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Me-Made May 2016 Pledge

Admittedly, I’ve been a little (ok, a lot) slack in my blogging of late, but I’m still excited for Me-Made May. This year more than ever, I’m hoping that Me-Made May will help to re-invigorate my sewing mojo and get me back at my machine on the reg. At the very least, hopefully it will encourage me to post some unblogged finished projects!

Assessing my wardrobe in preparation for the challenge has me concerned that some staples from previous years are now starting to look a little tired and worn. Here’s hoping the challenge will help push me to fix what can be fixed and replace what can’t. So, without further ado, here’s my pledge:

‘I, Eileen of ‘Crafty Little Secret’, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear one me-made clothing item each day for the duration of May 2016. I will take pictures daily and post a round-up here once a week. 

Here we go….

Channeling Jeanie Bueller: My First Granville

I didn’t set out to channel Jeanie Bueller, but as I was working away on my top Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came on tv and my husband called to me, “That’s just like your shirt!”

jeannie bueller

And it kinda is.Sewaholic Granville front hanging

I bought this fabric along with another selection with the intent of making myself some collared shirts for the office. It can be so hard to find ready-t0-wear button up blouses that fit my bust, let alone ones that are also in a fun print!

This is my first collared shirt and, I gotta say, I’m pretty impressed with myself for making such a wearable muslin. I used the Sewaholic Granville pattern and the instructions were pretty clear and easy to follow. With the exception, that is, of the cuffs.

As I was inserting the sleeves into the cuff pieces, on both sides I ended up with too much sleeve fabric compared to cuff, as though there should have been a pleat. But the pattern didn’t call for a pleat. I’m not quite sure what I did. Did I somehow sew the sleeve placket incorrectly? Was there supposed to be a pleat and I was just missing it? Anyway, I ended up just adding a pleat. Done and done.

Sewaholic Granville sleeve placket

I was particularly afraid of the collar, but I didn’t need to be. Turns out, it’s not so bad! A little rough perhaps on the collar stand, but not at all bad for a first go.

Sewaholic Granville collar detail

The thing I was most impressed with, however, was the button placket.

Sewaholic Granville button stanceOooooooooh! Aaaaaaaaah! Have you ever seen such straight and even top-stitching? Such perfectly spaced buttons? Such just-the-right-size button holes?

Sewaholic Granville back hanging

My main error in stitching up this pattern, I think, is in the sizing. My bust is usually one size larger than my waist, which is usually one size large then my hips, when selecting pattern sizes. Instead of doing a proper full bust adjustment, I just graded this pattern accordingly.

Sewaholic Granville back

It’s not terrible, but it left me with more room in the back than I need and larger (and longer!) sleeves than I need.

Sewaholic Granville sleeves

The Granville pattern also flares out a lot in the hips, much more than I need it too. I think that in my next iteration I will cut even more fabric out of the hips and, for this top, I am still considering darts. While a looser or boxier shirt can be flattering on many people, for me it often just makes me look like a giant cylinder. As though my whole body is the same circumference as my bust. Next time I sew this, doing the full bust adjustment instead of grading might also help.

Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com - Channeling Jeannie Bueller, Sewaholic Granville shirt

My last couple projects (I’ve been sewing, just not blogging), have been a little more complicated lately. This shirt was fun, but it also made me realize that I have different sewing moods. Sometimes I want a technical sew. Something that requires precision or teaches me a new technique. But, more often than not, I just want to sew! Whipping up a new t-shirt can bring me just as much satisfaction if I’m in the mood for it.

Lately, I’ve been delighting in the repetitive cutting and sewing of a simple quilt….

Me-Made May 2015 Roundup (Finally)

Well kids, it’s been a whirlwind Me-Made May this year. So much so, that I’m posting about it halfway through June! I did follow my pledge and wear me-mades everyday, but I didn’t manage to snap pictures of all of them. I also followed my pledge and (almost) finished the pants I’ve been working on (they literally just need a button and a buttonhole and they’re done). I did not, however, follow my pledge to post outfit photos weekly. No sir, I did not.

Anyhoo, without further ado, here’s the roundup:

Me Made May 2015 Roundup

 

I’ve gotta tell ya, we had some good times this past month, me and my me-mades….

Savannah….we started out the month in Savannah, GA. This dress has never been more perfect for any occasion….

Cal Academy……we checked out the California Academy of Sciences……

Picnic……we had a picnic with friends in Alamo Square…..

Book of Mormon.…….we finally saw Book of Mormon……..

NOLA……and we finished out the month in New Orleans.

Good job to everyone who participated in this year’s Me-Made May. I was pretty slack on my posting (in that I didn’t do it), but I’ve loved seeing everyone else out and about in their me-mades!

Me-Made May ’15

Hello, old friend! It’s been a while.

It’s that time of year again…..Me-Made May! I’m going to try to wear a me-made item every day, but I’m honestly not too sure how it’s going to go. A lot of my handmade wardrobe is on the casual side because I wasn’t working at my peak sewing time, and was working in an academic lab before that (all jeans and bleach stains…). Now I work in an office and need to look at least a little professional every day.

The other confounding factor is that I’ve felt a bit low on sewing mojo lately, for a few reasons. The main one is that I’ve done something terrible and ungodly to my back. It now hates me and occasionally sends shooting pains into my right leg, like lightening bolts into my butt cheek. It is locked in a battle of will against my chiropractor. Time will tell who wins the war. In the meantime, sitting for too long hurts and at the end of the day I’m too exhausted to do much more than flop on my couch.

So this year, my two Me-Made May goals are; 1) to find ways to mix my handmade wardrobe into my work wardrobe, and 2) to get back to the sewing machine. With that in mind, I’m making the following pledge:

 ‘I, Eileen of Crafty Little Secret, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2015 and to finally finish my half-sewn dress pants’

I’m going to take daily photos and post a weekly update of how I’m doing.

Happy May everyone!

I Dream of Jasper…

Crafty Little Secret - Paprika patterns Jasper dress - www.craftylittlesecret.comEven though I live in California, I still dream of warm cozy clothes in the winter. This winter I had been fantasizing about a funky sweatshirt dress that had some element of style that would make it special. I was thinking kangaroo pocket, I was thinking cowl neck. And I didn’t know it yet, but I was thinking Jasper.

I had pinned Paprika PatternsJasper hoodie before it was a pattern for sale. So imagine my delight when I found that not only had the hoodie been made into a pattern for public consumption, but that the pattern also included a dress and/or cowl option.

Crafty Little Secret - Paprika Patterns Jasper Dress - www.craftylittlesecret.com

In other news, I don’t know what’s with my camera. My photos were just poor quality this shoot 😦

Shortly after I bought the pattern for my Jasper dress, I saw Gillian’s blue version.  Wise woman that she is, Gillian advised me to cut a size smaller than I thought I needed because the pattern runs large. But I laughed in the face of wisdom! Then promptly spent the remainder of my time sizing down the pattern…. Ooops! In the end I took about an inch out of the back seams and all the way down the arms. I also brought the front seams in under the bust, but left them as-is at the actual bust and around the hips.

Extra fabric where I didn’t need it, and none where I did! Despite the pattern’s clear statement that this dress was intended for a 5’7″ frame, my 5’10” self cut the pattern straight out of the package without adding any additional length. I guess I’m not wearing this one to work!

Crafty Little Secret - Paprika Pattern Jasper dress - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Some other pattern instuction that should definitely be heeded, is fabric selection. This pattern requires true heavy sweatshirt fabric to hold up the structure in the neck (or hood), and there are great suggestions on the Paprika Patterns blog to help you find the right stuff. I found mine on Fabric.com and, again, decided to ignore the wisdom of those who came before me that informed me the fabric was lighter in person than it appeared online. That’s ok, I still like it.

I would also advise others to heed the pattern suggestion to use a lighter weight cotton jersey (instead of fleece) for the inner lining of the kangaroo pocket. Even with the lightweight lining, you can still see the lines a little on my dress.

Crafty Little Secret - Paprika Patterns Jasper dress - www.craftylittlesecret.comSpeaking of which, this pattern also marked a delightful first for me – my first welt pocket! I experienced a decided lack of vision with this part of the pattern and just couldn’t quite imagine how it would come together, even after looking at the instructional photos. But, I trusted in the instructions and, perhaps fool-heartedly, cut my pattern without first doing a practice run, and… it worked! My only ‘whoopsie’ was my use of a non-washable marker to mark my fabric pieces without realizing the marks would be visible in the final product. Meh, they’re just specks!

Crafty Little Secret - Paprika Patterns Jasper dress - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe one part of construction that I struggled with a little was top stitching the epaulet. I just found it difficult to sew through the thick layers of sweatshirt without distorting the shape of it. That’s ok, the adorable vintage wooden button I found in Portland a couple years ago will distract the eye from any imperfections! (I knew I was right to hoard random buttons…)

I finished up my dress in a weekend or so and concocted a plan as to what would be the perfect debut for Jasper…..a local sewing meetup at Britex Fabrics! Or, erm, what would have been the perfect debut if I hadn’t written down the wrong time and showed up just as the meetup was ending! Noooooo! But don’t cry for me Argentina, because I showed up at the meetup just in time to still get my 20% off coupon for Britex….which I promptly spent on some gorgeously soft black bamboo rayon (classic wrap dress, here I come!). Suggestions for the perfect wrap dress sewing pattern are welcome….

Crafty Little Secret - Paprika Patterns Jasper dress - www.craftylittlesecret.com

 

Happy New Year! #sewingtop5

Top 5 2014

Last year I loved using Gillian’s Top 5 List as an excuse to look back at all I’d accomplished over the year, so I knew I wanted to do it again this year. I’ve loved the reflections I’ve seen on other sewing blogs and am amazed and some of the gorgeous things people have made in 2014, especially when you see them all lined up in a row! (I mean, how does Oona even find the time for this much awesome?)

I’m not going to make any hard and fast goals for next year because I’m still trying to figure out how to keep finding the time to sew regularly now that I’m back to work. I think you can probably expect to see simpler sewing from me. I’ve got a half-made pair of pants on my sewing table that I’ll finish up, but I’ve found I’m just not that interested in complicated projects when I have less time to sew overall. That being said, I still wanted to take this opportunity to look back on the year and to share with you my Top 5 Misses and Hits of 2014.

MISSES:

5? Just kidding! What a nice feeling to look back on what I’ve made in 2014 and realized that I couldn’t quite fill the “misses” column! Here’s my Top four misses of the year:

4. Vogue 1152 Blouse
v1152 sewing pattern front
I’m a little sad to see this one on my Misses List. I fell in love with this fabric at Britex when I saw someone else buying some, and I bought it for myself on a whim. I researched and planned and came up with what I thought would be the perfect use for it as a flouncy blouse. But for some reason I just don’t wear this blouse. I don’t quite know what it is. Could be that it’s colors I don’t usually wear; could be that despite raising the neckline by a couple inches my cleavage still manages to peak out; could be that I don’t have a sweater that fits over the sleeves. Whatever it is, this poor much-anticipated blouse doesn’t get pulled out of the closet too often.

3. Blue Afternoon Skirt
Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon SkirtI think this skirt can be saved, but it’s on the list for now. Unfortunately, I tried to do a yoga pant waistband without doing any research about how to do that or what type of fabric to use. This jersey was nice and stable, but it just doesn’t have enough recovery so after I’ve worn it for an afternoon, it’s stretched out and the skirt starts falling down. But, even as is, it’s a nice around-the- neighborhood alternative to jeans or yoga pants and like I say, I think I can fix it. I just need to come up with a new waist band that won’t add bulk…..

2. Borneo Beret
Crafty Little Secret - Borneo Beret - craftylittlesecret.comThis beret was not long for this world, but it served its purpose. It kept my hands busy on the flights to and from Borneo (hence the name). This just fit my head so strangely, I never even wore it out of the house and unwound it shortly after taking these photos. I haven’t gotten around to knitting another hat out of it but just shrunk my previous knit hat, so that’s good incentive to get knitting!

1.  Mathilde blouse #2

Mathilde blouse front

It is not a good sign when *this* is the face you make when wearing a shirt you made. I look like I’m being held at gunpoint and trying to mouth “Call 9-1-1” without my captors noticing.

I hate this shirt. I wore it once to fill in my Me Made May wardrobe, then never wore it again. I truly don’t understand how a pattern that easily made the 2013 Hits List can so decidedly claim the 2014 Miss List top spot. Oh wait, yes I can. It’s a little thing I like to call “tragic fabric selection”. This is going in the Goodwill pile in the hopes that there’s a pediatric nurse out there needs some new scrubs.

HITS:

5. Tie-Dye Maxi – Vogue 8469

Vogue 8469

This dress was exactly what I wanted this summer. Ok, well not exactly. What I was really obsessed with was indigo shibori dying (which I still haven’t gotten around to trying out despite having a friend who did a ton of it a few months ago and offered to share his dye batch with me), but this dress scratched the itch and made me happy. And the fabric doesn’t wrinkle. So clutch.

4. The Ele-Fun Refashion
Elephant shirt refashion
I was pretty pleased with how this turned out. This is the third iteration of this fabric and it’s definitely the one I’ve worn the most. The only reason this didn’t land higher on the list is because it’s *still* a little difficult for me to wear. San Francisco is such a cardigan climate and I just don’t have one in my current wardrobe that goes with this top. But I’ve worn it under a navy blue blazer a couple times and looked pretty cute. And let’s not forget that this shirt was featured on the Refashionista blog, so that was pretty fun!

3. Oonapalooza: Tangerine Dream
Oonapalooza Sew AlongThank you again, Oona, for the inspiration! I stitched this one up as my contribution to Oonapalooza. This is not a color I normally wear but this dress was a resounding success! It’s a nice light and soft cotton and so comfortable to wear. I’m proud of this dress because it was my first real attempt to alter a pattern and do some fitting. I did a full bust adjustment and lowered the neckline at the back and front. The only thing keeping this dress from being higher on the list are some construction mistakes. I used a frustratingly slippery fabric for the lining that caused for a bit of strange fitting at the front, and did a poor job of sewing the zipper in.

2. Aqua Goodwill Refashion
refashion after frontThis top was definitely a surprise hit. I made it on a bit of a whim, just kinda winging it, and to be honest I didn’t love it when I first finished it. But I wear it SO MUCH. It filled a hole in my wardrobe that I didn’t know existed. It is a comfy, easy-to-throw-on, weekend shirt that just makes me look a wee bit more pulled together than a t-shirt would. It’s currently sitting in my repairs pile as I tore a little hole in it but I’ll definitely be pulling this one out to wear in 2015.

1. Denim Miette Skirt
Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.comThis skirt is a newbie to my wardrobe but earned top billing by fulfilling exactly the role in my wardrobe that I wanted it to! I wear this skirt to work at least once a week and it’s a super cute and super comfy alternative to jeans. It’s bound to get a ton more wear in 2015….especially since I got three new pairs of brightly colored tights for Christmas!

 

Denim Miette Skirt

Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt, a Tilly and the Buttons pattern - www.craftylittlesecret.com

I’m not normally much of a ‘skirt person’. For some reason I can never figure out how to strike the happy balance between business and casual. But when I saw some denim Miette’s popping up I thought it would be the perfect solution (just in time for fall in San Francisco)!

And gosh darn it, I think I was right!

Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt, a Tilly and the Buttons pattern - www.craftylittlesecret.comI wore this skirt around for two days before I took the pictures, so please excuse the wrinkles.

The pattern is the Miette Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. The skirt came together incredibly easily. Except for the part where I figured that since the Mathilde blouse, which is also a Tilly pattern, is always too short so I added 5 inches to the pattern length.

I then promptly sewed a 5 inch hem. Tee hee! Oh well, I actually prefer the look of a tall hem on this skirt.

Oh. Before I get too far into this I guess I should mention the fabric. I bought this in-store and whenever that happens I never have the full information. But I can tell you that it’s a lightweight stretch denim and boy oh boy does the dye ever rub off! I washed it once before sewing and it turned my finger tips thoroughly blue every time I worked on it. I washed it again before wearing and turned my hands blue every time I put them in those big comfy pockets. Then I washed it again and I think I might have finally got it to a point where it’s not rubbing off on things.

But I’m still not wearing it on my light blue couch. Oh heck no.

While we’re on the subject of those big comfy pockets, let’s get a closer look, shall we?

Crafty Little Secret - denim Miette skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Although it’s not in the instructions, I decided to top-stitch around the bottom edge of the pockets and all the way down all the skirt seams. I think this does two things: 1) it looks a little more polished and 2) it adds a bit more strength and stability to those pockets.

I also lined the pockets with some super cute scraps that I had used to make my mother-in-law a set of cloth napkins.

Crafty Little Secret - Jay-Cyn Designs for Birch Organics, Elk FarmI forget what the color is called, but it is a Jay-Cyn Designs for Birch Organics fabric from the Elk Grove collection. And while this color seems to be gone, there are still some others available on FabricWorm where I bought this.

I also used the same fabric as seam binding on the back flap of the skirt because I thought it’d be cute. But, I dunno. I could take it or leave it. Sometimes I think I would have preferred just a double fold clean edge there. So that is one thing I would caution people about making this skirt is that that back flap hem will be a bit visible, so it should be finished neatly.

Crafty Little Secret www.craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.comAs you can see in the photo below, the wrap-around skirt also sometimes leads to a bit of wonkiness at the hem, but I’d say that’s a function of wrap skirts in general and not this pattern in particular.

Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.com

I would say the only thing I struggled with at all during the construction of this dress was really just the waist tie. I think my fabric choice was a bit heavier in weight than Tilly had intended so I found it really difficult to squeeze my tie through the narrow hole left in the waistband. The bright side of that scenario is that it’s really hard to pull the tie back out too so it stays in there during the wash, so, there’s that.

I gotta tell ya. Overall I am pleasantly surprised with how cute I feel while wearing this! And it’s a great excuse to wear these mustard yellow tights that just don’t normally get thrown into the mix.

I’m not sure I’ll make another for a while, simply because how many wrap skirts does one really need?, but I really liked this pattern. You’re 2 for 2 so far Tilly, good job!

Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.com

And just as a little side note to all you bloggers out there with a desk job, I don’t know how you do it! The only thing I’m more behind in than my sewing projects right now is blogging about them! I mean, I didn’t even blog our Mr and Mrs Potatohead Halloween costumes from this year! [checks forehead for evidence of fever] And these short days aren’t helping. God help ya if you need to take some photos and you don’t take advantage of some weekend daylight….. That said, hopefully I’ll be posting a little more regularly after the Holiday Season.