Respite

When I started dipping my toes into sewing I told myself I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes I did when I got really super into knitting, specifically the undiscerning accumulation of anything and everything relating to my new hobby and even more specifically the enthusiastic and often misguided procurement of materials. Yarn, people, I’m talking about yarn. Yarn bought for projects I never made, yarn bought that was unsuitable for its intended purpose, yarn bought because it was pretty or to get free shipping or because it was on sale. I bought so much of it and am still dealing with the repercussions of that years-long binge years later.

My fabric stash creep has me stressing out. Fabric stash has some advantages over yarn stash, though. Project-for-project it takes up less space and it can be used up more quickly. And if I buy some fabric, for example, with some vague idea of finding a coordinating fabric and making a child’s dress which I never do, I have a much easier time finding another use for that fabric. I can, for example, easily find a pattern for an adorable top to use up that fabric whereas a skein-or-more of yarn is so encumbered by its yardage, fiber content, and weight that I’m wracked with indecision.

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The pockets on this are THE BEST POCKETS.
Pattern: Wiksten Baby + Child Smock Top
Size: 3T
Fabric: Kawaii Japanese Fabric in hedgehog
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I want one me-sized

Let’s not talk about the resulting increase in my pattern inventory this example produces.

Y un forno che non va

The first time I studied abroad was to Rome where I stayed with a host family. I was self-conscious and shy and spent a lot of time that my host family thought I should be going out and dancing staying in and reading. I learned that no matter where you go in the world you go you take yourself with you and that my host family preferred Texans.

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Little Italy by Satsuma Street

I also got lost every day, discovered Belgium beer, skinny-dipped in the Adriatic, told everyone who would listen that I was going to marry my boyfriend of 9 months (I did), formed fast, intense friendships that flamed out as quickly as they began, met one friend who would be a soulmate, and declared to my parents on the drive home from the airport that they didn’t have to worry about me going back there for an academic year. Which I did.

Cross-stitch is slow. Contemplative. Events created a break in my life and my sense of self and I am surprised by how therapeutic it felt to make this and think about that long past time in my life, like maybe I might find a way to reconcile and synthesize the me before with the me after. Cross-stitch was my first and only craft obsession for a long time. I took my cross-stitch with me me to Italy. It was what I turned to to fill my evenings when I couldn’t knit or do much else. It’s surprising how much slowly pushing a needle through aida fabric can dredge up.

Cursed

This is what I had saved as a draft in a post titled “Full Circle” in which I had intended to triumphantly reveal my finished Leaves of Grass.

This story finishes where it began, at Knitorious in St. Louis, where I procured this project’s first 5 skeins (yes, that was the listed yarn requirement) and its final 8th skein (yes, that was the actual yarn required).

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Isn’t it sweet how I thought I was done with it? Well, it wasn’t done with me. This thing is cursed, I tell you, cursed.

If I read auspices I may have gotten a clue from this shawl’s beginnings. This was a souvenir purchase while on a family vacation during which the car broke down not once but twice in two days in completely different ways and the second time so spectacularly that we rented a car and continued on because our choices were either do that and get where we were going or hang out in a suburban Indiana Holiday Inn until the car was either fixed or declared beyond repair in 4 or 7 days and go home.

Then the yarn gobbling.

Then the moth(s). Hubs tells me there was only one moth. Like he used to tell me there was only one mouse in our infested apartment building. I was just catching the same one over and over. I’ve never been able to figure out whether he’s optimistic or in denial.

Then… then… then I burned it up in the oven practicing due potential-moth-egg-and-larva-killing-diligence.

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I’m a big girl. I didn’t cry.

I’d been baking or freezing all my yarn and finished projects since I spotted the moth without incident and I just can’t explain what happened here.

The last few weeks I’ve been swimming against the current. I think if I just stick with a thing it’ll turn out, but some things the harder you try the worse it seems to get. Right not this feels like a lot of wasted money and wasted effort and that stings. I’m down, but I’m not out. I’m stubborn and resourceful and I’m going to figure something out. But I’m going to wait until my wounded pride begins to heal and I feel the current change or I learn how to swim in it, whichever comes first.

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Pre-baking. She was 5 feet in diameter and glorious.

Good news is I’m excellent at treading water.

Even in Australia

Did you ever have one of those days? Days when you pin out your beleaguered lace shawl and discover 6 holes in it that you can’t explain? Days when you soak and press your finished cross-stitch and your iron spits gunk all over it? Days when you block out the sleeve to your new sweater and it in no way resembles the dimensions of your gauge swatch? Days when you sit down to do some sewing to take your mind off the afternoon’s setbacks and a moth flits into view?

I have.

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Yarn breaks are marked for mending

Some days are like that.

Bucketloads of Bucket Hats

Last weekend I sifted through the stash looking for inspiration for incoming babies being born to people I know in the near future and was truly surprised by how much of my stash is comprised of scraps of questionable utility. They’re too small to make a garment but big enough that they might be useful someday somehow and not a one matches another. What I had didn’t inspire nursery items, but the scraps from the totes I made for the kids for Christmas caught my eye. Could I eke a couple bucket hats out of them? I could! Barely. MJ, poor thing, got really upset when she saw me cutting these out because she thought I had massacred her tote bag and yet the matching set doesn’t seem to make her heart swell as much as it does mine.

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Outsides

Bucket hats are the best. You get to use fun fabric and not too much of it. They’re useful. They’re unisex. Oliver + S’s pattern is perfect and free. They make great gifts. Not this time, though: I made these in size medium for my kids. The new babies get nothing for now, but don’t worry. There’s still time.

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Insides

I used to sew a series of concentric circles on bucket hat brims, but I read somewhere to sew a spiral instead. BRILLIANT. Such a simple and elegant solution to a problem I didn’t know I had.

Four little scraps put to good use. Very little impact to the stash, but a bit of a relief to the overwhelmed psyche.

Dinosaur Dress

I bought this fabric ages ago, when I was first learning to sew and making oodles and oodles of kids clothes because I wasn’t ready to make clothes for myself, yet. I’ve always loved little dresses, but have always worried this makes me a bad feminist so I bought a bunch of red dino fabric with the intention of making dresses that were ever so slightly subversive. In time I let those worries go. It turns out the do-I-or-don’t-I-dress-my-daughter-in-dresses question solves itself when your kid is old enough to pick out her own clothes. This produces sometimes hilarious combinations on MJ’s part and sometimes frustrated feelings on mine as she eschews all other clothes in favor of the same Peppa Pig shirt and clashing teal sweatpants she plucks out of the drawer whenever they’re clean.

MJ is interested in dinosaurs and I thought this dress might have a chance, especially when she started demanding it while I was still working on it. I was excited to present it to her the morning after I finished it, but when I asked her if she wanted to wear it she said, “No, no wear dat.” She selected the day’s mismatched outfit and I remembered that toddler demands are not necessarily an indication of toddler desires and that toddlers are very literal. Wanting to have a thing and wanting to wear that thing are two different questions that might elicit two different responses.

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Maybe I should point out the pockets. MJ loves pockets.
Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made by Rae
Size: 3T

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This pattern is terrific. I’ve made lots and so has everyone else and with good reason. Excellent instruction, fantastic results, and lots of possible combinations even without purchasing the expansion pack which I own and am chiding myself for not have incorporated, yet.

There will be more Geraniums in other variations. I’ll keep making them, even if they’re rejected.

My Blue Period

I dreamed of this make between cutting it out and starting to sew. In my dream I forgot to sew the side panels on, a mistake I am glad to say I did not replicate in my wakeful state. I did try to piece the side panels to the front upside down – in my defense the curve of the sleeve looks an awful lot like the curve of an inverted armscye – so I credit my dream for the extra attention I paid to the side panels’ notches and why they might not be lining up. I had wondered why those notches were there when I cutting this pattern out. I couldn’t imagine how they would be relevant and considered omitting them. I’m so glad I decided I wasn’t smarter than the pattern.

I’d admired Forsythe for some time but it wasn’t on my must-make list because I’d already made Fen which has a similar vibe and even though I really like patterns which use coordinating fabric trying to find them mentally exhausts me. However! Given my love of jewel tones and adoration of the color blue (and this blue in particular: I refer you to Moneta which I finally got around to hemming in part because my machine was already threaded in matching blue for this make) it was only a matter of time before two suitable coordinating fabrics landed in my stash and lo:

IMG_9964.JPGPattern: The Forsythe Dress by French Navy
Size: Small
Fabric: Linen from Jo-Ann & cotton from IKEA in Ingelill

I was looking for an easy win and I thought I couldn’t go wrong with a boxy style. I can’t quite figure out what the problem is here. Something about my body shape and/or the excess fabric across the chest and/or side seam placement and/or weight of the fabric makes the dress bubble weirdly in the bust/underarm area. You can see it in the photo; it’s really noticeable when I’m in motion. On the one hand, who cares? On the other hand, I do?

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Looks OK from the back, though!

So we’ll see. Honestly it’s not the pattern. It’s just another example of how even when you think you can guess about a shape or style you really can’t.

I have some ideas for this dress. I might try basting the side panel seams closer to the neckline over the shoulder, moving those seams closer to my bust and farther from my armpits. I might try wearing this dress as it is; wear and washing might soften the fabric and help it drape better. Or I might give it to a bustier friend since all this dress needs to be a complete success is a curvier upper half. The dress is totally cute, it’s the fit that fails and that’s on me.

Much Ado About Nothing

After all that hemming and hawing about… well, hemming, I stopped trying to be fancee and a perfectionist and used a narrow zig zag to hem Moneta. And you know what? It looks FINE. Even better, it’s FINISHED.

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I’m not that tall, the door is short
Pattern: Moneta
Size: Small at the bust and shoulders graded to medium at the waist and skirt
Fabric: Birth Organics Wink Knit

Everybody and her sister has already made a Moneta and for good reason: easy to fit, easy to wear. This dress feels like a leotard which makes me feel like I’m playing secret dress-up.

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I have friends who swear by knit dresses but I don’t remember feeling comfortable in one since college which was long ago enough that I’ve become someone who uses terms like “since college” as a way of referring to herself as if in the third person. This dress is something of an experiment in personal style. Will I reach for when getting ready in the morning? We’ll see!

All Dressed Up With No Place to Go

I used a party invitation an excuse for making this dress even though I wasn’t sure we would make it that party. A fitted dress was on my sewing list, I already had the pattern in mind and the fabric on hand, and maybe I thought if I acted like it was a given that we would be going that it might improve our chances. I could at least make sure I had something to wear even if I couldn’t control the financial, familial, occupational, and other personal conflicts that ultimately prevented our attendance.

I kept working on my dress while watching airfare climb without ever dropping. Even after sending regrets I kept working on my dress because I was in deep and aren’t there sometimes really cheap last minute bargain prices? I finished up the dress the morning after the party, probably at the same time that the party honorees were hosting brunch for their out-of-town guests that beat the nor’easter that grounded all flights on the date I had hoped to be traveling.

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Windy windy!
Pattern: Belladone by Deer and Doe, View B
Fabric: Gertrude Made for Ella Blue Fabrics, Outback Wife, Barkcloth, Elaine Navy from fabricworm.com
Size & adjustments: It’s complicated.
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Alternate post title: business in the front, party in the back.

A summary of my pattern adjustments:

  • Started with a size 40
  • 1″ small bust adjustment (from C to B)
  • Shortened horizontal bust darts and moved them up
  • Moved vertical bust darts towards side seams
  • Moved skirt pleats to match relocated bust darts
  • 1/2″ forward-shoulder adjustment
  • 1/2″ gaping neck adjustment (I wonder if I could achieved better results more simply by doing a square shoulder adjustment. I have some wrinkles on my left shoulder in particular that I think the square shoulder adjustment would help)
  • Lengthened the back .75″ and the front 1.25″. The added length to the front is misleading because the small bust adjustment takes away length.
  • Graded bodice from size 40 at the underarm to 38 at the waist. Graded skirt from 38 at the waist to 40 at the hip.*

*I didn’t realize until I was trying to figure out what to do with the flappy ends of at the top of the invisible zipper** that I had been installing the zip wrong all along on all of my muslins. I was butting the edge of the zipper right up against the edge of my pattern piece, wondering all the time 1) how it made sense to sew a 5/8″ seam around a zipper that was being placed in at 3/8″; and 2) how in the world a 38 was fitting me when I don’t have a 26.5″ waist. Turns out you’re supposed to allow for that seam allowance when sewing the zipper in, duh. So even though I graded down to a size 38, once you add back in the seam allowance I didn’t take at the zip you’re back at a 40 and I was making things harder on myself than they needed to be. Honestly, making fit issues a bigger problem than they needed to be was the theme of this make, but that’s how I hope to learn.

**I still don’t know exactly what to do with the flappy ends since every tutorial I found assumed you hadn’t finished selvages, yet. I made do. It looks fine.

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I lined the skirt with some blue stuff I picked up at Jo-Ann’s. I tried to use the same lining fabric to finish the armholes and neck, but it was fighting me. I used store bought navy single fold bias tape instead and hand-sewed it to the inside of the dress using the same blind hem stitch I had used on the skirt hem. I would like to face the waistband on the inside as well, but that’s another hand-sewing project for another day and since that’s an add-on I’m calling this one done.

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What I would actually look like if you met me at a party. Hello!

So many muslins, so much adjusting, so much hand-sewing makes this my slowest fashion make yet. Worth it!

All Quiet on the Midwestern Front

So quiet around here. I’m working on projects, but they are slow-going and unfinished. I’m finally working on my final dress at a deliberate pace and when I get too tired for that I watch a program and work on Little Italy. I have no finished projects to show you. This week it’s all about the process. IMG_6587.jpgThese are two projects that demand time and so I’m giving it to them patient and unhurried, going with the flow like a lazy gondolier.