I guess I’ll reflect on 2016 after all.

Okay, I guess I’m going to go ahead & do a 2016 sewing wrap-up after all. I spent the last few days catching up on all the sewing blogs I haven’t read since like mid-November & I guess it inspired me.


  1. feminist indigo Ginger jeans img_1012I haven’t blogged them yet (working on it), but I am obsessed with the third pair of Ginger jeans I made. I absolutely nailed the fit this time & I wear them literally almost everyday.
  2. pink sleeveless gingham M6696 shirtdressIMG_9977Mysteriously, this dress came out bigger than all my previous M6696 shirtdresses, but that wound up only being a good thing as the looser fit, sleevelessness, & seersucker fabric made it a dream for hot weather. I wore it constantly all summer.
  3. polka dot shorty overalls 27747416030_a215f12a90_z
    Who knew I’d end up wearing something polka dotted so often? I guess it helps that they really pindots. These filled a gigantic shorts-shaped hole in my me-made wardrobe, with the bonus that I could get away with not wearing a bra & no one really had to know. Basically, if I wasn’t wearing my pink gingham shirtdress & the weather was over 75 degrees, I was wearing these.
  4. Mariner pa’u skirt        IMG_0829Or this. Maybe I spent the summer cycling through only three different looks, but it’s tough to branch out when they are all so comfortable & easy, yet stylish.
  5. Vintage Valentine Shelley bra & undies IMG_0392
    I made a lot of bra & undies sets this year, but oddly, this set is my fave. I wouldn’t have anticipated that, given that it is very frilly, bordering on downright impractical. Also, red, polka dots, & flowers, three things that are not at all my usual go-to choices. But if I have to wear a bra, this is the one I reach for first, & I love pairing it with the matching undies. It’s really comfortable & the fit is perfect.


  1. black velveteen Luffa jacket (never blogged on its own)IMG_0494I really, really, really should have muslined this jacket properly. I did some alterations to make it a little bigger & just slightly longer, & it was a giant fail that completely fucked up the style lines. & it’s lined, so fixing it will involve a lot of unpicking. & the lining is pretty jacked up too. I had a hell of a time getting it to lie flat & it pulls the hem in a few places. I don’t think I have worn it out of the house once.
  2. black glitter chambray Marigold dress (I don’t even have a photo of this thing, because that is how long I can stand it to be against my skin)
    Such high hopes! I’d been hoarding this gorgeous black glittery chambray for just the right project! I used really pretty crystal buttons & made the sleeves out of scalloped lace! But there’s a reason I’ve never blogged it. The fabric is so itchy, I have to tear it off my body after wearing it for thirty seconds & then rip all my skin off because I am so uncomfortable. I guess I could address this by making a slip to wear under it, but the waist is also just high enough to make me miserable every time I have to move in it.
  3. black corduroy Alberta skirt  27635042483_e5f337572d_z
    Turns out I was right. I don’t wear pencil skirts. I’ve tried this skirt on a few times with the intention of wearing it, but I always feel weird & immediately change into something else.
  4. gray twill Ginger jeans27452113904_f3831e0c53_zThese are more or less fine, I guess, but there’s something about the hem that really bothers me. It’s like 1/8″ too short or something. It’s maddening. I still wear them though. Just not nearly as much as I expected to.
  5. black & fuchsia Shelley braIMG_0167Major bummer alert! This bra is so pretty, & I’m so proud of the construction. But the straps dig into my shoulders like whoa. This is the last bra I reach for, & I have so many self-sewn sets now, that means I never reach for it. I think the issue is that I made the straps from one layer of Duoplex lined with sheer tricot. It’s just not enough support.


  1. I entered the Bust Out the Bras bra-making contest organized by Bramakers Supply & placed third in my category! That was pretty damn thrilling, especially given that I entered only like the fifth bra I’d ever sewn (the Vintage Valentine set). I also really cleaned up during Indie Pattern Month at the Monthly Stitch, placing in four of the five challenges I entered.
  2. I learned to cross stitch! I love it so much, & it has been so helpful with my anxiety.
  3. Ramona started preschool & she absolutely loves it. She’s making friends learning new things & getting to do all kinds of super-fun stuff she probably wouldn’t get to do if it was all on me to arrange it. & it’s really nice for me to get a little breather a couple of times a week.
  4. I guess I never mentioned this, but Jared & I went to see Flight of the Conchords live back in July. We got delicious Ethiopian food before & the show was really fun. My friend Rebecca babysat for us, & when we got home, she had basically reorganized the entire downstairs of our house so it looked like a spread from “Real Simple” magazine. It was incredible.
  5. Jared got his PhD! Such an amazing accomplishment! & Ramona got to see him graduate! She was a real trooper for sticking it out through a ridiculously long ceremony that started at her usual bedtime. She stills talks all the time about how graduation parties are a lot of fun because you get to eat ice cream. (We went out for ice cream after the ceremony. She got blueberry ice cream.)


  1. I mean, 2016 kind of sucked, let’s face it. On a personal level, we started off the year with frozen pipes because our landlord had never heard of insulating tape, & we ended it with a cancer diagnosis & plans for a hysterectomy. Mixed in there was a whole mess of shittiness, from moving into a too-small house to Trump winning the election. The phrase “dumpster fire” comes to mind.
  2. But I tried to up my parenting game this year. I enrolled Ramona in a no-parents-allowed drop-off gymnastics class & she loved it. That gave me the courage to enroll her in preschool. I love watching her become more herself & more independent, but I also love that she is still such a cuddlebug.
  3. My sewing skills have demonstrably improved. My fourth sewiversary is this spring & it blows my mind how much I have learned in such a short time (not that I am now a master couturier). Sewing was fun when I was just starting out, but it’s fun in a different way now that I can zip through a project & not spend an entire month on it because I have a million mistakes to fix.
  4. I need to accept that I can’t do everything. Before I sewed, I read A LOT. I tried to maintain that pace, but it’s just not possible. Throw some cross stitch into the mix, & the demands of an active young child (I started sewing when Ramona was a tiny baby who just slept all the time)…I need to just pace myself with the time I have & not expect that I’m going to be able to spend two hours at the playground & finish a cross stitch project & sew a pair of jeans start to finish & finish my book club book in a single day. (This is totally a throwback to all of my unresolved “I don’t work” guilt that pushes me to try to make it up with volunteering or “being productive” somehow, even though there is a perfectly good reason that I don’t work: I can’t hold down a job due to depression & anxiety, so why should I expect those things not to bog me down when I try to be “productive” in my own way?)
  5. Have I mentioned that I love cross stitch? BECAUSE I LOVE IT! I’m working on a waste canvas project right now & all those teeny tiny holes definitely up the difficulty factor, but it’s still really fun.


  1. I still have two big wardrobe holes I need to fill with self-sewns. There are two garments that I wear constantly, that I did not make: my hoodie, & these snuggly black sweatpants that are super-comfy jammies on cold night. I’ve been on the hunt for a hoodie pattern for a while, but have had trouble finding anything that doesn’t have a bunch of extraneous bells & whistles.
  2. Maybe branch out from black? I swear, 80% of my wardrobe is black. The project I am working on right now is black. I’ve heard people say they don’t wear black tops because it’s too harsh a color so close to their faces, & I was like, “Pffft, amateur.” But I watched this little video that Jared took of us the other day, in which I am wearing my trusty black hoodie & black Ginger jeans, & I was like, “Hmmm, that is a bit much.” Maybe make a pink hoodie?
  3. Cross stitch a portrait from each of Ramona’s birthdays. I already did her birth portrait, & I’ve started her first birthday portrait. I have photos to copy chosen for her second, third, & fourth birthdays. Kind of a weird project, because those portraits are a ton of work & all I’m going to do with them is hang them on the wall, & when Ramona gets to be, like, 14, she’s going to be like, “Ugh, Mom, stop being so obsessed with me.” But whatever! When she’s, like, 35, she’ll be like, “Wow, my mom really loved me.” (I hope.) (Also hoping she won’t be talking about me in the past tense, as I will only be 68 then.)
  4. Accept that at least the first half of this year is going to be tough. I’m three weeks out from my first cancer surgery & just starting to feel better-ish. It’s still pretty easy to over-do it. But I’m having a hysterectomy next month & that’s going to be a pretty big deal. I’ve heard that standard recovery time is around two months, & some people don’t really feel all the way better until they’re a year out. & then I will have to get used to the changes that come with being uterus-less. I get to keep my ovaries, so I won’t be plunged into menopause, but I expect there’s still going to be some weird stuff to get used to. It’s hard, for me & for Jared & Ramona (poor Jared has picked up so much of my slack in the last few months), but I need to accept that the #1 priority is to just get through this & get healthy again.
  5. Keep the fabric stash at net-zero for the year. I started tracking fabric in & out last year & it was depressing. I think I ended the year 25 yards up (though, in my defense, I barely sewed anything for the last few months due to being so sick). So much fabric compulsively purchased & earmarked for a very specific projects, all necessary threads & notions procured…& then everything just languished in the stash. I did sew a lot last year, I achieved my goal of making one new thing (even if it was just a simple t-shirt) every week, on average. But I have enough fabric & all attendant notions, patterns, etc, to see me through at least six months without having to buy anything new. Maybe longer. I’m not going to force myself to resist the lure of the new & shiny completely (for instance, I don’t have any pink sweatshirt fleece for that proposed pink hoodie…), but I am going to make a real effort to sew what I buy, or at least sew equivalent yardage from the stash.


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

16 thoughts on “I guess I’ll reflect on 2016 after all.

    1. Yeah, I actually considered putting the Jasper on my top five because I made it last winter & wear it all the time. I’m just looking for something more basic, with a zipper. Obviously I could hack something, & it could be really nice with those princess seams, but I really want something I can throw on everyday that isn’t as much of a statement as the Jasper is.

      The Alberta skirt would be a dream garment if I wore pencil skirts. It was fun to sew & turned out great. It’s just not the silhouette for me.

  1. I reckon your M6696 came out bigger because of the seersucker. It’s got a bit more give than other wovens, and you’d be surprised how much that can affect the fit. I also find when I sew with more loosely woven fabrics, or fabrics with give, they tend to stretch out at the waist seam. Which is probably a rookie mistake on my behalf, but I’m usually thankful for the extra ease, so meh.

  2. I loved this post and I’m glad you made it. 🙂 When you find the perfect hoodie, I’m there. I’ve been on the hunt for a while. I also like the idea of just taking a t-shirt or sweater pattern, like the Jasper, and making it into a zip front hoodie.

    I’m excited to see what you make this year. I hope your recovery goes okay for the surgery. ❤

    1. Have you checked out Bootstrap or Lekala for hoodies yet? That was going to be my next step. I haven’t done it yet because those sites are a lot to navigate.

      I do have the Named Augusta hoodie pattern. (I won it during Indie Pattern Month.) It’s for a snap front instead of a zip, but that could be changed fairly easily. It’s also raglan sleeves, which isn’t really my favorite, but…it’s fine. The real issue is the pitiful size range. I’m not sure I want to grade a hoodie pattern, you know?

      Anyway, thanks for the well wishes on the surgery!

      1. I was just checking Bootstrap and Lekala, but haven’t gotten through them yet to see if there was anything I liked. The last time I used their patterns, though, it was a disaster. I’m hesitant to use them again.

        1. I’ve never tried them. I thought something as basic as a hoodie might be a good starting point. Why do people feel the need to gin up the basics?

          1. Sometimes I like interesting details in basics and fun things, but I definitely love a classic hoodie. I made M6614, but the ease in it is ridiculous and the pockets are super tiny. It’s not bad though, if you can find it for super cheap and size way down.

  3. Great post, and maximum respect for your amazing attitude re the challenges that 2016 threw at you.
    Surely you would be able to self draft a hoodie pattern using your fav as a template?

    1. Eh, I’m doing my best & editing out the worst of it. After my last oncology appointment, which was really all good news, I had to call our sitter to let her know we were on our way. But my phone was buried at the bottom of my bag & I had a total meltdown while I was digging it out. I actually collapsed on to the ground & started sobbing hysterically. I think it was a release of all the emotions I’ve been holding on to while I waited to see how invasive & serious the cancer was. The oncologist didn’t do anything more than clip the sutures from the last surgery (which…think about it…sutures in your cervix? Yes, it hurt a lot), but I went straight to bed when we got home. I was just exhausted.

      I did think about using my current hoodie as a template…I even have a ratty old one I could sacrifice to the cause & actually take apart. We’ll see if it comes to that.

  4. Im slowly catching up on commenting on blog posts after being mostly off the internet over the New Year. I had a bunch of yours marked and now I can’t remember what I wanted to say to them, specifically? So I guess I will just say, I am so glad the cancer news is good news, even though the good news is still scary and I’m still sorry you have to go through the treatment. I’m glad it’s not more. It’s a heck of a lot to deal with.

    I love the cross stitching portraits idea. I can’t wait to see them! Cross stitching was my first craft and I loved it so much. So soothing! Honestly I loved reading about what order you are doing your colours in, etc. Brought it all back. I got so good at having neat backs, too! Tbh cross stitching got me through some shit in my childhood. Self medicating with crafting since 1988! Hooray!

    Anyway I wish I had time to do more of it but I’ve just accepted, like you, that I can’t. I basically have to pick a craft I can do, and mostly it’s sewing and sometimes it’s knitting. Maybe one day I’ll have time to do more but with working that’s about it – I barely read anymore either. That’s life I guess. We’re limited by the practicalities of our bodies and of time. Sometimes I’m hard on myself and feel weak because other people can work and do all these things, and THEY have kids and I don’t! Why can’t I do everything? I just can’t, though, and I try not to get in my head about it. That just makes it worse. Being kind to oneself is hard sometimes.

  5. Nice work! I’ve really enjoyed watching your sewing skills grow and flourish. I couldn’t sew half the stuff you’ve made!

    2016 was certainly a dumpster fire of a year. I hope that 2017 is better for all of us, especially you, Jared, and Ramona!

    1. Thanks! Though I did just write a post about a sewing project that did not turn out so well, mostly because I just made mistake on top of mistake. They can’t all be winners!

      The upcoming inauguration is terrifying, but there are other things happening on a personal level that are hopeful. I’m really looking forward to putting this whole cancer thing behind me, though recovery from the hysterectomy is going to be long & difficult. But Ramona has been invited to move up to the afternoon preschool class a few months early, & they even have a full-time spot for her! I think this will be good for her, because obviously preschool is a lot more fun than I am right now, & for me & Jared, because it will give us some time to rest when we really need it.

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