Minimalist lust

I go through bursts of enthusiasm for different things; new ideas take over and I obsess about them, search them out, read blogs, forage through Pinterest, create new boards, collect ideas until I somehow, some way, satiate that desire and it gently tapers off. Though I have many of these idea bursts going on concurrently I find they all last different intervals and some seem to just while away as life marches on, ebbing and flowing and not really knocking off. 

So it is with minimalism. 

Whenever I develop one of these new obsessions I, at some point, dig into why I want so very badly to know all that I can lay my eyes and hands upon about it. Frequently it is the need for newness, for stimulation and inspiration. And sometimes it is more about a desperate desire for control and calm in my life. Minimalism calls to this ongoing, burning exploration of what I have made of my life and what I really want from it. I am drawn to the perceived simplicity, the financial freedom, the clean homes, streamlined wardrobes... but I sew. And I love antiques. And I have no control over the material-loving hearts of my family. 

I lust for a tiny house with streamlined belongings, roaming wherever we choose to go. Parking in Julia's future neighborhood for extended visits while we snowbird our retirement away. More travel, more family, less house cleaning, less cold weather trapping us indoors. I daydream about capsule wardrobes and how to fulfill my maker heart while also cutting out my over-productive, stuff-creation down. 

How is it that learning and experiencing, for creators and makers, must be so stuff-intensive? What can we do to reduce our consumption, our impact and still unwrap the boundless joy of making and creativity? 

Time for a change

It's been a while and as the summer kicks into high gear I am dusting off and shaking out my site. It's a time for change! More changes to the blog and site coming soon but in the mean time...

We live in a neighborhood in NE Minneapolis that has been under substantial construction this summer. The streets have been torn up, sidewalks blasted apart, intersections an explosion of rules and expectations. 

the chaos in progress

the chaos in progress

One night, the gas meter man came knocking. On our window. During dinner. It was time to move our gas meter outside of the house. And time to pack up my sewing space to make room for the work to happen. 

Travesty? No! Opportunity! I've been wanting to have 360 access to my main cutting table for some time now. Now's the time to re-assess my needs to space, storage, access to electricity. My arrangments of resources. I also have a few challenges to contend with. Here's one, her name's Olive. 

this is Olive

this is Olive

I'm looking for inspiration. For ideas. For help. My alloted sewing space measures about 7' x 10'. A blessedly fixed and permanent space I can use as I see fit. What are your must-haves? What are the things you hate the most in a craft space? The hunt is on!


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The pendulum swing of minimalism?

"I cannot control anything outside myself."
-Jon Jandai

I've been thinking a lot about minimalism. In style, in food, in life, in my home. The urge to purge is strong with this one. I cannot control the possessions of my family. I cannot control the environment and utilization of space and resources in my work office. I can control my own belongings, my personal spaces at home and at work.

I love small spaces. Efficient design. Paired down and focused collections of needed things.

I do not love cleaning, de-cluttering and having to pick up every day. I do not like chores, crowded surfaces, closets and messy spaces.

I am inspired by popular TED talks, books and blogs on reducing, de-cluttering, having and buying only what you need and love, what is beautiful and brings you joy. I listen to talks about living in smaller spaces, reducing the amount of space you need, the money it takes to maintain it, how living smaller means reducing stress, being more free.

I cannot help but feel like I am riding an emotional pendulum and the swing is bound to reverse. I start having visions of Bladerunner, Fifth Element, Ready Player One and other crowded visions of the future. I see humans packed in side by side, having less but somehow, somehow, consuming more. Being more. Taking up more space, creating more humans, tipping the ecological scales toward ruination with sheer volume, mass, hoards.

And I wonder, when will the minimalist trend slip from lofty goal (freedom, space, health, opportunity) to opportunity for condensed consumption (sardine living, destroyed ecology, fewer opportunities, overwhelming choice)?

Do you ever... just try it?

Sewing takes a lot of planning. If you don't know your order of operations ahead of time it's hard to make a beautiful, well-constructed garment, regardless of style. Working with a new pattern, for me, regularly requires pattern adjustments and muslins. As much as I love sewing I sometimes get stumped and lose motivation when those challenges stand between me and making a garment I want to wear.

My Pinterest boards are full of ideas for now and future garments. Lately I've been crushing on Eileen Fisher and minimalist style garments.I think a lot of it has to do with the season. Wearing fitted bodices makes me want a wardrobe change before I've even come home from work. I've been craving more A-line and cocoon like silhouettes. 

The silhouettes are clean and easy to wear. Looking ahead to winter I see them as great layering pieces with leggings and tights. And man-o-man are they quick to sew up! All of which has led me to crave details. Elegant solutions to necessary design features.

Clockwise from the top left: my favorite keyhole back I've seen, from Straight Stitch Designs, apron-style pockets insets at the waist instead of the side seam from Sew Different's coccon jacket tutorial, a bib front and cuffed sleeve on Merchant & Mills The Dress Shirt and a last, a popover placket tutorial from Craftsy. Incorporating details like these into my tried-and-true patterns gives me a chance expand my skill set with a little bit of a safety net.

This weekend I worked through 3 separate dresses, a bodice muslin and a pair of knickers. Yay holiday weekend sewing! I'm slowly whittling away at my mental to-do list, which seems to grow at the same rate that I knock things off!

One of my favorite makes of the weekend is this simple, black twill  t-shirt dress. I used my TNT t-shirt pattern a while ago to start experimenting with a-line silhouettes and t-shirt dress shapes. Now it was time to try some new things. I worked in the popover placket and apron-style pockets at the waist line. For both I followed the direction pretty closely of the above mentioned tutorials.

The pockets were so easy and satisfying! The assembly is essentially the same as any in-seam pocket construction. I serged all of my edges before assembling and sewing together was a breeze.

The placket was one of those things that made not a lot of sense while looking at the tutorial but I had a feeling would be easy to follow along and learn by doing. So easy! I would make the tail a bit longer next time so that I might make a neater, prettier tab at the end.

I can't wait to make this same configuration in another color, maybe a print! Such a good opportunity for color blocking! Or a contrast pocket lining. Or a contrasting/complementing placket. Excited to try it all again soon!

Getting Engaged, what a trip

In November I experienced the fascinating transition from living-together-couple status to engaged couple status. The proposal itself was pretty low-key. I had an inkling of what was coming when Mike asked to borrow some money and didn’t want to pony up any of the reasons. He finally spit something out about working with my mom on something followed by a quick, “Now don’t ask any more questions!” On the night of the proposal he asked me to make dinner for him (he does most of the cooking in our house) and we were having a nice time sitting together when he got up and shuffled around in his messenger bag. He came back to the table with a goofy look on his face and I made some lascivious comment about getting to touch him now and he said, “Nope, now it’s time for you to say yes or no!”

We spent the evening sucking on cough drops (both of us were under the weather) and giggling and poking each other and day dreaming about what we wanted our wedding to look like. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing and saying, “You want to marry me!” Much joy and giddiness. As we daydreamed I learned that there is no end to getting to know someone. I wanted a small wedding, he wanted big. I wanted no bridal party, he wanted us to have a bunch of folks stand up with us. He wants a tux. I don’t want to wear white. On and on. Some things were surprises and some I expected. It was fascinating to hear about these things since we’d really not talked about any of it before. I asked him why that was and he replied, “You can’t give all of your cards away, you’ve gotta play some of them close to the chest.” What a funny response and what an accurate portrayal of parts of our relationship. I don’t know that we will ever know everything about each other but I look forward to learning as much as we can.

The best part of all of it? We get to be funny old people together! Almost immediately I wanted to start calling him my husband but first we have a few things to take care of. Like deciding who to tell first, and how. And we get to plan this big party.

One our watercolor rainbow splash invites. These were a lot of fun to plan and design!

As joyous as our engagement is, it comes with the necessity to share our news sensitively. Mike was married before and J’s mom will always be part of  our life. I’ve invested a lot in having a good relationship with her. As we discussed sharing news of our engagement J’s mom was second on the list. (J was first!) We didn’t want her finding out from our kid or on some social media site. Mike shared our news and once we knew that she knew we were able to share with the rest of our family. Like my mom.

As it turns out, I hardly needed to tell my mom. I learned that my mom and Mike worked together to have my ring made. My mom lives in NJ, we’re in MN. When Mike asked about any family rings my mom offered up the stones from a ring that my father had given her. The ring was a gift purchased when my dad won a pretty penny in the lottery. Having something sentimental is bigger for me than anything. My mom has a jeweler friend who helped turn the old ring into a new one with all three of them in cahoots unbeknownst to be. When I called my mom the day after the proposal she heaved a huge sigh of relief. She’d sent the ring via certified mail and Mike had been so full of nerves waiting for it to arrive that he couldn’t wait to give it to me, thus the casual at-home proposal. We talked a lot about how sneaky they’d been.

I sent a picture to my best friend with the question, “Want to go for a manicure tomorrow?” and the rest we mostly let happen as people “noticed” things. I look forward to sharing some of the oddness that is being an engaged couple. Like how everyone wants to know about the ring and how big it is. Or how much you plan to spend on the wedding. Or the questions, the constant questions, about what the wedding will be like. What about the marriage? The wedding is a day, a big party and a lot of money. With the wonderful goal and result of actually being married. When I’ll be able to actually call him my husband. And in the words of our kiddo, “Now you’ll be my real stepmom!”

Closet cleaning when you live la vida handmade

I feel a nearly unending desire to create. I draw, paint, organize, fabric shop, garment doodle, project plan and dream. I am a prolific sewist. I can create a new dress in a day, sometimes two and frequently have multiple projects in works. My to-do list is long and purposeful. At some point... my closet simply cannot keep up. 

My closet is packed to the gills. If I want to keep making, some things must go. I feel peculiar about simply donating my dresses to charity and thrift shops. As a plus-size sewist I know that my creations are a rarity. As a vintage-loving lady I know that thrift shops are where plus-size clothing goes to die. I don't want my dresses to die. And so, I consign, I sell and I instagram. 

This summer I also had the chance to participate in a vintage yardsale with a host of other vintage-loving Minnesota folks. I confess I was nervous about including my dresses. I felt very confident of bringing my hats, purses, jewelry and fabric. I felt confident that the pieces I loved so much and that had such size-neutral appeal would go quickly. I felt unsure that any fat woman would come to the sale. I felt unsure that any fat woman would be as large as I feel. I was shocked. 

I mocked up my sale table and felt great about my presentation. I am organized and have an eye for style. I have a good sense of space, composition and balance. I balanced out my rack of me-made garments with some amazing Lilly Pullitzer dresses I had found for a steal...

And here is how the day went: I sold a couple of hats. No bags. A little fabric. No jewelry. I sold HALF of my own dresses. I sold none of the true vintage clothing I'd brought. I was stunned. And tickled. One of the women who tried on my dresses came back from the dressing room with a dress clutched to her chest. I smiled and asked how it went? She smiled a timid smile and nearly whispered, "It fit perfectly..." Like the truth was delicate and fragile and speaking any louder would break the words and make them untrue.

Hearing that and seeing women try my clothing on made me feel like I was filling a void; I made them feel pretty, included, attractive and special. They found things there were special, that fit, that stood out from the oversized prints, patterns and shapes of modern plus-sized clothing. It made me want to go home and keep sewing. 

Joining Bloglovin'! and what's up with this lady?

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Have you tried Bloglovin? Tons of my favorite bloggers are on there and I was pondering how to get myself more motivated to blog again and thought, I should throw myself in the ring! So, I have. New post coming later this evening!

Tonight's post will share some of the things that have filled the last few months: my engagement, a few of my friends beautiful babies, teaching and learning to make my wedding dress!

More soon!

Creativity, Time Management and Making Time

Have you seen any of the articles talking about the glorification of being busy? That we've evolved to the point of busy-ness ruling our lives and somehow, without feeling overwhelmed we simply aren't doing enough? Here are a few thoughts about reframing the idea of busy and how it applies to creativity. 

1. We make time for what we love. 

It's true. We really do. I live far away from my parents, cousins, aunts and uncles and when the opportunity comes up to see them, celebrate with them, I rearrange other things to make it happen. Last New Year's my uncle had a layover in the MSP airport for a couple of hours. I was thrilled to move meetings and pay for parking and take the time to drive to and from the airport in holiday traffic so I could see someone in my family. 

With Creative endeavors, it is much the same. I love sewing. I love painting. I love drawing. At the end of my days, after we put the kiddo to bed and the dishes are done... I will sew, paint, draw, write. Because these things that we love, they are rejuvenating. Watching TV and turning my brain off doesn't make me feel refreshed. Sewing in a bodice lining and listening to some Netflix in the background moves my brain from the tasks and hub-bub of the day into flexible, excited spaces. For me, sewing is Zen time.  

  Working through the details of a bodice I'd never tried before. Now one of my favorite dresses!


Working through the details of a bodice I'd never tried before. Now one of my favorite dresses!

2.How long does it take you to...? (aka, more reasons we tell our selves we can't instead of we can!)

Nothing happens quickly except regret. Skills take time to learn and I enjoy learning. I like investing the time to learn. To practice. With more skills and more experience I earn some speed. Inevitably, though, I want to learn something else and this slows me down again. As much as I want to wear that new dress, use that new bag, send that new sketch to a friend, the time I take to make something is part of the goal. I want to be making. I also want to be enjoying. Making things regularly means getting to have both; I can wear a dress I've made and paint a new postcard. 

Pattern drafting and selfless sewing and my relationship and painting and, and, and...

Pattern drafting and selfless sewing and my relationship and painting and, and, and...

3. Isn't it expensive to...?

Sure, sometimes. Do you know where your money goes? Are you using your money to serve your desires? Or are you letting yourself desire money? I spend less on making a dress than I used to going out for a night of dancing. I spend less painting a stack of postcards than a week of Starbucks lattes. I spend less making my own clothes than I used to spend buying clothes that I never wore and ended up donating before I cut the tags off. 

And you know what? I like going out dancing. I like getting a coffee with a friend. I love shopping. I know that if I spend on one thing I have less to spend on another so I find I am constantly investing in my longer term happiness. Isn't that how everyone thinks of their fabric and notions stash?

  I love a sale! I picked up these patterns for $1 a piece on sale. I try my very best not to buy patterns at full price and keep a running list of the ones I have my eye on so I can scoop them up when a sale descends.


I love a sale! I picked up these patterns for $1 a piece on sale. I try my very best not to buy patterns at full price and keep a running list of the ones I have my eye on so I can scoop them up when a sale descends.

4. How do you stop/put it down/get other things done?

I would love to say it's easy to juggle the dishes and laundry and kids and money, my dayjob, my relationship... We all know it's a lot of work. I also know that I am more of my best self when I do things for myself. I am happier and more relaxed. I am less likely to spazz out about how clean the kitchen is or when my kid yells at me. I need the me-time to be better at we-time. 

I also need sleep. I make better decisions when I've had enough sleep, my craftsmanship is stronger, I take better care of my tools and materials. I am a better partner when I've had enough sleep. So even when I am deep in the thick of something I know, from experience, it's better to put it down, hit the hay for the night or even just take a break and do something else for a bit. 

4. a) Because what happens when I don't stop/put it down/get other things done?

I break stuff. I bust needles, spill water, blotch paint, feel achey when I have to get up on too few hours of sleep. My fridge stays empty, I argue with my partner, we rush to get chores done and don't want to talk to each other. Sounds fun, right?

Instead I make sure I get some me-time, a little sewing, get the dishes put away and GO TO BED. I didn't finish that last line of stitching? That's cool, I'll get it tomorrow and it'll make the end of that project a breeze. Didn't pull ALL the dishes away? That's cool, too, the dishwasher got emptied and we have plenty to make dinner with. Give yourself a break, not all of life is a deadline. Love yourself and get some sleep.

  Case in point. I'm not sure how I managed it but I zig-zagged through every hole on my pin and made a new one, too! This is one of those times you put the piece down, get a glass of water, turn in for the night or whatever is right at the time. This was easy enough to fix but I knew I needed to look my machine over, too before I kept going. Best done with fresh eyes!


Case in point. I'm not sure how I managed it but I zig-zagged through every hole on my pin and made a new one, too! This is one of those times you put the piece down, get a glass of water, turn in for the night or whatever is right at the time. This was easy enough to fix but I knew I needed to look my machine over, too before I kept going. Best done with fresh eyes!

Making things happen.

It's been a pretty exciting week! Our business cards came, we've had a few enquiries for future lessons and we've gotten a whole heap of views from out event announcement on Facebook! Today I spoke with one of the folks at Studio for Hire and I am spending tonight working on booking out our events for August and September. 


  1. Mending and Hand-Stitching social- an evening of casual sewing, asking questions and, of course, wine! 
  2. Sewing Machine 101- we'll make a small sampler of stitches to show off what your machine can do, talk through the most common presser feet and when to use them as well as learn how to insert a zipper!
  3. Reading and Using Patterns- bring a pattern to learn about or work with one of our favorites. We'll cover taking measurements, how to pick your fabric and initial pattern adjustments. Learn how to trace off a pattern to customize it to your needs and preserve your originals.

*Happy dance!*

Sometimes I want a sweet.

Often, after lunch, I desperately want a donut. A piece of cake. A crunchy cookie with just the right balance of crisp salty bite and sweet, gooey center... Alas, I musn't eat cookies and cake at every hour of every day. So, sometimes when the fever strikes I look for delicious-looking things that are, in fact, not edible and totally enjoyable on their own.  Happy perusing.

Marimekko fabric cakes!

Looks good enough to eat, though eating it might not bode so well. A painting, not real fruit!

Looks good enough to eat, though eating it might not bode so well. A painting, not real fruit!