Sweater plans

When A Verb For Keeping Warm came out with their new yarn Flock, I acquired a lovely sweater quantity of a lovely logwood dyed purple-gray variety. This is special yarn – carefully sourced and all hand-dyed with natural materials. (Here are lots of pretty things people have been making with it on Instagram.)


As I’m nearing completion on my blue sweater I’ve started pondering what to make. It’s a fairly fine yarn (fingering weight) so whatever I make will ultimately take me a good long while to knit. Here are my main contenders:


Lucinda is another Carrie Bostwick Hodge pattern, from the same collection as the Lila I’m currently knitting. The pattern is written for a heavier yarn, so I’d need to either size up my needles until I get gauge (resulting in a very open-knit kind of sweater) or adjust the pattern to whatever gauge I do get. The big downside is that it’s very similar to the sweater I’m finishing up now.

The Edge Hoodie is actually meant for Brooklyn Tweed LOFT, which is apparently very similar to Flock. It has a nice mix of stockinette (fast!) and enough pattern to make it not-boring. My main concern is that I’m probably a little short on yarn for this one, especially if I want to add some length to it (which I usually do – otherwise things hit awkwardly). I could get another skein or two, but there weren’t any more from my dye lot, so there would need to be some cleverness to avoid jarring color transitions.

Ochre is a simple, cute cardigan that I’d probably wear a lot. The cardigan aspect is probably the most practical while breastfeeding, which I will be doing for the foreseeable future. But it’s a lot of stockinette, and feels kind of basic.

Which one should I make?

What’s new

I’m really, really pregnant. And tired.

When the only clothes that fit are stretchy things with no pockets, start layering. (That thing on top? Once fit as a dress.)
(Note the Alder dress worn as a vest here. I needed the pockets.)

So, there has been a lot of lying on the couch lately. Not a lot of sewing, though I did finally put together the dress I cut out for sewing indie month. Maybe someday I’ll even photograph it.

I’ve gotten back into knitting in a big way. It’s compatible with my energy levels. And somehow it feels easier to knit a sweater that will (probably) fit this winter than to sew a dress that will work post-partum.

This sweater is really too big to be portable at this point. Time to start another project? #maddermade #lilasweater #madelinetosh

I’ve been working on the Lila Top Down sweater from the second Madder anthology. Here’s my project on ravelry. Except I gave it a v-neck. It’s now at the stage where I’m attempting to knit sleeves onto a large, bulky sweater and kind of hating it. Probably I should stay away from top-down raglan patterns in the future.

For more portable knitting, I started in on a Rigoles scarf.

Lunch break knitting.

This has turned out to be a big saver of my sanity as my doctor’s appointments have gotten more frequent.

I’ve also been messing around with embroidery/visible mending a little bit. Like knitting, it’s something that feels like it has a value beyond pregnancy. And of course, it looks cool.

Halloween #visiblemending for a very sad pair of Tom's pants.

And I’ve been toying around with the idea of some colorful applique, though I haven’t actually started anything yet. Just acquired gorgeous craft supplies.

I may have acquired yet more craft supplies...

I’ll be done with work soon, so I’m plotting some sewing projects for the copious free time that will bring me (hah…) Probably the sewing will either be maternity clothes of true desperation (the baby still has to DOUBLE IN SIZE, guys, and I’m already basically out of clothes), or things for other members of my family. I’ve been eyeing the Seamwork Denali vest as a possibility.

What have you been making?

The things I do buy

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot in conjunction with slow fashion October is that despite spending a lot of time (for someone with little kids and a full-time job) sewing, I definitely still buy clothes. I would definitely prefer to buy things that are ethically made with sustainable materials and all that. I often fall short. But I think about it a lot, so there’s that?

#slowfashionoctober week 2: SMALL. This is my current (7 months pregnant) wardrobe. Not shown are a couple pairs of jeans, leggings and two tank tops. This is actually not very different from what my closet would look like if I was doing the capsule wardr
(My closet. Probably more than half store-bought.)

The things I buy basically fall into the following categories:

First, lovely small-batch stuff bought more or less directly from creators (like my 3rd Season dress). These purchases are comparatively rare, and often involve paying more for something than I otherwise would. But this means I only buy things I really love, so I tend to feel really good about these purchases.

Second, thrifted things. I used to thrift a lot and don’t as much anymore, mostly because I have less free time. Weight and breast-size gains have also limited my potential for success in this department. I still really love the idea, but don’t tend to acquire a lot of clothing this way since it has to really fit and/or be high enough quality to be worth the time for alterations or repairs. I think some of it is also geographical, and I’ve never really figured out the California thrift store scene.

Third, true basics. Things I could make, but mostly don’t because it would be boring and I’ve already got a better solution readily available. This mostly means leggings (I prefer these) and stretchy tops/tank tops (my current go-to is from *gasp* H&M), and perhaps underwear (typically basics from the Gap, although I’ve bought some nice, handmade ones off Etsy more recently so that might change). This is something where I will pick an ethically-made option if possible (I know American Apparel isn’t great, but it is made in the US, at least) but for the most part I have just gone with the thing I’ve found that works well.

(Stripey leggings with everything.)

Part of the issue with basics is that I’m picky. I’m picky about fit, I’m picky about fabric, I’m picky about style. I’ve certainly made leggings and tank tops before, but had a great deal of trouble sourcing fabric with the right level of spandex content to make me happy. With my me-made stuff, I’ve never gotten everything dialed in just so so that the leggings stay up and the tank tops don’t bunch up and everything sits right underneath other clothing. Similarly underwear and VPL and all that. There are probably solvable problems, but since they’re problems where I already have a solution that works, they have yet to make it to the top of the pile. I’d rather prioritize the stuff that shows and defines my style.

I also have a hard time getting too torn up about my ethical behavior here because I’m just not buying all that much of this stuff – maybe 2 pairs of leggings and 2 tank tops per year. I keep a small number in rotation, and repair or replace as necessary. (And yes, I will totally patch a pair of $30 leggings!) Maybe this will change when I stop having kids under 3 and/or if I find a magical source of very high quality, medium-heavy duty cotton knit with >10% spandex. We’ll see.

Fourth – jeans. I really, really want to make jeans! I bought the Ginger Jeans kit and everything. Then I immediately gained 15 lbs due to a medical issue, lost 5 of it after a medication change, and got pregnant. Fitting my rapidly-fluxuating body hasn’t seemed like the best investment of time and energy for the past year. Hopefully next year will be different!

Finally, there’s the fashiony stuff I probably could be making. I have a number of tops from Free People (many of which are 100% cotton and made in the US, at least), and sweaters and things from Nordstrom. This is harder to justify, but it has been valuable for trying out be silhouettes and experimenting with style. My sewing time is limited enough that I’m a bit averse to taking major style risks with handmade stuff. I’m drawn to interesting seaming, draping, and asymmetrical designs that aren’t often available in existing patterns. Buying ready made lets me try new ideas there in a way that’s realistic for my schedule. And when something works really well, a handmade version often follows. 

For #mmmay15 - a new shirt (modified #plantaintee) from #avfkw organic cotton knit. #seamallowance
This shirt is essentially a copy of a store-bought t-shirt that I loved (literally) to bits. And now I have an awesome pattern for it! That still feels (to me) like a victory for handmade. 

Overall, I feel I’m buying less and thinking about it more. My wardrobe has gotten more focused and has a lot less cheap crap in it than it used to. There are definitely plenty of compromises that come along with dressing a pregnant/breastfeeding/rapidly changing body, and I’m still working on figuring them out. But I’m pretty happy with how I’m navigating it all!

Inspired Strappy Tunic Thing

A couple of months ago I went to the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco. I bought this dress/tunic thing from 3rd Season Designs. It is lovely. Really, everything they make is lovely. The fabric is all hand-dyed rayon and it feels amazing. It’s all made in Los Angeles and is the kind of thing I feel good about buying ready-made – quality, small batch, creators I can meet and talk to.

[source for this exact dress]

I wore this at least once a week all summer. But as my pregnancy progressed, it went from being a dress…to a tunic…to a shirt. At least in the front. Which is a great tragedy – it’s basic the most comfortable thing I own right now. It also feels much more me than most of the maternity clothes I had saved from three years ago. Unfortunately, it’s days of fitting me are numbered (until I give birth).

So I decided to make something with a similar shape. Loose, comfortable, breezy rayon tunic. I didn’t use a pattern, just looked at the shape of the original and made something up.


Despite appearances, it’s actually quite a bit longer than the inspiration – I’m just a lot more pregnant in the later pictures.


The straps are just black bias binding, sewn around the edges of the fabric and then continuing up into straps. I added simple cross-over straps here to keep things from falling off my shoulders. If I make something else like this I’ll definitely look into more interesting/adventurous strap configurations.


This was a super quick thing to make. There are only two pieces of fabric, which are almost identical (the scoop for the neck is a little deeper in the front). Hemming was no problem, as it was mostly straight lines. The fabric is a Cotton & Steel rayon and it behaved very nicely. It has also held up to repeated washing without shrinking a bunch or getting wrinkly, which I was worried about.

There are a few things I’d adjust with another version – the straps are a little long, and the total lack of bust shaping isn’t ideal for persuading things to sit in the right place on someone shaped like me. A couple of darts would be easy to do, and probably make the whole thing feel a lot more secure.

More pictures (with worse lighting) can be found here.

I made this at the beginning of September. It’s basically the perfect second trimester garment, and I’ve worn it a lot. Now that it’s mid October and I’m settling into my 3rd trimester, it’s still in rotation. But I’m starting to have issues with the underside of my belly getting cold, so the layering situation is tricky. Because I live in California and pregnancy makes me run hot, it’s still too warm to do something straightforward like layering a tank top underneath (if I could even find one that fits). High-waisted and extremely stretchy leggings are my friends.

Also worth consideration: how does this score for slow fashion october? I think reasonably well, though not perfect. It fits my wardrobe (see previous comments about my affinity for geometric black and white prints), is made of high-quality materials that I like a lot, did not cause me to buy anything new or go shopping, and ought to be wearable well beyond pregnancy since whether it fits is almost completely independent of how I’m shaped underneath. It’s not particularly nursing-compatible, but that’s probably okay – this isn’t the fabric I’d pick for heavy-duty, constant wash-and-wear newborn care, anyway.

I think it also scores some points for just being simple and straightforward to make. This wasn’t a skills project, or a pattern I was fascinated with, though I definitely do those. I just went to the sewing room and made the thing I wanted to wear that day. I don’t think this kind of thing will ever make up all of my sewing, but I would like to do more of it. Simple, wearable stuff like this forms the backbone of my wardrobe, and my sewing should absolutely reflect that.

Slow Fashion October

It’s Slow Fashion October. If I get it together, maybe I can post this while it’s still nominally the first week? Maaaaybe. Or perhaps we should just emphasize the “slow” part of “slow fashion”. This is a blog theme I can get behind – I am nothing if not slow in my making! And my current life circumstances – pregnancy, full time job, preschooler who has decided bedtime is for suckers, long commute – definitely increase that effect.

The theme for the first week is “you”, and I guess I am supposed to introduce myself. Perhaps on the theory that I will someday remember to link to this from Instagram and new people will find me through the magic of hash tags? Anyway. Hi, I’m Alice. I just turned 30 and live in California with my husband and our son who turns three in a couple of days. I’m currently 7-ish months pregnant.

My #handmade shirt and #alabamachanin dress are still going strong as maternity clothes at 25 weeks. I keep worrying I'll stretch this dress out too much, but it's on its second pregnancy and seems to be holding up...
(Me recently in an Alabama Chanin-style dress I made from old t-shirts and a handmade button-down)

I’ve been sewing and knitting since childhood. I made a ton of my own clothes (mostly by modifying thrift-store finds) during my goth phase in high school. Things slowed down a little bit during college when I was living in dorms and such, but I’ve always had a few things on the machine and/or needles. My sewing picked up with a vengeance in 2012 when I was pregnant with my son and desperate for things to wear, and has continued on since then. Turns out it’s really helpful to have a hobby you can do while stuck in the house after kid-bedtime!

Knitting has been a bit more hit-or-miss. I think I have completed four adult sweaters ever, and they were mostly not particularly successful. I have two more currently actively in-progress. But I’ve made countless hats, socks, hand warmers, scarves, cowls and so on. A lot of this has to do with having lived in coastal California for the past six years, where actually wearing a full-size wool garment requires serious planning and strategery, and possibly a trip to the mountains. Even in the Northwest (where I went to school) full-on wool sweaters were often overkill; I preferred to clad my extremities in woolens and layer up my core to provide more granularity in the warmth department.

A bit over a year ago I joined the Seam Allowance group through A Verb for Keeping Warm. Nominally, the pledge is that we will all make 25% of our own clothing. I was almost certainly doing that before I joined, but I’ve found the group incredibly valuable for ideas, advice and motivation about how to make a thoughtful handmade wardrobe. As a result, I find myself thinking a lot more about wearability and items that can be combined together, and I have a new appreciation for good fit and more neutral fabrics that can mix and match without totally overpowering each other.

(post here)

The past couple years of my making practice have been dominated by trying to teach myself to actually fit things correctly. I (think?) have a somewhat challenging body to fit – large bust, very forward shoulders, and a longer than usual distance from waist to hips mean that no pattern will ever fit or look good on me straight from the envelope, and the vast majority require some pretty serious adjustments before I go anywhere near a piece of fabric. It can be done, but nothing is quick if I’m really paying attention to fit. I’ve made a lot of progress on this front, but it’s still something I struggle with – I’ve definitely put lots of effort into projects that turned out to be total failures.


And all this has been complicated by two pregnancies, nursing and some medical issues that caused my weight to fluctuate pretty dramatically in 2014. I do think that changing bodies are a reality of a great many women’s lives, and it’s probably something we should talk about more. There’s a whole art to understanding how your body might change and then sewing to accommodate that. But that’s probably a whole other post by itself!


I also make all manner of things for my house and my family. Kid clothes, dude clothes, quilts, and various bits and bobs around the house where I can add character and utility with textiles.


So what do I hope to get out of Slow Fashion October? I’m not totally sure. Pregnancy means I’m already living with a very small wardrobe, though I wouldn’t exactly call it curated. The culling process is rather more darwinian than that. And I’m not going to set any particularly ambitious goals, because I’m realistic about my third trimester energy levels. In all likelihood I’ll keep knitting (3rd trimester is good for knitting, at least until the swelling catches up with my wrists) and try to fit in some simple-yet-versatile sewing. We’ll see where it goes!

Asshole Washi

First, the fabric. It’s a really lovely Cotton & Steel double gauze. It’s soft and wonderful and I highly recommend it. So far I have really, really loved everything I’ve gotten from Cotton & Steel. So many awesome fabrics! Great patterns! So much to love!


Image source

Next, the name. I got really excited when I saw the fabric design because of this page in the Kurt Vonnegut book Breakfast of Champions:

So, you can see the resemblance. This is kind of one of those things where you either think it’s hilarious and perfect or you don’t get it at all.  I’m clearly in the former camp. (I also drive a car with a bumper sticker that says “My other car is a Pynchon novel”.)

So this dress is and forever shall be the Asshole Washi Dress. The dress with off-color literary allusions.




Have I mentioned it has pockets?!?


The pattern is the Washi Dress from Made by Rae. There are many, many adorable versions of this floating around the internet, and as I said in my earlier post, the shirring was really appealing. I hesitated a bit about buying it because it is so simple – I could have probably hacked together something similar from bits of patterns I already had on hand. But I like supporting indies and appreciate the shortcut. The instructions were really nice, too, which is always a plus.

Overall I’m pretty happy with it. It’s a little on the cutesy side (which is generally a problem when pregnant anyway), but nothing I can’t tame with the right sweater and boots. The fabric was more on the cute end of the spectrum than my to start with, but I’ll take it in exchange for the subtle trolling of Kurt Vonnegut fans.


  • I did a pretty serious FBA, adding at least two inches per side and a second set of darts. I pretty much always need some kind of FBA, but it’s more pronounced during pregnancy. I think my proper bra size right now is something like a 38D….ish. When I’m not pregnant or nursing I’m more like a 34DD, and at one point while nursing I got up to a 34H. Fun times ahead! (Related: I fell headfirst into the Curvy Sewing Collective archives recently. While I’m not truly plus size, I’m definitely curvy, and there’s a ton of great info on there on the kinds of fitting issues I often have. Yay!)
  • I also did something like a forward shoulder adjustment using this method. I also scooped out some of the front armscye. This seems to be something I need to do most of the time, at least on garments with sleeves. But I actually haven’t made all that many woven things with sleeves, probably because of this fit issue.
  • I added a little bit of width to front the skirt by sort of rotating the pieces to cut the widest thing possible from my 45″ fabric without adding a seam. I’m pretty sure what I did is exactly equivalent to slashing and spreading the skirt, but I was too lazy to actually do that. I currently have plenty of room in the belly area, but hopefully that modification buys me a few more weeks of wearing the dress when I get truly huge.
  • I dropped the neckline by a couple of inches as well. This is another thing I do a lot. Something about there just being a lot of fabric once you’ve adjusted for bigger boobs, maybe? The lower neckline just looks more proportional to me.
  • I took a little bit (1cm) out at the outer edge of the shoulder seam, tapering to nothing at the neck. This is another super common alteration for me.
  • Finally, I used bias binding for the neck and arm holes because I just really hate faffing around with facings (which I would have had to completely re-draft anyway because I made all those modifications to the neckline and bust shaping).

Modifications for next time:

  • I still have some gaping at the back neck. Some methods for the forward shoulder/broad back alteration would have had me add neckline darts, so that’s likely warranted here. I might also play with a center back seam so I could add shaping there.
  • Now that I’ve worn it a bit, the shirring seems a little high to me. I’d probably move it down on a future version, so that it hits at the narrowest part of my body.
  • In the future, I’ll probably leave off the sleeves. Or maybe experiment with different kinds of sleeves? There’s nothing truly wrong with them in this version, but they’re a little too cute for my taste. Of course, non cap sleeve options introduce a whole raft of exciting fitting challenges.
  • I may add a teensy bit of length to the bust area at the front. Currently it rides up just a tiny bit, which I find annoying.

I’m waffling a bit about making it again. It’s a quick sew, and I’ve already done the lion’s share of the fitting. Shirring is nice! (This was my first time.) I could make up a few versions that would be pretty useful in my (currently quite limited) wardrobe. But something about the style is a little on the “precious” side, which is dangerous territory when you’re already the size of a house. Maybe in a solid color? Or a more graphic/modern print? With a different skirt? There are ton of places to take this pattern, modification-wise. I’ll let it stew for a while. What do you think?


Maya’s Quilt

My friends Ed and Heather just had a baby had a baby nine months ago, so I made her a quilt. Which took a really long time to blog about because I lost the pictures for a while. So this post has basically been sitting, fully written, for nearly a year. But at least that means I can include a picture of the actual baby this time!

I no long have illusions about making quilts for every new baby now – there are way too many of them. But they’re fun to make, and (hopefully) something that will be much loved and last many years.

(This photo courtesty of Maya’s mom)

This was a fun one – I played around with piles of fabric until I found an order I was happy with, ripped some strips, then sewed them all together haphazardly in one sitting. This was a lot more free form than my previous quilts.


This was also the first quilt where I did something other than straight line quilting. Scribble quilting is fun! And surprisingly meditative. Though I am considering investing in the fancy Bernina stitch regulator if I do another of these. It was faster than I expected, so I can actually conceive of doing quilts for beds this way now. I’ve made a couple of queen-size quilts before, but the actually quilting on those was pretty bare-bones. For this I quilted all over, AND switched colors for the different sections.


The back is one big piece of fabric (one of the benefits of crib sized quilts!) which I originally bought for Izzy’s quilt. I really love the print, and it’s kind of the perfect newborn-captivating design.


The binding was stash too – leftovers from the Goth Secretary Dress. I like how the colored polka dots seem to go with the different colored fabrics.




The batting is 100% cotton (organic I think?), which gives it that crinkly look after washing. I like how it looks and feels, and I tend to stick with natural fibers for babies as much as possible. I’ve made enough of these now to get reports back that these hold up well through many washings and are generally very functional objects despite all the fancy.

Now I just need to get it together to make a quilt for the baby I’m currently gestating! That might happen before I actually give birth…