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.

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

Back on the jeans wagon!

Jeans have long been a defining staple of my style, and I’ve honestly missed making them (and wearing ones that fit) since the boys came along. So when I saw the Mountain View pull-on jeans by Itch to Stitch— and particularly a tester shot that showed off just how well they don’t gape in the back– I was sold. I haven’t been feeling ready to go through the fitting process for, say, the Ginger jeans that I’ve been hoarding, but elastic waist stretchy jeans? That, my mom bod can handle.

I do have to say, this took a lot longer than I expected. I actually started this project back in August, and intended all along to do a fit check before working on all of the details. But then I heard a Love to Sew podcast episode just after cutting it out where Brooks Ann Camper was talking about hand-sewing and not overly handling the fabric, and kind of on a whim, I decided to hand baste the jeans together. I still think it was the right move, as the denim I used was one that had been sitting in my stash for a few years because it was a lot lighter weight than I wanted. But it does have the 30% stretch that this pattern calls for, so I figured it would be the perfect test fabric. The machine basting and ripping out process probably would have weakened the fabric quite a bit, since I had to make some significant changes.20180917_085635

The back is where it’s the most noticeable. The dark stitching was the original seam lines, and the yellow is the changes I had to make. I ended up having to pull the back in about an extra 1/2″ starting from the back and going through the yoke, and then taking an additional dart in the waistband that is actually in the finished product. I’m going to see if I can smooth that out in future versions. I also ended up changing the rise slightly by reducing the seam allowance between the yoke and the waistband, and while wearing them and sitting down to write this, I think that was a good move.

Additional changes I made: I added a little extra width to the hips (about 1/4″ total, I think), and pulled it in around the knees to give it a little more of a flare effect– bootcut/flare jeans are still my favorite, and the straighter leg that this originally had just looked really baggy and ridiculous on me when I tried it on. A nice feature of these jeans is that there’s an additional back leg seam to help with fitting adjustments, so I was able to take it in at the back of my knee quite easily.

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Once I figured out the fitting changes and adjusted my pattern (look at me, being all smart and doing the adjustments right away, the actual assembly process went quite smoothly. Figuring out what to do with the pockets was a little tricky. I did all of the topstitching in the same color thread with the triple stitch, but I ended up deciding on a design from one of the templates in a free download from Closet Case Patterns. I’ll be honest, the pockets were my one quibble about the instructions for this pattern. The order of assembly on there has the pockets as the last thing, after the legs are all stitched together and the waistband is on, and that seems unnecessarily difficult to me. I went ahead and sewed them just after the center back leg seams, before doing the crotch or inseams or anything, but I can see that being a tricky point if you’re more of a novice in sewing pants.

So are you ready to see the results?

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20181120_080711  Here you go! Overall, I’m pleased with the fit, though I think that maybe I should have made the elastic just a little bit smaller. We’ll see if it ends up bothering me enough to remove the waistband and fix it later. They’re actually quite comfortable for a high rise pant, and the elastic content means it won’t restrict my breathing (crucial when your instrument is a woodwind!)

 

 

 

The back view. I think that in the future, I might move up the back pockets about a half inch or so, because they seem just a little low to me. But look at the flare!! The back seam blends in really well here due to the tone on tone stitching, but I can see that being a fun detail to highlight.

I would definitely make this pattern again, and am now curious about some of the other patterns from this designer. She has some really lovely tops! I do have one other piece of denim in my stash, in the more typical indigo color, that seems to have the right stretch amount for this pattern. But it’s also more narrow than the typical denim, so I’ll have to see if I can tetris it out. Honestly, I think that is probably the most difficult part of this pattern, aside from just working out the fitting– finding the right fabric! It seems like most denims cap out at around 15% stretch, and with the nature of the wide elasticized waistband, I’m not sure that just sizing up a little would be sufficient. So I may have to branch out to some corduroys and twills to see what I can do.

For the record, I’m still planning to try those Ginger jeans at some point, once I’m certain that we’re done with kids and my weight is stable. But this works well to give me my fix now. And I think that the color will help to brighten up my winter wardrobe very nicely! (Now I just need some print tops with this color, because how do I not have this happy turquoise?!)

Also, the other reason that these jeans took longer than expected is because I took a break in the middle, which is not typical for me on a project. But the opportunity came up to write a post for the Sewcialists blog’s Sustainable Sewing theme, which went up yesterday. So if you want to see my latest Refashion Redemption Project piece, go check it out!

Lessons learned from Me-Made May, part 2

I meant to post again 2/3 of the way through, but life kind of got away from me there. So here’s what I wore for the remaining 20ish days of the month:

Days 10-17

Row 1: A Kirsten Kimono Tee and my TARDIS-inspired Cake Hummingbird skirt hack// a purchased geeky tee and my Norwegian Wood Sewaholic Rae // my Alice in Wonderland fabric Sew Liberated Matcha Top with the yet-to-be-blogged Lander shorts // my chambray Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt with some bad-fitting black pants (I had an orchestra concert that day, and had to switch to all RTW later to fit their dress code requirements)

Row 2: take 2 of the Jalie Vanessa pants, a thrifted top, and a refashioned cardigan // another Kirsten Kimono tee and self-drafted skirt // a mildly refashioned (re-embellished, really) tank and a hack of the Deer & Doe Plantain into a cardigan // purchased jacket, thrifted tank, hacked Simplicity 7229 maxi-skirt

Days 18-24

Row 1: me-mended jeans, one of my Peekabook Patterns Uptown nursing camisoles and a thrifted tee // RTW jeans, super-ugly rain boots (men’s were all that fit), a refashioned button-up shirt and my Burda raincoat // an old Simplicity 5595 top from my grad school days (pre-blog), and a recently redyed Sewaholic Rae skirt // a Cashmerette Appleton dress with sleeve hack (same day as the previous, but I had a flute choir concert)

Row 2: a purchased graphic tee and self-drafted maxi skirt from the mid 2000’s (pre-blog) // a refashioned McCall’s 6885 shirt and RTW jeans // a Cake Tiramisu dress // a McCall’s 6559 tank dress, worn backwards (so it would cover my bra. Ugh.)

Days 25-31

Row 1: Take 2 of the Matcha top with RTW shorts // a slightly refashioned tank with the Lander shorts, take 3 // all Sewaholic with a Renfrew tee and my “exploding TARDIS” Rae skirt // trying a new mix with take 2 of both the Kirsten Kimono and the Simplicity maxi-skirt

Row 2: My Belle-inspired Colette Moneta/Cake Tiramisu mashup and refashioned cardi with a me-made infinity scarf // later switched to my new Sew Liberated Stasia tee and a refashioned maxi-skirt for a student recital // another iteration of the McCall’s 6559 tank dress

And now, my thoughts on what I learned. I think that this exercise was so good for me, probably more so than any other year that I’ve participated. This was only my second time doing it since becoming a mom, and it’s been a struggle to both figure out what my style is now and to start making peace with the changes to my shape and size since then. But I think I’m starting to get the hang of what practical needs I have, and just need to figure out how to make them my own style. So here’s my takeaways, aside from what I said in the last post…

My main wardrobe issue is lack of cohesion. Which I think I kind of knew. I don’t necessarily have too many closet orphans, but I do have some separates that definitely aren’t living up to their potential. Since they’re all things I still love, I need to plan some things to mix with them for some new combinations. What surprised me was how many of what I consider to be basics (i.e. pretty much any separate that’s a solid color) only go with only one other thing in my closet. Or one thing plus blue jeans. Which leads me to…

I don’t have to stop making prints! Thank God for that, because those are usually the projects that I get most excited about. I just need to start getting smarter about choosing prints that go with tops or bottoms that I already have in solids, that’s all.

How to not be bored with solids. My usual answer is “add a print”. But I’ve also realized through this that I’m much happier in solids where there’s either an interesting design element or some kind of texture. Like the ombre dyed skirt with all over tone-on-tone embroidery. Or the coral tee with metallic gold dots all over, even though it reads solid in the picture. Or my black Appleton dress with the sleeve detail. I’ll need to figure out how to play this out in the future, because…

I’m still lacking basics. The days that were hardest to dress for were casual days at home. Tank tops were a huge issue, as were tees that weren’t graphic. (On the plus side, I think I did a decent job of dressing up a couple of those geeky tees!) And while I had surprisingly few repeat garments this month, it’s very telling that the main things that got repeated were my very few pants/shorts. I’ve been hesitant to go through the fitting process, given that I’m just barely past nursing and have been trying to exercise more consistently. But the shorts boosted my confidence (I promise I’ll post more about those soon!) I also pretty much jumped on the Itch to Stitch Mountain View pull on jeans as soon as they released a few months ago, and I think that just might be the answer to my jeans-loving prayers for now. So I’d like to give those a try.

Bras are an issue. I struggled with that one a bit. I spent this month going from nighttime nursing only to no nursing at all, but have still had to wear my me-made nursing bras for a good chunk of the month. My Mother’s Day gift this year was allocated money and time to get some new ones, since I literally had only one non-nursing bra that was still wearable. And the store I got the gift card to, as it turned out, had very, very few options in what my size seems to be. As a result, I did end up with a few older makes that didn’t get worn because they couldn’t cover the straps and/or cups for what I had available. I was on the fence about whether to try delving into bra-making more, and I still don’t plan to do it any time soon because of the previous statement. But I think that at some point down the road, I’m going to have to suck it up and really learn to sew my own.

I need to stop wearing colors that I don’t love.  I seem to have settled into two different color palettes — the ocean tones/tropical brights that I love this time of year, and a more brown/olive/earth tones that I favor more in the fall, but it still creeps into my warmer weather clothes. (Plus black, because I’m a musician and all.) If I factor in my usual winter feelings of please anything with color because the entire world is grey and taupe and ugggggggh I hate taupe, I think I’m at the point where I need to just get rid of anything in my stash that doesn’t fall into that, where I can’t dye it into favorite colors submission. Let go of the guilt and make room for things I’ll be excited about sewing.

I landed on a really helpful way to organize my thoughts about my wardrobe holes!
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It’s a screenshot of something I already shared in Instagram, but I can’t seem to get the embed to work on this blog. Basically, I downloaded a free mind mapping app onto my phone, and have been using it to write down ideas for either things I’d like to make and what in my closet they’ll go with, or things I need to go with things already in my closet.

Casual clothes. I know I already said it, but that’s the biggest hole.  I kind of hate much of the athleisure aesthetic, since I’m not personally comfortable with leggings as pants or looking like I’m heading for the gym all the time. But the fact is that I have two rather active toddler boys. And I do need clothes that I can sit on the floor and go to the park and pull out supplies for messier activities without worrying about permanent stains. So I do need to figure out some things there. I finally got the True Bias Hudson pants pattern, and my mom picked up a cute hoodie pattern that I’d like to try. So there’s some possibilities. But what else can I do for stay-at-home mom clothes that still feels like me?

I need a me-made winter clothes challenge. I don’t know if it’ll happen this year. But I always feel like my cold weather wardrobe is so blah, and I’d like to get some similar insights into what I can do to feel better about dressing for my least favorite time of year.

Lessons learned from Me Made May, part 1 (and a new top)

We’re about a third of the way through Me-Made May now, so I thought it would be a good place to recap what I’ve been thinking so far, share what I’ve been wearing, and show off my most recent finished project! Let’s start with the latter, shall we?

Stasia 1 This is the Stasia tee from Sew Liberated. I had it on my Make Nine list for this year, and one of the things I really loved about this pattern as soon as it was released was that it had options for both a tee and a dress. I’m sure that the dress will get made at some point– I have an ITY that’s perfect for the shorter version, and the maxi version has been calling my name since I first laid eyes on it. But since I’m really trying to build up my TNT stash, and the top was the perfect way to test the fit, I figured I’d start there.

Stasia 2 The color is pretty plain vanilla, but one thing I’ve been trying to add to my closet for awhile is a cream tee to go with some of my crazier print skirts, like the Gabriola I’m wearing it with here. This fabric was an unplanned recent purchase at Joann’s. But I loved that it has this faux cable texture, which kept it from feeling too boring in my head, and it was actually thick enough that you can’t see undergarments through it. That is so hard to find in cream. The fabric was easy to work with, coverstitched like a dream, and I was efficient enough with my layout that I have a substantial chunk left. I’m thinking I may have to hack together a hoodie out of remnants at some point, because wouldn’t this make a lovely hood?

Stasia back The tee pattern was really great to work with, too. I finished this in two sessions– one for cutting, and one for sewing in its entirety, so this is a great palate-cleanser sew. I made it as is out of the envelope, aside from I graded up one size between my waist and hips (yeah, I think I’m a little more pear-shaped than I used to be, thanks kids), which I think worked out well for me. The pooling isn’t quite as bad in the back as it looks here, I was kind of twisting for this stance. I like the little scoop in the back. I also think it can easily stand in with my beloved Renfrew and Plantain patterns as a basic, hackable tee without feeling redundant. Also, it can be made as a tank, and I really don’t have a good knit tank pattern, so this tee gives me high hopes for this! I would very much recommend the pattern, and don’t be surprised if you see it popping up again before long. (If nothing else, I have plans and fabric to use it to make a top for some much-needed summer pjs.)

Now, onto Me-Made May…

Days 1-9 collage

Here’s what I’ve been wearing so far, for days 1-9. (Note: I skipped last Saturday, since we were doing yardwork for a big chunk of the day, but I did have two outfits for Sunday.)

Row 1: My Jalie Vanessa pants, a hem-hacked Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee and a thrifted cardigan // a hoodie-hacked Renfrew with thrifted jeans // a maxi-fied Cake Tiramisu dress

Row 2: My new True Bias Lander shorts (not yet blogged, but hopefully will be soon) and a RTW graphic tee // The Stasia tee from above with my Sewaholic Gabriola skirt, and then switched to a slightly refashioned thrifted jacket with some jeans that I recently did some invisible mending on. (Yes, I’m totally counting those as me-made at this point.)

Row 3: One of my Deer & Doe Bruyere shirts, sleeves rolled up, with RTW jeans // My Seamwork Mesa with Cake Espresso leggings // an old Simplicity 2883 hack with the me-mended jeans

And here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. I still have a lot more handmade garments than I thought. I counted up my entire me – made wardrobe, not counting maternity clothes, outerwear coats, or things in my refashion bin, just before May. At the time, I had around 70 different pieces. (This was including long sleeves, so I wasn’t necessarily planning to wear everything over the course of the month.) It’s just that after multiple necessary closet purges over the last couple of years, a lot of what I have are at least semi-orphans.

2. The surprising hole in my wardrobe. What honestly surprised me was how hard it was to find things to wear on the more temperate days when I had to dress in what passes for work-appropriate for me! The hot days were easy, I could just bust out a maxi dress and be done with it. But I seem to be oddly lacking in short-sleeved separates. It doesn’t help that I only have four pairs of pants that fit and can be considered work-appropriate in my closet right now– my tencel denim Jalie pants, and 3 pairs of Old Navy jeans in grey, mustard, and teal. Somehow, the only top I have that goes with both the mustard and the teal is the plain cream Stasia tee that I just made. Which leads me to ask, how do I not have short sleeved stuff that goes with teal?! I mean, that’s basically a neutral for me!

3. The not surprising hole in my wardrobe. I knew going into this that casual at-home days were going to be a struggle to find something I made to wear, which is a big part of the reason why I signed up for 4 days a week. I do have a vague plan to sew some more casual tops and pants at some point, though I don’t necessarily have patterns in mind yet, nor do I feel a need to go 100% on my me-mades. I’ll be honest, the one thing in RTW that I’d probably have the most trouble letting go of is geeky graphic tees. I do love wearing my fandoms on my sleeve, so to speak. But the other thing is that the boys are getting to an age where dirt and art supplies are going to be a more daily part of life, and I do need some things that are either super-easy to get stains out of, or that I don’t care if I mess up.

4. I need to stop making 3/4 sleeved tops and start making more layering pieces. Seriously, they’re virtually useless in this climate. Mid-Atlantic seasons tend to bounce between winter straight to summer, with occasional weeks of spring and maybe about 4 weeks of autumn. I’m ok with the Bruyere, since it’s really long sleeved and I could just roll the sleeves up, and the cardigan because I can just take that off when it’s warmer, but the Simplicity top was feeling a little too warm by the afternoon.

5. Thoughts on more specific garments:

  • The Kirsten Kimono tee isn’t the best-fitting thing I have, since it’s pretty tight around the hips. It fits very well in the top, so now that I have the Stasia tee to fill the cream shirt hole, I’m strongly considering hacking it off below the armholes and refashioning it somehow.
  • I found myself wondering the entire day if the gold hoodie tee was too plain. It was originally made as part of a Minion costume, but I don’t see myself doing that costume again anytime soon. I actually did get some compliments on it while wearing it out of the house, but I’m still wondering if it needs some printing up with an applique or some block printing or something?
  • It’s super high waisted now, but I’m glad this Gabriola still fits. I was actually going to originally wear a different skirt that day, but I couldn’t even zip that one up. I’d still like to make the pattern again sometime, but I think I’ll need to size up.
  • This may be the last hurrah for the Simplicity top. While there are still things I like about it, mostly the silhouette and the cut of the sleeves, the waist tie is kind of uncomfortable now. (It keeps rolling up and pulling further into my chest, which may be a problem solved when I actually have non-nursing bras with underwires again, but I don’t have that right now.) Also, I’m feeling pretty meh about the background color of the print, and blue jeans are the only thing I have in my closet that this actually goes with, since it doesn’t really fit the palette I’m going for overall. I’m not necessarily saying I want to go full out capsule wardrobe, but I’d like a little more versatility than that.

So, to sum up, the number one thing on my sewing wishlist from this first third of the month is short-sleeved knit tops in prints that go with mustard and/or teal. I wonder if I even have anything like that in my stash!

A quarterly check-in and Me Made May

I can’t believe it’s April already! I thought that this year, rather than remembering I have sewing goals that I’d set for myself in November and frantically trying to see if I did them, I’d review them in more of a quarterly fashion to help me stay on track. Besides, I still haven’t managed to get photos of the jacket I finished in January, and I’m stuck in a muslin/fitting stage of my current project. So here goes!

First up, Me-Made May. I haven’t participated in this in awhile. Last year, I was only 2 weeks postpartum at the start, and if you’ve been following here for awhile, you know how much havoc my two pregnancies have wreaked on both my body and my handmade wardrobe. But I’m finally in a good place to play along again– Padawan is only nursing at night now, and since he’s nearly a year old, there’s a good chance that I might be done altogether by then. So I don’t have to worry about nursing friendliness! My official pledge is:

“I, Becky of sewadagio.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear something me made 4 times a week. I also endeavor to work in as many of my non-nursing friendly me-mades as are seasonally appropriate, in order to determine what still works for my lifestyle and body.”

Unofficially, I have a couple other things I’m hoping to accomplish through this challenge:
– Figure out some ways to style my Jalie Vanessa pants that I made last year, since I haven’t quite sorted that out yet.
– One of my goals for this year is to build towards some small capsules within my wardrobe. So I’m hoping to figure out which pieces in my wardrobe would be good ones to build off of, so I can figure out the holes and how to fill them. I already know that casual clothes for my at-home days are a major hole, but that might be something I have to work towards for next year, since that mostly doesn’t line up well with my Make Nine plans for the year.

Speaking of Make Nine… I’ve only finished one thing so far, the Carolyn Pajama pants. (Which, fortunately, ties in well with my goal of revamping my pajamas. I’m halfway done this one, since my winter ones are all finished!) I’m working on my second project currently, which is the True Bias Lander pants in the shorts view. My wearable muslin has turned out to be highly unwearable, due to some major fitting tweaks that need to happen, but thankfully it’s fabric that I really didn’t care for the color of. (I would have attempted to dye them if they’d worked.) I’m hoping to get the fitting changes made on my pattern and at least get the real version cut out this week. I admittedly got rather sidetracked by Easter gifts for my boys, which I’ll share more about soon, and my entry for the Day and Night Dress Challenge. So if I want to have a decent shot at working through these projects, I’ll need to be more focused going into the summer for sure.

I am hoping to tackle the swimsuit before too long. I’d love to get it done in time for Memorial Day. I do have patterns and fabric chosen and safely stored in my sewing closet now. So that’s progress, I suppose.

 

dresses for things I don’t drink

Even though the theme of this year’s Day and Night Dress Challenge, hosted by the super-talented Elizabeth, was “Coffee and Cocktails”, I’m really Team Tea all the way. My gut reaction was that I haven’t been to anything resembling a cocktail party since the last wedding reception I went to– my life, friends, and family gatherings are quite casual. But since Elizabeth stated that anything that could work for a nice dinner counts, I figured I’d go for it.

Seamwork MesaFirst up, my dress for meeting friends at a coffeeshop and drinking chai lattes, since that’s usually the best tea option. Or, more likely, going from chasing little boys around the house to my flute teaching. I’ve had this teal and olive knit print in my stash for about two years. I’ve known for awhile that it wanted to be the Mesa dress from  Seamwork/Colette, but pregnancy and lack of nursing access kept making me put it off. I knew I’d need an easy project to finish this challenge in time, so that bumped it up in the queue. My original thought was to try and add some kind of front panel for nursing. Then I realized that turning it into a Henley tee look would be much easier, and be more wearable whenever my nursing days are done for good.

IMG_5834I followed a tutorial from Melly Sews, and did the closure with sewn in snaps and stashed buttons on top to hide the visible stitches. I really didn’t want to deal with buttonholes in a knit with a time crunch, and I didn’t have any set-in snaps that aren’t the leftover plastic ones from my diapers. I’m overall quite pleased with how well this worked, especially since I’ve already worn it for a full day and tested it for nursing. The only other change I made was to add 3″, because I’m getting up and down from the floor a lot and extra length is extra security. The construction of the main dress was simple, aside from some wresting with my coverstitch machine. Hopefully the hem will hold. I can see myself using this pattern again for sure. Without the added length, it’s pretty much perfect for a knit tunic!

Side note: the teal Espresso leggings that I’m wearing with these are my first “refashion redemption project” of the year. I made them last January, but the lack of vertical stretch left them sitting way too low. So I finally got around to adding another wide waistband piece to the top so I can actually pull them up all the way.

IMG_5833For my cocktail look, which is admittedly really more of an afternoon high tea dress, I decided to finally tackle the Deer and Doe Reglisse dress that I’d been hoarding for about 4 years. Since this is the first chance I’ve had in 3 years to actually dress for Easter, I wanted something that screamed spring without being too pastel. So this Art Gallery voile that I got this past Christmas was perfect!

I did make a few changes. I left off the front bow tie collar bit, because I didn’t think that would really fit my general style or this fabric. The fabric is thin enough that I underlined everything. I essentially redrafted the skirt to accommodate the width of the fabric, since it was a little too narrow for the pattern. I added 3″ to the length as well. I’ve been super paranoid about shorter dresses ever since discovering last fall that my Darling Ranges dress is scandalously unwearable without leggings, even for things like bending slightly to deal with car seats. Yiiiiikes. I also added pockets, because pockets make everything better! (I thought about adding them to the Mesa as well, but decided the jersey was too thin to hold up to things like carrying my phone.)

IMG_5810Finally, I added 3/4″ to the bodice to lower the waistline, and shortened the dart a little. I should have lowered them, since even though I did some basic tissue fitting to check, I completely failed at that and they sit too high. But the bodice is loose enough that it’s not a big deal. Honestly, in this picture, I can’t even see the darts. So I really doubt anyone will notice except for me.

Part of me does wish I’d had the time to make a muslin of this, because aside from the dart issue, the armholes are a little too low. Hopefully it won’t be too noticeable, since it’s not like I walk around with my arms raised over my head, and the angle I have to hold them at for flute playing is probably okay to hide any visual bra. I’m also not sure how I feel about the look of the elastic, waist, but I do have a belt that works with it.

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One last outtake, in which I display what happens when I try to look sophisticated. I’m undecided about using this pattern again, since I only need so many dresses. But I might be able to hack it up some, like use it to make a fuller elastic waist skirt than my Rae skirt. And I did see a tutorial for using it to make a blouse. So maybe?

Thanks for hosting this challenge, Elizabeth! It definitely gave me a morale boost to know that I can still manage to participate in some community challenges, even though I don’t usually finish things quickly. And knowing that my Easter dress is already finished definitely takes some pressure off!

sneaky snacky stripes

So I made another Plantain top, which is the third one I’ve made within the last two months. (The first being the sequin top from the last post, and the second being a pajama top that I have yet to photograph. Soon, I hope.)

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By this point, there’s really not a whole lot to say about the pattern, given that this shirt has become one of my TNTs. The finishing is another story, because I could not get my coverstitch to cooperate for much longer than it should have. After some fiddling with the dials, and some DMing back and forth with Brooke, (thanks, Brooke!) I realized that the reason it kept skipping stitches had more to do with the stitch length than the tension, and that I’d been reading the diagram next to that dial backwards for the entire year or so that I’ve owned that machine. *facepalm* But hopefully now that I know that, using my coverstitch will go more smoothly! I can be excused for sleep deprivation on this learning curve, right?

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Outtake photo time! (Hi, Padawan!) My biggest complaint for years when it comes to my winter wardrobe is that everything is so drab. And then somehow, I still end up wearing a lot of black and grey and looking like an unhappy little raincloud. (Because rain in the winter is the worst, and that’s the precipitation we get much more frequently than snow.) So I made a shirt out of happy, springy colors instead. With trees and birds and squirrels. Take that, winter! I got this fabric for Christmas about two years ago, and originally meant to make a nursing-hacked Renfrew out of it. But then my experiment flopped, and I realized that the Plantain would be a better fit anyway because I’d have to do much less pattern matching without the bands. As a result of the switch, I have about a third of a yard left of my original two. And that was after some very careful stripe matching.

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Yes, stripes! I’m totally counting this for the Sew Stripes theme on the Sewcialists blog.  They’re just subtle, that’s all. Board games are a favorite activity around here, when the boys let us, and we’ve started collecting a few preschool games now that Hobbit is getting closer to that magical age that they actually start making games for. One of the ones we’ve gotten is called The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. We haven’t played that one with him yet, since we’re still working on the concept of taking turns and figured our one cooperative game would be less frustrating for him in that. (He is only 2, after all.) But it turns out that sneaky snacky squirrel also lives in this fabric print, munching acorns under the plain trees, and that makes a stripe!

Speaking of Hobbit, he was pretty fascinated by this shirt when he noticed the print, while I was wearing it today. The conversation went something like this…

Hobbit: (Pointing at my shirt) Trees!

Me: Yes, there’s trees. What else do you see?

Hobbit: Skirrels and acorns!

Me: Good! Is there anything in the trees, too?

Hobbit: Chickens!

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Last outtake shot, since Padawan was much happier for this photoshoot with me holding him. And Hobbit decided my lens cap was an eyepatch. Anyway. I suspect I’ll be wearing this shirt a lot as I drag my feet through the rest of this winter, both for the happy colors and because it’s one of the few long-sleeved things that seem to go with my teal jeans. Weird, since teal is basically a neutral for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about capsule wardrobes over the last few months, and that it would be fun to try one of those 4×4 style ones. And this whole teal/seafoam/ivory color scheme seems like it might be a good one to build off of! Especially since I also have another jersey that I got at the same time that builds on these same colors, with a little brown and mustard thrown into the mix. Now that one will become a Renfrew, I think, though I’m not sure when. Silly me, I’m trying to do deadline sewing again for the #dayandnightdresschallenge, and running out of time! (At least I need the one dress I have cut out anyway.) This idea may need to be revisited.

Also soon to come, I hope, posts about the other multiple projects I have yet to photograph! Specifically, a coat and three sets of pajamas. I’ve been shockingly productive so far this year!

random January reflections

Well, hello there! And happy 2018! I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a post for a few weeks now, but I just can’t seem to get things together to get photos. I’ve actually got a small backlog of projects to write about as a result, but I didn’t want to let the entire month go by in silence. So aside from the multiple finished projects (including a last one for 2017!!), here’s what’s been going on in my little corner of the world.

      • On a whim, and at the last minute, I signed up for the 2018 RTW Fast, hosted by Sarah at Goodbye Valentino. It really wasn’t that much of a stretch for me, given that underthings are acceptable to buy and I’ve already got plans to sew a swimsuit anyway.
      • I’m glad that underthings are still acceptable to buy, since I’m seriously on the fence about whether I want to bother with bramaking again or not. Not this year, for sure. I’m not sure if my current ambivalent feelings towards the whole prospect is just the necessary learning curve, since I found the construction to be rather fiddly, or not wanting to go through the whole fitting process when I really like the smoother foam bras best anyway. Not that it matters at this particular moment, since I’m not done nursing yet.

     

  • Sweater progressHey, look, a knitting update! I’m still ridiculously slow at this, especially given that most of my knitting time is relegated to Sunday mornings on the way to and from church, and the occasional trips to my in-laws’, when I’m not driving. On the plus side, I’ve managed to get one sleeve to about elbow length, and I don’t have to look up how to do the make 1 increases every single time I have to do one anymore. So there’s that.
  • Noooooooo

In which my recently finished Bruyere broke my heart. This is how it came out of one of the first washings. I asked for some ideas on Instagram, and got some good ideas for how to prevent this sort of thing with chambray in the future. But in order to not make the plackets too thick by stitching on another folded over layer or two of fabric, I think I’m going to take the visible mending route and just try to make it look as nice as possible.

  • I’ve actually been doing pretty well so far this year on fitting in sewing time at home. It helped that my most recent project was a batch sewing thing, so I was able to fully complete the first of my #2018makenine projects (several pairs of pajama pants, more on that later) in a decently short amount of time. I’m trying to be smart about my time usage and prioritizing projects. I’ve still got to knock out some tops to go with the pants, but I’m at the point now where I’m trying to figure out whether my next move should be trying to participate in the Sewcialists’ stripe month theme, or seeing if I can actually manage Elizabeth’s Day and Night Dress challenge. I have ideas, but I also have serious doubts about my ability to finish two entire dresses in the allotted time. Even if one would be super basic (assuming I can get the pattern printed, given that my home printer is not on speaking terms with my computer anymore and the last time I took Seamwork to Staples, it didn’t work!), and the other is a dress that I was planning to knock out before Easter anyway. So many projects, so little time…

So what have you been making lately? And are you participating in any community challenges?

My 2018 Make Nine Plans

I did participate in the #2017makenine thing that was going around on Instagram, and it worked really well in helping me to prioritize my sewing this year. Out of the nine projects I picked, the Archer shirt is the only one that I just didn’t get to at all. And I was still able to work in a few projects that were more wants instead of needs. It took some thought, but here is the #2018makenine that I finally settled on:

My #2018makenine was hard to narrow down, and there’s a lot of planned projects that I had to leave off. But if I go with what will give me the most wardrobe boosting powers, I have: 1. A knit maxidress. 2. A Fumuterre skirt. 3. A Stasia dress and/or top. 4. Pajamas, because I need to replace virtually all of mine. 5. A swimsuit/rash guard, because I don’t have a functional one and I’m tired of sunburns. 6. Two Wild Things coats, because it’s pretty much the cutest thing I can get away with #sewingforboys. 7. The Archer shirt, attempt 2. 8. The Lander shorts, though I still need to buy this pattern. 9. The Appleton shirt hack. I already have stash for 1, 3, some 4, outside of 6, 7, 8 if I do denim, and 9. #sewingplans

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(The actual picture doesn’t seem to be showing up, at least on my computer. So just in case, here’s the link.)

  1. 1. McCall’s 7350, a dress pattern that I bought recently. I also found a great ITY print on clearance at Fabric.com, which made snagging 5 yards to make the more dramatic maxi version that caught my eye affordable.
  2. Deer & Doe’s Fumuterre skirt. I was gifted a lovely cotton print with this earthy, abstract leafy type print to give this one a go.
  3. Sew Liberated’s Stasia dress. Or maybe top. Or both. I do have a few yards of a print from a couple Christmases ago that would be a good candidate for the shorter dress, but I feel like the top has more TNT potential as a basic fitted knit top. I just might test it out on one of the pajama sets.
  4. The aforementioned pajamas. The Closet Case Carolyn pajamas are pictured, and that is a pattern that I got for Christmas. I’ll start with just the pants, since I have a few lengths of flannel that are enough for that but not a full set. Since I also need some hot weather things, a set or two from the Grainline Lakeside pajamas that I’ve had waiting in my pattern stash are also likely. Though I was given fabric to make the more summery version of the Carolyn as well.
  5. The swimsuit. I picked the Jalie picture that features both the rash guard shirt and the briefs lined swim shorts that I’m eyeing. I’ll need to purchase both patterns and fabric for this one, so this will be a main exception to my plan to buy as little fabric as possible, except where needed for specific reasons.
  6. While I can easily think of more patterns that I still hope to make for myself, I do want to make sure I get to this pattern before the boys are much older. This is the Twig & Tale Wild Things coat, pictured in the dinosaur option. I have a piece of this weird khaki-ish corduroy that I probably got 10 or so years ago, and am strongly considering dyeing in 2 pieces to make the outside of whichever animals I decide on. I’ll likely need to get linings for this as well.
  7.  The Grainline Archer shirt, since I didn’t get to it this year and it does have useful TNT potential, once I make a few changes from my last version. I have a plaid flannel that’s been sitting around waiting for that one.
  8. True Bias’s Lander shorts. I still need shorts since the ones I made this year didn’t work out, and I got the pattern for Christmas, along with a fun piece of crosshatch denim to make them. I’ll probably do a test in something less interesting, though. I’ve got enough plain non-stretch denim, and I think my days of non-stretch jeans are over, so that will be a good stashbust.
  9. Cashmerette Appleton, as a wrap top. I have a piece of ITY in my stash that I had been thinking would make a good one, so I was delighted to read that Jenny made the instructions for this hack available on her site– now I don’t have to take the time to figure it out myself!

I have so many projects in mind that I would also like to tackle this year if I can. It was actually really hard for me to narrow this list down, because of the much longer one I have! I’d love to make myself a new dress for Easter this year, because I’ve been either pregnant, nursing, or leaving the hospital just after giving birth for the last 3 of them, and wasn’t able to have any fun with my outfit. (If I hadn’t given up that ninth spot for the boys, this probably would have been the last pick.) I recently bought this adorable kids’ toy pattern that I would really like to make up for the boys’ Easter baskets, too. I have a couple of  more involved jacket patterns that I’ve been plotting out for a couple of years now, and other patterns that I’ve been hoarding that have had to get pushed to the side, like the Ginger jeans and the Sew House Seven Tea House dress/top. I have knits that are begging to get turned into Plantains and Renfrews, and the Ebony tee to try out. And that’s not even the whole list! But aside from the lack of pants, I think this group has some good mix and match potential in the silhouettes, as well as some good standout pieces. So here’s hoping that I’m not being overly ambitious, and here’s to happy sewing time in 2018!

Sewing top 5: Goals!

My favorite of the top 5! As is tradition, I’ll begin with reviewing the goals I made for this year.

    1. Figure out a workable new sewing setup. Check, as already discussed in the reflections post.
    2. My first actual sewing goal for the year is to try making bras. Also check. See hits and misses.
    3. I really, really need some pants this year. And I desperately need some shorts. Technically, I did meet this goal, even though I’m struggling to style the one pair of pants and my shorts were a flop.
    4. Another definite hole I’ve noticed is nursing-friendly tops. So I’d like to make at least one more Archer, which I do have supplies and fabric for, and another Bruyere, which I need fabric for. I’d also like to come up with a knit top pattern…. I didn’t get to the Archer, though I do have a better idea of what adjustments I’ll need to make to the pattern now. My knit top was a flop. I don’t think I’ll bother with another nursing hack for now, since I’m looking at a maximum of 4 more months this round and wearing the nursing camisoles with regular knit tops is working fine. At least my Bruyere worked out!
    5. The last definite wardrobe hole is a new coat. I need something that’s between my unlined Sewaholic trench and my as heavy as I could make without wool winter coat, because our crazy weather this fall meant that I had to guess at which one to grab a lot, and I usually ended up either too hot or too cold. This was still a problem later in the fall. Even though I started this project pretty much as soon as I was done with Halloween costumes, I just couldn’t finish it quickly enough. But the coat is getting close to being finished–I only have the closures to go–so I should be prepared for any oddly warm winter days. (Like the beautiful warm days we had in February that stopped just in time for my birthday to be cold again. Such a tease.)

Moving on to my goals for next year…

  1. I’d like to work towards developing a nice stash of TNT patterns. My sewing time is so limited these days, and I’ve had so many misses over the last couple of years, that I think it’ll help me quite a bit to have some go-tos that I can be sure of. I was thinking about this quite a bit during November, thanks to the TNT theme on the Sewcialists blog. And I do think I have a couple that I’m fairly confident about– the Sewaholic Rae skirt for sure, but I’ve also had mostly good results with the Cake Espresso leggings, and the Deer & Doe Plantain top has worked well during and after both pregnancies without alterations. (I also realized during the month that I could combine those three patterns into one cohesive outfit, so that may have to happen sometime.) I think the Cashmerette Appleton dress has some strong potential, after the changes I made with my second dress, and also the Deer & Doe Bruyere once I make the tweaks mentioned in my last post. But I definitely also have some basic garment types that I need to figure out. Another skirt silhouette or two, some alternates for knit tops (I still want to get the Renfrew working again!), definitely some layering pieces, etc.
  2. This may be the year I finally have to tackle one of the few garment types I haven’t tried: a swimsuit. I’ve hated shopping for those for years, and I did run into a few situations this year where I needed a swimsuit and just hated the way I looked and felt in it– my only option was an unsupportive hand me down one piece, thanks to the baby weight, and I still can’t help cringing when seeing pictures of me walking on the beach with Hobbit over this past summer. My coverup options weren’t great, either– just a pair of postpartum athletic shorts that clashed horribly with the swimsuit, or one of my husband’s gigantic t-shirts. I don’t want to be so self-conscious about my thighs or chest or anything that I can’t just enjoy being with my family, you know? I don’t have a pattern or fabric yet, but I think that if I combine three different Jalie patterns, I can make my absolute perfect swimsuit. Including sun protection!
  3. I need to restock my pajamas. Badly. All of my old ones just either don’t fit anymore, or they’re horribly stretched and worn out. I know I have fabric for three pairs of pajama pants on hand, though I’ll need to see if I have anything appropriate for summer. I got the Carolyn pajamas pattern for Christmas this year, and I do also have the Grainline Lakeside pajamas to try out.
  4. Even though I know that a complete minimalist approach to my wardrobe is not for me, thanks to my maternity months, I have gotten interested in capsule wardrobes. I saw some really neat ones over this past year, namely the sudoku style wardrobe that Elizabeth made, and the 4×4 capsule concept introduced to me through a series on the Curvy Sewing Collective. I don’t have time to sew a full wardrobe from scratch, and I’m not sure the Sudoku one would work for me and my size-limited shoe options. But one thing I really liked about the 4×4 in particular is that I can build on pieces I already have, and allow for prints! So even though I doubt I’ll finish one next year, I’d like to start building towards some smaller capsules within my wardrobe. I did start sketching and brainstorming patterns and color schemes for at least two, so I’ll likely get back to that in a future post.
  5. In general, I want to be more creative in using what I have. I want to continue my Refashion Redemption Project, to solve some problems with things I’ve made since all of these body changes started happening. I want to play with dyeing fabrics in my stash to make them better fit my favorite colors. I have a list of 20+ projects that I can make from stash alone. Honestly, aside from Halloween costumes and the aforementioned swimsuit, I can probably go most of the year without buying fabric, unless I need linings or something, and easily not run out of things to sew! Not that I necessarily will, but if I can use more of my existing resources than I consume, that’s a win.

I’ll make a bonus knitting goal as well: since I’ve been knitting it for over a year now, I’d like to finish my Gnarled Oak cardigan. Finally.

Also, since my Christmas fabric acquisitions are in, and the stashbusting is an ongoing goal, here’s where I ended up as of the project I just finished tonight: I began the year with around 394 yards of fabric, and I now have approximately 342.5. Between the January fabric purge and actual sewing, I went through 108 yards this year! So a net loss of over 50 yards is good, I think. I’m honestly not expecting as big of a decrease for next year, but I’m hoping I can at least keep the sewing steady, even if it’s slow.