Serious Sewing – How it all started

One of my Me Made May challenges to myself is to do more reflecting on my sewing journey. In reflecting, I thought about how my sewing journey all started.

My grandparents were tailors in the Philippines. They came to live in America when I was a little child. My grandma made many dresses for me as a child, mostly for special occasions and events. I realize now how very lucky I was to have that opportunity. What a gift! My sister and I (and sometimes, even my mom) would always match.

My favorite outfits were my special occasion dresses. When I was 12 years old, tuxedo dresses were in style. My grandma made a tuxedo dress for me for my 12th birthday party outfit. It was a white tuxedo shirt with a red tuxedo tie and a black skirt with a little ruffle at the bottom. I loved that outfit. She also made my 8th grade graduation dress. I even got to design it. She made it exactly how I drew it. It was a pink long formal gown with a sweetheart neckline and puffed sleeves with a little ruffle at the bottom. I think that was the last thing she ever made for me and I still have it. I wish I had kept the other things she made for me. She made Barbie doll clothes out of her sewing scraps for me. She made special occasion dresses for my sister and aunts and I would borrow them to wear to my high school dances. What a special memory.

I remember how my grandma always sewed barefoot and wouldn’t you know it, I only sew barefoot, too. I don’t know how to sew with shoes on!

I first learned how to sew in October 2015. I was in a little bit of a funk and needed something to focus my attention on. I decided that I needed a new hobby and another way of creating. I decided it was the perfect time to learn how to sew. The first thing I made with my sewing machine was a Peter Pan cap for my Halloween costume. I found a pattern online and followed it. It was pretty simple to make and I was so proud of myself. Here’s a picture of me wearing my Peter Pan cap. I’m with my work friends. It’s Halloween 2015 and our whole unit is dressed as Disney characters. I am on the far left dressed as Peter Pan.

The Disney Crew

I wanted to learn more. I hired someone to teach me the basics. I considered it a birthday gift to myself. Her name was Nicole and her company was called Zen in the Art of Sewing. I actually found her on Groupon and she also had sewing groups in her home to teach beginners how to sew. She also taught people privately. I had her come to my house the day before my birthday to teach me how to thread my sewing machine and how to do certain stitches, like how to gather and hem, do a french seam and sew pleats and darts. She taught me about different fabrics. She also bought my first tools, such as scissors, seam ripper, pins with a magnetic pin holder and other essentials. She came to my house for a total of 3 sessions. She taught me a lot and enough to get me started. She also sewed barefoot and said that was the only way she knew how to sew. What a coincidence!

In November, my family and I took a week long “vacation” to Texas and I decided that would be the best time to start a sewing project. When I was in Texas, I bought a New Look pattern, fabric, scissors and pins (because I didn’t bring them from home, it was a last minute decision). I watched Professor Pin Cushion YouTube videos on how to make a dress using a pattern. With that first pattern, I learned how to sew darts, pleats and put in a zipper! Definitely not a beginner pattern, but I did it. I didn’t even realize that I could have sewn a more simple dress. I think did a really good job, considering that it was my first time. I actually wore my creation to work and received many compliments. I also had a chance to show Nicole my first completed dress. She said I did a great job for my first dress and I remember her saying it’s because my grandma was a tailor and that I had sewing in my blood.

November 2015

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” – Brene Brown

Happy Me Made May and happy sewing!


Me Made May 2021- My first challenge to myself

Happy first day of May! It’s actually the 2nd day of May but I wrote this yesterday. It’s Me Made May and every May, I am inspired by all the sewing and creativity during this time. I’m usually an inspired observer. However, since I’ve been consistently sewing, especially since 2020, I now feel a little more confident to be an active participant.

In the past, I thought that Me Made May was about posting your sewing makes that were made in May. I also thought that one of the requirements was to wear one me made a day in May. But since being part of a sewing community (on Instagram and Facebook), I’ve recently learned that it’s not only about posting your makes. It also doesn’t matter if you have just one me made make or if you have enough makes to wear something in May everyday. It’s also about challenging yourself to have a better relationship with your sewing, sewing makes, creativity, body and style.

You can basically make your own challenge. I’ve been reading everyone’s challenges to themselves on Instagram and I am so inspired and amazed.

In developing my challenges, I did some reflecting. In 2015, when I started sewing, I had already stopped buying clothes for about 2 years (starting in 2014). I used to buy a lot of clothes and mostly fast fashion. It progressed to buying very little to eventually buying no new clothes. It started in 2013 when I started buying my clothes, solely online and mostly from Modcloth. By doing that, I actually started buying less clothes. It was also one of my goals at that time to buy less things in general. I had a goal to minimalize, especially my wardrobe and closet. I told myself that before I can buy something new from Modcloth, I had to give away at least one clothing item from my closet. Eventually, this turned into not buying anymore new clothes, which was my 2014 New Year’s resolution. This was sparked when I started to learn more about fast fashion. I did not buy any clothes (outer clothing items) in 2014 and 2015. I mostly got “new” clothes from hand me downs from my friends and my adult daughter.

I started sewing in November 2015. I did not sew very much since I was a beginner. I did not have a goal to sew and wear a “made by me” wardrobe. I mostly wanted to learn how to make vintage style dresses because I liked Modcloth so much. I did wear a few of my sewing makes. At first I was self-conscious about it. But as I started getting compliments on my outfits, I felt more comfortable. I did start buying clothes again in 2016, but not much and mostly because I had an event or somewhere I needed to go that needed a certain outfit. I would say in the summer of 2019, I started sewing a little more consistently which was about one or two items a month. In 2020 and 2021, my sewing became a lot more consistent. Now that I think about it, the summer of 2019 was the last time I bought a clothing item and it was for a specific event. The outfit that I made for the event didn’t work out, so I bought a dress instead. That was the last outer clothing item I purchased to date.

Also, I was not posting myself wearing my items. I was too shy. So I mostly put them on a mannequin or dress form to post on my blog and on Instagram. However, when I’m looking at other people’s sewing makes, I love seeing the clothes actually worn. It’s so helpful to see how the clothes actually look like when they are worn. I just wasn’t ready to do that myself. I had it as a goal to eventually post myself actually wearing a dress and in 2021, I became brave and did it for the first time in March. I feel that was an accomplishment because I was able to gain some courage.

March 2021

So, based on these reflections, here are my challenges to myself for Me Made May:

  1. Wear at least one Me Made a week and one Me Made a weekend. (appreciation)
  2. Post at least one picture of me wearing a Me Made Outfit in May (courage).
  3. Clean out my closet (minimalize)
  4. Do more refashioning with whatever I have in my closet (upcycle).
  5. Use whatever patterns and fabrics that are in my stash. (self-control/minimalize)
  6. Continue buying no new clothes and sewing my wardrobe (no fast fashion)
  7. Sew less, reflect more.

Ok, I’ll admit that last one is because I’ve lost my sewing mojo. Hopefully it’s temporarily. “Everything is Temporary”. But I do want to reflect more on my sewing journey. By sewing less and reflecting more, I can understand why I started sewing and appreciate my sewing more. I want to share more because when others share their makes and their stories, I am inspired and I hope that I can inspire too.

Happy Me Made May!

My sewing makes so far in 2021

April 2021 Makes: Sundresses Galore

April’s theme was Spring sundresses. I started off conservatively with five items on my list. So I guess it’s not quite a galore. But… I was able to complete them all and for me, that’s sundresses galore! Oh, I also made an order of masks.

Look at these dresses!!!

The first garment I completed was a sundress in green linen using New Look 6446 New Look 6446- A Green Linen Sundress. I bought the fabric at Joann with my daughter. She picked it out. We were on a linen kick and she thought the green linen was the best pick. I like how it turned out. It was my first time sewing a lined bodice. It wasn’t as hard to do as I thought. It gives it a clean look and it really aids in the construction. I actually think I prefer it over facing. I think I am getting better at my invisible zipper installment because it was another success. I don’t think I’m afraid of them anymore. What I like best about this sundress is that it can be worn with a T shirt underneath. Cute…

The next garment I completed was a short, sleeveless sundress in a rayon challis woven crepe in black and white floral. Simplicity 8910: A Black and White Floral Spring Sundress My favorite part of this dress are the ties at the shoulder straps. They are so cute. I made them detachable so that I can have the option to have the sundress with the ties or without. But they ended up serving a practical purpose. I use the ties to “tie” my bra strap together with the shoulder strap so that my bra doesn’t slip and show.

I was really excited to make Simplicity 8231. Mostly because it is a pattern in collaboration with Sew House Seven and I thought that was interesting. It’s also called the Mississippi Avenue Dress. I made mine in a yellowish gold chambray fabric. It has an elasticized waist dress and a V-neckline. I made the sleeveless dress with the shoulder ties. I really like how it turned out. Simplicity 8231: Mississippi Avenue Dress in Yellow Chambray It kind of has a 1930s vibe.

Although it didn’t quite go with my sundress theme, this next one I made is still a dress. I was planning sleeveless sundresses and this dress has sleeves. Really voluminous sleeves. In fact, that’s the most popular detail of this dress. McCalls 7969- A Very Bohemian Billowy Sleeved Dress. I needed something to wear for an outing. Three of my friends and I planned a picnic at Malibu Wines and Garden. I thought this dress was the perfect dress for the day. And it was…

And the last garment I made in April was a dress I had made twice already using McCall’s 8084. I made the prior dresses for my daughter. This one was for myself. I used the leftover fabric from my last dress for this dress. Bohemian Flouncy Sleeved Tie Dress- McCalls 8084 McCall’s 8084 is a dress with a tie at the bodice. I made the view with the flouncy sleeves which is my favorite part of the dress. The tie at the bodice also has a keyhole opening which I was not too excited about but I kept it in rather than modifying it. Also, this dress has pockets!

Now on to planning May. I plan to participate in Me Made May and it will be my first time. I’ve been sewing since 2015 and every year, I’m an observer. An inspired observer. But now that I have been sewing consistently, I feel ready to be an actual participant.

Happy Sewing!