Me Made May 2019

It’s that time of year again! This is the 10th year of Me Made May and I’ve enjoyed watching/reading how other people think and feel about their clothes, how they switch things up and use this month as a useful tool for wardrobe analysis to identify gaps that need filling.

I didn’t decide until this morning to participate. I’m currently in a weird funk about my wardrobe – I like what I’ve made as garments but actually on me, they don’t feel very… well, ME. I want to use May to really think about what I’m wearing and how it makes me feel.

My pledge for this year is to wear at least 1 of my me made clothes every day and to document the outfit as well as how it made me feel. I haven’t decided quite on how to document things yet though! I will also make an effort to repair anything that needs it.

If you want more information about Me Made May, check out this blog from the creator of Me Made May, Zoe!

I’m still here…

…I’m just lost.

I seem to have lost my way a little bit with blogging and social media in general. The constant onslaught of adverts on instagram, some weight gain, a lack of motivation to sew or blog anything, the continuous favouritism displayed in certain areas within the sewing community, the same pattern shapes being released by multiple pattern companies, the desperate graspiness for attention and the repetitiveness on my feeds have left me feeling lacklustre, uninspired and like I have nothing to offer you on this funny little corner of the internet.

But lately I’ve begun to rethink about exactly why I started this blog, why I started sharing my makes on instagram and what I want out of it all and I’ve realised that, ultimately, what I need to do is do it all for me. Now I know that sounds pretty damn obvious (it’s my blog after all) but in the online sewing community at the moment feels ultra competitive with intense pressure to be ‘insta-perfect’ and ain’t nobody got time for that! I certainly don’t.

I sew because it makes me feel like me. I miss it when I can’t do it, I get all scratchy without a project and I love planning projects. I love that sewing means I can make clothes that actually fit that I actually want to wear, no matter my size. I love that this hobby allows me to use skills I worked bloody hard and paid a lot of money to achieve, to create and think in ways my day job doesn’t facilitate. I write because I want to share. It feels great to be able to talk my experiences (even when it all goes a bit wrong!) and I hope that even if only 1 person ever reads this blog that I can offer something they enjoy. I always want to be as genuine and as ‘me’ as possible, not some insta-ready, insta-perfect lifestyle account. I don’t want to do things that mean I fit in. I never seem to fit in and that’s ok.

In particular lately I’ve noticed that instagram feels more and more like a competition. Having found myself thrilled at how many likes a post received only to feel disappointed with my next post, I know now that’s not a terribly healthy way to feel. It’s just an app! I recently unfollowed hundreds of accounts to help my feed fill up with content I actually want to see and I do plan to continue to do this slowly for the next few months. Mentally I don’t have the room for the clutter that is an obligation follow. I’d much prefer to follow 50 accounts I really love instead of 5000 because they once used the hashtag ‘sewing’…

I want to make and share what I want to make and share, in a way that’s true to me. I hope that people will continue to be interested (hello if you’re still reading, by the way) and that they want to engage with me and my blog or instagram, but for the foreseeable I’m choosing to focus on posting things I want to, not things I feel obligated to. I’m not promising I’ll post more often, but I’m still here!

If any of you have felt like this before please comment or email and let me know how you refound your love for your blog, or even if you didn’t or even if it’s not about blogging at all! I’d love to know.

Sew My Style 2019 – Activewear

img_9534I’ve inadvertantly signed up to participate in the Sew My Style challenge for 2019. I didn’t participate in 2018 as none of the patterns really suited my own style but this year is more idea based than a specific pattern. The theme for January is Activewear and as I was already planning on making some, I’m counting this as my entry!

I had intended to make these leggings months ago but as you all know by now I’m a bit [lot] disorganised and it’s taken until January to get these made. Fortunately I had already purchased the pattern, supplies and fabric before Christmas so I was all set to start these.

I ordered some fabric from Fashion Formula. I’ve found looking for decent activewear fabric quite difficult online so I browsed the fabric store list on Melissa’s site and followed her recommendation for the Active Lycra base. I ordered a metre of this amazing cloud print designed by Andrea Muller. I wanted something with a dark background as that’s what I prefer for working out in but I liked the options for colour contrasting this design gave me. I ordered a cheap and cheerful neon yellow lycra from ebay to pick out the yellow in the design as well as increase visibility when running in low light.

The pattern I used is the PB Jam leggings from Fehr Trade. I’ve used the Steeplechase

img_9483

The contrast section is also quite flattering as it gives the appearance of a peachier butt!

leggings pattern so I knew I was probably in for some unconventionally shaped pattern pieces and I was not disappointed! The PB Jam leggings feature a contrast swirl around the thigh which looks really cool. I assembled the leggings on my overlocker and although some of the pattern pieces look really peculiarly shaped, they fit together perfectly fine with some patient and careful pinning. The instructions are clear and easy to follow although I did get a bit confused about the pocket (pro tip – read the instructions once before you start sewing!). I skipped the pocket in my Steeplechase leggings so I wanted to include one this time and it’s actually invisible from the outside. Clever!

The only adjustment I made was to shorten the legs by 6 inches so I could fit the pattern pieces on my fabric. They are still almost ankle length on me so these would be too long at the normal length. I also made a size Medium even though my measurements put me closer to a Large. I’m not quite sure if these come up big for everyone but my last 2 pairs were also Mediums and I’m definitely bigger now than I was then. Thank goodness for lycra! I haven’t worn these for a workout yet as I only finished them yesterday and chose wine over the gym but as I’ve started training for an 8km race I should get a lot of wear out of them!

January sewing plans

Sunset, leaving London, December 2018

It’s January! In 2019! I’m excited! All the exclamation points!

Anyway, hello! It’s a new year and I really enjoy the feeling of possibility that comes with a new year. I’m not going to launch in to a whole ‘New Year New Me’ speech because I probably will continue to be the same me I was in December, except with fewer mince pies and possibly some better shoes.

This month I want to:

  • Make a pair of FehrTrade PB Jam leggings. I bought the pattern and fabric before Christmas but just never made them. As I said in this post I’ve been hitting the gym a bit and some new gym gear that actually fits would be useful
  • Buy all fabric and haberdashery needed for the red cord jacket in my Make Nine list for this year. I don’t plan to make it yet but I like to be prepared and there are a few January sales so I might be lucky and find a bargain
  • Make some pyjamas using the flamingo cotton from my stash. These will be the first make from my Make Nine list and I’m really excited to use the fabric

December in review

I helped my mum make a sparkly party dress for her work christmas party. It was based on 2 patterns in Gertie’s Ultimate Dress book and I had to relearn how to do a lapped zipper as I’d not done one since 2011. I embroidered a gift for my brother and his partner and I taught myself to knit again and I’m really enjoying having something to do in the dark winter evenings when I’m sat on the sofa. I also made Hayden a new tie which he seems to really like!

Sewing plans for Make Nine 2019

It’s that time of year again! I love this time of year, it always feels like a new beginning (I mean, it literally is) but everyone becomes so motivated and keen to plan for the new year and it’s a bit infectious. There have been a flurry of new sewing challenges in the last few days but the one I’ve started (and never finished) for the last 2 years is Make Nine.

Make Nine is “a gentle, self-guided slow fashion initiative for fabric and yarn lovers”. There are no prizes or deadlines and no compulsory makes. Simple!

Last year I made 3 out of my 9, which is the same as I managed the year before. When I plan my makes for the month I do try to have my Make Nine choices in the back of my mind but life and other shiny new fabrics or patterns tend to get in the way and I get a bit off track. I also think tastes change and my own style has changed a little too so I found it quite hard to stick with my original choices.

This year I decided to pick 9 things I wanted to make instead of 9 specific patterns. I wanted the flexibility to change my mind and for some of my choices I haven’t got any clue about what pattern to use!

Red cord jacket – I love this jacket so much. It’s worn by Lorelai Gilmore in the first few seasons of the Gilmore Girls. There were a few similar styles in shops last year but I want to make my own version. I’m torn between the Audrey pattern from Seamwork or the Hampton Jean Jacket from Alina Design Co.

Bra – this was on my list for last year but I just never got round to it. I don’t have a specific pattern in mind, there are so many options and it’s a bit overwhelming! I’m leaning towards a foam cup bra of some kind as this is my usual preference when shopping so any pattern suggestions gratefully received.

Pyjamas – this is more to do with using a fabric that I’ve been stashing for ages than a specific pattern. I bought this fabulous flamingo cotton after seeing By Hand London use it for a pattern and I’ve had it for years. The print is bold and colourful but just not the sort of style I wear. Pyjamas seems like the best use of this fabric! I have a Kwik Sew pyjama pattern already but might treat myself to the Closet Case Carolyn pattern as I’ve seen so many great versions.

Black jeans – although I’ve made jeans before a black pair would definitely fill a gap in my wardrobe. There are a few issues with fit that I want to work on too but I am tempted to try a new pattern to see if that helps at all. I’ve seen a few good versions of the Ash jeans from Megan Neilsen and the Simplicity Mimi G jeans too so I’ll pick a pattern closer to the time.

Sports bra – I joined the gym back in November and although I don’t need a new sports bra I’d like to have a ho at making one! There are a few Simplicity patterns that might work or I might try to copy one I already own.

Embroidery anglais tee – I found a really sweet red woven tee in a Superdry shop that didn’t fit me at all but it was such a nice shape I hope to replicate it if I can! I think I will need to dye the fabric to match the colour as most embroidery anglais comes in plain white.

Leather handbag – another plan with no specific pattern in mind. I made a bag last year using a Niizo craft kit and enjoyed the process but I would love to have a go at one of their more simple patterns in a soft leather. I haven’t sewn leather for years so it would be nice to have another go!

2 wild cards – I’m still undecided about my last 2 choices so I’m going to wait for inspiration to strike as the year goes on. Ideally I need another good stash sorting session as I have a feeling the fabric I already own may lead my choices for the last 2 makes.

I’d love to hear any pattern recommendations you might have for the choices I’m undecided on! I hope to do a quarterly round up to let you know how I’m doing. That way I can let you know what my 2 wild card choices are too!

Steeplechase leggings from Fehr Trade

I recently started going back to the gym. I haven’t been for years and I’m still not sure I have any idea what I’m doing when I’m there but I figured now was probably the time to share some activewear I made… last year!

I actually made these during the first day of the Fold Line’s Sewing Weekender in 2017.IMG_2013 Having read all the blogs and instagram posts about the very first Weekender in 2016 I knew a lot more chatting than sewing would be happening and that taking something complicated that required a huge amount of concentration probably wasn’t a very good idea! I chose to make another pair of Steeplechase Leggings by Fehr Trade (see my original version here, made as part of the Cali Fabrics blog team). The night before I had prepped all my pieces so that I was ready to sew and I’m glad I did as there wasn’t a lot of cutting space at the event that year.

The Steeplechase pattern is designed to fit in 1 metre of fabric for the main pieces and I used a weird, unknown-fibre-content-but-perfect-for-activewear mystery stretchy synthetic fabric in my stash that I’d picked up in my local market for the bargain price of £1.10 a metre. It’s an unusual grey and pink parasol print and I knew it would work perfectly for more running leggings. I IMG_1990was able to use some leftover black lycra from my stash and made a medium as the large had been slightly too big first time around. Thank goodness for Lycra though because 18 months later I am most definitely not a medium but they still fit!! I made no adjustments to the pattern which is unsual for me. Being quite pear-shaped I normally have to grade between 1 or 2 size but because of the negative ease in this pattern I can get away with sewing a straight size. I would strongly suggest checking the stretch percentage in your fabric before you do this though as you don’t want your leggings to be too tight or to end up too baggy once they’ve stretched a bit. I think I sewed these up in about an hour even with all the chatting and learning how to use a new sewing machine (there were digital machines on loan from Janome for the Weekender and it’s a bit fancier than my Elna!). I love a quick sew. For almost the entire time I was sewing them at the Weekender, Melissa, who designs the Fehr Trade patterns, was stood right behind me. Talk about pressure! I don’t think she noticed though, phew!

I’ve worn these for all sorts of exercise in the year since I made them and they are so comfy to wear – the lack of an inner thigh seam means there is no chaffing or rubbing. The seam runs down the back of the leg so maybe next time I might put in some piping to help highlight the design lines. The pattern pieces do look a little alarming at first glance as they’re an unusual shape but this pattern is a surprisingly speedy sew once you get started so I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about sewing their own active-wear!

 

December sewing plans

Real talk – I haven’t sewn anything since September. SEPTEMBER. This is longest I’ve gone without sewing in several years and I simultaneously feel like I don’t really mind that much and that I’ve lost a limb. It’s weird. November was a bit odd as I had to re-adjust to normal life after 4 fantastic weeks away and it took me a while to get settled back in. That combined with the changing seasons and darker evenings makes it feel like my sewjo is still pottering around New Zealand somewhere. I’m still enjoying looking at other people’s makes here and on Instagram but I just cant seem to make myself sew anything. In November I also re-joined the gym which has altered what time I have in the evenings and that’s taking some time to get used to too. Also my jeans don’t fit because my legs have changed shape, which is both a positive and a negative, I guess.

Today I listened to the planning episode of the Love To Sew podcast and the first tip I want to try is to schedule in dedicated sewing time to see if that helps get me out of this funk I’ve ended up in.

This month in my scheduled sewing time I would like to:

  • make some undies. I have enough jersey scraps to be able to make a few pairs and I really need a few new pairs.
  • make a tie for Hayden. He bought a really lovely cotton from Liberty and I know this will be a nice easy sew.
  • Catch up on some blog posts. I think I make this a goal for every month… at least I’m consistent!

November in review

I fibbed, I did actually sew something. I repaired some pyjamas I ripped whilst I was away (on the first night!). I did also do a little tidying in my sewing space too but I still have a long way to go there. I also finished an embroidery hoop kit from Oh Sew Bootiful and that was a really soothing project. Maybe more embroidery will help me get me groove back? I also designed and made an embroidery hoop for my mum for her birthday and she liked it – success! I didn’t make any running leggings, although I did order some fabric and buy the pattern. Definitely steps in the right direction! There was no wardrobe purge either and that feels very overdue so I’ll try to make that a focus for this weekend. Overall it’s been an odd month. I feel weirdly neutral about it all but I also feel like I might be coming back out on the other side so there’s hope yet!