Favourite makes of 2014

2014 favourite makes

As it is customary in this time of the year, a nice little review of the year is in the cards for me as well. Obviously, the blog is only about 3 days old at this point in time, so you will have to be content with some nice pics and a quick summary.

But before we skip to the makes recap, I have to say that perhaps the biggest achievement of 2014 is defeating procrastination and biting the bullet to actually start the blog. Those of you who blog already know (or maybe it was just me being a perfectionist and/or clueless in the ways of the internet), but it’s quite a hard thing to a) decide to put your heart and soul (and more than imperfect creations) out there for the word to see (ahem, judge) and b) settle on one of the million options for themes, colours, fonts etc. And add to that dabbling into a bit of photography, and then’s all the fun and games of SEO (Google Webmaster tools advice anyone?) It’s been a steep learning curve, but with the final ‘product’ completed, I feel it was definitely worth it. So yes, amongst the top achievements of 2014: sewrendipity.com

Ah, forgot to mention, one other cool thing I got to do in 2014: I got to go back to Bucharest after a long time, see my dearest friends and have an awesome photoshoot. Raluca and Dan not only turned their lovely house into a studio, but spent one whole day making me look pretty (Raluca) and taking these awesome pictures (Dan). Let me tell you, that was one heck of an ego trip.

Right, pretty dresses and other handmade stuff now…

Funky orange knit and faux leather dress

The story: Every year, my three best friends and I have this tradition to meet up in Viena (where two of them live) and have a super fun, port (!!) and gossip filled catch-up weekend. And every year, I go to the most amazing fabric shop ever, Komolka on Mariahillfer Strasse and mostly drool, but sometimes actually buy a little piece of fabric (usually from the remnants bin, as it’s ridiculously expensive). Anyhoo, in Nov 2013, I got this pieces of medium to thick viscose/cotton jersey in a lovely orange colour, for a good price, but only little shy of a meter long. So the question was, what to do with it… And then I found this pattern that required a mix of colours or textures, and I had some faux leather (detecting a pattern here? no pun intended) that was about the same weight, so here’s what came of it…

Pattern: McCalls 6792, view B, size 10

Fabric: Cotton/viscose jersey from Komolka (site in German) in Viena, faux leather from Goldhawk Rd.

Notions: None

Talking shop: I was constrained by how little orange fabric I actually had, so made a few tweaks, mostly reducing the batwings for lack of yardage. I also played with the skirt shape a bit, trying to make it a bit more tapered at the bottom. Also, as I was making it to wear at an event the next day, i ran out of time to finish the edges nicely, so just overlocked, turned and topstitched at the neckline, and just turned at the bottom.

Top Tip: After having taken the clutch making course at  Sew Over It, I learnt about the leather backing interface that would have served me very well in this project. Because of the tension in the skirt when I walk (although the faux leather does have some stretch to it), it has started to tear at the seams a bit, which would have been helped if I had added a strip of backing before joining the two sides. So I will have to unpick, stick the backing and sew again, to make sure the dress last as long as possible.


Red wiggle dress

The story:  Caught in the vintage fever yet again, this dress was really good fun to sew. I loved the the cotton satin fabric, the amazing red colour, the comfortable degree of stretch and the shiny right ride to make it suitable for occasions. I also loved the pattern, but I must admit I might have been a bit delusional in imagining I would ever end up looking like that snazzy lady on the envelope cover…

Pattern:  Butterick Retro B6582, view B, size 10

Fabric: Cotton satin from Don the Drapers shop in Shepherd’s Bush Market

Notions: Invisible zip, non fusible interfacing

Talking shop: As much as I love then end result, it was a nightmare to fit. It all went very well until I had to attach the facings to the front parts and then sew the side seams. It just did not make any sense. Then there was a lot of tweaking of darts to get it nice and tight, though I must have made some mistakes when copying the darts from the pattern as they turned out slightly uneven. It took longer to correct and tweak than to actually put it tother in the first place, but came out alright in the end. I’ve already worn it for a wedding a gala dinner this year, so I feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth already. And considering how cheap the fabric was in the first place, some change too.

P.S Amanda from Sew Deputy made a lovely version, with bows  and everything (she is the queen of bows, you know), have a look here.

White winter wool dress

The story: I’ve had this pattern for a while and there was nothing in my fabric stash that would suit. But then I was in the Ikea fabric section and saw this loose weave blanket, on sale. No arguing with £4.5 for wool-like fabric (acrylic mostly), 1.8mx2.2, bargain! So call me crazy, but I’ve sewn with weirder fabrics… And it turned out great, confy, warm, stylish (even if I do say so myself). So far, it was the one outfit I got the most compliments in one day for.

Pattern: Vogue V8630, view B, size 10

Fabric: Ikea Gurli throw; polyester satin for lining

Notions: Invisible zipper, fusible interfacing for collar

Talking shop: The actual dress was pretty straight forward, not much to comment on really. I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern, but I did have to let the lining out a bit after having worn it the first time. I guess if I ever make it out of a less stretchier fabric, I might have to add a few centimetres here and there, in the essential areas (i.e. hips and bums, raise your hands if you’re pear-shapped!!). The fun part was actually overlocking the ALL the edges of all the pieces, as my throw was fraying like there was no tomorrow. But no biggie that my Brother can’t face, so all was well in the end. One happy clappy winter stylish blogger!

Must admit, I got a bit hooked on this throw thing, so read on to see what else I made with it.

Leatherette and chiffon party dress

The story: This is a true blue frankenpattern if there ever was one. I had some chiffon from an Abakhan sheers bargain bundle that I didn’t know what to do with. So I got inspiration from the modern ballet costumes, a corset type bodice and an asymmetric, light skirt. I wanted a corset that finished at waist level exactly and then attached to the skirt, with the longer corners going down to about ankle level and the shorter parts to knee level. However, the fabric did not work out for various reasons, so I had to scrap it, but the idea was sound and stuck in my head. I had got some leatherette leftover from another project, and some black chiffon for the same bundle, so I figured I might give it go in this combo. Here’s what came out:

Pattern: Bodice: an adaptation of Burda 7088, shortened to waist length; skirt: self-drafted

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Fabric: light stretchy leatherette; polyester chiffon; lining

Notions:  rigilene boning, boning caps, one sew-on snap

Talking shop: I had a lot of fun making this dress, and I am fairly happy with the outcome. However, I should have made it a bit tighter, as I did not account for the stretch of the leatherette. I had made a toile from calico, which fitted well, but obviously, that had no stretch. I ended up not lining the bodice, as the pattern required, as the wrong side of the bodice ended up being quite neat. One tip for working the leatherette is to use baking paper strips under the presser foot, to make sure it all goes smoothly through the feet. That also allowed me to bind the upper edge with a strip of the same fabric and it looks fairly neat (if you don’t look too closely, ha ha). Because the chiffon was really thin, I ended up just using a rolled hem on the bottom hem, very quick and tidy. Initially, I wanted to have the skirt line in the same asymmetric shape as the skirt, but I think it was more sensible just to make a little skirt a bit shorter than the shortest edge of the main fabric. And there we are! Though not sure where I’m actually going to wear this yet…

Blue cocoon dress 

The story: Definitely one of my favourite dresses ever, it got a lot of wear this year (although I made it towards the end of the year). I makes me feel very hip and cool when wearing it, it’s a must when I go to Shoreditch, ha ha! It’s also quite comfortable, and although it has a few niggles, it’s a staple of my wardrobe now, for both work and leisure. I really wasn’t sure what’s it going to turn out like, so it almost started as a wearable toile. The fabric was again from an Abakhan bargain bundle, I think it’s actually an upholstery fabric, so I mercilessly hacked into it without qualms.

Pattern: Burda Magazine October 2014, dress 127, size 38

Fabric: Medium weight upholstery fabric, with a peachy feel and quite good drape; for the insert, vinyl

Notions: 20 cm metallic zipper, a little interfacing for the hem

Talking shop: Though I love this dress and wear it a lot, it’s by no means perfect. But that’s alright, as I will be definitely making this pattern again, so I will have the opportunity to make amends. I copied and cut out a size 38, but had to amend the shoulder section quite a bit, as it felt very loose. Not sure this is related to the vinyl fabric I used for the inserts or the actual pattern (I haven’t toiled it, of course!). I also had my first attempt at an exposed zipper, which did not go very well, but I hid most of the mess with a little patch of vinyl which actually looks like it’s a design feature. You will notice the center front midline, which is a design feature now, but started as me adding seam allowance to the fold, when I shouldn’t have. But I like this solution, might use it again! My least favourite thing is the neckline, which I had initially bound with bias tape on the inside, but the vinyl did not behave (it scrunched, for some reason), so I unpicked, ironed and stuck the tape on the back with fabric glue (the shame!!). The needle marks still show a bit, but at least it’s not crinkled. I cheekily wear a scarf over it neckline to hide it, ha ha. Another point are the pockets, as Burda instructs to sew at 5/8, but had I done it at a 3/8 as the Vogue Bible recommends, they would not have been sticking out a bit as they do now. To also mention a good thing: I love the perfect joining of the insert and front, very neat! And I like the hem, for which I ended up sewing a 5 cm band of the same fabric right side to right side, which I interfaced and then topstitched 4 cm wide. It really keeps the cocoon shape in place and lays nice and flat.

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I need to find a nice wooly woven fabric to make this again while it’s still cold outside. I saw this really pretty version on another blog. Btw, if you like your Burda patterns, have a further look at Mokosha’s blog, she has incredible pictures and awesome sewing skills too.

Cozy white cardigan

The story: This little project saved my sewing mojo this autumn. I had been making a request for someone else and it was incredibly stressful (never again!!), so much so that it almost put me off sewing. But one day I got reabsorbed into the lovely world of Burda Magazines, and bought the October 2014 issue. This little number didn’t even have a proper pattern, but a diagram, so it only took me a couple of hours one evening to complete. I had another Ikea throw like the one above in my stash, and, true to my passions, I decided to snazz it up a bit by replacing the fabric sleeves with… you guessed it… faux leather :).

Pattern: Burda Magazine October 2014, design 102, size 38

Fabric: Ikea Gurli throw, 0,3m stretch lighweight faux leather

Notions: none

Talking shop: This should be really easy, but it got me scratching my head a little until I figured it out. The fact that the notes on the diagram were in German did not help much, I had to do a bit of Google translating to sort myself out. But victory in the end and a lovely cardigan to show for it. I wore it a lot this winter, got a good share of admiring looks and even got two orders from my friends to make some for them too. The top tip would be to carefully mark wrong and right side, as my fabric was the same on both and I got really confused about what goes where. Also, overlocker is key, not only it stopped my fabric from fraying like crazy, but it sped things up enormously. Now all I want to do is find a nice chunky wool knit and make it again!!

Doing this round-up made me realise that some of my favourite clothes ever are those I have made this year, I must be getting better, right?

For 2015, I can only wish for more time to sew, because ideas are plentiful and that fabric stash is not going to reduce itself!!

Happy New Year and happy sewing in 2015!



  1. Ruth
    2 January 2015 / 2:45 PM

    Loving this blog! Very inspiring! Makes you want to cancel all your plans for the rest of the winter and just sew instead!! I particularly like the black chiffon dress and the white winter dress. Ultimate recycling!!

  2. Alex
    2 January 2015 / 3:02 PM

    Thank you, Ruth! I am really looking forward to seeing your projects soon too 🙂

  3. 9 January 2015 / 10:13 AM

    Hello! You make such interesting and fabulous things! Love your white vogue dress! Cheers, Sarah 🙂

    • Alex
      9 January 2015 / 10:26 AM

      Thank you Sarah! I really love that dress too, so comfy and cosy! I had made it in March last year, so I only got the chance to wear it this winter, but it’s already a wardrobe staple. Thank you for stopping by! Alex

  4. Helen
    27 January 2015 / 5:27 PM

    WOW… I am more then impressed. Alex!!!
    I am so proud of you. You were quite busy lately. Way to go. Brava Brava Brava

    • Alex
      27 January 2015 / 5:49 PM

      Thank you so much, Helen! That means a lot coming from you!!

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