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


I’ve been feeling frustrated with myself, with the fact that I haven’t made any clothing in the last few weeks. But then I reviewed my latest version of the Infinite List and realized that I’ve made progress on many fronts.

1. Sleep shorts? MADE SOME. Made a lot, actually! Multiple copies of both the Salme Elastic Waist Shorts and the Lakeside Pajama Shorts. And I’ve been sleeping in them, rotating as I always do with pajamas. My absolute favorite pair, the ones I wish were never dirty, are the Salme version I made from an old set of pillowcases. I think the Salme pattern will be my winner – the one I return to for more versions of lounge shorts – but I might have to give my Lakeside one more try, in an equally soft cotton. Either way, I AM WINNING AT SLEEP RIGHT NOW.

2. Fitness shorts? I reviewed the swatches and color cards, and decided to commit to a few yards of a high-end compression fabric. It’s sitting at home, waiting to be cut into.

3. More Lady Skaters? It hasn’t happened yet, but I think my last two were impulse sewn, which means I’m just waiting for another impulse.

4. Pencil skirt? I haven’t made one yet, but I bought one with a gift card from the Gap, to tide me over. Wearing that has helped me to determine that I probably want a non-stretch pencil skirt (because it is both wrinkly and baggy by the end of the day, and I’d prefer just wrinkles).



I have no idea when I started making this, but it’s a bright green rayon, fully lined. The original intent was to add an elastic waist, like its dress twin, but after a few frustrating runs at the armhole finishing, I think I put this in time-out. It waited there, un-elasticized and un-hemmed, until one morning when I was motivated enough to HEM THIS DRESS AND THE LINING before work. Since that morning, I’ve worn it both belted and with a cardigan.

#bestfriendquilt 👍 #bestfriendquilt

Also, THIS HAPPENED. Or, if I’m honest it’s been happening for years, and I found myself approaching a significantly fun moment in the process. What that means is that a lot of my evening sewing time has been focused on quilting instead of garments.

And not just for one reason…

For everyone who asks how long it takes to make a quilt...(everyone)...I was able to stitch eleven of these blocks while watching M:I-3 tonight. There are 100 blocks on the quilt. #dothemath #thisiswhyidont Since it's finally cool enough to have a big quilt on my lap. #handstitched

Now that the nights are getting colder, I’m reminded that I don’t have a quilt large enough to drape over all sides of my bed. (They’re all closer to an Epic Throw size – large enough to cover a mattress but not hang over the sides.) This one was just waiting to be quilted and bound with no particular deadline. I decided on a simple hand-quilting design, and 100 stitched boxes later, it’s ready to be bound and washed and thrown onto my bed triumphantly! (Next time I plug in the sewing machine, this will probably be the reason.)

the capsule wardrobe infinite list

I may have just, in this moment, made peace with a lot of my personal blogging problems. I am a person who lives in the process, in the brainstorming, in the research, in the give and take and “maybe this” and “have you thought about trying…” and once I get to a decision point, all of the fun is over, I act on my decision and I move on with my life. Which explains why I am NEVER motivated to blog about a project once it’s finished. Once something is finished, once I’ve worn it in public for the first time, I’m already scheming about the NEXT thing, and I don’t want to loan any of my brain to dwelling on the past.

So here’s a list of things I’m thinking about right now.

1. Lounge shorts. Sleep shorts. One of my (long) long-term goals is to replace my wardrobe with entirely handmade garments. This meant that, as the Soffe shorts that I’ve had since college are all falling apart, I needed to find something new to wear while sleeping/loafing. Thankfully, I already owned digital versions of the Salme’s Elastic Waist Shorts AND Grainline’s Lakeside Pajama’s.

Also, I’ve recently sorted through sewing scraps and failures, and had been trying to utilize these fabrics instead of throwing them away! This meant that scrap pique from a summer dress helped test the Salme pattern, and I made final versions out of a) an unused pillowcase set (which is probably the most brilliant idea EVER) and scraps from this striped skirt. I was able to make some Lakeside shorts out of beautiful quilting cotton I bought on vacation as well as flannel scraps from a circle-scarf sewing binge a few years back.

Thoughts about this:
-MAKING SHORTS OUT OF SCRAPS IS SO MUCH FUN! I am so glad I figured this out.
-Finally figuring out how to use a bias tape maker wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. Also, I now have miles and miles of bias tape made from OTHER fabric scraps!
-Everyone wants me to make them lounge shorts now. This…is probably not something I’m going to do, but EVERYONE, YOU COULD LEARN!
-Figuring out the exactly perfect length for elastic waistbands is TOUGH. This might have to do with how snug the shorts fit in general, meaning the elastic is mostly pointless. But I feel like there is a 1/2 inch difference between too loose and just right, and I haven’t yet found it, but I am getting there.

2. Fitness shorts. Shorts shorts shorts. Have I said that word enough yet for it to become gibberish?

Again, I’ve had a situation arise where most of my exercise shorts/leggings are falling apart, and they can be EXPENSIVE to replace, so I’m trying to learn how to replace them my own. I bought the Duathlon Shorts from Fehr Trade, which seem to be everyone’s favorites (and also have an awesome hidden phone pocket in their design). Since I knew this project would live or die by the fabric, I actually bought a collection of swatches and color cards from a manufacturer, which was VERY EXCITING and reiterated that I never can anticipate what a fabric will look/feel like based on the description and a digital photo.

The next step is to order some fabric, so I bought one last pair of awesome leggings to tide me over until then.

3. Making more Lady Skater dresses. The weather cooled off a bit this past weekend, and I pulled on the awesome brown terrycloth version which, people are ANGRY when they realize how comfortable it is, and it is one of my strongest selling points for sewing: “YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES AND THEY CAN BE GORGEOUS AND SECRETLY SWEATPANTS!”

I need to pull from my stash for this one. I think there’s some purple ponte knit calling my name.

One of my concerns is that my “capsule wardrobe” will turn into a closet full of Lady Skater dresses in every color of the rainbow. Which isn’t a terrible idea, BUT will probably be boring after a while, so…

4. Pencil skirt! I have had a pencil-skirt sized hole in my wardrobe for a while now, which needs to be addressed. I don’t wear them frequently, but I DO want to have the option to dress like a Very Professional Lady from time to time. And I think I’ve seen enough ruffle-less versions of By Hand London’s Charlotte Skirt (the paper pattern was a birthday present LAST YEAR) to convince me that it’s going to be the one.

Though, I might wait until I’ve completed this Craftsy class to start making a fitted skirt. It’s already been purchased, and the accompanying pattern is in my house, so this is definitely a winter project.

5. More things. All the things. But I’m going to stop here for now.

Days 15-21 of Me Made May

#memademay15 #mmmay15
Day 15 – This is my snow day dress. McCall 6465. I don’t know why I haven’t made more of these! (Probably because I am afraid to buy nicer silk fabrics, which is what makes this delightful.) I’m tempted to make this in a knit fabric, but I think the casual shape needs a fancier fabric to ensure I’m not just wearing a nightshirt in public.

#memademay15 #mmmay15
Day 16 – Another dress that is ridiculously simple, awesome because of the drapey fabric (this one is a polyester, I believe), and begging me to make another. In the next version, I really want to figure out how to enclose the elastic waistband – this one is just sneakily made with narrow elastic and my widest zigzag stitch.

#memademay15 #mmmay15 (saving those knit tops for another day)
Day 17 – Burda 7798, which I made four or five years ago and keep telling myself to replace. (The cotton is always wrinkly, though insanely soft at this point. The fit is terrible – and I finally made adjustments to it last year, but haven’t successfully made a replacement dress.) This dress is heavily worn and well-loved.

Same bodice (self-drafted) as Days 3 and 6 and 12. Colette Peony sleeves and skirt. #memademay15 #mmmay15
Day 18 – It’s a pink dress/peony mashup, the same as my Day 3 dress but in a very different fabric.

Faceless Wonder Woman pose because I could only make weird faces at the camera today. #memademay15 #mmmay15
Day 19 – Same bodice as above, but with an attempted v-back and a quasi-straight skirt. This was made on a whim from some quilting cotton in my stash, and it turned out so much better than anticipated.

I only made the skirt, but when I tucked in the top it was obvious that I should see them together one day. Dresses are so much less effort in the morning! #matchingishardwork #memademay15 #mmmay15
Day 20 – Self drafted knit skirt. I tucked in my tank top midway through the day and realized that I could REALLY get into a two-tone knit dress. Adding that to the infinite list of potential projects.

Made the shirt. The skirt was converted from a dress (chopped off the top, added elastic waistband). #memademay15 #mmmay15
Day 21 – Same shirt pattern as Day 14, which makes for an interesting comparison. The bra I’m wearing in THIS photo is the one I drafted it with, and it looks much more natural with this than the other (also, I ironed this shirt). Thanks, Me Made May, for helping me realize that I should be pairing these things better! (Also, wow, a good reason to think about the undergarments you’re wearing when making pattern adjustments.) This skirt is an old maxi dress that I converted into a skirt – chopped off the top and added an elastic waistband.

Week Three Summary Hey! One more week! I did some frantic sewing over the weekend, partially because I’ll be in the woods for a big chunk of the next week-plus, and it’s not wise to hike in short cotton dresses. (I mean, I could have made it work, but I prefer to NOT look like a crazy person, if I have the option.) So my life, and wardrobe, has been supplemented with the softest, most delightful bamboo jersey shirts. I haven’t even worn them yet, but I’m already itching to buy some more fabric.

Inspirations (garments I want to make):
-another snow day dress
-another elastic waist dress
(Both of these will be dependent on finding the right fabric, so I’ll be sure to write down yardage and shop with some intention while on vacation.)
-a new, better-fitting version of Burda 7798 -perhaps a two-tone knit dress?

Any other thoughts?
Hmmm…I had to write out the rest of the days of the month and compare it to what was still unworn. I’ll make it through the month without repeats. Of course, after I realized that, I wondered whether that should have been my goal – to make enough things to wear a different one each day. (It wasn’t my stated goal, but it must have been a motivating factor.) Really, the most useful part of MMMay is that it helps me to evaluate my wardrobe and think about what pieces are most loved and most worn, and to plan my sewing projects in a way that continues to move in that direction.

Days 8-14 of Me Made May

Let’s look at some photos!

This skirt. #memademay15 #mmmay15

Day 8 – Self-drafted knit skirt. After making the Nettie, I realize that this could handle more negative ease. But it’s super-comfortable as is.

At the beach for a few days. Wore this Plantain Tee for driving down and the first of many long walks on the beach. #memademay15 #mmmay15

Day 9 – Dark purple plantain tee. This was my first, made in a bamboo knit, I believe. It’s so delightful. Wore it to drive to the beach.

When I wasn't wearing a bathing suit, I put on this Nettie tank top in a crazy textured knit. #memademay15 #mmmay15

Day 10 – Beach living continues. Confession: I have meant to make a bathing suit for the last year. I have some fabrics and some lining, and even have a pattern (plus an old suit that was ripped apart for research), but it still hasn’t happened. So on a day when I was mostly on the beach, this tank top (a modified Nettie, made last week) was what I wore when taking breaks from the sun.

What I wore yesterday for a rainy morning at the beach, for driving the empty roads, and for lounging with @rebeccadesigns in Raleigh. #memademay15 #mmmay15

Day 11 – Rainy day at the beach. Then driving all afternoon. This is my favorite Lady Skater – the heather brown is a lovely neutral, and this fabric feels like terrycloth inside. Forgot to take a photo of myself wearing it, but here’s one for reference.

#memademay15 #mmmay15

Day 12 – A knit version of my favorite woven dress pattern, this is a bit too loose in the bodice (perhaps a theme with self-drafting with stretch fabrics is lack of negative ease) but it’s still a summer staple.

Since I didn't change out of pajamas today, and none of those are made by me, here's something else: two journals decorated. One is practically full, but was left blank for way too long. The other is on deck for summer and beyond.

Day 13 – I never changed out of my pajamas, and though I have patterns for some simple pajama shorts, and a promise/threat to myself that I cannot replace my current pajamas with anything store bought, it hasn’t happened yet. So I didn’t wear anything handmade. But I DID decorate two journals, which counts for something. (Right?)

WRINKLES! (I still wear this shirt, and it's blue twin, all the time.) #memademay15 #mmmay15

Day 14 – Yes, I probably SHOULD re-make this shirt in something less wrinkly. I’ll add that to my list, but will probably keep wearing this until that happens.

Second Week Summary

Halfway-ish, and I’m feeling the pros and cons of this endeavor.

Cons: selfie fatigue has set in, which isn’t as rough as is was last year since I’m not aiming for a standard pose each day. Vacations definitely throw off the rhythm, but I love vacations so I’m not REALLY going to complain about it.

Pros: Lots of sewing motivation! Fun conversations with a lot of real world friends about the project. Continued assessment of my wardrobe, figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

Garments made this week: none (yet) but I have purchased some jersey fabrics and they will be turning into tank tops and t-shirts this weekend so I have things to wear in the woods!