FO: hemlock tee

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I’ve been enjoying following Me Made May again this year, but with how busy it’s been in my house – prepping for an international move, then a parental visit – trying to actively take part really hasn’t been practical. There definitely haven’t been many opportunities to actually create new items of clothing. I decided to set aside an afternoon while my parents were here, though, to sit down and sew something I’ve been meaning to sew for months: the Hemlock Tee. It’s a free pattern from Grainline Studio, designed for knits. Ever since Me Made May rekindled my desire to sew last year, I’ve wanted to tackle knits.

When I was in high school I did a lot of sewing, but I was never a technical sewer – I was very DIY make-it-up-as-I-go-along about it all. I think I wrote about this last year, but it’s been so interesting to return to sewing after reaching such a professional level with my knitting. My knitting skills are pretty polished at this point and I know so much about technique, fit, and designing – so to come back to sewing means realizing I know next to nothing about the technical aspects of sewing garments. I was pretty sloppy in high school and I really didn’t care, but now I want my hand sewn garments to reflect the level of polish I’ve come to expect from my knits. It’s challenging, to feel like you’re going back to being a beginner at something (and for that reason, it’s probably a very good exercise for me, too).

In any case, when I bought this grey and white striped fabric (from Drygoods Design in Seattle – I *think* it’s this one), I had originally slated it to become a Linden. I even bought the pattern with it. But as it sat on the shelf, waiting for me to have time to make it, and as I looked into ribbing and trying to find a good ribbing to match the fabric, I started to think that perhaps I should start simpler. I’d still love to make a Linden, but the one-size oversized free Hemlock Tee felt like it might be less ambitious. (For those of you who sew regularly, the Linden might not seem that ambitious, but I really need baby steps here. I’m sloooow at sewing and it takes way more attention to complete simple tasks than it should because I so rarely do it.)

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This super simple tee still took me the better part of an entire afternoon. There are plenty of reasons for that – I used my regular machine with a walking foot put on, and I had to figure out how to install the walking foot before I could even test it out. I also started off using a triple stretch stitch (recommended for knits if you’re not using a serger) but that was causing some serious issues with the shuttle in my machine and I broke a few needles before I exasperatedly gave up on that and switched to a normal straight stitch (since it’s an oversized tee, I think it’ll do okay).

I felt unsure about the length of the sleeves, so I didn’t actually hem/finish the sleeve cuffs – since it’s a fine gauge knit, the fabric won’t really fray or do anything terrible, and I’ve just rolled up the sleeves for now so they’re closer to elbow length. I also shortened the overall length of the tee, cutting off several inches of fabric before hemming it. I think it suits me better than the longer length did.

While I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the process of actually sewing it (I think it will take a lot more sewing practice before I can really enjoy sewing a garment) I’m fairly happy with the end result, even though I can spot all the flaws. At a glance, most people won’t notice those, and this tee’s definitely my style and is very at home in my wardrobe. I think it’ll transition super well from a summer piece to a winter piece – it’s very layerable, and I can already picture it with a huge scarf around my neck.

So this will very likely be my one make for the month of Me Made May. I’m still grateful for the excuse to think a little bit harder about what I’m putting on in the morning and where it came from, and I’m definitely grateful for the month of inspiration that comes with so many people sharing their handmade wardrobes day after day. I’ll be doing a lot of culling of clothes before we fly to Tromsø, trying to pare down and really only bring essentials or things I really love, and this month has made it easier to think about what I want to keep and what I’d like to let go of.

Are any of you participating in Me Made May this year?

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thursday thoughts

Today marked the start of Me Made May, and while I’m not officially taking part in it, I hope I’ll wear plenty of my handknits when the weather allows. The timing is cause for reflection, for me, as I’ve found myself itching to get back into sewing lately. I used to sew fairly often when I was in high school and through my first year or two of college, but as knitting gained greater prominence in my life, the sewing machine started gathering dust. I’m realizing now, as I’m thinking about taking it up again, that I’ve always been a bit of a “Well, that’s good enough!” seamstress; a little sloppy, if functional. I’d like to do better than that. I decided to pick a simple project to get back into sewing. I want to sew something that’s simple enough that I won’t feel like I’m in over my head, but that will be something I’ll actually wear regularly. I also decided I’d like to try a sewing pattern by an independent company, which is a corner of the sewing world I hadn’t explored before. I’m pretty sure I’ve made my decision; I’ve already purchased the pattern, and I basically just need to choose fabric and pick up the few notions needed.

0b2613b9b7b57831-easyshortsleevedkimonodresspatternrunway(Image via Pattern Runway)

I landed on the Easy Short Sleeved Kimono Dress from Pattern Runway, because it seems to be, well… easy, but also something I’ll get a lot of mileage out of. No zippers and no darts is a huge plus, and I like the elastic waist (perfect with a belt). One of the biggest selling points for me was the step-by-step blog post on the Pattern Runway site that walks you through the whole process of making this garment. I’m happy to have a little bit of hand holding at this stage!

I have a few weeks before I’ll be able to start working on this, so I’m still trying to decide on fabric. When I was sewing a lot in high school I often didn’t give much thought to fabric choice. Sometimes I bought fabric for projects, but most often I pulled something out of my mom’s huge stash of old fabric. I think as my knowledge and skills in handknitting have advanced, and as I’ve started spinning wool and thinking about fiber and how and where it’s sourced, it’s affected how I think about textiles and clothing more generally. In this case, I think I’d like something light and airy, something that’s easy to work with, and I’d also like it to be made of natural fibers – so perhaps a light-to-mid-weight cotton? It will give the dress a much more casual feel than the black fabric pictured above, but as I’m looking to make more of an everyday dress, that seems just fine. I prefer to buy fabric in person, so that I can see and feel it, so I’m planning to head to Drygoods Design sometime soon – there are a few fabric listed on the website that I’m itching to see in person.

Are you taking part in Me Made May? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it! I’d also love any sewing advice you all have. I learned to sew as a kid, and I always thought that fact alone meant I was knowledgeable about sewing, but I feel like a total beginner coming back to it. I’d love to hear from you!