Oh, that's a little unkind to greet you with such sights first thing in the morning! Here, let's skip right to the "after", shall we? ...
Better, yes? That's how I feel. Sometimes one has to make a bigger mess before order can follow. But ahhh...the deep breath and space for creativity that follows is delightful.
My work with Taproot this past year and more has meant that most of my studio time is spent at the computer, or on the phone, or (best of all) reading in the rocking chair. I do more sewing these days for my boys' dance studio - sateen, silk, tafetta and let's not forget the tulle! - than at home. But I've been gearing up for that to change. I miss it. I have clothes I want to make myself and my babies, curtains that need replacing, mending to be done, and most immediately and of great importance - quilts to be stitched. A quilt! I am soon to have a ten year old in the house and it seems like just the right time to replace his quilt. (Also? He asks me every day, sweet boy.)
This birthday of his is close - a little less than a month away. I have one lone square complete....and nineteen to go (plus all that pesky quilting and binding). But that's manageable, right? One a day? I can do that. Now that I can find my way to the sewing machine, now that the fabric scaps are thinned down to a reasonable basket full, and knitting projects tidily put away and organized, I've got myself some space and order in which to settle in for a nice long project. This is going to be fun.
Ready, set, go.
Whenever anyone asks Adelaide what she'd like for a holiday or birthday gift, the answer is always (and always has been) one kind of live animal or another. A horse. A cat. A rabbit. A duck. Really, she'd take anything, I think, excepting spiders. (they're not very cozy, she says.) Hard pressed for a second choice after realizing another real animal won't be given, she'll tell you 'a stuffed animal, then'.
For her handmade Solstice gift this year, I made her a Mama Cat and her Skirt Dwelling Kittens, a pattern by Dorie of Tumbling Blocks blog. It was such a fun little project! The fabric on Mama cat is from Anna Maria's new collection. And the embroidered trim with beets - Adelaide's favorite vegetable - is from here. You can't quite tell from any of these photographs, but the kittens all tuck into the Mama's skirt through an opening in the back.
She named the Mama cat and her kittens just as I knew she would - after her own Mama cat, Piper and the four kittens as Adelaide had named them while they were with us - Cloud, Rainbow, Sally and Billy Blunt. Though we sadly lost miss Sally cat last spring, Adelaide still gets updates on the other three from time to time. Always checking up on 'her' kitties, this one - embroidered, stuffed, and most certainly the real ones that find their way to her, wherever she may be.
The stockings are hung! Not above the woodstove, for that would be quite the fire hazard (and where would I dry our wet mittens?), but on the staircase with care, where we walk by them many times a day, where little things are hidden in them by little hands, and where there is room enough for them all.
Annabel's - finished just last night - was made with a bit of cross stitched snowflakes (the patterns being from Modern Folk) on some Cashel Linen, stitched with Weeks Dye Works floss, all thanks to the Winterwoods Sampler which has me quite in love with that variegated floss. Keeping it simple after all those little stitches, I used some heavy red wool suiting I've had on hand, with some of Anna Maria's lovely Field Study in plum for the lining and hanging loop. And with that, my baby girl has her very own stocking. (A little more info on the making of Adelaide's, and Harper's. Steve, Calvin and Ezra's - which is hanging funny in all these photos, sorry - were all knit from Christmas Stockings: Holiday Treasures to Knit.)
When I made the first set of stockings - Steve and Calvin's - over a decade ago, I never imagined that the ones that followed would end up being so very different from one another (let alone imagining just how many stockings would follow!). There's some knitting, embroidery, cross stitch, vintage fabrics, quilt pieces, buttons from my grandmother...and on and on. Reflective, surely, of whatever craft I was most excited about that particular year. They're not even all facing the same way, for goodness sakes. But all is as it should be, and perhaps mirroring a bit, the abundance of activity, difference and style that exists together in this family of seven. They were most definitely all made with love, and what they represent - our family together and the holiday season we celebrate - fills me up with so much joy.
a little something for him....
(in which you see photographic evidence that on Solstice Knit #2, I've already broken my self-imposed stash-only rule. Oh well, knitting rules were made to be broken, right?)
I don't get very emotionally attached to the things I sew. Or rather, I get "emtionally attached" by way of association. Just a glimpse of a print of fabric can send me reeling down the memory lane of motherhood - back to the day that Calvin wore that green and white knit hat to the beach and said "ball" for the first time; back to the moment Adelaide took her first step, wearing that yellow gnome smock; or all the many moments late at night when I've removed a book - or two - from Ezra's sleeping still-gripping-the-book hands, and pulled that quilt up over his shoulders with a kiss. It isn't the hat, the smock, the quilt I care deeply about, of course, but sometimes just the sight of them remind me of wonderful moments with the very people I do care so deeply about. I make things with the hope that they be worn, loved, and assuredly made quite dirty. And like all pieces of clothing or bibs or whathaveyou, they are sometimes accidentally left behind in the places we go. I do not mourn their loss. Not terribly, anyway.
With all of that said, I must confess that there was a little twinge of something deep in my belly when I got a call several months back now. I can't remember the circumstances, but I was running errands when Steve called to warn me before I arrived home and discovered it myself. There had been a bit of an accident, you could say, with Ezra's quilt. A sweet sibling of his had, in a moment of solitary activity (oh those quiet moments), found his way to Ezra's bed. And with permanent marker in hand, used it as a blank canvas. A little gift of art for his big brother. Ahem.
For a while after that, I looked with eyes half-closed when pulling that quilt up over his shoulders at night. His quilt! His "baby" quilt! I wanted that to snuggle him for a very long time. But slowly, as I began to lift my fingers from my eyelids, and as I began to realize that no magic solution was going to remove that marker, I mean art, it began to look more like a really wonderful opportunity. Because that quilt I made when my little boy was three? While it's still his (and always will be - Sharpie only further personalizing it and adding to the story), it really doesn't fit the funky, creative, awesome nine year old he is today.
Ezra was thrilled with the prospect of a new quilt, and even more thrilled to have creative control as I welcomed him into my studio shelves, and for a little online fabric shopping, to choose the beginnings. And choose he did - pairing fabrics I never would have thought to put together. Ever. (My sweet boy who chose 'bandaid' as a wall paint color.) I kept all the "Wow!" "Really?" "Are you sure?" and "What about this..." comments to myself as I watched him make firm and clear decisions, answering my questions before I asked them. No, that orange can't go, Mom, it's the most important one. and Flowers are nice, I just don't want them on my quilt.
Happy with his color and fabric selections, he's turned the rest of the gathering and making over to me. I've had this amazing vintage quilt as a vision to work towards (it's wild! there's lots of color! it works!). I made one square (below) to give it a go. As I keep going, I'm a little stumped as to what fabric to add. More of the same prints? Something to ground all that color? Uh, to balance it? I can't take any of these fabrics away, but we can (and need to) add to it with a few more pieces (I'll need more fabric to complete it). If you have suggestions, I'm all ears.
I'm not certain of those details yet. But I am certain that this has already been a very fun project and I'm so excited to keep going on it. And I'm certain that this, this start anyway, fits my Ezra so very well. That I know for sure.
Most of the time, the handmades go in and out of rotation without any particular attention being paid to where they came from. This is as it should be for little ones with much better things to think about than who made their clothes. Without knowing for certain, it's just assumed that everything either came from Mama's sewing machine, a thrift shop or a generous bag of friendly shares. There are those others - that for one reason or another, or sometimes no reason at all - carry with them a little something more and we all remember - or at least mention - each and every time they're worn. A memory. A family story. "You made this Gretl dress for Calvin's fifth birthday because he loved The Sound of Music so much and wanted to be Gretl, right Mama? That's funny."
But the origins are never lost on me. Each day when my children dress themselves it is inevitable that a bit of handmade makes its way onto someone. I am not flattering myself by thinking that's because they prefer my handmades, it's quite simply a matter of the odds being in my favor in the stacks in their dressers. And so it is that at some point in each day as my littles come wandering down the stairs all sleepy eyed, lovely, and ready to greet the day...I notice. A freezer-paper stenciled tshirt that's still hanging in there. A pair of shorts I made out of Papa's old flannel shirt. A lazy day skirt. A handknit sock...and if they're lucky....a matching one on the other foot.
And in that quick and fleeting moment in the day, in the depths of my mind only, I am reminded of the gift of handmade. And I am reminded that the gift of handmade is not at all just a gift given to the recipient....but to the Maker, to this Mama, too. For I am suddenly transported to the long, cold winter I knit those socks by the fire with coloring books and crayons as the child's work at my side; the smile on my three (now eleven) year old's face when he stood at the edge of the ocean wearing those shorts that day we were visiting with friends and the kite got stuck in a tree; the skirt I made for her big sister with a matching one for their cousin that made them giggle all afternoon, little the toddling and newly walking babies that they were.
In that passing moment, with feet firmly planted in the present, I am surrounded by the past. And in these days of parenting that are so very fleeting, I am given the gift of a little glimpse back. I get to hold them - in the memory in my mind anyway - for just a moment more.
After waiting anxiously for six days, we finally got our first letters home from our summer camper, away from home for the first time. Calvin's having a grand time - his repeated use of the word 'AWESOME' in all caps was reassuring. He says "the food is good. It's pretty much like Mom's". And that makes me giggle, because I don't really know what that means.
Harper's been wearing the Yummy Yucky pants a lot these days. So named because that's what the embroidered pockets say. I made them for Calvin when he was four. I was pregnant in the summer heat for the first time, and not always loving that feeling of the heat, pregnancy, and a breastfeeding toddler to boot. I remember that the embroidered stitches helped me tune out some of that discomfort. If I close my eyes and try real hard, I can hear the needle punching through the fabric, feel a backyard blanket under me, and hear two young boys giggling. I remember serging the pants with black thread because it's all I had, and I was anxious to get them done. I remember Calvin wearing them a lot that summer, and nearly every time I picture him on his skateboard, helmet on, sometimes safety goggles too.
Not all that unlike his big brother, Harper loves his gear too. His toolbox is often in hand, as he bounces about from project to project, following Papa all day long. He spends a lot of time hammering nails into soft wood stumps. (His brother did that too.) His bangs are long this summer. He says he wants to grow his hair out. He has to tilt his head a little bit to see past his bangs when he looks up at us. It's turning from his baby blond to brown, just like all of his siblings did before him.
Someday in the not so far off distant future, these pants could still be around. They might need a new elastic waist before the next child. They could just get lost along the way, but if I'm lucky, they might eventually make their way into the rag bag, in which case I imagine myself an old lady holding a tiny scrap of fabric as I'm about to wash a window and being pleasantly flooded with all of this. Perhaps all of these memories will blur - and Harper's bangs will find his way onto Calvin's skateboard or Adelaide's bicycle. I imagine these things get blurrier with time. But regardless of that, these times are good ones to remember. Blurry and all. And I will be grateful then, just as I am now, for all that is given - and received - with the gift of handmade.
(*Sorry, the song's been stuck in my head for weeks, I couldn't resist sharing that. Ahem.)
In just a matter of days, we will drop my baby boy off at sleepaway camp. Scratch that. My baby boy is really my eleven-year old, pre-teen, confident, adventurous, independent, and capable, but-will-always-be-my-baby...baby boy Calvin. He's beyond excited (mixed with a bit of nerves, says his Mama who knows him well), and we are all very excited for him (mixed with nostalgia from his parents and jealousy from his siblings).
We've been busy preparing for his time away - labeling all of his clothes as requested by the camp (really?), airing out the sleeping bag, choosing just the right books to bring, and practicing with the disposable cameras they request (nothing digital allowed). Naturally, I had to find a way to get a little bit of sewing and Mama-made into his camp bags. The many weeks away - with no phone calls or Skyping or anything of the sort - will mean a bit of letter-recieving and writing. Something to hold all of that seemed like the perfect way to send him off with something a little handmade.
I already have two patterns of my very own that would work for such a thing. But the Gratitude Wrap felt too cumbersome and frilly with the ties for this modern, keep-it-simple guy of mine, and I knew the wide open singular pocket of the Letter Satchel in Handmade Home would annoy the tidy, organized part of him. So I put a little something else together. A simple wrap, in a sturdy vintage striped linen. I added a few pieces of stamped linen that we made together years ago now (that are featured in The Rhythm of Family). Inside are pockets for a journal and pen, address book, blank letters to write and a place for letters received. (And a family photo tucked ever so discreetly amidst it all.) It's all held together with a bit of elastic and a yummy wood button from Mystic Orb.
And now the last thing that I think I'll need to make for this summer adventure of his is perhaps a handkercheif that I'll use just the second I get back in the car after giving a cheery and excited goodbye to my baby boy.
Oh....but what adventure awaits him! These are exciting times...growing up and into the people they are.
My littlest lady got herself a very special book for her very special first birthday. Just like the one her big sister got on her first birthday (that I documented in The Creative Family), and was and continues to be adored to this day, six years later (my how time flies).
Had I been a bit more on top of the ball, there would be many photographs documenting the process of the making of said book to share with you on this here blog of mine. But alas, this in-progress photograph is all I have. And this is rather telling, for the project came together - I must confess - on the eve of her birthday. What can I say? Inspiration struck. Mama love hit. Sentimentally reigned Queen. Whatever the reason, this little fabric book was the happy result.
Thankfully, I'm raising a bunch of last-minute nellies. Or rather, siblings who love their baby sister so much that they'll drop everything the night before to 'make some art' or 'write a poem' or 'tell me a story' to include in her book. With pride, and glee, and excitement - because truly, they adore this baby girl.
The stories they wrote, the poems they penned, the art they drew? Goodness, it made my Mama heart happy. SO much love.
The construction of the book itself is based loosely on Adelaide's. Each 'page' is two pieces of fabric with a single layer of batting in the middle. All of the fabric comes from Charlotte Lyon's Walnut Hill collection. I love this collection - so sweet and warm, and just perfect, I thought, as a comfy background to the story we wanted to tell without taking over the story.
The photographs and drawings were printed onto printer fabric sheets, and simply because I ran out of that, the text is printed with an iron-on transfer fabric that I happened to have a bit of. Had I had enough of the fabric photo paper, I would have preferred to do it all that way.
The trickiest part of making the book was keeping straight which pieces of fabric ended up as which pages in the book, and which photographs and text belonged on them. It helped enormously to create a mock book with pieces of paper to follow as I went along in the construction of it all.
The little miss loves her book. Love, love, loves it. I wasn't certain she would, given that board books in general hold little interest for her at the moment. But put a few pictures of the people (and animals) she loves on some soft and touchable fabric? Yes, please. Put down anywhere in the house, she'll soon find her way to the coffee table where this book lives, and begin clapping and pointing until there is an audience nearby to read to. Thank goodness, for this youngest baby of five, that there is always an audience.
Sweet pea. We love her so.
And with the passing of another day, my baby girl completed her very first spin around the sun.
We celebrated with a dinner as quiet and lovely as she is. There was lily of the valley, and lilacs - flowers that will forever remind me of that sweet season in which she was born, and of herself as well. She is a happy girl, this baby of ours, pure sweetness and light.
There was a little bit of sewing for her birthday - a crown, of course (there's a pattern in my first book, The Creative Family), and a new dress (the smocked sundress from Weekend Sewing). She ate a favorite 'first birthday cake' (Gracie's Yellow Cake from Feeding the Whole Family). And there were all the regular birthday traditions that now have a life of their own with the help of older siblings who remember to hang the banner, and find the cake topper, and clip the photographs. And on and on and year after year, we celebrate one another this way.
I am not all that far into my parenting journey in the grand scheme of a whole lifetime, but this dozen years has not passed without teaching me the most important lesson of them all. The days can be long, the years most certainly short. Hold them close and love them. Oh, I do. I really, really do.
There's been a flurry of spring sewing around here, and it isn't just me. All hands are on deck in the studio these days as the whirlwind of cutting, measuring, pinning and stitching is done by one and all. Sometimes resulting in finished things, but usually heavy on the cutting, measuring, pinning and stretching. It's all about the process, of course.
My Adelaide has recently reached the comfort level (mine and hers both) where she can do a bit of sewing entirely on her own. I have two sewing machines and a "studio" of sorts set up for the kids in the barn...but of course she prefers my studio and my machine. I don't blame her - I love that machine too. (Unfortunately, she doesn't share my love of a tidy workspace. Hmn. Maybe that comes with age?)
I love my kid's sewing - always perfectly suited to their needs and oh so very functional. Cat collars, cat leashes, and cat capes were all the rage this winter. Then there was a flurry of "pocket" sewing, whereby she made a stack of pockets to be pinned onto clothing which had none of their own. Functional fashion. Yes!
Most recently, she's been volunteering for the morning animal chore shift. One day, after watching her pracariously juggle the cup of grain for the sheep in one hand and a bucket of food for the chicken in the other, all while trying to wrangle the gate open....I saw her frustration at what she could carry at one time. There was a foot stomp with arms folded over her chest, followed by a march directly to the sewing machine. She came skipping out a short while later with this treasure on her shoulder. A grain bag, she announced. So that she had her hands free to do her work.
How's a Mama to stop herself from overflowing with pride? (I didn't even try.)
But I did follow her with a camera while she put it to use one afternoon recently. First stop was to the freshest pasture-clearing brush pile for a bit of poplar for her sheep. Did you know that poplar is a natural dewormer for sheep? We've just learned that. Can you identify a poplar? I can't, consistently anyway. She can, naturally. (Why stop the gushing pride now, I say.)
When a small trail of grain began following her, she realized her bag had a small leak coming from one of the corners. "Psh!" she laughed, "Backstitching!" remembering that she had forgotten to do just that. She scoured the ground for an appropriately sized stick to 'stuff' in the hole and walked on, bag 'fixed'.
Oh, these babies of mine. It is such an honor to watch them grow.
Ah....with a little bit of a break from each other and a bit of stubbornness persistence, this skirt and I have found our peace!
(Her horse swing, you might be wondering, is from here.)
The fabric is Lotta Jansdotter's Ruta Sarsparilla. Though it looks black, it's really a lovely chocolate brown, and on the heavy end of a quilting weight cotton, it's quite dreamy for a skirt fabric. The fabric was the very reason I persisted on with this project - I couldn't get the vision of it as a skirt out of my head.
The pattern, is the Drop-Waist Wrap Skirt from Simple Modern Sewing. (I also made a shirt from this book recently.) The patterns in this book are gorgeous - I have lofty goals of making many of them. But, even with the English translation, I do think the patternmaking takes a bit of sewing intuition to get to the end result of something wearable. For instance, I have to tell you that this "wrap", the one I carefully followed the instructions for....well, it's not a wrap. Not by any means. It's a fully yoked skirt that tightens with the drawstring running through and over the yoke. I'm not sure what that means - either the title is wrong, the directions were off, I had consumed too little coffee or too much wine, or was distracted somehow.
I don't know the answer to that, nor why the pleating originally resulted in a skirt that might have fit Annabel. Sometimes, I believe, it's best not to ask too many questions about such things. Because in the end, there's a very comfortable skirt on my hips. And all is well.
I must first give props to Steve, for his quick eye, handy truck, and faith in my plans. For it is he who picked this set up roadside. A vintage patio glider and three matching chairs, all in a rather sorry state of rusty, squeaky, tippy disrepair.
But never fear, for as my grandmother always said, "there's nothing that a little bit of imagination, elbow grease, and a can of paint can't fix". I don't know as though she said those words, exactly, but she certainly lived them. I try to too. It's just the treatment I gave this set - a good and thorough scrubbing with stainless steel to remove the rust, some sanding in the rough patches, a few coats of grey paint, and a bit of oil in the gliding parts.
Of course, it needed something soft and comfortable too. Rather than making a cushion that would stay on the glider (and be limited by 'outdoor fabric'), I used some existing pillows that we often bring in and out anyway. And to that, I added a new blanket - a Backyard Bee quilt!
(Yes, the dress multiplied! It kept raining. What was I to do but keep sewing summer?)
In a really big way, I stumbled head over heels in love with these fabrics when I spied them from Holly Ward Bimba's Woodland Collection (available at Spoonflower). Love, love, love. The "quilt" top is the three different prints cut and arranged in just a few strips, really. I added a light layer of batting, backed it with a brown slub linen, and tied it all. It all came together in one (really late) night. It's really all about those fabrics and keeping it simple felt best. Most especially in that those fabrics found their way off my studio table in the blink of an eye, and outside where they belong to be properly enjoyed by all those in need of a little backyard bee quilt.
Spring's presence is marked around here with all sorts of good things like opening the doors and windows, planting the garden, bicycles and mud, blooming trees and flowers, and oh most definitely....ball, bat and glove. This year, one more Soule has joined the official ranks of Little League, bringing our total now up to three players in three different leagues. Just this weekend brought five games. Five games! In two days! Oh my. While I am quite content to sit on the bleachers with excitement, enthusiasm (and knitting needles in hand) the truth is that it can be a rather long stretch of waiting for the little ones not playing the game. Sibling love and toddler cheering only goes so far before the novelty of yet another baseball game wears off.
This, as many of you probably know very well from your own days spent game side, is where the real show begins. With Coach Papa on the field, and a sibling out there too, that leaves me on the sidelines with four busybodies. Busy bodies who would love nothing more that to run out onto said field and play themselves, mid-inning. Or....run into the parking lot to play in the dirt piles. Or....be anywhere but at the game, sitting, waiting. We score when there's a playground nearby the ballpark, but that seems to be a rare occurrence this year. And so I find my job as baseball Mama being equal parts sideline cheering and sideline entertaining (heavy on the sideline entertaining).
Getting everyone out the door for a game (or dance class or lesson or whatever the case may be), there's a Mama roadblock, at which the most important questions are asked of all, one-by-one as they get into the car, 'did you brush your teeth?' 'where are your shoes?' and 'got your backpack?' (Everything else? Not so important.)
But oh, those backpacks are essential. (We love these - just the right size for such a thing.) Everyone has their own and has placed in it just what they'd like to do - books, marbles, cards, Mad Libs, horses and on and on. And in my basket? The water bottles and the all important - very important - snack bags (and some knitting too, because I am an eternal optimist).
Miss Annabel, I noticed at the very first game, was in need of her own little bag of goodness. Too little to carry her own backpack of course, I decide to make it an easy little drawstring that I could put inside my own basket. The fabric is a small stack of Cape Ann by Oliver and S, that I quickly sewed together for the outside of her bag. A lining, some ribbon for a drawstring, some of her favorite things to play with, and voila! A bag for everyone.
As early in the season as this may be, I'm feeling a small victory with the peace and entertainment happening on the sidelines. Bring on the baseball!
This pretty little disaster is a heap of fabric tossed into the corner of my studio. Oh, it's not a disaster really, just a skirt that somehow went awry. After what I thought was precise measuring, careful pleating and focused pattern-following, the initial try-on revealed that the skirt fit just one of my legs. That wasn't my plan. And so, after a few rounds with the seam ripper, enough was enough, and there it sits having a crafty cooldown of sorts. I'll get back to it soon - I'm a determined seamstress, I am - just as soon as I can look at it without cursing. Because a frustated sewer does not a good garment make.
I've noticed that after such frustrating (albeit, trivial) sewing endeavors, I find myself clearing the crafty air with something of ease and comfortable familiarity. Quick Change Trouser pants? Potholders? A Lazy Days Skirt? Or, a simple easy peasy, no pattern required, A-line skirt for my girl. Yes, that's just what I did.
I pulled a few pieces from the shelves that I thought my Adelaide would love - Heather Ross' Horses, a few pieces of Marisa's Meet the Gang sewn together, and a vintage print that I used once upon a time, for Adelaide's very own baby carrier (goodness look at that baby!).
Did she need new skirts? No. Did I need to make them? Why yes, yes I did.
I made them late that very night that I tossed my skirt into a pile, which of course meant that I had to measure her waist in bed. While she was sleeping. Somehow I've managed to never wake up a child doing this (it must be a mama superpower). Thankfully, all measuring in the dark was clear enough, and the easy skirts worked out just fine. My girl was thrilled in the morning to wake up and find herself with three new skirts on her bedroom floor, all covered in animals, and ready for the work of her day. Feeding sheep, singing to lambs, picking up chickens, chasing ducks, snuggling kitties, climbing trees to catch the birds, and stopping periodically to instruct her little sister in the ways of her world.
Ah...that's just what I needed. Exhale. Once again all is right and well and good in my sewing world.
As the weather has warmed, I've been doing my best to make sure the wardrobes are appropriately switched over from sweaters and socks to shorts and sandals. It turns out, all that sewing and thrifitng in years past have found us pretty well covered this season. There isn't a lot of sewing for the babes that needs to be done (which doesn't mean there won't be any, just that there's no need. There's a difference, you see?)
But Mama, well Mama could use some freshening. Something that isn't intended for a growing belly, something that doesn't have paint spilled on it, something that isn't covered in peanut butter stains...yet.
And so, as a result of moving myself up on the sewing priority list, followed by a recent late night in the studio, I've got myself a new dress! Tunic? Yes, I suppose that's what it really is. It's a Built By Wendy pattern - Simplicity 3692 - View A dress, with the View C sleeves. I think I'll try it again with a few tweaks next time. Because this dress must be made with pockets. (It just must.) And I think it needs a few more gathers at the front, too. But otherwise, it's close, and very comfortable.
The fabric is an older Denyse Schmidt, from the Hope Valley line, purchased once upon a time at the lovely Z Fabrics in Portland (which I am ansty to visit in their new space!). I think I want to make it in this print next time. Hmn..either that or a sturdy, but lightweight hemp. Perhaps both are in order.
Did you think I wouldn't wear it into the barnyard? Oh, but everything gets worn in there. Taking a cue from my favorite farm fashionista, we simply slap on a pair of farm boots and get to work.
Yes, three of them might be just right.
I try to keep it mellow on the matchy-matchy family clothes, but sometimes it just can't be helped. For example, when one finishes a shirt for oneself in the yummiest of fabrics that would be just perfect on a baby's skin, and wow, look at that! There's just enough for a shirt for said baby. Yes! Just a little matchy-matchy is a good thing, I do declare.
My shirt is the Short Raglan Sleeve Top from Simple Modern Sewing. I have great hopes for this book, and what I think it might do for my handmade plans. This was my second go at this simple pattern, from the muslin I decided to make this one a little bit less wide, and a little bit longer than the actual pattern. I think it works - the sleeve length is perfect for actually working around the house, it's loose and easy for breastfeeding, and then there's that super comfortable fabric that makes me feel like I'm wearing pajamas (that's a good thing). The fabric is the utterly amazing Nani Iro brushed cotton. Annabel's is a mini version of my own, drafted from the pajama pattern I use for her, with the addition of the double elastic at the neck like my own.
"Summer" came last week in a stretch of record-setting high temperatures. Those days found us outside with sandals and shorts, with the kids asking for trips to the lake and ice cream for dinner (alas, the local ice cream shops weren't quite geared up for the season yet. Never one to miss an opportunity for ice cream for dinner, you can be certain I checked).
But now we are back to March - it's cool and windy and everything looks like a variation on the same color - somewhere between brown and grey. It's March in Maine, and all is as it should be. It's good. But oh that taste of summer! I guess you could say I still had those summer days on my mind in the making of this latest little outfit from Annabel. We're all ready for a bit of color!
The dress pattern is the very simple Citronile Adele (just like these), once again paired with a pair of Quick Change Trousers from Anna Maria's Handmade Beginnings. The fabric is an organic cotton from Betz White's Stitch collection. It's such a great weight - super crisp and lovely feeling, and the colors - ah, the color!
Photographing Annabel these days - or parenting her, for that matter - involves following her getting-faster crawl from room to room, looking ahead as best I can for all the little bits of life and ick that might be in her sightlight to put in her mouth. She does it all as quietly as can be, and always with a smile on her face. Oh, the quiet ones with the sparkles in their eyes.
Annabel Edrie has decided that she'd like to be the earliest eater of all of my babes, and well, that she is. Passing all this Mama's marks of readiness - does she have teeth? Is she using a pincer grasp? Can she sit up? Does she have interest? - she recently joined us at the table, at just over eight months old now. At first, it was with bowl and spoon to mimic what we were doing (her bowl and spoon are from here), then a little bit of water in a cup, and then it wasn't long before she got louder (and louder) asking for food - just like the rest of us.
We acquired a "new" high chair since Harper was in one. Some dear friends passed on this lovely chair, no longer in use by their big and growing grandchildren. It's such a sweet and funny thing - high chair, rolling chair, and potty (yes, potty) all in one! Oh my. See how it folds onto itself up there? I imagine we'll use it just as a high chair, but still...so very sturdy, functional, sweet and full of the good energy of many babies who have sat here.
In the beginning, I slipped a sheepskin in here for her comfort, but once food entered the picture, that got a little ridiculous to clean after each meal. So Annabel and I headed into the studio for a little bit of making in the form of chair pads for her seat. I used a piece of high-density foam chairpads (like this) as the base for each, and a sturdy linen/cotton blend fabric from the Echino collection. The cover has snaps on the back for easy removal and washing, with contrasting fabric for the ties. Simple and good.
With that done, now my little girl can eat in comfort and style. For there's a whole root cellar full of squash that she herself is putting quite a dent in (I simply bake it and cut it into chunks she can pick up and eat), and all that applesauce I made her. We've been telling her all about the garden, too, and all the goodness that she'll soon be eating from there. I think she's excited about that. We're excited to share it all with her, too.
I never even put that velveteen on the fabric shelf (it's In the Clearing by Anna Maria Horner). I knew it wouldn't stay here long as yardage. Instead, it sat right on my cutting table in the middle of my studio, calling to me each time I walked by it.
I cut into it the very first chance I got, very late one night this week, and made this simple bag. Fabric like this doesn't need a whole lot of fussiness, in my opinion. Keeping it big and letting it shine on its own is what I wanted to do with it. I used the Big Easy Sling bag from Sew What You Love. It is, indeed easy...and big. Which is perfect for all the toting-around of many things that this Mama seems to be carrying these days. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Yarn, sippy cups, journals, an extra diaper for when I don't want to cart around a whole diaper bag, and um, extra bandaids. Good golly there's a whole lot I carry around, and it's all tidily within the comfort of the softest fabric I've ever touched (and keep touching). Velveteen. Yum.
I made Annabel some new pants recently. (Because she just keeps growing this little girl.) They're the Quick Change Trousers from Anna Maria's Handmade Beginnings. Yes, I know. I am a broken record about these pants. But they're really that good. It's all that reversible, roll-up cuff goodness.
(All of these prints were buried deep within my fabric shelves and I've forgotten where they came from, with the exception of the yellow, which is from Lotta Jansdotter.)
These are my favorite...vintage wool plaid. I would very much like to enlarge them to fit me - with an equally wide cuff that's showing a red floral print too. Yes, please. And I would wear them to the ski lodge too, just like her. Because why not? (Her sweater is this one.)
I've got sewing on the brain right now in a big way. Some new fabric loveliness coming into my studio is certainly fueling the fire. In the top photograph, some Echino and Anna Maria Horner (in velveteen!), and below, a fun selection from Stitch by Betz White (organic! for Robert Kaufman).
Yes, I think this is precisely how I shall sail right on through the month of February - with fabric in my hands.
And you? What are you making these days?
We have a little rhythm that's evolved since we've lived here, since the boys have grown a bit older and a new little one was added to the bunch. After dinner, while Steve and I begin the post-dinner, before-bed wind-down with the littlest ones, the (big) boys clean up, wash and put away dishes. The 'deal' that makes this so sweet for them, and means that we hardly ever hear complaining, is that they get full control over the kitchen iPod while on cleanup duty. Both the artist and the volume. Which in a kitchen with lots of room to move around in, and two energetic boys who love music and dancing... means a nightly dance party. (And hopefully a minimum of breaking dishes. But you know...happy dishwashers are worth cleaning up a broken mason jar for every so often.)
It's a good time in there. We all step in from time to time to help, and dance...but really, this particular ritual is their thing, and their time, and they own it like nobody's business. It would be lovely and idyllic and convenient if we could all just listen to the likes of The Beatles all day long and be satisfied. But my exploring and curious music lovers are just that - curious and exploring. And there are many moments in their days where their chosen music isn't appropriate for all in a room. We make a lot of compromises - that's what families do. But this after dinner kitchen time? It's all theirs.
After all of that Lady Gaga/Flo Rida hoopla ("Hoopla, Mom? Really?" I can hear one of them saying right now), we can generally find them still together...reading. Though I think the dance party really continues all the way until they part ways and head to separate rooms to sleep.
All that to say, they got some new pajamas this week too, thereby completing my 'late for solstice' pajama set. As simple as simple can be - I knew that's just how they'd want them - they're elastic waist pants they can pair with their own shirts. Simple white tshirts, worn to ballet class, and jazz class and modern class...and to the important after-dinner clean up, followed by bed. Using Simplicity 2290, Calvin's are in this fabric, while Ezra's are in an out of print (I think) RJR flannel.
Just like that - one month later than intended - I've got five flannel pajama-clad babies, warm and happy. Which makes Mama happy too.
All Together Now. (I slip The Beatles in wherever I can.)
Oh, Brrr. Winter is truly here now!
We finally have ourselves a little bit of snow, some proper winter temperatures, and frozen ice. My littles are so excited with the 'beginning' of the season of snow and ice play. Skates are fitted and ready, sleds are by the door, ski poles scattered in the driveway, and I can't for the life of me get those ski boots off their feet - inside or not.
Meanwhile...inside, I'm stepping up my mission to 'keep them warm!" with the growing pile of flannel pajamas. Adelaide has worn little besides her jammies since she received them, and now Harper and Annabel can join her too as properly clad in mama-made warm jammies.
They each have two new pair. The fabrics, once again, are mostly Anna Maria Horner's (with the orange print being an exception). That flannel is just so thick and lovely, it's great for this. I'm sorry that I don't have a pattern source for you, as they were both drafted on-the-fly. Harper's, by tracing an existing pair (something I talk about in detail in The Creative Family), and Annabel's by eyeballing Adelaide's pattern and just cutting something smaller (if you're looking for something similar, Prudent Baby has a 2T tutorial).
Using the fabric on hand - small pieces and all - meant that I needed to mix the prints up a bit to get the fabric amounts I needed. Hence, Annabel's arms, and Harper's contrasting cuffs. Love that. I made Annabel's on the shorter side, to allow for all that crawling the little miss does. They work perfectly this way when paired with woolen underlayers. (These footed overalls get a lot of use these days).
Three down, just two more to go!
I'm Amanda Blake Soule. Mama of five, blog and book writer, magazine editor, and maker of all kinds of things. It's a pleasure to share here our family homesteading adventures, the things we make, and what inspires our days. Read more about my family and work here. I thank you for visiting!