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This dress didn’t make an appearance during me-made-may but that was for lack of an occasion rather than any other reason. The one out of my two planned wedding guest dresses that got made, and in fact got worn for one of the intended weddings, a fortieth birthday and another unexpected wedding (as in the invitation was unexpected, not the occasion!). These photos were taken at the last wedding, on a sneaky wander around the grounds while the bridal party got their photos taken. It was cold & damp & I make stupid faces by talking to my “official photographer” so no photo dump overload here!!!

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The fabric is a wool mix I picked up in Murphy Sheehys, there’s definitely some acrylic in there because it dries super quick (both out of the washing machine and when people tip surplus guinness over me!!). The full dress is lined with a nothing in particular lining, it’s navy and I think actually the same as the grey stuff that I lined my minoru with back in the day.

I drafted the pattern for this myself, which is something I love to do. It’s really great to follow an idea through from a picture in your head, to lots of lines on a flat page, to a finished garment. I actually snapped some pics while I was in the process of drafting the pattern with the intention of doing a series of posts from inspiration to pattern to dress because someone said they’d be interested in the process but it’s been so long now I’m sure they’ve long forgotten that and I don’t have access to all my photos at the moment because my MacBook went to the Big Apple Store in the Sky *sob*.

Back to the dress; I folded out the shoulder darts so it’d be fitted through the shoulders but without the line of the dart, cut away the shoulders by coming in a sharp line from the armhole (and I must say I’m pretty happy with the shape of them and the faux collar piece), added an upper back bodice panel and a centre back pleat (for no other reason than I felt like it!) and sliced up from the hem into the bodice to spread and add lots of flare.

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There’s a major flaw with this dress which I’m going to go back and fix… the sh1tty plasticky horsehair braid that I ordered online because I’ve never come across it here in Dublin, that has got to come out, I’ve been putting off posting these pictures because the hem galls me so much!

Other than that I love the sweeping wide hem and the asymmetric buttons and plan on bringing dress into my winter wardrobe as part of a boots, tights & blazer combo. Also of note, this is incredibly fun to cheesy dance to, so much hem movement!

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Is work in progress the right phrase when you haven’t done any work on something for a few months?! I went to a quilting class over a number of weeks earlier this year. The final week clashed with a wedding I was attending at the end of March and I seem to have not gone back to my quilt to finish it off. It’s so big that I need to clear room on my kitchen floor to spread it out and tack the layers together in prep for the actual quilting. My machine has been giving me a bit of gip so I may wait until after I get it serviced before I tackle this one. So really this is more a reminder to get back to this, I definitely want it finished and hanging neatly over the back of my couch for when the weather turns cold…

Technology and life have meant I have been elsewhere than here, but I’m still around and still making and have lots to share. In the meantime I was thinking about this today…my picture of myself is not always the same as what you see. I don’t go all out vintage or have anything particularly defining about my style, but at the same time there is something distinctive enough to lead to comments of “that’s so you Louise”.

So I think I like a modern-leaning-towards-edgy-with-a-hint-of-retro look…could that sound any more pretentious?! I also have quite the grá for a gúna with a short &/ swingy Modish silhouette. And a decade-crossing fondness for little jackets. I don’t want all my clothes to be fitted, a good voluminous hemline or an airy back is good with me. That’s not to say taking the ease out doesn’t have a place. It very much does and I’ve spent most of the day dreaming about a fitted red ponte dress that I washed fabric for overnight.

Sometimes fitting the actual me and my wardrobe to the me in my head and the corresponding mental wardrobe (not all of which exists at this point in time) is a question of proportion. For example yesterday I was wearing one of my scout tees, a vest, jeans and shoes. My hair was un-brushed and dried au natural (read a scraggly affair!) and as is the norm for me a lot of the time, I’d no make up on. I popped into a big department store on my way through town to see if I could try on some boots that I had seen online (incidentally the answer to that was no and you’re not worth giving the time of day to so we’re not even going to come back and answer your question) and in doing so caught sight of myself in a mirror in a sea of tango’d, face painted, ladies. I looked a state. But not because of the lack of grooming. Granted it didn’t help, but the elements of my outfit just weren’t working together. My vest was too long and too pale. My top was sitting awkwardly because it was a home-dec fabric experiment, my jeans are old and on the way out and look better tucked inside knee high boots and my shoes were too slight. If I’d been wearing either boots or a bulkier pair of shoes the whole thing would’ve been pulled together better.

That’s what I mean about it being a matter of proportion. My shoes were too soft, too slight, they emphasised the narrow hem of my jeans in a way that made the upper half of them look awful. I was out of kilter rather than balanced.

Another example springs to mind in two recent makes which haven’t made it blog-ward yet; the Hey Jane Lane Raglan Tee that I made in sweatshirt fabric. I made the first one as per pattern, the second I took the pieces and drastically shortened the length through the body and the width of the waist, cuff and neck bands. The result is a shorter, snappier, more like a retro sweatshirt shape…more me!

Finding the time to make the as yet still mental parts of my wardrobe is an ongoing challenge but this just reminds me that the drape of a fabric, the shape of a garment and the weight of shoe/boot can be as vital as the clothes themselves in making the me in my head a reality for all to see.

 

favourite outfit, favourite outtake

favourite outfit, favourite outtake

May is over and with it me-made-may and the flood of pictures of me on my instagram feed. I had pledged to wear me-mades with the exception of tights, underwear and sports gear and for the most part that’s what I did. I had to wear a non-me-made jacket in Barcelona because I was expecting sun and hadn’t packed anything suitable for torrential downpour… and I had excluded sportswear because I needed it for training (the little that I did!). The exception to the exception was that I would make an item of sportswear and wear it for the Lough Cútra Triathlon. This did indeed happen and I’ll post about that top separately.

I uploaded my daily pictures onto instagram and also flickr. I must admit I found the flickr pool totally overwhelming in size but that made it all the better when I’d spot some of my favourite faces from previous challenges. I didn’t find the picture taking as much hassle as previous years but I also went for a more take a quick snap  on the phone approach rather than trying to get pictures that I thought looked decent, instead I embraced dark mirror shots and roped my “official photographer” as he calls himself into taking a picture for me if I was with him, and then gave my sister the job while we were away in Barcelona over the last few days of the month.

Me Made May covered multiple activities, travelled to different counties and even different countries, but the big question is am I happier with my clothes? The short answer is yes. I wear my me-mades all the time, they are in normal rotation, they’re not treated specially. But, taking out the RTW from the mix makes me so proud. Yea I still have the same gaps that I had already identified, and yea I think I could do with updating some pieces, but over all, I made it all and that shit makes me happy. I don’t depend on highstreet, or any other street, clothes shops, I’m rarely in them, and I’m happy to cut a chunk of that system out of my world.

I find there’s a lot of talk about “repeats” during me-made-may. A quick flick through my outfit snaps and you’ll quickly realise that I am not in the no-repeats camp. Quite frankly, it’s not a camp I believe in. I don’t have a need for 31 different outfits over the course of a month. Yea, I get that it’s good to think more about what you wear so you might combine your clothes in different combinations but as a whole, for me, less is more when it comes to shopping or wardrobing. A small well curated wardrobe is far more enviable than an overflowing but nothing to wear because nothing goes with each other and are all disparate styles wardrobe.

The other discovery of the month was that I’m a total Grainline Studios fangirl. I have 1 tiny pocket tank (still to be blogged), 2 archer shirts, and 4 scout tees (2 of which are still to be blogged), which were probably all worn more than once. The pic up top features two Grainline makes – the tank is underneath the shirt. That’s also a collage of my favourite outfit and my favourite outtake, there were only seconds between the two being taken!

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I’d been a bit out of sorts when I started writing this post, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I want to get done and like I was in a run of bad things happening one after the other. When I get in a funk like this everything looks bad to me – including my clothes. I realised this when a friend was looking through photos on my camera – mostly blog photos – and I was pointing out faults with each garment.

The thing is, that although some people (as in the ones that don’t really get me!) think I’m not interested in fashion because I don’t rush around buying all the things I actually love it. Not the fast-throwaway-fashion or the crazy-expensive-designer-name-for-the-sake-of-a-name-fashion, but the pure simple joy of what to wear. Of dreaming up an outfit in your head and making it happen.

I wear mostly me-made with a mix of what was already in my wardrobe when I made a conscious decision to stop shopping back in October 2010, after taking part in my first me-me-challenge (Self Stitched September). Both the pre-existing RTW and my me-mades are starting to show their age – in fairness I wear them pretty hard. I look at my wardrobe in annoyance – that pair of jeans I normally live in now have a broken zip, held up by a paperclip-keyring combo, the buttonhole has almost worn and frayed right through, there are paint stains on the legs and the odd run in the fabric. My other pair sprang a rip, out of no where too. I have three pieces of fabric to make replacement trousers – I just haven’t gotten round to it. I have three shirts I wear for work – the same three I made during that first Self Stitched September. They’ve seen better days.

I draw little distinction between what I wear for work and what I wear at home (apart from obvious things like  jeans and mini-skirts that don’t quite fit the office dress code!), they’re just combined differently. This doesn’t help with the hard-wearing of my clothes. While I still feel that I don’t need lots of clothes, I also think I have some things ripe for replacement and more would let me draw a distinction between office and home, and also extend the life of each item by slightly reducing wear.

So this isn’t an “I wear my me-mades all the time so sure I may as well take part in Me-Made-May” this is a “Me-Made-May help me fall in love with my clothes again”. I’ll be trying to identify the gaps in my wardrobe. Some of which are glaringly obvious, like trousers to replace my failing jeans, but I want to draft and perfect my trousers pattern so this one may be a slow burner, and we are coming into summer after all so skirts and shorts (with or without tights) will see me through while I work on them.

I normally exclude exercise clothing – I train for and race in triathlons – so some of the gear is beyond my current capabilities (I’m looking at you wetsuit!) and to date it just hasn’t been feasible between working, studying and training to make my own gear. But, like my other stuff, my exercise gear is now starting to show it’s age as well so it’s time for me to bite the bullet and make my own. I’ve got the Fehrtrade patterns for top (XYT Top) and bottoms (Duathlon shorts) so I’m planning on tackling one or both with the aim of racing in a me-made top or bottom for my first tri of the season (first Olympic Distance too dum dum dum!!!) towards the end of May.

So here’s to a month of embracing the me-made, upping the ante as Zoe would say, and of course standing awkwardly in front of the self timer!!

‘I, Louise, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear me-made outfits (excluding underwear, tights & Sportswear) each day for the duration of May 2014 and I will aim to be wearing something me-made for Lough Cutra Tri.’

What was meant to be 2 friends, 2 weddings, 2 dresses turned into, 3 friends, 3 weddings, 2 dresses, 1 or which I made and 1 of which I borrowed off my lil’sis in a panic. Not quite the same eh?! So I’d been planning on making two totally different dresses; the first was gonna be yellow silk with navy lace yoke and fitted, and turned out to be a fail due to a malfunctioning zip and exceedingly fraying fabric which meant I couldn’t replace the zip and still fit into the dress. After a little cry I went and borrowed a dress from my sister. A floor length one at that, which was a revelation, I felt very elegant and glamorous – not normal sensations for me at all!

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The second dress on the otherhand was to be loose, swingy, voluminous, and from an at the time to be determined fabric, possibly wool, preferably jewel toned. I have quite the grá for a particular style of Mod-Era dresses that are fitted through the shoulders and then swing out and away from the body. This was the kind of feeling I was going for, one I’ve tried to capture before but never successfully.

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A friend in the office showed me this dress ages ago and it stuck with me. Except I envisaged it less pink, heavier and with more swing! Like a LOT more swing ;-)

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So I got to sketching and thinking and generally mulling everything over – this part takes me quite a while. I mentally draft the pattern and sew it up several times before I ever actually do anything. Is it fear that I won’t do my idea justice, or that once it comes out of my head and becomes reality it’s just not that good? Who knows, but it’s lengthy process nonetheless.

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