So many thanks

Thank you so much to everyone who wrote me about Sarah Jane.  I showed the comments to my husband, and I know they made him feel  better as well.  I wish I could respond to you each individually, but right now it’s too difficult for me to talk about her.  Know that your words and prayers were truly appreciated.  My friends and family have been wonderful throughout this time – truly I did not know how much support we had, and I am very grateful.    I am feeling at peace with our decision, and every day gets a bit easier.  My other cats are a comfort – Leon (my Maine Coon) who has always been my cat, has taken to lying close to Marc on the sofa, almost as though he knows how much my husband misses having a cat by his side.

People cope with sadness in different ways.  Routine is very comforting to me.  I like to be busy (in general, but especially at difficult times.)  I find talking about my feelings to be extremely difficult.    My Myers-Briggs type is INTJ, which explains a lot about me!  My husband and best friend are all the same type, and we all have this issue.  Which is all a very long way of saying that, though it feels a bit frivilous, I have been taking my me-made-May photos.  It makes me feel better to continue with a project.  I missed the few days where I was the most upset, but otherwise I’ve been trying to get through.  Here are the newest photos/pattern reviews: not my best, but I’m pleased that I took them!

Friday, May 4th

Me-made item: Vogue 8231

Comments: I didn’t finish the entire dress, but I did finish and wear the top on Oaks day (KY derby eve).  I wore this to play the piano for a fundraising brunch.  Funny story: I arrived at the venue on time, having set up my borrowed digital piano the night before.  It worked fine then, but when I turned it on Friday morning I got an error that could not be cleared (something having to do with the soundbank.)  I ended up sending my husband on an emergency piano retrieval mission, and had to play a Casio digital keyboard.  It was not my most shining moment (really, could anything be shining on a Casio keyboard?) but we got through!

I don’t really like the top with these pants.  I was going for a sort of retro cigarette pants look, but I think these pants aren’t quite skinny enough.  This is a place where photos  really help me out – I thought they were ok in the mirror, but I didn’t like any of the photos.  Oh well – I will finish the skirt soon!

After the brunch I changed clothes and went to a cookout at a friend’s house.  Alas, I did not wear anything I made there, but I figure I had met my goal for the day.

About the pattern: well, obviously I haven’t made the skirt, so I’m not doing a full review yet.  I can tell you my alterations:  I used double fold bias tape to finish the armhole and neck edges, and I eliminated the sleeves (I really love bias tape by the way – it makes everything so neat!)  I removed 1″ at center back and tapered the side seams in towards the waist, as it was a bit boxy on me.  It does wrinkle a bit, but not as bad as I initially feared!

I used self-fabric covered buttons on the back.  I cannot recommend buttons on your back unless you never lean back… cute, but not super comfortable!  I will do a full review later, when I finish the skirt.

Saturday, May 5th

Me-made item: Jalie pleated cardigan

Original post: here

Comments: Derby day!  Note my lack of giant hat.  I went to a party and then out for drinks with friends in my neighborhood later, and my goal was to be comfortable!  At most derby parties you tend to sit around, occasionally watch races, and eat lots of little foods, so comfort is key!

Pattern comments: I really like this cardigan – it’s comfortable and long, but not sloppy.  Unfortunately, the pleated detail is lost in this fabric, but it’s still nice!  I would make it again, but my pattern is lost.  Maybe I will buy it again someday.  My fabric is wearing out – not that it’s bad, but I’ve worn this to death!

Sunday, May 6th

Me-made item: McCall’s 6069 

Original post: Here

Comments:

I can’t get over how much longer my hair has grown this year!  And yes, I picked this photo because Leon was in it – he has to be around when I’m taking photos!  Today was mostly for catching up on things – I went grocery shopping (and made an excellent roasted sweet potato/apple salad with sweet balsamic dressing.)  I also took a nice long walk and met my Mom for coffee to discuss plans for my graduation next weekend, and I did a new set of gel nails (the last ones lasted over a week without chipping, but I got bored – I think I could easily get 2 weeks!)

Pattern comments:

I think I might like it more now than when I finished it.  It’s casual and comfortable, and it’s easy to wear in lots of situations.  The back can be a problem – if I don’t watch, and the shoulder seams fall back, it exposes my bra strap.  I don’t think this is a pattern failing – rather, I needed to shorten the armhole length.  This has become a common alteration for me – it seems that I have a short armpit – shoulder length.  The cowl drapes stay in place, even though I didn’t sew them down.

I spilled dressing on this at dinner, but luckily it washed out.  I still may go back and add some hems to this dress, but it’s wearable as is – this was before I had figured out a strategy for hemming knits.

That’s all for now.  Hopefully I will have time to work on my graduation dress tomorrow, so that  I can finish it this week!

Me made March: the final roundup

Here we are – the last days of my challenge!

Day 28

Dress: Vogue 1176

Cardigan: Old Navy

Shoes: Alfani

This is the first time I’ve worn this dress – it feels so dressy to me, and I’m not really big on straight skirts.   I wore it to my recital, and I feel like it was perfect for that occasion!

Day 29

Cardigan: Jalie Pleated cardigan

Dress: Vogue 8923

Boots: Impo

This is another dress I’m trying to rescue from obscurity.  It’s very clingy, which isn’t necessarily bad, but I do tend to feel self-conscious when something clings to my hips.  The solution?  A long cardigan!

Day 30

Dress: Butterick 5523

Tights: Forever 21

Boots: Poetic License

I love this dress – it’s so versatile, and most of all comfortable!

Day 31

Jacket: Simplicity 2443

Top: American Eagle

Skirt: Vintage Pierre Cardin, shortened

Shoes: Cole Haan

It’s funny- I don’t really love this outfit (I feel like the boxy jacket + full skirt is a bit much) but I got several random compliments on it today!  I do love the individual parts.

All my photos from the challenge are in my flickr set here.

What have I learned from this challenge?  I’ve learned that I actually prefer my handmade items – I did not miss my other closet items a bit!  I feel like I’m doing well making items that I want to wear – in particular, I wear a lot of knit dresses, so I’m glad that I’ve hit those hard since the last challenge in September.

I’ve worn my knitted items this month, which has inspired me to start knitting again – so excited about that!  I can’t really explain to you why I stopped.  I think that I associated many of those items with the period of my life when I made them – a time when I was working a job that I hated, when I felt trapped and alone.  Now that I am happier, I’ve found it hard to shake the memories.  Perhaps those items have finally lost their bad associations for me?  I tend to do that… if, for example,  I wear a certain perfume during a bad event, I might remember that event and stop wearing the perfume.  Of course, I do still have fears for my wrists, so my knitting will be slower, but I’m finally motivated again!

Traveling while participating was a challenge, but it helped me to really distill my travel wardrobe.   For once I didn’t overpack (though there were two dresses I never wore!)  I missed a few days of the challenge – some without photos, some where I only wore concert dress, and some where I only wore pajamas (while getting rid of the nasty Italian virus I picked up!)

My summer sewing plans include many cute dresses.  Self-stitched September was really life-changing for me.  I realized that I wasn’t dressing to make myself happy.  What makes me happy?  Wearing dresses most of the time.  Now I do, and getting dressed every day is so fun!  I plan to continue that into warm weather, hopefully making and wearing many cute dresses.  I also plan to knit some cardigans – I have many black/neutral cardigans, but not so many colorful ones.

I’m on spring break starting today, so I hope to get in some good crafting time.  In addition, one of my friends and I are going to do a thrift expedition/clothes swap, so I’m really looking forward to that!  Thanks to everyone who has commented – and congratulations to my fellow me-made-March participants.  I have enjoyed seeing what you are wearing every day!

 

Spring fabrics, mmm day 27

This afternoon my serger decided to stop working.  I panicked, imagining myself having to buy a new one, but as it turns out it just doesn’t work correctly with larger cones of thread.  I usually use Guttermann Todi-lock or Maxi lock, but I had bought a large cone of black.  No good – it wouldn’t spool correctly, and repeatedly broke the needle thread.  I had to go to Joann’s to pick up some black serger cones.  They had a 25% off your entire purchase (including sale items) coupon this weekend, and it was madness!  When I got my ticket for the cutting table there were 20 people ahead of me.  I decided to get some fabrics from their new Spring collections, at least the ones that were also on sale – I doubt I will be able to get them so cheaply before they hit clearance!  As I’ve said before, Joann’s seems to be trying to improve their garment sewing game, and the new collections are very nice.  I also got to see the Lisette fabrics, though they were not on sale, and they seem like nice quality to me.  Here is what I got:

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Clockwise from top left: 1. Rayon/lycra knit for Butterick 5491.  My obsession with painted looking fabrics continues.  2. Linen/cotton blend print, to make retro Butterick 5603 (the tie shoulder version.) 3. Poly charmeuse to make the new Vintage Vogue reprint 8728.  I am not a huge fan of polyester, but I wanted to make this dress cheaply to start out with.  I do love the nautical print! 4. Stretch cotton sateen for DKNY pattern Vogue 1220.

I also found a yarn in my stash to use for my sweater:

This is Manos wool/silk blend.  I have part of it knit into a tuscany shawl (which will never be finished) and I’m ready to frog it.  I am not totally decided on the pattern, but I’m leaning towards Audrey in Unst.  I think it will look great in this color, and I have just the correct amount of yarn.

Finally, here is my me-made-March outfit of the day.

Sweater: Knitted by me, the “Not so shrunken” cardigan

Dress: Vogue 1225, Tracy Reese design

Shoes: Mia

This sweater is really too big for me, so I’m wearing it wrapped around a bit.  I love this dress (and yes, it still needs a hem… I am so chicken about hemming knits!)

Sweater closeup:

Me made March day 25: Damask

Shawl: Damask, handknitted by me

Cardigan: 525 America

Dress: Simplicity2848

Shoes: Bass

This outfit could be called “I have new things, so I wore them all at once.”  I’m trying to break in the shoes (which I would likely not usually wear with black tights, but they are a tad big, so I want to be sure they are broken in before I give them a chance to cause blisters.)

I knit the shawl on size 4 needles (I am a loose knitter.)  It does require attention, because the entire thing is charted, but I would describe it as pretty low stress for lace knitting.  I didn’t get it to block into pretty scallops because I was trying to stretch it larger.  I may reblock it without pins – I’m not thrilled with the points.

I had a heck of a time getting photos of damask:

It’s very, very pink.  Which I actually like.  I wore it out to walk to the coffee shop today, along with my white shoes and this coat:

which is actually even brighter than it looks in this photo, believe it or not.  The guy who made my coffee said “wow, that’s some bright outfit.  You’re like dressed as a cartoon.”  Um, thanks?  Whatever.  I like my bright colors!  Just because, here are the new shoes:

Love them.  I wanted something that had the look of an oxford to wear with dresses for walking.  I don’t really think that traditional oxfords are very flattering to the leg, so I got these.  They aren’t as high cut (don’t go as far back on the top of the foot) as traditional oxfords.  They’re also very comfortable!  I would say they run maybe half a size large – I ordered my usual size, and ended up having to put in heel inserts to make them fit perfectly (they were close enough that I didn’t bother exchanging for a smaller size.)

I have no exciting weekend plans other than sewing – yes, we are social animals around here!  I have my studio recital on Monday night, so I’m putting a lot of time and energy into preparing for that.  Recitals are stressful, and I will be glad when it’s over!

Shawl blocking, more MMM

I’m making a real effort to include more handknits in my me-made-March efforts.  Here is today:

Shawl: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark.  I knit this quite awhile ago – the photos on my Ravelry page are from before we bought our house!

The rest of my outfit is not exciting – today I have a concert, so it’s all black again.

Cardigan: Style & Co, thrifted

Dress: Ann Taylor, thrifted

Tights: H&M

Boots: Impo

Here is yesterday’s entry:

Jacket: Simplicity 2443

Dress: thrifted

Shoes: vintage

Yesterday it was nearly 80 degrees.  Today? 40.  Yes, that’s what weather is like in March.  I have to drive to Carrollton, KY tonight, so I actually care what to weather is (I am bad, since I work at home, to just adjust my home temperature to however I want to dress.)

And… I finished knitting the Damask shawl.  Yes, already.  I really think my single-mindedness is what kills my knitting mojo.  I cannot work on two things at the same time, no matter how hard I try!  So when I start sewing something, I inevitably forget to work on my knitting.  I made sure to finish this in one go, but I don’t always have the patience.  Here is is unblocked (doesn’t look like much!)

I’m not great at blocking shawls, I know I don’t use enough pins or worry about things being perfectly even.  What’s the use, when I know it’s going to get many layers of cat hair on it while its wet?

Leon would like you to know that he is definitely not thinking about laying on that the second my back is turned… no sir.  What is it with cats and wet things?  Is it only my cat?  He loves to sleep on blocking sweaters more than just about anything!

I will have a finished post for the shawl once it’s all blocked.  I’m hoping it turns out pretty!  After I get back from my concert tonight, I plan to start my new dress (single-minded, I tell you.)

Me-made March day 22

March 22, 2011
March 22, detail
Dress: Vogue 8577, cost to make roughly

Sweater: Vintage, thrifted

Pin: Thrifted

Shoes: Keds, thrifted

I’m finally back on track with me-made March.  One thing I really enjoy about the challenge is that it gets me to wear my less worn projects.  I don’t wear this dress often – it used to make me feel costumey (though not anymore… I am used to it at this point) and it attracts lint like mad.  I bought this sweater thinking I would never use it, but I wear it all the time.  It’s the perfect length for me, though I suspect it might be cropped on someone with a normal length waist.

I am so ready for spring now.  Today it is in the 70s!  The temperatures are going to go back down later this week, so I’m enjoying them while they last.  It’s so nice to be out of tights – I don’t mind wearing them, but after awhile it gets a bit monotonous!   I even ordered a pair of shoes to wear this spring.  I got the white color, and I’m anticipating them being nice with full skirts, similar to an oxford but more flattering on the leg.

This is what my hair looks like on the second day of a set of Caruso steam rollers.  I started using them in high school, but forgot about them for years.  I saw them a bit back at Sally’s and got a new set.  I love them – my hair is very fine and mostly straight (I have a little wave underneath.)  These work almost as well as a wet set, but I don’t have to sleep in them.  I highly recommend them!

 

Tiny shawls: Me-made March day 21

3-21-2011

Milkweed shawl detail

Shawl: Milkweed shawl by Laura Chau, knitted in Socks that Rock mediumweight, 24 karats colorway

Pin: Vintage, belonged to my grandma (and it’s lost one of its pretty green stones, sad face)

Cardigan: Ann Taylor, thrifted

Dress: Ann Taylor petites, thrifted

Shoes: Nurture

Today one of my piano students said to me “why do you always wear weird things?”  I’m not really certain what would be considered “weird” by an elementary school student, but apparently it involves tiny shawls.  I think, all things considered, that I will take the fashion opinions of 7 year old boys with a grain of salt, yes?

I thought I would get out this shawl, since I’m knitting another mini-shawl.  I love to wear them this way, turned around backwards and tied with a pretty pin (I have a ton of brooches… my grandma didn’t have pierced ears, so all of her jewelry obsession came out in pins and necklaces.)

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t use this yarn for another shawl.  It’s very pretty, but it’s so springy and tightly wound that it refuses to hold blocking, especially in the garter stitch.  Even so, I’ve worn this quite a bit.  I hope to wear my damask shawl as much.   I am on row 54.  The great thing about the pattern is that it is knit starting with the long edge, so it gets shorter every row!

I’m also about to start on a new sewing project:

Simplicity 2209 is one of the new Lisette patterns from Simplicity.  The designer kindly sent me one to try, and I thought it would be perfect for this fun cotton sateen print (from Sawyer brook, still available.)  I was looking for a design without princess seams, so hopefully this one will suit the fabric!