One of the greatest joys of my life is being a Granny to two little boys. Another great joy is watching my daughter and son in law parent them with such care. In particular, they teach the older one patience with his brother and with himself by using the phrase: “He’s/you’re still learning.” I love that so much and I find that here and now in my 60’s, I am also still learning.
The pandemic really did a number on my focus and affected my reading and my sewing. Whereas prior to 2020, I would fly through books and sewing projects, sewing a garment a week and reading 100 books in a year without even thinking about it, the heaviness of the last three years and my work as a healthcare worker really set me back and affected my focus.
Another wonderful phrase I have learned from my grandchild’s school: the children have two “grades” M and P: Mastered and Practicing. And sometimes, something they have mastered becomes something they are practicing, because life is like that. And so this year, my goal has been to work towards regaining my focus through practice. To help me regain my reading attention span, I have been working my way through some classics. To regain my sewing focus, I made a goal for Me Made May to just sew. I am practicing things I previously had mastered, and that is OK.
Something that really helped me get back into sewing this past month was to take my sewing machine along when I went away for a quiet weekend by myself at the end of April. I planned it because the noise of my life had become incessant. My work in a busy medical practice means that I am pinged and beeped and alerted all day long. My very full life as a mom, stepmom, granny and wife mean that in addition to my patients, I have many family members I regularly connect with. I really love the connection but this Spring I was craving quiet so I decided to take a weekend away, really away: no computer with me, limited phone usage, I didn’t even tell anyone where I was going. It was truly time for me. I planned to read and write and spend time outside. And then, the day before I left, I heard that the forecast was for rain every single day. So I packed some sewing projects and my sewing machine.
On my way to my secret destination, I caught up on podcasts and happened to listen to this episode of the Love to Sew podcast. I actually found it to be very inspiring and although I had brought along a new pattern that I was excited to make and fabric for that new pattern, I also had some partially sewn garments with me as well and I decided to try to make some progress.
My primary goal for my weekend was to be in the moment so I decided not to take any pictures so I wouldn’t be temped to pick up my phone but I did take these two, just to document my re-entry into sewing. This is a pair of Luna pants that I cut out a year ago thinking I needed to sew something fun. I had two meters of this beautiful blue block print from Blackbird Fabrics which was just enough for the four main pieces but not enough for the pockets. I had finally, this spring, cut the pockets out of the the leftover yellow block print from my Ruby shirt, and I had brought all of the cut pieces with me. When I bring my sewing machine along on vacation, I also bring this Quilter’s ironing mat that works great on top of a table, or in this case, the kitchen counter. Ironically, the week after I got back. Love to Sew did a podcast about sewing vacations! This is my tip-so much easier to pack than an ironing board.
I didn’t actually finish anything during my weekend away but I made a lot of progress on this project and on some Lander pants and shorts which I had started 2 years and 9 months ago, respectively. I had remembered almost everything, but realized when I started sewing, that I had forgotten to bring the Lander instructions. I have sewn many pairs but I still needed the instructions to refer to and I had specifically left my computer at home, but I thought to email True Bias and they graciously emailed the instructions, saving the day.
I didn’t finish the Landers either, but I made progress. And so that was my plan for Me Made May. To just find time to sew and see where I got with my projects.
Well, it is May 29th, and I have finished 9 projects, so calling this a success.
First, the Luna pants. I ended up having to use a hem facing to get enough length, but they turned out great! Perfect for summer.
Next I finished the Lander shorts. These are sewn in a 12oz Bull denim from Blackbird Fabrics that I bought and used in 2020 to make the Clyde Jumpsuit. I had just enough left over-but had to use hem facings-something I really enjoy doing for the pop of color. It has some stretch and is super comfortable but very heavy to sew with. I broke at least 3 sewing needles attaching the belt loops but worth it. The buttons are from Joanne’s. Worn here with a Made by Rae Jade top. I add elastic just between to two back darts to help the fit. It really works well for me.
Next I altered/finished a True Bias Nikko top that I sewed during the Christmas holidays. I cut and sewed my regular size but had never used the sleeves and it was too tight across the back and the shoulders puckered and I thought all was lost but I took a chance and just cut off the sleeves and used bands to hem the armholes and I love it (worn here with Lander cropped cords I sewed in 2020.)
Next I finished some knit projects I cut out last year: A navy blue Axis Tank and some underwear (Barrie Briefs) sewn in a rib knit from I See Fabric. I was influenced by another sewer to buy these fabrics because I loved the colors and I still love the colors but I really think the fabric is too heavy for underwear but lets just say that if you want to feel really secure, these are for you. I know I will wear them though and it felt good to finish them. I don’t remember if the Axis Tank uses elastic or just bands but I put elastic in the bottom hem and just used bands for the armholes. I have worn it several times and have a couple of others that are cut out and ready to sew. It is great for yoga and hot days and wearing under overalls.
Today I finally finished my stone-colored corduroy Landers and they turned out great. I am thrilled and I want to sew my other two pairs (I bought this corduroy in several colors many years back) for exactly this purpose.
I also finished a navy blue sweater knit Marlo sweater. I used the cropped version but added 2 inches in length-which is my normal long-torso 5’9″ adjustment. I nearly got derailed by this one when I went to iron in the black interfacing and ironed the wrong side, mucking up my iron, but I just grabbed some of the 2 inch wide strip of cotton knit that I was using for the Axis and cut strips the length of the button bands and put it inside the band like a knit sandwich. It seemed to work great. I got the buttons and fabric from Stone Mountain and Daughters. I love their button selection. I bought several last summer because I hope to sew the Evelyn skirt one day. Sweater shown here with the Landers before I added the jeans buttons. My buttonholes were ON POINT! I love when that happens. As I always do, I used hem facings and elastic in the waistband, just between the two back darts.
Last, I sewed up a pair of Arden shorts that I cut out last summer. I had cut out two versions of this pattern and finished the linen-cotton pair last summer (seen here with another Axis tank).
They don’t fit me as well as the Landers or the Made by Rae Rose shorts so I don’t think I will be making them again but they were already cut out and so I decided to finish them. I tried to just enjoy the process of sewing them and ended up deciding to use a contrasting waistband. I still don’t love the fit but they will be fine to pull on over a bathing suit or to wear at the house on hot nights. No regrets that I sewed them up. Sometimes it helps to have low-stakes projects to sew when you are getting back into sewing after a long break.
The other thing I enjoyed this month was rediscovering how many clothes I sewed many years ago and still want to wear and enjoy wearing. Here are a few. None of the denim items are me-made but I decided to not stress about sewing everything. I consider them placeholders for when I have the time and bandwidth to sew similar garments myself but in the meantime, I am grateful to find ready to wear items I can afford and that fit. I probably wore the daisy Marlo more than any other garment this month. I really love it. For more me made may outfits and details on these garments, pop over to Nursebeansews on instagram. And thanks for following along!