Just when I think I’ve got my head above water with this mothering gig, and might be able to steal a few minutes to do something sewing related (like unpack my machine from its annual oil and check-up), Munchkin senses this and changes her routine.

No sewing news to report here, other than I’ve purchased a paper slicer and glue sticks so that when I do find some time for myself, I may actually assemble a couple of PDF patterns I bought last year.

Right now, though, a rant about baby clothes. Munchkin is a long, lean baby with very large feet. At four months. Her feet are filling the footies on her 3-6 month onesies. Since we are on the downside of winter here in Portlandia, she needs a jacket that isn’t quite so warm as her full monkey suit. I finally resigned myself and went baby clothes shopping for the first time. (Everything she had before this was gifted to her, or made for her. Girl has a bigger wardrobe than I do.).

Anyway, I’m not a clothes shopper, not even for me. I see it as a necessary evil that must be done from time to time. The hope is eventually I will have enough TNT patterns and sources of good fabric (please, oh please, find me a knits selection like that of Tomato in Tokyo!) that I won’t need to shop for clothes for me anymore. Having a fussy baby on hand, I decided to have a strategic strike at Target. I found the tiny kids section and the even smaller infants section. I was surprised by a couple of things:

1. There are no coats for the under 12 month age group. The girl sets have sweaters and the boy sets have zippered, lightweight jackets. Granted, I could probably go to baby Columbia and find something, but I’m not spending what they would charge on something she’ll outgrow in a couple of months.

2. The girls’ sweaters are all frilly, pastel/pink, fasten with buttons (?! on a squirming baby, buttons?), or are cropped. Definitely someone’s notion of cute, but not practical. Not for us, thank you. The “boys” section is much more practical, and, to be honest, much cuter. A pinstriped onesie with a monkey playing baseball, a zip-front navy hoodie, and navy pull on pants? Yes, please! An adorable striped zip-front jacket with a bear pirate on it, along with a pirate onesie and navy pants? On sale? Yes!!

(Granted, I am a little biased. I don’t like pink. I never have. I have pale skin and auburn hair, so pink looks dreadful on me. Munchkin has the same coloring, so she looks much better in navy, army green, and dark brown than in any shade of pink.)

Later, at a neighborhood kids resale shop, I encountered the same thing: pink and impractical for girls, navy and practical for boys. Just higher-end boutique clothing instead of big box store offerings. That didn’t stop me from buying a boys’ zip-front navy sweater for my little girl. From France. The tag read, “petit boy.”

I guess I’m surprised and disappointed that the clothing industry continues this stereotyping.

I’m looking forward to time at the sewing machine, when I can make Munchkin whatever I want, out of whatever fabric I want. Stereotypes be damned,

Stashbusting, go!

Stashbusting sewalong 2014

It’s that time of year again, time for another Stashbusting Sewalong pledge! EmSewCrazy and Cation Designs started this last year, to challenge sewists to look at and use our fabric stashes. (Who sews and doesn’t have a stash, right?)

Here is my pledge for 2014:

I, Gretchen, commit to using 12 pieces from my stash fabric in 2014. I also commit to turning at least half of them into wearable objects for myself.  

I participated last year and had a blast, even though my sewing plans were quickly derailed by The Pregnancy and The Baby. My fabric stashbusting goal this year may be lower than last year (I pledged 16 pieces from the stash last year), but I think it may be a bigger challenge, at least in the first few months. I currently have a 10 week-old baby and no functional sewing space (it became the nursery), so I don’t reasonably expect to get any sewing done for a few months yet. Add in a breast-feeding bust line and post-partum tummy and hips, and that’s enough challenge for me for now.

Why do I sew?
I love to make. Whether it’s a good meal, a great loaf of bread, or something to wear or use in my home. I also love the fun and challenge of turning a 2D pattern and 2D fabric into something that is (hopefully) wearable.

Why am I stashbusting?
Because I own so many lovely pieces of fabric that I want to turn into something! Honestly, if it weren’t for my friend’s Japanese fabric store tempting me from time to time, I would rarely fabric shop. I’m such a knits girl and good knits are hard to find here in Portlandia. (At least where I know to look.)  Most of my stash is from shopping trips in Tokyo, so the fabric has added meaning.  It’s time to stop looking at it and make something with it.

What’s on my list?
Easy separates. Because that’s what I wear. As much as I’m attracted to a nice dress, when it comes to my lifestyle (pre-baby at least, and I don’t expect any change now) I grab a knit top and pants. Or maybe a skirt. That’s what I want to concentrate on this year. Go-to separates. I would like 2014 to be the year that I tackle woven pants (probably Thurlows) and succeed in making a pair that fits me. This will be a challenge, as I continue to shed my baby weight. I also want to challenge myself to make some woven tops to wear, as I do tend to gravitate toward knits.  I also want to make an Anna dress, because I have yet to see one that isn’t flattering on the sewist who made it. (And I have the perfect fabric in my stash for it!)

We shall see. And that’s the fun of this Stashbusting sewalong. Seeing what you can make out of what you already have.

Happy stashbusting everyone!


That’s Japanese for “where”.  As in where in the world has the spiceweasel been for the last several months?

Here’s a little hint…



Yes, the Munchkin has joined us.  I was due in November and she waited until then, just.  October was mainly me trying to get through the month in some sort of comfort.  As my OB said on my first visit of the last month, “Welcome to the longest month.”  She wasn’t kidding.  There wasn’t any sewing in October, as we were concentrating on getting the rewiring done in the house and working on getting my sewing stuff moved out of the guest room to turn it into the nursery.

The highlight of the month, though, had to be meeting Cindy of Cation Designs in person.  She had posted that she was going to be in Portland and would anyone want to hang out.  Would I??  We had a great day together exploring a bit of Portland and hitting some of the fabric shops here.  (Although I was the one who ended up buying all the fabric!)  I felt a little bad, as I was very, very pregnant and ran out of steam; thank goodness for benches in the shops!  Cindy is an absolute sweetheart and just as funny and charming in person as on her blog.  It was an absolute thrill for me.

Just a few days later I went in for my routine OB check-up.  On Halloween.  My teeniny, female Asian doctor was dressed as an NFL linebacker, complete with shoulder pads, pants, cleats, and eye black.  It was so hilarious and awesome!  Checkup was normal and I was about 1.5 cm dilated; on schedule for my due date.  Later that night I woke up and felt what seemed to be menstrual cramps.  I thought, “Oh, this can’t be labor, it must be false labor.  My mind must be overreacting to the doctor visit yesterday.”  Needless to say, it wasn’t.  By the time I realized it wasn’t false labor and roused the hubby, it was morning. We checked into the hospital where they admitted me even though I was “only” 2-3 cm dilated.  Less than three hours (and no drugs) later, I had a baby girl in my arms.  She really wanted to come out.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind.  Adjusting to no sleep, another human being, breastfeeding, etc. etc.  She’s finally getting old enough and napping enough in the day that I can have a few moments to update my blog.  Yay!

Sewing will have to wait, as my stuff is sharing a room with hubby’s office, our library, and the exercise bike.  All that in a 10ft square room.  We (by which I mean my hubby) have gotten all the electrical rewiring done, so there are just a few more projects to come before we rearrange things and make some space for the sewing room again.  Hopefully in a few months I’ll have a space.  Or I’ll make a space at the kitchen table.  🙂

Until then, happy sewing everyone!

September sewing

With the return of cooler autumn air (or, actually, with the departure of the hot summer air) I got my sewing mojo back a bit this month.  However, being in my third trimester, the sewing I could do for myself is a bit limited, as I’m trying to hang on until the end without buying or making anything new.  I did sew two items for me this month, which I’ll blog about in a separate post (the items in question are in the wash hamper and haven’t been photographed yet).  Mainly I did some some sewing for my Munchkin-to-be.

One of my friends runs an etsy store specializing in imported kawaii (cute) Japanese fabrics. A few years ago *ahem* 5 years *ahem* she was in Portland showing/buying at a Quilt market and had some leftover 1/2 yard cuts of that she didn’t want to take back with her. She left them with me, and they made their way to my stash, where they’ve sat ever since. Since I don’t quilt and I have enough bags already, I always wonder what to do with 1/2 yard cuts. Hooray for the impending SHB! I picked up a couple of infant/toddler patterns at Joann’s during one of their pattern sales and decided to make some toddler-sized outfits for Munchkin. I’ve been avoiding making newborn/infant clothes, since I know she’s going to grow so fast that I don’t really want to invest my time in those clothes. (Although I totally respect those moms who do.) I grabbed my stash and got to work. Now Munchkin has a better coordinated wardrobe than I do. 🙂

The first pinafore I finished at the end of August, so not technically September sewing.  However, it is totally a stash buster, though.  Both pieces of fabric (the Eiffel tower print and the nautical anchor print) have been in my stash since spring of ’08.  Eep.  The pattern is Butterick 5625.


And the reverse side.  I actually made this same fabric (a lightweight cotton) into a great summer top for myself last year.


And here are the five September makes, using New Look 0184.  The white with vertical stripes and the blue denim fabrics were ones I purchased at Fabric Depot in Portland when I first visited the city in 2006, so, yeah, they are really stash busters.  The middle tunic (natural cotton with musical score) and the red polka dot cotton are both bits that my friend left me in 2008.  I used some of the leftover Eiffel tower print for the neckband of the middle tunic, though it’s hard to see in this photo.  The last tunic print (on the right) I bought last year just because it was so darned cute.  (Click on the image for larger view.)


And here are more photos of the various combinations. I hope that the sizes work out so that she can wear them at the same time.  *fingers crossed*  And I’m also hoping that when she’s the size to wear these it’s  summer here in Portland.  If not, I’ll make some tees for her to wear underneath and she’ll be rocking the Parisian nautical look in greyest, rainiest February.



IMG_2982Below is my favorite combo of the bunch.  I’m not a print girl myself (or so I think/tell myself) so perhaps I’m living out my print fantasies vicariously by making these outfits for Munchkin to wear?  (Or maybe I just wish that I could get away with wearing a blouse made from tiny smiling flowers.)


Detail of the tiny smiling flowers, from the Lecien collection tiny prints. IMG_2985