Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tiramisu Dress, coming right up!

A few months ago, I was thinking about making myself something for a change, so I started searching for a pattern for the perfect nursing dress. If you've nursed a baby (or a few), you know the dress - comfortable, forgiving to a post-baby figure, with easy access for the baby. 

Well, I didn't have much luck in my search, until I stumbled on a link to the "Tiramisu Dress" pattern from Cake on Mikhaela's blog, Polka Dot Overload. Mikhaela and her husband are doing all of the the pattern illustrations for this new pattern company.

Let's talk about how perfect this pattern is for a second, shall we? Soft knit dress, surplice neckline allowing for easy access for nursing, just enough waist definition to be flattering post baby, and a swishy a-line skirt. Also, WOW, does that say it goes up to a D-cup? (Never mind I'm a DD while nursing - this represents a pretty massive improvement over the average B-cup pattern for me.) And the size range goes from a 30"to a 50" bust. Now that is what I call a good size range - I love a pattern maker who tries to be inclusive of all different body shapes and sizes. Add the illustrations, which show a curvy woman of color (yay Mikheala!), and I'm super sold.

So I preordered the pattern, but alas, did not have my act together to participate in the awesome Tiramisu Sew-Along that happened shortly after I received it. Among other difficulties, I had not located the perfect fabric for the dress. In truth, I didn't actually go to the fabric store and look - I was just too busy. But I did follow along and ogle everyone else's Tiramisus, of course. The great thing about sewing a dress after the sew-along is that you have all of the information at your disposal right from the get-go, right? That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Last weekend, I took a little trip to the fabric store, ostensibly to pick up some fabric for a quilt square (I'm in a quilt circle, and I am chronically months behind schedule) and get some thread for my fancy new serger, which I have barely had time to experiment with since I got it last month.

Of course, I had to take a peek at the knits. I didn't have high expectations, because (a) it's really hard to find nice weighty, non-transparent knits that would be appropriate for a dress; and (b) I'm very, very picky about what patterns and colors I will wear. If I'm going to go to the trouble to make myself something to wear (and it is a lot more trouble to sew for my picky self than it is to sew for the kiddos), I want to really love the fabric I'm working with.

So when I spotted this paintbrushy gray/brown/pink (my colors!) rayon/cotton knit, and noted that it was soft and drapey, but not see-through, it was like oh my gosh, please just take my money! (And it was $10/yard, which is very reasonable for something I actually want to wear!)

I spent almost as much on cream and brown serger thread to complement this fabric as I did on the fabric.

So now I have to actually sit down and make the dress!

Will I use my serger to construct it? Good question! I still a newb at serging, so we'll see how it goes. My goal is to do as much of this dress as possible on my new serger, but if that plan totally goes to hell, I do have my trusty sewing machine with walking foot to fall back on.

Of course, there's the minor matter of finding any time, between kid-wrangling (with a suddenly mobile baby!) and cleaning and my usual weekend activities, to work on it. While I would love to sit down and bust this dress out in a day, it would probably be more realistic to think of this as a project that may take a couple weeks of plugging away for a short time each day (kind of like the sew-along, come to think of it). I'm hoping that blogging about it will motivate me to keep working on it, in order to entertain my readership with my sewing bloopers show off my new skills!

New fabric, new pattern (for picky me!), and new serger! It's a tall order, huh?

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Six Months!

Only 13 days late ... Maggie is six (and a half) months old now!

Six months!

Baby girl is chubby, goofy, toothy, and on the move!

Six months!

She isn't quite sitting up on her own yet, but she's working on it. She has also developed her own form of locomotion - she arches her back and scoots around like a freakish inchworm. Like this. It's pretty funny.

Back bend.

Yes, that's another pair of oliver + s Nature Walk pants I whipped up for this photo shoot. I decided to do a constrast waist on these. Once I saw them on, I got a sudden urge to make her a Wonder Woman pair, with blue and white stars on the bottom and a gold lamé waistband. Can't you just see it?

Like the Wonder Baby that she is, she also does push-ups and scoots around on her belly.

Nature walk pants.

Most (but not all) of her darker hair fell out, and soft, light brown hair is growing in. She has four teeth now - two on top and two on the bottom. Can you see her little top teeth? There's a little gap between them. Like a baby Lauren Hutton. It's pretty much the cutest thing you ever did see. But watch out! Those puppies are sharp! And if you're not paying attention, she will bite you.  With a smile on her face, of course.

Smile, with four teeth.

Those super adorable teeth are also the reason we don't sleep much anymore. Maggie is currently going through the "won't-sleep-except-with-a-boob-in-her-mouth" phase. It's very snuggly, but a bit tiring, as you can imagine. I keep telling myself that at least my early-teething babies get the whole teeth thing over with quickly. "Two-year-old molars" come in at 16 months in our family. So there's that to look forward to, right? Yawn.

We are just starting to try some baby-led solids now. So far, Maggie loves lardy refried beans and hates strained peas. (She's no fool.)

Last time she was weighed, Maggie was just shy of 17 pounds and 26 inches long. That puts her solidly in the 60th percentile. So she's a lot smaller than Joe was at this age, which is great! Our arms are so grateful! Especially since we have to carry her around most of the day, because hanging out on the floor with her toys is boring. Obviously.

Love ya, Sweet Cheeks Maggie Magoo.

Six months!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New toy!

Look what mama got for Christmas!

New toy!

It's an overlocker! (Yes, it's pretty much the cheapest one on the market. But it gets good reviews. Like everyone else, Santa is on a tight budget these days.) I am so excited to get this going! I have done pretty well without one, but it was time to step my game up a bit. I will be able to sew knits with more ease now, and the clothes I make will be so much better finished on the inside.

Here's what my new set-up looks like. Not a lot of elbow room, but I think I can make it work. (Of course, what you can't see here is the pile of crap I moved off of my table and have no home for. It's currently getting shuffled from chair seat to ironing board and back while I try to learn how to run my new toy.)

New set up!

Now that I've (sort of) cleared a space for it, I need to figure out how it works. Like all sergers, this thing is a beast to thread. If you don't do it exactly right, and in the right order, it just doesn't work.

So I opened the owners' manual, hoping to find a helpful threading guide. Instead, I was accosted by some wildly inappropriate quotation marks.

Inappropriate use of quotations.

Now, I'm hardly a model of perfect grammar and syntax (snort), but when I saw this, all I could think of was Dr. Evil and his air quotes. Or Joey and his "apology" on Friends.
Inappropriate use of quotations.

Do you mean "household use"? Super distracting. Super, super distracting. I try to read it, but seriously, I can't get the image of Dr. Evil out of my head long enough to learn anything.

And the whole manual is like this. With inappropriate quotation marks in five different languages. And hardly any pictures.

Well, I'm nothing if not good at following instructions. The manual said "'Read all instructions before using.'" So that's exactly what I did. I (open air quote) read (closed air quote) the instructions. In other words, I tossed them aside in disgust.

The serger does come with an instructional DVD, however. Great! I'm a visual person, so that will be much better, right? Well, apparently it requires Microsoft Windows 95 to run? It won't run on my Mac. (What is this, 2002?)

All I can say is, thank goodness for YouTube instructional videos. I mean, seriously, what did we do before YouTube? The mind reels!

I'll admit that the internet has not improved my hypochondria; it has, however, vastly improved my sewing life.

End result: After rethreading this thing for the third time, it is actually stitching! Beyond that, I have no idea what I'm doing, but I am past the first hurdle. And luckily there are more YouTube videos to help me learn how to actually sew with this thing ... back to my studies!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, readers! My 2012 was ... how shall we say?... eventful. Packed with big changes and, hmmm ... adjustments. It was not all bad, of course. There were many wonderful additions (my beautiful Dragon baby Maggie!) as well as some more difficult challenges.  But it was not smooth sailing.

In other words, 2012 kicked my ass out of its nice comfortable rut. This was positive in many ways. It probably needed to happen. Change is good! But, oh, that rut was so, so comfortable, you guys.

Moving on. I have one New Year's Resolution: Relax! We'll see how that goes, what with the new job, new baby, etc.

Anyhoo. Major milestone here, folks: Maggie's first outfit from an oliver + s pattern. That's right, she finally fits their 6-12 month range (more or less), which means I can start sewing up an o + s storm for her. It has been really chilly in Oakland lately, so I started out with some soft, warm knits, making her a Hopscotch Top and Nature Walk Pants.

Maggie was super smiley for this photo shoot, except when I actually pointed the camera at her. So it goes.

Maggie's first O + s!

I've made quite a few pairs of Nature Walk pants now. It was actually the first pattern I ever tried with knits (and it was right around the time of the last "apocalypse" too)! It is such an easy pattern, a great place to start with knits, and I love the yoga pants styled waistband and slightly flared leg. I need this pattern in my size, I would practically live in these pants. These ones ended up a bit long for Maggie, but she's growing fast, so I didn't bother to shorten them.

This was my first time sewing the Hopscotch Top, however. I've had my eye on this pattern for years now, but when I had a little girl, I knew I had to have it. It's cute and a little feminine, but comfy and practical too. It went together quickly and smoothly. I initially cut it out as a dress, but opted to chop it down to a top. Dresses just aren't very practical for almost-six-month-olds who are just learning to scoot around the floor a bit. But I will definitely be making some dresses from this pattern in the future (also the skirt!).

Maggie's first O + s!

My only (mild) criticism of the pattern, at least in Maggie's size, is that the neckline is kind of plunging? Which is really pretty silly and adorable on such a small, chubby baby. But I would prefer the neckline to be a little higher, and next time I make it, I may redraft the front yoke pieces a bit and see whether I can't raise it a bit.

Maggie's first O + s!

Oops, I'm too distracted by how adorable that baby is to come up with a good conclusion to this post! Mmmmm. Cheeks!