Monday, June 28, 2010

Cartoonist Baby (aka Baby Z) is here!

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

Cartoonist Baby sleeps through her family portrait

As you may have guessed from my sudden radio silence, Cartoonist Baby is finally here... and she is AMAZING! Masheka and I are so in love with our little girl, and just in awe of her. We've been home with Baby Z (her first initial) for a few days now, and in between nursing sessions, naps and diapering we pretty much just hold her and talk to her and stare at her in happy shock. I mean, really--look at this face!

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

Now, when she finally decided to arrive, she certainly took her sweet baby time. I was in labor for FIVE DAYS before she deigned to make her appearance--I kid you not. I remember being scared by one of the videos I saw in my childbirth class about a woman who was in labor 48 hours, but our instructor assured us that was really, really rare. Ha! By hour 60 I was wishing to have that woman's labor. Though the sleep deprivation was certainly good preparation for around-the-clock nursing...

Here we are in the hospital recovery room the day after she was born:

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

Sadly, due to my extremely long labor, I didn't get to use the birth center I was hoping for, but whatever. My midwives were amazing and the setting didn't really matter in the end--the only real bummer was that delivering in Labor & Delivery meant Masheka couldn't stay with me and baby overnight at the hospital, but he was there from 8:30 a.m. til 10:30 p.m. until we checked out.

By the way, Masheka is the sweetest and most devoted dad ever, in my totally unbiased opinion. He's pretty much doing everything except for nursing her, which is of course my full-time job these days--sometimes every hour!

Staring at her Daddy:

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

Masheka and I dressing her for her trip home:

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

All dressed!

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

Most of the clothes I've sewn or knit for her are still way too big, but here she is in her pink hand-dyed Fool-Proof Baby Hat:

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

And here's a middle-of-the-night diaper change photo of her in her Green Goblin diaper soaker, which is still a bit on the big side:

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

And here she is checking out the Brooklyn view in one of the cloth diapers her Grandmommy Beryl made for her:

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

Here's the full Flickr gallery.

And with that, I'm off to cuddle Baby Z and stare at her some more.

Baby Z (aka Cartoonist Baby), the Early Days!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

40 weeks, 1 day casual/work outfit

40 weeks, 1 day pregnant

I'm wearing this outfit around the house today. But although I'm now on maternity leave, it's probably best classified as a work outfit, as I wore it to the office pretty frequently in my third trimester.

  • Blue plastic necklace: Cheapo costume jewelry. Cost: $6. Cost per wear $0.05
  • Geometric-print Talbot's wrap dress: Thrifted. Cost : $4. Cost per wear: $0.40.
  • Brown flats: Privo by Clarks. Cost: $80. Cost per wear: $0.80.

Total Cost: $89.

Total Cost Per Wear (so far): $1.25.

I have to admit I was surprised to find myself buying a Talbot's dress, even second-hand--they seemed to be a lot more fashion-forward lately. As you can maybe tell from how it rides up in front, it's not actually a maternity dress, but it's plenty stretchy enough to work as one, and should be good for nursing as well. Oh how I love a surplice neckline (and a geometric print)... I can't wait to sew some post-pregnancy!

Belly-showing side view:

40 weeks, 1 day pregnant

Ok, off for an exhausted pregnant lady nap. Maybe Cartoonist Baby will see fit to show up in time for Father's Day?

P.S. I am quite gratified to report that I have made it through the past three months without A SINGLE PAIR OF PANTS. For real. All my maternity pants (except for one pair of maternity jeans and one pair of maternity leggings) stopped fitting in March, but with the warm weather on its way, I bravely soldiered on in dresses and skirts alone with no trouble whatsoever.

Friday, June 18, 2010

D-Day is here!

Red and gray polkadot baby ensemble

Come on out so you can wear all your cute outfits, Cartoonist Baby!

Or Z-Day, rather (Cartoonist Baby's name starts with the letter Z, so that's what Masheka and I have been calling it).

After all the scares we had last month, and my skepticism over the ultrasound-established date of June 18 (my own calculations said June 9) I really never thought I'd make it to my actual official due date, but here I am!

The above is an outfit I made for Cartoonist Baby back in Feburary--it's the "Piparminttu" jersey pinafore dress and "Anis" jersey pants from the 01/2010 issue of Ottobre Design magazine (which I recently subscribed to). Both are in size 62 cm (about 3-6 months). I omitted the button placket trim detail as I thought it was cuter without.

The polkadot material is cotton jersey repurposed from a knit top that didn't fit me...

Shirt about to be cut up for the baby dress!

... and the red cotton lycra is from Western Fabrics. The gray ribbing is from (See my PatternReview reviews of the dress and pants for exciting details on how I initially sewed the pants together upside down).

Anyway, my midwife ordered me to stop working as of today, so I am now officially on my 12-week maternity leave. So the sooner she comes, the more time I get at home with her. NO PRESSURE, right?

Oh, and I only have until next Thursday (when I'll be 40 weeks and 6 days) to be allowed to give birth at the fabulous in-hospital birthing center before I get "risked out" and have to use regular Labor & Delivery upstairs. Which would be a bummer, since the birth center has private hotel-like rooms with nice big tubs, birthing balls, and regular double beds, Masheka would be allowed to stay with me and baby afterwards, and there is a nice 24-hour waiting room for close family. In L&D it is just regular hospital-style, no eating or drinking except for ice chips, NO WAITING ROOM AT ALL, and afterwards I'd be recovering for two days in a shared room and Masheka would have to sleep at home. Boo to that.

Still, the very latest I'd be allowed to go without induction is 42 weeks. So I'm still feeling impatient, but a little more calm and relaxed--she'll be here soon, somehow!

Oh, and here's a pants-only view:

Red baby pants! (Ottobre Design  "Anis" jersey pants)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Orange Birthday Peep Toes!

So remember how Cartoonist Husband told me I shouldn't buy myself shoes or clothes with my 30th birthday money--that books or DVDs would be a more fun gift?

Apparently that was a classic Masheka fake-out (he's quite poker-faced and I'm quite gullible). So feast your eyes on these retro peep-toed beauties that he got me, a pair of lovely yet comfortable orange Tsubo Erebus heels that I'd been coveting ever since I first read about the brand on Already Pretty. I refuse to wear pointy toes, spiky heels or any shoe that can't actually be walked in (I'm a car-less Brooklynite, remember), so I get REALLY excited when I find heels that are comfortable, sturdy AND sexy.

Here they are in action--sort of. I can't actually wear even the comfiest heels these days (I can barely walk in sneakers or my comfy Privo by Clarks flats at this point), but I just had to play dress-up. The top is of course my heavily modified Jalie 2005, and the maternity skirt is a $2 thrift find.

Orange Birthday Peeptoe Heels (39.5 weeks pregnant)

Orange Birthday Peeptoe Heels (39.5 weeks pregnant)

I can't wait to wear these post-pregnancy! I haven't talked much about shoes here, but I adore a colorful comfy retro heel! Two of my other favorites...

My red Camper Mary Janes (shown here at 25 weeks pregnant with my red BurdaStyle maternity-modified "Melissa" skirt):

BurdaStyle "Melissa" High-Waisted Knit Skirt--Red Maternity Version Side View

I got these at Soula in Brooklyn back in February (when I could still wear heels!), but I believe they're still available. Camper calls them the "Kim" pump, but I prefer to think of them as my ruby slippers. Here's a product shot:

My chartreuse Gentle Soles (or Souls?) heels, shown here with a Liz Lange by Target dress at 23 weeks pregnant:

23 weeks pregnant!

I got these at least three or four years ago (also at Soula) and I don't think they're the same brand as the Gentle Souls/Soles sold by Kenneth Cole--I think they were imported from somewhere in Europe but I haven't seen them in any stores in a very long time. I've walked miles in them and they are fabulous.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what I got myself for my birthday -- I did indeed order the walking foot for my Viking (hasn't arrived yet), Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s and a dystopian science fiction novel by Nnedi Okorafor called Who Fears Death. (I don't know that I've mentioned it, but I am a HUGE speculative fiction nerd, in literature, television shows AND film--do NOT get me started, I am obsessed).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Need Closure(s)--the Baby-Safe Kind

February Baby Sweater on Two Needles in Kettle-Dyed Pink

Ladies and gentlemen, I am direly in need of closure--the baby-safe kind. Call me a paranoid mom-to-be, but I don't feel safe/comfortable putting buttons or drawstrings on baby garments, especially not after taking my Infant CPR/First Aid class.

So I'm at a loss with how to finish the two cardigans I've knitted for Cartoonist Baby. Both are fabulous Elizabeth Zimmerman patterns from a less button-phobic era, and on both I ignored the directions about adding buttonholes.

The above is Exhibit A...

  • Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's February Baby Sweater on Two Needles from Knitter's Almanac, made with some yarn I kettle-dyed a few years back. The yoke and borders are simple garter-stitch, and the lace pattern is a simple 7-stitch repeat. It's knit almost all in one piece--the only seams are under the arms.
  • Sizing: The pattern sizing depends on gauge--it came out a bit on the larger size, I'm thinking about 9-12 months.
  • Yarn/Needles/Notions: I used 1.5 balls of Knit Picks Swish Worsted Bare that I kettle-dyed pink a few years ago with size 4 circular needles (I'm a loose knitter).
  • Modifications: None. Unless you count all the mistakes I made in the lace pattern that I fixed as I went along (or the fact that I reknit the first few rows three times before getting a hang of said lace pattern).
  • Difficulty Level?: It's a simple pattern, but the instructions are so pithy that I had to do extensive internet forum searching to interpret them, especially when it came to the sleeves and underarms.
  • Here's a link to all the details on Ravelry (I've made it public so you can see it even if you're not a member).

Here's a back view:

February Baby Sweater on Two Needles in Kettle-Dyed Pink

And for Exhibit B...

Orange & Blue Baby Surprise Jacket -- Front

Orange & Blue Baby Surprise Jacket -- Back
  • Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket from Knitting Workshop, It's all one piece knit in garter stitch.
  • Sizing: The pattern sizing depends on gauge--similar to the lacy cardigan, I'd say mine is about 9-12 months.
  • Yarn/Needles/Notions: I used 2.5 skeins of Knit Picks Swish Worsted Allspice and 1 in Marine Heather. (Same washable wool as the lacy cardigan).
  • Modifications: None. Except for omitting the buttonholes.
  • Difficulty Level?: It's a simple pattern, but it helps to use a row-keeper to keep track of where you are.
  • Ravelry link with all the details.

So: closures. I always put snaps on sewn baby garments, with interfacing underneath to stabilize the area. But I really haven't seen many baby SWEATERS with snaps--I don't know that they'd work with loose hand-knit fabric. Maybe I could sew some grosgrain ribbon inside the button bands to stabilize them?

Or what about some kind of hook and eye treatment or some kind of frog closure... just one or two largish ones to keep the cardigans from falling off?

Any suggestions appreciated!

P.S. I actually knit up a little baby hat (the "Fool-Proof Baby Hat" from Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn) with the remainder of the yarn from the lacy baby cardigan... I figured Cartoonist Baby could wear home from the hospital.

Too-Small Fool-Proof Baby Hat in Kettle-Dyed Pink

...but it turned out preemie-sized, and since I'm told Cartoonist Baby was already 6 1/2 lbs at 35 weeks along, I'm going to rip out and reknit a newborn/small size. Witness:

Too-Small Fool-Proof Baby Hat in Kettle-Dyed Pink

P.P.S. Oh, and obviously--yes, still pregnant. My official due date is Friday but my original date was last Wednesday... I can't say that I have a patient bone in my extremely pregnant body at this point, either. I'm well aware that every pregnancy is different and due dates are hardly deadlines, but I want my baby NOW!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

39 Weeks Pregnant Casual Outfit

The one upside to STILL being terribly, uncomfortably pregnant is that I am STILL getting tons of mileage out of all the maternity pieces I sewed throughout my pregnancy! For example, here's what I'm wearing today... for a busy day of lying on the couch knitting a baby sweater and MAYBE waddling around my building for a one or two-block walk if I can manage it.

39 weeks pregnant!
  • Turquoise necklace: handmade birthday gift by my friend M├írta Fodor. Cost: free
  • Purple maternity top: my maternity modification of the Burda magazine 02-2010-122 knit top, made back in February (details here). Cost (fabric and magazine): $15. Cost per wear: $0.75.
  • Spiral-print knit skirt: Made it myself, it's an unmodified Kwik Sew 3513 View B (details here). Cost (fabric and pattern): $10.50. Cost per wear: $0.50
  • Black Mary Jane flats: Privo by Clarks. Cost: $80. Cost per wear: $0.80.

Total Cost: $105.50.

Total Cost Per Wear (so far): $2.05.

The skirt still fits great. The top fits but in retrospect I should have planned better for my expanding bosom--the empire seam under the bust is not really under the bust anymore. I did do quite a bit of FBA originally, but it just needed more length, I think. Whatever!

More views:

39 weeks pregnant!

39 weeks pregnant!

And as a comparison, here's how pregnant I was when I originally sewed these pieces...

Original skirt photo, from 28 weeks pregnant:

Spiral Skirt Side View-28 weeks pregnant!

Original purple top photo, from 24 weeks:

24 Weeks Pregnant--Burda 02-2010-122 Knit Top in Purple, Twin-Stitched Hem Detail

Come on Cartoonist Baby... I don't want to be taking 40-week pictures next weekend!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Walking Foot: Worth it or Not?

Yep, still here, still pregnant (38.5 weeks!). Still not sewing, but looking forward to getting back to sewing at some point.

As I mentioned, it was my 30th birthday last week, and I got a little birthday money. I put most of it in the Cartoonist Baby fund (she'll be my REAL present!), but I was considering using some to buy a walking foot for my Viking Platinum 730.

I hear walking feet (aka dual feed feet) are ideal for sewing multiple layers, knits, and tricky lingerie fabrics. But they're so much pricier than other types of Viking feet I've hesitated to get one. And so I have a question: do you have a walking foot for your machine, and if so, how often do you use it? Was it worth the cost?

I realize I have quite the presser foot collection--I've got an invisible zipper foot, an edge-stitching foot, a top-stitching foot, a 1/4 seam guide foot, a flat-felling foot (not that I've ever done such a thing, but I mean to, really), a narrow-hem foot... and more. For my serger I have a piping foot and an elastic guide foot (though the latter hasn't worked so well as just holding the elastic with my hands). So what do you say? Should a walking foot be among them?

Alternatively I was thinking of getting yet another fabulous sewing or vintage style reference book for my over-stuffed library (such as Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s or Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers). But not fabric. I have WAAAAAAAAAAY too much fabric.

Or I could buying a cute nursing dress or some flats--but Cartoonist Husband finds it weird that I would consider clothing or shoes a fun gift (he prefers books and DVDs). Not that he didn't think buying myself a sewing machine accessory was odd, too...

P.S. Update from 2013: I DID get a walking foot for my Viking and it is awesome for stripe matching and sewing knits, even though pricey. If you're interested, contact you sewing machine dealer (that's what I did) OR you can search to see if you can find your walking foot here—I see basic feet for Singers and Brothers, etc.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

FO: Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan + Happy 30th Birthday to Me!

Teal Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan remix (37 weeks pregnant)

Sewing is still my favorite craft activity by far, but knitting wins hands down in the "activities appropriate for extremely tired pregnant ladies who need to keep their swollen ankles up on pillows all the time" department.

This one's from the UFO pile--I started knitting it in June 2008, but had to put it down in September 2008 when it was 90% complete due to repetitive stress issues in my wrists. A few months ago I dug it out and started working on finishing it bit by bit, an hour or two a week. I patiently knit up the button bands, seamed the shoulders, wove in the ends... and last night, I attached the buttons.

Of course, it's not actually a maternity sweater, so it should fit quite a bit better when I don't have a 37-weeks-pregnant belly!

  • Pattern: Pam Allen's Flutter Sleeve Cardigan from the Spring 2008 issue of Interweave Knits. The flutter sleeves are knit as one with the body pieces. It's mostly stockinette, with a seed stitch border and ribbing at the waist to create shaping.
  • Sizing: I like negative ease, so I made the smallest size--36" finished bust. I had a 38" bust at the time (it's 42" at the moment--thanks pregnancy hormones!) I didn't do any horizontal FBA action, but I did add vertical length over the front bust area with short rows--at least 1.5" if I recall.
  • Yarn/Needles/Notions: I used 4.5 balls of Classic Elite Classic Silk Yarn (cotton/silk/nylon blend) in a teal color (color# 6949) with circular needles size 2.5, 4 and 5. The buttons are from M&J. Although this yarn is wonderfully soft, I think I'm through with cotton and/or silk blends--they just don't have enough give for my liking. I'll stick to wool and alpaca in future.
  • Modifications: Besides adding short rows, I omitted the cuff/tab detail at the sleeve ends, and just did some more seed stitch.
  • Here's a link to all the details on Ravelry (I've made it public so you can see it even if you're not a member).

I'm worried that I placed the buttons too low and overdid the short row FBA. I'll wait until the pregnant belly is mostly gone to be sure, but I have a suspicion that there needs to be a third button to fix the gaposis I've got going on over the bust--not that I have a clue as to how to add a buttonhole on a finished knit object!

Button detail:

Teal Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan Button Band Detail

Closer-in front view:

Finished: My Teal Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan

Back view:

Teal Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan Back View

Does it need a third button? Hmmm...

Teal Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan--should I add a third button?

Side view:

Teal Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan Side View

Flat views:

Teal Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan Flat View, FrontTeal Flutter-Sleeve Cardigan Flat View, Back

Oh, in case you're wondering what's with the new backdrop--that's Cartoonist Baby's room/my parents's room (my mom is going to stay with us to take care of Cartoonist Baby when I go back to work) in progress.

Masheka painted it a beautiful shade of (low-VOC) "Sweet Butter" yellow, and we're working on adding art to the walls and setting up furniture, etc. Cartoonist Baby is going to sleep in a cosleeper next to our bed for at least 4 or 5 months, so we still have some time to get it all together. Here's a picture of one corner so far:

Cartoonist Baby's room in progress

The rocking chair is the same chair my mom rocked me in when I was a baby--she just refinished and recovered it. The crib is IKEA's Gulliver crib in a wood finish (don't worry--we know there should be no stuffed animals or quilts in a crib when the baby is sleeping in it, they're just on display for now.) My amazing mom sewed the quilt and the Mei Tai style baby carriers hanging on the door.

Finally... I turned 30 today. I thought it would feel like a bigger deal than it did, but I'm way more focused on another upcoming birth day!

P.S. Cartoonist Baby is getting another cardigan too, as I mentioned before, Elizabeth Zimmerman's February Baby Sweater on Two Needles from Knitter's Almanac, made with some yarn I kettle-dyed a few years back. But I'm going slow to be careful with my wrists:

Hand-dyed pink February Baby Sweater in Progress