imagine childhood book review + giveaway


That book up there? It's amazing. Of course, I knew it would be - I've been a loyal visitor the Imagine Childhood blog and a supporter of their store for many years now.

What author Sarah Olmsted has crafted is a deep, relaxing breath in the form of a book . It's an invitation to experience the wonder of nature in a creative way. An invitation to notice. An invitation to experience a forest, a creek, a pond - through the eyes of a child and alongside your child.


The activities in Imagine Childhood, I would say, are geared toward families with young children or older children who are able to read and craft on their own. None require a developed skill set - the sewing projects are very simple, the woodworking projects extremely basic - so anyone can jump right in. Everything can be made with little and big hands working side by side.



The boys eagerly chose to work on the mud house project, and it was a delight to work alongside them. I cut the wood forms and they did most everything else - from oiling down the sides of the wood (even the oustide of the form - unneccesary for the house, but somehow perfect work for Finn, as you can see above.) Finn made design decisions (such as choosing to hammer a door frame together rather than using a bigger block. I just followed their lead. Come to think of it, Imagine Childhood and my other favorite, Project-Based Homeschooling, are perfect companion books.


Lachlan really got into the mud part after his nap. (Do you see him nearly falling over in one of the above pictures, unable to give in to sleep with the excitement of the mud house construction?) Hold on - I have to go give him a smooch this minute - ok, I'm back!


And here is our mud house thus far, still drying. Come to think of it, it had a very generous watering in the last few days, first by eager boys who love to go around watering this and that, then by nature herself, in the form of a rainy day. I'm not sure if it will ever dry properly without splitting, but the experience itself was quite worthwhile regardless. There is a town of mud houses being planned, as well as many other projects from Imagine Childhood.

Building this with the boys made me remember one of my first blog posts, back when I was living in rural Mexico and building a cob wall to protect our garden. It wasn't surprising that building with mud attracted the neighborhood children; there's something so simple, functional, and rewarding about it.


Cob wall

Roost Books has generously offered to give away two copies of Imagine Childhood to my readers, and Sarah has chipped in a $25 gift certificate to the Imagine Childhood Shop. Three opportunities to win! Leave a comment to enter. I'll pick a winner on Saturday, December 1st.

Good luck!

Comments are now closed - congratulations to Gwenn, Joy and Milena!

spoonflower is giving away fabric and an ashland pattern!

Be still your heart? My generous friends (and neighbors) at Spoonflower are giving away four yards of fabric (of your choice) and an Ashland Dress pattern

Ashland Dress made into a top

I recently made a top for myself out of Spoonflower's cotton silk (totally dreamy) substrate, printed on Holli Zollinger's Grey and White Diamond Linen. I think it took me weeks to decide which fabric of Holli's to print - I had a total sewing geek-out over all of them. This understated print worked perfectly, sewing up smoothly into an everyday-with-a-bling top, given the slight fancy pants sheen of the silk. 

Ashland Dress made into a top

I used a pared-down version of the Ashland Dress pattern, omitting the pockets and waist sash and shortening the hemline so that it hits at my hip. I'm loving it. I can already tell that I will wear it often - it's comfortable, it's grey, it is cool to wear in the summer and it will be great under a cardigan come autumn. 

I had a little virtual chit chat with Kim at Spoonflower, and I hope you'll pop on over to their blog to check it out and to leave a comment to win the Ashland Dress pattern and four yards of fabric! 

sponsor giveaway :: garden laundry

Mmmm .... love me some vintage sheets! I'm stoked to have Garden Laundry as a sponsor again, this time with a new owner, the cheerful Michelle, behind the ever-changing and beautiful collection of linens, sheets, and blankets. You've seen my bed before, with it's mix-match of old sheets - I got those at Garden Laundry a while back. Check out the shop for an ever-changing supply of budget-friendly goods to help make your house feel like a home.

getting outside

Yellows and greens - bringing a bit of the outside "in."  Oh, and I have a major crush on this pillowcase. Just sayin'.

Here's Michelle:

I've been running Garden Laundry since Spring of 2012, and it has been such a fun business!  Being a stay at home/work from home Mama to my little guy keeps me very busy, but no matter when I find time to squeeze in a little Garden Laundry work, it never feels like work!  I can't ask for more than that!  What I love most about the shop is selecting soft, lovely items that have spent many years providing comfort and usefulness to a home and have many more years of cozy warmth left to give!  I love imagining the projects and spaces people purchase my items for, whether it's a soft vintage sheet, an antique doily, or a lovingly knitted afghan.  We have a huge selection of items to choose from: doilies, table runners, vintage needlepoint, sheets, comforters, and other bedding, curtains, quilts, tablecloths, napkins, tea towels, pillow covers, vintage holiday linens, and vintage fabric!  I try and make sure each item is in good condition and ready for use, and love packaging up and sending out orders.  Each purchase arrives tied in a neat little package with a thank you note, just as I would send something to a friend.  I certainly hope you'll look around my shop and find something you love!

Garden Laundry is offering a $25 gift certificate to one lucky, lucky person. Leave a comment to enter to win! I'll announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!  Comments are now closed. 

a few of our favorite toys (& a giveaway!)


We're outside a lot. Outside or in the kitchen. There are quiet, inside moments spattered throughout our days, though. I've been collecting a handful of fun games and activities to have on hand during such moments - educational toys, mostly, and a few fun board games (more on our favorite board games for three year olds in another post!)

Finn will spend a lot of time hammering shapes, making cars, trains, trees, etc. out of said shapes with this Haba Hammering set that I had in a closet for a while, just waiting for him to get old enough to try it out. It's certainly his favorite quite time activity (other than writing letters!) The recommended age is 4+ years, but, as you can see, this barely three year-old loves it, and it provides a fine motor challenge that's perfect for him.


It comes with examples of designs you can make with the shapes, but he prefers to go his own way. I think that spacial challenge would be a little much for him at this point in his development. 


I was pretty thrilled when For Small Hands (the Montessori-in-the-home division of classroom-focused Montessori Services) contacted me about reviewing a few of their products from time to time. They are one of my go-to educational kid stuff sources. They sent me Pattern Play, seen below, and Finn gave it a whirl.

pattern play

I was totally into this. It really is my kind of game - I always loved the visual/spacial stuff as a kid (no wonder I ended up designing sewing patterns!) and Finn enjoyed it, too. 

pattern play

Pattern Play (item #Y202) comes with a bunch of wooden blocks in various cuts, as well as a square tray. The most compelling part about it is the 20-something design cards that accompany the material. They are numbered by difficulty, so you can put out one or two cards during a play session for inspiration.

pattern play

Finn tried to work with the first image for a while, but was pulled away by the possibilities of making three dimensional structures with the blocks. He had a lot of fun.

pattern play

He's asked to play with this several times since, and it's been a great open-ended material for him. Sometimes he works with a card, sometimes not. The cards are still a little difficult for him right now (the box states that it's for ages 3-6) but I'm curious how that will evolve this year as his ability in this area is rapidly changing. All of a sudden, he's painting shapes, writing scribbles that look more and more like actual writing, etc. It's fun to watch! Also, I think the possibilities for this material extend far beyond age 6. As I said before, this 31 year-old loved playing with it! I've been meaning to do this activity with him to give him some extra "play" with spacial critical thinking. 

For Small Hands is giving away Pattern Play to one of YOU! Leave a comment to enter - I'll draw a winner on Monday, May 21st. Good luck!

Comments are closed. Congratulations to Catherine who said: Looks very fun. My five year olds would love this challenge. Thanks!

reinvention: sewing with rescued materials by maya donenfeld


I've had the most calming, centering, beauty-filled book on my bedside table these past few days. It's Maya's creation - Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials, published by Wiley. I'm so happy to kick off Reinvention's blog tour, give you a peek at what's inside, as well as host Maya for a behind-the-scenes chat about the book. Oh! And how could I forget the giveaway! Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of your own, courtesy of Wiley. I'll draw a winner on Friday, May 4th!

Comments are now closed. Congratulations to Emily who won a copy of Reinvention!


I whipped up a quick inspiration board, which is one of the projects featured in Reinvention .

I often think of Maya as the Burlap Ambassador - she's the wonder behind the burlap bins and inspiration boards that took the craft and design blogs by storm several years back. She's so much more than that, though - such a kind-hearted, deep feeling and thinking person. She's someone who I really look up to as I navigate the waters of motherhood, and I think you'll feel the same about her, especially after reading her book.



Me: It's an honor to share this space with you, Maya, to celebrate the release of Reinvention

Maya: I'm so thrilled to have you be the first stop on my tour, Meg. I will always feel that you played an integral part of making this book happen, simply by giving me that sweet nudge that propelled me forward a few years back. It seems quite fitting to have you get the tour ball rolling, and comes as no surprise that you have asked such thoughtful and compelling questions.


Me: As I was reading through my copy, taking special care to soak up all of your little stories and peeks into your life that you pepper throughout the book, I was struck by the parallels between your relationship with your mom and your grandparents and your passion for bringing new life to found materials. Your words about them are infused with love and admiration, and you talk about how their creative passions and parenting practices have greatly influenced your own. As I read, I thought to myself, isn't it interesting how we are reinventions of our own parents and grandparents - how we take what they have given us and make it our own, or make something new out of it. Somehow, though, the raw "material" of their love, that which we pass on to our children, stays constant throughout the generations. Can you tell us one of the ways that your are passing on your passion for repurposing to your two children? 

Maya: I absolutely love the image that you paint. Yes, the raw "material" of love is the thread that weaves our family and traditions together. My hope has always been to model a sense of ingenuity and capability for my children. These are the gifts given to me that have served me best. One project that comes to mind instantly with a smile on my face is our aqua scope and the story behind it. When I think of intergenerational gifts, I must include this portable art studio that was inspired by one my grandmother's craft books. Repurposing and recycling are wonderful practices to teach our children, regardless of our backgrounds. Let's make reinventing a part of all of our traditions!



Me: The organization of Reinvention is so compelling - you offer readers seven commonly found recycled materials, discuss a bit of the history behind each material, and offer tips on sourcing and crafting with each. What really caught my eye was your chapter on working with Tyvek, which is the fabric-like plastic material that is often used in mailers. Tell us how you discovered sewing with used mailers, and what other projects you have used them for. 

Maya: I've always loved sewing with unexpected materials, and Tyvek takes to thread and needle beautifully. I first became intrigued with Tyvek when it landed in my mailbox, and I realized that the only way that I could recycle it was to send it back to its manufacturer. Well, that's a hassle for anyone leading a typical full life. I thought it would be much easier, and definitely more satisfying, to find a new use for it. I squirreled it away until one day when I was looking for an interesting way to package a present.The Tyvek envelope came to mind. After cutting off the top, I stitched some boxed corners on the bottom and turned it inside out. With a simple strap, it was suddenly an indestructible little gift bag that could be used again and again. Easy. I knew that I wanted to incorporate more than the standard recycled fabrics into reinvention. Tyvek is post industrial material needing to be repurposed.

Me: I love how the projects in the book are so useful - you suggest stuffing the wool poufs and the bolster pillow with unused linens, and you designed a genius insulated wool lunch sack. The list goes on and on - these are projects that are, at once, beautiful and utilitarian. Is it something about working with the recycled materials themselves that inspires you to create something useful out of them?

Maya: Thanks, Meg!  I've always been drawn to making things that could be put to work right away. Not that I don't like fun or whimsical, but most of my creating tends to focus on resolving a problem... whether it be storage or not wanting to buy something new that I could actually make.  I always feel more justified in spending the time to create something if it's practical, regardless of the materials I use to construct it. That being said, fabric that has a prior history does feel extra exciting to transform. Making a lunch sack out of sheets of wool would be useful, but reinventing old wool blankets speaks to that resourceful place ingrained in me. There's a universal sense of pride in clever reuse.

Me: My heartfelt thanks for taking the time to stop by and chat about your new book, Maya! 
Maya: Thank YOU, Meg!!
Follow along with the blog tour for the next few weeks!
reinvention: sewing with rescued materials blog tour
week one
5/2- Craft
week two
5/7 Whip Up
5/10 Annekata
week three
5/15 Etsy (tuesday tutorial)
5/17 Made


sponsor giveaway :: turn a new leaf


In 2005 Tracey and Henry started Turn a New Leaf as an outlet for their handiwork and a resource for families who wanted to lead simpler lives, leaving less of a footprint on the natural world - just as they wanted for their own family. Having a family-run business can take its toll on the simple life (I know!), and they continued to pursue their goal of a cozy off-grid home with a livelihood sustained by their handiwork and surroundings, which often meant stepping back, making intentional decisions to downsize, and, in their case, moving a few times. Here's Tracey, in her own words:

We re-evaluated our situation and on a drive home [from Oma and Opa's farm] came to the decision to close down [our retail space] to prepare to move across Canada. Arriving in Cape Breton in August 2010 with a fresh perspective on how we wanted to live and what we wanted Turn A New Leaf to be, we slowly re-established our client base.

Now with clear focus and even more grounded on simplicity we have finally fulfilled this part of our dream. Our products are made exclusively in our home studios with distribution online, providing important focus on our family life. This Easter we finally have our own dream acreage of woods and the natural off grid home begins. Our experience has taught us …… less is truly more!

Read more about their family at their blog.


Comments are now closed - congratulations to Rachel from At the Butterfly Ball who won the giveaway package!

Turn a New Leaf is generously offering the following giveaway package to a Sew Liberated reader. Please leave a comment to enter - a winner will be drawn and announced on Monday, April 30th. Also, Henry's shop, Highland Wood, which offers beautiful Montessori-style floor bed frames and other lovely wooden furniture for children, is offering a 10% discount on everything in the shop through May. Enter coupon code MAYTANL.

The giveaway package

A wool felted puddle pad: Perfect for co-sleeping families and ECers, our thick and thirsty wool pads are perfectly suited to protecting your mattress. Wool is inherently antibacterial and can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture before beginning to feel wet. A natural alternative to plastic or vinyl pads - makes a great change pad!

Wool wash soap -Cold Press natural Lanolin soap: The perfect wool wash bar loaded with lanolin. This soap is not to lanolize but will add lanolin to your wool diaper covers. Makes just enough bubbles and feels silky soft.This lanolin soap can also be used as a body wash. Moistens dry skin and cracked hands. Made with olive oil, coconut oil, lanolin, water, lye. Non scented. 

A certified organic Hemp fitted diaper, one size fits all.

Thank you for your generosity, Tracey and Henry! Leave your comment to enter to win!

imagine childhood springtime giveaway

A fun giveaway for you from Imagine Childhood - one of my go-to stores for finding quality playthings and activities for my boys. Among our recent purchases are the bird and bee garden sprinkles. Can't wait to sow them near our side patio and see what surprises come up!

They have all sorts of seed and garden offerings, as well as a very inspirational spring activity guide, which highlights many of the good ideas in their blog as well as linking to other useful resources.

Imagine Childhood is offering a $75 gift certificate to one of you as well as 10% off all orders between 3/27/12 and 3/30/12.  Enter "Sewliberated" as the discount code at the time of checkout. I'll draw the winner on Thursday night so you can have a chance to fill your Easter basket with springtime goodness! 

Good luck!

The giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Nico Swan, and thanks to Imagine Childhood!

little amigo doll papoose kit giveaway

Just a little bit more about dollies, please? ;) 

The Little Amigo in Growing Up Sew Liberated is accompanied by the oh-so-stellar doll papoose designed by Fabiola Perez-Sitko of Fig and Me. I'm not sure how I happened upon her Etsy shop a looong time ago, but I did, and the moment I saw her handmade doll papoose I knew I needed to ask her if she'd like to publish the design in Growing Up Sew Liberated


I'm so happy I did.

You see, just the thought of Fabiola gives me a big grin. Not only is she a doll-making genius, but she is funny, lighthearted, and she and I share something else - a bit of Spanish back-and-forth. She's from Chihuahua, Mexico, where I lived for three years. In the Spanish language they have a word - chispa - which means a sparkle, twinkle-in-the-eye kind of spunk. Fabiola's got some chispa, folks. 

Love pulled her north to the boreal forest of Canada, where she's raising her two girls on the shore of Lake Superior.

I'm so happy to share the pages of my book with her, and I hope you'll check out her lovely blog and etsy shop, where she periodically lists beautiful dolls for sale. 


Photo by Ginny of Small Things

Shortly after the book was released last summer, Ginny made a gorgeous pair of papooses for her daughters. She also has some tips on downsizing the papoose to fit a small child. 


Photo by Ginny of Small Things

It just so happens that I have just enough Echino fabric (originally used in the Art Satchel kit) to make a papoose. I've paired it with some aqua blue corduroy from my stash, as well as the hardware and strap material that you'll need to make a papoose. Leave a comment to enter to win the doll papoose kit! I'll keep comments open until Monday morning, March 12th. Gook luck!

Comments are closed and we have a lucky papoose-maker - Sunny Loya! Congratulations!

doll papoose supplies


sponsor giveaway :: megan nielsen patterns

Maternity survival pack1
Another fun giveaway for you today! I was thrilled when Megan Nielsen of DIY Maternity contacted me about sponsoring Sew Liberated. I found her site when I was pregnant with Lachlan, and was eyeing all of her uber-stylish maternity patterns. (Then we found out about Lachlan's heart and - well, sewing was on the back burner for a while! ;)

Maternity survival pack2

But I'm really excited that Megan is giving away a Maternity Survival Pack, a collection of four of her most popular mama-with-child patterns, as well as her non-maternity Darling Ranges Dress. Darling Ranges pattern1

A bit more about Megan Nielsen Patterns

Megan Nielsen Patterns are created with the intention of making sewing a more enjoyable rewarding experience, by completely rethinking the way patterns are currently produced. All patterns are full size and come on sturdy semi translucent paper. They are accompanied by a instruction booklet complete with easy to follow directions & diagrams, ideas for how you can customize your design to be more unique (complete with sketches!), a pattern log and place to take notes on your projects. Everything comes packaged in a roomy and sturdy envelope that is easy to close.

Darling Ranges pattern2

Leave a comment to enter! The winner will be drawn at random on Sunday, Jan. 29th, and announced on Monday, Jan. 30th. Good luck!

Comments are now closed!

Use discount code SEWLIBERATED at checkout for 20% off your order.