Thursday, 30 January 2014

Blogger meet up jitters!

On Saturday, I'm going to my first Blogger meet up. I am ridiculously excited about it - even more excited than I am about going on holiday on Sunday - but also more than a little nervous. What if I don't recognise anyone in the flesh? What if I can't think of anything to say?

It's bizarre, but meeting Bloggers feels a little bit like meeting a celebrity (I would imagine). You know their face, you feel like you know them because of what you've read and seen, but actually you don't know them. It's like when you see a famous person on the street and for a minute think it's someone from work.

I have even been dreaming about the meet up. Luckily the meet up has gone well in all the dreams so far! No disasters, other than forgetting my stuff for the swap!

And then of course, what do you wear? It simply has to be handmade, doesn't it? I am in the fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) position of having exactly 2 handmade maternity items to choose from, so at least I won't spend hours on Saturday morning, trying everything on unable to make a decision. I just need to ensure it's clean and ironed and I am good to go!

But wait, handmade maternity clothes? Yes! I finished not one, but 2 things! No photos yet, hence no post, but I plan to remedy this at the weekend. Hopefully. As I've said, we are going on holiday on Sunday. It's a last minute booking to the Scottish Borders (and we are going for 6 nights rather than 7, PURELY so I can spend Saturday in Glasgow with a bunch of strangers! I told you I was excited!). We are staying in a cottage that looks lovely (and has already been road tested by my parents, so I know it's nice) but which has no internet access. So, unless I have the energy and presence of mind to post on Saturday night, after the meet up, it's unlikely I will get to it until we get back!
 If I don't manage, I will see you all in a week and a bit - apart from those I'll be seeing on Saturday, of course! :)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Belated Blogiversary

On Saturday it was my 1 year blogiversary. I missed it completely. I only remembered this afternoon, at work.

Oh well. It would have been nice to have marked it with a giveaway or a tutorial, but I have nothing organised. Similarly, there is little point in doing a reflections type post, given I did just that quite recently. But I wanted to at least note the occasion with a little post!

Since my last post, I have started working on an Anda variation. This should be the simplest make ever - the basic dress in its natural form is just 4 seams, some bias binding and a casing and a tie at the waist, but so far I seem to have unpicked more than I've sewn. My tension has gone a bit wonky on my sewing machine, and I managed to break 2 threads on my overlocker.  Plus, I spent a good amount of time, just staring at the cut out pieces.

With my first pregnancy, I got my energy back once into the second trimester, but this time, while not as exhausted as I was during the first 12 weeks, I am still shattered in the evenings. I think pregnancy, plus dealing with Small Boy - who has been going through a really bad behaviour phase (God, I hope it's a phase) recently - plus I've been fighting a really bad chesty cough, plus I've been really busy at work (not forgetting I am only 4 months into a new job) are all adding up! Woe is me!

The thing is I am really keen and super-inspired to sew. I just can't quite summon up the energy. I have pushed myself, even just to do a quick half hour here or there, which has helped. But the dress is still not finished. I am modifying the Anda to fit my current shape, and I think that for tired sewing, this isn't a good idea. In this state of mind/physicality, I need to be able to blindly follow instructions, without necessarily having to think about things. However, I am working on Saturday, which means I am off Monday. My plan for then is to put Small Boy into nursery and spend the day at the sewing machine. I desperately need some new clothes, so although I have a few overdue projects, this really needs to be my priority. Selfish sewing having to be a priority? What a nightmare! :)

Anyway, I shall finish my 1 year blogiversary post with a little observation about how much sewing has embedded itself in my conscious this year.

I have realised that I missed off one reflection from my recent Reflections, Inspirations, Goals post; that I have developed a complete obsession with working out how garments are put together. More often than not, I catch myself on buses and in meetings at work, looking at a garment someone is wearing and admiring the pattern placement on the pocket, wondering what the inside of a blouse looks like, or mentally trying to recreate a pleat in my head. However, I think this obsession can be best demonstrated thus:

On Tuesday I had a routine hospital appointment. When I arrived, the nurse advised that they were running really late and that I'd be better off waiting in the cafe. So I took myself off to the cafe, where I sat and drank a (decaff) latte and did some work emails on my Blackberry. When my battery and my coffee ran out, I sat for a while, people watching and thinking. My mind was wandering and I started wondering whether the RTW maternity dress I was wearing had elastic at the empire waistline. I  pulled on the waist and it felt stretchy, but the dress is made of jersey, so would have some stretch anyway. The style of the dress is a fake wrap over (similar to Cake's Tiramisu, but less well designed), quite low - so low in fact that I had to wear a vest (cami/singlet) underneath. As the neckline was low, I pulled it out a bit and glanced down to see if it was elasticated. It was. It actually had clear elastic which had been applied with an overlocker - the elastic being held in a casing created by the stitches. I'd never seen that before, so I pulled the neckline out further with one hand to get a good look, turning and twisting the seam around with the other.

It was at this point that I realised I was sitting alone, in full view, in a busy cafe, looking down my dress, with my hand down there for good measure! I quickly let go of the dress and decided that actually it might be better to go to the shop and buy a magazine to pass the time.

Obsessed much?!


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Maternity Sewing Thoughts

In my last post I referred to the fact that I would like to sew as much of my maternity wardrobe as possible. Given that I actually don't usually want to replace my RTW wardrobe, I'm not sure what is driving this, other than... I can! I also haven't actually seen much in the way of exciting maternity RTW around.

I recently took my old maternity wardrobe down from the suitcase on top of the wardrobe, and I also took the opportunity to pack away some of my normal clothes that no longer fit (sniff… goodbye old friends), in a bid to make dressing in the morning a bit simpler. Instead I have been left with a giant hole in my wardrobe. When I was pregnant with Small Boy, I borrowed quite a lot of maternity clothes, so my true maternity wardrobe is somewhat limited, and only features a handful of dresses and a couple of tops. What I do have is 4 years old, and has been worn A LOT. There are now things I have gone off, and some things that are just looking a bit shabby. Plus, I seem to have lost some items.

So, I need dresses, tops, trousers and skirts to cover casual and work wear.

Some thoughts:
I can't make trousers or jeans so these are obvious candidates to buy.
For financial reasons, I don't want to buy a lot of maternity patterns, so I need to try to use patterns that have life beyond maternity, that I have already, or that are free.
I probably need a lot of cake, but will allow myself a bit of frosting.

I have considered a few options, but the strongest candidates, I think, are the Made by Rae Washi dress and the Burda Anda dress. I already own the Anda, but have never made it. I'm not convinced I will actually wear the Washi once no longer pregnant, as I generally don't like empire line style, so I am breaking my own rule already but the style seems perfect, plus it already has a shirred back, allowing for comfort and rib cage expansion. Elastic is good when pregnant. 

Washi Dress

Anda Dress
Megan Nielsen Virginia leggings. I am not a huge wearer of leggings normally, but they are comfy. I am thinking possibly in a ponte.
Possibly a standard to maternity jeans refashion. There are a few tutorials on how to do this online.
Gathered elastic skirt a la Shivani

Virginia Leggings
My mum gave me the Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity Tee pattern for my birthday, so i will definitely make a couple of these. Kathryn, of Kathryn's Busytown, has very kindly offered to lend me her Perfect Nursing Tee pattern. If she is happy to do that, I will be eternally grateful, and will also make a couple of these too. This style is very similar to one of the lost tops I had previously. 
There is one maternity top that I made last time around, which was extremely unflattering, but I made it in lovely Liberty Tana Lawn, so I am hoping to be able to do a bit of refashioning to try to make it more wearable for this time.
The Washi can also be made in tunic length, which would work with the leggings.
Scout tee. My burgundy colour one is still going strong, although is starting to get a little tight. I am considering just sizing up and making this in a drapier fabric. Actually, the Hemlock may work too.

Perfect Nursing Tee
Ruched Maternity Tee
I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to Maternity tutorials and inspiration, which may well deviate me away from some of the above.

One final thing I'd like to make myself, that doesn't fit into any of the above categories, is a dressing gown. A lightweight cotton one. I have a pattern in the Liberty Book of Home Sewing that is designed to be made up in Liberty silk. Gorgeous, but for practicality and cost reasons, I think a cotton lawn would suffice! Something pretty to wear in hospital and for wearing on the days when I don't quite manage to get dressed until 3pm!

If you've been following my blog for a wee while, you will know that now I have documented this, I am unlikely to stick to it. Remember my summer sewing plans for last year? But actually, as long as I keep in mind that I need a limited number of tops, bottoms and dresses, and that I make them in a combination that work together, that doesn't matter. The above are my thoughts just now. If I decide the Anda doesn't work, or I don't actually want to wear leggings, then I just need to come up with something else instead.


Friday, 3 January 2014

Reflections, Inspirations and Goals

In my last post, I mentioned that I wasn't going to bother with continuing the Top 5 thread of reflections, goals and inspirations, but having given it some thought, I thought I might after all. I find these so interesting to read for other people - hopefully you will think the same, although it does all feel rather self-indulgent!

1. I might buy less RTW, but I still impulse buy fabric and patterns.
My goal with sewing has never been to replace RTW. It has a place in my life and my wardrobe, and I am comfortable with that. Since I started sewing and reading blogs, however, I have been conscious about the quality of the clothes I buy. I'd love to say I only buy ethically made clothing, and that I know where every garment was produced, but I don't. To offset this, I try to buy quality as then it lasts longer and I buy fewer garments.This is working well, but I seem to have just shifted the impulse buy mentality to sewing stuff instead: tools, patterns, fabrics, haberdashery! I'm not sure this is much of an improvement.

2. I am not realistic about what I am able to achieve.
From a time perspective, I mean. I am often guilty of thinking I can finish a garment sooner than I can, which often leads to frustration and rush sewing (case in point: my Fall for Cotton blouse).

3. I got better at fit.
Actually, I tried! Previously I didn't bother. I still have a LONG way to go on this, but I definitely made some improvements. Starting to make muslins was a step in the right direction. Of course, none of this helps with point 2!

4. I love blogging!
I truly do! I never thought I would stick at this, but in a fortnight's time, it will be my 1 year blogiversary! God knows what I'll now write in my anniversary post! I've covered it all here.

5. I still cannot always make my perfect garment, because I struggle to find the right fabric.
I have written about this before. I don't know if I am just particularly fussy (probably), but I often struggle to find the "perfect" fabric, meaning that ideal garment is still elusive.

1. RTW
2. Bloggers
3. Pinterest
4. People on the street
These are where I get both my buying and my sewing inspiration from. I noticed this year that I started buying magazines a lot less, as I got bored with them telling me what I had to wear, but I have always looked to the shops and to people for inspiration on what to wear. I really miss my London commuting days for that. Pinterest and blogs have added an extra dimension to this. I think what has been interesting for me, is that when I first started reading blogs I was only interested in those that reflected my style, or the style I wanted/wished I had. But now, even if a blogger has a very different sense of style to mine, I can still get inspiration from her (or him) in terms of details, techniques, fabric choice etc. That's been quite an eye opener for me.

I have many sewing goals that need to be put on hold this year due to the pregnancy (and ensuing baby). In the meantime, I have a few thoughts. I am wary of calling them goals, they are more aspirations. Things I would like to achieve. These are nice-to-haves, not a to-do list.

1. Continue to sew and blog as often as possible.
2. Sew/refashion as much of my maternity wardrobe as possible. Because I am not seeing much maternity RTW that is inspiring me!
3. Clear out fabric and pattern stash. Neither are huge, but neither is my storage space. I need to review what I have, be honest about what I will actually use, use that and get rid of the rest.
4. Gain a better understanding of fabrics and their qualities e.g. handle, drape, correct uses. I am wondering whether I should start to create a little fabric swatch card or book to help with this. This may help with buying fabric online, which would open up the range of fabrics available to me.
5. Be more realistic about my sewing plans! Acknowledge how little time I have, and how long I take. Do not over-commit!
6. Get to know my overlocker! I have bought Beginner Serging on Craftsy, so this will be a help.

I realise I had also promised you my maternity sewing plans, but this post is already long enough. Given my aspiration not to over-commit, I probably need to review these anyway! Next time. I promise!
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