the best of 2016

I’m a sucker for end-of-year posts, and despite my silence on this space, I’ll speak out before 2016 gives way to a new year. (And you are almost certainly correct in thinking that blogging more is on my 2017 resolutions.)

Ready? Let’s do this.

Three Best Sewing Projects

:: the Sewaholic Granville shirt. Finally. This pattern came out two years ago, and I sewed it up just this fall.

:: a baby quilt for Evelyn (never mind that she’s fourteen months and not as much a baby as she was when I conceived this project)

:: a winter cowl (tutorial via Colette Patterns). I made one of these for my new sister-in-law for Christmas, and to practice before making hers, made one for me. I wear it almost daily.

Three Best Books

:: The One-in-a-Million Boy, by Monica Wood. I probably wouldn’t have picked this up if I’d just read the back, but it came highly recommended on a favorite blog of mine, and I found it wholly wonderful.

:: A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. The story of a count sentenced by the Bolsheviks to house arrest inside the Metropol Hotel. This book is equal parts thoughtful and delightful.

:: the Inspector Gamache series, by Louise Penny. Okay, maybe I’m cheating a little bit on this one, because the Inspector Gamache series comprises twelve books, but they really are wonderful. I listened to these and enjoyed every moment. (I think it’s best to read them in order!)

Honorable mention to the Book of the Month Club. I tried it out over the summer and then asked Josh for a year-long subscription for my birthday. I can’t say enough good things about it. If you’re interested, check it out here.

Three Best Podcasts

:: Sorta Awesome. I’ve probably mentioned this one before, and I’ll mention it again. This podcast is a weekly dose of all things, well, awesome. This podcast also has a complementary Facebook group, and it’s my go-to for all advice and/or encouragement.

:: What Should I Read Next? Guests give the host three books they love, one book they hate, and what they’re reading right now, and in turn receive three personalized book recommendations. Another weekly highlight. (And in November, the podcast did a week-long series on kid literature–it was heaven!)

:: The Lazy Genius Podcast/The Lazy Sisters Podcast. Okay, maybe another cheat kind of, since these are technically two different podcasts. But I love them both equally and they both have the same host. The Lazy Genius Podcast is both entertaining and soul-filling, and The Lazy Sisters Podcast is what I’d produce if my sister and I had a podcast together. Alas, both shows are on hiatus right now, so go back and listen to archives. It’s worth it.

Honorable mentions in podcasts go to The Popcast and Modern Love.

Three Best Things I Did For Me

:: Birthday sewing day. For my birthday this year, I left my little family and rented out sewing space at Modern Domestic for the day. I spent the entire day sewing and even took a break for ice cream. It was heavenly, and I’ll certainly do it again, even if it’s not my birthday.

:: Summer beach trips. Many times this summer I loaded the kids into the car along with towels, sand toys, and snacks, and drove to the coast. I’m a huge homebody, and this level of initiative or spontaneity was good for me and good for my kids.

:: The jeans class. In October I took a four-week class at Modern Domestic to learn to sew jeans (my first sewing class ever). And guys, it was awesome. Not only is sewing jeans incredibly gratifying and fun, I loved spending time with other women who love what I love. I’m already scouting out another sewing class to register for.

Three Best Things I Did for My Body

:: Green smoothies. I can’t remember how I found out about Simple Green Smoothies, but these have truly affected my year. Simple Green Smoothies does a quarterly 30-day challenge and send out new recipes to try each week. (And it’s all free.) I did my first challenge in April and after a week or so noticed a real difference in how my body felt and worked. I’ve fallen off the wagon a little this fall, but want to get back into smoothie making in the new year.

:: Essential oils. I started dabbling around in essential oils earlier this year and have enjoyed incorporating them into my life. I love using them to help treat minor scrapes and ills (especially when we have to battle winter viruses).

:: Buying good water bottles. I bought a set of these Contigo bottles from Costco in the spring and love them. (Though the ones I have don’t have a straw, which I love.) When I have water bottles that work and don’t leak, I drink more water and my body is grateful for it. For Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me an insulated aluminum water bottle, and so far I’ve loved that one as well.

Three Best Things I Did for My Mental Health

:: Put the kids in separate rooms. For seven or eight months I kept trying to force my two kids to sleep peacefully in the same room together. But it was not working, and none of us was getting the sleep we needed. I ended up moving the baby’s crib into my sewing room, and I’ve never regretted it. Yes, my sewing space is compromised, but it’s a worthy sacrifice if it means that I can rely on quality sleep most nights. Seasons of life, friends.

:: Bullet journaling. In 2015 I had an expensive planner that I loved and used diligently. I bought another one for 2016, but mid-year something about the system stopped clicking for me. After a few months of no planning system, I decided to try out bullet jounraling, and I’m hooked. It’s entirely customizable to my needs, and if I spend a few days not making lists (like the past week for example), no harm, no foul, no wasted pages.

:: Preschool. We put our four-year-old in preschool three days a week, and it’s a win-win. For 99-percent of the past four years, we’ve been physically together, and both of us needed to shake things up a bit. Asher is thriving, and so am I.

Now I’m knee-deep in looking forward to 2017. What do you want the upcoming year to hold for you? Any favorites from 2016 I should know about? Happy New Year, everyone!

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fall, sewing mail, and self-inflicting fitting woes

I am sitting here literally eating hot fudge pudding cake cold out of a Tupperware while Oregon douses us in perfectly timed fall. Yesterday the weather was similar, if not more torrential, and Josh and I attended the wedding of two dear friends–a wedding that was an outdoor wedding.


The dress I wore was one I made specifically for this occasion, yet alas it was covered up by a winter jacket, because it was just so cold outside. The newlyweds’ love may have kept them warm, but I, on the other hand, was dreaming of wool socks by the end of the afternoon.


Colette Patterns sent me their newest pattern, Rue, before the official release, and opening that package was akin to digging through my stocking on Christmas morning. I love the vintage call-out and the distinct femininity of the design. The full lining was also a pleasing element. I also appreciated that this pattern was more involved than the quick and gratifying patterns from their Seamwork line.


{See that awful pulling at the bust? Good hell.}

What made this particular pattern challenging for me was figuring out the fit. The design lines in the bodice are so lovely and distinct, and that also makes fitting adjustments trickier. When I whipped up a quick and dirty muslin of the bodice, there was bagging in the bust, but I cut that out using a simple wedge adjustment in the center front bodice. When I started stitching up the dress in the real fabric, I took in the waist by about two inches. As I was nearing the dress’s completion, I noticed some more funny fitting in the bust. I fixed some gaping by taking in the neckline at the shoulders, but I fear my fitting inexperience really caught up with me on this one.


In researching potential fitting last-minute fitting solutions, I referenced the Rue sewalong that started this week. The information there answered several questions for me: 1) This pattern has more ease than other Colette patterns, which explains why the size I usually am with this brand was too big, and 2) because of the bodice design, grading between sizes–at least from bust to waist, like I usually do–is not advised. The sewalong hasn’t yet tackled the bigger fitting issues I faced (and created), but I’m eager to follow along and learn how to fix the fit for the next time I make this (and I do want to make it again).


Apart from my own self-inflicted fit troubles, the dress is delightful to stitch up. Construction is complex enough to be interesting, but not so intricate that I’m throwing seam rippers across the room. I had no problems easing the two bodice pieces together and felt like a zipper victor when I successfully installed the invisible zipper to both the shell and the lining. And all those box pleats? Take me to heaven please, where all the skirts will have giant pleats.

Processed with VSCO with j1 preset

(Can we take a moment and ogle my lining fabric? It’s a poly blend I snagged for $3.97/yard from the bargain bolts at Colorado Fabrics a few weeks ago.)


Next time I make Rue, I’m going to start from scratch and trace a completely different size and make a new muslin. From there I’ll reference the sewalong for needed fit adjustments. You can be sure that I’ll post my take-two-Rue when it’s finished!

Fabric is Robert Kaufman chambray from

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coasting through the summer

I’m a homebody–a die-hard homebody. Cabin fever is not something I’m too familiar with, and I don’t naturally come by the initiative, patience, and follow-through requisite for adventure. I’m a low-level recreator, a trait I’m happy to claim.

And yet. Something inside me was hounding me this summer to go to the coast. I’ll talk about how much I love it, but I don’t make the effort to get there nearly as much as I could. I love the briny air; the relentless, mesmerizing surf; the wild, forest-covered bluffs. I love standing in the waves, letting the water wash up and back, up and back. The coast is so grounding for me, lovingly reminding me that I am a small person in a big world, and yet I am still someone. The Oregon coast is one of my favorite places to be–so why don’t I go more?


Making day trips to the coast was one of my high summer priorities, and dear readers–they have been wonderful.


A couple of weeks ago, I drove my kids and me to a friend’s, where we loaded up all of our beach things and all of our kids into her van and set off for Lincoln City. Getting to my friend’s front door was a monumental feat on its own, and a part of me worried that I’d taken on too much venturing out on a beach trip like this on my own. Part of me said, Should you have stayed home? But then as we walked onto the sand, the clouds parted and the sun welcomed us to our day of beachy play, and I let out a grateful sigh.


These photos were taken that day. I wore my Seamwork Seneca skirt, a skirt that has been on heavy rotation this summer. It’s perfect–perfect for running errands, meeting up with friends, binge-watching Netflix, and yes, it’s even perfect for the beach. (I’m even wearing it on our car ride to California this week!)


I made mine out of a cut of interlock found at Colorado Fabrics last year. It was so fast to stitch up, and even the elastic waistband with grommets was easy to assemble. I’m on the hunt for another medium-weight knit so I can make another one. I could have a whole wardrobe of Seneca skirts and be happy.


Since this first beachy day trip, I’ve made the effort for another beach day and have another planned for next week. Yes, we come back sandy and tired and sometimes sunburned, but to spend our day playing in the surf and making sand castles with a good book on standby? Even this homebody can’t say no to that.


And yes, even as we’re unloading our supplies at the beginning of the day, part of me looks forward to that feeling of coming home, taking a shower, and plopping down on the couch. As glad as I am for this modest, newfound sense of adventure, I also know that I’m a homebody at heart and that that’s a good thing too. (And you know what happens at home? Sewing happens at home. You can’t argue with that.)

Click here to get half off your first month’s subscription to Seamwork. Since the magazine launched a year and a half ago, I’ve made so many of their patterns, and most of those are regulars in my wardrobe. And with a regular price of $6 a month, the half-off promotion is a no-brainer!

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longest days of the year

Summers and I have a tenuous relationship at best. Especially the past few years, summer has been too long, too hot, and overhyped. Summer 2016, though? Summer 2016 has been lovely, a loveliness best captured in navy gingham.


I’d bought this cotton gingham last year sometime intending to use it for a Sewaholic Granville shirt, but then I got pregnant and fitted button-down patterns made me depressed. When I revisited the pattern this spring, I face-palmed when I realized that I bought the 60-inch yardage for fabric that’s 44 inches. So, I improvised.


This summer’s improvement over years’ past is certainly a combination equal parts air conditioning, non-scorching temperatures, not gestating a human, and an attitude adjustment (because who wants to be miserable a quarter of the year, right?). We’ve been going with the flow and making an effort to make summer feel like summer. That effort involves forgoing clean bathrooms in favor of splash pads and park dates, swimming instead of making dinner, and sometimes even sneaking ice cream for dinner.


This skirt came to be when I had the grand delusion that I could make a skirt–from cutting out to hemming–the afternoon before a family photo shoot. Alas, my haste was my downfall (because otherwise I know I could have done it).


I might have finished the skirt had I not completely twisted the zipper installation around in my hurry to be a sewing superpower. The silver lining to that hurried project is that in an afternoon I had this dreamy summer skirt a mere zipper and hem away from being wearable. And a second perk to this project is that I discovered that, yes, Seamwork patterns can be sewn up in a jiffy.


This skirt is the Brooklyn skirt from Seamwork. The construction really was simple, straightforward, and satisfying, and required only a waist measurement. That front-and-center box pleat makes my heart flutter, and the a-line design is just so summery. (Though made up in a wool, this skirt could also be so fallish or wintery. I think that’s a sign I need to make more.)


I wore this skirt twice over the holiday weekend, fishing it out of the hamper Fourth of July morning because there was nothing more American to me in that moment than navy gingham–nothing.


I’m exceptionally glad that summer and I are reconciling, because I’m rediscovering that it can be quite a gem. And for the first time in several years, I’m glad that it’s early July and that we still have lots of summer left.

If you want to try out the Seamwork pattern subscription, head here to sign up and get half off your first month. (That’s only $3, which is barely more than a non – happy hour Sonic Route 44. And really, $6 for two pattern credits a month is really good. Much of my me-made makes are Seamwork patterns. Try it, just for the summer. You can thank me later.)

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famine and abundance

When I started this blog I was in a season of creative abundance. Not only did I have the equipment, tools, and supplies for sewing, but I had time and mental resources aplenty to devote to this therapeutic hobby. I could easily spend 10 hours a week sewing; I hardly had to think about when I could sew, because I knew that time was there for me.


Then I became pregnant, and my physical and mental resources took a hit. I was sick in one form or another for most of the first two trimesters and had minimal physical energy the last few months. I completed a few projects–but compared with what I used to be able to produce, it was small.

Now that I’ve made it through almost six months of having a brand-new human around, I’m finding myself in the midst of a creative famine. Sure I buy enough fabric and patterns to keep up the appearance of creative abundance, but the fabric stays folded in the closet (or, more likely, on the floor of the sewing room), the patterns untraced and untrimmed. I have the ideas, the inspiration, and desire overflowing–but my time and energy remain in wasteland.


The sewing room has been in a state of severe atrophy for months. For most of this calendar year, the room has been inoperable as a sewing space. When I have done any sewing, it’s been on the kitchen table downstairs rather than in the room specifically designated for this craft. The result is a feeling of displacement, an unwanted transformation into a creative nomad, with no where to create and no mental resources to rally.

My body has adapted to the continuous nights of fragmented sleep, and for the most part I’ve moved on from that new-baby haze of unwashed sweatpants and all-day bedhead. And yet. The prospect of tackling my ground-zero sewing space has been incapacitating. I see the mess and stick my head in the sand, pretending that it’s not that bad, that maybe it’s not even there. And I continue in my famine, which I slowly come to realize is partially self-inflicted.

As soon as I start to examine this creative void in my life, the doubts stream in saying, “Who are you to even contemplate that skirt, when your bathroom tile is coated in toothpaste grime?” “Who are you to trace that button-down pattern you’ve been dying to sew for a year when you can’t keep up with laundry, meals, housekeeping–let alone loving, and nurturing those two little souls in your care?” “How can you even think about sewing when you can’t even do what you’re supposed to do?” those voices say. And they say them over and over and over. And the sewing room atrophies faster.


Then I faced that room that, in an abundant season, I’d set aside for creating. I started with closets. I pulled out everything and threw away half of it. I took boxes to recycling and gave away stuff I didn’t need. The room–barely less messy– sat untouched for another month. I made plans for revamping the space, making it a space to invigorate and inspire. This past weekend I made the most changes, moving around furniture, putting together new furniture, sorting zippers and machine needles and elastic into trendy IKEA buckets.

And that feeling of famine lessened just a little. The promise of abundance shone a little brighter. My machines still aren’t set up, and I still have a defunct bookcase to move to the garage. But I’m finally able to see what this space can be, and I’m understanding that those lies my mind tells me are just that–lies. Sure, I may have dishes in the sink more often than not, and Josh may have to sometimes dig in the dryer for socks. But undervaluing sewing–especially when it’s a craft that feeds my soul in such vital ways–will do nothing except keep me in famine. And maybe, if I make more room for meditative creating, I’ll find it easier to make time for bathrooms and laundry too.

Seasons of famine are unavoidable. We all have them. Mine come in the form of new motherhood, sleep deprivation, and the remaking of self that accompanies such all-encompassing life changes. But the famine is a season, not a state of permanence. The sooner I realize that, the sooner I can accept it and let the season run its course. Because abundance is waiting–and I’m eager to embrace it.

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