I have a backlog of unblogged projects and thought I'd try out the weebly phone app and post something.
Well one hand actually. The day after my last post I ended up having a baby 5 weeks early so everything I do right now is clumsily done with one hand. The downside of this is that it takes me forever to do anything. The upside is that I have so many more hours in the day that I am awake to do those things...
I have a backlog of unblogged projects and thought I'd try out the weebly phone app and post something.
So socks. Last Christmas I knit my Oma a pair of socks and she wore them every day. she wore them even after they basically had no heels and were just toe and ankle covers. She was so pleased that I had made them and I was beyond thrilled that she liked them as she is 95 and not doing well and I wasn't sure when she received them if she even understood that I made them. I had to make her another pair. These are made with the knitmore girls vanilla sock pattern. I wanted a simple pattern to showcase the beautiful yarn I picked up in a random town in Washington on our way to the Olympic peninsula for a bike cidery tour (a weird choice as I was quite nauseous and pregnant so couldn't bike or drink cider ). The pattern is just that. simple and easy to follow. I love how they turned out. I gave them to my Oma on Christmas Eve and feel like I should just start casting on again now so I am ready with a replacement pair for when they fall apart.
This is my second Amber and it definitely won't be my last. This style of dress is right up my alley. After wearing my first polka dot version, I decided it was time for another. I went digging in my recently acquired "maternity capsule wardrobe" stash and found this green organic bamboo jersey that I had earmarked for a maternity shirt. I thought since I ended up shortening my last version so much and since I had fabric to spare that I could squeeze an amber out of what I had.
This was mostly true. By making a sleeveless version and omitting the modesty panel I was just able to get all my pattern pieces cut out. I don't mind these concessions as it's easy to wear a camisole underneath and without sleeves it will transition easier to warmer weather.
Adaptations I made to the pattern this time around:
So what about bad thread? Well, I have this large stash of thread that came from my Grandma. It looks super beautiful in all these colours on wooden spools. However, and this is something I've read a number of times, it's old and despite it looking lovely and strong, it always seems to act up, skip stitches and tangle when I use it. I need to bite the bullet and throw it all away so I'm not tempted to use it any more. Thread does not last forever and for all I know, this thread is 50 years old. Time to just start buying thread to match each time I buy fabric and skip the headache.
So lessons learned and a wardrobe stable to boot. Are you ever tempted to use old thread?
This is the Alissa Maternity Top pattern. I've made this top before a couple times in the cropped version out of sweater knit and love those versions. This was my first and last time making the wrapped top version. It looks quite lovely when it's on. It's got interest and the wraps make it very adjustable to size and style (where and how you want to tie it). The problem is it takes about 10 minutes to put on and I have to mess with it every time I go to the bathroom, which is a lot these days. It's just way too much work for me when my hands are swollen and my body is so ungainly. I find I end up tangling myself up in the wrap ends as they reach well past the floor before wrapping. Due to this, this version is also a HUGE fabric hog.
On the positive side, the shirt is easy to construct and the directions are clear. I chose to finish the edges but I think in a jersey you don't really need to and could save some time not bothering.
I made this up in an organic bamboo jersey from Dressew and it feels amazing. I like the colour and I think the drape is nice with the ties. I made a L which is one size up from the suggested size as I found my cropped versions a bit snug. I think this was the right call but there will always be pulling on this style as that is the nature of the wrap.
Overall, I will wear this top a few times when I want to look a bit nicer going out for dinner but I wouldn't spend all day in it due to the added challenge it provides in taking bathroom breaks. I don't know if this will make the nursing top cut as I imagine trying to tie this top and then tying a wrap to carry the baby would be all sorts of ridiculous. We shall see.
I do love the cropped version of this pattern as a sweater to go with empire waist dresses though so I would still recommend it. Especially because it comes as part of the maternity survival pack which has a lot of other great options in it for maternity wear.
A failed experiment but certainly provided my partner and I with 30 minutes of entertainment when I tried to put it on for the first time. Have you had any recent failed experiments?
Capsule wardrobes seem to be a big topic of conversation on sewing blogs these days. It makes sense, it is very appealing to think you could open your closet and only pull out items that coordinated with each other. Dressing would be easy and you wouldn't stare at an item of clothing wondering what it went with. I like this concept but find I love clothes way too much to do this. I have so many clothes and I love crazy, tacky thrift store finds. I also find I dress differently for different things so I have different wardrobes for different parts of my life. Everything in my closet does not need to match and I like the creativity of mixing aspects of my wardrobe that don't.
That said, pregnancy is a very set amount of time with a very specific lifestyle (now that I'm on leave from work). I decided to tackle the last few months with the mindset of the capsule wardrobe. I looked at the fall and winter as a time where I will need a limited number of new coordinating items to get me through the end of my pregnancy and the beginning of nursing/still changing body.
So I set out with my sister on a mission to the fabric store. I had a list of maternity patterns and fabric requirements. It was the most organized I've been at the fabric store outside of Hallowe'en. We looked for fall/ winter fabrics that coordinated well and would work well with the items I wanted to sew. Here are the first few items that resulted from that trip.
The first is the Alissa maternity top from Megan Nielsen patterns. Another part of the maternity survival bundle I purchased. I must say, I really got my bang for my buck with this bundle. It makes a nice little capsule wardrobe in itself and there are lots of options for each pattern so that you get quite a few different looks. This top is a good example. The first views are of a wrapped top which is also on my "to sew" list but this is the cropped version. It makes a great sweater to pair with empire waist skirts and dresses. It gives room for the "bump" and is also breast feeding friendly.
I chose the size L, going up one size from the recommended M because I wanted a looser fit for a sweater layer. It looks like I could have gone up one more size as you can see a bit of pulling around the bust and back. This makes sense as that area continues to grow. I imagine it will be fine though and it's quite comfortable. the pattern was easy to follow and this version uses very little yardage. The only change I made was to add clear elastic to the neckline to aid recovery of that area and prevent gapage. I've noticed a lot of breast feeding friends have some seriously saggy necklines...makes sense. This top you could also just pull up from the bottom too.
The fabric is a medium weight merino wool sweater knit. I love this teal colour. I picked this up at Atex Designer Fabrics across from Dressew. I think it was about $15/m and I probably ended up using only a metre for this sweater. Pretty good for merino, I think.
This sweater, was actually unplanned as part of the capsule wardrobe. You might recognize the fabric from the sweater I made my partner recently. I had tons of yardage leftover after making his sweater. I find fabric recommendations so tricky as I don't want to end up with too little but sometimes, like in this case, I end up with double what I need. This sweater knit is the olive colour-way of the same sweater above. I don't typically lean towards olive but I think it's a nice change and goes well with other colours I've got so I made up a second identical version.
I really like the colour in the end and think I will get just as much use out of this sweater. I also feel like it was free because it was made of "scraps" even though it really wasn't. Let me have this.
As for the dress, this is yet another Megan Nielsen pattern. It's the Amber Nursing and Maternity Top. I overlooked this pattern at first as it wasn't part of the bundle and I didn't feel like I needed more top patterns. However, I believe it recently came out as a PDF AND it has a dress option. I'm all about the dress option these days. Any excuse not to wear pants, especially these days. I was also intrigued by the design of the nursing modesty panel so went for it.
I cut this out in a M for bust and waist (rib cage at this point) and graded out to a L for the hips based on my pre-pregnancy measurements as suggested. I think the fit is great but it's really long. I'm 5'10" and it is a few inches below my knees. After looking at these pictures, I've decided to go back and cut about 4-5" off the hem so it sits above the knee. There might be more length to accommodate for the belly but even so. Also, this is just a preference in length for me. I feel at this length, I'm ALL BELLY.
The other fit issue I notice is that I can see I need a "sway back" adjustment, however my back is getting more swayed every day and I think this will resolve with child birth and I truly can't be bothered for something like this. I wonder if it would even work as my body is not a standard shape at this time.
The instructions were clear and construction was easy. I added clear elastic to the hems on the modesty panel to help with recovery as well as the the neckline of the bodice pieces. I followed the construction order this time but would sew it in a different order next time so I could sew the sleeves in flat. I think it makes for a neater finish and is easier to do on a serger.
I found making pleats in this slinky fabric difficult and would recommend gathers for lighter weight or more fluid fabrics.
I decided to add knit interfacing to the waist band because I have just discovered it and thought it would provide stability to the waist band. It does...but that's awful. At this point with an expanding rib cage, it's nice to have stretch. Would not do that again.
The fabric is an organic cotton jersey with printed polka dots. It's on the lighter side but is substantial enough for this dress. I think it's a nice neutral (polka dots are neutral in my book) that will mix easily with other pieces. It's also really soft and comfortable.
I like the neckline and modesty panel. I think it's quite clever.
Overall, I'm very happy with the start of my "capsule wardrobe." I've got a few more things cut out and ready to go and having this plan is keeping me a bit more on task than usual.
How do you feel about capsule wardrobes?
I love Hallowe'en. I love candy, I love parties and I love that everyone plays dress up. It's usually a great excuse to do some serious experimental sewing. This year, however, I decided to take it easy. So there is actually very little sewing in this post, but it still feels like making a costume falls into this part of my life so here it is
My partner and I were characters from the new Mad Max movie, Fury Road. It was especially appealing because I could be one of the pregnant women in the harem by wearing a sheet. This is just a piece of muslin I ripped up. I tied a strip under my rib cage and made a bandage for a fake wound on my calf. A few smudges of brown eye shadow on my face for dirt and I was done. The toughest part of this costume was wearing those terrifying sticker nipple covers...well removing them actually. Ouch.
The real prop is my giant belly. A few people kept offering me drinks and weed (this is BC) and I pointed at my stomach. I got a lot of "oh, I just thought it was your costume."
My partner was dressed as the character, Nux, a warboy from the movie. I did do a tiny bit of sewing by making him a leather cuff which took all of 5 minutes. The real work was his make up which I really enjoyed doing. A lot goes into applying a bald cap...quite the process. He was a really good sport about the whole application process which took quite a while and started with shaving his chest and stomach. I watched a few Youtube tutorials but also had to work with what I could find. He's wearing a blend of white face paint and foundation all over his face and head, black eye shadow around his eyes, on his eye brows and on his nose. Black face paint to mark his mouth and scar. Lip liner for the red part of his scar. I also painted a piece of cotton ball to his face with some latex as one tutorial suggested, worked quite well. His body is covered in a blend of white body paint and skin tone foundation. The chest scar is drawn on with eye shadow pencil. The scar would have been better with some sort of gel scar pen but I couldn't find one and this worked well enough.
He really looked quite alarming, especially in the dark. A friend of mine warned me at one point in the evening that there was some "weird white dude dancing near me." I laughed and told her it was my partner. She didn't recognize him at all.
I could only handle about 2 hours of party before my feet were crazy swollen but I'm glad we got out. Did you get dressed up for Hallowe'en?
As I continue along in my pregnancy my desire to sew for myself really fluctuates. I went through a period where I wanted to sew but not for myself. You'd think this would instantly equal baby sewing but we have so many hand-me-downs that it just feels like a drop in the bucket.
Seamwork magazine recently came out with their menswear addition and I was quite taken by the idea of making some clothes for my partner. I thought the Paxson was definitely his style so showed him the pattern photos and asked him what he thought.
"Love that mustard colour" was his response.
"But what about the sweater itself?"
"What do you mean, it's mustard, it's awesome."
So this is obviously not a mustard sweater. I did set out and visited 2 fabric stores in the search for some appropriate mustard fabric. Admittedly they were across the street from each other, but it was a search. I settled on a nice mid-weight wool sweater knit in olive. Any colour regularly worn in the 70's is on my partner's to wear list so I figured I was safe. Plus, now he matches our couch.
Seamwork magazine has been running for a few months. It's a monthly online sewing magazine that you can read for free. They seemed to have recently changed their subscription model so that you can pay $6/month and that gives you credit to purchase any 2 patterns from their catalogue. I hadn't subscribed yet, but the flexibility of the new subscription model and the low price convinced me to give it a try. I can see a few other patterns that I'll likely use credits on when my waistline returns. It also doesn't feel so bad as I do enjoy the monthly articles.
As far as the pattern goes, it's a PDF that was relatively straight-forward to put together. The style is supposed to be unisex but the sizes run large and the chest, waist and hip measurements are all the same so this isn't a pattern that I would use for women, unless you are someone who looks amazing in men's clothing.
I cut a size M based on my partners chest measurement and made a quick muslin in some fleece. It was too snug and the neckline was very high, especially for his taste. This version is a L with the neckline lowered. I should have made the neckband a bit wider and longer than I did as it was overstretched during construction leading to an ravelled mess that looks botched and wavy on the back of the neckline. I think it will settle a bit with a wash and a block (which I didn't do here) but still.
Otherwise my partner is very happy with the fit of this sweater as is. He likes the length, but looking at the photos I wonder if the sleeves are a bit short (he is 6'2"). Perhaps this is more functional though and they don't get in the way. I will have to ask.
We are both very happy with this sweater. It was a very basic pattern but sometimes that's exactly what you want. My partner stated he would also be happy with a red one if I get back to the fabric store while they still have this fabric in stock. I also had to tell him to put it in the wash after 5 days of consecutive wear. A win for sure!
I may be in nesting mode now. Not really sure. I'm pregnant and I've been doing some things to get the apartment sorted before the baby comes but I feel like I always have a list of things to be done in the apartment and when I'm not pregnant it doesn't get a fancy name.
I had already made some pillow covers for some Ikea throw pillows for the living room couch but those got added to the daybed in the baby's room. I was looking through my fabric stash and was inspired by some fabric gifted to me by my partner's aunt in South Africa.
This is some legit African wax fabric. I have no idea if it is made in Africa as it looks like a lot of it is actually made in the Netherlands and then actually shipped and used in Africa. It's such a cool style of fabric though. All sorts of bold graphic prints on cotton that comes all stiff and shiny coated in wax. I have read a few blogs and took advice to throw it in the wash first to remove the wax coating before sewing with it. It feels a bit of a waste of how flat and smooth it is though as then you have to press all the wrinkles out after that. Anyone tried sewing it while still wax covered?
The sewing itself was unremarkable. Just folded a rectangle of fabric around a pillow and added a lapped zipper. I'm super pleased with the results though as I really like the print and colours and it's a little nod to my partner's roots.
Sew any quick, satisfying projects lately?
This is a knitting project that is long overdue. My Mom not so subtly handed me a copy of this pattern that she had admired on a co-worker months ago. I thought I had plenty of time and ordered the yarn to make it 2 months before her birthday. I even made really good progress on knitting the whole back in a week or so. Then I got super nauseas and tired and even though it is not hard to sit on the couch and knit, it felt impossible and this project stalled to a halt. So here it is, 3 months late.
My Mom plans to style it this way with a solid or printed collared shirt in the fall and with a camisole or t-shirt in the spring and summer.
This is the very creatively named "short sleeve top" from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2005. Ravelry link here. It's quite a simple design with a twisted front feature and crochet edging along the edges and sleeve hems. It is not a challenging knit at all but I found that the instructions were a bit unclear to me. I wonder if it was to save space in the magazine that caused the instructions to be quite concise. Everything was there it just often took a bit of figuring to know what was meant. For example, it would be written to follow a certain decrease pattern for the shoulders and then mention while at the same time to follow a pattern from another section of the instructions. I felt like this led to a lot of jumping around for a basic pattern. I wanted this to be simple TV knitting, as it's mostly stockinette, so I ended up writing out the instructions for myself line by line so I could pay less attention.
The only change I made to the pattern was to add sc crochet edging to the keyhole that the twist goes through to strengthen and tidy this area as I found the knitted section without it was getting pulled to leave gaps between stitches. A criticism of the pattern is that the twist feels a bit bulky (this was even before the crochet reinforcement). Once the scallop edging is added it feels too wide for the hole it is meant to pass through.
The crochet edging was a new technique for me. A bit of Youtube research and I was fine though. I'd say that the finishing (seaming and crochet) took just as long as the knitting of the body of the garment though. It does look a lot more polished with it, so I'm glad I stuck to it.
I did not use the very luxurious Empire Silk as suggested in this pattern. It was hard to find and quite pricey if I could. I ended up using Knit Picks Shine Worsted which is a cotton/tencel blend that has a nice drape and shine to it. It also makes it a little easier to wear day to day and the care is a little easier. I love the buttery soft feel of this yarn. It has a beautiful sheen to it as well. Like all cotton it is certainly heavy when wet but it's not too stiff to be unpleasant to knit with. This yarn is the colourway platinum. It looks more like a beige/grey to me, but it is a nice neutral that will pair well with my Mom's wardrobe.
I was starting to really hate this project during the finishing stages. It was more complicated than it should've been and I hate feeling so behind on a deadline but I'm very happy with the end result. Even better, my Mom seems to be happy with it, which makes it all worthwhile.
Do you ever finish gifts super late?
So while this picture is exactly the same one at the top of my last post, it's all about the shirt today.
I have often been told in the past month that I don't look pregnant. I don't know why people think this is any less offensive than saying "you look huge." The comment either implies that I am bad at being pregnant and am underweight or that they thought I always looked like I was smuggling a bowling ball around under my shirt. I think people are easily deceived by empire waist dresses. In preparing to take the bus the other day, I was feeling really tired and wanted to make sure I'd get a seat, but no one is going to give a seat to someone who is ambiguously pregnant. This shirt to the rescue. No question, this shirt makes you look pregnant. It totally worked.
This is the Cara Maternity Shirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns. It's a basic t-shirt pattern with various sleeve lengths included. I'm sure you could adapt any t-shirt pattern to maternity but this one is included in the maternity survival pack and it was nice to have this done for me already.
I chose a size medium without adjustments based on my pre-pregnancy measurements as suggested and I think the sizing worked out just fine. I found the instructions clear and helpful and the shirt very easy to construct. I added my usual t-shirt construction steps such as stabilizing the shoulder seams with clear elastic and top stitching the neckband down with a twin needle which were not included. I gathered the side seams as instructed by basting a couple rows of stitching in and gathering but I found this gave me fairly uneven gathers that were a bit finicky to sew. Next time I would use a length of elastic and stretch it while sewing the side seams for a more even gather as I liked this result in my Erin Maternity Skirt.
I used some organic bamboo jersey that I had originally purchased to make a Nettie Bodysuit. A body suit is not in my near future but I'm glad I used this fabric. It is so soft and comfortable, which is all you want when it feels like your skin is so itchy it's going to split and you're going to deliver alien style...can't imagine that month 8 feels better.
Ever played the pregnancy card on the bus?
So I imagine that there are plenty of maternity pant tutorials out there and also a number of patterns. I've seen a few where you add a band to the top of your pants and others where you can replace your pockets with elastic for a lower rise style. I was given a couple pairs of maternity pants and tried these styles and found that my belly starts protruding below the bands on these pants and so when I decided to convert some of my pants to maternity pants, I did it a little differently. I'm sure this also exists on the internet, but here's how I went about it.
I chose jeans that had a fair amount of stretch to them for comfort. I did this to some jeans I already owned that I didn't feel were worth saving as I've already worn them in quite a bit and also bought a couple pairs of stretch jeans from the thrift store.
I tried on each pair and marked the bottom of where my belly started to protrude and meant that I could not bring the fly further up with some tailor's chalk. I then drew a curved line connected this point to the top of the waist band above the side seams.
I cut along this line, carefully cutting through the zipper.
I removed the zipper left on the jeans using scissors and a seam ripper. If you try and sew through the zipper you break your needles on your machine. Ask me how I know this.
This is a different pair of jeans. You can see here that I pinned the pockets to the front leg piece to keep everything in the right spot while I was working. Also note that it's wise to cut so you don't end up having any rivets in your seam allowance. This will also break your sewing machine needle. Ask me how I know this.
To make a pattern piece for the front of the belly band, I took some tracing paper and traced half of the shape of the cut out onto it. I used the centre back seam to draw the mid line.
To add the portion that goes over the belly, I extended the mid line 5 inches. 5 inches is just personal preference for how high I wanted my band to be, you can do whatever length you find most comfortable. I extended the side of the pattern to the same height but tapered in by about half an inch at the top to keep the pants snug.
To make the pattern piece for the back of the belly band, I traced the front pattern piece excluding the front cut out.
I added marking to cut along the fold and to cut 2 of each to each pattern piece.
I cut 2 of each front and back on the fold. I used a stretch technical fabric that was quite soft. It feels like LuLu Lemon leggings fabric. You want something with a fair amount of stretch (>40%), that feels good against sensitive belly skin, has good recovery, and breathes (no one wants a sweaty stomach). The stretch should run horizontally along the waistband.
Pin (using ballpoint needles) the 2 front pieces together with right sides facing. Serge (or you could zig zag) along the top edge.
Pin the 2 back pieces together with right sides facing. Serge (or you could zig zag) along the top edge.
Pin the front and back pieces together with right sides facing and serge along the straight edges on each side making a tube.
Turn right side out. You now have a tube that looks like this in the front when folded in half at the waist seam.
Pin belly band to to the jeans along the belly cut out and along the waist at the back of the jeans. Make sure to remove the pins that you used to keep the pockets in place so you don't sew over them.
It looks weird and ungainly but the stretchy fabric makes it easier. Sew along the pinned edge using a serger or zig zag stitch. I used a serger but it was a bit bulky and messy at times, you might have better control with a zig zag.
All done! It looks super weird without a shirt but you could also use matching fabric to minimize that fact. I did about 5 pairs of jeans assembly line style and it only took a few short sessions. I realized after the fact that I now have 1 pair of black jeans and 4 pairs of jeans in various shades of red/pink/purple but we'll call it a planned wardrobe decision.
Have you ever made your own maternity pants? What worked best for you?
A blog to document my attempts to create a well-fitting wardrobe through sewing and knitting.