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?

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

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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the love-letter quilt

Last summer during a week-long heat wave, I relocated my sewing setup downstairs by the air conditioner. I studied a YouTube tutorial for paper piecing, and practiced on scraps. Then I picked up my cut out triangles and started a quilt for my son.

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I made this quilt for my boy, because our world would soon be turned upside down as we welcomed a new babe into the family. I knew that a monumental adjustment would be coming his way, and I wanted him to have a tangible reminder of how much I love him. So I stitched. And stitched. And stitched.

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This is the first quilt I’ve made, and I was surprised at how many cumulative hours I spent cutting and piecing and binding. I had started out tracking the time I spent on this, and eventually abandoned that idea. Some projects are for quantifying, and this one was for feeling. Every time I sat down to work on this love letter I thought about how much love I have for my son and for my family.

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This quilt isn’t a reminder of a past when our family was three instead of four. Rather this work is an expression of love, of love that remembers, endures, and multiplies.

***

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I used the Tangelo pattern from Carolyn Friedlander. All of the prints are Cotton & Steel. The background is Kona ivory, and the backing is Carolyn Friedlander. I outsourced the actual quilting to a professional longarm quilter and am so pleased with the product. If I’m going to put so much time, money, and heart into a project, I want the quilting done well. And I don’t have a machine that can handle big quilting projects like this one.

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This project fed my soul, and Asher couldn’t be more happy with his new quilt for his bed. It’s projects like this one reaffirm the truth that sewing is service and connection and love.

PS The orange row is my favorite!

Posted in quilting, reflections | Tagged | 3 Responses

what’s saving my life right now

These past three and a half months have been kicking my butt. And winter sometimes kicks my butt too. It’s always so easy to think about what makes life hard, but what about those small mercies that save our lives in periods of darkness or adversity or sleep deprivation?

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Monster hot chocolate. It’s no secret that I love hot cocoa. Love it. When my mom came to help me after Evelyn was born, we made this hot chocolate mix, and it’s changed my life. I’m kind of not even exaggerating. It’s positively decadent. When Evie showed signs of a dairy sensitivity, I panicked. But I’ve since discovered that cashew milk makes for really good cocoa. Every night I have a cup of cocoa, and it’s divine.

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Couch naps. Evie’s naps are not great. She’ll go down to sleep in a crib just fine, but that nap will last 45 minutes max. We compromise on real naps for the first part of the day, but come mid-afternoon I do what I need to do to maximize her sleep. And that means a couch nap. I swaddle Evelyn, surround myself with remotes, books, and devices, and cozy up on the couch for at least an hour and a half. At first these couch naps frustrated me, because I’d rather that Evie nap well in her own bed (and because I haven’t had reliable alone-time since October). But then I came to accept them. And then I came to love them. Evie will learn to nap eventually, and for now, I get to snuggle her and soak in all her babyness while I can.

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My Tula carrier. Evelyn loves to be held. But I don’t have a third arm. And I do have a toddler. Enter the Tula carrier. A couple of months ago a friend told me about Tula carriers and how they’re the structured carrier for parents who like wraps. (I tried the wrap, and it didn’t do it for me.) I wear Evie in the carrier everyday. I cook in it, I shop in it, I take walks in it. It’s pricey, but worth it. I’d be insane without it.

Podcasts. I listen to podcasts far more than I listen to music. My current favorites are Sorta Awesome, What Should I Read Next?, and The Popcast. Listening to these podcasts gives me a lifeline to other adults with grown-up interests, which is something I need on days when I hear Daniel Tiger songs nonstop.

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Vitamin-D. Oregon is rainy and cloudy and cold during the winter. And I am usually okay with it. I like having an excuse to cozy up indoors with Netflix and stretchy pants. But this year, it’s been hard, especially on Asher. So any day that isn’t raining, we like to get outside, even if just for 30 minutes. Asher has a balance bike that he rides, and I either push Evie in the stroller or wear her in my trusty Tula carrier. Intentional time outside, however brief, has been good for all of us.

What’s saving your life this winter?

I’m linking this post up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

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