Better than nothing

It’s hardly worth it to do a September roundup, as this is pretty much all I have to show for the last 3 weeks. It’s a simple sewing job, and I feel like I should be closer to finished. But nap time has been a struggle lately, I’m back to almost my full teaching schedule and that means most afternoons are a no-go, and I’m fighting a cold. All I managed to sew yesterday was serging and pressing the armhole seams. But it’s one step closer than I was.

So at least it’s something.

And all things considered, that’s really good.

it’s that time of year again!

Woohoo! I just wanted to take a few minutes and talk about my FESA plans for this year. Due to my current time constraints, I’m keeping it simple this year, and only committing to a handful of projects– after all, I also have a little Halloween costume that I’ve been mentally planning since, oh, last Christmas. So here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish…

Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather 
IMG_2813//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI have fabric that I think will work to finally try out the Cake Espresso leggings in two different colors, though after the disaster that was my last attempt at sewing leggings, I’m definitely double checking the stretch first this time! Assuming all is well, I plan to sew the black pair, because that will go with nearly all of the skirts I own that currently fit.  I’m most likely to wear them as tights with boots. (Honestly, based on my initial fiddling to check the stretch, I think this fabric will be too see-through to use them as anything else!)

Fabulous Frocks
IMG_2811//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsFor the third year in a row, I am putting the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress, in this very fall-appropriate rayon challis print, on my list. And I am determined that this is the year I’ll actually make it, dangit!!! After all, it looks like the perfect style for postpartum and nursing. I have managed to get the pattern traced, the fabric cut out, and the darts sewn so far. So third time is the charm, right?


Baby It’s Cold Outside
IMG_2812//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThis may be cheating, since I’ve been working on this particular project for over a month already. But I’ve been knitting a cowl (the Wine Country Cowl) out of some bulky yarn that I originally bought as the top part of a sweater that I’ve since abandoned the plan to knit. I could not figure out the very first steps of the pattern at all, and decided I didn’t like how the two yarns coordinated after all. “I can’t wear wool” substitution problems strike again. Anyway, I’m over halfway done this cowl, I think–it’s been one of my methods for coping with Hobbit’s penchant for napping best when on my lap and leaving me chair-bound for long stretches of time. Sadly, I think that my plan to use up the entire stash of this yarn isn’t going to work out, given its current length. Any suggestions for what else I can do with one or two balls of this stuff?

The nice thing is that if I finish all three of these projects, I’ll have one complete outfit! If I can get those and the costume done and still have time left, I have a fairly substantial mental list of additional projects that I could add in. But since I am unsure at this point what the greatest needs in my wardrobe will be, or what I’ll be most motivated to work on (SO important right now), I’ll just see how this goes first.

Rae, a drop of golden sun…

Yeah, I made two more of the Sewaholic Rae skirts, in two very different fabrics. Since I already briefly talked about the construction before, this is more to show how they ended up– and also my monthly post for Gillian’s #betterpicturesproject!

IMG_2736This month’s assignment was to find a new spot to take photos, ideally 5 minutes or less from your house. Admittedly, the thought of setting up a tripod somewhere while lugging around Hobbit’s car seat (and quite probably listening to him scream the whole time, since the car seat is one of his least favorite things EVER so far) was not very appealing to me. So my big brave move was out to the back yard! I’ve avoided it so far, because we’re in a central townhouse, and pretty much all we ever do with the yard is mow it and let the dogs out to do their business. That, and that tan strip behind the trees just happens to be one of the busiest highways in the state. But the lighting really is better out here than in my sewing room, and Doug was kind enough to take some pictures for me. Which is much easier than running back and forth between me and the tripod. I just may have to reserve my outfit photos for weekends for awhile, that’s all.
Recycled Rae 2I also experimented with setting the camera to portrait mode. I think it turned out well, and the bonus was that keeping it on a more automatic setting made it really simple for Doug! So I’ll save the more manual settings for when I’m the one behind the lens, I think. (Mastering that really is something I’d like to do sometime, but I think that will be better for trying to get artsy with the kid photos and landscapes while traveling.)

I guess I should say something about the actual sewing, right? This particular skirt is half a refashion. Several years ago, I made a dress for my brother’s wedding that was a complete and utter disaster from start to finish. Once the wedding was over, I promptly threw the dress into my refashion bin, along with an extra yard and a half or so of the same fabric that I purchased later, with the intention of turning it into something else. I was originally thinking maybe some kind of longer, fitted, belted vest. But that never came to fruition. I’ve finally redeemed it with this skirt, though. The fabric itself is a polyester shantung, and I was able to cut half of the skirt out of the original dress. I didn’t have the extra piece on my original stash list, since it was out of sight in the bin and I’d honestly forgotten it was there. But I have about 2/3 yard left, so I’m estimating I used half a yard for the other half of the skirt.

recycled RaePardon the slightly derpy face here– I’m including this one because it’s one of the best for showing the skirt detail. I had forgotten how absolutely awful this fabric frays, so I French seamed the whole thing. And since it’s polyester, of course it didn’t really press all that great, so I also ended up topstitching over all of the seams to give it more of a flat-fell look. Honestly, the effect makes me think of nylon parachutes. But since I’m coming to terms with the fact that my generally casual lifestyle doesn’t necessarily fit the shiny fabrics that I often adore, I think it’s for the best here, because it definitely helps the skirt look a lot less formal than I originally intended the dress to be.

I can also say that this skirt was for the Monthly Stitch’s August theme of twos, since this was my second Rae skirt that month. (I finished it on August 31!)

exploding TARDIS RaeThe third skirt sewed up a lot faster, since I made it out of quilt cotton and could just serge all the seam edges to finish it off! I kind of like this artsy black top that I bought for our Paris trip last fall with this particular print, and will definitely use this combo again when it gets its out-of-house debut. (I was waiting until I got pictures, mostly because I didn’t want to have to iron it again first.)

exploding TARDIS!A closer-up view of the print. Why, yes, that is a print designed around Van Gogh’s lesser-known “Exploding TARDIS”. And this little Whovian is rather psyched that the colors just happen to fall into the realm of the palette that I’m overall attempting to work with for my future wardrobe cultivation. (Especially because yellow/gold is one of the ones I’ve been meaning to add more of.)

dog photobombFinally, even though this is an attempt at better pictures, and I’m fully aware that the flash went off and left a weird shadow behind me, it seemed fitting to continue the tradition of golden retriever photobombing!

cuteness overload

I have a tolerance-hate relationship with shoes. I tolerate them, because my feet would be cold without them, and I’d step on a lot more sharp, pointy things. (Especially with this hobby.) But I really hate shopping for them, because it’s so hard to find shoes that fit and are still cute. I’ve wished SO many times that I could just make my own. And one of the things parents typically do with their kids is vicariously enjoy the things they could never do themselves, right? So all that to say, I made my kid shoes. And they’re adorable!

I had a cooperative model today. So prepare for a barrage of cuteness!
IMG_2729First of all, the shoes themselves. Both are from Simplicity 2491, with a few modifications. Everything is scraps–linen, heavyweight muslin, a thin faux suede, and microfleece for the insides. The pattern called for wool felt inside, but I didn’t want to risk finding out the hard way that his skin reacts to wool as badly as mine.

IMG_2727The pattern for this one looked kind of like a bear,  so I altered the shape of the ears so it would resemble our golden retrievers. I also machine stitched the mouth, since I already had black thread in the machine from my previous project, which still needs to be photographed and blogged.

IMG_2720I also changed the closure. This one was originally two ribbons to tie into a bow. Hobbit is a very active baby, though. And kicking is his main thing right now. So a one-ribbon strap with Velcro like some of the other views has was a much more practical option.

The monkey shoes originally had that velcro ribbon closure, but I got even lazier and used black elastic to make them fully slip-on. If I make another pair of these in a larger size sometime, I’m thinking I might go with a frog, because that monkey face shape is perfect for that, too!

I’m really glad I made these bigger than I thought I needed to. According to the measurements, he should have had room in an extra-small. I made the small, and while there’s room in the toes, it’s still a bit of a struggle to pull them on his feet. They were very quick to sew together, though. I got these done from start to finish in three naps. And if the weather ever gets cooler before he has a growth spurt, they’ll be good lightweight shoes for the fall.
IMG_2721I’ll end this with a gratuitous outtake, because THAT FACE.

August round-up, and a stashbusting update

How is it September already? This summer’s been kind of a sleep-deprived blur for me, I guess for obvious reasons. But it’s still weird to think that soon I’m going to be having to start layering up for colder weather.

Before I get into this post, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented on my last post! It was really interesting and encouraging to hear your thoughts on creativity when interpreting vs. designing/composing.

So, all factors considered, this was actually a pretty productive month for me as far as sewing goes! And I do have a couple of projects that I haven’t shown on here yet. I did finish up a second Rae skirt yesterday, but I haven’t had a chance to photograph it yet, so I’ll save that for a later post. But aside from that, and the first Rae skirt and the flamingo skirt, here’s what I’ve been up to:

puzzle bagMy in-laws have been bringing a lot of stuff over lately. They recently came for lunch with three boxes of kids’ books and a few toys that they picked up at a yard sale for $1/box. I didn’t keep everything–there were a lot of things like coloring books that were already colored, and they ended up taking the girlier stuff for when our niece is over there. But there were some excellent book finds, too. Somehow, several puzzles ended up in the bottom of the basket of things I kept. Since Hobbit is still a few years too young for even these simple ones, I made a bag to keep everything together until he’s old enough. It only took one naptime, I recycled a zipper and effectively used up the largest piece left over from the diaper bag, and my label worked. So I’m happy with this spontaneous project.

Merida costumeThe other thing I spent a good chunk of the month on was a costume for my best friend, who is going to DragonCon again this year. She gave me permission to post this photo. She wanted to do a Disney princess this year, and chose Merida. We actually started this back in the winter, with a plan that I’d work through it with her so she could learn a little sewing along the way. But life and mostly my pregnancy meant that there was still a good chunk to do with the deadline approaching, so I finished it. The pattern is McCall  , and while she bought the main green fabric and trims, I happily donated part of my stash to the cause–the sleeve lining bits and the white brocade was my contribution. (Now if I could just figure out what to do with the other polyester brocades that have been hanging around!) I’m happy that, although I can’t go with her this time, and I’m ok with that because the baby needs me here, some of my sewing will still be there.

Stash used: Not counting the skirt I finished yesterday, mostly because it was half a refashion and I have no idea how much I used on top of that, this leaves me with a total of 8 yards used up, and 6 that were straight out of the stash. I counted the flamingos, even though I broke habit and used it almost immediately.

Stash added: I bought 2 1/2 yards of chambray with a gift card that had been sitting around, because I felt that I needed a denim skirt for the fall. Then I made the happy discovery that my TARDIS skirt really is bigger on the inside, and I can squeeze myself into it again! So now I need to figure out what to use it for, since there’s a LOT of options. A shirt? A dress? A shirtdress? Augh! And then remember what I said about my in-laws? Someone they knew, I think one of Doug’s aunts, was getting rid of fabric, so they brought it here. Again, I didn’t keep everything, because I don’t have much use for upholstery fabric. But the potentially useable stuff still totaled 18 1/2 yards! Yikes!

Toucans

The best find in there, hands-down, was this. It’s large scale and crazy bright and I must use it. But not until I start next summer’s clothes, I’m sure. I have more pressing wardrobe needs. And Sarah is hosting my favorite annual sewalong again, so of course I want in!

Since we’re starting the last third of the year, I thought this would be a good time to give an overall stashbusting update. I started off the year with about 375 yards of fabric, and according to my records, I’ve used close to 79! (Thank you, diapers.) The best news to me, though, is that even with the additions, my current tally runs around 351 yards.  So as of now, I have about 24 yards less than I started with. I still feel like I have a ridiculous amount of fabric, especially now that I just ended up with over 20 extra yards in a month. But every project gets me one piece closer to my goal of a manageable-to-store, better-curated stash.