Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Getting down to the wire

Well, I got the t-shirt cut out last night, so I'm sewing it tonight.  I confess to doing a few things that I would normally consider rather shoddy practice in order to have it done in time.  First, I didn't pre-wash the fabric.  I realize that I run the risk that it will shrink in the wash but, really, at this point I don't much care if she is able to wear it past Halloween.  Second, there are a few things I would probably rip out and do over if I wasn't on a deadline.  There are a couple of little unintentional tucks in the tops of the sleeves which I would normally try to eliminate by ripping out that small area and redoing the stitching there.  I did some top-stitching around the collar to help hold down the seam allowance on the neck band and it is quite visibly uneven in one particular spot (because I used black thread all the way around the neck, even on the white fabric of the front).  I haven't finished the side seams or done the hem yet, but I will also likely not be too fussed if they turn out less than A quality work.

So, here's an update on the costume:

  • Collar:  Not started
  • Tail: needs to be sewn to an elastic band
  • Shirt:  needs side seams and hem sewn
  • Ears:  complete
  • Leggings:  purchased
  • Make up:  need to buy black eyeliner to draw a few whiskers and give her a little black nose
I guess I had better get back to work!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Best laid plans and all that

Old Plan

Saturday evening, armed with my shopping list and a coupon, I ventured over to Joann's to purchase the things I needed for Cate's costume.

I should have stayed home.

Apparently, on top of not being the only person who suddenly realized Halloween was less than a week away, there was a one day sale going on.  The place looked like some sort of bomb went off.  Fabric bolts were strewn everywhere--on top of other bolts, in random aisles, and even on the floor.  The pile of bolts behind the cutting countered looked as if no one had been reshelving fabric the entire day.  The line to the cutting counter was long, there was a good 15 to 20 minutes between when you took a number and when they called your number.  Check-out was also a lengthy process.  Pro-managerial tip:  if you have a sale the weekend before one of the busiest sewing holidays of the year, try to have more than three employees working.  The same person who cut my fabric also rang up my purchases at the front.  I think she was moving back and forth between the two as each line started to get out of control.

Artist's rendition of my face after
shopping at Joann's on Saturday.
Several items I went there to buy were not available.  First, the McCall's pattern I wanted to use to make the black and white t-shirt was not there.  Possibly not surprising since McCall's patterns were on sale for 99¢.  Second, I couldn't find any simple black interlock or jersey fabric.  There was black performance knits and dancewear knits and special occasion knits with glitter, but no plain old block cotton for making a simple t-shirt and leggings.  Fortunately, the one mission-critical item I needed--fuzzy black trim for making the kitty tail--was in stock.  I was also able to get white interlock fabric and silver ribbon to make her collar.

I ventured back on Monday, armed with a second coupon, and fortunately found a bolt of black cotton interlock.  I spent a good deal of time locating two different patterns that I would be okay buying (since the McCall's pattern was still out) which was fortunate since only one of them was available (a Burda pattern, the number was in the 9800s and the store didn't have any Burda patterns past 9550).  When I and another frustrated shopper asked about the missing patterns (she was also in a situation where the pattern numbers didn't reach as high as the pattern she wanted to get), an employee pointed us to a cart piled high with boxes of patterns and said we were welcomed to look through them.

New Plan

Halloween is now in two days and I have the following done:  the tail.  I worked on ears last night but was having difficulty with the crazy fuzzy trim and, in any case, my prototype ear is far too large for Cate (she would look more like a rabbit).

  • Tonight:  Make the ears the ears, and, if there's time, I will cut out the t-shirt pattern (oddly enough, one isn't able to just stop making supper and taking care of a two year old in order to make said two year old's Halloween costume).  
  • Wed.:  Sew up the t-shirt if I was able to cut it out the night before.  Buy:  1 pair of black leggings, and, a black t-shirt if no time to make the t-shirt from scratch. (I'll sew a large oval of the white knit fabric onto the front of the t-shirt so she can still be a black and white cat.  Or, maybe glue it on if I'm really pressed for time!)
  • Thurs.:  Halloween!  Take a billion pictures, trick or treat at a couple houses, go to the party the apt. complex is having, and then collapse on the bed.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween is less than a week away!

I just realized that Halloween is just around the corner and I have yet to start Cate's costume!  Nothing I've planned is difficult to make, but I have so little time for sewing on a day to day basis.  Here's my plan of action:

Today (Sat.):  Go to Joann's, buy materials and craft supplies and get the fabric washed.

Sunday:  Make the tail and ears.  These are the most critical parts and I can't buy the kind of tail I want.  I'm using this tutorial to make the tail and the ears (the tutu is adorable, but it doesn't exactly go with the theme of being our tuxedo kitty).

Monday:  Trace t-shirt and leggings patterns and cut out fabric.  I'll be using the plain t-shirt (no peplum) and leggings from McCalls M6780.

Tuesday:  Sew up the t-shirt, check fit.

Wednesday:  Sew up leggings, check fit.

Thursday:  Halloween!

[Edit:  I originally wrote that Friday was Halloween, but after posting, I was talking to my DH and realized that Thursday is Halloween!  It's even sooner than I thought!]

Monday, October 21, 2013

Next Project!

It's getting to be that time.  A time that strikes fear in the heart of every new parent causing them to lay awake at night wondering how they will get through it.  A time of joy and tears, a time of wonderful success followed by heartbreaking set-backs followed by cautious optimism.  A time of fantastic highs leading to cheering and dancing and rejoicing and terrifying lows leading to sobbing and moments of quiet desperation when you consider that maybe, just maybe, you are the one parent who will fail.

Yes, I'm talking about potty training.

There is an overwhelming amount of advice in the forms of books, articles, blog posts, and the sage advice of the people you meet on the street or in the store as you purchase training pants or well-meaning friends and family.  There are theories, techniques, studies, and opinions.  Helpfully, they all contradict each other.

And the potties, Good Lord, the potties!  They range from a simple piece of molded plastic to having lids, deodorizers, and a spot for putting a box of super special toilet paper/flushable wipes made just for the whole potty training experience.

One thing that does seem clear is that Cate will need some sort of training pants.  Having used cloth diapers (and some disposable compostable diapers), we are reluctant to go out and buy a box of BigBrand Pull-ups.  Therefore, we are looking at cloth training pants.  I hate those plastic pants that have traditionally been put over training pants, so I'm looking at some alternatives.  One of those alternatives are these modified training pants.  Instead of using a plastic cover, this mom sewed a panel of PUL fabric onto the outside of the store-bought training pants.  PUL is a waterproof fabric often used to make cloth diaper covers.  In theory, I could just use one of the PUL cloth diaper covers I already have to cover the training pants, but the ones I have are designed like a diaper, that is to say it is flat and you bring the front up and the sides around and that's held in place by velcro (I have these in various shades).  However, I would like something that Cate can put on and take off herself.  Wool diaper covers (like the one that I have that is almost finished, and she probably will wear that one) would also work, but she's grown out of the ones I have made and borrowed and I'm not sure I want/have time to make a bunch more in her size.

Fortunately, Joann's sells PUL so I just need to make a trip over there and buy a half yard of it or so and get busy with the sewing machine.  I may make a couple of PUL pants that would entirely cover the training pants, too, to use until she starts to get the hang of things because I'm thinking that the PUL panel is not going to be sufficient in the event of a big accident.

I'm not sure when we're going to start on this little experiment.  We already have both a potty and seat that sits on the toilet that she can use and she likes to sit on both of these and has even peed while sitting on them a couple of times.  So, I suppose you could say we've already started, in a way, with a very gradual approach.  But, I think we need to start ramping up and we'll probably do that sometime soon.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What's on my sewing table (or would be, if I had time to sew)

Finding time to sew is challenging these days.  There's the whole toddler in the house thing and on top of that, I seem to have some difficulty keeping my sewing area clear of crap junk important things for which I have yet to find a suitable home.  I have also embarked on a quest to eat healthier and exercise more which is leading to some weight loss, and probably will continue to do so for awhile, thus making garment sewing for myself a little complicated (my measurements seem to be changing from week to week).  So, what's a sewist to do?

Sew Kid's Clothes
Cate's Halloween costume
inspiration. Perhaps the kitty
should dress up as Cate?
Cate has outgrown her Big Butt Baby Pants and will be needing some new pairs for the fall/winter.  Also, I've got some cute corduroy I've been dying to make into a dress for her since before she was born.  Then there's that pesky Halloween holiday coming up.  I think we're going to go simple this year and she will be a cat.  Our cat, to be specific.  He's a tuxedo kitty, so I want to make her a t-shirt that has black sleeves and a black back but a white front.  That, plus some black leggings, white socks and shoes, a tail, some ears and a silver collar (which is what our kitty wears), oh and some whiskers drawn on her face, should be sufficient.  Our cat is an indoor/outdoor kitty and very friendly with our neighbors in the apt. complex, so I think they will get a kick out of it.  I'll have to try to get a picture of the both of them together.

Sew Knits
Knits are famously forgiving and you can wear a slightly oversized t-shirt and not have it look really wrong.  So, I will be making a couple more Renfrews.  I also recently bought a Tiramisu dress pattern and then realized I probably should have bought a Red Velvet dress pattern since that's the sewalong that's coming up.  Hmmm...maybe I better go back to the Cake website.  The Tiramisu is assembled flat with the side seams sewed up at the very end.  That's great because I think it will make it easier to fine tune the fit and take it in as needed.  I also bought a pattern for the Espresso leggings.  I wear a lot of leggings and tights in the winter here.  It gets chilly here in the winter and the builders in this area don't know how to insulate properly so it also gets cold in the apt. because I refuse to turn the heat on during the day when it's 55 degrees outside (and, consequently, not much warmer inside).  So, leggings and tights are a must with skirts.

Sew a Wrap Skirt
I was thinking that a wrap skirt would be useful as I can tie it more tightly or loosely or whatever depending on my fluctuating waistline (hopefully my waistline will continue decreasing, but I do get bloated every now and again, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about).  I love the look of the Miette skirt by Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons and the Great British Sewing Bee fame.  The largest size is still slightly too small for my current waistline.  I'm trying to decide between just going ahead and making and wearing the largest size now on the basis that my waist size is only off by a couple of inches and there is plenty of coverage in the overlap in the back so it's okay if it overlaps a bit less (the side seams would be slightly off, but hopefully not for long).  Or, maybe I'll wait awhile and make it when I start to fall into the size range of the pattern.

Sew Craft Projects
I'm currently in a swap for handmade knitting needle/crochet hook holder/wrap/thing so I need to get busy making that.  I do have some time because it's not due until sometime in Nov. but if I get involved in the Red Velvet sewalong I don't want something else due at the same time as the sewalong and needing my attention.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

UnFinished Objects

Life has been pretty busy around here, but not necessarily in the knitting and sewing departments.  I don't think I've completed anything for several months, now!  I have a bunch of UFOs laying around, however.

UFO 1:  Cate's Easter Sweater

That's this past Easter, not Easter 2014.  It's a pretty little thing made using Rowan Calmer, a lovely cotton/acrylic blend that is sadly discontinued.  I missed my Easter deadline, but continued to work on it thinking it would be a nice summer sweater (light sweaters are a necessity in the SF Bay Area).  Unfortunately, Cate grew faster than I knit and I started to realize that, once complete, the sweater would not fit her.  :(  However, she has a cousin, Elena, who will be turning 1 at the end of Nov.  Elena lives in Atlanta, so a lightweight sweater would be perfect for her.  The knitting is done, I just need to block it, sew the side and arm seams, and add buttons.

UFO 2: My Turquoise Shrug

When I realized Cate's sweater wouldn't fit her, I put it down and started crocheting a shrug out of Rowan Calmer in a very pretty shade of turquoise (back when Calmer was discontinued, a local yarn store put their remaining stock on steep discount and I snatched up a bunch of it).  The shrug pattern I"m using is very simple; you crochet a large rectangle, fold it in half lengthwise, then sew a short seam on each end of the long open side.  This makes a nice, short-sleeved shrug.  I would like one that's around 3/4 sleeve, though, so I'm making a much longer rectangle.  After doing the seaming, I plan on picking up and knitting some ribbing around each opening to give it a bit more shaping.  I've been working on this one here and there, but crocheting hurts my wrist so I've had to take a break.

UFO 3:  Mom's 2012/2013 Christmas Socks

Every year, I make my mom socks for Christmas.  That is, every year except last year.  I started this pair of socks, but, between having a toddler and using my knitting time to make things for that toddler, I barely got them started.  I am using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Byrne (I think, I lost the ball band and the colorway doesn't look exactly the same on the website, but it's close) and the Spring Forward pattern from Knitty Summer 2008.  I now have the foot and part of the leg done on one of them.  Maybe they'll be done by Christmas this year, or maybe they will turn into 2012/2013/2014 Christmas Socks!

UFO 4:  Purple Woolies

I knit a wool diaper cover for Cate using Malabrigo yarn and the Sheepy Pants (Ravely link) pattern.  Before adding elastic to the waistband, I tried them on her and they were enormous and I was thinking I was going to actually have to cut off a large portion of the top so that the crotch wouldn't be hanging down to her knees, so I set them aside.  That was several months ago.  Now, they are still too big, but not as bad as before and I simply turned under about two inches at the top instead of the one inch that I originally intended.  I've almost finished sewing down the waistband after which I will add the elastic, sew the waistband closed, lanolinize them, and they will be good to go!

No sewing UFOs right now, sewing's a lot harder to accomplish since I can't take it with me to the park or doctor's appointments (though I've actually considered starting to sew garments by hand simply because it seems like it would be easier than trying to find time to clear off my desk and sit down at the machine!).