How to turn a child’s artwork into a real-life toy

Last fall, a colleague commissioned me to turn her son’s drawing into a stuffed animal. I typically do not take on commissioned work (because I barely have time to finish my own selfish sewing projects), but this one sounded too fun to pass up (and I absolutely adore her son)!

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What I’m Lovin’ in January

Oops! It’s the 1st Friday of February (instead of the last Friday of January) so please forgive me 😉 I still wanted to share what I’ve been lovin’ since the list was so good!

 1. Audiobooks

My sister “taught” me how to access audiobooks with our library membership and I’m hooked.

I’ve been using the Libby app

Books I’ve listened to so far:

  • The Magnolia Story – It was neat to hear the story of Chip & Joanna, but overall not life-changing.
  • A Higher Loyalty by James Comey
  • You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson – recommended by my friend Shanika!
  • Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living – inspired me to revisit the savings-calculating-budget-worksheet I created 6 years ago that’s been collecting dust…
  • The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – Amy reading her own book was hilarious!
I’m looking for recommendations – share your favorite books/audiobooks with me!

 2. Pete The Bear {Free Pattern!}

Andy’s first birthday was this month (all.the.tears.) which means all of her daycare friends are also passing the big milestone. I whipped up Pete the Bear for one of her friend’s birthdays and was delighted at how quickly it came together!

Pete the Bear made by yours truly

I’m definitely planning to make more bears – they’re a great scrap-buster and kid-friendly gift to have on hand. Warren the Charity Bear is also on my “to-sew” list – so cute!

 3. These Parenting Hacks

This list of parenting hacks are genius!

Definitely picking up some 3D paint on my next trip to the craft store…

 4. That buying bulk doesn’t have to break the bank

love Rosewood Market and was thrilled to see their post promoting buying in bulk. Buying in bulk doesn’t have to cost a fortune or require a garage for storage.

You can read more about buying in bulk at Rosewood Market here.

 5. NM Organic’s No Mo B.O. Pit Cream

I met Bex and DeAnna at a conference last summer and was thrilled to discover that they make and sell body care essentials. I have been using their No Mo B.O. Pit Cream since the holidays and absolutely love it! I have tried a few “all-natural” deodorant options and couldn’t find any that I liked. The consistency of the No Mo B.O. Pit Cream is thick but goes on light and works really well. I’m a convert.

Visit the NM Organic shop!

 6. This post about being inclusive

Race and my own privilege is something I’m still wrestling with. As a mother now I feel even more motivated to do.the.work. I want Andy to grow up even more enlightened and accepting than I can hope to be.

I found this post really moving and am working through the recommended resources.

 7. Plastic-free Packaging

Like many folks, I do most of my fabric and supply shopping online. As a working-away-from-the-home mom, every second counts. The less time I can spend driving to a store, cruising the shop to find what I’m searching for, and waiting in line to pay, the more time I have to spend squeezing my favorite little squishy human.

BUT I acknowledge the wastefulness of online shopping. Disposable packaging makes my heart sad. I always try to reuse what I can, but that’s not always possible.

So, finding this list of sewing shops who use plastic-free packaging when shipping orders made me so happy!

Find the list of shops here.

 8. These tips for sustainable decluttering

My husband and I have started watching Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix and I am fascinated. While I love the organizing tips, the magnitude of “stuff” in these homes and watching the “stuff” get bagged and tossed does concern me quite a bit. I do wish the deeper causes were addressed more to focus on prevention (of accumulating stuff in the future) and sustainability (to remain tidy) as they relate to our consumer culture.

I really liked Kate’s perspective – specifically the five things she recommends thinking about instead of joy. Give it a read!

What have you been lovin’ this month? Let me know in the comments so I can jump on your bandwagon!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

What I’ve learned in my first year of motherhood

It is hard to believe, but it has been a full YEAR with Andy in our lives!

Now that the roller-coaster first year of parenting is under my belt, I felt like it was a good time to reflect on what I have learned in the beginning steps of this journey.

Andy, 10.5 months {Portrait by Studio 46}

 

1. I respect my body more now than ever before

Watching your body grow and change so drastically in such a short period of time can be a tough adjustment. For nearly a year, watching your stomach expand and grow was celebrated, but suddenly [literally overnight] the extra weight you’re carrying is less exciting.

In the early days, I was in such a daze from lack of sleep that giving a $h!+ about my jiggly midriff wasn’t even on my radar.

Undeniably, the luxury to care about such trivial things made its way back onto my to-do list. Only this time I had a different perspective. My body created another human. It nourished that little body until every piece of her had grown to perfection and she was ready to enter the world on her own. My body even provided life-sustaining nutrients for this sweet little child for another few months after she was born.

How cool is that?!

Ridiculously cool if you ask me.

So I had a little extra fluff in my mid-section (and still do). If you find yourself in this position, do what I did: buy a good pair of high-waisted leggings (favorites: for work and play). Then wear said-leggings as pants for the next year because YOU CREATED LIFE WITH YOUR BODY (which, in my opinion, exempts you from any obligation to be stylish…ever again).

 

 2. My style has completely changed

I wasn’t expecting this, but the clothes I prefer to wear now are completely different from the outfits that filled my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.

My style was already tilting towards frumpy, but now I’ve totally embraced a preference for what I like to call “uncomplicated silhouettes” (aka: I like the fabric skimming my body not hugging it 😉 ). On the bright side: These styles are so much easier to sew.

I’m not sure if this is more specific to Cesarean births (likely), but previously worn waistlines (some would call these “mid-rise” or the never-worn-by-me “low-rise” pants) are no longer comfortable for me. I happily accepted that and donated all of my jeans to a local middle school.

Also, I now totally understand the phrase “Mom jeans” and I will never, ever [again] judge my Mom for wearing them.

 

 3. Clicking “share” feels like a monumental responsibility

Let’s talk social media.

The urge to share every milestone is intoxicating (in fact, receiving “likes” on Facebook can trigger the release of dopamine). But once something is out there, it moves from being a private experience to a public/shared experience.

As someone who researches social media strategies for fun, this may sound a little wacky, BUT: my husband and I made the decision to share less when it comes to Andy. We are not opposed to sharing pictures and snapshots into our lives with Andy (and we still do), but we try to be conscious with our sharing by reflecting on why we are posting the content before we do.

I could go on and on about this decision, but it really boils down to our focus on Andy as an individual. Her accomplishments are not OUR accomplishments. While we undoubtedly helped her (and will continue to do so throughout her life) to reach these milestones, they are hers.

 

 4. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone (and it really doesn’t matter)

I thought breastfeeding would be a magical bonding experience for Andy and I.

It. Was. Not.

I’ll save the drama for a later post, but needless to say: It didn’t work for us…despite lots of help from Lactation Consultants.

Looking back now, I couldn’t care less.

Andy and I worked our way through a tough season and are forever bonded – not because I fed her at my breast, but because she is a part of me and I am a part of her.

 

 5. Medication is not the enemy

Whether you get an epidural (check) or take medication for your postpartum depression (check), modern medicine is available for a reason. You do not need to suffer to prove you are worthy.

I’m not ashamed that science played a role in both my birth experience and on my parenting journey. I am healthy, happy, and proud to be the person I am.

 

 6. Prioritizing self-care for myself AND my husband is equally important

Self-care for me (sewing, yoga) looks different than it does for my husband (hockey, lacrosse, mountain biking). Before Andy arrived, we had identified the activities that made us feel like our best selves and were already in the habit of setting aside time for these activities. We vowed to continue to do this. And I think we’ve done a good job!

Pouring into ourselves allows us to be the best parents we can be (because you can’t pour from an empty pitcher, right?).

 

 7. Mama doesn’t need wine

As someone who has been sober for many years now, I was already annoyed with the number of gift suggestions for women that always involved wine or that 90% of adult socializing involves alcohol, but being a mom who doesn’t drink wine can really drive home that outcast feeling.

Luckily for me I was already in a comfortable place as the community “Sober Sally.” My avoidance of alcohol bothers others far more than it bothers me.

Yet I can’t help but notice the Mommy-Needs-Wine culture around every corner. Some say it’s masking alcoholism or our need for self-care – whatever the reason, over-simplifying the complexities of motherhood to something that can be “fixed” with a glass of wine devalues the importance our role.

{If you’re interested, here’s a brief-but-good read about Being a Sober Parent in a Wine Mom Culture.}

 

8. Babies create space in and for relationships

Andy’s presence has created both space in existing relationships as well as created space for new relationships.

Distance has slipped into some of my existing relationships. While I may not be in as regular contact with some friends as I was pre-Andy, it does not mean that I’m not thinking about them regularly, sending love and light their way, and also appreciating the space they are allowing my little family. My appreciation for them may be higher than ever before – rather than demanding my focus or energy, they are kindly allowing me to focus that energy on nourishing my budding relationship with Andy. As Andy gets older and our relationship’s foundation grows stronger, I know less of my focus will be required and I will be able to return my energy to these long-standing relationships.

Additionally, Andy’s presence has created space for new relationships. I’m not talking (much) about new people. Rather, becoming Andy’s mother has softened my edges and allowed me to connect with others [who were already in my life] in a way I wasn’t able to before. Not to say “now that I’m a mother, I get it” because I DO NOT, but becoming a mother changed me in ways I could never have foreseen – including allowing me to become closer with certain people who were already in my life.

 

 9. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint

Over the holidays I had a few days off work. Andy went to daycare for several of those days while I stayed at home sewing. I would describe Andy’s current stage as “busy” – she teeters between entertaining herself and demanding more interactive play. It’s a fun stage, but it also requires mental vigilance – my focus can never fully be on a project I’m working on when she’s around. All that said, I took advantage of a few days to myself.

One night I was wondering aloud whether this made me a bad mom when my husband looked me straight in the face and said: “Jordan…parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.” He elaborated that there was no finish line, we were in it for the long haul, and would have [hopefully] endless opportunities to connect with Andy. We are building a life-long relationship. Sending her to daycare for a few hours so she could play with friends and maintain her routine was not something worth worrying over.

 

 10. Routines are soothing for everyone

In the early days when I was exclusively pumping for Andy, I read Baby Wise cover-to-cover…twice (it helped keep me from falling asleep during those middle-of-the-night pumping sessions). My main take-away was that Andy needed a predictable routine. We mastered the recommended SLEEP > EAT > WAKE cycle and began implementing an “evening routine” (bath > bottle > sleep).

To distract Andy (and ourselves) from the “witching hour,” we would take her for a long walk around the neighborhood before her bath. As she got older and the days got shorter (walking around the neighborhood with a baby after dark is a little too scary-movie-esque for me), we replaced walking with “dinner.”

Not only did this predictable cycle of events help Andy acclimate, it also helped US (the parents). We knew what was coming next (or how much longer til bedtime on the hard days).

 

11. It was easier to judge other parents before having a baby of my own

We all know that “Comparison is the thief of joy” and as cliche as it may sound, you know it’s true. Becoming a parent made me realize how complex this role truly is. Every kid is so incredibly different in so many ways that comparing what works for one to what works for another is bonkers.

I also realized that, as parents, we are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have and what we know. Expending energy to compare your kid to my kid or my parenting style or yours is exhausting and so pointless.

Instead, when I see a new mom, I try to make eye contact and give her the most genuine smile I can muster. I want her to know that I see her and I support her. We may walk very different paths, make very different decisions, and have very different children, but we’re doing the best for our families.

 

Andy, 10.5 months {Portrait by Studio 46}

 

What a journey it has been!

Having Andy in our lives is such a gift. I’m continuing to keep my mind (and my heart) open to what lies ahead. So far, nothing has been what I expected. I’m excited see what the future holds!

What I’m Lovin’ in December

 1. This lovely post about handmade gift-giving

I really loved this reflection on what it is like to make and give a handmade gift.

There is love in the decision to make by hand, love in the choice of project and love in the hours spent making. Our handmade gifts are infused with many gorgeous thoughts and feelings and we often seem to simply trust that the recipient will comprehend this…

Jess of Willow and Stitch for Seamwork

 2. This Comb Quilt

I love quilts with meaning and this Bicentennial Comb Quilt has a really neat story!

 3. Becoming a more conscious fabric lover

I didn’t realize that the seemingly innocent act of washing clothes (or fabric) can send plastic into the ocean (source).

As you may know, I’ve been following the zero waste movement and working to reduce my family’s impact on the environment in any way I can. I recently ran across a claim that synthetic fabric leaches microplastic particles with each washing. These microfibers weave their way through the water supply and into rivers and ultimately the ocean.

Now there’s a scary realization.

As a garment sewist, I have slowly become more knowledgeable about the different fibers and the benefits of each (and which I prefer to work with and wear). I know that synthetic fabric is readily available both as yardage as well as ready-to-wear garments so the opportunity for impact is there for all of us whether we realize it or not.

Through my research spiral I found Patagonia’s GuppyFriend Washing Bag – it’s claim to fame: “protects synthetic garments and reduces the amount of microfibers that may enter rivers and oceans from washing”

GuppyFriend Washing Bag from Patagonia

This bag is on my wish list!

You can read more about microfiber pollution here.

 4. Instagram Stories

It took me a little while to jump on the Instagram-Stories-Train, but I like them! AND Buffer now has a free tool you can use to create graphics for Instagram stories! Try it out here.

{Click the image to hear How to Make an IG Story: 10 Great Instagram Tools to Use}

5. Craftfulness

I loved this article about craftfulness and how creating can positively impact mental health.

6. The Experts on Experts podcast

My husband sent me a link to this episode of the Experts on Experts podcast. From the discussion of our call-out culture to Jonathan Haidt’s view on parenting independent children, I was holding onto the edge of my earbuds the whole time – such thought-provoking viewpoints.

I also enjoyed this interview with Jerry Buting and this one with Dr. Drew.

 7. A Holiday Break

I have been soaking up time lately with family and lots of holiday festivities. I hope you have been having a lovely holiday season as well!

Happy New Year!

What have you been lovin’ this month? Let me know in the comments so I can jump on your bandwagon!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

What I’m Lovin’ in November

Winter trampled all over Fall this year and we went straight to freezing. Between the crazy weather shift and having a germy baby this season, I spent most of the month sick 😦 I’m feeling better now and excited to share what I’ve been lovin’ with you!

 1. This 5th grader who wrote a children’s book about depression

A fifth grade student at one of the elementary schools in the district in which I work wrote a book for children about dealing with depression.

Once I saw the story, I immediately ordered the book.

 2. My sewing tip was featured in Maker’s Journal

I recently submitted a tip and it was chosen to be featured in Closet Case Patterns‘ Maker Journal (vol. 14).

{Click the image to read the full issue}

A friend of mine is actually to credit for this tip – she told me about it many moons ago and now I trace all of my patterns with freezer paper! You can find freezer paper pretty readily at most grocery stores (this is what I use).

Submit your own tip here & sign up to receive future Closet Case Patterns newsletters here.

 3. These holiday rules

I know I’m not the only one that gets stressed out at the holidays. On that note, I saw this and had to share.

Be kind to yourself this season.

 4. Tips from Waste Free Living

Earlier this month I stumbled upon Waste Free Planet on Instagram and fell head-over-heels for their posts!

They share lots of tips on reducing your waste as well as waste-reducing DIYs. A few of my favorites:

 5. #icareaboutwaste Challenge

This month I participated in the #icareaboutwaste Challenge on Instagram hosted by Sew in Love and Sustainable Wraps.

Click the image to read more about this challenge

 6. This post about sewing for an insulin pump

I really appreciated this post about sewing for an insulin pump on the Sewcialists blog. Sewing allows us a lot of “flexibility” with modifying and constructing clothing to fit our needs – something I often take for granted.

 7. Slow cooker vegetarian chili

This is perhaps THE EASIEST recipe I have ever made. For years I’ve been searching for the perfect chili recipe that did not require me to pre-cook my vegetables. Well, folks, HERE it is!

Top it with avocado – DELICIOUS!

 8. These 7 Things That Shouldn’t Impress Us Anymore from becomining minimalist

My favorite quote from the article:

But I’m starting to wonder if we have been using the wrong measure. Maybe the number of dollars in a bank account is not the greatest measurement of success. Maybe instead, the amount of good we are able to accomplish with our lives is a truer measure of success.

 9. A system for managing sewing waste

In Sarah’s post How I Am Learning to be More Sustainable on the Sewcialists blog, she mentioned a 4-bin system for waste in her sewing room: recyclables, fabric scraps to recycle, things that cannot be recycled, and thread scraps and bits of material to reuse for stuffing a pillow (brilliant!).

I loved her ideas and hope to implement them in my sewing room too!

 10. Holiday Gift ideas

In case you missed it, I shared 10 Environmentally-friendly gifts and a few of my favorite DIY lip balm recipes.

Are you planning to DIY any holiday gifts? I’d love to hear your ideas!

What have you been lovin’ this month? Let me know in the comments so I can jump on your bandwagon!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}