Me-Made-May ’16 Review

My Me-Made-May ‘16 didn’t go very well at all – at least the pledge portion didn’t.  I wore an average of two items each week (rather than my pledge four), and these were my ginger jeans, my red spotty blouse, my mint green wallpaper blouse or PJs.  This did suggest that the items I’m making are not ones that get much chance to be worn.

When I wasn’t wearing me-made, I was wearing black trouser suits and tops (that are not blouses) for work, or leggings, t-shirts / vest tops and cardigans when not at work.  So I think I need to concentrate on these items instead.

I have plans to make PJs for Jez next, but after that I’ll be working through the following:

  • Summer jacket (to test a pattern for a suit jacket);
  • Ginger jeans and jackets from the same suiting material, to replace my black suits that are wearing out;
  • More Ginger jeans, including a black pair with red top-stitching;
  • Various t-shirts and vest tops (to show off my new tattoo!);
  • Comfy, stretchy tops for work; and
  • Casual cardigans.

This may make Me-Made-May ’17 (tongue twister!) more successful and see me getting everyday wear out of my me-made clothes.

What have you learned from Me-Made-May ’16?

Jx

Mint Green Wallpaper Blouse

DSC_0027Since realising that I didn’t have much me-made clothing I could wear on a regular basis, I had been feeling inspired to complete a UFO (unfinished object) that’s been hanging around for a while.  This would also give me another blouse to wear during May at work.

There isn’t too much to say about this project, as it’s the fourth time I’ve made this pattern.  I’m really pleased with the fabric choice on this one though.  It’s not a colour I’d usually choose, and although I thought the fabric pattern looked a little like flock wallpaper, I think it looks really striking made up as blouse.

I feel like I’m getting better at imagining fabric and patterns together, and my awareness of clothes around me is growing.  In the same way that playing music has improved my ear for listening to music, I think sewing is developing an interest in fashion that I haven’t had before.  I love flicking through blogs to see what other people are making, and browsing the web for inspiration for my future makes.

Once I figure it out, I’ll add a favourite blogs page to my site, so you can enjoy them too.

Jx

Me-Made-May ‘16

me-made-may'16
It has been a little while since I last posted, although I have been doing some sewing, I haven’t had too much time and energy due to the demands of my day job.  In the last few weeks I’ve been noticing mentions of Me-Made-May ’16 appearing on various blogs and, although I have several items to blog about I decided that this blog should be a look back at last year’s Me-Made-May blog post.

That post was made at the end of May and rued my lack of participation in 2015.  I had just got back to blogging, a year after my return to sewing in May 2014.  I didn’t have many items of clothing that I wore regularly at the time, and I planned to spend the next year creating an almost completely me-made wardrobe.  The best laid plans…

The items that I thought I needed to successfully complete this feat were:

  • two pairs of jeans (I made a white wearable toile of the Ginger Jeans pattern, followed by a denim version, both yet to be blogged – only the denim version is worn regularly),
  • two pairs of trousers (I have plans to try to make these using the Ginger Jeans pattern, but these have not been started yet),
  • one matching jacket (I have a pattern in mind for this, but I’m going to use it for the summer coat first and then decide if it’s appropriate),
  • fourteen new tops (I have made four gypsy style tops, one of which is more of a dress length, which are good for going out in, and I have another McCalls M6036 blouse in progress, which should be completed in the next couple of days and is suitable for work wear),
  • two pairs of pyjamas (I made two pairs of pyjama bottoms to replace some that had worn out and could be worn with the existing tops),
  • and a summer coat (I have all the fabric and notions required for this, and although it will be one of my next projects, but it will not be ready before the end of May.)

As you can tell, I am not in a position to make the pledge I was aiming for:

“…a challenge of wearing 100% me-mades during May 2016 (excluding underwear).”

Instead, my Me-Made-May ’16 pledge for this year, which should accommodate my lack of work and casual wear:

“I, Jan of Vivid Kitty’s Fascinating World of Sewing and Stuff, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear a me-made item 4 days a week for the duration of May 2016.”

I am also going to review what sewing would most help me to build a wearable wardrobe.  Maybe next year I can go 100% me-made…

…or maybe a year is much shorter than I think.

Jx

Pink Gingham Cushions

DSC_0036.JPGDue to being busy at work and too tired to do much once I got home, I’ve had a dry spell of sewing.  I’ve had some homemade patchwork cushions hanging around in my sewing cave that I made years ago, and the cats had been using to sleep on when they  watch me working from home.  They were made from all kinds of fabric reclaimed from old clothes, including jersey fabric that I hadn’t stabilised.  I loved them, but they were misshapen and covered in cat hair, so one day I just decided to get rid of the covers and keep the cushions to reuse them.

The cushions hung around nude for a while, before I decided to deal with them and do some stash busting at the same time.  I had some pink gingham fabric that had been around almost as long as the cushions and I thought it would make a good inner cover to refresh the now floppy, sad-looking, naked cushions.  I had every intention of making newer, more interesting cushion covers that could be removed and washed, but I liked the look of these cushions so much when they were finished that I decided to call them finished.  It made a nice quick make and I hoped it would be the beginning of more sewing.
It felt good to start and finish a project in one day.

Jx

 

Ginger Jeans

DSC_0031My last post gave you an insight into my next project.  I’ve been really keen to have a go at Ginger Jeans, since I’ve seen them popping up in many of the blogs I read regularly.  My curvy figure struggles with most RTW (ready to wear) trousers – too tight on the hips and thighs, and gapping at the back waist – so I’ve been hoping this is the answer to uncomfortable jeans.

I started by making a toile from my ‘cream cord with olive green flowers / leaves and bright yellow squiggles’ fabric.  The intention was for these to be a wearable toile, but I shouldn’t have needed hindsight to tell me that they are not my usual style.  Anyway, as cheap as the fabric was (special offer from Minerva Fabrics), wearable or not wasn’t really an issue.

DSC_0030I fDSC_0029ound the whole process of making the Ginger Jeans, from download of the pattern,
through the crazy toile, to the final making in blue denim with gold top-stitching as real pleasure.  As the instructions note, I am now a Sewing Ninja – I made jeans!  They fit really nicely, Jez even says they look like the best fitting jeans he’s seen me in.  I’m especially proud of my top stitching.pic 1.jpg

I did wear the cord version out once to test how they fit in action (on a Boxing Day trip to Whitby), and due to the pattern and the comfort I felt like I was wearing pyjamas.  The only problem with the fabric was that the ridged fabric rubbing between the thighs made the walking harder work.  My proper denim pair are usually being worn or in the wash, and I think the pattern will make the
perfect secret jeans for work, if I use some stretch suiting fabric.  If I can find a jacket pattern that will work, I’ll use the same fabric and make myself a suit(!), then I would truly be a seasoned Sewing Ninja.

Have you made Ginger Jeans?

Jx

Stretch Corduroy for the Home (and Van)

Bac2016-07-22 (1)k in June, I got a really good deal on some stretch corduroy fabric at Minerva Fabrics.  I bought 7 metres, without giving any thought to what I might use it for.  It arrived and I immediately regretted it as I stashed it away – it took up loads of space and I had no idea what I’d do with it.  Well, I needn’t have worried…

The first project was a van curtain, using the brown fabric.  In the summer, we bought a new (to us) van, with the main purpose of transporting our band equipment to gigs.  This second-hand van had been kept very clean in the back, and so we have also been using it for autumn picnics (cheese and pickle sandwiches and a flask of tea, snuggled under a blanket in the back, gazing out over the Yorkshire countryside, after a brisk walk through the fallen leaves).  We also have plans to use it for camping when the weather gets better next summer, so I took one the pieces of fabric I bought to make a hefty, light obscuring curtain to go behind the seats.  It worked perfectly, blocking out the van contents from the outside and creating a homely feel inside.

The second project was a set of three duvet bags using the cream with brown squiggles fabric – not to be confused with duvet covers.  We don’t have a spare room with a bed in, as we use our two spare bedrooms for our hobbies.  We have futons we can use in the music room and sewing room, and a sofa bed in our living room, but the spare bedding is stored in heavy duty garden waste bags on top of the wardrobes in our bedroom.  These bags tend to tear when the bedding is removed and when it’s squeezed back in, and also adds an unpleasant plastic smell.  After our last visitors, Jez was squeezing the freshly washed bedding back into one of the bags and it sDSC_0012.JPGplit completely down one side.  He mused that it would be much easier if we had fabric bags that wouldn’t split – could I make some?  Well, the stretch corduroy was just the fabric for the job.  I made up three circular based bags with draw strings to hold covered duvets, pillows and bottom sheets for each of the beds.  They look much more attractive on top of our wardrobes too.

The third project for this versatile fabric is yet to be made up.  I’ll be using it to create a (debatably) wearable toile for the Ginger Jeans pattern – cream cord with olive green
flowers / leaves and bright yellow squiggles, for those crazy days.

(This is another of my back dated posts – I’m hoping to post in a more timely way in future.)

Do you ever buy fabric because it’s a bargain, when you have no idea what you’ll use it for?

Jx

Replacement PJ Bottoms

I find that my pyjama tops last longer than my bottoms and, in the past, I’ve thrown out perfectly good tops, just because my bottoms are no longer wearable.  In October, I had two pairs of PJ bottoms wear out.  I realised that I could use the ‘Margot Pyjamas’ pattern from the ‘Love at First Stitch’ book, by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons, to quickly replace them.

The first, and only, pair of Margot PJs I’d sewn were made with woven fabric, and although they are very comfy, I find stretch PJs much more comfortable.  I bought some pink & white stripe and some black & white check jersey fabric, and very quickly had them made up using my overlocker and twin needles on my sewing machine.  These were a quick, practical make and I’m really pleased with the results.DSC_0008

(As this is a post-dated blog entry, these PJs have since worn out with constant wear and I don’t have any photos, so here is a photo of the fabrics.  That’ll teach me to put off my blogging for nine(!) months.)

Have you extended the life of a matching set by replacing the worn out parts?

Jx

Pink Paisley-ish Gypsy Top/Dress

Last month I took advantage of being between contracts to catch up on all of my sewing blog posts.  If you’re a subscriber, apologies for the number of emails you received.  Now that I’m up to date, and I’ve started a new contract, I’ll be posting much less frequently.

I also used last month’s free time to clear out my wardrobe and make a plan for what I really need.  I’ve been sewing haphazardly until now, which led to the Walkaway Dress I’m not sure I’ll ever get a chance to wear.  With this plan, I’m hoping that I’ll meet my goal of wearing 100% me-mades during May 2016 (excluding underwear), as well as reducing my fabric stash.

IMG_7013aMy first planned item was Burda Young 6950 (view A), using a pink paisley-ish fabric from my stash.  I need more tops that I can wear when I go out, but that feel comfortable.  I found the gypsy tops that I made recently were flattering, so this seemed like a good option.  I made the longer version for more coverage, and this length will probably work well for me as a dress too.

I decided to take things more slowly than usual, to try to improve the quality of my end garment and avoid silly mistakes.  I still managed to sew the top portion to the bottom inside out (I’m getting pretty good at unpicking), but other than that, it came together nicely and I’m really pleased with the results.

I’d be happy to wear this top/dress with jeans or leggings, and perhaps even as a dress with tights, as I kept it nice and long. I should get plenty of wear out of it.  I think I’ll be considering this as another TNT pattern, although this is the only one I’ve made and I probably won’t make another for a while.  I think I have enough gypsy-style tops for now.

One thing that I’ve started doing while sewing, is listening to podcasts.  I find that it helps me to keep my sewing speed down; if I go to fast I can’t hear the podcast.  This is especially helpful when I’m getting near the end of the project and I get the urge to rush to finish it.  At the moment, I’m working my way through ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’ on iTunes, which I would definitely recommend.

My next two projects will probably be PJ bottoms, to replace some that have worn out, even though the tops are still in good condition.  I’m not sure when I’ll get time for this though, now I’m back at work.  I’ll just keep trying to fit it in where I can.

Jx

Black and Red Stripy T-Shirts

I have spent a couple of months searching the internet for red and black striped knit fabric – one to one and half inch horizontal stripes – with no success.  I wouldn’t have thought it would be such an impossible fabric to find.  My last resort was to have it specially printed, although this seemed like a lot of work to go to for such a simple pattern.

T-Shirt 1I started with ‘Spoonflower’ which appears to be the front runner for printing your own fabrics.  It was simple enough to create the design and upload it, but I had to buy 2 yards, as I needed just over 1 metre for the t-shirt and you have to buy to the nearest full yard.  Then there was international postage costs to the UK, and I was hit with a tax charge when I picked it up at the sorting office.  They were unable to deliver it directly due to this additional charge. This is definitely the most expensive fabric I had ever bought.  All included it came to approx. £60.  The fabric was a thin jersey, but it was okay for the t-shirt.  The red came out a little brighter than I expected, but that’s hard to account for without ordering colour samples first.

T-shirt 2After receiving this fabric and needing to pay the extra tax charge, I thought I’d look into UK based alternatives.  I tried out ‘Bags of Love’ and I was very impressed. It took me a little time to figure out how to upload and order the fabric I wanted, but you can order an exact size of fabric required (length and width), which helps to keep the costs down.  I ordered the medium weight jersey and it was a lovely fabric. From my experience with the colours of the Spoonflower fabric I darkened the red stripe, and it came out exactly as I wanted.  The cost of fabric and delivery came to approx. £45, so it was quite a lot cheaper than Spoonflower. Since I’d ordered the exact size of fabric I wanted, there were no fabric remnants left, which was great.  I’d only end up hoarding them, and what can you do with small amounts of jersey fabric?

Here are photos of the two t-shirts made using Simplicity 2116 again, like the Black and Beige T-Shirt.  The construction was very similar to the first one, except this time I made sure I put the neck band in the right way around first time.   Jez and I are very happy with both t-shirts and I’ll definitely use ‘Bags of Love’ should I need/want fabric printing again.

Jx

Pink Scottie Dog Walkaway Dress

I am a member of the Minerva Crafts ‘Craft Club’ and each month they send through a discount voucher for a particular item in their online shop.  One of these was for the ‘Walkaway Dress’ (aka Butterick 4790) as made famous on the last Great British Sewing Bee.  I love 1950s fashion and so I thought I’d give it a go.

Walk Away DressA ridiculous amount of fabric and black biased binding later I had a 1950s walkaway dress ready for trying on.  Due to the amount of fabric needed it just wasn’t feasible to made a toile, but with hindsight I should have made the bodice at least.

When I tried on the dress I found that the armholes gaped indecently and the bodice was too long.  The press studs on the front wouldn’t hold closed and the front part of the skirt had a tendency to ride up in just the few minutes I was wearing it.  I hated it.  I put it to one side and got on with other projects, not sure if I would come back to it.

A few weeks later, I was feeling ready to look at the walkaway dress again.  I added in another dart to each side of the bodice and exchanged the fake buttons and press studs for real buttons and button holes.  I then hemmed the bottom of the dress to finish it off.  I’m still not feeling too happy with it, although it is now wearable, but I think that’s partly to do with the ordeal of making it and that I don’t wear dresses or skirts very often.  Perhaps I just need to get used to it.  I do think the shape is flattering though, showing that I have a waist, so I may see if there are other similar patterns I can try.

I’ll see if time makes me feel any warmer towards it, but I can’t imagine making another one.  I have learnt a lesson about toiles for bodices though.  I think I was simply very lucky with the fit of the first blouse pattern I made.

Jx