the post-baby wardrobe blues

Warning: slightly ranting, rather candid post ahead. This was originally going to be a post about a shirt that I finished about a month ago, though I just got around to photographing it this past weekend. Though, really, I don’t know what to say about it, because once again, the results just aren’t what I wanted them to be.

IMG_5143

The concept was good. I took my Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, and the concept from a nursing top that Heather kindly sent me back during my first pregnancy, to attempt to make a boring, basic black tee. Because I somehow didn’t have one, and given my love for bold print skirts, this was a serious hole in my wardrobe. So I used the front band and the instructions from my Peekaboo Patterns nursing camisoles as a guideline. As you can see, it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped.

I know exactly why. It was a combination of the pattern size being wrong (measuring for my nursing chest size is failing me at every turn lately) and the rayon knit being too drapey to have what turns out to be the necessary recovery for a shirt with two holes in the front. It’s already sagging to just below the covering band, despite the fold over elastic I put there in an attempt to keep it snug to my body, and I think I may have to sew the front completely closed in order to keep this wearable. Which defeats the entire purpose of a nursing shirt. At least the skirt turned out ok, even though all I did was buy it at the thrift shop and shorten it a few inches. The waistband was up to my ribs before–an odd feeling, since I’m not short!

IMG_5145 My apologies if this is sounding like a downer. But the truth is, I’m frustrated, and I’ve been getting increasingly so for awhile. Looking at these pictures, you can tell that I don’t feel great about what I’m wearing. Honestly, I haven’t felt great about almost everything I’ve made for awhile now. I was thinking about it today, and for the entire past 12ish months, I really only have two projects, that weren’t super-simple basics, where I feel like they look decent on me and really suit my style. I showed a picture on Instagram of one of my currently in-progress projects that’s also turning out to be less than I’d hoped, and a (kindly meant and worded in a constructively critical way) comment that I might be better off just cutting a different shirt entirely out of the fabric and starting over nearly sent me off crying. I feel like I just don’t know how to sew for myself anymore, and given that I’ve been sewing mostly clothes for coming up on 30 years now, that thought is horribly depressing.

It’s a hard place to be, sewing for the in-between. I recall having issues after my first pregnancy, and having a few misses on trying to sew for nursing-friendly and more changeable sizes than I was used to, but I think it’s actually hitting me much harder this second time around. I wasn’t expecting to have two kids less than two years apart. And while I wouldn’t trade Padawan in, he really is a sweet and happy baby most of the time, having two pregnancies this close together has really done a number on my body. I’m actually in physical therapy right now, because my hips got completely out of alignment between the two pregnancies and it was starting to make just normal, everyday walking painful. I also started this pregnancy at a higher weight than my first, since I only had something like a month between finishing up with nursing and getting pregnant again, and didn’t have a chance to drop those last few pounds. Long story short, I feel like I’m sewing for someone else’s body now, and I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. My older clothes are still too small, trying to sew looser/more forgiving silhouettes are resulting in things turning out too big, and I’m not even sure what looks good with all of these extra lumps and bumps that I have now. I just feel frumpy pretty much all the time. And of course I’m complicating things further by breastfeeding.

I can’t give up sewing, it’s too much a part of me. But I am seriously beginning to wonder if I should just step back from clothes for now, and focus on stuff like the boys’ Halloween costumes that I’m working on/all of the boring-but-necessary sewing that I’ve been procrastinating on (oh, hi, bedroom curtains that shrank shorter than your lining two years ago). I’ve never had a sewing slump like this one before, where I consistently have far more misses than hits. It’s demoralizing, especially when it’s been such a struggle to get sewing time to begin with. And until I’m 100% sure that I’m done with having babies and massive weight shifts, I don’t know what to do about it.

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Ease into Motherhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Just call me Goldilocks

I’m going to do a little time traveling today. Not too far back, just to May. I was able to get back to sewing surprisingly fast after this baby, and managed to knock out three projects within the first six weeks of bringing him home. Unfortunately for me, the results have been less than stellar. But I do like to keep it real around here, and not every project is a success, so I’ll share them anyway. Hopefully the photos are OK, but the phone photos that I had to resort to are better than none, right?

20170703_141316My first project after Padawan was born was to knock out two pairs of shorts from Simplicity 1367. Shorts are legitimately the big hole in my wardrobe– I don’t particularly enjoy wearing them because I’ve never been all that confident about how I look in them, but skirts aren’t  always practical for life with young kids, and our summer is way too hot and humid for jeans. And I only had one pair of shorts to get me through the entire summer. I thought this pattern would be good for post-baby wear and (hopeful) weight loss because of the knit yoga-style waistband. Theoretically, I still think that. The problem is that I cut them out while I was still pregnant, and either I remembered my measurements from after the first pregnancy wrong, or I underestimated what size I might need, considering that I started this time with a few pounds more. They’re too small. I recently checked my measurements to cut a different project, and I probably should have gone two sizes bigger, though I made the largest size for the envelope that I had.

Matcha and shortsThey fit enough to be wearable, barely, but they fit me like maternity jeans after the halfway mark or so–the woven part rides too low in the back, and the knit panel is necessary to cover the rest. It feels awkward. It looks awkward too, if this backside shot is any indication. I’m hoping that as I lose some of this baby weight, that they might work better. (Assuming that I can, because I’ve been trying to up my exercise and drink more water and stuff steadily for two whole months, my best streak of consistency in my life, and guess how much weight I’ve lost? NONE. I’m so upset at this.) In the meantime, I bought a second pair at the thrift shop on a $2 sale day. (Along with jeans, because I needed those too.)

Some other details: the solid pair is made from nonstretch lightweight denim and an interlock knit, and the print is a rayon-blend twill that I got in an online fabric swap several years ago, plus a rayon jersey. The rayon jersey, which I bought second after deciding to also make the denim pair, works much better for the waistband. Or it would, if the print pair fit. The interlock is thicker, and I actually basted a fisheye dart in back to keep it from gaping away from me, but once I figured out that the shorts were going to be too small, I decreased the seam allowance on the denim pair, so it works a little better to squeeze them on. IMG_20170428_105621I did add patch pockets to the front of each pair with the intention of holding my phone when I’m dealing with the boys. It’s hard to squeeze it in since the shorts are tight right now, but it helps me tell the front from the back. It would definitely need a tag or something otherwise. I also added several inches to the length, I think around 6″, because the idea of my thighs in short shorts is uncomfortable. That’s exactly why I prefer wearing skirts in summer, I can cover more of my legs without looking frumpy. Anyway. Did I mention that the lining on the denim pockets are geeky fun? My mom let me raid her quilt cotton scraps, since I pretty much do all my cutting out at her place while she gets grandson time, and this piece was from Spoonflower.

Matcha and shortsNext up, I made the Matcha top from Sew Liberated. It popped up on my Instagram feed as a breastfeeding friendly shirt, so in a highly unusual move for me, I bought a brand new pattern and sewed it nearly right away. I should have made a test version. But stupid me, I decided to dive right into the Cotton & Steel challis that my mom gifted me with in lieu of hospital flowers. (Note to my husband, if you ever read this: I will never complain about you buying me fabric instead of flowers that will be dead in a week.) I rounded up on the size to go with my current bust measurement, but the pattern didn’t mention any finished garment measurements. (My one criticism of the pattern, since this company is new to me.) It was huge. What I probably should have done, once I realized this, was unpick what I’d sewn up to that point, retraced the pattern in a smaller size, and recut from what I had. But since I was in the middle of Doug watching the boys so I could sew and I have nowhere good to cut at home for now, I just started tweaking what I had. A lot. So I took in the side seam in the back, took a tuck under the back of the shoulder detail, turned the back into a large box pleat (okay, so that one was a  case of not reading ahead to see that it was supposed to be gathered), shifted the collar down about 2.5″ in the front, and so on.

Matcha and shorts The result is a pretty close approximation of the pattern, thankfully, and it’s very comfortable on our summer days with 3000% humidity. I couldn’t let this lovely fabric be a failure, because it feels so nice (and cool) to wear. Also, Alice in Wonderland print. This makes my literary geeky heart so happy. I actually do like the box pleat in this, too. And the neckline is really unique. There’s a hook and eye that helps hold it closed, and it has worked out very well for nursing so far. I keep thinking I’m going to add another hook and eye so that I don’t have to keep wearing a camisole underneath, but since my new necessary sewing setup means I have to go to the basement, haul a wire shelf out of the closet– most likely while wearing a baby and trying to keep a toddler from grabbing craft supplies and running– dig out the hooks and return everything else, it hasn’t happened yet.Matcha and shorts

Since this experiment gave me no real indication of the fit, I pulled a piece from my stash and cut out the sleeved version for the fall, about two sizes smaller. I haven’t gotten to sewing it yet, so stay tuned.

It’s admittedly frustrating that these three things had so many fit issues, since I have to fight for every scrap of sewing time that I get these days. That’s a large part of why I splurged on the fabric for the Rae skirt from the last post– I just needed something quick and simple that I knew would get good results. I did finish another project recently that seemed to work out, so I’m hoping that means that I’m back to a better streak of sewing. After this run, I could use a few more projects that are just right.

Playing with dye

First of all, thank you for your kind words about my grandfather’s passing. It was a rough week, particularly on Saturday when we had the funeral. My mom’s side of the family in particular has stayed pretty close throughout the years, even now that all but one of my cousins is college-aged or older (I’m the oldest of 12 on that side, not counting the several spouses that have been added over the last 5ish years), and we still get together every few months for holidays and things. So it did help to have that time after the funeral to hang out with them and my aunts and uncles and laugh and reminisce. Thanksgiving is going to be strange this year, since we also lost my dad’s father a few months ago, but I’m hopeful that there will still be some good times with my family to look forward to. 

I was off of my retail job most of last week, since it was the lull between pumpkin season and the Christmas tree rush, and working on my second Doctor Who Sewalong project was a welcome distraction. (Incidentally, I was also glad to have the 50th anniversary to look forward to on Saturday night! I originally had more elaborate plans to make themed food and all, but in the end, my husband and best friend and I just ordered Chinese food and sat around in our Whovian t-shirts to watch the later showing. LOVED it. Anyway.) But this post is about the one day I took off from that sewing project! I do enjoy fiddling around with fabric dye, even though my last experiment didn’t go well at all. So when several sewcialists on Twitter decided that November should be “play with dye” month, I thought it would be fun to join in. I still have several projects in mind to do, though I think some of them will have to wait for warmer weather and/or other sewing projects. But here’s what I decided to fiddle around with.

IMG_0883I started off with these–a thrifted, all-cotton cabled sweater, a cotton/viscose rib knit cardigan that I got for free at a girls’ night swap, and this cotton gauze shirt that I made several years ago and barely wear because I don’t like the way the color looks on me (or how see-through the light fabric is!) Not pictured here is the yardish of silk dupioni left over from the outside of my wedding dress, since I didn’t find it until after I took the picture, but I threw that in, too. I know silk can sometimes shift colors when using the Procrion dyes, since I tried to dye some silk lining brown several years ago and it turned pink instead, but I figured that with the color I picked (Grecian Sea, from Dharma Trading Company), I figured the worst that would happen is it would be some shade mixture of blue, green or yellow. I could live with that. And the fabric on its own was just so….bridal, you know?

I read the directions more carefully than the last time, and spent most of my morning running up and down the stairs to make sure that the washing machine was still agitating but not draining the dye too soon. So not only did I get a great workout (for once), the results were much better!

IMG_0884I lost a lot of the silk to fraying–I probably should have taken the time to just stitch the edges, but I was in a hurry because by the time I found it, my clothes were nearly done pre-washing. So I think I may have just barely enough for a Sorbetto or some other kind of camisole top. The texture of the silk is also much different now, from all of the washing, but I’m ok with that. As for the clothes, I’m really happy with how they turned out! It’s really interesting how the different fabrics react to the same color. It shows up best on the gauze top, since the crocheted lace is so much darker and the polyester ribbon didn’t take it at all. I may end up just taking the ribbon out–what do you think?

It got stupid cold* yesterday, so I’ve already debuted my cable sweater. The blue matched perfectly with one of the stripes in this thrifted double-gauze plaid buttondown that I have. I’d normally not wear it this time of year, since it also has 3/4 sleeves. Maybe with a cardigan at most. But I figured it would be a good candidate for that sweater-layered-with-a-longer-buttondown look that I keep seeing on Pinterest and whatnot. The only picture I had time for was this Twitter selfie, so you can’t really see the whole outfit, but it worked, I think. Nice to know I have another cold-weather option for at least one piece in my wardrobe.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsSo even though that sweater is too short to wear on its own, the color makes me happy, and I’m sure that I’ll be reaching for it a lot more this winter.

IMG_0885While we’re talking blue things, I’ll leave you with a sneak preview of my sewalong project. Let’s say inspired-by and not exact replica, ok? I’ll explain more next time. The sleeves are basically sewed together, but I need to sew them on the shirt. And then there’s the matter of buttonholes and hemming. But I’m getting pretty close. This is a new-to-me pattern from a Burda magazine, and I didn’t bother with a muslin, so I may have to fiddle with the buttonhole placement to get it to fit.

(*Stupid cold: When it’s cold enough that being outside for more than a minute makes your face hurt, and there’s no snow on the horizon. See all of last winter in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.)

To blog or not to blog?

(Getting a little personal with this one.)

That’s the thought that’s been running through my mind lately. It’s not that I’ve run out of things to talk about, or I’ve lost interest in sewing or anything. It’s just, well… I kind of feel like I’ve been boring people.

I love the sewing blog community. I’ve learned so much, and I feel like I “know” a lot of you now, through your amazing things that you create and the pieces of your lives that you let creep into your blog. I know I’ll never have the popularity or the insight of blogs like Gertie’s, Tasia’s, Sarai’s or Sunni’s–obviously, since those amazing ladies are all creating sewing-based businesses. I also know that I probably won’t be inspiring entire sewing movements, like Mena’s Sew Weekly or Zoe’s Me-Made-Months. Or, more likely than not, even the fun sew-alongs that people like Sarah and Alessa and Ali put together, or the just plain fun of people like Oona. (Maybe if I’m lucky, someday I can develop the great photo-setting skills and ability to create really fun things out of leftovers like Carolyn.) And, for the most part, that’s ok.

But then there’s this little nagging part of me that sees how few comments I get on posts, compared to people like them, and I wonder if that means that my blog is less interesting or, God forbid, just plain boring. I mean, when your all-time high is less than 20 comments, and that’s on things like huge life-changing awesomeness, my blog just can’t measure up to the cool kids’, right?

I was thinking about this at work today–it was a really slow day, and I didn’t have much else to do to keep my brain occupied during the mind-numbing hours of deadheading pansies. And I guess what it comes down to is the question of who, or what, I’m writing this for. Am I doing it for the comments, or am I doing this for me? And the answer was pretty easy. This might not be the most interesting or craft-world-shaping blog out there. The focus might change from time to time–I’m sure that more home dec-type stuff will be sneaking its way into here, now that I’ve got a place of my (and my fiance’s) own to think about. (I’m not moving there until after the wedding, but we’ll be doing some painting and such before that.) And I won’t be cranking out new projects here for awhile, with the One Dress To Rule Them All more or less ready to go into pre-production stage. And I know things like that probably aren’t that exciting for a lot of people. But it’s still my own little virtual scrapbook of the things I create, and that’s still exciting to me.

Lest this sound like I’m getting down on the blogging community, because I’m really not intending for it to come off that way– I really am grateful for all of you who take the time to read this, and all of you (who aren’t the anonymous spam-bots who like to plague my every post) who take the extra time to comment. I do read and enjoy every single one! And I do hope you stick around.

Ok, that’s pretty much all I have to say for now. Though, guess what– I have projects to show! Yes, that is multiple! I just need pictures first, so stay tuned…

The obligatory end-of-2011 roundup post!

But first….ooh, look, a finished sweater! (Minus the blocking.)

It’s certainly not perfect. The sleeves are a bit too batwing for my taste– I guess I measured wrong when checking the pattern to see if that was a good place to split off the sleeve, or it got too stretched out in waiting. I definitely need to work on my binding off–the sleeves are ok, but despite my googling to find a stretchier bind-off that I could understand, I initially couldn’t get the sweater over my hips at all. I actually had to unbind it and get my mom to do it for me, and it’s still not stretchy, but at least I can get it on now. I wish it was more fitted. But it’s a sweater, and I made it, and I learned some valuable things that I can take to the next time I attempt this sort of thing. (Like try it on a lot more often.) On the plus side, it’s cheery, it’ll work with those skinny jeans, and from the little bit I tried it on to test the bindoff today, it’ll be nice and toasty. I wasn’t sure I’d make my goal of finishing it by the end of the year, but since my day job is currently done, basically all of my students cancelled this week, and I’ve been trying to fight off a cold, I was able to knock out the rest of the knitting in a marathon session yesterday (along with watching Downton Abbey in its entirety.) So it’s done. Yay!

 On with the year-in-review: 2011 turned out to be a pretty big year for me and crafting! Well, they’re usually big years. But I made some pretty cool stuff, if I may say so myself.

Revisiting last year’s post, this is what I was hoping to do this year:
  1. Continue working on fitting. Considering that I made a pair of pants that fit, and a perfectly-fitting sheath dress, I’d say this is a win.
  2. Learn some more couture techniques. Little Black Dress, anyone?
  3. Get my fabric and pattern stashes organized. Not so much on the patterns, but the fabric was a win!
  4. Do some more reconstructions. I got 15 for the year, so I averaged about 1 a month. Not too bad!
  5. Figure out whether the Etsy shop thing would work for me. I did. It didn’t. Moving on.
  6. Rethink my scrapbooking. I haven’t posted much about that, but I haven’t totally neglected it this year– I reorganized my albums to a way that makes a little more sense for my current lifestyle, and I did actually finish a couple of pages. (They’d been in progress for a long time, but I’m still counting them.)
What I was not expecting this year: Knitting. Especially actually sticking with it for an entire year. And I got to the point where I made a sweater. Whoa.
I’ve been thinking about my goals for this year. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to keep it simple. My personal life has gotten a bit interesting lately, and I don’t want to put pressure on myself. So here’s what I’m hoping for 2012 in my crafty life:
  1. Continue chipping away at the fabric stash. And whatever other stashes.
  2. I have a handful of specific projects I’d like to sew. #1, the jeans. It WILL happen this time. #2, a jacket or two. #3, the Lonsdale dress I’ve been envisioning for at least six months. Aside from that, I want to leave things flexible for seasonal sewalongs and the like.
  3. On the reconstruction end of things, I’ve had an idea simmering in my mind for a couple of months now. Since I’m already an Anthropologie fan, I’m setting a little mini-challenge for myself. Once a season, I’d like to choose a garment from the current catalog, and make a recycled piece inspired by it. Perhaps even with a tutorial, if the interest is there. (I was originally thinking once a month, but again, I’m trying to avoid over-committing myself. And once every 3 months sounds reasonable.) Also, I’d like to reconstruct often enough to stay a part of the Refashion Co-Op.
  4. Continue working on my knitting. Specifically, I’d like to make something with a cable that actually looks like a cable, something with multiple colors in the same project, and at least start that afghan that will take me years to finish.
  5. Keep chipping away at the scrapbooks as I feel inspired to.
  6. Get better at picking projects that will help me make complete outfits. (I have a couple of orphan pieces that I still love and I want to wear them.)
  7. Make some more things for others. I can be a terribly selfish crafter.

The other stats:
What I made or reconstructed this year: 3 items of jewelry, 7 dresses, 1 jacket, 6 skirts, 5 wraps/scarves, 13 shirts, 6 bags/pouches, 3 hats, 2 pairs of handwarmers, 1 pair slippers, 1 pajamas, 2 pairs of pants/shorts, 12 “general household” items, which is kind of the catch-all for everything else (3 of which are ornaments that didn’t get photographed), a few random scrapbook pages that I didn’t count, and, of course, my first sweater!

Favorite project this year: Hands-down, the Anthropologie pants.

Thing I’m proudest of: Actually sticking with the knitting this time. Especially through that rough patch on the sweater. This says much about the improvement of my patience levels.

So that pretty much sums it up–happy rest of 2011 to all of you, and see you in the new year!

    A beautiful blogger is me!

    …That’s what the award says, anyway. 😉

    I never made it through the entire link list of Self-Stitched September participants’ blogs– I only made it up to the L’s or so. And so I completely missed noticing that Scruffy Badger had nominated me for that Beautiful Blogger award that’s been going around– sorry! I think these awards that ask for information about you are kind of fun– I know I’m never going to be one of those people that gets a ton of comments on my posts, but it’s always a nice feeling to think that someone thinks your writing is interesting enough to want to learn more about you. (That, and it’s gratifying to know that someone is reading this blog besides my mom! 😉

    So here we go…10 random things about me.

    1. I have this paradoxical personality quirk where I kind of like organizing things, but I’m really a terribly disorganized person on the whole. If I’m in the right mood for it, I can quite happily spend an afternoon sorting through a pile of recipes, putting my overstuffed bookshelf in order, organizing the photos on my hard drive into folders that make sense instead of all the date-labeled ones…and yet, I get easily overwhelmed because I’m generally in the middle of at least 4 of these projects at any given time. And I constantly misplace things. Especially stuff like seam rippers, sewing gauges, my phone (usually while it’s either on silent or completely dead), and the car keys that I just had in my hand two minutes ago. (True story– the latter happened just last week.)

    2. I really wish I was better at cooking. I think I can follow a recipe pretty well by this point, but I do wish that I was better at improvising with it. You know, like those people on Iron Chef who can just get a big table full of bacon thrown at them and whip out a five-course meal, complete with dessert, in an hour or so. (Did I mention that the Food Network is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine?) I think I have this secret dream of being the woman who all her friends think is an amazing cook and always wants her recipes. I also wish I had time to cook more regularly, but that’s another story.

    3. I love the flute. Really. And it’s a good thing, since teaching that is a pretty huge part of how I make a living. But sometimes I really wish I’d played the guitar instead, because I’m really much more of a rock chick than a classical girl at heart.

    4. I have a scar on my left pointer fingertip from crafting. When I was 15, I was making a stack of paper beads for a necklace I wanted to make. And I decided the beads were too big, so I was slicing them in half with a pair of scissors. I think you can figure out what happened next….the worst part of it was, my dad was going to take me out for driving practice that night, and since my finger wouldn’t stop bleeding, he took my then-not-quite-13-year-old brother instead! (I also discovered that my fingerprint now has a hole in it, when I had to get them on file before I started doing the band job a couple of years ago. That was kind of weird.)

    5. Though I don’t have time to do it as often as I’d like to, I read really fast. I always have. (Good thing, too, or I wouldn’t get through nearly as many books.) And when I have the time to just sit and read, I can pull off ridiculous stunts like read the entire last book of the Harry Potter series, in all of its 750+ page glory, in one day at the beach.

    6. I never really played with my (very few) Barbie dolls….I was more of a My Little Pony girl, really. What I did use them for was as a sewing dummy. I still remember one of my very first sewing projects– it was a full-length Barbie gown made from, of all things, scraps of white felt hand-sewn together with seafoam green yarn. With big ruffly straps at the shoulders. And in true Project Runway style, I sewed it directly onto the doll– I think I had to cut it off later.

    7. I enjoy playing video games. I have ever since I was a kid, in the days of the good old 8-bit Nintendo (when my brother and I could get it, since we’d often have to fight Dad for it) and the original greenish-screened Game Boy. I had to ride the bus for about 2 hours a day during the last few years of elementary school, and sadly, I can’t read in vehicles without getting carsick. So I played Game Boy instead. I also remember playing a lot of computer games when I was a kid, like Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, Prince of Persia, Sim City and related games, and (my favorite) Civilization. These days, I tend to go for the Guitar Hero-type games, or the occasional attempts to play old-school games on my Wii. More often, at the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, my game of choice is Lord of the Rings Online.  (Kind of like World of Warcraft, but in Middle-earth. Which was definitely the suck-me-in factor.) Though I did recently get Civilization V, after trying it out at a friend’s house, so that might be bad for my limited free time…

    8. Another random non-crafty hobby of mine: making playlists on my iPod. I’m especially fond of themed ones– like I have one that’s all songs that have colors in their titles, a sunny day mix that’s all songs about sunshine, sunlight, and other related things (and the opposing one, of course, which is all rain songs), a “literary” mix that’s all songs that reference books, etc. Oddly, I still have yet to make a decent workout mix…that one keeps eluding me for some reason. I also tend to be a little picky on my playlists, in that I have to make sure that the songs flow together musically, or that the titles work next to each other in the list, or things like that. (I guess I should include finding new music in that, because no matter how much I have, I always want more!)

    9. I’m really good at coming up with grand, lofty schemes for longer-term projects, and really bad at the follow-through. I think it’s just that I tend to get easily sidetracked and want to move on to something else. (Either that, or I’m just lazy…I’m pretty sure it’s the former, though. It’s certainly not a fear of commitment issue, because I’m still actively friends with some of the same girls that I’ve been friends with since preschool/kindergarten. And I mean “talk in person and hang out” friends, not just Facebook friends.) You know….things like my mini-wardrobe project that I never actually made all of the pieces for. (Though a huge part of the burnout on that was that nothing was actually going together like it should have.) And the fact that I’ve been in my room for about a year now and I’m still not completely done putting it together– still need to hang stuff on the walls, refinish a dresser, make a bunch of pillows, put away some of the piles that have been sitting on the floor since I moved in here… I think there’s hope for me, though, because I did finish that quilt. And my long-term project, which took me 9 months, of listening/writing through every song on my iPod. All 9000+ of them. (Though I’m still picking at that one as I add new stuff.)

    Really, I think when it comes down to it, is that a part of me doesn’t like being boxed into rules.

    10. I think I’m literally addicted to craftiness– during times like now, when I’ve been really busy with work and (especially as of late) my new-found social life and don’t have time to do much, I go through withdrawal symptoms. Like I get really irritable and feel more stressed out.

    The rules say I’m supposed to tag 10 people. But since this one’s been floating around for awhile and I honestly don’t know who I follow that hasn’t done it already (and don’t have time to dig through everyone’s blog to look), I’m going to go with my last statement of #9 and say that if you want it, tag, you’re it. 😉

    And speaking of #10…. I haven’t been completely uncrafty. I have managed to get my next jacket pattern muslined and altered, finally. (Hopefully it’ll work– I still have a definite lack of confidence in my pattern alteration abilities.) And I’ve been picking at jewelry here and there, and will be doing a lot more of it tomorrow while hanging out with Cassie. Craft fair coming up and all. And I have even done a little bit of sewing, for a costume party I went to last weekend. Pics to come. I have another party tonight, which I was going to try to throw a costume together for, but the original theme idea fell through so I’m just going to recycle my fairy costume for tonight since it’s an entirely different crowd. And another one next weekend, with a 1920s theme, but I’m going to just borrow a dress from a friend for that one since I don’t find that decade particularly inspiring to sew from. I have to admit that the idea of making 3 costumes in 3 weeks with limited time was kind of stressing me out, so I’ve never been so happy to not make a costume in my life!

    Though I do need to replace the grosgrain ribbon on my fairy wings with some wide black elastic, which I don’t have. And Joann’s is also having a Vogue pattern sale. And guess what– I know what I want to do for my black dress now! (Still trying to figure out how it works for both silk jersey and silk crepe–you know, that knit vs. woven thing–but isn’t it lovely? Though I’m planning on making mine more of a knee length.) So to the fabric store with me!

    "Craftions" speak louder than words…

    Normally I would save something like this for the Friday Favorites, but while blog-skimming this morning, I came across this article from CraftStylish called Crafting Your Personality. An interesting read, to say the least– basically the author’s musings on the crafts she has and hasn’t tried, as well as how she does it, and what that says about her. So I thought it would be fun to do the same here.

    It’s pretty obvious from the blog title that sewing is my main deal–the one I’m most involved with and the one I’ve been doing the longest. Since I primarily make clothes and other fashion-related things (bags and such), for me, it’s the main way that I express myself. I think it goes back to private school dress codes– the school I went to for most of my life was pretty strict on several things about the dress code. No blue jeans, except on special dress-up days. No T-shirts. Knit shirts for girls couldn’t be too tight, too short, or too low-cut. No tank tops. No skirts that were shorter than 4″ above the knee, when kneeling on the ground. (That one alone motivated me to sew, because those were virtually impossible to find in the average juniors’ size store unless they were long skirts.) And I’ve always been one who hated preppy clothes and having brand names plastered all over myself. So while the majority of my classmates shopped at the Gap and (my most-loathed store) Abercrombie & Fitch, I was the girl who sewed herself skirts out of funky fabrics, wore vintage jackets from the thrift store (or ones that my mom had sewed when she was a teenager in the 70s), and absolutely loved it when people complimented my outfits and then found out I made that. (Now people ask me if I made it before they ask me where I got it. But generally after a compliment, so I’ll take that as a good thing.)

    I think it encompasses a lot of different facets of my personality. There’s the earthy, hippie, tree-hugger side of me who loves flowy skirts, natural fibers, and recycling clothes via reconstruction. There’s the not-so-inner fantasy/sci-fi geek, who loves it when I can bring that Renaissance influence into my modern-day stuff, and will spend hours researching a costume or replicating the embroidery on a favorite movie dress onto a shirt *cough*, just so I can giggle at my own private geeky joke. There’s the career woman side, who is trying to look quasi-professional, but with an artsy twist because I don’t have to work in an office and music means I’m allowed to be quirky. And then there’s the wannabe indie rocker/kid that never wanted to grow up who still loves glitter and shiny things and not dressing mainstream.

    The jewelry-making is kind of an extension of that. After all, a girl needs accessories! And, since I generally don’t like repetitive crafts, it’s a good brainless repetitive craft for me. Stringing a necklace is a very low time commitment, most of the time. And, honestly, I’d always take a funky beaded necklace or a handcrafted silver ring over the fine (read: expensive and overrated) jewelry that gets advertised on tv a lot this time of year. Guess it goes back to that earthy hippie thing.

    And then there’s the scrapbooking. That’s where my inner artist comes out to play, both because I love taking pictures and I love making collages. Plus I’m a very nostalgic person– I’m the one who saves all her movie and concert ticket stubs, writes in journals and actually does look back at them on occasion, keeps every note I ever get from a significant other (at least until the relationship ends), etc. I like to remember the good times and the people I had them with.

    Now that I think about it, the way I do these crafts probably says something about me, too. When I’m sewing from a pattern, I rarely follow it exactly– I’ll mix elements from different views to get the look I want, I’ll make things longer, widen the straps, etc. I’m getting to the point where I don’t really look at directions much, unless it’s things like attaching linings (still trying to master that), a pattern with a lot of details, or a technique I’m unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. I’m not really a rule-breaker, if I’m honest, but I like to follow the rules my own way, and that seems to reflect that. But then for stuff like clothing reconstructions and jewelry, I rarely follow directions at all and completely wing it. I guess that’s the artsy part of me that likes improvisation and spontanaeity. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really into highly repetitive crafts, like knitting/crocheting/quilting (though I have a definite appreciation for the end product!) I’m thinking that’s because routine pretty much drives me crazy. (One of the things I love most about my music work is that my schedule, though generally similar from week to week, is different every weekday. So it’s not like I’m going to the same place doing the same thing with the same people all the time.) But there’s a methodical side to me too, which seems to come out a little more in my scrapbooking. The method I’ve found that works best for me is to do all the prepwork in advance (do the writing, develop the photos, choose the papers, sketch out a design, etc.) and then just sit down and throw a bunch of them together at once. With room for improvisation, of course, if I don’t like the way it looks. My pages tend to be pretty linear and stuff too, though I’m trying to break away from that some.

    I’ve always said that I’m a walking contradiction. I guess these observations just support that theory.

    What about you? What does the type of crafting you do or the way you craft say about you?

    Thankful to be Crafty

    Since I’m not the one rushing around to cook dinner (my family always goes to my dad’s parents’ on Thanksgiving, and my grandfather insists on making all the food, other than the bread, which my mom makes), figured it would be fitting for this blog to think a little on this subject.

    So here’s why I’m thankful that I’m crafty….

    1. Because it’s fun!
    2. Because it allows me to express myself in a unique, creative way. Particularly since I’m primarily a clothes sewer. Plus I rarely have to bother with the concern that someone else will show up in the same outfit as me.
    3. Because, even though it takes some effort sometimes, I can have clothes that truly fit.
    4. Because it allows me to recycle in creative ways.
    5. Because, sometimes, it saves me money. (Anyone who makes clothes should know what I mean there, haha.)
    6. Because it allows me to make gifts for my friends and family that are truly personal. For instance, what are the odds that I would have been able to find a rabbit apron for my rabbit-owning-and-loving friend for her wedding? (Plus it was functional!)
    7. Because it’s something I can use to help people. Something I’ve just started having opportunities to do this year, pretty much, and mainly through my Bible study–like I was able to help make pillows for kids at battered women’s shelters, and it looks like we’re going to be doing something with Project Linus soon.
    8. Because it’s therapeutic. Crafting is great stress relief for me– though I’m not one for long-term repetitive crafts (the reason I was never really able to get into cross-stitching or knitting or crocheting), something small like stringing a necklace together can be really soothing. Or the accomplished feeling of running a few seams together and having it look like a skirt or shirt can be a real pick-me-up. Or, sometimes I have to break stuff before I can make stuff, and that’s just fun. 😉 Or, on a slightly more personal note, the times when I get really down about the single life, it helps to work on my scrapbook some and remember all the fun times I have with my friends and such.
    9. Speaking of scrapbooking, it means I get a more creative way to look back on those memories than just shoving them in an album. More time-consuming, yes, but the kid in me loves the collage aspect!
    10. Because it allows me to connect with people. Though not all of my friends, I’m fortunate to have some friends here who also craft, and getting together with them and making stuff (even though it’s often not the same type of stuff, as 2 out of 3 of them are primarily crocheters!) is always a fun time. And, I’ve also enjoyed getting to know crafters from all over the place through this blog!

    Ten seems like a good number to stop at. Especially since I want to get some sewing in before we head over to my grandparents’ for the turkey. So, I hope you all have a wonderful day with lots to be thankful for, no matter where you are!

    It’s easy being green.

    Everything I worked on yesterday was green, as was I. I was having a quasi-sick day (nothing serious, no worries) so I basically spent the entire afternoon sitting on my bed and watching tv while slapping paint on an entire pack of cardstock (paper prep for my as-of-yet-unstarted road trip scrapbook– trying to give less expensive cardstock that distressed BasicGrey type look)–turned out pretty good. So I have several more packs to do, but if I can snatch a couple hours here or there to watch tv or a movie while painting, I should be able to get through them all rather painlessly. Then I continued to watch tv while tearing apart these two shirts. The lighter one is a tank with a great print but it must have shrunk or something, since it won’t even reach to the waistband of my jeans anymore (and my jeans aren’t that low-cut!) The other is a cardigan that my mom made awhile ago and then passed down to me, in an olive shade that perfectly matches the darker parts of the print. So I’m going to turn this into a long-sleeved hoodie with a contrasting band on the bottom to add the necessary length. I might sew it tonight… we’ll see how I’m feeling after work, and how much progress I make on my closet beforehand (I’ve been procrastinating on switching out my summer with my winter clothes, but it’s become apparent that it’s just not going to get that warm again anytime soon. Drat. I liked the unseasonable October temps!)
    Speaking of being green…. it’s been a difficult decision for me, but I’ve decided not to sign up for the next round of Wardrobe Refashion once I complete my current contract. I still think it’s a great thing– I’ve learned a lot about my personal consumer habits, and thinking outside the box when it comes to necessary (or just wanting different) clothing. So I’m not saying this so I can rush out and buy a bunch of clothes– I really don’t feel the urge to do that. I’m still going to keep sewing, thrifting, and refashioning as much of my wardrobe as I can, especially since I’m trying to get serious about my goal of being able to afford to live on my own by the time I’m 30 (will be turning 27 in a few months, and while my parents are very gracious and supportive of how hard it is to support yourself in music, I don’t want to have to rely on them long-term for a roof over my head. Have to grow up sometime.) And since I’m a self-professed clothesaholic, as long as I can keep myself from too many splurges on pieces of fabric (also a fabric addict, so easier said than done), I think that will help my budget a lot. When I actually make a budget.
    No, I’m saying this because the blessing and curse of a pledge such as this is it really holds you to a goal. So as much as I love sewing, doing this pledge for almost the entire year is making me feel almost obligated to spend my craft time at the sewing machine. Nothing wrong with lots of sewing, of course, but I’d like to take some time to be able to focus a bit more on some of my other crafty endeavors, particularly the road trip scrapbook and the still-unfinished one from Chile. I’ve failed miserably so far in my one-page-a-week scrapbook goal, mainly because I’ve just been super-busy lately in the social arena and the rest of the time is sewing or work. But I’m tired of having these two albums hanging over my head, I’m tired of still having pictures from 3-4 years ago waiting to go into an album, and I want to feel free to take an entire week, or even month to do non-sewing craftiness. I’m not saying I won’t ever do WR again, and I think it’s really likely that I’ll stick to the principles regardless of whether I’ve formally pledged. But sometimes a little breathing room is a good thing, and I’ve got enough stress in my life at the moment that I don’t want my beloved hobbies to become just another obligation or stress factor.