Me Made May – week 2

Not as many this week. 

Monday – Hot Patterns Riviera Summer Breeze 

This was a UFO (UnFinished Object) that I finished a couple of weeks ago, and it was the first time to wear it. Yes, you may recognize it as the same material as the other top last week, but definitely a different style. I may yet convert that self-fabric-I-already-converted-to-grosgrain-tie (at left waist), to a grosgrain “belt” with snaps. While it wasn’t egregious, several times over the day it did come untied. 

Tuesday – Vogue 1236

 
I made this last summer out of old fashioned cotton seersucker. It’s one of my favorites for comfort on a hot day! It has a tie of the same fabric but I decided to wear it with a belt this time. Getting better with fitting here; although it’s a loose style, the shoulders aren’t falling off and I’m covered. Every time I wear this a lady at my office threatens to steal it off me. 

Wednesday – NA

I had a meeting with a client Wednesday morning, and chickened out of wearing any of my own makes, mostly due to lack of confidence that any of my makes were really the appropriate style. I ended up actually buying a knit jacket that fit in well.

Thursday – HotPatterns 1133 Plain & Simple tee 

 Same starting pattern as the floral layered top, but made with a neatly textured cheap poly I got to practice working with knit fabrics. I actually made it before the floral top. I wore this half the day, then went home not feeling well.

Friday – NA
Spent the day home being sick, so no me-makes & even if there were I wouldn’t have been up for a pic. 

 

Me Made May – week 1

As mentioned, I only wore me-mades during the week. I did finish another top, and most of yet another, this weekend though, so there’s hope for more yet! :-)

Review of last week’s Twitter pics:

Prior Friday –  Vogue 8831

This one was pretty straightforward.  Based on reviews from PR (my go-to before I attempt any pattern), I sized down more than usual even, and then used yet another size down on the cowl. If I were to make it again, I’d also raise the neckline maybe half an inch. I made this with a soft very drapy rayon knit from Hancocks, and used French seams throughout. Considering this one successful because no one believed it wasn’t purchased…. 

Monday – Simplicity 1693, view B/F

I liked the longer back of F and the sleeves on B.  

Tuesday – linen pants

I honestly cannot remember what pattern these are from, only that when I finished I was so disappointed in the fit. It was my first pair of pants, and I ended up taking out multiple inches at the waistband – to fit my junk in the trunk, the hip size that was closest to me came with a huge waist. But lessons learned!   

Wednesday – McCall’s 6702

One of my favorites. I bought this pattern while visiting my sister in NC and we both made this shirt over that weekend, so I could teach her a little about sewing clothes. I call it my “same-not-same” shirt. I didn’t get a pic on Wednesday; this one is from the weekend we made them.   

There’s nothing on the neckline binding in the pattern, but it goes pretty low, so I added three working snaps (my sister opted to top stitch the neckline closed – there’s still plenty of room to pull on overhead). I also stitched in the ditch everywhere, so no top stitching, and used this crazy awesome linen with tons of colors. I love the sleeves and it’s one of my most-worn items. Not bad for a pattern I didn’t choose!

 

Thursday – Wearing History 1940s Overalls, jeans view

In spite of/because of the color, I get lots of comments on these! :-) I originally made them for dancing when the Jive Aces come into town, but they’ve worked out pretty well, and have great pockets. 

I did curve the high waistband, and took that in quite a bit (same “problem” as before, LOL), but otherwise these are as-written.  

Friday – HotPatterns 1133, “Plain & simple fitted T”

This was my second go-round at this pattern. I layered two very thin, too sheer alone, fabrics for the body and left the sleeves single layer. I did add bust darts as well. 

 

Me Made May progress

So, 4 days-ish (since I’m only counting work days) of Me Made May and I’m seeing serious holes in my plan! I need more business-casual appropriate clothing, much more. 

I also really need to conquer pants fitting. I’ve made two pair in woven so far. The first pair “fits”, as in, yes, I can wear them, but “why, yes, they are home made” is quite an appropriate answer when asked the source. The pockets stick out, the crotch hangs low (which in pants #2 was intentional, since they were 40s styled)… 
I have quite a few patterns on my table right now, begging for a decision to be made on which is next-in-queue.   

  
I swear I do have pants patterns; they’re just so challenging for me (I have a big butt I cannot lie, LOL, in comparison to my waist) that they rarely come to the top of the list. I also have an unfinished 60s dress that didn’t quite work out, and now I need to learn how to do underarm gussets, but I think I’ll save that one for later. 

Follow me on Twitter: @birdsofakettle

Me Made May

#mmmay15

Ok, so I think Me Made May is probably really for people who are better at sewing & fitting than I, and I’m not even positive I have enough different items to make it work… but I’m going to try for a version of Me Made May. I haven’t found any “official” rules, but I’ve seen several different versions of the declaration of joining… so here’s mine:

I, Amy, of Birds of a Kettle, commit to wearing me-made items as many workdays as possible in May!

I might repeat a lot, LOL, since I haven’t got a huge number of completed items that are suitable for workday wear (many of my earlier projects are swing dancing dresses that are a bit too fancy). I’ve usually got several projects going at any one time, though, so I will focus on adding more completed-and-wearable me-makes in May. 

I did wear Vogue 8831 on Friday to work, so although this post is not on May 1, I did wear a me-made item that day (feel free to ignore the lovely laundry room background!).  

 
Not sure yet what I’ll wear Monday, but whether this is officially part of Me Made May or not, I will be posting work daily pics on Twitter using #mmmay15. Feel free to follow along, or tell me if you love or hate any of my makes! I look forward to feedback.

Another week down

Went to NY last weekend with my twin sister to see my brother and nephew’s last play (the organization they are involved with is making some big changes in response to loss of funding from New York State, so there won’t be any more shows). 

It actually might have been their best ever – out with a bang, as another sister (I have a few) described it.

 

The pic above is about half the cast, the Whos. The rest of them are behind the curtain waiting to show their part in Suessical…. the show was great, the costumes were fun, and both the actors & audience members had a good time. Success all around!

As an aside, my twin sister stayed with me an extra day, before she headed back to NC. She has no reasonably-close IKEA, so we went and she picked up a Kallax 4×4 bookcase, to help organize at her house. I love these bookcases. Please don’t ask how many  Kallax/Expedit (predecessor) bookcases-that-are-pretty-much-used-for-everything-but-books exist in my & my husband’s house; I might be embarrassed to answer! I say might because I honestly haven’t counted… but they are dang useful. 

My twin also helped me finish installing some cleats in the closet-about-to-be-an-office, so painting that and actually getting the standing desk reinstalled is on the docket soon. Then, hey, wow, the office-that-became-a-gym will actually be able to be used as a gym! And since I’m down 8 needed pounds from my Whole 30 experiment, going for another slightly-modified round (starting next week) and being able to add in some gym work (time to swing the monkeys!) will hopefully help get me even closer to my fitness goals. :-)

I don’t know what’s up with my dash happiness tonight. Maybe I can distract you from them with a pic of my finally-corralled monkeys? 

  

PS You know I purposely went back and added “finally-corralled” just so I could have another dash, right? ;-)

PPS Those monkeys are in kilograms and poods, not pounds.

Well… I know it’s a bit dusty in these parts

But I’m getting back into it. Might take me a bit but I plan to post more often! I’ll try to update on Tuesday evenings – I’ve already added a reminder to my calendar even.

Life has been a little crazy, commuting still takes too long, LOL, and we’ve had quite a bit of change at work, so I’m pretty much happy to be breathing at the moment. The change is for the good, but it still kicks up a learning curve.

Among the things taking up my time:

Maxtla needs lots of exercise so many weekends we spend time at the dog park visiting his dog buddies and throwing squeaky balls. His latest favorite is  a “Meteor Ball” by Outdoor Dog which has a nice tail – it stays generally clean(er) while the main part of the ball gets slobbery from him picking it up – that I can fling it with!

I’m also still working through converting the room that was my office to a gym, with my standing desk/office being moved into the closet. The gym part is pretty much done, but I’ve run into a few snafus getting the closet conversion completed (dang moving studs), so my office stuff is still taking up space on the gym floor. That should soon that will be usable though. Pictures later.

Today is my last day of a Whole30 experiment. I know, can you imagine? I’m not really much of a meat-eater, but having an obsession with sugar is bad… and since quitting cold turkey hasn’t been at all successful, so I decided doing something drastic was in order.

I have to say, it’s been wildly more successful than I expected. Today is 30 days without sugar… or beans, grains, dairy, or pretty much any packaged foods at all. The sugar was so overwhelmed by everything else I was choosing not to eat, that I didn’t really miss it much after the first week… but I really need some beans & rice, LOL!  I plan to take a week or so break, then adjust the rules to my own sensibilities, and try another round. (Obviously keep the no sugar rule as that’s my main goal.) I’ve already got ideas for making food prep easier, as that took up a huge amount of time and planning.

Tomorrow I weigh in to see if the change has effected any weight loss. By the pants method, I’m definitely down, which is good, as it was another of my goals. I also have some pretty big-for-me-fitness goals that I’ll share more about later. I’m also still running monthly fitness challenges at work (sorry colleagues, that this month has been so haphazard – better next month I promise!), that I plan to post more about.

Additionally, I’m continuing with my multi-year project to have most of the clothes in my closet be ones made by me. There’ll of course be a few pattern reviews coming, for my sewing friends and whoever else might interested in seeing the clothing pieces.

Later this week my twin sister comes up to Maryland and we’re off to see family for the weekend. I’ve also got an Excel Dashboards training session to watch, and I’m studying for CompTIA certification (nope, not busy enough, right?).

For those who remember my first focus –  bird photography has unfortunately fallen by the wayside and will need to stay on the wayside for a while… but I’ll always come back to it! To tide you over, here’s a Green Heron at Cape May, actively fishing last September (click the photo to see it bigger):

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Pint and a halfs

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Thanks to my twin sis, I now have 9 pint and half Ball canning jars… they are however not going to be (generally) for canning!

I’ve had some nice plastic containers, with happy spring green latches and seals, for some time, and recently I’ve noticed the seals are less effective than they used to be. That combined with my effort to use less plastic overall makes these new jars destined to be my new lunch containers, and they’re just the right size.

Lately I’ve been slackin’ a bit, buying lunch out too much, so this is perfect for multiple goals. I spent the afternoon grocery shopping, washing & chopping, assembling… Now I’m good to go for the week.

I made a nice tangy vinaigrette with coconut oil, cider vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and a couple of dates so it didn’t end up too tangy.

That got whizzed in the VitaMix, then a couple of tablespoons went into the bottom of each jar. Next I dropped in a pile of chopped veggies (mixed sweet peppers, zucchini, chickpeas), followed by a few drained capers – OMG, so tasty and no salt needed for the dressing – then protein. A couple jars have tuna, and the others more chickpeas. This is all topped by torn-into-pieces mixed greens. It doesn’t look like much greens, but you can push a lot in there… plus I get more greens in smoothies.
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Speaking of greens, I found a new mix by Earthbound Farm at Costco today – Power Deep Green Blends, and it has baby kale, chard, and spinach.

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I did make a smoothie with it when we got home from Costco and it was tasty (the greens, blueberries, coconut milk, chia seeds, and two dates since the berries weren’t very sweet). Worth a try if you haven’t purchased that mix yet!

The other lunch item, highly experimental, is cukes stuffed with a mix of cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, and a few remaining chickpeas. I mixed in a little bit of protein powder as well, going on the assumption that it would help firm up the mixture. I’ll see how it goes tomorrow. The dill is from our backyard.

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Seersucker!!

I’ve been sick the last few days, so not doing much. I slept until 10 on Saturday, which is really late for me, but woke up finally feeling better, so I guess my body just needed it.

I worked a bit on the Hot Patterns Riviera Summer Breeze, which looks good pinned just so on the dressform right now, but not so much on me. I will continue to fuss with it, but needed a break from the the slippery, slithery charmeuse (definitely not my usual choice in fabric).

It’s still summer, and it’s still hot, so I decided to break out the seersucker I got a few weeks ago on sale for $5/yard. $5/yard makes this a pretty inexpensive dress – I only used about two yards of fabric – as long as my time isn’t counted, LOL. (But I enjoy it, and there are certainly worse ways to spend my free time.) This is definitely unlike the typical 50s dresses I make for swing dancing, which usually take closer to 5 yards!

Out of the “antinami cabinet” (Scruff purchased a beautiful Ikea file cabinet for me, to prevent my “drowning in a pattern tsunami”; hence the nickname for the cabinet) came Vogue 1236:

20140713-210210-75730192.jpg The pattern’s fabric suggestions even include seersucker, so I’m thinking match made in heaven.

I have to say I really enjoyed making this one. Two main pieces, plus pockets and facings, made it really straightforward to make. To make it even simpler, I didn’t even choose to use the facings – instead I used bias tape turned inside to finish the neckline and armholes. This looks good (if I do say so myself), and gives me an extra 1/2″ of coverage, since I don’t turn it in as wide as the seam allowance on the facings would be.

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The pockets were inserted with an extra step or two than I’ve used before, and while at the time I considered it fussy, the pockets seem to want to be turned to the front, even though they are not tacked to the front, so there’s a benefit to the extra steps.

I also decided to finish the inside seams with the same binding as the neckline, so the dress would last longer as wash’n’wear – no raveling seams.

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Final assessment: definitely worth making, possibly even multiples of. I can see this being worn a lot… (Pardon the poor photo; it’s dark & pouring out and I just finished it, so this is what I have).

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I’ve been reading up on fitting, and actually adjusted the pattern for my sloping shoulders – no little “wing” sticking up, yet lingerie straps are covered. Considering it a success!

SewNews HotPatterns 1137 Sewalong

The big news according to Scruff is – I’ve joined the Dark Side and bought a Mac. Hopefully, that means fewer issues! This is the inaugural Mac post…

 

SewNews magazine is hosting a sewalong of HotPatterns 1137, the Riviera Summer Breeze tie front sleeveless top.

HotPatterns 1137 Riviera Summer Breeze Tops pattern envelopeSince it’s summer weather, and I had the pattern, I’ve joined. This is week two, and we’ve chosen our fabrics, decided whether to convert the top into a dress, and cut out all our pieces, as well as stitched one seam.

The reviews of this pattern indicate that’s it’s pretty straightforward to put together.  Having made a least a few tops (and many bodices, in the construction of dresses), I thought this would be a pretty simple sewalong! So far, it’s been more of a challenge than I expected, and I was already anticipating issues with with my fabric, since I usually use less slippery ones!

Some things for folks to consider when choosing this pattern:

  • you need a really light, drapey fabric, but not sheer unless you plan to wear something under;
  • there are several “join this piece” “to this piece” pattern pieces. Tip: the sheets are in order and connect to the next page, and it seemed to work best if the paper edges were abutted, not overlapped at all;
  • the pattern pieces look really weird! You cut an entire front, that is very oddly shaped because there will be gathers in what ends up being a dart on one side, and then you cut the drapey part that goes over, which looks like a diagonal half of a bodice, instead of the more standard vertical half. So expect to look at this one a while if you have any fitting adjustments to make; and
  • speaking of fitting adjustments, in an attempt to get my me-made garments better fitted to me, I did a lot of futzing with this oddly shaped pattern. I won’t know til later whether my adjustments were effective.

The fabric:

Poly "hammered satin" charmeuse

A poly “hammered satin” charmeuse from my stash

A poly “hammered charmeuse” from my stash. My adjusted pieces are all cut out and awaiting the next task.

In the meantime, a sneak peek at another project I’ll be sewing at the same time (not literally, Scruff, and my fingers usually make it without being sewn together too):

100% cotton seersucker

100% cotton seersucker

Wow, USA Special Olympics!

A big congrats out to my nephew, who was among the athletes representing New York State at the USA Special Olympics. It’s held every four years just like the world Olympics folks may be more familiar with.

This year it was in New Jersey, at several universities near Princeton. The athletes stayed in dorms, and I hear my nephew had a great time!!

He played in three events, Singles, Doubles, and Team Bocce, and came home with three medals: two silvers and a bronze!! Too exciting!

Huge congrats, Dana!!!