Top 5 of 2013: Reflections, Inspirations, & Goals

Hi, guys!  Hope your New Year’s Eve celebrations are safe and joyous!  My New Year’s Eve’s tend to be quiet and introspective, despite the fact that I’m neither quite nor introspective.  It’s nice to pause in the midst of the holiday madness and reflect on the year past and the year to come– I think I need a little thoughtful time before embarking on another sure-to-be chaotic year!  So today I wanted to share my 2013 reflections, inspirations, and goals.

Reflections: I thought it would be fun to revisit my goals for 2013 and see how I did!

  • Organize my sewing space! Check!  If this was the only goal I accomplished all year, I’d still be happy!  My sewing area was completely and totally out of control, unorganized, and uncomfortable.  We saved up and bought a nice table that has just enough room for my sewing machine, serger, and rotary mat, and I put together a cube storage system for fabric, scraps, UFOs, and odds and ends.  I added a little rolling tray from IKEA for extra storage, and Man Friend gave me a lovely rolling chair for my birthday in November, which really completed the setup.  This setup replaces my previous, ultra-elegant system of two folding card tables and a pile of Mood bags.  I feel SO much saner, happier, and more productive now that I’m not working in the middle of an awful mess.
  • Sew pants!  Total fail– never got around to this.  This year went by at an insane pace, and I never even came close to starting this.
  • Sew a jacket! Check!  I started out 2013 making my Colette Anise jacket.  It was the slowest sewing that I did all year, but it was nice to make something that took more time and care.  I don’t think I’ll ever become a tailoring junkie, but it was fun to make this.  Looking back on this, the fit isn’t perfect (the sleeves are baggier than I wish they were), but it was a great learning project.

  • Identify and make pieces that I’ll reach for over and over again.  Check!  OK, not every garment fits in this category, but I was really excited this summer to hit a stride for a moment when I made 3 or 4 garments close together that really suit my lifestyle and work for me (my Victoria blazer, my Moss Mini skirt, and my Archer shirt).  This will sound really geeky, but it was really thrilling to make things that I would want to buy RTW.
  • Avoid overcommitment! Check minus?  On the one hand, I deserve a check because I opted out of some REALLY super fun sewalongs and pattern testing projects that I wanted to do, but knew in my heart I couldn’t get done.  On the other hand, signing up for a patternmaking class was a colossal failure in the overcommitment department, so maybe I average out to a “C” grade?  While it was sad to skip out on so much fun, I felt much calmer with fewer self-imposed deadlines.
  • Make a sloper!  Check minus again?  This was a #sewingdare from Gillian, and I *sort* of fulfilled it in that I MADE, tested, and drafted from a sloper, but I failed in that the sloper fit a dress form instead of me!  Unfortunately, my patternmaking class made me realize how much tinkering goes into fitting a sloper, even when you draft from careful, careful measurements, so I don’t think I’ll attempt one for myself unless I can find a measuring/fitting buddy who wants to do this together.
  • Sew from my stash!  Check!  Out of 29 projects this year, I sewed 10 garments from my stash.  Considering that 12 projects had to use new fabric (for the Mood Sewing Network), that means I only purchased new fabric for 7 other garments.  Not too bad, although I could do better.  I did a major clear-out of my stash in the spring, so I was left with only pieces that I really love and want to use, so I was thrilled every time I made something with one of these favorites.  I worked hard to shop from my stash for every non-Mood project, but sometimes I just didn’t have anything appropriate.

Stash-busting at its finest!

In some ways, this was a disappointing year for me.  I had a really, really busy year with work, and my patternmaking class in the fall really sucked up an insane amount of time.  I had so many plans this year for fun garments I wanted to make, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

At the same time, this year was really exciting.  I felt for the first time like I was sewing for myself, who I really am.  I had fun thinking about my style and considering which garments would really work for me.  It was also exciting to push myself more and branch out from dresses and tops into jackets and swimwear.  Sometimes it was ugly and messy, but it was nice to keep learning this year.

Inspirations: I’m just so thankful for all of you bloggers who inspire me every day!  Every time I open up my blogroll, I’m just so amazed by what you guys make.  Thanks for being so incredible!

I’m feeling pretty brain-dead at the moment, so I don’t have a list of 5 inspirations, but I wanted to give a special shout-out to Carolyn.  I was lucky enough to get to know her a bit this year, and she is just so inspiring.  She has tons and tons of sewing experience, and is really gracious about sharing her wisdom.  Thanks to her, I now know to keep my eyes peeled in the fabric store for special fabrics and to snatch them up when I see them.  She’s totally right– a fabric like quilted, flannel-back wool completely makes your project!  She was also right when she told me I would regret not buying glazed ponte– even thought I bought it, I regret not buying more!


  1. Sew a pair of pants, FOR REAL THIS TIME.  I wear pants.  I like pants.  Time to sew some @#$% pants!
  2. Delve more deeply into outerwear.  I’d like to make a casual, sporty jacket and get more confident sewing that kind of thing.
  3. Use sewing patterns multiple times.  It’s time to slow down my pattern purchases (SO HARD, YOU GUYS) and make things more than once.  It’s much more cost-effective and you don’t have to spend extra time working out fit issues.  WHY DON’T I DO THIS MORE?!  I want to make at least 3 garments next year from patterns I’ve already used before.
  4. Sew at least two garments for Man Friend.  It’s the least I can do!
  5. Make at least one self-drafted garment.  Time to put that patternmaking class to work!

Before I go, I just want to wish every one of you a happy and healthy New Year!  It means so much to me to connect with so many of you through this blog and your own, and I really am so grateful for the many friendships I’ve made through this little world.  Here’s to 2014!

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106 responses to “Top 5 of 2013: Reflections, Inspirations, & Goals

  1. I hope you get some great use from your slope. Wishing you lots of great makes in the new year!

  2. Great goals! And I think you did well in achieving those 2013 goals. Honestly I can’t believe a whole dang year has gone by! Happy New Year and have a sewing filled 2014…

  3. Happy New Year! I’m jealous you met Carolyn. :-)

  4. The end of this year (2013) I tried to use more TNT patterns and cut down on the number of patterns I bought – or at least made sure that the patterns I did buy, were totally different from what I already had and that I couldn’t draft myself from an existing pattern. I now have a couple of patterns that I know I’ll wear and are really easy to make up, and I just want MORE – stuff working with fitting issues every project one makes, right?

    I’ll also never become a tailoring nerd (not nearly enough patience) but I should probably focus on a few slow-sewing projects like another jacket/more outerwear. And, like you – pants!! I’ve only had two pairs of well fitting pants in my adult life (one pair of which was given away when I lost weight, the other has just developed a huge rip in the thigh). I did a pants fitting class with The Dreamstress and am happy to say the pattern I’ve ended up with is ALMOST perfect – just need to get around to finishing off the pair I’ve made, and making about a million more pairs.

    • That’s really smart– it’s easy to let patterns pile up. It’s much better to make sure you don’t have something similar or can’t draft it yourself. Definitely trying to implement that approach this year! :)

      Pants fitting just seems so scary and horrible! I don’t even know where to start with it! I think I may go back to the Kenneth King Craftsy course and try to draft a pattern off of existing jeans (I have a pair that fits really well). Good luck with your pants this year!

  5. I’m with you on sewing some patterns again & trying not to buy lots more patterns! When we’re busy it makes so much sense….then I see another shiny new pattern! Have a great year x

  6. A thoughtful list. I look forward to see what you make of your self drafted items. Happy 2014 and may all your sewing goals come true!

  7. Happy New Year Sonja! Really great post, I love the idea of your successes being garments you would have bought ready to wear. You’ve had some really great makes this year so I don’t think you should be disappointed about not having time for more. Looking forward to seeing what you get up to in 2014!

    • Thanks, Fiona! I hope you have a great year, too! I think it takes a while with sewing to get to a point where you feel confident to sew anything. I felt like I could only do simple dresses for such a long time that it’s nice to branch out into more complicated things like shirts and jackets. Next step: pants! Eek!

  8. Kim

    Happy new year! Your goals for this year sound super realistic and good :) I haven’t made any goals, but organising/cleaning my sewing space is definitely one of the first things I’m going to do this year.. And I really need to sew patterns more than once, that’s what I noticed when making my top 5 list..

    • It’s so worth it to take the time to organize your space! I kept buying things like elastic that I already had but couldn’t find– ugh! Plus, I feel so much more zen when I can work in a space that isn’t covered in piles of crap!

  9. Great goals – I’m sure you’ll make some awesome pants! Remember they’re just shorts with long legs! Happy new year!

  10. Happy new year! I’m looking forward to seeing your makes for this year. I’m going to tackle pants as well. It’s the fitting that scares me most.

  11. Thank you for sharing your goals (and grades!) with us. You’ve come up with some really inspired things this year, and I hope you are able to achieve what you want for the New Year. Looking forward to following along!

    • Thanks, Mads! I love that the New Year gives us a good opportunity to assess how things are going and where we’d like to be. It’s nice to take a pause and be more reflective! Happy 2014!

  12. Great goals! 3 out of 5 are on my list as well. Getting a nice sewing area together is so important for productivity so that is a great accomplishment. Man O man I felt so bad about signing up for sew alongs that I couldn’t even start once the time came….don’t think I’m going to learn that lesson in 2014 but hopefully I’ll manage my time better to be able to participate. Like Debbie,I two am jealous about the meeting of Carolyn. East coaster have all the fun :)

    • Time management is just so tricky! I hate that I’m so bad at it (and I hate that there isn’t more time in the day)! It’s so nice that I’m able to meet up with so many lovely sewists! I remind myself of that when I’m having one of my “Get me on the next flight out of New York!!!” days!

  13. these are excellent reflections! you’ve set very attainable goals and i look forward to seeing how you do. and yes, make pants!!! you can do it!

  14. Fabulous goals and I just love that red coat of yours, it is amazing. Happy New Year.

  15. senjiva

    Great post! I don’t feel so bad about not making all my goals. Looks like we both had a pretty productive year anyway. Looking forward to seeing what you get up to this year. Pants sew along???

    • Yes! A pants sewalong would be awesome!

      • senjiva

        Ok! Now, what pattern to use? I was actually thinking of using one of the (I think) Simplicity ones for “perfect pants”. I’m pretty curvy and don’t do well with these skinny looks.

      • senjiva

        Ok! I bought a “supposed to fit you perfectly” pants pattern when Joann had the Simplicity sale. Have you chosen a pants pattern? I wanna DO this! When shall we start? I have to be held to my commitment by someone or the daily workload of other peoples’ clothes really gets in the way! p.s. my email:

  16. Happy New Year love! So nice to read your reflections and can’t wait to see what you make this year, hope you achieve all your goals! :)

  17. Happy New Year, beautiful!

  18. Happy New Year Ginger. I think your list of goals for the new year is great and completely doable. May you sew plenty of awesome garments this year.

  19. I am right there with you for your goal to sew the same pattern more than once! I have no self control when it comes to buying new patterns. I just read a Sewaholic post and Tasia said she is planning on releasing 8 patterns this year. I don’t know if I can realistically make this a goal!!!

  20. Great goals, I totally agree with sewing the same pattern multiple times, it’s nice to work on a pattern a bit to work out the best fit or fabric and then be able to make it feeling more confident of the result.
    Happy New Year! x

  21. tillybuttons

    Thanks for the inspiration this year, and wishing you a very happy 2014! x

  22. Great goals! We have several in common actually! I’d love to say I’m not going to buy new patterns but I’ve already said I’m not buying new fabric so both would just be setting myself up for failure :) Looking forward to seeing your makes in 2014!

  23. Jo

    I think you’ve had an awesome year and your goals sound very familiar to me.i have a lot of the same! Even if we don’t fully accomplish our goals we make progress… bring on 2014 huh?

  24. Great goals for 2014! Looking forward to seeing what form they take!

  25. Sounds like some great and achievable goals for 2014! I just started following your blog this year and I’ve loved checking out all your projects. Can’t wait to see what you come up with in 2014!!

  26. And a very happy 2014 to you too! I love your blog and your approach to sewing and the things you make ( I am still in awe of your tux!). Good luck with your goals, I always say having goals is better than having none- even if you don’t complete them all. It just helps you to be clearer about what you’re aiming for and the process becomes so much more satisfying as a result x

    • Thank you, Winnie! I totally agree– it’s so good to have things to aim for! Speaking of which, one of my goals this year is to run a half-marathon– you’ve really inspired me with your love of running!

  27. Dude, you’re amazing and your blog is a source of constant inspiration for me! I think you’ve achieved an awful lot this year with such a busy work schedule too and I literally can’t wait to see what you come up with this year!

    • Marie, you’re too sweet! I feel the same way about you and your blog– I so look forward to your posts, and always leave your blog feeling inspired! :) A very happy 2014 to you!

  28. I’m working on the sewing room.cleanup myself! Looks like some great goals for the year. I’ve always been inspired by the things you make (since I found your blog), so I will be looking forward to seeing what you make this year!

    • It’s so worth the time to do a little sewing room reorganization! I start to feel frustrated with myself and my projects really quickly when I’m working in a pigsty and can’t find anything I need! Yuck!

  29. Great goals! I have a lot of those same ones myself for 2014. Can’t wait to see what you make!

  30. Amy

    What a year for you. I’m sorry the pattern drafting class was such a drain on your time, but I’m hopeful you’ll look back and realize just how much it has improved and enhanced your sewing. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for you!

  31. Thanks for the shout out but it was as much my pleasure to meet you as it was yours to meet me. And I do agree with you if the only goal you met from 2012 was to set up a new sewing space than that was the best thing you could do. It does make sewing so much easier! I think you’ll see that you retained more from the patternmaking class than you realize and it will show up in your sewing in 2014…guarantee it! I look forward to seeing what you sew in 2014 and dinner soon for sure!!!!

  32. You are one of my inspirational bloggers. Thanks for sharing your reflections. When you figure out how to pick clothes to sew that really fit your style and your life, it makes sewing so much more rewarding! I am trying really hard to figure this out, but it is hard. My style doesn’t fit my life! Makes it difficult. :/ I look forward to seeing your pants this year. :)

    • Thank you so much, Laura! I know what you mean about style and life not syncing up– I finally had to let go of some fantasies I had about my life in order to actually wear some of my handmade clothes! Turns out I have very few (OK, ZERO) ’60′s-themed cocktail parties to attend, so I probably don’t need multiple vintage sheath dresses. Sad, but better for my closet!

      • Exactly! I need jeans, jeans, and more jeans. That’s all that will hold up to my kids spilling food all over my clothes! Silk just doesn’t work with my lifestyle, as much as I love it.

  33. Loving your plans for 2014 and I look forward to seeing how you progess :)
    I too am planning a lot of sewing from my stash – this year I bought way more than I could sew, time to take charge!!
    Happy sewing!!

    • Thanks, Liz! It gets out of control so quickly! I weeded out my stash pretty thoroughly last year so everything that I have left I really want to use– hoping to get to some of these fun stash pieces soon! Can’t wait to see what you make in 2014! Another Belladone, perhaps? ;)

  34. Happy New Year! I wish you best for 2014! I see that you’ve already planned your goals, I should do the same, hehe. You’ve had an amzingly productive year, I can only wish you to have an even better one in 2014!

  35. True Bias

    You had a very eventful year I would say. Just the Mood sewing alone kept you so busy. Great Job. Here’s to an even better 2014!

  36. Happy New Year!!! Great list of goals and reflections, Sonja! And thank YOU for all the inspiration, awe, and laughs!

  37. You’ve been a very busy woman so don’t beat yourself up for not accomplishing some of the goals you set out for yourself. I totally hear you on the sloper front: fitting is a pain and even a proper sloper needs fitting tweaks which are a total PITA is you don’t have a sewing buddy to assist. I tried turning Mr. Stitch into a sewing buddy… didn’t get too far on that one. Maybe someone should come up with a fitting buddy robot? Just a thought…

    • Yes, can’t one of our sewing scientists get to work on a fit ‘bot?! They’d make hundreds! :) Husband fitting buddies tend to be a little… um… lax? In my experience, that is. “Yeah, yeah, it looks fine”.

  38. I really thought my pattern making class would get me pumped up for sewing and make me feel like a super awesome sew-y alchemist!!! …but holy crap it’s driving me insane. I can’t get my measurements right and there’s so much more math involved than I ever wanted to put into my sewing (or life for that matter!) lol. It’s been awesome to learn about, but I think I need to stick to perfecting ready-made patterns for a while.

  39. I love your goals! And maybe we can hold each other accountable for sewing pants. They’re all I wear, so I need to make them! I just get so intimidated and keep putting it off.

  40. I’m on the “Let’s Make Some Damn Pants” train as well! I’ve got the pattern and the fabric… now I just have to make a muslin and get someone to help me perfect the fit around this bahdunkadunk.

  41. You did a great job in 2013! 29 garments is a lot for a weekend sewer, and you took a class! Can’t wait to see what you come up with in the new year. Happy 2014!

  42. Totally with you on sewing stuff for man friend… I’m so selfish with my sewing haha but I guess most us seamstresses are

  43. Would totally be up to creating a sloped with you! I need a motivational buddy for this

  44. Really nice round-up! I did look over my 2013 goals but decided not to write up a post about it. So I’m really interested to read yours. I think you really upped your game in 2013 – looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings for you!

  45. I think your goals are great! I’m not setting any goals (I really didn’t last year either), except to fill in my wardrobe better and get rid of things I don’t like, and make combinations of outfits that I really want to wear. Which sounds super vague and general when I distill it down to that. But I’m cool with that. lol And I know I’m better equipped to actually make that happen than I’ve ever been. And at least that’s a nice feeling to start off with! :)

    • That’s a fantastic goal, though! I always feel like I have tons of clothes, but nothing to wear, partly because I make clothes that are too dressy for everyday and partly because I feel most inspired to sew in the summer and those pieces don’t transition well to the rest of the year. I’m excited to see what 2014 holds for you!

  46. I’ll be your sloper buddy! I was thinking today of having my husband measure me, but then I realized what a terrible idea that is. Yay for 2014!

  47. I’m super impressed that you only bought 9 pieces of fabric for your 2013 wardrobe. My worst obsession is patterns and fabric – I too so need to use my existing patterns many more time than I do, but it is so hard when such great patterns get released. Here’s to another year filled with great sewing :)

  48. pants are not as scary as they look. I’m sure you can make them!

  49. Kristina

    Happy New Year! Yay for accomplisihing most of your resolutions! Hope you get to sew your pants this year :))

  50. Amy

    Oooh interesting goals. I can’t wait to see your makes this year! Its a shame that you felt your sewing time was limited. Sometimes I wonder if there is ever enough time but at least it keeps us hungry for what we can get :-)

    • There’s never enough time! I always tell my husband that I wish I didn’t have to sleep, and he always replies that I would demand a 48-hour day if I could use all 24! There are always more fun things to do!

  51. I like the goal of trying to sew more garments from the one pattern – to get value for money…it’s what I’m trying to do right from the beginning of my sewing hobby.

    • It’s a good habit to start! People always say, “Oh, you must save so much money sewing your own clothes!” Well, yes and no… but mostly no since I love buying patterns and fabric and I’ve always hated shopping for clothes– never really been tempted to spend much on RTW clothes, so I’m probably not saving anything!

  52. I just want to know what glazed ponte is… And the sloper/tailoring/all that pattern stuff I didn’t realize how much WORK is involved in clothes making. So tell me, these designers like – you know- the ones–they really deserve all that money for a $600 blouse! hahaha ;) Love the dino dress by the way, Mia squealed!

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