Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sew-and-Tell Saturday, March 5, 2016: An Izzy top and a gingham Caroline dress

I modified the Izzy top pattern to be flat, and made the Caroline version of an A-line dress.

For a long time, I avoided sewing because I thought that it took way too long and the end result was something that I didn't really want my child wearing in public. With four kids to parent/teach/feed and a house to keep in somewhat of a decent state of order, I also felt like there wasn't that much time to sew.

And yet.

I had these ideas in my mind, things that I wished that I could make. Or I would find myself gravitating toward higher-end stores, knowing that if I had the money, those would be the clothes I would choose. Vintage-based styles, classic/traditional fabrics that were not neon-colored or laden with cartoon characters.

Now to back up a bit, I wasn't bothered by the choices in children's clothing when I had three boys, because they were easy to shop for: Target Circo - boom, done. $5 shirts and shorts, simple jeans from Old Navy, and hand-me-downs from my sister who shopped at Baby Gap and Hanna Andersson. I somehow managed to inherit a lot of hand-me-downs and credit God for providing us with the clothing and even shoes that we needed for our boys. And truth be told, I wasn't that motivated to sew for them when they were young because they were so wild, and I thought they wouldn't really care about hand-sewn clothes and stuffed animals (I have since come to realize that I was wrong on both counts).

Now fast-forward to our 4th child's ultrasound, where I laid on my back as the technician moved the wand around my stomach. I had brought my husband and sons with me. The boys were busier wiggling in chairs than they were watching the fuzzy black-and-white images of their sibling. I prepared myself for the news I had gotten used to hearing, and was shocked when I found out it was a girl. "Are you sure?" I asked. When I told my sons that they were going to have a sister, they replied, "Can we go get lunch now?"

Something changed. Of course, I would have been fine if it had been a boy, but something in me slowly was allowed to start thinking about girly things again. Maybe I had put my own internal editor on and banned these dreams on my own, while other moms of boys would have still indulged their girly sides.

The strange thing was, even though this was the first girl I was having, somehow we didn't end up with that many clothes for girls, and suddenly, I cared what they looked like. I wanted the dresses, the calicos, the bloomers and more. I was able to find some things at garage sales or thrift stores, but it took lots of time, and the pickings were slim.

Slowly, it occurred to me that maybe God had already provided for me in this area, it was just that I didn't recognize it - I had, after all, received an old Kenmore sewing machine from my mom as she was downsizing, and a huge box of calico and other types of quilting fabric and crocheted lace.

My first effort at making a dress was horrible. But I did manage to make some baby pants and a quilt for my daughter before she arrived. Then, in the whirlwind of newborn-world, I had to set the sewing aside for awhile.

Now things have settled down, and my husband has graciously protected some of my evenings to let me sew, learn, figure things out, scratch my head, and eventually emerge from my room. He is never critical, even when it's obvious that the sleeves are more than just a bit too tight for our chubby toddler. He nods his head when I excitedly show him how I learned how to bind an armhole, or says he doesn't need anything when I ask if we can use some of our Christmas money to buy a serger (and I did save some money for him too :)). He gives me permission to sew when it is hard sometimes to give it to myself.

At first I was more than a little bit frustrated by how much time it took to do things. Ideas in your head do not always translate well to paper. And that gingham fabric that is so cute? Well, it is a tough critic when you don't care about precision and suddenly realize that being slightly off in cutting shows massively.

I'll end it there for now, but wanted to give a context for why I'm sharing this part of my life in the midst of paying off debt. I don't think paying off loans is all about deprival - I do think you should invest in yourself as well in terms of time and even money. When I wake up in the morning after sewing the previous night, I love to go back and see what I made. I hope that you find something that brings joy to your life too.

I stumbled upon the loveliest little British sewing blog this week called Bustle and Sew. I signed up for their newsletter to get some free patterns, and also got a link to one copy of the super sweet magazine they publish. It had charming embroidery patterns as well as softie patterns and even articles on the history of knitting and recipes for tea foods. If you need a good dose of British this week I encourage you to check it out.


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