Saturday, August 4, 2012

Simplicity 3503: The non-maternity version

So, yeah, who knew that raising a baby was so much work. ;) Needless to say, after my last post, the roller coaster of having a new baby continued on. We had some highs and some very low lows. While I don't think I ever had true post-partum depression, there were some really rough patches, one of which caught me off guard as it hit when J was about 5 months old - after I had felt like I was finally get my feet back underneath me.

J just turned 10 months old this week and we have been in a good place for several months now. I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight and am fitting back into all of my old clothes (I didn't realize how much this was a contributing factor to my rough mood) and J is just a lot of fun. He's sleeping better and fighting me less on eating, so our day to day routine just feels more relaxed and less frantic. I am so in love with my little man and thank God every day for blessing me with such a dear child.

I did start taking time for myself early in this motherhood gig, but sewing just felt like too much work at the beginning. Getting to the gym to work out my ever evolving set of emotions or sitting down to a book were much more attractive activities when I had some spare time. It was only when J turned 7 months that the sewing room started calling my name again. And holy smokes did I pick a humdinger of a project. LOL Nothing simple for my first garment sewing project in months. No way, no how!

I really wanted to make a casual version of that ever popular Simplicity pattern 3503 - the one that I sewed to death while I was pregnant (3 versions - 1 floor length, 2 short - in all). However, there were some serious fit issues to work out. Namely, the smallest size bodice was a good fit when I was very pregnant (aka - pregnancy chest was in effect), but shrinking back to my normal bra size, I knew that I would need to make it considerably smaller.

To complicate matters further, I chose a beautiful ITY jersey from my stash that screams summer, but is quite a busy print to work into a dress. I knew it would require lots of single layer cutting and playing around with where the print would fall on the dress. I bought it from Mood 2 years ago and I've been dying for it to become something that would live in my closet instead of a stash bin, but had never really matched up the right pattern for it. This marriage of pattern and print felt right though.

I ultimately used the full width of the fabric border for the midriff band, becoming more of a full stomach band. The border was also used for the neckline.

I then arranged the bodice and skirt pieces over the main print of the fabric. It was a total pain to get all of this to match up and it's still not perfect, but I'm happy with it.
It took me a solid 2 months to complete this dress. I worked on it in fits and starts, but it held my interest and was actually a really good project to get my creative juices flowing again. I've already worn it twice and I love it. My inaugural outing in it was to Beverly Hills for brunch and it was perfect. It has a summer resort feel and I felt like a chic woman in it, not just a mom. While it's completely impractical for my new role as a stay at home mom, it makes me happy nonetheless.
I've already got another dress and 2 skirts just waiting for hems and a 3rd dress on the cutting table. See, this project really helped me find my sewing mojo!

And for making it this far, here is a picture of me and J from the 4th of July. Love this little guy so much!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One month

I have no idea where October went, mostly because I've spent the entirety of the month in that lovely new mom fog. ;) Our little peanut arrived late September, on his due date, and he has been keeping us on our toes ever since.

My pregnancy was fairly uneventful and labor and deliver was also great. 9 hours from the start of timeable contractions (and only 10 minutes of active pushing) and we were able to meet our son, who came out with a few loud screams and then quieted down to start taking in the world around him. All the while, holding my finger in his hand. Precious and amazing doesn't even begin to describe it.

After all of that, it didn't seem all that surprising that the other shoe had to drop. Little J had a couple of issues in the hospital, ones that threatened a NICU stay, but thankfully that never came to fruition. Being typical overly-worried first time parents, Jim and I barely slept in the hospital and the first couple of days that he was home with us.

We had a few bumps in the road with nursing, though thankfully those have been resolved. And then the screaming began. Oh, the screaming. This child was never just awake and happy, he was either eating, asleep or screaming. It was brutal. A call to the pediatrician and a quick check and they think the poor little guy has silent reflux - no spitting up, but the acid is still backing up into his throat and making him pretty uncomfortable. Add an insane amount of gas and GI discomfort and he was making his pain known to us in a big loud way. It was damn near impossible to comfort him, which will make you feel like the worst parent in the world. I hit rock bottom when he was 3.5 weeks old - sobbed to the nurse from the ped's office when she called to check in on us, was horribly snotty to my husband and really wasn't feeling very fond of this new little person living with us either.

Thankfully, things started getting a little better the next day and have been generally better since then. He's easier to comfort when he cries. The screaming is less. He has these stretches where he is alert and happy. He's trying to coo and I swear he's working on smiling, though I know at this point it's very likely just gas. Whatever, I'll still take it!

I've loved him from the moment he grabbed my finger in the delivery room, but I'm starting to like him a whole lot now, too. I think he's going to be a fun kid and I'm feeling pretty lucky to be his mama.

I'm sure there is still plenty of rough stuff on the horizon, but we survived the first month with everyone still intact. That feels like a real win at this point and I'm happy to celebrate it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The nursery

Not that you would know it from the lack of posts on this blog, but I've actually been a sewing maniac the past few months. I've even nicknamed my sewing room Amber's Sweatshop. Unfortunately, life has been hectic and I haven't carved out time to actually post about the projects here. Who knows if I'll ever really catch up, but hey, I'm going to at least try to get a few things posted.

Waaay back when we first told our parents that I was pregnant, my mom and I were chatting and she mentioned that I should sew stuff for the baby's room. I immediately shut her down, saying that just sounded like a ridiculous amount of work for something that I could easily buy, etc.

I mean, we all know how this ends, right?

I looked for weeks for a gender neutral set that I liked, but nothing. The stuff that I thought was priced right didn't appeal to me and the stuff that I thought would be cute was so stupid expensive that it just made me angry.

So yeah. After trolling a few online fabric shops and picking up a fairly classic pattern for a crib skirt, I started putting together a plan to make a lot of the stuff myself. Let's just say my mom has been quite good at not gloating too much. :P

The baby room overlooks the backyard, which features a lot of blues and greens. That plus my recent obsession with orange formed the color scheme for the room. I found a Kaufman fabric that featured the colors I liked and felt a bit retro. I matched it up with a solid orange and an embossed aqua print for the crib skirt. I was able to find solid aqua and orange coordinates from Carousel Designs so that I wouldn't have to tackle sewing drapes or crib sheets. I also knew I didn't want a traditional bumper due to SIDS concerns, however, I saw a great tutorial for adding a little umph to a breathable bumper, which helped to tie the whole set together. Lastly, my friend sewed an adorable blanket for one of my showers, which fits the room perfectly.

After getting the crib finished, my sewing projects weren't done yet. I also whipped up two minky changing pad covers, two cotton/minky boppy covers, 2 stroller blankets, a 6 pack of burp cloths and coordinating size dividers for the closet. I found some adorable prints for the wall from Children Inspire Design by way of Zulily and metallic frames in aqua, orange and lime. Jim's cousin also designed two ridiculously cute prints for the room that we were able to use as well. A slew of fabric bins from Target in aqua and lime are being used to store all of the baby stuff. Lastly, we added a whimsical animal rug that helps to pad the hardwood floor and continues the defacto animal theme we have going on in addition to the color scheme. Oh, and I have a really comfy neutral glider in the corner.

But, enough talk. Pictures, yes?






Changing Pad Covers

Boppy Covers

Stroller Blankets

Burp Cloths and Closet dividers

It was all a ton of work, but I'm so happy with the way it came out. I find myself making up excuses to hang out in there and I know that I'll enjoy hanging out in the room once our little guy arrives. I can firmly say though, that if I never have to sew another crib skirt, it will be too soon. ;) That sucker was such a pain in the arse to sew and while I love the finished product, I have no desire to ever make another. Home dec sewing is really not my thing, I'm much more of a garment sewing kind of gal.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Monkey Around: KS2257 and O+S Bedtime Story PJs

Thank you for all of the kinds words after the last post. My absence here wasn't so much due to the fall, but having a crazy week after the fall, being on vacation for almost two weeks after that and then the mad catch up that comes with such a vacation.

Even before I took a header off the retaining wall, we had planned to celebrate Father's Day with my in-laws the first weekend in June since prior plans would keep us from getting together until way after the fact. While I feel like this Father's Day doesn't *really* count for Jim, I still wanted to do something to mark the first unofficial one since he was quite generous to me on Mother's Day.

My husband looooves monkeys. It's his favorite exhibit to visit at the zoo (especially the crazy awesome enclosure they have for them in San Diego), he has t-shirts depicting their likeness and several stuffed versions in his home office. So when I saw this fabric about a year ago from Moda, I grabbed several yards - some in flannel and some in the regular quilting cotton. I figured it would come in handy eventually.


As soon as we found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to finally cut into it and make a pair of pajama bottoms for Jim (in flannel) and matching pajamas for the little one (in quilting cotton). I figured the print was gender neutral and would work for either a boy or girl. To keep things simple, I re-used the Kwik Sew pajama bottom pattern that I first tried 2 Christmases ago and my TNT baby pajama pattern from Oliver and S. Nothing difficult in the construction here and they both went together over the course of several days, doing bits and pieces a little at a time. The lucky part to this was I finished them about an hour before I took that nasty fall, so I still had something to bring for Jim to dinner that next day. Whew!

We found out for sure what we were having a couple of weeks before I completed these, which made the construction even more fun. What can I say, the idea of matching daddy and son pajamas just makes my heart melt. ;) It was nice to see I wasn't the only one though, as my in-laws about melted into a puddle of goo after Jim opened them.

Jim loved them, even though the print is totally silly. This also marks the first garment that I've made for *my* baby, which is pretty much awesome after making a ton of clothes and stuff for everyone else's babies.

Happy very belated unofficial Father's Day to Jim! If his excitement and enthusiasm during the pregnancy is any indication, then I'm willing to bet he is going to be one awesome dad. :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How not to spend a Friday afternoon

This weekend was going to be all kinds of awesome - house stuff on Friday, a bridal shower and a family dinner on Saturday and then a full sewing day on Sunday. Friday morning started off great. Got in a good workout and then ran back up to the house so that Salvation Army could come by and pick up a bunch of stuff. Had lunch with my brother that afternoon and after he left, the DirecTV guy came by to add a few more services to the house.

We went outside so I could show him where the dish was on the roof. I was on our back steps and looked up so I could point out the dish. Mid sentence and next thing I know I was falling straight back off the side of the staircase - about a 3 feet drop - onto the concrete below. Tried, but couldn't break my fall, so I landed directly on the back of my head and my upper back. The DirecTV guy lost his head. I, somehow, stayed really calm, even after he started freaking out about how much blood there was on the ground.

He eventually got through to 911 and about 5 minutes later, the fireman and paramedics showed up. Even though I could feel all of my extremeties and never lost consciousness, they erred on the side of caution and off I went to the hospital in on a backboard in an ambulance. I mean, when I injure myself, I go big. :/

Thankfully, after 4 stitches and a trip to L&D, both the baby and I are okay. Well, the baby is more than okay, kicking all over the place during the entire stay. I'm pretty sore and my head feels like a combination of a bad hangover and like I banged it against a concrete floor. Oh wait, that's because I did.

I'm benched from my gym workouts until the staples are removed, which is a total bummer for me, too. But, I'm so grateful that it wasn't any worse than a bad bump and a nasty cut on my head and some icky bruising and swelling on my back.

And because no post is complete without a picture, here is the way Jim found me when he met me in the ER. Kinda looks like I'm an extra for a civil war movie, doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When sewing supplies do double-duty

What do you get when you combine a Cricut, some fancy paper, a few scrapbooking embellishments and lace hem tape?

A perfect card for a lingerie bridal shower, that's what.


Lace hem tape may not work for real bras and panties, but it sure is a lifesaver for adding a little pizzaz to the paper variety. ;)

Monday, May 30, 2011

KS 3703 + 3561: The throw it on and go dress

The older I get, the more I love wearing dresses. Not only for work, but on the weekends as well. But, my big caveat is I like my dresses comfy, but still cute. For some reason, this seems to be difficult to find in stores. Yay for sewing! ;)

I loved the little racerback dresses I made last summer from KS 3703 so much and wore them to death. I wanted something for the fall/winter that had the same basic shape since it was so flattering for my pear-shaped hips, but that had a plain scoop neck and long sleeves so that I wouldn't freeze in my icebox of an office. Oh, and it had to look cute with boots. Quite the list, eh? I'd like to say that I used a bunch of fancy pattern skills to combine KS 3703 (the bodice) with KS 3561 (for the neckline and sleeves), but the truth is that I totally winged it and somehow wound up so very happy with the result.


The pattern pieces that I wound up with consisted of a fitted scoopneck dress with an a-line skirt and long sleeves. I knew that I wanted to make this out of relatively thin jersery knit fabrics, so I also added a full lining, using the dress pieces. Each shell was sewn together separately and then they were attached at the neckline, right sides together with clear elastic sewn in to provide stabilization. The sleeves were then added to the dress. I left the jersey lining unhemmed, but cut short enough to not show at the bottom and hemmed the sleeves/outside layer of the dress with a twin needle.

My inital test dress (which has since been packed away in the "Yeah, this isn't fitting until after baby" box) was a smidge too short and too tight. I mean, it fit, but it needed a little tweaking to be perfect. I adjusted my already crazy frankenpattern accordingly and cut out the next version in some Missoni look alike fabric that I grabbed from Michael Levine. I lined the dress in a nice, beefy bamboo jersey, which not only added warmth, but also smoothed everything out. It is also so comfortable against the skin - an extra bonus. Sure, I paid more for the lining fabric than the fashion fabric, but in my opinion, it was totally worth it.


To finish off the look, I made an infiniti scarf in some teal jersey using the instructions that came with the Hot Patterns Uptown/Downtown dress. After I finished this one in December, I have since worn it no less than a dozen times. I love the colors, I love the style and I especially love the fit. Oh, and the best part - almost 22 weeks pregnant and it still fits pretty well. Oh sure, it's getting shorter as the bump gets bigger, but it's nice that I'm still able to wear it since our weather is showing no signs of wanting to warm up any time soon.

And a comparison - the same dress at 10 weeks and 21 weeks

I finally got around to making another version of the dress in April out of this crazy loud floral sweater knit, also from Michael Levine.

I didn't realize just how much less stretch this fabric has compared to the teal dress though and really should have added a bit of room in the sleeves and the bust, since it's a bit more snug than I normally prefer. This was my Easter dress this year since it was so chilly and it still fit over the baby bump, so I guess the fit isn't awful. I'm guessing that (eventually) after baby it will be even better.