body art and handmade bathing suits

Welcome, new readers! You can find more of my fiber philosophizing over on my Instagram account, and I'd love to offer you a 20% discount in my pattern shop for joining my newsletter community here. I strongly believe that sewing is self-care, and should be viewed through a lens of mindfulness. I'm glad you're here!


I've come to think of my body as an artistic canvas. I get to drape it with fluid fabric of any colors of my choosing, I get to form that fabric into shapes that I find interesting, flattering, and comfortable. I recently expanded the canvas to include tattoos that hold deep emotional meaning as well as aesthetic intrigue.


Unlike canvas, however, the body is not only subject to the artist's vision and direct hand- it is the work of life itself. There are lines on my body that came about through my own creative agency, and there are lines and contours that are written by growing babies, painful accidents, and joy-filled meals. There are crevices etched by worry, and wrinkles bearing witness to hysterical laughter. We all move through life with a body that is partially our own making, and partially at the whim of time and circumstance. My body is a visual artist in its own right – a storyteller – of all I have lived through. Through making my own clothes, I intend to honor both my artistic agency and lack thereof when it comes to living with this ephemeral body of mine.


I have long admired the work of photographer Jade Beall, and last year, I had the honor of having a photo shoot with my friend Jessi Blakely, as part of the process of opening to the beauty of my body's story. The intent was not purely about my own body acceptance, but to be a strong example to my son, Lachlan, who has some storied lines of his own – the first of which he acquired two days after birth. Three open heart surgeries and countless chest tubes later, a mere glance at his chest shouts of his story, his sorrow, his pain, and his strength. I want him to know that his scars are beautiful, and so I will embrace mine as well.

After the photo shoot, I was on my way to peace with sharing my body with life's paintbrush, but I still had a hurdle to cross: swimwear.


Intellectually, I believe that a bikini body is a body you put a bikini on. Emotionally, I always remember the times I overheard the words “really bad stretch marks." I remember the time I wore a bikini and I overheard a child asking a parent what was wrong with my belly. In front of my kids, I unabashedly state that my squishy skin is a testament to my wondrous ability to grow their very selves and carry them each around for nine months. I feel an obligation to show all the little kids that stretch marks are normal, but I am not made of steel. No advertisements feature women with stretch marks. If you have them, you're expected to cover them up. Unfortunately for me and my short torso, that meant ill-fitting one pieces that made me feel matronly and didn't help me have any artistic agency in my collaboration with the tattoos that life etched on my body.


I never thought sewing myself a Sophie Swimsuit would bring me into harmony with my body, but it has been transformative. The suit's design has helped me find a happy medium between feeling completely exposed to scrutiny and being a representative of love and acceptance of a mother's capacity to stretch and grow. The bikini bottoms cover most of my stretched-out skin, but I am happy to have a nice bit peeking out over the top. I reduced the rise of the bottoms just for that reason, and omitted the waist elastic so that my belly skin doesn't squish out over a tighter waistband. It's like putting on yoga pants instead of an elastic-waist pair. Big difference in comfort.


The details: My measurements are 29” underbust, 34.5” full bust, 29” waist, and 37” hip. I chose to make a size 4 top with a size 5 cup. In the future I will enlarge the cup slightly, as you can see that my measurements are 1/2” more than 5” underbust/full bust difference than recommended for a size 5 cup. I cut out a size 8 bottom.


The fabric is a denim lookalike swimwear spandex from The Fabric Fairy. I have a multi-colored version in my head, but this suit is an elegant (very) wearable muslin.


I can jump in this thing. Play with my kids. Bend over. All while feeling confident, secure, elegant, and creative. No store-bought swimwear can make you feel like that. Thank you, Heather, for being an agent of self-love. You can do it, too. It's not too hard – just one seam after another. #sewingisselfcare

in the background

photo shoot for new patterns!

I have a lot of plates spinning in the air with Sew Liberated right now. Thought I'd share a few in case you're wondering what we do around here when we're not hosing off muddy boys:

- We had a photo shoot yesterday afternoon with Jessi for our two new patterns slatted to come out in a few weeks - the first is a knit tee, the second is a most amazing sundress/dress with several pocket options!

- Patrick and I are interviewing students at NC State on Thursday, looking to bring on a few summer interns and, perhaps, a few more permanent employees come Fall.

- In order to transition the sewing studio into a shared office/creative space, we're knocking down a wall, putting in windows, insulating and finishing the ceiling, and putting in flooring ... starting in just two weeks! This remodel will make such a huge difference in our "cave," as we currently call the space - and it will make it more pleasant to be in come winter. This past winter, a very mild one at that, found us unable to work in there because it was so cold. 

- I have a few more behind-the-scenes sewing-related projects coming up for the rest of this year - details to come - that I'm quite excited about. 

All in all, lots of work, but we're hoping the interns will help us out in a big way this summer, and will allow us to move the business forward in a healthy way that doesn't compromise our ability to spend quality time with the boys. 

winter quiet :: 1

I'm feeling the need to pare down a bit in this space for the next few weeks. Life has a way of letting you know when you're going too fast, taking too much on.  Enter a baby who relapsed into sickness and complete lack of sleep and, well ... I need to step back. Take a breath. Work at a slower pace. Regain a sense of healthy rhythm after a busy holiday. Drink some hot cider. Take a warm bath. Go for a slow walk. Stop typing and take a nap.

I'll be quiet around here, communicating via pictures rather than words. A bit of a break - a rejuvenating winter quiet. From now until mid-January, be well, my friends.

the 26th

More Christmas photos here

behind the scenes 1

cherry blossom belly, 34 weeks, duke gardens
cherry blossom belly taken by Patrick, 34 weeks, Duke gardens

patrick taking a belly photo in duke gardens, by emily
Patrick doing the photo dance while taking the above shot, taken by my friend Emily

There's nothing quite like going for a stroll through blooming gardens with friends and family. We're all equally enraptured by the flowers bursting out all over, and the cameras are constantly wielded. Many different views of the same shot are downloaded and shared, and we get a privileged behind-the-scenes tour of both gardens and people.

I just love how seeing a photograph from a different perspective provides another glimpse at what would have been a forgotten moment - one that would have inevitably melded into the dominant viewpoint, lost to the limitations of human memory.

Everything, it seems, is made better with the presence of loved ones. Even photography.

on needles, shots, and the shutter

thread on fabric

Hello! I'm just peeking out from behind the camera for a sec. Did I tell you that I'm doing the technical photography for the book? Not the photos of the projects themselves, but the step-by-step photo tutorials. And you know what? I think this part is pretty darn fun - at least it beats writing technical instructions. Bleck.

thread on white

I love my cheap-o light box set up. I made one before while in Mexico to combat the mid-winter, low-light blues, but this one is much better. I use four daylight bulbs in shop lights that shine down from above.

We're off to our prenatal appointment this morning. It's the one where they make you drink that sugar stuff and draw your blood to test for gestational diabetes. Ick! Honestly? There's not much worse than getting one's blood drawn, in my opinion. I'd rather run a marathon. (And I have run a marathon, so you know I'm not exaggerating. Heh.) Thankfully the phlebotomist at the birthing center is a jolly lady who knows that wussies like me need to lay down, turn their heads the other way, and be distracted by lively conversation about anything other than needles and getting one's blood sucked out by one of the aforementioned devilish contraptions. :)

It's a wonder I took up sewing, isn't it? What with all of these needles that surround me at all times!

Soon enough, I'll be back to my happy needles, hopefully getting some good shots (with the camera, of course.)

never in a million years part two. the cat speaks.

amelie on the new lens
Dearest Very Large Animals Who Have Warm Laps,

Amelie here. I thought I'd bring you up to date on the latest news from the Amelie-Timoun Kingdom, since Meg seems to be a bit preoccupied with all of the new things that Patrick brought back from his trip to the U.S. in Timoun's traveling bed (I think they call it a suitcase.) There's this new thing that she's been sticking in my face - she said something about a camera lens. She's been babbling on in that odd language of yours about the magnificence of the low aperture number that allows her to take photos with an awesome depth-of-field in low-light conditions. Yawn. It's time for me to take a little nap. Here are a few more pictures to keep you occupied while I doze.

vintage apron find

bag of goodies from the other side!

Okay, that was a nice nap. Thanks for your patience. I know you humans like to be doing things all the time and neglect your hourly naps.  Personally, I don't understand how you get through a 24 hour day without sleeping for 16 hours of it. You should try out my circadian rhythm. I think you'll like it.

Well, I really should get to the point because before you know it, siesta time will once again be upon us. Meg wanted me to tell you that she had a lovely time reading through all 347 comments with your name suggestions for the new apron, and that she has finally settled on a name! While my own vote was clearly for Amelie, she ended up picking Elsie Mae.

A big congratulations to Melody, who suggested the name Elsie in honor of her own great-grandmother.  Meg went ahead and slapped Mae onto one end because she "just couldn't resist!" Humans. You all are so funny about your naming obsession.

Goodness me! It's nap time again. I must curl up immediately into a ball. Wishing you all a purrfect evening!

Paw print,