A Swingy Plantain Tee and Another Use for the Magic Eraser

Before we get to the good stuff (another Deer & Doe Plantain Tee), let’s talk about a wonderful little household item: The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.MagicEraserOriginal

Are you familiar? I mainly use ’em to clean up marks on the walls, but I recently learned of another amazing use: CLEANING THE IRON.

A stubborn mystery fabric had gunked up my iron pretty badly, and in a fit of desperation, I took to the rabbit hole of internet forums for help. Bless your heart, commenter DLM2000. Not only does the Magic Eraser work like a charm, but it’s also waaaay cheaper than toxic-smelling iron cleaner that runs $20 bucks a tube. Try it out next time your iron’s due for a cleaning!


Now for the main attraction. I bought this lightweight striped knit with the intention of copying a swingy, tent-like RTW shirt I wear frequently. But tracing a knit top with wonky design lines turned out to be a little more complicated than I’d anticipated, so I decided to go with a tried-and-true shape that I know works for me: the Plantain Tee. (See versions 1 and 2.)


This time around, I added fullness to the back of the shirt using this Grainline tutorial. I then cut the back into four separate pattern pieces and added seam allowances. I sewed the whole shirt up on my serger and used a twin needle for the hems.


As you can see, I love me some stripe interplay. For the sleeves, I went with this above-the-elbow length, which is great for this “transitional” weather we’ve been having in Chicago. #optimistic


I don’t have too much else to say that I haven’t already covered in previous posts. As far as free sewing patterns go, this one’s a winner.

Are you good at sewing basics? With Me Made May coming up, I could use a boost in the basics department. Speaking of Me Made May—who’s in?! I still need to pledge…




Thoughts on Me Made May 2015

So, Me Made May 2015 has come and gone. What did I learn? To respect the almighty #mmm15 hashtag and its inspiring bounty of outfits. That I have a uniform and it consists of a boxy T-shirt, long necklace, and jeans. That a mere year ago, I didn’t understand the importance of “finishing” the guts of a garment. Whoopsies.

me made may 2015
The four most popular makes, according to Instagram likes. Clockwise from upper left: modified Scout Tee, french terry Mandy Boat Tee, jersey Mandy Boat Tee, split-hem Linden Sweatshirt

It’s been a pretty revelatory month. My goal for the challenge was to wear one me-made garment five days per week. In reality, I wore one (and sometimes two!) me-made garments 24 out of 31 days. I’d say that’s a goal achieved!

Here are my top takeaways from this year’s Me Made May:

  1. Taking a daily outfit pic is exhausting. For those of us who don’t revel in posting #OOTD snaps on Instagram, taking bathroom selfies or forcing a loved one to take yet another boring outfit photo gets old real quick. The founder of MMM makes it clear that the challenge isn’t about daily pictures, but it kiiiind of seems like par for the course.
  2. I should make more bottoms. I wore me made bottoms five times throughout the challenge: a half-circle skirt three times and Hudson Pants twice. Looks like I’ll bump a skirt and pair of Maritime shorts up to the top of my queue.
  3. I’m in love with my Mandy Boat Tees. Seriously, I don’t know how Tessuti made such a gem of a one-size-fits-all pattern. I’ve got two of ’em, and I’m not ashamed to admit to wearing each twice throughout the challenge. I suggest making several for yourself if you haven’t already. Kelli’s got the idea.
  4. Building a handmade wardrobe takes time. Some sewing folks seemed to wear me-made from head-to-toe for most of the month. It’s inspiring and daunting at the same time! I’ve accepted that either 1). These folks have been sewing for awhile, and I too can get there someday, or 2). They have seven arms.
  5. Take a look back to take a step forward. You don’t realize how far you’ve come with a skill until you look back at earlier work. I was planning on wearing a floral shirtdress I’d made last year until I spotted the armhole seams, which I’d left completely unfinished. The humanity! That day I didn’t have the time to go back and fix it, so I sadly left the dress in the closet. It’s hard to believe that I made that dress just one year ago. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about finishing seams. What’s the point of making a beautiful dress if the insides look all gnarly? I don’t have a serger, so I’ve used pinking (probably more often than I should have), zigzag stitches, flat-felled seams, and french seams to finish my woven garments. The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing contains a bunch of pretty finishes, and I’m excited to try even more.

I’d say Me Made May was a success. It’s revealed holes in my wardrobe and lit a fire under my buns to get sewing again. I definitely won’t miss taking those daily pics, tho. I like to limit my selfie game to horribly unflattering Snaps, thank you very much.

Did you take part in MMM? How’d it go for you?

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?

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!