the newest patterns are finally here!

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

new patterns

new sewing patterns

new sewing patterns

The Clara Dress, Gathering Apron, Esme Top, and Simple Skinny Jeans patterns are in my hands, ready to package up and send to you! 

There's a big "first" with this spring collection - all four patterns include a full-length video tutorial along with the standard written instructions. Thanks to my darling intern, Danica, who stars in the videos and walks you through the construction of each. 

The Clara Dress

Oh my. I think I've succeeded in designing "The Meg Dress," as my mom would call it. It's super comfortable with its elastic waist, plus it has pockets to hold all of Finn and Lachlan's treasures. I have my spring dresses in the line up already here in North Carolina with the help of tights and a cardigan. The sample shown is made in a Japanese double guaze cotton. I'm loving the possibility of it in this fabric, with my mustard tights and cowboy boots.

The Gathering Apron

Totally made with the feathered ladies in mind. Also while daydreaming about all the produce I'll be able to gather this summer and fall from my garden. Did you like the Emmeline Apron? The Gathering Apron wins, hands down. It has a HUGE front pocket (the entire skirt is one big pocket) and the adjustable bust details make it super flattering and really accommodating of all sizes. Looks amazing in all of Kaffe Fassett's Shot Cottons.

The Esme Top

A sweet, go-to top that will surely rival the Schoolhouse Tunic. It's easy to make and easy to wear, and goes great with the Simple Skinny Jeans. My favorite versions are made in the new rayon challis substrate that Westminster Fibers has - particularly Valori Well's Novella. This fabric is so soft and hangs so beautifully. Novella's understated prints work perfectly for highlighting the simple details of the Esme.

Simple Skinny Jeans

Really. They are SO simple to make. Think leggings, but with jean-like back pocket detail. These were modeled after my favorite pair of maternity transition pants, which had a wide elastic waistband, giving them a comfortable fit all the time. I'd suggest making them in a stretch denim or stretch chambray. Lura's Fabric shop has a great selection of stretch denim, plus you can order swatches to make sure you get the color you're looking for. I've also had luck finding good stretch denim at my local Hancock Fabrics. Stretch denims aren't knits, they're wovens, but they have some spandex/Lycra content which makes them movey and groovy - exactly what you want in a pair of skinny jeans.

Thank you to Jessi for the wonderful photography!

And now I flop on the couch with half a bar of dark chocolate and sleep until the boys return from their afteroon at Mima and Papa's house. I'm so very grateful for your support of this sewing pattern thing of mine. :)


waxing the play kitchen

Sometimes, in my bag of parenting tricks that I've gathered from here and there, I tend to forget things. It's a big bag of a lot of randomness, with some Montessori thrown in, a dose of Waldorf for good measure, and a good amount of attachment parenting. And yes, some may find the bits of granola dispersed through this parenting bag a bit messy ... even funny. But it works, and that's how we learn to be parents - by throwing past experiences and good ideas into that bag, hoping that we can a.) find the bag when we need to pull something out, and b.) rifle through it to find that particular idea among a sea of others.

waxing the play kitchen

Lately I've been thinking to myself that I need to clean out this disorganized mess. I'll be the first to admit that I'm addicted to parenting books. I need to break that. There's just too much information coming in. 

waxing the play kitchen

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I'm rediscovering the value of Montessori's Practical Life exercises in my home, after nearly forgetting about them. I gave up the idea of being a Saint-in-Residence a while back, ;) a character trait that some believe Montessori and Waldorf parenting necessitates. Yet, even though I got rid of those unrealistic ideas from my parenting bag, that didn't mean that I threw out some simple tools - dare I say the backbone (at least a supporting leg?) - of the philosophies themselves. 

waxing the play kitchen

I've written about Montessori Practical Life before while I was teaching, and here's something I happened upon recently from a Waldorf perspective.

And you know what? Even if neither of these two philosophies truly resonate with you, the idea of giving young children meaningful work to do in the home is an amazing parenting tool. It calms nerves. It centers children. It gives them confidence. It develops their capacity to concentrate. Out of it will come content for creative play. It allows you, the parent, to get a few things done while they work. Setting up activities for your child makes you feel like a capable parent (when I often feel like I'm floundering in the murky waters of sibling messes.) I love me some Practical Life.

waxing the play kitchen

I thought I'd share with you some of what we're doing around here in terms of meaninful "work" for Finn.

Today, I had some pictures of this recent beeswax-fest on my camera. You will need some polishing cloths (I made mine from Little Folks flannel), a very small spoon for applying the wax to the cloth, and some yummy beeswax/jojoba oil blend from my go-to practical life resource, Montessori Services.

waxing the play kitchen

Wax anything that's unfinished wood - from the play kitchen to toys to tables. It helps to have a smaller container of beeswax so there's a limited amount and it is used more judiciously. You see the whole jar here because I forgot my own advice. Next time, next time. Now our kitchen is super-waxed! 

Best of all? Thirty minutes of contented work. For all of us.

Oh! P.S. The apron pattern (including the template for all of the embroidery work) can be found here!

child's apron revisited

baking apron

This humble little apron means more to me than you would think it warrants. It's a simple design, really - so easy to make, and so gratifying to give to a young child. It represents joyful, messy times together with children, both in my classroom and now in my own home, baking and making art with my little one.

But it's more to me than that, even. It was the first sewing pattern that I mustered up the courage to share with others. I remember drafting the pattern while I was still living and teaching in Mexico, hoping that it would be of use to other Montessori teachers and parents as they made materials for their own classrooms and homes. I was nervous putting it out into the world. The basic apron has been a downloadable tutorial on my blog ever since.

Yet, it doesn't stop there, my appreciation for this little apron. It soon became apparent that others really enjoyed the pattern, both for its sewing ease, its design that promotes a young child's independence, and for its practical use in the home. The feedback I received from the first users of the pattern was positive, and it gave me the confidence I needed to start writing up patterns for my other designs (like the Emmeline Apron - the apron I wore daily in my classroom!)

Before I knew it, I was designing patterns as well as teaching. Now, I'm mothering and designing patterns whenever I can find a moment. (Most moments courtesy of my dear husband, who is Super Dad.) Occasionally, enough of those moments come together and allow me to write a book.

Growing Up Sew Liberated is about to be released (official launch date is June 6) and I couldn't be more excited. It is written for those exact same people I drafted the apron pattern for - but there's oh so much more inside its pages. It was such a joy to write, and I hope that you love it as much as you loved the humble little apron.

So, with a nod to my roots as a designer, I'm really pleased that Interweave, my publisher, wanted to re-release the child's apron with a few more bells and whistles.

laundry apron

laundry apron detail

plant care apron

You can read Tricia's write-up about Growing Up Sew Liberated on Sew Daily, where you can also download the new-and-improved Child's Apron pattern. The new pattern features two size ranges (3-5 years and 6-8 years,) as well as instructions on making two new versions of the apron: a waterproof, whimsically embroidered Laundry Day Apron, and the playfull and practical Plant Care Apron.

Click here to download the new pattern.

Happy sewing!


finn's corner

practical life in the home 2

This past week, Finn came down with a case of the blahs and a fever. Not surprising, given the change of seasons, but it required a slowing down of sorts around here. (And cancelling our trip to Mexico, which we were certainly looking forward to, but the last thing you want to be doing with a sick toddler is international travel!)

So slow down we did. I think the most I accomplished last week, other than getting food on the table and getting an excellent upper body workout from carrying Finn all the time, was put up this little shelf. And to be honest, Patrick really did all the work. I gave him orders from the sidelines.

The shelf is the finishing touch to what I lovingly refer to as "Finn's Corner."  You're probably tired of seeing this this spot by now, but truly, it's the heart of Finn's practical, day-to-day experiences in our family. There's lots of activity in this corner, from serving water to sweeping, mopping, and wiping up spills. It's where I store a few much-used art materials (beeswax crayons and watercolor supplies) as well as where Finn polishes wood and plays with playdoh and has other encounters with art.

practical life in the home

From left to right on the peg shelf (found at Little Colorado): a Mama-made apron from my free pattern; a "wipe-up cloth" which is easy to make - take an old towel, hem the edges, and attach a ribbon loop for easy hanging; his rainbow broom; and his mop. The apron is a new addition to this kitchen/living space. He adores it, and loves that he has his very own now, just like his Mama. We put on aprons when we're baking, washing the dishes, or polishing wood.

polishing wood with beeswax

Polishing wood is the first Care of the Environment Montessori-style activity that I've set up for him. Up until now, he's just been offered the opportunity to mimick us in our everyday cleaning and cooking activities. This little tray is a very simple set-up, perfect for a toddler who has a lot of beautiful, unfinished wood in his life, from wooden toys to wooden plates. Polishing wood with beeswax (I recommend this stuff) is a safe, easy, and fun way for him to contribute to the care and beautification of his home environment.

polishing wood with beeswax 2

I put the soft beeswax in a tiny jam jar, the kind you might see if you go out to brunch at a nice-ish restaurant. I always unabashedly throw a few extra jam jars in my bag when I see them - they're so useful for helping little ones with portion control. I also use them in art activities. They're especially good for storing homemade paste for collage.

The teensy-weensy spoon is about the size of Finn's thumb, and also helps put a natural limit on how much beeswax is appropriate to use. I found it at Montessori Services while I was still teaching.

Finally, the cloth is from a stash I made for my classroom - 10 cm x 10 cm squares of flannel sewn with right sides together. Leave a small opening for turning it right side out, then topstitch along all edges, closing the opening. I have ten of these that I store on his play kitchen shelf; if one cloth gets very dirty, there's a laundry basket on the floor where Finn can place it (as well as dirty clean-up cloths) and then he can find a replacement from the stash on the shelf.

To present the wood polishing activity, I showed Finn how to get one scoop of beeswax from the jar and use his finger to place the wax on a wooden object. I used my index finger to work the wax into the wood, then sat in silence while it soaked in a bit. Finally, I used the flannel cloth to buff the wood, then returned the object and the tray to their respective spots. Eventually, I'll show him how to polish larger items, such as his play kitchen and shelving.

It was an instant hit with the 17 month-old, and I'm sorry I have no pictures to prove it. When it came time to take a few pictures for this post, my little model was running some errands with his Daddy. But you know what? It's hard to take pictures of a wiggly toddler in a low-light setting. All you would have seen would have been a blur of motion, anyway.

The slowing down stops as soon as the toddler feels better. You know how it goes!


more cooking fun (and a giveaway)

cooking fun - the book

As if we haven't had enough cookbook craze here in the past week ... (Which reminds me - make sure you send me an email at MealCalendarRecipes@gmail.com if you want to be my Tastebook friend. I've had a good number of people email me at my normal address, which is really hard to keep track of.)

I'm so excited to be in cahoots with the talented Rae Grant - mama, blogger, and author of two children's books: Cooking Fun and Crafting Fun . Stop by Rae's inspiring blog, My Little Hen: Simple Ideas for Childhood Fun, and peruse her archives when you have the chance - you won't be disappointed!

cooking fun - the book

Rae sent me copies of her books, and let me tell you - they just make me smile. Both Cooking Fun and Crafting Fun are replete with vintage recipes and crafts, and would make excellent gifts for the reading child on your holiday gift list. I've had a lot of fun going through the drink recipes, and have become especially enamored with this milk/orange juice/vanilla combo. It's frothy. It's yummy. And it simply belongs in both my recycled jam jar glasses and in my stomach.

Since nothing goes better with a kid's vintage-inspired cookbook than a vintage-inspired apron, Rae is hosting a giveaway of Cooking Fun and I'm chipping in two Lola Apron patterns! Go over to My Little Hen and leave a comment to enter!


P.S. Did you know the Lola Apron won first place at the Iowa State Fair? How cool is that?

223/365 State Fair Apron

photo and apron by letterwoman

Back tomorrow with some photos of my nature table and an update on the Holiday Traditions Exchange - Design Fridays will be back next week!

house tour: the kitchen

amy's orange chocolate scones with tea
Okay, this photo isn't taken in my kitchen. But honestly, it's much nicer looking at this photo of something yummy made in my kitchen than the actual photos of the kitchen. What with the poor lighting, the tight quarters, and my inability to get a shot that really captured much of anything, this here pic of an orange chocolate scone will have to suffice for the requisite bloggy eye candy. (The recipe, by the way, is out-of-this-world good - it came in my Mailorder #9 from Angry Chicken.)

So here we go. I apologize for the cruddy photos. There's something about an orange kitchen with not-so-large windows that really wrecks your confidence as an amateur photographer!

kitchen 1

No fancy, chrome fridge here. Just big ol' whitey sporting a few family pics, Mexico memorabilia, and a magnetic pad of paper for writing a grocery list. And no, the sink area is not always this clean. Washing cookware by hand is not on the top of my list right now, as I really don't go out seeking activities that are guaranteed to give me a backache for the rest of the day - you try being 5' 4" with a big belly and leaning over that sink! Too bad Patrick only does housework if he has a This American Life to listen to on his headphones ... now where is that ipod? They must have a new show up by now ... maybe I could get him hooked on CraftSanity podcasts in the meantime?

My favorite kitchen decor item is "The Cupcake Peddlers" framed print from The Black Apple. I have another cute-as-a-button print from Emily of a hedgehog doing laundry. The only problem is that I, personally, hate doing laundry, and I can't bring myself to hang that sweet little print in the dark, dank underbelly of the house that is the unfinished basement laundry room. Nope, I wouldn't even think of taking you on a basement tour. Nuh-uh.

kitchen 2

I have a few aprons hanging on hooks for easy access. Because, in the spirit of real-life confessions, I'm an extremely messy cook. I really do need to wear an apron - not for aesthetic preferences, but to protect my clothes. I've lost count of how many shirts I have ruined with splattered oil. Come to think of it, perhaps I should design a sewing pattern for an industrial hazard suit apron, which would provide maximum coverage. Just kidding. But it's what I really need.

We recently removed the cabinet doors because they were ugly, dirty, and all-around unimpressive. Plus, I've found that if I have open shelving, it's so much easier to keep things organized. I can see all of my cookbooks, and I can tell when I need to buy more all-purpose flour, for example. It's fun, too, to be able to use my purple dishware, vintage glass serving pieces, and growing collection of Le Creuset aqua cookware (thanks, Mom!) as functional decoration. Unfortunately, this fun shelf is on the other side of the stove, and I would have had to knock out a wall to get a decent photo.

shelf storage

I have big plans for the kitchen once our little boy starts walking around. Right now, I have a hand-me-down bench in the kitchen nook corner. Eventually, I'll have a child-sized table and easily accessible shelving with his food preparation activities prominently displayed for his use. I believe that the kitchen is the backbone of Montessori practical life exercises and ours will definitely reflect that once the time is right.

kitchen nook bench

For the time being, this bench displays some of my first embroidery projects as well as some fabric from my stash. It's not a sewn cover or anything, it's just strategically tucked around the cushion. This way, I can effortlessly change it to suit my whims.

Happy cooking to all!

child's apron pattern and other free tutorials!

fastening the apron

This is something I've been meaning to do for a while - I get so many requests for this little apron pattern, which I sold briefly as a downloadable PDF pattern in order to put away enough money to bankrole the professional printing of my other patterns. Here it is, and it's free! Just click on the photo in the side bar. It's my little gift to all of you wonderful people.

I've also added links to other tutorials and free resources. There's more to come, but this means slowly working my way through the archives of my old blog and digging up pre-Flickr photos. So keep checking back.

P.S. The apron pattern is meant to fit a 3-6 year-old. If your child is younger or older, you will need to make the necessary alterations in the length of the apron.

big news, and a podcast to go with it

It’s about time for some big news, isn’t it? As much as I wish that I could be announcing this kind of wonderful news, that will have to wait until the chaos of moving subsides and the stars of serendipity and grad school schedules align. Instead, I have another “baby” that’s ready to make its way out into the world – the Lola Apron pattern!


I’ve already mentioned how smitten I am with this apron. So smitten that I went ahead and made a mini-version, which comes as part of the deal. And a BIG thanks to my wonderful testers, Monique, Lucy, Shawnee, Beth and Melissa - these ladies are extremely talented, and they've made the pattern very user-friendly and typo-free.

Oh – and yes, that’s me, my former student, and, perhaps surprisingly, my Mexican kitchen featured on the pattern front. The dark interior made it a challenge.

But Miss Lola was insistent. She refused to be photographed in front of a run-down fence. She was pure kitcheny kitsch, and her place is the kitchen. How in the world could I possibly have a photo shoot in my rather hobbit-like kitchen? Answer: white bedsheets, this flash, a particularly patient husband, and lots and lots of fun with photoshop. My saving grace? These plates. They make the whole photo, in my opinion.

One more thing, which is a big announcement in of itself – have you listened to the most recent Craftsanity podcast? I haven’t yet, out of fear of hearing my own voice bumbling about and making embarrassing statements. I was so honored to be invited on the show and to spend an hour or so chatting with Jennifer, who is a delightful person and a fellow apron aficionada. 

Craft on!


it's an aprony april thus far

Amos and Adelaide's Children's Aprons

I think I've gotten myself tangled up in some hard-to-meet expectations. Ever since test-running this new chef's get-up in my classroom, all they can say is "Are we going to have a chef's outfit for baking cookies? And one for baking bread? And one for preparing snack? And one for making granola? And one for cracking nuts? And one for making tortillas?" One child wanted to do his math work in the chef's costume. Hey... now that's a good idea. It might add a bit of pizazz to tax preparation process.

Amos and Adelaide's children's aprons

A few of you might recognize this apron from the earlier version that I sold briefly as a PDF pattern. It's been jazzed up with an appliquéd  kangaroo pocket and will be available in various sizes.  A smock-style child's apron will also be part of the same pattern - I'll post some pictures of it in a few days' time.

Things are getting done here, but why does it seem like the "getting done" occurs at the speed of poured molasses, while the passage of days happens at the speed of light? I must be getting older. I'm reminded of this every time a child says to me something along these lines:

Meg, do you remember when, a long, long, time ago ... when I was REALLY little, and we made ornaments to put on our Christmas trees?

Why, yes. For me it seems like last week that we were making holiday decorations in the classroom. Oh boy. I know what this means. Measuring time as I perceive it, we will be moving back to the US in a little less than a week.

Holy Crimeny!  I'd better get to packing!

***Edit*** We aren't actually moving now. We still have three more months ... but I'm sure these three months will fly by!

ode to the lola apron

The Lola Apron 3
Another apron, Meg?

The Lola Apron 1
Really now.

The Lola Apron 2

Don't you think it's ti
me you joined A.A. (Aprons Anonymous) to talk about your little problem?
How could I stop myself? When I found this vintage apron for sale over at Joyful Abode's Etsy shop, I didn't think twice.
vintage apron find

Isn't it lovely? The fabric has the feel of a soft bed sheet, and the circle pockets are just to die for. The voices in my head wouldn't cease until I had made myself another.

And I have a confession to make. As much as I love my two Emmeline Aprons, the Lola is, hands down, MY FAVORITE APRON EVER.  I don't know what it is. The fit is super. I love the retro flair of the bias binding and rick rack accents. I love it SO MUCH that I am looking for excuses to wear it. That frying pan? Yep. It needs to be washed again. (And you don't know how much I used to detest doing the dishes. Okay - maybe it's the Flylady that has had me on the right track as of late, but the Lola apron certainly deserves a hefty percentage of the credit.)

So. Pardon my effusive babbling. Of course, this means that Lola, along with Miss Elsie Mae, are both in the process of becoming printed patterns. The good news? Starting this Friday I have fifteen days off, during which I hope to plow ahead in this somewhat arduous pattern-writing process. Maybe if I tell myself that I can wear the Lola apron only when I sit down to write instructions? Now that is an efficient working plan!