Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pajama Time!

It seems like my kids always run out of things that fit in stages that go by types of garment. Around Christmastime I realized that Mr. T was in desperate need of new pajamas. His old ones were all too small and I was reluctant to go out and buy new ones, given the vast stash of fabric in my storage room. So I got out a pile of knits and had him choose 3 prints to work with, for 3 new pairs of pajamas. He ended up choosing a print with dogs (some of which are blue) on yellow, a jungle print in green, aqua and brown, and - his absolute favorite - a "breakfast" print of eggs, bacon and toast. Breakfast-themed prints seem to be his thing; his favorite RTW t-shirt is a face whose eyes are fried eggs and whose mouth is a strip of bacon. Go figure.

I used my go-to pj pattern, the "Stripey Legs" pants and "Night Owl" shirt  (nos. 34 and 35) from the Winter 2009 issue of Ottobre. This issue is one of my favorites and I've made quite a few things from it by now. Since I wasn't sure if I'd have enough of the prints to do both the shirt and pants for each set, I decided to throw in a complementary stripe for each one: two-tones of blue rib knit for the dogs, green with white stripe interlock for the jungle print, and yellow and orange rib knit for the breakfast print. I used brown ribbing for the cuffs of the jungle and breakfast prints, and a cobalt blue ribbing for the dog print.

Crazy before bedtime.
I've made this pattern a couple of times and used a few different techniques to sew it together. The directions call for you to lap the seams and then sew them with "a flat lock stitch", by which I assume they mean a coverstitch. I don't have a serger that does a coverstitch so I've used the honeycomb stitch on my regular machine in the past and that's one they recommend in lieu of the coverstitch. I've also constructed them using regular seams and topstitching them. This time I decided to try a flatlock stitch on my serger, which gives a smooth seam on the inside and has the seam allowances on the outside. It worked out okay but I don't think I'd do it again, simply because the exterior seam allowances are a little bulkier than I'd like.

Jungle Jammies!

The other issue I came across this time is that, because I used the blue striped rib knit for the body of the shirt, the neckline was slightly bigger than I would have liked. Darn that rib knit! I should have stabilized the necklines before I sewed the binding on. It's not a glaring fit issue and it makes it easier for Mr. T to get the shirt on over his big head, but still.

All in all, a very successful week of sewing these. If only I could get in the sewing room more regularly! And if only I could remember to post about them in a more timely fashion! At least I was able to do them in a sort-of assembly line style. Using the brown for 2 pairs meant I didn't have to change thread for each set and that's always a time-saver.

Now he needs more pants. It never ends.

Third Time's a Charm

A while back I posted about needing to make a maternity bathing suit and what I thought I might need to do. I started off enthusiastically to make the "Rimini" tankini top from the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Ottobre Woman. Knowing that I have a larger-than-average bust, I measured my full bust and it ended up being the largest size - a 52 - so I traced the pattern in that size, cut it out and sewed up the 'bra' portion of the top. It was waaaaaayy too big around my ribs and the gap in the front where the two pieces were intended to cross over was so big that I was falling out of it, but I still didn't have enough fabric in the cups to properly cover myself and get any support. I fiddled around with it, trying to figure out what went wrong and then gave it up for a while to focus on some other projects.

I went back to the tankini when we had an unusually warm week in early May. This time I decided to add fabric to the cup area by slashing the size 52 pattern to the bust apex and spreading it. This had the effect of  tightening/shortening up the curve at the front and lessening the gap there, as well as giving me slightly more coverage at the side. I cut this new version of the 'bra' portion and found that there still wasn't enough support at the front and that it still gapped. I took out the stitches and overlapped the center fronts about twice as much as the first time. Now I had more coverage but it still was dragging down at the center front and kind of twisting. I took in the back by increasing the overlap, thinking that this would counter-act the problem at the center front, and it seemed better so I decided to add the lower portion of the tankini.

Disaster. I'd added way too much fabric at the center front and as a result there was far too much fabric in both the front and the back. I got upset because I really wanted this pattern to work and because I don't want to spend a ton of money on a maternity suit off the rack. Cheap suits generally don't give me the support I need in a bathing suit so I end up with a suit that costs $75 or more. I'm unwilling to pay that much for a maternity suit for my last pregnancy. So I decided to take a break and do some laundry and think about the problem.

The solution presented itself while talking the situation over with Scott. He was looking at the instructions and pointed out that while I needed the cup size of the 52, my underbust measurement was more like a size 46 or 48 (I fall kind of in the middle of the two). He also pointed out that I lost weight at the beginning of this pregnancy and haven't gained very much, so I'm clearly not a 52 all over. We decided that I should cut the 48 to allow for a little room for my belly to expand. That remedied the problem of the lower portion, but what about the bra portion? I played around with the 2nd version and decided the way to go was to sew the two pieces together so that there was a center front seam, then do the same thing at the back, after shortening the length of the back pieces so that they were more equivalent to a size 46. This gave me the coverage and support that I needed but in the size appropriate to my body frame.

Center back seam.

So here is the final product:

Don't make fun of the bathing cap - it keeps my new teal hair protected!

I ended up doing the center front and back seams, though I think I should have deepened the center front seam just a bit more. As it is, I hand-stitched it a bit to close up the neckline a little more so I didn't feel as though I would fall out of it. Also, if I make this again, I will reduce the amount of fabric under the arms at the sides, since the suit cuts into me slightly there. I decreased the amount of elastic that I used at the under bust portion significantly - I used about 24". I'd probably use even less next time, in order to have more support under the bust. And I'd probably find an underwire bra that I could sew into the lining, since I feel like I really don't have enough support with this, plus I'd probably retain the alterations I made but cut one size smaller in order to get more support out of the fabric itself. Right now it feels comfortable but I still wonder if there's too much give due to it being a 46. Cutting a 44 and still doing an FBA would probably be better overall, and I think I'd get a better lift for "the girls". I have more fabric (black with hot pink dots!) so I plan on perfecting the fit on this suit after the baby arrives.

Side view - 32 weeks pregnant.

It's better than a lot of suits I've worn, and I'd say it's not bad for a first attempt, but I'm not totally thrilled with the result. It gets the job done, though, and that's what's important. I probably added a bit too much to the bottom portion in order to accommodate the growing bump because the overlay pulls down a bit at the center front and the shirring doesn't lie evenly. Again, not a huge problem, since the suit is still quite functional.  What I love most is that it pretty much stays down over my belly and sort of looks like a retro one-piece suit, a style I really like.

The bottoms themselves were much easier - I cut a size 52 to see if that would cover my bum and still give me plenty of room for the belly. I was expecting to have to make some significant alterations but I was pleasantly surprised that they fit perfectly the first time. I used the bikini bottom pattern, rather than the boy-short bottom, and I found that the height of the leg opening was just right for me and it has a nice full-coverage back. I don't find myself having to adjust the fabric on my bum to keep it covered, so that's a definite plus.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Stuck in a Holding Pattern

Hold on there, kiddo. It won't be much longer!

Nothing new sewn. Nothing. It's killing me. I've spent the past 2 weeks trying to just find time to get into my sewing room, now that it's moved from the old room into what was once the storage room. I can't find the time. Or the energy. Or both, I don't know. I do know that I have a few things left that I really want to sew while I'm still pregnant, and I have to finish the summer SWAP for the boy. But this pregnancy has left me more than a little drained and I'm starting to really feel it. I've said it before - Pregnancy after 40 is not for wimps. This is especially true since Scott is gone for the next month. I'll reach the 33 week mark on Friday and I won't see him until I reach week 36. The children have lost their minds because it's summer and Daddy is gone and they know I'm exhausted. Lucky for me Miss Maeve is at camp right now - at least for the next few days. And tomorrow - tomorrow Scott's replacement shows up. And by replacement, I mean his mom.

C. and I don't have tons in common, but she's my mother-in-law and she's available to help out for once. And for once I mean, this one time. Last time we asked her to come and help was when I was pregnant with Tallon and she told us she didn't think she'd be able to come and help because she couldn't take time off of work. I don't know what Scott said to her this time, although she's retired now so work isn't an excuse she can use. Her main work is usually taking care of the other grandkids, Scott's sister's twins who are 8 1/2. She spends a lot of time taking them to their various tennis, violin and swim lessons, and I don't know what-all else. Scott must have been convincing, though, and I'm glad because I'm far too pregnant to be dealing with my 3 crazies alone and trying to run a house. I'm not too proud to admit that. Scott left on Sunday and I'm already drained and it's only Wednesday.

So tomorrow we pick C. up at the airport and then run errands on the way home, get our CSA box for the week at the Farmer's Market, eat lunch (I promised the kids we'd eat at the market) and then we're back to the house for a brief time before gymnastics. It promises to be a busy day. Friday will sort of be a day of rest, though we do have a Daisy scout meeting here in the late afternoon that day. Then C.'s help will start off with a bang on Saturday morning, since I have to pick up Maeve at camp while she takes the other 2 to their swim lesson. Tallon, I promise, will tire her out just by being himself.

The rest of the time, though? I'm going to put her to use as much as possible so that I can get back in the sewing room. I figure that she's probably got more energy than me right now, even if she is 65. If she can take charge of even half the stuff to do with the kids (especially baths and bedtime) I'll have more time to get to things that need doing around here. Plus, the more she takes them to the park and whatnot, the less cleaning I have to do in the house. And that's always a plus. Additionally, I'm starting to get into that nesting mode and I want to have everything clean and tidy before the new one makes his appearance. I know realistically it won't be like that, but if I can sort of have things the way I want them I'll feel a lot better.

On the fun side, I dyed my hair teal back in June and love the color. It started to fade a bit towards the end of the month, so I brightened it up the other day and I love it.