January in review

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

1. I reorganized my stuff.

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

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

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

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

3. I’m sewing diapers. Again.

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

4. State of the stash

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

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

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

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

2015’s final projects

I have a few last-minute additions to this year’s collection of makery.

IMG_3269The first two are both Christmas projects! I only made two things this year, and they were all for Hobbit. The first was this sock monkey ornament. I did it to continue a tradition that my mom started when I was growing up–she would make an ornament each for my brother and I every year, so that we would have a collection to decorate our trees with when we were out on our own. My brother’s got lost somehow, along with a box of ornaments I made myself at one point, and even them moving never turned it up, sadly. But aside from one or two that broke, many of the ornaments on our tree come from that collection. So it’s one I’d like to continue with Hobbit, and any other children that we might have. This year, I kept it simple with a kit, and all I had to do was stuff and stitch. My mom has one too, and I’ll eventually get to making the third and final for our collection. (My mom has taken to calling him Monkey, so we thought it appropriate.) Isaac's ark


The second is this toy ark, which ended up being a family affair. The pattern came from one of my grandmothers, who was getting rid of old craft books last Christmas and asked my cousins and I to see if there was anything we wanted to take. Most of the fabrics came from my mom’s stash of quilt cotton, and she helped me a great deal with both sewing the animals and holding Hobbit so I could work on it myself. Doug helped by cutting some thin wood into the shapes for the boat, after I couldn’t find large enough pieces of the  illustration board that it called for at the local arts and crafts stores. And I ended up using my dad’s duct tape to seal the board edges to prevent splinters from working through, so that counts. Right? Aside from the duct tape, the boards are covered in quilt batting and fabric, and I had to hand stitch and hot glue the covered pieces together. Awkward, but it worked. I think it turned out pretty cute, and the adults in the family were impressed. Hobbit’s take on it so far is that the animals are fun to stick in his mouth, just like everything else in life right now. But he did seem somewhat interested when I was showing him how to drop the animals inside, so hopefully he’ll like it when he’s a bit older.

Exhibit B: knitting. As I mentioned in my goals post, it’s been a slooooooow year on the yarn front. But here’s the two things that I did finish.

rock and tideThis cowl. Which I actually posted in January, but it took me this long to weave in the ends and block it. I still wish the drop stitch was working the way I wanted it to and showing the meshier aspect of the yarn, but hey, I made up my own knitting pattern. That’s new. Sebastian's

This scarf. The pattern is called Sebastian’s Scarf. It’s one of the projects in the Improve Your Knitting class on Craftsy, which my mom and I were going through together. I was a little disappointed that the class basically just covered different styles of knitting, and not much else. They do have a class now that’s just on continental style, and I think that would be more helpful, since I’ve been told multiple times that it would be better for my carpal tunnel than the English style. Continental purling is extremely awkward for me so far, though. Especially when switching between knit and purl in the same row. And forget yarnovers! Anyway, they don’t really go over the specific projects in the class at all. I have yarn for the other two– another scarf and an all rib-knit sweater that will no longer be anything resembling flattering with my remaining post-baby squishiness. So I may just see if I can find alternate uses for those yarns. Particularly the sweater– some of my older knitted scarves are starting to get a bit ratty, so it might be time to start replacing them.

To finish off, here’s the nerdy numbers bit!

Projects completed this year: 41. Not too shabby, all things considered.
The breakdown:
Dresses: 4. All from scratch.
Skirts: 6. 4 from scratch, one of which used otherwise difficult scraps, and 2 refashions.
Tops (for me): 4, all from scratch. I’m counting the waterfall cardigan as a top here.
Pants: 2 pairs, both leggings.
Costumes: 2. One to help my bestie, one for Hobbit. Actually, I could probably say 3. I just remembered the Saturday that I spent helping my sis in law to make a Jedi robe.
Accessories for me: 3, all knitted neckwear.
Baby clothes: 8. 2 refashioned onesies, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of pants, a romper and a t-shirt.
Toys/ toy storage: 6. 2 epic quiet books, the play gym, the ark, and then storage bags/hammock for blocks, puzzles and stuffed animals.
Functional baby gear: 4. An entire stash of cloth diapers, a diaper bag, a nursing cover, and a changing mat.
Holiday: 1, the monkey ornament. I also have a Christmas stocking cut out for Hobbit, but cutting it out was as far as I’ve gotten with it.

I’ll have to do the stashbusting review later, since my focus this week has been mostly on washing and nicely folding all of the more recent additions to the collection, and I’m still tallying the yardage. Let’s just say that I epically failed on my one challenge goal this year (to end with less than I started with), and save the gory details for next year, shall we?

Hope you all have a happy new year!

To move, or not to move…

I’ve been debating about moving this site from Blogger to WordPress for awhile now. It seems so much easier to deal with comment replies, and I like their tagging system better than Blogger’s. The photo and text formatting has been annoying me lately. Through playing around with a secondary blog, I’ve also learned that it’s really simple to pre-write a post on my Kindle through their app, and then go back and add photos and links when I can get to my computer, which is really helpful since I can write while trapped on the couch with an eating or napping baby. For some reason, there isn’t a Blogger app, at least not an official one. Not that it would make a difference, because I’m using the official app on my phone and this is my third attempt at writing this post. It loses a huge chunk every time I put the phone down and have to reopen the app. (Incidentally, this is also how my flamingo skirt post got wrecked. Grr.)

But sewandso is already taken at WordPress. And I have 8 years’ worth of posts, comments and mostly Google-hosted photos that would have to transfer successfully to make it worthwhile. I just don’t have time to reconstruct on the photo end of things in particular. So here’s what I’m wondering:

-How much work would be involved in getting this up and running again if I made the switch?  Particularly photos and links to previous posts.

-What would you do about the name? I’m still rather fond of this one, since I’ve always been a multicrafter who just happens to sew the most.

-Is it worth the effort?

Thanks in advance for feedback…. And here’s hoping this stupid app doesn’t eat my words again.

administrative details

Just two quick things today:

1. Since the sidebar widget I had for my finished projects hasn’t let me add anything to the list since May (really, Blogger?!), I finally got fed up and reworked the page for what’s in my closet to take care of that. It’s just a big link list now, since trying to figure out how to add that many pictures would take forever, given that this is on the older side for sewing blogs. But I did at least organize it between what’s in my closet/what isn’t in my closet anymore/stuff I made for other people/etc.

Incidentally, I’m kind of surprised at how old certain items in my closet are now. Like that black military jacket I made back in 2006–whaaaat? I guess that explains why the lining is tearing. I’m also wondering how many of those current closet residents will get to stay around post-baby, but I guess it’s too early to worry about that.


2. Since I ended up with significantly more yardage than I started last year with, and the Facebook group is really fun, I’m doing the Stashbusting Sewalong again. With all new themes and a bunch of new hosts! I didn’t volunteer to host a month because, you know, baby stuff, but best of luck to all you ladies who are participating! So here’s my pledge for this year, which I kept really simple:

I, Becky, will endeavor to end 2015 with less yarn and fabric than I started this year with, and to only buy notions as needed for specific projects.  I shall also try to limit the number of new patterns I buy for myself this year. 

To avoid stressing myself out, I purposely am not doing a number of yards/pieces of fabric type pledge this year, since I have no idea what sort of wrenches being pregnant and having a newborn will continue to throw into my sewing. And I did also specify limiting patterns for myself, because I’m sure I’m going to want to start collecting a few kids’ patterns. I do have a few from things I’ve made for friends before, and whatever’s in my Burda magazines, but not a whole lot to pick from in my pre-existing stash. If Hobbit cooperates, we should see if we’re having a boy or a girl in less than two weeks, which I’m getting quite excited to find out!

And with that, I guess I’d better finish practicing my flute so I have a shot at actually cutting something out today. Yeah.

Do the (blog) hop!

I’m sure many of you have seen the blog hop that’s been going around about our writing processes lately, and Alessa nominated me! If you don’t know her, she lives in Germany, makes wonderful, colorful dresses, and started a new job as a doctor this year (congrats!) So it’s an honor to be nominated by her. And here’s my answers.

Early days blog photography, when Donna 1.0 was my main model.

Why do I write? I started this blog waaaay back in 2007, mostly just as a way to keep track of my own projects, make notes of changes that I’d make when re-using patterns in a place where I couldn’t misplace them, etc. Somewhere on the way, people actually started reading it and (gasp!) commenting. And suddenly, I was actually part of a sewing community. Since I live in what is basically a desert for garment sewing, and the only people I know who sew regularly are my mom and grandmother (who are both more into quilting), this is a pretty big deal! When the “sewintists map” went live, I kept checking and checking, but I’ve never seen another pin in Delaware. I guess it’s a good thing I’m only a day trip away from Philadelphia/Baltimore/DC, right? So my blog is still mostly just for my own personal documentation, but also as one method of keeping conversations going with other sewcialists.

A recent outtake with both dogs trying to get in the action!

What am I working on? Blog-wise: you probably wouldn’t know it, but I am attempting to work on improving my blog photos. My current challenges here are that I don’t have anywhere good to take photos outside on a regular basis, since I live in a middle-unit townhouse that has a lovely view of one of my state’s busiest highways from the backyard, and I’m still trying to convince my long-suffering husband to not be scared of my camera. Also, photobombing Golden retrievers. 🙂

I’m also working on writing more concisely, because I have a tendency to ramble!

Sewing-wise: I’ve got two projects going on right now! One is my winter coat, which I’ll probably write more about soon. This one pretty much demands in-progress posts. The other is a patchwork skirt commissioned by my sister-in-law. It’s a good thing she’s patient, because I started this one before my wedding dress and it still isn’t done! But since this is the perfect project for Scraptember, I’m trying very hard to finish it this month. We’ll see if I make it, since I’m leaving for vacation on Friday!

How does it differ from others of its genre? I don’t think my blog is all that unique, tbh. I don’t design patterns, I’m not an expert at fitting or pattern hacking, and I’m not trying to come up with anything to sell at this point in my life. Since I’ve already turned one hobby into a job, via my music teaching and occasional performance, I’d like to keep my crafty life as something that’s just for fun! I guess what does make me a little different is that I don’t just sew–that’s why I named this blog what I did. I’ve been teaching myself to knit, I make jewelry when the mood strikes, I‘ve been making scrapbooks since I was in high school, and sometimes I do other “crafty” stuff. And I need to remember sometimes that just because something isn’t sewing-related, doesn’t mean it’s not creative or unworthy of a mention.

me as Amy Pond
Or not-so-secret costumes, though only the Whovians would get this.

Also, some people like “secret pajamas” clothes…. I like making secret costumes! (AKA things inspired by geeky things I love, which can still be worn in my everyday life.)

How does my writing process work? Most often, I start with the words. I’ve always found it easier to consolidate my thoughts in writing, rather than verbally. Also, sometimes I pre-write my posts at my retail job, when I’m close to finishing a project and don’t have anything else to do. (Shh!) After that, I take the photos/pester Doug into taking them for me, edit my text as needed to match them, and post! Lately, that’s also been followed by tweeting about the new post, since sewing completely sucked me into the Twittersphere. 

I’m supposed to tag two other people, so I’m nominating Katie from Kadiddlehopper and Helena at By Eitchy. In case you don’t know them, Katie makes fabulous clothes for both her and her highly photogenic daughter, and has the most stylish Barbies around. She’s seriously tempting me to get out my old Samantha doll and make some outfits for her with my scraps! Helena lives in Sweden, is working through a really fascinating project she calls “Sew For A Change” where she’s also working on greening up her lifestyle, and has also been in pretty much the same boat of re-examining her wardrobe plans and ideals through the Wardrobe Architect project. I also find it interesting when she talks about Swedish culture, since it sounds like it’s soooo different in a lot of ways from what I’m used to here in America.

Finally finished my August Sewcial Bee project…

And just in time for Pantsapalooza!

My finished Reeses' dressSo here it is, my Tiramisu dress and its chocolately color inspiration.

There’s not too much to say about the pattern that hasn’t been said by scores of bloggers. I’m happy with the fit, overall, now that I tweaked the bodice. It’s probably not as deep of a V as it would have been otherwise, but I feel like I can comfortably wear this for teaching and church and such and not feel like people are looking at my chest, so that’s good. And I do think the solid chocolate brown was a good move. I’m also happy to have something I can wear these (barely seen) yellow beaded earrings with, because there’s not much in my closet that goes with them.

Reeses' dress, side view

And here’s a slightly blurry side view, in which my husband was getting creative with posing, and probably a more accurate color assessment. (My weekend is entirely booked, between work and church and music-related things, so I have no idea when I’d be able to get a natural light shot. Thus the indoor pics.)

I also finished trimming and pinning up the third hem of my friend’s wedding dress today, which will be a hand-sewing job, in preparation for busy work during tonight’s episode of Project Runway. 

I also realized that today is 7 years since I wrote my first post on here. Crazy, right? 

in the spotlight

It was definitely a surprise to me to hop on Feedly this morning while practicing some scales (I know, bad musician), and see my own wedding dress pop up! Jessica from Needle & Cloth kindly decided to feature me in her Daily Spotlight series that she just started– we’ve virtually gotten to know each other a bit over the last several months, as she’s also in the process of making her own wedding dress. And I’m quite honored to be featured there, as my little blog is one that generally keeps to itself!

An update about yesterday’s sewing machine fiasco: Should the worst case scenario happen and my trusty Bernadette (aka Bernina 1280) has to go off to that great sewing machine repair shop in the sky, my mom has kindly offered to let me keep the machine that she’s lent me for dress-finishing purposes. So I won’t be machineless. Which is good, because I’ve gotten all spoiled on nice machines and my eyes may have been popping out of my head a little to look online and see what it would cost to get even the most basic of my brand new! I’m planning to take Bernadette to the shop on Friday and see if I can get an idea of if she’s fixable/if it’s too expensive to bother. I did some price comparisons to see what it would cost to get the same model machine on eBay so I have a better idea.

Pictureless update

Just a quick update post:

I finished the last of the 23 lace appliques today!

I also put it on Donna, and it looks like I don’t have to tweak the hem. Whew.

Now, I’m one hook and eye away from finishing the outside of the dress entirely. Next step: Figuring out how to do a waist stay and tulle petticoat, while still leaving room to attach the lining to the waist stay, because I also figure that can substitute for the waistband piece on the inside and therefore add one less layer.

Also, it’s a good thing I wasn’t planning on sewing last night, because all of the brouhaha about Google Reader shutting down was very distracting. Thankfully, the Twitter sewcialists were quick to point out options for those of us who used it for our blog reading. (Of course, this does make me wonder if Blogger will be on the chopping block at some point too…)

Edit: I’ve started using Feedly and like it so far, but for those of you who use Bloglovin’, here’s how you can follow me on there:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

puzzle solving

IMG_0454After the great lace disaster of last week, I’ve managed to get to the point where the front is basically done, and am now applying lace to the back! Which, surprisingly, has turned out to be more complicated than princess seams. Between trying to somewhat match up the motifs that are going over the seamlines and trying to keep it flat and intact over the organza part–I’d like to avoid having to stitch that down so it looks nice on the inside–trying to do this one side of the back has become like trying to solve this complicated puzzle where I’m carefully trimming around bits of sunflowers and overlapping other bits to try and make a fabric that still looks nice but stays flat. All this while trimming and stitching as I go. I tried putting the bodice on Donna and trimming out a piece of lace to put on this piece yesterday, and it didn’t work, so I had to resort to basically having the entire piece of lace hanging off of this thing at some point and stitching as I go. I had to make some overlap, but I did have a couple of flowers touching on the front as I tried to work around the princess seams, so it will have to do. There’s not many other options for a lace with a lot of netting in between flowers. Most people probably won’t be looking that closely, right?

IMG_0458At least those other cut pieces won’t entirely go to waste, as I can recycle the sunflowers as skirt embellishments. I’m having my leg model here so they really pop! There’s about 6 fully trimmed out so far, and others in various stages of cutting netting away. I’ve been working a little of this in between things so I can break up the mountain of hand-sewing on occasion.

UntitledThe other major thing I’ve gotten done this week was sewing twill tape around the top of the bodice to help shape and stabilize the neckline, and turning and stitching those pieces down. It took some re-reading of Bridal Couture and a shoutout for some clarification on Twitter to figure out exactly how best to go about it, but I think the results turned out well. I grabbed this pic on my phone in-progress…

IMG_0455And here’s the result! It did make a rather nicely-shaped neckline, I think–maybe a little pointier than I would have wanted on the right side, but we’ll see if I redo it. I did do this part with some negative ease, so it should help the thing curve in and fit me better, too.


In continuing the tradition of showing the guts of the dress, here’s what it looks like inside, with the photo seriously filtered to really let it show. For some reason, this side was way more ripply than the other side, and I may end up re-doing this particular section to attempt to get it to lie flatter. (I think this is the pointier side, come to think of it…maybe that explains it.)

One last order of business before I get back to work– I was recently given the Premio award by the lovely Hana. It’s to thank the last 9 people who have commented here, and I’m all in favor of more commenting (and have been making an effort to leave comments more often myself this year!) So I’d like to send a shoutout to Hana (still the most recent commenter!), Donna, Murieann, Helen T, Gwen, soisewedthis, Allison, Christina, and Carolyn.

I apologize to those of you whose blogs I didn’t link– I discovered as I was doing this that apparently Disqus won’t link me to the blog for the commenter like the default settings do. I also learned from Hana that apparently the comments don’t work on Internet Explorer! Has this been an issue for anyone else? Would it be better if I try to undo the Disqus and just go back to the default commenting?