Category Archives: Sewing

Too much information

(A birth story. Don’t read if you don’t want gory, nitty-gritty details.)

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There aren’t enough words.

The last few months are too much, and nothing. I could write a book, or not even a paragraph.

The twins were born ten weeks early, at the end of August. They weighed three lbs (1350g) apiece.

It was terrifying, and wonderful.

I don’t know how to find the balance between exhausting, tedious detail, and glossing over everything. Nothing has happened except sitting–in hospital rooms, at home. Everything has happened.

For now, I’ll gloss. They’re home. They’re healthy. They’re over six and seven lbs, respectively. We’re figuring things out. Sleep is elusive. Sewing is nonexistent. Days slide by in a haze of baby feeding, changing, and spit up. I’ve been posting play-by-plays on Instagram, under the hashtag #tanitisisandthetwins , if you’re interested. I’m fantasizing about Victorian baby clothes, and Jalie Clara leggings for me. But mostly we’re just feeding and napping and cleaning things.

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A wee little thing

In a rare (these days) burst of energy a few weeks ago, i made a baby onesie.

I used the free onesie pattern from Small Dream Factory. (Apparently somehow I don’t have any baby onesie patterns?) I didn’t go back to the page to check the instructions after I managed to get it printed, but it’s pretty simple. The one thing I’ll recommend is make sure you mark the shoulder on both front and back pieces so you can line them up properly. The drafting is maybe a touch odd at the bottom of the armscye, but the finished garment seems to work well enough. And the pattern could’ve been tiled to use less paper, but it’s hard to get too fussy about something free. 🙂

I cut it out entirely using my rotary cutter, which is nice for small pieces and wiggly knits, especially since I took over some of the countertop in the basement kitchenette to have my cutting mat at a comfortable no-bending-required level. It’s especially nice for cutting perfectly even binding pieces, which helped a lot with the bound edges in this thing, and I do think they turned out pretty nicely, if I do say so myself.

I did my usual triple-fold binding, which has a tiny raw edge on the inside, but is much easier than trying to make a knit stay in a double-fold configuration, and I am NOT up for hard right now. Sherry of Pattern, Scissors, Cloth covers the method, except that she overlocks the unfinished edge to look nice inside, whereas I just trim mine close as needed once it’s stitched down.

The smallest hammer-in snaps I had for the bottom of the onesie were these pearl snaps, and they’re a bit heavy duty. I should probably have added some interfacing or something to support the fabric, too. So not really ideal, although I like the colour.

Obviously I can’t try the onesie on a baby yet. From comparison with some storebought ones we’ve received it’s a little on the wider, shorter side, which is certainly how my previous babies ended up, but I’m not at all sure how the twins will start out, at least.

I don’t have any more of this fabric, having turned the last few scraps into Watson Bikini underwear, but I wouldn’t mind making a second onesie for a wear-home-from-hospital set, if I can figure out something vaguely coordinating.

I realized (with some dismay) this past weekend that I’m no longer comfortable lifting and moving the various stacked plastic bins that hold my stash, which means that I either need to make do with the fabrics I already have out or ask for help to reach stuff in the bins, which isn’t impossible but will definitely make me think twice about things. So there may or may not be a second baby onesie… we will have to see. At the moment even getting off the couch feels fairly strenuous. On the other hand I will be reducing my work hours and even going on leave in a few weeks, so it’s possible I’ll have energy for something else, but I’m reluctant to set any lofty goals, even if I am fantasizing ceaselessly about things.

The 30-week belly

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Maternity sewing alert!

(Lingerie edition)

Ooo la la. Bra pics. Belly pics. You’re warned.

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The (not so little) black dress

A couple of months back, maybe not too much after I announced the impending twinpocalypse, one of the sweetest people on the internet, Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, offered to make me (and/or impending babies) a present. Being an irredeemable mooch, I naturally eagerly agreed, and then didn’t think much about it. Me Made May came and went, June whizzed by, and my wardrobe shrank slowly, while my energy and motivation to sew replacement pieces ebbed lower.

Well, last week Gillian let me know a package was on its way. How exciting!!
In the meantime, the latest Sewcialists Mini-Challenge dropped: spin the wheel, get a colour from the Sewcialists logo, and make something in that colour. By Sunday. Anyway, I conveniently (or boringly) spun black. Blue would’ve been more fun, but I have plenty of black fabric, and my machine and serger are both threaded with black from the Myosotis, so there was a lot to be said for it. I was toying with the idea of a black knit dress, not too flashy, maybe in a rayon knit if I could find the energy to dig through the bins, with either a circle or handkerchief skirt. I’m really liking how my knit Vogue 1312 is holding up to the rigors of pregnancy, and something along those lines (but sleeveless, and a simpler skirt) seemed appealing.

So imagine my excitement when I opened the wee little package (which arrived Friday afternoon) and found a black rayon knit dress with a handkerchief skirt!!!!

It also came with strict instructions to modify and hack as needed, for fit or boredom.

The theory was perfect, the practice a little less so—in the super-stretchy black rayon the bodice was loose, and the weight of the skirt pulled it WAY down, to around where my waist used to be–when it was meant to be more empire-lined. But this also made it perfect for the mini-challenge. I carefully cut off the skirt, took in the side seams, and trimmed an inch off the bodice. While I was at it, I narrowed the binding a wee bit, for a more delicate look and also cleavage (I did not do a good job, I will note. Oh, well.) So in the end I wound up re-sewing every seam but the shoulders, including the awesome tag:

And I did take a goofy before picture (as per Gilliam’s request), but apparently not in a form that I can find later.

In any case! Behold the dress! In final (?) form. It is, of course, perfectly comfy and breezy and stretchy while also being suave and possibly even svelte (to the extent that anyone pregnant is svelte).

I may still have to trim a bit of length off the skirt, as it’s long even in these heels and likely to keep growing. But that’s easily done, and either way I have a fabulous and practical new dress!

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Class Samples: Myosotis Dress

I’m never exactly on the cutting edge of indie patterns, so everyone and their dog has already made the Deer and Doe Myosotis dress, mostly last summer. If it weren’t for all those versions I probably wouldn’t’ve been drawn to it, because it’s a lot of ruffles and a pretty squat, shapeless look on the face of it. But somewhere in the midst of conversations on Instagram last winter with Grace (@wzrdreams) about our shared nineties nostalgia, I realized that this was a really good base for a revisit of my much-beloved nineties babydoll dress. So, I suggested it as the basis for a Periwinkle Sewing class (running in August). We’ll see if anyone actually takes it, but at least I got a cute dress out of it.

Now, recreating that dress (why did I get rid of it again?) isn’t exactly what I’ve done here, but I am pretty happy with the results.

I went with the ruffled skirt but not the sleeve ruffle. I cut the size 40, and added ties because I wanted the adjustability they provide in a loose style like this. The only change I made to the pattern was actually to shorten the (already raised) waist just a bit more.

Partly because I have a short waist at the best of times, partly for that babydoll look, and partly for the big ol’ maternity belly. In hindsight I should’ve probably lengthened the skirt to compensate, but oh well. It’ll be a good length once it doesn’t have to stretch over the twin belly.

The construction is pretty simple and this is really the easiest take on a shirtdress I’ve run across—and if you’re feeling lazy (which I was since I’m pretty exhausted these days) you can even skip the buttonholes and just sew the buttons on the front through all the placket layers. Although I’m already regretting that as it will limit the nursing-friendliness of the dress, so I’ll probably take the buttons off and put in proper buttonholes at some point. They’re not necessary for putting on and taking off the dress, though.

Hmm, pregnancy seems to have deleted my hips. The dress form shows the back view a bit better.

I also love that it has simple inseam pockets included. I’ve been regularly adding them to dresses in my classes, but it’s nice to not have to guess about it.

My mother found this cute little cast-iron chair and table set at an auction earlier this summer, and my father-in-law repaired and refinished the amazing bench. So now I’m having fun pretending that my front deck is a chic Parisian balcony overlooking a sophisticated French street.

I tried to take some closeups but this print absolutely eats detail, so they don’t look like much. I’m a fan of the “crushed gather” look, so all the gathers got pressed into crinkly minimalism. The amount of fullness in the bottom skirt ruffle is also minimal, which is good. I love how it gives the skirt just a bit of shape.

Now I just need some fancy coffee or something to sip while I look cute and sophisticated. Or at least cute.

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Class Samples: Fen Dress

Honestly? I’d never have looked twice at the Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen Dress pattern if Periwinkle Quilting didn’t have it in stock even before I first started teaching there. But things grow on you, and the skirt IS really cute, and I floated it as a possible class for this summer, maybe as an alternative to the Myosotis dress. I was pretty surprised when Patti decided to run both.

Also, I did not pick it with the expectation of being pregnant this summer. But it does work well for that, too.

So, fun features of the dress? I love the gently hi-lo hem. It’s probably exaggerated by my belly, but I’d rather that these days than have an even hem that rides up in front. Maybe everyone else in the world is over this trend, but I still like it. It is pretty short though–or maybe that’s just from my belly–but the bias-facing I used only eats up 1/4″ of length for the hem and I wouldn’t want it much shorter.

I love the pockets. I’ve been routinely helping my students add pockets to the dresses we make, but it’s especially nice when they’re included already.

I also like the scoop neckline (which is a little wide because I did not finish it as per the pattern instructions) and the small amount of fabric required. The pattern called for three yards, so I bought three mètres, but I actually had about .8 of a mètre left, plus a long skinny strip on one side that I partially used to make the ties.

I don’t like how huge the sleeves are, and when it’s done being a class sample I might raise the underarm by an inch or so (a pretty common alteration for me for this kind of cut-on sleeve.) in the pattern’s defense they are also longer than they should be since I went with a bias tape finish that only eats up 1/4″ of length. I think I will wear them cuffed up so the bias shows.

I added ties to the side, for improved adjustability and maternity-friendliness. They definitely help with that, but on the other hand they kind of anchor the dress in place which makes the arm movement a bit restricted, which is one of my pet peeves. It’s not terrible, but to raise your arms over your head the whole dress needs to move up, and it can’t when it’s tied.

Maximum arm lift without the entire dress shifting.

If I were going for a real maternity hack, I would raise the waist seam about an inch, so it sat a little closer to the underbust. And probably go up a size or two in the skirt front, though I also like the gentleness of the gathering.

My belly is definitely borrowing fabric from the back, making it sit not great across my butt. But, I don’t have to look at that part so I’m not going to sweat it.

In the end, it was a fun and quick sew and I think it will make for a fun class project. And not such a bad maternity dress, actually.

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