The Me-Made-May Review post

MMM is supposed to be a challenge, and it was, in several ways:

Challenge #1 – A lot of my me-mades are samey. This is a result of my laziness- I use the same pattern over and over. If you asked non-sewers they probably wouldn’t have noticed, but when you’re trying to make different-looking outfits from a very small range of items, over 31 days, you realise how limited your wardrobe is!

Challenge #2 – I’d forgotten all about my dance teaching when I made the rules, and had to scrabble around to find something me-made that I could sensibly wear to class, and actually it all turned out fine, and gave some of my students ideas on what they could possibly try making for themselves, which is a MMM bonus!

Challenge #3 – The selfies. I’ve already posted on how that just didn’t work for me this year, and I’m kind of sad, because part of the fun of MMM is that sharing element. I tried to keep up with the flickr group and instagram, to see how other people were doing, but I felt much less connected because I wasn’t posting pictures myself. And I know there were good reasons why I didn’t have the energy to do it, and I’m not beating myself up about it, but I am noticing that it made a difference this time round. It’s also meant that I haven’t recorded every outfit, as I’d hoped to do.

Having said all that, MMM was also a source of great pleasure:

Pleasure #1 – I’m beyond thrilled that I managed to make it through the whole month wearing nothing but me-made outfits. My official pledge was “I will endeavour to wear Mostly Me Made each day for the duration of May 2015.” My personal rules for that were, apart from undies, tights and shoes, everything I wore had to have been made or refashioned in some way by me. That meant no coats, but that was fine, because I managed to not need one. And I did it! Go me!

Pleasure #2 – I found that a lot of my me-mades work together well. They’re well integrated together. This means I wear them fairly easily. That’s gratifying, and a definite improvement on last year’s MMM. I found I definitely used that experience to prioritise certain makes, and that did help to fill gaps in my wardrobe for this year. I’ll be reviewing my wardrobe again and seeing where I need to direct my attention in future. But to be honest, I sew for fun, so if I don’t feel like making a thing, well I’m not going to force myself.

Pleasure #3 – I told more non-sewing people about it, and it was fun to explain to them what MMM is all about and to see it suddenly dawning on them that everything I’d worn for the last few weeks were all made or refashioned by me.

I’m not sure how I’ll do it next time. I do think it’s important for me to do the photo-documentation, and that will probably be the thrust of my pledge next year. But I’ll have to work out a way to make it manageable. I’m sure this is feasible, I just need to think about it a bit more. And that’s ok, because I’ve got the best part of 11 months to ponder it.

Hitting the wall

I’m doing absolutely fine with the wearing of my Me Mades. But I’ll be honest, I’m struggling with the selfies. Moreso than last year. If I can’t do the photo at work, or get the Gentleman Friend to take it (we don’t live together so he’s not readily on hand) it’s been hard to get it done.

This year is different from last year. I’m working an extra job, for a kick off. In my main job, MMM comes right at the crescendo of our course planning timetable, This year’s curriculum planning work has been a lot harder – I’ve had more courses to plan, and even though we’re well past the soft deadline, I’m still having to do a lot of fixing and firefighting, not to mention having to add even more new courses, by request from on high, in time for the hard deadline. And on top of that we *still* haven’t had our visit from Ofsted, so we’re all living in the shadow of the dreaded Inspection. A Bank Holiday Weekend in Cornwall does not constitute a proper holiday, but that’s the closest I’ve had to a break this year. I’m stressed and I’m tired.

Poor me!

I know what I need to do to look after myself, but it’s not always easy to do those things.

So if that means I have to wimp out of daily selfies every so often, then I’m just going to be kind and forgive myself for that.

A Massive MMMay15 Catch-Up

I know this makes me sound like an old person, but… How? How has it got as far as 18th May? It was Christmas only a minute ago!

I’ve been doing fine with Me Made May. But I can see that I am going to be getting very bored with some of my options by the end of it, unless I make some immediate use of my lovely new sewing machine (I’m still waiting for her to let me know what her name is).

When I last posted about MMM, we’d got as far as Day 5. So there’s quite a lot of catching up to be done.

Day 6 - the slouchy cardigan gets an outing.

Day 6 – the slouchy cardigan gets an outing.

Day 6 saw the first public wearing of the Slouchy Teal Cardigan. It’s *really* roasty-toasty! Underneath I was wearing my Imperfect Polka Dots Belcarra blouse and the Counterintuitive Black Bird skirt. It was quite late when I remembered to take the picture, so it’s a bit dark!

Day 7, and it's a lemon!

Day 7, and it’s a lemon!

I was wearing my Jif Lemon Dress, which I do believe is my very favourite me-made garment. It’s always fun to wear.

Day 8 - Selfie Fail

Day 8 – Selfie Fail

Day 8 was a Total Selfie Fail. You will have to make do with the clothes piled together a day or two later. But this is what I actually wore: the unblogged refashioned top which I’d previously worn on Day 1, and the Denim skirt. I love that although it’s black, it’s got a slightly pink sheen to it. This photo really brings the pink out.

Day 9 - At the Old Ship Inn

Day 9 – At the Old Ship Inn

Day 9 saw the making of the Ring (I don’t want to sound all Gollum-y but it is starting to become My Precioussss!). After a hard day at the Jewellery workshop, I met up with the Gentleman Friend and we had stone baked pizzas at the Old Ship Inn. I was wearing my Imperfect Polka Dots top, from Day 6, and the Pretty Summer Splodges skirt. For the sake of Internet Honesty, I did wear a pinny to the jewellery workshop which I didn’t make myself, but my aunt made it, so I think that’s only a technical breach of my MMM pledge. It still falls within the spirit of MMM.

Day 10 - This dress is actually much brighter than this photo looks!

Day 10 – This dress is actually much brighter than this photo looks!

On Day 10, which was a Sunday, I was visiting my sister, who’s in the throes of moving house. I wore The Dress of Many Colours, which is a dream to wear. It’s so soft and comfortable, and it cheers everyone up who sees it!

Day 11 - the Blue Roses Dress

Day 11 – the Blue Roses Dress

Day 11 saw me in the Blue Roses Dress, not much to say about it. I feel very fondly for this dress, because I wore it for the interview for my current main job, and got the offer that very afternoon. So it’s a lucky dress.

Day 12

Day 12 – the refashioned cardigan


Day 12 you’ve already seen, because I was wearing the long cardigan refashion. This refashion meets one of Gillian’s #SewingDares. Gillian of Crafting A Rainbow is issuing Sewing Dares, to those who, um, dare…  I did and I got two challenges, and the first one was to sew a cardigan. In my book, refashioning totally counts as sewing, so that’s that one Nailed. My second dare is to dig through the stash and find a piece of fabric I  was  *really* excited about when I bought it, and just cut it up and sew it into something! Now that I’ve got this beautiful new machine, I will be doing just that.

Oh and I’m also wearing the Watermelon Belcarra Blouse and the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! Skirt.

Day 13 was a photofail. I was feeling really ill, and left work early to fall into bed. I can tell you that I was wearing the What Could Possibly Go Wrong?! Belcarra blouse, and the denim skirt from Day 8.

Day 14 - honestly this bright green top was the best thing about Thursday.

Day 14 – honestly this bright green top was the best thing about Thursday.

I was feeling better on the Thursday, thankfully. I was wearing the Cadfael & Cats Belcarra Blouse, and the Counterintuitive Black Bird skirt, along with the Slightly Zebrafied Cardigan. My outfit was the nicest thing about Thursday which was an otherwise dreadful day!

Day 15

Day 15 – it may not have been summery for everyone else, but it was for me


Day 15 was a repeat of the Dress of Many Colours. I spent the *whole* day being told I looked very summery or very bright, or very colourful. I don’t mind at all, I love these colours.

And I think I’ll leave it there for now, because this post is starting to turn into War & Peace. I’ll try to keep up better!


New sewing machine!

For the last five years, I’ve been sewing with a really cheap-as-chips-and-you-get-what-you-paid-for machine from Argos. Only three stitch lengths, only three zigzag variations. Generally not the best equipment for any given job, butfunctional and crucially for the time I acquired it, cheap.

Then on Thursday evening I was stuck in Woking, and spotted that the Singer sewing shop was closing down and had massive 50% discounts on sewing machines. I was sad that they were closing, because business was becoming impossible for them (internet competition), and felt bad that I’ve never shopped there, mainly because I don’t shop in Woking, because one ought to support local businesses. We’ve just lost one of the fabric/craft shops in Guildford, so I should try and use the ones we’ve still got, more.

Anyway, I resolved to go back at the weekend and buy a new sewing machine, which I duly did yesterday, and I am now the proud owner of a Singer Confidence (7463). I’m so excited to have a play with it!



I debated with myself whether to keep the crummy Argos machine as a back-up, but as my flat is tiny, I can’t justify the storage space, so it’s going to freecycle.

I am going to be sewing like a demon now!

Hand-sewn Magna Carta Tribute

I was very much taken by this news item on the BBC website:
To celebrate its 800th anniversary, the artist Cornelia Parker has arranged for the wikipedia page for Magna Carta to be immortalised in embroidery.

This project is amazing! I love how the artist got people to sew the words that were important to them. I love that prisoners helped to sew the text, rather than sewing mailbags! I love that it’s got the occasional tea-stain on it. It makes me think of the Bayeux Tapestry.

I must try to get up to see it at the British Library.

And I hope the BBC don’t mind that I’ve filched one of their photos.

Magna Carta

A new cardigan joins the MMMay wardrobe

I finally finished the dress-to-cardigan refashion that I started on my hols. I had a sweater knit dress that had been languishing, unworn, for possibly years. It was knitted in a rib pattern and therefore had a massive tendency to sag around the bottom in a highly unflattering way. It was also a bit more roomy around the neckline than really worked for me. I’d been hanging on to it for ages, thinking I could turn it into a skirt. But then, I realised I was going to need a lot more cardigans for Me Made May, and this dress would present the ideal opportunity to create one.

Shapeless sweater knit dress

Shapeless sweater knit dress

I slashed it up the front. I eyeballed it, but then remembered I should really do the thing properly, so I measured, before cutting, and found that actually I’d eyeballed it pretty accurately. Then I turned the cut edges under, and hand-stitched some bias binding to the edges to make sure there was no risk of the knit unravelling. And then I sewed on a big button and made a loop for it, with buttonhole stitch.

Button and Loop

Button and Loop

And wore it today, because this morning looked quite grey and miserable, although the weather had perked right up by lunchtime, so I was a bit warmly dressed.

Me Made May - Day 12 - Modelling the new long cardigan.

Me Made May – Day 12 – Modelling the new long cardigan.

Apologies for the blurriness of the pic, but this one was nicer!

P.S. This totally counts as stashbusting. I’ve been hoarding this dress for months, years, waiting to do something with it. So doing something with it has removed it from the stash and into the wearable makes pile. Hooray!

I made a ring!

My main job is working for Surrey Adult Learning, and I love it! One of the great things about SAL is how many brilliant creative courses they run, including loads in the Arts and Crafts curriculum. In fact, they do a LOT of garment making courses, which I really should investigate more fully for next term – a lot of the courses run in the daytime or on nights that I teach, so I can’t get to them, but maybe next term there’ll be something I could enrol on, particularly as I can claim a staff discount. They also put on a lot of Saturday one-day courses, and yesterday I went on the Make a Silver Ring workshop.

It was brilliant- I had such fun, playing with bits of metal. I hammered and I annealed, I pickled and I filed, I even soldered.

We started by playing with copper first, to get an idea of what designs we might like. I decided I wanted to beat metal with big hammers! I tried two versions, one with the ball end of a light ball-pein hammer, and one with the straight pein end if a heavier hammer.

My first efforts on copper. We were encouraged to keep notes of what we did and how we did it, in order to reproduce the effect more accurately later.

My first efforts on copper. We were encouraged to keep notes of what we did and how we did it, in order to reproduce the effect more accurately later.

Then it was time to choose. A couple of the girls on the course went with the dimpled effect, but I liked the lines. We were working with square silver wire, so we didn’t have to cut the silver into shape. It was rather daunting to hammer into the good stuff for that first time, but it came out as I’d hoped.


So far so good…

The tutor then had to help to straighten up the edges, because hammering into bits of metal has a tendency to distort them! I then had to file the ends so that they could be soldered together with no gaps. That was a bit tricky.

Then we had to shape the straight wire round into a circle so that it could be joined. This involved using a wooden mallet, so that we didn’t ruin the work we’d done to the surface of the metal. I must say, all this banging would be brilliant therapy if you were in a grumpy mood! It didn’t have to be a perfect circle at this stage, but we did have to be careful that the two ends would actually join up. Once all the shaping was done, and we’d checked that the two ends did actually meet up together smoothly, it was time for soldering. I’ve never held a blow torch before, and I thought I would be petrified by that part, but the tutor talked it through for us, and demonstrated, and explained really well, so I felt quite confident with it. It was surprising how little solder was needed, a tiny microdot of the stuff! The solder works by capillary action, and once the right temperature was reached, the little chip of solder just shot up into the join, it was really sudden. Once we’d soldered the ring join we had to pickle it, in some rather dangerous acid to complete the process.

Then we had to reshape the rings into something a bit more circular, as they were all rather wonky shapes. This involved twirling them around on the triblett (a long conical piece of metal, a bit like a ring measurer), and hitting them with the wooden mallet, while they turned. I soon worked out that I needed to keep control of the ring or it would spin off the end of the triblett, and found a way that worked for me.

We were starting to overrun on the set workshop time, so we didn’t have time to put the rings into the polishing drum. Instead, our tutor polished the outer surfaces for us on a big machine that looked a bit like a shoe-polishing machine you’d see at the cobbler’s. They shone up a treat!

I am THRILLED with my ring, and I’ve been wearing it ever since!

My ring!

My ring!

And to give you a quick run through the end results, one girl used the rolling mill to create a beautiful skeleton leaf finish to her ring.

Leaf  design

One man got a more matt finish to his using a flailing tool, which was a bit scary! The photo is not doing it justice, but it was an elegant finish. He was going to add some scoring to it, at home (he’s done these workshops before and he’s quite interested in jewellery making).


There were punches available and one girl did a beautiful design with circle punches.


A couple of the other girls used the dimpled effect, that would have been my second choice.



This entry was posted on 10 May, 2015. 6 Comments