Geranium Dress

Like everyone else in the sewing universe who loves sewing small dresses, I discovered the Geranium Dress, bought the Geranium Dress pattern, made it up, and delighted in it. Possibly unlike everyone else, I didn’t stop there. I made more Geranium dresses than I had possible use for. I made them in every size with every neckline and every sleeve. I made them in geometric, bird, floral, dinosaur, cupcake, and sausage (that one was for my restaurateur cousin) fabrics. I made them for friends, I made them for friends of friends. I looked for every opportunity to give the things away and when I ran out of outlets I stowed them in a drawer from whence I drew this quite wrinkled version to finally pass along:

Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made by Rae, View A
Size: 2T
Fabric: Bird-covered cotton from Jo-Ann

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It’s on its way to a little girl named Lark. Funny, that.

Yawn

More PJs. We moved the clocks back a week ago and this, for a short time, affords 15 whole minutes of adequate daylight to snap photos before scuttling out to work. Given that I’m getting 3 bodies out the door at the same time you can imagine how well that goes.

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You’d think having made this pattern 3 consecutive times I would be a pro by now. Instead I continue to make new mistakes and forget construction steps (some important, some not). There was the cuff mistake that set me back and then when I got to the buttonholes I dutifully got out my buttonhole presser foot, but neglected to put it on my machine and wondered the whole time why I couldn’t see what I was doing. The buttonholes turned out OK, at least. My buttonholes are never great. I’m waiting for time and experience to take care of that. If not that, then maybe a new machine with fancy buttonhole settings my circa-1980 Bernina Nova lacks (but I love her so!).

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Pattern: Oliver & S Sleepover Pajamas
Size: 5T
Fabric: Flannels from Jo-Ann boy-o picked out himself

I’m neither a cook nor a baker, but I do make a big deal out of Christmas cookies and I have to start early for our church’s Kristkindl Markt the first weekend of December. Sunday I tried out the new cookie gun I got last Christmas with fancy Christmas-themed discs my beloved vintage aluminum cookie press lacks.

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Spritzes are my favorites, favorites, favorites.

We’re scheduled to make some chocolate teddy bear spritzes tonight. I’m so spritz-obsessed I can’t even remember what other cookies I usually make. Luckily I have a helper and all I have to do is pass the Betty Crocker Cooky Book to the 4-year-old and he’ll point out to me all the cookies we should make.

The Pajama Predicament

Every time he spotted these on my sewing table my patient kiddo would excitedly ask “Are they going to be ready for tonight?!” No, not tonight, dearie. There’s still a lot of sewing yet, I would say. I’m busy embroidering toys, instead, I didn’t say.

Finally! And none too soon. Nighttime temperatures have dropped and kiddo is outgrowing his PJ stock. We always get a big influx of pajamas during the holidays and these will be a useful bridge while we’re waiting out the gap. My idea here is to try to prevent ending up with way too many PJs. Wish me luck as I haven’t struck the right balance yet. Our neighbors across the way have a new baby and I told them I’ve been setting aside clothes if they want them and they’ll never have to buy another set of PJs again. Neighbor Dad said he thought they hadn’t used the same set of PJs twice in the first month of their new baby’s life. PJs: either you have an absence or an abundance. And often when you have an overflowing PJ drawer they’re off-season and useless except to make it so you can’t find the PJs you want or to instigate fights because you haven’t disappeared the footed PJs your kid pulls out to wear in the middle of summer.

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Bad light on a short day. My mom made that quilt! She’s very talented.
Pattern: Oliver + S’s Sleepover Pajamas
Size: 5
Fabric: Flannel something-emoji-rific from Jo-Ann

Chuffy picked out the fabric himself. He loves it and his excitement is adorable. I’ve had trouble with the waistband casing on both sets of Sleepover Pajamas I’ve made. I just don’t end up with quite enough space for half-inch elastic even skipping the stitching at the top of the waistband casing. I used quarter-inch elastic on the last set, but I wasn’t sure that would be hefty enough to keep these pants up. The half-inch cups a bit in spots, but they’re only jams and I’m not letting perfection be the enemy of good enough. I’ll try to remember to widen the waistband a bit going forward. It’s not a problem with the pattern, I’m just not a precise enough sewer and an eighth of an inch makes all the difference.

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Chuffy loves the smiley faces. Check out my face placement on those pockets!

Chuffy loves them which is very gratifying. They’re a bit big but that’s perfect. It’s not going to keep anybody coming back to my little neck of the net, but next up for sewing will be yet more jams in the dino fabric Chuffy selected. I’ve also got some embroidery for gifting and knitting for keeping on the boil. I’ve got lots of makes in progress, but it’s the time of year when life itself gets busy without me coming up with more projects for myself. Let’s put on some cozy PJs and hunker down.

(Dis)Economies of Scale

In my mind it makes sense that if I’m going to make a thing once it stands to reason that I ought to make it multiple times. I use this faulty logic to rationalize the cost of the pattern and the fabric and the notions as if the more I make a garment the cheaper its cost. I casually disregard the fact that two of these are incremental costs and the remaining is a sunk cost. There is no actual “saving” of money or achievable economies of scale for the single sewist.

The kids were with me on my last shopping expedition to Jo-Ann’s where there was an abundance of cute printed flannel. My more-is-better mentality combined with the children’s influence and I bought enough fabric to make each of them 2 pairs of PJs. That’s 4 pair total and it seemed like no big deal until I was doing the actual sewing.

Dude, there is a lot of sewing in these PJs. I love that, I find it wholly satisfying, I delight in the details, but it is also much slower going than I had anticipated. Granted, it would go faster if I hadn’t understitched the back neck to the facing instead of the shirt and spent an hour or more on the unexpectedly difficult task of picking stitches out of multiple layers of flannel, but still.

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Pattern: Oliver + S’s Sleepover Pajamas
Size: 3T
Fabric: Flannel something from Jo-Ann

I started with a size 3T in View B with the gathered ruffle details for MJ in the hopes that these might might useful both this year and next. Only time will tell, but after cleaning clothes out of the bins in the basement last weekend I was glad I cut out the larger size because we have approximately 53,000 pairs of 2T pajamas that I had forgotten about.

More of the same to come if I don’t abandon the PJ Project of Fall 2017. Chuffy is super excited about the emoji fabric he picked out, so that should keep me going for at least one other pair.

Old Growth

We were on a beach vacation in Delaware when I bought a sweater’s quantity of Shepherd’s Wool Worsted form Stonehedge Fiber Mill from A Little Bit Sheepish, an amazing multi-floor yarn store – I wish I could live there, or at least shop there regularly – in a quintessentially picturesque town. I bought a whole sweater’s worth in Chocolate Milk (that one got turned into a Peabody). The woman checking me out asked if I had ever used it before and assured me that it was fabulous. She was 100% correct. It. Does. Not. ITCH. At all. That yarn felt so good against my skin I bought some more and made myself a Daelyn Pullover.

I spontaneously picked up the three partial balls leftover from the Daelyn, decided it was surely enough for a toddler-sized sweater, and cast on Old Growth.

I knit sleeve #1. Lots of yarn!

I knit sleeve #2. Two is always a good number of sleeves. Doubt starts to creep in.

I started on the body. Hmm, only 1 partial ball left and still several inches of the body to go + yoke + button bands. Better suck it up and order another skein. So much for stash-busting. It doesn’t help that a sweater’s worth of Rosy Green Wool’s Big Merino Hug fell into my virtual shopping cart when I placed my order. I was saving money on shipping, naturally!

Against expectation that last partial ball was enough to get to the end of the sweater body with a whole single yard to spare. I broke into the new skein – shout out to good dye consistency between lots – for the button bands. So I guess I can make a matching hat? Yay? I sort of resent when trying to use up yarn creates more knitting.

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Pattern: Old Growth by Tin Can Knits
Size: 2T
Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill, Shepherd’s Wool Worsted, Antique Rose

Sewing with Knits in 3 Parts

I always say that I learn by making mistakes. I also always say that if I don’t do a thing 3 times I’m not doing it right. Usually I’m referring to spreadsheets or accounting software, but here is the story of my first attempts to sew with knits in 3 parts.

Act 1: a horror story.

This pile of regret was supposed to be a wearable muslin of Moneta by Colette Patterns. The less said the better. Fit issues, fabric issues. I gave up when trying to gather the skirt. That didn’t work at all. No problem with the pattern or the instructions, I simply had no idea what I was doing and sometimes when you bite off more than you can chew you end up choking.

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I stuffed it in a drawer to forget about it.

I was never going to sew with knits again. At least for a long while.

Act 2: a twist ending!

I was inspired to revisit my disappointment while binge-listening to Love to Sew (so, so good!) and by Kelli Ward’s interview in particular. Better to start smaller, I decided, on a body that will be easier to fit, and this time no trying to gather knit fabric with clear elastic. I lowered the bar and my expectations. I harbored hope that this time would be different.

It wasn’t going well. I didn’t do a good job cutting which set me up for trouble piecing the pants together. I ordered knit fabric and realized when I was sewing that it would make a great t-shirt. How would that work for pants?! Badly, I thought. How do you finish a seam in knit fabric if you don’t have a serger? Do you just… not? Is the zig zag enough? How do you “press open” a seam that’s a zig zag stitch on fabric that curls? I grew more certain that these were another failure and chalked this project up as a sacrifice to the learning process. I stopped caring and plowed ahead sure that this would be a tear-jerker.

Imagine when after all that indecision and self-doubt I held up a pair of what appear by all accounts to be actual, not entirely terrible, wearable pants:

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Shoes are bigger than the feet therein
Pattern: True Bias Mini Hudson Pant
Size: 2T
Fabric: Robert Kaufman House Designer, Dana Cotton Modal Knit, Dana Cotton Modal Knit in Wisteria

I frowned at them wide-eyed and thought, “HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!?” and “Wow, knits really are forgiving!” I mean, they’re a mess and you’ll never get to the inside of these, but pants! 

Act 3: a coming of age story.

After the shock wore off (the surprise still hasn’t) I thought I would try my luck again with the same pattern but heavier knit fabric that I purchased during a stressful trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics to pick up all those bibs and bobs online fabric retailers so frequently don’t offer. I skipped the cording, again, because I ran out of patience while shopping.

This story doesn’t have a pat ending. It’s a mixed bag. First off, these are some ugly pants. I don’t know exactly what I was thinking. This happens to me a lot at Jo-Ann. The stress of shopping there results in some strange choices. Also, I overcompensated in terms of fabric-weight. I thought these pants would be cozy, but they’re bulky. Although the sewing went a lot more smoothly I made some dumb mistakes learned some valuable lessons, like to match stripes to the outside of the pocket at the side seam (not the inside), and to double check that the cuff seam is on the inside leg seam (not the outside) and to make sure cuff patterns go in the same direction as the rest of the pant.

But look beyond the garish fabric! I made more pants! In half the time! And they didn’t scare or intimidate me at all. There’s far to go, but I’m on my way and eyeing that Moneta pattern, again. It would be so so so perfect for fall…

Tic Tac Toe

When I bought this darling Megumi Sakakibara fabric fabricworm.com‘s purveyors contacted me because the fabric left on the bolt was – no joke – 1 inch less than the 1.5 yards I had ordered. Did I still want the cut? Would I like some coordinating cuts to make up for it? Yes and yes, thank you! I loooove girls dresses with contrasting accents. I waited for the right pattern to cross my path for this fabric and its coordinating cousins. I thought the Tic Tac Toe Dress by Sewpony was it. I love the version with contrasting side panels and the version with contrasting pockets and the version with a contrasting bib. Are you getting the idea? I really like coordinating fabric accents.

I bought the pattern, went home, dug out the fabric and… I couldn’t see it. I sat on it for a while. I thought the thing holding me back all this time was that I hadn’t found the right pattern. It turns out the thing holding me back was that I don’t really like the coordinating fabrics. They’re OK, nice, perfectly fine, I have nothing against them, I just don’t really like them paired with the Megumi Sakakibara. I realized I was on a loop: as long as I was holding out for a pattern that would incorporate the coordinating cuts I was never going to use the fabric because I was never going to want to use the coordinating fabrics with any pattern that incorporated them.

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Hmmm. All so pretty, but maybe not so much together?

So, what to do? I thought about the fabric. What did it want to be?

It wanted to be very traditional dress that has a peter pan collar and puff sleeves.

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Pattern: Tic Tac Toe Dress by Sewpony
Size: 2T
Fabric: Megumi Sakakibara, Hana No Naka Purple

And here I bought this pattern because I liked its modern style. That’s OK, though, there will be others!

I’m honestly really proud of this one. I’ve never done piping before. Look how well it matches up! (After ripping out an inch of the seam of the one on the left to move it over a squidge). And it was so easy, too. I’ve never installed a zipper before. It went surprisingly well! I remembered afterwards that matching the waist seam is a thing to watch for, but I got lucky and it’s out of line by only about an eighth of an inch. I let it go.

This is a perfect Easter dress, yes? Too bad it’s 6 months too early. So unseasonal. Not at all appropriate for a trip to the pumpkin patch, even if the high today is 86. Should we use it now or save it for later?