Making time for Me- and Sewing

This may come as a shock, but it is really hard to make time for myself now that I’m a mom. I haven’t even gone back to work yet and I can’t believe how tired I am All. The. Time. It’s probably also the weather and time change but I just have no energy lately! It’s been hard to work on some of the projects we want to tackle around the house because they aren’t really suited to “mom life,” AKA only having 10 minutes to devote to something before I have to prepare a meal, clean up, change a diaper, make animal noises, clean up, do nap time, make a snack, clean up, do bath time, do story time, do bed time, and clean up. Did I mention all the cleaning?

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Sewing, however, is something I can work on in stages. It’s also great “me time” because I can get totally absorbed in it and it’s a hobby I really enjoy that I can be truly selfish with (my husband is unlikely to ever tag along with me to FabricLand). I’ve completed a number of sewing projects since I got back into it a few years ago, but mostly just basic stuff like throw pillows and curtains (not counting my slipcover project, which involved basic techniques but was still a major undertaking). I’ve been trying to work up the courage to sew some clothing for a while, but I find it hard to motivate myself to push through the learning phase; I just want to my plan to work out perfectly and want to skip past the mistakes to get to a finished and flawless product. I know if I’m not 100% happy with the way something turns out, I’ll just never wear it and it would be a waste of time and energy. But after seeing a bunch of other people have success with the Scout Tee pattern from Grainline Studios and hearing everyone rave about it as a beginner pattern, I decided to go for it. I figured if I liked it, I could try one of the variations next.

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Split neckline variation 

Knit variation with a fuller back

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Lace colour blocked variation

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Longer sleeved variation

I just went with the bog standard Scout Tee pattern as is, and I’m so glad I tried it out! I am really happy with the fit and will definitely wear it. I like it so much that I can’t wait to buy different fabric to try it with! This pattern was awesome because it was easy enough but also challenged me, I got to learn some new techniques like the neckline bias binding and using basting stitches to attach the sleeves, not to mention refresh my memory on how to actually follow a pattern. Another new skill I learned with this project was how to use a serger, so my seams look pretty darn professional and finished (if you don’t look that closely :P). Shout out to my dad for letting me borrow it! Here is my Scout Tee (you can see I worked especially hard on my model “stare off into the distance thoughtfully” pose)

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I can’t wait to try the Scout Tee with different fabric. As I mentioned, there are a ton of variations on the pattern with some great tutorials. The author (designer?) of the pattern also has a great tutorial on how to do the neckline which I couldn’t have managed without. I would definitely recommend this pattern to a beginner, or seasoned vet looking for a quick project!

Let me know what you think! If you’ve been looking for a starter sewing project, the Scout Tee is a great option.

-C

The Long-Awaited Kimono

It’s been a while, eh? Now that Baby H has finally started napping  somewhat reliably and I actually have more than 5 minutes a day where I’m not brushing my teeth, showering, shoveling food down my gullet, or catching up on sleep, I might have time to blog again! 😮 [side note- I first wrote this draft three months ago; clearly the napping has been going swimmingly. I have one of those babies that naps anywhere from 30-45 min and occasionally over an hour. I can count on one hand the number of 2 hour naps she’s had. Somewhere out there, a friend of a friend of my husband’s told him that by 6 months, he could expect that our daughter would nap for 2 hours, 3x a day and I would have time to grow a veggie garden, clean the house, and cook elaborate homemade meals with all my free time. Dude, I don’t know who you are or where you are, but I hope karma does.]

I would also like to take this time to formally apologize to every new mom I know, who I quietly judged inside my head before becoming one myself. Forgive me. The best quote I have heard on this topic is “It’s awfully hard to get on that high horse with a baby in your arms.”

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We both know it’s going to be weeks months before you finish this, so I’m just going to make myself comfy…

I’ve had a kimono project in the back of my mind ever since I saw Holly Dolly’s. When I found a cute peachy floral fabric at my #1 happy place AKA FabricLand, I knew just what to do! Actually that’s a lie, here is the original fabric that I wanted to use, but it was like $20/m so I settled on the cheaper alternative.

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I wanted something that would be light for the summer that I could nurse discreetly in. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but the last item of clothing I sewed was a pair of PJ pants back when I was oh, 10 or so? And I hated them and never wore them (sorry, Mom). I used a tutorial from Elle Apparel Blog as a rough guide, laid out my fabric, and got to it!

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Why yes, that is a baby strapped to my body while I sewed. #babywearingforthewin

One thing this project gave me was experience using the presser foot on my sewing machine. I’m super impressed with my little Janome SUV 1108. It came with a ton of accessories that I am slowly learning the different uses for. It was a fun challenge figuring out how to do a rolled hem. Shout out to the people of the sewing sub on Reddit for their tips! The fabric was super fine and hard to work with, so I used spray starch to get it to “stick” and feed better into the foot. I made sure to practice on a few test strips until I got the feel for how to feed the fabric into the foot, and took my time- unpicking was tedious and not suited to the delicate nature of the fabric, so I really had to try to get it right on the first pass. I also used these tips from Megan Nielsen and this video from The Colorful World of Sewing to help me out.

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Test strips, test strips, and more test strips

Et voila.

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Just in time for the fall [Edit… winter] and for baby to start solids, my easy breezy summery nursing-friendly kimono!

-C

Organza and Satin Ribbon Bridal Sash

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My super crafty and creative friend recently got married and although making a bridal sash is totally something she would nail, her to-do list for the wedding was pretty long… like, clear a patch of land in the woods for the ceremony, cut down trees to make the benches, and break her arm in the process long. So she asked me if I would look after it, and I gladly obliged!

You may remember that I made my own sash(es) for my wedding out of rolled dupioni silk roses and pearl beads. My friend wanted me to “copy” one from the bridal shop where she tried on her dress, which had a large silk flower along with feathers and other pretty bits. While I was doing some research on DIY silk flowers, I stumbled on this great blog post from Reese Dixon that describes how to make flowers out of organza.

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Aren’t they gorgeous? After a few quick stops to Fabricland and Michael’s I had everything I needed.

First, I made a large white flower out of some beautiful shimmery organza and 2 small rolled satin ribbon roses using the same tutorial I used for my dupioni silk flower wedding sash, except with 2″ ribbon instead of silk. I am happy to report that although I started off making rolled flowers with hot glue because I was too scared to hand-stitch, after all the practice I got for the whale and fish baby mobiles I made, I can (semi) confidently hand-stitch without (much) tangling/swearing! I made a good chunk of this sash with needle and thread, instead of relying on the all-too-easy-and-sometimes-disastrous hot glue.

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Once the flowers were done, I figured out how I wanted to have them arranged on the ribbon, and set to work making the backing.

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For the backing, I cut an oval of felt to size and cut circles out of tulle. I pinched the tulle circles in the middle and rolled/tucked until they looked pretty, then tied the ends off.

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The next steps I didn’t take photos of because I was too focused on getting it to look right! Once I knew where the flowers were going, I filled in the gaps between them with the folded bits of tulle by hand-stitching them to the felt at the knotted end. Then I added feathers pointing in all directions behind and between where the flowers would go by hand-stitching them 2-3 at a time (they came stuck to a fabric circle that I cut them off of in groupings, then sewed on to the felt). I made sure to attach more feathers than I thought I would want, because it’s hard to get them to lie right- that way, I could cut off any ones that looked odd. Having a bit extra also helped when I accidentally dripped hot glue on part of it and had to cut some of it away…

Once I was happy with the placement of the tulle and the feathers, it was time to attach the flowers. I relied on hot glue for this part since the flowers would have been pretty thick to sew through. The roses were pretty straight forward, I just hot glued them to the felt. But I had to be careful with the organza flower; hot glue pretty much melts anything it comes in contact with, and I was pretty sure the organza was not heat resistant. To make sure the hot glue wouldn’t melt right through it,  I sewed a circle of felt on to the back of the organza flower by stitching through all except the topmost layers (to hide the stitches),  then glued the circle to the felt backing. I forgot to take a picture of sewing the pearl beads to the organza flower, which I did before attaching the felt circle.

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I left the tails of the ribbon pretty long so my friend could just tie it on to her dress, but the back of her dress had really pretty button detailing that she didn’t want to hide. I needed to find a way to join the two ends so that they would meet in the middle of her back like a belt. I could have used a button or a set of hooks and eyes, but then I had a brain wave: I bought a bra extender clip from Fabricland and hot glued the ends of the ribbon to either side of the clip so it was exactly the width of her waist. I managed to hide the clip with a fold of ribbon so you could only see two edges of ribbon meeting.

Want to see it in action? Sure you do!

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Beautiful! Congrats to our lovely friends D&D, it was such a great day and so special to be a part of.

This could have easily been made entirely with hot glue, but I am pretty proud of myself for growing in my craft skill set and improving my hand stitching skills, and I think the end result is a lot nicer than it would have been otherwise! How about you, have you tried your luck at a handmade bridal sash or put on your big girl pants and exchanged the hot glue for a needle and thread?

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One Step at a Time

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it’s time to break out all my favourite spring/summer clothes. Normally I would be super excited about this- I pack away seasonal clothes so it’s like shopping from my own closet when the weather changes- but I got a bit of a shock when I tried on my bright green skinny pants: they don’t fit any more! I knew the winter had been a particularly cold, lazy, snuggly, TV-watching, comfort food-eating one, but I was not prepared for the proof before my eyes.

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So when I saw a post on Honeybear Lane about making one small change to become healthier, it resonated with me. Her goals were pretty reasonable: to go to bed before 11 pm and to avoid eating anything past 8 pm. I’ve decided over the next few weeks to try this too! I know I can’t completely change my habits overnight, so this way it’s a lot more manageable. Trying to make healthier meals, depriving myself of sweet treats, and exercising more sounds too daunting to tackle all at once so I’m going to try it a little bit at a time.

The reason I decided to write a post about this is to commit myself to it- it’s too easy to just tell myself that I’m going to try, and then not stick to it. The first small change that I am trying to make is to squeeze a bit of exercise into my schedule. Nothing huge- for instance, last week I did a 30 min yoga DVD from Jillian Michaels (good God, that woman makes you work) and I joined a coworker for a 20 min jog over lunch. I’m also thinking about hitting up the free swim hour at my local indoor swimming pool. As soon as I feel like this is part of my routine, I’m going to move on to eating a bit better- namely, eating something more substantial than a granola bar for breakfast and including more veggies in my diet. Sounds pretty doable, right?

Wish me luck! I’d love to hear if you’re going to join me- there’s nothing like group motivation!

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Old Sweater, New Look

I love to sew, but sometimes I hate to sew, you know? The tutorials I found online for sewing on elbow patches made it sound so easy:

1) Cut an oval of the fabric of your choice to make a patch.

2) Centre the oval on the elbow of the sleeve.

3) Stitch the patch on.

4) You’re done!

Here’s a more realistic breakdown (for me anyway):

1) Cut an oval of the fabric of your choice to make a patch.

2) Centre the oval on the elbow of the sleeve.

3) Notice that the patches are not symmetrical. Try again.

4) Notice that although they are now symmetrical, the patches are now not covering the worn area of the sleeve, which defeats the purpose of the elbow patch in the first place. Consider the importance of having symmetrical elbow patches vs. the importance of having functional elbow patches.

5) Try again.

6) Now that the patches are semi-symmetrical and mostly covering the worn area (a good compromise is one in which neither party is happy), start sewing the patches on with your sewing machine.

7) Have a minor heart attack halfway through sewing the first patch on when the fabric bunches up, making you think you have ruined your favourite sweater. Call it a night and come back to it after 48 hours.

8) Finish sewing the other half of the first patch and the entire second patch by hand. Be grateful you did not choose a contrasting thread colour, which hides how uneven your stitches are.

9) You’re done!

We took my elbow patched sweater for a lovely “Spring” walk and took some photos by the creek near our apartment. It was snowing and I took off my coat and mitts for the photos.

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The tutorial I followed (more or less) was from Brit + Co. I used one-sided fabric adhesive after I had sewed the patch on, and I only used it because I wanted to keep the frayed and worn areas from getting worse. I also did a zig-zag stitch around the patch before stitching it on to prevent it from fraying, since I used corduroy.

This was frustrating but it’s partly my own fault. Every time I sew something I think “I should put more pins on, but it’ll probably be ok” and it’s never ok. Why don’t I learn? Oh well, I’m just happy I can still wear my favourite cardigan!

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