Still Sewing?

If you've been around these parts for a while you may wonder what happened to all of the sewing I was doing.

Back in Spring I was cranking pieces out and then once I got through my Summer Slump (yes, it needs capitals -- like The Plague) I started ramping up my creative output once again. But sewing never really caught on the way everything else did. What happened?

Well, I can give you a few excuses.

1) The reason I'm constantly giving -- I have a toddler. He's into everything and he screams for no reason than to see the look on my face as I try not to pinch his adorable little head off. There's just no sewing when dealing with this kind of little monster. There's almost no making dinner or cleaning or brushing my teeth.

2) I'm pregnant. Not really an excuse to dodge sewing, but the cutting of fabric and piecing together that I normally do spread out on the living room floor is a lot harder now. I have very crazy balance issues (shocker) and it hurts my knees/hips/back to crouch down like that for long periods of time.

3) Entropy. I haven't been sewing so it's easier to continue not sewing than it is to start.

4) I actually have been sewing and just didn't tell you about it.

This is true. This is all true. But I did make one project in the last month that has gone to its recipient so I can finally share it with you.

Trick or Treat Tote.png

Just a simple tote bag, right? Right? Then why did it make me so frustrated that Chris actually tried to take me away from my machine (despite the considerable weight gain I am still easier to wrangle than a machine he has no experience with). 

Ok, so there is nothing wrong with this actual product, just the brain that was trying to sew it together. August was my friend Taryn's birthday and since Halloween is her favorite holiday I always do some sort of Halloween themed item in her birthday package. This year Hawthorne Threads did a Haunted Tote kit, where they printed all the pieces and directions on one piece of fabric and you just cut and sew. Pretty cool concept, should be fairly straight forward.

WRONG! These directions were so clearly laid out that it was far too easy for my addled brain to wander while reading over them so that I sewed the straps on wrong not once, not twice, but four times. FOUR TIMES! First I sewed them on the top, which means when I sewed the lining they were inside the bag. Then I sewed them sideways. Then I don't even know what I did, all I know is that I had to rip those seams so many times.

But in the end I persevered, walked away from my machine, and haven't touched it since. But Halloween is coming and while I don't have our costume plans nailed down yet, I do have themed outfits to sew.

There are only so many years I have before my kids stop letting me dress them. I must make Halloween overalls while the sun shines.

Outfit-A-Long 2017

I had every intention of writing this post on Saturday, but then the very serious events in Virginia happened and it seemed silly to write about sewing and knitting when others were confronting the growing threat of Nazism in our country. So I decided to give it a few days to process before returning to this space. I am a white woman and I know that part of my privilege is that I can ignore these issues when I choose, but at the same time this is a space where I talk a lot about myself and I don't want to make my discussion of this issue all about me. So know that in my daily life I am trying to find ways that I can rethink how I can engage these issues, but I will be keeping this space as positive and encouraging as possible. If you have any ideas of how I can do this in a more inclusive way, please let me know. I am always looking for new ways to grow this space for all of you.

Ok, on to the creating!

You may remember that back at the beginning of the summer I had grand plans to knit/sew an outfit for our fifth anniversary date to see Garbage and Blondie last weekend. But then I found out I am pregnant and life went a little sideways for many many weeks. Something people don't talk about often when discussing close pregnancies is that you never get a chance to recover fully before your body starts at it again. I'm not talking about losing all the baby weight (though that would be nice), but my organs and bones had not all gone back to their regular places, so when Stormy came on the scene my body was like "Oh, we know how to do this" and pop -- almost immediate baby bump. Not the most encouraging way to start a new outfit.

Fortunately the knitted part of my outift (TPCT by Teresa Gregorio) was already in progress, so I plodded away until I had a finished crop top. I shortened it just a hair because the hem was already beginning to flare over the baby, so I didn't want to knit it to full length only to find the bindoff was too tight. I used two gorgeous skeins of Junkyarn Smooth Sock in Padme, which I just love. The speckles are all very soft except for the occasional pop of red and black, which I can only assume is a nod to the Episode One outfit. I alternated skeins so I had about a fourth of each left at the end. Enough for some shorties for me or toddler socks for the kidlets?

The sewing part of this outfit (Cleo, Tilly and the Buttons) didn't take nearly as long, but was more mentally taxing. When I lost my creative mojo I lost all interest in sewing as well as knitting. Which turns out in this case was good. I didn't actually start cutting fabric until the week of the show, which meant that I was able to cut a size that fit. I was fantasizing sewing a few more as I get bigger because it is such an easy pattern, but the fit is not really designed for someone carrying the majority of her body weight on the lower front of her torso. However, I can see myself sewing some for spring post-baby.

I sewed the short version with two front pockets instead of the single bib pocket. I love pockets (as do all women -- take note designers!), so I almost put all three, but decided in the end that would be a bit much. The entire sewing process only took a few nap times, or about half of iZombie season 3. Everything went smoothly until the final edge stitching, when I had to reload the bobbin. No matter how many times I restarted and rethereaded I could not get my stitching to lay flat and even. I finally gave up because it was the night before the show and simply did the best I could. It's not as nice as I'd like, but it works for now. Maybe someday soon I'll rip out the stitching and redo it.

Even though I did not finish in time to enter the Outfit-A-Long I am still pretty pleased with myself. In years past I have only participated in the knitting and wished I could sew. This year I actually created an entire outfit! Maybe next year I'll build on my momentum and actually submit a finished outfit.

Oh! The concert was great by the way. Garbage was just as amazing as I had hoped and Blondie was simply divine. It was so inspiring to see such great bands fronted by women who have been icons for more than a generation. My new goal is to be Debbie Harry when I grow up because dude, that woman rocks.

Arum and a Half

Pasha is making moves toward walking.

It's terrifying and exciting and terribly sad. He's stumbling around holding our hands, laughing and chasing after the dog. Life is full of activity and requires us to be ready and able to jump up and run at any moment. People joke about the messy and boring wardrobe that mothers of young children find themselves in -- tshirts, leggings, messy buns. But if you know us, you'd know that we're just wearing whatever is comfortable and can survive the frantic chasing of our little people.

This has been on my mind a lot as I have started to make my own clothes. As much as I love everything I have made, some pieces are more practical than others. And I'll be honest. When I first decided to make Arum, I did not think it would be much more than a piece to wear to church or out to dinner. But it turns out that this shirt dress style is perfect for shuttling Pasha to storytimes and chasing him around at playdates.

I don't know the brand of the fabric I used, but it is a lawn cotton I picked up at Creative Threads. When I went in I had no idea what I was looking for, so the woman who runs the shop pointed me to this. It was a little more expensive than the fabric I have used in the past, but the wear is perfect for our hot NC weather. Plus it doesn't show the wrinkles nearly as much as I have experienced in traditional quilting cotton.

The only change I would make to this is a longer hem. I sewed it to pattern, and I like a shorter skirt because my post-baby legs are getting quite toned from pushing strollers and running up and down stairs. But ultimately this length is a little too short to sit comfortably on the floor without paying careful attention to how I place my legs. And we all know that artful sitting is not top of the mind when playing trains.

I already made a second version as a shirt and was quite pleased with the result. I used the Anne of Green Gables print from Windham's  Literary line. As a stiffer fabric it fit a little more closely, but I didn't mind. That is until I put on our baby carrier for a quick Target run and popped the underarm seams. It should be a quick fix, but I don't think I'll wear it until my body has adjusted a little more. Because Mom boobs.

Outfit-A-Long

Every year at this time Andi Satturlund kicks off her annual outfit-a-long.

It is a two month knitting and sew-a-long that she cohosts in which participants create two garment pieces, one knitted and one sewn, to be worn as one handmade outfit. Every year I watch the finished objects roll in and wish I could join in the fun. I've participated in just the knitted portion several times, but for the first year ever I feel confident enough to jump all the way in.

This outfit was actually conceived before the announcement of the outfit-a-long. This year for the first time ever (at least since I've lived here), Garbage will be coming to Raleigh as part of their tour. They will be coming with Blondie and they will be coming the weekend of our fifth wedding anniversary. So, of course, we are going. Originally I was just knitting the Allegany Shawl to take for the inevitable chill once the sun goes down. Something about this pattern screams outdoor concert to me, even if it will actually be a million degrees, rendering the shawl unnecessary. We all know great knitting starts in the mind.

I then ordered some lightweight denim from Hawthorn Threads in this lovely pink color to make a Cleo. I love that overall jumpers are stylish again, so I decided to make the mini skirt version. Because it is pink and I'm accenting the shawl with pink, it was meant to be. But then -- then I decided to finally make a TPCT (Totally Perfect Crop Top) and the madness was fully realized with the purchase of two skeins of Junkyarn at Black Mountain Yarn Shop. I may be the mother of a small child, but if I am finally going to see Shirley Manson live I am going all out.

Sew Obsessed

There's a French comic making the rounds right now about the mental load of motherhood.

I find it completely fascinating. I'm blessed with a husband who wants to take his share of the load at home, but I am also the stay-at-home parent, so I tend to put more on myself despite the fact that I am serving as a caretaker at all times. You don't have to be plugged in to the feminist community to understand that mom brains are typically going a thousand miles per hour and juggling various to-dos and responsibilities. For me I think this is why I have fallen so in love with sewing.

I only began sewing in earnest in March, so I am still learning so much about my machine, garment construction, pattern reading, etc. Any time I sit down at my machine it requires my whole attention. I can't sew with the baby in the room or while talking on the phone. I have to put the entire world on the other side of the door and just focus.

That is super rare in my life. At one point knitting was like this, but now I am so accustomed to knitting that it is actually hard for me to sit and knit without the tv going or a book on my lap. It's great to have an activity I can do during mealtimes when Pasha insists on feeding himself, but it does nothing to tune out the craziness in my head. It helps me to stay calm, but it is not the complete escape that sewing has become.

I know this probably sounds ridiculous, and there are many other factors that contribute to this new-found obsession. But the chance for a complete escape, even just for a stolen thirty minutes during nap time, is so precious right now. And that makes all the difference.