Let it all go

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m KoMari-ing my house, but I have been cleaning out. I’m not looking for joy. I’m looking for absolution. I want to be unburdened by things I’ve kept far too long, things that I thought might be useful or that I thought my future self would want. I can’t speak for my future-future self, but my present future self wonders why her past self couldn’t part with string art she made in junior high mumble mumble years ago or why she thought her present future self would ever want it.

My time to clean out is limited, and often interrupted. It turns out this works in my favor because I don’t get decision fatigue before I have to take a break. I have the mental energy to be honest and ruthless. If I can get the stuff that may still have some use to someone else into bags in the basement then it stands a good change of getting moved out of the house. Things are neater, shelves are clearer, drawers are emptier, boxes that I’ve moved twice without unpacking are gone, and storage bins I bought when I misunderstood my problem to be one of organization and not over-accumulation sit unused and have become clutter themselves.

I’ve been on such a roll that my attention has even turned to areas formerly sacrosanct. I’m talking fabric stash, folks.***

At first thought it isn’t so big and it’s easy to justify. But as I continue thinking about it the stash snowballs. I realize that I have enough for several dresses, a top, two shirts for Hubs, a skirt or pants, and some other random stuff that I bought for such-and-such purpose then abandoned. The stash no longer feels “not so big”.  But you know what? Those don’t bother me. Those fabrics wait patiently on the shelf. They’re all earmarked or usable quantities and I like them. Let’s call that part of the stash “curated”. It was the stuff in the bins that gets to me. What’s even in there? And why do I keep it?

It turns a big chunk of it was scraps of fabric I don’t like and/or aren’t big enough to be usable in any significant way. Off to Scraps KC it went. Another chunk constituted scraps large enough for children’s clothes. I had three choices: 1) admit I was never going to get around to using the scraps and give them away; 2) continue to store the scraps indefinitely in case I ever did get around to making kids clothes; or 3) make the damn kids clothes, already.

So I got to it.

I made a tunic from leftover seersucker.

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Pattern: Baby + Child Smock by Wiksten
Size: 5T
Fabric: leftover seersucker from my fen dress which predates the blog
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Minnie Mouse, you must have noticed by now, is a recurring theme.

The direction of the stripes were 100% a function of trying to fit all the pattern pieces on to the fabric I had.

I also made shorts. Three pair!

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Pattern: Puppet Show Shorts by Oliver + S
Size: 5T
Fabric: All linens from this project, that project, and the other project
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Did you think there wouldn’t be Minnie involved somehow?

I’ve made both these patterns before. If you click through you’ll see that this is even the 2nd pair I’ve made from the leftover mustard yellow linen. I overbought by a bunch. I can’t speak for the recipient (she told me they could be for her brother when she saw me cutting them out) but I personally LOVE them.

And finally, not kid-related, I made a project bag.

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Pattern: Cordula by Fröbelina

I’m feeling pretty chuffed. It feels good to move these scraps out of my stash and into my kid’s dresser.

*** Note I deliberately omitted mention of the yarn stash from this post. That one’s complicated.

All Mixed Up

Spring is here, finally, and with it all attendant busyness that, I remind myself, is all good things and so WHY AM I SO STRESSED OUT ABOUT IT and having that nightmare where I’m in grad school and it’s the end of the semester but I haven’t done any of the work?

I never had that dream while I was actually in grad school.

Mom told me she wasn’t seeing any Easter dresses she liked in stores. So I made one from “leftovers.” Do they qualify as leftovers when you bought enough for 3 garments? Dubious.

I did make a special trip to Joann for the contrasting fabric.

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Pattern: Tic Tac Toe Dress by Sewpony
Specs: View B, sleeveless, size 5
Fabric: Cotton from Joann
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Piping! Lovely.

It’s the same fabric I used to make MJ”s birthday dress. I thought that birthday dress would be a good backup if this one turned out way too big until I realized I hadn’t seen the birthday dress since, well, perhaps as far back as MJ’s birthday 7 months ago. It’s not in her closet or dresser, that’s for sure. I am losing my mind, and all of the things I am in charge of. Which is everything. I’m a mess, folks.

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Did I sew this neckline twice to get it perfect? YES, I DID.

It’s big, but not too big, and kids this age you can justify making clothes a little larger than necessary, the caveat here being that you need to actually keep track of the thing if you want your kid to wear it more than once.

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When I showed it to MJ she said it was “all mixed up!”. Did she like it? “YES!” Mom says she’s going to be a quilter.

Santas’ Workshop

I was in my 20’s when I started knitting. I plodded along through the early disappointments, of which there were many. I learned to chalk them up to the learning curve, retreating back to what dish towels after the especially painful setbacks. It’s been a while, now, since I was in my 20’s and I’ve knit a lot of things between then and now besides lots (and LOTS) of dishcloths. I’ve knit socks and sweaters and mittens and hats and scarves and toys, and even a willie warmer. I’ve knit cables and lace and stranded colorwork.

But I had never knit intarsia on such a large scale, or possibly ever, though I vaguely remember being frustrated by the twisting yarns and the idea of intarsia has always inspired a sense of dread that I can only attribute to one or more failed attempts that I buried deep into my subconscious. I definitely had some yarn bobbins at some point which indicated some interest or intention to learn the technique, but I cleaned them out because I was never going to use them anyways. Hobbies and clutter, am I right? I am overwhelmed by stuff but anticipating what may or not be useful or when is a crapshoot.

I saw this pattern on ravelry and decided I was not going to be intimidated any more. I wrapped my yarns on cardboard and it worked just fine. Just fine in this case means I had to untwist everything ever couple rows because it quickly became a rat’s nest, but that’s the nature of the beast. The knitting itself, I was happy to discover, was surprisingly easy, if fiddly.

There were a lot of ends to weave in:

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I left all those ends on the first one because I thought I’d have tension issues that would need fixed. I didn’t and got smart and wove them in as I went on the 2nd sweater.

A vital blocking:

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Blank Santa faces

And a fair amount of embroidery and finishing:

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Buttons and bobbles and chain stitch, oh my.

And some sewing up:

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I often lament that it’s gone out of style to knit sweaters in pieces.

Add a collar and viola!

IMG_9923I am completely chuffed with myself. These may not be to everyone’s taste, but I am thrilled with them (my kids, on the other hand, not so much! But I don’t hang my sense of knitterly worth on their opinions) and I feel so accomplished. I had built intarsia up to be my last knitting frontier and it turned out to be just… knitting.

Santa Baby

I don’t know how to introduce these projects. They reveal some part of my person and general cheeseball-ness that I try to keep under wraps.

I love kitschy Christmas. I’m too self-conscious and unorganized to go all out, and my decorating scheme probably looks more like a lack of effort than a preference. Christmas red in my house is a true red, not burgundy, green is, well, green, not lime or forest. I thought about buying a tasteful wreath this year, but why should I when I already have one made of multicolored Christmas balls? I prefer colored lights to white and tinsel to popcorn. Our stockings are handmade. They don’t match, nor do our ornaments and I always felt kind of bad for trees whose ornaments do. A coworker once told what was to her a funny anecdote about how how excited she was when she moved into her first house to have an all-matching Christmas tree and how her mother undermined her efforts by sending her a box of her childhood ornaments. I had always considered trees with matching decorations soulless and associated them with department stores. I’d had no idea it was something anybody would want in her own home.

Different strokes for different folks. Not everybody wants a kitschy mishmash, not everybody wants matchy-matchy, only a few would make her children matching kitschy Santa sweaters.

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Pattern: Santa Claus by Sue Stratford
Sizes: 7 & 5
Yarn: Valley Yarns in worsted superwash & non

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There are lots of reasons not to make your children matching Christmas sweaters, especially if you’re as bad at laundry as I am. I don’t know which is worse: wondering if they’ll even wear them or wondering how long before an ice cream or chocolate stain ruins them. Time will tell which fate will befall these sweaters. If I had to wager a guess I’d say the blue will never be worn and the pink will be stained before we leave the house. That’s OK. I don’t mind. Knitting is my love language.

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More on the making another day.

 

More of the same, but different

Friends, I have come up with a corollary to the Christmas pajamas: Thanksgiving pajamas!***

As you are by now well aware, the sleepover pajamas from Oliver & S are my go-to pajamas pattern. HOWEVER. This flannel fell into my virtual shopping cart a while back. It was super cute, on sale, and I figured pajamas are always something I’ll make eventually and therefore not real “stash”. I didn’t have a coordinating flannel for the sleepover pajama’s distinctive exposed facings, nor did I want to think too hard about turning them inward. It should be easy as pie, but pie is deceptively hard, and I hadn’t yet refamiliarized myself with the pattern and sometimes even minor changes can be a mind meld so the last time I was at Joann’s I picked up the first basic children’s pajama pattern I came to in a book. It has a collar, see, and is therefore TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

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Pattern: Burda Style 9747
Fabric: Supernova flannel by Dear Stella
Size: 7*

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The light was so yellow the day I took these.

I thought this was a good plan. I thought it would be easy. I underestimated and reaffirmed my extreme distaste for paper patterns.

Now, I can handle paper patterns in certain circumstances. Circumstances like when a PDF is not available (WHY Merchant & Mill, WHY?). Or like the time I went to pick up my mom’s sewing machine after repair and the shop was clearancing out their paper patterns and I bought, oh, 8 or 10 indie patterns at $3-5 a pop. Good stuff, too: Thread Theory, Colette, and Sewaholic. I hate tracing, but I’ll trace if it means I’m saving 75% off suggested retail prices.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that all paper patterns are not created equal. I was genuinely surprised by the quality of indie patterns. The paper is thick, the instructions are comprehensive, the packaging is interesting and unique to the brand. The pajamas pattern I bought, though, was a tissue paper pattern, the kind that’s impossible to fold back into the envelope whence it came. The kind that make me hate everything and wonder why I’m even bothering sewing because it’s so dumb and why do I do this to myself and what’s the point? The kind that comes accompanied by brief, incomplete, sometimes inaccurate instructions printed on huge pieces of paper that are always in the way. I still have no idea what I was supposed to do with the back of the collar.** I drafted a back facing to sew to the front facings and sandwich it all together, but no such pattern piece was provided and the pattern instructions were to sew the front facings to the shoulder seams, so??? Yay me for knowing enough to come up with a solution.

 

*My kiddo is only 5, but he’s a largish 5 and I made a size 7 based on his measurements. These pajamas are enormous. I can’t tell you how oversized they are because he has’t tried them on, yet. There will definitely be some cuff and sleeve rolling.

**A cursory google search to identify this pattern tells me that I am not dumb and that the collar is meant to be finished with bias tape which the instructions neglect to mention. OK then.

***Thanksgiving pajamas seemed like a good idea until my mother pulled out a dozen pairs of new pajamas to give us the day before. Why do I even bother?

 

Mingos

My grandmother made us pajamas for Christmas every year growing up. It was the only present we were allowed to open on Christmas Eve and my brother and I always wore them to bed that night. I kept thinking about those pajamas from Christmas Past as I made these.

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I’m not sure why, though. I’m not planning on saving these for Christmas, and not for the reasons you might think. First of all, my house is c-c-c-cold. Then there’s the fact that my kids cannot be counted on to like the things I make them or use them even if they do like them. I”m OK with that, generally, or I try to be, but I don’t want to deal with it on Christmas Eve. Now factor in the competition from my mother who will surely gift Christmas-themed Disney pajamas that my homemade flannels cannot compete with. But the real kicker, the real reason why I won’t to save these for Christmas is because my 91-year-old granny is still sewing and sends pajamas to her great-grandchildren. Every year I think she won’t and every year she does. It’s a tradition I want to maintain, but it’s not my turn, yet. Call me superstitious, but I’m not going to meddle with something that’s working. Just in case.

Pattern: Digital Sleepover Pajamas by Oliver + S
Size: 4T
Fabric: Flannel from Jo-Ann

You might remember this pattern from last year when I made it three times before I burnt out. This time around the sewing seemed not nearly as arduous and I wondered if the break had done me good or if it was making the same thing three times that was such a drag or what was going on that my present experience didn’t seem to match up with my remembered experience. I pulled out one of last year’s pairs to look at them and no wonder! French seams, flat felled seams, everything was done up right because 1) I’m me; and 2) I didn’t want that cheap flannel fraying on me and leaving me with nothing but pajamas pieces after a wash or two. This year I have my serger and the sewing went much faster. Whew!

Three

MJ turns three today.

Here is the dress I made her:

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Pattern: Lotta Dress by Companie M
Size: 3T
Fabric: Cloud 9 cotton I grabbed off the clearance rack at Joann

I’m always learning new things when I sew. This time I learned how far ahead of the needle my serger’s knife cuts and why you don’t serge seam allowance after sewing inseam pockets.

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Pro-tip: serge those edges THEN sew.

After a long time out it turned out to be an easy fix. I removed the pocket, cut an inch off the width of the skirt, and started fresh.

It’s the same pattern as the dress I made MJ last year. I used the same button loop placket and cap sleeves, but added the i-cord and used inseam pockets because I thought I ought to mix it up a little bit.

I’ve sworn off Joann Fabrics. Again. Joann, why can’t I quit you? Oh yeah, because you are the only place anywhere close-ish that I can reliably buy notions which is something I re-remember every time I need buttons. I got super lucky, though, and hit a timely and unexpected jackpot at Urban Mining: vintage buttons!

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I stocked up.

Unbelievably I found buttons that were a perfect match in the quantities and sizes I needed. And I needed 4 smaller and 3 bigger, so let’s take a moment to acknowledge the improbability of finding these buttons in a space mostly dedicated to furniture and knick-knacks mere blocks from my house, no long, trying to trips to Joann necessary!

MJ, of course, would have been happiest with Minnie Mouse buttons. Here is the godawful dress I made at her behest also out of clearance Joann fabric that MJ spotted, adored, would not let go of, and insisted be made into a dress immediately upon arrival home. She will surely wear this dress instead. Ah, well, more power to her. The girl knows what she likes.

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