Me-Made May 2017: days 7-14 and new makes

Hello, everyone! We are getting to the mid-point. So far I’m feeling good about the discipline of documenting the wearing part of Me-Made May, though I know I likely won’t be able to catch the final days of the month… But so far, so good. You can find my first week roundup here.

Here’s my second week (plus one day):

From left, clockwise: May 7: very blue in a Scout tee in that ubiquitous rayon print and RTW pants; May 8: those Burda pants I wore a lot the previous week with the cardigan I also wear very often and a RTW tunic; May 9: one of my newer Plantain tees, my beloved Oblique cardigan, socks I knitted while reading Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer (a personally significant detail), and RTW pants that were a lovely hand-me-down from a friend.

May 10: Burda pleated pants and Helmi blouse in buttery soft blue rayon (post coming up!); May 11 (the two smaller photos): working from home meant too much indecision and PJs, then a Maya Top (pattern by Marilla Walker) with the RTW pants I wore on May 9.

May 12: Rooibos dress in a great fabric from Cotton and Steel (a quilting cotton print called Sprinkle) with a green laceweight cardigan (the pattern is Oregon Coast by Jenise Hope) and a black short-sleeve Plantain tee you can’t see; May 13: my favorite version of the Laurel dress from Colette Patterns in a blue poly crepe that turned out unexpectedly pleasant to wear; May 14: McCall’s 7445 pants in “corduroy” fabric (ekhm, not really corduroy), Laurel blouse in another great Cotton and Steel fabric (rayon poplin) and same cardigan as May 12.

As you can see, I’m not afraid of repeats. I actually wish there wasn’t this invisible pressure on women to always try to wear something new. I had a friend who tried to avoid wardrobe repeats for the longest periods of time and counted on other people noticing that. It was the opposite of my aspirations. Just thinking about it makes me tired on her behalf. If only everything went with everything… but that’s taking it too far, I guess.

Here’s a sneak peek of what I’ve been working on in the past weeks:

a third Helmi blouse, which needs a post of its own and a second #sewtogetherforsummer dress. This time I reached for McCall’s 6885 and at this point I have very mixed feelings about this pattern…

How are you finding Me-Made May so far?

Me-Made May 2017: days 1-6 and first discoveries

First off, a big heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s commented on the previous post both here and on Instagram. It took me time and brainpower to write that one up. I wanted it to be clear and helpful. Thanks again for the lovely response, and I’ll be sure to follow up on that post when I learn something new about fitting.

Me-Made May is here! And it caught me in a shirt-making frenzy and already showed me another serious wardrobe gap: clothes for the home.

Here’s a quick roundup of what me-mades I wore on the first six days:

Top row, left to right: May 1:McCall’s 7387May 2: Plantain tee and denim Rooibos dressMay 3: Laurel blouse and pleated pants from Burda 8/2016
Bottom row, left to right: May 4: Plantain tee and handknit cardigan (pattern is Walnuss by Ankestrick), May 5: Floral Menace Helmi and my last handknit cardiganMay 6: Mesa knit shift and my favorite handknit cardigan (pattern: Oblique by Veronik Avery)

I decided to take as much pressure off as possible when it comes to photos. If it’s easier to snap a quick photo before getting dressed, I do just that. No repeats, no posing. I’m treating these as documentation rather than a photography challenge.

Thoughts so far: my work wardrobe is finally taking shape. The pants I made this year and the new shirts are really filling an important gap. Hurray!

But on days I’m working from home and on weekends getting dressed is not so easy if the plan is just to stay in. I need some nice clothes for that time at home. I’d better stop trying to “save” knits for dresses and make more tees and pants for lounging. Step away from the shirt patterns…

How is May going for you? Are you taking part in Me-Made May this year? Any discoveries?

hello, Helmi!

And, suddenly, all plans got moved aside and I went down the rabbit hole of the Helmi pattern from Named. I’ve almost finished the second blouse (shirt? — I need to resolve this) from that pattern and I’m actually pretty tired from the marathon sewing I’ve put myself through. When you dream of sitting down with a book and a cup of tea while at the sewing machine, you know you’re not doing a hobby right…

helmi2-1

So I sat down with a book and a cup of tea to take this photo of the almost-finished Helmi blouse. Note the bias-bound side seam. I made the bias tape from fabric scraps. Needless to say, those side seams took ages. 

Maybe this kind of sewing trance is just to be expected when you finally feel up to making a more challenging type of garment that also happens to be a crucial wardrobe gap… I’m on my way to doubling the number of shirts in my wardrobe, and they are my favorite thing to wear to work.

The photo above somehow does the fabric color justice: it’s a beatiful blue somewhere between the blue of violets and that of cornflowers. It’s a rayon — somewhat unruly but manageable with a little bit of help from spray starch. Nothing like the menace that was the fabric I used for my “test” Helmi (there was a muslin before that but the muslin didn’t have all the details).

helmi1-2

I call this one the Floral Menace Helmi.

If cutting and sewing the blue rayon was at times like trying to make a piece of clothing out of water, this lightweight floral polyester crepe (I think) was like water with patches of ice. The starching helped only a bit.

Because both of these fabrics are lightweight, I was worried about making the right choice with interfacing. My choices were actually very limited, so I settled on knit interfacing on the Floral Menace to keep things naturally floppy but capable of supporting buttons and buttonholes, and on the blue rayon blouse a combination of knit interfacing and lighweight non-woven fusible (i.e. basically, the two kinds I have in my stash right now).

Let’s talk fitting…

I am definitely not in the position to judge pattern drafting, so I’ll just share a few observations. One: all notches matched up beautifully. Two: the sleeve was drafted differently than I’m used to, with a pronounced curve on the back of the sleeve head and not much ease. That meant two surprises: I didn’t have to add ease stitches to ease the sleeve head in nicely, and the sleeve didn’t fit tight at all. Magic! Three: the shoulder seam is drafted to accommodate the 21st-century computer hunch — the slope of that seam is different on the front than on the back piece. For this hunchback it meant a forward shoulder adjustment of a mere 14″, and I would have survived without it. Magic again!

Where I definitely needed a fit adjustment was my broad back, but at this point that’s very obvious to me. I also raised the bust dart slightly, and I’m not sure whether it was a good or a bad choice… I need to wear these blouses a bit more to determine that.

Now… I’m not crazy about the 1 cm/ 3/8″ seam allowance. With the madly fraying polyester it just didn’t feel like enough for French seams, so I overlocked the seam allowances (which will do, but I’m not loving it). For the second blouse I added a 1/4″ to the side and sleeve seams.

So that’s easily fixed if you don’t mind taking the time to redraw the pattern pieces (which is what I did) or remembering to add to these seam allowances when cutting your fabric.

The instructions are clear and succinct. I can’t really evaluate the “trench inspired” elements of the blouse, since I skipped them.

Verdict: definitely recommend and will sew again!

In other news, I really loved following #fashrev and #fashionrevolutionweek on Instagram. I especially enjoyed the validation I got reading others’ washing tips. When I moved to the US it seemed to me people around me were doing laundry all the time, and no one was hanging out any clothes. I quickly discovered that the dryer was shredding my t-shirts at an alarming pace and got a drying rack. I’d always hand-washed quite a lot of my clothes, and while it’s not the must enjoyable activity, I’m glad I’ve stuck with it.

I also liked seeing people’s happy “I made my clothes” photos, though, to be completely honest, I liked the photos of garment workers with “I made your clothes” signs even more. I’m hoping that more awareness about who the majority of the world’s garment workers are, where they live, and how little they get paid leads to fairer compensation and decent working conditions. That’s the change we need the most.

As for making your own clothes… Me-Made May starts tomorrow! I can’t say I’ve filled my wardrobe gaps, but I’ll do my best to wear at least one me-made item every day.

What have you been up to? Are you excited for #mmmay17?