Sewing Something Special: January 2020!

My resolution for this year is to buy one peice of special fabric each month, and sew it up right away! I want to sew really fabulous clothes that I will wear and love for years, instead of settling for whatever “good enough” fabric I can find locally. Here’s my very first project!

This is a Cashmerette Montrose made with Telio fabric from Blackbird. It’s all sold out now, but I’ve seen it at other stores like and Marcy Tilton. I fell in love with this fabric right away because of it’s bold large print. I’ve regretted for years not buying another print that had multicultural faces on it, so I knew this had to be mine. As an ESL teacher, most of my students are shades of brown, and almost all the teachers I work with are white, so representing that everyone is beautiful is important to me.

As much as I love the fabric, the colours aren’t perfect for my skin tone… but that’s nothing a little bronzer and my new red hair can’t fix! (Also, can we take a moment to enjoy the eyeballs on each shoulder?)

Part of sewing precious fabric is taking time to pick the right pattern. I *almost* made this into a Cielo Dress, because I’ve loved wearing all my versions… but it would have needed a lining. I switched instead to a Montrose blouse which I’ve only ever sewn as a stable knit dress. As a blouse, the fabric doesn’t need lining, and the pattern still has simple lines which show off the print. The hem does ride up at the front, so maybe I need a bigger cup size… or maybe it’s just that I made mine a bit loose and the rayon is draping down lower under my arms? Either way, I’m not bothered.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently had to replace my expensive long winter coat from 2011 because I’d outgrown it. I also sewed a dress (coming soon) that turned out too small because my waist has grown since I had last measured. The long and the short of it is, I gain about 1″ circumference per year, and I took that into account when I sewed this top. If I’m going to buy special fabric, I damn well want to fit it for a few years! I went up a size from my knit dress version, and added a bit of extra width into the gathers under the back yoke. My shoulders are always the first place something grows tight, so I hope that gathering provides some extra ease and longevity.

(I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway… I’m not looking for advice on losing weight nor explaining why I gain it. I’m just talking about sewing!)

I ordered this fabric in mid December, then procrastinated sewing it… which led to my new rule: Thou must sew the special fabric for one month before the special fabric for the next month arrives! I saw Merchant and Mills had a very reasonable price on the Indigo Hopscotch print I’ve been drooling over since seeing someone wear it this summer at a Frocktails, and I splurged on it… then it shipped really quickly so I had to bang out this blouse before it arrived. Having a deadline helped me not to overthink it.

Here’s my summary for this project:

  • Month: January 2020
  • Fabric: Telio Faces from Blackbird Fabrics
  • Cost: $52 for 2m including shipping
  • Leftovers: None
  • Pattern: Cashmerette Monstrose, size 20 E/F
  • Measurements: 45/41/52″, 5’2″ tall
  • Success: 10/10! I got so many compliments when I wore this, and I get excited when I see it in my closet.

We’ve started a hashtag at the Sewcialists called #SewThePrecious, which you can read about here. I’m basically sewing the precious fabric with this challenge of mine, except I also get to BUY the precious each month. Truly, I’ve created the most self-indulgent and fun New Years Resolution ever!

30 thoughts on “Sewing Something Special: January 2020!

  1. This is an amazing garment, and a great resolution for the new year! I love all the thought that went into the resolution, and then how quickly you were able to implement everything because of it! Well done. You look fabulous, and I hope the next make is equally satisfying and a welcome addition to your closet!! Can’t wait to see what you make next.


    1. I always joke that I try to wear fun patterns or colourful eyeshadow so that if my students get bored, they have something to look at! 😛


  2. Hi Gillian, I really love your resolution (and the diverse faces). We deserve to sew with lovely, special fabric. I just sewed up a gorgeous linen I have been hoarding for the ‘perfect project’ then I thought ‘why wait?’. I sewed it and am really happy with my linen dress, which I have already worn a lot.


  3. I think this may be your best challenge yet. As a prolific sewist, you deserve to LOVE the fabrics you’re working with. And this one is fantastic. But when you tell the story of why it’s so meaningful to you, it becomes even more fantastic. There’s a moment, as artists, when we have to trust ourselves – our instincts and motivations. It’s something we earn, but also a leap we have to take. I cannot wait to see all of the great things you make. PS: If one of them doesn’t work out as planned, that’s ok! You aren’t buying all the precious cuz it’s going to magically transform you into a perfect crafter. You’re expressing your creativity with fabrics that make you feel great at all stages. So enjoy every step of the process as much as the finished object! xo


    1. Excellent advice as always! The chance of every garments coming out perfectly is slim… right now I’m trying to talk myself into muslining my next project, when all I really want to do is jump in!


  4. That is indeed some special fabric. I’m always searching for the best fabric sources, thanks for listing yours.


    1. One of the reasons I’m excited about this challenge is that I get to justify trying out some of the pricier fabric stores I’ve always windowshopped at!


  5. Love those diverse faces and the colours in the fabric, such a pretty top. Could the drooping at the side seams be to do with the pattern being designed for wider shoulders than yours? Just because that’s the sort of problem I get at 5’1″ too.


    1. That’s very likely, actually! The hem evens out when I raise my arms parallel with the ground, so it probably is my shoulders. Thanks!


  6. I’m not much of a commenter, but am so inspired by your resolution and the amazing first make to say so in public! It’s a great idea, such a beautiful fabric, such a personal make and you look absolutely fab!


  7. I love your resolution! And that fabric in that top looks fab, and great inspiration. I bet your students love it too.
    Look forward to next month’s project!


    1. Thank you! I’m excited to sew up the next one too! If only it wasn’t a summer dress while there is snow outside! 😛


  8. This is OUTSTANDING. I love the intention behind this top, the planning to make it last for years – and also I just really really like your shirt. It’s awesome.


  9. My weight has always been a vital part of my life’s journey. I figured out I looked as fat in black as I did hot pink and royal purple. Love yourself, love your curves and wear colour. The top is fabulous a few tweaks and it will be perfection.


  10. Your top is gorgeous! The colors, fabric and construction are perfect! I am currently working on a jacket using a beautiful piece of cashmere I splurged on last fall at Mood. While reading your post, I realized how much I am enjoying this fabulous fabric. I am going to join you buying really great fabrics this year! It so changes my time spent to sew something special. Thanks for sharing!


  11. I love this blouse for so many reasons! It looks great on you, and I love that the print is not just cool, but meaningful as well. Such a good idea to use a special fabric every month. I look forward to seeing everything you come up with!


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