the year-end wrap up and some upcoming plans

20181226_161007

First off, my last sewing projects of 2018. I had enough free time the day after Christmas to whip up another matching set of Brindille & Twig ringer tees for the boys, in long sleeves this time. I made Hobbit’s in the 4/5 size, and Padawan’s in the 24 month size. (He’s a bit of a peanut, and not quite out of the 18 month clothes even though he’ll be turning 2 in the spring. I strongly suspect I may have to sew several pairs of pants for him this fall, since he seems to be pretty slender for his age.)

And now, all the nerdy number things!

This year, I’ve made:
20181226_160928Pajamas, just pants- 1 (I had a top to go with this)
Pajamas- 4 sets (3 with knit tops instead of pj pattern)
Tops for me- 5 (refashions- 2)
Dresses- 3
Boy shirts- 4
Toys- 2.
Quilts- 1
Shorts- 1
Swimsuit- 1 (3 piece set)
Coats- 3 (1 for me and 2 for boys)
Jeans- 1 (yaaaaaaay!)

Total: 26 projects for the year. Not too shabby!

Yards of fabric used: 51.5 on record, probably closer to 55. I did have to purchase some fabric to make the boys’ coats, and it never quite made it into my spreadsheet. Neither did this dog jersey.

Total yards in my stash currently: I started the year with 342.5 yards, and now have 394.49.  So that’s a net gain of about 52 yards. Oops. Admittedly, most of this was Christmas gifts from my mom (I just added it up and got nearly 73 yards!!), all tagged for specific projects, as we spent quite a bit of time over the fall chatting about what I needed most in my wardrobe. I love every single piece, and they all fit very well within my color palette that I’ve slowly been refining my closet to, so I know they’ll get used. It’s just a matter of having the time to make them up!

I also had to buy some quilt fabrics, as I kind of got suckered into agreeing to assemble some quilt kits that my mother in law bought several years ago. But I know I can’t just quilt for months without losing my mind, so my plan is to use any sewing time I get at my parents’ house where I don’t need to cut projects out will be dedicated to this until it’s done. (And I totally plan to reward myself with a fun sewing treat when I’m all done, since she’s paying me.)

I also wanted to reflect on some of the long term challenges I took part in this year.

First, the RTW Fast from Goodbye Valentino. I did get through the entire year without purchasing any clothes for myself, aside from some desperately needed bras once I finished nursing, and that fell into the guidelines. I was gifted a few things, though. Like my mom surprised me with several knit skorts over the summer, because I had virtually nothing to wear on my at home days where playing on the floor in skirts isn’t the most practical/it took so long to just make one pair of shorts due to fitting. I think that there was some value in participating, but I don’t plan to continue in 2019. For one thing, it’s bothered me the whole year that the restriction extends to purchasing secondhand clothes. I’ll admit that in the past, I’ve binge-shopped at the thrift store without much thought between “oh, that’s cute” or “I can use this as fabric!” And this did prevent me from doing any of that this year. But given that sewing time is a precious commodity for me, I can see value in supplementing my handmade wardrobe with a few carefully chosen thrifted pieces, especially in categories that I’m not necessarily interested in sewing like exercise clothes. Also, from a sustainability standpoint, it seems ridiculous to force people into feeling like they need to purchase fabric to make some basics if you can save a perfectly good existing piece of clothing from getting incinerated or thrown in a landfill, provided that fit isn’t an issue.

I also didn’t particularly enjoy the Facebook group. I’m not on there as much as I used to be, and that was the sort of group that was constantly filling my news feed because of the sheer number of posts. Plus I didn’t like that people were getting called out/kicked out for things like, one example I remember from early in the year when I was following more closely, one woman getting surprised by a ski trip and needing to buy a coat because she didn’t have one that would keep her warm enough. It just seemed like a lot of ridiculous policing and no grace for life happening, so I stopped following it partway through the year. I think I’ll stick with the Stashbusting Sewalong for my Facebook sewing fix, since that one is all about cheering each other on and laughing when we end up getting more stash anyway.

The 2018 Make Nine was a more positive experience for me. Since I decided to swap out one top for jeans, I got 7 out of 9, which is very good! I also like that that one is more about celebrating the wins, and any projects that get done. I’m also going to let that one go for next year, though I would participate in this one again in the future. I think that after the unemployment scare this fall, and all the derailing of plans that happens with young kids, I’m feeling very reluctant to plan too far in advance. And since I’m also trying to be realistic in my goal making/more carefully build my wardrobe, I think I’ll be better off if I take it season by season rather than a year at a time. So after much consideration, I’ve decided to do the Seasonal Sew 3 challenge instead.

So, here’s my winter plan!

  1. IMG_20181205_124507I’ve had a plaid flannel Archer shirt on my Make Nine for 2 years straight, and failed to make it both times. But I still love the fabric, it’s one of the prettiest plaids I’ve ever seen, and I want it in my closet. I was procrastinating because of sleeve alterations, but I finally got it cut out yesterday, and am hoping to start sewing it up in the next day or so. I think it’ll be a great option to go with my gold jeans that I wear for work, and maybe even those turquoise jeans that I just made!
  2. New Look 6417. I’ve been drooling over this one since I bought it last winter, because it’s so unique looking. I was gifted some cream ponte knit to make it this year, and I’m going to see if I have enough of this leathery looking fabric left from my old Gabriola skirt to make the binding. If not, I have some brown interlock left over from my first Tiramisu dress that I can probably make work. Given that this would go with basically every pair of pants I have, except maybe my grey jeans (I guess grey and brown can work? I mean, that’s the entire winter landscape here, but BLAH), I think this could be a good one to wear either for teaching or home days, as long as the boys aren’t getting into paint or I’m not cooking pasta sauce.
  3. Since I’m most hurting for stay at home clothes, I think the third thing will be to try out the Hudson pants. I have some stashed grey ponte that I got to try out a sewing dare project from Gillian from at least a year ago, but haven’t been able to get to, and maybe I need to rethink what to do there. So I think I’ll try the fit out with those, and if it works, whip up a second pair with a funkier knit that I got for Christmas.

Bonus project: some matching Twig & Tale Trailblazer vests for my guys, to go along with the Sewcialists’ upcoming menswear theme month. Doug is really excited about this one, because my mom made the boys some matching vests a few months ago and he was half-joking about why he didn’t get one, so she bought him some fabric with his favorite hockey team logo plus some corduroy for the outside for Christmas, enough to make matching vests for him and the boys. Since he’s turned down every offer I’ve ever made to sew clothes for him in the past, I’m going to prioritize this one for the season, and plan to start it as soon as I’m done with the Archer. So if I do have to drop or swap something in my plan to something faster, I’ve already decided that the sweater can be pushed off. (Especially since I’ll have to make all of the bias trim before I can do that anyway.)

Pajama-rama

This is really a catch-up post, since this is what I spent most of January and a little bit of early February sewing. One of my #2018makenine goals was the Carolyn pajamas by Closet Case Patterns, because my sleepwear stash was in really rough shape! Especially my winter pajamas, since everything was either falling apart or horribly stretched or just too small now. So I’ve replaced all but one set with some brand new pajama pants, plus some knit tops.

IMG_5644 First up, the plaid pants. I actually bought this flannel to go with a Doctor Who-themed Christmas tee, not pictured here. The pants overall were pretty simple to make, especially since I just used black thread for all three pairs and knocked them out assembly-line style. The hardest part was probably just cutting this pair out, because of the plaid matching, but I think it went pretty well. The top that I’m wearing with this one is just a store-bought knit shirt that I used to wear at my garden center job, but never really pulled out for everyday wear. I don’t know why, it’s a perfectly serviceable black shirt, but it works well for free pajamas.

IMG_5648

I did have to make two adjustments on here. The length was oddly long on me, so I just chopped a couple inches off of the hem. The less expected one was that I actually had to adjust for my backside. When I was tracing them out, the crotch curve seemed kind of short to me. So I took some measurements, decided that it might be best to add some length to it, and quickly looked up how to do that. I think it was a good choice, because I’m pretty sure I’d tear these up in awkward places sooner if I hadn’t. (Hi, Padawan!)

Also, can I say how nice it is to have pajama pants with pockets? Let’s be honest, life with kids means that sometimes I don’t get my pjs off before mid-morning, so it’s nice to have somewhere convenient to keep my phone.

IMG_5804

My second print is navy with some lighter blue sunflowers, and for the top, I went with the Sewaholic Renfrew. If it looks a little saggy in a few places, it’s because of the drape of the fabric. It’s one of those bamboo rayon blends that is probably all wrong for the structure of this top, but oh so comfortable to sleep in. Mostly, I wanted to do a wearable muslin so I could sort out my new sizing, after the complete disaster that was the basic black nursing tee that I made last summer. I’m happy to say that this worked out much better! I ended up going down another size, and grading in another size around the waist. So I’m feeling much more confident about my chances of success, next time I decide that I need a quick knit project and want to use one of the knits I’ve been hoarding for this pattern. Yay, I have one of my favorite TNTs back again!

IMG_5795

Since actually taking pictures of me wearing things is generally the thing that stands between me and more frequent blogging, I decided to let the floor model the last set. It’s this adorable cartoon London-themed print, and I paired it with a cotton-poly interlock that had been in my stash for ages. The top, of course, is the Plantain tee, since apparently that is what I make for something like every third project right now.

 

IMG_5796

Seriously, how cute is this fabric? It has Union Jack teapots!! No TARDIS, but the Anglophile in me is still quite satisfied, and ready to curl up in these to read some Brit lit while listening to the Beatles or something. Hmmm, the next book for the book club I’m doing now is set in alternate universe England…

This definitely won’t be the last time I use this pattern. Especially since my summer pj collection also needs an update, and I got Christmas fabric to make 2 more warmer weather sets! Including one with the actual shirt from this pattern. I’ve got two summer-specific projects that I’m in the very early stages of tackling first, but watch this space.

So now I’m only one project behind on sharing finished things. I just need to get pictures first…

New year, new space

I know, I know, it’s well over a month into 2017. But I’m not moving fast these days, both physically and in terms of crafting. For those of you  who are just tuning in, my sewing room is becoming baby #2 (aka Padawan’s) room. We’re finally getting to the point where Hobbit is starting to sleep through the night more consistently, thank God! But that means we also don’t want to have another little guy in the same room waking him up at this point, and vice versa. (Even though he’ll really be spending his first few months in the bassinet in our room, since the less walking I have to do for late night feedings, the better.) Anyway, the point is that I’ve officially gone from a sewing room to a sewing nook in our closet, with my fabrics and less frequently used supplies moving to the basement. And clearing this room out has sucked up a lot of the time in which I would otherwise be making things.

img_4632

Ignore the crappy lighting, since I can’t do anything about it, but here’s the new space! My machines live at the wall that is shared with our actual bedroom, and Doug drilled a hole for a power strip so I could plug everything in. My must-have supplies are in an IKEA cart that tucks nicely under my skirts and dresses. And nearly everything else is in a large downstairs closet that connects to the finished part of the basement.

And look, new machines! I finally have gotten the Janome coverstitch machine set up and tested, and I think this is the beginning of a much more beautiful friendship with my knit projects. In addition, my mom generously passed one of her extra sewing machines on to me, so I have a newer Bernina to play with! While my old machine has more decorative stitches, this one actually has that lightning bolt stretch stitch, and a machine light that functions. Both of which have been handy already. (Let’s be honest, decorative stitches aren’t something I’ve used much  since my teenage years anyway.)

Along with the rearranging, I’ve also been trying to declutter as much as I can stand to, including being really honest with myself about project leftovers I can’t find a use for after years/free fabric people have dumped on me that isn’t my taste/etc. I’ve still got some work to do on scrapbook and miscellaneous craft supplies, but here’s a sampling of what I’ve managed to let go of. (Understanding that I’m a pack rat by nature, and the thought of doing that Konmari extreme declutter horrifies me.  So this is huge!)

  • 65 yards of fabric, which was well over 10% of my stash. (The Stashbusting Sewalong group is trying to collectively get through that much this year, so yay team!)
  • A stack of scrapbook paper that was around 5″ tall. That’s a lot of paper. (This actually  went to my best friend, who uses it for a particular item she creates for an annual craft fair at her church.)
  • A bunch of stickers, including several unopened packs that were clearly from the 90s. Sandylion, anyone? (Too obviously girly for me to save for the boys, since my one naturally gravitates towards things like trucks and dinosaurs and safari animals all on his own.)
  • Most of my really cheap-feeling acrylic yarn/yarn with alpaca, since my skin has made it very clear that wearing any animal fibers against it for longer than 20 minutes is a no-go. (I did keep some cheap acrylic for kids’ crafts, and one alpaca yarn for some boot toppers, since it’s a versatile color and I’d be wearing those over jeans or leggings.)

And, for the sake of catching up, here’s a quick summary of everything I sewed in January.

Cake Espresso Leggings Since it was the only thing on my #2017makenine list that is actually wearable for me at the moment, I made another pair of Cake Espresso leggings, this time in a grey ponte. Technically, I made two, though I finished the second this month. Unfortunately, the second pair is currently unwearable– while this grey ponte from my Christmas haul had a four way stretch, the teal that I used for the second was more of a two-way stretch. As a result, at the risk of TMI, I can’t get them pulled up enough to fully cover my backside. I do have enough fabric left over than I can add some length there, but I’m going to wait until after the bump to try them on again and make sure that’s not the only issue. But I’ll probably just unpick the folded-over waistband and stitch on a new one to give me the coverage I need to be comfortable wearing them. I did get to play with my new coverstitch for both of these, so that was fun!

The rest of my sewing was rather utilitarian. Part of rearranging the closet to accommodate my sewing machines was needing to figure out what to do with our dirty laundry, since our washer and dryer are two floors down from our bedroom. So I recycled one of my old handmade curtains into two new laundry bags. Having something that closes is definitely a must, since one of our golden retrievers is a total kleptomaniac and our socks will be all over the place if he gets a hold of them.

I also have been playing around with a more old-fashioned paper planner this year, since writing things to do out seems to help me remember better. The particular one I purchased is a print-at-home, and one of the major perks for me was having lots of note pages so I can treat it like a bullet journal, and therefore have all of my lists of projects to work on and books to find and whatnot without having to write out my calendar every month. But my binder was boring, and I needed a way to keep my pens with it, so I used up most of some leftover quilt cotton from an apron that I made several years back to make a cheery cover for it. (The button is part for looks, and part to keep it closed in a way that Hobbit hasn’t figured out how to get past yet! He’s starting to figure zippers out, so that was a no go.)

My sewing this month has been pretty slow so far, since I wasn’t able to sit down in the closet cave for over a week. But hopefully I’ll at least finish what I’m currently working on before this month is out! I’ve got a few things that I’d really, really like to finish before Padawan makes his appearance, since I have absolutely no idea how much luck I’ll have in getting both boys sleeping at the same time for awhile. Wish me luck!

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.)

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!

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!

 

 

February in review

IMG_3600Now that it’s a third of the way through March, right? I’ll start off with another project that isn’t quite substantial enough for its own post. Having learned from my complete fail with Hobbit’s Christmas stocking, which is still cut out and completely disassembled, I decided to be more on top of things and make his Easter basket early! I got the instructions from here, and I’m not entirely sure I did it right, since mine looks very shallow in comparison with the picture. Let’s blame the fact that I’m still only averaging 90 minutes of sleep at a time before Hobbit wakes me up at night, ok? But it works. The outer light blue was from my stash, leftover from an apron that I made as a gift for a friend’s bridal shower. The stripey inside was from my mom’s stash, since she quite happily lets me bust her stash when I don’t have the right quilt cotton on hand. I tried to make it not babyish, so it can grow with him and be reused every year.

IMG_3601And here it is with the stuff we’ve collected to give him this year, minus one thing that I just can’t seem to quite remember to bring upstairs to put in it. Babies that put everything in their mouths but aren’t quite ready for finger food are hard to stuff Easter baskets for! Hopefully subsequent years will be easier.

(Yes, that is a stuffed BB-8!)

State of the Stash

Well, I added a lot more than I wanted to, since in-laws left unwanted fabric at my figurative doorstep again. But I’m only counting what I decided to keep, since I already gave one piece away and the other three bolts are not things I can think of any use for. So those will be heading to the thrift store soon. Also, I did end up having to purchase a piece of fabric for diaper inserts. But I did also give away a significant portion of my scraps and small yardage pieces to my sewing student– yeah, that finally started up again this month, and she’s more likely to make doll clothes than I will anytime soon. In fact, she jumped right into two of those pieces at her last lesson to do just that!

Fabric sewn: (3.25 yards for the Appleton dress, .5 for the Easter basket, for the Plantain raglan, plus scraps)
Fabric given away: (3.25 yards plus a bunch of uncounted scraps to student)

Total in: about 14.5 (3 for the diapers, about 11.5 for the two bolts that I decided to keep from the in-laws.)
Total out: about 8.75
Total in stash: about 416. Hopefully this month I will manage to use more than I bring it. Surely that has to be the last of whatever Doug’s grandmother wants to unload…right?

la vie en rose

Appleton DressSo, finishing a red dress around the middle of February– how cliche is that? I don’t even like Valentine’s Day! But I wanted to try this pattern out as a winter dress, and the stashed fabric that was the best fit just happened to fall into this color scheme. So walking stereotype it is.

The pattern is the Appleton dress, from Cashmerette Patterns. Look at me, jumping on a bandwagon before it’s been long gone for once! I’ll admit that super easy nursing access was my main motivation. I’m assuming it will be ok, but I haven’t field-tested that yet. I made the smallest size that the pattern offered, so I’m not sure how well it will work if/when I lose those last 5 or so pounds, but I guess the beauty of a wrap dress is that it’s adjustable, right?

It’s a fairly simple pattern, though making it wasn’t entirely without issues. For one thing, I somehow managed to reverse the direction it was supposed to wrap in. Let’s blame sleep deprivation for that one. But I just reversed everything else and it worked out fine. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that my sewing machine just absolutely hates ITY knits. You probably shouldn’t look too closely at the stitching around the neckline. And I had to do a lot of experimenting to come up with a stitch combo that had a minimum of skipping and still gave me the needed stretch for the hems. Scraps of pattern tracing paper ended up being the key to success. Saving up for a coverstitch machine is sounding better and better!

IMG_3491The one adjustment I made to this pattern was lengthening the sleeve to match up with the largest size. The resulting length is still a bit shorter than I’d prefer, even with the narrow hem, so I’ll need to add more if I make a long-sleeved version again. I was also a little disappointed with the width of the under wrap. The bodice is fine, but visions of skirt-related wardrobe malfunctions have been dancing in my head since I first tried it on! So, for my own peace of mind, I’m securing it on the inside with a piece of elastic sewn to the inside seam, with a snap on the other end to attach it to the inner skirt piece. Hopefully that will be enough to keep me from flashing anyone when the wind kicks up. (I did take some pictures, but every single one of them turned out blurry. Ugh.)

IMG_3469(Baby boy was getting fussy, so this was the point in the photoshoot where I had to pick him up to calm him down.) I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this fabric pairing with it. The ITY works great, stitching issues aside. It’s really more the print, and specifically how it looks on me. I can’t quite shake the fear that it looks a little matronly, which is certainly not how I want to feel when my birthday is a couple of weeks away! Admittedly, this brick/peachy-coral/grey color scheme is almost the opposite of the blue-green everything that usually catches my eye. And the print is essentially giant roses, which are also not the sort of floral that I usually go for. This was one of the four “coupons” pieces I brought back from Paris about a year and a half ago, and even then, I was questioning what was attracting me to it so strongly. I’d just gone through the whole Wardrobe Architect challenge, and made my color palettes, and this just mostly doesn’t fit with that. Maybe Paris was messing with my head? But it came home with me nonetheless. And at least it didn’t linger too long in my stash, at least by my standards.

I really hope I have a finished project that I feel better about before too long. It really feels like I’ve had more ambivalence than hits lately. It’s a little frustrating.

the stashbusting wagon ran me over

Since falling off the wagon was a recent topic of discussion in the Stashbusting Sewalong group on Facebook, this really is the best analogy I was able to come up with! The thing is, I actually have been doing well with not buying fabric overall. I bought only two yards of fabric in November, and both pieces were for immediate Christmas projects for Hobbit. It’s just that people keep destashing onto me! This time, it was a friend of my grandmother’s, and my mom and I ended up splitting this pile based on what we each thought we could use. I haven’t had a chance to tally up the yardage yet. But at least this time, there were pieces that will be good for little boy clothes. Mostly plaid.

lace-layered RenfrewAnother thing it had was a piece of mystery blue knit, which I was actually able to mostly use up right away. The November theme for The Monthly Stitch was a capsule wardrobe. Since I technically finished my black Espresso leggings in November (and they fit SO much better after tweaking), I decided to pair that with my exploding Tardis Rae skirt as my pre-sewn piece, and add a top. The last pile of free stash had this blue mesh lace stuff, and the mystery blue knit from this pile, while not a perfect match, went well enough with the mesh that I decided to layer it.

IMG_3124It’s another Sewaholic Renfrew, of course. The bands in plain knit would be easier to deal with than cleanly hemming the mesh and knit together. Also, I was fairly confident that I could adjust it to work a little better for nursing, since my older Renfrews, while admittedly snug at the moment, can still be pulled up for access as needed. I didn’t make this a full blown nursing top, but I added back to the waist (my old ones were graded down two sizes), and also added an extra inch to just the front.

I couldn’t do a pattern hack, no matter how small, without issues. This time, I forgot that adding to the front did not mean I should also increase the neck binding circumference. I ended up with a baggy, saggy neckline that took me a week to rip out. I’m going to blame sleep deprivation for this one. November was rough with the baby, to the point where we’re having to start solid food earlier than I’d intended just to see if more food in his tummy will keep him sleeping for more than two hours (or often less) at a time. (Day one, which was Tuesday, worked out pretty well. Day two, which was yesterday, saw him still waking up every two hours like clockwork. Ugh. At least it’s less than a month until we were going to start him on solids anyway.)

IMG_3164On the plus side, once I finally got that neckline off and gathered the excess to fix that–and the extra stretching that happened when it was stitched on the first time–it came together really fast. Even though I still had to break it into three sessions, and therefore didn’t finish until December 1st. Oh well.

I had to make it short sleeved, due to the amount of fabric I had–I have just enough for a baby tee shirt left over. I think. But I’m ok with that, because this one will be easy to layer and will also go well with a couple of my older print skirts, assuming they’ll fit again as well. The lace and two toned blue keeps it from feeling boring to me as a solid top, which is usually my big issue with solids. All told, I think I busted about 3 yards on this top, though I didn’t measure the knit before starting. I do have some of the mesh left over, but it’s admittedly kind of cheap fabric–good for an experimental top like this, but not something I necessarily want to bother making another outfit with. So I honestly might just use it as stuffing in a plushie I’m making for Hobbit!

I have to say, I’m really liking this mini-capsule/complete outfit style of sewing! My love of prints has definitely left me with orphan clothes more than once, and this is an easy way for me to get more cohesion in my wardrobe without resorting to sewing all neutral basics. I still don’t feel like I’m at a point where I can really justify picking out my own fabrics to add to my stash, given what I’ve acquired lately. (Even though I did buy two things yesterday to use as wearable muslins for some recently acquired patterns, because I just didn’t have the yardage required. I think I’m going to have to up my default “I don’t know what I’m going to do with this but I like it” buys from 2 yards to 3.) But I think I’d like to continue this way of adding to my closet as I can.

baby’s first cosplay

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen the big reveal photo. But of course I still have to share it here, because the first costume is a big milestone in the life of any kid raised by a geek, right?

Anyway, we didn’t really bother with Halloween this year, since taking an only child who can’t eat solid food yet is just an obvious parental fabric grab. (He ended up being asleep when the kids in our neighborhood were out anyway, so it’s just as well.) But I still wanted to make him a costume. I’d figured maybe I could just run an errand somewhere to show it off, but then one of my good friends told me about a local Halloween parade the Sunday before. She has a toddler and a boy that’s 3 days younger than my own, and we’ve already decided that the boys are going to be friends (at least as far as we can encourage it), so we took them out for their first Halloween event together. So, without further ado…

Hobbit baby!Hobbit as a hobbit. Bet you never saw that coming, right? The catalyst was the booties, which my mom knitted and gave us last Christmas. So I decided then that a hobbit lad or lass had to be the first costume. It was a pretty easy costume to put together, minus the struggle of finding hands-free time to do it. I ended up resorting to going to my parents’ house early on several teaching days, and sewing while my mom held him. (Naptime crafting…the struggle is real.) The shirt and vest are the components that I made. He already had brown knit pants in his current size, so I just folded the hems up to shorten them. hobbit shirt

I didn’t have patterns for either piece, so I had to trace off some of his clothes and draft my own. I used a button down shirt as the basis for the shirt, but decided that I didn’t want to bother buttoning up a shirt that the front would be mostly hidden on. Hobbit is very squirmy when one tries to dress him now! Besides, my fabric source was a white t-shirt in my refashion bin. So I used Velcro in the back to close it up easily, and seamed the front to facilitate the faux button down look. I based the look off of Frodo in the movies, since my little Hobbit’s hair color is closest to his, and his look is less of a choking hazard than Pippin’s scarf. That shirt has a Mandarin-style collar, so I just used the collar stand by itself, finished the edges down to the center front seam to make a sort of v-neck, and left it at that. I altered the sleeves to add some gathering.

The cuffs were a tricky decision. I could have finished them more cleanly, but that would require sewing tiny cuffs and sleeves in the round. So I opted for the simpler route and finished them flat. I probably should have sewed the bottom of the cuff seam first and then stitched in the ditch to attach the lining to the sleeve, rather than fold the seam allowance under and topstitch like I did. But I didn’t think of that till halfway through the first one. I blame sleep deprivation.

vestAs for the vest, I traced off a fleece zipped one and modified the front. I did have it cut out of a stashed piece of brown fabric that was too little yardage to make anything adult-sized, but ended up ditching that in favor of craft felt, because I was running out of time and felt doesn’t need edge finishing or lining. So four seams + snaps hidden under buttons = done. The bonus is that it looks kind of like wool, without me having to touch it. It burnssss ussss, we hatessssss it, Preciousssssssssss! Goll….ahem. 2015-11-11_09-54-20

He seemed comfortable enough, and he was definitely cute! I’m already pondering what costume to make him for next year–he’ll probably be old enough to go out, but not old enough to go up to houses alone. Obviously, this means I need to dress up with him, right? Oh, darn. I did try this year– I didn’t have time to sew anything new, so I cobbled together a vaguely Elf-ish outfit out of my olive green Hummingbird skirt (which is snug, but zips up now, yay!), a funky-sleeved shirt that I made back in college and still love, and my costume cloak that I sewed up years ago. And boots. Always the boots.

A quick note about October totals: 4 yards out, plus the t-shirt from the bin, no yards in. I think that leaves me with around 347 left. I will need to buy fabric before the end of the year–all signs point to me needing to make a fourth size of diapers, because he’s already on the largest snap size for the small and so there’s no way medium will last me till he’s potty training age–but I’m in good shape to hit my goal of ending the year with less fabric than I started with.