May 12, 2015

The Quiet Book and The Ring

I'll be honest-- I was not expecting this project to take so long. I thought I could easily finish both this and the second felt quiet book that I cut out shortly after Christmas before my due date. With only 4 1/2 weeks to go, I don't think that's going to happen now. But I'm proud of how this turned out. I just really hope that Hobbit will enjoy playing with it, when he's a little older!

So, without further ado, I present the Lord of the Rings quiet book, in all of its thick glory. (Seriously, this thing measures over 3" thick! Though I'm sure it would compact if I put something on top of it.) And I cannot take credit for the design, it's a pattern from the juliebell shop on Etsy. (With a few minor modifications on my part here and there.) One picture-heavy post, coming up!

Cover pagePage 1: The front cover. In the original pattern, it called for a brown cover, but I used maroon instead-- I'm justifying it by saying it ties in with the Red Book of Westmarch, from the books. But really, it's that I'm cheap. I couldn't quite find that "copper canyon brown" and I had a bunch of the maroon that I was able to get from my mom for free. (All of the felt in this book was either specially purchased for this project, or mooched off my mom, who wanted to get rid of it anyway in preparation for moving. All of the threads, embroidery floss, and miscellaneous notions, however, were part of my stash.)

ShirePage 2: The Shire, with some panels you can lift and peek under. I'll admit I thought long and hard about adding the pipe, because I don't want to encourage smoking, especially given that the smell really makes me sick even when I'm not pregnant (and far, far worse when I am, apparently. Truthfully, frequent exposure to that was one of my major incentives to not go back to my old retail job this spring.). But in both the books and the movies, it's kind of unavoidable that there is pipe smoking, especially in hobbit culture, and I couldn't think of anything else to go there. So I left it.

Rivendell pagePage 3: Rivendell, with one of my favorite--and bulkiest--features of the book...the Fellowship of the Finger Puppets! Seriously, how cute is that? I did change up some of the suggested colors for things to coincide a little more closely with the movie costumes, since a lot of the styling seemed to be based on the films anyway.





Gollum PagePage 4: Help Gollum find the Precious. He really is a friendly-looking Gollum here...but hey, this is basically baby's first introduction to my #1 fandom, so why scare him right off? I did end up tweaking the face a bit, because my embroidery floss was so close to the color of the felt that he just looked weird with no nose. All three of the pieces under the water snap on and off, but I only took off the one hiding the Ring for this photo.













Try on the RingPage 5: Try on the Ring. This was the one I changed up the most. The original page had just an embroidered Ring, and I wasn't sure what the action was here. Lay your hand over it and watch the Ring disappear? If I can't figure it out, there's no way a toddler could. So I used some wired gold ribbon in my stash to make a Ring that you can slip your fingers under. (The hand was also originally facing the other way, but that was just me making a mistake and not wanting to unpick the embroidery.)

EaglesPage 6: Help Gandalf escape. Technically, this should probably come before the Rivendell page, but this is the order the instructions had it in. And the bulk of the pages meant the eyelets I'd originally planned to use didn't work, and I ended up basically just punching holes with an awl and threading the binder rings through, so they're not the easiest to rearrange. It's just an eagle on elastic, so he can get some distance between him and Orthanc. I also made sure to machine-sew both ends down as securely as possible, in hopes that the boy won't be able to yank it off first try!
MordorPage 7: Help Frodo and Sam through Mordor. Again, a somewhat less bleak and dreary Mordor, given that there's trees and a pond. (I'm guessing this path leads through Ithilien first.) I'm especially proud of the Eye on here--maybe I spent a little more time embroidering on it than necessary, but it didn't look as fiery and evil as I wanted it to after adding the initial embroidery. So I added more color, and I think it helped.

Mt DoomPage 8: Destroy the Ring in Mt. Doom. Again, I was having a little fun with the embroidery on the lava, mostly to make sure the orange showed up well. As for the Ring itself, it actually is a replica of the One Ring-- it fell off of a bookmark I had gotten back when the movies were first out, and I had left it sitting with my jewelry supplies for years. Fortunately, I actually remembered that I had this now that I had the perfect excuse to finally use it--crafty pack rat tendencies for the win! (Again, this is machine stitched on as securely as I possibly could, to try to avoid any choking hazards.)

AragornPage 9: Help Aragorn become King. I was working on this one while having a craft day/My Little Pony marathon with some friends recently, and we all had a good laugh over Aragorn in his undies! Again, I slightly altered the embroidery to do a white tree instead of dots on the king outfit, because Gondor demanded it. I know it's hard to see in this picture, but it's there.


The EndPage 10: The End. Pretty self-explanatory. I wish that E was straighter, but the glue-tacking didn't work so well and it was already falling off by the time I got through sewing on the first two letters. It probably would have worked better if I'd been sewing on a flat surface, but I wasn't, and I was just trying to get it done by this point.

This was definitely a labor of love, and I'm completely amused by it, at least. And even though it took a lot longer this way, I'm not sorry that I took the time to sew everything instead of glue it, because I think it will be much more durable--especially given that on the occasions I did tack things down with glue, it was often peeling off before I even finished sewing the pieces! Even so, I'm thinking I might rely a little more on glue-tacking and especially machine sewing where I can for the Doctor Who one I have cut out next. After all, I'd like to start knitting again sometime this year!


May 2, 2015

Evaluating the mini-wardrobe

Now that I'm getting close to the end of my pregnancy, and in lieu of my participating in Me-Made-May this year, I thought it might be useful to take a look back at how I did with sewing for  myself in this transitional period. After all, I'd decided to make this more fun/interesting for myself by treating it as a capsule wardrobe, a la Wardrobe Architect. And I did learn some things about what worked/didn't work for me. Also, in case a second baby comes along down the road, it'll help me to have a reference of what I might want to consider adding!


Things I think went well:
  • Overall, I'm quite pleased with how well various alterations I made to several non-maternity patterns worked. Especially since pattern hacking is not my strongest skill, and one I'd like to keep working to improve. I would further tweak my Renfrew hack, but the dresses and maxi-skirt went quite well. As did the actual maternity alteration to the Manila leggings, even if the rest of it was a fail. So maybe there's hope for me yet!
  • I also think I did pretty well at sticking with a cohesive color palette. 
  • I was able to surprise myself with occasionally being able to pull out non-maternity clothes to fill in some gaps. Namely my Plantain top and a couple of buttondowns worn over tank tops.
  • Also, aside from the first trimester, I think I did a pretty good job of sucking it up and plowing through sewing to fulfill needs that I had, even though I've still been nauseous at some point(s) every single day of this pregnancy. So go me.
Things I wish I'd done differently:
  • More vivid colors! Even though I did stick with the palette pretty well, I felt like things ended up being a lot heavier on the neutrals--the black, navy and grey in particular, just due to what I was able to find in thrift stores or what I had on hand that was working. By the time winter was wrapping up, I was sooooooo bored and wishing for cheerier, brighter things. (Ok, so I do that every year. But it was definitely worse with the much more limited choices I had.)
  • More prints! Especially tops. Because even with the things I found/made that were in brighter colors, I just haven't felt quite like myself while wearing so many outfits that were just solids. I've tried livening it up with accessories, but a necklace can only take you so far on that, and I was honestly afraid to wear scarves for the first half of the pregnancy because of all the sickness. (Plus, having things close around my neck during the worst of that was really, really uncomfortable for me.) The couple of print things that I've made near the end are helping. A lot of this was really just me trying to work mostly with the stash that I had, but I think that, once I make some space on the shelves/if I need maternity wear again, I may specifically treat myself to some new fabric to expand this wardrobe.
Things I'll need if this ever happens again:
  • More bottomwear. Especially of the pants variety. I refashioned 3 pairs of pants, outgrew one of them by about mid-March (which had been a little small around the waist/hips to begin with anyway, so I could only make it expand so much), and had to pretty much give up wearing the other two by mid-April because they were corduroy and therefore getting uncomfortably hot when spring weather actually arrived. Which has left me with only 2 pairs of jeans to get through the last 2 months, and I will admit that I do feel a little unprofessional when doing music lessons in jeans. I wouldn't mind another knit maxi-skirt or two either, because the tie-dye one is sooooo comfortable. (I've tried wearing some of my older elastic-waist ones over the bump here and there, and they kind of dig into my ribs and gather weirdly under my tops. So it hasn't been helpful.)
  • Pajamas. I got through the latter part of the winter with an older pair of PJ pants and an oversized thrifted top--but those got worn so much that the top has several holes in it now. Once things started warming up is when things got really tough--I had to resort to buying a shorts and tank set from Target, because I didn't have anything that fit. (Note to self: Tofino pants do not make good maternity pants. Though I love them as a non-maternity PJs pattern.) 
  • Another pair of leggings or two wouldn't hurt, if I have another cold-weather pregnancy. Or at least some more stylish knit pants (and casual tops) to wear around the house that aren't fleece sweatpants that I used to wear under other clothes to keep warm on backpacking trips. That's what I ended up resorting to on Saturdays/weekdays when I didn't have to go out to save my jeans for nicer wear, and I felt so frumpy. Which is not the feeling you want when you're already feeling like a nauseated whale.
Biggest hits: 
Honestly, aside from the refashioned corduroys (so useful) I feel like the best things I made were the ones that I'm hoping to continue wearing after this is over-- particularly the black maxi-dress and the tie-dyed skirt. I may need to do a follow-up post later this summer on how well they actually work for post-pregnancy/nursing.
Maternity maxi-dress
skirt full panel





















Biggest misses: 
Not my best project ever.1. The Manila leggings. Though I'm still hopeful that I can successfully revisit this pattern, now that I know that I really need to check the stretch before diving in. And probably add at least 4" to the legs. But I really just didn't feel comfortable wearing them very often--the color meant it didn't work as a tights layer under the two shorter skirts I had (one black and one denim), and I really only wore them twice. One of those was to keep warm under the black dress for a cooler-day music performance at church, and the other was just around the house. And I have to confess that I threw the denim skirt on over it anyway, because even when alone in the house, I just didn't feel fully clothed when wearing leggings as pants! I'll probably keep these as a layering piece, but definitely not as a stand-alone.

(I still have to try out my Cake Espresso pattern sometime, too. If that one works out better, I might just transfer the belly alterations to that pattern if I ever need to sew maternity leggings again.)


Ariel-inspired outfit
2. The Ariel skirt. I actually only wore this one once, aside from the photos--I didn't want to wear it over the winter because of the cold, and when I finally pulled it out in the spring, it just didn't work well. I had to tie the drawstrings under the bust, which made the length kind of strange, and left a lot of weird wrinkles under the belly of the maternity top that I paired it with. Fortunately, it didn't take me that long to cut and sew. And since it's essentially two big rectangles and I still have almost 3 yards of the fabric left, I think this will be a good candidate for a refashion. Or at least a wearable muslin of some other pattern.

On the other hand, I did wear the top quite a bit. Though, as I stated before, I think the pattern hacks would need some tweaking for this to work well in later pregnancy. It fit fine for well over the first half, though.




Other things I won't be keeping/need to rework: 
1. This isn't one I made, but I bought this cream-colored maternity sweater at Target. I'm blaming this on poor fabric choice on their part--the structure itself is fine, but before the winter even ended, the color of the sweater just looked dingy and sad. I may just try to overdye it to extend the life.
2.This top. Though it wasn't a maternity top, it actually worked well to get me through the winter, since it was roomier in the waist than a lot of my usual tops. And it's not a complaint about the pattern, since I used the same one to make my sparkly knit top from earlier this year. It's just that since this one was already several years old, the fabric was starting to pill to begin with. And with all the extra wears and washes it got this winter, given that I was pulling it out at least once a week (if not more), it's just unsalvageable now. I do hate to just throw clothes away, even the worn-out ones, so I'm thinking I might just cut this one up and use it to stuff a toy or something. Stuffing is expensive, anyway.

So, that's my little wrap up of how my me-mades have been working for me during a period of major physical changes. I already have a mental list of patterns I want to tackle once this baby comes! Now if only I could figure out a way to predict my bust size so I could start tracing or cutting...

April 29, 2015

April month-in-review

This really does look like a super-productive month, since I tend to count stash on the months I finish the project vs. when I cut it! So let's just jump right to the fun stuff, shall we?

Projects Finished This Month: 
8 total. Unless I count the diapers individually. Then it's closer to 80. But that's cheating, isn't it? First up, the unblogged things.
https://igcdn-photos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xap1/t51.2885-15/10513794_843631739037678_835703916_n.jpgAs seen on Instagram: I did take another cute-but-stained PJ set that I was given for free, plus a boring snap-front newborn tee, and did this. The applique was hand-stitched on, just like the frog one I did last month, and as a bonus, this reads completely gender-neutral to me. Which means it's definitely something I can recycle for any future siblings. I also had a decent-sized piece of unstained fabric, so I used this tutorial/pattern to whip out a quick hat. I did have to cut one piece with a seam in the back,  but it still worked up really fast. (The snail was the other part of the original applique. It was there, so why not use it?)


Next up: Several weeks back, I was looking for maternity/baby clothes at the thrift store, and stumbled across a bin of K'Nex for a really great price. Since then, Doug and I have gotten in the habit of checking every few weekends for any more good toy finds. One week, I found a bag of wooden blocks, which just seems like one of those staple toys that every kid should have. But they needed containment. So I took a piece of stash cotton and made a bag for them. I think this was one of my mom's dyeing-for-quilts experiments that she wasn't totally happy with, and I just wanted to use a piece that I didn't really care what I used it for. Honestly, I made this more complicated than I needed to--I realized about halfway through inserting the drawstring that oh, wait, I have to think about choking hazards now! So then I had to completely wing it with a zipper in my stash that wasn't quite the right color, but oh well. I know this bag is kind of huge for the amount of blocks that we have, but I figured that it would make it easy to add any more that we might acquire. (I mean, I don't even have the whole alphabet here!)

nursing coverMy most recent sewing project was a nursing cover. Not to say that women shouldn't have the right to breastfeed when and where they need to or anything--I just know that I'll personally be more comfortable if I'm able to stay covered up when I have to feed him outside of the house. Besides, I've had this particular quilt cotton for years, and I'm happy that I finally found a way to use some of it. I actually had this in the stash and wanted to use it for the leaf quilt I made several years ago, but it was just a little too busy of a print to really work. I still have about half of the piece left, so I'll just need to figure out what to do with it. But this was a really fast/easy project to make-- just a rectangle with a casing for a piece of boning, another two rectangles for the strap, a couple d-rings, hemming, and done. Ideally, I would have used d-rings that were a little thinner/lighter, but this is what I had in the stash, so I went with it. If it really bugs me in the long run, I can always perform a little seam ripper magic later and replace them.

I also finished off a stack of cloth wipes to use with the diapers. But I can't really count that as stashbusting, since my mom cut up a bunch of flannel that she had and all I had to do was serge the edges. Honestly, this isn't even exciting enough to take a picture of, but at least it's done.

Stashbusting totals for the month:

Stash out, not counting the 3 reconstructed projects:
  • For the diapers: 31.25 yards total of PUL, athletic mesh, and cotton fleece (!)
  • Maternity/nursing maxi-dress: 3 yards of knit
  • Storage bag for blocks: .5 yard of hand-dyed cotton
  • Nursing cover: 1 yard of quilt cotton
Total:  35.75 yards out, plus a few scraps for the Star Wars shirt. Woohoo!
    Stash in:
    • 2 yards of an Aztec-print knit. I was out running errands with Doug one day, we stumbled across a sewing machine store, and he suggested we head in and see if we could find me some new fabric. Who am I to say no? The selection was pretty small, but since I've been burning through all of my print knits in making maternity clothes, I figured I could allow myself this little splurge.  
    • My parents moved into a new house this month, and my mom handed off a couple of pieces of fabric that she thought might be more useful for me in making future boy clothes than her for quilting. So I got a little over 1 yard of a reversible blue fleece (brighter blue on one side, more royal on the other), and 8 yards of a plain black twill (but only 19.5" wide!) that she had left over from a couple of non-quilt projects.  The twill will probably have to get used up for pants and shorts, but at least kid clothes are small and skinny. At least at first.
    Total: 11.25(ish) yards in, but that's still a total of 24.5 yards less than I started the month with.  For the year so far, my spreadsheet is saying that I have just over 336 yards, but I've used about 63 1/2 up. Which is really good for the first third of the year, especially since 3 yards is the most I can usually burn on one project!
      May Goals:
      I did touch on this in last month's review.  At this point, I've reviewed the list, and pared it down based on what I didn't get done this month and think is most important. So here's what I'm hoping to do:
      • I'd still like to make that changing mat. I think that will be the next project.
      • I found instructions for how to make a baby gym on Pinterest. This wasn't something I was originally planning on for baby gear, because those things are ridiculously expensive and bulky. But since this one snaps apart and would be really easy to set up/store, I have a large piece of a certain quilt cotton that would be perfect for this, and I have a ready supply of adorable felt things that would be perfect to hang from it (extras from some shower favors that my mom made--all animals to go along with various books), I'd like to give this one a shot.
      • I have curtains for the nursery, but I need to sew the blackout layer into the colored layer, because they're way too sheer to keep light out for when he's napping. The curtains need to be shortened anyway. So this should be a quick project, it's just a case of doing it.
      • And I still need to do a lot more cooking. Though I've actually made a pretty good dent on recipes I'd planned for dinners--I think I have 3 more recipes to make for that, and then what I'd planned for lunches. And breakfast, if there's still room in the freezer.

      Finally, a quick little update on how those sewing lessons are going! The girl is doing very well. We took a little bit of a break around Easter due to her family going on vacation, but since then, she's finished up the Delphine skirt from Love at First Stitch. We spent most of that day's lesson working on invisible zipper insertion, and she did a very nice job for her first try! (Not perfect, and I did have to do a little unpicking for her at the bottom to fix where something got caught, but the end result doesn't have that annoying bubble that invisible zippers sometimes get at the bottom.) She finished the skirt on her own after her last lesson, and I'm not sure what she wants to work on next--I'm letting her pick the projects after the bag we made first, because of course it's more fun if you sew things you want to make. Guess I'll find out on Monday, so here's hoping I'm sufficiently prepared!

        April 27, 2015

        Sewing for boys: My Little Jedi


        I have a feeling this is going to be a sporadic, ongoing series, at least while Hobbit is in the age range that I can sew things for him without him protesting. Because one of the first things I've learned about being a (future) boy mom who sews is that it's a lot harder than it should be to find cute patterns/good fabric with boys in mind. I'm more hopeful about the patterns than I was initially, since recently finding an Ottobre magazine at the local Barnes & Noble/joining a Facebook group specifically focused on sewing for boys. But the fabric is still tough. Especially if I'm looking for anything that isn't quilt cotton or doesn't cost over $10 for just half a yard. (Which is all the fun prints I've found so far.)


        Yoda shirtAll that to say, I made a baby shirt. And it's geeky. Because that's how I roll. (Though, for the record, I think this totally counts as gender-neutral. After all, girls like Star Wars, too!)

        My fabric stash is going to be challenging to shop for boy clothes, because frankly, I don't have a lot of stuff that suits--if the color is right, the fabric is usually wrong (too delicate/drapey/etc) and so on. So I was quite pleased that I was able to construct this shirt completely from my scraps! The black is leftover bamboo-blend rayon pieces from the maxi-dress I recently made, and the cream is some leftover scraps from a knit top I made years ago. I guess I'd been thinking they were large enough scraps that I could use them to attempt to make undies or something, and that's why I still had them? But both pieces are very soft, which are perfect for baby wear. And since I used the same multi-piece pattern that I used for those hockey pants, this shirt was essentially free! I'm happy that I finished it within the SHB Sewalong timeframe, too.

        Stencil closeupAs for the stencil, I remembered that I have a scrapbook cutting tool that will use any True Type font that I have on my computer to cut shapes. (Why didn't I remember this when I was making those bibs last fall? Oh well...cutting those stencils was one of the only crafty things I was feeling up to at the time, anyway.) So I used that and some freezer paper to cut this Yoda quote out of a Star Wars-looking font. It worked pretty brilliantly, other than my evil, possessed ex-iron deciding to spew water all over the stencil when I ironed it on. The result was a little bleeding here and there where the fabric was still damp when I started working. It ended up being for the best, though-- I used some other paint in my stash to outline the letters in yellow to help cover the messy bits up, and ended up liking it so much better with the pop of color than I did when it was plain black! I can still sort of see the parts where it had bled, especially around that comma, but it looks a lot better than it did.

        Neckline detailThe one major change that I made to this pattern was the shoulder edging. The original instructions called for turning those little curved edges under and hemming them. That seemed rather fiddly to me, and like I'd just be setting myself up for rippling and frustration--especially given the state of my iron. So I cut an extra 1/4" off each edge instead, cut some bias strips out of the black knit, and treated it more like a binding. So much easier, even with trying to stitch in the ditch around tiny curves to get the underside to stay in place, and I like the contrast better than I think I would have liked the plain cream.

        I made this in the medium size, which looks like it corresponds roughly to somewhere in the 6-12 month range. Baby clothes sizing still baffles me, to be honest. I've actually resorted to hanging the onesies that I currently have in the closet by length, because they're all supposed to be the same size, but they don't look it at all! So I figured that if I go by length, I might be able to make faster guesses at what might fit him vs. not. Anyway, the point of all that is that I'm hoping this means he'll still fit into this shirt next May 4th. Yes, I already made him a shirt for his first Star Wars Day. I already have his first Halloween costume plotted out, too. What's your point?

        On a side note, I've also learned that it's almost impossible to find boy clothes with a sports theme that actually reference hockey. At least in the US--it's all baseball and football and occasionally basketball. Since Doug only cares about hockey and especially dislikes baseball, we've actually been passing the sportsy hand-me-down clothes we've been given to a good friend of mine who's due to have a boy about 6 weeks after me--clothes are all she's needed, since she already has a young daughter, and her husband is a lot more into sports in general. Also, now that Doug knows I have a machine that will let us make custom stencils, he requested that I help him decorate one of the plainer onesies that we've had passed on to us. The result?

        https://igcdn-photos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/t51.2885-15/11085068_1558879861044348_2079045648_n.jpgAccording to him, this font is one that gets used on some professional hockey gear. I did the machine set-up/ironing, he stenciled the black, and then I outlined it with the gold again so it would be closer to Pittsburgh Penguins colors. He had a lot of fun showing this one off to various local friends--we live in Flyers country, of course, and he likes trash-talking them--and I have a feeling he'll want me to make more hockey-themed clothes in the future!

        (Completely unrelated side note: Blogger is telling me this is my 900th post on here--crazy!)

        April 24, 2015

        dressed to the max(i)

        Maternity/nursing maxi-dressThat's right, I finished another maxi-dress! No camouflage baby bump for this one. It kind of looks like I just have no waist at all. (I guess I don't right now, really.) Honestly, I don't really feel like there's a whole lot to say about construction, since this is the third time I've used the Tiramisu bodice and the exact same skirt modification that I made on my last dress. And I already detailed the nursing-friendly alteration in my last post. Really, the biggest issue I had with putting this one together was my iron--it had been acting up for awhile, and I finally hit the last straw with it while trying to press the skirt seams the other day. After all, an iron that keeps turning off while you're actually pressing with it at the moment, and then taking forever to turn back on (and usually some unplugging and replugging--really annoying when the power strip is on the floor and you're 7 months pregnant!) So I ordered a new iron. Hopefully this one will hold up better, since the one I'd been using lasted me less than 2 years. It's supposed to arrive today, and none too soon, because it really shouldn't take me half an hour to press a hem because I have to keep waiting for the iron to turn on!

        side viewIsn't this print fun? It's one of the pieces I treated myself to when I visited Mood in NYC a little over a year ago. I'd gotten 3 yards with a maxi-dress vaguely in mind, though I certainly wasn't expecting that it would have to be a baby bump-friendly one at the time! But I do expect that I'll be wearing this one a lot over the coming summer. Even though the two patterns didn't quite come together as smoothly as I'd hoped. The back seems pretty loose to me in comparison with the black dress, and it is so tempting to try to take it in around the empire waist a little. Or fake in a back seam with the serger. Or something. I have to keep reminding myself that I still have the rest of this pregnancy/the belly only getting bigger to go, I have no idea what's going to be up with my bust size after that, and it would be better not to over-fit. I can always try to take it in a little later if needed, though it might be nice to have a looser dress when the Mid-Atlantic summer humidity kicks in. (I did tweak the sleeve/underarm area, though.)


        front viewThis will probably be the last garment that I make for myself until after Hobbit arrives, to be honest. I've got less than 8 weeks to go before my due date now (yiiiikes), so despite the fact that I have nearly no pants that both fit and are weather-appropriate, it seems a little pointless to take the time to sew any more maternity-type clothes. I am starting to think ahead to just straight-up nursing-friendly, or things that will work with another period of my figure changing around on me, and I do have some patterns in mind for when I'm feeling up to trying to sneak in sewing time post-baby. Is it weird that after so much time sewing knit garments over the last several months, I'm really starting to get the itch to dig into my wovens stash? But since that has to wait until I have a better idea of what size to sew, any projects that show up here over the next several weeks will probably just be a big babypalooza. I know that's not the most interesting thing for a lot of people, but honestly, this blog is pretty much just my personal craft journal anyway, and this is the stuff I need to be making right now. So, sorry not sorry, I guess?

        On a slightly related note, I've decided that I'm going to be sitting out of Me-Made-May this year, though I will happily follow along with what others are doing! Honestly, pretty much everything I've made that fits right now and works for the season has already been shown on here in the last couple of months, I really only have enough of that to do about one outfit a week, and there's other things I need to prioritize over stressing about outfits and taking pictures. Like continuing to stuff the freezer with as much pre-prepped food as possible, the mental list of baby sewing projects that I'd still like to finish in advance, and getting some music together for a couple of my flute students to work on while I'm out of commission for teaching. Not to mention that by the end of May, I'll be in the range of "could potentially pop any time". Hopefully I won't go that early, especially since a couple of my students are participating in a recital two weeks before my due date, and I'd like to be there to support them. Plus, the only date that worked for everyone involved in planning my baby shower is the last Saturday of the month, and I'd really like to not miss that due to being in labor!

        I also have to admit that I'm going to be a little sorry when the Small Human Being Sewalong wraps up at the end of this month. It's been fun getting to know a couple of new-to-me bloggers, and helpful to follow along with the discussions of what ends up being useful vs. not/how to find sewing time after baby, and so on. But I'm super-close to finishing another project for that, and may be able to knock out at least one more. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy this dress and all the pretty, swirly blues.

        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...

        Newborn
        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.

        Small/medium
        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): 
        SHBsewalongbadge2 

        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.

          lining
          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?