The Making of Baby RBG: A Halloween DIY

It started out innocent: I was picking Andy up from daycare a few weeks ago when one of her teachers said they were going to have a Halloween celebration and the babies could dress up. At first I shrugged it off. Halloween has never been a real source of excitement for me so I was thinking I’d just put her in a festive onesie and call it a day.

BUT THEN I REMEMBERED I SEW (Ha! As if I’d ever forget). And that the internet exists (thus, “quick and easy” costume sewing tutorials would be in abundance…and they were).

Inspiration

I sent some ideas to my sister-in-law (because she always entertains my craziest ideas).

Initial costumes considered: Rosie the Riveter, a ladybug, a cookie sandwich, Cookie Monster, aerobics instructor, Iris Apfel, Frida Kahlo, Tina from Bob’s Burgers – we had some serious choices to make.

Ultimately, the vote was for Ruth Bader Ginsburg!

Originally I thought we’d go with a black onesie and a fabric doily (easy-peasy), but I decided to use what I already had on hand (aka: over-complicate this seemingly innocent costume adventure) with the picture below as inspiration:

Material

I’m really proud to say that I did not buy a single thing for this costume!

  • The black fabric (crepe I think – donated from someone’s attic) for the robe was in my stash (as was the fabric used for the bias bindings).
  • My Mom gave me a stack of vintage handkerchiefs a few years ago she got from an antique shop (I used some ivory rayon challis fabric [similar] scraps from my stash for the body of the bib).
  • A friend let me borrow some snaps (for the front of the robe & the bib closure) from her stash.
  • The glasses belong to the Hubs (no prescription – they are blue light blocking glasses).
  • I made the bow a few weeks ago for a separate occasion (tutorial).

If you are looking to make your own RBG costume you might be surprised at what you already have that could work. Any type of black fabric (a bit of drape/flowiness would be preferable) can work for the robe. The costume just needs a black “backdrop” so alternatively you could use a black onesie or solid black outfit of any kind.

Rather than making a separate bib, you could just safety pin a vintage handkerchief or some lace to the front of the onesie/outfit (that was my original plan) or pin that to an existing bib (try to stick with a light color/no print so you don’t distract from the detail of the “collar.”

A toy gavel would be a great addition to the costume.

The Pattern

I was limited on time so I immediately decided that the robe would be kimono style with no set-in sleeves. To get the “pattern,” I used a jacket she had that I knew fit her currently. I laid half of the jacket on top of the black fabric along the fold.

When cutting, I added space around the jacket for seam allowance. I wanted it to have a little extra volume (like an actual judge’s robe) so I graded out a little extra in the body. I didn’t include extra space on the length of the sleeves because I didn’t want them to be too long (and, again, to more closely resemble the fitting of an actual judge’s robe).

For the back of the robe, I cut on the fold. For the front of the robe, I cut the fabric on the fold the same way, but then cut up the fold afterward to create two separate pieces. I knew I wanted the front to open so it would be easy to get on a squirmy baby.

Since finishing a Dress No. 1 recently, I’ve been on a bias finishing kick (great tutorial from IndieSew here). I knew I wanted to – at least – use bias binding to finish the neck. After cutting the pattern out and sewing the front to the back, I tried it on Andy and realized that I didn’t want to lose much length. So, rather than flipping-and-stitching the hem, I decided to bias bind the bottom too.

Sewing the Costume

The Robe

I considered French seams (because you know I love them), but ultimately decided to use the overlock stitch on my machine to eliminate the extra step.

I stitched the shoulder (& sleeve) seams together at the top and then the front-to-the-back (including the underside of the sleeves) down the sides.

This is where I stopped and tried it on Andy to see about the fit.

Then I used scrap fabric to create bias binding which I used to finish the bottom hem > the front closure (like a faux button placket) > and the neck – in that order.

Last, I attached the snaps every 2 inches.

The collar

Because of the laciest part of the handkerchief as at a corner, I wanted to make a bandanna style bib to show it off. I traced a bandanna bib Andy already had that fit well and used that as my pattern (if you do this, be sure to include an extra 1/2 inch around the edges for your seam allowance…or you can use this tutorial and pattern).

The rayon challis scraps I was using for the bib base were [obviously] super slippery. So, I used a tip I heard recently on the Love to Sew podcast and laid the fabric on top of some terry cloth (a towel would work) to keep it from slipping while I cut. That worked so well!

I constructed the bib by sewing RST, leaving a few inches unsewn at the neck, and flipping to WST. Before top-stitching, I placed the handkerchief where I wanted it on the front of the bib. I folded the top of the handkerchief by the neck since there was no neat way to get it to fold over the curved edge. I top-stitched around the bib like normal which held the handkerchief down without any extra (messy) stitching.

Here you can see where the handkerchief was folded over and how only the edges of the bib are top-stitched. This held the handkerchief on perfectly and once around Andy’s neck, it looked much more unified.

I tried the bib on Andy before attaching the snap to see if I needed to adjust the placement of the snap before attaching. Then I added the snap.

Lying flat the bib looks a little wonky, but you can see here how the handkerchief is attached.

Accessories

The glasses

Originally I had asked the Hubs to buy some baby sunglasses that we could pop the lenses out of. Our local Target only had bigger kid glasses according to him and the two he brought home weren’t quite right (though one pair would have been perfect for Iris Apfel so I’m saving them for the future!).

On that note, I remembered that he had some blue light blocking glasses that could work!

The bow

Obviously, RBG doesn’t wear bows, but I needed something to hold the glasses on so the elastic band bows I’ve been making came in quite handy.

You can see the elastic from the bow holding the glasses on here. (Also, please excuse the dinosaur feet. This was on our wear-pajamas-all-day Sunday).

More inspiration

We are certainly not the first to dress our baby up as RBG – check out these others:

I was also excited to see Alex dressed as RBG on this week’s episode of Modern Family:

I especially love the necklace!

Not gonna lie, when I see Kate McKinnon slide on the screen during SNL‘s Weekend Update, it makes my day! Her impersonation is so funny.

Rock your RBG inspiration all year long

If you love RBG and want to stay inspired beyond Halloween, I found these super cool gifts (just in time for the holidays if you have an RBG lover on your list!):

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How to host a destash on Instagram

I recently hosted a destash on Instagram. While doing some research in preparation for the destash, I was surprised at how little information was out there despite how popular destashing is these days. That said, I’m hoping this post will be helpful to others!

This post is heavily based on hosting a sewing supply/fabric destash because that is my craft of choice. However, most of these tips are universal.

Steps to hosting a destash

 1. Do your research

Here are some places to start: this is a list of great tips for a successful destash, here’s a post with destashing tips that go beyond hosting a sale on Instagram, and this step-by-step guide is from a paper crafter but her tips are super useful.

Ask for advice

I have a friend who hosts regular destashes that I reached out to immediately when I decided to host one of my own. She gave me lots of good advice and was there to answer questions as they arose. If you’ve got a friend who’s hosted a destash before, ask for their advice! If you don’t, find someone on Instagram – I received a private message from someone I have never met asking a question because she was in the process of doing some research to host her own destash. I happily shared what I learned in real-time–and, to be honest, she is the inspiration for this post!

 2. Gather the items for your destash & determine a schedule

Limit on maximum posts per day

I was not able to find an official statement from Instagram, but according to others you are limited to 100 posts per day on the platform.

Take this into consideration when planning your sale – you may need multiple days.

Separate into categories

When the declutter bug bit me, I started gathering items I was ready to part with and quickly realized that everything fit neatly into 4 categories: Books, Fabric, Patterns, and Supplies.

On that note, I decided to break my destash into 4 parts to post across 4 days:

Alternatively [if you have fewer than 100 items], you could post them all in one day, but separate them into categories by creating “divider posts” announcing that one section is done and you are posting the next (similar to how I posted at the end of each day – example).

Post across multiple days

I highly recommend considering it if you have a lot to post. It creates some additional anticipation for your followers and also gives you time to catch up so you’re not too overwhelmed.

 3. Develop a shipping plan

First, decide whether you want to offer international shipping.

Due to my limited experience shipping overseas, I decided against offering international shipping for my first destash. If you are comfortable shipping overseas, go for it – it’ll immediately expand your pool of potential customers!

Second, decide WHO will ship the packages.

This goes back to your shipping experience. I have had great success using my local USPS for shipping packages so I knew they were the carrier I would use.

Third, decide HOW you will ship the packages.

Options:

  1. Purchase your own shipping supplies. You can do this on Amazon or reuse boxes/folders/envelopes you already have (just be sure to remove any labels from the previous contents or wrap in Kraft paper to avoid confusion).
  2. Use flat rate envelopes/boxes. You can have the USPS ship flat rate shipping supplies directly to your home for free (so convenient!). Then you just pay the postage when you ship the package(s).

I chose to use flat rate shipping. The legal flat rate envelope was my most-used size. It was great for fabric and patterns. If you will be shipping items more delicate items, you may want to get some padded envelopes and/or boxes (medium, size 2 worked best for me).

If you have a scale to weigh your packages, you can calculate the shipping online pretty easily. Honestly, if I were savvier, I would have done that. The cost of shipping deterred at least 2 purchases that I was made aware of. 😦

Flat rate shipping is more costly for the buyer but more convenient for the seller – there are pros & cons for each option.

Fourth, determine shipping costs.

Once you have decided on your carrier, search their site for a shipping cost calculator. Here are links to a few: USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

For reference if you are using USPS Flat Rate shipping:

     ** shipping costs noted are current as of the time of this post (October 2018).

Other options to consider:

  1. You could include shipping in the price you list for the item.
  2. You could add shipping estimates to each item individually (this sounds really time consuming, but you do you).
  3. You could provide shipping estimates based on the amount purchased (based on yardage if you are just selling fabric or number of items if you want to encourage larger quantity purchases, etc.).
  4. You could calculate shipping after the order has been placed (so you can combine all items the buyer requests then have one shipping estimate for everything they choose).

Whatever you decide, specify clearly either in each individual post, your profile bio, and/or in a separate shipping post – make the information easy to find and understand.

Fifth, decide WHEN you will ship packages.

If you are hosting a multi-day destash (like I did), I would recommend shipping after the final day. So, my destash was Monday through Thursday with posts each night. To give enough time for customers to shop and for me to sort/package orders, I shipped the Monday after my destash began.

If you are posting your destash all at once, you may want to ship within a certain time-frame (example: within 3-5 days of payment received).

Last, draft your shipping “rules” to post.

Options:

  1. Include brief shipping information in your bio.
  2. Draft a separate post only about shipping (if you have a lot of shipping details you want to provide, this is a good option).
  3. Include your shipping information in your general rules post (this is good if you want to keep the important/pertinent information condensed to one post).

If you have an iPhone, use the “Notes” app on your phone to draft your shipping rules. Alternatively, you could use Canva or a similar program to create an image with your shipping rules listed (like this one).

 4. Create your RULES

Every destash needs rules so customers know what to do to claim the goods.

Take a look at destash accounts you already follow and/or find some to check out – examples:

  • MINE (pictured below)
  • @whatkatiesews_destash – she posted multiple images to flip through for the rules. I really like this idea – it’s so creative and really great for visual people/people who refuse to read long posts 😉
  • @kelbysews_destash
  • You can list your rules entirely in one image like @iamlunasol_destash.

This needs to be THE FIRST post so be sure you have it drafted and ready-to-go as soon as you create your account.

Create an image that stands out so that when followers visit your profile, they can tell immediately that it’s not a post of something for sale. I created a graphic in Canva and included “READ ME” in the image so it was obvious.

 5. Organize and track your inventory

Create a method that works for you to track your inventory/destash items. I created a Google Sheet for ease and accessibility, but an Excel spreadsheet or even a paper notebook (just don’t lose it) would work just fine.

Below is a screenshot of my “inventory” spreadsheet:

I created columns for the category, item for sale, description, price, buyer’s info, and dates.

If you have receipts from your original purchase of the item, reference those for pricing. While you hope to generate money from your destash, do not expect to profit. You are reselling items not selling brand-new inventory. Price your items to reflect that.

If you are not sure about how to price an item, do a quick google search to see what it’s selling for online. For fabric, you can find information about the designer and collection on the selvage so use that information in your search and again in your post (i.e. listing for the customer).

 6. Take photos of your inventory

Try to use natural light – if you have a table or clean space outdoors, that’s a great option. You could put a white sheet on some grass or your driveway to protect the item and provide a neutral backdrop. Or if you have a well-lit room/clean space by a window, that’s a good indoor option. Just do your best to accurately capture the color of the material and condition of the item (take close-up/detail shots of any “blemishes” and convey in the listing).

Include identifying information in the photo (optional)

Not only does this help the customer, but it will help YOU when you start drafting your posts.

I used pieces of scrap paper – below is an example:

the note beside the fabric includes the dimensions for reference

Take detail shots

If you have an item with a special detail (or flaw), take a close-up photo and include it as an additional image (Click here to learn how to share multiple photos in one post on Instagram).

A “detail shot” to show off the metallic print

PS: You don’t need a fancy camera for photos – I used my iPhone. While you want to take the best possible pictures, you are not opening a professional store. This is a DESTASH – think of it as a sophisticated garage sale 😉

 7. Create your account

Choose your handle

Most people just add “destash” to their current Instagram profile name so that it’s easily identified with them. Add a period (.) or underscore (_) before “destash” to separate visually.

My personal account has a somewhat long handle (@jordanslicemet) so I condensed it a little for my destash handle and just used my first name: @jordans.destash.

Write your bio

Information to include in your bio:

  • Who you are (name/personal IG handle) – You can link your personal account so people can click over and get an idea for your aesthetic.
  • What you will be destashing (i.e. “sewing supply & fabric destash”)
  • Basic rules and shipping information (there’s a character limit so keep it short)

 8. Promote your destash!

Share about your destash on your personal Instagram account and with all of your sewing friends. You may even want to share on Facebook or other social media platforms.

Unless you have a large following on your destash account already, I would recommend sharing and promoting your destash for a few days before you launch the sale (I wouldn’t wait any longer than a week because people will lose interest/forget).

Share about your destash AFTER you have 1) created your account so you can link to it, 2) posted your RULES, 3) posted your shipping “policy.” I would also add a photo after your rules & shipping with information about WHEN the sale will start or include the dates/times in your bio. (I recommend separating your rules post and your sale dates so that when the sale is over you have the option to delete the post with your dates but keep the rules posted.)
Share sneak peeks

Leading up to the start of your destash, try to share sneak peek photos (example: I shared the photo below of my daughter with some of the fabric we were measuring in preparation for the detash).

To stay “relevant” (aka: active/in your feed), you could post related quotes, memes, etc. Just make sure they are relevant and [obviously] not offensive (stick to your topic at hand – no politics or opinions about things other than how great your destash items are).

Example: I shared this post in the days leading up to my sale.

 9. Load your posts as DRAFTS before your sale

Mega-time saver!

After you have your photos, start loading them into your Instagram account as drafts.

Click here for the official instructions, but below is the jist:

  1. While logged into your account, click on the + icon in the middle of your screen to start a post.
  2. Select your photos and proceed.
  3. Enter your caption then click the backward arrow in the upper left corner of the screen.
  4. Click the arrow again and click “Save Draft”

As you navigate backwards, you will get the option to: Save Draft (which saves the post as a draft), Discard (which deletes the draft), or Cancel.

I have not been able to find a limit for the number of drafts you can have loaded at one time. However, I’ve had over 20 at a time with no issue. To note, only 4 drafts will show when you click the “+” button to post. If you click “Manage” (see image below), you can then access all of your drafts – this is helpful if you are trying to post in a certain order.

Include relevant hashtags in your posts!

When drafting your posts, be sure to include destash-related hashtags. Below are a few I used:

 10. Post your items

The moment you’ve been waiting for!

I advertised that I’d be posting at 8:00pm EST (I picked this time because I could guarantee my hands would be free since it’s after Andy goes to sleep 😉 ). I set a reminder on my phone to go off at 8:00pm to remind me to post for that day (I also set one to remind me to construct the draft posts).

Because I already had my posts saved as drafts, I had everything posted within minutes (no staying up late for me!). HERE are official instructions on how to share posts saved as drafts.

I highly recommend creating a post to notify followers when you are done (so they’re not waiting around to see what’s coming next).

Because my destash spread across multiple days, I posted an “end” photo each evening (example). This was also good as a visual separation since the days were chosen by the type of item – so, followers could go to my profile and scroll between each of the “end” images (they were consistent visually) to see a particular group of items.

Include information in your “end post” relating to when buyers will receive invoices (or if they already have) and when to pay, when to expect packages to ship, or any other remaining information (you could even offer a discount on anything that is still available).

Click the image to view my “Thank You” (end post) in Instagram

 11. Track purchases.

I created a second spreadsheet within the same workbook I used to track inventory called “invoices” where I tracked information for items that sold.

In this worksheet I tracked the buyer’s name, items for their invoice, costs (I built formulas in some of these cells to sum/total for me), PayPal email address, dates, address, and tracking number for the package. I have blanked identifying information in the screenshot below. The yellow cells indicate information that I needed/did not have.

At minimum, I highly recommend tracking purchases including all information for the buyer that you need for invoicing and shipping. This is good to have on hand if you ever need it for reference (at least until the package has been confirmed as delivered).

 12. Send invoices & collect payments.

PayPal is the most popular method for destash payments. It’s very easy to “request money” from someone as long as you have their email address.

I sent the invoices as requests for payment and included a list of the items they purchased in the notes area for reference. Alternatively, you could create a more formal invoice.

PayPal does charge a small fee so take that into account with your pricing. Despite the fee, I think it’s well worth it for convenience.

 13. Provide high quality customer service.

You are technically running a shop of sorts so treat your potential buyers/customers how you like to be treated when shopping.

  1. Respond promptly to comments and DM’s. Your efficiency at answering customer questions can impact your sales. {PS: Be sure to check your message requests in case you are not following the sender – here’s how to}
  2. Provide updates to buyers via DM. Keep your buyers updated throughout the process (i.e. let them know when you send the invoice, when you receive their payment, when you ship the package, etc.).
  3. Upsell, but don’t be pushy. Because I was using flat rate shipping, I was motivated to stuff the packages as full as possible (I always want to get my “money’s worth” 😉 ). So, I messaged customers after they chose their initial items to ask if they wanted to add anything without increasing their shipping – particularly for orders that had a lot of extra space in the package. This was helpful both for me (it helped me “move more inventory”) and for them (spreading shipping costs across multiple items is more economical). Be careful with this: Try to present this offer softly with an easy way for them to decline kindly and respect their choice.
  4. Include a hand-written note. I used to do this when I had an Etsy shop. It’s always a nice personal touch to receive a hand-written note when you order something online.

I used my pinking sheers to cut strips of fabric scraps and an old needle to stitch them onto scrap card stock. I included the buyer’s name on the front and a note on the back. {similar to this tutorial}

 14. Remove posts as you ship them.

Nothing is worse than opening a destash account, falling head-over-heels for something they have posted only to find that it has already been snagged by someone else in the comments.

This isn’t so bad if the item hasn’t shipped yet (i.e. your sale is still open/has just begun) because a person could comment to be a back-up in case the original buyer passes on the item).

Once the payment has been received and the package has been shipped, ARCHIVE the post. Archiving the post (rather than actually deleting the post), will remove the post from your feed (i.e. it will no longer be visible to potential customers as they view your profile and posts). You can do this by clicking the 3 dots in the upper right corner then choosing “Archive”:

Archiving a post is handy because you don’t lose the original post information – including comments. So, if you ever need to reference that information in the future, you have it!

To view a post after it has been archived and/or to add it back to your feed: click on your profile then click the clock circle icon in the upper left corner. When I did this, I was confused because I didn’t see the posts. If you click on the arrow at the top of the screen, you will be given the option to switch to archived posts (it appears to default on stories):

HERE is more information about archiving a post on Instagram.

Phew! I know that was a lengthy guide, but I hope you found it helpful.

If you are hosting a destash, leave a link to your account where others can shop in the comments below!

 

My 2018 Sewing Goals

I realize we are now 2/3 of the way through the year so I’m just a weeeee bit late setting annual goals, but I have been feeling a real pull to set goals lately. This was sparked by a combination of binge listening to the Love to Sew podcast (specifically the episode on Planningand feeling very scattered (both emotionally as well as physically in regards to the fact that I have many works-in-progress collecting dust).

It’s also Libra “season” so naturally (as a Libra) I’m seeking balance 😉

 1. Sew my stash

I heard about this on Episode 30 of the Love to Sew podcast, but I have had this idea (to some degree) for a while.

Over the years I have really decreased my fabric-purchasing-sprees and tried to focus on buying only when I didn’t have the right substrate for the project. However, I was inspired to push this goal further after hearing about #makeyourstash.

Goal: For the remainder of 2018, I will sew only with fabric already in my stash – no new fabric will be purchased.

2. Finish sewing my current works-in-progress

I have several projects that I’ve started and abandoned (temporarily). I would like to save these WIP’s from dying a slow, quiet death in the dusty oblivion of forgotten fabric. Even if they are never worn (but they will be), they deserve to be complete.

Embarrassingly, I have more than the 2 listed below, but these are the 2 I’m forcing myself to finish.

Arenite Pants

At first I wasn’t sure this pattern was for me.. until I saw Meg’s version!

Arenite pants inspiration from Meg

I made it as far as sewing the leg panels together before realizing I cut the front seam incorrectly after sewing (I trimmed both seams preventing me from creating the felled seam in the instructions. I have a French-seam-ish idea + sewing a smaller seam allowance to finish the sides of the pants that will hopefully allow the pants to still fit #fingerscrossed). That said, I was frustrated with my irreversible mistake so they have been sitting in time-out.

Harrington Shorts

These shorts have been on my to-make list for years (literally. I promised them to Jeremy for his birthday 3+ years ago). I pulled the pattern out after Andy was born and cut into some Essex Linen I’d been hoarding. Sewing is my love language and my husband was incredible during those first few weeks having a newborn – I really wanted to make something special for him. He’s still wonderful so he still deserves these 😉

I’ve only found one completed pair of Harrington shorts in the blogosphere, but the review sounds like they’re worth powering through. I’ve got some minor adjustments to make before I hem them (they’re really close to being done!).

Goal: By the end of 2018, I will finish sewing my black Arenite Pants and the Harrington shorts for Jeremy.

 3. Purge my closet

I recently checked out a copy of The Curated Closet from my local library and have been reading through it…making notes and doing most of the activities.

Jenny posted a really great review of the book on The Curvy Sewing Collective if you’re wondering how this book relates to sewing.

Goal: Condense closet into 3 categories outlined in The Curated Closet: Basics, Key Pieces, Statement Pieces to identify gaps in wardrobe. Purge pieces that no longer fit my style.

 4. Make a PLAN for sewing in 2019

Sometimes I feel a little lost when I finish a project. I have so many ideas of what I want to sew next running through my head at all times that once I finally reach the point of being able to start the next project, I feel too overwhelmed to make a choice. Then I get stuck in the planning phase trying to decide what to make next.

Developing a sewing PLAN will help my indecisiveness and hopefully help me stay on track with my goals (and maybe even be more efficient!). Basing this plan off of what I discover based on Goal #3 above will be helpful to keep me focused on pieces I need and will undoubtedly wear and enjoy for years to come.

Goal: Use my Colette Sewing Planner to map out 6 garments to make in 2019.

Do you set goals? Do you stick to them? Share your tips with me!

5 Ways to Make Your Sewing More Eco-Friendly

After stumbling upon #plasticfreejuly, I’ve been feeling super inspired to decrease my family’s wasteful behaviors. {Easier said than done when you have a baby in diapers.}

Since I can’t control how often my husband buys bottled water at the gas station, I started reflecting on things that are in my control – what can I do to decrease my impact on the planet?

Because sewing is my self-care and something that I do a lot of, I felt like it was the perfect area to focus on improving.

“Zero waste” feels completely un-achievable (for me), but I am a firm believer that small steps add up to a big impact. So, today I’m sharing 5 totally-manageable, realistic ideas to help you become a more environmentally-friendly sewist.

FIRST, what do I mean by “eco-friendly”?

According to Dictionary.com, ecofriendly is…

having a beneficial effect on the environment or at least not causing environmental damage

I like this! It feels achievable – don’t we all want to live a life that benefits the environment?! (If you answered No, this may not be the post for you! 😉 )

Like with just about anything, there is always room for improvement – sewing is no exception.

Below are 5 environmentally-friendly ideas to influence your sewing habits.

1. Sew reusable items

Is there something disposable that you use regularly? Is there a way you could make a reusable version?

Example: I pack my lunch/snacks everyday for work. I like to wrap my silverware so they stay clean. For a brief time, I was using paper towels for this. Then it occurred to me that I could (DUH) make some reusable napkins to wrap my silverware. So I did. They were super easy to make and opening my lunch box to find fun fabric peaking out at me makes me so happy. Win-win.

There are loads of tutorials out there for sewing napkins – this is the one I used.

The utensil holder below by @greenindyblog is way fancier than mine – the flap can be used to set your food on! Genius.

{Click the image to read how this can be made!}

More ideas of reusable items to sew:

  • My friend Shanika recently shared a tutorial for making your own produce bags.

2. Alter and repair your existing garments

I can’t tell you how many garments I have made (or purchased) that just don’t fit right. I love the fabric or the style, but there’s just a little something off that’s preventing me from enjoying wearing the item.

I have a bad habit of finishing sewing a garment and being done with it forever. Rather than taking the time to take apart the garment and/or alter it so that it fits better, I either try to make it work/get used to the imperfection or hang it carelessly in the back of my closet to collect dust.

A better idea would be to take the time to alter it. And if the finished product is too small to alter to fit, you could wrap it up and gift it to a friend or rip it up and make something new (like an outfit for your little one, a bag, some coasters or any other small project) with the scraps.

Just a wee bit obsessed with how fun these mended leggings look {source}

Additionally, as garments become well-worn, take the time to repair them. I’m guilty of wearing garments with holes in them or with buttons missing because I’m lazy. I’m on a mission to love my clothes more and I need to pour the investment of time into a few of them so that they will serve me longer.

Inspiration for repairing garments:

  • This slideshow from Martha Stewart has some really great tips for how to mend knit sweaters.
  • If you have a garment with a grease-stain that has already been through the dryer, try this to remove the stain so it’s wearable again.
  • To make mending more fun, you could use fabric scraps to DIY this mending kit!
  • This mended butt.
  • Cover a hole with an embroidered patch – like this.
  • This post has some great resources to get started.
  • Visible mending is less desirable in the crotch area, but let’s be honest: if your thighs touch (hello, everyone), it’s the first place to go. Here’s some inspiration.

3. Upcycle with material you already have

I love the challenge to refashion existing garments! As proof (& hopefully inspiration): check out my Thrifted Thursday posts!

One of my very favorite upcycled sewing projects was an old t-shirt from my Grandpa that I turned into a Montlake Tee. You can read more about it in this post from Me-Made-May 2017.

Top right: My Grandpa’s original shirt | Bottom right: My freshly sewn Montlake Tee.

Taking apart a garment to then reconstruct it into something new is so much fun! It’s a challenge to fit pattern pieces into a limited amount of space, but what results is a re-purpose of something that would have become trash and very little fabric waste/scraps {look at the video in Trish Stitched’s recent post to see what I mean!}.

Need some inspiration? I got you covered:

Another idea: The other day I bought new sheets for our bed. I saved our old worn-out sheets to use to make muslins for new garment patterns I’m trying. When I create a bodice muslin, I save the fabric to reuse for a smaller project to keep reuse of the material going.

Speaking of bed sheets, if you have cool printed sheets, here’s a tutorial on how to turn them into a dress. Or if you’re like me and have boring white sheets, you could try dyeing them!

4. Make use of your scrap fabric

It’s very tempting to toss your scrap fabric because at some point you’ll run out of storage {and if you’re a neat freak like yours truly, storing scraps is a bit annoying}.

BUT Meg of @sewliberated recently shared a Metamorphic Dress that Jen made from scraps of rayon fabric that blew.my.mind.! I’m already working on a Metamorphic dress, but I may be incorporating patchwork into a future version!

This makes my heart go pitter-patter! {more photos here, here, here}

Below are more ideas for using your scrap fabric:

  • Make fabric twine – a member of one of my quilt guild’s showed us how to do this and it’s super easy! The twine is great to have on-hand for gift wrapping embellishment.
  • Use knit scraps to make a headband & woven scraps to make a neck scarf.
  • Find someone willing to use your scraps. Maybe you have a friend who sews or is learning to sew and could use scraps. Maybe you know a teacher or childcare center worker, etc. who could use scrap fabric for art projects. I have a friend who is crazy creative with scrap fabric so I pass mine on to her and at some point I will see a bag, fabric planter, shirt, etc. that she has made with fabric I recognize from my stash.
  • Make a scrunchie. {I heard they’re coming back in style so pack up your judgement and leave it at the door}
  • Make a mug rug – these are great for gifting with a coffee mug, some tea, etc. {You can download my free printable tags in this post}

Mug Rugs are perfect for fabric scraps & make great gifts!

5. Pre-wash new fabric with sheets or towels

It’s tempting to toss your new fabric by itself in the washing machine to pre-wash, but try washing it with sheets or towels that you wouldn’t mind if the new fabric bleeds/stains them. This will cut down on water waste and be more efficient overall (plus, we all love a lower water bill, right?!).

Photo borrowed from my recent purchase of the Metamorphic Dress Kit from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

For the safety of your fibers, try to wash your new fabric with similar material (i.e. try washing light weight / delicate fabric with bed sheets instead of towels).

What are some ways you make your sewing practice more eco-friendly? I’d love to gather more tips!

My new Parkside Shorts and thoughts about the postpartum body

As you all know from Andy’s Birth Story (and other musings), I’m still trying to “get to know” my postpartum body. I can’t sew as fast as I’d like, but I’m working to build a wardrobe that makes me feel good…and I’m excited to say I finally finished making my first piece of clothing post-baby!

My first postpartum handmade wardrobe staple: A pair of Parkside Shorts in Essex Linen

Due to the fact that I live in a climate that is ridiculously humid and HOT in the summer (our city is nicknamed “Famously Hot”) + my sweet, squishy baby has caused all of the shorts I enjoyed last summer (and the summers prior) to no longer fit (at least not comfortably), shorts were at the top of my sewing priority list.

Pattern

Before discovering Sew Caroline’s Parkside Shorts {read about my 1st pair here}, I thought I wasn’t a “shorts person.” Turns out – I just hadn’t found shorts that fit right. Knowing this now, I knew it would be worth the effort to construct a pair of Parkside Shorts based on my new measurements so I could comfortably get through summer.

PLUS POCKETS! I love the pockets in these shorts – they are in a comfortable position so you can rest your hands there and they’re large enough to actually hold stuff.

As you know, I had a cesarean birth which means not only do I have a pretty wicked scar, but my stomach is also still numb and tender in certain areas. That said, regular waistbands and fitted pants are not comfortable (I’m okay with that considering I don’t really wear pants all that often and loose-fitting clothes are what I gravitate to). The thick elastic waistband & the slightly higher rise of these shorts make them super postpartum friendly (I read somewhere that elastic shorts with a drawstring are a good postpartum investment so that they can continue to be worn as you “shrink” so adding the optional drawstring may have been a good idea, but I really didn’t want any negative body-talk/desires-of-bodies-past going into these shorts 😉 ).

Fabric

I’ve been very slowly working on a pair of Harrington Shorts for the Hubs using some of the Essex Linen I got from Trailer Stash Fabrics many moons ago. I had enough of the green left over to cut out a pair of Parkside Shorts for myself! {SO.. one day the Hubs & I will have matching shorts #Nerds. Maybe I’ll even make Andy a pair of matching bloomers #FamilyOfNerds}.

The material is really breathable and felt great when I wore them last weekend. Being that they are my only currently-fitting shorts, I’m pretty sure I’ll be shamelessly wearing them every weekend (thank goodness I chose a neutral fabric!).

Process

Over the past few weeks I’ve been stealing a few minutes here and there to work on the shorts. I could’ve rushed through the shorts, but I took my time to over-stitch all of the interior edges to prevent fraying and so that it would look a lot neater 😉 With sewing time being a little more sparse, I tried to relish every step when I got a window of time to sit down to sew.

More than ever sewing has truly become my outlet for self-care. The quiet time with my machine is such a gift. Utilizing my skills to construct clothing that makes me feel good in my body is such a blessing. When I have the time and the energy, those moments of sewing serve me in such an enormous way.

Andy watching me work on my Parkside Shorts.

On the weekends, we spend a lot of time in our lower-level (kind of a “basement”) where my sewing space is. While I sew, Andy plays on her baby gym or takes a nap in her seat. I love having her near me while I’m sewing. As time goes on, I hope she continues to enjoy our quiet, recuperation time – maybe one day she’ll have her own creative project to work on alongside me 😉

Andy enjoying a slumber while I finished my Parkside Shorts.

As soon as I finished the shorts, I tried them on and I could have melted. They fit perfect which felt incredible. It’s been a very long time since I have put on clothes that were made for me and fit in the way I wanted them to. It’s tough when your body changes (especially if it’s in the larger direction 😉 ). When you don’t feel comfortable in your clothes, it’s hard to feel comfortable in your skin.

My thoughts on the postpartum body

As we’ve passed the magical “4th trimester” and are approaching 5 months with Andy being earth-side, I’m being bombarded with “How to lose the baby weight” emails and diet marketing.

As someone with a degree in Public Health (including a graduate level nutrition course) and a strong attachment to my local YMCA, I understand the importance of physical fitness and nutrition. HOWEVER, I have zero tolerance for society’s pressure to “get my body back.”

Newsflash: My body never left. It may look a little different, but it’s here. And it has served me and my family pretty damn well.

In the beginning/shortly after Andy was born, I had some low points where I felt uncomfortable with the extra “fluff” my body had retained. Some of that weight has sloughed off, but some hasn’t…and I’m okay with that. When I talk about it with friends/family/coworkers, their reaction is usually: “Don’t worry, you’ll get your body back!” I know they are well-intentioned with this reaction, but the truth is: I do not desire my “old body.” Not to say I’d be sad if I woke up tomorrow and all of my old clothes suddenly fit perfectly again, but it’s not a priority of mine right now nor is it a concern.

For the better part of a year, I shared my body with another soul. My body nourished her until she was ready to thrive in her own body. That’s incredible! The extra padding in my midriff was the cushion that kept her safe. I can’t help but admire what what my body has been through. It has served me so very well. I continue to work my hardest to serve it well too (but Fridays are pizza night and I’m not willing to give that up 😉 ).

I refuse to cave into feeling sorry for myself and/or obsessing over what I’m eating or spending hours at the gym.

I am active every day. I try to eat real food as often as possible. I don’t judge myself when I want a treat, and I don’t judge myself when my old clothes don’t fit. I knew they wouldn’t. Maybe one day they will. Maybe they never will again. Maybe one day Andy can wear them. Maybe she won’t. Maybe they’ll be eaten by moths before then. Maybe not. Honestly, who cares. They’re replaceable possessions.

What I really need are clothes that fit and make me feel good when I wear them. I don’t need for clothing to be a reminder of the weight I’m still carrying.

Recently I read an article written by a personal shopper/stylist about how [before having her own baby] she was surprised at how many of her clients were new moms. One thing she said really stood our for me…

You can’t derive your self-worth from the contents of your closet.

What you might get though, is a little confidence in yourself. Confidence that you look like you which translates into feeling like you.

THIS. This is why I make my own clothes. THIS was the reminder I needed.

I think we need to stop pressuring new moms to get in shape. We need to stop complacently allowing big-box-shops to create clothing for one body type (aka: definitely not the new-mom-bod). We need more postpartum-friendly [affordable] clothing available. We need friends to share their closets with us. We need other moms to tell us that it’s okay to abandon your old body. We need our husbands to tell us they don’t give a $h!t whether our ass shrinks because that baby it made is pretty darn cute. And all those pregnancy/new-baby newsletters we signed up for in hopes of cracking the how-to-be-a-great-mom code have no right to repeatedly send emails titled “How to get your body back.” BECAUSE LADIES: Your body never left. You look amazing. Your baby is wonderful. And life is good.

Me-Made-May 2017: Week 5 recap and Final Reflections

It’s over! I made it. I can’t even believe it. I repeated a lot of outfits (shamelessly) and cheated a little with quilting or bags rather than clothes, but I feel like I fulfilled my pledge:

I, Jordan Slice-Metcalfe, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavor to wear, use, or accessorize with at least one thing I’ve made with my own two hands each day for the duration of May 2017.

I’m including the final 3 days in this post but the bulk of what I’m sharing are my reflections – what I learned this month. So keep reading beyond the pictures 😉

Day 29: Tammy’s Tulip Shorts

A repeat from Week 2.

I had plans of making another pair from a Lilly Pulitzer dress I thrifted {you can see it if you swipe to photos 2 & 3 in this post} but tragically I cut the legs the same rather than mirrored. I barely had enough fabric to get those cut so unfortunately those shorts are a bust.

  • Pattern: Ladies Tammy’s Tulip Shorts by Sew Caroline {affiliate link}
  • Fabric: donated from someone’s attic with self-made bias tape trim.
  • Blogged: not yet!

 

Day 30: a new Parkside Skirt

I made another Parkside Skirt from what was left of the crepe attic stash fabric (although I think I still have leftovers…this fabric haul was awesome. It’s lasted me so long!).

I wanted a “neutral” bottom for work. I don’t have a lot of tops but now I have more flexibility if I want to make some {because this skirt will go with anything!}

  • Pattern: Parkside Skirt by Sew Caroline {affiliate link}
  • Fabric: black crepe fabric donated to my stash
  • Blogged: not this particular version since it’s hot-off-the-sewing-machine, but you can read my thoughts on the pattern in this post!

 

Day 31: my refashioned Housedress

Another repeat from Week 1 & Week 3.

  • Pattern: no pattern – just an old house-dress taken in and hemmed.
  • Fabric: cotton
  • Blogged: here!

Me-Made-May/Sewing-related resources I’m lovin’ this week:

1. Christine Haynes’ tips for Perfecting the Travel Wardrobe in the latest Seamwork Mag issue – These are really great tips! The Hubs & I have a roadtrip to Canada planned in a few weeks and I’ve been mentally browsing my patterns trying to prioritize what I need to make for the trip.

2. From Becoming Minimalist – 3 Steps to End Closet Chaos – these are actually really great tips regardless of whether you have a handmade wardrobe or a ready-to-wear closet. I have clothes hidden all over my house that I know I should get rid of. I’m thinking of taking the plunge and dumping them all on my bed like the post recommends to force myself to purge.

 

#mmmay17 posts I’m lovin’ this week

Week 5 / FINAL Me-Made-May Reflections

This was my first year participating in Me-Made-May and it was quite a challenge! I started the month off worried that I’d run out of clothes to wear (which I quickly did). After a few moments of “oh no…what if I wear the same outfits again?” I realized 1) there was no way possible I wasn’t going to repeat outfits and 2) did it really matter? Clothes are meant to be worn more than once. That’s the point.

My major take-aways:

1. We should be proud to repeat outfits. 

I felt a bit insecure (particularly in the beginning) about the amount of times I repeated my handmade outfits this month. In a perfect world, I would have liked to have worn totally different outfits every.single.day. – but why?

I was worried that my “followers” would get bored if I didn’t share a variety of outfits. Why does that matter? It doesn’t…and shouldn’t. My life is not a TV show. In fact, it’s incredibly un-glamorous. I repeat outfits a lot.

At first I was ashamed, but then I started to reflect more and came around to the realization that repeating outfits is a good thing. It means that I really like the clothes I’ve spent hours making for myself – they make me feel good and I enjoy wearing them.

By the end of the month I felt like I was really being myself – being real. It felt like a badge to repeat my outfits and I was proud – proud that I have clothes I want to wear and proud that I actually wear what I make (vs. making impractical “unworns” or ill-fitting clothes).

2. I learned a lot about my style.

  • Separates for weekends, dresses for weekdays – I tried to incorporate some “separates” into my rotation {see Week 2} but quickly realized that those aren’t my favorites. I like wearing separates on the weekends, but for work I really prefer dresses. Now I know to focus on casual pieces if I’m making separates and dresses if I’m in need of work outfits.
  • I hate working with thin fabric – I had some really thin rayon spandex knit that I was working with at the end of Week 3 that reminded me of how much I hate thin fabric. That is also the reason I still have not finished my Darling Ranges dress – I was making it in voile and it was making me crazy. I’m not even sure I can tell you that I really enjoy wearing thin fabric (so perhaps it’s really not worth the headache).
  • If I like it, I’ll wear it a thousand times – I already admitted this, but it really came to light. I was not successful in “forcing” myself to wear handmade garments that I didn’t truly enjoy wearing. Proof: My sister brought me a bag of clothes I’d made for her (which were mostly first-drafts of patterns I’d later make for myself after adjusting the pattern). Despite my asking her if I could borrow them for “variety,” they never made it out of the bag she sent them in. I knew they didn’t fit me like they should and I would not enjoy wearing them so I didn’t try. Some people care about the variety of clothing they wear. Others like me care only about comfort. I can’t help it 😉
  • I really prefer uncomplicated patterns – There were tons of sewists sharing on the hashtag with some really impressive outfits. I realized that most of what I sew is very uncomplicated (which I already knew). I tend to steer clear of closures and patterns with lots of separate pieces requiring lots of additional seams to sew. I like the loose fit of garments without closures, but I also like that they do not take me any longer than they already do! I have limited time for sewing (and I’m very slow). Tackling a more complicated garment means I wouldn’t be able to create as much or as often and would likely become impatient and frustrated. Knowing this allows me to avoid purchasing patterns that may collect dust in my stash.

3. I am surrounded by really supportive people. 

Several people commented on my posts on Instagram, a friend sent me a text, and a few people told me in person how much they were enjoying seeing the posts each day.

Hearing this really made me feel so supported! Posting about myself every single day made me feel very self-absorbed. It was nice to hear at least a few people out there were enjoying them 😉

3. Me-Made-May is the perfect way to discover new patterns.

While browsing the hashtag this month, I found several patterns I’d not heard of. It was also neat to rediscover some I’d heard of, but had not seen “in action.”

4. I would participate again.

I really enjoyed being a part of Me-Made-May and now that I’ve taken the plunge and overcome my fears [mostly of outfit repeats], I’m willing to participate again! I’m excited to see how my handmade wardrobe will change from year-to-year.

This was truly a fun experience. It was very introspective and has given me confidence to love the clothes I’ve made {and not stress about how much I haven’t sewn yet}.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on my Me-Made-May journey! In case you missed them, you can catch up on the previous week’s recaps here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4.

Me-Made-May 2017: Week 4 recap

Now we’re really on the downward slide! The month of wearing me-mades is coming to a close.

Catch up on Me-Made-May recaps: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 – read on to see & hear all about what I wore for Week 4!

 

Day 22: my peachy Fen Dress

Trailer Stash Fabrics visited one of the Quilt Guild’s I’m a part of {see the adorable trailer here} and it was amazing! I’ve been admiring this mobile fabric shop for a while and was thrilled for the chance to check it out and shop in person.

I picked up The Dress Shirt pattern by Merchant & Mills along with three of the Essex Linen colorways: olive, blue & black. Y’all know from Week 2’s reflections that I’m trying to build more basics into my wardrobe and have been digging the “linen” looks. I can’t wait to give this pattern a try with some of my new fabric!

 

Day 23: my 1st Tank Dress

Repeat from Week 1.

 

Day 24: my 2nd Tank Dress

This is the 3rd time I’ve worn this dress this month – it’s a repeat from Week 1 & Week 3. I shared my feelings about this and my coffee spill in my post on Instagram.

 

Day 25: my 2nd Fen Dress

I’ve completely given in to the three’peats. I love the clothes I’ve made and I want to wear the ones I love most. So, I’m wearing this dress for the 3rd time this month because I love it {worn during Week 1 & Week 3}.

What I love most about this dress is the peek-a-boo vintage floral fabric detail ensuring this dress is the only dress in the world quite like it 😉

 

Day 26: a new Fen Dress!

Can you believe I have something new to wear?! I have been working on this dress for a few months. I ordered the woven fabric from Fabric Cadabra last fall in hopes of making a dress to wear to Anna Maria Horner‘s workshop {because this is from her Loominous Yarn Dyed fabric collection & I am nothing short of teacher’s pet – proof}, but that didn’t happen.

Originally I’d planned to make the entire dress from the woven design but I cut the bottom pieces wrong and instead used some leftover crepe from the attic donation {I wish I had a ton more of this fabric because it’s so easy to work with and has great drape. It’s probably my favorite from the attic stash}. I’m happy that little mistake happened because a full dress with the woven design would have been a little too much. I think it worked out 😉

  • PatternFen Dress by Fancy Tiger Crafts
  • Fabric: top – “Seedlings in Black” from Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous Yarn Dyes collection for Freespirit/Westminster Woven Fabric + bottom – black crepe donated to my stash from someone’s attic.
  • Blogged: not this one since it’s fresh-off-the-sewing-machine, but you can read about my other 2 Fen’s here!

 

Day 27: Hand-quilting

Cheat day! 😉

I made some hand-quilting progress on my Palmetto Modern Quilter’s Guild challenge project {due in June and since I’m the planner of the challenge I better get working!}.

We spend Saturdays visiting our local market and going for a long walk around town. It was a hot day so I wanted to wear some dry-fit shorts – they were RTW and I spent most of the walk reflecting on how much better my handmade shorts fit.. 😀

While quilting, Charlotte & I had the luxuriously air-conditioned view of the Hubs mowing the lawn 😉

  • Pattern: <> Quilt from Anna Graham’s Handmade Style book {Side note: This is one of the most-used sewing books I have – I’ve made several of the bags from it and love all of the projects. If you enjoy following Anna’s blog or if you’ve ever tried one of her patterns, you’ll love the book}.
  • Fabric: it’s all quilting cotton from my stash so my final quilt will look totally different than the crisp design in the book 😉
  • Blogged: not yet!

 

Day 28: Parkside Shorts

I love the Parkside Shorts because – pockets! I wore them on Sunday as a swimsuit cover-up to the lake with family.

  • Pattern: Parkside Shorts by Sew Caroline {affiliate link}
  • Fabric: fabric donated from someone’s attic – mostly a lightweight denim.
  • Blogged: here!

 

Me-Made-May/Sewing-related resources I’m lovin’ this week:

1. Tailor Made Shop is having a 2nd year anniversary sale {details here}! The Watson Bra is still on my sewing list. I have a kit that I picked up from Mercer’s Fabric while visiting Boston last year…but I’m totally considering buying another kit from Tailor Made!

PS: I’ve never purchased from Tailor Made, but I’ve heard great things and really like her blog!

2. This encouraging post about why experienced quilters should encourage and support the newbies. The insight in the article can really apply to any adventure. I posted it on my guild’s Facebook page and it got a lot of traction. Many of the more experienced quilters shared it which made me happy. I always feel so encouraged and supported by the members of both guilds I’m a part of – both of which contain far more experienced sewist than myself. I think it’s so important to encourage others – particularly on adventures in which you may be more experienced with 😉

 

#mmmay17 posts I’m lovin’ this week

 

Week 4 Reflections

This week has been mostly outfit repeats which has brought up a lot of feelings about clothing. Outfits are not meant to be disposable and there should be no shame in wearing them repeatedly.

I’m working to invest in higher quality fabric and material to better ensure my clothing will last (because clearly I love to wear my clothes a lot). It takes me HOURS that sometimes stretch over the course of a few weeks (..or months) to finish a garment. After all the time I spend making it, I expect to enjoy wearing it for a long time.

Having the skills to make my own clothing in styles and fabrics that I enjoy wearing is a true honor. I have spent A LOT of time building this skill over the years. I did not grow up sewing. This is something that I adopted as an adult. My stepmom showed me the basics of how to operate my initial machine, but after that I relied solely on tutorials I could find online. I’ve since taken a small handful of classes, but the blogosphere is still my go-to.

I say all of this because people tell me all the time “I wish I knew how to sew” or “I wish I had time to sew”…

  1. The former is a myth. You CAN sew. You can find a cheap machine (or ask around – I bet you know someone with a machine that’s been gathering dust that they’d be willing to let you have); you can find tutorials and videos online; and you can even reach out to your local fabric shops about classes or contact your local quilt guild to see if there are members who offer private lessons.
  2. The latter is so offensive. Please stop acting like because I sew I have WAY more time on my hands than you do. I assure you I do not. The sewing community is full of some incredible people who work incredibly hard. Many of us work full-time jobs away from our sewing machines and squeeze sewing time in on the weekends or evenings. I can’t speak for the parents out there, but there are loads in the sewing community and I know they’re wickedly busy balancing children, a family, and their sewing adventures. The bottom line is: If you love something, you will make time for it. And the fact is: We value different things. I spend my time sewing. And you spend your time doing whatever it is that you find valuable. I don’t judge your choice so please don’t pretend mine is inferior.

Are you participating in Me-Made-May? What are your reflections as this month comes to an end?