Finished: Cascade coat

This coat was born out of frantic necessity and ridiculous ambition. Did I mention I only started sewing about a year ago? I read lots of reviews and blogs though, and the skills required for this coat  (Cascade from Grainline Studio) didn’t seem that difficult (#famouslastwords). The steps are easy enough, and Jen’s instructions and sewalong are super clear and helpful, but there’s just A LOT. There are a lot of pieces, a lot of steps, a lot of fabric required, etc. It took time, but I had no outerwear (and Belgian winters are damp and cold), so I sewed my little novice heart out.

Finished: Cascade coat Read More »

Finished: Saiph tunic

For Papercut Pattern’s Saiph tunic, I figured it would be an easy shape for me (if you check out my What I’m Wearing posts, you’ll see a pattern with tunics), great for layering over tights and leggings in the winter, and have potential to be worn after the baby’s born. At the very least, it looks like a garment I want to wear even if I’m not pregnant, so I bought it.

Saiph tunic (pattern by Papercut Patterns), made by Small Bobbins

I cut variation 2 with the ruffled skirt for my first try, a straight size M based on my pre-pregnancy measurements. Farrell thinks these measurements must have been off when I took them because this is the billionth garment I’ve made that’s just too big. Even with my belly (32 weeks in these photos)! It’s sewn in a burgundy ponte di roma, not a recommended fabric for this pattern, but I wanted something stretchy to accommodate for belly space.

Saiph tunic (pattern by Papercut Patterns), made by Small Bobbins

I’ll probably cut the Small next time because everything is way too big. Additionally, I found that for me, the shoulder seam is too far back, the back opening was unnecessary with the stretch fabric (should’ve taken a hint from Sallie’s version) (although I do love the gold button I used), and maybe it didn’t need to be quite so long. The armholes hang very low and feel too wide. I don’t even know how to fix this (but any suggestions are welcome!).

Saiph tunic (pattern by Papercut Patterns), made by Small Bobbins

Sewing it was super easy (it is rated as a “rookie” pattern after all). Despite the size catastrophe, I’m looking forward to making another one with pockets. Even though the pattern is intended for a woven fabric, it just seems more well suited for a heavier knit (plus, it’s what my fabric stash is comprised of these days anyway). I have a bright, cheerful blue jersey or a navy/white stripped knit that I could see as working for this pattern.

Saiph tunic (pattern by Papercut Patterns), made by Small Bobbins

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Amber maternity dress

After a week of successful sewing projects (the wrap cardigan and maternity Agnes), I was bummed to try this on initially and find it so… meh.

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

This is the Amber maternity/nursing shirt/dress pattern from Megan Nielsen. She has a whole collection of really awesome looking maternity patterns that I discovered earlier in my pregnancy, only to find out that most weren’t available. When she sent out a newsletter announcing that this pattern was being re-released as a PDF, I bought it that minute!

But… I should’ve taken my time with constructing, I was on a high of speedy sews and not really accounting for the slippery fabric (purchased at a fabric fair here in Ghent, no idea what it is). I should’ve made fitting changes sooner; I had tried on the bodice and noticed it was gaping, but assumed the skirt would fix that. In the below picture I’m trying to show how baggy the top is, and it’s already covered in pins to keep it looking decent! (The busy pattern does make it hard to tell though.)

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

I also should’ve checked out the length before hemming. I ended up cutting off a huge amount, so it would’ve saved some effort.

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

I can anticipate that the bodice might … fill out a bit more in the coming months, but it’s also a stretchy fabric. My main concern was getting everything much tighter for now and then letting the knit fabric do its job if my measurements changed. I unpicked the bodice band from the bodice, made the modesty panel smaller (since it was already stitched to the shoulder seams and I didn’t want to unpick all of that, I cut off two giant stripes that would stay hidden and sewed the pieces back together. Total hack!), took some width out of the side seams, attached the modesty panels and front bodice pieces higher up, and shortened the bodice overall when reattaching the skirt.

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

The results are great! Like I said, it was a total hack-job, but it fits so much better now.

With my current measurements, I fell just a bit bigger than a size medium, but cut the straight medium anyway. Next time I may try a small! I almost forgot to cut the back bodice piece, which was nearly a problem because my cutting layout wasn’t as efficient as it should’ve been. I think I even cut a few pieces off grain (although, can a 4-way stretch fabric really have much of a grain?). I had 2.7 meters of this fabric, but it seemed like so little in the end. I planned to cut 3/4-length sleeves, but didn’t want to cut the pattern, was too lazy to trace, and then I forgot about my plan when I cut the fabric, oops! Long sleeves it is. Also, what a difference it is to have a fresh blade on my rotary cutter, it seems so obvious now but it made such a huge difference!

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

Also, I changed the pleats to gathers on the skirts. I don’t have much (read: any) experience with pleating, and maybe it was just this fabric, but it was super difficult to get them to look nice on the bodice, so I threw out the idea for the skirt and just gathered it in the front. I’m pleased with it! I really like that the gathers(/would-be pleats) fit my belly now, but will (hopefully) not look so obviously “maternity” after the little lady is born. Plus, the nursing panel is super practical.

The pattern skill is rated 2/5 and I would say that’s accurate. This was really easy to sew, you might want a few knit garments under your belt before tackling this but really, there’s nothing out of the ordinary and only eight pattern pieces. I’m already planning a shirt version in a simple black jersey, plus I think I may steal the bodice/modesty panel pieces to franken-pattern other tops and dresses. Making a nursing top was definitely on my “to sew” list and I’m so glad that this pattern was re-released so I didn’t have to figure out how to make it on my own.

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What I’m wearing: 32 weeks

I definitely have to get more creative these days. Actually, no, I just have to get creative in how I convince myself to feel confident in the same rotation of outfits that still fit. Luckily my collection of tights and dresses is holding up for now, and it’s cold enough that sweaters can cover up shirts that don’t stay buttoned anymore. There’s no hiding it from coworkers anymore (although now they assume I’m due any day!).

what I'm wearing: 32 weeks

I have to say this is not the most flattering look. The layers are overwhelming, plus I went overboard with the patterns. The pencil skirt is a refashion that I haven’t blogged yet, cut up and re-sewn from a maxi skirt. It’s gathered at the sides with elastic. Also, the sweater hits at a wide spot on my bump, so even though this is a very typical and well-loved silhouette for me, I don’t think I’ll repeat this outfit.

what I'm wearing: 32 weeks

what I'm wearing: 32 weeks

This is another dress that I almost donated, a black dress I bought from Victoria’s Secret so so many years ago (I think six). It’s faded, not my preferred length, etc. I rediscovered it and decided it’ll work for a few more weeks (I do like how it really emphasizes the bump without adding a lot of bulk) before I’ll konmari it.

what I'm wearing: 32 weeks

I’m sensing a pattern here, this is another suuuuper old top that I somehow resisted getting rid of for years (at least six years for this one too). It works for a weekend look, especially hidden under my brand new coat (I can’t wait to post some photos of that!).

My biggest lesson from this week’s outfits? Thank goodness I finished my coat, because I need to sew some outfits that 1) fit my belly (and not just “this happens to be big enough to cover my body”), and 2) look cute! A new dress or two can do wonders for your mood, or at least, that’s what I’m counting on.

What I’m wearing: 32 weeks Read More »

Agnes maternity top

Having made the Agnes top once before, I set out to make another with a few changes. This time I made it with the gathered, puffy sleeves, but still kept the simple, rounded neckline. And, I set out to accommodate better for my growing belly.

Agnes maternity top, made by Small Bobbins

At the time, my measurements were:

  • bust: 98cm (between size 5-6)
  • waist: 92cm (just above 7)
  • hips: 104cm (size 5)

I traced a size 5 with a few changes. I thought my first version was too short, so I added 2 inches (5 cm) to the front and back pieces. I traced the sleeves to the length of the biggest size. Then, I altered the pattern using the tutorial from So Zo’s blog to make it a maternity top, which is essentially adding about 5 inches (12.5 cm) under the belly button-ish region and gathering that along the side seams.

I used a very light pink jersey (purchased in Ledeberg) that I thought was white in the fabric store.

Agnes maternity top, made by Small Bobbins

It turned out soooo well. I’m so pleased! Having had the experience of one top under my belt alread, this one came out so much more quickly. My alterations were spot on, the length is perfect, the gathering around the belly is perfect, the sleeve length is perfect. And after having much better success with the neckline on my Hemlock shirt, I really hacked a good bit off of the Agnes neckline piece and the result was great. The jersey, even though I still desperately wish it were just white, was surprisingly easy to work with. I have no idea what the fiber content is, but it has a nice weight to it, didn’t shift around while sewing, and presses nicely.

Agnes maternity top, made by Small Bobbins

The ruched sleeves might not be my thing though. Still, I’m so happy to have a maternity shirt. It’s even good enough that I wouldn’t feel bad donating it to someone else when I’m done with it (since this totally won’t get used after the baby comes, no way, the extra belly room is too obvious).

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work in progress: cascade coat

Let’s take stock of where I am with my coat.


  • Self fabric, 5 meters at €1/m
  • Lining fabric, 4 meters at €1/m
  • Thread, 1000 meters, Guntermann brand, €7 (and some change)
  • Zippers, 2x€4.60 (one for the maternity panel)
  • Snaps,€8.50 (for the maternity panel)
  • Snap installer,€13.95 (for the maternity panel)
  • Interlining fabric, €10/m (I probably used 1 meter)
  • Interfacing, 3 meters at €20.22 total
  • Cascade PDF pattern, €15.37 ($16.94)

Probably adding up just the amount for what is used for the coat itself, I’d guess (generously), I’ve spent €53. The maternity panel will use additional fabric, lining, interfacing, the other zipper and the snaps (and the installer, although that will hopefully get additional use as well). The pattern will be used again, dammit.

I ended up cutting a straight size 10 based on the finished measurements. It even fits my belly (for now) with room to spare!

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

Everything seems doable so far, none of the steps are too wacky or difficult. I can see already where I should be taking more care, but I’ve convinced myself already that this is a learning experience. I’m not going for perfection, plus, I just need a dang coat already! My next version (I’m telling myself) will be made with nicer materials and done with more care.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

I can already tell that my zipper band is too wide (the contrast material I chose is a bit stretchy) and some seams aren’t so carefully measured. I had to shorten my front bands a bit to be 1/2″ away from either ends of the coat; my guess is that my poly-blend fabric stretched as I sewed it. I decided not to sew the toggles, but now I see why they would’ve been useful to keep the center front band from flapping open.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

All of my fabric choices were not the best. I didn’t take into account that Jen says to stay away from bonded interfacing when I bought mine, plus it doesn’t stick so well to the self fabric. The plaid wool/poly blend I used doesn’t seem incredibly warm, doesn’t press well, seems to stretch a bit, plus it smells super chemically when it gets wet or steamed. The interlining is a sweater knit jersey (also used here, I’m wearing it under the coat in the photos without the sleeves); it stretched all over the place when I basted it (I could’ve hand-basted, but see above, I’m too lazy and cold!) and my seams ended up wonky. In some places, the white basting stiches stick out on the front of the coat and in other places I can see I missed the interlining fabric all together.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

I still have the hood and lining to go. It feels like I’m near the end, but then I remember, wait, I have to practically construct the whole coat again for the lining! Remember, Kirstin, you got yourself into this mess.

Oh yeah, and then I’m going to attempt the maternity insert when that’s all done. Yippee!

work in progress: cascade coat Read More »

what I’m wearing: 24 weeks

What I'm wearing at 24 weeks

Or, “it’s so overcast that I can only get enough light if I face the same direction in every photo.”

None of my own makes except for the Rae skirt, which is still holding up wonderfully (of course, it’s just a skirt with an elastic waistband). I love the fit of this basic white top from H&M. It’s so simple, but it fits perfectly into my typical wardrobe. Unfortunately it’s getting a bit short and I fear I may be stretching it beyond recovery, so I think I’ll attempt to make a maternity-version using the Agnes pattern (simple neckline, no gathers, short sleeves).

What I'm wearing at 24 weeks

Here you can see the striped knit dress I complained about last week, dressed up a bit more for work with a sparkly headband and a blazer.

What I'm wearing at 24 weeks

This tunic is one of two things I still fit in during the last few weeks of my first pregnancy. It’s not meant for maternity, but my mom bought it and ended up not liking it. It is, essentially, a giant sack of a shirt, but it works. I don’t really like anything about it except that it’s long and it fits. Maybe it’s time to trace my own version in a more appealing color? I have a navy/white striped knit that could be much cuter.

What I'm wearing at 24 weeks

This is a riff on what I wear probably 90% of the time when the weather is chilled enough for it, pregnant or not. Collared shirt, sweater, skinny jeans, ankle boots. I’m wearing a navy shirt that used to belong to my husband that I added elastic to using an idea from Megan Nielsen’s DIY Maternity blog. It’s not really cute enough on its own, but works well under a sweater.

What I'm wearing at 24 weeks

From now on, third trimester! Finally getting close to the end, although it’s only going to get more difficult to dress the bump from now on!

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what I’m wearing: 23 weeks

I didn’t quite focus my camera correctly for this week’s pictures, oh well.

What I'm wearing at 23 weeks

Two pretty typical outfits that saw me through this week and similarly sized weeks. First up, a knit dress that I almost donated. In non-pregnant times, it didn’t excite me enough to wear practically ever. It’s a bit too short for me to wear without leggings, but the knit dress+leggings look is too casual for me to take to the office. I thought maybe I would chop it up somehow, but now with my growing belly, it’s the perfect stretchy, comfortable tunic-length dress. I can throw on a blazer and it looks decent enough to wear to work (plus, I’m giving myself a pass on more casual-wear in the office as long as it fits) and it’s long enough to cover these black pants, which surprisingly still fit me, though don’t quite stay up so well anymore. I’m still tempted to somehow hack it apart, see if I can make a nursing top out of it, for example.

What I'm wearing at 23 weeks
What I'm wearing at 23 weeks

Here’s a button-up that also nearly made it to the donation pile. It’s a few years old and runs pretty large on me, but used to look okay when belted at the waist. I haven’t worn it in a long time though. I kept it with the thinking that I could “maternify” it somehow, but it ended up fitting fine without any alterations.

I’m a bit surprised to look at these pictures and think, “Okay, I guess I don’t look that pregnant yet,” even though I feel so huge and obvious! I’ll give a pass to my coworkers who didn’t recognize the bump yet.

what I’m wearing: 23 weeks Read More »

Alder shirtdress

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

After seeing Anna’s maternity version of Grainline Studio’s Alder shirtdress pattern, I wanted to try it for myself. The length made it seem ideal for a top to wear over tights that I could pair with a sweater when it gets cold. The buttons and collar seemed like good skill-builders. I just needed to figure out what size to make it so that I could get some decent use out of it.

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

I made View A (the straighter cut, without the gathered skirt), and cut a size 12 at the bust, grading to 16 at the waist. It’s very roomy! Maybe this means I can wear it until the end of my pregnancy. If I find the motivation, I may take off some width and length after the little lady is born so it’s not so super huge on me.

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

The actual construction was not so difficult; like the Bianca, I didn’t get tripped up until it came time to make the collar, but I was much more successful this time. It probably helps that there’s a great (English!) sewalong for this pattern.

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

I had to buy a buttonhole foot for my Bernina. I’m pleased with the results, but I wonder if I really needed the special foot. It just has two grooves on the bottom that accommodate for the thick channels of thread that make the buttonhole. I could have a whole blog dedicated to trying to unravel the mysteries of sewing machine feet and whether I should buy all of them or none of them.

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

The fabric is a lightweight denim with lots of teeny tiny flowers. I was worried that maybe the small print would be overwhelming, but I’m okay with the results. After doing a few knit projects, it was so nice to work with though. It holds a press! It doesn’t shift or stretch!

Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

Pairing it with a belt, cardigan and tights, I’m hoping to get a decent amount of wear out of this.

For my next one, I’m thinking about making a shirt version (or View B, with the gathered skirt). Although after my most recent fabric shopping spree, I don’t really have any appropriate wovens in my stash (yet!).
Alder shirtdress (pattern by Grainline Studio), made by Small Bobbins

I have to admit though, I was glad to get back into simpler knit projects after this. There are so many pieces! So much pressing! So much interfacing!

(That lasted for like… a day. Did I mention I’m making a coat now?)

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