Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mountain Range Silk Top

I have to confess in a very dorky way that I may have congratulated myself just a bit too much for my clever/ironic/self deprecating sense of humor on this one: I sewed a tunic in a topographical mountain range print. Peeps, I just had to buy larger bras. Again.

This is Vogue 8977.  I sewed an orange dress-length version back in August and have been getting a lot of wear out of it.  I really need a few more non-dresses in my wardrobe now that I'm in my final week and a half of work. So, I restored the pattern to tunic length by removing much of the additional length I had added to make it a dress.

I've been holding on to this silk twill print from FabricMart for a while now. When I pulled it out of stash, I realized I didn't have quite enough for both the front and back of the tunic. So, I made the back out of black modal except for the strap that goes across the cut out. I really like this as a two-toned top. I think it might have been a bit much if it was all print, with no break. Plus, my ironic sense of self-depreciation does not extend as far as putting mountains on my bum. ;-)

Silk twill is a great fabric IMHO. Like any silk, it's oh so lovely to wear, but the twill weave makes it easier to sew than a slippery charmeuse or CDC. It doesn't slither away from you and it seems more stable and less likely to stretch and distort along bias areas.

This top sewed up easily and quickly. I executed it the same way as the first one and don't really have anything to add to my construction notes from that first version. I didn't make any changes to make this a maternity top, just like the dress.

I like this outfit; it feels very me. So, I think it will be worn a lot in the next few weeks and also find a home in my post-pregnancy wardrobe.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Project Bump: One Last Knit Dress

Today, Phin is meeting me for lunch and to help pack up my office plants and other personal things (eg: the pile of shoes under my desk) for while I'm on leave. I have just 2 weeks of work left and only 4 1/2 until my due date, and I've started getting stressed about how much there is left to do before Raspberry's birth.    

So, a little bit of re-framing and readjusting sewing plans is necessary. There are so many projects that I had hoped to do, but in the end simply won't have time for. But here is one last knit dress.

It was inspired by this batwing dress by Alex and Alex Maternity. I don't really love batwing styles on me and I didn't love how unfitted this was over the bust. So, I went my own way, just using the idea of the hook and eye tape.

Found on

If you remember my Sew Sexy Sew Along lace dress, this is close kin to it. I frankenpatterned together V8670, a Very Easy Vogue raglan tee pattern (made here and here) for the top half, and the bottom of V1314, that Tracy Reese dress that I've made multiple times both before and during pregnancy (here, here and here). I sewed the top with a little extra ease at the bust and used my maternity version of the bottom of the dress.  I love that this merges two TNTs together for an easy sew with some fun details.

Turning to the side to squish through tighter spaces doesn't work anymore. Ask how I know.  LOL 

In this case, the fun detail is that I used lace trimmed hook and eye tape to finish the raglan sleeves. Since the raglan seam runs all the way up the raglan sleeve to the neckline, this means that I can unhook each side in order to nurse. I tested out having the trim go across the neckline too, but it was not comfortable in the least. So, I finished the neckline without it. 

Lace hook and eye tape from Pacific Trimming

Anyway, this really was one more dress than I needed to get me through work. But I thought this would give me something to wear that is pretty and functional when we introduce Raspberry to family if we are up to attending any holiday gatherings. 

Happy Friday, everyone!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sewing Bee!!

Sorry for the silence the last few days. I've fallen behind with photographing and writing posts as the "Raspberry to do list" seems to have grown in length (birthing classes, weekly pre-natal visits, interviewing pediatricians, winding down work, and finishing feathering the nest).  Everything is still going great and I do have some finished things to show you soon.

One thing I haven't blogged about is that I'm part of the Pattern Review Contest Committee. It's been a fun and exciting year, working with my co-committee members to come up with and manage the many sewing contests on PR.  So, I'm super excited to tell you about our biggest and best contest yet...

I know there are a lot of contests out there, but I think this one is going to be pretty stinkin' awesome if I do say so myself! I can't promise any Project Runway style interpersonal drama or Tim Gunn mentor-ship, but there will be Auf Wiedersehens in addition to special guest judges, awesome prizes from Elliot Bermann Fabrics, Reliable (Irons) and Roost Books, and - peeps - the Grand Prize is a Bernina Serger.

One thing I really like is that the contest is open to everyone, as long as you are a PR member/user as of Sept 1 (ie: you can't sign up for PR in order to enter, but if you are already signed up, you are in). You just have to join and submit your Week 1 entry by November 7 (the week 1 challenge will be announced on Nov 1st).

More details about what to expect and how to join are on PR: Surprise Sewing Bee!  I hope to see some of you (bloggers and non) among the contestants!

Join the Sewing Bee!!!  

And on that note, stay tuned for your normally scheduled programming in the next few days...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

RTW to Maternity Jeans Hack

Early in my pregnancy, I scoured the internet for maternity hacks on RTW garments. There are a lot of tutorials out there, especially for jeans. However, I quickly realized that most were not going to work for me. So, I simply decided that maternity jeans would be one of the RTW investments I made.

Fast forward to now, when the weather is getting cooler, my belly is getting larger and I'm wanting some comfy jeans for the weekends. After one very disappointing jeans shopping excursion (ie: $210 for glorified jeggings??? um, no), I decided that perhaps a hack was indeed the way to go.

So, I took one pair of broken in jeans that I didn't feel too bad about chopping up since they were nearing the end of their lifespan...

And I added a jersey panel in the front...

And back... 

Now, I would not call the following a tutorial - I neither wrote up instructions nor photographed what I did step by step. This method is simply what seemed like common sense to me to do, and please feel free to make suggestions on what could be done better or differently.

First, I removed the waistband. Then I put the jeans on (unzipped) and basically traced from one side seam to the other, dipping around my bump with tailor's chalk. I  trued the line with a curved ruler and then drew a second line about 1/2 inch above the first for a seam allowance. Then I cut the bump piece out.

Next, I used that cut out piece to create a pattern piece, adding several inches (6 or so) to the top, so that the band would come up to the point where my belly begins to narrow.  I also cut a back band - I made it a bit smaller than the width of the back waistband I was replacing to account for the stretchy jersey.

Jeans piece and pattern piece

Then I used my pattern pieces to cut two fronts and two backs out of stretchy jersey so that my band is two layers thick. That way I can wear the band up over my belly or folded over.

Lastly, I simply serged the band pieces together at the side seams and top, flipped right side out and serged the whole thing into the jeans.

Here you can see it with the maternity panel folded over...

I do have a few complaints with my own hack, in particular, and maternity jeans, in general. They don't really stay up very well. Knit fabric really isn't particularly equipped to hold up denim, and the lack of a fly/waistband that sits on a narrower waist above wider hips really makes an impossible situation for the jeans staying put. I never realized what a bum deal men get with no waist to anchor pants in place. So, I feel like, if it was not for how wide a band I made, I'd be in danger of a plumbers' crack incident. I may try putting elastic in the top, but I don't know how much it will help.

Second, hacking jeans that fit closely before pregnancy is going to be problematic once a woman's hips begin to spread during pregnancy, usually beginning as early as 12 weeks. These were my broken-in, looser fit, wear-around-the-house jeans. They are definitely a bit more snug through the bum and hip than they were. This, actually, is one of the reasons I found a lot of the hacks on the internet not really appropriate for me since a lot of them don't take into account making room for anything but a growing belly.

All that aside, I will get some weekend wear out of these, and I may or may not chop up a pair of skinny jeans. We'll see if I need or want them in the next few weeks.

I know, I know. Still not looking all that bump-ish, am I? And this was taken just on Sunday. Phin was teasing me about underachieving in the bump department at the moment this was taken. But I still kind of love this picture for some reason. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Frankendress #3: Now a Skirt

Sometimes a compromise is the best solution.  After considering the options for my failed Frankendress #3, I decided to try quickly adding a sleeve. It didn't work. Not at all. Aside from having to invest a lot of time to make the sleeve/shoulder area fit in a pleasing way if I wanted to go ahead with that, there is just no remedy for a too short top that - if I raised my arm at all - would leave a seam across my bust.

So, I decided to save the bottom half as a skirt.

At first I was somewhat disappointed with this outcome, since I thought the dress would be rather chic. However, now that I look at pictures, I'm feeling very good about this outfit. It has a similar vibe to what I was hoping for in the dress. 

As a very quick recap, this is the Megan Nielsen ruched maternity skirt that I was trying to frankenpattern into a dress. At this point, I could sew this skirt in my sleep since this is my 5th iteration (3 skirts + 2 frankendresses).

The knit fabric was a gift from the Sewing Cave.  The color - which is practically navy - is not one that I normally gravitate to, but I find the print and the mix of black and blue very appealing for some reason. I have enough fabric left, that if I want to alter this for post-pregnancy wear, there will be enough for a new top.

And here is the obligatory bump shot.

It's going to be a busy week for posts to make up for the last two.  I have two more completed sewing projects and two that are half done.  Plus I need to motivate myself to finish three knitting projects that just need some seaming or sewing together.  It seems that, with just six weeks until my due date, my energy flags in the evening, when I would normally do finishing work.  Wish me luck, as we go into the final countdown.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Blue for Boys, Pink for Girls?

Deciding not to learn Raspberry's gender has met with a variety of responses from the people in our life. Some have shared their own happy or mixed experiences and some have embraced the surprise of it all, while others have hinted that they think we secretly know, but just aren't telling. To me, the strangest reaction to our secret is the sentiment that it's too bad we don't know, because it means we can't buy or receive gifts that are gender specific.

That was the point.

But going even a step further, what exactly is wrong with blue for girls or pink for boys?  In my mind, "gender appropriate" colors or clothing or toys for infants is just a symptom of our societal need to sort everyone into a neat little box.

A cute little hat and some socks in navy blue is sometimes simply that, for either a boy or a girl. (Apologies for the not great indoor photo colors - these are a very navy blue and not at all purple.)

These should look familiar since I used leftover yarn from socks that I knit for Phin last year, knit up using the Easy Peasy Newborn Sock Hat and Toe Up Baby Socks that I previously blogged

Look how tiny compared to Phin's feet!

I also made cashmere boucles socks from leftover yarn from my very first socks ever.

Cashmere Self Striping socks

So, boy or girl, my Raspberry will be staying snug with this little blue set. If Raspberry is a she, I won't be offended if strangers assume "he" because of a blue hat. Raspberry will be equally warm.

And someday Raspberry will have a favorite color and wear hats in that color instead.

What are your thoughts on gender assigned color?  Do you think it matters? Does your favorite color defy gender norms?

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Big 3-9!

Today is my birthday! It's strange to think that there is any birthday or holiday happening this year other than Raspberry's impending birth. But here I am, and another year has passed. It's been a joyful year and I'm feeling happy about my life.

My birthday post last year talked about how I felt that 38 would be a metamorphosis year. It was incredibly prescient considering that Phin and I had not, at that point, really talked about or decided that we wanted to be parents now. Isn't it funny how life can change in a year?

But this past year has been about more than just the road to parenthood. It's also been about friends and family, travel and fun, with a healthy dose of chocolate and other pastries. Here are some of my favorite memories...

Travel with Phin...

Paris and Amsterdam (amazing croissants)
 Watching the little ones grow...

Yes, I did sew that dashiki top on the right...

L: "Contemplative zombie" Halloween with Linus, Ctr: "T-Rex wishes Uncle Phin happy bday", R: frogging with Orpheus.

 New Friends, Old Friends, Sewing Friends  - I could have filled an entire post with this...

What a fun year!

And Raspberry...

It really is the people in our lives that make it sweet.

I'm celebrating today at home. We are moving furniture back into freshly painted rooms, I've already baked some brownies and finished a small DIY home improvement project, and we're about to head out for a late birthday lunch. A happy day. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!