Top 5 of 2013

Top 5 button

I have really enjoyed reading all the Top 5 posts – both hits and misses – on Gillian’s blog Crafting A Rainbow – it’s such a cool idea to be able to look back at what everyone made and find out what worked for them (and didn’t) and why – it has been so interesting to read about which things were blogged but then never worn for one reason or another.

I only got started in June this year and I haven’t been the most prolific blogger – it has taken me a while to get pictures of some makes and I got stuck for a long time on things like my Thurlows which slowed everything down – so I thought I didn’t have much to say for this post but actually it has turned that I have a lot I want to talk about!


The over-arching achievement for me is that I started sewing again and I have made things that I can wear. I lost some weight this year but I am not sure that I have arrived at a settled weight yet so I hadn’t been buying anything new. Sewing has made it possible to have new clothes that really fit and I have loved challenging myself to get better and try new things. So in no particular order – here are the things I am most pleased with!

The Silver Hawthorn

hawthorn mini

I was really pleased with how this turned out – it was definitely the most challenging thing I had made at that point and the collar and button holes are far from perfect but I loved the fit (after taking it in at the waist at the last minute) and the shape of the skirt worked really well for me. The very best thing was that people at work have complimented me on it and were impressed that I had made it! It felt like a huge achievement

New and Blue Anna

blueanna front

I haven’t blogged this as I have been rubbish at getting pictures. After the Anna fail I really wanted to revisit the pattern – so many people had made gorgeous versions and I knew from my first muslin that the pattern would work on me. It took me a little while to find some new fabric and get round to re-making it. This time I went up a size to be on the safe side, as a few people had mentioned how it can be quite close-fitting over the tummy. I am so pleased with the new version – particularly the invisible zip which was a challenge the first time round. I wore it at Christmas and I think this will get quite a lot of wear at work next year.

Grey skirt

6843 birgitte front mini

This was another version of the pattern I used for my very first skirts – New Look 6843. The pattern is a very basic straight skirt but I like the look of the two darts at the back and the pattern goes together very easily. I think the fabric really makes this – it feels incredibly soft and luxurious and suits the pencil skirt shape – it genuinely makes me feel like wiggling my hips more when I wear it which must be a good thing!

Knit t-shirts!


The Kimono T was my very first t-shirt and the first time I sewed with knit fabric. I was so pleased that I could make such a key wardrobe basic – it was kind of a revelation to me! I also loved the Grainline Studio Hemlock T so much that I made three – one as a gift. Recently I added Maria Denmark’s Birgitte T as well which has also had a lot of wear at work.

Moss Mini

moss mini mini

This was the first thing I made which gave me real fitting problems and I struggled with it – the pattern doesn’t have a huge differential between waist and hip so my muslin didn’t really fit either my hips or waist! After a lot of research online I worked out a solution and ended up with a skirt that I loved – I think I loved it more because I had to figure out the fit rather than just being able to make it straight off. I want to make another one soon as the fabric on the first one hasn’t held up very well.


I am pleased that I don’t have too much to include here – that feels like a good place to be. I think I have been quite careful in the projects I have chosen and focussed on things that I knew I would want to wear – my misses have been about my skills shortfalls or stupid mistakes!

Green skirt


This was one of the first things I made and I really liked this skirt and loved the spotty lining. I hadn’t pre-washed the fabric and of course as soon as I washed it the linen shrank but the lining didn’t  – leaving the lining hanging down below the hem. I could probably re-hem the lining to correct this but I haven’t got round to it yet! At least i got this key lesson out of the way early on I guess…

Anna fail

BHL Anna

This was such a combination of mishaps resulting in my first unwearable make (actually I have worn it twice but I have struggled to breathe each time and have now given it away) Having re-made the dress now (a hit!) I think the size I cut was always going to be a little tight and the fabric frayed a lot. I had to unpick the zip which resulted in more lost seam allowance and the result was a dress that was too tight around the waist. As if that wasn’t enough, the pattern matching was non-existent which looked a bit ropy in places and the zip wasnt aligned properly! Definitely a learning experience overall but it made me dtermined to revisit it and do better.


thurlow mini

Although I ended up with wearable trousers (though I haven’t worn them because a) by the time I finished them it was too cold to wear linen trousers and b) I  haven’t hemmed them) I found the whole fitting process really hard and I don’t feel as if I have worked out how to resolve the fitting problems I had. I ended up messing around with the back a lot on my final version and redoing the darts with some additional help and I know I can’t reproduce what I did so I can’t make another pair from that pattern! I will wear the trousers in spring and see how they feel – and I will probably try again sometime next year!

Blogging and Photos

I have started from scratch with my blog and I am absolutely thrilled that a few people have found it and read it and even made comments. There are so many funny, helpful and interesting blogs out there that I have loved reading and I hope that readers might occasionally find something useful in my experiences. I haven’t been posting very consistently and I am still getting to grips with choosing and editing photos and working out what is useful information to include. These are definitely areas to work on next year.

So that is my first six months as a sewist and blogger! I have learned a lot and challenged myself and there were things I was really happy with in all my misses as well as my hits. I hope this is just the start of a whole new part of my life. I started with a fairly basic second hand sewing machine this year and I just got an amazing new machine for Christmas so I look forward to seeing what I can do next year!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Annie says:

    You are doing fabulous! I have been sewing for a while but this past summer I started to blog about it. For me, balancing blogging, sewing, and work are challenging. I am glad I clicked on your link from Crafting a Rainbow. Here is to 2014!


    1. mrszandstra says:

      Thank-you – I’m so pleased I started sewing again – it has really given me a sense of achievement. I just need to be better about keeping up with the blogging side!



  2. Laurie says:

    You have some great makes! I am glad you revisited the Anna dress. I made 3 this year and they are my favorite things to wear. I have the Thurlows pattern and am determined to give them a shot this year but I worry that I am not going to be able to wrap my head around the fitting issues. But I have a book… I have the pattern… and I am going to get a Craftsy class (probably the jeans one) and give it a whirl!


    1. mrszandstra says:

      I found the Thurlows a huge struggle and I know I haven’t cracked fit issues by a long way – but I will go back and try again next year and I did get wearable trousers in the end which is a good result for all the pain!
      Louise x


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