Me Made May · Uncategorized

Me Made May Recap

My first attempt at Me Made May was a bit of a success!  I did miss a few days when I was sick in bed, and a few more days when I was away at Girl Scout Camp but managed to wear something handmade most days.  The biggest challenge was getting a picture of myself and I honestly felt pretty uncomfortable taking so many pictures that focused on me but overall I think this was a useful exercise.  I pulled some oldies but goodies out of the back of my closet and wore items that I wouldn’t normally wear that took me out of my clothing rut and reminded me why I sew- I do have some great pieces in my wardrobe that I should be proud of!  My goal was to wear something handmade each day and to sew up one new item each weekend.  The new items I made in May are (patterns in captions):

 

The rest of the month looked like this:

 

What I’ve learned:

  • I need more basics tops and separates
  • I need to figure out a better way to take photos- begging  my kids to take my pictures on the front lawn isn’t the best plan
  • This was really fun and boosted my confidence- it was rewarding to tell people and share what I was wearing each day!
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Me Made May · Uncategorized

Olympia Maxi Dress

It’s Spring!  The weather in the North East is still fluctuating between the 80’s and 50’s, pouring rain and then sun but my Wisteria is in full bloom and I am gearing up for warm weather.  I am inspired to make comfortable and breezy summer dresses to wear as we see the sights and eat ALL THE FOOD in Spain this summer.

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This is also the first year I am participating in #memademay and have been wearing handmade every day- it has been much easier than I though- except for the photo capturing.  My girls are short little amateur photographers so it is very difficult to get a good photo of my clothes but I am trying to train them well!  My goal was to wear something handmade each day (except when I was leading at Girl Scout Camp last weekend) and to sew at least one new item each weekend.  Although I haven’t been blogging this I plan on doing an end of the month wrap up post showing all of the pics and hopefully will get to full posts of the new items soon!

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This post just has to go up today though so I am posting out of order.  I couldn’t resist posing in my new Olympia Maxi Dress in front of the Wisteria tree- the colors are just perfect!  I bought just a few yards of this pretty knit at Joanns a few weeks ago on clearance and had planned on making leggings for my daughters with it but was able to sew a maxi dress for myself out of it instead!  I originally made this particular dress with a sleeveless black liverpool top and the purple patterned fabric skirt but after trying it on I did not like where the top cut off on my waist and how it contrasted with the skirt.  I decided to cut it off and was able to eek a matching top out of the leftover scraps of fabric by sewing a seam up the back instead of placing the pattern on the fold and by making the top slightly smaller than the XL pattern.  The fabric had enough stretch to make it work and I am very happy with the result.

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The bonus?  I used the black bodice I had sewn and paired it with another maxi skirt so I was able to finish two dresses this weekend!  I love the second one even more and plan on getting pictures this week.  For now- here we go- Size XL purple printed knit Olympia Sleeveless Maxi Dress.

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Me Made May · Uncategorized

Me Made May.

I know it is May 2nd.  I am a day late but better late than never!  So- those of you who don’t obsessively read sewing blogs may not know that Me Made May is a thing- a really big thing.  MMM or #Memademay or Me-Made-May or whatever you want to call it is an online event where the challenge is to wear something me-made or refashioned EVERY SINGLE DAY in May.  Awkward selfies posed in full length mirrors at work or in bathrooms are frequently posted…so here we go.

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A quote from it’s founder Zoe Edwards taken from Seamwork*:

“What makes MMM compelling is the way it challenges sewists not only to make garments, but also to actually wear them in our real lives—and so to consider how our handmade wardrobes relate to consumption, self-image, and how we present ourselves to the world.”

This is the first year I feel up to the task and will attempt to use this month as a way to encourage myself to sew more, to take pictures of what I sew and maybe even post more on this blog as a result.  I may not take a selfie of what I am wearing every day and post it to Instagram like I am supposed to but maybe I will most days- we’ll see.  So, although I did not take a picture of it yesterday I was wearing a refashioned dress I shortened into a tunic and so technically I am cooperating with this challenge already- but lets count today as the official start!

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I am trying to branch out of my pattern designer comfort zone (Seamwork, Colette, etc) and try other independent designers and lately I have been hooked on Patterns for Pirates.  I bought this pattern last week and couldn’t wait to make it when I got my latest shipment of fabric in from LA Finch Fabrics.   The pattern is a variation on their Sweetheart dress which makes this a very versatile pattern that includes a sweetheart neckline, color blocking options, lace overlay all in a peplum, mini  length and the knee length dress version.  I never thought I would wear a Peplum Top and quite honestly I feel pretty silly and self conscious in it for whatever reason but I am in love with it at the same time.

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Being “curvy” and carrying much of my weight in my stomach I wouldn’t think this style with its nipped in waist and hip accentuating flounce would work but because the waist hits at the narrowest part of the body and is fitted on top and nice and loose around the bottom it is surprisingly flattering.  Or at least I am hoping it is and trying to convince myself of this!  This Spring Floral Coral Liverpool knit I used certainly attracts attention and isn’t helping me blend into a corner today at work- maybe that is a good thing and this whole Me-Made-May thing knows what it is doing- inspiring confidence in its participants and showing the viewers that rocking handmade can work on a daily basis.  Maybe.  Either way- Day 1 of the challenge is done!

 

*what a Librarian thing to do- insert a quote and a link.  No citation page here though- have to draw the line.

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Getting back to active

I’ve been in a slump.  A FUNK with a capital F.  Depressed, bummed, cranky, bitchy or whatever you like to call it.  For a few months.  I have several reasons why that I feel can explain it away but for the sake of keeping this blog (mostly) sewing related I will not get into it!  No matter the reasons I know what I have been missing out on and what I need to get myself back into doing…one of them besides sewing is getting back to running!

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I ran my first half marathon just six months ago and then winter came, and the reasons for my hibernation came into play and BAM- I fell of the bandwagon.  Hard.  I would run maybe twice a week, then once a week…then maybe once every two weeks.  You get the idea.  Weeks would go by and I couldn’t drag myself out there because when I did it was so much harder and not as enjoyable as it was when I was regularly running.  It wasn’t fun.  Long story short- I know the only way to get myself out of this self imposed hibernation is to be like Nike and  JUST DO IT! I went out for a great 3 mile run this morning and felt wonderful!  There was a chill in the air but the sky was clear, the flowers were in bloom and it was perfect.  I came home and grabbed an iced coffee and (after a much needed shower!) headed outside for my daughter to take a few pics* of me in my new favorite pattern- Pattern for Pirates Peg Legs.

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This is now a free pattern and I am so happy I gave it a try.  I made the straight XL size with the high waist and capri length.  The fabric is a double brushed poly (just like Lularoe) I snagged for just under $8 at LaFinch Fabrics.  They feel like butter…so soft!  I have made a few orders from this shop and am in LOVE.  Fast shipping and a wonderful selection of double brushed poly, liverpool knits and more.  These knits are a new world to me and I have sewn up several great pieces with them that I hope to blog about soon!

The fabric print I used for these reminds me of running tights so they are pretty casual- but perfect for a lazy Saturday!  I know I will be making up so many more pairs of these once I buy more fabric…no more $25 Lularoe leggings for me.  I love the capri length and they are a super quick sew.  Besides the version I made this pattern includes 2 rises: low/mid rise and high rise and 4 lengths: shorties, bike, capri and ankle in sizes from XXS up to 3XL.  They even have add ons for a gusset, waistband or side pockets and more.  I can’t wait to sew up a pair of shorts in performance fabric with a side pocket, gusset and waistband pocket- they’ll be perfect for running!

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*a childs height does not equal the best pics!  I really need to up my game with my blog posts/pictures.  Hopefully future posts will feature more flattering pics and background!  She did manage this beautiful shot of the tree though…

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Olympia Dress for Easter

There’s something about Spring that inspires me to sew, sew, sew.  Maybe it is the warmer weather and the ability to go outside without bundling up under a puffy winter jacket?  Or it could be that I just have more time and the days are longer and brighter and I have more energy?  Either way I have been sewing up a storm these past few weeks and although I have sewn several items of clothing/bags etc since my last blog post I haven’t been interested in blogging or sharing them- until now!

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Coming out of winter hibernation I have a few blog posts ready to go and here is the first one- the Olympia Dress by Love Notions Patterns.  I came across Love Notions when I first sewed their Laundry Day Tee – which I am totally in love with and will post about soon!  This Olympia Dress is my second pattern by this company and the first I have paid for- and I am so happy with how this dress turned out.  This is my second version- the first version I used an inexpensive lycra jersey that I am just not in love with.  This version is using a pretty substantial scuba knit from Joann’s that I have been holding onto for months and didn’t have the occasion to use until now- I think it is just perfect for Spring and for Easter.

 

This dress is super simple to sew and even though I was nervous about the integrated reverse shawl collar I think it turned out Ok and was pretty easy to figure out using the directions and the video posted on the Love Notions site.  The pattern has a great size range and even individual cup sizing which is wonderful.  I sewed this up using the XL size and the D-cup bodice.  I made the sleeveless, knee length version but the pattern actually includes five sleeve lengths: sleeveless, short, elbow, 3/4 and long as well as two skirt lengths: knee and maxi.

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I am in love with this pattern for its flattering shape, simple construction and versatility.  I feel like the non-gathered waist works better for me than the Colette Moneta that I had previously been obsessed with- it fits well and is super quick to sew.  The stability of the scuba knit makes things so simple- no slipping or stretching issues so I was able to sew this in about 1 1/2 hours.  No zippers, closures or elastic required means it comes together very fast.  Instant gratification!

I’ll leave you with a shot of the tree outside of my house- it is what I see from the view of my sewing room window- no wonder I am inspired- just beautiful!

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Romper: Love or Hate?

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Hmmm.  As you can tell by my last few blog posts I am in LOVE with Seamwork magazine and their digital patterns.  I love getting the email each month and checking out their new patterns (2 each month for only $6).  As soon as I saw last months Layton Romper I knew I had to make one.  Rompers are all over the place now and although I had no idea if this style would actually be wearable on me I had to try it out.  The ease of a dress and the comfort of shorts=win.  Well, in theory at least!  I can’t tell if I absolutely love this on me or totally hate it.  I really can’t decide.  Part of me is proud of the confidence I feel when I have it on, the other part feels embarassed to leave the house.  This is a problem.

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There were numerous problems in the execution of this pattern as well.  I made up an XL as per my usual sizing in Seamwork patterns but lengthened the shorts by 2 inches for fear of them being too short.  I also eliminated the slits in front.  Problem is it came out HUGE.  HUGE.  As in I had to make several alterations- cutting open the shoulder seams and shortening the straps by 2 inches or so, and hacking into the side seams to narrow the bodice and the shorts by a few inches as well.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the only problem..the torso is too short on me as well.  The top is really meant to blouse over and it doesn’t.  The rise on the shorts is too long, and the torso is too short in my opinion.  ugh.  Is it wearable though- sure.  Hopefully.  Here are a few shots of the side and back for blog purposes only- I don’t think I will ever show this view to the public- not without a cardigan to cover it up!

Once I realized this wasn’t working I immediately hacked up the pattern and cut the size Large and sewed up a version in a printed fabric.  I lengthened the bodice piece by a few inches, and kept the shorts as is.  It is not going to be photographed- not a good look!  I am not sure if it is the slimmer size, or the print of the fabric but I feel like a am wearing pajamas…and not in a good way.  I am determined to make this pattern work and will lenghten the bodice a few more inches (again) and try it in a solid again and see how it works!  For now I will wear this with a cardigan and wedges and “think” I look stylish.  Maybe.

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*Kudos to my 6 year old for snapping these pics on my cell phone after school today- not too bad!

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Seamwork’s Camden Cape

IMG_5196I knew as soon as I saw the new issue of Seamwork Magazine I was going to make the Camden cape.  Not that a cape is particularly useful in my life, or that I thought it would be particularly flattering on me, but I just had to have it!  All logic aside; there is something charming and elegant about a wool cape isn’t there?  I thought maybe I could actually pull it off if I paired it with slim pants and cute boots to modernize the silhouette.   I immediately printed it out and spent the countless hours taping the pages together and getting my pattern pieces cut out.  There are so many pieces to this thing!  My honest opinion?  This is really not a 3 hour pattern.  I swear I think at least 1 hour was spent cutting out my fabric.   I may be slow, but I feel like 3 hours is impossible.  I was determined though! I had the perfect fabric already- a few yards of a deep purple wool I had picked up for less than $2 at the thrift store months back.  Score!  I lined it with another thrifted fabric- a bright berry colored cotton.  I used 5 vintage brass buttons I had in my stash…overall cost to this is around $5.  Wow.  IF I were to make this again the first thing I would change however is this lining fabric- it really needs something something like a satin or other fabric that won’t “stick” to whatever I am wearing underneath it.  I think a different lining fabric would help it drape better as well.  IMG_5179IMG_5172IMG_5203

Now, lets get to the fit.  This thing is ridiculously enormous.  I made a size 18, and I feel as though I could take off both of the side panels and it would still be roomy enough.  I almost wondered if I cut extra pieces and made a huge mistake?  Hmmm. I don’t think so, so I just think I need to size down or hack this thing up and make it smaller.  Also, please ignore that wonky last button…I think it is just the photos, or I might have sewn it on a bit high.  UGH.  I may also need to iron this thing.  I really want to make it work and may try to make it smaller, or even add another row of buttons so that I can cross it over even further and have two rows of buttons like peacoat style? Enough of my negativity…l really want to get this to fit right so that it isn’t time wasted.  And of course I now feel like my wardrobe really needs a cape!   I can’t wait to see other versions of this out there- since the pattern has just been published I was going into this blind.  Thoughts?  Is it salvageable?   IMG_5186

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Lola, lola…love

I have been in a bit of a sewing slump lately.  So busy with work and the girls school and activities and my running that I have pushed it to the back burner…until now!   I used my lunch hour at work last week to run to Joann’s to buy specific fabric to force myself to finally MAKE SOMETHING.  I knew once I had the fabric and was in my space I would feel great and get my sewing mojo back.  And I did!

I recently subscribed to Seamwork magazine and have fallen in love with several of the patterns and was determined to make an Astoria top and Oslo sweater so I picked up 2 yards of a few different substantial knits from Joanns and got to work.  I have been incredibly frustrated with my serger not working, or seeming to work and then going to hell after 20 seconds.  ARGH.  I finally spent some time in my sewing studio and sat down and worked on my serger.  Sewing knits on my sewing machine is a total pain for me…that little lightning stitch takes forever compared to the serger so I knew I had to figure what the hell was going on to avoid totally getting aggravated.  Turns out it was my needle…or my mistake of buying the wrong needle.  Once I changed it to the correct one I was all set to serge away! I am so happy it was something simple and I didn’t need to take it in for repair, but I am annoyed with myself for letting it sit for so long before I figured it out!

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I sewed up a quick animal print ( so unlike me!) Astoria, and was about to make another with my new fave fabric- this amazing almost woven backed windowpane knit when I switched it up and realized I don’t really need more than one cropped sweater at this point and realized I had enough of the fabric to make my ultimate fall/winter favorite- the Lola by Victory Patterns.  I am so happy with the pattern switch- and I was able to whip this baby up with a bit less than 2 yards of fabric. I love love the comfortable style, the ridiculously deep pockets and the princess seams that give it some body skimming structure.

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It took much longer than the Seamwork patterns, and even though I had made it a few times before it still stumped me when trying to put it together.  It is a simple sew if you actually follow directions and pay attention to what piece lines up to what- but it is constructed of many more pattern pieces than most knit patterns so it takes some patience.  I am very excited that I was able to use the pattern with no adjustments this time.  In my past versions I had to increase the center panel by 1inch on the fold to add 2 inches to both the front center panel and back center panel since my measurements were above the included size…but this time I did not enlarge it and it works great.   I have lost almost 30lbs now and feel amazing.  Running has changed my life and I feel so much healthier and strong than I have in years.  Woo hoo.

I even had enough left to sew up a quick infinity scarf with the leftover fabric=easy future gift!  Once I figure out what to wear with the new cropped top I will blog it- but it is a different style for me and doesn’t work with my wardrobe of leggings and slim plants at this point.  I guess it is an excuse to sew some sort of skirt or get out of my comfort zone to become more comfortable wearing something that doesn’t cover my stomach and shows off my hips and waist.  Hmm.  We’ll see.  So for now here is the Lola.  Love.

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Summer Style

I’ve come to realize that up until now my summer style has been way too predictable.  Capri leggings with tunics or dresses.  That’s it!  I told myself this had to change.  While comfortable, I needed to branch out of loungewear and wear some real clothes.  Or, as my husband used to call it- daywear into evening wear into sleepwear.  In other words I was wearing clothes that sometimes transitioned into pajamas!  Yikes.  First step in changing this is replacing the leggings with skirts.  Easy.  Using this tutorial from MADE I whipped up a pattern according to my measurements to make a simple knit pencil skirt.  While I’ve attempted to do this myself in the past for some reason I never thought to slice off inches from the top and bottom of the skirt to give it some shape.  What a difference it makes!

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This is made using a navy floral ponte de roma from Girl Charlee.  I had originally purchased 3 yards with the idea of making a dress, but when I washed and went to cut the fabric I noticed horizontal runs through most of the yardage!  What I was able to salvage was not enough to make a dress at all…so this skirt was born.  I’ve already worn it countless times and have recieved many compliments.  Once my attic sewing room cools off a bit I may whip up a few more for when I return to work in the fall.  They are ridiculously easy and quick to make and make me feel put together with virtually no effort.  Just as easy as the capri leggings but much more stylish!

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Modified Moneta

I’ve been in a bit of a sewing slump lately.  Feeling frustrated with my serger that just refuses to work, fabric I have on hand in quantities less than what I need to actually make anything in my size, and patterns that just aren’t working out!  I have made a few versions of a vintage pattern I own and have been trying to get the fit right, using fabric I am really not in love with.  To get myself out of this rut I went fabric shopping!  I went to Joanns for some knit fabric because I haven’t had the best luck buying knits online and unfortunately they are the only local store that carries them.  Booo!!  Anyways, armed with my coupons and a free hour I made a quick run there, came home and washed the fabric and a few hours later ended up with this!

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This is why I love tried and true patterns…so quick and painless.  Although I love the challenge and excitement of trying new patterns, there is something so satisfying as sewing something you KNOW you are going to fit into and love.  I did modify the pattern this time though so it was a bit of a gamble.  The Moneta often makes me feel like I am all boob- know what I mean?  The bodice is so short on it, I feel like I have boobs and then a super gathered waist right below them!  I wanted to try to lengthen the bodice to avoid the look of having boobs at my waist.  So, for this version I lengthened the bodice about 2 inches, and I removed a great deal of the gathers to make do with the 2 yards of this fabric I purchased.  I actually really like how it turned out, and I love that I only needed 2 yards!  I did fully line the bodice in the same fabric and added the pockets as well.

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Not bad for under $20!  Due to my serger being on the fritz I sewed this baby up using the stretch stitch on my machine- works just as well as the serger but it takes forever in comparison.  Oh well, I must try to be more patient.  Overall I am in love with this dress, I may even prefer the less gathered skirt although this more body skimming look may take some getting used to!

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I decided to wear it to my little girl’s Kindergarten Celebration (I’ll be blogging about her dress next!).  Don’t we look smashing in our homemade frocks?

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