Sunday, November 25, 2012

Red Wrap

I get tired of my same old, same old brick chimney backdrop. And I like to play around with the seasonal goodies that PicMonkey puts out.  Sorry.

I decided to make something a little more snug for my bump after my 70's maternity top.  So I made up this Burdastyle knit wrap top from the 11/2011 issue.   Molly made up this same top a few months ago and I really liked her version.  I realized I had the perfect sweater knit in stash and that particular issue of Burda already.   Only I did a little slash-and-spread to the front piece to accommodate a growing belly.  I did a quick and dirty full belly alteration and added some length to the front so I could ruche the side seams to match the back.  It sort of worked.  I probably should have been a bit more technical about my alteration.  But my knit is super duper stretchy, so I wasn't too worried about it.

I cut a size smaller due to the stretchy nature of the sweater knit I used.  It's some sort of lightweight acrylic knit I found at Hancock last year.  Very warm and soft; two things I look for in clothing right now.  The instructions were pretty good for Burda.  This was the illustrated pattern of the issue, so that helped.  Only the illustrated instructions were not on the page the insert said they were on, fyi.  And after the instructions told you to put in the sleeve, they abruptly stopped.  I guess Burda figures you know how hem.  Anyway, those are nit-picky criticisms.   And actually, the hem is the only thing I'm not happy with.   Go figure.   My knit was so soft and stretchy, I should have stabilized the hem before stitching it.  It had to be hemmed, though, since this knit seems to unravel a bit at the edges.  Do you see that rippling?  I can't decide if I'll leave it, or fix it.   I like my top.  I don't love it, but I like it.  I like the soft, slouchy-ness of it.  One thing that bothers me is the fact that the sleeve seam slips off my shoulders and feels a little strange.  I'm assuming it's supposed to be that way since there is no shoulder seam.  I even caught myself in a photo sliding the seam back up on my shoulder.  I also stitched down the sides of the front pieces where they crossover in the front.  The drape part takes a while to situate just right otherwise.   I figure the seam there just resembles a bust dart.  It's pretty well hidden.

Any clue why the back of my top rides up so much?  Is my swayback becoming more extreme before my eyes?  I think I've always had a slight swayback, but now I think I'm actually going to have to accommodate for it.  With the belly I've got, I figured the front would ride up instead.  I may not have slashed and spread the front wide enough.   The side seam pulls toward the back.  And my ruching is almost non-existent.  I'll still wear it, though.  It is comfy.

And this is my little bump at 21 weeks.  I think the snugger stuff makes the bump look a little bit smaller, if you can believe that.  I feel huge, yet when I look at these photos I don't think I look very big.  I'm sure that will change ;)  I'll be cursing myself for saying I look small later on.  I agree with some of the comments on my last top that maybe the snug stuff is good for a bigger bump.  Little bub is definitely growing.  I felt some kung fu kicks and punches for the first time this week.  It sure is wild!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Snug Life


Yes, my husband is not ashamed to wear a picture of his cat on his shirt.  A very literal version of wearing your heart on your sleeve I suppose.  Tee hee.  Love you, J.

 J had a birthday last week.  For his birthday gift, I finally got around to making a tee shirt that we had talked about making for years.  The idea for this tee shirt was born while we were on our honeymoon three years ago.  While walking around Old San Juan, we went in to a tee shirt shop where they had a pug life tee shirt on display.  We thought it would be hilarious to make a snug life tee shirt instead.

See, we have this cat.  A cat named Socks who loves to snuggle.  I mean SNUGGLE.   I'll be honest, I've never seen anything like it.  Neither has J.  Socks will snuggle morning, noon and night.  I wake up in the middle of the night and he will be flopped on his back with his head on my shoulder.  He snuggles like a person.  He snuggles so much that sometimes it's really annoying and you have to push him off.  But you can't be mad at him for too long.  I mean, how many cats do you know that are so loving?  Our other cat is pretty indifferent to us.

I went though our photo roll and found lots of snuggle pictures, but some are just too embarrassing to post.  But here's one.  Socks' story is a funny one.  I was not a cat person before Socks.  In fact, I often claimed I hated cats.  Then my aunt asked me to cat sit for a year while she was doing humanitarian work in Africa.  That's when I got Socks.  He was a born in the gutter stray that she took in.  J and I laugh about he would never have made it out on the streets with his proclivity for warm places and snuggle.  He's too much of a wimp.   Anyway, he snuggled his way in to our home. When my aunt came back from Africa, I couldn't let him go and she was kind enough to let me keep him.  And now I can't believe I ever said I didn't like cats.

Back to the tee shirt.  I wanted to try out a photo screen printing kit I saw at Hobby Lobby by Plaid.  It was quite pricey ($40), but I used a 40% coupon which made it more reasonable.  Still a little pricey for my tastes.  I was not totally convinced it would work when I started this project.  I did some photo silk screening back in college and I remember needing a lot of sophisticated equipment.  We put photo emulsion on the screens in a dark room and used a huge glass light table to expose the screens. But this little kit does the same thing on a smaller scale.  It came with three small screens that already had photo emulsion on them in a black bag, a box with a socket and light bulb to be used for exposing the screen, and supplies to actually print your image after you make your screen.

All you have to do is print out the black and white image you want to use.  I used the photo of Socks above but altered it in PicMonkey to be only black and white.  In case you are wondering, I made it black and white first, played around with the brightness and contrast and then "posterized" it to only have two colors-  just black and white.  No grey.  I did add to the image since we wanted to see the top of his ears and whiskers on the other side of his face.  I worked back in to the image with a sharpie and then photocopied it.  I just used regular paper, not a transparency.  I laid my printed image face down on my screen and laid a piece of glass on top and then exposed it in the light box.  I did not use a piece of glass the first time I tried it and my image was not as successful.  The heat from the light bulb caused the paper to curl up even though I taped it down and missed a lot of detail.  So I highly recommend using a piece of glass on top.  I took a piece of glass out of a picture frame to use.

After exposing the screen for 25 minutes, I soaked it and removed the emulsion to form the image.  The emulsion that is exposed to light stays put and the emulsion beneath the black image is washed away.   I had to put the text on a separate screen because we wanted the image to be as big as possible.

Once the screen was dry I was ready to print.   My image was way too close to the edges but I attached a wide masking tape border before I printed.  That kept me from spilling ink over the edge of the screen.  The size of the screens was a bit of an issue.  I needed them to be just a little bit bigger.

I did a few practice prints before I printed J's tee shirt. I actually printed two tee shirts for him; a white ink on black tee and a black ink on gray tee.  I like the black image better.  The white ink soaked in to the tee shirt and looked very faded, which is ok.  I may make him one more.  You can wash the screen and use it again.  You can see below that the image is pretty close to the original print out.  There were some minute details lost but it's pretty darn close.  My only complaint is that the photo emulsion does not seem like it will last very long.  The edges feel pretty gummy and the more times I washed it, the more I felt like the edges would peel up.  I don't see it lasting for 50 prints like the instructions claim.  But it was great for making a few tees.

The verdict on Plaid's Custom Silk Screening Kit?  Fun and good for a printing a few small scale images.   But pretty expensive.  I wouldn't have bought it without the coupon.  You can also buy replacement screens but they are pricey, too.  Good thing Hobby Lobby lets you use a 40% coupon everyday if you like.   And no, I didn't receive any free stuff or compensation for this post which is why I'm not linking to the product.  You can look it up online if you are interested.  Just my honest opinions.

He's going to kill me for posting this photo, bwahahaha!
J likes his tee shirt and that's all that really matters.  
Happy Birthday to a man who is not ashamed to snuggle with his cat!  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Groovy Mama

Maternity wear circa 1975.  Can you dig it?

I've been scouring the internet for decent maternity patterns.  I've found a few, but I really enjoy the ones from the 70's for some reason.  I ordered this pattern and made it up right away when it arrived.  It would have been a super quick if I hadn't made so many dumb mistakes.  But I have an excuse-- my brain cells are depleted.  Does anyone else find it a little creepy that being pregnant actually reduces brain cells?  Hopefully only temporarily.

I originally moved the bust darts down 3/4" after holding up the paper patten piece and seeing that they were pretty high.  When I sewed them up and tried on my top, they were way to low.  Bust darts that are too low do not do anyone any favors imo.  So I unpicked and moved them back up to the original pattern placement.  Now they are too high again, but higher is definitely better than low.  Next time I'll go somewhere in between.  I also had to unpick and straighten the shoulder seams.  I knew when looking at the paper pattern piece that the shoulder seam was at too much of angle for me but decided to sew it up as is.  I should have trusted my instincts and straightened them out in the beginning.  My original hemming job was absolutely hilarious.  I've never hemmed anything so crooked before.  The front angled down to one side while the back angled down to the other.  So I also had to unpick all that decorative stitching and straighten everything out.  There was lots and lots of unpicking.  But I'm glad I persevered.

I used a brushed cotton interlock I had in my stash.  It's heavier than a tee shirt knit but lighter weight than sweatshirt fleece.  It feels like a really thin sweatshirt.  I used a decorative stitch on either side of every seam that mimics the look of "athletic" stitching on active wear.   The idea for that came from Tanitisis.   I used a turquoise thread to break up the otherwise drab olive green. I didn't like the way the split at the neckline looked on it's own so I folded down the edges and pressed to make it look like a little collar.  I'm not happy with the points on the "collar" but they'll do.  I would actually like to make this again in a black drape-y knit but I think I'd round off the edges there at the neckline split.  

It's very comfortable and casual.  And great for a burgeoning belly!  I haven't been in to maternity wear that clings and hugs every curve thus far.  I think I prefer the loose and blouse-y over the snug.  I guess I prefer the "tent" silhouette, though I've never liked that term.  But maybe I'll change my mind as I get bigger.  What do you think?  Is the tent silhouette totally frumpy and unflattering?  Maybe I should make something snug and compare...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Making Room For Baby

 Let me preface that this post is about home stuff.  Just in case you're not interested in that sort of thing.  Because oh boy, there are some major changes going on in the Jane household.  Who knew we owned so much crap.  So much crap.  It's amazing how much stuff you can accumulate without even realizing it.  J and I are making room for baby and our house is totally turned upside down.  I have had to clean out every closet and shuffle all sorts of things around.  It's my own fault, though, since I was using two different closets for selfish purposes.  We have gotten rid of so much stuff.  It feels good.  Only I know with a new baby we are about to accumulate so much more... 

First, I want to profess my love for my house.  I really, really love the house we live in.  I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about what a nice place we have.  I'm so grateful.  We bought our house at the right time and got way more bang for our buck than I ever imagined.  We moved in almost two years ago and we have slowly redone every room but two.   We put in the maple floors right away.  A perk of having a husband who works for a hardwood flooring company.  J and I have painted every surface in all the rooms we've done so far- walls, ceilings, and trim.  We had no choice with the trim since the previous owners painted latex trim paint over the old oil paint- grrrrrr.  It really has made it all feel brand new, even though the house is the same age as me (which is extremely young and vibrant, imho!).  

Besides the bathrooms (which we're not remodeling until we have more money- that will be awhile), the only two rooms we haven't redone are the master bedroom and this bedroom, which will now be a nursery.  This particular bedroom was our junk room.  Anytime we didn't have a place for something, we put it in the junk room.  Furniture, boxes of junk, books, old computers... anything and everything.  This room also used to house my fabric.  The previous owners had a baby boy in this room.  I'll admit, the stripes are not my favorite.

J is in the process of putting in some picture frame molding (or would you call it fake wainscoting? I'm never sure of the term).  I think it already looks better with just some primer.  He's pretty darn handy.  We haven't picked a wall color yet but I'm leaning a certain way.  Do you think the moldings are too formal for a nursery?  We liked the idea of doing something different-- trying something new.  And quite honestly, I prefer when the decor doesn't just fit one style.  I like the out-of-place.  Perfect symmetry makes me nervous, too.  Anyway, we have some more nursery ideas in the works.  I'm excited to see it all come together.  Nothing too cutesy.

Somehow in the shuffle I managed to claim the guest room closet for my fabric.  A whole entire closet!  I am very much ashamed of the size of my stash yet also weirdly giddy about seeing it all put away like this.  My only compromise was that I had to share the closet with an old tv that we have absolutely no use for.  I guess if J is willing to let me have a whole closet for fabric I can't complain about hanging on to an old television for no apparent reason.

I'm awfully proud of my organization.  I sorted through everything.  I gave several pieces of fabric away and took some bundles of scraps to school.  And then I organized.  I have every type of fabric imaginable.   I have no reason to buy any more fabric for years.  Seriously.  Except of course for some baby related things ;)

I also redid my sewing space out in the sunroom.  My old sewing space (seen here) had a huge desk set up in an L shape.  In the beginning, I thought it was great.  As I used it, however, I realized that it was really hard to get in and out of.  I was sort of squeezed in to an uncomfortably tight space.  And my chair doesn't roll very well on the carpet.  We needed to get our old computer desk out of the junk room so it became my new sewing desk.  The book shelf came from the junk room, too.  I'm so pleased with the set up so far.  I sewed this past weekend and it was really nice having open space, though my chair could be a little higher.


Even though we've done a major cull and reorganization, I still feel the burden of too much stuff.   I still want to simplify.  Between sewing supplies, tools, art supplies and the upcoming new addition- we're swamped.   Years ago, I spent my entire junior year of college overseas (plus another month) and I lived out of one bag.  One bag!  I remember how free and uninhibited I felt not being tied down by stuff.  Not to get too philosophical, but I want life to be about the important things, not the stuff.  How do you manage it all in your home?  And is it possible to sew as a hobby without accumulating so many things?  I think I already know the answer to this...  Time to take up a hobby that doesn't require supplies.  What do you suggest? :)