Under the Big Top

Hello All!  After one big night of rain (and part of the next day too) last weekend, the rains have moved away from the Valley, leaving some very happy plants in their wake.  The Bermuda grass threw out new sprouts, the hibiscus plants returned from the dead with a respectable show of leaves, and the cacti are bright and plump.

For humans, the return to heat and humidity minus clouds is a bit wilting, so Querido and I escaped up north over the weekend and found more rain up there.  He and the fuzzies caught up on their sleep (the wittens in particular have apparently not been getting in their 22 hours a day!), and I caught up on my spinning.  More on that later: right now I’m going to attempt to catch up on my blogging.

Back in the spring, I had grand designs for sewing.  I would fight off the grasping hands of commercial maternity wear, with its concomitant message that the correct identity of a pregnant woman is one of saccharine-sweet joy and perpetual bump-clutching, and sew all my own maternity clothes.  In the words of Edna Mode, “Fight! Win!”

Well.

I underestimated a variety of factors: how long it takes me to sew, how long it takes to read all the badly written and contradictory product reviews for baby stuff, and how long I would spend napping every day because I literally could not stay awake a moment longer.  My plans to sew up a set of Endless Summer tunics, a Rie dress, and an Erin skirt were quickly curtailed to two Endless Summer tunics and an Erin skirt.

Woman wearing a green printed Endless Summer tunic

Please forgive yet another bathroom-mirror selfie (or consider it a desperate cry for help and buy me a tripod and timer for my real camera).  This is my second maternity-friendly Endless Summer Tunic (first one blogged here), a size 41 using Cloud 9 double gauze for the main fabric and a castoff Levi’s blouse for the yoke lining and pockets.  My only modification (unseen below the edge of the mirror) was to add about 3″ to make it unquestionably dress-length.

The double gauze was squishy and difficult to work with, but so light and comfortable to wear.  After four times sewing this pattern, I think I finally get it.  The 41″ covers all my bumps without pulling tight, but is so wide in the shoulders it slips around at the top.  The first two times I sewed this for myself, I blamed the tight bust area as a result of my inability to choose the correct size.  However, sizing was not an issue when I made one for someone else: the pattern is simply designed for a woman with an average sized bust or smaller.  The next time I make this tunic, I need to choose a size based on my center back measurement and add a bust dart.  If I also want to make this hypothetical fifth tunic maternity-friendly, I will also grade out to the 41″ size below the waist shaping and add extra length to make it a dress.

The Erin skirt remains unphotographed, so go look at the picture linked above.  In spite of the fact that my version is structurally a mess–my seams weave like a drunken sailor, the ends of each piece of fabric don’t match up, and I didn’t correctly sew on the elastic for the ruching–mine looks just like a longer, black version of the sample.  In spite of my ineptitude sewing with jersey (in my defense this was the first time I’d sewn with jersey and black is hard to work with in any fabric), the skirt is super cute and I feel pretty wearing it.  I have seen several women wearing skirts that tackle the giant-stomach problem by going underneath said stomach, but taking the skirt over the stomach is brilliant because you can adapt regular shirts to wear with it and not look like you got lost on your way to Woodstock.  My two favorite ways to style this skirt are with a little blouse half-buttoned to the bottom, extra length tied above my stomach, or with my Francis top.  Fair warning: if you want to make a Francis top and use it as a maternity top, you will need a bra that you are ok with the world looking at because your stomach will pull the top open all the way.  I would make another one of these skirts in a second if I had more summer tops to play with or needed to look spiffy for work.  And if someone cut the fabric for me: I don’t think I could stand close enough to my cutting table now to cut jersey with anything resembling accuracy.

With that, I am setting aside my maternity sewing adventures.  I am close enough to the end that I need to be picky about the projects I devote my limited time to, and sewing just didn’t make the cut (pun unintended but kinda funny).  I am really proud of myself for managing to sew three complete garments this year, and for pushing myself to try fabrics beyond quilting cotton.  I learned a bit about sewing garments, and a bit about how to choose garments that will fit my body, whatever shape it has currently taken on.

In mashing up these handmade garments with a capsule wardrobe of the regular clothes that still fit me and a few store-bought maternity pieces, I have found lots of time to think about styling my pregnant self.  Normally, I don’t consider myself overly concerned by my body–it’s there, I feed it, it gets me from point A to point B–but being pregnant has forced me to spend a lot of time thinking about my existence as a biological organism.  Those rare moments when I am done fretting over my protein consumption, the (mal)functioning of various bodily systems (looking at you, digestion), and the challenges of motion now that I am suddenly operating a body that is not the same as the one I spent my life learning how to operate, some well-meaning but vocal stranger will be on hand to remind me of How Very Pregnant You Are.  On days when I am feeling well-rested and charitable, I think they must just get so excited about the thought of a baby, they lose their heads and don’t realize that whatever they’ve just blurted out (Are you expecting a big baby?  Are you going to have twins?  Wow, you’ve popped!) basically boils down to “Gee golly you’re the size of a house!”  When I’m hungry, tired, hot, or any combination of those, I am really, really, really tempted to respond with the first snarky comment that pops into my mind.

Interestingly, the size-of-a-house comments tended to be fewer and farther between when I was wearing fitted dresses up until about month seven; now it doesn’t matter what I wear, comments are just as likely to be uncomplimentary as not.  Early on, I capitalized on boxy tops and shift dresses, and for a lucky while few people noticed I was pregnant.  Now it’s like a giant glowing neon sign traveling in front of me, so I have set aside my high-horse morals and just wear what’s comfortable.  I bought two maternity dresses at Target: they are comfortable and I can throw them on and be ready to clomp around the block with the dog in 30 seconds or less.  I have outgrown my first Endless Summer Tunic, but the second one is still cool and breathable.  The Erin skirt comes out for special occasions.  All my jersey knit maxi dresses round out the 5-7 days between loads of laundry and are in the process of being worn to shreds.

So that’s all until the baby arrives, and then I get to start the drama of finding clothes to put on a new body all over again.

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