Friday, May 29, 2015

Some Pictures of the Kids

So, my camera kind of broke. It works, but the screen can't really show me the full picture (I damaged it), and its put a damper on my picture taking. I need to get back to it, because the kids are doing some really cute things.

Here are some pictures my sister in law took.

And here's some I took.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Baby Elven Dress and Baby Tunic Writeup; Small Human Being Sewalong Wrap up.

So, the Small Human Being Sewalong is over, and I accomplished at least half of my goals.

I am going to do a write up on the Baby Elven Dress that I made (I had written scattered posts on it, which I link to in this article)

I drafted the patterns for all of these things, just tracing (generously!) off of onesies and dresses that fit. I just sort of freehanded the bell sleeves.

I cut it out of a green men's T shirt that I got at the thrift store for $1.

It was not very stretchy, a stable-ish knit. (there's a slit at the back neck for a button and loop closure).
The belt is from (surprise) a brown T shirt I cut up from the thrift store. I hand-cut all the stencils and used Tulip gold metallic fabric paint (sponged on with cosmetic wedges from dollar tree) to make the trim.

The dress is actually a 6 month size, for the yet-to-be-born baby girl residing beneath my heart right now. But because I couldn't wait, I crammed it onto her almost-13 month old sister, and took some pictures.

There are more glam shots of her in the dress (sans belt) here. After I did that photoshoot I sewed on the belt, which I think really makes it "pop" more, and did a 2nd photoshoot here.

For myself, I also made a Gondor-Ranger Inspired Mei Tai Carrier with the write up here.

 AND, because mass-production is my new motto in getting anything done, while I was sewing up the baby elven dress, I sewed up 2 toddler elven dresses too (Although being greater than 12 months, they do not techinically count as part of the SHBsewalong).

(The red one is 3-4T, dark green one is 6 months, purple is 12-18 months) All ready for the 3 sisters to have a photoshoot when the mulberry leaves are golden in January...
The construction for the toddler dresses was very similar to the baby layout, except that I just cut the bodice and the skirt as one piece (really just an A-line dress), and for the red one, I had to cut into a second shirt to add 6" of length to the bottom of the dress.

I also used heat-n-bond ultrahold to back the belts on the purple and red dresses. In retrospect (and a few dull/broken needles later) I realized I probably should just have used the heat-n-bond "lite" instead of the "ultrahold". (I did not interface the sleeve bands, which would have made the sleeves too hard to get into. I did not interface the neck yokes, which only seemed to end up being a problem for the 3-4T dress)

The purple and green dresses I was happy with, but the red dress turned up to be looser than I wanted, and I had to sort of scrunch up the dress and sew the belt tighter in the back. Also, the red dress kept sort of slipping off her shoulders when she's running around. (I had made the neck scoop wide enough that it didn't need a button loop closure). Part of it is she's only 2 1/2, and I made it bigger as she's really tall, and I wanted it to fit her next year.

see the neck is too big?
I don't know how much of this is just a problem of the dress (Arwen's version looks like its falling off too), but I think whats going on is that I traced off a neckline that was for wovens, and this knit (the red t shirt this was from was more stretchy) is not as stable, and the weight of the sleeves kind of pull it down.

Next time: I would interface the neck yoke,

OR, if I'm sewing things for greater than 2T, I would prefer to make this in a woven material (or a VERY stable knit), with better fitting in the bodice and a real back closure (zipper), so that the belt can be snug if its sewn to the dress.

OR, I would make the belt separately, out of canvas or something, with some sort of button closure in the back, so it could be snug and she could still get into it easily. Then I would merely tack it to the sides of the dress to keep it from falling down.

I also made a little baby tunic (size 6-9 months, traced from a onesie) pieces cut out here...

Sewn up here (on the left).

I left a little opening in the back neck as well, to accommodate a big baby head.
The pants I simply used the Little Leggings free pattern.
All of this is cut out of green and brown T shirts from the thrift store.

As my motto is mass production, there is a size 7T t shirt, really meant as a toddler tunic (for my very tall 3, almost 4 yr old boy, who refused to model it for me), to match.

I never finished my goals of the baby ranger boots or the baby jerkin, partly due to the flu, partly due to finding out this baby was a girl, and losing some steam for the ranger outfit, alas.
But thinking about it, the Dunedain (wandering rangers) had families, and so there were definitely girls and little kids wandering over Eriador in ranger I am going to finish it at some point.

I never got to the baby elven cloaks, mostly because I got frustrated with being able to find the "perfect" materials....

I also never finished (or started) my goal of my nursing-accessible & maternity friendly Arwen dress, but that was due to the flu, and it will happen at some point in the future.

All in all, here are the SHBsewalong + toddler stuff that I sewed this month,

and I am really thankful to how the SHBsewalong (and especially the boards on flickr) encouraged me, gave me a sense of camaraderie, gave me the push to sew it all up.

$6 for the used T-shirts from the thrift store
$3 worth of sewing machine needles
$3 for the heat-n-bond (I only used a little bit of it though)
$4 for the gold tulip fabric paint (although I bought it 4 yrs ago, and just finished off half the bottle)
under $1 for utility knife blades use up.

So that comes out to roughly $17 for 3 elven dresses and 2 tunics.

The stencil blanks (Show-Offs from Hobby Lobby $7) Utility knife ($2 from Home Depot) and re-positionable spray stencil adhesive ($6 from Hobby Lobby, it worked for fabric!), I am not counting since I have over 90% of all of that left.

I don't have logs on all the projects, but I think from cutting out all the elven dresses/tunics and sewing them up it was probably around 12 hours total. The Mei Tai carrier was 8ish hours total.

I made time by sewing in 15-30 minute snatches of the kids snack times (the sewing machine is in view of the kids high chairs), and 20 minute chunks of quiet play when the baby was napping. I really only made use of only a few donutman videos (probably totally under 5 hours for the whole month, never more than 1 hour in a day, I think).
At first I would get up a little early and get half an hour of sewing in in the morning, but due to the almost 13 month old deciding she was now an early riser, I just switched to sometimes sewing a little when all the kids were asleep.

The key for me, to get sewing done, was being able to walk away from my project. If a kid started to cry, if they lost interest in the video or wanted a book or something, I just quit and covered the sewing machine, knowing I would get back to it later, be it the next day or next week.

 In the past, I have this drive-drive-drive to finish, and I would sew while the kids were screaming, "just finish this seam, just 10 more minutes...." resulting in bad feelings all around for me (guilt) and frustration (I made a lot more mistakes with a background of unhappy neglected children), and anger (the kids would be mad), which would then lead to me having subconscious negative feelings about it all, and I just wouldn't sew, and instead waste time on pinterest....

The second key for me, to get sewing done, was to intentionally cut out pinterest/blogs on "sewing days". I realized often in my 15 minute chunks of free time, I would just waste it on pinterest as I felt it wasn't "long enough" to really "do" anything. But those chunks add up. Or then after we put the kids down, I would browse pinterest/blogs, then get inspired, but be too tired and sleepy.
So I realized, if I wanted to sew that day, I had to choose not to connect my computer to the internet, or better yet, not turn on the computer at all. I would pick (depending on how I was feeling) some days as "no interent" days, and I would get sewing done in my snatches of free time instead. Then, being tired, I would spend the next day's free time on the internet. I think this month my sewing days to internet days (subtracting out the flu days, in which I didn't even have energy for the internet, just for praying not to throw up...), was probably around 2:1.
So, all in all, I found probably 20 hours of sewing time this month, broken up into smaller chunks, never more than 2 hours in a day total, probably closer to 1 hour a day.

As a mom I don't have the 8-hr sewing sprees (I can't stay up much past 10pm anymore, I need to wake up at 7), but I also find that this sewing-in-little-chunks method, of being able to walk away, also means I spend ALOT less time frustrated and undoing mistakes with a stitch ripper.


And the things do get done, just in lots of little chunks, and perhaps a little slower, than my old ways of sewing-sprees followed by burnouts.

And nothing beats the emotional satisfaction of seeing the kids in things I made...

She insisted on carrying around the empty saltine bag which she filled from the wading pool. I think she was amazed she could 'bag' water. It is quite cool when you think about it....even if it did somewhat ruin the photoshoot...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Baby and Toddler Elven Dresses with Belts

Here they are, actually finished.

They just really needed belts. (Making of posts, here, here and here. I made Keziah's elven dress out of a dark green Men's T shirt, and Jenny's out of 2 bright red T shirts.

Things I'd do differently next time:
  1. Interface the neck on Jenny's....the weight of the sleeves kind of pull it down.
  2. Use heat-n-bond when applying the belts onto 2T and under dresses.
  3. Make 2T + belts out of canvas or something firm, and just slip stitch the sides onto the belt.