Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: finishing

Costume Workshop Sew-Along BadgeWe are almost finished with our costume workshop! Our first week we put together a simple hat with ears and whiskers. Then, we prepared our jumpsuit-style pattern and cut and marked our fabrics. Then we joined our shell, including our pockets. Last entry we joined the lining and prepared our neckline and front placket

Today? We are finishing and joining the costume. Our final post will be a little costume/tutorial workshop roundup, consisting of some helpful costuming resources (and please email me if there are any you’d like to share)!

Ready? OK!

Fist Bump!

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Toaster Sweater Sew-Along: October 10th

toaster sweater sew-along & vado jean recap

sign-up for the Toaster Sweater Sew-Along!


Toaster Sweater Sew-Along: October 10th

Toaster Sweater Sew-Along: October 10th

Toaster Sweater Sew-Along: October 10th

October 14th and 15th, I am leading us through the Toaster Sweater sew-along! This sew-along won’t be hosted here, but instead at Sew House Seven’s site. For the pattern, you can purchase either sweater – or both – in a print or PDF version. Continue reading

Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: the lining

Costume Workshop Sew-Along BadgeOur first week we messed around with hats and ears and whiskers, that sort of thing. Then, we prepared our pattern and cut and marked our fabrics. Last entry we joined our shell, including our pockets. Today? We are preparing and joining our lining. This is our penultimate post for our basic body – our final entry and email will be a roundup of some helpful costuming resources (and please email me if there are any you’d like to share – I would love to include them)!

Ready? OK!


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Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: joining the shell

Costume Workshop Sew-Along BadgeOur first week we messed around with hats and ears and whiskers, that sort of thing. Last week we prepared our pattern and cut and marked our fabrics. Today we will be joining our shell (including pockets), to prepare for lining insertion.

A reminder: I am working with faux fur here, and if you are working with it as well you may want to check out my post from a few years back. 

Ready? OK!


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the whole wide world

My son and I sit in the car. Ralph is off visiting a friend; our daughter is inside the house.

Nels is upset. Today three people in the neighborhood were rude to him; uncharacteristic, a bit rough today. The first: the parent of a neighborhood bully. This parent yelled at my son not to pet their dog; retaliation for Nels’ boundary-setting with this child, the latter having defaced our property. The second: two kids in the neighborhood, taunting Nels for being vegan – caprice and cowardice, as these young people mind their p’s and q’s when an adult is around. “I’m in the dead pig club. I love to eat dead pigs!” they shout at one another, smirking his way.

My son takes this stuff to heart. He doesn’t know what to do. I feel him on this. It’s the confusion and hurt when someone is cruel, vindictive. Even knowing why people are like this – it can hurt.

So we talk about those incidents, but briefly. In both cases, my son did not respond in kind. I am quite impressed with him for that. And I tell him. It’s character that matters here. You can have all the feelings you want. I get it. But character is important. You can’t retaliate in kind. If something has to be done, we have to be thoughtful about it. We can’t lash out, just because someone was rude. Cruel. Spiteful.

But then – we talk about other things. A catch-up, on how he’s been this week. He’s feeling the influence of the pack of boys he plays with. They cuss (when not around adults, that is), and this last week he’s cussed a few times. He is teary-eyed. “I feel like I let you down,” he tells me now, his voice breaking. I remind him that although I love it that Nels doesn’t curse; his sister does (like a sailor!). “You don’t think I judge her, do you?” I ask. He calms in a moment, then says, No. I hold him close in the front seat, smelling his straw-sweet hair.

We talk about harder times, and what he learned from those times. And what he’s learned to leave behind.

When we’ve talked it all through he is much more cheerful.

I remember when my children were very small, and I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. Their physical needs seemed constant; I had so little help, and my resources were less than they are today. And I remember thinking that older kids, kids who could clean up after themselves and shower and dress and do housework and feed themselves, how surely that must be easier.

But I think it never gets easier to have a child. It is incredible though, to watch them become strong, to navigate emotional maturity. These teenage years, there is so much treachery! Their father and I are good influences, but we aren’t their only influences.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve folded a sweet little paper boat, and set it on a windy lake. It sails off but totters and with it, my heart in my throat.


“This isn’t even a scary bug,” my son says cheerfully, as he carefully pushes into the bathroom. I’m scrubbing my face, getting ready for bed. He comes alongside me and proudly displays the specimen on one of his long, beautiful hands. It is a hideously large, creepy-crawly moth with burly legs and massive febrile antennae. And my son is brandishing it about four inches from my face.

“Oh wow,” I say, neutrally. I am waiting for it to flutter it’s deathly dusty wings in my face. Any moment. Incredibly, it is quite at home crawling about sluggishly on my son, who is pleased as punch.

“… Can I put it on you?” he asks me politely, after a moment.

“Oh, no thank you. Hey – I am getting ready for bed. I’ll be out in a minute,” I tel him, now. We are both so polite. So civil. I am wearing a top hat and monocle.

“He’s looking at me with those big black eyes,” Nels says fondly, as he leaves.

I shudder. Look in the mirror.

I’ve been raising my kids to be gentle, to be kind. So, there it is.

Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: preparing your pattern

Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

Last week we messed around with hats and ears and whiskers, that sort of thing. This week, we are talking about our basic pattern, and cutting our fabrics. I will be working with faux fur today, and if you are working with it as well you may want to check out my post from a few years back.

A reminder – sign up for my Skype sessions! They are the bomb! To wit:

A satisfied customer!

In Skype sessions we video chat and you can tell me all about your project and I can direct you to sources, help you find techniques, and advise! My next two Fridays are open for Skype appointments  – 12 to 3 PM PST on September 23rd and 30th! I already have slots filling in – so if you want to reserve a spot, text (360.500.3287) or email me!
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& why was it lifted and taken from there

It has been many years since my daughter asked me to paint her nails. The children and I treated ourselves to professional mani-pedis just before last year’s Christmas vacation. Last December she chose a soft black, and calmly let it grow out over the period of months, her special little hands and feet.

Today: a soft black, again, in a little bottle she brought home.

First: the toes. they are each perfect, little beans. Some day they will be held and treasured by the familiarity of a lover.

Tonight, just me.

We’re in the kitchen and it’s very late and it’s very quiet. 

Her toes only take a touch of the brush.

Then: time for her fingers. Her hands are delicate and beautiful. They are always warm, her hands. She holds my hand still; she held my hand in the drugstore today. I hold each finger gently and carefully brush each nail, all my concentration. Nail lacquer is a great mindfulness practice.

“‘No Light’ Gel,” my daughter tells me. “I don’t know much about manicures, but…” [sharp intake of breath] – “the idea doesn’t seem sound.”

I am quiet, thinking of her mind. She started her second year of college today. At fourteen. Her mind is as sharp as any I’ve ever seen. I forget she still needs my help, my nurture and guidance. Adult as she sounds.

Yes but – but in her voice I can hear the same sweetness I heard when she was an infant. I remember when she was only two years old, she could “read” the large Dr. Seuss book The Lorax. She couldn’t really read, understand, but she’d memorized the words and tone of the words when we read to her, and she has always been the most delightful mimic. She would calmly turn the pages and recite the story aloud: “What was the Lorax? And why was it there?” I’d hear her musical but sharpish lisp from her bedrroom while I breastfed her brother.

She says, now, about the nail laquer – which she bought herself while on errands with her grandmother, a thoughtful purchase, “But it was one of the more moderately-priced products on the market.”

I die. I die a hundred times inside my heart.

Flu Shot

into the early hours

Flu shots today. One stoic, one pensive and needing a hand-hold.

Flu Shot

Flu Shot, Part 2

We struggled so much financially, when the kids were small. Thinking about it now, this might have been the best time for that sort of thing. Children don’t need social status, and they don’t worry about the future (until we show them how). They need food, warmth, play and rest, love and attention, and opportunities to explore with their beloved carer at their side.

Ralph and I managed all that, amidst varieties of hardship and calamity that brings to mind the adage: “Comedy is tragedy plus time.”

I’m thinking of this past, now that my cupboard is full and we have pretty reliable hot water and I don’t worry as much. It seemed like things got better pretty easily, but of course I’ve worked hard, and of course we’ve had good fortune besides.

We are in our final weekend before Phee’s second year at college. The children are both very engrossed in their exploits: Nels has been alternating between gaming online – and playing outside with the neighborhood gang. His schedule has gracefully morphed to perfection: he is up only a few hours before the rest of the boys get home from school, and in that time he cleans up, breakfasts, and does his morning chores. He plays with the boys until they go home, and then he’s online until I get him away, after I’ve done my own daily work.

Crawling into bed in the wee early hours of the morning, my son and I are watching Scooby Doo on Zombie Island. “Do you think that’s a real ghost?” I ask my son, during the rousing beginning caper in the film. “No,” he replies, sounding like the teenage boy he’s growing into. He knows how Scooby Doo works – come on, mom!

But I turn and look at him in the light from the screen, and I can see he’s smiling.

the most amazing business in the world

Driving home I’m sad. It’s gorgeous out. And I’d like to feel better. I get tired of all the hate in the world, all the people who are unhappy and willing to splash it around at leisure. Today I got hit with some splatter, let’s just say. Someone hurting I suppose, who elected to be nasty.

My mind touches on happy memories form the last 24. A stripey kitty with white socks, running across the street. I’ve never lived with a stripey kitty with white socks (although I hosted one briefly, this summer). Maybe that can happen someday. 

The other day, at breakfast – Nels exclaims happily, and points out the window. “Mom, come look! You will like it!”

I come look. It’s an inchworm, a little yellow guy about an inch and a half. He’s racing along the railing of our deck. Yes, I do like it. I step out to take a picture.

Nels has been bringing me inchworms because he knows they make me happy. A recent specimen was only about three millimeters long. They are always so busy and earnest and they move so quickly. We only examine them moments before my son takes the back, always back to where they came from.


Yesterday my son comes alongside me as I am fooling with some noodles, straining them in the sink. Making a lunch.

“Did dad tell you I tripped on some glass?” he asks, by way of conversation.
“No. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Just a really deep cut,” he says nonchalantly, showing me a shiny new bandaid in the flesh of his palm.

A really deep cut!

“I keep wondering if they’re glass in my hand. I keep pressing on it.”
My children are teenagers – well, almost, in Nels’ case – but they retain that childlike nature, a positivity and helpfulness, that makes them a heck of a lot better company than lots of grownups. My daughter rescues a small spider that falls in the washing machine. She draws a sketch for a dear friend. She cooks for herself – tater tots, half of her repetoire!
She asks me to make her some menswear-style clothing – she wants to dress “butch” this fall. Ask and ye shall receive!
Working in the studio until late. Time to take a hot shower and get to bed. Meeting with a new client tomorrow: altering a bridesmaid’s dress. Grocery money for my little ones. Not so little now. But still my little chicks, under the wing.