Saturday, September 24, 2011

Busy Building Baby's Boudoir

The lack of posting has been mostly due to the fact that my in-laws came all the way from Boston to help us get the baby's room in order.  We didn't manage to get it completely in order, but all of the heavy-lifting got down and that was the important bit.  The rest J and I can do ourselves.

Most of the actual home improvement work was done by J and his father.  Over a period of four days, they put up some shelves on the wall in the living room (in our new office space), moved the desk from the baby's room to the living room, put shelves on the wall in the baby's room, moved bookcases in the baby's room (most of our books will still be in the baby's room since we don't have any other place to put four 6 ft tall bookcases) and earthquake-proofed them by strapping them to the wall, and painted the accent/mural wall (two colors:  green for grass and blue for sky; I've got flower and butterfly wall decals to decorate the wall with), and, finally, put together the crib and the new Ikea chair for the baby's room.  This was all the more amazing because my FIL has cat allergies and so could only spend four hours a day in the apt. before the cat dander overwhelmed the allergy medicine and his eyes started watering!

While J and his father were bonding over construction, my MIL and I were shopping.  We got a car seat, stroller frame, clothes, crib mattress, bedding, changing pad, and all kinds of baby paraphernalia, mostly necessary (ie bottles), some not-so-much (ie cute dresses).

We still need to touch up the paint on the mural wall, put up the decals, put the crib against the mural wall, finish painting the dresser, put together the baby's bookcase, and put up pictures and other decorations.  Fortunately, we have a month and a half to do it, so I'm certain it will be done by the time the baby makes an appearance!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Finished: Twinkle Cardigan

My first finished handknit for my baby!

Figure 1:  Twinkle Cardigan
Pattern:  Twinkle Cardigan.  A rewritten vintage pattern offered free on Ravelry.
Yarn:  Cascade Heritage 150 sock yarn, 75% merino wool, 25% nylon.
Buttons:  I found the perfect buttons on Etsy (shop:  ABandC)!  They are vintage glass buttons and are so adorable I can't stand it.
Figure 2:  The cutest buttons ever.
Modifications:  Instead of threading a ribbon through the eyelet row around the collar in order to tie the cardigan closed, I added three buttonholes in the button-band area.
Ravelry notes:  here

This cardigan is the first piece in my baby's coming home outfit.  It will be joined by a yellow dress with a white peter pan collar (I had already planned the yellow dress so I was thrilled when I found the white buttons with the little blue and yellow flowers!) and (hopefully) a knit baby bonnet and booties in the same yarn as the cardigan.  The next priority in this little layette is the dress, then I'll work on the bonnet and finally the booties.  I'm working on it all in order of importance (to me) so that if I run out of time, I'll have the most important pieces done.

The cardigan may actually be a little too big for a newborn, but I made it and by golly, she's going to wear it home from the hospital if I have the roll the sleeves up to the armpits and tie a ribbon around her waist to keep it from falling off!

I'm really very proud of this little cardigan and I can't wait to see my baby in it.  It's a pretty easy knit, really (top down construction with no seams) but I'm really impressed with myself all the same.  

Figure 3:  One more shot!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Post-baby sewing dreams

Did everyone have a good Labor Day weekend?  My husband and I did nothing of consequence.  Well, I did a little fabric shopping and we made a valiant but failed attempt at hanging some shelves, but other than that, nothing much happened.

I've been thinking about the things I want to sew post-baby (you know, with all that free time I'm bound to have while caring for an infant).  I really got into reading sewing blogs for the first time last spring. Garment-sewing, that is. I have been reading a few craft blogs that had small project sewing and some sewing for kids for probably almost a year. I don't remember how I got into it, exactly, I think I followed a link to a link and started reading Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing and Casey's Elegant Musings and sort of branched out from there.

At any rate, reading sewing blogs really inspired me to sew for myself and I saw a number of fabulous patterns that I desperately wanted to sew, but I had a little thing that was keeping me from starting those patterns, a little thing that is growing bigger and bigger every day! I could sew to my pre-pregnancy measurements, I suppose but there would be no way to check the fit and who knows if I'll ever get my pre-pregnancy body back (I've heard my boobs will never be the same, for instance) or if I do, how long that's going to take. So, for now, I enviously look at the brilliant garments people have shown and I jealously sigh over the sew-alongs I'd love to participate in, and I dream of the clothes I hope to make one day.

Here are just a few of the patterns I've got in my mental queue:

  • Violet shirt by Collette: A sweet button-down shirt with a peter pan collar. It's specifically labeled for beginners and I think it will be a great way to improve my fitting skills with a blouse that's a little more complicated than the Sorbetto.
  • Ginger skirt by Collette: A fairly simple A-line skirt with three different waistband options. I've made a couple of A-line skirts, but none with this type of waistband. I'd also like to try the option of cutting a striped fabric on the bias and making a chevron pattern. Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch has tips for sewing on the bias and inserting a zipper into bias-cut garments from her Ginger sew-along.
  • Peony dress by Collette:  This is part of their Fall 2011 line.  A simple dress for beginners!
  • Oolong dress by Collette: Are you sensing a pattern here? I do like the Collette patterns! This is a bias-cut dress with a ruched bodice. There are no closures to deal with, but I understand that sewing bias-cut fabric can be a little tricky.
  • Lonsdale dress by Sewaholic: This is fun, summery dress with an interesting neckline. It would require wearing a strapless bra, but I'm willing to put up with that to wear this dress. Tasia did a sew-along for this dress so I have something to refer to if I get stuck.
  • 1940s Swing Dress by Sense and Sensibility: This is just what the title says it is. It has a cross-over bodice and a gored skirt. Casey's Elegant Musings did a sew-along for it so I have a decent amount of reference material to help me make my own.
  • 1950s Collar Confection Blouse from Decades of Style: This is a reproduction of a vintage blouse pattern with a fitted waist and a fun collar. A much more complicated project to be done after I have a couple of (successful) shirts under my belt.
  • Plain and Simple Princess Shirt by HotPatterns: This is a plain, simple, princess seamed button-down shirt. It'll be great to have in my wardrobe and useful for learning to do an FBA on a princess-seamed garment.
You may have notice there are no pants in this list. Pants scare of me (I've acquired a horrible penchant for puns recently, so sorry to put you through it). They seem so complicated! It's a whole different set of measurements to get right. I'd like to try them someday, maybe starting with a really simple pattern with a side-zip (like this one from Hot Patterns).

You may also have noticed that none of the patterns listed are from one of the big 4 pattern companies (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall's, and Vogue). I like the idea of supporting independent pattern makers. They are mostly small businesses run by amazing women who had a vision and the courage to carry it out. It's the kind of thing that's worth supporting in my book. That's not to say I'll never sew a big 4 pattern again (I've got a couple of baby patterns from Simplicity and McCall's in my Not-For-Me queue), just that I want to support small businesses when I can.

So, that's my apres gestation wishlist.  I'm imagining that's a good year's worth of sewing there, given that: 1) I'll have a baby to look after (and I hear they are sort of high maintenance) and 2) I'll have a baby to sew for (all the cute little dresses and rompers and dresses and ruffled diaper covers and dresses!).

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Maternity Sorbetto FBA: Take #2

So, in my first post on modifying the Sorbetto pattern, I mentioned that I was using the book Pattern Fitting With Confidence as a reference.

Fig. 1.  She doesn't look very confident, does she?
 In order to add room for an ample bust, the book suggests increasing the size of the bust dart and adjusting the length of the front in order to compensate for the increase in the size of the dart. Well, I tried that method and it did not give me enough room. In fact, after that modification, I still needed to add at least 2.5 inches overall to the bust area just to get a fitted bust and another 1.5 inches for ease. I'm tempted to say that the Pattern Fitting with Confidence bust adjustment was a complete....bust (ha.ha). Perhaps it works for small increases or maybe I did something wrong? I dunno. Additionally, the book does not give you instructions on how to add more room if you find that your first adjustment is not sufficient. Presumably, you make an even larger dart (because that worked so well the first time), but by how much?

So, I decided to try the "slash and spread" method of increasing the bust size which pretty much seems to be the method of choice on every sewing blog I've ever read. What this method has going for it is that I can make the adjustment based on the size of the gap that resulted from slashing my muslin in the bust area.

However, I think that, rather than attempt to incorporate the changes from the muslin into the front pattern piece, I'm going to just start over. There are a couple of reasons I think this is the way to go. First, because I need to add ease overall in that area (front and back). I think the best way to do this is extend the side seams at the bustline on both the front and back pattern pieces. The second reason is I want to determine if the slash and spread method FBA will give me the right fit in the bust from the very beginning. I think this will be useful since it seems that the slash and spread FBA will be my method of choice in the future and it would be good to know how well it works.

So, following the instructions from here, I spent about 3 hours making pattern alterations Wed. night. For real. I can only hope that things will go faster the second time I try to do an FBA!

Fig. 2.  My pattern adjustment tools.  Not shown:  tape.  Lots and lots of tape.
 At any rate, the first thing the instructions tell you to do is a tissue fitting. I have never tried doing a tissue fitting before, but there's a first time for everything.

To do the fitting, I traced the original pattern onto tissue paper. I traced out a size 10 in the shoulders and armholes, a size 14 in the side seams until the waist, and blended to a size 18 at the hem. I pinned the dart closed as if I had sewn it and pressed it down, pinned the pleat out of the way so I could see where the center of the front was, and pinned the front and back together at the side seams and shoulders, then tried it on in front of a mirror. I didn't take pictures of the tissue fitting because of that whole not wanting half-naked pictures of myself on the internet thing. The result was that the center of the pattern was offset from the center of my torso by 2 inches.
Fig. 3.  An artist's rendering of my tissue fitting.

So, changes made to the pattern:
  • Full Bust Adjustment. Using the slash and spread method, I increased the bust by 2 inches. This increased the dart, lengthened the pattern, and increased the waist by 2 inches.
  • Changed the dart position. After the FBA, the dart was no longer pointing to the apex. The dart was also no longer horizontal but sort of pointing downward. I tried to follow the instructions for changing the dart, but I needed to rotate it to make it horizontal again. The result is that I'm not quite sure I have the dart right and I think I may have lost a little room in the side seam? I dunno. I figured I'd go to the muslin stage and see how it turned out.
  • I also added six inches length to the center front to make sure my belly was covered. I curved the hem to the original size 18 hemline at the side seam.
  • I had to add 7/8 in. in length to the back side seam to get it to match up with the front side seam after the FBA. Then, I added 1 in. in length to the center back and curved the hem to the newly drawn hemline at the side seam.
Now, because I blended to a size 18 from the waistline to the hemline and I added 2 inches to the width of the waist while doing the FBA (more on that in a second) and I'm only sewing the pleat down to just past my bust, I believe I will have ample room for my big belly with a little room to grow, even. So, I didn't need to do a special adjustment to make this a maternity top.

Fig. 4.  You too can wear a tent!
Which brings me to my next point, what would I have done if I wasn't pregnant? The waist would have had 4 total inches added to it (since the pattern piece is half of the front, the total added is 2 in. x 2)!!!

 That's really not going to work post-pregnancy. So, how does one fix that? Do you put in a second dart at the waist?  I don't think that would look right on this particular pattern since it is meant to be only slightly fitted.  Do you somehow close that area up?  Take the extra out of the side seams?  Part of the point of doing an FBA (I thought?) was to add room to the bust and nowhere else to avoid making something that fit like a muumuu.

At any rate, after making all of the changes listed above, I pinned the tissue pieces back together and tried it on again.  It seemed to fit, so I'm going forward with the muslin.  We'll see what happens when I try this in fabric!

Fig. 5.  Behold!  The Frankenpattern!