Best laid plans and all that

I'm still working on my 20:20 challenge which runs until the end of the year but I've had to change my plans. Work has moved up a couple of gears (and it is only just the start of term!) with a couple of really big projects, meaning I am getting home rather tired. Add to this a very busy November and Christmas planning, I realised that if I wanted to carry on with two items a month I needed to revisit the patterns I planned to make.

I've also recently swapped my wardrobe round so my autumn/winter clothes are easier to get to. It revealed a startling lack of options for work. I love to have colour in autumn and winter as it is a nice contrast to the almost constant grey skies. I was amazed to find that the majority of my separates were dark. In fact, all of my skirts and trousers are black, grey, navy blue or brown. How did that happen?! I have a few tops that have colour but I could do with some more. This is somewhat fortuitous as tops tend to be easier and quicker to make.

I've decided to be more flexible with the patterns I make. I think I'm unlikely to get to the Ceylon, B5882 by Gertie and the 1960s Simplicity pattern however I do want to try and make a new dress in time for mid-November. 

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I'm debating about lengthening the bodices from this Cynthia Rowley pattern and also the Sultry Sheath pattern in Gertie's book. I've just bought the Chiffon Blouse from Burda and the toile has been cut out. I'm tempted by the Mae pattern too.  I feel much better about being able to complete this challenge now I have built in more flexibility. It seems that an emergent strategy rather than a fixed one is a better option this time round! 

Thoughtfulness and preparation

Do you have moments where you look at your creations and realise that they are different from your previous makes? For some it could be a slight change of style or using a different fabric but I've noticed it in the construction.

My last four or five makes look different to my previous completed items and they feel different when I'm wearing them. The difference is so marked, that I've been pondering the reason for this. I don't think it is just practice that is improving them, although certainly my seam finishes are much better than when I began sewing and my gathering is much more even. So what is making the difference? 

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Thoughtfulness and preparation.

I have taken more time at the beginning of a project to think about exactly how I want to the finished article to look and then work out what techniques I will need to make it a reality. I've even found myself jotting down notes before I start (why I didn't do this before, I have no idea!). I've thought more about the inside of the piece. What type of seam finish will look visually pleasing and do the job well? Do I need a lining? Which pieces need reinforcing? 

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All marks are transferred from the pattern including every notch. I always tried to do this but often found I had missed a few vital markings, which isn't helpful when you find out you have set a sleeve upside down! Clearly I was too slapdash about this. Not any more. I double check everything before I unpin the pattern. Which brings me nicely to cutting out.

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This is where I have really noticed the difference. I always took my time carefully placing the pattern piece on the grainline but I didn't bring the same attention to cutting out. I was happy for the edges to have nicks and be a little uneven. The problem with that though, is matching the edges is not easy. I've even had items where there was about an inch difference in the length! The fixes needed when this happens are not ideal and often mean the item doesn't get finished. So I've slowed down a lot, which makes the cutting out process even longer as I'm quite slow at this part anyway! It is worth it - my edges match neatly and finishing them is much easier. Hemming no longer has the same amount of dread attached to it, which we all know is a bonus!

So what about you? Have you had moments like this?