catching up

I have two projects to share today.

My goal for Me Made May was to focus on the making end of things, and specifically to experiment on using up some scraps and refashion bin items. In typical fashion, I overestimated how much I might be able to handle, and pulled out probably 5-6 options so I could follow my whims. And then I only sewed one thing. But I am pleased with how it turned out, and I needed an easy win.

It’s the Pony tank by Chalk and Notch, which I already made twice last year. (Though I only recently got to check the fit without the baby bump!) I made this one two-tone to use up some remnants. I’m pretty sure the black was from my nursing tank, and the coral was a piece that I snagged from my mom’s leftovers.

I didn’t have quite enough of the black to cut it as a full piece, so I pieced it together at the straps. My original plan was to make it so either side could be the front, so I cut it with the v on both sides. I also originally intended to make the black side solid, but I underestimated how much extra length I’d need to add for the extra v. And even though I pieced both that and the armholes, I didn’t even have enough left to add to that! So I recut it with the coral. Aside from the “design details”, the construction was straightforward, with the main difficulty being my usual kid-related time constraints.

Speaking of the kids, the other project was for my daughter. This is the Lucy dress, by Peekaboo Pattern Shop. It’s a simple little dress, but it took me several months to make. I added appliques from the leftover lace from my wedding dress to make it extra special, since I was planning to use this as her baptism dress, and I had to hand stitch those down. I also changed the hem to a faced one, to protect the stitching inside. Whether I can actually use it for her baptism is TBD, since my church hasn’t been able to reopen yet. And that admittedly slowed me down, just like with the chambray dress, since I was mentally struggling with that probability.

Aside from the lace, I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash, so the rest of this was part of my one fabric purchase this year. The fabric is the “Manchester” cotton from Kaufman, and it’s a lovely textured yarn- dyed shirting. I ended up buying a couple extra yards of the blue, and still have quite a bit of the minimum order yard of white left over. I’m not really sure what to do with it yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Eventually.

Since then, I’ve been slowly chipping away at a rather basic knit project. My sewjo is pretty nonexistent right now, between current events weighing on my mind, coming off another round of sudden unemployment (for my husband, the pandemic has destroyed the little bit of flute teaching that I had left), baby sleep regression, and trying to plan for the upcoming school year. (Today is my oldest son’s birthday, and I’m wondering how I already have a kindergartener!) It’s hard to not feel guilty about not sewing much, when I look in my closet and see the shelves of fabric waiting to turn into fun new projects. But I’ve been in this place of extended lack of sewing motivation before, going into my senior year of college with multiple stress factors happening at once. I think it’s safe to say this year qualifies! So it’ll come back. Eventually.

This took forever

It really did feel like it! I started this dress way back in February, intending for it to be part of the Sewcialists’ Denim month. Clearly, I should not try to sew clothes for challenges with deadlines during my current life stage. It took me over 3 months to make this thing.

This is Simplicity 8830, a shirtdress and tunic designed by Mimi G. I’ve been wanting a simple chambray dress that could be styled in different ways for awhile, and genuinely needed something new and nursing-friendly that I could wear to church. (You know, a long time ago when we could actually go places and be around people.) I thought the fit on this one would be pretty forgiving while my body is still trying to figure out where it wants to settle after this last pregnancy.

Things started off well on this one. I genuinely enjoy projects that have a lot of nice details, so I was having fun with all of the topstitching. I did initially change a few things on purpose. Aside from my usual inch added on the sleeves, I borrowed the yoke instructions and sleeve tab from the Itch to Stitch Mila shirt that I made right before this, so that I could enclose the yoke with my contrast fabric and give the sleeves a good roll when I want them to. I also decided to do bias bound seams on the sleeves for that same reason. I used a scrap of blue floral quilt cotton for the binding, the inside of the collar/ pocket flaps/ yoke facing, the in seam pockets, the facing for the epaulets, and had enough bias binding left to make a narrow faced hem. It was part design decision, but I really ran out of the stashed chambray that I’d chosen, and so I had very little fabric left over from either piece!

I did run into an issue with the fitting. It took some serious thought to choose a size to sew, because the ease given was ridiculous. My current measurements for the big 4 put me in an 18, but I sized down to a 16 so I wouldn’t end up with 8″ of ease around my chest. I really wish that the pattern had given the finished hip measurement as well as the bust. After I sewed the side seams and tried it on to figure out the button placement, it barely pinned together over my hips! I had just enough in my chambray scraps to cut two wedges out, which I inserted from just above the side pockets to the hem to give it a little more of an A line shape. That didn’t show up that great in any of my pictures, but I wanted that to blend in, so mission accomplished?

I do remember having to add a similar wedge in the last time I made a woven McCall’s pattern, so I guess grading up a size or two in my hips is going to have to be my thing now. But seriously, I could have avoided that whole process if they’d just given that one extra finished measurement.

A closer up of the contrast fabric, in the hem.

Aside from the fitting, this dress suffered from a severe loss of sewing motivation. I was working through all of those topstitching details when the world started shutting down, and once the hip issue showed up, my sewing slowed to a snail’s pace. Part of it was just the usual kid stuff, like the baby is teething and not always easy to get to sleep. But I thought that, without my usual 1-2 rehearsals during the week, I’d be sewing more. That hasn’t been the case.

It took me several weeks to realize that making this dress, as well as the baby dress that I’ve been hand- embellishing on the side, was suddenly making me sad. I don’t know when I’ll actually get to wear it, because I don’t feel like I’m in a place right now where I can dress up, even in a casual piece like this, to just stay home. My life at home is messy, with baby spit-up and purees, and a sticky-handed toddler. (I guess he’s kind of a preschooler now, since he turned 3 recently.) There’s been lots of extra baking, since bread supplies aren’t reliable and homemade bread is a comforting thing. My older boy wants to do crafts and science experiments often, which is good, but still messy. And there hasn’t been anything that I normally dress nicer for, like church activities or music lessons. So I’ve mostly been living in graphic tees and jeans/ stretchy pants. I couldn’t even be bothered to dress for Me Made May this year, since there is only so many ways one can style already-pilling gray Hudson pants.

I think that I’m having a little bit of a sewing identity crisis. I know that we’ll get back to going to church, hopefully sooner rather than later, because streaming services for months has turned out to be a sad substitute. What is more questionable is my music life. I’ve read reports on how vocal groups probably won’t be able to meet again until a cure or vaccine is found, and the flute is very similar in air production. Plus, unlike all of the other wind instruments, you blow across the mouthpiece instead of in, so it’s the most difficult wind instrument to contain. So I don’t know what this means for my community orchestra. I don’t know if my teaching will recover, since my student count had already taken a huge hit during my last pregnancy due to students graduating or just being too overwhelmed with school activities. (Oh, the irony.) So all that I had was two students left, and Zoom lessons weren’t great for either situation for various reasons. We had already decided to continue homeschooling in the fall, since preschool with my oldest has been working out well. So I’m wondering, if I’m “just” a stay at home mom now, what do I sew?

I’m doing an experiment during May that I hope will help. And I know that better fitting jeans are a wardrobe hole. But I may need to seriously rethink how I’m going to use my fabrics now.

Just in time for early spring…

(Note: I wrote this post before the the pandemic stated shutting everything down, I just hadn’t had a chance to add the pictures. My computer time is currently very limited, as my husband is working from home, so I’m just doing the best I can to finish this on my phone. Stay well, everyone. (And stay home!)

I finished a snuggly flannel shirt that I may or may not get to wear again this season. (It’s been hovering in the 50s and 60s since the beginning of the month!)

The details: I cut a size 10 in the bust, with a DD cup size, and graded to a 14 in the hips. I’m having to accept that after 3 babies, this is just my new normal! I also added an extra inch of length to the sleeves, as has been my normal for pretty much my entire sewing life. I added an extra button to the placket, since 3 just was not enough for where I had to center it. Aside from that and the plaid matching, which was a minor fail on one sleeve, it was pretty straightforward. I do wish that I’d put the pocket lower, it looks oddly high on me (thanks, nursing and gravity), but I’m not bothered enough to take the time to move it.

The pattern is the Mila shirt, from Itch to Stitch, since I’m apparently fangirling over her patterns like I used to do with Sewaholic back in the day. It’s made from a rather cozy flannel plaid, I think maybe a Kaufman, but I’m not 100% sure since this was a Christmas gift from my mom during the massive stash build of 2018. I’m much more pleased with how my size guesstimate turned out here, since this was also a shirt that I cut out while pregnant.

I was really happy with her instructions overall. The bottom of the placket was a bit fiddly, and probably would have worked better in a thinner fabric, but the burrito yoke was magic. I’ve tried the technique before, but it worked so much better on this one. So much so, that I’m reusing the instructions to add a facing on my current project! I also really like how the collar turned out, and I’m glad that I used the sleeve tabs (also to be reused on the current project), as I think that will give me a better chance of wearing it into the spring. Really, my only true regret with this project is that it took me 6 weeks to get through it all, but that can’t be helped with my current limits. I think that once I get through the projects that I’m currently making, I’m going to have to seriously consider sewing a season ahead of the current one. Depending on my wardrobe needs, I may just skip the summer clothes this year and dive right into some fallish things!

A Fine Feathered Visby

My first 2020 project is in the books! This is the Visby Henley from Itch to Stitch. I’m hoping to start doing better at utilizing my Pattern Review account this year, so here’s my official review:

Pattern Description:
From the website: “The Visby Henley & Top will become your favorite wardrobe staple. Wear this long sleeve pullover by itself on a warm day, or as a base layer underneath a snuggly sweater on a cool night. The Visby comes as a classic henley, but you also have the option to add a hood or skip the buttoned placket altogether. You also have the choice to add a bottom band!”

Pattern Sizing: 0-20. I made a 14, graded to 16 in the hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes! The biggest struggle I had was with the placket, as the length ended up being over an inch off from where the slit was cut to. But that easily could have been user error rather than a drafting error, as having a baby around means I’m rather tired all the time.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I like: The length of the shirt is great, especially for not riding up too far when I’m having to get down on the floor. The cuffs are a stylish touch, and overall, the shirt is very comfortable. As mentioned, I did have a small struggle with the placket, but since this shirt also has a plain front and a hoodie view, I don’t think that’s enough to stop making this one.

Fabric Used: Two fairly heavy cotton jerseys. I’m fairly certain the bird one is Art Gallery.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: As mentioned, I did grade the hips out one size, and I also lengthened the arms about 1″ (a standard change for me). I also sewed the buttons on non-functionally, because once I realized that the placket wouldn’t look right if I made it deep enough to be nursing friendly, I didn’t want to bother sewing buttonholes into jersey.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, and yes.

Conclusion: A nice wardrobe builder tee, with lots of potential for fun fabric mixing.

Now for a few unofficial thoughts:

  • I really do think I’d make this again, as I like the raglan style and don’t have much else in my wardrobe that fits that for a tee. But whenever I do get around to making a second one, I think I may size down in the bust and sleeves. I guessed at my sizing based on previous nursing-era measurements while I was cutting this out, since I was still pregnant at the time, and I do feel like it’s a little too baggy up top.
  • I know there’s a giant swayback puddling in the back, but that’s just my figure, and it’s not something that bothers me so much that I’m going to do a lot of fiddling with darts in a knit tee.
  • The disapproving-looking owl right there near the back makes me happy.
  • I really need to work on my model poses, don’t I? I actually had someone to take the pictures this time (my husband), and he was just snapping at random while I didn’t know when the pictures were being taken. Thus the “staring epically into the distance” pose, since it was honestly the best one.

2019, wrapped

Now that I have completed my first project of 2020, I realized that I have several things I never actually blogged from the end of last year. So even though I’m still mostly limited to phone photos, I’ll go ahead and get caught up on that.

20191209_120440First up: the Harper Cardigan from Sinclair Patterns. This one was a rather spontaneous make. Those of you who listen to the Love to Sew podcast regularly probably remember when Helen and Caroline suggested adding hashtags with your city/state/whatever sews in order to make some local sewing friends. Well, I did do that for my state with a couple of Instagram posts shortly after, but for a long time, no one actually ever used it but me. So I stopped. And then, well over a year later, I suddenly got a comment on one of those posts letting me know that there was actually a Facebook group for local sewists in my state! Which I joined immediately, and then also convinced my mom to join, lol. Shortly after, some people in the group thought it would be fun to do a virtual sewalong, and after some discussion, we chose this pattern. It’s a free one, so easily accessible. What drew me to it was the duster length, as I do like the drama of a long cardigan, and this one is still fairly practical with the kiddos since it’s not down to my ankles or anything.

I used one of the fabrics that I picked up years ago on my Paris trip, as it is a rather sheer knit and therefore inappropriate for any shirt or dress type projects. It may have been a tad too lightweight for this particular pattern, but it works ok. This also ended up being a quick sew, which is good. My main issue with it was the split hem, as I wanted to use my coverstitch and it doesn’t navigate the pivots very well. I’ll have to see if I can find some tricks for that. Either way, I’m happy to finally have this out of the stash and in my wardrobe! Overall, I don’t think this will replace the Blackwood Cardigan as my go-to, even though I’ve also only made one Blackwood to date, but it was a fun alternative. I did get a length of sweater knit for Christmas that I’m considering turning into a second one of these at some point, since I already did cut two more Blackwoods out from the rest of the haul!

20191221_194428The project that ended up taking most of my December sewing time was these 4 skirts. A friend at church asked me if I’d make some skirts for her two daughters and two nieces from some Ankara that she’d picked up during a trip to Africa during the summer. (She also offered immediately to pay, which was nice!) I’d never had an opportunity to sew with wax print, so that made it more exciting for me. The pattern is the skirt portion of the Ainsley dress, by Made For Mermaids. It’s a straightforward pattern, though I had a few hiccups– mostly in the form of not quite having enough length to finish cutting the skirts for the two older girls. My friend was very understanding and accommodating, so I just used a similar weight black woven in my stash to make up the extra length, and finished this shortly before Christmas. It looks like a cute pattern, and I can see myself using this again in a few years when my daughter can fit into it.

20191225_060448Speaking of my daughter, my last project of the year was for her first Christmas. Back when I first started planning those wolf sweatshirts, my older boy suggested that I should also make something reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood for her. Then I spotted the red crushed velvet at Joann’s, and decided to go for it. The pattern is the same Ottobre hoodie pattern that I used for her a few months ago, with a few tweaks. After several weeks of trying to sort out how to handle the edges, since I was concerned that the fold-over elastic treatment that the original pattern used would make the velvet look cheap, I decided to just add some extra hem allowance and coverstitch those edges instead. I also scooped out the front neckline a bit more and eliminated the front zipper, both for time and for not having to deal with those edges.

In retrospect, I think I probably should have sized up a little more– I made this just one size larger than the original, since that one still fits her– but I suspect this one isn’t going to fit her for long. But it was a very cute, casually fancy first Christmas outfit for her. I’m considering keeping this one and cutting it down some, because I still have the American Girl doll that I saved up for as a kid, but only one outfit for her.  It’s obviously too early to say if she’s going to be into dolls at all, but if she is, I don’t mind the idea of recycling some of these things into some new doll outfits for her to play with.  (Now that I have a daughter, I’m kind of kicking myself for not keeping the things my mom made back in the day from the official AG sewing patterns to beef up her wardrobe, but I’ve since learned that someone shared the original sewing patterns as free pdf downloads. So I can reconstruct the historic-based outfits, too!)

A decade in review

I was catching up on some blogs, and saw a post from Doctor T Designs where she did a retrospective on her best projects from the last decade. Since I’ve been writing about my sewing for well over that, I thought it might be fun to do the same thing. Fortunately, I’ve long been a fan of the year end review, so finding my favorites from each year was easy! So let’s hop into the TARDIS and do a little time traveling to see the best 10 projects of the 2010s, shall we?

Burdastyle 5/2009, #110

2010: This was basically the Golden Age of my crafting life. I was single and working multiple jobs, but I spent a lot of my free time making stuff. So I was working a lot on improving my sewing technique. I was making jewelry. I was dabbling in screenprinting, and doing paper scrapbooks. I was also subscribed to BurdaStyle at the time, and as someone who grew up sewing the Big 4 almost exclusively, this was my stepping stone into the world of indie patterns. I was so proud of how this blouse turned out, and wore it often. It’s no longer in my wardrobe, as it was too fitted for all of the body changes that this decade brought me. Maybe I should see if the pattern is anywhere near my current size and give this one a reboot!

A multi-Burda hack job

2011: It looks like this was a year that I was really into experimenting. While trying to find the pattern for this pair of pants (which turned out to be 3 patterns), I came across a bunch of refashions. I seemed to have been rather into knitting that year, too, and finished my first sweater. As for these pants, they were directly inspired by a pair I’d seen from Anthropologie, which was a favorite inspiration source at the time. On a personal note, this was also the year that I met and started dating Doug, though not till the end of the year!

My first jeans!

2012. This was the year that I got engaged. This was also the year that I made my first successful pair of real jeans! They weren’t perfect, and haven’t fit since about 2015, but they were a great learning experience. I’d love to take on a project like this again.

The biggest sewing project of my life!

2013, and picking the project for this year was a no brainer! The first half of this year was almost exclusively focused on wedding planning and crafting. Including this little number, loaded with couture techniques and yards upon yards of fabric. I can’t imagine how much of that I would have needed if I’d done a train!

Vogue peacoat

2014 was a tough year to choose a favorite! I was sewing a lot of Sewaholic at the time, including multiple pairs of Thurlow pants (another pattern that I need to revisit). But in the end, I picked my heavy, nonwool winter coat. It’s still going strong 6 years later, and I cannot believe it’s been that long since I made it!

Maternity, or not maternity?

2015 was a game changer for me, for both life and sewing, as it was the year that my older son was born. So I did a lot of pattern hacking for maternity clothes, as most designers I knew of then didn’t start putting out maternity patterns until after. That includes this altered Simplicity pattern, which I still wear frequently as a non maternity skirt as well.

Cashmerette Appleton dress

2016 is currently kind of a blur in my head, between the toddler who refused to sleep through the night until the end of that year and ending up pregnant again more quickly than I’d expected! But I did have time to make a few things, including this hacked sleeve Appleton dress. I was pleased that it ended up how I’d pictured it in my head. This one is also still in my closet, though it’s definitely in need of some layering with the nursing factor!

Jalie Vanessa pants

2017: the year my second son was born, which meant a big learning curve in adjusting to being a mom to multiple kids! My best of the year for this one is a little surprising, as I was on the fence about whether the Vanessa pants were a win or fail in my top 5 roundup. But they’ve turned out to be versatile, at least for the warmer months, and I actually have fabric to make a second pair now. (A Deer & Doe Bruyere blouse was a close second.)

McCall’s 7350

2018: another year of trying new things (swimsuits! Pull up jeans! Using a coverstitch machine!) And this was also the year that I remembered that I still like Big 4 patterns as well, though indies dominated my decade. I thought about choosing the swimsuit, but this McCall’s maxidress was honestly my favorite project of the year. I’ve realized that since the kids were born, I’ve been very focused on practical clothing needs and learning how to fit all of the newer curves through multiple major body shifts. This project was simply for fun and because I liked it. I think I needed that. Though, on a practical note, this dress did work well for a few maternity wearings and is very nursing friendly, so it’ll get even better use this summer!

Grainline Archer

Which brings me to this year, and another one dominated by adding a baby to our family. Though I recently stated that the Pony Tank was my best pattern this year, I think the Archer was the winner in terms of stretching my sewing, especially after being necessarily knits focused for awhile.

So there you have it! 10 years, 10 projects. What was your favorite project or projects of the decade?

Sewing top 5: The Best-Laid Plans

Once upon a time, I had sewing goals for 2019. (And a knitting goal.) But then I found out that I was pregnant last New Year’s Eve, and my goals didn’t happen. The end.

via GIPHY

Ok, not quite, but that certainly threw a wrench in my plans! Just to review, here’s what they were:

  1. Leave room for frosting. Yeah, this year has been all about necessities. Especially since I had virtually nothing to wear for my entire summer third trimester, until one of my cousins generously donated her unneeded maternity clothes.
  2. Work on the “Mom Wardrobe”. I guess this happened in some way, it just happened to be mostly maternity mom!
  3. Get creative with some #sewingleftovers. I guess I’m good on this one now, until my daughter has her own fashion opinions…
  4. Work on my styling. Totally didn’t happen, since the first 3/4 of the year was “anything that fits”, and right now it’s “anything warm with nursing access.”
  5. Finish up my Gnarled Oak cardigan for real this time. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… yeah. Haven’t touched that one in months.

So now that that’s out of the way, the upside to having all of my plans thrown out the proverbial window is that I’ve had plenty of time to consider what might be realistic goals for 2020. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Embrace the slow and steady. Besides living up to my blog’s music-inspired title, it just makes sense for now. Big chunks of sewing time don’t happen often for me in this life stage. Even the “Sew in 30” tag that I’ve seen about Instagram is often more than I can manage. So what I’ve been trying to do throughout the fall, and would like to carry into the new year, is aiming for a more consistent sewing practice. I know I can’t do daily, since I have some weekly evening rehearsals and sometimes the kids just don’t let it happen. But even only 10-15 minutes a few times a week add up.
  2. Attack the refashion/scrap bins. I’ve missed refashioning, and I have a few obvious candidates to tackle — the vest that died in the wash, de-maternifying the shorts I made last year since the alternate waistbands are already cut and waiting– but I also have a bin of clothes to recycle that’s been largely untouched for a few years. I also have some rather largeish scraps that have been lingering in two other bins. It’s time to start paring that down and either get these textiles into my wardrobe (or possibly baby girl’s), or get them out of my house to make room for new things.
  3. Bust some stash. As you may recall, I got a LOT of fabric for Christmas last year. Like 73 yards of it. And while several of the things I made were from that haul, since I thankfully had the foresight to look at some patterns that would work with the thought that I might end up pregnant, a lot more of it than I planned went untouched. I’m not going to say I won’t buy anything, since I’m sure I’ll need buttons and thread and such, but I do want to focus more on using up what I already have instead of buying more.
  4. Have a plan, but hold it loosely. The #makenine feels a little restrictive for me at this point, especially since I have certain limits in place already (hellooooo, nursing wardrobe!) I like the other idea I’ve seen of the Seasonal Sew 3, and I think I’m going to aim more for that. But at this point, I think I’m going to play it like choose 2 projects at the beginning of a season, possibly one simple and one more involved, and then add a third depending on how my sewing time runs. I do know I have two projects with a deadline (a nursing-friendly dress for a family wedding, and the hopefully wearable muslin blouse I need to make first), so I’ll have to factor that in for probably the late winter into the early spring to make sure that gets done on time.
  5. I’m carrying this one over from this past year: Work on my styling. Because I really didn’t have a chance to do that in 2019. I still feel like this is going to be a struggle for awhile, because I’m having a really hard time lately putting outfits together with the hodgepodge of nursing-friendly-enough/seasonally appropriate things in my closet. I’ve mostly been wearing jeans and the same 3 plaid shirts, and then wracking my brains every Sunday morning for something a little nicer that I can still nurse in, particularly on the Sundays that I’m up front with my flute. But since it’s easier to factor in nursing for clothes with wardrobe longevity than with maternity, I’m hoping that I can start making some intelligent choices to fill in the gaps, and finally get some of that wardrobe cohesion that I’ve been dreaming about for a long time. (You know, as long as I can still bust stash. And keep my prints.)

And maybe, just maaaaaaaaaaaaybe, I’ll finish that sweater sometime in the next decade.

via GIPHY

2019 top 5: Highlights

To continue this year’s top 5 series. I think that I’m going to skip reflections this time, since so much of my sewing was dictated by my pregnancy and I can’t really make any commentary about what it says about my style or anything. But I can talk about the non-sewing highlights. So here goes…

  1. 20191208_072253The baby, obviously. 2019 was all about the baby. This pregnancy was the most challenging of the 3 for me, since it combined the 9 months of near- constant nausea from my first with the breathing problems from my second (the problem was apparently all in my deep diaphragm-breathing flutist’s head, but that didn’t make me feel any less constantly out of breath), with the added challenge of 2 active little boys to care for. I spent most of the summer particularly feeling like a miserable lump, and had to go back to physical therapy for my previous pregnancy hip injury because it flared up again during my third trimester. But the actual labor felt rather empowering to me this time, since I was able to handle both calmly walking myself into the maternity ward while in full labor (9.5 cm dialated! Doug was parking the car, since things moved faster than anticipated again), and pushing her out without panicking about no time for the epidural. Our plan is for this to be the last baby, because I don’t think that I can physically or mentally handle another pregnancy. But this sweet little girl was worth every moment of it. (This is her modeling the Petal Dress that I made from all of the corduroy vest leftovers.)
  2. 20191205_090605School days. Can you believe that my oldest is preschool age? We decided to homeschool this year for many reasons, though a huge factor was the timing of little sister arriving right at the beginning of the school year. We didn’t think that our often sensitive boy would respond well to the combination of a new sibling plus suddenly being sent away from us for hours at a time. And the thought of dealing with an imposed outside schedule plus a newborn and toddler made me really stressed out! So far, it’s been working out well for us. We did sign him up for a once a week homeschool class to give him some social time, which he loves. And we’ve been working through the alphabet and some basic math, which we did already do once, but mostly just through reading books because that was all I could handle while sick. He had picked up on counting well before, and is starting to grasp the concepts of addition and subtraction now. And he’s recently expressed interest in learning to read, since he’s picked up a few words. (Mostly his name, and “poop”, from one of his dinosaur books. Yes, he is definitely fitting the 4 year old boy stereotype here.) And I’ve been including his little brother wherever I can, which I think he’s enjoying. This picture is a recent one from learning what 100 looks like.
  3. The 100 Days Project. Speaking of 100… Even when I was feeling too sick to sew, I still needed a creative outlet! If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I’ve done scrapbooking steadily since I was a teenager, and last year, I started dabbling with doing it digitally. It’s been working out great for me, especially as something where all I needed to physically do was sit upright. So this year, I upgraded to a version of Photoshop that was actually made this decade, and dove in. I couldn’t quite manage doing it on consecutive days, largely due to an illness with a headache that forced me off screens for several days, but I signed up for the 100 Days Project to get some momentum going. And largely thanks to that, I busted through nearly the entire backlog of family photos that needed to be dealt with since getting pregnant with the younger boy, and have managed to stay almost entirely caught up on this year in the meantime! I’m not sure if the link will work unless you have an account with the site, but just in case, all of the 100 Days Project layouts are in an online gallery here, along with all of the other digital layouts I’ve made over the last year or so.
  4. All the books. This was actually a pretty good reading year for me, and I beat my Goodreads goal of 60 books. (Granted, some of this was short easy reader chapter books that I read aloud, like the first few Magic Treehouse books, but I’ll happily count everything that’s longer than a picture book.) A few favorite reads this year: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (one of my favorite authors), The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley, Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, and the first 3 books of The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. (The 4th wasn’t available at my library and is currently out of print while they are reprinting with new cover art, the book I’m linking is currently on preorder for that set, so I’ll have to wait to finish the series.) Can you tell I’m a fiction girl? I’m currently working through a long historic fiction set in Renaissance Italy (Voice of the Falconer, by David Blixt, mostly during overnight feedings), and the next pick for the book club that I’m in (The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates).
  5. Hmmm. I guess for this one, I’ll say family life in general. Doug is being very supportive of my need to get out for breaks, usually of the music rehearsal variety, and is great about getting things done around the house so it’s not all on me. And aside from daily struggles around dinnertime (extremely stubborn picky eaters), and some more recent very physical fighting, the boys are both at a fun age where they can usually play well together and communicate well with me.

So that pretty much sums it up! How was your year?

 

Sewing Top 5(ish): Hits and Misses edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the sewing blogger year! I always enjoy reading through people’s reviews of their year, and having a summary of my own to look back on. Though I may not be able to be quite so literal about the top 5 thing this time. I looked back quickly over my 2019 posts, and I only have 5 for the entire year! Granted, I often shared multiple projects in each post. Still, clearly, this was not my year for either sewing or writing about it. So, since I don’t feel like every project translated clearly into either hits or misses, let’s see how this plays out.

The definite hits:

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1. My MVP (Most Valuable Pattern) of the year award goes to the Chalk & Notch Pony tank. I basically lived in these all summer long, between two that I made for myself and two that my mom made for me out of some of her leftover fabric. The one I’m picturing here, from this fun print featuring many of the British things that I love (tea! Beatles lyrics!) never made it to the blog, though I did share it on my instagram account. I finished it back around the beginning of July, and this picture was from when I was around 7 months pregnant. It’s too cold to take a new one now! I suspect this pattern will have some staying power in my life, since it’s a great breezy tank for our notorious summer humidity. Even when I’m not suffering through it in third trimester misery.

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2. The other project that didn’t make it onto the blog: I finally made a wearable muslin of the Hudson pants, years after that bandwagon left the station. To give them a mini writeup: They’re from stashed ponte, originally tagged for a sewing dare that I never had a chance to complete. (Sorry, Gillian!) I added a wedge to the back rise, lengthened the legs instead of adding the bands to the bottom (I figured that would look better with the clunky, made for men sneakers that my extra wide feet often force me to buy), and I skipped the waistband stitching to make the drawstring channel. My reasoning for the latter is that I’m most likely going to be dropping some weight over the next several months, now that my “fourth trimester” is over, and I wanted less to unpick if I need to adjust the elastic. I need to figure out an easy solution to keep the elastic from rolling in the wash, because basting in some side seams didn’t work, that fell out in the wash. But for comfy mom pants that I don’t have to be embarrassed to run errands in, they’re definitely a win.

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3. The overdue Archer shirt. It was on my to-make list for about 2 years in a row, and then by the time I finished it, I only got to wear it once before I outgrew it! But I’m making up for it now that I’m out of maternity clothes, since it’s one of the only warm nursing-friendly shirts I currently own. Also, it looks great with my RTW gold jeans, which are one of the only 5 pairs of non-Hudson pants that (mostly) fit me right now. (Of course, this is also the picture from when I was pregnant.) Now that I’ve been able to really test the fit, I’m much happier with the tweaks I made to the sleeves and the hips. I do wish it was a couple of inches longer, because I do feel like the proportions are a bit off on me lengthwise, but otherwise, I feel confident in saying this can now be a go-to buttoned shirt pattern for me.

A hit and a miss:

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This picture pretty much sums it up perfectly! The wolf shirt that I recently made was a definite win for my younger boy. He’s worn it regularly since, and was very happy the other day when I hand-stitched the ears so they’d stay up. My older boy, on the other hand, has worn the shirt about twice, and never voluntarily. I finally ended up taking it out of his closet this week, telling him that if he asks me for it on his own, I’ll give it back, but otherwise, I’m setting it aside for when his little brother outgrows his. Sadly, he didn’t put up much of a fight about it.

The misses:

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Aside from the wolf shirts, the vests that I recently made for the boys to go along with their daddy’s were a definite miss. They still haven’t worn them past the approximate 30 seconds during our hiking day. The younger boy may still get a few sewn things from me, but I’m thinking that unless he specifically asks me to make something for him, with the possible exception of a Halloween costume, I’m done sewing for the older boy until further notice. (I really wish I’d figured this out before I’d ordered a themed fabric panel for each of the kids, but at least I’ll have fun sewing up the baby’s. She can’t argue with me about it yet!)

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2. On a similar note, my vest. Between the sizing issues that came from guessing at my size during the third trimester, and the shredded fabric problem, it’s just unwearable. I’ve currently got this hanging in the sewing portion of my closet, partially deconstructed and in need of picking a new lining fabric. I think that next time, I’m going to go for one of the cottons in my stash, because obviously the brocade was a bad choice. But since I have to take it apart anyway, at least I’ll be able to fix the sizing while I’m at it. It’s just a question of how long it’ll take, because I’ve got multiple projects in various stages of work that are currently higher priority to me.

Tied for third: these two refashions that I threw together back in the winter. The thing is, I just haven’t worn them since these pictures. I don’t think it’s a complete lost cause, it’s just that they’re both kind of in the “closet orphan” category right now, due to having surprisingly limited options of what to wear while I’m in the nursing stage. Also, I still want to dye the knitted shrug to better fit in with my wardrobe colors, and need to figure out what color. Maybe teal?

So, maybe it’s all of the hormonal craziness that’s been messing with my head all year long, but I’m kind of struggling with feeling positive about my sewing output this time. I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do for myself during the maternity/immediate postpartum stage, which was a full 3/4 of my year. And it seems like it’s easier to see what didn’t turn out as hoped this time, but it was also a lot more dependent on, say, the whims of children under 5, since I did a lot more sewing for others than usual. So I think this is going to be a good month to regroup, finish up the couple of projects that I currently have going, and start with a fresh slate in the new year.

An Ottobre trio

I’ve had to be very intentional about it, but I’m still managing to find some time to sew! I spent the first month or so after my daughter was born making something for each of the kids, to give my body some time to recover and find a new normal before trying to fit something on it again. Both patterns used were from my tiny stash of Ottobre kids’ magazines.

IMG_7930.JPGFirst up, my daughter got the Wild Cat hooded tunic from the Spring 2015 issue. I made it from some scraps of a hatchi sweater knit that my mom recently used for one of her projects, since I cut this out while still pregnant and it was more readily available than digging through my own scraps! Construction was easy, with the main challenge being the invisible zipper on a bound edge. It was a good opportunity to practice finishing edges with fold over elastic, since I haven’t worked with that often. I made the smallest size for this (92 cm), and this is her wearing it at around 3 weeks old. She’s about 2.5 months old now, and while it fits her much better, I think there’s at least a month left in it now. EDIT TO ADD: I just noticed that I forgot to add the photo! (Thanks, sleep deprivation.) So this is actually her wearing it for her 3 month old photos. I have plans to make this again soon, as my older son declared that she needs a Little Red Riding Hood outfit to go with what I made for them. So I got some crushed red velvet and will probably make the next size up to be her first Christmas outfit. My family is aaaaall casual when it comes to Christmas gatherings. So this over a onesie and leggings will be perfect. I’m thinking I may tweak the front to avoid the zipper, though, since I’ve been struggling with how to finish those edges without making it look cheap.

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I made the boys’ shirts primarily with the younger one in mind. He has had a months-long obsession with stories involving the Big Bad Wolf, and it’s not uncommon to overhear him standing at the bathroom door while his brother is in there, yelling “little pig, little pig, let me in!” So when I saw this “Small Nice Wolf” shirt in the Autumn 2015 issue, I knew it had to happen. I had to purchase new for these, as I don’t have much gray in my stash, and knew the only shot at my oldest wearing it was to make it as soft of a fabric as possible. But I was able to use scraps for the face.

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Construction wasn’t bad, particularly since I took the time to baste the curvier seams before sewing. Good thing, too, since a few pieces got mixed up between the two sizes while they were sitting on my machine, and I initially sewed the smaller side front to the larger wolf face! The one thing I’d change is to secure the 3D ears better, because they tend to flop down during wear.

I think the end result is simply adorable, and Padawan was quite excited about the results! He has worn it several times since. I’ve had a little more trouble getting Hobbit to wear it, despite him asking me several times while I was recovering from having his sister if I’d started making his shirt yet. He has worn it a few times, and gets excited when he gets compliments on it, but getting him to put it on initially can be a struggle. He does like to have things a certain way, and he did admit to me today that it bothers him that the ears flop down when it’s being worn. So I think I’m going to have to go back and hand-tack the ears to the shoulders on both shirts.

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The best shot I was able to get of both of them wearing it. (I asked them to howl, and they enjoyed that part.) I have enough left that I can make them each a pair of pants, but I think I’m going to hold off on that. I’m feeling a little wary of sewing for Hobbit in particular right now, after the limited success of this shirt and what was basically a failure on the matching vests I made for them and their daddy. But I think maybe they’re warming up to my sewing for them again, as they’ve also renewed interest in the animal coats that I made for them last fall. (They still fit, since they were designed to be worn for 2 years, but it’s pretty obvious that neither of them will be able to wear them again next fall.) So we’ll see. I do have some knit panels on order for each of the kids, so I’ll need to decide whether to risk sewing for the boys again, or just make them into pillows or something.