Maternity Belly Bands

maternity belly band diy

25 years.  The time when you move on from college and start feeling truly settled in adulthood. Also the time when some of my friends decided to start having kids. Which means I get to start sewing for pregnant friends (yay new projects). This amazing photographer friend of mine (she took all these pictures this summer) will soon join the ranks of phenom moms, so I made her some belly bands. Worn over jeans that won’t button or under a shirt that has become too short, they help extend a non-maternity wardrobe and accommodate a growing belly far into a pregnancy. They’re like wearing only the bottom portion of a long tank top.

I used 1/2 yard of a rayon/spandex blend for each band (this tutorial from ABM shows how to make a belly band). Using a fabric with good stretch and recovery is key for this project- you want a fabric that will fit snugly but expand with a growing belly. The green measures 24 inches around and is slightly larger than the white (22 inches). She texted me Friday to say they arrived in the mail and they fit- I hope she gets lots of use out of them!

Oh and here’s a picture of the white one on my (non-maternity) dress form:

maternity belly band DIY

The other woman (is knitting)

knitting socks

I started knitting.

Back story: When I move somewhere new, I’m on the hunt for new friends. I happened to befriend a seamstress who makes reproductions of historical garments. She compiles entire outfits, including corsets, shifts, dresses, and bonnets, for civil war and other reenactments. Looking in her closet was like peering back through time into my little girl princess fantasy. I just about choked on my spit with awe, because she sews everything BY HAND.

And then I saw the socks that accompany these outfits. Hand-knitted, dense, warm wool socks. It just so happens that learning how to knit socks is an item on my creative bucket list. After I recovered from my near conniption, I asked her to teach me to knit. This generous friend of mine gifted me some yarn and a couple hours of her time to talk me through the anatomy of a sock.

So now there’s another woman in my life, one who takes me away from my sewing.  Her name is knitting, and she is addictively zen. The going is slow, but I hope to have a finished pair of socks in a few weeks.

Phlox Tunic- my version

Phlox tunic pattern

Long sleeves in winter. Hanging over my hands long. For me, they make the difference between being sorta warm/sorta itchy and actually forgetting that it is freezing outside.  Especially when worn under a sweater. So of course I was happy when asked to be a tester for Lindsay Woodward’s new tshirt pattern, Phlox. And I made the long sleeved version.

Phlox tunic pattern

It’s definitely a decent pattern and well drafted. The shoulders and sleeves fit nicely, the neckline is a good depth, and the sleeves taper to your wrists.  I would recommend sizing down if you want a tighter fitting tshirt. I made a size 6 in a rayon/spandex blend but ended up taking in the sides and the sleeves of the shirt by a few inches. Next time I make this tshirt, I’ll probably make a size 4 and use a less stretchy fabric. For all you petite gals, I’d recommend shortening the body by about an inch, depending on how long you want your shirt to be. The pattern is on sale now until 12/17, and it’s a great pattern for an advanced beginner. Phlox rox my sox off!

Another neat feature I added to my shirt was the thumb holes in the cuffs (tutorial here). Boy oh boy do I love how warm they make my hands.

Thumb hole tutorial

In other news, coat fabric has been found, ordered, and arrived last night. I’m excited to get started. Thanks for all your tips on where to look!  I just moved to a more permanent housing situation, and coat sewing is first on the list after I get settled in.

 

 

Just watched: the Advanced Style Documentary

 

The Advanced Style Documentary

I’m looking in the mirror. For the past couple years I’ve started to notice some fine lines on my forehead. But this time, I’m not feeling self-conscious of them… they seem less threatening. An image of a woman saying “there is no time limit to looking good” runs through my head, and I believe her.

Maybe it’s because I just watched Advanced Style- two hours of interviews with the most stylish people over 50 (mostly women) in NYC. They’re glamorous, eccentric, theatrical, sincere, and totally fabulous. The inspiration for the movie came from the street style blog of Ari Seth Cohen. The blog follows “the most stylish and creative older folks” who certainly have something to share about living life to the fullest. You think that you like vintage style and pops of color? These ladies and gents take it ten steps further.

Advanced Style

My favorite scene in the movie is when a woman in her 90’s describes how she made false eyelashes from her own hair. Can I get a “DIY Project” please? In case you’re wondering what those eyelashes look like, just look at the cover of the movie- she’s on it. But forget about eyelashes, because you want to watch this movie for the awesome clothes. From silk dressing gowns and funky leggings to flamboyant hats and carpet bag coats, you’ll want to get right back to your sewing machine to churn out more awe-inspiring creations.

Cohen does a magnificent job showing us the wonder he finds in their personalities and personal adornment. His vision is clear, and these women are gorgeous. He challenges notions of aging by showing older people who are genuinely enjoying life and feeling good about being themselves. They say they feel young, and they are full of life, livelier than many people in their 20s and 30s who I know. Indeed they are living life to the fullest- one woman goes so far as to die doing exactly that- she meets her maker at a fashion show during NY Fashion week. I bet she died of happiness.

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My Nana is glamorous and beautiful, like the ladies in this movie. In old home videos she wears adorable mod dresses, gloves and boots. She still dresses like the stylish Manhattanite she was brought up to be, in cashmere turtlenecks and tailored shirtdresses.  But she worries that she is no longer young and attractive. Much as my sisters and I repeat the mantra of her beauty, it seems we will never convince her of this fact. She keenly feels our society’s obsession with youth and devaluation of age. This deeply saddens me. But. This movie gave me hope. I’m going to show it to her next time I see her. Maybe it will change her mind.

I definitely enjoyed the movie. If you only have an hour- watch the first half. It delves into the lives of the women and their style philosophies.  The second half of the movie is a bit slower (but still enjoyable). You can find the Advanced Style documentary on Netflix. All images remain the property of the Advanced Style blog.

The Advanced Style Documentary

Favoritest Sweatshirt

DIY Wrap Sweatshirt

This is my new bestie.

Her name is Coppelia.

Crazy Muslin made of old sweatshirts

I was pleasantly surprised that my crazy muslin fit

the first time around

so I lopped 1/2″ off the length

and proceeded to make version 2.0

in olive green stretch terry.

She makes my boobs look good.

She is comfortable.

She is very warm.

Happy Thanksgiving.

That is all.

DIY Wrap Sweatshirt

 

 

Snuggly thumbhole cuff tutorial

Snuggly thumb cuff

Winter sewing is in full swing in this part of the world. One detail I love to add to up the snuggle factor on shirts and sweatshirts I make to wear this time of year is to add thumbholes. I’m ALWAYS cold in the winter, and it’s really nice to be able to pull my sleeves over my hands. Once I need my hands back, I just slip my thumb out and push the sleeve down to my wrist. Here’s my method for adding thumbholes.

Thumb hole tutorial

When cutting out your pattern pieces, you need to cut your sleeves about an inch longer than normal (depending on the stretch of you fabric, it could be more). If you’re petite like me, just cut your sleeves the normal pattern length (rather than shortening them). Cut out the rest of your pieces as normal, and then construct your shirt. Stop before you sew the cuffs, and follow these instructions:

Thumb Hole Tutorial

1. Start with your cuff lying flat. 2. Fold it in half hotdog style. 3. Mark the seam allowance on one end. Also mark two short lines- the first is 3/4″ from the top of the cuff, the second is about 1″ lower. 4. Trace the curve of a quarter to connect the two lines. Remember to do the opposite side on the other cuff so you end up with one right and one left cuff. 5. Sew along the seam allowance line and around the outside of the curved line. If you have more substantial fabric, you might want to skip sewing the seam allowance. 6. Trim seam allowances. 7. Turn right side out. Then take the non-sewn end of the cuff and pull it over the sewn end. 8. Sew in a straight line along the matched ends, catching all 4 layers of fabric. 9. Turn right side out and sew to your shirt as normal.

Then enjoy having warm hands!

The hunt for the perfect fabric

coat banner

The past couple weeks have had me searching for the supplies to make a coat. As the temperature has dropped, my searching has gotten more urgent. I’ve settled on a pattern (here, minus all the tabs), but the perfect fabric for this coat eludes me. I want something textured, maybe patterned, in a nontraditional coat color (forest green?), but not too flashy. I really enjoyed this post by Sewaholic on how to choose the best first-coat-fabric. I had an entirely different scheme laid out, and was going to make a more complicated coat, but after reading her post, I realized that a simple structure would be a better idea for my first coat. So I went back to the drawing board. Since the structure is simple, I’d like to use some stand-out fabric. Here are some of the coats I’ve drawn on for inspiration.

Any ideas of where to look for the perfect coat fabric? Should I continue on my search for wool, or look for some tapestry home-dec fabric? And something else I’m considering- should I line it with thinsulate? I’d love to hear what you think.

In use

Colorblocked Tote Bag DIY

You may remember this colorblocked tote bag I made for the wonderfully stylish Valentina Duracinsky, a fashion and travel blogger who splits her time between Paris, Colombia, and the USA. I am happy to report that the bag has been holding up well! Today she shared the bag in a style post on her blog.  Head on over to see more photos, or click here to read the original DIY project. It is so satisfying to see someone enjoying the use of something I made! Sewing win.

4 easy car DIYs

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Nothing makes me feel like a can-do woman like working on my car. When I say working, I mean the little stuff, like jumping my roommates car when her battery dies, or knowing how to plug in a new lightbulb when my third brake light goes out. There’s something about getting hands on with all those tons of steel that scratches my DIY itch in a whole new way.  My best friend in this car fixing expedition is YouTube. It hosts a wealth of videos that show how to fix everything, including cars. I’m not ready to mess with brake pads, but here are a few things beyond filling my tires with air that I’ve easily mastered with the help of YouTube.  You can too!

1. Jump a car battery: Don’t wait for AAA to arrive! Next time your (or your roommate’s) battery dies, jump it yourself. All you need is a pair of jumper cables (good to keep in your trunk) and a working car. Check out this video for a simple explanation of how to do it:

2. Change the cabin air filter: I was shocked when I went poking around behind my glove box and found a soot black air filter that looked like it had never been changed. The cost to pop down to my local Pep Boys (or other auto parts store) for a new filter was less than half the price of paying someone to change it. And it was super cool to see the guts of my car that hide behind the glove box.  Read step-by-step instructions here.

3. Change headlights and tail lights: the bulbs are cheap! Pick up a couple headlight bulbs at your local dealer (my car is a Civic, so I go to the Honda dealership) for about $4 apiece. Look in your owner’s manual or watch a video for the explanation on how to change the bulbs. Car and Driver Magazine has a great YouTube channel with helpful videos. Here’s one of them:

4. Check your tire treads: I used to go to Firestone to get my oil changed and then freak out when they would exaggerate how imminently my car needed new tires. BUT. Now I can debunk their sales ploys using only… a PENNY!  Hold a penny so that Lincoln is upside down, then stick the penny between your car’s tire treads. If the treads cover any part of  Lincoln’s head, you’re good to go. If not, it’s time for new tires. Read more on the penny test here.

Learning how to care for my car has been really freeing. Cars are something that many of us depend on every day to live, to go to work and get groceries. I like taking responsibility for something I rely on so heavily, even if I know/knew next to nothing about it. Part of this journey has been getting comfortable asking a lot of questions, and the people who fix cars (they know their stuff!) have always been helpful. I want my car to last a long time and continue to carry me on my adventures, and caring for it properly is a big part of that.

All images and videos remain property of their original owners

Lazy sewing days

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These days, when I’m not doing money-making job stuff, you can find me at this desk. My current day job is 3 days a week (40 hours). It leaves me ample time on my days off to wake up late, enjoy a hot breakfast, and then put my feet up while I rip out stitches or slowly make my way through drafting and sewing up a couple muslins. I like this schedule. It’s a happy medium between this past summer’s unemployed-but-still-sewing-full-time fiasco and  school’s I-barely-have-time-this-weekend squeeze. I am a little surprised that I have yet to finish a project since moving here a month ago. But all good things take time, and I’m determined to slow down this fall and winter, to put more care into the creation of the stuff I make. I have high hopes for the chambray fabric that arrived in the mail yesterday.

Now that I think of it, Richmond and its people are also to blame (thank?) for my slow pace lately. There is so much to do and so many friendly people to meet in this lovely southern city. Discoveries happen every day! I’ve visited beautiful parks, found a hole-in-the-wall fabric store, toured a college campus, been invited to sing at a Civil War reenactment, and gone to 2 (two!) music festivals. No wonder the sewing has slowed down.

At this late hour, I’d like to raise up my glass (just water, I promise) and propose a toast. Here’s to my one month anniversary of living in Richmond! And here’s to slow sewing!

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