13 December 2014

Marlborough Woman

*Warning: this post will contain lots of discussion of b@@bs and my b@@bs in particular. You've been warned. 

So, as a young girl, there were a couple of things I wanted to be: tall and voluptuous. Fail on the first count and sort of on the second. (To add insult to injury, my little sister is both.) I developed early so I thought perhaps there was hope. Yes, I had bought in to all those VS ads and thought I should be practically falling out of my bra. However, it was not meant to be. I stopped growing at a respectable 34B. The "trouble" was that I was not thin so my rack was not particularly impressive. My good friend in high school wore the same bra size but was super skinny so she looked much more well-endowed. First lesson in the fact bra size does not determine your look.

I had a fairly hourglass figure back then so it was OK--I could wear a strapless top and still look perky. Then in grad school I gained a little more weight all over. Still an hourglass figure but the b@@bs were not even. I know that uneven cup sizes are pretty common but it makes finding a bra that fits difficult. I went on to wear a 36C for many years. I just had to be specific about type and brand. Who knew that my favorite would be a minimizer style? The stable woven helped support the weight and kept the slightly larger side completely covered so you couldn't see any difference even without a shirt.

Fast forward to pregnancy #1: I had a lot of rib spread. At one point I was wearing a 40B. After the first few months of breastfeeding everything went back to normal but, of course, breastfeeding b@@bs are a little, ahem, fuller. However, it is recommended that you not wear underwire when breastfeeding because of possible damage to the milk ducts. (Another reason to make sure you are wearing the correct size.) It is very annoying that at a time when you are most likely to have heavy weight and extra volume your "appropriate" options are little better than a light support sports bra. Let's just say there were some noticeable after-effects.

Until pregnancy #2 last year, I fluctuated from 38B to 36C depending on my weight. During the actual pregnancy, I was wearing a 38D I think. Breastfeeding this go around meant I was wearing a 36DD. So, my voluptuous dream was finally fulfilled but at what cost? At my age (cough, over forty, cough cough) and 2 rounds of breastfeeding... let's just say the girls could definitely use some TLC if I'm going to avoid having my b@@bs reach my navel in another 20 years. Based on my various styles and sizes, I had an idea of what constitutes the perfect bra but no idea where to start.

Then (cue angels singing) I found women who were sewing their own bras! I started reading Cloth Habit, VeryPurplePerson, and, of course, OrangeLingerie. I found Madalynne and took her bra making class at The Sewing Party. I liked that she made it seem so simple and straightforward but I felt like I needed some hand-holding through the first bra making adventure so I bought the Craftsy class, Sewing Bras: Construction and Fit with Beverly Johnson. This is exactly the kind of detail that I wanted. I bought the Craftsy kit from Sweet Cups Bra Supply (the US supplier since I'm stateside but the original Bra Makers Supply is located in Canada). The shiny milliskin is not exactly what I would pick for myself but I wanted to stay as close as possible to the class before getting too crazy. The kit arrived today so we'll see when I'll actually be able to get to it. I'm hoping sooner rather than later but we have plans for tomorrow (Sun.) and the work week is always hectic.

About a week after I had sketched out my dream bra Norma release her Marlborough bra. Seriously, it looked almost exactly like what I had sketched out so I knew I had to have it. I don't have anywhere near the skill to make this bra yet but when I do, I plan on making a ton. The makes from Kathy Sews and Fehr Trade only reinforce the fact that this pattern is awesome.

At first, I was a little awed by how much it would cost to get all the supplies but then I figured all these materials cost about the same as two good RTW bras. If I can master the pattern, I can buy source materials in greater quantities and just dye them different colors. Not to mention, I would be able to have matching panties for every bra! (I don't know about you, but I have a ton of bras in my drawer but always reach for the same 2 or 3 so its like only having 3 bras anyway. Panties to match? Ha, like the panties to go with those RTW bras are comfy. Now I'll have a drawer full of bras & panties I will actually wear. happy happy joy joy Its the little things in life, people.)

11 December 2014

Trying to find my sewing self

So, The Sewing Party was awesome. I really appreciate that I can go back and watch the different presentations for a full 90 days after the fact. There is hope that I can actually get one of the projects done in that time. Some of the things that I found more interesting were things that I had not even thought about "attending" beforehand.

I had high hopes that I could finish at least one thing before the actual event but I only got as far as cutting out the pieces for the Grainline Lakeside Pajamas in a cotton voile I got from Fabric Mart. Of course, once I cut them out, I realized that it is way too sheer. I will have to line them. I keep thinking I'll get to it but then I don't. I wanted some cotton batiste but the big box stores around here don't carry it. I should just order some but then there's the issue of paying for shipping which leads me down the rabbit hole of putting more fabric in my cart. Because if you can get free shipping with at least $50, guess who is going to wind up with $75 worth of stuff in her shopping cart?

I really liked the post by Did You Make That where she discusses how fabric buying offers its own creative fulfillment. When I moved for my husband's job, I didn't have a job and I maybe bought enough yarn to last me the rest of my natural life. For more prolific knitters, its probably not that bad but it is for me. I have plastic bins under my queen sized bed, the guest bed and then there are some bags with half-finished projects. Again, with the kids, I have very limited time to knit (or crochet) and quite honestly, its pretty hard to pick up and put down projects quickly.

I'm trying not to do same thing with fabric so that I have a stash and basically no projects to show for it. First, I don't have the room--now that I have two kids, all my closet space is taken. Second, I really want to make sewing something that I actively do rather than just fantasize about. Of course, I'm finding out that I usually forget all the notions that I need. With only one big box store in the area adn no other fabric stores, it limits what I can easily get. Also, since I'm not experienced at sewing or how different fabrics behave, I worry about buying the "right" things.

Anyone want to become my mentor and/or fabric buying guide? Because some of these websites have fabulous looking options but it is overwhelming.

17 October 2014

Old Skool Blogging

Back in ye olden days, circa 2008, when I started blogging, blogs were more like personal journals that you shared with cyberspace. These days there seems to be more focus, both in terms of writing (clearly, most people are not posting their first drafts) and in terms of the content shared (yay for all those picture tutorials). Also, I don't remember more than a handful of bloggers making money off of their blogs and now there are professional bloggers with sponsors. (Good for you! If I could pull it off, I totally would.)

I was reading how when you start blogging as a paying endeavor (full-time or not), you have to be more mindful of more than just what you want to write. Does your sponsor require that you make a project with one of their products? Or at least mention them regularly? Did you remember to disclose affiliated links? (As an aside, does anyone really care? I mean if I'm reading your blog and you link to something that I want to buy and you make some money off the transaction I don't see what the big deal is unless that item somehow costs me more because you are getting a commission. But I digress...) Do you feel pressured to post tutorials as soon as you figure out how to make something? (Again, total sidebar, I read one blogger who was concerned that this pressure has led to some bloggers posting tutorials for techniques that they barely know, thereby possibly leading others down the wrong path.)

I feel like I'm still stuck in the old skool paradigm but everything has shifted. Ironically enough, at work I'm considered the most tech-savvy. I like computers and I usually understand the logic of how everything works so when we get error messages I can figure out what's wrong. However, I never really got into social media (I'm talking about Friendster and the inital incarnations of MySpace and Facebook). Now there are so many outlets, the big ones being FB, Pinterest, Flickr (making a comeback), MySpace (also making a comeback by specializing a little more), Instagram, Google+ and SnapChat. I can't keep up with them all and I'm feeling a little lost in terms of which really fit my need to find an online community (since I haven't found one IRL) and in which I can realistically participate.

How cute from www.peachpops.com

Dude, I don't even know what some of those icons are for...

How do you decide which ones you want to participate in? How do you keep up when you have a job, kids, and never seem to have enough time for non-essentials? (Seriously, I have yet to figure out how to get more than 6 hours total of sleep and that doesn't include the days I just say f* it and stay up to do something just for me.)

11 October 2014

A List and A Prayer

I'm putting my plan out there to help me stay focused and actually finish some things. Knowing me, I'm giving myself lots of time to complete it.

So here is what I'm hoping to accomplish in the next year (in no particular order):

1. finish the 3 (oops make that 4) quilts I started and never finished
2. make the Marlborough bra
3. make the Lakeside Pajamas
4. make Vogue V1419, aka the Ralph Rucci coat

I have purchased the fabric for #2-4 and (in theory) have all the fabric for the quilts in #1.

Now this may seem rather random but there is a method to the madness. First, those quilts are actually all pretty far along except for the 4th. I've slowly been acquiring what I need to complete them so the real challenge will be finding the time since 2 really just need the quilting done. For me at least, quilting is not something I can do in short spurts. As for the rest of the sewing list, I'll get into more detail with project posts but I decided to go with things I want to make and wear rather than "easy" (or apparently logical). We'll see how that adventure turns out.

The first quilt on my radar is one I started years ago, Lover's Knot by Eleanor Burns. Seriously, I think it was 2007.  I started this for a friend's little girl who is not so little so anymore. I think it will just become a lap quilt for the house. Technically its still big enough for the girl in question but (1) I would feel compelled to have something equally awesome for child #2 and (2) I really like this one and don't really want to part with it.

I stalled out on this one because I never found a backing fabric that I felt went with the top. There are 2 fabrics that I purchased but neither really worked for me so it just fell to the wayside. Since then, I have discovered that you can just make a pieced back however you want. I know, it seems so obvious now in retrospect. Don't judge me. To give you some background, I had only taken a couple of quilting classes at this point and backing fabric was always something purchased separately to cover the entire back. It never occurred to me that I could create a pieced back. Cue the modern quilting that I have "discovered" and I went back and pieced the fabric that I had left from the original.

I think the back is a little smaller but I have a plan for how I'm going to make it work. I picked up some metallic pink quilting thread and all I need is to get the fabric adhesive spray to baste this together and then some straight line quilting. If I get this basted this weekend, I could, just maybe, actually get this done before the end of the month. I'll keep you posted.

I've seen lots of other lists making the rounds in the blogosphere--what do you have on your agenda? Do you make realistic plans or just go all out, sky's the limit type planning?

26 September 2014

Practice, practice, practice

Well, I finished another pillowcase for Pie. (Why yes, I was late to that as well.)

This was my first pillowcase:

Can you tell Pie picked the fabric? I tried to explain the concept of finding matching fabrics but all she cared about was that she liked them. Oh well. It actually doesn't look too bad after the fact.

Here's my seam:

Meh. Not great but I can live with it especially since Pie won't care.

Through the joys of technology and YouTube in particular, I followed along with the Missouri Star Quilt Company video to construct it.

Oh, yeah, she picked this fabric as well:

The seam matching is a little better:

Here's my French seam:

There is fabric for one more stellar (insert eye roll) pillowcase. However, since the dining room table doubles as the cutting table and sewing table, it is going to have to wait for another weekend.

Lessons learned: remember to engage the IDT (Pfaff's version of a walking foot)! Despite careful cutting, I wound up with more fabric along the top of the pillowcase for that first crucial seam so when I checked the it, some fabric wasn't even caught in the seam! Did I rip the seam? No, I was lazy and just put in another seam next to the first one, ensuring that all the fabric was tacked down. In the French seam, you can't tell since its enclosed. Yeah, I don't think I'll be a couture level seamstress any time soon. I like to be done and see the fruits of my labor ASAP. Plus, the time it took me to sew the second pillowcase was all the time I had before Bunny woke up from her nap. I'm also pretty slooowww at this point. My machine and I are getting to know each other on a different level.

I really want to find a place to set up my machine and cutting mat so that when I do have a little time, I don't have to spend it clearing the dining room table (because, yes, there is always stuff on it), wiping it down (no telling what sticky mess is actually still on the table), and setting up the mat to then remove it so I can set up the sewing machine. Sigh. I miss having my own room. However, since I have no desire to share our bedroom with the girls, I'll live with no craft room for now.

03 September 2014

Sewing Plunge

Well, I did it!

The Sewing Party

I registered for The Sewing Party. I am committing to making at least one garment between now and then. Surely, even with my penchant for procrastinating and super full schedule, I should be able to manage one basic piece. Maybe a Sorbetto?

I want to take all the classes. I'll have to somehow convince my hubby to watch the kids so I can take the classes and try some of the projects. Totally looking forward to Madalynn's class on bra-making. I am tired of trying to find a bra that fits. I wear one of those weird in-between band sizes and in-between cup sizes so finding a bra that actually fits is difficult and usually quite expensive. Plus, I have some design ideas that I need to see if they will work.

I'm thinking of this possible schedule: zippers at 1:30pm, mastering measurements at 3pm, and the skill-building class at 4:30pm. I'm not sure I'll have the stamina for more that day. But, joy of joys, the classes will be available for another 90 days! I'll be able to watch other classes and review the classes I do watch. I'll just have to make sure to carve out the time. 

Perhaps you too should join the party!

31 August 2014

My First Sewing Project

OK, I'm late to the party--not the first time--the sewing revival party that is. As I mentioned, I have 2 adorable daughters. Pie is tall and very verbal so people often think she is about 5 or 6 rather than 3.5 years old. So far, clothes are not a problem but in the next year or so when she starts wearing true kids clothes (no toddler clothes), styles look decidedly older. While its not too scary and inappropriate, I don't think I want people thinking my 4 year old looks like a tween. (Seriously, she's going to be tall and she already acts older than some kids I've met who are at least 3 years older than she is.) So, I was thinking I needed to learn to sew so I can make the kinds of things that I want her to wear and not be at the mercy of whatever the current fashion is.

As part of my recent discovery of modern quilting (how much do I wish I were this talented), I also discovered Anna Maria Horner designs. First, can I just say how much I want to be her? All that color and fabric and artistic talent. I realized the other day that as much as I love color, I have a very boring palette in my home. I love that in her daughter's interview, Juliana Horner talks about growing up with so much color and creativity. Anyway, I digress. All that to say, that through the Anna Maria Horner site, I came across her Piece of Cake pattern with accompanying YouTube video. With the joys of technology, I literally watched each step and then recreated it for Bunny.

Not too shabby for a first garment:

You can't see it but I'm very enamored of the turquoise bias tape I used to finish the neckline and sleeves. I made the 9 month size but it fits my little one like a tunic top. I'm considering making the 12 month size with long sleeves to see if it will fit her now in the fall. lol

Some take-aways from this project:
Must finish seams! The inside looks all crappy.  I bought pinking shears for the next time. I'm also trying to figure out my rolled hem foot to make up for the fact that I don't have a serger. I've also recently learned how to do a French seam, so that might be an option although I'm not feeling super comfortable varying from the instructions just yet. I also learned to use my blind hem foot, yea! I didn't do a very good job and in some places the thread does more than a little peak-a-boo action but now I know.

I definitely want to do the Paper Fan Dress for Pie. However, the video is a little more sparse--more like highlights rather than a step-by-step tutorial. I still feel like I need some hand-holding as I learn to sew so that pattern will have to wait a bit. However, I definitely think I can handle a pillowcase dress (or it might be more like a shirt for Pie since she is so tall).

I'm also really excited about the advice on Coletterie for beginners. My biggest stumbling block (other than myself) is that the only "real" fabric store around here is Joann's. I have a few quilt shops but nothing that carries fashion fabrics. (FYI, I only learned what "fashion fabric" means in the last month. I'm learning slowly but surely.) I want to be able to feel the fabric so I can get a sense of what it is. I know nothing about fabric and even with the descriptions, I'm not really sure what to expect. Before I start investing in some online swatch gathering, I want to see if I can commit to sewing.

23 August 2014

Project Monogamy

After my initial post back in May, I did finish a couple of projects:

The baby blanket, Seedling, I initially made for Bunny:
and I wove in the ends of a Wool Leaves blanket I started years ago:

I got them done in fairly short order and then started casting about for what else I could finish.

Going through my stash, I found quite a few knitting UFOs and really wanted to finish my Niome shawlette but have found that it requires more attention than I can spare. I'm up to the lovely beaded lace edging and beads + toddler & small baby = no good. I need to go back to my UFO bag and see if there is something more simple that is easier to pick up and put back down. These days, I'm lucky to get a whole 30 minutes to work on any one thing--its more like 10 minutes here, another 10 minutes there.

I did find a couple of things that need finishing but nothing is really calling to me. I have a ton of random sock yarn skeins and would love to have them turn into shawlettes but after my various fiascos, I'm a little hesitant to start a new one. I may just start another baby blanket to use up a yarn pack of Rowan's All Season Cotton that is languishing in my storage bin. I enjoy blankets and I can probably pick a pattern that doesn't require uninterrupted concentration. We'll see.

09 August 2014

New Directions

Well, I'd made this great decision to start blogging again and then proceeded to fall of the blogosphere again. This time, it is due to my limited tech options. See, these days I almost exclusively surf the net on my smartphone. I read my blog feeds on my phone, take pics and even check Ravelry forums online. However, responding to a forum post is different from trying to compose a blog post. So, I'm giving this another go from my old laptop. I've got it rigged so that the power cord is held against the computer by a water bottle. Because even when the battery icon says that the computer is charged, it spontaneously dies. oy.

I originally started this blog when I was knitting rather regularly and Ravelry didn't exist yet so it was the best way to share with the crafting community and get to know others. I was never very prolific so I didn't post regularly.

Fast forward several years, I now have two very adorable daughters, 3 year old Pie and 6 month old Bunny. We moved away from family and friends almost 9 years ago and I have yet to find my place IRL. I have friends but none of them are crafty and I work with most of them so it limits some of the conversations we have because I can't be candid about work issues. (Really not interested in my bad day at the office turning into a discussion with HR.) However, the internet continues to provide the greatest source of support for me these days. I read lots of blogs but rarely comment (a major problem with using Feedly on my phone-if you know how to comment on blogs through Feedly, please enlighten me). 

Through these blogs and a good friend, Bobby, I have decided to try to get back in touch with my creative side. Bobby and I knew each other as kids and as adults our lives have intersected every so often. I really admire how he always pursued his dreams no matter how tough it was for him. Always finding a way to reach his goal no matter what the job was. (Seriously, go check out his site, so talented!) One thing he said to me the last time we saw each other in person (many years ago now), I told him that I didn't draw anymore and didn't think I had it anymore. He responded that creativity never goes away, that we just have to spend time rediscovering it. He probably never realized how those words would stay with me.

When we were kids, I dreamt of becoming an artist. In high school, I had a falling out with the head of our art program and never again took art classes. Maybe I wasn't driven enough? I know I was intimidated when I went to college and didn't think I was good enough to get into the art classes as a non-art major. Would it still have been my dream if I had tried? I don't know but I do know that I feel the need to create and I'm trying to figure out what that means to me and how I will go about it.

That brings me back to the blog. I'm hoping to share my journey with you and maybe, just maybe find that creativity that used to come so easily.

Because a post with no pictures is no fun, here's some gratuitous cuteness:

Who can resist cute baby toes?

15 June 2014

Reviving the crafty life

Well, I'm working on a modified monogamy plan with my projects to work through UFOs and unearth my yarn stash. I recently had success finishing the blanket I started for my baby. She's not quite 5 months old and can definitely still use it so I'm counting that as a win.

Additionally, I have recently been exposed to modern quilting and have unearthed my sewing machine. I know, apparently I've been living under a rock. It all started with the QuiltCon lectures on Craftsy and once I started looking up some of the fiber artists, I could not stop surfing the websites. The aesthetic really calls to me.

My plan is to finish a rag quilt I started for my nephew years ago. It's big enough that I can get away with saying that I meant for it to be a quilt for when he goes to college. Plus, it takes up a ton of room since it's made from jeans and fleece. He's planning on going to college in the northeast so it'll get use. All the pieces are cut, I just have to sew it all together and snip.

Once that it is done, I'm going to start doing some blocks. I'm considering either doing each block in Block Party: The Modern Quilting Bee to create a sampler or trying out some of the blocks in Vintage Quilt Revival.

Going through the design process and keeping myself accountable is where ye old blog comes in. Ravelry is great for my knitting and crochet projects but not for quilting. Plus, I can do more rambling here-the project pages make more sense for technical documentation.

Wish me luck on my plan to keep up with my crafting.