Monday, May 18, 2020

Week 2 of Me Made May

Day 8:  Work from home, just like every day, but have a brand new memade shirt to do it in!

Day 11:  Skipped a few days, then decided to start testing out some memades I wasn't 100% on - first up this shirt that I love the fabric of, but didn't account for how unstretchy of a knit it was when making it.  Verdict - life is too short for too tight and constricting clothes.  Onto the donate pile, even if it does make me a little sad.

Day 12:  Wanting to match my freshly dyed blue/purple hair, so pulled out an old favorite shirt - this one isn't going anywhere!

Day 13:  Back to evaluating my so-so garments.  This skirt started life as a dress that wasn't really me, so I chopped it off into a skirt.  Still not me, so I think I might put it back into the refashion pile, and maybe make shorts (which were what I intended to make with the fabric when I first bought it).

Day 14:  Back to another favorite shirt - I have a lot of strappy little tank tops that I love that I've made, now I just need to make some bottoms to go with them!  

Friday, May 8, 2020

Week 1 of Me Made May 2020!

Every year I sort of participate in Me Made May, which is a challenge of sorts for sewists to break out their me made garments and share what they wore.  Different people get different things out of it and have different focuses (foci?), but this year I'm not really putting any big pressure on it, just going to try and wear mostly me made garments and decide how I feel about them (a lot of my me mades languish in the back of my closet, because they aren't QUITE right).  The first week went pretty well, and I lasted 6 days before taking a break and not wearing any handmades, so we'll see if I can keep it up!

Day 1:  Work from home, basically just like every other day


Marilla Walker Mercury Collection top (hacked into a tank top)

Day 2:  Ventured out into the world for the first time in a while.  Headed to a garden center to stock up on plants and popped over to my gym to pick up a tank top.  Realized wearing a dress to garden in was silly, so changed into a me-made tank top and jean shorts when I got home.

Deer and Doe Plantain tee (hacked into a dress), me-made mask, and self-drafted tank top

Day 3: Went for a 10 mile run (since I was supposed to be running the Broad Street race today) and was really tired afterwards, so didn't do a whole lot on this beautiful Sunday (besides run 10 miles that is).

Gathered sides tank top, probably based on the Plantain tee but don't remember

Day 4:  Breaking out of my comfort zone on a WFH day to wear a dress!  I'm not much of a dress-wearer, but it is an easy way to get dressed, and I do love this one.  It was cold in the evening when I took Eddie the dog for a walk, so I threw on a pair of jeans and a sweater.  A little weird, but I figure that I have pink hair now, so I can wear whatever I want!

Dress started from the Grainline Studio Willow Tank Dress, but I added two ruffle tiers (and adjusted the dart to fit perfectly - I'm proud of that one)

Day 5:  Another day at home (but also Cinco De Mayo).  This top was an attempt to save a dress that I wasn't crazy about.  I'm not sure if I'm crazy about the top either, but it's better than the dress!

Day 6:  It was chilly, and I weirdly don't have a lot of cold-weather me mades (or maybe I put them away already).  While not something I would consider my typical style, I do love my thai silk jacket, and it is cozy!  I love to dress it down with a graphic tee.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Getting back into it

Back in February I was in a bit of a sewing slump, and just needed to get a project done - you ever get in that place?  I planned out an outfit that would be a black/cream striped tie-front tank that I had been thinking about for a while, with some cream pants to match. 

I started with the pants, which I wanted to be based on my TNT pull-on pants pattern, the True Bias Emerson pants, but I wanted them to be a bit narrower, so I overlaid them with the True Bias Hudson pants, and kinda eyeballed in between them.

I attempted to add back pockets, but when I tried them on, they were in a weird location, so I just left them off in the end.

Before I added the waistband, I tried them on and wasn't super into them.  Instead of being straight-leg pants, they seemed to be just a tad too big.  I hemmed and hawed, and decided that adding the waistband would make them look better. 

After I finished the pants waistband, I quickly whipped up the tank top (which had been sitting cut out on my shelf for several months).  I used again a TNT pattern, the Deer and Doe Plantain tee, with a modification that I had done a few times already - added a center front seam and really long ties.  It doesn't look too bad in the picture, but the neckband and armbands were a little wonky and it was also a bit big (the ribbed knit stretched a lot more than I thought it would).

Overall, I managed to sew a complete outfit and get a bit of my sewjo back, but I wasn't super happy with either piece.  I wore them both to church the next day, and managed to spill communion wine on my pants during clean-up - oops!  Luckily I wasn't too sad.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

I've got the bug to keep documenting my old sewing makes, so here goes!  Back in March, I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show, which I've been to several times, and it's awesome, you should go if you get the chance.  Anyway, while I was there, I saw a woman wearing a black and white striped knit long-sleeve dress with a puffy vest over it, and I thought it was super cute.  The next day, I made my own! 

Pattern:  Deer and Doe Plantain Tee
Pattern Hacks:  Lengthened to dress, and bound the neckline on the inside for a cleaner finish than a band.
Fabric:  light-weight 4-way stretch ponte from Emma One Sock, which is still available here!  I highly recommend it. 

I used one of my TNT patterns, which I've used a bazillion times, and it came together super fast.  Nothing too exciting here, but I was super happy to recreate a look that I loved (but didn't get a picture of).

Friday, April 17, 2020

A New Dress for Easter

I figured I might as well pick back up with the ol' blog during this whole #socialdistancing thing, and fill you all in my sewing lately!  I am taking a bit of a hiatus for a few weeks from sewing, seeing as how I tripped and fell while walking the dog and managed to break my arm (hairline fracture, not that bad, but not ideal, for sure!), but I have plenty to catch up on.  

Starting with my most recent make, I made a dress for Easter.  I like to dress up for Easter, even if I'm not going anywhere, and I currently have blue hair (going stir crazy at home), so decided to take my color matching to an extreme level and break out a treasured bright blue silk I brought back from Thailand five years ago. 

I drew up what I had in my head (oooh, that's another new thing - I took a fashion illustration class!), and used that as my starting point.

The Grainline Studio Willow Tank Dress is basically a sleeveless block for me at this point, as I have the fit just right and the dart adjusted to the right spot.  I started with that, and then took in the shoulders to be a bit more of a racerback fit, adding a keyhole, and adding a subtle curve up to the center.

Another fun new thing that I should probably write a separate post about is my new foamy Laura!  She's not quite done, but my husband made a custom dress form for me, which is super helpful in figuring out pattern adjustments.

I got nervous when it came time to cut into my silk, so figured I would do a wearable muslin shirt version.  I'm glad I did, because I screwed up the keyhole (it didn't actually close because I forgot about silly things like seam allowances), and messed up the burrito method of lining it, so I sacrificed this one entirely.  I did test out a v-neck instead though, and really liked it.  I also was able to determine that the ruffle was a bit intense, which was good, because I didn't have enough of the silk to do that dramatic of a ruffle!

I managed to keep my scraps to a pretty impressive minimum!

I french-seamed the whole thing, and added in-seam pockets.  I even made sure to attach the pockets all the way across the top to the bodice seam to keep them from dragging down the light-weight fabric.  The bodice is fully-lined using the burrito method (keeping all the seams enclosed), and I had stitched the lining down on the inside to keep everything clean.

I neglected to take a photo at this stage, but I wasn't happy once I was basically finished.  French-seaming the pockets caused it to hang a little weirdly, and it was giving me maternity vibes a bit too much for my taste.  I was going for loose and easy, not trying to hide a pregnancy!  Crowd-sourcing suggestions on IG led me to add in a waist tie, which cinched everything in and looked good!  It does make me look slightly like a child, but overall I'm pretty happy with it.


I've been on vacation the past week doing yard work, and happened to have a spare mulch pile to play around on!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

My Fitness Journey

I'm coming out of blog retirement to write about something not related to my usual blogging at all, but so be it.  I've been doing a little personal journaling lately, and have found it super helpful in getting clear about what I want to do going forward, how I feel about things, etc, and I thought it would be kind of fun to share (and document for myself) what has become a big part of my life over the past few years, getting in shape!

I've never been a super great athlete, but I have always considered myself a runner.  I had a brief stint playing soccer in high school, but I'm just too awkward (both physically and socially, I'll own it) for most coordinated team sports.  Anyways, I quickly discovered in high school I wasn't speedy enough to be a sprinter, so I've been a long-distance runner for over 20 years (with a big break in the middle).

After grad school, when I got a full-time job and didn't have convenient chunks of time for running, I slowly phased it out of my life, and as I got older, my metabolism caught up with me.  I didn't gain a lot of weight all at once, but a few pounds every year adds up over a decade or so.  I tried a few times over the years to get back into running, but another fun fact of getting older is that your body just isn't quite as ready to take a beating - I ran for a couple of months, pulled my calf muscle, rested a bit, ran again, still wasn't better, rested, ran again, still wasn't better, and finally gave up.  A few years later I thought it would be great to start running with Eddie, my dog, who had just turned a year old.  Unfortunately, he still wasn't great at walking calmly, let alone running, and the evasive maneuvers I had to pull to not step on him as he ran from side to side ended up screwing up my knee, so that put a stop to running that time.

A year or so after that, I was fed up again with being out of shape, so looked into various gyms (oh, I forgot to mention my monthly $10 donation to Planet Fitness, which I never used), personal trainers (because I haven't lifted weights since high school and had no idea what I was doing), but was a little intimidated by that much one-on-one time (again, physically and socially awkward).  I complained about being out of shapeand not knowing what to do to a friend, who invited me along to Orangetheory Fitness in January of 2018, a group HIIT class studio she had been going to for a few months.  I thought, why not give it a shot, and long story short, I've been hooked every since!

I loved it first because I didn't have to think at all about what to do, since the workout was different every time, but the coach would walk you through the whole thing, and having someone there to correct my form and motivate me (and push me out of my comfort zone) was exactly what I needed to get back into it.  Having the coaches remember what I could do and push me to do more was a huge motivator, as I'm a really big people pleaser.  I ran my first race in years, the Broad Street 10 Mile, that spring, and quickly upped my membership to unlimited, going around 4 times a week, plus a long run outside on the weekends.  I also improved my eating considerably (I'm not going to lie, if I have to track that I ate cheese and olives for dinner yet again, it makes me think twice about eating it), and that first year I lost 23 pounds, which was pretty close to what I was hoping for.  One of the best complements I've received was how svelte I was looking. :)  I ran the Philly half-marathon in the fall, and blew my Broad Street pace out of the water and was thrilled with my progress.

In addition to becoming physically fit again, I also had the side benefit of finding an awesome community (some may say cult), which I wasn't expecting at all.  I guess when you spend that much time with people who share the same interests, you're bound to become friends!  Work has gotten increasingly stressful the past few years, although I do still love what I do, and it turned out having the physical outlet was great for me both balancing my time a bit more by taking out that hour almost day for myself, and the whole endorphin happiness kick definitely helped me have a better outlook on life.

With all of my great improvements in my fitness though, I started to get a bit cocky my second year in.  I was training again for the Broad Street Run, anticipating a much better time, but after realizing I was going to be out of town for that weekend, I switched over to a half-marathon that would be in June.  I was pushing myself pretty hard, both with weights and the treadmills at OTF (faster, heavier, higher inclines), and thought I was ok because I was being really careful about my mileage not increasing too fast.  Fun lesson to learn, your body also takes into account intensity, who knew!  In May (a month before my half-marathon), I had some pain in my foot on my long run.  I took a week off, thinking I would be smart about it, ran 11 miles the next weekend and barely limped home at the end of that run.  Off to the doctor to learn I had a stress reaction (just before a fracture) in my foot and couldn't run for at least 6 weeks.  No spring half-marathon for me, but that's okay, because I had two half-marathons and a 10k I was signed up for in the fall.

I took off my six weeks and slowly got back into running and getting back to Orangetheory, and I actually did try to slow things down and not be too aggressive this time around.  Unfortunately my body had other unrelated plans a month later, which ended up with me having surgery to remove an ovarian cyst, an ovary, and a fallopian tube - fun times!  There went my next half-marathon, but I only had to take off a month before I could again slowly get back into things.

While I didn't have quite as much time off, having had a 2" incision in my abs did have an impact on my workout abilities, and at this point I was not at the top of my game like I was at the beginning of the year.  I started to get a bit down about not being as strong or fast as I had been, which led to me not being as motivated at working out, but I just needed to push through and run the final half-marathon of the year, which was going to mean I was back.  My fall ended up a bit hectic, and my training schedule got a little off, which was supposed to just feature one long run every Saturday, so I ended up doing a 10 mile run on a Saturday and then doing a 10k race on Sunday.  I felt good during the race, and ended up with a great pace, but my knee wasn't entirely happy after that - not bad, but I could tell I overdid it.  Again, I thought, just take a week off, and it'll be fine (you would think I would learn by now), just two weeks until my half marathon.  I cut way back on running those two weeks and did the half-marathon, but it wasn't quite the triumphal return I was hoping for.  At about mile 8 or 9, there was a sharp pain in my calf, so I stopped, stretched, walked, and then ran slowly, stopping every now and then for the last 4 miles.  I did it, but I didn't do it well.  I ran a 5k the next weekend, and again, sharp calf pain, plus the knee stuff was still off (it's all related, once you screw something up, it's a domino effect).  I ended up taking off all of December to try and recover.

In the middle of all this pushing too hard and injuring myself, having to take multiple breaks, I also was eating poorly again, and gained back about 10 of those pounds I lost, plus I just was feeling plain burned out.  I still loved OTF, but there was a decent amount of coach turnover the past year, and my not being there all the time made me feel a little disconnected and have a bit of a different view on the whole experience.  I was getting a little too caught up in competition and comparison and not giving myself a little needed grace.  I think I had invested so much energy into it the first year (I'm a bit of an all or nothing kind of person in basically everything I do), that it was hard to find balance with the rest of my life as well.  2018 was a high, and 2019 was a bit of a low.   

One thing I forgot to mention was how much of a data nerd I am, and how OTF was perfect for me in that regard - I was able to actually see my progress and improvement on multiple levels, and I even took it one step further by keeping my own spreadsheet of various metrics.  In some ways that was a negative when my progress took a negative turn, but it's still another way that I can enjoy my fitness journey - I just can't take it so seriously!

Which brings me to 2020!  I'm really focusing on that whole balance thing in many aspects of my life, and there are still areas that definitely need work, but I'm trying to approach fitness in a more balanced and intentional way that still leaves room for other stuff.  The first thing I did when I was thinking about being more intentional was to figure out what I wanted out of it - if I'm spending this much time, I should have a goal, right (even if that goal is to just have fun)?  While there is a lot I love about the group workout setting, running is my first love - something about just getting outside for an hour, not worrying about anyone around me, listening to my jams that my husband makes fun of me for, or just being along with my thoughts and moseying along on a long run is like nothing else and makes me feel centered.  With that in mind, I tried to think through what would best support that, and I think for me, that means I need to mix it up a bit to get out of my burn out period, as well as best support my running.

First and foremost, I'm going to prioritize my running over other workouts, and try to be a bit smarter about planning out my training schedule, so I don't end up cramming right before a race.  This will be one long, slow run on Saturdays, and at least one mid-distance slow-medium pace run during the week.  Eddie has been much better about running with me these days, so I'm going to try to take him out more and get him some exercise too!

OTF is an awesome does-it-all kind of workout, but I've essentially been using it as a speed workout for running (half of every class is on the treadmill), and it was just too much to have like 4 speed workouts a week.  It's still very much my community though, so I will never see myself going away!  I'm going to switch back to twice a week there, which I think will be a good balance for me.

I've been wanting to do more strength training, and did experiment by myself at Planet Fitness (actually using that membership once in a while now!), but I'm still not super comfortable doing anything beyond the sort of dumbbell workouts we do at OTF.  I had been a few times to Burn Boot Camp, which is more weight-training focused than Orangetheory, and has the advantage that the head trainer was one of my old coaches from OTF.  Because it doesn't have a dedicated cardio component, it's fitting well with my running on my own, and I'm planning on adding in at least a few days a week there as well.  While it's a bit weird to be the new kid when I'm so used to my Orangetheory #fitfam, there is definitely a very supportive environment there as well, and I've been enjoying it quite a bit.

While I'm definitely still in the middle of my fitness journey, I think it's useful to look back at where I've come, and reflect on what was good and bad, and recalibrate a bit where I'm going.  I've been doing a lot of work like this in multiple areas in my life lately, and it's easy to get mired in the details and not celebrate how far I've come, so hopefully being a bit more self-aware will help me be more balanced.  I tend to not do resolutions or word of the year or things of that nature, but if I did, I think my word for 2020 would be balance!