I’ll be back…

It just might be awhile before I have anything new to show off of any needles or other craftiness, since my big 9 month project decided he was done.

Meet Padawan! He was born on Friday night after a shockingly accelerated labor (as in I really wasn’t sure we’d make it to the hospital on time by the end, and it was all over less than half an hour after we got there.)  He was 8 pounds 3 ounces, and 20″ tall. I don’t think Hobbit knows what to make of this yet– he was interested for a few minutes on Friday night, then got fussy, then didn’t want much of anything to do with either him or me yesterday. Toddlers. Hopefully I’ll be forgiven soon. 

Anyway, we’re going home today, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to pick up any of my projects again, while I’m healing up and we’re all getting used to each other. (And hopefully getting more sleep than Hobbit let us have.) In the meantime, happy Easter and happy sewing!

Wardrobe Architect Revisited, part 2

For this episode, I’m revisiting lifestyle and silhouettes.

Lifestyle: I honestly don’t have to rehash the entire worksheet. After all, my history/family background and such hasn’t changed. If you are interested in  reading the original answers, you can do so here. But here are the things that have changed…

5. Activities- How do your day-to-day activities influence your choices?
When I originally wrote this, I was working part-time at the garden center, teaching music lessons, and a newlywed. Now, as a mostly stay at home mom, I need to think more practically about my clothes. If you follow my Instagram, it’s pretty obvious that saying Hobbit is “active” is a bit of an understatement! And with a little brother on the way, I think the bulk of my wardrobe is going to have to be made up of clothes that are easy to care for, easy to move in, and at least for now, easy to nurse in. I still need some nicer things for church and teaching/performing, especially now that I’m also playing in an orchestra again. (Oh, hi, all the black clothes!) But after several months of also following along with some ideas for toddler activities, I’m also realizing that I really could use some loungewear as well, particularly things that either I don’t mind getting messy or that stains come out of easily. I still love (and miss) jeans, but definitely don’t want to go through the fitting process again only to lose the results to finger paint or other messier play! (I might be better off getting that stuff from the thrift shop though, since my sewing time is limited.)

6. Location- Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?

Well, I still live in the same area, so mid-Atlantic humidity and wacky temperature swings are still a thing. (Wow, this past winter was nuts.) I’m mostly revisiting this because I’ve since discovered that I actually don’t mind wearing skirts when it’s moderately cold, when paired with leggings and boots. And I’ve also reluctantly concluded that I’m going to need  some shorts for our hot days, because moms with little boys hanging on their legs and running all over the playground probably can’t live in just skirts.

7. Body- In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?

This one is probably the biggest change from before. As I said in the last post, it’s been awhile since my body wasn’t undergoing constant changes, given that I’m ending up with 2 kids less than 2 years apart. (Not by more than a few months, but still.) And if you’ve been following me within these last 3 years, you know that one of the things I’ve struggled with is coming up with things to sew that have a flexible enough fit to accommodate the changes in weight/measurements that still feel like me. It’s looking like after I factor in the weight I’m going to lose that’s actual baby, I’m facing an approximate year of nursing plus about 30-35 additional pounds to lose if I want to get close to where I was before all of this started. And since one of the things that my favorite silhouettes before tended to play up was my waistline, and that’s pretty much shot at this point, it’s much more challenging to figure out what feels flattering to me when I’m still also self-conscious about the same areas as before plus that.

Now for the more fun part– silhouettes! The words I came up with to describe my ideal style before were casual, colorful, cozy, artsy, and geeky. And that still feels right to me. But for silhouettes, a lot of what I’d said before involved favoring more fitted silhouettes. Fit and flare dresses, peplums, waistline definition, and so on. That’s where I have to rethink things a little more. Fortunately, I have been collecting inspiration on Pinterest for awhile now, and in combing through the outfits that I liked well enough to collect on my Wardrobe Architect board, here’s some things I’ve noticed:

Jeans and maxi-skirts for days are apparently two of the major things I’m drawn to– there were far more long skirts than shorter ones or dresses. And you all know how I feel about my jeans. (I’ve been dying to try the Ginger jeans pattern for years now, but, you know, double pregnancy fitting issues.) Still lots of jackets/outerwear layers, too. One thing I have noticed about the outfits that I’ve saved over the last year or so is that I do seem to be finding more pins where the shirts are more the type that are still fairly fitted in the bust, but drapier in the waist. That will be much more forgiving for me now, so that may be a good thing to keep in mind for future top patterns, even though I still see a place for tops like my beloved Renfrew. (Assuming I can get a nursing-friendly hack to work for that!)

Incidentally, another thing I’ve noticed about Pinterest is that it’s often rather challenging to find outfits that aren’t just solid neutral everything. SO MUCH TAUPE. And I particularly found it harder to find things with prints, period. But I have also noticed that solids are more palatable when they have some kind of interesting design detail, like that drapey teal top in the top row. But anyway, moving on to some more seasonal stuff

You knew I couldn’t do this without some geeky inspiration, right? I’m seriously in love with that Faramir outfit in particular, and not just because he’s actually my favorite male character in the Lord of the Rings books. I realize that the color palette here reads more fall, but I found it easiest to find silhouettes that would work well for the more transitional weather of spring and fall here. It’s mostly cool enough for pants and boots. I can layer up, like with the plaid shirt and the jacket. And I can wear tunic-type shirts– I think something along the lines of these cream and green ones in the bottom row are a particularly good style evolution for me, because the belts still give them a bit of waist definition, even as the respective pleats and drapiness are better for the weight fluctuations that I’m still getting used to. (I may seriously have to knock off that cream one, since it’s also very nursing friendly!)

Winter clothes have always been a bigger challenge for me. Frankly, a lot of them bore me, even though a lot of that is probably more the palette. But I did find these three that I liked. The long cardigan gives that outfit the artsy element that I’ve been missing. The middle outfit would be a great one for things like running errands and chasing the boys outside, without feeling embarrassed about how I look– I really do feel much more put together in jeans than yoga-type pants! And the outfit on the right would actually be a great casual teaching outfit, with the trouser jeans and the nicer top/cardigan. The pants remind me of the Sewaholic Thurlows, though maybe just a bit straighter in the thigh to give it that wider leg. I miss those pants.

Surprisingly for me, I actually had a lot of trouble finding some ideas for summer outfits. At least, ones that don’t involve a maxi-skirt. The thing is, I don’t particularly feel comfortable wearing shorts, since I don’t like to show that much of my pasty thighs, but as stated before, sometimes they’re just more practical for my current lifestyle. And it’s especially hard to find outfit inspiration where the shorts aren’t super short, even when you plug in search terms like “mom outfit” along with it. Like that outfit with the coral top? Love the concept, since I can get all over a colorful, printed top that’s flowy enough to deal with our 80-90+ degrees plus all the humidity days that we often get around midsummer or so. But I’m pretty sure that Hobbit’s shorts are longer than those shorts, and he’s still under 3 feet tall! (I think.) The length on the other outfit is much better, though I doubt I’d tuck in any portion of my top during those really sticky days. Again, I like the concept, though, and maybe it’s time that I considered trying out a woven tee pattern, if I can find one that wouldn’t just look like a sack once it got past my chest. I do have two on hand that might work (the Sewaholic Belcarra and the Seamwork Akita.) I do have a couple of shorts patterns to try out as well, hopefully this summer since I maybe have one pair of shorts that may or may not end up fitting to get me through the entire season, and I’m hoping that they won’t end up looking dreadful on me.

So, to sum up, it looks like the silhouettes to aim for now are more fitted at the bust/flowy at the waist and hips, and try to figure out a way to fit some pants or especially jeans. Also, it looks like separates are something I lean much more strongly towards overall, though I still love me a good maxi dress. But even though I know I’m not the type of person who can have the 40 hanger capsule wardrobe and be happy in all seasons with that, the potential ability to mix and match more within those mini capsules that I’m still trying to build will serve me well.

Wardrobe Architect, Revisited

I’m sure you remember the blog series that Colette Patterns put out a few years ago, right? I enjoyed the chance to take a really in-depth look at the things I like to wear in hopes of making the most of my handmade wardrobe, though the only place I really got to implement it was when trying to put together my maternity wardrobe. It did certainly help that I already had that base when I added a few thrift shop extras back in the fall to compensate for the overall colder weather that I’ve had this second time around, because I was able to quickly zone in on the colors that already went with the things I had. But I’ve also been thinking that it’s time to take a second look at this process, because a lot has changed since I went through it in 2014.

When I did it before, I was working more, my weight had been generally stable for a long time so I had a good idea of what actually worked on my figure, and I could focus more on form rather than just function. Now, I still need clothes that are professional enough to teach music lessons in and nice black outfits for concerts, but I’m also a mom of two very young kids. (Just haven’t quite met the second one yet.) I only had a couple of months between wrapping up nursing before and the beginning of this second pregnancy, so it’s been awhile since my body hasn’t been constantly changing. It’ll be awhile longer, given that I’ve got all the new baby weight to lose on top of the bit I hadn’t lost from Hobbit yet. And I did a massive closet purge back in the summer, but still haven’t really been able to evaluate how well the things that got left will work for me, since I haven’t been able to wear most of them for months now.

(Most of what’s left, minus the skirts and dresses that wouldn’t fit in the picture. And t-shirts and stuff.)

I don’t think I’ll need to go quite as in depth this time, because the color palette that I like, my love for prints over solids, and the general feel that I want for my wardrobe haven’t changed. But I definitely need to reevaluate the silhouettes that might work on me, and how my current lifestyle affects what I need. And I feel like this is a good time to do it, since my ability to physically sew is limited right now. (Though I did manage to finish the second nursing bra, at least. We’ll see about the third.)  If nothing else, I could use the distraction, because the end of this pregnancy is so much physically harder than I remember the last one being! More to come…

slowest knitter EVER

I finished a thing! It only took me about 8-9 months! The sad thing is, it took me that long to finish a sweater for Hobbit. Who is not a super-tall human. And it was with bulky yarn. Isn’t that supposed to be fast to knit?

latte coat frontTechnically, I never actually finished it. There were supposed to be pockets, but I literally ran out of yarn. I didn’t block it (it’s acrylic anyway, so it’s not like that would do much), and I was supposed to sew on some buttons, but figured that pushing buttons through those tiny little eyelet buttonholes while trying to restrain a toddler was probably a lost cause. Anyway.

latte coat backThe yarn was Lion Brand Hometown USA, which I originally got from a cousin who had tried knitting and decided it was too physically hard on her hands. There were two skeins of the cream and one skein of the brown, and I figured it would be good colors for something boy. It looked like there would be enough yardage, based on what I read on Ravelry, so I went for it. And wow, was I wrong on the yardage. I actually had to go back to the store twice to buy more of the cream, and the last time I went back for more, there wasn’t any. The brown stripes on the sleeves were out of necessity, just to get enough length to finish. (And as you can see on the left side, I didn’t have quite enough of that either.) I also discovered that knitting super-bulky yarn isn’t that fun for my hands, either. I guess it’s because I knit pretty tightly, but it hurt. So I had to keep picking it up and putting it down and occasionally knitting another project instead.

The good news is, since I knit a larger size, even though it’s spring now and he probably won’t need this sweater, it’ll probably still fit him in the fall. The bad news is, I’m pretty sure he hates it. I tried to get it on him just long enough for a photoshoot, and these were the best pictures I was able to get:

nooooo This one was while yelling “nooooooo” and reaching out so I’d pull this horrendous thing off of him.

 

 

 

 

bye latte coatAnd if he looks happier here, it’s because he was managing to shrug it off himself. Sorry for the blur. I blame toddler physics– the kiddo in motion tends to stay in motion until an outside force acts on him and forces him to take a nap or something.

Oh well… I’ll try again in the fall. And if he still hates it, maybe Padawan will wear it? I hope so, because as long as this took me, it’s sad to think that it might have been a complete waste of time.

 

well, that was…interesting.

So you know how, at the end of every year, it’s pretty much traditional to share your sewing goals for the following year? And I’ve had “try making a bra” on there for several of those in a row now? Well, I finally did it.

And to be honest, I’m a little embarrassed to show the results. But in the interest of honesty and lifelong learning and all that, I’m going to do it anyway.

first bra outsideThe thing is, it was never going to be anything more than frumpy to some extent, since it’s a nursing bra and therefore pure function over form. I got the pattern from Bra-Makers’ Supply, as it was the only one I could find that wasn’t a little bralette for, shall we say, the less endowed. (Especially when nursing. Ugh.) I had to completely guess at the supplies, since the sizing listed on the website was a bit confusing. So, given that I’m a complete newbie at this particular type of sewing project, I decided to just buy 3 of the large bra supply kits, along with the necessary nursing clips, and hope for the best.

first bra inside The good news is, that strategy mostly worked. (“Mostly” being the key word.) I had plenty of the band and trim elastics, and enough of the main fabrics to still have scraps left. Though not enough to line the cups. I wasn’t planning to do it to this one anyway, since I wanted to test the fit before I went to all that trouble, but I was hoping to be able to do it with the other two colors. I cut those out this afternoon, and just could not make that work. Oh well, I’ll be having to stuff these with nursing pads anyway.

This was SO fiddly to sew, moreso than any project I’ve done in some time. I guess it could be partially because of having to add that extra cradle bit to make the cups nursing friendly, and then having to wing it on finishing that seam. (It called for a strip of lightweight tricot, but the kit didn’t have it and the supply list didn’t say anything, so I had to just cut a strip of the leftover powernet and try to just make it work.) But mostly, I think it was all the elastic. That, and the seam finishing that left a lot of raw edges showing. I really feel like the whole thing looks sloppy, and if this is something I’m going to continue playing with past these nursing bras, I’m definitely going to have to clean up my technique.

first bra strap Aside from that inside cup finishing, the place where the bra kit really didn’t quite cover it was the straps. I suspected I’d be in trouble as soon as I pulled it out and saw just how short the strap elastic length was–it looked like barely enough for one, and I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to get two. I just managed to squeak it out, by adding a bit of extra length using the underwire casing that I hadn’t actually needed for this pattern. As you can see, there is virtually zero adjustability to this strap. So for the next two, I think I’ll be lengthening the casing bit.

I’m not about to put pictures of me actually wearing this thing on the internet, so as far as fit goes, I’ll say it’s probably good enough. If this was more of an everyday bra, I’d say that it really should have some more lift to it, but since this is one where my size will be changing multiple times a day and the underwires were problematic with my store-bought nursing bras, it’s fine. I’m actually wearing it right now, and it’s way more comfortable than my non-nursing bras that I’ve been forced to make work, and still more supportive than my saggy baggy older nursing bras. So in that, at least, it’s a win.

As stated, I did cut out two more today, and am hoping to get them knocked out before this baby actually arrives. It’s cutting it close, as I can only sew in short bursts before I just get too uncomfortable now. (But then, the same goes for everything else in my life right now, so…) And I’ve only got about 3 1/2 weeks before my due date, so wish me luck. Also, any of you more experienced lingerie makers have any tips for how I can get this elastic to stitch on a little nicer? Or what to do with the seam finishing to make this look better?

 

 

of bare necessities and sewing slumps

I’m not going to do a February wrap-up post this time, as there’s really not much to say. I did, however, recently finish a pair of nursing camisoles, with a third in the works. (Which I cannot fit over the bump, so floor modeling it is.) This is the second pattern of the nine that I specifically chose to focus on this year, the Uptown Camisole from Peekaboo Pattern Shop with the nursing add-on. The black is a rayon knit that I bought several yards of to make basic tops, and the charcoal is a long-stashed remnant left over from binding the edges of a Butterick knit dress that I made, oh, 8 or so years ago. It’s nice to have finally mostly used that up. 

Overall, the construction of this one was very straightforward, so the biggest challenge for me was using it as a way to further acquaint myself with the coverstitch machine. I did make a rather important discovery while experimenting with using it to sew on the binding, rather than turning it under 1/4″ and topstitching, which I’ve always found rather fiddly on knits.

The first attempt was a complete disaster, which resulted in my having to rip the (thankfully shorter) neckline binding piece off of both camisoles and recutting it. Mostly because, as you can see here, I ripped it full of holes. I guess that’s what I get for black thread on black fabric while sewing in a room with zero natural light at night, right? *eyeroll* I did still have to do the fold under/topstitch on one of the two after this, because I serged the new binding onto the shirt and quickly learned that it’s just too thick for my coverstitch to go through and still function well. I had much better luck with the second one, where I used the stretch stitch on my regular sewing machine to attach the binding before sewing it down.

I was also able to use the coverstitch for the hems (obviously), the elastic that holds the lower portion of the front in place, and the straps. I still have a bit of a learning curve to go on here, since the stitching on the back didn’t quite catch in several places and I did a less-than-stellar job of lining up the needle with the raw edges for the hem, despite pressing in place and measuring from the folded edge while sewing. But that’s part of what’s enjoyable about sewing, right, that there’s always something new you can learn?

Which, frankly, I need right now, because I’ve been coming to the realization that aside from the coverstitch experiments, I’m just not excited about sewing these days. Or, more precisely, I’m not excited about what I’ve been sewing. I guess it’s to be expected, given that everything I’ve made so far this year has been strictly practical, and I’ve had a run of projects at the end of last year where I was less than excited about the results for one reason or another. That, and I’m at the point of this pregnancy where I’m sick of everything I’ve been wearing, and even have a little less to pick from since it’s been mostly colder than my last third trimester. Frankly, I just want to sew something that I don’t necessarily need, just for the fun of it, that will make me feel great when I wear it. But I’m not sure what that could look like right now, given that I have somewhere around 5-6 weeks of pregnancy left, and then the whole postpartum thing where my body just isn’t going to be settled enough to really fit anything for months. I’m hoping I can have a little more success in squeezing in some activity this time, since I’ll have Hobbit to chase anyway, but still. Exercise has never been something I’ve enjoyed, so it’s hard to motivate myself to do it. I also still have a few necessities that need to be taken care of, mostly hemming the nursery curtains and some badly needed nursing bras.

Have you ever been in this kind of sewing slump? Any suggestions for a fun project that might help, given my constraints? Or should I just take a break for some knitting or something?

New year, new space

I know, I know, it’s well over a month into 2017. But I’m not moving fast these days, both physically and in terms of crafting. For those of you  who are just tuning in, my sewing room is becoming baby #2 (aka Padawan’s) room. We’re finally getting to the point where Hobbit is starting to sleep through the night more consistently, thank God! But that means we also don’t want to have another little guy in the same room waking him up at this point, and vice versa. (Even though he’ll really be spending his first few months in the bassinet in our room, since the less walking I have to do for late night feedings, the better.) Anyway, the point is that I’ve officially gone from a sewing room to a sewing nook in our closet, with my fabrics and less frequently used supplies moving to the basement. And clearing this room out has sucked up a lot of the time in which I would otherwise be making things.

img_4632

Ignore the crappy lighting, since I can’t do anything about it, but here’s the new space! My machines live at the wall that is shared with our actual bedroom, and Doug drilled a hole for a power strip so I could plug everything in. My must-have supplies are in an IKEA cart that tucks nicely under my skirts and dresses. And nearly everything else is in a large downstairs closet that connects to the finished part of the basement.

And look, new machines! I finally have gotten the Janome coverstitch machine set up and tested, and I think this is the beginning of a much more beautiful friendship with my knit projects. In addition, my mom generously passed one of her extra sewing machines on to me, so I have a newer Bernina to play with! While my old machine has more decorative stitches, this one actually has that lightning bolt stretch stitch, and a machine light that functions. Both of which have been handy already. (Let’s be honest, decorative stitches aren’t something I’ve used much  since my teenage years anyway.)

Along with the rearranging, I’ve also been trying to declutter as much as I can stand to, including being really honest with myself about project leftovers I can’t find a use for after years/free fabric people have dumped on me that isn’t my taste/etc. I’ve still got some work to do on scrapbook and miscellaneous craft supplies, but here’s a sampling of what I’ve managed to let go of. (Understanding that I’m a pack rat by nature, and the thought of doing that Konmari extreme declutter horrifies me.  So this is huge!)

  • 65 yards of fabric, which was well over 10% of my stash. (The Stashbusting Sewalong group is trying to collectively get through that much this year, so yay team!)
  • A stack of scrapbook paper that was around 5″ tall. That’s a lot of paper. (This actually  went to my best friend, who uses it for a particular item she creates for an annual craft fair at her church.)
  • A bunch of stickers, including several unopened packs that were clearly from the 90s. Sandylion, anyone? (Too obviously girly for me to save for the boys, since my one naturally gravitates towards things like trucks and dinosaurs and safari animals all on his own.)
  • Most of my really cheap-feeling acrylic yarn/yarn with alpaca, since my skin has made it very clear that wearing any animal fibers against it for longer than 20 minutes is a no-go. (I did keep some cheap acrylic for kids’ crafts, and one alpaca yarn for some boot toppers, since it’s a versatile color and I’d be wearing those over jeans or leggings.)

And, for the sake of catching up, here’s a quick summary of everything I sewed in January.

Cake Espresso Leggings Since it was the only thing on my #2017makenine list that is actually wearable for me at the moment, I made another pair of Cake Espresso leggings, this time in a grey ponte. Technically, I made two, though I finished the second this month. Unfortunately, the second pair is currently unwearable– while this grey ponte from my Christmas haul had a four way stretch, the teal that I used for the second was more of a two-way stretch. As a result, at the risk of TMI, I can’t get them pulled up enough to fully cover my backside. I do have enough fabric left over than I can add some length there, but I’m going to wait until after the bump to try them on again and make sure that’s not the only issue. But I’ll probably just unpick the folded-over waistband and stitch on a new one to give me the coverage I need to be comfortable wearing them. I did get to play with my new coverstitch for both of these, so that was fun!

The rest of my sewing was rather utilitarian. Part of rearranging the closet to accommodate my sewing machines was needing to figure out what to do with our dirty laundry, since our washer and dryer are two floors down from our bedroom. So I recycled one of my old handmade curtains into two new laundry bags. Having something that closes is definitely a must, since one of our golden retrievers is a total kleptomaniac and our socks will be all over the place if he gets a hold of them.

I also have been playing around with a more old-fashioned paper planner this year, since writing things to do out seems to help me remember better. The particular one I purchased is a print-at-home, and one of the major perks for me was having lots of note pages so I can treat it like a bullet journal, and therefore have all of my lists of projects to work on and books to find and whatnot without having to write out my calendar every month. But my binder was boring, and I needed a way to keep my pens with it, so I used up most of some leftover quilt cotton from an apron that I made several years back to make a cheery cover for it. (The button is part for looks, and part to keep it closed in a way that Hobbit hasn’t figured out how to get past yet! He’s starting to figure zippers out, so that was a no go.)

My sewing this month has been pretty slow so far, since I wasn’t able to sit down in the closet cave for over a week. But hopefully I’ll at least finish what I’m currently working on before this month is out! I’ve got a few things that I’d really, really like to finish before Padawan makes his appearance, since I have absolutely no idea how much luck I’ll have in getting both boys sleeping at the same time for awhile. Wish me luck!