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Dec 30, 2011

Peter's Best and Worst of 2011!

Friends, I'm not a big fan of year-end wrap-ups.  I mean, are our memories so short that we need to be reminded of what just happened?  I had something else to say about this, but I forgot it...

Let's talk about sewing!

I don't know how it happened, but at year's end I find myself facing this again.  Readers, this is my SEWING TABLE, and if you're wondering how I get any sewing done there, you're not the only one.  

Speaking of sewing tables, I applied my first coat of Polycrylic to my Featherweight table today.  It's looking good.  I'll be applying at least two more; it doesn't take very long and it isn't messy.  I wasn't able to get started on this yesterday as the weather was too cold.

OK, so best and worst.  This has been such a full year that it's hard to choose, but I'll give it a try.

Worst Garment of 2011

Readers, this shirt/dentist uniform made from McCall's 3087, a shirt pattern from 1954, was a dud.

There's really nothing wrong with the construction of it and the fit is probably what was intended for the period, but the gray flannel-y fabric is boring and I never wear it.  Maybe I'll dig it out of the closet and throw it on later today for old time's sake.  A brooch might help.

First Runner Up

This is, thankfully, an early version of a garment that ended up fine -- the BurdaStyle Sew-Along dress I labored over for most of September.  NOTE: If you're adding a contrast underlay, keep it close to your outer fabric or you'll look like a pinwheel. 

Best Garments of 2011

Not very exciting, but I think the best garment I sewed for myself in 2011 are these white jeans.  Not only are they nicely finished, but I also wear them all the time -- probably more than you're supposed to wear white jeans if you want them to stay white. 

First Runner Up

Even less interesting than jeans are pajamas, but I love my shorty pj's, made from three different seersuckers: gray, lavender, and pale brown.  They, too, get a lot of use, which for things I sew for myself, matters.

Little Known Fact: Your pajamas will last longer if you take them off right before going to bed.  You'll also sleep better.

Second Runner Up

I probably won't wear these leopard pants as much as my white jeans, but they were an end-of-year surprise: a bit of a joke that turned out well.  Maybe there's a New Year's Day invitation in today's mail and I can wear them to a glamorous party.  If not, then just around the house.

Best Cathy Outfit 2011

This is the most challenging category, readers, since many of us have strong opinions about my cousin's wardrobe.   I must say I am partial to Cathy's 1944 outfit, though I think her days as a dirty (bordering on filthy) blonde are numbered.

First Runner Up

Much more popular among the people who care about such things was Cathy's strapless Fifties cocktail dress.  Vintage enthusiasts seemed to love this outfit.  Given Cathy's Esther Williams shoulders, however, I prefer a more covered-up look.

Did you know?  Cathy secretly hopes to play Baroness Schraeder in the television remake of The Sound of Music starring Susan Boyle.

Best Garment Made for Somebody Else in 2011

If truth be told, other than Michael and Cathy, who has her own category, I don't think I sewed for anyone else -- at least, I tried not to.  I've asked Michael, who's right here with me now, and he chose the vintage cotton short-sleeve shirt I recently made him from McCall's 3995.  I agree.

Best Purchase of 2011

Hands down, my first Singer Featherweight, which I purchased last March.  I'd resisted Featherweights because they seemed too cult-y, but I guess I've joined the cult.  I've since purchased a second -- it's good to have a back-up!

Little Known Fact (and no joke): According to my friend Rain, who knows about such things, those prized white Featherweights, while rarer than black ones, are mechanically inferior.  Singer started cutting corners during their years of production.

First Runner Up

I own many -- and I mean many -- sewing books.  I love this one.  


Worst Purchase of 2011

This is tough.  This box of used wigs (my second boxful) wasn't all that, though I haven't given up on them yet.  I don't buy much, and when I do buy things, they're rarely expensive enough for me to cry over (much).  Does that sound like a cop-out?

Did you know?  Used wigs make great feather dusters provided you dust them first.

Best Daily Ditch of 2011

Now this is a category with real competition.  You can see most -- though not all -- of the items I said good-bye to this year here.   I think my favorite, in terms of space taken up and time wasted trying to clean, is this vintage American Tourister luggage.  Old luggage is usually smelly, but some is smellier than others.  This was putrid.

First Runner Up

The less said about this Eighties-era nightmare serger, the better.  Good riddance.


And that, my friends, is that!  I may or may not pop in tomorrow with a Featherweight table update, but if not, I want to wish all of you a very happy and healthy 2012. 

Your enthusiastic support day after day has helped to make this past year a very special one for me.  My very best to you and yours.

I think Mae West says it best...


  1. I love your blog...and you too! such a great break in the day and today's was especially fun to read. ...even tho my white Featherwieght might be inferior...which I might tend to agree with you on. Other than that have a very Happy New Year to you and yours! Laurie

  2. Laurie Lou, yours may be the exception! ;)

  3. Your Leopard print pants remind me of a song, LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It".

  4. Michael's vintage shirt looks wonderful!

    That old serger would drive me bonkers!

    Happy New Year!

  5. Happy New Year to you too Peter and thank you for countless hours of enjoyment.
    p.s. i'm glad that Cathy's thinking of ditching the blonde. In my eyes she is always a brunette.

  6. Your best non-sewing related tip of the year? The Daily Ditch! It has changed our lives! Just get rid of one thing a day, or a week, and watch the space open up, for fun things, like sewing and art projects! Thanks for that, and the fun sewing projects as well. Looking forward to seeing what 2012 brings to your blog....Happy New Year! Kim

  7. Your friend Rain is perpetuating a myth about white Singer Featherweights - it was started by service people who didn't like them because with the fabric belt, they couldn't be dipped into a cleaning bath as a quick fix. They were built in the same factories at the same time as the black ones.

  8. Peter,

    You have made 2011 infinitely better with your adventures/misadventures, luck-beyond-belief, cabaret act, wanderings through the sewing blogosphere, and of course ALL things Cathy!

    Rabidly looking forward to you putting your personal style on all things 2012.


  9. Best wishes for the New Year, Peter! You've made me smile all throughout 2011 - thank you so much for that.

    Only 13 hours until the New Year here... that means it's time to start choosing my outfit...

  10. I read your blog almost everyday but rarely comment, not sure why? But thought I should at least say thank you for writing - I enjoy it very much and wish you and Michael a happy and safe new year ... and am looking forward to reading about your sewing exploits in 2012

  11. Hope you have a lovely New Year's!! Looking forward to many more sewing (and sewing machine) adventures in 2012!

  12. I love YOUR wrap-up! And I miss the Daily Ditch. Your trash is so much more interesting than mine. Have a great New Year's. Wear those pants even if you stay home with Michael!

  13. Happy New Year, Peter and Michael (and Cathy, too). I hope this coming year will bring peace to us all!
    Thanks for your blog, it never fails to make me laugh out loud, which I need, every day!
    Keep it going in 2012.

  14. Bestest of the best for the New Year.

  15. Even though i only discovered your blog mid-year, it has become a highlight of 2011 for me. Thank you for your insightful, funny and entertaining look into fashion, sewing and much much more.

    Have a wonderful 2011!

    ps. will 2012 be the year you reveal Cathy's colourful past?

  16. duh...have a wonderful 2012! haha

  17. Happy New Year Peter! I'm glad that I stumbled onto your blog. Looking forward to 2012!

  18. Happy New Year to you all Peter!

    Wishing you Health, Wealth, and Prosperity.

  19. Wishing you the best in 2012! I love reading your blog and you have inspired me more than once to stretch my sewing abilities.

  20. Thanks for the fun year of posts, Peter! I look forward to next years.

  21. Happy New Year Peter, and congrats on the awesome Featherweight table find-n'-fix!

    Also wanted to list some facts here about the white Featherweights to set the record straight for "Anonymous," who posted above, in case anyone's looking to buy a white one:

    Being "built in the same factories at the same time as the black ones" doesn't mean anything. The design and construction of white Featherweights is different. As I mentioned to Peter, Singer instituted cost-cutting measures in the white models as follows:

    - Black Featherweights have metal gears; white Featherweights have an internal fabric belt.

    - BFW's have a metal bottom. On WFW's, the bottom is pressed *cardboard.*

    - BFW's have a cast-aluminum 5.5" long fold-out bed. The bed on the WFW's is made out of cheaper stamped steel and is only 3.5".

    - BFW's have a cord/plug you can remove and replace if necessary. The WFW's are hard-wired so you cannot remove the cord/plug.

    None of these things are design improvements; the fabric belt is a lateral move at best. The rest are clear-cut manufacturing cost-saving measures that, in my opinion, were better for the company's bean counters, not better for the end users of the machines.

    HNY to all,

    - Rain

  22. Happy new year, everyone! Thanks for many happy and informative hours, Peter, and thanks to all the commenters for new views of all things sewing. Thanks also for your staunch advocacy of vintage quality, a worthy template for new junk promoted as something else. You've helped inform my world.


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