Thursday, 7 June 2018

My Me-Made-May'18: Lessons Learnt

(my favourite looks worn during MMMay'18)


It's surprising to me that, having taken part in nine Me-Made-Mays now, I can come away each year with a whole lot of new knowledge and feelings towards my handmade wardrobe. In my last post I wrote about my feelings towards last month's challenge. Today I want to talk about the specific lessons I learnt about my wardrobe from taking part, and what I've done (or plan to do) about them.


Some things don't fit so well...

My body has definitely changed since I made a lot of my clothing. Growing and breastfeeding two babies, as well as entering my late 30s, means that my silhouette and measurements have changed in a way that cutting back on the magnums for a while probably won't reverse. There's nothing I can do about it, and last month's challenge forced me to notice that some items really weren't working anymore.

(image source: Tilly and the Buttons)

Both my plain black and stretch denim knit skirts were made when my waist was smaller and therefore the curve between my waist and hips was more, umm, curved. I tried altering both by lowering the waistlines, but it only really worked on the black one. The denim one has now gone to my mum to see if she can make use from it, and I've set to work making an updated alternative using Tilly's Bibi skirt pattern (pinafore version!) in this denim knit (pictured below) from Fabric Godmother.

(image source: Fabric Godmother)

Last month's challenge also made me admit that I had stopped feeling great in my 1960's Breton top (pictured below).  I still adore the style of this garment and consider it the best garment I've ever made, but it was starting to look a little snug around the waist in a way that did suit the boxy style. I held my breath as I took my seam ripper to it, and successfully managed to claw back some width from the side seam allowance. Phew! It now looks a lot better and I feel good in it again.



Some garments should no longer be seen in public...

I've had to say goodbye to my grey Tova tunic, and my denim Tova top (pictured below) has set aside for allotment wear when I finally get one. My amazing anchor Luna pants are developing holes on the knees and bum (I think the little anchor have been created using some kind bleach-like colour removal technique rather than by printing, making the anchor shapes thinner and more susceptible to wear) and have been relegated to 'lounging around the flat' wear.



I have loved wearing...

My Ivy pinafore and Mila dungarees. I love the look of them and the extra stomach coverage, AND the garment layering is both stylish and warm on chillier days. My Cleo pinafore only got worn once during May because a) it's a bit tight at the moment (I should have made it in a denim with elastane), and b) it's a bit short for day-to-day small child wrangling (I should have made the longer version). I've been loving these styles of much in fact that I am planning to make the TATB Bibi pinafore (see above), Sew House 7 Burnside bibs AND Helen's Closet York pinafore. That's a lot of sewing...


Close-fitting knit tops. I had started to veer away from my closer fitting jersey tops (like my Bronte tops and Agnes tops) because I've been feeling more self-conscious about my waist (and the previously mentioned lack of non-jeggings trouser styles), but they've been given a new role for layering under the aforementioned pinafore and dunagrees.


There are some holes in my wardrobe...
  • A lined jacket. There's a bit of gap between my wool cocoon coat and my unlined La Trop Facile jacket where I wish some kind of lined jacket lived. On those inbetweeny days, I find myself wearing a weird selection of layered items that neither looks good, nor feels very comfortable. I do have my lined Woodland stroll cape, but I find that its colours limit the outfits that it works with, plus it looks a bit wintery for spring/summer wear. I've yet to find the right jacket pattern, but I have 2m of gorgeous off-white/navy striped double knit in my stash that might work for a casual jacket. My eyes are peeled for a pattern to fall in love with. 
  • Trousers that aren't jeggings. All my trousers, aside from my one functioning pair of Luna pants, which are really only for very warm weather, are a tight jeggings style. I LOVE my three pairs of jeggings, but I don't like them with my tighter or shorter tops. So I made the most of the Me-Made-May celebratory discount codes and treated myself to the True Bias Lander pants pattern plus fly front extension pack. That pattern has been on my #2018makenine list for months anyway, and last month showed me how useful they will hopefully be. 
  • A dress or playsuit. Generally speaking, day-to-day, I prefer wearing separates. But I'm feeling the draw of a nice dress or playsuit for occasions when I want to feel more put together. Aside from my casual pinafores, I only really have my Staple dress, which I don't think suits my style anymore and is probably destined for the charity shop. I have two beautiful lengths of fabric in my stash, one crazy-long length of quilting cotton-weight African wax fabric, and some gorgeous cotton lawn that I chose whilst testing out the Cotton Bee fabric printing service. I'm looking for a dress pattern/s that is cute, but not too short for toddler wrangling, that vaguely shows the shape of my body, but  isn't a fitted bodice-and-full skirt style (those makes me feel like I'm wearing a little girl's party dress). I'm interested in the Chalk and Notch Fringe dress and Republique du Chiffon's Yvonne playsuit, but suggestions of others would be very welcome...
  • Sleeveless tops. After an exhaustive online comparison of the Grainline patterns Willow tankWiksten tank and Made by Rae's Gemma tank, I bought the Gemma pattern and have begun the surprisingly long journey towards getting a fantastic fit. So far I'm four toiles in and there's still further alterations to be made. It's going to be worth it though, to have near-perfect woven tank pattern to reach for.  
  • Shorts. At the end of last summer, I returned to Pattern Runway's Sweet shorts pattern and made a lovely navy pair, having made a denim pair previously that ended up being way too big. Annoyingly, that navy pair DO NOT fit me now, but fortunately (?) the denim ones now do! But I don't think one pair of shorts is enough as it can get pretty warm during the summer in the South of England. I've made an initial (two sizes too big!) toile of the Deer and Doe Chataigne shorts pattern, which I've had in my stash for a number of years. I'm also thinking about making a pair of Lander shorts as a way to test the fit of that pattern before I embark on a full length version. 
  • Warm tops. My lack of warm tops wasn't really highlighted during May, but it's a perpetual issue in my wardrobe that I thought I'd chuck on to the list here. After the success of my lovely anchor ponte Freya top, I'd like to make another in black ponte and I'll keep my eye out for other suitable sweater knits. It's a great item for layering with vests underneath and cardigans on top. I've also got plans to draft a great sweatshirt patterns, and I might even try out the Sew House 7 toaster sweater pattern than appears so much on the interwebs. 
  • Exercise wear. Recently, I made a commitment to myself to exercise more by going jogging and maybe yoga. I've been out jogging a couple of times of late, but my exercise wear is embarrassingly early 2000's RTW, and it does little for my motivation to get changed into it and get out there and run. I bought some plain black cotton/spandex jersey from Girl Charlee using the recent discount code (which I've used previously and loved the quality) with vague plans to make some leggings. I know that a couple of great-looking books in sewing active wear have recently been published, but I'm not at that level yet!

Phew! Now that I look back at this post, that looks like a lot of lessons I got to take on board! If you took part, what type of garments or specific patterns are now on your to-make list?

Sunday, 3 June 2018

My Me-Made-May'18: Week 5, THE END

My goodness, what a month!!! Today I'm going to share the last handful of outfits from my personal Me-Made-May challenge and share some thoughts on MMMay as a whole. Then I'll post again in the week in more detail about the lessons I took away and what I plan to do about them.



Day 28:



Day 29:



Day 30:
(Navy Cabernet cardigan when I went outside, not pictured)



Day 31:


So, wow. Last month was fantastic: I got what I was hoping to gain from my personal pledge, and so much more, which I'll write about in more detail soon. And, more broadly, I found the community aspect of MMMay this year was utterly amazing. More so than ever before, it felt like a party for the online sewing community, where we celebrated all that is awesome about what we are and what we do. I'm certain that a greater number of people participated than ever before, and in part thanks to the exposure MMMay got via the Love to Sew podcast, Sewcialists MMMay-related blog posts, and other well known sewing related businesses sharing blog posts, newsletters, Instagram stories and whatever else, the real aim of this challenge (to improve your relationship with your handmade wardrobe, and NOT just a photo challenge) seemed to be much clearer and at the forefront this year than previous years. And with so many participants sharing their thoughts and the lessons they've learnt from taking part, it has made it even easier to reflect on our own journeys towards a successful handmade wardrobe and the relationship we hope to have with our creativity, and even our own bodies. 

I have yet to start pouring over the blog posts that start to appear as the month draws to a close, where participants summarise and reflect on their challenges, but reading all that I can on Instagram has been so fun and really touching. All the fantastic outfits that have been shared have left me (and I know for sure many, many others) with mountains of inspiration of where I want to go with my own personal style in the future. And getting to peek into the daily lives of others all around the world have been fascinating and felt truly connecting. 

I'm at a bit of a turning point in my life at the moment; I am starting to see in the vague future a time where my children won't need me quite so much (my daughter is starting school this September, wah!!!). I can imagine I will have more time and headspace to figure out how I can bring in money, how I want to spend our free time, and who I want to turn into as I stare down the barrel at my 40s (I'm currently 38). This year's challenge helped me to realise that I am well on the way towards the kind of wardrobe that will dress me well and take me in some of the directions that I think I want to go. Clothes have always represented to me an exploration into, and a reflection of, the different ways I can live my life and aspects I can incorporate. And thanks to #MMMay18, I now have lots more ideas of other avenues I may want to explore. 

If you took part, I hope you had an illuminating month and lots of fun, whether you were involved in the community aspect, or simply through playing about with and rediscovering your handmade wardrobe. If you do write a blog post summarising your thoughts and discoveries, I'd love to read it so please leave me link to it so I can visit!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Flutter Sleeve Top, Dress or Romper


Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those of you who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

Today I'm featuring a couple of free sewing patterns for children that didn't feature in 'My Favourite Free Children's Sewing Patterns' post. The reason for this is that these patterns (the flutter sleeve dress and top and romper patterns by It's Always Autumn) are only for size 4T (or actually smaller, but more on that in a bit). I'm putting this info at the top of this post here because if you're sewing for bigger or much smaller kids, I'm afraid this post may not be of use to you. Many thanks to Autumn for making these patterns and tutorials available for us to use for free. 

(image source: It's Always Autumn)

Pattern types:

The top and dress pattern makes a simple 'peasant' style garment with elasticated neckline using just two patterns pieces (the front/back and the sleeve). The romper pattern is slightly more complicated with a shorts section added at the waist with another elastic casing. 

(image source: It's Always Autumn)

Sizing info:

As stated above, these patterns have been drafted for 4T. No indication has been given about what body measurements this correlates to, however there is an explanation that the pattern is drafted for her daughter who, although 3.5 years old, wears size 4 store bought clothes but is petite. Because of the style ease that's built into a top or dress like this, that pattern would probably be suitable for a variety of interpretations of 4T! My current interpretation of a 4T daughter (aged 4.5, fairly tall and slim-to-average build) fits this top well. However, if I were to make the dress version, I'd measure the length of the pattern piece before going ahead, or I'd err on the side of caution and add extra length straight away.


Spurred on by the success of the top, I rushed to print and cut out the romper pattern. Because the proportions of little girl photographed looked different to my daughter's, I added 1.5cm to the lower edge of the front and back pieces that form the top half. Sadly, when Dolores tried it on, it was wayyyy too small, particularly the shorts section, so I donated it to a friend with a 3yo daughter. Therefore, I'd say that the romper pattern would suit a three year old, or very small four year old. Which is basically the age that the pattern designer said it was drafted for, so I shouldn't have been surprised when it didn't fit Dolores!


Fabric info:

There isn't any suggestion for what type of fabric to use for the top/dress pattern, or how much you'll need, but I'd say a light-to-medium weight woven cotton, or even something more slinky like a viscose, would work well. Here I used the leftovers from my Cobra Corsage Luna pants, which is basically a cotton lawn. Cotton lawn is light-weight but a dream to work with; it responds well to pressing yet doesn't crease too horrendously. This pattern is a great scrap buster, so have a hunt through your leftovers to see what you might be able to use. I wouldn't recommend anything thicker than a lighter-weight quilting cotton though. Knit fabric could also be used (see next paragraph). 

For the romper, it is specified that knit fabric be used so it can be pulled on and off with ease. I'd say that single jersey or anything t-shirt weight would be best. I used a piece of 100% jersey (no elastane/lycra/spandex content) from my stash that didn't have very much stretch, and despite the garment not fitting, I could tell that the fabric would have worked fine. 


Findings:

The patterns are very simple without much info included on the pieces (no grain lines, notches or seam allowance reminder), but I really liked how they only required a few sheets of paper and about three seconds to cut out! I also found the shorts part of the romper pattern really clever. The front and back pieces are formed from the same pattern piece, but you cut away a section at the top when cutting the front pieces which shortens the rise. This saves time, paper and printer ink. 

The construction steps are written in the form of a tutorial in a blog post. I actually really like this (as opposed to a separate PDF for example) because I can follow along on my phone which is propped up next to my sewing machine, and I don't have to get out my laptop. The instructions are very basic, but most of the steps are illustrated by a clear photo, so I doubt it would be too challenging for anyone with a bit of sewing experience. I would have liked the construction steps to be numbered though, so you could find where you had got up to more quickly. 

What did annoy me, if I'm honest, is the amount of adverts on this blog. I know this is a really tricky subject because, after all, this designer has very kindly offered a number of patterns (and therefore masses of her time and effort) for free, and obviously I know that we all have to make money to put food on the table etc, but I found the adverts (some being animated gifs) that appear at the top, side, bottom AND in amongst the content of the actual posts, to be really distracting. It's kind of ironic that I mention this topic today, because I also received a comment from a reader recently that didn't like an advert in the side bar of my blog. Sadly, a couple of adverts, the content of which I have no say over, is the price I have to pay for the free blogger blog hosting, and I receive no revenue whatsoever from those two ads. I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty sure the ads on the It's Always Autumn blog are the revenue generating type. But like I say, we all have to eat, and it's totally your right to stick whatever you damn well like up on your blog, especially if you're offering content for free . That said, I personally found that using these tutorials with the ads, combined with the lack of numbers for the construction steps, made trying to follow the construction process not very pleasant.

But on to the finished garments. The top, I'm thrilled with. I didn't apply any trim as I felt the fabric I was using was busy enough, however applying trim is included in the instructions if you would like help in doing that. 


Customisation ideas:

  • as per the tutorial, you could try applying pompom trim along the edge of the sleeve, skirt hem or shorts hems
  • ricrac, ribbon, or braid could also be used
  • applied patch pockets or inseam pockets could be added to the dress or top
  • instead of using bias binding flipped to the inside to create the neckline elastic casing, you could create a visible elastic casing with contrast binding which encloses the raw edge
  • for the knit romper, you could cheat like I did and overlock/serge the top raw edge them turn over and stitch to make an elastic casing more quickly than applying bias binding. 
  • for the romper you could use contrasting fabric for the top half and the shorts half, creating the illusion of wearing separates. 

Would I make it again?:

I'm totally in love with this little top, and if the need for another short-sleeved top or dress became evident in Dolores's wardrobe, I'd definitely consider reaching for this pattern again. However, because it's a single size, if she doesn't require such a garment again very soon, I probably won't end up using it again. I wish I'd found these patterns last spring/summer now.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

My Me-Made-May'18: Week 4

Now that we're down to the business end of the challenge, finding unique garment combos (as per my pledge) is definitely getting trickier. I've tried a few combos that I had to change out of because they weren't working, however I reckon I can still mine some gold out of my wardrobe to take me through to the end of this month. So, in Week 4 I wore...



Day 21: 



Day 22: 
Green Suzon blouse



Day 23: 



Day 24: 
La Trop Facile jacket (not shown, when I went outside)



Day 25: 



Day 26: 



Day 27: 
Black swiss dot Scout tee (unblogged but same mods as this version)


This week's takeaways:
  • My stretch faux-denim skirt has got to go. I tried altering the waistline in the hopes that it would sit better, but I've come to accept that it just doesn't work on my shape anymore. 
  • I should finally make a bloody backpack, as I've been saying I will for the last three years. 
  • Would it hurt to spend more than zero seconds on my hairstyle each morning?

I hope your challenge is going well, if you're participating this year. Don't forget, if you've discovered some holes in your wardrobe and are making plans to fill them, there are a heap of amazing businesses offering discount codes to participants up until 31st May! 

Monday, 21 May 2018

Me-Made-May'18 Celebration Discount Codes

This year, instead of organising giveaways to celebrate Me-Made-Made, I put out a call to crafty businesses to see if any would like to offer discount codes to participants of the challenge. Holy smokes! I'm thrilled to say that we got an incredible response and I'm so grateful to all the businesses who have offered the Me-Made-May community their support in this way. I've been kindly helped by Jennifer Lauren Handmade to collate these codes, so big thanks to her as well.

So we're three weeks into the challenge now. You've probably gleaned a few revelations about your handmade wardrobe by now, and perhaps you've figured out some holes. A lack of solid coloured tops to go with all crazy print skirts seems to be a common discovery, as does work-appropriate garments, or even, dare I say it, trousers or jeans! Maybe you've figured out that some of your beloved me-mades have seen better days or no longer fit you very well (putting my hand up here to both of these!). Anyways, we have got you covered with some generous discounts on all manner of sewing patterns, fabric, yarn, notions and so on from some amazing businesses. These discounts can help you get the things you need to fill those gaps, and help you get a step closer to the stylish and well-functioning self-made wardrobe that we're all aiming for.

I'm listing these businesses alphabetically rather than geographically. This is an obvious point but I'm going to make it anyway; if you're interesting in buying a physical product (rather than a PDF pattern), please note the location of where the item will be sent from in case you occur import duties/taxes. Ask me how I know to mention this. Onto the list....



Code: MMMAY18
Valid: 25th to 27th May for 15% off fabric



Code: MeMadeMay
Valid: 25th to 31st May for 15% off everything



Code: cocowawamemademay
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off all patterns



Code: MMMAY18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off digital patterns



Code: MEMADEMAY18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 20% off all fabric and the My Handmade Wardrobe Patterns (paper and PDF)



Code: MMMay18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 20% off all garment fabric



Code: mmmay18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 10% off (please note: in addition, they will be reducing a selection of summer prints on 26th and 27th May)



Code: MMMAY18
Valid: 24th May to 7th June for 40% off all PDF sewing patterns



Code: MMMAY
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off everything



Code: MMM18
Valid: 25th to 29th May for 15% off all patterns



Code: MEMADE15
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off



Code: GCMADE15
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off



Code: MMM18
Valid: 26th and 27th May for 10% off all full priced fabric



Code: MMMAY18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 10% off individual PDF patterns



Code: MEMADEMAY18
Valid: 25th to 27th May for 15% off patterns



Code: MMM18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off



Code: MMMAY18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off



Code: JUSTPATTERNSMMM18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off 



Code: MMMAY2018
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off everything



Code: 9W18LPY
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 20% off



Marilla Walker

Code: 20MMMAY18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 20% off



Code: MMMAY25
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 25% off orders over $60 (NZD)



Code: MMM15OFF
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off



Code: MMMAY
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 20% off



Code: MMMAY18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 40% off



Code: no code necessary
Valid: 24th to 31st May for $20 off annual premium Seamwork membership



Code: MMMAY
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 20% off Liberty Tana Lawn



Code: ENDOFMMMAY
Valid: 25th to 31st May for 15% off everything



Code: MEMADE18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off



Code: MMM18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 10% off everything (not to be combined with other discounts)


Sprout Patterns

Code: MMMAY18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off everything



Code: MeMade
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off all garment fabrics



Code: MMM18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 10% off everything (excluding Janome machines)



Code: TILLYMMM
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 20% off all paper and PDF sewing patterns (excludes notions, fabrics + kits, pattern bundles and workshops)



Code: MEMADETRUE
Valid: 26th & 27th May for 15% off all PDF patterns



Code: MMMAY18
Valid: 24th to 31st May for 15% off (apparently, it will not show clearly that you have entered a code, but the 15% will be deducted from the product value)


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