2016: The Hits and Misses of the Year

Lots of bloggers are doing this – looking back at what they made in 2016 and describing what went well and what did not. I don’t know who first “hit” on this idea, so I am sorry if I “miss” acknowledging them.

I have made about 30 items this year, plus four sweaters, and three hats.  I enjoyed it very much and, as ever, I learned a lot. So how do I judge “the best” from “the rest”, and distinguish between the OK and the truly abominable?

I have objective information, via Instagram, of how many were liked. And while this is not totally reliable, as people like for all sorts of reasons, perhaps perfect strangers have less inhibition than people who comment on the blog. And I am not the most reliable at posting what I make, especially when it is a bit rubbish. With the blog I can explain, and learn, from my mistakes. With IG it is mainly visual – you don’t want to accidentally get likes for things that are “a fail”. But IG does provide a bit of fast feedback so I will include this information if I have it.

The hits

The hits are a mixture of genuinely liking the garment, and enjoying wearing it. Some I have worn occasionally and some frequently, so for me it is not about frequency alone. It is that I have pride in my work, and I feel good in the item.

I think my all time favourite this year is my hand painted, silk organza, “Six Nap” dress. I copied a shape, but made it my own. I loved doing the painting and I feel joyous when I put on this dress. I have only worn it a few times, but will again. I like it as it expresses a side of my personality – exuberance? (351 IG likes)

The second love is the silver leather skirt. It’s a simple skirt that didn’t take long to make, although the leather was expensive. I used a Cardin pattern and I felt this 1960s space age designer was so right for the fabric.  It is almost mirrored and it is a skirt that gets me noticed. However I wear it quite often with very plain items – a navy or chocolate brown jumper, thick tights and boots or masculine shoes. And, for more formal work events, a dark jacket.

Courreges skirt silver leather
McCalls in silver leather

My grey haltner neck/off the shoulder grey dress was another sucess. I made the pattern myself. It is a simple princess-line, fitted dress, with a nice neckline, in a sober light blue-grey. I wore this last week for a cocktail party in the Shard. I wish I had underlined it to avoid the obvious hem (and the strapless bra was a lacey and lumpy), but I think this dress suits me. The zip is a silver separating zip giving a bit of interest at the back.(252 IG likes)

Grey wool off the shoulder dress
Grey wool off the shoulder dress

My first attempts at casual were a big sucess; my Birkin flares and my Lorelle jumper. I have worn these two items at least 30 times each. I love them together, and I love them apart. Very comfortable, easy to wear, flattering and very me, I feel. Neither are perfectly made. The jeans zip gave me a headache royale, and I the top stitching is a bit in your face (it is grey, but looks like white). But I like the styling, the shape and general look of the jeans. As for the jumper the subtle zig zags are just great and I like the way it sits nicely on my shoulders. (263 IG likes). Overall I love both these items and could live in them.

And two other slightly strange items are the floral hat and the cling film bodice. The bodice because it just fit perfectly and that was a suprise and a delight (most of the glory belongs to Pia of The Overflowing Stash. And the hat. Just because it is gorgeous. I haven’t worn it (yet). But it sits in our bedroom and looks at me, and it makes me happy with its glorious colour, its draped, folded beige Japanese wool-cotton, and its outrageousness. I have worn the navy one (last weekend actually), and the Schiaparelli Mad Cap often.

Turban Hat with flowers 1940s
1940s Turban hat


The items that didn’t work, or I don’t care for, or I have to alter or throw out are as follows:

The Perry Ellis dress is a fun dress but does nothing for me. The fit is loose all over – it is a long column and I am not. The only shaping comes from the sash. A frank commentor wrote:

I am surprised that you fitted it to your self so badly – do you not have good fitting skills. The armhole is way to low for you and you could have vastly improved the fit in neckline and across the bust. I look at alot of your photos and question your skill. I see glaring errors in fit across everything you make – your pants are the worst. Maybe some time to improve your skills would be worthwhile for you.

And talking of pants we have two here – neither of which fit. First are the disastrous cling film trousers – without Pia, Marijana and I made a bit of a hash of them. And then I used sweatshirt fabric for some drapey silk pants – the Designer Stitch Lena pants. I would have to include the pink sleeveless peplum jacket that was a waste of good fabric and zip. I lined it with a slightly too heavy fabric and it really looked stupid without sleeves. I had already made this self drafted top in grey and have worn that one a fair amount. The worse fail of the year was my pink YSL dress with the sequins. If I cried over failure this one would make me weep.



Anyway I am not sure it should be hit or miss. That sounds like I am shooting a target and making clothes is much more than that, at least for me. I think love and hate overstates the hate part. Most of the “failures” are learning experiences that I am very glad I had. Mainly because I now know more about what shapes suit me, how fabric behaves and how colours work. I think I would rather divide my home made clothes into “treasured” and “recycled”.


40 Responses

  1. Sue

    I like treasured and recycled! I, too, am learning pattern drafting and how to fit me – quite a challenge. You can’t expect them all to work out or you don’t learn anything – or at least I don’t. I love watching you learn. Keep up the good work!

  2. Stephanie

    Love this post, Kate. I don’t see anything here as a failure either. You have made some wonderful things and have learned in the process. The variety of projects that you tackle is simply astonishing. The Six Nap is a great accomplishment. Love the fit and the exuberance.

    • Stephanie

      I didn’t comment on the nasty comment on the first pass by this post in the middle of the night as I generally ignore snark (as my mother drilled into me when I was growing up, “don’t let the creeps get a rise out of you, as that is what they are seeking,” but I have been thinking about it. I’m sure you didn’t care about what the poster said, although such a comment would probably hurt the feelings of someone younger and less experienced. I always feel sorry for commentators like this as the reaction clearly comes from some unexpressed and unsatisfied need within them. It’s possible to strive to be perfect all of the time and to do the best fitting job with every item, but we all “make” with different goals in mind and different projects serve unique purposes. I appreciate, as do many others, the way that you experiment wildly and stimulate creative thought in others. I say well done and keep up the great work. (And it’s clear that you do know a lot about fitting.)

      • fabrickated

        Thank you S – getting to the heart of the matter as ever. The comment stung at the time. I didn’t think it was fair, but then I thought – is there some truth in it, however rudely expressed? And of course there is – my struggles with Gus’s jacket show that my fitting skills are rudimentary, instinctive and mainly self taught. But by republishing it I dealt with it, mainly by laughing at myself, and analysing my reaction. And then I got so much positive affirmation that I felt guilty for sort of asking for it. I didn’t hurt me that much – I could have deleted it for it example. If people want to say something “snarky” (such a fun word) well that is OK – maybe blogs are just too “ra ra, adorable skirt” etc. Criticism is welcome. I really welcome criticism and feedback as I am only one person, with one set of eyes (with blind spots) and the whole world is out there, generously providing valuable feedback. Thank you so much for your very regular commentary on my posts – while I love each and every comment from you, you really do not need to do this as a routine – go easy on yourself Steph. Lots of love, K xxx

  3. Mem

    Wow that was a frank comment !!!! I actually don’t agree . The Perry Ellis dress is a certain look , it does fit though. The pants, well they are a trial to fit .I have found that the best solution to well fitting pants is avtried and true pattern and a good stretch woven.
    Also I have been reading you blog fir ages and I have to say that poor fit isn’t something that leaps out at me . I think you are pretty good at sewing what suits you and being creative , stretching yourself and generally inspiring to those of us who are less productive than you are

  4. Annieloveslinen

    Your ‘fails’ are mostly when you’ve been experimenting with style (Lena) or form YSL dress. You’re on point when you make a style that suits you. Perfection isn’t the same as success either it behoves none of us to be snitty about others’ efforts, I remember reading that comment you quote and having a quick intake of breath, it wasn’t constructive and came across as petty.

    These check and balance exercise don’t recognise the enrichment that creativity adds to our lives and like ripples in a pond the effect spreads far beyond a pass or fail.

    Happy sewing!

  5. Giorgia

    I think it’s great to look back and notice what worked and what didn’t. More than judging yourself is a way to extend the elarning process pat making a garment, but reflecting on what you like/interest you. All these projects, the trasured and the recycled, started from somewhere in you -an idea. I find it interesting to follow the thread backwards… as sometimes it reveals a general direction of thought I wouldn’t have suspected 🙂

    • fabrickated

      Very true Giorgia. I am so glad to have met you during the year. Thank you for your funny and nice comments. I love to hear from you and look forward to meeting up again.

      • Giorgia

        Pleasure has been all mine K! I also look forward to the new year for more occasions to meet. I have been often thinking of organising something at my place, but the limited seating space keeps stopping me. I need to think outside the box! Or perhaps “my box” figuratively. i wonder if you know that Chelsea library specialises in fashion and textile works? I volunteer there and I haven’t yet fully explored it. they have an enviable Vogue archive, as well as history on pretty much every aspect of fashion. I would very much like a little trip with good company!

  6. Kim

    What you described as a ‘frank’ comment borders on rude in my opinion. The way we want to wear our clothing is very varied, and therefore so is our opinion on ‘fit’.
    Your treasures truly are, and the recycled projects have been very worthwhile in providing you with more information which will raise the odds of all future makes being treasures. Sew on and be proud of what you make.

  7. Sue

    Your Six Napoleon dress is absolutely my favourite too, it makes you look glamorous and happy. I quite like some of your fails, but understand that if you don’t feel comfortable and won’t wear them, there is no point in them taking up wardrobe space. Thank you for sharing!

  8. eimear

    you have been busy! Love those birkin flares and jealous of your top-stitching. Re the Perry Ellis dress, I don’t see an issue as such with the fit, as it was the design, and the 80s fit and cut was a lot different, there was a trend for a boxy cut which was designed to look boxy. Ultimately, I think fit is also related to what is comfortable on you- I appreciate your sharing the ‘frank’ comment but personally if I think it a bit impolite and unfair, but its not easy to fully assess someones skills on a blog post , especially as I believe most sewers will tell you where they went wrong on a garment first – and point out every shortcoming they can find. For myself, I find this encouraging as no matter how much I know, there is always something to be learned. I have just made a navy wool gaberdine dress that makes me look like a nun/church verger, and I will be recutting it – but I blindly did not anticipate the outcome as I loved the fabric and pattern so much on their own, I didnt see the awful possibilities of uniting them!!! live and learn!

    I am on a facebook group ‘wesewretro’ and the underlying ethos is to inspire and encourage…… which I always find heartening!

    • fabrickated

      Eimear – this is a generous and thoughtful comment – as always. You are such a competent seamstress and you are fully aware, from experience, of the trials and tribulations of creating nice, well designed, well fitted, flattering clothes, in the right fabric and colour. It’s not easy, is it! I have so appreciated your lovely comments over the year and thank you for taking the time to comment so thoroughly.

  9. Esme

    That comment! How rude.

    For a non-professional sewist to make what you make is astonishing. What you lack in technical diligence you more than make up for in creative and exploratory technique. Your designs are exciting and push boundaries.

    The thing is, you might not ever be technically perfect and it’s not because you couldn’t be, it’s because you’re working on new things all the time. The breadth of your knowledge is profound.

    One more thing, now I’m on a rant. You are in this for more than technically accurate clothing. You’ve made friendships, built a following and regularly offered constructive feedback to others. That is worth a whole lot more than how a dress hangs from your shoulders.

  10. Seamsoddlouise

    Good round up. I find I learn so much more from my “failure” makes than when everything goes smoothly. And sometimes I find I need to wear the item a good few times before I can assess how well its doing/ work out how to fix any errors!

  11. Mary Funt

    What a great recap of your very prolific sewing year. We all have a few “misses” whether it be fabric choice or an unflattering design but that’s part of the fun of designing and making your own wardrobe. You’ve identified some wonderful looks for yourself and I’m sure more are in the works.

  12. Aida

    Love reading these posts this time of the year! the cling film method is genius, I wish I had someone to help me so that i can make my own bodice block. Would also like to mention the comment you received about fitting, I apreciate the fact that she mentioned the fitting problem, I always wish that people that take their time to comment on my posts also mentioned the negatives that they see, however I don’t apreciate her tone and way of writing her opinion making it a general issue that you have, especially negative comments have to be polite if it is to be taken into consideration. Anyway, I look up to your sewing and fitting skills and hope one day I’ll manage to be somewhere close to your level.
    Take care

    • fabrickated

      Aida – well I am in awe of your shoes! And your many beautiful and very creative clothes. And that you comment and write in your second language so beautifully. Thank you very much.

  13. Jenny

    How you manage to fulfil your professional role, visit exhibitions etc, attend college, be part of a busy family and produce so much is amazing. You must be like Maggie Thatcher and need only a few hours sleep. I remember that very nasty comment from the original Blog post and was shocked at the time by her rudeness. She was so utterly wrong too as your fitting skills are excellent. My favourite this year has definitely been the 6Nap dress. I loved the ones the other sewers made too. Such a rewarding piece of work as well as a thing of beauty.

    • fabrickated

      Jenny – you have often stopped by to write something sweet and useful. I really appreciate the time and kindness offered. I hope your sewing adventures are progressing well and would love to see more of your hand made wardrobe during 2017.

  14. Anne

    I didn’t see the ‘frank’ comment first time around. I appreciate, and seek criticism of the constructive variety – this wasn’t that. FWIW, my favourite of your items here are the Birkin jeans and Lorelle top. Like you, I don’t see ‘successes’ and ‘failures’ in a very polar sense – everything teaches you something new, which is good. Keep up the good work.

    • fabrickated

      Thank you Anne. I forgot to mention that it was your post on your amazing hits – that spectacular wedding dress in particular – that stimulated the post. I appreciate your attitude to relentless self-criticism and reflection which is both fair and considerate. I hope we can continue to help and support each others progress over the coming year.

  15. Hari

    What a great review of a busy creative year. I especially love your grey off shoulder dress – perfect fit by the way – and your divine hats! I’m sorry that someone’s negativity stuck with you, it was truly a reflection of where they are at and not you.

    • fabrickated

      I felt funny about repeating Erin’s barbed remarks. But sometimes bringing things into the open (when I noticed her poor spelling – not that mine is always spot on, ha ha), helps one look at them more dispassionately, and come to terms with any truths within them. I appreciate you noticing that it might be more about her than me. Thank you.

  16. ceci

    I define my own failures as the projects I didn’t start, rather than ones that turned out differently than I expected….. I find the quoted fitting comment quite odd in that it seems to me that fitting is one of your great strengths (along with creativity, productivity and generosity) – witness that grey off the shoulder dress and so many others! Love your hats, especially the one with the red flowers! Makes me want to make my next project a hat.


  17. Brenda Marks

    Your top 5 hits are show stoppers! I think you do a great job of assessing your pieces as you go along, and it’s great to be able to see your hits in one spot. : )

  18. Pia

    Nothing ventured nothing gained. Love your adventures even if nor all idead worked out the way you hoped.

    That frank commentator maybe is aping Trump’s style to ‘success’. Not worth being bothered by especially as they haven’t demonstrated your ideal of fit & nor offered any tips to help you learn. Probably just someone insecure with themselves.

    I think the stuff you make fit just fine & some great pieces this year. Never mind the leg wrap miss. It wasn’t a proven method yet, so certainly no shame if it didn’t work out. I’m still struggling with mine as well. But you look hot in your Birkin! So that’s at least one successful trousers you can repeat!

  19. erin

    Love your attitude towards things that don’t work out. I want to take a closer look at my 2016 sewing because there are a number of things about style and my body shape that I need to accept and come to terms with 🙂

  20. Hélène

    What a great round-up! Your Lorelle jumper is truly impressive as is the painted white dress and the Birkin flares. In fact, I think they all reflect your excellent fitting skills, if I may contradict your frank commenter. The way you treated this frankly rude comment made me smile. You’re right: the sewing community sometimes seems overwhelmed with sweet compliments but on the other hand, harsh personal comments are never constructive. Anyway, your blog has emerged as one of the most clever in the blogosphere and I thouroughly enjoy reading you.

  21. Abbey

    Great retrospective! I like your approach, especially when it comes to viewing projects that didn’t quite turn out as an opportunity to learn something rather than just labeling them “Failures.” You’ve made some really wonderful things this year–I am especially awed by your knack for knitting! And you do all of that while managing to be very matter-of-fact (whether about your own projects, or style evaluations/suggestions/plans for others) and game for seemingly any challenge, all of which I admire very much. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what you come up with in 2017! =)

  22. Juliann Whicker

    Thank you for this post. I really enjoyed seeing your adventures in sewing over the course of the year. You have made so many interesting things!

    The thing that sticks out to me is that the things you love are more ‘you’ than the things you dislike. So to me this is an experiment at developing and fine tuning your own personal style statement. I love it and want to do that with my own sewing.

    It can be hard to put yourself out there when not everyone is positive or even critical in a helpful way, but thank you for doing it, anyway.

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