Sew Paradise | April 25, 2016 | By

Fast & Fabulous Jetsetter Poncho bicycling cape by HotPatterns


The music comes to a crescendo and stops. The dancers all pant in unison, the only sound left. She unties her pointe shoes and rubs her feet. Imagining how great her shearling boots will feel makes her groan slightly, so that a fellow company dancer shoots her a side eye glance.

In the locker room, she pulls on soft, worn jeans and a cashmere sweater – the latter a gift from her upstate aunt. Over the top she slips on a lofty poncho with a cowl neck so deep, she can burrow in it like a rabbit in it’s den.

She bends to slip her feet – at last! – into the shearling boots. Ecstasy.  Grabbing her bag, she hurries out the door of the dance company, hair streaming out behind her in the chilly afternoon. This poncho is one of her favorites. She sewed it herself last month from fabric purchased in the garment district. When she imagined coming here, she wanted to live like a big city girl. The garment district, slightly gritty around the edges and full of eclectic ethnic restaurants shoehorned between giant warehouses, is her favorite Saturday haunt. She packed her sewing machine – a gift from her mother the year before she began dancing seriously – because it reminded her of what she could create without depending upon anyone else.

The machine helped her sew her way through high school mini skirts, college maxi skirts and dance workshop leggings. She sewed her way through Sunday apartment curtains and summer placemats on her parents deck back home. The luxuriousness of the fleece she chose for this poncho feels decadent in a city full of hard edges and sharp tongues.



From across the train car, he spots her. It’s her walk that he notices first, as if she’s a butterfly, alighting on first one flower and then another. She is simply clad in jeans and a voluminous, what do you call them? His mind searches for the word in a database bereft of fashion terms. “Poncho” he says, audibly. She turns slightly and then looks away quickly. She’s heard then. He hasn’t really taken her all in, as the car slows for the next stop, and then she’s gone, flitting from petal to petal.

The doors close as the blaring announcement snaps him out of his reverie. What was it? She wasn’t tall; normally he goes for tall women to match his 6’4” frame. It wasn’t her face. Although pretty, it wasn’t her astounding beauty that captured his gaze. He jumps up as the car slows and gets out, his long legs taking the steps two at a time. The weekend cycling he does pays off, and he emerges from the depths into a sunny, but cool spring late afternoon. He begins a slow lope back towards the previous stop. About a block ahead, he spots her; poncho, he says silently. She’s standing outside a store window gazing at knit garments. Ponchos, from the looks of it. He’s crossed the street now and quietly stops beside her.

“Poncho” he says. She starts and jumps a half step away, a quick springy move that surprises him so much, he laughs. A dancer, he realizes, she’s a dancer. He notices her for the first time, long dark hair, deep golden brown eyes framed by thick black lashes. Creamy skin with cheeks reddened by the spring chill. And the poncho, a peacock blue cloud enveloping her.

“Poncho” she says, smiling.

“You must like ponchos” he gestures at the window display.

“I guess I do” she turns to him and has to look up, he’s so tall. “ I do love them, although I am surprised you know what they are called.”

“I thank my sister for that,” he grins.

“You should go in and look at them up close,” he crosses the distance to the shop’s door in two paces. She shakes her head slightly, looking down for a moment “I can’t even afford to stand here.”

“Last I checked, browsing is free,” he counters, opening the door, gesturing her to join him.

What the heck, she thinks. It’s not even coffee, it’s textiles.

Remaking a Bicycling Cape

Sew Paradise | March 14, 2016 | By

Fast & Fabulous Jetsetter Poncho bicycling cape by HotPatterns


Hot Patterns Fast &Fabulous Palazzo Pants

Sew Paradise | February 20, 2016 | By


wp-1456627406701.jpgHot Patterns Palazzo Pants Sewn by Sew ParadiseI set out to make a pair of linen palazzo pants. This linen has been in my stash and waiting to be made into palazzo pants for at least 5 years. I really love the look of the Hot Patterns palazzo pants waistband because it is above the natural waist. Right now there is a trend to wear bikini tops or crop tops with a high-waisted pant which pretty much covers all the yucky bits of one’s mid-section and leaves the nice, flat ribcage area. You can see what I mean. Below that waistband is the remnants of five pregnancies (two gorgeous kids out of that mess.)  No matter how you work out, and I do, your skin – once stretched – never returns to it’s previous shape.

One really important thing about sewing patterns is that you understand the designer’s intent with the shape of the garment before you sew. So, look at the picture, read the instructions and read the description. These palazzo pants are a semi-fitted palazzo pant, described in the sewing instructions as semi-fitted silhouette. The drawing has slight gathers below the stretch waistband (but only on the model, not in the technical drawing.)  This means that there will not be a ton of extra waste/room at the waist in this style. I  forgot this in my fitting process and although I needed a size 10 in the hips, I really needed to go down to a 6 in the waist to achieve this same fit.

The other thing I discovered, is that I have a little bit of body dysmorphia: I more or less think of myself as straight up and down, but that’s really not true. I have a much narrower waist than my hips even though I am fairly petite all over. So my thought that a 10 in a muslin would work for a 10 in linen all the way up my body from hip to waist just fell flat.

I made two muslin garments before making these pants and a muslin is worth it for sure with any new pattern. Get it right and you never have to second guess yourself the next time you make it.

My first boo boo was not grading the cutlines from a 10 at the hip to a 6 at the waist, because I ended up having to do this after the pants were constructed (more on that later.)

My second error was in sewing the front pockets. They are clever, and have a notch on the flat pattern. I couldn’t figure out what the notch was for when I was cutting it out (another reason to read the instructions first) but it was abundantly clear once I got to the instructions. I recommend, always, making a pair of pockets that mirror one another, as the two of the same facing direction just will not work!

So I picked off the pocket and sewed it again as the mirror to it’s mate. I used a clever trick to curve the pocket edges – I basted about 1/4″ away from the cut edge on each rounded corner from the flat side of the pocket to the flat bottom and then pulled the basted thread. It pulls in the curved edges in, and allows you to press the curved shape (the turned in edge is a little more than 3/8″ when I was done with it.) Neat and tidy on the pockets.

I varied from the pattern instructions by stitching the CF seam down and THEN pressing the faux fly to one side and topstitching. It probably looks better to have this open  – after all, your fly is open, if you think about it,  the zipper’s inside, all zipped up in a normal fly but the edge is open. In this version, the fly is sewn closed except for the front edge. I might pick this out.

I had chosen a very lightweight rayon lycra print for the waistband and it was just trouble from the beginning with this fabric. The instructions have you sew the folded tube of a waistband to the top of the pants, stretching it to fit the wider pant waist. My first attempt at this waistband (I took it out FIVE TIMES) I ended up missing some of the linen underneath while stretch-stitching and had to go back, pick out a big section and resew. But then, I realized the waistband was much, much too large. Oops, next mistake. Try it on first!

So I removed it (#2) and took another 1.5″ (two sizes, down to a 6) off the waistband on each side. It fit better –  not snug –  but better. Then, I sewed the extra row of casing stitches onto the rayon/lycra. The fine rayon lycra didn’t stitch well – I waggled all over the place (partly my fault, I should have used the sleeve arm on my sewing machine.)

So I took that out (#3). I tried the pants on to discover the size 10 from waist to hem is just not my size. so I had to remove the waistband (#4), and the pockets, and angle in the sideseam from about mid hip to the waist to the size 6. I had to pick out the topstitched front pockets and move them toward the center front. At this point, I’ve basically resewn the top of the pants – I took about 1/4″ off the Center Back (CB) seam at the waist, tapering to zero at the high hip. I sewed the waistband on again and it’s just a disaster (#5). I was mad, and I ripped it out – tearing the lycra but leaving the linen intact. I’ve determined this fine lycra just isn’t the right fabric. I attempt a striped jersey but it did not stretch enough. I finally settled on a chocolate brown cotton lycra with good snappy recovery and a heavy weight to match the linen.

When you sew and you’re trying on pants, or skirts, you are often trying them on over and over (especially fit-as-you-sew as I’ve been doing). And, frankly, your pants just get in the way. So I’m in my sewing room (with a giant window facing the street) in my underwear. Leopard print underwear. I did have on a turtleneck, so from the street, it looks like I’m dressed. And I had to go up and down my basement stairs (in my underwear – and my argyle ankle socks) looking for suitable knits for the waistband redo.

Right about now, I decided going for a run in the 53 degree sunshine is a smart idea. A run gives me the space to get out of my own head (and my own way).

When I returned, I pull up the CF up just a smidge to shorten the front crotch depth and baste (Lord have mercy, I have learned my lesson at last!) the waistband on.  After trying it on, and determined (crowdsourcing it on the Hotpatterns sewing group on Facebook) it’s a good fit, I finished sewing the casing, the elastic and the hems.

Despite my sewing challenges (5+ hours to sew a 2-hour or less pair of pants), I love these pants. The high waist on a slimmer fitting palazzo is definitely on trend right now. I’ve seen these in my fancy fashion magazines in beautiful floral prints worn with coordinating bandeau bikini tops. I plan to wear an aqua bikini top and a beachy choker necklace for a surfer-girl look. The high waist covers every squidgy bit of midsection, leaving only my smooth (and flat) ribcage exposed. With a crop top (yes, a 46 year old mother of two wearing a crop top!) this will be an awesome summer outfit. I can’t wait to hack a tee shirt pattern to create a crop top for summer to wear with these pants.

Make no mistake, these have a deliciously wide leg. I left  a 3″ stitched hem (in case the linen shrinks any more) and they look truly awesome with flat t-strap thong sandals. I’m very much looking forward to wearing these on an upcoming trip to Florida. I’ll replace the photo of me standing in my bedroom in front of a mirror with me at the pool wearing these wonderful palazzo pants.

What did I learn?

  • Make a muslin
  • Make two if needed
  • Fit as you sew
  • Read the description and look carefully at the technical drawing and the illustrated sketch
  • Make sure the fabrics you select will stand up to the task they’re assigned to (i.e. waistbands should be made of firmer knits, in this case)

Moving ahead, I’ll cut a 10 that is tapered to a 6 from mid hip to waist, with a size 6 waistband, making them in a floral challis, and probably next fall in a double knit for winter wear. The beauty of palazzo pants is they look incredible summer or winter – try them with a cropped capelet and a slim fitting top in the cooler months.

Easy and Fast Valentine’s Day Cards Kids Can Make

Sew Paradise | February 9, 2016 | By

Custom Kid Valentine Cards

I’ll admit, it was a slacker mom morning. Well, at least a busy, forgetful one. Over the weekend we’d tried to find kid valentines (you know the 24-pack for classrooms) and failed to. So this morning, in a panic, my Kindergartner remembers he needs his today, Tuesday, two days before their class celebration. I sat the kids down with crayons and a blank piece of paper and we crafted Valentine’s Cards. Before you think, holy Mother in heaven (I’m Catholic; I think Mary would understand!) you’re going to ask a 5-year old to make 24 Valentine’s Day cards in ten minutes before school when it takes him 25 to put his snowpants and boots on? Ha! No, I’m not that insane.

But I am armed with good tools. I fold the paper in quarters, like you’re making a greeting card, and ask each child to decorate the one facing side of this ‘card’.  I have them write their name on this, as it speeds up the addressing step.


I then scan this drawing in on my computer. I use Adobe Illustrator for the  next part, but you can use Canva, or even Photoshop Elements or (probably) even Word or Google Docs for this next step. Open a document that is letter sized and landscape orientation. Place the scanned image of your child’s valentine on the page four times, each in one of those four quadrants. Print a test. If you can see the image (no borders), you’re good. Stick some colored card stock in your printer (6 sheets for 24 valentines) and print 6 copies. Then, using your paper slicer, slice them into 4 valentine’s per sheet.

Custom Kid Valentine Cards

While you’re cutting and the printer is printing, have your child write the recipient’s name on the back side (from their school list). Voila! Custom Valentine’s cards, made by your child! This entire process takes 15 panicked minutes, or 20 calm and relaxed minutes.

Valentine's Day Cards Kids Can Make

DIY Sew Your Own Cowl Neck Tunic

Sew Paradise | February 4, 2016 | By

I sewed the Christine Jonson Patterns Cowl Neck Tunic in a peacock sweater knit this past weekend.

The top is super easy to construct. First, I taped up the pattern pieces – I sewed a S, with a bit of a generous sideseam (I had made this before in a snappier recovery knit and it was tight on me, so I wanted to err on the side of caution.). The sweater knit was very easy to sew, no challenges there. There’s a section on the back neck for this top – which goes together pretty much like a shawl collared jacket – that the designer has you baste this. I have never basted a tee shirt, but honestly, this was a fast and really helpful step. It took hardly any time, held all the layers together and helped me get a good result.

The banded waist was kind of a planned/not planned event. When I first tried on the tunic, I thought, too long, almost a dress on me, so I marked it with a pin and cut that off. Ooops! Too much! So I made that cut-off part into a tube and sewed it back on like a band. However, on the Christine Jonson web site there is an article here that shows how to make a faux banded hem with your serger that looks exactly the same without the stupidity of cutting it off too short 😉

That is a MUCH better way of handling the hem – and I did this method to create banded sleeve hems as well!

In my photograph, the snow’s just starting to come down, and now, outside my window, it’s really coming down heavy now, and this is a great outfit for a snowy winter day. I have on cotton/lycra leggings, but probably will switch to Polartec Powerstretch leggings (fleece inside) for the day.

This happens to be one of my favorite work-at-home outfits, when I don’t have an out of office meeting scheduled. It’s comfortable without being weird, and when I go pick my kids up from school, I will still look professional enough to meet with the kindergarten teacher (who wears leggings and tunics herself) as I pick up my youngest.  It even excuses my poufy, humid hair.

The review I have posted at PatternReview.com tells a bit more about how the cowl is designed to fit better than other cowl neck tops. I think this is a huge bonus. I have made other cowl neck tops where you end up with a ton of fabric over the bust and just below it. I don’t need any more added to my belly below my bust, so this top fits much nicer than others I’ve made.  The sleeves fit nice and slim and overall, I think this is a very flattering, and very easy-to-sew top. You could download this and in under an hour and a half (including the taping-and-cutting part) have a great new addition to your tried-n-true patterns and wardrobe.

CowlNeckTunic Cropped P2040585 P2040586

DIY Striped Turtleneck: Sewn in Less Than One Hour!

DIY Striped Turtleneck Sew Paradise Christine Jonson PatternsStep 1: log on to favorite retail site. Step 2: select striped turtleneck. Step 3: Order. Step 4: Wait 4-7 days for delivery.

OR Step 1: select fabric from stash. Step 2: Select Christine Jonson Patterns Travel Trio Two’s funnelneck top. Step 3: Cut and sew in less than one hour! 
I love this turtleneck. When I bought the fabric in my stash, I had in mind a striped tee shirt. But I have four other striped tee shirts (!), all of which have 3/4 sleeves and a bateau neck. Perfect for spring. Not so much for winter.

The Christine Jonson Travel Trio Two pattern set includes a (reversible) wrap skirt, a reversible hoodie and this funnelneck – with 3/4 sleeves. I altered the sleeve to be long To make a 3/4 sleeve long, I laid the pattern down on paper, marked my new arm length and drew around the pattern down to my mark, keeping the same sleeve seam angles, no changes needed. This easy to sew pattern features TWO pieces – a front/back piece and a sleeve – you honestly can’t get easier than that! The top pattern is quite shapely and comes down longer. I did add 1/5″ to the hem to make it even longer (almost tunic length.)

This top will get heavy rotation in my winter wardrobe, under blazers, over jeans, over leggings, under ponchos. It was incredibly easy to make and very rewarding to sew. I know I say instant gratification at lot on this blog, but this pattern truly is that. In under an hour, with no fuss, I had a great looking top that is comfortable and stylish. No waiting, no adding to cart, just sewn*

And yes, I didn’t even bother to press the top to take the photo, it was that speedy to sew! I highly recommend that you get this pattern – the reversible wrap skirt and hoodie alone are worth it, but the funnelneck/turtleneck will be in heavy rotation in your sewing. Just whip up a new one any time you need a quick fix (prints! a replacement for spilling coffee on your cream colored one!)


*I had the pattern and fabric in my stash

Four Christine Jonson Patterns for a Warm Weather Vacation

Sew Paradise | December 8, 2015 | By

Sew Paradise Ann Siegle

My favorite indie pattern designer picks for warm weather vacations!

I love to get away with my family to a warm weather climate in the winter. This post features my  favorite designs from Christine Jonson Patterns, a knitwear sewing pattern company. If there’s comfort involved in a casual family vacation, knits are it, and Christine Jonson is THE knitwear designer.

Sleeveless reversible wrap top:

This top is not only very figure flattering, it’s also reversible, giving you two awesome options to keep your suitcase light. The wrap top features really long and skinny ties that you wrap around yourself several times, a fun departure from the usual side-tie wrap. I’ll make this in a solid reversed to print rayon/lycra knit. This sleeveless wrap top is perfect worn over a sarong, or wide leg knit pants. Side note: the amazing Christine Jonson wrap dress is built on this model too 😉

Wide leg knit or linen drawstring pants:

CJPatterns-Jumpsuit-225x300Christine Jonson Patterns has a wide leg pant and slim leg pant pattern designed for knits. I have made this many times in a knit. The pants taper slightly from knee to hem, even in the wide leg. I prefer my pants to go straight from knee to hem, so I simply trace this change right onto my fabric before I cut them out (using kids’ chalk) I don’t bother to alter the pattern. I love to make these in a heathered knit with a stretch fabric waistband, but you can use the same stretch fabric waistband with a woven fabric like linen or rayon. I have even made a strapless jumpsuit using these pants, and added a blouson tube top right to the top of the pants as I sewed. See the strapless wide leg jumpsuit here. If you prefer skinny, no worries, same pattern envelope, skinny pants! But if you’re making skinny pants, you’ll need to choose a ponte knit fabric for them (the ideal choice, in my opinion, for skinny knit pants.) Make them with a banded waist or a faux drawstring instead of the standard elastic waist.


Christine Jonson Patterns Three Tees DressCut-on-cap sleeve shirt/tunic/dress:

I love the Christine Jonson Three Tees pattern. It’s so simple, just two pattern pieces! I make these up by the bunches, in dress, tunic and top length. For this trip, a tunic-length tee is perfect – you can still tuck it into a pair of shorts, it can be layered over the wide leg pants and belted, or it can be worn as a short dress or even as a swim coverup. I have even made this in a mixed-media shirt tail top with a smooth knit on the front,  a stretch lace print knit on the back and a shirt tail hem on both. For this trip, I’m making it in a fun print knit all around. Make one in a tunic or short dress length with a shirt tail hem, and one in a tee shirt length with a straight hem.

Swing cardigan / jacket:

I like to have a lightweight cardigan/jacket for cooler nights or the occasional cold snap, as well as for my trip down from the cold north. The Christine Jonson Swing Jacket in a drapey sweaterknit or even sweatshirting is perfect. It can be belted over the wide leg pants for a dinner outfit after the sun goes down or worn as a swim cover as well. If you make this in a sweater knit, skip the sideseam pockets. If you make it in a more stable knit, such as sweatshirting or ponte, go ahead and keep the pockets.


Christine Jonson doesn’t design swimwear, so I love the Kwik Sew 3602 Tankini and Monokini pattern. The monokini pattern covers up my stretch marks and post-baby skin (but do be careful to make any petite adjustments BEFORE you cut it out or it will look horrible. Ask me how I know!) It uses the same basic bottom and top shapes as the tankini which I love as well.

I wear all of these with a t-strap thong sandal and a pair of Sperry Topsiders. I bring a pair of summery, yet closed-toe shoes like the Topsiders, as this becomes my ‘traveling’ shoe – suitable for the plane and (with socks) for the trip home in the cold. I top all the outfits off with a sun hat from (now OOP) Vogue from Patricia Underwood or one of many free tutorials on Pinterest.


Bring a pair of shorts (just one!)  to accompany these great pieces and you will have enough to mix and match all week long. I have discovered that I pack way too much and hardly wear all that I pack. If you’re planning to wear your shorts with the cardigan, just be sure there’s some length to the shorts that stick out from under the cardi or it’ll look like you’re not wearing pants!

You can customize a great shorts pattern by using the Christine Jonson Trouser pant, #1010. The Trouser style makes perfect shorts – you can tailor the length for your legs – super short, mid-thigh or bermuda. They’re terrific in white stretch denim!

Skirt/bandeau tube top:

There is nothing more luxurious than bare shoulders on a (sub) tropical vacation. I make the BaseWearTwo’s Tapered Skirt as a bandeau tube top or a skirt. Make this in a soft rayon/lycra, double layered. Making this reversible is easy:

Cut two skirts. Sew the sideseams of both. Attach the skirts right side together at the hem and serge (it’s important to use a stretch stitch here). You’ll insert the elastic for the waistband between the two layers of your skirt before stitching the casing. Wear it as a tube top or as a slim skirt.

Packing – and sewing – for a warm weather vacation should be fun and easy! Accessories like a sarong go from being a big scarf you wear down on the plane to keep warm,  and becomes a swim cover up are good dual-purpose items that take little space. I wear the long pants, wrap top and cardigan with Topsiders (and socks, I’m not crazy, it’s winter up north) and a light jacket on the way to the airport, with the sarong worn as a big scarf. This means I’m only packing a swimsuit (or two), a pair of shorts, a tee dress, a tee tunic, a skirt/bandeau top, a sun hat and a pair of sandals in my bag. You can practically fit all that in a backpack!  When I arrive at my destination, I remove the jacket, cardigan, sarong and socks. Voila! I’m now in a sleeveless wrap top, wide leg pants and Topsiders (without socks) – ready for vacation. I usually make this presto-chango in the restroom while leaving the airport, so my arrival in the sunny clime is truly complete by the time I step through the airport doors.

The Two Hats Project

Two Hats Project | November 10, 2015 | By

Alopecia Areata Universalis Two Hats Project

I have alopecia areata. Well, technically I have alopecia universalis, since I lose my hair not only on my head, but my body as well. It’s patchy, not complete, so I do have random spots of hair on my head and on my body. For instance, I have half of one eyebrow and eyelashes on one eye (not the same eyes, fortunately.) I wear a wig most days of the week (date night plus all the work week days.) But wigs, even really good wigs like the one I’m getting tomorrow – human hair, professionally styled, $2,000 wigs – they’re itchy. They’re not terribly comfortable. Hats are pretty comfortable, and they offer me the chance to change things up without people looking at me too oddly. If you change your wig up – you have to be prepared to talk about your hair loss, which generally goes something like this:

Q: “Your hair is different. Longer than yesterday.”

A. “It’s not my real hair. But I don’t have cancer.”

The first or second thing out of my mouth is the big caveat: I don’t have cancer. I’m not sick. But, also with that, usually unsaid, I’m not well, either. Because if you’re well, your hair doesn’t fall out. But it’s not catching and I’m not going to die (well, all that inflammation from an autoimmune diseases will kill me, but slowly and over a long period of time.)

But hats, well, you can get away with a hat, particularly if you had very short hair as I did, prior, as most hats covered my hair anyway. You can change your hat every day if you like. And since it’s fall, coming on into winter, I have six months of no one looking twice at my hats, even indoors.

I decided to make some hats – I’m a decent seamstress, and a slow but capable knitter. And then I decided that since I liked the variety and fun of hats, maybe other women who also lost their hair (presumably to cancer, but not always) they might want some hats too. There are a lot of chemo hats project, but you generally look like you’re wearing a chemo cap. I want to make actual hats – some winter-hat style: beret, stocking cap, beanie, slouch, snood and newsboy. I also want to make some structured hats that are in style: fedora, cloche, wide brim (for summer and the tropics) and safari (with tails for sun protection.)

Two Hats Project

For every hat, Buff and head cover I make or buy, I will make or buy another to donate. 

This act of giving is my way of acknowledging my disease, helping someone else through theirs. A cancer patient will get their hair back long before I will, and unless their disease returns, they won’t ever wear a wig again. Mine will likely come out of remission several more times in my life.

I’m starting this week with the Two Hats Project by making berets, the classic chic hat, worn by both women (think Parisian chic) and men (think Green Beret, the Marines and Scottish Highlanders.) They’re fantastically fun to sew, they sew up in about ten minutes each and with a wider band as I make them, suitable for those that have lost all of their hair.

And at the end of the month, any hat I buy or make, I’ll donate the second to a local cancer group or hospital group that works with women who have lost their hair to chemo or alopecia. Alopecia Areata Universalis Two Hats Project



Why I post happy things

Sew Paradise | November 9, 2015 | By

I have a beautiful family, we are sporty and fun and we take a lot of trips. We’re never sad, no one ever cries, yells or gets snappy. And all of this is utter b*llshit. Because, like you, we are a perfectly normal family. I probably yell as much as most other moms (probably more than you) and I am short with my kids when I am interrupted, tired, doing something else or taking care of the dog. Which is, I figure, about 97% of the time.

But if you look at my Facebook feed, what you’ll see is a happy family. A family that takes adventures, goes on rides, plays hockey, dances, and has fun. We’re all kinda cute, so we have that poster family look.

Here’s what you can’t see: my hair, which looks perfectly coiffed, is entirely fake. I wear a wig most days because I have an autoimmune disease (two, actually) that makes my hair fall out. My kids’ clothing has stains, which you can’t see from camera distance. I probably haven’t showered today. It took seven tries to get that Christmas card photo I posted last year, and I still had to photoshop out some branches in front of my son’s face on the only version where he was smiling. The dog had to be harassed, cajoled and finally held in position. He looked only when the autotimer beeped.

No one wanted to wear the matching sweaters, and hubby changed 10 seconds after we were done. We love the sweaters, just not all together at one time.

But here’s what you also see: we have fun. When the camera isn’t looking, we’re stopping on a trail by the river to “marvel at the splendor of Michigan”. This statement alone has become a joke in our family, when our daughter, on hours-long rides on the back of her father’s tandem road bike says “I’m bored, dad, what do I do?” and he says “Marvel at the splendor of Michigan.” So we say it every time they whine in the car “I’m bored!” or “I want to go home!”  When the camera isn’t looking, we take our kids to breweries and they have root beer and mac n’ cheese, we have flights of craft beer and everyone is happy.

When the camera isn’t looking, the kids love to go to hotels with pools, Grandma and Grandpa’s beach house and our local parks. They like to play hockey and are amazing athletes even if they squabble on the way, and complain that mom ties their skates too loose and dad ties them too tight.

When the camera isn’t looking, we really DO marvel at the splendor of Michigan. And we try to do as much as we can, in lieu of buying more stuff we don’t need to store at our house.

And we focus on what has made today special. That’s where those beautiful photos on Facebook come in. They’re not just a paved-over happy version of us, they ARE us. And they remind us that amidst everything we are a happy family, we have much to be grateful for, most notably just being here at all.

I don’t want my Facebook feed to be everyone whining. In fact, I want you to post your beautiful photos, your happy photos, your traveling photos. Believe me, I DO know that someone peed their pants, someone else cried over something silly and you probably hissed (or yelled) at them both 9,756,423 times that day. I know that your kitchen counter is littered with ‘kid junk’ and school papers, that you left your house with dishes in the sink and Legos on the floor. I also know that last night, you and your spouse put the kids to bed early and snuck off and locked the bedroom door, (giggling like teenagers), jammed something under it to ensure no one would come a-knocking, and you had some peace and quiet (and a bit of fun.) You weren’t thinking of cleaning up the Legos. At least I hope you weren’t!




If you posted how you hated that your spouse didn’t help out, your kids were a mess and your day was a disaster – and I posted the same, and so did your other 198 friends, imagine how depressing it would be to follow social media. All that negativity gets me down, and I’ve left Facebook groups that turn in to whine fests. Frankly, I want your beautiful photos. I want your perfect life. I want to love those posts, hard. Because at the end of the day, those moments are the gratitude moments, the things you are most proud of, most happy to share, and they are the moments that keep you afloat as a person, as a family. They fill your cup right back up. When you look at your own feed (c’mon,  you know you do!) you see all the good stuff. And that makes you feel good!

The photo of us sailing was immediately preceded by whining kids who were scared by the tipping of the boat. They wanted to go in after the first race, but we make them stay out for all three of them so we can qualify for the fleet championship. Hubby and I squabbled over something or another, usually having to do with me not doing something fast enough on the boat and causing us to lose a finishing place. But what I see when I look at that is a family that plays together. And my kids DO love our sailing club, and they DO like sailing. Some of the time anyway. If you want to be sure I’m not kidding, just look at the third person in the boat 😉

Keep it coming. It’s not fake, it’s just the other side of the real you that you want to be, that you strive to be for more minutes today than yesterday.




DIY Cape Scarf Tutorial

Sew Paradise | November 9, 2015 | By

DIY Fleece Scarf-neck cape for bicycling

I have wanted to make a cape with attached scarf for some time – it’s the perfect mix of casual chic and cozy. The good people at Mill Yardage Textiles (yes, those people, the ones who make authentic Polartec polarfleece and sell their seconds at amazing prices to home sewists) posted their latest double-sided ‘tweed’ fleece and asked readers if they’d submit their own ideas for this fleece. I suggested a cape, and they suggested I make it and create a blog tutorial!

Click here to read the full tutorial!DIY Fleece Scarf-neck cape for bicycling

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