The Cutting Table

My cutting table is done! This was my birthday present from Aidan this year and took a bit beyond my birthday to get finished because making things takes time and he had to do the bulk of the work on it outside, which created a lot of natural limits—especially given the extra cold and rainy weather we’ve had so far this spring. I don’t know a lot of the specific details because it was not my actual project and I ceded most of the details to Aidan’s expertise. But I know that it’s a little over 6’x3’ and that it’s a bit taller than counter-height and on casters so that I can move it around easily. I think Aidan started with this tutorial from the Closet Core blog as a rough starting point but then made a bunch of his own design and construction adjustments.

It goes without saying that it is very nice to have a spacious work surface that I can use without having to bend, which was never good for my back but is especially hard after the combination of aging and having two small children have made my lower back a very creaky, fragile zone. But this table has had a transformative effect on my sewing space and, maybe more importantly, the way that I think about that space.

On a practical level, the table has given me space to much a bunch of my cutting tools so that they are no longer cluttering up the desk where my machines are, and where they are out of the reach of my 1.5 year old who has a special radar for anything sharp or potentially hazardous. I also don’t need to keep shuffling my cutting mats and my rulers from corner to corner or surface to surface because they have a place where they are designed to stay. The top of the cutting table can house all of that stuff and be a bit cluttered because it is meant to be an active work space, and that means that the other surfaces that need to be less cluttered stay cleaner.

Aidan had Jude and Silas sign the underside of the table before he assembled it.

But the table makes what we previously referred to as my “office” feel like a studio, which is what I want. I spent several years in two different apartments storing my sewing machine on a large desk where I would push my machines to the side so that I could do work at home. I hated that setup. Things got a little better when we moved into our house and I had the space to get a separate desk to house my machines. The big desk was then mostly available for me to use for work without having to disturb my sewing stuff, although I also used it as a cutting surface (and it also regularly just collected all manner of crap). This was where I did nearly all of my work while I was teaching online during the pandemic—a time when I also did almost no actual sewing.

And that experience taught me that I have zero interest in a home office. I do not want working from home to be a thing that I can seamlessly shift to. (Especially now that we’re in a moment where there is increasing pressure to just “go virtual” for every sick day and every snow day, as though there is no significant time or effort or skill that goes into shifting between modalities at a moment’s notice.) And the cutting table means that working in my sewing space is now no longer really an option. That’s not what it’s built for. It gets to fully be a space that is for my making and my creativity. And if I decide that I am not going to work in my office on campus, then I can settle for the kitchen table, which is precisely what I am doing today. But we will not be going back to a moment where work swallows up my creative life.

Aidan at work. This lovely picture was actually taken by Jude!

Seamwork Lex Sweatshirt

I talked recently about all of my failed garment sewing over the past year or so, but I did recently make something that I am very happy with. After I finished up all of the quilts I had in progress over Spring Break, I knew I wanted to swing back to garment sewing and I knew I wanted (needed) an easy win. So I pulled out some French Terry that I bought last summer and decided to try the Seamwork Lex pattern, which is basically an oversized sweatshirt. My thought was that it’s much easier to get a win with a pattern that doesn’t require much in the way of fitting.

That thinking paid off and I did, indeed, get my easy win. I put this sweatshirt on as soon as I finished it and wore it for the rest of the day. And I’ve worn it every weekend since I finished it, making it one of the only things that has me feeling okay about the colder-than-normal spring weather we’re getting this year.

I am a Seamwork member and have one of the memberships that gives me access to the whole catalog of patterns. Is it worth it? I don’t know but I haven’t felt compelled to cancel it at this point. (I’ve also watched a lot of their classes, which is probably where I’ve felt the benefit of membership more.) I will say that I’m sometimes perplexed by Seamwork patterns or feel intimidated to begin them because I know the way they draft is off for my tastes. I find that they tend to include a lot more ease than I’d like (I made the Mel joggers at one point and cut one size smaller than my measurements indicated and still had to take the outer seams in by about the equivalent of another size and my fabric wasn’t even particularly stretchy). I find that their high necklines also tend to be very, very high, just like the rise on all of their pants. The issue is that I basically need to figure out what my “standard” adjustment for Seamwork patterns is and I haven’t been able to do that yet because 1) I haven’t been sewing much for myself and 2) I just started making muslins, like, a week ago. There aren’t a ton of Seamwork patterns that really pull me in but they do have several really good jackets that I want in my closet, so that’s my big drive for figuring out how to work with their patterns.

Anyway. I was less worried about fit with the Lex because it just doesn’t need to be fitted. I think I started with a size 20, based on my bust measurement, and then graded to a 22 at the hip. The pattern calls for a fairly stable medium-weight knit for the main fabric and then a ribbing with 50% stretch for the cuffs, bottom band, and neckband. I did not have access to a ribbing that would match my fabric so the bulk of the adjustments I made to this pattern were just focused on making it possible to use my main fabric for all the pieces that were supposed to be cut from ribbing. Because the terry had maybe ~20% stretch, I cut the largest size for the cuff and bottom band pieces, which worked out well. The neckline adjustment was more complicated—I first made the neckline wider and deeper (because, again, the Seamwork necklines are *very* high) and then I swapped out the neckband used by the pattern for a neckline binding since it required less stretch and wouldn’t add height to the neckline.

So, all told, this was an easy fitting win, but also still required some pattern adjustments and some critical thought about what it would mean to ditch the ribbing. But it was just the right caliber of pattern work to not stress me out and to make me feel more confident in my ability to make fit adjustments after a year of uninspiring garment projects. And it’s supposed to be in the 80s this weekend, but I might still try to wear this for awhile anyway because that’s how much I love it.

Project Details:

Pattern – Seamwork Lex

Fabric – Medium weight French terry (pretty sure it is a cotton/bamboo blend but I’m not 100% sure. I do know I bought it from Fabric.com and I think it is a Telio fabric?)

Size – Size 20 through shoulders and bust, graded to a 22 for the hip.

Pattern changes – wider, deeper neckline; neck binding instead of neck band; added width to hem band and cuffs to account for lack of stretch in fabric; did not use ribbing

Getting Over My Fitting Hangups

I am trying to recommit to garment sewing right now. The combination of spring and the end of the semester always seem to give me some renewed sewing zeal. I don’t really participate in Me Made May, but seeing other people’s pledges and posts definitely gets me thinking about my closet and my handmade clothes. And the sun and the warmer weather and the relief of being done with grading makes me excited to spend more time in my sewing room.

Yanta Overalls I made last summer and have worn once. I also made a pair of black Arden pants which I have never worn. Just not my style.

It’s been a long time since I have been sewing seriously for myself. Or feels like a long time. I pretty much stopped when I was pregnant with Silas. Then tried to get back into the swing of things last summer and made a handful of garments but none of them ended up being things that I actually wore. The frustration with garment sewing was kind of what pushed me into engaging more seriously with quilting, which I’m grateful for. But I also don’t want to give up on garment sewing.

A Closet Core Tee that looks fine but has covert fit issues that make it very uncomfortable.

The biggest mental barrier for me is that I’ve just gotten really intimidated by the thought of fitting. Yes, I’ve successfully sewn a lot of things for myself in the past. But, my body has fluctuated a lot over the past five years, as you’d expect, through a combination of having babies and, you know, just living. So the feeling that my body is a bit of a moving target that I have to keep relearning is not helping. But I also have a clearer sense of the specific kinds of things that I would like to be making for myself (button up shirts, jeans, jackets), and those kinds of things seems especially intimidating to me on the fitting front. So intimidating that aside from a single pair of jeans and single dartless button up, I have really not attempted making these garments.

A Montrose Tee with screwy bust darts that I rarely wear because I don’t like this style of shirt and the fabric doesn’t feel great.

Part of it is pattern access. For a long time, there haven’t been the kinds of patterns I want to make in my size. I have very specifically been waiting for Grainline Patterns to release a version of the Archer shirt in their expanded size range for what feels like forever. And now Helen’s Closet Patterns has released the Cameron Button Up and Cashmerette has released the Vernon Shirt (they’ve had the Harrison for a while but a fitted princess seam shirt is not my preferred look). I have the Cashmerette Ames jeans pattern and an actual denim kit sitting in my stash, and there are a bunch of different jacket patterns that are in my size from a range of companies that I am excited to try.

Another Montrose I never wear for the same reason. The bust darts on this one are even worse.

I just haven’t been able to get past the mental block of fitting. So I’ve been trying to just work the problem. Seamwork released a class for members a few months ago called How to Fit with Confidence, which I worked my way through slowly. And then I used a gift card I got at Christmas to order a copy of Jenny Rushmore’s book Ahead of the Curve, which I just finished reading. Both resources work together nicely in that that present a shared process (measure, choose a size, make a muslin, address what you see) and a shared mindset (body stuff is hard but it will get easier over time to deal with your measurements, start small and aim for good enough, know that you will learn with each project and fitting will get faster and more intuitive over time).

Adjustments made!

So I’ve been trying to get out of my head about fitting by just leaning into the process. I avoided muslins for a long time because I started sewing in the era of sewing blogs where it seemed like everyone was posting muslins and making a million complex fitting adjustments and fixating on eliminating every possible wrinkle, and it all seemed very intimidating and also not at all fun. Both the Seamwork class and the book address that mindset and offer a more reasonable, low-key approach to making a muslin. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I made my first ever muslin (I think?) for the Cameron Shirt. I new I’d need an FBA and to add a dart, and instead of agonizing over how much to add or where to place the dart, I was able to figure both out really efficiently with the muslin. I’m even going to recut the fronts now that I’ve made an FBA to my pattern piece just to double-check the dart placement and the hip width and to ensure that the pocket markings will work for me, and then I think I’ll be ready to cut out my actual fabric. And I feel reasonably confident that I’ll end up with something that will fit me. And maybe leaning into the process will be the end of the mental block over fitting.

Cicada Making Backpack

This project is almost a year old at this point, but it’s on my mind because I just pulled it out again after using a different backpack throughout the winter. I planned this project about a year before I actually got around to sewing it, so I bought the cicada print canvas (which I think is another pre-Ruby Star Society print from Cotton + Steel, but I might be wrong about that) before I had an inkling that Brood X was going to emerge in Cincinnati in late May 2021—right after I actually finish sewing this. But still, I guess it’s a nice way to memorialize the several weeks we spent besieged by dive bombing bugs and exoskeleton litter and gross cicada larvae and incessant buzzing.

This backpack was the first major project I took on after having Silas. I had done some very easy sewing prior to that, like making a few pairs of pajamas for Jude in the fall when I was still at home on parental leave with Silas. But at some point in the winter of 2020-2021, I just stopped sewing completely. I was teaching 4 classes online, I was getting very limited and fractured sleep, and I was having to dedicate an hour+ of my day to pumping, which is ridiculous. It got to a point where keeping my head above water with my classes required working every night after Jude and Silas were both in bed, as well as working every weekend. By the time I got the end of the semester, I was completely burned out and demoralized. I was lucky that I was able to hand off the summer class I had originally agreed to teach in Summer 2021, which lightened my load over the summer and meant I could focus on just recovering from the spring semester.

I launched my creative recovery by 1) watching The Great Pottery Throw-Down, 2) doing the Design Your Wardrobe class on Seamwork, and 3) making this backpack. The pattern is the Making Backpack by Anna Graham, and I’ve worked with a handful of her patterns before and appreciate the clarity of her instructions. I don’t have extensive bag making experience, so I found all the different kinds of interfacing and various steps fairly intimidating. But I just leaned into the process and focused on one step at the time. The result was a really healing (is that cheesy? I don’t care) sewing process where I got to do the kind of complex, precise work that I enjoy without having to worry about fitting my postpartum body and where I got to see a really beautiful object come together in my hands.

I used this as my everyday bag throughout the summer and fall, swapped it out for a darker backpack for winter, but just brought the cicadas back out. I actually missed carrying this bag around, which tells me I need to make myself something that feels more seasonally appropriate for winter. I’ve got my eye on Anna Graham’s Buckthorn Backpack pattern.

Project Details

  • Pattern: The Making Backpack by Anna Graham (Noodlehead Patterns)
  • Fabric: Exterior fabric is a Cotton + Steel cotton and linen blend canvas and the interior is also an old Cotton + Steel print. I’m pretty sure these are both pre-Ruby Star Society designs, but I’m not 100% sure.
  • Notions: I bought a notions kit from Anna Graham’s shop that had all the canvas strapping, bag sliders, zippers and a little leather patch. It was great to have everything together and I would absolutely go back to her store for notions kits or for sourcing individual notions in the future.
  • Interfacing: I don’t know. There are 3 different kinds of interfacing on this bag, I think? The pattern has very specific recommendations, which I followed. I was able to find exactly what was recommended at Joann’s, and it all worked out really well.

Spring Break Quilting

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot lately—mostly out of a desire to have a place to talk about making things that isn’t just Instagram. But I also need to approach blogging in a different way than I was previously, where everything was basically focused on doing a big write up of things I had finished. It’s too narrow a focus and there’s too much pressure to be finishing things at a quick clip.

So my new experiment is this: commit to posting twice a week on set days and just write about whatever I’m working on or thinking about with whatever time I have available and whatever photos are on my phone. I’m aiming more for a creative journal space than for anything more polished or professional than that. There is every possibility that I will hate it and it won’t work. But I at least want to try it out.

I’m on Spring Break this week, which is giving me a chance to catch up on work stuff. We barely had childcare during the month of January and that meant I started the semester wildly behind, so this is my first chance to get back on even footing. But I’ve also been taking some time during the workday for extra sewing sessions. My goal for the week has been to finish up the three quilts that were laying around my sewing room in varying states of done-ness. Two of them are complete now, including one that has been in the works for a solid two years. (It was actually my first pandemic project.) I’ll share more about those later. With the third, I am about ¾ of the way through the grid quilting I’m doing.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this quilt. I changed my plan for it at the very last minute and picked an entirely new pattern and color scheme, which I stand by. The top came together quickly and easily. I had lots of issues and frustrations with ordering my backing fabric. I spray basted the quilt sandwich after seeing that recommended when backing a fabric with minky, and I regret it wholeheartedly. I’ve had to rip out multiple areas in the quilting and redo them. I wish I had just backed it with flannel.

But one of the things that I love about quilting is that the actual quilting process—sewing lines through the whole quilt sandwich—has a way of softening and blending everything. When I was quilting the vertical lines of the grid, I was full of angst over the whole thing, convinced that it was just going to look terrible. But as soon as I started quilting the horizontal lines, I felt relaxed again. Things just looked right. They just worked. It felt like it was turning out the way it was supposed to.

Before I started quilting, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to decide what scale I should do the grid at (1.5” squares), and whether I should do a straight grid or do a diagonal grid (straight). I drew variations on the backs and fronts of multiple sheets of paper so I could more fully see what it would look like when it was done. Stuff like this can feel so ridiculous when I’m doing it, but then I get to this point with the quilting and it’s so satisfying to see that it was worth it.

Reviving the blog . . . again

I can’t remember the last time I made a post, but I appreciate that this little blogging space is available for me whenever I’m ready to write again. I got very burned out with blogging when I was struggling to find time and light and space to take photos of me wearing the things I’ve made. And I think it didn’t help that I felt like every post needed to be about a new finished project. Stepping away from the blog for a bit has helped me re-envision what I can use my blog for and how I can make blogging work for my life now. So I’m hoping that I can post more regularly about whatever I have in progress and that I can get over my fear of inconveniencing Aidan and just ask him to take pictures of me when I’ve finished a garment.

Although, I am not actually sewing or knitting any garments for myself at the moment. This is mostly because I am 21 weeks pregnant with our second child, and I have no desire to make new maternity garments. But it’s also because the idea of making clothes feels very pointless to me right now given that I have no where to go. I don’t even feel motivated to sew clothes for Jude. In general, the stress of the pandemic and all the news, and the difficulty of working from home while taking care of a  2.5 year old has sort of shifted and tilted my interests. I was reading a ton, but I haven’t read anything since they announced that our classes would be moving online for the rest of the semester. Jude and I have been baking together at least a couple of times a week. I don’t care that much about tv, but I’ve been enjoying playing Animal Crossing. I only want to knit with bright colors. And I’ve been spending my sewing time working on a quilt.

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We did a lot of camping last summer and realized that we needed a picnic/beach quilt that we could take with us on our trips. Early this year, I saw a quilt that Anna Graham made with fabrics from her new Driftless collection and I absolutely loved it. And then she shared a post on Instagram about a shop selling kits for the same quilt and I bought it right away. The quilt pattern is the Geese in Flight pattern by Jeni Baker, which uses a really interesting (and probably easier) no-waste method for creating the flying geese blocks.

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The pattern is rated as “beginner friendly,” which I think is accurate, but that does not mean that it hasn’t been challenging. I have made precisely one quilt prior to this–a crib-sized quilt for Jude that simply involved sewing pre-cut jelly roll strips together. It was basically the tote bag of the quilting world. So I’ve never had to cut blocks before or had to do any serious piecing, and this pattern requires both. When it comes to garment sewing, I am pro-shears all the way. So I had to buy myself my first rotary cutter, which came with it’s own learning curve (although I’ve only given myself two minor cuts, so that’s something). Cutting squares from 15 fat quarters and the background fabric took me at least two and a half weeks–largely because I have had to work every weekend since classes went online, which means my only sewing time has been brief nightly sessions after Jude goes to bed.

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I thought that once I had the blocks cut out, piecing would go much faster, but that was a patently stupid assumption. I thought I was using a 1/4″ foot, but it was not, and I ended up having to rip out my first set of blocks and re-sew them, which took forever. So frustrating! But they have been salvaged, and the subsequent sets of blocks have been much more successful. Each fat quarter ends up yielding 4 of the larger triangle blocks and 4 of the multi-triangle blocks. I have been really taking my time and trying to be precise after my first big screw up, so while I’ve gotten into a rhythm and things are starting to move a bit faster, the piecing is still going very slowly. At this point, I have four and half sets of blocks (out of fifteen total) done.

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Since I don’t have a bunch of other projects that are calling my name, this slow pace doesn’t bother me, and I’m actually finding it kind of soothing to keep working through the same set of steps over and over. It’s also nice to be able to see my piecing getting a little bit more precise with each set of blocks. My plan is to keep chipping away at this through the rest of the month. I’m hoping I can piece the whole top together in that time, but we’ll see what happens.

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Where ever I’m at when June begins, this project will go on hold so I can start yet another quilt–this time, a baby quilt (using the Clava Quilt pattern) for baby #2. I want to make sure that it will get done before he gets here.

 

Summer in Review

Since we’re approaching the Fall Equinox and since it’s been a long time since I updated my blog, I thought it might be a nice idea to do a quick review of all the things I made over the summer. I’ve been a bit overloaded with work since the beginning of the year, and that continued straight through the summer unfortunately. So I don’t feel like I got as much accomplished in the craft room, both because I was limited on time and feeling pretty burned out and uninspired. The fall semester is still loaded up with more work than I’d like and I don’t feel like I’ve been able to get the kind of break I really need yet this year. But towards the end of summer, I finally realized that I wasn’t managing my stress level well and have been making efforts to walk myself back from the point of burn out. And the result is that I am feeling more inspired, getting more knitting and sewing done, and probably just being generally more pleasant to be around. Lol.

Sewing

I started my summer sewing with a few projects for Jude—a beach robe, a cute banana print camp shirt, and a pair of shorts to go with the shirt. I even managed to blog all of those projects! Jude went through a growth spurt around his second birthday in August, so the banana shirt doesn’t fit anymore, but he got quite a few wears out of it before it was too small. The shorts are still in rotation, which is good since our daily temperatures are still regularly in the 80-90 degree range. And the beach robe has been super handy throughout the summer and should still fit next summer as well.

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I also managed to make a few things for myself, starting with a few pairs of pajama pants for myself. I’ve been wanting to find a tried-and-trued pj pant pattern for myself that fit fairly easily without needing a ton of adjustments. The patterns I’ve tried in the past have been those unisex patterns that the Big 4 pattern companies release regularly, but they never work well for my body. But then patterns that get rave reviews and have the kind of fit and details that I like (I’m thinking of the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn PJs here) often don’t come in my size. So I decided to try the Loungewear PJ Pant pattern from Style Arc and it’s a total winner. It’s fits great—no alterations needed at all for me. It has a single back pocket, which is perfect because I get annoyed by the bulk of inseam pockets but still want someplace to stash my phone. I didn’t take any pictures of the two pairs that I made, but I used a linen-cotton blend for the first and a cotton voile for the second. I ditched the pattern instructions for waistband for the second pair and made a classic waistband casing he second pair are basically my dream pair of summer pajama pants. I highly recommend this pattern, and I’m planning to use it to make myself a flannel pj set in the fall so I’ll make sure to get photos next time!

Chambray Kalle Shirt

I also made myself a Kalle shirt using some chambray I’ve had in my stash for a long time and finished it just in time to wear it for the first day of fall classes. This project felt like such a victory. I have felt so intimated by the idea of fitting and sewing a shirt like this, and my attempt at sewing the Willamette last summer didn’t work out so well. But I love this shirt, and I can’t wait to make another version or two next summer. I’m planning to get some better pictures of this so that I can write up a full post with all of my project details.

Knitting

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I’ve been in a massive knitting funk this year—I just haven’t had any inspiration or motivation at all and a lot of the things that I made in the first part of the year just didn’t turn out to my standards. But starting in July or August, I got motivated to pick my needles back up again. I finished a pair of socks using the Rye Light pattern from TinCan Knits. I know I bought this yarn in December from my LYS, but I didn’t record it on Ravelry and then promptly lost the ball band so I have no idea what it is. I also finished all of the knitting on the Chicane Sweater by Cookie A using a soft black yarn that has been in my stash for a long time. I still need to block it and sew in the zipper, but I’ll write up a full post about that project once it’s completely done. And finally, I knit up the Little Dino pattern from Susan B. Anderson. I’m not planning to create a separate post for that project, but I got the pattern and yarn as part of a kit from Barrett Wool Co and it was a delightful knitting experience. I have such a weakness for her toy kits—the temptation to buy every one she releases is intense!

Other Things

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Jude turned 2 this August, so of course I made him another birthday cake. He is absolutely fascinated by garbage and recycling—he loves to throw things away, to sort recycling, take the trash to the curb, watch the garbage collectors dump it in the trucks, pretend to be a garbage collector, find the trash and recycling containers at every place we visit, etc. So obviously his cake had to be trash-themed. Unfortunately, the confetti cake recipe I tried did not work out at all (it end up with a texture more like a cookie than a cake) so I ended up using a Funfetti box mix, which was perfectly delicious and Jude was very excited about his cake.

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I also finally finished up a cross-stitch project that I started before Jude was even born. My left wrist is prone to bouts of pain from certain repetitive activities. Regular knitting doesn’t bother it, but it shows up if I crochet or cross-stitch or do two-fisted colorwork knitting. So I don’t usually have a lot of motivation to do needlework but I decided to pick this up and risk the pain because I finally got moved into a private office on my campus and I wanted to be able to hang this on my office wall. Totally worth it! The pattern is from Satsuma Street.

So that’s the full review of my summer making. I’ve got a long list of fall projects I’d like to make, and I’ve even managed to cross a few items off the list already. I’m planning to start posting here more regularly—I just need to tackle the problem of getting photos. I was setting up a tripod and using a camera remote previously but it’s just too time-consuming and cumbersome to work anymore. I think I either need to rope Aidan into taking pictures for me or get a remote and tripod that will work with the camera on my phone so I can easily take pictures in my office where the lighting is better. We’ll see what happens!

Little Smart Summer Shirt and Kid Shorts

Last summer, I had hoped to sew Jude an outfit for his first birthday party. I had the fabric already and was in the process of picking out patterns when I realized that my time was limited and making him an outfit was just not a priority (especially when a package showed up from my mom with a perfectly-cute monkey-themed outfit he could wear instead).

Kid Shorts and Smart Little Summer Shirt (Ottobre 03/2019 #8)

The camp shirt patterns in the summer kids issue of Ottobre reminded me of my previous plans, and now I’ve finally made the little banana outfit I originally envisioned. As is typical with the Ottobre kids issues (at least with the boys’ patterns), they have a version of a basic camp shirt to fit their whole kids range—one in their infants/toddler sizes, one in smaller kids sizes, and one in larger kids sizes. I really love it when they do this with a basic, workhorse style. It’s nice to know that once Jude grows out of a pattern I’ve used, there is likely a larger version available in the same style. And I think they do a nice job of adjusting the details for the larger sizes so they have a touch more sophistication to appeal to older kids’ tastes. In short, I have endless love for Ottobre. This is nothing new.

Smart Little Summer Shirt (Ottobre 03/2019 #8)

Anyway. Jude is still at the top end of their infants range, so this is the Little Smart Summer Shirt (#8) from Ottobre 03/2019. I cut a size 86 based on my vague memory of his height at his 18 month well-child visit in February. In other words, I probably should have actually measured him again but was too lazy. Luckily, it fits him pretty perfectly right now, but it will definitely be a one-season-only garment.  I think he’ll be ready for a size 92 in the fall, which seems to open up a whole new slew of pattern possibilities from Ottobre, so I’m very excited about that.

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The instructions for this pattern were not the greatest. I mean, I still think Ottobre instructions are miles ahead of, say, Burda or Style Arc. But even with a close read, this pattern required some improvising and I felt like some of the instructions came out of order so it’s worth reading them all through very closely before you begin. The pattern wants you to hem the outer edge of the facing, which I was not interested in doing. I ended up just cutting away the seam allowance I’d added to the piece (per the instructions) and serging the edge to keep it clean. The pattern also calls for horizontal buttonholes and only 4 buttons, which didn’t seem like enough to me. I made vertical buttonholes and ending up using 6 buttons.

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He is definitely telling me about the trash cans in this picture. Jude is quite passionate about trash and recycling right now.

The fabric for the shirt is a Cotton + Steel cotton lawn print from a couple of years ago. I had 2 yards of this fabric in my stash and used way less than that for this shirt, so Jude might get a duplicate shirt next summer. It was really easy to work with and is incredibly soft.

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The shorts are made from some gray Kaufman Brussels linen blend fabric I’ve had in my stash for several years. I used the Kid Shorts pattern from Made Everyday–I cut a 2T and made the view with the lined pockets (using the banana print fabric for the fabric lining) and the fully elasticated waist. I think I’m done with this pattern for the time being. While it’s a perfectly fine pattern, I’m not in love with the fit and, more importantly, really hate that there aren’t instructions with the pattern. You have to track down the tutorial posts the pattern designer published on her blog, which also means having to click around to different posts to reference the instructions for different pattern views. Obviously, constructing a basic pair of shorts isn’t difficult but that’s all the more reason I don’t want to have to do that kind of work to remind myself of the pattern’s hem allowance or whether or not the pocket seams have a different seam allowance than the rest of the shorts. The next time I make Jude a pair of shorts, I think I’m just going to try the Sunny Day Shorts pattern from Oliver & S.

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Still, this outfit turned out really cute. Jude wore this when we took his granddad and his aunt Sarah to the zoo on a very hot and sunny day. This outfit kept him cool and he looked very sweet in it. He already has plenty of clothes to get him through this season, but I’m going to have to make him more shirts like this next summer!

Jude’s Beach Robe

Like the Montessori-Style Apron I recently posted about, this was another quick and easy project that was meant to be fun and bright to keep me excited about sewing after a long lull. This is the Beach Robe pattern from MADE Everyday. I’ve made this pattern three times before—I made two shortly after I started sewing for our godson and our oldest nephew, and then made a third a few years later when our twin nephews grew into the robe I’d made for their brother and needed a second so neither of them had to go naked.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

The pattern is meant to be a beach/swimming cover up, and I appreciate the wisdom of this approach even more now that I’ve tried in vain to convince a cold and shivering toddler to hold still long enough to get dried off and warmed up by a towel. Like the others I’ve made before, I used two of the thinnest bath towels I could get from Target, some basic packaged bias tape, and some quilting cotton from JoAnn’s for the hood lining. I made the 18 month – 3T size, which I’m hoping will fit Jude well for the next couple of summers, and I made the option with the half-ties and short sleeves.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

As I think I’ve said before when I’ve made this pattern, this pattern is very easy except for the bias binding, which is pretty tricky to manage around the robe ties. I’m happy to say that I got a really nice result with the robe ties this time, with no tucks or puckers around the curve of the ties. However, it’s taken me four rounds with the pattern and five years of sewing to get to that point. The pattern also recommends sewing the bias binding in a single step by just sandwiching the robe fabric between the binding and sewing it down, and I think this is a completely bananas recommendation and a recipe for infinite frustration. I have always sewn it in two steps like I would for any other project.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

I sewed the sleeves in flat, attached the sleeve binding after I’d sewed up the side seams, and finished all of the seams with my serger. I sewed the first two robes I made from this pattern before I owned a serger, and I have to say that this is a project where the serger really does produce a better finishing result. Serging the seams together is easiest, most efficient, and cleanest way to contain all of the towel fluff and to control the bulk of the seams.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

Unfortunately, the weather has been pretty terrible since I finished this, so Jude hasn’t actually had a chance to use it as a swimming cover up yet. But he did try it on for me after I finished it and danced around the living room in it, so I’d say it’s a win. 🙂

 

A Montessori-Style Apron for Jude

The first part of this year seemed to yield a high number of sewing and knitting frustrations for me. Projects weren’t turning out well, my motivation to sew or knit was pretty low, I didn’t have any project ideas that were inspiring me. This seems to happen to me every so often—I fall into a kind of funk where creative activity seems to grind to a halt, and it’s hard to get started up again. These lulls tend to happen when things are out of balance for me, which was definitely the case throughout the first part of the year when I was overloaded with work.

Farm Print Montessori-Style Apron

In those moments where making things just stops feeling fun, I really like to find a super easy, super quick project to make. Basically, I start looking for a really easy win—and bonus points if it can be made with a bright quilting cotton print. Around my spring break, Jude had started to get really excited about helping me cook and bake, so I decided to make him a little kitchen apron. This definitely met the criteria for easy and quick. I think I was able to sew this up in just one or two of my usual 20-minute evening sewing sessions. There was no fitting, no fiddly sewing techniques required, and the fabric is full of silly cartoon farm animals.

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I used the free Montessori-style apron pattern available from Sew Liberated. I was drawn to the Montessori-style apron because the Velcro strap and elasticated neck make it easy to get on and off a wiggly toddler. Jude doesn’t have the motor skills to put this on by himself yet, but he can easily take it off when he doesn’t want to wear it anymore. The fabric is from JoAnn’s. While I was getting the fabric cut, the woman at the cutting counter was completely charmed and took a few minutes to look over the fabric and take in all the cute animal scenes. It really is the print that keeps giving, although the woman cutting my fabric was a bit concerned that it looked like the pigs were being fed molten lava. Lol.

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The apron comes in a single size that it meant to fit children from ages 3-6. Jude was 18 months old when I made this, and I was a bit worried that the apron size would overwhelm him a bit so I printed the pattern out at 95% and then adjusted the lengths of the neck and back straps by cutting them at 95% of the recommended length. (See, kids—you really will use those math skills in your adult life.) The size is perfect for him right and will still be able to grow with him for a good bit.

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I honestly wasn’t sure how Jude would feel about wearing an apron. I don’t wear an apron while I cook, so I wouldn’t have the appeal of “looking like mama” on my side if he didn’t want to put it on. But it turns out that he loves it. If I ask him if he wants to get his stool out and help me cook, the first thing he does is grab his apron. And sometimes, he’ll ask to put it on and he’ll just wear it around the house while he plays. He is basically an agent of chaos in the kitchen (as any kid under 2 is, I’m sure), so it’s not like his apron is enough to keep him from getting messy. But it definitely helps cut down on the number of outfit changes required, and he looks so cute while he’s wearing it that it makes it even more fun to have him in the kitchen with me.

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A quick and easy project like this wasn’t enough to magically get me deep into sewing again, but it was a nice way to remember the fun of sewing and offered a moment of relief in the face of my other sewing frustrations. And I’ll take that any day.