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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the year-end wrap up and some upcoming plans

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First off, my last sewing projects of 2018. I had enough free time the day after Christmas to whip up another matching set of Brindille & Twig ringer tees for the boys, in long sleeves this time. I made Hobbit’s in the 4/5 size, and Padawan’s in the 24 month size. (He’s a bit of a peanut, and not quite out of the 18 month clothes even though he’ll be turning 2 in the spring. I strongly suspect I may have to sew several pairs of pants for him this fall, since he seems to be pretty slender for his age.)

And now, all the nerdy number things!

This year, I’ve made:
20181226_160928Pajamas, just pants- 1 (I had a top to go with this)
Pajamas- 4 sets (3 with knit tops instead of pj pattern)
Tops for me- 5 (refashions- 2)
Dresses- 3
Boy shirts- 4
Toys- 2.
Quilts- 1
Shorts- 1
Swimsuit- 1 (3 piece set)
Coats- 3 (1 for me and 2 for boys)
Jeans- 1 (yaaaaaaay!)

Total: 26 projects for the year. Not too shabby!

Yards of fabric used: 51.5 on record, probably closer to 55. I did have to purchase some fabric to make the boys’ coats, and it never quite made it into my spreadsheet. Neither did this dog jersey.

Total yards in my stash currently: I started the year with 342.5 yards, and now have 394.49.  So that’s a net gain of about 52 yards. Oops. Admittedly, most of this was Christmas gifts from my mom (I just added it up and got nearly 73 yards!!), all tagged for specific projects, as we spent quite a bit of time over the fall chatting about what I needed most in my wardrobe. I love every single piece, and they all fit very well within my color palette that I’ve slowly been refining my closet to, so I know they’ll get used. It’s just a matter of having the time to make them up!

I also had to buy some quilt fabrics, as I kind of got suckered into agreeing to assemble some quilt kits that my mother in law bought several years ago. But I know I can’t just quilt for months without losing my mind, so my plan is to use any sewing time I get at my parents’ house where I don’t need to cut projects out will be dedicated to this until it’s done. (And I totally plan to reward myself with a fun sewing treat when I’m all done, since she’s paying me.)

I also wanted to reflect on some of the long term challenges I took part in this year.

First, the RTW Fast from Goodbye Valentino. I did get through the entire year without purchasing any clothes for myself, aside from some desperately needed bras once I finished nursing, and that fell into the guidelines. I was gifted a few things, though. Like my mom surprised me with several knit skorts over the summer, because I had virtually nothing to wear on my at home days where playing on the floor in skirts isn’t the most practical/it took so long to just make one pair of shorts due to fitting. I think that there was some value in participating, but I don’t plan to continue in 2019. For one thing, it’s bothered me the whole year that the restriction extends to purchasing secondhand clothes. I’ll admit that in the past, I’ve binge-shopped at the thrift store without much thought between “oh, that’s cute” or “I can use this as fabric!” And this did prevent me from doing any of that this year. But given that sewing time is a precious commodity for me, I can see value in supplementing my handmade wardrobe with a few carefully chosen thrifted pieces, especially in categories that I’m not necessarily interested in sewing like exercise clothes. Also, from a sustainability standpoint, it seems ridiculous to force people into feeling like they need to purchase fabric to make some basics if you can save a perfectly good existing piece of clothing from getting incinerated or thrown in a landfill, provided that fit isn’t an issue.

I also didn’t particularly enjoy the Facebook group. I’m not on there as much as I used to be, and that was the sort of group that was constantly filling my news feed because of the sheer number of posts. Plus I didn’t like that people were getting called out/kicked out for things like, one example I remember from early in the year when I was following more closely, one woman getting surprised by a ski trip and needing to buy a coat because she didn’t have one that would keep her warm enough. It just seemed like a lot of ridiculous policing and no grace for life happening, so I stopped following it partway through the year. I think I’ll stick with the Stashbusting Sewalong for my Facebook sewing fix, since that one is all about cheering each other on and laughing when we end up getting more stash anyway.

The 2018 Make Nine was a more positive experience for me. Since I decided to swap out one top for jeans, I got 7 out of 9, which is very good! I also like that that one is more about celebrating the wins, and any projects that get done. I’m also going to let that one go for next year, though I would participate in this one again in the future. I think that after the unemployment scare this fall, and all the derailing of plans that happens with young kids, I’m feeling very reluctant to plan too far in advance. And since I’m also trying to be realistic in my goal making/more carefully build my wardrobe, I think I’ll be better off if I take it season by season rather than a year at a time. So after much consideration, I’ve decided to do the Seasonal Sew 3 challenge instead.

So, here’s my winter plan!

  1. IMG_20181205_124507I’ve had a plaid flannel Archer shirt on my Make Nine for 2 years straight, and failed to make it both times. But I still love the fabric, it’s one of the prettiest plaids I’ve ever seen, and I want it in my closet. I was procrastinating because of sleeve alterations, but I finally got it cut out yesterday, and am hoping to start sewing it up in the next day or so. I think it’ll be a great option to go with my gold jeans that I wear for work, and maybe even those turquoise jeans that I just made!
  2. New Look 6417. I’ve been drooling over this one since I bought it last winter, because it’s so unique looking. I was gifted some cream ponte knit to make it this year, and I’m going to see if I have enough of this leathery looking fabric left from my old Gabriola skirt to make the binding. If not, I have some brown interlock left over from my first Tiramisu dress that I can probably make work. Given that this would go with basically every pair of pants I have, except maybe my grey jeans (I guess grey and brown can work? I mean, that’s the entire winter landscape here, but BLAH), I think this could be a good one to wear either for teaching or home days, as long as the boys aren’t getting into paint or I’m not cooking pasta sauce.
  3. Since I’m most hurting for stay at home clothes, I think the third thing will be to try out the Hudson pants. I have some stashed grey ponte that I got to try out a sewing dare project from Gillian from at least a year ago, but haven’t been able to get to, and maybe I need to rethink what to do there. So I think I’ll try the fit out with those, and if it works, whip up a second pair with a funkier knit that I got for Christmas.

Bonus project: some matching Twig & Tale Trailblazer vests for my guys, to go along with the Sewcialists’ upcoming menswear theme month. Doug is really excited about this one, because my mom made the boys some matching vests a few months ago and he was half-joking about why he didn’t get one, so she bought him some fabric with his favorite hockey team logo plus some corduroy for the outside for Christmas, enough to make matching vests for him and the boys. Since he’s turned down every offer I’ve ever made to sew clothes for him in the past, I’m going to prioritize this one for the season, and plan to start it as soon as I’m done with the Archer. So if I do have to drop or swap something in my plan to something faster, I’ve already decided that the sweater can be pushed off. (Especially since I’ll have to make all of the bias trim before I can do that anyway.)

I’m never wearing a bikini bottom again

IMG_7006Because I have shorts!

Seriously, this is really exciting for me. I have a lifelong hatred of swimsuit shopping, and the biggest reason is that the bottoms never quite matched my coverage comfort level. I’ve always felt that I had to get the boy cut to cover my entire backside, because the thought of my cheeks hanging out does not make for a relaxing beach day, but still wasn’t happy with the thigh coverage or how wide they make my hips look. So I’ve spent a lot of beach time in my life wearing my (often jeans) shorts over my suit, which was much more mentally comfortable for me than physically comfortable. I’m also super picky about the top. I generally like tankinis, because I get the coverage of a one piece without having to fully strip every time I need to use the toilet, but it’s hard to find those with bottoms that I’m happy with.

I knew a swimsuit would have to be attempted this year. I just didn’t have one that fit anymore, except for a hand me down, unsupportive one piece that was frankly embarrassing to wear. When I saw that Jalie has a shorts pattern with a built in swim bottom, it sounded like a dream come true!

So I bought the pattern, along with a one piece that looked a little more interesting and supportive than their tankini top. And the rash guard top, because I am descended from all of the palest people on earth and I’m tired of always missing a spot somewhere on my back or shoulders and getting burned! (I’ll be honest, I was seriously tempted to just use that as the top, because I will never wear just the tankini top outside now, but I wasn’t sure how to build the necessary bust support into that.) And a few pieces of swim knit from Cali Fabrics. I was hoping for an SPF fabric, but couldn’t find anything in colors and prints that I liked, and this blue and green abstract print was singing like a Siren. Of course I couldn’t resist.

IMG_7007The shorts came together pretty easily, especially for a first attempt at swimwear. The hardest parts were wrestling the elastic into something resembling submission, and that I still haven’t quite worked out tensioning on my coverstitch machine. But I think the finished results look good, at least when it’s on. (Thankfully, you can’t see the elastic stitching on the built in briefs, because that is a mess. My elastic technique needs practice.) The waistband construction is pretty clever, and it has pockets! I never want a normal swimsuit bottom again.

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The top is ok. Hacking it into a tankini top was easy, all I did was cut it off right at the leg hole. I like the twist front, but wish the cups were better. The swim cups I was able to find (from Joann’s) are a bit unnatural in shape, at least for me, and I honestly couldn’t figure out how to sew them in with good placement and the very open mesh I was able to find to line things. I’m telling myself that since they’re still removable, that will help with washing. But I do think that whenever I need a new swimsuit, which hopefully won’t be for awhile, I’ll look for a different top pattern. Like one with cup instructions. And maybe more bust support.

The other two changes I made to this were to hand stitch the twist so it would stay in place, since it kept slipping below the seam it was meant to cover, and to cross the straps in the back. I had the length, and figured it might help with support.

IMG_20180613_223737I did a little hacking on the rash guard, too. My main reason was that the zippers were all too long or too short. Every time I’ve tried pulling plastic teeth off, the edge is a frayed mess, so I decided to go with shorter and change the neckline to compensate. In retrospect, that was probably the best move anyway, because I’ve never liked clothes that are too tight around my neck. The turtlenecks I sometimes had to wear as a kid were torture. So I basically shortened the neckband, drew a sort of curvy V neck down to meet the zipper, and topstitched around the whole thing with the coverstitch machine. (See that whole triangle of the wrong side of the fabric? That’s all filled in on the original pattern.) I initially had a lot of trouble with the zipper installation, since the fabric was soooo stretchy, but a little piece of this roll of interfacing-like stuff that I found in my cart of sewing essentials made it sew in like a dream after that.

IMG_7013As for the fabric, I was very happy working with the print, as it had just enough texture to keep it from sliding all over the place. The solid black does have a shinier finish, and was a lot more slippery. I also used some meshy stuff for the lining bits, but severely overestimated how much I needed since I was basing my estimate on a fully lined one piece! So I’m not sure what to do with nearly 2 yards of beige powernet… I guess I’m set for life if I ever want to make skintone bras. Sigh.

Aside from the top, if I were making this again, I think I’d loosen the elastic around the internal briefs just a bit. And buy as little of the mesh as I could have. But aside from that, I’m overall pleased. I made this without any size alterations (using size Y). It’s a little whiskery in the shorts, but since they’re just meant to get wet and that will probably straighten it out anyway, I’m not going to sweat it. I did test this out yesterday for an Independence Day gathering at my in-laws’, who have a pool. It didn’t fall apart (yay!), the shorts didn’t do a lot of irritating riding up like the boy cut bottoms I had before often would, and I did successfully avoid sunburn (except for one teeny bit I missed near my scalp. Arrrrgh. #palepeopleproblems)!

IMG_7017 I can actually see myself getting some extra use out of the shorts and rash guard patterns, to be honest. The shorts could easily be used for workout shorts/bum around the house shorts, if I’m ever so inclined to make those, with the brief left out. (The pattern does actually suggest that, as tennis shorts.) And if I could find an appropriate fabric, the top could work out very well for hiking, I think! Which is something I’m trying to get back into, as much as I can with the age and listening abilities of the boys.

 

this bird has flown

I’m back! With multiple projects to catch up on, believe it or not. Taking pictures has proven to be even more of a challenge since Padawan came along, mostly because he spends most of his nap time strapped to me in a carrier. Not very conducive to outfit photos. So this was just grabbing a few quick photos of my latest project after church today, and hoping that I can catch up on the rest later.

IMG_4939The skirt is the Sewaholic Rae, and there’s really nothing to say about the construction by this point since this is my fourth version.  It’s funny that this has become my go-to skirt pattern, since I probably would have avoided it in the pre-kid days. But when you’ve got limited time to sew and 30 pounds to lose, I guess elastic waists that can be easily adjusted are the way to go. Especially when I can hide them with my constantly untucked shirts. (I’m wearing it here with an old Burda top and my Plantain cardigan.)

IMG_4942Let’s talk about the fabric, shall we? Yes, I’m back on the quilter’s cotton, but I couldn’t pass this print up. It’s from a collection called “Hello Love”, all loosely inspired by The Beatles’ music. I grew up regularly listening to The Beatles, and so I fell in love with several of the prints. The one I ended up choosing was inspired by “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. One thing I’ve been attempting to do for awhile is bring some warmer colors into my wardrobe, since I do have a tendency to fall into a rut of ocean colors and black. And the cheerful gold with Elven looking trees seemed to be just the thing. Plus that meant that I actually managed to fit the month’s bird theme at The Monthly Stitch! It was a little challenging making sure that I didn’t end up with hearts centered in iffy places, but I think I managed it. As well as pattern matching as best as I could with angled seams.

So that’s that! And hopefully I’ll get to those other pictures soon.

IMG_4948Ok, one more with this cutie. Can you believe he’s 2 months old already?

Year-end wrap up

Since it’s time to tie up the loose ends of 2016, here’s a few unblogged projects, my stashbusting update, and some exciting updates to my sewing space!

Unblogged project #1: Hobbit’s Christmas shirt. I had just barely enough of this homespun type plaid that one of my grandma’s friends offloaded onto me, and I did have to supplement a bit with some plain black. Most of it was straightforward sewing, especially since it is a larger size of the same pattern that I used for his first birthday shirt. The one place I did have trouble was the sleeve placket. I don’t know if it was the particular method given in the instructions, or pregnancy brain, or what, but I could not make sense of how this was actually supposed to work! And I know I ended up doing it wrong– the inside of the placket is so wonky, and there is absolutely no way I would have been able to add the button mid-placket that the instructions called for, even if I hadn’t opted to go with the more casual buttonless look. I couldn’t find any pattern help for this part online, so I’m definitely going to have to do a practice run or find another method before I make the long sleeved version of this pattern again!

Unblogged project #2: I made another batch of diapers, using some PUL prints that I was given last Christmas for this purpose. It more or less took me literally all year to sew these, because I just worked them in between all of my other projects. But I’m hoping that this will be the largest I have to go, since Hobbit will be getting to an age where I can attempt toilet training next year. I can’t say I’m entirely done with diaper sewing, because a friend gave me some brand name adjustable size covers that she didn’t need, and I’ll need to make some inserts so I can use them as backups for either boy when I’m behind on laundry. But I’m getting close, and that’s nice. Now I just need to figure out some use for these large scraps that the oddly shaped pieces left behind!

The stash update: I started the year with around 426 yards of fabric, and ended with around 394. It’s finally going down! It looks like I used a total of close to 61 yards this year, and acquired about 30 1/2. Admittedly, about 17 yards of that was Christmas gifts this year, but I already have specific plans for most of those pieces due to the wardrobe holes that my mom knew about. She’s good like that. My stashbusting plan for this year is to donate several pieces that I just don’t think I can use, mostly pieces that other people destashed onto me that aren’t necessarily my taste. And then sew as much as the boys let me. I will have to purchase for a couple of specific projects, namely nursing bras/my coat lining/Halloween costumes, but I do want to focus on using what I have as much as I can.

Right now, I’ve been busy going through my jewelry supplies and drastically downsizing. Then I’ll have to tackle fabric, yarn and scrapbook paper. But I’m hoping I can get the room cleared and my new space set up as quickly as I can, because I have all of these pretty new fabrics and patterns, plus new toys to play with! Doug surprised me with a coverstitch machine for Christmas (eeeeeee!), and my mom recently informed me that she’s passing on one of her extra sewing machines to me, since she has multiple of those on hand. So I’m getting a newer model Bernina! My workhorse from the late 80s-early 90s is still running fine, aside from that one incident where the electric went out in the middle of my wedding dress, but I have to admit that it’ll be nice to have an actual stretch stitch that isn’t guessing at zigzags. And, well, a light on my machine that works, since that one has been useless for probably a decade. We’re still trying to sort out how exactly to configure the new space, but the most likely option at this point is to buy a wardrobe to store our clothes in the main part of the room, and then set up my sewing machines in the walk-in closet so that we can close the door and keep Hobbit away from all of the sharp pointy things. (As well as his little brother, who will henceforth be known here as Padawan, once he’s starting to get mobile.)

I move slow and steady…

Man, where did August go? There’s actually been quite a bit of crafting going on in Casa Adagio. But I just couldn’t seem to get it together to, you know, actually finish something this month. But I do have several things in progress, so here’s my monthly update.

So here’s what’s been happening in my little world…

IMG_43751. Knitting project the first. Awhile ago, I started knitting the Latte Baby Coat for Hobbit, after inheriting some bulky acrylic from a cousin who tried knitting and decided it wasn’t for her. I thought this would be a quick project because of the thick yarn. Boy, was I wrong! For one thing, I had to entirely frog and restart it, because I originally started to make the hooded version. Then I realized that I misread something, and was several stitches short. That, and the hood took nearly half of my main color of yarn. So I started again, with the admittedly less cute hoodless version. Hobbit currently hates all things resembling hats anyway, so I guess it’s for the best. And this is how far I’ve gotten. I had to buy another skein of yarn anyway, as this is much more of a yarn hog than I’d anticipated. I’ve discovered that bulky yarn is hard on my hands, too. So I can only do a few rows at a time. I’m glad that I started this as early as I did, since I’m not sure if it would be ready for the cold weather otherwise. You know, if he even lets me put it on him in the first place. He’s in full fledged toddler mode now at 14 months, so you never know!

IMG_43762. Knitting project the second: I decided to mix it up and also start a long-planned project for myself. I’ve been wanting a nice mustard cardigan for awhile, so I finally started it. I still need to acquire one smaller cable needle for it. Amazon sent me the wrong needle size, and trying to wrestle Hobbit into the car seat to drive five minutes to the post office to do a return and hope they send me the right size doesn’t seem worth it. So I’ll just order another one sometime. Like in a year or two when I’m close enough to finishing this cardigan to actually have to think of button bands. Did I mention that I am quite possibly the slowest knitter on the planet?

IMG_43743. Sewing project the first: I finally started the Grainline Archer shirt that I’ve had queued for, oh, two or so years. I think what was holding me back was the fabric. It’s a perfectly serviceable, lovely-feeling Japanese linen…but oh so plain navy blue. I just couldn’t get excited about that, especially since 2 of my 3 pairs of pants that vaguely fit are blue jeans. (I do have some gray denim to fill that particular wardrobe hole, but you see how long it takes me to actually sew things on my list…) But thanks to some inspiration from a fairly recent issue of Seamwork, I’ve gotten past my mental block, and am quite excited about my embellishment! This is the yoke and the collar, with the addition of sashiko embroidery. I’m also going to do this on the cuffs. I won’t go into more details now, since I’m also possibly the last indie pattern user on the planet to make this shirt and I’ll need something to talk about in the finished project post. But I am quite pleased so far. And, surprisingly, enjoying the process quite a bit.

IMG_43724. Sewing project the second: I have fall sewing on the brain, and therefore cut out a shirt from some fabric that’s been in my stash for at least a decade. It’s stuck here for two reasons at the moment. My attempt to tea dye some stark white inexpensive crochet lace trim resulted in barely any color change at all, and I need to give that a second go. As you can see, it’s still too bright. Also, I ran out of thread that was even remotely matching, and couldn’t refill my bobbin until I bought more. But hey, I’m stashbusting!

5. I did the worst closet purge of my life. I had to part with so many me mades this time that still just don’t fit anywhere remotely close to well. A few things that I couldn’t bear to fully let go of, like this jacket and all of my Thurlow pants, are going into the refashion bin. Maybe those pants can at least be revived as kid’s shorts or pants, because I only got about one year’s use out of them and the fabric is still in great condition. Plus then I get to keep the buttons. Still, I’m rather bummed about this whole process.

IMG_43776. I did buy some fabric. Mostly for Hobbit’s Halloween costume this year, which I’ve gotten as far as tracing some pieces and sketching out for some hand-painting that needs to happen with it. But I also did some selfish shopping for a sewing dare. Gillian dared me to make myself an everyday outfit based on Lord of the Rings costumes! So I bought a piece for my main component. (I needed something for free shipping on Fabric.com anyway.) More on that later, since the Halloween project has to take higher priority.

7. On top of all of this, I’ve sloooooowly been making a fourth and hopefully final batch of cloth diapers, which will hopefully last through any growth spurts that may come before Hobbit is ready for us to start the dreaded toilet training process. I’ve got the covers done as of this month, but need some time to do the inserts. It’s just serging around rectangles and adding some stitching for fold lines, but I still have to cut about half of them out in the first place, too.

I think that’s all of it! So I’ll have something finished to show. Eventually.

a stripey dress and the July summary

IMG_4294My third and final big project for July was a maxidress, made from a stripey/zigzagged knit that I picked up about 2 summers ago from this hole in the wall fabric store that I didn’t know existed near my house. Most of the fabric they had wasn’t all that exciting to me, being largely quilting cottons and weird polyesters. But the two older ladies who were running the shop chatted with me and Doug for awhile, since we were the only people there at the time, so I felt sort of obligated to buy something. This knit was pretty much the only thing that jumped out to me.

The pattern is McCall’s 6559, which I’ve made once before. I knew the dress still fits me fine, so I didn’t make any adjustments. But maybe I should have– this fabric is almost too lightweight to not see through, and it still pulls down in front quite a bit!

The first time I wore it out in public (to church, which was a mistake), I spent the whole service tugging the thing up, debating whether shortening the straps would tighten up the armholes too much or trying to insert a scrap of fabric into the neckline to act as a fake camisole would be the better move. My husband was adamantly against that idea. But I think I have a working solution now…

IMG_4270…turning it backwards!

(And hey, check out that stripe matching. The zig zags aren’t perfect, but I think I did pretty darn good on the straight lines. I did have to rip out a partial seam to fix, but it was worth it.)

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Yeah, I think I’m going to like it much better like this.

Another thing that makes me happy about this project is that I was able to have it do double-duty for challenges again– the Stashbusting Sewalong theme for July was dresses, and The Monthly Stitch’s was spots and stripes. It’s nice to still feel like I’m involved in the more social aspect of this!

So, my quick stashbusting update for July:

I used up a total of about 5 yards. I bought 6.5, which have not arrived in the mail yet. Most of that is small pieces for Hobbit’s Halloween costume this year, and one piece is for the sewing dare that I got from Gillian, because I didn’t have anything on hand that would quite work. (Plus I needed $50 worth of stuff to get free shipping.) The bad news is that this purchase puts me back up to about 400 yards total, but the good news is that I’ve used up about 42 1/2 yards for the year so far. Which is really not bad, considering how ridiculously hard it has been to get sewing time in this year!

My other exciting news is that I am finally making progress on getting Hobbit to take his morning nap in the crib! I haven’t made it into the sewing room every day, because I still have to do some stuff like get dinner thrown in the crockpot or occasionally clean something. But I did get enough time in last week to trace out the pattern for the Halloween costume, order the fabric, do some much-needed tidying in my sewing room, and cut out a project for myself. Which will not be the next thing I sew, since I intend to do some embellishing on the fabric first, but still– sewing time! During the day! How exciting is that?!

 

flower power

20160501_152644One of my sewing goals for this year was to think more about mini-capsule outfits, in an effort to avoid closet orphans. Since a lot of my old clothes still aren’t fitting well, this is so important right now. So I was excited to see that The Monthly Stitch’s theme for April was to do two or more coordinating pieces, one of which was a floral. It just so happened that I had the perfect combination in my stash. Especially to line up with a couple of other sewing challenges– I love when I can multitask this way!

Both of these pieces were from Seamwork Magazine– the same issue, in fact. I made the Astoria top first, because I needed a solid pastel top for my flute choir’s spring concert, and this piece of fabric was literally the only thing I owned that fit the criteria! It’s a lightweight acrylic sweater knit that I’ve been dithering over for a couple of years now, due to the sheerness. (Incidentally, the theme for the Stashbusting Sewalong this month was “feared fabrics”, and sweater knits do make me a tad nervous. Especially since it’s hard to find them in not-wool, and the unraveling factor!) This one came together pretty quickly, and fit nicely straight off of the pattern. The length threw me for a loop, since I’m not used to cropped tops, so I might add some length if I make it again– unless I find more good sweater knits for layering over some dresses!

20160501_152843_LLS(Baby photobomb, because he was getting fussy.) The accompanying Bristol skirt took me longer than anticipated. That’s mostly my own fault, because the floral print is a little on the sheer side, and so I lined it. Which meant that I had to sew and finish everything twice, aside from the pocket. I’ll admit I was kind of frantically trying to finish this yesterday, both so I’d have it to wear to church this morning and so I could definitely count it for April, and so the hem on the lining is rather wonky. I rushed the pressing a bit more than I should have, and the fabric was all shifty. But I’m just going to roll with it, because no one will see it but me. (And maybe occasionally Doug, when he does the laundry, because he’s great like that.)

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What I like about this skirt:

  • Pocket! I wouldn’t use it for my hands, since it’s kangaroo-style, but it’s perfect for holding my phone.
  • If I hadn’t lined it, it really would have been a super-fast project.
  • The elastic waistband is definitely good for my need of flexible fitting.
  • The print, obviously.

What I didn’t like:

  • I should have read the waistband instructions more closely before sewing, and then done it completely differently. It called for basically basting the elastic into the waistband, and then sewing that whole gathered mess onto the skirt. Which took forever, and was a total mess to finish. (Mostly because I was too lazy to change my serger thread.) I think I’d make this pattern again, as it was a nice switch-up from the Rae skirt, but I’d definitely sew the waistband casing in flat and then insert the elastic.

In other news, I never made my official Me-Made-May pledge for this year. I honestly don’t think I can do every day right now, since I’m highly dependent on my RTW transitional jeans. And I definitely can’t do the me-made jewelry like previous years, because the grabby little Hobbit has me limited to stud earrings and my wedding rings. So for this year, I’m going to just aim for wearing something I made 3-4 days a week, and seeing if I can get a better idea of what clothes might still fit me again after I drop a few more pounds vs. what it’s just time to let go of.

I’m starting off well, at least– besides the two Seamwork pieces, I’m also wearing my latest pair of Espresso leggings and the McCall’s tank top I made last month.

To quickly sum up my stashbusting for April: Besides these two pieces, I have one more finished clothing project that needs to be photographed (yay!), and a gift that I haven’t showed at all yet because the family member that it’s for follows my Instagram. All together, 11.25 yards out, and nothing in. Finally, a decent dent!

UFO sighting

Once upon a time, I used to binge cut fabric for upcoming projects. Cutting out isn’t my favorite part of the process. Something about the permanence of it freaks me out a little, especially if it’s fabric I really like. So I’d cut out two or three things at a time, sew them all up, and then repeat. I don’t do that so much these days, mostly due to not having those big blocks of time. But in this case, that habit resulted in something relatively rare in my sewing world: an unfinished project.

Deer & Doe Plantain Raglan hackIn this case, I never made it past the cutting and marking stage. I realized that I cut part of the front wrong, and set it aside to figure that one out. And then I lost interest in the pattern altogether. So this made it the perfect (and only) clothing candidate for both The Monthly Stitch’s UFO theme, and the Stashbusting Sewalong’s scrapbusting theme. After all, those pieces were mostly pretty small.

The original pattern was something Vogue. I don’t remember the number. It was a fitted enough top that I didn’t think it would fit my post-baby body in the size that was cut out, so I threw it away.  I do still love this print, though. I mean, turquoise, teal and purple? That is right in my ocean colored wheelhouse. The largest pieces were the raglan sleeves, and size-wise, they matched up pretty closely with the Deer & Doe Plantain tee. So I decided to give hacking that pattern into a raglan a go. IMG_3584

Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out! I had a smallish piece of teal rayon jersey (oddly, left over from my other Plantain tee), which I used to fill in the main part of the body. I did decide to break up the front some so I could feature the print more, and trying to accommodate that did make things a little less symmetrical than I’d probably like. But I do think this is definitely one of my most successful pattern hacks yet!

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If I were to further alter this version, just for my future reference, I do think I’d change a few things:

  • The sleeve should probably extend a little more into the back. This was just all I had to work with.
  • A little more width at the bottom probably wouldn’t hurt, if it was long sleeved. Fortunately, my wrists are skinny enough to accommodate the overall lack of give in this cotton jersey.
  • I guess I should probably consider starting to add a swayback adjustment to my knits, yeah?

IMG_3566I did finish this on the 25th, just in time to wear it on my birthday. So it still counts towards participating in both themes, I think! And I do still have enough scraps left that I think I can try to squeeze a lingerie experiment out, finally. I even printed some Seamwork patterns off to do so, but then I discovered that it printed too small. So I’ll need to retrace those. Which means I’m probably going to push that off for another month or so while I try to knock out some seasonal transitional clothing… oh, look, another UFO!

And, yeah, I know these aren’t fitting well with my attempts to follow along with the Better Pictures Project. Stupid portrait mode, insisting on flash. But this was the best I could do while leaving Hobbit fenced in on the floor, with a dog who was very insistent on helping, and stuck inside to supervise them both (along with the not-pictured goldie.)

la vie en rose

Appleton DressSo, finishing a red dress around the middle of February– how cliche is that? I don’t even like Valentine’s Day! But I wanted to try this pattern out as a winter dress, and the stashed fabric that was the best fit just happened to fall into this color scheme. So walking stereotype it is.

The pattern is the Appleton dress, from Cashmerette Patterns. Look at me, jumping on a bandwagon before it’s been long gone for once! I’ll admit that super easy nursing access was my main motivation. I’m assuming it will be ok, but I haven’t field-tested that yet. I made the smallest size that the pattern offered, so I’m not sure how well it will work if/when I lose those last 5 or so pounds, but I guess the beauty of a wrap dress is that it’s adjustable, right?

It’s a fairly simple pattern, though making it wasn’t entirely without issues. For one thing, I somehow managed to reverse the direction it was supposed to wrap in. Let’s blame sleep deprivation for that one. But I just reversed everything else and it worked out fine. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that my sewing machine just absolutely hates ITY knits. You probably shouldn’t look too closely at the stitching around the neckline. And I had to do a lot of experimenting to come up with a stitch combo that had a minimum of skipping and still gave me the needed stretch for the hems. Scraps of pattern tracing paper ended up being the key to success. Saving up for a coverstitch machine is sounding better and better!

IMG_3491The one adjustment I made to this pattern was lengthening the sleeve to match up with the largest size. The resulting length is still a bit shorter than I’d prefer, even with the narrow hem, so I’ll need to add more if I make a long-sleeved version again. I was also a little disappointed with the width of the under wrap. The bodice is fine, but visions of skirt-related wardrobe malfunctions have been dancing in my head since I first tried it on! So, for my own peace of mind, I’m securing it on the inside with a piece of elastic sewn to the inside seam, with a snap on the other end to attach it to the inner skirt piece. Hopefully that will be enough to keep me from flashing anyone when the wind kicks up. (I did take some pictures, but every single one of them turned out blurry. Ugh.)

IMG_3469(Baby boy was getting fussy, so this was the point in the photoshoot where I had to pick him up to calm him down.) I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this fabric pairing with it. The ITY works great, stitching issues aside. It’s really more the print, and specifically how it looks on me. I can’t quite shake the fear that it looks a little matronly, which is certainly not how I want to feel when my birthday is a couple of weeks away! Admittedly, this brick/peachy-coral/grey color scheme is almost the opposite of the blue-green everything that usually catches my eye. And the print is essentially giant roses, which are also not the sort of floral that I usually go for. This was one of the four “coupons” pieces I brought back from Paris about a year and a half ago, and even then, I was questioning what was attracting me to it so strongly. I’d just gone through the whole Wardrobe Architect challenge, and made my color palettes, and this just mostly doesn’t fit with that. Maybe Paris was messing with my head? But it came home with me nonetheless. And at least it didn’t linger too long in my stash, at least by my standards.

I really hope I have a finished project that I feel better about before too long. It really feels like I’ve had more ambivalence than hits lately. It’s a little frustrating.