2016 in Review: Reflections and Plans

It’s that time of year: Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow is hosting her annual Top 5 event, a chance to look back at your sewing year and evaluate yourself. Last year I wrote just one post evaluating my “year”, but I’m breaking 2016 into a handful of posts: my hits and misses of the year, a round-up of how my Sew 16 goals turned out, and today: my reflections on the year and plans for the future.

Towards the end of 2016 I made some major changes to what and how I sew. When fall came and I had to put away my summer dresses (one of my hits of 2016), I found myself in a wardrobe slump – I’m perfectly happy with my uniform of skirt+top+cardigan every day, but somehow I just couldn’t put together me-made outfits that made me happy. Gradually I realized why:


Above is a picture of fabric scraps from everything I’ve sewn in the past few years. Below are the fabrics of the garments  I wear most often and really enjoy wearing.


See the difference? The things I like to sew were not the things I like to wear. I like to sew bright colors, flowery prints, crisp cottons, flowing Marcy-Tilton-style dresses and tunics, look-at-me original garments. I like to wear black and navy, solid colors and muted textures, knits, fitted garments, blend-into-the-background garments. So the first mindset I changed was to replace “I want to sew that!” with “I want to wear that!”

In a similar vein, I need to plan better that I want to sew, and plan how it will fit into my existing wardrobe. I was greatly inspired by The Vivienne Files and used her series of posts about building a wardrobe from scratch to make up an imaginary capsule wardrobe for myself, based on the pieces I wear most anyway. Going through the steps was a great way of evaluating what I have, planning how I can wear it, and seeing what is missing.


wardrobe building - black, gray, wine and mustard


Now that I have a plan, I’ve been making steady progress on it. And it’s a great feeling knowing that instead of sewing garments, I’m sewing a wardrobe.


wardrobe building - black, gray, wine and mustard (1)


One thing I like about The Vivienne Files’ approach to wardrobe building is the idea of “core” sets in the same color. If I have a selection of tops, skirts, cardigan, dresses, etc in a single color, then a garment in an accent color becomes much easier to wear. But it means that first I should focus on building up my core sets, and then later add in the accent pieces. Instead of buying interesting fabrics – you know, those ones that catch your eye with their unusual colors and then sit in the stash unused for years – I need to buy fabrics in my core colors.

Likewise, I should be less hesitant about sewing duplicates of garments I know I like and wear. Instead of “I already have a black skirt!” I should try “Would a longer / slimmer / more formal black skirt be equally useful?”


wardrobe building 2 - navy core


My last resolution has to do with quality of garments, and letting things go when they’ve done their duty. Those boots with the little tiny I-can-pretend-invisible-but-not-really holes at the heel, that top with the hem falling down, that stretched-out sweater with pills… I wouldn’t give them to a friend or consider them nice enough for donation, so what am I doing putting them on my body? I rarely feel good wearing ratty clothes, so I’m changing my mindset from “Is this nice enough for me to wear?” to “Is this nice enough that I would loan it to a friend without shame?”

So those 5 mindsets are my main goals for the future. I’m curious to see where my wardrobe will be a year from now! As for concrete sewing plans, here’s my montage for Lucky Lucille’s #2017makenine:

make 9

See you in 2017!

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2 Responses to 2016 in Review: Reflections and Plans

  1. Wendy says:

    Great insight, Emily. I love the methodical way you are approaching your upcoming sewing projects.

  2. gilliancrafts says:

    Those are lovely plans! I find have a wardrobe colour scheme SO helpful – I almost never end up with wardrobe orphans any more! I hope you find the same!

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