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Coming Back from Maternity Leave

I’m currently easing my way back from maternity leave, dipping my toes into the metaphorical sand (the water at the beach was too cold). Unfortunately, with a crummy pregnancy and then a newborn baby, I’ve been away from SeamstressErin Designs (doing just enough to keep my business from falling apart but not enough to make any steps forward) for a year now. And I miss it! I miss working. I’m still trying to figure out some details, but I have childcare lined up two mornings a week starting today, and I’m very excited to be back. What does this mean for you, my dear friend? Well, probably not much in the short term. Two mornings a week isn’t enough time to make speedy progress on anything, but I have a whole notebook full of ideas and a couple of patterns that I’m diving into and suuuuper excited about. I don’t have …

9

VintagePledge July Dress (Butterick 3068)

To celebrate #VPJuly, I sewed a 1970’s dress (Vintage Butterick 3068) from 1970’s fabric.  To read about the pattern and the vintage aspects of the dress, pop on over to A Stitching Odyssey. (And while you’re there, look at the other inspiring vintage makes she has gathered over the course of the month!) Here, I thought I’d a personal account about why I chose the fabric and pattern. I agonized about whether or not to use this fabric. You see, I totally adore this floral fabric. Like massive #fabriccrush. It’s vintage (from a stash I inherited from a friend who inherited from an elderly friend who probably bought it new back in the day) and the flowers are a combination  of printed onto the thick, loose-weave linen and then painted on top of the print. And it seemed like it would be perfect for the bodice of this dress. So why not use …

4

A Fully Armed Battalion Embroidery

When my husband is into something, he tends to get a bit obsessed. For example, the soundtrack to Hamilton has been on repeat on our stereo for months now. Adam’s 40th birthday was 2 months ago. I wanted to do something really special for him to celebrate, but I couldn’t take him to go see Hamilton in New York since I had our baby 2 days before his birthday and traveling across the country at 9 months pregnant isn’t really feasible. So, to commemorate his big birthday, I embroidered him a love letter in the form of lyrics from Hamilton. “Oceans rise. Empires fall. We have seen each through it all. And when push comes to shove, I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love.” I think You’ll be Back is my favorite song from the musical and I thought it a more appropriate lyrical …

How to Embroider the Chain Stitch

The chain stitch is my new favorite embroidery stitch. Sorry stem stitch, I’ve replaced you. I want to chain stitch all the things now! Chain stitch is fun to do and, though it takes a little bit to get used to keeping the tension even, it zooms along once you get the hang of it. It makes an interesting outline and an even more interesting textured fill, like I used on the boat above. To embroider the chain stitch, start with your needle coming up from the bottom of your work. Put your needle back into the same hole or right next to it. Pull the needle to the back side but leave the floss as a big loop. Pull the needle through to the right side of your work at the point where you would like the next stitch to start. Gently pull your thread through until the loop you created …

2

A Delivery Gown to RAWR In!

It’s no secret that I really like to wear dinosaurs on my clothes. (Sidenote: It’s a lot easier to find dinosaurs on baby clothes so I’ve totally been stockpiling dino clothes from the thrift store for Evie and every time wishing that I could get the fabric or the clothes in my size). I figured that, of all times in my life that I might need an extra bit of RAWR to get me through, labor and delivery would be at the top. So I sewed myself a delivery gown out of dino print fabric (an awesome thrift store score). The gown silhouette is essentially a raglan sleeve muumuu. I added fullness for the front (to accommodate a very pregnant belly) by putting a couple of large pleats in the front neckline. They’re pulled pretty taught in this photo since Eloise is larger all around than I am, but there …

5

The Pants Formerly Known As Maternity

I get it now. I succumbed to one of those clickbait articles “Top Secrets of New Moms” or something like that while I was pregnant and the #1 secret was “Maternity Pants.” Moms keep wearing maternity pants after they are no longer pregnant because they are so comfortable. And I was like “No way. Not me. I’m already sick of all my maternity clothes. These are immediately getting passed on to a pregnant friend.” Turns out I was wrong. I totally get it now. Maternity Pants. I sewed these while pregnant and wore them a bunch as they were the only pair of maternity pants I had that really fit me (since they were the only non-RTW pair I had). I used my perfect fitting jeans block, graded up a couple of sizes, and subbed out the waistband for extra-wide elastic. (Side note: I used a heavy-duty elastic and found it …

6

Flamingos Are the New Black Shirt

I have pretty much nothing in my closet I can wear right now. I knew that I was going to need a new wardrobe for maternity, but I gave no thought to my post-natal body. It turns out that it’s a totally different size and shape than my normal body (duh). Combine that with the need to constantly nurse my adorable parasite (making most dresses impossible) and I’m pretty desperate for some clothes. Since I have so little sewing time these days (again, thanks to my adorable parasite), I figured I’d start with some basics – simple staple pieces that I can wear with anything. And this is what I came up with. #flamingosarethenewblack I’m not so sure what to wear to fit and flatter my body right now (which I talked about in my last newsletter. Oh, you don’t subscribe to my newsletter? Fix that here!) so I opted …

5

Baby’s Hope Chest Part 2

Though I knew that my mom had saved family heirlooms for me to give to my baby, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Adam’s mom had as well! She brought us a small bundle of clothes just after Evelyn’s birth and shared their histories. I think my favorite is this adorable green velvet outfit that Adam’s Grandmother Sheila sewed for him (entirely by hand) for his first Christmas outfit. I really hope it fits Evelyn come Christmas because she’s already too big for my first Christmas outfit! (I was a preemie and born in November so mine is tiny). Okay, so maybe my favorite is this jumpsuit that Adam’s mom sewed for him. I love how very 70’s it is and can’t wait for Evie to wear it! I might have to make myself a super 70’s jumpsuit to wear at the same time… Adam’s godmother Caro hand sewed a …

4

Vintage Pink Gooseberry Pyrex Inspired Tea Towels

While the the majority of our house is decorated around a mid-century modern style, I’ve opted for straight up mid-century with a nice dose of kitsch (e.g. my chicken tea cosy) for our kitchen. I think it adds quite a bit of needed cheer to what is otherwise a pretty gloomy room – the small windows don’t get much light, the countertops are dark, and there is dark wood floor, cabinets, and ceiling. Someday we’ll do a major remodel, but in the meantime I’m adding in things that are bright and happy (and by bright and happy I usually mean pink) and it’s already making a difference. My Aunt got me started on a collection of vintage pink gooseberry print pyrex bowls. I’ve kept my eye out at thrift stores and have added a couple more to my collection. They definitely fulfill my kitchen requirements of being cheerful and mid-century, and of …

39

Evelyn Rose’s Birth Story

I’ll cut straight to the punchline, since it’s what really matters. Evelyn Rose was born May 11th at 8 lbs 5 oz, 21″ long. We named her after my great-grandmothers Evelyn and Roseada and Adam’s great-aunts Evelyn and Rosina. She is happy and healthy and we are completely infatuated with her. There are all sorts of pithy aphorisms that I could use to introduce Evelyn’s birth such story as “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. Though I had drafted a pretty thorough birth plan that included many different contingencies, Evelyn managed to make her grand entrance in a way that we hadn’t even remotely considered – she was born in the front seat of our car, 10 minutes from the hospital. On May 10th, Evelyn’s due date, I started to have some cramps that I figured were probably contractions. I could walk and talk through …

8

Planning My Garden

There’s been a whole lot of daydreaming going on around here (from sewing ideas to wanting to make hats) since there hasn’t been a lot of doing, thanks to this pregnancy. My latest daydreams are revolving around my garden, and I’m pretty dang excited to show some absolutely massive changes that have happened to our yard and to share what I want to do now that the changes are in place. When we bought the house last year, we had a list of construction projects that we wanted to (eventually) do in the house to make it our dream house. What we didn’t realize, is that the property needed a major construction project as well. After living in our house for a bit, we discovered two major flaws in the property – 1) It was hard to get into the house. There were steep and uneven gravel paths leading to the …

5

Pillows & Our Mid-Century Living Room

Although our house was built in 1920 and is true to the craftsman style on the outside, it has undergone a bunch of remodels that have dramatically changed the inside. One of the things that we love about it is the wide open living room with tons of windows. The living room was at one point mostly a covered front porch that was the entrance to the house. It was closed in and the front door was moved to the side at some point in our house’s history. At some point in the 1970’s (which may or may not have been when the front door was moved), a built-in couch was added to the living room. I wasn’t totally sold on the built-in when we bought the house, although it’s true to the mid-century modern style that we decorate, but I must say that now that we have lived here …

6

Dreaming of Hats

I’ve never been a huge hat person. With my very narrow face, I have to be careful about what style I pick, and I’ve always had a lot of hair that isn’t necessarily easy to fit under a hat. On the flip side, with my pale skin I need to be careful to keep out of the sun, and I’d usually rather wear a hat than sunscreen (or both, since I am that pale). I tend to steal borrow a hat from my mom when the occasion warrants it (like our trip to Hawaii). However, with Spring sun in full force here and visions of pushing baby in her stroller all around our neighborhood in the Summer, I’ve been daydreaming of owning a selection of giant brimmed straw hats. Once I start daydreaming of something, the first first question in my mind is “Can I make it myself?”. Enter The Making …

2

Baby Girl’s Hope Chest

I am so lucky to come from a line of strong, creative, skilled women who not took the time to hand make things for their families but also recognized the importance of saving them for future generations. My mom has kept a hope chest for me full of things from my childhood and she and I recently went through it to clean and sort things for my soon-to-be-here baby girl. I thought it would be fun to share a bit of what she saved here. I wanted to start by sharing the pieces that my Grandma Currie (my dad’s mom) knit for me because my G’ma passed away two weeks ago. She was a formidable knitter, crocheter and seamstress (which I talked about in my post about my grandmothers). Thinking of her legacy and being excited to share it with my baby has helped me to be at peace with her …

9

Day-Glo Brocade Maternity Coat

Uninspired maternity style, meet your match. This day-glo orange brocade coat is the only thing I have worn during this pregnancy that feels 100% me, and I’m happily wearing it every single day for these last two months of my pregnancy. Seriously, I’m finding excuses to leave the house, just so I can wear this coat! I used Burda 7024 Maternity Jacket/Coat for the pattern with no major changes (other than major fitting changes). I did interline the bodice so it would have a bit more warmth (and if you follow me on Instagram you can see how silly the insides look as I used a bunch of random flannel scraps for the interlining!). I also fully lined the coat (as per the pattern instructions) with a polyester habotai. Pop on over to my post on the Minerva Crafts blogger network to see more pictures and read about my amazing button and the dramatic …

11

Button Storage

I know not all sewists accumulate large stashes of sewing supplies, but I certainly do. Buttons have always been something that have stymied me a bit – how do I organize my button stash so that it is functional? I’ve stumbled onto a solution that makes things both organized and pretty, so I thought I would share! I have purchased almost none of the buttons in my stash – they are the sort of thing that I have inherited from friends and family (including from a couple of my grandmothers). Accordingly, they range from single buttons to sets of more than a dozen. I divided my buttons out by the number of buttons in the set, since I hardly want to dig through all of them if I know I need many of the same button. I put together one jar of single buttons, one jar of sets of 2-5, …

3

Fringed Drape Front Cardigan

I have just finished knitting the ultimate neutral sweater for spring/fall. What? You don’t consider pink, red and orange stripes to be neutral? Come on. Look at all that beige in there. It’s totally a neutral! I started knitting it in the summer for wear this fall. And then I got pregnant and stopped knitting anything that required any mental energy (since this is a bit more complicated than the rectangles that made up my knit-while-pregnant twist front sweater and red shrugigan). However, it seems like, despite a miserable first and second trimester, I’m going to have a third trimester where I feel mostly human (woohoo!), so I was able to rally the mental energy to finish this cardigan just in time to wear for spring. And, since it’s open front, I can actually wear it this spring! The pattern is Fringed Cardigan from Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2015. They suggested …

6

Twist Front Sweater

I laid out my lengthy requirements for knitting-while-pregnant projects when showing off my red sweater shrugigan. This twist front sweater definitely fit the bill (and even more stringently since I actually knit this sweater first and my brain was even less functional at the time). Were I not trying to fill those requirements, I probably never would have knit this sweater since it’s just stockinette rectangles, but I’m pretty happy that I did. I think it’s going to be an even more fun addition to my wardrobe post-maternity and I’m considering exploring a similar shape for a sewn garment or two. The pattern is Drape Front Sweater from Vogue Knitting Winter 2011/2012. I made two fairly hefty (but simple) changes to the pattern. First, the drape is intended to be, well, bigger, and hang down across the whole torso. Since I’ve got a babybump in the way at the moment, …

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A Mess of Baby Clothes

A bunch of baby clothes has a nice alliteration to it, but it seems that the proper term for “lots of baby clothes” must be a mess, since that’s what they are all going to turn into once they actually get worn! I started working on this pile of baby clothes during my first trimester. Since it’s been a crummy pregnancy the whole way through, it took me weeks to cut out the clothes and then months to get them sewn. But that’s okay. Each bit of sewing stemmed from a small burst of energy, and I was able to pour that energy into tangible bits of love and excitement for baby’s arrival. I made a range of sizes from newborn to 9 months so that she doesn’t outgrow my work all at once and used a pile of different patterns as well, including several vintage patterns. All the fabrics …

2

Spaghetti Lace Crochet Runner

Little by little, I continue to add handmade touches to our home. My pace of decorating has dramatically slowed through this challenging pregnancy, but I am pretty delighted to have finished a crocheted rug to go at the foot of our bed. I think it strikes a pretty good balance between visually interesting and calming, which is what I have been trying to achieve in the bedroom. And it breaks up the vast expanse of beige rug… The runner is my own pattern – a modification of my Spaghetti Lace Rug pattern. (I detailed the changes I made to the pattern to turn it from a small rug to a runner on Ravelry.) I used Hoooked Zpagetti yarn (which is an extra-bulky yarn made from leftover textiles from ready-to-wear fashion) and a size 10mm crochet hook. For more photos and details on the project, check out my post on the Minerva Crafts blogger network.

2

Book Review: Women in Clothes

For the first time in my life, I have a style bible. What I find amazing about this book, is that I believe it can be every woman’s style bible. Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton, & 639 others is a gem of a book and unlike anything else I have read. Most books on fashion or style are all about what you should do – how to dress for your particular age or figure, or how to emulate a specific person or designer, and rarely do I find one that rings true to me. Those “shoulds” are exactly what this book is not. Women in Clothes is a conversation with hundreds of women about their relationship with the clothes they wear. There are no “shoulds”, there are no judgements, there is simply an exploration. There are conversations with an amazing diversity of women – including women …

2

Red Knit Shrugigan

A silver lining to being stuck on the couch all the time is having a plethora of time to knit. Right now, any project I knit is limited by a few serious design constraints: 1) I want the knitting to be something I can wear as soon as it’s done, so it has to work on a pregnant body 2) I want to be actually want to continue to wear it after I’m done with this whole pregnancy thing so it needs to fit into my non-pregnant wardrobe 3) my brain is mush these days so it can’t be particularly complicated (which is what I usually prefer to knit) 4) the yarn needs to come from my stash (well, it doesn’t really have to, but I’m trying very hard to finish getting my studio in awesome organized shape, and it would really help if my yarn stash actually fit in …

2

Up in Arms Blouse in Sew News Feb/March 2016

My Up In Arms Blouse, which I originally wrote for Sew It All TV, was published in this month’s (February/March 2016) Sew News Magazine. The fun thing about the version in the magazine is that it highlights all four different sleeve options! I think one of the great things about such a simple blouse is that changing up a single detail – like fabric choice or sleeve choice – really gives a totally different feel for each garment. It’s always fun to get samples back, and the awesome part about this blouse is that, because it’s gathered above the bust, I can actually still wear it right now! The armscyes are a bit tight (as, with the 30 lbs I’ve gained in this pregnancy so far, I’m definitely no longer sample size) but the blouse fits over my bust and my babybump! Of course it ends up stopping mid-belly, but …

Better Pictures Project on Crafting a Rainbow

For a few months now the awesome Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow has been working on the Better Pictures Project. She’s working hard to take better photos for her blog and sharing with us what she has learned along the way. I know she has inspired a bunch of us sewing bloggers to up our own photo game along with her. Part of her series is asking a different muse each month to talk about a specific aspect of their own blog photography that can inspire others. I was honored to be her February muse wherein I talk about looking comfortable in front of the camera – notice that I said looking comfortable, not being comfortable. Even after years of blogging I still feel awkward in front of a camera, but I share some tips and tricks that I use to fool others into thinking that isn’t so! Pop over …

7

Fancy Fox Diaper Bag

I’m not feeling all that cute these days. This pregnancy continues to be rough and it’s hard to feel like you look cute when you feel crummy. I hear that cute may be a little hard to come by after baby arrives as well as I’ll be sleep deprived and covered in baby’s body fluids. But you know what will be consistently cute? My new diaper bag! I mean seriously, look at these foxes. They are so. darn. cute. And the polka dots and bright orange contrast? Yeah, it makes them even cuter. I know. All of the fabrics came from Minerva Crafts. The foxes are from the Frolicking Forest by Heather Rosas line of quilting cottons. The body fabric is their spotty cotton canvas, a midweight canvas that’s a good weight for purses and bags. The orange is their plain cotton poplin, which is exactly what it sounds like – a …

4

2015 in Review

2015 has been quite a year for me personally. The year started with bang and has hit some small and large bumps to end up where it is now. In January, we officially moved back to the Pacific Northwest (so I’m living near family again!) and I started SeamstressErin Designs which was just about the best way I could imagine starting the year. We moved several times in the beginning of the year and in the summer we bought a house – my sewing & designing time took a bit of a hit as I got us moved and settled. Just as our house was starting to feel like a home and I started to ramp up sewing and work on SeamstressErin designs again, I got pregnant. Which is wonderful and exciting and I can’t wait for baby! However, I had a miserable first trimester and couldn’t do anything other …

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Book Review: Fashion is Spinach by Elizabeth Hawes

Fashion is Spinach: How to Beat the Fashion Racket by Elizabeth Hawes is an entertaining and interesting look at the couture and ready-to-wear fashion industry first published in 1938. While it offers a great glimpse into everyday life and the fashion industry of the 20’s and 30’s, much of what Hawes has to say about fashion and the fashion industry seems to still hold true today. (Don’t let the cheesy cover of the re-issue distract you, the inside is a gem!) Hawes is an outspoken, opinionated woman with a delightfully blunt manner of supporting her views, which certainly makes for a spunky and entertaining read. For example: It is almost impossible for me to get into print what I feel when I look at a dress which is obviously made of a material that you could shoot peas through, that has no shape of any kind, but just a belt …

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Some Jersey Knit Maternity Clothes

When I ordered my latest assortment of fabric from Minerva Crafts, I had visions of assembly-line sewing an assortment of loose fitting raglan tees – fast and easy to sew, easily wearable post-pregnancy, but still with a bit of fun since I could make the sleeves contrast the bodies. As you see, I followed none of my plans. It turns out that my body (especially my belly) is changing size and shape faster than I imagined (I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve never done this whole pregnancy thing before!) and if I wanted to get at least a few months of wear out of what I sewed, then my original plan wasn’t going to work. So I made 3 completely unrelated garments (because I never can do things the easy way). We’ll start with this dress which is a success in my book. The main fabric is a lovely …

Fabric Selection for the Achatina Messenger Bag

Choosing fabric for the Achatina Messenger Bag is pretty easy – because it’s a bag and not a garment there are a TON of different options and the fact that you can interface for added stability and strength (more on that in a future sewalong step) further widens your options. I talk through options and what to look for in the video above. For the main fabric, you want to choose a midweight (up to almost a heavyweight) fabric with minimal stretch. A tiny bit of mechanical stretch is okay (like the super 1970’s polyester I used for all of my original bags), as long as it handles like a stable woven when sewing and carrying it. Within the realm of midweight, you can choose almost any fabric. The most obvious choices are midweight cotton fabrics like denim, canvas, and twills. Just about anything that weight works, so consider other alternatives …