My 2018 Make Nine Plans

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

IMG_5455

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.

IMG_5143

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?

Wardrobe Architect Revisited, part 2

For this episode, I’m revisiting lifestyle and silhouettes.

Lifestyle: I honestly don’t have to rehash the entire worksheet. After all, my history/family background and such hasn’t changed. If you are interested in  reading the original answers, you can do so here. But here are the things that have changed…

5. Activities- How do your day-to-day activities influence your choices?
When I originally wrote this, I was working part-time at the garden center, teaching music lessons, and a newlywed. Now, as a mostly stay at home mom, I need to think more practically about my clothes. If you follow my Instagram, it’s pretty obvious that saying Hobbit is “active” is a bit of an understatement! And with a little brother on the way, I think the bulk of my wardrobe is going to have to be made up of clothes that are easy to care for, easy to move in, and at least for now, easy to nurse in. I still need some nicer things for church and teaching/performing, especially now that I’m also playing in an orchestra again. (Oh, hi, all the black clothes!) But after several months of also following along with some ideas for toddler activities, I’m also realizing that I really could use some loungewear as well, particularly things that either I don’t mind getting messy or that stains come out of easily. I still love (and miss) jeans, but definitely don’t want to go through the fitting process again only to lose the results to finger paint or other messier play! (I might be better off getting that stuff from the thrift shop though, since my sewing time is limited.)

6. Location- Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?

Well, I still live in the same area, so mid-Atlantic humidity and wacky temperature swings are still a thing. (Wow, this past winter was nuts.) I’m mostly revisiting this because I’ve since discovered that I actually don’t mind wearing skirts when it’s moderately cold, when paired with leggings and boots. And I’ve also reluctantly concluded that I’m going to need  some shorts for our hot days, because moms with little boys hanging on their legs and running all over the playground probably can’t live in just skirts.

7. Body- In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?

This one is probably the biggest change from before. As I said in the last post, it’s been awhile since my body wasn’t undergoing constant changes, given that I’m ending up with 2 kids less than 2 years apart. (Not by more than a few months, but still.) And if you’ve been following me within these last 3 years, you know that one of the things I’ve struggled with is coming up with things to sew that have a flexible enough fit to accommodate the changes in weight/measurements that still feel like me. It’s looking like after I factor in the weight I’m going to lose that’s actual baby, I’m facing an approximate year of nursing plus about 30-35 additional pounds to lose if I want to get close to where I was before all of this started. And since one of the things that my favorite silhouettes before tended to play up was my waistline, and that’s pretty much shot at this point, it’s much more challenging to figure out what feels flattering to me when I’m still also self-conscious about the same areas as before plus that.

Now for the more fun part– silhouettes! The words I came up with to describe my ideal style before were casual, colorful, cozy, artsy, and geeky. And that still feels right to me. But for silhouettes, a lot of what I’d said before involved favoring more fitted silhouettes. Fit and flare dresses, peplums, waistline definition, and so on. That’s where I have to rethink things a little more. Fortunately, I have been collecting inspiration on Pinterest for awhile now, and in combing through the outfits that I liked well enough to collect on my Wardrobe Architect board, here’s some things I’ve noticed:

Jeans and maxi-skirts for days are apparently two of the major things I’m drawn to– there were far more long skirts than shorter ones or dresses. And you all know how I feel about my jeans. (I’ve been dying to try the Ginger jeans pattern for years now, but, you know, double pregnancy fitting issues.) Still lots of jackets/outerwear layers, too. One thing I have noticed about the outfits that I’ve saved over the last year or so is that I do seem to be finding more pins where the shirts are more the type that are still fairly fitted in the bust, but drapier in the waist. That will be much more forgiving for me now, so that may be a good thing to keep in mind for future top patterns, even though I still see a place for tops like my beloved Renfrew. (Assuming I can get a nursing-friendly hack to work for that!)

Incidentally, another thing I’ve noticed about Pinterest is that it’s often rather challenging to find outfits that aren’t just solid neutral everything. SO MUCH TAUPE. And I particularly found it harder to find things with prints, period. But I have also noticed that solids are more palatable when they have some kind of interesting design detail, like that drapey teal top in the top row. But anyway, moving on to some more seasonal stuff

You knew I couldn’t do this without some geeky inspiration, right? I’m seriously in love with that Faramir outfit in particular, and not just because he’s actually my favorite male character in the Lord of the Rings books. I realize that the color palette here reads more fall, but I found it easiest to find silhouettes that would work well for the more transitional weather of spring and fall here. It’s mostly cool enough for pants and boots. I can layer up, like with the plaid shirt and the jacket. And I can wear tunic-type shirts– I think something along the lines of these cream and green ones in the bottom row are a particularly good style evolution for me, because the belts still give them a bit of waist definition, even as the respective pleats and drapiness are better for the weight fluctuations that I’m still getting used to. (I may seriously have to knock off that cream one, since it’s also very nursing friendly!)

Winter clothes have always been a bigger challenge for me. Frankly, a lot of them bore me, even though a lot of that is probably more the palette. But I did find these three that I liked. The long cardigan gives that outfit the artsy element that I’ve been missing. The middle outfit would be a great one for things like running errands and chasing the boys outside, without feeling embarrassed about how I look– I really do feel much more put together in jeans than yoga-type pants! And the outfit on the right would actually be a great casual teaching outfit, with the trouser jeans and the nicer top/cardigan. The pants remind me of the Sewaholic Thurlows, though maybe just a bit straighter in the thigh to give it that wider leg. I miss those pants.

Surprisingly for me, I actually had a lot of trouble finding some ideas for summer outfits. At least, ones that don’t involve a maxi-skirt. The thing is, I don’t particularly feel comfortable wearing shorts, since I don’t like to show that much of my pasty thighs, but as stated before, sometimes they’re just more practical for my current lifestyle. And it’s especially hard to find outfit inspiration where the shorts aren’t super short, even when you plug in search terms like “mom outfit” along with it. Like that outfit with the coral top? Love the concept, since I can get all over a colorful, printed top that’s flowy enough to deal with our 80-90+ degrees plus all the humidity days that we often get around midsummer or so. But I’m pretty sure that Hobbit’s shorts are longer than those shorts, and he’s still under 3 feet tall! (I think.) The length on the other outfit is much better, though I doubt I’d tuck in any portion of my top during those really sticky days. Again, I like the concept, though, and maybe it’s time that I considered trying out a woven tee pattern, if I can find one that wouldn’t just look like a sack once it got past my chest. I do have two on hand that might work (the Sewaholic Belcarra and the Seamwork Akita.) I do have a couple of shorts patterns to try out as well, hopefully this summer since I maybe have one pair of shorts that may or may not end up fitting to get me through the entire season, and I’m hoping that they won’t end up looking dreadful on me.

So, to sum up, it looks like the silhouettes to aim for now are more fitted at the bust/flowy at the waist and hips, and try to figure out a way to fit some pants or especially jeans. Also, it looks like separates are something I lean much more strongly towards overall, though I still love me a good maxi dress. But even though I know I’m not the type of person who can have the 40 hanger capsule wardrobe and be happy in all seasons with that, the potential ability to mix and match more within those mini capsules that I’m still trying to build will serve me well.

Wardrobe Architect, Revisited

I’m sure you remember the blog series that Colette Patterns put out a few years ago, right? I enjoyed the chance to take a really in-depth look at the things I like to wear in hopes of making the most of my handmade wardrobe, though the only place I really got to implement it was when trying to put together my maternity wardrobe. It did certainly help that I already had that base when I added a few thrift shop extras back in the fall to compensate for the overall colder weather that I’ve had this second time around, because I was able to quickly zone in on the colors that already went with the things I had. But I’ve also been thinking that it’s time to take a second look at this process, because a lot has changed since I went through it in 2014.

When I did it before, I was working more, my weight had been generally stable for a long time so I had a good idea of what actually worked on my figure, and I could focus more on form rather than just function. Now, I still need clothes that are professional enough to teach music lessons in and nice black outfits for concerts, but I’m also a mom of two very young kids. (Just haven’t quite met the second one yet.) I only had a couple of months between wrapping up nursing before and the beginning of this second pregnancy, so it’s been awhile since my body hasn’t been constantly changing. It’ll be awhile longer, given that I’ve got all the new baby weight to lose on top of the bit I hadn’t lost from Hobbit yet. And I did a massive closet purge back in the summer, but still haven’t really been able to evaluate how well the things that got left will work for me, since I haven’t been able to wear most of them for months now.

(Most of what’s left, minus the skirts and dresses that wouldn’t fit in the picture. And t-shirts and stuff.)

I don’t think I’ll need to go quite as in depth this time, because the color palette that I like, my love for prints over solids, and the general feel that I want for my wardrobe haven’t changed. But I definitely need to reevaluate the silhouettes that might work on me, and how my current lifestyle affects what I need. And I feel like this is a good time to do it, since my ability to physically sew is limited right now. (Though I did manage to finish the second nursing bra, at least. We’ll see about the third.)  If nothing else, I could use the distraction, because the end of this pregnancy is so much physically harder than I remember the last one being! More to come…

well, that was…interesting.

So you know how, at the end of every year, it’s pretty much traditional to share your sewing goals for the following year? And I’ve had “try making a bra” on there for several of those in a row now? Well, I finally did it.

And to be honest, I’m a little embarrassed to show the results. But in the interest of honesty and lifelong learning and all that, I’m going to do it anyway.

first bra outsideThe thing is, it was never going to be anything more than frumpy to some extent, since it’s a nursing bra and therefore pure function over form. I got the pattern from Bra-Makers’ Supply, as it was the only one I could find that wasn’t a little bralette for, shall we say, the less endowed. (Especially when nursing. Ugh.) I had to completely guess at the supplies, since the sizing listed on the website was a bit confusing. So, given that I’m a complete newbie at this particular type of sewing project, I decided to just buy 3 of the large bra supply kits, along with the necessary nursing clips, and hope for the best.

first bra inside The good news is, that strategy mostly worked. (“Mostly” being the key word.) I had plenty of the band and trim elastics, and enough of the main fabrics to still have scraps left. Though not enough to line the cups. I wasn’t planning to do it to this one anyway, since I wanted to test the fit before I went to all that trouble, but I was hoping to be able to do it with the other two colors. I cut those out this afternoon, and just could not make that work. Oh well, I’ll be having to stuff these with nursing pads anyway.

This was SO fiddly to sew, moreso than any project I’ve done in some time. I guess it could be partially because of having to add that extra cradle bit to make the cups nursing friendly, and then having to wing it on finishing that seam. (It called for a strip of lightweight tricot, but the kit didn’t have it and the supply list didn’t say anything, so I had to just cut a strip of the leftover powernet and try to just make it work.) But mostly, I think it was all the elastic. That, and the seam finishing that left a lot of raw edges showing. I really feel like the whole thing looks sloppy, and if this is something I’m going to continue playing with past these nursing bras, I’m definitely going to have to clean up my technique.

first bra strap Aside from that inside cup finishing, the place where the bra kit really didn’t quite cover it was the straps. I suspected I’d be in trouble as soon as I pulled it out and saw just how short the strap elastic length was–it looked like barely enough for one, and I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to get two. I just managed to squeak it out, by adding a bit of extra length using the underwire casing that I hadn’t actually needed for this pattern. As you can see, there is virtually zero adjustability to this strap. So for the next two, I think I’ll be lengthening the casing bit.

I’m not about to put pictures of me actually wearing this thing on the internet, so as far as fit goes, I’ll say it’s probably good enough. If this was more of an everyday bra, I’d say that it really should have some more lift to it, but since this is one where my size will be changing multiple times a day and the underwires were problematic with my store-bought nursing bras, it’s fine. I’m actually wearing it right now, and it’s way more comfortable than my non-nursing bras that I’ve been forced to make work, and still more supportive than my saggy baggy older nursing bras. So in that, at least, it’s a win.

As stated, I did cut out two more today, and am hoping to get them knocked out before this baby actually arrives. It’s cutting it close, as I can only sew in short bursts before I just get too uncomfortable now. (But then, the same goes for everything else in my life right now, so…) And I’ve only got about 3 1/2 weeks before my due date, so wish me luck. Also, any of you more experienced lingerie makers have any tips for how I can get this elastic to stitch on a little nicer? Or what to do with the seam finishing to make this look better?

 

 

of bare necessities and sewing slumps

I’m not going to do a February wrap-up post this time, as there’s really not much to say. I did, however, recently finish a pair of nursing camisoles, with a third in the works. (Which I cannot fit over the bump, so floor modeling it is.) This is the second pattern of the nine that I specifically chose to focus on this year, the Uptown Camisole from Peekaboo Pattern Shop with the nursing add-on. The black is a rayon knit that I bought several yards of to make basic tops, and the charcoal is a long-stashed remnant left over from binding the edges of a Butterick knit dress that I made, oh, 8 or so years ago. It’s nice to have finally mostly used that up. 

Overall, the construction of this one was very straightforward, so the biggest challenge for me was using it as a way to further acquaint myself with the coverstitch machine. I did make a rather important discovery while experimenting with using it to sew on the binding, rather than turning it under 1/4″ and topstitching, which I’ve always found rather fiddly on knits.

The first attempt was a complete disaster, which resulted in my having to rip the (thankfully shorter) neckline binding piece off of both camisoles and recutting it. Mostly because, as you can see here, I ripped it full of holes. I guess that’s what I get for black thread on black fabric while sewing in a room with zero natural light at night, right? *eyeroll* I did still have to do the fold under/topstitch on one of the two after this, because I serged the new binding onto the shirt and quickly learned that it’s just too thick for my coverstitch to go through and still function well. I had much better luck with the second one, where I used the stretch stitch on my regular sewing machine to attach the binding before sewing it down.

I was also able to use the coverstitch for the hems (obviously), the elastic that holds the lower portion of the front in place, and the straps. I still have a bit of a learning curve to go on here, since the stitching on the back didn’t quite catch in several places and I did a less-than-stellar job of lining up the needle with the raw edges for the hem, despite pressing in place and measuring from the folded edge while sewing. But that’s part of what’s enjoyable about sewing, right, that there’s always something new you can learn?

Which, frankly, I need right now, because I’ve been coming to the realization that aside from the coverstitch experiments, I’m just not excited about sewing these days. Or, more precisely, I’m not excited about what I’ve been sewing. I guess it’s to be expected, given that everything I’ve made so far this year has been strictly practical, and I’ve had a run of projects at the end of last year where I was less than excited about the results for one reason or another. That, and I’m at the point of this pregnancy where I’m sick of everything I’ve been wearing, and even have a little less to pick from since it’s been mostly colder than my last third trimester. Frankly, I just want to sew something that I don’t necessarily need, just for the fun of it, that will make me feel great when I wear it. But I’m not sure what that could look like right now, given that I have somewhere around 5-6 weeks of pregnancy left, and then the whole postpartum thing where my body just isn’t going to be settled enough to really fit anything for months. I’m hoping I can have a little more success in squeezing in some activity this time, since I’ll have Hobbit to chase anyway, but still. Exercise has never been something I’ve enjoyed, so it’s hard to motivate myself to do it. I also still have a few necessities that need to be taken care of, mostly hemming the nursery curtains and some badly needed nursing bras.

Have you ever been in this kind of sewing slump? Any suggestions for a fun project that might help, given my constraints? Or should I just take a break for some knitting or something?

Top 5 of 2016: Highlights and Reflections

Time to get thoughtful! And hopefully have enough pictures to keep this visually interesting. Ha.

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Let’s start with the highlights, shall we?

  1. For a little while, I had a sewing student. It was a bit hit and miss over this past year, because first I had to go on maternity leave, and then she couldn’t start it up for awhile. And she ultimately ended up moving to Florida around the end of the summer. But I did enjoy helping her figure out ways to translate her sketches into real garments (though mostly for dolls). And I did get a message from her around Thanksgiving to check her instagram account, because she sewed herself a costume. So it’s gratifying to know that she’s keeping at it, even though I’m not the one helping her anymore!
  2. This kid. Even though he’s mostly what’s keeping me from sewing more these days. He’s pretty much into everything, we’ve already been through our first emergency room visit with him, and I’m having to answer what “this” is about a million times a day. But it’s also fun to watch him explore and learn, I love how curious he is, and he’s getting to a really fun age where I can actually start doing stuff with him instead of just trying to keep him fed and changed. Hopefully he’ll adapt well to being a big brother this spring!
  3. My music life picking up again. I did orchestra for pretty much all but my first semester of college for my large ensemble credit, and have missed playing in that sort of group. I’m very thankful that the opportunity to play in this community orchestra came up. It ended up being more of a time commitment this fall than I anticipated, between extra rehearsals for a family concert and playing in the first chamber concert of the season (also more time away from my sewing machine), but so far it’s been worth it.
  4. Not being sick for this entire pregnancy. I’ve been more tired, and like the first round, I’m still oddly repelled by anything peanut butter– even Reese’s cups, which I normally love! But I’ve been able to drink tea the whole time, and the nausea did pretty much go away shortly after I hit the second trimester, and I’m so thankful for this. I have absolutely no idea how I’d keep up with Hobbit if this was anything like when I was expecting him!
  5. For one thing that actually is sewing related, I did finally tackle a few patterns and ideas that had been on my list for awhile. So even though my output this year as a whole hasn’t really been that great, I do feel like I accomplished something.

Reflections:

  1. To go back to my hits and misses for this year, I think my greatest strength and weakness were both fabric choice. Especially when it came to colors. For the most part, my favorite things were bold and bright. The things I didn’t care for as much leaned more towards neutrals and especially reds. Even though one of them was one of my oldest fabric acquisitions and one of them was much newer, it seems I need to really consider that maybe there’s a reason I automatically gravitate towards blues and greens, and stick with what I know I love.
  2. Surprisingly, since I’ve been sewing a majority of things that are knit since I first got pregnant with Hobbit, I’ve found that it makes the woven projects a bit of a treat. I really enjoyed making both my Bruyere shirt, and the Grainline Archer that I haven’t shown here yet. Even though the fitting on knits is generally more forgiving, sometimes it’s just lovely to sew with a fabric that doesn’t ripple or skip stitches when I try to hem it.
  3. One of the big things I did this year was a closet purge. I had to get rid of a lot of things that I’d made, many of which I loved, because I was almost certain that they’d never fit me again. (Some of those are now sitting in my refashion pile in hopes of getting a second life, somehow, because I just couldn’t give up the prints.) I really can’t say that I was left with a streamlined or cohesive wardrobe. Frankly, I found this exercise hard, because I am not a minimalist and would probably die of neutral colored boredom if I did one of those things where I only had 20 hangers in my closet. But I think I at least have a fairly good idea of what some major holes in my wardrobe are, and can try to remedy that going forward. The question at this point is more about what I can just pull from my existing stash vs. needing to shop for new fabrics, because I really do need to try to get this pile more manageable. (Sewing room is going bye-bye to make room for a second nursery, sadly. There’s a lot of piles that I need to manage better.)
  4. Looking over last year’s reflections, one of my complaints was about my sewing becoming more utilitarian and fueled by a need to just have something to wear rather than being able to make something that I love to wear. I do think that I found a little more of a balance there this year. But I wonder how it will go in 2017, being back to limited by what fits a rapidly changing body and specific wardrobe needs of being a nursing mom. I think the best way to summarize is more that I still haven’t quite found the balance between what I want my style to be as a sewist, and what I need my wardrobe to be as a mom. And I’m not really sure what to do about that yet.
  5. At least I’m getting better at embracing the “slow fashion” thing, since two of my projects this year took multiple months to make. And maybe a little less selfish about my sewing than I used to be, since I have enjoyed making the kid projects.