I volunteer as tribute!

Did you see that the Sewcialists blog is up and running again? Hurrah! I was happy to see that the first challenge of the reboot was one that I could easily participate in, since I’ve been missing out on The Monthly Stitch left and right. This actually wasn’t my original idea, I had a plan to make a skirt, but it involved some pattern hacking and using uncertain fabric amounts. (I was going to use some leftovers, but I still need to fix a pair of leggings that I made back in January or so first, so I’m not sure how much fabric I actually have left.) But it’s ok, because I accidentally stumbled into another tribute!

I’m sure you all know and love Gillian, from Crafting a Rainbow. She really does have one of the most inspiring blogs out there, IMO, between her talent for getting really good sewing conversations going in her posts, and the fun challenges she’s put out there over the years. Like the sewing dares– I haven’t forgotten about the two that I’d gotten on the last round, by the way– and the Better Pictures Project. And, well, I may have blatantly copied one of her recent pieces, right down to the fabric. But, to be fair, she’s the one who suggested the pattern to me in the first place! And since she’s the one who got the Sewcialists rolling again, it’s only fitting to do the tribute to her.

IMG_5132 That’s right, I made the Jalie Vanessa pants. In the same tencel denim from Cali Fabrics. One of my biggest wardrobe holes right now is pants, since pretty much every pair I’d ever made or bought stopped fitting about five trimesters ago (may you rest in peace, oh pile of Thurlow pants in my refashion bin). And since I don’t want to teach my flute lessons in yoga pants– or, really, be the yoga pants mom at all, unless I’m actually exercising — I definitely needed some options. I was a little skeptical about the jogger pants idea, since I never really liked the look of sweatpants. And the elastic cuffs that were one of the options just remind me of growing up in the 80’s. (This is not a good thing, since I’ve never been a fan of that particular fashion decade. Needless to say, I went for the straight hem.) But I think these actually turned out okay.

IMG_5136 Besides, they have functional pockets, and that’s more than I can say for pretty much every pair of jeans or shorts that I managed to scrounge up at the thrift store.

I’m still not exactly sure what to wear them with, since the more relaxed fit means that looser tops are pretty much out. Ideally, I would have made a top to go with this as part of the outfit challenge, probably something from Cashmerette since that’s one of Gillian’s favorites. But you all know how slow I am at assembling anything these days, so I just pulled out one of my most colorful tops in a palette that seems to most closely fit Gillian’s. (My first Kirsten Kimono tee, even though it’s still overly snug on me.)

IMG_5140The walking out outtake actually was one of the better pictures! So styling questions aside, I will say that these pants are super-comfortable to wear. A big part of this was the fabric, I think. The tencel denim is really soft, and even though it developed an odd fuzzy look after the first wash, I haven’t had issues with the dye bleeding into my other stuff yet. I’m trying to figure out what might be some good options for a potential second pair sometime, since I feel like the challis it calls for would be too lightweight. Linen, maybe?

I was quite happy with this first Cali Fabrics order– I got this and a second piece of fabric that got turned into a scarf pretty quickly. I seriously doubt it will be my last order from them. (Just the last one this year, since Doug and I made a deal– I wouldn’t buy any more fabric this year if he stops buying Coke. The sacrifices one makes for love. )

Anyway, I’m happy to get to take part in this community again, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the next challenge is!

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Ease into Motherhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Top 5 hits of 2016

This is actually going to be a little more challenging than I thought. Mostly because I just realized that, counting one shirt that I haven’t posted yet, I’ve only made 13 things for myself this entire year! But the end of year roundup that Gillian hosts is always fun, so here I go anyway…

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I’m mostly just sticking to things I made for myself, and am just going to do these more or less chronologically, since it’s easier to scroll through Flickr that way. And I’m all about keeping it simple these days with blogging!

Top 5 Hits:

Deer & Doe Plantain Raglan hack 1. My raglan Plantain hack. One of my recurring goals in sewing is to successfully alter my patterns for new looks, and this is one of the examples that actually worked out. Another recurring goal of mine is to make colder weather clothes that actually have color, since I find those much cheerier to wear on the dreary, grey days that are all too common during our Mid-Atlantic winters! This also counts as both stashbusting and refashioning, since the paisley was recycled from a shirt I’d cut out long ago but would never fit my post-baby body, and the teal was stash leftovers from my other Plantain. I’ve worn this one regularly, even into my second trimester, and have gotten several compliments on it from strangers. So that’s always a win.

 

 

Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt

2. My Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt was also a winner. Our fall was oddly hot well into November this year, so I didn’t have a huge window of opportunity to wear things that had longer sleeves, even rolled up with lightweight fabric. But it did get multiple wears, and actually fit through my first trimester. It’s another one where the cheery color makes me happy, and look, I’m already on trend for the Pantone color of next year! As long as I can find a good nursing camisole to wear underneath, I think this one will also get a good bit of wear once baby boy 2 makes his appearance, and I’ve got this pattern earmarked to make at least one more version, once I get fabric with sufficient yardage to do so.

Black Appleton

3. My basic black Cashmerette Appleton dress. A musician can never go wrong with black, especially now that I’m in the community orchestra and playing concerts on a more regular basis again. This was my second version of the Appleton this year, with a few alterations to make it more wearable for me. I’m also very happy with how my sleeve hack turned out. This is another good nursing-friendly pattern, so once I get my smaller belly back, it’ll probably see a lot more use too!

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4. This entire outfit. I’ll revisit this in a future post, but one of my goals for this year was to start making some more mini capsules for my wardrobe. Actually, this fabric combination was my specific photographic example, so it’s nice to see that I actually finished it within the year! Both of the two visible pieces are Seamwork patterns, and ones that will be likely revisitied in the future. I’m also wearing Cake Patterns Espresso leggings that I sewed this past year, and those have become a staple piece. (The tank top underneath the mint sweater wasn’t as successful, but that’s not the point of this post.) I’m not sure how much wear this outfit as a whole will get next year, but I still may be able to work in the skirt if I can come up with an easier nursing top. I am actually still able to wear this pair of leggings now, though!

IMG_42695. This dress, at least once I turned it backwards. It’s comfortable, the print is fun, I pretty much nailed the stripe matching, and it’s basically everything that a summer maxidress should be. Again, sadly, I doubt I’ll get much use out of it during this upcoming year. But I wore it a lot during the warm weather, and I have no doubt that this will make it back into the rotation once baby feeding allows.

Bonus kid make: The top thing this year was definitely the BB-8 hoodie. Even if’s already nearly met its demise by grass stains (which I got out) and odd color bleeding (which I’m not entirely sure was from the orange itself, since it’s only on one side. I need to fix this with some white paint.)

a stripey dress and the July summary

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

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

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

IMG_4270…turning it backwards!

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

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

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

So, my quick stashbusting update for July:

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

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

 

flower power

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

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

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

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What I like about this skirt:

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

What I didn’t like:

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

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

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

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

UFO sighting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best laid plans, and so on

Yeah, my sewing has gotten off to a rather slow start this year! Between the reorganization project taking longer than expected, and the continuing saga of naptime issues (spoiler alert, he still doesn’t want me to put him down, even with that zippy swaddle thing from the last post), I was getting really concerned that I wouldn’t finish what should have been a simple project in time to tie it in with this month’s theme at The Monthly Stitch. I don’t manage to play along every month, but I was really excited about my idea for a garment inspired by a favorite beverage!

Only, it didn’t quite go as planned. I’m a little embarrassed to share this one, honestly. But not every project is going to be a winner, and I think it’s important to learn from the fails, too.

IMG_3340Obviously, my beverage of choice had to be tea. But I already have a dress with teacups on it, so my idea was to start working on this year’s goal of replenishing my pajamas/loungewear wardrobe, with the help of some tea dyeing. I had a piece of what I’m fairly certain was a bedsheet, which got passed on to me when someone destashed it onto my mom. I knew the effect of the dye would be subtle, since there was most likely some polyester content in the fabric, but I hoped that it would be just enough to bring out the tone-on-tone print.

So I got my tea brewed–not a brand I actually care to drink, of course– boiled the fabric in it for as long as we could manage to keep Hobbit happy, washed it…and ended up with exactly what I’d started with. Drat.

I decided to go ahead and start sewing anyway. The pants are the Sewaholic Tofino pattern, which I’ve made before, and will likely make several more times this year, because I like the way they fit me. I didn’t even have to make any sizing changes to accommodate the extra post-baby pounds! I made the piping and ties out of a remnant of solid brown left over from an old dress, thinking the brown might help tie in the tea idea. I realized closer to the end of the sewing process that I still didn’t feel comfortable with the color, and especially the thought of taking blog photos in white, somewhat see-through pants.

So I broke out more dye, this time in chocolate brown. Surely that would tint the cotton to a nice, tea-stained tan, right?

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Nope. It turned pink. Pastel pink, of all things. Which is my third least favorite color on the planet, when not occurring naturally outside. I’ve actually had this problem before with this color, but in the context of dyeing silk. I sure didn’t think a poly/cotton blend would act the same way! So, what to do? Though the half-finished tee from my refashion bin took the tea dye in a subtle way, the pants just didn’t read “tea” to me. And I will take a chocolate milkshake over strawberry every single time, so that wouldn’t make a good inspiration drink for me.

 

 

 

 

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Then I remembered that I had this “four red fruits” tea that I brought home from Paris, which is still around thanks to the cruel pregnancy trick of mostly not being able to stomach tea. It’s a black tea with strawberry, raspberry, Problem solved!

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A quick note on the shirt: I don’t really know what pattern it is. It’s one of two identical white tees that my mom started and didn’t finish, because she doesn’t particularly enjoy making clothes anyway and she wasn’t happy about how it was turning out. My original thought was to maybe recut it into a Plantain tee or something, but then I noticed that the side seams had been sewn already, and I was getting anxious to finish it up. So I just zig-zagged the neck binding and hems down as it was, though I did serge the sides and sleeves in a little because I was hoping to cancel out the dropped shoulder a bit. I’d also thought of maybe stenciling a teacup or something on it, because it’s admittedly boring. And maybe someday, I’ll do that.

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For now, I’m calling it good enough for pajamas, and happily moving on to the next project. Even though this looks like hospital clothes. Hopefully the next thing will turn out better. But at least I shouldn’t have any trouble with nursing in these pjs. (Note to self: Next time, take the time to make the Plantain.)

State of the Stash Address

I’ve been working pretty hard over the last week or so to get all of my more recent fabric acquisitions washed, folded, and tallied up. I like to start the new year with a clean slate, and see where things really stand. It also ties in with the current theme in the Stashbusting Sewalong, which is stash organization. And, well…my one Stashbusting Sewalong goal for 2015 was to end with less fabric than I started with. In this, I failed. Epically so.

To be fair to myself, I did have two destashings land on me, from my in-laws and from a friend of my grandmother’s. I was certainly not planning on that. And as I was going through things, I did find about 19 yards’ worth of older fabrics that I just hadn’t added in, or leftovers that I didn’t think were big enough to be worth measuring. So my numbers at the beginning of the year weren’t entirely accurate.

But I did buy a few pieces near the end of the year that were specifically to test a few newer patterns, after checking my stash and seeing that I didn’t have anything appropriate. (Or, in the case of the Ginger jeans pattern that I finally just bought, I didn’t want to sacrifice the stashed stretch denim until I’d tested it. Because I bought that denim in Paris, and I may never be able to fabric shop there again.) And I got a lot of fabric for Christmas this year. As in, nearly 30 yards of it!

Oh, you want to see the pretties? Twist my arm, why don’t you?

IMG_3304These 6 pieces are actually more for Hobbit, but I get the fun of sewing them up! The ones on the right are for another batch of diapers. I’d mentioned before that I made newborn, small and medium sizes. And I knew there was the possibility that I’d have to do the large size as well. Well, at 6 months old and well over double his birth weight, he’s pretty much at the largest setting that the small diapers will go at. I really doubt that he’ll stay in the mediums long enough to get to a good potty training age. So to be on the safe side, I’m going to make a batch of larges. The two fabrics on the left are knits, so I can finally try out some of the cute stuff in the two Ottobre magazines that I picked up over last year. Between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the hockey sticks in the Canada print, my mom was definitely working to keep my husband happy!

IMG_3305And then there’s these 10 (!) pieces for me. There’s a plaid flannel with an Archer shirt in mind, and two more flannels for some much-needed pajama pants. There’s several knits, which is great, because my stash of print knits was almost non-existent by this point. And you all know how I love my prints. There’s a couple of pieces of denim, and a Cotton & Steel voile that I just want to wrap around myself like a blanket. It’s like a silky hug.

I think that I have the totals pretty accurate now. I’m only counting it as yardage if it’s full selvage-to-selvage width, and more than 1/4 yard. So without further ado, here’s the (scary) totals:

Stash at the beginning of 2015: I’d originally said 375. My adjusted number is 394.

Stash at the end of 2015:  Just over 426.

Yards used up: about 91.5. Considering everything that was going on in my life last year, I think that’s pretty good!

The difference: A net addition of 34 yards. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself, because that means that even with the Christmas haul, I would have done really well if it hadn’t been for those two destashings!

I think my focus/goal for 2016 is to really buckle down on using what I have on hand. So with that in mind, I’m going to see just how long I can go without buying any new fabric or patterns. I bought a few more at the end of December that will hopefully fill some gaps on staples (namely, the Ginger jeans, which I’ve been wanting to try since before the pregnancy). I will make exceptions on things like zippers and buttons, if I don’t have those things on hand, especially since button-downs are a major goal of mine this year. And I’ll make an exception for Halloween, because I’m very excited about my plan for this year, and I have almost literally nothing on hand that will work. But I’m hoping that if I really buckle down and get creative with the patterns and fabric that I have, I can make a serious dent in this ridiculous pile this year.

You know, assuming that I can get the baby to learn to take naps or something.

 

 

 

Top 5 of 2015: Goals

#sewingtop5 - The Top 5 of 2015!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
I like to use this category to see how I did with the goals I set for the current year, as well as to set some goals for the next. So let’s pull out the scorecard!

1. Finish a capsule wardrobe that will get me through the first half of the year.
This was specifically related to my maternity wardrobe. Overall, I think this was a success. The only thing I really wished I had at the end was shorts, since I was past due and it suddenly got hot (as is typical around here) and rolling up the bottom of my jeans just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Mental note to self if I’m ever pregnant during the summer again, I guess.

2. On a related note, I need to work on my pattern hacking skills…If I can figure out how to do a couple of other things that will be good for both pregnancy and nursing, great.

Hacked projects include both of my maxi dresses, the tie dyed skirt, and the Manila leggings fail. I definitely have a long way to go in successfully altering my patterns, but these mostly did what they were supposed to. (At least for the maternity/nursing part.) So I’ll count it as a win.

3. Get as much sewing for “Hobbit” (what I’ve been calling the baby while we don’t know the gender) done as possible, before June.

I think I did pretty well with this one! I do have to make a fourth batch of diapers soon in size L, because he’s pretty big for his age and there is absolutely no way I’ll make it to potty training age with medium diapers like the pattern suggested. He’s still in S, but on the largest snap setting. So I’m almost positive he’ll be in M before the winter is over. Aside from that, I think I’m good on practical baby gear and can just mostly focus on clothes and toys when making stuff for him next year. Yay!

4. I might as well work on things like finishing techniques and getting my serger tension right.

Thanks to a conversation on Instagram, and mostly thanks to Brooke, I learned that my tension is actually fine! I guess I’m comparing it to my RTW, and their machines are fancier. I do plan to continue trying to work on hems and other visible stitching, since my older machine doesn’t have a stretch stitch other than zig zag. It’s usually a lot of trial and error to get a line that looks fairly straight and still has the give that I need.

5. I think probably the biggest goal for after Hobbit comes will be finding time to make things!

This one has admittedly been a challenge, since Hobbit naps best/longest when someone is holding him, and crib naps often don’t last very long at all. There’s been several days where I’ve resorted to heading to my parents’ early to drop him off for babysitting while I teach my music lessons, and having my mom hold him while I cut something out or sew a few seams. Recently, he has started to sometimes take better naps in his crib, so we’re making progress. And I just counted up, and it looks like I’ve finished about 12 projects since. So that’s not too shabby! (I haven’t showed the last one yet, since it’s one of his Christmas presents.)

Moving on… here’s my top 5 goals for 2016.

Button-downs1. Shirtmaking. I have 4 buttondown patterns I’ve been itching to try, but didn’t quite get to this year. Since my overall plan for now is to focus on clothes with a more forgiving fit, at least until we’re done having kids, nursing-friendly is still a bonus! I do like buttondown shirts, and have missed most of the ones I have. (They don’t fit my nursing-sized bust. Ahem.) I’m not scared of buttonholes or anything, I’ve been making those since I was a kid. But I would like to focus on finishing these nicely, and especially learning to do a proper full bust adjustment. I’ve never had a truly successful one yet. For the record, the patterns are the Grainline Archer, the Sewaholic Granville (not pictured, because my room is a disaster and I’m not entirely sure where it is right now), the Deer & Doe Bruyere, and Butterick 5826. I also have some things that would make adorable little boy buttondowns, and another Butterick pattern to try out for that. Deep stash2. Use up some deep stash. I definitely have things that have been sitting around for a decade or more, like these three pieces here. So it’s time to start chopping, dyeing, wearable muslining, whatever I need to do to get these fabrics out of the stash and into my closet. I want to be able to occasionally select a new piece of fabric without the guilt!

3. Try something completely new. There aren’t many types of garments I haven’t tried to sew by now, so I’m leaning towards bramaking and/or lingerie. Some pretty new underthings would be a nice treat after I’m done nursing. Especially because my few nursing bras are already in awful shape, and I still have 6 months to go with them! Ugh!

4. Loungewear. I could use some new pjs, especially for the warmer months. And I do have a tested pattern I can use, since my Sewaholic Tofinos actually fit pretty well again already. Aside from pj pants, though, I could use some comfy clothes to wear around the house that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to run an errand in. Aside from one pair of pre-pregnancy jeans that never fit great, the only pants I have that currently fit are the one black pair and two pairs of jeans that I bought a couple months into the post-partum stage. And ok, they’re already big enough that functional belts are necessary, but all of the Thurlows and other jeans are still too small. (Waaaaah.)

The point is, I need to keep those three pairs of jeans for teaching days and social events, and therefore need loungewear for the other days. I just don’t know what, since I’m not comfortable in leggings paired with anything shorter than a dress, and sweatpants make me feel sloppy in a bad way. Any suggestions, other than the True Bias Hudson pants? (Nothing against them. They just remind me too much of sweatpants I wore in the 80s, and that’s my least favorite fashion decade ever.) Or should I just make some tunic-length tops in hopes that I’ll feel ok in leggings?

Mini-capsule possibility5. More mini-capsules! Either sewing more complete outfits, or new pieces to style with things already in my closet. This combination may be the first one I tackle. I’m not sure how I didn’t notice sooner that they go great together, but I do have an idea for this pairing. Assuming the kind of loose sweater knit works with the top I have in mind.

I have two bonus goals that are relevant, but not sewing.

The first is that I’d like to do a bit more knitting this time. I only finished three small projects this year, and haven’t even woven in the ends on two of those yet! (Probably due to spending most of my couch-bound pregnant time sewing quiet books!) Ideally, I’d like to make a new cardigan, but I have other small projects I’d like to do as well, including one that’s already on the needles. I have a few things on the needles, actually. So I need to finish or frog them. Or in one case, probably restart, because it’s been so long that I have no idea where in the pattern I left off!

The second is a closet purge. I did one shortly after Hobbit was born, in which I got rid of all of my woven dresses except for one, any shirts that were too short now, and all of the shorts and jeans that I used to wear at my garden center job. I’m probably going to wait until closer to the fall, after I’m done nursing and my measurements most likely stabilize. I’m hoping that by then, I’ll really have a better idea of what will actually fit again/what still fits my newish lifestyle, and can make informed choices about what to keep and what gaps need filling.

I’m going to try to do one more post before the end of the year, mostly for an update on how I did with the Stashbusting Sewalong. I can’t do that yet, since I still need to measure out the recently acquired yardage, and odds are pretty good I’ll get more fabric for Christmas. Until then, merry Christmas to all!

Top 5 of 2015: Highlights and Reflections

#sewingtop5 - The Top 5 of 2015!
For my second post, I’m combining my non-sewing highlights of the year with my reflections on the things I did make. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Highlights:
20150622_1902341. Obviously, the biggest one for me this year is that I made a little human! While pregnancy and labor were physically the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I haven’t gotten a single full night’s sleep all year as a result, this little cutie has been 1000% worth it. I can’t believe he’s almost 6 months old already!

2. Does it make me sound like a total bum if I say that a highlight is having only one part-time job? I’ve had multiple jobs my entire post-college life, all in the name of trying to support my ability to keep working in music in one way or another. But since my last day of my old seasonal retail job was just before last Christmas, this year, I’ve been quite content with being a full-time mom/part-time flute teacher.

3. I’ve gotten a lot of time in with my very first hobby love this year– reading. While I was pregnant, sometimes that was all I had the energy to do. Thanks to my Kindle, books (and blogs) have helped me stay awake through many a late night feeding session. And while I haven’t quite managed daily, I’m trying to get into the habit now of reading to Hobbit as often as I can, in hopes of passing a love of the written word on to him.

4. New blog. It wasn’t easy for me to decide to move on from my old Blogger site, especially since I had to change the name. But sometimes a fresh start is nice. And obviously, my crafty life had to change, with the life changes I’ve had this year. To quote Annie, I think I’m gonna like it here. (As an extension to blogging, I’m going to throw in Instagram, because I’ve quite enjoyed the monthly photo challenges with #sewphotohop and #bpsewvember. My only wish is that IG would allow me to choose which photos to make public and which to keep to followers. Maybe someday?)

20151017_1240455. My husband. Aside from the two weeks of paternity leave that he was with us for, he burned all of his sick days to stay home and help me on particularly hard days (usually when the baby kept me up all night). He’s also got this uncanny knack of being able to get through more cleaning and organizing around the house in three hours than I can get through in three weeks, usually when taking the baby for a few hours on weekend nights so I can catch up on some sleep. He’s amazing.

Reflections:
1. My sewing this year, as a whole, has been so utilitarian. Aside from the practical baby things, like diapers/bags/nursing cover, a lot of my choices were driven by literally having almost nothing to wear that fit. So I had to go with things that were quick to sew and work for nursing. And while I don’t necessarily regret the projects that fit the current need, or used up fabric that would still otherwise be sitting in my stash, several of these were not things I probably would have made if I was going for the ideal of a wardrobe full of things that I love.

2. I definitely struggle mentally with letting go of supplies that I don’t know what to do with. (See my “secret corner of shame” pic from the #sewphotohop.) Whether leftovers from projects, old pieces from my stash that I just never found the right project for/are too fancy for my new mom life, or perfectly useable fabric that people destash onto me that I wouldn’t have chosen myself, I’d guess a solid third to half of my stash is made up of fabrics that I’m clueless about how to use. But since they’re not nice enough to try to sell, being mostly polyester blends, and I haven’t found any good solutions around here for non-clothing textile recycling–even the thrift shops here don’t take yardage that isn’t old curtains and such– I feel bad just sending them to the landfill. And so they sit, waiting for inspiration to strike. And also making me feel a little guilty whenever I want to pick out some new fabric, or just can’t find a good piece for whatever pattern I’m using in the stash.

3. I guess those first two are to say that I’ve reached the point where, while I don’t necessarily want a small wardrobe– I’ve learned that I get extremely bored with wearing the same 10 outfits all the time, thanks to my maternity clothes– I want a more curated one. And definitely a smaller stash that’s all either prints that inspire me, or good for making basics to complete the outfits. I’m just not sure yet how to make that happen, given #2 in particular.

4. I did enjoy making a couple of capsules this year, and if I can continue to plan outfits that way– especially separates– I think that will help with the curating.

5. I wish it was easier to find fun knit prints that are suitable for little boys that don’t cost $15+ per half yard. It seems like most of the really cute patterns I’ve found for boys so far involve knits. Since his daddy is so picky about clothes and I can never sew for him as a result, I feel like I have to have my fun while Hobbit is still little and lets me pick what he wears! At the same time, I am grateful that we’ve been given such a large stash of second-hand clothes for him, because then I don’t have to stress about having to make him clothes. And I am enjoying being able to make him some toys instead, too. So I guess it evens out.