Me-Made-May 2016, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2016: The summary

The first week of June is already gone. I also can’t wait to show you all the new me-mades, but I kind of want to do this right, and figure out what I take away from a month of only wearing clothes made by my own two hands…

I wore 19 me-made garments during the 27 days I managed to keep up with the challenge:

  • 7 dresses;
  • 3 skirts;
  • 3 trousers;
  • 6 tops;
  • and 3 bags (1, 2, 3).

I decided to take a look at what I enjoyed wearing, as well as to look at the thoughts I had after last year’s Me-Made-May.

Dresses

In 2015 I wrote: “I think I have enough dresses at the moment, although I tend to wear them a lot, so I will allow myself to make more if I feel like it. I might also give that jumpsuit idea a go this year.”

Since 2015: I have made a total of 5 new dresses since this time last year, no jumpsuits still. Unfortunately none of those 5 dresses are really suitable for everyday wear, which is why they haven’t really made an appearance during MMMay.

Now I need: Everyday, comfortable dresses that I can wear in all (London) weather conditions.

Skirts

In 2015 I wrote: “I think I wouldn’t mind having a few pencil skirts that allow me to cycle in them, but to be honest I am not in urgent need of any new skirts.”

Since 2015: I made one new skirt that I don’t particularly like, but I’m cool with that since I didn’t think I needed any more anyway…

Now I need: I really enjoyed wearing the lime green A-line skirt this year, and I would like to make a few similar ones of lighter materials for summer.

Trousers

In 2015 I needed: “More of the comfy summery kind. It’s a shame that I am so scared of making trousers, as they are the best option for summer cycling and not that hard to make at all.”

Since 2015: I have not made any new trousers. I have also decided to get rid of the ill-fitting black one that I made using an experimental, self-drafted pattern.

Now I need: More trousers!!! I am taking a pattern cutting course at Morley College again, now learning about the trousers block, so hopefully I will be able to improve on this soon.

Tops

In 2015 I needed: “More tops, obviously. Sleeveless ones for summer, a few more crop tops, another shirt, the perfect white T, and maybe some woven basic tops. I just need more tops. Simple and wearable ones!”

Since 2015: I have made two camisoles that I quite like in theory, but they aren’t the obvious choice to wear in most occasions. I have also just finished a shirt which I am very pleased with.

Now I need: More tops! I probably need to go back to the Wardrobe Architect project and finish it, before I start making things that don’t work with the rest of the wardrobe. I have a few ideas already though, and after the trials and tribulations of making my second shirt, I think I enjoyed the process just as much as I enjoy wearing it, so I’m up for making more!


Last year the aim was to not only wear one me-made item/day, but to wear them head-to-toe, and I am pretty happy about managing to do it. The plan now, is to do a deep clean in my wardrobe, ideally by the end of summer, and get rid of all the clothes that I don’t look forward to wearing for some reason.

If I manage to do that and streamline my collection of clothes so that I only have comfortable, good looking and versatile garments that I enjoy wearing, then I will definitely wear only me-mades in May next year again… 😉

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Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

Shirt refash!

Have you heard of the Refashioners? I’ve stumbled upon Portia Laurie’s blog about a year ago, while checking out a pin about a stunning upcycling project. She invites bloggers every year to – you’ve guessed it – refashion old pieces of clothing. This year round there’s even a competition with an absolutely amazing amount of sewing related prizes, and what’s best, everyone is welcome to join in.

So for this month’s Thrift Store Thursday, I decided to show you what I’m entering the competition with… and you know, if there’s going to be a vote, feel free to choose my dress if you like it! 😉 )

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

I got this plain, blue Marks & Spencer shirt in one of Brighton’s many vintage shops for £1. I had no idea what to do with it, and I was just gonna use it to make a toilet for the final version, but I thought I was running out of time, so I just I went with this.

I wanted to make a folksy/boho summer dress with loads of details. I was looking for embellishments on Pinterest that could be recreated quickly. Originally I was going to get guipure lace and appliqué it on the dress, but I couldn’t find red in the shop, and after eliminating black and white, that was the colour I was going with.

I knew already what shape I wanted the dress to be like, but after assembling the top bit (quilting it, attaching the piping, attaching the ribbon, then the lining), I realized that the front and back piece alone wouldn’t be enough for a gathered A-line skirt. I played with all the remaining pieces (the cuffs, the collar, etc) until I could work out how to make a bigger piece of fabric. I wanted to have pockets and I actually had to have pockets, as there was a slit on one of the side panels – where the placket was inserted into the sleeve originally.

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

The fit is not exactly perfect as the skirt dives down at the back, but it doesn’t bother me too much. I am quite happy with how it turned out as it’s super comfortable and I really love how the red pops on the blue.

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From scratch

The over-oversized shirt

    About 2 years ago I bought a piece of a lovely reddish pink fabric. It was right when I started sewing and I was trying to be pedant, so I shoved it in the washing machine to pre-wash it. The fabric felt a little vinyl like before, and I guess I wanted to get rid of that sticky feeling, but instead I got rid of the dye all together. A light pink, rather transparent, linen like fabric emerged from the machine. After I got over the astonishment, I decided to make an oversized shirt from the March 2012 issue of Burdastyle. I had hardly any experience in sewing at that point, but I was attending a course at the time, so I decided I knew it all and took the collar from one pattern and added to another.

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I got to the above stage rather quickly, then gave up on it as I ignored the ‘oversized’ warning and cut the largest size available…Yeah, I know! The armholes ended up being way too big, hanging off my shoulder, and it was really long.

A few weeks ago I decided to just finish it off to make some space for some new UFOs fabric. I cut about 10 cms off of the hem, and left the armholes as they were. Instead of the two pockets, I only put one on, but it feels a bit small. I opened the buttonhole bit up and inserted a piece of organza as an interfacing, because I failed terribly at my first attempt of buttonhole making without it. I decided to jazz it up with different buttons, and that’s the bit I actually like the most on it.

TheSecretCostumier - Pink Shirt4TheSecretCostumier - Pink Shirt3 TheSecretCostumier - Pink Shirt2TheSecretCostumier - Pink Shirt1 TheSecretCostumier - Pink Shirt5TheSecretCostumier - Pink Shirt8

The good

I realized that I actually quite like to wear shirts and because of the lightweight fabric it was easy to sew. The topstitching provides a good chance to show off your skills (or the lack of thereof when it goes all wonky…).

The bad

The collar has a huge gap at the front which looks a bit weird. The cuffs are NOT FINISHED, as I’m planning on wearing them rolled up all the time. And you know, I’m lazy like that. And for some strange reason I don’t even feel bad about it!

The verdict

The pattern is simple and pretty straight forward, and since it is an oversized shirt you don’t have to worry about fitting that much (if you cut your correct size, that is). I’ve worn it twice during Me-Made-May, but to be honest it’s rather unlikely to be a staple in my wardrobe as it’s a bit too masculine for my taste. Even if it’s baby pink…

TheSecretCostumier - Pink Shirt left1TheSecretCostumier - Pink Shirtleft1

Just a quick question for anyone who read this far: do you guys wear anything that’s not quite done? 🙂

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Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May-2014: The Summary

   This was my first Me-Made-May ever, and ever since I’ve started sewing about 3 years ago. I pledged to wear something handmade for at least 4 days a week for the entire month, and I managed to do this on 25 days, with some outfit changes wearing a total of 29 outfits including a Me-Made garment. I made one new item (the peplum top) and finished 3 UFOs (pink shirt, silky trousers, asymmetric dress). I took exactly 901 photos, mostly with the help of my sister, and discovered probably over 50 like-minded bloggers I did not know before, doing just the same. It was a bit of a hassle at times, but pretty much the most exciting May of my life so far.

   I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, that I think Me-Made-May is a fantastic idea (thank you Zoe!), it really makes you focus on the usefulness of what you make and gears you towards updating your sewing goals. What I have learned about my style and ways of using garments for more than what they were intended for, will be extremely helpful when I finally get to design a capsule wardrobe for myself as part of the Wardrobe Architect project.

   Reading through other bloggers’ summaries made me realize that we have pretty much all gone through the same challenges: changing weather, changing taste, changing bodies and the lack of certain types of garments (not enough or too much separates/dresses) and I can report on having the exact same issues. But I won’t.

   Just kidding. 🙂 I will of course, even if you are all done with reading these, I feel like putting this all down to  use it later as a reference for when I’m just about to start making something beautiful, that I could wear every 5 years to a friend’s wedding… So here are all the outfits, and if you feel like it, check out the conclusion below the images.

   I pretty much stayed true to the tried and tested silhouettes that I’ve collected for Week 3&4 (Wardrobe Architect project), but I did try out a few silhouettes that I rarely wear. Such was the figure hugging skirt + A-line top combo, or the asymmetric dress, and they both hide my waist and bring attention my legs, so even if I didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I thought I would, I would still avoid making those types in the future. Plus they just don’t work with le bike. From looking over the pictures above, I identified what I need more of and what works already:

Dresses

The third most popular item, the backless dress proved to be extremely versatile, and I always feel a little sexy wearing it, even if it’s layered under tops and jumpers. The wrap dress was made in no time and I really love wearing it, although it does need to be shortened. As for the Kimono dress and the “Dior one”, I only wore them to make Me-Made-May a bit more interesting, otherwise they don’t quite fit into my everyday wardrobe, not even for date nights,  if I’m being honest. I still need to figure out if I just didn’t make them comfy enough, or the fabric is too fancy to pull it off with trainers…

I need: At least one more backless dress, simple dresses in solid colours. Wrap dresses, and dresses made of knit fabrics. I don’t own any jumpsuits yet, but they should be a great alternative to dresses for summer, so I am planning to give them a try.

Skirts

I only have few handmade skirts, but the they got the most use throughout the month. The most successful ones were the pleated faux leather one, probably because of the basic black colour and the interesting texture gives. The other often worn skirt was the simplest item I have in my wardrobe, the burnt orange/rust coloured velvet circle skirt, which ticks all my boxes regarding shape, length, colour and the ability to be dressed up or down.

I need: More simple skirts in solid colours, from interesting fabrics.

Trousers

As for trousers, it looks like fit is everything. The pink ones used to be high-waisted and I liked them like that. Now that I’ve lost some weight they are hanging somewhere between my waist and hip, and the fabric isn’t the best either. The black silky one would have been a good idea, but I really need to take my time to test patterns when it comes to trousers, as a gaping neckline is really annoying, but not being able to sit down in something is really the deal breaker.

I need: Well fitting comfortable trousers that work for summer. Try a palazzo style and a slim fitting one.

Tops

I can’t believe I could wear something handmade for almost every day for an entire month with having only 3 (4 with the refashion) Me-Made tops in my wardrobe. Out of those 4, 3 only work with high-waisted trousers or skirts, and the one shirt I made is a bit less than perfect, as well as pretty hard to pair with anything, due to its baby pink colour. Although I am pretty happy with my basic RTW T-shirts, there is definitely room for improvement in this section.

I need: More tops, obviously. Sleeveless ones for summer, a few more crop tops, another shirt, the perfect white T, and maybe some woven basic tops. 

Well, we are almost in the middle of June and all that documenting somewhat kept me from actually sewing stuff, so I am planning to jump back into it again. Kath, from Bernie and I, had a brilliant idea to keep us all going, by suggesting to make 1 project per week for an entire month. I was going to do it in June, but guess what, I’m running late with finishing the first #1ppw already, but as long as I have 4 finished pieces by the end of June, I will call this a success, so bear with me…

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Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May: Week 4

    I kind of hope that some of you missed my Me Made post from the beginning of the week. I have never gotten this close to being consistent with blogging, and I blame the weather for this minor delay. Sunday was way too sunny to stay indoors and photograph the 7!!! outfits for last week (I wore two different ones on Thursday), so I put it off until I felt so bad about not doing it, that I did what I had to…took photos of myself. Sorry about the lifeless expressions, but I am practically in pain during these sessions, as:

  • I don’t have a tripod, but use some pillows and books to put the phone to the right height,
  • I don’t have a remote control, so I run back and forth between two shots,
  • and I don’t particularly enjoy the neighbourly stares either.

But. I do love this blog, I love seeing other people’s creations and I honestly love the whole Me-Made-May project, so it is still worth it!

    Last week I wore Me Mades 6 days of the week, but I’ve only included 5 outfits here, as I could not possibly take photos of the remaining 2 (see agony above), and I also decided to wear them again this week. While I’m more than happy to repeat outfits, it’s just boring to show them more than once, isn’t it?

    My favourite ensemble this week was what I wore on Day 22, as I felt really confident and modern in the trousers (borrowed from the Sis’), short-sleeved blazer, trainers combo. Day 23’s attire is a very close second though, as I felt clever for using the backless dress as a top and underskirt. Not so much when I was riding and it was impossible to tie the bulky skirts up to avoid getting it between the wheels while cycling…

TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 19TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMay - Day 20 TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 21TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 22 TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 23TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 23b

    What I really enjoyed this week was the way I reused garments. For example wearing the draped dress or the backless dress as a top, reminded me of the Uniform Project, and how you realise that clothes can do double duty, once you are forced to step out of your comfort zone and make the most of what you have. I must admit I kind of feel like a child wrapped in a blanket, playing dress up, but I guess that’s how I discovered sewing in the first place…

Me-Mades this week:

PS: If someone from a trainers company happens to read this blog, and you are desperately looking for a volunteer to test drive some shoes, similar to the ones pictured above, then don’t be shy, send them over to me. As you can see I’d be doing a pretty good job promoting them. 😉

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TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect
Wardrobe Architect

Week 3 & 4: Exploring shapes & Building silhouettes

First I found this task from the Wardrobe Architect project very challenging, as I could not ignore the designs of clothes and only focus on the shapes, but once I got past that it was easy! I do have a kind of uniform for fall/winter and I am happy to expand on that, however this is not exactly the case with hot weather outfits. Below I collected silhouettes according to seasons.

Fall/Winter

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 1

Silhouette #1: I must admit I only chose this dress because of the amazing pattern, although I have a polkadot one from H&M in this same shape and that must be one of my most worn garments. I didn’t want to bore you with numerous incarnations of the same silhouette, but this is my uniform between September and May. A dress that’s cinched in at the waist+black tights+short jacket. It can be dressed up with boots and a blazer or dressed down with trainers and a motorcycle jacket.

Silhouette  #2: This is basically the more casual version of the first silhouette. By wearing separates, I can keep things balanced by pairing an everyday fabric like jersey or denim with something more luxurious like velvet or silk.

Silhouette  #3: This is something I wouldn’t normally wear, but I loved this skirt, I have a similar suede one  and there is a Burdastyle pattern that has this same kind of old school feel about it and I’m dying to make. The only problem with it? Not good for cycling!

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 5

Silhouette  #4: I usually feel sloppy when I’m wearing something loose on top AND bottom, but for some reason I almost always wear my beaded skirt with a loose knit top. I guess this is what kids must feel like while doing the grocery shopping (with their parents, obviously) and wearing their princess dresses and regular raincoats . The idea here is to make more fancy skirts, obviously. 😉

Silhouette  #5: This must be my favourite silhouette right now. Probably because I haven’t tried it yet! I bought a very similar pair of trousers last summer and enjoyed wearing it, but now I would like to make some for Fall and wear it with (you’ve guessed it right!) black tights. I like the fact that it’s high-waisted, loose enough to be uber comfortable and shows off your ankle. What might not work after all is the length, as at 5’5″ or 166cm I am not exactly tall, and it might make me look short, wide and too boyish…

 Spring/Summer

Shilouette  #6: This is for those cool and sunny days outside of work, and for popping out to Tesco’s, or else I wear this whenever I don’t feel like making ANY effort at all. I already own every piece from this silhouette and it is not a priority to sew basic knit tops, although you really can’t ever have enough breton tops.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 7

Shilouette  #6: This would be my idea of dressing up the Levi’s 501, but to be honest I’m still struggling with the fit of the jeans. I bought them when the local vintage shop closed down for £9 and love them, but I’m still debating whether taking it in at the waist and turning it into a high-waisted pair would be a better idea than leaving it all loose and boyfriendish. If I go with the alteration it would make it great to wear with silk blouses and sometimes heels too.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 8

Silhouette  #8: I love crop tops, bodies and full skirts. They all accentuate the waist which happens to be an area that I am actually happy to show off. I have tried the summery culottes already (the same shape I’ll try for Fall), but I would love to make some in more basic colors, as the one I own is in pastel yellow.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 9

Silhouette  #9: Here we go again with the evil trouser. So I attempted to draft my own pants pattern, then took it in until I couldn’t sit down in it and had to modify it so that it can be used for cycling and sitting OR standing and looking pretty. I might show you the result if I don’t go all mad and cut it up into tiny pieces… The gingham (or patterned) trousers would be made with a high waist, but I’m not sure if I can master making something so fitted that does not feel too tight, although there’s only one way to find this out…

I will definitely make at least one more shirt as I love working with light weight fabrics and it has loads of details where you can use some fine techniques (I mean topstitching. I love topstitching.). I would also love to make a camisole as it is also all about the details, it’s usually crazy expensive in stores considering the amount of fabric used, and it just looks simple, sultry, and elegant.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 10

Silhouette  #10: I own a pair of similar striped trousers and I love the boldness of it in theory, but it needs to be altered to be comfortable and I am not sure if I can ever not feel a little bit like a clown while wearing them. The other trousers are high-waisted and wide legged which I must make at least 2 of. I already have one and it’s perfect for summer, especially because it can be paired with cute and relatively easy to make crop tops.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 11

Silhouette  #11: I basically lived in my black maxi skirt when I was in Nigeria last year, which easily qualifies it for summer wear. I do feel a little too comfy looking while wearing it with loose tops, but usually when I have to grab this outfit I have better things to think about, like how to swipe the sweat off my face in the most sophisticated way possible.

The last silhouette is something I probably could never pull off, but as you can see on my Pinterest board I am pretty obsessed with jumpsuits at the moment. I think during Summer they could be what dresses are during Fall to me. I mean they look put together and they provide the same kind of coverage as opaque tights, so I can freely move around.

Next time I’ll be looking at the colors that I am drawn to , as well as try to define where to use solids and prints. To be honest I am getting a little skeptical about the success of this process for me, as I feel like I am sewing because I don’t want to have simple garments in my wardrobe. On the other hand, I feel like putting this all down plus the Me-Made-May might help me steer towards sewing stuff that I want to wear everyday and not just things that I like the idea of. Has anyone started the Wardrobe Architect project AND finished it already? Any luck with creating a capsule collection?

All images can be found on Polyvore among My Items.

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Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2014: I’m in!!!

    Have you heard of Me Made May? If you are already sewing then you most definitely have. If you aren’t, then chances are you’ll stumble upon the #MMMay14 hashtag on one of the social media sites, as well as on Pinterest, and see ladies and gents proudly showing off their handmade garments. The idea, which comes from Zoe, is to encourage people who sew (knit, crochet, etc…) clothes for themselves, to actually make a little effort and wear them as many times as possible for an entire month. This is the first ever sewing challenge I am taking part of and I’m loving it already! My original pledge is this:

‘I, Etemi of The Secret Costumier, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear something handmade at least 4 days each week for the duration of May 2014.’

    So far it’s going pretty well! The biggest challenge is dressing appropriately for the weather, as I have mainly been sewing skirts and dresses, while I usually wear trousers and tops during warmer months. As for most people taking part in Me Made May, this is an awesome opportunity for me to see what I need to make more of (hello Wardrobe Architect project!), as well as to find out which pieces are actually comfortable enough for daily wear. Like the black dress from Day 4. It’s perfectly fine to walk and stand pretty in, but cycling? Impossible. (Without swearing and a jumper around your bum. 😉 )

TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May - Day 1TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMay - Day 2TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMay- Day 4TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMay- Day 5

   Where is Day 3, you ask? Well, on the 3rd of May I was mostly finishing off some pieces (including the pink shirt) while wearing the pink shirt from Day 5,  and since nobody saw me wearing it, it felt a bit like cheating to include it here.

     I am planning on taking photos (with the help of my Sister – hence the change of poses!) during the weekends, but if you just can’t live without seeing my little struggle to put together outfits using my limited handmade wardrobe, then you can follow me on Instagram. By the way, it’s only been 6 days and I’ve already discovered more jaw-droppingly good sewing blogs through the  #MMMay14 hashtag (and it’s numerous versions), than in the past 3 years altogether!

Me-Mades this week:

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