Category Archives: motherhood

Trying to figure out where to go next

I have ideas bursting in my head and I need more practice translating them to paper!

I am pleased with the way my last two projects came out…fabric to paper to clothing.  I’m finding I need to take more time to document finishing steps as I go.  I’m learning a lot from a book I have recently devoured, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing, not the least of which is “write it down!”  I learned more reading that book than I have in the past 10 years regarding business and sewing.

I know I’m not a stellar patternmaker, but I am trying to realize my designs as I dream them.  I also come up with changes and improvements each time I sew something new, so I’m working really, really hard on writing down my changes.

I have always marked my patterns clearly, but I’m going to really track the development of my designs more….sometimes being methodical in practice can open up new pathways to creativity.

Coming soon I’ll have a cape and a yoked, scalloped edged wool jacket based on this:



The pattern I used here was from Ottobre Designs Winter ’07 Magazine.

I had to make some changes to it already, but it’s not my design.  A size 92 is the smallest available so I tried grading down.  I still had to take a pretty large tuck in the back to make the collar fit Ella.  I used a single button from my Grandmother’s button stash. The original design has buttons down the front, but I really like the open look here. I also found the perfect button and didn’t have any others to coordinate.  Maybe I rationalized myself into the single button?

Then I simplified the scalloped edge in the pattern by using the pre-scalloped stitch on my machine and then trimming it away.  I didn’t trust my own sewing skills on freehanding larger scallops, even following a traced edge!  I love the technique I learned to cut out the lace, and I will definitely employ that one in my own design!  I also love the jewel neckline, but this could be fantastic with a bit of a collar too (and possibly more useful from Autumn to Winter as an actual Jacket and not just a sweater).

I made Ella’s Birthday “Party Dress” out of stretch corduroy and Anna Maria Horner’s Garden Party fabric in Polka Line.  I just happened to have tights that match perfectly that I picked up in Amsterdam last year on a bit of a legwear-purchasing-spree!  Here are pictures of Ella in her Party Dress and Teatime Pinafore…tomorrow I’ll try to get them together.

13 TeatimeandMeiTai 036

Those adorable fairies came from Aunt Stephanie and she got them here. I don’t know who loves them more…baby or mommy!?

Speaking of fairies…I did make Ella her requested fairy costume, but she refuses to wear it (yet)….maybe I should place it on Formella and entice her that way!  *sigh*  Here are the two layers of the underskirt.  The overskirt is a gorgeous flower print georgette, and I whipped up a little peasant top to go with it, since the whole thing did not go as planned.  Mostly because it wasn’t planned.

Ella 2nd Birthday 001

So, coming back to writing things down, planning projects on paper, and making conscious design changes….the fairy costume was one accident after another…if nothing else, I learned to make notes on my sketches.  Let’s hope that lesson learned translates into more productive time and even better design work!


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my baby is two

It seems like just yesterday that I made it through another 16.5 hour (plus) labor.

I cannot believe how quickly she has grown, and how magical her presence has been in our lives.  She’s surely the Family Spackle we expected she’d be.

Ella 2nd Birthday 011 Ella 2nd Birthday Brothers

Ella 2nd Birthday Bike Ella 2nd Birthday 002

I love this little one. I am in awe of her sense of humor, her love for her siblings, her imagination, her compassion and her creativity.


Filed under life, motherhood

Sketching and stitching and dreaming

Last week I had a major breakthrough.  I received some seriously beautiful fabric and was immediately drawn to making it into something other than another nice pretty folded piece for my collection of nice pretty folded pieces of good design intentions.  I couldn’t stop thinking about what would definitely be a dress.  I dreamt of it, I doodled it, and finally, I began with a solid idea.  As I was drafting the pattern and arranging the pieces on the fabric, something kept me from cutting everything and then sewing it all together.  I cut, then stitched, then decided on a trim, then stitched, then tried the pieces already sewn onto Formella and then I stopped.  I realized what I already had was something pretty special.  Ideas fell into place, and I was able to continue to construct what was initially a dress idea into a pinafore that I feel is simply perfect on its own.  I decided to construct the remaining portions of the dress idea as a separate dress altogether and I couldn’t be happier with the results so far.

Here are some photos of the pinafore (still awaiting its underdress) The photos do not do this fabric justice.  The colors are so rich and deep that I just want to sink into it.  I wonder if I could get away with wearing this in my size? Probably not. partypinafore 004 partypinafore 003

I was thoroughly inspired by this skirt to get a little ruffle-y.  (Once I read the post and devoured her entire blog, I discovered that Miss Jona has a gorgeous little fabric shop, Fabritopia.  Orders were placed and received.  A new bookmark has been saved.  Go there.)  You may notice that I finally learned how to use that contraption that has been sitting in my sewing room, taunting me from its box for over a year now.  That ruffler is my new best friend. My ruffle is more of a pleat, I confess, but I love it on  this pinafore. Crisps up the edge of the magnificent meandering blossoms, I think.

The underdress is coming along nicely in a gorgeous plum baby corduroy that feels like velvet.  The sleeves are going to be simply magical,  if I have my way with the fabric!

Construction has been halted however, in favor of a very specific request by Miss Ella (did I tell you she asked me to call her that?)for a “Fairy Costume, Orange One” for her upcoming birthday.  I have scoured the web, trying tutorial after tutorial after tutorial and yet, after fearlessly attempting these techniques at home, I understand why people charge (and pay) so much for those lovely tutus and pettiskirts…they are a pain in the ass to make!  Plus, none of these tutorials, though really, really great (especially that last one, WOW!) are exactly what I want for my little Orange Fairy.

I’m going to try to dream about this one tonight before my mom comes over to play with ellabella tomorrow.  It will probably be my last chance before the birthday to get it done.  Otherwise I’m going to be baking cupcakes like mad (and enlisting brothers and sister to frost and sprinkle fairy dust on them!)


Wish me luck!

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some things I don’t want to forget….ellabella is 23 months old

So Ella is not yet 2, but almost, and she has been learning so much – I want to remember every last thing from before she was 2….

Yesterday she asked to use the potty.  This was not the first time, because earlier in the week she had made a little “deposit” for us and was SO proud.  She likes sitting on the potty lately.  She’s asking more and more often, so I found her a sweet little cushion-y seat so she can be comfortable.  I have a feeling I’m going to spend the next few weeks on the floor of the bathroom while she works on her new project….good thing I have a nice laptop and an extra battery so I can work!

Last night at dinner we were reading her book while we waited for the sushi.  She pointed to a small gnome and said “gum?”  Was she reading the “g” in Gnome?  When we answered her and said “Gnome” she threw her head back and laughed, my loud bark of a laugh.  She’s been experimenting with laughs lately.  It’s as if she borrows one of ours to try it on.

She likes to change her clothes.  At least 3 or 4 times per day.  Funny that her dollies are not allowed to wear any clothes.  All babies must be naked!

Her favorite bedtime song lately is ABC.  Not the Jackson 5 version, unfortunately, but the alphabet version.  Repeatedly.  Hundreds of times per week.

August2008 015 She LOVES to color.  She has always held her pencil/crayon/writing implement properly.  So much so, that the triangular fat crayons meant to encourage proper grip are annoying her!  Her favorites are the small IKEA crayons because they color bright, bold shades.  When a crayon leaves only a faint mark she becomes agitated and says “working!  NOT working!”

She has a great sense of humor, and makes rather sophisticated jokes.

She uses proper verb tense.  Always.  she even corrects herself and chuckles when she makes a mistake.  (“I go (hee hee) went to kitchen.”)

Every day is a new adventure.  I’m so grateful that we get to spend our days together.  At the same time I feel like I cannot believe she’s almost two, I cannot believe she’s ONLY almost 2.  We’re going to enjoy this last month of being 1.  J keeps saying “she’s two” but she isn’t.  She’s only one so far, and I’m in no hurry to rush her.  I relish every moment of this precious one year old!


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Market Saturday

We had a great time heading downtown to Eastern Market in Detroit.  We went looking for some locally grown kale, but unfortunately they were all sold out.  We went also to see Gregg and Angela, and pick up some dressing.  Ella loved it so much that she actually wanted to drink it from the bottle!

One day in, and already 1/4 gone!

The coolest thing about these dressings is that if you sign up for the newsletter, Evolve Detroit! you can get the recipe to make them yourself!!  Open Source food.  LOVE it.

(Yes, I already know how to make some of them, but I like to buy them, too, knowing Angela crafts them with such love!)

Plus, I don’t have cool labels and cute bottles at my house.

(Look ho much is gone already!!!)

When we went for “Vegan” pizza beforehand and the new pizzeria, Ella was less than enthused, though she generally loves pizza…The shop was cute enough, but after we ordered our meal, I heard someone in the kitchen say “Wait, she ordered it with no cheese,” and expected someone to come to our table to let us know they had made a mistake and would be a few extra minutes, but instead, a pizza came out so I assumed they were talking about someone else’s dish.  Ella didn’t like it, and after eating two pieces, I noticed little bits of cheese on the slice.  They must have actually scraped it off (mostly).  This is really irritating to me.  I would have had NO PROBLEM waiting for another pizza, or coming back after crossing the street to do some shopping, but the fact that they didn’t communicate and then tried to pass off a pizza with hidden cheese as “vegan”  whatever.  I won’t be going back.

Ooooh Sour

After we picked up a dressing and some cherry tomatoes, we headed back to the car, but stopped at the new Ethiopian Restaurant next door to the pizzeria and WOW was it delicious.  Ella was still hungry, having not liked any of the pizza, and only having drank some orange-sparkle-water at the other place.  We ordered the Ethio Plate and Ella ate ALL the spicy lentils and mouth-watering injera (bread) as little bite-sized sandwiches that I made her.  She usually loves greens, but left those for me.  We will definitely return there, especially since they offer scrambled tofu for breakfast on Saturdays (yippee!)

Also started working on this:

Latest Project

More later, when it’s done.

All in all a wonderful Saturday.


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Peter the 6th grader is ready for middle school

or so he thinks….he does love his new shirt, though:

I straightened the yokeSide View"hem"

I’ll need to find a photo of him wearing it. I’m so happy he’s home.  We all missed him last week while he was away with his dad.

Ella was a disaster in the stroller (and being held, and running around) for hours during naptime while we got Peter registered and situated. He managed to lose his schedule and planner while he walked away with his dad to sign up for choir and Lego Robotics for 15 minutes. How does that happen??? We already made our first trip to the office to get an additional schedule.

It’s hard for me to witness Middle School all over again. it was such a painful time for me. Constantly self-conscious, struggling a lot to figure out who I was, and generally lonely, even though I had good friends (one of whom I till see regularly!) Peter seems positive, though, excited even….and he has good friends too. And also it seems the “don’t care what anyone thinks” upbringing of him appears to have sunken in. He rarely does worry about “what other kids will think.” I hope that continues.

Ella was wearing her new dress, so at least she looked like a sweetie, even if she acted like a monster. (well, like a nearly two year old whose mommy was too stupid to realize attending the orientation would be too hard on her tired little one! It’s not her fault. I’m the monster for stealing her nap.)

J is leaving for Australia very early in the morning. I hope I can get some sewing done while he’s gone.

Now for some non-sequitors

I’m going to be making up the Bonnie Dress is Red. I’ve also put together a sweet little bag to go with it, but the first one was snatched away by Julia immediately upon my offer, so I didn’t get a picture yet!

Does anyone have a favorite headband pattern? I’m going to be trying to work out my own tomorrow while Grandma is here…but just in case ….

Have you all seen the sweet tutorials on Sandi Henderson’s website? My favorite is the rolled roses tutorial and I will be using it tomorrow for sure! I’ll be using the time during which Grandma is here to see Ella for clean up in my sewing room and prep of some hand sewing projects for the week. I also want to make up some toddler pocket pants for the shop.

I’d love to make up some more Little Woos in bamboo knits for my shop over the weekend so I can clear my plate to participate in the September sewalong from Wondermommy.

I plan to finally approach the local boutique owner about carrying some of my things. If anyone has any helpful information on how to make that a successful conversation, please share!

I want to thank everyone who contacted me to express their sympathy over not being accepted into the DUCF this year. I knew there was a danger of not getting in when I announced my efforts, but this is a blog about my real life and slow, sometimes painful start to realizing my dream. Thanks for listening to the all jubilation and the whining.

…time for sleep!

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small magazine fall 08 is out! (and an update)

if you haven’t read it, you must.

Why not start on page 18 where you will see Martha of Uniform Studio’s beautiful creations in denim and her signature green.

I get so excited when I see this in my inbox.

In other news…..Julia and I have been sewing together.  She’s my 17 1/2 year old stepdaughter and she’s getting ready to start her senior year of High School.  But first, she’s making her own costume for the Renaissance Festival in town (called RenFest by teenagers..) and is totally motivated to enter the Innovation Generation contest for the American Sewing Expo in Novi next month!

Lori’s podcast about helping to teach young people to sew couldn’t have come at a better time! I have to say, though, that it really doesn’t feel like all that long ago when I myself was sewing my prom dress (I’ll have to find it: a Belleville Vogue pattern) on my mom’s kitchen table.  Here at our house, it’s Julia up until 2:30 a.m. in my sewing space.  Doesn’t hurt that J hooked up the cable and replay tv last night.

I’m finishing up the final touches on the new and improved Bonnie Dress for Fall!!

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