anatomy of a wadder

Wednesday 22 February 2012
All week my sewing has been paralysed by my recent wadder that has been hanging over my head.  You see I really really wanted it to work, but at the moment I'm too tired and too lazy to fix it, especially since it is a maternity dress for work and I only have two weeks left at the office (6 days, but who is counting!?).  So unfortunately it will go into the UFO box waiting to either be refashioned or possibly fixed if I ever do something crazy like get pregnant again.

But in the interests of keeping it real around here, and to serve as a reminder to myself to avoid making such a fundamental mistake again in the future I thought I'd share it.  Trust me it's pretty funny 'cos it was such a stoopid mistake, but as with most things in life mistakes come about when you're rushing or just not thinking things through properly.  This was a case of both (but mostly the latter).

When I spied dress #116 in the October 2011 issue of Burda magazine I really liked it, but was unsure if it was because I had been watching too much Downton Abbey and that in reality this dress was a little too French maid costumey for real life.  Especially when you're preggers you've got to be careful not to veer into the cutesy territory.

But then I spied this dress in the window at Jigsaw for $269:

I figured there must be a trend happening for contrasting collars.  So I decided to take this rather plain black wool crepe dress made from Vogue 2818 last time I was pregnant and upfashion it since I hadn't worn it all this pregnancy.

The plan was to sew on a peter pan collar and hem band from some white wool crepe from the stash, and to cut the sleeves to a cap sleeve because we are (sort of) in summer here right now.  So I unpicked the decorative ribbon I had sewn around the neckline, the topstitching, understitching and neck seam all done in black thread on black wool crepe (my poor eyes!), and had to undo most of the empire seam as well so I could turn the bodice inside out.

Well that was a lot of boring and tedious work, which is what led me to a severe case of laziness, thoughtlessness and rushing to just finish the damn thing resulting in a major stuff up.  You see I just traced the collar from the Burda magazine, cut it out and sewed it on without thinking whether it would fit.  Too bad the Burda pattern is for a round high neck dress, and my Vogue dress is a wide necked bateau style neckline - it was never ever going to work as the curves didn't match!  But it didn't twig at this stage....

When I sewed it on, I realised the collar was too short to meet at the centre back zip but thought I could live with it extending just past the shoulder seams since it's meant to be a feature at the front anyway.  So I clipped the collar, edgestitched the neckline, sewed the bodice and lining back together at the empire waist seam (even overlocking the seam!) and tried it on.  It stuck up in the air just like this:

And that my friends is how you make a simple silly mistake befitting someone who has been sewing for 15 seconds not 15 years!

Now that I've got that off my chest hopefully I can find the motivation to get back into my sewing room - only 6 weeks before the next baby is due so I shouldn't waste this time at all!

Valentine's Day shenanigans

Tuesday 14 February 2012

This is the card I wanted to buy for my husband for Valentine's Day.  Only $2.95 at Typo.  Sadly however the Sydney city store had sold out - I guess there are a lot of people who share my bah humbug attitude! But then Anna came home from daycare with two yummy cupcakes that the kids had made and decorated that day and I *cough* accidentally ate both of them before her dad came home, I had a change of heart and we baked him a cake:

Sadly for him (but good for me) he's on a diet, since he never really lost his baby weight from the first time around.  And even luckier for me is that in this pregnancy I've gained much less weight this time around, in fact I'm at the lower end of the recommended weight gain range so I feel free to indulge a little! Here's my latest belly bump photo, at 33 weeks:

So this post is turning out a little pointless isn't it? Despite hitting third trimester fatigue, I have been doing a little bit of sewing - I manage to churn out a wadder that I'm still contemplating fixing, did a little bit of alteration to a dress and sewed some curtains.  Actually it was probably sewing the curtains that has drained my enthusiasm - sure they are simple rectangles with only long straight seams to sew, but wrangling with all that fabric and all the measuring required is so tiresome!

Hopefully I'll come back next post with a little more energy - perhaps a sugar hit is all I need!

DIY maternity shapewear

Monday 6 February 2012
I thought I'd put up another post to see if I could provoke 'anonymous' into posting another passive/aggressive comment asking"why?" like I got to the post before the previous one in relation to me still wearing high heels.  I have heard that you're not a real blogger until you get heckled on your own blog, so yay for me! Even though mine was in the gentlest way I had a chuckle.....

So.  Maternity shapewear sounds like an oxymoron or at least very absurd, but it's all about the support of the lower back and belly, the firming up of the jiggling legs and behind and smooth lines under clingy clothes is just a bonus! I posted a while back about my love for maternity Spanx (which many of you concurred with) but unfortunately I wore and washed those so frequently that they got a big run in the front over the belly panel.  Still wearable but a tad bit annoying.

I was about to buy another pair when I decided to see what else is available because there were a few annoying things about the Spanx - namely that they are made of sturdy pantyhose like material which means they grab onto knit fabrics and even some loose fitting cotton dresses so that the fabric bunches up between my legs in a most unladylike manner.  They are also quite loose across my upper back so that there was a ridge line across my back under my bra - again not flattering.

Surprisingly there's not much else out there in this style, so I decided to try a DIY version when I saw that Big W had the traditional high waisted, bicycle short style made with a satiny finish on sale.  And it worked so double yay.  Here's how I did it:

1. purchase shapewear in a size larger than you normally wear.  I did this mainly because I am a size larger (or two) than I am normally but also because I wanted this fitted but not super sucking in a drop a dress size kind of way.

2.  cut out a 'u' shape where your pregnant belly sits.  I made these back at the end of November last year so I managed to just get them on and trace around the edge of my belly before quickly taking them off - that much pressure on the belly was an awful feeling!

3. from some stretchy fabric in a similar colour (I used some swimsuit lining) cut out a 'u' shape that is a bit wider than the 'u' shape cut out from the shapewear - stretch it out over your belly to see how wide you need it.

4. sew on the stretchy fabric 'u' shaped panel to your shapewear - I just overlocked mine on but you could also use a stretch stitch.

And you're done in about 30 minutes and have probably saved about $20 or $30 too!

I'll spare you all a photo of me modelling it though - that is a sight that no one deserves to see! I will however answer the questions posted in the comments to the post before the last one:

Uta - I agree that the styles in Burda are getting better lately - I thought they were cruelly taunting me because it seemed that the bigger my waistline got the more fitted their dresses became! I can't wait to regain my figure sometime in the (fingers crossed) near future so I can make some of their more lovely styles of late.

Jean - you're right, the roundness of my bump is mostly the baby's bum is sticking out! Anna is so excited, telling everyone that her mummy has a baby in her tummy and kissing my bump frequently but I also made the mistake of telling her accurately how the baby comes out so she is now going around telling everyone that the baby will come out of my vagina! Yes it's correct but it is still disconcerting hearing that word come out of three year old's mouth....

Mysummertouch - I probably won't sew anything for the new baby (except for some more cloth nappies, thanks to Bettina for reminding me!) because I don't know what the sex is but also because I have plenty of newborn sized clothes in neutral colours leftover from Anna.  And I found that in the first few months Anna was always wrapped and mostly asleep so her outfits were never really seen anyway, so I'll make some 3 month + sized clothes after the baby arrives and I know what colour to sew.

And to anonymous who lamented that me still wearing high heels is doing his/her head in and asked why, I guess the answer is that I still can and I still have somewhere to wear them! Pretty poor answer I know, but I have always worn a suit and heels to work even though there is no official dress code and some people dress very casually, but I never feel in a work frame of mind unless I'm dressed professionally.  Plus I don't own many flat shoes and the ones I do have are pretty casual slip ons, so I feel like I'm shuffling around wearing slippers when I've got them on.  But to put your mind at rest I do wear flats when I walking to and from the office, and I certainly don't go out on my days off with Anna to the playground or the museum or the library etc wearing heels - I am so not a yummy mummy!

zero waste sewing

Thursday 2 February 2012
I've been quite intrigued by the zero waste sewing movement, given my frugal nature, my distaste for waste and the huge bags of fabric scraps I already own.  Basically zero waste sewing is, as the name suggest, generating little to no leftover fabric through careful placement of the pattern pieces on the fabric.  Personally I can't see how it could be achieved fully in most designs unless you ignore grain lines and directional prints or the nap of fabric.  But I like the philosophy behind the movement and instead like many others I try to use my larger fabric scraps in a useful manner rather than just chucking them in the bin, especially since I work in the environment sector and know the resources and energy that are used when producing textiles (even the cheap and nasty ones).

Since I'm not a quilter (and nor do I think I would ever have the patience to be one), I'm lucky to have a small child to sew for as well the odd crafty item here and there to use up my fabric scraps.  And this would be an excellent example of both.

The blue and white stripe knit fabric I used for the bodice of the dress in the last post was from an odd shaped piece of fabric I picked up from the op shop and had been in my stash a while.  So to begin with I was using up someone else's scrap but being oddly shaped I couldn't have made much more from it than the bodice top that I did.  But I also managed to eek out this tshirt for Anna since they are little bitty pattern pieces for such a little tshirt:

The pattern I used is Kwik Sew 3424 which I've used before and is such simple construction it's not worth talking about.  I made a red cotton yo yo flower (also scrap fabric!) with a button from the stash to jazz it.

I also managed to cut out a simple rectangular gathered skirt with a elasticised waistband from the solid blue knit also from my dress, using up the last of the biggish area of the fabric:

By this stage there were only random small bits of fabric left, but I still wasn't done with it.  I  made an even smaller matching t-shirt for Anna's cabbage patch doll.  Unfortunately Anna wasn't being cooperative and refused to let me take a photo of her wearing these clothes, but the cabbage patch doll was a far more willing model!

So I think I've done my best to avoid adding precious resources to limited landfill deposits.  Rest assured though that Anna, the cabbage patch doll and I will NOT be seen in public together wearing our matching fabrics......

Speaking of the cabbage patch dolls, one of my very lovely readers, Renata, who is a fellow Sydneysider, sent me an awesome package shortly after christmas:

Unbelievably Renata gifted me these very cute and hard to come by cabbage patch dolls patterns from her own pattern stash.  So thank you again Renata, although I'll probably be cursing you when I'm up to my eyeballs in fiddly teeny tiny dolls clothes!