In Honestly

Me Made May: loose plans, solid discoveries

If I learned anything last year it’s not to set too many goals in stone. However, one can’t really reach goals without at least some kind of direction and a rough plan of action. To better set myself up for success I have several goals, stretch goals, and absolute bottom line goals in mind to help me achieve my big sewing accomplishment this year: wear one handmade garment everyday for the entire month of May (you can read more about this goal in my previous blog post).

I can list any numerical goal of things to make, but if I can’t narrow down WHAT I want to sew/wear/love for Me Made May then I’m pretty much hopeless. After all, I already have a bin full of me-mades that never get worn. As you may have noticed, I’ve been living in leggings, over-sized sweaters, and looser dresses/tunics for a while now. I’ve also had a big itch to sew something vintage, but nothing in my stash suits my needs at this time.

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So I started going through my Pinterest board of completed projects over the past few years and I discovered the following things:

  • The vast majority of my handmade creations are collared shirts or shirt dresses, or really basic tunics with a simple neckline.
  • I haven’t sewn many pairs of pants, and lately I don’t have in interest in working on a wearable pair, which is probably why my handmade shirts don’t get worn as much because I don’t have matching bottoms to wear them with.
  • I like classic, uncomplicated shapes with a vintage influence and timeless appeal. Definitely utilitarian, but also a bit feminine.
  • Sturdy, hearty fabrics and natural fibers are my favorite, especially cottons and substrates from the quilt industry. I don’t sew “dainty” fabrics, though I do like a cotton voile or lawn every once in a while.
  • I’m the most comfortable when I wear looser shapes, but they must fit correctly. There’s a fine line between that amazing silhouette that’s featured on nearly every Japanese sewing book lately, and a dress that’s just plain too big and poorly fit.

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It’s clear that I need to sew comfy pullover dresses, leggings, and casual sweater coats, but I do have many RTW leggings and sweaters already, so the main garments I need to be focusing on are the dresses. I am still battling tendinitis, and there are now only fifteen weeks before May 1st, but if I could sew ten dresses to mix and match with my other RTW clothing (along with the few handmade things I do like and wear) I think I could make it through the month of May and still feel like a good chunk of my daily outfit was Me-Made.

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Obviously I’d love to add many more dresses, some pairs of me-made leggings, and some sweaters to the equation (I’m also dying to get back into knitting! I could use a new hat.) but those are stretch goals at this point.

I took advantage of a 5 for $5 Simplicity pattern sale at Jo-Ann’s last weekend and got several super basic potential wardrobe staples. I’d love to have just one or two pullover dresses that I could use as pattern blocks and sew over and over again to help reach my goals. That way I’d be doing the minimal amount of pattern tracing and muslin fitting.

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I’m also realizing in order to make just 10 dresses go as far as they possibly can in the mix-and-match-wardrobe-arena, I need to choose fabrics wisely. I’ll need a good mix of basic solids, I’m thinking lots of chambray, seersucker, and some natural linen, as well as “nearly solids” like the two new prints I just ordered from Cotton & Steel. I also want to find at least one “hero print” that has a ridiculous amount of colors in it so I can match it with lots of solid colored separates.

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I do have one pullover dress that’s past the fitting/muslin phase, as well as a pair of leggings that turned out surprisingly well for my first ever attempt, so I’ll have some finished projects to report back on soon!

For those of you who wanted to participate in Me Made May this year, what’s your plan of action?

xo
Rochelle

  • Janey Beasley

    I really want to make some wearable jeans/ comfy everyday trousers. I’ve found a boyfriend jeans pattern which looks like it will be good for my hippy figure type. I have looked at the Ginger jeans pattern but I’m not sure that shape will be right for me!! I’ve also collected some great top/tunic patterns and need to get a few made up!

    • Ooo may I ask which boyfriend jean pattern you found? I used to have a few pair of those when I was in Vet Tech school. They were so much more practical for my farm labs than the skinny styles. Sounds like you have some good, solid sewing plans!

      • Janey Beasley

        Its the Wyome Boyfriend Jean, by Named Clothing. I found it on Raystitch.co.uk . they have a button fly but I might change that to a zip fly. They are loose around the hip and thigh area but still taper in at the ankles so would go with ankle boots, or could be slightly cropped with sneakers for the summer.

  • Elena Knits

    As I’ve work my two Lady Skater dresses a lot last MMM I’m going to make a third and maybe a fourth. As May weather can still be a bit unpredictable, I’m making blouses to wear with pants. I’d like to make pants again this year but they may not be ready for MMM.

    • The lady skater dress is SO cute and I can see why you’d want to sew it again and again. I feel like that’s a great pattern for layering in case of unpredictable weather! Good choice 🙂

  • I definitely failed MMM last year, in part because it’s always extra hard for me to dress in the spring, when my cold weather clothes feel too dreary but it’s raining so my summer clothes aren’t quite right either. More transitional pieces would seem to be the solution! Things that feel springy but are still cozy to wear. I am doing my thesis this term though so I don’t think I’ll have much time to sew before May!

    • I agree, it is rather difficult to sew and put outfits together for those transition seasons, which is why I’ve been trying to plan garments that will layer well. You’ll think of something I’m sure 🙂 Good luck with your thesis!

  • Jane

    Hi. I think you have got it nailed this year, well done. I too have tendonitis, and find it hard to sew for very long now. I don’t have enough for MMM, but you have inspired me to aim to make some knit tops that I can wear regularly, I have bought a coco pattern and plan to make some funnel neck tops as I mainly live in jeans. Your lovely photo reminded me I love the Newcastle cardigan pattern, so I have ordered a copy. Your fabric choices are dreamy, such a pretty but practical palette. Can’t wait to see what you create x

    • Thank you, Jane 🙂 I’ve seen so many adorable Coco tops floating around online and they look like a really great wardrobe staple that’s basic, but not boring. I hope you love the New Castle cardigan too! I love the shape of menswear cardigans. “Grandpa Sweaters” are just so comfortable.

  • I’ve been making a ton of staples lately. I’ve been trying to balance between “casual everyday” and “nice office clothes”. T-shirts are my favorite to make because they’re so quick; I think all the t-shirts I’ve made in the last year will make it possible for me to actually do MMM. Now I’m trying to expand into more time-consuming staples: button-downs, jeans, nice blouses, trousers… fiddly, but totally worth the effort.

    • Surprisingly I don’t really wear T-shirts! Which sounds crazy to say honestly. I have a drawer full of knit tank tops I wear to bed but I don’t know if I’d like sewing those myself. I find button-downs super rewarding to sew, though! They are a bit fiddly, but definitely worth the effort, as you said. If you discover you really love shirt making, I highly recommend buying a sleeve board if you don’t have one already. It was one of those sewing tools that made me wonder how I ever got by without one!

      • I definitely plan on getting a sleeve board, somehow I just haven’t managed to buy one yet!

  • jill

    Everytime Joanns has pattern sales, I buy every pattern that appeals to me thats on sale! There are other places i get other patterns as well… I make alot of things for my kids (I have six) I dont make enough clothes for me even though I have ridiculous amounts of patterns. If I didnt have a new baby boy 7 weeks ago, I would also participate in the May thing…. I do have a goal this year though to make things for myself that really fit and that I will wear…regularly. And instead of sewing lots of things for the kids that are “jus for fun” i’m going to make more things that will be used alot… leggings and knits as well as coats/jackets.

    • That’s a great goal, Jill. I’m sure it’s really easy to sew fun clothes for kids with all of the adorable (but not always practical) patterns out there! I hope you find the time to sew some really great basics for yourself this year 🙂

  • Trisha

    Hey, neat! I’m working on that Simplicity dress (the pattern pile on the far left hand side) and my plan is also to wear it with leggings and a sweater…that’s a good look! This is my second attempt, the first one was linen and far too baggy. I switched to cotton knit and made it smaller, and it seems better. What you said about the fine line of fitting totally resonated with me and my work on that dress. Good luck with the dresses! Those look like some great patterns.
    What you’ve been blogging about on finding clothes you want to wear and making them has been really helpful for me as I decide what to sew this winter to give my wardrobe some cohesion, too. Looking forward to the posts on this project!

    • That’s awesome! I hope you like the way it turns out, that’s a cute pattern 🙂 Leggings and a sweater is kind of the best daily uniform ever in my opinion 😉

  • I love the mint fabric with the dot pattern on it! I can’t wait to see your finished pieces!

    • Isn’t it beautiful? Such a fantastic print 🙂

  • I like this plan and I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I love that Factory Girl dress!

  • Stine Vasard

    I need trousers. And some kind of blouses/shirts… I’m mainly a dress-kind-s-girl, so a few dresses as well… It is the first year I’m in… but I can’t wait and spend some of my posts teling danish bloggers about the event…

    • Best of luck with your sewing! I’ve never had enough clothing to participate but this is the year I will change that 🙂

  • Agreed. It’s awesome to shoot for the stars and dream big, but even the most ambitious and productive amongst us can achieve only so much in a given year and setting down scores of lofty goals right off the bat rarely ends well. It’s better to hone in on a few (or even just one, as the case may be) and devote yourself to those things as much as possible. The older I get, the more I try to live this approach and really do find it’s a far better recipe for success.

    Wishing you tons of success with your sewing goals, dear gal!

    ♥ Jessica

  • This is perfect! It’s so much easier to have a bunch of mini deadlines instead of one giant deadline. Well, for me it is or else I get overwhelmed 🙂 And that fabric pile in the last photo has a bunch of winners, I can feel it!

    • Thanks, Erin! I sense many mini goal achievements for both of us this year 🙂

  • Jaii-Lana van Leeuwen

    You’ll make it! My plan is to make more tops, i’ve got skirts aplenty and dresses are fine to but i own but one me made shirt and it is no longer my style. I made it when i was 17 and as i am now31 it’s no surprise

    • Thanks for the encouragement! Sounds like you definitely need more tops 😉 I find shirts really rewarding to sew. Did you see the new Sewaholic patterns? Real wardrobe staple material!

  • I wonder if you’d enjoy having one handy-dandy ponte knit mini skirt that you could pull on over leggings and wear with a shirt? U’ve got one that i pull on if I want to leave the house in leggings – it’s my modesty skirt! 😉 Something neutral would go with everything and make your shirts more wearable! (Plus, it’s just a tube, really, so it’s a 30 min sewing project…)

    • Hmm, perhaps I would like that! Only one way to find out 😉 Can you recommend any favorite ponte knits I might find online?

      • Fabric.com carries a lovely line of plain and printed ponte de Roma knits. Great prices and easy to sew with.

  • I really and truly love this plan. It’s smart and achievable and still leaves you lots of room for creativity. I also love the direction your style has taken lately. You are totally rocking the Woodland Sprite vibe and it’s fabulous! I spent a good 4-6 months sewing solid basics about 2 years ago and I’m so glad I did. I wear every single one of those plain garments all the time!

    I love me some Japanese patterns books and would recommend Feminine Wardrobe and the Sweet Dress Book. Both have 26 patterns per book and have fantastic dress and tunic variations that I think you’d love.

    I’m so looking forward to seeing what you make!!!

    • Thanks, Sarah!! I’ve briefly seen the Feminine Wardrobe and Sweet Dress Book online but haven’t had the opportunity to really flip through them yet. They look excellent from what little I’ve seen. If you recommend them then I simply must add them to my list! 🙂

      • They are great and tracing off the patterns isn’t onerous at all.

  • Gah! I totally agree with the fine line between loose and flowy and just too big! I’m working on finding it myself. I just finished making myself a woven TNT pullover top/tunic/dress thing and can’t wait to make it up. For MMM I really need to make some more bottoms. I’ve found if I have solid bottoms in a couple of colors I can throw on whatever crazy top I want to wear. 🙂

    • I’m really proud of the muslin I just finished because I think I FINALLY got an excellent fit across the upper back and under the arms! I’m now moving on to a wearable muslin stage for further testing. Best of luck with your TNT and quest for crazy top-matching bottoms! 🙂

  • Victoria Anderson

    Good luck! Do you get Colette Pattern’s new Seamworks online magazine? They had a leggings pattern that looked good this month. I haven’t done much sewing lately, kinda waiting till I build my sewing studio this summer, so I may have to wait till next year to join in. Please don’t make your tendinitis worse doing all this!!

    • Thanks Victoria! I did see the new Colette leggings but I wanted to sew a few of the Burda Sloper pairs before trying new patterns. I promise I won’t make my tendinitis worse! …or I’ll at least try really hard not to. I’ve been prepping and sewing in small chunks here and there, and also trying to narrow down just one or two really basic dresses that I can make several times, so I only have to do the muslin work once 🙂

  • Danka J

    I relate so much to this post! I feel like my sewing is all over the place at the moment and I’m not really making items I love. Often I love them right after making them and then go off them. So this year I decided to prepare myself by creating a plan for what to sew this spring, based on the style of (RTW) clothes I wear on a daily basis. Like you I aspire to be able to look at what I’m wearing and feel content knowing I’ve made some/most of it. So good luck to us both this spring, I think. 🙂 Also, that Merchant & Mills pattern is gorgeous! x

    • Creating a plan based on your already well-loved RTW clothing is so smart! I have trouble doing that because I really don’t have any favorite store bought clothes besides leggings and sweaters, which is why I’m so hell bent on sewing my own wardrobe! At least in part. I’m super excited about the Merchant & Mills pattern but I’m scared to sew it because if I end up not liking it I’ll be so disappointment haha!

      • I highly recommend Old Navy’s Pixie Pants. The fit beautifully and are comfortable which is something I rarely find in RTW pants. I went up s size – from a 6 to an 8 – and love them. I bought 4 pairs on sale. They work well with my me made tunics, dresses, and tops.

  • Charlene

    Try looking at Deer & Doe’s plantain dress tutorial (http://blog-en.deer-and-doe.fr/126-tutorial-a-very-easy-plantain-dress/). At least the pattern is free.

    • Oh that is really cute! I hadn’t seen that before. Thanks for linking 🙂