Friday, June 8, 2018

Me Made May Wrap-Up

Me Made May is over! This was the first year I participated and I really enjoyed it.

The ambiguous nature of the challenge was both refreshing and a little confusing. Making up all your own rules and goals made it a bit vague, but I liked just picking out what mattered to me.  And it's nice to feel I wasn't in competition with anyone, just myself.

I really enjoyed taking pictures and wearing all my me-made stuff. It was nice to challenge myself to get things out from the back of the closet! Here's a few of my favorites from the month.

Comparing this to my style post I'm seeing a lot that feels consistent (especially colors!) but a lot I could be working on, too. A lot of that has to do with how old most of my me-made garments are; my style goals are there to help my future decisions, too.

A few thoughts.

Dresses: I remembered why I don't wear them more. Mostly because of sweat. Summer is hot and I get sweaty. With a skirt and shirt, I can always swap out a sweaty shirt I've been wearing all day for a fresh one if needed (like if I am heading out to teach an evening class). With dresses, you have to just change everything. But I do love wearing dresses! I can work around that issue.

Skirt Lengths: Longer is better. I can do shorter skirts with leggings, but with bare legs, I get tired of my thighs sticking to chairs.

Coordinating pieces: I always feel like I have great individual pieces to wear but nothing to match. I make a lot of skirts and I don't always have a shirt that goes. I should probably put more coordinating things onto my list. Or even just buy some.

Wardrobe gaps: I definitely would like to make more blouses and shirts! In the past I've thought it was pointless to sew t-shirts when you can buy them so cheaply, but I think I'm coming around.

Me-made clothes I am tired of: It's hard to part with things I have made! But I have a few pieces that either never really clicked for me style-wise, or that I've just worn a bunch of times and now I'm sick of, and they are taking up space in my closet and making me feel guilty. I'm going to try to sell a few and give the rest to goodwill.

Closet overload: I love sewing new things all the time! But I guess I have to have limits, because my closet is already petty stuffed. Getting less emotional about getting rid of stuff I don't wear would help (see above) but of course I don't want to be wasteful either.

My Me Made May 2018 Goals (Or, How did I do?):

Every day, wear at least one thing I have made, whether old or new. Did it!
As many days as possible, wear 2+ me-made things. Did it!
Wear every me-made garment I have at least once. Not quite, there weren't enough days!
When wearing repeat separates, mix up the combinations. Did it!

Sew or knit every day. On work days, an hour is enough. On days off, my goal is 3+ hours. Nope! 
Finish at least 3 modern garments and 2 historical garments. Did it, sort of.
Try one new sewing technique. Did it!

Use my Pinterest board to think about the styles I'm drawn to. Did it!
Try a few new style elements. Eh, not really.
Think seasonally! Did it!

Take daily outfit pictures. Did it!
Blog post weekly to keep up with my progress. Did it!

I finished 5 pairs of kid pants and now I'm not sure if that counts as one thing or 5 things. I made a historic dress and bonnet for the kid and trimmed a bonnet for a friend. I knitted on my sweater a bunch and sewed about half a dress, but didn't finish them. I am surprised that mostly what I finished was kid clothes! I did not plan that!

For new techniques, I'm counting both the historic bonnet I made for The Girl and the short-row sleeve from my rosemary cardigan.

The main thing I didn't so was keep up with daily sewing. Life kept interrupting! But I do feel energized and inspired by this challenge, and that's more important than sewing an arbitrary amount of hours each day.

Weekly posts: Week 1  Week 2  Week 3  Week 4

Thursday, June 7, 2018

An 18th Century Gown and Bonnet for an 8-year-old

Last week I sewed this 18th century style gown and bonnet for my 8 year old kid. We had planned a picnic which got canceled due to rain, but dressed up and went out for a little lunch anyway. Here she is! 

The restaurant had the fireplaces lit in the basement.

Working hard at something!

We stopped at a small park on the way home for some more photos.

The Making:

I started with 2.5 yards of 60" wide poly taffeta. I am usually a fiber snob but, a.) this was reaaaaallly nice poly taffeta, I promise, and b.) it's kid clothes. The pattern was drafted from another old pattern, which I enlarged (because she has grown) and also made new/different seams. You can just barely see the curved back seams here.

An inspiration image from Costume In Detail. The girl's dress is plain, open in front. I also loved the bonnet.

Here's the shift, which I made from an old cotton sheet.

Pockets and petticoat. I got this embroidered fabric for free. The petticoat is just some very cheap muslin I had laying around.

The petticoat is your typical drop-front construction. No bum pads or stays, just these.

 I machine-sewed everything I could. The whole petticoat, almost all of the shift. I hand-hemmed the shift neckline just because it was easier on the curves. The lower lining seam of the dress is sewn down by hand. There is no closure because I just used pins.

I trimmed the dress with pinked, self-fabric pleats and some fine dotted netting. All applied by machine. (See above: kid clothes.) I made the pleated strips on the machine with the fork method.

I shaped the net at the elbows to be longer in the back. I had to apply the sleeve trim by hand because it was too tiny to get into the machine.

The Bonnet:

I liked the one in the image above, as well as those little silk market bonnets that everyone is making these days. See A Fashionable Frolick, or American Duchess blog. I made this one out of some grey silk taffeta from the stash.

I've been trying to make one of these for myself for ages, but making up my own brim shape was challenging. It always looked dorky, no matter what. Here's what I ended up with for The Girl. Please feel free to copy this if it helps you at all!

Like the dress and undies, I machine-sewed as much of this as possible. First I cut the brim shape out of Peltex (not buckram! I'm such a cheater!) and sewed millinery wire to the edge using a machine zigzag. Then I cut two silk pieces for the brim (adding seam allowance) and sewed the front seam. I clipped the seam allowances and inserted the wired Peltex piece. The I folded the back seam allowances over and machine-stitched them down. Brim done.

For the crown portion, I made a drawstring casing along the straight back edge and put in some cord, stitching it down at the sides and bringing the ends through a small space I left open at the center, making a drawstring to adjust the size.

I zigzagged the raw edge, then moved to hand sewing. I whip-gathered the curved edge of the crown and hand stitched it to the brim.

It looks a little messy from the inside, but it doesn't show when worn.

I pinked a few strips of the silk and made a big bow attached to the center front. I did her hair in a soft bun at the back and frizzed up her natural curls in front a bit. 

The brim shape isn't entirely how I anticipated, and maybe the crown is too wide on the sides, but I love it anyway.

I am so in love with how this whole outfit turned out! She had requested a fancy dress with ruffles and I think this did the job. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Me Made May Week 4

What I wore:

It was VERY hot so there was not much layering this week.

Day 24: An old batik dress I've re-made a couple times and still enjoy.

Day 25: A loose cotton dress from the Dottie Angel pattern Simplicity 1080. I call this The Unnecessarily Complicated Smock. It's cute and comfy but the construction is just silly.

Day 26: Cotton lawn skirt.

Day 27: Cotton print skirt with mermaids.

Day 28: Cotton lawn skirt.

Day 29: Cotton print skirt (a repeat).

Day 30: The linen dress I made in April. When I blogged it I wore it with layers and here it is on its own, in hot weather.

Day 31: This very old cotton print shirtdress.

I enjoyed all the stuff I wore this week! I felt an urgency to wear all my favorite things before the month was over. I did get tired of taking pics, though. Cellphone + mirror isn't always gonna turn out great, and I got sick of taking 50 shots and hating all of them. Using my real camera and tripod always makes better pictures, but it's more of a hassle.

Getting Stuff Done:

I made a new historic dress for The Girl. Pictures soon I hope!


I definitely spent some time sewing this week! I also tried to get some old stuff out of the closet and wear it. I'll write a more thorough goals wrap-up in a separate post.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Me Made May Week 3

What I wore:

Day 17: Relatively recent me-made cotton dress.

Day 18: Me-made cotton skirt.

Day 19: I went camping! Sometimes I break the No Pants rule. I made these years ago. They don't fit perfectly but they work.

Day 20: I'm still camping in the same pants!

Day 21: Cotton knit Moneta dress.

Day 22: Me-made skirt and scarf.

Day 23: Me-made linen skirt.

Getting Stuff Done:

Honestly did terrible at productivity this week. The only thing I sewed was a bonnet for a friend.


Still loving outfit selfies, sorrynotsorry. Hoping to carve out more time for making stuff this week!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Me Made May Week 2

What I Wore:

The weather was mostly chilly again. Also my selfies are generally terrible and embarrassing. Oh well, what can ya do?

Day 9: Me-made skirt and blouse

Day 10: Me-made wool skirt

Day 11: Me-made corduroy skirt and knitted scarf

Day 12: Me-made polka dot skirt and knitted scarf

Day 13: Me-made skirt and knitted sweater

Day 14: Me-made cotton skirt

Day 15: Me-made cotton skirt

Day 16: Me-made cotton printed eyelet skirt

This has felt like a Greatest Hits Of My Closet. There have been a few new-ish things but mostly it's old. I have only encountered a few I am really sick of or just don't like any more. That polka dot skirt from Day 12 just doesn't feel like me any more.

It's frustrating to have one's taste change. I spend all this time and energy putting together a nice wardrobe and then I get tired of it before it's worn out - it feels unfair!

Also, I know my warm-weather uniform tends to be cotton skirt + t-shirt, with cardigan as needed, but I'd love to shake it up a bit!

Getting Stuff Done:

I fell out of the habit of doing a log (it was probably interesting to no one but me anyway). But over the week, I put in many hours on my sweater, finishing the cap shaping on the first sleeve, finished some kid pants, and started a new modern dress for me!


Well, I'm doing the easy part: wearing my me-mades and taking selfies! But spending more time making is not always happening.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Kid Pants

I made 5 new pairs of pants and shorts for The Girl over the past week.

It is terribly difficult to get her to take nice pictures lately. She always wants that tongue sticking out! (The Girl would like me to inform you all that she likes her tongue out and it looks cool.)

All of them were made from stash leftovers. That's getting harder all the time since she's growing so big!

I put pockets on ALL of them (even though it takes so much longer to sew!) because she likes pockets. The pattern is basically a pajama pant, just cut a bit narrower. Elastic waists on all of them. Everything machine-sewn and serged.

Here are the other four:

This is the first thing I've completed for Me Made May! My goal was at least 3 new modern garments but I think all these together count as one thing. They're just so simple!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Me Made May: Week 1

What I wore:

The weather got warm pretty suddenly and I had to put most of my favorite clothes away. I definitely prefer fall and winter styles and feel most at home in wool and layers.

I mixed stuff I made with stuff I didn't make, so for each day I'm noting which is which.

Day 1: Me-made skirt and an upcyled sweater - a thrifted pullover I turned into a cardigan.

Day 2: Me-made skirt.

Day 3: Me-made rayon jersey knit dress and a rayon challis scarf.

Day 4: Lots of black. Me-made skirt and leggings.

Day 5: Me-made dress.

Day 6: Me-made cotton jersey knit dress and that upcycled cardigan again.

Day 7: Me-made skirt.

Day 9: Me-made skirt and wet hair.

What I noticed from taking daily photos and paying attention: 

1.) I own way too many skirts! And not enough me-made shirts, blouses, leggings, and cardigans! I could probably do the whole month just wearing my me-made skirts with boughten t-shirts. And most of the time, that's what I do. 

2.) Just wear the dress! I made more of an effort to wear my pretty dresses that I love, but that I sometimes hesitate to put on because they're "too nice." I wore them and I enjoyed it. Even if I was home alone.

3.) Not a huge fan of knits on the bottom half. I like my knit dresses, but they're not always the most comfortable for me because I feel kind of naked on the bottom. I'm always checking to see if my skirt has ridden up!

4.) It's all about the fabric. On day 5 I wore one of my very favorite dresses, made of soft, slightly textured cotton, and remembered something one of my sewing students said recently about the tactile element of sewing. For her, the success of a garment is all about whether the fabric feels good. If it doesn't, she doesn't end up wearing it. It seems so simple and obvious, but I never thought of it that way. I definitely shop with my eyes first and hands second. Maybe I should switch that around.

Getting Stuff Done:

My work schedule is quite erratic, so I have different goals for work days, home days, and half-and-half days.

Day 1: Work. Knitted 1.5 hours after dinner.
Day 2: Work from home/evening shift. I squeezed in an hour of cutting out in the afternoon.
Day 3: Home day! Spent an hour making pants for the kid, then moved on to something new for me. I spent a lot of time looking at patterns and fabric and waffling, but eventually cut out a dress in printed rayon. 3 hours total.
Day 4: Work, day and evening. Half an hour of cutting lining.
Day 5: Weekend errands in the morning/afternoon shift. An hour or two of knitting.
Day 6: Home day! 2 hours sewing pants.
Day 7: Home day! I spent the day doing an epic amount of housecleaning, so just 30 minutes of pants sewing, then an hour of knitting.

Goals Check-In:

Goals: Wear, Make, Style, Share. Doing pretty good so far! I'm wearing my me-made stuff, taking pictures, and doing some navel gazing about my style. I'm getting sewing and knitting into my schedule, but not as much as I would like. Next week I'll hopefully have some new finished stuff to share!