Let it all go

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m KoMari-ing my house, but I have been cleaning out. I’m not looking for joy. I’m looking for absolution. I want to be unburdened by things I’ve kept far too long, things that I thought might be useful or that I thought my future self would want. I can’t speak for my future-future self, but my present future self wonders why her past self couldn’t part with string art she made in junior high mumble mumble years ago or why she thought her present future self would ever want it.

My time to clean out is limited, and often interrupted. It turns out this works in my favor because I don’t get decision fatigue before I have to take a break. I have the mental energy to be honest and ruthless. If I can get the stuff that may still have some use to someone else into bags in the basement then it stands a good change of getting moved out of the house. Things are neater, shelves are clearer, drawers are emptier, boxes that I’ve moved twice without unpacking are gone, and storage bins I bought when I misunderstood my problem to be one of organization and not over-accumulation sit unused and have become clutter themselves.

I’ve been on such a roll that my attention has even turned to areas formerly sacrosanct. I’m talking fabric stash, folks.***

At first thought it isn’t so big and it’s easy to justify. But as I continue thinking about it the stash snowballs. I realize that I have enough for several dresses, a top, two shirts for Hubs, a skirt or pants, and some other random stuff that I bought for such-and-such purpose then abandoned. The stash no longer feels “not so big”.  But you know what? Those don’t bother me. Those fabrics wait patiently on the shelf. They’re all earmarked or usable quantities and I like them. Let’s call that part of the stash “curated”. It was the stuff in the bins that gets to me. What’s even in there? And why do I keep it?

It turns a big chunk of it was scraps of fabric I don’t like and/or aren’t big enough to be usable in any significant way. Off to Scraps KC it went. Another chunk constituted scraps large enough for children’s clothes. I had three choices: 1) admit I was never going to get around to using the scraps and give them away; 2) continue to store the scraps indefinitely in case I ever did get around to making kids clothes; or 3) make the damn kids clothes, already.

So I got to it.

I made a tunic from leftover seersucker.


Pattern: Baby + Child Smock by Wiksten
Size: 5T
Fabric: leftover seersucker from my fen dress which predates the blog
Minnie Mouse, you must have noticed by now, is a recurring theme.

The direction of the stripes were 100% a function of trying to fit all the pattern pieces on to the fabric I had.

I also made shorts. Three pair!


Pattern: Puppet Show Shorts by Oliver + S
Size: 5T
Fabric: All linens from this project, that project, and the other project
Did you think there wouldn’t be Minnie involved somehow?

I’ve made both these patterns before. If you click through you’ll see that this is even the 2nd pair I’ve made from the leftover mustard yellow linen. I overbought by a bunch. I can’t speak for the recipient (she told me they could be for her brother when she saw me cutting them out) but I personally LOVE them.

And finally, not kid-related, I made a project bag.


Pattern: Cordula by Fröbelina

I’m feeling pretty chuffed. It feels good to move these scraps out of my stash and into my kid’s dresser.

*** Note I deliberately omitted mention of the yarn stash from this post. That one’s complicated.

Wearable Schwearable

I’ve lied to myself over and over telling myself I was making a “wearable muslin” when in fact I was too lazy or uninterested or intimidated to make the adjustments that are implied by the term “making a muslin.” I wasn’t testing the pattern – I was making it as drafted in a hail-Mary pass and living with the consequences. Sometimes it was fine. Sometimes it wasn’t exactly fine but I wore the garment anyways. Sometimes a garment was unwearable. I mean, if you make a “muslin” and it’s wearable it qualifies as a garment, right? So what does “wearable muslin” even mean? That you got lucky?


I’m on a mission to make some loose, easy fitting summer dresses. Enter my “wearable muslin” of the Willow tank from Grainline Studio. True to habit, I made it up as drafted. Also true to habit, I used french seams. And finally, true to habit, I was shocked – shocked! – when it didn’t fit.

I unpicked those french seams, swore to myself I would use my serger to finish seams on untested garments in the future, and moved the bust darts up an inch. This was the result. Wearable? Yes! Improvable? Yes!


Pattern: Willow Tank by Grainline Studio
Size: 6
Fabric: Cotton something from Jo-Ann
I’m just sure the neighbor’s crew is coming over to drum tonight.

It looks OK, but the neckline gapes a bit. Not a big deal by itself, but when I use it as a layering piece it bunches a lot. I thought about tearing out the bias tape finish and putting in a small gather or pleat at the center bust, but, true to form, I forgot.

The opportunity of a simple pattern is that I get to try different adjustments to see what works best. I can try, for example, a square shoulder adjustment and see if that does the job, and/or a small bust adjustment, and/or a gaping neck adjustment. If I were a more organized person I might try each of these to see what the results are. Hold that thought, Mom gave me yards and yards of white-on-white quilting fabric she wasn’t going to use and I’m suddenly thinking it would be a terrific idea to try each of these ideas in turn. Some things I have to learn by doing and this may be one of those times.

Arbitrary Deadlines

I, happily, am married to a man who wears the things I make him. Sweaters, hats, socks, and shirts are dutifully used until they’re unusable, no matter whether they’re scratchy, striped, neon, too big or small. Also happily, he has penchant for button-downs. I bought Leisl + Co’s all Day Shirt pattern pretty much as soon as the promotional email dropped in my inbox with the idea that it would be a Christmas present and proceeded to mess it up in every possible way. This shirt and I took a break from one another while I distracted myself with gift sewing, knitting, and embroidering. I knew when I used found time to make Farrow instead of working on this shirt that I had officially given up on the idea of having it done in time for Christmas.

Releasing myself from that obligation was why, I think, I finally turned my attention back to this shirt when I found myself awake at 5:00 in the morning the Saturday before Christmas. With the looming deadline removed I could take my time, not feel rushed, give myself the space to make more mistakes without feeling undone by them. I had made so many mistakes already on steps that I had experience with that I was sure a new-to-me cuff construction could only result in more. Don’t think I hadn’t floated the idea of to Hubs that he might want another a short-sleeved button-down. I had and he didn’t.

Amazingly the cuffs went on without a hitch. I felt so good about this shirt’s prospects that I wrapped it up and put it under the tree without buttons or buttonholes which I was sure I would finish up in the coming days.

It was *cough cough* another month before I finally got to it.


Pattern: All Day Shirt by Liesl + Co.
Size: Medium
Fabric: Robert Kaufman, Carolina Gingham 1″, Mint

I had borrowed my mom’s back-up Bernina while my Nova (which used to be her Nova!) was in the shop. Mom’s machine has a programmable buttonhole function that I wanted to check out, but it wasn’t until I picked my Nova up and thought I ought to get her machine back to her that I worked up the gumption to actually do it. What a revelation. Folks, you’ve been holding out on me. I had no idea buttonholes could be such a no-brainer. It was the easiest thing. As much as I love, love, love my Nova I told Mom I’ll be heading to her house to make buttonholes in the future.

My beloved, why do you make buttonholes so difficult?

I’d always wondered why in all the tips and tricks offered by sewists on their blogs buttonholes didn’t come up. Now I think I know. Y’all aren’t making manual buttonholes, are you???


It fits well across the shoulders but is narrow through the hips. I’m unsure whether this is a fit issue or a style issue as this shirt is meant to be worn tucked. Either way I might grade up a size at the hem next time for some wiggle room.

I really like the pockets. Admire those perfectly matching buttonholes. They’re all the same size! Through no effort on my part!

I’ll absolutely make it again. See, I’ve already forgotten all my frustrations while making this. That’s the power of a good pattern!


Rad Plaid

A while back I was scouring Google maps for a fabric store that was en route to the in-laws and decided to check out a place called Fabric Recycles (no link because no website). I walked in to discover that this store doesn’t have bolts of fabric, but cuts of fabric rolled up and labeled with the fabric dimensions. There are cubbies full of fabric rolls sorted by color and I swear nary a repeat among them. I was overwhelmed by the mis-match between shopping expectation and experience. I had a hard time taking it in. I told my mom about the store and she said, “I bet there’s some really good deals there!” and yeah, I bet there are, but if you’re a novice sewer like me it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting. I was perplexed and indecisive which always ends, for me, in shopping regret. What follows is the outcome of the fruits of this shopping expedition.

I bought three rolls of fabric.

One roll was blue with an eyelet border I had hoped to make into a child’s dress. Remember when I said the fabric dimensions were printed on the labels? I saw them, but didn’t really think too deeply about them and was surprised to find when I unfurled this cut that was long, but narrow – only maybe a foot and only suitable for a valence. I chucked it.

Another roll was shirting fabric that I immediately regretted. I had some idea of a child’s dress with the stripes on the bodice going a different direction from the skirt, but this fabric was ugly and slippery and not going to work for that. It wasn’t honestly that bad, but it also wasn’t something I was going to use. I made a muslin of the Washi dress bodice and tossed the rest.

The third roll was – you guessed it! – this eyeful. Take it in. How does it make you feel? I am repulsed and attracted to it in equal amounts.


Pattern: Willamette by Hey June
Size: 6
Fabric: Mystery plaid

This pattern is a marriage between a collared shirt and a blouse that I didn’t realize I was missing until I saw it. I like it so well that this is the 2nd time I’ve made it.

Perhaps I should have tempered the loudness of the fabric by cutting view A instead of view B. Mayhaps I could have combined the views for a business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back look if I was so bullish on seizing every opportunity to cut that plaid on the bias. I wasn’t that forward-thinking. I wanted to make view B and I wanted to use this fabric and cutting plaid on the bias is deeply satisfying. End of chain of thought. Result: a very loud plaid made louder and a boxy pattern made visually boxier.


And you know what?

I don’t hate it.

I think I do, it doesn’t seem like something I should like, but then I put it on and I’m like, “Huh. Not bad.”

I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the inside yoke, let alone cuffs or pockets. Luckily that yellow fabric scrap Grandma gave me was a good match. Weird how it came in handy on two consecutive projects. It also guided my button selection. That, incidentally, is one spare button down. Turns out they’re occasionally useful after all!

Notice the no shoes so you won’t know I have no idea how to outfit
I’ve got things on my mind. Things like “I’ve spent years avoiding the camera and I have no idea what to do with my face.”

You can see how lightweight the fabric is. I may have lucked into one of those good deals Mom was talking about if you can get past the colors. I’m wearing it today to a work party. Hopefully people will be able to hear me over my loud, loud shirt.