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.

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Sewing Wish List: 10 Patterns for Spring/Summer

There are so many patterns floating around right now that I’m lusting after! Today I’m sharing a few that are on my sewing “wish list” that I think would be perfect for spring and summer.

1. Highlands Wrap Dress by Allie Olson

I have been dreaming of a v-neck, wrap top dress for a while and haven’t found one that caught my fancy until Allie of Indie Sew released the Highlands Wrap Dress.

A flowy version – perhaps a large-print floral rayon? – is on the short list of dresses I’m considering for a wedding I’ll be attending this summer.

Highlands Wrap Dress inspirationThis long version is pretty sexy and has me wondering if I should try the maxi length. Also totally smitten with Leslie’s nani IRO version!

2. The Orla Dress – Free pattern from French Navy

Y’all know my love of a cinched waist dress so as soon as I saw this pattern I knew it was one I’d want to try!

Orla Dress inspiration: I am completely smitten with Rachel’s plaid version and her floral version.

3. Off-the-Shoulder Dress – Free tutorial from Megan Nielsen

I’m really not one for trendy attire and have been particularly detesting most of the cold-shoulder trends as of late, BUT one iteration of this trend has me swooning: a ruffled off-the-shoulder dress.

I absolutely hate strapless bras + have gotten pretty conservative in my dress-ware as I’ve aged so I’m not totally sure this is a style I’ll embrace…however, Megan Nielsen has what appears to be an incredibly easy tutorial for making this dress that I just might give a try because it looks so stinkin’ easy and I think it might be appropriate for that summer wedding I mentioned earlier 😉

4. Dottie Angel Frock / Simplicity 1080

I picked up this pattern on sale at JoAnn’s quite a while ago. The pattern looks fairly simple and I love a dress with pockets.

5. Darling Ranges by Megan Nielsen

I picked up this pattern from Five Eighth Seams on a trip to Charleston last year. I finally got the nerve up to start the pattern over my holiday break. I got about half way done and hung it in my sewing room closet where it has been gathering dust for a few months. This is such a bad habit of mine. I’m planning to get back to it very soon so I can wear it for summer (it’s made from a beautiful voile – see it here! – that’ll be delightful during those hotter-than-hot summer days that await).

6. Montlake Tee from Straight Stitch Designs

I’m in need of some basic shirts. I purchased the Montlake paper pattern from Straight Stitch Designs a while ago knowing it would be a staple. From the scoop neck to flowy body of the shirt, I love this simple flattering design.

I also have Kimberly’s View Ridge pattern. It’s not a style my closet is in dire need of right now, but it’s definitely on my to-sew-soon list!

7. Watson Bra by Cloth Habit

I don’t have this pattern in my stash yet, but I’ve been admiring it pretty intensely for over a year now. I bought a beautiful bra-making-kit from Mercer’s Fabric while visiting Boston last year that I’m planning to finally use 😉

Watson inspiration: this simple gray version by Kimberly of Straight Stitch Designs, this pretty blue lace version by Grainline Studio, basically all version on the #WatsonBra hashtag on IG. Very impressed with how Erin turned it into a Nursing Bra!

Other bralette patterns I’m loving:

Resources: Ohhh Lulu has a great post on how to take your own measurements. Cloth Habit has a sew along for the Watson bra that I will certainly utilize. According to Sarah’s FAQ video, bralettes are totally wearable for almost all bust sizes!

8. Shoreline Boatneck Dress by Blank Slate Patterns

I’ve already made a tunic and I wear it as often as possible because it is so stinkin’ comfortable.

Shoreline Boatneck inspiration: I really love the pattern because of its versatility and I’ve been dreaming of re-creating Melissa’s cinched waist version which reminds me a little of the Fen Dress, but I really prefer the comfort of a set-in sleeve so I’m leaning towards the Shoreline Boatneck for this upcycle plan…

My grandmother gave me a few of my grandpa’s shirts the other week and I have an idea bouncing around in my head that I can’t wait to get started on!

I’m planning to follow this Shoreline hack using his white linen button up shirt for the top of the dress and some army green rayon I found at JoAnn’s when testing the Auberley dress for the bottom.

9. Maxi Circle Skirt – By Hand London has a calculator!

I’m not huge on maxi dresses because 1) I’m so short, 2) I rarely have enough fabric, 3) the summer humidity where I live is best suited for uncovered legs 😉

BUT I have some Birch Floral rayon from Rifle Paper Company’s Les Fleurs collection that I think would be so lovely as a circle skirt! If I end up not having enough for a maxi, I’ll go with a midi or mini.

Maxi Circle Skirt inspiration: Mac of Harper+Lu made a gorgeous maxi circle skirt and has some tips for using By Hand London’s circle skirt calculator.

10. Sleeveless Auberley Dress by Blank Slate Patterns

I participated in the first round of testing for the Auberley, but unfortunately couldn’t move to round 2 because I was going out of town so I don’t actually have a finished version 😦 It’s been on my list for a while – the construction of the bodice was actually pretty neat and I enjoyed it quite a bit (it was my first time lining a bodice!).

Auberley inspiration: I really love Melissa’s sleeveless version! Plus, you know I’m a sucker for a cinched waist & pockets 😉 Also head-over-heels for this embroidered version!!

Limiting myself to 10 patterns was tough! There are loads, loads, loads more on my list. Perhaps this is why I have such a hard time focusing on / finishing a project?! Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed the list!

Tell me what you’re sewing for spring/summer in the comments below {because – let’s face it – I need more patterns on my wish list! 😉 }

Sewing Wish List: Fall 2016

This month I’ve been participating in House of Pinheiro’s SewPhotoHop on Instagram. I typically stray from the pressure of posting daily, but this has been a refreshing routine. I have really enjoyed following the hashtag and soaking up inspiration from the other sewists participating in the challenge.

Today’s theme is “Wish list” so I thought I’d share a little more detail of what’s on my “to make” list here on the blog!

sewing-wish-list

I have so very many things on my sewing wish list right now, but I’ve whittled it down to only patterns I have already purchased. {If you want to see all the other things I’m dreaming of making, you can browse my Sewing Garments Pinterest Board}

I would love love love to hear your vote on what you think I should make next! Leave your vote in the comments section. I’d also equally love if you share your advice or experience if you have made any of the patterns listed. 🙂

Without further adieu, here is the [very shortened and in no particular order] list of sewing patterns in my queue…

1. Florence Bra | Seamwork Magazine

florence2

Top: Florence Bra, Bottom: Geneva Panties – both patterns available via Seamwork Magazine.

While on our roadtrip to Boston last spring break, I picked up this beautiful bra-making kit at Mercer’s Fabric. I’ve been dreaming of becoming brave enough to cut into it. I’ve even claimed the Florence bra pattern with my Seamwork Magazine credit. Since this will be my very first attempt at lingerie, I’d love to hear any tips or advice you may have!

2. Harrington Shorts | Seamwork Magazine

The Hubs is probably my most neglected loved one in the sewing room! I rarely make him much and I’ve only ever made him one finished garment {the Finlayson sweater – see it in this post}. He’s one of my biggest supporters (tied with my sister) and endures quite a bit of sewing chatter and frustration troubleshooting.

I think he’s in need of a treat!

The Harrington shorts are meant to be swim trunks, but I think he’ll get a lot of use out of an everyday pair. I really like the linen version [pictured above] by Seamwork.

Since the Hubs is a pretty tall guy (6’4″..), I plan to lengthen the inseam of these shorts. The pattern reminds me a lot of Chubbies (which are basically booty shorts on my long-legged guy).

I suspect that construction will be similar to my Parkside Shorts which came together pleasantly. We both have a deep love and appreciation for elastic waists so I know these would be a closet staple.

3. Out and About Dress | Sew Caroline

Are you tired of hearing about this pattern yet?! It’s a tried and true (proof: here & here). I’ve been really wanting to make a sleeveless version {pattern hack here} – which I know might sound a little late considering fall is approaching, but it’s quite warm here all year andloooove an excuse to toss on a cardigan!

sleeveless

Isn’t this sleeveless version by Caroline gorgeous?!

I’m also in love with the tulip sleeves on Dixie DIY‘s version {pattern hack here}:

tulip-sleeve

4. Dottie Angel Dress | Simplicity 1080

I just picked this pattern up from my local JoAnn’s a few weeks ago while the Simplicity patterns were on sale. I’ve never made a Simplicity pattern but my friend Shanika loves them!

I’ve been smitten with the Dottie dress for a while. I’m torn between Versions A & B – I’m worried version A will be too long on my short stature, but I’m also worried version B will be too short to qualify as a dress (tunics are often dresses on me 😉 ). I may make a hybrid between the two lengths.

While I love big pockets, I think I will omit them from my version for the sake of making it a little less casual. My office isn’t super dressy (or at least I’m not super-dressy at work!) and I like to be able to wear the dresses I make to work since I do spend 5 out of 7 days there 🙂

5. Peony | Colette

When I saw this dress on sale [an embarrassingly long time ago], I immediately asked my friend Addie if she thought it was a pattern I could handle. With her confirmation, I quickly ordered it.

Then it sat and gathered dust while I have become paralyzed by the fear of installing a zipper {I know, I know…get over it}. It’s one of my favorite dress silhouettes: fitted bodice, pleated waist, flowy bottom.

I also love the pleated shoulders {pattern hack here} in this version:

peony

6. Handmade Style Tunic | Noodlehead

Ever since I got my hands on Handmade Style by Anna Graham, I have had this tunic on my “to make” list! I even had my friend Amber teach me how to use my button hole foot at our last sew-in.

I had plans of following Anna’s sew-along for the tunic, but I fell off the wagon as soon as I selected my fabric (that’s as far as I got…).

noodlehead

Then I saw Anna’s finished version! It looks even more amazing than the gorgeous version in the book (possible?! Yes, Anna is that talented). It’s still on my list! I think I’d wear it quite often through the fall with leggings.

7. View Ridge | Straight Stitch Design

Terri of Blue House Joys (who was one of the testers) promised it the top wasn’t too hard to make so I jumped on ordering it while it was on sale with the release. I am totally smitten with the gathered ruffle in View A and the keyhole back! I have a bag of vintage buttons I am going to plunder in search of the perfect embellishment for mine.

8. Hazel | Victory Patterns

When I saw Sew Charleston’s version of the Hazel Dress I fell head-over-heels!

hazel2

Read all about Sew Charleston’s version here

My mother-in-law ordered this pattern for me from my wish list last Christmas. I even ordered the fabric to copy the cover version…

So which pattern gets your vote? What should I work on next?

I’d love to hear any tips you have if you’ve made any of these patterns. And tell me what’s on your sewing list! Clearly I’m always in search of more patterns to add to my stash 😉

Sew Caroline’s Magnolia Shorts Pattern

Sew Caroline just released a new pattern and I was lucky enough to be a part of the group of gals who tested the pattern…and it’s so fabulous!

MagnoliaShorts-SquareCover

As you know, I love Sew Caroline’s patterns {proof 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7} so I always try to jump in when she’s in need of testers. I fell in love with the shorts when she first shared them here on Instagram.

Flowy, swingy shorts – yes please! {Also, you know my love of an elastic waist}

The construction of these shorts is even easier than the Parkside Shorts (which I still love). Rather than a separate front and back piece, there’s just one long piece that requires no side seam!

Less pattern pieces = less seams to sew = less time

shorts

Fabric

I used some vintage black crepe that had been passed on to me from someone’s attic {don’t you love when someone donates to your fabric stash and it’s just.what.you.needed?!}.

It was my first time working with crepe (I didn’t even know it was crepe until one of my fabulous quilty friends identified it for me at the last sew-in…sewing friends are the best!). I actually really enjoyed it! It’s got an amazing drape and wasn’t too slippery. It ironed like a beauty so hemming was a breeze.

Here’s a great post from IndieSew with tips about sewing and caring for crepe fabric. I confess that I did not read this article before constructing my shorts. Is anyone else guilty of always researching after the fact?! Anyhow, according to my post-sewing-research, it’s a good thing I already had thin pins (love them) and I probably should have used a walking foot (though I didn’t have any issues with snagging).

Size

I made a size small with no alterations and they fit perfectly.

The pattern calls for 1/4″ folds for the hem, but I have a hard time folding that tiny so I admit that my hem folds were closer to 1/2″. I don’t consider that a true alteration, but I like to be honest with you all so there ya go! 😉

You’re cutting the elastic to your own preference like with the Parkside Shorts so with little fit issues to deal with, these would be great for beginners!

Jordan Slice-Metcalfe - Magnolia Shorts 1

Shorts? Skirt? It’s our little secret 😉

Final Thoughts

With summer inching closer to an end {c’mon, Fall! I’m ready for you!}, why not make yourself one last summer wardrobe staple?! If you live in a climate that’s hot-and-humid all-year-long {y’all, one time I wore shorts on Christmas Day…CHRISTMAS DAY…in December}, these shorts are sure to make you feel fabulous despite the fact that you’re sweating in all sorts of unflattering places. And they’ll help you hate the heat a little less. Guaranteed.

Another fun feature if you live in fear of wearing flowy clothing on a windy day: there’s no chance of this beauty flying over your head and flashing everyone within eyesight. Win {unless you’re into the Marilyn Monroe thing}

Jordan Slice-Metcalfe - Magnolia Shorts 2

Bottom Line

Treat yo’self to the Magnolia Shorts pattern.

And keep an eye on Caroline’s blog – she’s going to post photos of the testers soon so you can see what the shorts look like on all shapes and sizes. For now, you can see her beautiful versions here.

*Update*

See how the Magnolia Shorts look on a variety of shapes and sizes in Caroline’s post of the pattern testers here.

You can also find more photos of my Magnolia Shorts in action in this post and in this photo on Instagram.

Flying Geese Pin Cushion

I’m really loving paper piecing! If you haven’t tried it out yet, you totally should. It’s much easier than you think (I was overthinking it until our quilt guild president de-mystified the process during a demo at a recent meeting. Here’s a tutorial with some great pictures).

After playing around with paper piecing with the basic diamond template Amber shared with us at the meeting, I started searching the internet for more templates to play with.

It didn’t take long to find a flying geese pattern that I loved! I followed these instructions and shrunk the pattern by 33% when I printed. It’s the perfect size for a pin cushion which is great because this month our quilt guild hosted a pin cushion swap!

pin cushion 2

My partner loves batik prints so it was a chance for me to work with a fabric that I don’t normally use. I found some fat quarters at JoAnn’s and used green for the geese and purple for the background pieces. I used a fun blue print for the bottom of the cushion.

I used some scrap batting to line against the goose block. Rather than quilt the geese (I really couldn’t figure out how to do that without ruining the design), I added a border and then stitched around the border with some fun blue thread I picked up at an estate sale.

I stitched the batting to the flying geese block then set it right-sides-facing on top of the bottom piece and then squared them up (cutting the edges) so they were the same size. Then I stitched all around the sandwich – leaving a few inches open at the bottom for flipping.

pin cushion 6

the underside of the pretty blue stitches against the batting

Then I clipped the corners so they would be pointy when flipped (watch out for your stitch line so you don’t accidentally cut into it!).

pin cushion 7

I flipped the cushion so that right sides were now facing out and hand stitched the closing using a blind stitch {here is a tutorial with great pictures}.

pin cushion 5

Some people hate sewing by hand, but I love the control it gives you. I certainly wouldn’t want to do an entire quilt by hand {I absolutely do not have that kind of patience}, but I will say that taking the time to blind stitch is totally worth it! It’s great for closing an infinity scarf or the interior of a bag and leads to a much cleaner finish.

pin cushion 4

I happen to have a giant bag of plain ol’ stuffing {I think I had visions of making throw pillows or maybe some fun softies/stuffed animals…} so I used that to fill the cushion. Lately I’ve noticed that my pins seem to be getting dull. Next time I may try stuffing a pin cushion with steel wool to keep my pins sharp {idea here}.

pin cushion 1

After some advice from my quilt guild buddies at our last sew-in, I pressed my seams to the side rather than open when I pieced the four little goose blocks together to make the full circle of geese. This really helped seal the center of the block and align the pieces perfectly {I’m quite proud of that center intersection!}. Here’s a good run-down of pressing your seams open vs. pressing them to the side if you’re interested 😉

pin cushion 2

I hope my partner likes her new pin cushion! 🙂

{PS: If you’re anywhere near Columbia, SC and enjoy sewing of any sort-and-kind, you should check out the Palmetto Modern Quilt Guild! You can follow the page on Facebook to see when the next meeting will be. The guild hosts monthly sew-ins which are super fun – I love being able to pick the brains of fellow [far more experienced] sewists!}

Out And About Dress: Round 3

After having a moldy closet repaired (oh, what an experience #OldHouseProblems), we decided to take advantage of the fact that the room was empty and repaint.

That room happened to be my sewing room.

*happy dance!*

In case you were wondering: absolutely no fabric was harmed in the moldy closet {PRAISE!}. Probably because I keep my fabric thrown anywhere but the closet (because let’s be honest: I like to be able to see my fabric so I can give it heart-eyes as often as possible).

It took a lot of restraint not to paint the room purple, but the Hubs made me promise to stay away from purple since I’d already chosen that for The Cave {formerly known as the Man Cave…PS: You can see the lovely shade of purple in this post}.

So of course I picked the 3rd best thing {2nd would have been pink} – BLUE.

sewing room 1

Painting in progress!

Here’s a birds-eye view of the room courtesy of the Hubs playing with some lenses I never took out of the package…

image

‘scuse the mess – I’m still getting sorted!

It’s a bit “baby boy blue,” but I still love it!

And it only took me 3 weeks to finally get it done. Probably because of things like this…

sewing room 2

aka: why you shouldn’t let a perfectionist be in charge of painting.

Anyhow, I’m finally starting to move my sewing stuff back in which brought on a second purge of supplies and fabric. And the shocking realization that pattern/fabric hoarding is not a joke anymore. I think I might be sick.

JUST KIDDING.

*as I grab for my credit card and order another 3 yards of the mulberry ponte knit…*

OK KIDDING AGAIN.

I’m trying very hard to limit my pattern-and-fabric-purchasing. Right now my focus is on using the patterns and fabric I have so I can try to keep my sewing room organized and simplified 😉

The project I’m sharing today may be proof that I need far fewer patterns than I think I do…

out and about dress 3b

Yes, I made another Out and About Dress! It’s my favorite! A gathered waist and pockets seem to be a staple in the definition of “my style” (also purple seems to be a part of that definition…).

I’ve been able to really master this pattern for my shape. I’ve gotten the bodice modified to a point where it fits me like a glove. {See my original Out and About Dress post to read about my alterations} Yes, it’s made with knit fabric which is forgiving and doesn’t require a perfect fit, but I still consider it a win for fit!

out and about dress 3c

We’ve finally started getting some chilly weather {remember how it “snowed” last month?! 😉 } which made me want to start the long-sleeved Out and About Dress I’d been dreaming about.

out and about dress 3e

See all the cold weather “blowing in”?! 😉

I ordered this dreamy ponte de roma knit fabric from Imagine Gnats. If you’ve never ordered from the Imagine Gnats shop, I highly suggest joining the mailing list and taking advantage of the next sale {and no, Rachael is not paying me to say this, but I’m totally open to fabric bribes should those ever be on the table #JustSayin}.

I have a very indecisive personality [I’m a Libra…what can I say?!] so I get overwhelmed with too many choices {this also explains why I prefer shopping at Trader Joe’s for groceries}. I appreciate that there aren’t 20 different choices for purple knit fabric. There’s one – maybe two – which helps keep me from flying down the rabbit hole and spending hours debating myself about which purple is best for me.

So when I saw a sale a while back, I knew it was time to buy that purple ponte de roma I’d been eye-balling and get chopping away at my next long-sleeved (!!) Out and About Dress.

I’ve been trying to hold myself loosely to projects this year. Meaning: last year I stressed myself out by putting expectations on projects – forcing myself to finish something that day rather than allowing myself to step away to enjoy other weekend leisures. This year, the Hubs and I have been enjoying long walks around town together on the weekends. Rather than limiting those, I’ve allowed myself to step away from the project knowing that it will patiently wait on me to return. {And I’ll return a much happier seamstress 🙂 }

That’s exactly what I did with this dress. I don’t mind that it took me 3 weekends to finish because I was able to work on it in chunks which was far less stressful. I didn’t feel rushed so I was able to focus on the small details that lead to a wonderfully constructed garment.

out and about dress 3f

I reinforced the shoulder seams with twill tape. I also used elastic to gather the skirt which should keep the waist from drooping over time (so I hear).

To add the elastic: I cut a piece (un-stretched) for the front that was the same length as the bottom of the front bodice. I cut an additional piece that was the same length as the back bodice. I stretched the elastic as much as I could to fit the skirt pieces which gathered them without having to baste stitch. I ended up chopping about 2 inches off the back skirt piece (vertically) and about 4 inches off the front skirt piece.

I used the original sleeve length (I think I cut a size small) which fit my arms perfectly.

Towards the end I realized I didn’t have quite enough purple thread so I had to use gray for the underside. You can’t see it and it’s not terribly noticeable even when you’re looking at the interior hem. And frankly, this article has given me my new mantra: fuck perfect. And I love my new dress.

out and about dress 3a

When I posted this dress to Facebook, a friend asked if I use a serger. The answer is no. Sergers sounds fabulous, but I’m still trying to master the basics. {Proof: I recently took a Sewing 101 class with Sewn + A Sewing School (taught by my quilt guild president) and learned so much!}

My point is: There are a ton of fancy sewing accessories, supplies and machines out there. And boy would I love to have them all {Hubs: are you reading this?! There’s my b-day wish list: ALL THE SEWING THINGS}. BUT – they’re not required for you to make beautiful things!

Rather than a serger, I use a twin needle, but even that’s not required! I made my first Out and About Dress (which was also the first garment I ever made) using a plain ole zig-zag stitch…because I had never heard of a twin needle. {I have since learned what a twin needle is thanks to that time I pattern tested the Canny Tunic and discovered this article from the designer-who-became-my-friend-Addie.}

My point is: Don’t hold yourself back. If you want to sew garments, then by golly jump inhead first! What’s the worst that could happen? You end up with a dress that doesn’t fit right? Okay, so what! Cut that bad boy up and make a scarf…or two. Give one to a friend – they’ll think you’re brilliant and your confidence will be restored.

Then go start on another dress. ‘Cuz why the heck not?!

If you’re passionate about it, you’ll figure it out. Just stick with it.

out and about dress 3d

PS: Is my sister reading this?! I hope she is. Because she took the Sewing 101 class with me (which made MY HEART SING! LOOK AT HOW ADORABLE SHE IS SEWING HERE!!) and I hope she remembers the joy of creating something – even if that something requires that you sew the same seam 10 times because your sister forgot to tell you to roll the edges on your French seam…

Anyhow friends – go forth and sew things. Because you can. And what you make does not have to be perfect. I give you permission to make crappy things. As long as the crappy things make you happy. {remember our new mantra: fuck perfect}

And if you ever need a reminder that you’re awesome, send me a message – I’ll be your sewing cheerleader!

Double Zip Wallet

We celebrated Christmas with my in-laws at Thanksgiving and my mother-in-law surprised me with a stack of new sewing books.

One of the books was Handmade Style by Anna Graham (aka: Noodlehead – you might remember several of her bag designs I’ve made previously like the Super Tote and Envelope Clutch wallets here, here, and here). She is my very favorite bag designer – her patterns are so thoughtful which make for incredibly useful purses and wallets.

This book has been on my wish list for a while so I was over-the-moon to finally have it. I have been carrying the book around with me non-stop since Thanksgiving, marking all my favorites with sticky notes.

After a few semi-unsuccessful garment sewing adventures, I wanted to end my winter break on a happy note so I decided to make myself a new bag (since my sewing experience began with bags / bags are one-size-fits-all, I figured this would be a safe zone to retreat to).

I inventoried my zipper stash to help with deciding which bag to make. The Double Zip Wallet won!

Double Zip Wallet

Since this project kind of stemmed from my avoidance of finishing the Veronika skirt {free pattern from Megan Nielsen} I’d cut [but was too intimidated by the idea of my first zipper installation / was scared I’d have yet another semi-unsuccessful garment to add to the pile], it seemed fitting for me to use the scraps for the wallet.

doublezip1

I picked up this gorgeous floral print corduroy from Hobby Lobby after my friend Amber recommended it to me at our quilt guild holiday party {I can’t seem to find it online anywhere 😦 }.

I had some of this bright pink upholstery fabric lying around and it coordinated great with the floral corduroy so I used it for the interior. I also love how the mustard color zippers link the print as well.

doublezip2

Excuse the bandaid – this bag was totally worth the 1 small seam-ripper injury 😉

The construction of this wallet was unlike any bag I’ve made. Even constructing the card slots was slightly different. It was a nice opportunity to grow my bag-making skill set.

All-in-all, the construction was quite neat! I re-read the instructions several times before starting each step to be extra careful since this was my first attempt at this project (and because I wanted to avoid adding to the semi-unsuccessful pile!). I particularly like how the zippers turned out – there was no puckering in the corners like I usually have with my zipper pouches.

But I did accidentally attached the card slots upside down (the card slots are supposed to be on the bottom with the bill flap at the top, but mine are backwards).

doublezip3

I like the bias binding that is attached to the top of the bill flap (bottom of the picture above). I feel like it helps to hold the flap a little more securely. Being the perfectionist that I am, it bothers me that the flap is not lined (you can see the fusible interfacing I used on the underside. This is likely not a problem for most since I added the interfacing on my own volition because I like sturdy card slots 🙂 ). Next time I am going to try to make the card slot piece longer so that I can fold it at the top to make it “lined”. I may also attempt to add an extra row of card slots.

Having two fairly large zipper pouches in one wallet is fabulous! Between the card slots and bill flap, I had all the space I needed to hold my usual wallet fillers. Both zipper pouches are empty right now because I’m still debating what I want to house in each. I’m leaning towards lip balm and such in one and loose change in the other.

Originally I thought the Rainbow Clutch would be my favorite wallet from the book, but it’s going to be hard to beat the Double Zip Wallet!

doublezip4

Up next on my “to make” list

I can’t wait to make a Market Bag – I’m debating between using some of my Liberty of London or Cath Kidston stash as the accent fabric.

market bag

Market Bag via Noodlhead {click for source}

I’m thinking the Zip Top Tote might make a nice everyday work bag [but you know my love for my Super Tote for work!].

zip top tote

Denim Zip Top Tote via Noodlehead {click for source}

I also ordered button studs so that I could make Anna’s latest design – the Carkai Gatherer Crossbody Bag {free pattern!}. I can’t wait to give that one a try!

carkai

Carkai Crossbody Bag via Noodlehead {click for source}

PS: If you want a sneak peek at the projects in Anna’s book Handmade Style, check out this beautiful post.