nursing tops and dresses Sewing idea list Shopping The Nursing Fashionista

Preppy nursing fashionista

I had a friend describe my style as ‘preppy’ a few months back. I always termed this ‘modern classics’ myself, but OK, preppy. It fits. I’m a sailing mom in a midwest college town, and I love beaches up north Michigan. Yeah, that’d be preppy.

So what’s the preppy nursing fashionista wearing these spring days? I love a striped top with wide leg pants. It just feels so summery. But of course my boat neck striped top is not nursing compatible. I define this as it covers my belly AND breasts. I get by this by wearing a nursing camisole, but I am also going to sew a nursing top (Jalie 3132, with some mods for a different neckline, a lapped bateau neck).

This mama pairs this outfit with a big sailing canvas tote. I have bunches – made from actual sails which are not as nice as the one I saw at Land’s End Canvas tonight, of course, since they’re cut from 30 year old sails left in someone’s attic (or the sailing club, for years!) But I think if I found one of the white-ish ones, added some blue canvas trim, and leather handles, it would be a chic version of my grocery shopping and boat sail totes.

Wedges. Boot cut jeans, a pretty top with a seersucker jacket belted over it (this is why you need a nursing top, otherwise, every time babe/toddler asks to nurse, you’re unbuckling belt, opening jacket… yada, yada.Of course you could buy a cheap or thrifted striped tee and follow these instructions for making a nursing one to wear under a jacket, too.

Yeah, I could rock that as a casual friday or weekend look. Preppy, indeed. This summer, hoping to finally get out sailing again, now that our toddler is a bit older (2 in June) and our preschooler will big enough and experienced enough around the boat to be reasonably helpful.

I also have docksiders, the actual Sperry ones, that I bought years ago at a marine flea market (about 15 years ago). They’re in good shape, but my foot got bigger after babies and they’re tiiiight, so I don’t like wearing them a lot. I need to stretch them out somehow. Of course I don’t wear any of this on the actual boat 😉 It’s more like shorts, a tee shirt (nursing is fine) and Keen sandals.

Sewing idea list Shopping Thrifting

Winter basics and some shoppin’

Cape, trousers, fur vest, leather dress, fun!

I pulled this from BurdaStyle (the German web site). I have inherited a couple pairs of ‘carrot’ pants, vintage Escada, and am making them skinnier at the ankles like this pair. I like the roomy trouser look as well. But I can see how these look great with a cape, so I’m going to try them. Yes, I wore them once, you know, back in the 1980s, and, yes, I’m trying it again.

I also visited my local consignment boutique with my extra fancy local daily deals coupon and I shopped. Oh boy did I! I had two hours to myself, it was a blast. I tried on nearly everything I liked that was in my size, and came home with a bunch of new stuff to invigorate my wardrobe. I got five jackets or cardigans – two cardi’s – one a cropped-sleeve one, a ruffled one, a gray jacket, a teal velveteen, a black leather and a pea-green leather(!) Very cool. I also got two dressy wide leg trousers, a pair of trouser jeans in a dark flare, a pair of cream corduroys (to replace my very old/too large ones) and two pairs of shoes, platform purple suede peep toes, and silver ballerina. A very nice haul and I’m pleased with everything. I still covet a cape I saw there, but I’ll check back in a week or so and see if it’s on sale. (you know more of a sale than a consignment shop would usually have!!)

I’ve made no secret I don’t buy new clothes (well, hardly ever). Shoes, yes, accessories, yes, but not clothes. I save so much by buying used, and I find I shop with more, well, restraint. I won’t like everything, a lot won’t fit (must have tried on every pair of size 4 jeans I liked, only to discover I’m a 0/2 size jean (!) I tried on a bunch of THOSE too, before finding one pair that actually fit my waist. I think I paid $12 for them. I can also buy higher quality items that way, and still spend as little as if I’d have shopped at a discount fashion store. Plus, we have a proliferation of nice upscale consignment shops, several decent middle-of-the-road ones, and then the usual dive-thrift stores. None that are truly scary, I would not take my kids there if it were.

So it was a good day for my wardrobe. Tomorrow, running and yoga. A good day for my health.


This just makes me happy

They're like candies in a box!

Lovely, just lovely. Look at all those colors! If I had a grand to spend and had to spend it (because I’d probably save it, in my retirement account!) I’d buy 10 pairs (and ask for a volume discount!!) I am obsessed with ballerina flats. I can’t really tolerate high heels every day anymore, with running and two very small kids. But ballerinas, they just make me happy. I will have to save up for a pair or two of these this winter 😉

nursing tops and dresses Sew Paradise Sewing for baby The Nursing Fashionista Thrifting

DIY No-sew nursing tops

Reach in, pull over the lowered armseye to access breast

This is a super easy tute, and cheap to do. You can purchase inexpensive knit shirts, or get some from thrift or second-hand stores. Don’t be afraid to cut up a trendy tee with some detail at the neckline or down the front, to make stylish versions of this. I’ve used a basic tee from my Goodwill bag.

Lay your tee shirts on a flat surface. Measure down from the neck/shoulder edge

Measure down 12.5" from neck/shoulder edge and pin at the sideseam

to 12.5″ and put a pin at the sideseam. This is about the right measurement for almost any nursing mom (assuming the tee fits you in the bust). Then, using a curved ruler (this is a french curve) or even just hand-drawing a curve, cut a shallow curved shape in from the sideseam, curving up to the shoulder. You’ll be cutting the sleeve off close to where it’s sewn on, making a low-armhole tank top.

Using a french curve or freehand, draw a nice curved shape

Then, you wear this tank under a jacket or cardigan as I’ve shown here, and when you want to nurse, just reach inside and pull the lowered armhole across to access your breast.

You can even sew these too – any basic shell (woven fabric) or tank top pattern will do just fine. You do not need to finish the armseye edges if it’s a knit fabric. This can go dressy in silk under a work blazer or leather jacket. It can go casual in knit cotton under a denim jacket.

Two low armseyes, ready for nursing!

The peach knit top example was too large for me, so I added pintucks across the midriff to cinch it up a little. This involved actual sewing 😉

Worn under a jacket or cardigan, this nursing tee looks like a regular tee
Sew Paradise Sewing idea list SWAP Thrifting

My fantasy travel packing list…

…I pack for a sun vacation like this: swimsuit, sexy maillot style (it’s what all the French girls wear…)poncho, wide legged linen pants, wrap skirt, big sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen.

I would consider buying this, if only for the suit (I have everything else in other patterns)

That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. It all fits into a swank carry on. I have some chic oversized bag to go along with this, my e-book reader and an ipod. Could I travel this light? Could I travel this light on this trip? It’s not looking like it – the problem is, not that I don’t have laundry facilities, or even these items, it’s that I want to take more. I have so many fun things I’d like to take!

But in this fantasy world, I’m on a yacht in Greece (I do know how this works, I have sailed on a yacht in Greece…) and this is my single bag and I cruise down to the cobalt seas of the Adriatic (though I actually sailed the Ionian.) I am hanging out with a rich guy (maybe my guy, but somehow we are rich). Our children are there, and they, too, impeccably dressed. Someone else fixes PB&J for them though, while I sip a cocktail. And of course I am dressed in my black maillot, wide leg linen pants and big sun hat with oversize sunglasses.

And to add to this fantasy, I’ve sewn this all myself, every piece. Lest you think I’m crazy, this all started with a pattern I saw on Ebay. I was going to buy it, but the only thing I really needed was the swimsuit (I have a zillion poncho patterns, even more wide leg pants patterns, and at least three or four wrap skirts, maybe five or six). I do have a maillot pattern, of course, this one was more of a plunging neck halter maillot, rather than the classic style.  But I didn’t buy the pattern. Yet. But I do want to sew, and I set myself a goal to someday, pack just like this for one trip. The islands. a private plane…oh who am I kidding? It’ll be coach, but I am seriously doing that trip.

The best thing about sewing is this wardrobe is in your reach for, oh, about $50. $6.99 for the vintage pattern. Say, five yards of some gauzy fabric for the poncho and skirt. Two yards of linen or chambray for the pants. One yard of swimwear fabric (you could get by with one suit, though they show two). One yard cotton twill for the hat. Voila! Nine yards of fabric, if you shop well (that is, coupon, sale, your friend’s stash @ $4.50 per yard – average – totally doable). YOU could be this glamorous for $50 and a couple weekends of sewing. For an extra $6 you could get a print swimsuit fabric and make two! (swimsuits are easy and fun to make!)

The most fun thing of all though is how a pattern sparks this idea. This daydream of sailing in Greece (it’s been twenty years this year), this fantasy brought to you by a single vintage pattern I happened to stumble across on ebay.

nursing tops and dresses Shopping

woo hoo! I won!

I won a gift certificate to Motherwear! This is a breastfeeding clothing web site, from which, I own a lot of their tops and dresses. They’re always coming out with new designs, which I like. And I comment in their blog, which is how I won! I read their blog when I pump milk for my baby. Anyway, I decided to get a few tops I can layer under things now, and wear in the spring and summer. I expect to still be nursing by then. She could surprise me, but I think I’m pretty safe, because I can wear tops under sweaters and jackets now at least.

So that takes a bit of pressure off sewing nursing tops a bit. I do still need to sew some non nursing tops, especially Christine Jonson’s patterns. And I do want to sew a long sleeved nursing dress or two (and the wicking turtleneck for skiing).

Part of why I love sewing for nursing is that whole form-follows-function that I get into. Ever since I could remember, I have wanted my clothing to be perfect for me – and that’s centered largely around functionality.

I wanted to sew when I was pregnant, too, for the same reason. But I got blindsided first by multiple miscarriages, and then, when I finally felt comfortable (and not nauseaus), I was put on bedrest and given only a short time left to be pregnant. So I’ve dived into the nursing clothing with gusto. Perhaps even more gusto than I should have!

Aah, probably not. I think whatever motivates you to sew, is a good motivator. If I could stay pregnant easily, I’d have sewn the greatest maternity wardrobe ever. I still keep the patterns (I’m not alone, I inherited one from a mother who’s son started college this past year!) I’m not sure why. But I do hold out hope that I’ll use them again (hopefully for myself). And the next time, if I know in advance that I’m going ahead, I may just sew in advance, the hell with it. Of course, I’m in much clearer spot now – I’ve succeeded at having a baby (with an enormous amount of help, that’s in my other blog) and so being confident in sewing is easier than it was before.

The other thing I have to address is the fact that my office is frigid. It’s always cold, so I bundle up, but I don’t want to be wrapped up in ruana til March, no matter how nice of one it may be.

Turtlenecks, scarves, layers, warm wool pants….they all work. I inherited a gorgeous pair of merino wool flannel trousers that FEEL as soft as cotton flannel (they’re unlined). I’m shocked at how nice they are. They’d look yummy with my red capelet and a cashmere turtleneck. Or my slate blue Parisian poncho. They are fairly wide, roomy, pleated high-waist pants (I read in Lucky this month that at vintage stores, they cannot keep the high waisted pleated trousers in stock.) They’re very Katherine, actually.

It’s time to get sewing this week. No matter the reason, it’s good to be sewing again.


More consignment shopping

I took off to my fave consignment boutique again. Shorts and skirts for summer. They had lots in sale, but not a lot of shorts. I got what I could find that fit, and also got a skirt. So two pieces, not bad. I had little time, had the baby with me in her stroller (well, correction, toddler, in stroller). And you know how toddlers shorten your time for shopping!

But I did buy a fabulous cobalt blue purse at another boutique in town. I was leaving church (again with said toddler in stroller) and stopped in another boutique. I wasn’t even really looking for a bag to replace the diaper bag that gave up the ghost – you know I’d planned to sew one. But, there it was, cobalt blue, soft and squooshy, pretty and big. I’m sure it’s not leather, but it’s the softest, most amazing non-leather leather I’ve EVER seen. Billabong is the brand, I hadn’t heard of it, but apparantly, from googling it, it’s quite popular. I liked it. It’s nice. And a smashing summer color!

It’s very WNTW of me too. I’ll use it with the striped skirt I got on Sat. with a green top, the green vintage tulip short sleeved cardi, the green espadrilles and the cobalt bag, with a cobalt scarf (with green on the edges). it’ll be very a chic Monday tomorrow 😉

Everyday Paradise Shopping SWAP

What is it with the shoes?

Am I that skinny? I stepped on the scale after dinner, 110 lbs. My lowest is 109 (in the last 20 years) and that was last month. But that still doesn’t explain how an 8N from three years ago in my collection fits fine, but an 8N now is swimmingly wide! The cork wedges are going back….sigh, my fourth pair back. Hubs didn’t understand “why not go try them on at the store?” because no one carries 8N in the store!! Anyway, it is a drag. I did put cute pink SummerSoles suede insoles in my white sandals in my collection. They’ll be great with the HotPatterns Sugar Babe pants in linen this summer. And they didn’t cost me a dime (this year anyway.)

I also bought some thread and the steam a seam that I needed to finish the Hot Patterns Sugar Babe tube top from my MINI SWAP for this spring. We have til July, but it’s halfway to June now. And I still have the Burda shirtdress in denim to tackle (slooowly, see my previous post.)

I’m itching for a new handbag for summer. I’ve got to go stash diving and see what I have. I think I’ll make a commercial pattern – sometimes that’s easier and gets me over the hump of having to design something. Right now, I need easy.


Shoes again…

I returned the shoes. Two pairs. I kept the green wedge espadrilles with the flower on the wedge though. And I ordered some cork wedges in white. We’ll see if they fit. I ordered an 8N at naturalizer, hoping this particular one fits.

I didn’t do any sewing this weekend – it was a visit family weekend. And this morning I planted a garden in my front yard. I am Italian, that should be all you need to know about a front-yard garden.

So, garden planted, family visited, art festival visited. I’m tired.



So I bought three new pairs of shoes. And decided to keep them all! Eek! Yeah it’s like $160 worth of shoes.

I got skyscraper white platform strappy sandals, with a wood wedge, spring green wedge espadrilles in leather with a flower on the wedge, silver strappy mini wedges. Yum. But I also put my gold strappy heels in my main shoe box, so I’d wear them more. It’s summer. I love shoes. It was just Mother’s Day. I’m justifying it all the way. I paid off my credit card today.

Keep me honest, I must not buy any more stuff right now. We need to save for another semester of prepaid tuition for the baby.

That means no shopping (except rummage sales would be OK.)

Sigh. What IS it? Oh well, I work hard for my money. Shop thrifty. Love shoes. ‘Nuff said.