sewing

looking back on squam

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It was so good it was almost surreal, like a sweet dream gently nudged into wakefulness by the rooster's crow. The dream was fluid, the conversations were lucid and uninterrupted by the needs of the small people, unencumbered by The List that always barks at me from the sidelines like an over-zealous basketball coach.

In the dream, I was surrounded by my people. Friends who understood my passions, my ideals, and my reality. The food - oh, the divine food - which was summoned forth with nothing less than a magic wand at each and every meal, and dishes which were spiffied up by the dish faeries that don't seem to live near my house - it was certainly a dream, wasn't it?

Yes. A dream for which I am very grateful to have experienced. I am so thankful that I have a partner who fully supported me in this time of creative renewal, and who, along with my parents, surrounded my boys with love and much fun during my absence. Patrick had even done all the laundry while I was gone. Some sort of superdad, right? Mind you, it did take me a day to clean up after all of their fun, but at least we all had clean clothes!

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 I didn't realize until I returned home how very few photos I took while there. I was just enjoying myself and didn't think about documenting it. You can get a sense of the surroundings from Amanda. Here are just a few of the things that I made  - a spray that now resides in my herbal first aid kit, made under the tutelage of the gentle Holly Bellebuono, and Mama Acorn and Baby Sapling, made during my class with the spunky Phoebe Wahl

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How I love Phoebe's work! I've saved all of her illustrations that have appeared in Taproot - you can see some in our studio in this photo. I purchased her kitchen print at the Squam Art Fair and promptly put it up in a frame in our kitchen when I returned home. Finn said to me that very evening,"Mama, I love looking at that picture. I love how the little girl is playing while her Mama is making her cookies."  To me, that means two things: first, Phoebe has succeeded in creating a piece of art that is warm and inviting for all ages, and second, that Finn wishes that I'd make more cookies for him. Noted.

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I have a new crafting obsession - creating soft, posable figures around wire armatures. This doll is totally hand sewn and utterly spontaneous in her formation. She kind of emerged from my hands as her own little self, inspiring the kind of quizzical awe that mothers feel after birthing their child. "Oh, it's you who has been in there this whole time - I made you, but I didn't have a hand in any of these details. You turned out pretty darn cool regardless." 

I'm now equipped to make little animal soft sculptures, too. (Fingers crossed.) I'm thinking a mobile for baby girl might be nice. Finn has already put in his request for a dinosaur.

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Here I am at home again. Awake, and enjoying it. Squam was a rejuvenating and inspirational dream come true.


maternity sewing

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Things are getting bigger around here. I've never been one of those twiggy-preggy ladies, despite my petite build, but I'm at peace with it this third time around. More fat to put in that supermilk, right? 

What I'm NOT at peace with, this third time around, is maternity clothes. Is yuckblah a word? Because I don't want much of anything to do with an actual maternity wardrobe. Oh, yes - the first pregnancy was so exciting. Jeans with a big, stretchy waistband! Shirts with ruching on the sides! Now, though? I don't want to be bothered by packing away my normal clothes and wading through the attic to find that bag of winter maternity stuff that must be up there somewhere. Give me a bella band and my already-in-rotation knit wardrobe from my Craftsy class. Add in a few cute tops that will be equally wearable post-partum and beyond. 

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Enter my Schoolhouse Tunics, slightly modified. I took my regular size 6, dropped the bodice by 1 inch to easily accommodate the extra "umph" up top (as well as to make it even easier as a nursing top) and took the size 10 skirt and fit it into the size 6 bodice by making the darts deeper. More room, but not so much that I won't wear this after I'm back to an actual size 6.

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And good thing, because I love these fabrics. Both are Nani Iro double gauze. The white is called "Little Letter," and I can't find the name of the blue fabric, but they are from the same collection. I'm afraid you'll be seeing a lot of these fabrics, because I have plenty left over to make clothes for my little one!

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And finally a picture of me that I really like, blur and all, taken by Finn. 


february 18

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

The two boys from North Carolina got a full day of snowfall, enjoying it greatly in their throw-on-whatever-looks-warm-and-perhaps-waterproof, decidedly NOT New England snow outfits. Hot cocoa was imbibed. The wood stove was fired up for the first time this winter. Lots of board games were played, and I swear that my knees are scuffed from "playing cars" with Lachlan, pushing them all over the house. 

Today, some thanks, thoughts, and a few sew-y links:

  • I wanted to thank you for the toasty warm reception that you've given the new patterns. I'm so glad you love them! 
  • I'm so excited that Natalie Chanin is teaching a class with Craftsy: Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric. I hesitated about .3 nanoseconds before signing up. Love her aesthetic, and sewing by hand is something I can do in between pushing matchbox cars around the floor.
  • Speaking of aesthetics, I loved Sarai's post about the spiritual practice of sewing
  • Amy Butler put together a little fashion show which showcases her newest line of fashion fabrics and my Mariposa Tee is featured starting at 3:45. Fun! 

the newest patterns are finally here!

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

The Clara Dress, Gathering Apron, Esme Top, and Simple Skinny Jeans patterns are in my hands, ready to package up and send to you! 

There's a big "first" with this spring collection - all four patterns include a full-length video tutorial along with the standard written instructions. Thanks to my darling intern, Danica, who stars in the videos and walks you through the construction of each. 

The Clara Dress

Oh my. I think I've succeeded in designing "The Meg Dress," as my mom would call it. It's super comfortable with its elastic waist, plus it has pockets to hold all of Finn and Lachlan's treasures. I have my spring dresses in the line up already here in North Carolina with the help of tights and a cardigan. The sample shown is made in a Japanese double guaze cotton. I'm loving the possibility of it in this fabric, with my mustard tights and cowboy boots.

The Gathering Apron

Totally made with the feathered ladies in mind. Also while daydreaming about all the produce I'll be able to gather this summer and fall from my garden. Did you like the Emmeline Apron? The Gathering Apron wins, hands down. It has a HUGE front pocket (the entire skirt is one big pocket) and the adjustable bust details make it super flattering and really accommodating of all sizes. Looks amazing in all of Kaffe Fassett's Shot Cottons.

The Esme Top

A sweet, go-to top that will surely rival the Schoolhouse Tunic. It's easy to make and easy to wear, and goes great with the Simple Skinny Jeans. My favorite versions are made in the new rayon challis substrate that Westminster Fibers has - particularly Valori Well's Novella. This fabric is so soft and hangs so beautifully. Novella's understated prints work perfectly for highlighting the simple details of the Esme.

Simple Skinny Jeans

Really. They are SO simple to make. Think leggings, but with jean-like back pocket detail. These were modeled after my favorite pair of maternity transition pants, which had a wide elastic waistband, giving them a comfortable fit all the time. I'd suggest making them in a stretch denim or stretch chambray. Lura's Fabric shop has a great selection of stretch denim, plus you can order swatches to make sure you get the color you're looking for. I've also had luck finding good stretch denim at my local Hancock Fabrics. Stretch denims aren't knits, they're wovens, but they have some spandex/Lycra content which makes them movey and groovy - exactly what you want in a pair of skinny jeans.

Thank you to Jessi for the wonderful photography!

And now I flop on the couch with half a bar of dark chocolate and sleep until the boys return from their afteroon at Mima and Papa's house. I'm so very grateful for your support of this sewing pattern thing of mine. :)


luminaries + huge sale

luminaries quilt

Since I couldn't find the perfect quilt pattern for my bedroom, I designed one. Then I had my talented friend and coworker, Kim, work up the templates and make this one. Because, let's face it, it would have probably taken me three years to sew this king-sized beauty myself.

Kim, on the other hand, has boys who are adults rather than toddlers. So, thank you, Kim!

I provided the bed and the little boys for jumping on said bed.

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

You can make the Luminaries pattern in any size you'd like. I think it would be darling as baby bedding - and perfect for a lap throw to give the living room sofa a splash of color. Quilted pillows is another idea. Or - work up the star pattern in the required yardage to make the most amazing skirt for yourself! It's a pattern that's friendly for quilting beginners.

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

luminaries quilt

 This quilt was made up in scraps of fabric by two of my favorite designers: Gennine Zlatkis and Anna Maria Horner.

And wait - good news - I'm having a whopping pattern sale right now! 40% off ALL patterns. I have four new patterns coming out on January 1st, so I need your help to make space in my teeny warehouse. Please! This is a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of a sale, so stock up now for your own sewing pursuits or for gifts for your creative friends or partners. The sale will run until Wednesday, December 5th, whenever I feel like going to bed that night!

Happy sewing, friends!

P.S. Thanks to Jessi for the beautiful photos of my boys - I mean, the quilt!


wrapping finn's book of words + ruby star wrapping

Ruby Star Wrapping

Though I don't think I've purchased a roll of wrapping paper (ever) in my adult life, it's not like I've made up for that by presenting gifts in beautifully-made, recycled wrapping. Until this very day, I have not been motivated (or had the time, last-minute gift-crafter that I am) to put any creative energy into gift presentation. Wrap gifts in the boys' silks? Yes. Use a old gift bag? Sure.

But I have had the intention to make my own set of fabric gift bags for a long time. Me + fabric + sewing are a good combo! Ruby Star Wrapping, by fabric-design maven Melody Miller and Allison Tannery and my friend April from Sew to Speak came together to make that happen. Sew to Speak is hosting a book tour for Ruby Star Wrapping, so be sure to enter the book/fabric/notions giveaway by leaving a comment on the Sew to Speak blog!

Ruby Star Wrapping

I am doing my very, very best to get a head start on the gift crafting this time around. I made this little book out of a recycled cracker box and some paper and crafted this right under Finn's nose - he has no idea that this little apple book is destined for his little hands (it's tiny - about four inches tall and 3 inches wide.) It will be his Book of Words - a place for me to write down random words that he'd like to know how to read.

Ruby Star Wrapping

Ruby Star Wrapping

Ruby Star Wrapping

The book was the perfect gift for the Little Snack Sack tutorial in Ruby Star Wrapping. Simple to sew up, and totally reusable as a sandwich or snack sack. I did make sure all my edges were properly finished so that this little sack will withstand the transition from gift wrapping to lunch basket gear, with all the washing cycles that go along with that.

Ruby Star Wrapping

Enter to win your own copy of Ruby Star Wrapping over at the Sew to Speak blog, and follow along with other tour participants below:

Monday, Nov. 26 - Sew To Speak blog. 
Tues, Nov. 27 - Mary Dugan of Molly Flanders
Wed. Nov. 28 - Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated
Thurs. Nov. 29 - Kara of Me and Elna
Fri. Nov. 30 - We will announce the first winner on the Sew To Speak blog
Sat. Dec. 1st - Amanda of Sasikirana Handmade
Sunday Dec. 2nd - April Rhodes 
Monday Dec. 3rd - Sew To Speak 
Tues. Dec. 4th - Made by Rae
Wed. Dec 5 - Ericka of Low Beam Studios

Thurs. Dec. 6 - Emily of The Boy Trifecta

Friday  Dec. 7 - and finally the second winner announced on Sew To Speak blog!

projects in progress

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:: Second Milo on the needles :: Snow Pixie hats on the cutting table ::

:: Other project-themed books ::

These handful of days have been off-kilter. Following an unprecedented string of good days, in which everything seemed to flow, the boys (and myself, no doubt) trudged through the last two days with low energy, sapped patience, and a general grumpy malaise. 

This time, though, I have a peace about it. I've come to expect these days, just as I expect the perfect ones. It even feels, dare I say ... comforting. I feel grateful to pass through very human situations together as a family; grateful to learn about each other and let each other experience a full spectrum of feelings. 

It also feels good to hop into a project in the creative space that opens up after a patch of ho-humness. There's plenty to do in the studio between now and Christmas, and the gift-making is kicking into gear. I'm also really liking my circular saw, and have my eyes on some of the projects in this book once the chicken coop is done.

And - I can't recommend highly enough Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert. It speaks to me right where I am as parent just starting off on the homeshooling journey, which can be totally daunting if you see all the ideas that can be done out there on the internet and all of the facts that can be passed on to a child. Here's an exceprt:

"Try to avoid pulling attention away from your child's project (his deepest interest) with random, one-off activities. Save casual field trips and similar activities for times between projects. The less you distract your child with random activities and interruptions, the more engaged and focused he'll be. You're giving him the opportunity to stay longer with what he cares about most; you're giving him the chance to build something really meaningful." 

Love.

Back to my projects. Have a wonderful weekend!


a chat with fat quarter shop & hurricane relief

Thanks to Chelsey at the Fat Quarter Shop for stopping by to chat about my booth! The other first place booth winners are interviewed, too - and the Sew Liberated segment starts at 3:10.

And ...

I wanted to share with you that Mariah of Playful Learning is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sales of any of her (wonderful) e-courses to hurricane relief between now and November 20. Learn more here. How generous is that?!

Another opportunity to provide for those in the storm's path - donate quilts or blankets to keep folks warm - details on the Fat Quarter Shop's blog.


back in the saddle

First things first - I can't start writing before I send out a heartfelt thank-you to my dear friend Charlotte, who kept my blog filled with beautiful pictures and thoughtful words while I was getting ready for Quilt Market. The Beatles were right - you can get by with a little (or a lot - in my case!) help from your friends.

And thank you to you, dear readers, for understanding my need to be absent from this space in order to spend any "extra" time I had focused on my boys. It's all a juggling act, and, for me at least, I just have to cross things off of my list and not look back. These boys are only little once.

Quilt Market Fall 2012

But the sewing gig? Not too bad. My Quilt Market right-of-passage complete, I can now reflect on the logistical nightmare of it with a touch of comedic hindsight. Oh my, I do hate logistics and  event planning. This I now know about myself. The late shipment of my booth? The "missing" 1x4 studs on one section of my booth wall? Golly, man. Once again, though, my "at-least-we're-not-in-the-hospital" mantra got me through just fine. Lack of logistical finesse in type B personalities is always made up for by a "whatever, it will all work out" attitude to snags in the road.

Enough of the getting there and back part, though. You probably want to know about what happened once the Sew Liberated booth was set up, right? Here it is!

Quilt Market Fall 2012

This was the fun part - the decorating! You can also see four of my five new patterns on display - the blue dress, the colorful quilt, the white apron, and the yellow top. I assure you that they do have more creative names than color descriptions! They're due out by January 1st. I'll certainly let you know more once we're closer to the release date. And check out my logo poster, c/o my neighbors at Spoonflower - did you know they now do custom printed wallpaper? This stuff is great, let me tell you. It worked superbly for my "kraft paper" logo, although I'll likely choose another design for a wall in my house ...

Quilt Market Fall 2012

Yep! It's true! Sew Liberated is taking sewing patterns into the next generation with free video tutorials for our newest garment patterns. You'll get to watch my amazing intern, Danica, sew up everthing from the first to the last step!

Quilt Market Fall 2012

Just after the booth prize committe showed up an awarded us with a 1st prize in the single booth category, I posed with the giganticus ribbon and the nifty plaque (that would find a home next to my trophy for the free throw tournament I won in 6th grade, if I still had it ...) But wow, I totally wasn't expecting this! There were so many other booths there that were utterly beautiful and I'm sure they deserve this prize more than I do.

Quilt Market Fall 2012

I can't go on, though, without mentioning Kim. Kim Ventura has been working at Sew Liberated for several years now, and I can most certainly say that, without her help, Quilt Market wouldn't have been possible. (And a lot of other things wouldn't have been possible either - see that quilt there? She's the genius behind the quilt.) Kim stepped up and, though we'd worked together for years, we'd never met in person. (She's in Ohio and has helped out with sample sewing and techical writing since she tested the Schoolhouse Tunic back in the day!) She got on a plane and flew to Houston, helped set up the booth, introduce Sew Liberated to fabric shop owners who we hadn't met before, and just kept me in such good spirits throughout the five days we were in Houston. Such a kind, thoughtful, creative person! (I'm bummed this picture didn't turn out great, but it makes me happy just looking at it - thank you, Kim!)

Quilt Market Fall 2012

Here I am with Christine Haynes, the easy going and fun sewing teacher, fellow Craftsy instructor and pattern designer! Christine works at Sew L.A. - a great sewing studio in Los Angeles.

Quilt Market Fall 2012

I met lots of very lovely people at Market, including mother-and-daughter team April and Anita, who own Sew To Speak in Columbus, OH. We had dinner with Rae, hobnobbed with fabric companies, and got to know many other amazing designers. I only with I had had more time to take more pictures of other booths! It's a real visual explosion, this Quilt Market thing. You leave with way more things on your "to-make" list than you had when you arrived.

I'm pleased to say that everything is now unpacked, my studio has been spiffed up for some actual sewing, and things are back to normal once again.

Well, if you count bringing home six baby chicks on Thursday as normal, that is!