Saturday, 31 March 2012

New Look 6429: the little dress that goes the distance

My official due date was yesterday.  And I'm still pregnant.  But since Anna was two weeks late, I really wasn't expecting this one to come early or on time anyway.  So no big deal. Yet.  I don't mind waiting for another week or so, but I really don't want my labour to be chemically induced again, so I'm doing everything I possibly can to get things started.  So far, this includes:
  • acupuncture - I've had a session a week for the last month which supposedly prepares my body for labour and the last session was supposed to actually bring on labour. In fact the acupuncturist was so certain that my last session last Tuesday night would be so successful that she refused to make another appointment - she reluctantly made another one today. But even if it hasn't achieved the intended purpose I have been feeling so much better after each session with less aches and pains and more energy, so I guess it has achieved something.
  • massage - I've had a pregnancy massage, and have been making my husband massage my lower back (where the pressure points are) with a clary sage and jasmine oil mix.  Even if that hasn't worked it's been nice anyway!
  • extreme housework - I haven't had the nesting urge too strongly this time, but our two year old dishwasher had other plans when it's waters broke all over the kitchen floor.  So after mopping up the floor I then had to track down the receipt and warranty papers which meant a search through nearly every part of our house, so I had a major cull and clean as I went.  Plus with my husband at work during the day I've used the opportunity to chuck out a lot of his junk - he is such a hoarder!
  • eating curries and fresh pineapple as often as I can stand it.
  • exercise - I've been walking waddling around a fair bit, and I even got out the Nintendo Wii the other day and did some virtual hula hooping hooping.  Lucky no one was home because I probably looked ridiculous!
  • gettin' bizzy - according to Dr.Google, the only thing guaranteed to bring on labour apart from chemicals is to have *ahem* adult cuddles and squeeze one's nipples (sorry mum and anyone else if that's too much information!).  Hasn't worked, and in fact I now think it's a conspiracy theory spread by male doctors to keep husbands happy.....
  • herbal tea - I've been drinking raspberry leaf tea by the gallon every day, which again hasn't achieved anything but has added to my exercise levels going to and from the toilet frequently.
  • tempting fate - in an effort to invoke Murphy's Law I've left a lot of things to the last minute.  Hospital bag? Not packed yet.  Second child seat purchased but not installed.  A pregnancy massage booked in for next Monday, a haircut on Tuesday and another acupuncture session on Wednesday.  Surely that's enough forward plans to be ruined by a spontaneous labour?
Does anyone else have any suggestions that worked for them? The only thing I haven't done that I've heard about is taking some castor oil - I'm a bit reluctant since it sounds horrible and I don't particularly want to have diarrhea and nausea at this stage, but I'm not ruling it out at the two week mark!

So as you can all imagine when you get this hugely pregnant wardrobe options shrink rapidly, even if you have been sewing a lot of things.  Luckily I have a jersey knit dress I made using New Look 6429 (now OOP) which is not even a maternity pattern and I made it before I even got pregnant because it just keeps stretching and stretching.  Sure the seams are starting to stretch, but no popped stitches so far and since I overlocked it I'm somewhat confident it's not going to fall apart whilst I'm wearing it.  This is what the pattern looks like:

It's has loads of positive reviews on pattern review and blogs, but I never particularly liked it.  The gathers across the stomach created a bit of a saggy pouch effect on my previously flat stomach in an unflattering way, and the v seaming at the back where the skirt attaches to the bodice seemed to accentuate my rather wide derriere.  I made this dress long before I started blogging (maybe 5 or 6 years ago now) but never really wore this dress at all until I got pregnant - because then the gathers across the stomach created a much needed pouch for a growing belly and I started to care less about the rear view anyway!

Here's how it looked at 18 weeks:


And here's how it looked today at 40 weeks +1 day:




I'm not particularly a fan of knit dresses - they are too clingy for me and I like structured pieces more, but I have to admit that it's ideal for a body shape of extremes! Hopefully it's next wear will be a rapidly deflating belly....

Thursday, 29 March 2012

take that, Dora the Explorer!

I think I've mentioned before that Anna's favourite dress is a Dora the Explorer dress that was given to us amongst a big bag of hand-me-down clothes last year.  As much as I love hand me downs, I don't love licensed clothing very much so I had put it to the back of her wardrobe, planning to refashion it by appliqueing over the Dora picture.  But Anna discovered it before I did and has pretty much worn it on high frequency ever since.

And this is the offending garment:


For a licensed clothing garment it isn't so bad really, it only has one small picture of Dora and her trusty sidekick Boots on the front, it's red cotton and not a neon coloured polyester and it has some cute white crochet detail to the shoulder.  Plus it does this which is a favourite past time of late:


Perhaps why I dislike it so much is that her favourite garment isn't something I've sewn for her.  How dare she prefer a hand me down dress made in a sweatshop in China over something lovingly handmade by her own mother? So I decided to challenge Dora in the favourite dress category.

I let Anna choose the fabric from the stash, and she chose a pretty floral cotton drill which is probably a bit too heavy weight for the style but at least it will withstand a lot of wear and it helps give it a very flared finish due to its stiffness. 

Using McCalls 4817 which I bought one time when sewingpatterns.com had a 99c pattern sale - even with their exorbitant shipping charges the overall price was still cheaper than what I could get here in Australia, this is my challenger to the title of favourite dress:



The back has a little bow tie detail which is nice, but doing the gathers on those three tiers nearly drove me nuts - the bottom tier is 1.6m wide. In fact doing the gathers annoyed me so much I went out and bought a ruffle foot shortly after sewing this!  I made a size 2 pattern except I used the length of a size 4 pattern since Anna is a bit of bean pole and the fit is pretty good.

And how does one accessorise a pretty dress like this? With frilly socks and purple Converse high tops of course!


Anna has now declared this her favourite dress now and has worn it frequently over the last fortnight.  In fact Dora only gets a look in when this dress is on the clothesline so I'd say that's a win for me! Isn't this the face of a happy customer?


p.s still pregnant.  Sigh.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Burda of the Month: 1/2012 #113

First I want to say up front: I'm still pregnant.  Official due date is only 4 days away, but with no signs, twinges, niggles or feelings at all I doubt it's gonna happen soon.  Family and friends, I promise you I will let you know when it happens - there is NO NEED to phone or text me everyday asking about it!!!!  Here is today's belly shot, see the baby is still in there:



Ok, so now that is cleared up I can happily move on to all things sewing related.  With Anna off at daycare three days a week I've managed to get a heap of sewing done lately, I just need to catch up with photos and blog posts.  Good thing I'll probably have another week or two to do just that.....

I have finished my second garment in my Burda lite challenge.  This one is from the January issue, a quite plain looking top which was the pick of rather lame offerings in this issue:

What I didn't notice until I had traced the pattern and tried to decipher the instructions is that the sleeves are cut in two pieces, with a zipper along the upper edge from the neckline on the left side.  That makes this garment a little more interesting, but since I didn't have any suitable zippers in the stash and wanting to get this finished I decided to leave them off and sew up the seams instead.  Don't worry, I checked whether my head would still get through before doing this (it does, phew!).  My fabric didn't have a huge difference in texture or colour on the wrong side, so I didn't do the reversed sleeve fabric either.

I made mine from some fuchsia duchess satin (you know, the heavy weight stuff) that I had in the stash leftover from when I made this fabric belt.  I don't know why I bought so much of the fabric at the time, but I thought this project would be a good use for it.


For the back I briefly thought about putting an exposed metal zip with black zipper tape down the centre back for a bit of interest, but I wasn't sure if that fad has passed or is about to so I just used an invisible zip instead.  The pattern is supposed to have a zip down the left side seam, but since there is centre back seam anyway I chose the easier option and put the zip in down the centre back, with a black button at the top instead of an internal hook and eye.


Obviously this isn't going to fit me for quite some time, but when I do get my waistline back and have somewhere to wear it, this is how I'd style it:


a very high waisted black pencil skirt because this top is quite cropped and a glimpse of flesh around the midriff would not be a good look (image source).


a statement necklace, possibly in black to coordinate, plus I already own a chunky black bead necklace (image source).


and a fierce pair of black pumps which sadly I do not own (image source).

So that's two finished garments from two magazines and I'm on track with my challenge! The March issue still hasn't arrived yet but thanks to a tip off from Renata who emailed me with the newsflash that you can subscribe directly from the BurdaStyle website which is not only cheaper but also more timely than the company I'm subscribed through currently.  I'll be changing my subscription in 3 months when it expires - how did I never notice the subscription button during all the visits I've made to BurdaStyle?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

mmmmminky

Ok so maybe I've gone a bit mental (and at 39 weeks pregnant I think I'm entitled to!) but I just can't pronounce the word 'minky' properly without drawing it out.  Even before I had kids and had never bought a scrap of it I couldn't walk past the minky table in the fabric store without giving it a good fondle before moving on to buy more fabrics I didn't really need either.

Anyway a few months ago I was searching for some minky fabric to make a change mat cover and some cloth nappies for the new baby.  When Lincraft had a 50% off sale I bought some of that bobbly minky in a pale yellow for the change mat (which is very high on my to do list), but even at 50% it was still quite expensive and the range of colours and prints was very limited.  I started to do some online searching when coincidentally the lovely Lisa from the OnlineFabricStore sent me an email asking whether I would like some minky and fleece fabric in exchange for a review here on my blog.

Now I haven't done any sponsored reviews before, mainly because I'm growing tired of those blogs that have either sponsored reviews or giveaways as the majority of their content with very little else interesting to read about.  Plus the offers I've received for sponsored reviews in the past have had absolutely nothing to do with what I blog about, so I've ignored or declined the offers.  But this offer was for free fabric! And fabric that I was actually searching for to make something that I would have posted about anyway, so I hope you'll all forgive me this once.

So I moseyed on over to the OnlineFabricStore and selected a minky fabric in a deep red colour and a fleece fabric in a chocolate brown with aqua polka dots, figuring that both were quite unisex so that it would suit Anna and the new baby no matter what it turns out to be.  There's quite a lot of choice in colours and prints, plus at $8.85/yd US ($8.50/91cm AU ) for the red minky and $6.85/yd US ($6.50/91cm AU ) for the fleece fabric their prices are better than what we can get here in Australia (yay for the very strong Aussie dollar!).

When the fabrics arrived I realised the red minky was far too lovely a shade of red to be hidden away on a baby's bottom so I decided instead to make little matching jackets for Anna and the new baby.

Fabric preparation:
I simply chucked both the red minky and chocolate fleece fabric into the washing machine on my normal cold wash before I sewed, remembering to overlock the cut edge of the minky because it does tend to shed little fibres a lot.  The fabric lost very little colour and didn't have any discernible shrinkage so it was a good start.  Another bonus is that these fabrics don't wrinkle, so I didn't need to press them either.

Sewing:
I was worried that the minky layers would stick to each and not feed through the feed dogs properly like I sometimes experience with velvet and corduroy, but the minkee sewed up with no problems at all.  I actually used my overlocker for 90% of the sewing on these and just used a stretch twin needle for some toptstitching.  Minky does have a nap so you do need to cut the pieces out with the grain in the same direction, which luckily I remembered to do, even in my baby brain state.

For the new baby I made a little raglan sleeved cardigan from McCalls 9407 which is OOP, which I got from an opshop some time ago.  Seriously is there anything easier than sewing a raglan sleeved cardigan? This took me about 1.5 hours maximum, from go to whoa. 

This pattern calls for a facing around the neckline and the front edges, but that seemed too fiddly to me and instead I lined the cardigan completely with a contrasting cotton knit fabric from the stash.  I just made two identical cardigans from the two fabrics, sewed them together with right sides facing, turned them inside out, stuck on a couple of snaps and all done!  Here's the finished product, sans baby of course:




I love the contrast of the black and white stripe knit against the deep red colour of the minky.  I decided to topstitch around the edge with a blanket stitch for decorative reasons, but I think a single stitch line would have been a better idea because the blanket stitch just made the minky look a bit ragged.  It looks better from the inside though (probably more so if I had sewn a little straighter of course):
 



I'm rapidly learning the politics of being a parent to more than one child: making sure the second child doesn't only get all hand me downs, trying to take as many photos of the second as the first and also balancing the attention evenly between them all.  So big sister Anna also needed something new and luckily the cut of minkee that Lisa sent was generous enough to make a hooded jumper.  I used trusty old Kwik Sew 2025, which is an ancient pattern long OOP that I picked up one time in a op shop. But again it's just a simple raglan sleeve style with a hood which never goes out of fashion for the toddler set. 
And here's what I made for Anna:


For the pocket, cuffs and inner hood I used some ribbing from the stash again bought from an opshop ages ago that is a pale pink and red stripe. 


Luckily this was an easy style to make because the instructions were missing from the pattern envelope, but I think I got it right.  Too bad my model decided to be funny and ham it up when I was trying to take to her photo, but she did profess to love this:



So far I've found the sizing of Kwik Sew patterns to be pretty good, much better than the other commercial pattern companies, but on this one I found that the sleeves and the body were a little too short. It did fit over her head and around the body so I guess I could just replace those cuffs with some wider cuffs.  Or I could just make her walk around with her hands in her pockets which would be extremely helpful when out shopping in those annoying stores with all the easter eggs on display at floor level....


The final verdict? The fabric is good quality with a lovely feel to it that didn't go away after washing, the colours are very close to what appears on screen and the fabric was easy to cut and sew with.  Because I didn't buy these fabrics I don't have any experience with their customer service or shipping, but I do think their prices are reasonable and the fabrics arrived fairly quickly even with international postage.  I'll definitely be looking at their website to get some more fabric once the next baby is out and I know whether I'm in for more pink butterfly fabric or some blue pirate fabric!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Burda of the month: 2/2012 #125 maternity pants

When Sharon, a fellow Sydneysider, left a comment on the last post saying that she had already received her March Burda in the mail I thought I had better get started on this Burda lite challenge I've set myself before I get three months behind without even starting.  Luckily the March issue hasn't arrived at my house (which is a little annoying too), although the subscription renewal has - ironically the subscription is through a company called Speedimpex Australia, ha not so speedy at all!

The obsessive order freak within me really wanted to make the January pattern first so I could do these in order, but practicality dictated otherwise: with only 2 weeks to go before 'official' due date I thought it perhaps wise to make the maternity pants from the February issue so as to maximise wearing opportunities.  But even the weather has been against me, after a wet and cool summer we are now (for the last week anyway) having a hot and sunny autumn....

Anyway, here's the pattern from the Burda website:



It's a simple pull on, jersey knit waistband pattern made in the style of kid's pants: sew the two legs separately, put one leg inside the other right sides together and sew the centre back seam, crotch seam and centre front seam in one 'u' shaped sewing line.  Then just sew on the waistband and within an hour or two you're all done!

Well that's the theory anyway, I still had some fitting issues to resolve because the centre back of the pants had major gaping that I didn't think the waistband would pull in, at least not in a flattering way.  So I took a pinch out of the centre back seam, and sewed two small darts in the back as well to get the pants to fit closer.

And then I wasn't confident that the stretch knit I planned to use for the waistband was strong enough with sufficient recovery to hold up my pants - I hate nothing more than walking around tugging up my pants! So I decided to sew a wide elastic around the top of the pants, stretched a little across the back which resulted in some gathers but better to be safe than sorry:




I just sewed the knit jersey to the top of the pants as well, so that the elastic was fully encased inside and out:



And that did the job, the pants are still easily pulled on but are snug enough they won't fall down. I made mine from a khaki stretch cotton sateen from the stash, as was the elastic (bought at a garage sale long ago) and the cotton knit for the waistband (picked up from an op shop long ago).  Here's my finished version (and a 38 week belly):





These are really comfortable, but I see now from these photos that they aren't so flattering, which actually is normal for me in pants anyway what with my pear shape and sway back.  It's funny how when you try something on and look in the mirror things look ok, but when you see a photo from all angle it's suddenly obvious how they really look! Oh dear, my backside really has expanded a great deal, and my hips/saddle bags are even more pronounced in this cut, fabric and colour but you know what? At 38 weeks pregnant I just don't care, these pants provide coverage and comfort and that's good enough for me at this point in time!

For anyone else contemplating making these (and a note for myself in case I ever do something silly like get pregnant again) the changes I would make to the pattern would be to increase the centre back rise because they sit quite low and the waistband is quite visible unless you wear a really long t-shirt, and to decrease the centre front rise because these bunch up a little under my belly although that would depend on how high or low you're carrying.

I would also make the waistband a bit shorter, because as sewn the top of the waistband finishes just under the bust, but it's not an hourglass shape pattern so that the finished width of the top of the waistband is too wide to wear it up:


meaning you really have to wear it folded down in half, which finished mid-belly and gives good coverage but is sort of bulky:



So I'm patting myself on the back for finishing the first step in my challenge so quickly, now to change the thread in my overlocker and make the January pattern so I can get back to the other things sitting patiently in the queue.

Monday, 12 March 2012

curse you Burda!

Ok, maybe that post title is a little too harsh but we all like to give Burda Style magazine a kick now and again don't we? Anyway a few weeks ago I was reading a new to me blog, ReadyThreadSew, and Julie has set herself a Burda challenge for this year - each month to sew one item from every Burda magazine she owns for that month.  Given that she has issues going back to 2007, that's quite a challenge!

This really resonated with me, because I too have many Burda issues that I've never sewn from (which I'm sure many of us do) and given each issue here in Australia costs about $18 it represents a large amount of money that has never been realised.  But since I have a busy year coming up, I decided to do a 'lite' version of this challenge and sew one item from each newly arrived issue before the next issue comes out. And in the spirit of using what you have, I am going to use stash fabric for whatever I sew for this challenge - no guarantees about not buying any fabric for other projects though!

However I've been foiled before I even started, hence the post title.  Last Tuesday the January issue finally arrived in my letterbox and I had barely flicked through it when on Wednesday the February issue also arrived! But this not being my fault I've decided to forge ahead anyway and try to get two garments made before the March edition arrives (maybe next month?).

However the January issue is a bit of dud issue in my humble opinion, with only one or two patterns I would use and both not suitable to a preggo/post preggo body.  There weren't even any decent children's patterns either because it was filled with bizarre carnival costumes. The February issue has maternity patterns, which would have been more helpful some time ago and not three weeks before I'm due.....

But here are my choices, that I'm putting out there in the hope that I will follow through this time. From the January issue, I'm going to make top #113 which I plan to make in a fuchsia satin that I have in the stash.  I'll make this to my pre-pregnancy measurements with fingers crossed that I'll eventually get back there.  Perhaps I'll make wider seam allowances just in case.

From the February issue, I've decided to make the maternity pants # 125 even though I only have three (or so) weeks to go.  These are simple elastic waist pants which should be quick to make so I should get some wear from them before I pack away my maternity clothes. I think I'll make these from some khaki stretch cotton which I'm pretty sure I also have some stretch knit in the stash in a similar colour for the waistband.

Now I really must get cracking with my sewing, trying to get these two knocked over quickly so I can get back to the long list of 'must sew' items that I also need to do before the baby arrives.  Good thing I'm now on maternity leave, and I haven't got pesky work getting in the way!

And finally a big hello to the lovely Paola who surprised me early on Sunday morning (ok it was 8.30am but that's early for a Sunday) when I was trudging into our local swim centre for Anna's swimming lesson.  She bounded over with too much lots of energy to say hello, and since she sent me some Top Kids sewing magazines a few years ago it was good to meet her in person and say thank you.  So thank you again Paola, it was a lovely surprise and I hope your kids went really well in their swimming races.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

wadder recovery session

Things have been very quiet around here, sewing wise.  Not life wise though, I've had quite a few minor calamities these past two weeks.  I'm now 36 weeks pregnant, so I'm having the normal aches and pains and complaints that you would expect when this far gone.  But then a few days ago I slipped on the wet marble floor in the foyer of my office building, doing a gold medal worthy splits manoeuvre and landing on my knees, which are now bruised, swollen and sore and I've overstretched quite a few muscles as you can imagine.  I felt like quite the clumsy pregnant woman until I heard that someone else had also slipped in the foyer and broken a leg, so thankfully I wasn't that injured.  Now I have more reason to laze on the lounge, and even Anna is being quite helpful in fetching things when asked (too bad she doesn't yet grasp the concept of rubbing mummy's feet!).

And a few days before that I had a mild case of food poisoning which saw me spend a good 24 hours travelling between my bedroom and the bathroom (no further details required!).  And the week before that I went in for a routine skin cancer check and the specialist decided to take a biopsy of a mole that looked inflamed on my back, and then halfway through merrily announced that he "may as well" take the whole lot out.  I tried to tell him it was just a bit red because of the super dooper maternity bras I'm wearing these days, but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.  The results came back with no concerns, except that I'm left with some stitches in my back which is less than comfortable.

Plus our dog has spent the a few days this week at the vets having his corneas transplanted to address some eye issues he was having (yes I am serious), which cost us about $4k and we now have to put drops and cream in his eyes as well as getting 6 tablets a day down his mouth.  And the poor thing looks so embarrassed because he's sporting a big plastic cone on his head!

So enough whinging and whining from me.  Looking on the bright side I only have 3 more days of work to go, and I'll get to meet my new baby in four (or so) weeks and find out the answer to the million dollar question: boy or girl?

I have been busy doing some virtual sewing though, planning an awesome winter wardrobe that is however conditional upon my waistline returning! Lots of colour, smart casual separates and best of all most of it from the stash.  However based on my previous experience the more I plan the less I sew to that plan, so we shall see.

Finally getting to the point of this post: the best way to recover from a wadder is to sew something simple that you know you'll have success - it boosts the self esteems and gives you back your sewing mojo.  So I decided to make some simple sleep shorts for myself, because even though we are having a total non summer (one of the wettest on record) and we've now moved into autumn, my pregnant body furnace is turned way up so these will come in very handy. 

I used some vintage sheets from the stash, some cotton lace from the stash and recycled a very stretchy knit t-shirt for the waistband and came up with these (3 pairs are already in the wash, but you get the idea):


About two hours of sewing, a small dent to the stash (ok so minuscule not even noticeable) and I have 5 pairs of very big girl bloomers to laze around in for the next few weeks.

So now that I've recovered I really must get on with some sewing, I plan to make some newborn sized cloth nappies, replace the elastic in the cloth nappies I made for Anna, sew a change pad cover and make a few cozy cardigans and jackets for Anna and the baby.  This baby had better not come early!  Latest belly shot is looking quite round, but I'm not sure if it's dropped enough to say that it is imminent: