Visionary or Illusionary? Sewing in 2021

Every January I take some time to think about my sewing plans for the year ahead.  I make my “project” list, which usually includes at least one or more items which never made it to the cutting table in the previous 12 months and simply transfer from last year to this year.  My list includes those things which are “traditions” such as Christmas dresses and birthday dresses for my two granddaughters.   It includes any home decorator sewing I’d like to accomplish, and it usually includes at least one project that is “just for the fun of it,” meaning I have no occasion in sight for it or no need for it, but I just want to make it.  The rest of the things on my list are pieces I know I will wear and which will be good additions to my wardrobe.    So, I guess one could call this list my sewing vision for the year.  

What has me tripped up this year is the fact that several of the dresses I made during 2020 sadly have yet to be worn.  When there is no occasion to dress up, it is difficult to justify making more such dresses.  I would like to think 2021 will become a year of parties, and dinner parties and cocktail parties, but this may be illusionary thinking.  Because everything still seems to be in limbo, I have resorted to the tried and true for much on my list.

These include: 

  • At least six blouses!  I know I posted last summer about “too many blouses,” but the fact is that I love to wear blouses, and as long as I keep finding blouse fabric I love, I will keep making blouses, as boring as that may seem.
  • Dresses for my granddaughters.  Although 2020’s Holiday/Christmas dresses were “scrubbed,” as they had no place to wear them, I already have fabric selected for these 2021 dresses.  I did, however, sew Christmas gifts for my girls in 2020, making American Girl doll clothes for one and this dress for the younger one:
I have to say my granddaughter looks adorable in this dress!
I found this finely woven cotton fabric at Britex Fabrics several years ago, and I was saving it for a special reason. The pink rick rack is vintage, all cotton, and the buttons are also vintage. The collar and cuffs are in a linen cotton blend.
  • Linen pants???  I rarely make pants, but I think I will attempt a pair this summer.
  • A skirt out of Liberty Lawn, to wear with a white blouse.
  • Two wool sheath dresses, about as fancy as I dare to get this year, with the hope that I’ll find a reason to wear them.
  • Two … aprons!  Why not?  They are fun to make and certainly useful. And I can use some excess fabric left over from past projects for these.
  • Whatever else strikes my fancy, which leaves a lot of options.  
From left to right: pink cotton for a blouse, Liberty Lawn for a skirt, Liberty Lawn for a blouse
From left to right: Boucle for I’m not sure what yet, Herringbone weave wool cashmere for a sheath dress, vintage Forstmann wool also for a sheath, vintage Viyella for a winter blouse, checked flannel, also for a winter blouse.

As always, I am planning to restrain from purchasing too many new fabrics, hoping instead to use  fabrics from my stored collection. (Wish me luck on that!)  Indeed, my first make, a “Jaron Shirt” made in support of fellow dressmaker, Andrea Birkan, who tragically lost her son last year, is constructed with two fabrics several years in my fabric closet.  Details on this shirt can be found on my Instagram page @fiftydresses.  

I will end this post with a postscript to my last post on a piece of vintage Forstmann wool (which, as noted above, will be one of my two sheath dresses in 2021.)  The story continues, as identical examples of the label accompanying my fabric have surfaced, all with a date from the late 1940s.  When I look at my wool, I have a difficult time envisioning it as being as early as the late ‘40s.  Although I have no reason to believe the label does not belong to the piece of wool I have, this discovery has initiated more questions than answers.  That is not unlike my expectations for 2021 sewing – it is a mystery whose ending has yet to be written. Whoever knew sewing could be so full of intrigue? 


Filed under Liberty cotton, Sewing for children, Sheath dresses, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, Vintage fabric, woolens

24 responses to “Visionary or Illusionary? Sewing in 2021

  1. Karen

    Karen, I think you have some great sewing ahead of you this year based on your list. I don’t think you can have too many blouses as there are many different styles you can make.

    As for your granddaughters, why not make them matching gowns or pajamas and robes for winter or summer? Both my grandmothers were wonderful seamstresses. One year, for Christmas, one of them made my sisters and me matching gowns and robes. The robes were made of a quilted fabric that matched the fabrics of the gowns. They were a soft cotton flannel. Both pretty and practical.

    All good wishes to you for a greatly improved 2021.

  2. DKUK

    Hello Karen, I always look forward to your posts which I find inspirational.
    Your grand-daughter’s dress is beautiful!
    I have decided to forget the practical (when will I wear this?) and just enjoy the sewing & the fantasy of a life we are unable to live ATM. I’m particularly looking forward with great anticipation to the making of the herringbone wool &cashmere and the boucle which looks like it would pair nicely with it?
    During the 2 UK COVID lockdowns, sewing has kept me sane. That is good enough reason to plan and sew new garments.

    • I needed to hear what you wrote – to forget the practical. Thank you! Actually I purchased the cashmere herringbone to pair with a Classic French Jacket I made two years ago (I think). The orange ribbon detailing in the black boucle is a bit too orange for the herringbone. I think the black boucle is going to be a long-sleeved dress of some sort. It’s a very interesting fabric. Sending happy sewing thoughts across the pond to you!

  3. Andrea Birjan

    Thank you again for honoring Jaron! I hope you enjoy wearing your beautiful Jaron shirt! I am so grateful for the wonderful sewing community who has been there for me during this very dark time. I can’t wait to see all your new projects! You inspire me!💔💔💔

    • Oh, you are so welcome, Andrea. I know I will enjoy wearing my new blouse – it is a bit different for me, which is good! You continue to be an inspiration to me as well, and I continue to send thoughts of comfort to you.

  4. Mery

    Her dress is pleasing in many ways. It reminds me of picture day at school when we wore our best school dresses. Your care and details make hers the best. That pink rickrack elevates it to truly outstanding. I don’t suppose she dresses up for zoom school classes, but wherever she does go she can wear it.

    As for your dresses, I hope you can wear them this year. If that doesn’t happen soon, then perhaps it will be satisfying enough to make an occasion of iced tea and cookies with friends outside while wearing one of those pretty new blouses with jeans or skirt.

    I keep hoping the tradition of wearing a dress to Sunday dinner at home will return. A hostess dress for having 2-4 friends over would be next.

    I’m talking like I’m committed to finer living; in fact, I’ve seldom even put on my best loungewear pajamas this year. Comfortable cotton jersey is still enjoying its season here.

    May your new year overflow with blessings whatever they may be.

    • I would like to have a ladies’ luncheon and invite you! A commitment to finer living sounds like an excellent idea; perhaps we will get there sometime?
      I had such fun making the dress for Carolina. Originally I thought I would use red rick rack, and then on a whim, I held up the pink trim on it and it make all the difference in the world! The dress really suits my little granddaughter, who loves dresses and wore it for most of Christmas Day. She is back in school (YAY!), but I have not heard if she has worn it yet.
      May you, too, have a year of blessings and comfort – and finer living!

  5. Dear Karen,

    It’s never a problem having too many of anything! My edited Butterick shorts pattern is my favorite one to make for my lifestyle here in Texas. I even used this pattern with a wool flannel for a nice winter shorts outfit for the trip to the grocery store. I’m also planning my projects for this year and I look forward to seeing how your Liberty Lawn fabrics turn out. Your dedication to your craft is inspirational to us all. Please keep sewing, taking photos and typing. May 2021 be a happy, healthy and productive year for you.

    • Thank you so much, Peggy! It is easy to be dedicated when one has such pretty fabrics with which to sew! I’m getting more excited all the time about the year’s sewing – and sharing about it here. May every good wish for the new year be yours.

  6. Lovely plans, Karen! I’m particularly looking forward to seeing your Liberty skirt!

  7. I always have leftover projects from the previous year. I love your fabric choices. 😍 I’m looking forward to seeing your future makes!

  8. susansnow007

    Your boucle has the same peach-y thread in it as your proposed sheath fabric. Do you have enough for a little coordinating jacket? Would look divine. Happy sewing! Always enjoy your blog, you inspire me to try to sew nice things. Let’s hope for a happier 2021!

    • Thank you, Susan – yes, here’s hoping for a kinder 2021! I think it still remains to be seen how that black boucle plays out this year, although I’m leaning toward a dress… I hadn’t though about a jacket – we will see. It is always helpful to have other’s ideas!

  9. These all sound wonderful to me! I have been considering my projects, and one of them is to finally tweak my threads blouse pattern so that it is just as I prefer my blouses to fit. I also have a wool parka I’m thinking about, and may use some of my sheepskin for a “fur” trim on the hood. Your plans and fabrics are always inspiring. You could also do a 49’er jacket out of wool, it would be perfect for chilly evenings during your WY summers.

    • Well, we definitely get chilly evenings in those Wyoming summers! Any excuse for another jacket is fine with me. It is always fun to plan for the year’s sewing, even if it all changes over the course of 12 months. Happy New Year, Kathy!

  10. Carol in Texas

    Karen, the click-on for your Instagram account does not take me there. Is your account private? Carol in Texas

  11. Rebecca

    Dear Karen,
    I have enjoyed your blog for a long time! Your list of items to sew is inspiring me to create a similar list. I have 2 grown daughters whom I can sew for, as well as myself-dresses, skirts, blouses, pants, and possibly lingerie. There are curtains to make for the house and duvet covers, shams and pillows that can be created. Matching coat and sheath dress for myself; French jacket with bound buttonholes and matching skirt created according to Claire Shaeffer’s books … then there are the dresses I could sew for parties…At any rate, I hope to make a dent in my stash.
    I look forward to reading about your wonderful creations!

    • Hi Rebecca! I find my list helps me “organize” my sewing year even if I am constantly making changes to it. You have wonderful projects ahead, for sure. Planning and dreaming about all these things is almost as much fun as actually making them. Thanks so much for letting me know of your sewing plans! Happy New Year…

  12. Pingback: Visionary or Illusionary? Sewing in 2021 – Aliexpress Shopping

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