The vintage victory apron

When I haven’t been busy with homeschooling/mom life this year, one of my big projects this year has been following along with a vintage skill-building challenge of sorts. So I’ve been learning how to do things like canning and making sourdough bread. In addition, my husband and I have been getting into gardening over the past two years, which has been a great mutual hobby for us. And it’s been an interesting challenge to see how much food we can cram into a townhouse yard.

It’s still TBD how much we’ll actually harvest. But since it looks like we might get a decent number of tomatoes, and I’ve been scrambling for bowls when needing to pick from our blueberry bushes, I needed something to use for harvesting. So I found a tutorial of sorts for a WWII- era “basket apron”. The idea is that it uses drawstrings to turn it into a giant hands-free pouch. I figured that Doug would like that it folds up smaller than a basket, too!

This ended up being a good stashbusting project for me. The main part of it is a green denim left over from some chair cushions that my mom had made years ago. She gave the rest to me with the thought of little boy pants, but my boys really only like to wear knit pants. The lining was a gift from one of my church/book club friends, who gave me a bag of quilt cotton pieces that she’d had sitting around for years. The greens matched perfectly! And the drawstrings were part of a pack that I bought when making Hudson pants a few years ago. Not the best match since they’re white. I thought about tea staining them, but I figure the odds of them getting naturally dirt-stained are good.

Aside from the drawstrings, it looks like a normal apron. The pocket was my addition. I figure it’ll give me a place to put the blueberries next year. (We only have two bushes, so it was really a handful at a time.)

And here it is, all tied up into its “basket” form. A second addition here was making some belt loops from the print to anchor the ties. I probably should have interfaced them, but they are quadruple topstitched, so that’s something.

And then the fruits and veggies just sit in here.

Overall, I found this to be a satisfying project. The most time consuming part was that I ended up hand-reinforcing the eyelets. So now it’s just waiting for green tomatoes to ripen so I can really test it out!

Just for fun, one of my very few successful sunflowers. I planted a whole pack, but only 2 came up because it’s a terrible spot for weeding and they choked my flowers out.

The mid-year update

So it’s been a hot minute. (Or several, as we’re in our typical hot and oh-so-humid part of the summer. But I’ve got several things to show, so it’s catch up time. I’ve been putting this off because of the struggle of getting good photos, but let’s face it, I’m not in a life stage where I can prioritize that. Here goes with the very imperfect ones I’ve gotten.

The first, finished back in March, is a return of an old favorite TNT pattern, the Sewaholic Renfrew tee. I used an Art Gallery knit that’s been in my stash for some time, and it doesn’t have quite the recovery that I’d wish for the bands. But it does go well with the colored denim jeans in my wardrobe. It also took a lot less fabric than I thought, so I still have about half a yard of fabric left to use!

My most involved project lately was this dress for my daughter. I used McCall’s 8267, with a few modifications. I made the 4T size, so it’ll fit her for awhile, but it ended up being extremely long on her. So I shortened the sleeves and hand-stitched two tucks into the skirt. The theory is that I can take them out as she gets taller.

The second modification was to add pockets! I put them in the side seams, just free-handing a pattern piece. And I think that just might be her favorite feature, because she calls it “my oonicorn dess wif the pockets.”

The construction wasn’t difficult, just a little time consuming with the appliqué and making sure the mane pieces for the skirt lined up with it. I wasn’t sure at first if it was worth the effort, since she seemed happy to look at it but completely uninterested in wearing it. But once I finally did convince her to try it on, about a week or so after finishing the tucks— and after she discovered the pockets— she really did end up liking it! She frequently grabs it out of her closet when it’s clean, so I’m feeling much better about taking another attempt at kids’ clothes.

After that, I made three different views of the Santa Fe top by Hey June Handmade. The first was using most of the leftover blue fabric, and some of the white, from the unicorn dress.

The second was from a flamingo print and coordinating solid that my mom recently passed on to me. She’s been babysitting my niece full time, and so she’s been getting even less sewing time than me. I wasn’t sure how this one would turn out, since the knit was heavier and less drapey than the other two pieces, but it seems to sit fine. My husband has commented a few times that he particularly likes this one.

It’s all about the bathroom selfies with this pattern, apparently.

The final is a second tie-dye print. I bought this one last year as part of the big 40th birthday haul, intending to sew it up. But then Halloween costumes took longer than I thought and I didn’t get to it. So I’m glad to have it done this year.

Except for the shot with my oldest’s tinkering supplies in the background. This is as good as it gets here.

I’ll do the final project for now as a separate post, because it needs a little more explanation. And this post is already pretty long.

First make of 2022: The Jasper

My one-garment-a-month streak continues. I did finish this one in January, but it took a little longer to get the photos. Anyway, here it is!

With my toddler helper, of course.

This is the Jasper sweatshirt by Paprika Patterns. It was hugely popular when it came out several years back, but if you’ve been here for awhile, you know that I very rarely get to a pattern until the train has been gone for some time! I’ve actually had the fabric (a rayon sweatshirting that is so soft) and pattern for around five years, as I’d seen it as a pattern that was hackable for nursing. I just didn’t manage to get to it until well after that baby (and the next) was born. I think it worked out for the best, though, as then I’d feel like I’d have to alter it to remove the zippers and this way has more longevity.

I made a size 7 for the top, graded up in the hips. I don’t know exactly how far, as the 7 was the largest size in my printed pattern and I just used the measurements between that and the next size down as a guideline for how much to add, but it worked out mostly well. I forgot to factor that in to the wedge between the welt pocket opening and the side panel, so it’s got a bit of a strange shape there, but let’s just say that’s a design detail. The fit is good, and that’s the most important thing here.

I’m trying to get my stash down to a more manageable level, which is likely going to take a long time if I keep averaging one garment a month. (It’ll be easier when the kids are older, right?) So I pulled out some leftovers to finish this. The pocket lining is from a Plantain tee that I made several years ago, and the button was salvaged from one of my old jackets that I outgrew. I still have two or three of those left, I think, so hopefully I can come up with a worthy jacket at some point!

Overall, the instructions were easy to follow. I’ll admit that I was skeptical of how the pocket would work out, likely since all of my sewing time doesn’t happen until at least 8:30 after a long day of homeschooling and everything else. My brain is kind of fried by then. But it came together nicely, and I’m happy to have a bright, cozy new thing to wear during the rest of the winter.

I haven’t forgotten about the wardrobe chains, and I’m hoping that my next project will be a good start to the next one. I just need to get it traced and cut so I can start! Which is the part that always delays me.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I do like to reflect on the goals that I made and what I might want to do next year. So, to review my 2021 goals, here’s what I said:

  1. Find a better time balance between sewing and scrapbooking, so I can continue to progress in both. This is still a challenge due to my life stage — sitting down at the computer to work on a digital page is still much easier while the kids are awake, than breaking out scissors and pins! But doing my 100 Day Project this year helped me realize that a good target for me is sewing 2-3 times a week, for 15-20 minutes. When I can get more, great, but that gives grace for things like kid bedtimes running late, or needing to prep school things, or my brain being so fried that I’ll have to pick out every wrong seam I sew. Or, you know, actually spending time with my husband.
  2. Make some “cake”! I did make a few good, often-worn basics this year, like my black Jade skirt and the denim jacket. So I’ll say this one was accomplished.
  3. But don’t forget some frosting. Did I get this one? Maybe the grunge print jeans, though I really did need some pants. Or my Carlsbad vest, which I would have worn more often if I’d had some more tees that aren’t geeky graphic prints. I had some more frosting planned, but I just didn’t get to it.
  4. Figure out the “mom wardrobe” styling thing. This one is a work in progress for sure. But I do think that the chain sewing helped a lot, since I was thinking in terms of building outfits instead of one-off pieces.
  5. Mostly, I just want to regain the joy that I used to have in sewing. And what community in that looks like for me now. I definitely have had some dry spells, and a big takeaway for me from this year is that I can easily slip into sewing droughts if I either don’t know what my next project will be when I finish one, or if I can’t get my next project cut out quickly. Usually the latter, since my life is the equivalent of multiple stars having to align to make that happen (and usually revolving around how quickly my kids go to sleep!

As for community, I’m still trying to figure that one out. One thing I’ve come to realize about myself over these past two years is that my introversion applies to social media as well. I thrive in smaller, more intimate groups, especially when I’m not always the one initiating. Obviously, in-person is ideal, and more than ever now that we all know what it’s like to have that taken away. Online is a good next best thing, but I need to put that in a healthy context. So The Sewing Sphere is still a good place for me, my only complaint is that sometimes it’s just too quiet!

And I’ve debated so many times over this year whether to close down my Instagram account. It’s too big, too much noise, too little feedback. I honestly miss the days when blogging was THE thing, and we all commented on each other’s posts and had actual conversations. Even though that’s unlikely to come back, I suppose that’s why I keep writing here— just my own quiet space to record my thoughts, whether anyone reads them or not. Anyway. That leads me to my first 2022 goal.

2022 Goals

  1. Focus on what really matters. The more my family has grown, the more the online stuff has given me the “butter scraped over too much bread” feeling. I plan to keep writing here as I make things, and chatting in the Sewing Sphere. But it’s time for me to seriously cut back on the rest. My not so inner introvert will be happier that way.
  2. Get back to some refashioning. I have an entire bin in the basement, not to mention some things that have been sitting in the closet for over a year, despite needing small tweaks (ok, and one major overhaul) to be wearable.
  3. Make and/or build on two outfit chains. While I’ve learned that “make this many garments” or pre-choosing specific pattern goals doesn’t work well for me, I think this one might. Especially since it allows for flexibility in building capsules out of things already in my closet.
  4. Stashbust! Admittedly, 2021 was the year that I’ve bought more fabric for myself than any other year since probably the Paris trip of 2014. But I turned 40 and had gift cards, so, why not? That being said, I do have quite the backlog of things like fabrics paired with specific patterns, so I think it might be interesting to see how many “chain reaction” pieces I can build with what I already own.
  5. Make something that stretches me. I don’t know what, exactly, this will look like yet. Perhaps trying some lingerie sewing, since I’ve been wearing the same three nursing bras that I sewed five years ago, and they’re getting ratty. Perhaps trying a new technique, or mixing prints in the same garment, or trying to make a zero-waste garment. (Which would be a huge challenge, since a lot of what I see looks shapeless and that is not what I prefer to wear.) But I have 12 months to figure that out, right?
  6. (Bonus!) Update my blog header. Seriously, as much practice as I’ve gotten with digital collage things over the past two years, surely I can come up with something better than that shoddy fabric stack photo!

2021, wrapped

All together, I made 17 projects this year – 3 Halloween costumes, 3 toddler garments, 2 pairs of pants (one being a test garment/ part of a pj set), 3 tops (one being another test and the second half of that pj set), 2 shorts, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 1 vest, and one jacket. I haven’t felt very productive in my sewing, but all things considered, that’s a good number!

Itch to Stitch was the clear winner in pattern company choices this year, largely due to trying multiple garments in her Sew Beautiful book. I have a long-term goal of sewing every pattern in that book, since her aesthetic is very wearable for me. Other companies used: Paprika Patterns, 5 Out of 4 Patterns, Sew Liberated, Hey June Handmade, New Look, Simplicity (for the boys’ costumes), Ottobre (for my daughter’s costume), and Peekaboo Pattern Shop (for my daughter and niece.) I’m hoping to at least start one more top before the year officially ends, but have gotten bogged down in the finding time to cut out part again.

Probably the most worn garments from this year were the Atenas jacket and Mountain View jeans. I still feel like pants are something that my wardrobe needs more of, so the ones I have are in frequent rotation. And the jacket was a useful layering piece. I really would like to make a second one, and have had the thought in my head all year that I’d like to make it from the pile of jeans in my refashion bin. The biggest hole remaining in my wardrobe (aside from the very sad state of the aforementioned bras) seems to be, of all things, a plain black tee. But I’m in the beginning stages of plotting my next wardrobe chain, and a black tee could fit perfectly into that.

In other DIY news, I totally failed at knitting again (I’m actually wondering if that cardigan is even worth finishing, since my sizing is pretty different after 3 kids than when I started it with just one). According to my favorite digital scrapping site’s gallery, I made over 200 pages on there this year. (I use a lot of templates to speed it up.) My husband and I have been working on intentionally developing some other skills to increase our self-reliance this year, so we’ve been spending more time on gardening in particular. We’ve also been experimenting with some toiletries. So far, we’ve gotten a lesson from my mom in making soap, and are perfecting a recipe for a more natural, aluminum free deodorant that seems to be working well for both of us.

So that basically sums it up! How was your year?

Sweater Dress Season

Winter is a fashion struggle for me. It seems like every year, I think that I should make some warm things. And then every year, I get sidetracked by something, and I finish maybe one or two things. And then I’m still cold and bored of the dark clothes that I seem to end up with. As the weather has been cooling down this fall, I’ve realized that I’m even more lacking than usual in warm things to wear both around my house, and specifically to church. So I’m attempting to do something about that to wrap up 2021.

This sweater dress is made from New Look 6298, and a teal hatchi knit that I was gifted a couple of years ago at Christmas. So it’s a pretty lightweight knit, but I figure I’ll be wearing it over leggings anyway. I started off with a size 18 on top and graded it to a 20 for my hips, since I didn’t want it to be tight around my midsection or hips. But I guess I forgot about Big 4 sizing, because it was essentially a sack!

After some consulting with my Sewing Sphere friends, I ended up taking it in about 1.5” at the underarms and the bust, grading that down to around 6” from the raw edge of the sleeves and to the hip pockets. And that ended up working out much better. The other change that I made was adding my usual inch of sleeve length, but that wasn’t necessary this time because the sleeves ended up being on the long side. But my wrists won’t be cold, so I’ll take it!

I’m still a bit on the fence with this one, and am feeling like I’m really struggling to make dresses that aren’t frumpy anymore, since my last attempt was a complete flop. I hope this isn’t going to be a long trend, since I’m officially a middle aged mom now and was hoping to avoid looking like one for a bit longer. But I think adding the scarf helps, and it’s nice to have something to wear this one with! My mom made it for me a year or so back, and it’s this cozy flannel with a zipper pocket so I can keep my phone in it. I just honestly haven’t had the basic color tops to pair with it. So while I’m taking a break from the official wardrobe chains for a bit while I knock out a few things, this dress does work nicely to link that and my old Espresso leggings that match the brown in the plaid. I have a couple of other scarves that I think will also pair well with this — teal is my jam, after all, so it shows up a lot!

Halloween sewing!

So here’s what I’ve been working on for the past 2+ months!

I was excited that my sons picked Lord of the Rings themed costumes this year. I read The Hobbit to them back in the late winter, though the spring. Which then turned into watching the Peter Jackson movies, followed by The Lord of the Rings. Being the Tolkien book geek that I am, I’d originally planned to read the books to them first at an older age, but as it turns out, most of their friends from our homeschooling activities have older brothers, and therefore have already seen the movies. So we went with it, and they loved it!

My oldest decided he wanted to be Legolas this year — he seems to be developing some level of interest in archery. My general goal with kid costumes is maximum rewearability, which is admittedly challenging with this theme. So I bought him a pair of olive joggers — he legitimately needed pants anyway — and pulled the one long sleeve tee that was a remotely ok color from his closet. For the tunic, I did a very hacked version of Simplicity 8483. I had to draw the yoke, and turn the sleeves into a long petal type two piece sleeve, and reshape the hem. The fabric is a mix of a curtain that I found at Goodwill, for the darker suede looking bits, and some olive twill that I’m pretty sure was left over from my pre-kid Thurlow pants binge. (Hoarding paid off!) it’s not quite screen accurate on the colors, as the darker should have been the yoke, but moms on a big time and budget crunch can’t be choosers. I drew the “embroidery” with a paint pen, and made the bracers more or less off of a simplified version of the pattern, with fabric left from my daughter’s costume. More on that in a bit.

He insisted that he wanted a quiver, so we spent an afternoon working on it together. I made the quiver itself from a corrugated cardboard box, a Pringles can, more leftover brown knit, and the straps were made from a pair of his brother’s outgrown pants that I found in my overdue-for-emptying sewing closet trash can. I couldn’t donate them because of holes, but they were just fine for cutting into strips! And though I worked the hot glue gun, my son did the bulk of the work on drawing and cutting out the arrowheads and fletchings on craft foam. He was so proud of his work, especially after they were attached to the dowels!

Thankfully, I did not have to make the bow, as we took the kids to the Renaissance Faire this year and they all wanted their souvenirs from a foam weapons shop.

My younger son loves Gandalf, so this was an easy choice for him. I used another modified take of the same Simplicity pattern, with a dash of Simplicity 9162 for the yoke. Originally, I had the robe drawn out really full with all of these pleats to try to replicate the movie. But my fabric for this was a set of four thrifted valances with the perfect rougher looking weave, and I just didn’t have the yardage. I suppose it’s just as well, he would have been swimming in it. I was able to reuse the original hems, which was nice! I had to do my first invisible zipper in about 7 years for the back, yay stretchy postpartum everything. And the front yoke is just stitched with yarn that I found in my neglected knitting stash.

I bought the hat, but could only find an adult size. I think it adds to the charm, though. The staff was a stick we found on a Memorial Day hike when this costume plan was formed. My husband whittled off the bark and sanded it down for all of his balrog fighting needs. We had a beard that my brother lent him, but he didn’t like the feel of it on his face, so we skipped it. And the belt is from my closet.

The pink is the pajama shirt that she refused to let me take off.

Finally, my daughter as Eowyn — highly appropriate, as that’s her middle name! I only made the vest for her, since she already had the perfect boots and we found a close enough dress while shopping Dharma Trading Company for a July 4th family tie dye binge. I used a modified Ottobre pattern for the vest, made from leftover interlock from my original Tiramisu dress. The hem and neckline were a good shape, I just needed to shorten the sleeves to a cap length, and I figured the tee would be a much more toddler friendly option than a corset! The gold bits were more paint pen embroidery. I’d originally planned to slice up the sleeves of the dress to better match the screen version, but since it was chilly that night/she likely would have just gotten them caught on things, I left them as is.

Flashback!

Fun fact: this was my second time making this costume! The first time was back around 2003, when the movies were still recent. It was seriously low budget since I was still in school, so it was just white muslin, polyester suedecloth, and a few spools of a loopy gold trim that I found with the budget ribbons at Joann’s. I wore it for multiple occasions, between a college costume party where no one recognized my character except the friend that I went with, some photoshoots for fun, and most recently at the DragonCon that I went to just before I got pregnant the first time. It doesn’t fit me anymore, with my wider post-baby hips especially, so I finally had to let it go. But it had a good run, and I got some geeky joy out of recreating it for my daughter during the films’ 20th anniversary years.

Gandalf is ready to go all Bridge of Khazad-Dum on me here.

Overall, though the little shieldmaiden kept her opinions to herself this time, the boys were pleased with their costumes. My older son was happy that the curtain fabric was so soft, and the younger one was asking to play with it even after Halloween was over. (Though, to be fair, he was also procrastinating on starting our homeschooling day.) I enjoyed getting to revisit crafting for my favorite fandom. But, to quote Bilbo, I’m quite ready for another adventure. Using all of the late summer/early fall sewing time that I had to do this means that I am seriously lacking in warm things!

Can I call it a chain…

…if there’s only 3 links?

I had grander plans for summer sewing and my Chain Reaction project. But in the end, I only finished three projects over the entire summer. The third, the Itch to Stitch Fortuna shorts, was mentioned in my last post. Today, to catch up, I’ll share the other two. (With some help from the toddler who refuses to let me get any project photos on my own.)

My first project, and the first one that I made for this intended chain, was the Shenanigans Skort from 5 Out of 4 Patterns. I ended up making this as part of her Facebook group’s sewalong. Since I already made this once before, last summer, it was a fairly quick project to knock out. The two changes that I made were adding some rise to the back, which worked well, and attempting to add in seam pockets. My thought was that it might give the overskirt more of a polished look than the patch pockets on last year’s black ponte version. That didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I ended up having to go back after about two washes and understitching them by hand, because they were bagging out so badly. Also, the stress points were already developing holes. So I won’t be doing that again, but I am happy with the changes to the fit.

The second project was another from the Itch To Stitch Sew Beautiful book, the Prague top. This is me being very late to the cold shoulder trend, and I’m still not entirely convinced about how I feel about the look on me. That being said, it was a pretty easy sew, and the shirt is comfortable to wear.

How fun is this print? I picked it up in the juvenile section at Joann’s, actually, because I really wanted a great novelty print and couldn’t find anything in the boring adult fabrics. (I guess this was my midlife crisis shopping trip?) Truth be told, a big part of what drew me to it was that I knew my sons would love it if Mommy has a dinosaur shirt. And they do.

I made a size 12, graded to 14 in the hips. I also shortened the sleeves just a bit. Will I make it again? I’m not sure. But it was worth trying.

I had other plans — a second Santa Fe top, and a seafoam colored skirt to pair with the Prague tee. I had hopes of sewing a dress and jacket combo that I’ve been plotting for several years, too, with a small chain built off of that. But we ended up having an extremely busy summer with plans nearly every weekend, and lots of late weekday bedtimes with my kids struggling to go to bed before the sun. I don’t regret losing the weekend time to making memories during our “Summer of Fun”, as my husband dubbed it, especially after last year. Lots of beach time, water park time, getting to see extended family and friends that I hadn’t gotten to see in over a year was worth it. I could have stood to have more of my weeknight time back, but it’s just a season of life. I can revisit those next year, right?

Now I’m trying to shift gears into Halloween costume mode. It’s been a slow start, since we’re also getting our homeschool year going, and trying to juggle two students plus a toddler there. But I did pick up a couple of patterns to use as starting points, and some curtains from the thrift shop to use for materials. So hopefully I’ll have that rolling soon.

Well, that got away from me.

Oh, hi, September. I didn’t mean to take so much time off of here. Honestly, I realized about 2/3 of the way through the summer that I never hit publish on this post, as I’d meant to go back and try to get better pictures. Obviously, my life is not conducive to better pictures, so here I am just playing catch up with what I have.

I had decided to take a break from the chain reaction sewing in order to fill a badly needed wardrobe gap. During the temperature ping-pong match that is Mid-Atlantic spring and fall, I can sometimes get away with my flannel pants and sometimes get away with my shorts. But more often than not, I really just need some lighter weight pants! And all I had left in this category, after three pregnancies’ worth of stretching killed my RTW set, was a pair of falling-apart Sewaholic Tofino pants that I made during my newlywed year.

I had been intrigued by the Fortuna Pants in the Itch to Stitch Sew Beautiful book since I first saw them, because—confession time— even though I wear them pretty regularly around the house, I’m not a huge fan of the jogger style pants. Especially the ones with the cuff on the bottom, because they remind me of 1980s sweatpants. These, however, have a wide leg option, and that is what I decided to try out.

My fabric was a soft, stretchy jersey that I hacked in half lengthwise and made a wrap baby carrier out of for my firstborn. It didn’t get used much, because it was very cumbersome to tie up out of the house (like dragging on the parking lot), and I got a Moby wrap at a swap before my middle child came along. So I’ve had it stashed for close to 5 years. I made the size 12, with a few modifications. First, I added about an inch to the back crotch curve. The finished pants ended up rather high rise, so this probably wasn’t necessary, but it’s an adjustment that I often need. I also graded it in to a size 10 at the waist, which worked great. Finally, I modified the front to have the angled pockets of the jogger version, because I got spoiled by having pockets in the multiple Carolyn pants and shorts that I’ve made, and can’t go back to pocketless pjs.

Let me just say, these pj pants are super comfortable. I’m sure a lot of that is due to the fabric, but I’m really loving the wide leg. When I wear them, I can’t help feeling like I’m wearing glamorous 1930s loungewear instead of pandemic world stretchy pants. I also feel like, with the right fabric, these could be easily dressed up or down. Maybe some future orchestra pants, if I can find the right black knit? The one thing that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with were the pockets, since they bag out very easily when I put my phone in my pocket. But more on that later.

I had some of the baby wrap left over, so the next pattern I tried was Hey June Handmade’s Santa Fe top. I didn’t realize when I printed it that I was essentially assembling 6 complete patterns, so the prep took the last several nights of my 100 Days Project. But it was a quick sew! I knew I wanted sleeves on my pj top, so I only had enough of the jersey left for the contrast and piecing together the neckband. I paired it with a lightweight black jersey that I’d ordered in hopes of making a good basic black tee, but it’s not great in the opacity and recovery departments. Good enough for sleepwear, though!

I made a straight size L for this one, and believe I’ll be sticking with it for now. I did find the neckband a little unwieldy, mostly due to needing a lot more practice to do a decently straight edge stitch on my coverstitch machine. I’m guessing the sleeve bands were supposed to have similar construction and be half the width , but oh well.

Overall, I think both patterns are keepers, and have definite TNT potential. In fact, I’ve already made the Fortuna again, but as the shorts!

I did make a few little tweaks the second time. I wanted to give my pockets a little more stability, so I drafted a self-facing, and used that as a sort of lining/interfacing when I sewed them on. It’s not a perfect fix, but my phone does pull the pocket far less out of shape than in my pj pants. The binding was a little different as well, but that was more me accidentally sewing it on the incorrect side and then just rolling with it.

Finally, I made a faux cuff by basically flipping the hem to the outside. The fabric, a very soft French terry, is excellent for comfort, but the color combined with the style was giving me serious gym shorts vibes. So this was me attempting to be marginally more stylish than I’ve become. That being said, I’ve been wearing these quite often since I finished them. So, since I don’t have many shorts anyway, I think more will be in order when I have time and comfy fabric in more interesting colors and prints.

Chain Reaction, The Second: Up to Shenanigans

It’s been a slow start since the 100 Day Project ended. Admittedly, I needed to ease off the pedal some, as we were wrapping up our first year of official homeschool. (Official in that I had a state sanctioned attendance requirement to meet, since we did preschool at home last year too.) I did have time to pull out stash and patterns for a tentative 6-piece summer chain, though, so here’s the first piece!

Wardrobe styling courtesy of my 4 year old, who insisted that I wear my “superhero shirt”. And I forgot to take off the house sandals, oops.

Last summer, I was hopeful that I can turn the 5 Out of 4 Patterns’ Shenanigans Skort into a TNT pattern, as knit skorts have proven to be extremely practical for summer wear with little kids. I made some tweaks from the last pair, adding a little length to the skirt and increasing the back crotch length. Though I think the back skirt could use just a smidgen more length, the shorts fit is perfect now.

A little lo-hi, but still wearable.

I wanted to fiddle with the pockets this time, since I don’t necessarily want to do patch pockets on everything. So I added in-seam pockets to the overskirt. And, well, this may not have been the fabric to try it with. It’s a thicker jersey type, as opposed to the ponte that I used in my original version, and the edges seriously like to roll toward the right side of the fabric. That made pressing the hems a challenge, and also made the pockets not lay very well.

I probably should have understitched the pockets when I initially made them, but I was doing it in a 4 day rush job to keep up with a sewalong that the pattern company was running. I did finish in time (though I didn’t win the drawing, oh well), but after about two wears, I could see that the pockets kept rolling toward the outside of the seam, and there was danger of a hole developing at the stress point already. So I had to go back and understitch by hand, and reinforce that lower corner. Proof that, to quote a chapter that I recently reread in Lord of the Rings, “short cuts make long delays”.

Keeping it real with my clingy toddler co-model

All that to say, I don’t quite have the pockets down for the skort TNT of my dreams. I don’t think I’ll do the inseam again. But otherwise, this was a promising step forward, and a solid foundation to build this next wardrobe chain on. Every other piece I picked is also a knit, so I’m hoping that I can knock the rest of this out a little more quickly. To be perfectly honest, I’m hoping to save some time to knock out some Halloween sewing before we start school again, just to save me the stress of deadline sewing in the fall!

Lessons from the 100 Day Project (and a project)

I finished! It really ended up being more of a 101 day project for me, as I missed one day due to getting home from a church music practice and finding the toddler still awake. My poor husband had been on bedtime duty for a couple of hours by that point, so I took over. Such is mom life. Since I didn’t end up posting about it during the process nearly as much as I initially planned, I’ll just look back now.

But first, a little project that didn’t make it on here yet!

I had a substantial amount of the coral knit left over from my recent Stasia tee, so I made a little something for my daughter. This pattern is the Chicka Chicka Bum Bum, by Peekaboo Pattern Shop. It’s a cute little pattern, with options for elastic and shorts that make it versatile. But I’ll admit that I’m partial to the little skort option, because it is so stinking cute. And quite practical, as my girl was happy to prove.

Because going down the slide a thousand times was way more important than what her skirt was doing.

It was a very quick make, too—I think something like 3 days from start to finish, which is amazingly fast in my world. In fact, it was so quick that I immediately made two more, this time a matching set in black for my daughter and my niece, who is six months younger. I probably still have enough of the coral left that I could have made that for my niece, too, but my brother likes to find black clothes for her whenever he can, so I know that one will get used.

Back to the Project. During this 100-ish day stretch, here’s everything that I did:

  • Finished the Mountain View jeans (already started)
  • Sewed the Atenas jacket, which was the most time consuming garment that I made in this timeframe
  • Sewed the Jade Skirt
  • Sewed the Stasia tee
  • Did a test run of a knit pants pattern and started one for a tee as a new pajama set (both to be blogged soon)
  • Mended pants for my husband and younger son, and my daughter’s fabric Easter basket that got attacked by a mouse before she even hit her first Easter last year
  • Made the three Chicka Chicka Bum Bums mentioned above

So, all together, I did nearly as much in this 100 days as I did in almost all of 2020. Crazy, right?

It was certainly helpful to me to think of this in terms of just needing 15 minutes a day, though there were many days that I went longer. In particular, I spent hours of my evenings trying to finish up my jeans jacket by my self imposed deadline of my birthday. Overall, though, I found it very sustainable to think of just doing a couple of seams and then moving on. This is something I’m hoping to continue.

Because I was focused on this as my “project”, though, I did notice that I wasn’t reading or scrapbooking as much. The latter in particular is something that I prefer to not get too far behind on, so I don’t forget what details I want to write on the pages. There were definitely days, once I hit the 80 day mark or so, that I felt that I’d be ok with taking a break and doing the other creative outlets that are important to me. And I think that was a valuable takeaway as well.