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?

Advertisements

I’ll be back…

It just might be awhile before I have anything new to show off of any needles or other craftiness, since my big 9 month project decided he was done.

Meet Padawan! He was born on Friday night after a shockingly accelerated labor (as in I really wasn’t sure we’d make it to the hospital on time by the end, and it was all over less than half an hour after we got there.)  He was 8 pounds 3 ounces, and 20″ tall. I don’t think Hobbit knows what to make of this yet– he was interested for a few minutes on Friday night, then got fussy, then didn’t want much of anything to do with either him or me yesterday. Toddlers. Hopefully I’ll be forgiven soon. 

Anyway, we’re going home today, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to pick up any of my projects again, while I’m healing up and we’re all getting used to each other. (And hopefully getting more sleep than Hobbit let us have.) In the meantime, happy Easter and happy sewing!

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…

slowest knitter EVER

I finished a thing! It only took me about 8-9 months! The sad thing is, it took me that long to finish a sweater for Hobbit. Who is not a super-tall human. And it was with bulky yarn. Isn’t that supposed to be fast to knit?

latte coat frontTechnically, I never actually finished it. There were supposed to be pockets, but I literally ran out of yarn. I didn’t block it (it’s acrylic anyway, so it’s not like that would do much), and I was supposed to sew on some buttons, but figured that pushing buttons through those tiny little eyelet buttonholes while trying to restrain a toddler was probably a lost cause. Anyway.

latte coat backThe yarn was Lion Brand Hometown USA, which I originally got from a cousin who had tried knitting and decided it was too physically hard on her hands. There were two skeins of the cream and one skein of the brown, and I figured it would be good colors for something boy. It looked like there would be enough yardage, based on what I read on Ravelry, so I went for it. And wow, was I wrong on the yardage. I actually had to go back to the store twice to buy more of the cream, and the last time I went back for more, there wasn’t any. The brown stripes on the sleeves were out of necessity, just to get enough length to finish. (And as you can see on the left side, I didn’t have quite enough of that either.) I also discovered that knitting super-bulky yarn isn’t that fun for my hands, either. I guess it’s because I knit pretty tightly, but it hurt. So I had to keep picking it up and putting it down and occasionally knitting another project instead.

The good news is, since I knit a larger size, even though it’s spring now and he probably won’t need this sweater, it’ll probably still fit him in the fall. The bad news is, I’m pretty sure he hates it. I tried to get it on him just long enough for a photoshoot, and these were the best pictures I was able to get:

nooooo This one was while yelling “nooooooo” and reaching out so I’d pull this horrendous thing off of him.

 

 

 

 

bye latte coatAnd if he looks happier here, it’s because he was managing to shrug it off himself. Sorry for the blur. I blame toddler physics– the kiddo in motion tends to stay in motion until an outside force acts on him and forces him to take a nap or something.

Oh well… I’ll try again in the fall. And if he still hates it, maybe Padawan will wear it? I hope so, because as long as this took me, it’s sad to think that it might have been a complete waste of time.

 

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?

New year, new space

I know, I know, it’s well over a month into 2017. But I’m not moving fast these days, both physically and in terms of crafting. For those of you  who are just tuning in, my sewing room is becoming baby #2 (aka Padawan’s) room. We’re finally getting to the point where Hobbit is starting to sleep through the night more consistently, thank God! But that means we also don’t want to have another little guy in the same room waking him up at this point, and vice versa. (Even though he’ll really be spending his first few months in the bassinet in our room, since the less walking I have to do for late night feedings, the better.) Anyway, the point is that I’ve officially gone from a sewing room to a sewing nook in our closet, with my fabrics and less frequently used supplies moving to the basement. And clearing this room out has sucked up a lot of the time in which I would otherwise be making things.

img_4632

Ignore the crappy lighting, since I can’t do anything about it, but here’s the new space! My machines live at the wall that is shared with our actual bedroom, and Doug drilled a hole for a power strip so I could plug everything in. My must-have supplies are in an IKEA cart that tucks nicely under my skirts and dresses. And nearly everything else is in a large downstairs closet that connects to the finished part of the basement.

And look, new machines! I finally have gotten the Janome coverstitch machine set up and tested, and I think this is the beginning of a much more beautiful friendship with my knit projects. In addition, my mom generously passed one of her extra sewing machines on to me, so I have a newer Bernina to play with! While my old machine has more decorative stitches, this one actually has that lightning bolt stretch stitch, and a machine light that functions. Both of which have been handy already. (Let’s be honest, decorative stitches aren’t something I’ve used much  since my teenage years anyway.)

Along with the rearranging, I’ve also been trying to declutter as much as I can stand to, including being really honest with myself about project leftovers I can’t find a use for after years/free fabric people have dumped on me that isn’t my taste/etc. I’ve still got some work to do on scrapbook and miscellaneous craft supplies, but here’s a sampling of what I’ve managed to let go of. (Understanding that I’m a pack rat by nature, and the thought of doing that Konmari extreme declutter horrifies me.  So this is huge!)

  • 65 yards of fabric, which was well over 10% of my stash. (The Stashbusting Sewalong group is trying to collectively get through that much this year, so yay team!)
  • A stack of scrapbook paper that was around 5″ tall. That’s a lot of paper. (This actually  went to my best friend, who uses it for a particular item she creates for an annual craft fair at her church.)
  • A bunch of stickers, including several unopened packs that were clearly from the 90s. Sandylion, anyone? (Too obviously girly for me to save for the boys, since my one naturally gravitates towards things like trucks and dinosaurs and safari animals all on his own.)
  • Most of my really cheap-feeling acrylic yarn/yarn with alpaca, since my skin has made it very clear that wearing any animal fibers against it for longer than 20 minutes is a no-go. (I did keep some cheap acrylic for kids’ crafts, and one alpaca yarn for some boot toppers, since it’s a versatile color and I’d be wearing those over jeans or leggings.)

And, for the sake of catching up, here’s a quick summary of everything I sewed in January.

Cake Espresso Leggings Since it was the only thing on my #2017makenine list that is actually wearable for me at the moment, I made another pair of Cake Espresso leggings, this time in a grey ponte. Technically, I made two, though I finished the second this month. Unfortunately, the second pair is currently unwearable– while this grey ponte from my Christmas haul had a four way stretch, the teal that I used for the second was more of a two-way stretch. As a result, at the risk of TMI, I can’t get them pulled up enough to fully cover my backside. I do have enough fabric left over than I can add some length there, but I’m going to wait until after the bump to try them on again and make sure that’s not the only issue. But I’ll probably just unpick the folded-over waistband and stitch on a new one to give me the coverage I need to be comfortable wearing them. I did get to play with my new coverstitch for both of these, so that was fun!

The rest of my sewing was rather utilitarian. Part of rearranging the closet to accommodate my sewing machines was needing to figure out what to do with our dirty laundry, since our washer and dryer are two floors down from our bedroom. So I recycled one of my old handmade curtains into two new laundry bags. Having something that closes is definitely a must, since one of our golden retrievers is a total kleptomaniac and our socks will be all over the place if he gets a hold of them.

I also have been playing around with a more old-fashioned paper planner this year, since writing things to do out seems to help me remember better. The particular one I purchased is a print-at-home, and one of the major perks for me was having lots of note pages so I can treat it like a bullet journal, and therefore have all of my lists of projects to work on and books to find and whatnot without having to write out my calendar every month. But my binder was boring, and I needed a way to keep my pens with it, so I used up most of some leftover quilt cotton from an apron that I made several years back to make a cheery cover for it. (The button is part for looks, and part to keep it closed in a way that Hobbit hasn’t figured out how to get past yet! He’s starting to figure zippers out, so that was a no go.)

My sewing this month has been pretty slow so far, since I wasn’t able to sit down in the closet cave for over a week. But hopefully I’ll at least finish what I’m currently working on before this month is out! I’ve got a few things that I’d really, really like to finish before Padawan makes his appearance, since I have absolutely no idea how much luck I’ll have in getting both boys sleeping at the same time for awhile. Wish me luck!

Year-end wrap up

Since it’s time to tie up the loose ends of 2016, here’s a few unblogged projects, my stashbusting update, and some exciting updates to my sewing space!

Unblogged project #1: Hobbit’s Christmas shirt. I had just barely enough of this homespun type plaid that one of my grandma’s friends offloaded onto me, and I did have to supplement a bit with some plain black. Most of it was straightforward sewing, especially since it is a larger size of the same pattern that I used for his first birthday shirt. The one place I did have trouble was the sleeve placket. I don’t know if it was the particular method given in the instructions, or pregnancy brain, or what, but I could not make sense of how this was actually supposed to work! And I know I ended up doing it wrong– the inside of the placket is so wonky, and there is absolutely no way I would have been able to add the button mid-placket that the instructions called for, even if I hadn’t opted to go with the more casual buttonless look. I couldn’t find any pattern help for this part online, so I’m definitely going to have to do a practice run or find another method before I make the long sleeved version of this pattern again!

Unblogged project #2: I made another batch of diapers, using some PUL prints that I was given last Christmas for this purpose. It more or less took me literally all year to sew these, because I just worked them in between all of my other projects. But I’m hoping that this will be the largest I have to go, since Hobbit will be getting to an age where I can attempt toilet training next year. I can’t say I’m entirely done with diaper sewing, because a friend gave me some brand name adjustable size covers that she didn’t need, and I’ll need to make some inserts so I can use them as backups for either boy when I’m behind on laundry. But I’m getting close, and that’s nice. Now I just need to figure out some use for these large scraps that the oddly shaped pieces left behind!

The stash update: I started the year with around 426 yards of fabric, and ended with around 394. It’s finally going down! It looks like I used a total of close to 61 yards this year, and acquired about 30 1/2. Admittedly, about 17 yards of that was Christmas gifts this year, but I already have specific plans for most of those pieces due to the wardrobe holes that my mom knew about. She’s good like that. My stashbusting plan for this year is to donate several pieces that I just don’t think I can use, mostly pieces that other people destashed onto me that aren’t necessarily my taste. And then sew as much as the boys let me. I will have to purchase for a couple of specific projects, namely nursing bras/my coat lining/Halloween costumes, but I do want to focus on using what I have as much as I can.

Right now, I’ve been busy going through my jewelry supplies and drastically downsizing. Then I’ll have to tackle fabric, yarn and scrapbook paper. But I’m hoping I can get the room cleared and my new space set up as quickly as I can, because I have all of these pretty new fabrics and patterns, plus new toys to play with! Doug surprised me with a coverstitch machine for Christmas (eeeeeee!), and my mom recently informed me that she’s passing on one of her extra sewing machines to me, since she has multiple of those on hand. So I’m getting a newer model Bernina! My workhorse from the late 80s-early 90s is still running fine, aside from that one incident where the electric went out in the middle of my wedding dress, but I have to admit that it’ll be nice to have an actual stretch stitch that isn’t guessing at zigzags. And, well, a light on my machine that works, since that one has been useless for probably a decade. We’re still trying to sort out how exactly to configure the new space, but the most likely option at this point is to buy a wardrobe to store our clothes in the main part of the room, and then set up my sewing machines in the walk-in closet so that we can close the door and keep Hobbit away from all of the sharp pointy things. (As well as his little brother, who will henceforth be known here as Padawan, once he’s starting to get mobile.)

Top 5 of 2016: Goals!

Aside from hits, this is honestly my favorite category of the top 5. I like comparing notes from the previous year’s post to see how I did and where I still have room to grow!

So to start, here’s the review of my goals for 2016.

1. Shirtmaking…I would like to focus on finishing these nicely, and especially learning to do a proper full bust adjustment. I’ve never had a truly successful one yet. For the record, the patterns [I’d like to try] are the Grainline Archer, the Sewaholic Granville, the Deer & Doe Bruyere, and Butterick 5826. I also have some things that would make adorable little boy buttondowns, and another Butterick pattern to try out for that.

I did well with this one. Though I didn’t really get to the FBA, I did try out both the Bruyere and the Archer! I also made two buttondown shirts for Hobbit, though I ditched the Butterick in favor of the Peekaboo Patterns Classic Oxford, since every single Big 4 pattern I’ve tried to make for him was a fitting fail. Both of the patterns I made for myself were keepers. And I’ll get to the others, at some point. I’ve also been happy with the boy’s shirt pattern so far, and will show the second version soon. (I will say that it is nice to know that these shirts will see some more use when the new little guy is big enough!)

2. Use up some deep stash.

While I didn’t quite get as far in this as I would have hoped, I did use up one of my decade-plus old pieces. And I also ended up handing off a substantial pile of old remnants and some random yardage to my sewing student to give her different fabrics to practice on. So while my overall stash totals for the year aren’t the top numbers in the Stashbusting Sewalong, I did make some progress. I’ll probably elaborate on this in a final year end post.

3. Try something completely new. There aren’t many types of garments I haven’t tried to sew by now, so I’m leaning towards bramaking and/or lingerie. Some pretty new underthings would be a nice treat after I’m done nursing. Especially because my few nursing bras are already in awful shape, and I still have 6 months to go with them! Ugh!

Frankly, I didn’t get to this one at all.

4. Loungewear. I could use some new pjs, especially for the warmer months. And I do have a tested pattern I can use, since my Sewaholic Tofinos actually fit pretty well again already. Aside from pj pants, though, I could use some comfy clothes to wear around the house that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to run an errand in. Aside from one pair of pre-pregnancy jeans that never fit great, the only pants I have that currently fit are the one black pair and two pairs of jeans that I bought a couple months into the post-partum stage. And ok, they’re already big enough that functional belts are necessary, but all of the Thurlows and other jeans are still too small. (Waaaaah.)

Again, I didn’t get to sewing anything in this category, other than the one pair of pj pants that I was less than thrilled with. But I did buy some patterns near the end of the year that could possibly fit this, depending on what materials I use.

5. More mini-capsules! Either sewing more complete outfits, or new pieces to style with things already in my closet. 

As shown in my hits post, I did get to the complete outfit that I specifically had tagged. And while they were less than successful, the two basic tees in my misses were also attempts to work on this. Especially the coral one, since between that and the mint sweater from the other outfit, I now have two options to pair with my flamingo skirt that aren’t just a black top. So this goal was a success.

Now for the two non sewing ones I’d mentioned…

The first is that I’d like to do a bit more knitting this time. Ideally, I’d like to make a new cardigan, but I have other small projects I’d like to do as well, including one that’s already on the needles. I have a few things on the needles, actually. So I need to finish or frog them. Or in one case, probably restart, because it’s been so long that I have no idea where in the pattern I left off!

Mixed success on this one. I did finish some small accessories early in the year, but then got caught on some longer projects. Especially the sweater for Hobbit. It’s ended up being more of an ordeal than I’d ever anticipated, between learning that knitting bulky yarn is actually pretty painful for me and running out of yarn multiple times. That put about another month’s delay on finishing it. I’m getting eager to just get this done already, but I only have one sleeve to go, and am hoping to finish by the end of the year. I did manage to at least start that cardigan for myself, though, so that’s something.

The second is a closet purge. I’m probably going to wait until closer to the fall, after I’m done nursing and my measurements most likely stabilize. I’m hoping that by then, I’ll really have a better idea of what will actually fit again/what still fits my newish lifestyle, and can make informed choices about what to keep and what gaps need filling.

Well, as you know, I did this. I just wasn’t anticipating being pregnant a second time for it! But I do have a better idea of the holes in my wardrobe now, which leads me to my goals for 2017…

  1. Figure out a workable new sewing setup. As mentioned before, my sewing room is going to need to become a second nursery. Hobbit still isn’t sleeping through the night consistently, despite my efforts, and it’s the only way to just keep the boys from waking each other up all night long. So we’re bouncing around ideas for how best to set up a crafting space for me in our own bedroom, and I’m working on a system to store my must-have supplies in a way that the boys hopefully can’t get into.Related to this, I think I am going to do a small stash purge, since I also need to deal with yarn, scrapbook supplies, and other miscellany. I’m already mostly done with sorting through my beads and will be letting go of most of that, since making jewelry is the crafty hobby I’ve had the least time and use for. I can’t even wear most of what I’ve made until I’m done with the grabby hands stage, so…
  2. Now we’re getting into specifics. My first actual sewing goal for the year is to try making bras. For real, since I’ve mentioned it at least three years now. But these past 15 months or so have been particularly frustrating when it comes to RTW bras, so I’m going to try making some for nursing and see how it goes. I’ve already located a pattern and an online supply shop. I just need to figure out specifically what I need to buy, since the yardage requirements listed vs the size actually listed on the website was a bit confusing. Even so, my math indicates that the cost for supplies for one bra plus the pattern is about the same as buying one nursing bra from the mall. Since one of those didn’t even last four months before it started going bad on me, if this works out enough to make a couple more, it’s a good investment of both my time and money.
  3. I really, really need some pants this year. And I desperately need some shorts, because I literally had one pair that fit at the end of last summer and they likely won’t quite fit 6 or so weeks after giving birth this year. And moms of active little boys cannot live in skirts alone! I bought two patterns that have shorts that I can probably guess enough at sizing to get by. If one in particular works out, I can make pants with it too. I also have patterns from Seamwork and Style Arc that I need to try, which will likely be forgiving enough that I can just get over my fitting hangups and give it a shot come fall.
  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, since I was less than thrilled with the results of my Megan Nielsen/Simplicity top. My plan is to try and hack my trusty Renfrew into something that will work for that, though having a machine that will help specifically with my knit hemming issues does give me a lot more options!
  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. So I’d like to make a midweight coat for those days that range between the 40s and 60s in the span of hours. I have a pattern, and a bolt of around 5 yards of olive twill that will be great for the outside. So now all I need is some microfleece or something to underline, some lining fabric/notions, and for my stomach to flatten out enough that I can actually muslin this thing.

The good news is, I don’t need any maternity clothes. Between what I sewed last time and a thrift store run to pick up a few more cold weather things, I should get by until April with no problems other than wardrobe boredom. I do want to make a couple of boy t shirts before Hobbit outgrows the yardage I have, and may need to make some machine covers, depending on how we end up dealing with the space. But aside from that, my game plan is to try and tackle the bras and shorts in particular before April, and start the coat during the summer so I have it ready to go when needed. And then work in pants and tops as I can.

Hope you’ve all had lovely holidays, with lots of sewing goodies! I know I’m excited about some of my gifts, and will be sharing soon!