Me-Made-May '14: Round-up

We made it to the end!  Happy June!

Day 31 (Poor day 31, all by itself :-P) - "Lilly Alligator" dress - for a day out with Brandon - I saved this one for the end for two reasons: 1. I was terrified it wasn't going to fit!  My post-surgery diet hasn't been as healthy as I like since chewing is harder now and high-maintenance. Luckily, it's been getting better so, my dress turned out not to be a problem :) 2.  I wanted to end the month on a high note.  I love this dress!  This was the four version of this pattern so the fit is pretty good.  I love the lace and the high-quality (Lilly!) fabric. The print is almost ridiculous (alligators and mini-flowers!) but, so cute and the colors are similar enough that, in my opinion anyway, it isn't loud.  Oh, and it's turquoise. Need I say more?  So, yeah, I still love this dress!

Dress: McCalls 4440, Purse: Coach (vintage), Shoes: Clarks

Final Thoughts:

I'm particularly grateful for Me-Made-May this year.  Not only did I get to test my wardrobe ideas and be inspired by lots of new sewcialists, but, it also kept me blogging.  I've been very self-conscious since my jaw surgery so, I haven't been up for taking my normal photos for all my new makes.  One photo at a side angle was boring but, a lot easier.  It's getting better now though so, hopefully I can resume my regularly scheduled blogging soon :)

This year, I pledged 5 items per week.  Save for one day where a migraine got in the way, I succeeded!  :-D

What did I learn?
  • I'm on the right track!  I'm learning what styles/colors/fabrics I prefer and I'm choosing those over things I may like but, won't wear.  All of my recent makes have been successes! (Not all perfect, mind you but, successes.) 
  • I really do prefer separates.  I like my dresses.  I do.  And, I want to make more.  But, on a day-to-day basis, I like to keep things a little more casual.  Separates also mean I can wear prints without them wearing me (it's a personal preference but, I tend to feel overwhelmed by allover prints).  Going forward, I need to add shorts and simple tops (mostly woven) to my queue, as well as continuing to replicate my already loved pieces (semi-circles forever!)
  • I still haven't learned how to accessorize.  Reading previous round-ups, this was something I've been trying to work on but, I'm easily intimidated by larger pieces.  Meh, I think I'm good with my simple jewelry.
What will I do next year?
  • Expand on this year's successes.  Next year, I hope to be able to up my challenge to a me-made item every day!  Now that I know I'm on the right track with all of my new makes, I think I'll get there.  There will be a lot of woven separates in my future, as well as some more knits, particularly t-shirts and yoga-wear.  Eventually, the goal will be to wear 100% me-made.
  • Choose a comfortable, consistent method for documenting.  I previous years, I've been disappointed that I allow MMMay photos to be "lazier".  Honestly, I think it's better that way.  I would like to find a uniform way to do it though.  Perhaps Instagram?  I saw a lot of fellow me-made-Mayers using that application for their daily shots and I liked it.  It's quick, easy, and consistent.  Now that I'm nailing my style down a bit more too, I think less text would ok too.  I just have to learn how to take a proper selfie :-P
  • Add Brandon to the mix.  I've hoped to do this before but, my sewjo comes and goes and life gets in the way.  Hopefully, I'll have a chance to make him a few things this year so he can participate too.
So, that's another Me-Made-May done.  I had fun, as always, and am even more inspired to keep creating! 


Me-Made-May '14: Week 5

Nearly there!

Day 24 - n/a - I wore a semi-boxy t-shirt from J.Crew that I love.  So much so that I traced it a couple of years ago.  I finally made one this week!  see below.  Oh, and rtw shorts, cause obviously a girl's gotta wear more than a t-shirt ;-P

Day 25 - n/a - This was the dirtiest of the home improvement days this month so, I wore a (free) souvenir t-shirt and shorts.  I don't dare mess up my me-mades :-)  Maybe when I have plenty more to choose from?

Day 26 - Navy Ikat linen skirt - One more time! For a Memorial day cookout at a neighbor's house.  Ok, this day cinched it.  No one else showed up to the party wearing a skirt and yet, I still felt perfectly comfortable in it.  I think the fabric and the print make it casual enough to not stand out.  Normally, I get "Aww, you didn't have to get dressed up." but, not this time.  And, the linen was downright heavenly in the humid, raining off-and-on, summer heat.  Grade: A

Shirt: Brooks Brothers, Skirt: self-drafted, Shoes: Hush Puppies, Jewelry: Lilly Pulitzer & J.Crew, Umbrella: Totes

Day 27 - Self-Drafted Lavender Linen Skirt - Another day, another repeat.  For running errands and whatnot.  Not much new to say about this one.  I really wanted to wear it when I woke, which is always a good sign.  It's a bit tricky to pair though.  I Googled and, apparently, the trendy option would have been mint.  Having a mint silk blouse, I considered it but, I think it's a bit too "omgfashun" for me to pull off and would have just looked way too sugary sweet.  So, I went with blue. Blue's always good (I hope).  I felt good in it at least :)  Grade: A-

Brandon was away on business again but, I remembered the timer on our camera, trying to spare you the cell phone selfies :)
Shirt: Brooks Brothers, Skirt: self-drafted, Shoes: Dolce Vita, Bracelet: Lilly Pulitzer

Day 28 - Self-drafted (traced) "Daphne" T-shirt - This is my first attempt at finally remaking my aforementioned beloved J.Crew t-shirt.  I can't find a lightweight stable knit like they used so, mine came out drapier and less boxy but, I do still love it.  Oh, and more blue-green (turquoise, jade, teal, I love it all)!  I plan to make more of these and write up a proper post eventually but, my overall thoughts are very good.  I'm still a knits-newbie but, I finished it the closest to the original way as I good (I even used a twin needle!!) and I'm really pleased.  It filled a me-made gap and it's going to be a regular wear :)  I do think the outfit overall is a little boring though.  Grade: B+

T-shirt: self-drafted, Shorts: AE, Bracelet: Target, Shoes: Dolce Vita

Day 29 - Maria Denmark Kimono t-shirt  - more home improvement - Ok, so I said I never wear me-mades for construction but, I attempted this pattern a few years ago when I knew absolutely nothing about knits and the quality is less than I like.  I like it, I just don't like to wear it out of the house.  Now that I'm a bit more knit-educated, I really should try this pattern again - it's cute, comfy, and on-trend.  No grade.

Day 30 - Maria Denmark Kimono t-shirt - ditto - and ditto.

Only 1 day to go! (Ok, technically that was yesterday... post coming tomorrow with my end-of-challenge thoughts :)

Previous posts:
Me-Made-May '14: My Pledge
Me-Made-May '14: Week 1
Me-Made-May '14: Week 2
Me-Made-May '14: Week 3
Me-Made-May '14: Week 4

Me-Made-May '14: Week 4

Let's pretend I didn't post this four days late and just jump in, shall we?

Day 17 - n/a  - A sudden chill came through and I didn't feel I had any appropriate tops... must work on that. I wore jeans, a Liberty lawn button-front, and a lightweight cardigan. The cardigan isn't something I feel I can make myself (It's lace-weight but solidly knit...it would take me decades) but, the shirt is, so I plan to add a few to the queue.

Day 18 - n/a - We're doing a lot of improvements to the house and I didn't bother putting on any "nice" clothes.

Day 19 - not-yet-blogged turquoise top - to babysit our neighbor's son (which turned out to mean 'sit by the pool for two hours, reading a book and check on the napping baby at regular intervals - easy peesy) - Right, so, we're getting a little more real here this year.  Not seeing many fancy dresses, are we?  While I've basically boycotted jeans since college, this year, I've embraced the "casual norm" a bit more. Enter this simple but glorious rayon top. Oh how I love rayon. And turquoise. And rayon... you get the idea ;-) While I don't think this is "my best look", I know this top will get regular wear.  Despite the unexpected lounging in the sun, this top stayed cool and comfortable.  Grade: B+?

Top: Simplicity 1690, Jeans: Gap, Shoes: Hush Puppies
Brandon pointed out the wrinkles and I said "It's Me-Made-May. It's about keeping it real!" :-P

Day 20 - Gah! The day that killed the month! (I've now officially failed my challenge of five days per week.)  I had a migraine for a large portion of the day and, admittedly, stayed in [rtw] pjs all day. :-(

Day 21 - Three Seasons shirtdress - for, you know, daily activities and some home diy.  Sorry, didn't get a photo.  I think this is the year that has finally done this dress in.  Ugh, I felt awful in it.  It was made pre-serger, which would have been fine if I'd used French seams or something but, nope.  I used my old machine's faux-overlock, which is still allowing the edges to fray a bit.  Also, the fit is off just enough to be annoying.  Is it noticeable to the general person?  Probably not. But, it doesn't feel right.  It's time to look at this one as a learning process and start again.  I'll likely use the pattern again but, I think the view with the waist seam will make it feel a bit more me.  I'm thinking navy linen... and maybe another blue shirting. Pinpoint perhaps?  Grade: D

Day 22 - not-yet-blogged 60s Floral Skirt - Errands and dinner out with Brandon - I really like this skirt.  That said, I'm having a bit of trouble deciding what to pair it with.  It's harder than I thought to avoid 'matchy-matchy' and/or 'sugary sweet'.  I think this rtw wear top is teetering on both but, I was in a rush.  The outift was seriously comfortable, I just felt a hair too "cutesy" while everyone else seemed to be bustling about in their modern colors and hi-lo hems.  Grade: B+

Oh hey, look! You do get to sneak a peak at this skirt :-)
Top: Banana Republic, Skirt: Self-Drafted, Shoes: Dolce Vita via TJ Maxx

Day 23 - "Dock of the Bay" dress - so. much. shopping. - Sorry. No picture for this one either.  I was way too worn out by the time we got home to pose for a shot, particularly in unflattering indoor lighting.  Another iffy selection.  I had to force myself to pull it out of the closet.  If it weren't for MMMay, I wouldn't have.  I really like it in theory but, 1. it's overfitted.  It's a casual sundress but, fits like something more um, attention-seeking? 2.  it's too small in the bust.  I was totally winging my pattern alterations and didn't add enough room there (seriously, I'm not a full girl - who is this pattern designed for?).  Also, the embroidered fabric apparently has zero give so, yeah, there's a lot of smooshing happening and the sports-bra look is not a flattering one.  If I can ever stop getting distracted by shiny new fabric and patterns, I'll redo the bodice and maybe let the side seams out a touch.  Then, I think she'll be a winner.  Grade: C+ (for now)

Previous posts:
Me-Made-May '14: My Pledge
Me-Made-May '14: Week 1
Me-Made-May '14: Week 2
Me-Made-May '14: Week 3

Me-Made-May '14: Week 3

Day 10 - "Here Comes the Sun" skirt - for an indulgent breakfast and the drive home from New Orleans. Now that the pockets are sewn shut on this skirt, I think it lay much nicer.  It's still a very full skirt though so, I have to be in the right mood to wear it.  Brandon has suggested I add a bit of trim to break up the line between the yellow and the white to make it look more "rtw"... I'm thinking a small lace?  Grade: B

Sorry! Photos on this blog are dropping to a new low... my phone takes horrible photos and I know nothing of "selfies".
Top: J.Crew, Skirt: Butterick 5285, Shoes (the usual): Hush Puppies

Day 11 - n/a

Day 12 - Seersucker shirt - Errands and such.  I think it's time for this one to go.  I didn't know anything about fitting when I made it and so, I don't really have room to move.  I was pulling on it all afternoon.  Also, the fabric quality isn't so good - the dye bled and it's a little scratchy even though it's 100% cotton.  Grade: C-

Shirt:  Simplicity 2339, Skirt: Vineyard Vines, Shoes: Hush Puppies
Day 13 - n/a

Day 14 - not-yet-blogged turquoise top (and a me-made hair tie :P) - for daily activities - This one was hot off the machine and I love it already.  Rayon challis is definitely a fabric I need more of in my closet.  It's so smooth, cool and breathable.  And yes, I'm totally stuck on all variations of turquoise.

Top:  Simplicity 1690, Shorts: AE, Hairtie: me-made from fold-over elastic, Necklace: Target

Day 15 - not-yet-blogged Lavender Half-circle Skirt - for an orthodontic appointment (Yep! The braces are on! ...though, I won't be flashing them until they close the SARPE-gap a bit.) - When I bought this fabric, I posted it with two others stating that I'd apparently decided I needed more purple in my wardrobe. I totally did! I love this color!  It's a little sweet but, I kept the shape simple and wore it with neutrals, and hey, pastels are in right now anyway, right?  Oh, and clearly my love for unlined, breezy linen skirts continues.  Ignoring linen's tendency to wrinkle, this is practically a perfect skirt in my book.  Grade: A

Oh look, Brandon's back and so are better pictures!
Shirt: J.Crew, Skirt: Self-drafted, Shoes: Hush Puppies

Day 16 - not-yet-blogged Navy Ikat Linen Skirt - for a day out with Brandon - Yep, this rtw shirt and this skirt again... I love them both!  I'm not sure if my addiction to this top means I need more navy tops, more short-sleeve tops, or both.  I'm really surprised how much I love this skirt - I wouldn't have guessed that this print would be "me" but, as soon as it was out of the wash, I wanted to wear it again.  Now that's the kind of me-made item I need more of! (I think this outfit would benefit from bright pink shoes/accessories though.) Grade: A+

Top: J.Crew, Skirt: Self-drafted, Shoes: Aerosoles

Previous posts:
Me-Made-May '14: My Pledge
Me-Made-May '14: Week 1
Me-Made-May '14: Week 2

Me-Made-May '14: Week 2

My week 2 round-up is a little belated, but, the good news is, I stuck to my goal of five outfits.  In fact, I went out-of-town and wore a me-made item every day I was gone!

Day 3 - Unblogged Brigitte "Teacup" Scarf - to cover my sun-burnt part and glam up a trip to the hardware store :-P.  I don't consider this part of my "five" but, I enjoyed adding a small touch of me-made to a rtw outfit.  I like having a new way to wear this fabric (since styling its sister Sorbetto is a work-in-progress) and I like the little retro polish it adds to an otherwise very casual, modern look.  The rtw pieces remind me how much I love silk/cotton (the top - bonus: I actually own this fabric! I really should make something with it) and that I really should make all of the shorts on my list. I prefer my inseam to be longer than this and it always makes me a little self-conscious.

Head scarf: Brigitte Scarf, Top: J.Crew, Shorts: AE, Belt: Brooks Brothers, Shoes: Hush Puppies
Day 4 - n/a (I wore a knit polo shirt, which I've never been inclined to make since finding matching collars is next to impossible, and a twill skirt, which I'm replicating using Simplicity 2451.)

Day 5 - "That Cozy Blue Dress" - for an impromptu road trip with Brandon (I accompanied him on a business trip to Mobile because one of my favorite cities is only 2 hours away from there).  I'm sure I've said it before and I'll say it again: knit dresses are THE BEST clothing for travel.  6 hours in a car while wearing jeans? No thanks. While wearing a loose fitting, non-constrictive, breathable dress?  No problem!!  I'd almost forgotten how much I love this dress!  Is it glamorous? No. But, it's an "old-friend" kind of dress.  I feel like I've had it for ages though it's only been two years.  I still love the color (of course) and the style - young but not too-young, and not too dressy. I never feel bad in this dress (at least not owing to the dress itself - funny story: when we arrived at our destination, we opted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at a Mexican restaurant. As usual, it was a casual atmosphere, with many guests wearing athletic wear. No problem. BUT, the older ladies at the table next to us took issue with me, the only girl wearing a dress. Get this, they hated that I dipped my tortilla chips in my dip. Many rude faces, comments, and gestures were made. Then, one of the ladies proceeded to blow her nose at the table, while still saying how disgusting I was. So, I ordered nachos!* They loved it! :-P)  Grade: A-
(Sorry, didn't get a photo.  It looked about the same as last year though, except I wore it with coral flats and my Coach bag.)

Day 6 - unblogged 60's floral skirt - for a bit of relaxing at the hotel and a late dinner.  I love this skirt!  It's a half-circle, cotton sateen, and a pretty floral print so, of course I do.  However, being my first time wearing it, I was very conscious of it and wearing it to a "nice" place to eat made me feel like everyone must have thought I dressed up for dinner, which, despite the illusion of this being the nicest restaurant in the city, no one else did.  I think this one will get worn often but, I may need to be selective regarding the setting.  I also wasn't totally convinced the pinpoint shirt was the best pairing but, I have many more options I can play with.  Grade: A
(Gah! I didn't get a photo of this one either.  By the time we remembered, we were going to be late for our dinner reservation.  I meant to "recreate it" the next day for a quick shot but, that didn't work out either.  If I get a chance, I'll add one.  Otherwise, you'll just have to wait for the "Finished Object" post :)  For a sneak peak, here's a wip pic of it:

Day 7 - "Betty's Picnic Dress" - for sightseeing in downtown Mobile and another late dinner.  This is definitely at the top of my love/hate list.  This is the first item I think of when I think of prints in my wardrobe and a huge part of how I developed my current plan/"theories".  I took my time with the fit, love the fabric, love the style and yet, often when I wear it, it feels a bit like playing dress up.  I think it's the all-over print that is just a bit too 50s-housewife (and it never helps that I actually am a housewife, like I have no defense to the snickers.) I think I need to give more thought to the settings in which I wear it.  Once I have a larger variety of me-mades in my closet, it will have it's place and I will love it more.  Grade: B+

Dress: New Look 6886/Butterick 5747/Frankenpattern, Purse: Coach (vintage), Scarf: AE, Shoes:  Hush Puppies, Accessories: Target & Timex
Day 8 - Pool Green Half-circle skirt - for fabric shopping (what? doesn't everyone buy fabric souvenirs!?), driving to our next destination, and sight-seeing/people-watching in New Orleans!  Since this is a recently blogged make, I don't really have any new thoughts on it.  Comfortable, polished, all-around a great skirt. However, this outfit was certainly not Bourbon Street attire.  It was hot/humid, and a day-appropriate look in a city that definitely believes in dressing for the night.  Not that I would have worn something drastically different (I wasn't looking for beads... they hurt when they hit you!) but, darker colors and a blouse rather than a shirt would have been better. Grade:  A

(Sorry for the poor quality phone shots.  We don't have a proper camera bag and didn't want to risk carrying it down Bourbon Street.) Anywho...
Shirt: Brooks Brothers, Skirt: self-drafted, Purse: Coach (vintage), Shoes: Hush Puppies
Location: Vaso, Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA - You know what I love about NOLA?  Even on a Thursday night, you can simply stroll down the street until you hear music you like and go in to enjoy amazing food :)

Day 9 - not-yet-blogged navy linen skirt - for more food and sight-seeing.  Yep, I love this skirt too.  In my head, the navy color makes it classic and versatile, while the Ikat print adds a touch of trendy.  The unlined linen in a flowy cut was an excellent choice for walking around in the humidity and it's sure to become a go-to skirt this summer.  Also, since it's a simple two color print in a non-floral pattern, I didn't feel in any way out of place in it.  Lady-like, yes, but never over-dressed.  Grade: A+

(Again, swelling + poor phone camera = sorry!)
Shirt:  Ann Taylor (thrifted), Skirt: self-drafted, Jacket: Brooks Running (color sold out), Shoes: Hush Puppies
Location: Jackson Square, New Orleans

Previous posts:
Me-Made-May '14: My Pledge
Me-Made-May '14: Week 1

*I was already planning to order nachos but, oh how they groaned.

Me-Made-May '14: Week 1

Woo hoo! I wore a handmade item each day this week! Of course, it was only two days :-P. But, I'd say that's a good start.

Day One:  Unblogged "Teacup Sorbetto" - Fabric shopping, errands, and a casual dinner.  I wanted to start the month with an item I almost never wear: my Colette Sorbetto.  I'd love the blue/white china look of this fabric but, it doesn't drape as well as I would have liked and paired with the loose-fitting pattern, it's looks horribly boxy on me, which is not a shape I wear well.  I tried something new by tucking it into my jeans and, while it didn't like to stay tucked, I did think it helped with the boxiness.  Now, I just need to find something else to tuck it into as I hate how unflattering skinny jeans are.  I was a great, comfortable outfit for a bit of shopping though.  Grade: B-

Top: unblogged Colette Sorbetto, Jeans: Gap, Jewelry: Target and Timex, Shoes: Hush Puppies

Day Two:  "Summer Breeze Top" - Lounging and a long walk downtown. This top I do wear but, really only as a running around town or casual day at home kind of top.  I really struggle with how to pair it.  The empire waistline means I can't tuck it into anything so, boring shorts it is.  This year, I rebelled against the white ones I usually wear and tried to liven it up with pink.  I'm not sure how I feel about how it looks but, it's was perfect for walking CoCo downtown.  Grade: B-

Top: Simplicity 2582, Shorts: Milly for BR, Accessories: Target, Timex, and our dog, CoCo :), Shoes: Hush Puppies

Sidenote:  I hate not smiling for photos!  But, the front of my face is still swollen and my smile is, um, not presentable after my jaw surgery... braces in 13 days should fix that though :-)

Previous posts:
Me-Made-May '14: My Pledge

Finished: Pool Green Wool Half-Circle Skirt

Wow, this post is a long-time coming.  I started this skirt back in, oh September or so!  I was planning to bring it with me when we went home in the fall but, that didn't happen.  It was going to be my #SewGreenDecember project but, that didn't happen. It was going to be part of my SWAP but, that didn't happen either.

Top: J.Crew via ebay, Skirt: self-drafted, Earrings: Target, Shoes: Coach

That building in the background? It's our town's old textile mill :-) Of course I had to include a photo with that.
See, what had happened was... ok, the events aren't quite that ridiculous ;-) But, really, I was really excited to start this one after living in a Lilly Pulitzer 1/2 circle skirt all summer but, when I cut it out, I discovered I didn't have enough for the lining so, I had to wait until I could find/buy new Bemberg.  By then, I'd kind of lost interest.  (Ever get bored with the color/fabric mid-project?)  Then, when I did want to work on it, after my Brasilia Dress renewed my sewjo, I was sick and it took longer than it should have. Then, my beginner machine crapped out on me (but, you already know that).  Then, Brandon's frequent business trips meant it took some time before I was able to get him to help me level the hem.

When I finally did finish it, Brandon had to leave again on a long work trip and we didn't get to take pictures before I dropped him off for his flight so, I attempted to do them myself.  I spent what felt like a year setting up the tripod (which I didn't know how to do), adjusting the camera settings, framing the picture, and then, the darned thing ran out of battery!  So, I came home, cleaned the skirt, and planned to attempt it again the following week.  Odd thing is, either the skirt shrunk (yes, the wool was pre-treated) or the lining grew (but, the machine issue meant the skirt was left to drop for over a month!) as the lining suddenly peered out of the bottom.  So, I cast it aside waiting for Brandon's return so he could help me even things out.  Again.

Yeah, that's a lot of delays with one simple skirt. So, even when everything worked out and we were able to take photos, I put off writing the post (the photos were taken pre-surgery! that's how long).  More importantly though, despite all of those issues and my lack of interest in blogging it, I LOVE this skirt!  I've worn it rather frequently since I finished it and I think it's going to be a closet staple for quite a while.  The two fabrics paired together make this skirt so comfortable and swishy - it makes me happy just to walk around in it.  In fact, I love it so much, I've since sewn two additional half-circle skirts and I don't expect to stop there!

See? So swishy :-)
Now, after all this rambling, I really should tell you about the skirt itself but, being a simple half-circle, there isn't much to tell.  It's a lightweight wool suiting lined in Bemberg ambiance.  It closes with a hidden button-tab and an invisible zipper in the back.  I hand-sewed the hem of the outer (the lining is simply serged to conserve length after all the weird hacking) but, unfortunately, the thread got snagged before the photos so, it doesn't look at smooth as it should.  It looks better now after a bit of steam.

Enough text! How about I show what happens when Brandon just clicks away?  I know how much you all love bloopers!

Happy sewing! x

Project details
Pattern: Self-drafted half-circle skirt, $0
Year: 2013
Fabric: 1.75yds wool twill suiting, $18, Gail K Atlanta, 2 yards Bemberg Ambiance lining, ~$10 Jo-Ann
Notions: 9" invisible YKK zipper, ~$2, clear button and interfacing from stash
Time to complete: ~1 week, on and off over a few months
First worn: for an afternoon of errands
Wear again: already have, several times!
Total cost: ~$30

Me-Made-May '14: My Pledge

You guys!! It's almost May!! You know what that means :-)  Once again, Me-Made-May is going to sweep across the sewing world.  Have you submitted your pledge?

You may notice, I'm cutting my submission a bit close this year.  Machine problems and jaw surgery tried to rain on any sewing mojo I've had this year so, I wasn't expecting to participate.  However, I'm finally back up to 90-95% recovery-wise and my machine is back home (not perfect but, usable for now) so, I've probably spent more time in my sewing room this last week than I had all year!  As a result, I expect to have four new items to add to my Me-Made line-up!  With this extra boost, I've properly planned out my possible outfit combinations and determined that, even though I didn't succeed last year, I'm ready to up the ante! 

'I, Jennifer of msjennyhomemaker.blogspot.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear five me-made items per week for the duration of May 2014.'

The most I've pledged before was four per week and I wouldn't call those attempts successful. However, I've been working on building my separates wardrobe, as past participation has shown me I should, and unlike last year, I'm going to allow repeats as needed. I hope not to depend on any items too much though.  I make this allowance simply so I can document which pieces I reach for often and should, therefore, make more of.  Despite the repeat option, I am also (loosely) requiring that I wear each of my me-mades at least once. If an item doesn't fit, it's excluded; however, if I just don't want to wear it, it's time to take it out of my closet and replace it with something I love. This year's pledge is less about forcing myself to wear all of my me-mades to participate and more about really learning what I reach for and love to wear.  My goal is to test all of my current wardrobe theories and fill in gaps so next year, I can pledge the full week.

Only two days to go! I'd better go finish my current projects!

Can't wait to see everyone else's posts!

Happy sewing! x

Finished: Spring Thicket Beret

Well, what do you know.  I really am capable of sticking to a plan.  Next on the list was "Thicket" by Alana Dakos from her new book, Botanical Knits 2.  This is my second pattern from Alana and, just as I hoped, it was a great pattern!  So well-written and easy to follow and the finished product is so pretty!  Still not quite a newbie pattern but, I'm relatively inexperienced and was able to follow it without any issues.  The only two things I changed were shortening the ribbing to conserve yarn and using the Magic Loop method when it came time to decrease.  I have such a hard time using double-pointed needles - they always fall out - so, I thought continuing on a cord would be better.  I still struggled a little bit, shown in some slight laddering in the last few rows but, overall, I do prefer the Loop method.

You know what I really love about Alana's hat patterns?  Rather than abandoning the design when it's time to decrease, she goes the extra mile to actually decrease the design, giving, in my opinion, a nicer and more professional finish.

This time, I used a yarn much closer in content to the suggested yarn than last time.  For one, I bought it as a souvenir last year in Savannah with no project in mind so, it was just sitting in my stash, pre-wound. I love practical souvenirs.  For another, I wanted the soft, pretty halo that the sample hat had.  The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk sport weight.  Having just used a dk Egyptian Cotton, the Alpaca Silk felt like knitting air!  It was an easy yarn to work with and gave me precisely the result I was hoping for. And, it blocked so nicely, making my knitting look much more consistent than it is :)

Now, can you guess what's next on my queue?  I joked on my recovery plan that I'd start on my Ginny Sweater and I'm actually doing it!  With a new hat or two along the way ;) (Can you say addicted?)  Also, my machine just came home from the shop so, I've got a few new sewing projects planned.

Any other Northern Hemisphere knitters still making winter accessories? (Head start on next year, right?) Have those of you in the Southern Hemisphere started yours yet? 

By the way, I find I have less to say about knitting projects - what would you like to see included?

Happy stitching! x

Finished: Silver Moon Beret

You know what's nice about having a relatively small yarn stash and limited needles?  It makes me stick to a plan!  I last posted the knitting queue I intended to follow after my jaw surgery and I've been a good little knitter and have done exactly what I said I would.

I spent the first week and a half working on my Atlantic Cowl and finished it before moving on.  (I haven't taken "proper" photos of it yet because my face is still swollen and I'm too self-conscious to put that out there but, you can see my notes and a folded photo on Ravelry.)

Next, I continued working on the beret I shared in my last WIP post.  I finished it a few days ago and wore it during the my next venture out.  Luckily, since it sits on the back of my head, photos weren't a problem :P

Silver Moon 1

So, right, details:
This is my first Alana Dakos pattern and I have to say, I'm impressed.  Mind you, I've really only worked with free patterns previously but, this one was so clear and easy to follow.  Being a beginner, some of the stitches were new to me but, they were all well explained and it was so fun watching what they created.  The ssk really tickled me, I'll admit.  I'd done ktog before but, not ssk and didn't see the connection by just doing it. Then, I enjoyed watching the two stitches form opposite sides of the design as I went along.  The design itself is so pretty, somewhat dainty and lacy without being too delicate.  And since there are no cables, it makes a good and rewarding challenge for a newbie knitter (just watch those yarn overs - I dropped 4).

Silver Moon 3

I did make one change to the original pattern, both to make it easier and for personal preference - I omitted the bobbles and simply replaced each of them with k1 which worked perfectly.  I thought about replacing the bobble-looking i-cord at the end too but, decided it would look more finished than a hole at the top and it was a good opportunity to learn something new. Fortunately, it's an easy way to finish a hat and I do like it.

I should also note, the hat is unblocked in all of these photos. I didn't get a change to block it before Brandon saw it and he liked the texture of the natural finish.  I may block it someday to show off the design a little better but, for now, I like it as is.

Silver Moon 5

The yarn is a nice Egyptian cotton dk by Sublime Yarns, which I picked up during that store closing sale last month.  It was a bit large for the pattern but, I was eagar to start the project (this was the only pattern I bought during that sale and it was all too tempting).  I think the dk worked out fine enough because 1. it's a beret so perfect gauge isn't important and 2. I'm a tight knitter so that generally makes my gauge a bit small anyway (though I didn't swatch for this one).  Ignoring gauge, I'd say the yarn was a nice choice for this pattern.  It's so smooth and has such a lovely sheen which keeps it from looking "cheap" and shows off all of the stitches.  It is a bit heavy but, I expect that's normal of choosing cotton over wool and it still wears very well.

Silver Moon 8Silver Moon 7

Silver Moon 2

Now, to continue my "good-knitter" streak, I'm working on Thicket, from Alana's new book Botanical Knits 2, just as I planned.

What are you working? Do you have a favorite knitting pattern designer? Do you always block your projects? (Should I?)

Happy stitching! x

Planning: A Recovery Queue

Ok, I've no idea how to start this post so, I'm just going to jump in.  I'm getting braces this year and, for me, that apparently requires surgery. I won't go into it because 1. you probably don't want the details and 2. I know details can make some people queasy.  The import bit at the moment (read: the part that relates to stitching) is that I'm going to be pretty much out-of-commission for at least two solid weeks and it'll be baby steps from there.

So, it's a good thing I've started knitting again because, I know even if my machine is repaired in a timely manner, I'm not going to be able to use her for any time in March.  Being the uber-planner that I am, I'm developing my "recovery queue" now so I can make sure I have all the supplies I need before I go in for surgery.  (When I wanted to start my current project, I discovered I did not own the right needles.  That is not something I want to discover when I'm in no state to go anywhere.)

Here's what I'm thinking for far:
(Click the photos for details.)

I"ll start with my new Swan's Island bulky merino, from the closing sale, to whip up an easy but pretty cowl.  A long cowl is what I had in mind when I bought the yarn, the pattern was written for this exact yarn, and I think a simple pattern using large needles will be perfect when my head hurts too much to see or count small stitches.

Swan's Island Atlantic CowlSwan's Island Merino Bulky

Next, if I haven't yet finished my Cloudy Day Beret, I'll probably work on that since the pattern will be familiar. (I'm expecting it will be done though. I'm slow but, the surgery is still a week away.)

Cloudy Day Beret by Alana DakosSublime Egyptian Cotton DK Yarn

Then, if I've been able to pre-order Botanical Knits 2, I'd like to start on Thicket, in a pretty blush-pink Alpaca/Silk blend.  I don't expect to want to tackle anything too complex or large-scale while recovering and I know this will be an easy-to-read pattern with very nice results.

Botanical Knits 2 ThicketBlue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk

If I don't have the book by that point, I'm going to kick myself for leaving Autumn Vines at the shop :-P.  Or maybe I will get really brave and try the only sweater for which I have yarn in the stash (thanks to a livingsocial coupon!).

Ginny's Cardigan source:knitting dailySwans Island Organic Washable

Nah, maybe I'll just stick to a felted pincushion :-P.

Really, it may be over-ambitious to think I'm going to be well enough to finish more than one project but, I'm hopeful.  

What projects do you have in the pipeline?  Have you ever knit your way to recovery?  Any tips?

Happy stitching! x

WIP: Two Skirts and a Beret

I declared in January that I had my sojo back so, where are all the pretty garments I'm supposed to be churning out!?  Uh yeah, that hasn't been happening.  It is, however, much to my disappointment and, generally, not due to a lack of motivation.

My trusty li'l Brother decided it didn't want to be trusty anymore so, work basically stopped.  Then, a great deal came up on my (realistic) dream machine so, we sped right over thinking all would be solved.  That bubble burst with the very first stitch.  Something's wrong with my pretty new machine causing very wonky buttonholes and the motor has seized twice.  So, she'll be headed in for repairs before I've even thought of a name for her. :(

I technically did finish my lovely wool #SewGreenDecember skirt but, a series of events has prevented it from making it's online debut as well (save for Instagram, seen below). Hopefully, the issues will be resolved and we can take photos tomorrow.

My current sewing wip is a rayon black-and-white puppytooth "skater" skirt.  I went against my better judgement and cut the fabric as directed, resulting in a bias pattern at CF and CB so, I'm torn about how this one will turn out.  This is also the garment my new machine seized on so... yeah.

Fortunately/Unfortunately, a lovely local yarn shop hosted a 50% off closing sale while I was feeling disappointed about my machine situation so, now I have a shiny new knitting WIP too (figuratively and literally since it's Egyptian cotton):

It's Cloudy Day by Alana Dakos, my new favorite pattern designer.  I've had Coastal Knits for some time, though I've yet to brave enough to make anything from it (her Rustling Leaves Beret has been on the top of my swoon list for a year!), then, by coincidence I bought Cloudy Day at the shop sale. Once I realized they were the same designer, I went through the rest of her patterns and am now dying! to get my hands on her book Botanical Knits (but, you know, budgets...) and have my fingers crossed that I'm able to pre-order Botanical Knits 2 as a birthday gift.

Anyway, I'm loving both the pattern and the yarn so far.  My tension needs work but, I'm pushing on because it's so fun watching the design emerge!  I'm fairly certain I'm going to love this hat, newbie stitching and all.

What are you working on?

Happy stitching! x

Planning - SWAP 2014

In my year-end post I mentioned that I want to focus my sewing on simple, classic pieces in the upcoming year.  I came to this decision in the same way many of you appear to have set your goals this year:  I realized many of my previously sewn "themed" items don't really fit my lifestyle or preferred wardrobe.  Sure, I love a loud print or girly vintage dress but, in all honestly, I don't feel entirely comfortable wearing them out and about.

Once I admitted this, it was time for a new plan.  Of course, the most realistic way to do this is to look at what you need on a daily basis.  Well, as a housewife, I don't specifically need a "work" wardrobe - I could lounge in pjs all day if I wanted (and this may or may not happen from time to time).  So, I need casual, comfortable pieces that I can do chores and run errands in.  On weekends though, I prefer to dress with a bit more polish.  No cocktail dresses of course, but, I do like simple dresses or more "put-together" separates in nicer fabrics.  (Let's just say my favorite window shopping is done at Saks.)  Something that can be work with ballet flats for early outings and errands or with heels for dinner.

Sticking to this idea is going to take some work as I ignore the printed cottons in my stash or all the new vintage-style patterns that are bound to hit the stores.  But, that's where SWAP is going to come in (it will get me through April at least!).  I don't expect to officially enter - I'm rather fuzzy on if I even can and I don't actually expect to finish all 11 garments -  but, I'm looking forward to playing along.  To plan my 11 garments, I gathered all of my inspiration photos and noticed a trend of solid colors in silk or wool (two fabrics I've hardly worked with).  It seems the Brasilia Dress was the start of a new trend in my sewing but, as it is currently the most loved handmade item in my wardrobe, it makes sense.

Since all of the garments for SWAP are supposed to "work" together/flow, I've decided on a handful of Pantone Spring colors and limited styles of fabrics to ensure everything is cohesive.  The garments are to be organized into three capsules with two additional wildcards (I'm a little fuzzy on those guidelines too.)

Here's what I'm planning (excuse the sloppy sketching and poor paint-bucket skills :P ):

Capsule #1: one top, one bottom, one dress - Weekdays

  • "Placid Blue" rayon challis sleeveless popover - McCall's 6702 - This seems like the style of shirt I'll get a lot of wear out of.  A little more polished than cotton but, still cool and relaxed.
  • "Sand" silk pleated shorts - McCall's 6403 - I often struggle with the idea of shorts because, in the climate here, they're basically necessary but, I often feel under-dressed wearing them.  I'm hoping a nice silk noil fabric will change that.
  • "Placid Blue" wool crepe dress with pleated cap sleeves and v-neckline - Self-drafted sleeve/McCall's 2401/Vogue 1174 - Since wool crepe doesn't badly wrinkle, I expect it's a fabric that will transition well across activities.  I went with a pleated skirt to allow freedom of movement.

Capsule #2: one top, one bottom, one dress - Weekends

  • "Hemlock" silk noil 3/4-sleeve dress with box-pleated skirt - McCall's 2401/McCall's 5971 - Silk noil is supposed to travel well also so, I hoping it will make this versatile too.  It's also supposed to sew more easily than most silks so, it'll be a way for me to experiment with this fiber before moving on to the scary stuff.
  • Navy silk pintucked blouse - Vintage Simplicity 2224 - A simple, loose blouse in a lightweight fabric and classic color.  This would probably be weekend wear only since it will be a bit more delicate but, it's something I've reached for before only to find I don't own it.
  • "Pool Green" wool half-circle skirt - Self-drafted - Another flowy item in a polished fabric.  I wore a RTW half-circle skirt practically weekly last summer so, it's high time I starting making my own.

Capsule #3: one top, one bottom, one outer-layer - Polished

  • "Paloma" grey silk georgette puff-sleeve popover - McCall's 6702 - I expect this will be a go-to item when the challis version just isn't polished enough (read: evenings and events).  I'm nervous about sewing georgette but, I think I need a few challenges this year.
  • "Dazzling Blue" wool pencil skirt - Simplicity 2154 - I love pencil skirts.  I've avoided making them because of that tricky vent/lining situation but, I've done it before so, it's time to get over it.  And, I'm obsessed with cobalt this year so, this fabric yelled at me until I agreed to take it home.
  • Navy boucle cardigan jacket - Vogue 8804 - This will likely be the biggest challenge of the whole collection.  Luckily though, I already have the pattern with Claire's detailed instructions and I received "Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket" for Christmas so, I think I can get through it.


  • Blue Japanese double-gauze dot print popover - Grainline Archer - I bought this fabric last year specifically for this but, I didn't buy the pattern until November.  This is the most casual item on this list but, it will be a nice contrast and it's definitely one of those things I keep wishing was in my closet.
  • "Dazzling Blue" silk crepe de chine pullover dress - I just bought the prettiest cobalt crepe de chine at a local fabric warehouse but, I'm not sure what to do with it.  This item is the most likely to change but, I do know I want something somewhat casual out of it so, I can wear it to more than the ballet!
  • or "Placid Blue" and "Hemlock" cotton Amy Butler print cap-sleeve dress - Simplicity 2444 (I know, this goes against what I said at the top but, the colors match too perfectly so, I may cave.)
Phew! That's more garments than I made all year in 2013! I've made myself mini-deadlines for each item though, that I can make or break as needed, and I'm sure to pleased with anything I do finish.  With any luck, I'm on my way to a proper handmade wardrobe that I can be proud of and will actually wear.

What are your plans for the upcoming year?  Will you be participating in SWAP?

Happy sewing! x