Top 5 Highlights of 2017

I usually do reflections with this one, but that would make this post too long. So here’s what’s been going on in my real life…

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1. Obviously, the biggest thing that happened this year was having our second son. It’s been quite the adjustment! There was close to a month and a half where we had the dreaded two under 2 thing going on. We’re just about at 8 months and 2 1/2 years now. It’s still two in diapers, two not sleeping through the night (that has been SO bad the last couple of months), and now we’re just barely hitting the point where they’re both mobile! Padawan is sitting unsupported for longer stretches now, rolling all over the place, and occasionally army crawling. He also loves to stand up with help, so I suspect it won’t be long before he’s trying to walk. The little guy is such a cuddler. And I have to admit that I’ve been overall quite pleasantly surprised by Hobbit– I thought he’d be jealous, since he was just getting to a more possessive stage around my due date. But for the most part, he’s turning out to be quite the attentive and caring big brother! I hope that continues.

Speaking of Hobbit, he’s getting to a fun age. His vocabulary has exploded over the last 6 months, we can actually have basic conversations, he asks me to read him books regularly now, and when he’s not doing the 2 year old tantrum thing, he’s constantly cracking me up!

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2. This has been a surprisingly busy year in my semi-professional life! I’m still doing the community orchestra, and am currently gearing up for a concert in which I play principal flute on one part and the highest notes I’ve ever had to play in my life on piccolo. I’m also still doing the flute choir, and we just recently did a concert featuring all female composers. (Which, according to our director, was surprisingly hard to assemble considering the general ratio of female to male flutists.) On top of that, I’d gone into the end of the summer thinking that this would probably be a good year to try and consolidate my teaching to fewer days– but then I picked up several new students! I’m up to double digits again now, which I hadn’t been in years. So a lot of my focus over the fall and going into 2018 is trying to figure out how to streamline and organize things at home to make it easier to juggle my job and the kids. (Also, since my mom is my babysitter for all of this teaching, she’s amazing and I couldn’t do this without her.)

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3. We survived our first overnight trips with kids! We took a somewhat last minute trip down to Virginia over Labor Day weekend, in which we drove through a big chunk of Shenandoah National Park. And then last month, Doug’s parents took us and his sister’s family to a waterpark resort up in the Poconos. The park was better than either of us had been expecting, and we agreed we’ll have to try to go back up there ourselves sometime when Padawan is older and can actually enjoy more of what the place has to offer. Also, we have a tentative goal of trying to get the boys to as many states as we can before they graduate high school, so this means they’re both up to five now. Not bad for the toddler and under set. (It helps that it’s really quick and easy to leave our state. Yay, northeast.)

4. We ended up moving to a new church at the end of 2016. It was a tough call for me, because I’d been at the same church for nearly as long as I can remember. But this one is more local to where I live now, and there’s a lot more kids around the boys’ ages than there ended up being at our old one by the time we left. So the highlight for this year is that we’re starting to find ways to get involved and it’s feeling more comfortable now. Which is always a plus, since I am such the stereotypical introvert and it’s always hard for me to go into new situations where I don’t know people well.

5. I feel like I’m finally starting to get healthy again. I wasn’t exactly unhealthy before, and I’m still not getting nearly as much sleep as I probably should. But the time around the end of my pregnancy was rough. I was having so much trouble breathing at the end that I barely slept at all for the last few weeks, and even spent a day at the hospital’s triage section of the labor and delivery unit, only to be told that it was just the baby’s positioning and I just had to ride it out. I ended up having to deliver without painkillers, which wasn’t my plan, but actually a blessing in disguise because I was able to get around again more quickly. Except for my hip. I’ve been in physical therapy for several months because my hips got so misaligned somewhere in there that even normal walking was really painful. It’s finally taking effect now, though I’m not done PT yet. I’ve also been trying to walk more , since I got a fitness tracker to help me keep myself accountable. And it’s helping, because I’m already more than halfway through the baby weight! Hopefully it’ll continue, since it’s Christmas cookie season, and I do love homemade baked goods. I’m hoping to spend more active time outside with the boys next year, and maybe work in a yoga DVD too, to continue to improve on that. Exercise really isn’t my thing, I seriously loathe running and never enjoyed being forced to do team sports in gym class, but I do enjoy hiking. (Except for the bug factor.) And we tried out geocaching during the fall and that was fun, so I think I can get behind doing more outdoorsy family activities.

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Top 5 Hits and Misses

It’s time for my favorite year-end series! Thanks for hosting this yet again, Gillian!

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I have to say, it was a rather mixed bag this year. I wasn’t the most productive in terms of finished projects. And I do have two currently unfinished things that seem to be turning out well, but I don’t want to hold off on this post in case I don’t finish them in time. That, and time to write on the computer instead of my Kindle is rare and must be taken advantage of. Let’s start with the hits, shall we?

nursing bras

1. The award for most worn definitely goes to my nursing bras. I only ever really blogged the ivory one, but I made three. It did get a little better as I went along, and the black one is the best by far. I’m happy to report that they are holding up far better than the RTW ones I used with Hobbit, since those were falling apart by the time he got to the age that Padawan is now (7 months). The fit is decent enough. I’m still thinking through whether bra-making is a field I want to dig further into. On the one hand, I do have a Craftsy class on them that I haven’t gone through yet, and I do get annoyed at continually paying for bras that start falling apart after a month. (Seriously, every non-nursing bra I had for the few months between weaning Hobbit and being too pregnant with Padawan to keep wearing them lost their underwires in that short time, and I’ll have to buy all new ones again when he’s done nursing. Argh.) On the flip side, this was super fiddly, and I really do prefer wearing the smoother foam-cup bras. Either way, this won’t be anything that’s happening next year. Maybe once I finally get my wardrobe in better shape again.

Cake Espresso Leggings

2. The “best wardrobe builder” was my grey Espresso leggings. It’s nice to have a pattern that works equally well for maternity and normal clothes! And since I pretty much exclusively wear leggings as tights instead of pants (except for that one time where I was 9 months pregnant and even my maternity pants weren’t fitting anymore), they’re pretty versatile. I still need to fix the teal ones I made at the same time, since that particular ponte just didn’t have the vertical stretch needed to make it work, but I’m hoping to add to that waistband sometime before the end of the year. We’ll see if I get to it.

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3. The award for “cutest project” definitely goes to the boys’ Halloween costumes. I mean, come on. I’m also gratified that Hobbit still pulls out the scarf sometimes to play with, since that was the most time consuming part of his costume.

Matcha and shorts

4. The “best salvage job” goes to my Wonderland Matcha top. Even though it started out ridiculously huge on me, I’m very happy with the finished result and wore it quite a bit when the weather was warmer. I’m still hoping to get the sizing on this sorted out, because I really do like the style and want this pattern to be a go-to.

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Incidentally, here’s a couple of projects I never got to blogging– I made a quick infinity scarf with the leftovers of this top, and a second one from a fun print I purchased specifically for this purpose. (I mean, tiny horse plaid!) I haven’t gotten to wear these much, since I spend a lot of time with a baby carrier on right now and they would just get soaked in drool, but I’m looking forward to mixing these in more soon.

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5. And the best “just for fun” project goes to my Norwegian Wood Rae skirt. The Sewcialists blog recently did a series on TNT patterns, and while it’s a little embarrassing to admit that my current TNT skirt pattern is an elastic-waist beginner pattern, it’s nice to have one thing that I can just whip out with fun fabric and know it’ll fit.

Now, for the not so good projects…

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1. The “fabric fail” award is a 3 way tie. The first is my nursing-hacked Renfrew. The concept was good. But the rayon jersey just drapes too much for having that kind of opening in the front, and at this point, it’s pretty much unwearable until I sew those nursing openings shut. Which pretty much defeats the entire purpose. I think that the sizing on this was also off– I made the largest size because nursing chest, but it’s just too long and saggy and baggy all over. I would like to do some more work on the Renfrew and figure out my new size, since this used to be one of my TNTs and I miss it.

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2 & 3: My black and ivory nursing camisoles. (Ivory only pictured, because the other is the same pattern. Plus bonus Padawan photobomb.) This was another fabric fail. It was the same rayon jersey as the Renfrew, and the weight of the elastic pulls it down past the opening band. I still wear them under other things, but I have to tuck the elastic under my bra band to hold it up. It’s definitely a fabric fail and not the pattern, though, because I made a grey one from a different remnant, and it has much better recovery, and works great.

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4 & 5. The “bad fit” award goes to both pairs of shorts that I made over the summer. I’m only showing the print pair here, since the solid was in the same picture as the Matcha top. At the time, the issue was that the largest size of the shorts were still too small for my postpartum body. By the time the summer ended, I’d lost enough weight that I could wear both pairs. But since the drafting still left the knit and solid meeting halfway down my butt and it always felt like the shorts were falling off, I really don’t think this is salvageable. The print in particular makes me sad, because I like the fabric for this one.

I have one bonus project that I’m not really sure which side it falls on.

IMG_5136 So, my Jalie Vanessa pants. On the one hand, first successful pair of pants I’ve had since I started having babies! On the other hand, I’ve been kind of stuck on how to style them, particularly since the weight of the fabric and the bagginess mean they really only work for warmer weather. Any suggestions on shirt patterns or silhouettes that might make these more versatile? I mean, I’d hate to toss out a pair of pants that actually fit just because I’m not sure what to wear them with at this point.

Matcha madness

Now that it’s December, I figured I’d better do a little bit of catchup on some unblogged things. After all, it’s Top 5 season!

IMG_5402This make is actually getting close to three months old! It’s just been really hard to get pictures of it, and I’m honesty still on the fence about whether it was a success. But here goes.

I liked how my last Matcha top turned out in the end, in spite of my sizing issues. So I decided to give it another go. I traced two sizes smaller than the original top, and pulled out a lightweight silky print that had been languishing in the stash for a decade or so. Long story short, a) I really need to find some finished garment measurements for this thing, and b) bad fabric choice. It was still huge, and boxy, and just didn’t have the drape that this shirt seems to need.

I played around with cinching it in, and toyed with the idea of making a belt with the scraps that are left, but decided against that, because the silky fabric would shift out of place and into unflattering territory fast. I actually did find a wide belt elastic that’s nearly a perfect match, but haven’t successfully located a suitable buckle to make that. So since the tied fabric belt made me look like Robin Hood anyway, I decided to err on the side of art teacher chic and turn it into a kimono style jacket. I guess that means this counts as the second piece for my Refashion Redemption Project. (The only picture I actually have of me wearing this is an Instagram selfie. But it’ll have to do. Incidentally, I’m also wearing one of the nursing camisoles I was never able to do a modeled shot of because I was super pregnant at the time.)

IMG_5404I’m really glad I’d taken the time to finish all of the insides with a bound seam allowance, since they’re visible now! I should have cut the strips wider, but live and learn. The bias strips were actually a recycle from an old bias cut, pull on skirt that I sewed ages ago. Refashion bin success!

 

A Harry Potter Halloween

IMG_5267Oh, hi, neglected blog! I’ve been struggling to get time to get photos of the most recent project that I finished for myself, but I figured it’s time to share the Halloween costumes that I made for the boys this year. Especially since this plan has been almost two years in the making. One of my best friends has a son 3 days younger than Hobbit, who happens to be a redhead. So we decided while they were still babies that we just had to dress them up as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. (I can’t share pics of the two of them together, since “Ron” isn’t mine, but trust me, it was adorable.) We decided that this was the year to do it, since they were both old enough to walk on their own, but not quite old enough to have firm opinions of their own costumes. And I just had to turn Padawan into Hedwig.

Seriously, my boys are the cutest.

Isaac PotterFor Hobbit’s costume, I used a bathrobe pattern– the “Just Like Dad Flannel Robe”– that was included in Sewing For Boys. I’ve had this book since I was pregnant with him, but this was my first time using it. I also didn’t entirely follow the directions, since the robe was fully lined and I was planning to use fleece. The boy runs hot, so a double layer would have made him miserable. So I just lined the collar area with the burgundy fleece and blind-stitched it down, added some velcro to the front in necessary places to close it, folded the too-long sleeves up underneath his sleeves, and called it a day. (Honestly, since I had to bribe him with candy to get him to try it on at all, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time nicely finishing a costume I wasn’t entirely sure he’d wear. Thankfully, I did get him to wear it for the night of Halloween!) The robe itself probably could have been a little longer, but his friend that did have a longer robe had some issues with tripping, so it’s probably just as well that it wasn’t. (As for the too-short pants, I discovered when I got home that I’d accidentally put him in a pair of Padawan’s pants that somehow ended up in his drawer! Oops.)

The scarf was more time consuming than the robe, but I knew that I’d never finish it in time if I relied on knitting. So I sewed strips of gold fleece to the burgundy, sewed that into a tube, and then cut the ends into the fringe. One eyeliner lightning bolt and a purchased pair of glasses/wand later, and I had my little boy wizard.

IMG_5272 For my adorable little snowy owl, I used the KB Stitch Star Sleeper, which I already had, as my starting point. I mostly did the construction as is, with the additions of the appliques on the feet, and the wings. The legs ended up being too long, but I just tucked the excess up near the feet and it looked fine. I also added a velcroed on panel for the stomach, since we were originally going to take them to a Halloween parade where I’d likely have to leave him in the car seat, and that would cover the car seat buckles. But that got rained out.

The wings were a lot of fun to make. I drew the pattern for the wings and tail freehand as two separate pieces, then drew the lines on one layer of fleece with my chalk pen, sewed it through two layers of the fleece, and then trimmed up the uneven bits. Then I just stitched them directly to the sleeper. I was able to sew the tail and the center of the wings on with the machine, but I did the wingtips to the arms by hand.

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As for the hat, that was a free pattern that I found here. I ended up leaving the ear bits off after looking up pictures of snowy owls and seeing that their heads were rounder. I also freehanded the eyes, since the ones that came with the hat were a little cartoony looking for this. I’m really pleased with how this outfit turned out, and am actually thinking I may use this outfit as his “coat” for the car this winter, since the fleece is non-bulky enough to use safely with the car seat. (Both of the boys have blankets to keep them a little warmer, too, thanks to their Nana.)

I didn’t have time to make any costumes for myself this year, sadly. Hopefully next year I can manage something, because it’s more fun trick or treating when I have a costume, too!

redemption refashioning

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to comment on my recent post regarding my frustration over sewing through fitting transitions. It’s good to hear that others have dealt with this and come out OK!

I recently finished reading a book about approaching real life issues with the mindset of a gamer. (It’s the geekiest self help book that I’ve ever read, I love it!) One of the major points that stuck with me was the idea of a challenge vs. a threat mindset. In this case, viewing the situation as a fun challenge to take on willingly, rather than as a threat to my ability to continue sewing at all.

In fiction, I love a good redemption story. It’s lovely when a person or situation that appears to be a lost cause turns out to be good after all. What’s been one of the biggest frustrations in my sewing over the last year or so is feeling like I’m wasting my precious me time, and/or perfectly good fabric, in turning out bad-looking/fitting clothes. So I’m starting a new project: as much as is possible, I’m going to see if I can give some of these less-than-stellar garments some tweaks to make the time that I spent crafting them more worthwhile.

IMG_5159I’m kicking off with a project that I hadn’t blogged yet. This started out life as McCall’s 6885. Confession time: I only sewed about half of it. I started out making one for myself, out of a yummy Cotton & Steel lawn, and in a similarly colored flannel for my mom, as a thank you for all that she does to help me with the boys. (Printed with a TARDIS design, because my mom is awesome like that.) But then I got sucked into the more immediate practical need of Hobbit nearly outgrowing his largest diapers and having to finish the batch I’d been procrastinating on finishing. I’d also recently found out that I was pregnant, so Mom kindly finished this dress for me so I could squeeze into it once just before my first trimester ended. (As well as her own shirt. One of these days, I’ll thank her properly!)

IMG_5157I don’t have a great before picture. There was basically no extra room around my hips at all, and the pleat plus the baby bump meant the midsection bagged out horribly above it. Also, the shirttail hem just wasn’t working for me, given how high the slit ran and how tight the hips were. Even with leggings, I was kind of embarrassed to wear it, especially for work. It really didn’t get better after Padawan was born, either. One of the things that it did have going for it was the patch pocket that I added to the front to hold my phone. Even though it’s probably an odd placement for a shirt, I’m glad that I was able to keep it after the tweaks! Because pockets are great and more clothes should have them.

 

I couldn’t bear to waste the fabric, since it felt so nice to wear and sew with. So earlier in the summer, while I was sewing a bunch of navy blue things anyway, I decided to make it wearable. So here’s what I did:

  • Cut off the shirttail part of the hem to give it a straight edge all around.

 

  • Cut a couple of triangles out of those pieces, on the crosswise grain for maximum height.

 

 

  • Opened up the side seams and inserted the triangles.

 

 

  • Re-hemmed it to a nice tunic length.

 

 

IMG_5162And it looks sooooooo much better now! I tried to show the insets on this picture, but they’re really hard to see due to the random nature of the print. (Which, honestly, is probably a good thing!) It is a little bit of a closet orphan at the moment, because I can pretty much only wear it with jeans (something I do try to avoid when teaching, when I can — I’ve had to relax that rule since the kids came along), or one denim skirt that fits, but is awfully short now that my thicker waist makes it sit higher than it used to. I’ve paired it with the Jalie pants from the last post, since I had teaching today, though the baggier pants with a tunic top is not my favorite look. If I can ever find the right fabric, I think this would actually look amazing with some seafoam/ light teal pants. Maybe the Style Arc Elle, if I work up the courage to test that pattern. (Bonus: I have a cardigan from the Anthropologie clearance rack that would also go great with that color pants!)

Semi- orphan status aside, I have been pleased with this salvage job. After all, fabric of this higher quality is not allowed to be a wadder. What would you pair this with, if you were planning future fabric hunting/ wardrobe planning?

I volunteer as tribute!

Did you see that the Sewcialists blog is up and running again? Hurrah! I was happy to see that the first challenge of the reboot was one that I could easily participate in, since I’ve been missing out on The Monthly Stitch left and right. This actually wasn’t my original idea, I had a plan to make a skirt, but it involved some pattern hacking and using uncertain fabric amounts. (I was going to use some leftovers, but I still need to fix a pair of leggings that I made back in January or so first, so I’m not sure how much fabric I actually have left.) But it’s ok, because I accidentally stumbled into another tribute!

I’m sure you all know and love Gillian, from Crafting a Rainbow. She really does have one of the most inspiring blogs out there, IMO, between her talent for getting really good sewing conversations going in her posts, and the fun challenges she’s put out there over the years. Like the sewing dares– I haven’t forgotten about the two that I’d gotten on the last round, by the way– and the Better Pictures Project. And, well, I may have blatantly copied one of her recent pieces, right down to the fabric. But, to be fair, she’s the one who suggested the pattern to me in the first place! And since she’s the one who got the Sewcialists rolling again, it’s only fitting to do the tribute to her.

IMG_5132 That’s right, I made the Jalie Vanessa pants. In the same tencel denim from Cali Fabrics. One of my biggest wardrobe holes right now is pants, since pretty much every pair I’d ever made or bought stopped fitting about five trimesters ago (may you rest in peace, oh pile of Thurlow pants in my refashion bin). And since I don’t want to teach my flute lessons in yoga pants– or, really, be the yoga pants mom at all, unless I’m actually exercising — I definitely needed some options. I was a little skeptical about the jogger pants idea, since I never really liked the look of sweatpants. And the elastic cuffs that were one of the options just remind me of growing up in the 80’s. (This is not a good thing, since I’ve never been a fan of that particular fashion decade. Needless to say, I went for the straight hem.) But I think these actually turned out okay.

IMG_5136 Besides, they have functional pockets, and that’s more than I can say for pretty much every pair of jeans or shorts that I managed to scrounge up at the thrift store.

I’m still not exactly sure what to wear them with, since the more relaxed fit means that looser tops are pretty much out. Ideally, I would have made a top to go with this as part of the outfit challenge, probably something from Cashmerette since that’s one of Gillian’s favorites. But you all know how slow I am at assembling anything these days, so I just pulled out one of my most colorful tops in a palette that seems to most closely fit Gillian’s. (My first Kirsten Kimono tee, even though it’s still overly snug on me.)

IMG_5140The walking out outtake actually was one of the better pictures! So styling questions aside, I will say that these pants are super-comfortable to wear. A big part of this was the fabric, I think. The tencel denim is really soft, and even though it developed an odd fuzzy look after the first wash, I haven’t had issues with the dye bleeding into my other stuff yet. I’m trying to figure out what might be some good options for a potential second pair sometime, since I feel like the challis it calls for would be too lightweight. Linen, maybe?

I was quite happy with this first Cali Fabrics order– I got this and a second piece of fabric that got turned into a scarf pretty quickly. I seriously doubt it will be my last order from them. (Just the last one this year, since Doug and I made a deal– I wouldn’t buy any more fabric this year if he stops buying Coke. The sacrifices one makes for love. )

Anyway, I’m happy to get to take part in this community again, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the next challenge is!

the post-baby wardrobe blues

Warning: slightly ranting, rather candid post ahead. This was originally going to be a post about a shirt that I finished about a month ago, though I just got around to photographing it this past weekend. Though, really, I don’t know what to say about it, because once again, the results just aren’t what I wanted them to be.

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The concept was good. I took my Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, and the concept from a nursing top that Heather kindly sent me back during my first pregnancy, to attempt to make a boring, basic black tee. Because I somehow didn’t have one, and given my love for bold print skirts, this was a serious hole in my wardrobe. So I used the front band and the instructions from my Peekaboo Patterns nursing camisoles as a guideline. As you can see, it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped.

I know exactly why. It was a combination of the pattern size being wrong (measuring for my nursing chest size is failing me at every turn lately) and the rayon knit being too drapey to have what turns out to be the necessary recovery for a shirt with two holes in the front. It’s already sagging to just below the covering band, despite the fold over elastic I put there in an attempt to keep it snug to my body, and I think I may have to sew the front completely closed in order to keep this wearable. Which defeats the entire purpose of a nursing shirt. At least the skirt turned out ok, even though all I did was buy it at the thrift shop and shorten it a few inches. The waistband was up to my ribs before–an odd feeling, since I’m not short!

IMG_5145 My apologies if this is sounding like a downer. But the truth is, I’m frustrated, and I’ve been getting increasingly so for awhile. Looking at these pictures, you can tell that I don’t feel great about what I’m wearing. Honestly, I haven’t felt great about almost everything I’ve made for awhile now. I was thinking about it today, and for the entire past 12ish months, I really only have two projects, that weren’t super-simple basics, where I feel like they look decent on me and really suit my style. I showed a picture on Instagram of one of my currently in-progress projects that’s also turning out to be less than I’d hoped, and a (kindly meant and worded in a constructively critical way) comment that I might be better off just cutting a different shirt entirely out of the fabric and starting over nearly sent me off crying. I feel like I just don’t know how to sew for myself anymore, and given that I’ve been sewing mostly clothes for coming up on 30 years now, that thought is horribly depressing.

It’s a hard place to be, sewing for the in-between. I recall having issues after my first pregnancy, and having a few misses on trying to sew for nursing-friendly and more changeable sizes than I was used to, but I think it’s actually hitting me much harder this second time around. I wasn’t expecting to have two kids less than two years apart. And while I wouldn’t trade Padawan in, he really is a sweet and happy baby most of the time, having two pregnancies this close together has really done a number on my body. I’m actually in physical therapy right now, because my hips got completely out of alignment between the two pregnancies and it was starting to make just normal, everyday walking painful. I also started this pregnancy at a higher weight than my first, since I only had something like a month between finishing up with nursing and getting pregnant again, and didn’t have a chance to drop those last few pounds. Long story short, I feel like I’m sewing for someone else’s body now, and I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. My older clothes are still too small, trying to sew looser/more forgiving silhouettes are resulting in things turning out too big, and I’m not even sure what looks good with all of these extra lumps and bumps that I have now. I just feel frumpy pretty much all the time. And of course I’m complicating things further by breastfeeding.

I can’t give up sewing, it’s too much a part of me. But I am seriously beginning to wonder if I should just step back from clothes for now, and focus on stuff like the boys’ Halloween costumes that I’m working on/all of the boring-but-necessary sewing that I’ve been procrastinating on (oh, hi, bedroom curtains that shrank shorter than your lining two years ago). I’ve never had a sewing slump like this one before, where I consistently have far more misses than hits. It’s demoralizing, especially when it’s been such a struggle to get sewing time to begin with. And until I’m 100% sure that I’m done with having babies and massive weight shifts, I don’t know what to do about it.

Ease into Motherhood

I’ve been seeing posts pop up on Seamstress Erin‘s new series, Ease Into Motherhood, all over my feed for the last couple of weeks. Since this has been my life for two years now (how is Hobbit 2?!?), I thought I’d add my voice to the conversation.

I’ve found that motherhood is pretty much all-consuming, most of the time. At least, for me. As I’m sitting down to type this, I have the baby strapped to my front in the carrier and crying while I rock back and forth to try and calm him to sleep, and I’m having to stop every 30 seconds to keep the toddler from getting into something that he shouldn’t be. Most of the time, my time is not my own. I’ve had to rethink how I do everything, from my job to my hobbies to even the most basic necessities like food and sleep. And I’ll be honest, sometimes it feels like my body isn’t my own anymore either. Except for about two months last summer, I’ve either been pregnant or nursing for close to 3 years straight now.

Now that I’m past that “fourth trimester” (how is Padawan 3 months already?!?), I’m finding that in some ways, life with two kids is easier, and in some ways it’s much harder. It’s easier, because so far, the baby is sleeping longer and easier than his older brother ever did (thank God, because that was a rough 18 months!), and will actually let me put him down for 5 minutes so I can do things like empty the dishwasher or go to the bathroom. I’m also not freaking out every five minutes about how to best care for him, since I’ve been through this before. On the flip side, now that I also have a toddler, there’s the added pressure of trying to keep him from base jumping off of every piece of furniture in the house/still sticking things in his mouth that he shouldn’t be/actually having to start disciplining him when he’s not listening/etc. Plus the guilt that he, or especially the baby, may not be getting the one-on-one attention that he should be.

The impact this has had on my sewing has been especially noticeable this time, since I had to downsize my creative space from an entire room to one wall of our walk in closet, with most of my supplies stored out of sight in a closet two stories down. I ended up doing a pretty serious purge of my fabrics and yarns, along with some drastic cuts to supplies for other crafty hobbies. I now do most of my pattern tracing and cutting out at my parents’ house, since my mom has a space big enough to do it and our kitchen table is basically changing pad central now. (Thanks, Mom, you’re the best!)

My body is so different now from what it was pre-kids. I think that’s been the biggest adjustment for me, at least for sewing. I was so spoiled before, with a pretty steady weight and being able to figure out quick cheater ways to adjust my patterns and all. But 2 babies and being closer to 40 than 30 later, I’m still trying to figure out what “normal” is for me now. I may not know for awhile, since I’m still nursing and trying to lose some baby weight–much harder this time, especially since my hips got all out of whack over the course of these two pregnancies. (I actually just started physical therapy for that, so hopefully the problems will get fixed.) Plus there’s the question of whether we want to try for one more child or not. Normal might be a long way off.

I’ve been having to seriously rethink my style over this last year. And a lot of the things I want to sew have had to go on the back burner. (I’m looking at you, Ginger jeans.) What I thought was flattering on me before just isn’t anymore, with my new thicker waist and mom belly. I’m finding myself considering patterns that I never would have before, like things with elastic waists that are more forgiving for my constantly shifting weight. I’m having to learn to think of my sewing as every little step counts, rather than the hours at a time that I used to be able to do. I have to really prioritize my projects in a way that I didn’t have to before. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing–after all, even though my maternity clothes have taught me that I get really bored with a small, minimalistic wardrobe, a more carefully considered wardrobe means that I’ll get more use out of the things I do make. And, as slow as I am these days, I’ll never run out of things to sew! Which is probably good, because so much of my life seems to be things that never get done (including my small bit of work outside the home, because there’s always another lesson to teach, or more practicing or rehearsing to do), that it’s nice to actually be able to look at something at the end of the project and know that it’s done, ready to just be enjoyed, and be able to pick up and start something new.

Also, I’ve learned that making things for kids can be very rewarding too. I’m not planning to make entire handmade wardrobes for either boy. We were given way more baby clothes than one kid ever needs, and I’m actually relieved that my older son has gotten to a size where I feel like I can actually justify making the occasional shirt because we don’t have 50 of them already. But it’s been fun to make the occasional toy, and Halloween costumes! Plus, even though decent boy patterns are much harder to find, the results can be pretty adorable. I mean, look at these two.

 

I’ll be honest… sometimes I wish that sewing was a bigger part of my life still. But at moments like this, where the baby just woke up crying in the carrier again and the toddler just came over with one of his two favorite stuffed animals to try and cheer his little brother up, it’s much easier to remember that this is just my current season, more time to sew will come again, and I need to take advantage of these moments while my boys are little.

Just call me Goldilocks

I’m going to do a little time traveling today. Not too far back, just to May. I was able to get back to sewing surprisingly fast after this baby, and managed to knock out three projects within the first six weeks of bringing him home. Unfortunately for me, the results have been less than stellar. But I do like to keep it real around here, and not every project is a success, so I’ll share them anyway. Hopefully the photos are OK, but the phone photos that I had to resort to are better than none, right?

20170703_141316My first project after Padawan was born was to knock out two pairs of shorts from Simplicity 1367. Shorts are legitimately the big hole in my wardrobe– I don’t particularly enjoy wearing them because I’ve never been all that confident about how I look in them, but skirts aren’t  always practical for life with young kids, and our summer is way too hot and humid for jeans. And I only had one pair of shorts to get me through the entire summer. I thought this pattern would be good for post-baby wear and (hopeful) weight loss because of the knit yoga-style waistband. Theoretically, I still think that. The problem is that I cut them out while I was still pregnant, and either I remembered my measurements from after the first pregnancy wrong, or I underestimated what size I might need, considering that I started this time with a few pounds more. They’re too small. I recently checked my measurements to cut a different project, and I probably should have gone two sizes bigger, though I made the largest size for the envelope that I had.

Matcha and shortsThey fit enough to be wearable, barely, but they fit me like maternity jeans after the halfway mark or so–the woven part rides too low in the back, and the knit panel is necessary to cover the rest. It feels awkward. It looks awkward too, if this backside shot is any indication. I’m hoping that as I lose some of this baby weight, that they might work better. (Assuming that I can, because I’ve been trying to up my exercise and drink more water and stuff steadily for two whole months, my best streak of consistency in my life, and guess how much weight I’ve lost? NONE. I’m so upset at this.) In the meantime, I bought a second pair at the thrift shop on a $2 sale day. (Along with jeans, because I needed those too.)

Some other details: the solid pair is made from nonstretch lightweight denim and an interlock knit, and the print is a rayon-blend twill that I got in an online fabric swap several years ago, plus a rayon jersey. The rayon jersey, which I bought second after deciding to also make the denim pair, works much better for the waistband. Or it would, if the print pair fit. The interlock is thicker, and I actually basted a fisheye dart in back to keep it from gaping away from me, but once I figured out that the shorts were going to be too small, I decreased the seam allowance on the denim pair, so it works a little better to squeeze them on. IMG_20170428_105621I did add patch pockets to the front of each pair with the intention of holding my phone when I’m dealing with the boys. It’s hard to squeeze it in since the shorts are tight right now, but it helps me tell the front from the back. It would definitely need a tag or something otherwise. I also added several inches to the length, I think around 6″, because the idea of my thighs in short shorts is uncomfortable. That’s exactly why I prefer wearing skirts in summer, I can cover more of my legs without looking frumpy. Anyway. Did I mention that the lining on the denim pockets are geeky fun? My mom let me raid her quilt cotton scraps, since I pretty much do all my cutting out at her place while she gets grandson time, and this piece was from Spoonflower.

Matcha and shortsNext up, I made the Matcha top from Sew Liberated. It popped up on my Instagram feed as a breastfeeding friendly shirt, so in a highly unusual move for me, I bought a brand new pattern and sewed it nearly right away. I should have made a test version. But stupid me, I decided to dive right into the Cotton & Steel challis that my mom gifted me with in lieu of hospital flowers. (Note to my husband, if you ever read this: I will never complain about you buying me fabric instead of flowers that will be dead in a week.) I rounded up on the size to go with my current bust measurement, but the pattern didn’t mention any finished garment measurements. (My one criticism of the pattern, since this company is new to me.) It was huge. What I probably should have done, once I realized this, was unpick what I’d sewn up to that point, retraced the pattern in a smaller size, and recut from what I had. But since I was in the middle of Doug watching the boys so I could sew and I have nowhere good to cut at home for now, I just started tweaking what I had. A lot. So I took in the side seam in the back, took a tuck under the back of the shoulder detail, turned the back into a large box pleat (okay, so that one was a  case of not reading ahead to see that it was supposed to be gathered), shifted the collar down about 2.5″ in the front, and so on.

Matcha and shorts The result is a pretty close approximation of the pattern, thankfully, and it’s very comfortable on our summer days with 3000% humidity. I couldn’t let this lovely fabric be a failure, because it feels so nice (and cool) to wear. Also, Alice in Wonderland print. This makes my literary geeky heart so happy. I actually do like the box pleat in this, too. And the neckline is really unique. There’s a hook and eye that helps hold it closed, and it has worked out very well for nursing so far. I keep thinking I’m going to add another hook and eye so that I don’t have to keep wearing a camisole underneath, but since my new necessary sewing setup means I have to go to the basement, haul a wire shelf out of the closet– most likely while wearing a baby and trying to keep a toddler from grabbing craft supplies and running– dig out the hooks and return everything else, it hasn’t happened yet.Matcha and shorts

Since this experiment gave me no real indication of the fit, I pulled a piece from my stash and cut out the sleeved version for the fall, about two sizes smaller. I haven’t gotten to sewing it yet, so stay tuned.

It’s admittedly frustrating that these three things had so many fit issues, since I have to fight for every scrap of sewing time that I get these days. That’s a large part of why I splurged on the fabric for the Rae skirt from the last post– I just needed something quick and simple that I knew would get good results. I did finish another project recently that seemed to work out, so I’m hoping that means that I’m back to a better streak of sewing. After this run, I could use a few more projects that are just right.

a little safari shirt

The first couple of projects after Padawan was born were rough. Two things that I cut out while still pregnant ended up not really fitting well. Another thing didn’t have finished garment measurements and ended up too big. But since all three involved navy blue thread, I figured this would be a good time to knock out a kid’s project before Hobbit outgrew the amount of fabric, so I could take a break from fitting myself. And since he’s turning 2 today, it seemed like a good day to  share!

20170618_112708So how do you  get a clothing-averse toddler to model? Bribe him with food. (I took these photos on my phone while we were out to lunch for Father’s Day on Sunday. This is about as still as Hobbit gets while awake! I’m just glad he kept the shirt on for these pictures, honestly. He’s begging for them to come off every chance he gets these days.)

This is the “Be Cool” tee from the Spring 2015 issue of Ottobre. Obviously, without the extra time of adding the applique. I’m on the hunt for a good, basic tee pattern that I can use as the boys get older, but I’m not convinced that this one is it.

20170618_113635 The pro: It was super-easy to make, especially now that I have a coverstitch machine. I was able to knock this one out in about 3 sewing sessions, which is really good for me these days. (My sewing sessions don’t even last 10 minutes sometimes, since I’m at the mercy of that lovely little Venn diagram of that time when both boys are napping.)

The con: Apparently I’m that stereotypical dumb American who can’t work the metric system. I had a printout that converted the centimeters to inches, specifically for their size chart. But either I measured something wrong, or my sleep-deprived brain read something wrong on the chart, because this thing ended up huge. It doesn’t look it here, because I learned from my mistake on a shirt that I haven’t managed to blog yet (ha!) and recut this down to size when I realized it was going to be ridiculously big on him.

20170618_113237 He’s currently right on that edge of outgrowing 24 month clothes/2T, so I figured I’d make this shirt about a 3T so he’ll get more use out of it before it gets passed down to his little brother. After initially cutting out a size 104 on the toddler chart– what I believed was one size up from his measurements– I compared it to a hand-me-down 3T shirt we were given and ended up cutting it down to the size 92. As you can see, the shoulders are still way too wide for him, with that shoulder seam falling a couple inches too low on his arm.

20170618_114857That being said, the length of the shirt overall is pretty good. He’s got his arms raised up here, and the waistband is still covered. So I don’t know if Hobbit is just skinny and tall for his age, or what?

The fabric is a knit of unknown origin, that my parents gave me for Christmas 2015 to make a shirt for him. Hobbit has been on an animal kick for awhile, and definitely recognized several of the animals on here, even if he still names them by the noise they make rather than what they’re actually called. I didn’t need to worry about him outgrowing my yardage, as it turns out, because I easily have enough of this left to cut the main parts of a raglan tee in a larger size. I thought about making something matching for Padawan, but we just have soooooo many baby clothes that I’d rather use my limited time to cover the larger sizes where we actually need things. At least, until he’s old enough to get jealous, if he even cares about getting new clothes vs. hand-me-downs.

As for the ribbing, I harvested it off of one of my tees after I realized that the navy blue ribbing I bought looks really purple next to the background of this fabric. Sadly, several of my favorite geeky tees are just too short/tight after two pregnancies this close together. So my plan is to recycle those into something useful so I can keep the graphics (eventually), and in the meantime, I got a much nicer contrast ribbing for free.

So my quest for the perfect basic boys’ tee pattern continues. I do have another one to try out, so stay tuned…