Sweater Dress Season

Winter is a fashion struggle for me. It seems like every year, I think that I should make some warm things. And then every year, I get sidetracked by something, and I finish maybe one or two things. And then I’m still cold and bored of the dark clothes that I seem to end up with. As the weather has been cooling down this fall, I’ve realized that I’m even more lacking than usual in warm things to wear both around my house, and specifically to church. So I’m attempting to do something about that to wrap up 2021.

This sweater dress is made from New Look 6298, and a teal hatchi knit that I was gifted a couple of years ago at Christmas. So it’s a pretty lightweight knit, but I figure I’ll be wearing it over leggings anyway. I started off with a size 18 on top and graded it to a 20 for my hips, since I didn’t want it to be tight around my midsection or hips. But I guess I forgot about Big 4 sizing, because it was essentially a sack!

After some consulting with my Sewing Sphere friends, I ended up taking it in about 1.5” at the underarms and the bust, grading that down to around 6” from the raw edge of the sleeves and to the hip pockets. And that ended up working out much better. The other change that I made was adding my usual inch of sleeve length, but that wasn’t necessary this time because the sleeves ended up being on the long side. But my wrists won’t be cold, so I’ll take it!

I’m still a bit on the fence with this one, and am feeling like I’m really struggling to make dresses that aren’t frumpy anymore, since my last attempt was a complete flop. I hope this isn’t going to be a long trend, since I’m officially a middle aged mom now and was hoping to avoid looking like one for a bit longer. But I think adding the scarf helps, and it’s nice to have something to wear this one with! My mom made it for me a year or so back, and it’s this cozy flannel with a zipper pocket so I can keep my phone in it. I just honestly haven’t had the basic color tops to pair with it. So while I’m taking a break from the official wardrobe chains for a bit while I knock out a few things, this dress does work nicely to link that and my old Espresso leggings that match the brown in the plaid. I have a couple of other scarves that I think will also pair well with this — teal is my jam, after all, so it shows up a lot!

Halloween sewing!

So here’s what I’ve been working on for the past 2+ months!

I was excited that my sons picked Lord of the Rings themed costumes this year. I read The Hobbit to them back in the late winter, though the spring. Which then turned into watching the Peter Jackson movies, followed by The Lord of the Rings. Being the Tolkien book geek that I am, I’d originally planned to read the books to them first at an older age, but as it turns out, most of their friends from our homeschooling activities have older brothers, and therefore have already seen the movies. So we went with it, and they loved it!

My oldest decided he wanted to be Legolas this year — he seems to be developing some level of interest in archery. My general goal with kid costumes is maximum rewearability, which is admittedly challenging with this theme. So I bought him a pair of olive joggers — he legitimately needed pants anyway — and pulled the one long sleeve tee that was a remotely ok color from his closet. For the tunic, I did a very hacked version of Simplicity 8483. I had to draw the yoke, and turn the sleeves into a long petal type two piece sleeve, and reshape the hem. The fabric is a mix of a curtain that I found at Goodwill, for the darker suede looking bits, and some olive twill that I’m pretty sure was left over from my pre-kid Thurlow pants binge. (Hoarding paid off!) it’s not quite screen accurate on the colors, as the darker should have been the yoke, but moms on a big time and budget crunch can’t be choosers. I drew the “embroidery” with a paint pen, and made the bracers more or less off of a simplified version of the pattern, with fabric left from my daughter’s costume. More on that in a bit.

He insisted that he wanted a quiver, so we spent an afternoon working on it together. I made the quiver itself from a corrugated cardboard box, a Pringles can, more leftover brown knit, and the straps were made from a pair of his brother’s outgrown pants that I found in my overdue-for-emptying sewing closet trash can. I couldn’t donate them because of holes, but they were just fine for cutting into strips! And though I worked the hot glue gun, my son did the bulk of the work on drawing and cutting out the arrowheads and fletchings on craft foam. He was so proud of his work, especially after they were attached to the dowels!

Thankfully, I did not have to make the bow, as we took the kids to the Renaissance Faire this year and they all wanted their souvenirs from a foam weapons shop.

My younger son loves Gandalf, so this was an easy choice for him. I used another modified take of the same Simplicity pattern, with a dash of Simplicity 9162 for the yoke. Originally, I had the robe drawn out really full with all of these pleats to try to replicate the movie. But my fabric for this was a set of four thrifted valances with the perfect rougher looking weave, and I just didn’t have the yardage. I suppose it’s just as well, he would have been swimming in it. I was able to reuse the original hems, which was nice! I had to do my first invisible zipper in about 7 years for the back, yay stretchy postpartum everything. And the front yoke is just stitched with yarn that I found in my neglected knitting stash.

I bought the hat, but could only find an adult size. I think it adds to the charm, though. The staff was a stick we found on a Memorial Day hike when this costume plan was formed. My husband whittled off the bark and sanded it down for all of his balrog fighting needs. We had a beard that my brother lent him, but he didn’t like the feel of it on his face, so we skipped it. And the belt is from my closet.

The pink is the pajama shirt that she refused to let me take off.

Finally, my daughter as Eowyn — highly appropriate, as that’s her middle name! I only made the vest for her, since she already had the perfect boots and we found a close enough dress while shopping Dharma Trading Company for a July 4th family tie dye binge. I used a modified Ottobre pattern for the vest, made from leftover interlock from my original Tiramisu dress. The hem and neckline were a good shape, I just needed to shorten the sleeves to a cap length, and I figured the tee would be a much more toddler friendly option than a corset! The gold bits were more paint pen embroidery. I’d originally planned to slice up the sleeves of the dress to better match the screen version, but since it was chilly that night/she likely would have just gotten them caught on things, I left them as is.

Flashback!

Fun fact: this was my second time making this costume! The first time was back around 2003, when the movies were still recent. It was seriously low budget since I was still in school, so it was just white muslin, polyester suedecloth, and a few spools of a loopy gold trim that I found with the budget ribbons at Joann’s. I wore it for multiple occasions, between a college costume party where no one recognized my character except the friend that I went with, some photoshoots for fun, and most recently at the DragonCon that I went to just before I got pregnant the first time. It doesn’t fit me anymore, with my wider post-baby hips especially, so I finally had to let it go. But it had a good run, and I got some geeky joy out of recreating it for my daughter during the films’ 20th anniversary years.

Gandalf is ready to go all Bridge of Khazad-Dum on me here.

Overall, though the little shieldmaiden kept her opinions to herself this time, the boys were pleased with their costumes. My older son was happy that the curtain fabric was so soft, and the younger one was asking to play with it even after Halloween was over. (Though, to be fair, he was also procrastinating on starting our homeschooling day.) I enjoyed getting to revisit crafting for my favorite fandom. But, to quote Bilbo, I’m quite ready for another adventure. Using all of the late summer/early fall sewing time that I had to do this means that I am seriously lacking in warm things!

Can I call it a chain…

…if there’s only 3 links?

I had grander plans for summer sewing and my Chain Reaction project. But in the end, I only finished three projects over the entire summer. The third, the Itch to Stitch Fortuna shorts, was mentioned in my last post. Today, to catch up, I’ll share the other two. (With some help from the toddler who refuses to let me get any project photos on my own.)

My first project, and the first one that I made for this intended chain, was the Shenanigans Skort from 5 Out of 4 Patterns. I ended up making this as part of her Facebook group’s sewalong. Since I already made this once before, last summer, it was a fairly quick project to knock out. The two changes that I made were adding some rise to the back, which worked well, and attempting to add in seam pockets. My thought was that it might give the overskirt more of a polished look than the patch pockets on last year’s black ponte version. That didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I ended up having to go back after about two washes and understitching them by hand, because they were bagging out so badly. Also, the stress points were already developing holes. So I won’t be doing that again, but I am happy with the changes to the fit.

The second project was another from the Itch To Stitch Sew Beautiful book, the Prague top. This is me being very late to the cold shoulder trend, and I’m still not entirely convinced about how I feel about the look on me. That being said, it was a pretty easy sew, and the shirt is comfortable to wear.

How fun is this print? I picked it up in the juvenile section at Joann’s, actually, because I really wanted a great novelty print and couldn’t find anything in the boring adult fabrics. (I guess this was my midlife crisis shopping trip?) Truth be told, a big part of what drew me to it was that I knew my sons would love it if Mommy has a dinosaur shirt. And they do.

I made a size 12, graded to 14 in the hips. I also shortened the sleeves just a bit. Will I make it again? I’m not sure. But it was worth trying.

I had other plans — a second Santa Fe top, and a seafoam colored skirt to pair with the Prague tee. I had hopes of sewing a dress and jacket combo that I’ve been plotting for several years, too, with a small chain built off of that. But we ended up having an extremely busy summer with plans nearly every weekend, and lots of late weekday bedtimes with my kids struggling to go to bed before the sun. I don’t regret losing the weekend time to making memories during our “Summer of Fun”, as my husband dubbed it, especially after last year. Lots of beach time, water park time, getting to see extended family and friends that I hadn’t gotten to see in over a year was worth it. I could have stood to have more of my weeknight time back, but it’s just a season of life. I can revisit those next year, right?

Now I’m trying to shift gears into Halloween costume mode. It’s been a slow start, since we’re also getting our homeschool year going, and trying to juggle two students plus a toddler there. But I did pick up a couple of patterns to use as starting points, and some curtains from the thrift shop to use for materials. So hopefully I’ll have that rolling soon.

Well, that got away from me.

Oh, hi, September. I didn’t mean to take so much time off of here. Honestly, I realized about 2/3 of the way through the summer that I never hit publish on this post, as I’d meant to go back and try to get better pictures. Obviously, my life is not conducive to better pictures, so here I am just playing catch up with what I have.

I had decided to take a break from the chain reaction sewing in order to fill a badly needed wardrobe gap. During the temperature ping-pong match that is Mid-Atlantic spring and fall, I can sometimes get away with my flannel pants and sometimes get away with my shorts. But more often than not, I really just need some lighter weight pants! And all I had left in this category, after three pregnancies’ worth of stretching killed my RTW set, was a pair of falling-apart Sewaholic Tofino pants that I made during my newlywed year.

I had been intrigued by the Fortuna Pants in the Itch to Stitch Sew Beautiful book since I first saw them, because—confession time— even though I wear them pretty regularly around the house, I’m not a huge fan of the jogger style pants. Especially the ones with the cuff on the bottom, because they remind me of 1980s sweatpants. These, however, have a wide leg option, and that is what I decided to try out.

My fabric was a soft, stretchy jersey that I hacked in half lengthwise and made a wrap baby carrier out of for my firstborn. It didn’t get used much, because it was very cumbersome to tie up out of the house (like dragging on the parking lot), and I got a Moby wrap at a swap before my middle child came along. So I’ve had it stashed for close to 5 years. I made the size 12, with a few modifications. First, I added about an inch to the back crotch curve. The finished pants ended up rather high rise, so this probably wasn’t necessary, but it’s an adjustment that I often need. I also graded it in to a size 10 at the waist, which worked great. Finally, I modified the front to have the angled pockets of the jogger version, because I got spoiled by having pockets in the multiple Carolyn pants and shorts that I’ve made, and can’t go back to pocketless pjs.

Let me just say, these pj pants are super comfortable. I’m sure a lot of that is due to the fabric, but I’m really loving the wide leg. When I wear them, I can’t help feeling like I’m wearing glamorous 1930s loungewear instead of pandemic world stretchy pants. I also feel like, with the right fabric, these could be easily dressed up or down. Maybe some future orchestra pants, if I can find the right black knit? The one thing that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with were the pockets, since they bag out very easily when I put my phone in my pocket. But more on that later.

I had some of the baby wrap left over, so the next pattern I tried was Hey June Handmade’s Santa Fe top. I didn’t realize when I printed it that I was essentially assembling 6 complete patterns, so the prep took the last several nights of my 100 Days Project. But it was a quick sew! I knew I wanted sleeves on my pj top, so I only had enough of the jersey left for the contrast and piecing together the neckband. I paired it with a lightweight black jersey that I’d ordered in hopes of making a good basic black tee, but it’s not great in the opacity and recovery departments. Good enough for sleepwear, though!

I made a straight size L for this one, and believe I’ll be sticking with it for now. I did find the neckband a little unwieldy, mostly due to needing a lot more practice to do a decently straight edge stitch on my coverstitch machine. I’m guessing the sleeve bands were supposed to have similar construction and be half the width , but oh well.

Overall, I think both patterns are keepers, and have definite TNT potential. In fact, I’ve already made the Fortuna again, but as the shorts!

I did make a few little tweaks the second time. I wanted to give my pockets a little more stability, so I drafted a self-facing, and used that as a sort of lining/interfacing when I sewed them on. It’s not a perfect fix, but my phone does pull the pocket far less out of shape than in my pj pants. The binding was a little different as well, but that was more me accidentally sewing it on the incorrect side and then just rolling with it.

Finally, I made a faux cuff by basically flipping the hem to the outside. The fabric, a very soft French terry, is excellent for comfort, but the color combined with the style was giving me serious gym shorts vibes. So this was me attempting to be marginally more stylish than I’ve become. That being said, I’ve been wearing these quite often since I finished them. So, since I don’t have many shorts anyway, I think more will be in order when I have time and comfy fabric in more interesting colors and prints.

Chain Reaction, The Second: Up to Shenanigans

It’s been a slow start since the 100 Day Project ended. Admittedly, I needed to ease off the pedal some, as we were wrapping up our first year of official homeschool. (Official in that I had a state sanctioned attendance requirement to meet, since we did preschool at home last year too.) I did have time to pull out stash and patterns for a tentative 6-piece summer chain, though, so here’s the first piece!

Wardrobe styling courtesy of my 4 year old, who insisted that I wear my “superhero shirt”. And I forgot to take off the house sandals, oops.

Last summer, I was hopeful that I can turn the 5 Out of 4 Patterns’ Shenanigans Skort into a TNT pattern, as knit skorts have proven to be extremely practical for summer wear with little kids. I made some tweaks from the last pair, adding a little length to the skirt and increasing the back crotch length. Though I think the back skirt could use just a smidgen more length, the shorts fit is perfect now.

A little lo-hi, but still wearable.

I wanted to fiddle with the pockets this time, since I don’t necessarily want to do patch pockets on everything. So I added in-seam pockets to the overskirt. And, well, this may not have been the fabric to try it with. It’s a thicker jersey type, as opposed to the ponte that I used in my original version, and the edges seriously like to roll toward the right side of the fabric. That made pressing the hems a challenge, and also made the pockets not lay very well.

I probably should have understitched the pockets when I initially made them, but I was doing it in a 4 day rush job to keep up with a sewalong that the pattern company was running. I did finish in time (though I didn’t win the drawing, oh well), but after about two wears, I could see that the pockets kept rolling toward the outside of the seam, and there was danger of a hole developing at the stress point already. So I had to go back and understitch by hand, and reinforce that lower corner. Proof that, to quote a chapter that I recently reread in Lord of the Rings, “short cuts make long delays”.

Keeping it real with my clingy toddler co-model

All that to say, I don’t quite have the pockets down for the skort TNT of my dreams. I don’t think I’ll do the inseam again. But otherwise, this was a promising step forward, and a solid foundation to build this next wardrobe chain on. Every other piece I picked is also a knit, so I’m hoping that I can knock the rest of this out a little more quickly. To be perfectly honest, I’m hoping to save some time to knock out some Halloween sewing before we start school again, just to save me the stress of deadline sewing in the fall!

Lessons from the 100 Day Project (and a project)

I finished! It really ended up being more of a 101 day project for me, as I missed one day due to getting home from a church music practice and finding the toddler still awake. My poor husband had been on bedtime duty for a couple of hours by that point, so I took over. Such is mom life. Since I didn’t end up posting about it during the process nearly as much as I initially planned, I’ll just look back now.

But first, a little project that didn’t make it on here yet!

I had a substantial amount of the coral knit left over from my recent Stasia tee, so I made a little something for my daughter. This pattern is the Chicka Chicka Bum Bum, by Peekaboo Pattern Shop. It’s a cute little pattern, with options for elastic and shorts that make it versatile. But I’ll admit that I’m partial to the little skort option, because it is so stinking cute. And quite practical, as my girl was happy to prove.

Because going down the slide a thousand times was way more important than what her skirt was doing.

It was a very quick make, too—I think something like 3 days from start to finish, which is amazingly fast in my world. In fact, it was so quick that I immediately made two more, this time a matching set in black for my daughter and my niece, who is six months younger. I probably still have enough of the coral left that I could have made that for my niece, too, but my brother likes to find black clothes for her whenever he can, so I know that one will get used.

Back to the Project. During this 100-ish day stretch, here’s everything that I did:

  • Finished the Mountain View jeans (already started)
  • Sewed the Atenas jacket, which was the most time consuming garment that I made in this timeframe
  • Sewed the Jade Skirt
  • Sewed the Stasia tee
  • Did a test run of a knit pants pattern and started one for a tee as a new pajama set (both to be blogged soon)
  • Mended pants for my husband and younger son, and my daughter’s fabric Easter basket that got attacked by a mouse before she even hit her first Easter last year
  • Made the three Chicka Chicka Bum Bums mentioned above

So, all together, I did nearly as much in this 100 days as I did in almost all of 2020. Crazy, right?

It was certainly helpful to me to think of this in terms of just needing 15 minutes a day, though there were many days that I went longer. In particular, I spent hours of my evenings trying to finish up my jeans jacket by my self imposed deadline of my birthday. Overall, though, I found it very sustainable to think of just doing a couple of seams and then moving on. This is something I’m hoping to continue.

Because I was focused on this as my “project”, though, I did notice that I wasn’t reading or scrapbooking as much. The latter in particular is something that I prefer to not get too far behind on, so I don’t forget what details I want to write on the pages. There were definitely days, once I hit the 80 day mark or so, that I felt that I’d be ok with taking a break and doing the other creative outlets that are important to me. And I think that was a valuable takeaway as well.

Chain Reaction 1, finished!

Since I didn’t manage to get pictures of my fourth finished piece before I finished my most recent project, I have two things to share today.

The first is a pattern that I’ve made before, the Stasia Tee by Sew Liberated. Since I’ve already talked about this pattern, I made it basically the exact same way as before, except I did add a little extra width to the lower section to compensate for the mom tummy that I’ve gained since the ivory version. I made a coral tee years ago, and it ended up being a surprisingly versatile piece in my wardrobe. But given that it was two kids and a quarantine ago, it isn’t fitting that well these days. So this one was to function as both a replacement for that, and a much needed pop of color in this particular chain.

I had quite a bit of this coral left over, so I did make a second little side project, which I’ll put in a different post soon.

The second project, and what I believe will be the last piece in this particular chain for now, was the Carlsbad Vest from the recently released Itch to Stitch book. As you know, I’ve become quite a fan of her patterns in recent years, and I can honestly say that I want to make every single pattern in this book! Which I haven’t been able to say about other pattern books that I’ve acquired in the past. To be honest, this vest wasn’t on my immediate radar, but I found a fabric during my birthday mini-shopping spree that I thought would be perfect for it. And since it happened to work with the pieces in this chain, I just went for it!

The fabric is a double-sided knit from Joann’s — black and white stripes on one side, and white dots on black for the reverse. Initially, I was wondering if I could make this fully reversible, but that’s a lot of flat-felling on a stretchy knit. So in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of rippling all the seams. I did think that the reversible quality would make for a fun contrast with the waterfall effect of the front, and I do believe it worked out well. I also ended up using the dotted side for the arm bindings — partially for the style, but also because this knit was surprisingly hard to cut straight and all of my stripes for those pieces ended up slanted!

I made the size 14– I probably could have done the 12, but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t pulling over my hips. The instructions were really nicely done for the mitered corners and the collar, so I had no trouble sewing this together. Honestly, the part that took the longest was the hemming, since it’s on all four sides and the way the corners are constructed made me think that my coverstitch machine wouldn’t be the best finishing choice. I ended up doing a folded hem (as per the instructions), with a narrow zigzag and tear-away stabilizer. It worked like a dream, with nary a ripple in sight, except the ones that are supposed to be in the front from that long rectangular piece. I could see myself making this again as an alternate silhouette to the Blackwood Cardigan, with a nice drapey knit.

And now, here’s how all five pieces in this chain mix together! As a reminder, the other three patterns involved are the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Jeans, the Itch to Stitch Atenas Jeans Jacket, and the Paprika Patterns Jade Skirt.

So, six looks from five pieces, which I can likely mix up more with different shoes (though my choices are admittedly limited there), or jewelry. Especially once I get to the point where Miss Grabby Toddler lets me start using my necklaces and dangly earrings again!

Overall, I’m quite pleased with how this chain-style sewing experiment worked out! My plan is to take a brief break from that for another project (I very badly need some pajamas that are between flannel pants and summer shorts), but plans for the next chain are definitely in the works. And, of course, I’m fully planning on mixing these pieces in with other things in my closet/future sewing projects as much as possible!

Chain reaction 1, The Jade Skirt

Not that you can see any details here, because black fabric.

My third piece in this first chain is the Jade Skirt, by Paprika Patterns. I’ve had this pattern/fabric pairing in my stash for a few years now, along with fabric for a second version, so it was time! And a basic black skirt is something that I’ve been lacking for awhile anyway.

The chair models it better than I do for details.

This was definitely a pattern that needed some brainpower on my part, more so than the pants (a pattern repeat) and the jacket (other than the welt pockets.) The front of this skirt is basically fabric origami, and I’m very glad that I took my sewing time one night to watch the video tutorial on her website! The folding process really wasn’t bad after that, though I think it would have helped if I had any quantity of more than two pin colors. I did find it a little tricky to wear for its first outing today, because even though it’s stitched under the folds to secure them, things tend to shift around when I’m in the process of sitting down. The other knit that I have for this one is a spongier, textured one. So I’m seriously debating topstitching the folds in place for that one, whenever I get to it. We’ll see how I feel after a couple of wears.

Pattern alterations!

The fitting was a more challenging process than I anticipated. I started out with a size 8, and the longer length. I’m not sure if I ended up making this higher waisted than it was supposed to be. The way that the skirt is constructed means that the bottom is finished off by the lining before the waistband is attached, and putting the finished edge at my preferred knee-area skirt length does make it high waisted on me. So then I ended up having to take quite a bit out of the back darts and side seams— I think I ended up grading it in about 6”-7” all around from my hips! And if I do succeed in flattening out my third baby tummy any, I may need to take it in even more. In anticipation of that, and also because me and stitching in the ditch with stretch stitches don’t get along, I hand sewed the waistband lining in so I can more easily access those side seams again.

I still love these crazy statement sleeves.

Just for fun, I paired this newest addition to my wardrobe with the oldest surviving member of my handmade wardrobe. I made this shirt back when Lord of the Rings was still in theaters, and I was trying to incorporate as much Middle-earth style into my wardrobe as a broke student could manage. (Side note, how am I looking at 20 year anniversaries of these movies now? I guess I’m old or something.) Anyway, this shirt alone has managed to survive the wardrobe purges since. And while I hadn’t really been able to wear this one in awhile, between babies/nursing and just lacking basics to pair with it, I think it works well with my accidental high waisted skirt. So I’m happy to have a way to get this back into a more regular rotation.

For my 100 Days Project update, I’m at the halfway mark today! And I haven’t missed any days yet, though I had to get creative with things like a recent late night at book club. I’ve used a few here and there for things like rethreading machines and washing fabric, which still counts for me because they’re parts of the process. I’ll admit that I’m starting to get some evenings here and there where I just want to take a night off and do something else, but knowing that I only need 15 minutes has helped a lot with keeping me motivated.

I’m actually already mostly done with my next project in the chain! So I’m thinking that one more project after this will probably be good for this set. I’m strongly considering knocking out a quick filler project or two before starting the next one, as I’m still plotting it out. Summer clothes will likely be involved!

The Atenas Jacket

I guess I’m on an Itch to Stitch kick, because the next piece in this wardrobe chain is the Atenas jeans jacket. I’ve been wanting to tackle this type of jacket for awhile, as I love the look of a denim jacket layered over spring/fall skirts and dresses. The blue denim one that I own has served me well, but the sleeves are obviously too short on me, as long sleeved RTW usually is. So I have to wear it with the sleeves rolled up as a 3/4 length jacket, which does somewhat limit its usefulness.

For this initial version, I made it from black denim that my mom gifted to me along with the pattern. After a great deal of debate, I made it in a size 10, C cup, graded to 12 in the hips. The result is quite fitted in my midsection if I button it, though not uncomfortably so. Honestly, though, I never button denim jackets, so it really doesn’t matter! And since my old basic black layering jacket finally got too worn and snug, it’s good to have a new replacement piece in my closet. (That old jacket lasted me for about 15 years, though –wait, have I really been writing this blog for that long?!)

Just ignore that all of my best shots have little limbs sticking out of odd places, ok? #momlife

Overall, the instructions on this were great. I was a little worried about the welt pocket, because the last time I made them was about 7 years ago, when I was binge sewing Sewaholic Thurlow pants. I did a little test run with some scraps, and it helped a lot. Really, the main problem that I had with this was that, despite double checking my sleeve against the pattern piece, I somehow managed to sew both sleeves in backwards, and didn’t notice until I tried it on. Which, of course, was already after I’d trimmed the seams and flat felled them! I had a little breakdown over that, but thankfully, the kids were content to watch tv and let me bust out my seam ripper, and I was able to get them fixed that same day. Not as nicely, to be honest, since I ended up just lining the cut edges up, serging them, and doing a much more narrow topstitch line. But it worked, and I still had the jacket done in time for my birthday, which had been the goal all along.

A few other details: I did the faux pockets on this one, as I was more concerned about the fit than the extra pockets. And though I cut out the tabs for the lower band, I ended up leaving them off the final jacket, since I wanted to be sure of the fit and I was getting pretty crunched for time by this point, even pulling hours of sewing each night last week to get it done by my self-imposed deadline! It’s just as well, since I would have needed 4 extra buttons for that, and it had also been awhile since I installed jeans hardware. But I only broke one button and I have a few spares of this type for whenever I get back into sewing jeans with an actual buttoned waistband.

I think I would make a few tweaks the next time, namely adding just a tiny bit more width across the upper back. It got more comfortable as I wore it that day, but it did feel a little snug initially, thanks to my killer flutist upper back muscles. I also need to add a little more length to the side pockets, because I don’t know if it’s the lining fabric I used, but it barely reached the folded front facing to get caught in that seam. I already have a vision in my head of turning the stack of jeans in my refashion pile into another one of these, though I’m definitely taking time off for some quicker projects before I tackle that!

To move on in the chain, I initially wanted to do a top, and will still likely come back to that. But after some brainstorming with my color savvy quilter mom about what would work with the pants that isn’t just a boring neutral, I realized I don’t have the right color in my stash. So that’s coming in the future, but in the meantime, I’ve started another bottom piece.

I also managed a nice little fabric shopping spree, thanks to a gift card from my in-laws at Christmas and some birthday money that I was given. So I bought myself 7 new pieces of fabric! One of them will actually work nicely for this particular chain, I believe, and several of the others will work well together for a warmer weather one. Though I generally love the fabrics that I get from my mom at Christmas, it’s been awhile since I was really able to pick out much for myself, so that was fun!

Grunge jeans

I finally finished my first piece of the year, and the first piece for my first chain reaction mini capsule! And there really isn’t any other way to describe this print, even if it does leave me singing Pearl Jam in my head. (Yes, I’m dating myself, but given that I have a milestone birthday coming up this month, it was pretty much inevitable.) This fabric had been sitting in my stash for at least 5 or 6 years because frankly, I didn’t know what to do with it. It was from one of my Christmas hauls that my mom often gives me, and while I like the print just fine, the fabric itself was a little strange, since it’s got this crazy amount of 2 way stretch that left me scratching my head about what pattern to use. (Seriously, if I did the math right, it’s something like 70-80%.)

I finally realized that it was a good candidate for a second iteration of the Mountain View jeans. And after last year’s closet purge, I was desperately in need of some pants that I felt ok about wearing in public. Especially because this whole crazy year has finally made me cave on the whole Yoga Pants Mom thing, given that homeschooling and having a toddler running around makes for a rather messy life. So this seemed like the perfect place to start.

I did make some changes from my first version. Initially, I took a wedge out of the back waistband to account for my perpetual swayback, and added about 1/4″ vertically to the waistband. I’m much more comfortable with this amount of rise than on the turquoise version, though I still wear those regularly. I did have the foresight to check the fit before doing any finished seams, thankfully. And I ended up taking out quite a bit — mostly in the knees down, since the fabric demanded a skinnier cut than I’d done last time, but I did also take an extra 1/8 or so on much of the rest of the vertical seams. I do wonder if I went far enough with that, particularly the back leg seams, but overfitting it and straining the fabric was something that I preferred to avoid.

I probably should have tightened up the waistband more, particularly on the elastic, as it is something that I have to adjust while wearing. I was trying to avoid the muffin top look, since that has become a little problem lately (thanks, quarantine 15), but I think I overcompensated. It’s not bothering me enough to do anything about it now, but I am anticipating/ hoping that I’ll need to adjust it in the future, given that I really am trying to build some sustainable healthier habits.

The last photo is how I styled it for its first public outing, going to church on a more wintry weather day. So I paired it with my latest Blackwood cardigan and a RTW top that’s basically the only solid black thing I own that isn’t sleeveless. (Definitely need to plug that wardrobe hole sometime.) I’ve already started the next link in the chain, which will be a jacket (also by Itch to Stitch, because her patterns just fit my current lifestyle so well!) I’m thinking a shirt to make it a complete outfit would be a good part 3. After consulting with my color guru (aka Mom the Quilter), I have an idea that would actually take care of something that needs replacing anyway. (Not the black shirt, not yet, I need some color with this!) But I don’t actually have fabric for that, so I’m hoping that Joann’s comes through for me. I have a gift card that my in-laws gave me for Christmas that needs using, and I’d like to get something besides just restocking on neutral threads and interfacing!

Finally, a quick note on my 100 Days Project! Today is day 17 of the project, and aside from not having a chance to do anything yet today, I’m proud to say that I have stuck with it so far. Since I’m starting with two projects that involve topstitching and all, it still feels like slow progress. But given that I probably sewed a total of 16 times or less over the course of 6 months last year, this already feels like an accomplishment. I’m probably averaging closer to 20 minutes a day rather than 15, but on nights when it’s taking longer to get my kids to bed (especially since my daughter is currently getting 4 teeth at once, why?!) or when Doug wants to hang out, it’s nice to feel like it’s ok to just sew a seam or two and stop. And so far, I’m not doing it at the expense of giving up digital scrapbooking, since that’s something I do more during the day, or reading, since I often do that on my Kindle while getting kids to sleep. I’m feeling good about this, and after last year, I think this was just what I needed.