Sunday, October 6, 2019

School Picture Day Sewing: 2019 Cat Edition (Part 1)

Why hello there, my dear, neglected blog readers! It has been a while! I will not bore you with excuses, you've been following me on Instagram, you know that all is well in my world.

One reason I haven't blogged: I haven't been using my beautiful nice camera! I have been taking photos solely with my iPhone, which is fun and easy, but then I do end up missing having some decent frameable photos of my kids. Especially because they refuse to smile for other people. So I broke out the nice camera, and then I thought, oooh, I should blog this make! So that's how that happened. Plus, even for someone who basically writes for a living, it's fun to write something that isn't about work. I had forgotten how fun. That said, it has been so long, I had relearn everything! Where does my camera automatically upload to again? How do I insert a link? Ugh!! It's all slowly coming back to me now ...

Okeedoke! It is now October 2019, and my kids are 1.5 years older than the last time I posted. Joe is ten years old, has lost his baby chub, has grown-up teeth, and bruises on his skinny knees and elbows. He is in fourth grade and doing fantastically. He is a strong reader, natural mathematician, and a great student (remember when he was three and barely speaking?). He has lost much of his shyness - he's still definitely a reserved person and an introvert, but he is comfortable and easy with all sorts of people. Basically, he is really growing up! He is, as ever, the apple of my eye.

But one thing hasn't changed: My kids are even more obsessed with cats than before. It started as Maggie's obsession, which has turned out to be one of those true, deep passions (not a passing phase!). She loves all things cat cat cat cat cat cat cat cat. It's really next level now. She and Joe speak cat much of the time, meowing and growling is a form of communication in our household. Joe is not as single-mindedly obsessed with kitties, but when it came time to choose fabric for his annual school picture day button-down shirt at Stonemountain, he chose this amazing Art Gallery "Fierce Felines" fabric. This is a very fine quilting cotton, with a smooth and densely woven hand, more like a shirting fabric than a standard quilting cotton. Highly recommend for this type of application. It is a pleasure to sew with.

Of course, this is the Buttoned-up Button-down Shirt by Oliver + S. A killer pattern, which I have now made three times. (The first version is here. The second version is here.) I would make it more often, but another thing hasn't changed: Joe still loves his comfort, and he doesn't really enjoy dressing up. Don't let these sweet photos fool you; he took his shirt off as soon as I said he could and hung out in the undershirt for the rest of the day. He's a good sport, but this is not his preferred mode of dressing. (Sadly for me!)

Knowing this, I sized up a bit for this shirt. Joe is a small 10 year old (he is smaller than many of his classmates even though we held him back a year and he's older than his peers). Previous versions of this shirt were size 6; this one is size 8. The shoulders are a bit broad and the sleeves a bit long but I figure that gives him a bit of room to grow and this will still fit for his one or two other nice-clothes wearing occasions next year.

I sewed this almost solely on my old 1920s Singer 99, which I rescued from a dumpster in Vallejo in 2014. You can see a video I made of the buttonholer attachment working here. It had been stored away for all of 2019 and I pulled it out to make jeans (should I blog the jeans I made?) because I knew it would handle the topstitching thread better than my regular machine. That was so fun I left it out and used it to make this shirt, with the exception of serging the side seams. And now I'm working on another project - part 2 of School Picture Day Sewing, 2019 Cat Edition.

At the end of sewing this shirt, I had a bit of a dilemma, because it was impossible to find a basic shirt style button that matched this fabric. I posted on Instagram: Navy or white? And the responses were basically split right down the middle, which was amazingly unhelpful! Lest I conclude that either would look great, some folks felt quite strongly about it, as well! One person said, "navy would make me buy this shirt," with the implication being that they would just pass right by white with a disgusted look? I only slightly wondered if we would be able to remain friends if I sewed white buttons on this shirt!  No pressure, though! Ha!

The whole thing left me more indecisive than ever! Luckily, Joe is a Taurus and therefore much more decisive and less people-pleasing than his Libra/enneagram 9/INFP mother.  He chose white. I sewed them on with blue thread, and I think they look great.

I am hoping that the navy button folks will remain my friends despite this choice ... I am trying to put all the blame on Joe rather than having to displease half of my Instagram friends after the great shirt button controversy of 2019...

But here's something we can all agree on: Joe is a bonny lad and his mother loves him so.

I'm working on Maggie's school picture outfit now. You will not be surprised to learn that there are cats involved.

Who knows? Maybe I'll get back into this blogging thing? Only time can tell ...


  1. Thank you for blogging! So happy to see you back in my feed reader.

    1. Please blog your jeans!
    2. The white buttons look great. In fact I will take the controversial “either would look great” position, but he made an excellent choice.
    3. I just bought the Buttoned Up shirt pattern a few hours before reading this. Now I am looking forward to it even more! Going to see what scraps I could eke a 3T out of.

    1. Ana, thank you!! It's good to be back! You will really enjoy this sew. It's not a super fast make, but it's very satisfying and the instructions are fantastic (as always with O+S). It will be soooooo adorable in 3T!

  2. I'm so happy to see you back! Joe chose right in my opinion - the buttons are perfect. Also, my old machine that lost its on switch (which would have cost more to replace than to buy a decent new machine) had a buttonhole attachment too and I miss it a lot. And yes, please blog your jeans! With lots of photos. From your phone if you like, I don't care. I just like blog posts about makes so much more than IG posts about them!!

    1. I guess you probably don't need to start a collection of vintage machines given that you're constantly traveling the world, huh? My Singer 99 is so much fun, and so quiet and sturdy.

      I still love to read blogs so I totally know what you mean! I don't know why I just fell out of it - let's see if I can pick it up?

  3. I'm so excited! A new post! That shirt is so lovely and the perfect complement to Joe's blue, blue eyes. He looks so sweet (I love the kissy picture) and I loved reading about how well he is doing. It's true that his button intuition is right on point.

    1. Hello there! I can't believe how old your kids are now! What happened to our babies?

      Joe is still quite the engineer. He's working on designing his own web page these days. It's pretty fun! This is a great age. :D

  4. Hi Handsome Joe, what a beautiful smile.
    I wonder is you made him a shirt in t-shirt fabric? Would that feel better?
    xx N

    1. I made him a Parachute polo once, but the issue seems to be the woven collar on that pattern. I haven't tried it with a knit collar, but it's definitely a thought!


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