It is hard to believe that 2022 is soon to be history. Yet another year gone by surprisingly quick (and the last year of my 20s at that!). I can’t say that I am sad to see this year go, it did not hold up to the hopeful ambitions and wishes I had last January. But to end this arduous year on a positive note, I decided to reflect once again on my creative projects and progress.
I can spoil so much: there was a lot more sewing than knitting happening this year. Nevertheless, I did work on 13 knitted garments for myself this year (three of which I started in 2021, and two of which are not yet finished). 5 of these are patterns by tried-and-trusted designer Poisongrrls, another two are cardigans by Fabel Knitwear.
For myself, in total, I sewed 14 dresses, 7 woven (summer) blouses or tops, 5 knit shirts in various styles, 2 boleros, 4 skirts and one pair of Culottes, 4 pairs of leggings and some singlets from leftover fabric. I do not love all of these garments equally and some have gotten significantly more wear than others – but each helped me advance further in my sewing journey. Some of the new garments are dearly loved since the moment they came off the sewing machine.
A lot of knitting, sewing, embroidering and fabric dyeing happened for friends and family (my husband alone received 14 garments, mostly jumpers and shirts. He keeps complaining that he is running out of closet space). With so much time to craft, gift making is a welcome way for me to curb my for-me production a little.
But let’s look at all of this in more detail, shall we?
A year of welcome distractions
Creativity is very often mentioned in relation to mental health and self care and it has certainly been an important ressource for me this year. Looking for distractions for my mind, I did not knit all that much in the first half of the year, but instead, I found a lot of comfort in embroidery. Embroidery is both a mindless and focused task and who does not enjoy whimsical little images to embellish a dress, a napkin or a bag?
I am yet to try more advanced embroidery patterns, but I admit – I do love a quick result with my stitching!
A year of stories
In 2022, I had the honour to be part of the “Storyteller team“ for the sewing brand “Twig and Tale”.
Being part of the team was a great way to connect to other makers, and inspired me to take a very intentional and thoughtful approach to my sewing – particularly in terms of documenting my creative journey and crafty progress.
I wrote an article for their blog on the theme “document” where I give insights into my way to plan and document my sewing process and I love how well it was received in the community.
You can read the article HERE.
In the fast-paced environment of social media where most of us share our makes and WIPs, the story behind a project often gets lost, as does the creative process. I always appreciate makers who still keep their blogs alive as I find that to be both inspiring and helpful when deciding on a pattern or thinking how to adjust the fit or wondering about the quality of a material.
In 2022, I shared more about my own process on instagram and people seemed to enjoy it. I would love to do that more often, but it does take a good bit of time – and I do have lots of work on my PhD coming up in 2023.
I also loved to think about the “bigger picture” with the clothes I made (because let’s face it, most of it is at this point abundance & joy, and rarely a “need”) and come up with a “fantasy” or story to choose patterns, materials and details.
The prime example of it has been the creation of a “celestial party look” which I shared in detail on the blog as well, but other projects come with their little stories, too.
My “Muckelig” Dress, a knit fabric pattern by the German designer Lotte&Ludwig, has become a special companion this year. Because of several health issues, a lot of my woven (tight-cut) clothes were rather uncomfortable, and I hence set out to sew myself something to be comfortable, but also look unique and chic. The pattern itself is very leisurely and casual, but I would like to think that the fabric from Fossan Designs that I chose dresses it up nicely. It has since its completion in September joined me on travels to Prague, Skopje, Belgrade, Berlin and Oldenburg and has helped me enjoy fashion (and feel beautiful) even at a time when my body was giving me a hard time.
Another very creative project is this hacked Breeze Shirt (Twig and Tale). I wanted to create a shirt for my husband that would fit in well at a medieval fair or the like, without being to costume-y. It doubles well as a pirate-y kind of shirt, don’t you think?
To bring this vision to life, I sewed a collarless version of the shirt, added a constrasting (faux leather) tag below the neckline and added ties and a little keyhole at the sleeve hem. Simple adjustment, but the shirt tells the story so well!
A year for comfort
Even during the peak of the pandemic, I was never one for team sweatpants (no judgement if you were/are), but I did learn to value comfort in my clothes more than ever before. Maybe it’s also a matter of adulting, and understanding that – no, you shouldn’t need to suffer for beauty!
Add to that the aforementioned health issues, and then also a newfound passion for (Swing) Dancing which requires dresses that are good to move in!
Woven fabrics can of course also make for comfortable dresses, but I really loved working with jersey fabrics this year. The overlocker/ serger that my husband had gifted me to Christmas in 2021 certainly helped that love affair!
A year of working with what I got
One of my “main creative resolution for 2022 had been to be more resourceful in the sense that I work with what I have accumulated over the years. Unlike some makers, I do not have closets filled with yarn or fabric, and my biggest part of the stash are leftovers from other projects. But of course, I do (or should I say – did) also have fabrics from my very early sewing days that I just never dared cutting into, for various reasons. I did a pretty good job sewing through most of them this year! I think that I just have some Corduroy from early 2021 left now (and some 2022 fabrics)
With my knitting, I did a great job working through what I had at home. I repurposed some skeins for other projects than originally intended which was a fun creative exercise, and I also created some beautiful fabrics by holding different yarns together or knitting in stripes.
The Dottie Cardigan by Poisongrrls (on the left) is an excellent & cozy cardigan to destash – its worked with three strands of yarn at a time.
An excellent way of working through leftovers are baby garments – especially now that all my friends have babys or small children. I lost count of how many pieces I sewed from the “Baby Basics” pattern by Lotte & Ludwig. It has been great fun to get creative with whatever I found in my stash.
A year of learning
More than anything else, 2022 has been a year that saw massive improvement of my sewing skills. Learning more about my body and my measurement also benefitted my knitting though.
I need to credit Gertie Hirsch and her Patreon big time for my improvement in sewing. For the past three years, I have watched every sewing video that she put online and this year, I finally put that theoretical knowledge into practice. That is not to say that I have miraceously become an advanced sewist with nothing left to improve – but overall, I am very satisfied. This year, for the first time, I created garments that fit exceptionally well, are unique, and have a professional finish. A lot of them are patterns that I purchased very early into my sewing journey in 2020 like the Betty Dress from Sew Over it London (below in purple) or the B6453 by Gertie for Butterick (white with florals), but then put away discouraged and frustrated.
This year, I finally accomplished the modern vintage silhouette and look that got me inspired to start sewing in the first place! What a success!
Speaking of Patreon: I cannot recommend Squid’s School of Vintage Knitting enough, if you are into vintage knitting. The way how she writes her patterns has taught me so much about knitting and adapting patterns for my own body. As a history lover myself, I always enjoy her knitting history lectures. She brings out a new knitting pattern each month and they’re all on my to-knit-list! Next up is a striped Homefront Jumper (shopping my stash, of course).
A year of trying
Trying (with or without success) is crucial for learning. This year I played around with different materials which is one of the reason that I diverted a little from my original goal to only shop ethical and organic fabrics (I learnt that I don’t love stable knits, but are a big fan of double gauze). I was more adventurous in the brands I try (I can definitely recommend Fossan Designs for printed jerseys, the prints stay fresh and flashy after many washes. Atelier Brunette has not convinced me as I thought it would – their fabrics are very delicate – to that extend that some arrived already torn).
Through trying, I lost my fear of slippery fabrics and really understood the appeal of viscose fabrics. That swish!
I had some fun quilting – especially little outdoor picnic pillows from Twig and Tale, but realized that patchworking brings me to the edge of my patience quite easily. Maybe that’s a project for future Marie.
I also brought my sewing machine at its limits occassionally. Several layers of Canvas were a tough task and I sewed more than I liked with the hand wheel… But we did get there eventually.
For the past 6 months though I have a cardigan sitting in a box on my shelf, waiting to be steeked. I did try (and fail twice) sewn & cut buttons holes on a Cherry Cardigan (Poisongrrls, pictured below) this year, an ambitious first, but I am still waiting for the courage to cut into my entire cardigan and not just the button bands that can easily be redone…
My Rita/ Stanwyck Dress (see above, Charm Patterns) has been my first ever pattern hack in spring 2022! Lots of erring was involved in the process, but I am so happy with the result (though, you can’t see the beautiful bodice in these images AND I have to even out the bias-cut parts of the skirt once again).
A year for my own touch
Last but not least, this has definitely been a year for me to bring up the confidence to really add my own touch to my projects and add (even) more originality and uniqueness. It really is those little details (and a professional finish) that contributed to me feeling like an intermediate sewist now. What an accomplishment!
Can you tell that I loved making bags & purses this year? They make for a great gift and you can create such beauty with very small scraps of fabric. I have to credit my Mum with pushing me down that rabbit hole when she asked for a wash bag for her birthday. I like it down there!
Most of these images above were presents for beloved people which makes the embellishment process even more precious for me.
I want to mention though that those little finishing touches can really add to the budget of a sewing project. Trims, labels, cute buttons, extra zippers – that’s a lot of extra Euros to spend, unless you start collecting whenever you come across cute stuff (which isn’t a bad strategy). All creative hobbies are often very expensive, but sewing especially cuts into your wallet. This year this was an investment worth taking for me as part of my learning process, and also for my mental health – but next year I will budget a little differently again. In 2023 there will be lots of travelling across continents. Great opportunities to find special fabrics lie ahead of me – but that must mean less shopping at home!
Thank you for following through on my 2022 creative reflections. Happy New Year & happy crafting to you!