It’s been too long

What’s up? Why haven’t I been blogging? Is it that life is boring? Maybe a little. I mean, not that that’s a bad thing. Or maybe it’s been busy? Or maybe I just don’t want to sit in front of my computer when I’m not working? Maybe all of those things all at once?

(I started this post two days ago. What is wrong with me?)

Okay, here’s some random stuff we’ve been doing:

I chaperoned a field trip to the swamp and we saw lots of gators! Yay! Finally!

I finally sent Kiki the skirt we bought the fabric for in January. Egads. Look at the frogs and the flies!

The boys and I did a 5K! Oliver and Linus ran the whole thing (!) and finished in about 34 minutes. Miles and I walked with Jen and Ethan and took about twice that. It was fun. Oh, and it was the Pink Bra Run to raise money for breast cancer research, hence the…bra on the outside of my clothes.

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The boys had an end-of-season soccer party. It was kind of sad, but also cemented all of the reasons in my head we decided not to do competitive soccer again next year. I mean, we may go back one day, but probably not to the same club. Anyway, the coach had shirts made for all the boys, which was so sweet.

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George and Rob celebrated their birthday and I made them a cake. (Chocolate stout.) Aren’t they cute?

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For Mother’s Day, I got cards from the boys (and breakfast from Chef Ollie!). Later I had poke for lunch (yum) and went to see a movie with Steph and Terry (our Mother’s Day tradition.) It was pretty nice.

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Look at this beauty! My aunt passed on to me my grandmother’s old sewing machine! Isn’t she beautiful? I’m still working on getting it sewing, but I am stuck on bobbins. I’ll figure it out. I also need a table to put it in. I found the one its sitting on, but it was made for a different machine, so I need the table to be modified so this machine will fit in it. Anyway. Soon, I hope to be sewing with it! It’s pretty incredible. It’s from 1950.

As far as Me Made May goes, it’s been a success in some ways, and a fail in others. A success in that I have worn something I’ve sewn every day. A fail because I haven’t taken pictures every day. But just picture this cardigan, which I absolutely adore, worn over everything, all the time, every day. It’s the Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan in this lemon knit I got at Joann’s. I’m obsessed. (Need to get a better pic, though.)

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Me Made May 2019 – week 1!

Just like last year, I’m participating in Me Made May, which is a very flexible sewing challenge because you can make up your own parameters. Mine are that I wear at least one item of clothing every day that I made, and that I post it on Instagram. That’s it. I don’t have to make anything new, and it doesn’t have to be something different every day.

So here’s what I wore for the first seven days of May…

After the first day, I tried using a prop to have something to do with my hands in the hopes of taking photos of myself somewhat less awkward. It helped a little bit, but on day 3 I decided I would make the boys take them instead (or at least someone else.) So you’ll see a lot of pictures in the boys’ messy room since I might not remember until bedtime. And a prop can also be a human. 😀

I’m excited about week 2 – I made something new that you can get a sneak peek of if you follow me on Instagram. 🍋

Sewing clothes for myself again!

I feel like it’s been forever since I made something for myself (not counting the pink satin shorts I made for Mardi Gras, even though they are now in use as the most comfy pajama shorts ever) but I finally finished my first Ellis Skirt by Cashmerette.

The day the pattern came out, I ordered a kit complete with this beautiful dark blue stretch denim and the rivets and topstitching thread and all that good stuff. But there was no way I was going to cut right into it without practicing on a less precious fabric first. So I found some inexpensive gray stretch denim at Joann’s, and set to work.

Well. I mean, it’s an intermediate-level pattern, so it wasn’t easy. But it was fun. I set up two sewing machines (thank goodness I got another one!) as suggested – one with regular thread, and one with topstitching thread. That way, you’re not constantly changing out the thread.

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The pattern comes with two size variations, one for apple shapes, and one for pear shapes. I always assumed I was a pear, but after scrutinizing the measurements, I decided to go with the apple. (In all honestly, I’m more like a slice of bread. Kind of square.) And you can choose between two styles – one is a traditional jeans look with rivets and a jeans button and all that, but is knee-length with a slit up the front. The other has different details on top – it uses a slide fastener, and there’s some topstitching on the pocket area, but it’s short.

I wanted the jeans-style of the first style with the length of the second, so that’s what I made.

I could wait to blog about this after I finish the second skirt, but I learned a lot while making this, and I want to write it all down so I remember.

  1. The zipper. Oops. This is a big one. I somehow misread the instructions and it’s somehow shifted to the side a bit. It’s actually fine, it works, and when the skirt is all closed up, you can’t really tell. I don’t think. Maybe it looks off-center, but it’s not immediately obvious. I’ve since watched tutorials on installing the zipper, so I’m fairly confident I’ll get it right next time.
  2. Topstitching. There are a few things here I need to think about for the next time. First, I need to really figure out what the tension settings should be for each area of the skirt. In some parts, especially around the waistband, you’re sewing down several layers of denim and lining, and the stitches don’t look quite right. But it would probably need to be adjusted for other areas where you’re only sewing through one or two layers (pockets, hem, etc.) And for this skirt, I didn’t think too much about the pattern I stitched onto the pockets, but this is an area where you can really have fun! So I want to think harder about what I put on the pockets. Maybe a different thread color? Some kind of pattern? We’ll see.
  3. The dang button. I bought a pack of five or six jeans buttons from Joann’s and I destroyed three of them trying to hammer them in. What’s up with that? Why can’t they just screw in? Hmmph. I ended up having to repair the hole and just sew on a regular button. I hope rivets aren’t as difficult.

I guess those are the big things – doing a neater job with topstitching will go a long way towards making the next skirt a bit more polished. But if anyone has any tips for the button, please let me know.

Now for the awkward pics! I swear I wasn’t trying to make any particular face in any of these.

Detail shots:

PS This is random, but just a demonstration of what a small world this is…the model wearing the longer skirt is Meg, who is a prolific and awesome sewist I have been following ever since I started sewing. The crazy thing is, she is also good friends with George’s cousin! We were even at the same wedding a couple of years ago (before I started sewing, sadly.) Isn’t that random? So awesome.

Wrapping up my sabbatical

The last time I wrote about what I was up to was in late January, at the mid-point of my sabbatical. Oops. Today is actually a bonus day off – I have thought for the entire three months that I was going back to work today, but I’m actually going back tomorrow. My last day off is today. Score! I sure was smart way back when I requested my time off. I was pretty bummed when I realized I was going to be going back to work right after Mardi Gras break, with no down time from the boys being home from school for a week and a half. So it’s nice to have some quiet time today to straighten up the house and get some things done and just to chill.

SO. What have we been up to?

A lot, actually.

Let’s see if I can remember it all.

First, I want to say that I really thought my sabbatical would fly by. I guess to everyone else it has, but to me, it really hasn’t. It felt like three months. It felt like a nice long stretch of time. Mid-December feels like a long time ago. I think maybe it’s because I didn’t try to fill it with too much stuff. I really did relax and laze around a bunch. 😀 Continue reading

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…)

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!

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!