You made it! Admit it!

If someone complements you on a Me-Made garment, do you admit, acknowledge or otherwise disclose that you made it? I am of two minds about this, but in the spirit of Me-Made May, I figured I’d ‘fess up.

At the hairdresser’s Friday I wore my red Simplicity 8174 moto jacket and carried the matching red tote bag from Burda 2562 (OOP).  I never use these two items together. Matchy matchy matchy. And a bit homemade-y too. But I just grabbed them because I was running late, without a second thought.

When I arrived, the receptionist noted my outfit and complemented me on it. “Thanks,” I said. I paused for a few breaths. And then I said, “I sewed this myself.”


Yes, I sewed this myself. It’s a thing people do. It’s not crazy (OK, not THAT crazy)… I took off the jacket so she could see the pretty silk lining and all. My hairdresser and a couple of others got wind of this and came over to look. I got lots more complements, spiced with a dash of disbelief.

Then the woman who runs the boutique next door to the salon came in for some reason. This lady has nice stuff in her shop, and I buy things there on occasion. She really looked over the jacket, with a knowing eye.

“I know someone you should meet,” she said, “if you’re interested in taking this further.”

“What do you mean, taking this further?” I asked.

She sells jackets from an area designer who has her own line of officewear blazers for women. The blazers come in several cuts and fabric types to complement various figures and budgets. I explained that this was just a commercial pattern, nothing I drafted myself. No matter, the boutique owner said. She took down my name and number and said she’d call if her designer friend was interested.

Who knows? Nothing will probably come of it, but maybe something will. At least I got it out there into the universe. Yes, I make my own clothes, and yes, they’re fabulous!

Me-Made Evening at the Theater

My husband and I and went to a play last night. It’s a new musical by Adam Gopnik, a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. While the play was just so-so, my outfit was fabulous, if I do say so my me-made self.outfit1.jpg

The top is a raglan-sleeve blouse from Simplicity 1202 and the skirt is Simplicity 8058, a Cynthia Rowley design. The blouse was made as directed, except that I lengthened it 1 inch and omitted the keyhole back closure (I can slip this over my head easily). The skirt was iffy. This is a “wearable muslin” version I whipped up in some cheap poly ponte knit. I love the color but not the hand of this stuff – it’s scratchy and just crummy. I lengthened it and omitted the tabs at the waist buttons because they just looked like crap every time I made them – two never came out the same. I topped this with a RTW dolman-sleeve duster.

Me-Made Sunbathing

Today’s warm enough for a quick bit of sunbathing, in my Me-Made swimsuit from Simplicity 1116. IMG_20170512_150440 I was a bit thinner when I made this, so it’s a skosh tight. Definitely for backyard sunbathing!

It wasn’t as hard to make as I thought. Spandex is very forgiving, after all. I got the material and the lining from Stretch House, a shop in New York’s Garment District that just sells spandex fabrics.

If I had to make another of these swimsuits, I’d use a self-lining. Despite a soul-sucking amount of understitching, the lining still shows a bit. (The extra 10 pounds don’t help either, truth be told.)

Me-Made Lingerie

Yesterday’s Me-Made item was the Florence bralette from Colette’s Seamwork magazine. Most of the Seamwork and Colette patterns have been a bust for me … ba-da-dah! Pun intended … but the Florence bralette iIMG_20160820_152036400s a fave. Here’s a photo of it on my dressform. (The Internet does not need to see a photo of me in a bra.) You make it out of very wide stretch lace and stretch satin or some other stretchy material for the contrast. You get something that looks very time-consuming for maybe 2 hours of work. I used picot lingerie elastic and sewed on a tassel, just because.

I wear this to Pilates since it doesn’t constrict breathing and gives just enough support. It’s a pattern for those small-chested among us, truth be told. I am a B+ or a C-, depending on whether I am having “a cup is half-full or half-empty” kind of day … ba-da-dah! The puns keep coming! … but it probably won’t suit anyone much more well-endowed.

Day 1 of Me Made May 2017

I woke up this morning and completely forgot it was May. As in #MeMadeMay. Sorry for the inelegant photo of my first day of the me-made pledge, but it was the best I could do on short notice. (Hey, you can only see a little of the toilet, so not a total selfie fail.)IMG_20170430_220955

This jacket is “Bolero Style Jacket” from the Japanese sewing book Happy Homemade Sew Chic by Yoshiko Tsukiori. I changed the pattern a bit to work well with this crazy border print knit fabric I had. I lengthened the body of the jacket and the sleeves, and I added a clasp at the front. I’m wearing a RTW top and pants.

I  don’t have enough seasonally appropriate me-made clothing to wear an item every day all month, but I have ramped up my participation steadily during the past couple of years. I’ll push myself by pledging to wear me-made items five days out of seven in a week.

I, Diane of Distaff Blog, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May’17. I endeavor to wear me-made clothes five days out of each week for the duration of May.

Who else is in?

Plant a Tree

I bought a tree yesterday. An Eastern redbud, variety “Carolina Sweetheart,” with red variegated leaves and dark pink flowers.


We went to a fancy garden center to get it. Few places scream “distaff side” more than a fancy garden center. Farming is  a man’s world. The garden is where the gals go.

We no sooner arrived than the extras from Central Casting appeared: The skinny old WASP-y woman in khakis and tennis shoes, the tummy pooch from mothering 3 or 4 children, broad-brimmed hat shading her face, deeply lined from too much sun and too many cigarettes in her youth. The Earth Mother in jangling bracelets, who let it be known to all within earshot that she drove up from New Jersey that morning because she just had to have such and whatnot. The 30-something French-manicured mom who wants to rip out every living thing from her newly purchased property that she hates and replace it with other living things that she loves, for now.

Some male employees took them around, showing off the plants and listening to these women’s garden glories. The message was plain on these men’s faces, under their hipster beards: “Whatever you want, lady.”

I fled to the ornamental tree section and browsed the redbuds. A young woman who worked at the garden center asked if I needed help. She was maybe 5’2″ with dark hair clubbed into a short ponytail under a floppy sun hat. She wore black-framed glasses and sturdy boots and dirty jeans. Under the V-neck of her T-shirt I glimpsed part of a tattoo of a magnolia blossom (I knew it was a magnolia because under the blossom, “magnolia grandiflora” skated across in script). I also glimpsed a nest of curly auburn armpit hair.

We got to talking, and guess what? She lives a couple blocks away from me. She rides her bike to work in the garden center – at least an hour’s ride up some steep hills. She was funny and knowledgeable and confident. In short, I wanted to be her.

OK, not her exactly. She’s probably half my age, for starters, and no way do I want to be in my 20s again. But her life as I glimpsed it and assumed it to be appealed to me. How nice it would be, to do what I love on my own terms? I don’t know if I’d stop shaving my pits, but I’d love to wear my handmade clothes, eat my fill from my garden, write and just be, on my own terms, more often than I do today.

What’s stopping me? Fear of poverty, I can tell you that. I’ve always been driven to earn money and achieve more and more in my career. That’s brought me to a big job at a big company in a big city, living in a big house with big bills to pay. Has it brought happiness? Not really. I enjoy this life, for sure. But part me of always wonders what it would be like without it all.

When I was in my 20s I tried the bohemian life, but bolted for convention quickly. You marry, buy a house, get your first “real” job. Maybe you have a kid or two. You may want to go back to a simpler time, but you also need to be a grown-up, so you keep going.

Someone with a better sense of humor than mine once said: “If everyone actually did what they wanted to do when they were young, the world would have way too many ballerinas and not nearly enough garbagemen.”

True enough. So I will plant my tree, inhale its floral scent in spring, sit under its shade in summer, collect its autumn leaves, gaze at its naked limbs in winter, and think about what might have been.


I’ve been in a funk for the past week. I was on a business trip to India, which was exhausting and exciting and fun and scary all at the same time. When I got home I dealt with jet lag for a couple of days. But there’s some other kind of lag going on still.

Since I was gone for a week, it seems like everyone has been making up for it by being on my ass about everything. The house needed cleaning. My husband’s needy and whiny. Stuff piled up at work. Bills needed paying. Even the damn dog is like, “Pet me! Pet me NOW!”

All I want is to sit somewhere, quietly and alone, and just not have to deal with anything. I actually had a fantasy of just getting a hotel room so I could sit in it and be quiet for a while with nothing to do, no place to go, no one expecting anything of me.

Of course I didn’t do that…

And because I am pretty out of sorts I am making it worse for myself by hauling around resentment. I struggle to ask people for what I need. I just go along, silently, tired and annoyed, one day after the other.

I finally chose to take a week off in a couple of weeks. This little vacation is meant to get my garden in, and I will definitely do some gardening that week. But mostly I look forward to a few days when I don’t really HAVE to do anything. I will do what I want, as much as possible.

I need to frame this vacation to my husband, or I risk him taking over. Whenever I have some time off, errands always pop up. Or he comes home early from work. Or friends want to get together. Or I have to wait around the house all day for FedEx or the chimney cleaning guy or some such nuisance.

I told my husband Friday that I am taking off a week in May. I am run down, I said. I need some time to just relax and get a break from work. I really don’t want to be bothered with anything, OK?

OK. We’ll see.