Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Operation Sew Practical

One of my sewing goals this year is to sew practical items, which is just a little odd because I haven't sewn much of anything--practical or not--for quite some time.


Fig.1Not practical.
When I dream and plan and hope and wish and think about things to sew, it's almost always not a practical item.  It's a nice dress or fancy pillows for the living room or bedroom or toys or cute little zippered bags.  It's never stuff I really need right now.  It's never stuff that I would absolutely use right now.  The end result of this is that I end up not really sewing anything at all because I have little time to sew and little real use for the things I dream about sewing.  And now I have Cate and, let's face it, newborns are not known for promoting their parents' leisure activities.  So, the odds that I'm going to sewing that dupioni dress are slim to none.  And, even if I did sew it and have some occasion to wear it, I'm sure Cate would spit up on it or have a horrible poopy diaper explosion five minutes after I put it on.

So, it's my mission to sew some practical things this year.  Things that I would actually use or wear right now and can survive close proximity to an infant.  However, practical doesn't necessarily mean boring or unattractive.  There are many lovely machine wash and dry fabrics out there.  And there are many lovely patterns for things other than dresses.

Fig. 2.  Determined to show everyone my bra
One thing I desperately need is a wardrobe full of new shirts.  Most of the shirts/tops/blouses I own are V-neck or scoop neck knits.  The necklines are not really low cut but they are not up around my neck either.  They are comfortable and I find that V-neck and scoop neck tops are the most flattering on me.  Sadly, while practical in the sense that they are wash and dry and I can spray stain remover on them to my heart's content, they are not practical in the sense that I do not want to show my boobs in public.  See, Cate has this habit of grabbing my shirt neck and pulling it every which way, sometimes down below my breasts, and then holding it there such that the entire world can now see my bra.  I don't see this changing anytime soon.

Fig. 3.  What would you call this neckline?
There are two solutions to this problem.  One is to wear crew-neck shirts because then she wouldn't be able to stretch the neckline that far.  I hate wearing crew-neck shirts, they aren't flattering on me and they feel like a noose around my neck.  I recently bought a notched, sort of boat-necked (low scoop necked?) shirt from Eddie Bauer that I like quite well which she cannot pull down enough to expose me and I will likely get a couple more of them.

The other solution is to wear shirts made of woven material.  Here is where we run into big (literally) problems.  Ready to wear shirts are not designed for women with larger than average busts.  I wear a DD or E cup, depending on the bra.  Therefore, if I want to buy a shirt that fits over my chest it either needs to be baggy in design or a size or two larger than what I need to buy to fit the rest of my torso.  Neither of these options is particularly flattering on me.  I can make do by buying a button down shirt that I wear a cami under and only button below my chest but that gets really old (also, what is with most cami-shirts coming with that damn shelf bra in them?  I always have to cut that stupid thing out).

So, if I want to wear a fitted or semi-fitted top made out of a woven material, the best solution is to sew it myself.  This is still a little complicated because I will have to alter the pattern because patterns are usually drafted for a B cup, but it's better than buying a shirt I know does not fit me properly.

I am going to start with the Sorbetto, a free pattern from Colette.  You may recall I was trying to modify this to wear it as a maternity top and never managed to finish it.  I still love the original pattern and would like to make one.  A sleeveless top is not exactly the most practical thing at this time of year, even in Northern California, but it's a very basic top pattern consisting of two pattern pieces and no closures, making a good top to start out with when learning to make a full-bust adjustment.  And, I can still wear it this time of year with a cardigan.  Also, everyone and their dog has made this pattern so there is a lot of inspiration and information out there.  There are several ways to add embellishments or modify the pattern, including adding a short sleeve.

There are several other shirt patterns I'm looking at, too, but I think I'll concentrate on making a couple versions of Sorbetto for now and see how it goes.  I'm setting the goal of having the pattern traced, cut out, and full-bust-adjusted by this time next week.  That seems reasonable even with a little baby in the house, right?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 Goals

It's ridiculously optimistic to talk about sewing and knitting plans when there's a 9 week old baby in the house.  And yet, if I don't start dreaming and planning, I'll never make anything at all.  Still, it's probably better for me to think more about overall goals rather than sit down and make a list of patterns I want to knit and sew.  So, here are my sewing and knitting goals for the year, in no particular order.

  • Get Christmas gifts done by October
  • Limit Christmas knitting to my mom, MIL, husband, and daughter
  • Knit something for myself besides dishcloths!
  • Use yarn from my stash
  • Sew practical items
  • Make well-fitting clothes
  • Improve finishing details on clothes
  • Use fabric from my stash
  • Sew with patterns I already have (and have never made) rather than constantly buying new ones!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2011 Christmas Present for Mom

I tried very hard to get my mom's socks done in time for Christmas but I didn't quite make it.  So, I wrapped up the finished sock plus the half-finished sock with the needles still in it and promised to finish the second sock before Christmas 2012.  Feb. 2012 is pretty good, I think, and since she lives in Iowa, she'll still get plenty of wear out of these this winter.

Pattern:  Serpentine Socks from Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy Johnson

Yarn:  Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash Kettle Dyed, color 1007

Notes:  The pattern called for sport weight yarn but I found that it knit up quite well in this worsted weight yarn.  Normally, I use fingering weight yarn for socks but I knew I would not have enough time to finish a pair of socks at that gauge.  They certainly knit up quickly!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Meet Cate

Born Dec. 5, 2011

Here she is, my little sweetheart!  She really loves her baths, as you can tell.  She's 9 weeks old, now, and we're just finally surfacing to the real world.  I've even gotten some knitting time in!