2015 as a skirt

I love reflection, especially at the end of the year. I was heartily disappointed to miss participating in Gillian’s Top 5 series, but I continue to have so many favorite pieces still to be blogged that joining in didn’t quite make sense.

Instead, to celebrate the quickly approaching Lunar New Year, I present one garment to represent the year that was 2015 – my skirt created for the September wedding I attended.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

There’s nothing complicated about the construction or the design. Yes, I did draft it but I just followed a recipe from my drafting manual. Yet it epitomizes 2015 for me.

Permit me a bit of a metaphysical ramble. Like nearly all of my friends, family, acquaintances and many fellow bloggers, I underwent the process prescribed by Mari Kondo in The Magical Art of Tidying Up. And I benefitted, as expected – my living space has been reoriented to support me instead of my stuff, and my socks and undies are happily nested in leftover cardboard boxes that fit them perfectly.

But the fundamental question she requires the reader to ask of their belongings – does it spark joy? – quietly and sneakily turned my world upside down. Like my fabric-buying process, most of my decisions have been the product of tortuous mental exercises. I realized how few decisions in my life took joy into account.

So, I decided to make joy my decision-making criteria for the year. I joined an improvisational dance group, without any goal beyond moving my body for a couple of hours every week with a wonderful bunch of women. Sewing hours were more readily set aside for friend and family time. I changed jobs, going back to a full-time regular position on the team I’d left in 2013; it had nothing that I said I’d wanted (flexibility, sustainability focus) but the new role gave me a chance to work with people I really liked and it just spoke to me. I went to Japan. I went clubbing, for Pete’s sake.

I found myself buying fabrics in rainbow palettes that I would have chosen as a 7-year-old, without any of my usual dithering, and sewing up impractical things like Gabriola skirts.

This skirt fabric was one such purchase; I saw it, picked it up and walked it straight to the cutting counter. It sat on my fabric shelf, very noticeable among the solids, but it wasn’t until my friend’s wedding that it demanded to be a simple flared skirt. It was the perfect piece to wear to the wedding. Even in a particularly joyful year, dancing under the stars late at night to atrocious Top 40 music from the nineties stands out.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

The magical cloud of joy that carried me through most of 2015 sputtered out after Japan in October. Major changes started happening at my job. We lost our beloved kitty Orson in late October quite suddenly. Chronic health problems that had miraculously disappeared earlier in the year came back with a vengeance. I was exhausted, and needed to take care of myself.

But I wouldn’t trade my experiment for anything; it was a much-needed tonic and after a rocky couple of months, I’m finally ready for the new year that’s somehow already a month underway.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

I don’t have a particular goal or inspiration for 2016, but I’m wishing you joy and all other good things you may need this year.

Back to life, back to reality

Some days ago, we returned from spectacular two-week trip to Japan. I’ve talked a little bit about my background in this post, but part of my family came from Japan several generations ago. I’d wanted to go since I was a kid, but somehow this was my first trip. I’m not sure I can adequately express my excitement and my expectations before going, or the mix of familiarity and strangeness of a culture my family came from many decades ago.

crabandbee.com | Roscoe Dress

What made the trip feel less overwhelming and the country more accessible was information and welcoming from sewing friends. I reached out to Gillian, Inna and Sanae with newbie questions about what to do, where to stay and how to get around, and they did a better job of getting me oriented and even more excited about the trip than any guidebook.

crabandbee.com | Kyoto

And as luck would have it, Inna and I overlapped by one day in Kyoto, during which she took me on an amazing whirlwind tour of the sewing shops near the indoor markets. Our menfolk met up afterwards for a fun little dinner. The very next day, we left for Tokyo by train and I got to meet Yoshimi, Novita, and Chie for tea! Talk about spoiled. (And I apparently managed to miss Amy by some minutes in Nippori Fabric Town!)

crabandbee.com | Nippori Fabric Town

For the past few years, I’ve intermittently asked myself if I want to continue blogging and why. It does require an investment of time, and I am purely a hobby blogger. The online sewing world is growing exponentially and becoming more commercial, and I wonder if I’m short-sighted for meandering along without any particular goal beyond sewing and writing/reading about it.

And then something like this trip happens, where I’m nearly 5,000 miles from my home and I have sewing friends to meet up with. And they’re just like they are on their blogs, only more interesting!

crabandbee.com | Tokyo bloggers

The trip revealed my infrequently-seen maximalist side. We walked over 10 miles a day for two weeks, pushing ourselves to see a tiny fraction of what was beautiful and strange in Japan, consoling ourselves with thoughts of a return trip. But now I’m back, adjusting to my regular life and have had some time to reflect on how grateful I am to all the sewing folks who made our trip wonderful.

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Now, to make some time to sew up the fabrics I bought in Japan…

In-between times

It’s been a few weeks since my sister’s wedding, but it’s still weird being done with the dress. In the month leading up to the wedding, I spend 30-ish hours a week on the dress, kicking up to about 60 hours in the week before. And in the six months before that, I spent anywhere from 5-15 hours per week on it.  The time I spent sewing was the tip of the iceberg, however, compared to how much time I spent thinking about it. Given a construction problem (when and how to underline, boning channel placement, sew-in cups, neckline stabilization…), I’ll chew it over and over like the ruminant I am. A perpetual internal dialog about construction and 200+ hours of sewing is a commitment of a completely different scale than what I’ve invested in any previous project, including my coat. I loved (almost) every minute of it, but it’s left me in a rather odd state.

For one, I’ve come to the realization that I bought a bunch of sewing stuff while in my wedding dress trance – vintage/used patterns and some new (and rather vibrant) fabrics. I got to hang out with Sanae this week and she hypothesized that my sewing wishes were coming out in the form of purchases. I completely agree. Even though I loved sewing the dress, I still lusted after other projects that had to be put off.

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Paradoxically, with all the fabric and patterns and projects ready for me, I’ve found it a bit hard to get sewing again since finishing. I’ll get excited about it when I’m at work, but will end up happier spending time in our until-now neglected garden or watching Star Trek TNG with Nathan. I did plod through a black linen Gabriola last weekend. I love wearing it, but the sewing felt a bit like a chore.

crabandbee.com|garden

So I’m rolling with that feeling. I’ve gotten less and less good at forcing myself into things, which I’m taking as a sign of personal growth. “Disciplined” and “motivated” were words that people used to describe me when I was younger. Those compliments were like food to me at the time, but when I look back I realize how little I trusted my own instincts and interests at that age. I worked for good grades in every subject because that’s how I viewed success and I logged miles of running and ate low-fat foods because that’s how I viewed health. I try to ease off sewing when I get that duty-bound feeling, that I should be sewing because it’s the only way to enjoy myself. When that beyond-excited-to-sew obsessive feeling comes rushing back, though, you’d better believe I’ll be following into my sewing room.

So for now, I’ll leave you with a peek of the lace draping for my sister’s dress bodice. Still trying to figure out how to blog about this project…

crabandbee.com | wedding dress lace draping

What do you do after finishing a large project? Any rituals to share?

Some thoughts on 2014

I typed this title and started blankly at the text field for awhile. How do you sum up a year?

Maybe it’s best to consider how it began. I started this year blissfully unemployed. Then I went back to full-time work as a contractor. It was a rough transition, but it happened at the right time. I’d done all the reflecting and rejuvenating I possibly could, and I needed to hatch from my cocoon before I started stagnating. There’s a part of me that feels like if I’d just stuck with those feelings a little longer I might have found the perfect balance of employment, free time and 100% fulfilling work but that’s probably untrue. Being at home for so long was starting to shake my confidence in my ability to interact with other humans, which has never been that strong.

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Hiding from my office party

So I went back to work and my sewing changed. The “thinking” part of sewing lessened in favor of the “making” part. I spent the early part of this year working on my bodice sloper and adapting a pleated pants pattern into a jeans pattern, but my spring and summer was full of dresses and tops and wearing the jeans enough to realize that a) they would need future improvements and b) they should be given to my sister.

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Unblogged V.2 jeans

Now that I’ve become re-accustomed to working, my desire for longer projects is increasing again. I made a jacket. I fitted and sewed a button-down for one of our best friends who doesn’t fit RTW. After a year of talking about it, I’m sewing a coat that should be done by the end of this month. It’s been a slow process, with the construction interspersed with lots of book flipping and internet scrolling, but to me that signals I’m learning something.

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Next year, I’m slated to sew a wedding dress for my sister and I’d like to renew my quest for awesome pants. The quickest way for me to develop an aversion to something is to set a hard goal to complete it, so (aside from the wedding dress) I’m not going to do that. I’ll just say this: I’m excited for another year with you people, shared through the magical lens of sewing and creating.

Dressing like a feminist

Since I posted last, I finished my jacket (snapshot at the end of this post) as well as a Pierrot-style clown costume for Halloween, but neither has seen any wear! The weather has turned quite cold and rainy, and I came down with a gnarly head cold that prevented me from any Halloween reveling. I hope to have pictures of one or both soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share some reflections on a topic near and dear to my heart.

When I was a sophomore in college in the early aughts, my uncle and parents visited me. We went to the mall, because that’s what we did back then for fun. As we walked through the perfumed air, my uncle said something I never forgot: “You know that women’s fashion is all about vulnerability, right?”

The more I thought about it, the more examples I came up with. Tight waists that restrict breathing and make eating difficult. Long hair and jewelry to grab. Exposed skin. Constricting skirts and pants that limit range of motion. No pockets, which necessitates carrying a bag. Shoes that prevent the wearer from running, walking or sometimes even standing in for more than 20 minutes. Sizes and shapes that make people feel like genetic aberrations. And, perhaps most debilitating, the expectation that women should be gorgeous, fashionable or at least “current” at all times so you have a hard time thinking about other things.

I’ve worn all of the garments and accessories I’ve listed above. Skinny jeans that were so tight I’m pretty sure they gave me heartburn? Yep. Painfully tall, cheaply-made, blister-inducing heels? Yep. As I get more comfortable in my skin, my tolerance for these particular sorts of pain has declined dramatically. Physical comfort is on par with aesthetics for me now. I’m done with skirts I need to keep adjusting or shirts that cut into my armpits. I tend to wear shoes that I can walk at least a mile in. At the same time, I’ve never been more certain about what I want to wear and look like.

I think making your own clothing can be an act of resistance to the shortcomings of mainstream fashion – I’m empowered to make the clothes I need and want, and I can make them to fit me. I know techniques to make my clothes last longer than the store-bought items I could afford, so I’m not always scrambling for replacements. My imagination, skill level and free time are the constraints I work within. I feel lucky.

I still think a good deal about fashion and clothing, and sometimes I question the amount of time I spend on sewing and sewing-related activities. Aside from work, it’s without a doubt what I spend the most time doing. “Sewing” has come to encompass a whole range of activities for me, however: learning, writing, working with my hands after a day of digital work, challenging myself, relaxing, meeting people and being creative, with the hope of a useful object at the end of the process. I like new clothes quite a bit, but would they be interesting enough on their own to sustain my sewing practice?

On the flip side, my interest in clothing and sewing looks dramatically different from others’. I have friends who enjoy the performative aspects of fashion.  Playing with gender and identity through clothing can be extremely powerful and, I think, a feminist act as much as dressing to suit your body and comfort. That exploration may include the 6″ heels, a three-piece suit, a shaved head or cleavage for days. Why a person wears something can easily be as important as what they’re wearing.

Given how much time and thought most of us invest in our home-sewn garments, do these sorts of considerations enter into what you sew? Has making your own clothing changed how you dress yourself?

All about ME

Last week, Lisa G of Notes from a Mad Housewife very kindly tagged Melanie and me in the blog hop on writing that’s going around. Being something of a rule-follower, I tried to find the origin of the blog hop. I traced it back, 6 blogs deep – Lisa, Heather, Leila, and three new-to-me blogs – without any mention of the original hopper. This sewing blog land of ours is vast! Without being able to reference the original post, I don’t know what the intent of the hop is, but what swayed me to participate was just how much I enjoyed seeing these posts popping up in my reader.

Why do I write?
I don’t remember why exactly I started a sewing blog. My first few months of consuming sewing content on the internet are hazy. I wanted to make things and I needed a lot of help. I would look up projects on the internet and invariably end up mucking around Burdastyle without understanding how it worked. I joined the now-defunct Wardrobe Refashion because I was just so interested in what people were doing. After a few months of lurking on WR, I shared my first project with great trepidation – a Burda dress made from a thrifted sheet with some of my illustrations screenprinted on it, shot in Photo Booth on my computer – and people were both kind and helpful. I guess eventually I felt the pull to contribute my own content to the online sewing world in a more involved way. I started two other blogs before Crab & Bee – originally a collaboration with my sister – really took shape.

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I’ve continued blogging because I really enjoy reading about sewing and the creative process, and it’s so heartening to know that other people share those interests. It’s about documenting, too: it’s exciting to have a tangible way to track my progress in and attitude towards sewing over the years.

I write in general because I’ve always written. I started a journal at age 5 and have kept one ever since. I don’t really understand something until I’ve written it down, whether it’s how I’m feeling or my grocery list.

How does my writing process work?
I suppose the writing process starts with the sewing process, when I start narrating to myself. It’s hard to justify my narration habit if I don’t blog, so at this point, I’m committed. Once my project is finished, pictures are next. I take the straightforward approach to photography – I’m most interested in capturing the look, fit and feel of a garment. I make sure to capture the details I want to discuss, and then order my photographs in a way that feels natural. By then, writing feels like a mad lib. I don’t try to control much of what I’ve written.

For someone who frequently shares pictures of themselves on the internet, I tend to be a private person with a tendency towards brevity. I think both of these qualities are fine, even admirable in certain situations, but I realized a couple of years ago that one of the things that makes a sewing blog more meaningful to me is the connection I feel with its writer. In the hopes of creating the kind of blog I’d want to read, I’ve been trying to put more of myself into my posts beyond just how large of a broad back adjustment I need. It’s a work in progress – as is the broad back adjustment.

How does it differ from others of its genre?
One of my fantasy projects would be doing a big affinity diagram of sewing bloggers. There are a lot of overlapping themes and interests in the sewing blog world. My main interests are sustainable sewing (and exploring what that even means), fitting and adapting patterns, durability and the techniques to achieve it, and sewing my entire wardrobe in styles I love, with a little textile art thrown in. This isn’t the ambitious affinity diagram, but I did want to share a few blogs I look to for inspiration around these themes:

Sustainable sewing: So, Zo, YoSaMi, A Handmade Wardrobe, Gloria & Me
Adapting patterns and pattern-making: Heather B, Madalynne
Durability and technique: Notes from a Mad Housewife
Creating a wardrobe: Fabric Tragic, What Katie Sews, Handmade by Carolyn
Styles I love: Sew StylistOh, She Dabbles
Textile art: Rolling in Cloth, Liza Jane Sews, SallieOh

I think what makes any blog unique is the combination of the writer’s personality and interests, their approach to the creative process and what they create.

What am I working on?
Too many things! I’m playing with a couple of Scraptember ideas as well as sewing scrap undies, making a couple of mens’ shirts as gifts, and muslining and planning some early-fall sewing so I’m not as cold as I was last year. That’s plenty, but I’d love to make another pair of jeans and play around with my newly-completed bodice sloper.

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Nominations
I’d like to nominate Ebony of Sew Stylist and Sarah from Fabric Tragic. I can’t get enough of Ebony’s style these days – I can imagine looking in her closet and seeing a harmonious wardrobe sewn up in a beautiful mix of solids and tasteful prints. I love Sarah’s intense focus on wearable workhorse pieces, with the occasional Sound of Music singalong costume thrown in for good measure. Also, she cracks me up with her choice phrases – “lady garden” comes to mind. (Ebony and Sarah – no pressure to write up your own post!)

What are some of your sewing interests, and which other bloggers share them?

Monochrome

 

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I took a 6-week collage class recently. I felt a little silly signing up (was there more to collage than glueing paper cutouts onto other stuff?), but I felt very drawn to it, and it turned out to be a fantastic class. I learned all kinds of cool new techniques, and my teacher and fellow students were very inspiring. We got to raid an enormous pile of salvaged art supplies and the wood shop scrap pile.

My teacher noticed that I was making a lot of work in black, white and grey. This seems to have been true for my more recent sewing projects, too, so I thought I’d share a little color-coded photo essay.

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Paste-paper mobile, now hanging in our living room.

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Shredded knit fabric scraps on a wood background. (Video tutorial on how to shred t-shirts here, by Childhood Flames).

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Python leggings, with swap fabric gifted to me by the lovely Heather B.

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Collaged wood blocks for my nephew.

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The most basic of basics, a white tee for my husbo.

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Collage and paint on wood.

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Medium transfer (teeth), shredded fabric pieces, dot collage, vintage magazine collage. I think my multi-talented sister made the ceramic piece?

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A work in progress.

I noticed that it was really hard to keep the photos themselves monochromatic! The lighting colored the whites yellow or blue, I have some earthy wood backgrounds on a lot of my pieces and furniture, and I apparently like blue accents. As soon as I look at my photos with a white background, it becomes apparent how much tone is behind them.

I know I won’t be creating in monochrome forever, but there is something liberating about it – I’ve been focusing more on texture and composition – even as I’m looking forward to the colors of spring.

 

The grand experiment

Last year, I took stock of my lifestyle with regards to sustainability. Just over a year has gone by, and it feels like time to re-visit this concept. That said, I can’t really re-visit this concept without mentioning that I decided to take a few months off of work, starting last November. While I adhered to a lot of my personal sustainability goals (buying used clothing, reducing packaging waste, eating mostly veggie, etc.), here are some of the most striking areas ways my life has been different in the last few months:

Creativity
Focusing on creative projects was my main goal during my time off. I’ve been drawing and sewing like crazy, and educating myself about pattern-making and fit. I’ve been taking art classes (in the day time!) as well. It’s been dreamy, and I don’t think I would have had the energy and focus to embark on these longer-term projects while I was working. Sewing was therapy when I was working, which (for me) tended to entail simpler projects.

crabandbee.com | illustration, copyright crabandbee.com

Emotional capacity
I feel infinitely more capable of giving my whole attention to the people in front of me. This includes the usual suspects – my husband, my friends, my family – but also people I happen to interact with.

Food
While I loathe food waste, it was much harder to keep on top of it last year. I’d find little produce bags of spoiled cilantro every week in our fridge. Since November, we eat all of our fresh food, all of our leftovers and make significant dents in our bulk staples like oats and rice. We’re on a skeleton budget right now, with time to cook, so we focus on produce and bulk food instead of packaged foods (which are both expensive and create lots of waste). I’ve even been making bread for Nathan!

Health
Hand in hand with eating changes is how I feel. Before November, I would have estimated that my stomach was angry about 40% of my waking life; recently, it’s been felt like 5%! And, for the past few years I’ve favored sewing, cruising the internet, and most other activities over exercise or sleep, but I’ve been putting myself to bed before midnight and actually making time for yoga.

Spending
It behooves me to spend less money when I’m not making any, of course, but I noticed that a lot of my discretionary spending dried up more effortlessly  than I would have expected once I’d left my job. Purchases made out of convenience, lunches out, and transportation constituted a lot of my spending, not to mention the online fabric and pattern shopping I’d do to distract myself during breaks at work. I think most of us aim to net more than we spend when we work, but I found it eye-opening to see which expenditures were tied to my working lifestyle.

So what’s next?
As you’ve probably guessed, this life isn’t sustainable in the literal sense of the word. This experiment has a shelf life. I’m not independently wealthy – I just saved up for a long time, knowing that this was a gift I wanted to give myself, and I’ve managed to avoid long-term financial burdens. I feel unbelievably lucky to have gotten to do this.

After three months, here are my conclusions. I haven’t minded trading full-time income for creative time. Time to take excellent care of myself and others has also been worth it. Conveniently, I’ve found I also enjoy a frugal lifestyle! My next career move has yet to be solidified, but I will be incorporating my learnings into my search.

Have you ever had a dramatic change in lifestyle? What did you learn about yourself?

Also! Those of you interested in clean beauty will be excited to hear that I’ll be hosting a joint giveaway with my sister (of Pollen & Wax) next week. Stay tuned!

Top 5 inspirations of 2013

I decided to share some of my inspirations outside of sewing this year. I’m not sure if any of these will found their way into my sewing but all of them have changed me in some way this year.

1. The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde

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This book really changed how I thought about creativity, economy and mythology. It’s hard to imagine a book that can say so much on such broad topics, while still being specific and well-researched, but it does. (The book was so good, in fact, that Orson ate some chunks out of the cover.)

2. Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…”

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Photo source: nytimes.com

I’ve been listening to “The Idler Wheel…” non-stop for the entire year (it came out in the spring of 2012). I liked and loved her previous albums but this one is a work of genius (and I don’t say that lightly). Musically and lyrically, it’s sad, funny, bitter and jubilant. Lyrics I didn’t fully grasp from listening will pop into my head at appropriate moments in life.

3. Minimalism

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My fabric stash in early 2013

This was my #3 inspiration last year, too, but I mean it in a different way. Last year, stylistic minimalism was on my mind. This year, I started focusing more on de-cluttering, organizing, and focusing on exactly what it is I need to live happily and creatively. Philippa introduced me to some excellent minimalist blogs that I refer to frequently for inspiration. I still tend to attract clutter, and my scrap stash is contained but large, so this will continue to be an area of focus in 2014 for me!

4. Dance

Chouinard Chopin

I’m pretty surprised to find dance on my list of inspirations this year. I danced ballet throughout my childhood and dabbled in modern at college, but could never learn choreography quickly. Nonetheless, I found myself very drawn to dance this year as a spectator. I saw Compagnie Marie Chouinard and Les Ballets Trockaderos live, and watched documentaries (Pina, Ballets Russe, Paris is Burning). I’m probably not going to start up any kind of dance practice, but I’m starting to appreciate the creative language and possibilities of dance.

5. Kiki Smith’s drawings

Kiki Smith Pool of Tears
source: ULAE, Inc.

I had become familiar with Kiki Smith’s sculptural work in college but hadn’t realized how much she worked on paper until I found the book  “Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things” at Powell’s last January. Her work is really visceral, sometimes confrontational, but always compelling to look at. I also learned that she silkscreened her drawings onto fabric and clothing when she was younger.

Back soon with my last Top 5 post: learnings and goals!

Top 5 hits of 2013

My ambitions of photographing a few more projects before writing up my Top 5 hits went out the window when I got horribly sick last Wednesday. I’ve turned the corner, although I’m still only getting out of bed to to steam my face and refill my ginger tea. Now that I’m coherent and just starting to get antsy from all the bed rest, I thought I’d write up my 2013 favorites.

1. The Huge Quilt
What went right: used lots of scraps, highly useful, fit my original vision

crabandbee.com | scrap quilt

So much sick time in bed has really given me time to appreciate this quilt. Even though its creation involved a lot of repetition, it was worth it.

2. White Mathilde
What went right: second-hand fabric, lots of wear, good fit, fits within my wardrobe

crabandbee.com | Tilly & the Buttons Mathilde blouse

Adjusting the bust width and dart position as well as removing the back button placket made my second Mathilde even better than the first. I wore it constantly in the early fall, when it was a bit warmer, and look forward to wearing it again in warmer temps. I used  thicker but loosely-woven linen I got at the second-hand fabric store.

3. Pleated python pants
What went right: second-hand fabric, lots of wear, good fit

crabandbee.com | Burda 7250

After many muslins and a month-long hiatus, I finished my first pair of pants! I wear them constantly. Sure, they have issues – the fabric is fun to look at but kinda nasty, the waistband isn’t pretty on the inside, and I now know that lengthening the front inseam above the knee would make it easier to bend my knees. But the fit is great, I love the style and I freakin made pants.

4. Birthday blues shirt
What went right: lots of wear, good fit, fits within his wardrobe

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6044

This was the second super-successful man shirt I made this year. I think the Western-style yokes really make this shirt interesting but not flashy – just like my man. It gets worn a lot, even into the fall/winter.

5. Shibori Satsuki
What went right: textile experimentation, repurposed undesirable fabric

crabandbee.com | Victory Patterns Satsuki

I think this is one of the more beautiful things I’ve made this year, and it was my re-introduction into dyeing cloth. This is pretty much only a summer top, with the shoulder cutouts and wide sleeves, and I’m eager to wear it again.

Honorable Unmentionables: So, Zo scrunds
What went right: used lots of scraps, lots of wear, good fit

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Sewing scrunds might have sounded a bit absurd to me a few years ago, but I completely see the practicality now:  they fit wonderfully, they guzzle up knit scraps and they sew up quickly. I think I’ve got enough scraps to make up some more!

So what have I learned from choosing my favorites from 2013? Unsurprisingly, I like projects that see a lot of use! I feel good when a project uses up scrap fabric or thrifted fabric (or transforms undesirable fabric). Good fit is imperative, as is good fabric choice. Four of my favorite projects this year (the quilt, pants, Satsuki, and scrunds) were outside of my comfort zone, and I was glad of the challenge once I was done.