of bare necessities and sewing slumps

I’m not going to do a February wrap-up post this time, as there’s really not much to say. I did, however, recently finish a pair of nursing camisoles, with a third in the works. (Which I cannot fit over the bump, so floor modeling it is.) This is the second pattern of the nine that I specifically chose to focus on this year, the Uptown Camisole from Peekaboo Pattern Shop with the nursing add-on. The black is a rayon knit that I bought several yards of to make basic tops, and the charcoal is a long-stashed remnant left over from binding the edges of a Butterick knit dress that I made, oh, 8 or so years ago. It’s nice to have finally mostly used that up. 

Overall, the construction of this one was very straightforward, so the biggest challenge for me was using it as a way to further acquaint myself with the coverstitch machine. I did make a rather important discovery while experimenting with using it to sew on the binding, rather than turning it under 1/4″ and topstitching, which I’ve always found rather fiddly on knits.

The first attempt was a complete disaster, which resulted in my having to rip the (thankfully shorter) neckline binding piece off of both camisoles and recutting it. Mostly because, as you can see here, I ripped it full of holes. I guess that’s what I get for black thread on black fabric while sewing in a room with zero natural light at night, right? *eyeroll* I did still have to do the fold under/topstitch on one of the two after this, because I serged the new binding onto the shirt and quickly learned that it’s just too thick for my coverstitch to go through and still function well. I had much better luck with the second one, where I used the stretch stitch on my regular sewing machine to attach the binding before sewing it down.

I was also able to use the coverstitch for the hems (obviously), the elastic that holds the lower portion of the front in place, and the straps. I still have a bit of a learning curve to go on here, since the stitching on the back didn’t quite catch in several places and I did a less-than-stellar job of lining up the needle with the raw edges for the hem, despite pressing in place and measuring from the folded edge while sewing. But that’s part of what’s enjoyable about sewing, right, that there’s always something new you can learn?

Which, frankly, I need right now, because I’ve been coming to the realization that aside from the coverstitch experiments, I’m just not excited about sewing these days. Or, more precisely, I’m not excited about what I’ve been sewing. I guess it’s to be expected, given that everything I’ve made so far this year has been strictly practical, and I’ve had a run of projects at the end of last year where I was less than excited about the results for one reason or another. That, and I’m at the point of this pregnancy where I’m sick of everything I’ve been wearing, and even have a little less to pick from since it’s been mostly colder than my last third trimester. Frankly, I just want to sew something that I don’t necessarily need, just for the fun of it, that will make me feel great when I wear it. But I’m not sure what that could look like right now, given that I have somewhere around 5-6 weeks of pregnancy left, and then the whole postpartum thing where my body just isn’t going to be settled enough to really fit anything for months. I’m hoping I can have a little more success in squeezing in some activity this time, since I’ll have Hobbit to chase anyway, but still. Exercise has never been something I’ve enjoyed, so it’s hard to motivate myself to do it. I also still have a few necessities that need to be taken care of, mostly hemming the nursery curtains and some badly needed nursing bras.

Have you ever been in this kind of sewing slump? Any suggestions for a fun project that might help, given my constraints? Or should I just take a break for some knitting or something?

Top 5 of 2016: Goals!

Aside from hits, this is honestly my favorite category of the top 5. I like comparing notes from the previous year’s post to see how I did and where I still have room to grow!

So to start, here’s the review of my goals for 2016.

1. Shirtmaking…I would like to focus on finishing these nicely, and especially learning to do a proper full bust adjustment. I’ve never had a truly successful one yet. For the record, the patterns [I’d like to try] are the Grainline Archer, the Sewaholic Granville, the Deer & Doe Bruyere, and Butterick 5826. I also have some things that would make adorable little boy buttondowns, and another Butterick pattern to try out for that.

I did well with this one. Though I didn’t really get to the FBA, I did try out both the Bruyere and the Archer! I also made two buttondown shirts for Hobbit, though I ditched the Butterick in favor of the Peekaboo Patterns Classic Oxford, since every single Big 4 pattern I’ve tried to make for him was a fitting fail. Both of the patterns I made for myself were keepers. And I’ll get to the others, at some point. I’ve also been happy with the boy’s shirt pattern so far, and will show the second version soon. (I will say that it is nice to know that these shirts will see some more use when the new little guy is big enough!)

2. Use up some deep stash.

While I didn’t quite get as far in this as I would have hoped, I did use up one of my decade-plus old pieces. And I also ended up handing off a substantial pile of old remnants and some random yardage to my sewing student to give her different fabrics to practice on. So while my overall stash totals for the year aren’t the top numbers in the Stashbusting Sewalong, I did make some progress. I’ll probably elaborate on this in a final year end post.

3. Try something completely new. There aren’t many types of garments I haven’t tried to sew by now, so I’m leaning towards bramaking and/or lingerie. Some pretty new underthings would be a nice treat after I’m done nursing. Especially because my few nursing bras are already in awful shape, and I still have 6 months to go with them! Ugh!

Frankly, I didn’t get to this one at all.

4. Loungewear. I could use some new pjs, especially for the warmer months. And I do have a tested pattern I can use, since my Sewaholic Tofinos actually fit pretty well again already. Aside from pj pants, though, I could use some comfy clothes to wear around the house that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to run an errand in. Aside from one pair of pre-pregnancy jeans that never fit great, the only pants I have that currently fit are the one black pair and two pairs of jeans that I bought a couple months into the post-partum stage. And ok, they’re already big enough that functional belts are necessary, but all of the Thurlows and other jeans are still too small. (Waaaaah.)

Again, I didn’t get to sewing anything in this category, other than the one pair of pj pants that I was less than thrilled with. But I did buy some patterns near the end of the year that could possibly fit this, depending on what materials I use.

5. More mini-capsules! Either sewing more complete outfits, or new pieces to style with things already in my closet. 

As shown in my hits post, I did get to the complete outfit that I specifically had tagged. And while they were less than successful, the two basic tees in my misses were also attempts to work on this. Especially the coral one, since between that and the mint sweater from the other outfit, I now have two options to pair with my flamingo skirt that aren’t just a black top. So this goal was a success.

Now for the two non sewing ones I’d mentioned…

The first is that I’d like to do a bit more knitting this time. Ideally, I’d like to make a new cardigan, but I have other small projects I’d like to do as well, including one that’s already on the needles. I have a few things on the needles, actually. So I need to finish or frog them. Or in one case, probably restart, because it’s been so long that I have no idea where in the pattern I left off!

Mixed success on this one. I did finish some small accessories early in the year, but then got caught on some longer projects. Especially the sweater for Hobbit. It’s ended up being more of an ordeal than I’d ever anticipated, between learning that knitting bulky yarn is actually pretty painful for me and running out of yarn multiple times. That put about another month’s delay on finishing it. I’m getting eager to just get this done already, but I only have one sleeve to go, and am hoping to finish by the end of the year. I did manage to at least start that cardigan for myself, though, so that’s something.

The second is a closet purge. I’m probably going to wait until closer to the fall, after I’m done nursing and my measurements most likely stabilize. I’m hoping that by then, I’ll really have a better idea of what will actually fit again/what still fits my newish lifestyle, and can make informed choices about what to keep and what gaps need filling.

Well, as you know, I did this. I just wasn’t anticipating being pregnant a second time for it! But I do have a better idea of the holes in my wardrobe now, which leads me to my goals for 2017…

  1. Figure out a workable new sewing setup. As mentioned before, my sewing room is going to need to become a second nursery. Hobbit still isn’t sleeping through the night consistently, despite my efforts, and it’s the only way to just keep the boys from waking each other up all night long. So we’re bouncing around ideas for how best to set up a crafting space for me in our own bedroom, and I’m working on a system to store my must-have supplies in a way that the boys hopefully can’t get into.Related to this, I think I am going to do a small stash purge, since I also need to deal with yarn, scrapbook supplies, and other miscellany. I’m already mostly done with sorting through my beads and will be letting go of most of that, since making jewelry is the crafty hobby I’ve had the least time and use for. I can’t even wear most of what I’ve made until I’m done with the grabby hands stage, so…
  2. Now we’re getting into specifics. My first actual sewing goal for the year is to try making bras. For real, since I’ve mentioned it at least three years now. But these past 15 months or so have been particularly frustrating when it comes to RTW bras, so I’m going to try making some for nursing and see how it goes. I’ve already located a pattern and an online supply shop. I just need to figure out specifically what I need to buy, since the yardage requirements listed vs the size actually listed on the website was a bit confusing. Even so, my math indicates that the cost for supplies for one bra plus the pattern is about the same as buying one nursing bra from the mall. Since one of those didn’t even last four months before it started going bad on me, if this works out enough to make a couple more, it’s a good investment of both my time and money.
  3. I really, really need some pants this year. And I desperately need some shorts, because I literally had one pair that fit at the end of last summer and they likely won’t quite fit 6 or so weeks after giving birth this year. And moms of active little boys cannot live in skirts alone! I bought two patterns that have shorts that I can probably guess enough at sizing to get by. If one in particular works out, I can make pants with it too. I also have patterns from Seamwork and Style Arc that I need to try, which will likely be forgiving enough that I can just get over my fitting hangups and give it a shot come fall.
  4. Another definite hole I’ve noticed is nursing-friendly tops. So I’d like to make at least one more Archer, which I do have supplies and fabric for, and another Bruyere, which I need fabric for. I’d also like to come up with a knit top pattern, since I was less than thrilled with the results of my Megan Nielsen/Simplicity top. My plan is to try and hack my trusty Renfrew into something that will work for that, though having a machine that will help specifically with my knit hemming issues does give me a lot more options!
  5. The last definite wardrobe hole is a new coat. I need something that’s between my unlined Sewaholic trench and my as heavy as I could make without wool winter coat, because our crazy weather this fall meant that I had to guess at which one to grab a lot, and I usually ended up either too hot or too cold. So I’d like to make a midweight coat for those days that range between the 40s and 60s in the span of hours. I have a pattern, and a bolt of around 5 yards of olive twill that will be great for the outside. So now all I need is some microfleece or something to underline, some lining fabric/notions, and for my stomach to flatten out enough that I can actually muslin this thing.

The good news is, I don’t need any maternity clothes. Between what I sewed last time and a thrift store run to pick up a few more cold weather things, I should get by until April with no problems other than wardrobe boredom. I do want to make a couple of boy t shirts before Hobbit outgrows the yardage I have, and may need to make some machine covers, depending on how we end up dealing with the space. But aside from that, my game plan is to try and tackle the bras and shorts in particular before April, and start the coat during the summer so I have it ready to go when needed. And then work in pants and tops as I can.

Hope you’ve all had lovely holidays, with lots of sewing goodies! I know I’m excited about some of my gifts, and will be sharing soon!