Monthly Archives: January 2012

Monthly Apparel January Check-In

Well my fellow Monthly Apparel friends, how’s your January project coming? Finished? Close to finished? Starting up in February?

Well, you can see how I’m faring. My plan to sew a bit each night went well, but I had a few hang-ups. The first was typical, I caught a cold which knocked me out of sewing mode for about three days. The second was tougher. I tried the top on and of course, had problems with fit.


I thought I was being clever and sneaky with this wrap dress. My though was that if I took really good measurements and bought some cheap linen/poly on sale at JoAnn’s I could skip a muslin and just make the dress. Lessons learned. Just like a swatch is a necessary pain in knitting, a muslin is a necessary pain in sewing.

It’s hard to tell in the picture, but I’ve got at least two extra inches of fabric on each side, even though I have the bodice wrapped and tied as tight as I can. The shoulders are also too loose and will certainly slide down. I took it off and pinned it, and I think if I sew some new seams in a few areas the dress will be okay.

But that leaves the question of, just how much do I need to rip out to do this? Do I need to partially rip out the facings too? I have a busy next couple of nights, but I should have it fixed by this weekend.

I’m looking forward to seeing some finished projects! There are already some great ones over at the Monthly Apparel Flickr site. If you haven’t joined yet, come on over! We’ve got a nice group started up already.


**Sorry for the missing photo!! I’m not sure why it disappeared and I already deleted it from my camera. Guess you’ll have to wait until this weekend now for the finished dress. Or maybe my photo will return?? Strange…..



Filed under Monthly Apparel, sewing

A Quick Thought

From the intro of the new book “The Colette Sewing Handbook” by Sarai Mitnick:

              “But I’ve found there is a dark side to fashion. While it can be an amazing creative outlet, it can also fuel an almost endless desire to consume, to buy more things and to buy them less thoughtfully. With the advent of  “fast fashion” in recent years, this is only getting worse as stores turn over stock and bring in new fashion every few weeks rather than months. Advertisements inundate us with the message that we need newer, trendier items, and more of them. Soon, we’re not sure what our own taste is anymore, or how much we really want to own. We have closets full of stuff and nothing to wear. Worse, our clothes feel like commodities, with no real relationship to who we are.”

I had just read the intro to this book when I was off to the Mall of America* to exchange a toaster over that didn’t want to fit under my 1924 kitchen cabinets. I’m not a mall person. The few clothes I do buy these days come from catalogs and vintage/consignment shops. But as  I walked through the mall I was hit with the same feeling I have whenever I’m there: that I need to buy a lot of stuff. Stuff I don’t even want, or really need,  that isn’t me, or just simply doesn’t work with my I-had-three-babies body anymore.

Then this quote came to mind and the more I really thought about it, the more thankful I was for having the skills to not even need to go to the mall. I can sew or knit something beautiful that I really love, something that says who I am and not what some store says I need to be. I can keep my closet and budget** under control. By making and not just buying, I can create a little more balance in my life. An these days I love balance!!

I’m giving myself the freedom to stop worrying about what else I see around that I think I should have and just wear what I love.

And I’m staying out of that dumb mall.

*Math Boy read a series of books this summer in which the entrance to Hades was in the Mall of America. I find that rather amusing.

**We will just not talk about how much a yard of double gauze runs these days, okay?




Filed under Uncategorized

Piece by piece….

Hello! I’d first like to give a big “welcome” to those of you visiting from Whip Up! Thanks for stopping by! It’s always nice to meet new friends.

Monthly Apparel is getting off the ground, and I’d love to have even more people join us. Have you been to the Flickr site yet? If you haven’t, stop by, join up and let us see what you’re sewing! We just had the first project of the year put up. Can’t wait to see more!

I think I finally figured out what holds me back from getting more sewing done. As I squeezed in a few rows of knitting the other night, I realized that the reason I get so much knitting done isn’t because I sit down for hours at a time. It’s because I knit every day. Maybe only ten minutes at a time sometimes, but I make time for it. For some reason, I have always felt that to sew I need a big chunk of time. But why? I can work the same way I knit, a bit at a time. Because really, with three boys how often do I ever have hours to sew? That rarely happens!

Crepe Dress

So tonight I actually started sewing on Crepe. I only worked on the bodice, sewing in those dreaded darts. But upon looking at the pattern, if I only sew one new piece on each night I’ll easily get the dress done by the end of January.

Speaking of darts, does anyone have some good tips on getting them to fit right? Just from holding the front of the dress up it seems as if I’m close, but since I don’t have much in the bust department I’m worried it will not have the smoothest fit. I have to admit, sewing a pattern together doesn’t bother me too much, but the alterations? Yikes. While I chose not to do a muslin for this dress (wrap around, remember?) I hear-by promise to do one for the next blouse/top/dress that I make.

In the meantime, I’m already coming up with a plan for next February. It’s a tie between some type of a-line or circle skirt or the blouse that in in the new Burda Style book. What will you sew in February?


Filed under sewing

“In December, drinking horchata
I’d look psychotic in a balaclava…”

-“Horchata” by Vampire Weekend

Okay, he does not look psychotic nor is he drinking horchata, but we love this song and I think of it every time one of the boys puts his balaclava on. Spinner’s is the latest in our collection, although it looks like I need to knit one more since someone (ahem, Knittykid) lost his.

So, Spinner’s many faces in his balaclava?




Enjoy your weekend everyone! Listen to a fun song, knit a balaclava and head outside!

1 Comment

Filed under hats, knitting

And I’m off….

So the big decision. What pattern do I pick to I start this journey? Something easy? Something simple? Something…..already started?

Okay, I’m confessing that my first Monthly Apparel project is a UFO. Last summer I had the idea to make myself a dress. I spent and entire day tracing and cutting the pattern. And since then it has sat in the corner of my sewing room glaring at me every time I come into the room. See, the thing that scares me about sewing clothing is the actual putting it together part. I can cut and trace all day, but putting it together? I worry it won’t fit right so I hit the denial stage and go do something else. So this month I’m taking that leap of faith and actually sewing it together.

This is “Crepe” from Colette Patterns. You see that word, “beginner” on the cover? Honestly, this should not be that hard. This does not involve the dreaded zipper nor the evil buttonhole. (I’m having nightmares about buttonholes.) And she gives great instructions. Maybe a bit of adjusting in the bust, but really, this should work, right?

I’m planning to sew on it this weekend, once I finish cleaning up the post-holiday havoc that still exists upstairs. I did not make a muslin for this one (it’s a wrap dress, come on!) but I did purchase some half-price plum linen/poly blend at JoAnn’s to use as my practice dress. If all goes well, I’m predicting another version in double gauze sometime in my future.

If you have never paid a visit to Colette Patterns before, I highly suggest that you do so. She has the longest list of tutorials I’ve seen online, as well as a huge library of patterns and a new book.


I also wanted to mention that I put a Flickr group together for Monthly Apparel. I’d love to have you share your inspirations as well as your WIPs and finished garments. Remember, knitters, you are welcome to take this challenge on too! (Seriously, I’d love to see someone knit a sweater a month.)


Filed under sewing

2012 – Monthly Apparel

So, did you come up with a goal for 2012? I did, and I’m hoping some of you might want to join me. I’m calling it Monthly Apparel, and my plan is to sew one item of clothing for myself each month. I’ll pick a pattern at the beginning of the month and share how it turned out at the end. It’s that simple!

I’d call myself an advanced beginner when it comes to sewing garments. I can whip up a pair of pajama pants or a knit skirt in no time. I have installed exactly one zipper. I’ve made a few t-shirts. But that’s about it. My personal goal this year to go beyond the basics and sew something new. Blouses, dresses and skirts are all on my list, along with the ever so scary real pair of pants. I’ll be sharing my favorite resources and what I like to call my” textbooks” for this experiment. I’ll report it all back to you. And hopefully, by 2013 I’ll at least be able to call my self an intermediate and have a nice closet full of clothes as well.

Now, maybe you can already put a zipper in a skirt while you sleep. Or maybe you’ve never sewn before and even a pair of kid’s pajama pants sounds daunting. Whatever your level, I’m hoping you’d also like to have a dozen new items in your closet this year.  No need to be fancy or complicated, just a desire to learn to sew your own clothing.

(Editing to add: The very clever Mrs. Pao had an awesome idea…no need to stick to sewing! If you’re a knitter who does not sew, why not knit a garment a month? Just because I’m focused on sewing doesn’t mean you must!)

Please feel free to join me on this endeavor. Grab a button if you’d like. Share your ideas and projects. You can comment here, or join me over in the Monthly Apparel Flickr group.  I look forward to seeing what you will make! And this is seriously no pressure. If you miss a month, then you miss a month. No big deal. Those of you who have been reading me for years are already laughing at the idea of me actually managing to get an item finished each month. But I’m going to try!


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Filed under sewing