Right, let’s do this!

It’s that time again – two days before May begins, I’ve signed up for Me Made May 2016.



I, Béa of Béa’s Sewing Adventures, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I will endeavour to wear Me-Made outfits (not including shoes, tights and undies) each day for the duration of May 2016.

I have to confess, this is basically the same formal pledge as last year. The only thing that I’ve changed is that last year I allowed myself to wear non-me-made coats, but not so this year. If I need outerwear, it will be the Winter Princess Cloak. It’s not exactly waterproof, so let’s hope May isn’t too rainy.

My main personal goal for #MMMay16 is to make sure that I do actually photograph my outfits, and share them on the Flickr group and/or Instagram. And specifically, not wimp out. This is part of me getting back into the online sewing community and feeling like I’m sharing in the fun.

I’ve been a complete last-minute-Mary, so I haven’t really done much preparation for MMMay. I’m going to sort out my wardrobe, and try and hide anything that isn’t me-made. I tend to wear my makes reasonably often anyway, so it should be a case of putting them all together. But I’m aware that I’ve got gaps, especially in the jumpers and cardigans department, because knitting takes SOOO long. But I think I’m ok for tops and skirts and dresses. I could probably do with a couple more pairs of leggings and tops for teaching dance, but I may manage with skirts and dance dresses that I’ve made.

It will be a chance to catch up on a couple of makes that I haven’t blogged yet.

Wish me luck!

Renewing my Stashbusting Pledge for 2016


With a year of not making stuff behind me, my fabric stash has not diminished much (finding the positive, though, it’s not got any bigger either). The things I’ve completed just now have made a small dent, but I feel the need to make a renewed Stashbusting commitment.

Deep breath!

For 2016, I aim to:

  • Catalogue my fabric stash. For Internet accountability purposes. This is important because I don’t even know exactly what I’ve got. However, this is not going to going to happen just yet, because of going away. I’m going to aim for it being done by the end of the Easter weekend.
  • Use 10 pieces of stash fabric, use *up* 5 pieces. Some of my stash consists of substantial lengths of material which remain as bought/acquired, and some is material that’s left over from other projects. I would like to be finished with some of it! So I want to get to the point where there’s nothing left of the pieces but scraps.
  • Fix, mend or refashion 10 items. Some of my stash is clothing that is currently unwearable for one reason or another. It may need fixing to make it fit better, or mending, or it may be ripe for refashioning. I’ve also got a gazillion plain t-shirts that I want to tart up. Let’s get some of it done and dusted.
  • Not buy any new fabric until I have used up at least 5 stash items already. This includes not acquiring freebies either. Basically not adding any more to the stash, so that it does come down to more acceptable proportions.

I am sure this is manageable. It’s one piece of stash per month, and one fix-up, with a month in hand. However, this is not a pledge as such, because I don’t want to create a false sense of stress about it all. I sew for fun!

The Winter Princess Cloak

After what seems like a lifetime of Not Making Stuff, I got my sew-jo back this weekend. This is the first result, and it’s definitely the snuggliest item of clothing I’ve ever made. Ever!

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The return of the Office Selfie

I’ve already mentioned the inspiration for this is the cape/poncho thing that my niece Lucie has been wearing, which is fundamentally a square bit of blanket with a split up the front and a fur collar. I took a quick look at what shape the collar was, and figured “I could do that”.

The main fabric is a sweater knit from Fabricland (those of a sensitive disposition should be warned that this website is enough to give you a headache!) which I’m using the wrong way round I suspect. I just preferred the texture and colour of the reverse side. The correct side (the smooth side of the knitting) is a much stronger coral pink, and it doesn’t have so many of the white slubby bits. You’ll see in a minute.

I wanted a really luxurious white faux fur for the collar, and I found this one from Ebay seller Swincraft2, who I will definitely return to if I ever need more faux fur. They’ve got some beautiful ones which are very tempting. This is a really soft silky fur and allows me think of polar bears and rabbits in an entirely guilt-free way. I was convinced that I also had in my stash a white silky lining fabric, which I thought would be perfect for the back of the collar, but it was clearly a figment of my imagination, because I couldn’t find it at all, and I settled for lining the collar with a plain white cotton that I *did* have in my stash.

I made the collar pattern up myself, based on what I’d seen of Lucie’s. All together it’s a horseshoe shape, with the two ends tapering. I cut it out in paper first, to check that I’d got the angles right, which allowed me to tinker around with the top of it. It’s in two pieces for the fur, so that both sides have the same pile. It means that the lapels stroke downwards, but the back  strokes up. The lining though is just in one piece, for smoothness.

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You can see where I folded the top/back of the collar to get the angles right

I sewed the two fur pieces together at the top to make the horseshoe shape. I was a bit worried about sewing with the fur fabric, especially with how to make sure the filaments wouldn’t get all caught up in the stitching, but I checked out a couple of online resources, including this video & this instructable, which both gave me a lot more confidence. Thankfully, my lovely new Singer machine coped magnificently with the extra bulk of all that fluff. I then sewed the fur pieces to the lining on the outside edge.

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I remembered to clip notches into the curve. Yay me!

Then came the tricky bit, attaching the collar to the blanket-with-a-split-up-the-front. In practice, because the sweater knit has a lot of stretch to it, it was quite, ahem, easy to ease the curve of the collar into the straight of the split. I think it would be much harder with a woven fabric. I had to check twice that I was sewing the collar onto the correct side! Fur side sewn in by machine, collar closed by hand stitching the lining in and Bob’s your uncle.

After that it was just a case of  swathes of hand hemming. I also added a hanging loop, made from a bit of ribbon from one of my Christmas presents, though I don’t really want to use it too much or the fabric will sag out of shape in no time.


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Snowflake ribbon

I’ve worn it to work two days running, and it’s been lovely to have such a warm snuggly thing to wrap myself up in, because it’s quite nippy in my office.

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And a few more…

This project has really kicked off my creativity. I’m determined that in the 8 days I’ve got before I go away, I will have made a substantial contribution to a Me Made Cairo.


There are stirrings of creativity

I’m due to fly to Cairo on Wednesday week. So of course I’ve left it till today to start making any kind of travel wardrobe.

While it’s warm out there during the day, it’s chilly in the evenings, so layers are called for. I’m planning on there being plenty of evenings out, so I’m making a poncho/cape sort of thing. I swore I’d had enough of ponchos back in the seventies – that was enough for anybody. But one of my lovely nieces has a really cool one, with a fur collar, which looks very stylish, and I decided I had the perfect fabric in the stash to make one of my own. It’s in this sort of style:

I had to buy the faux fur, but the fabric and the collar lining are from stash. Which is a good thing. And I’ve got enough faux fur left to make a big Russian-style fur hat!

I’ve also got to make some pjs because I’ll be room sharing with my friend Candi. So I’ve done a dummy run top, which has worked well enough that it’s going to be one of my holiday tops. The top needs finishing, and I can now safely use the pattern (self-drafted) to get started on the pyjamas tomorrow.

After months of making nothing, I’m feeling all inspired and excited to be making anything at all! I’m hoping to have something concrete to post about shortly. Watch this space!

2015 – a year of total sewing fail

What can I say? It just wasn’t a year for sewing. Despite acquiring a spanking new sewing machine, despite having loads of ideas, despite having a stash that holds many, many possibilities, I have done next to no actual sewing.

A lot of this is that I’ve been tired and stressed. This year has been a tough one at work, and personally. Sewing’s taken a back seat, because something had to. I know that moving into 2016, I need to be kind to myself. I hope that will mean I get the sewing love coming back.

One thing I have done this year, that should help with that, is enroll on a Garment Making & Pattern Cutting course. It’s one of the courses run by Surrey Adult Learning, so I get a staff discount! I’ve had to miss quite a few sessions because of work, though, so I guess it all evens itself out!  It’s basic stuff, all about using a block, and how you can manipulate the darts to get the right fit, but I have found it really interesting, and it’s been good to learn how to do things the right way, and take my time with them. It’s been very soothing and mindful, which is just what I need.


A very tinkered-about-with pattern 

I did do a bit of refashioning for Christmas. On a whim, while I was in Primark, doing my last minute shopping, I bought myself a long-sleeved t-shirt (£3.50), plus a set of bead bracelets (£1). The bracelet set consisted of about 8 sets of beads on elastic thread, of varying sizes, from 4mm diameter to tiny seed beads and bugle beads. So all I needed to do was snip the elastic and make sure I caught all the beads in a bowl, before they scattered all over the place!

Of course, I decided to do this on the 23rd December, on the night before I was going down to my sister’s for the Christmas festivities. And I totally forgot how long it takes to bead stuff, even when it’s relatively light beading. So I ended up staying up till about 5am…

black beaded top

The All Night Christmas Top

It’s already given me ideas for cannibalising other jewellery to tart up my extensive range of cheap Primark t-shirts. So maybe you’ll be seeing more of these, if there’s anyone still reading!

And now, I think it’s time for a glass of prosecco. Cheers to all sewists/seamstresses/sewers, may 2016 bring you all you could wish for yourselves.


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.