Since we rethought the arrangement of our house and added space for all-day-every-day making, the kids have been working tirelessly on sewing projects of every sort. Not for Halloween, mind you, but for everyday (Lupine) and for LARPing (Sage).
Within three days of the sewing machines coming downstairs not one but two new cloaks were complete.
And I didn't sew a single stitch! As a bonus, I was thrilled to see Sage mastering the serger for his wool cloak, made from a couple of upcycled blankets he picked up at the thrift store.
Mad skills, these two.
As Lupine is a bit more willing and eager for photo-documentation of her projects (and I have yet to corner Sage in his wool cloak for pictures), you'll have to take my word for it that his is equally fabulous.
Lupine's project did't cost a penny, involving only a retired bed sheet, a gifted roll of sari ribbon, and some buttons from my great grandma's button box. Since we didn't have a pattern, she improvised the body of the cloak and the closure and I helped her sketch a pattern for the hood. I think the result is fabulous!
I was also assured that this long and flowing cloak is totally appropriate attire for tree climbing. Ahem.
This creative space has been a game-changer in so many ways and a day doesn't go by that I'm not grateful for it. Now I just need to schedule some time in there for myself to get some sewing attended to. (Someone has a birthday coming up, and I'm at a loss for ideas. Surely sewing will be involved!)
As for the kids? I can't wait to see what they make next.
P.S. Inspired to get your own kids sewing? You might enjoy this post from way back in the archives.
The house desperately needed cleaning this weekend.
So I did the only logical think I could think of and headed up the sewing room to make things instead.
Because cleaning is really an act in futility, don't you think? I sure do.
After a bit of rooting about in my fabric stash I settled on sewing up some zippered bags since they are quick, easy, and always useful. (We're on a perpetual simplicity kick over here, so I'll only make things we truly want and need.)
Often when I set to work on a sewing project I find myself dreaming of a stack of fresh new fabrics. It happened this weekend, and for a moment I didn't know if I could make this work in an irresistibly-sweet-and-can't-live-without-it sort of way.
But then, simplicity. Always circling back to simplicity (and abundance and appreciation).
I kept digging.
As I learned with Sage's quilt, we have more than enough already, if we just look at it with fresh eyes. And doesn't it feel good to use what we have?
I think so.
So I dug through my stash and found so many treasures, many that I've had since my kids were small. And then – always – I find just what I need and realize that new things (fabric included) is often overrated.
Thumbing through my fabrics I always find prints that remind me of a certain time or place. The orange flowers, and old Heather Ross print, were a favorite when Lupine was small. I used on many skirts and tops and dresses for her when she was barely a toddler.
The red calico fell out of the cabinet when I pulled out the orange, a vintage print from my grandma's stash used on my clothes back in the '70's.
I decided it was meant to be and added a bit of that as well. For grandma. (I sewed these on her machine, after all.) Who knows – maybe she pushed it out of the stack when she noticed it was a good match. Because that lady could sew!
The fox and rabbit print is a treasured scrap of Japanese fabric I splurged for when Lupine was four and never used aside from some small appliques and pockets. The green (sparkly!) corduroy I bought for Sage when he was five. Goodness. Such warm memories in these scraps.
See? That's so much better than new.
And so I set to work, patching, sewing, snipping. Before I knew it I had two pouches ready to assemble.
I followed my own zip bag tutorial (It's here if you'd like to use it, too) for these with a few modifications (patchwork on the outside, ribbon loop, and boxed bottom corners). In hindsight, I put the little ribbon loops on the wrong side, and they should align with the zipper pull when closed, not open. But I don't really care.
The fox pouch I gave to a dear friend who is terribly fond of the fabric I used for the lining. (A very old, very tattered pillow case, if you must know.) She's headed on a trip soon and I thought a new pouch might be handy along the way.
Also, I was looking for an excuse to not clean my house. As you already know.
And though red and orange aren't normally my colors, this one I made just for me. I am carrying more and more LüSa with me these days as I am testing lots of new prototypes and scents, and I wanted it all contained in one space to make it easier to find when I need it. (And easier to clean up after myself when my purse topples over in the car. Which happens more than I'd like to admit and my bag spews body care every which way.)
A favorite lip balm, some experimental tallow balm, a prototype shea balm, and an Uplifting EO blend and my new bag was stocked and ready to go.
Would a few new pieces of fabric have been fun? Absolutely. But do I miss it? Not a bit.
And as a bonus, when you upcycle and use what you have you're sometimes surprised by little details like… the lining of this bag matches my bedroom curtains. (I upcycled the top sheet from that set years ago.)
Mother's day was a little messy over here. It can be that way, can't it?
I somehow thought that all bickering would be suspended, my house would be clean, and our world would be a fantasy land of peace and harmony from sun-up till sun-down.
Life doesn't work that way.
I also thought my kids would be thrilled! to! help! with planting our garden.
Yeah. That didn't shake out either.
By mid-day on Sunday I was pouting, sulking, and disappointed – in my expectations, in my mothering skills, in the (completely normal) day-to-day drama, and in this stupid day that I let myself get wrapped up in.
I just might have even called off all Mother's Day celebrations from that moment forward.
Yeah. It wasn't pretty.
So I caught my breath. I lay down on the couch with a quilt over my head and heard my kids giggling at how silly I was acting. Lupine brought me a doll and her stuffed squirrel to cheer me up (that always works) and joined me under my quilt.
Sage joined us and we cuddled, talked in soft voices, and apologized for our many blunders.
And then we called a do-over.
I dropped my expectations and everyone rallied to be a bit more kind to one another, because yes, kindness matters.
Especially on mother's day when your Mama is acting weird.
I had requested a little time to sew on Mother's Day as well (because that garden planting plan wasn't quite enough of a stretch for my people in one day) and decided to make Lupine a skirt.
Somehow sewing for my kids is more satisfying than sewing for myself. Especially after I've been grumpy.
And so I dug through my fabric stash and got to work on a new gathered skirt.
I had seen the perfect project already when Amanda posted her version for Ada last week.
Lupine's pockets are forever filled with acorns, crystals, flowers, and even sometimes chicks, so this skirt with it's big and glorious pockets was a must.
I mean really. Imagine how many chicks she could fit in there! (On second thought…)
As I ironed, cut, and sewed, Lupine came and curled up on the bed, watching me work. We talked, we laughed, I got over myself.
Thank goodness for that.
Yes, taking a break helped me shift my perspective. And as a bonus, Lupine scored a lovely new skirt out of the deal.
Sometimes I wish I could just ignore everything and spend the entire day sewing.
No cooking, no laundry, no dishes. Just cutting, sewing, and creating.
Because after a day like that? I'm a better person.
More centered, more patient, more present.
A solid day devoted to creating doesn't happen for me but once or twice a year, yet then every now and then – every so deliciously often – I draw that glorious hand and find the space.
Last weekend, in the midst of all that compost hauling and seed starting, I found one such day.
After our garden work day I decided to steal a few minutes to sew while Pete worked on some fencing out in the pasture. Just a few minutes.
Just one. Small. Project.
The next thing I knew I was hoisting open an upstairs window, and shouting to him across the valley. "Hey, Pete – I'm sewing! And I'm thinking about doing it all day long! Does that work for you?!"
He returned a big thumb's up and went back to his fencing; I went back to my Grandma's sewing machine.
For the rest of the day, with a few breaks for cooking and other semi-vital tasks, I sewed.
It was heaven.
As for projects, I managed two that were small and simple enough to crank out in a hurry.
First a new wallet for myself, using the same pattern I did for my last wallet made back in 2011.
The old one reached the level of filth that no amount of laundering could help. It was time.
And I love how quick, simple, and sweet this design is. (You can find the pattern here if you are interested in making one, too.)
Next up was a birthday crown (based on my own pattern) for a sweet one year-old who's first birthday celebration we were attending the day after my sewing marathon.
Crown making is so addictive for me. If I had another large piece or two of wool felt on hand I suspect I would have made more. But my felt stash is pretty slim so – randomly and without warning – a few little bunnies started taking shape.
Yes. I'm busy making dolls again! What a treat it is.
I'm not sure what it is about making dolls but I can sew them until my hands stop working properly.
I love watching wool and cloth come to life with a few careful stitches.
Each doll has it's own personality and I love to wonder at where they will end up after the last knot it tied.
These dolls were extra special because I cleaned and carded wool from our sheep Poppy and used it for their stuffing. I loved that layer of significance for this little farm.
Today is the day. (Gasp!) I just listed a new Snuggle Doll sewing pattern in my Etsy shop.
It's a new pattern that I spent the past two months working on and I'm beyond excited (okay, and a tiny bit terrified) to share it with you.
A kind group of mamas tested the pattern for me over the past three weeks. Here is what one pattern tester had to say about it:
"[The Snuggle Doll Sewing Pattern] is seriously the best pattern EVER–I should have expected it from you but nonetheless delighted at your humor and loved your encouragement and the reminders that seeming imperfections are ok. If I had followed your pattern the first time I made a doll, I would have felt way more courageous and convinced from the get go that it would actually work."
Kind words! I hope those of you who have been mustering your courage to sew a doll for your child will give it a go.
To celebrate the new pattern enjoy 15% off of anything in my Etsy shop! (Yes, finsihed dolls included.) Just use coupon code "CELEBRATE" during check-out. (Good through October 31, 2014.)
Thanks for cheering me on, friends.
Edited to add: Because not everyone who wants a doll in their family has time or interest to make one, I added just a few custom (finished) dolls to the shop. You choose the skin, clothing and hair color and I sew it up for you. You can find them here. Enjoy!
Wool felt crowns are among my favorite projects to sew. Quick, easy, and met with wild enthusiasm from the person you give it to.
A year or so ago I started the process of writing a felt crown sewing pattern to share with you. Designed to help grown-ups create a special celebration crown for their child, this birthday crown pattern is an easy project for a beginner and is interesting enough to keep an experienced sewer engaged. It's also delightful to make with your child for their dress-up box or as a gift for a friend.
A birthday crown has been a part of our birthday celebrations since Sage turned five. Lupine got her crown on her third birthday. Every birthday, year after year, they wore their crowns on special, celebratory days.
Handmade wool crowns have been a part of our costume box for as long as I can remember, transforming our children and their friends into knights, kings, queens, and fairies.
Each child is individual. And in our home, so are their crowns. (Sage's crown was gold with stars; Lupine's has a bluebird stitched to the front, since her middle name is Bluebird.)
So why this sewing pattern?
Living in a Waldorf community birthday crowns abound! But as I encountered more and more crowns at children's birthday parties I noticed that most of them were the same. Each was charming and made with such care, but I also noticed that almost all were the same shape, the same design, and the same decoration – all drawn from the same online pattern.
And I realized that there was no pattern available to allow and encourage parents to make a crown as individual as their child. And I suspected that this pattern would be a welcome change.
And so the birthday crown pattern was born.
Sewing your crown you begin by choosing from four charming shapes. Then choose from acorns, leaves, snails, mushrooms, rainbows, clouds, a flower garden, or blossom, or invent your own design!
The instructions are simple and step-by-step. Anyone can follow them! I have designed the crown to fit most children ages 1-9, but it's effortless to modify it for ages 8 through adult.
To celebrate my first ever pattern launch I am offer you sweet, encouraging people 15% off of the purchase of the crown pattern. Just enter coupon code "CLEAN15" at checkout. (Valid through July 20.)
Also, I'd love to give a copy away to one luck winner! Just leave a comment here and I'll choose a winner before the week is through. If you wish you can tell me what other pattern you would love to see!
Comments are now closed. The winner is Sarah who said:
Adorable! These are so bright and cheerful too – although I love the soft, Waldorf-y pastels, birthdays are so full of light and energy that I feel the bolder colors are a perfect fit 🙂 I would LOVE to see some animal designs for my critter-obsessed kiddos…maybe a bunny, definitely a bear, or how about an awesome dragon?
A couple of weeks ago Lupine and Sage were playing "guess what I made you for your birthday".
At one point Sage said, "I wonder if Mama's going to give me my quilt for my birthday. Nah, she'll never finish that!"
I couldn't resist the challenge.
Because yes, I had been working on this quilt in earnest for several weeks in hopes of giving it to Sage for his birthday. But, also yes, I was about to give it up until winter.
Because it turns out a quilt is quite the project. Especially for someone with my gift for starting. (Versus finishing.) And while I started it almost a year ago, it has spent most of those months sleeping peacefully under my cutting table.
So my resolve was concrete.
I was finishing the dang quilt.
And I did!
(But just barely.) I sewed on the binding at the cabin, tucked into a bunk with a headlamp the night before his birthday.
As for Sage, well, he couldn't be happier.
Because somehow a quilt is love incarnate. It represents time and energy and warmth and love.
You know, mama stuff.
And there are a few really special blocks in this quilt. (His favorites, and also mine.) The green and brown and black patterned pieces on the quilt are from his baby sling.
And him loving those blocks best warms my heart.
Because he and I shared the space inside that sling for years. And now that love that wrapped us up then can continue to wrap him up – quite literally – in this new and cozy form.
Happy birthday, Sage. I'm humbled, honored, and blessed to be your mama. May this quilt wrap you in mama love for many, many years to come.
When we talked about kids sewing last week, I noticed how many of you were hungry for a little inspiration and training of the needle-and-thread sort.
Many of you loved the idea of sewing with your children, but didn't know where to begin.
Well, then. How about we begin right here?
With a few tips to start you off in the right direction.
Ten Tips to Help Your Kids (and You!) Start Sewing
1. Gather supplies
You don't need much to be ready to sew.
A small budget and a trip to the local craft store (or better yet the thrift store) will give you all you need.
Gather the following supplies:
Sharp needles in a variety of sizes
Sewing thread in a few colors (I find grey to be handy when you don't have the right thread color on hand.)
Woven (as in bed sheet-type, not t-shirts) cotton fabric in a variety of colors. (If your budget is tight, buy button-down shirts or skirts at the second hand store when you find them marked down.)
Sharp scissors or shears
Somewhere to park those pins, even if it's just a folded piece of fleece (Sewing a pin cushion is a great beginner's project!)
An embroidery hoop or two if you plan on any cross-stitch or embroidery.
A seam-ripper. Because, well, you know.
2. Assemble a sewing kit (and keep it handy)
An old suitcase, sturdy picnic basket, or lidded box is a perfect sewing kit. Choose something you already have on hand or pick up a box at the thrift store. Then organize your supplies using mint tins, jars, and bags.
Keep your kit near your other craft supplies so the kids can find it when inspiration strikes.
Don't overfill your sewing box! If you have lots of fabric, just offer a small selection at a time to keep from overwhelming your kids (or yourself).
3. Find a mentor
Do you have a friend who sews? If sewing is new to you, have them show you and your child the basics.
If you don't know anyone with basic sewing skills, ask around. Craft stores, fabric stores, or even knitting shops are great places to connect with crafty folks who love to share.
4. Fill the bookshelf
Pick up some sewing books from your local bookstore or library geared towards children or for beginners.
"Fabric, Paper, Thread" is also written for kids, but for those with a bit more experience. (This book was also sent our way via Sew Mama Sew and Fun Stitch Studio.) With these new books in hand I realized how lovely it is to have fresh inspiration.
This book inspired the drawstring bags shown here. Lupine and Sage
worked together to craft them for favor bags for Sage's birthday.
Look for books that will hold your interest as you and your kids gain skills.
5. Pick up a needle and thread
Nothing inspires your children like watching you take the leap. You don't need a sewing machine to sew! In fact, handwork is an ideal place to start.
But start. Just start!
6. Release the negative self-talk
Now that you started, be nice. To you. Because dang it, you're sewing! How self-reliant you are.
The need to be perfect or get everything right on the first try is the perfect way to stymie any lick of creative juice that you might have had.
If your child sees you roll with your own imperfections they will probably give themselves the same grace.
7. Find important work for little hands.
Give your child a job as you work on a project together.
The old blue snips pictured above have been in the hands of my kids since they were each two. (I'm sure they were in my hands when I was small, as they came to me after my grandma died with the rest of her sewing supplies.)
My children would sit in my lap anytime I sewed at my machine, blue snips at the ready for the stray tails at the end of each seam.
That work was vital for them to be engaged and learning as I worked on my own projects.
What job can your child do?
8. Allow your kids to create
Let your kids to dream, plan, and create. Let them cut and sew and make 100 little pouches out of your fabric scraps or tiny pillows for their dolls.
If I may be so bold: get out of their way.
Breathe through the urge to do for them, to suggest a matching thread, to improve or otherwise usurp their process. Just let their creativity run wild and their confidence and skill blossoms.
By all means be there to guide and assist them, but know when to guide and when to step away.
9. Build your skills
What scares you a little? Button holes? Embroidery? Putting in a zipper? Work your way up the skill ladder one small project at a time.
And as you learn, help your child build skills as well.
Just last night YouTube was there when I needed someone to explain how to bind a quilt. Because I'm making a quilt. And I don't know how to make a quilt! I didn't know how to make a quilt, but I learned.
10. It's all about the process
Very little of what our children craft will land in your "forever" box. They make, they learn, they grow. And lucky us! We get to watch them along the way.
I try to remember with most things in life, it's the process that we're after.
Sewing is no different.
And every so often we're blessed with not only a joyful process, but a beautiful project as a bonus at the end.
Lupine's is a spunky, patchwork incarnation of the same pattern.
To modify the pattern for Lupine that I originally designed for her brother, I mixed up the colors and added a narrow patchwork strip to the side.
The patchwork is my favorite small detail on this hat. It is a simple addition, but takes the hat to a different level of cuteness. I created it with scraps from her baby sling and several outfits I've sewn for her. It also allowed us to use a favorite but barely too-short fabric for the main hat piece.
She is thrilled with it and proudly announces what each fabric was from when she shows it off.
The hat is reversible and lined in a single print (from another mama-made outfit), so it's two hats in one!
Want to make your own? Of course! The pattern and instructions are below. I've simplified them a bit since I first shared this pattern, including PDF files that should be easier for you to print to scale.
Summer Sunhat for Girls & Boys
Pattern – three pieces (below). To print, follow the instructions below.
Timtex or other stiff interfacing for brim (afflink)
All sewing was done with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This is sized for my 6-8 year old. Adjust as needed to fit a younger or older child.
1. Print out pattern pieces.
To print, click on the PDF files below.
Save files to your desktop.
Open and print each file without scaling. (The Sunhat Crown should measure 7 3/8" across.)
Sunhat Band (No pattern piece. Rectangle 21.5" x 4")
Cut two (one lining, one outer fabric). This can be a sold fabric or pieced fabric as shown above.
To add a patchwork band as above, cut your main fabric rectangle 20" long. Sew a 2" wide patchwork band that is 4" tall. Join patchwork and main color and trim to size.
Cut three (two outer fabric, one interfacing.) Note: When you cut out your paper pattern fold and cut so you have the entire 1/2 moon. I only copied down 1/2 of the pattern to make it fit on a single sheet.
Cut two (one lining, one outer fabric)
3. Sew Brim
Cut interfacing brim down by 1/2 inch on all sides.
Sew outer curved edge of brim, right sides together.
Turn and press.
Insert interfacing and trim if needed to fit smoothly inside.
Top stitch outer curve through all layers to hold interfacing in place.
Fold hat band so that the short ends line up (right sides together), creating a flattened cylinder. Sew.
Pin cylinder shape carefully to hat top (also right sides together). Sew.
Turn right side out and press.
Repeat with lining.
Pin brim to hat, centered opposite of back seam with top side of brim flat against front of hat (it will look like someone flipped the brim up, 1980's grade school style). If you added a patchwork detail, align this with the edge of the brim or however you like it best.
Sew into place and flip down. It should be starting to look like a hat now!
Press under 1/2" on bottom edge of hat and hat lining.
Insert hat lining into outer fabric hat and top stitch together very close to the edge.
Let me begin with this: I am utterly, completely, thorougly humbleld by the comment you shared on the last post. The kind words you left there knocked me off my feet again and again and brought me to tears literally dozens of times.
I was not at all expecting what you said.
So thank you. For sharing, for being open, for letting this space shape you.
I really didn't know. And I'm not sure I'll ever be the same.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
My list was made.
My bag was packed.
I had been printing out knitting patterns and hoarding yarn for almost two weeks.
I was going to the cabin with my best friend from high school – someone I have not really been alone with since we begame mothers more than a decade.
Her little one needed her. And I got a migraine. And then I threw up. (In a public bathroom no less. Sorry. Too much information, I know.) And the next thing I knew Lupine was laid out with a fever and an ear ache.
I knew what this meant.
I was staying home.
I've only gone away once before since becoming a mama those many years ago. And that time too there was a feverish kid who nearly pulled us back from the door.
But this trip. This trip was off.
I decided to stay home. Because I can't pretend to be someone I'm not, and I'm not one who can leave with a sick or just-barely-post-sick kid at home. I can't do it. I don't want to.
So I stayed.
I cancelled my second weekend away ever. (Did I really? I really did.) And I felt relief to say I was staying home.
But I also felt a little colossally disappointed. (But that knitting! That sewing! That writing!)
And so I asked Pete for the unthinkable.
I asked him for a weekend away at home.
(Meaning: I'd stay home but be off-duty.)
Okay. I know, I know. Almost every mama understands that being home means being swarmed with children. But my kids are getting big. And I work from home two days a week. So they kind of get it. It was almost possible.
And I went into the sewing room with a cup of tea and closed the door behind me.
When I finally emerged two days later I had a craft-hangover. I think I would have vomited rickrack if I stayed in much longer. Seriously. So. Much. Sewing. It was insane.
And the kids were awesome. They would sometimes stand outside of the door saying, "Ring! Ring! I'm calling you at the cabin!" and we'd laugh as I opened the door and saw them with a shoe or a spoon on their ear as a phone.
Pete rocked it. He cooked every meal. Washed every dish. Got kids ready for bed every night.
He rocked it.
While I had a hundred projects I could have started, I began in a most simple place: the humble hot pad.
Those who have been around for a bit might recall that my everyday hot-pads are nothing short of disgusting. Truly, they should not be allowed near food.
I bought two of them while wearing Sage (now 10) in the sling. At K-Mart. They are pink/dirt colored and greasy/foul/funky/nasty.
I sewed a replacement that never really caught on but was used just enough to look almost as gross as the K-mart pair.
Seriously bad hot pad karma over here. (Okay. I have one awesome hot pad, made by the amazing GoodKarma Bren. But aside from that I'm a disaster.)
So finally, finally! I made a hot pad.
Crafted from a $0.50 pair of adult corduroy pants and scraps from previous projects (aprons, tote bags, bonnets) I cranked it out in less than an hour. And it's cute. Really cute. In that imperfect who-gives-a-crap way that a hot pad to replace a hideous one can only be.
I'm thrilled. With a hot pad.
And to prove how thrilled I am – much to Pete's horror – I'm showing you the old one. On my dirty, crumby table even.
Because come on. I'm crafty. So why was that thing on my table?
Oh, yes. All took was a weekend away at home, and finally, a decade later, we have one good hot pad. Adios foul greasy friend. Your K-mart kinfolk will soon be following.