achievement unlocked: ponte de roma V1411 pants

first, a bloggy housekeeping note: the other day, i averaged nearly 2000 hourly views. i typically get closer to 4 hourly views, so this was a huge anomaly. i can only assume my blog was linked somewhere, but i don’t have the most sophisticated blog tracking so i don’t know where all that traffic was coming from. i get a pretty steady stream of viewers coming from pregnancy forums or people looking for info on pregnancy tests, thanks to my whole thrilling negative-blood-test-even-though-i-was-pregnant saga, but these viewers were looking at all kinds of posts, including a lot of my sewing posts.

if you are visiting thanks to a link somewhere online, would you mind commenting & letting me know about the link? just because i’m curious. or, if you have a hot tip on good (free!) tracking software i can use (with a free wordpress account) to get a sense of where my traffic comes from, that would be great too.

okay, pants!

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these are the same vogue 1411 pants, designed by sandra betzina, that i made a couple of weeks ago. this time i used some black-on-black floral ponte de roma that i bought online from mood fabrics. it was easier to sew than the denim. maybe it had a little bit more stretch? it also shows the seamlines & topstitching better, which is great because that’s kind of the whole point of these pants.

rear view:

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maybe i am getting a lot of blog views because i am suddenly posting photos of my ass & myself in a bra? hmmmm.

these were pretty quick to sew up since i’d already made the pattern once. the ponte is actually really nice to wear, but could not really be pressed. not a huge problem aside from the fact that it makes the crotch seam a little bit prominent. it looks fine in the mirror, but it was hard to get a photo that didn’t just scream, “hey guys, check out my crotch!”

i suspect this post will get a high ranking in some pretty unsavory google searches.

i cut these pants in a straight size F (sandra has her own unique sizing system), which is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the sizing chart. therefore, i think this is a great plus-sized pattern. it has an extensive size range & the curved seams are super-flattering. jared’s response when i modeled the pants for him: “those make your legs look really good. like…REALLY good.” i practically had to throw a bucket of water on him.

the only alterations i made were to raise the rise in the back a tiny bit (like half an inch) & to scoop out the front crotch curve just a little bit more. i also added two inches to the hem. these are designed to end at the ankle, i guess, which would look good with heels. however, i never wear heels, so i like my pants hems to touch my foot.

i did try to add side-seam pockets, which was a colossal fail. i forgot about how the waistband adds an inch & a half to the top of the pants & i set the pockets in way too low, & it just wasn’t going to work because this pattern is designed for stretchy fabrics & relies on a certain degree of negative ease for fit. which means the pockets would inevitably gape open. trust me, it was horrific. so no pockets this time. kind of a bummer because pants without pockets are of limited utility in my life, but i guess as long as i have a purse or a jacket with pockets, it’s fine.

thus far, wearing these pants has not given me an uncontrollable urge to run away & follow cinderella on tour.

in other news, we signed the lease on a house. not the house i wrote about the other day. we could have had that house but we chose a different one for reasons that are somewhat inexplicable. they’re both great houses. the one we ended up choosing is half a block from south park (the main big city park in lawrence), two stories, equipped with a perfect little home office for jared, MORE than enough room for my sewing, & the landlord is having the interior professionally painted the colors of our choice before we move in. i haven’t lived in a single-family two-story house since i was like 16 years old. it seems so grown up. i mean, i guess i’ll be 36 when we move. that is an age that most people consider “grown up”. but of course, a secret of adulthood is that you never actually feel grown up. you always feel like a 15-year-old who has somehow conned the world into giving you a decent credit score & complementary life insurance from your credit union.

achievement unlocked: turquoise tap pants & underpants

& also the camsisole & a second pair of underpants, using butterick 6031, but those were both big fails, so i can’t say i unlocked any achievements there.

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i already wrote a little about this stuff in a previous post, but this is the details post. i drafted the tap pants myself, in an effort to have something modest-ish to wear underneath dresses, so i don’t get arrested if a gust of wind blows my skirt up. they turned out pretty well. definitely wearable, though i drafted a new pattern (yet to be sewn) because i decided i wanted a higher rise, & i wasn’t 100% in love with the crotch curve on these. i mean, it’s fine. it could just be better. i was definitely freehanding it with the drafting, with the end result being that the back of the pants is nearly identical to the front. i’d prefer something a little shapelier in the back, to accommodate things like butts.

but i have worn these under dresses & even as hot weather pajamas around the house & they’re great. the legs, including lace, are a little less than four inches long, which is perfect for me. the fabric is 40 denier tricot (i got mine from fabric.com, it’s still available) & it is delightfully cool & silky. it was also quite easy to sew with a stretch needle. some reviews on fabric.com complained that the color bled. i was nervous about that, because i didn’t pre-wash. but i didn’t have any bleeding. after a couple of washes, my white lace is just as white as ever.

i did kind of screw up stitching the waistband elastic. the thing about sewing elastic is that you need to pull it through the machine both front & back, & i forgot to pull from the back, so my stitches are all over the place. luckily i got my act together before i had to turn the elastic in, so it’s only the stitches on the inside that are janky. the ones on the outside look great.

the underpants are butterick 6031. i loooooooove them. so comfy. i want to make 10,000 more pairs. for best results, this pattern requires fabric with a fair amount of stretch. this tricot has 50% stretch. & remember to cut your stretch lace to fit the fabric. don’t stretch while you sew. it’s worth noting that the directions with the pattern are a little muddled when it comes to attaching the lace. i simply overlapped the lace & the fabric by a quarter-inch & sewed with a 2mm square zigzag. easy enough.

oh, also: i wasn’t sure how these underpants were going to fit because the technical drawing doesn’t really match the sample on the model on the envelope.

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see how the illustration looks more like bikini panties, but the model in the peach get-up seems to be wearing boy shorts? well, the finished result for me was much more like boy shorts, which was great, because that’s what i wanted.

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& here are my fails. same butterick 6031 underpants, & the longer camisole from that same pattern. the fails are my own fault.

with the underpants, i was confused about how to attach the lace. i took a chance on stretching to fit, & i also sewed it so the top edge of the lace overlapped the fabric, & i stitched along the bottom edge of the lace. then i trimmed away the excess fabric under the lace. the final result was underpants that were just too small. i was flummoxed by the directions & simply made all the wrong choices.

with the camisole, i was attempting to grade between sizes, but i was a dummy who cut the top of the camisole according to my high bust (as you might with a dress, in order to get the shoulders to fit). obviously a camisole doesn’t have shoulders that need to be fitted, & my idiocy resulted in a garment that barely fit over my rack & is unfixable.

but!

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the construction is pretty fun! the pattern comes with cup sizes, with bust darts for shaping. after you sew the dart, you cut away the excess fabric & topstitch. it’s a fun challenge to make the darts absolutely perfect with no wobbles or puckers. mine came out great. too bad it doesn’t fit.

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you are also instructed to add 1/8″ elastic to the underside of the stretch lace at the tops of the cups, to help hold them to your body. this was also kind of a fun challenge, sewing something so narrow & fiddly to something so stretchy & fussy, & having to follow a curve in the process. i think mine came out really well…too bad about the fit. i imagine a person could probably use clear elastic here if they wanted?

not that it mattered in the long run, since this wasn’t going to fit no matter what, but i also cut the body panels for the camisole on the cross-grain by accident. the tricot i had was almost a perfect square & i just wasn’t thinking clearly about which way the stretch should go. (obviously it should be traveling horizontally around your body instead of vertically from bust to hem.) whoops.

i do plan to try this camisole again, because i think it would be the perfect complement to tap pants as summer pajamas. so i will hold off on making any final decisions about how i feel about the pattern until i get a chance to sew it up properly.

i’m almost recovered from my latest illness & looking forward to hitting the sewing machine again soon. i cut out the pattern pieces for a new purse this morning, & i have a lot of other projects on the go, including a swimsuit of my own design!

movin’ on up to the east side (of the alley)

ugh, i’ve been sick since wednesday. today was my first day really getting out of bed & putting on normal pants. i feel like i’ve been sick for most of 2015 so far…& now that i really think about it, i really have been sick off & on for at least half the year so far. at the risk of being disgusting, i will confess that i actually coughed up blood the other day. jared, who is usually hard to rattle, asked if i needed to go to the hospital, but it only happened once, so i’m not gonna stress about it.

in the midst of all this illness, our ladlady texted me the following: “i just realized the text i sent you weeks ago didn’t go through. my friend does want to rent the house at the end of july.”

i think i mentioned a month or two ago that our landlady somehow got the idea that we were planning to move this summer & offered the house up to a friend of hers. when she contacted me about showing it, i was like, “uh…we were hoping to stay?” & she was totally flummoxed. in any case, she showed the house to him anyway, as is her right, & he liked it, as is his right, so we have to clear out.

it’s a pretty major bummer in a lot of ways. i’ve lived in this house for longer than i’ve ever lived anywhere in my entire life, even as a child. it’s been four years. ramona has lived here her entire life. we’re only looking to be in lawrence for one more year (though we’ve been saying that for a few years now, so…) & of course it’s a giant pain in the ass to move, only to turn around & move again a year later. we love the location, so close to downtown, & the rent is dirt cheap. yes, the house is small (only about 375 square feet), but we’ve been making it work for years now.

i was pretty pissed off when i first got her text. finding a decent place to live in lawrence is ridiculously difficult. pretty much anything that isn’t on the verge of being condemned is already leased for august by mid-march. the landlady has known for a MONTH that her friend wanted the house & just didn’t tell us, despite seeing us out in the yard, walking up the street, etc. there are some hidden jewels here & there, but you have to know the right people, run in the right circles, & keep your ear to the ground to find out about them. if you don’t mind living in some anonymous townhouse on the edge of town, finding an apartment is a snap, but if you want something with some personality, it’s nearly impossible.

thankfully, i did happen to stumble into one of the right circles at the right time (thank you, local mommy facebook group!) & tomorrow we’re hopefully going to be taking care of all the necessary paperwork on a new house. the pros: it’s a house! no sharing walls/floors/ceilings with randos who might annoy us or be annoyed by us. hardwood floors! not one, not two, but THREE bedrooms, which means ramona will have her own room, we will have our own room, & we can turn one room into a home office for jared! there’s a sunny little breakfast nook that jared has already earmarked for my sewing table! cupboards cupboards & more cupboards in the kitchen! a washer & dryer in the house, not in a scary spider-y basement that can only be accessed via a bulkhead! a fenced-in yard for ramona! central air! & it’s less than a block away from our current house (same alley), which means we’ll still be super-close to downtown, the farmer’s market, the library, etc! the only quasi-downside is that it’s a pretty big increase in rent, but i knew we were paying below-market rent for our neighborhood & never expected to find similar quality in the same location for the same price. for all the great things about this place, the rent is more than reasonable.

i mean, there are things we haven’t loved about our current house. we don’t have any cabinets, for instance. there’s only one built-in countertop in the kitchen (we provided another by owning a butcher block table), but it’s not braced well & can’t really be used for anything. our bathroom mirror is smaller than the average hand mirror, there’s no ventilation in the bathroom, the bathroom is so tiny that ramona’s potty won’t fit inside, there’s nowhere to put the litterbox except for somewhere in the kitchen (yuck), the washer & dryer can only be accessed via an outside bulkhead, the yard isn’t fenced & opens on to a busy alley, the backyard has a pond in it so ramona really couldn’t be out there alone at all even if it was fenced, & now that i’ve started listing things, i’m surprised to find that i could keep going.

i mean. we have a bathroom door. that’s a big step up from the place we had before this. & it’s not a studio apartment, unlike the place we had before that. we have not had to have the house condemned by the city, which is an improvement from the place before that. & we’ve never been victims of a home invasion here, unlike the place before that.

i guess you could say that we’re pros at making do with what we have.

anyway, now that it seems we might have a pretty decent place waiting for us, i am a lot less grumpy about having to move, & feeling more like, oh boy! when can we move?! i mean…not sharing a room with ramona anymore? she’s the greatest kid in the world, i love her more everyday, etc etc, but that is going to be AMAZING.

over the course of the four days that i have been sick, i read seven books cover to cover. i also ordered even more fabric & findings to make bras. i’ve decided the underwire on the black cherry bra is too short & it makes me want to kill someone every time i wear it. i ordered longer wires & plan to make a swap as soon as the new ones arrive. i’m still pretty far from being 100% better. i’m maybe like…20% better. but i need to get my shit together because now i have “pack up the house” added to my to-do list.

i also made a (secret) new year’s resolution to make baby quilts for everyone i know who has a baby this year. well. two people i know have already had babies, another is about to pop any second, & four others are at various stages of pregnancy. i guess i have A LOT of quilts to make if i’m actually gonna stick to this resolution. i don’t think i was thinking clearly on this one.

achievement unlocked: elan 645 black cherry bra & underpants

warning: his may be kind of a weird post for some people, because it’s all about the fact that i sewed a bra.

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you know how when you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it seems like everyone you see is pregnant? that’s kind of what bra-sewing was like for me. i decided to try my hand at sewing my own bras last fall when i read an article in “threads” magazine about sewing your own foam cups. i personally do not wear padded bras (i have no need for anything extra in that area), but a light bulb went off. hey! i could sew my own bras! what a concept!

turns out bra-sewing is pretty hot in the sewing blogosphere right now (or maybe i’m just seeing it more because i’ve been looking for it). i’m accidentally riding a bandwagon.

having a big rack seems like it must be great to those looking in from the outside. & i guess it’s true that i have never for a single moment in my life worried about being too flat-chested. but the flip side is that undergarments are more of a necessity than a fashion statement, & once you get to a certain size, it becomes increasingly difficult to find reasonably priced, attractive bras. apparently something about all the extra engineering that goes into support means they also have to be hideous & usually beige. & forget about buying a super-cute matching bra-&-panty set unless you’re willing to sell a kidney to pay for it. that’s how i got to be 35 years old without ever having a matched set of underthings.

until now!

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yeah, i used the leftover fabric to make a matching pair of underpants.

so, the bra pattern is elan 645, a full frame bra with a back closure. i think it goes up to a size 42DD. i made a 40D, not really having any idea if that was the right measurement. 40D is what i’ve been wearing in RTW bras, but that doesn’t really mean much, as i have never been professionally fitted, & certainly some of those 40Ds completely did not fit.

there seem to be several different ways to measure a person’s bra size, & they all seem to generate a different measurement. i think it’s standard to measure your ribcage & add four or five inches to get up to an even number & that’s your band size. but i read some advice online to just make your ribcage measurement your band size. for the record, my ribcage is 37 inches. so i guess i should have cut a 42D (i don’t know why i did 40 instead), but the 40 fits me pretty much perfectly.

then you measure your upper bust & then your full bust while wearing a decently-fitting bra, subtract the upper bust from the full bust, & the resulting number correlates to your cup size, with 1″ being A, 2″ is B, etc. my high bust was 38″ & my full bust was 42″, so that was D.

but then i read something about how actually you should bend over with your back parallel to the floor & measure your full bust that way. when i tried it, i got 45″, which would have been a G cup! the pattern i had on hand does not go up that high (few do), so i decided to just take a chance on 40D & see what happened.

i guess the reason i dragged my feet on making a bra for so long after acquiring the pattern is because i was confused about fabric-sourcing. my pattern gave no more information other than “use stretch fabric here & use non-stretch fabric over here”. okay? i mean, there are a lot of different stretch percentages, & there’s two-way stretch & four-way stretch, & perusing blogs & messageboards didn’t provide much illumination because even fabrics that are called the same thing, like nylon tricot, seem to have a lot of variability in their stretch. i didn’t really know where to begin.

finally i just bit the bullet & ordered a few fabric trio kits & findings kits from bra-makers supply. they had nice colors & some really pretty lace, & the whole point of me sewing my own bras is to make something pretty that i wouldn’t be able to find in my size at, say, target.

of the three kits i chose, the black & black cherry combo was my least fave. which isn’t to say i dislike it. i was just more excited about the other kits. so i decided it would be my sacrificial lamb & get sewn up first. i cut the upper cup in black cherry duoplex & black lace, the lower cup & bridge in black cherry duoplex, & the band in black powernet. i was surprised to have quite a bit of fabric left over. i probably could have eked two bras out of the fabric in one kit.

the sewing was a bit challenging, but nothing that someone who knows their way around a sewing machine couldn’t handle. i basted the lace to the upper cup instead of using spray adhesive, & that worked out fine, but using spray adhesive would probably be easier. the lace was VERY stretchy & the duoplex was not, so the lace layer kept wanting to shift around while i was sewing the upper cup to the lower cup.

i used a million pins for sewing the cups to the bridge & band, & that wound up being a big mistake. it’s worth noting here that i made elan 645 view A, which calls for stretchy fabric in the cups & non-stretch in the band. i kind of ignored that. my duoplex had some stretch, but really not much, & although the powernet is really strong & supportive, it stretches more than the duoplex. i was supposed to be easing a stretch fabric cup into a non-stretch band, but my fabrics were working the other way around, & it resulted in some pucker-y seams. i wound up picking out my first pass & trying again with no pins, which gave a much nicer (but still imperfect–probably because of the fabric choice) result.

the bra-makers supply kits are great, but the supplies included are for their house bra pattern, the pin-up girls classic. therefore my band elastic was a bit wider than my pattern requested, & i had to be a little creative sewing it to the band to avoid sewing over the cups. it’s weird because most complaints i’ve seen about elan 645 say the band is too wide. huh? i think it’s just about perfect. maybe even just a touch too narrow. anyway.

the bra-makers supply kit also doesn’t provide much strap elastic, because the pin-up girls pattern calls for fabric straps. had i been thinking ahead, i would have ordered extra strap elastic with the kit. bra-makers supply sells supplies piecemeal as well as in kit form. but i didn’t think about it so i went ahead & made my own fabric straps. i cut two pieces of duoplex 16″ by 2.25″ & interfaced them with lightweight fusible interfacing. then i folded them into thirds the narrow way & zigzagged down each side with matching thread. i stitched them directly to the front of the bra & used the hoops included in the findings kit to hold the fabric straps to the elastic straps in the back. i was supposed to make adjustable straps with sliders, but the strap elastic was too wide to fit through the slider (???) so i just skipped it. i pretty much never adjust my bra straps anyway, so once i had the whole bra constructed, i put it on & hoiked it into position & used chalk to mark where to sew the straps. the finished straps wound up being 12.75″ long.

it’s also worth noting that the instructions included with the elan pattern kind of sucked. i wound up referring a lot to the elan 645 sewalong on the hooks & wires blog, & general bra construction tips on cloth habit. for example, the instructions seemed to indicate that i should sew the entire eye part of the hooks & eye to the band. so i did, & then i had to unpick it because you’re actually only supposed to sew the edges together. it was super-fun unpicking a satin stitch, let me tell you. ugh.

but the instructions & the sewalongs were no help in my struggle to figure out how to sew the channeling. i wound up going without pins again & sewing from the top of the bra, stitching in the ditch around the cups & trying to catch the edge of the channeling as i went. that worked out okay, & it looks fine, but after the bra was done, i read in “demystifying bra construction” that you are supposed to sew the channeling to the stitching line with the channeling over the seam allowance & the seam allowance only! i don’t know if that illuminates anything for anyone but me, but i was like, “ohhhhh. yeah. that would have been a lot easier.”

in any case, it’s done! it more or less fits! the bridge stands away from my chest a little bit, & i do suspect that the cups are too small. it’s perfectly wearable. it could just be better. i traced off a size 40DD to try next time. get ready for a photo of my bra in action:

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i think i also don’t have the right size underwires, but i can’t tell if the ones i have are too big or too small. i’m leaning toward too small. but like i said, totally wearable, & honestly, better-fitting than than my RTW bras. just not perfect.

the underpants are an alteration of the underwear pattern that came with butterick 6031. as drafted, that pattern is definitely a boy shorts style, which works well in a four-way stretch, emphasis on the stretch. but duoplex only has two-way stretch, & not much of it. i added sheer panels to the sides made out of stretchier powernet (cut in one piece–i taped the pattern pieced together, overlapping the seam allowances, & traced off a panel extending four inches both front & back, plus a half-inch seam allowances for stitching to the duoplex), raised the waistline all around, & cut the legs higher in the front. the lace waistband is made from the scalloped edge of my leftover stretch lace & the legs are finished with neckline elastic i didn’t use in the bra. i probably could have stood to raise the front leg just a tiny bit more, like a quarter of an inch, but it’s fine. & it has excellent butt coverage.

the rumors are true: sewing your own bras & underpants really is addicting. i just came down with a cold so i don’t think i’m going to dive into another one until i’m feeling better, but i’m already daydreaming about color & fabric combinations for my next attempt.

sewing fail & toddler fail

i’m in a bit of a mood because in all my (two) years of sewing, i finally produced a complete, irredeemable fail. i was trying my hand at butterick 6301, a pattern for a camisole & underpants, which i had the supplies stashed away for like a year. i just kept putting it off because the idea of trying to use lingerie sliders made me feel tired & anxious. but then i accidentally bought some silk jersey that is way too sheer to make into the t-shirt i had planned. i was like, “what about a camisole & tap pants? could be cute summer jammies,” & then i remembered that i already had  camisole pattern, so.

i decided to do them up in blue tricot first, because that is the fabric i purchased for this project last year. it’s weird. my favorite color is pink but i hardly ever sew with it because i’m like, “pink is SO on the nose for me, everything i own is pink.” but i’ve been thinking that way for so long that actually almost nothing i own is pink anymore. just my towels, my comforter, & the shoelaces in my running shoes. i went through a phase ten years ago where everything i owned really was pink. i exclusively wore pink. i dyed my hair pink & had pink-framed glasses. i used to have a photo of myself at a protest in boston, chatting with some black bloc-ers, where i am all decked out in a pink t-shirt, pink cardigan, pink corduroys, pink studded belt, pink striped socks, & pink sneakers.

anyway. i graded between sizes on the camisole, which is where the fail came in. i chose a way too small size for the top. i don’t know what the hell happened. i guess i was thinking about what size i would need as far as shoulders go, but duh, it’s a fucking camisole. it doesn’t have shoulders. i voiced my concerns last night & jared was like, “too small in the boobs like in a sexy way, or in an unwearable way?” turns out it’s just straight up unwearable. & it’s such a shame, because it’s sewn really well, & a lot of the sewing was kind of fiddly. you try sewing 1/8″ elastic to stretch lace & let me know how it goes.

the underpants were also kind of a bust. the pattern said to sew stretch lace all over the place, but it didn’t say whether it should be stretched to fit or not. the only other underpants pattern i’ve ever used did use stretched-to-fit lace, & i was worried that not stretching would make the finished product too big. so i took a chance on stretching & it was the wrong choice. technically they are wearable, but honestly, they’re too small. (& not in a sexy way.)

i also sewed the tap pants i drafted a week or two ago. they were a little sad trombone, but completely wearable (& actually quite comfortable). in a perfect world, i’d like a slightly higher rise, so i think i’m going to redraft before i make another pair. i also sewed everything with a microtex needle, per butterick’s instructions, even though my instinct was to use a stretch needle. the result was lots of ugly wavy seam allowances. it doesn’t really affect the way the garments look from the outside, but it bothers me. next time i’ll go with my gut & use a stretch needle.

so. i spent an awful lot of time yesterday & today sewing & didn’t get anything out of it. except maybe a little practice sewing lingerie elastics, which is kind of useful. i still feel aggravated though. i had hoped that these would be quick palate-cleansing projects, & instead they turned into a parade of disappointments.

& ramona has been a beast lately! she’s going through a very trying phase. i think it’s called “being two” or possibly “being a child”. jared’s birthday was on saturday & it was just the worst day ever–not because of ramona. she was fine. it was just a really shitty day. we got lost in olathe for like two hours & it was just all downhill from there. & then jared’s new soccer season started on sunday, so i had to look after ramona, when weekends are usually a child care breather for me. i tried to make jared a birthday pudding (which came out delicious), but you have to whisk pudding non-stop for like half an hour if you want it to set properly & you can’t stop even if there’s a godzilla attack. ramona waited until i was twenty seconds into this project to initiate an insane screaming tantrum.

on monday, i played with her all day, read her a million books, took her to the library & the playground, etc. she repaid me by waiting until i disappeared into the basement for 90 seconds to put the laundry in the dryer & proceeded to dump an entire bag of flour all over the kitchen floor.

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on tuesday, she learned how to open jared’s desk drawers & emptied them of a ridiculous quantity of pencils, dry erase markers, chewing gum, thumbtacks, & sewing kits. sh scribbled all over herself & the walls with the dry erase markers. thank god for mr. clean magic eraser. it’s just shocking how quickly this child can make a mess.

yesterday i took her to toddler gym, thinking that she would play & i might get to read a little, or at least make a to-do list or something. the whole way to toddler gym, ramona was saying, “i’m excited! i’m going to toddler gym! i’m gonna ride the bicycles! i’m gonna put my feet on the pedals! i’m gonna play basketball!” these are all activities she can pursue at toddler gym. but when we arrived & paid our dollar, she looked around & proceeded to have a screaming meltdown for TWENTY MINUTES because there were no “horsies”. (she was thinking of this carousel thing at a nearby park.) no other parents would talk to me even after ramona calmed down & went to play. i saw a few of them looking at me like i was a monster, because i spent the entire tantrum holding ramona & singing to her while she went limp & tried to throw herself on the ground, so it probably looked like i was physically restraining/abusing her somehow. ugh.

to top it off, she has started being very inconsistent with her naps. she drags out nap preparation by claiming that she wants to use her potty, but it’s all just a scam so she can play her guitar & force me to read her stories. recently she accidentally knocked my glasses off while flailing around with her sippy, & she thought it was hilarious, so now she intentionally tries to knock my glasses off with her sippy, which i hate because a) i get covered in milk, b) she gets all riled up, & c) my glasses cost $600 & i don’t want her to break them.

i need her to nap because i need a break. she wrecks the house & demands constant snacks/attention/stories/outings while she’s awake. i can’t even brush my teeth in peace. I NEED HER TO NAP.

but hey, look how adorable she is with her new wooden toy sewing machine:
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the perils of pattern-cutting

i had surprisingly few things on my to-do list today (because i went hard yesterday & got a ton of stuff done), so i decided to spend ramona’s nap cutting out patterns. i have a gargantuan list of things i want to sew, but most of them were patterns that needed small alterations, PDFs i hadn’t even printed out yet (let alone taped together), etc. as is so often the case with everything related to sewing, this whole project wound up taking literally like fifty times longer than i expected.

i had grand plans to print out & tape together all my unprinted PDFs, cut out all my patterns, grading or making necessary alterations as needed, & pair each pattern with the fabric i plan to make it up in, along with any notions i already have on hand. then i can go back through & make a note of any other notions or supplies i need, since the big box (ie, cheap) fabric store is out on the edge of town & i don’t get there very often.

sounds like such a genius idea! but by the time two hours had passed, i only had about six patterns done. & two of them were actually based on the same pattern & actually almost entirely constructed, & two only had two pattern pieces (one of which was already cut out)…so basically i got two patterns cut out in two hours. & then ramona woke up.

i worked on printing out PDFs while ramona drove me to the very edge of sanity. back before she could walk, she was really into climbing & would constantly climb on to the table. somehow we developed a hypothesis about how maybe she wouldn’t climb on to the table so much if she had her own baby-sized table to enjoy. we got a decent discount on a floor model table at the fancy hippie baby store downtown. the table top is removeable & has storage underneath, & one side is a chalkboard. it comes with two little kid-sized benches.

even though ramona is the king kong of the toddler world (she TOWERS over her baby friends, to the point that i sometimes wonder if we should get her pituitary checked, but then i remember that people pushing seven feet tall are fairly prevalent in her family history), these benches constantly defeat her.

so. first she was crying because i was printing out PDFs & wouldn’t let her take the paper out of the printer. then she cried because she wanted crayons (which i keep in my desk drawer, & thankfully, she hasn’t yet learned how to open the drawer herself). then she cried because she couldn’t figure out how to get on to the bench while holding crayons in both hands. then she cried because her paper fell off the table. so i’m racing around printing out these PDFs & being like, “seriously? a four-inch square test square is wholly unnecessary,” & being surprised to discover that a lot of our printer paper is in really bad shape, & constantly running interference on these ridiculous baby problems of ramona’s. like, dude. just stand up & pick the paper up yourself. it’s not like you lost your legs in ‘nam.

when jared came home, he allowed ramona to persuade him to take her on a bike ride, so i got a little more done. i traced off a couple of bra patterns because i finally, FINALLY, pulled the trigger on some fabric & findings last night. & then i felt really anxious about it, even though all in all, buying stuff to sew my own bras costs less than actually buying a decent (ie, non-target, which seems to vanity size their bras, by which i mean a 40D could maybe fit a 32B, but it crushes my rib cage & makes me die) RTW bras. i started cutting out some dress patterns, until i realized i had to grade the bodices & i just didn’t have the patience for it. ditto a jacket.

but i have a few things ready to hit the sewing machine. not sure i’ll get to any of it this weekend because saturday is jared’s birthday & he’s talking a big game about going to olathe (to the “great mall of the great plains” — someone thinks a lot of themselves) to play cosmic mini-golf. we would prefer normal mini-golf, but apparently that’s not an option. & it would probably also be nice to make him a cake & maybe watch a movie or something. it’s that special three months & one week per year when we are the same age, & then i have a birthday & we go back to our mrs. robinson-esque age dynamic.

achievement unlocked: black denim vogue 1411 pants

i made pants! real pants! (mostly.)

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& the photos are kind of awful. jared took them & he did not tell me that we were having an aggressive dappled sunlight issue.

these are vogue 1411, which was released last fall. the thing that makes them special is that they have all this cool seaming. the technical drawing makes them almost look like colorblocked athletic pants, & i guess you could probably make them that way if you wanted. i just wanted regular pants. as i mentioned in my last post, i bought some cool-looking ponte de roma but was reluctant to dive right into it, so these are a wearable muslin made out of some black stretch denim that had been languishing in my stash.

i cut according to my measurements, which put me between sizes F & G at the waist (these are by sandra betzina, who employs her own unique sizing system in her patterns) & between sizes E & F at the hips. so i did my best to trace off my pattern pieces accordingly & grade from waist to hip. i also added three inches of length at the hem because the few reviews i read online said the skinny-leg version of this pattern runs a little short. this inspired jared to make up a little rhyme: “to your hem add inches three/so your pants are not capri.”

size-wise, i think the finished product is probably a little too big at the waist & a little too snug in the legs. so when i do the ponte de roma version, i think i might just cut a straight size F.

as far as construction, it was all surprisingly straightforward, given how many pattern pieces there are (six for each leg). they fit together kind of like a puzzle, & there are some subtly curved seams that required a bit of easing. it’s important to a) cut your fabric with the grain line going the right way, & b) label your pieces after you cut them out. the grain lines are not always intuitive because of the curving seams, & it’s not really obvious which pieces goes where if you’re trying to put the pieces together unlabeled.

hey, here’s a rear view on the pants!

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you have to be careful while sewing to make sure you don’t get any puckers where you’re easing two pattern pieces together. pinning & pressing are key.

the pattern calls for topstitching on either side of a seam with a twin needle. my first twin needle instantly broke when it hit an intersection of two seam lines & couldn’t cope with the denim pile-up there. the only other twin needle i had was way too narrow. (the pattern calls for 3 centimeters.) so…i just topstitched along each side individually with a single needle. i considered using contrasting thread but couldn’t settle on a color. any color you use on black pants is going to make a statement, so i just went with black. which means you pretty much can’t see my topstitching at all. oh well.

the thing that makes me feel weirdest about these pants is that…they have an elastic waist. yeah, they’re basically jeggings. it’s funny because i was just railing against the evils of elastic waist pants that are worn outside the house (i am all for them on pajama pants) like maybe a month ago. but the reality is that i never wear untucked shirts so no one really needs to know.

worth noting: the required notions tell you to buy 1.5″ elastic for the waistband. but the waistband fabric is only two inches wide when folded over, & if you sew that with the suggested 5/8″ seam allowance, obviously your 1.5″ elastic is not going to fit in the channel. the actual written instructions inside the envelope call for 1″ elastic. i bought my notions before i read the instructions. *sad trombone* so i cut my elastic down. i could have also used a narrower seam allowance on the waistband, but it was already sewn before i realized the problem.

so i stitched these up last night & put them on &…possibly they are jared’s #1 favorite thing i have ever sewn. he kept going on & on about how great my legs looked, & trust when i say he doesn’t just go around saying stuff like that all the time. these are a skinnier silhouette than i usually wear, because i have never liked how i look in RTW skinny jeans. (i prefer straight leg.) but i agree that these look really good. i think the diagonal seams on the legs create really flattering lines.

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they even look good from the side, which is usually not my favorite angle for myself!

there are a few little tweaks i plan to make next time. i could use a slightly higher rise in the back & slightly deeper scoop in the front crotch. but ultimately, these are very wearable pants right out of the envelope (for me).

&! this is a good pattern for plus sizes. i’m usually way in the upper range of pants sizes at regular retail stores, but i’m kind of in the middle of the pack for the size range on these pants.

unfortunately, they do not have pockets! i drafted some angled patch pockets for the front, lined with some weird pink & white chevron print i got in a stash box. they are functional–i can carry my keys & fitbit & ipod now, which is crucial because summer is nearly here & i won’t have a hoodie with me all the time. they do kind of screw up the sleek look of the upper portion of the pants. jared was like, “… … …,” when i asked what he thought. i might try side seam pockets next time.

but whatevs, i am just so stoked to have actual outside-the-house pants in my self-sewn wardrobe! i wear jeans & tees pretty much everyday & it’s been bumming me out to have to rely on RTW jeans. i will definitely make this pattern again & hopefully many more other pants patterns in the future!

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