Friday, April 18, 2014

{Flourish} a Marissa dress

the Marissa dress, pattern by Sis Boom

for Aria

Voila, my third Marissa dress!  This excellent pattern by Sis Boom was my very first handsewn dress and remains my favorite.  It has some special style details and really smart construction.  I absolutely recommend it!

fabric from Pink Chalk!

You can find the pattern (sizes 6 months to 12 years) and the fabric I used at Pink Chalk Fabrics.  Or you could find the fabric...  With Anna Maria Horner's Dowry collection on sale for $8.95, the Flourish print is now out of stock.  Bummer.  Dowry Dresden Bulbs would be a nice substitute or browse fabrics by Amy Butler for another large scale floral print or choose something more springy by Cori Dantini.  I'm sure you can manage (wink!).

tulle for fluff, lining for comfort

The Marissa dress pattern includes a lined bodice, but not a lined skirt. Each time I've made this dress, I've wanted a really full finish, so I add tulle and a muslin skirt lining to keep the tulle off her legs.

modified Marissa dress

The dress finishes with a smooth lining if you follow the assembly order for attaching the skirt to the bodice that I detailed here.  And I always use an invisible zipper too.  It's what I'm used to!

in Flourish Cherry by Anna Maria Horner

My favorite thing about this version is the way the linear floral pattern gathers up into the skirt.  It definitely emphasizes the twirly, girly skirt and pretty waist.  Looking forward to seeing Aria in it on Sunday!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

a Scrappy Finish

Simple Strings finished

Are there many things as satisfying as using your own two hands to turn something unwanted or leftover into an object with function and form?  Scraptacularity is exactly that - when scrappy potential reveals itself. 

zigzag quilting

This quilt is composed of blue and green strip scraps, plus a generous helping of neutrals.  It's destined for a nephew's twin bed.  I cut all my scraps into straight strips ranging from 1" to 3.5" wide, in even 1/4" increments.  The 1" and 1.25" strings I sewed together side-by-side to make wider strips.  Then, all the strips were pieced randomly until they were wide enough for this bed quilt.  Lastly I joined the rows together.  Very user-friendly.  Really the cutting part was the most work.

repurposed backing

For the backing I was excited to use a large piece of fabric that's been sitting around since I made Liam's bed quilt.   This soft blue/green stripe fabric was his duvet cover.  There was nothing wrong with it and it was such a huge piece of fabric, that I hoped it'd come in handy eventually.  So perfect with this quilt!

zigzag scrappy binding

Did you notice the quilting?  Zigzags!   To keep things easy I followed the row seams.  So simple and so durable this way.  Do you know how forgiving zigzags are?  Zigzag quilting should get more love, me thinks.  And for the binding... more scraps!  Detecting a theme?  But really, I do like low volume geometrics for binding.  Those pezzy prints are especially great.

A scrappy twin quilt

I'm quite happy with this finish and with the timing.   Tomorrow I plan to start Aria's Easter dress... and hopefully to finish it too.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

on this land

Blogging offers such an eensy teensy window into a person's life.  Every blogger has his or her sharing criteria (ex. this is a sewing blog), plus so much control as to when and how she shares.  Mostly that's all fine and dandy and makes the blogosphere a comfortable place to be!  But other times I gasp, they don't even know about X, Y, Z!  And then I want to invite you in to a few more nooks and crannies of my life.

Quick Change Trousers

So it happened again yesterday.  I was photographing those baby pants on the side of our barn and was struck by how lovely it is outside is at this time of year.

behind our barn

In fact, just around the corner is this beautiful blooming dogwood tree.  My favorite trees!

Three sides of this old barn have that dark wood siding and the back is like so.  All three sides make good pictures.  I'm darn lucky to have it!   That barn has charmed me since we bought this property and its wreck of a house 6 years ago.   We've fixed up the house, but the barn still desperately needs attention.  Maybe someday...

on our farm

Now, you need to know that I am not a gardener.  Ironically, we live on 8 acres and prefer to eat local produce whenever possible.  Which means I should be a gardener.

Making Mud Cake

So, I've tried.  Put in a huge garden 4 years ago, while little Aria and Liam made mud pies.  Then a smaller one, then a smaller one and last year.... nothing.   To our credit, we have bought our veggies through a local CSA (community supported agriculture - you pay up front and get a box of produce weekly) the last three years. 

CSA at home!

You won't believe what's happening now!  Last fall we became friends with a family who has a background in running a CSA.   Unfortunately, they had to move and leave their lovely CSA behind.  Their goal this year was to find land to grow produce for their own needs.  Guess who has land?  We do!  We're providing the space and the irrigation and they're doing the work.  In exchange, we get a share of the produce.  What a complete blessing all around!

across the meadow

Across from the meadow and garden plot is our house, the tree house and these gardens.  I am forever grateful to whomever planted so many hearty plants.  At this moment it seems like everything is blooming:  dogwoods, azalea, irises, roses, pinks, camellias, yellow jasmine and a bunch of things I don't know by name!

in bloom

This weekend I transplanted a slew of violets from the meadow to this bed by our front porch.  You can see a few to the bottom left, quite overshadowed by this blazing pink azalea.

about to bloom too!

The rest of the azalea are coming into bloom, just in time for Easter.  The original owners planted large leaf azalea bushes all around this house.  Most of the time they do bloom for Easter, and we egg hunt in fairy land.  A messy, not-at-all-manicured fairy land.  But those are probably the best kind.

small leaf azalea

And the bees are out!  And the grass is greening!  I may not be a gardener, but I am forever an admirer of all this beauty.  It is worth a few days away from the sewing machine, hedging, weeding or raking. 

But, just a few (wink).

Monday, April 14, 2014

Quick Change Trousers

Hello!  Did you have a good weekend?  Ours was a treat with gorgeous weather, plenty of quality family time and lo and behold some sewing as well.  This morning things are looking up aaaaand, I have a finish to share.  Yay.

Quick Change Trousers

The Quick Change Trousers is a reversible baby pants pattern from Anna Maria Horner's book, Handmade Beginnings.  I made a boy and a girl version in size 9-12 months.

Official announcement:  As a reminder, my book links on this blog are Amazon affiliate links.  That means I will earn a little something if you buy from Amazon after clicking through.   I'm supposed to make sure you're fully aware of that at all times.  No funny business allowed.

elastic issues

Although there are quite a few pattern pieces to this design (as far as pants go) they did come together quicker than I thought.  The only sticking point was inserting the elastic.  I didn't make my casing quite big enough so I had a real struggle getting that in.  Somehow both times.  Er...

good ole Kenmore

I've had a few emails lately inquiring if still like my Juki sewing machine.  Yes, I do. I do, I do!  I was actually just thinking the other day how very reliable it's been.  But, I do still use my first sewing machine, this non-computerized Kenmore, all the time.  It came in handy for  stitching around these teeny pant legs, since it has a removable free arm.  I also use it to put in buttons and, most frequently, to zigzag binding.  The Juki is an awesome machine for any quilter.  But, you'll also want a machine with multiple stitch functions.  How can you survive without zigzag?  Fortunately, a low end machine will do for that kind of thing!  And, that way you'll have a backup whenever either machine needs servicing (something I never would have thought I'd find important, ha!). 

Quick Change Trousers

Back to the trousers.  This girly pair is made with True Colors Going Up in Smoothie.  If you don't cuff them, they'll just read "pink" which makes them pretty versatile for a baby girl.

Quick Change Trousers

The little boy version is a pale green stripe by Denyse Schmidt

Quick Change Trousers

Mostly I wanted something that would match that adorable Nursery Versery fabric by Heather Ross.  Of course, that's the fun part about this pattern - putting something cute on the rear!

Quick Change Trousers

On the reverse, we have two Flea Market Fancy prints for the girly and a favorite Ed Emberley Lions and Tigers print combined with a simple orange sketch texture for the boy.   Fabrics all from my stash!

Well there's an itch scratched.  That pattern's been on my radar for years.  I've made quite a few patterns from Handmade Beginnings, probably more than from any other sewing book.  I wonder, do you have any sewing books that you return to again and again?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Register for HOMESCHOOL. handmade.

"Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in the wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by.  And that has made all the difference."- Robert Frost

artist unknown

If your road less traveled begins at home, then this lovely April is just the perfect time for you to make a start.  Today registration opens at my pattern shop for HOMESCHOOL handmade at Stitched in Color!  This two-week course will get you acquainted with all your options, while helping you discern the unique path that's all your own.  I wish with all of my heart that your journey is sweet, rewarding and true.  Class begins Monday, April 21st.  And guess what?  You're already ready.

Do you know what made me first consider homeschooling?  A friend.  And over the years I've seen other friends (not all, but several) decide to give this road less traveled a hesitant try.  Not one of them has regretted it.  I absolutely love helping people find their own way - their very own way - on this path, so when a Stitchy friend suggested I write a class, well... I couldn't resist.   It turns out I have really a lot to say!

Like many big life decisions, learning about homeschooling tends to be incredibly overwhelming.  There is so much out there to discover, process, categorize and consider.  I've been in research mode for about 6 years and I can still while away endless hours online learning more.  My goal here is to provide an easy-to-digest course that saves you time and energy, yet still gives you a generous taste of diverse options, so that you can go about the important task of choosing for yourself.

This class is designed for anyone just thinking about homeschooling, wanting to understand it better and visualize how it works.  It's even more ideal if you've decided to homeschool and are kind of starting or Not Starting Yet or turning around in circles, not quite sure if you're starting... or not.  Ha!  Yes, this class is a big sign that says, "please, Start Here".

Start here

And if you've already started and are feeling stalled, then this class is going to help you gain a fresh momentum by looking at all the choices you have.  So often folks start out just buying regular old textbooks to recreate school at home.  Ok, that can work, but is that best for your family?  Is that really the way you want to do it?  And, even if so, are you taking charge to make those resources work for your family or are you feeling a bit trapped?  Time to get some fresh air.

How does class work?  HOMESCHOOL handmade is a two-week course delivered via a private blog interface (check out the screen shot below).  Soon after you purchase your spot ($55 at my shop) you'll receive access by email to the HOMESCHOOL handmade blog.  Class runs April 21st - May 2nd.  Each "school day" I'll be publishing bite-sized posts as well as an audio compilation of the day's lessons, so you can listen or read.  You'll also have homework.  Mmm-hm.  To help you get the most out of class, I have a series of exercises designed to help you get your ideas, questions and "aha" moments onto paper so you can figure this thing out.  At the end of class you'll receive the complete audio file as well as an eBook version of HOMESCHOOL handmade for your personal use.  This course is packed with uber useful links, so you'll want that!  I guess you don't have to take notes...

class Screen shot 

Your access to the blog will remain open throughout the month of May, during which time I will continue answering questions pertaining to the material I'm presenting.  After May the blog will be closed and you will no longer be able to login, but you'll still have the audio file and eBook.  This provides much-needed motivation for us to get everything we can out of the class in real time, rather than leaving it open ended for "someday."

need to talk?

What's covered in HOMESCHOOL handmade?   So glad you asked!  I'm a tidy thinker, so this course is divided into 5 segments.  Some segments are longer than others, but still they're like 5 chapters each with one or more exercise.

We're going to...
- pinpoint your motivations for considering homeschooling
- get to know a bunch of diverse homeschooling styles
- find a match between your unique family and the options
- go through curriculum possibilities for all of the above, including shopping tips
- and finish by tackling common concerns that keep you up at night

 Your Family

Of all the segments, I think Your Family is the most important.  This is where you can refine your vision of all that's possible in the big old world to understand what it would look like in your own home.  Yep, that segment is longer than others! 

At the close of each segment you'll also find a post about My Story as it relates to our focus.  I hope that this vignette of my family's personal journey will add color and context to the entire story.  Plus, it's fun!

HOMESCHOOL handmade.

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but if you're reading this far... it's probably for you.  I'm excited to help you get started with all the stuff you need to make a strong, personalized homeschooling start.  Please do join us at HOMESCHOOL handmade.  I can't wait to see your journey unfold!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


My usual sewing routine is pretty loyal to endings.  I'm buoyed by the satisfaction of a good finish, so I don't often let myself start new things until those endings are secure.  Don't think this is evidence of massive self-control.  Nope.  I actually feel more relaxed with fewer balls in the air, plus they spin along faster that way, because I'm focused.

When I working on a class, that all goes out the door.  I usually have a quilt I'm working on publicly, plus a quilt or other project that I'm working on behind the scenes for the class.  I have two "work" days each week when my children are with grandparents.  During class production seasons, I do class work on those days and blog sewing on the other days, in bits and pieces of time.  When I'm not working on a class, those two "work" days are amazing gifts of time to sew what I want.  Hence all the productivity lately!

Well... April brings me back into class production mode.  Last week I sketched and scheduled the new class plans, and yesterday I started on the first project.  This particular quilting class has been germinating for a few years, since my very first class - Curves Class.  It's scheduled to register in August and run in September, so it's a little too early to give away details, but I am getting started. 

So, there's been a lot of NEW afoot.

new fabrics

New fabrics from Ikea.  I've almost bought that large text fabric three times  - literally - so this time I asked my husband to buy it for me while he was in Charlotte, that way I couldn't back out.

new quilt

New fabrics for a class quilt.  See that Ikea fabric on the floor?  It inspired my color scheme and this fabric pull.  Which. I. am. loving.

new projects

And another new project in view of Sewing Through the Year tonight.  I think the group will be making the much-simpler Knickers pattern by Anna Maria Horner.  But, I've long wanted to make these Quick Change Trousers from her Handmade Beginnings book (a favorite of mine!).  Decided to jump on in. 

For those not in the know, I meet with some local friends once a month for a sewing/book club hybrid following Rachel Held Evan's book A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  We discuss one chapter a month while sewing an easy project, and this chapter is "Fertility".  I was wary about getting to this particular chapter given the circumstances, but on re-reading the chapter it's actually totally funny and liberating (as are many of them).  Looking forward to our sew tonight!

Thank-you all again for your warm response to my last post.  It's a comfort to have such good company!



Tuesday, April 8, 2014


It seems to me there are many things in life that must be built up bit by bit, without the pleasure of reassurance, without the swagger of sure progress.  These things are hoped for, not certain.  I don't mean the pie-in-the-sky kind of wishes, but the hopes that must be fed over time by little faithful actions and trusting deposits of love and time.

Like teaching a child to read.  Hours upon hours learning letter sounds, picking away at words on the sofa, encouraging, smiling, celebrating the little victories, while holding out hope inside for the moment when he reads ordinary books for fun, all on his own.

stringy beginnings

Like making a scrap quilt.  Pressing and trimming and joining and measuring, stuffing that sinking feeling that it may disappoint, trying not to notice just how slow it goes, while holding out hope that the seed idea will miraculously appear in the cloth someday soon and become a quilt used and loved.

Like trying to get pregnant.  Taking those prenatals day after day, carefully charting temperatures (amongst other things, ahem), adding more supplements, watching one's diet just in case, trying not to obsess, wanting to make smart choices, while holding out hope that someday that darn test will be positive and a sweeter journey will begin.

critical mass

And then it comes.  Maybe it's magic?  Maybe it's critical mass?  All those deposits weren't for nothing, even if you couldn't see progress along the way.  Whatever did it you'll never know, but the important thing is it arrives.  That's all that matters.

No I'm not pregnant... yet, but I am inspired today by the way this quilt took me by surprise, reaching a scrappy critical mass that turned it from "maybe" to "exactly" so satisfyingly. 

Hope.  Faith.  Little faithful actions and trusting deposits of love and time....
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