October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

From my sweet little lamb!

We've got more photos of Lincoln looking a little bit more enthusiastic, but iPhoto is being a butt right now and I can't actually get to them to share them.

I'll be back with more pics and a pattern review of McCalls 6181, which I used to stitch up the lamb costume, once technology is on my side again. In the meantime, Happy Halloween!

October 27, 2011

Easy maternity skirt refashion

I've had this skirt sitting in my "to be refashioned" pile forever. It was way too long and extra poufy, so a few months ago I decided to disassemble the skirt from the waistband. I took in about 12" of width (I'm telling you, seriously poufy!), added some pleats, and started to shorten it and reattach the waistband. For some reason I lost steam though, and it has sat pinned but unsewn for months. Once my belly started to grow and my wardrobe started to shrink, I decided it was time I did something with that thing after all. Using essentially the same technique that I did on this skirt the first time around, I made myself a comfy new addition to my maternity wardrobe for approximately zero dollars.

With the help of my serger, this was even easier and faster than last time. I folded some black 1x1 rib into a long tube and serged up the side, then folded the tube in half the other way and sandwiched it between the skirt and lining and serged again. And done. The only thing that would make it better is pockets. Still might go back and add some.

I saved the waistband so I can potentially go back after the baby comes and finish the original project I started. I'll add pleats to the front and back to take in the width instead of just gathering, but for the pregnancy belly, this is definitely the preferred method. Lots of room to grow and still be comfortable. Makes me want to take another peek in my closet and see if there's anything else with potential to be fixed up in the same way.

October 21, 2011

more fun with knits: copycat

I've been having some more fun sewing with knits, furthering my mission to create an entire maternity wardrobe for myself that feels like yoga pants and t-shirts but is more socially acceptable for public display.

This time, I turned to my closet again for inspiration. I pulled out a favorite top that I picked up at Nordstrom well over a year ago. It's soft and drapey and looks cute dressed up or down. I wear it all the time, and have been pleased that so far it's still roomy enough to accomodate my expansion project nicely. My original is black, and I decided to replicate it in the leftover brown knit from my reversible skirt project to make another basic staple for my wardrobe. Below you see the original on the left, and my copycat on the right.

I simply laid my existing shirt out on my cutting table to trace a pattern. I folded it in half lengthwise and traced once for the front and once for the back, adding a seam allowance as I went. There are five pintucks along each shoulder of the original and a row of 8 on the bottom, so I did some math (incorrectly) and added in some extra width to accomodate those. I realized my math error after I cut, so I improvised and only made three narrower tucks on each shoulder of my copycat, and six along the hemline. As a result, it's not quite as flowy as the original, but there's still plenty of room for me and my onboard occupant. See:

I also used the remaining bits of the striped fabric from the reverse side of my skirt to make another version. I didn't have enough width to accomodate the pintucks at all, so I just cut a basic outline of the shape and stitched it together. The result is a much less drapey and more casual tee, but I think with the stripes, the added fullness might have been weird anyway.

I think the waistband at the bottom is nice to give these basic tops a little something extra. It's not just a regular t-shirt, but it's just as comfy as one. And seriously, so quick and easy to put together. I could make a whole closet full of these, but I'll try to exercise a little restraint and try something new. And, like usual, there are a couple more pics in my flickr set if you're interested.

October 18, 2011


We visited Oxbow Farms in Duvall this weekend looking for a little bit of fall fun, and we found it! Oxbow is an organic farm with a wonderful u-pick pumpkin patch. Every pumpkin was perfect! No weird flat spots, no piles of rotten mush, just loads of beautiful, plump, bright orange pumpkins begging to be chosen.

Oxbow also has a "living playground" with magical winding gourd tunnels, the "sorghum spiral" corn maze, and lots of beautiful areas to explore and get up close and personal with your veggies. It's really an amazing place.

Add lunch at the Grange Cafe, and what you have is a perfect fall day. I highly recommend a trip to Duvall to visit Oxbow Farms and Grange Cafe to anyone in the area.

October 13, 2011

How cute are these?!?

I'm on a bit of a mission to get Lincoln potty trained by February when Thing 2 arrives. Although we're certainly not stressing it or pushing things, we are gradually introducing Lincoln to all the equipment that is necessary for this change. We've had a potty upstairs in the bathroom forever, and he's familiar with the concept of using it, although he hasn't actually gone in it in months. When he was younger (and less bullheaded) he actually liked to sit on it and would occasionally potty in it before bath time. Lately, it's a battle of wills to even get him to sit down on it without a diaper on, but every once in a while he surprises us. We're in no rush, but it would be so nice to be done with his diapers by the time it's time to start all over again.

Anyway, obviously there's more to potty training than a potty, and that's where these little cuties come in:

They're the Little Fishies Undies by Fishsticks Designs, and they're just about the sweetest little things you've ever seen, aren't they?

I serged them up quick with some cotton interlock that I picked up at JoAnn, and modified them by following the included instructions to make them into soakers. I made a size 2 for my tall and slender two year old, and I think they're a pretty good fit. The pattern calls for 1" non-roll elastic, but the stuff I had was really stiff so I used regular 3/4" knit elastic and slimmed down the waistband casing accordingly. I think they're easier for Lincoln to operate himself that way.

As far as soakability goes, they're still just basically cotton underoos with an extra layer. They don't do much anything to hold up against a pee when it's let loose. (As evidenced by the puddle Lincoln was standing in a short time after this photo was taken.) I think if I make up another batch, I'll try Bonnie's suggestion to add a layer of stretch terry inside instead of just doubling the interlock.

Love the pattern though, and it was really easy to put together. I can see many more pairs of these being made once underwear are a staple in this house for the littles. Lincoln loved picking out the firetruck fabric, and was really excited that Mama was making him underwear. But he was also completely shocked to find himself all wet when he peed in them, as though he had NO IDEA where the liquid came from. He's clearly not super tuned in to the activity down there right now. Any suggestions for getting things to click? I know when he's ready it's going to be easier, but I figure if we lay some groundwork now, it will be a smoother transition...

October 10, 2011

fun with knits: 2 skirts in one

One of my favorite knit items in my closet is a skirt that I found at a consignment store when I was pregnant with Lincoln. It's a perfect maternity skirt because it has a nice wide waistband (kind of like a belly band) that you can fold down or wear up over your belly when you need a little more coverage. The one I bought is a black knit with a bright pink paisley pattern, and it has a little flouncy ruffle at the bottom. Best part is, it's reversible! You can wear the printed side out, or flip it so that the black lining side is out and fold down the printed waistband. Love, love, love it. And it even made a great skirt for my non-maternity days. It's super versatile.

Naturally, I decided to see if I could make something similar from some knit remnants that I picked up at the Pacific Fabrics Outlet for cheap. And check it out- I ended up with two very different skirts in one:

I found this cute tonal pink stripe knit underneath the remnants table for $5.99/yd. Sometimes it pays to dig around a little bit in a place like that! It's a stiffer knit, kind of like a heavy t-shirt material. I cut this side on the bias and gave it a slight a-line shape. I also hemmed this side 1/4" shorter than the other, so that the brown side would just peek out and give kind of a slip appearance. Cute, eh?

For the reverse, I used a slinkier chocolate brown knit that was only $4.99/yd. I cut this skirt straight, so it's more figure-hugging shape than the other side. And since I used the same pink knit for the waistband on both sides, you get a fun contrast waistband when you fold it down this way.

Construction wise, it really doesn't get much easier. It's essentially just a four rectangles stitched up the sides, then sandwiched with the wide waistband in the middle. Comfy, cheap, and quick and easy to make. Of course my serger and a twin-needle help make things look nice and professional, but it would have been easy to do even without those things. I love projects like that!

October 7, 2011

it's a baby!

Yesterday was the big day! Like a good little patient, I consumed a giganto jug of water in the hour preceding my appointment, and spent all my time in the waiting room praying that I wouldn't sneeze. Fortunately, the tech is very good at what she does, and she got the shots that she needed with a full bladder taken care of super quickly. I was released to the restroom after just about five minutes, and was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the show.

Everything seems to be coming along quite nicely:

With our friendly ultrasound tech as our tour guide, we were shown all the essentials- two arms, two legs, the head, and the tiny heart beating away. What we didn't see, however, was something that was quite distinct and obvious the first time around at Lincoln's first photo shoot. Nope, this baby definitely doesn't have the same thing happening below the waist:

Look, Mama: no boy parts!

But, if ultrasound images are to be relied upon as a good indicator, she's otherwise going to look exactly like Lincoln. I love that we ended up with an image of each of them that is so much the same. What a sweet little momento! Can't wait to meet you, Thing2! Or maybe we should start calling you something more feminine, like BabyGirlJames. It has a nice ring, no?

October 5, 2011

she did it again!

The lovely and talented Jen of Sew Fun has talent for days! I've already gone on and on (and on) about the Grab & Go Diaper Clutch, which is fantastic and in my opinion a must-have for all parents, and now there's something new to rave about! It's the Special Occasion Gift Tote, and it's going to be my new go-to present wrapping secret. Check it out:

I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for this adorable bucket, so you're looking at one of the first ever gift totes right there. Welcome to history! We're making it together here, peeps.

Look at this cute one that Jen made with little rubber duckies! These are just perfect for a baby shower gift, and with that specially designed pocket for a gift card, you get a lot of bang for your gift buck.

And check out the inside, with six perfect little slots for tucking your gifts and keeping things neat (just the way I like them). You can fill it up with bottles of baby shampoo, onesies and swaddling blankets, lotions, wipes- all the necessities. Then stick a cute fuzzy bear in the center for baby to slobber on, a gift card in the pocket for that inevitable day when mom runs out of diapers, and you've got a perfect gift and a reusable bucket too.

Of course, when I made this prototype up for Jen, all of our tubes of butt cream and baby wash were half-squeezed and grimy, and Lincoln was napping in his room where the onesies and swaddling blankets were. I just stuffed mine up full of spare toiletries to take the photos, which made me realize that this could make a really cute gift for someone heading off to college too. Or maybe a sweet housewarming present stuffed with cleaning supplies and a beautiful feather duster in the center? What? Yes! They actually can be beautiful. Just look at this one! Or this one! Ooh lah lah!

I haven't been to any showers or given any gifts lately, so the tote I made is currently living on the changing table where it holds all the little tubes and bottles that didn't have a good home before. I might have purposefully made it in colors to match Lincoln's room because I selfishly planned to keep it all along, or it could have just been a happy coincidence. I'll never tell.

The Special Occasion Gift Tote pattern is available as an instant-download PDF so you can buy it now and sew it now. Perfect for impatient seamstresses like myself! Check out more pics on flickr too to see all the details that this baby has to offer. I'm just saying- you show up at a baby shower with this tote stuffed with goodies, you're going to be one popular guest! Might even get an extra cupcake.

October 4, 2011

pattern review: Butterick 5495- maternity style!

Inspired by all the fabulous sewing blogs that I've been reading lately, I have a mad desire to stitch myself up a whole new wardrobe. Unfortunately, I haven't the time, resources, or the body to do so right now. After all, it doesn't really make much sense to spend what valuable time and money I do have sewing for maternity me, especially since I'm just in the beginning phases of my expansion.

But, of course, I picked up a few Butterick patterns during the last 99 cent JoAnn sale anyway. One of the styles is 5495, a nice easy knit top that I would absolutely wear normally, and I figured with all the gathering happening in the midriff it would probably work for me right now too. Bonus: it takes just one yard to make the cap-sleeve version (pictured in red below), so I picked up a soft rayon/spandex blend in a nice leafy green with a 40% off coupon too. Total cost for pattern and fabric = less than $8.

This is the first Butterick pattern I've sewn, so I wasn't sure if there would be as much ease as some others that I've worked with. I frequently choose to sew down a size from what the pattern measurements suggest, otherwise I'm swimming. For the first attempt, I figured I would cut what was recommended given my (now fuller) bust measurement, knowing that even if it was a bit big I could always take it in or just wait and grow into it.

Fortunately, I guessed right this time. I couldn't have gotten away with any smaller right now, and I actually had to lengthen the middle strap that cinches up the gathers in order to give my belly some breathing room. With the longer strap it's just right for now, and I figure a few months postpartum I can always cinch it back up to snug the fit back up again.

Sidenote: Lincoln is obsessed with buttons of every variety. When he saw me pushing the button on the camera remote he HAD to get in on the action, sans pants as per usual. He was carrying around the shopping bag in the background and dropped it behind me first. I didn't notice the new photo prop until I was editing the pics...

I haven't sewn much with knits for myself, and I think this may have been the perfect time to start. Of course I wear them all the time, but until recently it never occurred to me that it's probably actually easier to sew knit projects than woven in some respects. Fitting is certainly easier, especially for a transitional time like pregnancy. And I'm pretty sure you can't beat clothes that feel like pj's! This top is definitely one I will make again. I think red next time, and perhaps the 3/4 sleeve. Or maybe a print if I can find one.

Find the pattern review here on patternreview.com if you're interested.

October 2, 2011


So since it turns out that twice as many kids means twice as much crap to store, it became obvious right away that we were going to have to make some changes to Lincoln's room if we were going to fit a whole extra kid and all the accoutrements in there in a few months.

The first problem was the cheap old Ikea dresser, which my handy hubby fitted with a custom changing table top before Lincoln arrived. It has been serving our needs just fine, but the problem is, with only three sagging paper-board drawers already stuffed to the gills with Lincoln's clothes, there's no room for baby stuff in there. I started scouring Craigslist for a six-drawer dresser to replace it, hoping to find something old and sturdy to refinish instead of heading to Ikea to buy yet another piece of disposable furniture.

As usual, Craigslist delivered, and we found a nice solid mid-century piece for just $20.

The finish is hideous, and it's far from being in perfect condition, but it's for a kid's room, so I was happy to bring it home and knew that a bit of TLC would make a world of difference. I sanded, I puttied, I stained, I poly-ed, and it's a whole new dresser now, filled with Lincoln's clothes on one side and ready to be stuffed with tiny little outfits for Thing 2 on the other.

I love the legs, which give it a nice airy feeling, and the classic lines. And the metal detailing really pops against the new dark color. We chose a rich stain called Red Mahogany by Minwax. It's the perfect match for the big-boy bed that is supposedly "on the way" (still! Six weeks later! Mor furniture is so on my list...).

I used some of my Midori paper to line the drawers, affixing it with spray adhesive. I didn't have more than two or three of any one paper, so I just used a different one in each drawer for a random little twist. Between the fresh stain and the lined drawers, it really feels like a brand new dresser, not one that's been hanging around for 50 or so years.

And since we lost the changing station when we ditched the other dresser, we just attached the changing pad to the top of this one. The height is perfect, and the pad has little straps to secure it to the top, so it's safe even without the fancy top piece that David made for the other one.

I'm looking forward to sharing more photos of the room as things change, but the damn bed has to arrive in order for anything else to happen. Stay tuned! Hopefully before February we'll be settled in and Lincoln will be happily sleeping the night away in his new room.

A few more pics of the process here on flickr if you're interested.