the day i found a time capsule

i’m busy busy with wedding prep (my sister is getting married this weekend!), film petit sewing, family birthday parties, and learning my new job (!), so there’s not much time left to blog at the moment.  and when i get super busy in “real life,” you know what that means – i bring home guest posts!  

this one is from sew much ado’s flashback friday series, a really enjoyable (and often hilarious) collection of memories from crafty bloggers.  my original post went up here.  maybe it will help you get in a nostalgic mood, too, because vintage may returns next month!


Late one night, a few months ago, I was sewing, as I often do.  Suddenly, I needed a zipper and didn’t have the right size in my stash.  As a last ditch effort, I decided to look in the saran-wrapped box of notions that my grandma had left me when she died, but I had never opened.  It was then that my sewing stopped for the evening, because what I found wasn’t a zipper, but a time capsule.

flashback friday

My grandma had died in 2010 after living a long and full life.  She lost her first husband in WWII and married my grandfather, also a vet, a few years after the War ended.  She had five children of her own (including my dad), then decided she wasn’t quite done raising kids, so she adopted one more baby.  She was always proud to tell everyone how many grandchildren she had (I lost track around 30).  A year or so before her death, she told me the birth story of one of my uncles, where she walked to the grocery store and back in full labor.  She was a tough lady, a strong woman.  She wasn’t the most cuddly, sweet, always-have-candy type grandma – she was the grandma you learned botanical plant names from, you had memories of feeding the geese with, who told you stories of world travel.

flashback friday

I think women of her era were more self-sufficient.  They came of age during the Great Depression, they raised kids while so many of their husbands were at war.  They had to know how to cook, sew, knit, crochet, mend, needlepoint, embroider, can and preserve, garden, make more out of less.  Skills that a few of us possess today and that many of us are trying to reclaim, they all knew.

flashback friday

My grandma could do it all.  In her younger days, I’m told she was a prolific seamstress.  In her 70s she took oil painting classes, and in her 80s she passed the time by knitting.  She knitted a blanket for every great-grandchild at birth, and Em was one of the last to receive one.  It’s a treasure and Em knows how special it is – she refers to it as “great grandma’s blanket.”

flashback friday

I had to sneak this photo in – she happened to be in the hospital with heart trouble the day Em was born.  I never met my great grandparents, so I thought it was so cool that Em got to meet hers. 

flashback friday

So anyway, when I was looking for that zipper, I opened the three boxes she had left me – her one grandchild who sews – and was stopped in my tracks. I found her coursework from when she took sewing as a teenager.  Tucked inside her “Dressmaking Made Easy” book were graded work samples, smocking, buttonholes, stitch finishes…all sewn by hand.  I try to sew in a way that’s technically correct, but I’m self-taught.  My sewing now is nowhere near the skill level of my grandma at ages 16 and 17.

flashback friday

As I think about it now, I’m guessing she’d likely been sewing since she was a child.  Those classes took her to the next level and earned her a degree.

flashback friday

Tucked in with her coursework, there was a photo of her mother, religious cards, and photos of her, as well as the (handmade) pincushions she used, with pins still in them.  Her graduation announcement and certificate were there too.

flashback friday

I’m not sure what lesson I learned that night.  I mostly felt in awe of her skill and beauty as a 17-year-old.  It made me more sure that sewing is in my blood on both sides of the family, as my mom is also a technically skilled and talented sewist.  It made me want to learn more, to build my skills and pass them on to my kids, to continue the legacy of sewing in my family.  It made me feel proud that my grandma thought I was deserving of her sewing supplies enough to will them to me.  I feel a real responsibility to carry on the tradition.

Thanks so much for having me, Abby!  This was such a joy.

2012 in review

at the end of 2011, i felt like i was at the top of a water slide, looking down, feeling the water rush past me, but hesitant to let go.  i had just turned 30, i had just been invited to participate in season 3 of Project Run & Play, and i honestly didn’t feel ready.  my blog was still in its infancy and not generating much traffic yet, i wasn’t used to drafting my own patterns, and i would need to sew all during the Christmas season to be ready for the early January start date.  i had no idea whether what i made would even turn out, whether i’d have the time to participate while working 4 days a week, how i’d get photos during the dark and rainy winter months, whether anyone would even vote for a blogger they’d never heard of.  i almost said no.

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 8.49.00 PM

but i said yes.  i let go.  i flung myself into the challenges, trying as hard as i could.  i was as creative as my skills let me be, i pushed myself, i tried to bring new ideas to the competition.

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 8.49.43 PM

i tied Kate for fourth place in a double elimination.  i was proud for making it as far as i did, but pretty disappointed not to make it to the finale.  being voted on/judged by the public was really hard on me, and it seemed people didn’t “get” my designs like i’d hoped they would.  however, the support i received from you guys during my recap post carried me through, and from it all i gained new confidence.  i’d never sew (or blog) the same way again.  i think about the presentation and photography of each post more carefully now, and i have no fear of creating my own pattern if i need to.  i’m not afraid to take more risks, and i don’t hesitate to support others that i see putting themselves out there and trying new things, too.  because of that quick growth and shift in perspective, project run & play was the best thing i’ve ever done.

it also led to some super fun opportunities.

jess noticed how i remixed her junebug dress as my sweet tartan dress in week 1, and she asked me to co-host a series with her.  vintage may was born (click icon to see my vintage may posts).

Vintage May 2 (1)

i then acted as a “tim gunn” for jessica as she won season 4 of PR&P, an awesome thrill to see a friend succeed where i hadn’t.  i wished we had a movie challenge like they got.  after her season was over, we brainstormed a way to create our own movie challenge that we could sew together for fun and to keep pushing ourselves (and each other) design-wise.  film petit was born.

film petit by skirt as top

film petit: the life aquatic with steve zissou

film petit: amelie
film petit: fantastic mr. fox
film petit: psycho

film petit: moonrise kingdom

my summer was full of guest posts, and i learned how to write better tutorials.

fruit stripe skirt tutorial

and during KCWC in the fall, Rae and I had a little sew-off.  also super fun.

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 9.26.14 PM

toward the end of 2012, my blog seems to have grown enough to attract the attention of people wanting to pay me to do what i love.  i now have two awesome sponsors (Britex Fabrics and Blank Slate Patterns) and i’m so grateful to them both!  it’s a dream i didn’t even know i had, to be paid to be creative and MAKE things.  and it’s coming a little bit true.

i achieved many of my 2012 goals:

  1. sew more clothes for me (i sewed a tank, bow collar shirt, two washi dresses, and a couple skirts!  here’s my sewing for women category)
  2. make at least one more quilt (i made four, plus two quilted patchwork pillows – here’s my quilt category)
  3. really learn how to sew zippers into garments (check!)
  4. work to decrease my stash rather than continuing to add to the mound (FAIL but at least it’s better organized now)
  5. maybe throw in a project for my husband?  (nope, didn’t happen)

really what i did in 2012 was let go of a lot of fears.  i’m still intimidated by men’s clothes (JUST TOO DARN BIG) and i don’t feel like i could design a women’s dress yet, but i do think i can sew from a women’s pattern and make adjustments as needed.  i now sew with much more confidence, both that i have built the skills to make what i set out to make, and also in my own creative vision and voice.  i realized i really do have ideas and they’re different from other people’s ideas and i can try as hard as i want and good things will come.


there were tradeoffs.  i love sewing and the creative/community aspect of blogging SO much, and it’s something i look forward to doing and wish i had more time to do.  my mental “want to make” list is very long.  my sewing/blogging time initially was carved out because i stopped watching trash TV in the evening, but i still often sew late into the night after the kids are in bed.  i felt like a zombie many times during the year – sewing or blogging past midnight (even past 2am on multiple occasions where a guest post was due or a PR&P project needed to be photographed) and getting up for work at 6:30 the next morning (i work at an office job 4 days a week).  i have a raging coffee addiction.  i’ve always been an athletic person but sewing fills the same “calm me down” need that working out does and i’d rather sew than go for a run, so i feel pretty out of shape these days.  my husband and i have talks about life balance.  i do feel out of balance sometimes.  i’m trying to say no more often so my schedule can be flexible.


my big huge goal in 2013 is to release a sewing pattern.  there are a lot of skills i need to learn first, but i very much want to make it happen.  and now i’ve written it down.  so it needs to happen.

and there ya go.  my 2012 recap.  thank you SO much for reading, for trusting me, for being so supportive.  it’s an amazing feeling to be taking risks and to be encouraged to take them, to be inspired by and to be inspiring others.  you’ve helped me realize i actually might be sort of a creative person.  sewing bloggers have carved out a pretty cool little section of the internet for ourselves, and i couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this community.

cheers to 2013!

confession sunday (on a saturday): a prayer

i’m beyond devastated at the news out of newtown, CT.  my heart hurts so badly i almost can’t stand it, and i’ve spent a good part of the last two days crying.  i fell asleep snuggled close to Em last night, letting myself feel safe and calm in her bed.  the Clackamas mall shooting hit very close to home, physically, and this now has hit very close to home for me emotionally.  i can’t help but imagine Em there – my sweet little gal that loves school so much, and has such a pure heart.  i can’t even comprehend the devastation of those families.

i also have a good amount of anger, both at the shooter(s) and at the fact that this keeps happening in America.  i don’t like being so angry.  i don’t think it’s helpful or productive, though i know it’s part of the grieving process.  and in times of grief and crisis, i often turn to prayer.  i don’t talk about my faith on my blog much – it’s a sewing blog, it exists to share the pretty and creative parts of my life.  i don’t talk about my faith much in real life either, frankly.  but today i wanted to share this prayer, which is a song i know from childhood.  it’s based on the prayer of st. francis and it speaks to my heart.  no matter your faith (or lack thereof), i hope you can interpret these words in a way that bring you peace and help you move forward as they’re currently helping me.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness only light,
And where there’s sadness ever joy.

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul. 

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

i will resume regular blogging sometime this week as i feel up to it.  we are postponing our film petit post by a few days, and it will be a fun one.  happy, positive, lovely things are all around us, it’s the holiday season, and life goes on.  but i couldn’t let this horrific event pass without you knowing it has hurt my heart so deeply and that what follows on this blog will be posted in an attempt to raise spirits, share joy, bring smiles, and give peace.  as always.

take care.

a grape dress & a strawberry backpack

grape dress and strawberry backpack

first day of pre-k for Em!  i somehow had the foresight to take today and tomorrow off of work; if i hadn’t i surely would’ve been so distracted i wouldn’t have gotten anything done anyway.  my husband was able to go in late this morning too, so we all walked her to school which was great!  she skipped…SKIPPED to school.  she was SO excited.

grape dress and strawberry backpack

i was actually really nervous about today.  she’s my first little one going to school, and i just have all sorts of feelings about how i don’t want school to mess with her.  i had a rough time with being teased and just feeling constantly awkward in middle school especially, but i’ve been telling myself she’s only in pre-K, the school is full of really nice people, she’s there with three of her cousins (one is even in her class) and she already knows her teacher because her son goes to the same babysitter…she’ll be fine.  she loves learning and playing with other kids her age, so she’s totally ready for school; it’s just that i’m not quite there yet!

grape dress and strawberry backpack

sometimes when i’m stressed, i make myself super busy so i don’t have time to think about what’s stressing me out.  for instance, i decided she needed a handmade backpack last week and let her pick out the material.  i figured, once again, if she will be wearing a uniform, she needs a super Em-like backpack.  she chose this very cool strawberry laminated cotton by timeless treasures, with pink piping and a pink zipper.

grape dress and strawberry backpack

it’s the Made by Rae toddler backpack pattern.  i enlarged it to school size per Rae’s instructions, basted canvas to the laminated cotton for structure, added a split pocket in the front, a patch pocket on the inside, and fully lined it in this green wicker print by michael miller that i’ve had for ages.  i sewed everything except the lining with my walking foot, which worked great.

grape dress and strawberry backpack
the backpack is not a quick sew as i mentioned before, but it is SO satisfying when it’s done!

grape dress and strawberry backpack

grape dress and strawberry backpack

since we were out of town for the labor day weekend, i didn’t finish the backpack until monday afternoon as naptime ended (well, aside from hand sewing the lining).  but on my way home…i had also decided i needed to make her a dress for her first day (she doesn’t have to wear a uniform for the first two weeks, which gives me more time to procrastinate/sew).

grape dress and strawberry backpack

i stayed up until almost 2am finishing the backpack and making the dress – so worth it.  i poured a lot of love into the dress and made it just for her to feel good on her first day.  it’s in pink and purple, her favorite colors, with a full twirly skirt, pink buttons, pink bow, and pink trim!  i had even picked up a couple H&M flower clips for her hair.

grape dress and strawberry backpack

the pattern is my own design, the same one i made for her amelie dress (which she loves) but with the back tie and a few tweaks.  shirring wasn’t working for me last night and i had wanted to try a tie anyway, so that helped take away some of the boxiness while keeping it comfy.  i think i might make this available as a free pattern/tutorial sometime in the future, if people are interested..

grape dress and strawberry backpack

the tie is bias tape, the bottom band is shot cotton, and the fabric is kona cotton…i really love how it looks on her and of course she loves the colors.

grape dress and strawberry backpack

she had a great first day at school (they played dress up, had story time, took a walking tour of the school…important stuff).  it was strange for me just being home with O all morning – I haven’t spent much one-on-one time with him like that for a long time, since Em is usually around!  neat to have that time with him now that he’s really starting to turn into a little chatterbox.  the one time i teared up was when he asked “where Em go?” this morning!  argh!

when we went to pick her up and i told her he had missed her, she gave him a “big squeeze” to make him feel better.  she also called him her best friend.  seriously, it was a heartmelter.  🙂

hope all you mamas sending your little ones off to school are making it through okay!


i was sneaky. when i made Rae’s flashback skinny tee for my niece, it was to practice the pattern so i could remix it into a dress for a guest post over at elsie marley! HA! my post is up today – check it out here.


you guys are all signed up for Meg’s Spring Kids Clothes Week Challenge next week, right? it’s one of the most motivational blog events out there, especially for those of us that have lots of projects piled up in our heads and just can’t seem to ever shorten that list. it’s a great way to pound out a nice base of clothes for your kids during the transitioning seasons. during fall 2011 KCWC, i completed 5 items in 6 days! it felt great. here’s what i sewed:

kcwc fall 2011

hopscotch skirt | polka dot PJs | rosy pierrot | sailboat cords | angelina tutu

i’m not sure how much i’ll be able to accomplish this go around, but maybe i’ll surprise myself! i’ll likely be spending a good portion of the weekend tracing and cutting to get ready. i’m hoping to try the new oliver + s croquet dress, sew at least one pair of pants for my growing boy, and i really want to try some pinned-long-ago tutorials from blogs i love. but that could all change…we’ll see what happens!


and hey guess what else? this week i got to visit one of my favorite cities, san francisco, to take a 2 day class for work. most of the time i was stuck on the 21st floor of a high rise office building, but i DID have an evening free, and i made the most of it! i met up with cherie of you & mie (she’s a new blogger on the rise with the coolest taste – i mean look at this adorableness and all of this!). we had emailed a back and forth a bit, and she was super awesome in person – there was no lack of conversation in the 5 hours we hung out, and we’d never even met before! i guess when you’re both sewing/blog nerds there’s lots to talk about. 😉


we drooled all over four floors of amazing fabric at britex (look at all those rows of liberty!!!), had a lovely french dinner, then wandered around the city hunting for dessert. it was wonderful. i wasn’t too thrilled about being away from the kids, but meeting cherie gave me something to look forward to. thanks so much for making my trip a great one, cherie! i want to move to your city!!

i bought a couple things at britex…now to figure out how to work them into KCWC! can’t wait!