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Daily Archives: December 26, 2017

2017 in review: the misses

Oh, 2017, you were a doozy. The first half of the year was smooth as silk, with no major life events or big time stress. There were trips to Florida and Nashville and Alaska, and I was slowly coming into my own in this space as a blogger. Then, July hit and we bought a house and decided that renovating the entire first floor was a good idea. (Because it was, but more on that later.) We packed up our old house, moved into this one, and then I spent the next month sprucing up my new studio space. New paint, an accent wall with pink checkered wallpaper, completely refinished window benches – the works (pictures coming soon). All this while we planned the renovation and I jumped at the opportunity to work with TÉLIO. There were other projects peppered throughout, our beloved Olivia died on October 22, I got to work with McCall’s, and then there was the giveaway event last week. There’s good and bad in each passing year, but as long as the good outweighs the bad we’re in good shape – even if the bad leaves a lasting impression.

Today, we’re looking back on the projects that didn’t work. We all have them, and I think we do ourselves a disservice not to acknowledge them and pinpoint where things went wrong. Being honest about the mistakes also gives us the green light to highlight the successful things. Without saying “okay, here’s where I messed up” makes patting ourselves on the back pretty icky. You can’t have one without the other. I reviewed the first half of the year in this post from May, so this post will cover everything from June to now. My biggest flops primarily come from two places: forcing myself into a design or trend or silhouette that doesn’t work for me simply because it’s popular and everyone else is doing it, and stumbling when I try to do something different because I think I “should” because otherwise the project would be too plain. That said, let’s kick things off with the first flub, the fall wrap dress. I’m spotlighting this one first because it’s hardly a total loss, and I’m in the process of fixing it by removing the sleeves.

Miss #1: The Fall Wrap Dress

This dress is a lot of my favorite things rolled into one project: fabric in a pretty print, a fit and flare silhouette, a flattering design. It went wrong with the sleeves. The print, while lovely, is smaller in scale so with so much dress – and uninterrupted by a belt in a solid color – quickly becomes overwhelming. The hem of the sleeve also hits right around the waistline, so there’s a lot going on there. I included the sleeves because this is a “fall” dress and I thought I should, and because it’s a little less interesting without them. Or is it? As I type this, this dress is on my worktable to be fixed. It will be as easy as removing the sleeves, finishing the edge with bias tape, and replacing the belt with a solid black one.

Lesson: Overthinking trends. Who cares if it’s the “year of the sleeve?”

Action point: Stop overthinking everything and go with your gut. Also, make this dress again in a solid color, because it really is beautiful and super flattering.

Miss #2: The floral blouse. 

This blouse just makes me laugh, and I’m still surprised no one said anything about it. What do you see on the front? A big pink blob, right? I cut both of the front pieces at once, not noticing that it created a big pink flower right across the front of the blouse. Maybe it’s just me and my over-critical eye, but once I noticed it I couldn’t unsee it. I still wore this blouse quite a lot over the summer, but whenever I post it anywhere I now use this picture:

Lesson: being lazy when cutting results in mistakes. I knew better than to cut those pieces together. Cut one, then cut the other and make sure to avoid “flower blobs.”

Action point: Pay more attention.

Miss #3: the black and white dress.

Everyone, I’d like you to meet my robe.

Before I really unleash on this dress, I want to acknowledge those of you who liked it. In no way am I disregarding your opinions; in fact, there are elements of this dress that are quite lovely. But, ugh, as a whole this dress was a disaster. This was yet another “everyone is making it and looking fabulous in it” pattern, and I let that influence me. The dress itself is really fantastic, and maybe in a solid color would be okay on me, but I ruined it with the lace. I love black and white together, but black lace on white in a faux-wrap dress just looks like a robe. And the fact that I have to wear a necklace with any garment that has a neckline below my collarbone only further adds to the mess. (I have a 4″ scar at the base of my neck that I have to cover up. It’s why I’m always wearing a necklace with lower necklines.) I saved the lace, but this dress went straight into the trash, and I am perfectly content with that decision.

Lesson: Chasing trends has never, ever worked for me.

Action point: Stop chasing trends and being influenced by what everyone else is doing. Stick with what you know works and forget the rest. Seriously, stop it.

Miss #4: the red gingham dress.

This dress just irks me, and I’m including it on the list of misses (mostly) for one reason: it’s too long. I think it would be much more fresh and current right above the knee. When I made this dress, I made two versions, and the other one is white and one of the most beautiful, dreamiest dresses I’ve ever made or worn. I went with the same length for this dress, but it just doesn’t translate. It’s too much print. And, while I’m very pleased with the print matching on the bodice, I actually need to take this dress in around the bust and I can tell that it’s too big there just by looking at these pictures.

Lesson: hems that are too long are (sometimes) silly and sad.

Action point: enough with long hems on everything. Sometimes, shorter is okay.

And, while we’re on the subject of things that are too long, this cutie could also use a chop. Then, it’ll be perfect – and I have enough fabric for a top to go with this in the spring.

The lemon print skirt.

2017 was an incredible year. Busy, productive, fun, exciting, heartbreaking, promising. All the good life throws at us. In terms of this blog and what I’m trying to do with it, I did a lot of things exceptionally well, but there’s plenty that needs improvement, like photography and graphics and consistency.

Things to improve in 2018:

Photography: I could spend days telling you how challenging photography is for me. I take all of my own pictures, and I learned earlier this year that outdoor photos are more trouble than they’re worth. I need an environment that I can control, which is why my photos are all indoors in front of a white wall. Getting the lighting right, showing the garment well, and making sure the pictures are the right size is something I’m always working on. For Christmas, Santa brought me a professional white vinyl backdrop and stand and a new set of softbox lights so hopefully we’re on the right track.

Graphics: I’m using graphics as a broad term that includes text on photos, website quality, videos, and social media content. I don’t have any fancy software or programs like Photoshop, so I just do the best I can with what I have, but I’d love to completely overhaul the website. There’s links that haven’t worked all year (yes, you should be directed to a “tutorials” page when you click on tutorials, sheesh), and I would love to get a handle on creating cute videos. Occasionally I get questions about doing tutorials on YouTube, and I have no plans to get into that any time soon. Just thinking about the time involved and the learning curve for editing the videos literally gives me a headache. Maybe one day, but for now pictorial tutorials will have to do.

Consistency: I’m a quality over quantity kind of gal, but there are too many lags between blog posts. I don’t necessarily think time in between posts is all bad, but sticking to a schedule would be good for us all. I’m also excited about posting more tutorials in 2018, because that’s the content that really benefits those of you who read this blog for the information.

I want to sincerely thank you for reading this little blog, and following along my sewing adventures. I can’t tell you how much fun I have creating and sewing and sharing it with you, and I look forward to even more of that in 2018. And now, with the “misses” out of the way, we can talk about all the things that did work – which is always fun and inspiring.

See you tomorrow!

–Emily