this post is total filler

Hey look, I drew a thing during a meeting:


I signed up for this blogpact thing with my friend Kathleen and some other people I mostly haven’t met. The idea is to blog once a week and encourage each other to keep up with it, or something. I’m already behind, so we’re off to an auspicious start.

Three more random things:

  • This is a perfect summary of why I haven’t done much with wearable electronics, even though they really ought to be right up my alley. There’s a lot more I could say on this. Someday.
  • The Law of Jante is apparently a thing in Sweden. Interesting cultural thing I had no idea about. (Also maybe Scandinavia isn’t just a paradise of paid maternity leave after all.) I first ran into this here, and then had lots of interesting discussions about it with my coworker who married a Swede.
  • This is a really great podcast about the history of American housing policy. Lots of (mostly pretty terrible and racist) things I didn’t know actually happened. I should really learn more 20th century history.

get the look: space pirate fashion

I recently watched this episode of Star Trek, and it made me think: really, why wouldn’t you want to dress like a space pirate? Seriously: the clothes are comfortable and practical to move in, but still look totally badass.

Some space pirates of note (click to enbiggen):

  • Okona (from the episode)
  • okona

  • Han Solo
  • HanSolo

  • mal reynolds/anyone from Firefly
  • mal22ht7

  • riddick
  • riddick-2013

  • many, many anime characters
  • Honorable mention since he’s not a space pirate but whatever: Rufio
  • RufioDying

Note that these are all dudes. But Zoe from Firefly proves that women can also pull off pretty much this exact look:

See also Cation Design’s Genderbent Han Solo costume. This zombie space pirate is also pretty good.

So what makes one look like a space pirate? Probably most of all a swagger and a devil-may-care attitude. A touch of cyberpunk, a touch of Old West. But if we want to get specific, it pretty much comes down to this:

  • vests
  • gun belts
  • fwooshy coat

All of which I can totally make. This could totally be adapted to a streetwear look (at least, streetwear for me. Maybe not for other people) or done up as a full-on costume. I’m not sure which way I want to go. Probably both! Costume details in everyday clothing can definitely make them more fun. In any case, I am a big nerd and enjoy plotting sewing based on science fiction or random media (comic books are a big one) rather than the latest issue of Vogue.

I’ve been pondering a lot about the balance of practical sewing vs. fun crazy sewing. On the one hand it’s awesome to use my sewing skills to get basics that really fit, but it’s boring to only sew those things. I’m definitely planning more projects on the “unique and possibly super weird” side coming up. The line between “regular” clothes and costume pieces in my wardrobe is often kind of blurry, so it doesn’t need to be totally either-or. And since I sewed a lot of basics – t-shirts, underwear, etc. – in 2013, it’s probably about time for something more frivolous!

Presidio Purse

So now that Seamstress Erin has released her Presidio Purse Pattern, I can post about this purse!


I made the purse the first couple weeks of December, and then road tested it on my post-Christmas trip to Arizona. It was great! The thing is huge (seriously, I could fit my kid inside – see Erin’s announcement post for a better sense of scale) and worked great for travel. It was capacious enough to fit the pirate adventure kit along with my kindle, toys and snacks for the toddler, spare clothes, a magazine, and a couple of water bottles. The inside pockets kept my phone and keys from getting totally lost. Plus the handle happened to be the perfect length to hang over the handles of our (super lightweight, no bells and whistles) stroller when rolling through the airport.


The fabric is the leftovers from my Tron skirt. The fabric wound up being a little on the light side, so if I made this again I’d interface the body as well as the handle. (To Erin’s credit, she actually recommends this, but I thought my fabric was thick enough that it wouldn’t be a big deal.) I added piping, which definitely helped the design lines pop. I ran out of the green towards the end, so I used blue for the handle holder bits. I think it looks okay? The neon green zipper also make me very happy.


The floor shot gives you a better sense of what the purse looks like laying flat. It’s big!

Anyway, I totally recommend the pattern if you’re thinking of making a bag this year. I was a little uncertain initially about whether I’d use it much, but after traveling with it I’m SOLD. It’s a great shape and size, and there are a ton of possibilities for future versions. You can check out the flickr pool to see what other people have made. I really want to try a leather version!


final tally (and stashbusting sewalong followup)

This is mostly for my benefit, and mostly numbers. I’m not going to put in a ton of links, but you can look at my completed projects archive for details.

  • (Woven) shirts for me: 2 (burda shirt, tiny pocket tank)
  • Skirts for me: 4 (tron, bicycle, green linen, grey plaid)
  • T-shirts for me: 5 (purple, rainbow, black & white stripe, neon stripe, finger shirt)
  • Dresses for me: 3 (red velvet pink & gray, tiramisu – all Cake Patterns!)
  • Leggings: 4 (grey stripe, black & white stripe, dragonscale, purple stripe)
  • Underwear: 1
  • Tank tops: 5 (purple, black with green, black with purple, black with silver, black with black)
  • Pants for Tom: 2 (cow pants, patchwork pants)
  • Fancy stuff for Tom: 1 (vest)
  • Shirts for Tom: 4 t-shirts, one button-down (red & stripe, red & blue, red & orange, green & blue, negroni)
  • For Izzy: 6 (cow pants, orange pants, upcycled sweater, skull onesie (fail), rainbow coat, dino costume)
  • Quilts: 2 (Finn, Miro)
  • Bags: 2 (pirate adventure kit, presidio purse)
  • Knitting: 3 (elf hat, orange scarf, tom armwarmers)
  • Failed project: 1 (darling ranges dress)

Total: 45 projects! Roughly 20 of them (in italics) were all or mostly stash fabrics, so I’ve fulfilled my Stashbusting pledge to make twelve things from stash fabric. Thanks to Cation and EmSewCrazy for organizing this thing! I certainly bought fabric this year, so it’s probably a wash in terms of total stuff owned. But I dug out some awesome fabrics and followed up on some plans that had been lingering for a loooong time, so that’s pretty cool!

45 is actually way more things than I thought I’d made, probably because a lot of it wasn’t clothes for me, and a lot of what I made for me didn’t work out. But still! I learned tons about sewing and feel like I’m in much better shape to make lots of things I will wear in the new year.

There’s definitely a balance to be struck between “Just jump in and make something already, don’t horde the special fabric” and actually planning things out so that I’ll be in love with the final product. I really like embellishments like piping or contrast cuffs/facings etc., but I didn’t do many of them this year in an effort to not be too precious about things. In 2014 I’m hoping to make more detailed garments, and do more of the custom stuff that make them special. The “design” phase of my makes needs to get longer and be more involved. Historically I’ve been terribly disorganized about this part, so we’ll see how it goes!

year in review


Merry Christmas! Here’s a quick rundown of my projects for this thing over here. And some reflections!

Top 5 Hits:

  • Various spousal-unit t-shirts. I made four, and he wears them all the time. He’s wearing one now! These were a big hit.
  • My blue burda button down. This hasn’t been worn in a bit since it’s gotten colder, but during the summer I wore it CONSTANTLY. It fits wonderfully, and works great as a lightweight coverup.
  • Baby quilt with sharks. I have no idea if they use this much, but it makes me very happy.
  • Cow pants. Silly and happy-making.
  • Izzy’s dinosaur costume. This was by far my most popular make. So many delighted comments. The cute one-year-old helps.

Top 5 Misses:

  • Both red velvet dresses. (Another one, unblogged, pictured here.) I wanted these to be at least wearable muslins, but the reality is that they each need a good 3-4″ of additional front bust length. I can’t fake that, and I hate the seam across my boobs.
  • This summer concert tee. The orange clashed with my hair, and on reflection I just can’t handle the butt-mullet effect on this pattern. I made another version in a black and white stripe, same issue. I want to love them, but I don’t.
  • This unblogged purple t-shirt. You can’t see in the photo, but the neckline was way too wide and it’s unwearable.
  • Green linen skirt. Doesn’t have room for my ass, not quite the shade of green I was going for, and too short in back. Next time, I will mark my hems.
  • This Darling Ranges dress I never even finished. It doesn’t fit, it will never fit, best to give up now.

The reflection part:

  • I wasn’t very happy with most of the things I sewed for myself. (And honestly, I just put that blue shirt on there so there’d be something for me in the top 5 list.) There are lots of reasons for this: learning about fit, attempting challenging projects, trying to use up fabric that maybe should have just been given away, and having a post-partum body that’s been changing shape and size over the course of the year (I started with a two-month old and now have a 14-month old.)
  • But I made a bunch of awesome things for other people! And more importantly, I learned a great deal about construction techniques, fitting and generally leveled up my sewing skills something fierce. I feel pretty good about that.
  • I made a lot of things, especially in the first half of the year. This is great from a leveling-up-skills standpoint, but…
  • Most of them aren’t in my wardrobe anymore. So probably I should slow down and go for quality over quantity.
  • My stash has probably grown this year, but mostly with to-be-upcycled clothing. I should probably either start sewing with it, or ditch it. I like the idea of upcycling, but I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach on that one.

Inspirations is a whole separate post, so let’s save that for later.

Finally, goals:

  • Sew more for me! I don’t want to stop sewing for spousal unit and childtron, but I’m happy to shift the focus a bit more in my own direction.
  • Make muslins. I’ve historically skipped this, but with my new bra size I really just can’t get away with it anymore. I need to do a full bust adjustment, sloped shoulder adjustment, and probably a few others on most patterns, which means taking my time on fitting makes a HUGE difference.
  • Sew everyday dresses. I need to figure out what this means – knit vs. shirt dress vs. pinafore and so on, but these are the projects that I get the most wear out of and really appreciate having made.
  • Sew some more costumey fun stuff. I love dressing up, and I want to do more of it. And I like projects that are about bringing an image to life, whether it’s from media or just from my head.
  • Make a coat. This seems like a fun challenge, and would let me tackle lots of new skills along the way.

baby fort

When we bought our house, it came with a lot of very interesting details. Among them was this built-in in the dining room.

dining room

This isn’t original to the house – it was added by the previous owner, and he never finished building it. The drawers don’t actually work, and the lower half is just an empty box. An empty box that, it turns out, my toddler LOVED climbing inside.

Rather than block it off with doors or something, I decided to run with this.

He looooves hiding in here.

And climbing in and out.

I fit inside too. Barely.

This was a really simple project. I built a basic frame with some 1x2s (and 1x4s for the front/top) and a piece of plywood. And a lot of wood screws.
The frame isn’t attached to the cabinet (I didn’t want to damage the finish on the wood) or cross-braced, it’s just a snug fit inside the cubby.

The fronts are just two pieces of 1/4″ masonite that I cut with a jigsaw, sanded and spray-painted. They’re also anchored with wood screws.

The fort is also quite popular with visiting four-year-olds, so I anticipate getting a number of years of play out of it. We may add some lighting (LED fairy lights), or drill more holes for the sheer joy of dropping things. But it’s pretty awesome as-is. Home: IMPROVED.

cow pants

When I met my husband, he owned a pair pants that we affectionately referred to as “the cow pants”. They were a pair of black-and-white camo army BDUs, with all the cargo pockets and whatnot. Then Tom hiked part of the Appalachian trail, he lost 30 pounds in a summer, and the cow pants passed out of our lives. Despite their absence, we still joked about them.

Then a few things happened. First, I found this pattern:


I think I’ve seen an episode or two of project runway, but not enough to explain this. “Suede” has a very special website. He also has some truly amazing pattern copy run on sentences. E.g. “We realize that not everyone rocks the same style, with that in mind, Suede put that at the forefront when designing for you.” It goes on for a while after that. And he signs off with “All my love. xoxox”. It’s…unique. Despite this, it’s a pretty solid pattern, and I’ll likely use it again. I think I got it at a Joann’s sale for $2, so not bad.

The second thing was coming across some black and white camo print denim. IT WAS MEANT TO BE!

And so this happened.

Serious parenting version.

There are lots of pockets and topstitching and everything.

I made basically no modifications out of the envelope. Tom likes a more relaxed fit, which these are. While they could probably fit him better, he would probably rebel if I tried to make him wear something tight. So while I did do a fair amount of basting to check stuff, I didn’t actually change anything fit-wise. I did add some side/thigh pockets though. Just patch pockets, no pocket flaps. This was for looks as much as anything. The pants just seemed to need something there (even though they’re basically invisible in these pictures because CAMOUFLAGE).


The one complaint is the pockets, which have a fairly dramatically slanted opening. Great for resting your hands in, not so great for keeping your cellphone from getting stolen on the subway (ask me how I know). So that’ll be changing for the next version.


These pants are unquestionably ridiculous, but he totally wears them all the time. I finished them months ago, but it took a while before they were clean on a day we could take photos. And then I procrastinated forever on actually posting about them.


Which turns out to be a good thing. You see, I had a fair amount of fabric left over from making the pants. And then there was this free skinny jeans pattern from Titchy Threads. And I’m mildly insane and want to put time into making pants complete with half-fly, back yoke, pockets and belt loops for my toddler. So this happened.


Here they are on the toddler, but you can’t see as well.

And behind.

Pocket detail.

The thing that really almost killed me was the adjustable elastic waistband. But I did it, and I’m glad – this feature really does add longevity to kids clothes, and I’ll be adding it to future projects for sure. These are a size 2T, and Izzy was about 12 months when I finished them. But I can roll up the cuffs and adjust the waistband, and they work quite well. I’m hoping for a lot of wear out of these given how much work I put into them.

And now, matching outfits.