sneaky snacky stripes

So I made another Plantain top, which is the third one I’ve made within the last two months. (The first being the sequin top from the last post, and the second being a pajama top that I have yet to photograph. Soon, I hope.)


By this point, there’s really not a whole lot to say about the pattern, given that this shirt has become one of my TNTs. The finishing is another story, because I could not get my coverstitch to cooperate for much longer than it should have. After some fiddling with the dials, and some DMing back and forth with Brooke, (thanks, Brooke!) I realized that the reason it kept skipping stitches had more to do with the stitch length than the tension, and that I’d been reading the diagram next to that dial backwards for the entire year or so that I’ve owned that machine. *facepalm* But hopefully now that I know that, using my coverstitch will go more smoothly! I can be excused for sleep deprivation on this learning curve, right?


Outtake photo time! (Hi, Padawan!) My biggest complaint for years when it comes to my winter wardrobe is that everything is so drab. And then somehow, I still end up wearing a lot of black and grey and looking like an unhappy little raincloud. (Because rain in the winter is the worst, and that’s the precipitation we get much more frequently than snow.) So I made a shirt out of happy, springy colors instead. With trees and birds and squirrels. Take that, winter! I got this fabric for Christmas about two years ago, and originally meant to make a nursing-hacked Renfrew out of it. But then my experiment flopped, and I realized that the Plantain would be a better fit anyway because I’d have to do much less pattern matching without the bands. As a result of the switch, I have about a third of a yard left of my original two. And that was after some very careful stripe matching.


Yes, stripes! I’m totally counting this for the Sew Stripes theme on the Sewcialists blog.  They’re just subtle, that’s all. Board games are a favorite activity around here, when the boys let us, and we’ve started collecting a few preschool games now that Hobbit is getting closer to that magical age that they actually start making games for. One of the ones we’ve gotten is called The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. We haven’t played that one with him yet, since we’re still working on the concept of taking turns and figured our one cooperative game would be less frustrating for him in that. (He is only 2, after all.) But it turns out that sneaky snacky squirrel also lives in this fabric print, munching acorns under the plain trees, and that makes a stripe!

Speaking of Hobbit, he was pretty fascinated by this shirt when he noticed the print, while I was wearing it today. The conversation went something like this…

Hobbit: (Pointing at my shirt) Trees!

Me: Yes, there’s trees. What else do you see?

Hobbit: Skirrels and acorns!

Me: Good! Is there anything in the trees, too?

Hobbit: Chickens!


Last outtake shot, since Padawan was much happier for this photoshoot with me holding him. And Hobbit decided my lens cap was an eyepatch. Anyway. I suspect I’ll be wearing this shirt a lot as I drag my feet through the rest of this winter, both for the happy colors and because it’s one of the few long-sleeved things that seem to go with my teal jeans. Weird, since teal is basically a neutral for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about capsule wardrobes over the last few months, and that it would be fun to try one of those 4×4 style ones. And this whole teal/seafoam/ivory color scheme seems like it might be a good one to build off of! Especially since I also have another jersey that I got at the same time that builds on these same colors, with a little brown and mustard thrown into the mix. Now that one will become a Renfrew, I think, though I’m not sure when. Silly me, I’m trying to do deadline sewing again for the #dayandnightdresschallenge, and running out of time! (At least I need the one dress I have cut out anyway.) This idea may need to be revisited.

Also soon to come, I hope, posts about the other multiple projects I have yet to photograph! Specifically, a coat and three sets of pajamas. I’ve been shockingly productive so far this year!


bling a ling

Just in time for Valentine’s Day…let’s talk about a Christmassy project! Because I’m super backlogged like that.

You all know that feeling where you look in your closet and you feel like you don’t have anything to wear, right? That was me at the end of December. (Well, honestly, it’s been me a lot since I started having to purge so many of my handmade clothes out of my wardrobe.) But anyway. My husband and I got invited to a couples’ party between Christmas and New Year’s, and while we were discussing possible babysitting arrangements and such, I realized that I literally had nothing to wear to this party. It’s not like they specified formalwear, but I’ve been so focused on basics, and nursing-friendly tops, and things I could wear to teach in, that I did not own a single thing that would work for a party in the freezing cold dead of winter.

IMG_5651So I decided to do something risky, especially given my usual sewing pace these days (see name of blog): attempt to sew myself a new garment before the night of the party. And I actually did it!

Thankfully, I have one knit TNT left to me after all of my baby-induced sizing changes: the Deer & Doe Plantain top. And I remembered I had a half yard of sequined mesh that was gifted to me during a fellow sewists’ destash. (I’m honestly blanking on who it was, since mommy brain is totally a real thing, so my apologies to the lovely woman who sent it!) I’d paired it off with a piece of this grassy green polyester jersey almost right away, thinking to make it into one of the now out of print Simplicity tops from their Project Runway line. That top never materialized (no pun intended), but I thought I could maybe get the Plantain to work. After a quick Instagram poll to get some suggestions on how best to utilize my precious shinies, in which the consensus was the front of the shirt option, I figured out a way to make it work with the mesh’s 2 way stretch that wasn’t wide enough to cut the front.

IMG_5657So I cut the mesh into wide strips, overlapped them slightly, and used the stretch stitch to sew them into tiers on the front of the jersey. I didn’t bother to hem any of them, as I wanted to avoid drawing attention to the piecing. The result does make me think a little of flapper dresses, but it worked. And I only broke one needle doing it! Then I trimmed the sequins out of the seam allowances, cut a wider strip of the jersey to sew to the bottom so I wouldn’t have to worry about hemming through the sequins (inspired by the Renfrew, though I just cut the piece to measure with no pattern), and got to work.

IMG_5653This was a refreshingly quick sew for me. I think, including the embellishment phase, I got this done in about 4 sittings. The most complicated part was honestly just trying not to catch too many sequins in the seams. I paired it with my one pair of black pants, though they’re a little loose at my current sizing, and it worked out great for the party! The only thing I wish I’d done differently was overlap the mesh a little more around the bust, since the extra curves there do pull it apart to the point where the solid green shows if in don’t carefully arrange the fabric. Oh well, it’s not drastic. And I did get a lot of compliments on it at the party.

So, official last make of 2017 is now in the books! Moving on…

the berry Bruyere

I’ll just say up front that this took forever. My plan was to make this shirt for the Sewcialists’ TNT theme month, to see if it would work well in a second iteration. Considering that ended over two weeks ago, obviously that didn’t happen. Between little boy sleep difficulties and rehearsals all over the place, it feels like I’ve barely been able to spend any time in my little closet!  But finally, I have a finished project to show again.

IMG_5448The pattern is the Deer & Doe Bruyere, and while I’m not sure it’s quite a TNT yet, I think it’s well on its way. Since my first iteration was a fabric that I have to wear a camisole under, it’s much easier with this one to see potential fit issues. The one thing I did know would need to happen was dealing with the bust darts. I lowered the horizontal bust darts about an inch (the gauze I used for the first version pressed nicely, so it works, but those darts were not designed for the post-nursing chest!) It didn’t cross my sleep-deprived mind that lowering meant I’d also have to shorten both darts. That took a couple of attempts at ripping out and restitching to point in the right place, but I think I got the horizontal ones sorted. The vertical ones still need to be about 3/4″ shorter, I think. The lengths are written down, so I just need to transfer that to my pattern. I think I’m also going to have to mark the point on the cuffs to gather to better, because there was more overlap on my green one and it made the plackets lie better.

IMG_5451Another thing I think I’m going to have to do is lengthen the bodice just a bit. Maybe 3/4″ or so. I discovered quickly that the undergarments are important with this one, because I initially wore it with one of my old nursing bras that the underwire fell out of ages ago, and everything lay sooooo much better when I switched to one of the more supportive me-made ones. But it still feels like the waistband is sitting just a tiny bit high.

Can we talk about the fabric? It’s a raspberry colored chambray from Robert Kauffman, and it was a delight to work with. It presses so well, and held up really nicely to the seam ripper. I’ll need to see how it fares in the ironing department, but I’d not mind using this quality of chambray again at all.


The only downside of the chambray was the occasional thickness of the layers, despite my efforts to trim and grade. There were a few buttonholes that I had to redo multiple times as a result. If I do get my hands on this fabric again, I think I’d better find my rubber mallet that I got for jeansmaking. I know it’s in the downstairs supply stash somewhere… but anyway, look how crisp the pleats are! (Please ignore my derpy face. This really was the best shot of the back of the shirt.)

I think I’ll end up having to replace the buttons at some point, because the ones that were the closest match to the color at Joann’s were in a package labeled as craft buttons, and the quality is awful for garments. Despite my efforts to allow for buttonhole space when sewing them on, I discovered that they’re really hard to work. They’re so thin that I feel like I’m going to snap them in half every time I shove them through the buttonholes. Not to mention that it literally hurts my fingers to do so. It’s really impractical for what’s supposed to easily be a nursing-friendly shirt in particular!  I’m just not sure what to replace them with, since my color matching difficulties means I’ll probably have to go with a contrast. Any suggestions?

IMG_5456I do have ideas in my head of how I can use this pattern for at least two more garments, so I do think it will be worth getting those last few fitting tweaks worked out so I can start hacking. Especially because, in spite of the waistband feeling a little high, I feel good about how I look in this shirt. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been able to say that, with all of the weight fluctuations and lifestyle changes over the past three years. Honestly, I feel like the opacity of the fabric makes it more flattering than my green voile version, even though I do still love the color. Since there’s a fairly good chance that this will be my last finished garment of 2017, though I’m very close to finishing another, it’s good to go out on a high note.


redemption refashioning

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to comment on my recent post regarding my frustration over sewing through fitting transitions. It’s good to hear that others have dealt with this and come out OK!

I recently finished reading a book about approaching real life issues with the mindset of a gamer. (It’s the geekiest self help book that I’ve ever read, I love it!) One of the major points that stuck with me was the idea of a challenge vs. a threat mindset. In this case, viewing the situation as a fun challenge to take on willingly, rather than as a threat to my ability to continue sewing at all.

In fiction, I love a good redemption story. It’s lovely when a person or situation that appears to be a lost cause turns out to be good after all. What’s been one of the biggest frustrations in my sewing over the last year or so is feeling like I’m wasting my precious me time, and/or perfectly good fabric, in turning out bad-looking/fitting clothes. So I’m starting a new project: as much as is possible, I’m going to see if I can give some of these less-than-stellar garments some tweaks to make the time that I spent crafting them more worthwhile.

IMG_5159I’m kicking off with a project that I hadn’t blogged yet. This started out life as McCall’s 6885. Confession time: I only sewed about half of it. I started out making one for myself, out of a yummy Cotton & Steel lawn, and in a similarly colored flannel for my mom, as a thank you for all that she does to help me with the boys. (Printed with a TARDIS design, because my mom is awesome like that.) But then I got sucked into the more immediate practical need of Hobbit nearly outgrowing his largest diapers and having to finish the batch I’d been procrastinating on finishing. I’d also recently found out that I was pregnant, so Mom kindly finished this dress for me so I could squeeze into it once just before my first trimester ended. (As well as her own shirt. One of these days, I’ll thank her properly!)

IMG_5157I don’t have a great before picture. There was basically no extra room around my hips at all, and the pleat plus the baby bump meant the midsection bagged out horribly above it. Also, the shirttail hem just wasn’t working for me, given how high the slit ran and how tight the hips were. Even with leggings, I was kind of embarrassed to wear it, especially for work. It really didn’t get better after Padawan was born, either. One of the things that it did have going for it was the patch pocket that I added to the front to hold my phone. Even though it’s probably an odd placement for a shirt, I’m glad that I was able to keep it after the tweaks! Because pockets are great and more clothes should have them.


I couldn’t bear to waste the fabric, since it felt so nice to wear and sew with. So earlier in the summer, while I was sewing a bunch of navy blue things anyway, I decided to make it wearable. So here’s what I did:

  • Cut off the shirttail part of the hem to give it a straight edge all around.


  • Cut a couple of triangles out of those pieces, on the crosswise grain for maximum height.



  • Opened up the side seams and inserted the triangles.



  • Re-hemmed it to a nice tunic length.



IMG_5162And it looks sooooooo much better now! I tried to show the insets on this picture, but they’re really hard to see due to the random nature of the print. (Which, honestly, is probably a good thing!) It is a little bit of a closet orphan at the moment, because I can pretty much only wear it with jeans (something I do try to avoid when teaching, when I can — I’ve had to relax that rule since the kids came along), or one denim skirt that fits, but is awfully short now that my thicker waist makes it sit higher than it used to. I’ve paired it with the Jalie pants from the last post, since I had teaching today, though the baggier pants with a tunic top is not my favorite look. If I can ever find the right fabric, I think this would actually look amazing with some seafoam/ light teal pants. Maybe the Style Arc Elle, if I work up the courage to test that pattern. (Bonus: I have a cardigan from the Anthropologie clearance rack that would also go great with that color pants!)

Semi- orphan status aside, I have been pleased with this salvage job. After all, fabric of this higher quality is not allowed to be a wadder. What would you pair this with, if you were planning future fabric hunting/ wardrobe planning?

the post-baby wardrobe blues

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


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

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

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

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

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

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.


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?