Changing allegiances: my first knitted finished item!

Thursday 31 May 2012
To use a well worn daytime tv phrase: "here's one I prepared earlier".  I had a nasty bout of mastitis last week, backed up with a weekend to the inlaws house so I didn't get much done and am still trying to catch up in terms of washing and housework, let alone sewing and blogging. 

Actually that blog title isn't true in either aspect - I shan't be changing allegiances from sewing to knitting because I'm a terribly slow knitter and also a terrible knitter (so many dropped stitches!). It's not my first finished knitted item either, I've just repressed the memory of the ugly chocolate brown jumper that took me ages to knit but my tension was so tight that it didn't even fit when I did finally finish it.  My mum repeatedly told me to loosen my tension, much like she repeatedly told me to lower the presser foot when I was learning to sew, hence my blog name.......

Anyway, during the last month of my pregnancy I finally conceded to the aches and pains I was experiencing and gave up trying to spend some frantic last minute sewing each night.  It was just too painful to constantly move between my sewing machine, ironing board and cutting table.  But I just can't sit still and waste time watching tv, I have to keep doing something.  So while I was laying on the lounge like a beached whale I got out the knitting needles and made the baby a simple raglan sleeved cardigan in a neutral flecked grey coloured wool that I had in a big box of wool inherited from my gran.  It only took me a few weeks, and even though I thought I might be able to finish it during the labour if necessary (expecting an epidural during a long labour - ha! how funny am I?) I did actually manage to finish it a few days before Toby was born.  I think I did pretty well too - there aren't any holes in it, I didn't make too many mistakes and I managed the fancy manoeuvres like ssk (slip, slip, knit), using stitch holders - thank the internets for youtube instructional videos.  And I swear knitters use more acronyms than us sewists do - all these co, yo, bo and ss that I had to look up.

I left off sewing on the buttons until I knew what the baby turned out to be, and in a typical lazy fashion I still haven't sewn any on! This is how UFOs get made, except that I've been dressing Toby in it anyway.  Luckily I decided to make the 3-6 month size to compensate for my tension issues, and it fits the wombat perfectly since he is larger than the average 3 months old:

Look at those chubby cheeks! The chunky monkey has been putting on about 400gms each week, and he is off the charts now for his weight and height.  His legs are so chunky that when he had his vaccinations last week he didn't even flinch, let alone cry. 

Despite being terribly sick last week with mastitis (how horrible is that!), we had a good weekend at the inlaws and I'm feeling recharged.  Which is a good thing because I'm currently replacing the elastic on Anna's cloth nappies so that Toby can start using them, and it's such a mind numbing boring task but we're getting proper smiles from the little wombat now so it makes it all worthwhile:

And whilst I was in Spotlight the other day I picked up some more balls of wool on sale and have already half finished a little vest for him - hopefully I'll finish it before he busts incredilbe hulk style out of his clothes!

Jalie brilliance: Jalie #3132

Tuesday 22 May 2012
Why has it taken me this long to try out a Jalie pattern and find out how good they are? Probably because they are really expensive to get in Australia: the cheapest I found was through an ebay seller that was selling them for $20 (postage included and really fast shipping) which puts them at the same price as fancy schmancy designer Vogue patterns.

But right now I am in need of some breastfeeding friendly clothes and I've read many favourable views of Jalie #3132 so I decided to try it out myself.  It comes with a normal version and a nursing version, with or without a hood.

And the pattern lives up to the hype - it was quick and easy to sew, and functions just as it should.  It looks ok too - it's just a plain v-neck t-shirt after all, but it's what I need to hang out in the playground.  In fact I liked it so much I made three versions.  First up I made a version in the same cream and black stripe cotton interlock that I made the leggings for Toby.  I wasn't sure how it would work since it wasn't very stretchy but so far it seems just fine - the tshirt hasn't stretched out and I can still access the necessary bits.

Please excuse the crumpled look, I had been carrying around a wombat all morning! I found this version a little too long for me even though I shortened it from the pattern so it's bunched up a bit at the bottom -  I don't really like tunic tops because they finish at my widest part.  I ended up lopping a good 15cm off the pattern for the next versions.  Next up I made one in a very stretchy cotton knit in pink with a white dotty pattern, quite a departure for me as I don't normally wear pink but it was in the stash.  Unfortunately I sewed this with white thread, so the hem of the overlay part on the front is very visible:

Finally I made a version in the blue and white stripe knit that I also made leggings for Toby from (just to increase the chances of us wearing matchy matchy clothes!), jazzed up with a deep red binding at the neckline for a bit of fun.  I think this is my favourite version:

So this pattern is brilliant but still quite simple.  The pattern has a normal version and a nursing version.  The nursing version is essentially two layers - the bottom layer is full length but has cut outs at the side like thus:

there is a midriff panel sewn over the top on the outside layer to cover it all up:

which means all you have to do is lift up one to get access, but your stomach and back aren't exposed at all:

Please excuse that look on my face - I felt a bit silly taking this photo, not that you can actually see anything. 

Whilst I really like the idea of this pattern, v-necks are exactly my favourite style so I think I will try sewing the bottom layer to tops with other necklines such as boat neck (my favourite) or round neck which I think should work just fine.  It could probably even be adapted to a simple dress style too although knit dress aren't really my favourite either since they are clingy in all the wrong spots! But I am very happy at having bought this pattern because breastfeeding tops are unbelievably expensive and so I've already justified the cost of the pattern.

Thanks for all your comments to the last post -I'm amazed that so many of you are so conscious of what colours suit you when you're sewing or shopping.  I've always just picked whatever colour I liked, focusing mostly on whether the fabric type is suitable for what I'm making or whether a garment goes with other items in my wardrobe, but now I will try to make a more selective decision.

In answer to Sophie's question in the comments to the last post, I can't remember whether my mystery emailer suggested green as a colour to wear but I quite like a lot of greens and much like Mary Nanna I tend to wear whatever colours I like too.  That green suit up there in my blog header is one of my favourites, but I suppose it's a warm olive green.

And for Sew Squirrel, the rayon print is quite a large scale print so it will make a very bold dress when I make it up!  I bought it from the Remnant Warehouse in Sydney if you're after some, but I think you're in Melbourne aren't you?

musings on colour

Tuesday 15 May 2012
Quite a while ago someone sent me a lengthy email telling me that they loved my blog and the clothes I've sewn but the colours I use are all wrong for my complexion and hair/skin colouring.  Apparently greys and black are all wrong for me, and I should be wearing warm colours instead, such as browns, creams or berry colours.  The person who sent the email did leave her name (which I've since forgotten unfortunately), but the email landed in my junk folder.  While I was considering whether to be offended to receive unrequested criticism, or to be flattered that someone would take the time to send me a thoughtful, detailed email of constructive criticism, the automatic clear out of my junk folder occurred and the email was deleted before I could respond.

For the record, I decided to be flattered and accepted the email as helpful advice, so to the lovely lady who took the time to email me - thank you! I think you're totally right about grey and maybe right about black, and while I can't bring myself to completely stop sewing with those colours I have made a concerted effort to introduce more colour into my stash.

I went out shopping to find some boyish knit fabrics to make some clothes for Toby but instead picked up some fabrics for myself instead.  Totally unnecessary given the size of my stash but bought for the best reasons - they were on sale and they're pretty! First up I bought a few metres of lightweight cotton voile with a multi coloured diagonal stripe that I will make into a summer dress in a few months, possibly playing around with the direction of the stripes to create a chevron pattern (that will probably cause me a headache and a few tears creating!):

With a wrap dress in mind to make a breastfeeding friendly dress I bought this polyester knit that is a deep emerald green with a floral pattern in a navy blue.  Sounds terrible doesn't it? I promise it looks better in real life than I captured in this photo:

And lastly I picked up this vibrant rayon print that has a teensy bit of dark grey, but also a bright fuchsia colour on white background.  This will eventually become a dress, but no plans as yet (ie true stash material...).

I didn't manage to find any fabrics for Toby though - all I could see were fabrics with stripes, camouflage print or skull and cross bones which weren't really what I was after.  Thank the internets for on line shopping though - had some really cute fabrics on sale, plus I picked up another Ottobre kids magazine so I can't wait to start sewing some awesome little boy clothes.

Speaking of the little wombat, he is so strong that already at only 5 weeks he can hold his head up unsupported!  I can see a little Bam Bam Flinstone in my future.....

boy sewing

Tuesday 8 May 2012
Here's a funny story for you.  A few days before Toby was born I got worried that I didn't have enough warm baby clothes in a newborn size since Anna was a summer baby and all her newborn clothes were short sleeves or singlet suits.  So I waddled on down to the local shopping mall a few days post date and bought some long sleeve full leg bodysuits in a neutral colour.  Which Toby wore a grand total of one time before he grew out of them, being born so huge to begin with and working hard on his Buddha appearance ever since. Seriously, he has put on 1.5kg since he was born and now weighs nearly 6kg - our nickname for him is 'wombat' now!

He's now wearing clothes that Anna was wearing when she was 3 months old, which is unfortunate for him since by that age we started buying clothes of the pinkish kind for Anna and not really good for hand me downs.  So in between breastfeeds (about 2 hours), I managed to churn out six pairs of simple elastic waist pants for him saving myself a fair bit of money and increasing his wardrobe quickly:

I drafted the pattern from a pair of RTW pants that fit him, because I know from experience that the commercial sewing patterns are way too huge when it comes to baby clothes.  And despite my stash being absolutely huge, I had very little in the way of boyish fabrics which is why I had to resort to stripes in various colours ( I can feel a fabric shopping expedition coming on!).  I sewed them mostly using my overlocker, which made it very quick to make them production line style.  I even did a pretty good job in matching the stripes too:

And the little wombat seems to like them, judging by the poses he pulled when I was trying to do his 4 week photo:

The good thing about him being a wombat is that the red minkee jacket I made for him from the fabric I received from the OnlineFabricStore (that I reviewed here) fits him quite well so he'll get some good wear from it for a little while at least!

And yes those pants do match the lining of the jacket - I happened to have a very big piece of that fabric picked up from an opshop sometime ago. In fact I've nearly finished making a top for myself from the same fabric, I wonder if matching mummy and son outfits is as bad as matching mummy and daughter outfits?

A few of you have been asking how I've managed to get any sewing done - simple, I haven't been doing any housework! Ha ha, jut kidding.  I wish that were true but since having Toby the amount of washing and cleaning I have to do seems to have increased exponentially.  However because Toby has the decency to sleep for hours at a time and is happy to sit in his bouncer when awake for long periods of time I get pattern tracing and cutting out done during the day, and at night when his dad is home I palm him off as soon as I've finished feeding him so I can do some sewing for an hour or two.  All of this is totally and delightfully new to me - Anna never slept for longer than 20 minutes at a time and if she was awake she had to be held all the time so I never had a chance to get anything done.  Fingers crossed it keeps up......