Closer

Around this time last year, I was signing a contract for the book now known as Modern Style for Girls. It simultaneously feels like yesterday and forever.

Writing craft books is not for the impatient. The process — and it’s definitely a process — takes around 18 months. There are times when it’s the only thing you’re doing and it just consumes every waking minute of your day. And then there are times when you sort of forget that you’ve written a book because you’re not actively working on it and it’s not time to start digging into the promotion of it.

final pages

Less than two weeks ago, I spent eight days reading, reviewing and marking up the final proof of Modern Style for Girls. It’s the first time I was able to see the book laid out and designed, and the last time I’ll see it before it’s printed and bound.

It’s such a different experience, seeing my words and photographs pulled together in book form for the first time. I’m so fortunate that my daughter and her friends happily modeled for me. It makes me smile to see them wearing what I designed and made, and know that other people will soon be able to make the same garments.

The Countdown Begins

Growing up, we always had these cool German advent calendars to help us mark off the days until Christmas. My mom was German and it was such a key part of my childhood memories that I continued the tradition with my own kids.

The boys are all grown up now (and might be known for plowing through an entire calendar in one sitting rather than opening one door each night) but we continue to get advent calendars for them and their little sister. In recent years I’ve considered making one — because nothing makes you feel quite like an underperforming crafty mom like the Internet — but never quite found a style that really meshed with my taste.

Enter this handy little book:

Countdown Calendars popped up on my radar earlier this year and I couldn’t have been more excited*. There are several countdown events with calendars and a nice selection that are just perfect for the Christmas season. Some of the designs aren’t really my style but one really stood out to me and I quickly picked out some fabrics for it to create a shop sample.

Candy Cane Lane

Candy Cane Lane (p. 16) is pretty fun and leaves a lot of room for personalizing. The book calls for button numbers but I opted to use my expensive paperweight embroidery machine instead. If I had to do it again, I’d leave off the flat piping. I struggled to get it to lay flat; there’s just too much bulk in the seams with all the on-point stuff (which is definitely not my strong suit).

It also merits pointing out that I’m not a quilter and also should not work on projects after 9 p.m. I was so eager to finish the calendar that I kept working until 11 p.m. After I finished the entire thing (including the binding), I realized that “squaring up” is not quite what happened. In fact, the top edge of the project has a very noticeable slant. Feel free to copy me — it’s a trend I’m sure will be all the rage in the coming year. *wink*

Miss L is excited about using it and I’ve already loaded up each pocket with a piece of Dove chocolate.

*Disclosure: The book is published by Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing, which is also my publisher. I paid retail for this book at my local LQS. I received no compensation for writing about this book and all opinions are mine.

Get Inspired

inspired to sew

I’m honored to kick off Bari J.‘s Inspired to Sew blog tour today. Her new book is a beautiful work filled with her signature style and projects I can’t wait to make (and I think you’ll want to sew them, too). Bari’s asked each blog tour host to share what inspires us to sew. Here’s my story:

My mother and daughter share a dimpled chin, a love of crafting and a huge part of my heart — and credit for inspiring me to sew. They have never met — can never meet — but I like to think my sewing brings them a little closer together.

I remember growing up and thinking my mom could make anything. Time and again she’d prove it by turning piles of fabric into my favorite outfits. I’ve combed through family photos again and again, trying to find ones that showed the skirts, the tees, the dresses, the Halloween costumes she made but it seems my memories are really all I have.

After I became a mom, my mother turned her talents to sewing for her grandsons, happily creating blankets and costumes for the boys who stole her heart. She satisfied her desire for a granddaughter by sewing for my much-younger female cousins, whipping up doll clothes and dresses.

And then she was gone.

Which led to me convincing Honey our family might not be complete after all. And three years later we brought home the sweetest, silliest, most amazing baby girl, who fills our home and our lives with so much joy. How could I not give her the same kind of love my own mother showed me? I bought a new sewing machine and began to sew for the first time in years — and the first time ever that I could not call my mom and have her talk me through a problem.

I’ve sewn countless yards of fabric in the past six years, enough clothes to fill a closet (or three) and even written a book — all inspired by my mother and daughter. I sew with love, the way my mother taught me, and the way I hope to teach my daughter, too.

Are you Inspired to Sew? I hope so — and I hope you’ll comment on this post so you can win your very own copy of Bari’s book. Tell me why you’re inspired to sew between now and noon Thursday, Feb. 3. I’ll draw a winner from the comments and announce it here on the blog and probably over on my Twitter, too. And be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour, too:

Feb 1, Jennifer Paganelli: Sis Boom!

Feb 2, Jona Giammalava: Stop Staring and Start Sewing

Feb 3, Rashida Coleman Hale: I Heart Linen

Feb 4, Sarah Fielke: The Last Piece

Feb 5, Jenny Doh: Crescendoh

Feb 6, Cara Wilson: Cara Quilts

Feb 7, Deborah Moebes: Whipstitch Fabrics

Feb 8, Monica Solorio-Snow: The Happy Zombie

Feb 9, Susanne Woods: Stash Books (giving away a stack of Bari’s Full Bloom fabric!)

P.S. That cool I’m Inspired to Sew blog badge is available on Bari’s blog. Go get one for yourself!

Revelations

I’ve started this post in my head so many times in the past year but nothing ever sounded right. Too flippant, too dramatic, too not me. And now that I finally can write it, share it, shout it from the rooftops, I find that a picture is truly worth 1,000 words — or maybe closer to 23,000 words:

Coming November 2010 from Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing.

It has been so hard not to talk about this. Writing a book has been a dream of mine since childhood; seeing that dream come to life over the past year is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. And I can’t wait to share it with all of you in just a few, short months.

Thank you for tolerating my sporadic blogging, my absence from your blogs and the sometimes annoying hints about The Project. I hope you’ll think it was worth it all.