no preschool, yes crazy pants

i’m so stoked i get a real weekend this week! jared was out of town last weekend, so my week went straight from full-time toddler care to…full-time toddler care all weekend to…full-time toddler care all this week. i am zonked.

i enrolled ramona in a toddler art class in october, & she has been talking about it ever since. recently, at the fabric store, she was picking up skeins of embroidery floss & using them to pretend to paint on bolts of white muslin, saying, “i’m painting with the colors!” it was just like when she painted for real on the easels at art class. so i decided to go ahead & enroll her again.

she had her first class yesterday & she LOVED it. the instructor provides old shirts for the kids to use as smocks, if the parents are worried about stains (i am not), & when ramona saw one kid being changed out of her regular shirt & into a smock shirt, she insisted on taking her shirt off too. but she wasn’t terribly interested in wearing a smock. so she spent the entire class topless & got paint all over her belly, which was beyond adorable.

she painted more than twice as many pieces of art as any other kid in the class & experimented with every single art station. (there were easels, balloon painting, paint-dripping, clay, watercolors & salt, & toy trucks dipped in paint to make a track.) what’s more, she interacted in a friendly way with the other kids! usually she is really shy & retiring with other kids, but at art class & the last time i took her to toddler gym, she did a really good job mixing with other kids & holding her own when other kids tried to push her around.

at the end of art class, there’s a physical activity element to help the kids work off their energy & give the paintings a chance to dry. it’s always something different & this time it was a parachute (which i LOVED when i was little). the last time ramona took the art class, she was about 23 months old & did not participate in the activities like the other kids did. she would wander off to the side of the room & dance around in front of the mirror, or try to get out other toys (balls or hula hoops), or just try to leave the room. but this time (five or six months later), she was really into the activities & for the first time ever, she followed directions given by an adult to whom she was not related!

i was really thrilled by this because preschool has been a hot topic among the various toddler parents i know. everyone is agonizing over it & going on & on about the supposed benefits: kids learn how to get along with each other, listen to adults other than their parents, learn independence & language skills, etc. i had mainly been worried that ramona is so freaked out by other kids & does not pay a lick of attention to any adult besides me & jared. but in the last week, i think she showed me that these were things that she just needed to mature into.

& of course, i am not remotely concerned about her language skills. she’s really into butterflies right now & i overheard her in the living room last night looking at one of her butterfly books & saying, “one chrysalis, two chrysalises, three chrysalises, four chrysalises…”. this morning she strolled into the kitchen & announced, “butterflies have taste buds in their feet.”

the bad thing about art class is that it amped her up so much, she couldn’t nap after. i went in a few times to try to settle her down, & she just kept saying, “i want to paint with the colors again!” she did have some quiet (not napping) time in her crib, which i used to cut out fabric for a muslin of the vogue 1411 pants. i bought some black-on-black floral ponte de roma from mood to make the final pants, but i was nervous to just cut right into it without testing the pattern first. i went to the indie fabric shop to look for appropriate fabric for a wearable muslin: it had to have moderate stretch & be generally bottom-weight, but i also wanted something non-hideous that i would wear if the pants came out okay, but not too expensive if it was a total fail.

i couldn’t find anything that fit the bill & figured i’d have to make the trek out to hancock for one of their “spot the bolt” remnant sales. i was putting it off because they have tons of fold-over elastic right now & i was worried i wouldn’t be able to stop myself from BUYING IT ALL.

but then i remembered that i had some black stretch denim in my stash earmarked for a jacket i never got around to making. perfect!

i learned recently that some people don’t like black denim & think it’s tacky & dated. who are these people? black denim is a classic! more for me, i guess.

so i spent ramona’s quiet time cutting it out, & it was such a pain in the ass because i was tracing. god, i hate tracing. but since it was for what is technically a muslin, i didn’t want to cut into the pattern in case alterations are necessary. i forget how many pattern pieces there are to these pants. more than a dozen, for sure. lots of crazy seaming. even jared, who knows nothing about sewing, was like, “wow, those pants have a lot of pattern pieces.”

for a while, i was having recurring dreams in which jared & i broke up. i don’t know why. but in one dream, we broke up while he was a contestant on “project runway,” & i was so pissed because, you know, he finally gets into sewing & has some clue what i’m talking about when i used words like “muslin” or “seam allowance,” & then we break up? unjust. in any case, we are not actually breaking up. i have no idea what all those dreams were about.

achievement unlocked: six-gore boiled wool skirt

ta da! i finished sewing up one of the patterns i drafted the other day!

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this is a pretty basic six-gore skirt, but i altered the front panels on either side to have side-slant pockets. this was pretty thrilling for me because constructing side-slant pockets is new to me. i basted viewfinder print fabric to the tops of the pocket panels to make this a little more exciting than a basic black wool skirt. i also made piping from the viewfinder print for the front seams.

i made a waistband out of wool interfaced with canvas. i wanted the skirt to close on the side with an invisible zipper & to button on the waistband. i’ve never ever done a buttonhole before & was not feeling optimistic about starting on two layers of boiled wool with two layers of canvas sandwiched in between.

so. after ramona went to bed last night, i got out my buttonhole foot & sewing machine manual. it took a few read-throughs to understand how to use the foot. i made a test buttonhole with scrap wool & canvas & it was a disaster. both my fabric & thread were black so i couldn’t even really see what was happening when the buttonhole would get stuck.

i tried again with pastel pink thread so i could see what was going on & decided i needed to experiment with a longer stitch length. i doubled the stitch length from 1.5 to 3 & after that, it was smooth sailing, with just a little coaxing from me. i went ahead & put the buttonhole on my waistband last night before i went to bed.

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i said in my last post that maybe this will open a whole new world of buttonholes to me. i think maybe it did! it was so weirdly thrilling to just…make a buttonhole! & it actually functions!

i also made bias tape out of viewfinder fabric to enclose the waistband seam & turn under the hem.

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the inside waistband!

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the hem!

if i am being really critical, i think maybe the skirt is just a little too long. i think it looks too long when i’m barefoot, but it looks okay with shoes. it’s the perfect length when i’m sitting. i don’t know! i can’t decide.

it’s also too big in the waist, which is weird, because the whole time i was sewing it, i was convinced that it was going to be too small. when it was all constructed except for the side seam with the zipper & the waistband, i tried it on & was like, “oh, it’s just a hair too small.” but i also thought that would somehow magically be fixed by the waistband (???) & somehow (???) i guess it was. i’m going to move the button over to cinch the waistband a little tighter. i think the skirt itself is a perfect fit.

also, if i am going to critique my own sewing skills: WTF invisible zippers?! i used an invisible zipper foot & actually had a devil of a time because i sewed a few stitches over the coils, meaning i sewed really, really close to the zipper, but when it’s all zipped up, there’s still tape peeking out. this wool is kind of squashy, so i couldn’t get a really crisp press with it, but i still feel like somehow i am screwing up somehow. oh well. better luck next time.

i’m excited by all the skill-builders that went into this skirt! my first buttonhole, my first pocket drafting 100% from scratch, my first decent attempt at a hong kong finish. this is why i love sewing. there’s always something new to learn.

i will also note that this skirt looks better in motion than it does just standing still. the wool has a nice swingy drape & a lot of movement. it’s also kind of perfect for a 60-degree day like today. it keeps my legs warm enough without tights, but i’m not too warm. i think this skirt will get a lot of play during the transitional seasons.

i like my beer cheap & domestic, same way i like my men

today during ramona’s nap, i drafted two patterns. neither is terribly sophisticated, of course, since i don’t have much experience crafting garment patterns from scratch. one is a pair of tap shorts. you know, like slinky, silky shorty-shorts. i’ve decided that might be a good project to use up some lightweight tricot i’ve had taking up real estate in my garment fabrics bin for nearly a year. i figure tap shorts are a good self-drafting experiment because they are not at all fitted. & i can wear them as pajamas when it’s hot out!

the other is a six-gored skirt with a separate waistband & side-slant pockets. i’ve made a gored skirt before, but it had an elasticated waistband. this time i want to do an actual fitted waistband the closes with (gulp) a button. i feel the need to confess that i have never sewn a buttonhole. granted, i have been sewing for less than two years, but still! i’ve sewn things that called for actual buttons with buttonholes & i always fudge it with some other kind of closure (usually a snap).

honestly, the primary thing scaring me away from doing a buttonhole is the fact that so many people grouse about how their machines suck at doing buttonholes. i have a $100 basic computerized brother machine. it has yet to do me wrong, but i’ve somehow convinced myself that it’s not going to be able to handle a buttonhole. i’m actually kind of thinking about doing a bound buttonhole so i don’t have to use the buttonhole attachment on my machine, but i also want to make a shirtwaist dress & i have zero plans to do bound buttonholes on that.

i guess, best-case scenario: everything works out fine & a whole new world of buttonholes opens up to me. worst-case scenario: i guess i have to think about a machine upgrade?

anyway, i have also never drafted slash front pockets, even though i prefer the way they look compared to side seam pockets. to be honest, i got really frustrated with the various tutorials i was reading online about how to do it (& none of my clothing construction books had any tips on drafting this sort of pocket–it was just all patch pockets all the time), so i just winged it & i guess i hope it pans out.

i’m planning to make this skirt out of black boiled wool, so…i guess i should get on that. it’s not going to be cool enough in lawrence for a wool skirt for much longer.

i’m also trying to figure out how to muslin the vogue pants i’m planning to make. i want to make them out of some very stable but thin ponte de roma. i don’t really want to go out & buy new fabric (even for cheap) just to muslin something, but this is my first try with actual pants (not just pajama pants) & i want to do what i can to produce a wearable garment. i have some other ponte in my stash that i’ve decided i hate & would happily sacrifice to a muslin, but it’s a lot squashier. not sure it would give me an accurate assessment.

jared got home from his conference the other day. he was supposed to get back at around 1am. i woke up at 2:30am & he wasn’t in bed! i jumped up & raced out to the living room &…there he was, laying on the sofa with no pillows or blankets, fully-clothed. he said he was worried he would wake ramona up if he came into the bedroom, even though we go into the bedroom to go to bed literally every night of our lives after she’s asleep.

i’m so glad that he’s back because now i don’t have to cook anymore! i’m actually a pretty good cook. i just don’t like doing it. ramona surprised me though. i thought the dinner-making hour was going to be the worst part of solo parenting, because she’s usually especially desperate for attention & adventure after her nap. but every night, she just sat in the kitchen with me & played her ukulele while i listened to music or podcasts. i made tuna casserole our first night. jared HATES tuna, so that’s not something he would ever make. ramona loved it! the next night i had a craving for french toast but we didn’t have any syrup & i didn’t have the energy to go to the store, so i made french toast caramelized with cinnamon & topped it with powdered sugar, fresh whipped cream, & sliced bananas. ramona wanted no part of it.

the next night i made roasted tomatoes topped with fresh mozzarella, olive oil, & sea salt. this is one of my favorite things to eat when it’s warm out. while i was cooking, ramona couldn’t get enough of the raw tomatoes, but once they’d been roasted? forget it. poor me, i had to eat three whole tomatoes all by myself.

my final dinner was chicken tikka masala. i even bought fresh organic chicken breast specifically for this purpose. usually when jared makes chicken tikka masala, he loads it up with mushrooms & broccoli stalks & diced sweet potatoes & all kinds of weird crap. (i have this weird animosity toward sweet potatoes. i really don’t like them.) i just put in diced onions, peas, & broccoli florets. it was DELICIOUS. i literally licked my plate clean. i don’t think ramona ate a single bite.

anyway, now my long national nightmare of competently cooking for myself is over, & jared is in the other room reading to ramona, & he took her for a bike ride & they got caught in a thunderstorm. reports ramona: “the sky is making a scary noise! ramona is SOGGY! want to go outside! want to see the scary noise!”

achievement unlocked: the bronte top

well, this could have gone better.

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let’s dish about this strange pattern. incidentally, this project is the last thing i’ve sewn that has gone unblogged. at this point i’m all caught up & will have to start some sewing some new stuff.

so, this is a top designed by jennifer lauren vintage. it’s a contentious design due to the neckline detail. it folds over the shoulders envelope-style, not unlike a baby’s onesie. not AT ALL unlike a baby’s onesie.

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my two brontes.

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a baby’s onesie. (in fact, the first onesie i ever bought for ramona, like two days after i found out i was pregnant.)

some people really hate this neckline detail, but i actually loved it. i wanted to sew more tops, but i didn’t want to just sew a bunch of banded tees. i mostly only wear basic cotton tops, but i like the idea of there being SOME kind of halfways unique design feature to them. so i was very intrigued by this pattern.

the first problem i ran into was that i was confused about what fabric to use. i somehow got the idea that this pattern requires more than an average amount of stretch, & i busted my hump looking for winter-weight-type fabrics (because i wanted to make a thermal shirt-type top, a layer to go under a hoodie or sweater) that had more than 50% stretch. i don’t know where i got this idea. was it maybe in the pattern somewhere? because jennifer lauren actually has an entire blog post devoted to choosing fabric for this pattern in which she specifies the need for a fabric with like 40% stretch (which is not at all difficult to come by).

anyway, i went with a gorgeously thick black waffle knit, & a cozy heather gray french terry. even though i looooaaaathe heather gray. it was my tester fabric (& was like $3 a yard), & i figured gray is a perfectly fine neutral for under hoodies.

i graded between a size 18 & a size 20 to best match my measurements & sewed the heather gray shirt together. i had some troubles with the neckband. part of it was user error. i didn’t read the instructions thoroughly & failed to attach the ends of the neckband in the right place. the result was an incredibly ripply neckband that could not be completely fixed even with a lot of steaming. apart from that problem, the shirt came together quickly. i mean, a knit shirt is not exactly the world’s most challenging sewing. i was a little bit confused when it came time to overlap the shoulder pieces. there aren’t really any instructions for how to sew those bits together & get a smooth line over the shoulder. i just did my best & it turned out okay.

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& this was the finished result. (ps–sorry about the weird half-green picture. my preview program putzed out halfway through the upload & distorted the photo & i have no idea how to fix it, nor did i have the patience to try to get a different shot.)

you can see the rippling at the neckline & it’s also pretty obviously too big in the shoulders. & look at all that pooling fabric at the wrists! i don’t know if my fabric stretched as i sewed of if this is an egregious drafting error, but i don’t think most people with 45″ busts also have twelve-foot wingspans. there’s no need for the sleeves to be that long! obviously i could hem them to be shorter, but i just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

i was pretty confused by the fit on the finished garment. it just seemed way too big. but i wondered if maybe it was because of the fabric. the black waffle knit was thicker & plusher, so i decided to take a (dumb) chance on sewing it up in the same size to see if it would result in a closer fit.

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obviously it’s kind of hard to see details on a black shirt, but this one is perhaps even bigger! i did manage to sew the neckband properly, but i still got some rippling & it just kind of seemed too big for the shirt. it was weird & confusing.

i also had like a thousand yards of excess fabric around the shoulders. i had to tuck a lot under the shoulder join to get it to lay smoothly.

at the end of the day, i think i should have cut a pattern based on my high bust measurement to try to get a better fit through the shoulders & done a full bust adjustment. i just don’t think these shirts fit like they are “supposed” to fit. however, i still wear them all the time. that’s why it took me so long to blog them: i’m always either wearing them or they’re in the laundry. i mean, they’re too big & the sleeves are ridiculous, but they’re really cozy due to the fabric i chose.

the buttons i chose to decorate the shoulders though…*sad trombone*. i put dinosuar-shaped buttons on the black one, which ramona loves. she loves reptiles of all sorts. but i personally think it looks a little sad. probably just because the shoulders are so droopy & ill-fitting. i put vintage pearlescent buttons & red heart-shaped buttons on the gray shirt & somehow that just ended up being a kind of gross-looking color combo. i imagined it being kind of fun & valentine-y, but i don’t love the way it actually turned out. but since i mostly only wear these shirts under other layers, i haven’t done anything about it.

i do want to try this pattern again, just to try to get the fit better. it’s hard to judge if the pattern is a dud or not when i clearly sewed the wrong size. i have some baby rib knit (how perfect is that?) earmarked for that purpose, but i’m dragging my feet because i chose pink & blue & i kind of regret it because i kind of only wear black shirts.

achievement unlocked: elephant tote bag for ramona

this is one of my projects from late last year that i never wrote about.

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i made this before we went to boston for christmas. i had been flipping through the book “little one-yard wonders,” which is all projects for children that you can supposedly make with one yard of fabric. as i recall, there was some project for a kid-sized tote bag. for one reason or another, i didn’t love the pattern in the book, but decided to riff off it to make a little bag for ramona. i had this vision of her walking through the airport, carrying her own snacks & little airplane toys & books herself.

the outer fabric is the same crazy expensive cotton/linen blend i used to make her winter hat & the covers for “ella funt” #1 & a few other things. i had a yard of two left over. i lined the bag with leftover newsprint fabric i used for the sashing on the quilt i made for david & alana for christmas 2013. i also had the (not so) bright idea to put a layer of canvas in there to give the bag a little more structure. the end result is that it’s a little too structured. maybe i should have just used lightweight interfacing. the canvas wound up being just a little too hefty for such a small bag.

in an actual stroke of serendipity, i had that hot pink webbing left over from a thrift store bag i had harvested for sliders when i made my weekender bag in november. the elephant print has some hot pink in it, & green & pink is one of my favorite color combos (regardless of how preppy it is).

i wanted to sandwich the straps between the outer fabric & the lining & turn both under. sounds simple enough, right? it took me FOREVER to figure out how to do it. i wanted to stitch the straps to the lining so all the stitching holding them on would be concealed on the inside of the bag. i did a million mock-ups with paper & finally figured it out. i honestly can’t remember how i managed to do it.

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how did i manage this? no clue.

i also made a little button tab using a snap i bought for a jean jacket that has yet to be sewn. there’s a patch pocket inside the bag, & another on the back, with an expandable elasticized pocket perfectly sized to fit ramona’s sippy cups on the front.

at the end of the day, this tote is probably just a hair too big for ramona. she loves it, because she loves carrying bags (she always wants to carry my purse, or help bring in the groceries, etc), & she’ll grow into it. but she needs help getting the strap on to her shoulder. she just doesn’t yet have the coordination to do it herself.

we also had an incident in which she was in the stroller, holding the bag, & i was pushing her up a little hill. if you’ve ever pushed a stroller up an incline, you know that you tend to put a little more shoulder into it than you do just strolling down the street. she dropped the bag & it went under the stroller wheels, which stopped the stroller short, & ramona went flying. she actually caught some air before wiping out on the pavement. she had a little scratch on her chin & was super-sad. because i hadn’t strapped her in! jared was outraged with me, but you know. she’s two. sometimes she wants to ride, sometimes she wants to walk, & it’s easier for me to not have to fuss with straps every time she changes her mind. whoops. she made a speedy recovery once we got to story time & she had a snack in her.

i only have one more unblogged sewing project…not that anyone really cares. not sure who reads this or how interested they are in my sewing. but i like to document everything for my own amusement & edification.

jared gets home from his conference tonight (at like 1am, but still). i am SO RELIEVED. i’ve taken care of ramona for a solo stretch in the past, but i don’t remember it being this exhausting. there’s just so much more whining this time! i guess because she’s truly a toddler & not a baby anymore. she cries about wanting my breakfast instead of hers, or wanting me to lay down on the bed with her while she’s looking at books, or wanting to open the new box of overnight diapers, or because her ukulele is out of tune (really!) & on & on.

my friend ellen came to town yesterday to hang out with us, which was really nice. we took ramona to the park & i got to have an actual adult conversation–with someone i have known since before i had a baby, even! we went out for pizza & ellen stuck around for the bedtime routine so we could have some beers after ramona fell asleep. it’s funny how so often i feel like i don’t want to socialize because i don’t have the energy on top of wrangling a toddler full-time, but i do usually enjoy myself if i make the effort.

bonus ramona photo:
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achivement unlocked: sparkly renfrew sweater

jared left for washington DC yesterday & i used my first toddler nap of my solo parenting stint to tackle a project i’d been procrastinating on for months: doing an FBA (full bust adjustment) on my sewaholic renfrew pattern.

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i think the resulting sweater came out really well!

for the uninitiated: most patterns are drafted for a B cup. if you deviate from that standard (bigger or smaller), it behooves you to alter your pattern accordingly to achieve the best fit. i am far from a B cup. there a six-inch difference between my high bust & my full bust (that’s a lot). but i’d never done an FBA, first because i had never heard of them, & then because people made it sound like they were kind of difficult & challenging. plus doing one involves cutting up your pattern (or tracing it off & cutting up your tracing) & that scared me. indie patterns in particular are not cheap.

i made a couple of dresses last summer that used the renfrew as the bodice. i did not do FBAs on them, & the fabric i was used was stretchy enough to kind of get away with it. kind of. then i made a regular renfrew shirt, the way the pattern was intended to be made, out of some knit i got at a yard sale, & the results were…not great, bob. i very rarely wear that sweater. it’s just too small, & the fact that it’s purple with white polka dots just seems to exacerbate the problem. i’ve worn it a few times around the house, or as a layer under my hoodie, but mostly it just rots in my closet.

i had been wanting a black glittery sweater pretty much all winter but couldn’t find the right knit (despite spending hours–days, even–searching high & low). i wanted something heavy & sweater-y, with visible knit stitches. nothing sheer or light. i wanted black or dark gray, & silver glitter, not disgusting horrible gold. i finally stumbled across the fabric i used here on the mood website. it was a little pricy, but bad at all for the quality & the fact that this sweater is going to be in very heavy rotation when the weather permits. it was pretty much exactly what i was looking for!

it’s hard to photograph though. here’s a closer view:

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yeah. still kind of hard to see. but i love it!

i googled around a bit on how to do an FBA on a dart-less pattern. i had already cut out the largest size to make the purple shirt, & the bust measurement on that was a couple of inches bigger than my high bust. to get to the proper measurement for my full bust, i needed four inches, so i did a two-inch adjustment. i left the resulting width in the waist as well (since my waist is bigger than the pattern’s largest size) & added accordingly to the waistband piece.

i was surprised to discover that doing an FBA is…super-easy. i’m actually looking forward to doing FBAs on everything! look at the fit of this sweater! it’s comfortable & actually downright flattering, even though it’s such a heavy knit, it runs the risk of making a person look heavier. i don’t think i could have found something off the rack that looked this good.

anyway, construction-wise, the renfrew was nothing new to me & it all came together pretty quickly. the wool held a press quite well (for the collar, wrists, & hem band), & it got through my sewing machine with no issues. i used a ballpoint needle so as to avoid shredding the threads.

my only quibble with the final product is the fact that i think the shoulders are too big. like i said, i had originally cut out the largest size of this pattern, with the idea that i could avoid doing an FBA by simply sizing up. (yeah, it doesn’t work that way). turns out that size is too big for my shoulders. it doesn’t help that ramona is really into grabbing on to the collars of my shirts & throwing herself backwards. this sweater came off the machine a little too big in the shoulders/neckline, & i think ramona has stretched it out even more by yanking on it. i think i can steam it to shrink a little? anyone have any tips on that?

so! i did get some sewing done while jared was out of town! i also picked up the few notions i needed to make myself a pair of pants (leggings? we shall see how the finished product turns out), & a skirt of my own devising. i’m not sure i’ll tackle them this weekend though. i picked ramona up this morning & royally fucked up my back. it hurts to breathe. i probably shouldn’t make things worse by sitting at the sewing machine.

i also have to fret & stew over the fact that our landlady showed our house to a friend of hers this afternoon. our lease is up at the end of july, & she is of course under no obligation to renew. apparently she thought we were leaving so she offered the place to her friend. no word yet on whether or not he’ll be taking it, but…our house is amazing. it’s cheap, the location is phenomenal, & for being under 400 square feet, it feels rather spacious. it seems bigger than a lot of shitty two-bedroom apartments i have seen. we’re probably staying in lawrence for (at least) one more year & we don’t want to move, but…we may not have a choice. such a bummer. i’ve lived in this house for longer than i’ve lived anywhere, in my ENTIRE life! (it will be four years in may.) ramona has lived here for her whole life. i keep trying to look on the bright side: maybe we can find a place with two bedrooms! maybe we can have a kitchen with cabinets! it would be nice to have a medicine cabinet in the bathroom! & a normal mirror that is bigger than a hand mirror! what if we found a place where you can access the washer & dryer without having to go outside? that would be cool! …but i still don’t want to move.

achievement unlocked: pressboard

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well, here’s another little thing i made. jared & i have been using a small portable ironing board for the last several years (which can be seen tucked behind my cutting table in this photo). it’s kind of gross & small & warped from ramona sitting in it & pretending it’s a boat. using it to press yardage for garments is a pain in the ass. after i got my cutting table, it occurred to me i could make a larger pressboard!

so i did. i got a square of plywood from the hardware store, two feet square. this leaves some room along the side of the cutting table for the iron & whatever other things i have laying around. i covered it with a thrift store towel & covered that with quilting cotton. i tucked the raw edges of the quilting cotton under & used my staple gun to hold everything in place. voila!

i will mention that i considered actually buying terry cloth rather than using a towel. because i was at the fabric store before i went to goodwill, & i wasn’t sure how much terry cloth i would need & was worried the goodwill wouldn’t have any towels. i’m glad i resisted the urge, because terry cloth is surprisingly expensive, especially considering that the options at the fabric store were pretty low quality. i bought two large beach towels at the goodwill, very thick & fluffy, & only used about two-thirds of one. so this is a very economical project.

i’ve been using it for about a week now & i love it! it slides in next to my cutting table when not in use, & i made sure to purchase fairly lightweight plywood, so moving it around is no big deal. pressing on it is truly a pleasure.

i also bought a new iron. nothing fancy, just a black & decker, but it too is a joy to use. it’s a bit heavier than our old iron, which i like, & it has an automatic shut-off feature so i don’t have to stress about plugging & unplugging ten million times in the middle of a project (because you really have to press more than you sew to get a good outcome).

when i made that lady skater dress out of sweatshirt fleece last weekend, i mentioned that i melted one of the cuffs. well, i forgot about it, & two days later, jared went to press one of his oxford shirts for work & put a big black melted polyester mark on his collar. oops. he was pretty mad. i told him i’d clean the iron & try to get the mark off his shirt.

if this ever happens to you, here’s how to proceed: dampen the mark on the shirt & then freeze it. (i set a bag of frozen peas on it.) when it’s good & cold, scrape the mark off with the dull edge of a butter knife. this worked perfectly on a cotton button-down, but obviously would potentially destroy more delicate fabrics.

then i heated up the iron a bit & scraped off what black melted gunk i could with a wooden spatula. then i scrubbed it with a paste of water & baking soda. & then i scrubbed it some more with nail polish remover. (wait until the iron is 100% cold before taking nail polish remover to it.)

maybe this will work for you. i did get a lot of the gunk off this way, & my test pressing went well. i thought it was fixed. but when jared ironed his shirt the next morning, he got another black mess on it. back to the frozen peas.

i didn’t want to just continue this cycle forever, so i splashed out the $25 on a new iron. & from now on, i will always use a press cloth if i am not 100% certain of the fiber content of my fabrics.

i’m not sure what my next project will be. i feel like every project i do leads me down a rabbit hole to another new idea. last week i ordered some really cool-looking black-on-black ponte de roma i’m planning to use to make vogue 1411, some pants with really interesting seamlines. i feel somewhat hypocritical about this, because i recently went on a tear about how undignified it is to wear elastic-waist pants out of the house. but these looks really cool! not at all like the pants of a first grade teacher from 1983!

when i told jared about the fabric i was using, he said, “…& that was the last thing she sewed before she abandoned her family to follow cinderella on the ‘long cold winter’ tour.” har-di-har-har.

i also bought some black silk jersey, with the idea of making a t-shirt. but it’s really drape-y & sheer, so…there goes that idea. i was at a loss as to what to do with it, & then suddenly it was 85 degrees in lawrence (ugh–all the spider crickets are hatching) & i realized: a camisole & tap pants! perfect. i can also wear tap pants under big skirts so i have some modesty if my skirt blows up. why did this not occur to me a year ago?!

& i have some boiled wool with which i want to make a gored skirt, & some fuzzy glittery wool with which i hope to make a renfrew, adjusted to actually fit me. & i want to make a faux-moto jacket out of some leftover sweatshirt knit. & these are just garment projects (that are mainly wildly inappropriate for the weather)! i also have a whole list of quilt-y projects on board too.

jared is going off to a conference this week, so it’s going to be just me & ramona for five days. so it’s a real question mark how much sewing i will be getting done. i’ll probably just spend a lot of time collapsed on the couch with a book while she’s sleeping. she’s getting over another cold, which has been pretty tough on us. she screamed & cried hysterically for maybe 45 minutes today instead of eating lunch. i tried putting her in her crib several times & she shrieked & thrashed like she was being murdered. i gave her some water & sang some songs & tried again, & she snuggled up with her bunny & said, “want to be covered up? want the monkey blanket?” two minutes later she was asleep. who knows why she does these things? luckily, being a mom has led me to discover a seemingly bottomless well of patience i never knew i had. or maybe i just use all my patience with ramona & that’s why i am so hateful to the rest of the world.