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.


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.


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.


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.


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… 😉

Stash diet/ Scrap revival

The quick godet skirt

TheSecretCostumier -The quick godet skirt

This skirt was done in a few hours–not that it does not look like it was done in a few hours–, but I am mentioning it, because that’s pretty much the only thing I really like about it…

It was made from some fabric remnants that I picked up recently, exactly with some kind of a frilly skirt in mind. Originally I wanted to make a tiered skirt, but that’s really not my style, and I remembered this pattern from Burdastyle that had the best styling in the issue at the time. When I found out that it required over 4 meters of fabric, while I only had three 1 m x 75 cm pieces, I knew I had to do some modifications.

TheSecretCostumier -The quick godet skirt

TheSecretCostumier -The quick godet skirt

The easiest thing to do was to insert less godets into the main pieces, and make them half the required size. You might have already figured out where this story goes, but let me bore everyone else with it anyway: when I decided to make the godets half the size by cutting them at a 45° angle (instead of a 90° angle), I ended up with one side of the godet cut on the straight grain and the other one on bias.

While (without considering the grain) on pattern paper this was supposed to work, in real fabric life one side was a lot longer than the other, so I had to adjust them while sewing, cutting the excess off at the bottom, round section. Which of course made the hem totally uneven, and I found it too long as well, so it got shortened as compared to the first version (above).

TheSecretCostumier -The quick godet skirt

I also tried to omit the dreaded zip insertion by sewing on a wide elastic waistband, but after a 30 minute wrestle, and finding out that it’s impossible to attach almost 2 meters of fabric (no matter how gathered it is) to a 70 cm long elastic band, I ended up putting on a normal waistband with a placket closure with a button. This is not very cool when the difference between your empty and full stomach measurement is huge. 🙂

TheSecretCostumier -The quick godet skirt

TheSecretCostumier -The quick godet skirt

I have worn it once so far (not with sandals, this is England, after all 😉 ), it’s great for twirling (important, right?) and it goes well with my colourful jumpers, but I am just not that excited about it really. Having said that, the feeling of making your stash mountain a little smaller, by turning a piece of fabric that was declared wastage into something wearable (even if you end up with a garment that will not be in too much rotation), is just priceless.

TheSecretCostumier -The quick godet skirt

Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

60s dress…well, it used to be!

Happy Independence Day for those who celebrate it! For this month’s Thrift Store Thursdays I would like to show you what I’ve done to this poor dress I found in one of those fill-your-bag-for-a-pound charity shop events.


The dress originally was a typical 60’s shift dress, which (as you can see below) does not work well for my shape, so I decided to turn it into one of those sets consisting of a crop top and a high waist skirt. Since I didn’t have a lot of material to work with (and because I find elastic bands really comfy), I decided to use that as the waistline for the new skirt. I am now thinking about changing it to a wider band, because the crop top turned out to be slightly too short and it does leave a lot of skin on show. I have simply changed how the skirt buttons up and switched the flashy gold buttons to flat black ones.

As for the top, I turned it around, put in darts (which btw look a lot more pointy on the picture below than they do IRL) and reshaped the armholes. All this happened without using a pattern, which is probably why the new neckline is kind of choking…

To be honest I haven’t worn this together as a set yet (or the top on it’s own for that matter), but the skirt works well for work, especially worn with my favorite jumper (like I did for Me-Made-May earlier this year). I really love the material – I’m not sure if you can see it, but the blue dots are not printed on the fabric, but woven into it which gives it an interesting texture. Nice touch! 🙂


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:


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.


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.


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.


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…

Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2014: Week 5

    This is it. The last week of my first ever Me-Made-May. In many ways this was the hardest, yet most exciting week of all, and I managed to wear 7 outfits including a Me-Made item during the week (one of which is not photographed). The big discovery this week was the fact that I can take pictures by using a voice command on my phone. Oh my God guys! I’ve spent the most hilarious 30 minutes playing dressing up, as I had to repeatedly shout “cheese” or “shoot”. Obviously it does not work all the time, so I had to concentrate on pronouncing it right, trying to make my mouth look as if it was shut, sucking the belly in, keeping my back straight, trying not to cross my legs ALL THE TIME…oh, and smile! I failed miserably 99 times out of 100, often running for shelter when a neighbour walked by our window, but I only needed one photo of each outfit anyway… 🙂

    I’m not sure if my subconscious was influenced by seeing all the lovely Netties appearing everywhere, but I brought my RTW versions out of the wardrobe a few times too, as you can see I’m a lover of the bodysuit (wearing one on Day 26, Day 29, Day 31).

    My favourite attire this week was probably the one I was wearing on Day 27. I love wearing monochrome outfits, although it looked more cool and less lazy in my head. 🙂

    My least favourite was the one with the self drafted disaster that resembles a pair of silk jogging trousers. It’s everything I wanted: high-waisted, kind of snug around my bum and loose on my calves, with rolled up hems and all, but it started off as something totally different and ended up being too tight to be the comfy pants you can just throw on and still look kind of chic. I’ll take some better photos of it one day, as I have not declared it unwearable as of yet, since you know… I’ve worked my ass off making them, plus I kind of invented a way to wear the same trousers with high and low waist. Yeey!

TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 25TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 26TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 27TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 29 TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 30bTheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 31ATheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day31BbbTheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - The End2

Me-Mades this week:

In a few days time I’m planning on wrapping this little baby called Me-Made-May up, drawing conclusions, identifying gaps, connecting ideas to the Wardrobe Architect project, you know, just the things one does after a month like this…


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. 😉

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:

From scratch

Pleather is the new leather

   Here is a skirt I made a few weeks ago. I bought a piece of faux leather, or pleather (just to be annoying), from a remnants box without a clear idea about what to do with it. All I knew was that I used to have a circle skirt of a similar material that I loved and wore so much, that all that love started to show in a not so lovely way. So making another one was a logical step. But if you’ve read anything on this blog so far, you must know that I rarely make simple stuff because:

  1. I could buy that in a shop;
  2. I would save myself from oh, so many challenges!

Which is why I went with this pattern from BurdaStyle. ( If I ever decide to make a jacket again, I’ll go with the pattern on the picture.)

2Image source: BurdaStyle

     I think the skirt looks stunning (in Burdastyle) and it actually wasn’t difficult to put together at all. Except for one thing: I only realised the front is made of two pieces after I was ready to start cutting the back, which meant that I ended up having enough fabric for the front pieces only. You must have guessed by now, no I did not find the  same fabric for the back, just a close enough match that is shinier and lighter than the rest, but it really isn’t that apparent…or so I say.


    The pleats on the front were a little tricky at first, but all in all it’s a very straight forward pattern. I’m not even bothered by having a simpler back than the front, and I really love the big pockets! I’ve added about 7 centimeters to the hem, which makes it more office friendly for my taste, but it drapes a little different from the original one, and guess what, the faux leather is sticky! I intended to wear it with a crop top a during the summer, but there is no way I’m letting that waistband stick to my stomach in the probably C°20+ weather! Oh and the faux leather on my bike seat and this skirt are like magnets, which makes for a ride full of swearing, so this skirt has some serious persuasion to do, before it becomes a daily wear…

From scratch

The A-line skirt is finally ready!

    Here comes the A-line skirt that I made a few weeks ago. I used the pattern for the shorter skirt that can be found in the May 2012 issue of Burda Magazine.  TheSecretCostumier - A-line skirt Burda photo1 TheSecretCostumier - A-line skirt Burda TheSecretCostumier - A-line skirt pattern

    We were lucky to have a sunny bank holiday weekend here in London, so I could play dress-up outside. The buttons are not quite on the right place, hence the little hole, but I just couldn’t be bothered to move them as of yet. The grey and denim tops are my sister’s, and the striped crop top is something I cut-off a few weeks ago when I couldn’t find anything to wear for a night out. Have a look!

TheSecretCostumier - A-line skirt with grey top TheSecretCostumier - A-line skirt with denim shirt TheSecretCostumier - A-line skirt with striped crop top    As you might remember, I had some issues with the look of the inside of the skirt, but since I restarted the whole thing, I managed to make it pretty enough. I used French seams, a faced hem and fabric covered snap-fasteners instead of the buttons suggested by Burda. I am rather pleased with the results, although the hemline is still far from perfect. Maybe next time…

From scratch

1 skirt = 3 easily avoidable mistakes

    I guess the big lesson of this project was to plan my steps ahead…and I don’t mean the outfit ideas. I bought this fabric a year ago, while  I was attending a sewing course in Budapest, for about £2. I was planning to make a skater dress from it (that’s the basic idea every time I randomly buy fabric 😉 )  but 2 weeks ago, inspired by the amazing (& waaaay too short) sewing competition/series on BBC, The Great British Sewing Bee, and by some of these images below, I started sewing this skirt from Burda.

TheSecretCostumier - A-line skirtsImage sources:1., 2., 3.

    It could have been finished in a couple of hours, as it is a relatively easy pattern, consisting of 8 skirt panels and 2 pockets, but I discovered some problems that could have led to having a very “handmade” looking, rather unprofessional garment. So here are my mistakes, they might seem elementary, but I wish someone told me these before.

1Mistake: Choosing a seam finish method AFTER the pieces are sewn together. The Burda patterns have no instructions on seam finishes, so I ended up having to choose between zig-zag stitching or Hong-Kong binding 16 (70 cm long) seam allowances, as folding and stitching the seam allowances worked out to be too thin and curled up.

Solution: French seams. Obviously for this, I had to unpick the whole thing, it took ages, but it was worth it. It looks very professional on the inside, and if you use 1.5 cm seam allowance when cutting the pattern out, you’ll have enough space to comfortably do this.


2Mistake: Making a hem with 4 centimetres of fabric by folding it once, leaves you with loads of excess fabric on the inside. Hemming isn’t supposed to be a big deal, but I’ve learned the difference between turning up a centimetre of your skirt and 4 times that much the hard way, when I ended up trying to tuck all that fabric under the straight line I was supposed to sew on the  the right side, and a mess on the inside.

Solution: Face the hem. I mean cut a facing to the same size as the bottom of the assembled skirt, and sew it on wrong sides together, just as you would on a neckline. If you use a zig-zag stitch to finish the seam on the facing, and measure it properly, you will end up with an even and neat hem inside out, and the top-stitching will be no problem either. (I was trying to be way too pedant, so used a single fold here, and ended up with not so perfect results, but I guess I can live with that.)



Mistake: Not enough thread to finish up a project. This is a no brainer, I know, but if you “impulse buy” a piece of fabric and some thread together, you might end up making something totally different out of it than what you had in mind at the time of purchase, and end up with less thread than needed. Honestly, finding out that my regular fabric shop doesn’t have any thread even close to this shade, half way through sewing, was anything but fun.

Solution: Uhm…Make sure you have enough thread before you start a project?! Of course you can cheat a little if you can’t find more matching thread by using any other colour on hand for seams that will be hidden (like the inner seams of the French seams), so that you can leave enough matching thread for the decorative or visible stitches.

The skirt is now ready, I’m just waiting for the sun to return, so that I can take it out and show you and the World the result, so watch this space!