A look back on 2015

I’m a little late with writing this – but not as late as I was last year! So hopefully that counts for something!

Like the title of this post implies, this is going to be a look back on what I made in 2015. I’m going to share my thoughts on each project, my goals for 2016, and my feelings towards this year as a whole. And it’s probably going to be a long one since I made a lot of stuff!

Project wise this year was kind of weird. I don’t mean to be a downer, but i’m not very happy with what I accomplished this year. Not because of how many things I made – I finished more than twenty projects and the majority have multiple pieces, which I think is pretty respectable. But I didn’t enjoy working on a lot of the projects I finished.

When I started off this year I had a plan, and I was determined to stick to it. I had several big elaborate projects I wanted to work on and figured i’d make easy fashion projects in between. Those fashion projects didn’t end up being easy, I actually found them to be really time consuming and draining to work on. But I had the materials for them and they were part of my plan so I kept making them – even though I didn’t enjoy them at all.

That led to rut of sorts, where I didn’t want to work on anything. Especially the really elaborate projects I had originally planned. The enthusiasm for them wasn’t there at all, which is why I only finished one of the three projects I had planned at the beginning of 2015.

Luckily I did get back into the swing of things after a shopping trip to the garment district in October. I picked up materials for a slew of medieval projects which really restored my enthusiasm towards sewing. So I managed to finish the year on a high note, and i’m feeling very inspired and excited about my projects for 2016!

But before talking about those projects, it’s time to look back on 2015…

January: 

In January I started working on the underthings for my Tudor project, which involved making A Pair of Bodies and a Chemise.

But my first project of the year was a cotton sateen polonaise circa 1790, which was intended to be worn over a embroidered satin gown. I finished the dress but the polonaise is currently living in my bin of death and I don’t think it will ever get finished. I could not for the life of me get this thing to fit and eventually gave up due to frustration. Quite sad – in it’s early stages I really liked how it was coming along!

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I did manage to successfully finish one project that month, and that’s my Silvery Blue Dress which is inspired by a gown in the show Galavant. I like how this turned out a lot, and I would like to expand this ensemble by making a cloak to go with it.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first of many blue dresses I made in 2015. More than a third of my projects this year were blue!

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February: 

I continued making Tudor underthings and managed to finish the Farthingale. Alongside that I made the Tudor Kirtle. This is one of my favorite pieces from the year. There was a lot of trial and error involved since I wasn’t very familiar with the silhouettes from that period. That made it quite challenging, but also very enjoyable since I had to get creative. I’m also really pleased with the beading on this dress, it was my first time doing such an elaborate pattern and really inspired me to include more beadwork in my future projects.

My next project was a three piece ensemble which I titled the “Fluffy Feathered Dress” which was inspired by Marchesa dresses. I like how this turned out, and I enjoyed parts of the process. I used a lot of sequins and lace on the bodice to create a variety of textures, which was fun. The rest of the dress was kind of boring to work on by comparison.

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March: 

At this point I became frustrated with my tudor project, so I decided to make a dress from materials I had around. This project ended up being titled the “Pleated Navy Gown“. I enjoyed the process of making this a lot. It was very quick, I made it in less than a week and I think it’s one of the most visually impressive things I made this year. I love the fabrics and the drape of the sleeve.

But this dress isn’t perfect. The bodice is really thick at points, and since it isn’t boned it doesn’t sit very nicely on my body. I need to figure out some way of fixing that before properly photographing this project.

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April: 

I started work on the foundation garments for my 18th century ensemble and managed to finish the Half Boned Stays and Chemise. I realize now that the stays are too big and the fabric for the chemise was way too thick, so both need to be remade in the future. That’s kind of a bummer, but at least i’ll know for next time.

This was also the beginning of my Cinderella dresses from hell, though at this point I only had the Petticoat finished. I think these were the main reason I became so frustrated and uninspired. These were very time consuming, not very enjoyable, and seemed to fight me at every turn. I really wish I had given up on these dresses and moved onto something else instead of working through the misery to finish them.

A project I like more is my Orchid Inspired Dress, which I made from materials I got during my birthday in the middle of the month. This project had it’s ups and downs but for the most part I enjoyed working on it, and I like how it turned out. Though as always, i’d do some things differently next time!

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May: 

I finished one of my Cinderella Dresses but my happiness towards that was overshadowed by my struggles to complete the second dress in the series.

I did manage to figure out the bodice of my Tudor Project, which was great. I was also working pretty intensely on my 18th century dress. I made a set of pocket hoops, the bodice, and dyed the lace for the skirt. Unfortunately that was the last time I worked on that project, and though it isn’t abandoned, I haven’t made any effort to finish it.

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June: 

I finished my Tudor Project this month, which was a huge accomplishment for me. The final pieces include two necklaces, a french hood, foresleeves, and lace cuffs. I have mixed feelings about this project – I love all the detail work put into it, and how the pieces work together, but I don’t think it was completely successful. There are little fit issues here and there and the level of mobility is really bad.

I think my expectations for this project were higher than what it ended up being, which is why I don’t feel completely happy with it. But I am proud of it! I think it’s the most elaborate thing i’ve ever made.

I also FINALLY finished the second Cinderella dress. Thank goodness. This turned out better than I had expected but I hated working on it, so that soured the end result for me.

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July:

This was my favorite month project wise. I got so much done and I love everything that I made.

After months of on/off work I finished a Brown Menswear Ensemble. I made the pants for these in January, the shirt in March, and the hat in July. Those pieces were simple compared to the doublet (which was made in November 2014) but weren’t a big priority of mine, so they took a while to finish. I like how this turned out a lot, I think it’s cute!

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I made my favorite project of the year this month, and that’s my Heinrich Inspired Dress (along with two matching headpieces). I adore everything about this, I don’t think I have a single bad thing to say! It was really fun to make and I think the end result is gorgeous.

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Another one of my favorites is this Taffeta Ensemble based off a portrait of Ana De Mendoza. The dress, hat, and chemise were all made in the same month. I really enjoyed making this. The hat and dress bodice especially. Everything went so smoothly! And I’d never made a hat like this before, so completing it really motivated me to attempt more elaborate headpieces.

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August: 

August was less successful. I had a lot of things in progress throughout the month – including an elaborate mermaid inspired gown which I ended up putting on hiatus. I also started work on my Damask Print Medieval dress, which was fun at first but turned quite frustrating at the end.

I managed to finish three projects. The most successful of the bunch is a Regency Dress and Bonnet made from floral curtains and cotton sateen. I liked this project but I didn’t feel very excited about it while working on it, it was just something to pass the time. And looking back at it I still don’t feel very excited about it! I think it’s cute but needs some alterations before I’ll feel comfortable photographing it.

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The other project I didn’t enjoy very much at all…it was messy, and boring, and quite frustrating at times since I was allergic to all the materials. But I managed to complete my Forest Sprite project. I also made a quick dress in five hours from curtains which was fun, I’ve called that my Ikea Curtain Dress.

September: 

This month my main priority was a Black Lace Dress, which I wore to my Uncle’s wedding. This project ended up being frustrating at times, but I think it turned out very pretty!

I also kept working on my damask print dress, and I made two skirts. One was a plain circle skirt, and the other is a ruffly horsehair skirt. Both were the subjects for youtube tutorials so I never blogged about them.

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October: 

I managed to finish my Damask Print Medieval Dress this month, and a pair of PJ’s inspired by Toothless! I really dislike how the Medieval dress turned out but I think the Toothless PJs are pretty cute!

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With that finished all my “commitments” for the year were done. I didn’t need to create projects for youtube content and most of my WIP’s were complete or abandoned, so I could start fresh! This is when my enthusiasm really came back and I got back to creating projects I really love.

The first of those projects was a Medieval Escoffin and matching Dress. I love this project. It was so much fun to make and I think the end result is quite stunning, and different from everything i’ve made before. I’m very pleased with it!

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November: 

I didn’t finish any projects this month, but I made a lot of progress on various pieces. One of those pieces was a Medieval Cotehardie. I also made a headpiece to go along with a Civil War Era Dress, a medieval hennin, chiffon chemise, and a gold brocade kirtle. I really like how all of these pieces turned out, though I haven’t blogged about any of them yet!

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This month I also began work on a 1630s dress, an 18th century riding coat, medieval mantle, lace chemise,  long toed shoes, and a Burgundian Dress.

December: 

I had a massive to-do list for December. I didn’t accomplish everything on it, but it still ended up being a very productive month. I finished my Burgundian Dress and Medieval Menswear Inspired ensemble, both of which i’m very happy with.

These two projects rank highly on my list of favorites for the year. I really like how all pieces come together to make something interesting and elegant. And since I was constantly working on a new piece of each project I stayed really enthusiastic, which let me pack way more hours of time and detail work into each element.

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And of course I finished my Christmas Project! Which I ended up being surprisingly happy with as well.

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It’s worth mentioning that a good portion of this month was spent beading a riding coat which isn’t finished yet, but is coming along quite nicely. I spent the week between Christmas and New Years Day working on this like crazy. So much beading!

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Now for the fun part – what’s next! I’ll actually have a blog post all about the fabrics I bought with my Christmas money, and what I plan on doing with them. So I won’t talk too much about my future plans, but I did want to share my goals. My goal is actually pretty vague – i’m a bit worried to commit to anything in particular, since that let me into a creative ditch last year!

But my main goal for this year  is to improve my general knowledge of historical fashion, and learn more hand sewing and fabric manipulation techniques.

I like reading and I like learning, but I like sewing more. So I don’t put a lot of effort into research or new techniques unless it’s related to a specific project. And I want to change that. I own a lot of really great reference materials that I look through when i’m stuck on something, but I haven’t read many of them cover-to-cover. And I definitely haven’t practiced all the techniques that are detailed in some of the books.

There are some really basic techniques, like blanket stitching or smocking that I don’t know how to do, since i’ve never had a project that requires them. This year i’m going to try and push myself to learn and practice those techniques, even if they are only used to create a sampler.

I think if I took a few hours each week to read through my reference books i’d have a more well rounded skill set and knowledge of historical fashion. Right now what I know is pretty limited to european fashion from the 15/19th centuries. And even that is a little spotty. I’m interested in learning more, and I have the books around to do so, I just need to take the time to read them!

As for project plans, mine are very loose because I never seem to be able to stick to the solid plans I make, and this year I don’t want to, I want to work on what I feel enthusiastic about and go with the flow. But I do have a few things I would like to accomplish and that includes:

-A draped gown. Probably inspired by the statues from the Metropolitan Museum of art that I was fascinated by. I have the fabric for this (ten yards of satin faced red chiffon).

-An 18th Century Project. I’d be happy just to finish the one I have in progress! But I have fabric for a turque and chemise a la reiene so the possibilities are endless.

-A 20th Century Project. More on this in my next post, since I picked up fabric for this on a recent NYC shopping trip!

-A Regency dress. I’ve made a few of these but don’t love any of them, maybe i’ll get one right this year.

-A big ball gown. Probably a Civil War Era evening dress – potentially made out of pink cotton sateen and lace that i’ve had forever.

-Something Tailored. Maybe a women’s suit? A riding ensemble? I’m not sure what.

Of course there are many more things i’d like to make. Another menswear inspired project is on my list for this year, and I want to make a women’s cotehardie very soon. I also have four projects I purchased fabric for over Christmas, which will keep me busy for the first half of this year. But I can’t list all my ideas, there are simply too many to share!

Also I think i’m going to, for the most part, be doing more of the same this year. I’m hoping to get more of my projects photographed, and take on a wider variety of silhouettes and era so my portfolio has a little more variety. But I think my blogging schedule will stay the same if not more frequent.

And that’s it! This post is massive so I’ll end it here. I hope you enjoyed my blog throughout 2015 and that you continue to enjoy it throughout the new year. And of course, I hope your year is off to a good start!

Thanks for reading!

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