Category Archives: sewing

And this is why I can’t ever stop procrastinating

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.

Narrator: She was not so on top of this.

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Merry Christmas! The pajamas are done.

Christmas pajamas 2022
Christmas pajamas 2022: E (15), R (18), and N (20), left to right

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.

Back on track, baby!

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, part 1

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.

Autumn is icumen in

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.

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Back to basics

Lately, I’ve had something of an obsession with hand sewing.  After all of these years of sewing via machine, and then via serger, and overcast machine… I’ve gone back to basic hand stitches.  Inspired by Bernadette Banner on YouTube, I’ve bought some fine linen fabric and some linen and silk threads, and I’ve been starting small: handkerchiefs.


My mitered corners need work, but I’m pleased with my progress thus far.

2017 holiday pajamas

2017 xmas pjs smol

Well, it wasn’t pretty, nor was it easy, but I persevered and managed to get the boys’ 2017 holiday pajamas done.  The fabrics this year were from Joann Fabrics; the tops are hoodies made of a bright red fleece, and the bottoms are elastic-waist flannel pajama pants with a wintery penguin print.  Photography is frustrating; the photograph makes the red look more vibrant than it really is, and makes the flannel print and the background look less vibrant than they really are.  I promise that in person, it works. Continue reading

The air conditioner is broken.

On this, the hottest weekend of the year, when it hit a heat index of 120 degrees just south in Dover, DE… Our central air broke. This wasn’t entirely unforeseen – it’s an old unit, definitely past the end of its expected lifespan – but that doesn’t make it any less beastly hot. So I did what anyone would do – made myself some hot-weather lounging clothes/pajamas. The tank top is a Stitch Upon a Time Versa-Cami – my recent favorite pattern for shelf bra camisoles. The shorts are Stitch Upon a Time Boxerwear for women – those will double as slip shorts underneath skirts and dresses for days I have to wear more than the bare minimum.

Ok, now I’m off to take a freezing cold shower and pray to the gods of central air.

Hoover’s dog shirt

 I decided to bust out the sewing machine this afternoon and whip up a little t-shirt for Hoover, our four-month-old puppy.  He’s a gnawing (and growing) machine, but the Mr. likes Hoover to be dressed up, so I figured I’d throw something together with stash fabric for funsies.

For a pattern, I looked to millamilla on Etsy.  I’d used a free pattern from her website before, and found it easy to understand and assemble.  This time, I splurged on the Dog Clothes 3-Way T-Shirt pattern.  It came with two instant-download PDF files: the first being the pattern pieces, and the second being the instructions (or “recipe”).  The pattern pieces printed on six pages, and I appreciated that thought was put into placing as many pieces as possible on each page so as not to waste my paper or ink.  One minor issue I had was that I have an older inkjet printer that can’t handle printing to the very edge of the paper, so the pattern pieces occasionally went over the margins and I had to hand-draw some bits.  Not a deal-breaker, but something you may want to consider if you have an older printer.

The instructions were clear and geared toward an advanced-beginner level sewist.  It assumed that you had some basic techniques, such as easing in set-in sleeves.  The pattern doesn’t require an overlock machine (serger), and for this iteration, I just used my handy-dandy regular machine (couldn’t be bothered to set up the serger, if I’m being honest), but for the next iteration, I’ll be using my serger.  I feel like it would just give a better result and might even make some of the seams easier to sew.

I love the end result; in about two hours I had a cute, basic t-shirt that fit my dog perfectly.  The pattern size lined up perfectly with his actual measurements, and the neck didn’t gape (an issue I’ve had with past dog t-shirts I’ve tried to make).  I’ll definitely make this one again.