winter coat in progress

i have been sucked into another big sewing project. i fully intended to take a break & stick with instant gratification one-day projects for a while after working my fingers to the bone on the hand-quilted paper-pieced quilt. i didn’t use a thimble consistently while i was quilting that beast, & the skin on my thumb is still peeling off. isn’t that a beautiful image? for a few weeks, you could actually see fresh pink flesh between the big cracks of dead skin. it’s a lot better now, but i have learned my lesson: use a thimble, dude.

anyway, my new big project is a winter coat. although it’s considerably less time-consuming than the quilt, it’s still not a quick project.


i’m making mccall’s 6800, view D, which is the blue coat on the pattern envelope. it has twelve princess panels, two-piece set-in sleeves, in-seam pockets, a funnel collar, & a detachable hood. during the veterans day sale at hancock fabrics, i snagged this gray plaid wool blend for the exterior & pink satin for the lining. i also bought some button-covering kits & a roll of batting to underline the body of the coat for extra warmth. since this is the first coat i have ever made, i decided not to splash out on anything too fancy. i’ve seen people on the internet using lambswool & hair canvas, but i decided not to spend big money on luxury materials for a coat that i might totally fuck up during construction. i think it’s crazy enough that i’m using plaid across twelve princess seams!

i dove in last friday & tackled the FBA. my high bust measurement indicated that a size 16 should fit perfectly through the shoulders, but i needed extra room in the full bust & waist. i used mary’s princess seam FBA tutorial as a starting point & added 2″ (for a total of 4″). i only added the extra width to the front side panel, since i guessed that that’s more or less where the bust apex would be. i kept the width & added it to the waist & then added extra length to the two other front panels to make everything match up.

my goal for last weekend was to make a muslin. i assumed it would take forever because, you know, it’s a great big coat with twelve panels! but now i see why mccall’s categorizes this pattern as “easy”. it actually only took me about an hour to sew it up. if a person was just doing a basic coat with no interlining & machine-made buttonholes, this could easily be a weekend project, even including cutting & marking.

i sewed my muslin out of an old wool blanket to mimic the weight of the coat materials, & tried it on over a sweater, like i would wear the finished coat. & lo & behold, it fit just about perfectly! i felt like maybe there was a little excess fabric in the upper middle chest, but i was reluctant to mess with it too much because i don’t know how it will fit once facings & closures are in. the shoulders fit perfectly as is, so i didn’t want to mess with the chest & inadvertently make an alteration that would cause pulling in the shoulders.

since the muslin was so quick to come together, i decided to futz around a little with plaid-matching across all those seams. i decided to only worry about matching the top. the skirt is so full & voluminous, any matching or non-matching that happens there will just be lost in the folds of fabric.

i decided to try to match at the notches where the front panels come together, & then across the upper sleeve. i matched the undersleeve to the upper starting at the hem, & matched the back across the upper sleeve starting at the shoulder. once i got into the groove, it was pretty easy. i bought an extra 3/4 of a yard for pattern-matching, which wound up being more than enough fabric, even with the width & length additions.


i spent another day zigzagging the batting interlining to the satin lining, & then i sewed the lining back together to use it as a pattern for drafting a back stay. the pattern includes steps for interfacing the collar & front, but i also added interfacing to the hem & back. my wool has a tendency to want to stretch, so i’m hoping this will help it hold its shape better.


incidentally, those lines you are seeing aren’t puckers. this thing is pucker-free. the satin just has no stretch whatsoever, so it resolves into little wrinkles at the curves when it’s hanging free likes this.

at some point along the way, i lost my mind & decided to do bound buttonholes. not just down the front (where i am adding an extra button, since i added 3.5″ of extra length during the FBA), but also on the hood, where six buttons attach the hood to the coat. so there will be thirteen buttons altogether. i barely even have any experiencing doing regular buttonholes on my machine! forget bound buttonholes!

but i came across a dritz bound buttonhole maker on the notions wall at hancock. for $4, why not try it? i googled it after i bought it & discovered that it has been out of production for a long time, & vintage buttonhole tools from the 60s were being sold for like $50 a pop on ebay. apparently dritz just started producing them again like maybe a year ago.

the directions were really intimidating. there were like 24 steps. i practicedwith scraps of my coat fabric &…it was actually insanely easy! yes, a bit time-consuming, & yes, it’s terrifying to take scissors to your garment & slash it open. it’s also counter-intuitive to me to sew on to the front of the garment. but my samples turned out pretty well!

i used 1/2″ buttons for the hood & covered them in the pink lining satin. i used 1″ buttons for the front & covered them with some glittery black chambray i had in the stash.


i’m a little conflicted. should all the buttons be covered in the same fabric? if so, should they all be black or should they all be pink? i was planning to use my coat exterior fabric in the bound buttonholes, but what if i used the pink instead? the problem there is that they’d stand out a lot more, & if they came out janky, that would be an issue. plus i already cut out all the squares to use the plaid wool.

anyway. i’m hoping to finish the coat by the end of the weekend. i’ve been trying to only work on it during ramona’s naps or when she is with jared, since i kind of checked out of my momming duties while i was finishing the quilt. ramona doesn’t mind when i sew, but i don’t want to push it too much. wish me luck!

achievement unlocked: queen-sized fitted sheet

this is a project that has been on my to-do list for many a moon.


jared is very relieved that it’s finally done.

we were down to our last fitted sheet, & the elastic on it was completely worn out. on more than one occasion, i inadvertently tucked myself in under the fitted sheet in the dark because it had come untucked, & then wondered why i felt so constrained. (it was because jared was asleep on the other half of the sheet.) jared washed the sheet the other day & asked if i could put in some new elastic. i decided that, rather than do that, i’d just make us a new sheet like i’d been promising to do for like six months.

this sheet required about six yards of fabric. i had to sew a seam down the middle to achieve the correct width, & i had to piece the lower left quadrant because i didn’t have quite enough yardage. one thing i will say: making your own fitted sheets is a pretty great stashbuster project. i never really loved this particular colorway of melody miller’s viewfinder print fabric, & now all i have left is a few scraps. i mean, sure, now i’m technically seeing it everyday because it’s on my bed, but i’m usually asleep when i’m in bed, & i’m a big advocate for making your bed when you’re not in it, so i never really have to look at it.

so. you cut your enormous length of fabric & you cut boxes out of each corner. you hem any unfinished edges (just the top & bottom here because the sides were selvage, which doesn’t unravel & hence does not need to be hemmed), sew your boxes together to make corners, apply elastic to the corners, & done! it’s honestly a pretty fast project if you don’t have to piece much. making crib sheets would be especially easy, because the required width is about 44″–same as the width of fabric from a lot of manufacturers. you wouldn’t have to piece at all! in half an hour or less, you can impress your parent-to-be friends with custom handmade crib sheets. makes a great baby shower gift!

but of course, you can customize your sheets to any size using the following formula:

length = depth of bed x 2 + length of bed + 2

width = depth of bed x 2 + width of bed + 2

square = depth of bed + 2

& then four 12″ pieces of elastic to sew to the corners.

i did flat-felled seams for every seam where i had to piece together the required fabric, to make sure the seams were really flat & strong. a lot of people online are like, “ugh, who wants to have a seam running right down the middle of your sheet?!” well, really, you can put your seams anywhere. you can run them across the width of the sheet instead of the length. you can make the middle of the sheet one big width with two narrower widths sewn to either side. you can be creative with it.

but also, who are these princesses who can’t handle a seam on their sheet? obviously i share my bed with jared, so neither one of us sleeps in the middle. we are each on our own sides. but i sleep in the middle when he’s not around (like if i’m napping) & the seam doesn’t bother me at all. i don’t know if i’m weird or other people have been brainwashed by Big Sheet or what.

the corners should be zigzagged together so they have a little stretch to them. the elastic should be stretched & zigzagged in place, aiming for 10″ or 11″ on either side of each corner.

making this sheet was not particularly complicated, but it wasn’t the most fun i’ve ever had with a sewing project. i kind of felt like i HAD to do it so we’d have a functional sheet to sleep on, like, that night, rather than it being something i wanted to do. & i felt like i was working against the clock because i was trying to get it done during ramona’s nap. i worked super-fast & didn’t really bother to be super-precise with my cutting & stitching. (you will note that some selvage is visible in my piecing. whatevs!)

but you know what? it fits our bed PERFECTLY. we have a lot of random memory foam pads & mattress toppers & stuff on top of our mattress, so we have a deeper-than-average mattress. because this was custom-made to our mattress’s exact measurements, it fits better than any sheet we have ever had. jared even said he thought the mattress was more comfortable with this sheet on it. i will almost certainly make more. i mean, making a sheet is not the most glamorous sewing project, & i was definitely wishing i had an industrial straight stitch machine while i sat there mindlessly sewing a nine-foot seam. even with my foot pedal pushed all the way to the floor, it seemed to be going sooooo slooooooowly. but it’s still a nice feeling to go to sleep every night on something you made yourself! i’ll probably make flannel sheets next, because jared & i just realized like last week, after more than eight years as a couple, that we both like flannel sheets & had been working under the assumption that the other person didn’t.

there you go. 900+ words on sewing a sheet. they said it couldn’t be done, no one could generate that kind of word count over something so dull, but i proved them wrong.

achievement unlocked: viewfinder supertote

i’m pretty stoked about the new bag i whipped up this weekend! this is the noodlehead supertote, sewn up in melody miller’s viewfinder prints for cotton + steel.


it’s kind of an unfortunate coincidence that the sample on the pattern envelope was also sewn in viewfinder print. i swear i wasn’t copying! i just have a trillion yards of this fabric, & i really like it.

so, this is a sturdy tote bag pattern with a pleated gusset, an outside slip pocket, fully lined with elasticized divided pockets inside, & a recessed zipper. but i made some changes. i also made the entire bag from fabric & notions i already had in my stash, which was a real challenge because of course i started daydreaming about pink zippers & assorted lining fabrics that i would have had to buy. i also didn’t have all of the interfacings the pattern called for, so i had to improvise a bit.

i decided to put pockets on both sides of the exterior, because it was barely any extra work, & it’s not like you can ever have too many pockets! both are lined with self-fabric & trimmed with handmade hot pink piping. the pattern calls for the pocket to be secured with a magnetic snap, but i didn’t have any magnetic snap. i knew i wanted some kind of closure so the pocket wouldn’t gape open when there was something in it, so i used velcro.


that black & white thing is my kindle. the pocket is wide & deep enough for a kindle fire to slip inside with room to spare, & the velcro keeps it nice & secure. i sewed the velcro to the pocket lining before attaching the lining to the exterior so there wouldn’t be any tell-tale stitches on the exterior of the bag. i also added a layer of of pellon 101 fusible interfacing to the pocket for a little extra body.

the pattern includes instructions for making the straps out of fabric & interfacing. i was going to do just that when i remembered that i had a length of 2″ wide black woven strapping left over from making a messenger bag last summer. i had 60″, exactly enough! i cut a length of viewfinder fabric, folded in the edges, & topstitched it to the straps as a matching accent.

i poked around online to take a look at other people’s supertotes before i cut into my fabric. a few other people used viewfinder prints, & i found myself thinking that the bags that were all viewfinder, on the pocket & the top of the bag, were a little too busy. i decided to use plain black at the top to give the eye a rest. i knew i had some black canvas left over from making that same messenger bag, & i was like, “oh, i’ll make the top & exterior gussets out of that,” hence saving myself a layer of interfacing. (the pattern calls for either home dec/canvas fabric & pellon 101 for the exterior, or quilting cotton interfaced with pellon 101 & pellon 808 craft-fuse.) but i had a lot less canvas than i thought. enough to make the tops, but i had to make the gusset out of black quilting cotton & two layers of interfacing.

also, i didn’t have any craft-fuse. i did have a surprising amount of fusible fleece, for some reason. like, more than enough. fusible fleece is floppier than craft-fuse, but…it’s a tote bag. it’s okay if it’s a little floppy, you know? so that’s what i used as my second layer of interfacing. & ps–the finished bag was not at all floppy. it totally holds its shape & stands up straight when i put it down.

now, let’s talk about the recessed zipper.


this is the alteration i made that i especially like. the pattern has you cut the zipper piece & the interior recessed lining out of your lining fabric. those black parts sticking up are actually part of the interior lining. i didn’t totally understand how this recessed zipper was going to come together, so i cut my lining pieces as instructed at first. i knew i wanted the fabric around the zipper to be my exterior viewfinder print instead of the lining fabric, but i didn’t know how the rest of it was going to go.

i am going to try to explain this, & hopefully it won’t be too horribly confusing. so. you sew your zipper pieces to your zipper & set that aside. when you construct your lining, there is a separate piece that is sewn to the lining fabric, & this becomes the “walls” of the recessed zipper. the lining gusset is the same length as the lining plus the walls, & the tops of the gusset become the shorter walls. does that make any sense?

anyway, i cut all of this out of my lining fabric as instructed, & when it came time to construct, i realized i did not want those pieces to be made out of lining fabric!


my lining was the pink viewfinder colorway & it would have looked awful right next to the navy colorway. so i re-cut the top lining pieces from black fabric, which was an easy swap, & then i cut off the top of the gusset, measured black fabric to replace it, pleated it, & sewed it on to the gusset. it was easy enough to do, but it would also have been easy to accidentally make it not the right size or something.

so this way, when my zipper is closed, all you see is the navy viewfinder print & black.

i also ditched the elasticized pockets because i just don’t love them. they always bag out & get in the way. i put divided slip pockets on one side (with no interfacing, which i regret) & added a zipper pocket on the other side, using a weird yellow zipper i had laying around. my zipper insertion there was not the best. i had a lot of trouble pressing the fabric layers in place. & i just realized, as i was writing this, that it’s because i didn’t sew it first. oops. i’m an idiot. good thing it’s hidden inside the bag where no one needs to know!

i also added a little strap with a clip for my keys, because i lose them all. the. time. i used the same pink fabric that i used for the piping, folded over to hide all the raw edges. i looped one end through the clip & sewed in place, & sewed the other side into the seam where the main lining meets the recessed zipper piece. i made the strap extra long so i don’t have to unclip my keys to unlock the door.

i took my bag on its inaugural outing yesterday, to story time at the library & toddler gym. it’s a great size for me, it stays on my shoulder, it comfortably held two library books, my to-do list notebook, my kindle, my camera, my cell phone, & a snack for ramona, & it was easy to use. i love it!

achievement unlocked: secret agenda notebook cover

i mentioned recently that i have purchased a new notebook to keep track of my to-do lists. i am still absolutely in love with this thing. i decided to show my love by making a cover for it.



it’s basically just a sleeve that fits over the front cover. i didn’t use a pattern. i just winged it. i measured the cover & added 1/4″ all around for the seam allowance, plus 1/8″ to accommodate the thickness of the cover (which is very sturdy cardboard–much heavier than your average mead notebook). i folded in the outside edges (by the spirals) & topstitched to hem. i added the decoration on the cover & the pocket on the inside before i stitched the sleeve together.

all the materials for the cover were pulled from stash. i didn’t buy anything new to make it. the pennants on the cover are made from felt. i happened to have a bunch of different colors laying around because i’ve been meaning to make an activity book for ramona. i just keep getting sidetracked by other projects. i matched thread to each pennant & used gluestick to place them before i sewed, to make sure they would fit & that the colors were harmonious.

i used my free motion foot to do the lettering. full disclosure: this was the first time i have ever used the free motion foot. you can kind of tell. the letters look a little messy. some messiness was intentional. i’m not sure i am 100% in love with the way the letters came out, but for a first try with that particular tool, i am satisfied. “secret agenda” is a reference to a “cat & girl” comic from a few years ago. jared said it reminded him of me.

the pocket inside is fully lined in self-fabric & i added a little slot for my pen, since i am extremely picky about my pens (i only used stylist fine tips). i have to mail order them because no one in lawrence sells them, & you know. they’re not the most expensive pens on the market, but they cost a lot more than a 20-pack of bic ballpoints from office depot. i really don’t want anyone else touching them because they are ruined if they get skin oils on them (& ramona loves to draw on herself), & they need to be held at a particular angle to flow properly, & jared doesn’t use that angle & ends up pressing too hard & splitting the tips. so this way, i can stash my pen in my notebook & keep it safe!

pro-tip about adding a pen slot to a pocket: the slot has to be wider than you think. mine is 1.5″.

one of my favorite things about this cover is that i added rivets! the cover was snug enough to stay on the notebook without any fixtures, but once i had the idea of securing it with some kind of metal, i couldn’t get it out of my head. i had a stash of jeans rivets purchased for a pair of jeans that i have cut out (in may) & not yet sewn, so i used them, putting the flat part of the rivet on the outside. they secure the cover & add style!

i also added a couple of closure options, because i am obsessed with notebooks that can be latched shut. it’s probably a throw-back to being a child in the 80s, the last big gasp of locking diaries for little girls. i added a length of 1/4″ elastic that stretches around the back cover, & i also sewed a fabric-covered button to the front & a simple white hair tie to the back, to create a button & loop closure.

oh, & i added a pink ribbon to serve as a bookmark, to hold my page.

all in all, it was a pretty quick project–just a couple of hours, including all the cutting & threading different colors of thread in the machine & hand-sewing the elastic (because it didn’t occur to me to add it until the rivets were already in place–i would have preferred to sew the elastic into the seam allowances). it was a nice hit of instant gratification after all the hand-quilting i did last month (my skin is still peeling off where my hands blistered from not using a thimble) & it makes me smile every time i look at it.

of course, i couldn’t stay away from big, involved projects for too long. i went to hancock yesterday to check out their big veterans day sale & found this really gorgeous dark gray plaid.


it’s hard to tell in this photo, but the black lines in the plaid are glittery! it’s a heavy wool blend, & pretty expensive, but it was 50% off thanks to the sale. i found some pink satin that exactly matched the pink in the plaid, also 50% off, to use for the lining. i’m planning to make view D, with the longer, even-all-around hem, funnel collar, & hood. this is basically my platonic ideal of a winter coat. i’m nervous about fitting, because my big problem with coats is always finding something that fits my bust, allows me to move my arms, & hits my short waist in the right place, but you know. that’s the magic of sewing for yourself. hopefully i will manage to achieve a better fit than i’ve ever found off the rack, & then maybe i won’t be so resentful of cold weather.

achievement unlocked: pink & gold long-sleeved renfrew top

are you ready for thrills & chills?!


i made another renfrew. this is like maybe my ten millionth? maybe only my fifth or sixth.

this photo cracks me up. obviously i do not have the greatest photos when i just stand there doing nothing. so this is me pretending to walk like wayne & garth do in “wayne’s world” when they are pretending to be in new york city. “hey, i gotta gun, let’s go to a broadway show!” it is truly astonishing how much i do this walk in my day-to-day life.


or perhaps you prefer my “tiny dancer” pose? what’s that you’re saying? “ciara, did you take any normal straight on photos of yourself wearing this shirt?” nope. it’s feast or famine around here. you either get terrible, unflattering head on photos that really don’t provide any details of the garment, or you get goofy poses that obscure the style lines & also don’t provide any details of the garment. it’s all a long con so no one realizes that i don’t really know how to sew & am just holding all my projects together with paper clips & bubble gum.

so, this shirt is not my best work. i went nuts last month & bought four lengths of jersey to make myself some long-sleeved renfrews to wear under hoodies & sweaters this winter. that’s right. they will all be renfrews! i’ve tried some other knit tee patterns & i still like the renfrew best. i love the banded finish on the sleeves & hem. i like that the neckline for view A is a little bit of a scoop, which suits my body shape, but isn’t giving away the whole farm. i cut out the biggest size & did a 4″ FBA, grading the extra space into the front hem (because i need a little extra room in the waist too), & i love the resulting fit. i think the renfrew, as drafted, is supposed to be a tighter fit, but this body-grazing shape is more my jam. the renfrew, being a sewaholic pattern, is also drafted for pear shapes, hence the FBA. she drafts for people that are a lot smaller up top than i am, but whatever! doing a knit FBA is pretty easy. & i think i’ve talked about it before so let’s move on.

let’s move on to my failure:


this neckband! *shriek* i guess i must have lost the original neckband piece when we moved, & of course i have a paper pattern instead of a PDF, so i couldn’t just print off a new one. this is the kind of shit that makes me love PDFs. sure, it can be a pain in the ass to print them out & spend hours taping them together, but if you lose or mangle a pattern piece, as i am wont to do, you can just print off a new one! you don’t have to spend literally an hour searcing every cavity of your rather small sewing space looking for a teensy tissue paper neckband piece.

so i made my own. i stretched my fabric to approximately fit the neckhole & was actually thinking i was pretty smart to make a totally custom neckband piece. i was thinking it was going to be a trial run for the next time i make the lady skater, which is a pattern i love, but the neckband gives me non-stop grief.

in the end though, i think i cut it too small. i really had to stretch the bejsus out of it to get it to fit around the neckhole, & sewing was not super-fun. take a few stitches, stop, pull, try not to pull the actual shirt, sew a few stitches, repeat. & i used clear elastic to stabilize the neckline, which only complicated matters. this jersey is actually fairly beefy, & the elastic just made things even thicker & beefier. this is a good thing when you’re feeling anemic so you treat yourself to a bacon cheeseburger. it is less good when you’re trying to make yourself a nice shirt.

ultimately, there are a few puckers. & i was like, “fuck it,” & just left ’em. i did steam it to within an inch of its life, & it looked better after i topstitched , but still. not my best work. i’m okay with it because i’m not sure i love this fabric (i never really like gold, & i’m not sure about the watercolor effect in the pink), & i’m just going to wear it under other things anyway. but with my next one, i’m going to cut a slightly longer neckband & maybe just staystitch the neckline instead of using elastic. unless someone leaves me a better idea in the comments.

what i do like:


my top-stitching! the directions say to do this with a narrow zigzag. that feels a little becky home-ec-y to me. so i do a longer straight stitch instead (long to maintain a certain degree of stretch).

& yeah, i had to cut the cuffs & bands on the cross-grain due to not-having-enough-fabric issues. i forgot that doing a 4″ FBA meant i might need a little extra fabric to make the shirt. luckily this particular fabric had the same degree of stretch both ways & the directional print makes it look kind of a like a design element instead of a mistake. yay!

so, i read a lot of sewing blogs. i was reading one the other day, in which a woman shows off a new dress she has made. at one point she criticizes a photo & says she “looks so fat”. i don’t know, man. i really don’t love being sideswiped by people hating on their bodies. (to clarify, this person was definitely criticizing herself in using the word “fat”. i don’t necessarily subscribe to the belief that “fat” is always a negative descriptor.) & for what it’s worth, the blogger in question is pretty tiny–definitely a lot smaller than me, & i don’t really consider myself to be that much bigger than the average woman, really. i know people are their own worst critics & we have all probably thought more uncharitable things about our own appearances than we would ever think–let alone say–about anyone else’s. but i work hard to not think hatefully about myself, & that work is undermined a little bit every time i am caught off guard by someone voicing hateful things about themselves.

achievement unlocked: cloth wipes

so, here’s a quick little project i put together:


we have been cloth diapering ramona ever since she was released from the NICU. (isn’t it kind of weird that NICUs–the one ramona was in, anyway–don’t let you cloth diaper? even if you offer to do the laundry yourself?) & we have been using cloth wipes during that entire time as well. store-bought disposable wipes have never once touched this child’s butt since she came home from the hospital.

i didn’t get into sewing until a few months after she was born, which is a shame, because i liked nothing better than to obsess over my pregnancy & plan for motherhood. sewing my own cloth diapers & wipes & swaddling blankets & baby shoes & all that good stuff would have been so much fun! even if i have another kid someday, it won’t really be the same because i have ramona to keep me busy. i watched so goddamn much TV when i was pregnant. i watched every episode of both “the office” & “roseanne,” just for starters, & those were not short-lived shows. i try not to think about how much sewing i could have gotten done if i’d started before i had a child.

anyway, i bought our cloth diapers & wipes. & the wipes we have are really just squares of flannel that have been serged on the edges to keep them from fraying & unraveling in the wash. ramona is almost three now & still in diapers (potty-training is not her strong suit) & those wipes we started with are starting to show their age. they’re getting a little threadbare.

also, jared has taken over laundry duty from me. i used to do all the household laundry every three days, but i started to develop an intense phobia of the basement (where the washer & dryer are). kind of ridiculous to suddenly fear a place you have been going every few days for literally years, but the whole point of phobias is that they are not rational. anyway, jared took over the washing & i put everything away. unfortunately, the fact that he works full-time & is not as schedule-obsessive as i am means sometimes the laundry is washed after three days. sometimes it’s more like five. i decided it would be wise to have some extra wipes on hand for those times when jared has left the laundry a little late.

i had some flannel left over from making our family christmas pajama pants last winter, so i just cut it into squares & serged the edges. easy peasy. three years of cloth diapering has taught me that i prefer a single layer of flannel & a large-ish wipe. these are 5″ by 5″. if i had it to do over, i’d probably go with 6″ by 6″, but these are fine. very soft & lovely on our tiny child that is, as jared says, “barely foliated”. when does that luscious soft baby skin turn into normal person skin? & isn’t she supposed to be kind of smelly by now? she always smells like fresh grass or toasted marshmallows. i don’t know how she does it.

it occurs to me that cloth wipes would make a great shower gift for someone who is planning to cloth diaper–or for anyone, really, since you can obviously still use cloth wipes with disposable diapers. flannel comes in so many great colors & prints, you can pick something to match the nursery theme (we didn’t have one, but it seems like a lot of people do) or the mom’s favorite color or something. whipping up a batch of 20 would cost less than $10 & take like half an hour. tie ’em up with a pretty bow & people (who don’t sew) will be amazed.

i also feel the need to confess that after my whole parents vs. daylight saving thing i wrote about yesterday, ramona woke up at 6:30am this morning & declined to nap. right now she is sitting on the other end of the couch & banging on the wall with a toy hammer. i mean, it’s fine. i actually like to get up early & she’s been in good spirits all day. no crying, no tantrums. we ran some errands, she had some quiet time in her room (in lieu of a nap), whatever. hopefully she’ll nap tomorrow.

(ps–right after i wrote this paragraph, jared got home from school & ramona had a complete meltdown. she really wants jared to do yoga with her, so she is standing on her yoga mat, wailing, “the tree pose! the treeeeee pose!” over & over. i know she’s doing it because she’s over-tired, but it’s kind of hilarious watching her have a tantrum over yoga. kind of defeats the point of yoga, doesn’t it?)

it may also be worth mentioning that this is my third post in three days, which is a real departure from, say, august, when i think i only posted once all month. i started feeling like my writing abilities were getting rusty from disuse. i also went to wonder fair on friday night, this cool little art/gift/stationery shop here in lawrence, & i asked the proprietor, meredith, for notebook recommendations. she sold me on this really sweet south korean notebook & i started using it to keep notes on my days & write down my to-do lists & guys. it is awesome. whoever says you can’t buy happiness clearly does not have the obsessive relationship with high-end notebooks that i have. this thing has changed my life!

one weird thing that happened today: we were at the library, & ramona goes to the library literally almost everyday & knows several of the librarians by name. she saw one she knew & said, “i recognize that person. that’s [name redacted].” the librarian came over & said hi to us & i said, “did you hear ramona just now? she said she recognized you,” & the librarian raised her eyebrows & said,”that’s a big word.” but she said it in a weird tone, like maybe she thought i was bragging about my kid’s vocabulary. i only have the one kid & not much experience with otherĀ  children. i don’t know if it’s terribly unusual for an almost-three-year-old to know words like “recognize” or “derivative” (i taught her that one today).

a pizza my heart

i wrote yesterday’s post before we went out to trick or treat, so i didn’t have photos yet. but i do now!


baby pizza slice! it’s just a big piece of tan felt with the top folded down to create the illusion of crust. jared sewed yellow felt on top to represent cheese & cut a bunch of circles out of red felt to represent pepperoni (or “tomatoes,” as ramona calls them, even though she eats actual tomatoes all the time & must realize pepperoni is very different). i told him i had spray adhesive, but he insisted on sewing everything.


daddy & baby pizza slices! i’m kind of bummed i didn’t get a better shot of jared. he has total “dad face” in this photo (his term). people were so excited about these costumes! so many kids saw them & were like, “PIZZA!” they generated a lot more enthusiasm than i expected.

in lawrence, the businesses downtown host trick or treating & hand out candy for a few hours on halloween, & it’s like a costume parade for little kids. some folks have clearly put so much thought, time, energy, & even money into their costumes. “star wars”-themed costumes were far & away the most popular this year. we saw lots of little yodas, ewoks, storm troopers, & more than a few all-family costumes. there were a lot fewer elsas this year (from “frozen”), but she was still the #1 princess costume. one of my favorite costumes was a kid in a full-body cardboard space shuttle construction. there was also a teeny tiny baby in a lion costume, & his dad was in the most elaborate lion tamer costume. that was pretty great too.

jared observed that there were not many teenage mutant ninja turtle costumes this year. “i was worried about that,” he said, which made me laugh.


& here’s me in my rat costume. most people assumed i was just a regular everyday mouse, but one group of middle-aged drunk people sitting on a restaurant patio were like, “PIZZA RAT! are you pizza rat? it’s pizza rat!” & a second group of middle-aged drunk people actually took a picture of me & ramona holding hands.

i washed my hair after i made my headband & discovered that my hair, once clean, was too smooth & sleek for the headband! it kept sliding down & my ears would flop. i would have just taken it off, but i had drawn a nose & whiskers on my face & felt like i really needed the ears in order to not look insane.


pizza rat on the attack! i really wish jared had zoomed in & made us bigger in the frame, but i guess that’s what i get for dating a historian instead of a professional photographer. this entire blog is a testament to the fact that i am not a great photographer myself.

ramona was completely baffled by halloween. she’s a pretty shy kid & wasn’t comfortable saying “trick or treat” or “thank you” to strangers, even though she talks non-stop when she’s just with me & jared. she talks so much that she doesn’t let us talk to each other. if we’re conversing about something & she’s in the room, she yells over us & demands that we talk to her instead. i don’t love this, but…threenagers.

she really liked the fact that people were giving her candy, but she didn’t seem to understand why they were giving her candy, & she was completely flummoxed by all the other kids in their costumes. we let her eat some treats while we walked & she got very sticky. after about four blocks, she took off her costume & laid down on the sidewalk. we steered her into the used bookstore & chilled out for a while. then we went home & had dinner. so she didn’t get a big haul of treats, but at this age, i don’t think treats are the point. i mean, we don’t really let her eat sugar anyway, & if we want candy, we’ll just go to the store & get some discount halloween-themed candy.

i also noticed yesterday that the neighbors behind our house were really on the ball with halloween. they put out a scarecrow with a jack o’ lantern head & had this whole elaborate ghosts-on-a-pulley-system thing happening. since we only live a block from downtown, no trick or treating really happens in the neighborhood. everyone just goes downtown to the shops! so these people were just doing it for fun & to amuse passers-by. they’re pretty young, probably in their 20s? & they seems so on top of their lives. they dry all their laundry on a clothesline, they have a yard sale every weekend, they’re always walking their dog & going kayaking on the kansas river. i mean, i have never talked to them. i just see them & think wistfully about how together they seem compared to what a hot mess i was in my 20s. or even in my 30s, if we’re being real. our only halloween decoration was a pumpkin with mud all over it (we couldn’t have rinsed it off at some point?), & some chomps taken out of it by ambitious local squirrels.

& last night was daylight saving time. this seems to be a detested time of year among my fellow parents. there’s a lot of talk about how it ruins their kids’ sleep & they get off-schedule for weeks. this is ramona’s third daylight saving fall-back, & it’s always been smooth sailing for us. we just stuck to the usual routine: dinner at 7pm, family tidying after, ramona gets a shower, ramona goes to bed, jared & ciara stay up late because woo! we partied hard by putting on our jammies & reading in bed.

she woke up at 7:30am, which was technically 8:30am, but she usually gets up at 7:30am, so win! no change to the schedule at all. maybe daylight saving time is harder if you have more than one kid? or maybe this is just a manifestation of ramona being a pretty chill kid. jared gets her up at 7:30am everyday so he can give her breakfast & get her dressed before he has to leave for school, but if left to her own devices, she would probably sleep later.

should i do bimble & pumple’s “sewvember” thing on instagram? i know some people hate “challenges” like that. i mean, hate seeing the posts in their feeds. personally, i think they can be kind of fun. now that i finally joined 2010, got a smartphone, & have instagram, maybe i will do it.