Sunday, May 31, 2015

Me-Made-May '15: Week 5 and Summary

The end of May means the end of Me-Made-May. This was my second time participating, and I would definitely call it a success! I had pledged to wear at least one me-made garment every day, and to sew something with rayon, and I accomplished both. In fact, on several days I wore more than one handmade garment, and one day I managed to fit in four!

Over the course of the month, I wore twenty-one unique handmade garments, which I made from ten different patterns. Three of those items were made this month: my first Clémence Skirt, my third Aberdeen Tunic and my fourth Staple Dress. One of the garments, the Twinkle Twinkle Wiksten tank I made in 2013, was ruined due to a laundry mishap. The most frequently worn item was my Basic Black Aberdeen Tunic, and it’s no surprise that the pattern I wore the most was the Aberdeen Tunic, which showed up a total of ten times. The Julia Cardigan was a close second, at nine times. The only handmade garment in my closet that I didn’t wear was my Oslo Cardigan, so it may be time to donate it.

For the daily photographs, this year I set up my tripod inside our house, next to a window. While it was an improvement over last year’s smartphone photos in front of our door, it still left something to be desired. Most days, it was a little darker than I would have liked, and the limited space meant I cropped my feet out of every picture. Oh well, I have a year to figure out how to improve on this year’s photography.

I love participating in Me-Made-May and following along with other people on Instagram. What I enjoy most about the event, though, is recording my daily outfits and using that data to reflect on what direction I want to take my garment sewing next. Right now, I am conflicted on a couple of points. With the help of the Wardrobe Architect challenge, I have been moving towards a more cohesive capsule wardrobe. However, during this month, I got so bored with my clothes, that I impulsively whipped up the Crimson Poppies Aberdeen Tunic, which I love, and also brought out my two cat themed shirts that had been previously banished because they were the “wrong” colors. Going forward, I need to balance boring but useful staples with quirky and fun pieces that bring me joy. The other point I’m waffling on is the tension between my tendency to remake the same pattern over and over again and the need to try new patterns. I really enjoy making the same thing over and over again, but when I put thirty-one pictures of what I wore this month side-by-side, it looks a little boring, especially when I wear the same pattern two days in a row. There are times when I want to make seven of the same shirt and wear it every day of the week, and times when I want to dress more creatively. I’m not going to stop sewing repeats of the same pattern, but I am going to try to be more thoughtful about it, and intentionally try new patterns. I will admit that one of the reasons I make the same thing repeatedly is that I dislike both assembling PDFs and tracing patterns, so I tend to just reach for my already prepared patterns. I need to get over that.

Here are the details for Week 5:

Monday, May 25, 2015: Cattitude Wiksten Tank, Basic Black Julia Cardigan
Tuesday, May 26, 2015: Crimson Poppies Aberdeen Tunic, Navy Julia Cardigan
Wednesday, May 27, 2015: Basic Black Plantain Tee
Thursday, May 28, 2015: Pearl Bracelet Wiksten Tank, Cotton + Steel XOXO Clémence Skirt
Friday, May 29, 2015: Domino Staple Dress
Saturday, May 30, 2015: Basic Black Aberdeen Tunic
Sunday, May 31, 2015: Cotton + Steel Gemstone Staple Dress (not yet blogged)

I’m actually kind of sad that Me-Made-May is over and can’t wait until next May!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Crimson Poppies Aberdeen Tunic

This isn’t the first Aberdeen Tunic I’ve made, and it probably won’t be the last. The pattern is from the March 2015 issue of Seamwork magazine. It calls for one and a half yards of knit fabric, but for this version, I managed to cut the main fabric out of just a yard, and used a scrap from my Navy Julia Cardigan for the neckband. Earlier during Me-Made-May, it was pointed out to me that I tend to dress primarily in dark blues. This is true. However, I wanted a bright new top for the new season, so I decided to deviate from my usual somber hues and picked Paparounes Knit in Crimson by Katarina Roccella for this shirt. Since it’s an Art Gallery knit fabric, it was easy to work with. I didn’t even try to match the stripes at the seams. I did, however, carefully pin the selvages together in order to make sure that the stripes were perfectly horizontal since this was my first time working with striped apparel fabric.

One of the things I love about the Seamwork patterns is that they are designed to be super quick. I am usually a very slow garment sewer. Generally, I cut pattern pieces out on Sunday, sew 15-30 minutes a day during the work week and stay up late Friday and/or Saturday to finish a garment in a week. The Aberdeen Tunic is such a quick sew that I cut it out on a Friday and sewed it up on a Saturday. Talk about instant gratification!

There’s not much more to say about this shirt. It’s quick, fun and comfy to wear. I’m looking forward to the new installment of Seamwork because I’m hoping to discover another speedy go-to pattern for my repertoire.

For this photoshoot, my pint-size photography assistant wasn’t nearly as helpful, so I’m back to taking all the pictures myself with the self-timer function on my camera.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Me-Made-May ’15: Week 4

The fourth week of Me-Made-May is over and now we’re headed into the home stretch! At this point of the month, I’m somewhat sick of selfies and wearing variations of the same things over and over again. Previously, I had been trying to stick to the garments that fit within my Wardrobe Architect color scheme, but my capsule wardrobe was a little too cohesive and I got bored. Craving a little variety, I returned my two Catnap fabric shirts to my closet. They’re not in “my colors,” but they sure are fun!

Monday, May 18, 2015: Triangle Tokens Belcarra Blouse, Basic Black Julia Cardigan
Tuesday, May 19, 2015: Pearl Bracelet Wiksten Tank
Wednesday, May 20, 2015: Crimson Poppies Aberdeen Tunic (not yet blogged)
Thursday, May 21, 2015: Gridlocked Wiksten Tank
Friday, May 22, 2015: Polka Dot Aberdeen Tunic, Navy Julia Cardigan
Saturday, May 23, 2015: Cotton + Steel XOXO Clémence Skirt, Basic Black Manila Leggings
Sunday, May 24, 2015: Catnap Bess Top

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cotton + Steel XOXO Clémence Skirt

Despite all the issues I experienced making this Clémence skirt, I adore the end product. I see several more of these in my future. The pattern is from Love At First Stitch, by Tilly Walnes, and based on this one pattern, I would highly recommend the book if you want to challenge yourself to learn more garment sewing techniques. Of all the patterns in this book, I chose this one to make first because quilting cotton was one of its recommended fabrics. I have heard and read repeatedly that quilting cotton is less than ideal for sewing garments, especially when there are sleeves involved, but as a quilter, I am drawn to the patterns that are only available in that substrate. When I realized that quilting cotton was an option for this pattern, wild horses couldn’t stop me from trying it. I had purchased a couple yards of Cotton + Steel’s navy XOXO fabric from Drygoods Design a few months back, so decided to use that for my first ever skirt.

The Clémence skirt is also unique because you draft most of the pattern pieces based on your actual measurements. This is genius because you get an excellent fit the first time around. However, it is not genius when you decide, like I did, that you don’t need to actually draft the patterns onto paper and can just cut out the rectangles with the rotary cutter and acrylic rulers you use for quilting. I swear I ironed this fabric straight, but once the pattern pieces were cut, I noticed that the design was askew. Since I didn’t have enough fabric to cut more pieces, I decided to sew up what I had, regardless. (Also, since I was working with narrow quilting cotton, I didn’t actually have enough fabric to make the skirt width twice my hip size. Since Tilly says in the directions that you can fudge the measurements a little, I fudged the measurements with abandon, and luckily, it worked out.)

Sewing the skirt pieces and pocket pieces together was easy, but I’ve made garments with pockets before. Actually, after using the KonMari method to declutter my closet, I’ve learned that I don’t actually wear skirts and dresses without pockets, so I’m going to do my best to include pockets wherever I can going forward. The gathers were a bit challenging, but improved with practice, so I would attempt them again. However, I did not enjoy taking out the basting stitches. Despite being intimidated by the interfacing, that part went smoothly. I even learned how to use the steam function on my “new” iron just to make this skirt. I liked that the waistband facing is topstitched down, because I have an intense dislike of facings. (I’m looking at you, Crepe Dress!) Next up, the invisible zipper.

At this point, I had to leave off to attend to some real world responsibilities. When I returned to my sewing nook, it was late, but I was determined to finish this skirt in time to wear it the next day. Ambitious, I know, especially considering the fact that I had never sewn an invisible zipper before. Earlier, I had come to the shocking realization that my trusty Elna didn’t even come with an invisible zipper foot! Luckily, a quick internet search convinced me that it was possible to sew an invisible zipper with a regular zipper foot, which I did have. I was pleasantly surprised when the zipper went in without much trouble. With only the hemming left to do, I tried it on and was mortified when it wouldn’t zip up! I sucked my tummy in, contorted my arms and pulled as hard as I dared. No go. I removed the skirt and tried to zip it up again and it still wouldn’t work. It wasn’t too small, then. The zipper stopped zipping right where the skirt proper met the waistband. But why? I stomped around the house, grumbling at my sympathetic and long-suffering husband. He suggested I get some sleep. I refused, knowing that sleep would elude me until this sewing dilemma was resolved. Still perplexed, I peered at the place where the zipper inexplicably stopped. It looked like my topstitching had run over onto the zipper tape. As I unpicked the offending stitches, it became clear that my overzealous topstitching was to blame. Once those few, tiny stitches were undone, the zipper zipped up, just as it should. Crises averted, I hemmed the skirt, hung it up, and collapsed into a deep, satisfied sleep.

In those late-night hours when I struggled to finish this skirt, I was disappointed with it, mostly due to the wonky design that was the result of cutting the pattern pieces slightly off grain. That night, I thought I would call it a wearable muslin, wear it a time or two for Me-Made-May and then scrap it. However, once I wore it for a day, I fell in love. The length was just right, the pockets were big enough that my cell phone didn’t fall out, and it was comfortable and modest enough to wear while chasing after an active four-year-old. It’s my new favorite skirt! As a bonus, I found that it works well with my black Plantain tee, which had previously been consigned to oblivion because it was too short. It’s not too short for Clémence! Also, I realized after I made the skirt that the fabric coordinates perfectly with my 2014 PAX Prime t-shirt. I’m not sure exactly when, but I will be wearing that combination before Me-Made-May is up. I will definitely be making another Clémence skirt as well. I just have to decide which fabric to use next!

(All photo credits on this post go to my four-year-old daughter. When I set up the tripod to take these pictures, she insisted that it be lowered to her height and actually did a pretty good job of taking pictures for me. She also made my necklace.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Me-Made-May ’15: Week 3

Can you believe that May is already halfway over? At this rate, it will be June before we know it. As far as Me-Made-May goes, this week was a good one. In spite of the fact that one of my Wiksten tanks bit the dust due to a laundry accident, the week improved from there. I was able to revive my black Plantain tee, which had been tossed in the “doesn’t fit” pile. With jeans, it’s not long enough, but it’s perfect with my new Clémence Skirt. Add a Julia Cardigan and some Manila Leggings, and you’ve got a Me-Made-Day with four different handmade items! I was pretty stoked about that one. Also, I was getting bored with all the black and dark blue in my wardrobe, so I whipped up a new Aberdeen Tunic in brighter colors. That’s what I call a good week.

Monday, May 11, 2015: Pearl Bracelet Wiksten Tank, Basic Black Julia Cardigan
Tuesday, May 12, 2015: Button-Up Belcarra Blouse
Wednesday, May 13, 2015: Dotted Boulevard Myrtle Dress, Basic Black Manila Leggings
Thursday, May 14, 2015: Gridlocked Wiksten Tank
Friday, May 15, 2015: Basic Black Aberdeen Tunic, En Route Julia Cardigan
Saturday, May 16, 2015: Basic Black Plantain Tee, Navy Julia Cardigan, Cotton + Steel Clémence Skirt (not yet blogged), Basic Black Manila Leggings
Sunday, May 17, 2015: Crimson Poppies Aberdeen Tunic (not yet blogged)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Me-Made-May ’15: Week 2

Well, the second week of Me-Made-May has come and gone. It’s fascinating to record what you wear every day and uncover your unconscious fashion quirks. For example, twice this past week, I wore a Wiksten Tank/Julia Cardigan combo without realizing it. Oops. I also wore the same Aberdeen Tunic twice this week. That was on purpose because I really wanted to wear it with the Clémence Skirt that I finished just in time to wear on Mother’s Day. More on that later.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015: Polka Dot Aberdeen Tunic
Thursday, May 7, 2015: Triangle Tokens Belcarra Blouse
Friday, May 8, 2015: Basic Black Aberdeen Tunic
Saturday, May 9, 2015: Spark Double Gauze Belcarra Blouse
Sunday, May 10, 2015: Basic Black Aberdeen Tunic, Cotton + Steel Clémence Skirt (not yet blogged)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Swoon Baby Quilt the Third

Last fall, I discovered the perfect formula for a fast and fun baby quilt: choose a print fabric for the backing, make a Swoon block out of coordinating solids, add a 6” border all around, quilt, bind and give away! This is actually the third baby quilt that I’ve made this way, but I haven’t managed to give the second one to its new owner yet, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer to see that one.

For this quilt, I matched the fabric to the new baby’s nursery theme (ocean) and colors (yellow and blue). The backing fabric I found at Hawthorne Threads was a perfect match: Whales in Bright by Ann Kelle from her Urban Zoologie collection. Once I had the backing fabric in my hands, I picked out coordinating Kona solids from Fat Quarter Shop: Cheddar, Prussian, Snow and Water. Since this was the third time I made this pattern, I barely had to think about it as I sewed it together.

For the quilting, I marked one diagonal line through the center, and used that as a guide to quilt lines 1” apart across the entire quilt. Again, quick and easy. So quick, that I was able to present it to the new mom-to-be before she went on maternity leave. While I enjoyed every minute of planning and making this quilt, the best part was seeing how much my friend liked it and knowing that she and her new baby will enjoy it for years to come.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Me-Made-May ’15: Week 1

Three days of Me-Made-May down, twenty-eight to go! So far, it has been fun to compare my progress with last year’s Me-Made-May. Day 1 and Day 2 were new outfits that figured knit items, but Day 3 was unintentionally a close repeat of last year’s Day 26. I guess I’m pretty predictable.

This year, I’m trying a new location for my photos, since my wardrobe full of dark colors doesn’t lend itself to being photographed in front of a black door. I’m also using a tripod (thanks, Dad!) instead of asking my long-suffering and under-appreciated husband to take the pictures. The tripod has proven irresistible to my four-year-old, so I let her “help” me take photos this weekend. Thus, the “creatively” framed Day 2 picture. Here’s to encouraging creativity in our children early!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fresh Sewing Day: April 2015

Happy May Day! Can you believe April is over already? What a busy month it was! In addition to completing three garments and a mini quilt, I also sewed a few gifts that I will show here once they reach their recipients. I have one more gift to finish in May, and then I can shift my focus back to selfish sewing, just in time for Me-Made-May. This is my favorite month of the year, and I hope it finds you well, dear readers.

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily’s Quilts.