More Tunics

I’ve more or less given up on wearing pants at this point. I have maternity jeans and wear them occasionally, but most of the time they just feel like way too much work.  Leggings and tunics or dresses are the way to go! So I’m plotting more of those. It turns out I’ve amassed quite a few potential patterns. 

  • The Painted Portrait Dress – already made this once, so I can dial in the fit quickly. Unfortunately I’m really not loving how shapeless it is, so it’s probably not top of the list.
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  • The Washi Dress – shirring across the back sounds super comfortable right now. Probably worth a try, although careful fabric choice will be key to avoid a very homemade vibe. 
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  • The Mississippi Avenue Dress – got this as part of a pattern bundle. I’d likely have to add some width, but seems workable? And the seam lines are interesting. 
    107COVER for web site
  • Copying this dress I already own. I’ve been wearing this a lot, but it’s starting to get too short in the front. It’s a very simple shape, so I’m guessing this would be a quick make. 
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  • This pattern I made up in my first pregnancy. That dress isn’t particularly flattering, but it’s comfortable. I think a lighter/drapier fabric would help. 
    new dress/20 weeks
  • Ditto this one or this one. I still have the gray dress but don’t love it. Maybe the pattern (a 90s Laura Ashley number) has possibilities though?
    35 weeks, 3 days
  • This pattern has lots of options for variations. And I do still wear the pink dress with some frequency. 
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  • One of the patterns from the Stylish Dress Book. They’re all pretty shapeless and smock-like too, but it might work in a lightweight fabric.
    stylish

In an ideal world I’d have time to try a bunch of these.  That probably won’t actually happen, because life is busy. But the possibilities!

A note about actually sewing clothes during pregnancy: Quite a few people have said things along the lines of “Ugghhhh, why would you do that?” I have a few reasons:

  • My wardrobe kind of turns over every six months anyway. Things rotate in and out, often multiple times. Sometimes this is conscious (see this post) and sometimes it’s just a natural consequence of shifting needs – new jobs, kids, moving to a new city, etc. While I do have things I’ve worn for years, clothes with a shorter lifespan are necessary too.
  • Pretty much all of these articles of clothing could be worn when I’m not pregnant. Obviously some will work out better than others, but loose, flowing clothing is something I can wear other times.
  • I get really, really big when pregnant. As-in, my storebought maternity tops are already nearly too small at 22 weeks. Pre-pregnancy I was somewhere between a 12 and 14, putting me at the upper range of many stores anyway. This makes the standard approach of buying clothes a size or two up a lot more difficult.
  • The first time around, I found that breastfeeding was a way bigger deal wardrobe-wise than pregnancy. Some of my clothing was maternity-friendly, but nothing I owned had breastfeeding access. And I breastfed for a lot longer than I was pregnant!
  • I’m only 29. We have quite a few years where we could potentially decide to have another kid. Failing that, all of my friends are just starting to have kids, so there will always be someone to pass things on to.

Anyone else out their sewn clothes for your pregnancy? Was it worth it?

Maternity Smock Thing

Maternity clothes can be tricky. Most of the outfits you see online involve fitted tops made out of super stretchy fabrics. But fabrics with a high spandex content can be awfully hot, especially in August, so I find myself drawn to wovens. However, certain compromises must be made for comfort. Boobs, chest and belly all change so fast that nothing is the right size for long. While from an aesthetic standpoint I’d love to be wearing a carefully fitted wardrobe of empire-waist dresses, the reality is that I probably couldn’t actually make them in any size that I could wear for more than ten minutes. My underbust has, in the past four months, gained something like six inches. There are no guarantees about what’s going to fit on there.

Which leaves us with the smock. Or tunic, if you want to sound modern. This garment, while practical, poses some serious challenges. If not careful, one can wind up looking like my grandmother when she was pregnant with my mom in 1949:
50ssmock

Or my mother when she was pregnant in 1985 but still using her patterns from the 70s (actually not that bad):
70ssmock

Or full-on 80s horror:
80ssmock

So this is kind of an “approach with caution” silhouette. But it’s also an incredibly comfortable one, and one that I was not exactly shy about in my first pregnancy. I mostly belted those dresses when I was out in public, though. The keys to making this look not too horrific/precious seem to be

  • Get rid of the puffy sleeves
  • Don’t have too much fullness, especially at the sides
  • Keep any yoke or contrast pieces proportional with your actual body. Nobody needs shoulders that wide.
  • Keep the length above the knee to minimize frump

Enter Anna Maria Horner’s Painted Portrait Blouse.

painted-portrait-blouse-dress-10

I actually dismissed this pattern for a long time because all of the sample versions online involved way more busy floral prints than I could handle. I was won over when someone showed up at Seam Allowance in a dusty teal linen version that looked like the most comfortable thing ever. Plus it had pockets! Since the physics of maternity jeans (elastic + gravity) have made pockets on pants a distant memory for the past few months, I get really really excited about pockets.

Anyway. On to my version!

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(Note to self: teach husband about the “removing giant orange objects from the frame” part of photography)

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And the detail shots. Apologies for wrinkling and terrible lighting and so forth – these were taken at night after I’d worn the dress all day.

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Pleating below the front yoke.

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Pocket!

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Back button closure. I may swap this out for a slightly larger button.

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Contrast facing from pajama scraps.

This is more or less a wearable muslin. I cut a straight XL with minor modifications and used stash fabric. The black (which is actually embroidered) comes from an old maternity dress, and the black and purple lawn came from a Bay Area Sewists swap. The yoke facings are bits of an old pair of cotton batik pajama pants that had ripped catastrophically. I made token efforts to match up the stripes and put the pleats somewhere reasonable, but mostly I just didn’t worry about it all that much.

Modifications I made for this version:

  • lowered the front neckline 1″
  • added 4″ of width to the front panel to make it more maternity-friendly
  • turned the gathers into pleats (mostly to play nice with the plaid)
  • folded and turned the hem instead of using a facing

Modifications I’d add next time:

  • FULL BUST ADJUSTMENT. At least an inch per side panel.
  • lower the neckline another inch
  • widen the back yoke a little bit for better bra strap coverage
  • make the pockets a couple inches deeper
  • add some shaping the back yoke seam so that the back neck doesn’t stand out from my body (sloping shoulder adjustment)

I’d also love to play around with embroidering or otherwise embellishing the yoke. It seems like a great pattern for adding some little details to.

It’s definitely still a little on the shapeless side, but it’s very comfortable and cleans up pretty well when I put a respectable-looking cardigan on over the top of it (which helps give me the illusion of a waist. And the pockets rock my world. It might benefit from being worn with a slip, as the lightweight cotton has a tendency to stick to the leggings I will inevitably be wearing underneath while pregnant. I think any future versions I make will probably involve a heavier fabric with a bit more drape (like linen?) which ought to help weigh it down somewhat.

Overall I’m pretty happy with this. It’s a useful thing that will get worn, and has some potential for use post-pregnancy as well. I have a couple more tunic-style patterns I want to try out before I truly decide if I’m making another one of these, but the pattern seems like it has the potential to get made up again.

News. And some sewing.

When a female blogger of childbearing age drops off of the internet for 2-4 months with no warning, about half the time she’s pregnant. By the end of me-made-may, I was 7 weeks along, VERY nauseous and showing just enough that daily pictures weren’t seeming like such an awesome idea. So anyway, this guy has a sibling incoming, new years 2016.

#365

Oh yeah, and I sewed some things. At this point I have so much backlog that you’ll never see all of it. I’ve lost pictures, I’ve lost the remote to my camera. In some cases, I’ve lost the actual clothing I made. These things happen, especially when you spend two months sleeping 12+ hours a day.

This post, however, is about the crusade I went on to find a tried-and-true t-shirt pattern. This happened right before I found out I was pregnant and more or less continued until the first trimester pulled me under, so I managed to make a bunch of things. For a while I had three or four patterns out simultaneously and was churning out 2-3 shirts a week, assembly-line style. By far the most successful of my experiments was the Deer and Doe Plantain Tee. I’ve made at least four versions, and will probably make quite a few more when I’m done with this pregnancy thing. The fitted shoulders + looser torso thing works really well for my body.

Forgot to post for #mmmay15 yesterday, but it was just the briar sweatshirt over a dress again. Today is a new #deeranddoe #plantaintee.

This was my first version, straight from the pattern with no modifications. Pretty much fine, but a little wide in the shoulders. Not totally surprising, since I chose a larger size to accommodate my bust. I narrowed the shoulders a bit for future versions.

New dress! One of several things I made on Saturday. It's a #deeranddoe #plantaintee hack from a knit I bought at #avfkw. I love how easy these are to throw together! Sadly, I missed the #seamallowance meeting last night and wasn't able to show it off. I'

Next was this dress, which really deserves a better picture. It’s hard to see in this, but there’s a contrasting black yoke. The skirt is just a gathered rectangle, with pockets. After this was taken I re-did the waistline seam to move it up an inch or so, which makes it both more flattering and more maternity-friendly.

For #mmmay15 - a new shirt (modified #plantaintee) from #avfkw organic cotton knit. #seamallowance

After that, this shirt. This is just a straight plantain tee, except I flared out the bottom really dramatically after tracing a RTW top I’d been wearing to death. I love this style! Super flattering and modern without being frumpy.

This is the most recent version. I actually busted out the good camera, but the light wasn’t great. You get what you get.  These are from around a month ago, when I was 16 weeks pregnant.

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The fabric is from Girl Charlee. For this version, I combined my flared body hack with my contrast yoke hack. I feel like this particular pattern needed something to break up all that pattern. Unlike the blue one above, I actual went to the trouble of hemming this one.

I think I’m done with t-shirts for the time being, at least in this style. while I can still wear this at 20 weeks, I find myself increasingly in danger of flashing some belly if I put my arms over my head. I do have a couple Megan Nielsen maternity shirt patterns, which have ruching that lets them curve around under the belly, but I’m not sure I’ll bother – jeans (which are what I wear with t-shirts) just feel like too much work right now.

In any case at 20 weeks I’m heading full force for the “leggings and tunics” phase of pregnancy, so expect to see some things in that vein – if I ever get around to blogging about them…

Me made may: week 1

So despite my failure to actually pledge anything anywhere, I am trying to wear at least one me-made garment a day for the month of May. I did this in 2013, but not last year because I was feeling kind of ambivalent. But this year I feel like I need a bit of a kick in the ass to get back into making things I actually want to wear, so it’s worth joining in.

Here are the outfits from the first week-and-a-bit. Note the presence of at least three garments I never got around to blogging about. Pictures are hard, man.

Alabama Chanin dress for #mmmay15 (shot on the way out of the theater after Age of Ultron)

#mmmay15 day two: my #averbforkeepingwarm #endlesssummertunic (and some jeans I didn't make).

Another Alabama Chanin dress for #mmmay15

More outfit posts. It's only for May though! #mmmay15 #colettepatterns parfait dress, wrap cardigan from a #megannielsenpatterns tutorial, and hand-knit arm warmers.

#mmmay15 day 5: Yet another #alabamachanin dress and a blue button down shirt from some #burda pattern. Leggings and jacket not made by me.

Today's #mmmay15 outfit: a new #grainlinestudio #aldershirtdress and some old #cakepatterns #espressoleggings

The traditional bathroom selfie of my people. Wearing a self-drafted @calpatch shift dress from #avfkw #khadicloth. Made for #seamallowance.

Relatively boring #mmmay15 day: hand-knit stripey noro cardigan.

This is all somewhat complicated by the fact that I’m still doing the wardrobe minimalism thing, so my wardrobe really is a lot smaller than it was. So far I’ve just been wearing things that I’d already identified as part of my Spring wardrobe, but I suspect that by the end of the month I will end up digging out some me-made items that didn’t make the cut.

But it is providing some fabulous motivation to bang out a bunch of t-shirts and other easy things that I’ve been meaning to make for a while, so that’s great. Due to various size changes, wardrobe purges, and poor fabric choices, I’m now at a point where the vast majority of my me-made garments are dresses, and I have very few basics. I’ve also been living with three t-shirts total, so this hasn’t been that big an issue, but there’s definitely some room for improvement.

Is anyone else finding that me made may makes you want to sew a lot more? I’m really enjoying the burst of sewing mojo.

Baby Blankets

When the small human being sew-along was announced, I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to participate. My small human being is well over two, and generally well out of the baby stage. But then I got invited to not one but two baby showers in the month of April, and I’m a little bit allergic to just buying things off registries when I can make something cooler.

In the past, I have made many elaborate baby quilts for friends having kids. But that was before they started all having babies at the same time. In the face of needing to make something like five baby quilts within the year, it was time to switch to something I could get done a little more quickly (even though making quilts is a lot of fun).

The design has evolved a little bit over time, as I’ve made a lot of them. Instead of blanket binding, I now used bias edging, and I started rounding the corners because it’s cuter.

Version 1 (for Morley and James):
Baby blankets!
Brushed cotton (sort of a light-weight flannel) with origami animals on one side, little foxes on the other.
(Sorry that this picture so completely demonstrates the need for better lighting on my sewing table. And the fact that I sew at 11pm.)

Version 2 (for Chris and Zoe):
Baby blankets!
Woodland creature tree flannel on one side, polka dots on the other.

I thought about making a tutorial for these, but I feel like it’s kind of too easy? My friend Heather made a bunch of these after I described the method mostly over text message.

Brief tutorial: You get two squares of fabric (I usually do 44″x44″, or whatever the width of my fabric will allow) and then sew edging around the outside. For rounded corners, trace the shape of a dinner plate or something similarly sized. It’s good to make one of the layers out of flannel to give some weight to it, but you could do the whole thing from quilting cotton for a summer version.

I guess that technically these are swaddling blankets. That’s what we used our version for, anyway. Now Izzy uses his as nap blankets at daycare, so they’re still going strong two and a half years later. They’re all cotton, have been washed a million times, and held upĀ great. Sometimes simple is best!

The news from my couch

(title h/t to Bishop Allen)

I’m currently recovering from the plague. And by plague I mean a nasty combo of flu, upper respiratory infection and possibly walking pneumonia. I’ve watched a LOT of trashy television. And Sesame Street. (My son got it too, though not as bad.) This is my ninth straight day on the couch. Do not recommend.

I’ve been knitting a lot while I’m sick. I’m working on the Lousia sweater from Cocoknits. It’s all stockinette, so it’s simple, mostly brainless knitting.

I've been sick for a long time. This sweater is progressing impressively considering how much I'm sleeping. Unfortunately I've used more than half of my yarn, so I may have to wait to finish it until I can make it to the yarn store.

This is the sweater as of Monday. I’ve since completed the body up to the armpits and most of one sleeve. Here’s the project on ravelry, if you’re interested.

I spent a lot of time cleaning out and organizing my sewing room. It’s still not fabulous, but I have a much better handle on what’s actually in there.
My sewing room.

I’ve completed some other things over the past few months, although photography’s been spotty. I made a bunch of little-kid t-shirts:
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I haven’t gotten around to photographing the others, since they’re pretty consistently on the toddler/covered in jam/in the wash.

I also bought a big piece of pendleton wool and stitched around the edges to make a blanket.
My current while-watching-tv project: sewing a fancy border onto this giant piece of wool so I can call it a blanket. Bonus: I get to snuggle underneath while working on it.
It is the coziest.

I finished off these hand warmers that I started at least five years ago:
Finally finished these arm warmers that I started in 2009. One less unfinished project! (Yarn and pattern are both from @shibuiknits, but at this point I don't remember the names. )

I also finished off a couple of more major sewing projects that warrant real photographic treatment: jeans for tom, and a dress for me. I’ll post those…someday.

What’s new with you?

Wardrobe Minimalism

I recently stumbled across the blog Un-Fancy, and from there into the world of minimalist wardrobe blogging. Which is, apparently, very much a thing. I’ve linked to the 333 Project before, but I never really did anything about it.

The basic concept of 333 is that you assemble a capsule wardrobe of thirty-three items, then wear only that for three months. After three months (theoretically this is a season change, but I live in California so it doesn’t really apply..) you make another capsule and then wear that for three months. Etc. The idea is that many items roll over after three months, but some things get rotated in or out.

Anyway. This time, I was due for a closet clean-out. Majorly. I’ve been a lot of different sizes over the past three years (pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight gain) and had to deal with different life circumstances. Stuff piles up.

I made a list of what I thought I needed in a wardrobe (note that this excludes accessories, workout gear, pajamas, underwear, bras, camis and leggings that I wear under things):

My Wardrobe Sprint 2015

(This is an approximation from Polyvore. Actual list below.)

  • 3 black tops
  • 3 colored tops
  • 3 striped tops
  • 3 button downs
  • 3 pullovers
  • 3 cardigans
  • 5 dresses
  • 3 skirts
  • 2 flared jeans
  • 3 skinny jeans
  • 3 jackets
  • 3 boots
  • 1 sandals
  • 3 non-boots
  • 2 fancy shoes

This is actually more than forty things…but whatever. I also realized that my lifestyle right now pretty much requires that most everything I wear be playground compatible. There’s no real distinction between work clothes and kid-chasing clothes.

I sorted through my closet and pulled out everything that didn’t seem to fit into this. Some went to charity, but mostly I just packed things away to consider later. Special occasion clothes and costume stuff got stashed in the closet in our den. I went from running out of space to hang things to having more than half of the closet free.

THIS IS IMMENSELY FREEING, YOU GUYS. Getting dressed is so easy now.

I have learned a few things:

  1. I don’t actually own everything on this list. My “but I have nothing to wear” feelings are kind of vindicated here. And now I know what I need to make or buy.
  2. Some of the things I’m lacking (or where I didn’t like the things I already owned) are because of fit. I have forward shoulders, so woven shirts and dresses always constrain my movement and I don’t own any. Sewing to the rescue!
  3. The representation of me-made clothes is only okay. My briar t-shirt is in there, and my drapey cardigan. And some Alabama Chanin dresses. But not a whole lot else, which I suspect is due to fitting issues.
  4. Three cardigans is not nearly enough cardigans.
  5. I forgot about graphic t-shirts. I LOVE graphic t-shirts.
  6. As a parent of a very messy little kid, I will never be quite as minimalist as some people. My clothes actually get dirty. Frequently.
  7. That said, this is actually a lot of clothing. PLENTY of clothing. I do not need more clothing than this in rotation at once.

I’m planning to wear this for a while (filling in the gaps as I go) and re-evaluate at the end of April.

So that’s my plan. Anyone else tried something like this?