Tag Archives: mamablog

Sewn: Pioneer Girl Outfit

My daughter’s new school doesn’t exactly celebrate Halloween; instead, kids come dressed up as a historical figure of their choosing and share information about that person. It’s a little bit of dress up, a little bit of research, a little bit of sharing information with the younger kids. My daughter decided she wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. We’ve read the series of books, as well as some biographies (and yes, we’ve discussed the problematic depictions of Native Americans in the books and how, exactly, did the white “settlers” end up there anyway). I’d originally offered to sew her an outfit, then school let us know we weren’t supposed to sew or buy, and the kids were to assemble their own costumes. I passed that on to G, who asked her teacher, who said if parents wanted to sew, it was fine, they just didn’t want anyone to feel pressured. Oh.

G, of course, was sure I absolutely wanted to sew her a pioneer outfit and wouldn’t feel pressured at all. And you know what? I kind of did want to sew her an outfit, despite the other projects and deadlines that got crunched as a result. I remember wanting to be like Laura when I was my daughter’s age. So I found a pattern at Joann’s (McCall’s 7231) and we went to our local quilt store, which has a selection of 19th century prints (apparently Civil War quilts are a thing, I’m not really sure), and she chose the fabric.

Pioneer girl outfit at amyhoodarts.com

I’m a bit in love with this outfit. And despite the short time frame (I think it was 10 days from buying the pattern to having it complete), it all went well. My skills have grown tremendously as I’ve sewn for her, and so has my confidence. I looked over the pattern in the store and saw nothing I hadn’t encountered before–facings, gathering, ruffles, buttonholes, I’ve gained confidence in them all. I remember the first items I ever sewed from a pattern, pajama pants for my boys (right before G was born). I knew nothing. I didn’t even know about finishing seams, and the pattern didn’t tell me to! I have learned so, so much, by doing, and especially by taking on things that were a stretch.

Pioneer girl outfit at amyhoodarts.com

I love the pinafore. I want one in my size! And the bonnet has a bow at the back, although it’s hard to see. The pattern is a size 7-8, but my 8yo is a peanut. It’s a little roomy on her, and I shortened both the dress and the pinafore, but it should still fit her for a good long time. If I were her, I’d be tempted to wear this every day, and string buttons, and make maple sugar candy, and practice my sewing while I dreamed about horses and let my bonnet slip down so the sun hit my face, even if Ma scolded me.

Sewn: After-School Pants

after-school pants at amyhoodarts.com

I usually sew my daughter leggings, but occasionally she wants to wear a shirt and pants without a skirt, so I picked up the Oliver + S After-School Pants pattern. I thought a lightweight corduroy would work nicely, and G picked out the fabric, which is very her. What I like most about this pattern is the details. (It’s designed to have some contrast fabric, but while G likes contrast within her fabric choices and her outfits, she doesn’t seem to like it within the items themselves, so we skipped that.)

after-school pants at amyhoodarts.com

This is a close-up of the back pocket and the back ruffle. Because of course you can add ruffles to this pattern. That back pocket–it’s just too cute.

after-school pants at amyhoodarts.com

The front pocket has a ruffle too. If you were using contrast fabric, it would peek out from the front pockets too.

after-school pants at amyhoodarts.com

I love the detail on the back. It looks like a pair of jeans.

after-school pants at amyhoodarts.com

I sewed a size 7 for my almost-eight-year-old daughter and still had lots of length in the legs. I didn’t want to cut any off, so I folded it this way and that and made a cuff on the outside of the leg. It adds some weight to the bottom and hopefully I can let it down later if necessary. Plus it just looks cute.

I don’t have a photo of her actually wearing them because it’s getting into the 70s today. She wept. I told her to wear them anyway, but my girl who wears shorts when it’s 60 knew in her bones she’d be hot if she did, so she had to buck up and wear something else I’ve sewn for her (a dress and shorts) rather than the latest thing I’ve sewn for her. Oh, the challenges.

A Bit About Running

700km-badge

I promise I’ll explain what this means

I began running again a little over three years ago. I’d run cross country in junior high and part of high school, and then stopped. I started again about twenty-five years later shortly after being diagnosed with PTSD. I’d been walking every morning I could, before anyone else woke up–I wasn’t sleeping anyway–and it helped. But at some point I felt like I wasn’t moving fast enough to shut up my brain, so I began to run. It was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made.

Living in Rhode Island, my running ebbed and flowed with daylight. My kids were younger, I was homeschooling, and I didn’t feel comfortable, most of the time, leaving them home alone while I ran. So when we got to the point of the year when the sun set too early and rose too late for me to fit in daylight runs, they slowed. I’d try to get to the indoor track. But most of my miles were concentrated from April to October. Plus, my shins can get tricky. They need a break, especially my left one. There’s no sense in pushing it; I need to run regularly more than I need to run far.

I run for the love of it, mainly. I don’t like to race. I tried a couple, as an adult, but I really don’t like running with people. At all. I even get a little cranky when I come upon group runs (rather common in Annapolis) because they clump up and block the sidewalks and I can’t get by and it aggravates me. I don’t want to run with a friend, either, even though there are other runners in my neighborhood. I don’t want to talk. Running shuts up my brain like nothing else and what a relief that is, what a wonderful, wonderful thing. So it’s good I like to do it physically as well, because I need it.

And I do like it physically. Sometimes it feels awful, sure, especially, here in Maryland, in August. While I theoretically gain the ability to run outdoors most of the year, summer is pretty miserable. Not just the heat and humidity but the dew point, too. I’d try to run in the evening, when the temperature might be higher than first thing in the morning, but the humidity was a little lower. I’ve gradually adjusted. But running can be hard. It’s not all fun. But when it feels easy, it’s the most wonderful thing. It’s–it’s running flow, I guess. Everything works fluidly. I push my body, and it responds. My head clears, my body feels better, my emotions are more level.

I run with a Garmin watch and upload my runs into Map My Run. Because while I don’t like to race, I am competitive, I’m just competitive with myself. I like to keep track of how far I’m running too, as much as to make sure I don’t overdo it because of those shins. At the end of last year, I got one of Map My Run’s many emails, this one advertising a challenge, You vs The Year. The goal was 1000 km (about 600 miles) run in 2016. I’d never run that many miles in one year: between keeping my runs relatively short (shins again) and weather issues, it has just never added up to 600 miles. My neighbor across the street runs marathons and runs probably 80 miles per week. 1000 km in a year is probably an easy goal for her. But it was a stretch for me, so I decided to sign up to see what happened.

I got started later in the year than I meant to, because my shins were hurting so badly, not from running, but from wearing shoes with no support every day. (Chuck Taylors. I have flat feet. It’s a bad combination.) That badge up there means I hit 700 km last week. It means I’m on track, even accounting for the things that often crop up in fall–getting sick, too many days taken up with kid events, and so on. I usually run five miles at a time now, whereas I began in the spring running three to three and a half. Running just a little bit longer means those times of flow come more frequently. I don’t think my shins can handle long distances, but sometimes I feel like I just want to run forever.

Running is a constant backdrop in my life even though I don’t mention it here much. It’s part of what makes me feel like myself. It’s hugely important for my mental health. It gets priority; I plan it into my week to make sure I’m getting enough runs in. I figure if I’m lucky enough to have identified something that helps me so much, body and mind, it’s essential to make sure it’s part of my life. I am incredibly grateful for running.

Back-to-School Sewing

Sewing for my daughter is a joy. I have improved my skills so much thanks to the patterns we’ve chosen. Most of her back-to-school clothes were sewn by me, with a few more things (leggings and pants) not started yet because it’s still so warm here. So here we go:

roller-skate-dress-no-1

Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

I actually bought this pattern last summer and never got to it. It’s awfully cute. The fabric was bought locally on sale.

Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

It’s such a cute pattern, she wanted two. She picked this fabric out online.

Seashore Sundress, pattern by Oliver + S

Seashore Sundress, pattern by Oliver + S

Again, since it’s still so warm, a sundress is perfect back-to-school wear. She picked this Lizzy House fabric out online too. This photo only shows the back, but the straps button in the front. I can now do buttonholes like nobody’s business and I wonder why they ever stressed me out so much.

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

She saw this fabric (Butterfly Box by Lizzy House) online and asked for a skirt. We settled on the A-line skirt pattern in the Great British Sewing Bee book From Stitch to Style.  This one has a faux button band down the front and an adjustable waist with buttonhole elastic (and two more buttonhole slits in the waistband–no problem!). It looks like a big-girl skirt. So I made another.

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

I won this fabric from Ellen Baker in an Instagram giveaway and G asked for it. It’s double gauze and so, so soft. I left out the faux button band on this one.

A few things I made, I only have Instagram photos for, because I deleted some pictures when I switched phones. My son asked for a new, bigger pencil case. My daughter needed a placemat for school, so I made one with utensil slots that rolled up neatly. And I made her some reusable snack bags with food-grade laminate.

It’s so much fun to sew a bespoke wardrobe for an almost-eight-year-old!

August Reading List

Comp book cover. Sewing pattern by Angela Bowman, surface design all me

Recently sewn: Comp book cover. Sewing pattern by Angela Bowman, surface design all me

This post is a little later than I meant, seeing as how we’re somehow already halfway through September. I did slightly better with my attention reading span in August, reading six books:

The Things We Wish Were True, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Truly Madly Guilty, Lynne Moriarity
Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander *
All American Boys, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely *
Relativity, Antonia Hayes

As usual, I’ve starred some. The New Jim Crow wasn’t what I’d call enjoyable to read, because of the subject matter. I’ve starred it because it’s such a worthwhile read. I thought I knew about systemic racism, but I learned so much more from this book. And I suspect my reading of Another Brooklyn suffered because the e-book I downloaded seemed to be cut off in parts when I tried to read it in my phone browser, and the overall result was choppy. I usually borrow books in the Kindle format but it wasn’t available yet. I probably won’t try that again.

June + July Reading List

I'd rather be here than in Maryland.

I’d rather be here than in Maryland.

June and July’s books-read list is short, comparatively. I’m not enjoying summer in Maryland. Actually, I kind of hate it. I thought it might be better than last summer seeing as how we had time to line up a few activities and we know our way around better. It’s not. It’s disgustingly hot, so awful that for a stretch there my always-outside younger two kids couldn’t handle it. There is no beach. Nature is far away. I’m sick of suburbia, I miss the ocean and my yard in Rhode Island so much it hurts. Who knew you could miss land that much? I used to love summer. We had our favorite places–not just the beach, but other spots near the water, rocky shore with tide pools, aquarium and seaport, picnics and parks. You could do things outside, most of the summer, except for a couple really sultry weeks in August, but even then, you could gather up the kids after dinner for a sunset walk along the shore, where the air was cooler and the breeze tasted of salt. I didn’t take it for granted when I had it, but that didn’t stop me from losing it anyway. I knew I was really lucky to live in a place I loved so much–and it was the nature, absolutely, that rooted me in Rhode Island, not family (which has scattered) or friends (ditto). It was the way I could always find happiness in my natural surroundings. Summer filled me up.

Here, summer is wearying. It’s hot. We don’t get out enough. We’re fractious. I’m tired. We all sneeze and are congested a lot. My attention span is pitiful. All this is to say, this is all I read in June and July. I abandoned many, many books partway through because they couldn’t keep my interest (they’re not listed). I flip through magazines. I lay on my bed a lot, under the ceiling fan, kind of worn out and sad and homesick.

Anyway, here’s the list. Ones I especially liked are starred.

June

Don’t Be A Jerk & Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master, by Brad Warner * (mostly read in May)
We’re All Damaged, by Matthew Norman*
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman*
Miller’s Valley, by Anna Quindlen
The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Raising Demons, by Shirley Jackson

July

The Trials of Apollo, by Rick Riordan
I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson*
Wait Till Next Year, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God, by Alom Shaha*

Art Quiltlet: 25/52

Home? art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

This week marks one year in Annapolis for us. But a big part of my heart is missing New England and in particular, my little patch of backyard nature and the proximity to the ocean. I have neither here. I knew I would miss it a lot but I think I still managed to underestimate how much. This week’s quiltlet incorporates paper maps and reflects my homesickness. This time of year the whip-poor-will in our backyard would be calling out every night at 9pm; barred owls would be having midnight conferences; the towhee’s song would light up my days, and the veery’s warbling downhill melody would signal dusk. Wood thrushes and warblers, salamanders and snakes, peepers at the pond. Favorite beaches only minutes away, with salt ponds full of fish, crabs, and jellies; days spent playing in saltwater and mud. I am sad. I miss it all.

I don’t hate it here, but I don’t love it either. It just is. There are certainly more opportunities here than in Rhode Island, for all of us. There were things we had to adjust to, things that needed to be changed (my daughter’s school, for one), definitely things that give me pause, but also things to be grateful for, like neighbors who can watch children in a pinch, and whom I can help as well.  When people ask if I like it here, I simply say, Some things are better, some are worse, and some things are just plain perplexing, and I’m sure that’s true of everywhere.

Experiments

I’m trying to work on something every day, and one day last week I was at a loss, so I just started stitching fabric together. A whole bunch of blues, because I somehow have more blue fabric than any other color. Not surprisingly, it began to remind me of the ocean. I experimented with free-motion stitching on just the fabric (versus a “quilt sandwich” of fabric, batting, and backing) to see what happened. It puckers the fabric a bit more, is what, even if you’re careful. So it gets texture-y. I added some paint after carving a quick wave-like stamp. I decided it needed a girl doing a cartwheel. She was happy to be back at the beach.

She missed the ocean at amyhoodarts.com

“She missed the ocean”

It might be a little bit busy… and you can see how the fabric doesn’t lay completely flat. Do I like that? Or do I mind that? I’m deciding. I’m experimenting. I stitched some words, too.

She missed the ocean, detail. amyhoodarts.com

I really liked this cartwheel girl.

She missed the ocean, detail, amyhoodarts.com

I wondered what she’d look like cropped all the way down so she was the main focus, so I made another, smaller, piece, this time in a meadow full of flowers.

JOY at amyhoodarts.com

“JOY”

This one is only about 4×6″.  And while I typically like to work, then crop down, next time I’m using French knots I’ll crop first, then add the French knots, just because they get in the way a little bit on the edges. Ah, but check out her hair! All of it, really–I like it a lot. Doing creates ideas and those ideas create more ideas. There is always something new to try when I’m feeling a little stuck.

Art Quiltlet: 22/52

locust art quilt at amyhoodarts.com

I’m feeling a little uninspired this week. I spent all last week taking care of a sick child, day and night, which reminded me why I had my babies early (goodness, I’m too old for sleep deprivation and full-time on-call duties). This culminated in a visit to the ER Friday night (a previous visit to the pediatrician being, ultimately, unhelpful) followed by an early morning car maintenance appointment on Saturday that had already been rescheduled once, so I got up and went. For part of the three-and-a-half hours that I was waiting, I sketched the leaves of the tree I was sitting under (thankfully I could wait outside, as it’s finally stopped raining every day). I’m pretty sure it was some sort of locust, although not having the entire tree in front of me anymore, I’m not sure what kind. So when I decided to practice my free-motion script along with free-motion sketch, I just wrote locust.

Sometimes when you are very tired and worn out, simple is best. So this week’s quiltlet, reflecting the energy drain that was last week, is simple.

My daughter is better now, and that exhausting month of May is over. June holds the end of school, a graduation, a dance recital, and two weeks of getting the eldest to his summer bridge program. But in between I hope to find some days to do absolutely nothing.

May Reading List

How to Treat Your Mom at amyhoodarts.com

Part of my daughter’s Mother’s Day gift to me.

May has been long. And tiring. And full of Mondays. But here we are on the very last day, school is almost over, my middle child has turned twelve, and here are the books I finished in May.

As Close to Us as Breathing, Elizabeth Poliner
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers, Leonard Koren
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, James McBride
Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World, Susan Silverman
The Mistress’s Daughter, A. M. Homes
Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout