a stripey dress and the July summary

IMG_4294My third and final big project for July was a maxidress, made from a stripey/zigzagged knit that I picked up about 2 summers ago from this hole in the wall fabric store that I didn’t know existed near my house. Most of the fabric they had wasn’t all that exciting to me, being largely quilting cottons and weird polyesters. But the two older ladies who were running the shop chatted with me and Doug for awhile, since we were the only people there at the time, so I felt sort of obligated to buy something. This knit was pretty much the only thing that jumped out to me.

The pattern is McCall’s 6559, which I’ve made once before. I knew the dress still fits me fine, so I didn’t make any adjustments. But maybe I should have– this fabric is almost too lightweight to not see through, and it still pulls down in front quite a bit!

The first time I wore it out in public (to church, which was a mistake), I spent the whole service tugging the thing up, debating whether shortening the straps would tighten up the armholes too much or trying to insert a scrap of fabric into the neckline to act as a fake camisole would be the better move. My husband was adamantly against that idea. But I think I have a working solution now…

IMG_4270…turning it backwards!

(And hey, check out that stripe matching. The zig zags aren’t perfect, but I think I did pretty darn good on the straight lines. I did have to rip out a partial seam to fix, but it was worth it.)

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Yeah, I think I’m going to like it much better like this.

Another thing that makes me happy about this project is that I was able to have it do double-duty for challenges again– the Stashbusting Sewalong theme for July was dresses, and The Monthly Stitch’s was spots and stripes. It’s nice to still feel like I’m involved in the more social aspect of this!

So, my quick stashbusting update for July:

I used up a total of about 5 yards. I bought 6.5, which have not arrived in the mail yet. Most of that is small pieces for Hobbit’s Halloween costume this year, and one piece is for the sewing dare that I got from Gillian, because I didn’t have anything on hand that would quite work. (Plus I needed $50 worth of stuff to get free shipping.) The bad news is that this purchase puts me back up to about 400 yards total, but the good news is that I’ve used up about 42 1/2 yards for the year so far. Which is really not bad, considering how ridiculously hard it has been to get sewing time in this year!

My other exciting news is that I am finally making progress on getting Hobbit to take his morning nap in the crib! I haven’t made it into the sewing room every day, because I still have to do some stuff like get dinner thrown in the crockpot or occasionally clean something. But I did get enough time in last week to trace out the pattern for the Halloween costume, order the fabric, do some much-needed tidying in my sewing room, and cut out a project for myself. Which will not be the next thing I sew, since I intend to do some embellishing on the fabric first, but still– sewing time! During the day! How exciting is that?!

 

How very exciting.

The good news: I finished a thing! Two things, in fact!

The not so great news: They’re both from a very basic pattern I’ve made before, and therefore not super exciting. But a girl’s gotta sew what a girl needs in her closet, right?

Both of these tops are from the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee. And basically solids. Which is generally not something I particularly enjoy sewing, given my printaholic tendencies. But I’ve realized that I am sorely lacking in some basics, as I’ve been slowly purging my closet since May started.

20160717_192224_LLSThis first one is from a coral hatchi-esque knit that I got for Christmas this past year. When going through the Wardrobe Architect, I discovered that basically everything in my closet was cool colors (you know, since I tend to gravitate towards blue and green everything), and I need to inject some warmth! The fabric was mostly ok to work with, though I had an awful time with the neckline. My old Bernina just doesn’t have a stretch stitch, so I usually have to fake it with long, narrow zig zags. And despite that and using the walking foot, it stretched out like crazy! I ended up turning it under and stitching it inside the shirt. The three-layer thickness still makes it lay not that great, but it’s definitely better than it was.

20160717_192330The fun element of this one is that it has metallic gold raised polka dots! They’re very subtle, but it still makes it feel more print-like to me. And I’ve been wearing it a lot lately. It’s done well to help my flamingo skirt from last summer graduate from its near closet orphan status, too. (Gotta love my phone selfie pics, right? But it was either this or possibly not post for another month. Oh well.)

 

IMG_4227The second shirt is just a plain, solid ivory. I recently bought 3 yards each of ivory and black rayon jersey from Joann’s, because I need multiple basic tops in both. (A third of these in black is likely to happen soonish. I literally have no plain black tees, and with my skirt collection, it’s badly needed.) So to make this one more interesting for me, I decided to hack the pattern slightly. My idea was to channel Rey from the latest Star Wars movie. So I lengthened the sleeves a bit, and added a slight curve to the hem. I also ended up just doing a simple turned under neckline hem– I wanted to try the fold over elastic method mentioned in the instructions, but the stuff I had looked absolutely yellow next to this cream knit. So that will have to wait.IMG_4206

When sewing it together, I ended up deciding to add a split in the side seam to make it easier to get the hem smooth. In retrospect, I’m very glad that I did this, because the shirt looks a bit unflatteringly snug around my midsection if I don’t wear it with something thicker like jeans. So I probably should have added a little more ease in the front, but the split definitely helps. Either way, I think this is probably going to end up more of a layering tee than anything else.

I’ll admit I’m a little disappointed in how both of these turned out, especially since my previous Kirsten tee still fits in a much more flattering way than the ivory one, despite being sewn pre-pregnancy, and the neckline actually did what it was supposed to, unlike the coral one. But I can still use both of them in my wardrobe, so I guess that’s about the best I can hope for right now.

And I did have one more project for this month, so expect to see that in a couple of days.

Sewing for Boys: a birthday shirt for Hobbit

IMG_3926Okay, seriously…how the heck is my little boy a year old already? His birthday was last week, and so my main project this month was to make him a new little shirt to wear for that day.

The pattern is the Classic Oxford by Peekaboo Pattern Shop. I seriously wish I’d known about this site about 18 months ago, because they have several women’s knit patterns that have the option of buying a maternity and/or nursing add-on, and they’re all pretty cute in both the pregnant and non-pregnant versions. But they also have cute patterns for boys, which are notoriously hard to find. I strongly suspect I’ll be revisiting this shop for shorts and hoodies and the like.

 

IMG_3968I sewed up the 18 month size, out of some fabric I’d bought on sale shortly before he was born. It was a rather timely make as far as characters go, too! Though I haven’t seen Finding Dory yet, and probably won’t make it to the theater #becausehobbit. Oh well, that’s what DVDs are for, right? As you can see, this fits him pretty well. Which is a huge relief, after the sizing issues I’ve had sewing up big 4 baby patterns. (I’m still sad that the Star Wars shirt ended up so unwearably wonky in sizing.)

I was pleased with the directions overall, too. There was one point with the yoke where I just could not make heads or tails of how the instructions wanted me to do it, but I figured out an alternative that worked just as well and still left everything clean on the inside. I particularly liked how the collar stand worked out, because she added some extra length to the pattern and you had to line it up by stitching to the edge, not anything too fiddly.

IMG_3945I do kind of wish that I’d had thread that matched better instead of the navy blue. And the buttons were just regular shirt buttons raided from a giant jar that my grandmother gave me when she was downsizing to move. But I guess that’s ok, because boy clothes are more suited to just regular old shirt buttons. I did do two pockets instead of one, since the print is a little more reminiscent of a Hawaiian shirt, and was very happy with how the print placement turned out for those! So hopefully he’ll get several more wears out of this before he outgrows it. But at least I can always do the unbuttoned layered shirt thing to take this one into the fall. The pattern does go up to sizing for approximately 12 years old, so I’ll definitely be getting more use out of this pattern. Especially because it also has cutting layout hints for recycling men’s shirts for it, and I’ve already saved a worn out work shirt or two of Doug’s– I find the idea of him wearing shirts made from his daddy’s shirts adorable!

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One last closing shot. Aside from this, the bulk of my sewing this month has been altering a bridesmaid dress for my sister in law. But that’s almost done now. So I’ll wrap this up so I can finally cut out something for me!

the skirt my husband designed

IMG_3843So, May in a nutshell, this skirt. I really wasn’t expecting something this relatively simple to take me almost an entire month, but such is the nature of my sewing life these days.

I say that my husband designed this, because it was basically his idea. We had a conversation somewhere during my third trimester that went something like this…

Doug: So I saw this girl at the mall today…

Pregnant me: Why were you looking at this girl?

Doug: I liked her skirt. I thought it would look good on you after you’re done being pregnant.

He went on to describe it as a long sheer skirt over a shorter skirt. It sounded simple enough to make, and it’s not often that he notices women’s fashion, so challenge accepted. I bought a couple of yards of black chiffon and some wide elastic and waited for my stomach to shrink enough to make the skirt that he liked.

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting it to take so long. On the one hand, it’s essentially two rectangles gathered into a wide elastic waistband. On the other hand, I ended up with a wider tube than the elastic would stretch to, so I ended up having to do a bunch of little pleats to gather it in. That took me a couple of tries to get the spacing right.

IMG_3854The outer layer is just black polyester chiffon from Fabric.com, purchased specifically for this purpose last summer. The inner layer is a silky polyester from Joann’s, bought years ago with a more workwear-type top in mind that I never got to. I put it shiny side in for a more subtle effect, but I really like how the print looks underneath. The background is a rather stark white, and going through the Wardrobe Architect process made me realize that ivory tones are better on me anyway, so I’m pleased to have found a use for it that better suits my palette. Now I just need to figure out a use for the leftover 2/3 yards.

I’m still trying to sort out how best to handle these wide exposed elastic waistbands. The stitches skipped and wobbled less on this one than on my refashioned plum skirt, but the waistband itself is more rippled. I guess it’s a good thing that I rarely tuck anything in. I also wish the hem was a little neater. Fighting for these little scraps of sewing time is really doing a number on my finishing skills. I just get so desperate to actually get something new into my wardrobe. Especially since a good chunk of things still don’t fit. And I don’t expect that to improve for awhile.

I feel like I should at least mention Me-Made-May, even though we’re halfway through June now and everyone’s moved on. I played along loosely via Instagram, while trying to pull out older stuff from the closet and see what still works and what doesn’t. My overall takeaway was a good news, bad news sort of situation. The good news is that I still have more workable me-mades than I thought. The bad news is that a lot of what I’m having to let go of are the majority of my basics, which is making the whole outfit thing tough. I’m especially hurting for pants and jeans, and even basic tank tops and tees. But I’m honestly not really sure what to do about it, given that I’m averaging about 1 project a month right now, I’m so dissatisfied with the styles and fit of store bought clothes these days, and (hopefully not TMI) there is talk of when to start trying for a sibling for Hobbit. It seems pointless to go through the pants fitting process just to end up with a closet full of pants that I can’t wear anymore again…any suggestions for my dilemma, mom-types?

On a happier note, this skirt busted 3 2/3 yards. It’s progress, even if just a small step.

Hopefully it won’t be weeks before I post again. Photos were the delay in sharing this one, and this month’s project is for a much cuter model!

 

 

back in black (with quasi-tutorial)

Black AppletonSo…hi! This dress has actually been done for awhile– I finished it in late April. It just took me forever to actually be able to set up the tripod and get a few pictures of it. Definitely not the best, since my camera insisted on using the flash since I was inside, but it’s better than nothing, right?

This is my second version of the Cashmerette Appleton dress, and I made a few modifications this time to work out some of the issues that I had with my first one. So here’s what I did:

    • Since chopping a couple of inches off the underlap left me feeling rather insecure about how much of me would stay covered if a strong breeze came up, I actually left that portion untrimmed. So both sides are the same width, and I feel so much better for it.
    • I added some flare to the skirt, to make it more A-line than straight. I was very happy with how this turned out, and will be keeping both of these modifications for any future versions I may make.

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  • The big change was the sleeve! I’d originally plotted this as a piece for the “Sew Hot Right Now” challenge at The Monthly Stitch back in March, going for the cold shoulder trend in what I thought would be a more everyday wearable way. But, of course, I barely even got it started before the month was over. #becausehobbit

So then my goal was just to finish it before the beginning of May, so I could wear it to a concert. (I got gifted two tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra, on May the 4th, to a concert full of John Williams music where he was actually conducting the last several pieces. Best. Star Wars Day. EVER.) I succeeded in that, at least!

Anyway, here’s how I did the sleeve. Sorry it’s not a full out tutorial. I thought about making a top and doing the sleeve like that again so I could do step by step photography, but considering I’ve been sewing the same fairly basic project for this entire month, I figured that my chances of actually finishing that this year were not looking so good. (Maybe I should have named this blog Sew Lento…)

Appleton sleeve hack 2 The bottom is my original sleeve, albeit the long-sleeved version. For this version, I traced off the short sleeve, split it in half, and added seam allowances to it (between the two middle red lines) so I could finish the edges well. I also did a little slash and spread pivot action on both halves of the sleeve, adding about 1″ in between at the bottom.

Appleton sleeve hack 3 For the band, I wanted it gathered in to fit my arm. I was lazy about it and just used the band from the short sleeved version of my trusty Renfrew tee. But if you wanted to try this modification and don’t have that pattern, it was about a difference of 5 1/2″ between the length of the band and the length of the lower edge of the sleeve, including those seam allowances.

And here’s a closeup of the sleeve. Appleton sleeve hack 1

For sewing it, I finished the edges on the long middle edges of each sleeve half, sewed them flat into the sleeveheads so that the finished edges met in the middle, sewed the underarm and side seams together, and then sewed the hem band on in the round, just like I normally would with the Renfrew sleeve to finish it nice and clean. I have this thing about solid colors, and black in particular, where I need it to have some cool detail or I just get bored. (Throwback to my college music major days where I was wearing black all the time, and always on the lookout for interesting sleeves.) So I’m really glad that this matched up with what I envisioned in my head!

I’ll leave you with an outtake– not the best angle on the sleeves, but this photobombing cutie was just irresistible!IMG_3795

 

 

 

 

flower power

20160501_152644One of my sewing goals for this year was to think more about mini-capsule outfits, in an effort to avoid closet orphans. Since a lot of my old clothes still aren’t fitting well, this is so important right now. So I was excited to see that The Monthly Stitch’s theme for April was to do two or more coordinating pieces, one of which was a floral. It just so happened that I had the perfect combination in my stash. Especially to line up with a couple of other sewing challenges– I love when I can multitask this way!

Both of these pieces were from Seamwork Magazine– the same issue, in fact. I made the Astoria top first, because I needed a solid pastel top for my flute choir’s spring concert, and this piece of fabric was literally the only thing I owned that fit the criteria! It’s a lightweight acrylic sweater knit that I’ve been dithering over for a couple of years now, due to the sheerness. (Incidentally, the theme for the Stashbusting Sewalong this month was “feared fabrics”, and sweater knits do make me a tad nervous. Especially since it’s hard to find them in not-wool, and the unraveling factor!) This one came together pretty quickly, and fit nicely straight off of the pattern. The length threw me for a loop, since I’m not used to cropped tops, so I might add some length if I make it again– unless I find more good sweater knits for layering over some dresses!

20160501_152843_LLS(Baby photobomb, because he was getting fussy.) The accompanying Bristol skirt took me longer than anticipated. That’s mostly my own fault, because the floral print is a little on the sheer side, and so I lined it. Which meant that I had to sew and finish everything twice, aside from the pocket. I’ll admit I was kind of frantically trying to finish this yesterday, both so I’d have it to wear to church this morning and so I could definitely count it for April, and so the hem on the lining is rather wonky. I rushed the pressing a bit more than I should have, and the fabric was all shifty. But I’m just going to roll with it, because no one will see it but me. (And maybe occasionally Doug, when he does the laundry, because he’s great like that.)

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What I like about this skirt:

  • Pocket! I wouldn’t use it for my hands, since it’s kangaroo-style, but it’s perfect for holding my phone.
  • If I hadn’t lined it, it really would have been a super-fast project.
  • The elastic waistband is definitely good for my need of flexible fitting.
  • The print, obviously.

What I didn’t like:

  • I should have read the waistband instructions more closely before sewing, and then done it completely differently. It called for basically basting the elastic into the waistband, and then sewing that whole gathered mess onto the skirt. Which took forever, and was a total mess to finish. (Mostly because I was too lazy to change my serger thread.) I think I’d make this pattern again, as it was a nice switch-up from the Rae skirt, but I’d definitely sew the waistband casing in flat and then insert the elastic.

In other news, I never made my official Me-Made-May pledge for this year. I honestly don’t think I can do every day right now, since I’m highly dependent on my RTW transitional jeans. And I definitely can’t do the me-made jewelry like previous years, because the grabby little Hobbit has me limited to stud earrings and my wedding rings. So for this year, I’m going to just aim for wearing something I made 3-4 days a week, and seeing if I can get a better idea of what clothes might still fit me again after I drop a few more pounds vs. what it’s just time to let go of.

I’m starting off well, at least– besides the two Seamwork pieces, I’m also wearing my latest pair of Espresso leggings and the McCall’s tank top I made last month.

To quickly sum up my stashbusting for April: Besides these two pieces, I have one more finished clothing project that needs to be photographed (yay!), and a gift that I haven’t showed at all yet because the family member that it’s for follows my Instagram. All together, 11.25 yards out, and nothing in. Finally, a decent dent!

it’s not easy being green

Deer & Doe Bruyere shirtI’ve been eyeing the Deer & Doe Bruyere for quite some time, and I finally got around to trying it out! It took me basically an entire month, both because I had to schedule time to go to my parents’ early on teaching days so my mom could occupy Hobbit while I sewed, and because the cotton voile that I found to use as a wearable muslin was sheer enough that I had to French seam everything. (Except for the armholes, because I have never found a way to make that work.) But I think the effort was worthwhile, because I’m overall happy with how this turned out! Which is nice, since I’ve been feeling pretty meh about my finished projects for some time now.

 

 

 

IMG_3655I did make a couple of changes to the fit. For one, I finally managed a successful FBA! The bust darts will need a little adjusting, because as you can see here, they’re sitting too high. But I’m going to hold off on making that alteration to the pattern until I’m done nursing and can see where they end up when wearing a bra with actual support. (The underwires on my third and final nursing bra fell out about a week ago, so I have literally no options for a decent one now. Nursing bras are a special kind of lingerie hell.) I added a bit of length to the sleeves as usual, and made the bottom the length of the largest size. It’s a change I’m definitely keeping, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks with pants that actually fit!

The cream buttons aren’t ideal, but I couldn’t find anything at Joann’s that was a match for the green. So I did the best I could with the options that I had. It’s so nice to have something in such a happy color for the spring!

IMG_3656I’ll admit that there is a part of me that can’t help wondering if this just makes me look huge. The bright white cami underneath doesn’t help that, I’m sure, but I had limited options that are actually wearable right now for me. I’m having a little trouble reconciling myself with my new, bigger size, even though I’d decided long ago to wait to actively try to lose the extra weight until I’m done nursing. Extra calories and all. But at least my older clothes are starting to somewhat fit again, even if they’re leaving me with obvious muffin tops that I didn’t have before. And I do like the style of this shirt very much! I’m thinking a flannel version for this winter would be lovely, though I’m wondering if not plaid might be the best way to go. All of that matching would be a pain with the pleats and waistband! But would a more solid or non-plaid print flannel just look weird? I don’t know.

On a slightly related note, to go back to those nursing bras, I did use some birthday money to buy the basic bra fitting/construction class on Craftsy. I still need to get a supply kit, which has to wait until I can figure out my post-nursing underwire size, but that will be an interesting project for the summer!