I'm sorry to disappear right in the middle of my Me-Made-May pledge, but I don't think I'm going to be able to keep up with the photography part of the challenge this year. I apologize to miss out on sharing with you all, and hope that I can return to regular sewing pattern review posts soon.
I do have most of the photos that I have taken of my me-made outfits for the last two weeks, which I will post below. However, this month has been another unexpectedly stressful one, so I have decided to not photograph the last couple of days of Me-Made-May this week while I try to catch up on everything else that needs to get done. I feel comfortable sharing with you all that some of the recent stress has been due to the declining health of our pets: our rats have lung disease---a very common problem in domesticated rats---and it has caused their breathing and overall health to get worse and worse over the past few months. Their decline has gotten to the point where I've had to make plans to take them to the vet this week, as I don't want them to continue to suffer. Our pet dog, Gia, has also been struggling with her age and her health. She suffered an infection this month that was caused by her diabetes, and although she has safely recovered, she still needs some extra attention and care right now. Being ill drained away her energy. She has been my good companion, and I want to be hers in her time of need.
Thank you for all the kind and interesting comments that so many of you have written here on the blog recently. As I get more on top of things, and as Gia's health---I hope----improves again, I will try to approve all the comments and write back to you all. And hopefully return to posting about new sewing projects. My sewing practice has been in a slight slump, but I am working on cutting out some new projects that I am looking forward to sewing and sharing with you all.
I think that I did do enough of Me-Made-May to have time to reflect on what I've learned from it this year. It has occurred to me that while it is a good thing to include experimentation in the sewing process, that when I focus more on experimentation than on practicality, as I did last year, that I often end up liking less of the clothes that I make. This May has reminded me how important it is to reflect on my needs, to be honest with myself about my taste, to consider the demands of the daily activities and weather that affect how I dress, and to plan ahead to make sure that the clothes that I make will easily integrate into the wardrobe of clothes, shoes, and accessories that I already have. I have found over the past month that: I prefer to wear darker colors for my regular, every day clothes (except for blouses, which I also like to wear in white or cream), and that I wear a lot of skirts and blouses, shirt-dresses, smock dresses, jumper dresses, and midi-length dresses--often with tights and a cardigan when it is cold. My most worn everyday clothes tend to be cotton or flannel, and I have to plan to wear layers through much of the year here, due to the chilling influence of the snow on the mountains. The other things that I have noticed is that I prefer wearing small prints over large ones, and that I've been wearing more warm shades of brown and dark red and pinks lately. And lastly, that I will be relieved when my hair grows out more, as it is a really awkward length right now! Please pardon my daily messy hair in so many of the photos below.
I think those realizations are very helpful, and will help me as I focus and plan realistically on what projects I want to make over the coming months. Right now I have some fabric set aside to make some more button-up shirts, as well as shirt-dresses, and a new full cotton navy skirt to replace my old one that has worn out. I also hope to get started on sewing my winter coat soon, as I have it all cut out, and know that if I begin early that it will be a more relaxing process to make it.
Have any of you learned new things from Me-Made-May that help you in your sewing process? Have you ever had to end a personal challenge early because life got in the way?
Monday May 6 - My mom came over and helped me re-pot all of our houseplants, so I wore my practical two piece dress and a thrifted cardigan.
Tuesday May 7 - It was still chilly and I had an art lesson to teach in the afternoon, so I chose a relatively new thrifted sweater to wear tucked in to my homemade brown skirt. The sweater was $1 on sale at Goodwill. I think that it had been left on the rack because it had some loose buttons and other little issues that needed mending. Based on the collar, cut and quality of the wool, I believe that either it is an authentic 1950s sweater, or a very good imitation from a more recent decade. In any case, I'm glad that I bought and fixed it, because it matches this skirt very well.
Wednesday May 8 - Still a chill in the air. I wore my Indian block-print cotton shirt-dress, but made it warmer by also wearing tights and a thrifted cardigan. When I took Gia for her daily walk, I also put on an Indian block print cotton scarf that a friend gave me a long time ago. I don't typically wear much red, but I feel like I'm coming around to it in small doses.
Thursday May 9 - I didn't get a photo that day----sorry. Some days end up unexpectedly stressful. I was wearing homemade clothes, as usual, though.
Friday May 10 - Cleaning day, and I had some errands to walk to, so I wore an old black dress, a thrifted cardigan, a homemade dark brown twill bag (still not blogged yet, sorry! Me-Made-May makes me remember what things I've forgotten to photograph), and my old black clogs. The necklace is silver with an amber drop, a gift from my husband a few years ago.
Saturday May 11 - Here are some of the re-potted houseplants! They all did really well with their transition this year---no casualties and hardly any drooping. I think they're all happy to get fresh soil and bigger pots. Mr Rat and I had a family dinner to attend to celebrate Mother's Day and some May birthdays, so I wore my recent floral and lace pullover dress, as it was finally a nice warm day. It felt good to wear something casual and celebratory. You can also see my most recent dress in progress in the background.
Sunday May 12 - I wore my brown checkered homespun dress. Those of you who remember when I made it last fall might have noticed that I added some more buttons down the front, as I was getting some slight pulling between the original buttons. I think it looks even nicer with more buttons, as the spacing between them is closer to the spacing between the buttons on the long cuffs now. I wore it with a homemade tiger-eye necklace.
This blouse was an experiment. I had a big scrap of fabric left over from making my Easter dress, so I thought that I would test out my idea of taking a dress pattern that I sewed last year, Simplicity 7752 (it is an out of print pattern from the 90s, but it isn't hard to find on Ebay or Etsy if you are looking for your own copy) and making a blouse out of it. Well, it sort of worked, and it sort of didn't.
To make the blouse, I cut out the bodice, sleeves, collar and cuff pattern pieces and left off the skirt. I lengthened the bodice by a good three or four inches, since I knew that on the dress it ends slightly above the waist, and I wanted to make sure it was long enough to reach my waist and get turned up for a hem. Well, that was actually too much length---since I hadn't widened the sides at all, I found that the hem of my blouse bunched slightly around the full gathers of my skirt top. So I ended up taking the first hem that I made and turning it up again. Then it became a rather wide hem, which gives the blouse a rather structured, jacket-like look. In fact, I think that this pattern could make a nice lightweight spring jacket if I was using a heavier cotton or flannel or even a thin denim. My other problem while making this blouse was that the cotton was a little too stiff to ease in well at the shoulders, so I ended up giving them a slight gather at the top. I don't think this looks quite as nice as my first dress version, which has a smooth sleeve cap.
The rest of the construction details are simple: I pinked the inner seams and facing, did the buttonholes by hand, and used thrifted buttons that I've had for several years.
I'm not quite certain about this blouse: while it didn't turn out quite the way I imagined it, it's still wearable and comfortable. I think it could make a good gardening top, especially with the nice flower print. But I feel some doubt that it will become a favorite everyday blouse. I think my adaptation of the original pattern still needs some work----maybe if I try widening the bottom of the blouse so it has a slightly flared look, and maybe also experimenting with the sleeves----short sleeves might look nice. Or maybe I will just stick with sewing this pattern as a dress, since I like the dress that I already made from it.
I think that making this blouse was a good learning process, and I did use up some more of my fabric scraps. If I don't find myself wearing it, even for gardening----it is well made even though it is simple, and I won't feel shame putting in my Goodwill pile to see if someone else wants to give it a home.
What do you do with the clothes that you make when you feel uncertain about them?
Sorry to be a little late posting about the start of Me-Made-May. I've decided this year to not worry about repeating garments or mixing in my vintage sweaters, but to just get dressed as I usually do, and make a record of it. So a lot of my outfits may be very casual-cleaning-studio-work themed. The weather has also been unusually cool and rainy so far this month, so you will see more of my cold-weather wardrobe than in previous years. We will see what weather the weeks ahead hold, and what activities.
I hope that your month is off to a good start! Here is my first week of outfits:
May 1 - Wednesday - I needed to walk to do an errand, so I bundled up in my black flannel dress and tweed wool cape-jacket to keep me warm in the drizzly weather. The bag is one of my recent sewing projects which I have yet to post about on the blog. It is made from a 1970s pattern out of thrifted scraps of denim lined in black cotton. I am also wearing my jewelry set of brown jade that my husband made for me a few years ago.
May 2 - Thursday - Another cold day, spent working at home. I am wearing my homemade shawl collar blouse, a thrifted cardigan, a recently completed ribbon embellished wool skirt that I need to blog about soon (if I can just get more photos of it! The weather hasn't been very cooperative, with all the dark clouds and rain), and my old Lotta From Stockholm clogs. You can't really see it in this photo, but I am wearing a dainty little gold floral vintage necklace with matching earrings.
May 3 - Friday - Cleaning day, so I wore my brown twill jumper over a home-made blouse, along with a thrifted cardigan and boots. My earrings are also homemade, from a set that I made out of red jasper. Not only did I clean, cook, cared for our pets, and did laundry, but I also weeded and planted our little patio garden. I'm eager to see what comes up in the next few weeks.
May 4 - Saturday - My husband and I went out for lunch, so I decided to dress up a little and wear one of my favorite homemade blouses and my homemade long brown skirt. The bag by my feet is another recent sewing project (sewn at the same time as the black bag I used on May 1) made out of remnants of brown twill from my jumper and some brown cotton from a dress that I sewed last year that didn't fit quite right (and thus never made it onto the blog). You can only barely see it, but I'm wearing a vintage scarab bracelet that was once my aunts, and which I have had since I was a little girl.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.