(A birth story. Don’t read if you don’t want gory, nitty-gritty details.)
(A birth story. Don’t read if you don’t want gory, nitty-gritty details.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Anyway, I’m so glad I did it! What a fun way to grapple with my current wardrobe situation.
Because I wasn’t doing anything else with the next twenty years of my life, right?
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?
I’m in the throes of a Big Project (TM) that is eating my brain and possibly driving me crazy. Did I mention making a suit jacket for my uncle? Yes? I wish I hadn’t. Anyway, I’m not quite ready to dive into that pile of angst yet, but suffice it to say, I needed a break from it.
So today, when I found myself in the sewing room at 8 am on a Sunday morning, with no children in the house and a husband sleeping on the living room couch, I found myself puttering.
First, in a bit of a landmark move, I went through my two giant bins of scraps (plus accessory bags and piles), stuffing the smaller and uglier into my pouf.
Wait, I hadn’t mentioned my pouf! After Closet Case Patterns blogged about their scrap-stuffed pouf pattern, I made one. But I hadn’t really tried to stuff it yet.
Over the course of a couple of hours the pouf went from empty to maybe 3/4 full, and the scraps went from two bins, two grocery bags, and several other piles, to one (albeit rather full) bin.
It’s a New Years miracle! Freeing up a bin allowed me to pack up some more of the ambient fabric, and actually reorganize the bins a bit, so I was able to get several more bins off the floor and into the wall of stacked bins.
I cut out and sewed up a quick pair of Watson bikinis, a remnant from a piece a friend in Atlanta sent me yoinks ago, which I made into some early loungewear that I’ve since dyed a rather muted purple grey. I’d kinda forgotten how neon the original colour was.
I fussed around a bit more with the jacket.
I swept the floor.
And then, after some pleasant digging through my freshly re-ordered bins, I whipped up a second Blackwood Cardigan. The first on I made, for my birthday, has been in heavy rotation ever since, only limited by the fact that a subset of my outfits don’t work with a burgundy cardigan.
Now I gotta say, the wool I used the first time was a FAR better fabric. This time I picked this pretty piece of knit jacquard, which came in as a factory remnant. The factory remnants Fabricland gets are generally pretty inexpensive, and I guess they’re a “sustainable” option since you’re using fabric that would otherwise go straight to a dump—but they can be pretty rank. They usually seem to be bits the factory has cut around because of staining or some other flaw.
This particular piece had large yellow hand-writing at one end (fortunately on the wrong side) and a linear flaw in the jacquard all down one side, not to mention being cut wildly off grain. The fabric itself is nothing special, either, highly synthetic and pretty much guaranteed to snag almost instantly. But, very pretty.
I was just barely able to squeeze the main body pieces out of the patterned fabric—with only a bit of the flaw along the edge of the sleeve, where it’s very hard to notice.
I was lucky enough to find a bit of black sweaterknit of a similar weight and quality to make the bands and pockets. They’re both very soft and squishy fabrics, so getting the pocket square, even with steam-a-seam to fuse it in place, was kinda a lost cause. But I’d rather have wobbly pockets than no pockets.
I’m sad (but not surprised) to report that, while very pretty and comfy, it’s definitely not as warm as my wool version. But it was simple and reliable and quick, which is everything the ongoing project is not, and sometimes a dose of simple is exactly what you need.
‘Tis the season for introspection and reflection and looking back on the year. Not really my forte, but I have a wee bit more time on my hands than previous year-ends, and maybe this will distract me enough to slow down my rampant Christmas chocolate binging.
A lot changed this year, and not much. We live in the same house (our first full year as homeowners. My husband has not left me over it. Yet.) with the same kids and the same cats. Tyo graduated high school and got her driver’s license and a job. Syo struggled through grade 9, had a summer of epic highs and lows, but dove into grade 10 with a determination and involvement that makes me feel like she’s figuring things out. Teenagers are wonderful but also exhausting.
Midway through the year, I lost my Fabricland job when my store was closed down, which was a big personal and financial adjustment. While I’ve enjoyed having more time to devote to my health and my family and mainly to just existing, financially it’s been tricky, and I desperately miss many of the people I worked with. I was incredibly lucky to have been able to ramp up my teaching at Periwinkle Quilting once my evenings were no longer full of Fabricland—it’s much more fun than just selling fabric, and I THINK it’s exactly what I want to do in terms of my sewing “career”—but there are pretty firm limits to how much they can fit me in to their schedule, so it will never be the kind of second income Fabricland was. Which is okay, too. It’s been really nice having some time to just… be. I’ve been trying to let myself enjoy it.
As for my sewing this year… it wasn’t exactly exploring brave new frontiers, but there were some highlights.
The obvious one is Tyo’s grad dress, which I’m inordinately proud of. Because it fit her so well, and had all the features she wanted (including removable overskirt and pockets), and also because I made my own lace for the short skirt.
With my sewing no longer dominated by Fabricland projects, I got to dip my toes into sewing more indie patterns. Some for fun, like the York Pinafore above, others for teaching purposes, like the Merchant and Mills Trapeze Dress.
I struggle a bit with the teaching samples. The patterns I choose to teach are not necessarily things I really want to wear—many patterns are picked for simplicity or popularity, and while I try to stick with things that can be made from fabrics available at Periwinkle, it’s still a quilting store and the range of fabrics I’m interested in is just, um, smaller. Especially since I’m not the biggest prints person.
I made the third in a trilogy of progressively larger little coats for my best friend’s daughter. Everything about it felt pretty epic, from the mysterious vintage pattern to the quilted lining. I had a lot of fun with that.
And I have to go off about my print-matching on my Hallowe’en dress, because it was epic.
Even if you can’t actually see it in this picture.
Just before Christmas, in between annoying present sewing, I indulged in some serious velvet, making a slip and stockings and a few other quick and luxurious pieces. Velvet is on trend this year and I’m all over that.
The biggest fail of the year was these gorgeous black linen cargo pants I made for my husband.
I failed to fit them properly (standard changes for my husband I should’ve known to make but didn’t) and then compounded that by hemming them too short. The construction was awesome. I could attempt some alterations, but most of my topstitching was done with a triple stitch, and I haven’t been able to face the hours and hours of unpicking any alterations will require.
Looking toward the future, I’ll be making a blazer for my uncle, hopefully in time for Robbie Burns Day. I’m thinking I should make myself something similarly tailored in parallel, so I feel more excited about the project, because right now I’m dreading it.
I’m also tempted to make a walking skirt, a long wrap-skirt of coating to keep my legs warmer than my winter coat does. Yes, I’m still thinking winter sewing. I’ve got at least three months to go, though it hasn’t been a hard winter here so far.
I’m in a bit of a transition with my style and sewing, I think. Body changing (even as I’m hoping to reverse some of that with some more time for exercise next year) and the twilight of my 30s, plus my work being less outward-facing (except for teaching) has me thinking differently about both what’s flattering and what I want to project. I’m not feeling the silly, girly retro dresses as much as I was, nor the “sexy secretary ” stuff. I kind of hate to even admit that, because I love those styles.
On the other hand, I know even long before sewing I would wax and wane in my over-dressing, going through periods of wearing eveningwear to work, and other periods that were strictly jeans-and-T-shirts. And that’s ok too.
So bring it on, 2019—we’ll see what you got!
Ok, that was really fun.
I decided for my birthday this year I wanted to have a sewing day, since I now have a (moderately) spacious house and a gigantic dining room table. I invited a few friends (ok, mainly former co-workers), laid out my giant cardboard cutting mat on the dining room table, and brought my main sewing machine and serger up to the kitchen table.
I even cleaned my iron, which was a whole other adventure as I nearly killed it in the process. But the sole plate hasn’t been this clean since a month after I got it, so that’s good. (The process involved vinegar, salt, toothpaste, a little bit of heat, and a LOT of scrubbing. The near-death happened when I was trying to rinse all that guck off. I think water got inside somewhere it shouldn’t’ve. But it seems to be working again now so fingers crossed. )
My friends brought various projects, mainly handwork (one seam ripping), and I displayed my lack of millennial skills by getting absolutely NO pictures of everyone. So have some dark after shots instead. (Dawn, if you’re reading this, you forgot your fabric!)
There is one shot of me and Cee at the machines, taken by a friend, where I have a derpy face.
But what did I make, you ask?
I decided, at long last, to tackle the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet.
This is one of those patterns that I was originally going to take a pass on. I’m not a fan of sweaters that don’t close, and it seemed easier to hack a similar style from my knit sloper. But, as cute versions kept popping up in my feed, I was more and more intrigued by the band construction. I wanted to take a look at the instructions. And I felt guilty shamelessly copying the style. I mean, it’s simple, but I didn’t think of it on my own. So when Helen had a sale sometime last spring, I bit, mainly for the instructions.
Of course, once you own the pattern, you might as well try it out, right? Save yourself redrafting all those rectangles and figuring out how much shorter to make the neck-band so it doesn’t gape.
So anyway, I printed the pattern the morning of my birthday, stuck it together after people arrived (a great activity for visiting)
Once I had it taped, I compared it with my knit sloper, and was very pleasantly surprised with the similarities—identical shoulder width, similar sleeve-cap and high armscye, just enough extra width in the sleeve for it to be a sweater, not a shirt. So aside from squaring the shoulders slightly and lengthening the sleeves about 4 cm, I cut out a straight size medium.
My fabric is technically a mystery jersey from a random group at Fabricland last spring. I got it because I was pretty convinced it was wool or a wool blend, and now having ironed it I’m pretty sure I’m correct. (I love the sheepy smell of wool when you steam it.) I thought it would be a good choice for a cardigan since it won’t need to be laundered as much. I steam-shrunk in my dryer, which is my preferred method of pre-treating wool although I confess I can’t completely recall how much subsequent laundering any of those things have had.
Anyway, I’m pretty thrilled with my result. I love the slim fit. I love the longer length. (I may have to make a floor-length version) I love the pockets, although I’m not totally in love with my application of them—but that’s a separate issue.
I do still wish it closed. I might add some kind of a loop and button, like the sweater I made my aunt last Christmas.
I could possibly make the shoulder a little more square—there’s a tiny back-neck bubble still—and the sleeves might be a little long now. But that’s how I like them, and if there is any further shrinking from laundering, I’ve got a bit of insurance, anyway. (And looking at the line drawings they’re supposed to be extra-long and slouchy, so there!)
But especially, I really, really, really like sewing with friends.