best/worst makes of 2018, & January challenges!

Let’s talk about my top five makes of 2018. Kind of tough to narrow it down, honestly! I made some pretty good stuff:

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1) Swoon Patterns Nora bag. This pattern has been on my to-do list for a couple of years. I laid in supplies to make it back in 2016. But my Noodlehead Supertote has been such a workhorse, I just kept procrastinating on making another bag. The Supertote finally started falling apart, so I made the Nora bag. I love it! Swoon Patterns are always trustworthy & create really sharp-looking, functional bags. The only thing I would change is the strap width. I made the biggest size, the traveler, & I think the 1″ straps look a little dinky. They function, they’re comfortable enough (I made sure to lengthen the straps enough that I could easily swing it over my shoulder), but they just look a little disproportionate to me.

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2) black embellished Jenna cardigan. This was one of my first finishes in 2018. I knew a cropped black cardigan would work with everything in my closet. Unfortunately, the iron-on appliques I used started to peel off after the very first wash, & I was incredibly lazy about stitching them down, even though I love hand-stitching. I finally set aside a couple of hours & did it this fall, & this sweater has been in near-constant rotation ever since.

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3) black speckled Hudson pants. I just finished these lounge pants in November, but I’ve been wearing them almost daily. (I’m wearing them right now!) The speckled French terry is slightly more elevated than solid black, & the pink trim is my absolute favorite shade. I really took care with my sewing & it’s near-flawless. I even wear these out to run errands, do school drop-off, etc, because I feel like they almost pass as real pants. My only quibble is the weird pocket shape–it’s too long & low for my body shape. It’s not as egregious as it was on my first pair of Hudson pants, because this French terry is a lot more stable than the quilted sweatshirting I used before, & I also used a woven for the pocket bag instead of cotton jersey. But it’s still odd & annoying.


4) Vogue dress for Alex. I spared no effort in fitting & constructing this dress, & I’m really proud of it! It fits Alex perfectly, it suits her style to a tee, & it is flawlessly sewn. The only thing that irks me is the topstitching at the hem & armscyes. I wish I’d taken the time to catch-stitch them hems by hand. But that would have added time, & thus expense, to the piece, & Alex seems happy with the topstitching, so I just have to let it go.


5) pink leather sandals. To be perfectly honest, I am not 100% in love with the look or fit of these sandals. I just don’t like open-toed shoes, & as the leather relaxes with wear, the fit of the shoe gets looser & a little bit floppy. Something about my right foot seems to pull to the inside, so it’s difficult to keep my foot centered in the footbed in an open shoe style like this. BUT…I made shoes, mothafucka! How unbelievably awesome is that?!

& now for the real fun. These were my top five fails:

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1) On the Go bag. I so wanted this bag to work! I love the trendy teardrop shape & easy one-shoulder sling bag strap element. Unfortunately, it was just a poorly-conceived design. It came from a book called On the Go Bags, which I thankfully got from the library. With no gusset or shaping, the finished bag wastwo-dimensional–just a front & a back sewn together. There was no depth, so it could really carry anything. I saw it coming, but I was in denial that a bag designer with a book contract would come up with such an impractical design. I used the bag exactly once, hated everything about it, & took it apart to harvest it for parts. I mean, that applique is too gorgeous to squander it on this dumpster fire!


2) striped houndstooth Lander shorts. Surprise fail! I made the full-length Lander pants out of cotton twill & my only quibble with the fit was that that the full-length was just a mite short on me extra-long legs. The houndstooth denim I used for the shorts was a lot beefier, & thus, it highlighted every single problem with the crotch draft. People love this pattern, but I will shout it from the rooftops: the crotch curve, especially in front, is straight up weird. (I have found this to be true of other True Bias patterns as well.) The front crotch hook is very straight & incredibly shallow, it doesn’t seem like it’s properly trued with the back hook, & the result is that the crotch wants to pull backward. In a shorts hem length, this meant that the entire garment was pulling backward, cutting into the fronts of my thighs & making it really uncomfortable to sit down. I have proportionally slim thighs, so this was a completely unforeseen problem for me. It was weird. I think the draft is for people with a lot more junk in the trunk than me, so the distribution of width was just all wrong. These shorts went straight into the donation bin.


3) Itch to Stitch Liana jeans. I wanted these to work! I really did! I love the variety of cuts for the leg! But these were a Chernobyl-level dsaster. The “mid-rise” was way too low for me–which is odd, given that I have a shorter-then-average torso. The drafting was a hot mess. The crotch seam wasn’t trued, like…at all. Which made construction a nightmare. The pockets were all super-tiny (even in the sample photos modeled by the designer, you can see the pockets look weirdly small on her, & she is a small person), & while I actually did like the way the cut of the lower leg looked on me, I wouldn’t classify it as “straight”. There was no salvaging these.


4) blue & black heart cut-out panties. (Yeah, that’s my butt. #dealwithit)The big fail here was that I did a super-cute butt cut-out on these panties, filled in with sheer, lightweight black tricot. Which was shredded into a wispy haunted mess the very first time they were washed. Duh. Should have seen that coming! 2018 was basically the year I threw a lit match into my lingerie drawer. I’ve made some bras in the past with sheer tricot upper cup panels & it’s never been a problem because I am careful to wash my handmade bras by hand. But a couple of them got mixed into the regular laundry this year & were absolutely destroyed, just like these panties. I’m a dummy sometimes. It doesn’t really matter if you can make your own clothes if you can’t take care of them properly, hello!

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5) beige & white Ingrid bra. (Yes, those are my boobs. Looking their absolute worst.) This was a pattern test, so I made no alterations & didn’t use pretty fabric, so maybe it’s not 100% fair to call this a fail. I feel like I have nice boobs though, & this bra makes them look like they belong to a 1000-year-old witch who lives in a tree & subsists solely on a diet of reindeer jerky & baby rabbits. I keep it around for days when I feel like I should wear a bra but really don’t want to, but…let’s be real. It’s hideous.

As long as we’re here, let’s do a quick round-up of January 2019 sewing challenges. Let me know if I missed any!

  • I’ll start with my own personal favorite. The Monthly Stitch‘s January challenge is “seasonally inappropriate”: sew something that isn’t suited to your current climate.
  • #makenine2019: long-standing annual challenge started by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille. This is an easy one. Just choose nine new-to-you patterns you hope to execute during the new year.
  • #sewtwistsandties: a fun challenge from Meg of Cookin’ & Craftin’. Sew a pattern that features some kind of twist, knot, or tie feature! This is a huge trend right now & there are dozens of patterns to choose from!
  • Pattern Review is launching two contests in January. Activewear will run from January 1-31, & the hotly-anticipated Sewing Bee opens on January 11.
  • #sewmystyle2019 is a go! January’s challenge is unusually open-ended: anything goes work-out gear. Any pattern counts, for men, women, or children! More info can be found on Maddie’s blog. She’s the coordinator this year.
  • Bra-Makers Supply is hosting the Ultimate Bra-Makers Challenge again in 2019. January’s theme is We’ve Got Your Back, focusing on creative design for the backs of your handmade lingerie pieces.
  • The Self-Sewn Wardrobe FB community is beginning its second year of monthly challenges. January will focus on Sewing Spaces, with a concurrent challenge to achieve 31 Days of Sewing! Everything counts, from planning to organizing to cutting to sewing! The goal is just to get into your sewing space & do something!
  • The 52-Week Sewing Challenge is another FB group, focused on weekly challenges. January 1-6 is Organize Your Sewing Space, January 7-13 is Sew a UFO, January 14-20 is Sew a Pattern You Own But Have Never Tried, January 21-27 is Sew Something Red, & January 28-February 3 is Sew Something with Fancy Seams.
  • The 100 Items Sewing Challenge is another FB group with even more open-ended goals. Simply sew 100 items in 2019.
  • Sewalongs & Sewing Contests in another FB group which hosts a monthly challenge. Their Capsule Quartet Challenge (create a four-piece outfit/capsule) opens on January 1.
  • Let’s Sew Fancy Pants is a month-long challenge to–wait for it–sew some pants. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must also post a video of yourself dancing in them. Might be worth it, the prize packages are pretty jaw-dropping.
  • As far as I can tell, #sew3unsewn is a gentle, year-long challenge. The goal is to simply tackle three categories of project in 2019: a pattern you’ve purchased but never used, a fabric you’ve stashed away, & a project started but never finished (UFO–unfinished object).


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.

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