Me Made May 2017 musings

So #MMMay17 has just wrapped up (literally, its 8.30pm on the 31st as I write), and I wanted to get down some thoughts about it before I forget. I didn’t make a formal pledge or anything like I have in the past, but I thought I would use the month as a chance to get some perspective on my handmade wardrobe, and try to figure out what I should be making for this winter (if anything). I easily managed to wear at least one handmade garment each day in May, which was a nice change from my last Me Made May, but given that I tend to sew mostly basic separates it wasn’t exactly surprising! This is what I wore last month:

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Looking at this collage, I can see that I definitely have favourite colours and silhouettes! Denim, stripes, grey and navy are definitely my neutrals, with reds, greens and mustard as accents. It has been unusually cold this May, with snow and freezing southerly gales, so I’ve been pretty rugged up. My hand knits got a really good workout, as did my Cascade duffle coat and Waver raincoat. I think my Driftless cardigan and Safran jeans were probably the MVP’s in my wardrobe this month (and most months), though I’ve certainly got good wear out of my Lark tee shirts too! I also used my Genoa tote bag nearly every day, though it didn’t make it into any of the pictures. I started the month putting a star emoji on the days where I wore all handmade garments, but I apparently gave up on that pretty early!

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Oslo Coat by Tessuti and Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files

So I think I’m actually pretty well covered for winter clothes, but I do have a short list of things I think would fill the few holes that I’ve noticed. I could really do with another pair of jeans, so I’m going to finally pull finger and make some Ginger jeans. Hopefully I’ll get started on those during the long weekend we have coming up! I also have a few pieces of merino set aside for more long sleeved Lark tee shirts and maybe another toaster sweater, because I can never have too many knit tops. I wear my driftless cardi so much that I’m going to make another one in some wool ponte, which will get me closer to my goal of spending the winter swaddled in snuggy wool. Finally, I’ve decided I’d really like another warm coat, but in a neutral colour. I love my Cascade duffle coat, but a bright red coat can be a bit limiting sometimes! I’ve been wanting a charcoal or navy coat, and when Tessuti released the Oslo Coat pattern earlier this week I decided it was just what I was looking for. Emma (from Emma’s Atelier) and I are going to sew the Oslo up together, its always nice to have a sewing buddy! And I think that’s about it, which is pretty good. Hopefully I can get those things whipped up soon to keep me warm, so that I can get sewing the summery pieces I want to be able to take to the UK later in the year.

I’ve enjoyed Me Made May again this year, not only does it give me something to think about and to base my sewing plans on (rather than my usual ”ooh, shiny!” approach), but I really love seeing how people wear their hand made clothes in their everyday life rather than just how they’ve styled them for their blog posts. I always find myself reconsidering patterns that I’ve previously dismissed when I see them during MMMay! My to-sew list is unreasonably long these days…

A toasty sweater

Well, winter has arrived a month early in New Zealand! There’s snow on the hills around Wellington, and a savage southerly is whipping through the city. Time to sew some of my stashed merino!

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I really wanted to make the Toaster Sweater pattern from Sew House Seven after seeing so many versions made up during the northern hemisphere winter, I love the split hem with its mitred corners and the funnel neck of version 2. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the online sewing community, but I really hate turtle necks. I just hate having anything snug around my neck, even tightly wrapped scarves make me feel like I’m suffocating. I thought the funnel neck on this pattern would be wide enough not to freak me out though, and I was right!

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I used some merino interlock from The Fabric Store, and it is the softest, cuddliest merino I’ve ever sewn with. It has a bit more heft than most merino jersey I’ve sewn (obviously, as it’s a double knit), so I thought it might have enough body to keep the shape of the neckline but still drape nicely. I think I was mostly right, the funnel neck does sag a bit in the centre front, but I think if I had interfaced it it might have ended up too stiff.

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I cut it out in a single layer so that I could match the stripes, which was pretty successful. The merino is so soft and stretchy that it was pretty forgiving, but it was a bit tricky to keep it square as I was cutting it out. It also wanted to grow and shift as I sewed it, so I used about 15 times as many pins as I usually would when sewing a knit!

That mitred hem is possibly my favourite part. It was simple enough to sew, but looks so nice and clean! I think I’ll definitely be borrowing that part of the pattern for other tops, it will be easy enough to graft onto another hem.

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So there were a few things about this pattern which I found a bit odd. I had never heard of a double stitch before, which is the method recommended for constructing this top, but it’s when you sew a row of straight stitches and then a row of zigzags next to it. I’m sure it probably works (otherwise it wouldn’t be in the instructions, right?), but I was weirded out by it enough that I just used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew the shoulders and neckline, and then overlocked the side seams and sleeves. the hems are all top-stitched with a twin needle, as usual. I also thought it was weird that the neck facing which folds under to give the funnel shape didn’t extend to the shoulder seams, it means that it’s a bit messy around the shoulders on the inside. Its also super short! I’m really short waisted, and this is the shortest length I would want it to be. Tall sewers beware!

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If I make another Toaster Sweater 2, I think I’ll extend the facing piece so that I can catch it in the shoulder seams when I sew in the sleeves, just to keep it neat and hold down the facing a bit more securely. I think I might go down a size as well. This is the Medium, which is where my measurements put me, but I wonder if it would be a better fit in a Small. In this drapey knit I think the slightly oversized look is fine, but I have a more structured cream wool tentatively earmarked which I think would be a bit tent-like in the bigger size!

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I do like the slightly 1960’s beatnik vibe this top has, especially with my Safran Jeans and some flats. I just need to find a poetry slam or something (I wish I could find a poetry slam, does Wellington have such a thing? I so desperately wanted to see Kate Tempest in September, but she’s only doing one show while we’re in the UK and its the day before the only other thing we have tickets for. Such a bummer!) Zelda also gives it the cat-fur seal of approval, so it must be good. A few more snuggly wool tops, and the southerly can come at me!

Double Denim

At the end of last year, Emma from Emma’s Atelier organised a sewing challenge for the Wellington Sewing Bloggers. We were going to finally stop procrastinating and sew jeans! Now, I got my jeans finished by the end-of-challenge date in March, but the date was pushed back a few times to accommodate others who were still sewing. Eventually the 6th of May was decided on, so I decided to sew up something else for the challenge as I had already blogged my jeans

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I was going to have a crack at some Ginger Jeans, but I didn’t get organised in time. Instead I decided to use the rest of the stretch denim I had left over from my Safran Jeans to make another version of the skirt from v1247. I really liked my first version of this skirt, but it is pretty short, and the fit is all a bit squiffy because I was more worried about pattern matching than the trifling matter of accurate seam allowances…

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This version does fit much better, I don’t have the odd bubbling above the pockets like I did with my first version. Guess those seam allowances do matter huh? I added 3” to the hem of this one, and I prefer the longer length. I also added an exposed zipper up the back (I thought sewing denim and using a metal zip made this skirt enough like jeans to qualify for the challenge!). I used Megan Nielsen’s tutorial for the zip, and it worked fairly smoothly. It isn’t as neat inside as I would like, due to the way the seam allowance gets clipped, but I can live with it! I bound all of the internal seams with Hug Snug, to keep the bulk down (and because I couldn’t be bothered making bias tape). It looks a bit dodgy up close, but if you aren’t looking too closely it looks pretty good!

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I’ve been wearing this skirt heaps since I finished it, I didn’t realise I needed a denim skirt but it has obviously filled a gap in my autumn wardrobe!

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I’ve also made a long sleeved version of the Deer & Doe Melilot Shirt, in a Robert Kaufman chambray from fabric.com (I think it’s this one, but I’m not 100% sure). I love my short sleeved one, so I thought a long sleeved version would go well in my wardrobe, and I was right! I really love this shirt. I’ve seen some mixed reviews of the Kaufman chambray around, but it’s really hard to find lightweight chambray in store in Wellington, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s really nice and soft, and it pressed and sewed up nicely. Hopefully it’ll wash well, because I’d like this shirt to last.

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This is the first time I’ve sewn tower plackets, and I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. There was a little bit of head scratching as I tried to get everything to fold correctly, but it all suddenly fell into place and looked like what I was expecting! I put a bar tack right across the top of the split to reinforce it, as I’ll be wearing these sleeves rolled up most of the time, but next time I think I’ll use a shorter vertical bar tack to strengthen that area. The long bar tack is just a bit clumsy looking! I am happy with the way the cuffs turned out, the curves on the cuffs, collar and pockets look really nice together.

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I hemmed this one with some grey bias tape, as I’ve never been happy with the turn and stitch hem treatment on my first shirt. Bias tape just sits so much flatter around those sharp curves at the side seams. The buttons are my favourite mother of pearl shirt buttons from Made Marion Crafts in Wellington.

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I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with those big wrinkles above the pockets on this shirt, I wonder if that just happens with dropped shoulder seams? Any suggestions? I have so many versions of this planned now, I’ve got some rayon for another long sleeved version, and some more cotton for a long sleeved dress hack, and some linen for another short sleeved summer version… I need a job with a smart/casual dress code so I can wear them all!

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In the end, only Emma and I had finished items for the challenge reveal, so here we are in matching denim (she used the same stuff for her Safran Jeans), and with our matching Ida Clutches, before we had delicious chips and soda at Six Barrel Soda Co!

Finally, does chambray count as denim? Is this outfit double denim? I really like both pieces, so I’ve decided not to be to bothered about wearing them together. Double denim is in now anyway, right? I’ve seen the hipsters wearing it for years! Either way, down with fashion rules…