Easing into Motherhood

19390729_10108547300004093_268751345374310654_o

Today I’m writing about something a little different, motherhood and sewing. I regularly read Seamstress Erin‘s blog. She has a fun and eclectic style that I admire even though it isn’t my style. This month Erin (along with Jodi from Sew Fearless and Monserratt from Mexican Pink) are hosting a celebration on motherhood, our bodies, and sewing called Easing into Motherhood. So I thought I’d write up my own story. I’m sure to many women parts of it will be so familiar as it seems like many mothers experience similar stories even if we many only hear about them through the magic of the internet.


Sewing came into my life a long time ago. I have few memories from the days before I picked up a needle and thread and started creating. I felt like as oddball child with my interest in girls lives from previous time periods both historical and fictional. My early sewing days were filled with making costumes such as a Victorian dress made with table clothes and something resembling a Southern belle.

As a young adult sewing continued to be a for fun activity. Even though my hips were a different size from my bust I could still shop for clothing in regular stores as long as I was careful to select dresses with gathered skirts or separates. I was also very scared that if I didn’t dress trendy enough I’d never find a boyfriend. Silly, but true.

1929561_22145325211_6593_n28339_1254333890806_7698041_n

My pre-marriage sewing consisted of 1950s and 1960s dresses made with quilting cotton. I didn’t make a lot of dresses as I was super super broke. I also didn’t know anything about buying fabric aside from wandering the aisles of JoAnn’s and picking up things I liked. Some times my dresses turned out awesome, sometimes they did not. As long as I picked styles with full skirts I could cut a straight size and sometimes I would design my own styles. Everything was still purely for fun or for a specific purpose (like Halloween).

Then I had baby #1.

By the time I was pregnant with my first daughter I had discovered sewing blogs, local sewing stores, and started buying fabrics other than quilting cotton. I distinctly remember getting pregnant and searching the internet for vintage maternity dresses. I was SO SURE I was going to make all my maternity clothes. I’m sure you can see how this turned out…I made 2 elastic waisted skirts for work and that was it. Morning sickness was unrelenting for the first trimester, I lost a lot of weight, and then I spent the rest of my pregnancy sick from undiagnosed gallbladder issues.

I also spent my pregnancy dreaming of the perfect breastfeeding wardrobe I was going to create. I even commented on the (now discontinued) blog 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World. Here’s a screen shot of my comment. I’m laughing at how naive I was back then. Also, the comments section on that blog are absolutely filled with people I recognize today. Hilarious blast from the past.

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 8.03.53 PM

After having Lu I was hit with so many issues. I mostly got my waist back, but my breasts were huge so none of my pre-baby clothing fit right. I also continued to have gallbladder issues that lead to surgery at 3 months postpartum, issues with creating enough breast milk, a full time job, a baby who never slept more than 2 hours, and a husband who was working on the road when Lu was 6-12 months old. Somewhere in that first year I managed to fit in a sewing class on making your own custom sloper. I squeezed myself into my me-made pre-pregnancy clothes for sewing classes, but I can’t remember really sewing myself any everyday clothing to fit my new body. My husband bought me a fabulous new Janome and I retired the Brother my parents bought me as a teenager.

971336_10152988576675212_1510079757_n1493336_10153548083730212_1921755881_o

I did manage to make multiple historical dresses. How crazy is that? I was too out of it to make myself a work dress, but I made a 1930s dress, a full bustle gown, and a few other things for when I volunteer at a local museum.

And while I wasn’t doing much sewing when Lu was a baby, I was doing a hell of a lot of knitting. In 2013 I knit 35 projects (14 accessories, 8 baby items, and 13 sweaters for myself). I knit while I breastfed, while I was pumping milk at work, while I was between tours at the museum, in line at the post office, when I was a passenger in the car, and basically anywhere and everywhere I could hold the needles. Sewing meant setting up my machine and finding my place in the project. Knitting could be picked up and put down at nearly any point in the process.

6851252742_dc481c04b6_z

7014687383_37b272fbb5_z

I knit this while I was in labor!

lucy_easter_2013_medium

yarma_medium2

During pregnancy #2 I didn’t even bother trying to sew maternity clothing. I bought a few things and wore them on repeat. Instead of sewing clothing I took up quilting starting with a quilt for the new baby.

After Charlie was born sewing came back into my life full force. Only this time I wasn’t sewing for fun, I was sewing for a purpose. Two children had left me with a body that no longer fit well into any clothes I could buy. I stumbled through 10 months of breastfeeding with a combination of Cake’s Tiramisu pattern, and Sewaholic’s Yaletown dress. Wrap dresses were my jam. So practical for nursing and those endless pumping sessions.

IMG_1618

When Charlie weaned it was like my body was handed back to me. Knowing she was my last baby I could move forward making clothes I’d love to wear. Things with zippers and made from woven fabrics with no elastic. Magical. IMG_4311

Being a second time mom was also so very different. I was so much less anxious all the time. Charlie slept better than her older sister and my husband did less traveling. I started sewing most nights from 7-8:30pm and with 90 minutes per night plus nap times on the weekends I could actually dedicate my mind to figuring out fit issues. I started making muslins instead of diving straight into a project and it was so worth slowing down to have better fitting clothing.

img_7618

I actually use apparel fabrics and the results are far superior to quilting cotton (even if the prints aren’t as cute). At this point I only own one commercially made dress, a leftover from when I was still breastfeeding that still garners lots of compliments. But I think the biggest compliment is that people don’t even suspect my clothing is homemade. These years of blogging and working on my skills have lead to a wardrobe of custom fit clothing that makes me feel confident both as a woman and as a mother.

img_9997

A Very Disney Birthday

Five feels like such a milestone age. Five! A year of transition as Lu moves from toddler to kid and preschool to kindergarten. She’s learning to read and makes some rather fantastically creative art work. To celebrate we treated the girls to their very first trip to Disneyland.

Sure, I could have bought them t-shirts at Target or grabbed something from their dress up closet, but where’s the fun in that? Naturally the sewing momma had to make them something special.

First up, the birthday girl’s dress.

IMG_8854

I started with the idea of a dress with a circle skirt and a big ruffle. The base is my favorite girl’s pattern the Geranium Dress from Made by Rae. The bodice was lengthened and the skirt swapped for the circle. I grabbed plenty of this Princess Emoji fabric from Michael Levine’s one rainy lunch break. I find a lot of licensed Disney fabric to be pretty ugly, but this was cute and some quick texts to my mom for her expert opinion confirmed I was making the right choice.

Lu’s dress was tricked out with rick rack and piping at the waist and hem. Quite cute! I had a hard time picking trims without spending a small fortune.

IMG_8880

I purposefully picked something sleeveless because March is really hit or miss weather wise. Two days before out trip it was over 80F, but the weather cooled drastically by our trip to the park. Thank goodness I also grabbed some organic cotton knit in bright pink to make a t-shirt and leggings.  Poor birthday girl would have been cold without them.

So, what about that ruffle I mentioned? Lu didn’t want it! I was left with about a yard of leftover fabric! Naturally that meant Charlie got her own dress too. I made a really basic Geranium dress for her as well and dressed it up with a little rick rack I found in my notions box. Lucky little sister. A red school shirt and pair of tights rounded out her princess look without needing to spend anymore money. Hooray! Disney is expensive!

IMG_8869

Lucy showing Sleeping Beauty the Aurora emoji on her skirt, priceless.

Those dresses would have been enough, but I still have a couple more tricks up my sleeve.

IMG_8730

This sweet little dress was made for Valentine’s Day. Charlie loves Minnie Mouse, so she was wild for the fabric. Plus she’s decided her favorite color is pink just like Lucy. Charlie’s in a sister worship phase that is so cute and sometimes frustrating.

IMG_8732

The pattern was the Geranium Dress you’ve seen a million times and the fabric was from JoAnn’s. Just a nice basic yet fun dress she can wear any day of the week.

IMG_8951

I made Lu a Valentine’s skirt too, but she didn’t get to wear it since her school requires uniforms. The Doc MsStuffins’ tiered skirt came in handy for our day at California Adventure. It rained sideways for two hours, but I don’t think Lu even noticed after meeting 6 princesses at breakfast.

IMG_8958

I never did get a great picture of her outfit, but she is wearing a hand knit sweater with her new skirt, so plenty of mom-made clothing on display.

Our trip was wonderful, if exhausting. Special shout out to my mom, sister, and brother in law for tagging along as well as my husband for wrangling the two year old so I could geek out with my newly 5 year old girly girl Lu. It was totally magical.

IMG_8920

In other sewing news, I’ve been working on a big project for myself, a new sloper. The sloper itself is done and just needs a write up and my first dress using it is in the muslin stage. Exciting, but slower work on top of the never ending cold I picked up at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Goodbye 2016!

2016 has come and gone. Last night we had storms passing through, but today has arrived cool, clear, and with a beautiful bright blue sky. Like many others 2016 was not my favorite year. Beyond the political landscape, it was just an okay year for our little family. We got by fine, the kids grew and thrived, but it wasn’t an easy year. By the end of it I felt quite worn down by the routine but also by the instability.

There was a lot of good stuff coming out of our house as well. I spent a lot of time on my sewing skills. I now have a much loved skater-style dress I make and wear frequently. I also discovered I do better when I work off the Gertie block then the Cashmerette block (for wovens). I’m sure in the coming year I will buy more patterns, but I also hope to make my own block again. I have a lot of ideas of dresses I’d like to make, but I think making my own block would really help me spend less time fitting and more time designing.

I made some misses too. A few poor fabric choices and a few patterns that just didn’t work for my shape. And sometimes things turn out okay, but they fail to make it to the regular rotation. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a sewer who doesn’t have a few flops every year.

And then there are my sweet girls! Not as much sewing for them as with previous years. Mostly because Charlie can wear so many things I made for her sister and she’s stayed quite tiny. Partly because Lu finally grew enough that she can wear commercially produced school uniforms! I ordered a select number of skirts and dresses in August and Lu’s been set for school since. I am incredibly proud of their swimsuits and plan to make them new suits for next summer. So much fun and really simple.

What’s next? I still have some quilts to finish. One for my bed and the girls matching quilts for their room. We moved all the baby stuff out over the winter break and we’re contemplating bunk beds this summer, so I’d like to get those quilts done. Otherwise I’ll just keep looking for new inspiration. I organized my fabric stash a bit this week and remembered I have fabric to make the Sewaholic Pacific Leggings, my SIL bought me the Decades of Style Lara Dress pattern, and I have more wool jersey to make a skater style dress. Maybe I’ll get to those things, but if I don’t it is okay. I can’t wait to see where 2017 takes me!

Clothing Sisters

So confession time. My favorite part of having two girls…matching outfits. It is soooooo about the matching outfits when your girls are young and the parent is still mostly selecting their clothes. I live for holidays. My husband is not a huge fan of putting our girls in perfectly matching outfits, so we reached a compromise. Coordinating outfits.

For Christmas they had coordinating sparkling dresses I knitted. (This is seriously the best picture I have.)

20141213-IMG_2958

So as Easter approached I started searching for the best pattern and the best fabric to use. Ultimately I landed on the pattern Geranium Dress by Rae Hoekstra. If you’ve read pretty much any blog that features little girl’s clothing you have seen this pattern before. I’d say for good reason, because is it dead simple to make, classic, and easy to modify.

IMG_2299

IMG_2305

For the fabric I settled on two prints from Nest by Free Spirit Fabric. The fabric is so lovely. Soft, easy to work with, and washed really really well.

IMG_2300

IMG_2283

I did the ruffle trim on the sleeves for both, but DD1 has a dress and DD2 has a tunic. She’ll be trying to crawl soon and I know dresses are much less practical for that stage of baby-hood. Both outfits are fully lined. DD2’s tunic was pair with Rae’s pattern Big Butt Baby Pants that I shortened to bloomers. They’re trimmed with some sweet lace I purchased at a rummage sales more than a decade ago.

IMG_2286 IMG_2304

Sadly I have no photos of both dresses together. DD1 was recovering from a stomach bug and DD2 only has short windows of time when she is willing to be photographed. Oh well. There’s always the next holiday.

Anyways, I really loved making these outfits. I love it a whole lot and seeing these photos is making me even more excited for the start of Kids Clothes Week! I wonder how many things I can crank out in 7 days? I’m hoping at least one school dress for DD1 and one more tunic/bloomer set for DD2.

Stitches West!

Whew! What a week. It was my last week of maternity leave and DD1 was sick and well, I was busy. But Stitches West was great! Look! Knitting! Bless my mother who did the majority of the driving while I knit and tried in vain to get DD2 to relax and nap in the car.

IMG_1783IMG_1786

Stitches itself was really great as always even if I was only there for less than 3 hours. The marketplace was filled with fun vendors and I was especially glad to meet the ladies of The Frosted Pumpkin since I’ve picked up cross stitch again. And my friend Erica snagged me one of the exclusive kits The Frosted Pumpkin was selling. So cute with little sheep and socks and such! My sister was thrilled to see Stephen West’s outfit.

IMG_1793IMG_1794

There was also Jennie the Potter. I’ve heard a ton about her beautiful work from people who have attended Rhinebeck. I told myself I wouldn’t buy a mug, but I ended up buying a small tumbler to bring out on special occasions (when the kids aren’t around).

IMG_1795IMG_1792

Mostly I like to just walk around and see what’s new and hot. Last year Plucky was all the rage and it was clear YOTH was this year’s hot ticket. By the time I got there around lunch on Friday a lot of their stock was already gone! But I hear they are coming to Vogue Knitting Live in April, so maybe there will be more selection there. Also, note to self – track down this gorgeous purple from Jill Draper Makes Stuff.

IMG_1819

IMG_1798

My girls also had a good time. My mom and sister took DD1 while I shopped. I think the escalator was her favorite part, though her chocolate milk snack was a close second. DD2 had a great time snuggled up against my chest. I swear I couldn’t go more than a few feet before being stopped by someone wanting to take a peek at my red headed girl, but I don’t blame them. Babies in hand knits are irresistible!

In the end here is my haul of goodies.

IMG_1860

I’ve been busy sewing almost every night this week, so I hope to have more to share soon. But it will depend on if we get rain this weekend. I hope we do because we need it so badly!

Stitches West Bound!

Tomorrow I’m off to Stitches West! That’s right. My mom and I are loading up her car with enough stuff to take care of two small children for fours days and heading up north tomorrow morning. My sister also lives up north so this is perfection in a visit. A little yarn and fiber goodies and a little sister time. Plus my sister got engaged last week. Squee!!!!!

See you in a few days!