I’m never wearing a bikini bottom again

IMG_7006Because I have shorts!

Seriously, this is really exciting for me. I have a lifelong hatred of swimsuit shopping, and the biggest reason is that the bottoms never quite matched my coverage comfort level. I’ve always felt that I had to get the boy cut to cover my entire backside, because the thought of my cheeks hanging out does not make for a relaxing beach day, but still wasn’t happy with the thigh coverage or how wide they make my hips look. So I’ve spent a lot of beach time in my life wearing my (often jeans) shorts over my suit, which was much more mentally comfortable for me than physically comfortable. I’m also super picky about the top. I generally like tankinis, because I get the coverage of a one piece without having to fully strip every time I need to use the toilet, but it’s hard to find those with bottoms that I’m happy with.

I knew a swimsuit would have to be attempted this year. I just didn’t have one that fit anymore, except for a hand me down, unsupportive one piece that was frankly embarrassing to wear. When I saw that Jalie has a shorts pattern with a built in swim bottom, it sounded like a dream come true!

So I bought the pattern, along with a one piece that looked a little more interesting and supportive than their tankini top. And the rash guard top, because I am descended from all of the palest people on earth and I’m tired of always missing a spot somewhere on my back or shoulders and getting burned! (I’ll be honest, I was seriously tempted to just use that as the top, because I will never wear just the tankini top outside now, but I wasn’t sure how to build the necessary bust support into that.) And a few pieces of swim knit from Cali Fabrics. I was hoping for an SPF fabric, but couldn’t find anything in colors and prints that I liked, and this blue and green abstract print was singing like a Siren. Of course I couldn’t resist.

IMG_7007The shorts came together pretty easily, especially for a first attempt at swimwear. The hardest parts were wrestling the elastic into something resembling submission, and that I still haven’t quite worked out tensioning on my coverstitch machine. But I think the finished results look good, at least when it’s on. (Thankfully, you can’t see the elastic stitching on the built in briefs, because that is a mess. My elastic technique needs practice.) The waistband construction is pretty clever, and it has pockets! I never want a normal swimsuit bottom again.

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The top is ok. Hacking it into a tankini top was easy, all I did was cut it off right at the leg hole. I like the twist front, but wish the cups were better. The swim cups I was able to find (from Joann’s) are a bit unnatural in shape, at least for me, and I honestly couldn’t figure out how to sew them in with good placement and the very open mesh I was able to find to line things. I’m telling myself that since they’re still removable, that will help with washing. But I do think that whenever I need a new swimsuit, which hopefully won’t be for awhile, I’ll look for a different top pattern. Like one with cup instructions. And maybe more bust support.

The other two changes I made to this were to hand stitch the twist so it would stay in place, since it kept slipping below the seam it was meant to cover, and to cross the straps in the back. I had the length, and figured it might help with support.

IMG_20180613_223737I did a little hacking on the rash guard, too. My main reason was that the zippers were all too long or too short. Every time I’ve tried pulling plastic teeth off, the edge is a frayed mess, so I decided to go with shorter and change the neckline to compensate. In retrospect, that was probably the best move anyway, because I’ve never liked clothes that are too tight around my neck. The turtlenecks I sometimes had to wear as a kid were torture. So I basically shortened the neckband, drew a sort of curvy V neck down to meet the zipper, and topstitched around the whole thing with the coverstitch machine. (See that whole triangle of the wrong side of the fabric? That’s all filled in on the original pattern.) I initially had a lot of trouble with the zipper installation, since the fabric was soooo stretchy, but a little piece of this roll of interfacing-like stuff that I found in my cart of sewing essentials made it sew in like a dream after that.

IMG_7013As for the fabric, I was very happy working with the print, as it had just enough texture to keep it from sliding all over the place. The solid black does have a shinier finish, and was a lot more slippery. I also used some meshy stuff for the lining bits, but severely overestimated how much I needed since I was basing my estimate on a fully lined one piece! So I’m not sure what to do with nearly 2 yards of beige powernet… I guess I’m set for life if I ever want to make skintone bras. Sigh.

Aside from the top, if I were making this again, I think I’d loosen the elastic around the internal briefs just a bit. And buy as little of the mesh as I could have. But aside from that, I’m overall pleased. I made this without any size alterations (using size Y). It’s a little whiskery in the shorts, but since they’re just meant to get wet and that will probably straighten it out anyway, I’m not going to sweat it. I did test this out yesterday for an Independence Day gathering at my in-laws’, who have a pool. It didn’t fall apart (yay!), the shorts didn’t do a lot of irritating riding up like the boy cut bottoms I had before often would, and I did successfully avoid sunburn (except for one teeny bit I missed near my scalp. Arrrrgh. #palepeopleproblems)!

IMG_7017 I can actually see myself getting some extra use out of the shorts and rash guard patterns, to be honest. The shorts could easily be used for workout shorts/bum around the house shorts, if I’m ever so inclined to make those, with the brief left out. (The pattern does actually suggest that, as tennis shorts.) And if I could find an appropriate fabric, the top could work out very well for hiking, I think! Which is something I’m trying to get back into, as much as I can with the age and listening abilities of the boys.

 

back in black (with quasi-tutorial)

Black AppletonSo…hi! This dress has actually been done for awhile– I finished it in late April. It just took me forever to actually be able to set up the tripod and get a few pictures of it. Definitely not the best, since my camera insisted on using the flash since I was inside, but it’s better than nothing, right?

This is my second version of the Cashmerette Appleton dress, and I made a few modifications this time to work out some of the issues that I had with my first one. So here’s what I did:

    • Since chopping a couple of inches off the underlap left me feeling rather insecure about how much of me would stay covered if a strong breeze came up, I actually left that portion untrimmed. So both sides are the same width, and I feel so much better for it.
    • I added some flare to the skirt, to make it more A-line than straight. I was very happy with how this turned out, and will be keeping both of these modifications for any future versions I may make.

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  • The big change was the sleeve! I’d originally plotted this as a piece for the “Sew Hot Right Now” challenge at The Monthly Stitch back in March, going for the cold shoulder trend in what I thought would be a more everyday wearable way. But, of course, I barely even got it started before the month was over. #becausehobbit

So then my goal was just to finish it before the beginning of May, so I could wear it to a concert. (I got gifted two tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra, on May the 4th, to a concert full of John Williams music where he was actually conducting the last several pieces. Best. Star Wars Day. EVER.) I succeeded in that, at least!

Anyway, here’s how I did the sleeve. Sorry it’s not a full out tutorial. I thought about making a top and doing the sleeve like that again so I could do step by step photography, but considering I’ve been sewing the same fairly basic project for this entire month, I figured that my chances of actually finishing that this year were not looking so good. (Maybe I should have named this blog Sew Lento…)

Appleton sleeve hack 2 The bottom is my original sleeve, albeit the long-sleeved version. For this version, I traced off the short sleeve, split it in half, and added seam allowances to it (between the two middle red lines) so I could finish the edges well. I also did a little slash and spread pivot action on both halves of the sleeve, adding about 1″ in between at the bottom.

Appleton sleeve hack 3 For the band, I wanted it gathered in to fit my arm. I was lazy about it and just used the band from the short sleeved version of my trusty Renfrew tee. But if you wanted to try this modification and don’t have that pattern, it was about a difference of 5 1/2″ between the length of the band and the length of the lower edge of the sleeve, including those seam allowances.

And here’s a closeup of the sleeve. Appleton sleeve hack 1

For sewing it, I finished the edges on the long middle edges of each sleeve half, sewed them flat into the sleeveheads so that the finished edges met in the middle, sewed the underarm and side seams together, and then sewed the hem band on in the round, just like I normally would with the Renfrew sleeve to finish it nice and clean. I have this thing about solid colors, and black in particular, where I need it to have some cool detail or I just get bored. (Throwback to my college music major days where I was wearing black all the time, and always on the lookout for interesting sleeves.) So I’m really glad that this matched up with what I envisioned in my head!

I’ll leave you with an outtake– not the best angle on the sleeves, but this photobombing cutie was just irresistible!IMG_3795

 

 

 

 

UFO sighting

Once upon a time, I used to binge cut fabric for upcoming projects. Cutting out isn’t my favorite part of the process. Something about the permanence of it freaks me out a little, especially if it’s fabric I really like. So I’d cut out two or three things at a time, sew them all up, and then repeat. I don’t do that so much these days, mostly due to not having those big blocks of time. But in this case, that habit resulted in something relatively rare in my sewing world: an unfinished project.

Deer & Doe Plantain Raglan hackIn this case, I never made it past the cutting and marking stage. I realized that I cut part of the front wrong, and set it aside to figure that one out. And then I lost interest in the pattern altogether. So this made it the perfect (and only) clothing candidate for both The Monthly Stitch’s UFO theme, and the Stashbusting Sewalong’s scrapbusting theme. After all, those pieces were mostly pretty small.

The original pattern was something Vogue. I don’t remember the number. It was a fitted enough top that I didn’t think it would fit my post-baby body in the size that was cut out, so I threw it away.  I do still love this print, though. I mean, turquoise, teal and purple? That is right in my ocean colored wheelhouse. The largest pieces were the raglan sleeves, and size-wise, they matched up pretty closely with the Deer & Doe Plantain tee. So I decided to give hacking that pattern into a raglan a go. IMG_3584

Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out! I had a smallish piece of teal rayon jersey (oddly, left over from my other Plantain tee), which I used to fill in the main part of the body. I did decide to break up the front some so I could feature the print more, and trying to accommodate that did make things a little less symmetrical than I’d probably like. But I do think this is definitely one of my most successful pattern hacks yet!

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If I were to further alter this version, just for my future reference, I do think I’d change a few things:

  • The sleeve should probably extend a little more into the back. This was just all I had to work with.
  • A little more width at the bottom probably wouldn’t hurt, if it was long sleeved. Fortunately, my wrists are skinny enough to accommodate the overall lack of give in this cotton jersey.
  • I guess I should probably consider starting to add a swayback adjustment to my knits, yeah?

IMG_3566I did finish this on the 25th, just in time to wear it on my birthday. So it still counts towards participating in both themes, I think! And I do still have enough scraps left that I think I can try to squeeze a lingerie experiment out, finally. I even printed some Seamwork patterns off to do so, but then I discovered that it printed too small. So I’ll need to retrace those. Which means I’m probably going to push that off for another month or so while I try to knock out some seasonal transitional clothing… oh, look, another UFO!

And, yeah, I know these aren’t fitting well with my attempts to follow along with the Better Pictures Project. Stupid portrait mode, insisting on flash. But this was the best I could do while leaving Hobbit fenced in on the floor, with a dog who was very insistent on helping, and stuck inside to supervise them both (along with the not-pictured goldie.)

Top 5 of 2015: Goals

#sewingtop5 - The Top 5 of 2015!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
I like to use this category to see how I did with the goals I set for the current year, as well as to set some goals for the next. So let’s pull out the scorecard!

1. Finish a capsule wardrobe that will get me through the first half of the year.
This was specifically related to my maternity wardrobe. Overall, I think this was a success. The only thing I really wished I had at the end was shorts, since I was past due and it suddenly got hot (as is typical around here) and rolling up the bottom of my jeans just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Mental note to self if I’m ever pregnant during the summer again, I guess.

2. On a related note, I need to work on my pattern hacking skills…If I can figure out how to do a couple of other things that will be good for both pregnancy and nursing, great.

Hacked projects include both of my maxi dresses, the tie dyed skirt, and the Manila leggings fail. I definitely have a long way to go in successfully altering my patterns, but these mostly did what they were supposed to. (At least for the maternity/nursing part.) So I’ll count it as a win.

3. Get as much sewing for “Hobbit” (what I’ve been calling the baby while we don’t know the gender) done as possible, before June.

I think I did pretty well with this one! I do have to make a fourth batch of diapers soon in size L, because he’s pretty big for his age and there is absolutely no way I’ll make it to potty training age with medium diapers like the pattern suggested. He’s still in S, but on the largest snap setting. So I’m almost positive he’ll be in M before the winter is over. Aside from that, I think I’m good on practical baby gear and can just mostly focus on clothes and toys when making stuff for him next year. Yay!

4. I might as well work on things like finishing techniques and getting my serger tension right.

Thanks to a conversation on Instagram, and mostly thanks to Brooke, I learned that my tension is actually fine! I guess I’m comparing it to my RTW, and their machines are fancier. I do plan to continue trying to work on hems and other visible stitching, since my older machine doesn’t have a stretch stitch other than zig zag. It’s usually a lot of trial and error to get a line that looks fairly straight and still has the give that I need.

5. I think probably the biggest goal for after Hobbit comes will be finding time to make things!

This one has admittedly been a challenge, since Hobbit naps best/longest when someone is holding him, and crib naps often don’t last very long at all. There’s been several days where I’ve resorted to heading to my parents’ early to drop him off for babysitting while I teach my music lessons, and having my mom hold him while I cut something out or sew a few seams. Recently, he has started to sometimes take better naps in his crib, so we’re making progress. And I just counted up, and it looks like I’ve finished about 12 projects since. So that’s not too shabby! (I haven’t showed the last one yet, since it’s one of his Christmas presents.)

Moving on… here’s my top 5 goals for 2016.

Button-downs1. Shirtmaking. I have 4 buttondown patterns I’ve been itching to try, but didn’t quite get to this year. Since my overall plan for now is to focus on clothes with a more forgiving fit, at least until we’re done having kids, nursing-friendly is still a bonus! I do like buttondown shirts, and have missed most of the ones I have. (They don’t fit my nursing-sized bust. Ahem.) I’m not scared of buttonholes or anything, I’ve been making those since I was a kid. But 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 are the Grainline Archer, the Sewaholic Granville (not pictured, because my room is a disaster and I’m not entirely sure where it is right now), 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. Deep stash2. Use up some deep stash. I definitely have things that have been sitting around for a decade or more, like these three pieces here. So it’s time to start chopping, dyeing, wearable muslining, whatever I need to do to get these fabrics out of the stash and into my closet. I want to be able to occasionally select a new piece of fabric without the guilt!

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!

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.)

The point is, I need to keep those three pairs of jeans for teaching days and social events, and therefore need loungewear for the other days. I just don’t know what, since I’m not comfortable in leggings paired with anything shorter than a dress, and sweatpants make me feel sloppy in a bad way. Any suggestions, other than the True Bias Hudson pants? (Nothing against them. They just remind me too much of sweatpants I wore in the 80s, and that’s my least favorite fashion decade ever.) Or should I just make some tunic-length tops in hopes that I’ll feel ok in leggings?

Mini-capsule possibility5. More mini-capsules! Either sewing more complete outfits, or new pieces to style with things already in my closet. This combination may be the first one I tackle. I’m not sure how I didn’t notice sooner that they go great together, but I do have an idea for this pairing. Assuming the kind of loose sweater knit works with the top I have in mind.

I have two bonus goals that are relevant, but not sewing.

The first is that I’d like to do a bit more knitting this time. I only finished three small projects this year, and haven’t even woven in the ends on two of those yet! (Probably due to spending most of my couch-bound pregnant time sewing quiet books!) 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!

The second is a closet purge. I did one shortly after Hobbit was born, in which I got rid of all of my woven dresses except for one, any shirts that were too short now, and all of the shorts and jeans that I used to wear at my garden center job. 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.

I’m going to try to do one more post before the end of the year, mostly for an update on how I did with the Stashbusting Sewalong. I can’t do that yet, since I still need to measure out the recently acquired yardage, and odds are pretty good I’ll get more fabric for Christmas. Until then, merry Christmas to all!

dressed to the max(i)

Maternity/nursing maxi-dressThat’s right, I finished another maxi-dress! No camouflage baby bump for this one. It kind of looks like I just have no waist at all. (I guess I don’t right now, really.) Honestly, I don’t really feel like there’s a whole lot to say about construction, since this is the third time I’ve used the Tiramisu bodice and the exact same skirt modification that I made on my last dress. And I already detailed the nursing-friendly alteration in my last post. Really, the biggest issue I had with putting this one together was my iron–it had been acting up for awhile, and I finally hit the last straw with it while trying to press the skirt seams the other day. After all, an iron that keeps turning off while you’re actually pressing with it at the moment, and then taking forever to turn back on (and usually some unplugging and replugging–really annoying when the power strip is on the floor and you’re 7 months pregnant!) So I ordered a new iron. Hopefully this one will hold up better, since the one I’d been using lasted me less than 2 years. It’s supposed to arrive today, and none too soon, because it really shouldn’t take me half an hour to press a hem because I have to keep waiting for the iron to turn on!

side viewIsn’t this print fun? It’s one of the pieces I treated myself to when I visited Mood in NYC a little over a year ago. I’d gotten 3 yards with a maxi-dress vaguely in mind, though I certainly wasn’t expecting that it would have to be a baby bump-friendly one at the time! But I do expect that I’ll be wearing this one a lot over the coming summer. Even though the two patterns didn’t quite come together as smoothly as I’d hoped. The back seems pretty loose to me in comparison with the black dress, and it is so tempting to try to take it in around the empire waist a little. Or fake in a back seam with the serger. Or something. I have to keep reminding myself that I still have the rest of this pregnancy/the belly only getting bigger to go, I have no idea what’s going to be up with my bust size after that, and it would be better not to over-fit. I can always try to take it in a little later if needed, though it might be nice to have a looser dress when the Mid-Atlantic summer humidity kicks in. (I did tweak the sleeve/underarm area, though.)

front viewThis will probably be the last garment that I make for myself until after Hobbit arrives, to be honest. I’ve got less than 8 weeks to go before my due date now (yiiiikes), so despite the fact that I have nearly no pants that both fit and are weather-appropriate, it seems a little pointless to take the time to sew any more maternity-type clothes. I am starting to think ahead to just straight-up nursing-friendly, or things that will work with another period of my figure changing around on me, and I do have some patterns in mind for when I’m feeling up to trying to sneak in sewing time post-baby. Is it weird that after so much time sewing knit garments over the last several months, I’m really starting to get the itch to dig into my wovens stash? But since that has to wait until I have a better idea of what size to sew, any projects that show up here over the next several weeks will probably just be a big babypalooza. I know that’s not the most interesting thing for a lot of people, but honestly, this blog is pretty much just my personal craft journal anyway, and this is the stuff I need to be making right now. So, sorry not sorry, I guess?

On a slightly related note, I’ve decided that I’m going to be sitting out of Me-Made-May this year, though I will happily follow along with what others are doing! Honestly, pretty much everything I’ve made that fits right now and works for the season has already been shown on here in the last couple of months, I really only have enough of that to do about one outfit a week, and there’s other things I need to prioritize over stressing about outfits and taking pictures. Like continuing to stuff the freezer with as much pre-prepped food as possible, the mental list of baby sewing projects that I’d still like to finish in advance, and getting some music together for a couple of my flute students to work on while I’m out of commission for teaching. Not to mention that by the end of May, I’ll be in the range of “could potentially pop any time”. Hopefully I won’t go that early, especially since a couple of my students are participating in a recital two weeks before my due date, and I’d like to be there to support them. Plus, the only date that worked for everyone involved in planning my baby shower is the last Saturday of the month, and I’d really like to not miss that due to being in labor!

I also have to admit that I’m going to be a little sorry when the Small Human Being Sewalong wraps up at the end of this month. It’s been fun getting to know a couple of new-to-me bloggers, and helpful to follow along with the discussions of what ends up being useful vs. not/how to find sewing time after baby, and so on. But I’m super-close to finishing another project for that, and may be able to knock out at least one more. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy this dress and all the pretty, swirly blues.

Tutorial: Nursing dress adaptation with an invisible zipper

I was so pleased with how my last maternity/nursing maxi-dress turned out that I decided to make a second one. This time, I made a tutorial for how I did the zipper part, in case it helps any sewists who may be expecting in the future!

SuppliesYou’ll need:

  • A knit dress pattern with a seam under the bust. I’m also intending to wear this during the remainder of my third trimester, so I’m using the top of the Cake Tiramisu dress with the midriff band and skirt of the out-of-print Simplicity 3678, since I already adapted that skirt pattern both for extra belly room and a maxi length. But if you’re making this just to wear for nursing and have an idea of what size to do the waistband, the Tiramisu or Red Velvet dress would be a great option as is.
  • An invisible zipper that’s long enough to fit across your ribs from one side seam to the other. (A few extra inches probably won’t hurt. Mine was a 22″ length, and I ended up chopping off somewhere around 2″ at the end.)
  • Clear elastic
  • I used both an invisible zipper foot and a regular zipper foot to do this portion of the construction. 

Before beginning the zipper (these three steps were completed before I started taking pictures, and you can see the results in the first picture):

1. Sew the bodice pieces, including side seams. Depending on the pattern you choose, you may need to alter the order of construction. (Normally, the sleeve and side seams of the Tiramisu are sewn all at once after the front and back of the dress are constructed flat, but I went ahead and finished the sleeves/sewed the side seams together before taking this picture, since constructing the side seams around the zipper would be much more difficult than the other way around. It may take a little more effort to get the side seams to match up between pieces this way. For my current fitting needs, the big advantage to this was that I was able to put on the mostly-finished bodice and adjust the gathering and the overlap of the neckline to the larger bust size that I’m currently working with.Which meant that I was able to use my already-sized pattern from before I was pregnant as-is.)

2. Sew the midriff/waistband pieces together at the sides, or skirt pieces if your pattern does not have an extra band. Depending on the length of your dress, you might be able to do the waist and skirt pieces together. I’m only working with the midriff band for mine, since I’m doing a long skirt and don’t want the weight of it to distort things as I sew. (Plus it’s a lot easier to take pictures that way!)

3. Finish the lower edge of the bodice and the top edge of the waistband/skirt. I know knits don’t unravel, but it does add some stability to the edge. And since we’re working with stretchy fabric and a non-stretchy zipper, that is never a bad thing.

To add the zipper:

Front bodice w/ zipper1. Sew one long side of the zipper across the bottom of the bodice, as you normally would for the right side of a vertically-inserted invisible zipper. I started the teeth at the side seam on the left side, because I’m right-handed, but you could easily flip this around if you’re left-handed. I also brought some of the extra length past the right side seam and into the back, just to give myself a little more give for opening. I probably could have done this for the left seam as well to make the whole thing more centered, but I really don’t want to have to be reaching behind me with one hand while trying to wrangle a squirming baby with the other! Better to leave the zipper pull where I can more easily see it.

Front waistband w/ zipper2. Baste the other side of the zipper onto the waistband, being careful to align the top edge of the teeth with the correct side seam. Close the zipper, check to make sure both seams are lining up on either side of the zipper, and adjust if necessary. Once you’re satisfied with how the sides are lining up, stitch over the basting line. When opened, the two pieces will look kind of like this.

Back bodice/waistband3. Sew the back of the bodice and the back of the waistband together. I added clear elastic here, both to help support the weight of the maxi-skirt and to allow it to bounce back if I need to stretch the dress to get it on over my chest later. (I had to do two rows of stitching here–to get the seam closed as much as possible, I used my zipper foot on a longer stitch length. But my machine doesn’t have a stretch stitch, and I can’t zig-zag with my zipper foot, so I added a second row of a narrow zig-zag close by, just in case some of the straight stitches pop. I know it looks a little ripply when it’s flat on the table, but the other dress is like that too, and it’s not really noticeable when wearing.)

4. Shorten zipper if necessary, and press back seams up towards bodice.

5. Continue on with the dress from here– I still need to add the skirt pieces and hem it, but that’s it!

Zipper when closedWhen the zipper is closed, it looks like a normal seam, except for that pull tab…

Zipper when opened

…and then once you open it, easy breastfeeding access without having to stretch out your neckline!

Hopefully that was clear enough–let me know if I need to clarify anything! And for those of you who are moms that sew, I’d love to hear if you have any other nursing hacks you like to add into your clothes.

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.

    black is the new red

    A little bit of selfish sewing in the midst of baby-sewing craziness! As it happens, I finished this dress just in time for my birthday tomorrow. But I won’t be wearing it, because there’s a chance of snow and it’s only supposed to get up to 33 degrees, tops. That’s .5 degrees for you Celsius folks, and I don’t know how you live with that temperature scale, because that sounds even worse! And this isn’t the sort of dress that would work well with close-toed shoes. February birthdays can suck like that.

    IMG_2327Anyway. This is Simplicity 3678, now out of print, which I’ve actually made once before. I’m laughing because in the original post, I did specifically mention possibly revisiting it if I ever needed a maternity dress, because of all of the gathering that I needed to remove to avoid the preggo look! I’d kind of forgotten I’d said that, actually. I guess it’s a good thing I never threw the pattern away. The funny thing is, at least in this picture, I seem to look pretty normal from the front, right?

    Maternity maxi-dress
    Nope. Definitely a maternity dress. (I’m at 24 1/2 weeks now.)

    Aside from lengthening and slightly flaring the skirt, since I really wanted a maxi-dress, here’s the adjustments I made:

  • In some ways, I followed the instructions more closely than the first time. In the original dress, I stitched the pleats down into more of a pintuck, because it was kind of ballooning out funny. For this version, I figured I’ll need the extra room and left those as pleats. I also sewed the facing more as it called for, though with a double row of stitching to try and give it a little more of an RTW look. (I wish I knew why my machine is occasionally skipping stitches for that, since I am doing a slight zigzag on a longer stitch length with a ballpoint jersey needle, just like I’m supposed to be! Any thoughts? My machine doesn’t have that lightning bolt stretch stitch.)
  • I added a little more gathering in the front to accommodate the bump. Probably somewhere close to 2″–honestly, all I did was go out from the center front fold to the still uncut edge of the original pattern tissue.
  • I still had to cut the back in two pieces, which I apparently had to do the first time, too. With all of that extra skirt length, I was barely able to get the pieces to fit! I actually also had to cut the midriff pieces perpendicular to what it called for as well–but after the recent leggings disaster, I made sure the stretch would work for that before I cut it this time. 
    1. IMG_2322
    • Doesn’t look so V-neck now, does it? While that also would have been nursing friendly, my size has already changed enough that this would have been very mentally uncomfortable for me to wear in public. (Seriously–while I know there’s a good reason for it, I’m actually kind of embarrassed at the size bra I had to buy recently!) So I improvised a bit of a faux camisole front for it, and even inserted some elastic in the casing that the stitching made to help hold things in place. It’s not quite as snug as I would have hoped, but it should do the job. 
      • For the bodice/midriff, I did slim down the seam allowances on the side slightly– 1/2″ instead of 5/8″– just to give me a little extra room, since I’m not sure how things will go in the third trimester or if my ribcage will expand or anything like that.
          Nursing adaptation

        • To make this nursing-friendlier so I can wear this for more than just the spring, I took a suggestion from Joanne and added an invisible zipper in the front of the dress! It’s sitting right at the top of the waistband, which I’m hoping will also stabilize the weight of the longer skirt. (I also sewed some clear elastic in the back to help with that as well.) Because of that, I did somewhat have to change the order of the directions, as in sewing the side seams for the bodice/midriff separately instead of all at once. But again, I took a cue from the leggings issues and made sure to baste things first so the seams had a better chance of lining up. Overall, I’m very happy with how this modification worked, and will possibly be doing it again, since I’m hoping to make a second maxi-dress before Hobbit comes. It’s just a case of deciding whether to stick with this pattern, since I already did the hacking, or to play around with modifying last summer’s Tiramisu hack. If I do the latter, I may not need to add extra access points, since that one works better on me as a V-neck.

          It’ll be good to have something new to look forward to, if it ever warms up around here. If I’ve learned one lesson from the last month or so of trying to cobble together outfits, it’s that I’m just not a wardrobe minimalist. I admire those people that can fully commit to the Wardrobe Architect-type thing of paring down her closet to a set of core outfit components that they can mix and match and accessorize to their heart’s content. But frankly, I like having more options, and I’ve definitely been missing having more prints in my life, even if they don’t necessarily go with everything! (I say as I show off a solid black dress, right?)

          IMG_2332Oh, and the title? I’m still trying to play around with keeping up with some of the monthly themes/challenges for the Stashbusting Sewalong and The Monthly Stitch as I can. I can use this for the latter, since it’s a solid color, but the only color specified in this month’s Stashbusting theme was red, which I hardly ever wear or even buy. But Malkin was kind enough to sport a little red on his collar while photobombing me, so that has to count for something. Right?

          fabric fail

          Not my best project ever.I was so excited for this project. So to say I’m a little disappointed in the outcome is an understatement. But, since I believe that the fails should be documented along with the victories–mostly so I don’t make the same mistake again later–I’m going to share the sad story of these leggings anyway. Slippers, ridiculously lightened photos since it was the only way I could show the seams, and all.

          (Hey, from this angle, I don’t look pregnant at all! Anyway.)

          The pattern is the Manila leggings, from the current month’s issue of Seamwork magazine. (Doug bought me a year’s pattern subscription for Christmas, which made me very happy since the whole point is quick projects, and I’m going to need those in the coming months!) I had one pair of maternity leggings, which I’ve been wearing instead of tights under the few skirts I have that fit. So I was quite happy to see this pattern and give the leggings-making thing a try, given that I just wasn’t in the mood to play connect-the-dots on my Espresso pattern to try and get a fit when I wasn’t sure what standard to use for the waist/I’d have to modify it anyway. The pattern itself is pretty simple: front piece, back piece, cute petal-like cuffs for the ankles, waistband, done. I knew I’d be altering the top to add a panel for the growing belly, but aside from that, I thought this would be a quick, straightforward make.

          But I made two mistakes right away:

          1. I didn’t realize that my chosen fabric–a cool denim-looking knit that I got on sale at Mood when I was making my last online purchase there–didn’t have enough stretch to work for something like this. Honestly, why would you make a knit that stretches more cross-wise, when basically every single pattern ever made would have you cutting so it stretches horizontally? Especially for something that’s pretty much screaming to be some kind of bottomwear. But still. I should have checked this more closely.
          2. I also didn’t realize that, even though there is a full-length view shown in the pictures, the only view included in the pattern was the cropped version. Leggings that only come down to my upper calves are absolutely useless for anything but exercise wear. Especially this time of year.

          IMG_2310The result? Yeah, not quite so chic as I hoped. It took so much hacking to even get these to the point where I could pull them on all the way! (And sorry for the weird looking-down pictures– I just couldn’t get the seaming to show up well enough in the others.)

          IMG_2311What I probably should have done with the legs was add the extra length around the knees first, and then add the extra width so the stripe would be unbroken. But I did still have hopes that once I managed to get the leggings all the way around my calves, the cuffs would add enough extra length that I could get by with my boots. Didn’t happen. Neither did seam-matching, despite multiple efforts and a lot of seam ripping.  Ugh. It honestly got to the point where I was so fed up with them, that I didn’t even bother with the cute cuffs (which I wasn’t sure would stretch around my legs all the way anyway, given the way things were going) and just cut a strip to give them a sweatpants-like finish.

          I was hoping that this would give me another color option to wear with skirts, though I’m not sure why, since the only skirts I have are black, denim, or that long teal one that would hide them anyway. (I’m generally of the school of thought that leggings are not pants, the fabric on my store-bought pair is way too thin for that, but for the sake of these photos, I’m wearing them as such. The things I do for the blog.) I’m not going to say they’re a wadder yet, since I can wear them on days I don’t have to leave the house, like today, and save my jeans for the days I do, but they’re definitely not a project I’m proud of.

          IMG_2309On the plus side, the maternity panel alteration seemed to work great. Especially once I went back and cut a new panel on the cross-grain so it would actually stretch. (Yes, I know it’s not really a cross grain for knits.) It does make me feel a little better to know that, at least in this, my pattern hacking skills are beginning to improve.

          I do have a decent-sized remnant of this left, which I think is probably just enough for some kind of babywear or undies, though I wouldn’t even try the latter until things are back to more of a normal state. I.e. I’m not being told to put on a pound a week. But essentially, this takes 2 yards out of the stash, for a total of 6.25 yards out so far this year.

          Speaking of kid stuff– we had our ultrasound on Monday, and I know the gender now! So I cut out a simple baby outfit last night, am hoping to get it all sewn up today, and my next post should be me telling you all what we’re having. Just warning you now, because this very well could be a double-post day.

          One last, unrelated, administrative-type detail– I’ve turned my Instagram into a private account, since it’s at the point where more kid-type stuff will be going up and I don’t want just anyone on the internet to be able to find it. I have still been posting a lot of crafty stuff on there, so if you are a friendly sewcialist (seriously, what other kind is there?) and want to follow, don’t be afraid to send a request! My screenname there is different than my blog/Twitter handle, but I do have a link to the profile on the sidebar.

          ooh, sparkly.

          First of all, thanks for the advice offered on my last post! You gave me some great ideas for what to avoid (my entire wovens stash, I’m looking at you), and there were also some rather brilliant thoughts on how to make some of my ideas more nursing-friendly, and therefore able to be worn longer. Yay!

          Today, I actually have two finished projects to show! Late last year and after I already knew about the pregnancy, I got lured into buying a couple of knits at Joann’s while there for an unrelated shopping trip, because I knew that the bulk of my knits stash were solid colors and I was craving some printed goodies. Also, look how sparkly they are! My original intent was to get these done in time to wear for Christmas, but due to all the sickness issues, that obviously didn’t happen. So I decided to get these sewn up quickly. I need some color in my extremely pared-down winter wardrobe anyway.

          McCall's 6084The cardigan is McCall’s 6084, and the top is Simplicity 2852. For the cardigan, I didn’t really change much of anything, other than add a little length to the sleeves to accommodate my monkey arms. I do that pretty much automatically for long-sleeved things now, but in this case, it looks like I actually didn’t need to! So I just gave it a bit of a wider hem on the sleeves than it called for.

          The pattern claimed it could be made up in an hour. It took me a little longer than that. For one thing, this knit was really awful about clinging to itself, so it took me awhile to smooth it out enough that I could cut the pieces well! I did construct it completely in one sitting, and it especially helped that I was able to skip a couple of awkward-looking steps due to having a serger. But then I let it hang overnight so the hem could settle a bit before finishing that.

          Simplicity 2852The top is one that I actually have made before, though I did view E for that one. That’s actually one of the shirts I already had that I’ve been continuing to wear anyway, and so far, it’s worked. I do think that I’ll have to toss that shirt at the end of this cold season, though, because the fabric is getting horribly pilled. Especially now that I’m wearing it at least once a week! I honestly didn’t think this view was one I’d ever sew, especially because I hated that bubble hem trend! The gathered front made it look like it would give me some room to grow, though.

          I made the sleeveless view so I could wear this into the warmer weather. I even already had another cardigan that coordinates! I did make a couple of changes to the pattern to maternify it even further–besides leaving out the hem elastic, because ugh, I added 2″ width to the center front and 2″ to the hem. I like this a little longer, actually–if I was the type who wore leggings as pants, this would actually work! I think I’ll stick to wearing it with things that cover my lower half a little better, though.

          Honestly, if I wore it with a belt to cinch it in, this top does have some non-maternity potential as well, I think. We’ll see whenever I get a waistline back. (Actually, now that I’m looking at this picture, it probably needs a belt somewhere anyway, doesn’t it? It really is kind of a sack. A sparkly sack in a fun print and a color scheme I love, but a sack nonetheless.) In the meantime, I had nothing but scraps left over from both of these pieces, so at least they didn’t live in the stash long! Between the two pieces, that’s 4.25 yards down.

          IMG_2288The belt really highlights that the bump doesn’t want to hide anymore, doesn’t it? I have to keep reminding myself that it’s ok to not suck my stomach in for pictures! The more exciting thing is that we have the ultrasound scheduled for next week, so hopefully we’ll be finding out if the baby is a boy or a girl soon!

          I think I also need to work on the camera setup–Doug’s been working hard to get the former office/library ready to turn into a nursery, so all the furniture there has been cleared out and the room is repainted. So these pictures are in the sewing-now-slash-computer room. (At least I still have one!) But I think I’ll have to experiment with where to put the tripod so I don’t look like such a giant next to the door. I already feel like I look big enough!