Thursday, October 25, 2012

Waist-nipper Review

The thing about having a baby is that it changes your body in ways that you might not expect.  Two weeks after giving birth to Cate, I was at my pre-pregnancy weight but not my pre-pregnancy waistline.  I assumed that this was because I had a grapefruit-sized fibroid still in my uterus, but after having had that removed, my waistline actually didn't change (which is really odd when you think about it).  Having a baby seems to have given me a permanent pooch.

Everybody's body changes with time.  The effects of gravity on the bustline are fairly well-known, for instance.  And don't get me started on the dark spots on my face that seemed to have just shown up one day out of the blue.  And, I've gained 40 lbs since high school (most of it in grad school which tends to have that effect on people; the freshman fifteen has nothing on the grad school thirty).  But, I have to say I find the pooch the most disturbing change of all.  I think it's because it's not something that happened gradually over time and it is absolutely counter to my pre-pregnancy body type.

Everyone accumulates fat weight in different places but each individual person usually has a standard place added weight shows up on their body.  I have, ever since I was aware of the concept of putting on weight, put on weight in my thighs and butt.  Sure, it accumulates in other regions but always proportionately to everywhere else (except, of course, when it goes straight to my thighs).  I have always had what may politely be called athletic thighs even though I have never, ever been athletic.  But, I have never, ever had a stomach pooch until now.  Frankly, it's upsetting.  It just makes my body look wrong to me.  My body is now fundamentally a different shape than it was before.  In all my years, my body may have gotten bigger around, but the proportions have stayed the same.  Now it is off, weird.

As far as I can determine, the pooch is due to a loosening of muscles that occurs during pregnancy as a way to allow your belly to make room for your baby.  It is often worse in women with twins and triplets and, while I only had one baby, I also had a very large fibroid in there with her which may have contributed to this pooch business.

Lord this is getting long.  At any rate, it seems that the right set of exercises can help minimize the pooch, but what do I do until then? 

A lot of the sewing blogs that I read are written by people who like and often wear vintage (or repro-vintage) style.  And, of course, Mad Men has made certain vintage style more popular.  And, if you read about vintage style long enough, eventually you are going to read something about vintage foundation garments.  It seems that, in times past, if you didn't have the right body shape to fit in the fashions of the time, you buckled yourself into enough shapewear garments until you did.  Then, times progressed and we did away with restrictive foundation garments and that has come to be seen as a way of declaring our freedom of the restrictions of the past.  Now, we are infinitely more progressive and in order to fit into the fashions of the time, we shame people about their bodies so they will attempt to lose weight so that they will have the right body shape and in the process become neurotic, stressed, and unhealthy.

It may just be me, but I think shapewear was probably a kinder solution.

ANYWAY (will she ever come to the point? you wonder), in the 1950s, if you wanted to be fashionable, you needed to have a tiny waist.  If you were not blessed with a tiny waist, then you wore a waist-nipper or a waspie.

So, I decided to try one of these out and purchased a Flexees waist-nipper and wore it all day today.  My activities today included taking care of an infant, shopping at target, and a nap.  It was comfortable enough that I did all of those things while wearing it and never thought, "Dear God, how did women in the 50s do it?" (the thought that I might feel like I was being tortured all day was one of the reasons I had never tried a waist-nipper until now).  Most of the time, I forgot it was there.

Now, another reason I wanted to try the waist-nipper was that I have been having a problem with my lower back and I thought it might provide some extra support (I mean, a waist-nipper is really just a nicer-looking version of one of those supportive back belts, when you come to think of it).  I am happy to say that my back did feel better at the end of today than it has felt at the end of most days.

So, all in all, I think it was a good investment.  It was comfortable, helped with my back, and of course it contained the pooch (also, I think it may have helped keep might tights from falling down, always a good thing).  I'm not sure I want to wear one every single day, mind you (in the summer it would be far too hot to be wearing that sort of thing all the time), but it was comfortable enough and beneficial enough to my back to want to wear one most days during the fall and winter.  I'll just have to hope that the pooch is moderated by the time next summer rolls around!

(Edited to add:  Gertie of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing has talked about foundation garments in many of her posts.  This one is the one that really made me start thinking about how women have tried to achieve a desirable shape in the past vs the present. )

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

KCWC: Wrapping up

The Kids Clothes Week Challenge ended yesterday and I'm pretty pleased with what I managed to accomplish! 


1. Cate's Blue Pants
Cate's Photoshoot or Why It's Difficult to Get Good Pix of Handmade Baby Items
Image Copyright Elisabeth Montegna, All Rights Reserved

Pattern:  Big Butt Baby Pants by Made by Rae
Fabric:  Navy Blue Cotton Sateen (remnant from blue Meringue)
Notions:  1/2 inch non-roll elastic
Notes:  I cut a 12-18 mos size because Cate is nearly 11 mos and I want her to be able to wear these for awhile.  They were, not to put too fine a point on it, GINORMOUS.  Of course, eventually they would fit her (you know, maybe in March, or possibly June) but I wanted her to be able to wear them now.  There are no side seams, so I just pinched some fabric and sewed up each side, taking them in by 1.5 inches total.  Then, I folded the waistband over twice, thus removing an inch from the top, and made a very wide hem at the bottom, taking about 2 inches off of the length.  I measured her waist and sewed the waistband as directed (leaving a little extra elastic on the ends so I can let out the waist later).  However, the pants kept sliding down her butt, so I tightened them up this evening. I trimmed all of the seam allowances and zig-zagged the seam allowances together.

2.  I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie

Pattern:  Big Butt Baby Pants by Made by Rae
Fabric:  Stretch Denim (remnant from an ill-fated maternity skirt)
Notions:  1/2 inch non-roll elastic, single-fold bias tape
Notes:  I really liked how the first pair of BBB pants turned out, so I decided to make a second pair out of a denim remnant I had laying around (I love that I can use my remnants to make clothes for Cate!).  This time I cut a size 6-12 mos on all sides except the bottom hem which I cut at the 12-18 mos length so that I have plenty of fabric to let them out.  No pictures because I haven't finished them yet.  This time I'm finishing the seams with single-fold bias tape.

3.  Little Red Riding Hood Cape

Pattern:  Maisie Cape
Fabric:  Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy and Moda A Walk in the Woods/Bluebell Mushrooms; both purchased from Purl Soho
Notions:  Velcro
Notes:  This project is still in its infancy since I just got the fabric.  I need to figure out how I should go about getting the wrinkles out of the corduroy (I have this feeling I'm not supposed to just iron it) and there is a slight issue with the Bluebell Mushrooms lining fabric (see below).  I'm going to start cutting it out as soon as I finish BBBP #2, though, since Halloween is coming soon.


1.  Purple Cardigan

Pattern:  Anya Cardigan from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies
Yarn:  Knitpicks Comfy in Blackberry
Needles:  US sizes 3 and 5 circulars
Buttons:  Good question!
Notes:  I've been working on this cardigan for forever and a day it seems.  Fortunately, I like how it's turned out!  I still need to pick out buttons, however.  I'm having a bit of difficulty with that seemingly simple task.  I've got some vintage metal buttons with little flowers on them, but I'm not sure if I can wash them and I don't want to have to snip them off and reattach them every time I wash the cardigan (and, seeing as how it's for a baby, the cardigan will likely be washed frequently).  I've thought about somehow pinning them on, but I'm a little nervous about putting pins in Cate's clothes, even if they are safety pins.  Anyone have any ideas about how to get around this issue (aside from using different buttons which I have already thought of!)?  I also want to add grosgrain ribbon to the button bands to help stabilize them, but otherwise the cardigan is done.  I hope to get pix of it soon.

Lessons Learned

1.  Setting aside time to craft for an hour a day does my heart and soul good.  It also means my projects move along faster.  Not just because I'm actually setting aside time to work on them but also because committing to an hour of crafting everyday means I'm less likely to rush to get something done.  This results in fewer mistakes, less ripping out, and more forward progress.

2.  Don't order fabric at 3AM.  I meant to order 1.5 yards of the Bluebell Mushrooms fabric and instead ordered 0.5 yards.  I'm going to call around to local quilt shops to see if I can find more because I really don't want to pay shipping again!

3.  My baby is not as big as I think.  However, better to make something too big than too small!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

KCWC: Day 5--Actual Sewing!

I finally got a chance to sew!  I sewed up all of the seams on the BBBpants and made the waistband casing.  I want to measure my daughter before adding the elastic and hemming the pants and she is asleep so that is going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Now, onto finishing the sweater!

KCWC Days 3 and 4

Kaufman 21 wale corduroy
Day 3

Moda:  Bluebell Mushrooms
Things went pretty well after I posted last night.  My printer finally deigned to print the rest of the BBB Pants pattern and I got it taped together and I cut it out from scraps leftover from my Meringue skirt (I feel so terribly proud of using very nearly all of that fabric in these two projects--very little waste!).

Baby blues
I found  fabric for Cate's cape/Halloween costume at Purl Soho.  I ordered a beautiful fire engine red 21 wale corduroy for the cape and a sweet mushroom print on a blue background for the lining.  I love putting blue on Cate, it really makes her eyes stand out!  However, baby clothes have become so gendered that 1) it's hard to find anything blue that doesn't have a truck on it and 2) if I do, if she wears it in public people assume she's a boy.  Even if it's a blue dress.  With ruffles.  And lace.  It's gotten to the point that if she's not actually wearing pink, I put a bow in her hair before we go out in public.

Day 4
I didn't actually get any sewing time on Wed. for various reasons, but mostly because by the time I was able to sew my husband wanted to go to bed and my sewing machine and accoutrements are in the bedroom.  Instead, I worked on the sweater I've been knitting forever and a day.  I have finished the collar and woven in most of the ends.  All that remains is to sew the button bands (this sweater has a sort of odd construction which requires sewing on the button bands at the end; I'll be changing that if I ever knit this sweater again), weave in the last few ends and sew on buttons.  Excuse me, I have to choose buttons, then sew them on.  The choosing could take some time, unfortunately.

Goals for Day 5
  • Sew blue BBB pants
  • Assemble cape pattern and cut it out so it's ready when the corduroy arrives
  • Sew on the button bands, finish weaving in ends, and sew on buttons for sweater
  • Figure out what to make next!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

KCWC: An inauspicious beginning

As part of my KCWC, I went to Joanns to buy some red corduroy fabric for Cate's Little Red Halloween costume.  I was looking for plain old red.  You know.  The color red you'd get in a box of eight crayons.  They did not have regular ole red corduroy.  The best they had was a brick red.  You could purchase fuschia corduroy or sparkly purple corduroy, but plain old red corduroy was no where to be found.  I then wandered the aisles trying to become inspired by some other bright red fabric, but the only one I found that was remotely acceptable was a bright red wool.  It was beautiful, but I'm not going to go through the hassle of preshrinking wool for a cape my baby daughter will likely wear for one season.

I spent well over an hour at the fabric store trying to find acceptable fabric and I am counting that time for the challenge.  Then, I came home and fought with my computer to print the Big Butt Baby Pants pattern pieces for another half hour.  I'm not sure why my computer was refusing to print pages 14-16 and instead sending out sheets of blank paper.  I finally gave up and went to bed.

This evening, I went to the superbuzzy website to see if they had bright red corduroy and, if not, at least order the lining fabric and trim.  But the website is down for maintenance.  So, I have tried printing the BBBpants pattern again.  I suppose I should go see if the printer has decided to print them out tonight.  If you hear screams of rage and anguish from the SF Bay area, you'll know who they are coming from.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Kids Clothes Week Challenge

So, I've been wanting to make Cate some clothes for, oh, ever since I knew I was going to have a baby.  In my vision, half of the clothes Cate wore were cute little dresses and rompers and overalls that I made for her with handknit sweaters for every outfit.  The reality has been somewhat less than that.  I have managed to make two dresses, a sweater, a bonnet for her baptism, and some booties for her baptism.   Oh, and some newborn hats.

Me:  15 months
Me:  15 months
It turns out that making clothes for your baby is significantly hampered by, well, having a baby.  My mom made half my clothes when I was a baby/toddler and now I'm wondering exactly how the hell she did it.  I know she made a bunch while she was pregnant, but surely she wasn't able to make all of them prior to giving birth.

In any case, it's been on my List to make Cate clothes since she was the size of a grape, but so far I haven't done much in that vein until now.  I have signed up for the Kids Clothes Week Challenge at elsie marley. The challenge is to spend one hour a day from Oct. 8-14 working on making kid's clothes.

Me: at 2 yrs
Here's my queue for Cate:
  1. Red, hooded cape:  This year, Cate will be Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween.  This decision is pretty much purely practical.  It's simple, involves no makeup, and she can wear the cape after Halloween, too.  I'm envisioning a red corduroy with a sweet, fairytale lining and maybe cute trim.
  2. Purple sweater:  If I haven't finished the purple sweater I've been working on for the last several months by Oct. 8, I'll include it in this challenge.
  3. Big Butt Baby Pants:  I cloth diaper.  I'm not fanatical or militant or evangelical about it, but I do feel pretty good about not having all of the diapers Cate's worn for the last 10 months sitting in a landfill for all eternity.  The key is that it isn't much more difficult than disposable diapering because we have a diaper service.  If we didn't have a diaper service, we would be adding to the landfill.  In any case, a cloth diaper + cover is bulkier than a disposable diaper and so there is some difficulty getting pants to fit.  Generally, I manage by going one size up, but then the legs are far, far too long.  Made By Rae has a pattern that is specifically designed for cloth diapered babies called Big Butt Baby Pants.  I need to make several for her for the winter, but I'll settle for one pair made out of denim for now.
  4. Coat:  I'm actually not sure about this one.  She does need a heavy coat because we are visiting relatives in Boston mid-Nov.  Seeing as how we live in the Bay area, she's not likely to need it much after that.  I was looking for a coat with a removable lining because I thought that might be more useful, but haven't found one yet.  That might be a little more than what I want to take on, but I'm thinking about making some sort of cute, wool swing coat.  I know that I would like to tackle making myself a wool frock coat one of these years and this would allow me to work with the same sort of materials on a smaller scale without having to worry too much about fit issues (since children are pretty much rectangles with arms).
There's tons more stuff I'd love to make Cate, but I'm going to stick to those four things for now.  I think that's ambitious enough for one week!  I suspect I won't get the coat done (maybe not even started), but I'm really hoping to get the cape, the sweater, and a pair of pants done by the end of the week.