what I’m into {September}

Hello, and happy fall! I’m heading into the final weeks of this pregnancy, and I’m ever-grateful for the cooler temperatures. This month has seen energy highs and lows for me, in all areas: housekeeping, sewing, cooking. Despite my energy spikes and dips, this changing of seasons does mark the last leg of pregnancy for me, and for that, I doubly love this year’s autumn.

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what I’ve been sewing

I’ve stopped sewing clothes at this point. With less than four weeks to go until my due date, I don’t have the mental or physical energy to sew more clothes (especially since my body will be changing so much in the coming months). I have one more clothing project that I want to complete before the babe, and that’s a pair of pajamas to bring with me to the hospital.

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But all that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been sewing! In fact, I’ve spent a hefty amount of time in the sewing room this month. I finally finished the Tangelo quilt top that I’m making for Asher’s bed. I love it, and can’t wait to see it all quilted and bound. Alas, I’m having issues with the actual quilting part. Even with a walking foot, the quilting part is proving monumental. The quilt top + batting + backing makes for such a large, heavy, and unwieldy mass, that I’m doubting my machine’s ability to handle it. And at this point, I’m seriously considering outsourcing the quilting to a professional. Doing so might save my quilt and my sanity.

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My real pet project of the month has been the diaper bag. At the beginning of the month, I ordered fabric and hardware. I’ve really taken my time with this one, because I really, really care about it. So far it’s all coming together exactly how I want. I had to order more hardware (my d-ring counting was seriously off), and I ordered different webbing. This week the bag sewing is on hold until the hardware comes in, which should be on Friday. I’m dying to get going again, but I can’t do anything until those blasted d-rings come in the mail. Until then I’ll caress the scraps of Italian leather that I’m not using on the bag.

what I’ve been reading

Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand

I loved this book. Loved it. Hillenbrand is such a skilled writer that I’ve committed to read anything she publishes. She can make you care about anything, and that is good nonfiction.

Stephen King

I just finished 11/22/63, a story about travelling back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. Whatever your preconceptions are about Stephen King, this novel is not horror in any degree. It’s a fascinating story with a compelling supernatural element. I sped through this one (all 800+ pages of it) and was once again impressed by King and his writing. I’m also reading On Writing, his writing manual – slash-memoir. The more of King’s works I read the more I respect him as a truly skilled writer.

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And speaking of Stephen King, I’m teaming up with my friend Miranda, owner of Hairpin Letterpress, in reading something spooky during October. This year we decided to do a vampire double feature: a reread of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the novel we picked four years ago) plus Stephen King’s second published work Salem’s Lot. I’m positive that this book will be far more in the horror category than anything I’ve read of King’s so far, so if you’re not comfortable with that, then go ahead and just read Dracula with us! I actually really loved Dracula and found it perfect for October reading. I’ll also be sure to write a helpful review for Salem’s Lot, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. If I’ve learned anything from my wading into Stephen King novels, it’s that King is a great writer and storyteller and that he doesn’t write icky things just for the heck of it. Yes, some of his works may make some readers uncomfortable, but he is very intentional in his stories, and I can respect that. Let me know if you’re going to join in!

what I’ve been listening to

I’ve found a few new podcasts over the past couple of months.

seamwork radio

Seamwork Radio: This podcast is produced by Colette Patterns as a companion to the Seamwork magazine. The first episode launched last week and featured Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette. It was insightful and interesting, and I can’t wait to see what this facet of Seamwork has in store.

The Simple Show: A reboot of The Art of Simple podcast, The Simple Show is an extension of theartofsimple.net. I’ve been a long-time reader of this blog and enjoy following Tsh on social media. Listening to an episode is like sitting in on a relaxed chat with old friends. I’m exposed to new ideas and validated in my desire and drive to live a simple life. This podcast is definitely worth checking out.

Sorta Awesome: I stumbled on this podcast a few months ago and have come to really look forward to the weekly update in my podcast app. It’s another chatty podcast that explores every kind of topic from personality types to anxiety to hospitality. Occasionally the episodes wax a bit long, but I enjoy the personalities of the hosts and the community they’ve created.

Judge John Hodgman: My sister introduced me to this podcast a while ago, so I don’t know why I’ve taken so long to publicly endorse it. John Hodgman tackles a new “case” each week submitted by listeners. He hears each side of the issue, asks questions, and gives a ruling. It’s hilarious. Start with episode 195: The Grandfather Claws. You’re welcome.

I’ve also been back into the Harry Potter audio books. I’ve always loved Harry Potter on audio, and every time I find my HP groove again, I’m delighted. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this series, because I can’t keep track of the frequency. I just started book 7 and am convinced more and more that Harry Potter is quality literature and should go down in the annals of great writing. I just love it.

what I’ve been watching

Fall television is here! I feel ridiculous admitting how excited I really am about the fall premiers, but here we are. In no particular order, I present my fall TV docket:

:: The Mindy Project

:: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

:: The Awesomes

:: Gotham

:: Saturday Night Live

:: The Muppets

:: Bob’s Burgers

:: Grimm

:: Grey’s Anatomy

:: The Blacklist

:: The Good Wife

:: Jane the Virgin

Typing out this list makes me feel even more ridiculous, but I have to own it now. Most of these shows Josh and I watch together, and some of them I watch on my own.

As always I’m linking up this post with Leigh Kramer. What have you been into this month? What have you been sewing? Reading? Watching? Listening to? Anything I should know about?

Posted in regular life | Tagged | 4 Responses

morning sewing

Ninety-nine percent of the time I sew during my son’s afternoon nap. If I put down my phone and resist that obsessive urge to check Instagram one more time, then I can usually bank at least two hours of sewing time. Sometimes, though, by 1:30 in the afternoon, I’m physically and mentally spent. Even when I have a project I want to work on sometimes I read during that time, watch a TV show, or nap myself. Daily naps from my toddler don’t always equate to daily sewing on my part, even though sewing is almost always my preferred activity.

Asher started a once-a-week joy school this month, which means that on Mondays, I have two whole hours all to myself. That first week of our little co-op preschool I dropped Asher off and sped back home to take advantage of my kid-less morning. I headed straight up to my sewing machine and pumped out some more paper piecing. When I picked my son up two hours later, I was completely energized by the creative work I accomplished first thing in the morning.

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{Morning sewing round #1: paper piecing and cocoa}

Then last week a friend of mine suggested a childcare swap: she’d take my boy for a morning so I could sew, and then the next week we’d switch so she could work on a project. Yesterday was my day to have a sewing morning, and once again I reveled in how different my energy level was and how much I enjoyed sewing first thing in the morning.

I wonder how morning sewing on a regular basis would affect my well-being. It feels indulgent, but maybe it’s the right kind of indulgent. Instead of feeling drained by early afternoon, I was ready to keep going. During yesterday’s nap time I decided to park by my sewing machine again, but had I planned to tackle housework or other tasks, I think I’d have had more energy for those chores as well. I understand the virtues of the work-first-play-later maxim, but what if your play gives you more energy and momentum to work later? What if switching the order of chores and play could actually turn on your brain and pump up your overall work ethic?

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{Morning sewing round #2: diaper bag progress}

Right now I’ll be lucky to eke out morning sewing a couple of times a month, and that’s mainly thanks to the preschool co-op. (And then when the baby lady arrives, I’ll probably spend many of those Monday mornings going back to bed instead of being creative.) But someday I hope I’ll have more mornings to devote to sewing. I’m holding on to that promise, because it rocked my world.

When do you sew? When do you prefer to sew? What do you think about switching work-then-play to play-then-work?

Posted in inspriation, regular life | 4 Responses

an indictment against RTW maternity sections

While I have tried to make as much of my own maternity wardrobe as I can this pregnancy, I have had still had to shop in the maternity sections.

And I have been greatly disappointed.

Every place I’ve been this pregnancy, the maternity section is a gross afterthought. Clothes are crammed together as tightly as possible, sometimes not even organized by size or style, making it a feat in and of itself to find anything of remote possibility. The selection is typically slim. At one store the maternity and plus-size sections are so close together that I’ll find myself riffling through a rack only to figure out after a minute or two that the clothes aren’t even maternity at all. In another store, the maternity clothes were shoved onto one end cap plus two overcrowded racks right next to the lingerie, which I will have no hope of fitting into anytime soon. Thanks for that reminder.

The process of finding something that I even might want to purchase is so maddening that I usually storm off without buying anything. And all of that crammed, ill-kempt merchandise is only a symptom of a much bigger problem: I do not feel valued as a customerAt all.

Yes, pregnant women are a very specific subset of customer who require specific styles of clothing. But we are still people with feelings (perhaps an abundance of feelings compared with the average female shopper), and we want to feel pretty. Having to slog through haphazard clothing displays does absolutely nothing for our morale and makes us feel frustrated, frumpy, and irritated.

I was so upset by a particular shopping experience over Labor Day weekend that I left an establishment crying. Why do companies and stores treat their pregnant customers this way? Why is this even a thing? Because those of us growing people are willing to spend our money and time shopping for clothes that make us feel good; so why has the process of shopping for RTW maternity clothes make us feel so damn crummy?

I’m not asking much when I expect a store to value me as a client. I choose where to spend my money, and I deserve to have a positive shopping experience, especially from established, very well-known and respected companies. And I deserve that regardless of what type of clothes I need to buy, maternity or otherwise.

What do you think? Should I call up customer service at some of these places to voice my opinion? Have you had bad experiences shopping for a particular type of clothing? What do you think a store’s responsibility is to its customer?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Response

the dress I lived in all summer

You want to know the hardest thing about maintaining a sewing blog? Because it’s definitely not the sewing. The hardest thing about keeping a sewing blog for me is the gap from finishing a project to photographing it. Because most of my projects are apparel items, taking pictures means that I need to set up the camera on the tripod (preferably on the day I’m already wearing my new garment) and find a good place (usually one of three options) to take the required pictures. I’d love to take pictures with neat backgrounds (or at least backgrounds more varied from the spots I pick around my house), but that would involve even more coordination (with a toddler in tow) and potentially more awkward encounters with strangers. (Mental dialogue: “Yes, I am taking pictures of myself using a nice camera and a tripod. No, I’m not a narcissist. Promise.”)

So, all of that to say that I made this dress at the beginning of the summer and just got around to photographing it a week ago. And given the frequency with which I wear this number, I really have no good excuse why I hadn’t buckled down to take these pictures before now.

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I present you with the perfect summer dress, maternity or otherwise. This is another Colette Moneta, though this time sewn with a maternity adjustment. This pattern (already blogged here, here, and here) practically begs for a maternity variation, and it’s such a simple design that the adjustment barely took any extra time.

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I shortened the bodice by two inches, lengthened the skirt by two inches, and lowered the pockets by two inches. Voila! Maternity dress win. I sewed the entire dress the same way that I’d sew the non-maternity pattern. It was perfection.

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I found this fabric at Denver Fabrics last March, and I love it. It’s a lightweight jersey, absolute perfection for a summer dress. When I finished sewing this particular dress, I texted my mom and said that next time I’m in town I need to go back to Denver Fabrics to buy another cut of this lavender animal print, because I’d be sad to have this only as a maternity dress. It’s dying to be a regular Moneta as well. Well, when I did make it back to Colorado earlier in the summer, we uncharacteristically didn’t end up getting to the fabric store. Alas.

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But then–I had a birthday last week. One of the boxes my parents sent contained a cute maternity maxi skirt and my mom’s own cut of the lavender animal print jersey. When we found this knit, we each bought a cut, and she sent me hers. And either because the gesture really is so wonderful or because I’m hormonal or probably both, I cried. And then I dabbed at my tears while caressing the jersey with one hand and sipping my 44-ounce fountain drink with the other.

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As far as my actual pregnancy goes, it’s advancing steadily. Though I still have several projects to tackle and complete before the baby lady’s arrival, I’m ready to welcome October. As of yesterday, I’m officially sitting at 32 weeks, which means that I theoretically have eight weeks to do All the Things, a timeline both exciting and overwhelming. In addition to a diaper bag, I need to finish the quilt for Asher’s bed and put together the revamped kids’ room. And I also have to factor in my lagging energy and bodily aches and pains. Because the thing is that even though I rarely burn out on sewing, sometimes the couch and a library book call louder the sewing room (especially when my back hurts and fatigue sets in).

So let’s raise our fountain drinks to a couple more wears out of this summer maternity Moneta, energy for All the Sewing, and motivation to take pictures in a timely manner. Cheers!

Posted in blogging, Colette Patterns, maternity sewing | Tagged , , | 2 Responses

the beginnings of a diaper bag

While languishing next to the air conditioner the other day, I was dreaming of crisp mornings, changing leaves, sweaters, and hot chocolate. In between day dreams, though, I started researching fabrics for the diaper bag I want to make for when the new babe arrives. I plan on using the Colette Cooper pattern, with a handful of modifications for this soon-to-be mama of two.

I have a philosophy about diaper bags: They need to be cute. In fact, that’s maybe my primary focus. Because here’s the thing: the baby will not be using the diaper bag. I’ll be the one toting that thing around for at least the next year, and I want to like it–nay, I want to love it. I loved the bag I used with Asher, but after eighteen months it, understandably, wore out. For a new babe, I need a new bag. And this time I’m going to make it myself.

For fabric, I’m looking at durable duck canvas prints and–if it’s in the budget–real leather. After poking around online, I found these contenders:

diaper bag inspiration 1

{from left to right, top to bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}

Clearly I’m finding inspiration in graphic prints and mostly neutral palettes. I also found these:

diaper bag inspiration 2

{from top to bottom: 1, 2, 3}

Something about the bird print really attracts me, and gingham is, well, gingham. I also found the Swiss cross print inexplicably alluring. I’m leaning toward a tobacco-colored leather as contrast, but am intrigued by some of the brighter leather options Mood Fabrics offers. And I haven’t even begun to research the perfect hardware for this bag. Because if the fabrics have to be perfect, then dammit, so does the hardware–so does the hardware.

What’s your favorite print of these options? Should I lean toward all neutral, or leap for one of the more colorful options?

Posted in inspriation, maternity sewing | 2 Responses