achievement unlocked: “paper-pieced home” blocks, part three

hey, i’m still alive! we’re moving in less than three weeks & i feel like life is a little bit hectic right now, so i’ve been kind of checked out blog-wise. i’m also not really doing any sewing aside from blocks for my big paper-pieced quilt, & i haven’t even been working on that very consistently because i’ve been so busy packing & napping & dicking around on the internet. but here are my five most recent blocks.

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women’s fancy shoe. i was not super-stoked about this pattern. that’s why i chose kind of a strange mix of fabrics for it. orange & green & brown & gray & ivory? but it actually turned out better than i expected. the sample photo in the book used a barftastic orange plaid for the sole. (i dislike orange & i’m not really into plaid, so let’s call it subjectively barftastic). it just wasn’t speaking to me. but this block is kind of a testament to what a difference fabrics can make. i also swapped out on piece of the shoe for a bit of background fabric to turn the shoe into more of a slingback than a big ol’ platform clodhopper. the pattern also called for embroidering a shoelace, but i’m not that experienced with embroidery, & i had this little scrap of ivory ribbon, so i used that instead.

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men’s fancy shoe. this is another pattern that isn’t really my jam. it’s a little too angular, pointy, & mid-century modern for me, but i gave it a whirl anyway. to be honest, i don’t super-love the way it came out. i used navy for the shoe body even though i just don’t really care for navy. then i used gray for the sole, which wound up being a little too close in shade to the navy. i really don’t like the red & white stripe detail. i regret not using a solid for that. but to my surprise, this block got a very positive response when i posted it on facebook. people were saying it was their favorite block yet! so who knows? maybe i’m just being too critical. i do like the yellow fabric i used for the background.

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this block is called “those 70s pants”. another design that did not overwhelm me with excitement. but it was definitely another chance to pair some funky fabrics. jared was like, “…yellow with flowers & green polka dots?” to be clear, if these pants were actual pants, i would be very unlikely to wear them. but the point isn’t necessarily to use fabrics to piece something you’d want for yourself if it was real. i think the fabrics i chose capture the essence of the block design. i do fear that the background fabric overwhelms it a bit, but that’s kind of just the nature of red. red is always a little harsh to my eye.

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beach bag. i had a hard time choosing fabrics for this block. usually i go in knowing at least the general colors i want to use, or knowing i want a specific print scale. i tried a million different fabrics before i settled on this combo. ultimately i decided this bright gingham would be good for the body of the bag–& it’s worth noting that this photo really does not capture the vibrancy of the colors. the gingham is purple & hot pink & it is BRIGHT. i had a matching hot pink solid to use for the handles, & the accent colors in the aqua jellyfish fabric i used to make my princess seam sailor dress last summer coordinated as well, so i used that for the zigzag element. i went with newsprint fabric for the background to balance the bright colors a little. ultimately, i don’t love the jellyfish fabric as it is deployed here, but…eh, it’s all right. this is a bag i might actually carry in real life, if it was real.

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another very mid-century modern design, this time a couch. there was no question about using wood grain print for the legs, & then i remembered i had some scraps of this hexie fabric left over from a quilt i made for ramona couple of years ago. i found a small-ish scale red & white polka dot print in my stash that coordinated really well with the red & white polka dot hexies, & i pulled a lime green solid for the cushion. at the end of the day, i kind of wonder if a green couch with a hexie print cushion might have worked better (i don’t love the places where the solid red hexies are bleeding into the polka dot background), but honestly, if i was in a furniture shop & saw a hexie print couch, i would buy it in a heartbeat, so.

i have several more blocks in various stages of completion. my original thought was that i could get all forty blocks done before we move–maybe even finish the whole quilt top. but now i’m thinking that’s really not the best use of time, & kind of unrealistic to boot. i mean, packing is going fairly well–a lot better than i expected it to go with a two-year-old underfoot. jared has cleaned out the basement & the attic & we decided to go ahead & splurge on movers because it turns out that such a thing is much more affordable than i expected. i mean, if you have a choice between renting a truck & exhausting yourself moving everything yourself & then spending the next week trying to recover while chasing after a two-year-old versus paying a couple hundred bucks to have professionals take care of it for you, i think professionals are the way to go. particularly if you are in your mid-30s or older.

& speaking of older, i turn 36 on saturday. my birthday has kind of snuck up on me this year, i guess because i’ve been more focused on the move & on the day to day responsibilities of looking after ramona. i don’t know if i’m feeling particularly impatient right now for some reason, but oh my god, her nap/bedtime routines make me want to die. she likes to sit on my lap & drink a sippy of milk before she goes into her crib. sounds okay, right? how much milk does a sippy hold? like maybe four ounces? so HOW does it take her 45 minutes to drink it? & i’m just sitting there the whole time being like, “no, i don’t want to drink your sippy. please don’t stick your fingers in my mouth. leave my glasses alone. stop scratching me with your toenails. watch your elbows, please. can you please just focus on your milk. no, i’m not going to sing ‘the wheels on the bus’ right now.” i honestly think she is at least 80% elbows, judging by how she manages to dig them into at least five different parts of my body simultaneously any time she’s within ten feet of me.

& we’re looking into buying a new (used) car! so instead of being able to collapse on to the couch in a heap with a copy of “threads” magazine or something tonight when jared gets home, we are driving to topeka to test drive a car in a CVS parking lot. as our friend bart said, “that car is gonna have  a lot of sudafed in the trunk.” a CVS parking lot in topeka is pretty much the last place i want to go today, & i don’t love the idea of dropping $2000 i don’t have on a new car, but…it will be nice to possibly own a four-door car. maybe something a little quieter than our current car.

adulting. it never stops!

achievement unlocked: “paper-pieced home” blocks, part two

i’m definitely getting faster with my paper-piecing. here are five more blocks i’ve made.

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i posted this photo last week when i wrote about how i paper-piece. i made some effort to pattern-match the white-on-red circles across seams, with mixed results. i think i did okay. obviously it could be a lot more precise. i have since refined my technique a bit to get better results. i leave my paper pattern guide on the fabric i am piecing until i’ve glued down the seam, which enables me to match edges a lot more carefully. pattern-matching is hard because even if i technically have the fabric trimmed to the correct size & angle, if it shifts up or down even 1/16″ of an inch when i sew my first seam, it throws off the entire rest of the block. but you know, that’s all part of the challenge (& hence, the fun!).

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fruit bowl! this one took FOREVER. i also ran out of fabric gluestick just as i was settling in to cut fabric. i wound up going to the grocery store & picking up a couple of three-packs of disappearing purple elmer’s gluestick & you know what? i actually like it WAY better than the expensive fabric gluestick. it’s considerably cheaper, it doesn’t dry out as quickly, the purple means i can see exactly where i’m applying it & make sure it’s only going where i want it, & it’s a little less sticky, so peeling the fabric off after the block is sewn is way easier.

this block is twenty sections, & several sections have numerous pieces. i don’t even know how many little bits of fabric this used. maybe around 75? ultimately, it turned out well. the yellow banana pops against the purple background & i think the pear is adorable. but just sewing the different sections together after everything was pieced literally took almost three hours.

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i’m all done with the kitchen blocks & have moved into “things to wear”. first up is this retro swimsuit. this is a pretty large block (the first one that was two pieces of paper taped together–& yes, i did melt the tape with my iron, whoops). since it was large, i could use a larger print. i had a little scrap of this joel dewberry aviary print left over from the amy butler poof i made last year–perfect for the swimsuit top. i coordinated it with a wood grain print for the bottoms & used pink mini pearl bracelets for the accents. i thought about using off-white instead, because i was worried that a pink print would be too busy (no solids in this block), but i took a chance & i think it paid off. the mini pearl bracelets have enough solid to tie the top & bottom together, & the crosshatch background is so delicate that the main design really pops.

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i LOVE how this sleeveless dress block came out! it’s a small-ish block, but i thought the scale of the strawberry print would still work okay as the main fabric for the dress. i picked up the darker pink from the accent berries in the belt & collar & used red for the belt buckle because it contrasted well with the blue, & because i love red & pink together. i had a hard time settling on a background fabric. my initial instinct was to go with yellow, but all my yellow prints were a little too mustard-y & i didn’t want to use a solid. this pink coordinates perfectly with the lighter pink in the accent berries & actually scales really well with the blue fabric, even though both are smaller prints. i’m surprised & pleased by how these fabrics play together.

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i wasn’t super-excited about this t-shirt block. i thought the sample used in the book was a little blah.

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see what i mean? the t-shirt color is a little dingy, & i don’t love the purple & that orange-y background together. plus, you know, t-shirts are just not as thrilling as sleeveless dresses & retro swimsuits.

none of the fabrics i was considering for the accent strip worked scale-wise & i wasn’t sure how to proceed until i unearthed a bit of that really 70s-ish apples-&-pears print, which was a hand-me-down from my old zine friend emily. it’s not something i would gravitate toward on my own, but it was perfect scale-wise for this block. i just didn’t like the colors…until i laid them against the bright yellow fabric i used for the tee. i tried a million different greens for the background (thinking it would pick up the green in the leaves of the fruit), but they all seemed too murky. then i tried these aqua squares & all the fabrics came together. i LOVE how this block came out, & it’s a real testament to the fact that fabric selection can completely make or break a block regardless of your initial response to the basic design.

i’m definitely getting faster with my piecing & learning more & more techniques for boosting my precision along the way. & i am having more fun choosing fabrics with every new block! my plan is to stitch all these blocks into a housewarming quilt for myself (we’re moving houses next month) & i am so excited, thinking about how all these different prints & colors will dress up our new bedroom. i really need to sink more time into actually packing for the move, but i don’t want to leave my sewing machine! it’s also been fun to bring jared into some of the color & fabric decisions. he has even had a few design suggestions i’ve implemented.

i also sewed myself a new dress this week–another lady skater with side-slant pockets. when it’s 94 degrees & 78% humidity, it’s all i can really handle wearing if i am being tasked with wearing real clothes (as opposed to the tank tops & tap shorts i wear around the house). no photos yet because i have been avoiding going outside. it’s cooler today & we’re going for a family walk later, so maybe i’ll get jared to take some photos this evening.

my paper-piecing process

i sewed another block from the paper-pieced home this afternoon.

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strawberry print sauce pan!

this time i took a few photos along the way so i could write about my process for making these, & a few little tricks i’ve learned. note that i am far from some kind of paper-piecing wizard. but i might have something helpful to impart to people who brand new to this kind of sewing.

first i decide what fabrics i want to use. i just love these vintage market strawberry prints, so i decided to use the yellow colorway as the accent design. i picked up the aqua flowers in that print with a solid aqua fat quarter, & used the same black print i used for the handle of the paper-pieced take-out container for the handle, rim, & knob on the sauce pan. i decided i wanted some kind of red for the background because i’m trying to use a different background color on each group of blocks. there are seven kitchen blocks in the book, & i’ve already used blue, yellow, orange, gray, & pink. the only block left after this is a fruit bowl, & obviously i’ll be using red for some of the fruit, so i went with a red background here. it also picks up the red of the strawberries. i had quite a bit of red to choose from, but went with this print because it’s pretty large (in contrast to the small prints of the strawberries & the black) & to again challenge myself to do a bit of print-matching.

so. once i’ve picked out my fabrics & pressed them (it’s easier to cut & stitch precisely with fabric that is already pressed), i print out two copies of my pattern.

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i label each section on both patterns with the fabric i will be using for it. i tried to wing it & did not do this with my first take-out container block & i wound up sewing the wrong fabric to the wrong section at least three times. i tried labeling only the pattern i’m going to cut apart to measure the fabric with another block, but some of the sections are tiny & easy to lose, & at one point, i thought i’d lost a little scrap of cut fabric & went ahead & cut & sewed a new one…& then realized i’d used the wrong fabric. so. now i double the failsafes to make sure i’m using the right fabric by labeling both patterns.

on the pattern i am using as a sewing guide, i draw a line all around the outside edges to remind myself not to cut down the seam allowances there.

the other pattern is a cutting guide. i make a notation (usually just a line) on every single piece indicating where it has its initial join to the foundation block. then i cut the whole thing apart, every single tiny piece, & sort them by fabric.

one fabric at a time (instead of one pattern section at a time–this block used five sections), i use a little dab of fabric gluestick to affix each pattern guide to the fabric, making sure to leave generous seam allowances all around. sure, you can just cut fabric as you go, but a lot of paper-piecing patterns use angled lines & i always struggle with cutting the angles right to make sure i’m covering the whole block with a big enough seam allowance. the fastest way to fuck up a paper-piecing project is to make the seam allowances too small. you need to cut enough fabric to cover the entire section with a quarter-inch seam allowance all around. rough-cutting with a pattern guide makes this way easier, with the bonus that you can take this opportunity to make sure directional prints are going the way you want, & making some effort at pattern-matching if you like.

to make sure all your angles are correct, remember to affix the WRONG side of the paper to the WRONG side of the fabric. this is crucial! otherwise you’re just wasting all this prep work!

here’s what it looks like with pattern guides affixed to the fabric:

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my favorite trick: like i said, i mark the pattern guides on the seam that will be attached to the foundation fabric. i cut that edge of the fabric down to exactly 1/4″ & rough cut the rest. that way i know i’m getting the angles exactly right on directional fabrics. i’ve also tried cutting with a 1/4″ seam allowance all around right from the start, but that requires a lot of precision when piecing all the little bits together. so now i just trim the other seam allowances after i sew. that’s an easier way of getting exact seam allowances.

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rough-cut fabric, ready to be pieced!

so. then i piece piece piece. i like to piece all the sections of a pattern at once & trim & press in batches. it’s just faster compared to getting up to trim & press every single seam as it is sewn. & since everything is labeled, there’s no confusion about which fabric goes where. i use a microtex needle & a 1.4 stitch length. a really tiny stitch length perforates the paper & makes it easier to tear away after the block is done, without ripping out the stitches. i’m also using off-white fabric for all my piecing. with my first few paper-piecing projects, i saw them as an opportunity to use up bits & bobs & random thread left over from other projects, but that just looks shitty if any stitches are visible in the final project (which will happen if you don’t stitch EXACTLY–& i mean EXACTLY– over your foundation stitching as you add new pieces. so now i just use a thread color that more or less blends. problem solved.

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as i piece, i only trim down the seam allowances where another piece of fabric is going to be joined. i don’t trim the fabric overhanging the outside of the section yet. this is what the sections look like once everything is sewn & pressed, but not yet trimmed.

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this is what my block looks like with all the sections joined, but not yet trimmed to size.

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& the back. i pulled the paper that was abutting the final seam because it was getting in the way of pressing, but i try to leave as much as i can as a guide for trimming down to size.

the final size for this block was, i think, 5″ by 7″. that’s the size the block would be once sewn into a project (a quilt, a pillow, a bag, whatever). that means the unfinished size should be 5.5″ by 7.5″, so there’s a 1/4″ seam allowance all around. using the edges of the patterns, easily identified by the lines i marked at the beginning, as a rough guide, i trimmed down my block & voila! all done!

achievement unlocked: “paper-pieced home” blocks, part one

after sewing all the things & writing a million posts about it last month, i’ve been pretty checked out in june. i haven’t even been sewing much, even though i still have a few projects cut out & ready to be stitched left over from may.

a couple of weeks ago, i came across a new book called the paper-pieced home, by penny layman. i rather enjoy paper-piecing, though i’ve only done a couple of projects, & none since last summer. i kind of oscillate between garment-sewing & craft sewing. i go all in on one type for a while & then i need a break & switch to the other. i sewed so many new garments last month, i needed to turn to some crafty sewing as a palate cleanser, & penny’s book really intrigued me.

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there are so many great blocks in this book (forty in all) that i didn’t really know where to start, so i just started at the beginning & made block #1: a take-out container. i don’t have many low-volume prints in my stash, but i had this cream fabric printed with little red scissors that my friend rebecca gave to me for my birthday last year. (she used to dabble in quilting before she decided that the precision required was just not her thing.)

as you can see, my block did not come out perfectly. one of the brilliant things about penny’s patterns is that she includes little notches to show you exactly how one section is supposed to meet up with another, & i didn’t really catch on to that at first & ignored them. i also trimmed all my seam allowances as i sewed, which resulted in slightly imperfect seam allowances. that little jog along the left-hand side of the take-out container image is maybe about 1/8″, but you know. it makes a difference. i tend to use a really tiny stitch length when paper-piecing, because it perforates the paper more & makes it easier to tear the paper off after without ripping out any stitches. but obviously that makes ripping out seams a giant pain in the ass.

ultimately, i decided that i didn’t love the way my background fabric was all over the place directionally, & i made the block again from scratch.

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yay! this one turned out much better.

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next up was “espresso mug”. i thought the cup design looked more like an old-fashioned milkshake glass, & i have also been interested in working more pink into my sewing, so i turned it into a strawberry milkshake. i fussy cut the fabric for the striped straw to make sure the stripes were angled the way i wanted.

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this is the oven mitt block. i really tried to more or less keep the plus signs on the background fabric even across sections. i probably could have been a little more painstaking about print-matching, but you know. it’s a learning process. the cuff on the mitt was supposed to be paper-pieced to look like lace, but i decided to use a bit of actual lace from my stash. even though i have never seen a lace-trimmed oven mitt in my life.

side note: jared calls oven mitts “hot mitts”. is that a regionalism? he’s from boston, i’m from ohio. he even has ramona saying “hot mitt” now.

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layer cake block. i guess it’s kind of hard to see here, but the yellow print i used for the frosting has little pink flowers in it, which pick up the pink of the cakestand. the flowers’ leaves are a gray-green that coordinates well with the gray background fabric. when i made this block, i accidentally sewed one section with the wrong fabric & didn’t notice until the whole thing was constructed, pressed, & trimmed. so i appliqued the correct fabric in place & trimmed away the wrong fabric underneath. i’m not a huge fan of cake in reality, but this block makes me wish i actually owned a pink cakestand. also, the fabric i used for the plate part of the stand is the same as the fabric i used for the strawberry milkshake in the espresso mug block!

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this is fun: a cast iron pan containing a fried egg! i had plain white fabric i could have used for the white of the egg, but since i was using solid black for the pan, i decided to use a print. i have a little charm pack of mini pearl bracelets & used the white-on-white print. the egg is appliqued. i tried using the freezer paper method, but it just didn’t really work out for me. it looked a little messy. so i used my usual sew-to-interfacing-&-flip-right-side-out method, which was much easier. they are hand-stitched to the block.

the background fabric is the strawberry print from tasha noel’s newest fabric line, vintage market. i am OBSESSED with this fabric. i thought it would work well as a background print here because the rest of the block is pretty solid, & it helps underline the retro kitchen vibe. i bought a couple of yards of all three colorways (it also comes in aqua & yellow) from an etsy shop having a sale & am planning to make curtains for every room in our new house. kitchen, bathroom, dining room, bedrooms–there’s nowhere that wouldn’t look great with this fabric!

paper-piecing is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it technique. i can understand why some people loathe it. it’s time-consuming & fiddly. even though the point of paper-piecing is that it “allows for the kind of precision that guarantees perfect results every time,” it REQUIRES a degree of precision that is easy to fuck up. it also eats up a fair amount of fabric & generates a lot of tiny, useless scraps. i think the fastest i sewed one of these blocks was maybe two hours, & most took considerably longer.

BUT! i really love paper-piecing. the attention to detail that is required is really enjoyable for me, i like trying to choose the right fabrics, i like fussy-cutting little details (like the striped straw in the milkshake), & i like watching my technique get a little better with every block. i figure that if i sew up one block per day, i can sew all forty blocks in the book by the time we move, & then i can stitch them together into a lovely quilt as a housewarming gift for myself. which is ridiculous because sewing for a couple of hours everyday is probably not the best use of my time when i have an entire house to pack up (on top of all the usual daily living things: taking care of ramona, paying bills, showering, eating, etc). & we’re moving in july. we’re not going to be using quilts then. but i guess if i get the quilt top done in the next month or two, i can take my time hand-quilting it & have something really nice ready to roll once the weather gets cold again.

so! watch this space for more paper-pieced blocks…& other things–i do have a few more garment projects planned. i’ve also been asked to make custom aprons for a local business, so we’ll see if that goes anywhere.

achievement unlocked: an army of black t-shirts

are you ready for a black t-shirt parade? I realized instantly upon starting me-made may that self-made black t-shirts were a major hole in my wardrobe. it was something i had been planning to correct for a while, but i kept getting sidetracked by sewing brighter, more colorful things. i finally bought a few yards of black jersey & rectified the issue.

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deer & doe plantain tee, which is a free pattern! the size range is a little bit limited. i sewed the largest size here with no alterations & as you can see, the fit does not match the technical drawing. it’s supposed to be a little looser & more flowy around the waist & hips. the fit is okay with me because i prefer more fitted tees, but you know. full disclosure & everything. i suspect i could achieve the intended fit with a bit of an FBA. i also had some problems sewing the neckband. i think it was a combo of uneven stretching & not topstitching close enough to the seamline. it’s just a little bit bumpy.

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renfrew tee. i cut the largest size & did a 2″ FBA, rotating the excess into the hem. this shirt is super-comfy & i love it. i wish the neckband looked a little better. i stabilized the neckline with clear elastic, like i always do with knits, but it caused some issues with turning & topstitching. alas. this shirt also feels hotter than the other black tees i made, even though they were all cut from the same fabric. maybe because of the waistband hem?

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brontë tee. i think i cut a 12 in the shoulders & graded out to a 16 at the waist? i like the fit pretty well. the thing is, my measurements fluctuate like crazy. i added three inches to my waistline during the month of may, & i’m sure by july i will have lost three inches. so a t-shirt that fits perfectly one day is putting my belly button on display the next. i don’t know why this happens. i’m just trying to explain why i say i’m okay with the fit even though it looks tight (& a little blurry–sorry) in this photo. i really love this shirt & wear it all the time. i’m especially pleased with the pink buttons, which add a little color & coordinate with a lot of my skirts.

& lastly…

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the dastardly anne tee by bluegingerdoll. i was so excited about this shirt! i thought that cut-out was going to be so cute! best of all, bluegingerdoll drafts for a D cup (that’s me!) & my measurements are well within the size range!

i think i cut a straight size 16, but i bumped into problems right away putting together the PDF print-out. the shoulder yoke piece is spread over two pieces of paper & they did not match up at all. they seemed to be missing a big chunk of shoulder curve. i estimated the placement, taped the paper together, & drew in the missing lines. as you can see, the shoulder yoke is all saggy & baggy on me compared to the body of the tee. i don’t know if that’s because i didn’t estimate the missing lined correctly, if my shoulders are proportionally smaller than my torso, or if the fabric was over-worked in the process of sewing. honestly, it could be all three.

the reason the fabric may have been (ie, almost certainly was) overworked is because i could not figure out how the yoke & top of the bodice were supposed to be finished. there are band pieces you cut for them, but you just sew them on unfinished. then it says to turn them under & topstitch, & i was confused about whether you turn the whole thing under (like a facing) or just the unfinished edge of the band or what. the illustrations for this middle part of stitching seemed to indicate that the entire band is turned under, but the later illustrations (for hemming & finishing) seemed to show a band with just the unfinished edge turned under. i was also confused about where exactly to topstitch. should i be aiming to catch the edge of the band? should i stitch close to the seamline? the directions gave no guidance, & hardly anyone has sewn this pattern up yet (it’s relatively new), so i couldn’t find any info online.

i took a chance on treating the bands like facings & turned them all the way under. spoiler: i was wrong. it seems like i’m always wrong when i have to guess how to do something. i should just start identifying my instinct & then do the opposite. the result is that the peekaboo opening was super-enormous. like, there’s no way you weren’t going to show your bra. if i pulled the bodice up a little, it helped, but then the shirt was a hair too short to cover my belly. i tried stretching the yoke toward the middle & sewing it down, but that created all kinds of draglines across the shoulders. i must have sewn & picked out this thing five times, no lie. it would have been a billion times faster to just cut out & sew a whole new shirt from scratch.

the finished result is pretty *sad trombone*. the yoke is all ripply & baggy, the peekaboo cut-out is still too wide (yes, that’s my bra you see here), & although i’m not posting close-up photos so you’ll just have to take my word for it, my topstitching is the stuff of nightmares. i also feel weirdly self-conscious in it, because i feel like it shows more than it does. from my perspective, you can see right down my shirt, but if you’re facing me, it’s reasonably modest. (i mean, not mormon modest, but i’m not actually flashing anyone.)

such high hopes! so cruelly dashed! i’m thinking about trying this shirt again & being really careful to avoid over-working & making my topstitching on point. because i really like the idea of it. but if the problem is that the pattern piece is just misshaped from the start, i don’t know how to fix that. i’m also not exactly sure how to proceed if the problem is that i need a smaller size in the shoulders. just cut a smaller yoke? hmmm.

me-made may 2015: part six: the end!

i guess i better wrap-up my me-made may photos, now that it’s june. full disclosure: the N button fell off my keyboard & i can’t seem to fix it, so if i start to have a rage black-out here, it’s because it’s really hard to type normal sentences when neither your N nor your T buttons are working properly. okay.

wednesday, may 27

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i spent literally the entire day wearing RTW pajamas (if we are being honest, i was rocking a tank top & a pair of maternity sweatpants, & no, i’m not pregnant, they’re just really comfortable) & sewing. specifically, sewing this swimsuit top. so the only me-made thing i wore today was the suit when i tried it on to see if it fit. the bottoms are 100% perfect: high-waisted, full butt coverage, super comfy, don’t sag even when they’re wet (i tested them in the bathtub). the top is a giant unwearable fail. & i don’t even know how many hours i sank into it. ten? such a bummer.

thursday, may 28

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black renfrew tee, black floral ponte de roma vogue 1411 pants, elan 645 peach bra, blue & pink lady skater dress, & self-drafted black tap shorts. i took ramona to the KU speech pathology lab today to get some testing done as a follow-up to the ntrainer study she enrolled in as a newborn. the ntrainer is a kind of electronic pacifier. a baby sucks on it & it produces an electric pulse correcting their suck reflex. it’s designed to teach premature babies like ramona how to eat by mouth. (she was fed by nasogastric tube for her first few weeks of life.) honestly, by the time she enrolled in the study, she was already breastfeeding successfully a few times a day, so i don’t think it necessarily helped her much, but whatever. the point is that i sat around a lab all morning while my child was run through a battery of play-based tests (results: she is within normal developmental limits across the board save for language production, where she scored unusually high). so i just wanted to wear pants & a tee. it got all sticky & humid later so i changed into a dress.

friday, may 29

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black brontë tee with pink buttons, viewfinder print A-line skirt, self-drafted tap shorts. this skirt is so cute but it drives me insane. it’s just too short! i need to rip out the hem & see if it can be salvaged. i would probably wear it every single day of my life if it was just a little bit longer.

saturday, may 30

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black renfrew tee, black/black cherry elan 645 bra, bookshelf A-line skirt. looks a lot like what i wore yesterday, huh? i have an army of skirts made from this pattern (literally like a dozen–i didn’t even wear all of them this month) & i wear them with black t-shirts & that is basically my summer uniform. i specifically chose this skirt for this day because we went to the public library summer reading kick-off party & played “caddystacks” (mini-golf in the library). jared took it so seriously, he kept jetting off the the next hole, leaving me to wrangle ramona, our bags, our scorecard, extra clubs & balls, etc, single-handedly. but i got a lot of compliments on the skirt & a librarian took a picture of us reading in front of the fish tank for the library facebook page:

library

sunday, may 31

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flannel pajamas pants & renfrew/mccall’s 6754 mash-up. mostly i just wore my jammies all day. but one of jared’s soccer teammates was hosting a barbecue, so i put on the dress & went. i thought about skipping it because i was really tired & feeling crabby, but the lure of free pulled pork was too strong (& did turn out to be totally worth it).

& that’s it! this little exercise did help me identify some glaring wardrobe holes & clearly i have already started taking steps to address them. i sewed six t-shirts this month! maybe not the most exciting sewing, but they’re being worn a lot & that’s what counts.

i re-organized my list of things i went to sew, breaking things into more explicable categories & sorting garment sewing by season. there are still a lot of things on my summer list, but i need to slow down a little & make more time to start packing & get ready for the move. but i do already have a few new projects cut out & ready to go.

however, i’m thinking about sewing a fitted sheet first. is that insane? jared & i are kind of hard on our sheets. …ew, that sounds gross. what i mean is that i am hard on sheets because i’m a really thrashy sleeper. i’ve thrashed yet another hole in our last set of fitted sheets so we need new ones. we asked everyone we know where rich people buy their sheets, because maybe the problem is that we need fancier sheets. but i guess we don’t know any rich people because we didn’t get any useful answers. then i started thinking about how a fitted sheet is just a bunch of fabric with elastic on the corners. while that does not sound exciting to sew, it does sound easy to sew. & buying fabric & elastic is no more expensive than buying pre-made sheets, so i’m thinking about trying it. if it works, it could really open up a whole new world of customized fitted sheets for the whole family!

me-made-may 2015: part five: bacon & thunderstorms edition

another five days of what i wore…

friday, may 22

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bacon print miz mozelle dress. i specifically wore this dress on this day because we went to a local barbecue place for dinner. it’s called mr. bacon’s & it’s only open for dinner once a week for two hours. i’ve never been a big barbecue fan, but this place is AMAZING. they are also one of only two restaurants i have ever been to that managed to produce yummy macaroni & cheese. (the other is mr. bartley’s in harvard square.) the food doesn’t look like much when it comes out, & the whole restaurant is basically cubicle walls plastered with cartoon pigs. but then you taste it & you never want to eat anything else. the other great thing about this dress is that it has an elastic waist, so i had lots of room for pulled pork. sadly, maple sriracha pretzels (which seem to just be rold gold pretzels tossed in maple syrup & hot sauce but SO DELISH) weren’t on the menu this evening. a note: this pattern is actually designed for knits. i didn’t realize that until after i made the dress because i saw it on the hart’s fabric blog made up by someone who had done it in a woven, who never mentioned that it was for knits. i’ve never made it in a knit, but i bet it would be supreme comfort.

saturday, may 23

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black brontë tee with pink buttons, vogue 1411 black denim pants, turquoise tricot butterick 6031 undies, & black/black cherry elan 645 bra. it was a little bit brisk & A LOT stormy today, so i went for pants. i also just finished sewing up the tee in the morning. at this point, i bet the only person who has more brontë shirts than i do is jennifer lauren herself. sorry not sorry. this one is my fave. the fit is spot on. the undies are new too. note that they have a pink flower instead of a yellow one. now all my tricot scraps are used up, though i accidentally cut the back of these on the crossgrain. they’re still wearable. also, i learned today that if you go into hancock fabrics with an expired coupon, they just hook you up with a new one & apply it to your purchase. nice!

sunday, may 24

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flannel jammies for sleeping during the thunderstorm, jellyfish print mccall’s 6887 sailor dress, & black self-drafted tap shorts. the tap shorts are also new & i love them. they’ve been doubling as jammies when it’s hot out. anyway, i wore the dress out on a family walk in the morning. ramona wanted to ride her balance bike & jared & i wanted pastries & coffee. i instantly spilled coffee all over myself. it remains to be seen if the dress is ruined. i also did not notice that after i put it in the wash pile, ramona threw in a brown marker with no cap on it. so there’s also a big brown ink stain on the dress. it was a crayola washable marker. we’ll see how washable they really are.

monday, may 25

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floral lady skater dress & black butterick 6031 undies. the undies are also new. they’re made from silk jersey. so comfy. it was really hot & humid today so i just wanted to wear something light & comfy. a friend came to visit & she said, “you made that dress? it looks like it came from a store!” why, thank you. this was also a good outfit for sitting around & sewing. i’m trying to make a swimsuit & have run into a few issues.

tueday, may 26

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black plantain (in cotton jersey, lighter than the version i made from rayon jersey) & railroad stripe sailor shorts. long weekend is over, so i was back in action as full-time mom. i was nervous about wearing this outfit because i hadn’t worn the shorts yet & you know. when you’re wearing shorts that don’t fit right, it’s somehow so much more stressful than when any other garment doesn’t fit right. i had a splitting headache & just didn’t have the energy for any extra worries. but they wound up being totally comfy. ramona rode her bike to the library & back & i walked with her & felt fine. in fact, i’m still wearing them, even though i’m probably not going to go out again today. i didn’t instantly change into pajamas the second we got home from the library. that’s the mark of a garment that is really working for me.

so. only five days left. i wonder if i can keep this streak of at least one previously unworn-in-may item everyday going. i think i still have at least five summer-appropriate unworn garments stashed away. & i have that swimsuit i’m working on. it’s about half-finished.

i got mimi’s pander distro 20th anniversary comp zine in the mail today. (i contributed.) i’m almost scared to open the envelope. i really need to be in the right mental place to allow twenty years of zine nostalgia wash over me. i can’t even imagine how intense it was for ericka to read it. (sorry, this paragraph probably means nothing to readers who don’t know me from zines.)