Lessons from the 100 Day Project (and a project)

I finished! It really ended up being more of a 101 day project for me, as I missed one day due to getting home from a church music practice and finding the toddler still awake. My poor husband had been on bedtime duty for a couple of hours by that point, so I took over. Such is mom life. Since I didn’t end up posting about it during the process nearly as much as I initially planned, I’ll just look back now.

But first, a little project that didn’t make it on here yet!

I had a substantial amount of the coral knit left over from my recent Stasia tee, so I made a little something for my daughter. This pattern is the Chicka Chicka Bum Bum, by Peekaboo Pattern Shop. It’s a cute little pattern, with options for elastic and shorts that make it versatile. But I’ll admit that I’m partial to the little skort option, because it is so stinking cute. And quite practical, as my girl was happy to prove.

Because going down the slide a thousand times was way more important than what her skirt was doing.

It was a very quick make, too—I think something like 3 days from start to finish, which is amazingly fast in my world. In fact, it was so quick that I immediately made two more, this time a matching set in black for my daughter and my niece, who is six months younger. I probably still have enough of the coral left that I could have made that for my niece, too, but my brother likes to find black clothes for her whenever he can, so I know that one will get used.

Back to the Project. During this 100-ish day stretch, here’s everything that I did:

  • Finished the Mountain View jeans (already started)
  • Sewed the Atenas jacket, which was the most time consuming garment that I made in this timeframe
  • Sewed the Jade Skirt
  • Sewed the Stasia tee
  • Did a test run of a knit pants pattern and started one for a tee as a new pajama set (both to be blogged soon)
  • Mended pants for my husband and younger son, and my daughter’s fabric Easter basket that got attacked by a mouse before she even hit her first Easter last year
  • Made the three Chicka Chicka Bum Bums mentioned above

So, all together, I did nearly as much in this 100 days as I did in almost all of 2020. Crazy, right?

It was certainly helpful to me to think of this in terms of just needing 15 minutes a day, though there were many days that I went longer. In particular, I spent hours of my evenings trying to finish up my jeans jacket by my self imposed deadline of my birthday. Overall, though, I found it very sustainable to think of just doing a couple of seams and then moving on. This is something I’m hoping to continue.

Because I was focused on this as my “project”, though, I did notice that I wasn’t reading or scrapbooking as much. The latter in particular is something that I prefer to not get too far behind on, so I don’t forget what details I want to write on the pages. There were definitely days, once I hit the 80 day mark or so, that I felt that I’d be ok with taking a break and doing the other creative outlets that are important to me. And I think that was a valuable takeaway as well.

catching up

I have two projects to share today.

My goal for Me Made May was to focus on the making end of things, and specifically to experiment on using up some scraps and refashion bin items. In typical fashion, I overestimated how much I might be able to handle, and pulled out probably 5-6 options so I could follow my whims. And then I only sewed one thing. But I am pleased with how it turned out, and I needed an easy win.

It’s the Pony tank by Chalk and Notch, which I already made twice last year. (Though I only recently got to check the fit without the baby bump!) I made this one two-tone to use up some remnants. I’m pretty sure the black was from my nursing tank, and the coral was a piece that I snagged from my mom’s leftovers.

I didn’t have quite enough of the black to cut it as a full piece, so I pieced it together at the straps. My original plan was to make it so either side could be the front, so I cut it with the v on both sides. I also originally intended to make the black side solid, but I underestimated how much extra length I’d need to add for the extra v. And even though I pieced both that and the armholes, I didn’t even have enough left to add to that! So I recut it with the coral. Aside from the “design details”, the construction was straightforward, with the main difficulty being my usual kid-related time constraints.

Speaking of the kids, the other project was for my daughter. This is the Lucy dress, by Peekaboo Pattern Shop. It’s a simple little dress, but it took me several months to make. I added appliques from the leftover lace from my wedding dress to make it extra special, since I was planning to use this as her baptism dress, and I had to hand stitch those down. I also changed the hem to a faced one, to protect the stitching inside. Whether I can actually use it for her baptism is TBD, since my church hasn’t been able to reopen yet. And that admittedly slowed me down, just like with the chambray dress, since I was mentally struggling with that probability.

Aside from the lace, I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash, so the rest of this was part of my one fabric purchase this year. The fabric is the “Manchester” cotton from Kaufman, and it’s a lovely textured yarn- dyed shirting. I ended up buying a couple extra yards of the blue, and still have quite a bit of the minimum order yard of white left over. I’m not really sure what to do with it yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Eventually.

Since then, I’ve been slowly chipping away at a rather basic knit project. My sewjo is pretty nonexistent right now, between current events weighing on my mind, coming off another round of sudden unemployment (for my husband, the pandemic has destroyed the little bit of flute teaching that I had left), baby sleep regression, and trying to plan for the upcoming school year. (Today is my oldest son’s birthday, and I’m wondering how I already have a kindergartener!) It’s hard to not feel guilty about not sewing much, when I look in my closet and see the shelves of fabric waiting to turn into fun new projects. But I’ve been in this place of extended lack of sewing motivation before, going into my senior year of college with multiple stress factors happening at once. I think it’s safe to say this year qualifies! So it’ll come back. Eventually.

in which I make a bunch of kid stuff

Once again, I’ve fallen behind on the blogging! So I figured I’d knock out two projects at once. Really four projects, because I made one of each of them for both of my boys, but still.

IMG_6145The first project was the main gift in each of their Easter baskets this year. The “Kid City” play mat pattern from Peekaboo Patterns came out near the end of last year, and I just could not resist. Here, you can see them tucked into their Easter baskets (my mom made them the baskets, I wanted some small ones that we could reuse every year), along with a book each and an age-appropriate snack.

So what do they look like?

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Hobbit has had an increasing obsession with all things dinosaur since he was 18 months old. So of course I had to make him a dinosaur house. The inside has a batik print fabric that I thought had a prehistoric lava filled cave look to it, and I painted the fold out part with plants and a lake so his dinosaurs can drink.

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The outside is painted with shrubs and palm trees and a volcano to make a little prehistoric world.

IMG_6442It’s a little early to tell what Padawan is into, but he seems to be gravitating towards cars and trucks. So I made him a construction site house. This is what the outside looks like…

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…and I modeled the inside after the artwork in “Good Night Good Night Construction Site”, which has been a favorite book.

If I was making them again, I think I’d add a little batting over the plastic canvas to have the fabric sit over it better. It was listed on the instructions as optional, but it probably shouldn’t be. I also had to hand stitch a lot more than it called for, because there were so many different colors involved that I didn’t want obvious misses on the “stitch in the ditch” directions to close up the canvas inside. Aside from that, and just the time it took to paint, it really wasn’t hard to put together, and I could see myself using this pattern again sometime, if circumstances call for it. (Future hobbit house, maybe?) This was also a really good scrapbuster! Everything except the construction truck fabric and the red fabric for the roof of that house was already in my stash. The checked fabric for the night sky was left over from the lining of a bag I made ages ago, probably back in college. The cloud fabric was left over from my flamingo wrap skirt. The batik was some random scrap from my mom, the solid green was from the baby play gym, and I forget where the brown was from, but it was there. I didn’t entirely use up any piece of fabric, but every little bit helps.

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The other thing I made for them recently was their shirts!  This is the Ringer tee from Brindille & Twig, which is a free pattern! I got the dog print a couple of Christmasses ago, specifically to make boy clothes, and figured I should use it before the boys outgrew the single yard I had. I needn’t have worried, since I was easily able to get two entire shirts out, and still have about a third of a yard left! Here’s Hobbit being a very good model. It was really gratifying that when they woke up from the naptime that I finished sewing these during, and I told him I’d finished up his new doggie shirt, he insisted that he and his brother should wear them right away! I made him the size 3-4, since he’s currently wearing 3T in RTW.

IMG_6433 This is about the best shot I could get of my less cooperative model. He’s walking now, and will not stay still, so every single picture I took of him blurred in some way. This was one of the best ones. Anyway, Padawan is on the small side for his age, and is still pretty firmly in 9-12 month clothes, despite being close to 13 months old now. But I made him the 18 month size so he could at least wear it through the summer. It definitely has room to grow, but isn’t ridiculously huge on him.

It was a really easy pattern to sew, especially since I could construct it entirely on my serger. I did do a little bit of hand basting just to get the intersection of the side and sleeve seams to line up correctly, because it always seems to shift on my serger no matter how much I pin. That worked out well, so I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and do that on my knit projects from now on. The only issue I had was that I accidentally sewed the neck ribbing on Padawan’s shirt backwards, so that the seam is in the front, but I don’t think I’ll bother to fix it since he doesn’t seem bothered by it. The pattern goes up to size 6T, so I’ll very likely use it again. It’s a bit of a looser cut than the Ottobre pattern that I tried out, which I think they’ll probably like better. Their daddy likes his shirts oversized, and they seem to like things a little looser too. And I liked that I didn’t have to fiddle with coverstitching such a tiny sleeve opening on Padawan’s shirt in particular! I do have some of the black ribbing left over, and another yard of boy-friendly print fabric that would coordinate, so maybe I’ll tackle that one next year or something.

This probably won’t be the last of my sewing for the boys this year. I have an adorable coat pattern that I’m itching to sew up for each of them, before they get old enough to be self conscious about wearing animal coats. And Hobbit keeps asking me to make him a Tyrannosaurus Rex costume. Guess I know what I’m doing for Halloween this year…

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.

of bare necessities and sewing slumps

I’m not going to do a February wrap-up post this time, as there’s really not much to say. I did, however, recently finish a pair of nursing camisoles, with a third in the works. (Which I cannot fit over the bump, so floor modeling it is.) This is the second pattern of the nine that I specifically chose to focus on this year, the Uptown Camisole from Peekaboo Pattern Shop with the nursing add-on. The black is a rayon knit that I bought several yards of to make basic tops, and the charcoal is a long-stashed remnant left over from binding the edges of a Butterick knit dress that I made, oh, 8 or so years ago. It’s nice to have finally mostly used that up. 

Overall, the construction of this one was very straightforward, so the biggest challenge for me was using it as a way to further acquaint myself with the coverstitch machine. I did make a rather important discovery while experimenting with using it to sew on the binding, rather than turning it under 1/4″ and topstitching, which I’ve always found rather fiddly on knits.

The first attempt was a complete disaster, which resulted in my having to rip the (thankfully shorter) neckline binding piece off of both camisoles and recutting it. Mostly because, as you can see here, I ripped it full of holes. I guess that’s what I get for black thread on black fabric while sewing in a room with zero natural light at night, right? *eyeroll* I did still have to do the fold under/topstitch on one of the two after this, because I serged the new binding onto the shirt and quickly learned that it’s just too thick for my coverstitch to go through and still function well. I had much better luck with the second one, where I used the stretch stitch on my regular sewing machine to attach the binding before sewing it down.

I was also able to use the coverstitch for the hems (obviously), the elastic that holds the lower portion of the front in place, and the straps. I still have a bit of a learning curve to go on here, since the stitching on the back didn’t quite catch in several places and I did a less-than-stellar job of lining up the needle with the raw edges for the hem, despite pressing in place and measuring from the folded edge while sewing. But that’s part of what’s enjoyable about sewing, right, that there’s always something new you can learn?

Which, frankly, I need right now, because I’ve been coming to the realization that aside from the coverstitch experiments, I’m just not excited about sewing these days. Or, more precisely, I’m not excited about what I’ve been sewing. I guess it’s to be expected, given that everything I’ve made so far this year has been strictly practical, and I’ve had a run of projects at the end of last year where I was less than excited about the results for one reason or another. That, and I’m at the point of this pregnancy where I’m sick of everything I’ve been wearing, and even have a little less to pick from since it’s been mostly colder than my last third trimester. Frankly, I just want to sew something that I don’t necessarily need, just for the fun of it, that will make me feel great when I wear it. But I’m not sure what that could look like right now, given that I have somewhere around 5-6 weeks of pregnancy left, and then the whole postpartum thing where my body just isn’t going to be settled enough to really fit anything for months. I’m hoping I can have a little more success in squeezing in some activity this time, since I’ll have Hobbit to chase anyway, but still. Exercise has never been something I’ve enjoyed, so it’s hard to motivate myself to do it. I also still have a few necessities that need to be taken care of, mostly hemming the nursery curtains and some badly needed nursing bras.

Have you ever been in this kind of sewing slump? Any suggestions for a fun project that might help, given my constraints? Or should I just take a break for some knitting or something?

Sewing for Boys: a birthday shirt for Hobbit

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

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

 

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

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

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

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