Category Archives: Sewaholic

Lots of sewing and lots of sneezing

Well it’s just been nuts here. The last month has been full of frenzied sewing and not much photo taking. Oh, and the spring crud that seems to be going around. Everybody in my family has been sick. I still sound like death warmed over. Ugh.

In between snotty tissues and coughing, there’s been lots of deadline sewing. First off is the wedding quilt for my sister-in-law. Who got married last June. Really, as long I they get the gift before their first anniversary then it’s not late. I love that tradition. It’s saved my bacon a few times for wedding gifts.

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The quilt is actually the 8th one I’ve finished this year. So I’m way ahead on my goal, but way behind on documenting any of it. If I can just make it through the next couple of weeks of scheduling madness, then I’ll have time to start photographing things.

The rest of the sewing is all related to the upcoming wedding of some good friends. First off was sewing one of the bridesmaid dresses. The wedding is going to be fairly casual, and the bridesmaids were simply asked to wear dresses in certain colors, no real specifications on style. My friend who I sewed the dress for is currently seven months pregnant and wasn’t too happy with the limited selection of maternity dresses she could find. Brilliant woman that she is, she tried tracing a pattern off an existing simple jersey dress she owns. We tweaked the pattern a bit, and with relatively few adjustments came out with a lovely dress for her. Gotta love good jersey! I made a copy of the pattern, and plan on making a few shirt versions soon.

Next up is a silk robe as a bridal shower gift. The pattern is from Amy Butler’s In Stitches. I haven’t actually made many things from this book other than the bathrobe. But I’ve made at least five robes at this point. It’s my go-to bridal shower gift.

My husband is one of the groomsmen in the wedding. The guys are wearing dark jeans, light dress shirts, light colored ties and brown vests. He already had everything except for the vest, so that’s where I come in. I actually made formal vests for my husband and the groomsmen for our wedding, so I’ve already got a good pattern. It’s just a matter of finishing the darn thing at this point.

Vest for husband

Vest for husband

Last, of course, is a dress for me. I’m not in the wedding or anything, but assuming I can find the time, I’m going to make a dress to wear. Nothing fancy, as the invite made it clear that the wedding is casual. But something that will look nice and at least be comfortable. I’ve got the fabric picked out already (from my stash of course) and the pattern. Whether I get time to sew it up before the wedding is a whole different issue.

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Aside from all that, there have been a few pairs of boxers for the husband, a quick t-shirt or two for me, and a pair of Thurlow shorts almost entirely finished! Look at me, sewing before the season, instead of halfway through it! That never happens.

So yea, really busy. Anybody feel like that happens every spring?

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Red Renfrews and a Plain Plantain

As I reach for the me-made shirts in my closet far more often then store bought at this point, it seems prudent to make a few more. Enter one of my favorite shirt patterns: the Renfrew. I’ve already made eight (I think) shirts off this pattern, in a variety of fabrics, and using most combinations of sleeves and neck finishings on the pattern. This is the first one I made with a cowl neck and the three-quarter length sleeves. As usual the top went together without a hitch. This one is made out of a super drapey rayon-poly jersey. It feels great, and is light enough I should be able to wear it well into the spring.

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The lovely lady standing next to me is my mom. In a funny bit of coincidence, she happened to be sewing a red Renfrew at the same time I was. So of course, we took pictures together. Her top is made out of a heavier weight cotton interlock. She added the machine embroidery accents. Also, she made the cowl removable! I think it’s a great idea, as it makes the shirt wearable for a great range of temperatures. Too hot? Take the cowl off. Too chilly? Put it back on! I didn’t even realize she’d made the cowl a separate piece until she told me. She did mention that she made the cowl slightly larger around (maybe and inch or two – I should probably check).

Removable cowl!

Removable cowl!

As there was a little bit of my mom’s red fabric left, kiddo got a shirt too! I love that I can sew clothes for him out of what might otherwise be considered scraps. I know that won’t last for long, given how fast he’s growing, but I’ll enjoy it while I still can.

Kiddo’s shirt is off a vintage pattern for Toddler Sportwear by Sunrise Designs. I’m guessing it was printed in the late 1970’s, or early 80’s since my mom made clothes off this pattern for my brother and I. Thankfully, after we both out grew it, she tucked it away to use for future grandchildren. And I’m thrilled she did! It’s got nice classic patterns for shirts, pants, shorts and jackets that should be enough to keep kiddo dressed for a while. And it’s sized 1T through 4T. Anyway, this was the first shirt we made him off this pattern, but it fits so well, my mom has already cut out four more. She also machine embroidered the bunny on his shirt. The text reads “I’m your little Valentine”. Yes, it’s a Valentine’s Day shirt. That’s how long it’s taken me to get around to this post. Sigh.

ValentineKiddo2And one more picture for good measure…

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While I was on a shirt making roll, I decided to try out the Plantain, a free pattern by Deer & Doe. I’ve seen the shirt made up on countless other blogs, and thought it would be good to make something other than a Renfrew for once. You know, variety and all. Anyway, I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

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Since I really had no idea how this was going to fit, I opted to make a test version before cutting into any of my really nice fabric. I’d already made two other shirts (maternity, no less) out of this blue fabric, so I wasn’t too worried about wasting this fabric if the top came out awful for some reason. Admittedly, this isn’t the best fabric choice. It’s a cotton/lycra (or spandex? how does one tell?) blend, so it’s got plenty of stretch. Not much drape though. Still, the shirt is wearable, and now I know how the pattern fits.

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I didn’t bother with the elbow patches this time. Maybe on the next shirt. The bottom hem does tend to roll up, but I know that’s due to the fabric, since both the other shirts in this fabric do the exact same thing. The sleeves are a bit shy of the three-quarter length on the pattern, because I simply ran out of fabric. The length works fine for me though.

In the lengthy interval it’s taken me to get this post up, I’ve actually finished a second Plantain. This one is out of a lovely, drapey rayon jersey. It’s a much better fabric choice for this pattern.

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As with the first one, I used up the whole piece of fabric, and the sleeves are actually a bit shorter than the pattern’s three-quarter length sleeve. Still just enough to cover my elbows though. But not really long enough for the elbow patches. Eventually I’ll make a long sleeve version and put on the elbow patches.

PebblePlantain2There’s not much else to say about the Plantain. It’s a lovely pattern, and one I’ll certainly sew again. Actually, I’ve already played with it some more since this last shirt. But I’ll save that for another post.

Let me sum up

Well, since the last time I posted in, ahem, October, I’ve been a little busy. The fall was particularly chaotic for me and I felt like I could eek out enough time to sew or blog, but not both. Guess which one I chose.

But since the whole point of starting this blog was to keep track of all my projects, I thought I should at least run around and try to get photos of everything I’ve made since last posting. In the process of doing that I realized just how much sewing I actually got done! So, yea, maybe I could have found time for a post or two. Things to improve on in the new year.

Anyway, since I did get a fair number of things accomplished, I’m pretty much just going to post photos. There’s nothing too spectacular to show, but I’m still pretty pleased with everything I got done. So this isn’t a year in review post or anything like that, just a summary of this past fall.

Here goes…

My baby bear! I know, this is a Halloween costume and it’s now January. But it’s one of the things I’m most pleased with, so there’s no way I was going to leave it out. I figure I only have so many years of getting to pick my son’s costume for him, so I’ve got to make the most of it.

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Let’s see…I made a few more Renfrew tops…

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This last one is made out of a heavier sweater knit that I didn’t have quite enough of for both cowl pieces. So I ended up using a lighter weight gray jersey for the underside of the cowl. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I think it drapes better that it would have with two layers of the heavier fabric.

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Underside of cowl

The background for these photos, by the way, is the quilt on my bed. I made the quilt a few years ago and a friend did the quilting on her long-arm machine. I love the fabric, and the quilting really makes the whole thing pop.

Next, I sewed some bags…

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IMG_3267The last bag was a gift for my husband. We’ve been trading cars more lately, as kiddo’s car seat only fits in one car, so whoever has kiddo for the day gets that car. The bag is for the few odds and ends that my husband used to keep in his car. Now that we’re switching cars so often, it’s nice for him to be able to just grab the bag when using the other car, instead of digging around for loose items.

I should also mention, none of these pictures are in order. With the exception of the bear costume, I can’t really recall which projects came when. So I’m just grouping things in a sort-of logical order.

That said, here are some short sleeved shirts. I made two of these late enough in the year that it’s been too cold to actually wear them yet. Oh well. I’ll have some new clothes to wear in the spring.

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IMG_3311All of them are from a basic kimono sleeve self-drafted pattern that I’ve been using for a while.

Next up, stuff for the kiddo! First, we have toddler pants.

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IMG_3316Kiddo was “helping” with the photos.

Here’s a bean bag set, with carrying bag I made for him. They’re surprisingly fun to play with and toss around. I find myself practicing juggling more these days.

IMG_3283IMG_3284The bag and bean bags were made with some very bright (these photos do not do it justice) double sided-fabric. Stripes on one side and palm trees on the other.

And then came the Christmas sewing. First off, a new shirt for my son’s teddy bear, Bernard. I’m not sure kiddo really noticed, but Bernard certainly looks pleased.

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IMG_3307I just roughly traced a pattern off the (rather sad looking) t-shirt the bear originally came in. It was an absurdly quick and easy sewing job. I foresee more bear clothing in the future.

Then there were Christmas pot-holders. I’m not sure what came over me. I’ve never made potholders before. But I had a bunch of holiday fabric scraps, and some of that heat-proof batting and suddenly potholders sounded like a genius idea. They were kind of fun to make though. And two of them were promptly given away as gifts.

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IMG_3298Next, I finally made a Christmas tree skirt. Well, mostly anyway. Technically I didn’t finish the tree skirt until after Christmas, but I did have it done enough to use for Christmas.

IMG_3280IMG_3282The quilting and binding were all I had left to do. So as a temporary finish, I just serged the edges until I had time to do the binding.

Next, I finally finished the quilting on a wall hanging that I started right after the holidays, at the beginning of 2012. I had the wall hanging nearly finished, but decided it needed some more quilting. Somehow, that turned into a monstrous task (much like this post), that didn’t get finished until nearly a year later.

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Almost there. I hemmed a couple of towels that I wove earlier in the fall. Weaving is another hobby that periodically eats into my sewing time.

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And lastly, I made a pillow cover. I know, boring. But it was a good use of some stash scrap fabric and a horrid peach invisible zipper that I didn’t see ever using for anything else.

IMG_3285IMG_3286IMG_3287For reasons I can’t recall, I have more than a few pillow forms in my stash. I finally decided that instead of saving them for the perfect project, I’d just whip up some quick covers and “store” them on my couch until I could remember whatever the perfect project was supposed to be. Much better. My couch has pillows, and my studio is ever so slightly less full. I say “pillows” because I’ve actually knocked out two more covers since taking these pictures. And used two more random zippers from my stash! Really, where do these things come from? A peach zipper?

Anyway, that about wraps up the last 4 months. On to the new year.

Pattern Testing – Saltspring Dress

Sewaholic has released a new pattern, and I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester again! Can I just say that I love pattern testing? It forces me to make something that I might not otherwise try, and I end up learning new techniques and sewing things outside my comfort zone. And the Saltspring dress does fall a bit outside my comfort zone. First off, it’s a dress. While I can see the appeal of a dress, I hardly ever wear them. Something about feeling too dressed up. I have issues, obviously. The other thing is the blousing – it’s not a look I would normally bother with. However, the clever construction of this dress automatically blouses the top for you, with no fiddling or adjusting. Pretty smart idea, I think.

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As to actually making the dress, in an effort to sew from my stash and find something suitably drapey, I came up with a couple fabric possibilities – georgette and silk. In hind sight, I should have picked the georgette. But, thinking how awesome a silk dress would be, I went with that fabric instead. Unfortunately, it was a nightmare to work with. The fabric is super slippery, and very challenging to cut. Plus, it starts to shred along the edges if you so much as look at it wrong. Sigh. And while it feels nice against the skin, it’s also got some incredible static cling, making a slip a necessity with the dress. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems weird to wear a slip with a sundress.

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Polka dot silk! Hard to photograph though. Much prettier up close and in person.

Fabric problems aside though, the pattern is great. The instructions are written in Tasia’s usual clear, concise style, and the dress was a breeze to put together. The zipper was the only challenging part, and I think my problems with that were entirely due to the fabric. The directions were certainly clear enough.

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Pockets! Wuhoo!

While my intent was to make the dress straight off the pattern with no changes, I did end up tweaking a few things. First, I ended up taking in the bodice side seams. I think it’s time to retake my measurements, because the size that I thought would fit my chest was clearly too big when I tried on the bodice for a fit check. Of course, my post-baby body is still changing enough that I swear my measurements shift from week to week (if not more often). I probably should have re-measured then, before going any farther with the dress, but no, I just assumed taking in the sides enough to grade the bodice down one size would be enough and I plowed on ahead. Once the dress was finished, it became apparent that I hadn’t taken in the sides quite enough (or my chest had shrunk in the intervening time, an entirely possible occurrence). So I just added three little pleats to the front neckline. It draws in the top enough that it doesn’t gap, and I actually like the way it turned out.

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Might need to try this with a belt…

The other things I changed a bit are the straps and the skirt. For the skirt, I added a center seam in the front, but only because my fabric was too narrow to cut the skirt out on the fold. Also, not being sure of how long I wanted the dress, I added 7 inches to the shorter pattern length. I think I ended up cutting off between 2 and 4 inches for the final hem length. As to the straps, well, I have a baby who loves nothing more than to grab things. Spaghetti straps tied in bows would have stayed tied for all of 5 seconds once I picked up my son. So I initially tried to do something fancy with the straps coming over the shoulder from the front, feeding through loops at the back and then tying together in a bow at the center back.

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Fancy straps

In theory I thought it sounded great, but in practice it didn’t really work. The back ended up pulling together and gaping at the center back. So, scratch that idea. Instead, since I’d already sewn the loops into the back bodice, I threaded the front straps through the back loops, then brought the straps back to the front and attached them there. Does that make any sense at all? Hopefully it’s clear in the pictures.

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One thing to note when making this dress is that until you put the elastic waist in, it doesn’t look so great on. I tried my dress on mid-construction to see how things were shaping up, and I was a little horrified at how it looked. But as soon as I put in the elastic, magic happened, and suddenly the dress looked really good. So just remember, if you try on your dress part way though construction, don’t panic, everything will be okay. And I know this isn’t just me, as I saw a similar comment over in Lauren’s post about her awesome Saltspring dress.

After looking at some of the posts by other pattern testers, and after seeing the pictures of my own dress, I’ve got some ideas of things to do differently next time. Aside from the obvious need for a different fabric choice, I really need to add a little bit of length to the bodice. I tend to forget that I have an unusually long torso, and it wasn’t until I saw the pictures of me wearing the dress that I realized the waist really isn’t sitting in the right place. It’s funny how I see things in a picture of me in the dress that I don’t see by just looking in the mirror. Also, I think I want to try making a knit Saltspring. Angela over at Sewmentalmama made two dresses for the pattern testing (both gorgeous), and the second was out of jersey. No need for a zipper thanks to the stretch fabric. And how comfortable would that be? I’m really liking that idea. I also think this pattern could be shortened to make a fun tunic length top. Lots of possibilities!

Anyway, this is a great addition to the excellent Sewaholic pattern collection. And if you’re thinking about sewing one, check out the sewalong over at Sewaholic.

Me-Made-May Week 2

I’m a little late getting this posted. But better late than never, here’s week two.

IMG_1648Day 8 Me-Mades: Stripey Renfrew

New top! Which I’ve already worn three times since making it. Sigh. Must make a few more.

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One of my dressy t-shirts. Yes, t-shirts can be dressy. I wish I could claim the jacket as a me-made, but it’s actually from Kohl’s. I love it though, and wear it all the time. I think I need to either make a pattern off it, or find a pattern for something similar.

IMG_1793Day 10 Me-Mades: Knockoff GAP t-shirt

This Friday’s theme is “Sewing, Knitting, Creating Space”. So here’s a little corner of my studio. The rest of the room is too much of a disaster zone to photograph right now, but this is my favorite corner anyway. On the wall above my sewing machine is a picture of my son when he was 1 day old, and my awesome giant wood scissors. Best yard sale find ever. Oh, and the shirt, which is really hard to make out in this photo is a another of my Knockoff GAP t-shirts made in a washed out grayish camo print.

IMG_1605Day 11 Me-Mades: Stripey Renfrew

I actually didn’t get around to taking a photo today. But since my outfit is exactly the same as day three, I’m just reusing that picture.

DSCN1538Day 12 Me -Mades: Kimono sleeve t-shirt, modified nursing cami

Again, duplicate outfit. But I did actually get a new picture. With my mom and my son. Seeing as it’s Mother’s Day and all… The onesie with the necktie that kiddo is wearing is my mom’s work. She added the sleeves and the tie to a plain white onesie.

IMG_1771Day 13 Me-Mades: Ariadne tunic

I realize now that all three of my Ariadne tunic tops are made up in very busy prints that make it nearly impossible to actually see the design of the shirt. One of these days I might get around to making one in a solid fabric.

IMG_1782Day 14 Me-Mades:Knockoff GAP t-shirt

This is how I look when I’ve been pulling weeds for the last hour, in the sun, in 80+ degree weather. That smile is forced. But hey, at least the t-shirt is comfy.

And there we go, week two. Not very exciting. But I am enjoying the challenge. Even if I do just live in jeans and t-shirts 90 percent of the time, there’s still something very satisfying about knowing that I made at least one thing I’m wearing every single day. Also, I’m starting to feel much less attached to a good portion of my purchased clothes. There may be a closet purge coming up in my near future.

One Renfrew, Two Renfrew

I’ve finally caught up with the rest of the sewing community and tried out the Renfrew pattern by Sewaholic. I’ve got other t-shirt patterns that’s I’m quite happy with, so I wasn’t in a hurry to find a new one. But after reading numerous glowing reviews about the shirt I figured I’d give it a try. And lo and behold, I actually really like the pattern. It’s not anything vastly different from my other tried and true t-shirts, but having the cuffs and neck and hem bands included in the pattern, instead of just adding them on my own, is a nice perk. Also, it probably can’t hurt for me to have found another t-shirt pattern that I love, since I apparently live in jeans & t-shirt.

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I made my first one out of some fabric that’s been in my stash so long I couldn’t tell you what it is or where it came from. Looking at the fabric folded up, I couldn’t remember why I’d gotten it, and thought I might as well use it to test the pattern. Funny thing though, after making up the shirt I decided I really like the fabric. It just feels so springy to me. The fabric itself is some sort of blend, probably poly/cotton given how old it is. And it’s fairly lightweight, so the edges curl if you even look at them.

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Wonky wrinkles by the armholes

Reading other reviews of the pattern, I saw a few people comment that the armscye was a little tight, and after making up my first Renfrew, I’d have to agree. There’s a little something wonky gong on around the armhole, and it feels a little snug to me. Not so uncomfortable or noticeable that I won’t wear it. But enough that I didn’t want to sew a second one until tweaked it to fit me better. Now, despite the fact that I will periodically draft (and I use that term loosely) my own patterns, I don’t actually know much about how to draft patterns. I generally just wing it. So that’s basically what I did here. When re-tracing the front, back and sleeve pieces I mostly copied the armholes and sleeve cap from a tried and true shirt pattern. It ended up being fairly minor changes – the armholes lowered and flared out a smidge more, and the sleeve caps flattened and widened a bit. It’s still not quite perfect, but close enough for now. And most importantly, this version is more comfortable.

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The only other changes I made were to sew the cuffs and hem band on with 3/8″ (serger seam width) allowance instead of the called for 5/8″ allowance. That was my quick and dirty fix for adding just a little bit of length to the sleeves and body. I should probably go back and actually add the length into the pattern pieces in the correct spots. And maybe someday I actually will.

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Long enough sleeves!

I’m quite pleased with the pattern now. I can see making several more of these. Actually, I’ve already cut out a version with the 3/4 length sleeves and a v-neck. And ignoring that the weather here has taken a sudden turn for hot, I’m tempted to cut out a version with the cowl neck. Speaking of necklines, I love how this one came out.

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It’s such a clean finish. And there’s just something nice about the way the stripes worked out. But then, I like stripes. I’ll have to make a point of sewing up at least one of these in a non-stripey fabric. Just for kicks.

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Bonus points, both these pieces of fabric are out of my stash!

Me-Made-May Week 1

This is my first time participating in Me-Made-May and so far I love it. The challenge is forcing me to think a little more about what I have to wear and what I’d like to sew, and it’s already inspired me to dig out some old me-mades and modify one of them to be more wearable.

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Day 1 Me-mades: Long sleeved raglan t-shirt (Stretch & Sew #205), me-modified nursing camisole

It’s snowing here. Again. And apparently one of the holes in my me-made wardrobe is colder weather clothing. I found my options for getting dressed this morning a little limited.

The shirt is pretty old – I think maybe from the early 2000’s? Can’t recall. The pattern is the long sleeve version of Stretch & Sew 205. The fabric is some sort of lightweight knit, though not one with a ton of stretch. I like the shirt well enough, although I made it in the days before I started putting neckbands and hembands on most of my shirt, so looking at it now the finish seems a little rough. The modified nursing cami is hidden under the shirt. It’s not something I’ve blogged about, but I’ve made/modified several of these so far and wear them all the time. I should probably write something explaining what the heck a modified nursing cami is.

Good thing I don't take myself too seriously...

Good thing I don’t take myself too seriously…

Day 2 Me-mades: Ariadne tunic, modified nursing cami

While this picture doesn’t do much for it, the Ariadne tunic pattern by Tanit-Isis is fantastic. I made a few of these last year while I was pregnant. I loved making something with enough ease that I could get away with wearing it for a good chunk of my pregnancy, enough length to hide my maternity jeans, and it would still be wearable and look good after I had my son. The only thing I changed from the pattern was to omit the keyhole in the back, and to use one size larger for the hem band, to accommodate my hips.

IMG_1605Day 3 Me-Mades: Renfrew top (not yet blogged about)

I’m probably one of the last people on the internet to try out Sewaholic’s Renfrew pattern. Too bad I waited so long, as I really like it. This is the first one I’ve made, and I’ve since made a few minor modifications that I’ll post about soon.

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Day 4 Me Mades: Kimono sleeve t-shirt, modified nursing cami

Another t-shirt. Nothing terribly exciting today, except for my awesome lime green converse. Yes, I love my shoes.

IMG_1618Day 5 Me Mades: Knockoff GAP t-shirt, Short sleeved raglan t-shirt (Stretch & Sew #205)

I started the day in one of my knockoff GAP t-shirts (as of yet not blogged about), but my son managed to spit-up on me before I took a picture of it. So, onto the next me-made shirt. The one pictured is what I spent the rest of the day in. It’s another raglan from one of my favorite patterns. I’m not sure I love the fabric though. It’s certainly comfortable, but the print is a little off from what I normally gravitate to. I may just need to warm up to it a little more.

IMG_1628Day 6 Me Mades: Stripey shirt

This shirt is so old I don’t even remember what pattern I used. Probably a Stretch & Sew pattern, if I had to guess. It actually had long sleeves up until Sunday evening. I finally realized that the sleeve length paired with the very lightweight knit is what had kept me from wearing it much. I shortened the sleeves and finished the cuffs with bands made from the bit of cut-off sleeves. It’s amazing what a difference that made. I actually like this shirt again! Which is good, because it’s just been taking up drawer space for several years now.

IMG_1642Day 7 Me-Mades: Knockoff GAP t-shirt, modified nursing cami

This is the “whoops, I forgot to take a photo until nighttime” picture. I’ve got four or five t-shirts made from my knockoff pattern. For a while it was my go-to t-shirt pattern. This version is out of a very soft drapey rayon blend knit. Doesn’t wear great (the shirt is already pilling a bit), but it feels wonderful.

So one week down, and I think the only me-made things I’ve worn are t-shirts and camisoles. Perhaps I should consider varying my wardrobe a bit more. I actually do have some me-made dresses, skirts, trousers, and jackets. I just don’t seem to wear them as much. Well, and there are still quite a few things in my closet that don’t fit my post-baby body. Might be time for some refashioning and new sewing.