a sweet little summer sewing session or two for you

Kristin has been an enabler --ahem-- encourager this week when it comes to sewing. She's on some kind of inspired tear, whipping up absolutely adorable baby jumpers at lightning fast speed. She inspired me to buy this pattern bundle so we'd have Geranium dresses and tops in every size. I haven't sewn a stitch yet:-). So, Kristin is sharing her stuff with you this week:

I fell off the sewing wagon. Not regretful. Sewing is a hobby that doesn’t really do much for me, except spend extra money with pattern and fabric purchases. Not very often do I come across a trustworthy pattern and fabric without coughing up extra cash. My sewing skills do make small tailoring jobs, like hemming and mending maintainable without paying a tailor, so that's definitely a plus to this hobby. And I'm 5 feet tall. I do a lot of hemming on my Singer. But when I come across a great free pattern, I have to jump at the opportunity. Sorbetto2

The Sorbetto pattern is FREE from Colette Patterns and very, very easy to sew. I've been sewing sweet little things for my sweet little baby recently. Stitching together baby dresses is my favorite way to spend a rainy summer afternoon. Once you start sewing little dresses, why on earth would you sit through the cutting and bored-to-tears seams of a full scale, adult pattern?

Well because it’s for you, of course. You need nice, handmade things too, ya know. And after you try the Sorbetto pattern, this book from Colette is full of other easy and quick patterns for you.

Sorbetto3 {Please excuse the bathroom selfie. My camera guy was at his day job.} The Sorbetto is a really versatile pattern. There’s room for a pleat and I inverted it here which created a roomy waistline. Who doesn’t enjoy a roomy waistline? But I will warn you. That pleat, although forgiving in theory, makes for a very specific drape. A good medium weight, with a nice drape will do. Otherwise a lighter fabric, sewn this way, will make this top a tent. Now, onto this book... SewingBook Do you ever come across a sewing pattern who talks way too fast? You read the directions twice in your heard, twice out loud and you're still staring at a half-sewn blouse thinking, wait.. what did you just tell me to do? This book has all of the answers. All of them. It's like the encyclopedia of sewing. For me, this book has saved raglan sleeves and dart adjustments. It even has a reference section for types of fabric and thread. For anyone who wants to learn, it has projects in the back specifically designed for teaching techniques. Just by chance, I've been sewing more than I usually do so Elizabeth has offered a spot for me here at Needle & ThREAD. I'm so overjoyed to be here and I can't wait to share more with you! I'll be checking back, and I'd love to know more about your summer sewing projects.

needle & thREAD

The first summer sewing project is for Sarah. She has chosen fabric for a Popover Sundress (free pattern) and a reversible bucket hat (also a free pattern). I got it all cut out yesterday (when Kristin was around to snap some pictures) and it's nearly finished this morning. The fabric she chose for her bucket hat is brilliant. She's got an eye for coordinating across lines; the bucket hat will go with this new dress and that one Karoline wore three years ago. Smart girl! I should have them both finished this afternoon. Check Instagram (heartofmyhome) to keep me accountable, please and thank you.

One of my (many) summer resolutions is to be screen-free after sunset. My brain needs a significant amount of time to "un-wire." Also, we all know there are reams of research reports on the detrimental effects of screens before bedtime. Towards the goals of better sleep and more peaceful repose, I'm settling in with something light before bed--at least for the next three months. Habit, then? One can only hope.

I'm reading The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: a memoir of friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book. Sounds pretty perfect, right? A rural setting, stories of good people, and, well, the uncommon pleasure of a good book. I love stories about bookstores! Have I ever mentioned that my favorite movie is You've Got Mail? (Incidentally, people tell me all the time that my husband looks like Tom Hanks. Joe Fox/Mike Foss---I'm just looking for the right bookstore...) Anyhoo, this one is a good one. The author, Wendy Welch, and her husband leave high-powered job and take a chance on a bookstore in a small, Appalachian coal town. They filled a  ramshackle Edwardian house with 38,000 used books and then they fostered community in, about, and beyond the books.  So far, I'm thoroughly enjoying warm stories of good Virginia people and the quiet dreams and tenacity of a couple in love.

What are you stitching and reading these days? We are especially looking for some happy, light read suggestions for bedtime. What's your favorite?

needle & thREAD


Yay! needle & thREAD! I'm so happy to be back here taking about reading and sewing. Even more, I so glad to have had the chance to do a lot of reading and even a bit of sewing.

First the books. Gosh, Where to begin? Let me scroll through my Audible account. 

Better than Before: I've listened to this one multiple times and I have it in hardcover, too, because I'm talking with friends about it.. Gretchen Rubin, who is a huge favorite of mine, does it again with this one. It took me about a chapter to fall into rhythm with her again, but after that--pure inspiration. She's so smart and so sensible and this one is a well-researched book about habit forming. She doesn't dictate which habits are the ones you need. She doesn't even offer a one-size-fits all habit-forming formula. Instead, she helps the reader identify what they want or need to change in order to be better than before, and then she offers an array of tools for getting there.

In the fiction department, I love The Rosie Project. Just such a clever and funny story about a professor with Aspberger's syndrome and his quest to find a wife. It's tender and funny and very light. Perfect for summer.

I also listened to Max Lucado's adult fiction, Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe is the story of Chelsea Chambers, mom of 2 who has just separated very publicly from her NFL superstar husband. Despite some heavy topics, the story is light reading, if that makes sense. It reminded me a bit of Frank Peretti's novels,  (which are riveting and memorable), though not nearly so dark. I cared about the characters and enjoyed the read. Easy, breezy. 

Let's see, lots of spiritual reading lately, too. I was on a bit of a Peter Kreeft re-reading binge and read again Making Sense Out of Suffering and You Can Understand the Bible. I used the latter one extensively with my highschoolers this spring. No home should be without that book. Peter Kreeft is a favorite. Much like C. S. Lewis, I think everyone should read everything he's written. I'm not kidding.

That's enough reporting for this week. 

Glass water bottle is here . Yes, I love it! I've dropped it on tile floors three times--no breaks. And it is most definitely encouraging my water habit.

Glass water bottle is here. Yes, I love it! I've dropped it on tile floors three times--no breaks. And it is most definitely encouraging my water habit.

I did a very little bit of sewing (aside from never-ending costume fixes). Kristin stitched most of an adorable bucket hat for Lucy. She got to the very end--the part with hand stitching--and I had this feeling that if I didn't sit and strike the pose of a grandma with needle and thread we might not see that hat on her sweet head any time soon. This is sure to make my best sewing buddy Nicole raise her eyebrow. I'm quick to jam almost everything under a machine needle just to avoid hand sewing. It's not that I don't like it. It's that I don't trust it to hold. In this case, there was no way around it, except to blindstich--all the way 'round.  And I did. And it's absolutely darling on her sweet head. Sarah has requested one for herself with a matching sundress. We're cutting this morning.

There's a free pattern here for the bucket hat. It comes from Little Things to Sew, which is fabulous. Remember those red capes? Sarah was wearing hers (used to be Kari's) yesterday. Still super cute. 

What have you been reading and sewing? I've got technical issues with the button and code, but I'd sure love for you to leave me a link and a comment. I promise to come see what you've been up to.

Fabric-covered journals:: a tutorial

Originally, this tutorial was planned for the Restore Workshop only. After unraveling the time and stitching together one more journal cover, I've decided that I love it so much I wanted to share it on here with everyone. As this series of my Restore Workshop comes to an end, I am happy to announce that we are working on future workshops from my dining room. My big hope and prayer is to ultimately prepare a homeschooling workshop, packed with tutorials for homeschooling, as well as create a year 'round community for Restore. Please enjoy this tutorial and share it as you'd like. Create one for yourself, your very best friend, and all someones special. And as soon as the details are in order, I hope you can join me for more Restore and we can make more beautiful things together. 

I’ve made at least a dozen of these fabric covers, designed to make a composition notebook beautiful, but I never stopped to write it all down so I could pass the instructions along. This is a wonderful place for scrap fabric (perhaps leftover from another Restore project) to become something truly beautiful.  It will fit a standard 9.75 X 7.5 inch composition book


When I set about to make this cover in order to jot notes as I went, I picked up a log cabin square with embroidery that I had begun for my friend Nicole’s January birthday.  My intent back then was to finish the embroidery in the middle of the square and then to use the piece as the center of a journal cover. For the purposes of this tutorial, I figured I’d finish the cover so that you could see and then I’d take the embroidery along with me to the waiting room while Patrick has surgery.  It seemed like a good plan.


As you can see when you look carefully at the pictures, I forgot temporarily that the embroidery pattern had been drawn in disappearing ink. That ink disappeared when the iron met the fabric in the construction process. Further, I grew unsure of my calculations and called Nicole to come doublecheck my numbers before I published this tutorial. So, the gift has perhaps lost a bit of its charm. I will redraw and she will have a journal, just not quite in the way I imagined.



You want to have a piece of fabric that measures 30 inches by 12 inches when you begin to actually make the journal cover. It can be all one piece or you can create patchwork. You can see several examples in the blog post. For this one, I created a log cabin square and then I added more strips to fill out the height and the width. As you create, you might need to consider where  your “front and center” will be. Aim for it to fall about 8 inches from the edge.


With the wrong side up, turn the short end under half an inch on both sides (wrong sides together) and press each carefully. Then, turn it under another half inch and edgestitch to close the fold. This will give you finished edges on both the pockets where the journal slips in.


Now position your cover over your notebook. Place it where you want that center to fall and put a pin somewhere to mark it for you.


Then, with the fabric wrong side down, fold the fabric in from either short end towards the middle. Watch where the front of the journal is going to be and adjust accordingly. Pin in place.


You are going to sew four different seams, one on each side. Sew an inch wide seam along each edge, backtacking or knotting at the beginning and end of each seam.


Cut the corners so that they’ll be crisp when you turn them.


Turn the whole piece so the right sides are out and use a chopstick or knitting knitting to sharpen the corners.

Slide the composition book into the pockets.


Now, to finish that embroidery. I promise to do it this week. Come back next Friday for the reprise of needle & thREAD and see if I can make good on that promise. 

More than I ever Imagined

...that he may know the feel of wood, clay, leather, and the joy of handling tools, that is, that he may establish a due relation with materials...” “The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not be allowed...”~Charlotte Mason

As I tweak the schedule for this semester, I see where the windows are opening for genuine Charlotte Mason afternoons, spent working with our hands. Yesterday was more than a little chaotic, as I scramble to tie up several loose ends before leaving town, but we managed to create, all the same. 

Kristin came over with Lucy, which meant Karoline and Sarah and I got to play dolls with a real live baby. It also meant that Kristin and I could put our creative heads together and Kristin could put her hands and her heart towards a project we both love. 


And Katie made progress sewing a shirt for Sarah. When my babies were little, I imagined that when everyone was "big," I'd have to time to quietly plug away at handcrafts. My reality is that knitting is a bag that comes along to soccer games and sewing is just as often done in the dressing room of the dance studio as in my carefully appointed "studio." Neither scenario is at all quiet;-)! In all my imaginings, I could not have conjured the comfortable companionship of Kristin and my arms full all over again. When I wondered and worried about who would be an example of young motherhood to my little girls, I did not have the scope of vision that would bring to mind their sister-in-law and a baby niece snuggled into one of many baby-wearing lovelies. These afternoons are nothing like I imagined and more than I ever hoped.

The days are intense. And sometimes the struggle takes my breath away. But for golden afternoons and the loveliness of girls gathered, I am grateful. 

I'm still listening to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I know I could blaze through the print version in no time at all, but the audio version is such a treat, so very well done, that I am letting it linger.  I also spent some time this week previewing the printed version of  A Year of Playing Skillfully. Oh. Wow. Firstly, there's way more than enough for more than a year here. It's beautiful! And I'm a huge sucker for visual appeal. It's incredibly complete. And it makes me want a house full of preschoolers again. From Lesli Richards and Kathy Lee, both experienced mothers and teachers and the authors of The Homegrown Preschooler, comes the most complete and carefully crafted preschool curriculum you've ever wanted. I came away from my reading with a renewed sense of the wonder and joy of those early years. I'm grateful to have gotten to take a look and I'm excited to watch the community of women using these resources grow. Poke around over there a bit. You'll be glad you did.

“...my object is to show that the chief function of the child—his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life—is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses...”
― Charlotte M. Mason

What about you? Sewing? Reading? Just playing babies? Tell me all about it!