after my own heart

their first "quilts"

their first "quilts"

I’ve been giving the girls little sewing lessons lately, and it’s just been the best.  I love hearing Bev run around talking about “feed dogs” while she plays, and Len asking me questions to learn more and more and more.

We worked on these doll blankets for a few days, letting them change the thread color and choose different decorative stitches.

I can see their personalities so perfectly in these.  Lenna used every color and every stitch.  Bev, on the other hand, stuck very firmly to purple hearts, with the exception of her last stitch, where she ventured out to green.

They’re so proud of these “quilts”, as they call them, and keep bundling their baby dolls up in them.

Now all Lenna can talk about is making a skirt.  Hmmmmm….

confession \\ downsizing

downsizing \\ yellow spool

downsizing \\ yellow spool

downsizing \\ yellow spool

Over the past five years or so, I’ve become what might be verging on minimalist.  I don’t know what qualifies someone as an actual “minimalist”, nor do I care, but this is a topic that I’ve had on the mind quite a bit lately.  I’m almost constantly analyzing my space and wondering what I need and what I can do without.  Are my minifying habits unhealthy?  Ungrateful?  Irresponsible?

As newlyweds, my husband and I had a lot of stuff.  Clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets, clothes, books, shoes, more clothes… you get it. After several moves I started to feel silly about the large boxes dedicated entirely to things like winter accessories, and picture frames.  Things that we didn’t NEED.  I started to get rid of things.  A lot of things.

At first, Rauland thought it was a little silly.  So while I purged my un-necessaries, he hung on to his trinkets.  Soon he started to see that maybe less really is more, and together, we made a lifestyle choice.  If we didn’t need it or use it, we didn’t really keep it.  Boy Scouts everywhere would grimace at how ill-prepared this mentality is.  (That said, we do have basic camping gear, 72 hour kits, and a decent food storage).

The photos above show our clothes rack.  What you see is both mine and Rauland’s entire wardrobes.  That’s not entirely true, our jackets are in the coat closet, and we have a few items in the laundry, but basically, yes, that is what we wear.  My personal wardrobe breakdown is as follows:

Shirts: 10
Sweaters/cardigans: 5
Dresses: 5
Skirts: 5
Pants/shorts: 4
Pajama pants: 3
Pajama shirts: 5
Shoes: 6 pair (running, loafers, sandals, rain boots, 2 dress flats)
Sweatshirts/coats: 4

You think I’m crazy, don’t you?  The truth is, I love having a simple closet.  Getting ready is easy.  I love the things I own.  Laundry is never a real hassle.

But this trend extends farther than my wardrobe.  For instance, we only have 4 dinner plates.  We decided if we were ever going to be feeding more than four people we’d just assume use paper plates, because we’re lazy like that.  I don’t want to wash more dishes than I have to.  With the exception of a few wall hangings we got for our wedding, we don’t have decorations.  We “decorate” with the things we use.  I think it’s part of what drove me to open my shop.  I see beauty in functional art.  And to me, quilts and pillows are absolutely functional.

See, the way we see it we’re simplifying our lives by only keeping the important stuff.  But I don’t think outsiders always see it that way.  I worry that our friends and family find us difficult to shop for, because they know we’re particular about the things we keep around the house.  This.  THIS is the entire reason I ever question our lifestyle choice.  I hate feeling like we’re ungrateful recipients.

So here’s my question: does downsizing make someone a big fat heartless jerk?  Or is it understandable that we all choose to live our own ways?
And I’d love to know: are you a hoarder or a purger? What’s your story?

sewing with babes

In my free sewing with kids e-course I suggest teaching kids ages 8+.  So these past few weeks, as Lenna has been begging me to teach her to sew, I diverted her attention elsewhere, assuming she wasn’t ready.  She is only three, afterall.

sewing with babes \\ yellow spool

But she persisted.  And I gave it a go.  You should have seen the process, trying to set her up at a sewing machine.  She’s a very small three-year-old, so I had to set up several books on her chair, and prop the foot pedal on her stool + books, as well.  It was awesome.

sewing with babes \\ yellow spool

I took out the needle and explained the presser foot + feed dogs to her (using the concepts from this lesson) and she understood it so well.  I just watched, as she’d try to sew with the presser foot up, and quickly realize why it wasn’t working, and then would lower the presser foot before trying again.  Before I knew it she was exploring the machine.  She was using the reverse stitch, and telling me how it goes backwards, and adjusting the speed on the machine.  I watched her concentrate.  I watched her learn.  It was such a new experience for both of us.  A very good one.

sewing with babes \\ yellow spool

While I didn’t think she was ready at first, I wasn’t surprised that Lenna loved sewing (can you call it sewing if we didn’t use a needle and thread?)  But what I didn’t expect was that Bev would wind down from her usual turbo mode and sit to listen and learn, as well.  Bev wasn’t strong enough to operate the foot pedal, so I had to help her with that, but I’ve never seen her so focused on anything.  Ever.

I think this has opened us up to a whole new world.  What else are they capable of?  What else can I be teaching them?!

yellow spool labels

DIY sewing labels \\ yellow spool

When I whip something up for the kids I put in a little heart label, and when I make something yellow spool related, I use my logo.  If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen this a few days ago.

Each label is sewn onto grosgrain ribbon, and it’s a process that I’m sort of addicted to.  Rather than ordering professional labels in bulk, I save a few bucks, and add a personal touch to my work by making the labels myself.  My signature, if you will.

I just made an entire spool of them, and it feels good to be re-stocked and ready to sew!

the display

yellow spool quilts and pillows

One of my goals for my new business is to try to sell at some local craft shows and fairs.  It’s a little overwhelming for me, because I’ve never done anything like it before, but I do think it’d be an incredible experience to be surrounded by other creative vendors, and get to know some neighbors with similar interests.

The idea is great and all, but applying is scary for me.  I fear rejection, and feel inadequate.  I thought all of the silly efforts to feel accepted by other people would end the day I graduated high school, but I suppose that’s not just an adolescent characteristic, it’s a human one – to display our best, in hopes that someone accepts it.

The trick is to use this as motivation, without letting the opinions of others steer us, I suppose. Have you ever felt this way? How do you stay confident and true to yourself?