catching up

I have two projects to share today.

My goal for Me Made May was to focus on the making end of things, and specifically to experiment on using up some scraps and refashion bin items. In typical fashion, I overestimated how much I might be able to handle, and pulled out probably 5-6 options so I could follow my whims. And then I only sewed one thing. But I am pleased with how it turned out, and I needed an easy win.

It’s the Pony tank by Chalk and Notch, which I already made twice last year. (Though I only recently got to check the fit without the baby bump!) I made this one two-tone to use up some remnants. I’m pretty sure the black was from my nursing tank, and the coral was a piece that I snagged from my mom’s leftovers.

I didn’t have quite enough of the black to cut it as a full piece, so I pieced it together at the straps. My original plan was to make it so either side could be the front, so I cut it with the v on both sides. I also originally intended to make the black side solid, but I underestimated how much extra length I’d need to add for the extra v. And even though I pieced both that and the armholes, I didn’t even have enough left to add to that! So I recut it with the coral. Aside from the “design details”, the construction was straightforward, with the main difficulty being my usual kid-related time constraints.

Speaking of the kids, the other project was for my daughter. This is the Lucy dress, by Peekaboo Pattern Shop. It’s a simple little dress, but it took me several months to make. I added appliques from the leftover lace from my wedding dress to make it extra special, since I was planning to use this as her baptism dress, and I had to hand stitch those down. I also changed the hem to a faced one, to protect the stitching inside. Whether I can actually use it for her baptism is TBD, since my church hasn’t been able to reopen yet. And that admittedly slowed me down, just like with the chambray dress, since I was mentally struggling with that probability.

Aside from the lace, I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash, so the rest of this was part of my one fabric purchase this year. The fabric is the “Manchester” cotton from Kaufman, and it’s a lovely textured yarn- dyed shirting. I ended up buying a couple extra yards of the blue, and still have quite a bit of the minimum order yard of white left over. I’m not really sure what to do with it yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Eventually.

Since then, I’ve been slowly chipping away at a rather basic knit project. My sewjo is pretty nonexistent right now, between current events weighing on my mind, coming off another round of sudden unemployment (for my husband, the pandemic has destroyed the little bit of flute teaching that I had left), baby sleep regression, and trying to plan for the upcoming school year. (Today is my oldest son’s birthday, and I’m wondering how I already have a kindergartener!) It’s hard to not feel guilty about not sewing much, when I look in my closet and see the shelves of fabric waiting to turn into fun new projects. But I’ve been in this place of extended lack of sewing motivation before, going into my senior year of college with multiple stress factors happening at once. I think it’s safe to say this year qualifies! So it’ll come back. Eventually.

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.

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.)

where my wild things are

As much as I used to dream during my first pregnancy of making adorably elaborate Halloween costumes for my kids, I think I’ve settled into realism. And the facts are:

  1. So far, my boys’ idea of dress-up is “stick a scrap of fabric on my head and say I’m a pirate”. (This literally happened on the day I started writing this post.) We have a very select few thrifted dress up items, and they never get used.
  2. Sewing time is hard to come by.
  3. I just don’t have time to make one-wear items right now.

So this is the story of a lot of plans getting mostly simplified.

20181031_132014Hobbit is completely obsessed with dinosaurs. It’s lasted over half of his life so far. Padawan is pretty much into just taking whatever toy his brother is most interested in at the moment (ah, the joys of toddlers), so I haven’t picked up on any particular preferences. So my original thought was to make Hobbit a dinosaur costume and dress the little guy up as a Jurassic Park ranger or something. I even have a sewing pattern for a dinosaur costume. But the time just seemed to get away from me, so I decided to go the route of a Halloween costume that could be worn over and over again, to make it more worthwhile. I’d been hoarding this coat pattern from Twig + Tale for a year or so (it was called the Wild Things coat when I downloaded it, though it seems to have been changed to the tamer “Animal Coat” since then), and knew I wanted to make it before the boys were old enough to think Mom is being lame for trying to dress them like that. Deciding to make the dinosaur version for Hobbit was a no-brainer. Padawan took a little more consideration. I have a pants-length of a khaki-ish corduroy that is completely outside of the colors that I generally wear, so my initial plan was to estimate the yardage and dye it to whatever colors I needed, and I figured I might be able to get a decent fox color out of that. As you can see, this plan also did not happen, also mostly due to time, but also because my opinionated 3-year old was adamant that he wanted his coat to be in his favorite color. The best red I could probably dye with that base would be rust. Also, fleece is generally very easy care, which is always important for kids. But I did stick with the fox.

After I decided to go outside of the stash and get some fleece, things proceeded more smoothly (aside from the only orange fleece available being basically neon. But at least I won’t lose Padawan in the woods.) I lined both coats with flannel, since my hope is that they’ll be warm enough to get from the car into buildings, and the coats aren’t so bulky that they’re dangerous for the far seat. No, they will not be playing in the snow with these, assuming we even get any, because Mid-Atlantic winters are unpredictable that way. I also did bust a tiny bit of stash by adding some lining fabric onto the top of the sleeves, so they’ll slide more easily over shirts and such. I didn’t go all the way down, because the sleeves are purposely sized long to make turned-up cuffs. Also, the instructions specify that the coats and sleeves are both on the longer side, with the idea that a child should be able to get at least two years’ worth of wear out of the same coat. I really appreciated that they built growth considerations into the design and made it so it can last longer!

20181031_130820Another thing I like about this company: They make stuff that’s also for BOYS. It’s honestly ridiculous how hard it is to find sewing patterns for boys compared to girls, but everything I’ve seen from them is pretty gender-neutral. And a lot of animal themed stuff, and what kid doesn’t like that?

20181031_130634Anyway, here’s a slightly more in-depth review, since this was my first time making one of their patterns. Construction was straightforward, and aside from some page-flipping to jump around to the different directions, since some skipping is necessary depending on what animal is made, I didn’t have any trouble following the directions. Probably the most difficult part was the dinosaur spikes*, mainly because I had to do a little extra work and seaming to get everything where it was supposed to go, and the directions didn’t entirely reflect that. I didn’t have any trouble figuring that out, but a more beginner sewist might need that clarification.

*The other difficulty was having to go back later after I’d finished the coat and rip the  back spikes apart, trim down the fleece scraps I used to help them stand up better, and hand-stitch them back together. But that’s not the pattern’s fault, that’s Hobbit being difficult about wearing it in the car. The spikes were a little bulky at the tips, since they were two layers of flannel and one of fleece, so I guess I can see how that would bother him. But still. Frustrating.

20181031_131049Trying to figure out how to close these coats up took some consideration. There are some nice instructions for some loops to go around large buttons, but getting these two to stay still long enough to actually work a buttonhole is a feat of Herculean proportions. So after some discussion with my usual sewing sounding board (aka my mom), I settled on giant snaps with buttons on the outside for the aesthetic. It does make closing the coat very quick, which is helpful, since the whole process of getting shoes and coats and all the other things together to get out of the house usually involves at least one wrestling match and/or high speed chase! #boymomproblems

20181031_130457I know Hobbit likes the coat, at least outside of the car, because the couple times we’ve been to a playground since I made it have generally included a lot of stomping and showing off his roar and telling everyone that he’s a T. Rex. (Though he did make a point of telling me early in the process that T. Rexes didn’t really have spikes. Part of me wishes now that I’d left those off, but I doubt the tail alone would have conveyed the dinosaur element.) Padawan just doesn’t like putting a coat on, but so far, it doesn’t seem to bother him once he’s outside, most of the time. The tail is admittedly a little long for him, since he’s on the small side for his age, but hopefully he’ll grow into it soon. And so far, they’ve gotten a ton of compliments on their coats, at least from adults that we run into. Overall, I’m feeling good about our little everyday wearable costumes. And I’m glad that Halloween turned out to be a pretty nice day weather-wise, so I could get these photos while letting them burn off some energy in my parents’ backyard!

in which I make a bunch of kid stuff

Once again, I’ve fallen behind on the blogging! So I figured I’d knock out two projects at once. Really four projects, because I made one of each of them for both of my boys, but still.

IMG_6145The first project was the main gift in each of their Easter baskets this year. The “Kid City” play mat pattern from Peekaboo Patterns came out near the end of last year, and I just could not resist. Here, you can see them tucked into their Easter baskets (my mom made them the baskets, I wanted some small ones that we could reuse every year), along with a book each and an age-appropriate snack.

So what do they look like?

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Hobbit has had an increasing obsession with all things dinosaur since he was 18 months old. So of course I had to make him a dinosaur house. The inside has a batik print fabric that I thought had a prehistoric lava filled cave look to it, and I painted the fold out part with plants and a lake so his dinosaurs can drink.

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The outside is painted with shrubs and palm trees and a volcano to make a little prehistoric world.

IMG_6442It’s a little early to tell what Padawan is into, but he seems to be gravitating towards cars and trucks. So I made him a construction site house. This is what the outside looks like…

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…and I modeled the inside after the artwork in “Good Night Good Night Construction Site”, which has been a favorite book.

If I was making them again, I think I’d add a little batting over the plastic canvas to have the fabric sit over it better. It was listed on the instructions as optional, but it probably shouldn’t be. I also had to hand stitch a lot more than it called for, because there were so many different colors involved that I didn’t want obvious misses on the “stitch in the ditch” directions to close up the canvas inside. Aside from that, and just the time it took to paint, it really wasn’t hard to put together, and I could see myself using this pattern again sometime, if circumstances call for it. (Future hobbit house, maybe?) This was also a really good scrapbuster! Everything except the construction truck fabric and the red fabric for the roof of that house was already in my stash. The checked fabric for the night sky was left over from the lining of a bag I made ages ago, probably back in college. The cloud fabric was left over from my flamingo wrap skirt. The batik was some random scrap from my mom, the solid green was from the baby play gym, and I forget where the brown was from, but it was there. I didn’t entirely use up any piece of fabric, but every little bit helps.

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The other thing I made for them recently was their shirts!  This is the Ringer tee from Brindille & Twig, which is a free pattern! I got the dog print a couple of Christmasses ago, specifically to make boy clothes, and figured I should use it before the boys outgrew the single yard I had. I needn’t have worried, since I was easily able to get two entire shirts out, and still have about a third of a yard left! Here’s Hobbit being a very good model. It was really gratifying that when they woke up from the naptime that I finished sewing these during, and I told him I’d finished up his new doggie shirt, he insisted that he and his brother should wear them right away! I made him the size 3-4, since he’s currently wearing 3T in RTW.

IMG_6433 This is about the best shot I could get of my less cooperative model. He’s walking now, and will not stay still, so every single picture I took of him blurred in some way. This was one of the best ones. Anyway, Padawan is on the small side for his age, and is still pretty firmly in 9-12 month clothes, despite being close to 13 months old now. But I made him the 18 month size so he could at least wear it through the summer. It definitely has room to grow, but isn’t ridiculously huge on him.

It was a really easy pattern to sew, especially since I could construct it entirely on my serger. I did do a little bit of hand basting just to get the intersection of the side and sleeve seams to line up correctly, because it always seems to shift on my serger no matter how much I pin. That worked out well, so I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and do that on my knit projects from now on. The only issue I had was that I accidentally sewed the neck ribbing on Padawan’s shirt backwards, so that the seam is in the front, but I don’t think I’ll bother to fix it since he doesn’t seem bothered by it. The pattern goes up to size 6T, so I’ll very likely use it again. It’s a bit of a looser cut than the Ottobre pattern that I tried out, which I think they’ll probably like better. Their daddy likes his shirts oversized, and they seem to like things a little looser too. And I liked that I didn’t have to fiddle with coverstitching such a tiny sleeve opening on Padawan’s shirt in particular! I do have some of the black ribbing left over, and another yard of boy-friendly print fabric that would coordinate, so maybe I’ll tackle that one next year or something.

This probably won’t be the last of my sewing for the boys this year. I have an adorable coat pattern that I’m itching to sew up for each of them, before they get old enough to be self conscious about wearing animal coats. And Hobbit keeps asking me to make him a Tyrannosaurus Rex costume. Guess I know what I’m doing for Halloween this year…

Top 5 Hits and Misses

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

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

nursing bras

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

Cake Espresso Leggings

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

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

Matcha and shorts

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

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

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

Now, for the not so good projects…

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

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

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

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

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

A Harry Potter Halloween

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

Seriously, my boys are the cutest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ease into Motherhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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