Events · Sewing · Victorian

2019 Wrap Up

Where has 2019 gone? This year has been the epitome of ‘blink and you’ll miss it.’ It seems far too soon to be writing another year-in-review post but, now with Christmas over and the new year only a couple of days away there’s no point arguing with the calendar.

So, what did happen in 2019?

Well, I went completely off script as far as my sewing plans for this year are concerned. Looking back at my goals for this year I can clearly see that I was being overly ambitious and optimistic. I did not account for being absolutely slammed at work and coming home too fatigued during the first half of the year to do any sewing. I also didn’t expect to get carried away with the 1890s again and use bigger project sewing time for that instead.

But I’m not feeling at all disappointed with myself when I see projects that never got started or otherwise discarded. It’s all about learning balance and prioritising which projects I really care about and want to work on.

Working with silk taffeta for my Pretty Princess Dress, I didn’t want to rush anything or make any mistakes. I realised that, even though I would love to have a hundred dresses, I don’t have to make them all now. ‘Quality over quantity’ is something that I started to tell myself. It’s better to spend hours getting the pleats nice and tidy than to do a haphazard job because there are other things to do.So… what did I get up to this year?



I headed to Christchurch for Easter again this year and, while it was a pretty low key weekend with a handful of people I really enjoyed it. It was nice to get away from Real Life and I had an absolutely fun time being involved with the Ferrymead Heritage Park’s Easter Egg Hunt (even if I accidentally scared a few little children who didn’t know what to make of the strangely dressed woman).

Queen Victoria’s Birthday

In May I was visiting Oamaru and might have instigated a high tea to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday. Wandering about Oamaru in Victorian dress felt completely normal though it felt a bit odd that I was doing it when it wasn’t November! It was fantastic to see some lovely people I usually only see in November, and to have a great chat with Diane and Anisha about the Heritage Celebrations and the Fashion Show.

Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations

As always, the Heritage Celebrations were a highlight of my year. Feeling a lot less stressed and nervous about the Historical Fashion Show I was able to really enjoy every moment of the five days I was there. I have only made one post about it so far so expect the rest to follow early in 2020.

The Historical Fashion Show

I organised, ran, and presented the Historical Fashion Show at the Heritage Celebrations for a second year and I think it went better than last year. I couldn’t have done it without everyone who took part, helped out, and who supported me though – I owe any success to them.

A Festive Photoshoot

While visiting my parents for Christmas I took the opportunity to have a little photoshoot since the tree decorations and my Pretty Princess Dress practically matched.

What did I sew?

Mum’s 1890s Plum

Mum’s outfit from last year got updated with a new corset (I really wasn’t happy about how last year’s one turned out), and a bodice. Because I visited my parents in May I was able to do a fitting for both garments and spend the time fine-tuning the mockups so I could be more confident in making the garments from a distance.

My Plum Outfit

I did some stash busting at the start of the year and made myself a skirt to match Mum’s and made an evening/ball bodice too. I wore it at Easter, to a workmate’s costumed birthday party, and for a mother-daughter dress up day. After a couple of alterations to the bodice, I also lent it to a friend to wear to the ball at the Heritage Celebrations.

A Whole Heap of Corsets

So that it would be possible to show undergarments as part of the Historical Fashion Show, I made five new corsets in different sizes. At the same time I made a new corset for my mother and two new corsets for myself.

Only one of the five corsets was worn in the show and I probably didn’t need to get so carried away. It’s surprisingly difficult to convince people to wear Victorian undergarments in public! I’m not sure what to do with the extra corsets now…But, it was a good way to practice my skills. Even if it cost me extra time and a little of my sanity (and felt a little bit like a waste of time).

The Pretty Princess Dress

My Big Project of the year (and biggest project I have ever undertaken – unless you count the first dress I made while teaching myself to sew) was the Pretty Princess Dress.This was made from silk taffeta, included a ton of trims, and using a completely different colour palette that I have worked with in the past. My incredibly ambitious trim idea (the pulled box pleats) fortunately paid off and sparked a lot of curiosity (I wrote about the process here).

Because I was documenting the progress of this dress on my Instagram and Facebook page a lot of people had been following along and came up to say hi during the Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations. So that was pretty cool ☺️

What did I learn?

I add extra projects to my list far too easily and should be a lot more thoughtful and decisive. I need to put my blinkers on and focus on the plans that I already have in place because I would save myself a lot of stress.

It’s okay to drop a project. I’m a stubborn person, so I always want to see a project to completion. However, this year I was sewing something (an extra project) that was turning out terribly, causing me loads of stress, and I just absolutely hated. When I told myself it was okay to bin it I felt so much better and could turn my energy to something that I loved making instead.

The other thing that I learned was that I have grown in confidence – both in my abilities but also in myself as a person. And, while talking with a very good friend lately, she pointed out that I absolutely light up when talking about this hobby. I become another person in a way – this hobby, this passion, has unlocked a whole other side of me. This has spilled over into my daily life as I have become more confident overall and this has helped me at work where I used to be as quiet as a mouse.With 2019 drawing to its end, it is time not only to reflect on this year but also to look forward to and plan for the next one.

I wish you all the very best for 2020 and hope that it is a year filled with friendship, successfully completed projects, and enjoyable events.