Me-Made May ’14: Days 27-31

I apologize for the poorer quality of the photos. Somehow I turned down the resolution on my camera, gotta figure out how to get that back up…

Day 27: Grocery shopping
MMM'14 Day 27Me-Made: Knit skirt, unblogged

Day 28: Ummm….lazing around?
MMM'14 Day 28Me-Made: Scoop Neck Top

Day 29: Prepping for my mom’s visit
MMM'14 Day 29Me-Made: Nautical striped dress, unblogged

Day 30: Mathilde Blouse #1, but I forgot to take a picture!!!

Day 31: Wine-tasting in Sonoma while my mom was visiting
MMM'14 Day 31Me-Made: Eva Dress

I had so much fun participating in Me-Made May for the first time this year, as well as following other sewist’s months! I’ll post the month’s roundup and some reflections on what I’ve learned about my me-made wardrobe tomorrow.


Me-Made May: Days 19-26

Day 19: Running errands.

MMM14 Day 19Me-Made: nautical striped dress, unblogged.

I rarely wear this dress and now that I’ve snapped some pictures of myself wearing it, I have no idea why I don’t wear it more! Totally cute and totally casual. Will definitely be increasing the rotation of this in my everyday wardrobe.

Day 20: Workin’ on job applications and cookin’ (not at the same time) ASIDE: What the hell happens to my hair over the course of a day??!??!!
MMM14 Day 20Me-Made: Vogue 1152 blouse, apron (unblogged)

Day 21: Had a friend over for dinner
MMM14 Day 21Me-Made: Aqua Goodwill refashion

Day 22: I have no idea what I did this day….
MMM14 Day 22Me-Made: Mathilde Blouse #2

Day 23: Sewing
MMM14 Day 23Me-Made: Mathilde Blouse #1

Day 24: Dinner Party
MMM14 Day 24Me-Made: Ele-Fun Refashion

Day 25: BBQ/Friend’s birthday party
MMM14 Day 25Me-Made: Vogue 8469 Maxi Dress

Day 26: Urban adventuring with the hubs! (Pictured here: learning to fly a fancy kite)
MMM14 Day 26Me-Made: Striped tanktop, self-drafted

Just a few more days to go! I don’t think I would have been able to make it through the month if I hadn’t had the couple weeks in Borneo where I didn’t have to wear me-made. Or rather, I would have made it but with a lot more repeat outfits.

How is everyone else doing with MMM’14??

Vogue 8469 Maxi Dress

Vogue 8469 Maxi

I finally got around to making something out of the knit I bought on my trip to the LA Mood! I bought it with the intention of making a maxi dress but was flip-flopping a lot on what pattern I wanted to use.

I knew it needed to meet a few criteria for me to actually wear it;
– be able to wear a normal bra with it
– not be too low cut
– but also not cut to close to my face
– be casual

Turns out Vogue 8469 (Very Easy) was the winner! I sewed up View B, but I still made some alterations to make it work for me.

Vogue 8469 back

I increased the overall length of the dress to make it a full maxi (the pattern is more of a midi). I’m still not 100% sure that I prefer the maxi over the midi length, but I figure I can always go back and shorten it later.

What do you think??

Vogue 8469 shorter

Should I shorten it?

I also left the ties off the waist. I thought it would add unnecessary bulk and I was running low of fabric. This fabric is just a one-way stretch so even though the print isn’t directional I still ended up with a bunch of wasted fabric because I had to make sure I kept the stretch in the right direction. Something to keep in mind for next time.

Vogue 8469

The pattern isn’t designed for knits so rather than trying to redraft the bodice with negative ease I just cut a smaller size. That worked well except that the waist band is hitting me a bit high now. Not a big deal on a knit dress like this but would’ve looked pretty weird if I’d sewn this up in a non-stretch fabric.

Vogue 8469

In the interest of keeping this dress a little more casual I opted to sew in neck and arm bands instead of using a facing.

Vogue 8469

I used Rae’s fantastic tutorial for this over at Made By Rae. In fact, she’s got a whole awesome series on sewing with knits and has tutorials for a few different neckline finishes. I didn’t quite cut my neckband short enough so it gapes a bit (as you can very slightly see in the picture above). Luckily, while I’m wearing it the gaping is more at the neck rather than at my bust. Definitely an improvement over my first neckband attempt with my Scoop Neck Tee. I’m learning!!!!

Vogue 8469

I opted to top-stitch with a twin needle around the neck and arm openings with white thread to add a nice finishing detail and keep the casual look of the dress. I finished the inside of the dress with French seams everywhere but the neck and arm band attachments. For these, the twin needle top stitch helped finish the inside and then I just trimmed up the excess fabric.

Vogue 8469

Seriously though you guys, attaching the neck and arm bands totally had me dreaming of sergers – #1 on my sewing toy wish list!!! (Followed closely by #2 – an adjustable bust form).

Ok, here’s the summary:

Fabric: one-way stretch cotton jersey, 3.25 y
Pattern: Vogue 8469 View B
– added 12″ to length
– eliminated waist tie
– finished with neck and arm bands
– eliminated facing

Vogue 8469

I think I’ll have to wear this dress with one of my bright pink cardis to keep it from looking a little too goth! LOL!

So what do you guys think? Keep it long, or cut it to below the knee??

Bay to Breakers!

Today is a very San Francisco day……the Bay to Breakers race! This race has a special place in my heart because before I moved to the Bay Area, my mom and I came to SF for a long weekend holiday. Unbeknownst to us, it was the Bay to Breakers weekend. We were wandering around Haight-Ashbury wondering if it was always that crazy????

The race has been happening for 102 years and the tradition is to dress up in crazy costumes (I’ll leave you to search it on YouTube….warning: you’ll see lots of nudity). I don’t know if this is a well known fact about San Francisco or not, but every time someone says “costume” here a percentage of the city hears “go naked”. But whether naked or in costume or just dressed crazy, I’ve never found a city that loves to dress up as much as SF!

The Crowd

Trying to show just how many people are on the streets for Bay to Breakers – People as far as I can see!

The race route runs from the San Francisco Bay to the ocean (hence the name), about 12K, and tens of thousands of people participate every year. Many people run the race (as I did last year, accomplishing a major goal!) but maaaaaaaaaaany others just….drink it. The people who live along the race route hire DJ’s and throw huge house parties all day, starting at like 8 am.

B2B House Party

A typical house party along the race route. I chose the least naked picture I could 🙂

Anyhoo, I was a pretty bummed when I woke up yesterday with a bad cold because I knew I’d be all the race fun today. Luckily, I hadn’t put any effort into planning a costume. But I thought it would be a good chance for me to share some costumes from previous years!

2011: Oompa Loompas
Oompa LoompasI’m usually the first person to go crazy making costumes from scratch (as evidenced here, here and here), but this just goes to show you can make a great no-sew costume with a trip to the thrift and hardware stores! We found the white shorts and brown sweaters at the thrift store then embellished with white duct tape!

2012: Hi-Liters
Hi LitersOnce again, a no-sew super easy costume. We got all the supplies for less than $20 at Michael’s (including the t-shirts). We bought some black duct tape and stuck the letters onto the shirts. The cap hats are sand pails that we drilled holes in and ran some yarn through to tie onto our heads. We found the bright tights at American Apparel and my booty shorts were recycled from my Roller Derby Halloween costume. The Hi-Liter costumes were actually a big hit, and somewhere along the way we accumulated some Nerf balls that we would hand out to people so they could try to get them in our bucket hats.

Anyway, to help ease the pain of missing out on a great annual SF event I thought I’d share it all with you!

Me Made May: Borneo

As per my pledge, I packed as many me made clothes as I could for my Borneo trip, which was just two. The star of the trip turned out to be my Aqua Goodwill refashion. I’ve been a bit surprised by how much I wear that shirt in general since I wasn’t quite sure how much I liked the shirt as I was making it. It’s just so comfy, easy to wear and washable!

As NOT per my pledge, I did a terrible job of documenting the me made outfits I wore in Borneo. Either I missed outfits entirely or I only have partial pictures. Whoops! Guess I was too busy gawkin’ to pose for pictures!

Me Made May '14

I wore the first outfit to “chill” in the jungle, feed a fake rhino and watch the sunset with my hubs. This shirt is a warm weather WINNER! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Me Made Borneo Outfit 2

Can you even see me in my me made camouflage Scoop Neck Tee?? I just blended right in with the jungle animal spotting in this one. Speaking of which, that’s an orangutan on the platform behind me.

And that’s it for the me made outfits! So, here’s some pictures of what I was gawkin’ at so you’ll understand why I wasn’t thinking about MMM’14…..

Baby orangutan Borneo

Baby orangutan at one of the rehabilitation centers. (We saw some wild ones too but they’re way harder to get pictures of)

Lankayan Island

Lankayan Island

Borneo macaque

I don’t know why but this little guy cracked me up – just sittin’ there, stuffin’ his face with food…..

Proboscis Monkey Borneo

The proboscis monkey, aka Nature’s Cruelest Joke. Phallic nose, beer belly, constant visible arousal and persistent flatulence

Pygmy Elephant

Pygmy Elephant!!!! I think we were really lucky to see this!

Kinabatangan Sunset

Sunset over the Kinabatangan River

Danum Valley

Danum Valley

Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Geranium Dresses!!!

Phew! That’s a mouthful. My friend’s twin girls are turning 2 at the end of this month and are having a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed birthday party. When she asked me if I would make the dresses I didn’t really “get it”. She showed me a couple dresses made out of the fabric she wanted and I thought it was kind of a strange print. I did my own searching and found some other cute caterpillar fabrics, but then I was informed that the Very Hungry Caterpillar is actually a book that kids that age are obsessed with.

And now I totally get it.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Geranium dress

I originally suggested a Geranium dress with the butterfly top and caterpillar bottom, like what I ended up with, but with bright green piping around the armholes and yoke seam. My friend said that she wanted to include the dot fabric because when that pattern shows up in the book her girls yell “All the colours!!!!!!” (with a “u” because they’re Canadian). How cute! So we decided to add the belt around the waist in the contrasting dot fabric, as well as a pair of diaper covers for when the girls inevitably lift their skirts, as children will do!

Very Hungry Caterpillar diaper coverThe diaper covers were a free pattern from Made! Overall I’d say the pattern was super simple (time will tell if they actually fit). My only complaint came with sewing the elastic casing around the leg holes. The pattern didn’t account for the fact that the fabric would be folded back and so the pattern just kept tapering toward the leg holes. When I folded it back the folded part was now narrower than the back part so I actually had to make some nicks in the fabric to do it. Does that make sense? Basically, it needed a facing or bias tape instead of a turned hem to form the casing.

I opted to go with the ruffled sleeve option in the Geranium dress pattern. It was my first time doing that technique and Rae’s instructions were great! It went like a breeze!! The only small change I made to the technique was altering my stitch length to get a heavier more finished edge, rather than the lighter slightly more rustic edge shown in the pattern instructions.

Geranium dress flutter sleeve

In fact, the whole pattern sewed up like a breeze! The instructions were very detailed and easy to follow. At this time, I just want to take a minute and thank Rae for the care she put into making that pattern. I ordered my first “Big 4” e-pattern just before Christmas and it was such a nightmare to print! There was no print key whatsoever, but about four different pattern views so I ended up printing out 50 pages of pattern just to get the 30 or so that I actually needed. Rae on the other hand, has a very clear print key so you can just print out the few pages you need. Saves trees and saved me from pulling out my hair!

Very Hungry Caterpillar dress pockets

I also used the dot fabric to make the patch pockets on the front of the dress and did some twin needle top-stitching (tutorial here) to add detail. If I recall correctly, I think the pocket buttons were my addition to the pattern.

Very Hungry Caterpillar dress back

As you can see, I added a ribbon to this pattern. That turned out to be a bit more of a debacle than it should have been. Once I’d cut out the diaper cover pattern I realized that I wouldn’t have much fabric left for the ribbon detail and that I’d be piecing it together.

ribbon jointThat was just the start of the debacle. For some reason I decided that the “easiest” thing to do would be to just sew the ribbon on like a waist band, theeeeeeen make a detachable bow that would attach over top of it with snaps.

I have no idea why I decided this would be the easiest option.

But since I made that decision, I hand stitched the waist band on before sewing the back button holes which meant that when I did sew the button holes I stitched one of them through the waist band. It was about this time that I realized it would make way more sense for a 2 year old’s dress to just have a tie at the back instead of a detachable bow.

I’d used up literally every scrap of the dot fabric so then I had to go back and actually cut the button hole out of the waist band and attach some more length to it so it could be tied in a bow. In the end, the somewhat gruesome button hole/ribbon vivisection is concealed in the bow, thank goodness!

Very Hungry Caterpillar dress button

In keeping with the “All the colours!” theme of the dress, I went with multi-colored buttons up the back of the dress and think it looks pretty cute that way!

The one trouble I had with using the Caterpillar quilting cottons on this dress was that they were a bit too thin and I thought it would look weird if the dot diaper covers showed through the skirt. I quickly cut out another skirt piece in a stash cotton and fully lined the whole dress.

Geranium dress inside seams

Look at that workmanship! How many 2 year old girls do you know with such carefully made dresses?!

Geranium dress liningI don’t know what kind of attention span 2 year olds have for this sort of thing so I hope they still love the Very Hungry Caterpillar when their party rolls around at the end of May, and I can’t wait to see how they look in their dresses! I sewed these long distance and just popped them in the mail last week so cross fingers and toes that they fit, you guys!

Very Hungry Caterpillar dressI’ve done some kid knitting but this is the first kid sewing I’ve done. I liked it for the same reason I like kid knitting – it uses so much less material and you can add adorable details that would look ridiculous on adult clothing!


Pattern: Geranium Dress (size 0-5T), by Made By Rae
              Diaper Cover by Made (FREE!)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Do collection by Eric Carle
Fabric Sources: and Fabrics and Trimmings

Pattern alterations:
Diaper cover
– slight increase in size because the pattern just looked so small and I never believe that babies/children are as small as they actually are.

Geranium dress
– added buttons and button holes to the front patch pockets
– added waistband/tie
– added skirt lining because the fabric was too thin

Me Made May 2014 – Pledge

I first heard about Me Made May (run by Zoe of “So, Zo…“) last year and thought it was such a great challenge, but really just didn’t have the me-made wardrobe for it. This year though, I made participation one of my New Year’s Re-Sew-Lutions!

BUT….when I made that resolution, I didn’t realize that I’d be in Borneo for part of the month!!!!! Clearly that’s going to require an edited pledge.

The honeymoon trip will be a lot of beach time and a lot of jungle time. We’ll only be in an actual city for a couple days, tops. As Zoe points out in her description of the challenge, the point of this challenge is not to panic sew a bunch of new outfits during May. Since sewing swim suit and trekking gear doesn’t really turn my crank, I won’t be wearing many me-made clothes on the trip. Instead, while packing, I’ll just trying to make a conscious decision to pack me-made options whenever it makes sense.

For the rest of the month though….no excuses! I’m going to wear Me Made everyday (repeats allowed). “Me Made” will include both garments made from scratch and ones that I’ve refashioned.

I’m hoping that participating in MMM’14 will:
1. Help me figure out why I don’t wear some of my makes and how to alter them so that I will wear them (I’m looking at you V1152 Muslin and Mathilde #2!).
2. Give me a little extra motivation to finish some of my languishing WIPs
3. Help me feel like my makes are wardrobe staples instead of occasionals (like my Eva dress!)

Without further ado, my official pledge:

 ‘I, Eileen of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear as many me made items as possible while on vacation (first two weeks of May) and at least ONE me-made item each day once I’m home for the remainder of May 2014’

I haven’t done this before so I’m not totally sure what works best but I think I’ll try to do an outfit roundup after my honeymoon then weekly outfit roundups once I’m back.

Check out the challenge and make your own pledge over at So, Zo…!

NYC Fabric Shopping Roundup

I’ve been a little off the blogging map lately, but it’s for good reason! I spent a week in NYC visiting with friends, then had a good friend visiting here in SF for a week and my honeymoon trip to Borneo is imminent!!! Sometimes too busy to sew is a good thing.

One thing I really wanted to do in NYC, which has become one of my favorite (LOL, the first time I wrote this I typed “fabric” instead of “favorite”) ways to explore a new place, was to explore the fabric shops! One of the friends I was visiting in NYC was my Maid of Honor from my wedding. She and I met at a “Women Who Like Beer” meetup when she was living in San Francisco, we immediately bonded over our shared love of beer and crafts and she eventually became my room mate before she moved back to New York and I moved in with my husband. Who better to accompany me on my fabric shopping tour of NYC???

Outside Purl Soho

We actually started the day in Soho because that’s where my hotel was. And what else do you do in Soho but check out Purl Soho on Broome St? I’ve pinned many a lovely project from their blog (including this quilt that I’ve been dying to make forever but never seem to get around to) so I was really excited to check out their store.

Purl Soho Embroidery HoopsTheir store was exactly what you’d expect from their blog. Full of soft neutrals punctuated with electric yellow and neon pink. Soft knit sweaters and scarves that you want to gather into a huge pile and snuggle. The shop has such a clear identity and shows off their inviting folksy, modern country style. If you’re a fan of Liberty fabrics, I think this is one of the few places to find them in the US. They’re expensive, but you save yourself the huge shipping fees from the UK.

Inside Purl Soho

Sandy giving into the Liberty temptation

After touching pretty much every skein of yarn I settled on a super soft and snuggly but surprisingly neutral (compared to my usual choices) yarn. My friend bought a pre-cut half yard of Liberty fabric that she plans to use to make coffee cup cozies for her and her friends. Isn’t she the sweetest?

NYC Garment District

The decidedly UN-informative Information Booth in the Garment District.

Next we headed to the Garment District. Onward and upward!

A few weeks ago I sent out a request for fabric shopping hints in NYC and got great advice from Oona and Ginger (thanks ladies!!). I had a great time in NYC and especially loved my afternoon spent in the Garment District gawking at beautiful fabrics! I even made a route map with a few intended stops (because that’s the kind of go-with-the-flow lady I am)!

NYC Fabric Shopping Map

I started at Rosen and Chaddick Fabrics and was quickly overwhelmed by their huge stock of suiting fabrics. I spent most of my time there petting a $300/yd bolt of cashmere blend, but didn’t find anything that really captured my imagination.

Steinlauf and Stoller

Next I hit up Steinlauf & Stoller, thanks to Ginger’s suggestion, to check out what a store full of old school tailoring supplies looks like. I don’t do enough tailoring to have much use for many of the things but I could appreciate what a fantastic supply they had. For those of you that are into lingerie sewing they had the largest selection of bra bits that I’ve ever seen!

Our final stop, as it turned out, was Chic Fabrics. This store is paaaaaaaaaaaaaaacked. And the dude who runs it is kinda on you the whole time, but he seems to know exactly what he’s got packed in there. Two or three people came in while we were browsing and asked if they had this or that fabric and the dude would immediately reply “Nope” or “Yup, over there”. I ended up buying a surprisingly tame fabric as a souvenir – 2.5 yd of a soft wool blend grey suiting. I’ve had it in my head for a while that I’d like to try a pair of trousers and now I have the perfect fabric at a nice price.

NYC Purchases

My very responsible and restrained purchases in NYC

I had really wanted to check out H&M fabrics, on Oona’s suggestion, but a funny thing happened on the way to the fabric store…. Random fact about San Francisco: they just don’t do Irish Pubs properly here. I spent my grad school days in Halifax, Nova Scotia and spent a significant number of my evenings in the pubs around town. I miss my Irish pubs! Oh, there’s a few here and there in SF, and the best are in the Richmond District, but I haven’t found one that’s exactly right. Long story short, Sandy and I found an Irish pub with a happy hour and that was the end of our fabric shopping!

In fact, it was somewhere around beer number three or four that inspiration suddenly struck! “We must go dance on a light-up disco floor!!!”

Ok, this decision requires a bit of back story. I have a bucket list with items ranging from relatively easy to knock off (like “Eat Turducken”, or “Ride in a limo sippin’ on gin and juice”) to more exotic things (like “Hike the Inca Trail”, or “See the Northern Lights”). One of the items that you’d think would be easy to cross off was “Dance on a light up disco floor” (like the one in Saturday Night Fever). These disco floors are surprisingly hard to find! Sandy, being the good friend she is remembered that the Culture Club, not too far from the Garment District, has a disco floor. Suddenly fabric shopping had been bumped down the priority list!

Light Up Disco Floor

Bucket List Item: Dance on a light up disco floor……CHECK!!!!

What a fun way to wrap up an awesome day of my favorite things – friends, crafts and beer!

Turns out my friend’s office is just a couple blocks from Bryant Park, so the next day after work we wandered by to check it out. Apparently, when it’s not busy hosting Fashion Week, Bryant Park is a pretty cute and functional little space! There was a cafe to grab a drink, a carousel for the kiddos and, my favorite part, tables set out with free board games to play!! Sandy and I sat down and played Guess Who? for an hour or so while waiting for the rest of our gang to finish up with their work tasks.

Bryant park carousel

Bryant Park board gamesI find it hilarious that after FIVE full days in Manhattan, these are all the pictures that I took!! Not a single one of me with my husband or my other friend that I stayed with for the last few days of my trip. Nope, just fabric shopping and board games! Well, that’s not quite true. I also have one phone picture of a dinosaur and a picture of deep fried pickles (because I love them and they don’t seem to be a “thing” in California). Oh what the heck, might as well share those photos too!

Deep fried picklesDinosaurYay New York! Can’t wait to see you again and to finish up my fabric store hit list!!



Refashion: Aqua Goodwill Find


Whenever I’m flipping through the racks at Goodwill I always keep an eye out for fabric that jumps out at me. I thought the aqua and white print on this dress was so cute. There was just one problem…refashion before…..the dress needed a wee bit of altering.

I liked the overall idea of the dress but, honestly, I just don’t seem to wear my dresses much. So I decided to turn it into a top. I didn’t like where the waistline was hitting me so I thought that was a good place to take out some length.

Refashion cuts

Knowing my bust would be the most difficult part to fit, I started work on the top of the shirt. I put it on over a tank top and pinned the shirt to the tank in the center and at the side seams to keep it in place, then gathered the fabric on one side of the bust and pinned it.

refashion bust pleat pinning

I carefully took the top off and pinned either side of where the gathers began, then pulled the pin holding the gathers out so the top would lay flat.

refashion bust pleat pinning2

I measured the distance between the pins and the distance from the button stance so I could replicate it on the other side and make even bust gathers. I quickly stitched them down to keep them in place while I made some other adjustments.

The original sleeves on the dress gaped open too much and there was still a lot of bulk on the side of the shirt. Once I had the bust darts figured out I put the top back on to figure out how to take in the sleeves.

refashion sleeve pin

The arrows are pointing out the pins, not side boob.

I omitted the middle elastic section I had cut out of the shirt and sewed the top portion to the bottom (I had to take in the bottom a little to account for the fabric I took out of the top).

refashion during

The refashion could have been done at this point, I guess, but I wasn’t satisfied with the fit yet. The sleeves looked funny with my arms down so I took them in along the dotted line I drew in the picture above to produce the sleeve in the photo below:

refashion sleeve

I also felt like the waist seam was sagging at the side seams and on my back, so I needed to bring that up a bit. I wanted it to be just a wee bit more fitted around the waist too.

refashion during back

The waist seam adjustment left me with some extra fabric that I was able to use to form an elastic casing.

refashion back seam

refashion elastic casing

I reused the elastic from the original top and cut it to fit tightly across the back of my new shirt. It did the trick!

refashion after front

refashion after back

I think this will be a great easy-to-wear and easy-to-care-for summer top!

Anyhoo, I’ve got a trip to New York to pack for so for now I’ll just leave you with this series of goofy poses:

refashion after goofy3

refashion after goofy4

refashion after goofy1

refashion after goofy2