Lessons learned from Me Made May, part 1 (and a new top)

We’re about a third of the way through Me-Made May now, so I thought it would be a good place to recap what I’ve been thinking so far, share what I’ve been wearing, and show off my most recent finished project! Let’s start with the latter, shall we?

Stasia 1 This is the Stasia tee from Sew Liberated. I had it on my Make Nine list for this year, and one of the things I really loved about this pattern as soon as it was released was that it had options for both a tee and a dress. I’m sure that the dress will get made at some point– I have an ITY that’s perfect for the shorter version, and the maxi version has been calling my name since I first laid eyes on it. But since I’m really trying to build up my TNT stash, and the top was the perfect way to test the fit, I figured I’d start there.

Stasia 2 The color is pretty plain vanilla, but one thing I’ve been trying to add to my closet for awhile is a cream tee to go with some of my crazier print skirts, like the Gabriola I’m wearing it with here. This fabric was an unplanned recent purchase at Joann’s. But I loved that it has this faux cable texture, which kept it from feeling too boring in my head, and it was actually thick enough that you can’t see undergarments through it. That is so hard to find in cream. The fabric was easy to work with, coverstitched like a dream, and I was efficient enough with my layout that I have a substantial chunk left. I’m thinking I may have to hack together a hoodie out of remnants at some point, because wouldn’t this make a lovely hood?

Stasia back The tee pattern was really great to work with, too. I finished this in two sessions– one for cutting, and one for sewing in its entirety, so this is a great palate-cleanser sew. I made it as is out of the envelope, aside from I graded up one size between my waist and hips (yeah, I think I’m a little more pear-shaped than I used to be, thanks kids), which I think worked out well for me. The pooling isn’t quite as bad in the back as it looks here, I was kind of twisting for this stance. I like the little scoop in the back. I also think it can easily stand in with my beloved Renfrew and Plantain patterns as a basic, hackable tee without feeling redundant. Also, it can be made as a tank, and I really don’t have a good knit tank pattern, so this tee gives me high hopes for this! I would very much recommend the pattern, and don’t be surprised if you see it popping up again before long. (If nothing else, I have plans and fabric to use it to make a top for some much-needed summer pjs.)

Now, onto Me-Made May…

Days 1-9 collage

Here’s what I’ve been wearing so far, for days 1-9. (Note: I skipped last Saturday, since we were doing yardwork for a big chunk of the day, but I did have two outfits for Sunday.)

Row 1: My Jalie Vanessa pants, a hem-hacked Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee and a thrifted cardigan // a hoodie-hacked Renfrew with thrifted jeans // a maxi-fied Cake Tiramisu dress

Row 2: My new True Bias Lander shorts (not yet blogged, but hopefully will be soon) and a RTW graphic tee // The Stasia tee from above with my Sewaholic Gabriola skirt, and then switched to a slightly refashioned thrifted jacket with some jeans that I recently did some invisible mending on. (Yes, I’m totally counting those as me-made at this point.)

Row 3: One of my Deer & Doe Bruyere shirts, sleeves rolled up, with RTW jeans // My Seamwork Mesa with Cake Espresso leggings // an old Simplicity 2883 hack with the me-mended jeans

And here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. I still have a lot more handmade garments than I thought. I counted up my entire me – made wardrobe, not counting maternity clothes, outerwear coats, or things in my refashion bin, just before May. At the time, I had around 70 different pieces. (This was including long sleeves, so I wasn’t necessarily planning to wear everything over the course of the month.) It’s just that after multiple necessary closet purges over the last couple of years, a lot of what I have are at least semi-orphans.

2. The surprising hole in my wardrobe. What honestly surprised me was how hard it was to find things to wear on the more temperate days when I had to dress in what passes for work-appropriate for me! The hot days were easy, I could just bust out a maxi dress and be done with it. But I seem to be oddly lacking in short-sleeved separates. It doesn’t help that I only have four pairs of pants that fit and can be considered work-appropriate in my closet right now– my tencel denim Jalie pants, and 3 pairs of Old Navy jeans in grey, mustard, and teal. Somehow, the only top I have that goes with both the mustard and the teal is the plain cream Stasia tee that I just made. Which leads me to ask, how do I not have short sleeved stuff that goes with teal?! I mean, that’s basically a neutral for me!

3. The not surprising hole in my wardrobe. I knew going into this that casual at-home days were going to be a struggle to find something I made to wear, which is a big part of the reason why I signed up for 4 days a week. I do have a vague plan to sew some more casual tops and pants at some point, though I don’t necessarily have patterns in mind yet, nor do I feel a need to go 100% on my me-mades. I’ll be honest, the one thing in RTW that I’d probably have the most trouble letting go of is geeky graphic tees. I do love wearing my fandoms on my sleeve, so to speak. But the other thing is that the boys are getting to an age where dirt and art supplies are going to be a more daily part of life, and I do need some things that are either super-easy to get stains out of, or that I don’t care if I mess up.

4. I need to stop making 3/4 sleeved tops and start making more layering pieces. Seriously, they’re virtually useless in this climate. Mid-Atlantic seasons tend to bounce between winter straight to summer, with occasional weeks of spring and maybe about 4 weeks of autumn. I’m ok with the Bruyere, since it’s really long sleeved and I could just roll the sleeves up, and the cardigan because I can just take that off when it’s warmer, but the Simplicity top was feeling a little too warm by the afternoon.

5. Thoughts on more specific garments:

  • The Kirsten Kimono tee isn’t the best-fitting thing I have, since it’s pretty tight around the hips. It fits very well in the top, so now that I have the Stasia tee to fill the cream shirt hole, I’m strongly considering hacking it off below the armholes and refashioning it somehow.
  • I found myself wondering the entire day if the gold hoodie tee was too plain. It was originally made as part of a Minion costume, but I don’t see myself doing that costume again anytime soon. I actually did get some compliments on it while wearing it out of the house, but I’m still wondering if it needs some printing up with an applique or some block printing or something?
  • It’s super high waisted now, but I’m glad this Gabriola still fits. I was actually going to originally wear a different skirt that day, but I couldn’t even zip that one up. I’d still like to make the pattern again sometime, but I think I’ll need to size up.
  • This may be the last hurrah for the Simplicity top. While there are still things I like about it, mostly the silhouette and the cut of the sleeves, the waist tie is kind of uncomfortable now. (It keeps rolling up and pulling further into my chest, which may be a problem solved when I actually have non-nursing bras with underwires again, but I don’t have that right now.) Also, I’m feeling pretty meh about the background color of the print, and blue jeans are the only thing I have in my closet that this actually goes with, since it doesn’t really fit the palette I’m going for overall. I’m not necessarily saying I want to go full out capsule wardrobe, but I’d like a little more versatility than that.

So, to sum up, the number one thing on my sewing wishlist from this first third of the month is short-sleeved knit tops in prints that go with mustard and/or teal. I wonder if I even have anything like that in my stash!

in which I make a bunch of kid stuff

Once again, I’ve fallen behind on the blogging! So I figured I’d knock out two projects at once. Really four projects, because I made one of each of them for both of my boys, but still.

IMG_6145The first project was the main gift in each of their Easter baskets this year. The “Kid City” play mat pattern from Peekaboo Patterns came out near the end of last year, and I just could not resist. Here, you can see them tucked into their Easter baskets (my mom made them the baskets, I wanted some small ones that we could reuse every year), along with a book each and an age-appropriate snack.

So what do they look like?

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Hobbit has had an increasing obsession with all things dinosaur since he was 18 months old. So of course I had to make him a dinosaur house. The inside has a batik print fabric that I thought had a prehistoric lava filled cave look to it, and I painted the fold out part with plants and a lake so his dinosaurs can drink.

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The outside is painted with shrubs and palm trees and a volcano to make a little prehistoric world.

IMG_6442It’s a little early to tell what Padawan is into, but he seems to be gravitating towards cars and trucks. So I made him a construction site house. This is what the outside looks like…

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…and I modeled the inside after the artwork in “Good Night Good Night Construction Site”, which has been a favorite book.

If I was making them again, I think I’d add a little batting over the plastic canvas to have the fabric sit over it better. It was listed on the instructions as optional, but it probably shouldn’t be. I also had to hand stitch a lot more than it called for, because there were so many different colors involved that I didn’t want obvious misses on the “stitch in the ditch” directions to close up the canvas inside. Aside from that, and just the time it took to paint, it really wasn’t hard to put together, and I could see myself using this pattern again sometime, if circumstances call for it. (Future hobbit house, maybe?) This was also a really good scrapbuster! Everything except the construction truck fabric and the red fabric for the roof of that house was already in my stash. The checked fabric for the night sky was left over from the lining of a bag I made ages ago, probably back in college. The cloud fabric was left over from my flamingo wrap skirt. The batik was some random scrap from my mom, the solid green was from the baby play gym, and I forget where the brown was from, but it was there. I didn’t entirely use up any piece of fabric, but every little bit helps.

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The other thing I made for them recently was their shirts!  This is the Ringer tee from Brindille & Twig, which is a free pattern! I got the dog print a couple of Christmasses ago, specifically to make boy clothes, and figured I should use it before the boys outgrew the single yard I had. I needn’t have worried, since I was easily able to get two entire shirts out, and still have about a third of a yard left! Here’s Hobbit being a very good model. It was really gratifying that when they woke up from the naptime that I finished sewing these during, and I told him I’d finished up his new doggie shirt, he insisted that he and his brother should wear them right away! I made him the size 3-4, since he’s currently wearing 3T in RTW.

IMG_6433 This is about the best shot I could get of my less cooperative model. He’s walking now, and will not stay still, so every single picture I took of him blurred in some way. This was one of the best ones. Anyway, Padawan is on the small side for his age, and is still pretty firmly in 9-12 month clothes, despite being close to 13 months old now. But I made him the 18 month size so he could at least wear it through the summer. It definitely has room to grow, but isn’t ridiculously huge on him.

It was a really easy pattern to sew, especially since I could construct it entirely on my serger. I did do a little bit of hand basting just to get the intersection of the side and sleeve seams to line up correctly, because it always seems to shift on my serger no matter how much I pin. That worked out well, so I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and do that on my knit projects from now on. The only issue I had was that I accidentally sewed the neck ribbing on Padawan’s shirt backwards, so that the seam is in the front, but I don’t think I’ll bother to fix it since he doesn’t seem bothered by it. The pattern goes up to size 6T, so I’ll very likely use it again. It’s a bit of a looser cut than the Ottobre pattern that I tried out, which I think they’ll probably like better. Their daddy likes his shirts oversized, and they seem to like things a little looser too. And I liked that I didn’t have to fiddle with coverstitching such a tiny sleeve opening on Padawan’s shirt in particular! I do have some of the black ribbing left over, and another yard of boy-friendly print fabric that would coordinate, so maybe I’ll tackle that one next year or something.

This probably won’t be the last of my sewing for the boys this year. I have an adorable coat pattern that I’m itching to sew up for each of them, before they get old enough to be self conscious about wearing animal coats. And Hobbit keeps asking me to make him a Tyrannosaurus Rex costume. Guess I know what I’m doing for Halloween this year…