self-stitched challenge

Well, I guess I ought to make a Me-Made-May update, since, you know, it’s a week into June… Gah. Somehow my new, less-hours less-commute job has mysteriously translated into less time to blog than with my old job. I think what is happening is that at my far-away-job I was stuck away from home on dinner breaks with just my computer, but now with more time to actually sew and do other things in my house I’m loathe to spend my time sitting in front of the computer in my living room. So good news: I’ve made some things to blog about!

But first things first – the rest of MMM. I did successfully complete my me-made-month, without any problem actually… other than the whole photographic evidence thing, that is. I tried this time to take “action shots” rather than posing every morning in my house, because I thought it would be easier and more fun. But because I am not actually brave enough to ask strangers to take my picture, and also because I am easily distracted by, um, my daily life, I either have terrible long-arm phone pictures or no picture at all. And since the latter part of May passed in a job changing blur, I don’t quite remember what I wore when… but here’s what I got.

Days 12 and 15(?):


Here are two bad long-armed skirt shots. On day 12 I called my last show at my old company, so I snapped a picture of me sitting in the booth at the podium (you can see the script in the binder). The skirt is my twirly Simplicity 3881. I like this skirt a lot for when I need a quick dressier-than-usual outfit, but the elastic waist makes it really comfortable. Day 15 (I think that’s when this was) was taken in my car before I started my long commute home for one of the last times! I do love my car (a Prius), but I have to say I’m glad to be in it a bit less now. This skirt is my go-to easy jersey skirt, charcoal version. I love this skirt and I wear it all the time. I also just saw basically this exact skirt for sale at Old Navy, so I’m glad it’s at least somewhat in fashion.

Days 18 and 19:


Day 18 included an unexpected evening off, so I met my other half for dinner at our favorite brewpub. I am enjoying “The Pope”, which is their flagship IPA and probably the best IPA in the world. Seriously, this beer is amazing. I’m wearing my Simplicity 2593, Boden version. Day 19 I was backstage supervising all day during the student showcase shows, so I grabbed this mirror shot in the green room (which is neither green nor a room, actually) when all the students were onstage. The skirt is a simple elastic waist gathered rectangle affair I made during Self-Stitched-September from a cool border print. I clearly have no other shirt to wear with it, still.

Days 20 and 21:


Day 20 was graduation (not mine – I attended as faculty and handed out flowers to the graduates as they received their certificates), which was my last day of my old job. I didn’t manage to get a solo picture at all, so I have cropped out a very dear, very very tall colleague from this shot to show that I wore my Lonsdale dress (instead of the dress I made for the occasion). As it turned out, polka dots were quite popular that day, and there were a lot of graduates wearing dotty dresses too! Day 21 was the first official day of my week off, so I wanted to capture a relaxation moment. This skirt was my first easy jersey skirt, and only other picture of I have it was taken in this same chair also (I have no imagination). This is my day off skirt, for sure. The empty cocktail in my hand was a Pimlico (bourbon, orange juice, lime juice, mint), and it was delicious.

Days 23 and 27:


Day 23 was a Wednesday, the night of Pub Quiz at our favorite local bar. You play on teams of no more than 6 people, there are four rounds of 10 questions each, and if your team wins a round you get a free round of drinks. It’s really fun, but I don’t go as often as I’d like because of work. But here I am at Quiz, wearing my Anthro knock-off tank. Day 27 disclaimer: I am not actually wearing anything I made in this picture (unless you count the little case I made for my phone so it doesn’t get all sweaty in my pocket on the bike, which you can actually see me holding in the picture), but I’m sharing it because it was taken at the completion of my first ever century (100 mile) bike ride! A friend and I rode the Great Western Century in Paso Robles. It took 8 hours, but I felt great afterwards and it was really fun! And I did fulfill my MMM obligation too – after showering I put on the wearable muslin of Vogue 8571, which I had finished just the day before (and will post soon). I of course did not manage a picture of it (while eating a giant hamburger as a post-ride dinner – awesome).

And finally… The Rest:

It’s my Me-Made-Laundry-Pile! Here, on the 3rd day of June, I sorted all my self-stitched garments for the wash. Here are all the things I wore on the sad, no photo days. Ah, well. There aren’t any surprises here anyway – I wore all of these items in September, I think. And that’s really what disappointed me most about MMM: nothing new. I guess that the weather in May is basically the same as in September here, so I wore all the same things I featured then, and not any of the things I’ve made in the meantime since they were all for colder weather. Might I suggest a me-made-cold-month next time? The other reason for the duplicates is that same old cake-frosting debate – I have a lot of fancy dresses that don’t get worn that often. So while MMM was ostensibly a success, I guess it wasn’t a very interesting success. But thanks for bearing with me on the terrible iPhone slice-of-life outfit photos (the ones I remembered to take, anyway), and stay tuned for the fruits of my hey-I’ve-got-a-little-more-time-to-sew week off!


Wow, May is progressing at a frantic pace, and I have had even less time than usual for blogging! I have been keeping up with Me-Made-May in the sense that I’ve worn a me-made item every day so far, though I have been a little spacey about taking pictures every day. Rather than shoot a plain ol’ posed shot every morning, I’ve been trying to photograph the outfits in the wild, so to speak. Hopefully that’s more interesting, but it’s also been way easier to forget to do it. Anyway, here’s a recap of the month so far:

Days 3 and 4:


Day 2 was the first with no photo – off to a good start there – but rest assured I wore this dress, the Butterick Muse cowl dress in teal doubleknit. I made this last January and it’s a fantastic cool weather work dress that I wear all the time.

Day 3 brings a blurry photo of wearing my stripey Renfrew while barbecuing (I’m making this salad, which is pretty much my favorite summer salad ever). I do like this shirt a lot, but it’s still kind of annoying to wear due to the non-stretchiness of the bottom band. I’ve got another version of this pattern in my head to make soon(ish), plus now maybe a sleeveless one (thanks to Andrea‘s inspiring Renfrew dress!).

Day 4 was my new Boden twist top knock-off, worn here posing for pictures for the upcoming reveal of my FINISHED MINORU! Consider this a sneak peek, and I’ll try to get it written up this weekend… or sometime. I did not wear the Minoru all day since it was swelteringly warm (finished raincoat rain prevention successful!), but the twist top was great all day. Also in the imaginary queue: more Simplicity 1916s.

Days 5 and 6:


Day 5 I wore my favorite Farmers’ Market dress to, yep, the market and then to work. Higher on the make next list is more of these dresses, McCall’s 5893. They’re super easy to make and wear. Also in this picture are a ton of avocados in the orange bag and some rhubarb, tomatoes and cilantro (among other things) in a bag I made from a t-shirt I got when I rode the Windmill Century last summer. I love the t-shirt bag, but believe it or not I’m having a hard time finding appropriate t-shirts to cut up to make another one.

Day 6 I hosted a taco feast for several friends, for which I wore my wearable muslin of Butterick 5181. I vaguely remember deciding that there was something wrong with this dress when I made it, but I sure didn’t notice anything on Sunday – it was great and perfect for hosting an, um, seis de mayo party.

Days 8 and 9 were more no-picture fail days. On Day 8, a day off from work, I wore my maroon McCall’s 6347 for lounging around the house, and my Simplicity 2369 for running an errand. Day 9 saw me pull out my trusty Vogue 1224 – man I love that dress. I’m sure it’ll show again and I’ll get a fresh picture of it then.

But here are my last two pictures, days 7 and 10:


Can you guess where I was on day 7? Yep, that’s Disneyland! More specifically, the line for Small World. I just had to pose with this topiary moose – it’s the epitome of randomness. The dress is my Simplicity 2443. Who says you can’t wear a dress to an amusement park? This one was perfect, just the right weight for the warm-but-not-hot weather on Monday and with a nice weight in the skirt to keep it from blowing up on the wilder rides (which at Disneyland is not very wild at all – I don’t think I could get away with a dress at, say, Six Flags). We had a fun but long day, since we drove down, did both parks, and drove back all in one day!

Day 10 I wore my pink spotty twist-neck top to work and then to the special movie theatre screening of the live This American Life show. Sorry for the terrible dark iPhone picture, but it turns out it’s hard to take a picture in a movie theatre, even at the end of the show. If you’re a fan of Ira Glass and friends and you missed the screening, I believe they’ll be putting up a radio-ized version of the show on their website soonish that you can listen to there or grab the podcast (my preferred consumption method). It was a really great show, about twice as long as one of their regular radio shows and with a lot of fun visuals. The modern dancing was particularly cool, as was the interactive OK Go performance and Mike Birbiglia’s short film with Terry Gross (NPRgasam!) Hopefully the visual version will be up somewhere too eventually.

So that’s my first week-and-some-change of Me-Made-May – the fun continues, and I’ll do another round-up next weekish. So far so good!


Oh dear, it seems another new month is upon us, and with this one comes another self-stitched challenge!

Yes, as usual I’m extremely late to the party (and I’ve missed Karen’s pyjama party entirely! I’ll have to have my own, solo pj bash soon – I need new summer pjs, stat). But I do want to participate, mostly because since September I’ve been getting lazier about wearing the things I’ve made all the time, and I want to get back in the habit. What I want to really concentrate on this month is making real everyday garments, and figuring out what I wear and want to wear so I can sew with that in mind. I imagine there will be many repeats of items I wore in September, so I’ll probably post less MMM-only posts than I did for SSS. I’ll do full posts for new makes, but probably some kind of collagey post every several days for when I’m wearing things you may have seen before. Mostly I imagine I’ll be winging it – I’m feeling rather scattered lately.

Which brings me to my other news: I’m changing jobs at the end of the month. This has been a big, scary decision for me, but I think it’s the right one. I’ve accepted a position at a more local theatre, which means leaving the company I’ve been with for the last six years. As hard as that is, I’m excited to be reducing my commute from an hour each way to less than 10 minutes (or 20 minutes by bike! yes, it’s bikeable!), and the new position will, I think, be somewhat to substantially less weekly hours as well. The new company also has the added bonus slash complication that it is dark in the summer, which means that after my first show there in June, I will be unemployed until it starts up again in September. The upshot of which (as applicable to this blog, anyway) is way, way more time to sew. Do I need to change my blog title? I’m excited to have a summer off, as it’s been years since I’ve been available to, say, attend summer weddings, or lay on a beach, or eat watermelon all day, or whatever it is normal people do in the summers. I’m also excited to have time to (hopefully) sew through my stash (which I’ll need to be doing, since with no income I’m forbidding myself from buying any fabric… that costs more than 99 cents a yard, anyway).

So the month of May for me is an ending and a beginning, with a busy few weeks finishing at the old job, a week off, and then busy again starting new. So I don’t know that my concentration will be always on MMM, but I’ll try. One day at a time, right? So here’s what I wore today, appropriately both old and new – it’s the first knit top I made, and my second ever review on Pattern Review, but this is the first time I’ve worn it this year. It’s long sleeve, so it got passed over during our warm winter weather, but now that it’s quote unquote spring, the terrible gloom has set in and it’s colder than January was, so I pulled it out.

I like this pattern (McCall’s 6120, now out of print apparently), and I keep meaning to make a sleeveless version, but haven’t gotten around to it. The Simplicity I just used for my Boden knock off is very similar, but I do like the midriff band on this one. Into the queue it goes! That’s what the Me-Made-Months are about, right? Rediscovering the old and refining it for the new? I guess that pretty much sums up this May for me!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s the end of the month! I can’t believe I wore all things I’ve made for 30 days!

Day 29 was a repeat of day 7, my contrast-yoke Butterick 5217 shirt in blue and black, which I still love. No picture, though, I ran out of time in the morning and ran out of light in the evening.

I did have some sewing time last night, so I whipped up one last item to wear for the last day of Self-Stitched-September:

It’s the free one-piece kimono tee pattern from BurdaStyle. I wanted an easy tee pattern for this fabric, which my mom bought at the Crazy Fabric Store (which I will post about soon, really), cut a tank top out of while she was visiting, and left the rest of the fabric for me.  I had just enough for this pattern, which took longer to tape together than to cut out and sew. It was incredibly easy, just the side seams and the neck band.  I left the bottom edge and sleeves unfinished, a hem would have done weird things to this really thin fabric, and made the sleeves even more wing-like than they already are. I’m wearing a cami underneath, because the fabric is actually pretty see-through. This is the size small, and it’s a little big on top and kind of tight on the bottom, but I left it as is.  I also ran the stripes vertically, for fun and because otherwise I’d have needed a shoulder seam, although the stretch is mostly in the horizontal-stripe direction. I think I cut the neck band a little small and stretched it too much, because the neckline is slightly (unintentionally) gathered.  I’m fine with it, though.  If I make this shirt again (and why wouldn’t I, it’s so easy), I’ll cut the neck opening wider for more of a boatneck, which I think makes more sense for the style. But I’m happy with this version (I’ll call it my baker’s twine shirt, since that’s what the fabric reminds me of), and it seems like a good way to end my self-stitched month.

So I guess I should do some sort of conclusion, a what-did-you-learn type analysis of the month. Well, I did get through with only a few repeat outfits, and I also have several dresses that I didn’t wear because they were too dressy or not seasonally appropriate (whatever season this was), so I’m pretty amazed that I’ve made all this stuff! What was most interesting about the month, though, is that I didn’t really ever find myself missing my RTW clothes.  In fact, it feels weird that tomorrow I can go back to wearing whatever I want… it’ll probably be a self-stitched item! I ended up being pretty excited every day to wear things I’d made, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  I will say that it would have been harder if we hadn’t had the Hawaiian vacation for a week, since I definitely have mostly casual dresses and skirts and I really need more work appropriate dresses. And on that note, I kind of discovered how much I like wearing skirts and dresses instead of pants – more fun and more comfortable! So overall it was a really great experience, an insight into my developing fashion sense, and a great way to get in the blogging habit. I won’t, however, miss having to take a picture every day!

So now I embark on my fall sewing, knowing that I want more things I can wear to work (since I’m there 6 days a week after all), and feeling okay about wanting to make skirts and dresses all the time. Though right now I’m considering starting with a jacket…

Well, I’m back home and jumped right back in to work today, after just 4 hours of sleep last night (the time difference from Hawaii does not work to our advantage coming home). I’ve had a bit of an SSS stall-out, with no picture for today or yesterday, but both were repeats anyway.  Yesterday to fly home I wore my grey jersey skirt from day 15, and today was the Vogue 1224 from day 1. I do have a picture from Sunday, day 25, and our last full day in Hawaii:

Did manage to get a little quality hammock time after a morning of snorkeling.  I’m wearing my muslin of my Butterick 5181, last seen on my cutting table. It’s not at all perfect, and the bodice suffers from my laziness in the form of no understitching, so the self lining is always rolling to the outside, but it’s just as comfy as the blue version and a totally wearable muslin.

I’m reading on my Kindle, which I’ve had for a few months now and I have to say I love it. It was one of those things that I initially scoffed at – ‘it’s just technology for technology’s sake, it only does one thing, I’d never use something like that’ – and then suddenly I started thinking about my rapidly diminishing bookshelf space and my ever-growing fabric stash and I realised electronic books were the solution I didn’t know I’d been looking for.  And it’s been great. It’s light (no more sore thumbs from holding a hardcover open for hours), easy to read (the screen really does look almost like print on a page), and doesn’t take up much room in a carry-on bag (more room for Hawaiian souvenirs and snacks. Mostly snacks). It’s perfect for travel and I like it at home too.  I highly recommend going the e-book route if you’re looking to recapture more room in your house for fabric!

Anyway, the normal work routine will recommence next week, but I’m looking forward to having a few evenings this week free to start my fall sewing, which after a week of summer-dress-wearing I am finally excited about! Of course that means the summer weather we haven’t had all summer has just arrived for the end of the month, so rather than finishing out SSS with fallish items sewn last year, I’ll have to repeat my summer clothes for the last three days… oh well.

It turns out it’s much harder to get good outfit shots on vacation than I thought – these are real “action” shots, in the sense that I didn’t just check the mirror, make sure my hair is okay, find the perfect pose and take gazillions of shots to choose the best one…

But anyway, here’s day 22, our 3rd day in Hawaii, worn to the National Botanical Gardens:

I bought this fabric back in May at Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley with exactly this dress in mind, but no pattern.  I have a couple Old Navy knit dresses in this style, and I thought maybe I could trace one and duplicate it that way, but I’m a chicken so I went looking for a commercial pattern.  You know how hard it is to find a two-triangle-bodice-with-midriff-band-and-spaghetti-straps dress pattern? There aren’t any for knits.  So this is Butterick 5181, another pattern for wovens I converted to knit.  It may have been easier to trace my existing dress. I eliminated the center back seam/zipper, took a half inch off the center front midriff and center back midriff and bodice, another half inch off the side seams, eliminated the front and back bodice darts, gathered under the bust a little, and made the skirt about 8 inches narrower total (the skirt is drafted to have a ton of gathering, and I didn’t want the fullness, plus I didn’t have enough fabric). It turned out pretty good in the end, and I’m happy that for once when I bought fabric without a pattern in mind it turned out exactly as I intended it to (instead of turning into something else entirely or languishing in the stash). The one thing I did notice as I wore it was that it started off fitting around the midriff, and by the middle of the day it was much too large… must have stretched out! It’s a rayon knit without much recovery, I guess, but hopefully it’ll shape back up when I wash it. Full pattern review is here. Oh, and here it is in action at the tree where they found the eggs in Jurassic Park. They filmed that in the Botanical Garden, as well as the most recent Pirates movie, which I carefully ignored on the plane ride over, but I clearly should have watched so I would have recognised all the locations!

On day 23, we started at the beach, getting some snorkeling in despite it being really, really windy.  I wore this beach coverup, which was one of the first things I made – trying to catch the shirring craze:

It’s a cotton print I found in the bulk bin at the local fabric store, a little on-the-nose for Hawaii, but okay. I used the Heather Ross Mendocino sundress pattern, which I was excited about since I’s seen so many people have made really cute ones, but it was a pain to sew.  Granted, the shape is nice, and it’s easy to wear, but what’s keeping me from making another one is the memory of how annoying it was to sew that many rows of shirring.  I’ve avoided shirring ever since, though I really should give it another shot, I guess.

Later in the day we took a downhill bike tour of Waimea Canyon, and I wore my jersey skirt from day 8 (with shorts underneath!) for the ride.  It was really fun and the canyon is beautiful, I highly recommend it if you visit Kauai. Here’s me and the other half at one of the canyon lookouts:

More adventures on day 23 – we took a boat tour up the Na Pali coast and out by Ni’ihau where we snorkeled. I wore my second version of McCall’s 6347 (racerback view), originally reviewed here. I did make the armholes much higher on this new version, and cut the shoulders at an XS rather than a S, and it worked much better.  Instead of a tie in back, I made a loop that I sewed in place around the straps, for a flatter back.  I highly recommend this view of the pattern if you want a super quick, easy, no fuss knit dress. It made a good swimsuit coverup for the ride out!

I’m on a boat!

Here’s my dress for Self-Stitched-September day 21, day 2 in Hawaii:

This is my last-minute dress, cut on Sunday night, completed on Monday literally 15 minutes before packing. I wanted one of those jersey skirts that converts to a tube-top halter dress, and I could’ve sworn McCall’s had one in their catalog earlier this year, but when I went looking it was nowhere to be found… Maybe I imagined it? Anyway, they had this pattern, McCall’s 6113, which was the dress style I wanted anyway even if it’s not also a skirt. I bought the pattern on Saturday (JoAnn pattern sale!), and fantasized that I could have it done in time for the trip.  And lo and behold, I did! This may be the fastest I’ve ever made something, from conception to completion. So obviously it’s a pretty easy pattern. It’s a pattern for wovens, though, and I wanted a knit dress, so I had to make it a lot smaller (cutting a 6 and taking another inch off each bodice side seam).  I also modified the skirt to a more traditional shape – I wasn’t interested in the drama of a full handkerchief hem, and I only had a yard and a half of fabric (another find from my Crazy Fabric Store). My full pattern review is here.

The dress worked really well for my Hawaiian adventures yesterday – it’s an easy dress to change into out of a bathing suit in a beach bathroom (no armholes, yay!), which I did twice (lots of snorkeling), but also appropriate for, say, a farmer’s market, which we also did:

Look at all that crazy fruit!

I did end up pulling the back of the dress up all day, but for the most part I didn’t feel like full exposure was eminent, so I’m calling it a success. I don’t know that I’ll really wear it back home, since it really begs for super warm weather, but it’s the perfect vacation dress. So glad I finished it. Now if I could just go back in time and tell my frantically-trying-to-finish-in-time-to-pack self that all the bobbin-thread-running-out and machine-tension-wonky related cursing and stress was totally worth it…

We leave tomorrow for Hawaii, so it was time to pack my self-stitched suitcase:

I was slightly amazed that I was able to pack 2 self-stitched cardigans, 8 self-stitched dresses and 4 self-stitched skirts! I am bringing things I didn’t make too – swimsuits for one, as well as a bunch of purchased camis to go with the skirts. But I’ll definitely be able to continue SSS on my trip!

Today’s outfit was a repeat of day 14 (since all my new stuff went into the suitcase), but I’ll soon be posting pictures of all these items with way more interesting backgrounds than my deck.

Ready to go!

Another Self-Stitched-September update – here is day 17:

I am clearly miffed that the lousy weather necessitates the wearing of leggings and a cardigan with this cute dress… particularly since the bodice is the interesting part of the pattern! It’s Butterick 5491 (made in may, review here), in an ITY-y knit from Michael Levine in LA. I love the print, but the fabric is pretty thin and there are a bunch of faint grey streaks, like grease marks from a roller or something, all over the fabric (which I of course didn’t notice until I went to cut). I thought I’d avoided them all with creative cutting, but realised when I wore it the first time that there’s one dead center on the skirt front! At least the pattern is busy. I have to say that I think that online fabric shopping is really the way to go, I’ve gotten much higher quality knits for cheaper online than I can even find in the most famous fabric store in the LA fashion district!

And here’s what I’m wearing today (it’s kind of weird to edit a picture of the outfit you’re wearing, isn’t it?):

In my determination to go as long as possible without a repeated item, I whipped up this skirt last night. It’s a border print cotton from my favorite Crazy Fabric Store, and I basically followed this tutorial to make an elastic waist skirt. I didn’t do pockets (though I love them) because I was rushing. This is about the easiest skirt ever. I cut my border print into a 25 inch length, then cut it lengthwise about 5 inches down from the fold (I didn’t actually cut, I ripped, which is way faster and makes it perfectly square!), making two rectangles 25 by 22 inches. I serged all the edges, sewed the side seams, and hemmed the bottom with a blind hem stitch.  I then attached the skirt to my 30 inch elastic waistband like the tutorial instructs, stretching the elastic as I went to create the gathers. The one thing I did differently was I sewed the right side of the fabric to the wrong side of the elastic, which means less pouf since the skirt comes out facing straight down, and it leaves the whole height of the elastic exposed, which I like better for the proportions of the skirt.  The stitching line is visible up close on the outside of the elastic, but it’s not obvious. Here’s a detail of the waistband showing the inside and outside:

I’m not totally convinced this style skirt is flattering on me (hip pouf is not my best friend), but I do like the way it turned out. And it was so easy!