Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mr. Cation's Birthday Shirt

When I used to actually try to upload pictures of my makes to BurdaStyle, Mr. Cation would complain that it would make his computer games lag like crazy. I don't bother with BurdaStyle anymore (just getting to my blog is a major undertaking!), but we still have problems with lag: namely that it took me five months to get around to blogging his birthday shirt! Oops. I blame this adorable little dude:

I did not make SHB's shirt. That was from his Christmas outfit, which we admittedly purchased because it matched. 

A recap, since it's been so long since I actually made this: last summer I took a class with Lynda Maynard on copying RTW clothing. Since I was seven months pregnant at the time (and didn't have plans to stay at that size!) I opted to make a garment for Mr. Cation instead. I traced his favorite shirt using the silk organza (process documented here) and made it up in this black and white checked fabric for his birthday. I was originally concerned about finding a shirting fabric he would like (he's really picky about plaids; the only other time I made him a shirt, he didn't like it because it looked "too much like Aeropostale shirts from middle school"), but then I remembered this one in my stash. It's especially appropriate because I bought it on our first anniversary England trip (my goodness, my me-mades from back then look so...home-made). It's nice to finally sew up such old and treasured stash!

Front view.

Back view. 

I added my own "label" by embroidering a piece of ribbon. 
A closer look at the pocket. My walking foot was not cooperating, so the plaid is every so slightly off. 
I realized too late that the yoke isn't quite on the bias; it's like 48 degrees instead of 45. Oh well. 
At least the inside flat-felling looks nice and clean!

Honestly, I don't remember too much about the making of this shirt, other than that it was a pain bending over to cut out the pieces with my huge belly in the way. And now that I look at these pictures, I realize that the shirt doesn't actually fit that well. There are drag lines that I don't like the look of, but I have absolutely no idea how to adjust the fit on a man's shirt like this!

Pattern: Copied from a RTW shirt
Fabric: A little less than two yards of cotton shirting
Notions: Buttons, interfacing for the collar and front plackets
Techniques: Plaid matching, flat-felling seams, making a collar? It was going to involve making tower plackets, but then I got lazy and made it short sleeved instead.
Hours used: I don't even remember anymore...I want to say seven?
Will you make it again? Yes. I still have more of that fabric left, which will eventually become a long-sleeved version for my brother (thankfully the muslin fit both of them, and my dad as well! It's the brotherhood of the traveling shirt?), whenever it is that SHB manages to nap for more than 30 minutes at a time...
Total cost: I don't remember how much this fabric cost anymore, I bought it such a long time ago. Also I bought it in pounds. But the buttons cost a $1 at Joann's; that much I remember.
Final thoughts: I'm kind of annoyed at myself for taking the easy way out and making this a short-sleeved shirt. I should've taken a hint from Mr. Cation's existing wardrobe that he doesn't really wear short-sleeved shirts. Since I was trying to avoid making a tower placket and cuffs (granted, I had a good excuse), I basically sank a bunch of time and fabric into a garment that doesn't really fit his lifestyle. Consider that a lesson learned: being lazy will only come back to bite you later!

I realized that I have a love-hate relationship with plaids. Assuming that they're woven and not printed, plaids can make finding the grain so easy. On the downside, when they're even just a little off, you can really tell. This is why I stick to crazy prints with no rhyme or reason to them for myself. It's too bad Mr. Cation doesn't want to wear hippo-print or Batman shirts! Maybe SHB will be more amenable...

One more matchy-matchy picture!
The way our tree topper is placed, it looks like Mr. Cation has a random star antenna popping out of the side of his head. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

It's funny looking back now at my 2014 resolutions. I had all these grand plans for practical, historical, and costume sewing, but pretty much none of them happened, because almost exactly two weeks after writing that post, I discovered that I was pregnant with SHB. While I stayed the same shape during first trimester, I was so tired that all I did was read through all of the available Game of Thrones books. Second semester, I was more energetic, but I had no idea what my body was going to look like so I didn't sew too many garments, settling instead for outfitting SHB's nursery. Third trimester was a total flop as I felt like a whale and was busy with moving. And of course, once I had SHB, things got busy in a totally different way. Still, I've got a nice collection of year-end wrap up posts going on this blog, and I like the process of summing up and reflecting.

Let's take a look at what I was able to accomplish by way of finished garments and objects:

Garments, from left to right, top to bottom: Ballister Blackheart cape and Dr. Blitzmeyer lab coat, Ursula lite, Mother Gothel, neck corset, waterfall cardigan (unblogged), BHL Polly #1 and #2, maternity tops #1 and #2, Rambo cardigan thing, wedding guest dress (unblogged), Totoro maternity top, Mr. Cation's birthday shirt (unblogged), cat onesie (no sewing, just drawing), whale bibs, baby jacket.

Finished objects: manatee plushie, Nimona cats, marine-themed color pencil drawings and paintings, hammerhead shark plushie (unblogged), whale lovey, marine-themed mobile, Totoro bouncer, taxidermy narwhal, marine-themed quilts and Giants quilt, taxidermy blobfish, various doorhangers, and dragon-ish accessories.

I also did some Christmas-specific sewing; something about having an SHB makes one want to do stereotypical things like hanging stockings:

Mr. Cation gets the normal one, mine is covered with cats, SHB's has hippos, and Walnut's is obviously the fish one. 

Not nearly as prolific as other years, but not bad, considering. There's no way I'm gonna bother with tallying up stats like hours, average cost per project, types of garments sewn, etc. though. Instead, I'm jumping straight into the reflecting.

Thanks again to Gillian for hosting the Top 5's this year!

Top 5 Hits:

  • My bustier top, used for my Ursula costume. I loved the process of making such a fitted, complex garment, even if it was occasionally stressful since I had to finish it in time to be graded. Unfortunately, almost as soon as I finished it, I didn't fit into it anymore (still don't, thanks to breastfeeding-sized boobs, but hoping that changes after weaning!). 
  • My Mother Gothel costume. Again, totally impractical but it was comfy and a fun way to announce my pregnancy.
  • BHL Polly tops. I made three versions of this top and they served me very well as my belly expanded. 
  • SHB's quilts. They were seriously fun to dream up and seeing him play around on them is so sweet. 
  • That's it. I really didn't sew a lot this year, so I don't even have five things! Although I guess the last "two" are really six, so that's fine. 

Top 5 Misses: A couple of these are unblogged because I just couldn't be bothered to take pictures. 
  • Simplicity 1804. I made this during third trimester hoping it could be a work dress, but I chose an awful fabric (red mystery knit that was warped, weirdly stiff, and had no recovery) and had the same issues with the back that Aleah had. By the time I had fixed it, I had no interest in wearing it anymore. I tried it on a couple weeks ago, after it had had some time in the closet, but now it's both too small in the chest and too big in the waist. Fail. 
  • Rambo cardigan-thing. Not really drapey enough to be a cardigan, but not structured enough to be a jacket, and it doesn't match anything in my non-maternity wardrobe. Plus Mr. Cation thought it was weird. 
  • Baby mobile. I made this before we moved, and after we got settled into our new house and figured out where we were putting all the baby things, I realized there was nowhere to hang a mobile. I ended up taking the squares off the mobile and just showing them to SHB, but even then he found them interesting only for about a month, and he's moved on already. 
  • Mr. Cation's birthday shirt. This is a little sad, because I spent a lot of time making up the pattern and then sewing the shirt. Part of it is my fault, because I was so tired by the time I made it (third trimester + sweltering summer heat + no AC in our apartment) that I just made it short-sleeved so I wouldn't have to deal with cuff plackets, and short sleeved shirts are just not as practical. Part of it was the timing, as pretty much right after I made it, it was too warm to be wearing collared shirts, but by the time it was cool enough to wear it, SHB had arrived and ain't nobody got time for nice shirts when there's baby spit up all over everything. 
  • At least I haven't got a full list of misses, either. 

Top 5 Highlights: 
  • I had a part in making a human being. I think this is self-explanatory. 
  • Mr. Cation and I bought our first house! Again with the obviousness of this highlight.
  • I had some pretty fantastic internet exposure. My Nimona cosplay was featured in Publisher's Weekly (and I got to meet Noelle Stevenson!) and Lee Pace tweeted my Party King Thranduil cosplay.
  • I had some of the best students of my career in my AP Chem class. It's rare to have kids so fun, diligent, bright, and kind. They even threw me a surprise baby shower, which was totally touching. 
  • Again with the four items!

Top 5 Reflections: 
  • When they say that having a baby changes everything, they're so right. I don't have time to do all the things I want to do; sometimes I have time but am too tired; a lot of things no longer seem worth doing. 
  • Switching back into buying RTW clothes was both easier (wow! it only took five minutes to acquire a new outfit, as opposed to five hours!) and harder (my goodness, why does nothing fit right?!) than I thought it would be. I thought long and hard about trying to go me-made for my maternity and nursing wardrobe, but in the end decided I'm not going to beat myself up about being too tired or not having enough time to do so. Buying RTW is not ideal, but it's not the end of the world, either. 
  • Following on the heels of the above reflection, my time is too valuable to spend doing things I'm not excited about. Especially now that SHB is in the picture. 
  • One of the governing principles that Mr. Cation and I go by in order to decide what to order when eating out is could we make this ourselves? If the answer is yes, then we don't bother. I used to try to do that with clothes, but let's be honest, cooking is a lot faster (generally) than sewing. Just because I could make camisoles and underwear doesn't mean I want to (or have to). As Gillian herself said, no guilt.
  • Holding onto a stash is often portrayed as a negative thing (especially when I was running the Stashbusting Sewalong), but it's not all bad. I used several craft items this year that I had been holding onto for years, and I was glad that I had them! Now if I could just keep that up for fabric...
  • Oh look, I made it to five for this category. I was beginning to worry that this was going to be a Top 4s list. 

Top 5 Goals:
  • No guilt sewing. Do it because I want to. I do what I want, Thor. This includes stashbusting -- no sewing things I'm not passionate about anymore just because they were once higher in the queue. 
  • To that end, actually sew things. Some days I just waste time on Pinterest and don't bother with doing irreversible things, and then suddenly I blink and a week has gone by without any creating and I'm a grumpy bugger and I don't know why. Except I do know why. 
  • Figure out how to take sewing classes again. I really loved learning last school year with my textiles, pants, bustier, and other miscellaneous classes. I'm not really sure how it's going to work with SHB in the picture (and no family help), but I think just recording this will help me to remember that continuing education is a worthwhile goal. 
  • Enjoy SHB. This has been really hard, as I don't think very young babies are that fun in the moment. There's a lot of monotony and selflessness, but then suddenly I blink (I'm doing a lot of sudden blinking here) and he's grown out of his 0-3 month clothes and I'm tearing up wondering where my tiny little newborn went. I'm still not sure how to go about trying to enjoy something that I don't really enjoy, but I'm willing to bet that this is more important to figure out than say, trying to enjoy grading papers. 
  • Spend more time with non-SHB family. After spending so much time taking care of SHB, I really just want to be alone (OMG Walnut why are you jumping in my lap *again*). But there are other relationships to be kept up, and while alone time is important, I'm willing to bet (I'm also doing a lot of imaginary betting) that nobody on their deathbed wishes they spent more time doing selfish sewing or pinning costume ideas instead of spending time with family. 

Let's hope that this year my plans, vague as they are -- note the lack of specific garments! -- don't go awry.