MMMay18

Truth in blogging: this started as a “Me Made May: Week 1” post. Then it was a “Me Made May: first half” post. And now it’s going to be one long massive post about the entire month because why not. Anyway, to recap: I decided that during Me Made May this year I would work on creating a useful and enjoyable nursing wardrobe. I spent the first two weeks wearing as many different outfits as I could and analyzing them, based on the following points:

General Comfort – do things fit right, is the fabric comfortable to wear?
Appearance – does it look put together, is it good on my body shape?
Movement – can I move comfortable, carry a stroller up stairs, sit cross-legged on the floor, etc?
Outside – would I wear it outside the house, or just at home?
Nursability –  is it nursing-friendly?

This is my “GAMON” scale – think of it with an exclamation mark, like “Game on! Let’s get this wardrobe started!!” And I used it, or at least parts of it, to analyze my wardrobe every day for the first week. Here’s a couple of examples:


2018.05.01

Outfit: Most of the day I was wearing my pajamas / house dress (a majorly-modified Empty Hanger Patterns Arthur Top) but for the few hours I was out I wore a white So Sew Easy Summer Drape Top (a free pattern!) and a striped knit skirt.
Insights: The top is too loose, too floppy, not great for nursing (totally not the pattern’s fault; I’ve made it in other fabrics and it was great). But I like having a white top and the drapey-ness is good. The skirt is great although the knit is thick and just barely cool enough for today (26°)
G: 2/2    A:  2/2    M: 1/2    O: 1/2    N: 1/2
Total score: 7/10


2018.05.02

Outfit: White summer cardigan inspired by one that Handmade by Carolyn made; nursing tank top (the one all over Pinterest, where the straps are just loops you hook onto your bra) and black knit home skirt.
Insights: The skirt is great; the tank is great for home but not outside; summer cardigan is lovely as always
G: 2/2    A:  1/2    M: 2/2    O: 1/2    N: 2/2
Total score: 8/10


2018.05.03

Outfit: White summer cardigan again because I severely underestimated the outside temps. The dress is my new favorite, a sleeveless Empty Hanger Patterns Tomi Dress – it was super easy to add a center front zip to make it nursing friendly although the top of my zipper is wonky.
Insights: I really like this dress, even if the zip drives me bonkers. Need more in other colors! Because black was too warm really.
G: 1/2    A:  2/2    M: 2/2    O: 2/2    N: 2/2
Total score: 9/10


2018.05.04

Outfit: Brand-new striped crossover tank top, first with a flowy floral maxi skirt and later with my black knit home skirt. I think in the second picture I had beauty face turned on?
Insights: Stripes and florals are awesome together. This top is far from perfect; what the heck happened there at the CF with all those wrinkles? But I will work on it because this is a great pattern, one I would like to perfect
G: 1/2    A:  2/2    M: 1/2    O: 1/2    N: 2/2
Total score: 7/10

And while not every outfit needed to be analyzed and pointed and ranked within an inch of its life (read: I got bored of the system midway through the second week), I still came up with a pretty good idea of What I Like To Wear And Why, which in turn led to lists of what I want to rid my wardrobe of, what I want to keep, and (best part!) what I need to sew more of.

What I want to get rid of (probably donate at some point, but for now just pack away):
(1) everything with a non-stretch waistband. Because life’s too short for tight waistbands.
(2) every top that isn’t nursing-friendly.
(3) most of my narrow skirts and dresses. If I’m sitting it’s usually cross-legged so pencil skirts have a limited use. The striped skirt pictured above is going to be pardoned though because I wear it often outside the house.

What I “need” to sew more of (ha ha, like I actually need more clothes. But a handful of new pieces will at least make getting dressed a bit easier when the laundry is piling up):
(1) a new white top to replace the floppy one
(2) a maxi skirt or two
(3) summer dresses
(4) another top or two which coordinates with my usable skirts

So my plans are clear; I’ve already started working on a few things (okay, I have at least 4 projects going on in various stages) and I hope by the end of May to have finished a piece or two!

Advertisements
Posted in sewing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Me Made May 2018

It’s that time again, my favorite time of the sewing year: Zoe of So, Zo… is hosting the ninth year of Me Made May! This will be my 4th year participating – in 2015 (my first year) I resolved to wear one me-made garment every weekday. In 2016 I pledged to wear all me-made outfits on weekdays. Last year I spent May reworking my wardrobe to fit my new body shape and rediscovering my joy in my handmade wardrobe.

This year my plans are not only for May but also for April and, probably, June. I can excuse myself the extra time this year because, guess what, sewing with a newborn is slower than sewing without one. Who woulda thought?

Last year I used Me Made May 2017 to measure out all new blocks for my new (slimmer!) body, sew garments from them, and restock my wardrobe. It was a great success! Then right at the end of May I got pregnant, which obviously brought some changes in my body shape. Now I’m two months postpartum and more or less back to my shape of one year ago, but my wardrobe is lacking enough nursing-friendly clothes to make getting dressed exciting.

So my goal is kinda the same as last year’s, really: rebuild my wardrobe and recapture the fun of getting dressed. A total wardrobe overhaul in April-May-June; my steps will be:

1. Go though Colette’s Wardrobe Architect again to start defining my wardrobe.

2. Use The Vivienne Files’ templates and some stock images to create a wardrobe plan.

3. Use items already in my closet to fill in the plan.

4. Pack away all clothes that don’t fit the plan. Set aside any that can be refashioned into working garments.

5. Make a sewing / shopping plan to fill in the wardrobe with anything missing. Use as much stash as possible.

And then in May itself I’ll give my new wardrobe a test run, wearing it and assessing it. And, gulp, doing the daily-selfie thing as well. So see you in May, in something me-made!

Posted in sewing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

TNT: the Plantain top

If you follow the Sewcialist blog or #sewcialists on instgram, you can’t have missed that November is TNT month – that is, Tried-and-True patterns. Basically, a tribute month for all those patterns you’ve made so many times that you could practically make them in your sleep.

all plantains all the time

For me, like for a lot of people, my tried-and-true-est pattern has to be the Deer and Doe Plantain tee. So easy. So versatile. So free. What’s not to love? And although the original pattern is “just” a simple tee, it’s so easy to hack into other useful patterns – in fact, the more I thought about it, the more I was curious to count up just how many Plantains and Plantain-based garments I had:

3 actual Plantains: sewn according to the pattern. The first two, black and navy, were some of the earliest garments I blogged about. The striped one came soon after.

all plantains all the time

5 slightly modified Plantains: as my sewing skills grew, I started making small variations on the pattern. I added a cowl neck by simply widening the neckband piece. I tried a short-sleeved version. I narrowed the pattern at the hips to make it more fitted, and used it to cut down an over-sized sweater.

all plantains all the time

8 more modified Plantains: and then I realized this was a magical pattern – no matter how I hacked it, it always came out great. So I changed it up more and more. I tried a hip band, a wider sleeve cuff, a cowl neckline, a gathered neckline, a polo collar, a knotted front, a raglan sleeves redraft, and a dropped sleeve.

all plantains all the time

2 sleeveless Plantains: without sleeves it looks a bit like a muscle shirt, but with slight adjustments to sleeve (narrowing the shoulder seam, pictured) it looks like a proper tank top.

all plantains all the time

11 Plantain cardigans: and then I started making cardigans. I wrote a whole post about it, and since then I’ve made even more.

all plantains all the time

3 Plantain dresses: well, almost 3 dresses. One is finished (pictured, it’s the Plantain top and sleeves plus a half-circle skirt) and another in red velvet is almost finished. Another, which is literally just the Plantain extended 40 cm, is cut out but not sewn yet.

all plantains all the time

Were you keeping count? That’s 32 Plantain-based garments all together, and the majority of them are still in my everyday wardrobe. Can’t get much more tried-and-true than that!

Posted in sewing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Call for Pattern Testers!!

Introducing the Judit Top, the first pattern from Empty Hanger Patterns:

For a few years I’ve been wanting to write up some of my sewing patterns to sell, and this summer I finally got around to starting. It’s definitely more work than I anticipated, but I’ve been enjoying it, and now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m ready to reach out to the amazing online sewing community and ask for some help.

I’m looking for sewers to pattern test the first pattern, which is the Judit Top. It’s a pretty, feminine top with a flowing, gathered front ending in shirring at the hem. You can make 3/4 or short sleeves, and add an optional bow to the front for maximum twee! Or leave it off if that’s too cutesy.

Maybe this top isn’t your style, but you’re interesting in pattern testing a great fit-and-flare knit dress, or a loose cardigan with huge drapey pockets? Those will be coming soon, so if any of these sound interesting, please send me an email at emptyhangerpatterns@gmail.com. And within a few weeks my pattern shop (Empty Hanger Patterns, on etsy for now) will be up and running, so go and check it out.

Posted in sewing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pepernoot Coat #3, sort of

How much can you alter a pattern until it stops being that pattern? At what point does altering a tried-and-true pattern become more work than the work of finding and testing a brand new pattern? These were the things I pondered while planning my newest coat:

Pepernoot coat #3

You would be forgiven for not immediately recognizing this as the Pepernoot Coat from Waffle Patterns. I’ve made this coat with fairly minor adjustments twice before (winter version and spring version) but this time I needed to change things up. Mainly because I wanted a different style coat this time around, but also because I was working with a very, very small piece of fabric – just 110 cm (for comparison, the original pattern calls for 3.3 meters).

But how gorgeous is this fabric? It’s an Italian wool (is Italy famous for its sheep?) and I bought the last bit of it from a local fabric store. I wasn’t sure about the color but it’s grown on me and I think it’ll be great for autumn and winter! The color is truest in the outdoor photos, of course, but this is also not a bad representation:

Pepernoot coat #3

There was some intense pattern Tetris going on to be able to cut everything out, but in the end I only had to piece a bit of the collar.

Pepernoot coat #3

In my other two versions I removed 4″ of ease from the sides and sleeves. In this version I removed another additional 2″ from the sleeves (so, 6″ total removed from the sleeves, and I can still wear it with a sweater underneath – this pattern has a LOT of ease).

Pepernoot coat #3

The front and back bodices have lost the yoke pieces and are cut as one piece. The sleeve also ended up cut as one piece, although that wasn’t the original plan; I just ran out of fabric.

Pepernoot coat #3

The waistband of the original Pepernoot is fairly high anyway, but I took it up another half inch. The “skirt” part of the coat is the most immediately obvious change – considerably shorter, and with pleats added.

Pepernoot coat #3

Instead of the sleeve tabs, I cut the sleeve shorter and added a cuff at the wrist – this is a technique I use pretty often on knit things, when I’m trying to squeeze a cardigan with long sleeves out of a too-small piece of fabric.

Pepernoot coat #3

I replaced the zipper with a front overlap and buttons. Ideally this would have been a double-breasted coat but there just wasn’t enough fabric.

Pepernoot coat #3

Instead of the hood, I cut a simple folded rectangle for the collar. Again, with more fabric I would have made a bigger collar, but since I’ll always be wearing a scarf it’s fairly moot anyway.

Pepernoot coat #3

And of course, pockets! Somehow this was the first time I’ve ever sewn a welt pocket? Not sure how that’s possible… Even with this great tutorial from Colette, it was ever-so-slightly nerve-wracking but I think they turned out fine.

Pepernoot coat #3

The insides are a bit of a disaster; I lost my head while cutting out the lining and instead of cutting the lining *slightly* bigger than the main (like, 1/2 a centimeter would have been good) I cut it *hugely* bigger (almost 2″). So it flops around all over the place, and occasionally peeks down below the hem, despite my best efforts to tack it into submission. Never mind, the collar / hanging loop looks nice.

All-in-all, I’m really pleased with this project. I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since I finished, and if the weather stays as it is, I hope I can keep wearing it right through the winter!

Pepernoot coat #3

Posted in sewing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Me Made May 2017

Less than a week before Me Made May 2017 kicks off, and I have yet to set out my official resolution! In 2015 (my first year) I resolved to wear one me-made garment every weekday. In 2016 I pledged to wear all me-made outfits on weekdays. At the end of last year I thought I already knew my pledge for 2017; it seemed like the next logical step: all me-made everything, every day of the week. Well. While I appreciate former me’s enthusiasm, my actual goal this year is something more relevant to my current life.

Long story short: health problems, doctors, being told to make some major changes to my diet and lifestyle, and since last fall I’ve dropped at least ten kilograms. Which , sidebar – despite living in Hungary for over a decade and being thoroughly used to using metric in everyday life, sometimes my imperial roots pop up in weird ways. Example: ten kilos seemed like such a tiny number to me, I mean 10? That’s barely even a number! My brain couldn’t reconcile that tiny number with the significant changes I saw when I looked in the mirror. When I finally got around to checking how many pounds that was (22!) things started to make more sense.

Despite losing weight steadily since November, basically I’ve been in denial about it the whole time. I even wrote a post about sewing skirts to fit my new shape. Those skirts were one size smaller than my normal size, and they fit at the beginning of February. But since autumn I’ve lost SIX INCHES off my waist – not something that going one size down is going to help with – so even those skirts are mostly too loose for comfort.

I don’t like change. I’m still getting used to my new body, and I know that I’m healthier and more fit this way, but the change is unsettling. On the other hand, what’s even more unsettling is dreading going to my closet every morning because I know I won’t find anything that fits properly. At the moment I have one skirt that fits me (and only because there are safety pins pulling the waist in) and a handful of dresses. This does not make me excited to get up in the morning and get dressed.

But there’s always a silver lining. I have a pretty wonderful opportunity in front of me: a chance to restart my me-made wardrobe from scratch. How cool is that? How many people get to do that, especially once they’ve been sewing for a few years? So my goal for Me Made May (and April) is a simple one: building up a wardrobe of coordinating pieces suitable for spring, and recovering my enthusiasm for getting dressed in the morning.

Specifically:

  1. putting together a spring capsule wardrobe of a handful each of skirts, dresses, tops, and cardigans (mainly but not entirely me-made)
  2. measuring out a new skirt block and sewing at least one skirt from it
  3. remeasuring/ redrafting my bodice block and knit bodice block
  4. using the blocks to sew new tops and dresses
  5. retailoring a few of my favorite skirts to fit again

There are currently more than 200 people signed up for the challenge, and I’m sure many many more who will play along on Instagram. I’m looking forward to the inspiration of seeing everyone else’s creations!

Posted in sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

February MAGAM: Fit and Finish

The February theme in the MAGAM group (Make a Garment a Month) was “Fit and Finish.” A perfect theme for me this month; I made three skirts which fit my new body, and I used three different finishes inside!

All three skirts are from this free papavero pattern. I’ve made it twice before; this time I altered the pockets to leave out the pleats, and I tapered the bottom to give it more of a pegged shape.

Method 1: underlining as seam finishing

The first skirt is a mystery fabric I found last time I went up to Budapest. From a distance it reads as navy, but it’s actually a blue and black weave with tiny cream dots.

three skirts in February

three skirts in February

For the lining, I used Nicole at Home’s brilliant method for underlining and seam finishing. This gives such a beautiful clean finish, plus the seams are very easy to adjust later if need be.

three skirts in February

With this method, there’s no perfect way to finish the vent on the inside, so I just finished the edges and left it. I fully intended to hand stitch a patch of lining fabric over the vent to cover all the stiching neatly… but I’ve been wearing the skirt too often to get around to it!

Method 2: fully lined

The second skirt uses a mustard wool blend. The color and fabric are beautiful, but this skirt was a hassle from beginning to end. First I turned a whole load of whites yellow prewashing the fabric. The first lining was totally off and I had to buy more. The second lining, despite being cut as precisely as possible, came out too short in some places and too long in others (I think the wool fabric was to blame, it seemed to grow and shrink as I sewed).

three skirts in February

three skirts in February

In this version I wanted to make a fully and “properly” lined skirt, including a lined vent. I tried to follow along with this lined vent tutorial, which was very helpful after I figured out the drafting part of the process using paper models.

three skirts in February

The skirt was such a problem from beginning to end that it’s hard to find nice things to say about it, but I can admire the fact that with this method, there is exactly zero visible stitching on the outside of the skirt (or inside, for that matter). Even the skirt vent doesn’t need to be stiched down.

Method 3: bound seams

The third skirt, made from a remnant, was an attempt to duplicate the most beautifully finished skirt vent I’ve ever seen. Since the example skirt is unlined, I underlined mine so I could treat it as a single layer. And of course, on the inside of my dull gray skirt I used a wildly bright scrap of quilting cotton for the bindings and waist facing.

three skirts in February

three skirts in February

three skirts in February

The “fit” part of this skirt was different in this one; it seemed a little tight at first. After wearing it a bit (okay, I liked it so much that I wore it three days in a row) it loosened up just enough to fit perfectly.

Conclusion:

The first and third methods were the clear winners: easy to understand, easy to draft, easy to execute. But I’m not writing off the second method; I think the majorty of my problems came from bad fabric choice. All in all, I’m glad I tried some new ways of finishing!

ps. these skirts ended up being most of the “bottoms” in my entry to Pattern Review’s Sudoku Wardrobe contest – more about that later! 

sudoku wardrobe

Posted in sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments