Backward and Forward


I am looking back at the sewing I did this past year. When I count through the slideshow, it looks like close to 30 items (not including the items I made for the all-handmade sale*). That's a fair bit for someone who only started sewing garments a year and a half ago!

I am still figuring out what shapes look good on my body as well as learning how to fit my body. I am also learning how to choose attractive clothes that work with my stay-at-home-mom-of-small-children lifestyle.

Last year I tried to incorporate one new thing in each garment to help me expand my capabilities - either a new technique or a new fabric. I didn't always manage this, but I think it is a worthy goal for this year's sewing as well.

Here is the slideshow:

In addition to trying something new with each project, in 2010, I need to find sources of quality fabric that works with my lifestyle and preferences. I tend to get all excited by my fellow sewists' use of wool and silk and I am terribly covetous of the brilliant polyester knit prints. But none of these work for me.

Wool is itchy on me - no matter how low the content and both wool and silk must be treated with more care than I can give my clothes (and certainly more care than my kids are going to give my clothes - sticky fingers, sand, snot, the random marker streak, etc.). I try to use "natural" fibers whenever I can as an effort to care for the earth. This generally prohibits polyester from my wardrobe. My blazer and the costumes were the main exceptions this year.

I still have several patterns and fabric just waiting for the time and energy to sew them. Here's to getting back to a sustainable schedule soon!

* For the all handmade sale, I made over 40 handkerchiefs, more than 12 backpack doll carriers, more than 40 bookmarks, 7 checkers sets, and one moebius scarf (which needs its own picture).

Comment Moderation On


Hello friendly readers!

Welp, this blog has been the recipient of some lovely comment spam, so I have turned comment moderation on for the time being. Lucky for us, there are no lively discussions in the comments as of yet, so nothing should be too slowed down by this extra step. (Ha!)

Feeling Better

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Thanks to all of you who willingly read through my rant yesterday.

Today I took the opportunity to tidy up my sewing table while the kids were glued to a video. Then, during naptime, I finished fixing Lucy's impromptu skirt from a couple of weeks ago and had Peter help me trace and cut out the pattern pieces for the waistcoat he wants. That went so quickly that I even managed to cut out and quickly stitch up a muslin for the waistcoat in a cheap fabric from my stash (thin poly-cotton cow print anyone?). I need to add width to the side fronts and maybe a tad to the neckline, but it looks like the hardest part will be the buttonholes.

I sewed nothing for myself, but I feel better.

Wardrobe update: I stopped in at American Apparel* today to check out their t-shirts. I didn't find anything I wanted to try on, but I might have missed something, so I will check their website. I took a look at their leggings. HOLY MOLY! They want something like $50 for a pair of leggings. Zoinks! I have a leggings pattern I downloaded from burdastyle. I need to get on making a muslin for those.

* Which is worse, buying from a company with potentially sketchy employment practices (sweatshops overseas) or buying from a company with advertising that seems to exploit women?

Wardrobe Crisis

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Warning. Whining about clothing follows. Feel free to click away.

Aaack. I have nothing to wear.

OK, this isn't entirely true. I have things to wear, but most are not terribly functional for winter-winter. They are fine for fall-winter and winter-spring, but too open at the neck or un-layerable (allowing no more than a singlet underneath and not functioning as an underlayer). Most are also made of cotton (including pants and skirts).

I don't like being cold. It makes me grumpy.

The rest of my garments that are in some way winter-winter appropriate are getting such hard use and are showing the wear so much that I feel a bit like I am wearing rags. Add to this that I have little time to sew or shop and even less time to make mistakes and you get a wardrobe crisis.

David has promised me the chance to go clothes shopping after Christmas. But after briefly trying on jeans at the Gap and t-shirts at Target last week, I'm just not excited about it. Honestly, I do not have anything resembling a defined waist and the waistbands on all of the Gap jeans are HUGE even if they are snug in the seat and thighs. (What do their mannequins look like???) And the t-shirts specifically designed for layering at Target are crazy tight yet have huge armholes. So if I got a larger size in order to have enough girth so as not to feel like a sausage, I would have batwing sleeves and shoulder seams closer to my bicep. Bleh. I could sew better than this, but I have yet to try to make pants other than PJs and I am certain that my machine would not be fond of multiple layers of denim.

In related news, I ordered a pair of boots. I will have to send them back. They are too narrow across my foot and I can just barely get my leg zipped into them (I have short legs with wide calves - this makes boot-buying tricky - not to mention depressing), so I certainly could not tuck in pants. Not that this would be a flattering look for me, but it would be nice to have the option.

Things I hope to find(in colours that work for me and prices I can justify):
silk long johns/leggings
dark slim jeans with a mid to high waist (I never tuck anything other than singlets in anyway.)
long sleeve crew neck t-shirts for layering**
turtlenecks for layering**
a open -necked body skimming sweater or two (with wool content for warmth)
mid-heel knee-high boots
just below knee-length skirt (with wool content for warmth)

**I do have time to crank out a few t-shirts, but I don't have patterns for these basics.

There are mental piles of things that I want to make - many of them have patterns ready and waiting, some even have fabric waiting - but I have gotten out of my sewing routine since I moved my sewing gear.

It's time for my wardrobe planets to come into alignment.

Wasting Time Tonight


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Two new knit tops!

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I finally finished hemming Burda 02-2009-108. I love this top even though it is nothing approaching appropriate for the season. I made this once before and discovered that the shoulders were drafted too narrow for me, so I gave it to a narrow-shouldered friend. Here is the improved version (organic(?) cotton and bamboo rayon fabric):

Flattering, no? (Don't tell me if you don't think it is flattering. Let the newness of it wear off first.)

And now to less flattering. Or rather, poor fabric choice. I used a lovely cotton rayon knit that I bought in Portland at the 2009 PR Weekend at Mill End, I think. But it is entirely too soft and drapey a knit for Jalie 2682. The collar just flops around. I am bummed that I used my pretty Portland fabric for a shirt that I am not thrilled with. I will still wear it, because I am in great need for long-sleeve shirts. Here it is (and this is the most flattering shot - I deleted about four others that had wonky wrinkles everywhere):

And in Advent news, we have made little windboats (a big hit) and fingerprint pictures. Today we are scheduled to make paper chains, but we are again supposed to have spackle sanding done in the bathroom so we are going out for dinner. I don't know if we will have time to generate any chains...

Holy Packaging, Batman!

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On Friday, I found a little notice on my door that said a delivery had been attempted and that my package was now being held for pick-up. Of course, I wasn't allowed to attempt to pick up said package until after 11 AM Monday. Annoying, but whatever, I can't do anything about it.
I get to the pick-up location this afternoon and am handed this large lightweight box. I can't remember anything that I have ordered from this company that would necessitate such a large box. In fact I can only recall ordering one thing (which I fully expected to arrive in a large padded envelope).

Yes folks, it was the item I ordered. A real thread chart for Guterman's 100% polyester thread. Check out the photos below. That is a seriously excessive amount of packaging!

And, in Advent news, Saturday's activity bombed. Usually the kids are all for a play bath, but David let the girls have a long playing bath the night before and Lucy really had her hopes up for something ridiculously exciting. She literally broke into tears.
Sunday's activity was build a fort. This went quite well, but was difficult to photograph. Here is Peter inside the thing before it collapsed.

Afternoon Advent Activities


Hello Everyone! We are three days into advent and the kids seem to be enjoying the activities. There is some resistance on Peter's part (my 6 going on 16 year old - angst and attitude aplenty), but so far he has gone along with things and even enjoyed himself. Here's what our calendar looks like:

We have clothespinned the mini manilla envelopes to a piece of twill tape pinned to the wall above some windows in the sunroom. Each envelope contains a slip of paper with an activity and a chocolate coin (fair trade chocolate purchased at Ten Thousand Villages). The kids are rotating through opening the envelopes and, thus, eating the chocolate coins.

The first day of Advent, we made hot chocolate with whipped cream. Hot chocolate is a rare treat in our house - our stance being that picky eaters do not get to eat as many sweets as non-picky eaters.

As you might have noticed in the collage above, the second day of Advent we played Uno. None of the kids can manage to hold their cards, so it's a very open game. We also keep playing even after the first person runs out of cards. It's just friendlier that way.

Today, the third day of Advent, we made paper snowflakes. We made some traditional square-paper-folded-in-triangles snowflakes, but we also tried something new. The December 2009 issue of Burda included instructions for making the large curly snowflake you see in the upper left corner. (We will hang it in Peter's room tomorrow.)

And just in case I am not able to keep up with photographing our advent activities, here is our official list. (We omitted stringing anything edible to hang on trees outside due to a very present raccoon population.)

  1. Make hot chocolate with whipped cream
  2. Play Uno
  3. Make paper snowflakes
  4. Begin a giant picture
  5. Have a play bath
  6. Build a fort
  7. Have pancakes for dinner
  8. Make a windboat
  9. Make fingerprint people and animals
  10. Make paper chains
  11. Donate old towels to an animal shelter
  12. Bake cookies
  13. Go for a walk in the woods
  14. Take pictures of each other
  15. Thank someone for being nice
  16. Dress fancy for dinner
  17. Give everyone a wild hairstyle
  18. Write letters to far away friends
  19. Play soccer
  20. Look at Christmas lights after dinner
  21. Make silhouette portraits
  22. Paint everyone's toenails
  23. Sing Christmas carols
  24. Make a shining star