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.

Top 5 of 2016: Highlights and Reflections

Time to get thoughtful! And hopefully have enough pictures to keep this visually interesting. Ha.

1

Let’s start with the highlights, shall we?

  1. For a little while, I had a sewing student. It was a bit hit and miss over this past year, because first I had to go on maternity leave, and then she couldn’t start it up for awhile. And she ultimately ended up moving to Florida around the end of the summer. But I did enjoy helping her figure out ways to translate her sketches into real garments (though mostly for dolls). And I did get a message from her around Thanksgiving to check her instagram account, because she sewed herself a costume. So it’s gratifying to know that she’s keeping at it, even though I’m not the one helping her anymore!
  2. This kid. Even though he’s mostly what’s keeping me from sewing more these days. He’s pretty much into everything, we’ve already been through our first emergency room visit with him, and I’m having to answer what “this” is about a million times a day. But it’s also fun to watch him explore and learn, I love how curious he is, and he’s getting to a really fun age where I can actually start doing stuff with him instead of just trying to keep him fed and changed. Hopefully he’ll adapt well to being a big brother this spring!
  3. My music life picking up again. I did orchestra for pretty much all but my first semester of college for my large ensemble credit, and have missed playing in that sort of group. I’m very thankful that the opportunity to play in this community orchestra came up. It ended up being more of a time commitment this fall than I anticipated, between extra rehearsals for a family concert and playing in the first chamber concert of the season (also more time away from my sewing machine), but so far it’s been worth it.
  4. Not being sick for this entire pregnancy. I’ve been more tired, and like the first round, I’m still oddly repelled by anything peanut butter– even Reese’s cups, which I normally love! But I’ve been able to drink tea the whole time, and the nausea did pretty much go away shortly after I hit the second trimester, and I’m so thankful for this. I have absolutely no idea how I’d keep up with Hobbit if this was anything like when I was expecting him!
  5. For one thing that actually is sewing related, I did finally tackle a few patterns and ideas that had been on my list for awhile. So even though my output this year as a whole hasn’t really been that great, I do feel like I accomplished something.

Reflections:

  1. To go back to my hits and misses for this year, I think my greatest strength and weakness were both fabric choice. Especially when it came to colors. For the most part, my favorite things were bold and bright. The things I didn’t care for as much leaned more towards neutrals and especially reds. Even though one of them was one of my oldest fabric acquisitions and one of them was much newer, it seems I need to really consider that maybe there’s a reason I automatically gravitate towards blues and greens, and stick with what I know I love.
  2. Surprisingly, since I’ve been sewing a majority of things that are knit since I first got pregnant with Hobbit, I’ve found that it makes the woven projects a bit of a treat. I really enjoyed making both my Bruyere shirt, and the Grainline Archer that I haven’t shown here yet. Even though the fitting on knits is generally more forgiving, sometimes it’s just lovely to sew with a fabric that doesn’t ripple or skip stitches when I try to hem it.
  3. One of the big things I did this year was a closet purge. I had to get rid of a lot of things that I’d made, many of which I loved, because I was almost certain that they’d never fit me again. (Some of those are now sitting in my refashion pile in hopes of getting a second life, somehow, because I just couldn’t give up the prints.) I really can’t say that I was left with a streamlined or cohesive wardrobe. Frankly, I found this exercise hard, because I am not a minimalist and would probably die of neutral colored boredom if I did one of those things where I only had 20 hangers in my closet. But I think I at least have a fairly good idea of what some major holes in my wardrobe are, and can try to remedy that going forward. The question at this point is more about what I can just pull from my existing stash vs. needing to shop for new fabrics, because I really do need to try to get this pile more manageable. (Sewing room is going bye-bye to make room for a second nursery, sadly. There’s a lot of piles that I need to manage better.)
  4. Looking over last year’s reflections, one of my complaints was about my sewing becoming more utilitarian and fueled by a need to just have something to wear rather than being able to make something that I love to wear. I do think that I found a little more of a balance there this year. But I wonder how it will go in 2017, being back to limited by what fits a rapidly changing body and specific wardrobe needs of being a nursing mom. I think the best way to summarize is more that I still haven’t quite found the balance between what I want my style to be as a sewist, and what I need my wardrobe to be as a mom. And I’m not really sure what to do about that yet.
  5. At least I’m getting better at embracing the “slow fashion” thing, since two of my projects this year took multiple months to make. And maybe a little less selfish about my sewing than I used to be, since I have enjoyed making the kid projects.

 

More thoughts on stashbusting

I just found out that the Stashbusting Sewalong that Cation Designs and EmSewCrazy hosted last year is still going on! Which is exciting, since I’m doing the Stash Diet anyway. So I’m definitely jumping in on this one, too, in hopes that I can actually participate in more of the challenges this time around.

https://sewadagio.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/2a81f-stashbustingsewalongchallengebuttonsmall2014.png?w=634

This year, they’ve also added in a “Curating Challenge”, so here’s my answers for January’s questions.

Why do you sew?

I sew because making things is what keeps me sane. No, really. You don’t want to be around me when I haven’t had time to do any crafty stuff in awhile. I also like having clothes that fit me better/are different than what you find in stores–even when I was a kid, I liked wearing the clothes that my mom, and later me, made, because no one else in my school had the same stuff.

What’s on your list?

This will probably get altered depending on how many Saturdays get stolen from me I have to work in the spring/what sewcial challenges come up, but my current mental list for this year, in no particular order, is the following:

  • 4 more Thurlows (first one is in progress currently)
  • A Robson coat (hopefully before spring, I’m thinking for #bluefebruary)
  •  The new winter coat (I’d like to finish this one before October, since that’s when I may start needing it. I do need underlining and lining for this.)
  • A Project Runway pattern that I’ve had bagged with pattern/fabric/notions for about 2 years now that I haven’t gotten to yet
  • The Reglisse and Darling Ranges dresses that I didn’t get to last summer
  • A black knit maxi-dress
  • Espresso leggings. Especially since I figured out that the brown knit I’ve had for years that I was planning on testing this pattern out with will work for the costume I have in mind for Shieldmaiden March! 
  • Also, Shieldmaiden March. More on my costume choice and research to come. Hint: it’s not a traditional Viking. But you probably figured that out from the leggings (or if you follow me on Twitter).
  • A couple more (less involved) costumes, which need to get done before Labor Day weekend, since there’s plans in the works for a girls’ weekend at DragonCon! (This will probably involve tweaking things from the thrift store for the most part, and shouldn’t be too terribly hard to put together–for instance, one of my must-haves is an Amy Pond costume (from Doctor Who, for the uninitiated) and her clothes are pretty everyday wearable. I just need to decide which episode I’m coordinating with, since I have one friend who already has a particular River Song dress and another friend who wants to do Clara as “Souffle Girl”.)
  • A Cooper bag, which I should also try to get done before Labor Day, because I want to use it as a carry-on/day trip bag.
  • I do need to make 1 set of curtains for the kitchen at some point this year, particularly so I can shuffle things around to look better if we do put our townhouse on the market.
  • Other things bouncing around my head: I’d also like to make at least one more pair of jeans, a “real” Cambie dress, an Archer blouse, some pajamas (which I do legitimately need some warm-weather ones), and a Red Velvet dress.

Did I mention I have a problem with the ambition vs. time ratio?

Why are you stash busting?

Because my stash, as previously mentioned, is at ridiculous proportions. I want to downsize to a manageable level, so I can put more thought into my fabric purchases, create more cohesion in my wardrobe, and not feel guilty about buying fabric because I already have so much. I also want to make it easier to pack and move to a new space, since even if we don’t manage to move this year, moving a little closer to our families and to a larger space is something that we would prefer to do before any kids come into the picture. (And if we do that, I very well might have to work with a smaller craft space, since bedrooms would be a higher priority.)

This month’s theme for the Stashbusting Sewalong is “Itty Bits”. The good news is, I already did this without realizing it, thanks to my Kindle case! I can probably also count the pockets for my pants, or is that pushing it?

late night musings

I’m in the process of going through my clothes. The plan is to try to figure out all of my outfits for the days leading up to the wedding (and the honeymoon, of course!) within the next couple of days so I can just pack up and move the rest of my wardrobe and be done with it. One of the things I have going on within the next 2 1/2 weeks is another wedding, since we have some friends from church who are getting married a week before us. I’d been planning on wearing my Dahlia dress, but I may have to rethink that, because….
Oh no, stain!!!…look what I found on the back when I pulled it out from the under-the-bed storage! I have no idea what this random brown line is, how it got there, or how long it’s been there. All I know is that my initial attempt to scrub it out with soap and water failed.

This led me to examine the dress further. Which was probably a mistake, because the more I look at the top of this in particular, the less happy I am with several aspects of the finishing on this thing. The lining wants to curl to the outside of the bodice, the width of the top of the bodice is wider than the lower edge of the strap, the lining is all puckered because I think I was struggling with learning how to deal with the thread tension on my serger–I’d only had it for a few months at this point. Plus the top of the zipper is a hot mess. In short, there’s several things about it that just look very homemade in the bad way. (I will not call it a certain phrase that Project Runway popularized, because on behalf of all other Beckys in the world that sew, I hereby proclaim that this particular phrase needs to be tossed back into the fiery chasm from whence it came!)

Even if I can’t get this stain out, I think I can salvage this, because guess what–I still have an entire yard of this fabric left! I’d been tossing around the idea of a Sorbetto, but I could quite happily go for using it to remake the top of this dress and see if I can get it better the second time around. I still like the style, but surely with 5 more years of sewing experience, I can improve on those details, right? Or I could just try to get the stain mostly out and at least add a hook and eye to the back to see if that improves the zipper…

I still need to figure out what to wear to that wedding. Maybe my Lonsdale from last summer?

Sans accessories and required garden center work clothes that I’ve already worn this week and therefore need to be washed, I do have outfits picked out for 10 of the next 17 days. Including the rehearsal dinner–another previous me-made, in case you want to know–and the bachelorette party, and a button-down reserved for wearing over my wedding dress while my hair and makeup gets done. (I tested it before, and I didn’t extend the zipper enough to pull it on over my hips. Drat.) Not bad for a night’s work. Now I just need to get half the contents of my closet off of my bed so I can, you know, attempt to sleep tonight.

A few small things

  • No finished project post yet. I still have been unable to take a picture, but I will as soon as I can.
  • Do you ever have dreams about sewing? I do, sometimes. Last night’s was that I made a Tiramisu dress. Except that for some reason, subconscious me decided to pair just the skirt from it (in a navy blue jersey) with a sheer, woven coral thrifted button-down with a peplum. Which a) I do not own such a garment, and b) dream-me had it as one giant v down to the waist. Which I would never, ever do in the real world. At least subconscious me did ok with the color pairing. (Incidentally, I do have a mental plan to make a test tiramisu in navy blue jersey, since I have some jersey bedsheets to play with.)
  • Today is my birthday. I’m 32 now. That sounds so weird.
  • The Swap Your Stash was fairly successful for me! I didn’t get rid of everything, but I did have requests for about a third of what I’d posted. And most of those were things that I had either already made things out of and was therefore stuck, or things I couldn’t use at all (like accidentally pink silk!) I’ve sent out 4 pieces to 3 people, am waiting on addresses for 2 more, and so far I’ve received one package, from Anne in the UK. I’m not sure how this will end up as far as yardage in vs. out goes, but I tried to be very thoughtful in the things I swapped for, so hopefully I will end up with things that are much more useful for me!
  • My future sewing room is coming together very nicely. Doug and I spent last Friday night moving my sewing machine table to his place–I haven’t been using it lately, because I get way too cold in the basement this time of year and have therefore been doing all of my sewing upstairs, like I tend to do every winter. We also did some organizing in there. Most of my scrapbook/jewelry related things are there now, as well as a little fabric and probably about half of my yarn. We’ve also been discussing fabric storage options, and stumbled across a good option on sale at Target. So we’re probably going to spend this Friday evening moving the bulk of my remaining fabric stash and organizing that. Assuming I get done the dress in enough time to actually sew something else before the wedding, I figure I can just stop by his place and grab the fabric that I want.
  • Speaking of the dress, I’m now working on the hemming stage! I also spent some time over the weekend cutting out lace appliques for the skirt. 

I think that’s everything for now…back to work.

when wardrobe disaster strikes

So, as anyone around the mid-Atlantic/northeastern region of the US knows at this point, a big stormy mess of doom is coming straight for us. (Particularly my area, if the fact that the Weather Channel is hanging out at the beach I visit every summer is any indication. It’s rather weird to see a beach and boardwalk I’m actually familiar with on tv!) So, since the big concern is power outages and water, one of the main preparations today was catching up on my laundry. No big deal, right?

Except that somehow, despite the fact that I NEVER keep pens in my pockets, a pen somehow got stuck in with one of my loads and ran through the dryer. (Since I’m living at my parents’ until after the wedding, my dad is the most likely culprit–we’re guessing it must have somehow gotten left in the washer and then lost amidst my clothes.) The result is that the entire load basically got ruined.

Some of it wasn’t so bad–the clothes I wore to paint at my fiance’s house last night, for instance. A pair of pajamas that I got for Christmas last year got it pretty bad, but at least I just wear those to sleep in. The bigger problems were that nearly all of the t-shirts, the hoodie sweatshirt, and several pairs of the jeans I wear to work also got it pretty bad. (All thrifted, and most I only wear to work because they just don’t fit right, but I did have one pair that fit well enough that I wear them outside of work, too. So now I’m just down to 3 pairs of “real” jeans, and I can only wear the skinny jeans with a limited number of tops. Boo.) My one brown pair of pants that I wear at least once a week, even though they’re too short (I’ve been holding out until I have time to make some), also seem to have gotten a little, though it’s not quite as noticeable. And aside from those cute pjs that I’ve had less than a year, this is what’s making me the saddest…
10/23This was one of my outfit pics from this past week–all me-made except the boots. The top was safe because that was from a different load, but my teal microfiber skirt, which has become a staple this fall, did get some ink splatters. Another me-made that I wore yesterday met the same fate. I’m trying soaking those and the work t-shirt that got it the worst in a combination of detergent and oxy-clean to see if it will help. The two me-mades might be salvageable, because the skirt is dark enough that the ink just looks like a smudge instead of an obvious stain, and the top has a kind of splotchy (on purpose) dye job to begin with. The black ink is an obvious difference, but unless I missed a spot, it looks like both splatters are on the back, and so I might be able to hide it by leaving my hair down. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but it’s rather upsetting to consider that these two things might be ruined, when they’re both still actively involved in my wardrobe!

But this also leaves me with a dilemma–as much as I wanted to avoid buying clothes this fall, I do wonder if I should just replace the brown trousers and the one pair of jeans. I know I could sew them, and I have the fabric to do so, but I just don’t have the time until the wedding dress is done. And that does put a dent in my wardrobe.

To leave this on a happier note, because I’m still way more upset about this than I probably have a right to be–after all, they’re just clothes and it’s not like I don’t have more, I just get emotionally attached to the ones I spent time sewing in particular–here’s my other fun outfit from last week. Again, both pieces of clothing are me-mades (the green Vogue dress from last fall and the Junior Mints jacket, again. Thankfully, this particular challenging-to-make dress was NOT in this load of laundry!)
10/21

To the bat-cave!

Ok, not really…..but looking at this picture does make me think of Batman’s signal…

What this actually is is my Camille shrug, which I hastily wet and blocked before work this morning (and added a few extra pins when I got home.) I finished knitting and binding off the second sleeve last night. So all I have left to do on this, after it dries, is to sew up the sleeves and then knit some ribbing around the non-sleeved edges of that square. And weave in the ends, of course.

 I’ve really enjoyed making this one, actually–the lace chart was actually kind of fun to knit. And after the whole nightmare with a similar diamond-like pattern on my Cadence sweater, that really surprised me.

And I think this is the first knitting project where I’ve stepped back and thought to myself that this actually looks really good. I can’t stop staring at this picture of the back. It looks exactly the way it’s supposed to, and so intricate, and wow, I can’t believe that I essentially made that out of string. That’s the sort of thing I never thought I’d be able to do. I’m getting really excited to get this done and be able to wear it!

To change topics….there’s been a lot of hate going around the blogs I’ve been reading lately over Blogger’s highly annoying change in word verification. I’m not a fan either–if they wanted to make it harder to fake, fine. But did they really have to make all of the letters fuzzy and illegible, too? And cram things so closely together that you can’t tell if something is an l or an i or what? I actually went ahead and turned the word verification on here off so I can stop annoying people. Only problem is, then I got hit by 3 anonymous spam comments within the first 36 hours. So I have a favor to ask…I tried switching it again to the open ID comment with the verification still off, to block those anonymous comments. If you happen to comment on this, would you be so kind as to let me know if that worked to get the word verification off? I know I don’t have the most popular blog out there, and I’m ok with that….but when you regularly average in the single digits for number of comments, it’s a really big disappointment to have one of those comments be a spam ad for some awful website that you could never look at while at work or around small children or without riddling your computer with viruses. (So in other words, the kinds of websites I don’t want to go to anyway.) Thanks in advance for the help!

Edit, 3/10: New question for any of you who have turned off the word verification–have you been having weird issues with pop-ups since? I’ve noticed a definite increase in the number of pop-up windows in the last couple of days, since I initially turned it off. I have my computer running a virus scan as I type, but I’ve also had a lot of  extra notifications about tracking cookies and such. I can’t think of anything else I would have done in the last few days that would cause this, which makes me wonder if I should just set it back the way it was with the word verification, but I’m also not sure if it’s a case of the damage already being done. Thoughts?