Ruffles Have Ridges

I inexplicably love ruffles. Inexplicable because the ruffles I gravitate to are not ones that balance my pear shape, but emphasize it. I love a big ruffle at the hem of a shirt, but I’m pretty sure ruffles don’t love me. Not that this has stopped me from making and wearing the heck out of a View Ridge by Straight Stitch Designs… 

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Photo from last summer featuring Chuffy’s pincushion sculpture that says “oOoOh”

but the cropped length of the Peplum Top gave me pause. So I made a muslin! Just to try it out and see if it would work! I hurriedly tried it on and it was so ill-fitting that I decided I would use it as a PSA about how making a muslin is useful because sometimes that little bit of extra effort will prevent you from wasting time and money on a garment that just isn’t going to work. So I was shocked when I put on appropriate undergarments to take photos with the express purpose of showing you how bad it was and…

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*Spit take*

It turns out trying a muslin bra-less over the oversized t-shirt you sleep in is not going to give you a fair assessment of a garment’s fit. WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN? Obviously I didn’t. It fits and I stand in disbelief. But would it flatter? I certainly wasn’t going to wear an 80’s-athletic-wear-inspired crop-top out of the house (or around the house, for that matter) so I attached that ruffle to get an idea of what this style would look like on me.

I’m a definite pear-shape with short-ish, muscular legs. I love the volume and the movement of this top. But it’s a style that favors the slender-thighed and narrow-hipped and, dare I say, the youthful. Does it work on me? Do I care?

This is what I’m self-conscious of looking like:

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What is even happening up there by my head?

And yet I know that people don’t look the widest part of me straight-on from the angle that unflattering photo was taken while I stand stock still so they can take in all the lumps and bumps. In real life I think I might present more like this:

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In my mind I aspire I look like this:

So I don’t know. What do you think?

Taking a Pattern for a Test Drive

In the past I’ve tried to skip the muslin process, often with regrettable results. I seem to think I should be able to cheat or outsmart my way clear of making a muslin. I started sewing with the misconception that a muslin is a chore you should try to avoid doing if possible, whenever possible. I’m having to learn for myself the hard way that what everyone says is true: if you want a better chance than a roll of the dice at a garment that you’re happy with, making a muslin is critical.

Now, I’m not going to say that me up and making two muslins for fun marks a sea change in my attitude towards them, but I think it does reflect a grudging acceptance of how important a muslin is. It didn’t hurt that both these patterns are free. Patterns can be pricey and if I’ve chosen to spend money I already have a personal investment greater than the financial one. Making muslins of French Navy’s Orla and Peppermint’s Peplum Top patterns felt more like I was taking them out for a test drive than a trial run, or as in the case of my Belladone, training for a marathon.

This post got too long, so first Orla. I had seem some very nice examples here and there, but I wasn’t up for another fitting challenge so I was fully prepared to make a muslin and chuck it. I was stunned that this fit so well right out of the (virtual pdf) envelope.

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Pattern: Orla by French Navy
Size: Small

Folks, if I found a dress that fit as well as this in a store I would absolutely buy it. Lest you think the muslin in this case was a waste of time, I decided to size up and make a couple small adjustments on my final version because I, ironically, am aiming at something less fitted. It’s currently more of a hospital gown than a dress – the fabric store is far and my weekends are busy, but hopefully I’ll get around to buying and installing the zip soon!

Small Clothes Carry Great Weight

I’d been avoiding the bins of kids clothes we have stored in the basement. I couldn’t remember if we had girls clothes down there in size 3T. This time it was different because either they were there or they weren’t and either way it was heavy because the daughter who used them or was supposed to use them isn’t or didn’t. Up until this point I knew that we had the clothes and the problem was whether or not to use them. Would it be too hard? Would it honor her? Was it creepy? I’d been dreading coming to the end of the bins of stored clothes since MJ was born. This time I didn’t know which problem I was going to confront or what questions I might ask myself.

While avoiding the the bins I made MJ a t-shirt.

IMG_8038.JPGPattern: Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt
Size: 3T
Fabric: Kristen Balouch for Birch Organic Fabrics, Folkland, KNIT, Enchanted Unicorns Dusk

And then I went downstairs and and discovered that we have lots of 3Ts, summer things B had worn and winter things she hadn’t. I’m feeling terribly unorganized and burdened by things and the emotional weight they carry. So many pants, many of which are cute little jeans that MJ will never, ever allow to be put on her person. She’s more likely to leave the house in this mismatched clashing pairing, if she deigns to wear the t-shirt at all:

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She’s her own person. And Goddamn if I don’t love her for it.

Mustard Yellow is a Neutral

There’s a little girl at daycare who has the cutest pair of mustard yellow cords. I love them, I do. I’m totally jealous of this 2-year-old’s clothing and fashion sense which, I suppose, really means that I like her mum’s fashion sense and I’m jealous that her child allows herself to be dressed in actual pants as opposed to the loudest leggings imaginable.

Maybe shorts will be a different story when the weather gets warmer. Both the ideas posited in that sentence, that my daughter might wear something I suggest and that we might see a Sunday when it doesn’t snow, seem implausible at the moment. Nevertheless, I present the cutest pair of shorts I made from leftover linen from my Farrow dress. Look, put them with the Wiksten tunic I made and you get an outfit!

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This outfit has ALL the good pockets.
Pattern: Puppet Show Shorts from Oliver + S
Size: 3T
Fabric: Linen from Jo-Ann

I really love this pattern. It’s reminiscent of bloomers without being too balloony or having uncomfortable elastic in the legs. I’ve had this fabric earmarked for this pattern for a while, but put it off because fiddly pockets and elastics and gathering in 4 different places, none of which are my favorite sewing tasks which leaves me wondering what else is there? I am always so very satisfied with the results, however, especially with respect to fiddly pockets and these are the cutest of all of them.

I really hope kiddo wears these. I tried to get her to try these on – just to check the waistband, I said – and she emphatically refused – No, NOT these ones, she shouted, repeatedly – so I’m preparing myself for disappointment. We shall see when (if?) the weather turns warm.

So Nice I Made it Twice

After digging around my stash for inspiration for baby things to make I remembered that I had made all those toddler aprons. Good news! Two babies taken care of and I found this tunic which happily is exactly the right size for MJ to wear this spring:

Pattern: Hide-and-Seek Dress + Tunic, Oliver + S
Size: 3T

This pattern and this fabric was what started me sewing. I can’t tell you exactly how or why; it was a confluence of cute fabric that grabbed me and discovering Oliver + S patterns and chronic insomnia that gave me time to fill and thoughts filling my head I needed distraction from. The insomnia and depression also compromised my decision making processes and handicapped memory formation, so I’m not altogether clear what happened or in what order or exactly when or why it seemed sensible to make dozens of garments for no immediate purpose in the middle of the night. My memory is so bad that while looking through my Google photos and online order history to put some sort of timeline together I discovered that I made this exact thing in size 6 months for MJ and had completely forgotten. But look, photographic evidence:

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Back when she used to let me pick out her clothes

So there, she gets the same top 2 years apart. I guess I should try to be delighted that past me left these little surprises for present me. That sounds better than being frustrated by my muddy mind and sad about the things I don’t remember.

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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.

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.