A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Meet Niko

He's here!

And he's a he :)

We would have been thrilled with a girl, too - it's been a long time since there was a baby girl in the house and I really love the name we had picked out for her.

But now we're fielding even teams and I love that our house will always have a girls' room and a boys' room.  Plural.  And Gabriel gets a brother.

Thursday morning I woke up feeling crampy and wondering whether this was finally it (I was due Friday).  By about 1 p.m. I was pretty sure I was in labor.  The kids were already at my sister's house, so I made some food, did all the laundry in the house and got the bedroom ready for the birth. 

The midwives arrived around 6 p.m. Thursday and Niko was born at 1:47 a.m. on Friday, which was a feast day in the Orthodox Church honoring Saint Nicholas.  That was pretty amazing since we had planned to name a potential baby boy after the saint all along.

Nicholas is a family name - my brother, uncle, great-uncle and grandfather all share the name. My mother really wanted the tradition to continue.

I wish she were here to see him.

Labor was more difficult than I had anticipated, it being my fourth birth and all.  Dilation took awhile and I had that can't-do-this-anymore transition feeling well before I reached "official" transition.  But I finally got him out.  After I had pushed his head out, the midwives said something to me, and I answered, and the baby swiveled 180 degrees in the direction of my voice.  That did not feel good.  But the midwives thought it was pretty neat.  I wish I had seen it but I was too busy, you know, pushing and all.  He was 7 lbs 13 oz and 20.5 inches long.

I can't believe I have four kids.

Earlier in the pregnancy, Natasha wasn't sure she wanted another sibling.  But she came around.

Zoia positively glowed when she held Niko for the fist time.

Gabriel is fascinated by his little brother.

And I am just overwhelmed with gratitude.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Floaty Boho Maxi Dress

This is the second Boho-Maxi Dress I cut out during KCW.  I used a gorgeous floaty cotton voile from the stash (originally purchased from FabricMart and intended for a blouse for myself) and cut the skirt panels a smidge wider than the pattern dictates, in order to use all the width I had.  Big sister is thrilled with her dress.  

It is a bit sheer so I plan to add a short lining to the skirt using the 20" of voile I have left.

It's not the most practical dress for a 5-year-old, to be sure.  Too long for the playground, too bare for church (unless it's cool enough inside to wear a cardigan on top).  But she loves it and wants to wear it all the time. 

I don't blame her.  If I could pull off a halter-style dress like this (can't, novelty bras never work out for me), I would make myself one too.

It just looks so fun and breezy to wear.

Nothing left to say about this dress - it's an adorable and quick sew.  Go make one!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Flowers and Stripes: Cosi Swimsuits #2 and 3

Right after sewing my first Cosi swimsuit I logged onto The Fabric Fairy looking for more swimsuit fabric.  I immediately fell in love with this gorgeous black kimono floral print and went looking for a stripe to pair with it (sadly, it looks like both fabrics are out of stock now). 


I bought the fabrics with View A of the pattern in mind and got sewing immediately after the fabric arrived.  I lined the suit with some swimsuit lining fabric that I also bought at The Fabric Fairy.

I sewed a straight size 5 for little sister and it fits well except in the bum.  She always rocks a wedgie at the beach and she's got one (though it isn't near as dramatic) in this suit. I'm not planning to post close-up photos of her hind parts on the Internet, so you'll just have to take my word for it. After sewing this suit I think I've finally realized that the kid just has a bit more junk in the trunk than the average 4-year-old.  I will alter the pattern to add more coverage next time I sew this for her.

She is very happy with the suit, as am I, but the fabric is a little disappointing.  After the first wear that coveted floral print developed white pills all over the place.  The following photo was taken after the suit had been worn just five times.  The stripe held up just fine.

Big sister was not deterred by the pills and requested a skirted suit made entirely of the floral fabric.  So I got to work on View D in a size 3 lengthened to a 6, which is the same size I used last time.  I couldn't find the pattern pieces I had made when I sewed View C for her, so I needed to do the pattern adjustments all over again.  I clearly did something wrong, because the suit is just a bit too short in the torso.

The sprayground photos were taken on Saturday morning.  I spent the rest of the day mulling over what to do, and ultimately decided to chop it in half and make a two piece.  It didn't take long, but it was a bit more difficult than I'd anticipated to cut two layers of slidy, stretchy fabric across the torso evenly. 

I chopped it about 2" above the skirt seam, and then used 3/8" swimsuit elastic for the waistband.  I like my girls' tankinis on the modest side, so I added a 4" ruffle to the top.

The proportions aren't right at all, but I think this is a decent salvage job.  I was going for wearability and I got it (also she loves it even more now that is doubly ruffly so that's a win).  I'm a bit concerned that she is going to find the serged ruffle seam to be scratchy, but she loves the print so much that she might not notice.

All's well that ends well, anyway ... I need to make one more of these for her and I think I'm going to do another tankini, but plan it a little better this time.  I also think I might up the width of her suit to a 4 and cut a true 6 length this time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Board shorts

I realized on Monday that my son didn't have a single pair of swim trunks that fits.  With swimsuit season (and my due date) nearly upon us, I had to remedy the situation immediately.  I had picked up some board short fabric when I ordered swimsuit fabric from The Fabric Fairy a few months ago, and my recent eBay elastic bonanza included 5 yards of 1.25" drawstring elastic.  I decided to use the free Sunny Day Shorts pattern from Oliver+S, which I've used before here and here.  I was not planning to line the trunks for my diapered boy, so the only adjustment necessary would be in the waistband (my elastic is wider than the 3/4" called for in the pattern).

I stitched the seams on my sewing machine and then finished them with the serger for durability.  For looks, I pressed the outseam and the rise seam to one side and then did two rows of stitching for a mock flat-felled seam.  I didn't bother adjusting the pattern for a faux fly, but I did stitch a faux fly.  Next time I might do the whole shebang.  It's hard to tell from the photo, but the topstitching is yellow to match the waistband.

I wasn't entirely sure how to deal with the drawstring elastic (and I really wanted to finish the shorts before nap time was over) so I made it up as I went along.  First I sewed the bottom of the waistband to the pants. Then I put two 1/2" buttonholes into the front of the waistband, near the seam.  Keeping the elastic in one long piece, I serged one long edge of the elastic to the wrong side of the top edge of the waistband, leaving about a 1.5" elastic-free section in the center front so that the drawstring could pull through.  I'm not entirely sure that was the right move - I think I definitely should have left a smaller gap - but I am not sure what else I could have done differently.  (If anyone knows, please comment!)

Then I pulled the drawstrings through the buttonholes and knotted them (clearly they need some Fray Check too).  I folded the waistband over on itself, covering the inner seam, and then topstitched it in place.  The top of the waistband is a bit wonky and I'm not certain what I could have done to prevent that.  But it works.

So - microfiber board short fabric? Not as easy to work with as I'd thought.  It is slippery, so cutting was more of a challenge than I had anticipated.  It also seems to resist pressing. I cranked my iron up to the highest setting and used a press cloth (a scrap of cotton sateen) since I figured the microfiber would melt without one.  Even so, it took quite awhile to get those seams nice and flat.  Just be forewarned.

Cute little board shorts for a cute little boy.  I'm planning to make him one more pair - maybe with colorblocking and/or pockets this time.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Booties, blankets and bras, oh my!

Sunday night, I had the panicky realization that there was exactly one pair of baby socks in the house.  It's kind of silly - I mean, it's been 80 degrees here the past week and tomorrow the temperature is supposed to soar to 90 and steamy.  I don't realistically think we're going to have much use for socks.  But all I could think of was Oh-my-gosh-this-baby-could-come-at-any-time-and-his/her-feet-are-going-to-freeze!  

So I did what any sane pregnant woman with a sewing habit would do.  I got out of bed, went down to the sewing cave with my one pair of hand-me-down baby socks and made a quick pattern from it.  Then I sorted through my knit scraps (because you need, like, no fabric to make these) and assembly lined them out.

They aren't perfect - they have this sort of weird ducky-foot shape.  I don't love the seam up the back of the cuff.  I initially tried to attach the cuff differently first by sewing it into a circle and then seaming that to the top of the sock.  Trust me when I say that was way too fiddly for 1 a.m. and possibly for any time.  These cuffs are only 3.5" in circumference!  You might notice that the navy polka-dotted pair has two different cuffs.  I sewed one of them right sides together by accident - again, 1 a.m.  By the time I noticed it, everything was serged together and I wasn't about to unpick that seam.  1 a.m.

And yes, one of those pairs is pink.  I found the pink polka-dotted scrap and couldn't resist making them.  Mama intuition about the gender? I guess we'll see.

This weekend I also made a swaddle blanket out of the same double gauze I used for this Lullaby Layette set.

I cut the blanket 48" square and finished the edges with a narrow hem.

I made a quick wonky star appliqué using the reverse side of the gauze.

It's very soft and light.

Finally, I made two more pieces of nursing sleepwear from the Sweet Blossom Lingerie pattern - a gown and a camisole.  I shortened the straps on the gown, thinking that would add more support, but honestly it just makes my back hurt a little bit to wear it.  Not the best move.  I made the camisole using a yard of cotton/lycra jersey I bought a couple of years ago and then had no idea what to do with.  I fully lined the backs of the garments and partially lined the fronts. 

I got to use some of my eBay lingerie elastic.

The garments are definitely prettier this way but I'm finding the elastic a little scratchy against my arms.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nesting (for myself)

With my first two children, I wore Bravado nursing tank tops at night.  I soon sized out of those tanks, though - they top out at an F/G and were no longer comfortable to wear any time, let alone at night.  And I can't forgo nursing pads at night if I don't want to wake up in a puddle, so I need something to keep the pads in place.  After my son was born, I invested in a nursing sleep bra.  It was not supportive at all but it did the job and I wore that thing right out.  It occurred to me this time around that I could probably make two or three sleep bras for cheaper than I could buy them, so I went searching for a pattern.

I found one - the Sweet Blossom Lingerie pattern.  For $7, you get four patterns - a sleep bra, nursing camisole, nursing gown, and a midriff cover.  The pattern comes in six sizes - but they aren't number sizes - rather they are named after flowers in the spirit that all women are beautiful.  A sweet thought but when I was cutting I kept forgetting which flower I was supposed to be.   I don't have that problem with my number size.  Plus the smallest size is named after the smallest flower - the violet - and the largest size after the largest flower.  So it's all still based on how big you are.

But I digress.

The pattern is supposed to fit up to a C cup, and includes directions for an FBA, including a handy-dandy cutting line built right into the pattern.  For my muslin, I made a 2-inch FBA onto the size that corresponded with my high bust.

Whomp whomp whomp.

It was way too small.  I needed more coverage on the sides and in front.  It probably would have taken me several iterations to figure out how exactly to alter it to fit me better, but then I remembered that the pattern came with a seemingly random pattern piece for a size 32I/34H/36G.  There is no mention of this piece in the instructions, and it is the only additional size offered, but as it turns out, it was the right size for me.   A comparison of that pattern piece and my own FBA pattern piece (which should have been roughly the same, but were not) revealed that the pattern is actually not that easy to size up to the much larger cup sizes - it requires more than just the simple FBA outlined in the instructions.

I sewed my first bra out of some Free Spirit Essentials cotton/lycra jersey from the stash.  I serged the elastic directly to the neckline and armholes, and did not turn it over, because I wasn't sure whether I could afford the 1/2" loss in coverage (turns out I can). I used 3/4" plushback elastic for the underbust because I was skeptical that 1/2" would be sturdy enough for my girls. I think that was the right move, and 1" elastic would have been even better. I serged the elastic to the right side of the bottom of the bra, then turned it out so the elastic shows. The result is not particularly pretty (especially not on my dress form, whose bra I had to stuff with fabric scraps to get it to approximate my shape) but it is functional and that is what I am going for. 

Having got the fit down, I next cut out the sleep gown.  I recently scored big at the G Street Fabrics $2.97 table, and one of the things I picked up was this gorgeous melon-colored mystery knit.  It has fantastic recovery but still drapes beautifully.  It doesn't feel plasticky at all.  I'd guess it's a rayon or viscose blend with lycra and maybe some cotton.  I wish I had more!

I serged the raw edge of the neckline, then turned it under and sewed some brown ruffle elastic to the right side of the fabric. Worked perfectly. I didn't have any more plushback elastic so I used 1/2 inch as per the pattern for the underbust seam. I think this works ok for the gown.  I followed the pattern instructions for attaching the elastic to the armholes and waist, and I finished the hem with a lettuce edge by turning over and stretching the fabric whilst zigzagging. I'm really pleased with the gown and plan to make one more this week.

Lastly I cut out one more sleep bra using some fabric scraps.  I lined the back fully, hoping for a little more support, and added some side support pieces to the front (it didn't work at all).  t had some picot-edged elastic to use for the neckline, but I had to use 1/2" for the under bust as that was all I had on hand.  It definitely doesn't work as well as the 3/4" I used for the first one.  But I have more lingerie elastic on the way (thanks eBay) so I will be all set to make another when it arrives, hopefully tomorrow.

I should note that none of these items are really at all supportive in my size.  So if you are larger busted and are looking for something you can wear out of the house I'd keep searching.  But I tested the bras out by putting them on and rolling around in them - the girls stayed put and did not fall out, and as that is main goal I'm calling these projects a win.  I'm already wearing the bras around the house because, at 38 weeks pregnant (!!), my regular ones are just torturous.  Now if that elastic would arrive so I could make more ...

Linking up to Gray All Day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Houndstooth pants

Right before our February trip to Disney World, I sewed up a storm.  I made a few tulle O+S Onstage Tutu Skirts for the girls and some quick maternity separates for me.  The day before the trip I decided that the boy needed something too.

I didn't have time to draft a new size of my other go-to trouser patterns, so I decided to use the O+S Sunny Day Shorts pattern (size 3T) with added length.  When I tried the unhemmed pants on him the morning of the trip, I didn't like how they looked, so I threw them into the WIP basket, where they sat for two and a half months.

Blue Steel.

During KCW I finally hemmed them (that is all that was left to do!), and I'm actually quite pleased with the result.  I don't really remember what my beef was with the fit of the pants back in February - maybe they were too big.  He has grown a bit lately.

I cut the pieces from a scrap of heavy-weight houndstooth shirting (at least, that is what Robert Kaufman calls it; feels more bottom-weight to me) left over from my Amish Washi Dress.

I added front and back pockets, and lengthened the pattern.  I didn't get a photo of the pocket linings, but they are gray-and-white gingham.

He is is a big fan of the front pockets.

I like the houndstooth pattern a lot for a little boy.

It dresses up for church, but it also looks great with sneakers and a t-shirt - it kind of has a funky skater feel to it when styled more casually.

Hi ho Silver!