cozy puzzle time

I think we are far enough out of mega winter for me to share this project without jinxing the weather. Rachel and I spent two months, cooped up inside this winter, working on this 500 piece impossible puzzle. Calling it “impossible” was only slightly an overstatement. When I brought it home, Rachel rolled her eyes and wished me luck. I opened it up, started putting the border together, and about a week later we were both elbow deep in puzzle mania. We would work on it for hours in the evening, and again when we woke up in the morning. The going was slow- sometimes we would stare at the puzzle for almost ten minutes without being able to put two pieces together. We devised all sorts of strategies to tease out subtle differences in color to make construction easier. We were obsessed, and it was fun! Toward the very end we had the idea to take pictures so we could make a GIF. We almost pulled an all-nighter to finish it. At some point we got too tired and had to leave the rest for the morning. Impossible puzzle

When we finished it, we decided that we couldn’t take it apart after all that hard work. I used spray glue to affix the puzzle to an art board. When the glue dried, I painted the top with a clear sealant like Mod Podge.

E-photo 5 (2)

I trimmed the art board and I framed it, and there it stands! It may not be a great work of art, but it kept us entertained in the darkest days of winter. That’s a memory I’d like to keep around.

E-finished puzzle

Hope you enjoyed the mini tour of our little rowhome during this post.



I’ve been on an ice cream kick lately, mainly because Rachel borrowed an ice cream maker from a friend a few weeks ago. We made coffee frozen yogurt, maple ice cream, and then… Rooibos. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but it is a winner. Each bite is an explosion of creamy, tea-infused nectar. Fit for a queen. My mouth is watering as I type and the conclusion of this post will certainly find my tongue wrapped around a scoop of nutty, tea-y, sweet Rooibos ice cream.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 c whole milk
  • 3 Rooibos tea bags (or a couple tablespoons of loose-leaf tea)
  • 1 c cream
  • 1/2 c sugar (or a little less)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ice cream maker

Heat the whole milk and steep the Rooibos tea in it. Let cool. Whisk together the Rooibos-infused milk with the cream, sugar, cinnamon, and egg yolks. Pour into the ice cream maker- follow the manufacturer’s instructions to churn the milk mixture into ice cream. Our ice cream maker has you freeze the bowl for a few hours before churning, assemble the ice cream maker, pour in the milk mixture, and let it churn for 15 minutes.


It’s the perfect treat to cool off on a steamy Philadelphia day. I had to try my hand at photographing it so I could share it with you. I think the pictures turned out pretty well. I tried taking pictures of the ice cream on a cone, but they were the same color!


Making ice cream as many times as we did left us with tons of egg whites. We made angel food cake (which is surprisingly easy to make from scratch) to use them up.



Hello lovelies! 

I am transferring my site’s domain tonight, so it may be down for an hour or two. Have no fear! It should be up again soon. From now on I will only use the web address. I will no longer be using the web address. It’s probably a good idea to update your bookmark. 

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this goes smoothly. Wish me luck!




My friend Emily is so fun to sew for. She is tall and leggy and gorgeous; everything looks great on her. She brings all her sewing projects to me, and despite several last minute Halloween costumes she has needed in the past (like the Hershey Kiss dress of 2012 ), I can’t complain. This winter she asked me to make her this dress from the blog a Pair and a Spare. We spent an afternoon making the dress, but she hadn’t had a chance to wear it until it got hot out recently. This is the dress we modeled it after:


The tutorial was simple to follow- we made a maxi skirt and attached a long, wide strip of fabric (the bodice using) to the waistband using a zig zag stitch.

Directions and a video can be found here.


The main modifications we made to this tutorial were 1) to use a thicker fabric than recommended, and 2) to use a longer piece of fabric for the bodice so we could wrap it around her more. Using stretchy fabric also extended the wrapping potential.


I used my serger to make a simple rolled hem.

E-em3 E-em5

I love seeing how much she enjoys wearing the clothes I make for her, and it is always a good excuse to make the trip out of the city to visit her. She is also a very talented painter and decorator, so sometimes there is an EXPLOSION of creativity when we are in the same room.

Thank you to A Pair and A Spare for this great tutorial!

Gettysburg_sewing factory

Last weekend I went on a girls’ weekend with several female family members to Gettysburg, PA. After a slow day spent in the car, listening to an audio tour, and driving around the battlefields of Gettysburg, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant across the street from a sign that said: Sewing Factory. Despite my hunger, I perked right up and had to investigate (nothing says adventure like sewing, amirite!? *sarcasm*). The building is now inhabited by the offices of some lawyers and a dentist, but this plaque pays homage to its beginnings as a sewing factory. I dub this the best historical discovery of the trip. Three cheers for sewing history!


That’s the after picture. Here’s the before:

blue dress before

This is another thrift store dress. It started as sort of a prairie dress with shoulder pads, but I loved the detail on the front and the general structure of the dress. The waist fit, but everything else was too big.  Excuse all the awkward faces in these photos. That is about all I had in me when we were taking these pictures.

First I ripped off the sleeves. Then I used chalk to draw a new neckline. I followed this tutorial from Cotton and Curls to make a facing. You can faintly see a yellow chalk line above the bust in this picture where I drew the new neckline.

in progress

The top of the dress was baggy under the arms without the sleeves, so I took it in at the side seams above the waistline before I sewed the facing on.  Here is the dress post-cutting/pre-taking in side seams and pre-facing.

pre facing

I used twill tape for the straps, both blue and white (the white is under the blue)

The back of the dress originally had 6 buttons holding it together, spaced widely apart. When I lowered the neckline, there were only two buttons left on the dress. I added two more buttonholes and sewed on two of the previously removed buttons. The first and third buttons from the top are the ones I added.


I also lopped off about 4 inches from the hem so the dress hits just above my knees.


That’s it! Now I’ve got a nice airy fit and flare dress to wear this summer.

Thanks to my sis Ro for these pictures. I drove down to visit her and she was kind enough to photograph all my recent sewing projects. She has been away for the past 5 months in Spain, and I am so happy to have her home!

dress // thrifted / altered :: bag // thrift store :: shoes // Shoemint

And I’ll leave you all with a spinning picture:



slink cover

Note: I felt like this was a good follow up to my last post with all those pictures of me in a bikini. I’m such a big advocate of body positivity, and I was ecstatic to find this magazine. Read on for more of my thoughts:

I am totally in love with SLiNK magazine from the UK.

You all know I’m not big on “fashion.” For SLiNK, I make an exception. SLiNK is a fashion magazine that just happens to be about plus size women- it normalizes plus size fashion. These women are gorgeous and fabulous, no qualifiers. To me, SLiNK is all about promoting body positivity. Here, fashion is agent of change. I’m 100% down with that.

slink 2


When first saw these fashion shoots, I was blown away. These women are fabulous. There are 4 recent issues you can read for free online. I ate them up like candy and I want more.



If/when I have children (daughters?), I want to have many copies of this magazine lying around the house. I want them to see images of beauty that will combat the images of thinness they will be bombarded with every time they leave the house. It would be great if everyone was happy and healthy and no body shaming went on and people of all sizes were accepted everywhere, but that is not the world we live in.


We all need a healthy dose of body positivity. SLiNK is a good place to start.

slink 3

All images via



So this one time I tried my hand at making a bathing suit and it worked out really well.

When one of my sisters (I have two) came to me moaning, “Claire, I just need one of those high-waisted bikini bottoms that are all the rage this spring!” I couldn’t help myself. Visions of this bikini swam (pun intended) through my head.

I found this phenom 4-way stretch fabric remnant at this crazy discount fabric place called Jomar in south Philly. What is it made of? I do not know, but it feels like super thick bathing suit fabric and seems to hold up in the water (I checked it in the sink before beginning bathing suit construction). The fabric has all these gorgeous bands of marbled purple, grey, tan, and black. I used less than a yard to m.ake this bikini

So here is a picture of the front and back of the bikini (also this is what my bod looks like, in case you care).


I started with a  tutorial and pattern from Sew Mama Sew (link here), and made alterations to the pattern. This is a great basic pattern for making a bikini if you have never made one.

I cut out the size 8 and added 3 inches to the top to make it high-waisted. From there, I followed the pattern instructions, except that I added a 1.5 inch waistband rather than sewing elastic around the waist. (I made basically the same bottom for my sister, but in a different size)

bottom diagram



The instructions for drafting the bikini top were what made me choose this pattern. They are straightforward and easy to follow. I drafted the top according to the instructions in about 10 minutes. I made the pattern for the top according to the tutorial instructions, but I changed the construction. The alterations I made from this point on are a little harder to explain. Bear with me while I explain.

Here is the finished top:


inside of top

I made two straps, 22″ long and about 2.5″ wide. Rather than leaving the top  hem rounded, I attached the straps to the outer third of the top hem and then trimmed the inner two thirds straight. I gathered the middle of the top (per the tutorial). I added elastic to the edges of the top and bottom. I lined the back pieces of the top and attached them to the front. I stabilized side seams with double rows of stitching. I cut the back hook closure from an old bra to use as the back closure of the bikini top.


bikini top diagram

And details:


The top feels pretty secure. I wear a 32 DD or DDD bra, and this feels like a light sports bra. I considered adding cups and a wire, but I wanted something more sporty. I think the key with the support here was attaching the halter straps to the top along a wide region rather than only at one point.

Thanks to the same sister (Ro) who inspired this project for taking pictures. She seems very happy with the bikini bottom I made for her, and is going to wear it with a black bikini top she already has. In the end, I made two sets of bottoms and one top. We’re ready to hit the pool!



bikini // self made :: earrings // vintage and Spotted Moth :: sunglasses // street vendor in France


WA folder

I want to make sure I wear the clothes I spend time creating.

To this end, I worked my way through Colletterie’s Wardrobe Architect (this is the folder I keep my notes in). It is a series of blog posts and activities to help one think critically about what you actually wear. It was like therapy for my disorganized creative process. It helped me to get a better picture of my style and intentionally choose my next projects.

For example, I often find myself looking through my drawers and hating all my shirts. I wear only a few of my tops that I have. So I should make some more tops. The Wardrobe architect helped point me in the direction of which tops I actually wear- v-necks, wraps, and collared shirts in earthy tones.

Apparently I needed something to tell me this, since I hadn’t been able to figure it out till now.

I didn’t participate in Me-Made-May this year, but I followed along with the many sewists who did.  I’d like to participate next year, so I’ve got some work to do.  This post from Paunnet just about said it- If I wear something as soon as it comes out of the wash, then I should make another one. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Some things I’m going to focus on this summer:

  • V neck teeshirts
  • Shorts to wear under short dresses
  • Adding pockets to dresses

I’m going to expand my exploration after this. I’d like to be more mindful and minimalistic about all the crafty non-sewing DIY things I make too. But more on that later. Don’t worry, I’m still going to finish my summer dress series, like I planned. But what comes next, and in between- that needs intention and planning.

I linked this post to the Weekly Wishes Linkup on Nectar Collective.

E-DSC_0104 copy

So after last weekend’s miserable fail, I looked through my fabric stash for another Nettie attempt.  I found a green ribbed lycra/cotton blend with well over the 50% stretch recommended. The ponte I used last week barely had 50% stretch, and the green ribbed blend for this dress easily stretches past the 50% mark. Pay attention to fabric stretch if you make a Nettie. As you can see, the green ribbed blend works well!

In addition to the same modifications I made to the last dress, I also added even more room in the shoulders and bust- I added a full two inches to the top of the shoulders and graded the sides of the bust to a size 14. The rest of the dress is a size 12. It is still a little tight under the arms! But it fits.


I also made the sleeves longer than the short sleeves. I cuffed, ironed, and tacked the hem of each sleeve in place (rather than sewing all the way around). I used my serger on all the seams except the hem. For the hem, I sewed a straight stitch while stretching the fabric.


I also went back to my original Nettie to see if I could make it wearable. To do this, I cut off the sleeves and deepened the armholes 2 inches under each arm. I also ripped off the original binding around the neck and then cut out the back of the dress for the medium back option. I’m wearing the dress over a sports bra in these pictures, but the dress completely covers a regular underwire bra.


So now I have two Nettie dresses to wear all summer. The green ribbed dress is pretty clingy and very comfortable, while the grey ponte is smoother and silkier. I’m saving this pattern in my pattern folder, but I think I’m done with it for now. Figuring out the fit was a challenge, and I am proud that I was able to make it work. Makes me want to try another commercial pattern… maybe something with a woven fabric?


Thanks to my sister Ro for taking these photos.