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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:


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.


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.


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.


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.

FO: Oliver + S Bias-Trimmed Apron

5 Apr

Oliver + S are true to their word: these are little things to sew,with small amounts of fabric and manageable construction. I want to make everything, but I started with the bias-trimmed apron–not because A needs an apron, but because I had these two fabrics lying around and I’m desperately trying to destash.


Look, someone else's backyard for a change!

The polka dots are leftovers from a fairly successful pillow project, which I’ll post eventually. Now, four and a half yards of bias tape is a lot of bias tape, but, with my trusty bias tape maker in hand, not so bad. Here are a bunch of versions, super cute!


That red car in the background is hot property.

I could *not* get the wrinkles out of the canvas. I also am not very good at applying bias tape, unfortunately. It’s always a lot harder than I expect it to be. Other than the bias tape, this was a very easy project. When I held it out for A to try it on, she screamed, “No! No!,” and I had to bribe her. Luckily, she’s easy to bribe: I said, “Put it on and we’ll go outside,” and then she didn’t want to take it off.


My mom informed me that A needed a haircut. That makes two of us.

And in exciting circle-of-life news, I think we found A’s nursery school: Namaste Montessori. It reminds me so much of my childhood Montessori School that I got a little teary when the director was describing the toddler class.


OMG, look at her adorable little scrunchy face.

And just a short quotation today, from the perennial Happy Golden Years:

“I’m so glad Ma told me to bring this big apron … I like a real big apron that covers your whole dress, don’t you?”

Christmas Bunting

13 Dec

I love to say the word ‘bunting’ because I only learned it as a synonym for what I would call ‘banner’ when I started reading craft blogs a few years ago. Yay buntings! They’re festive, and I made one.

The circles are a little jagged, but if you stand far enough away they don’t look it. Using scissors adeptly is actually much more difficult that it seems.

Also, I finished a sweater but I have no one to take pictures 😦 It gets dark before C comes home from work these days, and fat chance of us getting it together in the morning.

FO: Simplicity 2451

7 Sep

This is my very first adult garment, and my very first successful zipper (invisible, no less!) installation. I have a lot to say about it!

First, I’m really glad I’ve made so many baby clothes using tutorials. Since tutorials make you do a lot of the work yourself, they end up teaching garment construction really well. This skirt felt very straightforward and came together with no major mistakes (although making the muslin sure helped with that).

side view; check out those pocket!

Second, I used this tutorial to insert the zipper, although this one at Colette also looks good. I’m pretty happy with it. There’s a slight bulge at the bottom left, but it’s not very noticeable and, anyway, I’m really going after process rather than perfection right now. I’m sure the second will be better.

I stole the superhero pose.

Third, the facing. Yikes. I tried machine sewing and it looked terrible; then I tried handsewing and it also looked terrible plus was too difficult, and so I finally decided on a half-handsewing half-machine sewing solution: I used the handwheel to sew the entire thing to make sure that I was stitching right in the ditch.

Fourth, the hem. Well, there’s not much to say, really: handsewed it, and thank goodness for This American Life.

Final result? Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to get much wear–the combination of the print and the shape is maybe a teensy matronly, and I don’t really have anything to wear with it. But the major point was for me to get over my fear of adult garment sewing, so a success on that front!

Next time  with this pattern I’ll use a fabric with more drape and also cut a size smaller. I took this one in half an inch and it’s still a little big. Also, about the facing business: I inspected my similarly shaped Merona skirt to see what it did about the facing business (I mean the business of having to sew it down in a non-noticeable fashion) and realized that the lining took care of it. Merona is my go-to for assessing home-sewn garments: I figure I should be able to sew something at least as adeptly as Target, and in theory I can add the details that distinguish nice clothes that I can’t afford anymore, like contrasting facings and pockets, not to mention decent sewing. I bought a shirt from Target recently and was outraged at how poorly it was sewn.

Anyway, I might try inserting a lining in the next one, especially since I’m planning on wool. It’s got to cool off here sometime, right?