This morning I did some more sewing on the new dress that I’ve been very excited about. I’ve been feeling very orangey-turquoisey-brown lately, and this dress is just the thing to welcome spring. Over the past week I have rearranged the furniture in my living room into a slightly unusual layout. The large low room is now a work room, with tables and horizontal surfaces in the center of the room. The sofa is now unobtrusively up against the front window whereas before it dominated the room and divided it horizontally into task areas. It has become a place to lay out fabric, or to briefly rest while talking on the telephone or having a coffee.

The television is in its own little corner with a rug and a chair. I’m going to make a stack of floor cushions and a basket in which to toss them when not being used – so excited about the fabric pattern and color possibilities! I’ve been enjoying my busy, productive mornings sewing in my new workspace. The room has become very conducive to working.

I spent the afternoon with Emily and Matilda, and then Tallulah also. While still at Johnny’s of Carrboro getting our afterschool snack, Matilda struck up a girl talk conversation with Emily and me. The topic was “how to tell a boy you like him.” I self-deprecatingly described my own poor track record in that field, and Emily tried to be be helpful, with her amazing and genuine intuitiveness. It was an adorable conversation. That’s when I realized what the name of my new dress was going to be. Every dress has a name.

We came home, still with a few hours of golden sunshine remaining in the day. I cleared a path deeper into the thicket of bamboo and wisteria, metal loppers in hand, slogging through in my rubber galoshes and red plaid skirt, gathering dust and insects and god knows what in my hair.

The girls used the bamboo to reconstruct their settlement in my front yard. I’m very impressed by the clearly delineated structures and areas they built with bamboo poles, wood stakes, cardboard trays of pinecones and stones, and stacks of windfallen branches.

Late winter has arrived, and it’s such an exciting time, when the days between cold snaps stretch longer in number. Some days are sweater weather days, and the sun shines, and the air is filled with energy. This year’s blooming and greening is about to begin!

And then at night I shiver in my absurdly orange cashmere sweater and nubby wool hat before curling into the feather duvet and warm quilts for my night’s rest.


No idleness here

September 3, 2010

Nearing the end of Matilda's quilt

So, I’m still unemployable and still living month to month, but I’ve been keeping busy.

Matilda’s quilt continues onward. Twenty-four blocks for a twin-sized quilt for my daughter were machine-pieced, the quilt sandwich was made with lovely cotton batting, and I have quilted by hand 18 of the 24 blocks. I am keeping an eye on fabric sales online to pick up some yardage for the binding which will finish it off.

I have been combing through my belongings and selling them on Ebay. I have also been making things and listing them on Etsy. A shelf behind my couch serves as my staging point for weighing, listing, packaging.

Staging point for ebay and etsy sales

Sewing nook


One corner of the living room serves as my sewing spot. It”s all there, sewing machine, ironing board, iron, yardstick, pitcher for pouring water into the iron, various scissors, cutting mat, a self-made pattern, pink wicker shelves for notions and pretty things. And of course part of my vintage handbag collection. Everything is there except, of course, for the fabric, which is mounting higher and higher in my hall closet and spilling over into stacks in boxes and flat surfaces throughout the house.

Pillowcases and fabric scraps

No longer just a closet, now a fabric closet

Dress #6 and Dress #5

August blouse #1, detail

The sewing keeps me busy, and, by extension, sane.

I have been working all summer on a pattern for My Perfect Dress that will fit my body just right. I finally got it with Dress #5 and Dress #6.

Now I’m taking the pattern-making and machine-sewing skills I have learned from dressmaking, and I’m beginning to sew a line of blouses, in sizes XS all the way to XL. The blouses are vintage-inspired, often using vintage fabric, with 3/4 sleeves, simple accents at collars and cuffs, simple lines, simple to wear. I find that the best way to get good at making something is to make the same thing over and over again. Any boredom arising from this practice is reduced by choosing different fabrics along the way for each one. I taught myself how to knit hats without a pattern with this method a few years back.

£50.00 at Oli