achievement unlocked: plaid autumn dress

it’s finally cool enough outside that i can wear a dress i sewed last month when it was like 103 degrees out!


this is another sewaholic renfrew paired with the skirt from mccall’s 6754, same as the indelible dress i posted about last month. but i did the three-quarter sleeve version & the cowl neck for the top. i also cut the bodice off in the right place so i didn’t have to sew in an extra panel of fabric to make it long enough.

i made my usual bodice adjustments (lengthen the front bodice, shorten the back bodice, grading both to nothing at the side seams), & i cut the sleeve bands & cowl on the bias for visual interest. i also added in-seam pockets which are kind of big & gaping. i didn’t want to try to press this fabric because i was pretty sure it would melt (i don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s a lot of poly). i think i just need to topstitch around the pockets to get them to lay flatter.

for some weird reason, my fabric wasn’t wide enough to accommodate the full half-circle of my skirt pieces…even though this is like the fourth time i’ve made this skirt & i’ve never had this problem before. ??? it was just a hair too narrow, but i was like, “whatever, the place where it’s short is just going to get folded into the hem anyway, that will address the problem.” but then it was just a tiny bit too short to go into my hem. & i was enclosing the hem in bias tape so i didn’t know what to do. i was really worried it would start to ravel & look awful if i just left it. & then someone was like, “why don’t you just fold the hem up one more time?”

duh! i’m an idiot. so i did & that solved the problem. i also hand-sewed the hem for an invisible finish on the outside. check it:

it had been a while since i did a lot of hand-stitching. it made me want to make a quilt, just so i could hand-bind it. (& also because it’s starting to be quilt weather again.) (which reminds me that i meant to grab my quilt out of the bedroom when i put ramona to bed, but i forgot & now i will have to spend all evening conning jared into giving me back rubs so i can steal his warmth.) not saying my hands weren’t gnarled claws by the time i was done, but i did enjoy the process.

i also sewed non-functional buttons to the sleeve bands, just for fun.


this is, like, the most normal-lady dress i have made so far. i really like it though. it’s super comfy& i wore it on a cloudy 55-degree day & it was the perfect level of warmth. though…it’s sunny in these photos. that’s weird. look at the sun shining on my hair & making it look straight up golden, like i’m in a “sweet valley high” book or something. kudos to jared for these photos. i guess we’ll have to do all future sewing project photos outdoors. just like all the blogs say you should.

not sure what’s next. i’ve been meaning to make a sweatshirt dress for a while but have yet to cut out the fabric. i went to a yard sale last weekend & got a couple yards of what seems to be wool, maybe? it’s purple with small white polka dots, & has a good stretch to it. i’m not much of a polka dot fan, but i love purple. & it was like $3 for two yards–score! (i also got an entire cigar box full of bias tape for $2.) i will probably make a regular renfrew shirt out of it–something i can wear with jeans. because i do gravitate toward pants in cold weather. i also really want to get going on a new quilt for ramona. she is starting to be really interested in naming the things she sees in pictures & i have the perfect fabric to make a kind of i-spy quilt for her, but that will also help teach her letters.  i went to the library yesterday to check out the book with the pattern (it’s a paper-piece project, so i actually need the template), but all their copies were checked out. soon! & i did promise to make jared a quilt too. i also still have one unblogged dress that i need to wear & photograph at some point.

& just for fun, here’s a photo of ramona with her hands in her pockets, slouching around the house like a surly teen:


things are not so great

i don’t totally know why, but i am pretty depressed again. my disability reconsideration has now taken longer than the original review. i don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for me. it looks like they are not going to make me go see dr. incompetent again, which is a good thing. but i would like to have a decision (in my favor, obviously) so i can move on with my life.

one of the more frustrating aspects of all this shit is that i don’t have any health insurance right now. when i filled out the forms to continue receiving benefits during the appeals process, a form was filed wrong somewhere along the way & my medicare was terminated. i called medicare about it & they couldn’t help. i called the federal social security number & they were less than useless. i explained the whole saga, & the woman was all, “okay, let me look at your file…*beep boop beep*…when your case was reviewed, they decided you’re not disabled anymore! you don’t get medicare if you’re not disabled! that’s your problem right there!” thanks, genius. i really appreciate the way you listened to my conundrum & gave me relevant insight. for fuck’s sake. finally i called the local office & they were able to explain what happened & start the process of correcting it. i’m not sure if my benefits will be retroactive once they are reinstated, so i’m just trying not to get hit by a bus or anything. i already didn’t have prescription drug coverage, so i’m paying for my antidepressants out of pocket & nothing has changed there. my therapist told me she’ll wait to file claims on our sessions until the health care thing is sorted out, & i can keep paying my usual co-pay in the meantime. i wouldn’t be able to afford her services at full price. & then what? i don’t like to think about it.

the only thing that really takes me out of my head & makes me feel better is sewing (& sometimes hanging out with ramona). & that’s a bummer because sewing can get pretty expensive & that makes me think about how my sole source of income might get pulled out from under me & then i fall down the rabbit hole of anxiety & depression again.

i think the wellbutrin is working okay. i just wasn’t taking it consistently for a few weeks with all the traveling & upheaval. i really rely on my to-do lists for things like remembering to take it, & it was hard to find time to consult the lists while i was looking after ramona by myself. i was just focusing on keeping her happy & doing the stuff that obviously needed to get done (feeding us, trying to prevent the house from being condemned, etc). anyway, jared is back now, school starts again next week, & i am trying to get my shit together. it’s just hard when i feel like i’m living at the bottom of a well. & you know, if the fact of the matter is that the wellbutrin ISN’T working, that’s my own tough luck because i don’t have health insurance & can’t afford to see anyone about changing prescriptions!

so that is most of what’s going on with me. i feel bad because i have been pretty out of touch with people. i have a lot of FB messages & even a few emails (old school!) waiting for replies. some are actually months old. i simply have not had the mental energy to compose responses. i also have a box of unanswered letters & postcards. i’ve given up on ever answering them. thinking about them just makes me feel panicky so i’ve hidden them in the back of my desk & try not to think about them.

i was really testy & irritable the whole time david & alana were here. i feel bad because we only see them like twice a year, & they were ostensibly here to help me with ramona. they could have gone on a real vacation where they didn’t have to change any poop diapers, but they came here to pitch in (& hopefully also because they love ramona so much) & then i was having a crab attack every thirty seconds. it underscored for me yet again how poorly i handle changes to my routine. i often found myself thinking that i’d rather just do everything myself than have to deal with two extra adults in my house. even if those extra adults were cooking dinner & reading stories to my kid so i could nap or sew or balance my checkbook or whatever. it’s not super-surprising in light of how poorly i handle it when jared is on break from school or randomly decides to work from home one day, but due to the fact that it doesn’t make rational sense, i always find it surprising.

one of my mom friends was telling me about how her husband is applying for a new job that would enable him to work from home. i was like, “oh my god, aren’t you afraid you’ll murder him & everyone else you know, having him in your space all day?” & she was like, “no. it’ll be awesome. i’ll be able to, like, have a doctor’s appointment or leave the house occasionally while the baby is napping. it means more freedom for me!” interesting perspective. though another mom friend pointed out that most people with children don’t live in houses as small as mine. it’s probably a bit more tolerable to have your partner work from home if s/he has a home office or some other out of the way space to use.

for any sewers reading this (& having made it this far): do you have a favorite pattern for pants? i’ve not made any pants yet, but in keeping with my “why not try it?” point of view about sewing, i’d like to give it a whirl. my all-time favorite pants were straight leg mid-rise jeans from the gap. they fit perfectly. they have since been destroyed (i wore them to shreds) & would be too small for me now anyway, so i can’t trace off. & although the gap still sells straight leg jeans, they have a lower rise now, which i hate. i want to find something with enough rise that i don’t feel like my belly is hanging over my waistband, & enough flare in the leg that i’m not wearing skinny jeans, but not so much that they are boot cut. i also like pockets of a normal depth for keeping keys & shit in them. i’m not one of those ladies who is happy with a pocket that can accommodate nothing more than a lipstick. too much to ask?

achievement unlocked: indelible jersey dress


i made a couple of new dresses last week while david & alana were here, pitching in with ramona. this is the one i’ve actually been wearing because it’s more weather-appropriate. i’m going to have to wait to blog about the other one when the weather cools off a bit.

the fabric is a jersey knit from the indelible collection. this isn’t my favorite print from the line, but only two prints were made into knits & this was the one i preferred. i wasn’t going to buy it because it was really expensive & i already have a short-sleeved jersey knit dress with a circle skirt. do i really need another? but i kept going back to the fabric shop & visiting the fabric because it felt so nice & soft & cool. so i bought some.

the pattern is a sewaholic renfrew for the top, married to the skirt from mccall’s 6754. the renfrew is a pretty long shirt & i knew i wouldn’t need all that length, so i measured a jersey top i have that fits well & transferred those measurements on to the renfrew pattern pieces. i cut everything out & started sewing, &…the top was way too short. no clue how that happened. so i went ahead & cut the rest of the original length for the renfrew, sewed it on to the bottom of my too-short bodice, drew a chalk line where my waist hit & cut the bodice off 5/8″ below that line to attach the skirt.

yeah. remember the last garment i posted about, & how i said i wanted my next sewing project to be really precise? none of this slapdash good-enough cobbled-together bullshit? *sigh*

in my defense, i’d never made the renfrew before & didn’t know what to expect from the drape & stretch of the jersey. i guess now i know for next time? i’m kind of frustrated with myself because the waistline is actually slightly off-center. i’ve mentioned before that i always have to make a bunch of adjustments to everything i sew because my waist is uneven front to back because of my deformed spine. i always have to make things longer in the front & shorter in the back, so i have to curve things to meet evenly at the side seams. in this case, the lowest front dip is slightly off to the side, & i also over-compensated & made the front just a hair too long, like maybe a quarter of an inch, so that’s why there are those ripples at the waist. better luck next time, i guess. i also probably should have sewn the extra panel with a straight stitch & finished the seam by pinking to make it lay a bit flatter. things you don’t think about until it’s too late.

& not to just harp on all my failures, but something also went awry with my pockets. i was attaching them two & a half inches from the waist seam, but one got sewn on four inches from the waist seam. ??? i have no idea how that happened because i was being pretty careful. but i was also chatting with david while i sewed, so i guess i just screwed up somehow. i tried to trim away the excess fabric where the pockets weren’t the same size, but now that pocket tends to gape & it’s kind of annoying. luckily, i used the same fabric as i did for the dress (which is a miracle–i usually prefer to use contrasting fabric), so it’s not super-obvious. from afar, anyway.

the renfrew part of this was so easy & fun to sew up. i was nervous because sewaholic patterns are not drafted for ladies of my bust size, but i cut the largest size & the stretch of the jersey helped give me a really nice fit. i think the neck & sleeve finishes look fantastic & they were much easier to accomplish than i expected. i only regret sewing them on with a straight stitch. it caused a little bit of puckering that i probably could have avoided with a zig zag stitch, & pulling stitches out of jersey is a fool’s errand. i think my neckband also stretched out a little bit while i sewed. i didn’t mark the binding notches on the bodice because i had been planning to just turn under & sew, so i think i pinned unevenly & then had to stretch to fit in a few places. i will mark the notches, pin more carefully, & use a zig zag stitch next time.

& there will definitely be a next time! even though i am focusing a lot on the mistakes i made in this post, i do really like how this came out & i’m really looking forward to applying what i learned to more similar dresses & shirts. this dress is super-comfortable–total secret pajama territory. but it looks like a real, put-together outfit. i’ve already gotten several compliments on it from strangers. it’s great for chasing after ramona & the print helps hide the inevitable stains she gevs all over me when she eats peaches & then buries her face in my skirt.

photo 1

me, ramona, & the dress at the library. where, yes, there is an enormous teddy bear.

i plan to make this up in dress form at least a few more times. i’m still waffling on whether to do more circle skirts or try a skirt with a little less flare. i got some stretchy plaid poly today for like $1.50 a yard. it has a very similar weight & drape as this jersey–maybe just a touch heavier. i’m thinking about making this dress again with that, but with three-quarter-length sleeves & a cowl-neck. i also have some very snuggly gray floral sweatshirt material i got at grey’s fabrics while i was in boston. i want to make another dress with that, with black full-length sleeves. & another cowl? we’ll see what i think of the plaid one. i also got some blue & black striped ponte on sale for like $3 a yard. maybe a shirt? i plan to buy a ton of thermal knits & make an army of thermal renfrews. all my store-bought thermals are stretched out (because i wore them while i was preggo), full of holes, just in really bad shape. i’ve been meaning to replace them, & now i can just sew my own!

i’m also planning to dip my toe into sewing my own bras. something terrible happened to my favorite bra & i don’t think it can be worn anymore. i replaced it with one i am not so thrilled about. i was really annoyed at the store because it’s nearly impossible to find an unpadded bra, & listen. i do not need any help in that area. all the unpadded bras were really ugly, just all beige & grandma-esque. i bought a bra pattern that checks all my boxes are far as customization options & support go, & if all goes well, maybe i can figure out how to dye the materials i need to make actual cool-looking bras. i told jared that maybe i’ll be making bras for ramona in like ten years, & she’ll be like, “mom! this is so embarrassing!” & she heard me & said, “mom! mom! mom!” it was funny because usually she calls me “mama” & says it in a sweet baby way. but she was totally mimicking my grumpy teenager voice.

a few more dress photos:



giant babies & knit dresses

i feel like i haven’t posted in forever. mostly it’s because i’ve been so busy looking after ramona by myself, traveling, etc. also, the T button on my laptop broke somehow. it still kind of works, maybe 40% of the time. so when i need to type a T, i either have to hit the T button a million times before it registers, or i have to cut & paste it from somewhere else. it took me forever just to explain that, because it’s all so T-heavy. if you see some random Vs where they don’t belong, it’s because i hit shift-V instead of command-V when attempting to paste. i did it three times in that sentence alone.

so! can we talk about my sweet little baby? she is now an enormous toddler. i swear, i dropped a baby off in boston last weekend, & when she came home, she was practically old enough to vote. she still crawls sometimes, but she’s walking a ton now. & she knows so many words! she amazes me with all the words she knows! this morning i was sewing, & she came over & tugged on my arm & said, “poop.” sure enough, she had pooped. (sorry if that’s gross. except not, because it’s only gross to people who don’t have kids & i don’t super-care what those people think of the stories i tell about my kid.) a little while later, she climbed into her stroller & said, “park! park!” when she plays with her blocks, she says, “block.” she points to my fabric bins & says, “box.” she points at my charlotte tattoo & says, “cat. meow!” she can say “snack,” “milk,” “down,” “up,” “walk,” “sit up,” “tired,” “duck” (which she seems to use for all birds), “shirt,” & so many more words. it’s amazing!

i also love watching her grapple with abstract concepts. i asked her if she could say “ramona,” & she said, “me! babe!” (i call her “babe” a lot). she pointed at a display of binders at the grocery store & said, “daddy!” (jared uses a lot of binders.) she can also make pig, horse, & goat noises.

taking care of her by myself wasn’t as hard as i expected it to be. i mean, i had to recalibrate my expectations to a certain degree. once i accepted that there were a lot of things that just weren’t going to get done while i was alone with her, it was easier to put my head down & focus on the priorities. i just wanted to keep her happy, fed, & clean, & keep up withe the bare minimum required to maintain the household. it was exhausting, & there were plenty of moments when i felt like my head was going to explode if i had to read “big red barn” one more time, but it was okay. it was actually kind of cool, because spending all that extra time attending to her helped me get to know her a little bit better.

then i packed her up & went to the airport to fly to boston. i was really nervous about single-handedly getting us & all our stuff through security & on to the plane. & iv was pretty hectic. our flight was delayed by half an hour, which was lucky, because it took forever to get through security & then our gate was changed to be clear on the other side of the terminal, & i had to change ramona’s diaper & give her some dinner & get milk for her, etc etc etc…i couldn’t have done it all with the original departure time.

we got on the plane, i got ramona’s car seat installed withe the help of a nice dad traveling with his slightly older kids, everyone was ready to go…& then the captain came on to say the plane was leaking brake fluid. we all had to get off & wait for a new plane flying in from chicago. we didn’t leave kansas city until we were already supposed to have landed in boston. we finally made it to boston at around 2am. ramona handled iv all surprisingly well. honestly, she’s a better traveler than i am. she just loves new experiences. i find new experiences unpleasant & discombobulating.

jared’s parents took ramona to yearly meeting (a quaker thing) the next day & jared & i had our first stomach flu-free baby-free time since ramona was born! we did all kinds of crap that is difficult/impossible to do with a baby in tow: we saw “jaws” on the big screen. we visited with a much younger baby who is struggling with his nap schedule (good not to have a noisy toddler with us for that). we played skeeball & air hockey. we tried on fancy, expensive jeans. we window shopped. we ate crab legs. we walked around on the docks in the charles. we laid in bed & listened to NPR. we drank beer.

then i flew home & had some baby-free time in kansas. i went out for drinks with a mom friend. i went to bingo twice (i won $50). i walked around the house in my underwear. i drank coffee without having to clean oatmeal off anyone. i ate cookies for dinner. i did whatever i wanted, whenever i wanted to.

& then jared’s brother, david, & his girlfriend alana flew into kansas city with ramona & i was reunited with my giant child. david & alana are staying in lawrence for the week. they got an airbnb a few blocks away & have been pitching in with ramona. it’s been really helpful because she came home terrified of baths. she used to love baths. not sure what happened there. so i’ve had to really work with her on her baths & coax her into staying in the tub long enough to get clean. she also refused to go into her crib one night. she SCREAMED like she was being murdered when i tried to put her in there. so i had to put her to bed in my bed, & it was all very exhausting. (eventually i figured out that she would go into her crib if there was a pillow in there with her. ???) she’s been waking me up every morning at 5:30am, usually by kicking me in the head & then going back to sleep. so it’s been helpful to have david & alana around to take ramona to the playground or whatever while i get a nap.

i also sewed two new dresses this week! i’ll post more about them once i get some photos. but one is a pretty heavy long-sleeved knit dress, so i might not get photos of that one for a while. i was just trying to get a jump on my fall/winter sewing. the other is a light jersey dress (a sewaholic renfrew with a circle skirt attached, basically). i expect it to get a lot of wear before the weather cools off. i just wanted to experiment with knit dresses a little more after the disappointment that was the blue floral jersey dress. i wear it a lot. it’s comfortable & great for hot weather. i think i cut a size too big because i didn’t know what kind of ease to expect from the pattern, & i also altered the bodice to be too long. the long-sleeved dress is the same pattern with a few tweaks & it fits better. still not perfectly, but better. the refrew dress is also a little jacked up, just because i’ve never made a renfrew before & didn’t know what kinds of alterations i’d need. but it turned out okay. & i still have more knits in my stash (thanks in part to a gift certificate to gather here that david & alana gave me for my birthday), so…more to come! i got an especially heavy, soft, snuggly knit at grey’s fabrics in boston & i want to make it into a long-sleeved cowl-neck renfrew dress. i’m just not sure i have enough fabric. maybe if i cut it all in one layer…

achievement unlocked: blue floral jersey dress


well. this is a thing that happened.

ETA: a much better-lit photo, courtesy of my mom friend rebecca (& yes, that is ramona sitting next to me, with the guitar):

this is mccall’s 6754. this is…not great, bob. i think it’s my fault. there are plenty of nice versions of this dress online. i’m not entirely sure where i went wrong. i mean…it’s all right. i’ll wear it. but this is not my finest work.

i wanted to do something with my serger, so i decided to tackle this knit dress pattern i had in my stash. i also didn’t want to use a really fancy, expensive knit in case i ruined it by not knowing what i was doing. i mean, i’ve never sewn a knit before. so i picked up a few yards of this blue floral jersey on sale at hancock fabrics. it looked okay on the bolt. i liked the blue & while i am not big on florals, it was better than just being a plain one-color dress. you know i love me a print!

i took it home & pre-washed it because i have heard that knits in particular can shrink a lot if they’re not prepped. in this case, it may have been wiser to just make the dress & wash it when it was done, because it is way too big. i didn’t do a muslin because i didn’t know what to use to muslin a knit. i only have wovens in my stash & none of them would mimic the fit of a knit. so i cut out the size that matched my measurements & did a tissue-fitting. (not that that in any way mimics the fit of jersey either, but you know.) the tissue-fitting indicated that i had to add quite a bit of length to the front bodice, as always. it’s another princess seam dress, so i did the same thing i did with the jellyfish dress & added the full length (five inches in this case!) to the middle piece & slashed the side piece to keep the side seam the same.

i had a devil of a time cutting my fabric. all it wanted to do was cling to itself, so it was nearly impossible to fold it over (a few pieces are cut on the fold) & get a stretch of fabric smooth on both sides. at one point while i was working on it, i complained about being really hot, & jared said, “maybe if you weren’t stressing yourself out over this fabric, you wouldn’t be so hot,” & i said, “i’m not stressing myself out. this is just a more difficult project than i expected.” & he said, “well, when you’re going around behaving so inappropriately…”. then i murdered him with my eyes. i’m not saying i was 100% genteel about complaining that i was hot, but it was seriously like 92 degrees that day, the air conditioning was off so we could listen for ramona waking up from her nap, & i was crawling around on the floor, trying to smooth some asshole jersey.

anyway! i eventually worked it out & started cutting my fabric. & then i realized that because i had to add so much length to the front bodice, i didn’t have enough fabric to cut the whole dress. argh! so, back to hancock for a bit more.

i finally got it all cut out & i started piecing it together. it was pretty easy because i just did a princess seam dress, & also, jersey is just really easy to sew. i did a lot of it on my regular machine because i was worried about fucking it up on my serger, since the serger cuts off the seam allowance, meaning that you can’t just pick it out & try again if you fuck it up. but i did serge the seams to finish them.

unfortunately, i did not staystitch anything. i was worried that staystitching would compromise the stretch & then the finished garment wouldn’t fit. i don’t know. i’m a fucking idiot. what actually ended up happening is that i didn’t staystitch anything, so everything stretched & the finished garment doesn’t fit. it would have been too big for me the day i gave birth to ramona. this was especially dumb because the side panels on the front are cut on the bias, so they REALLY stretched. i didn’t realize how bad it was until i was pinning the bodice to the skirt & i had numerous extra inches in my bodice circumference. i tried to ease it in, & wound up making a pair of kind pleat-ish things. uggggh. i should have made darts, maybe? i mean, nothing would have really fixed the problem & made my dress look as good as the other versions of this pattern floating around online, but the pleat things i made open into the bodice so there’s this blousy billowing thing happening around my waist…it’s just not my all-time favorite look.

also, attaching the sleeves really flummoxed me for a while. you can’t try the bodice on & get a sense of fit until both sleeves have been attached (at least basted in place), which makes it that much more complicated to make sizing alterations if they’re needed. i also used stay tape around the armscyes (not sure why i was worried about the sleeves drooping & not the dress itself?), which wound up being a giant mistake because it’s so goddamn itchy, especially in contrast to the smooth, soft jersey. i wound up trimming off as much excess stay tape as i could & enclosing the sleeves seams in bias tape. still not 100% perfect, but a major improvement.

i also don’t know what the fuck happened with the neckline. maybe that stretched as well? when i tried the bodice on to examine the fit before attaching the skirt, i was like, “whoa.” the neckline is really big. if i turned it under & hemmed per the directions, there’s no way i would have been able to conceal my bra. i wound up making a kind of faux-bias tape & using that to enclose the neckline & preserve a bit of my modesty, but folding the jersey that way when it was sticking to itself & curling on the edges…blargh. again, not my finest work. not by a long shot.

attaching the skirt & doing the elasticized waist went very well. i had a much easier time making a channel for the elastic with this pattern than i did with the miz mozelle. maybe i’m just getting slightly better at watching my seam allowances or something.

i tried the dress on so i could get a sense of the hem. (i have read that you should shorten a skirt anywhere where you’ve lengthened a bodice, & lengthen a skirt where you’ve shortened a bodice, but that doesn’t work for me since my waistline is uneven front to back. i have to try a garment on & kind of eyeball the skirt where it falls in relation to the waistline on the bodice.) as i was pinning the hem into place, it suddenly occurred to me…this thing looks like a nightgown. i think a combination of weird, flowery fabric & generally being too big…it looks like a grandma nightgown. shit shit shit.

so i put it aside & went to bed.

when i got up this morning, i hemmed it & that made it look a little better. it’s funny how just a hem can make something look so much better. but it was still a little nightgown-y. my friend rebecca, from baby playgroup, had dropped off some various sewing notions for my birthday, including some red rick rack. rick rack is not something i would think to buy on my own. it’s just not really my bag at all. i had just gotten a big bag of assorted lace at the antique mall, but i knew adding LACE to this flowery bullshit was not going to do anything about the Nightgown Factor. so i pinned the rick rack along the hem &…hey! it looked better! suddenly it had kind of an easy breezy casual 70s vibe! that’s not necessarily an aesthetic i would have intentionally chosen, but it’s okay. it’s better than a 70-year-old woman in her jammies vibe, right?

i pinned rick rack around the hem, & the neckline, & the sleeves. i made a faux-placket & sewed on a couple of random heart-shaped buttons i had, left over from the time i had to replace a heart-shaped button on a very cute sweater we got for ramona at the goodwill. & suddenly the dress was a lot less objectionable. i’m still not loving the fit–i wish there was something i could do about the blousing. i thought about adding a waist tie to cinch things & cover up the weird pleat element a little, but ramona only napped for like 45 minutes today, so i didn’t have the time/energy to pursue that. maybe another day.

like i said, i’ll undoubtedly wear this dress. it’s super-comfy. i am almost embarrassed to be blogging about it because i feel like it’s such an epic fail, technique-wise. i mean…i cut shit on the bias & then didn’t staystitch it. did i have a lobotomy or something? that’s so 101. i think i will try this dress again in a heavier knit & see what happens. (& i’ll make some fit alterations before that. i suspect that part of the problem is that it’s a mccall’s pattern & they build in a lot of ease, but i couldn’t find any info on the finished garment dimensions on the envelope, so i wasn’t sure what to expect. maybe i’ll try going down an entire size?) i got some heavier black & red striped knit that drapes really nicely & does not cling to itself at all, so i think that will be fun to sew. when it’s colder out. because it’s definitely, like, sweater material, which is horrifying to think about on a day like today, with a high of 102 degrees.

more photos:


see that blousing at the waist? argh. but hey! there’s ramona!


a slightly better-lit photo of the dress on a hanger.


the top. is the fact that the bottom button is crooked totally noticeable? how do you not sew a button on crooked? because i seem to suck at that.


the skirt.

not sure what my next project will be. whatever it is, i really want to sew something that comes out PRECISE. none of this, “whoops, i guess i’ll just tuck this extra fabric in here & call it good enough,” “oopsie, not sure how that trim got totally crooked but it’s too late now!”, “oops, accidentally serged the same seam twice…i guess that side will just be a little smaller,” bullshit. this project…i don’t know, man. someone on the internet was like, “this would be a great project for a total beginner!” really? REALLY?! a knit dress with princess seams. yeah, i don’t think so. not that this was OMG the hardest ever. i mean, the parts that failed for me were pretty much totally a product of my own idiocy. maybe i’d be singing a different tune if it had come out gorgeous. oh well. i am reminded of how recently i got annoyed with a sewing blogger for remarking that her latest project was “another ‘perfect’ make,” meaning that she had not made any mistakes with it. you know…good for her, dude. it came off a bit conceited, but if i managed to make something with no mistakes, i’d probably be hollering it from the rooftop, so.

achievement unlocked: underpants


i’m hoping that the angle on this photo is distorted enough that it’s not in any way a cheesecake photo. but look! you can see my ramona quimby tattoo. that i totally got when i was 19, well before i had any idea that i would someday have a daughter named ramona.

i was reading “threads” magazine a few days ago & there was an article on making foam inserts for handmade bras. & i started thinking about how i have always been kind of jealous of girls that get to buy cute bra-&-panty sets because those things don’t generally come in my bra size. i guess i could probably get coordinating underpants for a victoria’s secret bra or something, but that stuff isn’t cute. any matching sets in my size usually cost approximately a bazillion dollars.

so, reading this article, i was suddenly like, “wait! i know how to sew now! i could MAKE that stuff for myself!” i started wondering how difficult it would be, given that i had not yet sewn with any stretchy fabrics or lacy trims or anything. i had some stretch lace in my stash for another project that i hadn’t yet gotten around to (because i was scared of the stretchy fabrics), & i had just purchased some jersey in order to tackle mccall’s 6754 (which i’m thinking of as kind of a big 4 version of the colette moneta or the lady skater dress–any of those knit circle skirt dress patterns, but more interesting because i’m doing the bias-cut princess seam version). i realized halfway through cutting the fabric for the dress that i didn’t have enough fabric because i always have to lengthen the front bodice on everything i sew so much, so i went ahead & cut out some underpants using the free pattern available from

my measurements put me exactly mid-way between a size 12 & a size 14, so i graded between the two to customize my fit. i adjusted the measurements for the lace trim as well. i cut everything out & serged it together. i used a pretty wide zigzag stitch in coordinating blue thread to attach the trim. & done! from start to finish, including tiling the pattern & cutting the fabric, it probably took about two hours. it would have gone faster except that i’d never tiled a pattern before (the only other PDF i ever used was a paper-piecing pattern with only a few small bits that had to be taped together) so there was a bit of a learning curve there & the jersey i used curls back on itself like whoa, so pinning the lace in place was a lot of work.

but they came out great! a perfect fit, super-comfy, & pretty cute. some people complained that the pattern did not provide enough butt coverage but i think it’s fine. every butt is different though, i guess. i’d definitely make these again. now i want to buy all kinds of novelty jersey (the pattern calls for stretch lace but i don’t like lace underpants–too much information?) & dye a bunch of stretch lace & have an underpants-making party.

& we did take a family expedition out to hancock so i could get enough jersey to finish my dress. i’m super-worried that it’s not going to be wearable when it’s done because the jersey clings to itself so much. i’m not sure if that’s something that can be fixed with a dryer sheet or something, or if i just made a poor fabric decision. i felt insecure enough that i bought a few yards of much heavier black & red striped knit fabric. honestly, the pattern i’m using would look gorgeous in the striped knit, because of the bias panels. but the black & red would make it look like a radical cheerleader uniform. i mean, i used to be a radical cheerleader, but…i’m not one anymore. & i pretty much don’t wear red. i don’t know what i was thinking, especially since there was identical blue & black striped fabric. too late now.

i told jared that i used to exclusively dress in red & black in order to communicate to everyone that i am an anarchist, & then i was like, “god, that’s so dumb. i can’t believe i admitted that.” he said, “yeah, it is kind of taking a sports fan-like approach to your political belief system. but i can’t judge. i used to paint an R on my chest everyday just in case a bunch of people needed to spell out ‘ANARCHY’ on their bare chests & were missing the R.” god, i wish that was true. i wouldn’t even put it past 22-year-old jared. not that i knew him then, but stories i’ve heard kind of tally with this idea.

a 35-year-old is strangely over-excited about her birthday

i just realized i’ve been 35 for more than a week already & i never wrote about my birthday! it was really nice. way too hot, but i guess that’s the problem with being born in july. jared, ramona, & i went to first watch for breakfast. it’s a chain that jared had apparently known about for years, but i had never heard of it until i was in the hospital, on bed rest with ramona. one day jared was like, “i went to first watch this morning before i came to the hospital,” & i was like, “YOU ATE PROFESSIONALLY PREPARED BACON WITHOUT ME?” even though i was eating bacon & fried chicken everyday in the hospital. (still not sure why they wouldn’t put a woman with pre-eclampsia on some kind of sodium-restricted diet, but hey. i am not complaining.)

it’s kind of a grandpa-type place, but i like that sort of thing.cute bistros annoy me. i had waffles with caramelized bananas & bacon-infused maple syrup. it was delicious. ramona managed to drink from a cup with a straw & not spill anything. then jared took her to the playground while i went to hancock fabrics & went buck wild. i got some more railroad stripe denim to make shorts, some black denim to make a jacket, several patterns because there was a $1.99 sale happening, various notions & trims & such forth. i like hancock because they have the notions the indie shop doesn’t have, & their apparel fabric is okay-ish. & they have a nice selection of kona solids. they also have weird shit like sparkle organza by the bolt. you know, if you’re into that sort of thing. but i always make a list to go there. it’s not really fun to browse because their fabric selection is pretty uninspiring.

ramona took her nap & i decided to pull the trigger & buy a serger. i’ve been wanting one for months, & as long as my reconsideration goes okay, i can afford it. i’ve been wasting like an hour a day looking at sergers online. i figured, you only turn 35 once, fall is coming & it will be nice to be able to sew up some knits, i think the past year has proven that sewing is more than a passing fancy for me, etc.

after ramona woke up, we went out & got coffee. we also got her a new pair of sunglasses that somehow exactly matches the sunglasses jared got for himself at a thrift store last week. she threw her previous sunglasses out of her stroller & jared ran them over & broke them. how annoyed was i by that, on a scale of 1 to 10? like maybe a 12. it’s not that hard not to run shit over with the stroller. but i digress.

we placed a take-out order with the basil leaf cafe, which i rather like. jared’s review: “too salty”. that is exactly the sort of thing i am looking for if i eat restaurant food! i had lasagna & jared had spaghetti & meatballs. even though we could easily have made lasagna &/or spaghetti & meatballs at home…in fact, jared just made spaghetti & meatballs last night. oh well. jared also made me a flourless chocolate cake.

we put ramona to bed & then we watched “the grand budapest hotel”. it’s a real testament to how little i keep up with most pop culture now that i have a kid that i didn’t know jeff goldblum was in that movie. i don’t consider myself a huge jeff goldblum fan, but he does somehow elevate everything he’s in. so that was a pleasant surprise, even though i can’t decide if i am willing to accept wes anderson’s shtick at face value or if i am starting to feel kind of annoyed by it. i wonder if he ever feels hemmed in by his own aesthetic. i do know that right after “the fantastic mr. fox” came out (which isn’t even a live-action movie), i went to a halloween party & like a third of the people there were dressed as wes anderson film characters. the same thing happened after “moonrise kingdom”. come on, guys.

i don’t want to speak too soon, but i am thinking about challenging myself to sew one new thing every week. because i can never let a birthday or a new year or a monday pass without setting myself some kind of obsessive-compulsive challenge. (i’m not trying to joke by saying that–i mean that it actually some kind of compulsive behavior that i am powerless to control.) so for my first week of being 35, i made that messenger bag. what will this week bring? i now have the serger, a pattern for a cute knit dress, & a few yards of weird floral print jersey. a dress? i’m going to try it, even though the jersey is tormenting me by sticking to itself & forming wrinkles & ridges every time i fold it in half. i’m supposed to cut some of the pattern pieces on the fold, but i am struggling to achieve an even fold. i even enlisted jared’s help, which is always a bad idea. not that this is some moral failing on his part, but it is kind of amazing that he has never once successfully helped me fold a bolt of fabric properly. maybe i just set him impossible challenges by making him work with difficult-to-fold fabrics. even once i get the cutting done, i’m a bit concerned about the fact that the jersey is so thin. i might be making myself a transparent dress. we’ll see what happens.

i’m also worried about the fact that apparently i totally do have carpal tunnel. i wasn’t able to wear my braces for a few nights because ramona was being such a velcro-obsessed terror baby, & yesterday after i cut out my dress pattern, i realized that my right hand had no feeling in it. i was like, “oh well, it’ll probably be okay in a few minutes.” fast forward several hours & my hand was still numb & excruciating bolts of pain were emanating from my wrist. so. my left hand seems to be relatively okay, but i can’t use scissors or a rotary cutter or thread a needle with my left hand. i did sleep with the brace all night last night & my hand is feeling better today.

also, jared leaves for boston tomorrow. then it will be the all-ciara-&-ramona-all-the-time comedy hour. i feel both excited & terrified. lately she has been really into saying “daddy” instead of “mama”. all day long, all i hear is, “daddy daddy daddy.” i pondered to jared last night, “i wonder if she’ll start saying mama more while you’re gone, since only mama will be around to hang out with her. or if she will just double down on her daddies, trying to conjure you ‘beetlejuice’-style.”