Me Made May 2014

Greetings from the first week of May!

MMM2014I was successfully able to wear handmade clothes every day this week! Hooray for setting manageable goals!

I also finished up two projects, which count, but it’s a little bit cheating since I did most of the work in April. Turn your attention to the sailor-looking shirt on days 5 and 7. It’s newly finished so I should do a post on it. Unfortunately I’m having a difficult time photographing it. See the collar? The big collar that is sort of the main point? Perhaps not because it refuses to photograph very well.

As you can also see, we are now repeating clothes. So I need to get busy on my new projects so I can wear them. Luckily in Benin, repeating clothing is perfectly normal.


May is my Birthmonth!

And I’m celebrating by giving myself presents. Whatever my little heart desires, within reason.

First present to me:
Colette patterns “Ceylon” dress. I really love shirt dresses, and this one has some pretty adorable details like look at those shoulders! I saw a version on the internet in grey wool with white embroidery on those little round shouldery things. Too cute.

I also strongly considered the Deer and Doe Belladone dress, but it appears that there is no E-version of that pattern and let’s face it, I wanted my pattern tout de suite!!

I bought it, I downloaded it, stuck it on my flash drive and marched down to a recommended copy shop and printed it out. Done and done.


Up ’til midnight cutting and pasting and blogging!

This evening was dedicated to sticking together all the pattern pieces, and cutting them out. And listening to podcasts and drinking tea.

UNFORTUNATELY, I believe the copy shop printed it out at 90%. So, I’m going to cut out and make up the size 4, which may or may not be 10% bigger than the size 2 they have me wearing on their measurement chart.

I’ll make a muslin and hope for the best.

ps. I think I might be shrinking again. Or perhaps still shrunk from Colombia. I think I -did- gain some weight in the US the month I was back, but I imagine it’s gone now.

And on to more birthday plans. It’s important to plan things out ahead of time here, and anywhere. At least, I think it is. My birthday this year is on a Monday. So,

  1. I’ll probably go into Cotonou for the weekend so I can eat birthday Indian food. It’s a tradition. I may end up eating it alone, but that’s fine with me.
  2. I shall buy chocolate and consume a lot of it without any thought to rationing.
  3. I may wear my birthday dress (see above) if I finish it in time.
  4. I will buy 2 bags of salt and vinegar chips, and eat one immediately
  5. On my actual birthday, I will bring a cake to work. Hopefully my mom’s (Grandmas Roz’s?) Sour Cream Chocolate cake, widely known as the best cake ever, which is also a tradition (definitely ate it for 24, but not 23 I don’t think. Had it in cupcakes for 18)
  6. More presents from me to me as I see fit. Probably food related.


Hugs to all and Happy Birthday to all of my May birthday CII3 girls, y’all are the best and you know who you are.

“Labor” Day

“Abby! We’re having a party! Cathy came last year so you should come too! We already have a tissu picked out!”

Stop right there. I’m in! At parties in Benin, if it’s any kind of vrai party, you should pick out a fabric. Now, it could be just a pattern that comes in a few different colorways…

labor day 1(For instance, the three-ish day party right outside of my porch a couple months back [which was also all over town. Several locations party] had a fabric that was leaves on a background of squares. Most people chose the green and brown colorway, and then there was a purply colorway and a yellow and blue colorway which, though not popular, I personally found the most striking.)

…or you can have everyone in the very same pattern and color. Which was how I found myself eating two lunches and listening to music with about 100 women all dressed alike.

labor day 3

My camera, much like my kindergarteners, has trouble focusing.

I had fun.

Back to the story we started with. I knew fabric was involved, so I was already in, basically. But what kind of party was it?

What I heard was: It’s a party for femmes enceintes or pregnant ladies. What it actually was, was a party for femmes enseignantes or woman teachers. Of which I am one.

labor day 5

initial sketches

Even up to yesterday morning, though, somebody wished me a happy labor day and I thought. Labor day, pregnant ladies, well, that’s a clever play on words.

Regardless. I found out on Friday, I think, and went and obtained my fabric. I then spent the weekend drafting, chalking, cutting, buying buttons and bias and sew sew sewing!

labor day 4

Welcome to my kitchen…

labor day 2

Forgot my sunglasses.

This is the dress I made for the party, it’s based off the “Straight Skirt” pattern in La Coupe which I altered to be a “tulip skirt.” I’m not sure I did it the best way I should have but basically I drew both sides of the front and then drew a straight diagonal line from the left front dart to the right front bottom corner and freehanded a line in the shape I thought might be nice. Cut two and off you go.

The top is also from La Coupe, it’s the crossover top. I picked it because it seemed pretty simple and easy to sew in four days, and also because I have an idea that, if I get around to making it, will be based on this pattern.

As always, it’s all handsewn.

Happy May, y’all!




Me Made May 2014

So, a subset of internet is the blogosphere, right?

And a subset of the blogosphere is the sewing blogosphere.

And the sewing blogosphere has this thing called Me Made May (2014) where you wear handmade garments everyday, or nearly everyday, or such like.

So, I’m going to take part. This is my pledge.

‘I, Abby (, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear something handmade each day for the duration of May 2014 and finish four pieces in the month of May as well as blogging about it hopefully once a week according to internet access.’

So, follow along as I sew like crazy and take pictures of my self everyday.

Expect an update either the 1st or 2nd of May with a kick off project and “article” blogpost thingy.

Also, I might actually buy myself a new pattern from one of the excellent online Indie pattern people for my BIRTHDAY! Which is this month! YAYAYAYAY! Sew sew sew cake cake cake happy and chocolate and ice cream! This is what I hope my birthday is like.

I’m think Colette pattern’s Ceylon. Although I could be persuaded to something else if other people have suggestions. It has to be something that could look good in (loud) prints that I can get here. I mean, I can get things other than loud prints but when in Benin, right?


Anyways, if you want to read more about “Me Made May” or take part, go over to here, where someone explains it so much more coherently and exhaustively.

Enormous Collar Shirt

IMG_7484Well, I made a button down shirt. I really love short-sleeve button-down shirts. Like, really really. It’s about half of my wardrobe. Most of the ones that I find at thrift stores and the like have little puff sleeves. Which I do really like, but this shirt has, in fact, straight? sleeves. With little pleats on the cuffs. There is also a pleated front of the button band, and little button holes on the inside. When I was in Colombia, I bought a sewing magazine. Well, three. Two Burdas and one “Georgette.” IMG_7485If any of you have ever sewn from a Burda magazine, you know that they don’t always give the most detailed instructions. They basically give you a picture of all the pieces in the pattern, tell you where to find them on the pattern sheet, and then give you steps of what to do. There probably won’t be any pictures of what you should be doing. On the contrary, Georgette magazine just tells you what you should be doing. Sort off. Much is left to the imagination. Some pieces are not even mentioned in the instructions so you might just have a pocket or something left over after you finish sewing. But if you like rompecabezas then this is sure to be fun. IMG_7534For instance on this shirt: it’s never really mentioned if there is seam allowance or not. I think this might be why my collar is so enormous. But maybe not! There was also this weird thing where there were two pieces to the inner band of the collar and only one piece to the outer band of the collar but they really did not fit together so much. Procedure: cut out the pieces suggested for the shirt. (possibly go ahead and toss some out if you feel like it) and then use your best judgement to assemble. But I do like the way it turned out! It’s got all these pleats down the front that you may not be able to see. IMG_7535Seriously though guys the instructions basically read: Do the darts in the front and back. Put the yoke together with back and shoulders. Close the seams. Close the sleeves and put them in the sleeve holes. Do the arm/wrist thingies with the pleats and the pully thingy that goes in them and attach that all to the sleeves (something to do with bias, something about drawstring). Do the button band, pleats are involved. Make some buttonholes and put some buttons one. Hem! TADA!! Granted my Spanish is not amazing, but seriously. They aren’t very helpful instructions.

Easter Dress

IMG_7428 Ah Easter. The perfect time for debuting a new dress, right?

I started work on this dress probably in mid-March, with the happy coincidence of finding this fabulous fabric (cowrie shells! bright colors!) and the arrival of the April 2014 issue of Burdastyle magazine. (Critics of the internet agree that this was a fabulous issue.

IMG_7456IMG_7432So, I got to sketching. There was a dress in this issue that had this absolutely lovely boat-neck and interesting princess seams. So I went right ahead and attached that bodice to a somewhat fuller skirt than the one it’s attached to in the book. (Basically just a big rectangle gathered at the top.

The fun part, though is the scalloped hemline. I followed a tutorial at the Coleterie blog for a scalloped hem. It was pretty easy although I messed it up but good with  measuring. Sigh. I wanted the bottom of the scallops to match up with the dark part of the cowrie shells but I miss calculated and this is what we’ve got. Ah well. It’s still super cute and wearable.

IMG_7434What did we do for Easter? I went over to an American volunteer’s host family’s house and we had a nice lunch and played Uno with the kids. They went to Mass in the morning, but I slept in (and then baked them chocolate bread. Win-win).

Then, Easter Monday, we went out with them again, to the beach at Ouidah.
IMG_7449It’s a little bit out of town, maybe a 15 minute moto ride, but I’d never been before (sad, right?) Apparently Easter Monday is the day to go, as there were approximately a billion people there. I don’t have a great picture of the hoards, but you get the idea. It was kind of fun to go on the day that everybody goes, like hiking up La Popa on Candelaria days or Mont Serrate on New Years. Although with those two places you probably shouldn’t go except at that time. IMG_7455

We ate sandwiches and walked along the beach and collected shells. Unfortunately, you can’t swim because of the currents, but it was still nice to go have a walk along the shore. I also enjoyed seeing everyone out and about in their Easter best and made quite a few clothing sketches.

Right then. Hope you also had a great Easter, and happy sewing?