Lessons learned from Me-Made May, part 2

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

Days 10-17

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

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

Days 18-24

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

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

Days 25-31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, onto Me-Made May…

Days 1-9 collage

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

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

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

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

And here’s what I’ve learned so far:

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

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

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

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

5. Thoughts on more specific garments:

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

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

A quarterly check-in and Me Made May

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pajama-rama

This is really a catch-up post, since this is what I spent most of January and a little bit of early February sewing. One of my #2018makenine goals was the Carolyn pajamas by Closet Case Patterns, because my sleepwear stash was in really rough shape! Especially my winter pajamas, since everything was either falling apart or horribly stretched or just too small now. So I’ve replaced all but one set with some brand new pajama pants, plus some knit tops.

IMG_5644 First up, the plaid pants. I actually bought this flannel to go with a Doctor Who-themed Christmas tee, not pictured here. The pants overall were pretty simple to make, especially since I just used black thread for all three pairs and knocked them out assembly-line style. The hardest part was probably just cutting this pair out, because of the plaid matching, but I think it went pretty well. The top that I’m wearing with this one is just a store-bought knit shirt that I used to wear at my garden center job, but never really pulled out for everyday wear. I don’t know why, it’s a perfectly serviceable black shirt, but it works well for free pajamas.

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I did have to make two adjustments on here. The length was oddly long on me, so I just chopped a couple inches off of the hem. The less expected one was that I actually had to adjust for my backside. When I was tracing them out, the crotch curve seemed kind of short to me. So I took some measurements, decided that it might be best to add some length to it, and quickly looked up how to do that. I think it was a good choice, because I’m pretty sure I’d tear these up in awkward places sooner if I hadn’t. (Hi, Padawan!)

Also, can I say how nice it is to have pajama pants with pockets? Let’s be honest, life with kids means that sometimes I don’t get my pjs off before mid-morning, so it’s nice to have somewhere convenient to keep my phone.

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My second print is navy with some lighter blue sunflowers, and for the top, I went with the Sewaholic Renfrew. If it looks a little saggy in a few places, it’s because of the drape of the fabric. It’s one of those bamboo rayon blends that is probably all wrong for the structure of this top, but oh so comfortable to sleep in. Mostly, I wanted to do a wearable muslin so I could sort out my new sizing, after the complete disaster that was the basic black nursing tee that I made last summer. I’m happy to say that this worked out much better! I ended up going down another size, and grading in another size around the waist. So I’m feeling much more confident about my chances of success, next time I decide that I need a quick knit project and want to use one of the knits I’ve been hoarding for this pattern. Yay, I have one of my favorite TNTs back again!

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Since actually taking pictures of me wearing things is generally the thing that stands between me and more frequent blogging, I decided to let the floor model the last set. It’s this adorable cartoon London-themed print, and I paired it with a cotton-poly interlock that had been in my stash for ages. The top, of course, is the Plantain tee, since apparently that is what I make for something like every third project right now.

 

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Seriously, how cute is this fabric? It has Union Jack teapots!! No TARDIS, but the Anglophile in me is still quite satisfied, and ready to curl up in these to read some Brit lit while listening to the Beatles or something. Hmmm, the next book for the book club I’m doing now is set in alternate universe England…

This definitely won’t be the last time I use this pattern. Especially since my summer pj collection also needs an update, and I got Christmas fabric to make 2 more warmer weather sets! Including one with the actual shirt from this pattern. I’ve got two summer-specific projects that I’m in the very early stages of tackling first, but watch this space.

So now I’m only one project behind on sharing finished things. I just need to get pictures first…

sneaky snacky stripes

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

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

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

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

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

Hobbit: (Pointing at my shirt) Trees!

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

Hobbit: Skirrels and acorns!

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

Hobbit: Chickens!

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

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

My 2018 Make Nine Plans

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

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

A post shared by sewadagio (@sewadagio) on

 

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

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

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

Sewing top 5: Goals!

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

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

Moving on to my goals for next year…

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

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

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

 

the berry Bruyere

I’ll just say up front that this took forever. My plan was to make this shirt for the Sewcialists’ TNT theme month, to see if it would work well in a second iteration. Considering that ended over two weeks ago, obviously that didn’t happen. Between little boy sleep difficulties and rehearsals all over the place, it feels like I’ve barely been able to spend any time in my little closet!  But finally, I have a finished project to show again.

IMG_5448The pattern is the Deer & Doe Bruyere, and while I’m not sure it’s quite a TNT yet, I think it’s well on its way. Since my first iteration was a fabric that I have to wear a camisole under, it’s much easier with this one to see potential fit issues. The one thing I did know would need to happen was dealing with the bust darts. I lowered the horizontal bust darts about an inch (the gauze I used for the first version pressed nicely, so it works, but those darts were not designed for the post-nursing chest!) It didn’t cross my sleep-deprived mind that lowering meant I’d also have to shorten both darts. That took a couple of attempts at ripping out and restitching to point in the right place, but I think I got the horizontal ones sorted. The vertical ones still need to be about 3/4″ shorter, I think. The lengths are written down, so I just need to transfer that to my pattern. I think I’m also going to have to mark the point on the cuffs to gather to better, because there was more overlap on my green one and it made the plackets lie better.

IMG_5451Another thing I think I’m going to have to do is lengthen the bodice just a bit. Maybe 3/4″ or so. I discovered quickly that the undergarments are important with this one, because I initially wore it with one of my old nursing bras that the underwire fell out of ages ago, and everything lay sooooo much better when I switched to one of the more supportive me-made ones. But it still feels like the waistband is sitting just a tiny bit high.

Can we talk about the fabric? It’s a raspberry colored chambray from Robert Kauffman, and it was a delight to work with. It presses so well, and held up really nicely to the seam ripper. I’ll need to see how it fares in the ironing department, but I’d not mind using this quality of chambray again at all.

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The only downside of the chambray was the occasional thickness of the layers, despite my efforts to trim and grade. There were a few buttonholes that I had to redo multiple times as a result. If I do get my hands on this fabric again, I think I’d better find my rubber mallet that I got for jeansmaking. I know it’s in the downstairs supply stash somewhere… but anyway, look how crisp the pleats are! (Please ignore my derpy face. This really was the best shot of the back of the shirt.)

I think I’ll end up having to replace the buttons at some point, because the ones that were the closest match to the color at Joann’s were in a package labeled as craft buttons, and the quality is awful for garments. Despite my efforts to allow for buttonhole space when sewing them on, I discovered that they’re really hard to work. They’re so thin that I feel like I’m going to snap them in half every time I shove them through the buttonholes. Not to mention that it literally hurts my fingers to do so. It’s really impractical for what’s supposed to easily be a nursing-friendly shirt in particular!  I’m just not sure what to replace them with, since my color matching difficulties means I’ll probably have to go with a contrast. Any suggestions?

IMG_5456I do have ideas in my head of how I can use this pattern for at least two more garments, so I do think it will be worth getting those last few fitting tweaks worked out so I can start hacking. Especially because, in spite of the waistband feeling a little high, I feel good about how I look in this shirt. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been able to say that, with all of the weight fluctuations and lifestyle changes over the past three years. Honestly, I feel like the opacity of the fabric makes it more flattering than my green voile version, even though I do still love the color. Since there’s a fairly good chance that this will be my last finished garment of 2017, though I’m very close to finishing another, it’s good to go out on a high note.

 

the post-baby wardrobe blues

Warning: slightly ranting, rather candid post ahead. This was originally going to be a post about a shirt that I finished about a month ago, though I just got around to photographing it this past weekend. Though, really, I don’t know what to say about it, because once again, the results just aren’t what I wanted them to be.

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The concept was good. I took my Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, and the concept from a nursing top that Heather kindly sent me back during my first pregnancy, to attempt to make a boring, basic black tee. Because I somehow didn’t have one, and given my love for bold print skirts, this was a serious hole in my wardrobe. So I used the front band and the instructions from my Peekaboo Patterns nursing camisoles as a guideline. As you can see, it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped.

I know exactly why. It was a combination of the pattern size being wrong (measuring for my nursing chest size is failing me at every turn lately) and the rayon knit being too drapey to have what turns out to be the necessary recovery for a shirt with two holes in the front. It’s already sagging to just below the covering band, despite the fold over elastic I put there in an attempt to keep it snug to my body, and I think I may have to sew the front completely closed in order to keep this wearable. Which defeats the entire purpose of a nursing shirt. At least the skirt turned out ok, even though all I did was buy it at the thrift shop and shorten it a few inches. The waistband was up to my ribs before–an odd feeling, since I’m not short!

IMG_5145 My apologies if this is sounding like a downer. But the truth is, I’m frustrated, and I’ve been getting increasingly so for awhile. Looking at these pictures, you can tell that I don’t feel great about what I’m wearing. Honestly, I haven’t felt great about almost everything I’ve made for awhile now. I was thinking about it today, and for the entire past 12ish months, I really only have two projects, that weren’t super-simple basics, where I feel like they look decent on me and really suit my style. I showed a picture on Instagram of one of my currently in-progress projects that’s also turning out to be less than I’d hoped, and a (kindly meant and worded in a constructively critical way) comment that I might be better off just cutting a different shirt entirely out of the fabric and starting over nearly sent me off crying. I feel like I just don’t know how to sew for myself anymore, and given that I’ve been sewing mostly clothes for coming up on 30 years now, that thought is horribly depressing.

It’s a hard place to be, sewing for the in-between. I recall having issues after my first pregnancy, and having a few misses on trying to sew for nursing-friendly and more changeable sizes than I was used to, but I think it’s actually hitting me much harder this second time around. I wasn’t expecting to have two kids less than two years apart. And while I wouldn’t trade Padawan in, he really is a sweet and happy baby most of the time, having two pregnancies this close together has really done a number on my body. I’m actually in physical therapy right now, because my hips got completely out of alignment between the two pregnancies and it was starting to make just normal, everyday walking painful. I also started this pregnancy at a higher weight than my first, since I only had something like a month between finishing up with nursing and getting pregnant again, and didn’t have a chance to drop those last few pounds. Long story short, I feel like I’m sewing for someone else’s body now, and I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. My older clothes are still too small, trying to sew looser/more forgiving silhouettes are resulting in things turning out too big, and I’m not even sure what looks good with all of these extra lumps and bumps that I have now. I just feel frumpy pretty much all the time. And of course I’m complicating things further by breastfeeding.

I can’t give up sewing, it’s too much a part of me. But I am seriously beginning to wonder if I should just step back from clothes for now, and focus on stuff like the boys’ Halloween costumes that I’m working on/all of the boring-but-necessary sewing that I’ve been procrastinating on (oh, hi, bedroom curtains that shrank shorter than your lining two years ago). I’ve never had a sewing slump like this one before, where I consistently have far more misses than hits. It’s demoralizing, especially when it’s been such a struggle to get sewing time to begin with. And until I’m 100% sure that I’m done with having babies and massive weight shifts, I don’t know what to do about it.

this bird has flown

I’m back! With multiple projects to catch up on, believe it or not. Taking pictures has proven to be even more of a challenge since Padawan came along, mostly because he spends most of his nap time strapped to me in a carrier. Not very conducive to outfit photos. So this was just grabbing a few quick photos of my latest project after church today, and hoping that I can catch up on the rest later.

IMG_4939The skirt is the Sewaholic Rae, and there’s really nothing to say about the construction by this point since this is my fourth version.  It’s funny that this has become my go-to skirt pattern, since I probably would have avoided it in the pre-kid days. But when you’ve got limited time to sew and 30 pounds to lose, I guess elastic waists that can be easily adjusted are the way to go. Especially when I can hide them with my constantly untucked shirts. (I’m wearing it here with an old Burda top and my Plantain cardigan.)

IMG_4942Let’s talk about the fabric, shall we? Yes, I’m back on the quilter’s cotton, but I couldn’t pass this print up. It’s from a collection called “Hello Love”, all loosely inspired by The Beatles’ music. I grew up regularly listening to The Beatles, and so I fell in love with several of the prints. The one I ended up choosing was inspired by “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. One thing I’ve been attempting to do for awhile is bring some warmer colors into my wardrobe, since I do have a tendency to fall into a rut of ocean colors and black. And the cheerful gold with Elven looking trees seemed to be just the thing. Plus that meant that I actually managed to fit the month’s bird theme at The Monthly Stitch! It was a little challenging making sure that I didn’t end up with hearts centered in iffy places, but I think I managed it. As well as pattern matching as best as I could with angled seams.

So that’s that! And hopefully I’ll get to those other pictures soon.

IMG_4948Ok, one more with this cutie. Can you believe he’s 2 months old already?