Me Made May: What I learnt

While last year’s Me Made May was great fun, this year I came to appreciate just how useful it can be. I started off the month pledging to wear every item that I had made - that’s one, maybe two, per day. I hoped that the month would provide me with an understanding of why I return time and again to some of my makes and why others have hardly been worn since completion. Perhaps it would offer a suggestion on my style, colours and what is missing from my wardrobe. I’m sorry that I have used old photos to break up the text, I just couldn’t keep up with daily photos when I needed to record how I felt about each item every evening.

Style and colours

I have a couple of preferred silhouettes. I feel at my best when my clothes nip in at my waist and flare out a little below it. My tummy is my weak spot, it is about the only part of my body that I have a bad relationship with. It is not unusual for me to bloat, sometimes by a couple of inches in a couple of hours, and as a result I don’t like bringing attention to my waistline. Having a more fitted look with some flare above or below distracts from my waist. This is why my CeylonWinifredMaeMietteCamis and Robson are in constant rotation. I also like the fitted pencil skirt shape and my Emery is getting a reasonable amount of wear because of this. I've also rediscovered my pencil skirt. I generally prefer my dress and skirts to finish at my knees but there are some noticeable exceptions. 

Colette Patterns Ceylon 2.jpg
Pauline Alice Cami 5.jpg
Blue Ginger Doll Winifred dress 3.jpg
Hot Patterns Deco Vibe Skinny Skirt 2.jpg

However, I can also pull off the loose look when I feel that nipped in is too much hassle or just damn uncomfortable (which it can be at times) and turn to my Lace LaurelTovaAlma blouses and Victoria Blazer. This latter look is one that I find very difficult to work with though - more often than not I feel like I am wearing a rectangle rather than an item of clothing!

By Hand London Victoria Blazer.jpg
Wiksten Tova 5.jpg
Sewaholic Alma Blouse.jpg

Colour has always been interesting for me and was one of the key points in my challenge last year. I seem to be honing in on my preferred colours: practically every shade of blue and pink, deep and bright purples, and different shades of green, especially teal. Green continues to be the biggest surprise. For some reason I used to really dislike it and wouldn’t go anywhere near the colour - now it seems to be one of my most bought! 

Blue Ginger Doll Mae Blouse 2.jpg
Christine Haynes Dolly Clackett Emery Dress.jpg
Colette Laurel lace top.jpg

I’m not sure what has changed but I feel much more confident and happy wearing all the shades of green (except lime - I can’t pull off lime!) and this is reflected in my recent finished items - the Green Mae, Lace Laurel, Emery and Robson Coat. However, I do find it hard to style green at times. I have a light green skirt that needs some friends - trouble is I don’t really know what to put with it! I have an interesting relationship with neutrals. Black and white feature but mainly because they have to while grey and brown are practically none existent.

Sewing for my lifestyle

How many of you stand in front of your wardrobe every morning and say “I’ve got nothing to wear!”? I do quite often and I’ve realised that this simply isn’t true for autumn, winter and a cool spring. By focusing on the me-made part of my wardrobe I coped very well this month and even tried new to me combinations. It turns out that I do have items perfectly suited to the office and playtime. If I add in my RTW items then I shouldn’t ever find myself uttering those words again during these months. However, I wouldn’t say that I was happy with all of them and this makes all the difference. There is a noticeable difference between my earlier makes and the more recent ones. I made a few mistakes with my fabric choice and the finish on some items isn’t as good as it should be. 

I really dislike my Laurel dress (strong words there but it was the only item I couldn’t take off the hanger!), I don’t really like my white and pink Sorbetto due to the poor neckline finishing and the piling fabric, my Jasmine blouse pulls in an odd direction (I think I may have cut it wrong) and the neckline of my chiffon blouse makes me self-conscious as its poorly finished. I’ve yet to decide the fate of these items.

The few days of warm weather were very welcome earlier this month but they revealed a massive hole in my wardrobe. I have practically nothing that is suitable for summer to wear to the office - everything is too thick, the fabrics too warm or the colours remind me of winter. I have a few plans to correct this, mainly focussing on creating some staple tops and summer skirts, but as ever, it is finding enough time to complete them.

I’ve learnt a lot this month. I feel that I now have a very good sense of what I like to wear and this should make the decision on whether to buy a pattern or a fabric easier. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment without really thinking about whether you will *actually* wear the item and I have been guilty of this in the past. If the pattern or the fabric doesn’t fit the above then I will need to think twice about buying.

Your turn, have any of you found Me Made May to be as useful as I have? 

Me Made May '14

Um, how did we get to May again? This can only mean one thing, many of us will be spending next month wearing our handmade clothes as part of Me Made May. 


I thought long and hard about taking part this year. I really wanted to join in and was all set for repeating last year's challenge but upping the number of days I wore handmade. Then I read Zoe's post. I wear handmade more days than not. Do I wear all of my handmade items? No. I have 38 handmade items hung in my wardrobe and another two in my alteration pile. I guess I wear about 75% of them regularly. 

Suddenly the challenge became clear:

"I, Claire of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear each item I have made during May"

The aim is to work out whether I have been sewing the right items. Have I been choosing the right patterns, the correct fabric, styling the items to show them off well? If I don't wear an item, why not? Is there something that I can change/alter/add to make me love it more? 

There are a couple of items that I am excluding. As much as I would love to be able to wear shorts in May, I don't see it being warm enough so they are excused. I also won't include my newsboy hat - I know I love it and the weather is too warm now.  

I don't know if I will be able to get a photo each day and I really don't want the pressure of visually recording the month. However, I will record how I feel about each item after wearing it for a day and do a full round up of some sort at the end of the month. Who knows, this may just be the push I need to complete the Colette Wardrobe Architect!

Are you joining in? If so, what's your challenge? 

Me Made May '13 final round up

Can someone tell me where May went please? It seemed like the longest month yet it flew by! This was my first time participating in Me Made May, brainchild of the brilliant Zoe. I watched it take place last year and knew that I wanted to be involved this year. Here is a reminder of my pledge:

 'I, Claire at iwanttobeaturtle, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one home made item for five days each week for the duration of May 2013. In addition I pledge to make two new items and repair at least one.’ 

I won't show all of the items I wore but you can see my other round ups here and here. I pledged to repair at least one item. I did one and half. I replaced the zip in my grey Ginger skirt, below, and the bias trim has been removed from my green silk taffy blouse. I just need to stitch the new one on now. 

Me Made May 2013 week 4 2.JPG

And making two new items? Check! This is partly because it keeps me on track with my 20:20 challenge. Here they are:

Me Made May 2013 week 4 3.jpg

Simplicity 2451. This is made from one of my favourite fabrics but I can't quite wear it yet! I made a few alterations to the pattern and it fitted with my toile but not in the fashion fabric. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to fit into it. I do love this pattern and have recently bought more fabric for another version but this one will fit!

Me Made May 2013 week 4.jpg

Colette Jasmine. The photo above was taken before its final press, as you can see the fabric creases a bit! I've been waiting to make this pattern for a while. It was the perfect pattern for a "cake" top that matches several of skirts and trousers. It is a lightweight cotton with grey spots. The collar is made from one of Adam's old work shirts. I've never really worn collars before but I love this one - there may be more! 

So what did I learn from the month in general? 

Taking photos every day is REALLY hard and I ran out of steam mid way through. I have hardly any photos from the last two weeks. But taking photos allows you to see your outfits in a different way, maybe as others see them. This can be great as it means you're on the right track or not so great when a favourite outfit doesn't work as well as you thought. 

I love bright colours and I wear a lot of them although they are often paired with blue or black. I just can't bring myself to wear dark colours from head to toe! 

Wearing my me mades is much easier than I thought it would be. Most of the days I reached for them without thinking. I take this as a really good sign that I am making things I will wear. 

I need more me mades to carry out five days a week without feeling like I am wearing the same items every week. I identified gaps in my wardrobe and will be taking steps to fill them. This generally means I need some more tops that will go with a variety of coloured skirts and trousers. 

I rediscovered some of my previous me mades and realised that I should wear them more. However, I did have to say goodbye to one of my very first makes - the turquoise tie-dye dress below. As with most first mades, the quality isn't the best and it is falling apart without hope of saving it. 

The Flickr group is amazingly inspirational but also a massive time stealer! There are about 6000 photos there and I must have looked at at least three quarters of them. 

Me Made May 2013 week 4 4.jpg

All that being said, I'm very likely to sign up next year as by that time I'll have more me made items. And I'll be armed with experience to be a bit more organised! 

Me Made May 13 and Fancy Dress

This will be a short post today. I have finally come out the other side of craziness at work which was the lead up to two events in two days, both of which had an African them and both went really well. I did managed to keep up Me Made May but I didn't get a photos of each day.

May 15th

My first repeat item. I wore my Laurel top to work but didn't get a photo.

May 16th

Me Made May 2013 week 3.jpg

I went for my only red dress. It is Vogue 1089, made from a medium weight cotton with machine embroidered flowers in the same colour. I love the way wearing red makes me feel which is why I'm surprised I don't have anymore of it in my wardrobe.

May 17th

Again, I didn't get a photo but I wore my Reglisse. This was the day of the first event - you'll see what I got up to a little further down. 

May 18th

Me Made May 2013 week 3 3.JPG

Second event of the week! I volunteered for the registration desk and had to look after the VVIP (not a typo) lunch so I needed something smart. I went for my third Ginger skirt which is made from a heavy grey fabric. I'm not exactly sure what it is but it frays like nothing else I have ever bought! But the pattern on it is lovely! 

And the best part of these events? I got to dress up in Nigerian traditional dress! Before I saw the dress I was worried that they would push me fully out of my comfort zone with  hair wrapped in fabric and big bold colours that I couldn't pull off. Turns out I didn't need to worry! I have no idea whether this is actually traditional though but it was great to wear it for six hours! It also fitted reasonably well, except it was slightly small around my bust but I don't think anyone noticed. 

Me Made May 2013 week 3 2.jpg

Yes, it is African wax print and I have to say I am now tempted to get some! And I learnt that I can wear a collar and do frills but I'm not sure I would wear them together again...

Me Made May 13 - Week 2

Work has been a bit crazy this week and I found it rather draining but I did manage to keep up my pledge to MMM. I also had a great tonic in a weekend away and managed to pack appropriately for the challenge and reach five me made items this week. This is a slightly longer post that includes some items from last week. You'll notice that I have swapped some photos again as I don't like the ones I uploaded to Flickr! 

May 6th

Deer and Doe Reglisse.jpg

My Reglisse dress. I won't bore you with the details again but I still love it! 

May 7th

Me Made May 2013 week 2 4.jpeg

My aubergine Ginger skirt. This one is slightly longer than the purply pink once. It is finished with two trims of pink bias. The zip went in well. It is made from medium-heavy cotton with flat felled seams. 

May 8th

Sewaholic Alma Blouse.jpg

My flowery Alma. Details here

May 9th

Me Made May 2013 week 2 5.jpeg

Green Taffy from the Colette book. I love this pattern and when I found some green silk in a shop on Goldhawk Road I knew it would be perfect! I'm reasonably happy with the fit although the neck is a little too wide. I finished it with a pink trim made from an old bed cover. I need to redo the trim as it is coming away in places. French seams throughout. 

May 10th

Me Made May 2013 week 2.jpeg

McCall's 2401. Please excuse the cheesy grin - it was Friday and I was leaving work early which made me very happy! Huge thanks to everyone who made suggestions on what to do with this dress. I tried it with the belt and felt some shape come to it. I then took off 2.5 inches from the length so it hits above my knee. I feel sooooo much better in it. I need to find a better belt (this one is old and starting to fall apart) and perhaps play around with the sleeves a bit to see if I can make it even better. Either way I'm less likely to pass over it now - yay! 

May 11th

Me Made May 2013 week 2 2.jpeg

I realised last week that I didn't have a good number of tops that match my separates. As I was browsing online fabric shops I found this Liberty Lawn from Fabrics Galore and had to buy it. Four days later I had this top. This is the Laurel with a bit of length added. I wasn't sure about the original sleeves, I thought the fabric needed something a little more delicate so I opted for the sleeves from the Alma. They turned out beautifully, if a little like wings. I completed this top on Thursday evening. Work had got to me that day and I had A LOT of almost angry energy that had to be channeled into something creative and productive. Not too bad a result I think! 

May 12th

Me Made May 2013 week 2 3.jpeg

I travelled back to Oxford today and it was a little windy! My trusty Lady Grey kept me warm. 

Phew! That's quite a few items there. 

Me Made May '13 Round up

Before I start I wanted to say thank you for all the helpful comments on my last post. I've yet to try them out but will do soon. 

Around the blogsphere Me Made May round ups are starting to take place so I thought it was time for my first. My pledge was to wear something made by me for five days a week, to make two new items and repair at least one. I have just finished a new project but you will need to wait until the middle of the week for more on it. Before I start with my items, have you seen the Flickr group yet? SO MANY people and SO MANY amazing outfits. It is taking up a lot of my time working through the photos but I just can't help myself! 

Day 1

Me Made May 2013 week 1.jpeg

I wore one of my Ginger skirts. I love this pattern, it is so comfortable and really flattering. I don't normally like high waisted skits or trousers but this one changed my mind. Although as you can see from the photo I am unlikely to show off the waistband (some kind of weird hangup about my stomach that I am working on!) I'm not sure what the fabric is, it is a mix. The pink is definitely elastic but what the purple is, I have no idea! I made it with flat felled seams. 

Day 2

Me Made May 2013 week 1 2.jpeg

My first Alma. I generally make a toile of everything I wear because something is normally slightly off. But not so with the Alma and this has become a wearable toile and a staple in my wardrobe. The fabric is left over from a dress I made a few years ago but couldn't wear (I didn't really know what I was doing then!). The zip isn't right but it is under my arm so no one can tell! There is photographic evidence of me in this but the photo is awful so you'll have to make do with seeing it on the hanger! 

Day 3

Me Made May 2013 week 1 3.jpeg

The theme for this Friday was water. I had the perfect plan of going to the canal near work and persuading a colleague to take a photo and then I realised I had the day off. So my Mathilde came to the rescue. Submarines and seaweed was the closest I was going to get! 

If you're taking part, how are you getting on?

A dilemma

If you're taking part in Me Made May then you've probably been getting ready for the month ahead. I've busy making sure all my items are freshly washed and ready to wear. I have managed to avoid temptation and kept to my 20:20 plan instead of panic sewing. This hasn't been easy as I know that I have holes in my wardrobe and have spotted some already but that is one of the reasons I signed up - to spot the actual gaps not just perceived ones. 

Anyway, while checking my hand made items I came across the dress I made on a course. It is McCall's 2401, made from quilting fabric (the only fabric I could get my hands on as I got a place at short notice), is nicely finished and the fit is still pretty good (I have lost a little weight since completing it). I have worn it just once since finishing and I didn't like it. It seems a shame for it to languish on the hanger so I thought I would give it another go and wore it yesterday to see if it could feature in the month somehow. 

McCalls 2401 2.jpg

And the problem remains. I am just not feeling it. It makes me feel slightly frumpy, older than I am and I am much more conscious of myself in it. Not a good feeling! And it is how you feel that counts right? I can't work out if it just the length and I should take it up a few inches. Or if I find the print too much for a dress. Or what it is.

McCalls 2401.JPG

So, please help me. Should I take it up? Make a separate from it? I could see a top or a skirt, although I don't think I have enough fabric for both unless I add a waistband. Or do something else? Here is a close up of the fabric, see why I think it could be the print?

McCalls 2401 3.JPG

All ideas welcome. Leaving it as it is isn't really an option as I can't see me wearing it again. If I don't do anything I can see it landing in the bag destined for the charity shop. 

Oh, the excitement!

I can sew! I can’t tell you how happy I am to find out that I can continue to sew without using either of my feet. It is also slightly embarrassing as I didn’t realise that my machine has a Start/Stop button until a colleague mentioned she had used a machine with one. That rang a faint bell and I raced home to find out that my machine has that magic button! I can now get on with my Laurel, my skirt and goodness knows what else! It is almost like an early Christmas present - one of my stress relievers is back in the game.  

Anyway, enough excitement. What I actually want to talk about today is
I first came across this last year and thought it was a great idea. This year I’m signing up to take part. Ok, so the excitement continues! For those of you who don't know about this challenge head of to Zoe's page. Some of the pledges are amazing. 

I decided I would take part while I was on the bus. I had images of all the outfits I would wear, flashing past like the buildings on the route home. And then I was jolted awake from my daydream. Just like that feeling when the bus driver hits the breaks too hard and you jolt forward, I realised that I couldn’t fulfil this challenge the way I wanted to. Why? Quite simply, I don’t have enough home sewn items. If I pledged to wear something every day then you would be seeing my wearing the seven same outfits, or slight variations of, each week. That would be pretty boring for me, and for you. 

While I can’t fulfil my daydream I can still set myself a challenge. I can easily increase the number of items available if I finish attaching some bias binding to a top and replace a zip in a skirt and maybe seeing if I can save some of my first makes. Add that to the (hopefully) 4 patterns I am due to finish between now and then and I should be more than ok. I’ve decided to tie this in with my 20:20 challenge to give me a extra push. So, here goes: 

 'I, Claire at iwanttobeaturtle, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one home made item for fives days each week for the duration of May 2013. In addition I pledge to make two new items and repair at least one.’ 

I won’t be posting daily photos of my outfits, mainly because I am lazy (!), so I’ll do a round up each week. Anyone else taking part?

Also, to readers using mobile devices I have finally managed to work out how to get the photos to show!