A Fine Feathered Visby

My first 2020 project is in the books! This is the Visby Henley from Itch to Stitch. I’m hoping to start doing better at utilizing my Pattern Review account this year, so here’s my official review:

Pattern Description:
From the website: “The Visby Henley & Top will become your favorite wardrobe staple. Wear this long sleeve pullover by itself on a warm day, or as a base layer underneath a snuggly sweater on a cool night. The Visby comes as a classic henley, but you also have the option to add a hood or skip the buttoned placket altogether. You also have the choice to add a bottom band!”

Pattern Sizing: 0-20. I made a 14, graded to 16 in the hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes! The biggest struggle I had was with the placket, as the length ended up being over an inch off from where the slit was cut to. But that easily could have been user error rather than a drafting error, as having a baby around means I’m rather tired all the time.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I like: The length of the shirt is great, especially for not riding up too far when I’m having to get down on the floor. The cuffs are a stylish touch, and overall, the shirt is very comfortable. As mentioned, I did have a small struggle with the placket, but since this shirt also has a plain front and a hoodie view, I don’t think that’s enough to stop making this one.

Fabric Used: Two fairly heavy cotton jerseys. I’m fairly certain the bird one is Art Gallery.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: As mentioned, I did grade the hips out one size, and I also lengthened the arms about 1″ (a standard change for me). I also sewed the buttons on non-functionally, because once I realized that the placket wouldn’t look right if I made it deep enough to be nursing friendly, I didn’t want to bother sewing buttonholes into jersey.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, and yes.

Conclusion: A nice wardrobe builder tee, with lots of potential for fun fabric mixing.

Now for a few unofficial thoughts:

  • I really do think I’d make this again, as I like the raglan style and don’t have much else in my wardrobe that fits that for a tee. But whenever I do get around to making a second one, I think I may size down in the bust and sleeves. I guessed at my sizing based on previous nursing-era measurements while I was cutting this out, since I was still pregnant at the time, and I do feel like it’s a little too baggy up top.
  • I know there’s a giant swayback puddling in the back, but that’s just my figure, and it’s not something that bothers me so much that I’m going to do a lot of fiddling with darts in a knit tee.
  • The disapproving-looking owl right there near the back makes me happy.
  • I really need to work on my model poses, don’t I? I actually had someone to take the pictures this time (my husband), and he was just snapping at random while I didn’t know when the pictures were being taken. Thus the “staring epically into the distance” pose, since it was honestly the best one.

2019, wrapped

Now that I have completed my first project of 2020, I realized that I have several things I never actually blogged from the end of last year. So even though I’m still mostly limited to phone photos, I’ll go ahead and get caught up on that.

20191209_120440First up: the Harper Cardigan from Sinclair Patterns. This one was a rather spontaneous make. Those of you who listen to the Love to Sew podcast regularly probably remember when Helen and Caroline suggested adding hashtags with your city/state/whatever sews in order to make some local sewing friends. Well, I did do that for my state with a couple of Instagram posts shortly after, but for a long time, no one actually ever used it but me. So I stopped. And then, well over a year later, I suddenly got a comment on one of those posts letting me know that there was actually a Facebook group for local sewists in my state! Which I joined immediately, and then also convinced my mom to join, lol. Shortly after, some people in the group thought it would be fun to do a virtual sewalong, and after some discussion, we chose this pattern. It’s a free one, so easily accessible. What drew me to it was the duster length, as I do like the drama of a long cardigan, and this one is still fairly practical with the kiddos since it’s not down to my ankles or anything.

I used one of the fabrics that I picked up years ago on my Paris trip, as it is a rather sheer knit and therefore inappropriate for any shirt or dress type projects. It may have been a tad too lightweight for this particular pattern, but it works ok. This also ended up being a quick sew, which is good. My main issue with it was the split hem, as I wanted to use my coverstitch and it doesn’t navigate the pivots very well. I’ll have to see if I can find some tricks for that. Either way, I’m happy to finally have this out of the stash and in my wardrobe! Overall, I don’t think this will replace the Blackwood Cardigan as my go-to, even though I’ve also only made one Blackwood to date, but it was a fun alternative. I did get a length of sweater knit for Christmas that I’m considering turning into a second one of these at some point, since I already did cut two more Blackwoods out from the rest of the haul!

20191221_194428The project that ended up taking most of my December sewing time was these 4 skirts. A friend at church asked me if I’d make some skirts for her two daughters and two nieces from some Ankara that she’d picked up during a trip to Africa during the summer. (She also offered immediately to pay, which was nice!) I’d never had an opportunity to sew with wax print, so that made it more exciting for me. The pattern is the skirt portion of the Ainsley dress, by Made For Mermaids. It’s a straightforward pattern, though I had a few hiccups– mostly in the form of not quite having enough length to finish cutting the skirts for the two older girls. My friend was very understanding and accommodating, so I just used a similar weight black woven in my stash to make up the extra length, and finished this shortly before Christmas. It looks like a cute pattern, and I can see myself using this again in a few years when my daughter can fit into it.

20191225_060448Speaking of my daughter, my last project of the year was for her first Christmas. Back when I first started planning those wolf sweatshirts, my older boy suggested that I should also make something reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood for her. Then I spotted the red crushed velvet at Joann’s, and decided to go for it. The pattern is the same Ottobre hoodie pattern that I used for her a few months ago, with a few tweaks. After several weeks of trying to sort out how to handle the edges, since I was concerned that the fold-over elastic treatment that the original pattern used would make the velvet look cheap, I decided to just add some extra hem allowance and coverstitch those edges instead. I also scooped out the front neckline a bit more and eliminated the front zipper, both for time and for not having to deal with those edges.

In retrospect, I think I probably should have sized up a little more– I made this just one size larger than the original, since that one still fits her– but I suspect this one isn’t going to fit her for long. But it was a very cute, casually fancy first Christmas outfit for her. I’m considering keeping this one and cutting it down some, because I still have the American Girl doll that I saved up for as a kid, but only one outfit for her.  It’s obviously too early to say if she’s going to be into dolls at all, but if she is, I don’t mind the idea of recycling some of these things into some new doll outfits for her to play with.  (Now that I have a daughter, I’m kind of kicking myself for not keeping the things my mom made back in the day from the official AG sewing patterns to beef up her wardrobe, but I’ve since learned that someone shared the original sewing patterns as free pdf downloads. So I can reconstruct the historic-based outfits, too!)

A decade in review

I was catching up on some blogs, and saw a post from Doctor T Designs where she did a retrospective on her best projects from the last decade. Since I’ve been writing about my sewing for well over that, I thought it might be fun to do the same thing. Fortunately, I’ve long been a fan of the year end review, so finding my favorites from each year was easy! So let’s hop into the TARDIS and do a little time traveling to see the best 10 projects of the 2010s, shall we?

Burdastyle 5/2009, #110

2010: This was basically the Golden Age of my crafting life. I was single and working multiple jobs, but I spent a lot of my free time making stuff. So I was working a lot on improving my sewing technique. I was making jewelry. I was dabbling in screenprinting, and doing paper scrapbooks. I was also subscribed to BurdaStyle at the time, and as someone who grew up sewing the Big 4 almost exclusively, this was my stepping stone into the world of indie patterns. I was so proud of how this blouse turned out, and wore it often. It’s no longer in my wardrobe, as it was too fitted for all of the body changes that this decade brought me. Maybe I should see if the pattern is anywhere near my current size and give this one a reboot!

A multi-Burda hack job

2011: It looks like this was a year that I was really into experimenting. While trying to find the pattern for this pair of pants (which turned out to be 3 patterns), I came across a bunch of refashions. I seemed to have been rather into knitting that year, too, and finished my first sweater. As for these pants, they were directly inspired by a pair I’d seen from Anthropologie, which was a favorite inspiration source at the time. On a personal note, this was also the year that I met and started dating Doug, though not till the end of the year!

My first jeans!

2012. This was the year that I got engaged. This was also the year that I made my first successful pair of real jeans! They weren’t perfect, and haven’t fit since about 2015, but they were a great learning experience. I’d love to take on a project like this again.

The biggest sewing project of my life!

2013, and picking the project for this year was a no brainer! The first half of this year was almost exclusively focused on wedding planning and crafting. Including this little number, loaded with couture techniques and yards upon yards of fabric. I can’t imagine how much of that I would have needed if I’d done a train!

Vogue peacoat

2014 was a tough year to choose a favorite! I was sewing a lot of Sewaholic at the time, including multiple pairs of Thurlow pants (another pattern that I need to revisit). But in the end, I picked my heavy, nonwool winter coat. It’s still going strong 6 years later, and I cannot believe it’s been that long since I made it!

Maternity, or not maternity?

2015 was a game changer for me, for both life and sewing, as it was the year that my older son was born. So I did a lot of pattern hacking for maternity clothes, as most designers I knew of then didn’t start putting out maternity patterns until after. That includes this altered Simplicity pattern, which I still wear frequently as a non maternity skirt as well.

Cashmerette Appleton dress

2016 is currently kind of a blur in my head, between the toddler who refused to sleep through the night until the end of that year and ending up pregnant again more quickly than I’d expected! But I did have time to make a few things, including this hacked sleeve Appleton dress. I was pleased that it ended up how I’d pictured it in my head. This one is also still in my closet, though it’s definitely in need of some layering with the nursing factor!

Jalie Vanessa pants

2017: the year my second son was born, which meant a big learning curve in adjusting to being a mom to multiple kids! My best of the year for this one is a little surprising, as I was on the fence about whether the Vanessa pants were a win or fail in my top 5 roundup. But they’ve turned out to be versatile, at least for the warmer months, and I actually have fabric to make a second pair now. (A Deer & Doe Bruyere blouse was a close second.)

McCall’s 7350

2018: another year of trying new things (swimsuits! Pull up jeans! Using a coverstitch machine!) And this was also the year that I remembered that I still like Big 4 patterns as well, though indies dominated my decade. I thought about choosing the swimsuit, but this McCall’s maxidress was honestly my favorite project of the year. I’ve realized that since the kids were born, I’ve been very focused on practical clothing needs and learning how to fit all of the newer curves through multiple major body shifts. This project was simply for fun and because I liked it. I think I needed that. Though, on a practical note, this dress did work well for a few maternity wearings and is very nursing friendly, so it’ll get even better use this summer!

Grainline Archer

Which brings me to this year, and another one dominated by adding a baby to our family. Though I recently stated that the Pony Tank was my best pattern this year, I think the Archer was the winner in terms of stretching my sewing, especially after being necessarily knits focused for awhile.

So there you have it! 10 years, 10 projects. What was your favorite project or projects of the decade?

Sewing top 5: The Best-Laid Plans

Once upon a time, I had sewing goals for 2019. (And a knitting goal.) But then I found out that I was pregnant last New Year’s Eve, and my goals didn’t happen. The end.

via GIPHY

Ok, not quite, but that certainly threw a wrench in my plans! Just to review, here’s what they were:

  1. Leave room for frosting. Yeah, this year has been all about necessities. Especially since I had virtually nothing to wear for my entire summer third trimester, until one of my cousins generously donated her unneeded maternity clothes.
  2. Work on the “Mom Wardrobe”. I guess this happened in some way, it just happened to be mostly maternity mom!
  3. Get creative with some #sewingleftovers. I guess I’m good on this one now, until my daughter has her own fashion opinions…
  4. Work on my styling. Totally didn’t happen, since the first 3/4 of the year was “anything that fits”, and right now it’s “anything warm with nursing access.”
  5. Finish up my Gnarled Oak cardigan for real this time. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… yeah. Haven’t touched that one in months.

So now that that’s out of the way, the upside to having all of my plans thrown out the proverbial window is that I’ve had plenty of time to consider what might be realistic goals for 2020. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Embrace the slow and steady. Besides living up to my blog’s music-inspired title, it just makes sense for now. Big chunks of sewing time don’t happen often for me in this life stage. Even the “Sew in 30” tag that I’ve seen about Instagram is often more than I can manage. So what I’ve been trying to do throughout the fall, and would like to carry into the new year, is aiming for a more consistent sewing practice. I know I can’t do daily, since I have some weekly evening rehearsals and sometimes the kids just don’t let it happen. But even only 10-15 minutes a few times a week add up.
  2. Attack the refashion/scrap bins. I’ve missed refashioning, and I have a few obvious candidates to tackle — the vest that died in the wash, de-maternifying the shorts I made last year since the alternate waistbands are already cut and waiting– but I also have a bin of clothes to recycle that’s been largely untouched for a few years. I also have some rather largeish scraps that have been lingering in two other bins. It’s time to start paring that down and either get these textiles into my wardrobe (or possibly baby girl’s), or get them out of my house to make room for new things.
  3. Bust some stash. As you may recall, I got a LOT of fabric for Christmas last year. Like 73 yards of it. And while several of the things I made were from that haul, since I thankfully had the foresight to look at some patterns that would work with the thought that I might end up pregnant, a lot more of it than I planned went untouched. I’m not going to say I won’t buy anything, since I’m sure I’ll need buttons and thread and such, but I do want to focus more on using up what I already have instead of buying more.
  4. Have a plan, but hold it loosely. The #makenine feels a little restrictive for me at this point, especially since I have certain limits in place already (hellooooo, nursing wardrobe!) I like the other idea I’ve seen of the Seasonal Sew 3, and I think I’m going to aim more for that. But at this point, I think I’m going to play it like choose 2 projects at the beginning of a season, possibly one simple and one more involved, and then add a third depending on how my sewing time runs. I do know I have two projects with a deadline (a nursing-friendly dress for a family wedding, and the hopefully wearable muslin blouse I need to make first), so I’ll have to factor that in for probably the late winter into the early spring to make sure that gets done on time.
  5. I’m carrying this one over from this past year: Work on my styling. Because I really didn’t have a chance to do that in 2019. I still feel like this is going to be a struggle for awhile, because I’m having a really hard time lately putting outfits together with the hodgepodge of nursing-friendly-enough/seasonally appropriate things in my closet. I’ve mostly been wearing jeans and the same 3 plaid shirts, and then wracking my brains every Sunday morning for something a little nicer that I can still nurse in, particularly on the Sundays that I’m up front with my flute. But since it’s easier to factor in nursing for clothes with wardrobe longevity than with maternity, I’m hoping that I can start making some intelligent choices to fill in the gaps, and finally get some of that wardrobe cohesion that I’ve been dreaming about for a long time. (You know, as long as I can still bust stash. And keep my prints.)

And maybe, just maaaaaaaaaaaaybe, I’ll finish that sweater sometime in the next decade.

via GIPHY

2019 top 5: Highlights

To continue this year’s top 5 series. I think that I’m going to skip reflections this time, since so much of my sewing was dictated by my pregnancy and I can’t really make any commentary about what it says about my style or anything. But I can talk about the non-sewing highlights. So here goes…

  1. 20191208_072253The baby, obviously. 2019 was all about the baby. This pregnancy was the most challenging of the 3 for me, since it combined the 9 months of near- constant nausea from my first with the breathing problems from my second (the problem was apparently all in my deep diaphragm-breathing flutist’s head, but that didn’t make me feel any less constantly out of breath), with the added challenge of 2 active little boys to care for. I spent most of the summer particularly feeling like a miserable lump, and had to go back to physical therapy for my previous pregnancy hip injury because it flared up again during my third trimester. But the actual labor felt rather empowering to me this time, since I was able to handle both calmly walking myself into the maternity ward while in full labor (9.5 cm dialated! Doug was parking the car, since things moved faster than anticipated again), and pushing her out without panicking about no time for the epidural. Our plan is for this to be the last baby, because I don’t think that I can physically or mentally handle another pregnancy. But this sweet little girl was worth every moment of it. (This is her modeling the Petal Dress that I made from all of the corduroy vest leftovers.)
  2. 20191205_090605School days. Can you believe that my oldest is preschool age? We decided to homeschool this year for many reasons, though a huge factor was the timing of little sister arriving right at the beginning of the school year. We didn’t think that our often sensitive boy would respond well to the combination of a new sibling plus suddenly being sent away from us for hours at a time. And the thought of dealing with an imposed outside schedule plus a newborn and toddler made me really stressed out! So far, it’s been working out well for us. We did sign him up for a once a week homeschool class to give him some social time, which he loves. And we’ve been working through the alphabet and some basic math, which we did already do once, but mostly just through reading books because that was all I could handle while sick. He had picked up on counting well before, and is starting to grasp the concepts of addition and subtraction now. And he’s recently expressed interest in learning to read, since he’s picked up a few words. (Mostly his name, and “poop”, from one of his dinosaur books. Yes, he is definitely fitting the 4 year old boy stereotype here.) And I’ve been including his little brother wherever I can, which I think he’s enjoying. This picture is a recent one from learning what 100 looks like.
  3. The 100 Days Project. Speaking of 100… Even when I was feeling too sick to sew, I still needed a creative outlet! If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I’ve done scrapbooking steadily since I was a teenager, and last year, I started dabbling with doing it digitally. It’s been working out great for me, especially as something where all I needed to physically do was sit upright. So this year, I upgraded to a version of Photoshop that was actually made this decade, and dove in. I couldn’t quite manage doing it on consecutive days, largely due to an illness with a headache that forced me off screens for several days, but I signed up for the 100 Days Project to get some momentum going. And largely thanks to that, I busted through nearly the entire backlog of family photos that needed to be dealt with since getting pregnant with the younger boy, and have managed to stay almost entirely caught up on this year in the meantime! I’m not sure if the link will work unless you have an account with the site, but just in case, all of the 100 Days Project layouts are in an online gallery here, along with all of the other digital layouts I’ve made over the last year or so.
  4. All the books. This was actually a pretty good reading year for me, and I beat my Goodreads goal of 60 books. (Granted, some of this was short easy reader chapter books that I read aloud, like the first few Magic Treehouse books, but I’ll happily count everything that’s longer than a picture book.) A few favorite reads this year: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (one of my favorite authors), The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley, Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, and the first 3 books of The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. (The 4th wasn’t available at my library and is currently out of print while they are reprinting with new cover art, the book I’m linking is currently on preorder for that set, so I’ll have to wait to finish the series.) Can you tell I’m a fiction girl? I’m currently working through a long historic fiction set in Renaissance Italy (Voice of the Falconer, by David Blixt, mostly during overnight feedings), and the next pick for the book club that I’m in (The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates).
  5. Hmmm. I guess for this one, I’ll say family life in general. Doug is being very supportive of my need to get out for breaks, usually of the music rehearsal variety, and is great about getting things done around the house so it’s not all on me. And aside from daily struggles around dinnertime (extremely stubborn picky eaters), and some more recent very physical fighting, the boys are both at a fun age where they can usually play well together and communicate well with me.

So that pretty much sums it up! How was your year?

 

Sewing Top 5(ish): Hits and Misses edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the sewing blogger year! I always enjoy reading through people’s reviews of their year, and having a summary of my own to look back on. Though I may not be able to be quite so literal about the top 5 thing this time. I looked back quickly over my 2019 posts, and I only have 5 for the entire year! Granted, I often shared multiple projects in each post. Still, clearly, this was not my year for either sewing or writing about it. So, since I don’t feel like every project translated clearly into either hits or misses, let’s see how this plays out.

The definite hits:

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1. My MVP (Most Valuable Pattern) of the year award goes to the Chalk & Notch Pony tank. I basically lived in these all summer long, between two that I made for myself and two that my mom made for me out of some of her leftover fabric. The one I’m picturing here, from this fun print featuring many of the British things that I love (tea! Beatles lyrics!) never made it to the blog, though I did share it on my instagram account. I finished it back around the beginning of July, and this picture was from when I was around 7 months pregnant. It’s too cold to take a new one now! I suspect this pattern will have some staying power in my life, since it’s a great breezy tank for our notorious summer humidity. Even when I’m not suffering through it in third trimester misery.

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2. The other project that didn’t make it onto the blog: I finally made a wearable muslin of the Hudson pants, years after that bandwagon left the station. To give them a mini writeup: They’re from stashed ponte, originally tagged for a sewing dare that I never had a chance to complete. (Sorry, Gillian!) I added a wedge to the back rise, lengthened the legs instead of adding the bands to the bottom (I figured that would look better with the clunky, made for men sneakers that my extra wide feet often force me to buy), and I skipped the waistband stitching to make the drawstring channel. My reasoning for the latter is that I’m most likely going to be dropping some weight over the next several months, now that my “fourth trimester” is over, and I wanted less to unpick if I need to adjust the elastic. I need to figure out an easy solution to keep the elastic from rolling in the wash, because basting in some side seams didn’t work, that fell out in the wash. But for comfy mom pants that I don’t have to be embarrassed to run errands in, they’re definitely a win.

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3. The overdue Archer shirt. It was on my to-make list for about 2 years in a row, and then by the time I finished it, I only got to wear it once before I outgrew it! But I’m making up for it now that I’m out of maternity clothes, since it’s one of the only warm nursing-friendly shirts I currently own. Also, it looks great with my RTW gold jeans, which are one of the only 5 pairs of non-Hudson pants that (mostly) fit me right now. (Of course, this is also the picture from when I was pregnant.) Now that I’ve been able to really test the fit, I’m much happier with the tweaks I made to the sleeves and the hips. I do wish it was a couple of inches longer, because I do feel like the proportions are a bit off on me lengthwise, but otherwise, I feel confident in saying this can now be a go-to buttoned shirt pattern for me.

A hit and a miss:

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This picture pretty much sums it up perfectly! The wolf shirt that I recently made was a definite win for my younger boy. He’s worn it regularly since, and was very happy the other day when I hand-stitched the ears so they’d stay up. My older boy, on the other hand, has worn the shirt about twice, and never voluntarily. I finally ended up taking it out of his closet this week, telling him that if he asks me for it on his own, I’ll give it back, but otherwise, I’m setting it aside for when his little brother outgrows his. Sadly, he didn’t put up much of a fight about it.

The misses:

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Aside from the wolf shirts, the vests that I recently made for the boys to go along with their daddy’s were a definite miss. They still haven’t worn them past the approximate 30 seconds during our hiking day. The younger boy may still get a few sewn things from me, but I’m thinking that unless he specifically asks me to make something for him, with the possible exception of a Halloween costume, I’m done sewing for the older boy until further notice. (I really wish I’d figured this out before I’d ordered a themed fabric panel for each of the kids, but at least I’ll have fun sewing up the baby’s. She can’t argue with me about it yet!)

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2. On a similar note, my vest. Between the sizing issues that came from guessing at my size during the third trimester, and the shredded fabric problem, it’s just unwearable. I’ve currently got this hanging in the sewing portion of my closet, partially deconstructed and in need of picking a new lining fabric. I think that next time, I’m going to go for one of the cottons in my stash, because obviously the brocade was a bad choice. But since I have to take it apart anyway, at least I’ll be able to fix the sizing while I’m at it. It’s just a question of how long it’ll take, because I’ve got multiple projects in various stages of work that are currently higher priority to me.

Tied for third: these two refashions that I threw together back in the winter. The thing is, I just haven’t worn them since these pictures. I don’t think it’s a complete lost cause, it’s just that they’re both kind of in the “closet orphan” category right now, due to having surprisingly limited options of what to wear while I’m in the nursing stage. Also, I still want to dye the knitted shrug to better fit in with my wardrobe colors, and need to figure out what color. Maybe teal?

So, maybe it’s all of the hormonal craziness that’s been messing with my head all year long, but I’m kind of struggling with feeling positive about my sewing output this time. I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do for myself during the maternity/immediate postpartum stage, which was a full 3/4 of my year. And it seems like it’s easier to see what didn’t turn out as hoped this time, but it was also a lot more dependent on, say, the whims of children under 5, since I did a lot more sewing for others than usual. So I think this is going to be a good month to regroup, finish up the couple of projects that I currently have going, and start with a fresh slate in the new year.

An Ottobre trio

I’ve had to be very intentional about it, but I’m still managing to find some time to sew! I spent the first month or so after my daughter was born making something for each of the kids, to give my body some time to recover and find a new normal before trying to fit something on it again. Both patterns used were from my tiny stash of Ottobre kids’ magazines.

IMG_7930.JPGFirst up, my daughter got the Wild Cat hooded tunic from the Spring 2015 issue. I made it from some scraps of a hatchi sweater knit that my mom recently used for one of her projects, since I cut this out while still pregnant and it was more readily available than digging through my own scraps! Construction was easy, with the main challenge being the invisible zipper on a bound edge. It was a good opportunity to practice finishing edges with fold over elastic, since I haven’t worked with that often. I made the smallest size for this (92 cm), and this is her wearing it at around 3 weeks old. She’s about 2.5 months old now, and while it fits her much better, I think there’s at least a month left in it now. EDIT TO ADD: I just noticed that I forgot to add the photo! (Thanks, sleep deprivation.) So this is actually her wearing it for her 3 month old photos. I have plans to make this again soon, as my older son declared that she needs a Little Red Riding Hood outfit to go with what I made for them. So I got some crushed red velvet and will probably make the next size up to be her first Christmas outfit. My family is aaaaall casual when it comes to Christmas gatherings. So this over a onesie and leggings will be perfect. I’m thinking I may tweak the front to avoid the zipper, though, since I’ve been struggling with how to finish those edges without making it look cheap.

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I made the boys’ shirts primarily with the younger one in mind. He has had a months-long obsession with stories involving the Big Bad Wolf, and it’s not uncommon to overhear him standing at the bathroom door while his brother is in there, yelling “little pig, little pig, let me in!” So when I saw this “Small Nice Wolf” shirt in the Autumn 2015 issue, I knew it had to happen. I had to purchase new for these, as I don’t have much gray in my stash, and knew the only shot at my oldest wearing it was to make it as soft of a fabric as possible. But I was able to use scraps for the face.

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Construction wasn’t bad, particularly since I took the time to baste the curvier seams before sewing. Good thing, too, since a few pieces got mixed up between the two sizes while they were sitting on my machine, and I initially sewed the smaller side front to the larger wolf face! The one thing I’d change is to secure the 3D ears better, because they tend to flop down during wear.

I think the end result is simply adorable, and Padawan was quite excited about the results! He has worn it several times since. I’ve had a little more trouble getting Hobbit to wear it, despite him asking me several times while I was recovering from having his sister if I’d started making his shirt yet. He has worn it a few times, and gets excited when he gets compliments on it, but getting him to put it on initially can be a struggle. He does like to have things a certain way, and he did admit to me today that it bothers him that the ears flop down when it’s being worn. So I think I’m going to have to go back and hand-tack the ears to the shoulders on both shirts.

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The best shot I was able to get of both of them wearing it. (I asked them to howl, and they enjoyed that part.) I have enough left that I can make them each a pair of pants, but I think I’m going to hold off on that. I’m feeling a little wary of sewing for Hobbit in particular right now, after the limited success of this shirt and what was basically a failure on the matching vests I made for them and their daddy. But I think maybe they’re warming up to my sewing for them again, as they’ve also renewed interest in the animal coats that I made for them last fall. (They still fit, since they were designed to be worn for 2 years, but it’s pretty obvious that neither of them will be able to wear them again next fall.) So we’ll see. I do have some knit panels on order for each of the kids, so I’ll need to decide whether to risk sewing for the boys again, or just make them into pillows or something.

The corduroy that kept on giving

I’m back from another blogging hiatus, though I have good reason for this one. Namely, her.20190910_094227

She was literally born on the USA’s Labor Day, which amused me, as I’d been joking about that outcome all summer. I think this was physically the hardest pregnancy out of the three, but it was the easiest labor (surprisingly, since I didn’t have time for the epidural again, but I was more mentally prepared for that possibility this time!) And it’s also been the easiest recovery. Somehow, I managed to fit back into several of my non maternity pants within the first month, which has never happened before, so I guess everyone who told me the bump looked “all baby” was right. Baby girl is doing well, too.

The projects that I’m sharing today are the last ones that I finished before her arrival. My husband had expressed a wish to have a vest to match the boys’ clothes after my mom made them matching Twig & Tale Trailblazer vests last year. So one of his Christmas gifts this year (from my mom, haha, but with my blessing) was two pieces of fabric to make those vests: a black fine-wale corduroy and a quilt cotton with logos from his favorite hockey team. I meant to sew them up back in February, when the Sewcialists were running their menswear theme month, but I was so sick back then from the pregnancy that I couldn’t manage it. So I spent most of August doing them instead.

After I cut out the three vests, there was actually quite a bit of fabric left, especially the corduroy! So I also cut out a vest for myself, deciding to line it with a brocade that had been in ny stash for ages to glam it up a little. (This was a mistake, but more on that later.) And then I still had fabric left, so I turned to another Twig & Tale pattern, the Petal dress, to use that and more of the hockey fabric to cut out a little dress for the baby. That pretty much finished it off. And as someone who often struggles with having leftover yardage in my stash for years, it felt good to use it all up at once!

20190829_204841Constructing the vests was mostly straightforward, though time consuming, as I did all four vests assembly style. For the guys’, my husband requested no collar, but I left the collar piece on mine. (Also a mistake.) The most difficult thing was handling the zippers. I had a hard time with shortening the separating ones. The first adult-sized one I attempted got ruined, and for my younger son’s, I had to resort to hand-stitching hooks from a hook and eye set at the top to function as a zipper stop. But after that, things moved along pretty quickly, and I managed to get them all done with a little more than a week to spare before my due date. These are the two boys’ vests.

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And then here’s the dress for my daughter. I finished everything except the snaps by Labor Day weekend (my diaper snap stash was at the point where I was one black snap short, so I had to get one from my mom!) She’s too small to model it as of yet, since I was thinking ahead to the winter and made it in a 3-6 month size. The dress is reversible, and Doug is looking forward to having her watch a game with him while wearing it! Or maybe just wearing it out in public to troll the Flyers fans. I think he enjoys that aspect of being a Pittsburgh fan in the Philadelphia sports market. It was also super easy to make, so I don’t think this will be the last one I make for her!

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Back to my vest. It looks nice here, but there were multiple issues with it. The one that I could live with was the sizing — the hazard of guesstimating my size while in the third trimester was that it was a little big overall, especially at the waist.  But since this was a layering piece, that was ok. I also found the collar a bit irritating when zipped up, but that was an easy fix by just leaving it more open and letting the brocade show, like I’m doing here.

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The issue I can’t live with is how it handled going through the wash. I wore it for the second time this past weekend to go hiking at a local state park, and got sweaty enough that I figured I’d better clean it. My husband mostly handles the laundry around here (I procrastinate on it too much for his minimalist ways, he’d run out of clothes), and so I didn’t notice this until last night when I sat down at my serger. The corduroy tore away from the spot in the hem where I’d hand stitched it closed after turning the lining. After taking this picture, I also noticed that the brocade shredded at two spots around the zipper stops, pulled apart between the collar and main body of the lining, and half of each armhole. So now I’m thinking I might have to just completely trash the lining and sew a new one out of some quilt cotton or flannel or something, it’s completely unwearable as is. I guess the upside of that is I can make the waist fit better, since it was roomy enough that I could zip it up over a 9+ pound baby in a wrap carrrier, without the pattern add on that allows for that. And maybe ditch the collar.  Though that means I’d have to shorten that zipper again…

But to end this on a happier note, here’s the outtake of the 30 seconds the boys were willing to wear those on the hike, and my husband being a much more accommodating model.

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A bold, bright Brazi

20190623_154701I recently finished another maternity garment, with an eye towards postpartum and nursing. This is the dress version of the Brazi pattern, by Stitch Upon A Time. And it was definitely not without its challenges! You know, besides the current story of my life that is dealing with pregnancy symptoms that leave me feeling too unwell to sew too often. I actually wrote a pattern review for this one, for the first time in awhile. (I actually had to make myself a new account on there this year, because I could NOT get back onto the site with my old email address!) So this is mostly going to be from that, with a little elaboration.

20190623_154720Pattern Description: A sports bra with options for either a flat front or a crossover front (the latter is a separate add-on pattern), and two length options for a skirt. I made the add-on crossover front, for nursing friendliness, with the maxi skirt. Here’s a better shot of the front. It looks a little collapsed on the side, but the band underneath is pretty much being swallowed by my belly right now. So I think once I’m wearing this postpartum, that should even up. 

Pattern Sizing: Bust size XXS-XXXL (25″-53″), skirt size 1-8 (underbust 23″-47″). I forgot to add this to the review, but I made the size L for the bra and the size 3 skirt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, aside from the baby bump! (Side note, these photos were taken at about 29 weeks pregnant.) Only 10 weeks and 2 days to go until my due date. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t have any trouble with that.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I liked: The instructions were very well laid-out for options like adding bra cups, and what pages to use for finishing the band as a bra vs a dress. What I wish was different: a wider range of cup sizing. I cut the larger pieces that were meant for a D-cup, and it was not enough for me as a DD who’s probably even bigger at the moment due to pregnancy.

Fabric Used: The skirt is an ITY. The top is a 4-way stretch jersey that I’m not entirely sure if it’s not supposed to be swimsuit fabric, but it was all I could find. (I actually ended up using the wrong side on the outside to tone down the shininess.) 

img_20190519_215625.jpgPattern alterations or any design changes you made: I had to make some major changes to the front bodice, because there was not enough coverage on either the crossover or the lower part of the bodice the first time I attempted to make the top. I had to add a curved piece with about 1.5″ to the bottom, and nearly the same along the neckline. (This is pretty much what it ended up looking like, with the washi tape being the divider line between the pattern and what I needed to add. I did end up curving that lower straight line from both corners after I took this picture, though, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the side seams not matching up.  Also, I added pockets in the side seams. (Because POCKETS.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t think I’d sew it as a dress again, but now that I have the fit worked out, I might make it as a nighttime support bra. I’m not convinced it would have enough support to use as a sports bra for myself, for anything higher impact than yoga. As a dress that can work for maternity and beyond, so you get more for your sewing time, I would recommend it.

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So now that the review part is over, here’s the test version of the top.  This was actually supposed to be the dress top, but I had to relegate it to (somewhat) wearable muslin status after discovering that my chest was falling out of all sides of the front as drafted! No pictures, because that was definitely in the category of Not Safe For Work. Or church. Or parenting. Or anything involving going out in public, really! I’d recycled some cups from an old bra where the underwires had fallen out, so I had to unpick those, and then buy new black fabric to start over because I just didn’t have enough. (Side note, 4 way stretch plain black fabric is surprisingly difficult to find! All Joann’s had was some fancy athletic stuff that was something like $28 a yard, yikes, and my usual online fabric haunts didn’t have many options either. But the options they had were still about half the price!) But I did finish the original top off as a nighttime nursing bra, because I’ve had to get through the last 2 babies with just one and I could genuinely use that.

img_20190625_135234Speaking of babies, she got something out of this, too! Though I didn’t have much of the original black fabric left, I got surprised with a little extra on the second piece due to the shop reaching the end of the bolt. So even though we’re getting most of her clothes secondhand from generous friends (plus some new things from excited grandparents), I couldn’t resist whipping out a little 0-3 month skirt to go with some of the more gender-neutral onesies that she’s inheriting from her big brothers. I found this free tutorial from Delia Creates, and made it with the foldover waistband so she can hopefully get some extra use out of it lengthwise. I still have some largish scraps left of this black, too, so we’ll see if I manage to come up with anything else to make for the kids out of it! But for now, I’m going to move on and see what else I can get done, since I’m running out of time where I can comfortably sit at the machine.

No, there’s too much. Let me sum up.

Oh, hi, internet! I haven’t been the best sewing blogger as of late, but I think I can be excused since I’ve been busy with, oh, growing another human. I had all of these grand plans to make several patterns to get me through this upcoming summer, since I’ve never really had to do a hot weather third trimester before, buuuuut I’ve managed to sew about three things since that flannel shirt that I posted months ago. I also had grand plans to post actual pattern reviews now that I finally have a Pattern Review account again (I had to sign up all over, since I’ve more or less switched emails and could not get in with the old one), but all I’ve managed are a few phone photos, with my little photobombers in each one. So I’m going with the Princess Bride quote in the title, and just summing up the last several months at once.

20190329_150128First up, I made two pairs of maternity shorts, using the Copenhagen Harbor Board Shorts from Stitch Upon A Time. What I liked about this pattern is that the construction is such that, theoretically, I can just rip the stretchy panel off next summer, sew on a waistband piece, add some back elastic as per the instructions, and have regular old shorts. Whether that will actually happen is TBD. I did cut out the waistband pieces, but I ended up with some weird poofiness in the front crotch area and I suspect that the back rise isn’t high enough for me. I can probably fix the latter, since I have fabric left from both pairs, but I’m not sure about the front without taking a weird tuck out like I had to do with last year’s Lander shorts. Obviously, it’s too early to say, because the bump needs some room, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see next spring.

20190329_145915Fitting issues aside, this was easy to sew, and I was able to knock both pairs out fairly quickly, as I was physically able. Even with adding some extra jeans-like topstitching details. I used lightweight denim for both, with the navy pair having a slight amount of stretch. Now that it’s warm enough to actually wear them, I can say the non-stretch worked a bit better. These pictures were from when I was about 16 weeks in.

 

 

 

20190416_083107The second project was the Chalk & Notch Pony Tank, with the idea being that I can wear it now and later with no alterations. This one was more successful than the shorts, and the fabric makes me happy. If I’m going to feel like I’m carrying a small planet around all summer, I might as well have galactic fun with it! I did have some gathering issues with the neckband, which I think will be solved by not following the markings next time. And this was also the most successful coverstitch project I’ve had to date. (Turns out that I needed to change the needles, who knew?) This photo was from about six weeks ago, and I still have plenty of room left! I have a second one cut out, but haven’t sewed it yet, because I have another project currently in progress that I could use the same serger and coverstitch threads for. I think this will be a TNT pattern, though!

20190316_140530Finally, I did two hand-sewn refashions for the Day & Night dress challenge, hosted by Elizabeth Made This. I couldn’t handle much machine sewing at the time due to sickness, so I chose to turn my old Plantain cardigan hack into a vest with some Alabama Chanin style armhole bindings. I still like the original cardigan, but it had gotten too tight in the armpits since the kids came along, so this was my salvage attempt. (Which I haven’t worn since, but I’ve had maternity styling issues.)

 

 

 

For the night look, I turned a barely worn wrap that I made as one of my earliest knitting projects into a shrug/cropped jacket thing, by stitching up a couple of seams within the rectangle. This was a fun experiment in zero waste design for me, since the original wrap was just a rectangle of fabric and I didn’t want to cut into any fabric I had to make myself out of string! I also accidentally discovered that I can style it two ways, by either positioning the seams under my arms or on top of my shoulders. Even though the latter makes a kind of odd sleeve shape under my arms, I like the faux lapels that result. I’m very seriously considering dyeing it, most likely to teal, as the yarn is too beige for my taste. (It was purchased for an attempt at making a mini-wardrobe years ago, which was largely unsuccessful, but this yarn matched the main print that was the only two pieces that worked. I just have no idea how to style shawls.) As for this dress, it was a slight refashion as well– a RTW maternity dress that I shortened the sleeves on, since they were originally 3/4 length and I’ve realized over the past few years that this length is virtually useless in my climate.

I’m still hoping to get some more sewing in before the end of the summer. I’m currently working on a maternity/nursing dress that will hopefully be maxi (we’ll see, because I had some yardage issues), I have that second Pony tank cut and ready to go, and I’m trying very hard to get the vests for my guys made that I intended to make back in January. Though all I’ve managed so far is tracing the sizes for the boys, I still need to trace Doug’s. Ideally, I’d like to cut out a couple of the nursing-friendly projects that I got supplies for last Christmas as well, on the off chance that I actually manage some time to myself while juggling the newborn/toddler/preschooler combo!

We’ll see what I manage to do, since it’s been a rather rough pregnancy. Ok, so either all of my pregnancies have either been rough, or I’m a total wimp. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t complain, since I know plenty of people that have struggled with infertility or miscarriages. But it’s also hard to keep a happier perspective when I’m one week short of the third trimester and still getting nauseous multiple times a day (just like with my older son, when I didn’t stop being nauseous until the day after he was born), building 2 foot pillow forts and wearing nasal strips every night because I can’t breathe to sleep otherwise, and getting sent back to physical therapy because the hip that got misaligned last time is already going out again. Also, I’ve had to entirely give up tea for months now, due to the nausea. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know how I feel about tea. I’m totally packing some quality stuff in my hospital bag when the time comes!

On a positive note, baby is quite healthy…and we’re having a girl this time! Yes, I’ve already acquired some sewing patterns, and even cut out one little skirt from some of the leftovers from my current project. This is going to be great for my scrapbusting! (Not that I don’t love my boys, but they are admittedly harder to sew for, especially with my love of prints!) Even so, I’m thankful that a cousin passed on all of her summer maternity clothes to me/I have multiple friends who are willing to give us clothes that their daughters outgrew so I don’t have to stress about making or buying as many things right now. And counting down the weeks until this pregnancy is done.