Chain Reaction, The Second: Up to Shenanigans

It’s been a slow start since the 100 Day Project ended. Admittedly, I needed to ease off the pedal some, as we were wrapping up our first year of official homeschool. (Official in that I had a state sanctioned attendance requirement to meet, since we did preschool at home last year too.) I did have time to pull out stash and patterns for a tentative 6-piece summer chain, though, so here’s the first piece!

Wardrobe styling courtesy of my 4 year old, who insisted that I wear my “superhero shirt”. And I forgot to take off the house sandals, oops.

Last summer, I was hopeful that I can turn the 5 Out of 4 Patterns’ Shenanigans Skort into a TNT pattern, as knit skorts have proven to be extremely practical for summer wear with little kids. I made some tweaks from the last pair, adding a little length to the skirt and increasing the back crotch length. Though I think the back skirt could use just a smidgen more length, the shorts fit is perfect now.

A little lo-hi, but still wearable.

I wanted to fiddle with the pockets this time, since I don’t necessarily want to do patch pockets on everything. So I added in-seam pockets to the overskirt. And, well, this may not have been the fabric to try it with. It’s a thicker jersey type, as opposed to the ponte that I used in my original version, and the edges seriously like to roll toward the right side of the fabric. That made pressing the hems a challenge, and also made the pockets not lay very well.

I probably should have understitched the pockets when I initially made them, but I was doing it in a 4 day rush job to keep up with a sewalong that the pattern company was running. I did finish in time (though I didn’t win the drawing, oh well), but after about two wears, I could see that the pockets kept rolling toward the outside of the seam, and there was danger of a hole developing at the stress point already. So I had to go back and understitch by hand, and reinforce that lower corner. Proof that, to quote a chapter that I recently reread in Lord of the Rings, “short cuts make long delays”.

Keeping it real with my clingy toddler co-model

All that to say, I don’t quite have the pockets down for the skort TNT of my dreams. I don’t think I’ll do the inseam again. But otherwise, this was a promising step forward, and a solid foundation to build this next wardrobe chain on. Every other piece I picked is also a knit, so I’m hoping that I can knock the rest of this out a little more quickly. To be perfectly honest, I’m hoping to save some time to knock out some Halloween sewing before we start school again, just to save me the stress of deadline sewing in the fall!

Chain reaction 1, The Jade Skirt

Not that you can see any details here, because black fabric.

My third piece in this first chain is the Jade Skirt, by Paprika Patterns. I’ve had this pattern/fabric pairing in my stash for a few years now, along with fabric for a second version, so it was time! And a basic black skirt is something that I’ve been lacking for awhile anyway.

The chair models it better than I do for details.

This was definitely a pattern that needed some brainpower on my part, more so than the pants (a pattern repeat) and the jacket (other than the welt pockets.) The front of this skirt is basically fabric origami, and I’m very glad that I took my sewing time one night to watch the video tutorial on her website! The folding process really wasn’t bad after that, though I think it would have helped if I had any quantity of more than two pin colors. I did find it a little tricky to wear for its first outing today, because even though it’s stitched under the folds to secure them, things tend to shift around when I’m in the process of sitting down. The other knit that I have for this one is a spongier, textured one. So I’m seriously debating topstitching the folds in place for that one, whenever I get to it. We’ll see how I feel after a couple of wears.

Pattern alterations!

The fitting was a more challenging process than I anticipated. I started out with a size 8, and the longer length. I’m not sure if I ended up making this higher waisted than it was supposed to be. The way that the skirt is constructed means that the bottom is finished off by the lining before the waistband is attached, and putting the finished edge at my preferred knee-area skirt length does make it high waisted on me. So then I ended up having to take quite a bit out of the back darts and side seams— I think I ended up grading it in about 6”-7” all around from my hips! And if I do succeed in flattening out my third baby tummy any, I may need to take it in even more. In anticipation of that, and also because me and stitching in the ditch with stretch stitches don’t get along, I hand sewed the waistband lining in so I can more easily access those side seams again.

I still love these crazy statement sleeves.

Just for fun, I paired this newest addition to my wardrobe with the oldest surviving member of my handmade wardrobe. I made this shirt back when Lord of the Rings was still in theaters, and I was trying to incorporate as much Middle-earth style into my wardrobe as a broke student could manage. (Side note, how am I looking at 20 year anniversaries of these movies now? I guess I’m old or something.) Anyway, this shirt alone has managed to survive the wardrobe purges since. And while I hadn’t really been able to wear this one in awhile, between babies/nursing and just lacking basics to pair with it, I think it works well with my accidental high waisted skirt. So I’m happy to have a way to get this back into a more regular rotation.

For my 100 Days Project update, I’m at the halfway mark today! And I haven’t missed any days yet, though I had to get creative with things like a recent late night at book club. I’ve used a few here and there for things like rethreading machines and washing fabric, which still counts for me because they’re parts of the process. I’ll admit that I’m starting to get some evenings here and there where I just want to take a night off and do something else, but knowing that I only need 15 minutes has helped a lot with keeping me motivated.

I’m actually already mostly done with my next project in the chain! So I’m thinking that one more project after this will probably be good for this set. I’m strongly considering knocking out a quick filler project or two before starting the next one, as I’m still plotting it out. Summer clothes will likely be involved!

Sewing Shenanigans

After my second son was born and I needed some postpartum summer clothes, my mom gifted me with several knit skorts. They’ve become a summer staple for me, since they’re very practical for things like getting up and down off the floor with the kids, but still a little dressier for when I need to go out. I’ll need to work on some sleeveless tops to go with, since most of what I have left doesn’t quite work with the silhouette of the skorts. I’ve been wearing them anyway since I’ve mostly been at home for months now, but I feel pretty frumpy about it. Anyway. I had the thought a couple of years ago that I should try to hack some patterns together to create something similar. But then I was browsing Maternity Sewing, and discovered someone had done all of the work for me! And it’s overall better than I could have done myself.

The pattern is the Shenanigans Skort, by 5 Out Of 4 Patterns. I didn’t get to the pattern last year as the maternity wear I intended, but that may be for the best since I didn’t have to factor in the third trimester waistband fit. It has several options in lengths and skirts, so I made the longest length in both skirts and shorts, the mid-rise elasticized waistband, and a straight size L.

My sewing this summer has still been at sloth speed (more on that later), so it took a lot longer to make than it probably should have. But on the days where I did have both time and motivation to sew, I was able to get large chunks done. So with a few tweaks, I think this has strong TNT pattern potential.

What I liked:

1. The sizing is very forgiving. Whenever I make it again, I’d like to add an inch or so to the back rise. I think I’ll just have to accept this as a standard pants alteration by this point, just like my long sleeve length adjustments. But it’s still wearable.

2. I’m not much of an “athleisure” person. I’m not a fan of the term either, tbh. But I will admit that the athletic cut of this pattern works well. The shorts are much more fitted than on my RTW pairs, but this also eliminates the slightly nagging problem I have with those, of the shorts riding up under the skirts. The length was good, and the shorts are surprisingly comfortable. I’m seriously considering a shorts only hack of this as a project I’ve been meaning to get to for awhile, to make something to wear under other skirts and dresses to avoid that irritating thigh chafing.

3. It’s a good stand in, at least for the warm seasons, for the basic black skirt that I haven’t had in awhile. We’ll see how the ponte holds up.

The one thing I didn’t like as much: the pocket instructions for the version that I initially used were really confusing. I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to just leave the edges raw, or how to sew it with any finishing since it was a very curved shape. So I ended up ditching it, making two rectangular patch pockets that were easily large enough to hold my phone, and sticking one on each side. Patch pockets on adult clothes aren’t my favorite look, but it works. I think in future versions, though, I’d take some ideas from some of my RTW versions to make it look more polished.

Overall, I was happy with how this came together, as I needed a sewing win. My motivation is starting to return, finally, since I saw a new pattern that caught my attention. It’s already assembled and ready to cut! The time is a little trickier, mostly due to the kids. Sometimes lengthy bedtimes aside, we’re continuing with homeschooling this year, and this time for both boys as kindergarten/ basic preschool. So I’ve been spending a lot of my evening time preparing for that, since we’re planning to start later this month. I’m really excited about the main curriculum that I found, as its main focus is lots of fairy tales and fables, and I can use it with both boys. I’ll have to do math and literacy stuff with them individually, but having most of it more one room schoolhouse style will help immensely. (I’m a little nervous about trying to teach Hobbit to read, since I want him to love it, so hopefully that will go well.)

2019, wrapped

Now that I have completed my first project of 2020, I realized that I have several things I never actually blogged from the end of last year. So even though I’m still mostly limited to phone photos, I’ll go ahead and get caught up on that.

20191209_120440First up: the Harper Cardigan from Sinclair Patterns. This one was a rather spontaneous make. Those of you who listen to the Love to Sew podcast regularly probably remember when Helen and Caroline suggested adding hashtags with your city/state/whatever sews in order to make some local sewing friends. Well, I did do that for my state with a couple of Instagram posts shortly after, but for a long time, no one actually ever used it but me. So I stopped. And then, well over a year later, I suddenly got a comment on one of those posts letting me know that there was actually a Facebook group for local sewists in my state! Which I joined immediately, and then also convinced my mom to join, lol. Shortly after, some people in the group thought it would be fun to do a virtual sewalong, and after some discussion, we chose this pattern. It’s a free one, so easily accessible. What drew me to it was the duster length, as I do like the drama of a long cardigan, and this one is still fairly practical with the kiddos since it’s not down to my ankles or anything.

I used one of the fabrics that I picked up years ago on my Paris trip, as it is a rather sheer knit and therefore inappropriate for any shirt or dress type projects. It may have been a tad too lightweight for this particular pattern, but it works ok. This also ended up being a quick sew, which is good. My main issue with it was the split hem, as I wanted to use my coverstitch and it doesn’t navigate the pivots very well. I’ll have to see if I can find some tricks for that. Either way, I’m happy to finally have this out of the stash and in my wardrobe! Overall, I don’t think this will replace the Blackwood Cardigan as my go-to, even though I’ve also only made one Blackwood to date, but it was a fun alternative. I did get a length of sweater knit for Christmas that I’m considering turning into a second one of these at some point, since I already did cut two more Blackwoods out from the rest of the haul!

20191221_194428The project that ended up taking most of my December sewing time was these 4 skirts. A friend at church asked me if I’d make some skirts for her two daughters and two nieces from some Ankara that she’d picked up during a trip to Africa during the summer. (She also offered immediately to pay, which was nice!) I’d never had an opportunity to sew with wax print, so that made it more exciting for me. The pattern is the skirt portion of the Ainsley dress, by Made For Mermaids. It’s a straightforward pattern, though I had a few hiccups– mostly in the form of not quite having enough length to finish cutting the skirts for the two older girls. My friend was very understanding and accommodating, so I just used a similar weight black woven in my stash to make up the extra length, and finished this shortly before Christmas. It looks like a cute pattern, and I can see myself using this again in a few years when my daughter can fit into it.

20191225_060448Speaking of my daughter, my last project of the year was for her first Christmas. Back when I first started planning those wolf sweatshirts, my older boy suggested that I should also make something reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood for her. Then I spotted the red crushed velvet at Joann’s, and decided to go for it. The pattern is the same Ottobre hoodie pattern that I used for her a few months ago, with a few tweaks. After several weeks of trying to sort out how to handle the edges, since I was concerned that the fold-over elastic treatment that the original pattern used would make the velvet look cheap, I decided to just add some extra hem allowance and coverstitch those edges instead. I also scooped out the front neckline a bit more and eliminated the front zipper, both for time and for not having to deal with those edges.

In retrospect, I think I probably should have sized up a little more– I made this just one size larger than the original, since that one still fits her– but I suspect this one isn’t going to fit her for long. But it was a very cute, casually fancy first Christmas outfit for her. I’m considering keeping this one and cutting it down some, because I still have the American Girl doll that I saved up for as a kid, but only one outfit for her.  It’s obviously too early to say if she’s going to be into dolls at all, but if she is, I don’t mind the idea of recycling some of these things into some new doll outfits for her to play with.  (Now that I have a daughter, I’m kind of kicking myself for not keeping the things my mom made back in the day from the official AG sewing patterns to beef up her wardrobe, but I’ve since learned that someone shared the original sewing patterns as free pdf downloads. So I can reconstruct the historic-based outfits, too!)

A bold, bright Brazi

20190623_154701I recently finished another maternity garment, with an eye towards postpartum and nursing. This is the dress version of the Brazi pattern, by Stitch Upon A Time. And it was definitely not without its challenges! You know, besides the current story of my life that is dealing with pregnancy symptoms that leave me feeling too unwell to sew too often. I actually wrote a pattern review for this one, for the first time in awhile. (I actually had to make myself a new account on there this year, because I could NOT get back onto the site with my old email address!) So this is mostly going to be from that, with a little elaboration.

20190623_154720Pattern Description: A sports bra with options for either a flat front or a crossover front (the latter is a separate add-on pattern), and two length options for a skirt. I made the add-on crossover front, for nursing friendliness, with the maxi skirt. Here’s a better shot of the front. It looks a little collapsed on the side, but the band underneath is pretty much being swallowed by my belly right now. So I think once I’m wearing this postpartum, that should even up. 

Pattern Sizing: Bust size XXS-XXXL (25″-53″), skirt size 1-8 (underbust 23″-47″). I forgot to add this to the review, but I made the size L for the bra and the size 3 skirt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, aside from the baby bump! (Side note, these photos were taken at about 29 weeks pregnant.) Only 10 weeks and 2 days to go until my due date. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t have any trouble with that.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I liked: The instructions were very well laid-out for options like adding bra cups, and what pages to use for finishing the band as a bra vs a dress. What I wish was different: a wider range of cup sizing. I cut the larger pieces that were meant for a D-cup, and it was not enough for me as a DD who’s probably even bigger at the moment due to pregnancy.

Fabric Used: The skirt is an ITY. The top is a 4-way stretch jersey that I’m not entirely sure if it’s not supposed to be swimsuit fabric, but it was all I could find. (I actually ended up using the wrong side on the outside to tone down the shininess.) 

img_20190519_215625.jpgPattern alterations or any design changes you made: I had to make some major changes to the front bodice, because there was not enough coverage on either the crossover or the lower part of the bodice the first time I attempted to make the top. I had to add a curved piece with about 1.5″ to the bottom, and nearly the same along the neckline. (This is pretty much what it ended up looking like, with the washi tape being the divider line between the pattern and what I needed to add. I did end up curving that lower straight line from both corners after I took this picture, though, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the side seams not matching up.  Also, I added pockets in the side seams. (Because POCKETS.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t think I’d sew it as a dress again, but now that I have the fit worked out, I might make it as a nighttime support bra. I’m not convinced it would have enough support to use as a sports bra for myself, for anything higher impact than yoga. As a dress that can work for maternity and beyond, so you get more for your sewing time, I would recommend it.

IMG_20190516_213101

So now that the review part is over, here’s the test version of the top.  This was actually supposed to be the dress top, but I had to relegate it to (somewhat) wearable muslin status after discovering that my chest was falling out of all sides of the front as drafted! No pictures, because that was definitely in the category of Not Safe For Work. Or church. Or parenting. Or anything involving going out in public, really! I’d recycled some cups from an old bra where the underwires had fallen out, so I had to unpick those, and then buy new black fabric to start over because I just didn’t have enough. (Side note, 4 way stretch plain black fabric is surprisingly difficult to find! All Joann’s had was some fancy athletic stuff that was something like $28 a yard, yikes, and my usual online fabric haunts didn’t have many options either. But the options they had were still about half the price!) But I did finish the original top off as a nighttime nursing bra, because I’ve had to get through the last 2 babies with just one and I could genuinely use that.

img_20190625_135234Speaking of babies, she got something out of this, too! Though I didn’t have much of the original black fabric left, I got surprised with a little extra on the second piece due to the shop reaching the end of the bolt. So even though we’re getting most of her clothes secondhand from generous friends (plus some new things from excited grandparents), I couldn’t resist whipping out a little 0-3 month skirt to go with some of the more gender-neutral onesies that she’s inheriting from her big brothers. I found this free tutorial from Delia Creates, and made it with the foldover waistband so she can hopefully get some extra use out of it lengthwise. I still have some largish scraps left of this black, too, so we’ll see if I manage to come up with anything else to make for the kids out of it! But for now, I’m going to move on and see what else I can get done, since I’m running out of time where I can comfortably sit at the machine.

My 2018 Make Nine Plans

I did participate in the #2017makenine thing that was going around on Instagram, and it worked really well in helping me to prioritize my sewing this year. Out of the nine projects I picked, the Archer shirt is the only one that I just didn’t get to at all. And I was still able to work in a few projects that were more wants instead of needs. It took some thought, but here is the #2018makenine that I finally settled on:

My #2018makenine was hard to narrow down, and there’s a lot of planned projects that I had to leave off. But if I go with what will give me the most wardrobe boosting powers, I have: 1. A knit maxidress. 2. A Fumuterre skirt. 3. A Stasia dress and/or top. 4. Pajamas, because I need to replace virtually all of mine. 5. A swimsuit/rash guard, because I don’t have a functional one and I’m tired of sunburns. 6. Two Wild Things coats, because it’s pretty much the cutest thing I can get away with #sewingforboys. 7. The Archer shirt, attempt 2. 8. The Lander shorts, though I still need to buy this pattern. 9. The Appleton shirt hack. I already have stash for 1, 3, some 4, outside of 6, 7, 8 if I do denim, and 9. #sewingplans

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(The actual picture doesn’t seem to be showing up, at least on my computer. So just in case, here’s the link.)

  1. 1. McCall’s 7350, a dress pattern that I bought recently. I also found a great ITY print on clearance at Fabric.com, which made snagging 5 yards to make the more dramatic maxi version that caught my eye affordable.
  2. Deer & Doe’s Fumuterre skirt. I was gifted a lovely cotton print with this earthy, abstract leafy type print to give this one a go.
  3. Sew Liberated’s Stasia dress. Or maybe top. Or both. I do have a few yards of a print from a couple Christmases ago that would be a good candidate for the shorter dress, but I feel like the top has more TNT potential as a basic fitted knit top. I just might test it out on one of the pajama sets.
  4. The aforementioned pajamas. The Closet Case Carolyn pajamas are pictured, and that is a pattern that I got for Christmas. I’ll start with just the pants, since I have a few lengths of flannel that are enough for that but not a full set. Since I also need some hot weather things, a set or two from the Grainline Lakeside pajamas that I’ve had waiting in my pattern stash are also likely. Though I was given fabric to make the more summery version of the Carolyn as well.
  5. The swimsuit. I picked the Jalie picture that features both the rash guard shirt and the briefs lined swim shorts that I’m eyeing. I’ll need to purchase both patterns and fabric for this one, so this will be a main exception to my plan to buy as little fabric as possible, except where needed for specific reasons.
  6. While I can easily think of more patterns that I still hope to make for myself, I do want to make sure I get to this pattern before the boys are much older. This is the Twig & Tale Wild Things coat, pictured in the dinosaur option. I have a piece of this weird khaki-ish corduroy that I probably got 10 or so years ago, and am strongly considering dyeing in 2 pieces to make the outside of whichever animals I decide on. I’ll likely need to get linings for this as well.
  7.  The Grainline Archer shirt, since I didn’t get to it this year and it does have useful TNT potential, once I make a few changes from my last version. I have a plaid flannel that’s been sitting around waiting for that one.
  8. True Bias’s Lander shorts. I still need shorts since the ones I made this year didn’t work out, and I got the pattern for Christmas, along with a fun piece of crosshatch denim to make them. I’ll probably do a test in something less interesting, though. I’ve got enough plain non-stretch denim, and I think my days of non-stretch jeans are over, so that will be a good stashbust.
  9. Cashmerette Appleton, as a wrap top. I have a piece of ITY in my stash that I had been thinking would make a good one, so I was delighted to read that Jenny made the instructions for this hack available on her site– now I don’t have to take the time to figure it out myself!

I have so many projects in mind that I would also like to tackle this year if I can. It was actually really hard for me to narrow this list down, because of the much longer one I have! I’d love to make myself a new dress for Easter this year, because I’ve been either pregnant, nursing, or leaving the hospital just after giving birth for the last 3 of them, and wasn’t able to have any fun with my outfit. (If I hadn’t given up that ninth spot for the boys, this probably would have been the last pick.) I recently bought this adorable kids’ toy pattern that I would really like to make up for the boys’ Easter baskets, too. I have a couple of  more involved jacket patterns that I’ve been plotting out for a couple of years now, and other patterns that I’ve been hoarding that have had to get pushed to the side, like the Ginger jeans and the Sew House Seven Tea House dress/top. I have knits that are begging to get turned into Plantains and Renfrews, and the Ebony tee to try out. And that’s not even the whole list! But aside from the lack of pants, I think this group has some good mix and match potential in the silhouettes, as well as some good standout pieces. So here’s hoping that I’m not being overly ambitious, and here’s to happy sewing time in 2018!

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.

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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.

this bird has flown

I’m back! With multiple projects to catch up on, believe it or not. Taking pictures has proven to be even more of a challenge since Padawan came along, mostly because he spends most of his nap time strapped to me in a carrier. Not very conducive to outfit photos. So this was just grabbing a few quick photos of my latest project after church today, and hoping that I can catch up on the rest later.

IMG_4939The skirt is the Sewaholic Rae, and there’s really nothing to say about the construction by this point since this is my fourth version.  It’s funny that this has become my go-to skirt pattern, since I probably would have avoided it in the pre-kid days. But when you’ve got limited time to sew and 30 pounds to lose, I guess elastic waists that can be easily adjusted are the way to go. Especially when I can hide them with my constantly untucked shirts. (I’m wearing it here with an old Burda top and my Plantain cardigan.)

IMG_4942Let’s talk about the fabric, shall we? Yes, I’m back on the quilter’s cotton, but I couldn’t pass this print up. It’s from a collection called “Hello Love”, all loosely inspired by The Beatles’ music. I grew up regularly listening to The Beatles, and so I fell in love with several of the prints. The one I ended up choosing was inspired by “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. One thing I’ve been attempting to do for awhile is bring some warmer colors into my wardrobe, since I do have a tendency to fall into a rut of ocean colors and black. And the cheerful gold with Elven looking trees seemed to be just the thing. Plus that meant that I actually managed to fit the month’s bird theme at The Monthly Stitch! It was a little challenging making sure that I didn’t end up with hearts centered in iffy places, but I think I managed it. As well as pattern matching as best as I could with angled seams.

So that’s that! And hopefully I’ll get to those other pictures soon.

IMG_4948Ok, one more with this cutie. Can you believe he’s 2 months old already?

the skirt my husband designed

IMG_3843So, May in a nutshell, this skirt. I really wasn’t expecting something this relatively simple to take me almost an entire month, but such is the nature of my sewing life these days.

I say that my husband designed this, because it was basically his idea. We had a conversation somewhere during my third trimester that went something like this…

Doug: So I saw this girl at the mall today…

Pregnant me: Why were you looking at this girl?

Doug: I liked her skirt. I thought it would look good on you after you’re done being pregnant.

He went on to describe it as a long sheer skirt over a shorter skirt. It sounded simple enough to make, and it’s not often that he notices women’s fashion, so challenge accepted. I bought a couple of yards of black chiffon and some wide elastic and waited for my stomach to shrink enough to make the skirt that he liked.

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting it to take so long. On the one hand, it’s essentially two rectangles gathered into a wide elastic waistband. On the other hand, I ended up with a wider tube than the elastic would stretch to, so I ended up having to do a bunch of little pleats to gather it in. That took me a couple of tries to get the spacing right.

IMG_3854The outer layer is just black polyester chiffon from Fabric.com, purchased specifically for this purpose last summer. The inner layer is a silky polyester from Joann’s, bought years ago with a more workwear-type top in mind that I never got to. I put it shiny side in for a more subtle effect, but I really like how the print looks underneath. The background is a rather stark white, and going through the Wardrobe Architect process made me realize that ivory tones are better on me anyway, so I’m pleased to have found a use for it that better suits my palette. Now I just need to figure out a use for the leftover 2/3 yards.

I’m still trying to sort out how best to handle these wide exposed elastic waistbands. The stitches skipped and wobbled less on this one than on my refashioned plum skirt, but the waistband itself is more rippled. I guess it’s a good thing that I rarely tuck anything in. I also wish the hem was a little neater. Fighting for these little scraps of sewing time is really doing a number on my finishing skills. I just get so desperate to actually get something new into my wardrobe. Especially since a good chunk of things still don’t fit. And I don’t expect that to improve for awhile.

I feel like I should at least mention Me-Made-May, even though we’re halfway through June now and everyone’s moved on. I played along loosely via Instagram, while trying to pull out older stuff from the closet and see what still works and what doesn’t. My overall takeaway was a good news, bad news sort of situation. The good news is that I still have more workable me-mades than I thought. The bad news is that a lot of what I’m having to let go of are the majority of my basics, which is making the whole outfit thing tough. I’m especially hurting for pants and jeans, and even basic tank tops and tees. But I’m honestly not really sure what to do about it, given that I’m averaging about 1 project a month right now, I’m so dissatisfied with the styles and fit of store bought clothes these days, and (hopefully not TMI) there is talk of when to start trying for a sibling for Hobbit. It seems pointless to go through the pants fitting process just to end up with a closet full of pants that I can’t wear anymore again…any suggestions for my dilemma, mom-types?

On a happier note, this skirt busted 3 2/3 yards. It’s progress, even if just a small step.

Hopefully it won’t be weeks before I post again. Photos were the delay in sharing this one, and this month’s project is for a much cuter model!

 

 

flower power

20160501_152644One of my sewing goals for this year was to think more about mini-capsule outfits, in an effort to avoid closet orphans. Since a lot of my old clothes still aren’t fitting well, this is so important right now. So I was excited to see that The Monthly Stitch’s theme for April was to do two or more coordinating pieces, one of which was a floral. It just so happened that I had the perfect combination in my stash. Especially to line up with a couple of other sewing challenges– I love when I can multitask this way!

Both of these pieces were from Seamwork Magazine– the same issue, in fact. I made the Astoria top first, because I needed a solid pastel top for my flute choir’s spring concert, and this piece of fabric was literally the only thing I owned that fit the criteria! It’s a lightweight acrylic sweater knit that I’ve been dithering over for a couple of years now, due to the sheerness. (Incidentally, the theme for the Stashbusting Sewalong this month was “feared fabrics”, and sweater knits do make me a tad nervous. Especially since it’s hard to find them in not-wool, and the unraveling factor!) This one came together pretty quickly, and fit nicely straight off of the pattern. The length threw me for a loop, since I’m not used to cropped tops, so I might add some length if I make it again– unless I find more good sweater knits for layering over some dresses!

20160501_152843_LLS(Baby photobomb, because he was getting fussy.) The accompanying Bristol skirt took me longer than anticipated. That’s mostly my own fault, because the floral print is a little on the sheer side, and so I lined it. Which meant that I had to sew and finish everything twice, aside from the pocket. I’ll admit I was kind of frantically trying to finish this yesterday, both so I’d have it to wear to church this morning and so I could definitely count it for April, and so the hem on the lining is rather wonky. I rushed the pressing a bit more than I should have, and the fabric was all shifty. But I’m just going to roll with it, because no one will see it but me. (And maybe occasionally Doug, when he does the laundry, because he’s great like that.)

20160501_152830_LLS
What I like about this skirt:

  • Pocket! I wouldn’t use it for my hands, since it’s kangaroo-style, but it’s perfect for holding my phone.
  • If I hadn’t lined it, it really would have been a super-fast project.
  • The elastic waistband is definitely good for my need of flexible fitting.
  • The print, obviously.

What I didn’t like:

  • I should have read the waistband instructions more closely before sewing, and then done it completely differently. It called for basically basting the elastic into the waistband, and then sewing that whole gathered mess onto the skirt. Which took forever, and was a total mess to finish. (Mostly because I was too lazy to change my serger thread.) I think I’d make this pattern again, as it was a nice switch-up from the Rae skirt, but I’d definitely sew the waistband casing in flat and then insert the elastic.

In other news, I never made my official Me-Made-May pledge for this year. I honestly don’t think I can do every day right now, since I’m highly dependent on my RTW transitional jeans. And I definitely can’t do the me-made jewelry like previous years, because the grabby little Hobbit has me limited to stud earrings and my wedding rings. So for this year, I’m going to just aim for wearing something I made 3-4 days a week, and seeing if I can get a better idea of what clothes might still fit me again after I drop a few more pounds vs. what it’s just time to let go of.

I’m starting off well, at least– besides the two Seamwork pieces, I’m also wearing my latest pair of Espresso leggings and the McCall’s tank top I made last month.

To quickly sum up my stashbusting for April: Besides these two pieces, I have one more finished clothing project that needs to be photographed (yay!), and a gift that I haven’t showed at all yet because the family member that it’s for follows my Instagram. All together, 11.25 yards out, and nothing in. Finally, a decent dent!