Me-Made May 2021

After a few years of sewing garments, I decided it was finally time to participate in Me-Made May. To quote Zoe, the creator of the challenge:

Me-Made-May is a challenge designed to encourage people who make their own clothes to develop a better relationship with their handmade wardrobe. You set the specifics of your own challenge to make it suitable and useful for YOU. However, one very common pledge is for a participant to aim to wear one self-stitched or refashioned garment each day for the duration of May. 

I’ve made a few garments for myself, but not nearly enough to last me through an entire month. So, my challenge for Me-Made May was to wear each of my me-made items at least once during the month of May, and to take notes on what I like most and what I would improve about each garment.

I chose not to photograph each garment, so I’m not planning to post a slideshow of my me-mades, but I will recap my notes and future plans.

My absolute favorite makes

I wore my green and black colorblock tunic to work on my single in-person day in October 2020.

Colorblock 3/4 sleeve knit tunic

Made in March 2020 from double-brushed polyester knit, with a pattern adapted from Simplicity 1199. Double-brushed poly knit has to be one of my favorite fabrics to wear, although the fact that it’s polyester (extruded microplastic, as I understand it) puts it lower on the “sustainable sewing” preferred fabric list. This shirt is one of only a few that I’m OK with wearing to the office.

I made my sleeveless burgundy poly knit top in May 2020.

Reversible sleeveless knit tunic

Made in May-June 2020 from double-brushed spandex poly knit, copied from my favorite sleeveless knit tunic. The first draft of this was made from woven fabrics, and I hadn’t realized that there was a bit of negative ease in the bust of the original blouse, so the first version got unpicked to use for something else later.

This blouse and its predecessor were my first attempt at the burrito method of sewing a lining into a bodice. The draft version ended up looking like a mobius strip at one point, so I’m glad I messed up on the woven version instead of the knit version — much easier to unpick.

I bought this light green floral fabric from Joann's in June 2020.

Short-sleeved knit nightshirt

This green and white floral double-brushed polyester knit was on sale at Joann’s online back in June 2020. While I originally bought it because it was double-brushed poly for a good price, the color and the print have definitely grown on me.

I copied a nightshirt I had bought at a Goodwill when I was visiting my mom in Florida that ended up being one of my favorite nightshirts ever. Alas, I’m not OK with wearing a Christmas-themed nightshirt year-round, so I decided to make a holiday-neutral version.

I wear it ALL THE TIME. That is, unless I’m wearing my…

Purple fleece nightshirt!

Polar Fleece Nightshirt

This was my first foray into sewing from a commercial pattern, back in January 2019. It’s oversized, but oh-so-comfy. I added side-seam pockets to the McCall’s 2950 nightshirt pattern, and I have every intention of making myself another version for next fall. Perhaps the next one will be a medium-weight flannel or fleece, since sleeping in polar fleece is essentially wearing another blanket to bed.

Close, But No Cigar

  • Tee shirts — I’ve sewn two sleeved and one sleeveless (which only happened because I accidentally attached the neckband to an armhole), and they’ve come out in varying degrees of wearability. My first attempt showed my inexperience with sewing knits; the second and third were wearable, but ill-fitting.
  • Drop-waist dress (Simplicity 9664) — The draft version I made from a thrifted green bedsheet; Version Two was black stretch twill. I discovered that I’m not a huge fan of the gathers (either the act of creating them or how I look when wearing them). I also discovered that I need to start incorporating a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) into garments I make for myself. I looooove the patch pockets, both the size and the positioning, and I especially love the length of the twill version. However, the cotton bedsheet was too thin and the twill was too thick. I could see myself making a third version from a medium-weight knit, using fewer gathers and adding a FBA.
  • Shorts — I know that each of us has a unique shape, but I think my shape must be especially unusual, given the difficulty I have in finding pants that fit. I’ve succeeded in making a single pair of knee-length shorts that kinda-sorta fit, and even those don’t fit very well. They fit well enough to be my gardening shorts, but I wouldn’t wear them out of the house.

Missing Me-Mades

  • Underwear (although my first pair is in progress!)
  • Pants (see fit issues referenced above)
  • Skirts
  • Outerwear and cardigans
  • Tights, leggings, and socks

Participating in Me-Made May has shown me how much I do enjoy wearing garments that I’ve sewn for myself, and how much I would benefit from taking a long, hard look at my wardrobe in general. I never would have thought that I’d be one to sew my own clothes… but here we are.

Maybe I’ll have enough me-made clothes by next May to wear one item every day!

Collector of Hobbies

Japanese maple seedlings wired as bonsai

I blame the YouTube algorithm. It served me up some videos from Herons Bonsai a few weeks back, and now I’m potting up Japanese maple seedlings that would normally be destined for my (currently non-existent) compost pile.

Earlier this week, I unearthed some thin florist wire and some aluminum craft wire from my stash (I’ve also got some heavyweight picture-hanging wire around here somewhere) and made a first attempt at wiring my tiny seedlings’ trunks into the S-shape of an informal upright bonsai.

Last night, I wired a couple of the other smaller seedlings that I had dug up — the ones that seem to be thriving in their new home, anyway.

Today is Mother’s Day… and look what my two favorite guys got me.

The Bonsai Beginner's Bible by Peter Chan and a bonsai growing kit

The bonsai-growing kit contains seeds of four different plants: two conifers and two deciduous trees, one of which is a flowering tree. I’m planning to start with germinating the Norway spruce, as the insert promises that it’s a fast-growing plant.

Now that I’ve been tending the same flowerbeds for eight years, though I’m starting to understand the Long Game. I get that there’s no silver bullet to instantly grow (and maintain) the perfect garden, border, tree, whatever. I’m starting to plan ahead for what the gardens will look like in a few years, leaving volunteer tree seedlings to mature alongside older, weaker specimens that are on their way out. I’m not in a hurry to buy new plants, or to pull up “weeds” that I don’t recognize. Now that my mind has starting thinking bonsai, I’m even contemplating the weed trees and unwanted runner plants as possible future bonsai.

I also get that every year can be a new start if it needs to be. Gardens and the plants in them are living things, always growing and changing. There will always be new volunteer seedlings to shape and nurture — or throw in the landfill.

Birthday Terrarium

glass terrarium with air plants

My college roomie, Amy, sent me this classy terrarium from Gifted Glass Gardens for my birthday! It’s minimalist and exquisite at the same time, with black sand, preserved moss, Cholla wood, two air plants, a geode, and a chunk of pyrite.

Of course, all of the pieces came shipped in their own sealed bags or containers — thankfully, the terrarium came with assembly instructions and photos. It also came with care instructions for air plants, which I was also glad to see, as I didn’t realize air plants needed to be soaked in water weekly. That would explain why the one I had back in 2012 was so short-lived.

Thanks, Amy! You know me well. 🙂

Return of the #SchnuthSalonSelfie

It’s kind of a running joke with a few of my coworkers that I reinvent myself every few years.

Mostly, they’re referring to my hair.

After growing it out for a few years, I decided it was time to change it up. No more ponytails and hair clips; all I need now is a spray bottle and my fingers (and maybe a comb, if I’m feeling fancy).

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: April 2021

Since last month’s Bloom Day, the hyacinths have come and gone, and the earliest of the daffodils have started to fade — including the gorgeous Apricot Whirl variety I planted in the fall, and the striking bi-color daffodil that I finally remembered to move from its out-of-the-way spot in the peony border to a more prominent place along the front walk.

This was the year that I finally got out at the right time and moved my daffs “in the green.” Some folks claim that daffodils can be fussy when it comes to springtime transplanting, and others see their relocated narcissi bloom just fine later that same spring. Thankfully, my experience was more of the latter kind, so I’m well on my way to having my garden path lined with inviting spring blooms!

Not all of the daffodils got re-homed; some of them were already in a perfect massed spot close to the road, where all the passersby can enjoy them.

The west-facing flowerbed that’s visible from the kitchen window is the one I refer to as the Early Spring Border. The grape hyacinth (muscari) and brunnera are just two reasons why. Earlier, there were dwarf reticulated irises, fragrant hyacinths, and a few daffodils; later on, there will be alliums and peonies and camassia.

My neighbor gifted me a pot of columbines a few years ago, and I never got around to getting it in the ground. It finally bloomed in purple and yellow this year, despite my benign neglect… and the strawberry plants that seem to have hitched a ride in the same container have started to spill out and spread into the border. I don’t really mind.

Finally, since the dogwood in the front garden is on its last legs, I decided to spare this redbud sapling that sprung up here a couple years back. We’ll need another tree here eventually, anyway, and clearly this redbud likes this spot.

Thanks as always to Carol Michel for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th of each month! As Elizabeth Lawrence said, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.”

COVID Vacation and a Sad Kitty

I was more irritated than concerned when the school nurse called earlier this year. Every time Connor coughs too loudly within earshot of particular people, especially in this era of COVID, he gets sent home sick… and has to have a doctor’s note to return.

My third-grader with allergies got sent home from school because of a cough and runny nose.

I understand the need for precautions, but it doesn’t make the experience any less annoying. This time, I decided to be extra thorough. Not only did I take him to Urgent Care to get evaluated, but I also requested the molecular (PCR) COVID test required by the Health Department for him to return to school. Even though they diagnosed him with an ear infection, so he had an alternative diagnosis. Even though he tested negative with the rapid test. Just to cover all bases.

Our path down the COVID flowchart took an unexpected turn when the PCR test came back positive.

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Dear Connor: Year Nine-and-a-Half

I wouldn’t normally post a Dear Connor letter for your half-birthday… but I didn’t post one for your ninth birthday, and 2020 was definitely NOT a normal year, so I don’t want to just skip it.

I suspect that someday, when you’re older and you look back on being eight years old, Second Grade will seem like a big blur of video games and remote schooling, with the occasional, “Wait, that happened when I was eight, too?”

Photo: Connor and Grammy playing a card game in Florida

I can remember pretty clearly being eight and nine years old, and it’s weird thinking about how I perceived myself when I was your age, versus how I see you now. You have a lot of the same curiosity and know-it-all attitude as I did, but you’re way crazier and more outgoing.

In the fall, you took a test that qualified you for the gifted program at school. You said that the 90 minutes of testing was a “nightmare,” which amused the teacher who was administering the test. It was a standard, old-school Scantron multiple choice test… but you’re used to tests on the computer, and you’re NOT used to testing for a couple of hours straight.

Now that you’re in GATE, you wish you weren’t, and you want to quit. You see it as busywork that takes you away from the things you’d rather be doing, like being social with your classmates. Luckily, once you qualify, you’re never disqualified; even if we decide that the enrichment activities in the elementary grades aren’t for you, you’ll still be able to enroll in the accelerated classes later on — and that’s really what matters to me. I wish they offered accelerated classes in the elementary grades, like I had at your age, but the program is what it is.

You have a very defined hierarchy of Things You’d Rather Be Doing. Most of those involve television or video games. Eating is pretty far down the list, but riding bikes with Dad used to be on the list (until you wore out your training wheels).

Reading for pleasure is something you only do when you have no other options: before bed, or during your scheduled reading time in the afternoon. This is completely foreign to me, as I read voraciously when I was as a kid — to be fair, though, I did love going to my best friend’s house to play Atari, and I would have done more gaming if I’d had my own console.

I know I tell you this a lot, but I’m really proud of you. You’ve stuck with karate for 2½ years. You always want to make people laugh. You’re secure in who you are.

You’re still only 9½, of course, so you still have a lot of growing and maturing to do… but you’re pretty awesome, all things considered.

Wesley and Connor