Made Stuff Monday 5 – First Communion necklace

A testament to the spring and summer we had, this was a mostly completed draft that I never ended up publishing… So, enjoy a totally out of season First Communion post!

Well it is truly Spring now and the weather is delightful! We’ve been having regular after school lunch picnics in this lovely natural playground between school and home. IMG_20180419_134826126

Trees, a small creek, happy kids (not shown are a stepping stone bridge, a wooden bridge a tunnel and a zipline!) They could probably just play and explore here all day… Which means, I have time to stitch! I got some really delightful Dandelyne mini-hoops for Christmas and have been hoarding them. Do you ever get that way with really wonderful supplies? They are just too lovely to use! Anyway, a sweet family from our church invited us to their daughter’s First Communion party and I figured it was an appropriately lovely occasion to pull out one of the mini hoops.


So here we are, stitching in the wild! When I say tiny, I mean it. I based the design on this beautiful Prayer Book cover by Mary Corbett, obviously reducing the amount of detail enormously.


Complete! Still wet from removing the marker. Can I mention how lovely water soluble pens are? Total game changer when I found out about those… Especially as my sketching tends to be messy at best and then used as a general guideline for stitching, rather than a carefully followed pattern.


And here it is! In all it’s completed necklace-ified glory! I added a single pearl, referencing the Pearl of Great Price (pictured here, in French!). I was horribly nervous about how it would be received, but the girl loved it, and so did everyone she showed it off to. I usually just make things for my immediate family, so it was really a lovely feeling to contribute something to someone else’s special day. And of course, the lovely thing about a handmade, slow stitched gift is that it provides an opportunity to pray for the person you are gifting it to. Here’s to a lovely continuation of her faith journey for our little friend!


Do you make things for others? What do you think about when you’re stitching? 

Babies and blog breaks

Oh hello there, blog thing. One of my latest makes was met with a “That’s cute, maybe you should blog about it.” Apparently 8+ years of marriage has made us better at communicating because I distinctly remember these types of remarks causing major blow ups in our early years… So huzzah for growth! And for gentle reminders from mostly monosyllabic males.

Speaking of growth… There’s a new wind blowing around here. Little Chinook was born mid June and he’s been making everything a bit more complicated and a LOT more delightful, as babies are wont to do.



The cuteness! The messy hair! The terrible photo quality! Part of the Great Blog Stall of Spring/Summer 2018 is the fact that my beloved Canon is refusing to turn on…. and I just haven’t had a chance to have it fixed.

Another, rather large part, has been my health – the  previously alluded to bronchitis took a toll and a really long time to recover fully from. I was finally finding my feet (and my voice, and a rhythm that worked) when the baby was born. Now that I’m almost 3 months post-partum things are starting to make a bit more sense again. That 4th trimester is no joke!

The last, and exciting, thing that’s been keeping me off blogging is just a question of seasons of creativity. I took advantage of a free Craftsy Unlimited (now Bluprint, I think?) trial during the kids’ spring break. Watching a few sewing class tutorials jump-started a season of intense learning and seeking to improve my garment sewing skills. This was further pushed along by a flurry of sewing blog reading, sewist instagram following, discovery of several indie pattern companies, and MORE sewing blog reading during the hazy first weeks post-partum where all I want to do is sit, read and nurse the baby. (Pour la petite histoire, as we say in French, I read Lawrence in Arabia after Sirrocco’s birth, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and a few other foodie books after Mistral’s.) The upshot of all of this is that I’ve completed 5 Oliver+S garments, 2 Brindille&Twig as well as a few other things, in the last 2 months.

We’ve done lots of consuming and are back to creating, baby! (I feel like this is something that Tsh Oxenrider talks about a lot… I like the idea. For instance, I’m sitting here and writing this BEFORE getting on Insta this morning, since I want to get it done!) And part of creating is writing about it, because I like writing. I don’t really miss much from high school, and even University, but one thing I do miss is how I was surrounded by other writers. (C, R, since you claim to read this page, I’m looking at you! And many others…) Blogging is not quite the short stories my friends wrote, or the poetry that I wrote, but it’s putting down thoughts in words, and it feels right.


Written anything lately? I’d love to read it. 


Made Stuff Tuesday (again) 4 – Colour blocked sweater dress

This little dress was a morning sew with a toddler wandering around! So, fast and easy! The pattern is B3772 from Butterick’s (aptly named) 6 Sew Fast & Easy collection – see what I did there?


The only changes I made were to switch the buttons and buttonholes so that it buttons top over bottom and to cut two pieces for front and back (adding a seam allowance) instead of cutting on the fold. The front facing is one piece but the back is also split because I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make it in one piece. You may recognize the pink and orange from the 80s throwback sweater… The red is from another thrifted sweater picked up at the same time. Like in the previous project I had fun making the most of original details. The front pink panel is fussy cut to include the cute little embroidered Cupid. The buttons are also thrifted – there’s a couple enormous button bins at our local shop that the kids love digging through for treasures, and these fit the mood of this dress like a charm! I did the buttonholes by hand with some bright orange DMC embroidery thread, mainly because I didn’t feel like figuring out the buttonhole settings on my new machine – hah! Handmade buttonholes are really not that bad if you only have a few and  you want them to make a statement anyway.

I would include a nice picture of Mistral wearing the dress… but I don’t have one. Mainly because as soon as it’s on her she’s all:


I had a lot of fun making this and it’s a nice weight to either wear by itself or throw on as a an extra layer over a lighter outfit. She’ll hopefully get a few seasons of wear out of it too – there’s a bit of extra length on the straps to move the buttons up (hence the swap from the original) and the A-line shape is quite roomy so it should work nicely as a tunic as well!

I’ve got a few projects finished up and photographed to share so hopefully I can do write ups and have them posted on time in the next few weeks! Today though, I need to figure out some sort of mostly orange outfit more Mistral to wear on Koningsdag (I made Sirrocco’s yesterday!)

What have you been making lately?



Friendship and conversation

Last Thursday was a good day for conversations – online and off. After several weeks of sickness in the house and similar stories in my friends’ houses I managed to catch up with one friend for morning coffee and another one for afternoon coffee on the same day! On top of that, Annie of Possum Cottage started an interesting conversation about intentional living and defining their lifestyle over on her Instagram. This got me thinking about who are friends are, and why we’re friends.

My two friends are, like me, mothers and married to academics. They’ve both been in this particular town longer than we have, but we share a history of moving around with funding and contracts and ending up in places we didn’t necessarily expect. We’re navigating raising small children without family nearby, in a culture and language that is not our own. Our best common language is English, but our kids are more comfortable in other languages (Dutch with one family, French with the other). We swap parenting advice and are alternately amused and baffled at what our friends back home, from here  and living abroad do differently. (How much outdoor time small children need daily is both baffling and amusing in terms of difference. From EXTREMELY high priority in Finland, diminishing through Canada, Poland, Germany and finally apparently “not really a thing” here in the Netherlands.)

Much as I really resisted the idea of living in a little “expat bubble” before moving here I am finding it really has its advantages. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Finding community is difficult, and while I’ve met some lovely people with common interests over the years I think in many ways finding people you can converse with make better friends.

Many of my friends my age are young scientists or artists building their careers. I have no interest in that for myself but I see their struggle to succeed in something they are passionate about and it’s so close to my heart because that’s where Kyle is at too. And it’s so fascinating to hear about their research, their art, their process. How they find and generate ideas, where they look for inspiration, what their hobbies are and how these different things feed off of each other, inspire each other.

Most of my “mom-friends” are actually a bit older than I am, though we didn’t have our first particularly young. I don’t know if it’s just a question of the communities we’ve lived in, or of who I happen to get talking to (though it probably has something to do with the fact that I was drawn to the quiet confidence of experienced moms of multiple/older children when I had my first – I had enough anxiety without having a bunch more first time moms panicking over small things around me…). Many of these friends have jobs outside the home too – which I don’t and don’t have much interest for either, honestly. It’s often a bit awkward – the whole “what do you do?” question is not a favourite. Of course, we talk about our kids and that is an inexhaustible topic, but the friends – not acquaintances, despite some being very friendly – are the ones where we talk about other things, about travel, about books, about our past and our future and our theories on how the world works. They are – most importantly – the ones who will turn to their children and say “Just a moment, Mommy’s talking right now.”

I think it’s starting to hit me t in spite of being very good at seeing the differences in age, stage, interests etc within my set of friends I’ve overlooked something important. I’ve often felt lucky to have so many creative, bright people as friends – that there were always such interesting people to talk to everywhere I went. I think there might be a reason for that. That maybe, just maybe, in spite of having a dusty degree and having retired from my official career, I might be one of them too.


Made Stuff Monday (or, you know, Tuesday) 3 – Flannel doily skirt

I am back from the depths of bronchitis~ Huzzah!

I actually managed to get a few things done, but no good photos. (oops) Shortened a couple pairs of pants into shorts for Sirocco (come on SPRING!!) and finally fixed a dress of mine that had torn last summer and gotten shoved away in the packing frenzy.

This project was completed a few weeks ago and I have pictures – so we’ll talk about that instead.


I was inspired by Nell of Whole Parenting Family’s wonderful line of flannel and lace skirts and since I had a few pairs of  Kyle’s old torn pyjama pants I figured I would give the idea a try. I looked around my stash and didn’t find any bits of lace long enough to trim the skirt, which put me off the idea briefly, but then I found a pile of old doilies and had a vague recollection of a dress with a doily appliqué on it… (Probably from Carefree Clothes for Girls?)

So here you go: elastic waistband, nice deep hem allowance for a bit of flare, carefully matching the plaid at the side seams and hand sewing the carefully cut out centre of a large doily. It’s pretty cute, if I do say so myself!

Mistral loves it – I’m told it’s her Sun Skirt, and it does twirl quite satisfyingly. A nice, easy to wear skirt for a young adventurer.


Have a blessed Holy Week! 


Made Stuff Monday 2 – Pace of Nature Embroidery

Remember how last weekend I got all productive since the big kid was sick? Yeah…. The little one was sick this week and it was a different story. She basically morphed into a 12 kilo newborn, refusing to sleep except on me and only drinking liquids. Needless to say she got wrapped a bunch and I sat on the sofa with her a lot. (And of course now I’m sick, surprise!)


These unfortunate circumstances haven’t quite killed the maker spirit though. It turns out embroidery really is the best hobby for a mom of little kids, because it’s basically the only thing that got done this week besides feeding people.


I’ve been working on this piece (pattern by ThreadFolk ) on and off for a few months now. It really didn’t take all that many hours of stitching honestly (I think? I have no idea… I didn’t count. Maybe next time). And has a really gorgeous colour palette.


I had a lot of fun working it, and it gave me ample opportunity to practice my backstitch, french knots and satin stitch (all of which have honestly improved over the course of this project – definite win!).

I will say though, that before starting another project I will source some better fabric. I really mostly wanted to do this one as a learning project, and decided that the ivory poly-cotton blend I had lying around in my sewing room would be fine, but I think it made my life more difficult in the sewing and doesn’t really enhance the overall look of the stitching now that it’s done. After doing some reading (on Needle n Thread, the most wonderful online source of information on all things embroidery!) I’ve found that some of the thread fuzziness I’ve been experiencing is probably due to the use of a too-tight woven polyester. Natural fibers are just friendlier to each other. Lesson learned!


Anyway, that’s it for now, back to resting for me! Are you crafting anything fun these days?


Made Stuff Monday 1 – 90s throwback Sweater


This is a series to keep track of the stuff I make! Not necessarily on Mondays, but I guess it’s nice to pick a day to talk about it, so here we are – I am thinking I’ll throw a few tutorials around, but mostly this is just detailed notes on process, materials, and trying stuff in a general way.

As much as I don’t actually *like* it when the kids are sick – obviously, it’s no fun for them, and I sympathize – being stuck at home with a 4 (and A HALF, Maman!) year old who is spending the day sleeping off a fever and watching The Wind in the Willows can be a great boost to one’s productivity! I got some lovely simple bunting done for the kids’ room and also – THE SWEATER. More on that.


Sirocco has been growing at an alarming rate lately – shirts that where way too big when he started school mid November fit just right, none of his pants need the hems rolled up and the new sweater I bought him in September is definitely too small, as is his favourite hoodie. This last being of course an issue of major concern. The boy has always had opinions on his wardrobe and is not a fan of outgrowing his favourites. What with the Atelier (our little grown up haven of creativity – more on that later!) being all set up and having gotten the hang of my new sewing machine with a few quick projects for his sister I figured I could probably make him something. Add to that, that our local library allows me to check out sewing magazines with the patterns in them – it was a no-brainer to dig through a couple of back issues of Knippie and find something suitable. The next issue of course was fabric.


I’ve never actually sewn sweatshirt material and didn’t have any in my stash – which skews a bit girly and/or flannel-y for this project. Fabric shopping is a vast and complex sea of options, but local stores here have a fairly limited selection and ordering fabric is expensive (shipping costs are the bane of my creativity) and a bit dicey if you don’t know the quality of the product you are ordering. My solution? A trip to the thrift store! The pattern requires 3 different fabrics so we (of course Sirocco came with me – last weekend before the fever – to pick his colours!) searched the men’s and women’s sections for good sized sweaters in coordinating fabrics of similar weight. 15€ (and a long look through the enormous bin of buttons) later we were all set with a sorbet orange with a cool anchor with a crown logo on the back, a soft heathered pink and an over-dyed indigo. The boy’s colour sense makes his painter Dad proud, what can I say?


In my spare moments of the last week I disassembled the sweaters, traced and cut out the pattern in the correct size (122/sz 7 but *apparently* he’s right on average on the growth chart…). Saturday I took a deep breath, and cut the fabric. I largely ignored the actual directions in the magazine – in all honesty, mostly because they were in Dutch and I had no idea what they were saying. Also because the construction was basically that of basic a “peasant top” 4 rectangles, chop the top corners to make rectangles into irregular hexagons, attach all 4 at the neck, sew the side seams, boom. done. Because jersey doesn’t fray, I took some shortcuts with the piecing of the cutouts – added a bit of seam allowance on the under pieces, none on the top pieces and basically just appliquéed them with a double row of stitching. I also cheated with the hem and arm bands and stitched them as part of the length of the fabric, directly in the side seam, rather than making loops and applying them to the completed body. It loses a bit of the gathering effect this way, but was quick, looks nice and does not affect fit.


The sewing went fairly smoothly, other than some initial trouble with skipped threads in the testing phase – switching to a smaller needle proved an easy and effective solution – until I broke it with one side seam and a collar to go… and had no more jersey needles in that size. The larger needle seemed to work fine to finish off though – so I’m not quite sure what the problem was initially. Otherwise, just the usual – running out of bobbin thread just before the end of the project, re-threading 5 times before thinking of re-threading the afore mentioned bobbin, realizing that in my rush to finish I had put it in backwards – good thing I have this hobby to help me relax, right?


The end result though, is stunning, though I say so myself! And of course, he loves it. And was quite pleased that it had “rose” in it for Laetare Sunday yesterday! I think he’s planning on wearing it every day forever though, which might be a problem if I ever want to wash it…