March 30, 2014

Enough Creating My Own Stumbling Blocks

I have always looked at the pre-smocked/shirred fabric and thought it would be pretty easy to make a dress.  Mostly I look at the little girl's fabric, but I hate that it is all character prints and I don't want my child to be a walking advertisement for Disney, at least before she is asking for it.  

I also always say that I am not a great sewer/seamstress.  The truth really, but I know that when there is something I want do try enough, I usually can figure it out with some ingenuity, and the help of some online tutorials.    So, yesterday when I went to Joann's and found that the things I needed were already on sale and I still had two 50% off coupons, I took a look around for a project.  I saw this fabric and liked it.  They only have a couple options in pre-smocked, and they are usually a little too busy for me, but this one was pretty.  And it was the right length.  

I am in need of a maternity dress and I hate the idea of spending $80 or more on a dress I won't wear for that long.  It is also impossible to find a maternity dress that goes below the knee.  Everything I have tried on or looked at online is above the knee.  So, this was the solution.  Make my own.  I brought the material to the counter to get it cut and made a generrous estimate of how much material I would need.  As usual, she asked me what I was making and I told her I was hoping it would work for maternity.  She replied that her daughter had made several and loved them because they are so comfortable.  That made me even more excited to give it a try.  Comfortable when you are pregnant is hard to come by and all that much more valuable.

I thought I knew what to do, but I took a look online to make sure I didn't cut the material wrong without realizing it and ruin my purchase.  I found a lot of tutorials for smocking/shirring yourself and I kicked myself for not thinking of that sooner, but I am not sure I am up for trying that just yet.  Maybe on the next dress.  Turns out it really is as easy as it seemed.  Hem the bottom to the desired length.   Mine was already about right, so I just turned it under and hemmed it.  Then I took the material, wrapped it around me and got a measurement of how much material I needed.  I ended up with about an extra 3/4 of a yard and again wished I had known I was going to do this project before going to the store and had measured.  Would have saved me a bit of money.  Then I sewed the seam for the back.  I tried it on and realized that because the top material is really stretchy, if I didn't want it falling off or gaping in the front, I needed to downsize.  Easy enough to do, just taking a few inches off and sew another seam.  

Dress done really unless you want straps as I did.  I took some black ribbon and held it up on the dress where I wanted the straps and pinned it in. Here is actually where it got tricky.  I didn't have someone to pin the back of the straps on because everyone was napping, including my sick at the time husband.  So I took a look at the back and saw about where they needed to go and made a guess.  Once I had it sewn and tried it on, I needed to raise the back a little to make up for my now showing a bit belly, but that adjustment was easy enough to make.  And now done.

But wait, not done quite yet.  I like belts and I thought this one could use one.  So I went looking for materials for that.  I found some pretty headband lace, but it needed something stiffer behind it so it didn't turn into a rope around my waist.  So I found some gathered black stretchy belt material.  Next up a clasp.  It was not very pretty, just a utilitarian metal clasp. 
So I went looking for something pretty to put over it and I found this lovely little flower.  It has an alligator clasp on the back of it, so I could just attach it right over the material and it fits perfectly over the clasp.  That way if I ever want to re-purpose it, I can just take it off.

The tricky part came with sewing the two bands together.  The pink headband stuff had a lot more stretch to it and I wanted to make sure it stayed centered on the black, so it needed to be sewn down.   I didn't want the belt to lose its stretch, so I was in a quandary.  What I finally decided to do was to sew it along the edges on either side, but in order to do that it needed to be stretched out  because I didn't have any elastic thread and, as we saw earlier with smocking my own material, I am not quite ready to work with that just yet.  So I stretched out the pink over the black and pinned and pinned and pinned.  Then I had to hold it out stretched to go through the machine and make sure the material went through just right to catch the edge of the pink in the seam.  I sewed down the one end into the clasp and could then start at that end and hold it stretched to sew the rest.  I will not lie. It was tricky, but in the end I think it turned out nicely.  I was happy I had something to cover the clasp though because I used black thread instead of switching to pink and as you can tell, I had a hard time keeping the stretchy material straight so close to the clasp going under the foot of the machine.  Oh well, that is what that pretty flower is for, right?  The belt did lose a tiny bit of stretch, but not much.  I am satisfied with the outcome.

I have a black shrug that I will pair with it.  I spent about $50 dollars on the dress and belt altogether. (Yes that smocked material is expensive even half off, but I would have saved quite a bit if I had measured before going to buy it.)  In the end, less that a dress bought from the store that I would have inevitable had to have altered anyway in order for it to fit right or be long enough. And it wouldn't be nearly as comfortable as this one is. Let me tell you, this dress is comfy!  I love how comfortable it is.  I will have to iron it, and that is its one downfall.  Maybe next time I will get a broomstick fabric and try my own smocking. :)  Then there won't be any ironing.

So, now I can say I have sewn my own dress.  I don't have to tell anyone that it was the easiest dress on earth to sew, right?  But I am pretty proud of that belt.  I figured that one out on my own.  And that brings me to my 'enough' statement.  I stop myself sometimes from doing things because I am afraid I will fail.   I create my own stumbling blocks when, if I just went for it, a lot of times I would do just fine.  I ran into this last year when I finally decided it was time to finish school.  I had a few panic attacks in the first couple of weeks because I was afraid of doing something new.  I didn't know how online classes worked and I was panicked that I would miss something or not be dedicated enough.  Turns out, I am really good at online school.  I love having the freedom to learn when it is convenient to me and not on a class schedule.  So enough stopping myself from doing something new and maybe intimidating.  Yes, it would have been a bit of money down the drain if I had made a mess of the dress, but I still would have learned something from doing it.   If there is something I want to try, I am just going to do it.  Enough being my own roadblock.

March 05, 2014

Complain, complain, complain!

This is what my day looks like today.  I got a load of laundry hung up and another running, but that was the extent of my energy today.  The dishes just aren't going to make it, which means hopefully we have finger food for dinner because we are out of clean silverware.  Ugh.

So, the last several weeks I have been dealing with weakness in my muscles.  I am not tired, but my muscles will just give out. Some days worse than others.  On the worst days, I can barely keep my arms up long enough to do my hair.  On my better days I can get a few things done around the house and hold my kids.  And then there are the shaky days.  Out of the blue, my muscles will start to tremble (like they do if you hyperventilate and start to shake), and it will go on for sometimes a half hour.  I am not hyperventilating or doing anything that would cause it.  I can just be sitting talking to a friend and all of a sudden I am trembling and can't stop it.   I have never experienced this before in any other pregnancy, so when they told me it was just the pregnancy and to take it easy, rest as needed, that didn't cut it for me.  I have been taking metformin this time around because I now have insulin resistance from PCOS,. One of the side effects of the metformin can be weakness, so I went off it for a while to see.  It didn't make a difference, so I will probably go back on it.  And it leaves me no closer to an answer.  I stopped working out for a couple weeks thinking maybe I had just been doing too much, but that didn't help either.

They have run all the obvious tests.  My blood sugar is fine, blood pressure is normal, iron is normal.  He asked me if I had any family history of muscular type illnesses, but I couldn't think of any.  So they are back to thinking it just pregnancy...

It is so frustrating to feel my muscles turn to jello after getting only partway through a project.  It is horrible not to be able to carry my daughter for any length of time because I am afraid my arms will give out and I will drop her.   I am just a ball of complaints today.

One bright spot in all my complaints though is this. I got to hear the baby's heartbeat today.  Not only was that cool, but it was really cool to see how excited Gabe got to hear it.  He was disappointed that they couldn't get a good look at the baby on the ultrasound, but once they found the heartbeat, he was jumping up and down, talking a mile a minute about it to anyone who would listen.  Why doesn't he move as fast as he can talk sometimes? lol

Anyway, whine finished.  If anyone has experienced this or knows someone who has and can shed some light on it, I would appreciate it.  We just don't know what else it could be.