Category Archives: Mama Care

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 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


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!


Closet Anatomy

Why yes, I do hang my Edwardian nightie up in my closet.  I want to get a hook to hang that empty bag on as well.  I rearranged things so that the line of clothing slants upward to the right, as per Konmarie, which felt really backwards and wrong at first, but now I think I like it.  There is a shelf running across the top, way up out of my reach, holding a small office-sized box of clothes and 4 pairs of shoes I can’t currently wear, but am not ready to part with.  I laid out my favorite necklace to remind myself to wear it more often.

I sorted through all my clothing, from all over the house and threw away a kitchen trash bag worth of items that weren’t fit to give to people with no clothes.  Eye opening.  And I don’t just mean a little stained.  I mean I would be at risk of being arrested for indecency, were I to wear them in public.  At home I would try to layer them so that the holes wouldn’t line up.  I donated a paper bag worth of clothing that never fit or was from another lifetime- one that has nothing to do with my current reality- to charity.  I did not only keep items that I love, as much as I relish the idea of an entire wardrobe composed of outfits I adore.  I’m too pragmatic for that.  But from here on out I hope to replace pieces with great care and that goal in mind.

As it is, I could fit all of my current clothing, all types, for all seasons, in one dresser drawer with ease.  The box on the top shelf is clothing that I wish to keep, but can’t currently wear.  Dresses that I can’t nurse in, outfits that aren’t right for my figure at the moment, but may be again in the future. I know everyone says not to keep clothes that don’t fit, but I think the situation is different for mothers of many.  There are so many phases we go through and from experience I’ve found that my body makes a profound shift around the time my babies turn 2 1/2- 3.  I’m not attached to the idea of reaching a certain goal in wearing them again.  They are just there if I need them.  And if not, it’s one small box that’s out of my way, no big deal.

I would, however, like to cover the box or find a nicer one.  The plain cardboard isn’t aesthetically pleasing and since we haven’t built doors for our closets yet, I see it many times a day.

In that same box are some dresses that I seriously doubt I’ll ever wear again, but they have sentimental value.  I thought the girls might have fun with them when they are older.  I know that as a teenager I used to enjoy mixing my mom’s old clothes into my wardrobe.  It was a fun and funky way to be different and also connected to her and the young woman she was.

And now, where to go from here?  I’ve started gathering ideas for both an Autumn/Winter Capsule Wardrobe and a Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe.  There will be some cross over of course.  I’m thinking 10 pieces?  Maybe? I think I’ll have to live with it and see what works.  Someday I will have an entirely home-made dream wardrobe, but my sewing time is very limited at the moment.  I’m going to try to add a custom piece or two each season.  Does anyone have suggestions on where to find good quality clothing that doesn’t cost a fortune?



Breakfast in bed.  I don’t think I’ve ever been served breakfast in bed before.  They went all out with dairy free eggs florentine over home-made grain free English muffins.

My sisters came to stay for the weekend.  One knitted me socks and brought me herb and citrus finishing salts.  The other tried to make my birthday dreams of tiramisu a reality.  Her efforts resulted in what she coined “tiramisoup”.  We had to freeze it to be able to stick candles in it…and there was much insistence that there be candles.  All 35 of them, fire safety be hanged.  So another ice cream cake.  This one a surprise.  But it still tasted good.  And kind of a last hurrah for us, as we are embarking on some serious dietary changes.  I’m over-whelmed by this, but also looking forward to it in a way.  I want to feel well again, truly, truly well.

In a supreme act of creativity and sweetness, Steve tracked down a night robe, from approximately 1905.  It’s huge and billowy and comfy and rustles when I walk and I look kind of ridiculous in it, but he says it’s somehow sexy.  The detail on the eyelet trim is amazing and I love it all, even the ridiculousness.

We had a little walk, on my beautiful birthday.  This year has been crazy.  We spent all of November and December wondering when winter would start and at the end of January we’re all asking each other, “Is it over already?”  I can’t even tell you how deeply grateful I am.  I think another long winter would have done me in.  I feel the hope of spring even in mid-winter and time in my garden feels close at hand.  The Wee Girl is utterly perplexed by her lack of needing a snowsuit.  She can not fathom why she’s being let outside without one.  But she still wears her boots.  Her new-ish pink snow boots that she thinks are the bees-knees, which make little star prints in the melty snow when we go off to visit the birds.


the perfect everyday cardigan

It would be nice to be with a man who wants to know what’s underneath my cardigan. FYI, it’s another cardigan. ~Amy Farrah Fowler

No, my ideal cardigan is not of pink lace, though this yarn is heavenly…baby soft, both in tone and texture, like knitting wisps of pearly cloud at sunset.

I’m in a period of self examination.  As a mother, do you find yourself over-looking yourself?  I know I do.  I’ll put the greatest of care and thought into decisions and purchases for the children and others, but for myself I just take whatever comes my way.  Whatever is easiest.  Whatever requires the least amount of thought and effort.  I’m trying to be better about caring for myself.  If nothing else, I really want to be a better role model for my girls.

A big part of this process seems to be about paying closer attention to the things that I truly love.  It’s a little startling to realize that I often don’t really know my own likes and dislikes!

For the last, gosh, 20 years or so, I’ve always had a go-to cardigan.  There are others in my collection.  I do love me a good cardigan- that much I know!  But there is always one that I grab consistently, most of the days of the year.  Sad to say, so far I’ve never made a sweater that has been elevated to this status.  My current everyday cardi is on it’s deathbed; pilling, threadbare and well past being presentable in public.  Which has left me considering the elements of my perfect everyday cardigan…  Grey- my last two were grey, that seems to be a theme.  It has to be fairly washable.  At least half wool, just cotton doesn’t cut it.  Not too fitted, but also not too bulky.  Pockets, there must be pockets.  At least thigh length, I think.  Some sort of closure.  Soft.

This pattern was love at first sight.  I think I literally gasped when I saw it.  I really don’t know why, but it just felt entirely right.  The only item off my list that it lacks is some sort of closure, which I think can be remedied with a pretty clasp.  Inconveniently for me, the pattern isn’t available on it’s own, but only as part of a $22 book, which adds a considerable amount to the final sweater cost.  I’ve tried to convince myself of the merits of other patterns, but this one seems to be the one.

Yarn wise I’m thinking Swish Worsted in Dove Heather.  I really should do Marble Heather or Cobblestone Heather.  They would be more practical.  Sometimes I resent practicality.  I’ve really been drawn to lighter colors lately, but with five kids, a garden to tend and most of my day being spent in the kitchen….  Still, I really would prefer the Dove.  Do I risk it?  I think it might just be worth it…  It will be a while before I’m able to put aside the money for it, so I have some time to decide.

Are you as cardigan crazy as I am?  What would be your ideal?


white sands and grey sands

     This post is all interrelated, but only from my perspective.  It’s all curled around and into itself like that shell.  I could try to explain it, but I don’t think it would make much of a difference to you.

Do you know that song?  We used to sing it as a round in the family folk chorus we attended years ago.  I often found myself humming it or singing softly to myself as I worked on this little dress, while sitting on a beach back in June.  That Rabbit Heather Tweed yarn with it’s little flecks of rich brown and delicate beige reminds me so much of the sand on the shores of a particular pristine kettle pond, one of my very favorite spots in the world.  It’s peaceful there.  This entire dress was knit while we were away, but I only recently worked in the ends and added the button.  I thought it was so of that place that I needed to work some part of it in somehow.  I brought home a little pouch of trinkets that I thought might work: small shells, smooth pebbles.  This sea snail shell seemed to make the best button.

Reading, reading, reading; thinking and researching and reading some more.  I’m reading Why Can’t I Get Better: Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease in bits and pieces, whatever sections seem most relevant.

     Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis and Its Coinfections by Stephen Buhner came highly recommended to me, and is rather heavy as you might imagine.  It’s a very valuable resource, full to the brim with important information.  Yet, I’ve been struggling to get through it.  In the beginning it was because vision problems were causing me difficulties, but also because it was freaking me out and I could only assimilate the info in small doses.  Even so it still made me feel like there were ticks all over me and tiny worms corkscrewing themselves into my eyeballs and brain.  I’m towards the end now, where I thought I would feel hopeful and I suppose I do to a degree, but the protocol is vast and over-whelming, so there is that as well.

Then there is Out of the Woods: Healing Lyme Disease for Mind, Body and Spirit, also difficult for me to read, but for entirely different reasons.  While the other books come from a more technical place, this one is mostly a memoir.  One that I can relate to so intimately.  For most of the book she is struggling- desperate and suffering.  When she describes how she feels physically it conjures up such a strong and acute sense memories for me of the way that I felt or the way I still feel.  All the same it is inspiring and very much worth reading.


my feet were cold…

I made socks.  I’ve finally come to the conclusion that if I’m ever going to open my drawer and actually find socks, I have to own socks that can not possibly be mistaken for Elijah’s (or Galen’s or Steve’s or Iain’s).  They must be unquestionably mine.  The life cycle of a pair of my socks goes something like this: I buy myself a pair of nice wool socks.  It’s exciting!  You would be excited to if you never had any socks to wear.  I wear said socks.  Such a delight!  When they are dirty I put them in the hamper.  I may even come across them again while doing laundry.  This is the point where things start to get fuzzy.  I don’t see them again for at least a month, maybe more.  If by chance they do somehow reappear in my drawer, they do so with a great many holes and thin places that I don’t remember from the first and only time I wore them.

I divided everything up, taking it on faith that if I worked my leftover yarn into stripes there would be enough.  I think this might be the first time I made a toe up sock?  I prefer toe down,  But toe up has it’s advantages, like when you are knitting until you run out of yarn.  A shorter sock is one thing.  A toe-less one is pretty useless.

I cut off all of my hair.  I’ve been too tired and sick to care for it.  Actually I made poor Steve do it, while he nervously asked if perhaps one of the neighbors wouldn’t be better suited to the task?  He took off a solid 14-plus inches.  I think I’m at peace with the decision, which wasn’t really so much a decision as a reaction, even though I prefer my hair long- especially when I’m on the chubby side, as I am now.  Usually I somehow don’t quite feel myself without my long and wild mane.  But this is who I am right now.  It’s the most that I can manage.  And that’s ok too.


Cherishing Womb Wraps

“I want us as women to enjoy our timeless beauty and feminine essence.”

~ Claire, owner and creator of Cherishing Woman

I’ve recently had the privilege of trying a womb wrap for the first time.  It’s a concept I became interested in after my last pregnancy.  On her inspiration for creating these wraps, Claire says,  “I was needing the comfort and warmth on a physical level as well as on an emotional/comfort level. Like feeling wrapped in loving arms and held there all day till taking it off.”

My wrap is the lilac organic cotton one.  I tie it a little funny.  I don’t do well with things tied around my waist, so I wrap it around my hip bones instead, which would also work well during pregnancy.  My bone structure in that area isn’t terribly stable, so that bit of extra support doesn’t hurt either.

The idea is to bring warmth and a very gentle support to the back, kidneys, and womb area.  The wrap itself is a pleasant thing, and it’s worth wearing as is, but the really incredible, brilliant part is this: there is I pocket.  I know, you are so not impressed, right?  But wait, there is more.  This is not just any pocket.  Oh, no.  This is a pocket to hold a hot water bottle!  Right there, all attached to your body!  Front or back, where ever you need it!  Hands free, going about your life all warm and cozy and comforted!  I think that other people -normal people- may not be as in love with hot water bottles as I am.  But here is the thing- other people are just wrong because hot water bottles are wonderful.  You know that kind of chronic pain that you get so used to living with that you don’t even really recognize it as being there anymore?  It’s just the background noise of your body until something happens to relieve it a bit and that little reprieve is just pure bliss?

I can’t help but think how amazing this would be for a postpartum mother.  It would certainly be a truly unique gift.  You can totally lay and nurse comfortably with a hot water bottle kept in just the right spot.  I know, I tried.  The wee miss liked it too and drifted off quicker then usual.

I’ve been eyeing up the grey bamboo fleece for winter time when I’m always cold.  I think it must be like the equivalent of a teddy bear for grown ups girls.