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


knits for baby girl - korrigan and retro baby smock

 Knits for baby girl - Korrigan on the left and the Retro Baby Smock on the right. The newborn-sized Korrigan was knit with unlabeled yarn from my stash, and the Retro Baby Smock is an unabashed copy of Alicia Paulson's darling version - info here 


It was such a huge leap to decide to have another baby. Back and forth we went, between not wanting to upset the (currently) calm waters of parenting two, to thinking about what it might be like as our children grow into adults and Lachlan's half a heart begins to grow weary. What will our family look like in twenty years? Thirty? How could we possibly have a baby while Lachlan is in the hospital for his third surgery this coming summer? Folly, for sure. And what if … what if we had another baby with a heart defect?

And yet. We wanted another baby, as much for ourselves as for our boys. We knew we had a short window. We couldn't have a newborn, and we couldn't have a mobile baby. But we could have a four to six month-old baby, right? The baby could accompany us in the wrap while we sat with our big boy, in that oddly plastic-like blue recliner that they so generously (ha!) provide for weary parents of heart babies, while we held our big boy's hand, sang to him, and read to him while he recovered from surgery.

I find “expecting” to be such an odd way of describing pregnancy. These past two pregnancies have been nothing like my first. With my first, I knew nothing of the process of pregnancy or birth (or parenthood), but I did fully “expect” for things to go well. I was bull-headed in my expectations, I'd say. Natural birth? Check. Breastfeeding? Check. I just went down that list checking things off.

With my second pregnancy, the shit hit the fan at the halfway point. I went from “expecting” normal to not knowing if my baby would survive. It was a heart-wrenching, soul-searching, balls-out emotional journey, that pregnancy. I'm still not sure if I can find the words to describe to you what that was like. Think tsunami crashing into the home you once knew, pulling you out to sea and depositing you on an island where you had to rebuild your emotional home from scratch.

You think you're alone in your sorrow, but then you look around and see other islands close by. You step into the water and wade across the shallow, sandy-bottomed channel separating your island from the next. Then you see her. Another mother, walking your way. Another mother, her own hands rough and blistered from rebuilding her own emotional home after the storm of parental sorrow. Perhaps she miscarried. Perhaps she had a difficult birthing experience. Perhaps breastfeeding didn't work out. Perhaps she couldn't soothe her colicky baby. Perhaps she bore a child with health challenges. Perhaps she was gradually worn down by the daily rain and wind of parenting a child whose behavior is not in-line with societal expectations. No matter the reason. We are never alone. The very act of becoming a mother is an opening of our lives to the ebb and flow of sorrow and joy. The respite is found in coming to a place of peace in our hearts, knowing that this ebb and flow is a natural and communal experience.

So here I am. Joyfully expecting my third – most likely our last – baby. Once again I've opened my heart to the ebb and flow of sorrow and joy. It would be untruthful for me to not mention that I truly desire a natural, peaceful birth and an easy transition to a family of five. I need to be honest and disclose that it (often) irks me that our baby girl has to be monitored by a pediatric cardiologist just because her brother has a heart defect. Sometimes, I desperately want to scream at the allopathic medical institution to just leave us the hell alone. But that is not our reality. After all, that very institution gifted my child with life - an amazingly rich one at that. The medical and the “natural” are contradictions that are surprisingly intertwined in our family's life.

All that to say that I don't really know what to “expect” anymore, but not in an exasperated, hopeless way. Quite the opposite. I do know that there are certain, small things that I can control, and many more larger things that I can't. I do know that, no matter what happens, there is a certain peace that comes with knowing that there will be both hard times and wonderful times, and that this experience is one that I share with all mothers, past and present. I do expect the opportunity to grow as a person, knowing that peace is not an external state, but rather my inner serenity. I know that hard times are natural, and will circle back once again to shining delight.

maternity sewing


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. 


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.


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!


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


Hi, I'm Charlotte and I'm guest blogging in this space for Meg while she prepares for Quilt Market this month.  I feel honored to be writing here on this very page where our special friendship began.  I started reading Meg's blog before Finn was even born and sometime during his early months I realized that Meg and I lived in the same town, with boys just a few months apart.  So I wrote to her, and it felt something like writing to Punky Brewster when I was seven years old, only instead of a junky fan club postcard and Punky headshot, I got a playdate with Meg, the crafting and parenting rockstar. (Guess what?  Despite being starstruck in the beginning, she's just like you and me!) We found some common ground.  We got to know one another.  Then we got pregnant at the same time again, this time with Lachlan and my little girl, Kenzie.  We rode that rollercoaster together, and our bond strengthened.

Meg is one of my best friends, and when I thought of what I could say during my time in this space, I kept coming back to Meg herself.  I hope to share the things I love about Meg with you, and give you a more intimate look at the woman behind the blog.

This week we headed to our favorite river spot together, me with my four kids and Meg with her two. We hope to make this a weekly adventure through the seasons and this week's visit didn't disappoint, with clouds and rain and sun all in the same visit!  The rain didn't dampen our spirits and even made the views more beautiful.

I suppose to an untrained eye, nothing remarkable was happening.  Kids played.  Kids got wet.  Boots got muddy.  Insects and snails were captured.  There were smiles (a lot) and tears (a few) and lots and lots of snacks for our busy adventurers.

It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind.  We could spend that extra half hour cleaning house or doing one more work task or simply  choose to stay inside on a slightly damp day to avoid the mess and fuss.  But we wouldn't want that, now would we, Lachlan?

No.  Because the outdoors has lessons to teach us.  My own over-active brain slows down and breathes deeply.  Questions bubble forth from my older ones with regularity - do trees have DNA?  How do the leaves in the river affect the ecosystem?  Did the rocks erode from rain or from the river when it was higher?  They relax and open themselves fully to the experience, with creativity and problem solving blending into one seamless experience.  And Kenzie?  Well, she's been hesitant around steps lately.  My house has six sets of steps inside (yes, six!  they vary from 1-3 steps all the way to a full flight) and she was refusing to go up or down them, protesting to be helped each time, even transitioning from room to room.  But outside?

Despite their size and irregularity, she conquered that fear.  Thank you, nature!  And thank you, Meg, for bringing this city-girl out into the wild every week and reminding me that we have so much to learn just by being present.

listless list-lover

the list

I grumbled and groaned about making this list. I usually love lists, but making a list when you don't yet have that crazy nesting instinct is akin to making an amazing batch of homemade ice cream when you have a dairy allergy. Um, yeah. My words reveal the inner workings of my psyche. Mostly ice cream thoughts. The pot of beans on the stove and fresh tortillas from La Superior will have to suffice.

But, alas, it is time for The List. The "Things-We-Must-Do-Before-The-Baby-Arrives List." We all write one, don't we? So we sat down (and Patrick put pen to paper) while we rattled off this here smorgasbord of tasks. Some things are more important than others (such as "write birthing plan" versus "check out good fiction reads from the library") but we ultimately found the list to be helpful. Since, in a few short weeks, life is going to grab us by the ankles, lift us up, turn us upside down and shake us until everything falls out of our pockets, having a list keeps us working diligently in the present moment rather than worrying too much about what the future holds.

My parents, who will be coming to stay with us for as long as they are needed, will be glad to know that on the top of that list, priority-wise, is making our dungeon basement a hospitable place for guests. We're even trying to find a used TV and get cable for my dad so that he can watch his basketball/football/baseball/golf (or whatever it is that they play this time of year?) My mom, on the other hand, is happy with books and a nice kitchen in which to cook. Clean out fridge. Check. Mop weeks (months?) of evidence that a toddler cooks in our kitchen off of the kitchen floor. Check. As for books, Mom, Patrick and I do need some good works of fiction. Our house is a House of Books. Unfortunately, most of them have titles like "Bretton Woods: Birth of a Monetary System" and "Haiti and the United States: The Psychological Moment." Among all of Patrick's books can be found smatterings of my own, most of which are non-fiction as well, though less verbose and somewhat more practical, in that they're largely books about early childhood education or crafting.

All of that to say - can I have your recommendations for good fiction reads? We'll be spending a lot of time by Lachlan's cribside in the ICU, and when he's sleeping, a good book would be a healthy way to pass the time, I think. (As a side note, I'm really enjoying this book as a reference for good books to bring into Finn's life. As such, Finn's book collection is way more interesting than mine!)

In the space of a few days, I went from dreading the list to going through it at full-steam. Does that mean I'm nesting? Whatever it means, I have a laundry room to organize. And a garage to clean out. And a bathroom floor to scrub. And now I'm happy about that.


something to remember

with my babies

A fleeting state, this is. But such a sweet one. I wonder what he will think when the baby is on the outside. He says "Baby Lala, nap too?" Yes, sweet one, Baby Lachlan will take naps, too. Then his eyelashes begin to droop gracefully, the upper lashes meeting the lower lashes, and he drifts off to a dreamland full of babies, choo choo trains, and cats. His hands curl next to his cheek, and I notice that the baby has the hiccups. I (gracelessly) roll over and out of the bed.


a toddler backpack - bag of tricks for airplane travel

eh-pane fuhfuh

I can think of several alternate titles for this post:

"Pregnant mother travelling alone with toddler "lap child" with little room on her lap makes a bag of tricks to assure that she and said toddler arrive at destination without disolving into a puddle of frustrated tears"

... oh shucks, that one's too long, just like our cross-country flight on Monday.

"eh-pane Fuhfuh"

... oh shucks, you wouldn't understand that one without a translation. That's what Finn calls his backpack. Translation: Airplane Finny.

Finn is really looking forward to our trip out to California on Monday. He will repeatedly tell you several things about it. First, we'll be riding on an airplane. "Fly!" he says. Then, he'll say something about Mima and Papa's red car. Good. We'll keep it at that, then. If you were to ask me about our upcoming trip, I would also use simple words like "sit," "uncomfortable," "no space," "no Patrick," "wiggly boy," and "same airplane, eight hours, no escape."

Not one to complain, though, (hah!) I thought that I should just make the most of it. For me, that meant sewing something cute and filling it with never-before-seen items of interest to keep both of our attitudes positive during the long journey.

toddler backpack

toddler backpack - back

Pattern: Made by Rae's Toddler Backpack

Fabric: scrap of cushiony faux leather perfect for the aviator look, plaid wool, and knit interlock for airplane applique, all from stash.

Modifications: Added the airplane applique that I drew myself (I think it looks like the belly of a sea lion, buy hey, I did it with an 18 month-old on my lap, who wanted to help me draw, too.) Hand-drew his name applique as well.

Impressions: Oh, I liked this pattern a lot. It came together in an afternoon with Finn at my feet (or on my lap) during the entire process. The results are super cute, too. I would have made the straps a tad shorter to accommodate his little bod a bit better, but it will do. He'll grow into it very soon.

And here's what's inside - a collection of thingamajigs only to be seen on airplane rides.

animals for the airplane ride

Tiny cheepo plastic animals.

repositionable stickers for airplane ride

Re-positionable stickers and card stock.

mini slinky and music box for airplane ride

A mini-slinky and a mini wind-it-yourself music box.

new books for airplane ride

A handful of new books: Harry the Dirty Dog, Freight Train , Winter Wonderland, and A Tree For All Seasons. Not pictured is Usborne's 1001 Things to Spot in the Town.

I'm also throwing in our beeswax crayons and a bit of play dough.

I'll supplement all of this non-edible fun with lots of fun edibles. I'm hoping to score an organic lollipop or two, along with some yummy muffins, and crackers. Maybe he'd like some string cheese! He's never had that before. Of course, there are the old favorites that take a while to eat, too: steamed carrots and apple slices, raisins, and hard-boiled eggs.

Bag of tricks, please don't fail me. Off we go!


and he looks like his big brother ...

little lachlan, 25 weeks

We spent most of yesterday afternoon at the hospital between the fetal cardiologist and the ultrasound folks. What we got was good news - Lachlan still has HLHS (drat) but he is growing so well, and does not appear to have any other issues other than that faulty left ventricle of his. For the second time, the sonographer mentioned how beautiful his brain looked. We also learned that his particular heart physiology makes him a good candidate for the surgeries.

And ... we got a good look at his little face, which looks so much like Finn's. Last time, he had his arms and umbilical cord covering his face as he slept, but this time, we got to see him exploring his cord with his hands and practicing nursing movements with his mouth!

little lachlan, 25 weeks

Check out that tongue!

little lachlan, 25 weeks

It's good to put a face to all of those kicks.

A few unrelated, but important, mentions:

  • Anie, of Sweetbug Farm, has generously offered to host this year's Holiday Traditions Exchange. Pop on over to her blog to sign up, and read about her own experience with last year's exchange here. Thank you so much, Anie!
  • I've updated the rug sneak peek post with some more info on how I'm going about the process. Sorry for being so brief and mysterious yesterday!


getting to the heart of it all


Over a month ago now (the longest month of my life), we were sitting in a windowless ultrasound room, listening to a doctor purse her lips and say "I'm concerned about your baby's heart."

And there it was. The phrase that would change our lives forever. We held hands. Somehow we were led through the labyrinth of the women's hospital to the children's wing, and into a pediatric cardiologist's office. The echocardiogram confirmed what the doctor had suspected; Lachlan has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, or HLHS.

We had just met this beautiful baby boy on screen, seen his long fingers and watched as he went from bouncing around to curling his arms up over his face for a little snooze.

Another boy. Everyone always says that each child is unique, that siblings can be as different as night and day. Finn began his life gently; I sang to him as I held him in my arms and nursed him right away. Patrick held his tiny body to his chest where he took his first nap, listening to the beating of his daddy's heart, rocking away with the rise and fall of his chest.  

Lachlan will likely be whisked away right after birth, poked and prodded, given strong medication to keep his heart delivering blood to his body, and put on a respirator. Within a few days, he will have his first open heart surgery. I don't know when I'll be able to hold my baby in my arms. It could be weeks. All of this so he can have a chance of surviving in this world. If he makes it through the first few months, he will have another open heart surgery, followed by a third when he is a toddler. My heart really breaks when I write this, but it is nothing compared to the pain and suffering he will have to endure because, well, his heart is literally broken. I'll just swallow my figurative stuff for now.

So that's what's been going on behind the scenes in our family. I'm finally able to write about it. At first we were just so shell shocked that I didn't know what to think - and words don't come easily when nothing makes sense in your head. Here we are now, our reality adjusted, mentally preparing for a very different kind of welcome for our second child. We hold to a cautious optimism that Lachlan will come out winning in this coin toss, able to live a joyful childhood and adulthood despite having half of a heart. We will probably go elsewhere to have the surgeries performed, most likely Philadelphia or Boston - the hospitals with the best success rates for treating HLHS in the country. Here is a link to a series of six videos put out by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia about the disease and its course of treatment.

Most days now we're doing pretty well, allowing ourselves to get comfortable with uncertainty, to find peace in the midst of circumstances that have spun us like tops into a different life trajectory. Lachlan bounces around, full of life, in my womb. Finn lifts my shirt and says "Hi Lala," waving to his little brother. We make oat bran muffins and hang out at the park. I clean the house in an odd case of nesting - we're not likely to be able to return home until (at best) three weeks to a month after he is born. Life goes on. A different sort of life. A tender life, a more fragile life, but a life where joy and love is still possible in each and every present moment.

I refuse to let the lack of a functioning left ventricle define who Lachlan is, and who he might become. He is a person, not a "hypoplast," a term medical professionals use to refer to children with this condition. He is my son, my sweetheart, a little baby, a being full of potential, a unique individual. I refuse to let worry move in and push out the ability to enjoy his presence in this world. He may be with us for a short while, he may live to have his own family; what matters is the preciousness of every moment, the connections made in moment after moment.

So I'm not sure how much I want to talk about, or dwell on, Lachlan's medical issues in this space - despite the warm support we have consistently received from you, friends as well as readers and commenters. We will be living through many tough times in the coming year especially, and I cannot keep that fact from seeping into my writing here. But I need a place where I can focus on positive, beautiful moments in our lives, where I can continue to share what I make with my hands. This blog helps me connect to a creative, caring community, which serves as an anchor as turbulent waters toss me about.

So yeah. I won't rename the blog "Lachlan's Heart," just as I wouldn't rename it "Finn's Really Bizarre-Looking Toes." They are my boys, little beings defined by so much more than their physiology. And you know what? Sew Liberated is taking on another meaning. In creating, I find peace, a state of liberation from worry, from the false assumption that we really have any control over this experience we call Life. It's a meditative process, working with your hands.

Sending love to you all,