where my wild things are

As much as I used to dream during my first pregnancy of making adorably elaborate Halloween costumes for my kids, I think I’ve settled into realism. And the facts are:

  1. So far, my boys’ idea of dress-up is “stick a scrap of fabric on my head and say I’m a pirate”. (This literally happened on the day I started writing this post.) We have a very select few thrifted dress up items, and they never get used.
  2. Sewing time is hard to come by.
  3. I just don’t have time to make one-wear items right now.

So this is the story of a lot of plans getting mostly simplified.

20181031_132014Hobbit is completely obsessed with dinosaurs. It’s lasted over half of his life so far. Padawan is pretty much into just taking whatever toy his brother is most interested in at the moment (ah, the joys of toddlers), so I haven’t picked up on any particular preferences. So my original thought was to make Hobbit a dinosaur costume and dress the little guy up as a Jurassic Park ranger or something. I even have a sewing pattern for a dinosaur costume. But the time just seemed to get away from me, so I decided to go the route of a Halloween costume that could be worn over and over again, to make it more worthwhile. I’d been hoarding this coat pattern from Twig + Tale for a year or so (it was called the Wild Things coat when I downloaded it, though it seems to have been changed to the tamer “Animal Coat” since then), and knew I wanted to make it before the boys were old enough to think Mom is being lame for trying to dress them like that. Deciding to make the dinosaur version for Hobbit was a no-brainer. Padawan took a little more consideration. I have a pants-length of a khaki-ish corduroy that is completely outside of the colors that I generally wear, so my initial plan was to estimate the yardage and dye it to whatever colors I needed, and I figured I might be able to get a decent fox color out of that. As you can see, this plan also did not happen, also mostly due to time, but also because my opinionated 3-year old was adamant that he wanted his coat to be in his favorite color. The best red I could probably dye with that base would be rust. Also, fleece is generally very easy care, which is always important for kids. But I did stick with the fox.

After I decided to go outside of the stash and get some fleece, things proceeded more smoothly (aside from the only orange fleece available being basically neon. But at least I won’t lose Padawan in the woods.) I lined both coats with flannel, since my hope is that they’ll be warm enough to get from the car into buildings, and the coats aren’t so bulky that they’re dangerous for the far seat. No, they will not be playing in the snow with these, assuming we even get any, because Mid-Atlantic winters are unpredictable that way. I also did bust a tiny bit of stash by adding some lining fabric onto the top of the sleeves, so they’ll slide more easily over shirts and such. I didn’t go all the way down, because the sleeves are purposely sized long to make turned-up cuffs. Also, the instructions specify that the coats and sleeves are both on the longer side, with the idea that a child should be able to get at least two years’ worth of wear out of the same coat. I really appreciated that they built growth considerations into the design and made it so it can last longer!

20181031_130820Another thing I like about this company: They make stuff that’s also for BOYS. It’s honestly ridiculous how hard it is to find sewing patterns for boys compared to girls, but everything I’ve seen from them is pretty gender-neutral. And a lot of animal themed stuff, and what kid doesn’t like that?

20181031_130634Anyway, here’s a slightly more in-depth review, since this was my first time making one of their patterns. Construction was straightforward, and aside from some page-flipping to jump around to the different directions, since some skipping is necessary depending on what animal is made, I didn’t have any trouble following the directions. Probably the most difficult part was the dinosaur spikes*, mainly because I had to do a little extra work and seaming to get everything where it was supposed to go, and the directions didn’t entirely reflect that. I didn’t have any trouble figuring that out, but a more beginner sewist might need that clarification.

*The other difficulty was having to go back later after I’d finished the coat and rip the  back spikes apart, trim down the fleece scraps I used to help them stand up better, and hand-stitch them back together. But that’s not the pattern’s fault, that’s Hobbit being difficult about wearing it in the car. The spikes were a little bulky at the tips, since they were two layers of flannel and one of fleece, so I guess I can see how that would bother him. But still. Frustrating.

20181031_131049Trying to figure out how to close these coats up took some consideration. There are some nice instructions for some loops to go around large buttons, but getting these two to stay still long enough to actually work a buttonhole is a feat of Herculean proportions. So after some discussion with my usual sewing sounding board (aka my mom), I settled on giant snaps with buttons on the outside for the aesthetic. It does make closing the coat very quick, which is helpful, since the whole process of getting shoes and coats and all the other things together to get out of the house usually involves at least one wrestling match and/or high speed chase! #boymomproblems

20181031_130457I know Hobbit likes the coat, at least outside of the car, because the couple times we’ve been to a playground since I made it have generally included a lot of stomping and showing off his roar and telling everyone that he’s a T. Rex. (Though he did make a point of telling me early in the process that T. Rexes didn’t really have spikes. Part of me wishes now that I’d left those off, but I doubt the tail alone would have conveyed the dinosaur element.) Padawan just doesn’t like putting a coat on, but so far, it doesn’t seem to bother him once he’s outside, most of the time. The tail is admittedly a little long for him, since he’s on the small side for his age, but hopefully he’ll grow into it soon. And so far, they’ve gotten a ton of compliments on their coats, at least from adults that we run into. Overall, I’m feeling good about our little everyday wearable costumes. And I’m glad that Halloween turned out to be a pretty nice day weather-wise, so I could get these photos while letting them burn off some energy in my parents’ backyard!

Top 5 Hits and Misses

It’s time for my favorite year-end series! Thanks for hosting this yet again, Gillian!

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of 2017! (1).jpg

I have to say, it was a rather mixed bag this year. I wasn’t the most productive in terms of finished projects. And I do have two currently unfinished things that seem to be turning out well, but I don’t want to hold off on this post in case I don’t finish them in time. That, and time to write on the computer instead of my Kindle is rare and must be taken advantage of. Let’s start with the hits, shall we?

nursing bras

1. The award for most worn definitely goes to my nursing bras. I only ever really blogged the ivory one, but I made three. It did get a little better as I went along, and the black one is the best by far. I’m happy to report that they are holding up far better than the RTW ones I used with Hobbit, since those were falling apart by the time he got to the age that Padawan is now (7 months). The fit is decent enough. I’m still thinking through whether bra-making is a field I want to dig further into. On the one hand, I do have a Craftsy class on them that I haven’t gone through yet, and I do get annoyed at continually paying for bras that start falling apart after a month. (Seriously, every non-nursing bra I had for the few months between weaning Hobbit and being too pregnant with Padawan to keep wearing them lost their underwires in that short time, and I’ll have to buy all new ones again when he’s done nursing. Argh.) On the flip side, this was super fiddly, and I really do prefer wearing the smoother foam-cup bras. Either way, this won’t be anything that’s happening next year. Maybe once I finally get my wardrobe in better shape again.

Cake Espresso Leggings

2. The “best wardrobe builder” was my grey Espresso leggings. It’s nice to have a pattern that works equally well for maternity and normal clothes! And since I pretty much exclusively wear leggings as tights instead of pants (except for that one time where I was 9 months pregnant and even my maternity pants weren’t fitting anymore), they’re pretty versatile. I still need to fix the teal ones I made at the same time, since that particular ponte just didn’t have the vertical stretch needed to make it work, but I’m hoping to add to that waistband sometime before the end of the year. We’ll see if I get to it.

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3. The award for “cutest project” definitely goes to the boys’ Halloween costumes. I mean, come on. I’m also gratified that Hobbit still pulls out the scarf sometimes to play with, since that was the most time consuming part of his costume.

Matcha and shorts

4. The “best salvage job” goes to my Wonderland Matcha top. Even though it started out ridiculously huge on me, I’m very happy with the finished result and wore it quite a bit when the weather was warmer. I’m still hoping to get the sizing on this sorted out, because I really do like the style and want this pattern to be a go-to.

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Incidentally, here’s a couple of projects I never got to blogging– I made a quick infinity scarf with the leftovers of this top, and a second one from a fun print I purchased specifically for this purpose. (I mean, tiny horse plaid!) I haven’t gotten to wear these much, since I spend a lot of time with a baby carrier on right now and they would just get soaked in drool, but I’m looking forward to mixing these in more soon.

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5. And the best “just for fun” project goes to my Norwegian Wood Rae skirt. The Sewcialists blog recently did a series on TNT patterns, and while it’s a little embarrassing to admit that my current TNT skirt pattern is an elastic-waist beginner pattern, it’s nice to have one thing that I can just whip out with fun fabric and know it’ll fit.

Now, for the not so good projects…

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1. The “fabric fail” award is a 3 way tie. The first is my nursing-hacked Renfrew. The concept was good. But the rayon jersey just drapes too much for having that kind of opening in the front, and at this point, it’s pretty much unwearable until I sew those nursing openings shut. Which pretty much defeats the entire purpose. I think that the sizing on this was also off– I made the largest size because nursing chest, but it’s just too long and saggy and baggy all over. I would like to do some more work on the Renfrew and figure out my new size, since this used to be one of my TNTs and I miss it.

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2 & 3: My black and ivory nursing camisoles. (Ivory only pictured, because the other is the same pattern. Plus bonus Padawan photobomb.) This was another fabric fail. It was the same rayon jersey as the Renfrew, and the weight of the elastic pulls it down past the opening band. I still wear them under other things, but I have to tuck the elastic under my bra band to hold it up. It’s definitely a fabric fail and not the pattern, though, because I made a grey one from a different remnant, and it has much better recovery, and works great.

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4 & 5. The “bad fit” award goes to both pairs of shorts that I made over the summer. I’m only showing the print pair here, since the solid was in the same picture as the Matcha top. At the time, the issue was that the largest size of the shorts were still too small for my postpartum body. By the time the summer ended, I’d lost enough weight that I could wear both pairs. But since the drafting still left the knit and solid meeting halfway down my butt and it always felt like the shorts were falling off, I really don’t think this is salvageable. The print in particular makes me sad, because I like the fabric for this one.

I have one bonus project that I’m not really sure which side it falls on.

IMG_5136 So, my Jalie Vanessa pants. On the one hand, first successful pair of pants I’ve had since I started having babies! On the other hand, I’ve been kind of stuck on how to style them, particularly since the weight of the fabric and the bagginess mean they really only work for warmer weather. Any suggestions on shirt patterns or silhouettes that might make these more versatile? I mean, I’d hate to toss out a pair of pants that actually fit just because I’m not sure what to wear them with at this point.

A Harry Potter Halloween

IMG_5267Oh, hi, neglected blog! I’ve been struggling to get time to get photos of the most recent project that I finished for myself, but I figured it’s time to share the Halloween costumes that I made for the boys this year. Especially since this plan has been almost two years in the making. One of my best friends has a son 3 days younger than Hobbit, who happens to be a redhead. So we decided while they were still babies that we just had to dress them up as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. (I can’t share pics of the two of them together, since “Ron” isn’t mine, but trust me, it was adorable.) We decided that this was the year to do it, since they were both old enough to walk on their own, but not quite old enough to have firm opinions of their own costumes. And I just had to turn Padawan into Hedwig.

Seriously, my boys are the cutest.

Isaac PotterFor Hobbit’s costume, I used a bathrobe pattern– the “Just Like Dad Flannel Robe”– that was included in Sewing For Boys. I’ve had this book since I was pregnant with him, but this was my first time using it. I also didn’t entirely follow the directions, since the robe was fully lined and I was planning to use fleece. The boy runs hot, so a double layer would have made him miserable. So I just lined the collar area with the burgundy fleece and blind-stitched it down, added some velcro to the front in necessary places to close it, folded the too-long sleeves up underneath his sleeves, and called it a day. (Honestly, since I had to bribe him with candy to get him to try it on at all, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time nicely finishing a costume I wasn’t entirely sure he’d wear. Thankfully, I did get him to wear it for the night of Halloween!) The robe itself probably could have been a little longer, but his friend that did have a longer robe had some issues with tripping, so it’s probably just as well that it wasn’t. (As for the too-short pants, I discovered when I got home that I’d accidentally put him in a pair of Padawan’s pants that somehow ended up in his drawer! Oops.)

The scarf was more time consuming than the robe, but I knew that I’d never finish it in time if I relied on knitting. So I sewed strips of gold fleece to the burgundy, sewed that into a tube, and then cut the ends into the fringe. One eyeliner lightning bolt and a purchased pair of glasses/wand later, and I had my little boy wizard.

IMG_5272 For my adorable little snowy owl, I used the KB Stitch Star Sleeper, which I already had, as my starting point. I mostly did the construction as is, with the additions of the appliques on the feet, and the wings. The legs ended up being too long, but I just tucked the excess up near the feet and it looked fine. I also added a velcroed on panel for the stomach, since we were originally going to take them to a Halloween parade where I’d likely have to leave him in the car seat, and that would cover the car seat buckles. But that got rained out.

The wings were a lot of fun to make. I drew the pattern for the wings and tail freehand as two separate pieces, then drew the lines on one layer of fleece with my chalk pen, sewed it through two layers of the fleece, and then trimmed up the uneven bits. Then I just stitched them directly to the sleeper. I was able to sew the tail and the center of the wings on with the machine, but I did the wingtips to the arms by hand.

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As for the hat, that was a free pattern that I found here. I ended up leaving the ear bits off after looking up pictures of snowy owls and seeing that their heads were rounder. I also freehanded the eyes, since the ones that came with the hat were a little cartoony looking for this. I’m really pleased with how this outfit turned out, and am actually thinking I may use this outfit as his “coat” for the car this winter, since the fleece is non-bulky enough to use safely with the car seat. (Both of the boys have blankets to keep them a little warmer, too, thanks to their Nana.)

I didn’t have time to make any costumes for myself this year, sadly. Hopefully next year I can manage something, because it’s more fun trick or treating when I have a costume, too!

this is the droid you’re looking for

Oh, hi! Now that we’re past Thanksgiving here in the States and the Christmas season is starting, I guess it’s time I actually write about Halloween, right?

I wanted to make a costume that would be easy for an active toddler to wear without much fussing, so an oversized hoodie seemed to be my best bet. And since Halloween in our house is basically just an excuse to make and wear the geekiest things I can, I decided (last December) to dress Hobbit as BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’m mostly pleased with the results, which is good, since this hoodie took me a solid 2 1/2 months to make!

The pattern is the “Block Stripes Hoodie” from the Spring 2015 issue of Ottobre. This was my first time sewing any Ottobre, but I’d heard great things about the kids’ patterns, so I was excited to see how it turned out! The first half of this project was really just prepping the fabric, because all of that print is hand-painted. It went a lot faster after I finished that.

Overall, I was pleased with Ottobre’s directions. I had to wing a few things, because the directions assume you have a coverstitch machine, and I don’t. This was mostly problematic on the hood– I probably spent a solid 45-60 minutes carefully pinning the ribbed binding into place and sewing with the walking foot, only to have it end up rippling and flipping the raw edges to the outside. Maybe I should have shortened up the length of the ribbing, because it’s definitely much floppier than the sample picture.

IMG_4445I made the 92 cm size, in hopes that he’ll be able to wear it for at least a second year. It’ll probably work, because as you can see (as well as I could capture him, because he was literally running in circles around my parents’ living room at the time), the sleeves and body are both a little long on him. But wearing it as his costume did work out well. He didn’t even fuss about having the hood up, which is really good for a kid that immediately rips hats off of his head.

My only Halloween shots were off my phone. I did a quickie Rey costume for myself, using a rolled up pair of hiking pants (plus a safety pin and belly band), the cream tee I made over the summer, my scrunchy grey boots, and some cut up cheap sweater knit. I paired his hoodie with a plain onesie and grey knit pants.

IMG_4453So there’s my October sewing, other than some bibs and burp cloths for a cousin. I’ve been spending most of my sewing time this month working on a Christmas shirt for Hobbit, and my own Grainline Archer shirt. And trying to figure out the best use of my sewing time for the rest of this pregnancy, considering that my sewing room will also need to be converted into a second nursery. We have found out that Hobbit is getting a little brother, but he still isn’t falling or staying asleep super consistently. So at this point, we figured that having them share a room wouldn’t be helpful, since the boys would constantly wake each other up. I am hoping that I can still make another thing or two in the midst of packing and decluttering. The current plan is to set up the machine in our bedroom so I can still try to work some time in. You know, if the boys ever nap at the same time.

On the plus side, at least I know that the handmade kid clothes that I have made so far will get some more use! If Hobbit doesn’t destroy them first…shortly after these photos were taken at my parents’ for Thanksgiving yesterday, of course he got the hoodie all muddy! But I’m pretty sure I got most of it out. I guess worst case scenario, BB-8 was a little dusty from all of the action, right?

baby’s first cosplay

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen the big reveal photo. But of course I still have to share it here, because the first costume is a big milestone in the life of any kid raised by a geek, right?

Anyway, we didn’t really bother with Halloween this year, since taking an only child who can’t eat solid food yet is just an obvious parental fabric grab. (He ended up being asleep when the kids in our neighborhood were out anyway, so it’s just as well.) But I still wanted to make him a costume. I’d figured maybe I could just run an errand somewhere to show it off, but then one of my good friends told me about a local Halloween parade the Sunday before. She has a toddler and a boy that’s 3 days younger than my own, and we’ve already decided that the boys are going to be friends (at least as far as we can encourage it), so we took them out for their first Halloween event together. So, without further ado…

Hobbit baby!Hobbit as a hobbit. Bet you never saw that coming, right? The catalyst was the booties, which my mom knitted and gave us last Christmas. So I decided then that a hobbit lad or lass had to be the first costume. It was a pretty easy costume to put together, minus the struggle of finding hands-free time to do it. I ended up resorting to going to my parents’ house early on several teaching days, and sewing while my mom held him. (Naptime crafting…the struggle is real.) The shirt and vest are the components that I made. He already had brown knit pants in his current size, so I just folded the hems up to shorten them. hobbit shirt

I didn’t have patterns for either piece, so I had to trace off some of his clothes and draft my own. I used a button down shirt as the basis for the shirt, but decided that I didn’t want to bother buttoning up a shirt that the front would be mostly hidden on. Hobbit is very squirmy when one tries to dress him now! Besides, my fabric source was a white t-shirt in my refashion bin. So I used Velcro in the back to close it up easily, and seamed the front to facilitate the faux button down look. I based the look off of Frodo in the movies, since my little Hobbit’s hair color is closest to his, and his look is less of a choking hazard than Pippin’s scarf. That shirt has a Mandarin-style collar, so I just used the collar stand by itself, finished the edges down to the center front seam to make a sort of v-neck, and left it at that. I altered the sleeves to add some gathering.

The cuffs were a tricky decision. I could have finished them more cleanly, but that would require sewing tiny cuffs and sleeves in the round. So I opted for the simpler route and finished them flat. I probably should have sewed the bottom of the cuff seam first and then stitched in the ditch to attach the lining to the sleeve, rather than fold the seam allowance under and topstitch like I did. But I didn’t think of that till halfway through the first one. I blame sleep deprivation.

vestAs for the vest, I traced off a fleece zipped one and modified the front. I did have it cut out of a stashed piece of brown fabric that was too little yardage to make anything adult-sized, but ended up ditching that in favor of craft felt, because I was running out of time and felt doesn’t need edge finishing or lining. So four seams + snaps hidden under buttons = done. The bonus is that it looks kind of like wool, without me having to touch it. It burnssss ussss, we hatessssss it, Preciousssssssssss! Goll….ahem. 2015-11-11_09-54-20

He seemed comfortable enough, and he was definitely cute! I’m already pondering what costume to make him for next year–he’ll probably be old enough to go out, but not old enough to go up to houses alone. Obviously, this means I need to dress up with him, right? Oh, darn. I did try this year– I didn’t have time to sew anything new, so I cobbled together a vaguely Elf-ish outfit out of my olive green Hummingbird skirt (which is snug, but zips up now, yay!), a funky-sleeved shirt that I made back in college and still love, and my costume cloak that I sewed up years ago. And boots. Always the boots.

A quick note about October totals: 4 yards out, plus the t-shirt from the bin, no yards in. I think that leaves me with around 347 left. I will need to buy fabric before the end of the year–all signs point to me needing to make a fourth size of diapers, because he’s already on the largest snap size for the small and so there’s no way medium will last me till he’s potty training age–but I’m in good shape to hit my goal of ending the year with less fabric than I started with.

August round-up, and a stashbusting update

How is it September already? This summer’s been kind of a sleep-deprived blur for me, I guess for obvious reasons. But it’s still weird to think that soon I’m going to be having to start layering up for colder weather.

Before I get into this post, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented on my last post! It was really interesting and encouraging to hear your thoughts on creativity when interpreting vs. designing/composing.

So, all factors considered, this was actually a pretty productive month for me as far as sewing goes! And I do have a couple of projects that I haven’t shown on here yet. I did finish up a second Rae skirt yesterday, but I haven’t had a chance to photograph it yet, so I’ll save that for a later post. But aside from that, and the first Rae skirt and the flamingo skirt, here’s what I’ve been up to:

puzzle bagMy in-laws have been bringing a lot of stuff over lately. They recently came for lunch with three boxes of kids’ books and a few toys that they picked up at a yard sale for $1/box. I didn’t keep everything–there were a lot of things like coloring books that were already colored, and they ended up taking the girlier stuff for when our niece is over there. But there were some excellent book finds, too. Somehow, several puzzles ended up in the bottom of the basket of things I kept. Since Hobbit is still a few years too young for even these simple ones, I made a bag to keep everything together until he’s old enough. It only took one naptime, I recycled a zipper and effectively used up the largest piece left over from the diaper bag, and my label worked. So I’m happy with this spontaneous project.

Merida costumeThe other thing I spent a good chunk of the month on was a costume for my best friend, who is going to DragonCon again this year. She gave me permission to post this photo. She wanted to do a Disney princess this year, and chose Merida. We actually started this back in the winter, with a plan that I’d work through it with her so she could learn a little sewing along the way. But life and mostly my pregnancy meant that there was still a good chunk to do with the deadline approaching, so I finished it. The pattern is McCall  , and while she bought the main green fabric and trims, I happily donated part of my stash to the cause–the sleeve lining bits and the white brocade was my contribution. (Now if I could just figure out what to do with the other polyester brocades that have been hanging around!) I’m happy that, although I can’t go with her this time, and I’m ok with that because the baby needs me here, some of my sewing will still be there.

Stash used: Not counting the skirt I finished yesterday, mostly because it was half a refashion and I have no idea how much I used on top of that, this leaves me with a total of 8 yards used up, and 6 that were straight out of the stash. I counted the flamingos, even though I broke habit and used it almost immediately.

Stash added: I bought 2 1/2 yards of chambray with a gift card that had been sitting around, because I felt that I needed a denim skirt for the fall. Then I made the happy discovery that my TARDIS skirt really is bigger on the inside, and I can squeeze myself into it again! So now I need to figure out what to use it for, since there’s a LOT of options. A shirt? A dress? A shirtdress? Augh! And then remember what I said about my in-laws? Someone they knew, I think one of Doug’s aunts, was getting rid of fabric, so they brought it here. Again, I didn’t keep everything, because I don’t have much use for upholstery fabric. But the potentially useable stuff still totaled 18 1/2 yards! Yikes!

Toucans

The best find in there, hands-down, was this. It’s large scale and crazy bright and I must use it. But not until I start next summer’s clothes, I’m sure. I have more pressing wardrobe needs. And Sarah is hosting my favorite annual sewalong again, so of course I want in!

Since we’re starting the last third of the year, I thought this would be a good time to give an overall stashbusting update. I started off the year with about 375 yards of fabric, and according to my records, I’ve used close to 79! (Thank you, diapers.) The best news to me, though, is that even with the additions, my current tally runs around 351 yards.  So as of now, I have about 24 yards less than I started with. I still feel like I have a ridiculous amount of fabric, especially now that I just ended up with over 20 extra yards in a month. But every project gets me one piece closer to my goal of a manageable-to-store, better-curated stash.

2014’s top 5 hits and misses

Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5
Time for the Top 5 lists, as hosted by the fabulous Gillian! I’m going to start off with hits and misses today.

Top 5 Hits
Looking back over my posts this year, I guess this was the year of pants, coats and dresses.

Grey Thurlows 21. The Thurlow Trousers– all 4 pairs of them I made this year. I’m just showing the grey pair here, since they show up in photos the best. Along with the brown test pair I made in 2013, these got a ton of wear during the cooler months this year. And unlike most of my jeans, I was able to wear these pretty much all the way through the first trimester–it was just last week that I had to resort to safety-pinning them closed rather than buttoning them. So I’m feeling hopeful that, even though I’ll have to retire them for the remainder of this winter, maybe I can pull them out again next fall.

Robson Coat

2. The Robson coat. I love the color, and I’m quite happy with the inside finishing. I will confess I need to do a tiny bit of repair on one of the pocket flaps where the stitching has come out, but aside from that, everything’s holding up nicely. I actually took this with me to Paris and ended up wearing it pretty much constantly, and it was the perfect added layer. Also, dragon buttons!

Tea Cambie3.  The teacup Cambie. I loooove the print on this dress, and I have to admit that this is probably the dress that I’m most nervous won’t fit again post-pregnancy. Here’s hoping, because I really feel like this dress deserves more wearing than I was able to give it in one season!

IMG_13884. The Tiramisu maxi-dress. This one did get quite a bit of wear over the summer, since it’s a little more casual of a dress than the Cambie, and that makes it easy to wear for teaching and such. This one did adapt very nicely to the longer skirt, and I’m glad I got a chance to try this hack out!

peacoat5. Even though it did take forever to make, I’m going to have to say the peacoat. The time I spent on the tailoring seems to have been well worth it so far, as was the investment in the Thinsulate. It’s much less stiff to wear than the old one, and so far, it seems to be keeping me warm.

Top 5 Misses: 
Not all of these are necessarily sewing projects, or even entire sewing projects. But still…
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1. The daisy Sorbetto. It’s not so much that this project was a fail, as that I just haven’t worn it much. I pretty much have this one skirt that it works with and that’s it. Plus it got cold pretty quickly after I made it, and, well…you know, all my clothes starting to not fit. I’ll probably pull it out again sometime, though I doubt I’ll get much wear from it next summer, as it’s not the most nursing-friendly top.

2. My jeans hardware installation skills. I think I would have gotten a lot more use out of the skinny jeans earlier in the fall, if the button hadn’t started to get loose after one wash. My dad used some of his epoxy-type stuff to ensure that it wasn’t going anywhere, and that’s worked. But it’s also made the inside waistband really scratchy right behind the button. I managed a quick fix for awhile by just sticking a band-aid behind the button, but I need to stitch a patch over it for a more permanent solution. I just never got to it, and now that those jeans won’t fit me for awhile anyway, my motivation to do so has been quite low.

Irish cables hat
3. This hat. I think it would have been better for me if it had been about an inch longer. It barely covered my ears at all, and that bugged me to no end. I ended up giving it to my mom, since it fit her much better. I guess I have a big head or something?

IMG_13224. The Tauriel costume, which I attempted to make for the Sewcialists’ “March of the Shieldmaidens” sewalong. A combination of bad choice of fabric and less-than-stellar pattern alterations left this looking pretty awful. And though I love making costumes, I wasn’t having much fun with it, and was just getting stressed at how many more things I’d need to make for DragonCon vs. how long this was taking. So I ended up throwing it out and wearing my old Eowyn costume instead. Which was probably for the best.

5. Honestly, I think the biggest miss for me this year, or at least the last couple of months, has just been sewing time. It’s not that I didn’t want to, or even that I didn’t have any free time in which to do so. It’s just that my “morning” sickness ended up being so bloody awful and I just didn’t have the physical stamina to do it as much as I would have liked.

So what’s your favorite thing(s) that you’ve made this year? Anything you wish had gone better?

a little owl cape

The nice thing about sewing on Saturdays is that I can instantly post! I literally just finished this project about 10 minutes ago, minus photography/writing time.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the last post, a friend of mine emailed me while I was on the Paris trip to ask if I’d be willing to help her out with a Halloween costume for her foster son. I’ve made some capes for her before, for her own boys and her nieces/nephews, and the idea was pretty cute, so it was hard to say no! The boy loves owls, and really wanted to dress up as one. This was the inspiration link she sent me. And she bought the owl mask herself, so my only responsibility was the cape.

Owl cape, frontAnd this is what I came up with. I made this one a little differently than the others, mostly in that it involved a half-circle rather than a rectangle. The bottom-most level of feathers is the cut edge of the cape, but all of the others were cut and sewn on. I was also able to use all stash fabrics! The boy’s favorite color is green, so I was glad to find a piece of cotton that didn’t have a girly-looking print on it.

Owl cape, backAnd here’s a view of the back, as best as Donna could model it. I’m sure her shoulders are wider than a little boy’s! I left all the edges of the feathers raw, because it would have taken forever to make this otherwise, though I stitched the edges about 1/4″ away from the edge to prevent too much fraying as it gets washed and worn. I figured a little fraying would actually be ok for this one, to soften the feather edges! The rows of feathers are just zigzagged on, so I did add the lining that you can see above in order to hide that. The rows got pretty crooked in some spots! I know there’s this huge span of tan at the top, but honestly, I ran out of the green so I had to improvise!
Owl cape liningOne more detail my friend requested was some “handles” so he could use that to spread his wings. I made them pretty wide in order to accommodate growth, but it’s just two pieces of ribbon stitched on so that the feathers above it were left free (minus the hem feathers, of course.)

I sent her some pictures in progress and she was excited about how it was turning out, so I’m hoping the boy loves it! This was more of a fabric hog than I thought, too– I only have scraps left of the tan leaf print and the darker brown. So all in all, about 3.75 yards of fabric. I’ve been remiss in keeping track of the numbers on my spreadsheet lately–I still have some subtracting to do for the DragonCon projects and my TARDIS bag. So I’ll have to catch up on that soon so I can at least see how I’m doing on my Stash Diet at the end of the month!

Are you doing any Halloween costumes this year? Or are you all too busy sewing your fall and winter stuff, like I need to start doing?

the slowest of sewing

I figure I’ll have to do a few more in-progress posts for awhile, since I’m not speedy enough to whip out a winter coat in no time! Also, I’ve gotten a little sidetracked by a sewing request from a friend that I couldn’t pass up. (Because it’s costume-related and for a little kid–how could I say no?)

All I’ve managed to get done on my coat so far is to cut the outside and underline the pieces. My fabric doesn’t look like a loose weave on the table, but when you hold it up to the light, it tells a different story!

If that much light gets through, it seems reasonable that winter winds could do the same! I had a large piece of silk organza left over from making this dress, because I seriously overestimated how much I would need to underline it. I also ruined the light color of it back when I made that dress, because I threw all of the fabrics in the wash together and it turned sort of an uneven, hand-dyed-looking grey. So I didn’t want to use it as a press cloth, and I couldn’t use it for any interfacing-type roles on lighter colored fabrics. However, I did have just enough to squeeze most of the outer pieces of this coat onto it, minus the two front pieces. (They were supposed to be interfaced anyway, and overlap when the coat is buttoned, so I was ok with making an exception there.)

The grain may be wonky on a few pieces here and there, because if you’ve ever worked with silk organza, you know how it shifts. At first, I tried cutting out the pieces and then basting it onto the main coat pieces, but of course things were shifting like crazy. So since the fabric itself has a bit more grabbing power than the usual things I underline, I tried a different approach: laying the pieces directly on the organza, basting them on, and then cutting them out. The other advantage to this was that I could tweak the layout to fit as many pieces of the coat on as possible, since I was working with leftovers!

The pieces are all cut out and ready to go, including the two interfaced front pieces. I’m hoping to finish my friend’s project–an owl cape for her foster son to wear for Halloween/his early November birthday–before the weekend is over, so I can give it to her on Sunday. I do have a little sneak peek of that, aside from what I’ve been posting on Instagram here and there, because Doug got bored while I was working on this last weekend and started goofing off with my camera. I guess a good side effect of our Paris trip is he’s a lot less nervous about using it now!
So many feathers. But the good thing is that I was able to completely bust a few pieces of quilt cotton from my stash!

And a little peek at me in my sewing room. It had been awhile since I had a nice chunk of weekend time to sew, so I was a happy girl!

The feathers didn’t go quite as far when I pinned them on for real after edge-finishing, so I cut out what I hope is the last of those last night. The only work I have today is teaching a couple of lessons, so I’m hoping to get those edges done so I can finish up the sewing ASAP!

DragonCon, and what I wore!

Well, I’m back.

The trip to my very first fan convention was a ton of fun, despite the lines and sleep deprivation. I got to hang out with a friend who I’d previously only met in the real world once (hi, Faith!), I met several actors from favorite tv shows and movies, and got a couple of books signed by one of my favorite living authors. Oh, yeah, and it was basically one giant 4-day costume party, so of course I was all over that!

Several of the things I wore were me-mades that I just ran out of time to blog, so I’m sharing them now. (This will probably be a fairly picture-heavy post, so consider yourself warned.)

IMG_2517For Thursday, we decided to do a Despicable Me theme– Cassie went as Gru, and Faith and I as her minions! We even found bananas to carry! I went the cheap/lame way out for my goggles and just wore my glasses, partially because I ran out of time to make more accessories, and partially because I had to get up at 3:30 AM to make it to the airport. My me-made for this one was the yellow hoodie. I’d originally planned to take this opportunity to try out the Disparate Disciplines Avocado Hoodie. But due to time/thrift shop constraints, I decided to keep it simple and short-sleeved.  The result is a Renfrew with an Avocado hood. The “hair” on top is just basted-on scraps of black leftover from my recent dress, so I can remove that anytime.I’m actually really happy with how this quasi-hack turned out, and could definitely see more hooded Renfrews in my future! But I’d still like to try the Avocado for real at some point.

IMG_2521As for the overalls, they’re just horrendous shorts I found at the thrift store. I should be nice, since some other sewist took the time to resize the legs and turn them into shorts. (The inside seams are basically raw and obviously home-sewn, while the hem was hand-stitched.) But it ended up fitting me really oddly–almost too-tight around the thighs, with the torso and straps being too long and baggy. The original overalls were XL, which probably explains it. And if I ever do this costume again, I’d definitely try for different overalls, but  they were literally the only ones I could find that weren’t made for toddlers! I added a hand-painted patch with the Gru logo on it. You can see it a little better in this photo. And look, we found a monster minion!

IMG_2552I started Friday off with a Firefly t-shirt, but changed into my old Eowyn costume partway through the day, because one of our main activities that we all wanted to do in the evening was the Tolkien track’s “Evening in Bree” party. (Which was SO fun.) I don’t have much to say about this costume, since I’ve mentioned it here and there on the blog before–the only new addition was the blonde wig. Which did get a little snarly in the back by the end of the party, so I need to figure out how to untangle it without ripping all of that fake plastic hair out. The only other thing I’ll say is that the costumes in the contest were amazing, and I felt very out of my league. But I did have a kid come up to me at the end of the party and hand me a sketch that she’d made of my costume, which I thought was really sweet.

IMG_1565Saturday was Belle day for me, and easily the crowd favorite! I’ve talked about the blue dress and the top here recently. Since then, I added an apron made from an old bedsheet in my muslin pile, and a bow made from scraps of the blue dress. (Just a tube, stuffed with some leftover tulle from my wedding dress to keep it perky, sewn around a hair elastic with another scrap of knit.) I also carried around a basket, which I swapped with Faith, who was doing Red from Once Upon A Time that day because all she needed was a stuffed wolf, and my book didn’t fit in mine. I got lots of compliments from passers-by on how “cute” my Belle was, and several people asked to take my picture. But the two best moments were when I was getting a couple books signed by Jim Butcher, who saw me coming up and sang a line from her intro song in Beauty and the Beast (“Look there she goes, that girl is so peculiar…”), and the little girl I passed in the skybridge between hotels whose face lit up as she squealed, “Belle!” Making a kid happy made me feel rather good about my life that day.

I did have a couple people ask me where the Beast was. I told them that he was back at home, taking care of the library. (Sorry, Doug.)

IMG_2606Sadly, I didn’t make it to any Doctor Who-related activities, but Cassie, Faith and I did go around dressed as companions on Sunday. I don’t have any pictures at the moment of Cassie as Oswin/Clara, since that’s on another girl’s phone, but we ran into a couple of Weeping Angels (yikes!), so this is Faith as River Song and me as Amy Pond. This costume was super-easy– just the zipper-leg jeans from earlier in the spring, (because after all of that time sewing the skinny jeans, I saw a picture where the cropped jeans she was wearing in my chosen outfit had that detail!) and a thrifted and slightly modified plaid shirt. Also, tally marks on my arms with liquid eyeliner, because as one person I met put it, “Amy without the hashmarks is just a girl in a plaid shirt”.

This was an easy recon overall, though I guess “regeneration” would be a more appropriate term here! I shortened it to get rid of a tear, took in the sides and sleeves a bit, and cropped the sleeves to more of a 3/4″ length before sewing the cuffs back on. And since one of my costuming goals was clothes I can wear in the real world, I can quite confidently say that I will be wearing this one over the fall.

I saw so many amazing, creative costumes, and it really makes me want to step up my costuming game! Sadly, not all of my pictures are the clearest– they looked fine on my camera, but the ones from the first day or so, while I was still trying to adjust my settings, ended up slightly blurred. But I did go ahead and make a Flickr album of ones that I wasn’t just passing in the hallways and therefore couldn’t stop, and thought were funny, creative, or just plain amazing, along with the pictures I’ve already shared here. (I’ll admit there’s a disproportionate amount of Lord of the Rings-related costumes, and Disney costumes. But I have an excuse for the Disney, since I’m co-hosting the Sewcialists’ sewalong in November!) I’d definitely love to go back again sometime if circumstances/money allows, especially if I have time to do some real costuming beforehand!