Category Archives: sewing

The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Mother-Son Sewing and Apron Inspiration

Elijah has decided he’s going to start making all of his shirts, since he can’t find styles that he likes in his size.  After a long couple of days last week, when we woke up to heavy rain, I declared a sewing day.  I even changed my plans and opted for a project in a similar color to his so that we could share the sewing machine without having to re-thread.  He completed his entire shirt that day, while I only manged cutting out the majority of my project.  It must be nice to have so few responsibilities!  Still, sneaking in a seam here and a seam there, I made slow, but steady progress.

  On the very day I wished to wear it, shortly before leaving the house, I resolved to quickly finish it up.  Dear reader, this is how almost all of my projects are completed, if they are ever to be completed at all.

At the very, very last minute, I decided that unless I was planning on picking up work as a serving wench, the neckline was much too low.  When Steve walked in on me standing at my sewing machine- because who has time to find a chair?, in my underwear- I can’t very well alter a dress that I’m still wearing, now can I?  sheesh. He paused momentarily, taking in the scene, before seemingly coming to the conclusion that this was perfectly normal behavior for his wife and without a word went back to packing the car.

  My dress is a very heavily altered Washi, but I think I’ll have to save the details for another post because this one is already going to be a long one!

Our new challenge for June 27th is “Comfort”.  Two potential ways of approaching this challenge are the creation of clothing that is comfortable to wear or crafting that is a comfort in the making, perhaps using a favorite pattern that is so well known to you that working with it becomes almost meditative.  I’m sure there are many other ways of working with this theme as well.

Don’t forget, we’re looking at aprons next week!  Here is a selection of free apron patterns and tutorials to intrigue and inspire:

Gathering Apron

Harvest Half Apron

Yet another style harvest apron

Clothespin Apron

PDF Booklet Featuring 27 Vintage Apron Patterns

Romantic, Regency Inspired Country Apron

Edwardian Apron

“Best Worn Barefoot” Smock (a good option for maternity wear)

Recycled Men’s Shirt Apron

Japanese Style Cross-Back Aprons: tutorials 1 and 2 and a  child-mother matching version

No patterns, but tons of inspiration can be found at The Vermont Apron Company’s shop and blog.


Handcrafted Wardrobe: Summer is A-Comin’ In

Around every corner there seems to be someone in need of me, at every hour of the day.  I’ll have to wait until next week to share my project.  But I’m very much looking forward to seeing what others have been working on!

If you haven’t been doing so already, do have a look at the comments on these posts!  There are many interesting conversations happening.

Happy Monday friends!



The Handcrafted Wardrobe: BurdaStyle Book Review

Since the start of this project I’ve been hitting up our interlibrary loan system looking for pattern books and inspiration.  This is a fabulously economical way of trying out new patterns.  Within almost any library system you should be able to find a wide assortment of both knitting and crochet books, as well as sewing books, complete with patterns that you can trace and use.

It was in this way that I was recently able to wade through a small stack of BurdaStyle books.

BurdaStyle Modern Sewing: Dresses for Every Occasion

BurdaStyle: Sewing Vintage Modern

Nothing in either of the first two caught my eye, which was somewhat surprising, considering the themes of each.   Of course I can only speak from the perspective of my own sense of style, which may vary wildly from yours.  And I haven’t actually sewn with any of the patterns, so I can’t speak to that at all.

BurdaStyle: Wardrobe Essentials

The third one, however, has a lot of potential. There are a couple of cute dresses that aren’t appropriate for me in this phase of life (read as not nursing friendly) as well as some nice basic skirts.  There are a number of simple, basic tops, with really nice detailing that I would happily sew and wear.  I’m making a note to come back to this one when I start in on my cold weather sewing!

These two are contenders for my autumnal/winter wardrobe….

With maybe a bit of length added to the one above.

I think that with the addition of a modesty panel, this one…

Would make a perfect nursing tunic.  It looks like it would be really comfy made out of a soft sweater knit.

How are things going with you?  Are you working on anything?  The “Summer is a Comin’ In challenge is next week and I confess, I haven’t prepared a thing!  We shall see what the coming week brings.

I have a new theme for your consideration for Monday, June 13th:Aprons” or any other sort of protective clothing that suits your lifestyle.  I’ve decided that if I’m going to take the time to make myself clothing that I love, I better find a way to keep it nice for as long as possible!

Remember the themes are entirely optional!  Please share whatever is inspiring you right now.  I hope you will join us!


spring stitching

Whenever I see a pretty vignette on other people’s blogs, I’m always like, “wait, where are the grabbing toddler hands?!?”

Hiding out in bed, finishing up hand sewing the last seam on a tie for Elijah’s birthday.

We’re chick sitting for a few days, while we continue to consider the possibility of starting our own flock.

After my post last week, I spontaneously cast on for a cowl, designing it as I went along.  Rhythmic comfort knitting: around and around and around… I thought I might use one ball for the cowl and the other for a coordinating hat, but once the first ball was used up, I picked up the second and around and around it went.  When that one was used up I picked up an entirely different yarn and continued on with that.  Before I knew it, I essentially had an entire shawl that slips of over the head, cowl-like.  Which wasn’t the plan at all, but there you have it.

It still needs some finishing work and blocking.  I share it once it’s entirely done.

Celebrating Mother’s Day with my mother.  The beautiful linocut card and goodies underneath were made by Kris.

We are already thinking ahead towards colder weather.  This winter’s wood has been delivered and this evening I cast on for a toasty wool sweater in the color of powdered cocoa.

I’m reading Living Language by Donna Simmons of Christopherus, hoping to incorporate it into our studies, if not this year than next.



The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Make it Work for You

This is what I’m thinking; real women, with real bodies and complicated lives, with all of the true to life sewing disasters and fashion faux pas, but also the possibility of developing a genuine, soul-satisfying sense of unique personal style that’s entirely one of a kind in a way that only hand-made can be.”

I said it, so now I have to live up to it.  Even when I don’t feel well and the sun won’t cooperate and I’m too tired to actually do anything with my hair and I’m not sure how I feel about the clothing I’m sharing or how it looks on me.  Because there is truth in all of that.  This is my real life, my friends, more days than not.

Because of some of my health problems, I have a really hard time wearing anything fitted around my waist, which is quite limiting and frustrating.  I pretty much live in leggings, hence my proclivity towards dresses and tunics.  But when doing outdoor work there are times when leggings just don’t cut it.  I’ve been trying to figure out a solution to this issue for a while now.  When I saw this chambray jumpsuit, I thought that just maybe something along those lines might be the answer?

In looking around I kept finding advice on pairing a style like this with a statement necklace and gladiator heels (am I getting any of these terms right?!?), and I’m all like, “You know, with a frumpy old cardigan and maybe a battered sun hat, that might just be the thing for hauling dirt…”

I really dread being perceived as trying to be trendy.  It’s a strange hang up.  I sometimes get upset when the styles I like become fashionable.

All the same, with hopes of comfortable and productive gardening, I found myself a chambray jumpsuit on deep clearance and took the plunge…

When I took it out of the box Steve looked at me with some concern and asked if I was buying maternity clothes.

After quite a bit of altering, this is what I ended up with:

I’m still not thrilled with the below the waist bagginess, but I didn’t want to risk restricting range of movement.

Before and After:

I think it likely would have been easier to make one from scratch, I literally rebuilt every part of it.  I’m not sure how I feel about it. The jury is still out (to be frank, I feel a bit silly).

Did anyone else do any experimenting with clothes last week?


The Handcrafted Wardrobe

A Washi Dress in gorgeous blue linen, wrinkles and all!  It was not wrinkled in when I put it on, but you pick up a toddler once or twice and this is what you get.

I used the large bow from view A, and the sleeve from view B, both from the Washi Dress Expansion Pack, as well as adding in hidden nursing access, as per this tutorial.

The bow felt….risky.  I went back and forth on it many times before deciding to be adventurous.  I think that having an already worked out nursing variation tipped the scales for me.  What do you think?  Honestly, I really like it.  I don’t always tie it in a bow, sometimes I just tie it in a knot and let the ends hang down.

I had rather a lot of fabric left over and as it turns out, it’s a good thing I did, because I can’t tell you how many times while making this I was approached with the same remarks, “That be mama dress!  Makin’ Serassina dress soooon!”, stated with great certainty while emphatically nodding her head.  Since she left me very little room to refuse…

Hers started out as a very simple peasant dress, that didn’t even come close to fitting, as I well knew it wouldn’t.  Why do I persist in thinking that pattern designers know what will fit my kid better than I do?  Rather than start over from scratch, I chopped it up and inserted several big panels; flat felling the seams to make it a design feature and topped it off with a bow and a frill.  I’m glad the original didn’t fit.  It’s much more interesting this way!

Share your own wardrobe crafting thoughts below by clicking the blue button and adding your link!


The Idea

My pin cushion is a hot spot for pick up installation art.  If horses appear, I know Elijah has visited.  My sister specializes in stick people, houses and cats.  Apart from the occasional smiley face, everyone else goes in for mostly abstract works.

I had a little idea and as often happens to me, my little idea became a great big huge idea and I was wondering if you wanted to join me in pursuing it?

For one year I want to commit to working on creating a home-grown, functional wardrobe that I love, sharing the process here with all of you.  And here is the part of the plan that I think has the potential to be truly extraordinary: I want you to be a part of the process too.

This is what I’m thinking; real women, with real bodies and complicated lives, with all of the true to life sewing disasters and fashion faux pas, but also the possibility of developing a genuine, soul-satisfying sense of unique personal style that’s entirely one of a kind in a way that only hand-made can be.

I hate the terms “selfish sewing” or “selfish knitting”.  It’s not selfish to meet a basic human need for yourself and to do it in a thoughtful way that honors your individuality, it’s empowering!  I’m inspired and I want to see others get involved with that and help it grow.  I want to see if we can’t find a way to build a small community to encourage each other.

I’m not talking about trying to fit ourselves into the molds that fashion trends dictate or trying to find the right outfit to turn the head of your significant other/potential significant other, but of developing a sense of personal style that is in sync with your view of yourself.  I’m proposing cultivating self knowledge and turning it into self-care.  Figuring out who we really are, right now in our lives, because it’s always changing, isn’t it?  And honoring that person.

I’ve been joking with friends that I’m in the midst of some sort of crazy, inverted mid-life crisis. Instead of running out and doing something ridiculous to prove I’m still young, I’m just quietly sitting here, holding on to any scraps of maturity I’ve gained and trying to gather a bit of dignity and self respect about myself.  Apparently for me that means sewing dresses.  So be it.

In the beginning I’m going to try to post once a week and see how that feels.  Sometimes I’ll be posting a finished project, at other times I’ll share progress, ideas and inspiration.  I’m hoping to occasionally feature other voices in this space as well.

I’m going to try to set up a link up so that others can post their thoughts, ideas and progress on their own blogs, Flickr, Instagram or Facebook.  This is open to anyone.  My teenage sons are thinking of getting involved!  You can post just once or every single week.  You can post older projects, sketches, a thought or even just a color you like, the only requirement is that it in someway be related to crafting your way to your own unique sense of style.

Lastly, I thought it might be fun and inspiring for me to throw some themes/challenges out there.  They will be completely optional, but I think it could be interesting to see how many different ways one concept can be interpreted.  But again, this is only one possible idea to work with.  If I’m saying, “Let’s make coats!” but what really makes your heart sing is the idea of sewing your own hand-beaded two-piece swimsuit, then do that and come back and share it with us!  Maybe it will inspire others to do the same (spoiler alert: I will not be among them).

There are no rules on crafts utilized.  You want to weld yourself up a suit of armor?  More power to you.

Next Monday the 9th, I will be posting my first finished project.  I’m hoping to have the link up running by then.  I realize it’s unlikely that a lot of people will be contributing in the beginning and it may just be me talking for a while, but I’m truly hoping at some point others will start to join the conversation.

The first big theme is “Sumer is Icumen in”- you know that song?  Alright, alright, in plain English, if you insist!  That would be “Summer is A-Comin’ In“.  The season itself, your location and lifestyle might all be considerations for this project.  I plan on posting mine on Monday, May 30th and I hope some of you will join me!

And one more mini-challenge: “Make it Work for You“- take something you already own and alter it to better suit your body or your style and make it a more functional and joyful part of your wardrobe.  Hem a skirt, let a waistband out, embroider a collar, patch a sleeve…the object is to take an item that you already own and make into something you love (or at least like better!).  Let’s plan on trying to post those on May 16th.

Happy May my friends!

Love, Melody


Spring Awakening: First Flowers

Part two in my collection of nature study necklaces (you can view part one here).

Coltsfoot“: The very first of flowers to appear in our area, we often spot their cheery yellow blooms surrounded by snow.

Pulmonaria“: Also known as lungwort.  With it’s multicolored blooms, semi-translucent, and delicately veined flowers nestled in a bed of mottled leaves, pulmonaria is one of the first flowers to appear in our garden each spring.

“Viola”: The johnny jump up, the violet, there are many names for this resilient quintessential spring flower.  The spring garden wouldn’t be complete without its sweet fragrance and beautiful array of colors.


Snippets: A Collection of Lace Necklaces for Mother’s Day

“Too narrow breadths for nought-except waistcoats for mice” ~ The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

Or for some lovely, delicate lace necklaces.  A much better use I think!  The mice can fend for themselves.  Available in Plum, Baby Blue, Mustard, Cream, Baby Blue Oval, and Navy Leaf Print.  Also for Mother’s Day a couple of hand embroidered wool brooches; Loved and Blessed.

The shop is just full to bursting with beautiful Mother’s Day gifts as well as a number of Earth Day inspired toys.


You know you must be a homeschooler…

When your 13 year old asks you to knit the sweater vest worn by one of his favorite documentary presenters and keeps pestering you to get on it because he can’t wait to wear it in public…I’m really quite convinced that I’m spending more time untangling the six balls of yarn attached to my work, than actually knitting.  Much more time.  This is supposed to be for his birthday in mid-May (as he keeps reminding me), but it’s not looking promising.

I’ve been reading Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief by the brilliant Katy Bowman, not just for myself, but also for the sake of my child with severe growing pains.  Helpful hint on that one, the only thing we’ve found that is really making a difference so far is regular high doses of vitamin D.  At first I found it amazingly challenging to be walking the right way.  Actually I could barely walk at all and slowly inched my way about holding onto furniture.  But it’s starting to become second nature now and I’m feeling strength returning to those under-worked muscles, as well as a general improvement in certain sorts of pain.  I think in the long run it’s going to be a very good thing.  So much so that I am seriously considering assigning reading it as part of an anatomy block for the older boys.  Perhaps it will influence them in their proclivity towards toe pinching, high heeled cowboy boots!

A couple of things for the shop:

A headscarf in nostalgic homespun.  One for me and one for the shop.  This fabric is fairly light weight and really scrunches up nicely.  And of course it can also be worn fully extended as well.  It’s just right for everyday wear.  I have a narrower version cut from the same fabric that I’ll be listing later in the week.

   And a few sets of birch candle holders: