Meg Made May 2015 - Week 2

Friday - Swing Jacket, Ruffle Top, Ginger Jeans
Saturday & Sunday - Bathing Suit, handmade tops for friends, not much else
Monday - Hawaiian Dress
Tuesday - daVinci Blouse, Camel Pants
Wednesday - Blush Top, Black Ginger Jeans
Thursday - Scout Tee, Grey Gingers
Friday - Pleather Sleeve Tee, Black Ginger Jeans

This week, I challenged myself a bit on the Me-Made front by going on a warm-weather vacation, a climate I do NOT usually sew for. Luckily, my new bathing suit held me over most of the time, and the one time we did need to make a public appearance I had a few handmade knit dresses to choose from. Other than that, honestly, there wasn't much need for clothes.

On Tuesday, I dragged myself back into the work week with the usual uniform of boxy tops and skinny jeans. It was most definitely a rough transition back into the working world (and the fog!) but comfy clothes most certainly helped. On Friday I allowed myself to wear a pleather-sleeved top because I was going out to a show that night, and made it work-friendly by pairing it with a cropped trench coat during the day. Hopefully I can post about that top soon.

At this point, the only thing I am really missing right now are my button-up shirts. My collection is mostly ready-to-wear, coming from a mix of store-bought and second hand. I wear them often, but unfortunately none of them quite fit right. I plan to remedy this eventually with a Granville pattern and some cotton fabrics I have stockpiled for the purpose, but until then I keep hanging on to my old RTW ones. There's a few more projects I have to get to first (sewing for a wedding! finishing a jacket!) but I can't wait to have my own me-made shirts.

While I think I have enough clothes and ideas to get through the month, wearing Me-Made outfits is definitely proving to be a bit of a challenge!

Bathing Suit Success!

Pattern: BurdaStyle's Bandeau Top + McCall's Bathing Suit M5861
Fabric: 1 yd lycra swimwear
Cost: $10

This past weekend I flew down to Palm Springs for our annual girls getaway. For the price of a hotel room in a major city, we booked a cute little house, bought enough food and alcohol to never have to leave, and holed up by the backyard pool at Rancho Relaxo for four days. We ate well, laughed our asses off, and always had a drink in hand. It was heaven!

If I sound particularly pleased with myself, it's because I also think I finally mastered the perfect bikini. After attempting to make my own bathing suits for about five years now, this is the first one I would say actually stands up to my ready-to-wear ones.

The key to bathing suit perfection? Cups. Without them, my bathing suits have been flimsy, don't stay in place, and then with tightening always end up too tight. For this one, I had some bathing suit cups on hand from a Bra Maker's Supply order, and once I slipped them between the shell and the lining all my problems were solved: the bathing suit held its shape, stayed in place, and looked great. Who knew? Probably everybody except me...

The top pattern itself is adapted from BurdaStyle's Bandeau Top, a vintage-style pattern that I modified for knits. I love the twisty look, which gives it a much more professional, interesting touch. I do have to say though that the directions were horrendous. After trying in vein to follow them, I struck out on my own. I think the main modification I made was that you cannot simply sew the whole lining to the whole front of the cups and then turn right side out, as the instructions imply. Instead you need to turn turn one cup inside out, sew, flip right side out, and then repeat with the other side. I then inserted the foam cups between the lining and shell, added a back strap and halter strap, and I was good to go. It took some experimentation, but all in all wasn't actually too difficult.

The bottoms were a mod from my trusty McCall's Bathing Suit M5861. I find that I actually like them to sit a bit lower and with the back a bit more scooped, so I muslined them a few times with leftover fabric from this failure until I got it right. Unfortunately I think the elastic could be a tad bit looser, but at least I know they should stay on in the surf!

As for the fabric, it has two different types of stripes on it, which I tried to play off of in the design. It's a bit more playful than just a navy/white striped bikini. While I used to have trouble finding bathing suit fabrics, my local stores now carry a ton, so me thinks this won't be the last bathing suit of the summer.

I'm back to the San Francisco fog for now, but it's just as well as I wouldn't survive in Palm Springs more than five minutes out of the pool. 

Meg Made May 2015 - Week 1

When I first heard of Me Made May in 2010 or 2011, I thought you had to wear entirely handmade outfits. I was completely intimidated and didn't participate until 2012 when I realized you could set your own challenge. Since then, I have been happily participating each May, wearing at least one handmade garment for the entire month.

Last year, however, a funny thing happened - after May ended I didn't stop. For the past year, most of my outfits have consisted of at least one handmade item and I finally felt myself tipping the scales towards a handmade wardrobe. A huge contributor to this was my steady interest in making pants. With the completion of my final two pairs of Ginger Jeans earlier this year, I started wearing almost entirely my own pants and haven't looked back since. Combine that with some handmade tops and I am finally ready to participate in Me Made May as I first imagined it: with full-on handmade outfits.
So, this year for Me Made May, I, Meg, endeavor to wear a handmade outfit consisting of at least two handmade separates (or the occasional dress) for the entirety of May.

What I like about Me Made May is the ability for everyone to choose their own sewing goals. Often I don't participate in certain challenges because the rules are too constricting or they don't fit in with my sewing plans. I find my hobby and wardrobe to be a very personal thing, and while some people choose to make the occasional beautiful party dress or spend months on the most intricate of jackets, others are completely obsessed with fashioning everyday basics for themselves. The fact that I tend more towards the latter is much more of a personal preference than a universal ideal. I hope you find it inspiring or relatable rather than intimidating, unrealistic, or boring!

In fact, many of you may recall that I recently had to give myself permission to buy a few clothes when I needed them. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the pressure I was putting on myself, and had to cut myself some slack. Accordingly, I did go out and buy some graphic tees and added a few new bras to my lingerie drawer. In general, however, I have found that I have not needed to buy too many things. Five years of steady sewing and learning have turned out quite a few gems that I enjoy wearing and that fit me well. It has also allowed me to find more things that fit my core style, and more and more garments are sticking around. These are the things I hope to showcase here over the coming month, and to showcase for myself how much joy and fulfillment this hobby has brought to my life.

With that said, here is my first week of outfits for MMM:

Friday - Bonnie Top & Peggy Pocket Skirt (a Bluegingerdoll Outfit!)
Saturday - Swing Jacket, blouse from Mexico, Ginger Jeans
Sunday - Swing Jacket, Ruffle TopGinger Jeans
Monday - Striped Top, Grey Ginger Jeans
Tuesday - First SweaterChambray ArcherGinger Jeans
Wednesday - Bonnie TopCamel Pants
Thursday - Ponte Blazer, data nerd shirt, Ginger Jeans

One thing you'll notice is that there are definitely some repeats in there. This is real life. On the weekends I generally loaf around in the same clothes, and I love my Gingers so much I pretty much wear them as much as I can when I know people won't notice. The other thing that stands out to me is the color palette. Clearly I am drawn to more neutrals, with lots of stripes, pops of denim and little bits of color. Hmm perhaps I have too much of a uniform lol.

That's it for now, next up is testing my Me Made vacation clothes.

Oh, and if you're drinking along with GOMI then drink four!

Blush Top

Pattern: BurdaStyle's Printed Blouse 08/2012 #109
Fabric: ponte from remnant pile at Stone Mountain
Cost: $15

I've been working away on some bigger project and gifts, but to me there is nothing more satisfying and fun than popping out a quick t-shirt. It reminds me of how I learned to sew - with fast, easy projects that I tackled with reckless abandon. 

This is another version of BurdaStyle's Printed Blouse 08/2012 #109, a woven top pattern that has become a TNT. I used it here on a knit because I like the idea of the French darts giving that extra shaping, and with a facing it actually makes the top quite nice for work or even (ever so slightly) dressier occasions. OK, yes, I realize that I live in the Bay Area, land of tech hoodies and yoga pants and the only place where you can get away with calling a t-shirt fancy.  

Despite using a ponte, however, I feel like this pattern needs something with a bit less drape to really hold its shape. When I slouch it still looks quite wrinkly. I also eliminated the darts in the back and now, reviewing the photos, I realize that that was probably a mistake. The back neckline is also a bit stretched out. I'm not sure how that happened, but something to do with sewing with reckless abandon. Finally, I keep thinking that it is a good idea to try machine-stitched blind hems on knits, but so far the results have been lackluster (and very visible) each time.

Nevertheless, this shirt has already seen a ton of wear, it was fun and quick to make, and I love the chance to do a little bit of experimentation. I'm also quite pleased with the position of that dart!

I'm off to Palm Springs in a day or so for our annual girls' trip. I don't have much warm weather me-made clothes for Me-Made-May, so that should make things interesting. I did make a bathing suit though, and this one might actually be wearable!

Until next time!

Dog Dress

Pattern:  self-drafted
Fabric: remnant ponte
Cost: free (scraps)

Do I have more serious/useful/important things to sew? Yes. But sometimes you're tired, your house is under construction, and you just need something light. Something fun. Something that results in your dog wearing a dress. Yeah...

This dress is mostly just a series of almost-rectangles sewn, gathered, and buttoned together. The body is a trapezoid sewn into a tube to accommodate her proportions, and the skirt is the same shape but I had accidentally made it too small to be the body, so it became the gathered skirt. I told you I was tired!

The most tricky thing about making a dog dress was actually how to handle the under side of the skirt, or the part which runs along her belly. Since dogs stand horizontally, I knew a skirt would hang funny there (and could possibly get peed on), so you'll notice that this skirt is more of a butt ruffle as I eliminated the belly portion entirely. This seems to be a fairly common treatment for a dog dress (some inspiration here). 

I cut the straps to measure, which was a bit of a challenge on a very sleepy puppy (she usually puts herself to bed around 8, and evenings are prime sewing time for me). As a result, the length was fine but the functionality was lacking - you can see in the picture above that they tend to slip off her shoulders. To remedy this, I later attached a cross strap between the two straps at her chest, much like the H-strap on lederhosen. This seems to have resolved the issue.

If you came here for a dose of cuteness, I hope you got your fill. For serious sewing, I hope to be back soon!

P.S. Looks like she got her little self featured on Kollabora's Weekly 6