Our son arrived at 11:35 pm on August 21, 8 lbs 1 oz and 20 inches of kicking, deep-throated vigor.

Briefly, here is our birth story.

Pregnancy wasn’t too bad, and by 3 weeks out from the due date, he was well-positioned and things were progressing. But a week later, he had moved. In fact, he kept moving up until delivery. We had several ultrasounds which showed his range of motion – from breech to transverse, even moving significantly between the ultrasound and the doctor’s visit minutes later! My doctor moved him into position a few times, but he never stayed long. We agreed to wait, watch, and see.

His due date came and went. He still flipped! But labor was nowhere near. Finally, we scheduled a c-section for a few days after 41 weeks.

That morning emotions were intense. Surgery was set for 4 pm. At 3:45, my doctor came in for one last ultrasound – and Baby was in position, head down!

It took a few minutes to develop a new plan, but we agreed to induce. Pills, pitocin, panic, and an epidural later, I was pushing for an hour, my husband holding one limp leg, our fabulous nurse holding the other. And then, through myopic eyes (since no amount of Nerd Wax could keep my glasses on under the oxygen mask), a slippery, wriggling thing spun into the world and defiantly claimed his stake in life.

I am skipping some of the details – the bruises on his head from hitting my pelvis with each push; the NICU personnel on hand since we discovered meconium in the water when the doctor finally broke it; the emotions and second-guessing that eventually led to choosing every intervention despite being well-informed on best-case natural birth scenarios. I don’t want to dwell on those unpleasantries but rather be thankful for a safe, healthy baby and a speedy recovery for me.

Life has changed. We are grateful for every supportive friend, family member, and awesome medical professional. Never have I felt so helpless, dependent, and needy. Never have I seen my husband in such form. I have fallen in love with him like never before. 

Everyone says it gets easier, but it seems a slow death to a previous reality. I miss fabric as much as I miss sleep! And I don’t know what I would do if this kid weren’t so cute. But every morning means new mercy, and we did choose a name to declare God’s kindness, meaning, “God’s grace is my rock.” That’s grace to go minute by minute, grace to forgive myself, grace to take pleasure in a moment and let that be good enough.

I don’t know when I’ll sew again. I don’t know when I’ll post again. But we will make it. This is God’s adventure, not mine, and the less I see of my own plan, the more is His – and thus the more He has responsibility to see it through! And we know He is working all of it together for good, and He who promised is faithful.

“He has given me my heart’s desire and has not withheld the request of my lips.”

“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Yes, I have a good inheritance.”

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

How do you properly thank an extravagantly generous quilter? You make her a mini-quilt! In the past few months, I have three amazing friends who have given their time, talents, and joy to bless my family. Finding words was not enough, so instead I did a bit of research on what they enjoy – styles they use in their own work, photos they post, fabrics and textures and approaches – and attempted to make them something they would love. One of these will be delivered today, and the others await a trip to the post office, but hopefully they won’t mind spoilers!
“Follow the White Rabbit” was inspired by a quote from the original Matrix film. I like the sentiment of going on an adventure, following clues into the divine purpose of life, meeting unexpected characters, and having new experiences. Can you detect the hand-stitched rabbit trail through the quilting?

Next is a combination of traditional and modern for a Denyse Schmidt fan. I combined traditional hand-stitched cathedral window form with some of the newer, machine-stitched iterations I’ve seen in blog land. I like that the results aren’t too refined, but the hand-stitched elements reflect a lot of love.

Finally, my homage to the Caribbean island Dominica (pronounced dom-in-EEK-ah), the place where my friend grew up and recently visited again with her husband. She uses a lot of raw-edged appliqué and batiks in her work, so I played her way to reflect some of the beauties in her travel pictures. The island is more known for its jungle than its beaches, so I omitted the ocean and instead focused on the little towns and Mother and Father waterfalls inland. I had to add my friend’s favorite hibiscus and even a few scraps from the quilt I made her years ago. This one will be delivered today after another delivery is made… But more on that later. 

I’ve really enjoyed making these minis! They are quite gratifying and fun with quick turn-around and payoff. They are also a great way to experiment with new techniques. I’m sure you will see more minis from me in the future!

I finished my new purse (using this tutorial)! I tend to wear a lot of black, white, and grey, so I chose favorite prints from my stash. “Ghost bunny” was my first Cotton and Steel fabric purchase. I figured hoarding a favorite fabric would not give as much joy as using it for something getting as much practical, daily use as this. Now it’s done, I know I made a great choice!


I made it more complicated than I needed to in hindsight, but I am so pleased with the way it turned out! Instead of webbing, I made the strap from fabric and a bit of batting. The slider was rescued from a thrifted jacket I took apart awhile ago. I used batting scraps as a layer of lining and did a little subtly-colored hand stitching on the outside. I also lined the bag in denim, and this made inserting the grommets more time-consuming. But oh! It’s worth it. I’m so thankful it’s done and I can use it! 

Linking up with the 2015 Finish-A-Long!

For my eleventh birthday, I received Felicity, an American Girl doll. Soon after, my grandmother taught me how to sew on her sewing machine by making doll clothes. I still have those patterns, so when my flower girl pulled out her AG catalogue to show me what she wanted for her birthday, I was inspired! It just so happens that I keep my doll trunk on hand, so Felicity was available for fittings and modeling.

The Internet is rife with free AG doll patterns, so I used two for a pair of starry fleece pants and striped tee made from a top I rescued from the Goodwill pile. (Sadly, I am unable to find the original links to those patterns!) The tutu was inspired by a ruffled skirt tutorial, and the cherry dress was a modification of the original paper patterns I used with my grandmother.

Finally, knowing my little friend is very creative and eager to learn to sew, I included a hand-written coupon for either one doll outfit or one doll quilt, made with my help, of course! I hope she is inspired and empowered from the experience! I can’t wait for her birthday party this weekend and spending time sewing with her later!

How many of my third quarter sewing goals can I accomplish before our baby arrives? Here’s hoping for a few more!

Anna Maria Horner’s book Handmade Beginnings includes a pattern for a newborn sleep sack. The pattern calls for it to be made kimono-style with overlapping velcro tab closures. Having babysat for children using sleep sacks before, I opted to modify the pattern in favor of a zipper closure.

Figuring out how to put it together took a little bit of trial-and-error, especially since cognitive prowess is at an all-time low due to “baby brain”. But in the end it came together! The flannel back and lining are a print from JoAnns, one of very few non-cutesy, non-stereotypical boy themed prints I could find. The pieced front is tacked with a bit of embroidery thread, and the tab at the top covers the zipper pull, finishing with Velcro. A bit of leftover bias binding finishes the armholes and collar.

Now we are just waiting for the little guy to find the exit! Who knows – maybe by the time you read this, he will already be here!

Linking up with the 2015 Finish-A-Long!

Hooray! Another goal completed! A few years ago, I was part of the Sew Blues Bee and requested bow tie blocks. I had the top pieced before moving to England in 2013, so it sat safely in storage while I was away. Gracious Maria did a phenomenal job long-arming it, playing with rosettes and textures to set off the one raspberry ring. As I type, I’m cuddled under it on the couch (feeling tiny punches and kicks on my innards!), loving the drapiness created by the dense lines and flowing loops. I grew so much in my sewing through that bee, and as some of the ladies included extra bow ties using their own fabrics, I feel their kindness and camaraderie through it! 

Linking up with the 2015 Finish-A-Long!



Looking back, it seems I finished these blocks a year before completing the quilt. They were the last big non-wedding project I worked on. Now, as my husband and I approach our one-year anniversary and the any-day-now birth of our son, we have this quilt to celebrate the best bits of how life has changed for us.

Setting the blocks, piecing the back, and bringing it to my fabulous long-arming friend Maria were part of my goals for the first quarter of the year. In the “make it your own” spirit of the book, I added ten extra blocks, pieced from favorite scraps with improvised design. (Several are visible towards the bottom of the last photo.) This made the quilt a proper size and shape for our bed and, if I can stretch it, reinforced the analogy of “quilt-as-life” – making space for the unplanned beauties that can emerge when committing fully and letting go of control.

Over the course of a few nondescript days (spent watching seasons of Project Runway Australia on YouTube), I finished binding the quilt. Rather than straight-cut double-fold binding, I used what was left of the scrappy bias binding I created for my Generations II quilt, the one combining a top by my great-grandmother with a back from my mother and hand-tied with crochet thread from my grandmother. It seemed appropriate to nod to heritage as we step into this new phase of life.

My patience husband served as my quilt holder in the bright morning light. I didn’t belabor the process for the sake of his arms, so the blocks might not be clearly visible. But you can see the delightful texture of Maria’s quilting! I love how it unifies each unique block into a complete whole. Kind of like the experiences of these past few years – every little bit of effort coming together for a beautiful end result!

Linking up with the 2015 Finish-A-Long!

I can hardly believe we are halfway through the year! July is blazing along, so it is time to set some goals for the next three months:


  • Farmer’s Wife blocks:  I’ve had a bit of unexpected time to work on hand-sewing, so I’ve been piecing FW blocks. I cannot imagine doing all 111 this way, so I would like to figure out what to do with the ones I have, especially since, despite flaws, they are coming out so strikingly!

  • Ghost Bunny purse:  I typically begin new eras in life with a new tote bag or purse. This time I want to use a favorite fabric – “Ghost Bunnies” from Cotton & Steel. I am adding some kantha-style stitches to give it more personality, and the bold magenta will be an accent.

  • X-Plus Quilt:  I have about 23 of 70 blocks pieced at present, but the rest are sewn together in stages and ready for finishing. I would love to completely finish this quilt this quarter! It is a big task, but I would rather aim high.

  • Soaking Quilt:  I have one more soaking quilt ready for basting, quilting and binding. I would love to finish it this quarter!
  • Color Punch II:  This is another quilt (not pictured) all ready for completion. I just need some floor space and motivation to crawl around on all fours to get it basted!

  • Long-armed quilts:  I have a throw-sized quilt and my Tula Pink City Sampler still in the keeping of my long-armer friend. Whenever we can get our schedules worked out, I will get them from her and bind them. This third quarter ought to provide me plenty of time, right?

  • Baby Sleep Sack:  speaking of time, I only have a little bit more before my baby arrives! I checked out Anna Maria Horner’s book “Handmade Beginnings” from the library and decided to make a modified version of her newborn sleep sack. I have all the components cut out, but I need to finish piecing scraps for the front. This project takes priority as Baby is coming soon!

Does giving birth count as a completion? If so, I will definitely add that to my list. It is a goal I am sure to accomplish this quarter – and hopefully within a month! I have plenty of little bits of baby sewing I have not blogged, but once I have the proper model, you can expect to see all of it!


Linking up with the 2015 Finish-Along!

Sometimes I have things to say that have nothing to do with sewing. This is one of those times.

I have two personal goals for my life that, if I accomplish them by the end of it, I will consider myself successful. First, I want to learn how to love. Second, I want to be kind. If all you ever know about me is that you felt love and experienced kindness through me, then I will be satisfied.

That is the lens I am doing my best to use as I address the topic of gay marriage.

Two more things you need to know about me: I follow Jesus Christ, and my brother is gay.

Please understand, I do not relish conflict. I grew up in a culture where it was demanded that personal beliefs be rigorously researched, and inferior arguments reflected the inadequacy or illegitimacy of the belief. The results of said arguments left the losing party feeling rejected, misunderstood, and unloved. So my reticence to engage with controversial topics is, by admission, a learned, self-protective behavior.

But when someone I love more than words could ever express came out a decade ago, I was sent on a journey into the depths of my own heart, my own fears, and my own faith. Now, in light of the polarizing nature of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, and recognizing that behind many vehemently-expressed beliefs is real pain and some confusion, I think it is time to speak.

There are several principles that guide my perspective on the matter of gay marriage. First, each individual person does not exist alone but represents his or her family, culture, whatever groups he or she belongs to, and his or her ancestry. So as much as I am my own unique self, I am also a female, White, Southern, Christian, middle-class, university-educated, English-Scottish-Irish-German-Cherokee American 30-year-old pregnant newlywed in 2015. The values of these groups, both good and ill, have nurtured my innate genetic composition to shape who I am, and though I might not exhibit all qualities associated with these groups, I am comfortable representing them.

I believe this principle is important in addressing gay marriage because the complexities of the issue depend on the interplay between individuals and groups. As with any controversial issue, cases might be made to defend individual situations, thus allowing for the creation of arbitrary, exclusionary criteria on both sides. But such criteria only further confusion between sides, and as it is a much lighter cognitive (and, in this case, emotional and spiritual) load to generalize the characteristics of an opposing group rather than understand its nuances, an individual, case-by-case approach is seldom used. Hence the parades, demonstrations, and stereotypes.

This reflects my second principle: multiple realities exist depending on how individuals experience the same situation. What is inoffensive to one person is extremely hurtful to the other. One party may not intend to hurt the other, but the innocence of one’s motives does not negate the consequences (i.e. experience of pain) affecting the other. (I am sure that few drunk driving incidents are motivated by people desiring to cause suffering, yet no one begrudges victims and their families the right to strong emotional reactions, however penitent the sobered driver may become.)

I don’t think Christians who publicize their Biblically-based beliefs about homosexuality do so with the intent of causing pain. I would imagine they are applying the phrase “speak the truth in love” to the best of their abilities. But the motive to love can get lost in translation (ask any pregnant woman with an aversion to belly rubs), and I postulate that it is rare for a gay person to feel loved when, for example, Bible verses are quoted at them.

This relates to the fundamental question which divides sides: is homosexuality biologically based, or is it learned behavior? Each side has its reasons for believing the way it does, solid evidence and proofs based in experience and third-party input (such as the Bible, research journals, or anecdotal evidence from others). These perspectives are, I believe, both valid, for if I can say that my personal experience with the Love of God through Jesus convinced me of His truth, then I must also allow that others’ personal experiences are equally valid in drawing them to their conclusions. Beliefs shape realities. The failure to validate or acknowledge a different reality negates the possibility of relationship.

And relationship is key. It is, in the end, the only thing that matters in a Christian worldview. The phrase “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” motivates evangelists and believers to continue in their faith, to “preach the gospel”, “go forth into all the world, teaching them to believe”. The Bible reflects a resurrected Christ who has delegated authority to those that follow Him, such that, as much as Almighty God limited Himself to become a human capable of experiencing suffering and death, so He has also limited Himself to partnering with people to accomplish His will. It is God’s desire to demonstrate His love through people who love Him.

That puts the proverbial ball in Christians’ court. If we are interested in following the Father of Jesus Christ, then we are interested in loving. It then behooves us not just to love from our own perspective but to learn whether what we consider loving is actually effective in accomplishing our intent. (Does that mama really want her belly rubbed, or do I take the time to respectfully ask if my touch is welcome? Maybe she’d consider $10 for diapers a more salient means of expressing affection for her child.)

Sometimes the hardest question to ask is, “How are you experiencing me?” Does my behavior make you feel safe or defensive, accepted or rejected, happy or angry? What about my words? Trust is the foundation of relationship, so if someone cannot trust me, then there is little chance that person will listen to what I have to say. My well-intentioned Scripture quotation is a “clanging gong” – there is no love detected by the listener.

Best practices in conflict resolution often refer to making “I-statements”, but it takes a tremendous amount of courage and trust to articulate the tenderest parts of one’s heart, especially when the person one is addressing has not demonstrated trustworthiness, but often the opposite. I cannot say I have had many frank conversations with my brother about how my faith makes him feel, or even how he experiences me, but I can make an educated guess. To simplify the exchange, I like the sentence, “I feel _______ when you ______.”

I imagine him saying something like this: “I feel rejected when you tell me homosexuality is a sin.” Or he might say, “I feel hurt / confused / angry / defensive / unsafe / afraid / sad / alone / annoyed / misunderstood / misrepresented / unable to relate to you / shut down / disgusted / unloved / helpless / judged / belittled / accused / grieved / ashamed / hated / apathetic / numb…” If my expression of love – “speaking the truth in love” – is eliciting any of those emotions, whether or not I as an individual caused them (here is where group identity comes into play – I acknowledge that as a representative of a group, I appear responsible for things which I personally had no hand in instigating), then I have failed to communicate love. If I love this person, then the impetus is mine to change how I am communicating until I have accomplished my goal. And that can begin with something as simple as an apology: “I am so, so sorry that you felt those things as the result of my behavior. That was not at all what I wanted. How can I help you to regain your trust in me?” In saying so, I invite Jesus to partner with me to express unconditional love to this person. It is His responsibility to change hearts. It is mine to give Him the opportunity.

But how can someone experience love without trust? And how can I be trusted when I represent the enemies of one’s heart? And if I am not actively pursuing the demonstration of an opposite reality than the current one (i.e. “Christians hate me, so God must hate me”), then I am working against the One whom I profess to represent.

The Bible asks, “What shall separate us from the love of God?” God forbid the answer be, “Christians.” So as a follower of Jesus Christ, let me take the time now to examine my heart, to make relationship my highest priority, to acknowledge and validate the pain of those whom Christians have rejected, to “bind up the broken-hearted”, and to create an experience of kindness instead.

My ability to love has nothing to do with the Supreme Court, nor whether the Bible I believe in condones a dissenting perspective. The New Testament is full of stories in which Jesus’s best friends disagree with Him, yet He continued to love, even until the very end, even this very day. How much more is He accepting of people who have every reason to dismiss Him, having no experience of the love He embodies. How dare I approach Him in any other manner than to say, “If I’m going to fall, let it be from leaning towards learning to love.”

Because this is one of my life’s goals: to learn how to love. If I do not take into account the fact that my expressions of love might be ineffective, then I have ceased to learn, and I have failed.

Jesus commands two things: love God, and love others. This fulfills the Bible. This is what life is about. Anything hindering that is not worth mentioning.

P.S. To J & A: I love you. That is all.


For one of my goals this quarter, I decided to try to finish some quilts I’d started years ago but never finished. This was one of them! After making a bright, bold baby quilt for a friend, I took the same approach for myself, piecing favorite chunks of colorful scraps together and selecting a thrifter sheet for the backing. Because the front is so busy, I went with a single-color binding. As I quilted spontaneous zigzag lines, I noticed a stain on the backing, so I hand-stitched a random charm square to hide it! I quite like the effect!

After washing and crinkling, the quilt finishes at 53×72 inches, just right for a light-weight throw! I love how it turned out, and I love finding fun, memory-filled fabrics in it. I think it will inspire fun “I Spy” games in the future!


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