Category Archives: sewing

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:



home-made capsule wardrobe planning

The idea of a small, workable and completely loved wardrobe is still completely beguiling to me!  I planned to try to compile a spring/summer capsule for myself.  Inspiration board here.

I already messed up.  After putting my foot down and telling myself that from here on out I would only buy clothing I loved, I let myself be talked into (first clue there) buying a clearance dress (pressure point number 2) that I didn’t love.  It’s this one, if you are curious.  I thought that maybe it had enough elements that I liked.  I have a dress in a similar cut that I like.  It’s comfortable and easy to nurse in.  But the print isn’t really my style at all.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.  It’s actually rather pretty, it’s just not at all *me*.  After purchasing it, I went back and looked at my mood board which has a definite feel to it, both in color scheme and style; all in shades of blue, fern green, goldenrod, and oatmeal, with emphasis on linen and chambray.  All of the styles and lines are really quite simple, with some pretty detailing; a beautifully shaped collar or perfectly formed pleats.  None of this was intentional, just clearly what I’m drawn to right now.  And I was immediately able to see that it was really all wrong for me.  I even pinned it to see it along with the rest and it sticks out like a sore thumb.  And it’s absolutely true that I mostly avoid wearing it.  Have I learned my lesson?  Who knows.

Some things that I am learning:

* I think I need to make a habit of setting aside a bit of money for clothes for myself, with the knowledge that things will wear out, etc over time.  Instead of it always being some sort of shocking crisis to discover I have absolutely nothing to wear.

* I also have to stop buying things just because they are cheap.  A habit that in part comes as a reaction to the above.

* I need to have more clarity on what I really love.  I am working on that one!

* I think that much of the time, I would actually save myself time by making certain items for myself.  So often I have something particular in mind and end up down the rabbit hole looking for it and usually not finding it.  When I could have spent that time just making what I wanted to begin with.

* Which leads me to: I need to make crafting for myself more of a priority.  I’m working on that one too.

I ended up with that Dottie Angel dress pattern, which I’ve long admired.  I even know just what fabric I want to use for it.  But , I’ve yet to think of a way to make it nursing friendly without ruining part of what I love about it.  It may well have to wait.  I’m trying not to be cranky about that.  Some other patterns I’m considering: the Washi dress and all it’s variations, the Ashland Dress, possibly the Esme Top, extended to short dress length?  Maybe something with this pattern?

A friend and I are doing a little sew along over the next couple of weeks.  I’m pretty excited!


Easter Sewing and Celebrating

A few of my necklaces were taken off the market, due to little people that I love being too attached to them.

Elijah finished sewing his shirt.  He consulted with me from time to time, but did all of the work himself.  Button up shirts are hard!  I consider that quite the accomplishment.  He used  Simplicity 1327, which we adjusted to fit him.

Dresses for my girls…there is kind of a funny story behind these.  Last year our friend and neighbor was here helping us with some carpentry work when, because sometimes I forget to just keep these things in my head, I exclaimed, “I really just want to make a baby dress out of your drop cloth!”  And of course somewhat to my embarrassment, she insisted I take the drop cloth.  And because it was a big old sheet, there was enough for two dresses and head scarves as well.  I used Simplicity 1264 which is a reprint of a ’50′s pajama pattern.  I simply lengthened the tops a bit.  I also put them together with total disregard for pattern instructions, just piecing it however seemed quickest and easiest. More on the bonnet in another post.

Let’s see, what else is new?  I’m currently completely lost in this book, working on Mother’s Day gifts for the shop, trying to get the gardens and yard cleaned up in preparation for planting, obsessively spring cleaning and trying to fit some remodeling projects in.  I’m seriously considering just assigning the kids some books to read and math sheets and devoting all of next week to decluttering, deep cleaning and repairing the house and yard.  I have this huge desire to get life in order right now.  I have such trouble finding balance in this season.  There is so much I wish to accomplish.  The pull outside seems at odds with the desire for that big push in the final months of the school year to try to fit in everything I would like.  Do others struggle with this?


spring awakening

Spring here does not explode in a brilliant burst of colorful blooms.  For us that comes much later.  No, spring on our mountain, in the woods, emerges slowly.  It is a subtle, moody, almost brooding affair.

The world exists mostly in shades of grey and worn, dull, weathered brown, bringing the details that in other seasons go unnoticed into sharp relief.  The bright green of lichen and flecks of moss, emerging from a long snow covered branch.As the world warms, we slacken our brisk pace, stopping to take in all the minute details.Details: Lichen and Moss- machine and hand embroidery on wool felt with a gunmetal grey base, hung on an adjustable leather cord.

♦ ♦ ♦

The snow melts and as it recedes the creeks swell up over rocks and ledges, only to come cascading back down.

Details: “Cascade”- Hand embroidery, applique and needle felting on and with wool felt and cotton velour, with an antique bronze base and fixed 28″ leather cord.

♦ ♦ ♦

These ferns are evergreen.  You see them in the spring, sprawled in great rings, pressed flat to the ground where the snow of months past held them fast.  It is still early yet, but after a time the fiddleheads will start appearing, poking their way out of the mud and slowly unfurling their delicate fronds.Details: “Unfurl”- Hand embroidery on wool felt with vintage cotton ric rac accents and vintage button closure.

♦ ♦ ♦

All three were inspired by our woodland walks and all three are now available for purchase through our shop.


Spring Headwraps for the Shop!

Looking for last minute gifts?  Now in the shop, a collection of headbands and headscarves for little girls, with Easter baskets in mind….

Color-grown organic cotton in both long and medium length styles, in sizes from baby through adult.

Child sized in a pretty spring green daisy print.

Darling bunnies with vintage ric rac trim for that special baby or toddler in your life.

And a fun floral headband.

There are still many lovely spring treats in the shop, with more appearing everyday.