#mmmay18 reflections

Some tops I didn't wear during this year.'s #mmmay. 

Last year, having a pair of handmade jeans made a huge difference in my Me Made May experience—during previous years I had really felt the challenge, but last year it felt a lot more natural getting dressed in the morning.

This year I really felt like I had bottoms covered: I now have gingers in black and white in addition to my original blue denim version, and I have skirts in basically every color (mostly variations of the Sewaholic Rae if made within the past year, or dirndls if they’re a bit older). I also have a collection of dresses that I can easily pull from for any kind of occasion: cocktail dresses, sundresses, work dresses. I reached for a few favorites (my leopard print 60s swing dress and my seersucker 60s fit and flare) several times throughout the month and even did some alterations on an old favorite dress that could fit better (now it does!).

My main stumbling block was tops. I don’t love sewing tops in general—they always seems like just as much work to make as a dress with only half the payout—so I have made many fewer tops in my sewing career than I have dresses or skirts. Additionally, I have two issues with the tops I have made. The first is fit. Several of my tops are just too small for me. I don’t think I’ve gained that much weight recently, so I think it’s mostly an issue of feeling less comfortable in tight clothes now than I was a few years ago—as my fitting skills have improved I’m less tolerant of poor fit and tightness! The second is style. Again, I have a few really cute tops that don’t get worn that often because I have a hard time styling them, don’t like they silhouette, or feel awkward wearing them.

This is the useful part of Me Made May, I think: although I generally wear handmade almost every day already, I don't usually spend a lot of time actively thinking about it. May provides a good opportunity for some reflection and hopefully, a little more focus in my sewing for the rest of the year. Going forward, I want to be a little more discerning in my tops sewing, and focus on making a few everyday-wear tops using patterns I have made previously, I like, and that fit me nicely:

1. Sewaholic Granville: I wore both of my Granvilles (one, two) several times over the course of the month. This is a style I know how to wear and it goes well with both jeans and full skirts: it’s a winner.

2. Sewaholic Pendrell: Similar to the above, this top works well with jeans or skirts, and although it’s super long as written, fits really nicely over my body and has a lot of variations. I just wish it had a real sleeve option! You'll be seeing my first (and probably second) versions sometime soon!

3. Sewaholic Renfrew: Although I don’t love sewing tee shirts, this will be the tee pattern I turn to for the duration of the RTW fast. After the fast, I’ll probably go back to buying tee shirts from Grana. (You'll see my first version of this soon as well.)

Noticing a theme? I have really grown to love Sewaholic patterns—their tops fit me really well out of the envelope and are easy and practical to wear. I'd also like to return to another Sewaholic pattern I attempted a few years ago and could not figure out...

4. Sewaholic Belcarra: I've been searching off and on for a woven everyday top pattern with sleeves for a while. I originally bought this pattern to serve this purpose, and although it didn't work for me the first time, I'm ready to give it another shot. I couldnt get any of the pattern pieces to fit together last time... I suspect it was my super-drapey rayon that was shifting and the pattern is actually fine. Actually, I pulled out the half-completed version I had in a drawer and it's much further along than I remembered and looks fine. 

That gives me patterns from my stash for a knit tee, a classic shirt, a shell, and a nice blouse in addition to my go-to cami (the Ogden). That's really all I need in an everyday shirt wardrobe, right? Better get sewing! First--donating some of my old handmade tees to free up some hangers :)

What are your favorite top patterns?


ps: i also have the bow-neck sewaholic blouse pattern ... i have an addiction!

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Two Wedding Weekend Looks

casual outfit details: 
shorts, top (and free embroidery pattern!), earrings, bag, shoes

dressy outfit details:
dress, shoes

One of my best friends Lauren got married in this weekend! Any excuse to escape for a weekend in Charlottesville is a good one in my opinion, and a wedding makes it extra extra special. I traveled down in my casual white outfit--since linen is already wrinkly I love it for traveling! There's a free embroidery pattern that goes along with this top if you click the link above--I designed it myself and it really makes this piece extra special.

I wore the same accessories for both looks for an extra-quick change and snapped these photos of my outfit before the rehearsal since I wore this absolute favorite dress, a Papercut Adrift in hot pink rayon. Last year I made this to replace another well-loved pink rayon dress and predicted that it would become my go-to party dress--I was correct. I brought this on the cruise and have worn it to about a million events since last summer! Paired with nude sandals your legs look about a mile long.


ps: aren't these earrings amazing? i want them in every color.

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Date Night

Outfit details: 
crop top, white jeans, clutch (old, inspo bag by Matine), shoes (old, similar here)

Last week Alex and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary with a nice dinner at Vin Rouge, the restaurant where he proposed. I've been dying to pair this wrap crop top with  high-waisted jeans and I thought this would be a good opportunity. I've been so excited to see lots of versions of V9291 + skirt popping up on instagram... I can't take credit for inventing this idea but I can say I'm obsessed with it as a combo dress! I like it as a top too, but I do think your pants have to be seriously. high. waisted. to wear it because I'm pretty short waisted and there's a decent chunk of skin showing.

Isn't this bag cute? My mom made it and I've resolved to use it lots this spring and summer and get it properly worn in... but then again, I do love the pale, nude shade of vegetable tanned leather!

Alex took these really quickly before our dinner reservation on his iPhone, and I'm not 100% on them. I know a lot of you take all your blog photos on your phones and they look great! Any tips for great iPhone photography for people who tragically don't have portrait mode?


ps: nothing like taking 100 photos of your wife to be reminded of how much you love her, right? right??

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Miss Fisher Style (Deer and Doe Narcisse)

Thank you to Deer and Doe for providing their new Narcisse pattern, and to Organic Cotton Plus for providing the cotton chambray.

Do you watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries? It's one of the few book-based shows that I, a librarian, think is even better than the books! Casting Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher was a stroke of genius, adding the romantic tension between Jack and Phryne is a nice touch, honestly the only complaint I have is that Lin Chung was poorly cast but also his character should be in every episode... but any complaint I have is easily ignored due to the absolutely wonderful costumes. The 20s have never held any sway over me; it's not a good style on my body type and I hate a drop waist more than anything else (beside puff sleeves--so the 40s are right out as well). However, Essie Davis's costumes are consistently drop dead gorgeous. I've been rewatching the series recently after having read some more of the books while on my cruise, and obsessing over a specific pair of white pants she wears often, so when Deer and Doe asked me if I wanted a copy of their new wide-legged pants I was so excited to make some Miss Fisher Pants of my own!

Obviously wide-leg white pants aren't super practical for daily wear, but I still wanted something light and airy-looking, so I chose a pale yellow chambray from Organic Cotton Plus. Chambray is one of the suggested fabrics, but this one is a bit on the light side, I think. In a darker color it wouldn't be a problem (and there are a few really pretty dark greens) but you can see my pocket through the fabric. Other than that it was lovely to work with and feel amazing on--come August and really hot weather I think I will be living in these pants.

As far as sizing, I went a bit off-piste. I started by grading between a 36 at the waist and a 40 at the hip, but then I panicked slightly and decided to cut my side strips extra wide just in case. I ended up relying on that extra space because the pants felt tight through the front thigh. I will say that it was tricky for me to fit these pants because I've never worn pants like these, at least not for years and years, so I wasn't always sure how they should feel. I also added an inch to the length, and should have added more--I took a little baby hem to preserve the length and I wish they were a touch longer (I'm 5'7"). In the end, I think my strange fitting method worked out well--although the fit isn't perfect they are definitely wearable and rather cute!

The welt pocket instructions are great, and it was only laziness that prevented me from adding the second back pocket. I also skipped the in-seam front pockets, since I knew that in this light fabric, I wouldn't want to put anything in the front pockets anyway; it would be visibly lumpy! If you use a slightly more bulky fabric, though, having 4 functional pockets on a pair of trousers is quite a luxury--you have space for your pearl-handled revolver and your business cards and your lipstick and a handkerchief, as well. I think my Phryne Fisher-inspired outfit turned out well--no drop waisted dresses here, just waist-defining wide-leg pants. Paired with the kimono from the same collection you'll have a whole Miss Fisher look!

ps: the tank i'm wearing was originally seen here, also with yellow!

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Inspiration: Gal Meets Glam Collection Dresses

Gal Meets Glam Tie Waist Dress available at Nordstrom: dupe with Vogue 2401, slim down collar and use a drapier fabric than recommended.

If you've followed me for a while you know that I love Julia of Gal Meets Glam. She's such an inspiration, not only for her ladylike style, but also her business savvy: this past week she just launched her first collection of ready to wear dresses!

Tragically, I like lots of them. Tragic because it's Ready to Wear Fast and I have sworn off clothing purchases for a whole year! Apparently she didn't feel the need to ask me personally if the timing was right and work around my schedule... I'm assuming that these will pop up on resale sites and I can reconsider them once my fast is over, but until then I thought I'd pick some favorites and try to find some similar patterns so you can make the look! Bonus for sewers: you can make it fit perfectly! Julia's dresses fit her really well (duh) but look at them on her BFF Rosie; the white one fits okay but the blue one's bodice is much too long on Rose.

Rose is similar to Butterick 6333 or the Cashmerette Lenox. 
Use the bodice of either pattern, scoop out the shoulder a bit, and apply the top part only of the button band. Add a 3/4 circle skirt. Since the button band does not extend through the waist you'll have to add a side seam invisible zipper. 

Yvonne is similar to Simplicity 8380
Lengthen the skirt and draft a bow for the shoulder or use wide ribbon.

The Ellie, with its elastic waist, can be hacked from McCall's 7530
Finish your neckline using exposed bias binding and add binding to sleeve hems (if you want them puffed you'll have to slash and spread). Apply bias binding bows down the front. Butterick 6450 is also similar but has gathering from the neckline.

There are a few McCall's patterns similar to, but not quite the same as, the Haley dress. 
McCall's 7264 has a similar sleeve, neckline, and waistband, but no ruffles and a gathered skirt. McCall's 7431 has an even closer sleeve, very similar neckline, but has an elastic waist for a more casual look. McCall's 7537 has similar ruffles and sleeves, but a cummerbund waist. If you feel confident drafting some ruffles (or borrowing them from another pattern), I think M7264 is the closest. (ps: the Susie from her collection can also be replicated using these patterns!)

The Anne is a wrap dress with a notched collar--an unusual and adorable combination! This isn't a very popular modern combination but there are lots and lots of similar vintage patterns from the 40s-80s especially on etsy! Some are called "brunch coats" or "house coats" and they all have a similar robe/dress vibe as this one. I actually bought a copy of this 60s pattern, McCall's 7832 from 1965, which is nearly perfect for the Anne. (ps: be careful of fabric selection for this project or it really will look like a robe rather than a dress!)

The Colleen dress is unique and it took me a while to find a similar pattern, but the Nina Lee Kew pattern is so perfect! It has a view that is very close--just slash and spread the sleeves to add gathers and make 4 shoulder straps instead of two, so you can add the shoulder ties.

Start with a strapless dress like McCall's 6838 or Vogue 8766 and add grosgrain shoulder straps with bows and a pleated skirt to get the look of the Helen. This is a really basic silhouette, and the embroidered fabric is the star.

Emma is a tricky one... personally, I would start with a peplum top with a collar and sleeves like McCall's 7508 view a or Simplicity 1425 view d (other views have a yoke, but in the wrong spot), then cut across the center and side front pieces just at the armscye to make a yoke and add that ruffle insert. There are added ruffles on the collar, sleeves, and hem as well. As for the skirt, any well-fitting a-line skirt pattern can be modified to have that shirt-tail hem. That's a lot of hacking though. Do you know of a better starting point pattern?

Vogue 9252 is the closest match I could find for the bodice of the Evelyn, my favorite dress in the collection! and V9252 has the princess seams and the back is really close, but the front isn't as cut away as the Evelyn--scoop out the front and pin the straps to fit at center front, then add a coordinating bow made using bias tape or a little tube of fabric. You can easily add pleats to the paneled skirt to match the Evelyn, but I think the original high-low skirt of the pattern would also be lovely with the altered Evelyn-inspired bodice!

Julia has said that the Gal Meets Clam collection will launch new dresses every month, so I don't see myself ever running out of dress inspiration! Which dress is your favorite of the collection?


ps: i didn't do every dress since it would be a really long post... is there a dress I skipped that you love? let me know and i'll try and track down a similar pattern--there are so many dresses in the collection i couldn't fit them all in one post!

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Black and Blue (and my Me Made May Pledge)

Outfit details: 
peplum top, crop top layered over, black jeans, black pumps, black bag (old, similar here)

It's time for Me Made May! This month on the blog, I'll be focusing on re-wearing clothes I already have, as opposed to making new ones, and I'm really looking forward to sharing some of my outfits and taking some new photos of old pieces I love. Here's my official pledge:

I, Allie, of alliemjackson.com, pledge to wear handmade every day of May. 

I've made this same pledge before, but this year I'm excited to see how much I can push myself to steer clear of store-bought clothes and wear only handmade.

When I asked about sharing styled outfits vs. pattern reviews over on instagram, y'all really surprised me with lots of you asking for more outfits and item repeats! One challenge for sewing bloggers is that pieces get photographed and then they disappear into the ether--sometimes they are getting shoved to the back of the closet, and sometimes they are getting worn every week, and you can never quite tell based on that initial blog post! I'll be playing fashion blogger this month, dragging my husband around to take lots of outfit shots and keeping my DSLR in my purse. Most of the action will be on instagram (especially stories, for daily looks) but I'm going to try and do full blog posts twice a week here as well!

Tuesdays like today will be the toughest day I think, since every week I lead a baby storytime at work that means I sit crosslegged in front of a bunch of people and denim jeans aren't allowed per our office dress code. Expect to see these black jeans every Tuesday, since I don't have any other appropriate handmade pants! Today they're paired with a bunch of layers: a coordinating crop top and peplum and I brought along a black cardigan to work in case its chilly. I don't always dress up my black jeans when I wear them to work, but today I paired them with little pumps, my go-to black shoes. I wanted to get off to a good start for the month!

I love to hear what y'all are looking for for this blog--pretty pictures? full pattern reviews? DIYs? something else entirely?


ps: i really am wearing this outfit today! 

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