a pirate, but super-adorable. you know how they are!

A couple weeks ago a parent wrote me, a little frustrated. She’d been trying to put together a dance ensemble for her child that incorporated teal and lime green – in a pirate theme. She asked if this was something I could help with. I threw up in my mouth a little (from excitement), and wrote back, YES, I can do this. I asked a few questions, put together a sketch, and we quick-shipped some fabrics my way.

My last two clients were grownups who wanted grownup things. But I think I’ll always favor sewing for kids, for about five distinct reasons. I love making something well-made that is also ridiculously frivolous in some way. More of us should dress this way ALL THE TIME!
In any case, this little outfit consisted of:

Pirate Dance Ensemble for S. (Teal & Lime Green)
a leatherette hat with lime green sequin headband
two lace armwarmers in black
a teal-and-black striped underdress
a skull and crossbones corset top
a pair of black and white striped bloomers
a distressed lime green sequin overskirt
a double-sided blue sash (using stretch lace and sweater knit)

Pirate Dance Ensemble for S. (Teal & Lime Green)
One of my favorite garments to make: simple knit dresses from high-quality fabrics. In this case, I made sure to create a dress the young girl could wear on its own, when she didn’t need the whole dance get-up. Kids in general love wearing costumes. And why not? As for dresses like these, I would love to make people packets – five different dresses in semi-coordinating themes, for the work week. They are a delight to construct, and my seam finishes are wonderful!

Pirate Dance Ensemble for S. (Teal & Lime Green)

I made everything to fit – but I added some growing room in the corset top. This top should be able to last the child (or another child) several years, if they want to incorporate it into other Halloween, costume, or goth looks. It’s too cool a top to waste. Note the tension stops at the end of the laces, so the corset doesn’t easily become unlaced.

Pirate Dance Ensemble for S. (Teal & Lime Green)
I lined the corset top in an organic canvas – so soft! About the last I have. I also sewed channels in the top, just like a corset – but omitted boning. I finished the corset neckline and armholes with a very thin double-fold binding. Also, the back of the corset lines up in pattern.

Pirate Dance Ensemble for S. (Teal & Lime Green)
I loved the grosgrain ribbon I found for lacing. It has a running stitch detail and is very hardy. I was sad to use it up, actually! I will be keeping my eye out for more.

Pirate Dance Ensemble for S. (Teal & Lime Green)

The cuff of the gathered bloomers. One of my favorite methods of construction is matching all the serge-finishes to the garment. I like taking the time to do this, even if I’m unsure if a client ever notices.

To wit:

Pirate Dance Ensemble for S. (Teal & Lime Green)

Here you see a lime-green organic cotton knit waistband – made from a soft, more comfortable fabric than the main, sequin fabric. I love mixing and matching fabrics in one garment, when we can match colors well.

And oh boy. This glue-sequin knit was literally the most challenging fabric I’ve ever worked with. It defied all my tricks. I found a painstaking workaround for constructing a garment using the fabric. I’d estimate the garment took three times longer to make. But – I did learn something new! (Which is, never work with glue sequin fabrics again! I kid, I kid!)

Pirate Dance Ensemble for S. (Teal & Lime Green)

The sash was the simplest piece but the most fun in some ways – simply matching a sweater knit and a stretch lace. I so enjoyed the combination, I am making a little cardigan/dress piece for a tot, out of the excess.

The job was a rush order; I received fabrics only a week before the ensemble was due. I made delivery less than 24 hours before it was needed for a performance. Parents and dancer seemed to love it!

It’s Halloween season here at Casa del Hogaboom, and I get to make some really fabulous creations this time of year. I will be always grateful for getting to work in my craft. 

On to the next project!

jalie hoodie sew-along post 1: fabric prep and Step 1 assembly

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge
Hey there stitchers! Wow! Have I had a spike in interest for this sew-along. I want to thank every person who has written, messaged, or emailed me with questions.

You can share pictures of your progress here – or at the Facebook group (a closed group; you have to ask to join) moderated by my friend and sew-along compatriot, Judy! If you finish this hoodie by October 31st and enter it into the group, you are entered in a random drawing for an amazing prize pack: a Sew Chic pdf pattern, a Thread Theory pdf pattern, a Megan Nielsen pdf pattern, a $30 gift certificate to Nature’s Fabrics – and a shrinky-DON’T, made by moi! There really is no catch – it’s just for fun!

Do the the number of questions I’ve received I have put together some companion audio to go with each sew-along post. You can listen here to my first installment, which covers a little about supplies, making a muslin, and a few common questions before we get started. This recording also walks us through this very post!  

Please note: if you are still feeling nervous about fabric selection, or if you are not proficient in layout and cutting, you will probably benefit from listening to the companion audio


So – let’s get started!
Continue reading

jalie hoodie sew-along: update!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along Photo Badge
Hey there stitchers! You still have time to grab up your supplies to make up a hoodie in time for fall. This hoodie is easy, elegant, and oh-so-customizable. Please be sure to double-check my supply post and the comments therein, to make sure you’re set up to succeed.

Here are a few sneak peaks of the first finished version I made my daughter:

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!
This hoodie allows for a lot of opportunity to colorblock. The sleeves alone have four separate pieces, not including the cuff (shown above, in a pea-green and charcoal stripe).  For a firmer cuff, find a quality knit interfacing (as per my supplies post). And due to popular demand I will be demonstrating how to construct a thumbhole in the cuff, as well!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!

I used a sage green cotton velour from Nature’s Fabrics. Most non-stitchers ask – “what’s velour?” I usually bring up the LOVE PINK line, and they light up (or power down!) and say, “Oh!” However unlike most retail activewear, the Nature’s Fabrics velours are thicker, have a larger percentage of natural fiber, and feel and perform better.

As a tailor – and one stitcher to another – velour is the most ridiculous choice of fabric to create something with several stitching lines. This has to do with the makeup of the fabric and its finish. Velour has a pile, like a very subtle corduroy, which means every fold and stitching line will show up. But unlike a high-pile fabric such as faux fur, the pile isn’t long enough to obscure mistakes or slight off-grain variations. I am skilled at being on-grain (as my extreme close-ups show!) – but pick velour at your peril!

So for my construction, I kept topstitching to a minimum. And where I did topstitch (as shown above) I used a narrow zig zag. You however, can do what you please! Just make sure to test your fabric to see what you like.

Speaking of finishes: 

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!
Here you can see the construction techique I use, in a shoulder seam and collar, on the inside of the garment. I use a narrow zig zag for seams, serge-finish the seams (entirely unnecessary, but always an option), and hand-stitched the inside collar lower seam. This is the only bit of handstitching in the whole garment. It is a good way to practice – but if you want to stitch this finishing bit by machine, you can as well (more on that, when we get there!).

So! I am beyond excited to work with you on this!

Let’s do it!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!
Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Starting Soon!

Our sew-along starts October 1st. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here. If you like, add a badge to your blog, or subscribe to the sew-a-long updates via RSS!

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gun powder shakes

My new part-time work involves clerical duties and data validation for a local official concern. It is important work, which makes it rather meaningful. It is also skilled labor, although the pay scale is low, which keeps me humble. And grateful. It’s very much “civic/citizen” work, and very soothing. Working it fulltime would absolutely wreck me, but that’s not what I’m doing, so I’m okay.

It is nice to have time on that is not really my own, bits of my life I have slotted away for someone else – no more nor less than a certain precise amount. Today, for lunch, I walked down a sunlit hill to find a good cup of coffee at the quaint little shop on the corner of our county seat’s modest thoroughfare. I’m so used to my little patch of the world I sometimes forget how lovely it really is – and how remote it would seem to those who live in urban areas. Lifting my eyes off the modest street, I see green, forested hills snugging us in. A blue sky booming with cumulus clouds almost too majestic to seem real. The air has an autumn chill but the sun is still cheerfully hot, and warms my cheap work-casual wardrobe.

The coffee shop fellow is friendly and asks, “What’s on the agenda for today?” I am so unused to being asked this by strangers, it takes me a moment to grind into the routine of friendly chit-chat. I tell him: “After work, I’m taking care of the family. Then yoga and a date with friends.” He tells me he’s off to work on the brakes of his car. Truth is, most times, I’d rather hear about someone else’s plans than talk about my own. But even so I’m thinking – I’m terrible at this, at asking people about their day. Maybe I’ve got some learning to do, about connecting to people in a real way.

At the end of workday I file the last bit of bureaucratic ephemera, check the desk for tidiness, log off the computer – then swing my bag across my shoulder and bid adieu to my new officemates. Home and my car has a “CHECK ENGINE” light on. Radiator, still cracked. Brake linings need to be seen to. At week’s end I will owe a phenomenal amount of tuition for my daughter’s new educational ventures.

It’s a damn good thing I know better than to worry – about anything.

Because right now, I have to get home. Feed my family. Ask my kids about the first part of their day. Try to rest.

It’s been a busy few weeks.


Today our thirteen year old daughter enrolled at our local community college. We had a very pleasant orientation with her advisor, and then the family – the four of us – toured some new facilities, some really incredible facilities, that will be her home this quarter. Phee stayed at the school with her dad for the rest of the day, while Nels and I came home to our own undertakings: some football and tailoring work, resp.

College matriculation for my daughter came up rather abruptly, as it happened. So my mind is still trying to put pieces together. Unhelpfully, I am breaking new ground and at a loss for mentors. I am also once again in a tiny bit of a spotlight: the moment I publicly announced our daughter’s acceptance to college, I was flooded with parents publicly and privately demanding I tell them how we accomplished this. I’ve also had a handful of well-intentioned (?) people ask me if she was ready – if we’d thought about This, or thought about That.

Well, sheesh. Yeah, we’ve thought about This, and we’ve thought about That. Ralph and I stay up nights talking about our children, our parenting, our family, our community. We talk about it when the kids are in earshot, and when they are not. Our children are the most important pieces of our lives. We’ve built our entire family structure on prioritizing them (and I’ve been writing about this, passionately, for over a decade) – parenting against the cultural standard every step of the way, I might add.

And now – it’s paying off. I mean, it’s paying off yet again, because it has been paying off since get-go. It’s just paying off today in a way that other parents tend to notice. Parents ask me “how [I] did it”? I say – we prioritize our kids’ health and authenticity over Every. Damn. Thing. Non-punitive parenting, and de-institutionalization (a fake word but a real Thing) is often too scary for many parents.

Adults – not just parents! – want kids to perform. To score academically! To read early! To be good at (culturally-recognized forms of) math! To win the tournament! To somehow be OK, because that will prove we are good parents and by inference, good people. To prove the cultural and familial hazing we endured was somehow necessary and should be continued.

So: yeah. When my kids suddenly stand out in some way, I get the queries. You know… the queries where people really want to know “how [I] did it”, but don’t seem to listen when I respond.

If I sound too irritable, well first: you are reading my personal blog which means you’re looking at my thoughts in their underpants, as it were.

Secondly: I will get past it. I’ve had a lot of changes in our lives recently and I’m a bit overwhelmed.

But here’s the thing. I am a human being. I need mentors, just like you. I need support, just like you. And I really need those things when I’m doing something new not only to me, but new in my community.

I’m coming to see that being a groundbreaking family in this way or that way means there are times I might not get the support I’d wish for. I can’t hold that against anyone. I get it.

But my priority will always be my family.

I’ll be working – especially with these recent changes in our lives – on supporting myself, my partner, and our children in this next leg of the journey. And when I figure things out – well I’ll be sure to share, –

as I always have!

And as always – readers? I’ve written thousands and thousands of words on parenting. I’m no expert on anything except perhaps my own life story (and there’s doubt about that!), but I do pass on what I’ve learned.

If you are new to parenting, or if you’re not new but willing to learn new things: come join us. I welcome your emails, your constructive comments. 

Let’s do this together!

so everyone is pretty much settled in

I can’t believe how many changes hit our family at once. A couple are too private to write about – at least, not at the moment, not until I can collect my thoughts. But – we bought a house, we moved, the kids came back home to homeschooling – and a job found me.

Yes – for the first time in thirteen years I am working day hours out of the home – and today was my first day. I guess these last couple weeks – and the next few – I’ll be taking it easy. Remembering to breathe.

Sometimes life comes at you fast!

supply list: jalie sew-along

Save The Date: Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along
Are you ready?


Four our Jalie hoodie, the supply list is short and sweet. We need the following: your Jalie pattern, hoodie fabric, separating zipper, thread, and appropriate needle. Read on:

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
From top to bottom: Jalie pattern, hoodie fabrics of sage velour and two cotton knits, separating zipper, thread, label, and jersey needles.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Jalie is moving their catalog to .pdf option, which is fabulous. More and more pattern companies are offering .pdf versions in large-scale – for printing on a plotter. Jalie isn’t yet doing this size, so my partner takes the pdf pages and “pastes” them, then we send it to the copy shop. This can be done for most electronic patterns, although some are easier than others – and some sites, like sewingpatterns.com, have such stringent copyright protection it is too troublesome to try.

First, if you aren’t familiar with sewing with knits, or if you have had bad experiences, I recommend taking a deep breath, getting a cup of tea, and taking a couple minutes to read through my new-to-knits post, as well as – if you like – my other knit tutorials. Sewing with knit fabrics is not rocket science. But there are a few things to keep in mind – and trust me, the more experienced you get, the more you’ll love these fabrics!

The pattern recommends fabrics with 25% four-way stretch. This means the knit has to stretch at least 25% in both the lengthwise and crosswise grain. This is simple to determine: grip two points on the crossgrain of the fabric four inches apart, and stretch. The fabric will need to stretch to at least five inches comfortably.

The pattern also recommends lengthwise stretch at 25%. In my case, my fabric barely qualifies. But since the lengthwise stretch is far less important to comfort than crosswise for this garment (fitted tights and swimsuits, for instance, really do need to take lengthwise grain into consideration), I figure I’m good to go.

For fabric yardage, I highly recommend looking at the pattern back. Measure your intended client at the bust, waist, and hip. Determine their size. If they are between sizes, use the largest size measurement for yardage. For instance, my daughter is a size S at bust and waist and T at hip, so I elected to make a size T, and grade up to a size U at hip.

On the back of the pattern,  you will find the yardage of 59″ wide knit fabric you need to purchase for your size.

The back of the pattern also lists the size of separating zipper you need at the lower right in a table. You can buy a separating zipper at your craft or fabric shop, but keep in mind separating zipper selection is usually pretty small. I purchased mine from zipperstop (more in a moment about that).

I use a cotton-wrapped poly for most my apparel. I tend to favor Mettler, but I also buy whatever is available to me when I’m in a pinch. Bargain-basement or old thread is a no-no, but Coats & Clark is fine. I will be serge-finishing my seams (so I need thread for my serger); but zig-zag finishing or leaving them unfinished is probably fine, too. Test samples on your fabric and see what you think!

The correct needle depends on the fabric you are using. In general, a jersey or ballpoint needle is best for natural-based stretch fabrics (wool, cotton, linen, etc), while a stretch needle will work well for synthetic stretch fabrics.

You will need a few other supplies: a tracing medium, interfacing and stabilizer.

You can trace with almost anything, and we could debate the merits for quite some time. You can use Swedish Tracing Medium, tissue paper, project paper from the copy supply store, newsprint, or – my personal favorite – sew-in interfacing.

I will be interfacing the pocket welts (piece H) as well as 1″ along all pattern piece edges we install the zipper to (so: the collar [L], front [A], and waistband [N] pieces). This is a small amount of interfacing – purchase 1/4″ in case you mess up. As for types of interfacing, select either knit or lightweight weft varieties (for all my interfacings, I use Pat Erny’s fabulous products at Fashion Sewing Supply). You don’t need a stretch knit for these interfacings because the bits we are interfacing, don’t need to stretch.

I never sew knits without several kinds of washaway stabilizer. Washaway stabilizers are simply non-woven, non-knit products that stabilize either under or on top of the work, while we stitch, then are washed out with water and gentle agitation (or laundering). They make for better results on knits, and even the oldest, most antiquated zig zag sewing machine can sew knits easily using these methods. When it comes to washaway stabilizers, I always have a sticky and non-stick version on hand. I use Solvy’s Fabri Sticky Solvy (in a roll as well as printable sheets), and (for non-stick) Vilene plus. Bonus: the non-stick version can even be dissolved and painted on knit seam allowances to make for stable sewing – far cheaper than buying a stabilizing spray.

And now – OH MY GOSH. Let me tell you about a little sumthin’-sumthin’ I treated myself to: the YKK sample book, containing ALL the zipper fabric shades they make. It can be hard to perfectly-match a zipper, but it’s something I need to do! And now, I have that power IN MY VERY HANDS! muah-ha-ha-HA!

Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
Jalie Hoodie Sew-Along: Supply List
So – yeah. Pretty cool, huh?

Our sew-along starts October 1st. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here. If you like, add a badge to your blog, or subscribe to the sew-a-long updates via RSS!

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put your hands on the wheel / let the golden age begin

Our lifestyle has changed, and abruptly. Shuddered and jerked into a grinding openness – a carnival ride taking us – where? It is easy to feel unmoored – but writing, and caring for the children, and sewing, has anchored me through larger upheavals and, I trust, will carry me through this.

It’s not just that the new home is a lot nicer than the old. Although this change itself is a little odd as it wasn’t entirely planned. In fact it is dawning on my husband and I each day how much an improvement this home is over our previous rentals. The kids, I think, somehow saw this right away – no one is more thrilled than our eleven year old son, who has given many tours and is so very proud of his new homestead.

I am still getting used to: having a large workspace for my sewing room, that includes a utility sink, its own bathroom, and a washer and dryer. I am still getting used to: having a dishwasher, a garage door with automatic opener, air conditioning, and a sink disposal unit. (I was terrified of two of those – I’ll let you guess which ones!). I am still getting used to: having a separate dining area that isn’t doubling for something else.  I am still getting used to: rooms with a lot of natural light. Even as we put together our situation – our living room is not yet finished, curtains need to be hung throughout the main level, and my kitchen lacks a table – it is clear this home will suit very well.

It is also completely odd to be thrown into a dwelling we can immediately make improvements to – without asking a landlord, or worrying if they’ll say Yes or No, or wondering if they’ll care for the home we live in. We get to care for our home! It is completely strange to live in rooms without a bunch of chipped cheap paint and wonky floor. It is strange to watch my husband – who has always been such a hard worker – complete projects one right after the other, the only limitation being the funds I allocate and whether or not I will cook dinner and care for children while he works.

If this weren’t change enough, I am discovering the pace of unschooling life, now that both kids are eschewing the school life. Today we traveled out of town for furnishings and lunch. We sang aloud, tried new foods together, and shopped for a few extras for the kids. We are sleeping better, eating well, and enjoying our rhythm together. It is a vast improvement over the schedule of last year.

And – I start a job on Monday. A job! This job was phoned TO me, delivered on my doorstep as it were. It has been over a dozen years since I’ve worked for someone besides the family, or myself.

A lot of changes. I don’t at all feel over-excited. But – it is a lot. I have to take it one day, one bit of work, at a time.

“no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company – than a good marriage”

14th Anniversary

Today marked our fourteenth wedding anniversary. And it was a beautiful, lush day, as September often is here.  It’s also a busy time of year – and busier than typical, for us.

I had wondered – as it became obvious our house-buy and move would be right on top of both “the first day of school” (irrelevant, as homeschoolers) and our anniversary – if our day would get swallowed up. Would we be too tired, or angry with one another, or embroiled in detail, to spend a few hours in appreciation? (No.) Would we make time to gift one another (Yes!) Would we have a lovely evening together (Yes!).

Dinner was lovely – but the drive, and the beach view, were sublime. I am fortunate to live in an absolutely beautiful, remote, idyllic corner of the world. I don’t regret it, not for a moment.

And here’s hoping for many, many more years together as a couple.

14th Anniversary

the day I became an Aberdonian

The day before the move: packed up, and (mostly) ready to go:

The Move
Annnd… we are homeowners!

The Move
A friend asked for a ride on our big day. And like – of course! So she got to share in my little photoblog:

The Move

So… is anything more heartrending than recycling pounds and pounds of paperwork – lovely drawings, journals, and the like? I try to enjoy those moments because – whether you cram all this stuff in a drawer or closet for someone else to deal with, or not – we can’t take any of it with us.

The Move

I wish I liked anything as much as Nels likes our new house. In fact, this morning he told me he thinks he likes it “too much”. Yeah. Yeah, I hear you kid!The Move
It was a beautiful day. Rain-drenched greenery.

The Move
Stacking random packages, teenagers:

The Move
The first residents: my plants. <3

The Move
Feeling left out: Queen Josie:

The Move
Phee texting. And being ethereally beautiful. I forgot to budget for curtains, and the house came with only Walmart bare-bones versions. Thinking these will be our “real” curtains a loonnnnng time!

The Move
We took the jars of coin we’ve saved in the old house, converted to cash, and will now be donating to a homeless project. I’ll keep you updated!

The Move
A simple dinner with the two men who helped us move. Some candelight. xxx ooo

The Move
Cats came over later. Pip was a little clingy. 

The Move
It’s been a great deal of work, but it has gone well so far. With some weirdness – I was charged for, and delivered, TWO king-size mattresses. AND I had a fraudulent charge – almost $600 – on our main checking card! I caught that, and corrected it, right away. But it has been a juggle outfitting the new home and keeping our financial picture afloat. 

We are having a great time. We are out of funds. I am almost out of energy, for a thousand and one reasons.

But we’re still laughing, and enjoying this time special together.