First Half of Me Made May 2015 and Road Trippin’

This should technically be the titled the First 41.9% of Me Made May, but mama’s goin’ on a road trip and will not be blogging for the next two weeks. I’ve had the travel bug BAD for the past year. After our plans to go to Sweden didn’t work out, Marc and I decided to keep things Stateside. Gas can’t stay this cheap forever (can it?!)!

Neither of us has seen the Grand Canyon, so the planning started there and then snowballed into a 4,000+ mile, 12-day, half-of-the-country course. Here’s the tentative map:

road trip map

On the tentative itinerary:

1). Getting through Nebraska unharmed

2). Enjoying the bounty of mountains and beer that Denver has to offer

3). Camping in Canyonlands, UT

4). Camping near the North Rim, AZ

5). Betting in Old Vegas (aka the cheap casinos)

6). Avoiding sunburn at the Flamingo’s pool

7). Exploring Santa Fe

8). Pit stop in Oklahoma

9). Lookin’ at trees in Mark Twain National Forest

Whew. I’m beyond excited to get out of Chicago for a bit and get some nature in my life. I love my city, but hot damn it has been gray and chilly lately! Let me know in the comments if you have any favorite spots in cities along our route. I’m always down to check out the World’s Largest Ball of Twizzlers or whatever it is that people stop to see on the side of the road in ‘Merica.

Oh, and Me Made May! Almost forgot. I’ve been having a pretty fun time with the challenge, but it has already uncovered a glaring weakness in my sewing wardrobe: a serious lack of pants, skirts, and shorts. I might bump the Maritime Shorts to the top of my queue when I get back. Here are a few of my favorites from my shirt-heavy #mmmay15 feed (with a skirt thrown in for good measure!):

me made may 2015 collage

L to R: self-drafted half-circle skirt, Archer Button Up, Plantain Tee, Mandy Boat Tee

How is Me Made May going for you?

Vogue 8904: The Anthropologie Column Dress Knockoff

vogue 8904 striped column dress anthropologie knockoff

For discerning readers out there, two things may look familiar here: the striped fabric and the pattern. I love them both dearly, so it seemed only fitting to birth their love child. After a couple relaxing nights of cutting, pinning, and sewing, out popped my second iteration of Vogue 8904.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

This time around, I made the shorter version but kept it sleeveless for seasonal purposes. The dress took considerably less time overall since the pattern pieces were already cut out and ready to go.

Hot tip: A cool iron works wonders on wrinkled, creased pattern pieces. I picked that info up from one of my Grainline patterns, so thanks, Jen!

Side note: The left side of my face was still very much novocaine numb from an earlier dentist appointment, so please excuse any Derp Face in this post.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

The pattern: V8904, view A without the sleeves

Alterations: added 1″ of length at the waist (same as the last dress)

Fabric: for the base layer (which is completely hidden by the shingles), I used a black knit bought for $3.95/yard at Textile Discount Outlet in Chicago. I’m not sure about the content, but it’s not too dissimilar in stretch from the top layers. For the shingles, I used my beloved striped bamboo-lycra blend from Girl Charlee.

I sewed the neck binding in the flat, like the pattern directs. But then I CUT A HOLE in the binding attempting to trim the excess fabric down. (Insert sounds of glass shattering and a banshee scream.) Instead of unpicking an entire row of lightning-bolt stitches, I cut the neckband off as closely to the original stitching as I could. I then cut a new neckband, stitched it into a circle, press it in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, and sewed it on in the round.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

I’ve sewn a good handful of knit neckbands in the round now, and I’m pretty happy with this result. To anchor the neckband, I used an edgestitching foot to stitch verrrry closely just below the seam line. I sewed the armholes in the round for the hell of it, topstitching near the seam to anchor them. I might go back and unpick that stitching, though, since it’s a little wonky and uneven for my taste. We’ll see if I find the energy.

And now for a side-by-side comparison of V8904 and one of the Bailey 44 layered column dresses I drooled over for ages at Anthropologie (now retired, but originally $178 LOLOLOL):

v8904 anthropologie bailey 44 dress comparison

Obviously this model’s beach house beats my backdrop: a gravel-filled lot where the garbage cans live. Styling aside, V8904 holds its own pretty well, especially considering that this dress cost less than $20 in fabric. The stripe matching ain’t perfect (although the top and bottom shingles are pretty good), but this dress is so forgiving that the imperfect stripes don’t stress me out. This little number will most likely make an appearance on my Me Made May feed… maybe in Vegas?

What are your tried-and-true patterns?

Another Mandy Boat Tee

Mandy tessuti boat tee

When a pattern’s pretty near perfect, why stop at making it twice? This striped number is my third Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee (with a color-blocked fourth one in the works). I went the same route with this one as I did with my cream-colored french terry version, keeping 1/2″ sliced off the pattern’s side seams. I forgot to shorten the sleeves, which I might go back and do since these are just a tiny bit tight below the elbows.

Mandy tessuti boat tee

The fabric is a buttery soft bamboo-lycra blend from Girl Charlee. I’m going to go ahead and say that this is the softest goddamn fabric I have ever worn. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a striped knit with plenty of stretch.

And that’s that! Since I’ve already written about this pattern, let’s move on to one of the many projects in my queue:

MorrisSideModel

The Morris Blazer! This pattern is fresh off the presses from Grainline Studio. It’s an unlined blazer designed for stretch wovens and stable knits, and I am SO EXCITED to sew this up for my spring and summer wardrobe. My mom commented that Hong Kong seams would be perfect for finishing the center back seam allowances, and I totally agree. I’m excited to test that technique on some scraps and then eventually try it with Morris.

What’s in your queue?

Dark and Stormy-ish

dark and stormy with Q ginger, cane & abe rum, and lime juice

Lately, Q Ginger is hands down my go-to mixer. Have you tried it? It’s the ginger-lover’s ginger ale, delivering an earthy bite without the coughing fit that comes with some of the bolder ginger sodas out there.

I almost always have a bottle in my fridge to mix with gin and a little lemon or lime, or vodka and lime if I want a makeshift Moscow Mule. (Note to self: BUY COPPER MUGS). I know, I know: Q Ginger is ginger ale, not ginger beer, the latter of which is required to make a proper mule. But apparently the lines between the two have become blurred over the years, so it’s more a matter of personal taste than what’s on the label.

I’ll take Q Ginger in my mule over most of the ginger beers out there, partially because it’s got nearly half the sugar of a ginger beer like Gosling’s. It also probably costs three times more than Gosling’s. Us cocktail fiends have to choose our battles, I guess.

cane & abe small barrel rum for a dark and stormy

If Q Ginger is my go-to mixer, then the below version of a Dark and Stormy is my go-to cocktail of choice lately. Some friends from Madison, Wisconsin, gifted me a bottle of Cane & Abe Small-Barrel Rum from Madison’s own Old Sugar Distillery. It’s smooth, oaky, and delicious on its own, as I’ve come to learn while enjoying the signature drink in the distillery’s onsite bar: the Standard. The cocktail is simply a glass of this rum served on ice and garnished with a wedge of lime, “Just like the Pirates used to drink.” It’s delicious, but absolutely deadly when you and your friends have hopes to hike later in the day. Three rounds of that will derail any proactive plans.

The Dark and Stormy-ish, which pairs Cane & Abe with a hefty dose of fresh lime juice and ginger ale (or beer), is a lighter option when you want an effervescent rum drink that won’t send you into a stupor.

Dark and Stormy-ish

  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • Juice from half of a juicy lime
  • Q Ginger
  • Lime wedge

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the rum and lime juice and give it a quick stir. Top with Q Ginger. Garnish with a lime wedge. Simple simple!

Obviously this is a Dark and Stormy-ish since we’re technically using ginger ale instead of ginger beer, but it’s also a bit off the wall with its liberal inclusion of lime juice. I think it really brightens up the drink, but you can always use less or omit it.

What’s your go-to cocktail of late?

colette laurel muslin polka dot

Me Made May and a Laurel Muslin

This year, I’m taking the plunge. Me Made May is happening. If you’re not familiar with Me Made May (#mmm15 on social), it’s an annual challenge that encourages seamsters, knitters, crocheters, and the like to make a point of wearing their me-made garments and/or accessories throughout the month of May.

Each participant pledges to wear X number of handmade items each day. I’ve taken the cop-out route by vowing to wear one me-made garment five days out of each week. I need a little wiggle room since I’ll be taking a 12-day road trip to Denver, Vegas, and the Grand Canyon in the middle of the month, and obviously I’ll be wearing this at least once.

Will there be repeats? Of course! My handmade wardrobe simply isn’t big enough at this point to guarantee I won’t outfit repeat. But alas, that’s not what #mmm15 is about, according to its founder, Zoe. I love the concept, because it’s really just about getting more wear out of the garments that we pour so much time (and sometimes tears) into making. All the better If I spot the gaps in my wardrobe while I’m at it. The plan is to post weekly updates on my Instagram using the hashtag #mmm15. Let me know if you’re taking part!

colette laurel muslin polka dot

And now onto the muslin. I belted it because it looks like a straight-up polka-dot sack on my dress form. Shifts just don’t come alive unless they’re on a human bean! Anywho, I sewed this Colette Laurel muslin with some quilting cotton I got on sale for $3/yard. The pattern came together pretty easily, although my invisible zipper is far from invisible. I don’t have an invisible zipper foot, so next time I’ll follow the directions in this YouTube tutorial to get that puppy totally concealed.

back view Colette Laurel muslin

I sewed a straight size 8. It was pretty loose through the waist, so I simply took in the side seams. As for the length, I added 2″ to the pattern at the “lengthen or shorten here” lines and sewed a 1.5″ hem instead of the pattern’s 2″ hem. I’m happy with that length, but this is definitely not a dress that lets you bend over from the waist without flashing some serious butt-side panty. Such is life when wearing a shift dress, I guess?

neckline colette laurel

I forwent hand-sewing finishes and (sloppily) topstitched the bias binding at the neckline and armholes. I haven’t joined the “hand sewing is so relaxing!” camp yet, but I’ll probably give it a shot when I sew this up with my floral cotton.

Pattern Changes for the Floral Laurel

  • Lower the bust darts by 1/2″
  • Lower the back darts by 1″ (#LongTorso)
  • Fix a slightly gaping neckline in the back by slashing the pattern, per this Fashion Sewing Blog tutorial
  • Take the waist in a bit
  • Possibly underline my fabric with a light cotton batiste? I’m afraid the floral cotton is a little too lightweight to wear on its own. I’ve never underlined a fabric before, and it seems like batiste is a safe bet. Thoughts? Tips? General concerns?

I’m really excited to get started with Laurel #2, but I promised Marc I’d make him an octopus shirt before our trip. Next up: a polka-dotted Negroni muslin before I cut into that beautiful Cotton and Steel lawn. I hate to admit it, but I’m coming to appreciate the role of the muslin. I guess that comes with accepting that sewing is not an instant gratification hobby. One day at a time, folks! What are your thoughts on muslins? Love ’em, never bother? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Also, if anyone knows of good camping spots between Denver and Vegas, I’m all ears!

2015 Spring and Summer Sewing Plans

If you follow Colette Patterns’ blog, Coletterie, then you might be familiar with the Wardrobe Architect series. Essentially, it’s a 14-week challenge aimed at creating a succinct, meaningful personal wardrobe. Weekly themes see seamsters defining a core style, exploring silhouettes, picking a color palette, and finally choosing and sewing a capsule wardrobe.

I found out about the series several weeks into this year’s challenge and thought it sounded like a fabulous idea—if only I’d stumbled across it in January. Maybe next year I’ll take the plunge and complete the series from start to finish. This time around, I’m simply taking inspiration from current and past Wardrobe Architect posts. If anything, I’m just glad that the series reintroduced Polyvore back into my life.

Polyvore’s collage function is super fun to play around with and—as you can see above—I’ve already taken advantage of it to create a small but curated plan for my spring and summer wardrobe. For now, I’m focusing on six items that I’m positive will get a good deal of wear, maaaaybe with the exception of the bold floral shift. (It’s spring, let me LIVE A LITTLE.) And now for the plans:

(imagine this without sleeves)

Sleeveless Button Up

Pattern: Grainline Studio’s Archer Button Up

Sewn it already? yes, but this time I’ll use Jen’s pattern tutorial to create a sleeveless version

Possible fabric: solid color; silk, lightweight cotton, lightweight chambray

Scout Tee

Solid Knit Tee

Pattern(s): Grainline Studio’s Scout Tee or Deer and Doe’s Plantain T-Shirt

Sewn it already? yes, both patterns multiple times

Possible fabric: I’d love to find a hunter green similar to the one in the collage above; ponte knit or something similarly sturdy

this, without the gathered cuffs

Floral Shift Dress

Pattern: Colette Patterns’ Laurel

Sewn it already? nope, but it’s bought and patiently waiting in my stash

Fabric: this bright Kaffe Fassett print, which I recently bought online for the sole purpose of creating a floral Laurel. I’m praying I don’t hate it when I rip open the box.

Maritime Shorts

Printed Shorts

Pattern(s): not quite sure yet; I’m considering Grainline’s Maritime Shorts, Sewaholic’s Thurlow Shorts, and Dixie DIY’s Movies in the Park Shorts

Sewn it already? none of ’em!

Fabric: I guess it depends on which pattern I choose, but a printed denim or twill would be cool

to bow or not to bow is the burning question

Full Skirt

Pattern: Deer and Doe’s Chardon Skirt

Sewn it already? no, but I’ve admired this stunner from afar on the likes of several different bloggers

Fabric: dunno yet—so many options—v. overwhelmed

the woven version will ditch the cuffs and maybe the drawstring

Woven Straight Leg Pants

Pattern: True Bias’s Hudson Pants

Sewn it already? yup, two pairs in knit fabric. I’ll use Kelli’s woven Hudson tutorial to make this pair.

Fabric: something breezy but opaque; maybe a lightweight cotton?

And there you have it: six items that I’m hoping will not only come to fruition but also get a lot of wear this coming spring and summer. Here’s hoping the sewing is as fun as the planning! Do you have any seasonal wardrobe plans?

Click here for details about the items shows above.

Split-Hem Linden

linden sweatshirt view B grainline studio

I’m a sucker for stripes. Breton, mariner, rugby, those effortlessly cool black-and-white “French” stripes—my closet has ’em all. But this stripe, this perfectly hued olive-and-cream french terry from Girl Charlee has won me over. Sure, the french-terry loops shed A LOT, but the top side is weighty yet soft to the touch. And those colors! So fresh and crisp next to each other.

In the words of George Costanza, I would drape myself in this french terry if it were socially acceptable. And I might just be able to do that, since this particular fabric is sold in 72″ widths. Hopefully the leftovers will become a pair of Hudson Pants (or Hudson shorts).

split-hem linden sweatshirt grainline studio

Somewhat successful attempt at stripe-matching

The first garment birthed from this wonder-fabric is view B of the Linden Sweatshirt. This is the fourth Linden I’ve made (some for me, some for my girlfriends), so obviously I dig the pattern. I cut out a 4 rather than an 8, since my first sweatshirt is pretty roomy. I forgot to add extra length on top of the 1″ I’d originally lengthened the pattern, so view B was looking reaaaaal short. Luckily Jen of Grainline Studio recently published a tutorial on how to make a split-hem Linden—perfect timing as I’d been drooling over some gorgeous split hems on RTW shirts and needed to add some length to my shirt.

linden sweatshirt view B grainline studio split hem

I’ve never sewn a split hem before, but this one was really easy. Instead of creating one circular band, you sew the ends of each band shut, pin them to the front and back, and then sew them on as if they were one continuous band. For extra security, I backtacked a few times at the connection spot. I took a gamble by cutting the bands vertically, and I’m really happy with the overall look.

linden sweatshirt view B grainline studio split hem

FUZZIES

With my first Linden, I made the mistake of trying to use self sweatshirt fabric for the neckband. What. A. Disaster. It didn’t stretch nearly as much as it needed to, resulting in me cutting it off and replacing it with a much stretchier jersey from my stash. This time, I used some olive green cotton-modal-lycra fabric leftover from a skirt I made this past winter, and the neckband went in with nary a hitch. I used a twin needle to anchor the neckband and finish the sleeves.

In classic Dani fashion (as my bf likes to say), I splashed orange soup onto my shirt the first night I wore it out. Nothing a little Zout can’t fix, tho! What’s the point of sewing clothes for yourself if you can’t be a slob in them, amirite!?