I’ve been dying to sew something with my fabric collection, Eloise’s Garden and over the holidays finally had a chance to do just that. I’ve had the Colette Pattern’s Violet blouse for ages and it seemed high time to give it a go. So, the details:
* I made Version 2 of the blouse (the option with the mid-length sleeves).
* I traced off a size 0 and graded to a size 2 at the hem. Aside from that, I didn’t make any modifications to the pattern and it fits perfectly. When sewing shirts, I typically make a short back waist length adjustment (I’m 5’5) and lower armholes. I didn’t run into any fit issues in these areas, sewing the pattern as is.
*I’m definitely planning to sew this blouse again, probably using the no facing hack. I like plackets in shirt patterns better than facings, so it’s more a matter of personal preference going that route. Here’s the link to that pattern hack if that’s your jam, too.
* I sort of hemmed and hawed about doing the buttonholes by hand, but just went with machine made buttonholes in the end.
And that’s that! I’m trying to figure out what to sew next using Eloise’s Garden. I love the Stars Hollow Quilt Pattern from Suzy Quilts and have that on my to sew list. I’d really like to sew another Archer shirt. And because the collection includes a couple of prints in rayon (!), I’m planning to sew Chantilly from Colette. Decisions, decisions…
A bit of the old - 2018
The past year included: six Taproot magazine covers, the releases of Mama’s Belly and Anne Arrives and my new fabric line, “Eloise’s Garden.” I worked on illustrations for Anne’s Kindred Spirits and started sketches for a 2020 picture book. And I finally finished my Queens of England project (a year late, but who’s counting). I also worked on several embroidery pieces and kept experimenting with textiles. And I filled up many, many sketchbook pages.
More generally speaking, I did some traveling, both near (midcoast Maine) and far (Ireland) and slightly in between (Texas). I kept a garden, ran my first 5K and read a bunch of books. I spent time with cousins I hadn’t seen in decades at my grandmother’s funeral in October, that weekend being one of the dearest 2018 memories I have. And in general, kept keeping on.
And the new / 2019
As 2018 came to a close, I was badly burnt out. Talking about burnt out is difficult. There’s a desire to be transparent about what a creative career looks like, but the fear of appearing anything less than 100% eager and capable is intimidating. So what to do? I took time off over the holidays and looked long and hard at things. I’d like to say I’ve made some earth-shattering discoveries, but I haven’t. I’m still figuring things out, trying to understand that balance between earning a living and making work I love. It’s an ongoing process, but I’m hoping to dig deeper into that this new year, and to allow things to evolve.
More specifically? I’ve decided to read 24 books, take more professional development days, run another 5K (or two), get back into garment sewing and to limit screen time. I’m trying to let 2019 shape up organically, to let things shift as need be. I’d love to paint a mural. Maybe go camping. There’s an artist residency I want to apply for. And I definitely want to go swimming in the ocean, when the weather finally permits.
So on to 2019!
Happiest of happy holiday seasons! Here’s a free download, some gift tags I illustrated.
You'll need a PDF reader to open these. Before printing, I recommend adjusting your printer settings for highest output quality (especially if you choose to run these on card stock). Feel free to print as many as you like for personal, school or library use. Enjoy!
:: Download Here ::
After visiting Ireland in February, I came back with a sketchbook and camera full of images. For ages, I’ve been wanting to make a book with all this inspiration, so when the opportunity to partner with Blurb came up, I was thrilled to make my travel journal idea a reality. I’m a big fan of Blurb’s products that allow people to unleash their creativity through custom printed photo books , magazines , notebooks and more. I knew Blurb’s photo books would be the perfect format for my Irish travel journal, A Green Island.
To get inspired, I spent time browsing the Blurb Bookstore , looking at other travel books. There’s so many great examples in the Blurb Bookstore (and it definitely further fueled my wanderlust — Iceland, I’m looking at you). From there, I gathered images from my sketchbook, photographs I took abroad and artwork I’ve been creating this year inspired by Ireland. While Blurb offers a great free desktop publishing platform, BookWright, I decided I wanted a totally hands-on design process. For that reason, I chose to use the Blurb Adobe InDesign Plug-In . I love that the the plug-in takes all of the guess work out of the design process, but gives me the freedom to design the book exactly like I want it to look. Basically, the Blurb Adobe InDesign Plug-In offers complete creativity, no hassle and I’m a big fan of it.
For format, I decided to create a Layflat Photo Book (the Small Square 7x7”). I love how beautifully the Layflat Photo Book allows images to shine, without the gutter (the middle of the book) eating up an image. And I felt like my illustrations reproduced really well on the Standard Layflat paper, which has this wonderful heft, too. If you’re curious about paper quality and image reproduction, I’d definitely suggest ordering a Blurb Swatch Kit first (an added bonus, along with your swatch kit order comes a promo code allowing you to apply the cost of the kit toward your own book purchase).
When my copy of A Green Island arrived, I was absolutely thrilled. The colors are vibrant, the print quality terrific and the memories it contains bring me so much joy. I know this book is something I’ll treasure for years, a reminder of one of my very favorite places in the world. And making this book has me wanting to make many more travel journals in the future! All of those photos on my phone from Quebec? The ticket stubs from New York City? I feel like these all need to make their way into a book, someday.
So have you ever made a travel journal? A book inspired by your summer vacation? Let me know, I’d love to hear what you created!
The end result of four very intense months of work is a very disastrous studio. So today I’ve been sorting, pitching, scrubbing, attempting to put things back to right. But I wanted to pop in to say that I’m dusting off my email newsletter and will be sending that out again starting this week. I’ll be including shop updates, creative inspiration and subscriber-only downloads and if you’d like to read, there’s a signup on the sidebar of this blog (scroll down a bit to find it).
The calendar informs me that I have five days left in which to refer to the current season as, “summer.” And that being so, I’m taking advantage of the fact in the titling of this post (even if it is being accompanied by an illustration of a woman kitted out for cooler temps).
The past few months have been busy with work, full with life and attempts at balancing the two. Deadlines have been intense, but I did manage to fit in a trip to the amazing Maine Botanical Garden for my birthday and had a visit with family shipping overseas. Other things as of late:
* Eloise’s Garden, my first fabric collection comes out in November!
* I gave gardening a go for the first time this summer after binge watching Monty Don on Netflix. I had good luck with peas, scallions and small pumpkins, but no joy with sweet pea or basil. And the swiss chard is surviving, but barely, because apparently goldfinch have a taste for it. I’ve already put in another row of peas, figuring it nothing else I’ll have shoots for salads and plans for radish.
* Speaking of gardens, my mom had a bumper crop of zucchini so I made this zucchini chocolate bread and it’s outstanding. My grandmother used to make a similar cake and baking it was 100% an act of nostalgia for me.
* One of my favorite reads so far this year has been The Map Thief. Please, someone in Hollywood, make this a movie.
I’ve missed blogging regularly. Overhauling this space took longer than I’d initially thought, but all’s well that end’s well, right? So now to catch up on the past few months, and to start with, Ireland.
I’ve wanted to visit Ireland since I was a child and the star’s aligned to make it a possibility this past February. A friend that I’d shared my travel plans with mentioned that for those of Irish heritage, there’s an unexplainable connection with the land that one feels upon touching down. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but tucked it away in the back of my mind.
But now I understand. Fully.
Visiting Ireland felt like returning home, home in the purest, most complete sense that I’ve ever known. I’ve tried to rationally explain this sensation, but I can’t come up with a plausible theory. All I know is that something that was buried deep within my being felt a sense of true belonging and deep joy. And to leave that ached. I’ve spent ages on the Irish immigration website, attempting to understand residency requirements, visas and other ways that this American might make a longterm stay in that land. And I’m not sure how to make that a reality, but want to, somehow, someday.
But more practically, in the meantime?
* Ireland is beautiful in the winter. If you’re hesitant about visiting during that time of year, don’t be: it’s as stunning then as ever. February was by turns rainy, blustery, grey and drizzly. But we also had days of glorious sun and afternoons where a coat wasn’t needed. I’d go back to Ireland in the winter in a heartbeat.
* We ended up staying at a rental in New Quay, in County Clare (The Flaggy Shore). The house was terrific and our host wonderful — if anyone wants contact information, don’t hesitate to write me! The location was a perfect jumping off point for the places we visited: Galway, The Burren, The Cliffs of Moher, Knock and Connemara. I was only in Dublin for a couple hours after arriving, but did manage to visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells. I wish I’d made it to County Cork (where most of my family came from), but the west of Ireland won my heart, for sure.
* Assorted other places I visited: Wooden Heart in Galway is the most wonderful toy store (and has many beautiful children’s books). Corcomroe Abbey is beautiful. I’d love to live in Kinvara. Linnane’s made the best crab cakes I’ve ever had (and their Friday night music sessions are a delight). Linnalla Ice Cream was the stuff dreams are made of. The Moycullen bogs captured my imagination. And visit Brigid’s well.
* Other general recommendations? Get off the beaten path. Ask questions. Bring a raincoat. Wear waterproof shoes. Drink a Guinness (or two). Be prepared to be amazed.
The latest issue of Taproot Magazine is out, including my cover illustration! There's some terrific articles in this issue and I'm itching to knit the included shawl pattern. Random asides, I have a braided rug like the one pictured (made by my grandmother), own a plaid winter jacket as shown (albeit grey), but have regrettably never lived anywhere with a fireplace (life goals).