Me Made May Round-Up Part Two

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I’m feeling very proud of how well I did with Me Made May. I had two goals when I signed up, the more measurable goal was to wear a minimum of three me-mades each week. I achieved this goal easily, and then some!

I wore handmade clothing 27 out of 31 days (I didn’t get photographs on two of those). At least two of those four days that I didn’t wear something handmade I also just didn’t get dressed. I’m a lazy Sunday sort of person! I guess this just means I need some me made pajamas!! There were six garments that were repeated at least once but even with those repeats I managed to wear 20 unique handmade garments in May!

Here are links for all of the garments that I’ve written posts about:

My other, less quantifiable, goal for Me Made May participation was to use the experience of trying to wear me-made for the month to clarify my sewing aspirations. I don’t have any enormous revelations here but I’ve certainly learned lots from the experience.

The first lesson is one I was expecting, and probably one that many of us have learned over and over again. DRESSES ARE FUN TO MAKE, BUT IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WEAR ONE TO WORK EVERY DAY IT’S TIME TO STOP MAKING THEM!!

What is it about dresses? Sure they’re less work than making pants and a blazer but they’re not an insubstantial amount of work. Why are they so captivating? I’m a nanny so technically I can wear whatever I want to work but of course the goal is that I’m comfortable, not worried that anything that happens to my clothing is going to permanently harm it, and most of all that I can run after a three and a half year old in it. This doesn’t rule out dresses for me entirely but generally I need to stick with things that are really washable, roomy, and long enough that I can bend over easily. I have some dresses that fit the bill but for the most part separates just work better. I don’t need to swear off making dresses but should focus more attention on separates that I can wear day to day. Those are the things that I wore the most during May.

The second lesson, and one that I’m still learning, is that it’s ok if I don’t want to sew certain things, it’s ok if I like my Gap tanks and tees. I’m still in the process of figuring out which basics and wardrobe staples I want to spend time sewing and which I don’t. I’m really excited about the pair of jeans I made and I’m looking forward to making more of them. But I don’t want to make long sleeve t-shirts or knit tanks in basic colors. Making super basic items in the same fabrics I can purchase RTW items, not my cup of tea! I know it is for some people and I’m not swearing off making these things. If it’s what I or someone else really wants to make there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But sewing is an escape for me and deciding that I “should” be making basic tees when I could buy them (likely for less than the cost of the fabric I’d need to make them) takes away from sewing as a soothing activity for me.

My third lesson is really less of a lesson and more of a puzzle that I’m still trying to figure out. That puzzle is all about how I make my sewing plans, stick to them, and get through some of my massive stash of fabric. About six weeks ago I posted here about my summer sewing plans. It included eight garments in May, five garments and a bag in June and six garments in July. I actually sewed quite a bit in May. I made, from start to finish, six garments as well as working on but not yet completing three others. That’s a really productive month for me but unfortunately only one of my finished garments and one of in progress garments were on my list. I’m really happy with the garments I have made but there are also several things on my list for May that I was excited about and would still really like to make.

I think this means that I need to come up with a better system for planning. While I like the idea of having a long list of projects I’d like to get to at some point having three months of sewing all planned out has felt limiting. One thing that I can find a bit overwhelming about the online sewing community is that there are so many patterns coming out all the time and sometimes I just want to jump on the bandwagon and kiss my plans goodbye.

One idea that’s resurfaced several times as this topic has been percolating in my brain is to try to focus myself on really mini collections, the sort that would be perfect for a weekend getaway. I have several shorter trips planned in the next several months and focusing myself on three or four items to make for each of those instead of trying to have one massive plan for a whole season’s wardrobe seems easier. I’ll be back later this week to tell you about my first mini collection.

So there are my Me Made May thoughts. How did Me Made May go if you were participating? Do you plan out large numbers of projects or just sew whatever is on your mind?

-Hannah

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Julia and Natalie

This post is a bit of a photo/project dump. I’ve got a two finished projects that I’m not sure I have a whole lot to say about, not necessarily because I am unhappy with them but mostly because they’re been going on for a while and I just want to get them written up and be able to move on.

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My first finished project to show you is the Julia cardigan by Mouse House Creations. This was an unplanned project. I was at Joann’s a few weeks ago and noticed that in amongst the piles of polyester grossness was this amazing reversible double sweater knit. I was excited about it when I thought it was just a cotton/rayon striped sweater knit. Imagine my amazement when I discovered it had polka dots on the other side!!

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Instead of making this fabric into a quick project I decided that I had to take advantage of it being reversible and then set about trying to figure out how to make the Julia cardigan pattern work that way. At first I was considering flat felling all my seams so I could just make it according to the pattern with the doubled-over collar. But trying to neatly flat fell a sweater knit seemed a bit crazy, even to me. Then I realized I could just use the technique in the Meridian cardigan, a pattern I’ve had for a while but not used yet. So I managed to squeeze two cardigans out of the three yards I’d bought. I made a version with the stripes on the outside and a version with the polka dots on the outside, adding a single collar to each. Then I just serged the outer collar edges together with the right sides of the two cardigans together.

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I stitched in the ditch in a few key places so that the two layers were anchored together. I got stuck for a while on the cuffs. I really wanted to figure out a way to attach them with the serger, not have any seams showing, and make sure that the stripes weren’t showing on the polka dot side or vice versa. I tried a two piece cuff serged to one side and then topstitched with a zigzag on the other side but it just stretched the cuff out too much. Next try, a severely lengthened two piece cuff serged to both sides. The serged seam shows on the striped side but the cuff is long enough to be folded up. Done and done!

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After months of hiding the Natalie top, by Liola Patterns, in the back of my sewing cabinet, it’s finally done. Man was that a pain in the ass. I zipped through a lot of this top in one evening. But then I couldn’t get the front pleats to sew up properly. And then I managed to sew in one of the sleeves inside out. So it got put in time out for a month or two.

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On the fourth or fifth attempt, and after finally just hand-basting the center front seam, I got the front pleats taken care of. The sleeves went in easily.

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Of course my needle went straight through the first button I tried to sew on, fortunately I had an extra. And the first buttonhole I sewed was crooked. I got to try every single step multiple times with this thing. But it’s done. And guess what?

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I actually like it!! I’m not sure I’ll be making another any time soon but I’m so glad it’s not feeling like a waste of fabric, time, and energy.

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I think I’m caught up on finished projects now. On to the new ones!

-Hannah

SSW Updates

I mentioned before that I was calling last week Selfish Sewing Week because I was on spring break and had a bunch more time to sew. I didn’t get quite as much done as I was hoping to but I made some pretty awesome progress on a few things.

The big accomplishment last week was that I got a muslin made of my Ginger Jeans. I’d been trying to figure out a mash up of the two versions, a lower waist with skinny legs. I think I’ve managed to try to do this the harder way by slimming out the legs on the version with the lower waist instead of lowering the waist on the version with the skinny legs. I made some pattern alterations ten days ago and then on Thursday I got it stitched up. I’d ended up taking off 3/4 of an inch on both sides of the leg, front and back, grading out to nothing a couple inches above the knee. I also took out two inches of length at the knee. I’d been sort of worried that the pattern pieces as I’d cut them out, in a size 8, just looked way too big. Fortunately I was pretty happy with my muslin.

I’d decided to make a real muslin instead of just basting together my real denim because other than my Hudson pants I’ve never made pants before. As I was trying to make a number of alterations, in ways that I’ve never done before, it seemed like it made sense to put in the small amount of time to do a muslin.

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I discovered that I most certainly took out too much width on the legs. I tried to hard to get that muslin on but couldn’t get it pulled up all the way. I looked pretty ridiculous trying to make that happen. I ended up just chopping off the pants at the knees and was able to get them on and get them all the way up. And guess what??

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They fit!! I’m going to add 3/8 of an inch back into the legs when I cut my denim. I’ll baste them though since I don’t know how the stretch in the denim will work itself out. I can’t wait to start working on these.

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I also made a muslin of the Felicity Dress bodice. I was a little concerned when I read that she drafts for a D cup, which I most certainly am not. But I think because the bodice has gathers instead of darts it works pretty well.

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I also finished off clipping threads and such on my Sutton Blouse and got the pleats hand-basted on my Natalie top. Hopefully I can finish Natalie off soon and it’ll be warm enough that I can take photos of those.

Finally, I got a quick make cut out over the weekend. I fell hard and fast for this reversible sweater knit at Joann’s last week. It’s not made of synthetics!! Rayon and cotton all the way. I’m cooking up something awesome, you’ll have to check back later to see how it worked out.

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Hoping to get a muslin for Minoru started soon. And I’ve got a couple small quilting things to finish up. Busy busy busy around here.

-Hannah

Selfish Sewing Week

Technically last week was Selfish Sewing Week but I had a midterm, class, reading to do, all those school shananigans and then we were away over the weekend. I did manage to get some sewing done but since this week is spring break for me (meaning I’m just working full time instead of working and going to school) I’m calling this Selfish Sewing Week. Not that I really need one. I spent some time last week writing a list of all the garments I’ve made, it’s on my Makes page if you’re interested in perusing, and realized that 13 of the 18 garments I made last year were for me. I’m not pointing that out because it’s a bad thing, simply to say that I’m pretty sure every week is Selfish Sewing Week for me.

Last week I made a Sutton Blouse, did some work on the Natalie Top I started ages ago, and worked on some pattern alterations for my Ginger Jeans.

I’m really on the fence about the Sutton Blouse. I thought the seersucker would be so nice and airy, a perfect late spring/summer shirt but the seersucker is just not draping the way I wanted or expected it to. That, combined with the pattern being intentionally boxy, and the voile that I used for the contrast yoke draping so much more than the seersucker, means it’s just looking a little off. It’s finished now, just needs threads clipped and a final press. I’ve been forcing myself to finish it because otherwise it’ll just sit in my sewing cabinet making me feel guilty every time I start a new project. Hopefully once it’s totally done, and I’ve tried it on with a more summery bottom I’ll like it more.

Unfortunately the Natalie Top I’ve been working on is also not feeling totally awesome right now. I started it quite a while ago, not totally sure when but it was definitely in 2015. I was a bit skeptical about the pattern, not feeling totally sure that the front placket/pleat dealio was really for me. But because it came in the Indiesew Fall Collection I felt I should try it at some point. At some point in January I was surfing through the blogs I follow and I came across Teresa’s Natalie Top and realized how much I loved her version and that I had the exact same fabric. I’d seen her version last fall when the collection came out but when I saw it again and realized I could make it without needing to buy anything I was pumped. This seems to be a bit of a trend for me. I’m checking out sewing blogs over coffee on Saturday or Sunday morning and decide I have to, absolutely have to, make a version of an awesome make I saw on someone’s blog. It means I am not thoroughly thinking through how much I like the garment for me, whether I would really wear it, or whether the fabric is right. I think if I could break this habit and do a better job of psyching myself up for the projects I’ve already planned I would be infinitely more productive. And probably lacking in UFOs, which would be a miracle.

Anyway, long story short I got the pattern and the fabric cut out and was zipping along. The only modification I made was to lengthen it, perhaps 5 inches, I can’t remember right now, and give it a shirttail hem so that I could wear it as a tunic. This may be where I went wrong. I think I could look good in tunics, and I like the idea of them, but there something I’m just starting to explore fashion-wise so perhaps making one from a shirt pattern I wasn’t 300% sure I liked was poor planning. So I was cranking it out but then I was having a really hard time sewing the plackets/pleats at the front so that they met really evenly. I finally finished what I thought then was an okay job. (Definitely wasn’t upon more recent inspection.) I tried it on after that and was just not excited at all.  After deciding to just finish it up and make a decision on it later, I managed to sew on a sleeve inside out. So I ripped the sleeve out, folded it up and in a slightly more adult way said something like, “oh let’s just forget it,” which was 2 year-old Hannah’s favorite phrase.

Last weekend I was grabbing a few projects that I was hoping to finish up during our trip to Vermont and I grabbed my Natalie top along with my Sutton. I got my sleeves pinned in correctly and sewed those. But the front pleat was still really bugging me. I ripped that out and I’m thinking now that I really just need to hand baste it. When I was pinning it I was either sewing too close too the pleat or too far from it. I’m also bugged by my topstitching right at the top corners of the pleats. I’ve ripped out one of those and I’m going to try that again. At this point I just need to fix the front pleats to my satisfaction and then figure out whether I’m keeping the tunic length or axing it. Then a hem and some buttons and buttonholes on the sleeve button tab. Not too far away but I’m going to have to keep pushing myself to not toss it in the back of the cabinet.

One last quick project update. I’ve been wanting to recover my ironing board for a while now. The padding is basically disintegrating and the cover has water stains all over it. On Monday I was at the store and noticed a nice think pad intended for ironing board covers. I tossed that in the cart along with some cheap but adorable fabric and that night I banged out a cover. Nothing terribly impressive but it’s been on my mind for a long time and it’s nice to have it finished.

That’s my Selfish Sewing Week for now. Hopefully it’ll be a productive week!