I volunteer as tribute!

Did you see that the Sewcialists blog is up and running again? Hurrah! I was happy to see that the first challenge of the reboot was one that I could easily participate in, since I’ve been missing out on The Monthly Stitch left and right. This actually wasn’t my original idea, I had a plan to make a skirt, but it involved some pattern hacking and using uncertain fabric amounts. (I was going to use some leftovers, but I still need to fix a pair of leggings that I made back in January or so first, so I’m not sure how much fabric I actually have left.) But it’s ok, because I accidentally stumbled into another tribute!

I’m sure you all know and love Gillian, from Crafting a Rainbow. She really does have one of the most inspiring blogs out there, IMO, between her talent for getting really good sewing conversations going in her posts, and the fun challenges she’s put out there over the years. Like the sewing dares– I haven’t forgotten about the two that I’d gotten on the last round, by the way– and the Better Pictures Project. And, well, I may have blatantly copied one of her recent pieces, right down to the fabric. But, to be fair, she’s the one who suggested the pattern to me in the first place! And since she’s the one who got the Sewcialists rolling again, it’s only fitting to do the tribute to her.

IMG_5132 That’s right, I made the Jalie Vanessa pants. In the same tencel denim from Cali Fabrics. One of my biggest wardrobe holes right now is pants, since pretty much every pair I’d ever made or bought stopped fitting about five trimesters ago (may you rest in peace, oh pile of Thurlow pants in my refashion bin). And since I don’t want to teach my flute lessons in yoga pants– or, really, be the yoga pants mom at all, unless I’m actually exercising — I definitely needed some options. I was a little skeptical about the jogger pants idea, since I never really liked the look of sweatpants. And the elastic cuffs that were one of the options just remind me of growing up in the 80’s. (This is not a good thing, since I’ve never been a fan of that particular fashion decade. Needless to say, I went for the straight hem.) But I think these actually turned out okay.

IMG_5136 Besides, they have functional pockets, and that’s more than I can say for pretty much every pair of jeans or shorts that I managed to scrounge up at the thrift store.

I’m still not exactly sure what to wear them with, since the more relaxed fit means that looser tops are pretty much out. Ideally, I would have made a top to go with this as part of the outfit challenge, probably something from Cashmerette since that’s one of Gillian’s favorites. But you all know how slow I am at assembling anything these days, so I just pulled out one of my most colorful tops in a palette that seems to most closely fit Gillian’s. (My first Kirsten Kimono tee, even though it’s still overly snug on me.)

IMG_5140The walking out outtake actually was one of the better pictures! So styling questions aside, I will say that these pants are super-comfortable to wear. A big part of this was the fabric, I think. The tencel denim is really soft, and even though it developed an odd fuzzy look after the first wash, I haven’t had issues with the dye bleeding into my other stuff yet. I’m trying to figure out what might be some good options for a potential second pair sometime, since I feel like the challis it calls for would be too lightweight. Linen, maybe?

I was quite happy with this first Cali Fabrics order– I got this and a second piece of fabric that got turned into a scarf pretty quickly. I seriously doubt it will be my last order from them. (Just the last one this year, since Doug and I made a deal– I wouldn’t buy any more fabric this year if he stops buying Coke. The sacrifices one makes for love. )

Anyway, I’m happy to get to take part in this community again, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the next challenge is!

Oh, Darling…

Please believe me, I never meant to leave you on my Fall Essentials Sewalong list for three years straight…

Darling Ranges FrontOk, so my rewritten Beatles lyrics don’t quite fit the music. But it’s a small blessing in disguise that the dress did have to wait, because it would otherwise fall into the oh-so-frustrating category of “things I should be able to wear while nursing, but can’t.” Like all but two of the button-down shirts I own. On the other hand, my larger-than-usual measurements did prove challenging at times. I probably should have made a muslin. But since I have to fight for every second of sewing time these days, it’s hard to stomach the thought of not having anything to show for it in the end.

When I originally planned to make the Darling Ranges dress, I was going to make it in a medium. I had to bump that up to a large, but thankfully, I still had enough fabric. Barely. The biggest challenge, and one that took me a couple of naptimes to sort out, was fitting the bust darts. They’re oddly wide on the pattern, which should have been a hint to me that this might need some work, given how much effort it took me to sort that out when attempting to come up with an FBA for the Cambie dress back in the wedding sewing days. Since I didn’t want to waste this gorgeous fabric, I had to resort to lengthening the dart and kind of curving it in on the ends, because the original was leaving me with some very unflattering, saggy points. In this picture, the top diagonal line is the original dart. The lower line is how far out I had to drag it to make it work.

Darling Ranges Back I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this dress, to be honest. On the one hand, I love love love this fabric. And there’s something rather delightfully 90s about it, which is probably the fact that it’s kind of babydoll and in a challis.

But at the same time, I feel like this pattern would need quite a bit of work to get it where I would want it to be. Aside from tweaking the bust darts, it feels like the waist needs to be lowered about an inch or so in order to hit my natural waist. As it is, it’s hitting this odd spot between that and an empire waistline. The ties would need to be longer to accommodate my current embiggened state. I wasn’t happy with the front placket construction, since the lack of interfacing made it so my normally compliant machine gave me hell on the buttonholes, despite using paper underneath to try and compensate. And I do have some odd gapping on just one side of the neckline that I couldn’t quite work out. The one tweak I did make was to the length of the sleeves, cutting them down to just above my elbow instead of the 3/4 that they originally were. With the busyness of the print, I think that was the right move, so thanks to everyone I polled on Instagram/Twitter who helped me make the decision.

So I guess the question is, do I care enough about this pattern to put the work into altering it? I’m not sure yet. I’ve seen one variation that Megan Nielsen made where the waist seam and gathers were eliminated to make it more like a button-down tunic, and that style looks like it would be lovely for a particular piece of fabric that’s been in my stash for quite some time. But I would definitely need to reconcile that dart situation first, and I wonder if I’d be better off waiting until I have some time to play with a few other button-down patterns in my stash.

Action shotAlso, here’s my shot for this month’s installment of the Better Pictures Project, just under the wire. This month’s focus was on action shots. None of my spinning ones turned out well–I just couldn’t seem to get the timing down between when I was moving and when Doug was actually pressing the shutter button. So I went with my daily weightlifting instead. And I know this particular shot would have been better if the flash hadn’t gone off and left me with that shadow. But hey, cute baby accessory.

Since it took me this long to get a day where the light cooperated and I didn’t have to try to juggle Hobbit and the tripod on my own, I actually managed to (mostly) finish my other two FESA projects! So more on those next time.

it’s that time of year again!

Woohoo! I just wanted to take a few minutes and talk about my FESA plans for this year. Due to my current time constraints, I’m keeping it simple this year, and only committing to a handful of projects– after all, I also have a little Halloween costume that I’ve been mentally planning since, oh, last Christmas. So here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish…

Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather 
IMG_2813//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI have fabric that I think will work to finally try out the Cake Espresso leggings in two different colors, though after the disaster that was my last attempt at sewing leggings, I’m definitely double checking the stretch first this time! Assuming all is well, I plan to sew the black pair, because that will go with nearly all of the skirts I own that currently fit.  I’m most likely to wear them as tights with boots. (Honestly, based on my initial fiddling to check the stretch, I think this fabric will be too see-through to use them as anything else!)

Fabulous Frocks
IMG_2811//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsFor the third year in a row, I am putting the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress, in this very fall-appropriate rayon challis print, on my list. And I am determined that this is the year I’ll actually make it, dangit!!! After all, it looks like the perfect style for postpartum and nursing. I have managed to get the pattern traced, the fabric cut out, and the darts sewn so far. So third time is the charm, right?


Baby It’s Cold Outside
IMG_2812//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThis may be cheating, since I’ve been working on this particular project for over a month already. But I’ve been knitting a cowl (the Wine Country Cowl) out of some bulky yarn that I originally bought as the top part of a sweater that I’ve since abandoned the plan to knit. I could not figure out the very first steps of the pattern at all, and decided I didn’t like how the two yarns coordinated after all. “I can’t wear wool” substitution problems strike again. Anyway, I’m over halfway done this cowl, I think–it’s been one of my methods for coping with Hobbit’s penchant for napping best when on my lap and leaving me chair-bound for long stretches of time. Sadly, I think that my plan to use up the entire stash of this yarn isn’t going to work out, given its current length. Any suggestions for what else I can do with one or two balls of this stuff?

The nice thing is that if I finish all three of these projects, I’ll have one complete outfit! If I can get those and the costume done and still have time left, I have a fairly substantial mental list of additional projects that I could add in. But since I am unsure at this point what the greatest needs in my wardrobe will be, or what I’ll be most motivated to work on (SO important right now), I’ll just see how this goes first.

Sewing for boys: My Little Jedi

I have a feeling this is going to be a sporadic, ongoing series, at least while Hobbit is in the age range that I can sew things for him without him protesting. Because one of the first things I’ve learned about being a (future) boy mom who sews is that it’s a lot harder than it should be to find cute patterns/good fabric with boys in mind. I’m more hopeful about the patterns than I was initially, since recently finding an Ottobre magazine at the local Barnes & Noble/joining a Facebook group specifically focused on sewing for boys. But the fabric is still tough. Especially if I’m looking for anything that isn’t quilt cotton or doesn’t cost over $10 for just half a yard. (Which is all the fun prints I’ve found so far.)

Yoda shirtAll that to say, I made a baby shirt. And it’s geeky. Because that’s how I roll. (Though, for the record, I think this totally counts as gender-neutral. After all, girls like Star Wars, too!)

My fabric stash is going to be challenging to shop for boy clothes, because frankly, I don’t have a lot of stuff that suits–if the color is right, the fabric is usually wrong (too delicate/drapey/etc) and so on. So I was quite pleased that I was able to construct this shirt completely from my scraps! The black is leftover bamboo-blend rayon pieces from the maxi-dress I recently made, and the cream is some leftover scraps from a knit top I made years ago. I guess I’d been thinking they were large enough scraps that I could use them to attempt to make undies or something, and that’s why I still had them? But both pieces are very soft, which are perfect for baby wear. And since I used the same multi-piece pattern that I used for those hockey pants, this shirt was essentially free! I’m happy that I finished it within the SHB Sewalong timeframe, too.

Stencil closeupAs for the stencil, I remembered that I have a scrapbook cutting tool that will use any True Type font that I have on my computer to cut shapes. (Why didn’t I remember this when I was making those bibs last fall? Oh well…cutting those stencils was one of the only crafty things I was feeling up to at the time, anyway.) So I used that and some freezer paper to cut this Yoda quote out of a Star Wars-looking font. It worked pretty brilliantly, other than my evil, possessed ex-iron deciding to spew water all over the stencil when I ironed it on. The result was a little bleeding here and there where the fabric was still damp when I started working. It ended up being for the best, though– I used some other paint in my stash to outline the letters in yellow to help cover the messy bits up, and ended up liking it so much better with the pop of color than I did when it was plain black! I can still sort of see the parts where it had bled, especially around that comma, but it looks a lot better than it did.

Neckline detailThe one major change that I made to this pattern was the shoulder edging. The original instructions called for turning those little curved edges under and hemming them. That seemed rather fiddly to me, and like I’d just be setting myself up for rippling and frustration–especially given the state of my iron. So I cut an extra 1/4″ off each edge instead, cut some bias strips out of the black knit, and treated it more like a binding. So much easier, even with trying to stitch in the ditch around tiny curves to get the underside to stay in place, and I like the contrast better than I think I would have liked the plain cream.

I made this in the medium size, which looks like it corresponds roughly to somewhere in the 6-12 month range. Baby clothes sizing still baffles me, to be honest. I’ve actually resorted to hanging the onesies that I currently have in the closet by length, because they’re all supposed to be the same size, but they don’t look it at all! So I figured that if I go by length, I might be able to make faster guesses at what might fit him vs. not. Anyway, the point of all that is that I’m hoping this means he’ll still fit into this shirt next May 4th. Yes, I already made him a shirt for his first Star Wars Day. I already have his first Halloween costume plotted out, too. What’s your point?

On a side note, I’ve also learned that it’s almost impossible to find boy clothes with a sports theme that actually reference hockey. At least in the US–it’s all baseball and football and occasionally basketball. Since Doug only cares about hockey and especially dislikes baseball, we’ve actually been passing the sportsy hand-me-down clothes we’ve been given to a good friend of mine who’s due to have a boy about 6 weeks after me–clothes are all she’s needed, since she already has a young daughter, and her husband is a lot more into sports in general. Also, now that Doug knows I have a machine that will let us make custom stencils, he requested that I help him decorate one of the plainer onesies that we’ve had passed on to us. The result?

https://igcdn-photos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/t51.2885-15/11085068_1558879861044348_2079045648_n.jpgAccording to him, this font is one that gets used on some professional hockey gear. I did the machine set-up/ironing, he stenciled the black, and then I outlined it with the gold again so it would be closer to Pittsburgh Penguins colors. He had a lot of fun showing this one off to various local friends–we live in Flyers country, of course, and he likes trash-talking them–and I have a feeling he’ll want me to make more hockey-themed clothes in the future!

(Completely unrelated side note: Blogger is telling me this is my 900th post on here–crazy!)

dressed to the max(i)

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

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

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

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

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

Tutorial: Nursing dress adaptation with an invisible zipper

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

SuppliesYou’ll need:

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

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

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

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

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

To add the zipper:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zipper when opened

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

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

the March round-up, and April/May plans!

I’m really liking these monthly round-ups. Since I’ve been mostly doing finished project posts lately, it’s a good way to keep tabs both on my stashbusting attempts and the longer-term projects/quickies that don’t necessarily need individual posts.

Projects finished this month: 6 total. There was the diaper bag, the skirt and matching baby pants, the top I blogged the other day, and 2 more baby projects.

Project #1, with backstory: The bulk of the clothes I’ve gotten for Hobbit so far have been courtesy of my mother-in-law, who keeps finding people who are getting rid of baby boy stuff and snagging it for us. For the most part, it’s been like-new or very gently worn, so I think we’ll be able to use most of it–though I did send a stack of newborn onesies to the thrift store, because they were specifically labeled 5-8 pounds. Given the weight updates I’ve been getting at my ultrasounds, and the weights that both Doug and I were at when we were born, he’d probably fit those for a week, tops. And I also passed a few things on to one of my best friends, because neither Doug nor I cared about keeping the sports-themed clothes (they never have hockey anything on them and he doesn’t care about any other sport), she and her husband actually like football and stuff, and she’s due to have a boy about a month and a half after me–instant friend for Hobbit! Yay! She had a girl for her first baby, so all she really needs for this one is clothes, and I don’t mind sharing. Anyway. There were also a few things that I thought were generally cute, and mostly in good condition, except for some obvious staining around the necklines. I had a little mental battle between my cheapness thriftiness and not wanting to dress my kid in clothes with mystery stains that he didn’t make. Then I remembered that I can sew, and therefore I can still get some use out of this stuff!

So I took these cute-but-stained pajamas, and this organic cotton onesie that was in excellent condition, but a little boring. And I cut the frog applique off and hand-stitched it onto the onesie–I wasn’t sure how well my machine would navigate those little tiny openings, since the side seams were already closed up! (The only before picture I have was on my phone. Yes, that’s Doug playing with toys in the background–if you follow me on Instagram, you know all about my excellent thrift score on a box of K’Nex over the weekend!)

Ta-da! Much cuter onesie, in about 20 minutes. And I still have other unstained parts of the original pajamas left–maybe I can hack the legs and sleeves into a little hat or something?

Project #2: Since hockey apparently doesn’t count as a sport in the minds of people who design fabric for baby clothes, I’m having to get creative. After all, if I can make geeky stuff for the baby, I should accommodate Doug’s interests too, right? So I used some fabric left over from the one hockey bib that I made a few months ago to make a project that I promised I’d do.

He mostly gets flak for being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, since we live in Flyers country, but his other favorite team is the Colorado Avalanche, and it’s a lot harder to find pre-made anything for that team for some reason. Even on the internet. But I did find some quilt cotton. So now our kid has Avalanche pants. The pattern is Simplicity 1330, slightly adapted because I didn’t have the right size elastic and partially because I didn’t want to bother putting the elastic in the bottom of the legs. The waistband came out huge with the length they said to cut, too, and the casings weren’t cooperating well with my wider elastic, so I also cut a few inches off. Hopefully they’ll fit him ok–these are supposed to be 6-12 month. Otherwise, super-easy–I had these cut and completely sewn in an afternoon.

Stashbusting totals for the month: About 6 1/2 yards used up. I still need to figure out what to do with the rest of that Avalanche fabric, since I have maybe 1/4 yard left. I also bought 1 yard of quilt cotton from Jo-Ann’s, because it was another hockey-themed print, and I don’t see those often. Still, used more than I bought. So yay! Total for the year so far: 27.75 yards down, just under 360 still here.

The in-progress stuff: The good news is that the newborn and small-sized diapers are completely done! I just need to finish up with the mediums, and my mom got a good chunk of that done. So I just need to finish with leg elastic and snaps. It’s definitely easier (and less boring) doing that sort of assembly-line sewing with someone else. As for my Lord of the Rings-themed quiet book, I haven’t made as much progress on that, since a nice chunk of the time I’d normally be spending on that was spent on diaper snap installation. But I have finished up to page 5 of (I think) 11, aside from machine-sewing the backing page on two of them, and am working on the 6th. So I’m about halfway there.

How I did with March’s goals: Well, the diaper bag is done, and I managed to make 2 pieces of clothing for myself instead of one, so I did well! I haven’t actually started that massive cooking project yet, save making a massive grocery list and at least figuring out which recipes to start with. But that is definitely on the agenda for this month, since I decided that it would be better to wait until closer to the time that we would actually be eating this food. Less freezer burn that way.

April’s plans (and beyond): 
SHBsewalongbadge2 

I mentioned this sewalong in my last post, and since everything I’m sewing right now fits one of the three categories, the timing is perfect! I’m not entirely certain what order I’ll end up making things in, so I’m just going to list all of the sewing that I’m hoping to get done before June by category, and see what actually happens.

1) Baby Clothing
Not 100% sure of my plans here yet, though I do have some things set aside and some ideas.

  • I have a few knit scraps pulled out that should be just enough to make a baby t-shirt. I’m also planning on freezer paper stenciling it since both fabrics are plain–with a geeky reference, of course! 
  • I do have two more partially useable free baby clothes that could also get the refashion treatment. 
  • I also have a couple of patterns lying around that would be fun to try out. Including one for adorable soft-sole baby shoes, and a button-down shirt one that I recently acquired. I even have an old work shirt of Doug’s hiding in my refashion bin that I can use for fabric, and I think it would be cute (and free!) to cut down Daddy’s old shirts for little boy clothes!
  • And I guess finishing up those diapers can count as clothes, right? I mean, he has to wear them…

 
 2) Baby Accessories and Other Items, such as quilts, toys, burp cloths, bibs, etc.
I should be solid on bibs and burp cloths, mostly thanks to my mom!

  • But I do want to make a portable changing mat to go in the diaper bag, since I have fabric left over from that. 
  • I have a scrap quilt in-progress, which I’m planning on just using as a throw-on-the-floor play mat, but that’s probably lowest on my priority list right now. (A, he won’t be able to sit up for awhile, and B, that might be an ideal project to work in 5 minutes of sewing here and there shortly after he’s born, since it’s all stitching strips onto blocks.) 
  • The quiet book definitely counts as a toy, and I did get some suggestions about maybe turning the rest of that Avalanche fabric into a stuffed toy, via the Stashbusting Sewalong group on Facebook.
  • I also have leftover towel fabric from when I made a baby gift (for the same friend mentioned earlier) a couple of years ago, so I’d like to see if I can squeeze a hooded towel out of it. 

3) For Parents

  • I have one more nursing/maternity maxi I want to make, as mentioned in my last post. I think that, for ease/speed of assembly, I’m going to just mash up the Tiramisu bodice, which I’ve already made twice and I know has some room for expansion, and the already-altered Simplicity skirt pattern from the black dress.  Which means that I’ll probably do the invisible zipper nursing alteration trick again, so maybe a tutorial post will happen?
  • As mentioned in my last post, I may give that Megan Nielsen pattern another go, with a few tweaks, since I’ll need something sleeveless for the hot days too. 
  • Given the colors of either project, I can also use the scraps to alter a not-quite-nursing bra that I picked up recently. The straps are the type that can snap closed in the front, so it just needs a little tweaking. 
  • I also need to make myself a nursing cover. I’m pretty sure I know which stashed quilting cotton will be sacrificed for this cause, I just need to do it. 

Hopefully this isn’t too overly ambitious. But I’m determined to cram in as much time with my sewing machine as I can now, because I suspect it’ll be hard to do for awhile!

it’s the time of the season

Happy spring, right? Here in the good old Mid-Atlantic, ours started with winter trying to get in one last sucker punch! I think it’s time for a breakup with cold weather, because I am OVER winter clothes. I know I say that every single year, but with my currently limited wardrobe choices, it’s even worse. I’ve been wearing the same 2 pairs of pants (with the jeans mixed in as I can) and the same 3 cardigans almost every single day. And my one purchased winter maternity top is looking rather dingy and sad. I guess that’s what I get for buying a cream sweatery-looking top.

That being said, with the limited window I have remaining in which making clothes for myself to wear throughout the rest of this pregnancy still has a point, I’m trying to focus on things that will carry me through the spring and into the summer. And, hopefully, still be wearable afterwards.

Tie dye maternity skirt frontEnter my new maxi-skirt! The fabric is a luscious-feeling bamboo-rayon jersey blend, part of the mini-stash of knits that my parents gave me for Christmas. It took me a lot of thinking initially about whether this fabric wanted to be a skirt or a top, but once I realized that I only have 2 pairs of non-jeans maternity pants left that still fit (I’ve outgrown the third, which were a little small on me when I first chopped them into maternity pants), and they’re both reconstructed corduroy pants, a warmer-weather friendly piece of bottomwear won out.

This month’s Stashbusting Sewalong theme is sewing with patterns that you already have. So I based this skirt rather loosely on Simplicity 7229, which I’ve used a few times before for skirts and capri pants. (I’m having to link this to my Pinterest since it’s out of print, so hopefully it’ll work!) The original skirt is pretty basic– the two pieces for the front and back are the same, and it has a wide yoke with a drawstring top. I’d always made it in wovens before, but here’s the changes (aside from knit fabric) that I made to make it more maternity-friendly:

    skirt full panel

  • Added several inches to the length of the front/back pieces. Which I actually did the last time I made this pattern, because the original pattern was this awkward mid-calf length, and I ended up hating that and chopping off the previously made skirts to a shorter length.
  • I did also have to narrow that at the bottom a bit, because my fabric wasn’t quite wide enough to accommodate the extra width. But since it’s stretchy, that’s ok. Especially since I’m starting to get into the waddle phase and my steps aren’t quite as big as they used to be.
  • While I used the yoke/drawstring waistband pieces to get a general idea of how wide to cut it, I replaced that with a slightly skinnier but much longer rectangular piece. The idea is that I can use it to cover up the baby bump for now–the over-bump stuff sits on me way better than under-bump stuff, which just feels awkward and like it’s constantly on the verge of falling down. It’s a little loose at the very top of the band, around the rib area. But I’m not too worried about it.

skirt yoga waistband

    It folds down into a yoga-style waistband, so I’m hoping that it’ll be snug enough that I can wear this skirt once I’m a little smaller around the waist again, too! It’s obviously hard to tell how that will work right now, but a girl can dream, right? 

    Overall, I’m really pleased with how this adaptation worked out, and how fast it was to sew together! I did all of it, including cutting out, in 2 sewing sessions. Which is pretty speedy for me. Depending on how this works out to wear afterwards, this just may be how this skirt pattern ends up getting used from now on. It’s so tempting to find more of this type of knit and whip out a few more! But I have several pieces of knit that I still want to make other clothes out of to wear in the meantime, so I shall try to restrain myself.

    I used up pretty close to a full 2 yards on this. As an added bonus, I had just enough fabric left to make a little something for the Hobbit! We’re actually doing pretty well with collecting baby clothes so far, largely thanks to my mother-in-law, who’s brought over multiple bags of things that neighbors and acquaintances were getting rid of.  At least, we’re doing pretty well with onesies and pajamas. What seems to be largely lacking is pants. Given his nickname, all I can think of is that old Lord of the Rings movie meme where certain words get substituted with “pants”. The most famous being…

    Which never fails to crack me up, but Hobbit is going to need some pants eventually. So I made some.

    tie dye leggingsThe pattern was a freebie that I found on Craftsy, the Go To Baby Leggings. I wasn’t entirely sure about tie-dyed pants for a boy, but a few kind sewcialists on Instagram talked me into it, and I hope these actually end up fitting him because I think they turned out pretty cute! I made these in the 3-6 month size–partially because lightweight jersey pants going into the fall make sense, and partly because I literally did not have enough fabric left to make them any bigger. Doug was pretty impressed, I think–I cut and sewed these in their entirety on Thursday, along with finishing the skirt, and his instant reaction was that they were adorable and I should post them on Facebook. Always a good sign. I wish I knew how they were actually going to fit him, because I had these cut out and sewn together entirely in basically no time! But at least I have the pattern tested, so if it works out, I can always fall back on this as a quick project while he naps or something.

    black is the new red

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          administrative details

          Just two quick things today:

          1. Since the sidebar widget I had for my finished projects hasn’t let me add anything to the list since May (really, Blogger?!), I finally got fed up and reworked the page for what’s in my closet to take care of that. It’s just a big link list now, since trying to figure out how to add that many pictures would take forever, given that this is on the older side for sewing blogs. But I did at least organize it between what’s in my closet/what isn’t in my closet anymore/stuff I made for other people/etc.

          Incidentally, I’m kind of surprised at how old certain items in my closet are now. Like that black military jacket I made back in 2006–whaaaat? I guess that explains why the lining is tearing. I’m also wondering how many of those current closet residents will get to stay around post-baby, but I guess it’s too early to worry about that.

          https://sewadagio.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/dc0ec-stashbusting2bsewalong2bchallenge2bbutton2b2015.png

          2. Since I ended up with significantly more yardage than I started last year with, and the Facebook group is really fun, I’m doing the Stashbusting Sewalong again. With all new themes and a bunch of new hosts! I didn’t volunteer to host a month because, you know, baby stuff, but best of luck to all you ladies who are participating! So here’s my pledge for this year, which I kept really simple:

          I, Becky, will endeavor to end 2015 with less yarn and fabric than I started this year with, and to only buy notions as needed for specific projects.  I shall also try to limit the number of new patterns I buy for myself this year. 

          To avoid stressing myself out, I purposely am not doing a number of yards/pieces of fabric type pledge this year, since I have no idea what sort of wrenches being pregnant and having a newborn will continue to throw into my sewing. And I did also specify limiting patterns for myself, because I’m sure I’m going to want to start collecting a few kids’ patterns. I do have a few from things I’ve made for friends before, and whatever’s in my Burda magazines, but not a whole lot to pick from in my pre-existing stash. If Hobbit cooperates, we should see if we’re having a boy or a girl in less than two weeks, which I’m getting quite excited to find out!

          And with that, I guess I’d better finish practicing my flute so I have a shot at actually cutting something out today. Yeah.