Reading…

Happy February first to you!  I can’t believe this month is here already.  Time flies!  Often I don’t smile upon this month, as it can seem like the longest of the year (at least in snowy, cold New England).  This year I am excited for it as there hasn’t been much snow in these parts and a warm weather trip is planned for this family.  I even have a stack of shorts cut out to sew for the littles.  I’m on the hunt for a great book to bring with me on said warm weather trip.

Have you read anything great lately?

We visited one of our favorite places on Monday; the public library.  I can spend a ton of time there and luckily, so can my children.  We came back with an enormous haul of books, and I thought I’d share some of what we are reading with you.  I just finished ‘The Paris Architect’ by Charles Belfoure.  It was a quick read about a conflicted architect that takes place during WWII.  I couldn’t put it down.  I’ve also checked out ‘The Blasphemer’ by Nigel Farndale and ‘A Lady Cyclists’s Guide to Kashgar’ by Suzanne Joinson.  Both are historical fiction and I’m excited to read them.  The last book I picked up was ‘Raising Human Beings…Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child’ by Ross W. Greene, PhD.

I don’t know about you, but I have quite a stack of parenting books that haven’t been read. I’ve a few that have been read maybe a quarter of the way, and then I just couldn’t get through them anymore.  Or I fell asleep.  I love the parenting books where you can look things up, like ‘Aren’t tantrums supposed to stop before the age of 5?’  and ‘Why is my eight year old sassing me?’ but sadly those books are few and far between.  I will say that I am already through Chapter THREE of this here book and still going strong.  It’s wonderful and all about listening to who your child is and what they are telling you (which is kind of easy, if you think about it).  I saw this book on the instagram feed of @mamaliberated, who is someone I follow.  She is a sewing, crafty mom (and so much more) and I greatly admire her parenting principals.  I think I will be purchasing this one and have just convinced the hubs to read it too.

‘How full is your bucket? for Kids’ by Tom Rath is a concept that my son’s preschool often talks about.  The book opens up with two siblings fighting (sound familiar?) and the concept behind why.  It also shows how you can lift others up (and yourself) with kind acts.  See folks?  Kindness does matter!  🙂  This is going to be on my permanent bookshelf soon.

At the library there was a whole area of children’s books about refugees.  Those librarians are unfailingly on target and always putting out wonderful things to grow young (and old) minds.  This book, ‘The Journey’ by Francesca Sanna is powerful.  So powerful, that I am going to buy them as gifts for young and old to add to their library.  The pictures are amazing and the story gave us a lot to talk about.  Especially with what is going on today in America and with small people who have questions.

This last book, ‘Du Iz Tak?’ by Carson Ellis was a Christmas present from Santa.  He really hit the mark because it has been read almost every day since Christmas!  The book is written in ‘bug-speak’ but very easy to figure out and gives us all a new appreciation for the lovely gladdenboot.  It is fun and goes through the seasons with beautiful illustrations.  It has become a family favorite here.

I’d love to hear what you and your family are reading!  Do tell….

Posted in books, Ramblings | Leave a comment

Wool + Wax Tote

In December I was lucky to get my hands on the second Making magazine, called “Fauna”. Have you seen this magazine before?  It usually sells out pretty quickly (although it looks like some copies are still available on the website).  The magazine is full of wonderful things; many beautiful knitting, embroidery, and sewing patterns as well as cooking and slow living articles.  In this edition was a lovely pattern for the ‘Wool + Wax Tote’ by Anna Graham of Noodlehead.  As you can tell by some of my past posts (herehere and here are just a few), I’m a big fan of her patterns.

After I received this magazine the hunt began for waxed canvas fabric.  Having never sewn with waxed canvas before, I wanted to touch it and check it out first instead of buying it online.  I happened to be in Portland and got to check out Z Fabrics.  Luckily they had many colors to choose from and what a great selection of jersey fabrics too!  I may have come home with quite a few things…..

I’m very excited to show you my bag as I completely LOVE it!  It was inspired by a bag seen on Pinterest.  I used dark green ticking for the body and had off white muslin in my stash for the outer and inner pockets and the lining.  The leather straps I bought on Etsy.  The brown waxed canvas is from Z Fabrics.  Although this is a pretty basic tote pattern, Anna always seems to know how to push you a little out of your comfort zone to try new things.  A basic tote bag is much more polished with a waxed canvas bottom and leather straps!  The front has two outside pockets and also there are two inner, smaller pockets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been on my shoulder constantly.  It’s great to throw my knitting in, a pair of karate pants for the kids when we’re running around (or late to karate-ha!), my wallet, calendar and a magazine.  I think many more of these bags will be made.  What great presents they will make!

Posted in Bags, books, Sewing | 4 Comments

A Pink Hat

My heart is so full as I write this blog post….

What a wonderful weekend!  This past Saturday, January 21st,  I joined 6 friends and so many other brave souls as we marched in the Boston Women’s March for America.  We were all there to march in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington.  I am not one who loves large crowds in Boston (Boston Marathon Bombing anyone?) and several friends felt the same way but we went regardless.  I am so very proud of us.  I went with some AMAZING women and one great gentleman.  One woman was so powerful, she had just had a walking boot cast taken off after a foot surgery; her foot was still swollen!  So she bought a larger size shoe and walked anyway.  So very inspiring, this woman.  Speaking of women, there were young girls holding signs, elderly women (I saw a few marching with walkers) and every age in between.  There were fathers and husbands and boyfriends and brothers walking as well.  I felt very privileged to walk with all of these people.

I had no idea that this march would be so far reaching!  700+ marches happened around the WORLD over the weekend; in places like Australia, Zambia, Mexico, Kenya, Ecuador, Canada and England…and more.  This makes me laugh joyfully and also cry with sentimentality at the fact that so many people everywhere are thinking of us and lifting us up.  We were there for many different reasons but we all marched for equality, democracy and justice.

As for my handmade makes (you knew there were some, right?), well first I made seven fleece pussy hats.  I used the pattern on the website by Celia, called Celia’s fleece hat.  I did make the hats wider by about 2 inches and I sewed an actual triangle for the ears.  My pink fleece was from Joann fabrics.  I gave them out to the five friends above (and myself) and gave the last to one of our local librarians, who happened to be at the train station as we were heading in to Boston.  Since we weren’t supposed to bring backpacks to the march, I scoured the local TJ Maxx to find a small crossover bag to bring my essentials in.  The only one I found was $100 and well, that wasn’t happening.  Instead I bought a pack of clear polyurethane makeup storage bags and used the large one to make my own crossover bag.  Also found at TJ Maxx was a long rainbow-ish colored luggage strap.  I cut off the hardware and slightly burned the end of the straps with a lighter, so they wouldn’t fray.  Then I sewed each end of the strap to each side of the bag.  I also cut off a little of the strapping for the inside of the bag to reinforce when I sewed the strapping on.  The total cost was $14.   Viola, the bag was made and I could carry my essentials, and the Boston Police would be happy as they could see into the bag and know that I wasn’t concealing anything.

As for the march, I will let the signs tell the story:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bags, Life | 8 Comments

The New Year and another Esme

Happy New Year to you!  I hope your holidays were merry and peaceful.

I’ve been missing this space but have had my head down this fall, getting through four birthdays in my immediate family, three in my extended family and four holidays, all in only eight weeks.  It’s kind of crazy for my calm, simple-loving head.  Pretty much anything non-essential doesn’t get done from Halloween through the New Year.  One thing that I always relearn during this time is the art of saying “No”.  I say no a lot during November and December and it feels good.  The January ‘Real Simple Magazine’ featured a great article called “Say Yes to Saying No”.  It came at a perfect time (mid-December).  I love that magazine!

Although I have been saying No (a lot) and not blogging much, there has certainly been a lot of crafting going on in this house.  There have been many long walks in the woods too.  I’m getting to know the forest that borders our property and we’ve been getting out for walks to the amazing beaver dams nearby.

We have spent much time playing on the ice, looking for beavers and exploring.  During the busyness of the holidays, I found myself pulling the family and dog outside for several beaver visits.  There was one walk where certain children fought the whole way (and I was very close to losing it) but when we got to our destination, everything melted away and we enjoyed ourselves.  Nature has this great habit of pulling us out of a funk and giving us a new perspective.

As for the crafting, my children were very excited about giving gifts to others this holiday season.  Each child got to pick out a gift for their sibling and they both made Christmas gifts for their special friends  (a stuffed lion named Lioney and Kit Kitterdge, an American girl doll).  They both worked hard on making each friend a small book.  My son’s had pictures and letters written inside (he is starting to write letters now) and my daughter cut hers out of a magazine.  Each were wrapped and put under the tree.  I think I will keep these little books forever!

We’ve also worked on sewing a pair of pj’s for Lioney and my son just finished a little book on all of the different types of boats. My daughter got a sewing machine for Christmas and we’ve made a couple of beds for various stuffed critters.  Kit Kitteredge also got herself a little sewing machine which I think is extremely cute!

During all this crafting, I’ve been doing a bit of sewing and cutting out lots of patterns.  I even had time to complete another Esme dress.  The first one I sewed is here.

 

The material is a dark purple cotton with orange plaid.  I can’t remember where I got the fabric, it might have been Marden’s in Maine.  I sewed the pockets with the plaid horizontal to give it a little bit of contrast.  I cut a size medium and this time trimmed the dress down to a small on the sides from right below the bust down to the bottom.  I love the fit.  I’ve been wearing it a lot with leggings and although this seems to be a quilting weight cotton, the fabric doesn’t bunch up with leggings underneath.

It seems we are settling into winter, going sledding when there’s snow and enjoying some post-holiday quiet time.  I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Posted in Home, Life, Ramblings, Sewing, Women's Clothing | 8 Comments

Beck

I love fair isle sweaters.  I think about them a lot.  Is that weird?  Perhaps.  I have always wanted to knit one.  Many years ago my mother in law gave me the most beautiful lavender fair-isle sweater with gorgeous colors in the yoke (from LL Bean) and it was worn every winter.  You could say it was lived in.  Then my frugal self decided to hand wash it (in the washing machine—NOT smart) and of course it felted.  I tried wearing it once after that and felt like I was wearing elf clothing.  Then I thought I would cut it and sew a beautiful hat from it but I couldn’t bear to cut into such beauty.  So I passed it on.  And I have missed it.  I thought I would try to make a sweater but being very cautious (after a very wild youth-I am now cautious in all things including knitting- isn’t that funny?  🙂 ) I found the Beck Sweater by Dani Sunshine and thought it would be a gentle way for me to learn to add a different color into what I was knitting.  I started this sweater last January and although it took some serious time, it’s done!!

The yarn I used is Humdrum by Dream in Color.  For the darker color in the yoke, I used Madeline Tosh DK in the color Amber Trinket.  I bought these yarns at a wonderful shop called Yarns In the Farms.  They have a great selection of yarns.  The women that work there are so incredibly helpful as I often have lots of questions for them.  I wasn’t sure what size to knit but they helped me figure it out.

The sweater did sit for quite a while with one arm mostly knit and the other arm left to do. After being cold and needing a cozy sweater, I jumped in and started knitting again.  On the couch at night, sometimes in bed, in the parent pick-up line at school, at Karate lessons–in the car in front of the YMCA (why work out when you can just knit in the parking lot?)…the knitting took over.  Then there was blocking, which I have honestly never done before.  After ordering some knitting wires from Pintuck and Purl and lots of google, I am happy to say that it is DONE and I do love it.  It’s very cozy.  I love the rusty fall colors!

It’s a good thing it’s done too, because I saw this gorgeousness at Pintuck and Purl and I’m pretty sure you can guess what’s next on my knitting list….

Posted in Knitting, Women's Clothing | 2 Comments

Lemonade

img_6011

Monday after school we made a mad dash for the beach.  It is unseasonably warm this week and although everyone was tired it was unanimously voted that a beach run was in order.  I feel very blessed to live in an ocean town and may be a bit biased, but this is one of the prettiest beaches around.

img_6019

We had another reason for going to the beach and that was to walk our dog.  Last week there was a shelter visit and we came home with a sweet 4 month old puppy named Millie. It was love at first sight for us but the clincher was her name.  That was my grandmothers name too.  We took care of the paperwork and brought her home and although it’s been less than a week, it feels like she’s been with us a lot longer.

img_6020

Speaking of Millie (the Grandmother) she used to tell me when I was disappointed about something, to make lemonade out of my lemons.  I remember hearing this as a teen and I’m sure an eye roll ensued.  Although, this saying has stayed with me.  I’m sure there are much worse lemons than this one but I had a SEWING FAIL recently.  Back in May I started working on the fitted dress from the Alabama Studio + Design book (see here).  This dress didn’t get completely finished; it went in the bottomless pit of ‘projects to work on’.  It recently resurfaced and I thought it would be great to add sleeves and wear it this fall and winter.  When I added the sleeves I realized that the front and back neck lines were far to low and the shoulder pieces were thin and nothing was going to hold those sleeves up.  After I tried it on a few times, I realized that I looked like Elsa from Frozen, you know…when she transforms into the shoulder dress wearing ‘sexy’ Elsa.  Yeah, not a look for me.  Basically there was nothing holding the shoulders up where they should be on this dress.  I decided to cut the whole thing down to the skirt pattern from the book.  I bought 1″ fold over black elastic on Etsy, for the waist.  Then I pulled out my embroidery stitches and re-embroidered used black embroidery floss, to match the elastic.  It’s a simple and basic skirt now and I’ve worn it a ton.  There’s my lemonade.

img_6056

fullsizerender

img_6058

img_6060

Posted in Sewing, Women's Clothing | 2 Comments

A feminist top?

img_5925

Simplicity Pattern S0918

A couple of weeks ago, I bought this lovely rayon fabric at Pintuck and Pearl (a local-ish shop in NH…see here).  I had seen it before at this store and kept thinking about it, so I went back to buy it.  I decided to make Simplicity S0918, with long sleeves and a wide bow.  A Pussy-bow, to be exact.  A while back on a shopping excursion with a friend, I mentioned loving big bows on women’s tops and she told me that was in fact called a ‘Pussy Bow’.  I kind of think that’s hilarious, so I decided to do a little research before writing this post.

Wikipedia mentions that in the 1940’s the Gibson Girl look was popular (a curvy athletic type of woman) and that style inspired the bow (see here).  Also, apparently Margaret Thatcher was a big fan.  In the PBS documentary: Makers, Women who make America, it is mentioned that in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when more women were entering the workforce, they wanted to fit into a male-dominated world and this was their version of the neck tie (see here).  In another article I found, titled: ‘The Female History Behind Your Floppy Bow Blouse’ on the Jezebel website,  it is the author’s opinion that these bows are named after female genitalia (see here).  Hmm.  Should I be wearing this with pride?  Is it some sort of feminist top?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  But I still like big bows.  I love to hear where names and various fashions emerge, so I hope you enjoyed this brief history lesson.  Getting back to the top…..

img_5919

After washing the fabric, I got to cutting and sewing.  The fabric is ‘Snack Time rayon in blue’ by Sarah Watts for Cotton & Steel.  It was wonderful fabric to work with.  I have enough leftover that a certain girl in my house might be getting a top too.  The pattern, Simplicity S0918, was very straight forward and the fit was spot on.  I cut a size 16 and needed to make no adjustments.  The shirt is boxy but I like it.  I think I could take the sides in a bit but am going to sit with it for a while.  The husband gave it two thumbs up and my daughter (and photographer) thought it was great too.  There is light ruching on the front where the shoulder seams are (they are lowered a bit to right below the collarbone) and a tiny bit of ruching on the sleeves.

fullsizerender-125-copy-3

img_5922

img_5923

In other news, my almost 8-year-old daughter made these delicious pumpkin muffins (and bread) last night.  She is loving baking.  The only thing I did last night to help her, was to put it in the oven.  I’m finding it a nice way for us to connect and what a great way to introduce fractions!  We couldn’t find my teaspoon and only had a 1/2 teaspoon available and my girl figured it out on her own that she needed to double many of the spices.  Proud Mama!

img_5947

Pumpkin Muffins & Bread–fresh from the oven and two were already gobbled up.

Posted in Sewing, Women's Clothing | 2 Comments

Last tank of the summer…

My sewing room is a mess (messy sewer here) and I’ve been working on reorganizing my sewing space.  There’s something about the change of seasons that makes one want to clean, reorganize and get rid of the old.  In my case, that is getting rid of things I no longer use and going through my fabric to make room for…..fall and winter fabric!!! (I know the excitement is killing you.)  It feels so good to get back into a sewing routine.

fullsizerender-130-copy

In one last defiant act of summer sewing (it IS technically still summer), I made the Gemma tank, by Rae Hoekstra (Made-by-Rae blog).  This tank is one of Rae’s clever Presto Patterns.  It took me an hour to make this top, literally, Presto!  As all of her patterns, it is well written and flattering on.  There are two options for the neckline; a regular neck and a high neck.  I made the higher neck and the C/D cup size.  I didn’t need to modify the pattern for sizing at all.  The bias tape for the neckline and arms is from my vintage stash.  The red plaid gives the top a little pop of color.

fullsizerender-131-copy

fullsizerender-132

The fabric I’ve had for a while and was excited to finally have something perfect to use it for.  It’s by Lotta Jansdotter and called ‘Etapp in Midnight Navy’.  One of the great things about this pattern is that it will work with a lot of different types of fabric.   I’m pretty sure this pattern will become a staple in my wardrobe.

fullsizerender-129-copy

Fall seems to be such a great time to get cozy with a good book.  Have you read anything great lately?  I’m always looking for suggestions for a great book.  We are making a couple changes with our routine, as a family.  One of the changes is implementing ‘No TV’ during the week (and limiting TV on the weekends to a movie or two for the whole family).  I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but for this family, it has been a positive change.  As a result, we are reading and crafting more.  I picked up a great book to read with our children, ‘PAX’ by Sara Pennypacker.  I heard about it on NPR.

fullsizerender-126-copy

I’ve also been invited to join a book discussion for this book:  ‘American Girls, Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers’ by Nancy Jo Sales.  No- I don’t have a teenager yet but after reading just the preface of this book, I realized that I didn’t want to stay blissfully ignorant.  🙂  THIS BOOK IS SCARY.

fullsizerender-125-copy

Last in my pile, is ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes.  My dear Mother-in-Law brought this over and although I don’t know much about it, I’ve seen lots of people reading it.  What’s in your reading pile?

fullsizerender-127-copy

Posted in books, Sewing, Women's Clothing | 2 Comments

Transitions

This month marks a transition for many people.  Summer is still hanging on but coming to an end.  Most kids are back in school.  Some nights it is pretty cool here in New England and many of our thoughts move to the cooler months ahead.  I’ve found myself in a funk the last couple of weeks.  As a family, summer after summer we seem to hit our stride in August.  July feels busy and in August we slow down.  We have a lot of family time and the kids and I find our rhythm with them being out of school.  Then school starts.  This August my husband and I discussed home schooling (which is basically: how can we keep this summer feeling going?).  Although that isn’t a path we think our family should take at this time – we don’t rule it out for the future.  I seem to find myself a little lost after my kids start school and that’s where I am right now.

This morning I met a dear friend for a walk in the woods, which was exactly what I needed. This is my mama-lady (see here) and walking in the woods with her is so calming.  We used to do it a lot more when I was younger.  I don’t think I have ever met anyone who gets me like she does. It might be because we are alike in a lot of ways.  It also helps that she has raised four children and to me she is the “Sage Mother”, the wise word of counsel.  Our conversations ended on a note of how important creativity is and making sure we get that creative time to balance ourselves.  These conversations and the connection with her made me think about where I’ve been this summer and where I’m headed.

Although I didn’t get as much sewing time as I’d like this summer (which would be ALL day EVERY day),  we did do a lot of creating.  We crafted to our hearts content!

IMG_5587

FullSizeRender-131

FullSizeRender-128

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the summer I pattern tested the Nehalem Pants pattern by Indie designer Sew House Seven.  These pants are very similar to thai fisherman pants that wrap around.  They are very stylish!  I’m about to buy some Ikat fabric to make another pair.  Have you ever sewn with Sew House Seven patterns?  Peggy, the designer, has a great sense of style.  I’ve made the Mississippi Ave dress (see here) and have worn it a lot.  I’m also preparing to make the Tea House Dress and am on a hunt for the right fabric.

FullSizeRender-117

Nehalem Pants. Front fold over.

FullSizeRender-99 copy

Back view with seam detail.

Did you know that September is National Sewing Month?  Woot Woot…Let’s hear it for sewers everywhere!!!  To celebrate National Sewing Month, Maggie from Pintuck & Purl (a wonderful fabric/yarn shop in Exeter NH) is doing a series of Q&A from various bloggers and designers and yours truly got to answer a few….if you’d like to read further, please click here and here–or just read the whole series!  I feel so inspired upon entering Pintuck & Purl.  The design and layout of the store draws you in and the fabric is pretty great too.  There are classes and also a regular ‘Sip and Stitch’ on various Friday nights that is a great time to do a little shopping, work on some handwork and connect with other creative people.

Below is what I have cut out and several new patterns that have made their way into my stash.

fullsizerender-114-copy-3

Two Esme Tunics waiting to be sewn.

fullsizerender-117-copy-3

Grainline Studio: Archer Button Up; Simplicity S0918; Simplicity S0898 by Dottie Angel; Sew House Seven Tea House Dress.

 

What have you made lately?  I’d love to hear what you are working on.

Posted in Life, Sewing, Women's Clothing | 6 Comments

Women’s Tunic/Dress from Handmade Style

IMG_5656

 

I’ve been slowly (very slowly) working on the Women’s Tunic from Anna Graham’s book ‘Handmade Style’ over the summer.  I bought this beautiful rayon last year and wasn’t exactly sure what to make with it.  When we went to Martha’s Vineyard this summer (see here) I saw a skirt in a boutique window made up with this exact fabric.  It was beautiful and simple and I knew I needed to get sewing with it.  In July, Anna featured a sew-along on her blog Noodlehead, giving detailed instructions with photos, for making this tunic.  I am a visual person and figured this sew-along would be very helpful if I got stuck on anything with the pattern.  To my delight, the pattern was very well written and I didn’t have any problems.   It was great to be able to refer her website when I was working on the placket, to make sure I had it right.  I love when pattern designers do sew-alongs.  It is incredibly helpful to us ‘visual’ people.

 

FullSizeRender-118 copy

FullSizeRender-117 copy

FullSizeRender-114 copy

 

I made this tunic into a dress by adding about 3 inches to the bottom of the pattern.  I cut a size Medium.  The fabric I used is by Anna Maria Horner called ‘Pretty Potent Rayon Challis’; the color is Eucalyptus Lime.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how I would like dolman sleeves and I didn’t know if it would be flattering on me.  I have to tell you, I have only taken this dress off to wash it.  Seriously-I love it!  I’ve worn it at home, to the beach, a trip to Ikea, grocery store…etc.  You get the picture.  The drawstring waist is very flattering and I do love the sleeve style.  It is the PERFECT hot weather dress, made up with a flowy rayon.  I fully intend to be wearing this right on into the fall with leggings.

FullSizeRender-120 copy

FullSizeRender-119

Posted in Women's Clothing | 4 Comments