Sunday, April 13, 2008

Making room for one more

Last year I vowed not to buy any new clothing, in an effort to be less consumptive and more frugal. My first purchase after my year of living frugally: a bunch of end-of-season maternity clothes from Target, which were so deeply discounted I could not have gotten the same number of outfits for less money at a thrift store or even if I made them myself.

But now with a baby on the way it's not enough just to stop adding to the things in our house. Our first baby's things will have to be kept for #2, so there's no downsizing potential there. But there's plenty of adult stuff that can go. So, new resolution: to get rid of one box of stuff each week until the baby arrives. 17 weeks to go. Here's my first box, which I posted on Freecycle last week:

A bunch of cookbooks and miscellaneous other books. It's irrationally hard for me to part with books, even ones I haven't cracked open in decades. When I was growing up, going the public library was the highlight of my week. Now as the mother to a little almost-reader, I really miss my beloved books that were passed onto my younger cousins when I outgrew them: all the Little Bear books for early readers, Harry the Dirty Dog, E.B. White's children's novels. I have a wonderful surrogate grandma who always gave the best, most thoughtful gifts (and still does).

One week later: the cookbooks were spoken for almost immediately. The rest are going to our local library for their book sale (if they'll take them) or to the Salvation Army which is just a few blocks down the street.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Best maternity pants pattern

Kwik Sew 3324, modified.
These fit way better than my underbelly-band jeans from Motherhood maternity (which also happened to cost 5x as much). The pattern is for pull-on maternity pants/cropped/shorts with self-lined front and back panels from ribbing, with elastic (1-2" wide) stitched to the lining side. The instructions were very straightforward, and it was super fast and easy to make. (One criticism about the instructions: they have you stitch the inner and outer leg seams first, then put one leg (they're now tubes) in the other to stitch the crotch seam. It's easier to stitch just the inner leg seams first, then the crotch seam, and then outer leg seams.)

Fabric used: a somewhat loosely-woven denim + 2-way stretch cotton-lycra + 2"-wide non-roll elastic (all from JoAnn's).

I made size XS (my normal size in patterns for bottoms is 10-hips, 12-waist), with 3 modifications:
1. Added vertical length to the stretch panels
2. Didn't stitch down the elastic (made a casing for it instead)
3. Redrew the rear crotch curve to make it more L-shaped.
Details below.

mod#1. I didn't like the waistband sitting at my "waist" (now the widest part of my torso) because every time I got into/out of the car or bent over to pick something up, the elastic would naturally slide downward (to a narrower part of my body), and so I was constantly having to hitch it back up. At 4.5 months, I expected the problem to get worse not better, so I took out the original ribbing waist panels and cut new panels from 4-way stretch cotton/lycra (remainders of a T-shirt dress); added 1" to the finished vertical length (or "height"?) so that the elastic waistband would ride above not at my belly; and used the XS measurement for the elastic instead of the S measurement to ensure that it would be snug. Next time I would probably add another 1-2" to the vertical length of the panels (you can see from the photo, taken 2 weeks later, that it won't be an over-belly waistband for much longer) and add ~1/2" to the vertical hip length on the pants pieces.

mod#2. I didn't stitch the elastic to the stretch panel as instructed. Stitching it down didn't make sense to me, because as your belly gets bigger the back side of your waist stays the same, so you'll need relatively more & more of the elastic to be in the front. It was easy to make a casing by stitching through both layers of the panel.

mod#3. I redrew the back crotch curve on the pattern to approximate the hotpatterns crotch curve. This worked out surprisingly well for my flat-ish butt and I definitely want to try this on some "real" pants eventually.

This is essentially the review I posted on patternreview.com, but those reviews aren't viewable after a few months unless you're a paying member. I guess the site doesn't get enough profit from all the ads and whatnot despite the fact that the main content (pattern reviews & advice) is provided entirely for free (by the members).

Does this dress make me look pregnant?

Simplicity 3874.
I don't really understand the current trend of tops and dresses that not only obscure your waist but in fact make it look bigger than it is. What kind of body shape looks good in this style? Why would someone who's not pregnant want to wear maternity clothes?

Yet, somehow, they do seem to look good on everyone Stacey & Clinton put in them. So I spent $1 on this easy-to-make pattern (hey, it's only $1) on the off chance that this look might camouflage my less-than-flat abdomen without making me appear either pregnant or as though I was trying to hide a pregnancy.
Then, right after Thanksgiving, I found out I was pregnant. At my age, according to one website, the odds of this happening without medical intervention are so low as to be considered incalculable. So I was quite surprised, but happily so, and also very relieved that I hadn't just eaten too much turkey and stuffing to fit into my clothes. And so I'm definitely OK with looking pregnant in this dress. I just wish I didn't look so FAT in it.