Sewing: vintage gnome shirt.

Sewing: vintage gnome shirt. | Clean.

Sewing: vintage gnome shirt. | Clean.

Last weekend was packed with lots of little one-hour projects.

They are becoming my favorite these days, when my "to do" list is long
and sometimes a project goes on for ages before completion. So to start
and finish in the time it takes me to brew and drink a cup of tea is sometimes ideal.

projects – I find – are also great motivation to walk away from whatever
screen is distracting me (or you, perhaps) from real life and get busy with some

That's what I did anyway.

Sewing: vintage gnome shirt. | Clean.

Sewing: vintage gnome shirt. | Clean.

I decided to sew as many of Lupine's new summer clothes as I can this year. And I wasn't
feeling up to the fancy-pants-too-complicated-to-be-satisfying boutique
clothing patterns I had chosen for her new dress and pants.

Digging through my small pattern stash for a plan-B I
found a vintage 80's pattern for a simple little girl's shirt. An hour
later Lupine had a new top, ready for summer.

Sewing: vintage girl's shirt. | Clean.

Sewing: vintage gnome shirt. | Clean.

Sewing: vintage gnome shirt. | Clean.

yellowed sewing pattern envelope was dated "1981" and had an original sale
price of $0.87. I'm sure I paid more than that at the thrift store where
I found it when Lupine was a baby.

In all
likely hood I was drawn to it because my grandma sewed similar shirts
for me in the 70's and 80's (through I suspect with a bit more polyester
in the mix). But the pattern was so cute that even if it was five sizes
too big at the time I snatched it up, only to forget about it until
this weekend.

Sewing: vintage gnome shirt. | Clean.

As for the fabric, I have a hoarding confession. When Heather Ross's
gnome fabric went out of print years back I found some on-line and
bought all they had (a gluttonous 2 1/2 yards). I've been stingy with it
until now, using just a bit here and a bit there until I realized that my children are rapidly outgrowing gnome prints.

"Sew! Sew like the wind with that gnome print!" I said to no one in particular.

The sleeves
are as vintage as the pattern (probably older), salvaged from a friends'
scrap bag. I think in a past life they were a dress or a skir as it was
already sewn at the edges and hemmed. 

Sewing: vintage gnome shirt. | Clean.

Sweet and quick! My kind of sewing. Full disclosure – the sleeves are about two inches too short. I guess I waited a year to long to rediscover that pattern. But she loves it anyway. When I make the next I'll adjust the pattern for her long little self.

What is your favorite quick-and-easy project?

Sapphire’s new dress.

A Waldorf doll dress. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

A Waldorf doll dress. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

A Waldorf doll dress. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

A Waldorf doll dress. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

A Waldorf doll dress. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

I'm not sure what came over us this weekend.

We were sewing, embroidering, knitting, woodworking, and otherwise making non-stop from Friday morning on. Most of us are still at it this morning.

(As I type this I can hear Lupine downstairs shouting, "MAAAAAAAMAAAA! Where is the blue fabric? I need to embroider!" )

See? We need to. We can't help ourselves.

My most satisfying project was an outfit for Lupine's new-old doll.

In truth I don't really like
making doll clothes. Sometimes I actually hate it.

They're too… putzy.
(I figure in the same amount of time I could make an outfit for a
living and breathing member of my family. And that's a way more
practical investment of my crafting time.) So most of our doll clothes are circa 1975, sewn by my grandma on this very machine.

But this time was different.

It was sweet and fun and done together. Yes, it was putzy, but so worth the time. Lupine ironed, I cut and sewed, and we worked side-by-side for a couple of hours on this dress and apron.

In the end it was the best part of my weekend. I love crafting with this girl. And I'm also rather of smitten by this doll (if you must know).

And today? I have a little chicken to finish embroidering downstairs. And a baby sweater for a friend to cast off. And Lupine is now sitting on the floor in my office, singing about roosters and waiting for me to get down that fabric she's waiting for.

Beacuse, well, we just need to make stuff.

The lesson of enough.

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

We spent much of last weekend in the basement, sifting through the detritus of the past six years of our life.

Before this house, we had this odd habit of moving to a new place every three years. (I can't explain it.) Pete and I have lived together since 1995 and like clockwork, every three years we moved.

But we've been here since before Lupine was born. And despite my best efforts at simplicity, there are pockets of chaos we've never quite dug to the bottom of. 

So this weekend we had at it.

We dumped out boxes of junk that we've had stashed in the back of closets. We said goodbye to games, books, toys, clothes, shoes, coats, and treasures. We simplified. In a big way. In a big heaping pickup truck full sort of way.

And then we paused.

We all caught our breath, and the four of us scattered to different quiet corners of our home.

Pete headed out to the garage and got to work on a hand-hewn hunting bow he's making.

Sage went to the work table and completed a model airplane that he began earlier this year.

Lupine sat beside me in the sewing room cutting and stitching gifts for her friends.

And I started a quilt.

A quilt for Sage.

After all of that letting go each of us gravitated to the work of
creating. I think there is safety in the making when you've just let go
of so much.

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Ironically, before I began the quilt (and after all of that purging) I found myself on-line, shopping.

For fabric.

My fabric stash is not huge and I wanted this quilt to be just right. So I decided to buy yards of white cotton and dye them the loveliest shades of green, brown, grey, and eggplant (for Sage). Then I thought I'd eventually make one for Lupine using the grey as well, but with blue, lavender, and sage green.

I had this vision in my head as I filled an on-line cart with supplies for my projects. I was stoked.

And then I saw the total ($356 before shipping and without batting). I choked, shook my head, and woke up (so to speak). I realized that – of course – I had all that I needed. I'm glad I came to before I brought more stuff into our world.

I think we sometimes paint a picture of perfection that is not only unnecessary but also feeds our desire for more, better, newer. Because – in the spirit of the generations before us – if we just look around and take stock of what we have, we probably have what we were going to buy already. It might not be perfect, but it will serve us. Often better than buying new simply for the economy and ethics of using what we've got.

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

And quilting of course was created to use of those odd small bits of fabric. The concept of buying new (perfect! matching!) fabric to quilt with is a modern one. So I decided to quilt like my great-grandmother did. With what I had.

I'm using the method outlined in this book and not being fussy with measuring anything. (I'm a wonky girl.) It's off to a solid start and Sage is beside himself about it.

The desire for more or new or better is what gets us buried under these mountains of things anyway. And here I was, recreating that story once more. 

Lesson learned.

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

P.S. At the risk of growing even wordier, there is one special fabric I'm using for the quilt. See that brown and green and golden fabric on the bottom? Yeah. That's Sage's baby sling. (Seen in the last photo here.) I choked up a little when I included the first piece. Oh, my. We had a good run of years together in that sling. <3

Simple sewing.

Sew this little bag. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Sew this little bag. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Sew this little bag. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Sew this little bag. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Sew this little bag. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Sew this little bag. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Sew this little bag. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Sew this little bag. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

I have been neglecting my sewing machine lately.

It lives in my basement these days, so it's not the most inspiring place to visit when the leaves are turning and there's something warm simmering away in the kitchen.

Also I dug into a project that is a bit more than I can handle. (Okay, it's not. I'm just ignoring the shear scope of the task.) I decided to sew new box cushions for our camper. Our camper which – when we move to the country – will serve as an adorable little guest house. But only if I sew the darn cushions. So for now the cushions and loads of laminated cotton are strewn about my sewing room.

(Did you hear that? I said something about moving to the country. The dream is alive, dear friends!) Edited to say: don't get too excited. Nothing concrete, just dreaming and working and manifesting in that direction. I'll surely keep you posted…

So in the midst of all of my people falling to the flu of one sort or another for the whole of this week, I carved out time to throw together a new purse for myself while Sage and Lupine were reading and Pete was sleeping off this bug.

I love this pattern.

It takes longer to cut out than it does to sew, and it doesn't take long to cut out. Seven pieces plus a zipper if you wish. Fabric-wise it takes a single fat quarter plus less for the lining.

Just like the last ones I made (oh! here's another one!), I assemble the whole thing like my zip bag tutorial. Ideally I would have added topstitching on the zipper like I did last time, but I was hustling and forgot. I did add a bit of iron-on interfacing to the handle this time because after a year of daily use the yellow one got pretty gnarly.

As for inspiring other girlie sewing, I am contemplating this book. Hoping it has some solid boy patterns in it too.

Have any of you sewed from this? Intrigued by the mad ruffles and such.





$6 bedroom renewal.







I wonder if we'll ever live without a list of projects we can't wait to take on.

It's not likely.

I think too much of our joy comes from the DIY projects we tackle each weekend. To replace projects with, I don't know, badminton and croquet? It just wouldn't have the same "Whoa! What a weekend!" effect.

Lately I've had the urge to polish up our house a bit.

Just finish some small projects that I always wanted to get to, regardless of the fact that we recently put back on the market. (Yes. It's true! Our house is up for sale as of last week. Our listing is over here if you are interested in joining all the fun in Viroqua.) 

So I'm taking on some smaller projects, like fresh paint and new curtains.

Last weekend the children's bedroom got both.

The paint is the same color combination we've always had in this room. (My favorite in the house ~ Benjamin Moore Kousa Dogwood on the upper walls and Benjamin Moore Hibiscus below.) But a fresh coat of the same colors seemed to freshen up the room completely. 

The curtains were a rummage sale find that seemed perfect when I snagged them. Plain white canvas with big silver grommets. Kid-friendly without being cutesy.

When I brought them home, however, they turned out to be about 3" too short. Oops.

And so they were.

3" short.

For the past two years.

Last weekend I cut them off near the top and added a simple strip of vintage bedsheets, then shortened them to the proper length and hemmed.

Sage chose the fabric, vintage sheets that lived for decades at my parents' cabin. (Since I was a kid I always hoped for these on my bunk. Sheets so soft they were almost silky. When my mom "upgraded" to new sheets she gave them to me for the fabric.) Lupine's old room (being used by my sister-in-law for the summer) also sports upcycled bed sheet curtains.

It was a fairly simple project and they have completely transformed the children's bedroom. Since I had the paint and sheets on hand, the project was dirt cheap. Counting what I paid for the second hand curtains the whole thing ran me all of $6. That's my kind of project.

The enchanting artwork by the way is the talented Happy Go Lucky Creations. I met Lucky at a fair several years ago and fell in love with her and her amazing work. And yes, that's really her name. We have three prints in the children's room. I adore her work.

So the children's room is done. Next on the project list, cleaning out the garage. Good times, I tell you. Good times! (And strangely, I really mean that.)

What's on your DIY list for this weekend?

Sewing shorts.





I have this strange/terrible/wonderful habit of taking on new sewing projects when I should be packing for a trip.

As in during that crazy night-before-leaving phase when your undivided attention is needed to pack the bathroom bag and inventorying the food and prepare the car snacks.

I'm not sure when it started (and it might just be a highly productive stalling technique) but it's almost guaranteed that if we're about to leave I've abandoned my chores and have slipped into the basement for some sewing.

The latest stitching began as the kids and I packed for a week away. We're leaving tomorrow, but Lupine discovered that she's lacking shorts.

She was all skirts and dresses last summer so I wasn't concerned by her having only one pair of shorts, but she's a little less fru-fru these days and a bit more rough-and-tumble.

That girl needed shorts.

So while their auntie took them to the library for books for the drive I dashed downstairs and threw these together with fabric from my stash and a pattern I drew up for Sage a few years back.

So easy, and so adorable. The pleated snail and mushroom pockets push them over the edge. Oh, I'm loving this little-less-girlie stage. I can use snail fabric!

She loves them, I love them, and now I need to pack.

Have a great few days, sweet friends. Stay cool out there.








My sewing machine got a little dusty this winter. After I moved my sewing room to the basement last fall  I couldn't bare the underground temps for long. I gave up on sewing for the better part of the season. Knitting filled the void and I hardly missed my other hobby.

But now it's hot. That wool yarn is feeling heavy on my lap. And that cold basement is downright lovely.


We had a wedding to attend this weekend. I made four large napkins as a gift. The couple has more modern taste, so I tried my darnedest to make patchwork look mod. (Is that possible? I don't know. I hope I pulled it off.)

These were a little hard to give away. I fell in love with them somewhere along the way. Maybe the colors. Maybe the new fabric. (New fabric! I never buy new fabric.) Maybe the near-modness of them.

I made two coordinating pairs, one with a patchwork strip on a simple grey, and one with large blocks of black, grey, and orange.

At the last minute I added a gift tag, in an attempt at humor. It reads, "I made these. So you're stuck with them."

Unless of course they want to give them back. Because I'd be okay with that too.


Speaking of weddings (and therefore proposals), have you seen this yet?

Oh, my.

I've watched it three times and cried every time. Best proposal ever. This could turn an earthworm into into a hopeless romantic. I mean really. The world is a better place for this being on YouTube. That's my two cents anyway.


Mama made.







It has been ages since I've shared a finished knitting project with you. There has been plenty of casting off, but for some reason I just don't get around to photographing those projects very often.

This spring I cast off my Lupine's shawl.

I've had it in my Ravelry favorites for ages. But I didn't cast it on until a friend (who found it in my favorites) knit one. Hers was stunning so I decided to go for it.

As it turns out I am not a fan of knitting lace on size two needles. (Who knew?)

It was quiet torture for me, by no fault of the lovely (and truly simple) design. But every few rows I'd count my stitches and be off by several on one side. And always the same side! I'm not a perfectionist (thank goodness or I'd have given up on this project just a few days in) so I'd throw a few stitches in here and there to bring it back up the the right number.

But then a few rows later I was off again.

I gave up on the lace one repeat short of what the pattern dictated and called it good enough. I think it looks great as is, albeit shorter (and less perfect) than it was intended. I won't be knitting another one. I just can't do tiny lace.



Oh, and the color! Remember my desire to bust through my yarn stash? This was the project I cast on after this post. An unobtrusive grey sock yarn, varagated with light blue, white, and dark grey.

We dyed it with two packs of kool aid (cherry and raspberry I believe). I had no idea what color it would turn out which was risky/fun. (I know what you're thinking. "She's so crazy!" Okay. Maybe not. Yeah, that's about as wild as I get over here.)

As it turns out, we got a muted cranberry-raspberry color. I like it enough, but didn't go gaga for it.

Lupine, however, did. As soon as it came out of the dye pot she fell in love with it, so I gave it to her. I did make her promise to share it with me, but 9 out of 10 days she wears it, not me.

The pattern is here and my project is over here.

As for the rest of her outfit (in case you were wondering), it's homemade too.





I sewed these last year when I was on an Etsy kick, selling kids clothes and Waldorf dolls. This was my prototype in fabric that I kind of hated. I was just using it so as to not waste any fabric that I liked.

But somehow that dusty blue and rose has grown on me so much since then then. And now I love it. Truly love it. (The floral print came from my mom's 1980's stash, from something ruffly she made for my sister.)

Unfortunately (for those who are wondering) no there isn't a pattern. There is a slim chance that I could be convinced (someday) to work one up for you but I don't want to promise that quite yet.

The top was inspired by this one and the skirt was inspired by her obsession with twirling when she was four. It is two full circles, connected at the waist and trimmed with vintage thrift-store cotton lace.

Because of the generous sizing she's going into her second year of it fitting beautifully. Two years for one mama made makes me very happy.

What else makes me very happy? That she loves it so much that she squealed when we took it out of the summer clothes box in the basement last week. That's the best reward of mama-made.



And for the record, twirly or not, this skirt is great for wearing while catching barn kittens. I see one now. Run!

Sew a Sunhat.

Hi friends. I want to give my kids my full attention today and not be distracted by time at the computer. With that in mind, I am reposting my sun hat pattern from two summers ago for your enjoyment. Perfect for your little boy or girl, choose their favorite fabric and start stitching! The hat sews up quickly and is fairly easy for even a novice sewer.

If you've made the hat already, I'd love to hear how it turned out!

Have a great day, friends.


~ *~ * ~* ~ * ~

This is a little late in coming. I promised you this pattern weeks ago! I didn't make the time to stitch up a second one and I didn't want to post it without photos, thus the delay. But summer is wearing on and I have this image in my head of many little boys out in the sun, squinting like mad.

So here it is – a sewing pattern without photos – but a pattern none-the-less. Go forth and sew hats, you brave, bold mamas.

(Note: the hat below seems a bit too tall to me, so the pattern trimmed off about an inch.)


Sage's Sunhat


  • Pattern – three pieces (below). Print without scaling so that you get the proper size.
  • Outer fabric (I used linen)
  • Lining fabric (I lined with the same)
  • Timtex or other stiff interfacing for brim
  • Matching thread

All sewing was done with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This was sized for my 7 1/2 year old. Adjust as needed to fit a younger or older child.

Boy Sunhat Band (No pattern piece. Rectangle 21.5" x 4") – cut two (one lining, one outer fabric)

Boy Sunhat Top Pattern – cut two (one lining, one outer fabric)

Boy Sunhat Brim Pattern – 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.


  1. Cut interfacing brim down by 1/2 inch on all sides.
  2. Sew outer curved edge of brim, right sides together.
  3. Turn and press.
  4. Insert interfacing and trim if needed to fit smoothly inside.
  5. Top stitch outer curve through all layers to hold interfacing in place.


  1. Fold hat band so that the short ends line up (right sides together), creating a flattened cylinder.
  2. Sew.
  3. Pin cylinder shape carefully to hat top (also right sides together).
  4. Sew.
  5. Turn right side out and press.
  6. Repeat with lining.
  7. 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).
  8. Sew into place and flip down. It should be starting to look like a hat now!
  9. Press under 1/2" on bottom edge of hat and hat lining.
  10. Insert hat lining into outer fabric hat and top stitch together very close to the edge. 


Your hat is done! Dance around a little and then call in your boy (or girl) and share your creation. Feel free to leave comments or send emails with your questions.



Patchwork Placemat and Napkin: Simple gifts for kids.






Lupine turns five in just a few days. Which means she wants a party, with three of her closest girl-friends ("Just the friends who like to dress up really, really fancy, like me." It's a very short list.) I took a bold step this year, penning on the three party invitations: "Lupine requests a small friend-made gift or simple craft supplies (glitter, ribbon, etc.)." What will the parents think? I was a little nervous but felt it was a good way to approach her birthday celebration in a way that would meet everyone's desires.

The point of a gift is to bring joy, but a year later if the gift is relegated to the back of the closet, the local thrift-store, or the landfill, why bother? So I found my courage and asked for something specific. And it was well received, by parents from all walks of life. No one raised an eyebrow, at least not openly. And Lupine will get gifts she treasures, that are open-ended, and nourish her creativity. I think it's a win-win.

This weekend we attended the birthday of another five-year-old friend. As Sage, Lupine and I discussed what to make, buy, or gift from our own collections Lupine said, "But mama, does he really need any toys?" She was right. He didn't. So Sage decided to share a plant start from his favorite houseplant (filling a pot with soil, cutting a branch, dipping it in rooting hormone, and planting the branch) and Lupine and I made him a special placemat and napkin. Because it is special, but useful. It doesn't feel like just more stuff.

Do you need to give kids flashy toys from a big box store? I don't think so. This little guy's eyes lit up when he saw the gnome fabric (Gnomes!) and he used if for his birthday dinner. I suspect it will get plenty of use without becoming one-more-thing to pick up off the playroom floor. It was a quick and affordable gift (simple patchwork from fabric from my stash), and I would love one for each of my kids too. But I think I'll wait. I'll save it for a gift some day down the road.