April 17, 2015

Tutorial: Nursing dress adaptation with an invisible zipper

I was so pleased with how my last maternity/nursing maxi-dress turned out that I decided to make a second one. This time, I made a tutorial for how I did the zipper part, in case it helps any sewists who may be expecting in the future!

SuppliesYou'll need:
  • A knit dress pattern with a seam under the bust. I'm also intending to wear this during the remainder of my third trimester, so I'm using the top of the Cake Tiramisu dress with the midriff band and skirt of the out-of-print Simplicity 3678, since I already adapted that skirt pattern both for extra belly room and a maxi length. But if you're making this just to wear for nursing and have an idea of what size to do the waistband, the Tiramisu or Red Velvet dress would be a great option as is.
  • An invisible zipper that's long enough to fit across your ribs from one side seam to the other. (A few extra inches probably won't hurt. Mine was a 22" length, and I ended up chopping off somewhere around 2" at the end.)
  • Clear elastic
  • I used both an invisible zipper foot and a regular zipper foot to do this portion of the construction. 
Before beginning the zipper (these three steps were completed before I started taking pictures, and you can see the results in the first picture):

1. Sew the bodice pieces, including side seams. Depending on the pattern you choose, you may need to alter the order of construction. (Normally, the sleeve and side seams of the Tiramisu are sewn all at once after the front and back of the dress are constructed flat, but I went ahead and finished the sleeves/sewed the side seams together before taking this picture, since constructing the side seams around the zipper would be much more difficult than the other way around. It may take a little more effort to get the side seams to match up between pieces this way. For my current fitting needs, the big advantage to this was that I was able to put on the mostly-finished bodice and adjust the gathering and the overlap of the neckline to the larger bust size that I'm currently working with.Which meant that I was able to use my already-sized pattern from before I was pregnant as-is.)

2. Sew the midriff/waistband pieces together at the sides, or skirt pieces if your pattern does not have an extra band. Depending on the length of your dress, you might be able to do the waist and skirt pieces together. I'm only working with the midriff band for mine, since I'm doing a long skirt and don't want the weight of it to distort things as I sew. (Plus it's a lot easier to take pictures that way!)

3. Finish the lower edge of the bodice and the top edge of the waistband/skirt. I know knits don't unravel, but it does add some stability to the edge. And since we're working with stretchy fabric and a non-stretchy zipper, that is never a bad thing.

To add the zipper:

Front bodice w/ zipper1. Sew one long side of the zipper across the bottom of the bodice, as you normally would for the right side of a vertically-inserted invisible zipper. I started the teeth at the side seam on the left side, because I'm right-handed, but you could easily flip this around if you're left-handed. I also brought some of the extra length past the right side seam and into the back, just to give myself a little more give for opening. I probably could have done this for the left seam as well to make the whole thing more centered, but I really don't want to have to be reaching behind me with one hand while trying to wrangle a squirming baby with the other! Better to leave the zipper pull where I can more easily see it.

Front waistband w/ zipper2. Baste the other side of the zipper onto the waistband, being careful to align the top edge of the teeth with the correct side seam. Close the zipper, check to make sure both seams are lining up on either side of the zipper, and adjust if necessary. Once you're satisfied with how the sides are lining up, stitch over the basting line. When opened, the two pieces will look kind of like this.

Back bodice/waistband3. Sew the back of the bodice and the back of the waistband together. I added clear elastic here, both to help support the weight of the maxi-skirt and to allow it to bounce back if I need to stretch the dress to get it on over my chest later. (I had to do two rows of stitching here--to get the seam closed as much as possible, I used my zipper foot on a longer stitch length. But my machine doesn't have a stretch stitch, and I can't zig-zag with my zipper foot, so I added a second row of a narrow zig-zag close by, just in case some of the straight stitches pop. I know it looks a little ripply when it's flat on the table, but the other dress is like that too, and it's not really noticeable when wearing.)

4. Shorten zipper if necessary, and press back seams up towards bodice.

5. Continue on with the dress from here-- I still need to add the skirt pieces and hem it, but that's it!

Zipper when closedWhen the zipper is closed, it looks like a normal seam, except for that pull tab...

Zipper when opened

...and then once you open it, easy breastfeeding access without having to stretch out your neckline!

Hopefully that was clear enough--let me know if I need to clarify anything! And for those of you who are moms that sew, I'd love to hear if you have any other nursing hacks you like to add into your clothes.

April 9, 2015

They're finally done!!

My biggest baby-sewing project, that is: the diapers. I really doubt this is the sort of thing most people reading this would be sewing, so feel free to skip this post if you think it'll bore you. But given that this was a 2-person, 4-month job, the end is definitely worth celebrating!

Also, I'd like to give a shoutout to my mom--I know she reads this blog when she can, and I literally could not have done this and finished with this much time to spare without all of her help. My sanity would not be very intact either, for that matter. So thanks, Mom!!!

All the diapers!!So...this is what 72 cloth diapers plus inserts look like, at least as far as I could fit them into the picture. There's 24 apiece of three different sizes: newborn, small and medium, because according to the pattern, these three sizes should fit him all the way from 8.5 to 35 pounds. Worst case scenario, if Hobbit is a fast grower, I may have to make a batch of larges sometime, but now that I know the process, hopefully one set would go fast. I also went for prints/colors that I considered to be fun-but-gender-neutral, since we started this process before I knew he's a boy, and ideally, these will hold up well enough that I can use them again for any sibling he might get down the road. But even if they don't, I think the money savings on using them with one child will make this effort worthwhile!

The pattern we used is called Darling Diapers Unlimited. The nice thing about this pattern is that you can use it to make pretty much any type of fitted cloth diaper that you want. The not-so-nice thing about this pattern is that it makes the directions ridiculously confusing to follow. I ended up making two different styles, and literally went through the directions to re-write out a step-by-step guide for Mom and I to follow, only using the printed directions as a reference point after that.

For all of the diapers, I used poly-urethane laminate for the outside, a softer athletic mesh for the inside layer, and cotton fleece for the "soaker" layers. I was able to get the mesh from Joann's, but I got everything else from Diaper Sewing Supplies. The quality of their snaps and elastic sounded a lot better than the Babyville Boutique stuff I could get at Joann's, and I liked that the company aims to supply quality American-made products in an eco-friendly manner (including their PUL manufacturing). Also, frankly, they have a much bigger variety of prints and they're way more fun!

A little more detail on the two styles...

Left side: Unfolded. Right side: Folded and velcroed closed.
The newborns are basically what you'd consider an "all-in-one" diaper. I did have to wing it a bit on the padding, because I'd already cut everything as rectangles to fold into thirds before I realized that the stuff-the-pocket type wasn't even listed as an option for this size, due to how tiny they are. So I added a layer of the athletic mesh on one third of the soaker for softness, and then sewed them into the back. Since they're still mostly detached, I'm hoping this will help them dry faster. I also ended up stitching a little extra fleece underneath in the backside region--hopefully it's not too TMI to say that the soaker ended up being narrow enough that I was nervous about things being contained back there without a little extra width. Ahem. I used velcro for the closure, to make it easier to handle the diaper changes while we're first learning to do this, and did the scooped front option so that it wouldn't rub against his belly button while that's still healing over.

Clockwise from top left: Unstuffed, the liner, and stuffed.
For the small and medium sizes, I did more of a "pocket diaper" for ease of cleaning and especially speed of drying. So all of the soaker layers are the tri-fold rectangles, and can be pulled out for washing. I also decided to do snaps instead of velcro for these two sizes--I figured those would stay on a little better once he starts getting mobile, and also be less likely to pick up all of the dog hair that seems to accumulate around here. That, and since these heavy-duty plastic snaps don't separate quite as easily as the usual metal sewing ones I've used in the past, hopefully that will keep him from succeeding in taking them off himself! Here's hoping that I can keep the two sizes straight, since the solid blue/green and the TARDIS print were used for both of them, and I figured I was spending enough and therefore didn't get size labels.

The stashbusting total: a whopping 31.25 yards! Granted, I did buy all of these fabrics specifically for this project. I did have to buy an extra yard of the athletic mesh, though that got used up. I bought a little extra plain PUL from Joann's to help reinforce snaps once I ran out of scraps, and still have maybe a yard of that left, but I purposely bought extra so I can make a changing pad for the diaper bag. (Hopefully that will happen soon.) And since the rectangular soakers took less fabric than I thought, I have nearly 2 yards of the cotton fleece left over. It's got a pretty rough texture on the outside, so I don't think it'll make a good sweatshirt or anything like that. But I have some ideas for non-clothes things I can use it for, if I don't end up needing to make a set of large-sized diapers.  

And since the whole point of this undertaking was to save us money long-term, here's the breakdown: I ended up paying a total of around $350 for all of the supplies, which translates to less than $5 per diaper. It looks like the absolute best I can do buying the cloth ones new is around $6.67 apiece. I got this price off of a 6-pack on Amazon, and those are ones that have a bajillion snaps so you can try to make the same diaper fit the kid as he/she grows. Definitely cheaper, but I wasn't sure how well they'd hold up from all of the washing. If I was getting the more sized ones like I made, it would be at least around $18 apiece. Which means I would have only gotten about 19 diapers for the same cost.

On the flip side, I did a little googling, and according to Mint.com, the average cost of 1 year of disposables is around $800. I know I'll have to occasionally use the disposables for instances like church nursery/if Doug's mom is babysitting for us, since I really can't see her wanting to deal with these. (My mom is totally on board, though.) Even so, aside from the cost of detergent and my time in carting the laundry around/getting loads started and put away, using these as my primary means of diapering should pay for itself in less than 6 months. Which means more money for fabric, right?

April 1, 2015

the March round-up, and April/May plans!

I'm really liking these monthly round-ups. Since I've been mostly doing finished project posts lately, it's a good way to keep tabs both on my stashbusting attempts and the longer-term projects/quickies that don't necessarily need individual posts.

Projects finished this month: 6 total. There was the diaper bag, the skirt and matching baby pants, the top I blogged the other day, and 2 more baby projects.

Project #1, with backstory: The bulk of the clothes I've gotten for Hobbit so far have been courtesy of my mother-in-law, who keeps finding people who are getting rid of baby boy stuff and snagging it for us. For the most part, it's been like-new or very gently worn, so I think we'll be able to use most of it--though I did send a stack of newborn onesies to the thrift store, because they were specifically labeled 5-8 pounds. Given the weight updates I've been getting at my ultrasounds, and the weights that both Doug and I were at when we were born, he'd probably fit those for a week, tops. And I also passed a few things on to one of my best friends, because neither Doug nor I cared about keeping the sports-themed clothes (they never have hockey anything on them and he doesn't care about any other sport), she and her husband actually like football and stuff, and she's due to have a boy about a month and a half after me--instant friend for Hobbit! Yay! She had a girl for her first baby, so all she really needs for this one is clothes, and I don't mind sharing. Anyway. There were also a few things that I thought were generally cute, and mostly in good condition, except for some obvious staining around the necklines. I had a little mental battle between my cheapness thriftiness and not wanting to dress my kid in clothes with mystery stains that he didn't make. Then I remembered that I can sew, and therefore I can still get some use out of this stuff!

So I took these cute-but-stained pajamas, and this organic cotton onesie that was in excellent condition, but a little boring. And I cut the frog applique off and hand-stitched it onto the onesie--I wasn't sure how well my machine would navigate those little tiny openings, since the side seams were already closed up! (The only before picture I have was on my phone. Yes, that's Doug playing with toys in the background--if you follow me on Instagram, you know all about my excellent thrift score on a box of K'Nex over the weekend!)

Ta-da! Much cuter onesie, in about 20 minutes. And I still have other unstained parts of the original pajamas left--maybe I can hack the legs and sleeves into a little hat or something?

Project #2: Since hockey apparently doesn't count as a sport in the minds of people who design fabric for baby clothes, I'm having to get creative. After all, if I can make geeky stuff for the baby, I should accommodate Doug's interests too, right? So I used some fabric left over from the one hockey bib that I made a few months ago to make a project that I promised I'd do.

He mostly gets flak for being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, since we live in Flyers country, but his other favorite team is the Colorado Avalanche, and it's a lot harder to find pre-made anything for that team for some reason. Even on the internet. But I did find some quilt cotton. So now our kid has Avalanche pants. The pattern is Simplicity 1330, slightly adapted because I didn't have the right size elastic and partially because I didn't want to bother putting the elastic in the bottom of the legs. The waistband came out huge with the length they said to cut, too, and the casings weren't cooperating well with my wider elastic, so I also cut a few inches off. Hopefully they'll fit him ok--these are supposed to be 6-12 month. Otherwise, super-easy--I had these cut and completely sewn in an afternoon.

Stashbusting totals for the month: About 6 1/2 yards used up. I still need to figure out what to do with the rest of that Avalanche fabric, since I have maybe 1/4 yard left. I also bought 1 yard of quilt cotton from Jo-Ann's, because it was another hockey-themed print, and I don't see those often. Still, used more than I bought. So yay! Total for the year so far: 27.75 yards down, just under 360 still here.

The in-progress stuff: The good news is that the newborn and small-sized diapers are completely done! I just need to finish up with the mediums, and my mom got a good chunk of that done. So I just need to finish with leg elastic and snaps. It's definitely easier (and less boring) doing that sort of assembly-line sewing with someone else. As for my Lord of the Rings-themed quiet book, I haven't made as much progress on that, since a nice chunk of the time I'd normally be spending on that was spent on diaper snap installation. But I have finished up to page 5 of (I think) 11, aside from machine-sewing the backing page on two of them, and am working on the 6th. So I'm about halfway there.

How I did with March's goals: Well, the diaper bag is done, and I managed to make 2 pieces of clothing for myself instead of one, so I did well! I haven't actually started that massive cooking project yet, save making a massive grocery list and at least figuring out which recipes to start with. But that is definitely on the agenda for this month, since I decided that it would be better to wait until closer to the time that we would actually be eating this food. Less freezer burn that way.

April's plans (and beyond): 

I mentioned this sewalong in my last post, and since everything I'm sewing right now fits one of the three categories, the timing is perfect! I'm not entirely certain what order I'll end up making things in, so I'm just going to list all of the sewing that I'm hoping to get done before June by category, and see what actually happens.

1) Baby Clothing
Not 100% sure of my plans here yet, though I do have some things set aside and some ideas.
  • I have a few knit scraps pulled out that should be just enough to make a baby t-shirt. I'm also planning on freezer paper stenciling it since both fabrics are plain--with a geeky reference, of course! 
  • I do have two more partially useable free baby clothes that could also get the refashion treatment. 
  • I also have a couple of patterns lying around that would be fun to try out. Including one for adorable soft-sole baby shoes, and a button-down shirt one that I recently acquired. I even have an old work shirt of Doug's hiding in my refashion bin that I can use for fabric, and I think it would be cute (and free!) to cut down Daddy's old shirts for little boy clothes!
  • And I guess finishing up those diapers can count as clothes, right? I mean, he has to wear them...
 2) Baby Accessories and Other Items, such as quilts, toys, burp cloths, bibs, etc.
I should be solid on bibs and burp cloths, mostly thanks to my mom!
  • But I do want to make a portable changing mat to go in the diaper bag, since I have fabric left over from that. 
  • I have a scrap quilt in-progress, which I'm planning on just using as a throw-on-the-floor play mat, but that's probably lowest on my priority list right now. (A, he won't be able to sit up for awhile, and B, that might be an ideal project to work in 5 minutes of sewing here and there shortly after he's born, since it's all stitching strips onto blocks.) 
  • The quiet book definitely counts as a toy, and I did get some suggestions about maybe turning the rest of that Avalanche fabric into a stuffed toy, via the Stashbusting Sewalong group on Facebook.
  • I also have leftover towel fabric from when I made a baby gift (for the same friend mentioned earlier) a couple of years ago, so I'd like to see if I can squeeze a hooded towel out of it. 

3) For Parents
  • I have one more nursing/maternity maxi I want to make, as mentioned in my last post. I think that, for ease/speed of assembly, I'm going to just mash up the Tiramisu bodice, which I've already made twice and I know has some room for expansion, and the already-altered Simplicity skirt pattern from the black dress.  Which means that I'll probably do the invisible zipper nursing alteration trick again, so maybe a tutorial post will happen?
  • As mentioned in my last post, I may give that Megan Nielsen pattern another go, with a few tweaks, since I'll need something sleeveless for the hot days too. 
  • Given the colors of either project, I can also use the scraps to alter a not-quite-nursing bra that I picked up recently. The straps are the type that can snap closed in the front, so it just needs a little tweaking. 
  • I also need to make myself a nursing cover. I'm pretty sure I know which stashed quilting cotton will be sacrificed for this cause, I just need to do it. 
Hopefully this isn't too overly ambitious. But I'm determined to cram in as much time with my sewing machine as I can now, because I suspect it'll be hard to do for awhile!

March 30, 2015

Pattern review: Simplicity 1469

Simplicity 1469AKA, the Megan Nielsen nursing/maternity top. Though I'm linking to the Simplicity version, since that's what was available to me, and therefore what I used. Not quite so stealth maternity from the front as my last two makes for myself, is it? I'd originally planned to draft a pattern for this fabric from this thrifted/refashioned tunic, since I've had that for years and it's been working very well as a maternity top. I think it would work well for nursing, too. And I was hoping that if it worked out, I'd be able to wear this fabric anytime, pregnant or not. Well, I did draft the pattern, but ended up not having enough fabric to try it out--I wouldn't have been able to do any length sleeve on this. So this was plan B.

It's been awhile since I've done a good old-fashioned pattern review, and this is the first thing I've made for myself in awhile that didn't involve some kind of DIY maternity hacking. So here goes! For the record, this is me modeling at 29 weeks, according to my phone app. (Just shy of 11 weeks left--whaaaaaat? Also, I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around the whole week-to-month conversion. But hey, I'm in the third trimester now! Which is why I look tired in every single picture, I guess. I tried.)

Simplicity 1469 side viewPattern: Simplicity 1469

Description: From the website: "Stay comfortable and stylish during your pregnancy in this flattering maternity top and dress. These items are just what you need for discreet nursing once your baby arrives, just pull down v neck to reveal opening."

Pattern sizing: XS-XL. I made a medium, since that was my pre-pregnancy size.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Pretty much, yeah. Maybe a little looser in the sleeve area than it looked on the model.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I thought so. Though I somehow completely missed that I was supposed to cut the midriff pieces twice, and didn't realize that until I was halfway through constructing the back. More on that later.

Simplicity 1469 on dummyWhat did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 
Like: The styling. Since it involves pleats instead of gathers, it's a sleeker look than a lot of maternity tops tend to be. And hanging on Donna, it actually looks like it could pass for a drapier non-maternity top. Never mind that I fill up the bodice way better than she does right now.

Dislike: Since this originated as an independent pattern, though it's now officially licensed to Simplicity, I was surprised at how big the sizing ended up. Especially up top! I think that it may just be a case of being too big in the back for me, because I tried pinching it in a few inches and it seemed to reduce the front gapping quite a bit. Though I'm not going to do anything to take it in just yet, since this means there should be plenty of room to accommodate whatever happens to my general torso region over the next 2 1/2 months! (I may go back and add a back seam later to reduce the amount of fabric, if it really bugs me.)

Simplicity 1469 nursing detailI will also admit that I'm concerned about the functionality as a nursing top. They weren't kidding when they said "discreet". Obviously I'm not going to model this part on myself, and Donna's sizing is nowhere close to mine currently. So the openings don't sit as low on me as they do on here, but look how small they are! I don't want to deconstruct the entire front, since serging the 5/8" seam allowance means I undoubtedly lost the little snips I made to mark the pleats. But I am seriously considering going back and cutting those side openings a little bigger, even if I have to hand-stitch the edges. I'll have to see how it works once I'm actually attempting to use it for that.

Fabric used: An ITY jersey that my mom gave me for Christmas. For stashbusting tracking purposes, this used all but an approximately 11" long cut of 2 yards. I should probably just throw out those 11", but it's so hard to let go of prints I like!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Back to that midriff bit--since I failed to notice how many times I was supposed to cut those pieces out and was just skimming ahead on the directions when I started this, I decided to construct the fronts and backs flat to facilitate seam matching. I'm honestly not sorry that I did that, because another layer of jersey plus serged seams would have just made it bulky around the empire waist, and I really don't need purposely added bulk in my clothes right now! Plus, I really do think that made it easier to get the seamlines to line up. Even though it involved multiple rounds of basting and unpicking to do so.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Let's put it this way: I don't think I'd sew it in this particular type of knit again. I'm not happy with the underlay neckline gaping--the polyester wasn't pressing that great, and I had to resort to wonder tape to stick it down long enough to stitch it. So I think that contributed a lot. Of course, my iron is currently either possessed or in the throes of death, and my sewing machine and serger both also weren't very happy to work with this fabric--I was fighting skipped stitches and serger tension issues the entire time, despite jersey needles and walking feet and such. All of this combined resulted in the edge finishings and hems looking a little more homemade-in-the-bad-way than I would prefer. Sigh.

All of this to say, I would like to attempt this pattern again, but in a more natural fiber that might have better stretch and recovery/get along better with my machines. I actually do have some of the patterned knit and a lot more of the solid teal left over from my Plantain top, and I think it would work great as a sleeveless version. But if I do make this again, I think I'm going to make the nursing openings much bigger! And maybe add some elastic in the crossover V-section to help it bounce back better. And probably take some of that width out of the back pieces.

We'll see if I get to it, since the window of opportunity on maternity sewing still having a point is coming to a close. Also, I have plans to make another nursing-friendly maxi-dress that will be taking priority over this pattern. I need something fun to wear to my baby shower, after all! And aside from that, my sewing plans for April are mainly centering around the Small Human Beings Sewalong that Cindy and two other new-to-me bloggers are hosting. Not that everything I've been sewing for months wouldn't qualify anyway, but the timing couldn't be more perfect for me, since it's early enough in this last trimester that I'm not dead exhausted (even if I look it), and I don't actually have to compete with said small human being for sewing time yet. More on those plans to come.

March 21, 2015

it's the time of the season

Happy spring, right? Here in the good old Mid-Atlantic, ours started with winter trying to get in one last sucker punch! I think it's time for a breakup with cold weather, because I am OVER winter clothes. I know I say that every single year, but with my currently limited wardrobe choices, it's even worse. I've been wearing the same 2 pairs of pants (with the jeans mixed in as I can) and the same 3 cardigans almost every single day. And my one purchased winter maternity top is looking rather dingy and sad. I guess that's what I get for buying a cream sweatery-looking top.

That being said, with the limited window I have remaining in which making clothes for myself to wear throughout the rest of this pregnancy still has a point, I'm trying to focus on things that will carry me through the spring and into the summer. And, hopefully, still be wearable afterwards.

Tie dye maternity skirt frontEnter my new maxi-skirt! The fabric is a luscious-feeling bamboo-rayon jersey blend, part of the mini-stash of knits that my parents gave me for Christmas. It took me a lot of thinking initially about whether this fabric wanted to be a skirt or a top, but once I realized that I only have 2 pairs of non-jeans maternity pants left that still fit (I've outgrown the third, which were a little small on me when I first chopped them into maternity pants), and they're both reconstructed corduroy pants, a warmer-weather friendly piece of bottomwear won out.

This month's Stashbusting Sewalong theme is sewing with patterns that you already have. So I based this skirt rather loosely on Simplicity 7229, which I've used a few times before for skirts and capri pants. (I'm having to link this to my Pinterest since it's out of print, so hopefully it'll work!) The original skirt is pretty basic-- the two pieces for the front and back are the same, and it has a wide yoke with a drawstring top. I'd always made it in wovens before, but here's the changes (aside from knit fabric) that I made to make it more maternity-friendly:
    skirt full panel
  • Added several inches to the length of the front/back pieces. Which I actually did the last time I made this pattern, because the original pattern was this awkward mid-calf length, and I ended up hating that and chopping off the previously made skirts to a shorter length.
  • I did also have to narrow that at the bottom a bit, because my fabric wasn't quite wide enough to accommodate the extra width. But since it's stretchy, that's ok. Especially since I'm starting to get into the waddle phase and my steps aren't quite as big as they used to be.
  • While I used the yoke/drawstring waistband pieces to get a general idea of how wide to cut it, I replaced that with a slightly skinnier but much longer rectangular piece. The idea is that I can use it to cover up the baby bump for now--the over-bump stuff sits on me way better than under-bump stuff, which just feels awkward and like it's constantly on the verge of falling down. It's a little loose at the very top of the band, around the rib area. But I'm not too worried about it.
skirt yoga waistband
    It folds down into a yoga-style waistband, so I'm hoping that it'll be snug enough that I can wear this skirt once I'm a little smaller around the waist again, too! It's obviously hard to tell how that will work right now, but a girl can dream, right? 

    Overall, I'm really pleased with how this adaptation worked out, and how fast it was to sew together! I did all of it, including cutting out, in 2 sewing sessions. Which is pretty speedy for me. Depending on how this works out to wear afterwards, this just may be how this skirt pattern ends up getting used from now on. It's so tempting to find more of this type of knit and whip out a few more! But I have several pieces of knit that I still want to make other clothes out of to wear in the meantime, so I shall try to restrain myself.

    I used up pretty close to a full 2 yards on this. As an added bonus, I had just enough fabric left to make a little something for the Hobbit! We're actually doing pretty well with collecting baby clothes so far, largely thanks to my mother-in-law, who's brought over multiple bags of things that neighbors and acquaintances were getting rid of.  At least, we're doing pretty well with onesies and pajamas. What seems to be largely lacking is pants. Given his nickname, all I can think of is that old Lord of the Rings movie meme where certain words get substituted with "pants". The most famous being...
    Which never fails to crack me up, but Hobbit is going to need some pants eventually. So I made some.

    tie dye leggingsThe pattern was a freebie that I found on Craftsy, the Go To Baby Leggings. I wasn't entirely sure about tie-dyed pants for a boy, but a few kind sewcialists on Instagram talked me into it, and I hope these actually end up fitting him because I think they turned out pretty cute! I made these in the 3-6 month size--partially because lightweight jersey pants going into the fall make sense, and partly because I literally did not have enough fabric left to make them any bigger. Doug was pretty impressed, I think--I cut and sewed these in their entirety on Thursday, along with finishing the skirt, and his instant reaction was that they were adorable and I should post them on Facebook. Always a good sign. I wish I knew how they were actually going to fit him, because I had these cut out and sewn together entirely in basically no time! But at least I have the pattern tested, so if it works out, I can always fall back on this as a quick project while he naps or something.

    March 14, 2015

    mama's got a brand new bag

    Diaper bag
    I'll admit, this wasn't the most fun sewing project for me. It started and ended with some issues that really put a damper on my enthusiasm. But I just couldn't bring myself to buy or register for a diaper bag when I knew I had the perfect fabric for one at home already! I've had this leaf-print suedecloth in my stash for a few years now. It was one of the pieces that I got as a Christmas present from my mom parents, and while I like the graphics, the colors in the fabric really didn't go with much of anything in my wardrobe. So I was completely stumped about what to do with it until this pregnancy happened. I guess it was just waiting to be a bag all along! So I've been plotting this one for a couple of months, even before I knew Hobbit is a boy, because the colors made me think it's gender-neutral enough to work either way.

    side pocket
    The pattern is the Professional Tote by The Creative Thimble. I'd asked my mom, who makes bags on a much more regular basis than I do, if she had any suggestions, and this was the one she came up with. I like that it's loaded with pockets! There's the zippered one plus a slide-in one shown on the first picture, a big magnetically snapped one on the opposite side, and two elastic ones on either smaller side that will be great for holding bottles and such.

    Inside, there's also a velcroed pleated pocket with a slide-in pocket on each side (the flap with the outside fabric covers the velcro one), a zippered divider pocket, and a big one that covers almost an  entire side of the lining. This lining part was where I really got stumped on the directions--the patch/pleated pockets were fine, I had no trouble figuring out the bottom of the bag, but I think I did something seriously wrong with the zipper pocket. Based on the measurements the pattern gave later, it looks like it was supposed to be something like 5" taller! But I could not make any sense of that particular part, went with what actually worked, and ended up with a divider that's maybe 4" tall, tops. By this point of the bag, I'd already spent something like an hour on this one pocket, and I was really starting to get antsy to finish so I can make some clothes again, so I didn't bother redoing it.

    (Seriously--I'm kind of worried about the clothes. My belly has outgrown the first refashioned pair of pants to the point where it hurts to wear them, my other two pairs of refashioned pants are corduroy, and I only have one skirt that's appropriate to wear for teaching--the other is denim and too short for me to comfortably wear without leggings underneath. So I'm literally running out of things to wear for work! But it's hard to justify shopping, or even too much sewing, when I only have a little over one trimester to go.)

    Aside from that pocket, as I said, I did have some issues. Though they weren't all the bag's fault. The first day I started sewing on this, my machine was having some weird issue where the stitches weren't staying in the fabric to just one side of the zipper foot--and of course that outside zipper pocket was the first thing to be sewn! Thankfully, that resolved itself after I turned the machine off and started again another day, and Bernadette has been working fine ever since. I also had a lot of trouble keeping track of what fabric was supposed to be for what piece, ended up having to re-cut a couple of things in the solid brown, and have some random rectangles left over as a result. I'm blaming pregnancy brain for that one. Getting the interfacing to stay stuck to the suedecloth in particular was also a pain, as was actually navigating sewing several stiff layers of fabric that just did not want to go around my machine. I suspect that probably would have worked better if I'd used all quilt cotton, since the suedecloth is a little thicker/more slippery than that. I finished up last night with the top zippered part, and ended up having to rip out and redo so much of it--I started by having the zipper pull face the lining instead by accident, and then the zipper somehow got twisted, so I had to rip out and redo the other side as well! But it's done, and I'm happy with the results overall, so I can move on without much disappointment.

    Stashbusting totals: I used about 2 1/4 yards of fabric from my own stash (1 1/2 of the suedecloth, and about 3/4 yard of the solid brown--which I either forgot to put in my stash list or I wrote down the wrong yardage initially, because it was listed as 1/2 yard to begin with!), plus my mom donated the quilt cotton from her stash for the lining, because it went so well. She also let me use her heavy-duty bag interfacing. I did have to buy the webbing for the straps and the two light tan zippers, but I was able to pull the third zipper (a dark brown, on the inside) from my stash as well. 

    I do have about half a yard of the suedecloth left, as well as some plain PUL that I had to buy last-minute to reinforce the closure sections of some of the diapers that I'm still working on. So I'm going to use the bulk of it up to make some kind of roll-up or fold-up changing mat that I can keep in the bag, since the suedecloth is nice and washable. But I think I can afford to take the time to make something a little more wearable first, right?

    February 28, 2015

    February month-in-review

    Aside from the dress in my last post, I thought I'd just do a recap of what else I've been making this month, since it's a lot of works-in-progress and stuff that I wouldn't give individual posts to. Also, thanks for all of the lovely birthday wishes and compliments on that dress!

    1. First off, the totals. I tend to only count stash as busted once the project is actually sewn up, so for this month, I used up a total of 9 1/2 yards of fabric. I did buy one pattern (The Sewaholic Granville blouse, since Tasia was having her big birthday sale and I actually didn't have a standard button-down shirt pattern in my stash) and a zipper, but overall, I did manage to stick with using things I had.
    • The maternity dress was 3 yards. 
    • I used half a yard of ugly quilt cotton plus some ugly quilted fabric that my mother-in-law dropped off to me the day before to make an ugly pillow to keep between my knees and help me sleep with reduced hip pain, because that's been an issue for the last couple of months and my OB suggested a thinner pillow than the one I'd been using. I didn't measure out that quilted fabric, I literally just folded it up into the size I wanted and sewed the ugly cotton into a pillowcase around it. So I'm not going to show that here, though I did post it in the Stashbusting Sewalong group on Facebook, since one category in this month's fabric contest was Ugly. (I literally don't even know how that fabric got into my stash. I didn't buy it.)
    • As for the rest, I made this:

    nursery stuffed animal hammockDoug and I almost have the nursery (aka the Hobbit Hole) set up, minus whatever we're given in the baby shower that my mom's been planning and a few minor projects. He had the idea to do a hammock for stuffed animals, since we need to keep those away from the dogs. Malkin in particular has a habit of tearing holes and ripping all of the stuffing out as soon as he gets his paws on them! I had a lot of tulle left over from making my wedding dress, because I seriously overestimated how much I would need. Good thing it's cheap. I didn't use it all up, since it was in two pieces, but I did manage to use up a 6-yard piece by cutting 4 layers and zig-zagging the edges to hold it all together, then binding the shorter edges/making tabs out of a scrap of thicker white cotton from my scrap bin. Not bad for an afternoon's work, I think, and I'm happy that I found a way to use up some tulle on a project for a boy!

    For the record, a majority of the stuffed animals in there are actually ones I'd kept from my own childhood/teenage years that had some sentimental value. Though the Donald Duck and the little German shepherd puppy were gifts from the soon-to-be grandparents, and there's a bunch of Dr. Seuss-style fish that my mom made as well.

    2. I'd mentioned earlier in the month that I had some pretty massive, time-consuming baby projects to make, so I thought I'd give the update on that.

    newborn diaperFirst of all, I've been going to my parents' a couple of times a week to work on the cloth diapers that my mom and I are sewing. They live closer to my teaching than I currently do, so it makes sense on the days I have fewer lessons to drive up there for more than one thing. Most of her projects are packed away now, so she's using her sewing time to help me, which is so great of her. We still have a long way to go, since we're ultimately making 72 (2 dozen each of 3 different sizes), but everything is at least cut out and ready to sew, and we're making a pretty big dent on the smallest size of diaper. So this is one of those.

    LotR Quiet book
    And this is what I've been working on instead of knitting for most evenings lately, using this pattern. It's taking awhile, since I've been having fabric glue issues and therefore have been basically hand-stitching the majority of this, with a little machine sewing thrown in to secure the edges of pages when backing them to hide all of the mess. Oh well...toys for boys need to be sturdy anyway, right?

    Fellowship of the Finger Puppets!

    And here's a little closeup of the Fellowship of the Finger Puppets so far--the imagery is based a little more on the movies, so I'm going with that. So this is Boromir, Pippin and Legolas. I probably would have finished all 9 puppets last night, except the fabric glue that I bought yesterday specifically to assemble these just isn't sticking to the felt very well! (My previous fabric glue had gotten too dried out to use, and these pieces are way too tiny for hot glue. So once again, I'm hand-stitching!) I've got 6 puppets in various stages of completion, and then 8 more pages on this book, I think. Some are much less intricate, so that will help. I also have a second book all cut out and ready to go that's Doctor Who-based. If nothing else, maybe I can have these done in time to give Hobbit for his first Christmas?

    So my goals for March, aside from continuing to make as big a dent on these books and diapers as possible:
    1. Sew my diaper bag, which I cut out earlier this week and that is therefore ready to go for my at-home sewing time. I'm planning to start that today.
    2. If I have time, sew myself at least one more article of clothing to get me through the next couple of months. Probably a top, since hopefully the weather will start to warm up and I can at least graduate to 3/4 sleeves. Especially if I make it nursing-friendly so I can wear it in the fall, too. 
    3. On the non-sewing front, I'll probably also have to start thinking about some cooking days, since one of my plans is to try to get our freezers filled with as many prepped meals as possible so I don't have to worry about food too much in the first month. (And by prepped, I mean either just defrost, or throw in the crockpot/oven and be done with it.) I have a list of recipes to make, including breakfast and lunch options that I can eat with one hand, plus a second list of ALL the ingredients, but I probably won't really start with this until closer to the end of the month/beginning of April. We still need to eat in the meantime, so I'm focusing on using up the older stuff that's in there first.
    On a more personal note, since this still sounds like a lot, we've decided that I won't be resuming my retail job this spring as usual. Our plan was for me to stay at home with the baby anyway, though I'm still going to be doing my music and now sewing lessons, which I do have babysitting lined up for. (Thanks, Mom!) But since spring is the busiest season at that job and I'll be in my third trimester the whole time, and there's several factors at that job that would make it very physically difficult (having to bend down to lift plants for scanning, stools with no backs, 6-day workweeks, the owner smokes in his office often and cigarette smoke makes me sick even when I'm not pregnant, the nausea still hasn't fully gone away, etc.), we decided that it would be much better for me to use those last couple of months to just focus on final preparations instead of struggling through two part-time jobs plus all of that. Which is also why I'm planning to do cloth diapers and cook ahead, since in the long run that will save us money on diapers and avoiding takeout while we're first learning how this parenting thing works. I can't say I'm too broken-hearted over the thought of having more time in my day to cram in as many hours of sewing and music as I can before having to spend most of my time ensuring the survival of another human!

    February 25, 2015

    black is the new red

    A little bit of selfish sewing in the midst of baby-sewing craziness! As it happens, I finished this dress just in time for my birthday tomorrow. But I won't be wearing it, because there's a chance of snow and it's only supposed to get up to 33 degrees, tops. That's .5 degrees for you Celsius folks, and I don't know how you live with that temperature scale, because that sounds even worse! And this isn't the sort of dress that would work well with close-toed shoes. February birthdays can suck like that.

    IMG_2327Anyway. This is Simplicity 3678, now out of print, which I've actually made once before. I'm laughing because in the original post, I did specifically mention possibly revisiting it if I ever needed a maternity dress, because of all of the gathering that I needed to remove to avoid the preggo look! I'd kind of forgotten I'd said that, actually. I guess it's a good thing I never threw the pattern away. The funny thing is, at least in this picture, I seem to look pretty normal from the front, right?

    Maternity maxi-dress
    Nope. Definitely a maternity dress. (I'm at 24 1/2 weeks now.)

    Aside from lengthening and slightly flaring the skirt, since I really wanted a maxi-dress, here's the adjustments I made:

  • In some ways, I followed the instructions more closely than the first time. In the original dress, I stitched the pleats down into more of a pintuck, because it was kind of ballooning out funny. For this version, I figured I'll need the extra room and left those as pleats. I also sewed the facing more as it called for, though with a double row of stitching to try and give it a little more of an RTW look. (I wish I knew why my machine is occasionally skipping stitches for that, since I am doing a slight zigzag on a longer stitch length with a ballpoint jersey needle, just like I'm supposed to be! Any thoughts? My machine doesn't have that lightning bolt stretch stitch.)

  • I added a little more gathering in the front to accommodate the bump. Probably somewhere close to 2"--honestly, all I did was go out from the center front fold to the still uncut edge of the original pattern tissue.

  • I still had to cut the back in two pieces, which I apparently had to do the first time, too. With all of that extra skirt length, I was barely able to get the pieces to fit! I actually also had to cut the midriff pieces perpendicular to what it called for as well--but after the recent leggings disaster, I made sure the stretch would work for that before I cut it this time. 

    1. IMG_2322
    • Doesn't look so V-neck now, does it? While that also would have been nursing friendly, my size has already changed enough that this would have been very mentally uncomfortable for me to wear in public. (Seriously--while I know there's a good reason for it, I'm actually kind of embarrassed at the size bra I had to buy recently!) So I improvised a bit of a faux camisole front for it, and even inserted some elastic in the casing that the stitching made to help hold things in place. It's not quite as snug as I would have hoped, but it should do the job. 
      • For the bodice/midriff, I did slim down the seam allowances on the side slightly-- 1/2" instead of 5/8"-- just to give me a little extra room, since I'm not sure how things will go in the third trimester or if my ribcage will expand or anything like that.
          Nursing adaptation
        • To make this nursing-friendlier so I can wear this for more than just the spring, I took a suggestion from Joanne and added an invisible zipper in the front of the dress! It's sitting right at the top of the waistband, which I'm hoping will also stabilize the weight of the longer skirt. (I also sewed some clear elastic in the back to help with that as well.) Because of that, I did somewhat have to change the order of the directions, as in sewing the side seams for the bodice/midriff separately instead of all at once. But again, I took a cue from the leggings issues and made sure to baste things first so the seams had a better chance of lining up. Overall, I'm very happy with how this modification worked, and will possibly be doing it again, since I'm hoping to make a second maxi-dress before Hobbit comes. It's just a case of deciding whether to stick with this pattern, since I already did the hacking, or to play around with modifying last summer's Tiramisu hack. If I do the latter, I may not need to add extra access points, since that one works better on me as a V-neck.
          It'll be good to have something new to look forward to, if it ever warms up around here. If I've learned one lesson from the last month or so of trying to cobble together outfits, it's that I'm just not a wardrobe minimalist. I admire those people that can fully commit to the Wardrobe Architect-type thing of paring down her closet to a set of core outfit components that they can mix and match and accessorize to their heart's content. But frankly, I like having more options, and I've definitely been missing having more prints in my life, even if they don't necessarily go with everything! (I say as I show off a solid black dress, right?)

          IMG_2332Oh, and the title? I'm still trying to play around with keeping up with some of the monthly themes/challenges for the Stashbusting Sewalong and The Monthly Stitch as I can. I can use this for the latter, since it's a solid color, but the only color specified in this month's Stashbusting theme was red, which I hardly ever wear or even buy. But Malkin was kind enough to sport a little red on his collar while photobombing me, so that has to count for something. Right?

          February 19, 2015

          so apparently I'm a sewing teacher now

          No pictures today, as I don't have any finished projects of my own to show yet (though I'm close to one!) But I do have a sewing story.

          A couple of weeks ago, one of my high school classmates contacted me via Facebook to ask if I'd be interested in giving some sewing lessons to her pre-teen daughter, who she said was very interested in both sewing and fashion and was dying to learn how to make some clothes. We hashed out some details about frequency of lessons, payment, materials, etc, and then I told her I'd be willing to give it a shot. Our first lesson was on Monday, so I thought I'd share how it went.

          I wasn't really sure what to expect as far as her experience goes, though I did know she has a sewing machine. So I decided that for the first project, we'd just do a simple tote bag, because it's all straight lines and no fitting. I got the directions from one of the free Craftsy mini-classes, and her mom agreed to purchase the fabric ahead of time. So when I got to the girl's house, she had her three fabrics picked out and all ready to go.

          I think I'm going to like this girl. One of the first things she did was ask if she could show me her sketches of things she's designed. And she definitely already has her own style aesthetic! Lots of fitted waists, lots of belts-- "I like belts," she said when I commented on that-- some 50's elements, some color-blocking...she even had figured out preliminary prices of what to sell them for! I'd better start working on my pattern hacking skills even harder, because I have a feeling I'm going to need them! I also found out that she's taken a sewing class at Joann's before, and made some shorts and a few other things. So at least I know she has a little experience with patterns and such.

          I've given plenty of private lessons before for music. Mostly flute, though I did have a year where I taught saxophone to one kid, back when I was teaching for a very small private school band, and I do have a beginner piano student this year. So I think that did help me to have at least some idea of how to proceed. We got her fabric cut out, I walked her through the instructions and showed her a few tricks on her machine (she especially liked the one where you use the threaded machine needle to pull the bobbin thread up), and we actually got her entire bag completed in the first lesson! I was only supposed to be there for 2 hours, but I offered to stay a little longer since she was pretty close to finishing and I'd already had my first flute lesson cancelled for that day. She was very excited about the finished project, and is already planning to take it on an upcoming family vacation.

          I'll have to figure out the logistics after the baby comes--which I'll have to do for my music teaching anyway, though I already have a very willing babysitter lined up (aka my mother). But for now, we're going to be doing 2 hour lessons every other week. She's already showed me a project she wants to attempt, which is an RTW woven shawl with a hood and pockets--kind of a poncho of sorts. So we may be working on some pattern drafting soon, if we can find some good fabric for that. The next project we're actually going to do (since her mom wanted something a little more straightforward to shop for) is going to be the Delphine skirt from Tilly's Love at First Stitch. It's not a book I have myself, but from everything I've read about it, I figured that would be a great reference book for her to start with, so I had her buy that as our "textbook" of sorts. And after seeing her drawings and the fabrics she picked out for her bag (very French-influenced), I think I chose pretty well! So now I have to start learning how to install an invisible zipper without the special foot, since her machine has a zipper foot but not an invisible one. I guess this will be a good way for me to expand my own skills, too!

          February 2, 2015


          It's not that I haven't been sewing. I put a lot of hours in last week, actually. But it's not really stuff that's exciting to read about. 

          This is what my cutting table looks like right now--plastic bags full of little felt bits for some geeky "quiet books" (the patterns were among my Christmas presents from my parents), and piles of cotton fleece to stuff the cloth diapers that my mom and I are teaming up to make. So I've been spending my daytime sewing cutting liners and serging these rectangles, and my evening TV watching time slicing felt. 

          Once I get through the serging, I'll probably just work on this a couple days a week with my mom, and go back to making some clothes again on the side. I'm already plotting. But I'm pushing through this more boring sewing in the meantime, comforted by the fact that this project will be extremely useful in the long run. (Not to mention that I actually did math, and sewing really is saving us quite a bit of money in this case, though not my time.)

          I'll be back when I have something a little more interesting to show.

          (P.S. Thanks for all the happy and encouraging comments on my little gender  announcement! I'm starting to get excited about seeing what boy stuff I can come up with.)

          January 22, 2015

          sew and tell time!

          Yeah, I could just come out and tell you what the gender is. But it's so much more fun to take this as an excuse to sew something to show it!! (Ok, so I already posted this to Instagram/the Stashbusting Sewalong group on Facebook. But this warrants a blog post too, right?)

          So this is the outfit I made for Hobbit.
          gender reveal outfit
          That's right, it's a boy! Doug is absolutely thrilled, since he was hoping for that outcome more than he was willing to admit, even to himself. Plus he's excited to teach him all about hockey. I'm excited too, though I will admit that some of my first thoughts were along the lines of wondering how long I'd actually be able to sew things for him/can I still do crafty stuff with him/etc. Good thing I've already seen stuff on Pinterest about building toy catapults and such, because that looks fun! I'm also giving myself pep talks about all the geeky things I like that boys often also enjoy, like Tolkien and Star Wars and Legos and Marvel movies, to remind myself that I'll be ok.

          gender reveal outfit closeupOh, right, I should probably talk about the actual sewing project, too! This pattern is McCall's 6494, made in a size small, which looks like about 1-3 months. Ok, so I'm guessing on that-- I'm pretty new to this whole kid sewing thing! I'm hoping this will work for this summer and into September, since our Septembers are often on the warm end as well. I did have this pattern on hand, because I'll admit that I did buy a couple in the cheap pattern Joann's sales back when we first started talking seriously about having a kid. And I chose this one, because minimal pieces made it look like it would sew up fast! We told our family and closest friends on Monday, but this was my chosen method for the Facebook reveal, so I didn't want anything that would take too long and risk someone accidentally letting it slip. Also, the dinosaur was fun.

          The fabric is lightweight denim, left over from my Thurlow trousers. I had 1 3/4 yards of that left, and this project used up 3/4 yards of that. So I guess some little baby jeans-like pants may be in order to use up the rest--I don't think I can squeeze anything for myself out of a yard, given that I don't entirely have the full width of the fabric to work with due to how I cut the Thurlow legs out. I made the applique from the last scrap of the solid green that I recently made those Lord of the Rings bibs out of, plus some rick rack purloined from my mom's stash (with her permission). Yay for stashbusting! I also had just barely enough snaps of a slightly larger size to do this. I guess I'll need to pick up some more if I'm going to make any more baby clothes. Unless I can find snap tape at Joann's, since I need to stop there today to check on supplies anyway. (Not fabric, for the record. Hardware for a diaper bag so I can use up some fabric.)

          I did make a couple of changes to the pattern/instructions:
          1. I left off the facing, because those partial facings always flip out somewhere and annoy me, no matter how careful I try to be with understitching. Also, an interfaced extra layer of denim that ends partway down the chest sounded like it wouldn't be too comfy for a baby's sensitive skin. (Look at me, trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about!) So I turned and topstitched those edges instead, and added a little tab on either side of the snapped shoulder to reinforce it. It looks more jeans-y that way anyway.

            (Note: I'm very, very glad I basted this first, even though it made things take longer, because I would have not caught the edge in multiple places otherwise.) 
          2. I did the bias tape facing for the snapped crotch lining before I hemmed it, because why wouldn't you want to eliminate unnecessary handwork? Sewing on those 7 snaps was enough!

          With that update, here's my question for those of you with sons or nephews that you've made things for: any cute boys' sewing patterns to recommend/sources for fun prints? Because my general overall lack of boy-friendly fabrics in the stash means I can justify a little bit of shopping, right?

          January 21, 2015

          fabric fail

          Not my best project ever.I was so excited for this project. So to say I'm a little disappointed in the outcome is an understatement. But, since I believe that the fails should be documented along with the victories--mostly so I don't make the same mistake again later--I'm going to share the sad story of these leggings anyway. Slippers, ridiculously lightened photos since it was the only way I could show the seams, and all.

          (Hey, from this angle, I don't look pregnant at all! Anyway.)

          The pattern is the Manila leggings, from the current month's issue of Seamwork magazine. (Doug bought me a year's pattern subscription for Christmas, which made me very happy since the whole point is quick projects, and I'm going to need those in the coming months!) I had one pair of maternity leggings, which I've been wearing instead of tights under the few skirts I have that fit. So I was quite happy to see this pattern and give the leggings-making thing a try, given that I just wasn't in the mood to play connect-the-dots on my Espresso pattern to try and get a fit when I wasn't sure what standard to use for the waist/I'd have to modify it anyway. The pattern itself is pretty simple: front piece, back piece, cute petal-like cuffs for the ankles, waistband, done. I knew I'd be altering the top to add a panel for the growing belly, but aside from that, I thought this would be a quick, straightforward make.

          But I made two mistakes right away:
          1. I didn't realize that my chosen fabric--a cool denim-looking knit that I got on sale at Mood when I was making my last online purchase there--didn't have enough stretch to work for something like this. Honestly, why would you make a knit that stretches more cross-wise, when basically every single pattern ever made would have you cutting so it stretches horizontally? Especially for something that's pretty much screaming to be some kind of bottomwear. But still. I should have checked this more closely.
          2. I also didn't realize that, even though there is a full-length view shown in the pictures, the only view included in the pattern was the cropped version. Leggings that only come down to my upper calves are absolutely useless for anything but exercise wear. Especially this time of year.
          IMG_2310The result? Yeah, not quite so chic as I hoped. It took so much hacking to even get these to the point where I could pull them on all the way! (And sorry for the weird looking-down pictures-- I just couldn't get the seaming to show up well enough in the others.)

          IMG_2311What I probably should have done with the legs was add the extra length around the knees first, and then add the extra width so the stripe would be unbroken. But I did still have hopes that once I managed to get the leggings all the way around my calves, the cuffs would add enough extra length that I could get by with my boots. Didn't happen. Neither did seam-matching, despite multiple efforts and a lot of seam ripping.  Ugh. It honestly got to the point where I was so fed up with them, that I didn't even bother with the cute cuffs (which I wasn't sure would stretch around my legs all the way anyway, given the way things were going) and just cut a strip to give them a sweatpants-like finish.

          I was hoping that this would give me another color option to wear with skirts, though I'm not sure why, since the only skirts I have are black, denim, or that long teal one that would hide them anyway. (I'm generally of the school of thought that leggings are not pants, the fabric on my store-bought pair is way too thin for that, but for the sake of these photos, I'm wearing them as such. The things I do for the blog.) I'm not going to say they're a wadder yet, since I can wear them on days I don't have to leave the house, like today, and save my jeans for the days I do, but they're definitely not a project I'm proud of.

          IMG_2309On the plus side, the maternity panel alteration seemed to work great. Especially once I went back and cut a new panel on the cross-grain so it would actually stretch. (Yes, I know it's not really a cross grain for knits.) It does make me feel a little better to know that, at least in this, my pattern hacking skills are beginning to improve.

          I do have a decent-sized remnant of this left, which I think is probably just enough for some kind of babywear or undies, though I wouldn't even try the latter until things are back to more of a normal state. I.e. I'm not being told to put on a pound a week. But essentially, this takes 2 yards out of the stash, for a total of 6.25 yards out so far this year.

          Speaking of kid stuff-- we had our ultrasound on Monday, and I know the gender now! So I cut out a simple baby outfit last night, am hoping to get it all sewn up today, and my next post should be me telling you all what we're having. Just warning you now, because this very well could be a double-post day.

          One last, unrelated, administrative-type detail-- I've turned my Instagram into a private account, since it's at the point where more kid-type stuff will be going up and I don't want just anyone on the internet to be able to find it. I have still been posting a lot of crafty stuff on there, so if you are a friendly sewcialist (seriously, what other kind is there?) and want to follow, don't be afraid to send a request! My screenname there is different than my blog/Twitter handle, but I do have a link to the profile on the sidebar.

          January 15, 2015

          pondering knitting

          Me and knitting have reached a weird point in our relationship. I have a couple of UFOs that I just don't feel like working on at the moment, about half of the projects in my Ravelry queue are pullover sweaters (which are obviously out for now), and I'm not really sure what to do next.

          So I recently swatched for a cardigan that I already bought yarn for, the Rocky Coast from the Coastal Knits book. Amazingly, the gauge actually worked on the first try! But I wonder if the yarn/needle combination makes it look too loose of a knit. The trials of almost always having to substitute the suggested yarn, I suppose. I may go ahead and start this one anyway, because it has enough cotton in the yarn that washing could tighten it up. And knowing me, by the time I finish knitting this, it'll be just in time for fall 2016 and my body will probably be at its new normal anyway.
          I also had this random single ball of yarn that I bought at the beach shop a couple of years ago, and I figured a bulky yarn would knit up fast and get out of my stash. I wanted to take advantage of the yarn's ability to change textures--it kind of knits up like a t-shirt yarn, but can open up to more of a lacy mesh. And I haven't been able to find any patterns I liked for the amount that I had, so I attempted to design my own cowl pattern. The pattern itself worked fine--it's a combination between a moss stitch, to show the closed texture, and a drop-stitch to hopefully allow part of the yarn to open up. I think I'd have to block this to make that happen. The problem is, I only had enough yarn to do three repeats of the pattern before I had to bind it off, which makes for a very narrow cowl! So I've had this sitting on my table for something like a week, trying to decide if I should go ahead and block it and see what happens, or to unravel it and try to come up with a different project. Any thoughts?

          Either way, I'm feeling kind of mental blocked on anything yarny until I make decisions about what to do about these two projects. So in the meantime, I've been tracing out patterns that I was given for Christmas for geeky baby quiet books instead.

          January 13, 2015

          ooh, sparkly.

          First of all, thanks for the advice offered on my last post! You gave me some great ideas for what to avoid (my entire wovens stash, I'm looking at you), and there were also some rather brilliant thoughts on how to make some of my ideas more nursing-friendly, and therefore able to be worn longer. Yay!

          Today, I actually have two finished projects to show! Late last year and after I already knew about the pregnancy, I got lured into buying a couple of knits at Joann's while there for an unrelated shopping trip, because I knew that the bulk of my knits stash were solid colors and I was craving some printed goodies. Also, look how sparkly they are! My original intent was to get these done in time to wear for Christmas, but due to all the sickness issues, that obviously didn't happen. So I decided to get these sewn up quickly. I need some color in my extremely pared-down winter wardrobe anyway.

          McCall's 6084The cardigan is McCall's 6084, and the top is Simplicity 2852. For the cardigan, I didn't really change much of anything, other than add a little length to the sleeves to accommodate my monkey arms. I do that pretty much automatically for long-sleeved things now, but in this case, it looks like I actually didn't need to! So I just gave it a bit of a wider hem on the sleeves than it called for.

          The pattern claimed it could be made up in an hour. It took me a little longer than that. For one thing, this knit was really awful about clinging to itself, so it took me awhile to smooth it out enough that I could cut the pieces well! I did construct it completely in one sitting, and it especially helped that I was able to skip a couple of awkward-looking steps due to having a serger. But then I let it hang overnight so the hem could settle a bit before finishing that.

          Simplicity 2852The top is one that I actually have made before, though I did view E for that one. That's actually one of the shirts I already had that I've been continuing to wear anyway, and so far, it's worked. I do think that I'll have to toss that shirt at the end of this cold season, though, because the fabric is getting horribly pilled. Especially now that I'm wearing it at least once a week! I honestly didn't think this view was one I'd ever sew, especially because I hated that bubble hem trend! The gathered front made it look like it would give me some room to grow, though.

          I made the sleeveless view so I could wear this into the warmer weather. I even already had another cardigan that coordinates! I did make a couple of changes to the pattern to maternify it even further--besides leaving out the hem elastic, because ugh, I added 2" width to the center front and 2" to the hem. I like this a little longer, actually--if I was the type who wore leggings as pants, this would actually work! I think I'll stick to wearing it with things that cover my lower half a little better, though.

          Honestly, if I wore it with a belt to cinch it in, this top does have some non-maternity potential as well, I think. We'll see whenever I get a waistline back. (Actually, now that I'm looking at this picture, it probably needs a belt somewhere anyway, doesn't it? It really is kind of a sack. A sparkly sack in a fun print and a color scheme I love, but a sack nonetheless.) In the meantime, I had nothing but scraps left over from both of these pieces, so at least they didn't live in the stash long! Between the two pieces, that's 4.25 yards down.

          IMG_2288The belt really highlights that the bump doesn't want to hide anymore, doesn't it? I have to keep reminding myself that it's ok to not suck my stomach in for pictures! The more exciting thing is that we have the ultrasound scheduled for next week, so hopefully we'll be finding out if the baby is a boy or a girl soon!

          I think I also need to work on the camera setup--Doug's been working hard to get the former office/library ready to turn into a nursery, so all the furniture there has been cleared out and the room is repainted. So these pictures are in the sewing-now-slash-computer room. (At least I still have one!) But I think I'll have to experiment with where to put the tripod so I don't look like such a giant next to the door. I already feel like I look big enough!

          January 9, 2015

          maternity wardrobe building, part 2: what I still need

          I apologize in advance, because this will probably be a long post. Last time, I showed what I'd managed to assemble for my wardrobe so far. And like I said, I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly a palette started emerging!
          Most of what I already had or was easily able to acquire was black, grey, cream, or teal. I threw in navy as a neutral as well, mostly because of denim. And with a few additions from thrift stores, clearance racks, and the knits in my own stash, royal blue, a brighter leafy green, and coral also showed up. I think this looks like a really good balance between neutrals and statement colors, actually!

          Here's what I know I still need:
          • Several tops, in both long-sleeved and shorter lengths. I know I'm going to need a few shorter sleeved things for May going into June, so I'm trying to keep that in mind and plan for layering in the colder months. I've already got one top done and a coordinating layering piece in the works for this, though I'll wait to photograph until they're both done.
          • A couple more skirts. I've seen a tutorial for a maternity version of the Sewaholic Crescent skirt, which is a pattern I do already have. I'm also thinking that the Colette Monetta might be a good one to try, if I add some ruching or a panel or something. Color might be nice. And I do think a nice maxi-skirt could go a long way.
          • Another pair or two of leggings. I've been wearing my black pair in place of tights under my shorter skirts, but I really could use another option. I have some denim-looking knit that might be perfect for this, if I can adapt a pattern sufficiently. There's also some black knit that I'd specifically bought for trying out the Cake Espresso leggings anyway, but I can buy black maternity leggings easily enough. So I'm debating whether to hold off and make those later for more regular wear--I'm actually kind of liking the warmth of the leggings in place of tights, since I'm usually wearing boots with that sort of look anyway!
          • Dresses! I'll probably be mostly living in these once the weather warms up some more. I have two that I've found so far, and I have a pattern for a top/dress that works for nursing as well. For those, I'm going to try to plan the style so that they work for the end of my pregnancy and the remainder of the summer, if I can, since I know I'll need to be careful of necklines while I'm nursing and my stomach likely won't go back to what it was that quickly.
          • One more pair of jeans. I have two, and I could have sworn I bought a third, but I can't find it anywhere! But now that I'm only working a few hours a week for my teaching, and I tend to wear jeans on weekends/days at home, I know that only two pairs of jeans will not be enough to get me through any given week. I'm just going to buy that, since it would be the most time-consuming thing on this list to sew and I have way too many other holes that I can fill quicker.
          • Not to go TMI, but I think I'm going to have to suck it up and buy a couple of bras, because mine are all too small in the cups now! NOT flattering. I've heard you're supposed to put off buying actual nursing bras as long into the pregnancy as possible, so I'll probably just buy a couple of cheap ones a size or two up, and hope it gets me through the next few months. 
          • Warmer weather PJs. I think I can get through the winter with what I have, but all of my summer stuff is mostly little nighties and such that I was given right before the wedding. So I'm pretty sure none of those will fit this year. I guess if all else fails, I can steal one of Doug's oversized t-shirts, right? But again, I think it might be nice to come up with something that will work for both the end of the pregnancy and nighttime nursing, if that's at all possible.
          • Possibly a new pair of sandals. Pretty much all of them tend to buckle around the back of my heel, and I'm honestly not sure I'll be able to get those on by the time it gets warm enough for sandals! I do have one pair of black flat strappy sandals that I can pretty much slip on over my heel, so maybe I can figure out how to maneuver those on with my toes, or get Doug to put those on for me, or something. But if that doesn't work, I'll probably need to buy something to get me through the last 6ish weeks of the pregnancy/the first couple of weeks post-partum. Which hopefully would also be comfortable enough that I won't spend that whole time fighting blisters on my overly-sensitive extra-wide feet. (Dear God, please don't let those get bigger!!) Ugh. I hate shoe shopping so much.
          On a happier note, I'm trying as much as is possible to use patterns and fabrics that I already have stashed. So here's what I've come up with that could work.

          potential maternity patternsPatterns! Not pictured here are the aforementioned Sewaholic Crescent skirt, the Deer & Doe Plantain top, the Colette Moneta/Mabel (pdfs in manilla envelopes are boring to show in pictures), or any leggings, though I have two patterns I could potentially experiment with. (The Cake Espressos and the Manila leggings from the current issue of Seamwork.) I've already been experimenting with maternifying the Renfrew, as you know. Actually, the two on the far right are the only two patterns that are actually maternity! They're both Megan Nielsens, even though one is distributed through Simplicity.

          potential maternity clothesFabrics! All of these are knits--nearly all of the ones I own, save a couple in colors that don't quite fit the palette. If I do try the Crescent, maybe I can work in a woven, too? The top three on the left side of the pile are ones my mom gave me for Christmas, and I'm hoping to come up with something especially fun for that ITY print on top! And I know the two solids on the bottom of the right don't quite fit the palette, but I figured they're close enough.

          So far, I've tagged the black for a maxi sleeveless version of that Simplicity Threads dress on the bottom (the one with the crossover v-neck), the denim-looking stuff (that looks charcoal but is really navy) for leggings, and that dark turquoise closer to the bottom, (which is darker and a little closer to teal than the picture), for a potential maternified Mabel skirt. It's the heaviest knit in this pile. That black and blue print, which I got at Mood last year, is also screaming maxi-dress at me, so I just need to figure out what pattern I might want to use--I'm considering maybe trying to adapt the Tiramisu for that, since it also has a crossover neckline and I know it works as a maxi. Maybe if I mash it up with the Red Velvet skirt? Or just add some gathering to the front after I narrow the waistband? Aside from those and the sparkly royal blue, which is already cut up into a layering cardigan and ready to sew, any suggestions of what I should do with all these solids that won't bore me to tears when I wear them? What would be the best pairing for that ITY? (2 yards, for the record.) Any other advice/pattern suggestions for making maternity and/or nursing clothes?