Tag Archives: Me-Made March


Me and my mommy.

Those of you who’ve been paying attention have probably heard a thing or two about my mom. She’s the owner of the Grand Old Dame, a reformed serial crafter, and was courteous enough to answer my nosy questions in a sewing interview. She’s also sorta the reason I started this blog, if only because last year at this time I was calling her up about once a week to yammer (for an hour or two) about my revamped sewing hobby, and, I was pretty sure, boring her silly. Also the long distance bills were racking up, but that’s beside the point…

Anyway, sometime (back in the fall? I really don’t know) she “discovered” my blog, and I gather has been enjoying it since (not to mention pimping it to her friends… thank you mom πŸ˜‰ … thank you any of Mom’s friends who are reading… πŸ˜‰ ). And the sewing phone-calls have gradually picked back up, laced with a liberal dose of style/fit/age/lifestyle angst (I’ll blame most of that on seasonal depression, though). Most of the conversations went something like this:

Mom: I love what you made.

MMM day 8... I'll just sneak this in here.

Me: Me, too! Except this and this and this.

Mom: Well, it doesn’t show in the photos. I don’t know, I just can’t find anything I want to wear. I go to the mall and nothing fits, and if it does fit it looks like it was made for a teenager or an old lady.

Me: Well, mom, you do have that kick-ass sewing machine…

Mom: yes, but I don’t have any time/money/energy for another hobby! Everything takes too much work! I want to go live under a bridge in Edinburgh!

Me: Well, you probably do need to simplify your life a bit… But I think running away to Edinburgh is probably a bit extreme. Ireland might be better… at least you could probably get your citizenship there*.

Mom: And you got such a good fit on that other thing you made…

Well, you get the idea.

And so it went, aside from occasional worries about my mother’s sanity.

And then, yesterday, I get a call from her. She sounds chipper. Excited. Upbeat.

Mom: Guess what I did?

Me: What did you do, mom? (oh god she bought plane tickets to Edinburgh…)

Mom: I downloaded and printed out the Burdastyle Franzi vest and Ellen pants, and I bought some wool blend fabric to make them up, and I ordered five patterns from Jalie, including the jeans!

Me: (swallow… gulp… sit down… let the shock wear off…) Wow, that’s awesome! You’re really going for it?

Mom: Yup, I am. Now tell me how to do a full bust adjustment!

Yup, apparently I have lured my mother back into the wild world of sewing (and the somewhat-new-to-her world of advanced fitting… hopefully she survives!). She’s still claiming she won’t become a sewing blogger, but with any luck she’ll let me showcase a project or two—and with a little more luck, the wonderfully helpful online sewing world, and maybe a helpful book or two, will help to get her past her old fitting issues. (I get my long legs, short torso, and rectangular shape from her, except that on her it’s even more exaggerated, plus she kept all the boobage in the family for herself. On the bright side, she doesn’t have my swayback).


In other enabling news, my Fabricland seems to be doing their spring cleaning, and there was a cornucopia of lovely (or at least, tolerable) knits in the clearance section, for no more than $3/m. Including this ivory sweatshirt knit on the left (typically $25/m or up!!! it’s stained, but I’m pretty sure whatever I can’t get out I can work around.) The three pieces on the right are also knit in the round, which is the best way to get knits in my opinion. And look at all those colours! Bright, soft, springlike… I know, you’re saying, am I reading the right blog? There’s even patterned pieces. Well, stripes. Stripes are almost a pattern. And either the solid blue or the solid coral would be perfect for knocking off Steph’s Anthropologie knockoff (apparently I have no creativity of my own at all these days…)

There’s plenty more enabling going on out there in internetland, but I think this enough for once post, don’t you? Oh, and if anyone has any advice for my mom on getting back into sewing, fitting, or the wonderful world of online sewing resources, do share! πŸ™‚

*my mother, like approximate half of Canada, had an Irish grandfather, which is apparently good enough.



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I meant to do that…



I’ve been saving the rest of the fabric from this top, trying to find just the right project. I love this fabric so much. Eventually, I decided that it needed to be a drapy pattern—a cowl neck, maybe.

Last night, I decided that a reprise of this super-quick cowl neck top by Ichigogirl on Burdastyle would be perfect.

But. It’s still about -20C around here. I wanted to add sleeves.

I pulled out the pattern-pieces for Ichigogirl’s cowl-neck, and my “trusty” (aka much altered) Lydia pattern to compare. Armscyes were about the same size, as far as I could tell, but a radically different shape. I thought it seemed simpler to try to draft a cowl neck onto the Lydia than to try to fit sleeves to the odd-shaped armscyes of the sleeveless cowl pattern.

Of course, it was 8:00 at night and I was far too impatient to read up on cowl

Inner folded facing of cowl neck sewn over rear of shoulders, to enclose the shoulder seam.

drafting… I had the pattern pieces right in front of me. It’s not like I’m a stranger to frankenpatterning.

Ehm. I had actually wanted a little bit shallower of a cowl than on the original pattern, which is a bit, ah, risque if you bend over.

But, not quite this shallow. Urgh.

Rear view. Meh.

I was very proud of myself for figuring out a neat way to attach the inner fold of the cowl-neck to the shoulder so it neatly encloses the shoulder seam. I’m not sure if the picture will make any sense at all, but you’re looking at the back of the shirt, inside-out. I folded the facing portion of the shoulder-seam around to the back, enclosing the entire shoulder-seam between shirt front and facing. This makes for a lovely finish on the inside.

I then proceeded to do an impatient bodge-job of setting in the shoulders (I think I

still need to remove a bit of ease from the Lydia sleeve-cap, and add a shoulder-point notch). Didn’t do such a good job on the back-neck binding, either.

Bleh. Can I just pretend I meant for it to be this way?

In Me-Made March news:

Here’s today’s outfit, which is my first one this week not to feature some (or entirely) items I didn’t have last September. It feels a little boring because of that, but on the other hand these are some of my absolute FAVE pieces so far, so… yeah!

Classic pose

Funky dancing pose

Frankenpatterned top
More self-stitched jeans

Also my new, awesome, but hyper-uncomfortable boots. They will be great once they’re broken in.

I was wondering how long it would take me to break out the goofy poses this time around…


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Me-Made March 2011

Ceylon Blouse
Lydia top (mostly a wadder but it works for layering
Skinny jeans

1 Comment

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When home-made meets odd

Me-Made March 3

Not much to report here today, but to save me from just throwing up my MMM pics, I have a little bit of rumination. About self-stitched clothing, their wearing, and pushing the bounds of fashion.

All of which is to say, my outfit today felt a little… odd. Not quite outlandish (though maybe close). But just a little… too… different. Now, either element, the 70s Dress and the Kimono Lady Grey, I’ve worn on their own without issue. But the dress is a bit over-the-top for the work day, not too mention too low cut for this weather, so I felt like a sweater over top would be the perfect thing to dress it down. The best look overall would be the 50s shrug, as I’ve shown before, but a) this is still pretty fancy, and b) it still leaves a pretty large chunk of cleavage getting COLD. The cardi-wrap would probably work stylistically as well, but despite stubbornly photographing as black the 70s dress is actually a distinct, if muted, purple in real life. Which I don’t think goes very well with the red wrap. Especially when I’m trying to look less odd.

Which left the Kimono-styled sweater. And, on a certain arbitrary level, I

MMM, day 3, rear view

actually really like the look—elegant, full, lots of fabric swishing around… but it’s a bit, hmm, not exactly over the top, but maybe off to the side. Beyond the bounds of “everyday” fashion. I feel like there’s an equation going on here, where rather balancing the oddity of either sweater or dress with ordinary jeans or a cardigan, I added two slightly odd pieces together and got something just a little too far past normal.

Ah, well. It’s not like anyone commented, other than my one prof who knows I sew (and hence always asks if I made my more unusual pieces). And she asked while knitting while we waited for the CT scanner to warm up… yes, Academia is a very strange place some days…

So why did I pick this outfit? It’s not like I don’t have plenty of self-stitched jeans that go just fine with the sweater. But I really wanted to wear the dress, I guess. Part of the point of the me-made months is to try wearing the things that feel just a little bit odd. Just to see, I guess, how odd odd really is. I don’t have as much trouble with this as a lot of self-stitched sewists, I think because so much of what I’ve made has been very tightly contemporary (as opposed to flights-of-fancy dresses and vintage concoctions). But I really do want to do some wearing of my flights of fancy, as well as my regular threads. So this was a stab at that.

Ah, well. If nothing else I’ve demonstrated that slightly odd isn’t equivalent to people-on-the-street-pointing-and-laughing…


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Awww, shucks.

It looks like it’s meme time again ;). Claire, of Sew, Incidentally, has awarded me a “Stylish Blogger” award.

Those of you who’ve been following religiously, or were thorough in your archive search/internet stalking, will recall my previous award, which features ten whole things about me. The “Stylish Blogger” award is a bit more lenient—it demands only seven things, and then wants you to name seven further recipients.

And so, without further ado, here’s 7 (more) things you might not have known about me.

  1. I am what we term around here common-law married. This means, approximately, shacked up. For going on twelve years. Sometimes I feel a bit wistful about not having a big party or a fancy dress; other times I feel a bit of snarky glee at our “nonconformity”. Of course the commitment is there, and that’s what matters.
  2. The best part of my job is drawing up scientific illustrations. I could do

    Drawing of the skull of an early reptile, from the Carboniferous period. Click through to see the full-sized image because the reduced version looks like ass.

    that all day.

  3. I spend way too much time listening to podcasts. They get me through the two hours daily I spend on the train, household torments like washing dishes, and keep my mind occupied while drawing (see #2). My current favourite is Irreligiosophy, but Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap is great also. Oddly, I do not listen to any sewing podcasts as yet. Recommendations?
  4. My hubby (see #1) spent all last fall convincing me that we couldn’t afford an iPad, then bought me one for Christmas. He is sneaky! … and I am an addict.
  5. Philosophy mostly bores me, but philosophy of science makes me want to throw things. Somehow I still end up reading a lot of it, though…
  6. I’ve been home from work for over two hours now and I’m still shivering (AFTER cocoa!). Can it be spring yet?

    Cute Sew Serendipity coat, image blatantly stolen from Patty the Snug Bug.

  7. I really want a pattern for an empire-waisted coat. I love this one from the Sew Serendipity book.

The worst part about these awards, in my opinion, is passing them on. I get all bent out of shape worrying whether I’ll double-tap someone, or miss someone else, and should I leave them a note to let them know I’ve nominated them…

So y’know what, I’m just going to name some names and pass it on. If you stop by and see your name—you win! If not, well, as you were. πŸ™‚ And if I missed you… it’s not because I don’t love you!

Sigrid of Analog Me

Amber of The Evening Tree

Sparkle & Doom


Big in Japan

Montana Chic

Patty, the Snug Bug

Oh, and here’s my Me-Made March, Day 2. The pictures are decicedly less glamorous after work when the hair has been in and out of hats all day.

Me-Made March 2



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To Do, To Don’t, and What do I know?

The latest jeans

So after my great Skinny Cargoes affair, Claire of Sew Incidentally asked if I would consider putting together a do’s and don’ts post for jeans. Since I’m such a master at them, and all that.


So, aside from the fact that she must be confusing me with some other blogger, I thought I’d give it a shot. Especially as I decided to crank out one last pair of denim to get me through Me-Made March.

Now, it didn’t take me long after deciding to “take my sewing to the next level” last spring, to decide that I wanted to tackle jeans. Yeah, I’d successfully managed to make my first blouse, what horrors could denim possibly hold?

This was spurred on by a number of factors. The biggest one was probably stumbling on the Jeans sewalong thread and summary thread on Pattern Review. I read literally every post of that 85-page thread. The idea of making my own jeans really appealed to me. First of all, I live in my jeans. Second of all, I’m picky about my jeans and how they fit. Third of all, I have pretty darn long legs. All of those factors combined means that I have spent a LOT of money over the years on jeans. Buffalo. Guess. Rarely under $100 for a pair. You get the idea. And always with that terror—will the fit I like go out of style? Will they be long enough? Even if they seem to fit when I try them on, will I wear them for a day and realize that they’re too short and too loose? Will I tear through the “artfully worn” knee within the first half-hour of putting them on (that pair was Guess, I returned them)? Speaking of which, when is that pre-tattered look going to go out of style? It was in style when I was in high-school (mid nineties). It was in style five years ago when the hubby and I went to NYC (and shopped at Gap. I know, we should be shot.) And it was EVERYWHERE last time I was tying to buy commercial jeans, which was one year ago. I haven’t really looked since, maybe it’s gone away?

Despite the wonky stitching on the pockets (I suck at free-motion embroidery), these are probably still my favourite self-made jeans.

Now, I have a very clear list of things I’m looking for in my jeans. As far as I’m concerned, stretch-denim is the greatest invention of the 20th century (ok, after the birth-control pill). I like them low-rise, with a very fitted leg. I’m flexible on the degree of flare, although for preference I’ll go with what I tend to call a “stovepipe” leg, which is fitted in the thigh but absolutely straight below the knee; I’ve only ever once found this style in RTW.

If your list is different (as it doubtless is—few people are as fond of I am of the low rise, for perfectly good reason), some of my methods won’t apply, especially if you’re not looking for snug-fitted stretch-denim. (What, not everyone wants their jeans to look like they were sprayed on?!?) But I do hope you’ll be able to glean some nuggets from the dross, or at least be encouraged to tackle your own.

Incidentally, based on the PR thread, I used the Jalie 2908 pattern, with an assortment of modifications to make it suit my taste that are mostly detailed here. I like this pattern, but then I’ve only ever sewn two pants patterns, the Jalie one and the Burdastyle Ellen pant. Both were pretty painless, doubtless due to my minimal curvatures in this area. So I wouldn’t consider my endorsement to be the be-all-end-all in this area.

Anyway, without further ado,


  1. pay attention to the % stretch, not the % lycra; expect to resize slightly depending on the individual stretch of your fabric.
  2. buy enough fabric for two pairs of jeans—the first one can be a hopefully-wearable muslin, and you’ll know what to expect from the remaining fabric stretch-wise.
  3. wash and dry your fabric on hot at least once; then let it sit or hang (“relax”) for at least a day or two, as the heat can bunch up the lycra fibres, creating fabric that will stretch too much after wearing.
  4. My foot for topstitching. Not necessarily the best, just the best from my limited selection.

  5. do figure out which sewing-machine foot works best for topstitching. A lot of people prefer a straight-stitch foot as the sides are narrower and you can see right up to the needle. I don’t have one, but I find my rolled hem foot (of all things) works the best. An edgestitch or possibly even blind-hem foot are also good options.
  6. play around with your topstitching options. There’s jeans

    I wrap my topstitching thread around the bobbin-winding doohicky to increase the tension (AKA cheat)

    thread, topstitching thread (really heavy), upholstry thread, or even regular thread in a stretch straight stitch (triple stitch) if your machine does it. You will probably need to raise your top tension if you’re topstitching with a heavy thread, and may even need to cheat.
  7. be prepared to baby your machine over the thick parts (at least if you, like me, have a wussy modern machine. Sometimes I need to just turn the hand-wheel for several stitches. Or hammer the crap out of the seams (preferably with a rubber mallet. I use a regular hammer or even my rock hammer and if I’m not careful the edges will cut the fabric)
  8. construct the front first, then the back. Have another pair of jeans around for reference. Attach the pockets after sewing the two sides of the back together, and centre them relative to the topstitching, rather than the true CB.
  9. If you’re doing anything other than the simplest of pocket-embroidery, you will want to stabilize the pockets, either with wash-away or tear-away stabilizer or even interfacing. I recommend the removable stabilizer, though; permanent interfacing interferes with the pocket’s ability to stretch and causes butt-flattening. (Ask me how I know πŸ˜‰ ). Use a cardboard template to press your pockets’ seam-allowance under. Speaking of pockets, I use a size-K pocket on my size-Q pants. My derriere is compact, and I don’t like the bottom of the pockets to go below my actual bottom. YMMV.
  10. Look up your favourite fly-insertion method EVERY SINGLE TIME. My

    What passes for a successful fly around here.

    favourite is Debbie Cook’s; a lot of other people recommend Sandra Betzina’s video. (I have a hard time following video instructions, for some reason.) Also take a long, hard look at some RTW flies while you’re doing it. It will help. Oh, and interface the fly, too. (The fly isn’t actually hard. It’s just really easy to do the wrong way around, which is mildly annoying. The topstitching is a bit tricky, too, but you can manage.)

  11. once you have your jeans stitched up the side, before applying the waistband, do put them on and wear them around the house a bit (preferably for a few hours). This will give you an impression of how much the denim will relax with wear. You may also want to do a trial wash (serge the top edge first) at this stage, as washing and drying are another wild-card for stretch fit.


  1. be afraid. You can totally do this. Denim is heavy, but lovely to sew.
  2. use a pattern or fabric you don’t like. Remember that *perfect* pair of jeans you’ve been mourning since the day went to that great warehouse in the sky? Those are the ones you’re trying to re-create. You won’t, of course, but with any luck you’ll make it into the right ballpark.
  3. cut your waistband on the bias. I use a contour waistband on mine, stabilized with a light-weight interfacing. If I had to go with a straight waistband, I’d cut it on the lengthwise grain, to reduce stretch. My RTW jeans often have about 50% stretch in the fabric, but only about 10% stretch in the waistband (how do they do it?)
  4. sew over the bottom of the zipper when you’re topstitching your fly. Instant recipe for broken needles flying into eyes.
  5. add or remove length at the hem. Unless your jeans are drafted perfectly straight, there’s shaping between hip and knee, and knee and ankle; you need to measure your length to the knee and add (or remove) both above and below to keep the proportions right.
  6. add a wedge to the side back rather than the centre back because you weren’t paying attention. (yes, I did this once.)
  7. if you’re making skinnies, don’t narrow the leg so much you can’t get your foot through (unless you’re adding zippers!)
  8. freak out about wrinkles below your butt. These are not trousers that are supposed to fall straight down from the widest point. There will be wrinkles.
  9. try to finesse the slightly-too-tight waistband fit by putting your button too far over. You’ll just end up with a gapy fly.
  10. feel self-conscious about your wonky-topstitching, or those almost-invisible darts in the yoke. No one is looking. Seriously, they aren’t.

I extend my pocket-linings all the way to the front fly. This interfaces the fly while stabilizing (i.e. slimming) the front, and is super-easy to draft.

I have to admit I feel a bit bad about these lists. They’re tailored so specifically to my “jeans ideal”, which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t have much to say about fitting—other than curving the back yoke and taking in the outseams a little bit, and of course the inevitable length adjustment, I haven’t done any (stretch-denim is fairly forgiving). Certainly no messing around with crotch-curves as the intrepid Patty does on a regular basis these days. While I’ve made a crapload of adjustments to the pattern, the majority have been for style or personal preference (pocket linings that reach all the way to the fly to interface it, contour waistband, smaller pockets, etc.)

Coming up with the top 10 was hard (as you can see since so many of them are actually two or three suggestions!). There’s lots of other little points that I could’ve thrown in there. Β I didn’t even mention the buttonhole, which has been my waterloo. Mostly, I resort to doing them by hand—not too bad since there’s only one—but on this most recent pair I eased up on the waistband interfacing and was able to work it by machine. My machine can’t do a nice keyhole shape, sadly, but no one else is going to notice anyway.

New skinnies---rear

And I still haven’t really showed you photos of the new pair! So I’ll be quick: this is my first “truly skinny” pair of jeans (the other ones all have stovepipe legs). I made them to replace this pair of RTW jeans that are beginning to bite the dust, and are verboten this month anyway. As you can see (You might have to click through to the full-size photo), I included the same cute little top-stitched dart on the lower leg as in Syo’s pair.

As I doodled out my pocket detail, I

A subtly naughty pocket

realized I’d created an homage to Mary-Nanna’s white knicker jeans (and Steph’s tribute… and of course this alleged Japanese fashion trend which I’m happy to learn is indeed a hoax. I thought it was a bit fishy when I first saw the pictures a few years back, but you never can tell with the Japanese. πŸ˜‰Β ) Mine is a bit subtle, but those of you in the know… well, now you know! ;). If I ever find some white stretch denim, I promise I’ll do full out undies-pockets. The nice thing about making my own skinnies is I can keep the calf-width where I like it and just narrow below; so many skinnies are made for those toothpick-legged adolescents with no calves.

New skinnies, front view

Beyond that there’s not too much to say about them. I used much the same procedure to narrow the bottoms as I did with the skinny cargoes (except I only had two seams to work with, not four). I kept the full length this time, to get that “legwarmer” bunchy look around the ankle that I crave so badly (yes, I like my pants and my sleeves to look extra long. It’s such a rarity for me). Since there’s no zippers in this pair, I had better hope they don’t shrink at all in the wash or I may not get my feet through them next time ;).

So, this is officially my first pair of truly skinny (self-made) jeans… and I hear that apparently the bootleg cut is coming back. If it ever actually left. /sigh. I’m so non-trendy. Oh, wait. That’s a good thing.

I still think I like the stovepipe leg the best, though…

Oh, and this would be my first outfit for Me-Made March. Not terribly innovative, I know, but it’s far too cold out right now for the frillies and the pretties. Hopefully that will change over the course of the month…


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I, Tanit-Isis, of Tanit-Isis Sews,


Self-Stitched September

… do solemnly swear I am up to no good…

oh, wait, wrong narrative.

As if you didn’t know, Zoe is starting it again.

I, Tanit-Isis, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-March 2011. I endeavour to wear exclusively self made items (excepting underwear, socks, hat/gloves/scarves, and possibly sweaters) each day for the duration of March, 2011.

I’ve been doing the one-me-made-item-per-day thing pretty much successfully since August, but Self-Stitched September, while successful, was a bit boring and repetitive. I can’t promise completely that this will change this time ’round, especially since most of my recent creations have been pretty, ah, whimsical, and I spent a lot of the fall making coats, which takes a lot of time for comparatively few garments, but I’ll give it a try and it’ll give me a bit more of a prod to wear the circle skirts and 70s dresses out and about, and with luck the weather will even be cooperative for this by then. If I’m smart I’ll whip up another sweater or two before then (maybe even that smaller shrug I was talking about), since I still only have the one wrap, and I accidentally snipped a little hole in it while I was making my last pair of jeans (cry!). But this time around I should have my jacket situation all stitched up, at least.

March will also mark my first blogiversary, believe it or not. I’m kinda amazed by how many of my favourite blogs out there are similarly new (and often wildly more successful, though I’m pretty happy with my little corner here and should thank you all more often for your visits and your delightful comments. Comments are my crack.)… I wonder if it’s a sign of the explosive growth of sewing blogdom, or an indication of the short lifespan of blogs. I’m hoping the former ;). Β It seems fitting to pass the month of my blogiversary stretching my “wear my sewing” muscles again :).

… And we just spent five hours in the Urgent Care unit failing to find out if Tyo has appendicitis. Bleargh. They want to see her again in the morning, assuming she doesn’t get sicker overnight, in which case we have strict instructions to hightail it to the Children’s Hospital. So, er, yeah, no sewing happened today…


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