ReCouture 2020!

I am so excited to share that I submitted a design for the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes’ fundraiser, “ReCouture“… and it was accepted!

ReCouture is an annual fashion show featuring designs made entirely from recycled materials. Last year’s show can be viewed on YouTube:

The 2020 show is on May 2, and I’ll be blogging my progress here with weekly posts on Thursdays.

I don’t want to share my sketch just yet, but I will share my mood board that I used to put together my proposal.

My design is focused on grocery store waste, especially the tension between non-biodegradable plastic waste (of which there is a LOT, even beyond shopping bags) and biodegradable food waste (of which there is also a LOT, which many people don’t even think about, perhaps because it is biodegradable), and the way these two categories of waste intermingle in our food system and in our wider ecological system.

The part I’m most excited (and admittedly nervous) about in my design is the material I’m using for my skirt– kombucha leather. Friends, I have officially become a kombucha farmer. I’ll share more about my process next week, but suffice it to say it involves brewing a LOT of kombucha, and growing a LOT of slimy SCOBYs. But it’s okay, it’s all in the name of art (and environmental awareness), and will hopefully turn into something like… this!

In addition to the kombucha leather skirt, I plan to create a train made of plastic bottles + produce bags, and a bodice made of coated (plasticized) cardboard cartons. Intrigued? Stay tuned for more, including a step-by-step of how I create my kombucha fabric!

Work in Progress Wednesday

Welcome to Work In Progress (WIP) Wednesday! With this series, I’m trying to keep myself accountable and avoid expanding my UFO (unfinished object) collection by documenting what I have going on at any given point in time. So, here goes! This is what I’m working on this week:

1) Blanket for Baby #2: I started knitting this back in… November? October? Honestly I can’t remember. It’s this pattern from Purl Soho, knit up in slightly different colors. I made a blanket of my own design for my daughter when she was born, in a much, much smaller gauge, and it took me forever. Like… I finished it around when she turned two. Yes, it became a toddler blanket. When I started this one, I vowed it would be finished by the time the baby is born. Well, I’m happy to announce that baby #2 is still happily growing on the inside, and will ideally stay put for the next 2- 5 weeks! (I’m guessing he’s going to arrive a little early, but I’m also not placing any bets. Babies are unpredictable critters.)

Project Status: ALMOST done! Just need to weave in the ends (visible in this photo) and block it (maybe).

2) Epic Knits Yarn Quest 2018– The Steam Age Begins Knit-Along: It’s a bit of a knitting bonanza over here, isn’t it? Confession: I hate knitting scarves. They’re so boring! But when I saw a post about Epic Knits’ annual RPG knit-along, my little nerd heart was intrigued. If you’ve never played a RPG (think: Dungeons and Dragons), the idea is… well, kind of complicated, actually. You make up a character based on some guidelines. You’re given a story line. You roll one of several die, depending on the story line. Your characteristics determine how you “react” to the die rolls, and you end up choosing your own adventure. (Okay, that wasn’t *that* complicated.) In this knit-along, everyone ends up knitting a slightly different variation of the pattern, so no two scarves are alike.  The charts you knit are determined by your character and your die rolls.

This is a double-knit scarf, which was particularly interesting to me. It’s my first double-knit project, and only my second time attempting stranded colorwork! I’m honestly not a big tabletop RPG player (and my MMORPG days– that is, online gaming– are somewhat distant in the past), but I do enjoy the premise and camaraderie. And the knitting is a fun change of pace from the (relatively quick, mindless, and relaxing) baby blanket I’ve almost finished. And I love the yarn I bought. I’ll be purchasing some more for socks when this scarf is complete!

Project Status: Started, but sloooow going. I’m a week behind because I ordered my yarn late, and am only 1/2 way through the first of six charts for week one!

3) Simplicity 2317– Family PJs! This one has been hanging over my head for a while. I made it a (probably not realistic) New Year’s goal to complete all of the projects I’ve promised to make for my husband over the past 8 years (which is… a lot of projects) during 2018. This is one of them. I’ve had the fabric for a very long time, and there should be enough here to make a set of matching PJs for my daughter after I make his. I also just ordered some more (!) in a different pattern to make a snap-front flannel night shirt for myself for nighttime nursing when the baby arrives.

Project Status: Not actually started. But I finally got my husband’s current measurements and figured out what size to make him! And the fabric is washed. Cutting the pattern out tonight, and hopefully the fabric as well.

Last-minute Gift Sewing: Elephant Stuffie

Ever since my daughter went to the Memphis Zoo with her grandmother back in September, she has mentioned– off and on– wanting an elephant toy. It wasn’t the first time she visited a zoo or saw elephants, but for some reason the idea has really stuck with her. In November, when I had to travel for work, she told my husband that she hoped I would bring her “an elephant toy to color” (fwiw, although I was near the National Zoo on my trip, the trip itself had nothing to do with animals or zoos!).

Several weeks went by without a mention of an elephant, so we gave up our half-hearted search on Amazon for a suitable gift. But then, of course, on Christmas Eve, she tearfully told us that she really really wanted Santa to bring her a stuffed elephant. This was after expressing extreme trepidation that Santa would actually *enter our house* (stranger danger!) and telling us that she didn’t WANT Santa to come AT ALL if he was going to come inside. Oh, boy.

(IMHO, smart kid. I don’t want strangers in our house, either, no matter how many toys they’re bringing us!)

So what did I do? What any sane person (ahem) would do in such a situation. Pull out the fabric stash and get to work!

Okay, first I went on Pinterest and Google and did a little research. It turns out, there are a TON of hits for “free elephant stuffie pattern” out there. Go figure. I settled on the Fat Quarter Elephant project on The Sewing Directory (pattern by The Make It Room). I thought it was a nice combination of cute but not-anthropomorphic, and judging by the amount of fabric it called for (a fat quarter) it would make a toy roughly the size I was looking for.

I had some fuzzy gray knit (I guess technically it’s fake fur? plush?) as well as this sparkly pink fleece in my stash that I snapped up at a sale several years ago. I had intended to make a hat and pants for my daughter out of it, but when fabric is on sale I tend to purchase in bulk. Like… really bulk. I had enough to make a whole herd of these elephants. And a whole fleecey wardrobe for my kid.

I started sewing at around 9pm… and finished at roughly 2am. Worth it?

TOTALLY worth it.

The cutting and machine sewing went very quickly… I’m just a slow-as-molasses hand-sewer, so attaching the ears, stuffing the elephant, and sewing the pads of the feet on to close it up (you stuff through the legs) took me It might have gone slightly faster if I hadn’t been watching some late-night TV with my husband at the same time (he stayed up with me in solidarity 🙂 ). It might also have gone faster if I hadn’t re-sewn the ears and rounded back. Twice. (Perfectionist, much?!).

So, how did the lucky recipient react?

She was underwhelmed. As I should expect an almost-3-year-old to be when faced with a pile of other brightly-colored, noise-making new toys from her favorite TV show (wrapped in crinkly plastic boxes, no less) and a house full of grandparents on Christmas morning. Alas.

I am still inordinately thrilled with the results of my last-minute project, and the elephant has now taken up residence on my daughter’s bed (where he gets about the same amount of love as the other non-favorite stuffies do… which is still quite a bit).

As an aside, my husband very sweetly posted a photo of the elephant on his Facebook page and a little note about how impressed he was <3

One of his friends commented, “Wait, so your wife just happened to have a sewing machine, some plush fabric lying around the house, and the ability to sew this up at the last minute?!”

Why yes, yes I did. +1 for sewing skills and a “healthy” fabric stash!

If you want to make an elephant stuffie of your own, the free PDF pattern is available at The Sewing Directory.

Summer Sewing Plans

When summer finally rolls around, I have a bit more free time. So… it’s time to line up some seasonal sewing projects! With the rather sudden arrival of much warmer weather, I’m discovering some gaping holes in my wardrobe. Namely, I have no shorts. I also lack warm weather tops that aren’t form-fitting, sweat-showing knit. On the less practical side, I’ve got a friend’s wedding to attend and am excited for the chance to do some special occasion sewing. Finally, I love wearing skirts and dresses in the summertime, and that area of my closet could use some size/ color updating. Plus, I have two projects that have been languishing in my drawer for far too long, and need to be finished.

I’ll link to finished projects as I post them!

PS. the links included in this post are not affiliate links, they are just for image credit/ information.

Seamwork Harrington

Harrington short in linen, by Seamwork

I have four pairs of running shorts in frequent rotation, and exactly nothing made of anything other than parachute material. So. Time to sew some shorts!

Yes, I know this pattern is intended to be made with athletic material, but I loved the linen version shown on the pattern page. I bought a few yards of Robert Kaufman linen, along with some dotted chambray (after seeing the cute chambray Seamwork shorts another sewist made) and plan to make a couple of pairs for myself and my husband.

(Images + fabrics from… images link to fabric purchase page)

I’ve been a Seamwork subscriber for seven months already, but I’ve only sewn one pattern so far (the Akita blouse). I’m a little nervous to sew this one up, because I cannot find a single blog or review of this pattern anywhere online. I’ve read extensive accounts of Seamwork patterns being hit-or-miss, especially in the fit department. The Harrington shorts are intended as a men’s pattern, and I usually like the way men’s pants and shorts fit me. I plan to sew the pair for my husband first (he’s one size up from me) to see how the overall fit is, and make adjustments from there. Don’t worry, he’s a willing guinea pig.

Made with Moxie Prefontaine Shorts

(Prefontaine Shorts pattern for women and kids available on

I might have plenty of running shorts, but all of them are lined  with compression unders and are not terribly comfortable for just lounging around in (or running errands, or using as a bathing suit cover-up, or whatever other casual non-running activity I have going on). My daughter is also in dire need of shorts. She has several pairs, but she is between ready-to-wear sizes and the ones I bought her for this season usually end up falling off her tiny-even-when-diapered booty.

While I was perusing reviews of various Seamwork shorts patterns, I discovered the Prefontaine shorts reviewed on Sie Macht. Pretty much everything appealed to me about this pattern: retro styling, pockets, long-enough inseam, suggested use of upcycled materials, just ONE yard of fabric (hellooooo stash-buster!). And there was a bundle discount for the women’s and kids’ patterns! Score!

I think these will get made this very week, so stay tuned!

Shantung Dress with Roses from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book

I love an excuse to wear a fancy dress, especially since such excuses come around pretty rarely in these parts. My husband’s one bachelor-holdout friend is getting married at the end of the month (on our wedding anniversary!). It will probably be the last wedding we’re invited to for a while, unless people start getting divorced and remarried, or unless we make some more single friends. Neither of those things seems terribly likely right now.

My husband is also in the wedding, and will be wearing a tux (!!!!!), so I decided to make something a little special.

(Note: this is the first time ever that I will see my husband in a tuxedo in person– he wore a regular suit for our own wedding)

(image via Pinterest, links to book purchase)

I have about 2.5 yards of baby blue dupioni from a dress I intended to make for my own rehearsal dinner but never got around to. I checked with the store where I bought it 5 years ago to see if they could match it. There was a similar-looking swatch on their website, and they very kindly said they’d send me a sample. Pending being able to find more of that fabric, I plan to make the Shantung Dress with Roses from Gertie’s most recent book. If I’m not able to get more of the fabric, I will likely make the pattern I originally intended to use, Vogue 1242. I’m not super excited about the idea of a sheath dress, though… it feels a little too “cocktail party”-ish rather than “fun summer wedding”-ish. Or maybe it’s just that the lady on the envelope looks older than me, and I don’t want to feel older than I already am. Fingers crossed for the fabric!

Seamwork Akita

This will be my second Akita blouse– the first that I made has become a wardrobe staple. I wear it at least once a week, and I’m sure that my students are getting sick of seeing it. One of them even commented that I seem to coordinate my PowerPoint slide patterns with the print on my shirt. She wasn’t wrong.

I *might* like this shirt so much because of the amazing Cotton + Steel rayon I picked for it. I love absolutely everything about this fabric. The texture, the drape, the pattern, even how it seems to be fairly wrinkle-resistant fresh out of the dryer (at least, I haven’t ironed it yet…). It’s a dream to sew with, and I would like every blouse I own to be made from it, please.

(Image + fabric from, links to fabric purchase page)

For my second Akita, I stuck with the C+S rayon, but went with a floral print this time. They have several collaborations with Rifle Paper Co., and this design is from the first collection. There are a couple of tiny fit adjustments I’d like to make on this second iteration, but otherwise I’m hoping this will be a straightforward project.

Colette Aster

As I said above, I’ve been a Seamwork subscriber for seven months. And I was super psyched when they started letting subscribers use their pattern credits for Colette patterns, because I had accumulated quite a few.

(Cotton + Steel Poplin Navy Diamonds via

One of the patterns I selected was the Aster. I need some new tops that can double as out-in-public weekend wear (with jeans or shorts) and classroom-appropriate wear (with a skirt and cardigan). I plan to do a combination of version 1 — short sleeves, with version 2 — pleated bodice. And I have more C+S rayon, naturally.

FYI, there’s also a sew-along available here.

McCall’s Pleated Skirt (M5591)

These last two projects have been sitting in the docket, with all necessary supplies, for more than three years. I have several really good excuses, I promise! You see, I had a baby, finished writing my dissertation, and then moved cross-country. Twice. So, not much summer sewing since 2013, I’m afraid.

Actually, I first learned about this pattern from this blog post, which means this project has been sitting in my drawer for FIVE. YEARS. Oof. Okay, well… this month. I’m finally going to sew it.

(Day Dreamer by Benartex Fabric, no longer available)

I found a mini-bolt of this fabric at a quilt shop where my mother-in-law lives, and should have enough left over to make a skirt for my daughter, too. I plan to make version C, most likely without the trim.

McCall’s Shirtdress (M6696)

This seems to be a pattern with a solid reputation among bloggers (understatement!). Like the skirt above, it has been sitting in my drawer for far too long. Last but definitely not least, I plan to make version A in a lightweight pink ditzy print cotton from Jo-Ann Fabrics (which is sadly no longer available).