Goals, goals, goals

Do I need to rethink these posts? After all, last year, I commented that I made a bunch of goals and got derailed quickly by pregnancy and a newborn. This year, I made a bunch of goals, and then got hit by a global pandemic and a massive loss of desire to sew. But it is helpful to see how these turn out, so here goes…

To review last year’s:

  1. Embrace the slow and steady. Well, I got the slow part down. Not so much the steady.
  2. Attack the refashion/scrap bins. I did make one scrapbust project, but didn’t do much with this otherwise.
  3. Bust some stash. Given my generally low output this year, I’d say that I didn’t make much progress on this. Though I did get to some things within a year of when I acquired the fabric, which is very good for me.
  4. Have a plan, but hold it loosely. Or, you know, throw it out the window and read a book instead?
  5. Work on my styling. After the fit- induced closet purge, my entire wardrobe is a mishmash and full of holes. So this was a big nope.

But with this in mind, here’s my hopes for 2021:

  1. Find a better time balance between sewing and scrapbooking, so I can continue to progress in both. I definitely want to make a more intentional effort to get sewing in on at least a weekly basis, even though digital scrapbooking is admittedly easier for me to work in with the minions running around.
  2. Make some “cake”! My wardrobe is overall lacking in basics at the moment, between the closet purge nd a lifestyle that is fairly different (read: even more casual) than it was at this time last year.
  3. But don’t forget some frosting. Seriously, I stare at my closet for way more time than I should when I need/want to dress up a little, like for church or even our homeschool co-op day.
  4. Figure out the “mom wardrobe” styling thing — more on that in a moment.
  5. Mostly, I just want to regain the joy that I used to have in sewing. And what community in that looks like for me now, since I’ve been feeling quite disconnected from the larger Instagram community. I am enjoying the Sewing Sphere so far, and Elizabeth from Elizabeth Made This recently started a Facebook group that I’m liking as well. I did also end up joining a more local Facebook sewing group (!) near the beginning of the year, but haven’t been too involved with that yet since I honestly just haven’t made much/little kids prevented me from attempting any of the pre-March meetups.

So about that styling thing… even though I didn’t sew nearly as much as I’d hoped this year, I did spend some time doing research. (I’ll admit, I was that girl who secretly enjoyed research papers in high school and college, I really love deep diving into a topic that interests me. I even spent two summers of college doing paid music- related research projects through a program at my university. Geek alert, right?) I finally read The Curated Closet, and am strongly considering adding it to my collection. I would like more time to actually work through the exercises at some point than the library allowed, but things like trying on a bunch of different styles at the thrift store just wasn’t doable this year. I also spent some time reading Life Styling, after finding it via my library’s Hoopla collection. My short review of this one is that the color analysis/palette chapter was quite interesting and helpful, but I honestly didn’t finish this one because I couldn’t relate to the second half of the book at all. And I found that I had a year long outfit guide specifically for moms buried on my Kindle, from a book bundle I bought years ago. I’m still trying to figure out how helpful this will be, since it’s basically a lot of outfit “formulas” for a largish capsule wardrobe, and I feel like I’d have to basically draw out a set of paper doll clothes to fiddle with in order to make that work for me. The palette is far enough outside of my own (soooooo much neutral and solid) that I’m having a little trouble visualizing how to bring my beloved prints into it, but I do think it could be useful in plotting out some styling options.

I have other thoughts floating around, like making Halloween costumes again this year (there’s talk of a potential Star Wars theme), I’d like to make something for the girl to play with smocking while she’s still young enough for it to be cute, and the boys could really use cases for the new Kindles that they got from my parents for Christmas. I also got the new Itch to Stitch pattern book, and want to make basically everything! So I do need to narrow down some project options for after I finish my current cut out project. I did spend some time earlier this month purging some old patterns that I’ve sized out of or won’t work, and am hoping to curate my fabric stash better soon. So that should help.

Looking back, looking forward

Now that the end of 2020 is in sight, I figure it’s as good a time as any to do some reflecting about the year and my sewing life.

I didn’t really feel great about my sewing productivity this year. I felt the same about the outcome much of the time, but writing this out actually helped my outlook on it. Here’s the list of everything that I’ve managed this year, starting with the things I’ve showed:

  • Visby Henley (Itch to Stitch, fairly successful. I think it could use some fitting tweaks, but I overall liked it.)
  • Mila shirt (Itch to Stitch, successful)
  • Mimi G chambray shirtdress (McCall’s, flop. I wore it once and it’s been sitting in my refashioning pile since. )
  • Lucy dress (Peekaboo Pattern Shop, successful, though not for its intended purpose. The update is that I used it for an at home first birthday photoshoot, since the opportunity for her baptism still hasn’t happened yet.)
  • Colorblocked Pony Tank (Chalk & Notch, one of my most worn me-mades for the remainder of summer)
  • Shenanigans Skort (5 Out of 4 Patterns, successful, though could probably use a bit of a fuller butt adjustment)
  • Chemainus top (Itch to Stitch, see last post.)

And a couple of things that I didn’t show here yet:

  • Two Blackwood cardigans, from Helen’s Closet. I already knew that I liked the pattern fit, though I haven’t worn my first iteration much due to the extremely light weight/ limited coordinating options. I had fabric for two more that I got last Christmas, and sewing them up within the year is actually good, for me! I cut both out near the end of winter. I made the charcoal one from a hatchi knit, near the end of summer, while my serger was still appropriately threaded. The ivory one is my most recent make, from this cabled quilted type knit. In retrospect, I should have added a little more ease to the sleeve on this one, since it doesn’t have nearly the stretch that the hatchi does. But it’s still quite wearable, and so warm!
  • I made dinosaur tails for the boys, instead of full Halloween costumes since I wasn’t sure if going out in any form would be an option. We ended up cobbling together costumes from things on hand for our church’s trunk or treat, and a spaced out Halloween parade with our usual trick or treat buddies. The Harry Potter costumes from a few years ago made a reappearance. And though I seem to need to add a little more velcro on the waist ties, the tails have seen some use for play at home. Also, not pictured, the boys were so excited about getting to pick out the fleece for their tails that they also requested blankets. So they each have one of those no-sew tied edge blankets made from these fabrics, too.

As I said, I haven’t been feeling great about my sewing, largely due to the timing/time suck of making my big flop of the year. But realistically, 10 projects over 11 months with 3 little kids in the house really isn’t bad!

There are other factors, though. There’s been a lot of grieving this year, and it’s definitely affected my enjoyment of this craft. Thankfully, everyone I know personally who got sick during the pandemic has survived, including an aunt who caught it while working as a hospital nurse. My entire immediate family has stayed healthy, thank God. But my flute teaching career vanished overnight, since neither of the two remaining students I had after my last maternity leave were situations that worked virtually. At this point, I still don’t know if I’ll get any students again, or if the tentatively planned involvement I’ll be allowed to have in my community orchestra this season will even work. I’ve never lived in a world where simply being a musician makes me considered to be dangerous. And since there’s always been ensembles to play with for the entire time I’ve played the flute, there’s been a lot of mourning over that loss, as I try to figure out how to learn to enjoy playing alone. (And trying to brush up on the piano, as the kids let me.)

My husband also lost his job suddenly. That one turned out for the best, as it was a constant source of stress for him, and he’s since found a new job that he’s much happier in. But it still caused a lot of uncertainty.

I’ve spent a lot of time on school this year. I’d already been doing preschool at home with my oldest, and had already planned to continue with him for kindergarten. It’s a good thing, because my state ended up being completely noncommittal to a plan for the current school year for a really long time, like until 2 weeks before school started, and I know I would have been panicking if I’d had to make the decision about what to do at the last minute. It’s been a bit of a learning curve, and it’s not all idyllic days at home, but I do think it’s been the best choice for us. We’ve also still been able to meet with our small co-op community in person, and that weekly interaction with other kids has been so good for him.

There’s been other stressors, too. Our remaining golden retriever died, and we’ve been having to adjust to not having a pet for the first time in our marriage. (Hopefully in a few years, but we want to wait until we’re done with diapers.) I didn’t see my closest friends in person for over half a year. The kids have obviously been affected too, as I’m constantly being told that they miss going to playgrounds/library storytime/playdates. It’s just a lot, as I know it’s been for everyone.

More specifically about sewing, I also had to get rid of a lot of favorite things that just don’t fit anymore, and it’s left me struggling to put outfits together on a near daily basis. I realized that a huge portion of what I sewed was for things like church and teaching, and both of those were gone for months. On days we’re just at home, I’m mostly just being the stereotypical frumpy stay at home mom in joggers and tees, because that’s what fits and can hold up to messes. But I’m not really enjoying getting dressed these days, which is having a major impact on my desire to do the thing that will help me fix the problem. Go figure.

To be perfectly honest, the Instagram sewing community was a tough place for me this year, too. Between the endless chatter about masks back in the spring, and all of the shaming of people that wanted to keep politics out of our sewing, I had to take a big step back from it. Frankly, I think it’s inexcusable to shame people for needing one place to have a break from all the chaos, given how many of us use sewing as a mental health aid, and I’m still irritated about it. I’m not entirely sure where this will lead, as I’ve still had very little desire to spend much time on my sewing Instagram account, though I’m still using my private one regularly to share photos with family and friends. I do know that I’m feeling more of an urge to write here instead, like I used to. I started this blog more as a project journal for myself, and the interaction was a nice perk. It’s hard to get that on Instagram now anyway, with algorithms and the hashtag disabling they did, so I haven’t missed being on there like I once expected to. I’ve also been helping my friend Brooke to get a new community off of the ground on Locals, and while it’s not very active yet, it’s been nice to have that smaller community feel again. What can I say, I’m an introvert, I get overwhelmed by all of the crowd noise. But I’m still hoping that it will pick up.

So in lieu of sewing, and aside from the obvious things like raising kids and homeschooling, I’ve been reading lots of books. I’ve gotten really into digital scrapbooking this year, to the point where our family album pages are pretty caught up most of the time and I’m starting to work on redoing some of my old paper albums. I also got asked to join a designer’s creative team on Pixel Scrapper, which is where I’ve been sharing my pages. So that’s been a fun challenge, and a good craft for me on days where I don’t have much brainpower at the end of the day, or want something creative to work on that I can do while the kids are awake and I can’t have sharp objects out.

I think this step back was needed for me, since this year has basically been a forced midlife crisis for me. (No, really, as I’m turning 40 in a few months.) I’m beginning to feel more motivated to get my wardrobe back into a better place again, that hopefully fits both my new stay at home lifestyle and my personal style. I’ve also been taking baby steps to get myself physically in better shape, since between the last sedentary-out-of-necessity pregnancy and quarantine weight gain, it’s not been a great combo. I have plans formulating, and I hope to share more soon.

A decade in review

I was catching up on some blogs, and saw a post from Doctor T Designs where she did a retrospective on her best projects from the last decade. Since I’ve been writing about my sewing for well over that, I thought it might be fun to do the same thing. Fortunately, I’ve long been a fan of the year end review, so finding my favorites from each year was easy! So let’s hop into the TARDIS and do a little time traveling to see the best 10 projects of the 2010s, shall we?

Burdastyle 5/2009, #110

2010: This was basically the Golden Age of my crafting life. I was single and working multiple jobs, but I spent a lot of my free time making stuff. So I was working a lot on improving my sewing technique. I was making jewelry. I was dabbling in screenprinting, and doing paper scrapbooks. I was also subscribed to BurdaStyle at the time, and as someone who grew up sewing the Big 4 almost exclusively, this was my stepping stone into the world of indie patterns. I was so proud of how this blouse turned out, and wore it often. It’s no longer in my wardrobe, as it was too fitted for all of the body changes that this decade brought me. Maybe I should see if the pattern is anywhere near my current size and give this one a reboot!

A multi-Burda hack job

2011: It looks like this was a year that I was really into experimenting. While trying to find the pattern for this pair of pants (which turned out to be 3 patterns), I came across a bunch of refashions. I seemed to have been rather into knitting that year, too, and finished my first sweater. As for these pants, they were directly inspired by a pair I’d seen from Anthropologie, which was a favorite inspiration source at the time. On a personal note, this was also the year that I met and started dating Doug, though not till the end of the year!

My first jeans!

2012. This was the year that I got engaged. This was also the year that I made my first successful pair of real jeans! They weren’t perfect, and haven’t fit since about 2015, but they were a great learning experience. I’d love to take on a project like this again.

The biggest sewing project of my life!

2013, and picking the project for this year was a no brainer! The first half of this year was almost exclusively focused on wedding planning and crafting. Including this little number, loaded with couture techniques and yards upon yards of fabric. I can’t imagine how much of that I would have needed if I’d done a train!

Vogue peacoat

2014 was a tough year to choose a favorite! I was sewing a lot of Sewaholic at the time, including multiple pairs of Thurlow pants (another pattern that I need to revisit). But in the end, I picked my heavy, nonwool winter coat. It’s still going strong 6 years later, and I cannot believe it’s been that long since I made it!

Maternity, or not maternity?

2015 was a game changer for me, for both life and sewing, as it was the year that my older son was born. So I did a lot of pattern hacking for maternity clothes, as most designers I knew of then didn’t start putting out maternity patterns until after. That includes this altered Simplicity pattern, which I still wear frequently as a non maternity skirt as well.

Cashmerette Appleton dress

2016 is currently kind of a blur in my head, between the toddler who refused to sleep through the night until the end of that year and ending up pregnant again more quickly than I’d expected! But I did have time to make a few things, including this hacked sleeve Appleton dress. I was pleased that it ended up how I’d pictured it in my head. This one is also still in my closet, though it’s definitely in need of some layering with the nursing factor!

Jalie Vanessa pants

2017: the year my second son was born, which meant a big learning curve in adjusting to being a mom to multiple kids! My best of the year for this one is a little surprising, as I was on the fence about whether the Vanessa pants were a win or fail in my top 5 roundup. But they’ve turned out to be versatile, at least for the warmer months, and I actually have fabric to make a second pair now. (A Deer & Doe Bruyere blouse was a close second.)

McCall’s 7350

2018: another year of trying new things (swimsuits! Pull up jeans! Using a coverstitch machine!) And this was also the year that I remembered that I still like Big 4 patterns as well, though indies dominated my decade. I thought about choosing the swimsuit, but this McCall’s maxidress was honestly my favorite project of the year. I’ve realized that since the kids were born, I’ve been very focused on practical clothing needs and learning how to fit all of the newer curves through multiple major body shifts. This project was simply for fun and because I liked it. I think I needed that. Though, on a practical note, this dress did work well for a few maternity wearings and is very nursing friendly, so it’ll get even better use this summer!

Grainline Archer

Which brings me to this year, and another one dominated by adding a baby to our family. Though I recently stated that the Pony Tank was my best pattern this year, I think the Archer was the winner in terms of stretching my sewing, especially after being necessarily knits focused for awhile.

So there you have it! 10 years, 10 projects. What was your favorite project or projects of the decade?

Sewing top 5: The Best-Laid Plans

Once upon a time, I had sewing goals for 2019. (And a knitting goal.) But then I found out that I was pregnant last New Year’s Eve, and my goals didn’t happen. The end.

via GIPHY

Ok, not quite, but that certainly threw a wrench in my plans! Just to review, here’s what they were:

  1. Leave room for frosting. Yeah, this year has been all about necessities. Especially since I had virtually nothing to wear for my entire summer third trimester, until one of my cousins generously donated her unneeded maternity clothes.
  2. Work on the “Mom Wardrobe”. I guess this happened in some way, it just happened to be mostly maternity mom!
  3. Get creative with some #sewingleftovers. I guess I’m good on this one now, until my daughter has her own fashion opinions…
  4. Work on my styling. Totally didn’t happen, since the first 3/4 of the year was “anything that fits”, and right now it’s “anything warm with nursing access.”
  5. Finish up my Gnarled Oak cardigan for real this time. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… yeah. Haven’t touched that one in months.

So now that that’s out of the way, the upside to having all of my plans thrown out the proverbial window is that I’ve had plenty of time to consider what might be realistic goals for 2020. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Embrace the slow and steady. Besides living up to my blog’s music-inspired title, it just makes sense for now. Big chunks of sewing time don’t happen often for me in this life stage. Even the “Sew in 30” tag that I’ve seen about Instagram is often more than I can manage. So what I’ve been trying to do throughout the fall, and would like to carry into the new year, is aiming for a more consistent sewing practice. I know I can’t do daily, since I have some weekly evening rehearsals and sometimes the kids just don’t let it happen. But even only 10-15 minutes a few times a week add up.
  2. Attack the refashion/scrap bins. I’ve missed refashioning, and I have a few obvious candidates to tackle — the vest that died in the wash, de-maternifying the shorts I made last year since the alternate waistbands are already cut and waiting– but I also have a bin of clothes to recycle that’s been largely untouched for a few years. I also have some rather largeish scraps that have been lingering in two other bins. It’s time to start paring that down and either get these textiles into my wardrobe (or possibly baby girl’s), or get them out of my house to make room for new things.
  3. Bust some stash. As you may recall, I got a LOT of fabric for Christmas last year. Like 73 yards of it. And while several of the things I made were from that haul, since I thankfully had the foresight to look at some patterns that would work with the thought that I might end up pregnant, a lot more of it than I planned went untouched. I’m not going to say I won’t buy anything, since I’m sure I’ll need buttons and thread and such, but I do want to focus more on using up what I already have instead of buying more.
  4. Have a plan, but hold it loosely. The #makenine feels a little restrictive for me at this point, especially since I have certain limits in place already (hellooooo, nursing wardrobe!) I like the other idea I’ve seen of the Seasonal Sew 3, and I think I’m going to aim more for that. But at this point, I think I’m going to play it like choose 2 projects at the beginning of a season, possibly one simple and one more involved, and then add a third depending on how my sewing time runs. I do know I have two projects with a deadline (a nursing-friendly dress for a family wedding, and the hopefully wearable muslin blouse I need to make first), so I’ll have to factor that in for probably the late winter into the early spring to make sure that gets done on time.
  5. I’m carrying this one over from this past year: Work on my styling. Because I really didn’t have a chance to do that in 2019. I still feel like this is going to be a struggle for awhile, because I’m having a really hard time lately putting outfits together with the hodgepodge of nursing-friendly-enough/seasonally appropriate things in my closet. I’ve mostly been wearing jeans and the same 3 plaid shirts, and then wracking my brains every Sunday morning for something a little nicer that I can still nurse in, particularly on the Sundays that I’m up front with my flute. But since it’s easier to factor in nursing for clothes with wardrobe longevity than with maternity, I’m hoping that I can start making some intelligent choices to fill in the gaps, and finally get some of that wardrobe cohesion that I’ve been dreaming about for a long time. (You know, as long as I can still bust stash. And keep my prints.)

And maybe, just maaaaaaaaaaaaybe, I’ll finish that sweater sometime in the next decade.

via GIPHY

2019 top 5: Highlights

To continue this year’s top 5 series. I think that I’m going to skip reflections this time, since so much of my sewing was dictated by my pregnancy and I can’t really make any commentary about what it says about my style or anything. But I can talk about the non-sewing highlights. So here goes…

  1. 20191208_072253The baby, obviously. 2019 was all about the baby. This pregnancy was the most challenging of the 3 for me, since it combined the 9 months of near- constant nausea from my first with the breathing problems from my second (the problem was apparently all in my deep diaphragm-breathing flutist’s head, but that didn’t make me feel any less constantly out of breath), with the added challenge of 2 active little boys to care for. I spent most of the summer particularly feeling like a miserable lump, and had to go back to physical therapy for my previous pregnancy hip injury because it flared up again during my third trimester. But the actual labor felt rather empowering to me this time, since I was able to handle both calmly walking myself into the maternity ward while in full labor (9.5 cm dialated! Doug was parking the car, since things moved faster than anticipated again), and pushing her out without panicking about no time for the epidural. Our plan is for this to be the last baby, because I don’t think that I can physically or mentally handle another pregnancy. But this sweet little girl was worth every moment of it. (This is her modeling the Petal Dress that I made from all of the corduroy vest leftovers.)
  2. 20191205_090605School days. Can you believe that my oldest is preschool age? We decided to homeschool this year for many reasons, though a huge factor was the timing of little sister arriving right at the beginning of the school year. We didn’t think that our often sensitive boy would respond well to the combination of a new sibling plus suddenly being sent away from us for hours at a time. And the thought of dealing with an imposed outside schedule plus a newborn and toddler made me really stressed out! So far, it’s been working out well for us. We did sign him up for a once a week homeschool class to give him some social time, which he loves. And we’ve been working through the alphabet and some basic math, which we did already do once, but mostly just through reading books because that was all I could handle while sick. He had picked up on counting well before, and is starting to grasp the concepts of addition and subtraction now. And he’s recently expressed interest in learning to read, since he’s picked up a few words. (Mostly his name, and “poop”, from one of his dinosaur books. Yes, he is definitely fitting the 4 year old boy stereotype here.) And I’ve been including his little brother wherever I can, which I think he’s enjoying. This picture is a recent one from learning what 100 looks like.
  3. The 100 Days Project. Speaking of 100… Even when I was feeling too sick to sew, I still needed a creative outlet! If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I’ve done scrapbooking steadily since I was a teenager, and last year, I started dabbling with doing it digitally. It’s been working out great for me, especially as something where all I needed to physically do was sit upright. So this year, I upgraded to a version of Photoshop that was actually made this decade, and dove in. I couldn’t quite manage doing it on consecutive days, largely due to an illness with a headache that forced me off screens for several days, but I signed up for the 100 Days Project to get some momentum going. And largely thanks to that, I busted through nearly the entire backlog of family photos that needed to be dealt with since getting pregnant with the younger boy, and have managed to stay almost entirely caught up on this year in the meantime! I’m not sure if the link will work unless you have an account with the site, but just in case, all of the 100 Days Project layouts are in an online gallery here, along with all of the other digital layouts I’ve made over the last year or so.
  4. All the books. This was actually a pretty good reading year for me, and I beat my Goodreads goal of 60 books. (Granted, some of this was short easy reader chapter books that I read aloud, like the first few Magic Treehouse books, but I’ll happily count everything that’s longer than a picture book.) A few favorite reads this year: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (one of my favorite authors), The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley, Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, and the first 3 books of The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. (The 4th wasn’t available at my library and is currently out of print while they are reprinting with new cover art, the book I’m linking is currently on preorder for that set, so I’ll have to wait to finish the series.) Can you tell I’m a fiction girl? I’m currently working through a long historic fiction set in Renaissance Italy (Voice of the Falconer, by David Blixt, mostly during overnight feedings), and the next pick for the book club that I’m in (The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates).
  5. Hmmm. I guess for this one, I’ll say family life in general. Doug is being very supportive of my need to get out for breaks, usually of the music rehearsal variety, and is great about getting things done around the house so it’s not all on me. And aside from daily struggles around dinnertime (extremely stubborn picky eaters), and some more recent very physical fighting, the boys are both at a fun age where they can usually play well together and communicate well with me.

So that pretty much sums it up! How was your year?

 

Sewing Top 5(ish): Hits and Misses edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the sewing blogger year! I always enjoy reading through people’s reviews of their year, and having a summary of my own to look back on. Though I may not be able to be quite so literal about the top 5 thing this time. I looked back quickly over my 2019 posts, and I only have 5 for the entire year! Granted, I often shared multiple projects in each post. Still, clearly, this was not my year for either sewing or writing about it. So, since I don’t feel like every project translated clearly into either hits or misses, let’s see how this plays out.

The definite hits:

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1. My MVP (Most Valuable Pattern) of the year award goes to the Chalk & Notch Pony tank. I basically lived in these all summer long, between two that I made for myself and two that my mom made for me out of some of her leftover fabric. The one I’m picturing here, from this fun print featuring many of the British things that I love (tea! Beatles lyrics!) never made it to the blog, though I did share it on my instagram account. I finished it back around the beginning of July, and this picture was from when I was around 7 months pregnant. It’s too cold to take a new one now! I suspect this pattern will have some staying power in my life, since it’s a great breezy tank for our notorious summer humidity. Even when I’m not suffering through it in third trimester misery.

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2. The other project that didn’t make it onto the blog: I finally made a wearable muslin of the Hudson pants, years after that bandwagon left the station. To give them a mini writeup: They’re from stashed ponte, originally tagged for a sewing dare that I never had a chance to complete. (Sorry, Gillian!) I added a wedge to the back rise, lengthened the legs instead of adding the bands to the bottom (I figured that would look better with the clunky, made for men sneakers that my extra wide feet often force me to buy), and I skipped the waistband stitching to make the drawstring channel. My reasoning for the latter is that I’m most likely going to be dropping some weight over the next several months, now that my “fourth trimester” is over, and I wanted less to unpick if I need to adjust the elastic. I need to figure out an easy solution to keep the elastic from rolling in the wash, because basting in some side seams didn’t work, that fell out in the wash. But for comfy mom pants that I don’t have to be embarrassed to run errands in, they’re definitely a win.

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3. The overdue Archer shirt. It was on my to-make list for about 2 years in a row, and then by the time I finished it, I only got to wear it once before I outgrew it! But I’m making up for it now that I’m out of maternity clothes, since it’s one of the only warm nursing-friendly shirts I currently own. Also, it looks great with my RTW gold jeans, which are one of the only 5 pairs of non-Hudson pants that (mostly) fit me right now. (Of course, this is also the picture from when I was pregnant.) Now that I’ve been able to really test the fit, I’m much happier with the tweaks I made to the sleeves and the hips. I do wish it was a couple of inches longer, because I do feel like the proportions are a bit off on me lengthwise, but otherwise, I feel confident in saying this can now be a go-to buttoned shirt pattern for me.

A hit and a miss:

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This picture pretty much sums it up perfectly! The wolf shirt that I recently made was a definite win for my younger boy. He’s worn it regularly since, and was very happy the other day when I hand-stitched the ears so they’d stay up. My older boy, on the other hand, has worn the shirt about twice, and never voluntarily. I finally ended up taking it out of his closet this week, telling him that if he asks me for it on his own, I’ll give it back, but otherwise, I’m setting it aside for when his little brother outgrows his. Sadly, he didn’t put up much of a fight about it.

The misses:

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Aside from the wolf shirts, the vests that I recently made for the boys to go along with their daddy’s were a definite miss. They still haven’t worn them past the approximate 30 seconds during our hiking day. The younger boy may still get a few sewn things from me, but I’m thinking that unless he specifically asks me to make something for him, with the possible exception of a Halloween costume, I’m done sewing for the older boy until further notice. (I really wish I’d figured this out before I’d ordered a themed fabric panel for each of the kids, but at least I’ll have fun sewing up the baby’s. She can’t argue with me about it yet!)

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2. On a similar note, my vest. Between the sizing issues that came from guessing at my size during the third trimester, and the shredded fabric problem, it’s just unwearable. I’ve currently got this hanging in the sewing portion of my closet, partially deconstructed and in need of picking a new lining fabric. I think that next time, I’m going to go for one of the cottons in my stash, because obviously the brocade was a bad choice. But since I have to take it apart anyway, at least I’ll be able to fix the sizing while I’m at it. It’s just a question of how long it’ll take, because I’ve got multiple projects in various stages of work that are currently higher priority to me.

Tied for third: these two refashions that I threw together back in the winter. The thing is, I just haven’t worn them since these pictures. I don’t think it’s a complete lost cause, it’s just that they’re both kind of in the “closet orphan” category right now, due to having surprisingly limited options of what to wear while I’m in the nursing stage. Also, I still want to dye the knitted shrug to better fit in with my wardrobe colors, and need to figure out what color. Maybe teal?

So, maybe it’s all of the hormonal craziness that’s been messing with my head all year long, but I’m kind of struggling with feeling positive about my sewing output this time. I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do for myself during the maternity/immediate postpartum stage, which was a full 3/4 of my year. And it seems like it’s easier to see what didn’t turn out as hoped this time, but it was also a lot more dependent on, say, the whims of children under 5, since I did a lot more sewing for others than usual. So I think this is going to be a good month to regroup, finish up the couple of projects that I currently have going, and start with a fresh slate in the new year.

the year-end wrap up and some upcoming plans

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

And now, all the nerdy number things!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, here’s my winter plan!

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

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

Sewing top 5: 2019 goals!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sewing Top 5: the 2018 misses

This was a little tough for me this year. Honestly, I feel like I’ve had a good sewing year overall, and even the things that weren’t 100% the way I wanted them still got worn multiple times. And I don’t want to be the person who’s critically nitpicking apart my own projects, you know? But here’s what I do wish had gone a little better this year.

2018-03-03_08-55-56 1. Taking time for muslins. My Easter Deer & Doe Reglisse dress was wearable, and I’m actually really happy with how my hacks went (lengthening the skirt and adding pockets!) But there were some fitting issues around the armholes, and they’re a little deeper than I would like. I was sewing this on a deadline for the Day & Night dress challenge, so I didn’t feel like I had time to test anything out, but if I had taken that time, it might have resulted in a better dress. I still wear this during the warmer weather, but I might need to take a second look at that area and see if I can fix it.

 

 

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2. Notions sourcing, specifically for my swimsuit. Again, I was overall happy with this project, particularly the shorts. The only foam cups I could get around here were awful, though. I couldn’t figure out how to sew them into the meshy pockets, the shape of the stiff foam was completely unnatural, and they were a real pain to deal with whenever I washed the suit. I’m coming to find that I’m having trouble finding even notions that I need at Joann’s, as they’ve been cutting back on buttons and trims and such. It makes me sad, as it’s literally my only sewing store around. As for this suit, I did find an older swimsuit with softer sew-in cups that I can recycle, if I can just figure out how to stitch them in. At this point, my only guess is to put the swimsuit on inside out and literally hand-sew them to the mesh so I can mold it to myself. Which means it’ll probably wait until a warm spring day next year, because I can not sit around in a strappy top during the winter.

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3. Leaving room for my hips. Oh, hi, Akita! (I had to get at least one picture of this on my own blog, since this was from a Sewcialists post.) To be honest, this wasn’t really so much of an issue for my from-scratch projects this year, as I’ve gotten better at blending between sizes. But for my refashions lately, it’s like I’m forgetting that my hips are a full 3″ bigger than they were before childbirth, and it’s not looking like they’re ever going to go back. The print camouflages it well, but I ended up having to go back and insert a triangle in the sides to give myself a bit of extra room, despite checking the pattern sizing. I had a similar problem with this top, though I used basically the entire width of the print fabric so there really wasn’t much I could do. It’s wearable, but a little more snug in that area than ideal. So that’s something I’ll need to do a better job of factoring in.

4. Overplanning. This is honestly something I do in every area of my life– I always think that I can do more than I have time for. And then I get really down on myself for how lazy and unproductive I must be. Yes, I could probably do better on things like actually cleaning something instead of scrolling Instagram, but a big chunk of this is just my life stage, and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. As far as sewing goes, this manifested in pulling out more patterns than I’d have time for in a season, planning projects for challenges that I didn’t even have time to start, and in a few cases, not actually finishing a project until the season it was wearable in had passed. Lately, I’ve been feeling like it’s ok to cut back and slow down and try to simplify things, especially since I’m in a season where I really do need to focus more on things like building relationships with my kids (and making sure they’re not scribbling on the walls while I’m distracted.) So while I did pretty well with things like my Make 9 board, as long as I stick with having switched a dress hack out for the jeans, I’m seriously wondering if this might not be a bad year to skip that long-range planning and just focus on something more like the Seasonal Sew 3. And then I can just focus on what I need or want to make now, rather than tying myself to a list that might not end up working for me.

Hmm… I think I’ll just leave it at 4, actually. Because the only thing I can think of for #5 is maybe keeping my sewing closet neater, but let’s be honest, that will probably never happen!

Next up, my favorite of the roundups: Goals!!! (Though, due to #4, I’ve been having trouble evaluating that. And I’d really like to see what sewing goodies I get for Christmas before I try to do any actual sewing plans. 🙂

Sewing top 5: 2018’s greatest hits!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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