Best of 2021: Sewing Edition!

Every time a new year rolls around, when the noisemakers have been put away and the champagne headache has worn off, I like to take some time to reflect on the year before me. Usually, I go through the major milestones from each month, reflecting on all that came to pass. This year I’ve decided to do something different – which is to reflect on some of my favorite sewing projects from 2021. Cause let’s be honest…not much else of note was able to happen!

Thanks to this relentless pandemic, I’ve found myself with more time homebound than usual (well, less for a little while…but then more again). And while there are always emails to read and papers to write, there was a creative fire that was lit sometime around March 2020 and those embers are still red hot. This is something that I’ve been endlessly grateful for – because it meant that, when we get to the end of this long COVID-lined road, I will have something to look back on that makes me smile. Something that makes me realize that the last 2 years haven’t just been about loss, but about creation.

As frightening as it is to look back and see just how many pieces I made last year, here’s a roundup of my favs….

Best of 2021: Sewing Edition! The Dressed Aesthetic
It’s been a busy couple of years! Just a small sample of my sewing projects from 2020-2021…

January

The year started off with a quiet poof rather than a bang. We spent a pretty quiet Christmas at home and were counting down the minutes until we could get the vaccine (which was months away at that point – but a gal could dream!). I started an absolutely crazy semester (online) and I was needing a place where I could vent my frustrations. As usual, my sewing machine bore the brunt of it.

I started the year off with a recreation of a Juli Lynne Charlot piece that I had always admired from afar, featuring an abstract chess game. It was a good way to kick things off, because it was a bit less detailed than some of my more ambitious projects and ended up being a fairly quick win.

{Sewing} Checkmate - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Checkmate
{Sewing} Checkmate - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Checkmate

February

February hit and we were full on into the semester. Like any good scientific masochist, I had agreed to do a new prep (ie, develop a course from scratch, which means writing 27 lectures, quizzes, exams, study materials, etc). It’s always a bit of an uphill task, but add in a global pandemic and I’m not entirely sure how I kept my sanity.

Lucky for me, Bernina is always there like an old friend, beckoning me to her side and letting me spill my woes. I had a few fun makes this month – including a rose petal sleeved dress and a collaboration with the ever-lovely Amy, where we sewed matching Valentine’s Day skirts (based on Simplicity 4784) from across the pond. Just goes to show, beauty can always be born from chaos…

{Sewing} Be Mine - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Be Mine
{Sewing} Be Mine - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Be Mine
{Sewing} Petal Pusher - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Petal Pusher
{Sewing} Petal Pusher - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Petal Pusher

March

March is always a favorite for me because it’s my Birthday month! And that definitely called for an aquatic-themed sewing project. I had seen many a photo of Juli Lynne Charlot poodle skirts that boasted dog-walking themes. Well, this marine biologist thought it was high time she went out and gave her fish a good constitutional. And the Foodle Skirt was born…

March was also awesome because I got my first shot of the vaccine! Hind-sight and all, but at the time I really thought it was going to be a start towards climbing out of the pandemic. Oh, silly rabbit…

{Sewing} The Foodle Skirt - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: The Foodle Skirt
{Sewing} The Fish-oodle Skirt - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: The Foodle Skirt

April

April marked one of my biggest (and most insane) sewing projects to date – The Making Waves skirt. It included a fabulous collaboration with Ameliae, who designed this stunning interpretation of Hokusai’s famous paining: The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Inspired by a vintage skirt I saw at Cheshire Vintage, I wanted to embellish the print with a mix of white and iridescent sequins. Did I mention I’m insane?

Fully hand done, this beauty took me hours (so many hours. we won’t count them for our sanity). But, I had to return to my sequin supplier 3 times…and over 12,000 sequins were hand-sewn into this beauty by the end. The even crazier part? I wasn’t completely turned off by sequins and may have another project in mind! Stay tuned….

{Sewing} Making Waves: The Great Wave by Hokusai - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Making Waves
{Sewing} Making Waves: The Great Wave by Hokusai - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Making Waves

May

Oour Spring semester ends in May, which means I managed to do very little this month except grade exams, manage student complaints, and fall into an exhausted heap of goo. Needless to say, I got very little sewing done.

But, I did have an amazing collaboration with Marah of MEO-C.28, an incredible artist who hand-painted a recreation of a stunning vintage 1950’s skirt that literally grows love. I am always captivated by people who create different kinds of art than I so – I’ve never had skill with painting, but watching this skirt come to life under Marah’s brushstrokes was pure magic…

The Giving Tree - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: The Giving Tree

June

June was a busy month for sewing and I actually managed to polish off two large appliqué projects (and edited a 26-chapter science book. Now that’s a whole other kind of crazy). As usual, I turned to my favorite inspirations for these: Marjorie Montgomery and Juli Lynne Charlot.

The first piece was inspired by a Marjorie Montgomery dress I had seen one of my favorite IGers Rose rocking – speckled in grapes. Given my love of all things fruit, coupled with copious amounts of wine being drunk during isolation meant it was high time to make my own! Now, true to Murphy’s Law, making this beauty meant that I would find the original – which I did just a few days ago! Vintage karma is a thing people…

The second was based off of a long-sold Juli Lynne Charlot skirt spotted with Bird of Paradise – although a color scheme I haven’t worked in much, the fiery orange bird of paradise frolicking against a bright yellow background spoke to me. Finally fully vaxed, we had just started to dip our toes back into socializing at this stage, which was definitely the perfect time to make a skirt adorned with flowers hat mean symbolizes freedom and joy…

{Sewing} Grapes of Wrath - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Grapes of Wrath
{Sewing} Grapes of Wrath - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Grapes of Wrath
{Sewing} Bird of Paradise - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Bird of Paradise
{Sewing} Bird of Paradise - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Bird of Paradise

July

July’s project might be one of my favorites – because it was when I flexed my creative muscles a bit more and tackled an original design. I got this idea in my head one day when I was reminiscing about summer camp and it stuck – I wanted to make a skirt that was literally dripping in honey, with busy bees zipping around her hem.

Even though at the start of summer I was determined to take a break, I had agreed to teach a summer class in July (told you, scientific masochist). I agreed thinking enrollment would be low (it wasn’t) and that the work wouldn’t be too onerous because it was online (it totally was). But, thankfully, I emerged at the end of the month unscathed and was able to finish off this skirt. But then, I took a big nap. Cause even worker bees need a vaca….

{Sewing} The Bees Knees - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: The Bees Knees
{Sewing} The Bees Knees - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: The Bees Knees

August

I swear, I blinked and summer was over and we were running headfirst into the Fall semester. While it was the original plan to be back face to face, I once again found myself teaching online. But, a few important things happened this month, not the least of which is that I became officially tenured! Ahhh that’s Associate Professor to you, thank you very much.

So what did this Associate Prof do? Make a dress inspired by Barbie of course! I had seen a photo of an original 1960’s Barbie in the cutest corduroy jumper, dotted with flowers and a bird swooping towards a birdhouse. So, I recreated it in human size. It was also a nice change to try to make something other than a circle skirt…

{Sewing} Barbie World - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Barbie World
{Sewing} Barbie World - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Barbie World

September

Well, you didn’t think I could stray too far from my circle skirts, did you? In September, I was right back to them like a moth to a flame. This was another joint sewing adventure with Amy, where we tackled McCall’s #1541 together across the miles. Well, I say together. In reality, Amy finished hers in a reasonable timeframe and mine took me MONTHS. But we got there in the end.

As predicted in August, I also ended up teaching online for the entirety of the semester. Definitely not my favorite way to teach, but the safest under the circumstances. But still, sigh.

{Sewing} McCall’s #1541: A Rose By Any Other Name - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: McCall’s #1541: Everything’s Coming Up Roses
{Sewing} McCall’s #1541: A Rose By Any Other Name - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: McCall’s #1541: Everything’s Coming Up Roses

October

October I decided to play with rhinestones! I was lucky enough to get to work with the amazingly talented Raquel Van Nice on a collaboration – where she helped me bring a long sought-after vintage novelty print to life. This print has a turquoise base and daisies dancing in pink ballgowns, like a garden-themed masquerade ball.

For this one, I also decided to get my glitter on and put a scattering of prong set rhinestones along the hem, adding some bling to the daisies’ dresses. Although I only found out later there are handy little machines for this kind of thing, each one was done by hand (why do I do these things to myself??). Raquel did such an incredible job with the print – and I know several other vintage-loving ladies were thrilled to be able to get their hands on this print (after some yardage yourself? You can find it in Raquel’s shop on Spoonflower)

{Sewing} Daisies at the Ball - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Daisies at the Ball
{Sewing} Daisies at the Ball - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Daisies at the Ball

November

In November, I decided to tackle a vine-adorned dress based on a beautiful vintage piece from Sweet Bee Finds (with zero appliqué. who am I???). I worked with one of my favorite graphic artists on this one to get the vine print – Sarah of Peacoquette (she designed the dahlia print and the Jane Austen border print). Although this one was a bit of a pattern-adjustment roller coaster, I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

November was also the first time in nearly 2 years we had visitors! My sister, brother-in-law and niece came down to reinstate our Thanksgiving tradition. It was a blissful week of eating too much, playing Overcooked, and sewing doll dresses. It was my personal definition of perfect.

{Sewing} Hedera helix - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Hedera helix
{Sewing} Hedera helix - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: Hedera helix

December

Before I could say “dumpster fire,” 2021 was coming to a close. Luckily, I was able to get through final exams and grading relatively unscathed and was able to spend a few days in slug-mode before and my in-laws arrived for a long-awaited Christmas vaca.

Completely out of character, I also finished off the year in monochrome! I made my interpretation of a vintage Lanvin dress I first spotted for sale at Crush Vintage. The design reminded me of waves crashing around her hem, and I could think of no better way to end the year. Sometimes enormous and crashing, sometimes they gently wash over you, but waves move endlessly, persistently towards the shore before heading back from whence they came…

{Sewing} In Stark Contrast - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: In Stark Contrast
{Sewing} In Stark Contrast - The Dressed Aesthetic
Original Post: In Stark Contrast

I was a bit scared to do it, but I counted. I made 18 pieces in 2021 (some of which haven’t made it to the blog yet – but you can peep my Instagram if you want a sneak peak! I am woefully behind on some of my sewing posts). 18 pieces. I guess if COVID is good for anything, it has certainly added a bit of joie de vivre to my wardrobe…

It’s funny how looking back over the past always makes us more reflective of the future. In some ways, the year felt as though it flew by in a flurry of deadlines and circle skirts. And in other ways it crawled past, forcing us to confront some of the most disappointing parts of our society and having to say goodbye to people who left us far too soon.

Regardless of how we got to this day, I want to look forward with renewed energy. I want to take time out when I need it, continue to create, and not lose my hope for the future. This may be our new normal. But I see no reason why I can’t be dressed fabulously while I greet it with trepidation.

Keep sewing people. Keep hoping. And keep safe.

 

xoxo

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Any items marked with a “c/o” (courtesy of) a retailer mean I was provided with an item for free in exchange for a review on my blog. I always provide my honest opinion of any item I’m reviewing, regardless of whether it was sent to me as a courtesy item or if I purchased it myself. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links or ads on this site, I may make a commission from that click and/or purchase at no cost to you, which helps with the day-to-day running costs of my blog.

 

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Best of 2021: Sewing Edition!