It’s Alive!

17 Mar

This post could have started with a list of all the reasons I haven’t been posting, but they basically boil down to “busy,” so I won’t bother. It’s not that I haven’t been sewing–I have!–but the whole process of sew/ take pictures/ upload pictures/ edit pictures/ write post… well, just setting it all out like that tires me out. Especially since I work at my computer all day, so the absolute last thing I want to do in the evenings is sit at it again.

These days, I do most of my sewing early on weekend mornings, when Abby watches her RDA of TV. (We generally manage to stick to a no-tv-during-the-week-regimen, but I’m only human. Although, if I have to watch one more minute of Barney, that might not be true for much longer.) This weekend’s success was the 3rd muslin of my Alma blouse, but I’ll have to wait until I can either convince Chris to take 60 pictures of me wearing three versions of bedsheets… or convince myself to buy a self timer remote thingy. (That, I believe, is the technical term.)

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Who needs washi tape when you have painter’s tape?

I was thrilled to hear that a dear friend is expecting a baby in June. As soon as I found out the sex (girl!) I used some leftovers from Abby’s recent and to-be-blogged Oliver + S Book Report Dress to whip up this set of Big Butt Baby Pants. (I feel like I can legitimately use “whip” in this case, because I used my Christmas-present serger for the seams. So fast, you guys!)

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Please ignore the stray thread.

These are the 6th and 7th pairs I’ve made, and I still love them. One change I tried this time: sewing the elastic to the fabric instead of using a casing. RTW leggings and pants always seems to use this technique, and I think it looks a little cleaner–although I’m sure it’s just meant to save time, and I think on the whole the slightly homemade look of a casing is worth the ability to adjust the elastic.

Well, it’s not like these will be the last BBB pants I’m going to make!

Pattern: Big Butt Baby Pants

Fabric: Two quilting cotton remnants. One was a Robert Kaufman; the other is anonymous. Both purchased from my local fabric shop, Homespun Boutique.

Notes and Mods: I sewed all the seams on my serger, but I *think* I may have basted the second pair, since I had some puckering with the first. I also sewed the elastic in rather than use a casing, although I doubt I’ll do that again. Love this pattern!

FO: Child’s Placket-Neck Pullover

18 Sep

I’ve made this before, and, just like last time, I made it wrong. (Except right.) See, the original instructions in the book (which I have) resulted in an off-center placket. I knew that errata existed somewhere on the internet and I found what I thought was it–but, in fact, it was merely the original instructions, which I blithely followed.

Just like last time, I do not care. It’s a roomy pullover, perfect for a child who haaaates having things pulled over her head, likes to walk around with sweaters and shirts half on, and for our chilly almost-autumn weather.

This is local yarn from Purl’s Yarn Emporium in Asheville, acquired  in February when I was presenting a paper on a Hannah More novel. (I like to cheat on my current project with didactic fiction.) It’s delightfully sheepy. (The yarn.) Dear Purl’s Yarn Emporium: I’m sorry Abby dumped a pot of dirt on your floor.

BIG NEWS. Two and a half years later, and Chris and I are going on a honeymoon. He has a week off in October, which happily coincides with a month when my parents will be staying only a few hours away. They’re going to stay with Abby for two nights while we do it up right at Niagara Falls. It’ll be the first time we’ve been on vacation together since 2010.

Pattern: Child’s Placket Neck Pullover

Yarn: Something local to Asheville, NC. I am the worst about saving yarn bands.

Notes and Mods: If you make this, be sure you have the errata–unless you like asymmetry, which I kind of do. But this would need to be even more asymmetrical to look intentional. Luckily, neither I nor Abby cares.

FO: A Living Room

4 Sep

Oh, hello! We moved. Five days in hotels, one insanely hectic day of closing, and then weeks of chaos, and we’re finally kind of settled in. Oh, and I also started a new full-time job and have about three weeks to finish my dissertation. It’s been awesome.

But I have been doing some sewing in the mornings before Abby’s school. She hangs out in my office/ craft room, and I sew. I used to feel a little guilty about sewing instead of playing with her, until I asked myself what Ma would do–more on that in another post, since evidently what I thought Ma would do is a little different from what she actually may have done. Anyway, obviously Ma would not have followed a toddler around catering to its every whim, right? Right.

But that’s not the point of this post, which is to show off the very large FO that is our living room floor. Backstory: when we bought this house, it smelled like dog. Really smelled. Smelled to the point that we asked the sellers to rip up the carpet, which they did, but which left us with a pee-soaked subfloor.

So we primed the floor, bought a table saw, and begged my parents to come up.

Then we laid down a LOT of wood laminate.

(Oh yeah, and we painted, too.)

And promptly scattered sh*t everywhere, like we do. But I think it came out pretty well! Abby has a nice little play space, and we’ve got (in theory) separate areas for conversation and TV-watching, not that there’s been a whole lot of that going on what with my crazy schedule and Chris in his first semester of law school. But we’re holding it together. (Barely.)

And yes, the picture are totally unedited. I’ve been putting off posting because I feel like I don’t have time to 1) take nice pictures or 2) edit them, but, eh, I’d rather keep moving forward. Forward!

FO: New Look 6871, and a party

5 Jul

Look! I made a shirt! It’s New Look 6871, a yoke + gathered bottom for wovens. This is remarkable because 1) I’ve never made a shirt for myself, and 2) I’ve been pretty firmly in the knits-for-casual and woven-for-respectable camp. Here is one picture of it:

The background would be lovely if it weren’t for the towel, yellow bowl, and bag of tortilla chips.

I am horrifically unphotogenic. The other day, it took 37 tries with my new iPhone before I had something I was willing to send to my sister–my sister, who probably changed my diapers or something. You can thank my husband for the picture. We were at a barbecue yesterday, saying goodbye to A’s future husband, and I handed him (C, not the fiance) the camera with the vague instruction to “take some pictures of the shirt.” He obliged by taking pictures primarily of my face, but you can’t really fault a non-sewist. Here are some other pictures from the day:

Yes, there were a million fitting issues with the shirt. I resolved some and then created a few others when I made the second version, which is pink-and-white colorblocked linen. If this one looks a little like a muslin, that’s because it’s a “wearable” muslin, with emphasis on the scare quotes around the wearable. But you know what? I actually like it. I like flowered fabric, and this is a nice little voile/ lawn from Fabrics and Trimmings, who, by the way, are super-nice.

We’re going to miss you, D!

Anyway, I made a shirt! It fulfills my goals of being 1) basically equivalent to what you can buy at Old Navy for 24.99, 2) slightly cheaper, and 3) better made. You should see my french seams!

FO: Puppet Show Shorts, Part III

18 Jun

These knees are pre-weekend wipeout. Now she’s sporting a big scrape that she talks about endlessly: “Hurt knee. Fall down sidewalk. Crying. No bandaid.” These are the scintillating conversations we have around here these days–from Spinoza to scraped knees, and I have to say I don’t really hold up my end of either conversation.

Anyway, cute knees, cute shorts. This is the last pair for a while; three identical pairs of shorts is probably all a girl needs. Now that she’s had a chance to wear them for a few weeks, I like them even more. RTW shorts are super cute, but they just don’t *fit* very well. They all seem to have a tight waists, short inseams, and narrow leg openings. Not good for mobility! When we go to the park, A can hardly lift her leg to do the heart-stopping climbing that she’s taken to lately. Anyway, nothing to say about this pair except that I still love the pattern and envision making three more pairs every summer until she grows out of the size range. And possible a little velveteen pair for the fall to wear with tights.

A’s birthday is in about four weeks. I’ve been ogling Pinterest and coming up with fantastical party schemes, but the reality is that I really only have two friends here, and one of them just had a second baby (yay babies!), and the other is moving in two weeks (yay for new jobs! boo for moving friends). I’m going to make a cake, though. Last year I made Smitten Kitchen’s monkey cake. This year I’m thinking owl cake: here, here, or maybe here for ideas.

My Facebook feed is full of babies and PhDs these days. Sometimes I reflect on the fact that, in the amount of time it’s taken me to finish my degree (and I’m sitting here right now, and I cannot remember for the life of me whether I’m a seventh-year or a sixth-year), A will be in elementary school. I’m not sure how to feel about that: depressed about how many years of my life this has taken? awed by the rapidity of childhood? both?

FO: Seersucker Puppet Show Shorts

31 May

More Puppet Show Shorts. These are so easy I literally made 1.5 pairs in a day that included all the regular daytime activities. In other words, I worked on them at naptime and evening, and I even did a little writing, too.

Here, A is singing “Gymbo’s going up! Gymbo’s going down!”

The seersucker is so adorable. All she needs is a bowtie (and a mint julep) and she’d be ready for the Carolina Cup. As it is, it’s already so hot that we mostly confine ourselves to splash pads and trips to Barnes & Noble.

Inadvertent chevron stripe-matching.

If you see something like “AOE;HIRA;LGKJ,” don’t worry: that’s just my head hitting the keyboard. I’m putting myself through a Dissertation Boot Camp, where I wake up at 5 every morning to get an hour and a half of writing in before things get going. In between multiple freelance projects, trying to beat a thrice-rejected article into submission, cleaning the house, cooking semi-regular meals, taking care of a toddler, and–oh yeah–prepping for an interstate move, the diss kind of loses that sense of urgency.

Those are almost little-girl legs!

There’s another pair of these shorts in the future, already cut out and waiting. I’m also working out some kinks in the Sorbetto top. Fitting: it’s a total mystery. I wish I had some nice wizened old tailor to teach me … or at least a dress form.

I managed to get the shorts to gather into the bias binding this time. Turns out (big surprise) it was user error.

FO: Oliver + S Puppet Show Shorts

24 May

I finally broke in a new Oliver + S pattern: the Puppet Show Shorts. (The Puppet Show Tunic looks a little too involved for me to handle right now. I’ll tackle it after the move/ dissertation/ giant contract writing project.)

In action and covered in sand.

This pattern is everything I expected it to be. It was easy, quick, and even fooled my friend/ A’s future mother-in-law into thinking the shorts were RTW. What more could you ask? I immediately went to Jo-Ann’s and bought fabric to make two more pairs–a gray seersucker and a striped linen.

Before I get to those, however, I have to finish my second Simplicity 2226, which so far has involved three zipper insertions and two broken needles. I don’t even know how I broke the second one, but that’s when I packed it in for the night yesterday.

I’m finally almost recovered from my plague, but my parents are both sick so I’ve only had three hours of drop-in daycare time to work for the past week. Then what am I doing sewing or blogging, you (or my editors) might ask? Well, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Notes and Mods: Evidently there’s some errata–the hem bias strip is too long, so the shorts aren’t actually gathered. I could unpick and fix it, but I’m not going to. I will, however, take an inch or two off the length next time. I also edge stitched along the center seam to give them a slightly more RTW look.

FO: Yes, Another Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress

16 May

I thought making the colorblock version would get this dress out of my system, but I think I’m just going to have to force myself to move on to a different pattern. (Like maybe Simplicity 2226? One version made already and another cut out waiting for a zipper.)

The colors of this version are adorable. It’s not my favorite of the makes–that would be the original linen one–because the fabric is just a little stiff. The blue I think is a stretch poplin, a remnant from my mom; the gray is a Kona cotton from Jo-Ann; and the pink is the Jo-Ann house cotton, whatever that line is called. Linen gives the dress a really nice swing, and that’s missing from this version. Maybe using the double band at the bottom would have helped?

In any case, it’s still super cute, even if it does wrinkle if you breathe on it. I have a lot of projects in the works right now, but A and I have both been sick for six days now, and I haven’t even wanted to pick up my knitting. Today is the first day I’ve felt even close to normal. But! I came down with this plague when I was on a two-day trip with my dad to seek and find a house. We found it, offered, accepted the counter-offer, and now, pending inspection, it looks like we’re all going to have a place to live next year!

The house needs a little love, but don’t we all?

27 Apr

Issues of labor practices aside, t-shirts don’t really seem worth making. You can buy them for $5 at Old Navy, and there are certain markers of professionalization–double stitching, etc–that are hard to replicate at home. (Which raises the question: why do we assume that replicating factory stitching is the goal of home-sewing? But I digress.)

I am SO GLAD I broke down and tried my hand at 1) knits and 2) the Flashback Tee. I’ve consistently loved every Made By Rae pattern, and this is no different. It’s super simple, just two pieces, and it just looks awesome.

I only ran into two problems putting it together: I cut the pieces out with the stretch going the wrong way and had to reboot; and I had to redo the neckline twice, because it was too big. The final result is three inches shorter than the neck measurement.

Not happy about this final set of pictures

I’m going to make a hundred of these.

Most of the rather unsuccessful “photo shoot” took place at Congaree Swamp, so here’s a little quotation from Gene Stratton-Porter’s Freckles that expresses something of how I feel when I realize that the natural world is basically a giant book that I can’t read:

The tide of Freckles’ discontent welled until he almost choked with anger and chagrin. He plodded down the trail, scowling blackly and viciously spanging the wire. At the finches’ nest he left the line and peered into the thorn tree. There was no bird brooding. He pressed closer to take a peep at the snowy, spotless little eggs he had found so beautiful, when at the slight noise up raised four tiny baby heads with wide-open mouths, uttering hunger cries. Freckles stepped back. The brown bird alighted on the edge and closed one cavity with a wiggling green worm, while not two minutes later the blue filled another with a white. That settled it. The blue and brown were mates. Once again Freckles repeated his “How I wish I knew!”

Pattern: Made By Rae, Flashback Skinny Tee

Fabric: Jo-Ann’s finest

Notes and Mods: I had to cut the neckband down twice, so the final measurement is three inches shorter than the neck measurement. The neck fabric is much stretchier than the pattern fabric–I’m not sure what either is, since I don’t really understand knits yet. But I do know that I love not having to finish the seams.

FO: Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress

17 Apr

Even better the second time. The last one I made was an 18-24 mo and it just fits her now:

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So I went up to the 2T for this one. The airplane fabric (Moda, from Purl Soho) has been sitting in my stash for a long time, since way before A appeared. I originally meant to make something boy-related, but, well, I didn’t have a boy.

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It was going to become an Oliver + S bucket hat, but after tracing and cutting the pattern, I realized the print needed a larger canvas–perfect for this dress.

Not our cacti.

Then I couldn’t figure out what fabric to use for the yoke and hem. I bought some gray and pink solid cotton that I was going to use, but it was a little too lackluster for me to get excited about.

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Pretend you can't see the gathering stitches that I forgot to remove.

Enter the bright red cotton. This was in a stack of remnants that my mom passed along, and I was afraid the whole time that the color would end up too bold. But I actually love it! She wore it yesterday to the park and already got a compliment. I took these pictures at the end of the day, hence the wrinkles and mac + cheese stains.

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Mac + cheese stains optional (I hope).

The next one is going to be the colorblock version. I’ve already got the fabric laid out, but it’s going to have to wait until I get back. I’m leaving early tomorrow morning for whirlwind West Coast trip that’s going to involve three meetings, two presentations, and one video interview. (And hopefully one visit from my sister!)

A has learned to smile on command, with questionable succes.

Oliver + S is genius. Their patterns are so well made and so carefully explained that the finished product is just guaranteed to come out beautifully. Expensive, sure, but I think absolutely worth it. I can’t make up my mind which one to buy next. I think maybe the puppet show blouse, especially because A is currently obsessed with puppet shows.

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