Month: May 2014

sorbet-two’s company

I have a teensy tiny (and by teensy tiny I mean 5 and 1/8 yards) confession to make. I might have bought some fabric even though I was definitely supposed to be stashbusting.  And I might have had a torrid love affair with said fabric over the course of the past week and I sewed two Sorbetto tops and have basically spent all my spare moments thinking about the dress I’ll hopefully sew in time for my birthday.

I got all the fabrics over which I’m slavering at a local fabric store called The Needle Shop, which is probably the cutest place known to the sewing world and I desperately want to be friends with everyone who works there slash walks in the door (shy people problems). They have lots of quilting/fashion weight cotton and home dec fabric, all in excellent prints. I went in there last Saturday just to look for some bias tape/interesting trim (oh the little lies I tell myself) and came out with 3 cuts of fabric.  One week later, I’m up two shirts. Yay!


_MG_7911 _MG_7929

I love the Sorbetto top because it lets me show off a yard of fabric that I really love, whether it’s for the color or the pattern, but it only takes one yard. Hallelujah, said my bank account.

Theeeeeen, I might have caved and bought 3 yardsof fabric in something that I have been desiring since basically the second I first saw it on the Grainline Studio blog: the Lizzy House Catnap fabric.  Is it basically everything I want in a fabric? Duh. Is it professional? Nope. Am I going to wear it to clerkship anyway? OF COURSE.  (That is, after I make it into a dress, probably Simplicity 2588 – wearing just a sheet of fabric to clinic is beyond even my realm of acceptability).  I’d like to make this to wear on my birthday, which will hopefully be the only way I acknowledge its existence in every sphere of my life.  Now it’s time to get sewing!



bring on the lady skaters

Now that I sew knits and do all sorts of fancy sewing stuff (ha), it was time for me to try my hand at a few Lady Skaters!  I’ve made two so far.  I’m out of knit fabric for now and I’ve just stocked up on some wovens, so no more purchases (and thus no more Lady Skaters) are allowed until I clear out some stash. Here’s how it went.

My first one was made from the same feather fabric as my first Renfrew. I didn’t photograph myself in it extensively (case in point: one iPhone selfie and a picture my mom took of me messing around with a model skeleton in the school library).  However, I feel like it fit pretty well.  My biggest critique was that the waist was a wee bit low, and so I made the adjustment to raise it for future makes.  It was also tight in the shoulders, which I attributed to the fact that I had made the seam allowances 5/8″ in some places thanks to that very annoying clear elastic. I was hoping I’d be able to get away with wearing it to clinic, but I don’t think that’s going to happen – the neck band makes it look pretty obviously t-shirty.  Alas, alack.

photo (6)


On Saturday I finished my second Lady Skater, this one in a minty green cotton jersey. I thought the Girl Charlee website said both this fabric and the feathers one had the same stretch content, but this one seems much stretchier and consequently there’s actually some positive ease on this dress. The extra space could possibly be attributed to me paying closer attention to better seam allowances, but I don’t think it would have made such a striking difference (I basically have to Houdini-style dislocate my shoulders to get into the feather dress, and this one just slips on).  Overall, it was one of those makes where I finished it, and I thought I really liked it until I tried it on after it was all done – then my reaction was more along the lines of “hmmm.”  I did get a bit of an ego boost on it when I wore it to brunch with David on Sunday; moments after leaving our building two women walked by and I heard one comment on how she thought my dress was cute. (:  I’ll probably adjust the armscyes a bit before I wear it again, but for now I’ll relish the compliment.

_MG_7836 - Version 2



Also!  Despite the fact that I live less than a five minute walk away from Lake Michigan and the beautiful enormous park that runs along its shores, this is the first time David and I have traipsed the mighty distance of two blocks to go photograph my sewing in said park. Embarrassing? Yes. But the results were so nice that I will definitely no longer shirk from the photography expeditions (:

me-made-may, week 3

Another seven days, but not quite so many handmade outfits.  Big excuse: the weather in Chicago took a huge turn for the worse (think SNOW in the suburbs on Friday) and I just could not supply the makes to meet the weather. Boo hoo.  Here’s the breakdown of what I wore.

photo (18) photo (17)

photo (16) photo (15)

  1. Sunday, 11 May: it turns out later on I was feeling like wearing something handmade…pajamas!  I didn’t take a picture, but I wore the cat pajamas that I blogged about here.
  2. Monday, 12 May: Not sure how I feel about these two pieces together, but right now this is the only pair of work pants I have that goes with this Sorbetto. Ah well. (More Sorbettos are on their way, woo!)
  3. Tuesday, 13 May: I didn’t wear any me-mades to work, but I came home at noon with a migraine and spent the rest of the day in my other pair of Madeleine mini-bloomers (thank goodness I have multiple pairs of those!) Today was also unphotographed because I could not keep my right eye open for a majority of the time I was awake.
  4. Wednesday, 14 May: After feeling pretty gloomy about not putting on a me-made garment, I realized that the trench coat I’ve been wearing to clinic almost every day qualifies (by my definition) as a me-made.  I bought it at Salvation Army for $6 in 2006, but it stayed unused (because it was such a creepy flasher length) until 2011 when I decided to shorten it. It was my first real project where I was like “I’m going to learn to sew beyond just forcing my mom to hold my hand through a pair of pajama pants!!!!!” and you can really tell.  It is veeeeery lopsided. But you know what?  I don’t have any eyeballs near my knees, neither does anyone else that can talk, and this coat is perfect for this weather.  Take that, I say to my inner judgmental sewing anxiety voice. Take that.
  5. Thursday, 15 May: Another day in the trench coat.  It was so cold that I also wore my white coat under the trench. As you can see by the weird shape of my hips under the coat, my pockets were totally full.  Welcome to third year.
  6. Friday, 16 May:  Just my Regina hat and the trench (again) today.  This was the day it snowed in the suburbs – so miserably cold.  As you can tell, I look pretty unimpressed with the fact that a wool hat was a necessity in mid-May.
  7. Saturday, 17 May: Unphotographed, but I wore my Renfrew tee today while David’s friends came over and brewed beer.


Weeks 1 and 2 (well, more like 1 and 0.5-ish) of MMM-14 are done!!  I’ve actually been surprisingly successful at wearing my creations, even though I don’t have a whole lot of them (so there are some repeats) and it is colder than all get out in Chicago right now, and most of my makes are warm-weathery things. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve sported thus far.  (Sorry for the crappy quality of photos, but I am so not into being photographed every morning at 7:15 AM, and I also don’t have an Instagram, or a smart phone for that matter, so these are all taken on my boyfriend’s iPhone so I can email them to myself easily. Thanks boyfriend.)

(I feel like I should clarify: I’m counting “me-made” as anything I have either made from scratch or modified beyond stuff like simple hemming.)

Anyway!  Allons-y, and welcome to my messy bedroom with unfinished artwork on the walls.  I also suck at taking selfies.

photo (2) photo (1)

photo (4) photo (5)


photo (13) photo (12)

photo (11) photo (10)

photo (7) photo (6)

  1. 1 May: Renfrew top
  2. 2 May: skirt sewn from Simplicity 1873
  3. 3 May: doodle-shoes copying a design I saw on some Miu Miu flats
  4. 4 May: doodle-shoes inspired by henna designs
  5. 5 May (a cheat day): my cat pajamas
  6. 6 May: repeated my Simplicity 1873 skirt (it is just too darn cold for all my summery skirts, sigh)
  7. 7 May: Simplicity 2588 in batik, my first real independent make!
  8. 8 May: Banana Republic pants which I cropped
  9. 9 May: Pleated skirt
  10. 10 May: Lady Skater dress
  11. 11 May: No me-mades today(!) I just wasn’t feelin’ it.

I am really pleased about how MMM is going thus far: I’ve actually succeeded at wearing something me-made (almost) every single day (I’ll be honest, I only put on the cat pajamas out of a sense of obligation, but whatever) and I’m getting compliments on what I’m wearing, which is hugely life-affirming and all that.  These past few weeks have also really helped me think about where I have holes in my wardrobe.  Conveniently, MMM coincides with a time where all of a sudden, I need to wear a LOT of professional clothes, all the time (whereas before I was wearing them once or twice a week, tops, and I basically wore no pants at all, ever, for the entirety of March and April – the perks of studying for boards alone in your apartment).  I really see where the holes are in my wardrobe – SEPARATES.  Specifically, bottoms that don’t make me feel like “bleh, winter” but also are work-appropriate.  So instead of making another Simplicity 1873 dress in some grey poly poplin I have, I think I’ll convert it into a skirt.  The light grey will look nice and summery, and I’ll have something besides a couple pairs of trousers to wear with my blouses.  I’m thinking of doing a Sorbetto with short sleeves with the leftover grey fabric.  Hooray sewing! Hooray MMM! Also hooray contrived song puns as post titles!

(On another hooray, I PASSED STEP 1. Yee!)

new life to not-new pants

Confession: I don’t like shopping (unless it’s for craft supplies, or new gym shoes).  Something about the simple act of buying something that is essentially an anti-nudity, anti-death-by-exposure device but is somehow inflated in importance to comical proportions makes it an excruciating process for me. (Pretty damning for someone who blogs about making, you know, clothes, but whatever.)  When I shop, I occasionally shut down and enter this robotic “pleasegodgetmeoutofhere” autopilot that causes me to make hugely unwise decisions in the fitting room. Case in point? These pants.


I bought them at a consignment shop before I started my first year of med school.  I think a combination of several things caused me to go for them:

  • I was shocked that they were small enough for my waist while still large enough for my thighs (not an easy balance for me)
  • I was also pretty pleased with the price tag ($13 for a pair of totally new, $90+ price-tag-still-on, Banana Republic slacks)
  • I was also probably so flustered by the whole shopping experience that I forgot to look at my ankles closely and realize these pants were waaaay too short and the cut on the leg made it look like all of my leg was the circumference of my thigh. Neither aspect is flattering in the slightest.

Needless to say, I haven’t worn these pants at all. Whoops. I’m always looking for the next unused item to purge from my closet, so I gave myself an ultimatum: make the pants wearable, or say adios.  Because I can’t ever make things easy for myself, I chose the former. Here goes my sorta-refashion!

Since the pants were too short and the hem wasn’t wide enough to take them out to the desired length, I decided to make a pair of straight-legged cropped pants.  Still not the most desirable cut for someone with short, muscular legs, but it’s better than flood-height bell bottoms.

I measured, pinned, said a prayer, cut (that was the most expensive piece of clothing I’ve ever cut up so it was very stressful), and sewed.  And… ta da!  I sported them to clinic Thursday, and I’ll be wearing them regularly from here on out.



tee bee tee

I’m doing the Internet right, right?

As I sport more of my makes during MMM, I uncovered one that I made before this blog was even a twinkle in my eye – the first dress I ever made, and also coincidentally my first ever independently made object!  When my mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas, she gave me the very solid piece of advice that I should choose a relatively simple dress pattern, some fabric I liked (but didn’t like too much) and just dive right in.  So I picked Simplicity 2588 and a pink-and-tan batik print, and then began my trial by fire.  The result was actually surprisingly good! Some parts are weirdly puckered in places, and I refuse to look at the lapped zipper for fear of getting irrationally angry with myself (invisible zips 4eva), and I may have shed a few tears over the princess seams, but I really like this dress!  It fit pretty well (well, four sizes below my recommended size on the pattern envelope fit pretty well) with no modifications, something that definitely hasn’t always happened for me.


Here’s the dress in its just-finished glory, more than two full years ago. Ugh, time flies. There is my icky old undergrad apartment kitchen in Evanston, and I cannot believe how much hair used to be attached to my head. Ahh I sound old! I guess I can’t even do a “cool youth” Internet hastaggy thing without sounding like a nostalgic old lady. Newspapers and milkmen and walking to school uphill both ways in the snow!  Get off my lawn. The end.

me-made-may, and a few sewing milestones

Oh my.  I’m not even sure where to start, y’all.  (At the beginning, I suppose.)  Guys. Gals. Everyone. I sew SO SLOWLY. The good folks at Merriam Webster should consider putting the word “slewly” into the dictionary to describe my sewing habits.  No task, no matter how simple, goes quickly for me.  I have never made anything in one sitting…until now.  And to top it all off, the first thing I ever made in one sitting was also MY FIRST KNIT FABRIC GARMENT.  Oh mylanta, it was a good day in Ellie Craftingland (population: 1 (and one cat) and immigration services are pretty unwelcoming). This is the lovely Renfrew top, a pattern I purchased 100% because of the cowl neck version but I don’t intend to sew until it gets cold again (never mind the fact that it is still really freaking cold in Chicago).



The construction process was very simple, and I can see myself making about a bajillion more of these.  I probably won’t add the waistband or cuffs on following versions, especially the short-sleeved cut.  I have some more knit fabric and next up is a Lady Skater (or two, hooray)!   All of these projects will contribute to my stash of clothes for Me-Made-May, in which I’ll be participating this year.  I think my goal for the month is something handmade at least three days a week.  I’m so excited that I finally have enough hand-makes to participate!



On another note, if you look closely in the photo above you can see my veiny arms and where they were poked multiple times today in the name of education. We learned how to put IVs into patients…by doing it on each other.  No fainting, and only one arm bled everywhere.