5 Favorite Sewing Projects & Reads Of The Year
And alas! Another year has passed. As I write this, at the beginning of January, I have a bit of a head cold. So I feel like my new year is getting a bit of a late start. (And I refuse to be superstitious and believe that falling sick the first day of the new year is a bad sign.)
I'm actually kind of taking it as a sign that I need to go slow this year, and to be kind to myself. Last month, I actually mentioned in an Instagram post how one of the most difficult learning curves I have had in starting The Flora Modiste is learning how to be kind to myself.
And to let myself off the hook if something isn't perfect. Or if sewing projects aren't completed on time.
So that's how I am going to start my 2019 with The Flora Modiste: By giving myself the month to get ahead and get back on a weekly blogging schedule, starting the first week of February. Oh--And I'm also working so hard on getting the Dany Sheath DIY sewing project kit PERFECT, and ready for sale in April. Because #winteriscoming in April.
But first.. Before getting started back up with our weekly content, I wanted to look back at 2018 and my very favorite sewing projects that we created here on the blog. And I also wanted to share with you my 5 favorite reads from the past year, because reading really is a MAJOR part of my life.
SO. If looking for your next favorite read or ideas for your next sewing project, keep reading..
My 5 favorite reads from 2018
TBH, reading was the very first love of my life. And that love continues to this day, almost 30 years later.
The past 2 years I have set a goal of reading 50 books in a year (that's almost a book a week) but I haven't quite been able to reach that goal either year. In 2017, I made it through 47 books. (SO close!) And in 2018 I made through 38 books.
Quite a drop this last year, am I right? Real talk: In October I got slightly (and by slightly, I mean incredibly) addicted to a Nintendo Switch video game: Zelda, Breath of the Wild. Which pretty much sank any chance I had of reaching my goal of reading 50 books.
But even though I didn't reach my goal of reading 50 books last year, I still read some pretty incredible novels. My favorite ones are below!
1. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
I was absolutely floored by this book. I expected to like it (hence, why I bought it) but I had no idea how much I would absolutely love it.
The novel follows the lives of newlyweds Celestial & Roy, who are the successful embodiment of the New South. They are in love and on the brink of budding careers, until one night Roy is wrongfully arrested for a crime he didn't commit. And subsequently wrongfully incarcerated for years.
The story follows the young couple trying to hold their love together while Roy is in prison, and all of the challenges they face. Not only with each other, but with lawyers, long distance letters, other lovers..
Seriously an incredible novel and one that I think represents what a huge chunk of the American population experiences. (Guilty of their crimes or not, no matter where they live.)
2. Circe, by Madeline Miller
This was actually the last book that I finished in 2018, and I LOVED IT. (It actually one Book of the Year in my BOTM Club!) Now, I don't know a whole lot about mythology, but it has always always fascinated me. And this novel is no exception.
It follows the story of the mythological goddess Circe, daughter of the Titan Helios. And let me tell you right now: Circe is a bad bitch. She is completely different from all of the other gods, titans, and nymphs that surround her, and she knows it.
Eventually, Circe gets banished to an isolated island, which is meant to be a punishment.. But the experience ends up turning her into a badass feminist witch.
The story is fascinating (not only because of Circe herself) but also because it ties so well into ancient history. Think: Odysseus, Achilles, and the Trojan War. To me, it was completely fascinating and well worth the read.
3. The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story Of War And What Comes After, by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil
Forewarning: This book is heartbreaking. Truly. Clemantine Wamariya was a young child in Rwanda when the Rwandan genocide began in the 90's.
The novel follows her journey, fleeing from Rwanda all over Africa, until she is granted asylum in the United States with her sister. The novel alternates between her younger years of fleeing all over Africa and the years after arriving in the States.
There is such a rawness to this novel, such anger. Which I think is 100% appropriate after what this woman went through, and what she witnessed. An excerpt from the novel that stuck with me: "..I climbed the stairs, opened the refrigerator, and stared.. How could one place have such excess while in another, just a plane ride away, people starved? 'I deserve this now because I suffered.' But then my mind ground to a halt. Had all the people who ate out of refrigerators like this suffered too?"
A must read.
4. The Silence Of The Girls, by Pat Barker
When my BOTM Club presented this novel as one of our monthly options, it immediately drew me in because it was marketed as a "historical fantasy". I didn't even know that was a thing before I read this book. But I love history and I love fantasy, so I knew it was going to be a match made in book heaven.
The novel is based off of a story we have all heard before: The Trojan War, Achilles, Helen, Hector. But what makes this retelling so interesting is that the novel is told from the perspective of a queen that is captured by the Greeks, who is then given to Achilles as a bed slave.
At a time when women were seen as inferior, as a prize for men, reading this tale from a woman's perspective was fascinating. And I absolutely LOVED Pat Barker's writing. Even though I knew the entirely of the story, from Helen being taken to the sack of Troy, I was captivated the entire time and didn't want the novel to end.
5. Me Before You/After You/Still Me, by Jojo Moyes
I'm a bit late to the Jojo Moyes party, I know. (And I know this is technically 3 books, and not 1.. But whatevs. I love reading.)
Earlier this year, my favorite local bookstore closed, and they had this massive sale. So, naturally, I picked up a ton of books. And one of those books was Me Before You, a novel (and subsequent movie) that I had heard people rave about, but had never picked up. So I finally picked it up, and it was GAME OVER.
I read Me Before You in less than a week, and about 1/3 of that in a single day. It was absolutely heartbreaking, I was actually crying for like the last hour I was reading the book. And then I found out that there was a sequel.. And a third book as well.. Again, game over.
Both After You & Still Me are FANTASTIC sequels. I was drawn into the stories and the characters just as much as I was with the original. And while Me Before You is definitely more of a romance, I would consider the sequels to be strictly fiction. Which I think works well, because one can only take so much romance. Seriously--An amazing series. Pick it up.
My 5 favorite sewing projects from 2018
And of course.. I wanted to share my favorite sewing projects from the last year with you too!
We officially celebrated 1 year here at The Flora Modiste in September, which was prettttty exciting. And in that year we did so many monthly sewing projects, DIY projects, and organizational projects. Oh my!
But with this section, I wanted to go over my absolute favorite, top 5 projects from the past year. I'm hoping that you will love them as much as I do--And that maybe you'll get some inspo for your own 2019 sewing projects!
1. My favorite sewing projects: The Clark Crop Pant
I think that this is actually my favorite sewing project from the year. I half expected the Clark Crop Pant to turn out awfully, because it was the first pair of pants that I had sewn and drafted since I was in school at FIDM.
But surprisingly.. The fit was PERFECT. And flattering. (Which can sometimes always be tricky with pants.) The fabric worked well, my stripes matched, and the pants were comfortable.
The pants themselves are a bit high waisted, and widely cropped mid calf. They have a waistband with belt loops (learning how to sew belt loops just so happened to be the sewing tutorial that month) and big buttons to provide the closure. And of course: Side pockets. Because I kind of refuse to make anything without pockets anymore.
Also, the Clark Crop Pant was named after Louisa Clark (the main character in Me Before You) and also Emilia Clark (the actress who plays Louisa in the screen version). Which just so happens to be one of my favorite books of the year.. Seriously, pick up those books.
2. My favorite sewing projects: The Dany Sheath
Oh, the Dany. This is (without a doubt) my most favorite dress that I have ever made.
It is the perfect length and shape. The fabric weight was perfect for the dress, and of course: STRIPES. (You should know by now, it's a serious problem. And that the sewing tutorial for the Dany was all about how to sew with stripes.)
But my very favorite detail about the Dany: Those front pockets. Big, bold, beautiful pockets that are front and center. They can hold a phone, a wallet, a (small) book. Perfect!
You guys voted, and the Dany is actually going to be the very first DIY sewing project kit here on The Flora Modiste. I tried so so hard to get the kits out for the holiday season, but it just wasn't the right time. So going to be working hard on getting the kits ready for sale in April, because #winteriscoming.
3. My favorite sewing projects: The Mauve Shirt Dress
Another favorite sewing project from the year was the Mauve Shirt Dress. It's a shirt, it's a dress.. It's a shirt dress!
I love this dress because (stripes obvi) it can be worn by itself as a dress, or over a dress as a sort of cardigan. And this winter, I have actually worn it with tights and a sweater over it--So cute. I particularly love how the collar pops out underneath the sweater, in the winter Mauve version. (BTW--We covered how to sew a shirt collar with the Mauve sewing project. So easy!)
And I guess that's what I REALLY love about the Mauve: It's versatility. It can be worn so many different ways, dressed up or down. And THOSE are the kinds of pieces that we really need in our closet. Oh! And not to mention those side slits.. Looking back, I probably should have dropped the slit an inch or two, because it's slightly scandalous. But I still love it.
4. My favorite sewing projects: The Louisa Midi
Oh, the Louisa! I love this sunny, beautiful dress. The dress is an A-line, midi length beauty with buttons from top to bottom. It can be worn as a summer beauty all by itself, or with a tee (shown here with my absolute fav Vesta top) underneath for cooler weather.
Again, versatility is key my friends. The month of the Louisa Midi, the sewing tutorial was all about how to sew a button, since that's pretty much the dominating design feature on the dress. Oh! And of course: POCKETS. You thought I forgot them, but no. Never.
And as I mentioned above with how the Clark Crop Pant was named after Louisa Clark, the main character in Me Before You.. Well, this piece is literally named Louisa. Seriously, read the books.
5. My favorite sewing projects: Madalynne DIY Lingerie
And finally! This last one isn't actually one of my sewing projects, but I just had SO MUCH FUN with it, I had to include it.
I sewed up two different DIY lingerie sewing projects from Madalynne last year, and I absolutely love how both of them turned out. I had never sewn lingerie before IN MY LIFE, and had no idea what I was doing. So it really was a fun, new experience.
The DIY kits include everything that is needed to sew up a bra or panty. (Depending on which you choose to buy.) This is incredibly helpful for someone (like me) who knows next to nothing about what to buy to make DIY lingerie.
Seriously, if at all interested in making your own bras or panties, check out Madalynne's site! She always has new kits available, for a bunch of different styles. (I actually purchased 2 more DIY bra kits on Cyber Monday, so stay tuned for those posts this year..)
Ready to commit to read & sew more in 2019?
I thought so. There is so so much to be gained from both reading & sewing. Reading literally transports you into another life, into someone else's shoes. I can think of no better way to become better educated, more compassionate, and just an overall better human being.
I truly believe reading is one of life's greatest gifts. If at all interested in seeing what I am reading this year, join me on Goodreads! After I finish a book, I log it on Goodreads and rate it. It is seriously so so fun!
And I am always always interested in what others are reading, I find it fascinating.
There are so many reasons why I think everyone should learn how to sew.. But most importantly, you are learning a skill. You are bettering yourself by learning a trade, by turning inwards to figure out how to solve a puzzle. (And of course occasionally coming to The Flora Modiste if reeeeaaallly stuck on how to do something.)
Committing to more reading and/or more sewing in 2019 hurts no one, and can only benefit you by increasing your knowledge, compassion, and skill set.
Sounds like a win-win, am I right? Let me know below if there are any sewing projects or tutorials you would like me to cover this year!