One year sewiversary!

One year ago I walked into Joann’s, picked out a pattern and some whale fabric and painstakingly sewed a skirt.

Backing up a little…a few days earlier, I posted on Facebook somewhat reluctantly looking for recommendations for an inexpensive sewing machine. I was reluctant because I knew my mom was going to bring up the old machine she had given me years ago. That machine scared me. It was old! It needed oil and stuff. I wanted something shiny and new that would have videos on YouTube and lots on online resources.

But I’m also impatient and cheap so I figured I’d just pull out the machine and give it one more try, and this time with the manual, before ordering something online.

Okay, this story is getting too long and I have a feeling I told it all before. So let me just cut to the chase. On February 18, 2018, I sewed my first item of clothing, and an obsession began. It didn’t turn out all that great. I didn’t know about finishing seams, so after I washed it, they all started fraying. Oops.

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Derp.

I made shirts, more skirts, pajama pants for the boys. I was pretty fearless. I discovered the world of indie sewing patterns and bought a serger off Facebook Marketplace so my seams stopped unraveling. In May, I participated in Me Made May and wore an item of clothing I sewed every day for the whole month. And I kind of never stopped. Even now I try to wear something every day that I sewed. Sometimes I forget, but it’s not a big deal. My wardrobe is probably 80% handmade by now, so it’s almost inevitable.

Back to that old sewing machine – I love it. I now realize that any sewing machine I could have afforded would have been a cheap plastic wobbly thing compared to this tank. Sure, it has its issues – I have to special order bobbins, and it doesn’t do fancy things like automatic buttonholes and it gets cranky when the bobbin thread runs low, but I’ve learned to deal with its quirks.

So what are my favorite things I’ve sewn so far?

 

But those are just the things I’ve made for myself. I’ve also enjoyed sewing for other people.

And I’ve had fun sewing bags and scarves and scrunchies and pillowcases too. Why not?

So what’s next? I have bins and bins of fabric and probably a dozen patterns that are waiting to be used. I’m most excited about the Cashmerette Ellis denim miniskirt – I even have rivets! And a bathing suit pattern that I’ve been sitting on, but definitely want to make it for this summer. And a pretty border pattern fabric that’s probably destined for a skirt, but I kind of want to make something more unexpected with it, but I’m just not sure yet. And that pink art deco sequin fabric that I bought almost a year ago but I’m terrified to mess up, oh and there’s the silk brocade that I bought in Singapore…and on and on.

So yeah, I think I have plenty to keep me busy for another year of sewing at least!

All in all, I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come in a year. I’m not scared of knits or zippers. I have come to embrace my shape instead of being ashamed of it. Instead of dreading trying to find a dress or a skirt, I can just make one! It’s incredibly freeing. I was in Real Simple! I helped bring attention to an amazing online community! It’s been so great, and I can’t wait to see how much I can do in the upcoming year. (Let’s see if I can tackle that bathing suit…)

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Mid-sabbatical update

(Is is the middle of my sabbatical? The exact middle? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. If it’s more than halfway done, I’ll be sad. Okay, I don’t think it is. But it’s close. That’s okay! As long as it’s not actually halfway over. It’s not. Whew.)

I want to open with this really exciting work thing – I know, I’m not even working! But I haven’t been able to talk about it until this month. Ages ago, I mentioned to our marketing team that sewists use WordPress.com for blogging about sewing a lot. And they paid attention, particularly my friend Michelle, who is on the editorial team and is one of the most amazing and funny and coolest people I know. We chatted a bunch about it at a lunch at the GM, and then she brought it up at one of their meetings. And things led to things and I told her about The Sewcialists website, and then they created this really amazing list called the Anything is Possible list, and look, I don’t want to take too much credit, but I mean, I want to take a little credit, but who ended up on the list but The Sewcialists! And check out this video, which gets me choked up every.single.time!

 

On the other hand, yesterday was a horrible, terrible, not good, very bad day. The van has been not wanting to start sometimes for a while, but it always would start after a little while with some prodding. (I feel bad now that I never named it.) Yesterday, it just wouldn’t. After some coaxing and sweet talking and banging on some parts, and trying to jumpstart it, I finally gave in and had it towed to the mechanic. Fingers crossed it’s not too expensive. I’d just like one more year out of it. At least. George’s car only has one more payment, and it sure would be nice to have no payments for a while, eh?

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When I came home from bringing the boys to the bus stop (where it died, which was not convenient) I found that Ziggy had snuck into my bedroom and was curled up on my bed, which was cute. But the puddle of pee on my bedskirt, where he has peed a few times now, was most decidedly NOT CUTE. Taking the bedskirt off a king bed to wash is not fun, but I’m looking forward to putting it back on even less. Argh.

One positive part of the day was taking the ferry across the river to the aquarium to see Linus giving a presentation with a group of his classmates on the Gulf of Mexico. Thank goodness we got in for free again. The aquarium costs THIRTY DOLLARS if you don’t have a membership. Ridiculous.

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Anyway, while I was at the aquarium, the school nurse called. Of course. Because Miles’s asthma was flaring up. Of course. Fortunately, she was able to get it under control. But I stressed hard about that for the next several hours.

But that’s enough about yesterday. Today I’m stuck at home so I’m going to tackle the reorganization of the upstairs bathroom. Time to throw out the makeup from my wedding, finally. Ha ha! I kid! Um yeah! For sure, totally kidding!

What else has happened? Well, the Saints game. I’m not even going to talk about that. I made some scarves with pockets and sold them to neighborhood moms and, well, I guess I won’t be selling any more until next fall. But they are super cute. I’m going to try some Mardi Gras prints next. The pockets are super handy!

Also.

Linus had a disgusting bump on his arm and we had to get it…dealt with. (Any other words I could use in conjunction with that are too gross.)

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Soccer started back up for the spring.

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gotta tackle the dining room next. eek

We went to visit Granny and Grandpa, and the boys are very very very close to being as tall as them.img_1803

My kitchen is still clean from Kiki’s visit! And yes, I have cooked!!! (and yes, that is clean!)

I ordered new glasses.

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Okay, no more procrastinating via blog post. Gotta go tackle the bathroom!

2018 in review

It’s time to look back at 2018 before too much of 2019 has gone past and I forget all about it.

It was a busy year! And I definitely didn’t blog enough, especially at the end of the year, where I had to rely too much on Instagram posts for my recaps. I’ll try to fix that for 2019. But my mantra for this year is “stop trying to do everything” which I’m afraid might turn into “turn into a lazy blob” so 2020’s mantra might need to revolve around moderation. We’ll see. Anyhoo, onto the year’s recap:

January

I turned 43. Had a nice day.

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It (sorta, not really, but close enough for the boys) snowed!

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But the best part of January was going with Steph to see My Favorite Murder live. What a fantastic night that was. Eeeek!!! The best part, of course:

 

Meeting and hugging the hosts of the show, Karen and Georgia, and getting a picture. Eeek! So fun.

And then, at the end of January, Linus said something to me that would change the course of the entire year. He said, “Mama, I think I want to play soccer again.”  Continue reading

Sabbatical so far (days 1-19)

You know what’s funny? I was going to try to blog every day of my sabbatical.

Ha hahahahha ha ha ha!

Well. You know, when you don’t have to sit in front of your computer every day, you’re really not inclined to sit in front of your computer if you don’t have to.

So, I’ll just update you on what I’ve been up to in my days of leisure since my last real blog post. One pic per day. (ish)

Day 1: Worked out, sewed a ton, joked about eating bon bons on couch, but definitely did eat bon bons on couch.

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Day 2: Sewed a ton. Made a Christmas tree skirt! (I know, I already blogged about that.)

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Day 3: Finished 20 toast-themed scrunchies for a friend who owns a local chain of restaurants called, you guessed it, Toast. (yum)

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Day 4: Stephanie and I wore the Mexican tablecloth skirts I made while we sang a duet of The Christmas Song. Just be glad this isn’t a video.

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Day 5: I went Christmas shopping and got the boys this ornament. Summed up their 2018 nicely.

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Day 6: Finally! Kiki’s annual box of cookies arrived! And the jersey Linus ordered that was almost exactly like the one I had ordered for him for Christmas! (Just a different player on the back, which fortunately makes it EXTREMELY different in his eyes.) This got long so click to read more

Sabbatical life

It’s day 2 of my sabbatical. TIME IS FLYING. Just kidding. It’s 10:30 in the morning and I’ve been up for hours and have already gone to Home Depot for some random things, made a tree skirt, trimmed the Christmas tree (I mean literally, the branches at the bottom were too low to allow gifts to fit), trimmed the Christmas tree (I mean, I put a few ornaments on, but outsourcing the rest to the boys), and made a to-do list for stuff I need to sew.

I think it’s time for a Christmas movie on Netflix and hot chocolate.

 

Real Simple, real nerdy

A few months ago, I was flipping through Real Simple and in the “Your Words” section, they asked readers to write about their greatest accomplishment of 2018. I’ve never been inspired to write in before, but I emailed off a little snippet about my greatest obsession accomplishment of 2018.

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I got an email a few weeks later saying they might use what I wrote in the December issue, and THERE IT IS!!! So exciting. And yet so nerdy.

We were on our cruise when the issue came in the mail, so I had to beg my friend Jenn to dig through our mail and take a picture of it for me. I knew it was in there because someone tweeted to let me know.

So yeah. Kind of neat.

Sewing fail (but who cares?)

Back in June, when I went to Portland, I bought this beautiful knit fabric from Bolt Fabric Boutique. I got a yard – just enough to make a t-shirt out of because it was pretty pricey – somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 a yard! According to the Sinclair Cachet knit tee pattern, that’s all I needed.

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So, fast forward a couple of weeks, and I washed and dried the fabric and got brave enough to make my t-shirt. I was super nervous about cutting this beautiful stuff. What if I messed up? But I’d made a shirt out of this pattern already, and I liked the fit, so I was pretty confident it would work out. I laid out the back piece of the pattern on the fabric and cut it out. Then laid out the front piece and…HOLY CRAP IT DOESN’T FIT.

So I sadly piled it on my dresser and tried to figure out what to do. It sat there for months. Since the pattern had a color-blocking option, I thought about finding a coordinating solid and using that for part of it, but that made me sad. I even went as far as buying a pale pink remnant but I could never bring myself to use it. I just didn’t want to have to break up this lovely fabric.

Finally, one day, I decided I was just going to make the shirt. I was going to piece it together and use all the fabric and it would be fine. Okay, there would be some seams across it, but it would be okay. Better than wasting the fabric altogether!

So I laid the remaining pattern pieces out, and yeah, I had to make a few cuts, but I squeezed them all onto the fabric and it was fine. It was gonna be fine.

Took them up to my sewing machine to put them together and…wait, why was the top front piece not lining up with the rest of the pieces? This is very strange. I cut it on the fold as directed. I mean, sure, I’d had to put the pattern piece upside down to make it fit but…oh no…I cut it on THE WRONG FOLD.

Cue banging of head onto desk. This pattern has short dolman sleeves, so the neckline curve looks suspiciously like the curve under the arm.

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Soooooo another place I had to piece it together. Right down the middle. And then right under my bust. And then a band at the bottom. Lovely.

I call it…Frankenshirt!

Fortunately:

  • the floral pattern hides it reasonably well.
  • I don’t care.
  • my beloved York pinafores hide the seams and coordinate perfectly with the print.

Behold:

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Check out all doze seams! Oh, and the cute lil’ pocket!

(Photo credit: Ellie)

I’m also going to sneak in a picture of the Blank Slate Blanc tee I made out of Harry Potter knit fabric because it’s so beyond dorky I can barely stand myself. Well, the picture even more than the shirt. I went and dug out the wand Oliver got at Universal a couple of summers ago as a prop, for goodness’ sake.

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This shirt also sat on my “unfinished” pile for ages and ages for no good reason, and I still haven’t hemmed the sleeves and I probably never will. I wonder if there’s a spell for that?

Soccer and sewing (again)

Two things taking over my life right now – soccer and sewing.

Let’s start with soccer. I took a lot of pictures at Saturday’s game, but don’t worry, I won’t do this at every game. But it was their first, after all, and they even won! (Can’t say the same about the game on Sunday, though.)

Some of my favorite pics from the game:

Miles usually was playing closest to where I was sitting, so I got more pictures of him, but for the next game I’m borrowing a 300mm lens from a friend (this one only zooms to 105mm) so hopefully I’ll get better pics of all three. (Linus is 90, Miles is 91, and Oliver is 92.) I mean, if someone wants to buy me this, I won’t say no…

In sewing news, you know that Upton dress I made the other day? Well, I wasn’t super thrilled with the fit, so I made some adjustments and was able to squeeze the dress out of less than 3 yards of fabric I had lying around. And this time, it’s much better!

Observe:

The fit on the right is more like how it should be. I also raised the waistband an inch (well, I lowered it 3″ the first time I made it, but only 2″ the second time) and went down a size in the bodice, but up a cup size (Cashmerette patterns have different bust sizes, which is awesome.)

 

Also, I got a zipper foot for my sewing machine, so I was able to get my invisible zipper slightly less visible:

Couple more pics. Note to self: the waistband pieces should be cut upside down if they’re directional, because I have a little bird peeping down from the waist. Hee!

Next time, I think I might try the box pleated skirt version. Or add sleeves. Who knows?!!?

 

Sewing project: Cashmerette Upton

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 11.17.19 AM.pngI’ve been eyeing this pattern for a while, but I held off for a few reasons. First, it looked too complicated, even though the skill level was supposedly “advanced beginner” (which is what I think I am.) Second, well, I guess I just didn’t think as someone who works from home and rarely dresses up, would need it. But mostly it was because it looked hard.

Well, it really wasn’t. I mean, it had a lot of steps, sure, but they were pretty straightforward, and the instructions were thorough as usual. I had bought the paper pattern because printing out PDFs isn’t my favorite (well, really it’s the taping that I hate) but since I didn’t want to cut into the tissue in case I had fit issues, I traced the pattern onto pattern paper, which took forever. Anyway.

And as far as not needing dresses, I do have an event coming up for the mom’s blog where we’re supposed to wear jewel tones (for photos) and I had this lovely fabric, so I figured this would be the perfect time to make it.

The dress has a few options – a v-neck or scoop neckline, and a box pleated or gored skirt. I decided to go with v-neck and gored, like the photo (of the designer) on the website (above).

Before I even got started, I made the decision to lengthen the bodice, so I added 3″ to it, but once I had the darts sewn into the lining, I realized they were way too high, so I moved the bust darts down for the outer fabric. (Yeah, I said lining. Another reason it was intimidating.)IMG_6695.JPG

By the time I was done, I only had to unpick stitches like five times so I think I’m improving there. 😀 And the hem is totally wonky. At that point I just wanted to be done, so I didn’t take as much care with it as I should have. On the bright side, look how well I matched up the waistband at the zipper!

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Cute sleeve!

In the end, I think it’s a bit too big in the bust so I’m going to try a different size next time, but it’s certainly wearable like this. I’m also going to reduce the amount I lengthen the bodice to 2″ instead of 3″. And heck, I might get the sleeve expansion pack next to add the cute little tie sleeves. We’ll see. I’m not really the “cute sleeve” type of person but maybe I can be, just this once.

I also was thinking of trying horsehair braid along the hemline next time to make it stand out a bit. When I first tried on the dress, I felt very…rectangular. Like, it’s not accentuating my waist enough. So between making the bodice a bit more fitted, and making the skirt flare out a tiny bit with the horsehair, I think I’ll like it even more. I just need to figure out if I can put in horsehair without lining the skirt. Hmm.

Anyway, I wore it to dinner with some friends last night, and got some pics in the French Quarter. Much better backdrop than my living room!

 

 

Version two, coming soon!

Summer of sewing and soccer

Don’t you just love an alliterative title?

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Fancy soccer training jacket

I haven’t blogged much this summer. Mostly because we just haven’t done that much. I feel bad for the boys – they keep asking if we’re going to go somewhere. And then I keep reminding them that they’re playing soccer, remember? And soccer is very expensive. (Guilt trip much? I learned from the best!)

But don’t feel too bad for them. We are going on another big ol’ family cruise at Thanksgiving, and thanks to soccer, we’ll have a few small trips to soccer tournaments throughout the year. In fact, the first one is already on the calendar.

Unfortunately for me, it’s also the weekend I’m supposed to come back from this year’s Grand Meetup for work, so I had to get permission from work to leave a day early. Get this: the GM is in Orlando this year. So I’ll fly home Friday afternoon, load everyone in the van and drive BACK to Florida that very same evening for the tournament. Ha! At least the tournament isn’t also in Orlando – it’s in Pensacola which is just a few hours away.

So what have we been up to this summer? The boys went to camp for about six weeks. They didn’t love having to go to camp, but it got them out of the house at least. And they went to a few days here and there of soccer camp as well, which they enjoyed. Of course, nothing was close to home so I feel like I spent the entire summer in my van, and not in a fun road-trip kind of way.

They also participated in summer soccer, which was two evenings a week for seven weeks. I think it was good for them – it was their first experience playing “elite” soccer, not just recreational. At first, they were kind of disheartened, but as the weeks went on, they enjoyed it more. It was mostly drills and scrimmages, so they learned a lot. Of course, thanks to our summer afternoon thunderstorms, there weren’t seven weeks worth of soccer, but whatever.

Another highlight was Aunt Jenny and Emily and Andrew and Uncle Rob coming to Baton Rouge to visit. We spent a few days at Grandee’s hanging out, visiting with my cousin Sara’s baby, and as a bonus, the boys got a haircut, which was sorely needed.

There were also playdates and me breaking a tooth and having to get it pulled (so now I have two gaps in my mouth which makes me extra classy) and hanging out with coworkers in town with their family, and saving the world, and going to visit a giant mural of a French soccer star.

I’ve been sewing a lot when I haven’t been working. I took a class at a local sewing store (blog post to come) which was amazing, but have been mostly working on sewing up household goods to sell to help pay for soccer. It’s a win-win – sewing relaxes me and hopefully, it’ll ease the stress of the endless costs of competitive soccer. (If you’re interested, you can check those out here and here.)

Movies, murals, sewing

I have a few little things I want to blog about, so I guess I should do that before too much time passes!

Last Friday, George and I went to go see the documentary Three Identical Strangers that was briefly playing at a local movie theater here. I had been hearing about it for a while, ever since it was making the rounds of film festivals earlier this year, thanks to the Google notifications I get for “identical triplets.”

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In a nutshell, the movie is about a set of identical triplets that were separated at birth and reunited, just by sheer happenstance, 19 years later. It’s heart-wrenching and emotional and funny and sad and tears rolled down my face for the first thirty minutes and then I pulled myself together. It was just so good and so thought-provoking and if you can see it, you should. If only I could have worn a shirt that said “Mom of Identical Triplets” so I could have gotten free popcorn or something. Or a free daiquiri. The movie theater had daiquiris. I could have used one.

Later that day, I went to the first day of a sewing class at a local store, which was so amazing and exhausting. The goal was to make a box-pleated skirt. By the end of the weekend I had spent 11 hours in the store, and I still didn’t have a finished skirt. I still don’t. Still have some work to do on it. Heh. But it’s going to be amazing. And I learned so much! I will have an in-depth blog post about it later, once the skirt is all finished, but I have about 20 feet of hem to hand-sew so it might be a little bit.

Sneak peek:

And then the other day, my friend Jenn told me about a mural that a local artist painted last month on the side of a building of a French soccer star. Well, obviously I had to take the boys, so we went yesterday on the way to soccer. It was pretty cool! Oliver was less than thrilled, as this guy, Paul Pogba plays for Manchester United (when he’s not playing for the French national team) and Oliver is a Manchester City fan. Kids.

 

Sewing project: Helen’s Closet York Pinafore

I went back and forth for a long, long time about this pattern* by Helen’s Closet (one of the hosts of the excellent Love to Sew podcast.) It was cute! But it wouldn’t suit my particular shape. But it was so cute! But not for me. I mean, it’s fine – not everything flatters everyone. But I kept going back to it. And there were two different views, one shorter with a higher scoop, and I thought that would work on me. I wasn’t sure about the “cocoon” shape of the skirt, but that could be modified easily enough. I also wasn’t sure if the width of the top would work with the width of me. Would it accentuate my width in a good way or a bad way?

Finally, I just went ahead and bought it (the day before it went on sale for 15% off, naturally – so if you like it go buy it now!) and got two yards of linen at Joann since they were having a sale.

Short version: I love it!

OH HI AREN’T I CUTE?

Long story: I cut out the XXL size, lengthened the upper bit 3/4″ to accommodate my bosoms (according to the excellent pattern instructions), and added 2″ to the bottom bit (not the hem but the lengthen line) to accommodate my height. (I mean, I wanted the short length but not THAT short.)

I went with the kangaroo pocket because it’s cute, and bought gold topstitching thread. I used it around the pocket curves and started to use it everywhere there was topstitching but then I realized it was starting to look more like a butcher’s apron or something industrial and that wasn’t exactly the look I was going for. But I like the little accent it gives. I also used navy bias tape so it blends in pretty well. It’s all on the inside anyway, but next time I plan to use something contrasting because it would peek out from the armholes especially. (Yes, there will most definitely be a next time.

After it was fully made, I ended up straightening the curve in the hips quite a bit – I’m not sure if it was the “cocoon” curve that didn’t suit me, or if the size was too big in the hips, but I think I like the straighter skirt anyway, so I think I may just modify the pattern itself. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m super excited about this. I love that I can wear fitted tops with it and not feel self-conscious about them. I love the pocket! And the length! I can’t wait to make some for winter to wear with tights and boots! This is going to be my new uniform! I’m just going to make a dozen of them and just wear them every day!

MOM WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP THERE????

* naturally it went on sale the day after I bought it. So buy it right now while it is on sale! Sale ends July 22nd at midnight PST.