Maternity Leave... I don't want to go!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Before I started running Ohhh Lulu full time, the *idea* of maternity leave sounded like heaven...!  These days though, the thought is actually really stressing me out.  I love running my business, it takes up pretty much all of my time, so it is hard to imagine even taking a month off!

But, I will only get one opportunity to enjoy this newborn baby, so I will be taking a short break.  Starting in August, I will reduce the number of items in my shop and reduce the amount of orders I take.  I have no idea what having a new baby is going to be like (like I said before, I am clueless and without expectation), so I'm not entirely sure how much time I will take off, but I doubt I can stay away too long!  I will keep my pattern shop up and running, though I will likely not be able to get to emails as quickly as I do now. 

Dan will be taking a couple weeks of parental leave when the baby is born. I hope this will help us adjust and give him some extra time to bond with the little one.  Am I ever grateful I live in a place with parental leave for both parents... 

I did recently order a bunch of fall/winter fabrics for Ohhh Lulu. I hope that I can make some ready-made items to relaunch my shop after the baby and I get ourselves settled. I thought that would be a good way to get back into the swing of working + doting over a baby.  

I also have something up my sleeve for my pattern shop... I am working on kits that include fabrics, embellishments & elastic / notions. I am going to first do kits for the Jasmine,  Bambi, Grace, Jane, and maybe Lola... maybe also Brigette, Ava, and Giselle. Kits will be few of a kind and will include everything you need, except the pattern, thread, and needles. I am working on labels, content tags, etc now... but I do hope to have these available soon!

In the meantime, here are a few more pieces from my summer collection... I personally love the last one (and kept a pair for myself!)




At home...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I have to admit, I'm procrastinating a little bit. It's one of those mornings (weeks... months...) where I have so much to do, I don't know where to start, so I'm taking a moment to blog!

I had my first big magazine feature. My Cabin Fever knickers were featured in the August issue of Elle Canada, which was super amazing! It's just a small little blurb, but it's still very exciting. It's been a dream of mine to see my brand in a fashion magazine. A big thank you to Elle Canada for reaching out to Canadian Brands.

While Dan was off work the other week, he finished painting the baby's room and assembled all of our new furniture.  Yesterday I went to my cousin's place to go through some of her old baby stuff.  I came home with a car-load of clothes, rockers, toys, etc., etc..  I'm trying not to accumulate too much stuff. I have no idea what we will need. I've been trying to ask parents what they couldn't live without when they had small children, and have been trying to get some of those things... I feel pretty clueless, when it comes to what I need. I actually had to ask what receiving blankets are for... I figure it's ok to be a clueless mom-to-be, as long as I'm not afraid to ask!

I still have lots of baby-crafting to do. I've made about a dozen cloth diapers, but need to get more flannel. I also need to make curtains and a few other odds and ends. It's nice being able to slowly work at putting together the baby's room... I'm getting excited to finally see the baby in it!

We got our first "harvest" this year from our vegetable garden - about a cup of beans.  I've tried growing tomatos and cucumbers in my garden previously, but never had much success with them. This year we put in a raised, square foot garden and it is doing incredible! We will have cucumbers and tomatos soon... and potatos, carrots, letuce, peas, more beans, onions... All from a 4'x4' garden! Oliver is stunned at how fast it's grown - look at that face!

We had a pretty busy, but very fun weekend.  On Saturday, we went out bowling with friends. I am a terrible bowler... Dan, on the otherhand, is actually pretty good. I did manage to get two strikes!  Then, on Sunday my best friend, Abbey and her boyfriend came up to visit for the day. We bbq'd, went out for coffee, and walked along the waterfront.  It was nice to have a weekend with very little work... Though feel pretty exhausted now!

New Patterns! The Zooey Bikini Top & Bottoms

Friday, July 11, 2014

Last night, I finally listed those new patterns I've been talking about! Here is the Zooey Bikini! This one is my personal favourite... You can purchase the pattern either as a set or the top and bottoms separately.  

Bikini with Side-tie Bottoms

Bikini with Bow Bottoms!

This is the Zooey Bikini Top. I must say, I LOVE PRINCESS SEAMS. Why? because they make fit alterations so easy! Plain old darts tend to work themselves into points and are not so great for anyone above a C cup. With a full bust seam, you can get more contouring, and I find, that it looks better than just a bust dart. You will see many bikinis with no bust seam lines, but those are really best for very petite ladies.  I personally have just upgraded my pregnancy-boobs to a (*gasp*) G cup, so that just doesn't work for me. With a little pattern alteration, I can easily make this bikini top fit my ample bosom (full disclosure, I am still a petite lady, ladies with a band size 36+ will need to do more alteration than someone like me, who has a 30-32+ band).  In fact, I made one to wear when i went on vacation... but we had such terrible weather it didn't make it out of my suit case! Even more petite ladies will find that bust seams are easy to adjust to get a good fit.

The coordinating bottoms can be sewn two ways - side-tie or with an asymmetrical bow. The pattern will show you how to make lined bikini bottoms, but this pattern makes a great bikini cut panty too! I'm planning a pattern hack in the near future to show you how to do that.  This pattern is quite different from the Jane pattern.  The Jane pattern is a similar cut, but is exclusively for woven fabrics.  The Zooey Bikini Bottoms are for stretch knits only! This is my favourite style bottom. I'm actually hoping to make a few pairs of undies using this pattern for myself today.

Not going to be a PTA mom... and that's ok.

Earlier this week, we had a bunch of rain and some of my hydrangea's got knocked down.  I cut a few and have them sitting in a vase in my living room... they are so pretty! I am really enjoying my garden this year. It is finally beginning to look like I know what I'm doing! Most of my plants have come from my mom or another family member, so I've started wtih small clumps.  Now everything is starting to expand.

So, I've been thinking a whole lot about this "becoming a mom" thing, for obvious reasons.  As you may remember, I've never had that "maternal drive" that so many women discuss feeling.  As a teenager, when I pictured my life, I pictured an old house, an artsy career, a pet, maybe a longterm partner. I am pretty much livin' the dream. Livin' my dream, that is. "Mom" was something I never really saw in my future.  Not that I don't love kids... because I really do (and kids seem to really like me).  It just wasn't something I ever gave much thought to. As I saw many of my friends and acquaintances have kids, or discuss their desire to have kids, it made me feel a little lost. I just never had that... urge, and that was something I really struggled with!

 As I get closer to becoming a mom myself, I realize I have had this very narrow view what motherhood looks like, and I'm not sure where it came from because I come from a very progressive family.  When I thought about having kids, I had this idea that I'd be giving up a major part of my life - possibly even my career. I thought that I would be doing a lot of sacrificing and driving to soccer games (ugh, I hate sports!) and PTA meetings (booooring).  I think we really idolize the archetype of the "martyr mommy" - the woman who puts everyone else before her self.  That's what I thought I'd have to do too.

I don't know why this was the way I thought. My mom was never your average soccer mom. She worked (and continues to work) full-time in a demanding career and was the main breadwinner in our family.  She has furthered her education. She has done so many great things... all in addition to being a mom! And a really amazing mom at that (who is now also my best friend!). I don't feel like I missed out on anything growing up. In fact, I think I benefited from seeing a woman do all the amazing things she did, and also benefited from seeing my dad pick up the slack around the house (though my mom would argue that he still could do more lol). 

In fact, I come from a long line of awesome Mom's.  My grandma raised 5 of her own kids, and I understand she helped raise others too, while also working as a realtor, running her own business, being involved in the local community, and eventually after her kids were grown, became an author. So many of the mom's in my life have had these amazing lives outside of and in addition to being a mom.  That being said, I think they also faced criticism for the choices they made. I am beginning to see this myself, every time someone asks me if I will continue to work after the baby is born, or gives me a look of shock when I say I want to put my baby in day care a few days a week so I can focus on my business.

I guess I had this very singular view of what motherhood meant.  I thought "when you have kids, you stop doing other things." Don't get me wrong, I do expect there to be changes to my lifestyle a long the way, but the more I think about it, the more I see the benefit of being a bit of a selfish-mom as opposed to the selfless-mom. It makes me angry that despite my own experience with what motherhood looks like, there is still this prevailing view of a very narrow image of motherhood.  I think this potentially creates a lot of unhappy mom's, or turns a lot of potentially amazing mom's off of motherhood.

Two years ago, I wrote about my lack of maternal-drive, and it felt so good to know that there were many of you out there who felt the same way. It was also really great to hear from mom's who were just doing motherhood the way they wanted. Whether that meant staying home, or maintaining their career.  One comment in particular, really made an impact on me.  Lady Katza said,
 "But one thing, should you decide to have children, that you SHOULD NOT do, is feel that you have to give up who you are as a person. Your life should not be about your children 24/7. This whole notion that we should "give up our dreams for our children" is ridiculous. I didn't stop going to sci-fi conventions, or protests, or anything like that, i just take them along with me. And if you live close to you parents, EVEN BETTER! The grands will step in to help because you are working and they have time. People forget that that is what families are for. "
 My mom never drove a mini-van or was involved in the PTA.  In fact, sometimes she was too busy with work to attend every single one of my many piano recitals, and guess what? I turned out perfectly OK! I think it took me getting pregnant to realize that being a Mom won't change who I am as a person. I'm never going to volunteer to drive a van full of kids to a soccer game... but I will happily give out piano lessons, or do arts and crafts, or go on trips to an art gallery or museum.  And that is just fine!

Ohhh Lulu Pattern Hacks: Elastic Finishes for Lingerie & Swimwear

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In my patterns, I generally glance over how to apply elastic edge finishes.  There are so many different types of elastic, and different methods of application. Here, I'm going to go more in depth into 4 different edge finishes, serger/overlock machine optional!

These are four basic finishes.  I like to use the Fold Over & Picot Elastic for lingerie edge finishes, while the Twin Stitched and Zig-Zag finishes are great for swimwear as they create a clean, but snug fitting edge.

Elastic Edge Finishes - on the outside

Elastic Edge Finishes - on the inside

Above are the basic types of elastic you may want to use for Lingerie or Swimwear.  Picot & Fold Over are best for Lingerie while plain elastic works great for swimwear.  You can buy specific swimwear elastic that is suitable for wear in chlorine - just search for "Swimwear elastic."  I use 1/4" swimwear elastic on my swim items, but you can also experiment with clear elastic and elastic of different widths.

Elastic comes in different weights and amounts of stretch.  Because of this, I generally do not add elastic lengths in my patterns.  I find the best way to get the most comfortable fit is to experiment with the amount of tension applied to the elastic you have.  You want the elastic to gently contour the edge of the garment and create a snug fit, but not ruche or gather the fabric underneath. You will find that if you are working with stretch knits, like a spandex swimwear fabric or cotton/lycra jersey, you will want to apply less tension than if you were working with a bias cut, woven quilting cotton. After you sew a couple samples, I think you'll find that it quickly becomes second nature.

I have an "Anything Goes" mindset to sewing. I firmly believe that there are countless ways to sew a garment or perfect a technique.  These are a few techniques that I personally like to use, but it doesn't mean they are the only way to do it! Experiment, try different things, and find the technique that works best for you.

Fold Over Elastic 

1. Using a zig-zag stitch, baste your FOE (Fold Over Elastic) onto the wrong side of the garment. Most of my patterns have a 1/4" hem allowance, so I inset my FOE. When you are basting, apply slight tension to the elastic - this means you gently pull on the elastic while stitching it down.  You'll see that the fabric very slightly "shrinks" under the tension.  I find it's best to experiment on mock-up garments to see how much tension works best. After you do this a few times, it will feel like second nature.

2. Trim back any excess fabric on the right side.

3. Fold the elastic along the foldline, and top stitch down using a zig-zag stitch

4. Voila! Your edge is bound in elastic.

Picot Elastic

1. Baste your picot elastic onto the right side of the fabric using a zig-zag stitch. The picot, or decorative edge of the elastic should be pointing in towards the fabric.  As you baste, apply a slight amount of tension to the elastic.

2. Trim back any excess fabric. Turn the elastic under, towards the wrong side and zig-zag stitch down.

 3. That's it!

Plain Elastic Edge Finishes with Twin or Zig-Zag Stitching
1.  Baste the elastic to the wrong side of the garment using either a zig-zag stitch or your serger/overlock machine. Apply a slight amount of tension to the elastic - you can see in the photos below how the elastic slightly "shrinks" down the edge, which will create a snug fit.

2. Fold elastic under and top stitch down. You can either use a Twin Needle or a Zig Zag Stitch. If you've never used a twin needle before, it is really easy and creates professional results! Your sewing machine should come with a detachable peg that can be inserted into the top of the machine to put a 2nd spool of thread.  Insert your twin needle, and make sure your sewing machine is set to stitch a straight stitch.  Thread your machine as you normally would, but use two spools of thread.  This stitch will create two lines of straight stitching on the front, with a zig-zag on the back. It is super stretchy, and perfect for stretch edge finishes.

Sewing Machine threaded for Twin Needle
Stitching with a twin needle
Elasticized, twin-stitched edge finish
Elasticized, zig-zag stitched edge finish

So, there you have it. Those are some basic techniques for applying different types of elastic.  I hope you find these helpful!

Glad to be home!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I love camping. Camping is just the best. Camping makes you really appreciate being home again.  

We got to Restoule Provincial Park late in the afternoon on Tuesday and arrived to decent weather. Not too hot, not too cold.  Wednesday was pretty nice for most of the day, but then it started to rain. And it rained and rained and rained.  We spent Thursday driving around; took a trip to North Bay and had lunch at a place called the Urban Cafe, where we stopped and had lunch on our honeymoon.  We went to the Commanda General Store museum and had coffee with a local and 'toured' the museaum. We did a lot of reading and napping, and although we didn't get out hiking as much or down to the beach, I do feel well rested... but very glad to be home in my nice, dry, mosquito-free house!

Dan looking out over Stormy Lake

The most beautiful place in the province, if you ask me!

Large and in charge. Staying positive despite the damp weather!

Rain clouds coming in over the lake
Dan still has three days off, which is super-nice because I like spending time with that guy.  Today he's hard at work building Ikea furniture for the Baby's room, and yesterday he finished painting.  We went on Monday to Ikea, hoping it wouldn't be busy, but we were wrong.  Most of what we wanted was sold out and I ended up leaving very frustrated and annoyed.  Usually I love Ikea!  We still have lots of time to get the baby's room done, but I will be glad to get it out of the way and I think it will make this whole "having a baby" thing feel a little more real (it still feels like a fairly abstract idea to me).  I hate feeling like I've left things until the last minute. I keep having this day-dream/nightmare that the baby comes early and we haven't done anything to get ready and the baby (who can talk in my dreams) gets mad at me and says I'm a bad mother (funny and very annoying).  Dan and I both work so much that it's hard to find the time... I'm glad Dan has had this time off to take over some of the prep-work. It's a load off my shoulders!

Ohhh Lulu Pattern Hacks: Adding Padding to your Jasmine Bra

The Jasmine bra is a light support bra.  Adding pre-formed foam cups can help give your bra  a little extra shape and structure.  Foam pads come in a variety of styles - balconette, push-up, triangle, etc, and can be found at most sewing supply stores.  My local Fabricland (for Canadians) carries foam cups, but you can also find them for sale on Etsy and other sewing supply stores - just search for foam bra cups. This tutorial is excellent to use if you want to sew your Jasmine as a Bikini Top. You can also use this basic concept to add padding to any of my bra patterns.

What you will need:
1. The Jasmine Bra Pattern (available on Ohhh Lulu Sews)
2. Supplies for the Jasmine bra PLUS fabric for lining (Lining is a MUST) - I recommend a plain cotton jersey, or swimsuit lining if you are making the top into a swimsuit.
3. Foam Cups

Style Lines for the Jasmine Bra Pattern
A bit about cups:
Bra cups come in different shapes and sizes.  If you were to browse through any large sewing supply store, you may find Balconette, Swimsuit, Triangle, and Push-Up Pads.  I generally use Balconette Cups in the Jasmine Bra - they are the most versatile.  Swimsuit cups, which have a less oval shape and generally tend to be lighter weight, work great as well.  You can also find specially shaped triangle cups which will fit into my triangle shaped bras.

If you are putting in a cup larger than a DD, you will need to adjust the height of the pattern and I highly recommend sewing a mock-up first.

1. Sew your front exterior and lining according to Pattern Instructions.

2. Place a foam cup over the wrong side of the fabric. Below, you can see where I've placed the balconette cup, the centre front point sits about 1/2" away from the centre front seam line and is centred vertically along the front princess seam.  When I make these for myself, I do a lot of "trying on" as I go. I'll actually hold the lining over my body, and place the cup where it sits best on my bust.  The most important part here is that the the wrong-side of the lining fall into the inward curve of the cup.  You don't want to put your cup on backwards/inside out!

3. Once you've gotten your cup in place, put in a few pins to keep it secure.  With the right side of the lining facing up, so that you can make sure that the lining is curving into the cup, and not getting pulled taught, stitch around the exterior edge of the cup. This part takes a bit of practice. You can use your fingers to feel where the edge of the cup is as you slowly stitch around the perimeter. Do the same to both sides.
Using my fingers to feel the edge of the foam cup as I stitch the cup directly onto the interior of the lining
Cups stitched onto both sides of the lining.

4. Place your outer shell over top of the lining so that the padding is sandwiched between the layers.  Line up your lining and exterior seam-lines, and baste along the lower edge of the bra.  When you are done, you will notice that the outer layer appears shorter.  That's because it now has to curve over the cup. You can now baste the upper edge in a similar fashion as you did the lower, but just be aware that it is A-OK that the the lining peak out about 1/8"-1/4" above your exterior - this can be trimmed back when you are done basting.

Baste Lower Edge First

5. Sew on the bra band at the side seams, and complete the bra using the instructions provided in the pattern.  You can use many different types of elastic edging for the neckline of the Jasmine Bra, but when padding the bra, I find that Foldover Elastic is the easiest to manage.

Finished Interior - just needs straps!

Padded Jasmine Exterior

 That's it! Just a few extra steps and you can make yourself a super-comfortable padded bralette or swimsuit top.

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