Looking back, looking forwards (aka a brief review of 2014)

So, turns out it’s already late January, and this post, that I’ve been writing in my head for a good month now (and on the laptop for a few days) still hasn’t been written. Whoops! Time to rectify that. (And while it could be argued that it’s getting a bit late for a 2014 review post, since I’m writing this for my own benefit and reflection I’m gonna go ahead and do it anyway. 😉 )

First up, sewing.

The indie pattern kick I started on around the middle of 2013 continued, with the vast majority of things I made in 2014 being from indie designers. Papercut was the most commonly used – much as I don’t really want to be a “fan girl” of any label, I’ve kinda turned into a Papercut one. I love the thought that’s gone into the designs, collections, packaging, instructions, and website – it appeals to the same part of me that sent me down the career path I’m in (customer experience research, design and strategy, for those who may be curious). Plus, Papercut patterns fit me pretty well out of the envelope.

I did dabble with other indies though – some (like Named) I’ll happily use again. Others I probably won’t, for one reason or another.

Not much vintage got made during 2014, and towards the end of the year I was really missing using vintage patterns. But with the whole pregnancy thing, even though there were some vintage maternity patterns I wanted to make, I never quite got around to it due to time/energy levels, opting instead for faster makes (lots of tshirts, anyone?!?). So that was a bit sad, but it’s really spurred me on to get back to sewing up my vintage designs this year.

I’m still wanting to sew indie designs too (I really like supporting small businesses, and local ones as well when I can), but to be perfectly honest I’ve found quite a lot of the recent indie releases to be rather boring. 😦 So 2015 will be a far more balanced mix of vintage and indie. And I’m really looking forward to that. 🙂

My fave makes from 2014 were the following:

Cherry Ripe dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Cherry Ripe dress

Cherry Ripe dress. One of the few vintage makes for the year, and one I’m really (really!) looking forward to being able to fit into again. Love the fabric, love the style, love wearing it.

Mellow Yellow La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mellow Yellow La Sylphide

Mellow Yellow La Sylphide dress. A vintage fabric, a modern indie pattern, and buttons from holiday travels – great mix! I wore this one heaps as well (until the growing bump meant I couldn’t fit it any more). Plus, a hugely fun photo shoot with Mel when we made the same pattern together.

Simone the First dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Simone the First dress

Simone the First dress. Sure, the fit could definitely be improved, but I wasn’t really expecting to like this one all that much, as the style isn’t something I usually go for. But my gosh, this is fun to wear! It swirls and swishes out behind you as you walk, and makes you want to stride powerfully along. So, so much fun! Must make more of these….. (Yep, very much the surprise-to-me winner for the year!)

Retro Wrap skirt | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Retro Wrap skirt

Retro Wrap skirt. Another vintage pattern, and the last make of the year – to me, this skirt signified my getting back to my love of vintage sewing, and also getting back into my own style post the arrival of the littliest guy. It was such a relief to sew this – almost felt like the shackles of maternity fit were being thrown off, and I could emerge again. (Yeah, sounds crazy, but that’s how it went.) Plus, I did good and took the time to hand stitch the facing down etc, which I’m usually lazy with. So, also signifies me moving into an era of taking my time more when making things and appreciating the little details.

And the biggest losers were:

Skully Ensis tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Skully Ensis tee

Skully Ensis tee. Love the tee, love the fabric, the colours don’t love me (which admittedly I was pretty sure would be the case when I was making it up, but I really wanted to use the skulls fabric). This one got given away to a friend.

Floral Floaty Tanias | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Floral Floaty Tanias

Floaty Floral Tanias. Heck knows what’s going on with that crotch seam, but it’s miles too high. Wearing these feels like a constant wedgie. Good times. Not.

Black Cake tee | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Black Cake tee

Black Cake tee. What on earth was I thinking with this one?!?! So totally not my style! I got the pattern in the Perfect Pattern Parcel, thought I’d try it out as a maternity top. Yeah. Made myself wear it once, felt like a gigantic tent, shuddered at the thought of wearing it again, gave it away as fast as I could. Ugh. *shudder*

Reflecting on sewing itself, I’ve kinda come to the following thoughts….

I have plenty of clothes. No really, I do. Sure, I love making more, love the pretties, and it’s fun to make and wear things, but there’s nothing I need. Not really. It’s not going to stop me making more things for myself (so much pretty fabric! So many pretty patterns! So much stash to work through (eek)!!), but I may start pushing myself to make the occasional thing for other people as well (Gasp! Selfless sewing?!? Idealism, but will it become reality..??)

The things I’ve made where I’ve taken the time to add the nice details (hand stitched invisible hems, nicely hand stitched facings, tape on the inside of hems, etc) make me really happy to wear. So it’s time I slowed down, and focussed more on including more of those little touches that make me proud and happy to wear what I’ve made. (Yes, I feel proud and happy to wear my creations anyway, but those take them up to the next level. True dat.)

I hate using thin pattern tissue. Like, really. And this is a key reason why I don’t sew with modern Big 4 patterns. I hate cutting it, I hate tracing it, and I sure as heck hate refolding it and trying to cram it back into pattern envelopes. There’s just nothing good in it. Nothing at all. So I actively avoid it. (And sadly this also means I’m actively avoiding using some of the lovely indie patterns I bought, as they use the same tissue. Sewaholic and Grainline, I’m looking at you guys in particular. I has the patterns, sitting there and waiting to be made, but I shudder every time I think about dealing with the pattern tissue. 😦 Vintage patterns? If they’re already cut, they’re all good. (Otherwise, I don’t use ’em.) Other indies, where they use thicker paper? (E.g. Named, Papercut, Deer & Doe) Yep, bring it on. (Interestingly, it turns out I hate working with thin pattern tissue far more than I dislike cutting and sticking together PDF patterns. Chances are there’ll be a bunch more PDF ones in my future. In fact, it’s almost kinda relaxing, assembling PDF patterns….)

Right, now let’s talk about knitting!

This was a new thing for me in 2014. I made my first cardigan! And then a second, and a third, and even a fourth. Woo hoo! I admit it – I avoided knitting for ages, thinking it’d be super boring and that I’d tire of things well before finishing them. I’m pleased to say I’ve proven myself wrong. I am a knitting convert, and now valiently trying to resist building a yarn stash to rival my fabric stash.

My first cardigan was the Autumn Playground Miette – I’m super proud of this because, hey, first cardgain! Woot!

Autumn Playground Miette | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Autumn Playground Miette

But it doesn’t fit (rookie mistakes, lol) and I’m actually going to rip it apart and use the wool for something else.

But still – first cardigan! Yay! 🙂

I’m trying to learn something new with every knitting pattern I make, and so far that’s going well – lace work, picking up stitches to knit, cables, and working with different colours. So far I’ve only made patterns by Andi Satterlund, which is quite a cliched place to start, but I like her style and they’re working well for me. I’ll be branching out soon though – there’s a bunch of others in my Ravelry queue/favourites, and I’m also going to challenge myself to make a vintage 1940’s pattern this year as well. (Although I’m somewhat terrified at how long that will take, working with 4ply instead of 10ply!)

And what about other things?

I’m still co-hosting The Monthly Stitch, and enjoying it a lot, although I do feel a bit bad that I haven’t been as active in the challenges as I’d like. (Again, pregnancy, so lack of energy.) I’m hoping to get more going in The Monthly Stitch this year – we has plans, yes we do!

Changed jobs earlier in the year (in fact, I started my new job the week after I found out I was pregnant. Whoops! Not the best timing in the world!). I’m now working in the electricity sector, after having worked in finance for over 7 years. It’s kinda nice to be thinking about different things, and I’m working for a small start-up-like company, which is fun and frustrating at the same time, and surrounded by rather awesome people.

Started up Muse Patterns, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now. In fact, I had planned to start it while on maternity leave with our first child, but then the reality of having a child sunk in and all hopes of doing anything else vanished. So this time, I made sure I launched before going on maternity leave, so the impetus was already there! I’m really happy with how Muse is going so far – I’ve always loved creating patterns, the technical aspect combined with the creative makes me happy, and it kinda ties together what I do for a living with my main hobby, as I get to think about and create experiences through developing instructions, etc. It’s been a while since I’ve done much with pattern making (since I discovered the joys of sewing with vintage patterns, in fact!) so it’s great to get back into that as well. Three patterns out so far, a fourth in the works, and four (nearly five!) more designed and waiting to be created. I’m hoping to be able to launch paper patterns this year, too, so we’ll see how it goes. One thing I’ve really enjoyed with Muse is being able to use it as a platform to give a little back, and that’s something that will continue.

And the biggest thing during 2014 (of course) – this little guy!


He’s awesome. Such a happy, chilled out little fellow. Good for lots of cuddles, lots of smiles, and loves watching his big brother whenever he can. The two boys have such completely different personalities – it’s going to be a lot of fun watching them grow and develop and seeing how they interact, how they do things differently, and who they turn out to be!

(Speaking of those personalities, sadly it turned out that the name we chose for our little guy didn’t suit who he is. So he’s had a name change – meet Fox! 🙂 (Cue X-Files and “What does the fox say” jokes.) His new name suits him a heck of a lot more, and also ties in with the inadvertant theme of animal names that we seem to have going on….

So yeah, there we have it. A quick (yet still ramblingly long!) look back at 2014, and a few comments on 2015. No real goals or the like, more general ideas of things I’d like to do. Sew more vintage; develop more patterns; create physical pattern experiences (i.e. paper patterns and the designing of an experience that goes with those, which is something that excites me a lot); start to knit vintage; and slow down the creating in order to focus on the details. I’m rather looking forward to it all. 🙂

28 responses to “Looking back, looking forwards (aka a brief review of 2014)

  1. What a great year! Congratulations 🙂

  2. What a cute picture of your boys! Your Cherry Ripe dress is my favourite

    • Thanks Kerry! 🙂 I love my Cherry Ripe dress, may have to make that pattern again when my waist returns properly… 😉

  3. i love that pic of your boys. will be great to see you getting back to your vintage roots – your vintage makes are my favourite! and i reckon late review posts are totally acceptable – i only did mine yesterday!

    • Thanks! 🙂

      I’m really, really looking forward to working more with vintage patterns this year. So many in my to-sew queue, haha! It’s going to be a real mix of indie and vintage on here this year, or that’s the plan!

  4. I had no idea that’s what you’re ‘day job’ is – but it also makes total sense too! I think 2014 was a pretty epic one for you and I seriously admire everything that you managed to achieve in it. Your two boys are gorgeous as well. Here’s to 2015!

  5. What a great year for you. 🙂 I love the name Fox and I love that you changed it when you felt it didn’t suit him. 🙂

  6. wow what a year! I am so impressed you can knit. I really love your yellow dress. Having just ventured back to the blog life i’m over the moon to see your own patterns. You are a inspiration.

    • Thanks Charlotte! 😀 Good to see you back in blogging land – I’ve missed you! Hope you’ll be back posting on your blog this year, too?

  7. Well I for one am particularly looking forward to the “develop new patterns” side of things!

    Sounds like you had a darned good year, though – hope that goodness continues on to 2015

    • Ha ha well you’ll be one of the first to know about any upcoming releases! 😉 (Secret squirrel like, natch, coz that’s how we roll. 😉 )

  8. I really love retrospective posts as they get away from the initial love or hate of a garment and into the I actually wear this. The Jenna and Gillian patterns are on my list of things to make this year so looking forward to the future patterns too!

    • That’s why I like them, too – what’s actually worked (or not) once the “oooh shiney new!” has worn off. 😉

  9. So much stuff for one year! Color me impressed.

    I can’t wait to see the new patterns!

  10. A busy and fun year for you! It is fun seeing it all laid out. Don’t worry about it being late!

  11. Love following your blog and the things you make. You probably already know this but I am just putting it out there regarding thin tissue paper patterns – use iron on interfacing to back them. More stability to use and store. Best wishes Rachael

    • Thanks! 🙂

      I keep meaning to try the iron on interfacing trick, but still haven’t gotten around to it. (Note to self: finally get around to buying a big roll of interfacing….!)

  12. Fox is such a cute name and such a cute little guy! Your two dudes are absolutely darling! You made some great stuff this year, but your Cherry Ripe dress is particularly fabulous! I’m with you regarding thin pattern tissue… I’m much to hamfisted to work with anything so delicate, and if a piece manages to escape me and float to the ground, my dog eats it! Ack!

    • Aww thanks lady! We’re pretty fond of the two of them. 😉

      Yikes, dogs make it even worse to work with thin pattern tissue! One of my cats used to try and pounce on it while I was cutting out – took forever to break her of that habit. That stuff shreads disturbingly easy… :-/

  13. “the shackles of maternity fit” doesn’t sound crazy at all. i think you’ve perfectly described that period of awkward fitting clothes and the often forced change in style. a collective yay for the beautiful moment when we finally pass-on our maternity togs 🙂
    gosh, you’ve done AMAZING things in 2014!!! i think you must have special access to an extra 7 hours in each day to accomplish everything 😉 i’m so excited to see your next patterns!
    and i hope those little baby slippers held-up well enough for fox to crawl around in 🙂

    • Oh yes, I was rather exciting this morning to discover one of my button-up shirts fits me again – bring on that freedom from maternity shapelessness! Yippie!! 🙂

      The slippers held up wonderfully – they’re gonna look so cute on Fox when he fits them! (Which may be rather soon, considering how fast he’s growing. Yikes!)

  14. As others have said, what an amazing year for you! I am REALLY looking forward to the paper patterns. I don’t like the electronic format at all. I know, very old school, but that’s me. Wishing you all the best!

    • Thanks Lara! 🙂

      I’m really looking forward to paper patterns as well, I’ve got so many ideas floating around in my head for how I want them to look. Hopefully within the next six months! 🙂

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