Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Inside is as Important as the Outside

We all know that it’s more important to be beautiful on the inside as a person, but did you know that children are happier when their clothing is “beautiful” on the inside, too?

As you may know, Peter has Sensory Integration Disorder and also Asperger Syndrome. As you can probably well imagine, scratchy tags and poorly fitting clothing bothered him as a baby more than it bothered me, and often was the source of irritation for “no reason” (Oh what I wish I’d have known!!) Sometimes he would be upset for “no reason” only to discover that when wrapped in a soft blanket after a diaper change, or put on fleecy pajamas, his disposition would almost instantly improve.

With his condition, he is able to focus intensely on a single subject or aspect of a subject. This is both a boon and a bane, for when he’s uncomfortable in his clothing, he is thoroughly distracted. He cannot concentrate on “important” things, because all of his attention is focused on solving the “problem”of his discomfort. As he grows older, he’s more self-aware of this, and will wear his undershirts inside out under sweaters, so he has no scratchy tags or seams, and requests “soft” clothing. He always prefers mommy-made garments for their consideration of his needs. When I ordered tags for my clothing lines, I was sure to ask for approval on texture from Peter before I placed the final order, because if he’s comfortable, any child will be comfortable!

I have discovered with Ella that I default toward consideration to the most sensitive and high-needs requirements as a matter of course. This means Ella gets very specific directions, and all her clothing is designed for the ultra-sensitive child. J is convinced that it’s for this reason (our Peter-parenting experience) that Ella is such an “easy” child.

Over the years I’ve learned that it’s not only high-needs children who are bothered and distracted by clothing, socks, “hard” seams in jeans, inflexible shoulder seams, exposed stitching, loose threads, etc. Even adults have these issues, and it’s for those people and infants and toddlers that my garments are especially suitable.

Please have a look through the following photo examples and you’ll see what I mean.

Enclosed (French) Seams and flat-stitched hem:


Bound inside hem, Jacket fully lined in fleece:


Bound hem and seams:


Bound seams, inside finish on cuff:

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Turned-and-stitched shoulder seams inserted into yoke lining:


Fully lined tunic with smooth snaps:


Bound sleeve hem:


It’s for Peter and all sensitive children that the insides of my garments are designed to be as smooth and comfortable as possible. Sure, this takes extra time, effort, engineering, and materials, but I think all our little ones appreciate the intent. They may not notice….but that’s the point!

I hope that One Girl Circus and One Boy Circus clothing will be my customers’ favorites. Hers or his because they are so comfortable, and their parents’ because they are so durable, washable, and simple. 



Filed under creativity, motherhood, sewing

Cross Cultural Friendship

…or…the Internet is a wonderful place!

As you all know, we are here in Copenhagen, Denmark for our annual trip for J’s job.  I love this city, and have since the first moment I set foot here 4 years ago, but now I have reason to love it even more: friends!

I’m sure many of you read Astrid’s beautiful Connecting The Dots blog, and you have seen her beautiful creations, most notably her beautiful children!  We “met” through the yahoo sewing group ottobre-english.

Well, I was fortunate enough to have spent the day with them yesterday at the Copenhagen Zoo.  It was cold and rainy, and the girls were a little shy at first (I have to admit, so was I!) but in the end, coloring books, snacks, and the sweetest little Frida has us all come out of our shells to have a lovely time!

Ronja and Ella held hands periodically as we walked.  (It’s too bad I’m not a very good (or quick) photographer, because it was really, really darling!)  I just loved watching them interact, and they really seemed fond of each other.


Ronja is so beautiful, and a loving big sister to her little Frida. Sweet Frida had a nap after her sparkle, shiny, smiley lunch.  She is probably the happiest baby I have ever met, and so beautiful, all the time! She really has a twinkle in her eye….as if everything is amusing to her.

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Ella and Ronja also taught each other the names for the animals in their respective languages.  It was so sweet to see them talking to each other, only briefly pausing from time to time for Astrid’s translations.

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Ronja made Ella the most beautiful drawing!  I cannot wait to frame it and hang it in her room! (And seriously, how on earth could any fabric be this beautiful?  Astrid gave me the loveliest collection of Danish fabrics and now I miss my sewing machine.)

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When it was time to leave, Ella asked if Ronja was coming to our “hotel-house” to color some more with us.  If that isn’t an endorsement of a budding cross-cultural friendship, I don’t know what is!


Filed under inspiration on the web, life, motherhood, traveling

Evolution of a custom gift

A dear friend of mine asked me to create a “WOW” gift to give to a family with a small daughter.  I was told the mother’s style is “classic and modern, but a little funky”.  I decided to err on the side of caution and provide a less-than-funky, but sure to please modern “classic.”

She chose the Felted Wool Cut-out Lace Jacket:

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and asked me to create something adorable to give along with it.  The little recipient of this outfit is just learning to walk.  Is almost a year old and wears a size 6-9m in typical ready-to-wear clothing.  I used a generous sizing method to fit 6-12 months (I hope it works!!) and thought I’d make her a dress.  The more I considered what to make, however, the more I realized that a girl learning to walk might need pants.  Despite the CA location of this little girl,I knew that winter is cooler everywhere, and I wanted something to take her through the seasons, as long as she fit in the clothes.

So, I  decided on a tunic – nearly long enough to be a dress, but not so long as to interfere with the process of learning to walk.  I started with a baby kimono I admired from a book I bought back in August up in Marquette, MI. I made a “muslin” to test the pattern, since I rarely keep a pattern I didn’t make as it is(….actually, I rarely keep a pattern as is even if I DO make it, because there is always room for improvement!)

Here I used a Butter Yellow Tencel with a sweet poplin print on the outside:

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I guess technically, it’s reversible.  Ella loved it, too bad it won’t fit!

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The pattern calls for a ribbon closure, but I imagine ribbon might not be the most comfortable on the inside of a shirt, unless there is a t-shirt under it.  If I sell this, I’ll call it a “Jacket” so no one has an itchy baby 🙂

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I thought the cuffs were a bit clumsy to install, and the binding would have looked nicer installed as piping, but all the way around, or not at all and maybe a clean finish. 

For my purposes, the “shape” was a little lacking.  I wanted less “infant” and more “little girl.” I cut the pattern abut 2 inches under the arms, and attached a skirt from this dress after  I adjusted the width to fit, and the curve to match more nicely as a wrap.

I used some absolutely adorable fabric from Kokka’s Trefle line in a linen/cotton blend and lined the whole thing with a super soft cotton batiste.

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In my new and improved version, I closed with snaps (invisible from the outside) an trimmed with ribbon. 

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I also changed the construction to simply bind the sleeve openings to the inside:

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I had *just* received some gorgeous teal colored wool double-jersey which I had tried to felt, and it simply didn’t want to so I knew it would be *perfect* for kids’ clothing.  Washable, and stretchy!  It just happened to perfectly match the ribbed velvet ribbon I chose for the trim.

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I struggled with adding a knit item.  Not because I don’t like knits, but because to me, an overlocked seam doesn’t exhibit a “fine” finish.  For knits, it is perfectly appropriate, however, and I just decided to go with it.  I made a flare-legged legging with a matching cuff.  It should wind up to be capri length, and it will show of some super-cute shoes, I’m sure!

My friend is happy with her purchase (it arrived today at her home), and I cannot wait to hear how the end-recipient enjoys the package!

I love it, and I may just make one for Ella in her size!


Filed under sewing

Ace Traveler

Wow, Ella is a wonderful travel companion.  She listened at the airport, behaved well on the plane, is generally a lot of fun. J’s seat was moved and we had a bit of drama.  His claustrophobic self was not going to get on the plane if they didn’t move his seat back to an aisle (as I originally arranged after being on the phone for almost an hour with the frequent traveler desk).  J has traveled over 150k miles with Northwest this year, and yet the gate staff elected to give him a hard time about moving him back to an aisle seat.  Once that was straightened out, he was on the opposite side of the plane from us, but at least he had an aisle.

Ella watched Sid the Science Kid on my Zune for a little while and then slept once they (finally) turned out the lights.  Of course, there was not enough room for us to lie down, so I sat on the floor in front of her and let her sleep across the two seats until my legs went numb.  Then I ended up holding her on my lap while I sat on my (broken tailbone) seat.  The armrest in the new KLM plane does not completely lift between the seats, and that was rather annoying.  I couldn’t complain much, though, because I had a perfectly behaved child.  (What a pleasant surprise!) Here she is having a snack of her favorite crackers (Trader Joe’s Multigrain mini crackers with soy sauce) and she also drank a liter of water and two glasses of apple juice.  The most hydrated of all of us once we left the plane!

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When we arrived at Schipol Airport, we headed straight for the KLM Crown Lounge.  One benefit of having a frequently-traveling husband is to have access to the nice lounges.  Too bad I’m on so much medication, so I couldn’t avail myself of the mimosas, but a coffee and some cookies were a nice treat before I took a 40 minute nap.  Ella licked the salt off of some pretzels and ate some packages of Jam before coloring and reading with Daddy:

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That red shirt she is wearing is something I made for Peter when he was FOUR YEARS OLD.  I guess I never fully realized how little he was!  He certainly has grown!

He emailed me yesterday.  What a sweetheart he is.

When we arrived at the Hotel FRONT, we were exhausted.  In fact, Ella ell asleep almost immediately, so J had to go out to dinner with our friend who’s in town by himself.  Oh well.


I awoke the next morning for the sunrise:

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And the Ella and I slept through breakfast until almost 2 in the afternoon.  Now THAT’s vacation!

Today we were supposed to spend the day shopping with J, but it’s cold and rainy outside.  Ella discovered that she loves the kind of shower you can hold, and is really loving the stones on the floor in the shower of our room.  Here she is enjoying a little more Sid post-shower, in her towel:


Sometimes it’s hard to believe she’s only TWO!

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The Detroit Urban Craft Fair is Tomorrow

I’m going to be serving up breakfast in the Detroit Evolution Laboratory’s catering station.

Here’s the menu:

Come taste how delicious Vegan food can be!

Come taste how delicious Vegan food can be!

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I bought myself a present at 1000Markets

…for Peter’s birthday.  I’ve never done that before, but I figured, why not?

I was introduced to a fabulous new artisan site by Shelly from Figgy’s Kids. It’s a juried merchant community and so far, it’s wonderful. The markets are in “sneak preview” mode right now, but there is so much already to see!  I found this at FormFire Glassworks and had to have it!

Look how beautiful:

I applied to open a shop for One Girl Circus and was approved!  Please go check it out and let me know what you think.  I have more, so much more coming after I finish my client’s work this week….like this Autumn Leaves dress:

Have a beautiful day!Ella in Burning Leaves Roxy

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Peter is ELEVEN

I’m so honored to be Peter’s mother.  He is a thoughtful, bright, compassionate, beautiful person.  I love the person he is, and is becoming.

Today he is eleven years old.  He had a rough first few years, and it took us a while to find our way together. But, as I learn to parent him, with all his needs and requirements and gifts, too, I learn to be a better person.

Last night he was so excited for his birthday party, he could barely fall asleep.  He came downstairs and asked me to remind him how to move into Tortoise Pose, so he could relax.  I love that he is open to learning every moment of each day.

He’s really coming into his own.  I am enjoying discovering who Peter is, as he discovers who he wants to be.  peterkaren




Peter after his first day Dirt Biking


Filed under motherhood