Saturday, October 26, 2013

Shopping in my house and more sewing projects

All of the activities before which I thought were "nesting"? Yeah, that's been nothing compared to the overwhelming need to get things done and cleaned and ready which seized me at the end of this week. In part, I think, it's because I finally finished the book series I was reading. I wanted to get that done before Baby's arrival because, while I love the books, they wouldn't have been fun to read out loud. And I plan to do a lot of reading aloud to her. Such a list of good books to read aloud that I've got in my head! It starts with "Pride and Prejudice". (I figure we'll get into board books a little later on, when she's more active than a potato.)
It is, of course, starting to get dark around here. The piss-poor way this house was set up, with the biggest windows on the North side, doesn't help. Even during the weekends, in the daylight, I would find myself wanting a bit more light to read by. But I didn't want to turn on the power-sucking, huge overhead lights.
(I hate these lights.) I've been thinking for a few weeks that we really should get a lamp for the living room so that we don't have to depend on those horrible overhead lights. I thought that I'd look at Value Village the next time we went (which we'll need to do for our Halloween costumes) and then realized that there was a perfectly good lamp in our bedroom which we almost never use. It's small, and it's one of those ones with a clamp to hold it onto something. It's been clamped to Shane's desk everywhere he's lived since before I met him. I pulled it off, then looked in it and realized that most of the reason it gets used so rarely is because it's got a blacklight in it. So I went searching in one of the hall closets for our CFL lightbulbs and what did I find? A different clampy lamp. One that looks a bit nicer and is a little larger, far more suited to the living room and my needs out there. I didn't even know we had this lamp, and how bad is that?
Needless to say, I put the other lamp back and used the one I'd found in the hall closet instead. Now I have a decent-looking and comfortable place to read. If I need to put my feet up, I use the exercise ball. Frequently, the cat jumps into my lap and enjoys the quiet reading time with me.
My horror at not even realizing we had this lamp lead me to clean out that closet a bit more. I realized that in the past I've looked through the upper cabinets but there are lower cabinets which I've mostly left alone, thinking that I knew what was in them. Clearly I do not. And it turned out to be a bit of a gold mine, mostly in terms of things that we can get rid of. Some holiday decorations which were given to us, and which we've never actually used, filled up half a bag.
What really surprised me, though, was a thing whose origins I don't know, and I can't even guess at what it once was. It was a big white sheet of waterproof material, torn in several places, and with definite corners and a long zipper. ???? It's about the size of a full-size sheet, but I don't know what it is. I suspect it's something from our old roommate, and I'm probably the one who kept it thinking that it would be useful "someday". That day has come. :) I've been needing some waterproof material for some of the baby projects I wanted to get done, and this saves me from buying it. What a fortuitous find! Sometimes, my packrat tendencies do pay off.
Through one thing and another, I ended up having an entire free Friday because I didn't have to work. Shane has class on Thursday nights until 9:00, so I had an entire evening to myself, with nothing planned. I spent half an hour trying to read but my mind kept wandering to the projects I wanted to get done. I'd planned to do them the next day, on my day off, then realized that it was silly to push them off for no good reason. On went "Ghostbusters", out came the serger and all of my materials: two old sheets, the waterproof material, two pillowcases, and a cloth drawstring bag which I found in the closet with all of the sheets and realized was perfect for re-use. It used to hold a set of sheets, but no more.
If you're wondering where I got all of these old sheets and useless pillowcases and such (perfectly reasonable), wonder no longer. Some were left by our old roommate, and some were given to us by my in-laws, and due to their age the fitted sheet has since died. (By that I mean, Shane managed to put giant holes in them.) The top sheets were still just fine, though, because Shane hates them so they end up getting pushed to the foot of the bed, crumpled rather than torn. The pillowcases...well, some of those were given to us, and some we found in the couch after we got it. I have no idea what they were doing in there, but whatever. They've come in handy. Since the fabric for all of these thigns was still good, and I always have grand plans for projects I want to do, I saved them. It wasn't until I got the serger last Thanksgiving, however, that I really had the means with which to do anything. So now, out they all came to finally become useful rather than simply taking up space.
The first thing I wanted to do was to make some wetbags for holding dirty diapers. Because of the dog, we need to keep these off the floor, in some sort of container that will both cut down on smell and be hard for the dog to get into if she does get ahold of it. The pillowcases and the waterproof material were what I used. Cutting the material was by far the hardest part, both because the only space I have to use is the floor, and because my little "helper" kept swiping at my hands when I tried to cut the waterproof material. (His fort.)
So be kind when you see the finished projects. I'm still a very novice sewer, and I didn't have the best working conditions. Also, I used black thread on everything, no matter the color, because the serger is such a pain in the ass to change thread that I didn't even bother. I don't think any of it looks bad, though, so if you do you can keep your mouth shut. Overall, what matters the most to me is simply that I got these things done.

For the wetbags, I cut out waterproof material in the size and shape of the pillowcases, then sewed three edges so that they became, essentially, waterproof pillowcases. Then came the hard part, sewing the waterproof material into the pillowcases. The first one I did looks worse by far, but really only from the inside.
There's a bit of puckering because the waterproof material wasn't quite as wide as the pillowcase. (Thanks cat.) But since this is to hold dirty diapers, who cares? When I was out and about on Friday, I stopped at the craft store to buy a couple of zippers and sewed those into the tops of the wetbags.
I now have two wetbags which can be thrown into the washing machine along with the dirty diapers. Woo! The only thing I have left to do is to figure out how I want to keep them off the floor. I'm thinking I should do something to hang them in the closet, but I'm not certain what the best way to accomplish that is yet. I'll figure something out, and most likely I'll find whatever I need for that project around the house. :)
Remember the small drawstring bag I mentioned? That got made into a small wetbag as well, for in the diaper bag whenever we go out and about. By the time I did it, I was getting much better about sewing in the round. So it actually turned out quite well. From the outside you can't even tell that it's anything other than a small-ish drawstring jersey bag.

I've been wanting to make some curtains for our closet, since that will be Baby's "room" for the first few months. Just something light so that we don't have to worry as much about turning a light on in the bedroom when she's sleeping, but which also won't really be much of a barrier so that sound and air will travel freely. I knew exactly what sheet I wanted to use for this project, too. An old white topsheet was perfect. Basically all I had to do was cut it up the middle, serge the sides and bottom (both sides so that they would match, and the bottom because it was way too long) and then flipped the top down to make a tube through which to slide the curtain rod. (Also bought at the craft store--I spent a grand total of $16, and I got a set of pins as well.) I hung them up using sticky hooks, so they won't damage anything in our apartment. Overall, I'd say it looks pretty nice.

My final, and most ambitious project, was to make a nightgown for myself. Shane thinks it's silly, but I wanted something in which would be really easy to nurse. At the very least, when we have family visiting or go visiting other places, I'll need something that I'll be comfortable in. (I usually sleep either, um, naked, or wearing a big old t-shirt.) Anyway, I had a grand design in my head and thought that it wouldn't be too hard. And I was right! The hardest parts were simply that I don't have a great method of cutting out material, and that jersey is hard material to work with.
Also, I was making this for an approximation of my post-pregnancy body so I had to guess at some things. For a pattern, I cut an old t-shirt (with a number of small holes in it, so it wasn't in donatable condition) and used that to approximate my dimensions. As you can see, I drew on there some pattern ideas for the top using a Sharpie. Mostly, I wanted to be sure I knew where my boobs would be so that I didn't accidentally cut too little fabric.
The belly part was easy, I just put a few gathers in under the empire waist. I put one in at the back, too, (just one) that I think looks rather nice. Overall, the skirt was the easiest part.

Which means that the top is the hardest part. How to get things just right? How to make it look nice, or even decent? My first idea was to have two flaps overlaying each other so that I could just pull one aside at a time, but I didn't like that idea so much. So I did a scoop-neck instead. It's pretty low-cut, but that just means it'll be easier to pull aside for nursing.
I also wasn't sure how to make the edges look so nice. For some things, like the bottom and the armpits, I really don't mind having the serged edges show. But for the neckline? I figure that, at least, should look cute. So I cut out some very long strips of the sheet and braided them together. I'm still in the process of hand-sewing them on. They'll also serve as the straps, since they're sturdier and less prone to stretching than one thin strap of jersey material would be. They'll still be easy to slide off my shoulders, though.

When I showed Shane my project he thought it was rather silly that I felt the need to have a nightgown at all. (Until I reminded him about feeding the baby around friends and family, at least.) Then he said, "Wait, is that a sheet?" I said, "Yeah, would you rather that I had bought fabric for this?" He said, "No, but I still reserve the right to laugh at you." Fair enough.
The nightgown is far from perfect. More than a short glance will show some places where the sewing could have been done better. But, considering my lack of experience with the serger and the fact that this is the most ambitious project I've ever tried, I feel pretty good about it. (I'd post a picture, but I'm still 9 months pregnant so it looks pretty silly on me at the moment.) Maybe I'll try making more nursing clothes for myself? I do still have about half a sheet of material left....

I still need to make some changing pads for diapering Baby, but I have plenty of the waterproof material for that. The only thing I'm not certain about is what else I want to use. Should I just use a layer or two of the flannel, with the waterproof material either under or in between? Or should I get a couple of towels at Value Village and use those? Should I do a different one for the diaper bag, since we might need to change her diaper on a hard surface, or will that not matter too much? I'll have to think about it some more, but quickly since according to my doctor I could go into labor at any time now. (Yay! But my due date isn't for another two weeks, and she also wouldn't be surprised if nothing happens before then. She told me to "just hang on and don't get discouraged.")
I didn't do this yesterday, but I did make more dog booties this year. I mostly used materials I had leftover from last year, like the velcro, elastic, and canvas (so much of that left). Since I didn't have any fleece for the insides, though, I used some more bits of the flannel sheet which I'd cut up for baby wipes. The purpose isn't really to pad her feet, but to keep them from getting frostbitten in the cold, so the flannel will work well enough. And this year I learned from my mistakes: I used two layers of canvas on the bottoms. Hopefully these will hold together better. I'm always looking for ways to improve the design. One day, perhaps, I'll be able to make some dog booties which last for more than one winter's worth of walks and runs.
If winter ever gets here, that is. Almost Halloween and no snow? Even worse, it was so warm that it was raining for a couple of weeks, even at night. What the hell? It's actually nice to have frosty days once again.

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