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Spring-Summer 2020: A few more books and a lot of cooking

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Citrus bounty

I realized after I hit publish on my Summer 2020 post that I actually have read a couple more books I enjoyed. This light beach read:

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And this book that had me on the edge of my seat in a good way and transported me onto a boat in the Caribbean.

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And this highly anticipated book by the author of The Mothers which I also loved.

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But the thing that I have actually spent the most time on this Quarantine Spring/Summer/hopefully not Fall of 2020???? has been cooking all the things.

Some evidence below.

 

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It started because I was trying so hard to ration our food stores, not knowing if there would be shortages and trying to limit my grocery shopping to every 10 days-2 weeks during our period of social distancing here in the US and it became a creative outlet and a way to mark the end of the workday when I worked from home and work life and home life were enmeshed and every day felt like ground hog day.

I tried to create family dinners that we would all enjoy, complete with flowers, when available from the garden,  and candles.

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Also my workdays looked like this and I needed a creative outlet. A glass or two of wine while cooking also helped.

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My primary muse was Alison Roman. I had bought her cookbooks early in the year with the intention of trying some new recipes and try I did. Here is a list of the recipes I cooked this spring that were new to me. Everything on the list is something I would make again. They are all keepers.

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And more here:

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In terms of my New Years Resolution to cook some new recipes, reader, I nailed it.

I am hoping, though, to be able to to read more, sew more, exercise more as life hopefully becomes a little less stressful, although in the Northeast, we are still practicing social distancing and I expect to be doing this for the foreseeable future. Our gym did reopen, though, and I am swimming my laps again which is a huge positive development. Especially in light of all the food and wine!

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Reading, Writing and Sewing, July 2020

Life continues to be very odd in the summer of 2020 as I am sure most would agree. I am not reading at my normal pace but I loved Deacon King Kong by James McBride and can’t recommend it more highly. I actually borrowed it right before lockdown and when our library reopened for curbside service, I knew I had to read it quickly because in the interim, it became Oprah’s book club pick. She was right as always.

I am now enjoying a book I learned about through an episode of Modern Mrs. Darcy. I tracked it down at the Yale University library. They tracked it down through inter-library loan from the Columbia University library. Some day all these institutions will reopen and they will want it back, but right now, with no prospect of a real trip, I am loving traveling through the towns of Italy. This book, published in the 1950’s,  is listed as THE BEST travel memoir in 1000 Books to Read Before You Die.  I highly recommend The Surprise of Cremona if you can get your hands on it and 1000 Books to Read Before You Die is very fun though a bit daunting. I don’t think I have even read 100 of them, but it is a great list.

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I did a little writing this spring of tiny letters that I called Love Notes, inspired by The Isolation Journals project.  I posted them on instagram. They are illustrated using original drawings by by my talented husband.   He draws beautiful cards for special occasions and I have quite a collection of these lovely cards. They are the original Love Notes. I wrote about what inspired me to write them on my instagram post which you can find @nursebean82. Here is a collage of some of my favorites.

Not much garment sewing happening here, but I hope to get back to it soon. I have one piece of my planned trip capsule wardrobe sewn, # 3 of my original 9-piece plan drawn up on 2/20/20 as part of my new year’s resolutions that included a trip! and a trip wardrobe!! I break my own heart sometimes when I look back at my notebooks.

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These resolutions seemed so modest at the time and so impossible now but I continue to stay hopeful and will sew on and hopefully finish this project by year end and be ready to travel when it is safe to do so. I love this high-necked sleeveless Nikko top, worn newly sewn Brumby skirt. It is such a classic look.

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Other than my trip wardrobe top, I sewed some quilts:

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Lap quilt for a friend

 

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Baby quilt for a friend

 

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Baby quilt for my grandson. Hand-quilted.

And a zillion versions of the Emerald top, a new pattern to be released soon by Made by Rae. My white double gauze version is worn with some swishy Rose pants, also a MBR pattern, in a rayon floral. It is the perfect social distance visiting in the back yards of friends with a glass of wine outfit which is my current summer plan.

 

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I also continue to cook, cook, cook. It is my new therapy but it will require another whole post since I have cooked so many things but here is a highlight, cornmeal raspberry cake, recipe via Alison Roman who is my new best friend. I recommend subscribing to her newsletter.

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What are you reading, sewing, dreaming of right now?

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April 2020: Things that are giving me life right now ❤️

Up until five days ago, I was still going to work five days a week in the outpatient cancer center where I work as a nurse practitioner. Life had changed for me too though not as drastically as those who were staying home. It was certainly more stressful just going to work with the daily necessary screening at the door, the social distancing, the in-person interaction with my beloved patients which is my favorite thing about my work now switched over to phone visits and the daily decontamination process that I would undertake at the end of each day, stripping, showering, daily laundering of clothes, so much wiping down of surfaces. 😳 It has been a lot.

But that being said, I am so grateful to be employed and to be doing work that is meaningful to me, even by phone. I have now switched to working from home last week along with everyone else since I can do my work by phone, at least for now.

Many of the things I usually enjoy aren’t possible right now but there are quieter pleasures I am finding in this crazy time and having a gentle, regular gratitude practice (as opposed to a rigid, regimented one) is helping.

So here are things I am enjoying in the hopes that they may also help you.

I have not included links because I am typing this on my phone and my blog is not sponsored but I promise these are all a google search away if you are interested.

1. Artists sharing their gifts. I love Mary Chapin Carpenter and have listened to her for years, since I was a young mother in Brooklyn and would play her music, (LPs, probably or cassettes?) when I stayed up late sewing. She is a gift. You can find her on Instagram. All the songs are saved. Just click on the pictures. Her dog Angus is a special bonus. I miss our dogs. We had two wonderful golden retrievers. All the love for Angus. ❤️

2. Cooking new recipes and more specifically Alison Roman recipes via The NY Times cooking app. I have probably cooked 20 or more new recipes since the new year, most them hers. It has been totally worth it to me to pay an extra $1.25 a week to upgrade my basic subscription to the Times to include the full access to nytimesfood. I have had to be so much more careful about how we buy and cook and having recipes, especially good ones, is really helping. I am also slowly cooking my way through both Alison Roman cookbooks which were Christmas and Birthday gifts. Bonus: she is delightful to watch in the nytimes cooking you-tube videos.

3. Sewing, specifically pattern testing and hand quilting. I had agreed to pattern test the Emerald Dress and Top pattern by Made by Rae before the virus was in our State and I am glad I did. I sewed and blogged the dress version twice last summer. This past several weeks I sewed three tester versions of the top and I love them. Having instructions to follow and a deadline got me into my sewing room and not thinking about the world for several long afternoons. Bonus: I have three new beautiful tops I will wear all spring.

Lightweight cotton-linen:

rayon-linen blend:

Nani Iro double gauze:

4. Books

I don’t have the bandwidth to read much but I loved this novel:

And I read and enjoyed the latest book in a cozy buddy mystery series that is set in Maine:

5. Just a little bit of writing:

Inspired by a wonderful project called The Isolation Journals that is the brainchild of a young writer I have followed for years, Suleika Jaoud, I am writing the occasional tiny piece. I am calling them Love Notes and I am posting them on my Instagram. It is really worth checking out the project and all of the art that is being inspired by it which you will find by searching the hashtag #theisolationjournals or going to Suleika’s Instagram. There is also an article about the project on vogue.com this week.

Finally, I am trying to hold onto my joy. Two weeks ago I dressed up for work. I wore my latest Zadie Jumpsuit, a pattern I love. I sewed it to wear to NYC and I know I will be doing just that, just not in the immediate future.

Sending big love out to you across the interwaves. Stay home, stay well, stay safe. ❤️

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This blog is not sponsored. I recommend things that I love in the hopes that they will bring you joy too. 😊

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favorite books 2019

With two weeks left in the year I am short on my goal of 100 books so I adjusted my goal down and am just enjoying reading what I like and I loved this book.

It was nothing like I expected. I inhaled it in 24 hours. Highly recommend!

It is always hard to choose my favorite novels of the year but I so loved these four. They are all very different and all wonderful reads. Highly recommend.

Here are other fiction reads that I gave ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars to. Beautiful writing, compelling characters and narratives that made me think hard about my own life. So good!

I love memoir and these were all wonderful. I include The Library Book here which is non-fiction, not memoir but so good.

And here are more wonderful fiction reads that I gave ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. All wonderful stories that you can immerse yourself in.

I just read this spiritual memoir which I really loved.

And I am enjoying this collection of essays by some of my favorite writers.

I am so looking forward to the winters weekends after the holidays when I have more time to read. So many books on my to read pile! What books have you loved this year?

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Thanksgiving Gratitudes 2019

I am sitting on my couch at 10 AM on this Thanksgiving Thursday of 2019. The year and the decade are coming to a close and I just finished reading this book which I highly recommend, if you enjoy spiritual memoirs, and I am counting my blessings.

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2019 was full. We had a death in the family, a birth in the family, major injuries and illnesses for 4 of our 5 children, 3 of whom required surgery and are thankfully healed and one who (thankfully) didn’t require surgery and who healed through his own determination to do the prescribed physical therapy.

It included a planned trip to Maine to celebrate my youngest daughter’s graduation from college (!!!) and an unplanned trip in the middle of winter that started at 8PM and involved me driving 430 miles all night alone in the dark to get there for that same child’s emergency  surgery  which went well, she is fine, I got there in time and I didn’t hit a moose (seriously those signs on the Maine highways-stressful doesn’t even begin to describe it) and she got wonderful care in the tiny, less than 25 bed hospital in the small coastal Maine town. Her nurse that evening went from giving pain medicine to G to leaving the floor briefly to give a breathing treatment to a baby (“We’re generalists, dearie”). As an oncology nurse who specializes in certain kinds of cancer, I was in awe.

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Last week we were blessed by the birth of my first grandchild who came into the world a bit early but quite big (over 9 lbs.) with a bit of a rough start but who is healthy and perfect in every way as is his mother who also had a rough time (to say that I am particularly grateful for good medical and nursing care this year is an understatement.) It is not my place to post pictures of him on the internet, but believe me when I tell you that he is beautiful.

Last summer we said goodbye to my mother in law at the age of nearly 97, who died peacefully, not in pain and not in a hospital, with Bill holding one hand and me the other. Both his birth and her death were everyday miracles, the kind that Sarah Bessey so beautifully writes about.

As the decade is coming to a close, I had the opportunity to deliver a sermon at my church, my spiritual home for 20 years. Writing it forced me to relive and process some very hard things my children and I went through during those ten years and I am grateful for that challenge and opportunity because although it was really hard to think about all of the things I didn’t want to relive, it helped me to put it into words and think about how the experience helped me to grow in so many ways.

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And so today, I think about all the reasons I have to be grateful: my health, the health of my family, a loving partner with whom I celebrated 10 years of marriage this year, our five wonderful children and the opportunity to spend time with them, meaningful work, my wonderful patients and coworkers, my nursing students who teach me as much as I teach them and help me see and appreciate our calling all over again every fall when I teach, our home, our church family, the sewing community, good books, time spent in New York and visiting my son in Chicago, time spent writing (something I am trying to make more space for,) and my physical body, which I am also making more time to take care of recently. I started getting up at 5AM when the time changed (I told myself that 5 would be the new 6!) and have been going to the gym before work several times a week. It has been really life-changing. I feel so much better and motivated to keep this new habit going. I miss running, something that was a big part of my life for over 30 years, but my hips just can’t take it anymore so I am swimming and doing spin class and feeling great.

A week ago I took a day off from work to go to New York and walk all over the city. I do this several times a year to get my city fix. I went this time because a patient of mine who is a photographer told me about the Gary Winogrand exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and I was so glad he did because it was amazing. It was a beautiful warm fall day and I walked through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which I used to do weekly when my children were little, often with one or more along for the walk, strapped to me in a sling carrier or in the stroller.

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Park Slope Brooklyn, now discovered by all and out of sight financially, was the place where all my children came home from the hospital and where we lived for the 10+ years when my children were small. I may have lived in Connecticut for almost 25 years but Brooklyn still has my heart. Bill and I spent a weekend in Brooklyn this year for our anniversary and I spent a week there on my own this fall recouping after the sermon. I go there when I need to recharge and remember who I am. I feel so luck to be a train ride away.

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Another wonderful thing I have been able to do this year is to meet up with friends from the online sewing community in real life. I am hoping to do more of this next year and have already enrolled in some sewing workshops.

I am posting less frequently here but will definitely post a year-end best books of 2019 and best sewing projects as we get closer to year-end. In the meantime, I just posted many, many good books on my Instagram. I read a lot earlier in the year but spent so many hours revising my sermon that I lost a bit of steam over the summer. With that behind me, I am looking forward to Advent and quiet evenings reading in the living room with a Christmas tree and a candle. I found this to be very centering last year. I am also planning to revisit my practice of unplugged Sundays starting December 1st. In the meantime, here are  my four favorite novels of 2019.

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In years past, Thanksgiving meant lots of cooking of lots of dishes in our tiny Brooklyn kitchens and in our different Connecticut homes, but this year, I am lounging on the couch while my youngest daughter and college graduate does it all. She is trying new recipes and making old favorites like this pecan pie. Look how beautiful! My work is done.

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Wishing you so many blessing throughout the holidays and in the next year and decade and thank you again for following along!

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My blog is not monetized. I provide links for convenience but I don’t make a fee if you click on the links.

 

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Fall 2019: Burnside Bibs, Quilts and Doing Hard Things

One of the patterns on my 2019 #makenine plan was the Burnside Bib pattern. I had been meaning to make it for such a long time and I am so glad that I finally did.

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I bought this mustard linen blend at Joanne’s earlier this year with a Cielo top in mind,  but the weight was a bit heavy for a top so I bought a bit more and was able to squeeze out an ankle length version of the Burnside bibs.

I added 2 inches to the bib because I have a long torso and otherwise sewed a straight 12. I plan to size down and will probably take an inch out of the bib for the next version because it really wasn’t necessary.

I used a fun quilting cotton for the facings and added a couple of inches to the length of the legs  by sewing a pre-folded circle of fabric to the bottom using the same technique that Rae uses for the hem in her Cleo skirt pattern.

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It turned out great and was fun to sew. I have some khaki green brussels washer linen set aside for another version which I will probably make a bit longer and definitely with a bit less ease but these are completely wearable and I have even worn them to work. They are such a sunny color that they improve the mood of the wearer and those around her!

Some detail shots below. Really a fun, not too complicated project with great directions. I love the pockets!

And as worn:

I love the flowy legs!

Most of my sewing this fall hasn’t been garments, it has been quilts. I set myself a goal to sew a quilt for each of my children and step-children and there are five of them (!) and I am expecting my first grandchild. And then a dear cousin had her first baby girl so I made her a quilt (so for those of you who are counting, that is 7 quilts!)

I am loving sewing flying geese. It is really fun to just sew a bunch of triangle blocks in different color combinations and see how they come together. The reason I am able to even think that I will sew this many quilts this year is because I discovered the secret that is crinklelove. Sara long-arm quilts my quilts so beautifully. It is fun to look at all of her patterns and find the perfect one. For Ana Lucia, I chose dragonflies. So perfect!

The front: (I have collected many of these fabrics for years:)

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And the back which I pieced because I didn’t have enough of the main fabric for the whole back. I actually love it pieced.

And after binding and washing and ready to go off to its new owner:

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I made a second flying geese quilt for my step-daughter. She loves blue and white.

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I included fabrics from many garments I have made and included fabric from her first hand-sewn garment which you can read about here. It just came back from crinklelove today and I can’t wait to bind it and put it in the mail to her. I chose a quilting pattern called “love doodles” and it couldn’t be more perfect.

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This summer and fall, much of the time that I would normally spend reading and sewing was taken up with editing a talk I gave in October. Earlier this year, our minister asked me to give our annual Laity Sermon in which a member of the congregation gives the sermon. Writing it and then giving the sermon was one of the hardest things I have done recently. I probably went through 100 rewrites. I started in June and most of the month of September, I was just rewriting over and over again in all my spare time. But at the end of the day, I was really glad that I agreed to do it and that I spent the time to really nail what I wanted to say. It is about using faith to navigate difficult times. You can listen to it here if you are so inclined.

I  have so many things that I want to sew, but I am up to my eyeballs this fall because I teach for 12 hours every Saturday in addition to my full time job, but I am hoping to sew a stretch velvet version of this dress for the holidays. I did read two books that I really loved.

This one:

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And this one:

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Next up, I am working on a Looper quilt.

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So much fun!

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This blog is not sponsored. I provide links to products I enjoy but I do not earn any commission if you click on them. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sewing, Sewing Pants

Floral Border Print Rose Pants

I have plans to make the Helen’s Closet Donovan skirt and I had the idea to try it in a border print so I went to trusty Fabric. Com and searched for floral rayon border prints on sale and found a lovely navy print by Alexia Marcelle Abegg.

I bought a large piece and once I had it I realized that it also might make a great pair of swishy Rose pants. The only big challenge is that the border print goes vertically not horizontally and I wanted to make sure that the two legs matched. I ended up laying out my pattern pieces horizontally and lined up the bottom of the pant pieces straight along the selvage instead of the top to make sure that they would match when they were sewn. I had just enough fabric going widthwise selvage to selvage for the length of the pants which was really lucky. Once cut out, I realized that the fabric was really slippery so I assembled them slightly differently than the Rose pattern directs. I cut the front waistband the same size as the sewn pants front and sewed the front waistband to the front and the back waistband to the back and then sewed the side seams including both waistbands. I figured that I would use elastic around the whole waist and just let the elastic gather the fabric. I thought it might work because the gathers are pretty gentle. I had a piece of elastic that wasn’t quite as wide as the waistband so I improvised and sewed a 3/8 seam at the top of the waistband to create a little paper bag waist effect.

Pinning the front waistband to the top of the pants. I wasn’t sure how it would work with the pockets but the fabric is so flowy that it is fine with the pockets being gathered as well. I did not use any interfacing because I didn’t want the fabric to be stiff.

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In order to have the elastic on hand fit the waistband, I sewed a seam at the top of the waist before inserting the elastic. It worked great.

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it ended up creating a subtle paper bag waist effect

Pants before hemming:

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And after worn with my Gemma tank which I cropped and am loving:

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I am really happy with how they turned out. I ended up hemming them to preserve the entire border but they are a bit too long so one of these days I will unpick the hems and take them up a bit. I plan to make another pair in this moss green tencel twill. They are super comfortable and bridge the gap between dressy and casual and doing the waistband in the two pieces was just easier for me to negotiate with the slippery fabric. These are my third pair of Rose pants. You can see my ikat pair here and my linen shorts here.  I am a fan!

Thanks for reading!

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Sewing

Sewing with Teens: MBR Rose Linen Shorts

One summer evening, my stepdaughter and I were hanging out and talking and somehow we got on the topic of shorts. I had just made the Made by Rae Rose pattern as pants in a lovely woven Ikat fabric and I told her that I had plans to sew myself some shorts. She mentioned that she had wanted some linen shorts that she had seen in a store that we will just refer to by its initials, U.O., but they cost upwards of $50 which seemed ridiculous, not to mention out of reach for an 18 year old college student and I said offhand, I bet we could sew something similar. And so our summer sewing project was born.

We had talked for a while about doing a sewing project together but I realized that by walking her through sewing a Made By Rae pattern, we would not only end up with a pair of cute shorts that didn’t cost a fortune, but that because of the way Rae writes her patterns, my stepdaughter would learn techniques that would enable her to sew another project mostly independently. And she did!

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As we sewed she shorts together, I shared my tips. I had a hard time seeing to sew in the ditch when I sewed my waistband with this nubby linen fabric so I suggested that Margaret draw a line of chalk to better see it as she sewed.

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We did most of the sewing in two separate evening sessions of a couple of hours each but prior to starting our project, I had her print and tape together her pattern, read the instructions, measure herself, figure out her size and cut out the pattern pieces while I was at work.  Her measurements put her between a S and M based on the fitting guide in the pattern so I told her to cut between the two lines. This saved me time and was also was a good way for her to get into the project. Then together, step by step, she made her shorts. We would read a step and then I would walk her through it. The MRB instructions were the perfect guide.

She learned how to iron the fabric before cutting and the difference between ironing fabric and just gently pressing a seam after sewing.

She learned about grainlines and how to lay out the pattern pieces using the cutting layout in the pattern and how to orient them using the grainline arrows.

She learned what interfacing is and how to fuse it to the pattern pieces.

She learned how to wind a bobbin, thread a needle, what stitch length to use and how to sew a straight stitch and to switch to a zig zag stitch to finish her seams.

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She practiced sewing some straight lines of stitching on scraps of the material before we sewed the garment and learned how to line up the sewing line with the appropriate seam allowance line. She practiced with navy thread and white thread to decide which one she wanted to use for her final project and decided to use white.

And then she assembled the shorts. She sewed the pattern pieces together step by step following the instructions, she learned to sew gathering stitches and gathered the front waistline, she inserted the elastic and finished the front waistband and hemmed them. As she was following the steps she became more and  more independent so instead of showing her a step, I could tell her to sew or press or finish the seam and she was fine doing it on her own.

The only real hitch we had was when the safety pin opened when the second piece of elastic was almost threaded through the waistband.  At that point, she learned that desperate times call for desperate measures.

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I ended up taking out a few stitches, opening up the waistband to be able to close the safety pin and then I sewed it back up after we finished threading it through (culprit below). I need stronger reading glasses for close sewing work but in a pinch, doubling up on my regular reading glasses works.

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It was great to see her excitement when the elastic was threaded and they started to actually look like shorts!

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And she was thrilled with the final product which are completely wearable and cute and fit perfectly.

I asked Margaret to share some thoughts about the experience and this is what she said:

“I had a lot of fun sewing the rose shorts pattern. I’ve always admired the work Julie does making her own clothes, but it seemed like an overwhelming process for me to undertake myself since I didn’t have any experience. The thought of following a pattern was stressful without knowing sewing lingo or techniques, even though it was something I wanted to try.

The rose shorts were a style I really liked and seemed simple enough that I could follow along, so I felt comfortable attempting them as a first project. Rae’s pattern was straightforward and clearly formatted, but even so having Julie there to help and show me the right way to carry out the steps was definitely a key to my success. I was definitely confused a couple of times with how to orient the fabric pieces and keeping track of what part I was sewing together, but now that I’ve done the process once I think I have a better sense for the sewing process.

One of the most rewarding parts of making the rose shorts was sewing the pockets into the front pieces. Having the pockets securely sewed into the main section made the project start looking like a real pair of shorts which was really exciting. It was also rewarding to thread the elastic through the waistband and see the fabric begin to cinch up like I’m so used to seeing but had no idea how it actually happens.

I was surprised how much prep work goes into a sewing project and how little time the actual sewing takes. I learned that paying attention to detail in the set-up, cutting, and piecing together stages is so important because then you set yourself up for success when you do the actual sewing.

Overall it was really fun and I’m so happy with how they turned out! I definitely want to make another pair. the rose shorts are a good pattern for someone just starting out (like me) because they’re simple yet sophisticated.”

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For all of you who have young people in your lives, I can’t recommend this process more highly. Almost any of Rae’s patterns would be a good first pattern but the Rose shorts are so on-trend and include so many techniques: gathering, pockets, topstitching etc. that working through each of the steps teaches basic sewing in an understandable step by step way. The shorts turned out so well that Margaret wore them to the opening of a local art show that her work was featured in. The show is an open juried show called Focus under Forty featuring artwork by artists ages 16-39. Her work has been featured three years running and this year four of her photographs were accepted in the show and one of them won second prize. We are so proud of her! You can learn more about the show here.

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As Margaret was sewing her shorts, I was inspired to sew myself a pair as well because hers were turning out so cute. They are the perfect summer shorts. I sewed a Large based on my measurements of 32 waist, 42 hip and they fit perfectly.

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The fabric we both used was Essex cotton-linen blend from my stash in two different shades of blue. I subsequently bought that same fabric in a rust color to make myself a second pair. The best thing about this fabric is that it just gets nicer with age.

I also plan to make myself a cropped floral pair inspired by Rae’s version. I couldn’t resist this fabric:

and have made myself a fun rayon version using a floral border print. I used a slightly different approach to better deal with the slippery fabric which I posted about here. Here they are worn with my recently cropped Gemma tank. I am loving wearing them.

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So much love for this pattern!

In our house, we now have a new motto:

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Liberty Fabric, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Emerald Dress by Made by Rae

Back in May I was inspired to make the Emerald Dress from Making Magazine, designed by Made by Rae. I didn’t actually think that it would flatter my body type but I was intrigued to try sewing a garment on the bias for the first time and Rae’s pattern have such clear instructions and such lovely, flattering lines and generally fit me without alterations so I decided to go for it.

This pattern is a free download once you buy the magazine. Because the pattern pieces are cut on the bias, it requires  more fabric and very precise cutting when you are cutting out the main pieces.

I was up for the challenge. I had a 4 yard piece of a striped lightweight cotton from the Loominous line by Anna Maria Horner. I had bought it on sale a couple of years ago thinking it would be good for backing a quilt. I thought the stripes would be interesting with this design. I deliberately did not match them at the seams because I thought it would create more of a sense of movement. Taking my time to cut things out carefully was actually nice for a change. I am usually a batch sewing queen, cutting out several things at a time to be more efficient but I find that I really enjoy the process of sewing a new pattern one step at a time and taking my time. It becomes a really meditative process for me. I moved my two largest cutting boards down to the dining room table and used a large clear quilting ruler to line up the fabric on the bias using the stripes to guide me.

I cut on the S/M lines based on my bust measurement of 37″ and took my time. I added two inches to the length by drawing a new cutting line for the hem about two inches below the pattern line so first version has a skirt that flares just a bit wider than as designed. To compensate, I cut the hem facings a bit wider on each end. I am 5’9″ tall and I always add 2 inches to Rae’s tops and dresses since my height is all in my torso. I did not interface the hem or hem facings but I did interface the neck and arm facings.

I found this lightweight woven nice to work with but I found that lining up the V sharply proved a bit challenging. I got there in the end but I had to do some creative wrestling including cutting the facing edge at the bottom to allow it to spread a bit. I ironed everything into submission and added a row of stitching just around the neckline. I sewed the facing edge to the dress from the outside not the inside as the pattern calls for because my stitching looks nicer as topstitching.

I was actually surprised at how much I liked the final version. You can see a bit of stripe matching serendipity here. I didn’t try to match and didn’t really want it matching because I think it is more interesting that way but I like how some of the stripes come together at the side seam. It really accentuates the sewing lines. After making it, I thought about sizing up a bit in the neck and shoulders so it would be a bit more drapey. I used my bust measurement for the sizing but on closer reading, the high bust should have been my guide and I should have cut between the S/M and L/XL lines. I thought about changing the size when I made version 2 but as I wore this one, I decided I liked it as is. The stripes don’t match on the opposite side seam and the front seam has the stripes in slightly different alignment on the two sides which I like. I have always preferred things to not be too matchy matchy so this made me happy.

I had thought this would be a beach coverup caftan type thing and eventually that is what it will become but I have actually worn it out to my book group and to the office. I love the way it feels when worn, very comfortable, swishy, flowy and light for summer but with a polished, flattering neckline. Rae does it again!

After May was over, I took a couple of weeks off from sewing for a family visit for a graduation and when I got back, I kept thinking about making a second version. I really like making things at least twice because it gives me a chance to fix things I missed on round one.

I had a 2 yard piece of a dusty rose linen-rayon blend from fabric.com. I don’t even remember why I bought it, possibly to make another York pinafore and it would have been great for that, but I knew it would work well for this pattern because of the drape. Since I just had two yards and no stripes to deal with, I altered the angle of the pattern pieces when cutting it out so that they are on the bias but on a slightly less sharp angle. You can see it in the picture above. I cut the pieces out on the doubled fabric rather than flat so the angles would all be the same. I didn’t have enough for hem facings but I used a scrap of liberty, always a great solution!

I hadn’t intended to interface it because I wanted the hem to not be stiff but the floral pattern showed through the pink so I ended up using interfacing. I sewed this second version slowly but still completed it in a day. I had the same issue with my neckline and cut the V apart on the interfaced facing at the bottom and then sewed everything down. It is fine though not as neat as I would like on the inside. But honestly, that is no big deal. I drafted simple bias facings for the sleeves and didn’t interface them again because I wanted a drapey feel for the sleeves. I really love how they turned out.

And now, many pictures of the finished dress. On the front door:

and as worn.

This dress is great dressed up but would also be good as a more casual look with a chunky pullover sweater (I am looking for the right one) and clogs or with a jeans jacket and more casual jewelry.

UPDATE: found one!

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It could totally go from a dinner out or church dress to a walking along the beach dress.  And I think it is really flattering despite my initial misgivings.

Jessica (@kunklebaby on Instagram) made a beautiful version in a blue and white ikat. I may totally copy it!

Happy summer sewing friends!

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