a very scrappy sea mammal

Once upon a time, I made a pair of jeans for a Craftsy class. They weren’t perfect, and I stupidly made them from non stretch denim, because the jeans I based the pattern on weren’t stretch either, and my weight didn’t really fluctuate all that often. They were the best-fitting pair of jeans I’d made so far, and I wore them proudly. But after several years, during which I got married, gained a couple of pounds, got pregnant, gained a lot more pounds, and the belt loop in the back irreparably tore off from wear, I had to retire them.

IMG_3496While I was still pregnant with Hobbit, I went to Kohl’s with my mom one day. They occasionally do this thing where they’ll sell picture books and accompanying stuffed animals, and donate the proceeds to charity. Reading was my very first hobby love– I honestly can’t even remember learning to do it, because my parents taught me really young. And children’s literature is something I’ve continued to love. So of course I couldn’t resist buying one of the books. The one that I picked out of the four options available was called If You Want To See A Whale, and it’s a cute little story about how patient and observant you need to be if you want to see a whale. But I couldn’t really justify buying the stuffed whale to go with it, especially since I’d already saved a denim whale tutorial on Pinterest.

IMG_3500I cut this out and embroidered the eyes back in December, but then set it aside in favor of organizing the room, so I’m counting this as a UFO project. That’s not something I usually have lying around, but finishing those is the theme over at The Monthly Stitch this time, so let’s just roll with it, shall we? It was a fairly quick and easy sew, other than getting the front fins turned. There’s still a bit more lumpiness at the tips of those and the tail than I’d prefer, but I clipped and graded the seams as much as I felt I safely could. It’ll just have to do. IMG_3514Since the theme at the Stashbusting Sewalong this month is using up scraps– and because stuffing is expensive– the whale is mostly stuffed with the leftover blue lace from the shirt I made in December, and the yarn left over from my Roheline cardigan. Since that was an unraveled thrift store sweater to begin with, and the yarn is kind of kinky and splitty as a result, I didn’t mind using it up in this way. I did still have to use some stuffing to finish it out, but since I was was able to minimize it, I have enough left to at least start the next toy project, whenever I get to that. I have to admit that even if it’s not necessarily stuff he needs, I’m really enjoying the chance to make stuffed animals and toys! Especially since he’s still at the age where all handmade clothes get outgrown in 3 months. This is (maybe) a better use of my time where I can still make stuff for him, and it did keep some perfectly broken-in denim out of the landfill!

IMG_3517Hobbit’s opinion, so far: it’s interesting, and he seems to like the floppy tail. He loses interest in it pretty quickly, especially if there’s blocks to knock over or a doorway he can try to escape from, but maybe he’ll like it better when he’s older, and the ability to crawl isn’t such a novelty. Especially, I hope, for cuddling up with for a story.

la vie en rose

Appleton DressSo, finishing a red dress around the middle of February– how cliche is that? I don’t even like Valentine’s Day! But I wanted to try this pattern out as a winter dress, and the stashed fabric that was the best fit just happened to fall into this color scheme. So walking stereotype it is.

The pattern is the Appleton dress, from Cashmerette Patterns. Look at me, jumping on a bandwagon before it’s been long gone for once! I’ll admit that super easy nursing access was my main motivation. I’m assuming it will be ok, but I haven’t field-tested that yet. I made the smallest size that the pattern offered, so I’m not sure how well it will work if/when I lose those last 5 or so pounds, but I guess the beauty of a wrap dress is that it’s adjustable, right?

It’s a fairly simple pattern, though making it wasn’t entirely without issues. For one thing, I somehow managed to reverse the direction it was supposed to wrap in. Let’s blame sleep deprivation for that one. But I just reversed everything else and it worked out fine. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that my sewing machine just absolutely hates ITY knits. You probably shouldn’t look too closely at the stitching around the neckline. And I had to do a lot of experimenting to come up with a stitch combo that had a minimum of skipping and still gave me the needed stretch for the hems. Scraps of pattern tracing paper ended up being the key to success. Saving up for a coverstitch machine is sounding better and better!

IMG_3491The one adjustment I made to this pattern was lengthening the sleeve to match up with the largest size. The resulting length is still a bit shorter than I’d prefer, even with the narrow hem, so I’ll need to add more if I make a long-sleeved version again. I was also a little disappointed with the width of the under wrap. The bodice is fine, but visions of skirt-related wardrobe malfunctions have been dancing in my head since I first tried it on! So, for my own peace of mind, I’m securing it on the inside with a piece of elastic sewn to the inside seam, with a snap on the other end to attach it to the inner skirt piece. Hopefully that will be enough to keep me from flashing anyone when the wind kicks up. (I did take some pictures, but every single one of them turned out blurry. Ugh.)

IMG_3469(Baby boy was getting fussy, so this was the point in the photoshoot where I had to pick him up to calm him down.) I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this fabric pairing with it. The ITY works great, stitching issues aside. It’s really more the print, and specifically how it looks on me. I can’t quite shake the fear that it looks a little matronly, which is certainly not how I want to feel when my birthday is a couple of weeks away! Admittedly, this brick/peachy-coral/grey color scheme is almost the opposite of the blue-green everything that usually catches my eye. And the print is essentially giant roses, which are also not the sort of floral that I usually go for. This was one of the four “coupons” pieces I brought back from Paris about a year and a half ago, and even then, I was questioning what was attracting me to it so strongly. I’d just gone through the whole Wardrobe Architect challenge, and made my color palettes, and this just mostly doesn’t fit with that. Maybe Paris was messing with my head? But it came home with me nonetheless. And at least it didn’t linger too long in my stash, at least by my standards.

I really hope I have a finished project that I feel better about before too long. It really feels like I’ve had more ambivalence than hits lately. It’s a little frustrating.

January in review

I thought that since I don’t necessarily have a lot to show for this month, it would be good to do a more behind the scenes look! So here’s what’s been going on in my little corner of the world…

1. I reorganized my stuff.

Though I technically started it in December, it was at least a week into January before I felt like things were put back together enough to actually start sewing again. But I’m glad I took the time to do this. My spreadsheet that I track my stash on is all updated now, I know where everything is now, and I actually did get rid of quite a lot of the scrap bin’s contents. I also came up with enough fabric/pattern pairings to keep me busy for quite awhile! Taking it all out and sorting it was a bit of a pain, but it really got the creative juices flowing. Now I just need to find a way to cope with my time constraints and the frustration that it’s been causing.

2. I finished a knitting project. And started some more.

Back when we were dating, I knitted a hat for Doug. It’s getting pretty beat up, since he’s been wearing it every time he leaves the house during the colder days for four or so years now. So I made him a new one. The pattern is called Le Dane, it was free on Ravelry, and I honestly picked it because it has a matching baby hat and I thought that would be adorable! Doug picked the colors, and also requested that I make the ribbing longer on his so he can fold it up around his ears for extra warmth. I’ve started Hobbit’s hat, but the smallest size is 9-24 months, and he has a couple of hand-knitted hats in his current size. Which, of course, he refuses to keep on his head. So I’m planning to just put it and Doug’s hat away to be ready to go for next winter. Look at me, planning ahead! Maybe by then, Hobbit will stop immediately pulling the hats off?

I also started my first ever pair of socks, since Craftsy is hosting a free class for it. It’s something I’ve been wanting to try, but putting off due to fear of tiny, fiddly needles, and how hard it is to find wool-free sock yarn. But I had this bamboo/nylon blend in the stash, so I figured I’ll try it out while I can watch free videos, and if hand-knit socks end up being really irritating to wear, I’m not going to feel obligated to continue like I would be for a paid class. We’ll see how this goes.

3. I’m sewing diapers. Again.

What can I say, Hobbit is a big, growing boy! Same pattern, same process, this time in the large size. My mom is helping again, both with cutting and with giving me hands-free time to work on them at her place. So we’ve gotten as far as cutting out all of the waterproof layer and linings, and putting snaps in the front of all but about 4 or 5. I ran out of snaps at that point, so I’m waiting on an order. In the meantime, I’ve been spending some time this weekend busting through random flannel pieces to make emergency extra diaper inserts. We recently moved him up to the last size of diapers I’d had made up, and for some reason, the soakers aren’t filling them out as well. So this is my desperate attempt to stop him from leaking through every single article of clothing I put on him. Sorry if that’s TMI.

4. State of the stash

I didn’t buy any fabric, patterns or yarn this month! Just thread and zippers and buttons for planned projects. Since I only count fabric as busted when the project is finished, here’s where I ended up:

Fabric out due to my miscalculations– this is due to duplicate or never-updated items in my spreadsheet that I caught after my initial post this year: 4 yards
Fabric tossed: 1 yard. It was an ugly quilt cotton, and a small piece of yardage from my first attempt at the vest I made for Hobbit’s Halloween costume, which was too small to really do anything with.
Fabric sewn: 3.8 yards (2.8 for the pajama pants, 1 yard of flannel)

Total in: 0 yards
Total out: about 12 yards
Total in stash: about 411 yards

I’m very close to finishing another project, because all I have to do is hem it. I just got sidetracked by those diapers.