Summer Night Lights Geranium Dress

Geranium numero deux.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comThis one is a surprise gift for a friend’s little girl. I’ll be visiting next month and staying with them for a few days so I thought it would be a nice way to say ‘Thanks’. I went pretty simple on this one: simple neckline, no sleeves. Though I did add some piping to give a little separation to the bodice. 

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI actually made the piping myself and it was my first time doing so! I figured it would be too much of a pain in the butt to find matching piping so I just went ahead and cut about an inch and a half off the bottom of some leftover fabric and sewed up my own. It did end up getting a little wrinkled and bunched up in spots, I think either because I didn’t stitch tightly enough against the piping innards or because I improvised the innards (some of it was actually piping cord and some of it was just some elastic cord I had lying around that was about the same diameter). I probably should have exercised a little patience and watched a tutorial or two, but all in all I think it turned out pretty well.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI was taking forever trying to decide which fabric to buy (seriously consider this Fantasy Forest print from Michael Miller) and when I showed my husband the options he was like, “Pfft. No contest.” So I went with this Summer Night Lights print by Michael Miller. The fabric was a double-edged panel which was great because I only had to buy 1 yard of fabric total to sew this dress up in size 2T.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comAs with the last time I made the Geranium dress, since this was for a gift I wanted to finish it nicely. I also wanted to keep it a nice, cool summer dress and didn’t want to line it. Instead, I opted to finish the seam allowances with ribbon, a first for me!Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI’ve always admired how lovely finished seams look on other people’s projects and I gotta tell ya, I think it’s looking pretty slick here too. Maybe I’ll start finishing more of my projects this way.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI opted to use pink buttons on the back closure because I thought it would nicely highlight the pink flowers in the bottom border print. Originally I wanted the buttons to be little pink flowers but they were all sold out of the ones I wanted at the fabric store and I’m far too impatient to look elsewhere!

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.com

Fabric: Michael Miller’s Wee Wander Summer Night Lights, Double Border Twilight
S
ource: Fabric.com
Yardage: 1 yard
Pattern: Made By Rae, Geranium Dress

Finding My Style…..

I haven’t posted anything in nearly three weeks because I’m frozen with indecision. I’m on a budget right now and trying really hard to work with what I already own but I can’t quite decide what to make. I’m craving something with pattern (as would be appropriate considering Oonapalooza is happening right now) but everything I have in my stash is boring solids.

To help find some inspiration I took a look at a Pinterest board I started to help me define my style (inspired by this post by Tilly and further encouraged by some of the Wardrobe Architect posts).

Crafty Little Secret - Finding My Style craftylittlesecret.com

I’ve found three distinct styles that I’m drawn to (that may or may not be represented in my current wardrobe).

1. Bohemian
Crafty Little Secret - Bohemian Inspiration craftylittlesecret.comThis should come to no surprise to anyone who read my sewing retrospective post since I spent a good part of my teenaged life searching thrift store racks for Bohemian finds. I don’t think I have a ton of this in my wardrobe right now, me-made or otherwise, though I guess my latest maxi picks up on the tie-dye.

2. Vintage/Mod

Crafty Little Secret Vintage/Mod Inspiration craftylittlesecret.comLike many fellow sewing bloggers I have a definite vintage lean to my tastes but I don’t like anything too twee (just learned that word, LOL!). I tend to like vintage looks that have a bit of a mod look to them and I’ve definitely got a fair amount of this in my RTW wardrobe including a dress I’d count as my “signature style”.

3. Nautical Military Punk
Crafty Little Secret - Nautical Military Punk Inspiration - craftylittlesecret.com
Nautical military punk. Because that’s a style, right? What I notice most about the garments in this category is that, with the exception of the occasional skull, stripe or submarine, this inspiration manifests mainly in outerwear and accessories.

Looking at my three main favorite style categories, any two put together compliment each other. You can go Bohemian mod, or Bohemian military, but probably not all three. Growing up tall I’ve always felt self-conscious whenever I try to dress too cutesy and I tend to use the nautical military punk style as a way to avoid this. A dash of cheekiness added to a dose of adorable.

I’m not really sure how this analysis will inform my future sewing decisions, or if it will at all. And of course, this only takes into consideration what I lust after, not what I actually wear. Maybe I’ll just use this all as inspiration. I’ve already been thinking it would be fun to make a gathered Mathilde blouse with Bohemian embroidery embellishments. And as I reflected at the end of MMM’14, I look better when I’m not just wearing jeans and a tee.

Maybe I should go through the Wardrobe Architect exercises and work on a color palette for my wardrobe to try to nail things down more? Has anyone else done an exercise like this? How has it informed your sewing and pattern choices (or has it)?

 

100th Blog Post Vintage Pattern Giveaway: Winner!

And the winner is………..

…………….[drum roll]……………

WinnerJennifer, email me at ilenclanky@gmail.com with your mailing address and I will get your patterns to you. Congratulations!

And thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway or just stopped by to offer kind words of encouragement. The sewist blogging community is so inspiring, supportive and full of talent, I am constantly blown away with the amazing garments that you come up with. Keep up the awesome everyone!

 

Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage: “Sangria”

Crafty Little Secret - Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comAs evidence of just how much I love this pattern, when I was working on this post I created a folder called “Bronte Tops” and put this one in the sub-folder “Sangria”. I’m just so sure that I’ll be making more of them!

Bronte is the newest pattern from Jennifer Lauren Vintage and she is the most flattering t-shirt EVER!!!!!! While I sewed up this Sangria Bronte within, like, 2.4 milliseconds after the pattern’s release, Jennifer is currently hosting a Bronte Sew Along with tons of tips for sewing with knits. So if you haven’t bought the pattern yet, here’s your excuse! (Jennifer is not paying me to say this and, in fact, has no idea who I am. I am just a girl who sewed this pattern and loves it.)

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte topJennifer suggests using a medium weight knit with good recovery and about 40% stretch for this pattern (a detailed description of how to choose your fabric is included in the pattern). It was perfect for some beautifully intense knit fabric my mom gave me for Christmas (along with the blue fabric I used on my Blue Afternoon skirt). With a beautiful color like this, I decided to name the top “Sangria”!

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comAs is often the case, I forgot to transfer the pattern markings on half my top so I was guessing a bit with the shoulder construction. As you can see, it just doesn’t quite sit flat at my shoulders. You can see the pulling a bit where the front panel is sewn to the back (arrows).

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comI opted to use some emerald knit left over from my Eva dress to add a little pop to the neckline and couldn’t resist sewing on a few little button details too. I knew I was saving those mini scraps for something!

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte TopOne of the things I love most about this top is the shape it gives me. I’ve got the bust handled, but from waist to hips I’m pretty much just a tube. The shape of this top is really very flattering from the back (even more so when I remember to adjust myself and smooth the wrinkles before taking photos!

Jennifer gives the option of using a twin needle to finish the hems and neckbands, which I took because I can’t resist the opportunity to use a twin needle. I found that my hem stuck out a little too far (I ended up taking 2″ out of the side seams at the bottom of the top) and the hems on my sleeves stick out in a bell shape a wee bit too. I’m not sure if this is due to using a heavy fabric or perhaps I am stretching my fabric as I sew? Maybe Jennifer will include tips about dealing with these hems during her Sew Along.

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.coAnother final note on this pattern. I’m 5’10”, a little long in the body and I like my tops to hit mid-fly on my jeans. I added 2″ to the length of this pattern and it is pretty perfect.

Also, you’ve only got two more days to enter my Vintage Sewing Pattern giveaway celebrating my 100th blog post. Contest closes Wednesday June 25 at midnight (PST) and the winner will be announced Thursday June 26.

Now to go back to searching for the perfect print for my next Bronte top…..

Pattern: Bronte top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage

Total Time: Including cutting and modifications, about 4 hours
Fabric:
– 1.3 yards medium weight knit
– scraps from Eva dress for neckband
Size: 20
Modifications: 
– added 2″ to length
– took in waist by 1″ and hips by 2″

100th Blog Post Extravaganza!!!!!: Sewing Retrospective + Vintage Sewing Pattern Giveaway

Crafty Little Secret Vintage Sewing Pattern GiveawayIt’s my 100th blog post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To celebrate, I decided to do a little giveaway! But more about that at the end of the post. First, I’m going to make you read a walk down memory lane…

Reaching my 100th blog post got me all nostalgic. I went back through my blog and I was actually amazed at (and proud of) what I’ve made over the past two years. It got me thinking about my relationship with sewing – a lifelong off again, on again love affair (that is in full swing right now).

(****Faces have been blurred to protect the (not so) innocent and because I’m sure not everyone wants their mug plastered all over the interwebs)

This was basically my uniform was I was 13.

This was basically my uniform was I was 13.

Like a lot of little girls my very first sewing projects were hand-sewing Barbie clothes with scraps of fabric my mom gave me. But the first time I sewed something for myself on a machine was in Home Ec. in middle school when we learned to sew simple boxer shorts. My best friend and I both loved it! At the time, the photo above pretty accurately represents our daily color-blocked uniform. We went crazy that summer sewing up a bunch of random shorts – I remember some Flintstones patterned and some picnic ant covered pairs in particular. At 12 or 13 I was really just starting to develop my own style for the first time. I think sewing our crazy shorts gave us a chance to express ourselves and find our own unique look. Over the next couple years we’d sew a little here and there making Halloween costumes and outfits for our school’s lipsynching contest but then as I moved on to high school I drifted away from sewing for a few years.

I started shopping at thrift stores and in my parents' closets.

I started shopping at thrift stores and in my parents’ closets. This blouse came out of my mom’s closet and I loved it so much!

Instead, in high school I found thrift shopping as my way of expressing myself through my wardrobe. I became obsessed with styles from the 60’s and 70’s (and still am, though now I’m more partial to mod looks while back then I was fully committed to scruffy hippie) and would buy anything I could find with bell bottoms or wide lapels (or both, as is the case in the photo below). My parents were 100% on board with their teenage daughter announcing that she would only buy used clothes and happily handed over the $50 in September that would cover all my back-to-school shopping at Value Village.

Don't worry, this outfit was actually for a Halloween Disco dance.....though the coat was stolen from my dad's closet and was something I wore regularly.

Don’t worry, this outfit was actually for a Halloween Disco dance…..though the coat and belt were stolen from my dad’s closet and were items wore regularly.

If you’re going to be a serious thrifter it definitely helps to be able to sew! I’m an O.G. Refashioner, I guess. I would embroider little daisies to embellish the bottom of my bell bottoms or change pussy bows on dresses into waist ties. Lots of my clothes would see a few iterations: they’d start as a pair of pants and as I grew up I would cut them into shorts, then as I grew out I would sew side panels of contrasting fabric.

The final incarnation of a beloved pair of grey cords.

The final incarnation of a beloved pair of grey cords.

What really got me back into sewing for realsies though, was prom. I was still in my hippie phase and couldn’t find anything in the thrift stores that would work. Until, that is, I stumbled upon an amazing bold, bright and beautiful heavy polyester floral fabric.

Flower Prom Dress 70s

My me-made prom dress that I still wear today, over 15 years later!!

I remember feeling really self-conscious at prom when I showed up in this dress among a sea of black-clad peers. Now I’m so proud of my high school self that I had the courage to dare to be a little different! In fact….I still love this dress! During grad school I hacked it off into a micro-mini (but had the sense to leave a ton of fabric at the hem) and have recently lengthened it again just a wee bit, but it’s still above the knee.

Prom Dress Refashion

Still crazy after all these years!

It can be tough sometimes to be a thrift store shopper when you’re a tall, busty lady. I was much slimmer in high school than I am now but, even then I was 5’9″ and wearing a C cup! I would often find things I loved in the thrift stores but too often they’d be too small. My prom dress was a mini-revelation for me, if I could find a fabric that I liked I could sew it into an outfit that actually fit me!

I can haz clothez that fitz???

I can haz clothez that fitz???

I made a couple other brightly colored dresses but my me-made revelation was destined to be short lived. When undergrad hit (and I turned 19, the drinking age where I grew up), there were suddenly a whole new set of extracurriculars that seemed more interesting than sewing.

I didn’t give it up entirely though. My mom gave me a sewing machine one birthday so my room mates and I all decided to sew up our Halloween costumes that year, going with sexy fairy tale characters (Disclaimer: the choices made my 22 year old me are not at all a reflection of my current tastes or values and I do NOT endorse the fashion choices made at that time). 

Oh good Lord, I remember those boots. My feet hurt just looking at them!

Oh good Lord, I remember those boots. My feet hurt just looking at them!

That last year of undergrad I continued to sew mainly “special” clothes, fancy dresses and pretty things that wouldn’t be a part of my daily wardrobe. (I have a vague memory of a terrible pair of high waisted pants sewn in fabric with such a loose weave that the seams were threatening to give after the first wearing. Thank God, no photographic evidence exists).

It never occurred to me that I could so an "everyday" wardrobe! I pretty much only sewed up special occasion dresses and costumes.

It never occurred to me that I could so an “everyday” wardrobe! I pretty much only sewed up special occasion dresses and costumes.

And I didn’t entirely give up my thrifting ways. I remember finding a strange green spandex paisley that somehow screamed “SKIRT!!!!” at me, then later screamed “TUBE TOP!!!!”.

Green paisley skirt

Yes friends, it’s true. We actually all came together as a group and decided to paint our living room that Kraft Dinner orange. Our landlord, who had originally given us free reign on paint colors, quickly regretted that freedom. Once again, I do not endorse the style choices made by 21 year old me.

Throughout grad school my sewing tapered off almost completely. If it weren’t for Halloween  and a group of friends who were equally enthusiastic about dressing up every year, I might have lost my sewing chops entirely! I think I made a costume every year during grad school (I posted about them here), starting with Alice from the Resident Evil games/movies….Alice from Resident Evil II

…..and reaching it’s peak with my infamous (among my friends) Bjork costume.

BjorkWhen I moved to San Francisco after grad school I was fortunate enough to make some seriously crafty friends who I credit with inspiring my to get back to my crafty roots and eventually start this blog. Really, while this post is about sewing and that has definitely been my focus of late, sewing and I have a pretty open relationship. I always come back to it, but I’ve dabbled with painting, bead making, cross stitching, knitting (that’s an on-going casual affair), scrap booking and probably pretty much any other craft you can imagine!

My good friend Sandy, who you may remember from such posts as my NYC Fabric Shopping Roundup, taught me how to knit again (I had known how when I was a kid but never knit anything more complicated than mittens and hadn’t done it in about 15 years) and suddenly I was whipping up hats and mitts in no time!

Anyone who has had an experience with San Francisco's public transit will appreciate this one, snapped after a speeding bus ride had us practically getting air on SF's substantial hills then finally careening into another vehicle.

Anyone who has had an experience with San Francisco’s public transit will appreciate this one, snapped after a speeding bus ride had us practically getting air on SF’s substantial hills then finally careening into another vehicle.

But you know, when you live somewhere that never drops below freezing or requires anything heavier than a Fall jacket, there are only so many hats and mitts you can knit yourself! I think that’s when I finally came back to sewing. I started looking around online for creative blogs and found the fantastic sewist blogging community that I am so proud to be a part of today! I sewed up a couple shirts and dresses and before I knew it I was fully in love again with my old flame, sewing.

And you know the rest, because it’s all documented here!

I am surprised by how excited I am to hit my 100th post with this blog and I really really wanted to celebrate, so I decided to host a giveaway! And what goes better with this nostalgic trip down my sewing memory lane than three vintage sewing patterns from the 60’s and 70’s?! My blog doesn’t reach a huge audience so please post this wherever you think interested parties may be found! Or, selfishly keep to yourself – if you are the only entrant you’re guaranteed to win, LOL! Here are the patterns I’m giving away.

Crafty Little Secret - Vintage Sewing Pattern Giveaway craftylittlesecret.com

Simplicity 6740 circa 1966, Size 14, Bust 34. Purchased in Portland, OR last year.

Crafty Little Secret - Vintage Sewing Pattern Giveaway craftylittlesecret.com

Simplicity 8513, circa 1978, size 10-12, bust 34. From my granny’s sewing stash that I inherited when she passed.

Crafty Little Secret - Vintage Sewing Pattern Giveaway

Simplicity 9067, circa 1979, size 10, bust 32.5. Inherited from my granny’s sewing stash when she passed.

Each pattern is uncut (except the skirt from 9067 which my granny must have made). The first pattern from the 60’s is one I bought in a moment of over-zealousness on a fabric shopping excursion in Portland, OR last year (the pattern includes that Coco-esque top in Views 1 and 3!). The other two patterns are ones I inherited from my Granny’s sewing stash. I always forget that she was much, much tinier than me in every proportion so these patterns are much too small for me! I can definitely imagine some of you, with much more swagger than I, rockin’ these patterns. One lucky winner will receive all three patterns and the giveaway is open to everyone everywhere.

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment on this post telling me about your own love affair with sewing by midnight on June 26. Has it always been hot and heavy or just a casual relationship? Are you high school sweethearts or is it a new romance?

I’ll announce the winner in a week, so go ahead and follow my blog (link for Blog Lovin’ on the side bar) to be the first to hear the winner and keep up on future giveaways and fun happenings here at Crafty Little Secret!

WIP: Borneo Beret

I brought a little knitting project with me to keep my occupied on my 15+ hour flight to Borneo for my honeymoon last month, using the yarn I bought at Purl Soho on my NYC trip. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of how it turned out. I might end up just unraveling it and trying again.

Crafty Little Secret - Borneo Beret - craftylittlesecret.com

Look how tanned I am! Doesn’t it look like I just came back from a tropical holiday??? LOL

Crafty Little Secret - Borneo Beret - craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - Borneo Beret - craftylittlesecret.comPattern: Blushing Beret by Breean Elyse Miller
Y
arn: Cascade Eco Duo, Caramel 1711 (1/2 – 3/4 of the 197 yard skein)

Things I liked about this beret:
– the yarn is sooooooooooo soft and lovely to work with
– I didn’t realize it was self-striping when I bought it, but I think it works with the beret, so that was a pleasant surprise.

But. Overall, I am not really happy with how this turned out. It kinda looks like a knitted skull cap, not quite the look I was going for. The pattern does specifically state that “this beret is meant to sit on the back of the head and look pretty!” Well…..it sits on the back of my head all right!

If you look at the other Ravelry projects that made this beret it looks waaaaaaaaaay better (Notice the girls in the photos all have cute little bobs too). I find this a lot with hat patterns. Honestly guys, I think my head is just way too big!!!!! LOL!

I’m going to unravel this and knit up another hat. I was looking for something that would be worn a little on the back of my head, but preferably still covered my ears. Do any of you big headed ladies out there have a favorite pattern???

PS. I’m CraftyLilSecret on Ravelry. I’ve just started keeping track of my projects on there but I’m going to try to keep them up to date now that I’ve started.

 

Nautical Striped Dress: Butterick 5593

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Nautical Striped Dress craftylittlesecret.comThis is actually a make from a couple years ago (before I had this blog) but it’s been finding some new love lately so I thought I’d dust it off and write it up.

This is a easy sewing pattern from Butterick, B5593 and it’s a great little basic pattern.

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick 5593 Sewing Pattern craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern craftylittlesecret.comI sewed up View B with the scoop neck because I thought the V-neck looked a little low, especially for my ample bosom. As it turns out, even the scoop neck was a bit low for my liking, but that’s solved with a white cami underneath. Next time I make it I think I’ll bring the neckline up by at least an inch (arm holes too, they’re strangely gaping). It should be a really easy adjustment since the neckline isn’t even faced.

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comThe pattern features a waist tie that goes under the dress at the front, exhibiting some gathers at the top of the skirt, and emerges from the sides to wrap around the waist. The waist gets a bit more definition with a little elastic gather at the back as well.

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comAlthough I made the dress a while ago, I do remember that it was pretty tricky to try to sew the button holes that the waist tie passes through in knit fabric. In the end I was glad they’re mostly hidden by the skirt gathering.

Re-reading the pattern instructions now, I suspect I used a fabric with a bit too much stretch since the pattern says it’s suitable for fabrics with moderate stretch only. Oh well, the fabric I chose is so lovely and swishy that I don’t care!

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comI think I’m just going to have to remember to automatically add at least an inch to the bodice of every dress I make. I’m long in the body with narrow hips and my bust sits low giving everything that baby doll look. There’s a definite sweet spot for where things hit me that isn’t always at my natural waistline. Too high and it looks like there’s no space between my bust and waist (which is, in fact, the case) or I look pregnant (which is not, in fact, the case). Too low and it looks like my entire body is a tube the same thickness as my bust. The lengthen/shorten line on this pattern is in the skirt pattern piece which wouldn’t really help with my problem. So I think next time I make it I’ll just add a couple inches right where the bodice joins the skirt.

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comLooking at these pictures I’m really surprised how short this dress is compared to how it looks on the envelope front! Unfortunately, I can’t remember if I cut the length according to the pattern or decided I wanted it shorter. I’m 5’10” so I usually cut everything with at least an extra inch or two in length. Or maybe I didn’t pre-shrink the fabric??? Seems like something I would skip….

Sorry I can’t remember more details about the construction, I pretty much just followed the pattern! But since I’ve found new love for this dress I thought I’d share it here.

Re-Sew-lutions 2014: Drafting a Pattern

We’re halfway through 2014 and I’ve only got one of my three 2014 re-sew-lutions under my belt;
1. Sew a jacket
2. Participate in Me-Made May
3. Draft a pattern

I’ve got the fabric for a jacket (a nice blue twill), so that counts as started. Right? That left me with figuring out what pattern I wanted to draft. With so many amazing indie pattern designers out there, I feel like there’s an already existing and easily adaptable pattern for most things I’d like to make. So stop being so awesome, fellow sewists! Sheesh! I also have a lot of trouble imagining clothes out of thin air.

I’ve definitely constructed clothes without a pattern before, but I’ve never made a paper pattern. Which is a bummer because sometimes my self-drafted garments turn out well I’d like to actually replicate them. And sometimes those self-draft garments don’t turn out so well and taking the time to draft something thoughtfully would have likely done me some good.

Anyhoo, I think I’ve found my inspiration piece. Introducing……the Ask the Anthropologist Dress!

Ask the Anthropologist dress

Source: Modcloth.com

This dress has a few things going for it that I think make it a good inspiration for my first self-drafted paper pattern;
1. The dress is out of stock (and wasn’t available in my size to begin with) so I can’t just buy it
2. More forgiving shape than something very fitted
3. Sleeves – Simple sleeve style – won’t need to worry about facing or fitting sleeves into an arm scythe.
4. Experience – I’ve sewn a cowl neck before.

So far, the tools I have in my arsenal are;
Patternmaking (Portfolio Skills) by Dennic Chunman LoPatternmaking (Portfolio Skills) by Dennic Chunman Lo….annnnnnnnnnnd……that’s it. What, not enough? Well, that’s where you come in.

Can anyone recommend some great starting places for me? Craftsy classes? Bare essential tools? Awesome blog tutorials?

Sometimes I just blindly run headfirst into things like this and this time I’d like to slow down a little and really try to learn a new skill.

Back to Basics Sew-Along: Blue Afternoon Skirt

Back 2 Basics Sew-AlongAs I mentioned yesterday, Katie at the Creative Counselor is hosting a Back to Basics sew-along this week to help everyone fill in some holes in their me-made wardrobe. Me-Made May ’14 made it abundantly clear that I am missing bottoms. So I decided to make a super simple, super comfy skirt that I’m calling my Blue Afternoon Skirt.

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt I used about a meter of medium weight cotton knit with two-way stretch to make this skirt and no pattern. I hesitate to call this skirted “self-drafted” because I think that implies that I actually made a pattern instead of just vaguely tracing a skirt shape onto fabric in chalk, quickly sewing it up then trimming away bits as I tried it on. But hey, close enough to “self-drafted”, right?

I originally intended for this skirt to have a high, flat waistband that could be worn under shirts without making bumps and lumps or over a shirt for a nice neat high waistband. After I made it though I realized that I basically just sewed a yoga pant waistband onto the skirt. I think it can still be worn up…..

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.com….or folded down…..

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.com

Looking at these pictures confirms what I’d feared……I think I’ve gotta straighten that hem out. It started straight. But after some adjustments to the waistband I guess it ended up a little wonky. I’m currently out of the matching thread so for now I’m just going to have to wear it as-is and hope that no one notices the uneven hem as I’m swooshing along.

Swoosh, swoosh!

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.comTo make this skirt I cut two big triangles, one for the front panel and one for the back. The waist was cut about 4″ smaller than my actual waist measurement and since I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make a true circle skirt, the bottom of the skirt was just cut as wide as I could. As an after thought, I also cut out some pockets. When I sewed up the side seams of the skirt, I inserted the pockets about 3″ below the waist. As it turns out, this is a little lower than my liking and I would have preferred them more like 1″ below the waist.

The waistband was made from a band cut 4″ shorter than my waist and about 6″ wide. I sewed it into a loop, then folded it in half lengthwise and attached it to the top of my skirt piece with the seam at the center back. If I had thought that I’d be wearing the skirt with the waistband folded over yoga pant-style, I probably would have made some effort to hide the seams. As it was though, I just sewed the two pieces together.

I’ve actually worn this skirt a couple times already. It’s sooooooooooo comfortable for lazing about the house and does a surprisingly good job of staying wrinkle free. The only issue so far is that the waistband seems to stretch out a bit as I wear it. I’ll see where we’re at after I wash it, maybe I’ll have to add some elastic to the waist.

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.comThanks so much to Katie for organizing the sew-along and inspiring me to get Back To Basics!!!!

Me-Made May ’14: Roundup and Reflections

Me Made May '14 RoundupSince this was the first time I’ve ever participated in Me-Made May, it was a great chance to reflect on my me-made wardrobe and my style as a whole. Some of the discoveries I made were surprises, and some were things I would have guessed

Most worn: Scoop Neck Top
This wasn’t a huge surprise to me. Since I’m not working right now, my day-to-day wardrobe is pretty casual and this Scoop Neck tee is a work horse! I bought the fabric for this top for about $3 from the remnants pile at Discount Fabrics in SF, so I’d say I’m definitely getting my money’s worth!!

Not worn: V1152 Wearable Muslin and Unblogged Cocktail Dress
These weren’t a huge surprise ever. I’d expressed my doubts as to whether I’d wear the V1152 red and white polk-a-dot top when I made it and still haven’t made the alterations it needs. The cocktail dress I haven’t blogged because I made it waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the mid-90’s – it was my high school prom dress!!!! (Maybe I’ll dig up some photos and share some then-and-now pics) This is less of an everyday dress – short, tight and covered in a bright crazy 70’s floral print – so I’m not surprised in the least that it didn’t get worn. It usually only gets pulled out of the closet once or twice a year.

Themes: Jewel Tones and Stripes
I keep meaning to go through all the Wardrobe Architect exercises but I still haven’t gotten around to it. (Tilly also wrote a thoughtful post about sewing for your lifestyle here) One of the things I found cool about Me-Made May was that it was the first time I’ve ever really taken stock of what I wear on a daily basis. Now I have a collection of photos to look at and try to figure out some themes in what I wear. I don’t have any major surprises in the colors and patterns that appear in my wardrobe – I love stripes and tend to gravitate toward jewel tones (teal, bright pink, purple, sapphire blue…).

Me-Made Wardrobe Gaps: Bottoms!!!!
I had NO me-made bottoms when I started this month. None! Clearly that’s a gap I’ve gotta fill. Luckily, Katie from The Creative Counselor is hosting a Back 2 Basics sewalong this week to help people fill in such gaps in their me-made wardrobe. I got a wee bit of an early start on my sewing and finished off a basics skirt that I’ll post before the week is up! I’ve got the fabric for a pair of Thurlows all picked out but I’m not expecting to get them finished before the sewalong is over since I don’t have much experience sewing pants. I’ve got some medium weight magenta jersey that I got for Christmas in my stash too, but I can’t decide what to make!

Surprises: Skirts and Dresses
Many of you have already figured this out, and I’m sure I knew it intuitively and was just ignoring the truth, but I look way cuter in skirts and dresses than I do in jeans! And many of my skirts and dresses are no more difficult to wear! The biggest surprise for me was my (unblogged so far) nautical striped dress. I sewed this up over a year ago but always seem to forget about it and am rarely inspired to wear it. After looking back over the month of wardrobe pictures though, I definitely think it’s one of my cuter casual looks! I will definitely be working it, and skirts, into my wardrobe in general.

Hindrances to Wearing Me-Made Items: 
I noticed a few common themes with the items that were worn less this month.
1) Too fancy. Especially while I’m not working (though to be honest, working in an academic lab didn’t inspire me to wear nice clothes anyway), I just don’t wear a lot of fancy clothes. Believe it or not, I probably looked more pulled together on a daily basis this month than I usually would.
2) Too high maintenance. Although I love it, my first Mathilde blouse didn’t make an appearance until the last half of the month for the laziest reason possible. It needed ironing. Seems like the type of thing that shouldn’t be a hindrance but it was, and I’ll keep that in mind during future fabric shopping.
3) Need work. One of the reasons I didn’t wear my V1152 muslin was because the neckline needed adjustment before wearing it. However, I was finally inspired to increase the size of the sleeve bands on my first Mathilde blouse, so if I like the make enough I’ll take the time to fix it!
4) Location, location, location. This one probably sounds weird. Our master bedroom doesn’t have a closet so we had to buy a wardrobe to hang clothes in our room. Unfortunately, with two tiers of rungs I can’t hang long dresses in the wardrobe without them hanging all over the bottom rung of clothes. So I keep my dresses in the closet in our spare room. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. I’ve taken the dresses that don’t wrinkle much and that are casual enough to be part of my daily wardrobe, folded them over hangers and hung them in my wardrobe. Hopefully this will help me remember I own them and I’ll be inspired to wear them more often!

Did you participate in Me-Made May this year? What insights did you get into your me-made wardrobe? Any big surprises?