Category Archives: Sewing

Class Samples: Sew Over It Rosie Dress

In my head, I’m calling this the Into The Woods Dress.

Back last winter, when I first floated the notion of teaching a class for the Sew Over I Rosie Dress, I was envisioning a fun, maybe quirky sundress for myself. However, events occurred and this is not a particularly maternity-friendly style. So, when the time came to do up the sample (class is in July), I thought this woodsy set of coordinates would tickle Syo’s fancy. I think I was right. Or possibly she’s just humouring me.

I didn’t fussy cut the straps, so I was really happy with how the wolf and tree came out positioned on them.

To fit Syo, I made a size 10 with a small (1″ total) full bust adjustment. On trying it on her, though, I wound up taking the bodice in 1/4″ at each side seam. Given that Syo is still just shy of five foot tall, I made a couple of other adjustments, shaving off about 1/2″ at the bottom of the bodice and hemming the skirt up a full four inches. I shortened the straps a bunch as well.

The straps are really wide set on Syo’s frame (which surprised me as I tend to think of her as similar to me in build except shorter); I wound up moving the back straps quite a bit closer to the center, and would’ve moved the front if they weren’t already sewn down and understitched and graded and everything.

The pattern called for somewhere over 4m of fabric in the narrower width. With a bit of measuring I estimated that about three meters were needed for the skirt alone. However, it turned out the bolt of the wolves and trees print was divided right down the middle into two sections of about 2.6m each. So I took one of them home and resolved to Make It Work. I was fairly sure if I really ran short I could shorten the skirt an inch or two without causing a problem. Which in hindsight I could’ve, but I managed to squeak out all the pieces with only a little fudging, though there was no attempt to refine print placement. It is a pretty fun skirt, though, with subtle shaping and a front panel framed by pleats that’s just begging to be made in a contrast fabric.

Most of the angst came from the zipper for this project. Last summer I acquired (among other things) a “proper” invisible zipper foot. I’ve always installed them with a regular foot, and I feel most comfortable with that. But I thought I’d try using the proper foot, so I have more experience if any of my students bring one. Heh. My first pass was too far from the zipper teeth; a stripe of black zipper showed. So I adjusted my needle position, but I over-corrected and it was too close. It did up all right on its own, but when I tried to put it on the dress form, the zipper gave and then one half of the slide came right off.

I put the whole bloody thing away for several days at that point.

When I finally came back to it, I was able to get the zipper back into its track, only to promptly have it burst off again when I tried to put the dress on Syo. So I grumblingly unpicked the near-tooth row of stitching, and it seems to be working now, even if I’m not terribly trusting of it. And there’s that stripe of black in the back. I’m going to live with it. (Though I confess, I haven’t closed up the bodice lining yet, in case I do have to completely replace the zipper. Yeah, not laziness at all…)

In any case this was a fun pattern and project (though maybe a lapped zip would be a better plan). And I’m trying to remember the last time I made Syo an actual dress. Ok, this is why I blog. Are you ready for it?

2011.

I mean, she’s gotten any number of leggings, crop tops, sweaters, and Hallowe’en costumes in the meantime, but not a single dress. So I guess it was time.

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Me-Made May 2019: recap

So Me-Made May is finished! I guess I will be glad to get back those 30 seconds of photo-taking most mornings (I only missed one day), but it was kinda fun to document my gradual shift into maternity wear.

Some outfits were fond farewells.

Others were old standbys that will probably see me all the way through.

There was even one new maternity/nursing specific piece sundress.

Partway through the month I did a major wardrobe edit, resigning a sizable chunk of my (sizable) wardrobe to storage. This freed up closet-space and cut down on the frustration of digging around dozens of items that just don’t fit right now (frankly, some of them may never fit again but I’ll make that call in a year or two). But it was very weird to have only a few options left to get me through the rest of the month. I mean, I still did it and there are three or four pieces I didn’t even wear during the month, but it was weird.

Now that the month of peacocking is over, I’m excited to feel a little more relaxed about outfit repeats. There are dresses that I love that I won’t likely get more than a couple more wearing a in—I want to squeeze those out as soon as possible, without worrying about how long since I last wore them. I never meant to be a subscriber to the “no wardrobe repeats” mentality, but when I have as many clothes as I do now, ordinarily at least, I like to rotate and give everything a turn. But right now I just want to wear my favourites to death before they don’t fit.

That being said, I am definitely planning lots of dorky bump documentation. Selfies weren’t a thing last time I was pregnant, and I have only a very few photos of my first pregnancies.

Winter, 2000, probably about four months pregnant

Much as I might wish it, this does not document my everyday wear in my first pregnancy. (Though it does illustrate the chronic too-short-sleeve issue that led to me sewing my wardrobe in the first place.)

June, 2003. This was taken the day before Syo was born, actually while I was in the very early stages of labour.

Nor does it give me a record of bump growth. Not that my previous bumps were truly massive… I’m pretty sure the present twin bump will dwarf them both. Probably by the end of next month. Anyway, I’m thinking a weekly record, for my own curiosity if nothing else.

You can find the full record of all the Me Made May photos here, outtakes and derp-faces and all, or find it on my Instagram for a slightly more curated feed, with day-by-day commentary.

Anyway, I’m so glad I did it! What a fun way to grapple with my current wardrobe situation.

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Maternity quickie

In my first two pregnancies I had very little money for specialized maternity clothes, and got by largely on sundresses and gigantic overalls (having summer babies helped). So I never got to try out several popular maternity features—the tall jersey top for jeans and other pants, for one, and this gathered-front style shirt, for another. It seemed like a pretty simple hack, but never having an original garment to examine, I wasn’t sure. But when I read the hack instructions on the Maternity Sewing website’s blog, they were even simpler than I had imagined, and I really wanted to give it a try.

The fabric is a leftover from an old Fabricland project (a Gertie/Butterick B6031 slip) and is allegedly an organic cotton (I say allegedly because the fabric originally arrived labeled as “organic bamboo”, which it obviously was not. We got the correction a few days later but I remain dubious of the supplier’s competence). It’s not very thick, but supremely stretchy and comfy.

Well, I managed to stuff up the hack: can you see the chalked line where I was supposed to be removing the waist shaping, but just cut along the original pattern instead? The good news is thanks to the wonderful properties of spandex the resultant tank top works just fine anyway; I also didn’t go up a size or two as per the recommendations. My base was the Tuesday Stitches Tropo Camisole (it just occurred to me that Erin of Tuesday Stitches is one of the founders of Maternity Sewing). I just picked it because this has been my go-to tank top/cami pattern since its release last year. So basically all I did was extend the bottom of the front by five or six inches, and gather that to match the back.

I did include a simple shelf bra made out of self-fabric. It’s not super supportive (did I mention this is really stretchy fabric?) but in a world where none of my bras currently fit (and I’m not likely to take up jogging or trampoline in the near future) it does the trick. It took a bit of futzing to get the length right, but I’m pretty happy with it now.

I should confess that it’s not entirely done, and I’ve been wearing it all day anyway. I need to shorten the straps a bit and decide how I want to hem it.

All in all I’m really happy, though. This was a simple project, a simple modification, and its produced a very comfy, easy-to-wear garment. I don’t know that I need a million of them, but one or two to get me through the summer probably wouldn’t be amiss. I don’t want to create a massive maternity-specific wardrobe that won’t adapt after, but I also don’t want to feel like I’m wearing the same two or three sacks again and again. (See above about my first two maternity wardrobes)

I guess at some point I should try making baby clothes. I’m really not feeling it though.

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Class Samples: Ogden Cami

Verdict: Surprisingly delightful

So the Ogden Cami, by True Bias, has to be about as well known as the Grainline Archer, as an indie pattern archetype. It’s simple, elegant, and seems to always look amazing. On the other hand, it’s SO simple, I always figured I had something (probably several somethings) with very similar lines. And I probably do, but I highly doubt they have the subtle bust shaping in the side seams it turns out this pattern has. And the gentle V neckline really is basically perfect.

Apparently I should’ve pressed a little better, but it’s rayon. It’s going to wrinkle.

Can you see my French seam at the side? No? Oh well. They turned out very nice indeed. In fact, the only thing I used the serger for on this make was the bottom of the half-lining.

I made a straight size 8, which accommodates both my current bust and my current belly surprisingly well. I didn’t even have to shorten the shoulder straps.

I did experiment with cutting out the pattern with my rotary cutter, basically my first attempt at such a feat. I am not particularly adept at it, so I don’t think I was really any better off than cutting with scissors, but it’s definitely something I’m willing to play around more with, at least for things that are small enough to fit on my cutting mat. I used a ruler to help me cut out the rectangles for the shoulder straps, and that was definitely a win.

You can barely even see my sixteen-week-pregnant belly!

I can actually see making this again, and even again and again. It’s small and simple enough to make as a gift, and it’s a great way to use a tiny amount of an exquisite fabric. Also simple enough that the annoyance of working with a slippery or shifty fabric doesn’t become totally overwhelming. And while I know some people find the half-lining odd, I like it as a compromise between a full lining, which could be hot and bulky in a summery top, and no lining, which can have show-through issues in some light-weight fabrics.

Because it’s virtually impossible to tell the front from the back of this pattern (either in construction or once it’s finished), I hunted along the printed selvedge of this Art Gallery Fabrics rayon for a good chunk, and cut out the bit that said “Legendary” to make a tag. My pinking shears are terrible and kind of made a mess of the edges, but I’m sure after a wash it’ll all be much the same anyway.

Anyway, I’m definitely charmed by this pattern, and excited to be teaching a class on it this summer. It’s simple enough for a beginner, but also a great opportunity to level up your skills working with fine finishes or a trickier fabric. I’m very tempted to go digging through my seldom-touched “fine fabrics” for the next version….

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Does this dress make me look pregnant?

I gotta tell ya, there’s a level at which I REALLY enjoy the few moments of life when that isn’t a relevant question. Because quite a few of my favourite styles of clothing, um, make me look pregnant. Even when I’m not. I love empire-waisted dresses, including ones with gathered skirts. So, while pregnant seemed like the perfect chance to indulge that love.

This pattern was a recent donation(among many, many others) from a friend of my mother’s. Thank you, Bernie! We all know I’m a sucker for 70s dresses, and I have a bad case of sundress-on-the-brain, so this was an easy thing to gravitate towards. I have had NO energy for the last several months, but finally just in the last week or so I’ve had a tiny bit of extra jam in the evenings, enough to very, very slowly piece this dress together over the course of the last couple of weeks.

The pattern is in a size 12, which WAS my size, but is now a good three or four inches small. At its core it’s a simple princess seam empire bodice with a lightly gathered tiered skirt; there are some cute ties across the bust, though I almost skipped them. I made quite a few mods on this first version to be more maternity friendly—I prepped a shirred panel to cut the back piece from, and after some measuring made a small FBA on the front.

For this particular dress I just used a simple gathered rectangle for the skirt, to take advantage of the border embroidery of my fabric. And it’s probably more full than it needs to be, or would need to be if it weren’t going to be going over twins.

I feel like this is about how big I’ll be by August.

The front hem will certainly go on lifting as the belly expands, but I’m cool with that. It’s a bit long as it is.

I thought that the front tie provided an opportunity to try out some kind of a nursing access point for the sundress. I never had any nursing-specific clothing with my first two pregnancies, and I did plenty of nursing, so I’m a bit sceptical about the value of such mods, but I thought I’d give it a try, at least.

I basically just sewed the CF panel separately from the side front panels + ties, and then lapped the pieces and tacked them at top and bottom. If the ties are tied everything stays securely in place, and if you untie, you can fold it back and access the slit. In theory the other side will stay closed, though if it becomes an issue I can see adding some kind of a belt-loop in the middle to keep the non-nursing side in place. As I said, we’ll see. That particular feature isn’t likely to be tested until next summer, anyway.

So between the FBA and the little bit I added at the side seam and then the stretchy back, I actually had to take in the side seams, an inch at the under-arm tapering to more like 1 cm at the bottom of the bodice (tricky to do because I made the whole thing very clean-finished inside, pretty to look at but not exactly easy to alter, especially when one of your layers is on the bias. It’s not super pretty up close. I’m very curious to make this without the stretchy back at some point just to see how it would compare. The (2 cm) FBA gave a LOT of projection in the boob area, rather more than I currently need, but it’s somewhat adjustable by tightening the ties, so it seems to work. I’m not sure if I’d do it again, though. And my boobs are likely to get bigger before they get smaller again.

I used my favourite gathering-with-dental-floss method, using a cording foot from a set I bought last summer to keep the dental floss snug in the middle while I zig-zagged over it. This definitely makes it a more foolproof method. I finished the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt separately so I can take the skirt off and re-adjust if I want fewer gathers later, though attaching the gathered skirt to the shirred back was kinda hell so I’m not sure I’ll wanna try that again.

All in all I think it’s a pretty cute experiment. I feel like the proportions might be better if the bodice was slightly longer, but on the other hand since my belly starts right below my boobs, I don’t think that would really work very well right now. So it is what it is; i may try styling with an elastic belt below the bust to see how that looks. But for maternity wear, I think I’m pretty happy with it.

Now if only it would get warm enough to wear it!

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Class samples: Jalie Tee

I wanted to teach a basic tee shirt class this summer, and Jalie seemed the obvious choice. Their basic fitted tee pattern, 2805, has a few different cute necklines (even if none is the scoop neck I prefer), and I felt pretty confident that the sizing and drafting would be good. I’m not sure if this sweet floral is really “me,” but it makes for a beautiful sample.

Everything is taking me a really long time to make right now, but this was still a pretty simple, quick sew, aside from how spread out over days the process was. I often just wing my neckband pieces, but I used the Jalie pattern piece here and of course it’s perfect. Neckbands on V-necks need to be a bit more precise, IMO, so a good pattern piece is worth it here.

Speaking of V necks, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

The one thing I would change on the pattern is that the sleeve pattern piece is cut on the fold. I prefer a full sleeve piece, even if it’s symmetrical, so I can cut out the pair all at once (I feel the same way about collar and yoke pieces for shirts). But it’s easy to make that change at the tracing stage.

I did not raise the underarm on this version, as I often don’t need to in Jalie patterns, but I think I would lift it just slightly in the future. There’s a balance in underarm fitting between mobility and wrinkles, but I tend to lean to the mobility side, wrinkles be damned.

I did the twin needling on the Rocketeer, where I had to relearn the “always test!” lesson again… for only the millionth time. Ah well. After some unpicking and careful testing of stitch length (longer), presser foot pressure (light but not too light or the fabric doesn’t advance well), and tension, I finally got good results. And yes, I used Steam-a-Seam in the hems.

Now does the shirt fit me? Well, I made my current size, which is U grading to V at the waist and hips. And it’s good, or would be good if the bump weren’t bursting forth at a rate that makes me think of those supernatural movie pregnancies where the woman gives birth within the space of days.

But I can definitely do a maternity bump hack on the next one.

Happy sewing!

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Going around again

Because I wasn’t doing anything else with the next twenty years of my life, right?

Our family at present

At the end of February, I had a lapse in birth control. I needed to renew my prescription, I was sick, the weather was terrible, surely a few weeks off the pill wouldn’t come to anything. I’m thirty-eight. The time in life when people work for months if not years to get pregnant. (Yes, I can hear you laughing already)

A few weeks later, my breasts were sore and I couldn’t sleep. Then I was sick (exhausted and nauseous) for a week. I finally made it to the pharmacist for my birth control. It’s so nice that they can prescribe that now! As a precaution, I picked up a pregnancy test. Just in case.

My husband spotted it when I got home and had a little bit of a freak-out. “Take it now!”

“It’s just a precaution, babe.”

“Now now now!”

I went into the bathroom. The second line showed up basically instantly. It doesn’t necessarily count though. You have to wait one to three minutes.

I left the stick in the bathroom and set a timer. Syo (who will be sixteen shortly) got home from school.

The timer went off and we rushed into the bathroom. Two lines, definitely.

“Does that mean pregnant?”

“Yes, that means pregnant.”

“Syo!!!!!! Get in here!!!!”

So that was it. No discussion. No backing out, no second thoughts. Barring unforeseen complications, we’re having a baby. Sometime in November or early December.

A few weeks later I had seen a doctor and booked an ultrasound, and an assortment of other tests. Last time I was pregnant, I was blithely confident that complications were things that happened to other people. This time, I feel like one of the people complications happen to.

A few days ago I had an ultrasound. We’re hoping to improve my rather shaky dates. I’ve never had an early routine ultrasound before—it didn’t occur to me to get any prenatal care with Tyo, other than taking vitamins, until I was twenty weeks along. With Syo I wound up in the ER with heavy bleeding at nine weeks. The only thing I remember from that ultrasound was watching to see if there was still a heartbeat.

This routine ultrasound took a while. At one point the technician had to add a second squirt of goop. I found myself watching her face, wondering if I’d be able to tell if something was wrong. I’m not the best at reading people.

At last she said “ok, we’re ready to give you a look. Now, just so you’re prepared, do you have any history of twins in your family?”

And yes, then she showed me not one, but two little bodies in their little sacs.

In case you’re not quite up on the magnitude of this fuck up, my last baby will be turning sixteen this summer. My first baby will be nineteen, the age I was when she was born, when I give birth to her little siblings. Last time I was pregnant, I was twenty-two, and by twenty-nine I was thinking I wouldn’t want to put my body through that again.

We were always the young parents. That has its downsides—we were poor, unstable, very limited in our means. On the other hand, we were young, energetic, with vivid memories of our own childhood to draw on.

In many ways, our situation now is much better. Older, wiser, definitely more financially stable, if not exactly wealthy. I will have maternity leave from my grown up job—a year’s worth, and while my husband hasn’t been able to work outside the home for several years, he’ll be able to look after a small child or two when I go back to work. There are a lot of good things about us having a baby now, and while we’re no longer young, we’re not catastrophically old either.

If it weren’t for the part of my brain that keeps complaining that we were nearly done. The kids are nearly grown. I thought the next baby in my life would be a grand baby. WTF. I’m supposed to finally be experiencing adulthood that isn’t also parenthood, or at least, is the less-intensive (though maybe no less terrifying) tail off of parenting grown children. However, that’s only one part of my brain, and the other parts are pretty excited about another grand adventure. Those are not the logical bits, mind you.

The girls are happy. They’ve been campaigning for a younger sibling since they were old enough to articulate the concept. My husband is happy. Even my mom is happy. (My Dad, bless his heart, said essentially the same thing he did when I told him I was pregnant the first time: “Why?” Thanks, Dad.)

On the downside, exhaustion has sapped my sewjo big time. I have barely done anything except occasionally go down to the sewing room to putter. I still have to finish my quilt. I also have some class samples to do so I’m sure I’ll get to those. Right now I’m using Me Made May to take stock of what in my wardrobe will function for pregnancy (early and late) and nursing and there may be some desperation sewing later on if this bump keeps expanding at such a prodigious rate. I’d like to say I’ll be up for some cute baby sewing at some point… we’ll see. Especially since apparently now I’ll need two of everything?

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