Friday, May 13, 2016

My Sunday Best: Mother's Day

I'm really excited that Rosie has picked up the torch on the Sunday outfit posts, and hereby resolve to sail in at the last minute with my poorly-lit pics more often.

We spent the weekend moving five yards of manure around the yard, so Mother's Day was pretty low-key here. We did spend an hour at the zoo later in the afternoon, followed by hunting down the only deep-dish pizza in town. At Mass, Thing One was so here there and everywhere in the pew that we actually went through with revoking donut priviledges. Thing Two, in true little brother fashion, proceeded to make Bean look even worse in comparison by pointing out Jesus and "Ai-YU-ya" at every opportunity, while imitating Father's gestures.
Dress: ages-old Anthropology (I think I may have actually paid $19). Still wearable courtesy the elastic panel in the back.
Sweater: Banana Republic Outlet. I wear it every few months because I forget that small fingers cannot resist poking through the mesh all through Mass.
Shoes: Penney's clearance, selected by Peanut.
I usually try to get a picture of the boys on Mother's Day to send to their godmothers, but Peanut fell asleep between Dunkin and home, so this is what we've got:

I'm told that upon waking, he got halfway through his stretch-and-yawn, then suddenly stiffened when he remembered. "I EAT NONUTS!" May we all be so single-minded (but about Jesus, instead of donuts).Bean, meanwhile, has apparently just been drafted by New Orleans

Monday, May 9, 2016

Stripes! Maternity/Nursing-friendly Dress

View B
Top:size 4, skirt: size 12

Fabric: Jo-ann Azure Tide pool stripe knit

Anyone who's done the pregnancy size yo-yo a time or three knows how easy it is to end up with a bunch of clothes that you only want to wear for a few months at a time before they cease to be useful or flattering, but you hate to get rid of them because they'll probably be useful for a few more months somewhere down the line. (That goes double if you're nursing, which has its own set of clothes needs.) So, this time around, I've been trying to focus on clothes that I'll actually want to wear for more than one stage of this process. Enter this knit dress, which I hope will replace some well-loved dresses that I borrowed last time around.

Even though this fabric was rather hard-won (I was majorly overcharged—not the first time JoAnn has done this—and fixing it involved both the manager and I pulling out our calculators for about 15 minutes before she finally tricked the system into something close enough and we both decided it was time for a margarita), this fabric turned out to be awesome. If you've ever handled Land's End swimwear or some of their knit dresses, it's like that. Very substantial feel, great stretch (about 50% both directions) and recovery, and the edges don't curl or fray. I'm really tempted to go back for more for a blazer. One caveat: like a lot of polyesters, this fabric does seem to hang onto odors, so you might find yourself washing it more frequently than a natural fiber.

This pattern is written for woven fabrics, so to adapt it to a stretch knit, I skipped the zipper, and cut the pieces with zero or slight negative ease (I'd decrease the ease even further for a less-stable knit). I skipped the facings to eliminate bulk, and instead extended the bodice front edge to make a 2” turn-under. Eliminating the front edge seam should also make it stretchier and thus easier to pull that edge down for nursing. I cut a wide bias strip (not on the true bias; just parallel with the edge of one of the skirt pieces), and piped the edge of the front yoke and back neck, tacking the seam allowance down in a couple of spots. Since the fabric is so stable, I left the skirt unhemmed. I may revisit that after pregnancy, when I have some hope of marking an even hem, but I'll probably leave it unless the fabric shows some signs of ravelling.

For the maternity alterations, the bodice is about 4” shorter than the original pattern. I added a waistband to help transition between the sizes, and also to break up the print a tad. I lengthened the skirt by 1.5” to make up for the shorter bodice, and cut the side edges of each gore straight, instead of with waist shaping. To do this, I traced the top edge onto the fabric, slid the pattern piece straight down 1.5”, and then used a yardstick to trace a line from the top corner to the bottom on each side.

Puffed sleeves seemed like a poor choice in this fabric, but I wanted a nice style detail there, so I used this tutorial to make tulip sleeves.

I converted the gathers where the bodice attaches to front yoke into pleats, because this fabric was too thick to gather well. I think if I did it over, though, I’d just pin that fullness out of the pattern piece before cutting. It wasn't at all necessary in a knit.

I also played fast-and-loose with the grainlines on the layout, placing the front edge parallel to the stripes and cutting the skirt pieces on the crossgrain, since "Do you happen to have any clothes with horizontal stripes?" isn't exactly the question on the lips of pregnant women everywhere.

If you're looking for something similar, I'd try New Look 6069 (which seems to be available as a printable pattern only, but Simplicity's site has been a mess since they redesigned it, so it might be worth checking a store). It already has the high waist and waistband that I had to alter this pattern to get. The skirt would need quite a bit of fullness added for maternity, though. The Simplicity pattern is a four-gore half-circle skirt (or very close to it), and the New Look seems to be about half that. There are lots of circle skirt calculators online; just use the waist/length measurements from the pattern to create a new skirt pattern with the correct fullness. (Other similar patterns: B5030, Simplicity 6301 or 1801).

I'm already in love with this dress. As much as I can enjoy the creativity involved in putting together an outfit, it can get a little old when a piece that fit you last week won't zip the next, so I'm glad to be able to look put together with no thought involved! 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

ModCloth Maternity-friendly pieces on sale today!

I was going to get a sewing post up today, but then my washing machine flooded, so that kind of killed my photographing mojo. I'm still in the mood to talk about maternity fashion, though, and, lo and behold, ModCloth is having a flash sale today that includes a couple of my most-worn pieces. So, since half of my friends seem to be expecting (and half of my siblings definitely are) let's chat!
Back Road Ramble Tunic in Blue
We'll start with the ones I own. This is my first time due in the summer, so I knew I wanted some light and breezy pieces. The Back Road Ramble Tunic fits the bill with it's lightweight cotton lawn fabric. I found it (in blue, at least) to be opaque enough not to need a cami, but some reviewers disagreed, so be warned. The top button is a little lower than I'd like, so I'm planning to swipe one from the cuffs to raise the neckline a tad. The great thing is that it will provide nursing access, so I plan to get a lot of use out of this one all year round. I purchased one size up from my usual, and I think I'll be able to wear this one till the bitter end.
Bugle Joy Skirt in Scarlet
Also on sale: Olive and Black
I have this one in the (discontinued) mustard, and I'm not sure I'd pay more than sale price, as it lacks pockets and a lining. The fabric is decently heavy, though, so it's probably okay without a slip, unless you find yourself having VPL issues. I bought a large (actual waistband measurement, 30.5"), and it has plenty of length and fullness to wear it hiked up around my rib cage. and looks great with a cute elastic belt. I wasn't sure how I felt about the high-waisted look at first, but the fact that I can keep using a lot of my button-down blouses—either tucking in the unbutton-able portion or tying it in a cute knot at the waistband—has me sold. It drapes nicely, too, so it doesn't add a bulk where you already have plenty.
Hosting for the Weekend Tunic in Merlot
Also: Pepper, Taupe
Okay, now we're moving into less-sure territory, but these seem like reasonable bets. Some of the reviewers complained that this top made them look pregnant, which tends to be a good sign if you're looking for something to wear while actually pregnant. The length runs about the same as the Back Road Ramble Tunic above, so it should work well, providing it's roomy enough. Might be worth checking in with one of their stylists if you're curious. The Pam Breeze-ly Tunic is in a similar vein, though some of the reviews on the green complained that the fabric was high-maintenance.
Essential Elegance Skirt in Black
Last is the one that most tempts me. I've seen this one well-reviewed elsewhere (Gertie the sewing blogger/author wears hers all the time), and since it's two full circle skirts stacked together, the sale price is pushing it really close to "cheaper than I could make it" territory, especially when you account for the pain and suffering of hemming two circle skirts. It runs a tad shorter than the Bugle Joy skirt above, so if you are tall or like your skirts longer, you might want to pull out a tape measure to make sure it's what you're looking for. The review photos look deliciously swirly!

So, what other great non-maternity maternity pieces have you spotted lately? I've been into maxis lately, which are usually not my style at all, but I'm liking having a little length to balance out the extra width!