Why Me Made May?

So it’s time once again for Me Made May, which is just about the only thing I use this blog for any more! (In the meantime I’m on Instagram in two places and doing other sewing things). I had a real problem coming up with a pledge this year, and I want to talk about why.

None of the pledges I’ve done in previous years seemed right for me, nor any of the more common pledges made by others. Wearing a certain number of me-made garments is no challenge since that’s what I wear every day. Evaluating my me-made wardrobe is something I’ve done to death, including fairly recently, and I don’t really need to do again. Looking for holes in my wardrobe was a great success in early years but, let’s be honest, there are no holes (metaphorically, at least) in my wardrobe any more – quite the opposite, I am so overwhelmed with me-made clothes that the idea of planning to sew more leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe my problem is that my goals in previous years kept getting progressively bigger. In 2015 (my first year) I resolved to wear just one me-made garment every weekday. In 2016 I pledged to wear all me-made outfits on weekdays. In 2017 I spent May reworking my wardrobe to fit my new body shape and rediscovering my joy in my handmade wardrobe. In 2018 my goal was to build up my nursing-friendly wardrobe and “recapture the fun of getting dressed” – how dramatic is that?? I also even used the phrase “total wardrobe overhaul” – wow. Nothing like thinking big!

But the problem with this bigger-and-better series of pledges is fairly obvious (although, yes, I’m quite dense; it took me 5 years to realize it). I’ve reached a point where I can’t get much grander.

So why bother taking part in Me Made May at all? What do I enjoy about it, what do I hope to get out of it? In short I enjoy the challenge, and the camaraderie. The very first year I took part was probably my favorite – I had a small and simple, difficult but do-able challenge, and for the first time I was connecting with other sewers doing similar (and different!) challenges. This is what I want to recapture this year.

So here’s my challenge in a nutshell: I’ll be doing a pants-free Me Made May. Specifically, I have one pair of black pants which I am not going to wear for a month. They’re actually the only pair in my closet, and quite a nice pair, comfy but good-looking, but I tend to wear them when I don’t want to “make the effort” with a dress or skirt or pinafore. So inevitably I don’t feel 100% when I’m wearing them and I want to stop that.

Secondly. I definitely enjoy sharing my makes and ogling others on Instagram, but I’m not doing the selfie thing this year. Instead I’m going to be sharing croquis of my outfits, hopefully a few times a week. And, of course, practicing appreciating all the other lovely things other people make and wear without automatically thinking “ooh I need to sew that for myself!”

What about you, are you taking part in Me Made May? What will your challenge be?

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Fall 2018 Wardrobe: 16 pieces

This post is awkward and poorly written. I am so excited about this current wardrobe project, but I just can’t write it out in the way I want to. Anyway, I’m tired of looking at this post on my dashboard so I’m hitting publish and getting on with the sewing and wearing parts that I like better.

After finishing my 10-piece capsule wardrobe, the next step of my grand amazing Fall 2018 Wardrobe Super Plan was to move up to 16 pieces, using the Vivienne Files’ 4×4 template.


But as much as I appreciate the orderliness of this template, it doesn’t really work for dress-wearing or for wearing lots of layers. So I decided to take a different approach. Borrowing an idea from Colette’s Wardrobe Architect, I thought about what silhouettes I wear. Basically I have three:

fall 2018 wardrobe - 10x16x33

And how often am I willing to rewear my clothes? As I learned during the 10×10: often. Very often. Like, as often as laundry happens. So to comfortably cover a week I need three times each silhouette, or 9 outfits. How many pieces is that?

9 cardigans
6 tops
6 leggings / tights
3 skirts
3 pants
3 dresses

All right, but realistically I’m going to rewear things between washes – again, this is a personal choice, but I’m comfortable rewearing pants, skirts, and leggings a handful of times before washing. Ditto cardigans. On the other hand, I’d prefer to wash tops and dresses after each wash. So that leaves me with:

fall 2018 wardrobe - 10x16x33 (1)

and you can see I already have the makings of a wardrobe. It’s not the 4×4 I thought I would have, but something around 20 pieces. I’ve already got several of them:

fall 2018 wardrobe - 10x16x33 (2)

And there’s my to-sew list sorted for the season as well!

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Fall 2018 Wardrobe: 10 pieces

The first step of my grand Fall 2018 Wardrobe Super Plan was to try a 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge. I made a good start on it in early October then realized that the “official” one was starting soon and gave myself a do-over. The pieces I ended up with were these:

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

*black pants, actually pregnancy pants but still so comfy
*denim skirt made with gifted fabric
*new black cardigan made from a cut-down hand-me-down
*two hoodies made from an extremely hacked version of the Deer and Doe Plantain
*pink Empty Hanger Patterns Arthur Top
*polka dot crossover top
*white So Sew Easy It’s A Wrap Top
*the clear winner of the wardrobe, my black and white dress, which is just a lengthened Empty Hanger Patterns Arthur Top
*a last-minute black-and-white dress made from an Ikea365 tablecloth

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

Daily selfies are torturous. Just like Me-Made-May, this was the hardest part for me. I was able to sweet-talk my husband into photoshoots occasionlly; on other days there were mirror selfies and awkward trying-to-pose-casually-while-hoping-no-one-sees-me self-timer shots.

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

I think I missed the spirit of the “challenge”, because I’m totally fine with wearing the same things day in and day out. I wore that striped dress at least 4 times and would happily have worn it again. Who knew I liked leggings? (I wore them 5 days in a row).

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

And just as clearly as the challenge showed what I readily wear, it showed me what I don’t. Because seriously, if you’re limited to 10 pieces only and *still* don’t reach willingly for a certain piece (looking at you, white top) then it might be time to reevaluate your relationship with that piece.

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

fall 2018 10x10 wardrobe

So what’s the next step? My original plan was to expand my 10-piece wardrobe into a 16-piece wardrobe, using the Vivienne Files’ 4×4 template. But her templates focus mostly on separates with dresses as an extra, and I’m not sure how my newfound love of dress + leggings + cardigan is going to deal with that…

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Fall 2018 Capsule

Two years ago, greatly inspired by The Vivienne Files, I used her series of posts about building a wardrobe from scratch to make up an imaginary capsule wardrobe for myself, based on the pieces I wear most anyway. Going through the steps was a great way of evaluating what I have, planning how I can wear it, and seeing what is missing.

wardrobe building - black, gray, wine and mustard

I still think this is the single best thing I’ve ever done, sewing-wise. It was amazing how easily my sewing plans came together that fall, and it was a wonderful feeling knowing that instead of sewing random pieces, I was sewing a wardrobe.

wardrobe building - black, gray, wine and mustard (1)

So obviously this year I wanted to do something similar, another capsule wardrobe. But which? There are SO MANY different ideas about capsuling, all with their own pros and cons. Of course The Vivienne Files wardrobe building is great but I want to try something new – maybe using her 4×4 template? The brevity of the 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge is appealing, but how do 10 garments work long-term? Project 333 is another good one but can I use it as a base for my to-sew list?

So which one to pick? ALL OF THEM, obviously. I’m calling it the “10x16x33 Challenge-less Wardrobe” 😁 The plan is:

Step 1) I’m going to start with a 10×10 – I’ll pick out a handful of my favorites, throw in a couple of basic necessity pieces, and see if I can make it 10 days. Or 2 weeks. Or 5 days. Any way it goes it will be useful.

fall 2018 wardrobe - 10x16x33 (2)

Step 2) I’ll expand the 10 pieces into 16, following the Vivienne Files’ template. Most of the 16 will come from my closet, I’m hoping, with just one or two pieces from my sewing list.

fall 2018 wardrobe - 10x16x33 (1)

Step 3) This will be my nod to Project 333 – I’ll continue adding a piece or two per week, either from my closet or freshly sewn, until I reach 33 pieces, or until I reach 3 months, or until I get bored with this whole project. As I add the pieces, I want to make sure they fit in with the existing wardrobe.

fall 2018 wardrobe - 10x16x33

Hopefully the results will be as beautiful and as useful as two years ago. I’m repeating this picture because it still makes me so happy to look at!

wardrobe building - black, gray, wine and mustard

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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:


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


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


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


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!

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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!

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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!

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