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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Post-partum sewing

It has been three and a half weeks since my husband was home with us.  He will probably be in rehab for another two weeks.  He is working very hard and seeing a lot of progress in his left leg.  The therapists believe he will be able to walk with a hemiwalker (used on one side of the body) by the time he is home.  His left arm is progressing more slowly, which he finds quite frustrating.  I visit him nearly every day and take one or two of the kids with me at a time.  Family members have been taking turns staying with me and helping with the kids.  

When he gets home, he will do outpatient therapy. We have been told that he likely will be able to go back to work within a year.  We are fortunate.  This could have been much worse.


When I was pregnant people kept telling me I was "all belly." I smiled and nodded, knowing this to be completely false.  Now that I no longer have a baby belly to make me look cute, the truth comes out.  As none of my pre-pregnancy clothes are even close to fitting it is clear I was more than "all belly."

I know, I know, I just had a baby, don't be so hard on myself, blah blah blah.  It's true enough, and being that this is my fourth postpartum period, I know what to expect.  But I think most women, and especially those who have been pregnant, know what a bummer it is to have nothing in your closet that makes you feel cute.

I am very much in that position.  So I did a little sewing.

The skirt is made out of a cotton interlock that I found at a thrift store ($4 for 2.5 yards, score!).  The floral reminds me of a dress I begged my mother for when I was in the 7th grade.  I adored that dress.   And while it's not really my current style - I'm more of a stripes gal these days - I knew my girls would love it.  I'm thinking raglan tees for fall with contrasting sleeves.  I won't need all 2.5 yards for that, so I figured it was a good fabric to use for a skirt that will hopefully be too big on me in a few months.

To make the skirt, I cut two rectangles based on my hip measurements minus a little for negative ease.  But it turned out the interlock wasn't stretchy enough for the amount of negative ease I had allowed.  I cut two triangles of fabric and inserted them at the side seams to make more of an aline shape.

For the waistband, I serged 1" elastic directly to the wrong side of the fabric, then turned and topstitched through it twice.  I also serged the hem because I hate hemming knits and I didn't feel like resetting my serger for a rolled hem.  The print is so busy that the serged edge isn't very noticeable.

The tshirt is a modified Kirsten Kimono tee like the purple one I blogged about here. I actually made it while I was still pregnant. I felt quite cute when I wore it to a cocktail party with a gold belt and a black skirt, though sadly there is no photographic evidence of this outfit.  I modified the pattern by trapeze-ing it out a couple inches from the narrowest part of my rib cage to the hem.  I bound the neckline with fold-over elastic, but I cut the elastic a bit too short and it pulled my scooped-out neckline up higher than I intended.

The tee is quite long, so I tucked it into the skirt.  I don't usually wear tops tucked in so I think I will cut a few inches off the length before I wear it again.

These items are seeing heavy rotation in my postpartum wardrobe, along with a couple other new makes that I will share next week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cupid thermals

My girls are just a little over one year apart in age (12 months and 18 days, to be exact).  As the years have gone by, they have gotten closer and closer together in size.  First their shoe sizes aligned, and now they are close enough in clothing sizes that we don't really have any hand-me-downs.  By the time Natasha outgrows something, Zoia justbarely fits into it, so we get a few months of wear at most.

When it comes to pajamas, there is absolutely no handing down.  Natasha suffers from a serious case of eczema and requires liberal amounts of moisturizer on her skin at bedtime.  Her pajamas usually give out before she outgrows them just because of the constant laundering to get the oils out.

All this is to say that Zoia was in dire need of new sleepwear.  Her nightgown from last year still fits well, as do the ones I made the year before, but she wanted some short pjs.  I made these using the Oliver+S Field Trip Raglan pattern (size 3T plus length) and the Oliver+S Playtime Leggings pattern.  I modified the leggings pattern by shortening it, and drawing the inseam straight down to make some extra room.

The cotton thermal knit was acquired dirt cheap from Girl Charlee last year.  It was advertised as containing spandex and having "fantastic recovery." Sadly I am not finding that to be the case and am glad I did not attempt to use self-fabric for the neckband as the web site suggested.  I really don't think there is any Lycra in there at all. It works fine for the main fabric in the pjs, though.

I forewent hemming in favor of a rolled lettuce edge on my serger.  The whole set took me about 40 minutes including cutting fabric, and 10 minutes of that was setting up my serger for the rolled edge and then finishing it.  And ... done!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Baby dresses

My husband finally moved to an acute rehabilitation facility on Tuesday night.  The center itself is dismal and dingy.  When I saw it, I cried.  But I guess it doesn't matter what it looks (and smells) like - as long as he gets better there.  The actual therapists seem dedicated, competent and compassionate, and that is the most important thing.  At least, all this is what I keep telling myself.

We don't know how long he will be there, but he will be doing a minimum of three hours of physical and occupational therapy a day.  It's been two weeks since he's been home and we are all missing him greatly.  My mama shoulders feel tired and overloaded.

I wrote this post quite a while ago, saved for a rainy day.  There hasn't been a significant amount of sewing going on here this week, so here you go:

It has been a big year for my in-laws. Last November they had three grandchild.  By this August they will have six. There was a brief period (about two weeks) where I and both my sisters-in-law were all pregnant at the same time.  I did not know what I was having but my sisters-in-law found out and both were expecting girls.

So when it was baby gift time, I reverted to my favorite baby girl gift - a tiny little dress plus an accessory or two.

My new niece born in December received this:

I sewed another 6-12 month sized Oliver+S Music Box Jumper with a gathered skirt.  For the bodice, I used most of the very last scrap of my long-hoarded Kokka matryoshka doll cotton.   The rest of the scrap was used on the covered buttons in the back (I also saved a couple small heart-shaped pieces for future appliqu├ęs).  I paired it with navy blue voile salvaged from the lining of my first Washi dress, and some red gingham piping acquired on sale from Martha Pullen a few years ago.  I made a Purl Soho baby bonnet to go with it, using scraps of white sateen, gray quilting cotton and more of the red gingham piping. Red topstitching around the hem.  My niece doesn't fit into it yet but I'm hoping to see it modeled soon.  My sister-in-law loved it :)

My other sister-in-law got this for baby due in July:

I used some stash fabric - one of the last pieces of quilting cotton yardage from my early sewing days.  I decided to try out the free 0-3 month Geranium pattern for this one.  I did not realize until I was finished sewing the dress that the pattern as written has kind of an awkward back-skirt overlap.

Everyone raves about the pattern but few blog posts mention this issue.  To be honest, it feels a little sloppy to me.  I don't think my sister-in-law noticed, though.  Nor, I hope, did she notice that I sewed the skirt on upside down. (This dress was sewn at 1 a.m. during a particularly awful bout of pregnancy insomnia.)

I added a matching diaper cover made using the tutorial from Dana-Made-It and threw in a half dozen double-sided flannel washcloths/cloth wipes.

 Baby gift = done!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Some bad news

This is a sewing blog. I don't normally post about my life but I don't know how I could not post about this. 

My husband had a stroke on Friday. He woke up at 4 a.m. and said he couldn't feel his arm. Within five minutes I had called 911 and the ambulance was en route. He is currently in the neuroscience intensive care unit at a nearby hospital and is unable to move his left arm and leg. The doctors are flummoxed - healthy, active 37-year-old men with normal blood pressure and cholesterol aren't supposed to have strokes.

My in-laws arrived Friday evening and we have been taking shifts at the hospital. Friends and family are bringing food (more than can fit in the fridge, actually!) and helping with child care. We are fortunate to have good support. 

No one can say what the coming days, weeks or months will bring.  There is no time for sewing now but even in times of crisis I find that my mind flits back to the craft room some times, planning projects or mentally pairing fabrics. The baby needs some pacifier clips and I have all the supplies .. just need 20 minutes! I have a few backlogged blog posts so you'll see those coming up, whether or not I actually make it to the machine.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sarafan and kokoshnik

Growing up, my Saturday mornings were spent at Russian school.  My feelings about Russian school were pretty similar to the feelings of Toula's daughter towards Greek school in the last scene of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  I did not enjoy it.

Nevertheless, here my girls are going to Russian school on Monday afternoons.  Natasha enjoys it. Zoia is ok now that the year is almost over but she had a rough time at first.  Tough break, kiddo.  But she did get to perform in the school's Christmas show in January (Orthodox Christmas is January 7).  In typical Russian school fashion, I did not get the memo that she needed a folk costume until quite late.  I could have ordered one, but at that point it would have cost an arm and a leg.  I have mentioned before on this blog that I do not relish costume sewing. I sucked it up for economy's sake, and hit up Joann's for some red satin and sparkly trim.

I avoided the costume satin and sprang for some of the nicer stuff.  It wasn't as hard to work with as I'd feared and as it turns out, I actually enjoyed sewing this.

While doing so, I thought a lot about my Babushka, who sewed multiple sarafani (pinafores) for me and my sister while we were growing up.  I even used some of her old trim on the kokoshnik (headdress). As our dress-up bin contains a sarafan Babushka made me eons ago, I was able to examine it to figure out how to sew one.  It's a dead easy thing to make - three rectangles for the straps and bodice and a long billowy skirt.  Boom.

I could not get the fabric to photograph correctly for the life of me.

The kokoshnik was a little more difficult.  I ended up using heavy interfacing for the inside, which wasn't quite heavy enough, so it flops forward.

Cardboard would have been better.  And the kokoshnik was a little too big for her, but it worked.  If I ever need to make another one (and I hope I never do) I will probably make it about half the height.  For now, though, both items have been relegated to the dress-up bin.

Zoia wore the ensemble with an embroidered blouse my dad brought back from a well-timed business trip to Kyiv.  She totally didn't know any of the words* but she looked so cute on stage.

*she didn't know the words because, again, in true Russian school fashion, the song lyrics they sent home, and on which we painstakingly worked for two months, were not actually the lyrics to the songs they ended up singing during the performance.