Ease into Motherhood

I’ve been seeing posts pop up on Seamstress Erin‘s new series, Ease Into Motherhood, all over my feed for the last couple of weeks. Since this has been my life for two years now (how is Hobbit 2?!?), I thought I’d add my voice to the conversation.

I’ve found that motherhood is pretty much all-consuming, most of the time. At least, for me. As I’m sitting down to type this, I have the baby strapped to my front in the carrier and crying while I rock back and forth to try and calm him to sleep, and I’m having to stop every 30 seconds to keep the toddler from getting into something that he shouldn’t be. Most of the time, my time is not my own. I’ve had to rethink how I do everything, from my job to my hobbies to even the most basic necessities like food and sleep. And I’ll be honest, sometimes it feels like my body isn’t my own anymore either. Except for about two months last summer, I’ve either been pregnant or nursing for close to 3 years straight now.

Now that I’m past that “fourth trimester” (how is Padawan 3 months already?!?), I’m finding that in some ways, life with two kids is easier, and in some ways it’s much harder. It’s easier, because so far, the baby is sleeping longer and easier than his older brother ever did (thank God, because that was a rough 18 months!), and will actually let me put him down for 5 minutes so I can do things like empty the dishwasher or go to the bathroom. I’m also not freaking out every five minutes about how to best care for him, since I’ve been through this before. On the flip side, now that I also have a toddler, there’s the added pressure of trying to keep him from base jumping off of every piece of furniture in the house/still sticking things in his mouth that he shouldn’t be/actually having to start disciplining him when he’s not listening/etc. Plus the guilt that he, or especially the baby, may not be getting the one-on-one attention that he should be.

The impact this has had on my sewing has been especially noticeable this time, since I had to downsize my creative space from an entire room to one wall of our walk in closet, with most of my supplies stored out of sight in a closet two stories down. I ended up doing a pretty serious purge of my fabrics and yarns, along with some drastic cuts to supplies for other crafty hobbies. I now do most of my pattern tracing and cutting out at my parents’ house, since my mom has a space big enough to do it and our kitchen table is basically changing pad central now. (Thanks, Mom, you’re the best!)

My body is so different now from what it was pre-kids. I think that’s been the biggest adjustment for me, at least for sewing. I was so spoiled before, with a pretty steady weight and being able to figure out quick cheater ways to adjust my patterns and all. But 2 babies and being closer to 40 than 30 later, I’m still trying to figure out what “normal” is for me now. I may not know for awhile, since I’m still nursing and trying to lose some baby weight–much harder this time, especially since my hips got all out of whack over the course of these two pregnancies. (I actually just started physical therapy for that, so hopefully the problems will get fixed.) Plus there’s the question of whether we want to try for one more child or not. Normal might be a long way off.

I’ve been having to seriously rethink my style over this last year. And a lot of the things I want to sew have had to go on the back burner. (I’m looking at you, Ginger jeans.) What I thought was flattering on me before just isn’t anymore, with my new thicker waist and mom belly. I’m finding myself considering patterns that I never would have before, like things with elastic waists that are more forgiving for my constantly shifting weight. I’m having to learn to think of my sewing as every little step counts, rather than the hours at a time that I used to be able to do. I have to really prioritize my projects in a way that I didn’t have to before. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing–after all, even though my maternity clothes have taught me that I get really bored with a small, minimalistic wardrobe, a more carefully considered wardrobe means that I’ll get more use out of the things I do make. And, as slow as I am these days, I’ll never run out of things to sew! Which is probably good, because so much of my life seems to be things that never get done (including my small bit of work outside the home, because there’s always another lesson to teach, or more practicing or rehearsing to do), that it’s nice to actually be able to look at something at the end of the project and know that it’s done, ready to just be enjoyed, and be able to pick up and start something new.

Also, I’ve learned that making things for kids can be very rewarding too. I’m not planning to make entire handmade wardrobes for either boy. We were given way more baby clothes than one kid ever needs, and I’m actually relieved that my older son has gotten to a size where I feel like I can actually justify making the occasional shirt because we don’t have 50 of them already. But it’s been fun to make the occasional toy, and Halloween costumes! Plus, even though decent boy patterns are much harder to find, the results can be pretty adorable. I mean, look at these two.

 

I’ll be honest… sometimes I wish that sewing was a bigger part of my life still. But at moments like this, where the baby just woke up crying in the carrier again and the toddler just came over with one of his two favorite stuffed animals to try and cheer his little brother up, it’s much easier to remember that this is just my current season, more time to sew will come again, and I need to take advantage of these moments while my boys are little.

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a little safari shirt

The first couple of projects after Padawan was born were rough. Two things that I cut out while still pregnant ended up not really fitting well. Another thing didn’t have finished garment measurements and ended up too big. But since all three involved navy blue thread, I figured this would be a good time to knock out a kid’s project before Hobbit outgrew the amount of fabric, so I could take a break from fitting myself. And since he’s turning 2 today, it seemed like a good day to  share!

20170618_112708So how do you  get a clothing-averse toddler to model? Bribe him with food. (I took these photos on my phone while we were out to lunch for Father’s Day on Sunday. This is about as still as Hobbit gets while awake! I’m just glad he kept the shirt on for these pictures, honestly. He’s begging for them to come off every chance he gets these days.)

This is the “Be Cool” tee from the Spring 2015 issue of Ottobre. Obviously, without the extra time of adding the applique. I’m on the hunt for a good, basic tee pattern that I can use as the boys get older, but I’m not convinced that this one is it.

20170618_113635 The pro: It was super-easy to make, especially now that I have a coverstitch machine. I was able to knock this one out in about 3 sewing sessions, which is really good for me these days. (My sewing sessions don’t even last 10 minutes sometimes, since I’m at the mercy of that lovely little Venn diagram of that time when both boys are napping.)

The con: Apparently I’m that stereotypical dumb American who can’t work the metric system. I had a printout that converted the centimeters to inches, specifically for their size chart. But either I measured something wrong, or my sleep-deprived brain read something wrong on the chart, because this thing ended up huge. It doesn’t look it here, because I learned from my mistake on a shirt that I haven’t managed to blog yet (ha!) and recut this down to size when I realized it was going to be ridiculously big on him.

20170618_113237 He’s currently right on that edge of outgrowing 24 month clothes/2T, so I figured I’d make this shirt about a 3T so he’ll get more use out of it before it gets passed down to his little brother. After initially cutting out a size 104 on the toddler chart– what I believed was one size up from his measurements– I compared it to a hand-me-down 3T shirt we were given and ended up cutting it down to the size 92. As you can see, the shoulders are still way too wide for him, with that shoulder seam falling a couple inches too low on his arm.

20170618_114857That being said, the length of the shirt overall is pretty good. He’s got his arms raised up here, and the waistband is still covered. So I don’t know if Hobbit is just skinny and tall for his age, or what?

The fabric is a knit of unknown origin, that my parents gave me for Christmas 2015 to make a shirt for him. Hobbit has been on an animal kick for awhile, and definitely recognized several of the animals on here, even if he still names them by the noise they make rather than what they’re actually called. I didn’t need to worry about him outgrowing my yardage, as it turns out, because I easily have enough of this left to cut the main parts of a raglan tee in a larger size. I thought about making something matching for Padawan, but we just have soooooo many baby clothes that I’d rather use my limited time to cover the larger sizes where we actually need things. At least, until he’s old enough to get jealous, if he even cares about getting new clothes vs. hand-me-downs.

As for the ribbing, I harvested it off of one of my tees after I realized that the navy blue ribbing I bought looks really purple next to the background of this fabric. Sadly, several of my favorite geeky tees are just too short/tight after two pregnancies this close together. So my plan is to recycle those into something useful so I can keep the graphics (eventually), and in the meantime, I got a much nicer contrast ribbing for free.

So my quest for the perfect basic boys’ tee pattern continues. I do have another one to try out, so stay tuned…

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!

Top 5 hits of 2016

This is actually going to be a little more challenging than I thought. Mostly because I just realized that, counting one shirt that I haven’t posted yet, I’ve only made 13 things for myself this entire year! But the end of year roundup that Gillian hosts is always fun, so here I go anyway…

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I’m mostly just sticking to things I made for myself, and am just going to do these more or less chronologically, since it’s easier to scroll through Flickr that way. And I’m all about keeping it simple these days with blogging!

Top 5 Hits:

Deer & Doe Plantain Raglan hack 1. My raglan Plantain hack. One of my recurring goals in sewing is to successfully alter my patterns for new looks, and this is one of the examples that actually worked out. Another recurring goal of mine is to make colder weather clothes that actually have color, since I find those much cheerier to wear on the dreary, grey days that are all too common during our Mid-Atlantic winters! This also counts as both stashbusting and refashioning, since the paisley was recycled from a shirt I’d cut out long ago but would never fit my post-baby body, and the teal was stash leftovers from my other Plantain. I’ve worn this one regularly, even into my second trimester, and have gotten several compliments on it from strangers. So that’s always a win.

 

 

Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt

2. My Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt was also a winner. Our fall was oddly hot well into November this year, so I didn’t have a huge window of opportunity to wear things that had longer sleeves, even rolled up with lightweight fabric. But it did get multiple wears, and actually fit through my first trimester. It’s another one where the cheery color makes me happy, and look, I’m already on trend for the Pantone color of next year! As long as I can find a good nursing camisole to wear underneath, I think this one will also get a good bit of wear once baby boy 2 makes his appearance, and I’ve got this pattern earmarked to make at least one more version, once I get fabric with sufficient yardage to do so.

Black Appleton

3. My basic black Cashmerette Appleton dress. A musician can never go wrong with black, especially now that I’m in the community orchestra and playing concerts on a more regular basis again. This was my second version of the Appleton this year, with a few alterations to make it more wearable for me. I’m also very happy with how my sleeve hack turned out. This is another good nursing-friendly pattern, so once I get my smaller belly back, it’ll probably see a lot more use too!

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4. This entire outfit. I’ll revisit this in a future post, but one of my goals for this year was to start making some more mini capsules for my wardrobe. Actually, this fabric combination was my specific photographic example, so it’s nice to see that I actually finished it within the year! Both of the two visible pieces are Seamwork patterns, and ones that will be likely revisitied in the future. I’m also wearing Cake Patterns Espresso leggings that I sewed this past year, and those have become a staple piece. (The tank top underneath the mint sweater wasn’t as successful, but that’s not the point of this post.) I’m not sure how much wear this outfit as a whole will get next year, but I still may be able to work in the skirt if I can come up with an easier nursing top. I am actually still able to wear this pair of leggings now, though!

IMG_42695. This dress, at least once I turned it backwards. It’s comfortable, the print is fun, I pretty much nailed the stripe matching, and it’s basically everything that a summer maxidress should be. Again, sadly, I doubt I’ll get much use out of it during this upcoming year. But I wore it a lot during the warm weather, and I have no doubt that this will make it back into the rotation once baby feeding allows.

Bonus kid make: The top thing this year was definitely the BB-8 hoodie. Even if’s already nearly met its demise by grass stains (which I got out) and odd color bleeding (which I’m not entirely sure was from the orange itself, since it’s only on one side. I need to fix this with some white paint.)

I move slow and steady…

Man, where did August go? There’s actually been quite a bit of crafting going on in Casa Adagio. But I just couldn’t seem to get it together to, you know, actually finish something this month. But I do have several things in progress, so here’s my monthly update.

So here’s what’s been happening in my little world…

IMG_43751. Knitting project the first. Awhile ago, I started knitting the Latte Baby Coat for Hobbit, after inheriting some bulky acrylic from a cousin who tried knitting and decided it wasn’t for her. I thought this would be a quick project because of the thick yarn. Boy, was I wrong! For one thing, I had to entirely frog and restart it, because I originally started to make the hooded version. Then I realized that I misread something, and was several stitches short. That, and the hood took nearly half of my main color of yarn. So I started again, with the admittedly less cute hoodless version. Hobbit currently hates all things resembling hats anyway, so I guess it’s for the best. And this is how far I’ve gotten. I had to buy another skein of yarn anyway, as this is much more of a yarn hog than I’d anticipated. I’ve discovered that bulky yarn is hard on my hands, too. So I can only do a few rows at a time. I’m glad that I started this as early as I did, since I’m not sure if it would be ready for the cold weather otherwise. You know, if he even lets me put it on him in the first place. He’s in full fledged toddler mode now at 14 months, so you never know!

IMG_43762. Knitting project the second: I decided to mix it up and also start a long-planned project for myself. I’ve been wanting a nice mustard cardigan for awhile, so I finally started it. I still need to acquire one smaller cable needle for it. Amazon sent me the wrong needle size, and trying to wrestle Hobbit into the car seat to drive five minutes to the post office to do a return and hope they send me the right size doesn’t seem worth it. So I’ll just order another one sometime. Like in a year or two when I’m close enough to finishing this cardigan to actually have to think of button bands. Did I mention that I am quite possibly the slowest knitter on the planet?

IMG_43743. Sewing project the first: I finally started the Grainline Archer shirt that I’ve had queued for, oh, two or so years. I think what was holding me back was the fabric. It’s a perfectly serviceable, lovely-feeling Japanese linen…but oh so plain navy blue. I just couldn’t get excited about that, especially since 2 of my 3 pairs of pants that vaguely fit are blue jeans. (I do have some gray denim to fill that particular wardrobe hole, but you see how long it takes me to actually sew things on my list…) But thanks to some inspiration from a fairly recent issue of Seamwork, I’ve gotten past my mental block, and am quite excited about my embellishment! This is the yoke and the collar, with the addition of sashiko embroidery. I’m also going to do this on the cuffs. I won’t go into more details now, since I’m also possibly the last indie pattern user on the planet to make this shirt and I’ll need something to talk about in the finished project post. But I am quite pleased so far. And, surprisingly, enjoying the process quite a bit.

IMG_43724. Sewing project the second: I have fall sewing on the brain, and therefore cut out a shirt from some fabric that’s been in my stash for at least a decade. It’s stuck here for two reasons at the moment. My attempt to tea dye some stark white inexpensive crochet lace trim resulted in barely any color change at all, and I need to give that a second go. As you can see, it’s still too bright. Also, I ran out of thread that was even remotely matching, and couldn’t refill my bobbin until I bought more. But hey, I’m stashbusting!

5. I did the worst closet purge of my life. I had to part with so many me mades this time that still just don’t fit anywhere remotely close to well. A few things that I couldn’t bear to fully let go of, like this jacket and all of my Thurlow pants, are going into the refashion bin. Maybe those pants can at least be revived as kid’s shorts or pants, because I only got about one year’s use out of them and the fabric is still in great condition. Plus then I get to keep the buttons. Still, I’m rather bummed about this whole process.

IMG_43776. I did buy some fabric. Mostly for Hobbit’s Halloween costume this year, which I’ve gotten as far as tracing some pieces and sketching out for some hand-painting that needs to happen with it. But I also did some selfish shopping for a sewing dare. Gillian dared me to make myself an everyday outfit based on Lord of the Rings costumes! So I bought a piece for my main component. (I needed something for free shipping on Fabric.com anyway.) More on that later, since the Halloween project has to take higher priority.

7. On top of all of this, I’ve sloooooowly been making a fourth and hopefully final batch of cloth diapers, which will hopefully last through any growth spurts that may come before Hobbit is ready for us to start the dreaded toilet training process. I’ve got the covers done as of this month, but need some time to do the inserts. It’s just serging around rectangles and adding some stitching for fold lines, but I still have to cut about half of them out in the first place, too.

I think that’s all of it! So I’ll have something finished to show. Eventually.

Sewing for Boys: a birthday shirt for Hobbit

IMG_3926Okay, seriously…how the heck is my little boy a year old already? His birthday was last week, and so my main project this month was to make him a new little shirt to wear for that day.

The pattern is the Classic Oxford by Peekaboo Pattern Shop. I seriously wish I’d known about this site about 18 months ago, because they have several women’s knit patterns that have the option of buying a maternity and/or nursing add-on, and they’re all pretty cute in both the pregnant and non-pregnant versions. But they also have cute patterns for boys, which are notoriously hard to find. I strongly suspect I’ll be revisiting this shop for shorts and hoodies and the like.

 

IMG_3968I sewed up the 18 month size, out of some fabric I’d bought on sale shortly before he was born. It was a rather timely make as far as characters go, too! Though I haven’t seen Finding Dory yet, and probably won’t make it to the theater #becausehobbit. Oh well, that’s what DVDs are for, right? As you can see, this fits him pretty well. Which is a huge relief, after the sizing issues I’ve had sewing up big 4 baby patterns. (I’m still sad that the Star Wars shirt ended up so unwearably wonky in sizing.)

I was pleased with the directions overall, too. There was one point with the yoke where I just could not make heads or tails of how the instructions wanted me to do it, but I figured out an alternative that worked just as well and still left everything clean on the inside. I particularly liked how the collar stand worked out, because she added some extra length to the pattern and you had to line it up by stitching to the edge, not anything too fiddly.

IMG_3945I do kind of wish that I’d had thread that matched better instead of the navy blue. And the buttons were just regular shirt buttons raided from a giant jar that my grandmother gave me when she was downsizing to move. But I guess that’s ok, because boy clothes are more suited to just regular old shirt buttons. I did do two pockets instead of one, since the print is a little more reminiscent of a Hawaiian shirt, and was very happy with how the print placement turned out for those! So hopefully he’ll get several more wears out of this before he outgrows it. But at least I can always do the unbuttoned layered shirt thing to take this one into the fall. The pattern does go up to sizing for approximately 12 years old, so I’ll definitely be getting more use out of this pattern. Especially because it also has cutting layout hints for recycling men’s shirts for it, and I’ve already saved a worn out work shirt or two of Doug’s– I find the idea of him wearing shirts made from his daddy’s shirts adorable!

IMG_3938
One last closing shot. Aside from this, the bulk of my sewing this month has been altering a bridesmaid dress for my sister in law. But that’s almost done now. So I’ll wrap this up so I can finally cut out something for me!

cuteness overload

I have a tolerance-hate relationship with shoes. I tolerate them, because my feet would be cold without them, and I’d step on a lot more sharp, pointy things. (Especially with this hobby.) But I really hate shopping for them, because it’s so hard to find shoes that fit and are still cute. I’ve wished SO many times that I could just make my own. And one of the things parents typically do with their kids is vicariously enjoy the things they could never do themselves, right? So all that to say, I made my kid shoes. And they’re adorable!

I had a cooperative model today. So prepare for a barrage of cuteness!
IMG_2729First of all, the shoes themselves. Both are from Simplicity 2491, with a few modifications. Everything is scraps–linen, heavyweight muslin, a thin faux suede, and microfleece for the insides. The pattern called for wool felt inside, but I didn’t want to risk finding out the hard way that his skin reacts to wool as badly as mine.

IMG_2727The pattern for this one looked kind of like a bear,  so I altered the shape of the ears so it would resemble our golden retrievers. I also machine stitched the mouth, since I already had black thread in the machine from my previous project, which still needs to be photographed and blogged.

IMG_2720I also changed the closure. This one was originally two ribbons to tie into a bow. Hobbit is a very active baby, though. And kicking is his main thing right now. So a one-ribbon strap with Velcro like some of the other views has was a much more practical option.

The monkey shoes originally had that velcro ribbon closure, but I got even lazier and used black elastic to make them fully slip-on. If I make another pair of these in a larger size sometime, I’m thinking I might go with a frog, because that monkey face shape is perfect for that, too!

I’m really glad I made these bigger than I thought I needed to. According to the measurements, he should have had room in an extra-small. I made the small, and while there’s room in the toes, it’s still a bit of a struggle to pull them on his feet. They were very quick to sew together, though. I got these done from start to finish in three naps. And if the weather ever gets cooler before he has a growth spurt, they’ll be good lightweight shoes for the fall.
IMG_2721I’ll end this with a gratuitous outtake, because THAT FACE.

Sewing for boys: My Little Jedi

I have a feeling this is going to be a sporadic, ongoing series, at least while Hobbit is in the age range that I can sew things for him without him protesting. Because one of the first things I’ve learned about being a (future) boy mom who sews is that it’s a lot harder than it should be to find cute patterns/good fabric with boys in mind. I’m more hopeful about the patterns than I was initially, since recently finding an Ottobre magazine at the local Barnes & Noble/joining a Facebook group specifically focused on sewing for boys. But the fabric is still tough. Especially if I’m looking for anything that isn’t quilt cotton or doesn’t cost over $10 for just half a yard. (Which is all the fun prints I’ve found so far.)

Yoda shirtAll that to say, I made a baby shirt. And it’s geeky. Because that’s how I roll. (Though, for the record, I think this totally counts as gender-neutral. After all, girls like Star Wars, too!)

My fabric stash is going to be challenging to shop for boy clothes, because frankly, I don’t have a lot of stuff that suits–if the color is right, the fabric is usually wrong (too delicate/drapey/etc) and so on. So I was quite pleased that I was able to construct this shirt completely from my scraps! The black is leftover bamboo-blend rayon pieces from the maxi-dress I recently made, and the cream is some leftover scraps from a knit top I made years ago. I guess I’d been thinking they were large enough scraps that I could use them to attempt to make undies or something, and that’s why I still had them? But both pieces are very soft, which are perfect for baby wear. And since I used the same multi-piece pattern that I used for those hockey pants, this shirt was essentially free! I’m happy that I finished it within the SHB Sewalong timeframe, too.

Stencil closeupAs for the stencil, I remembered that I have a scrapbook cutting tool that will use any True Type font that I have on my computer to cut shapes. (Why didn’t I remember this when I was making those bibs last fall? Oh well…cutting those stencils was one of the only crafty things I was feeling up to at the time, anyway.) So I used that and some freezer paper to cut this Yoda quote out of a Star Wars-looking font. It worked pretty brilliantly, other than my evil, possessed ex-iron deciding to spew water all over the stencil when I ironed it on. The result was a little bleeding here and there where the fabric was still damp when I started working. It ended up being for the best, though– I used some other paint in my stash to outline the letters in yellow to help cover the messy bits up, and ended up liking it so much better with the pop of color than I did when it was plain black! I can still sort of see the parts where it had bled, especially around that comma, but it looks a lot better than it did.

Neckline detailThe one major change that I made to this pattern was the shoulder edging. The original instructions called for turning those little curved edges under and hemming them. That seemed rather fiddly to me, and like I’d just be setting myself up for rippling and frustration–especially given the state of my iron. So I cut an extra 1/4″ off each edge instead, cut some bias strips out of the black knit, and treated it more like a binding. So much easier, even with trying to stitch in the ditch around tiny curves to get the underside to stay in place, and I like the contrast better than I think I would have liked the plain cream.

I made this in the medium size, which looks like it corresponds roughly to somewhere in the 6-12 month range. Baby clothes sizing still baffles me, to be honest. I’ve actually resorted to hanging the onesies that I currently have in the closet by length, because they’re all supposed to be the same size, but they don’t look it at all! So I figured that if I go by length, I might be able to make faster guesses at what might fit him vs. not. Anyway, the point of all that is that I’m hoping this means he’ll still fit into this shirt next May 4th. Yes, I already made him a shirt for his first Star Wars Day. I already have his first Halloween costume plotted out, too. What’s your point?

On a side note, I’ve also learned that it’s almost impossible to find boy clothes with a sports theme that actually reference hockey. At least in the US–it’s all baseball and football and occasionally basketball. Since Doug only cares about hockey and especially dislikes baseball, we’ve actually been passing the sportsy hand-me-down clothes we’ve been given to a good friend of mine who’s due to have a boy about 6 weeks after me–clothes are all she’s needed, since she already has a young daughter, and her husband is a lot more into sports in general. Also, now that Doug knows I have a machine that will let us make custom stencils, he requested that I help him decorate one of the plainer onesies that we’ve had passed on to us. The result?

https://igcdn-photos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/t51.2885-15/11085068_1558879861044348_2079045648_n.jpgAccording to him, this font is one that gets used on some professional hockey gear. I did the machine set-up/ironing, he stenciled the black, and then I outlined it with the gold again so it would be closer to Pittsburgh Penguins colors. He had a lot of fun showing this one off to various local friends–we live in Flyers country, of course, and he likes trash-talking them–and I have a feeling he’ll want me to make more hockey-themed clothes in the future!

(Completely unrelated side note: Blogger is telling me this is my 900th post on here–crazy!)

it’s the time of the season

Happy spring, right? Here in the good old Mid-Atlantic, ours started with winter trying to get in one last sucker punch! I think it’s time for a breakup with cold weather, because I am OVER winter clothes. I know I say that every single year, but with my currently limited wardrobe choices, it’s even worse. I’ve been wearing the same 2 pairs of pants (with the jeans mixed in as I can) and the same 3 cardigans almost every single day. And my one purchased winter maternity top is looking rather dingy and sad. I guess that’s what I get for buying a cream sweatery-looking top.

That being said, with the limited window I have remaining in which making clothes for myself to wear throughout the rest of this pregnancy still has a point, I’m trying to focus on things that will carry me through the spring and into the summer. And, hopefully, still be wearable afterwards.

Tie dye maternity skirt frontEnter my new maxi-skirt! The fabric is a luscious-feeling bamboo-rayon jersey blend, part of the mini-stash of knits that my parents gave me for Christmas. It took me a lot of thinking initially about whether this fabric wanted to be a skirt or a top, but once I realized that I only have 2 pairs of non-jeans maternity pants left that still fit (I’ve outgrown the third, which were a little small on me when I first chopped them into maternity pants), and they’re both reconstructed corduroy pants, a warmer-weather friendly piece of bottomwear won out.

This month’s Stashbusting Sewalong theme is sewing with patterns that you already have. So I based this skirt rather loosely on Simplicity 7229, which I’ve used a few times before for skirts and capri pants. (I’m having to link this to my Pinterest since it’s out of print, so hopefully it’ll work!) The original skirt is pretty basic– the two pieces for the front and back are the same, and it has a wide yoke with a drawstring top. I’d always made it in wovens before, but here’s the changes (aside from knit fabric) that I made to make it more maternity-friendly:

    skirt full panel

  • Added several inches to the length of the front/back pieces. Which I actually did the last time I made this pattern, because the original pattern was this awkward mid-calf length, and I ended up hating that and chopping off the previously made skirts to a shorter length.
  • I did also have to narrow that at the bottom a bit, because my fabric wasn’t quite wide enough to accommodate the extra width. But since it’s stretchy, that’s ok. Especially since I’m starting to get into the waddle phase and my steps aren’t quite as big as they used to be.
  • While I used the yoke/drawstring waistband pieces to get a general idea of how wide to cut it, I replaced that with a slightly skinnier but much longer rectangular piece. The idea is that I can use it to cover up the baby bump for now–the over-bump stuff sits on me way better than under-bump stuff, which just feels awkward and like it’s constantly on the verge of falling down. It’s a little loose at the very top of the band, around the rib area. But I’m not too worried about it.

skirt yoga waistband

    It folds down into a yoga-style waistband, so I’m hoping that it’ll be snug enough that I can wear this skirt once I’m a little smaller around the waist again, too! It’s obviously hard to tell how that will work right now, but a girl can dream, right? 

    Overall, I’m really pleased with how this adaptation worked out, and how fast it was to sew together! I did all of it, including cutting out, in 2 sewing sessions. Which is pretty speedy for me. Depending on how this works out to wear afterwards, this just may be how this skirt pattern ends up getting used from now on. It’s so tempting to find more of this type of knit and whip out a few more! But I have several pieces of knit that I still want to make other clothes out of to wear in the meantime, so I shall try to restrain myself.

    I used up pretty close to a full 2 yards on this. As an added bonus, I had just enough fabric left to make a little something for the Hobbit! We’re actually doing pretty well with collecting baby clothes so far, largely thanks to my mother-in-law, who’s brought over multiple bags of things that neighbors and acquaintances were getting rid of.  At least, we’re doing pretty well with onesies and pajamas. What seems to be largely lacking is pants. Given his nickname, all I can think of is that old Lord of the Rings movie meme where certain words get substituted with “pants”. The most famous being…

    Which never fails to crack me up, but Hobbit is going to need some pants eventually. So I made some.

    tie dye leggingsThe pattern was a freebie that I found on Craftsy, the Go To Baby Leggings. I wasn’t entirely sure about tie-dyed pants for a boy, but a few kind sewcialists on Instagram talked me into it, and I hope these actually end up fitting him because I think they turned out pretty cute! I made these in the 3-6 month size–partially because lightweight jersey pants going into the fall make sense, and partly because I literally did not have enough fabric left to make them any bigger. Doug was pretty impressed, I think–I cut and sewed these in their entirety on Thursday, along with finishing the skirt, and his instant reaction was that they were adorable and I should post them on Facebook. Always a good sign. I wish I knew how they were actually going to fit him, because I had these cut out and sewn together entirely in basically no time! But at least I have the pattern tested, so if it works out, I can always fall back on this as a quick project while he naps or something.