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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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Simplicity 3503 again

And I should just warn you now, this isn't the last of the dress for the summer. The neckline and bodice is really flattering on my ever expanding chest and not having to tweak a pattern again and again is really useful when I feel like I only have limited sewing time.

I bought this really pretty Jones and New York group jersey fabric from Mood last year and just never got around to using it. I had originally planned to make a dress from it for this year's Easter dinner, but after finishing it and realizing the weather was all yucky, it came out for a friend's bridal shower the following weekend instead.

The dress went together super quickly. I made the midriff band a little tighter so it wouldn't just hang from the bodice (one thing that bugged me in the earlier version of this dress) and I cut the front of the skirt a tad longer and with a subtle curve to accomodate the bump.

Please excuse the fact that I look exhausted in this picture. It was taken after the party and well, I was exhausted. ;)

I learned, however, that I really, really dislike the way the skirt gathers in the front and back center not only accentuate the bump, but make me look way more pregnant than I actually am. :/ I don't need to look 32 weeks along when I was only 18 weeks or so. Ugh. By the time I realized this, it was way too late to change it.

I'm planning yet *another* version of this dress for a wedding we're attending in June. For that one, I am going to use the skirt pieces from the tunic I made last month since it's a more flattering shape on me. Third time is totally the charm, right? ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kwik Sew 3611 - Mini Tunic Dress

I've been trying to expand my wardrobe options a bit by making some of my warm weather pieces work for cooler days. I have a mini dress from Velvet (purchased a few years back at Anthropologie) that I love and wear often during the summer. Last week I decided to pair it with leggings, a long cardigan and tall boots and it was a perfect casual outfit for the office. Not only was it cute, but it was so incredibly comfortable, that I decided to make a few more for my closet.

Kwik Sew 3611 was a great base pattern as it already had the right general shape and the upper bodice section was perfect.

I took measurements from the Velvet dress and added a narrow midriff band to the bodice and re-drew the skirt pieces to more closely match the inspiration dress. Instead of the skirt pieces being just plain rectangles, they are now an a-line shape with some gentle shaping at the bottom.

I was able to eke out a wearable muslin using the leftover fabric from this DVF dress I made last year. I forgot how stretchy the fabric is, though, and the midriff band stretched out a bit more than I had planned. While the dress generally fits well, for the next version I will add about a half inch to the length of the upper bodice and will decrease the width of midriff band by about an inch.

All in all though, I really like it and it's great to have another tunic-type dress that will work with leggings and boots or flats. Even though this version is a bit looser than I had hoped, I figure that won't be such a problem in the next few months as my expanding belly fills in the extra space. ;)

Yup, we're expecting a new member of the family this fall! We're very excited and are still in a bit of disbelief that it's actually happening. After a couple of shopping trips this weekend where I started looking at maternity stuff, expect a lot more posts like this. I think I'll be making a lot of my clothing for the next few months - it'll not only be less expensive, but I think I'll have a higher likelihood of actually enjoying what I'm wearing that way, too. ;)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Simplicity 3503 - The silk jersey gown

Note to self - jersey dresses are totally the way to go for formal events with short sewing deadlines. The fitting is easier, the dresses are more comfortable (at least for me) and if you make it in something as luxe as silk jersey, the drape and movement is just beautiful. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with this gown. :)

After attaching the skirt to the muslin bodice, I realized I had actually mis-judged my size and needed to jump down one. Thankfully, re-tracing the pieces was quick and then it was a breeze to cut out the dress pieces from that beautiful silk jersey and sew it up. I did a self-lining for the upper bodice portion and then used a thick beefy rayon jersey to line the midriff band and the skirt. This made the dress feel nice and stable and provided an extra layer of warmth against the legs - especially nice since we had a real cold spell this weekend in Los Angeles. Aside from lining the skirt, I sewed the dress exactly per the pattern instructions. Such a wonderfully drafted pattern and one that I'm sure to revisit this summer.

My friend Rachael, that owns Charmed Beauty came up and did my hair and make-up. After putting in the time on a great dress, it was well worth it to splurge for professional hair and make-up to boot. She did a fabulous job and I felt so pretty and chic.

The event itself was lovely. The food was delicious, the decor delightful and the whole vibe of the event happy and uplifting. Shaun Robinson from Access Hollywood hosted the auction portion of the event and she was great. I always knew she was pretty, but in person, she is tiny and drop dead gorgeous. Wow.

The California Science Center does some amazing work for our community. The science outreach they do to kids of all ages, but especially minority and lower income students is really fantastic and much needed. As a science nerd myself, anything that fosters a love of science in children gets a huge kudos from me.

Here is one last picture from the night with my cutie pie husband Jim. Such a fun evening!