Me Made May ’15 Week 3

Me Made May Week 3

Second to last week of the challenge. Day 9: Stinking hot outside, spent the day sewing with a fan pointed at me and wearing the breezy Maya dress. Day 10: went swimming in the James River with friends, me-made bikini top, quick-dry shorts and river shoes. Day 11: Hot again. Ditched the dress and wore this cami with shorts. More sewing. Day 12: As-yet-unblogged maxi dress. And a raincoat (cause it rained). And the ever present pair of birkenstocks. Reflections: I wear a lot of dresses. I should make more. I need to find my bikini bottoms.

I’ve been following the Flickr group to see all the garments people have made and are wearing, and I’m consistently amazed at the variety and creativity ever present in the sewing community. A few of my favorites so far include this blue coat, these matching tops, and this parrot t-shirt. One week (and change) left!

Me Made May ’15 Week 2

Me Made May Week 2

Week two has come and gone. Here are the results (left to right, top to bottom). Day five was this blue wrap dress I made a while back, over some stretchy shorts. On day six I wore this dress I made for a tutorial on Sew Mama Sew last summer. Day seven was this homemade t-shirt and day eight was my much-loved Nettie dress over leggings (picture taken just before I went to the library). On day seven I wore RTW clothing out for some drinks with friends- a midi skirt and crop top- both are things I haven’t made before but wear often and have missed this month, so I think a long skirt will be next on my sewing table. My latest project can be seen behind me on day eight- simple panel curtains for my new room. I’ll dub this week another successful endeavor.

Me Made May ’15 Week 1


Me Made May Week 1

Let the outfit spam commence! Here’s week one of Me-Made-May. Two tops, two dresses, one cold and rainy day and three sunny and hot. Three pictures of me not looking at the camera and three days of sandals. From left to right, top to bottom: Coppelia sweatshirt with jeans (and boots, and raincoat), Hemlock top with cargo shorts, anti-shoulder pads dress, and red pinstripe dress (upcycled and unblogged). On days two, three, and four I moved to a new apartment in Richmond.  It hasn’t been too hard to find something to wear (that I made and is semi-appropriate for the day’s activities) on the four days a week when I don’t have to wear scrubs (nursing FTW yo).  The dresses weren’t the easiest thing to haul boxes in, but I wore shorts under them and they held up fine. I even carried a couch up a flight of stairs in Birkenstocks. Today I’ve been unpacking and settling in. We shall see if the trend continues next week…

Me Made May ’15

me made may

This year I’m participating in the Me Made May challenge. For those of you less familiar with the sewing blog world, this is a month where people who love to sew/knit/make clothing are encouraged to actually wear the stuff they make. And document it.

I, Claire, of Hoopes Park Studios, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavor to wear at least one thing I’ve made three times a week for the duration of May 2015. 

And there will be a weekly roundup on the blog. I’m hoping that this will give me a more clear view of what I like to wear and what I should make next.


More maternity wear!

maternity dress

Another friend in the lineup of my friends who are having babies asked me to make her a maternity dress. I found a yellow trapeze dress I made years ago (but never wore) that sorta fit her, but figured I owed her something actually her size that she could wear after pregnancy too. (side note- I don’t expect to get around to having kids till my 30’s, by which time I will have made so much maternity wear that I won’t actually have to make any for myself- I’ll just ask for my friends to loan it back to me!)

It was a quick project. Denver put up with me spread out on the floor for a morning (that girl should win a gold medal for all the jumping over pins and fabric on the living room floor I put her through). The top half is Nettie size 14, and the bottom is two rectangles (~40 x 22) gathered and attached to the top. I added 1/4″ elastic at the waistline for support.  I left the bottom edge raw and serged the armholes to finish them. Fabric is 2 yds of some polyester/lycra knit from JoAnns.

It’s big on me (she is significantly taller than I), so fingers crossed that it fits her. I sent it off Friday. No more squeezing into your old summer dresses! Claire to the rescue!

Maternity dress


Maya dress

Maya Shift Dress

I’ll have to say- I wasn’t sure about shift dresses. I tend to steer toward more hourglass-y things and shift dresses had me running in the opposite direction. But then Marilla released the Maya dress.

I first met Marilla Walker through a nametag swap in 2014. Since then, we’ve kept in touch, and formed a pretty nice trans-atlantic blogger friendship. Mostly she posts and I read. When she published her first pattern, she was generous enough to send me a free copy (since I’d been oohing and aahing over all her makes’ simple silhouettes and lush fabrics). I finally found the right fabric for my Maya in January, then took a deep breath and dove into a new kind of dress.

Maya Shift Dress

My version of Maya is made from a cotton tapestry that my sister brought back from her travels in Spain. All the little blue and white flowers were why I chose the fabric for this dress, but nearly a third of the pattern was not on grain! While cutting, I had to divide the front of the dress into 4 parts to get the flowers to line up. The pattern lines up horizontally at the expense of the center front seam.  I made a combined View C and D- the top half of the dress is View D (with snaps rather than buttons) and the bottom half is view C. The back is all one piece. The insides are finished with french seams or facings. I only needed to subtract a few inches from the hem  and one inch widthwise to make the dress pattern petite.

E-DSC_0122 (2)

Marilla certainly knows how to make a pattern! Maya is drafted exceedingly well and the dress is easy to fit. I especially like that the instructions walk you through some simple finishes to make the inside of the dress as pretty as the outside, eg french seams and facings. I would have liked to see a few more diagrams, but an advanced beginner wouldn’t have any trouble making this dress.  Since Maya, Marilla has published a number of other patterns including a skirt, leggings, and a coat. You can find her patterns in her Etsy shop here.

All this winter I wore my Maya with leggings, boots and a long sweater. I had intended to add elastic or a belt to the waist, but I found that I really liked wearing the simple shift shape and decided to omit the belt. Now that the weather is warmer the loose shape is a welcome alternative to tight clothing (and the warm weather is making it easier to photograph my winter sewing backlog).

Maya dress


DIY Kimono

I found the kimonos in a used bookstore, on a rack tucked behind rows of shelves. I had ducked into the shop in DC one brisk day and had been searching through the handicraft section for books to add to my sewing library. Finding nothing of interest, I turned to browse the rest of the store, and came upon a rack crammed with kimonos. My hands eagerly turned them inside out so I could gaze at the seams, ran down the collars to feel the interfacing, examined the slits, hems and finishes and held each one up to see the size. I had just picked up another couple yards of silk (hadn’t bought enough the first time), and was planning on getting to work on my kimono when I got home. Good timing.


DIY Kimono

This is the free kimono pattern by Ralph Pink. I graded from a UK 10 to a US size 6, and then made it petite. This basically involved a lot of chopping and folding and retaping of all the pattern pieces (a couple inches widthwise and about 10 inches off of the length). I had to redraw the neckline piece but everything else was straightforward (tell me in the comments if you want to know more about this). The only piece I interfaced was the neckline, with medium-heavy weight fusible interfacing. The fabric is so slippery that it needs a structural neckline to keep the garment on the wearer. The fabric- all 4.5 yards- is from the Silk Trading Company in Richmond- best fabric store in town!

DIY Kimono

The pattern doesn’t have instructions, but construction is straightforward. If you used a less tricky fabric than silk, it could be an easy beginner project. I used mostly french seams (there are some seams on the sleeves that are partway open, so I just serged them, rolled them under twice and topstitched). The hem I attached bias binding from my never ending bias tape stash, turned it under and topstitched (so the curved hem would have a little more weight). The neckline I had originally burrito’d before adding the sleeves, but after realizing I had attached it backwards I had to rip it off and sew it back on. So now there’s some topstitching, but I like it more than I thought I would. The sleeves end mid forearm; the length hits just above my ankles. Just the right lengths to cover me without getting in the way.


DIY Kimono

The kimono has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe (<- code for “I wear it every single morning instead of getting dressed”).  It is comfortable and slinky and just the right weight for hanging out and reading/eating breakfast/sewing on a cool spring morning. Well worth the $$ spent on the gorgeous silk fabric. As long as I don’t cook in it I’m confident it will hold up and last for years. Which is good because it’s been getting tons of use and it feels soooo good to wear.


Setbacks and a coat update

Kimono in progress

You know how you’re working on a project, and it is going so well, rolling along smoothly like a car on a freshly paved road on a sunny day, and then you hit a really big bump. Out of nowhere. With this kimono project, that exact thing happened. I’d been lovingly poring over 4.5 yards of drapey, ivory silk replete with luscious hydrangeas, red berries and blue daisies. I took great care, from cutting in a single layer to the french seams and the burrito’d collar. I planned every detail of this project to ensure I would not have to subject this beautiful, delicate fabric to any seam ripping. And then, just before putting the finishing touches on the garment, I realized I made a big mistake at the beginning- I attached the collar of the kimono backwards. So I ripped out that beautiful burrito finish you see in the pictures. I flipped it around and am now stuck deciding between top stitching or hand stitching the collar in place.

A similar thing happened to the coat I made this winter. The muslin fit, but when I tried on the almost finished project, it turned out that I had made the shoulders waaayy too huge. And then other, smaller, more immediately satisfying projects stole me away from the coat. It is folded, unfinished, in my stash, waiting for the day when I have the energy to rip the entire coat apart, cut the pieces smaller, and then reconstruct it. A dizzying prospect. But I will not allow my kimono to meet the same end as the coat. I’m swearing a solemn vow, right here on this blog, not to start another project until my kimono is finished.

I’m getting better at working around setbacks, but they still (obviously) slow down or halt a project completely. What do you do when you realize you’ve made a mistake? Do you take a break? Abandon the project or push through?

kimono in progress

Finally… socks!

knitting socks

Every crafter has a bucket list of things she or he has always wanted to try. Today, I can proudly cross an item off of my bucket list. It has been three months since I first wrote this post detailing my intentions to knit a pair of socks. And what a journey. Sock number one took two and a half months. Sock two took two weeks (it is amazing how fast the process goes once you know what you’re doing).  The process was only slightly complicated by the cat’s infatuation with my yarn ball.

knitting socks

They’re not perfect, but they’re mine. And I have all the memories from four months of knitting and purling row upon row of tiny stitches. The winter I was 25 will forever be memorable for all the cold mornings I stayed in bed to knit myself a pair of socks. Should I ever find myself in need of another pair of hand-knit socks, I know how to make them. Another tool in the toolbox!

The pattern I used was the Campfire Socks pattern (free on Ravelry– and I wholeheartedly recommend it). The yarn was gifted to me by my friend Adrienne, who also graciously answered countless questions (merci mille fois!). In the end, the cost of these socks is the cost of the $2 knitting needles from the craft store. Not bad for what was one of my longest running and most favorite projects.

knit socks

I love these socks. The thick railroad rib pattern gives them great stretch and recovery. The thick wool yarn is warm and cozy. I somehow managed to avoid the dreaded “holey gusset syndrome” after turning the heel (my favorite part of sock knitting), so these socks are solid.

I think I will stick with knitting; I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making these socks (perhaps more than sewing? Don’t tell my machine). And I’m sad to think that I will not have another knitting project to pick up after this. Any suggestions for sock or other knitting patterns? I’m considering trying to knit two socks at the same time from the toe -> up.

knitting socks

Does your smoke alarm work? Go check it. Right now.


There’s something I want to talk about. And since this blog is the stage on which I rest my soapbox, I figured now is a good time to climb up and rant my little heart out.

Three nights ago I woke up to a house filled with acrid, white smoke. I was having trouble breathing but was so incredibly sleepy that I was tempted to just close my eyes and stop living. Sitting here now, writing this, I am glad I did not. When I noticed that my boyfriend lying next to me in bed was breathing at an alarmingly fast rate, my adrenaline finally kicked in and I got up. I shook him awake and went to wake up his roommates (fortunately, they were still out at a party). After convincing him to leave the house (he was as sleepy as I) and putting out the fire in the woodstove, that first breath of fresh air tasted like life. We spent the night on the neighbor’s couch. I stayed up watching him breathe until he stopped panting and I was sure he was okay. Then I fell asleep. It occurred to me to call 911, but in my smoke-addled state, it seemed like too much trouble. Days later, my voice is hoarse, my nose and throat still sting, and many showers later, my hair still smells like smoke. I’ve been chewing gum to erase the taste of smoke from my mouth and my cheeks have finally faded from the bright pink of carbon monoxide poisoning to a more normal color.

All of this would have been prevented if the smoke alarm worked, if those little batteries had been replaced. I am incredibly lucky to have woken up. I may sound glib or short but the experience shook me.

The past couple days I’ve been processing the stress of waking up and having to be the person who sounds the alarm and deals with the drama. I don’t like drama, but I do like being the solution. I know that I can deal with a crisis but I wish that damn smoke detector had been working. Facing my mortality is not something I wanted to do on Valentine’s day.

The next morning it turned out that a wind storm had damaged the chimney. The house is heated by a wood stove, and all that smoke, instead of being pulled up the chimney, was instead blown inside the house, where it collected for hours. And thus I had a brief brush with death, and with losing a man for whom I care deeply.

So this is a call to action for you, my dear reader. Go and make sure your smoke detector works. It is much more important than you may believe. Do it. Right now.


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