September 30, 2015

Better than nothing

It's hardly worth it to do a September roundup, as this is pretty much all I have to show for the last 3 weeks. It's a simple sewing job, and I feel like I should be closer to finished. But nap time has been a struggle lately, I'm back to almost my full teaching schedule and that means most afternoons are a no-go, and I'm fighting a cold. All I managed to sew yesterday was serging and pressing the armhole seams. But it's one step closer than I was.

So at least it's something.

And all things considered, that's really good.

September 17, 2015

it's that time of year again!

Woohoo! I just wanted to take a few minutes and talk about my FESA plans for this year. Due to my current time constraints, I'm keeping it simple this year, and only committing to a handful of projects-- after all, I also have a little Halloween costume that I've been mentally planning since, oh, last Christmas. So here's what I'm hoping to accomplish...

Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather 
IMG_2813I have fabric that I think will work to finally try out the Cake Espresso leggings in two different colors, though after the disaster that was my last attempt at sewing leggings, I'm definitely double checking the stretch first this time! Assuming all is well, I plan to sew the black pair, because that will go with nearly all of the skirts I own that currently fit.  I'm most likely to wear them as tights with boots. (Honestly, based on my initial fiddling to check the stretch, I think this fabric will be too see-through to use them as anything else!)

Fabulous Frocks
IMG_2811For the third year in a row, I am putting the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress, in this very fall-appropriate rayon challis print, on my list. And I am determined that this is the year I'll actually make it, dangit!!! After all, it looks like the perfect style for postpartum and nursing. I have managed to get the pattern traced, the fabric cut out, and the darts sewn so far. So third time is the charm, right?

Baby It's Cold Outside
IMG_2812This may be cheating, since I've been working on this particular project for over a month already. But I've been knitting a cowl (the Wine Country Cowl) out of some bulky yarn that I originally bought as the top part of a sweater that I've since abandoned the plan to knit. I could not figure out the very first steps of the pattern at all, and decided I didn't like how the two yarns coordinated after all. "I can't wear wool" substitution problems strike again. Anyway, I'm over halfway done this cowl, I think--it's been one of my methods for coping with Hobbit's penchant for napping best when on my lap and leaving me chair-bound for long stretches of time. Sadly, I think that my plan to use up the entire stash of this yarn isn't going to work out, given its current length. Any suggestions for what else I can do with one or two balls of this stuff?

The nice thing is that if I finish all three of these projects, I'll have one complete outfit! If I can get those and the costume done and still have time left, I have a fairly substantial mental list of additional projects that I could add in. But since I am unsure at this point what the greatest needs in my wardrobe will be, or what I'll be most motivated to work on (SO important right now), I'll just see how this goes first.

September 13, 2015

Rae, a drop of golden sun...

Yeah, I made two more of the Sewaholic Rae skirts, in two very different fabrics. Since I already briefly talked about the construction before, this is more to show how they ended up-- and also my monthly post for Gillian's #betterpicturesproject!

IMG_2736This month's assignment was to find a new spot to take photos, ideally 5 minutes or less from your house. Admittedly, the thought of setting up a tripod somewhere while lugging around Hobbit's car seat (and quite probably listening to him scream the whole time, since the car seat is one of his least favorite things EVER so far) was not very appealing to me. So my big brave move was out to the back yard! I've avoided it so far, because we're in a central townhouse, and pretty much all we ever do with the yard is mow it and let the dogs out to do their business. That, and that tan strip behind the trees just happens to be one of the busiest highways in the state. But the lighting really is better out here than in my sewing room, and Doug was kind enough to take some pictures for me. Which is much easier than running back and forth between me and the tripod. I just may have to reserve my outfit photos for weekends for awhile, that's all.
Recycled Rae 2I also experimented with setting the camera to portrait mode. I think it turned out well, and the bonus was that keeping it on a more automatic setting made it really simple for Doug! So I'll save the more manual settings for when I'm the one behind the lens, I think. (Mastering that really is something I'd like to do sometime, but I think that will be better for trying to get artsy with the kid photos and landscapes while traveling.)

I guess I should say something about the actual sewing, right? This particular skirt is half a refashion. Several years ago, I made a dress for my brother's wedding that was a complete and utter disaster from start to finish. Once the wedding was over, I promptly threw the dress into my refashion bin, along with an extra yard and a half or so of the same fabric that I purchased later, with the intention of turning it into something else. I was originally thinking maybe some kind of longer, fitted, belted vest. But that never came to fruition. I've finally redeemed it with this skirt, though. The fabric itself is a polyester shantung, and I was able to cut half of the skirt out of the original dress. I didn't have the extra piece on my original stash list, since it was out of sight in the bin and I'd honestly forgotten it was there. But I have about 2/3 yard left, so I'm estimating I used half a yard for the other half of the skirt.

recycled RaePardon the slightly derpy face here-- I'm including this one because it's one of the best for showing the skirt detail. I had forgotten how absolutely awful this fabric frays, so I French seamed the whole thing. And since it's polyester, of course it didn't really press all that great, so I also ended up topstitching over all of the seams to give it more of a flat-fell look. Honestly, the effect makes me think of nylon parachutes. But since I'm coming to terms with the fact that my generally casual lifestyle doesn't necessarily fit the shiny fabrics that I often adore, I think it's for the best here, because it definitely helps the skirt look a lot less formal than I originally intended the dress to be.

I can also say that this skirt was for the Monthly Stitch's August theme of twos, since this was my second Rae skirt that month. (I finished it on August 31!)

exploding TARDIS Rae

The third skirt sewed up a lot faster, since I made it out of quilt cotton and could just serge all the seam edges to finish it off! I kind of like this artsy black top that I bought for our Paris trip last fall with this particular print, and will definitely use this combo again when it gets its out-of-house debut. (I was waiting until I got pictures, mostly because I didn't want to have to iron it again first.)

exploding TARDIS!

A closer-up view of the print. Why, yes, that is a print designed around Van Gogh's lesser-known "Exploding TARDIS". And this little Whovian is rather psyched that the colors just happen to fall into the realm of the palette that I'm overall attempting to work with for my future wardrobe cultivation. (Especially because yellow/gold is one of the ones I've been meaning to add more of.)

dog photobomb

Finally, even though this is an attempt at better pictures, and I'm fully aware that the flash went off and left a weird shadow behind me, it seemed fitting to continue the tradition of golden retriever photobombing!

September 9, 2015

cuteness overload

I have a tolerance-hate relationship with shoes. I tolerate them, because my feet would be cold without them, and I'd step on a lot more sharp, pointy things. (Especially with this hobby.) But I really hate shopping for them, because it's so hard to find shoes that fit and are still cute. I've wished SO many times that I could just make my own. And one of the things parents typically do with their kids is vicariously enjoy the things they could never do themselves, right? So all that to say, I made my kid shoes. And they're adorable!

I had a cooperative model today. So prepare for a barrage of cuteness!
IMG_2729First of all, the shoes themselves. Both are from Simplicity 2491, with a few modifications. Everything is scraps--linen, heavyweight muslin, a thin faux suede, and microfleece for the insides. The pattern called for wool felt inside, but I didn't want to risk finding out the hard way that his skin reacts to wool as badly as mine.


The pattern for this one looked kind of like a bear,  so I altered the shape of the ears so it would resemble our golden retrievers. I also machine stitched the mouth, since I already had black thread in the machine from my previous project, which still needs to be photographed and blogged. 


I also changed the closure. This one was originally two ribbons to tie into a bow. Hobbit is a very active baby, though. And kicking is his main thing right now. So a one-ribbon strap with Velcro like some of the other views has was a much more practical option.

The monkey shoes originally had that velcro ribbon closure, but I got even lazier and used black elastic to make them fully slip-on. If I make another pair of these in a larger size sometime, I'm thinking I might go with a frog, because that monkey face shape is perfect for that, too!

I'm really glad I made these bigger than I thought I needed to. According to the measurements, he should have had room in an extra-small. I made the small, and while there's room in the toes, it's still a bit of a struggle to pull them on his feet. They were very quick to sew together, though. I got these done from start to finish in three naps. And if the weather ever gets cooler before he has a growth spurt, they'll be good lightweight shoes for the fall.

I'll end this with a gratuitous outtake, because THAT FACE.

September 1, 2015

August round-up, and a stashbusting update

How is it September already? This summer's been kind of a sleep-deprived blur for me, I guess for obvious reasons. But it's still weird to think that soon I'm going to be having to start layering up for colder weather.

Before I get into this post, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented on my last post! It was really interesting and encouraging to hear your thoughts on creativity when interpreting vs. designing/composing.

So, all factors considered, this was actually a pretty productive month for me as far as sewing goes! And I do have a couple of projects that I haven't shown on here yet. I did finish up a second Rae skirt yesterday, but I haven't had a chance to photograph it yet, so I'll save that for a later post. But aside from that, and the first Rae skirt and the flamingo skirt, here's what I've been up to:

puzzle bagMy in-laws have been bringing a lot of stuff over lately. They recently came for lunch with three boxes of kids' books and a few toys that they picked up at a yard sale for $1/box. I didn't keep everything--there were a lot of things like coloring books that were already colored, and they ended up taking the girlier stuff for when our niece is over there. But there were some excellent book finds, too. Somehow, several puzzles ended up in the bottom of the basket of things I kept. Since Hobbit is still a few years too young for even these simple ones, I made a bag to keep everything together until he's old enough. It only took one naptime, I recycled a zipper and effectively used up the largest piece left over from the diaper bag, and my label worked. So I'm happy with this spontaneous project.

Merida costume

The other thing I spent a good chunk of the month on was a costume for my best friend, who is going to DragonCon again this year. She gave me permission to post this photo. She wanted to do a Disney princess this year, and chose Merida. We actually started this back in the winter, with a plan that I'd work through it with her so she could learn a little sewing along the way. But life and mostly my pregnancy meant that there was still a good chunk to do with the deadline approaching, so I finished it. The pattern is McCall  , and while she bought the main green fabric and trims, I happily donated part of my stash to the cause--the sleeve lining bits and the white brocade was my contribution. (Now if I could just figure out what to do with the other polyester brocades that have been hanging around!) I'm happy that, although I can't go with her this time, and I'm ok with that because the baby needs me here, some of my sewing will still be there.

Stash used: Not counting the skirt I finished yesterday, mostly because it was half a refashion and I have no idea how much I used on top of that, this leaves me with a total of 8 yards used up, and 6 that were straight out of the stash. I counted the flamingos, even though I broke habit and used it almost immediately.

Stash added: I bought 2 1/2 yards of chambray with a gift card that had been sitting around, because I felt that I needed a denim skirt for the fall. Then I made the happy discovery that my TARDIS skirt really is bigger on the inside, and I can squeeze myself into it again! So now I need to figure out what to use it for, since there's a LOT of options. A shirt? A dress? A shirtdress? Augh! And then remember what I said about my in-laws? Someone they knew, I think one of Doug's aunts, was getting rid of fabric, so they brought it here. Again, I didn't keep everything, because I don't have much use for upholstery fabric. But the potentially useable stuff still totaled 18 1/2 yards! Yikes!

The best find in there, hands-down, was this. It's large scale and crazy bright and I must use it. But not until I start next summer's clothes, I'm sure. I have more pressing wardrobe needs. And Sarah is hosting my favorite annual sewalong again, so of course I want in!

Since we're starting the last third of the year, I thought this would be a good time to give an overall stashbusting update. I started off the year with about 375 yards of fabric, and according to my records, I've used close to 79! (Thank you, diapers.) The best news to me, though, is that even with the additions, my current tally runs around 351 yards.  So as of now, I have about 24 yards less than I started with. I still feel like I have a ridiculous amount of fabric, especially now that I just ended up with over 20 extra yards in a month. But every project gets me one piece closer to my goal of a manageable-to-store, better-curated stash.

(Quick question-- is anyone else having trouble with Blogger's layout of photos lately? I really hate that it keeps separating the text and photos like this, but I've triple-checked that photo alignment option, so I don't know what else to do!)

August 23, 2015

a study in improvisation

Sometimes, I feel like I'm not a very creative person.

Sure, I look creative. After all, I have a music degree (two, actually), and I mange my own clothes. I also enjoy cooking, most of the time. But here's the thing: I'm a classically trained musician. Which is basically the equivalent of not being the author who creates the story, but the translator who takes a different language and rewrites it into English. The times I've gotten the most nervous performing have been the times I've been told to just make up a part. And I see this in the other things, too. I can follow a recipe well, but I struggle to take a handful of ingredients and turn them into a tasty meal without one. And I choose the fabrics and tweak the fit, sometimes I mash together two patterns if I'm feeling brave, but it's almost always someone else's design that I'm just interpreting.

Self-drafted wrap skirtThat being said, this skirt was definitely out of my comfort zone. And it's certainly not perfect. If this was Project Runway and Michael Kors was still a judge, he'd probably pull out that Becky Home-ecky phrase, furthering my dislike of him for making my name synonymous with bad sewing. But I made it, without a pattern, and it did what I wanted it to do. And that's pretty huge for me.

So here's the details: it's two yards of quilt cotton that should be all wrong for me--mint green? Pink? Really? But the flamingos called to me. I cut it to the length I thought would be good, plus seams and hems, then cut that piece into thirds. The back is adjustable, with buttonhole elastic courtesy of Brooke, who kindly sent me some from her own stash when she learned via Instagram that I didn't have any. Aren't sewcialists the best? The front waistband is flat, and secured by two buttons-- one inside, one out. I fully lined it with some white polyester from my stash, which took my totals down another 2 yards. 

Self-drafted wrap skirtI think my favorite detail is the front curve. I had to wing it, because I didn't have anything in the room that was round and large enough, and our plates aren't round either. But I think it turned out really nice!

I was also pleased that I was able to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions, as wrap skirts are prone to. I first wore it for a morning out with Doug and Hobbit, on the boardwalk at one of my state's busiest beaches, as we had a couple of errands to run at specific stores in that area. It was quite breezy, but my legs stayed covered!

Self-drafted wrap skirt

I'm also pleased that I was able to finish it in time for the end of the month, since this fabric just screams summer and probably won't really work once it starts getting colder. I may have a long way to go to truly get the hang of designing my clothes from scratch, but I think this is a step in the right direction.

(Note: the stupid Blogger app on my phone ate about half of the original post when I was trying to get off of the original draft, so I've reconstructed it as best as I could.)

August 16, 2015

transitional sewing

Sewaholic Rae

Just a quick project to share today. This was the only photo that sort of turned out, to be honest, and I'm limited on time while the baby's napping. I tried a couple of side shots, but I'll admit I'm feeling a little self-conscious about how I look in those-- I know I should be kind to myself, since 8 weeks ago I was just going into labor, and lots of people around here have been telling me that I look great. But I think I'm ready to not look like I have a baby bump on here, you know?

Anyway, the skirt. I'm trying to focus on projects that are relatively quick to make and forgiving on the fit, while I restock my wardrobe with a few basics to help me get into the fall. This is the Sewaholic Rae skirt, which was designed as a beginner skirt, so I figured it would work up fast. Also, elastic waists are my friends right now. I was really happy with how this turned out. It was a fairly instant-gratification project-- I think it only took me 3 or 4 afternoon naptimes to sew up, and those have been quite variable in length so far, so that's not bad. The fabrics are leftover pieces from this skirt and these pants, and I think they pair well together. I'm calling it my Zelda Rae skirt, because I have to admit that black and tan makes me think of German shepherds, and in particular, the very sweet one that my parents had while I was in college and beyond. But I also figured the black and tan combo means that it would go with a lot. Aside from that, there's not much to say about the construction. There's only two pattern pieces. Which also makes it quick to cut out, and since that's not my favorite part of sewing, that's fine by me.

It's a little wrinkly looking, yeah. But the tan is linen, while the black is a linen-type. So let's call this "embracing the nature of the fabric" instead of "I'm too lazy to iron while trying to get us out the door", ok?

All in all, I think this is a great skirt for both the seasonal transition, and my sizing transitions. I'm definitely going to attempt at least one more of these, assuming the refashion I have in mind has enough fabric. I'm also debating about two more. I used a gift card I've been hoarding to buy some chambray, since none of my old skirts that weren't already elastic waist were fitting. But then last week, I made the happy discovery that I've shrunk down enough that my TARDIS skirt fits again, even though it's snug, and this other denim skirt is also right on the verge of fitting (snugly).  So now I'm questioning whether that chambray would be more useful as another type of garment. I also splurged on another piece of fabric just before the baby was born, because the Whovian in me demanded it, and I was originally thinking a different Sewaholic skirt pattern, but I think I might go with this instead. After all, the sizing is more versatile. And we know we'd like to have at least one more kid a little ways down the road, assuming we can, so I'd rather use my precious sewing time to make things that aren't just going to fit for a few months before doing this all over again.

August 10, 2015

this year's sewing, revisited

Now that I've been using some of these baby-related things for several weeks, I figured it would be a good time to look back at the things I've made this year, and see how they're working out in the real world. If you follow me on Instagram, I apologize that you've seen some of these photos before, but it's the only way I can actually show these right now.

IMG_20150705_082632First off, the maternity clothes that I made hoping they'd also work after. I haven't had a chance to try out the Megan Nielsen top again, because it is way too hot and humid for polyester right now. But the two maxi-dresses (pictured here, and the solid black one), and the tie-dyed maxi skirt are all working out pretty well. There are things I do wish were a little different about each one. The yoga-style waistband on the skirt was a bit too wide even when I was pregnant, and I have to fold it over pretty far now. But it does fit without falling down, which was my main goal. This blue dress still feels a bit wide in the upper back, and I am debating whether to add a faux back seam just to take in some of that extra fullness--I'd hate for a print this lovely to feel frumpy! As for the black dress, the fit is still really good, even minus the bump. But I do need to hem it a little shorter. It was on the verge of too long before, and now I have to be really careful to avoid stepping on it when I walk. I just haven't had the time to do so yet. On the plus side, the zipper nursing access, though not perfect, functions pretty well.

If you have no interest in reading about the more baby-specific makes, here's a good place to stop! Otherwise, moving on to...

IMG_20150804_081217...the gender-reveal outfit! Along with Hobbit's very skeptical expression. He's not a small baby by any means--he's only 6 1/2 weeks old, and we've already had to take the newborn insert out of his car seat, and several of his 0-3 month sized clothes are beginning to feel a little tight when snapping them closed. I say that to show just how ridiculously oversized this is on him! I think I may have misread the pattern. I thought it was a 0-3 month size, but I'm looking at the sizing chart on the website, and it looks like this may be more of a 6 month size. Which leaves me wondering if I should go back and add some length to the legs, since these are shorts and that would mean he won't fit into these well until it's cold. The thought of him not being able to wear it at all is mildly heartbreaking, and I do still have some of this denim left. But would that look dumb to have that seam there?

Next up: the diapers.
He's modeling the smallest of the three sizes here. For the most part, they're working out really well so far-- we've been having to do laundry at least every other day because of them, but we haven't had to buy a single diaper yet. (We were given some disposables at the shower, and have been using those occasionally, but for the most part, it's been almost exclusively the sewn ones since I was recovered enough to start taking more stairs around week 3.)

At the risk of being TMI, for the most part, the messes have been contained well. I think we've had maybe 3-4 blowouts the whole time so far--granted, I try to change him pretty quickly as needed, but still. The kid really does eat like a hobbit (i.e. a LOT), so I suspect we'd have had a lot more otherwise. The only issue, other than frequent laundry, has been that the really wet diapers soak through the front where the velcro stitching is. They're not constructed in a way that I can really go back and waterproof those seams, but I think it will probably only be another month or two before he outgrows this size anyway, so it probably isn't worth the effort. It'll be interesting to see what happens when I switch to the next size with the pocket inserts and snaps. The bulk of these has also occasionally made it hard for him to wear certain shorts and pants, but honestly, it's been so hot here that we usually have him in just a onesie or a t-shirt anyway, other than when we're in the icebox that is my church.

I don't have pictures of me using the next three things. I've gotten some good use out of the nursing cover, including one incident where I had to feed him in a restaurant parking lot. Suffice to say, I thought initially that maybe it was too big, but I'm glad it's the size it is. I'm still getting the hang of maneuvering him underneath, but I'll figure it out. The diaper bag is also working out well, though it's usually packed very full due to the bulk of the cloth diapers. The matching changing mat does the job, though the snap stopped working after the first time I washed it. I guess I messed something up when setting it, but I just fold it up and stuff it in the bag. It's easier to maneuver with one hand that way, anyway.

So the last thing I have to review at the moment is the play gym.
20150718_110525 As far as I can tell what's going on in a baby's head, he really seems to love it! We've been using it almost daily as a mat for his tummy time, and once he starts getting fussy, I'll flip him over and let him bat at the felt animals. He's gotten pretty good at aiming for the lowest-hanging ones, and has also figured out that he can make them all shake if he hits the hula hoop instead. I've tried him with a few other toys here and there, but so far, this one holds his attention the best. So I'd say it was well worth the effort to make it. Yay for Pinterest wins!

Otherwise, I have been sewing a little, though I'm pretty much limited to when I can get him to nap. I've finished a skirt, but haven't had a chance to photograph it yet. I've been going through my wardrobe and weeding out things that won't work anymore, including several me-mades, and am debating whether to do the same with my sewing patterns. I'm helping my best friend with a DragonCon costume, which is taking all of my sewing time at the moment. I've got multiple other quick projects lined up for myself, mostly of the refashion type, and am hoping that I can get to them soon! I'm also taking part in the #sewphotohop meme on Instagram, which has been fun so far. (I have my account there set to private, since I post a lot of baby pictures there these days, but if you want to follow me on there, just send a request. It hasn't been hard to figure out who sews on there, I'm just trying to block random strangers from getting access to the kiddo! At least, as much as is possible when posting occasional pictures on something as public as a blog.)

August 2, 2015

Quiet Book the Second: the Whovian edition

Given how long it took me to assemble the Lord of the Rings book, I'm utterly amazed at how quickly the second book came together! Granted, I had all of the pieces cut out and ready to go, since I cut out everything for both books at the same time. But the pages on the Doctor Who book were smaller and overall simpler, and had a lot less of sewing two layers together to make one piece. So even with my limited ability to use the sewing machine, both due to the small size of a lot of the pieces and the large size of my baby bump, the pages were all sewn/embroidered and ready to assemble into a book in about a month. I think the LotR one took about 4 times as long! So I'm really glad that I did that one first.

Of course, it probably also helped that Hobbit was quite comfortable where he was, and I had about a week and a half of end-stage/past-due pregnancy where I had nothing to do except watch tv, work on the book, and see if I'd actually go into labor or not. I did wait until after he was born to do the final assembly, since my sewing machine was needed. But aside from that, I'm pretty sure the kiddo was waiting until I finished his toy!

Anyway, here is the Doctor Who quiet book. Once again, I did not design this pattern, it was from an Etsy seller named BantamBB-- I'm guessing the designer discontinued his/her shop, because I can't find it on the site anymore.

coverThe cover page, which is pretty self-explanatory.

page 1
The pattern originally called for a piece of plain black felt inside, but that wasn't exciting, since the background is also black. So I raided my mom's quilt scraps, and found this swirly space-looking print. Much more wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey, don't you think?

pages 2-3The accessories for this were a little fiddly. Especially the scarf-- I did glue it all together first, but didn't trust the glue to hold long-term. I was having enough trouble getting it to stay short-term! But the Dalek wears a fez now. (Which can be easily removed and swapped out for another hat.) Fezzes are cool.

Also, I guess these are the WWII Daleks, given the colors.

page 4The difficulty with geeky quiet books, which I encountered to a lesser degree, is trying to make some of this stuff a little less creepy for a kid. Which was really hard to do for a Weeping Angel. The toothbrush/toothpaste does make me laugh, though. I'm hoping they aren't too hard to get in and out of the hand "pockets".

page 5The thing about the pattern for this page that didn't make sense to me was that it was a line to follow to get the TARDIS to Earth, but the pocket that holds the TARDIS was located right underneath Earth! So I moved it to the opposite diagonal corner.

page 6

I'm not 100% sure this page is going to function the way it's supposed to, because I was having trouble getting the brads loose enough to actually make the limbs move, yet tight enough to hold it all together. I guess only time will tell. (I really don't mean that as a pun, considering the subject matter of this show.)

page 7See, it's educational! And the other quiet book didn't have anything for number recognition, so I like that this one does.

page 8

This was another one that I had to try to make a little less creepy. It didn't help that the pattern example had the red-eye version that wants to kill you. So I opted for the less creepy one, since this is supposed to be a friendly Ood. The ball flips over to say "Bye".

page 9

The pattern didn't actually specify what K-9 would be hiding. So I did my best felt approximation of the Tenth Doctor's sonic screwdriver. Because, seriously, a Doctor Who book without a sonic screwdriver would be blasphemy.

So that's it! I'm quite happy to take a break from anything too hand-sewing intensive for awhile, though I'm sure this won't be the last toy I make for Hobbit. In the meantime, I'm reacquainting myself with knitting, since I've found I can somewhat awkwardly hold the needles over him and knit for short bursts during his post-feeding food comas. It's been a refreshing change, after 6 months of hand-stitching tiny bits of felt.

July 25, 2015

not in love, but...

Wow, how has it already been a month since Hobbit was born? It's been both rewarding and challenging. On the one hand, aside from some occasional crankiness, I'm surprised at how well I've been able to function while averaging 4-5 hours of often-interrupted sleep every night. And Hobbit does nap well...the challenge is more that it's mostly while he's being held, and it was just last week that I managed to successfully get him to take some naps while I wasn't holding him and could actually get some stuff done--namely, making the project that is the subject of this post! (Also, he eats SO much. Hobbit was a very appropriate nickname!)

(And thanks for all of the kind comments! We think he's pretty adorable, but we may be a little biased.)

The other challenge has been getting dressed. I knew that my figure wasn't going to immediately go back to what it was pre-pregnancy, but I was honestly surprised at how very, very few of my clothes actually do fit right now! Including some things that I thought would fit decently enough, like my Tiramisu dresses. It's been very strange for me, since I was fortunate enough to have a pretty steady weight/measurements for most of my adult life, and now all of my shirts are extra-tight and I literally only have about 5 things that I can get over my hips, all elastic-waist. Needless to say, I'm having a bit of a wardrobe crisis. (I'm especially a little freaked out at the thought of cooler weather hitting and having literally no pants or jeans.) So as soon as I could find some spare time without a napping baby on my lap, I made a thing!

Adelaide frontThis is the Adelaide dress from Seamwork magazine, chosen both for its supposedly fast sewing time and for how forgiving it looked like it would be for my post-partum figure. That, and it looked very nursing-friendly, which is going to have to be the theme of everything I make for my upper half for awhile, I think.  I wasn't 100% sure about the fit, since I was never completely satisfied with the Sorbetto on me, so I opted for the wearable muslin route. The fabric is a mystery woven, probably a poly-cotton blend, that was given to me for free when someone else destashed it to my mom--when this happens, she passes on whatever isn't good for quilts to me.

While I like the color well enough, I thought I'd get bored with a solid dress. Also, I don't have the right kind of set-in snaps on hand. So in the interest of stashbusting, I decided to swap those out for these sparkly red buttons that I originally got with a Beignet skirt in mind, before deciding that a red skirt wasn't something that my closet needed after all and giving away the fabric in a swap. I kept the buttons, though, because sparkly, so I'm glad I finally found something to do with them! To tie those in better, I topstitched the placket, neckline and armholes in red. But I stuck with the blue for the belt and belt loops, because I don't want to draw that much attention to my waist while I'm (hopefully) losing the extra weight.

Adelaide backI'll be honest--I don't love this dress. It does serve its intended purpose, and it did knock an entire piece of yardage out of my stash--2 3/5 yards, for the record. I guess I just don't feel like it's entirely me. I'm not sure how much of that feeling is a commentary on the solids, or that my body is a stranger that I'm having to get to know all over again.  It might be worth giving the pattern another shot sometime, because I do feel that it's more of a fabric issue than a stylistic one. I wonder if I'd feel better about it if it was in a print, or a fabric that draped a little better so I wouldn't have that bit of gaping in the neckline. Or maybe just a different shade of blue?

But at this point, I'm also feeling like this beggar can't be too choosy. And there are plusses to the utilitarian stashbusting--I don't really have to iron this one after washing, and I don't particularly care if he spits up on it.

 I do have a couple of other projects in mind that will hopefully carry me through the warmer portion of the fall. And once I get cleared to be more active again, hopefully in 2 weeks, I figure I can start taking Hobbit for walks. Maybe, if all goes well, I'll at least be able to fit into my collection of Thurlow pants again by the time it gets cold. After all, they worked until the end of my first trimester, where all of my other pants failed, so a girl can hope. Right?

Have you ever had to rebuild your wardrobe almost from scratch? How did you deal with it? Or, for those of you who have had kids, how long did you hold on to your old clothes (especially me-mades) to see if they would fit again or not?

July 2, 2015

9 months in the making

Believe it or not, I can actually do a small June round-up. Although I haven't had a chance to take pictures yet, for the most part.

So this month, I...
  • Finished all of the hand-sewing on the second quiet book, thanks to a week where I literally had nothing left to do except hang out at my parents' while Doug was at work and wait to see if I'd go into labor. All that needs to be done is to sew the finished pages back-to-back with the machine, and assemble the book. 
  • Finished knitting a scarf from a Craftsy class that I started last year sometime. And I have quite a bit of the second ball of yarn left, but I do have an idea for a project to use it on. Just need the time.
  • Did not use up any of my fabric stash. But I did order 7 yards, because suckered me in with geeky novelty prints. 
  • Got the scrapbook that I've been working on almost completely done, minus a few pictures that just got ordered. (Since I got married, I've been doing one per year, running from June to May in order to coincide with our anniversary. I seriously love the pocket-style scrapbooking, it makes it so much easier to keep up!) I even managed to finish up some older unfinished album pages, too! 
Oh yeah...and I finished this project.
He was born on June 22 (a week and a day past his due date), 20 3/4" long and 8 pounds 10 ounces. He's 10 days old now, and though it's been pretty exhausting, it's been fun getting to know this little guy, too. He's usually pretty happy, except when he has to get a bath or I take too long in getting ready to feed him.

Of course, when I do feed him, then he looks more like this:

Speaking of feeding, he's ready for that again. Hobbit was a very accurate nickname.

Back later...

June 4, 2015

pinned there, done that (the May wrap-up)

The latest two sewing projects--both things for the baby--were ideas that I found on Pinterest, and they (mostly) worked out. So I figured I'd just show them both at the same time. You're getting all phone photos/previously taken Instagrams today, since the DSLR is packed with the hospital bag now. It's also been rather dreary weather here all week, so I apologize in advance for the not-so-great lighting on the first item in particular. I just wanted to get this post done before I'm a little...distracted. Ahem.

Thing 1:
2015-06-04_08-16-37Not the most exciting make ever, but it was necessary. The co-hosts of the Small Human Being Sewalong put together a lovely Pinterest board that had all sorts of useful items on it. Among them was this baby changing mat pattern/tutorial. Which I basically just used to get the curve of the top, and then completely winged it instead, haha. I basically just wanted something I could throw into the diaper bag that I could use when I'm having to change him at other people's houses/those public restroom changing tables, fold up to contain potential messes, and then throw in the wash. I also thought that using up a little more of the leftover fabric from the bag would be nice! Though, sadly, I didn't manage to finish the suedecloth off.  The snap setter I bought for the diapers came in handy for coming up with a hidden closure, though.

20150604_081414I decided to make the dimensions wider/longer than the original, and leave off the two pocket wings on the side. I didn't think they'd be very useful with the extra bulk of cloth diapers, especially once he's in the larger sizes. It's not like I won't have the bag with me at these times anyway. The inside is a double layer of polyurethane laminate, since I'd had to buy an extra piece at Joann's to finish off the diapers and had leftovers, and I know it's washable. Even though it makes the inside look a little more boring than vinyl-covered cotton prints would have been, which is what the original pattern called for.

I'm glad that I had to get a little distance on this one to get the full shot--the binding really isn't all that great, because I forgot how to do the corners. But this one's more of a function over form project, anyway. At least, that's how I'm justifying my less-than-stellar work to myself.

Thing 2:

I've been racking my brains for months, trying to figure out what to do with these adorable felt ornaments that my mom made: made a whole bunch of these as favors for my baby shower, which had a children's book theme. That's also mostly what I Doug and I decided to go with for the nursery. So we have representatives from all sorts of picture books: a Fox in Socks, a moose (for If You Give A Moose a Muffin), the owls are from a book called Who's Hiding--which is what gave her the idea to make these in the first place, the frog and bear come from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, the rabbit is for the Beatrix Potter stories (after Peter Rabbit loses his coat and shoes), and the penguin is for a book called How Do Penguins Play? (And also for my mother-in-law, who is completely obsessed with all things penguin.)

As for the dogs...they're little felt versions of our Malkin and Crosby!

Anyway, I was originally thinking of making a mobile, but was having trouble figuring out how best to make them to accommodate the ribbon loops, and not create a potential safety hazard on the crib. Then I saw this Pinterest tutorial for a homemade play gym that's lightweight, easy to deconstruct for storage, and had felt ornaments. And I knew it would be super-cheap, because I already had everything to make it except for hula hoops! I wasn't originally planning on having a play gym, since they're so overpriced, but it was too cute of an idea to pass up. Hopefully the dogs won't be all over the baby with this...
Instead of a quilt, I opted to make a solid fabric mat, because I had yards of this swirly green quilt cotton that I can't remember what on earth I bought it for in the first place. (That, and quilts take longer.) I also had some solid green leftovers from my last round of geeky bibs, and more of those snaps. I managed to use up about half of each piece, so once again, I need to figure out what to do with leftovers. Oh well.

I had to kind of wing it on the tabs--I did manage to sew them into the hula hoop cover tubes, but then discovered that the original length would leave the ornaments hanging way too low. So I wrapped them around the tubes a couple of times and hand-tacked them down, then added the snaps in the appropriate places. Overall, I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, though!
 The dogs were less impressed.

Aside from following a Pinterest tutorial for making a couple of old camisoles a little more nursing layering-friendly, hacking the Ikea curtains and the blackout curtains that we got for the nursery together, and starting work on another felt quiet book (Doctor Who this time), these two things are pretty much all I have to show for the month. Which leaves my stashbusting total at somewhere around 3 yards. Not my best month, but I didn't buy any fabric, so that has to count for something!

Aside from that, Doug and I have been working hard on finishing up this project:

We both did the wall decals, but he pretty much took care of the extra bathroom otherwise. And he helped with organizing the closet, but I took care of dealing with the rest of the laundry and hanging things up otherwise. (And that laundry was not an easy task, because we had the baby shower on Saturday. Between a giant clothesline full of baby clothes that Doug's mom/sister/aunt put together, outfits that other people bought us, and some extras we hadn't had before like hooded towels and crib sheets, I seriously had a pile as big as our larger dog!)

Now that that's all taken care of, and my music teaching work is more or less wrapped up for the next couple of months, I just need to figure out how to occupy myself for the next week and a half or so while I wait for the kiddo to make his debut. I do still have hand-sewing, but finding comfortable places to sit long enough to get anything done on that, or read, is a bit of a challenge right now! I may spend some time playing with my scrapbooks again, though, since the chair at that workstation seems to work better for me for some reason.

So I guess this is my last post for a little while, until I am physically able to/can start sneaking in some time to make things again! In the meantime, wishing you all lots of summer sewing fun!

May 27, 2015

summer sewing daydreams

Well, here we are...about 2 1/2 weeks before my due date. Sadly, I've reached the point where it's just too physically difficult for me to start any new sewing projects, other than the hand-stitching I've been doing on a second quiet book. (Thanks for all the kind words on the last one, by the way! It was fun.) Between my back refusing to let me sit comfortably anywhere for longer than 5 minutes, and my belly getting in the way of both the sewing machine table and my ability to get the leverage needed to work the foot pedal, I've just had to accept that I'm just going to have to wait and see what sort of time I can carve out to delve back into this with a newborn. I have managed to finish a couple of things this month, which I'll show soon. But I'm coping in the meantime by playing around with pairing patterns and fabrics in my stash to figure out some potential projects that will be forgiving of the changes in my figure that will still be happening/easy to adapt to my new lifestyle of mostly stay-at-home mom. I do plan on picking up the music/sewing lessons I teach again, hopefully around mid-to-late August. So teaching-friendly clothes are ok, and I don't have to do all yoga pants. I don't even own a pattern for yoga pants, anyway. So there's good incentive to not even go there!

(Honestly, I've managed to stay within the recommended range for pregnancy weight gain, even though it sounds like Hobbit is going to be a bigger baby than I'd expected--not a 9-10 pounder, thank God, but still bigger than either of us or our siblings. I guess all that nausea has been good for something after all! So I'm hoping that means that maybe all of those Thurlow pants will fit again this fall, since I didn't have to give them up until almost the second trimester. That would help sooo much.)

Anyway, here's some of the potential ideas I've been bouncing around:

IMG_25131. Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress. This one is at the top of the list, honestly. I've had this pattern/fabric combo bagged up with notions for about 2 years now, with the intention of sewing it for the summer-to-fall transition. But other projects kept getting in the way. I still really like this rayon challis print, though, and I'd like to see it become something. The bonus is that there's so many colors to pick from in the print that it'll be easy to adapt to fall layering with boots and leggings. Plus, it'll go great with the next cardigan I plan to make for myself, whenever I finish the quiet book and can get back to knitting instead of hand-stitching! The gathered/tie back waist should make it forgiving for whatever's going on with my waistline, and the button front means it'll be great for nursing.  I am thinking that maybe I should wearable-muslin this first, since I do have some bedsheets in the muslin bin with a similar drape to this fabric, and my bust measurement is already a whopping 5" bigger than it used to be! (Good thing I hadn't traced this one out yet, right?)

IMG_25062. Sewaholic Rae skirt. I bought this one kind of on a whim during one of her past sales, since it looked like it would be a more flattering fast skirt to sew than some of the older patterns that I had. I've never made it, but elastic waists are sounding pretty good right now, since they'll be a little more adjustable as I lose some of these pounds I've put on. Also, I could use some bottomwear, since I have basically zero shorts that will fit me this summer, other than a couple of elastic-waisted pairs I picked up at the thrift store recently that I'm just hoping will fit--not like I could try them on to see. I'm also not sure how many of my skirts I'll be able to squeeze into, or how quickly. That's what I get for generally preferring the fitted waist aesthetic, right? I probably won't do quite this many, but here's a couple of things I found in the stash that might work. (If I combine the black linen-looking stuff and the camel linen, at least-- I don't really have enough of either to make anything, since they're both leftover pieces, but have been thinking for awhile that they might pair nicely.)

IMG_25123. Seamwork Adelaide dress. I was really excited to see this one in the current issue, because it looks like it'll be a really forgiving make as far as sizing goes, though still a little more flattering because of the belt. And, again, it's a really nursing-friendly option. I do have a pattern subscription at the moment, so the pattern is safely downloaded and awaiting printing. I'm thinking maybe this twill for it--it was given to me for free and I have quite a bit of it, so it's not a huge loss if the pattern doesn't work for me. My one debate is whether to hunt down those snaps, or to just use buttons, since I do have a lot of buttons. Particularly, I have these sparkly red ones that I got to make a Beignet skirt that never happened--I later ended up deciding that a red skirt isn't really something I'd use much, and swapped the fabric--and I think that and maybe some red topstitching could provide some much-needed interest to this otherwise rather boring fabric. Thoughts?

IMG_25074. Grainline Archer blouse. I've had this pattern, and this Japanese linen fabric that I specifically bought for it, for about a year and a half now. And since this is a looser shirt by nature, I probably won't have to size it up quite as much as I would other patterns. Which will make it more forgiving for (hopeful) weight loss, too! The pattern is printed, but I do need to assemble it.

IMG_25115. Colette Mabel skirt. Another pattern I own/have printed, but haven't tried yet. It's not like I haven't gotten plenty of practice sewing knits lately, but I do have a couple of interlock jerseys from Joann's that are a little on the thick side for tops (I know, because I've used them for a couple of tops), so this could be a good candidate for fast, easy bottomwear. This color is the only one I have that's large enough by itself, but I do have some brown as well that might work if I pair it with something else. Or just buy a little more fabric. I bet Joann's still has it.

6. A nursing top or two. I think I could make one pretty quickly from Simplicity 1469, since I've already used that one and I have some knits that would work well together for a sleeveless version. (I just might want to reduce the width of the back a little, since I won't have to make it quite so maternity.) I've been advised by a couple of helpful sewcialists that the smaller nursing openings will probably work better than I thought, so thank you for that tip! Another option is to play around with altering one of my more basic knit top patterns. I'm thinking maybe the Deer & Doe Plantain to start, since I won't have to worry about the waist sizing, given that it fit me as it was until probably month 6! Also, Heather was kind enough to pull out some of her old nursing tops awhile back and Instagram a few pictures for me so I could get some ideas, and the Plantain looked like a very good candidate for some similar hacking. (Thanks, Heather!)

IMG_2514Other possibilities already in my stash for maybe a little more down the road, when I have a better idea of sizing...Some, but not all, pictured here: a nursing-hacked Renfrew, the Granville blouse, the Yaletown blouse, the Maria Denmark Edith dress/blouse, the Espresso leggings (because I've decided I like leggings for layering under skirts, and definitely not because I've decided I like leggings as pants!), this random Simplicity shirtdress that I forgot I had, Butterick 5084 looks like it would be fairly easy to hack for nursing based on tutorials I've seen, and I could possibly adapt Butterick 5206 to be a real wrap top instead of a faux wrap top. I've been wanting to revisit that pattern for awhile anyway, and I think one of my Paris fabrics could be perfect for it!

I'm trying to look at this as more of a list of ideas, and not an actual project list. After all, I'm not sure how quickly I'll be able to sew anything, especially if I can only grab 10-15 minutes here and there. It's hard to predict, without knowing how well this baby will nap and things like that. I know I'm prone to overly ambitious lists of what I think I can get done in any given season, and I don't want to put myself in a position where I'm frustrated about how little I'm finishing when I'm already going to be sleep-deprived and trying to learn a whole new skill set to enable tiny human survival. At the same time, Future Zombie Me will probably benefit from having a more narrowed-down list of possibilities for when I do have some time here and there to work on something. It's going to be hard for me to not have a concrete list of plans, but hopefully I'll be able to adapt and go with the flow a little more for now.

Have you ever had a season where you knew sewing time was going to be a rare commodity, or you were going to have some serious measurement changes? How did you deal?