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Chicago, IL, United States



20 May 2016

Me Made May 2016: Weeks 1-3

Hello there!

I can safely say that I've worn at least one handmade/altered item almost every day this month so far  (my blazer gets A LOT of wear). Here's what I wore (when I remember to take a picture):

  (Left to right, top to bottom)
1. Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas (C+S Moonlit Tangrams)
2. Altered Zebra Top (I removed the tag, but I think it's J. Crew) and Escada blazer
3. Christine Haynes Emery Dress (C+S Black and White Mini Squares)
4. Christine Haynes Emery Dress (C+S Picnic Rose Garden)
5. Grainline Studios Archer (Blue linen from purchased years ago)
6. Christine Haynes Emery Dress (Kaufman Black Dot Chambray)
7. Grainline Studios Scout Tee (Knit version, black and white lace knit from years ago)
8. Grainline Studios Lark Tee (Some lycra knit fabric from GirlCharlee years ago)
9. McCall 6696 Shirtdress (Kaufman Burgundy Dot Chambray)

(Clockwise from top left)
10. Grainline Studios Lark Tee (Long sleeve, grey thermal from years ago)
11. Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress (Grey ponte with very faded black dots, from GirlCharlee years ago)
12. Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas, (Shorts, C+S Moonlit Tangrams) Grainline Studio Lark Tee (can't remember where this jersey came from), Grainline Driftless Cardigan (jersey from last year) **this is my classiest outfit yet!**
13. Colette Hawthorn (Blue gingham seersucker purchased in Milwaukee years ago)
This is my third year participating in MMM and I'm starting to notice a few things. I don't want to make this a massive post, so I will expand more on these ideas at a later date, but here is the TL&DR version:

1. I loooove and need more dresses in my life, but I don't want anything to cling and I need colorful tights.
2. I need to work on my shoe selection. I don't wear a lot of handmade items because I don't have shoes to match.
3. I don't like bare arms and wear a lot of cardigans/blazers, but they're all hip length and look silly with dresses. I need shorter/cropped cardigans, blazers, and jackets.
4. I hate defining bodies by shape, but I'm an apple (carry my weight in the middle, great arms and legs). I'm trying to figure out what shapes look most flattering. I'm going to give high waisted jeans a try!
5. After years of telling myself that I look better in slimmer fitting tops, it turns out that I actually prefer looser fitting tops with some waist definition (I think this goes back to the apple shape).
6. I'm not really a fan of skirts.
7. I need a nicer bag. I don't care for purses, but a nice leather tote or messanger bag would look great. The tote bag my sister gave me for Christmas years ago is starting to look very, very worn and "ruins" nice outfits.

8. I don't really have any accessories. I feel silly in earrings, bracelets make too much noise, and I don't really know where to find necklaces that won't turn my neck green.
9. I prefer woven garments over knits (they're more flattering).
10. I prefer prints to solids, except when it comes to t-shirts. I also like layering prints with solids.
11. I want to start focusing on looking more put together. I spent a lot of time getting perfecting my skincare routine (day and night difference), I'm working on figuring out what works best for my crazy hair, and now I need to start thinking about my wardrobe. Maybe I'll run through the Wardrobe Architect.

Welp, that's a random list.

The biggest take away from this round of MMM is that I don't really think about how the items I'm making fit in with the rest of my wardrobe. In the past, I impulsively bought fabric because I like the way it looks, even if it went with nothing else. I've really tried to stop making those impulsive purchases and think about what I'm doing. It's helped tremendously, but I still have a huge stash of fabric that I'm slowly working through. I ended up donating 12 bags of clothing a few weeks ago, which included a lot of handmade items. That's how serious I am becoming about my dumb wardrobe.

That's it for now. SEE YA!

04 May 2016

Catching Up

What's this? An update?! I know, I's been a while. I'm feeling motivated, don't kill my vibe.

I finally got around to take some photos of a few recent-ish makes. For our fifth wedding anniversary (June 2015), my husband gave me a new Nikon camera! While I really wanted to take photos with my fancy camera, the battery is dead and my motivation to document things is starting to fade. You're stuck with iPhone photos, sorry!

I went a little crazy making Emery dresses. I've made a total of five with several more in my queue. I spent a very, very long time adjusting the pattern, trying to wrap my brain around the science of pattern making (it is a science, right?). I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I made a total of 12 bodice muslins over a year and a half before everything finally clicked. The first three dresses are alright, but the last two are GREAT!

Emery #1 has already made an appearance on this blog during MMM15.

Emery #2 aka "Portland Dress." I made this for our vacation to the Pacific Northwest last summer and boy do I love it (and boy is it starting to show). I used Cotton & Steel's Moonlit Tangrams in Navy. The bodice is unlined with just red bias tape finishing off the neckline.

Emery #3 was made from Cotton & Steel's Black & White Mini Squares fabric and is lined with black kona cotton. I also made this for our Pacific Northwest vacation last summer, but tried finishing it three hours before we needed to leave for the airport. I was almost done installing the zipper when my 95+ year old neighbor pounded on my door because she had fallen and really hurt herself. Helping little old ladies always comes before sewing.

Emery #4 was made from this awesome Alexander Henry fabric called Resting in Roses. I feel like such a badass in this dress.

Emery #5 was made from Cotton and Steel's Picnic Rose Garden. I love, love, LOVE this dress!

I doubt you can tell, but I really love Cotton and Steel's fabrics, especially when paired with the Emery. I think the Emery is the perfect canvas for showcasing awesome fabric.

Next, I jumped on the M6696 shirtdress train and made two. Well, almost made two (both need buttons and buttonholes). Two bodice muslins and several adjustments later, I deemed the back too poofy and removed 2". Except I forgot that the back is cut on the fold and that I only needed to remove 1" from the actual pattern piece. I'm sure you can see where this is going...I ended up taking 4" off the back instead of 2". I didn't realize my mistake until I was half way done with the hem. By that point, everything was beautifully topstitched and I couldn't bring myself to rip everything out just to insert a new back bodice. The dress is beautiful (can't quite capture the color, it's chambray that I found at a thrift store in Seattle), but, sadly, too small. Maybe it will be my inspiration to lose weight (YEAH RIGHT).

For M6696 #2, I used this lovely burgundy Kaufamn dotted chambray. I also corrected the pattern, removing ONLY 2" of ease from the back bodice. Everything is hand stitched this time and for some reason, I decided not to do any top stitching, which I now (sorta) regret.

I also made two pairs of Carolyn pajamas. I made the first set for my sister so she could lounge around her new apartment in style. I made view B (long sleeves, long pants, piping) with Cotton and Steel's Homebody Tacks in teal. This was my first experience with piping, but certainly not my last. I'll definitely be investing in a piping foot, that's for sure. Sadly, I do not have a photo of the set. :(

The second pair is view C (short sleeves, shorts, piping) made from Cotton & Steel's Moonlit Tangrams in Navy (this is my favorite fabric). I tried getting these done in time for a trip to Atlanta and was a little sloppy with the construction. The top stitching is a little wonky and the piping looks a little crazy in places, but still wear them every night (and sometimes during the day). I have plans for at least two more pajama sets, but I have to stop and ask myself, how many pajama sets does a gal really need?

I've made a handful of other items, including a grey thermal long sleeve Lark Tee, dark grey Driftless Cardigan, and a handful of Greenwood tanks, but don't really feel like making separate posts for those, I've already done enough.

Last order of business before ending this post... we got a second cat! Her name is Moog and she's almost 8 months old (we name our pets after synthesizers #sorryimnotsorry). Here's a picture of her sitting like a human on a container of cotton balls:

Phhheeewww, that's it for now! Hopefully I'll be back this weekend with a MMM week 1 round up. Be sure to follow me on Instagram (downtheseams, duh)!

01 May 2016

Me Made May 2016

Where did the last year go? My aunt reminded me that I have a blog and she actually reads it (hello Chrissy!), so I guess I should start updating on a semi-monthly basis. 

So, Me Made May 2016...

I took a look at MMM2015 post and I'm still honoring my pledge to wear handmade items at least five days a week. Maybe this year should just be Me Made 2016. 

I'm too lazy to pull up the "official" MMM2016 pledge, but I, Ali, re-pledge to wear handmade items at least five days a week. 

I have a lot of finished projects to post. Maybe I'll get around to it next year (har har). 

16 May 2015

Thoughts on MMM15

MMM14 forced me to step out of my comfort zone and actually start wearing my creations. For the longest time, I only had a handful of tops (mainly Renfrews) that I felt comfortable enough wearing in public. The rest were worn in the safety of my own home. I didn't think my garments were "good enough" to face the light of day (what does "good enough" even mean?). 

I pushed myself to wear my creations for MMM14, and guess what? Nothing happened. No one laughed at my handmade clothes, my seams didn't rip while riding the train, and pats on the back became a daily ritual. MMM14 really helped me come out of my shell and allowed me to see how awesome I actually am. I don't give myself enough credit.

Naturally, I jumped on board the MMM15 train, promising to wear handmade garments five times a week. But you know what? Since last May, I wear handmade garments almost every single day (except for pants... I'm not ready to tackle them quite yet, and if I were, I'm not sure my machine could handle it). I'm also incredibly lazy and forget to take photos of what I'm wearing. 

But that's okay. I finally understand the importance of hashtags, and I will continue to honor the pledge I made, wearing handmade garments at least five times a week, but you guys don't need to see every single thing I wear. That shit is exhausting for me and boring for you, as I tend to repeat outfits. 

That said, here is a collage of photos I did manage to take the first week or so of MMM15. 


Clockwise, starting from upper right: 

1. True Bias Sutton Blouse (floral rayon shirting from 
2. Sewaholic Renfrew (some butter soft jersey from
3. Grainline Linden Sweatshirt (luscious baby hacci sweater knit from Girl Charlee)
4. Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress (polka dot ponte from Girl Charlee)
5. True Bias Sutton Blouse (same as #1, just showing how I normally wear it... with a purple ass cardigan)
6. Christine Haynes Emery Dress (Robert Kaufman polka dot chambray from dropped salsa on it before taking this photos and lost weight since I made it, but still wear the shit out of it)

End rant. 

01 May 2015

Me Made May 2015

Yeah, yeah...I'm a little late to the game. WHOOPS!

I, Ali, am signing up for Me Made May 2015 with the goal of wearing something Me-Made five days a week. I don't care about wearing head to toe Me-Made, but will wear at least one Me-Made garment on these five days.