Tomorrow (in an hour and eleven minutes, as of when I started writing this) is my eldest son’s twenty-first birthday. Leaving aside the absurdity of me having a child who is twenty-one entire years old for a moment… He had one request from me: he wanted me to make a long-sleeved t-shirt for him for his birthday. He chose a lovely, lightweight but cozy waffle-knit fabric in a slate blue. I chose a pattern and he approved it. “Sure,” I said. “I have plenty of time.”
I started off strong. Early last week, I printed out the pattern and assembled it. Late last week, I measured him to make sure I got exactly the right size. Two days ago, I cut out all of the pattern pieces and had everything lined up and ready. “I am so on top of this,” I thought.
It happened just in the nick (the St. Nick?) of time, but I finished this year’s Christmas pajamas at midday on Christmas eve.
I linked the patterns used in a previous post, but I’ll jot down some lessons learned here, partially for myself when I start setting up to do the 2023 pajamas and partially if anyone else is interested in embarking on this tradition for their family and they want to see what it’s like:
Clothing pattern sizes, even ones sized with a modern approach, run small. None of my sons wear an XL in ready-to-wear clothing, but all of these garments are pattern size XL or larger. Best to go by measurements. I foolishly thought that since I had used these patterns before, it would be fine, but clearly, I had sized up or adjusted the pattern before and not noted that for myself.
Keep notes and when you write them, write like you’re writing for a stranger. This would have saved me a lot of time and angst this year.
Buy more fabric than you think you’ll need. The fabric I bought was a 42-inch wide directionally-printed flannel (by which I mean the pattern does not match when you rotate the fabric, unlike some plaids, for instance.) I bought ten yards thinking I would have plenty since that worked for me the last few years (see above about keeping good notes!) and I’ll just say that the pants from the last few years were not made with directional prints, which turned out to make a massive difference. Ten yards ended out being JUST enough (and trying to match the pattern just was not happening – I just wanted all the dinos to be right-side-up!) and I was holding my breath toward the end of cutting out the pants pattern. Next year, even if nobody needs a larger size, I’ll definitely be buying a few yards more just for the sake of my own sanity.
I think that about covers it. I’ll come back and add more should I think of more. But for now, they’re done, the boys are happy with them and so am I, and now I can relax and enjoy the holiday.
I did it! Everything is fully cut out as of 11pm tonight, which I’m still counting as today. There were a few hairy moments – I was absolutely certain I was going to be making a trip to the fabric store tomorrow to try to get more of the pajama pants fabric – but in the end, I managed.
Note to future self: if the pants fabric is a directional print, especially if the fabric is on the narrow side, 10 yards is not, as it happens, truly enough for three grown men (which somehow my children have become when I wasn’t looking.) I made it work, but the pockets are not going to be pretty, and I think I had at least two minor heart attacks during the process.
But! Now all of the cutting is done and in the morning, I can set up my serger and my sewing machine and get to work.
Pajamafest 2022 has begun in earnest (and with no time to spare, since it’s literally four days till I have to give all three of my kids their pajamas!) For some reason, I decided that 2022 would be the year that I should re-download and re-print (and re-assemble, and re-trace,) my patterns. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Narrator: It was not a good idea.
The patterns I’d been using for the last umpteen years were so old and ratty and I’d made so many poorly-documented notes and adjustments that I couldn’t tell what was what (or for whom) anymore, so I figured I’d just start fresh. So that’s where we are. Last night I finished tracing and cutting the pajama pants pattern (trousers for ex-US English speakers) from pattern fabric and now those are ready. I’ve just finished assembling the 40 (!) printed 8.5″ x 11″ sheets for the hoodie pattern and I’m taking a short break before I go in to do the tracing and cutting the pattern out of pattern fabric.
Today’s goal is to get all of the patterns assembled, traced, and cut, and to hopefully cut out the pieces for at least either all of the hoodies or all of the pants. The last few years have not been good for my chronic pain for Reasons, so I’m trying to keep modest goals and take breaks.
Today is Labor Day in the United States and Canada, so I had a bonus day tacked on to my weekend. With the weather getting a bit cooler (which here in Pennsylvania means “only” 80 degrees Fahrenheit), what better time is there to try a new (to me) bread recipe? A friend recently mentioned this bread to me, and since then, I’ve been wanting to try it. It was a wise choice – this bread is hearty and complex, perfect for toast with cottage cheese. Recipe is from Food.com.
It’s been a hot minute, I know. I’ve been knitting and sewing along, but have neglected this corner of the internet. Jumping back in, though, I’ve started the Snow and Ashes Mystery Knit-Along (Ravelry link). Clue 1 dropped this Sunday, and I’ve already finished it. (And I only had to start it three separate times! /facepalm) I wish I could say that this would be indicative of how my progress with this project will go, but I don’t really hold out hope for that. But for now, success!
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time Robert Herrick, 1591-1674
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today Tomorrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, The higher he’s a-getting, The sooner will his race be run, And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer; But being spent, the worse, and worst Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may, go marry; For having lost but once your prime, You may forever tarry.
While I disagree that virgins have anything they need to rush into (nobody’s prime is based on their appearance or their sexual value, and it’s not as if sex is the pinnacle of human experience,) I do feel like the overall feeling of the poem is relevant right now. One thing that quarantine has driven home to me in a way that I didn’t expect is my experience of the changing of the seasons. Being limited to my home and its surroundings, I’ve paid attention to how subtly the outdoors changes day by day more than I ever have before.
I know that’s not how the song (poem?) goes, but for me, the gradual creeping-in of autumn is as eagerly anticipated as the advent of spring is for most. My basil has gone to flower, the leaves getting less lush and more spindly in the heat; everything outside is done to the accompaniment of the buzz of cicadas. Everything is starting to look less fresh and lush and more weary and uncomfortably hot. Much like I feel. Summer’s last hurrah.
Today is cooler; it’s one of those delightful, grey, drizzly reprieves in August where the outside temperature only gets up to about 72F/22C. Not cool by any means, but so much more tolerable than the usual 95F/35C of August in Pennsylvania. We’ve got all of the downstairs air conditioners off and fresh air wafting through the house. And all of this makes me feel inside like it’s time to make things.
I make no secret that summer is my least favorite season. Doubly so right now, when the central air in our home is broken, the air conditioning in my ancient minivan is broken and I’m quarantining at home thanks to COVID-19. My world has rather suddenly contracted into a 10′ x 14′ room: my home office. Fortunately (?), I’m an introvert, so I’m not quite as completely mad as I might be otherwise, but I do miss the world, if not the people in it.
Lammas blessings to those who are celebrating (and Imbolc blessings to my lovelies in the southern hemisphere!) Also often called Lughnasadh, Lammas is a holiday for harvest and bread-making; of appreciating the bounty before us. I’ve already got a sponge rising for some brioche loaves, because why not?
Here is a link for some history on the holiday if you are interested, including some Old English poetry because who doesn’t love that?