Summer pajamas, just in time for fall

Most of my August sewing time was dedicated to the continued restocking of my pajamas. My lightweight ones were getting particularly ratty, as they bore the brunt of both third trimesters and the most frequent nighttime nursing sessions. So I made myself two new sets, featuring some of my favorite things!

20180830_075432Since I’d already worked out the fitting adjustments for the Closet Case Carolyn pants back in the winter, I figured I’d keep rolling with that. Plus they have pockets. So I just copied the exact same backside adjustment when tracing out the shorts, and went for it for both pairs.

For the first set I finished, the most challenging part was forgetting to sew the back piece to the cuffs and having to unpick it. Oops. But it had also been awhile since I’d done a project with piping, so it was good to refresh my memory on how to handle that. The fabric is a quilting cotton that my mom gifted me last Christmas specifically for this purpose, with tea mugs all over.

20180830_075428The accompanying shirt is the tank version of the Sew Liberated Stasia tee, which I’d wanted to test anyway. I was hoping that I could have this one do double duty for wearing in public, since basic color tank tops are something I’ve found myself lacking in this summer. But alas, while this (rayon?) jersey knit is super comfortable to wear, it just didn’t have the right recovery, and adding the binding to the armholes stretched them out. You can see it a little better on the left side of the picture. Pajamas it is. That being said, I’m quite happy with the results otherwise, and will have to try this again with a less drapey knit. I think it just might be the basic tank pattern I’ve been looking for! I really seriously considered adding a stencil to the tee with a cute tea-related slogan, but it reached the point where I just needed to get it done.

20180831_090744For the second set, I made the Carolyn pajama top, which was new to me. It seems to fit very well straight out of the envelope (I made a size 14). The only changes I made were doing 4 buttons instead of 5 (I misplaced one during the sewing process and couldn’t find another in the stash to match), and swapping out the trim.

Flute pajamas close-up

When I went to Joann’s, they were completely out of white piping, and I didn’t want to spend my precious sewing time making plain piping. So I bought rickrack instead. It might have been too cutesy little girl on another fabric, but I think that it ended up complimenting my funky flutes well! The resulting scallops echoed the keyhole shapes in several flutes on the print very nicely.

20180831_090819Since this was a project I made in my mom’s sewing room and I didn’t want to rethread her serger, I did take the time on this set to finish the insides very nicely– French seams and hand stitching the facing to the shoulder seams and such. It’s another quilting cotton, and I was wearing this overnight before I took the pictures, which is why it’s a little wrinkled. It’s a very comfortable shirt to wear, though I generally prefer tees for sleeping. I’m actually quite tempted to try making one in a regular shirting fabric for everyday wear, though if I ever do that, I’ll definitely have to do something about that pooling in the back. The width across the back is good, though, so I don’t think it would be an issue for when I’m actually playing the flute and not just wearing them!

I’ve started my fall sewing now, but it’s still warm enough around here that I am getting at least some use out of these pajamas this season. I don’t think I’m quite done with this pattern yet, as I could use a pair of pajama pants that are lighter weight than flannel but warmer than shorts. But since I have other things to make that need to take higher priority, I seriously doubt I’ll get to it this year!

On a more personal note, since our two golden retrievers liked to photobomb me on here fairly regularly, it’s only fair to pay tribute to the one we had to put to sleep yesterday. The photo I have further up with the tea pajamas is one of the last ones I have of Malkin (the blonde retriever). We noticed back in April that he had a tumor growing on one of his front legs, but by that point, it was too late to try and do anything about it. So we’d just been trying to make him as comfortable as we could over the last several months. He took a turn for the worse this week, though, so it was time to end his suffering. He’ll be missed greatly, though, especially by Crosby (our redhead retriever) and Doug, who had both of the dogs before he met me. Rest in peace, boy.

Refashion Redemption Project: The nursing tee salvage job

This summer has felt a little weird for sewing to me. It’s not that I’ve lost my sewjo, but I seem to keep running into stretches where I just can’t do anything at either of my sewing locations and it’s taking forever to get anything done. Also, since I do most of my cutting out at my mom’s sewing room due to lack of space/kid-free time around the pointy things, I’ve been also running into situations where I finish a project at home and don’t have another project cut out and ready to start here yet. The good thing about that is that I’m finally getting back into some more refashioning as a result. 20180624_083423

I finished this tee a month or so ago, a self-drafted mashup of the complete fail that was last summer’s Sewaholic Renfrew nursing tee hack, plus the yardish of not-that-stretchy jersey left over from a Cake Hummingbird tee that I had to ditch pretty much immediately post-partum, because my waist will never be that small again.  (I should retrace and sew that one again

sometime, though.)

Making this tee was a pretty quick process. I didn’t really take any pictures while I was doing it, since I was trying to knock it out in one evening where I only had to worry about one kid for the night. (It was Hobbit’s birthday weekend, so he and my husband had a little overnight camping trip at his parents’ house, while I went home with Padawan because we didn’t want him anywhere near campfires or tent entrances in a backyard with a pool.) So the process was more or less the following:

  1. Put on the black tee and hold a tape measure around my chest where I thought the seam should go. (This was after a previous session of goofing around with the fabric and holding it in different places with the tee on to see where it would suit best.)
  2. Chalk the line in the front.
  3. Lay the tee flat on my cutting mat and cut through both layers at the line plus seam allowance. This resulted in a mildly curved cut line.
  4. Lay the fabric out, folded double, and trace that cut line from the tee directly onto the fabric, then trace out a flared sort of shape for the body of the tee.
  5. After I sewed the seams for the bodice and sides, I tried it on and decided a curved hem would be best. So I trimmed that and hemmed it on the coverstitch. And done!

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Overall, I think I like it. This usage definitely showcases the print better than the project it was left over from, I think. And somehow, in the course of my weight shift and subsequent closet purges, everything I owned in this kelly green type color left my closet, even though I still love green. So I’m glad to have some back! I can’t honestly say that I’ve been wearing it a ton this summer, though, because I’m also in this weird wardrobe place where my remaining separates just don’t seem to be going together, and I’ve been struggling to put outfits together all summer as a result. (Thus the two different bottoms in these photos where both are not-quite-solid denim.) That’s something I’m definitely going to have to work on remedying for the next warm season, though I’ve been feeling like it’s a bit too late for this year. (I’m currently wrapping up some needed summer pajamas, and then I’ll have to start thinking fall.) But I am hoping that this tee might see a little more use when jeans season rolls around again.

 

girl on fire

Back during Me Made May, one of my takeaways was that I should stop sewing things that aren’t my favorite colors, because I usually am disappointed with the results. Well, two months later… I completely threw that out of the window for this dress. But for once, I think I like this!

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See, I’m really not a pink girl at all. (Though, to be fair, this really looks fairly akin to the berry color of my last Bruyere top up close.) And I feel like orange is iffy on me, though I’ve gotten some surprising compliments when wearing it in the past. But when looking for some fabric for this maxi pattern that I’d just picked up, McCall’s 7350, this ITY that was on clearance at Fabric.com just screamed to me. It seriously helped that the colorway was called “Katniss”. Associations with fandoms that I enjoy never hurt if you want to take my money. And I thought that this pattern had sufficient drama to suit the Girl on Fire, at least in one of her more casual moments out of the arena.

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It’s a good thing that this fabric was so inexpensive, because I bought 5 yards of this stuff and used all but maybe half a yard. But I got the whole lot for just under $16, and it doesn’t feel like cheap polyester at all– it has a nice silky feel to it that kept me quite comfortable while wandering around between my side and the New Jersey side of the bay. But it is a fabric hog, at least as the maxi version. It’s hard to tell with the print, but there is a lot of gathering in the back. More than it would have had due to some fitting issues (more on that later), but it does give the skirt a nice swishy fullness. The cut-on cap sleeve worked nicely to keep my shoulders from getting burned while walking around, and while the skirt is a wrap in the front, I didn’t have too much difficulty with keeping the wardrobe malfunctions away– I just had to hold the one edge down every so often. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the ITY sewed on my coverstitch machine, too, after all of the issues I’ve had hemming the same type of fabric on my regular sewing machine. So since I have two more cuts of it in my stash, sewing them up seems much more accessible now.

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Twirly skirt drama! And now for more of an actual pattern review than I’ve had a chance to give for awhile, as I did end up making several changes. For one, knowing the Big 4 ease issues, I had a really difficult time figuring out what size to even cut out. After much debate and studying of the finished measurements, I decided on a 16 for the bodice and an 18 for the midriff and skirt. But then after trying it on partway through, I ended up taking a full inch out of either side of the midriff and tapering that up into the bodice. (Just like old times, since I always had to take stuff in at the waist pre-kids, so I actually felt good about this!) This meant that the front skirt overlapped more than it called for (which was probably a good thing for wardrobe malfunction avoidance), and the back skirt was more gathered than intended, but I think it worked out well.

20180720_184848I also raised the armscye half an inch after reading some reviews that said that it was a little too open under the arm, and this was a good change to make. It’s still a tiny bit low, as you can see from my selfie here, but my bra isn’t showing. It’s probably not quite visible here, but I did also add some additional zig zag stitching on the ruched midsection to help keep that a little more in place. The last time I had a ruched jersey piece on a dress, the weight of the fabric just made it look all weird and saggy around my waist, and who wants that? Part of me wishes that I’d added a line down the middle, since it still has a bit of that droopy cummerbund look, but I am glad that I added it where I did (around the more internal set of notches).

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One more selfie, to give a better view of the neckline. I did overlap this more than intended, because I was fairly certain that my bra would have been hanging out as is. At the very end of making this, I also added a hook and eye to keep this more closed. Too bad I didn’t have this last summer, because this view would have been quite nursing friendly! The way the collar was constructed was kind of funky, and I ended up having to hand stitch it in place inside because I could not figure out a better way to do it, but this sort of drapey shawl collar actually turned out pretty nice.

A few quibbles about the pattern, aside from the couple of things I mentioned:

  1. This was ridiculously long. I am not short (5’7″, so I’m on the slightly taller side of average), and I still had to chop a whole 6″ off of the bottom in order to not have a dramatic train happening. Which would have been cool, but also super-impractical with two little boys running around.
  2. The aforementioned collar construction, since I’m a little concerned about how my hand sewing will hold up in jersey, despite trying to give it a fairly stretchy stitch.
  3. I wish there had been some alternate way to add the elastic to the inside waistband mentioned. The instructions they gave to make a casing within the seam allowance, would have worked fine if I’d been constructing this entirely on my regular sewing machine, but since I’ve mentioned that my machine tends to not get along well with ITY, I was using the serger rather heavily. Which meant that I had to just zig zag the elastic to the overlocked seam, and it looks super messy inside and barely keeps the weight of the skirt in place. (I probably could have tightened it more, and may have to go back and fix that in the future, but after ditching a full 2″ from the circumference, I was having to guesstimate with the elastic pinned around where I thought it would land as it was. And the cardinal rule of dressing for anything where a wind instrument will be played is not to cut off your ribs’ ability to expand.

So would I make this again? I’m not sure I would as a dress, as there honestly isn’t a ton of room in my wardrobe for dresses these days. Making this one just felt frivolous and fun, which was a nice change after working on several wardrobe holes in a row. But now that I have the fitting more or less worked out, I could see myself making the shorter version as a tunic top of sorts, because I bet it would look great over some skinny pants or a more fitted short. And if I have learned one thing this summer, it’s that I definitely could use more sleeveless-ish things in my life. It’s been super-hard dressing for all of the humid, 90+ degree days lately!

I’m never wearing a bikini bottom again

IMG_7006Because I have shorts!

Seriously, this is really exciting for me. I have a lifelong hatred of swimsuit shopping, and the biggest reason is that the bottoms never quite matched my coverage comfort level. I’ve always felt that I had to get the boy cut to cover my entire backside, because the thought of my cheeks hanging out does not make for a relaxing beach day, but still wasn’t happy with the thigh coverage or how wide they make my hips look. So I’ve spent a lot of beach time in my life wearing my (often jeans) shorts over my suit, which was much more mentally comfortable for me than physically comfortable. I’m also super picky about the top. I generally like tankinis, because I get the coverage of a one piece without having to fully strip every time I need to use the toilet, but it’s hard to find those with bottoms that I’m happy with.

I knew a swimsuit would have to be attempted this year. I just didn’t have one that fit anymore, except for a hand me down, unsupportive one piece that was frankly embarrassing to wear. When I saw that Jalie has a shorts pattern with a built in swim bottom, it sounded like a dream come true!

So I bought the pattern, along with a one piece that looked a little more interesting and supportive than their tankini top. And the rash guard top, because I am descended from all of the palest people on earth and I’m tired of always missing a spot somewhere on my back or shoulders and getting burned! (I’ll be honest, I was seriously tempted to just use that as the top, because I will never wear just the tankini top outside now, but I wasn’t sure how to build the necessary bust support into that.) And a few pieces of swim knit from Cali Fabrics. I was hoping for an SPF fabric, but couldn’t find anything in colors and prints that I liked, and this blue and green abstract print was singing like a Siren. Of course I couldn’t resist.

IMG_7007The shorts came together pretty easily, especially for a first attempt at swimwear. The hardest parts were wrestling the elastic into something resembling submission, and that I still haven’t quite worked out tensioning on my coverstitch machine. But I think the finished results look good, at least when it’s on. (Thankfully, you can’t see the elastic stitching on the built in briefs, because that is a mess. My elastic technique needs practice.) The waistband construction is pretty clever, and it has pockets! I never want a normal swimsuit bottom again.

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The top is ok. Hacking it into a tankini top was easy, all I did was cut it off right at the leg hole. I like the twist front, but wish the cups were better. The swim cups I was able to find (from Joann’s) are a bit unnatural in shape, at least for me, and I honestly couldn’t figure out how to sew them in with good placement and the very open mesh I was able to find to line things. I’m telling myself that since they’re still removable, that will help with washing. But I do think that whenever I need a new swimsuit, which hopefully won’t be for awhile, I’ll look for a different top pattern. Like one with cup instructions. And maybe more bust support.

The other two changes I made to this were to hand stitch the twist so it would stay in place, since it kept slipping below the seam it was meant to cover, and to cross the straps in the back. I had the length, and figured it might help with support.

IMG_20180613_223737I did a little hacking on the rash guard, too. My main reason was that the zippers were all too long or too short. Every time I’ve tried pulling plastic teeth off, the edge is a frayed mess, so I decided to go with shorter and change the neckline to compensate. In retrospect, that was probably the best move anyway, because I’ve never liked clothes that are too tight around my neck. The turtlenecks I sometimes had to wear as a kid were torture. So I basically shortened the neckband, drew a sort of curvy V neck down to meet the zipper, and topstitched around the whole thing with the coverstitch machine. (See that whole triangle of the wrong side of the fabric? That’s all filled in on the original pattern.) I initially had a lot of trouble with the zipper installation, since the fabric was soooo stretchy, but a little piece of this roll of interfacing-like stuff that I found in my cart of sewing essentials made it sew in like a dream after that.

IMG_7013As for the fabric, I was very happy working with the print, as it had just enough texture to keep it from sliding all over the place. The solid black does have a shinier finish, and was a lot more slippery. I also used some meshy stuff for the lining bits, but severely overestimated how much I needed since I was basing my estimate on a fully lined one piece! So I’m not sure what to do with nearly 2 yards of beige powernet… I guess I’m set for life if I ever want to make skintone bras. Sigh.

Aside from the top, if I were making this again, I think I’d loosen the elastic around the internal briefs just a bit. And buy as little of the mesh as I could have. But aside from that, I’m overall pleased. I made this without any size alterations (using size Y). It’s a little whiskery in the shorts, but since they’re just meant to get wet and that will probably straighten it out anyway, I’m not going to sweat it. I did test this out yesterday for an Independence Day gathering at my in-laws’, who have a pool. It didn’t fall apart (yay!), the shorts didn’t do a lot of irritating riding up like the boy cut bottoms I had before often would, and I did successfully avoid sunburn (except for one teeny bit I missed near my scalp. Arrrrgh. #palepeopleproblems)!

IMG_7017 I can actually see myself getting some extra use out of the shorts and rash guard patterns, to be honest. The shorts could easily be used for workout shorts/bum around the house shorts, if I’m ever so inclined to make those, with the brief left out. (The pattern does actually suggest that, as tennis shorts.) And if I could find an appropriate fabric, the top could work out very well for hiking, I think! Which is something I’m trying to get back into, as much as I can with the age and listening abilities of the boys.

 

The long awaited Landers

IMG_6959As promised! I’m very pleased at how these turned out, especially since this is the first garment I’ve made that has a fitted waistband in about 3.5 years. Fitting pants has been a scary thought for me, with all of the changes that my body has gone through. I’ve honestly been having trouble resigning myself to my increased belly curviness and waist measurement, even if it’s for the best possible reasons. (One of whom is photobombing me here.) But since I only had about two pairs of shorts with varying degrees of actually fitting, by which I mean belts are a must, this was a necessary experiment.

I did have to make quite a few fitting tweaks, as you know if you follow my Instagram. (See above for an example.) My original plan was to make a wearable muslin before cutting into this super fun denim, but it quickly became apparent that it needed too much work. I had to take a  small wedge out of the center back seam to avoid the gapping, which I expected. But I also had to take some serious length out of both the front and back crotch curve altogether. I know it’s supposed to be high waisted, but it was just soooo saggy. I think that I’ll add a tiny bit of length back into the front crotch the next time, though, because these are just a little uncomfortably snug when I’m sitting, particularly in the car. Not enough to be a dealbreaker for this pair, but still. I also had to let out the hips quite a bit, so it’s a good thing that allowances for that were included in the pattern. I added several inches of length to the legs as well, because short shorts aren’t my thing.

IMG_6989But look at the results! I’m a fan of the patch pockets on these, the size is perfect for my phone and I like the 70s vibe. I also am digging this fabric. It’s an Art Gallery denim that my mom gave me at Christmas, and just basic/neutral enough of a print that I can experiment with some print mixing. I actually have about 2/3 yard left over, so I’m debating whether I want to try to squeeze out a skirt or mix it with another denim to make a jacket. The jacket would be cooler, but coordinating the denim could be tough. We’ll see. I like the texture of the fabric and it seems to be good quality so far, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for more. As for the buttons, they’re vintage, from a collection that my grandmother gave me while downsizing her stuff to move in with my parents.

IMG_6963This was my first time making a True Bias pattern, since I’m probably the only user of indie patterns on earth who hasn’t tried the Hudson pants or Ogden cami yet. I was pleased with how clear everything was in the instructions, especially since this was my first time making a button fly as well. I’ll likely get the zip add on at some point, because these will definitely get made again. In fact, I already have a piece of lightweight black twill marked to make the pants, so I’ll have to see if I can knock them out for the fall. I do think that the cleaner zip look might be good for that pair, since I often wear black pants in music performance contexts.

As the only pair of shorts that fit without constantly hiking them up, these have been in heavy rotation this summer. And it’s definitely a boost to my sewing/body confidence that I can still fit a non elastic bottom piece. Which is good, since I’m seriously itching for some me-made jeans in my life again!

Secret sewing, revealed

So, I made a quilt.

It’s not something I do often. The last time I made one was in 2010, so I guess I’m averaging one a decade? But my and Doug’s 5 year anniversary was earlier this month, and I wanted to do something special for him. One of my friends alerted me to a specific pattern awhile back that was absolutely perfect him. Because…

IMG_6951… It’s a hockey rink! This is the “Good Old Hockey Game” pattern, by Kirstie of Obsessive Crafting Disorder. My husband is a huge hockey fan. It’s the only sport he follows, he talks about it like I talk about my favorite geek topics with my friends, and his favorite team winning the Stanley Cup two years in a row probably ranks with the births of our sons in his top 5 highlights of our marriage so far. Like any serious sports fan, he sometimes gets a little stressed out during a tight game, so I thought a blanket to watch with might be a little comforting, you know?

As you may know if you’ve been following along here, my mom is a serious quilter. And I sew in our walk in closet. So the best way for me to keep it a secret was to do the entire project at her house while she watched the boys. I actually started this last July, to allow myself plenty of time. (Which was good, since I interrupted myself a lot for things like cutting out other projects and working on the coat that I still haven’t blogged from the winter. Oops.) She was a really huge help for things like helping me figure out  the best way to handle the appliques, and she even did the actual quilting for me because that was the part I was finding the most intimidating, with all of that white space. Thanks, Mom!!

IMG_6954This wasn’t the best stashbuster, because as a primarily garment sewist, I don’t have a ton of quilt cotton on hand anymore. But I did manage to use one stashed piece: one yard of the rare hockey print that actually showed up at Joann’s. I bought this back during my first pregnancy with the thought that I could make a car seat cover with it, but never actually made it. It’s probably just as well, because throwing a regular blanket over the car seat in the winter works just as well, and then the baby can use it in the car too. But I digress. Thankfully, the colors worked very well with what the quilt called for anyway!

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I think he liked it, because he’s insisted on having it on our bed ever since, despite the fact that it’s a twin size quilt on a queen size bed and it doesn’t quite cover anything on the sides! I’ll take that as a compliment, though.

Lessons learned from Me-Made May, part 2

I meant to post again 2/3 of the way through, but life kind of got away from me there. So here’s what I wore for the remaining 20ish days of the month:

Days 10-17

Row 1: A Kirsten Kimono Tee and my TARDIS-inspired Cake Hummingbird skirt hack// a purchased geeky tee and my Norwegian Wood Sewaholic Rae // my Alice in Wonderland fabric Sew Liberated Matcha Top with the yet-to-be-blogged Lander shorts // my chambray Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt with some bad-fitting black pants (I had an orchestra concert that day, and had to switch to all RTW later to fit their dress code requirements)

Row 2: take 2 of the Jalie Vanessa pants, a thrifted top, and a refashioned cardigan // another Kirsten Kimono tee and self-drafted skirt // a mildly refashioned (re-embellished, really) tank and a hack of the Deer & Doe Plantain into a cardigan // purchased jacket, thrifted tank, hacked Simplicity 7229 maxi-skirt

Days 18-24

Row 1: me-mended jeans, one of my Peekabook Patterns Uptown nursing camisoles and a thrifted tee // RTW jeans, super-ugly rain boots (men’s were all that fit), a refashioned button-up shirt and my Burda raincoat // an old Simplicity 5595 top from my grad school days (pre-blog), and a recently redyed Sewaholic Rae skirt // a Cashmerette Appleton dress with sleeve hack (same day as the previous, but I had a flute choir concert)

Row 2: a purchased graphic tee and self-drafted maxi skirt from the mid 2000’s (pre-blog) // a refashioned McCall’s 6885 shirt and RTW jeans // a Cake Tiramisu dress // a McCall’s 6559 tank dress, worn backwards (so it would cover my bra. Ugh.)

Days 25-31

Row 1: Take 2 of the Matcha top with RTW shorts // a slightly refashioned tank with the Lander shorts, take 3 // all Sewaholic with a Renfrew tee and my “exploding TARDIS” Rae skirt // trying a new mix with take 2 of both the Kirsten Kimono and the Simplicity maxi-skirt

Row 2: My Belle-inspired Colette Moneta/Cake Tiramisu mashup and refashioned cardi with a me-made infinity scarf // later switched to my new Sew Liberated Stasia tee and a refashioned maxi-skirt for a student recital // another iteration of the McCall’s 6559 tank dress

And now, my thoughts on what I learned. I think that this exercise was so good for me, probably more so than any other year that I’ve participated. This was only my second time doing it since becoming a mom, and it’s been a struggle to both figure out what my style is now and to start making peace with the changes to my shape and size since then. But I think I’m starting to get the hang of what practical needs I have, and just need to figure out how to make them my own style. So here’s my takeaways, aside from what I said in the last post…

My main wardrobe issue is lack of cohesion. Which I think I kind of knew. I don’t necessarily have too many closet orphans, but I do have some separates that definitely aren’t living up to their potential. Since they’re all things I still love, I need to plan some things to mix with them for some new combinations. What surprised me was how many of what I consider to be basics (i.e. pretty much any separate that’s a solid color) only go with only one other thing in my closet. Or one thing plus blue jeans. Which leads me to…

I don’t have to stop making prints! Thank God for that, because those are usually the projects that I get most excited about. I just need to start getting smarter about choosing prints that go with tops or bottoms that I already have in solids, that’s all.

How to not be bored with solids. My usual answer is “add a print”. But I’ve also realized through this that I’m much happier in solids where there’s either an interesting design element or some kind of texture. Like the ombre dyed skirt with all over tone-on-tone embroidery. Or the coral tee with metallic gold dots all over, even though it reads solid in the picture. Or my black Appleton dress with the sleeve detail. I’ll need to figure out how to play this out in the future, because…

I’m still lacking basics. The days that were hardest to dress for were casual days at home. Tank tops were a huge issue, as were tees that weren’t graphic. (On the plus side, I think I did a decent job of dressing up a couple of those geeky tees!) And while I had surprisingly few repeat garments this month, it’s very telling that the main things that got repeated were my very few pants/shorts. I’ve been hesitant to go through the fitting process, given that I’m just barely past nursing and have been trying to exercise more consistently. But the shorts boosted my confidence (I promise I’ll post more about those soon!) I also pretty much jumped on the Itch to Stitch Mountain View pull on jeans as soon as they released a few months ago, and I think that just might be the answer to my jeans-loving prayers for now. So I’d like to give those a try.

Bras are an issue. I struggled with that one a bit. I spent this month going from nighttime nursing only to no nursing at all, but have still had to wear my me-made nursing bras for a good chunk of the month. My Mother’s Day gift this year was allocated money and time to get some new ones, since I literally had only one non-nursing bra that was still wearable. And the store I got the gift card to, as it turned out, had very, very few options in what my size seems to be. As a result, I did end up with a few older makes that didn’t get worn because they couldn’t cover the straps and/or cups for what I had available. I was on the fence about whether to try delving into bra-making more, and I still don’t plan to do it any time soon because of the previous statement. But I think that at some point down the road, I’m going to have to suck it up and really learn to sew my own.

I need to stop wearing colors that I don’t love.  I seem to have settled into two different color palettes — the ocean tones/tropical brights that I love this time of year, and a more brown/olive/earth tones that I favor more in the fall, but it still creeps into my warmer weather clothes. (Plus black, because I’m a musician and all.) If I factor in my usual winter feelings of please anything with color because the entire world is grey and taupe and ugggggggh I hate taupe, I think I’m at the point where I need to just get rid of anything in my stash that doesn’t fall into that, where I can’t dye it into favorite colors submission. Let go of the guilt and make room for things I’ll be excited about sewing.

I landed on a really helpful way to organize my thoughts about my wardrobe holes!
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It’s a screenshot of something I already shared in Instagram, but I can’t seem to get the embed to work on this blog. Basically, I downloaded a free mind mapping app onto my phone, and have been using it to write down ideas for either things I’d like to make and what in my closet they’ll go with, or things I need to go with things already in my closet.

Casual clothes. I know I already said it, but that’s the biggest hole.  I kind of hate much of the athleisure aesthetic, since I’m not personally comfortable with leggings as pants or looking like I’m heading for the gym all the time. But the fact is that I have two rather active toddler boys. And I do need clothes that I can sit on the floor and go to the park and pull out supplies for messier activities without worrying about permanent stains. So I do need to figure out some things there. I finally got the True Bias Hudson pants pattern, and my mom picked up a cute hoodie pattern that I’d like to try. So there’s some possibilities. But what else can I do for stay-at-home mom clothes that still feels like me?

I need a me-made winter clothes challenge. I don’t know if it’ll happen this year. But I always feel like my cold weather wardrobe is so blah, and I’d like to get some similar insights into what I can do to feel better about dressing for my least favorite time of year.

Lessons learned from Me Made May, part 1 (and a new top)

We’re about a third of the way through Me-Made May now, so I thought it would be a good place to recap what I’ve been thinking so far, share what I’ve been wearing, and show off my most recent finished project! Let’s start with the latter, shall we?

Stasia 1 This is the Stasia tee from Sew Liberated. I had it on my Make Nine list for this year, and one of the things I really loved about this pattern as soon as it was released was that it had options for both a tee and a dress. I’m sure that the dress will get made at some point– I have an ITY that’s perfect for the shorter version, and the maxi version has been calling my name since I first laid eyes on it. But since I’m really trying to build up my TNT stash, and the top was the perfect way to test the fit, I figured I’d start there.

Stasia 2 The color is pretty plain vanilla, but one thing I’ve been trying to add to my closet for awhile is a cream tee to go with some of my crazier print skirts, like the Gabriola I’m wearing it with here. This fabric was an unplanned recent purchase at Joann’s. But I loved that it has this faux cable texture, which kept it from feeling too boring in my head, and it was actually thick enough that you can’t see undergarments through it. That is so hard to find in cream. The fabric was easy to work with, coverstitched like a dream, and I was efficient enough with my layout that I have a substantial chunk left. I’m thinking I may have to hack together a hoodie out of remnants at some point, because wouldn’t this make a lovely hood?

Stasia back The tee pattern was really great to work with, too. I finished this in two sessions– one for cutting, and one for sewing in its entirety, so this is a great palate-cleanser sew. I made it as is out of the envelope, aside from I graded up one size between my waist and hips (yeah, I think I’m a little more pear-shaped than I used to be, thanks kids), which I think worked out well for me. The pooling isn’t quite as bad in the back as it looks here, I was kind of twisting for this stance. I like the little scoop in the back. I also think it can easily stand in with my beloved Renfrew and Plantain patterns as a basic, hackable tee without feeling redundant. Also, it can be made as a tank, and I really don’t have a good knit tank pattern, so this tee gives me high hopes for this! I would very much recommend the pattern, and don’t be surprised if you see it popping up again before long. (If nothing else, I have plans and fabric to use it to make a top for some much-needed summer pjs.)

Now, onto Me-Made May…

Days 1-9 collage

Here’s what I’ve been wearing so far, for days 1-9. (Note: I skipped last Saturday, since we were doing yardwork for a big chunk of the day, but I did have two outfits for Sunday.)

Row 1: My Jalie Vanessa pants, a hem-hacked Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee and a thrifted cardigan // a hoodie-hacked Renfrew with thrifted jeans // a maxi-fied Cake Tiramisu dress

Row 2: My new True Bias Lander shorts (not yet blogged, but hopefully will be soon) and a RTW graphic tee // The Stasia tee from above with my Sewaholic Gabriola skirt, and then switched to a slightly refashioned thrifted jacket with some jeans that I recently did some invisible mending on. (Yes, I’m totally counting those as me-made at this point.)

Row 3: One of my Deer & Doe Bruyere shirts, sleeves rolled up, with RTW jeans // My Seamwork Mesa with Cake Espresso leggings // an old Simplicity 2883 hack with the me-mended jeans

And here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. I still have a lot more handmade garments than I thought. I counted up my entire me – made wardrobe, not counting maternity clothes, outerwear coats, or things in my refashion bin, just before May. At the time, I had around 70 different pieces. (This was including long sleeves, so I wasn’t necessarily planning to wear everything over the course of the month.) It’s just that after multiple necessary closet purges over the last couple of years, a lot of what I have are at least semi-orphans.

2. The surprising hole in my wardrobe. What honestly surprised me was how hard it was to find things to wear on the more temperate days when I had to dress in what passes for work-appropriate for me! The hot days were easy, I could just bust out a maxi dress and be done with it. But I seem to be oddly lacking in short-sleeved separates. It doesn’t help that I only have four pairs of pants that fit and can be considered work-appropriate in my closet right now– my tencel denim Jalie pants, and 3 pairs of Old Navy jeans in grey, mustard, and teal. Somehow, the only top I have that goes with both the mustard and the teal is the plain cream Stasia tee that I just made. Which leads me to ask, how do I not have short sleeved stuff that goes with teal?! I mean, that’s basically a neutral for me!

3. The not surprising hole in my wardrobe. I knew going into this that casual at-home days were going to be a struggle to find something I made to wear, which is a big part of the reason why I signed up for 4 days a week. I do have a vague plan to sew some more casual tops and pants at some point, though I don’t necessarily have patterns in mind yet, nor do I feel a need to go 100% on my me-mades. I’ll be honest, the one thing in RTW that I’d probably have the most trouble letting go of is geeky graphic tees. I do love wearing my fandoms on my sleeve, so to speak. But the other thing is that the boys are getting to an age where dirt and art supplies are going to be a more daily part of life, and I do need some things that are either super-easy to get stains out of, or that I don’t care if I mess up.

4. I need to stop making 3/4 sleeved tops and start making more layering pieces. Seriously, they’re virtually useless in this climate. Mid-Atlantic seasons tend to bounce between winter straight to summer, with occasional weeks of spring and maybe about 4 weeks of autumn. I’m ok with the Bruyere, since it’s really long sleeved and I could just roll the sleeves up, and the cardigan because I can just take that off when it’s warmer, but the Simplicity top was feeling a little too warm by the afternoon.

5. Thoughts on more specific garments:

  • The Kirsten Kimono tee isn’t the best-fitting thing I have, since it’s pretty tight around the hips. It fits very well in the top, so now that I have the Stasia tee to fill the cream shirt hole, I’m strongly considering hacking it off below the armholes and refashioning it somehow.
  • I found myself wondering the entire day if the gold hoodie tee was too plain. It was originally made as part of a Minion costume, but I don’t see myself doing that costume again anytime soon. I actually did get some compliments on it while wearing it out of the house, but I’m still wondering if it needs some printing up with an applique or some block printing or something?
  • It’s super high waisted now, but I’m glad this Gabriola still fits. I was actually going to originally wear a different skirt that day, but I couldn’t even zip that one up. I’d still like to make the pattern again sometime, but I think I’ll need to size up.
  • This may be the last hurrah for the Simplicity top. While there are still things I like about it, mostly the silhouette and the cut of the sleeves, the waist tie is kind of uncomfortable now. (It keeps rolling up and pulling further into my chest, which may be a problem solved when I actually have non-nursing bras with underwires again, but I don’t have that right now.) Also, I’m feeling pretty meh about the background color of the print, and blue jeans are the only thing I have in my closet that this actually goes with, since it doesn’t really fit the palette I’m going for overall. I’m not necessarily saying I want to go full out capsule wardrobe, but I’d like a little more versatility than that.

So, to sum up, the number one thing on my sewing wishlist from this first third of the month is short-sleeved knit tops in prints that go with mustard and/or teal. I wonder if I even have anything like that in my stash!

in which I make a bunch of kid stuff

Once again, I’ve fallen behind on the blogging! So I figured I’d knock out two projects at once. Really four projects, because I made one of each of them for both of my boys, but still.

IMG_6145The first project was the main gift in each of their Easter baskets this year. The “Kid City” play mat pattern from Peekaboo Patterns came out near the end of last year, and I just could not resist. Here, you can see them tucked into their Easter baskets (my mom made them the baskets, I wanted some small ones that we could reuse every year), along with a book each and an age-appropriate snack.

So what do they look like?

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Hobbit has had an increasing obsession with all things dinosaur since he was 18 months old. So of course I had to make him a dinosaur house. The inside has a batik print fabric that I thought had a prehistoric lava filled cave look to it, and I painted the fold out part with plants and a lake so his dinosaurs can drink.

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The outside is painted with shrubs and palm trees and a volcano to make a little prehistoric world.

IMG_6442It’s a little early to tell what Padawan is into, but he seems to be gravitating towards cars and trucks. So I made him a construction site house. This is what the outside looks like…

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…and I modeled the inside after the artwork in “Good Night Good Night Construction Site”, which has been a favorite book.

If I was making them again, I think I’d add a little batting over the plastic canvas to have the fabric sit over it better. It was listed on the instructions as optional, but it probably shouldn’t be. I also had to hand stitch a lot more than it called for, because there were so many different colors involved that I didn’t want obvious misses on the “stitch in the ditch” directions to close up the canvas inside. Aside from that, and just the time it took to paint, it really wasn’t hard to put together, and I could see myself using this pattern again sometime, if circumstances call for it. (Future hobbit house, maybe?) This was also a really good scrapbuster! Everything except the construction truck fabric and the red fabric for the roof of that house was already in my stash. The checked fabric for the night sky was left over from the lining of a bag I made ages ago, probably back in college. The cloud fabric was left over from my flamingo wrap skirt. The batik was some random scrap from my mom, the solid green was from the baby play gym, and I forget where the brown was from, but it was there. I didn’t entirely use up any piece of fabric, but every little bit helps.

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The other thing I made for them recently was their shirts!  This is the Ringer tee from Brindille & Twig, which is a free pattern! I got the dog print a couple of Christmasses ago, specifically to make boy clothes, and figured I should use it before the boys outgrew the single yard I had. I needn’t have worried, since I was easily able to get two entire shirts out, and still have about a third of a yard left! Here’s Hobbit being a very good model. It was really gratifying that when they woke up from the naptime that I finished sewing these during, and I told him I’d finished up his new doggie shirt, he insisted that he and his brother should wear them right away! I made him the size 3-4, since he’s currently wearing 3T in RTW.

IMG_6433 This is about the best shot I could get of my less cooperative model. He’s walking now, and will not stay still, so every single picture I took of him blurred in some way. This was one of the best ones. Anyway, Padawan is on the small side for his age, and is still pretty firmly in 9-12 month clothes, despite being close to 13 months old now. But I made him the 18 month size so he could at least wear it through the summer. It definitely has room to grow, but isn’t ridiculously huge on him.

It was a really easy pattern to sew, especially since I could construct it entirely on my serger. I did do a little bit of hand basting just to get the intersection of the side and sleeve seams to line up correctly, because it always seems to shift on my serger no matter how much I pin. That worked out well, so I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and do that on my knit projects from now on. The only issue I had was that I accidentally sewed the neck ribbing on Padawan’s shirt backwards, so that the seam is in the front, but I don’t think I’ll bother to fix it since he doesn’t seem bothered by it. The pattern goes up to size 6T, so I’ll very likely use it again. It’s a bit of a looser cut than the Ottobre pattern that I tried out, which I think they’ll probably like better. Their daddy likes his shirts oversized, and they seem to like things a little looser too. And I liked that I didn’t have to fiddle with coverstitching such a tiny sleeve opening on Padawan’s shirt in particular! I do have some of the black ribbing left over, and another yard of boy-friendly print fabric that would coordinate, so maybe I’ll tackle that one next year or something.

This probably won’t be the last of my sewing for the boys this year. I have an adorable coat pattern that I’m itching to sew up for each of them, before they get old enough to be self conscious about wearing animal coats. And Hobbit keeps asking me to make him a Tyrannosaurus Rex costume. Guess I know what I’m doing for Halloween this year…

A quarterly check-in and Me Made May

I can’t believe it’s April already! I thought that this year, rather than remembering I have sewing goals that I’d set for myself in November and frantically trying to see if I did them, I’d review them in more of a quarterly fashion to help me stay on track. Besides, I still haven’t managed to get photos of the jacket I finished in January, and I’m stuck in a muslin/fitting stage of my current project. So here goes!

First up, Me-Made May. I haven’t participated in this in awhile. Last year, I was only 2 weeks postpartum at the start, and if you’ve been following here for awhile, you know how much havoc my two pregnancies have wreaked on both my body and my handmade wardrobe. But I’m finally in a good place to play along again– Padawan is only nursing at night now, and since he’s nearly a year old, there’s a good chance that I might be done altogether by then. So I don’t have to worry about nursing friendliness! My official pledge is:

“I, Becky of sewadagio.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear something me made 4 times a week. I also endeavor to work in as many of my non-nursing friendly me-mades as are seasonally appropriate, in order to determine what still works for my lifestyle and body.”

Unofficially, I have a couple other things I’m hoping to accomplish through this challenge:
– Figure out some ways to style my Jalie Vanessa pants that I made last year, since I haven’t quite sorted that out yet.
– One of my goals for this year is to build towards some small capsules within my wardrobe. So I’m hoping to figure out which pieces in my wardrobe would be good ones to build off of, so I can figure out the holes and how to fill them. I already know that casual clothes for my at-home days are a major hole, but that might be something I have to work towards for next year, since that mostly doesn’t line up well with my Make Nine plans for the year.

Speaking of Make Nine… I’ve only finished one thing so far, the Carolyn Pajama pants. (Which, fortunately, ties in well with my goal of revamping my pajamas. I’m halfway done this one, since my winter ones are all finished!) I’m working on my second project currently, which is the True Bias Lander pants in the shorts view. My wearable muslin has turned out to be highly unwearable, due to some major fitting tweaks that need to happen, but thankfully it’s fabric that I really didn’t care for the color of. (I would have attempted to dye them if they’d worked.) I’m hoping to get the fitting changes made on my pattern and at least get the real version cut out this week. I admittedly got rather sidetracked by Easter gifts for my boys, which I’ll share more about soon, and my entry for the Day and Night Dress Challenge. So if I want to have a decent shot at working through these projects, I’ll need to be more focused going into the summer for sure.

I am hoping to tackle the swimsuit before too long. I’d love to get it done in time for Memorial Day. I do have patterns and fabric chosen and safely stored in my sewing closet now. So that’s progress, I suppose.