Thursday, October 16, 2014

RTW to Maternity Jeans Hack

Early in my pregnancy, I scoured the internet for maternity hacks on RTW garments. There are a lot of tutorials out there, especially for jeans. However, I quickly realized that most were not going to work for me. So, I simply decided that maternity jeans would be one of the RTW investments I made.

Fast forward to now, when the weather is getting cooler, my belly is getting larger and I'm wanting some comfy jeans for the weekends. After one very disappointing jeans shopping excursion (ie: $210 for glorified jeggings??? um, no), I decided that perhaps a hack was indeed the way to go.

So, I took one pair of broken in jeans that I didn't feel too bad about chopping up since they were nearing the end of their lifespan...




And I added a jersey panel in the front...



And back... 



Now, I would not call the following a tutorial - I neither wrote up instructions nor photographed what I did step by step. This method is simply what seemed like common sense to me to do, and please feel free to make suggestions on what could be done better or differently.

First, I removed the waistband. Then I put the jeans on (unzipped) and basically traced from one side seam to the other, dipping around my bump with tailor's chalk. I  trued the line with a curved ruler and then drew a second line about 1/2 inch above the first for a seam allowance. Then I cut the bump piece out.

Next, I used that cut out piece to create a pattern piece, adding several inches (6 or so) to the top, so that the band would come up to the point where my belly begins to narrow.  I also cut a back band - I made it a bit smaller than the width of the back waistband I was replacing to account for the stretchy jersey.


Jeans piece and pattern piece

Then I used my pattern pieces to cut two fronts and two backs out of stretchy jersey so that my band is two layers thick. That way I can wear the band up over my belly or folded over.

Lastly, I simply serged the band pieces together at the side seams and top, flipped right side out and serged the whole thing into the jeans.

Here you can see it with the maternity panel folded over...





I do have a few complaints with my own hack, in particular, and maternity jeans, in general. They don't really stay up very well. Knit fabric really isn't particularly equipped to hold up denim, and the lack of a fly/waistband that sits on a narrower waist above wider hips really makes an impossible situation for the jeans staying put. I never realized what a bum deal men get with no waist to anchor pants in place. So, I feel like, if it was not for how wide a band I made, I'd be in danger of a plumbers' crack incident. I may try putting elastic in the top, but I don't know how much it will help.

Second, hacking jeans that fit closely before pregnancy is going to be problematic once a woman's hips begin to spread during pregnancy, usually beginning as early as 12 weeks. These were my broken-in, looser fit, wear-around-the-house jeans. They are definitely a bit more snug through the bum and hip than they were. This, actually, is one of the reasons I found a lot of the hacks on the internet not really appropriate for me since a lot of them don't take into account making room for anything but a growing belly.

All that aside, I will get some weekend wear out of these, and I may or may not chop up a pair of skinny jeans. We'll see if I need or want them in the next few weeks.



I know, I know. Still not looking all that bump-ish, am I? And this was taken just on Sunday. Phin was teasing me about underachieving in the bump department at the moment this was taken. But I still kind of love this picture for some reason. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Frankendress #3: Now a Skirt

Sometimes a compromise is the best solution.  After considering the options for my failed Frankendress #3, I decided to try quickly adding a sleeve. It didn't work. Not at all. Aside from having to invest a lot of time to make the sleeve/shoulder area fit in a pleasing way if I wanted to go ahead with that, there is just no remedy for a too short top that - if I raised my arm at all - would leave a seam across my bust.

So, I decided to save the bottom half as a skirt.



At first I was somewhat disappointed with this outcome, since I thought the dress would be rather chic. However, now that I look at pictures, I'm feeling very good about this outfit. It has a similar vibe to what I was hoping for in the dress. 

As a very quick recap, this is the Megan Nielsen ruched maternity skirt that I was trying to frankenpattern into a dress. At this point, I could sew this skirt in my sleep since this is my 5th iteration (3 skirts + 2 frankendresses).




The knit fabric was a gift from the Sewing Cave.  The color - which is practically navy - is not one that I normally gravitate to, but I find the print and the mix of black and blue very appealing for some reason. I have enough fabric left, that if I want to alter this for post-pregnancy wear, there will be enough for a new top.




And here is the obligatory bump shot.

It's going to be a busy week for posts to make up for the last two.  I have two more completed sewing projects and two that are half done.  Plus I need to motivate myself to finish three knitting projects that just need some seaming or sewing together.  It seems that, with just six weeks until my due date, my energy flags in the evening, when I would normally do finishing work.  Wish me luck, as we go into the final countdown.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Blue for Boys, Pink for Girls?

Deciding not to learn Raspberry's gender has met with a variety of responses from the people in our life. Some have shared their own happy or mixed experiences and some have embraced the surprise of it all, while others have hinted that they think we secretly know, but just aren't telling. To me, the strangest reaction to our secret is the sentiment that it's too bad we don't know, because it means we can't buy or receive gifts that are gender specific.

That was the point.

But going even a step further, what exactly is wrong with blue for girls or pink for boys?  In my mind, "gender appropriate" colors or clothing or toys for infants is just a symptom of our societal need to sort everyone into a neat little box.

A cute little hat and some socks in navy blue is sometimes simply that, for either a boy or a girl. (Apologies for the not great indoor photo colors - these are a very navy blue and not at all purple.)




These should look familiar since I used leftover yarn from socks that I knit for Phin last year, knit up using the Easy Peasy Newborn Sock Hat and Toe Up Baby Socks that I previously blogged



Look how tiny compared to Phin's feet!

I also made cashmere boucles socks from leftover yarn from my very first socks ever.


Cashmere Self Striping socks


So, boy or girl, my Raspberry will be staying snug with this little blue set. If Raspberry is a she, I won't be offended if strangers assume "he" because of a blue hat. Raspberry will be equally warm.

And someday Raspberry will have a favorite color and wear hats in that color instead.




What are your thoughts on gender assigned color?  Do you think it matters? Does your favorite color defy gender norms?

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Big 3-9!

Today is my birthday! It's strange to think that there is any birthday or holiday happening this year other than Raspberry's impending birth. But here I am, and another year has passed. It's been a joyful year and I'm feeling happy about my life.

My birthday post last year talked about how I felt that 38 would be a metamorphosis year. It was incredibly prescient considering that Phin and I had not, at that point, really talked about or decided that we wanted to be parents now. Isn't it funny how life can change in a year?

But this past year has been about more than just the road to parenthood. It's also been about friends and family, travel and fun, with a healthy dose of chocolate and other pastries. Here are some of my favorite memories...

Travel with Phin...

Paris and Amsterdam (amazing croissants)
 Watching the little ones grow...

Yes, I did sew that dashiki top on the right...

L: "Contemplative zombie" Halloween with Linus, Ctr: "T-Rex wishes Uncle Phin happy bday", R: frogging with Orpheus.



 New Friends, Old Friends, Sewing Friends  - I could have filled an entire post with this...

What a fun year!


And Raspberry...



It really is the people in our lives that make it sweet.

I'm celebrating today at home. We are moving furniture back into freshly painted rooms, I've already baked some brownies and finished a small DIY home improvement project, and we're about to head out for a late birthday lunch. A happy day. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Project Bump: Isabella Oliver Knock-off Separates

There's just 8 weeks until Raspberry's expected arrival, and home improvement projects are well underway - ugly carpeting is at the curb, walls have been spackled, and closets, drawers and cupboards have been ruthlessly purged and de-cluttered.

I now have one drawer of clothing plus dresses hung in the closet. Everything I've sewn for myself is still fitting beautifully and there are some RTW garments still in play, so I have enough to wear. But as we are now in early Autumn and the final countdown, I decided that a few tops that have sleeves and could be worn either to work or with jeans once I'm on leave would be good additions to my Project Bump wardrobe.

I thought Simplicity 1468 - Megan Nielsen wrap knit maternity tops - would coordinate perfectly with my MN ruched skirts and together would be a great knock off of an Isabella Oliver dress that retails for $198. Both the RTW and mine are rayon/viscose and elastane.


Isabella Oliver ($198) vs Knock off (about $32 from stash jersey for skirt+top)

I actually decided to do two tops, one to go with each of my skirts - the black one and the striped one.


Black and striped tops.


This top is basically a shrug with really really long ties that can wrap around your body multiple times to accommodate a growing and then shrinking belly. It's is a pretty brilliant idea for pregnancy, even if it doesn't make for the most user-friendly top. I haven't mastered getting into it yet - you're supposed to roll up the ties and then wrap them around your body like ace bandages, which is kind of hard when you have to go behind your back. You can see that, for the photo shoot, I didn't do a great job getting the wrapping even on the black one, and the day I wore it to work, I spent time after each bathroom visit readjusting the ties - if they don't overlap, little bits of skin can peek out. So I'm not 100% sure this top is for everyone and I'm glad that I wore it with a high-waisted skirt.

Both tops would look equally cute with jeans, too. I'm happy that I'll be able to wear them a lot of ways - right now and as I continue to grow as a dressy/work outfit, and then postpartum with jeans as I shrink. It seems pretty breast-feeding friendly.

Here's the back.


Be aware that you need to get that first wrap to overlap the upper back part

Like the other Megan Nielsen patterns I've tried, this could not have been easier to sew, although there's miles of hemming to do if you want the ties finished (I did).  I wondered how this pattern, which is now sold/licensed by Simplicity, might differ from her other patterns. So, I cut a straight medium. It fit pretty similarly, although a little larger than the MN tee shirt top. If I make it again I would take in the back at the center. If this was not a wrap top, I would do something about all the drag lines at the armscye and bust. But I think this may be a function of it being a wrap top and how snugly I wrapped it. Overall, the fit is very easy thanks to the ties, which are entirely adjustable; just wrap them more or less times around your body.

Other than that, there isn't much to say. The construction is very basic. I did everything with my serger or a twin needle.






I think the striped top worn with it's matching striped skirt may be a bit Tim Burton-ish for every day, don't you think? Mix and match is probably how I'll wear it, with the exception of Halloween.

Overall, this is exactly the look that I was going for.






Thursday, September 25, 2014

Autumn Baby: Pumpkins and Gourds and the Blocking Tomato

Now if that isn't a strange blog post title, I don't know what is...

Autumn is my favorite season. It's the time of year that I feel most alive and energetic. So, when I learned that we'd be having an Autumn baby, I was thrilled. What could be better than a little pumpkin baby, right in time for Thanksgiving?




Pumpkins are a terrific gender neutral theme for an Autumn baby, and Phin and I both love orange. This cute little hat is a free pattern that I found on Ravelry by Jill Albert Allen. It was quick and easy to knit and could not be cuter.

I also knit up some teeny tiny matching baby mitts designed by Susan B Andersen, also a free pattern. She really is my favorite for stuffed animals and quick baby projects. Don't these look like some kind of mini gourds? I think so.

Since I had quite a bit of the orange yarn left over and Trample Herd member Daffy was eager to get her gift for Raspberry done, I knit a second set in stripes, using leftover orange and the leftover yarn that I used to knit Daffy herself. I also omitted the pumpkin vine.

Daffy and her baby gift.

There is something about stripes on a baby that is just so adorable. I'm sure Raspberry will be sick of stripes in no time.

All of these are made from Knitpicks Swish worsted yarn in Orange, Dublin (green), and Daffodil (yellow). For an inexpensive yarn for babies, I think Swish is a good choice. It's merino superwash, which means it's nice and soft and can go in the wash after Raspberry sucks on the mitts or other disasters. Softness and wash-ability are the top priorities for baby knits in my book.

The Blocking Tomato
I've been blocking all of my baby knits by soaking them in Dreft and letting them air dry on my blocking mats. When I was thinking about how to block the hats into a hat shape, I came up with a funny and good solution: the blocking tomato.



My mom likes buying funny kitchen gadgets for me and Phin as holiday stocking stuffers. Some of our favorites are a tupperware shaped like a slice of pizza (perfect for storing that last slice!) and a ketchup bottle lid that is a big monster foot so you can store the bottle upside-down (no more shake-shake-shaking the bottle!). This tupperware is meant to store a cut tomato on the counter so it won't get mushy or mealy in the fridge. But it's the perfect size for baby hats. LOL

If you have ever knit a hat or a baby hat, how have you blocked it?

One more happy Autumn knit picture...

Pumpkins and gourds



PS - I've been posting very regularly lately, but things may be a bit light for the next week or two. We* are painting, removing old carpeting and organizing for Raspberry's arrival. So, not sure how much time I'll have for blogging.  (* By "we" I mean Phin, and I am helping as much as I can, mostly by purging old clothing, books and the other things that accumulate over time. )

Monday, September 22, 2014

Frankendress #3: Top Fitting Issues/What Should I do?

I've run into my first set of real fitting issues with the two halves of my third Frankendress. The bottom is just fine since it is the MN Ruched Skirt that I've used 4 times now. The top, however, is a hot mess.


Two separate halves of this dress

The top portion  is V8633, minus the center back zipper. The pattern is fine and actually probably would fit my pre-pregnancy self well. However, I did not make an FBA. And at this point - with 2+ extra inches of bust - that was a mistake.





I did cut a size 12 so that I would have extra room. However, what I really need is extra length, not width. The lower darts end at the bust point instead of below and letting out the shoulder seam a little has only led to there being too much room in the armscye (ie: my bra band peeks out b/c it is too low).






Additionally, this pattern bodice has both a neck facing and a lining to support the collar. But I decided to save myself the trouble of the lining, which was a so-so decision at best. If the top fit, I wouldn't mind this so much, but if I recut, then I would probably go for the lining.

Now here is my dilemma:  I don't know how I can alter the top that I've cut and sewn enough to make a difference. I have enough fabric to recut it or a different bodice for the dress. If I recut this, well, it's not a quick/easy sew. There are lots of darts on the shell and lining, plus facing, which needs interfacing. Also I would have to do an FBA and raise the armscye. I'm just not sure I want that much fitting work on a pattern that I already struggled to cut so that the print of the top and bottom would match. I'm not sure I'm ready to devote more time to this.

If anyone knows of a creative way to fix what I've got, that would be best. I really like the style of the top. Maybe sleeves would help? I don't know. Your suggestions are welcome!  Other than than, here are the options as I see them.

1) Ditch the top and enjoy wearing the skirt portion as a skirt (easiest option)
2) Alter the pattern and cut new top pieces (possibly most time consuming option)
3) Cut a different top to go with the skirt. Either of my two previous Frankendress tops would work. Or something else? Feel free to suggest other patterns.
4) Other??

Let me know your thoughts.