Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Top Fives

Thanks to Gillian's #sewingtop5, or else I would never get around to summarizing and reflecting on my creative year! Sometimes having assignments (even if they're purely self-assigned) is really helpful. First, let's look at my selfish sewing:

Row 1: Batman Beyond jacket applique, Galadriel, red lace dress (unblogged), and undies.
Row 2: Tunics, lounging clothes, and a cat blouse.
Row 3: Black sweatshirt and leopard pants refashion, cat tunic, striped dress and cardigan.
Row 4: Old-timey jodhpurs, two Walkley dresses, and a bomber jacket.

Not as much as in years past, thanks to SHB. Speaking of SHB, though, look how adorable he is in his mommy-made wardrobe!

Left column: Blue cat suit and hobbit costume.
Middle column: Terry McGinnis jacket, Blue Sun and biohazard shirts.
Right column: Kumamon, The Cheat, and scientist shirts.
Not pictured: Warriors pajamas.

I didn't make anything for him in the latter half of the year until Christmas, so it's kind of weird to see all these pictures of him from so "long" ago! I can't even remember what it's like to have a non-mobile baby. Besides garment sewing, there was also a lot of crafting, most of it geeky:

Pyrography: Hobbit-themed cutting boards, The One (Teething) Ring, Map of Thorin and Totoro boxes, Tolkien ornaments (not pictured).
Geeky sewing: Adult and baby versions of the Palantir/Eye of Sauron, Firefly-themed playset, hammerhead sharks, Smaug and Bilbo pillows, drool guards, aviator hat, toy bin, and Christmas decorations (not pictured).
Miscellaneous: Eye of Sauron headpiece, baby quilt (not pictured), Eye of Sauron ornament (not pictured).

Not bad, all things considered! And because I always like a nice chart...

I love that there are enough Eyes of Sauron to warrant its own category. I mean, I made more Eyes of Sauron than pants this year! Also, now that I look at the legend again, it looks like I made 10 SHBs this year, not ten garments for SHB. Oops.

And now, on to the reflection portion!

Top Five Sewing Hits:
  1. My bomber jacket: looks so real, relatively easy, goes with everything, and is just warm enough for most NorCal days. 
  2. SHB's The Cheat shirt: it fit when he was five months old, and it still fits now at 15 months, albeit as a 3/4 length sleeve shirt. But it's a good barometer for who was in college at around the same time I was, because those people recognize The Cheat and love it. 
  3. The adult Eye of Sauron, Smaug, and Bilbo: people who come over to our house love the former two, SHB loves the latter. 
  4. The So Zo undies: I made three pairs, and they're always the ones I reach for first. Every time I realize that all three are in the wash, I become sad and dissatisfied with my RTW ones, and swear I will make more. Unfortunately, sewing undies is not nearly as fun as new things that people can actually see.
  5. Baby quilt: I made a personalized quilt for the daughter of one of my dearest friends in San Diego. Her baby was a long-awaited answer to prayer and while I'm sad I can't see her as often as I would like, I wanted use my skills to wrap her (literally) in love. I'm kicking myself that I never took a picture of it, though! This is what happens when I cram in my sewing in the three days before getting on the plane. 

Top Five Sewing Misses:
  1. Birthday shirt for my brother: never finished because I realized that I had cut the sleeves wrong, and then I messed up the tower plackets because I was trying to finish it in a hurry. Stuffed it all into a bag and put it in the closet to stew. 
  2. SHB's blue cat outfit: too big when I made them, and when they fit again it was summer and there was no way he was going to wear a fleece outfit. 
  3. The tighter Walkley dress: I used a much less stretchy fabric than my first iteration, so it ended up too tight when I applied the same alterations. 
  4. Drool guards: right after I made them, SHB stopped wanting to be carried in the Ergo. 
  5. Jodhpurs: they were really a wearable muslin, but I'm still disappointed. Since it's based off of a 1910s draft, they are ridiculous in the crotch/butt region. Also the fabric is kind of hideous. 

Top Five Non-Sewing Highlights:
  1. SHB turned one! He is now ridiculously fun and a wriggling handful, especially since he can inevitably run faster, reach farther, eat more, and sleep less than I expect. He is generally a really happy guy, though, so I can't complain.
  2. Mr. Cation and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary in June. Things keep changing fairly drastically every year (a lay-off, living in four different cities, business school, buying a house, having a baby) but we're still very happy and love and appreciate each other more. 
  3. Okay, I know this is actually sewing related, but I costumed my first show! It was an amazing, intense, stressful, and wonderful experience, and it really deserves a whole blog post. At some point. 
  4. The LOTR Symphony Extravaganza: it was lovely to revisit Middle Earth and wear fun costumes again!
  5. This is a little silly, but seeing Episode VII: Mr. Cation said to me as we sat down in our seats that we had been waiting our whole lives for this movie to come out (Episodes I-III didn't count), and I realized that it was kind of true. I've loved the original trilogy since I first saw it in elementary school, then loved all the novels in middle and high school, and after the disappointment of Episodes I-III, I had kind of given up hope in the whole Star Wars franchise. Episode VII brought back all the giddy excitement for me, and even more so because of the oh, I don't know, actual fleshed out character and storyline of a strong heroine? I am so excited for 2017!

Top Five Reflections:
  1. Rest is so important. When I was waking up five or six times a night and then carrying SHB for all his naps, I was an awful person. I snapped at Mr. Cation, couldn't be arsed to care about anything, and couldn't figure out why I hated my life. Scratch that, I knew why I hated my life, but couldn't see any way around it. Thankfully, SHB now sleeps through the night most of the time (and has for about half a year now!) and can nap in his crib (even if that's only once a day for 60 minutes), so I'm feeling much better about life. 
  2. Creating is so important. Even when I was sleep deprived and grumpy, I would occasionally give up sleep to sew (although this was pretty rare), craft (less rare -- all the pyrography is evidence that it takes less brainpower than sewing), or at least research/dream about future projects. That excitement kept me going. 
  3. Community is so important. Because I work part-time, I kind of get the worst of both worlds: I feel stressed about the work I need to get done, but because I have to rush home for nap time I have no time to actually connect with co-workers who get what I'm struggling with; I'm always teaching during prime mommy-and-me class hours so it's hard to connect with moms who can commiserate. (I also get the best of both worlds, in that I get to spend a lot of time with SHB, but not so much time that I'm bored out of my mind; I get to work with students without having to do the extra, unrelated stuff like lunch duty or staff meetings). In the last year, some of the most encouraging people in my life have been people I've never actually met. Mikhaela and Clio, who co-hosted the SHB Sew-Along with me, were my moms-in-the-trenches friends who could empathize about the lack of sleep and time to sew; at least as many emails were exchanged about parenting as were about the sew-along, and once the month was over I missed that comaraderie. Gillian, Brooke, Becky, and countless other IG sewcialists helped me feel like I could make meaningful connections even when I hadn't talked to another adult all day. All of you more experienced moms with older kids kept me going with your reminders that this, too, shall pass, and one day I'll have a teenager who doesn't need to constant attention (although they may still need feeding every two hours). 
  4. Stash is so important. Hah! No but really, when I was costuming the play, I was so glad to have a stash of fabrics and patterns that I could use. It saved me so much time and money to have a stash to pull from. And whenever I was feeling blah and uninspired, fondling fabrics helped me dream again. 
  5. Letting go is so important. I know we're all supposed to be KonMari-ing everything, but it's still hard to let go of me-mades that don't fit right or fabrics that you no longer love. I've donated a lot of stuff to make room for SHB's stuff, and you know what? I can't even remember what I donated anymore, so I obviously don't miss it! Besides letting go of physical things, I'm also letting go of any self-imposed obligation to sew a certain amount of stash or percentage of my/SHB's wardrobe. I know I already said this last year, but I need to remember that just because I can, doesn't mean I have to. 

Top Five Sewing Goals:
  1. Costume another show, but without stressing out myself and my family this time: I've learned a lot about what to do and what not to do, so hopefully the next one goes better! (I know I keep alluding to this theater costuming thing, and I promise a blog post is coming.)
  2. Get back into the Historical Sew Monthly. I pretty much dropped it while growing, hatching, and raising SHB, but I really miss it. My modern wardrobe doesn't really need any more items (even though I'm sure I'll continue sewing for it), and historical sewing lets me spend lots of time researching and planning, which I love. 
  3. Make more outerwear and/or menswear. See above re: my wardrobe not needing more items. Except underwear, because I really need more pairs I like. No bras, though. I am not going down that rabbit hole!
  4. Find more opportunities to wear the costumes I've sewn: because they're really too nice to stay hidden in my closet. Okay, that's not really a sewing goal, per se. 
  5. Take more classes! Figure out corsetry! Research historical fashion! Learn ALL the things! This is the same as last year, but I love learning. It needs to continue. 

Whew! That's it! Happy New Year!


  1. So as someone who's gotten back into theatrical costuming, here's a few things.

    1) Don't use too much of your stash. Hopefully your shows have a budget. This means things like sheets from goodwill and the worlds ugliest petticoats made out of said 70s sheets, and using zip ties for boning and braiding yarn for cords.

    2) Demand assistance. Don't do it all alone, and if you have a dedicated assistant, or are able to strong-arm folks into sewing days, DO IT.

    3) Be flexible in your designs. Initially had one family in blue but found a PERFECT hat for the other mother in that color? Bam, mysteriously the other family was always in blue. Or be that general. Red family versus blue family (haha red vs blue) and find appropriate fabrics in that colorway. Not specific reds or specific blues, but the general colors.

    4) See what you can make detachable for ease of washing. Stage makeup is a bitch.

    Stay sane out there in deadline sewing land.

    -- Tegan

    1. As a codicil to my no-stash rule, there is much to be said for "i want this the hell out of my stash and out of my house" usage for theatre. :-P

  2. Oh man, I costumed a show once. NEVER AGAIN! I"m endlessly impressed that you enjoyed it - and that you somehow balance everything on your plate! I'm glad you still make time to be creative and hangout online, because we'd miss you if you didn't! Happy 2016!!!

  3. You had a busy but productive year! Glad I was able to help a little with the theatrical costuming project even if it was remotely - it would have been fun to actually help hands-on. Glad it was a decent experience in the end, and I can't wait to hear the details!

    I still can't believe 2015 has come and gone (and I only managed 1 blog post on my own blog at the last minute)! Thank goodness for Instagram keeping so many of use connected with some micro-blogging or I would have felt so cut off from my online friends. Here's hoping for an even better year coming up!

    ~ Brooke

  4. I can't help laughing about your comment about more Eyes of Sauron than pants. Though, since I don't think I made any pants at all last year, and I did make an Eye in the quiet book, I think I did the same thing!

    I hear you on the sleep and crafting being important to work in. I'm thankful that I've been able to work in as much sewing as I have, though there is still a lot of self-imposed pressure to do more. I'm hoping the sleep will come, since teething has given us a major setback in what was already a rough schedule. And Instagram has definitely been a lifeline.

    Hoping that 2016 brings you lots of costuming fun!

  5. I think that the KonMari-ing is more for people who don't make stuff, don't repair stuff, and when their kid needs a costume for school, or materials for a craft project, they just go out and buy it. I have to admit there've been times when I thought I had just the right tool/piece of wire/bit of wood/yarn/fabric/paint for something and couldn't find it in all the other junk, but there've also been countless times I've been able to show my kids how to use a little ingenuity and effort to create or repair something out of whatever we had to hand. SHB is lucky to have such a creative mom!

  6. Loved reading this post and seeing all that you accomplished in 2015. Your son is such a cutey!!! Babies grow up so fast!

  7. Everything you made for your baby is so cute! Also, Walnut is resplendent in that last photo. :D

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  9. What a wonderful post--you made so many fab things in 2015! Nerd crafts FTW! (SHB's The Cheat shirt is so awesome that, despite the fact that I am 30, I want one for myself...) The last picture of SHB and Walnut is pure gold, by the way. =)

  10. What a great reflection! I wish I had the brainpower to review my sewing year... You'd think I would with the week off at Xmas, but apparently not. :P

    I can't believe how much sewing you've gotte done with your SHB! I didn't sew anything at all the first year Tyo was born... Mind you I wasn't as obsessed back then. I still had other hobbies. ;) I'm glad you're getting more sleep now! That is the worst. Really, everything else pales in comparison. Even though I'm about to go out in the cold and dark and drive Tyo's boyfriend home. Yes, boyfriend. >_<


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