2017 in review: the hits

I live in a constant state of “Oooh, I want to make that!” and “I’m so excited about all the sewing projects!” My enthusiasm for this craft knows no bounds. I might need a sewing break every now and then after an intense project, but I’m never short on inspiration – and my sewing wish list is never empty. There’s always something to look forward to, and it’s especially enjoyable when you have a handle on your style and feel pretty good about what works for you and what doesn’t. This year has been great in terms of knowing my style well and making things that reflect that. And now that we’ve gotten the misses out of the way, I can talk about all the things I love to pieces.

Before we dive in, a little scheduling note. Last week I mentioned that we’d be talking about the embroidered jacket today, but I decided to push that post to tomorrow. There’s lots of pictures to edit and things to explain, and I needed the extra day to put it all together. So today, let’s spotlight the goods of 2017. (Hits from January through May can be seen here. This post covers June to December.)

Hit #1: The gingham dress & the navy satin dress.

These dresses make me so happy. Neither is an everyday dress or the most practical item in my closet, but they are nonetheless the epitome of my style and pieces I treasure. It started in the spring with the idea for the gingham dress. I wanted something with a tie element but I needed more coverage in the back – so I drafted the pattern myself. I love the midriff piece cut on the bias and the frayed edges of the ties. I worked hard to get the fit right for this dress, and it paid off.

I wanted another version eventually, and when I got this navy satin from TÉLIO I knew it would be perfect for this design. This version is slightly different, and there is horsehair in the hem band and black bias tape in each seam for some separation and visual interest.

Hit #2: the cardigan.

What makes a “favorite” or “most successful” project? How well it’s made? How often you wear it? I think any number of things contribute to “hits” status, but cost per wear is definitely a criteria. In 2016 I made a cardigan coat (please look beyond the not-so-great photos), and it was a fun project and also quite practical. In terms of casual style, especially in the chillier months, I wear lots of jeans and cardigans over a tee or button up blouse so cardigans are a practical, everyday item for me. Just like most everything else I make, I don’t want a basic, plain cardigan. I want something with just a little more style to it, and and I love that there’s a little extra swish to this cardigan. I also love the color, and the addition of the sash belt makes it much more my style. I’ve worn this cardigan a number of times since I made it, and I’d like to make it in a couple more colors.

Hit #3: the red Christmas dress.

 This is my favorite dress of the year. I love every single thing about it, especially the fabric and color. It’s another second version of a previously made pattern (see the first one here), and this is a silhouette that works well for my body type. I made some changes to the pattern so that I could add side seam pockets and move the zipper to the back – and I’m just as happy with those alterations the second time around. There’s horsehair in the hem, and the dress is fully lined in bemberg rayon. It’s nothing short of dreamy to wear. I see a lot more red projects in 2018.

Hit #4: the fitted dress.

Boy oh boy, this dress. The versatility of this dress is what lands it on the hits list. That, and the fit and how good I feel in it. I love the long sleeves and the higher neckline. To me, there’s something so special about a dress that fits well but leaves pretty much everything to the imagination. I’ll be making this again in a couple lighter, more cheerful colors and prints this spring. It’s also an easier, less time consuming project which I can appreciate after something more involved like a lined dress with a hem band or a dress in a finicky fabric that took days and days to make. I love the challenge of the more difficult projects, but I also appreciate the balance of making something easy right after.

Hit #5: the embroidered jacket.

A hits list without a mention of this jacket is incomplete.  It’s taken me the better part of this year to gear up for the embroidery projects I have in mind. I’m both glad I took the time to get comfortable with the process and annoyed that I didn’t get into embroidery sooner. I made this jacket over the course of three days, and it was the most fun I’ve had making anything this year. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, but bringing that vision to life was both hilarious and awesome. Some of the designs are made on the software I have, and some come with the DESIGNER EPIC™ sewing and embroidery machine. This project kept me on my toes from start to finish, thinking about the proportions, making sure the designs fit the size of the patterns, mirroring each one, and then cutting each piece out so that it was perfectly symmetrical. All this while working with less than two yards of fabric and keeping each piece on grain. There was no room for error or I would have run out of fabric!

I can see tons of areas where this could be improved, but given the fact that it’s only the second embroidery project I’ve made (see the first one here), I am absolutely ecstatic to tackle even more embroidered and embellished projects in 2018. I’m looking forward to a new year and a fresh start because I love the possibilities that come with the unknown. In terms of specific projects and content, I have a number of ideas but the exciting part is what you can’t plan for, the opportunities that may come up.

Plans for 2018:

More tutorials: This year, I wrote a number of tutorials, ranging from button extensions and the striped skirt to slanted front pockets and adding a back vent in a straight skirt. All helpful and informative, but there’s so much more I can contribute. Next year, look for these (and more) tutorials: plotting for embellishment, tips for sewing blouses, working with lace, underlining, hem bands and facings, using bias tape, and tutorials for sewing bags.

A wider range of projects: For the most part, I make things that I wear in my real life. I wear jeans in the fall and winter, but I rarely wear pants or coats. It occurred to me recently that that might be because I don’t have either of those things in my closet, not because I don’t like them. I actually love wide leg pants and I can’t stop thinking about a couple of coat ideas, so 2018 will be the year of new styles in the mix.

Added details: I will never make undies or tees or workout clothes, because I just don’t care. I’m not making my own clothes in protest against excess or as a way to reuse or up-cycle old fabrics. Not that there’s a thing wrong with that if it’s your thing – I just can’t resist new, pretty fabrics, and there are plenty of places that sell fantastic white tees. I do, however, have a need for a few basics, but I’m the girl who favors “elevated” basics. Why can’t a wool cape have rhinestone and glass bead embellishment on it? I’m looking forward to new projects with interesting elements and embroidery and embellishments.

I’m ready for a new year and new challenges. Here’s to a new year of possibilities!


P.S. One funny note: two of the dresses on the hits list have broken zippers. Both the navy satin dress and the red Christmas dresses were finished and steamed and ready to go on picture day, and the moment I put them on the zippers broke. So, in all of the photos of both of those dresses, I have it clipped together in the back – which is why there are no pictures of the back of those dresses. So, not only will I not be using invisible zippers for quite some time (curse you, you hateful zippers that only work about half the time), I can’t even wear either of those dresses until the zipper is replaced.

Broken zippers and frustrating things happen to all of us, even in our best projects. Keep going, keep sewing! <3


  1. Heather Myers | 28th Dec 17

    Thanks for this review, so fun — and informative! I appreciate your posts, and as you know bought my new sewing machine based on your comments! Happy New Year!

  2. PsychicSewerKathleen | 27th Dec 17

    Your makes are always so gorgeous Emily but this selection is to the moon! You’re absolutely right that you know what suits you and you stay focused on that end to great success. Your navy dress especially and your navy sweater are absolutely beautiful but that off-white sweater-coat with the fringe is another make that I just love.

    • Emily | 28th Dec 17

      I’m so glad! I should probably do the off-white sweater-coat justice and take some decent photographs of it. It really is a nice piece, and I was glad to rescue it from my closet this season. Here’s to knowing and works and sticking with it! <3 Thank you, as always, for the comment!

  3. NaturalDane | 27th Dec 17

    Another great round up and I loved all your M6886 dresses and the red dress….GORGEOUS

  4. Lisa G | 27th Dec 17

    Your hits are all fabulous! I just love your blog and THANK YOU for showing us that little tidbit at the end. It’s encouraging to know that the “bad stuff” doesn’t only happen to us amateurs!! 🙂 Happy new year, and I can’t wait to see what you bring to the blog in 2018!

    • Emily | 28th Dec 17

      Hey, Lisa! You’re so welcome, and you’re so right! It is helpful to see the “real” part of all this. It would be so icky to just gloss over the parts that aren’t pretty or easy or perfectly styled. Happy New Year to you too, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us. Thank you so much for following along and commenting. I appreciate it! <3

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