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.

a little safari shirt

The first couple of projects after Padawan was born were rough. Two things that I cut out while still pregnant ended up not really fitting well. Another thing didn’t have finished garment measurements and ended up too big. But since all three involved navy blue thread, I figured this would be a good time to knock out a kid’s project before Hobbit outgrew the amount of fabric, so I could take a break from fitting myself. And since he’s turning 2 today, it seemed like a good day to  share!

20170618_112708So how do you  get a clothing-averse toddler to model? Bribe him with food. (I took these photos on my phone while we were out to lunch for Father’s Day on Sunday. This is about as still as Hobbit gets while awake! I’m just glad he kept the shirt on for these pictures, honestly. He’s begging for them to come off every chance he gets these days.)

This is the “Be Cool” tee from the Spring 2015 issue of Ottobre. Obviously, without the extra time of adding the applique. I’m on the hunt for a good, basic tee pattern that I can use as the boys get older, but I’m not convinced that this one is it.

20170618_113635 The pro: It was super-easy to make, especially now that I have a coverstitch machine. I was able to knock this one out in about 3 sewing sessions, which is really good for me these days. (My sewing sessions don’t even last 10 minutes sometimes, since I’m at the mercy of that lovely little Venn diagram of that time when both boys are napping.)

The con: Apparently I’m that stereotypical dumb American who can’t work the metric system. I had a printout that converted the centimeters to inches, specifically for their size chart. But either I measured something wrong, or my sleep-deprived brain read something wrong on the chart, because this thing ended up huge. It doesn’t look it here, because I learned from my mistake on a shirt that I haven’t managed to blog yet (ha!) and recut this down to size when I realized it was going to be ridiculously big on him.

20170618_113237 He’s currently right on that edge of outgrowing 24 month clothes/2T, so I figured I’d make this shirt about a 3T so he’ll get more use out of it before it gets passed down to his little brother. After initially cutting out a size 104 on the toddler chart– what I believed was one size up from his measurements– I compared it to a hand-me-down 3T shirt we were given and ended up cutting it down to the size 92. As you can see, the shoulders are still way too wide for him, with that shoulder seam falling a couple inches too low on his arm.

20170618_114857That being said, the length of the shirt overall is pretty good. He’s got his arms raised up here, and the waistband is still covered. So I don’t know if Hobbit is just skinny and tall for his age, or what?

The fabric is a knit of unknown origin, that my parents gave me for Christmas 2015 to make a shirt for him. Hobbit has been on an animal kick for awhile, and definitely recognized several of the animals on here, even if he still names them by the noise they make rather than what they’re actually called. I didn’t need to worry about him outgrowing my yardage, as it turns out, because I easily have enough of this left to cut the main parts of a raglan tee in a larger size. I thought about making something matching for Padawan, but we just have soooooo many baby clothes that I’d rather use my limited time to cover the larger sizes where we actually need things. At least, until he’s old enough to get jealous, if he even cares about getting new clothes vs. hand-me-downs.

As for the ribbing, I harvested it off of one of my tees after I realized that the navy blue ribbing I bought looks really purple next to the background of this fabric. Sadly, several of my favorite geeky tees are just too short/tight after two pregnancies this close together. So my plan is to recycle those into something useful so I can keep the graphics (eventually), and in the meantime, I got a much nicer contrast ribbing for free.

So my quest for the perfect basic boys’ tee pattern continues. I do have another one to try out, so stay tuned…

Year-end wrap up

Since it’s time to tie up the loose ends of 2016, here’s a few unblogged projects, my stashbusting update, and some exciting updates to my sewing space!

Unblogged project #1: Hobbit’s Christmas shirt. I had just barely enough of this homespun type plaid that one of my grandma’s friends offloaded onto me, and I did have to supplement a bit with some plain black. Most of it was straightforward sewing, especially since it is a larger size of the same pattern that I used for his first birthday shirt. The one place I did have trouble was the sleeve placket. I don’t know if it was the particular method given in the instructions, or pregnancy brain, or what, but I could not make sense of how this was actually supposed to work! And I know I ended up doing it wrong– the inside of the placket is so wonky, and there is absolutely no way I would have been able to add the button mid-placket that the instructions called for, even if I hadn’t opted to go with the more casual buttonless look. I couldn’t find any pattern help for this part online, so I’m definitely going to have to do a practice run or find another method before I make the long sleeved version of this pattern again!

Unblogged project #2: I made another batch of diapers, using some PUL prints that I was given last Christmas for this purpose. It more or less took me literally all year to sew these, because I just worked them in between all of my other projects. But I’m hoping that this will be the largest I have to go, since Hobbit will be getting to an age where I can attempt toilet training next year. I can’t say I’m entirely done with diaper sewing, because a friend gave me some brand name adjustable size covers that she didn’t need, and I’ll need to make some inserts so I can use them as backups for either boy when I’m behind on laundry. But I’m getting close, and that’s nice. Now I just need to figure out some use for these large scraps that the oddly shaped pieces left behind!

The stash update: I started the year with around 426 yards of fabric, and ended with around 394. It’s finally going down! It looks like I used a total of close to 61 yards this year, and acquired about 30 1/2. Admittedly, about 17 yards of that was Christmas gifts this year, but I already have specific plans for most of those pieces due to the wardrobe holes that my mom knew about. She’s good like that. My stashbusting plan for this year is to donate several pieces that I just don’t think I can use, mostly pieces that other people destashed onto me that aren’t necessarily my taste. And then sew as much as the boys let me. I will have to purchase for a couple of specific projects, namely nursing bras/my coat lining/Halloween costumes, but I do want to focus on using what I have as much as I can.

Right now, I’ve been busy going through my jewelry supplies and drastically downsizing. Then I’ll have to tackle fabric, yarn and scrapbook paper. But I’m hoping I can get the room cleared and my new space set up as quickly as I can, because I have all of these pretty new fabrics and patterns, plus new toys to play with! Doug surprised me with a coverstitch machine for Christmas (eeeeeee!), and my mom recently informed me that she’s passing on one of her extra sewing machines to me, since she has multiple of those on hand. So I’m getting a newer model Bernina! My workhorse from the late 80s-early 90s is still running fine, aside from that one incident where the electric went out in the middle of my wedding dress, but I have to admit that it’ll be nice to have an actual stretch stitch that isn’t guessing at zigzags. And, well, a light on my machine that works, since that one has been useless for probably a decade. We’re still trying to sort out how exactly to configure the new space, but the most likely option at this point is to buy a wardrobe to store our clothes in the main part of the room, and then set up my sewing machines in the walk-in closet so that we can close the door and keep Hobbit away from all of the sharp pointy things. (As well as his little brother, who will henceforth be known here as Padawan, once he’s starting to get mobile.)

Sashiko Archer

Taking a break from the top 5s to actually show something new–I finally finished the second of the two personal projects that I started before I knew I was pregnant. The nice thing about this one is that I can still wear it! For now, at least.

Grainline ArcherThe pattern is the Grainline Archer shirt, and I’m probably the last user of indie sewing patterns on the internet to take this one on. I’ve had the pattern and fabric for awhile, but timely sewing is not my forte these days! And I’ll admit that part of what delayed it was fear of being bored. Not with the pattern itself, but the fabric was just plain ol’ navy blue. Not the most exciting.

An issue of Seamwork’s online magazine earlier this year was just the inspiration I needed to finally get this one started. There was a feature on sashiko embroidery. And since the fabric had been listed as a Japanese linen, it sounded like the perfect canvas to give it a try! So I splurged on actual sashiko thread and needles, found a design online that looked doable (plus I liked that it does kind of look like arrow fletchings, given the name of the pattern), and got to work.

IMG_4605The embroidery was definitely the most time consuming part of sewing this shirt together, but I genuinely enjoyed the process. Once I got the hang of spacing the stitches, it was a great project to just chill and catch up on a show while Hobbit napped. Having the right kind of needle definitely helped! I think I would revisit this technique sometime. Either for embellishment, or I’ve seen an amazing example of visible jeans mending that uses the sashiko technique. I’d almost want to use it on brand new jeans! (You know, whenever my weight stabilizes enough that I feel like I can actually go through the jeans fitting process again.) I put it on the collar, cuffs and back yoke, and then had a little fun with trying a different design for sewing on the buttons. (Arrows, because I’m seriously geeky like that.)

IMG_4575So let’s talk about the fit, shall we? I’m honestly having mixed feelings. On the one hand, yay for something new that still fits! On the other hand, I’m not entirely satisfied with the look. Probably a big part of it is that I did size up– I had enough foresight to use the bust measurement I had back when I was nursing Hobbit full time, so this fitting after the next baby should be no issue at all! But that does make it super boxy around my shoulders and arms, and not in a good way.

IMG_4597I mean, look how much extra fabric there is around my arms here!

I do have fabric, thread, and even buttons to make a flannel version, which I’d like to tackle before April so I have it for fall and cooler spring days. But I definitely need to do some tweaks to this pattern first. I can’t really think about anything below my ribs for fitting at the moment, other than maybe adding some length so it covers my hips better, and that those weird bubbles around my waist when I raise my arms will probably disappear once I’m not doing the baby belly thing, I hope? But I am considering if there’s anything I can do for the sleeves in the meantime. I’m good with the length of them, because I can raise my arms into flute playing position and my wrists are still covered perfectly. But the shoulders are dropped about an inch too low, so I need to figure out if there’s a way to get that back onto my shoulders without changing the depth of the armhole. That hits in a good spot.

I could also definitely stand to slim down the arms some, because I can seriously push the sleeves fully above my elbows without unbuttoning. (Granted, part of that is that I was completely guessing at buttonhole placement when I did the embroidery, so it’s out too far. But still.)

IMG_4585So, all in all, maybe not the most flattering look…but then, not much is when you’re halfway through a pregnancy (see bump), rarely getting enough sleep because your toddler still isn’t sleeping through the night, and got stuck wearing glasses for a couple of weeks. (I know, positive body image and all that, but the truth is, I’ve always felt more confident when wearing contacts vs. glasses.) But it’s wearable, and I really am proud of the embroidery and the overall construction. I’ll need to figure out how to style it post-bump, too, since literally the only non-maternity pants that I own that sort of fit before this are one pair of black pants for performances, and one pair of blue jeans. I do have some grey denim to make jeans that I got specifically with this outfit in mind, but then we’re back to that confidence in jeans fitting while trying to lose weight… yeah.

Top 5 Misses of 2016

While I did have some things I made this year that I really liked, my output this year also definitely had its “meh” moments. So here’s the things that just didn’t quite work out as planned…again, all things made for me, and more or less chronological.

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IMG_3415 1. The pajamas that look like hospital clothes. I mean, I still wore them regularly enough, because they’re pajamas, and I needed them. And I guess they could be worse. But the tea dyeing experiment was a total fail, the pants are actually too long and I never bothered to fix them even though I’m constantly in danger of tripping on them, and the shirt is just a total frump fest. Definitely more the pjs that scream “I don’t care today” than the ones you wear to feel both cute and comfy. It’s sad, since my first pair of Sewaholic Tofino pj pants turned out cute and comfy. But at least I got some fabric out of my stash, right?

Appleton Dress

 

 

2. My first version of the Cashmerette Appleton dress. The dress itself isn’t too bad, though I wasn’t exactly happy with the wrap skirt and what felt like a lack of guaranteed coverage to me. Elastic makes it work, but I shouldn’t have to engineer internal straps just to be sure my basic knit dress will stay closed, you know? Honestly, I think the biggest miss on this was the fabric. I hardly ever wear red, or such a pinky shade of coral, and I’m really not sure what my brain was thinking when I picked up this coupon of fabric in Paris. Probably something along the lines of “la vie en rose.” I’m dorky like that. My machine deciding it hates hemming ITY didn’t really help. I wore it a few times, and I’ll probably wear it again once I can, but I still like my previously mentioned second version soooo much better.

20160717_192224_LLS IMG_4227

3 and 4 are both versions of the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee that I made this year. Nothing against the pattern, since my previous version turned out great and I still wore it a lot while I could this year. Both of these were also fabric issues, I think– the coral was just too thin and didn’t have enough give, which caused the neckline to go all wonky. And the ivory one was just a pattern hack gone wrong for the clinginess that the knit ended up having. Especially around my waist and hips. Again, I still wore both of these, and will probably continue to do so after nursing. At least, until I get around to replacing these two basics with something better. I have other priorities I need to get to first. (Or maybe I’ll just straighten out the hemline on the ivory one, at least. That might help.) My biggest frustration is really that this is supposed to be such a simple, basic pattern, and I screwed it up twice in a row.

IMG_4388 5. The hippie-esque shirt that was nearly the last thing for myself that I made this year. As mentioned in the post, it’s partially a victim of bad timing– I’ve outgrown it for now, and won’t be able to really give it a chance until I’m done with nursing the new baby. But this one also has much to do with the fabric itself, specifically the colorway. Beigey tan reeeeeeally isn’t my best look. But it was deep stash, and at least it’s out.

How did you all do this year? Anything supposedly simple that went very wrong?

Top 5 hits of 2016

This is actually going to be a little more challenging than I thought. Mostly because I just realized that, counting one shirt that I haven’t posted yet, I’ve only made 13 things for myself this entire year! But the end of year roundup that Gillian hosts is always fun, so here I go anyway…

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I’m mostly just sticking to things I made for myself, and am just going to do these more or less chronologically, since it’s easier to scroll through Flickr that way. And I’m all about keeping it simple these days with blogging!

Top 5 Hits:

Deer & Doe Plantain Raglan hack 1. My raglan Plantain hack. One of my recurring goals in sewing is to successfully alter my patterns for new looks, and this is one of the examples that actually worked out. Another recurring goal of mine is to make colder weather clothes that actually have color, since I find those much cheerier to wear on the dreary, grey days that are all too common during our Mid-Atlantic winters! This also counts as both stashbusting and refashioning, since the paisley was recycled from a shirt I’d cut out long ago but would never fit my post-baby body, and the teal was stash leftovers from my other Plantain. I’ve worn this one regularly, even into my second trimester, and have gotten several compliments on it from strangers. So that’s always a win.

 

 

Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt

2. My Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt was also a winner. Our fall was oddly hot well into November this year, so I didn’t have a huge window of opportunity to wear things that had longer sleeves, even rolled up with lightweight fabric. But it did get multiple wears, and actually fit through my first trimester. It’s another one where the cheery color makes me happy, and look, I’m already on trend for the Pantone color of next year! As long as I can find a good nursing camisole to wear underneath, I think this one will also get a good bit of wear once baby boy 2 makes his appearance, and I’ve got this pattern earmarked to make at least one more version, once I get fabric with sufficient yardage to do so.

Black Appleton

3. My basic black Cashmerette Appleton dress. A musician can never go wrong with black, especially now that I’m in the community orchestra and playing concerts on a more regular basis again. This was my second version of the Appleton this year, with a few alterations to make it more wearable for me. I’m also very happy with how my sleeve hack turned out. This is another good nursing-friendly pattern, so once I get my smaller belly back, it’ll probably see a lot more use too!

20160501_152843_LLS

 

 

 

 

4. This entire outfit. I’ll revisit this in a future post, but one of my goals for this year was to start making some more mini capsules for my wardrobe. Actually, this fabric combination was my specific photographic example, so it’s nice to see that I actually finished it within the year! Both of the two visible pieces are Seamwork patterns, and ones that will be likely revisitied in the future. I’m also wearing Cake Patterns Espresso leggings that I sewed this past year, and those have become a staple piece. (The tank top underneath the mint sweater wasn’t as successful, but that’s not the point of this post.) I’m not sure how much wear this outfit as a whole will get next year, but I still may be able to work in the skirt if I can come up with an easier nursing top. I am actually still able to wear this pair of leggings now, though!

IMG_42695. This dress, at least once I turned it backwards. It’s comfortable, the print is fun, I pretty much nailed the stripe matching, and it’s basically everything that a summer maxidress should be. Again, sadly, I doubt I’ll get much use out of it during this upcoming year. But I wore it a lot during the warm weather, and I have no doubt that this will make it back into the rotation once baby feeding allows.

Bonus kid make: The top thing this year was definitely the BB-8 hoodie. Even if’s already nearly met its demise by grass stains (which I got out) and odd color bleeding (which I’m not entirely sure was from the orange itself, since it’s only on one side. I need to fix this with some white paint.)

untimely sewing

Oh, hi again! I seem to be having trouble keeping up with actually taking photos for this thing, aside from bad phone selfies. So here’s another post of summarizing an entire month’s work in one fell swoop! Because, really, it’s just one project.

IMG_4388I thought I was soooo on top of things for fall sewing. I mean, I cut this shirt out in the beginning of August, and I actually did finish it in September. I just wasn’t expecting it to take 6 or so weeks to make a fairly simple shirt from a pattern that I’ve used before, you know? This was one of the shirts that got delayed because of things like tea dyeing trim not working, and running out of thread in close enough colors. But hey, I busted some stash. And it’s stash that’s been around for a decade or more. So yay for that.

Of course, after all that, I got to wear it all of once, and have no idea when I can wear it again. After all, though this fabric is a lightweight one, and the sleeves have plenty of ventilation, it’s also polyester. And it took until pretty much this week to stop being in the 80s or more all the time.

Also, this happened.
IMG_4382Yeah, that’s right… I found out pretty much right after I cut this thing out that, guess what, I’m pregnant again! And the bump is definitely more obvious earlier this time. I just hit the second trimester as of today, but I’ve already been digging into my maternity clothes for about 3 weeks now. I’ve still been able to wear some other things, like my Sewaholic Rae skirt and my Espresso leggings that I’ve paired with this shirt for my photos. The leggings are still super-comfy, but the elastic waistbands on the Rae skirts are getting annoying to wear because there’s just nowhere good to put the waistband anymore. So I guess those are also going to be shuffled aside until the late spring. (I’m due mid-April this time.)

IMG_4389

 

This was one of the best shots I could get of the sleeve, working on my own with the tripod, and you can see the back a little here too. So here’s the details:

The pattern is Simplicity 5595, which I’ve made a few times before. I made a few small tweaks to it. Mostly adding a bit of flare to the sides so I could add several inches of length, because while the ones I’ve made before still fit (or, well, fit about 2 months ago), the changes in my figure over the last couple of years mean that they’re just a little short for my comfort. They work with camisoles underneath, but I didn’t want to have to restrict myself to that with this one. I also made my usual change of adding length to the sleeves to accommodate my monkey arms, but it was barely enough. They do hit my wrists, but if I move my arms into anything other than just at my sides, they look a little short. Oh well.

One construction change that I made was the original pattern called for just letting the sleeves flop open underneath that middle row of lace. But I wanted mine to stay in place a little better, since I’ve been doing a lot of little toddler-friendly activities with Hobbit that sometimes involve messy materials, and the floppy sleeve bit would just be annoying for things like cooking dinner. So I used a third row of lace to keep the slit together at the wrists. And I think I’ll like it much better that way.

This isn’t my favorite iteration of this shirt, especially as the color palette is along the lines of “what was I thinking”. (Note to self: in the future, avoid prints with backgrounds that are essentially your skin tone.) But it pairs pretty well with this skirt, which seems to be one that I’ve oddly had trouble putting together outfits with, considering it’s neutral. And I’m guessing it’ll probably fit again at some point, so maybe it’ll get more than one use?

So my total for September was about 2 1/2 yards out. And about 1 1/2 yards in that I bought for a baby gift for one of my cousins. But that is already sewn up and will be out the door this weekend, so I’m not counting that for stash!