Me Made May 2014: Days 2-12

9 days of Me Made May 2014 -

On the first of May I committed to five days a week of wearing something I sewed for Me Made May 2014. (If you haven’t heard about MMM14, read about on So Zo’s blog.) On Day 1 I wore a skirt I made a few years ago. All the photos were taken with my iPhone – so apologies for low-quality photos. I posted most of these photos on my Instagram account (@csews).

Here’s a rundown what I wore for the next several days, starting with this red dress on Day 2. I wore this number to a magazine awards event in Los Angeles. (The magazine I work for was nominated for several awards and we won four! I and three other staff members flew down for the event.) The evening began with cocktails so that’s why I’m holding a glass of red wine here.

Me Made May 2014 - red dress - vintage pattern -

I wore my vintage hat (black velvet and white woven fabric), which I got at All Things Vintage in Oakland, along with my new shoes – black with white trim! (Yes, they a bit too pointy for my feet but I figured they would be OK for a few hours. I needed something with a vintage look to go with the outfit. I found these low-heeled Bandolino pumps at DSW in San Francisco.) I made the dress a few years ago from this 1957 McCalls pattern. The fabric is a cotton woven, quilt weight, red with tiny white polka dots. This dress has a side zipper and I made the belt using the same fabric.


Back then I didn’t really know what I was doing as I graded up in the shoulders and hip area. I didn’t now anything about tracing patterns and just cut the actual pattern [wince] and didn’t make a muslin [gasp]. Yep – this was the muslin. In fact I had never made a muslin of anything back then. Heheh. #ignoranceisbliss

From what I recall, my neckline adjustments were slightly off so I had to make some pretty small seam allowances to make it work. Plus it took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to figure out how to interpret the instructions for that middle pleated detail in the center of the bodice. Even now I stare at it and I don’t remember how I did it! I was slimmer when I made this dress so at the moment there’s not a whole lot of ease in the hip area. 😉 There is plenty of room to walk because of a pleat in the skirt back. It’s not uncomfortable but a little more ease would be better. I need to get back to the gym!

On Day 3 I wore this cotton voile skirt I made last year. On the last day of my LA trip I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy (@nerdyseamstress on Twitter and @thenerdyseamstress on Instagram) who blogs at The Nerdy Seamstress. We follow each other on social media and arranged to meet at Republique, a great place for brunch, and then went to The Fabric Store to do a little shopping. We each wore skirts we made that day. (You can read about my skirt here.)

Kathy of the Nerdy Seamstress and Chuleenan wearing Me Made May skirts

On Day 4 I wore my Hummingbird peplum, a Cake Patterns top, which I made last year. (You can read about it here.)


On Day 5 I wore this hat, which I made from some home dec fabric I got on sale at Joann’s and trimmed with Petersham ribbon from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. (Yes, this is a selfie, thus my shoulder looks odd – a little Quasimodo, eh?)


On Day 6 I wore this bias cut skirt. The fabric is from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco.


Day 7 – The Trench, pattern from Christine Haynes first book Chic and Simple Sewing, which I blogged about here. This one is from a handwoven cotton – very thick, like home dec – and trimmed with bias tape I made from striped silk fabric. I also added a cuff detail in the same striped fabric.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Christine’s and even interviewed her when she released her first of her patterns in 2012. You can read that Q&A here.

The Trench- Christine Haynes pattern

Day 8, my other Trench – this one in wool, trimmed with a bias tape made from tiny hounds-tooth wool fabric. You can read about that Trench here.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern -

Day 9, my hand-sewn bolero from black jersey, pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book by Natalie Chanin. Sorry you can’t see much detail in this badly lit photo. For some reason I never got around to blogging about this bolero.

Bolero - Alabama Studio Sewing + Design  -

Days 10 and 11, I didn’t wear anything I made and Day 12 I wore my Emery Dress – one of my more feminine dresses (lace trim, embroidery on the collar). This is also a Christine Haynes pattern. You can read about my experience making this dress (and see better photos!) here. The fabric is cotton voile is a remnant I got from Britex Fabrics. I also got this cute hat on sale at All Things Vintage. I love the hats at this shop run by two ladies with excellent taste. Nearly every time I go there I buy another hat!

Emery Dress - Me Made May 2014 - Day 12 -

Thanks for visiting! And if you’re participating in Me Made May and have worn anything by the designers mentioned above, please let me know. I’d love to see what you made!

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2013 – A Year of Sewing Firsts

Thanks to Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow for spurring me and many others to look back at this past year. One thing I realized is that 2013 was a year of sewing firsts for me. So here’s a brief rundown of the “firsts” in chronological order.

I entered my first sewing contest in February – the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest. You had to make something from the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern and post photos to your BurdaStyle profile. I made the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress and a crinoline with the following adjustments: changed the neckline from square neck to boat neck, lined the bodice (first tine I lined a bodice!), added bra strap holders at shoulders. I posted about making the dress but never actually posted this photo on my blog. So here it is.

To my great surprise I was selected as one of 20 finalists. I didn’t win but it was exciting to be a finalist. (You can see more photos on my BurdaStyle Project page here.)

I participated in my first sewalong last June – making the Hummingbird peplum top by Cake Patterns and sewing by first neck and sleeve binding using knit fabric (link to pattern here). I liked the pattern so much I made three tops: solid blue, solid red, and my favorite, black-and-white striped version with binding cut on the bias.

Striped h-bird - standing

It was so much fun participating in the Hummingbird sewalong, I joined in the Fall for Cotton Sewalong hosted by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille and Tasha of By Gum By Golly, and made my first Decades of Style pattern, the 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, a bit of a challenge with three collars and a side invisible zipper.

1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern

You can see more photos in the post My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished!

This year was the first time I sewed with chevron fabric – which I discovered was not quite the same as sewing stripes (heheh). I made my Chevron Red Velvet Dress, when I participated in Cake Patterns Red Velvet Knit Dress sewalong (pattern link here).

Red Velvet Knit Dress - Cake Patterns -

And finally, I made the Emery Dress, a Christine Haynes pattern, and did my first small bust adjustment and my first wide shoulder adjustment using the tutorials she provided with her Emery Dress Sewalong.

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

And coincidentally, these “firsts” are also my top five. Happy New Year! Do you have any sewing resolutions for 2014?

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Hashtag Sew Red October

Sew Red October

I’m participating in Sew Red October (#sewredoctober) – initially called #redoctober but then it was changed when folks realized that it was a hashtag being used for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. The idea is simple –  sew something in red in October.

I first heard about it from Leila of Three Dresses Project in her September post The Sewcialists do it again with Red October. Then you post your photos to the Sewcialists Flickr page. There are some great finished projects up already so check it out!

The great logo was designed by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow. I love the periscope, which oh so cleverly evokes the entertaining film (and book) The Hunt for Red October. Thank you Gillian!

Red is one of my favorite colors so I wanted to participate as soon as I heard about it. But first I had to complete my Fall for Cotton project and my Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. (You can see photos here: My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished! I haven’t posted about the tank yet.)

We were going through a couple of heat waves in the Bay Area but I knew that wasn’t going to last so I had to get the tank done.

Meanwhile I thought about what I would make for Red October. I had a couple yards of red knit fabric that was ruined in June when I prewashed it with three other knits – black, brown, and blue. For some reason the red was the only fabric that got these blotchy stains on it from the black! I was so disgusted I just put it away. Here’s one splotchy area. Grrrrr!

Stain on my red knit fabric from prewashing

When I heard about Red October I decided to take another look at the fabric. A couple areas didn’t have random dark areas on it so I thought why not see if I could make something from it? So I decided to do my first Sewing Cake Hummingbird pattern hack and make a red tee shirt. (You can buy the Hummingbird pattern in Sewing Cake’s Etsy shop as a printed paper pattern or a PDF.)

I’ve already made three Hummingbird peplum tops and I like the binding on the neckline and armhole so why not make a tee? (Photos of my blue, striped, and red ones are here: More Hummingbird Tops!)

I used the front and back pieces of the Green top and then I drafted a bottom piece 9 inches (22.9 cm) long to attach to the existing Hummingbird top pieces. I really wasn’t sure how much to add to the hip width to accommodate the stretch. Also I wanted it to be a fitted tee, not a loose one. I used my hip curve to draw a line from the waist to the widest hip point. I decided to add about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) – it may not enough but hey, this is essentially a muslin, right?

Cutting around stains

Here’s a closer shot of the bottom piece I drafted and just placed beneath my pattern piece for the Hummingbird front top piece. I drafted another bottom piece (also 9 inches long) for the back.

New bottom piece for Hummingbird hack

My pieces are cut and ready to sew! (Yeah, they’re wrinkly because I folded up the fabric to cut elsewhere and didn’t have an iron on hand.)

Hummingbird hack - cut pieces

Have you hacked any Cake Patterns? What did you do? And if you’re making something for Red October, please share your link in the comments below. I’d love to see what you’re working on!

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My First Hat Fitting

I won the drawing for a straw hat fedora! Last weekend I was thrilled to go to my first hat fitting.

How did this happen? Well, I donated money to hat designer Elwyn Crawford’s Indiegogo campaign and one of the donation levels was to contribute $5 to be entered into a hat drawing for a straw fedora. I had already made one contribution to her campaign but when she added that perk, I couldn’t resist.

Elwyn wanted to raise funds to expand O’Lover Hats, her custom hat business, and start an internship program. I interviewed her last month about her hat business (“Q&A with Elwyn Crawford of O’Lover Hats“) and about her campaign (“O”Lover Hats Indiegogo Campaign“).

I usually buy ready-to-wear hats – either vintage or from a store or craft fair. As some folks may know, I wear hats everyday. (You can read more about my love of hats on my Hats page.) It was a new and exciting experience for me to actually be fitted for a hat.

The hat-fitting experience is similar to what you would do when you sew a garment. You choose your fabric, your pattern, and you have your measurements at hand. In this case, I was choosing which straw form would be made into a fedora.

4 straw hat forms
A range of straw hat forms to choose from

The first thing Elwyn did was to measure my head. Then she brought out a stack of straw hat forms. There are many different forms woven in different patterns and with straw of various shades. Elwyn will then shape the hat into a fedora (cutting down the brim, shaping the crown, and so on). She told me to pick out a few that I liked and then we would narrow it down. I chose these four. I really liked the lacy look of the two hats above. Elwyn has pushed in the crown of three of the hats in a fedora-like shape to give me a sense of what it would look like.

The white straw form that will be made into a fedora
The white straw form that will be a fedora

I put each one on but the lacy ones had more of a yellow tone that didn’t do much for my skin. The white hat form looked the best so that is the one I chose.

Elwyn brought out a few hats for me to try on to see which shape and brim width were the right shape for me. She took into consideration the height of the crown as well as the width of the brim and how the hat shape went with my face. We decided that the black straw hat fedora was The One (see photo below).

I wanted to give Elwyn a sense of my style, which would help her decide what hat design is best for me. I decided to wear something that I would wear to work. So I wore my Cake Patterns Hummingbird peplum top along with a silk polka dot skirt. (You can get this easy-to-make sewing pattern at Cake’s Etsy shop.) I finished making this top last week. I made a blue one in June, which I blogged about (“My First Sewalong – Hummingbird 30 Minutes a Day“).

Elwyn asked me if I had any fedora hats and I told her I had one wool one but hat I didn’t wear it very much. Fedoras are a rather masculine hat. She assured me that she would make sure it had a feminine look to it. She also asked me if I wore polka dots a lot. I told her I just had this one skirt but that I had other skirts with circles and swirls on them.

Creating a hat is a personal endeavor – and Elwyn strives to make something that is not only the right fit but suits the client’s personality.

So now I’ll be waiting a few weeks for Elwyn to do her magic and then I’ll meet her again to see how the hat fits and to decide on how to trim the hat. I can hardly wait!

Here are some more photos of Elwyn’s studio, which is part of the 25th Street Collective in Oakland. She not only creates her hats here, her creations are also on display. As you can see, she’s very talented!

My Hummingbird top (pattern by Sewing Cake) and black straw fedora by O'Lover Hats
My Hummingbird top (pattern by Sewing Cake) and black straw fedora by O’Lover Hats
Hats on display at O'Lover Hats, designs by Elwyn Crawford
Hats on display at O’Lover Hats, designs by Elwyn Crawford
Hat blocks
In Elwyn’s studio: Hat blocks Elwn uses to shapes hats