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.

This took forever

It really did feel like it! I started this dress way back in February, intending for it to be part of the Sewcialists’ Denim month. Clearly, I should not try to sew clothes for challenges with deadlines during my current life stage. It took me over 3 months to make this thing.

This is Simplicity 8830, a shirtdress and tunic designed by Mimi G. I’ve been wanting a simple chambray dress that could be styled in different ways for awhile, and genuinely needed something new and nursing-friendly that I could wear to church. (You know, a long time ago when we could actually go places and be around people.) I thought the fit on this one would be pretty forgiving while my body is still trying to figure out where it wants to settle after this last pregnancy.

Things started off well on this one. I genuinely enjoy projects that have a lot of nice details, so I was having fun with all of the topstitching. I did initially change a few things on purpose. Aside from my usual inch added on the sleeves, I borrowed the yoke instructions and sleeve tab from the Itch to Stitch Mila shirt that I made right before this, so that I could enclose the yoke with my contrast fabric and give the sleeves a good roll when I want them to. I also decided to do bias bound seams on the sleeves for that same reason. I used a scrap of blue floral quilt cotton for the binding, the inside of the collar/ pocket flaps/ yoke facing, the in seam pockets, the facing for the epaulets, and had enough bias binding left to make a narrow faced hem. It was part design decision, but I really ran out of the stashed chambray that I’d chosen, and so I had very little fabric left over from either piece!

I did run into an issue with the fitting. It took some serious thought to choose a size to sew, because the ease given was ridiculous. My current measurements for the big 4 put me in an 18, but I sized down to a 16 so I wouldn’t end up with 8″ of ease around my chest. I really wish that the pattern had given the finished hip measurement as well as the bust. After I sewed the side seams and tried it on to figure out the button placement, it barely pinned together over my hips! I had just enough in my chambray scraps to cut two wedges out, which I inserted from just above the side pockets to the hem to give it a little more of an A line shape. That didn’t show up that great in any of my pictures, but I wanted that to blend in, so mission accomplished?

I do remember having to add a similar wedge in the last time I made a woven McCall’s pattern, so I guess grading up a size or two in my hips is going to have to be my thing now. But seriously, I could have avoided that whole process if they’d just given that one extra finished measurement.

A closer up of the contrast fabric, in the hem.

Aside from the fitting, this dress suffered from a severe loss of sewing motivation. I was working through all of those topstitching details when the world started shutting down, and once the hip issue showed up, my sewing slowed to a snail’s pace. Part of it was just the usual kid stuff, like the baby is teething and not always easy to get to sleep. But I thought that, without my usual 1-2 rehearsals during the week, I’d be sewing more. That hasn’t been the case.

It took me several weeks to realize that making this dress, as well as the baby dress that I’ve been hand- embellishing on the side, was suddenly making me sad. I don’t know when I’ll actually get to wear it, because I don’t feel like I’m in a place right now where I can dress up, even in a casual piece like this, to just stay home. My life at home is messy, with baby spit-up and purees, and a sticky-handed toddler. (I guess he’s kind of a preschooler now, since he turned 3 recently.) There’s been lots of extra baking, since bread supplies aren’t reliable and homemade bread is a comforting thing. My older boy wants to do crafts and science experiments often, which is good, but still messy. And there hasn’t been anything that I normally dress nicer for, like church activities or music lessons. So I’ve mostly been living in graphic tees and jeans/ stretchy pants. I couldn’t even be bothered to dress for Me Made May this year, since there is only so many ways one can style already-pilling gray Hudson pants.

I think that I’m having a little bit of a sewing identity crisis. I know that we’ll get back to going to church, hopefully sooner rather than later, because streaming services for months has turned out to be a sad substitute. What is more questionable is my music life. I’ve read reports on how vocal groups probably won’t be able to meet again until a cure or vaccine is found, and the flute is very similar in air production. Plus, unlike all of the other wind instruments, you blow across the mouthpiece instead of in, so it’s the most difficult wind instrument to contain. So I don’t know what this means for my community orchestra. I don’t know if my teaching will recover, since my student count had already taken a huge hit during my last pregnancy due to students graduating or just being too overwhelmed with school activities. (Oh, the irony.) So all that I had was two students left, and Zoom lessons weren’t great for either situation for various reasons. We had already decided to continue homeschooling in the fall, since preschool with my oldest has been working out well. So I’m wondering, if I’m “just” a stay at home mom now, what do I sew?

I’m doing an experiment during May that I hope will help. And I know that better fitting jeans are a wardrobe hole. But I may need to seriously rethink how I’m going to use my fabrics now.

A decade in review

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

Burdastyle 5/2009, #110

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

A multi-Burda hack job

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

My first jeans!

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

The biggest sewing project of my life!

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

Vogue peacoat

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

Maternity, or not maternity?

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

Cashmerette Appleton dress

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

Jalie Vanessa pants

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

McCall’s 7350

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

Grainline Archer

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

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

2019 top 5: Highlights

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

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

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

 

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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No, there’s too much. Let me sum up.

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

the best-laid plans…

Oh, hi, internet! So you remember that great sewing plan I had for the winter? Well, it’s pretty much out the window by this point. The one thing I did manage to do out of my Seasonal Sew 3 was the Grainline Archer shirt that I’d already been putting off for 2 years, but wow, getting it to happen was a massive struggle.

The main reason? Guess what… pretty much as soon as I posted that plan, I found out that I’m pregnant again. And so far, this has mostly been a repeat of the first pregnancy where I was sick all the time, except now I’ve also got two active boys to watch, so I don’t have the luxury of spending extra hours nursing myself in bed. So between the nausea and the fatigue, I just haven’t had it in me to sew much at all so far this year. But I really wanted to try to get this shirt done while I still fit into the jeans that coordinate with this best (which ended up not happening), so here I am.

20190221_083824I did make a few changes, after a careful examination of my previous Archer. Like I added about 3/4″ to each seam on the hips, and I shrank down the sleeve cuffs because those last ones were ridiculous. I used a RTW flannel that I liked the sleeve fit on as a guideline, and ended up taking something like an entire inch out of the cuff, and then tapering the sleeves down from the seam allowance to fit. I can only push these up to a little below my elbow when buttoned now, instead of fully over it, so I think it went much better. While I feel like I could stand to add some length in here, as I like my shirts on the longer side, I’m overall much happier with the fit this time!

img_20190106_152940This shirt almost got derailed right at the beginning. I thought I was being very careful about the plaid matching, even cutting the front single layer and lining the second piece up with the first on the fabric. But somehow, it got shifted off just enough to be super obvious in the front. After some panicked Instagramming and some good suggestions (thanks, ladies!), I managed to salvage it by trimming a little off the shoulder seam on one side, and evening out the front hem. Somehow, the plaid still matched at the armhole and side seams, so I have no idea what happened, unless I just blame it on early pregnancy brain.

20190221_083903From there, it was pretty smooth sailing, for the most part. I suppose that being forced to slow down and really take my time with this shirt was not the worst thing in the world, since I was able to focus on being really precise. I did run out of thread just before the buttonholes, and discovered that Gutermann apparently changed the number codes, because the same number thread was not the same shade of teal at all! Thankfully, I suspected something was off in the store, and bought two more spools of other shades as backups. It’s not like I won’t use them at some point, since teal is basically a neutral for me. I think I probably could have made the buttonholes a little larger, but I can still button it all right. So even though this ended up taking the entire winter, at least I have a nice, cozy, nursing-friendly top for this fall! It’s the Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel, in the “Lagoon” color, and it’s so thick and luscious. I want to make all my flannel stuff out of this now, even if the thickness did make some of the buttonholes a pain.

20190221_083900And at least the shirt itself fits, for now. The baby bump showed up pretty quickly this time, I guess because this is the third time, and I was forced back into my maternity pants around 8 weeks. I think I took these photos around 10 weeks, but it’s taken a little while to get some editing/writing time! So I’m right on the cusp of the second trimester now. Hopefully I’ll manage to get back into the mustardy gold jeans that I have by the end of the year, because I think they’d be great for styling with this shirt.

Coming soon: The new, revised sewing plan for the next few months. Because guess what… I actually legitimately need maternity clothes, believe it or not.

 

Sewing Top 5: the 2018 misses

This was a little tough for me this year. Honestly, I feel like I’ve had a good sewing year overall, and even the things that weren’t 100% the way I wanted them still got worn multiple times. And I don’t want to be the person who’s critically nitpicking apart my own projects, you know? But here’s what I do wish had gone a little better this year.

2018-03-03_08-55-56 1. Taking time for muslins. My Easter Deer & Doe Reglisse dress was wearable, and I’m actually really happy with how my hacks went (lengthening the skirt and adding pockets!) But there were some fitting issues around the armholes, and they’re a little deeper than I would like. I was sewing this on a deadline for the Day & Night dress challenge, so I didn’t feel like I had time to test anything out, but if I had taken that time, it might have resulted in a better dress. I still wear this during the warmer weather, but I might need to take a second look at that area and see if I can fix it.

 

 

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2. Notions sourcing, specifically for my swimsuit. Again, I was overall happy with this project, particularly the shorts. The only foam cups I could get around here were awful, though. I couldn’t figure out how to sew them into the meshy pockets, the shape of the stiff foam was completely unnatural, and they were a real pain to deal with whenever I washed the suit. I’m coming to find that I’m having trouble finding even notions that I need at Joann’s, as they’ve been cutting back on buttons and trims and such. It makes me sad, as it’s literally my only sewing store around. As for this suit, I did find an older swimsuit with softer sew-in cups that I can recycle, if I can just figure out how to stitch them in. At this point, my only guess is to put the swimsuit on inside out and literally hand-sew them to the mesh so I can mold it to myself. Which means it’ll probably wait until a warm spring day next year, because I can not sit around in a strappy top during the winter.

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3. Leaving room for my hips. Oh, hi, Akita! (I had to get at least one picture of this on my own blog, since this was from a Sewcialists post.) To be honest, this wasn’t really so much of an issue for my from-scratch projects this year, as I’ve gotten better at blending between sizes. But for my refashions lately, it’s like I’m forgetting that my hips are a full 3″ bigger than they were before childbirth, and it’s not looking like they’re ever going to go back. The print camouflages it well, but I ended up having to go back and insert a triangle in the sides to give myself a bit of extra room, despite checking the pattern sizing. I had a similar problem with this top, though I used basically the entire width of the print fabric so there really wasn’t much I could do. It’s wearable, but a little more snug in that area than ideal. So that’s something I’ll need to do a better job of factoring in.

4. Overplanning. This is honestly something I do in every area of my life– I always think that I can do more than I have time for. And then I get really down on myself for how lazy and unproductive I must be. Yes, I could probably do better on things like actually cleaning something instead of scrolling Instagram, but a big chunk of this is just my life stage, and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. As far as sewing goes, this manifested in pulling out more patterns than I’d have time for in a season, planning projects for challenges that I didn’t even have time to start, and in a few cases, not actually finishing a project until the season it was wearable in had passed. Lately, I’ve been feeling like it’s ok to cut back and slow down and try to simplify things, especially since I’m in a season where I really do need to focus more on things like building relationships with my kids (and making sure they’re not scribbling on the walls while I’m distracted.) So while I did pretty well with things like my Make 9 board, as long as I stick with having switched a dress hack out for the jeans, I’m seriously wondering if this might not be a bad year to skip that long-range planning and just focus on something more like the Seasonal Sew 3. And then I can just focus on what I need or want to make now, rather than tying myself to a list that might not end up working for me.

Hmm… I think I’ll just leave it at 4, actually. Because the only thing I can think of for #5 is maybe keeping my sewing closet neater, but let’s be honest, that will probably never happen!

Next up, my favorite of the roundups: Goals!!! (Though, due to #4, I’ve been having trouble evaluating that. And I’d really like to see what sewing goodies I get for Christmas before I try to do any actual sewing plans. 🙂

Sewing Top 5: Real life highlights

It’s the year end roundup season again, hosted as always by the fabulous Gillian! This is an odd one to start with for me, but since I’m in the middle of a project, I’d like to reserve judgment on my best and worst makes of the year. So instead, here’s what has been occupying my (mostly) real life in 2018.

20180507_1927431. The Two Toddlers. (Can you tell I’m on a Lord of the Rings bender again? Technically, I guess Hobbit is really more of a preschooler than a toddler now, but since he started this year as a 2 1/2 year old, I’m going to roll with it.) Seriously, it has been a lot of fun to watch their personalities and relationship with each other growing this year. Hobbit is super-chatty and enthusiastic about learning, especially when dinosaurs are involved! We’ve actually slowly been starting to work on learning letters and numbers since the summer, starting with the ones in his name, and he’s been doing very well with it so far. I even caught him writing the first letter on our chalkboard wall downstairs recently, so not bad at all for a 3 year old! As for Padawan, it’s crazy to think that at the beginning of this year, he was just starting to pull himself to standing, and 12 months later, he’s not only running and climbing all over everything (so much climbing!), but he’s also starting to put together two word sentences. They mostly play very well together, aside from when one of them has a toy the other wants, so I’m thankful for that.

2. Facing challenges. While I wouldn’t exactly call this a highlight, it was a major part of our family life this fall. We found out at the beginning of October that the banking corporation that my husband works for would be outsourcing his job to India, and he would therefore be laid off in 45 business days. It was a scary prospect, especially the thought of losing our health insurance with two young and very active kids. But the whole experience really did help to strengthen our faith in God as a family, and it was good to see how our families and closest friends were so willing to step up to help, both by praying and with some financial support. Doug worked his tail off applying for everything he could find in the area that he thought he was remotely qualified for, and had a string of interviews, and even considered a major career change (trying out for the police). In the end, he got hired back for a different position at the same bank, in just enough time that he was able to end his old position on the last day and start at his new one the following Monday. And he even got a raise! Plus the process of getting ready for the physical test that he was required to take before being accepted for police training did make him take a very serious look at his health habits, which I think will be beneficial for both of us in the long run. I can hardly ever motivate myself to exercise, because frankly, I hate it. But I think if it’s something we’re able to do together or as a family, it’ll be easier to take care of myself, too.

20170122_162433The other sad/challenging event in the fall was having to put one of our golden retrievers to sleep. We discovered back in April that he had a tumor growing in his leg, and it was already huge enough that there wasn’t anything we could do, other than make his last months as comfortable as we could. I’ve lost pets before, but I’d never been in the room, and that was really hard. (I’m tearing up just writing this, and it was 3 months ago already.) So we’re a one dog family now. Hobbit still comments out of the blue that he wishes we could get Malkin back, which is so sad.

3. Sewing community involvement. It’s sometimes hard not to feel isolated from it when you’re not a very prolific blogger, or you can’t participate in challenges, or even sew the new popular pattern that everyone is making. But I did get to do a few things this year that I’m proud of. Like participating in Elizabeth’s Day and Night dress challenge, and Instagram challenges like #sewphotohop and #bpsewvember. I also got to write a guest post for the Sewcialists blog (something I didn’t think I’d be able to do, since I am ridiculously average by sewing community standards), and even got a response read on the Love to Sew podcast! (The Sewing Struggles episode, if you’re curious.)

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4. My reading life. Reading was my first hobby love before sewing was even an option due to my age, so I spend a lot of time being torn between the two. It hasn’t been quite as much of an issue this year, since I’ve gotten greater audiobook access, between LibriVox classics, library app loans, and when a good friend with similar taste granted me access to listen to her Audible account. (Though now the issue is distraction by podcasts and music!) I also had the opportunity to join a book club this year, mostly made up of women from my church, Though I wasn’t able to attend every meeting, I think it went a long way towards both diversifying my reading and helping me finally start making some better friends there (always a challenge for a shyer introvert). There was only one book I disliked, and several that I ended up continuing the series on my own, or plan to when I can. I’m ending the year with a Tolkien reread, since that’s a comfort book for me and it was a hard autumn. I’m feeling pretty good about how many books I was able to read on my own, on top of the many, many picture books!

20180707_1043155. Outdoor adventures. So you know how I just said that I hate exercise? Hiking is the exception. Doug and I decided to start a tradition with the kids early on where one of their Christmas gifts is an experience instead of a thing. We weren’t sure how to handle it last year with a toddler and baby, so we got a state parks pass, because being outside is good for everybody. It ended up being a good choice! We did some family hikes, attempted paddleboating (we’re saving the next attempt for when the boys are older!), and discovered a new to us beach park that was actually amazing, and we wished we’d gone earlier in the summer. We’re not doing that as the experience gift this Christmas, but I am planning to get the parks pass again for next year so we can do more exploring!

I think that pretty much sums it up! I’m still involved in music things, of course, like the community orchestra and the flute choir (though I’m taking a hiatus from the latter at the beginning of the year, because the next concert is scheduled for the day of Padawan’s birthday and I’m not missing that entire weekend with him.) And I’ve kind of rediscovered one of my older hobbies this year, as I’ve been teaching myself digital scrapbooking on a dinosaur version of Photoshop Elements. It’s actually made it so I’m starting to catch up again, because it’s so much easier to sit down for 15 minutes and work digitally than to haul out tempting glue and scissors with the boys around. I’m actually very strongly considering doing one of those 100 days challenges early in the year to knock some more out! I’ve also discovered a site that lets me download 5 free supplies every day, and does monthly themes where people who enjoy designing create digital papers and stuff that they give away for free! All of that stuff except the zoo pictures came from there. I’m thinking that redoing my blog header may have to be a thing next year, now that I’m starting to get the hang of this better. I don’t share about scrapbooking much on here anymore, but here’s a recent page that I’m proud of, from a morning we spent at a zoo with Doug’s family over the summer.

2018-07 Cape May Zoo 2

So that’s it! I’m looking forward to reading about more of what’s been going on with all of you this year!

Summer pajamas, just in time for fall

Most of my August sewing time was dedicated to the continued restocking of my pajamas. My lightweight ones were getting particularly ratty, as they bore the brunt of both third trimesters and the most frequent nighttime nursing sessions. So I made myself two new sets, featuring some of my favorite things!

20180830_075432Since I’d already worked out the fitting adjustments for the Closet Case Carolyn pants back in the winter, I figured I’d keep rolling with that. Plus they have pockets. So I just copied the exact same backside adjustment when tracing out the shorts, and went for it for both pairs.

For the first set I finished, the most challenging part was forgetting to sew the back piece to the cuffs and having to unpick it. Oops. But it had also been awhile since I’d done a project with piping, so it was good to refresh my memory on how to handle that. The fabric is a quilting cotton that my mom gifted me last Christmas specifically for this purpose, with tea mugs all over.

20180830_075428The accompanying shirt is the tank version of the Sew Liberated Stasia tee, which I’d wanted to test anyway. I was hoping that I could have this one do double duty for wearing in public, since basic color tank tops are something I’ve found myself lacking in this summer. But alas, while this (rayon?) jersey knit is super comfortable to wear, it just didn’t have the right recovery, and adding the binding to the armholes stretched them out. You can see it a little better on the left side of the picture. Pajamas it is. That being said, I’m quite happy with the results otherwise, and will have to try this again with a less drapey knit. I think it just might be the basic tank pattern I’ve been looking for! I really seriously considered adding a stencil to the tee with a cute tea-related slogan, but it reached the point where I just needed to get it done.

20180831_090744For the second set, I made the Carolyn pajama top, which was new to me. It seems to fit very well straight out of the envelope (I made a size 14). The only changes I made were doing 4 buttons instead of 5 (I misplaced one during the sewing process and couldn’t find another in the stash to match), and swapping out the trim.

Flute pajamas close-up

When I went to Joann’s, they were completely out of white piping, and I didn’t want to spend my precious sewing time making plain piping. So I bought rickrack instead. It might have been too cutesy little girl on another fabric, but I think that it ended up complimenting my funky flutes well! The resulting scallops echoed the keyhole shapes in several flutes on the print very nicely.

20180831_090819Since this was a project I made in my mom’s sewing room and I didn’t want to rethread her serger, I did take the time on this set to finish the insides very nicely– French seams and hand stitching the facing to the shoulder seams and such. It’s another quilting cotton, and I was wearing this overnight before I took the pictures, which is why it’s a little wrinkled. It’s a very comfortable shirt to wear, though I generally prefer tees for sleeping. I’m actually quite tempted to try making one in a regular shirting fabric for everyday wear, though if I ever do that, I’ll definitely have to do something about that pooling in the back. The width across the back is good, though, so I don’t think it would be an issue for when I’m actually playing the flute and not just wearing them!

I’ve started my fall sewing now, but it’s still warm enough around here that I am getting at least some use out of these pajamas this season. I don’t think I’m quite done with this pattern yet, as I could use a pair of pajama pants that are lighter weight than flannel but warmer than shorts. But since I have other things to make that need to take higher priority, I seriously doubt I’ll get to it this year!

On a more personal note, since our two golden retrievers liked to photobomb me on here fairly regularly, it’s only fair to pay tribute to the one we had to put to sleep yesterday. The photo I have further up with the tea pajamas is one of the last ones I have of Malkin (the blonde retriever). We noticed back in April that he had a tumor growing on one of his front legs, but by that point, it was too late to try and do anything about it. So we’d just been trying to make him as comfortable as we could over the last several months. He took a turn for the worse this week, though, so it was time to end his suffering. He’ll be missed greatly, though, especially by Crosby (our redhead retriever) and Doug, who had both of the dogs before he met me. Rest in peace, boy.