Monday, 5 May 2014

Spring/Summer Sewing Strategies

(image source: Sewionista)

A month or so ago I was emailing with Jen about ideas for posts that might be useful or interesting for Me-Made-May'14 participants to read during the challenge. An awesome idea Jen came up with was writing about creating clothing for the seasons we are coming into as May descends in our corners of the globe. You can read Jen's fascinating take on creating clothing for Autumn/Winter in the Southern Hemisphere here. Which left me thinking about the weather we currently have here in the Northern Hemisphere and how best to fill our wardrobes with suitable clothing...

I swiftly realised that that is just too big a topic to cover! The Mays I enjoyed whilst living in Barcelona for example, are no doubt entirely different to the Mays going on in Canada, for example. So I thought it would be interesting to throw the question out to various points of the Northern Hemisphere's blogosphere: 'How do you approach clothing to make and wear for around this time of the year?'. Just to clarify that despite the title of this post, I'm of course not just talking about sewing, I just can't resist a bit of alliteration. 

(image source: Roobeedoo)

Ruth in Scotland (pictured above):

"Spring (or Summer) in Northern Scotland can sometimes feel more like a Southern English winter. Just the other day (end of April) I was walking along thinking "This feels like a Brixton February morning: frosty, with the sun fighting to get through the fog". As a result, I sew heaps of optimisitic sleeveless or short-sleeved tops in bright cottons... and then have to pile on layers of wool to keep warm. 

Despite an addiction to knitting, I suffer from a severe shortage of work-appropriate handknit cardigans. Every me-made month I come to the same conclusion: I need to knit more full-sized woolies instead of heaps of socks and scarves. So a garment I expect to wear a lot this May is my handknitted Audrey in Unst cardigan. It is made out of locally-spun wool knitted at a fine gauge. It has enough structure to look smart for work, but left unbuttoned it appears quite relaxed. It goes with everything! But that doesn't let me off the hook - I really really need to buckle down to knitting another!"

Tasha in USA (pictured above):

"If I had to pick a theme for dressing in May, it would be versatility, which to me means layers. I usually spend a lot of the month traveling around the US, selling my husband’s photography, visiting friends and camping out in various cities and parks, and with my wardrobe limited by what will fit in our truck (read more about our life on the road here). I feel like adding travel just adds another level of unpredictability to what is already a transitional time with a lot of varied weather. My strategy for what to make and wear for all of this is what I learned growing up in the mountain Southwest, where temps vary hugely from day to night: dress in layers. I have several lightweight tops, a couple of sweaters and a soft jacket that I can wear all together under my rain jacket if it’s really cold, or in various other combinations. One of my goals for MMM’14 is to knit a light cardigan to replace one that’s been a staple of my layering for many years! 

The undisputed most-worn garment of my MMM’13 was my purple corduroys. Last year, we had more cool and rainy days in May than usual, and I wore these pants/trousers all the time. I think a good pair of pants is essential for transitional weather, they work for warmer and cooler days (with different tops of course) and even with long johns underneath if it’s cold. I now have a new pair of me-made trousers, which I expect to get a lot of wear this May!"

(image source: Dedal, Aguja E Hilo)

Mari in Northern Spain (pictured above): 

"As soon as you asked me to talk about an essential garment for Spring I didn't thought about a dress or a jacket, I thought in an accessory, a foulard. Weather in Barcelona on May can be unpredictable and a foulard is a good choice, it is an elegant accessory. It warms my neck in the early morning or I cover my shoulders if the air conditioner is too high. I have a good foulard collection but this one is my favourite, it's silk and I painted it ten years ago, I still love it."

(image source: Sewionista)

Julia in Germany (pictured above and at top of post):

"Here in Southern Germany, Bavaria to be exact, May can be kind of unpredictable. Last year was very cold and rainy, this year it will probably be very warm if April is an indicator. In addition, the temperature shifts a lot during the day. Mornings and evenings are still quite cold while it might already be summery during the day. So it is necessary here to wear layers most days that work for walking to work in the morning as well as sitting in the warm office during the day. Since it is often still too cold for bare legs, my usual outfit consists of pants, T-shirt/top and a light jacket or blazer. After the long winter I'm always really sick of dark colours and thus I tend to go for light/pastel colours during this time. I also noticed that I really gravitate towards floral prints once it gets warmer. Pieces I have worn a lot last spring/summer were these floral pants and this white jacket. The colours and print of the pants put me instantly in a good mood and they work well with differents tops. The jacket is made from cotton and unlined, which makes it perfect for spring/summer and in white it fits into every spring/summer outfit. I also really like this type of short jacket/blazer because it can be combined with pants as well as with skirts and dresses. 

When I plan a new wardrobe for a new season, it helps me to create a Polyvore-board of my sewing plan. This prevents me from getting distracted or sidetracked which normally happens a lot with all the great inspiration on the blogosphere. It is important for me that the pieces on my sewing plan complete my already existing wardrobe and can be combined with each other. They also have to fit my life and style, which is mostly casual as I don't have to follow any dress code at work."

(image source: Aventuras de Costuras)

Merche in Southern Spain (pictured above): 

"Where I live, in the South of Spain, Spring is almost non-existent. That means you go from wearing your coat one day and in a week's time you'll be dressed in your summer clothes. That usually happens in the middle of May. Up in the North is a complete different thing: you always, always need a light cardigan or a jacket to have around when the night falls. One garment that I made and find very useful and wearable during this Spring-Summer period is a maxi dress I wore on many occasions. I think that due to the neutral colours and the shape of it, it can easily go from formal with high heels and a shiny bolero as I wore it to a wedding, to more hippy-like style with a denim jacket and flip-flops. It is, quite frankly the most worn item in my summer wardrobe!"

Erin in Canada (pictured above):

"My strategy for the springtime is definitely layers! I'm all about layering clothes so you're always prepared to keep up with temperature changes through the day. For me this means it's time to make scarfs in spring colours (crochet or fabric), and it's time to make light jackets and light shirts to go under the jackets. Then, when the really hot weather comes along, you can ditch your scarf and jacket and have a nice light top.

A light jacket that I have been living in recently is my Islander Sewing System denim jacket- I've been wearing it with sweaters and long sleeves right now, but I predict that I will be wearing it constantly with t-shirts and tank tops underneath, and lighter scarves! - - and I think this is a really great example of what I will be wearing this May, and it includes my jacket, which I know will be my go-to piece!"

And myself? I agree with the layerettes, it's all about the layers for me. Looking back at previous MMMay's, I have to say it's my Captain Jacket that has proven the most used and the most useful. If I remember correctly it was something of a faff to make, but in terms of the ratio of 'hours to make : hours worn' (yes, that's a thing) it was totally worth it. 


Lovenicky said...

Oh this is so cool! I love seeing how other people dress in between the seasons! I'm all for layering as well as our temperatures recently has been between 0 and 12 Celsius. Who knows? May be next week it will be in the 20s!

fabric epiphanies said...

Interesting post. I am in New Zealand and where I live, we are currently experiencing daytime temps between 12and 21 degrees Celsius. Layers are key as are raincoats because autumn can be quite a wt season.

Scruffybadger said...

Really interesting and celebrates the global thing that is me made may. :-)

Alex said...

Really nice to read all the different styles in both hemispheres...what they all have in common is layers, even if it's only a scarf...going back 53 years ago In Germany I wanted to wear a summerish outfit my mother had made for my 6th birthday on 9th May. I sooo wanted to wear this white and green patterned gathered waist pinafore dress with knot tie shoulders and a little red puff short sleeved blouse to wear under. I suppose it was slightly fashioned on the traditional dress called a Dirndl. This has so stayed in my mind as it was the year we immigrated to Australia .
Saturday we needed coats it was so cold, today the sun was warm again. Definitely Layers for Autumn.

Alexa from Sydney, Australia blogging at

Sarah said...

What a great post! I really like seeing everyone's perspectives.

I live in Southern Ontario, Canada and the spring weather is unpredictable, to say the least! It can go from 3C and rainy to 18C and sunny! I wear a lot of layers, of course, and always wear a warm cardigan and crochet foulard for extra warmth.

Dawn WH said...

Really enjoyed reading this post. I adore anything seasonal and I loved reading how others from across the globe prepare for spring. I hope you do this for the other 3 seasons also :)
I stumbled across your blog the other day and loved it!

Philippa said...

I liked reading this article. It seems as though May is in between season in lots of places around the globe, be it with ascending or descending temperatures. The main thing I learnt last May was that it can be unexpectedly cold here in the UK, even if the sun is shining. Yay to layers!!

gingermakes said...

Oh, how fun! It's so cool to read all the different strategies for dealing with the in-between weather that seems very common around the world in May!

Abby said...

I do what you're absolutely not supposed to do. :) I don't think about sewing something until I'm getting dressed one day and realize that what I really need for this weather is a lightweight dress and a blazer, then I rush to my stash, set aside whatever I was sewing before, and break out new fabric and patterns for whatever item it was I need to wear right now. Which, of course, given how slow a sewer I am, I won't have finished until the weather has passed and I need something else to wear! :)

~GG~ said...

What an interesting post! Thank you so very much for sharing all these different perspectives. It's amazing how similar our worlds are yet we are miles apart.

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