Week Infinity: Me Made May 2016

Remember how I never finished a summary of Me Made May 2015? Clearly I’m overachieving at dropping-the-ball this year, because I lost track in week two. (In my defense, week two ended at the beach.)

Let’s see what I can dig up…

Day Eight
#memademay2016 #mmmay16

Ooh! I’m wearing the second version of that tank-dress I copied. (The gray one I wore Week One is the first version.) You can’t tell in the photo, but the fabric is textured, and it has a really great weight/swing because of that.

Note to self: The straps are SLIGHTLY shorter than I’d like, so I need to update the pattern pieces with a little length.

Day Nine
Made the skirt. I think it's stolen from the #ladyskaterdress pattern, but it might also be a partial-circle skirt. #memademay2016 #mmmay16

Just a simple circle-ish skirt. I think it’s just the bottom half of a lady skater, lengthened.

This fabric is a scuba-knit, which is why it’s so shiny. The shine makes it look fancier than it is.

I have tightened the elastic in that waistband at least three times. Clearly my lady skater skirt hacking skills could use some work.

Day Ten
☁️☁️😩 Wearing a #plantaintee and another #M6654 skirt. One of these days it'll be sunny enough to wear a bright color. (Those yellow shoes were an attempt, but I felt like they were mocking me.) #memademay2016 #mmmay16

I am having PTSD now, looking at these photos. THE WEATHER WAS SO DREARY AND I WAS SO OVER EVERYTHING.

Plantain tee – one of my first, in a really slippery ITY knit. And the skirt is a stretch denim pencil skirt, the first (modified) version of M6654. My second – the gray one I wore in Week One – was slightly better, and I think I have enough of this denim to take a second run at it.

Day Eleven
Coping strategies for perpetual rain: re-wear comfortable me-made garments (the skirt; shirt is store bought) and copy cute poses from @missmake 👍😜 #memademay2016 #mmmay16

OH HELLO GRAY PENCIL SKIRT, I WAS JUST TALKING ABOUT YOU. I just really love that skirt right now, and so I wore it with an old American Apparel top (that I keep meaning to copy).

Day Twelve
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA #SALLIEJUMPSUIT AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA #memademay2016 #mmmay16

I don’t think I can admit publicly how long I’ve wanted to make a jumpsuit. Let’s just say that I have a get-a-grip-friend that I check in with every time I fall for some 70s-loungewear-inspired article of clothing, to find out whether it’s actually cute or if my total obsession with that era’s clothing has blinded me. (For reference: Dirty Dancing, Wet Hot American Summer, Red Oaks on Amazon Prime, literally every striped cotton dress with a chevron pattern ever.)

Thankfully, the Sallie Jumpsuit made it past her filter, and I’ve been holding onto it for almost a year, waiting for the nerve to make my own. Now that I’ve done it, I should admit that I have TWO SECRET PINBOARDS filled with jumpsuit photos. One of them is a list of variations I could make on the Sallie (or mash-ups with other patterns). I probably won’t wait another year before trying another jumpsuit!

Day Thirteen
Guess who didn't notice people were sizing up when they made the @seamworkmag #mesadress and accidentally made this sexy number? 🙌 #suckingeverythingin #memademay2016 #mmmay16

THIS WAS UNEXPECTED.

I found this gloriously spongey floral knit at Jo-Anns when I was picking up some notions, and they had JUST over a yard left on the bolt. I bought it without a plan, and decided to try my hand at a Mesa Dress.

Unfortunately, I failed to notice that most people size up their Mesa, so that it’s not so form-fitting, which means this dress doesn’t have QUITE the playful/casual vibe I was hoping for. However, it’s still awesome, and I will probably wear it a lot once I get used to the fit.

Day Fourteen
Taken after a dozen or so shots, when a friend opened the window and asked if I needed help. #totallynormalbehavior This top is draft 3 or 4 of my attempt to make a loose tank. #memademay2016 #mmmay16

First night at the beach: one of my only real attempts to capture a garment.

This is actually a draft, one of many in my attempts to make a TNT woven-tank pattern. Once I have the fit worked out, I’ll let myself sew it up in some drapier, silky fabrics. But until then, I keep testing it with cotton lawns (which have more movement than a quilting cottons, but not much).

Hilariously, I’m in this process because I can never find a store-bought sleeveless top that I like. The shirt I copied this from is the best option I’d ever found – it tented out more than I’d like, and I didn’t particularly love the print, but I love the IDEA of a sleeveless woven top to wear with skinny pants. So, the frustrations of this process are lessened when I realize that I will never again have to search for one in the stores, if I can perfect my own.

WEEK TWO THOUGHTS

This week really illustrates the reasons I sew: I could make a jumpsuit that is long enough for my torso, something that I am highly unlikely to find in stores. I’m also in the process of finding the best-fitting sleeveless top, so I never have to try on an ugly ill-fitting version in the store.

I have to remember that, as nit-picky as I can be with my clothing, the standard I hold when MAKING for myself is significantly higher than the standard I can expect when SHOPPING for myself. So even when these garments fall short of my ideal (“perfection”), they are so much better-fitting than 90% of the clothes available to me.

To Make:
-another jumpsuit, before the excitement wears off
-further revisions to that sleeveless top pattern
-slight update to tank dress pattern (lengthen straps)

Week One: Me Made May 2016

Before I jump in, you might be interested in this interview in Seamwork Magazine with the woman who started Me Made May.

Day One
I snuck a new plant into the office today, so I might as well kick off #memademay2016 with these filing cabinets! Goal: wear me-made garments all month, take a photo each day, use this experience to guide my wardrobe planning/sewing for the next year. Wea

Not much to say about this that hasn’t been said already. Lady Skater Dress FOR THE WIN!

In a deep dive search through the blog, I found the first lady skater mention in March 2014, and that inspiration pin is still glorious! Perhaps, before this falls apart from excessive wear, I should replace it with a long sleeved version. Made with bamboo jersey. (omg now I am dreaming of that dress and how much I want to wear it)

Day Two
I did NOT expect to be sleeveless so early in #memademay2016! This is a first draft (aka wearable muslin) of the #wrendress by @colettepatterns - I'm now convinced they're wizards, since I didn't know it was possible to wear a wrap-style top without needi

It’s the Colette Wren! My very first run at this pattern, and I intentionally didn’t make any alterations so I could see what’s what.

I definitely have some notes for myself (I literally have an email thread with myself titled “wren dress notes) – to shorten the bodice in the back, which I should really be doing automatically to knit dresses like this, because it’s a mix of the full bust and the wide high hips and OH RIGHT THIS IS WHY I ALWAYS FEEL AWKWARD WHEN BLOGGING ABOUT SEWING (Sidebar: how cute is it that Heather kept saying “bum” in her amazingly thorough jeans-adjusting post?) ANYWAY I should automatically be making this alteration before I sew a pattern, but I was curious to see whether this faux-wrap top would even work. I was incredulous. I happen to love wrap dresses, and hate having to wear a tank top underneath them, but the ladies at Colette are WIZARDS because I wore this dress all day at work and felt totally SFW. Magic!

The other note is to add elastic to the neckline as described here by verykerryberry, for a LITTLE extra security. (The fabric was feeling a little droopy by the end of the work day. I’d prefer to err on the side of caution.)

Day Three
Wearing a #nettie tee with a brand new skirt - #M6654 significantly altered but finally replacing a RTW skirt I'd been wearing for 10+ years! #memademay2016 #mmmay16

OH HEY! SEPARATES!

The top is a Nettie tee, made last year out of bamboo jersey which continues to be as soft as a kitten’s belly.

The skirt! I made this over the weekend using the M6654 pattern that I’ve altered significantly (added darts, a waist-to-hip curve, removed the elastic waistband) but which is totally satisfying the pencil skirt craving that I seem to have EVERY SPRING. (I made my first pencil skirts two springs ago. I think it’s just a spring thing, because I can’t wear them with tights and I don’t want my legs to be bound together in the heat of summer.)

The fabric is a stretch rayon bottomweight from Harts Fabric (I wish they had it in other colors) which PERFECTLY MATCHES a grey skirt I bought at The Limited back in 2001 for business club (yep. that was a thing. there were so many powerpoint presentations.) and which I refused to throw away even though it was falling apart because it was the closest thing to a perfect work skirt that I had ever known. (Actually, no. There is also a wool pencil skirt from The Gap that I bought in 2003. It’s in a box that might as well be labeled, “Clothing I love too much to rip apart for pattern-making, even though that’s ostensibly why I have held onto them for so many years.”)

Day Four
Dressing to match the weather today, in a simple self-drafted dress. (Scroll back to April 3rd to see the process, April 7th to see the dress.) #memademay2016 #mmmay16

(Sidebar: I’m already tired of writing about my clothes. But I know I’ll appreciate this summary in the future, so I will try to rally.)

This is the a copy of an Anthropologie dress that I wear all the time – or I WOULD wear all the time if it wasn’t made of a complicated/heavy material. It’s a perfect tank dress, so I traced it with pins, then compared it to other patterns that fit me well, and voila! It was a little snug – this fabric doesn’t stretch quite as much as the original – but I could imagine wearing nothing but this type of dress once summer arrives – sleeveless and simple.

Day Five
Not feeling it today, with the cold and the rain, so I put on a cozy #plantaintee and a self-drafted wrap cardigan. Perhaps sunshine, and motivation, will show up tomorrow? #memademay2016 #mmmay16

Plantain Tee in bamboo jersey = comfort clothes.

Day Six
Catching up on #memademay2016. Was home sick (allergy overload) on Friday, so these #salme shorts were representing! One major motivation from this project over the years has been to make lazy/boring/everyday/awesome things. #mmmay16

Note to self: going through the trouble of adapting an elastic-waist lounge shorts pattern to fit perfectly is THE BEST IDEA EVER. It was super-tedious, I know, and you had to stare at your butt in a lot of ill-fitting drafts, but the end product is worth it. Do this with other boring basic patterns, okay? And then remember to sew up the final version in something comfortable, like this dreamy cotton lawn.

(Confession: this pair is actually the next-to-last version, but the cotton is so cozy that I can’t stop wearing them.)

Day Seven
Spent most of Saturday sewing, and lounging around in this self-drafted skirt. #memademay2016 #mmmay16

When you make pencil skirts out of soft knit fabrics, they are basically loungewear, and thus perfect for Saturdays in. #goals

WEEK ONE THOUGHTS

Ummm…remember when my wardrobe was all woven dresses? I barely can, since almost every me-made garment worn this week was a knit. Getting over that particular sewing fear was a huge boost to my wardrobe.

I still DO have some woven dresses, and will wear them soon. It’s been so cloudy and chilly in the mornings, so dressing for maximum comfort has been my main instinct.

To Make:
-an updated Wren bodice pattern (and make alterations to this first draft)
-long-sleeved Lady Skater to replace the blue version
-a pair (or two) of sleep shorts in a soft cotton

15 books finished in 2016: Everything I Never Told You

15 books finished in 2016

why I don’t write books:
I’d make all the characters
go to counseling

This book was beautiful, and well written, and I was really drawn into the story. However, I was also frustrated, because most, perhaps all, of the conflict in the book would have been resolved if the family members had communicated with each other. Though, given the title of this book, perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised?

Me Made May 2016

Warning: this is the time of the year when my blog turns from sporadic book reviews to nearly-constant postings about my handmade wardrobe! It will only last a month – and maybe not even that long  (because I never even posted a report from my final week of Me Made May 2015).

For reference, here’s my 2014 pledge, and my 2015 rationale for doing this again. I’m totally boring and not altering my intentions very much, though I should add that I think this challenge is inspiring for friends who don’t sew, or who are just starting to sew. (Particularly because it was a non-sewing friend who asked, last month, if I’d be participating again.) My hope is that, by being somewhat normal about wearing handmade clothes, while celebrating the simple wins and being honest about the more challenging makes, I can show that making your own clothes is neither impossible nor inaccessible.

Pulled all of the handmade pieces together, so I know what I'm working with. Biggest challenge might be coming up with an excuse to wear that shiny one-sleeved top I made for NYE. 🎉

Also, I love the burst of sewing mojo that comes with the challenge – I always have a running list of wardrobe staples I want to sew, or new patterns I want to test, and having the chance to share them during MMMay is a great incentive!

There's been a lot of this happening. #sewingupastorm

14 books finished in 2016: Sula

14 books finished in 2016

a few complex tales
of complex people living
life on the bottom

FIRST TONI MORRISON BOOK! Where is my gold star? Except, honestly, I should have read her before now. I guess I understand why this book in particular might not have been on high school reading lists (“mature content”), and perhaps others are similar, but I have a lot of catching up to do.

I just loved that this was a book filled with black characters, particularly focused on black women, and exhibiting their rich, full, complicated, sometimes ugly lives. I loved the tale of two black girls who grew up friends, kept each other’s secrets, grew apart, learned to hate each other, and attempted reconciliation in the end. I loved it for the ways their stories match mine, and also for the ways they don’t.

You know what this reminds me of? The way Ta-Nehisi Coates describes Howard University in BTWAM – and I’m surprised that I didn’t mention that in my review, because it really impacted me. I loved reading a description of a world that I will never be a part of, because it’s a world that exists when there is freedom from the white gaze, from white influence, from…I’m failing to say this in a way that is coherent, but part of it is that I suspect these characters wouldn’t be allowed to be so at ease, so fully themselves, if I were standing in the room. That’s brokenness – and we’ve all inherited it through generations of racism and racialized systems, and there’s hope that one day we can move past this brokenness, but for now I’m just happy to have the option to be a fly on the wall through books like this.