Thursday, September 7, 2017

First day of Class (Picnic).


Hello everyone! I skipped August on this blog! Ugh! I've been having some issues with sew-jo lately, with too many WIPs and a fabric stash that is weighing me down instead of inspiring me. It's no good when your hobby becomes an obligation, know what I mean? And the hot weather definitely hasn't helped. I am trying to get back into it, knock off some of those WIPs, and get my inspiration back.

Although I haven't been sewing as much, it has been a great summer. I've been learning string figures, spending lots of time gardening, and we all really enjoyed the kid's summer break this year.

This blouse has been a long time in the making, at least mentally. I've wanted to make another gingham Class Picnic blouse for Maggie for a couple of years. I've made her three Class Picnic blouses over the years, and two of them were gingham, also with piping (here and here - look at baby Maggie!). This pattern SCREAMS to be made in gingham, I say. I picked up this lovely, very lightweight cotton gingham a year or so ago, I can't remember where - maybe Britex? It is such lovely, soft stuff. I'm sure I had this blouse in mind.

But I've also been plotting something else for several years - a gingham blouse with chicken scratch embroidery. Chicken scratch is a type of embroidery that is traditionally worked over gingham. It's also called gingham lace because, when it's worked in all white, it looks very lacy. I got totally obsessed with chicken scratch a year or two ago; I'm not sure what started it, but it took over my apron and handwork Pinterest boards! Chicken scratch was popular during the Depression and the 40s, and was frequently used to decorate gingham aprons. It is a counted-stitched embroidery (like cross stitch), worked over the natural grid formed by yarn-dyed gingham.

My specific inspiration for this blouse was this gorgeous Class Picnic blouse made by Spicy Jellybean Kids (check out her blog! it doesn't seem to be kept up, but her sewing is gorgeous! ETA: Find her at @spicyjellybeankids on IG!) I've been thinking about that blouse for a long time!


I chose a different design for Maggie's blouse: pink and green flowers over a field of white "stars." I copied the pattern from this pin, and I knew the pink flowers would help Maggie to accept the non-pinkness of the fabric. The stars actually hold the flowers. This is a really fun (and fast!) type of embroidery to stitch, and the embroidery took a leisurely day or two to work. I applied some woven interfacing to the back of the embroidery in hopes that it would make it a little sturdier, and the white piping further stabilizes the yoke. My experience with the Class Picnic blouse is that the front neckline can get saggy because it's partially on the bias (worse if you put the actual yoke fabric on the bias, as I did with my prior gingham Class Picnic blouses. A little bit of piping and perhaps a woven lining or twill tape stabilizes that gentle curve.


This is a size 3T, with no changes or alterations, on (tiny) five year old Maggie. I like that this top has some extra length and will hopefully fit for a while yet.

The end result is sweet - yes, a bit twee - and I love it! The great thing about the Class Picnic is that it's really a sweet little peasant top, but with just a little bit of structure. It is one of my favorite Oliver + S patterns, for sure.


With the pattern out, I couldn't resist tracing and cutting out some Class Picnic shorts to coordinate. I've seen several versions of these on blogs and Instagram this summer in all one fabric, and I was reminded how much I love this pattern. So I quickly whipped up a pair in Robert Kaufman union chambray. In size 3T, this pattern takes less than a half yard of fabric, I think. I love it!


I added a pink ribbon bow as decoration (again, everything needs some pink!) and to help Maggie tell the front from the back when dressing. Full disclosure: Maggie was initially disappointed that these shorts don't have pockets, but she seems to have gotten over it now.


Maggie started her last year of preschool today and had a great day! Both of my kids are back in school now, but I refuse to let go of summer until at least the autumn equinox! My garden is pumping out tomatoes and cucumbers with no end in sight, and September tends to be one of our best months for warm weather. So I predict these warm-weather clothes will get a bit more wear before they're put away for the winter. I hope I can find the time to make her these blouses every year, because I love this pattern!

Are you still sewing summer things? Is your fabric stash getting you down? Dish.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Geranium Expansion Pack.


It's no secret that I love Made By Rae patterns (I have 42 blog posts tagged with Made By Rae!), and the Geranium Dress is one of my absolute favorite girls' patterns, simply because it is so versatile and easy to make up! I've made it a few times (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), ahem, and it never gets old! So when Rae released the Expansion Pack, it was pretty much a done deal for me. Yeah, I could figure out some of those hacks on my own, but why? Plus, sleeves!

It just so happened to be time for me to make a dress for my wonderful, red-headed niece's seventh birthday, so I figured, why not? My sister informed me that Helen has decided she no longer likes pink, preferring blue, and that she is also rejecting "poofy dresses," which is all pretty much music to my ears, since Maggie is still all things pink, bedazzled, and poofy whereas I would love to sew all the raw-edged gray linen dresses (per Shelley's excellent graphic)!

Fun fact: My mother is a true redhead, as is my brother. My dad has brown hair but his sister is a redhead. My sister and I are more brunette (with some red), but the ginger genes are strong, and Helen is carrying on the ginger family tradition! At least one per generation!

I dug into my stash and found this gorgeous moth fabric from Teagan White's Fort Firefly collection with Birch organics. I've had this piece for a long time - I think I bought it with Maggie in mind, but she's never favored it when it came time to choosing fabrics. Helen likes it, though! The moths are a browny-pink, but not PINK, and the background is a lovely muted aqua. I paired this with a glowy-pink/brown chambray, also from my stash, which I bought way too much of at some point in time.



The Geranium dress has many different options, and I chose the cap sleeve and pleated skirt as my starting point for this dress. I knew Helen would like the pockets, and the pleated skirt doesn't have much "poof." The Geranium XP adds a bunch more options, so I went with the peter pan collar, extended bodice, and hem band.

Knowing that my niece is super tall for her age, I made a size six, but lengthened the bodice extra as well as the skirt. Sewing for Helen usually goes like this: I add copious amounts of length to everything and convince myself that the dress will be nearly floor length. Then I put it on Helen and it's already too short. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. So this time I was really generous with added length, adding like six or seven inches total to the pattern, felt very sure that this was going to be looooooooong on her, and it turned out just about right, barely knee length, with no room to grow. Um. She is so tall!


I really could have lengthened the bodice a smidge more, huh? This, despite having my sister send me pretty detailed measurements! Ah well.


This extra long bodice required five pretty brown shell buttons up the back. I finished the inside of the bodice and the inside of the hemband by hand. I also understitched the collar, although the instructions didn't call for it, and used a mallet to flatten the collar join at the front so that the lining wouldn't show, which worked okay. Overall, this was a fast and easy sew. I am looking forward to trying more the XP variations, like sleeves!!


In retrospect, I really wish I had removed that stupid soccer net before taking these photos, but I was rushed as it was during Maggie's birthday party that I finally delivered the dress, and Helen took a while to warm up to the camera. As a result, I have this stupid net in every photo, but at least you can see what the dress looks like! I suppose if I were a wiz in Photoshop, I could remove it (maybe?), but I can barely do basic editing on photos!

Dang, our kids are growing up so fast! Something about those adult teeth coming in (all snaggly!) makes children suddenly look so much older and more grown up. For Helen's birthday, I offered to give her sewing lessons, as she is definitely the crafty sort. We haven't started yet, mostly due to logistics - my sis and I finally found a good time, and then Joe decided to get super sick and we had to cancel! But I am hoping we can start that up soon. She wants to design her own dresses, and patterns like the Geranium make that easy to do!

Do you have a go-to birthday dress pattern? Is there hope that Maggie might decide she likes colors other than pink and purple some day? Discuss!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Maggie Joy turns FIVE!


Maggie turns FIVE on Sunday, people! I KNOW, RIGHT? Wasn't I just posting about being pregnant with her five minutes ago? Time is so weird. SO EFFING WEIRD.

Well, don't worry, I'm not going to get too maudlin about it. I am subsuming my sentimental reactions into sewing, as I am wont to do.

So, okay, baby girl needed a birthday dress, obviously. I have heaps of fabric I bought with Maggie in mind, but most recently, I bought this gorgeous coral/dark pink eyelet at Stone Mountain and Daughter (ironically, this eyelet is shown in the image for "Cotton Eyelets" generally, but no longer available for sale, sorry!) when Maggie and I were shopping for Luna Lapin. Both Maggie and I were all the heart eyes at this color - it's pink! But an interesting, coral pink!

I bought a yard and a third, thinking I could squeak a dress out of that amount, and then it shrank in the wash, so I had more like a yard, probably 48 inches wide? C'est la vie. Luckily Maggie is still a wee lass! She still measures size 3T in most patterns.

I debated a while about what pattern to use. I considered some of the ruffly patterns that recently came out, like the Polina or the Marlowe, both of which I bought right away and can't wait to make, but the Polina's frills are cut in a spiral (like the Geranium dress shoulder ruffles, totally awesome, but not good for using a straight grain eyelet lace edge), and the yardage was a no-go for the Marlowe. So I decided to dig deeper into my stash, to some Oliver + s patterns I owned but had never tried. And that's when I decided to try the Croquet Dress. This pattern calls for one and a quarter yards for this view, but I had a suspicion that I could work it out, cutting everything on the cross grain, and without hems for the sleeves and skirt, and I was right!



This is the sweetest pattern! What took me so long??! It's the perfect little Edwardian dress for a little girl! Nostalgic, old fashioned, and lovely. I can't wait to make it again, maybe in seersucker? It is so pretty! Hashtag #alltheEdwardiandresses (You can also make a pretty blouse from this pattern, btw.) In eyelet, it's everything I adore about A Room With a View minus the constraints of Edwardian social mores.

It took some ninja layout skills, but I managed to cut this dress out from a mere yard and change. The bias waistband had to be pieced, but because I lined the dress, I did not have to cut out shoulder strap or yoke facings. Heck, I even managed a matching dress for bunny! YAY!!!

I cut this out in size 3T, with a bit of extra length (which is easy to do when you're dealing with eyelet and not planning to hem - just put the bottom of the skirt on the lace scallops!). The length is perfect, but it is actually a bit big in terms of shoulder width? Next time I make this (new fave!), I'll take it in across the chest an inch or so. It's totally wearable as-is, but there's a little extra fabric across the front that you can see below.

I lined this dress in raspberry/pinky red cotton voile, also from Stone Mountain. It was the perfect lining for this fabric - lighter colors looked awful, but darker colors (purple) showed through the fabric. This lining deepens the intensity of the pink eyelet in the best way. The sleeves are the only part of the dress I left unlined.


Lining this dress increased the complexity of construction a tiny bit, but even so, it was such an easy make! After working on several projects for myself (blog post pending!), this felt SOOOOO easy and fast! As usual with Oliver + S patterns, the instructions were excellent.

One little snag - because this dress is in eyelet, and so is the bias waistband casing, white elastic showed horribly through the fabric. I solved this by running pink satin ribbon along with the elastic, to cover the white. This worked well, although it made the waistband a bit bulky and quite "firm" as Nicole would say. Which then aggravated another issue - with this one lovely keyhole opening with button in the back, it's not the easiest dress to get on and take off - and my "firm" waistband worsens that quite a bit. It's a bit of a struggle, honestly, but thankfully Maggie loves pink party dresses so much she will tolerate that (no comment). For my next version, do you have any suggestions for making it easier to get in and out of? More buttons? A back button placket? Let me know!




This was my first thread loop, amazingly. See, I always pick up new skills from O+S patterns, even old ones that are really easy!

Maggie Joy was pretty happy with her birthday dress. She was even happier to learn that I had made Luna a matching dress!!! When I was Maggie's age, I went bonkers for that sort of thing as well, so I was only too delighted to make that happen for Mags. (Plus, bunny clothes making is my new obsession! Because FUN!) This combo was an early birthday present for Mags-a-licious and I'm so glad she likes it, even if, frankly, neither her dress or bunny's is that easy to get on and off!! Ha!


I know you're all dying to know the deets on the bunny outfit. One of the patterns in the Luna Lapin book is a cute lace tank top. I used that for the bodice of the dress and then winged a gathered skirt. After all my ninja cutting for Maggie's dress, I did not have enough scalloped lace to do Luna's skirt, so it's just hemmed, but both dresses have the same raspberry voile lining.

Five does seem like a momentous age, even though we've decided to keep Maggie in preschool another year, so she'll be six when she starts kindergarten. Her teacher feels like she could develop more in social confidence, plus she's teeny-weeny. And public kindergarten is a lot more academic (and, ahem, less fun) than it used to be, at least in my 'hood, so I am in no rush to push Maggie into that environment. We're super blessed to have a fantastic (and affordable) preschool and a loving and supportive preschool community that we've been involved in since Joe started right after Maggie was born, so that helps too. But still, five is a biggie.

At any rate, Maggie is the most super delightful kid ever! (Except when you try to feed her, but that's a story for another day - this kid is a PICKY EATER, all caps.) She's sensitive, perceptive, creative, artistic, a great sewing partner, and funny as all get out! She and Joe really, truly, dote on each other. From toddlerhood, it was obvious to us that Maggie appreciates and accommodates Joe as much as the reverse. It's wonderful to see, and I'm so lucky to be the mama of the two best kids ever!! (Not at all biased.) Margaret Joy, you truly live up to your middle name! Happy birthday, baby girl!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Luna Lapin: A Bunny for my Maggie Bunny.

Meet Ms. Luna Lapin,  a "quiet and kind rabbit with impeccable taste." Maggie and I discovered her through this lovely book, which I grabbed on impulse when I was browsing the local bookstore on my lunch break. This is a British book, with full size patterns for the bunny and her extensive wardrobe (and brother's wardrobe), included. Luna Lapin seems to have a bit of a following in the UK, based on my google search results, although I had never heard of her until I saw the book.

Maggie was immediately captured by this book, which provides a sweet narrative for Luna as well as lots of pretty pictures of Luna in her many dresses and adorable accessories and immediately started planning for her own Luna.


She selected a snowy white wool felt for Luna's body, and we selected a pretty Liberty print for Luna's ears and the pads of her feet. Maggie preferred the look of small safety eyes to the buttons used for Luna's eyes in the book, and I found a soft browny-pink for her nose.


Luna is partially sewn by machine, and partially by hand, using regular polyester sewing thread. She has moveable arms, with buttons used as joints, and a separate bottom piece that allows her to sit well. It took me a couple nights to finish her body, with Maggie acting as a tireless and relentless taskmaster. Then it was time to work on her wardrobe!


Luna's first outfit is a simple shift dress with neck bow, with mary janes and a lace shrug. She has cute knickers underneath.



 We chose a cute Cotton & Steel Lucky Strikes print for the dress and swiss dot for the undies. Maggie and I made a special trip to Stonemountain & Daughter to source bunny supplies, including lace for the shrug, tiny bunny buttons and snaps for the back of the dress, and lace to trim the knickers. Maggie charmed everyone in the store with her cute self and her bunny!


So I know that the sewing blogosphere is alive with adult underwear sewing, but I'm here to tell you that sewing bunny knickers is THE MOST FUN THING EVER. Seriously. Maggie was especially delighted with the little rose, which I found in my prodigious stash. Note for next time: Cut a slit for the bunny tail.


The book calls for a yard of scalloped lace to make the shrug, but it would be a terrible waste, since the pattern only uses the edge. Instead, we were able to make the shrug from 3/4 yard of a 5" wide, scalloped on both sides, lace trim. The pattern for this was pleasingly origami-like and fun to sew! I used a narrow zig zag to sew the lace seams, and based on how hard it was to seamrip one seam I did by mistake, I'm going to to say that it's very sturdy!


 Aren't the shoes adorable? They call for little miniature buckles, but I used small buttons instead. Ridiculously cute.


 I am happy to say that Luna is a well-loved member of the clan. She is a happy bunny, as far as I can see!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Me Made May 2017.


Well, I did it again, folks! I participated in Me Made May and posted pictures of my outfits (with at least one item I made myself every day, and multiples on many days) on Instagram every day in May. Some of these pictures included beverages (coffee, smoothies, and IPA). Others included stuffed animals when dictated by Joe or Maggie or photo-bombing kids and husbands. Taking daily selfies definitely gets tedious - a good sense of humor really helps!

I'm not going to get too navel-gazing about this process, but I do have some observations.
  1. Prints vs. Solids. Styles have changed a bit in the past couple years, and my many printed t-shirts and blouses are starting to feel dated (in addition to worn to shreds). I find myself wanting to wear solid colors (or stripes) more. Maybe it has to do with the sedate (depressed?) mood our country (and world) is in right now, or maybe it's the influence of the many capsule wardrobes the sewing bloggers have been working on lately, but I seem to be embracing the all neutrals minimalist trend. (Let's just pause for a moment to reflect: I have been sewing for myself long enough that some of my me-mades feel outdated!? Yay, me!) Some of my most-worn items this month were the new cream Hemlock tee I just made, my black herringbone Pleated Pencil Skirt, my beloved black and cream striped Mabel, and my cream sleeveless Archer. I have several more neutral or semi-neutral items in the pike. I'll probably look back on this two years from now and think "BORING," but right now, it's what I'm enjoying, you know?
  2. Mustard Yellow. And yet. I made a mustard yellow Mabel Skirt and sleeveless Hemlock tee this month, which I hope to blog soon. I'm taking the position that mustard yellow (or "golden," as my kids call it) is a neutral. 
  3. Business Wear. I wore suits or at least a blazer frequently this past month. With greater responsibilities at work come more formal meeting situations, which means wearing a suit more (blah, I'm not a fan). I knew going into this May that I didn't have enough simple blouses to wear with suits, and in fact that was the biggest struggle. Because I have a large bust, I have historically favored a loose drapey shell under blazers rather than a button-down shirt. The Maya Top is probably my favorite top to wear with suits, although I'd like to branch out a little bit. Recently, I've been noticing some Josephines with released pleats or pleats converted to gathers that look really pretty, and I am considering making one in a very drapey (solid, neutral) fabric. On the other hand, I really like the way my cream Archer shirt looks with suits, and one of the advantages of sewing for yourself is that you can avoid gaping or too-tight button downs. Sewing up more button down blouses to wear with suits is also on my list. 
  4. Casual Wear. I'm doing pretty well with me-made casual weekend clothing. I love my t-shirts and sweatshirts to death. One issue I noticed this month is that I like to sew casual skirts that I don't wear very much, because they aren't formal enough for work, but nor are they ridiculously comfortable and easy to wear, which is a requirement for weekends. Here, I'm talking about my Moss Skirt and Brumby Skirt. I love both these skirts, and I do wear them, but not as much as I would if they were either more work appropriate or more appropriate for actual house and gardening work. For someone else, these would be wardrobe workhorses, but they languish in my closet. On the other hand, t-shirts, and anything with an elastic waist gets worn to death. Lesson? I guess I should embrace my Fred Rogers-esque costume changes and make more pencil skirts and work-appropriate blouses, as well as more t-shirts and elastic waist pants, and less "middle ground" items. 
  5. I still don't wear dresses. I mean, hardly ever. And that's okay. I have a uniform, and it works for me. Separates FOREVER! I'm eyeing my Alder Dress, thinking I might convert it into a blouse. Stay tuned. 
  6. Simple shapes. I do want to keep trying new techniques and more challenging makes, but it should be noted that my most worn me-mades are very simple shapes. These aren't always the most exciting things to sew, but are so very versatile and practical!
The best thing about May Me Made this year was how inspired I was to sew some more clothes for myself! My feed was SUPER INSPIRING, I started following a bunch of new-to-me IG feeds, and I sewed no less than four tops and one skirt this month (and made good progress on a button-down shirt), which is more selfish-sewing than I've done in a year! A huge part of that was the excitement and camaraderie of seeing what all of my sewing friends were wearing this month. To all of you who participated in MMMay17 or liked or commented on my posts this past month - THANK YOU! 

Did you participate in Me Made May? Any big takeaway lessons? 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Selfish Sewing: Three Grainline Tees.


With Me-Made-May upon us once again, I am participating but struggling a bit because I barely sewed for myself at all last year, so most of my me mades are more or less in tatters. One of the purposes of Me Made May is to reveals serious holes in your sewn wardrobe. Well, that's easy for me! I need everything! Ha!

Okay, realistically, I need more blouses to wear under suits, and I need more simple t-shirts.

At the beginning of May, I started scribbling out some plans for selfish sewing, and I've made some progress with those plans, although never as much as I'd like! My plans included several new tops, including some knit tops, all in creams, to help beef up my me-made wardrobe. Thus we meet here, with a (not all that exciting) blog post to share some very neutral t-shirts!



The first t-shirt is a Grainline Hemlock Tee with short sleeves, using a burnout ivory stripe from Stonemountain. This fabric has been in my stash since last summer, yay stash busting!


In addition to the obvious short sleeves, I did a little split hem on this one, following the idea of this tutorial, but with some obvious differences in hem-distance.


This is my third (?) Hemlock tee, and I really love this (free!) pattern. In my experience, Hemlock Tees look great untucked or tucked into a skirt for work. I do always take off a significant amount of length in the body, but I am in love with the neckline (even though it sometimes slides to show bra strap). There's not much to say about this pattern, except that it's dope! Try it out!


Next up, two Grainline Lark Tees! Two V-NECK Lark Tees, actually! I decided to tackle the dreaded v-neck, finally! This was my first time sewing a v-neck t-shirt.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Do not try to do a v-neck for the first time on a striped knit, especially a drapey rayon one like this with tiny stripes as well as normal stripes. BAD IDEA. I had to cut off my first v-neck and try again with a new neckline and even so, it's a tiny bit wonky, which you can see if you zoom in above. But, luckily, not terrible in a normal wearing environment.


This is another Stonemountain fabric, one of those really lovely but really difficult and shifty fabrics. Another problem with v-necks - the Lark tee instructions have you sew the v-neck with your sewing machine. But this is exactly the kid of fluid, grabby, shifty fabric that my sewing machine hates most of all and basically devours. It was pretty impossible. I ended up serging the neckline despite the lack of precision and it's a freaking miracle that I didn't totally butcher it, but the sewing machine was also no bueno.


Which brings us to Lark V-Neck Tee, take two, in a really lovely ivory organic cotton/lycra from Stonemountain. This one has cropped sleeves, perfect for a hot day in the garden. I didn't think I liked cropped sleeves until I made the Lark last year, but this is a GREAT sleeve. 

I thought, after the stripey version, that V-Necks in a solid color - well, that was going to be no problem. Obviously it was the stripes that made it difficult, right? Um. Well, let's just say it also took two tries for this neckline, and it's noticeably lower than the one above because I had to cut off more and improvise a new neckband piece. And the final version is still visibly wonky if you zoom in. UGH!

I've concluded that v-necks are legit hard.


Somehow, this does not reduce my desire for more v-neck Lark tees, though! I am totally feeling the v-neck right now. It's casual and relaxed in exactly the right way, and shows off my necklaces perfectly! I suppose this might be a skill I can develop with practice, right? I mean, there was a time when any knit neckline had me terrified! I can do this. Eventually. Maybe.

Also seen here, my Moji Pants, which I had to literally cut off my leg last summer when I broke my foot (think swollen leg in plaster cast, moji pants digging into said swollen, tender appendage; it had to come off). The shredded, ripped open pants sat in my "to-mend" pile for a year. I was convinced they were toast. I think the fact that they had felt so tight when I had to cut them off made me think they would definitely be too tight when I sewed them back together. With Me-Made-May, I was inspired to tackle my mending pile and simply sewed them back together with scant seam allowances, as best I could. And they are fine! Thank goodness, my normal ankle circumference is less than broken foot proportions, and you'd never even know the difference. Also, thank you past, injured, reasonably stressed out Inder for using a seam ripper to cut the pants off rather than the giant shears. Excellent mending win!

Have you been sewing things for yourself this month, just to provide something to clothe yourself with? Dish!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Crocheted Spring Wreath.

(Sorry if you saw this come up briefly in your feed in draft form! I hit "publish" instead of "save" by mistake!)

Sometimes you just have to drop everything and crochet a big pile of flowers, ya know?


I have a subscription to Mollie Makes magazine, and follow their blog and Instagram feed. It's a British crafty magazine with a fun, retro-inspired, colorful aesthetic, which I discovered through their excellent books (crochet, patchwork, embroidery). Each magazine comes with a little kit that you can make, and there are often softies and other kid-oriented projects. Maggie enjoys looking through each new issue as much as I do! It was because of Mollie Makes that I discovered and started following Crochet by Red Agape's blog and instafeed as well.

In late March, Mollie Makes and Crochet by Red Agape released, day by day, free patterns for the flowers to make this crocheted spring wreath. Each pattern was only available for download for 24 hours. After six days, if you kept up, you would have everything you needed to make the whole wreath.

This came at the perfect time for me. Work was seriously stressful there for a couple months. I do realize that being a lawyer is an intrinsically high-conflict job, but that's why I became a transactional lawyer, right? I am a peacemaker and compromise-broker at heart, and when the conflict and negativity gets really intense (as does happen sometimes in local government!), it gets me down! I needed a fun distraction. After making mini-wardrobes for the kids, I was feeling a bit burned out on garment sewing. Crocheting keeps my hands occupied while watching television and relaxing, and these flowers are very portable and quick to finish. The wreath is one of those lovely, campy, fun things that serves absolutely no practical purpose and is therefore the perfect antidote to a stressful month!



Each day of the series, I looked forward to reading the next blog installment and downloading my pattern. I went to Michael's and stocked up on cheap Lily Sugar & Cream yarn. This is a chunkier yarn than what is recommended for this pattern, and gave my flowers an especially chunky, homely look, but it worked. I had to vary the colors a little but that was actually fun. It does tend to snag and split a lot while you're working with, though. Since then, I purchased some of the DMC Paintbox Yarn that is recommended, and I must say it's a lot nicer and easier to work with! But alas, it's not available at Michael's!

Naturally, it took me a lot more than six days to make this wreath! It actually took me almost a month of crocheting in free moments to finish it! With a big push, I finished it just in time for Easter.


The pattern is no longer available for free, but you can purchase it here, on Ravelry.

The flowers are affixed to a foam wreath that is covered in single crochet. You basically crochet a scarf-like object and then sew it onto the wreath. The first wreath I bought was immediately snapped in two by my kids, who I think were pretending it was an inner tube? After that I guarded the second one much more closely!

As you can imagine, with this many small pieces and different colors, weaving in all the ends took almost as long as the crocheting!

Maggie loved working on this project with me, and (in addition to assisting in the destruction of a foam wreath) periodically helped me to categorize and count leaves and flowers. She made several of the pom-poms (with my help) and she helped me arrange the flowers on the wreath when everything was ready to go. I think I've shared that Maggie spends most of her time at our play-based preschool in the art room, making things? That one takes after her mother! I am happy for her - a passion for creating is a wonderful blessing in life!

But both kids were completely taken by the little bees, which were my first foray into the world of arumigumi-style crochet. I have promised to make them a couple of bees just to play with! I think the bees are what first drew me to this fantastic pattern, and they are indeed adorable! I ended up affixing the flowers and bees to the wreath with florist's pins (you could also sew or glue the flowers in place), and the black pearl pins were perfect for bee eyes!


In addition to being fun and relaxing, this is a great learning project for a beginning crocheter. I learned a lot of new stitches and techniques and improved my basic understanding of how crochet works, in really easy and manageable chunks. If you can make a granny square and read a basic crochet pattern (warning: the pattern is in UK terminology, so I had to adjust to that and look up terms as appropriate), you can make this wreath. I promise!


This was a really FUN project, and I was super delighted with the final product, homely and camp though it may be! I'm not going to try to pretend that this is tasteful or low-key or minimalist: it is none of those things, but what it is is exuberantly happy! This was such a joy to work on and put together, and provided a soothing and joyful distraction during a pretty heavy-duty month for me!


Lately, with renewed interest in "mindfulness," I'm seeing lots of craft books with titles like "Crochet Therapy," and "Crafting for Mindfulness," or whatever. It's like people are just now discovering that crafting is a soothing, sanity-saving activity and that it promotes good mental health! I'd like to think I was hip to that trend before it was even a trend, right? Ha! So, I'm happy to say that work has calmed down a bit since March (knock on wood), but if you ever feel really stressed out, may I suggest making something lovely, fun, and completely useless? It really is the best form of stress relief.