybrid thing). But I did ok in most other areas.

  • Shorts: 3
  • Pants: 3
  • Church Appropriate Dresses: 2, but only one really fits
  • Solid Color Tops: 8
  • Everyday Dresses: 7
  • Stuff with long sleeves/three-quarter sleeves: 7

McCalls 6331Bow BlouseSimplicity 2512

I broke a few of my rules (they’re more like guidelines anyway), I made one sleeveless dress, several printed tops and one skirt (but that was a UFO so I’m letting it slide).

Jeans from HellSimplicity 3850
(pants that don’t fit anymore)

But here’s a big problem – A lot of the clothes I made don’t fit. Some didn’t really fit from the get-go like my first two pants from the year. The first pair of jeans from January stretched out way too much, those got donated. The second pair of pants from February also seemed to stretch out but were also a little big to begin with.

Victory Patterns Anouk DressRed LolaDarling Ranges Dress
(these dresses don’t fit anymore *sadface*)

But then I lost some weight last winter and slowly but surely a lot of my fitted garments got too big, like my first Colette Macaron dress from 2011 and my Victory Anouk dress from January. Both of these dresses are so big in the bust and shoulders now it’s not really worth trying to fix. That cutout on the Anouk dress used to show a little bit of skin, now it show half my bra!

My first Darling Ranges dress from March is too big and now gapes in front and is too low, not really fixable. My Victory Lola dress is like a giant sack now.

Most of my shirts fit ok but it’s such a bummer about the others. I’m seriously considering doing a giveaway on the blog for those dresses rather than donating them to Goodwill. I’d like to know they’re going to good homes. What do all of you think about that?

Pattern Runway Sweet ShortsTulip Sleeve Knit Dress - self-draftedHighly Modified RenfrewBurdastyle Handbook BlouseBurdaStyle Handbook BlouseScout TeeVelvet Scout TeeMovies in the Park ShortsDarling Ranges Version 2.0Raglan Sleeve Knit Dress w/ Crochet BackPecan Street Art Fest Dress
(my most worn me-made garments)

But there’s good news! Of the things that do fit I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of them. My most worn items would be my Pattern Runway Sweet Shorts, my self drafted tulip sleeve knit dress, my short sleeve Renfrew, my two Burda Book blouses (always in heavy rotation!), both Scout Tees, my Movies in the Park Shorts, the 2nd Darling Ranges dress and my black dress and floral dress from April and May.

One Week, One Pattern 3.0Sewaholic RenfrewColette Juniper denim trousersTaffy Blouse
(what doesn’t get worn: bad fabrics, bad fit and not so good styles)

What I don’t wear as much of – my early versions of my Summer Concert Tee, the rayon fabrics have just fallen to pieces, things snag on the fabric all the time and there are even little holes in the shirt. The fabric was just crap. Thanks a lot fabric.com.

Also my first cowl neck Renfrew is just too tight in the bust to really be comfortable. I like looser knits like my Hot Cocoa Sweater. It’s a shame ’cause I loved that honey color!

Also, I thought I’d enjoy the wide leg look of the Juniper trousers but I just never wear them. I think they make me look like I’m drowning in pants. I’m a little upset but hey, you live, you learn.

And alas, those giant sleeves on the Colette Handbook Taffy Blouse have kept me from wearing the top. I feel that with all the billowy fullness at the shoulders I have to balance it out at the bottom but I’m just not sure how to style this top.

***I’m really into making lists and assessments to turn them into new goals so I love making posts like this and reading other bloggers’ recap posts. If you’ve done a “year in review” post leave me the link in the comments so I can check it out. Maybe I’ll even find some new blogs to read this year. ;)

Sewing Resolutions Recap, or, how well have I kept my promises?

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In January I made a list of sewing related New Years Resolutions and since it’s nearly May I thought I’d take a look and see how well I’ve been keeping them.

The main goal was to create a closet catalogue to figure out what I wear most and what garments I need to make more or less of – basically sewing guidelines.

This isn’t to say that I am restricted to sewing within my self-imposed rules but I made them for a reason – to get the most out of my sewing and my wardrobe!

These guidelines include – sewing garments with sleeves (because I rarely wear sleeveless anything), with long sleeves (because I lacked them), solid color tops, tops that were nicer than plain t-shirts, casual dresses, “Church appropriate dresses” (because sometimes I need to look fancy but not like a skank), pants, blazers and coats. I also needed to stay away from sewing skirts (I have way too many) and sewing clothes that required other clothes (like tank tops underneath a see-through shirt).

There were some other things I was going for, too, like sewing things I can wear in summer, finding my personal style and trying new shapes and silhouettes.

Well now I’m going to assess my progress and analyze each project to see how well I’ve done.

Raglan Sleeve Knit Dress w/ Crochet Back
Little Black Knit Dress
Date: April 26
Guidelines followed: It’s a casual dress with sleeves! Not too short that I need to wear tights with it and it’s a plain color. Check!

The "Summer Concert Tee"
The “Summer Concert Tee”
Date: April 24
Guidelines followed or ignored: Well, it has sleeves, I can wear it in summer and it isn’t a plain old t-shirt but it’s not a solid color. Semi Check. **I made a few other versions of this shirt and they all fit under these same guidelines.
New Look 6100
Orange Shorts
Date: April 1
Guidelines followed: Great for summer! Um, that’s about it. But I like them so I’m giving them a check!
Eva Dress Croquette Blouse
Eva Dress Croquette Blouse
Date: March 19
Guidelines followed: Solid color, fancier than a t-shirt and has sleeves! Check!
Darling Ranges Version 2.0
Darling Ranges Redux
Date: March 14
Guidelines followed: Casual dress with sleeves! And I love this dress so it gets a double check!
Darling Ranges Dress
Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges Dress #1
Date: March 9
Guidelines followed: Casual dress with sleeves and I don’t need to wear anything under it because it’s lined. Check!
Simplicity 3850
Simplicity 3850 Muslin Pants
Date: Feb 26
Guidelines followed or ignored: Well, they’re pants, but they’re a little big and I only wear them around the house so I’m not giving them a check. Fail.
Red Lola
Victory Patterns Lola Dress
Date: Feb 17
Guidelines followed: A casual dress with sleeves (and semi-long sleeves) and bonus points for going out of my comfort zone and trying a silhouette without a defined waist. Double check!
Simplicity 2512
50s Skirt Restyle
Date: Feb 10
Guidelines followed or ignored: It’s a skirt. And I plainly forbade myself from any more skirts because I’ve got way more skirts than anything else I own and I hardly ever wear them. Ok, maybe “forbade” is a harsh word but really, I’ve got to stop making skirts. I’ll let this one slide because it was an old project that I finally finished. Still, it’s a guidelines fail.
Vogue 1247 Top
Vogue 1247 Shirt
Date: Feb 1
Guidelines followed: Solid color with sleeves and it’s not a plain t-shirt. Gotta give it a check!
Sweatshirt Jacket
Self Drafted Sweatshirt Jacket
Date: Jan 21
Guidelines followed: It’s a blazer and long sleeves and a neutral color. Should be good, right? Well, I only wore it a couple times and decided I didn’t like it as much as I first thought. I think because it’s a little bulky. Unfortunately, fail.
Jeans from Hell
The “Jeans from Hell”
Date: Jan 10
Guidelines followed or ignored: They’re pants, but even when I first made them they started stretching out. Now that I’ve lost weight they are completely unwearable and after all the trouble they put me through I doubt I’ll be trying to fix them. Big fat fail.
Colette Jasmine
Black and White Colette Jasmine 
Date:Jan 9
Guidelines followed: Solid color, nice looking top with sleeves. Check!
Victory Patterns Anouk Dress
Victory Patterns Anouk Dress
Date: Jan 1
Guidelines followed: Church appropriate dress with sleeves that’s still casual enough to wear out and about. Big fat check!
***So it looks like I’ve been doing pretty good with most exceptions being garments with fitting problems. Not too bad, Dixie. I’m gonna give myself a pat on the back for that!


Did you make any sewing resolutions this year? Or do you have any general sewing goals you want to accomplish? Sewing work appropriate clothes? Better fitting clothes? More cake, less frosting perhaps?

Speaking of the cake v. frosting idea that Tasia at Sewaholic brought up. I’m definitely a cake person. I’ve learned that I like wearing what I sew more times than it sits in the closet so it’s cake for me but I don’t think that the cake has to be boring! Take my Anouk dress or my Darling Ranges dresses. For me they’re definitely cake – clothing I need and wear often but they’re also pretty dresses with fun prints and girly shapes. Even my shirts that I’ve made are useful, wearable and pleasing to look at. If I’m going to make cake I’m at least going to mix in some cookie crumbles or add a truffle center or something. Dang, now I’ve just gone and made myself hungry…

Victory Patterns’ Lola Dress, or, red hot Valentine’s love!

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Look at me! I got all dressed up for Valentine’s Day.

I love Victory Patterns’ design style so much. This is the second pattern I’ve made from their pattern line (See my version of the Anouk dress here) – the Lola Dress – and in red! Who needs some frilly lingerie for Valentine’s Day? I’d rather have a super comfy (and super cute) sweatshirt dress!

The pattern is a twist on on your good old fashioned sweatshirt only much more stylish. I liked the curve seams which make it less boxy and the big fat side pockets are fun.

The fabric is a sweatshirt fleece from Fabric.com and the ribbing is from Joann.

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If you remember my New Years Sewing Resolutions (which BTW, I think I’m doing a pretty good job keeping up with) and what I learned from my Closet Catalogue  then you’ll notice that this dress fits many requirements: it’s a dress, it has long sleeves, it’s a solid color, it’s from an indie pattern company and it is a different style that I wouldn’t normally sew for myself.

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Let’s talk body consciousness! I’m much more inclined to make dresses with cinched-in waists or at least with a belt to define a shape. I have a slight fear of looking like a balloon in designs like this. I’m also not used to wearing such a bold color but I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone!

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You have no idea how much I love this dress. It is so comfortable but I don’t look sloppy. And, best of all, I don’t look or feel like a big fat balloon! I wear this thing all the time, and I even really like the red color. I don’t have any other dresses with a solid bright color all over. I love my Lola!

On a more technical note the dress was  fast and easy to sew and with the loose fit I didn’t have to make any adjustments. I just cut a straight size 8. The only slight problem I noticed was the neck opening in the line drawing and sample pictures seemed slightly wider than mine and the ribbing puckered a bit, although after wearing the dress so many times I never really noticed it so I guess it’s not that big of a deal. The front triangle is a nice touch. The pattern calls for serging it onto the dress but I didn’t want to figure out how to remove my serger knife so I just zig zagged it on. Still looks good!

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Justin and I have never been much for doing traditional activities for Valentine’s Day and we never really plan anything either for the event, but we always seem to do something fun. This year we explored a car graveyard which is pretty cool if you like adventure and have a fascination for the rusted and the abandoned like I do. What did you do for Valentine’s?

***In other news, I’m back to brunette. These were my last sewing related photos with purple hair. The purple lasted a good month but faded pretty badly and I was tired of not being able to wash my hair as often as I liked so today I reverted to my natural state. Goodbye purple! It was fun while it lasted!