A bold, bright Brazi

20190623_154701I recently finished another maternity garment, with an eye towards postpartum and nursing. This is the dress version of the Brazi pattern, by Stitch Upon A Time. And it was definitely not without its challenges! You know, besides the current story of my life that is dealing with pregnancy symptoms that leave me feeling too unwell to sew too often. I actually wrote a pattern review for this one, for the first time in awhile. (I actually had to make myself a new account on there this year, because I could NOT get back onto the site with my old email address!) So this is mostly going to be from that, with a little elaboration.

20190623_154720Pattern Description: A sports bra with options for either a flat front or a crossover front (the latter is a separate add-on pattern), and two length options for a skirt. I made the add-on crossover front, for nursing friendliness, with the maxi skirt. Here’s a better shot of the front. It looks a little collapsed on the side, but the band underneath is pretty much being swallowed by my belly right now. So I think once I’m wearing this postpartum, that should even up. 

Pattern Sizing: Bust size XXS-XXXL (25″-53″), skirt size 1-8 (underbust 23″-47″). I forgot to add this to the review, but I made the size L for the bra and the size 3 skirt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, aside from the baby bump! (Side note, these photos were taken at about 29 weeks pregnant.) Only 10 weeks and 2 days to go until my due date. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t have any trouble with that.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I liked: The instructions were very well laid-out for options like adding bra cups, and what pages to use for finishing the band as a bra vs a dress. What I wish was different: a wider range of cup sizing. I cut the larger pieces that were meant for a D-cup, and it was not enough for me as a DD who’s probably even bigger at the moment due to pregnancy.

Fabric Used: The skirt is an ITY. The top is a 4-way stretch jersey that I’m not entirely sure if it’s not supposed to be swimsuit fabric, but it was all I could find. (I actually ended up using the wrong side on the outside to tone down the shininess.) 

img_20190519_215625.jpgPattern alterations or any design changes you made: I had to make some major changes to the front bodice, because there was not enough coverage on either the crossover or the lower part of the bodice the first time I attempted to make the top. I had to add a curved piece with about 1.5″ to the bottom, and nearly the same along the neckline. (This is pretty much what it ended up looking like, with the washi tape being the divider line between the pattern and what I needed to add. I did end up curving that lower straight line from both corners after I took this picture, though, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the side seams not matching up.  Also, I added pockets in the side seams. (Because POCKETS.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t think I’d sew it as a dress again, but now that I have the fit worked out, I might make it as a nighttime support bra. I’m not convinced it would have enough support to use as a sports bra for myself, for anything higher impact than yoga. As a dress that can work for maternity and beyond, so you get more for your sewing time, I would recommend it.

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So now that the review part is over, here’s the test version of the top.  This was actually supposed to be the dress top, but I had to relegate it to (somewhat) wearable muslin status after discovering that my chest was falling out of all sides of the front as drafted! No pictures, because that was definitely in the category of Not Safe For Work. Or church. Or parenting. Or anything involving going out in public, really! I’d recycled some cups from an old bra where the underwires had fallen out, so I had to unpick those, and then buy new black fabric to start over because I just didn’t have enough. (Side note, 4 way stretch plain black fabric is surprisingly difficult to find! All Joann’s had was some fancy athletic stuff that was something like $28 a yard, yikes, and my usual online fabric haunts didn’t have many options either. But the options they had were still about half the price!) But I did finish the original top off as a nighttime nursing bra, because I’ve had to get through the last 2 babies with just one and I could genuinely use that.

img_20190625_135234Speaking of babies, she got something out of this, too! Though I didn’t have much of the original black fabric left, I got surprised with a little extra on the second piece due to the shop reaching the end of the bolt. So even though we’re getting most of her clothes secondhand from generous friends (plus some new things from excited grandparents), I couldn’t resist whipping out a little 0-3 month skirt to go with some of the more gender-neutral onesies that she’s inheriting from her big brothers. I found this free tutorial from Delia Creates, and made it with the foldover waistband so she can hopefully get some extra use out of it lengthwise. I still have some largish scraps left of this black, too, so we’ll see if I manage to come up with anything else to make for the kids out of it! But for now, I’m going to move on and see what else I can get done, since I’m running out of time where I can comfortably sit at the machine.

No, there’s too much. Let me sum up.

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

the best-laid plans…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

the year-end wrap up and some upcoming plans

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First off, my last sewing projects of 2018. I had enough free time the day after Christmas to whip up another matching set of Brindille & Twig ringer tees for the boys, in long sleeves this time. I made Hobbit’s in the 4/5 size, and Padawan’s in the 24 month size. (He’s a bit of a peanut, and not quite out of the 18 month clothes even though he’ll be turning 2 in the spring. I strongly suspect I may have to sew several pairs of pants for him this fall, since he seems to be pretty slender for his age.)

And now, all the nerdy number things!

This year, I’ve made:
20181226_160928Pajamas, just pants- 1 (I had a top to go with this)
Pajamas- 4 sets (3 with knit tops instead of pj pattern)
Tops for me- 5 (refashions- 2)
Dresses- 3
Boy shirts- 4
Toys- 2.
Quilts- 1
Shorts- 1
Swimsuit- 1 (3 piece set)
Coats- 3 (1 for me and 2 for boys)
Jeans- 1 (yaaaaaaay!)

Total: 26 projects for the year. Not too shabby!

Yards of fabric used: 51.5 on record, probably closer to 55. I did have to purchase some fabric to make the boys’ coats, and it never quite made it into my spreadsheet. Neither did this dog jersey.

Total yards in my stash currently: I started the year with 342.5 yards, and now have 394.49.  So that’s a net gain of about 52 yards. Oops. Admittedly, most of this was Christmas gifts from my mom (I just added it up and got nearly 73 yards!!), all tagged for specific projects, as we spent quite a bit of time over the fall chatting about what I needed most in my wardrobe. I love every single piece, and they all fit very well within my color palette that I’ve slowly been refining my closet to, so I know they’ll get used. It’s just a matter of having the time to make them up!

I also had to buy some quilt fabrics, as I kind of got suckered into agreeing to assemble some quilt kits that my mother in law bought several years ago. But I know I can’t just quilt for months without losing my mind, so my plan is to use any sewing time I get at my parents’ house where I don’t need to cut projects out will be dedicated to this until it’s done. (And I totally plan to reward myself with a fun sewing treat when I’m all done, since she’s paying me.)

I also wanted to reflect on some of the long term challenges I took part in this year.

First, the RTW Fast from Goodbye Valentino. I did get through the entire year without purchasing any clothes for myself, aside from some desperately needed bras once I finished nursing, and that fell into the guidelines. I was gifted a few things, though. Like my mom surprised me with several knit skorts over the summer, because I had virtually nothing to wear on my at home days where playing on the floor in skirts isn’t the most practical/it took so long to just make one pair of shorts due to fitting. I think that there was some value in participating, but I don’t plan to continue in 2019. For one thing, it’s bothered me the whole year that the restriction extends to purchasing secondhand clothes. I’ll admit that in the past, I’ve binge-shopped at the thrift store without much thought between “oh, that’s cute” or “I can use this as fabric!” And this did prevent me from doing any of that this year. But given that sewing time is a precious commodity for me, I can see value in supplementing my handmade wardrobe with a few carefully chosen thrifted pieces, especially in categories that I’m not necessarily interested in sewing like exercise clothes. Also, from a sustainability standpoint, it seems ridiculous to force people into feeling like they need to purchase fabric to make some basics if you can save a perfectly good existing piece of clothing from getting incinerated or thrown in a landfill, provided that fit isn’t an issue.

I also didn’t particularly enjoy the Facebook group. I’m not on there as much as I used to be, and that was the sort of group that was constantly filling my news feed because of the sheer number of posts. Plus I didn’t like that people were getting called out/kicked out for things like, one example I remember from early in the year when I was following more closely, one woman getting surprised by a ski trip and needing to buy a coat because she didn’t have one that would keep her warm enough. It just seemed like a lot of ridiculous policing and no grace for life happening, so I stopped following it partway through the year. I think I’ll stick with the Stashbusting Sewalong for my Facebook sewing fix, since that one is all about cheering each other on and laughing when we end up getting more stash anyway.

The 2018 Make Nine was a more positive experience for me. Since I decided to swap out one top for jeans, I got 7 out of 9, which is very good! I also like that that one is more about celebrating the wins, and any projects that get done. I’m also going to let that one go for next year, though I would participate in this one again in the future. I think that after the unemployment scare this fall, and all the derailing of plans that happens with young kids, I’m feeling very reluctant to plan too far in advance. And since I’m also trying to be realistic in my goal making/more carefully build my wardrobe, I think I’ll be better off if I take it season by season rather than a year at a time. So after much consideration, I’ve decided to do the Seasonal Sew 3 challenge instead.

So, here’s my winter plan!

  1. IMG_20181205_124507I’ve had a plaid flannel Archer shirt on my Make Nine for 2 years straight, and failed to make it both times. But I still love the fabric, it’s one of the prettiest plaids I’ve ever seen, and I want it in my closet. I was procrastinating because of sleeve alterations, but I finally got it cut out yesterday, and am hoping to start sewing it up in the next day or so. I think it’ll be a great option to go with my gold jeans that I wear for work, and maybe even those turquoise jeans that I just made!
  2. New Look 6417. I’ve been drooling over this one since I bought it last winter, because it’s so unique looking. I was gifted some cream ponte knit to make it this year, and I’m going to see if I have enough of this leathery looking fabric left from my old Gabriola skirt to make the binding. If not, I have some brown interlock left over from my first Tiramisu dress that I can probably make work. Given that this would go with basically every pair of pants I have, except maybe my grey jeans (I guess grey and brown can work? I mean, that’s the entire winter landscape here, but BLAH), I think this could be a good one to wear either for teaching or home days, as long as the boys aren’t getting into paint or I’m not cooking pasta sauce.
  3. Since I’m most hurting for stay at home clothes, I think the third thing will be to try out the Hudson pants. I have some stashed grey ponte that I got to try out a sewing dare project from Gillian from at least a year ago, but haven’t been able to get to, and maybe I need to rethink what to do there. So I think I’ll try the fit out with those, and if it works, whip up a second pair with a funkier knit that I got for Christmas.

Bonus project: some matching Twig & Tale Trailblazer vests for my guys, to go along with the Sewcialists’ upcoming menswear theme month. Doug is really excited about this one, because my mom made the boys some matching vests a few months ago and he was half-joking about why he didn’t get one, so she bought him some fabric with his favorite hockey team logo plus some corduroy for the outside for Christmas, enough to make matching vests for him and the boys. Since he’s turned down every offer I’ve ever made to sew clothes for him in the past, I’m going to prioritize this one for the season, and plan to start it as soon as I’m done with the Archer. So if I do have to drop or swap something in my plan to something faster, I’ve already decided that the sweater can be pushed off. (Especially since I’ll have to make all of the bias trim before I can do that anyway.)

Sewing top 5: 2019 goals!

As is tradition, I’m going to begin this post with a review of my goals for this past year to see how I did.

  1. I’d like to work towards developing a nice stash of TNT patterns. I think I’ve made good progress on this! I think I’ve got my new sizing figured out to the point where I can use my old beloved Sewaholic Renfrew again. The Stasia tee/tank by Sew Liberated looks like it will become a favorite, and I look forward to trying the dress sometime. I have high hopes for the Helen’s Closet Blackwood cardigan. And both the shorts version of the True Bias Lander pants and the Itch to Stitch Mountain View jeans were a success, which fills a huge hole in my TNT pattern stash!
  2. This may be the year I finally have to tackle one of the few garment types I haven’t tried: a swimsuit. Done. See this post.
  3. I need to restock my pajamas. While I still feel like I could probably use another pair of pj pants in not-flannel to pair with a tee for those middle temperature nights, I’m in much better shape for the solstice seasons now.
  4. I’d like to start building towards some smaller capsules within my wardrobe. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily sewed for that in this year, but I did spend a lot of time evaluating what I have, and that’s a good start. See this post.
  5. In general, I want to be more creative in using what I have. I really didn’t buy much fabric this year at all! Which made the experience of shopping for the few carefully considered pieces that I did buy (and used right away) more special. I also got a few things out of my refashion bin, so that’s a good bonus.

My bonus knitting goal was to finish my Gnarled Oak cardigan. Yeeeeeah… that didn’t happen. I basically spent the entire year knitting two sleeves and no yoke, but at least I made visible progress. Still, I think my days of knitting this in the car while Doug drives are over, because now I have to read charts and I am cursed with very swift motion sickness when reading in a car. (My lifelong sorrow, as Anne Shirley would say, since I could have read SO many more books in my life otherwise!) Maybe third year will be the charm?

On to 2019! So here’s what I’m thinking…

  1. Leave room for frosting. I’ve been all about practical garments and filling holes ever since the Mom Wardrobe became a thing for me. But one of my favorite garments that I made this year was a colorful, gorgeous, unnecessary dress. I was also having a good deal of FOMO over the #sewfrosting challenge that happened last month, especially since my life just didn’t allow me to jump in. So yes, I need to work on filling those wardrobe holes that I feel are in my life, but I also need to remember that sewing is supposed to be fun, and I don’t have to have slow fashion guilt over just making something because I want to.
  2. That being said, my next goal is to work on the “Mom Wardrobe”. The struggle is real, people. I think I’ve got a pretty good grip on what to wear on days that I’m teaching, or to go to church. Where I’ve been having trouble all year is what to wear on the days that I’m just at home! And now that my teaching is consolidated to 3 days instead of 4, there’s more of them. Since the boys are getting to the ages where art supplies and dirt are a bigger part of everyday life, I need things that are easy care, but hopefully not embarrassing to wear out on errands or to the playground. Right now, I’m living in mostly badly fitting blue jeans that I bought in postpartum desperation, and inadequately warm knit tops. So I’m thinking maybe some Hudson pants (I know, last indie pattern sewist on earth), maybe another pair of pull-on jeans if my stretchy enough stashed denim is enough yardage, and cozy tees and layering pieces. And a lot more tank tops for summer!
  3. Get creative with some #sewingleftovers. Since the fabrics I often use just aren’t the best for rough and tumble boy clothes, it’s not often that I can just make smaller clothes with what’s left. So I’m looking for inspiration for adult garments that involve elements like patchwork or print mixing, and hoping that maybe I can use up some of these smaller pieces in a stylish way.
  4. Work on my styling. I know that’s not quite a sewing goal, but I feel like it’s related. Knowing that separates are my favorite things to wear, I’ve been saying for years that I want a more mixable wardrobe (without having to go full out neutral Pinterest capsule, ugh). I did enjoy doing Me Made May and the Slow Styling challenge that happened in October on Instagram, and think it’ll be a good way to help me be more thoughtful about what makes sense to add to my wardrobe. I’m just not sure how to do this yet, like whether I should document the outfits with me-mades (or even including my RTW) on IG stories, or what. Any suggestions?
  5. You know, the first four goals were easy to come up with, and I’m drawing a blank on this one. So instead of a sewing goal, I’m going for knitting and will say that it’s finish up my Gnarled Oak cardigan for real this time. And then think through some smaller projects that I can mostly tackle with my existing yarn stash, because clearly I am not in a life stage where knitting sweaters is a good idea! I’m thinking maybe I should finally try socks. I have enough for 2 pairs, though my continued ability to make those will depend on the availability of non wool sock yarn. But since the cardi may very well take all of 2019, given my record lately, I won’t stress about that right now.

I did decide to do one little side goal this year. I’ve been interested in the 100 Day Project for awhile. I honestly don’t feel like sewing is necessarily a realistic way for me to participate in that right now, as I have things like orchestra rehearsal nights where I can’t leave the boys unsupervised long enough during the day for even a short sewing session, or I have to sometimes wait to have time to cut my next project out in my mom’s sewing room. But since I can usually grab 15-20 minutes on a computer every day by letting the boys watch one of the irritating preschool cartoons that they like, I’m going to attempt to do a digital scrapbooking project for that this upcoming year, starting in January. I don’t know yet if I’ll share that here or not, but it is a creative project, so I might do that on IG stories or something. We’ll see how I feel next week.

I’m still feeling torn about specific project goals and how to plan them (like Make 9 vs seasonal or something else), though maybe I’ll have more clarity after Christmas and a nice little stash tidy. And Gillian had an interesting suggestion on Instagram that I’m mulling over. So I’ll keep you posted. How do you plan your sewing? Any goals or plans that you’re particularly excited about for 2019?

Sewing top 5: 2018’s greatest hits!

It’s always fun to look back over the year and see what worked (or didn’t) out of the things I made. So here’s the 5(ish) projects that were the biggest winners of 2018.
2018 top 5 hits

1. Pajamas for days. The most used pattern this year was undoubtedly the Closet Case Carolyn pajamas, as I used it to make 3 pairs of pants, 2 shorts, and 1 button up shirt. I’ve been happy with the fit right out of the envelope (minus the one butt adjustment I made before the first pair and kept), and having pockets puts this firmly in the camp of favorite pj pattern ever.

2. Bring on the frosting! Admittedly, my sewing over the last 4 years has been focused more on filling holes, mostly practical kid stuff, and just restocking utilitarian pieces. But this McCall’s maxidress that I made over the summer was just fun, and bright, and happy. And even though it reads more pink than I usually ever go for, I wore it quite a bit between the time it got finished and the time it got cold. (And I’m plotting a winter styling attempt.)

3. As cake as it gets. On a whim, after finding a cable textured ivory knit at Joann’s, I decided to make a basic tee to test a new to me pattern, the Sew Liberated Stasia tee, and hopefully replace the Kirsten Kimono tee that was too sheer and didn’t quite fit my hips. It certainly delivered, and became another frequently worn piece since it goes with most of my bottoms, solid or not.

4. JEANS! I don’t have a ton to say since the Itch to Stich Mountain View Jeans was one of my most recent projects, but I will say that I’ve liked the comfort level of pull on jeans more than I thought I would. And just because I don’t necessarily have a lot of tops to go with at this time (though that vanilla cake top will, lol) doesn’t mean I won’t shamelessly plan a mini capsule wardrobe to go with!

5. Hacking for the win. One of my long standing goals has been to improve my pattern hacking skills. The Seamwork Mesa dress that I hacked to be longer and nursing friendly was a definite winner, that got worn a lot from the spring though the fall. Apparently the community at large thought so, too, because that showed up twice in my Instagram top 9!

Bonus: the transitional coat. I have trouble counting this as a 2018 make, since the only sewing I did on it this year was to finish the toggles. But my Leanne Marshall Simplicity coat did exactly what I hoped it would, keeping me more comfortable on those 40s-60s range days. And rather stylishly so, I think.

Coming soon: the 5 things that didn’t quite work out as well.

an unseasonal Blackwood

I’m trying to wrap a few projects up so I can take some time to do some year end things like tidy up my sewing space and my stash closet. This one had been in my queue all fall, and I’m glad I finally got to it.

20181213_133626The pattern is the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet, and though this was my first time making one of her patterns, it won’t be the last! The most difficult part of putting this one together was attempting to do some vague pattern matching with this big abstract zigzag. I’m not sure how successful it was, but honestly, it’s large scale enough that no one will probably even notice. Once I got it cut out, I was able to get it sewn together in only three sessions, which is really good for me these days.

To be honest, I don’t think this particular sweater will get much use for the next few months. The fabric is a very lightweight and sheer sweater knit that my mom gave me last Christmas, specifically for this pattern. I love the colors and the boldness of it, and I think it’ll be a great pairing with the Mountain View jeans that I recently finished. But it’s not a very warm knit. It wasn’t quite as cold today, so I was able to get away with it over a tee for its debut outing. But I can’t wear it over long sleeves very easily, as the fabric is rather grippy, so I think this will be a better layering piece for the spring and fall.

20181213_134005That being said, there were several features I love about this pattern, so whenever I get another appropriate knit, I think I’ll make another! Aside from just the fast sew, there’s the fact that it has pockets. (Which I cut on the cross grain to avoid pattern matching problems, but I’m also hoping that they won’t sag as easily that way. Though this honestly might not hold up to the weight of my phone!)

Also, the sleeves! I’m used to having to add at least an inch to all long sleeves. But since these were designed to be longer, I didn’t have to adjust for once. I’m also a fan of the cuffs and bands to avoid hemming (see my enduring love for the Sewaholic Renfrew.)

Overall, I’m happy to have this to look forward to wearing, like if we end up with some random warm February days again in 2019!

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!

where my wild things are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

falling for coats

Simplicity coatI’m finally showing the 8th project of my 2017 Make Nine list. Yeah, that’s right, I’m well over half a year late in blogging this! I actually started writing this post last winter, but didn’t have an opportunity to get pictures before yesterday. This coat had been on my list since the previous fall/winter, when I ran into a big chunk of days that were ridiculously hard to choose outerwear for. You know those days where it ranges somewhere between a low in the 40s and a high in the 60s Fahrenheit? We get those pretty frequently in the fall and spring around here. And it always ends up that my Thinsulate-lined winter coat is too hot by the afternoon, but my unlined jacket is too cold for the mornings. I have this vintage leather jacket that was my mom’s in the 70s that I used to wear on days like this, but alas, it’s too snug now. Plus something I can wash more easily is helpful these days, with my messy little boys. So it was time for another coat.

Simplicity coatMy sewing process over this last year or so has been to keep one project going at home and one at my mom’s sewing room, and this was the latter project from last September through January of this year. I was hoping to finish this by November, but obviously that didn’t happen. I used Simplicity 8262, which is a design by my favorite Project Runway winner, Leanne Marshall. I just couldn’t resist that huge double collar! I’d originally thought to do the longer version with the asymmetric hem, but decided that the shorter version would work better with the lack of drape that I’d be working with. My workaround for my skin’s lack of wool tolerance was to underline a cotton twill that I had on hand with fleece. It was quite the process; first I hand basted the fleece to the outer pieces, then I trimmed down the seams, then I catch stitched the seams down to the fleece since the thickness wasn’t pressing as flat as I wanted. I ended up topstitching down the lengths of several seams because of this as well, and I like the sort of corded effect that was the result.  (You can see it on the back princess seam here.) For the record, I traded the fleece for the best quality woven interfacing I can buy around here on the collar and facing pieces, to avoid the bulk. Then the whole thing was lined with a gold Bemberg that I’d originally purchased for a Reglisse dress lining, before the size I’d traced but not cut yet became too small.

There were a couple of things in the directions that I really wish had been written differently. It’s hard to plan ahead for changing the steps when a project takes a solid 4+ months. The flared hem was tricky to navigate, with its partially bagged lining. That’s not a technique that I’ve really had a chance to work with, but I think it would have sewed better if the hem had been completely by machine and the lining got closed up in the back seam or something. I also wish I’d sewed the toggles on before putting in the facing, both for ease of installation and to avoid the obvious mess of stitching inside.

Simplicity coatThese toggles literally brought me to tears, though thankfully I like the finished look, at least from the outside. The last time I tried to sew leather was several years ago, and it did not go well for me at all. So many stitches got skipped that the resulting bag was unusable. I’d hoped that this time would go smoother, since the toggles were mostly a single layer of leather and I had access to an actual leather foot and needle this time. But nooooooo. I realized quickly that the stitching was still skipping, even when I switched to a triple stitch in hopes that it would catch more. I ended up just sewing over it to punch holes in the toggles, then having to go back and hand stitch over at least half of the edges to reinforce them. The inside looked like such a mess after this that I ended up sewing small patches of the twill inside to hide the stitching. So I didn’t get pictures of it, but it makes the facings and lining look a little odd in those spots. I do wonder if not having the extra layers of twill and interfacing inside would have helped it sew better, but I’m also wondering if maybe I just wasn’t meant to sew with leather. (So frustrating, since a project I’ve been plotting for a few years now involves stashbusting some pleather I bought and never used for a costume that didn’t work out. I’d still like to make it, so any tips? Especially from Bernina users?)

Simplicity coatI didn’t get to wear this a whole lot last season, since our spring warmed up very quickly. Just a couple of random warmer days in February. But it did prove to be the perfect weight for those days, so I’m hoping to get some good use out of it this fall. It’s been the go-to coat pretty much this entire week, and I didn’t freeze or sweat during an extended time on the playground, so I think I nailed what I was going for! As a bonus, I already had the perfect set of hand-knitted accessories to coordinate, with this hat and handwarmer set that was one of my first successful knitting projects. Since it is taking me ages to knit anything these days– seriously, I’ve been working on the same cardigan for over two years now, and though I do have a scarf I’ve been leaving at my parents’ house, I really haven’t been working on it more than one row every few months– it’s nice to know I can pull from my accessories stash on this one. Thanks, past me.

With the exception of the toggles, I did enjoy the process of making this coat. I do like doing those really involved projects every so often, since those are the ones that often help me the most with building skills. And with all of the hand sewing that seem to accompany my coat builds (and the lack of opportunity to wear more formal dresses in my life), they’re the best way to practice my couture techniques! This was a good stashbuster as well. The twill was actually free, destashed onto me from my husband’s grandmother. The fleece was all remnants I had on hand, so if this Instagram shot actually links (I have the worst luck with IG embeds on here, the pictures always show up blank), you can see some of the weird hodgepodge of the underlining. There’s something like 3 different colors in there! And, as mentioned, the lining was from a dress that ended up not happening. So now I just need to figure out what to do with the outside fabric for that, haha. The toggles were from an Etsy shop based in the UK, and were the only thing I had to buy new other than the pattern. And though the pockets are useless for hands, they’re a good size for my phone. So overall, I’m satisfied with this project!