Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Quilt for Christmas


 As some of you know, Bert did not arrive on his due date, nor anywhere near his due date, but instead was born thirteen days past his due date, which meant he was born on December 25th: also known as Christmas.

For the record, I don't think they should give you a "due date," because fixating on one day makes you completely psychotic at a time in your life when you don't need any help in that department, especially when every time you leave the house, someone inevitably says to you "You STILL haven't had that baby yet?!?"

May I propose instead that we all have due "time frames?"

(...And that no one ever be allowed to utter the phrase "You STILL haven't had that baby yet?!?")

The further and further (and further) I went past my due date, people would see me sans baby, and still very much with belly, and say one of two things:

"Maybe you'll have him on Christmas!"

Or the more frequent advice (as if I had some control in the matter):

"Whatever you do, DON'T have him on Christmas!"

My response was always "I don't care when he comes as long as he comes on his own."

I was lucky to have a midwife who supported my decision to "wait it out," and I'm so glad I did, because Bert did come on his own, and I personally think it is very cool to have a baby born on Christmas.

My memories of the time Ollie and I spent in the hospital with our newborn baby are probably my favorite ever...

I remember finally making the phone calls to our friends and family that baby Bert was here, my mother and sister driving over at 3 in the morning for Bert's first snuggles, my father arriving at 5 in the morning with tears in his eyes, my three best friends sneaking away from their own families for a visit in the afternoon, joking that the baby Jesus may have had three wise men come visit him, but Bert had three wise women!

I remember the OB had to give me a few stitches and me asking him exactly what kind of stitch was he using, because I was a quilter and liked to know such things...

(Too much information?)

I remember most of all a very round head and two huge eyes blinking up at me when we finally saw each other for the first time: not so much with the look of "instant love" you always see in the movies, but more with a look of "what the hell just happened to us?"

And I remember my midwife kissing me on the forehead, telling me I had done a good job, then looking at the clock and saying: "He was born on Christmas: you get to take home the quilt!"

Say what???

What I did not know about having a Christmas baby at Miles Memorial Hospital in little Damariscotta, Maine, was that there was a quilt-y tradition involved...

 Of course, had I known, I would have been gunning for a Christmas baby all along!

The tradition began in 1995, when a local lady, Julie Stegna, (who also happens to be a FABULOUS quilter) had a Christmas baby of her own.

She made a small quilt and brought it back to the hospital to be given to the next Christmas baby, and she wrote her good wishes for that baby and their family on the back of the quilt.

Instead of keeping that quilt for themselves, the family who had the 1996 Christmas baby kept it for one year, then wrote their own good wishes on the back of the quilt, and returned it to the hospital in the hopes of continuing the tradition for all future Christmas babies.

When I received the quilt in 2012, it had gone to 7 families total, and each of those families had kept the quilt for one year, written their sentiments with a fabric marker on the back of the quilt, then brought it back to the hospital.

The quilt is in amazing shape for something that has been well-loved and passed between 7 different families (8 including ours) for the past 18 years, but here's where the line between coincidence and divine intervention gets a bit blurry:

When it came to us, there was only enough room on the quilt's backing for one more family to write their wishes and memories.

Does this qualify as a Christmas miracle, or what?

That the quilt should come to me (someone who happens to have made a quilt or two in her day), when the tradition may have come to a close had it gone to a non-crafty mom, is beyond priceless: if I read this in a story or saw it in a movie, I wouldn't believe it.

Perhaps even less plausible is the fact that over the past few weeks I was able to piece and quilt a new Christmas Baby Quilt for the hospital.

Although my quilt could never have as much love as the original (I confess it never would have occurred to me to make a quilt for future Christmas babies if this local lady hadn't done so first),
I'm honored and blessed to bring the Christmas Baby Quilt tradition full circle, and I look forward to a future full of new traditions, quilt-y and otherwise, with my own Christmas baby.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, from the Alewives MOM!



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

For Elise...

Bert has a little best friend, Miss Elise.

They've had a playdate together every Wednesday afternoon since they were born.

Sewing for a little boy is all well and fine, but I have to admit when Elise's first birthday rolled around I was totally jazzed to make something girly.

I've been wanting to make the Baby In The Hood Jacket from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings book ever since the pre-baby days, so that is just what I did for Elise.

Little by little, stitch by stitch, stolen moment by stolen moment, I finally finished her jacket.

I used an out of print Denyse Schmidt canvas weight for the jacket's exterior, an organic Cloud 9 flannel for the lining, and I fussy cut an Anna Maria Horner print from her "Good Folks" line for the detail-y bits (along the button placket and down the middle of the hood).

As you can see, Elise has the most gorgeous hair, skin and eyes, so a lot of thought went into colors that would be just right for her, but with the added challenge of using what I had in my stash.

I also wanted to satisfy my craving to sew something girly but didn't want to make the jacket too "pink."  I never thought buying clothes for a boy would be easier than buying clothes for a girl, but if you aren't into pink it can be VERY hard to find something for a little girl to wear.

I love how it turned out, and it was a pleasure (I repeat: a PLEASURE!) to stitch up this jacket.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Handmade Beginnings book is just phenomenal.

I've yet to encounter a single mistake or poorly written direction, and I return to this book over and over and over again for all my baby sewing needs.

 I have some Christmas/birthday sewing I'd like to do for Bert, not the least of which is his very own Baby In The Hood Jacket.

Don't you think he needs one, too?




I've received some insider information that it may be getting hard/impossible to find a copy of Handmade Beginnings at your local quilt shop.  Once I got wind of the story behind the story (from Miss Anna Maria herself), I stockpiled copies for the shop.  If you're one of the few people who still doesn't have a copy and would like one, let me know and I'll set one aside for you before they are gone for good!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I see your true colors

New fabrics have arrived...

The proverbial Boatload with a capital "B".

"True Colors" (a line of modern basics, some of you old timers out there might call these "blenders").

Also Dowry, some gorgeous V&A prints, and so much fabric-y goodness I think my head's gonna 'splode.

We're uploading them as fast as our fingers can go, but if you're local you can come and see them in person.   Did you see the super-cute free pants pattern from Anna Maria?  She's awfully nice to share.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013




Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oh no she din't!

Oh yes she did.

But in my defense I was defense-less against these fabrics.

I simply had to have them.

Thank you, JoAnn's, for putting your best cheese on sale for 30% off.

No skin off my nose.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

3 years ago...

It was sunny and windy and a great day to get married.

I want to thank you, Mike McD, for breaking my heart in 2005.

Things have worked out pretty well for me since then ;-)



Speaking of such things, congratulations to my dear friend Kyra.  I'm honored to share an anniversary week with you!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

From the archives...

I was dusting off dusty things the other day... including my computer.

I came across this old blog post and thought it would be fun to re-visit.


Love Letter (originally posted February, 2009)

Seeing as its almost Valentine's Day I thought I should write a letter publicly declaring my undying devotion to...

Kaffe Fassett.

"Eh???" I hear you say.

You were expecting someone else's name?

Something that begins with "O" and ends with "liver"?


Allow me to explain.

Let me count the ways that I love Kaffe Fassett

(Sorry, Ollie...)

1) I love that when I met Kaffe at a workshop he taught a couple years ago he was exactly what I expected: 1 part diva, 1 part artiste, 1 part brutally honest, all parts fabulous. I loved that Kaffe would come around and look at my quilt in progress and it would make me so nervous, like I was in school again, and he would suggest something to me. But he wouldn't just suggest. Even his comments were works of art. I remember one comment almost verbatim: He said to me, of a pink fabric I had put on my design wall,

"Alright, love. Now that you've gotten that horrible lipstick color out of your system let's take it down and put up something even better. Something like a dirty, dishwater lilac perhaps."

You can't see it via the computer but I am shaking with laughter as I type this. Honest.

But the best part was (and I'm not making this up), ten minutes later, Kaffe's partner, Brandon came by and said "That's nice but I liked the pink color better..."

Now, that's entertainment.

2) Having said that, I love that Kaffe was nice to me. He had a couple of suggestions, but on the whole, he really liked my colors. He said I had "the most fabulous fabrics in the world at my finger-tips." (He was talking about his own collection, by the way).

Was it cheating to go to a workshop hosted by Kaffe and use Kaffe Fassett fabrics? Was it just too easy? Nah. In my defense, I used a lot of other fabrics. And all the other kids were doing it, too. But for the record, if he had been mean to me and not liked my colors I probably would have had to change professions and wouldn't be able to show my face in this town again.
Luckily it all turned out okay.

3) I love that he uses Color. That's right, Color with a capital "C" because so many palettes these days are playing it safe and Kaffe would certainly never be accused of that. They call it "Glorious" for a reason.

4) I love that every time he comes out with a new collection, the store makes all kinds of money. Interesting side note: If I ever get to meet Amy Butler, I'm going to tell her the exact same thing.

5) Last but not least, and on a completely serious note, I love that "Kaffe" is his own genre. Know what I mean? When you walk into a quilt shop, they usually have everything sectioned off: Batiks over here, Reproduction prints over here, Asian prints over here, and if the shop carries Kaffe Fassett fabrics, they always say "And the Kaffe's are over here..."

He has his own flippin' section!

How cool is that?

There really is no one else who has done that. Nobody knocks off Kaffe, because nobody comes close. He does his own thang and he does it well.

Shouldn't we all be so lucky, no matter what we are doing with our lives?

So, that's why I love Kaffe Fassett so much.

And by the way, dearies, it rhymes with "Safe Asset."

As in, "You have a Safe Asset with Kaffe Fassett."

And that is straight from the man himself.

Love comes in all shapes and ways, you know...

Happy Valentine's Day to you, no matter who you Love!



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finish line


That was a crazy last three weeks.

Between the Quilt Show, the in-store clearance sale and the online clearance sale and the craziness that is August in Maine I am wiped out.

Bert, Ollie and I wanted to wish you all a happy end of summer and hope you take some time to enjoy it all, even if things are a bit hectic.

I'll be back soon!



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Online Midsummer Clearance Sale has begun!

The fabric store at the end of the rainbow!

Head over to all online orders 20% off through tomorrow, Sunday August 11th.  Sale ends at midnight EST.  Discount does not apply to shipping charges and won't show up in your final order or confirmation e-mail, but we will manually change the price on our end, you can count on that!

If you're local you can place your order online and leave us a note saying you'd like to pick your fabric up in person... we'll give you a call when your order is ready.

Have fun, dearies!



Monday, August 5, 2013

Heard and seen at Maine Quilts 2013

I feel like a gossip columnist! 

I snapped a very few photos at Maine Quilts this year: nothing that will get me sued, I hope. 

Of particular interest was this lovely Tidal Tote handbag made with a Tula Pink "Saltwater" print, paired with batiks, made by a customer of ours.

 I also loved this straw handbag embellished with fabric strips.  Got my wheels turnin'.

On the fashion front, we have Miss MaryBeth in theWashi Dress she made in my class.

She's rockin' this look and literally left a trail of inspired onlookers in her wake, whom she promptly sent to our booth to purchase the pattern.

Thanks, MaryBeth... I'll give you your commission later!

And we wanted to make a "splash" with our booth this year, so we brought some vintage garden fixtures including a little free standing fountain.



It was also Bert's first Quilt Show.
He was our best helper at set-up time, but Baba had the best job of all, don't you think?



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

SEAM Block Party!

SEAM is celebrating summer at Alewives Fabrics with a BLOCK PARTY!  Free and open to all!  Sunday, August 4th from 1:00 to 4:00 we'll be making "St. Louis Sixteen Patch" blocks. The Sixteen Patch is a very easy block, even for a beginner.  If you've never sewn up a quilt block before, but always wanted to try, we'll help you get a couple made at the meeting.  Bring two fat quarters with you (one red and one white) and we'll stitch up these blocks for a charity quilt (or two... or three!).   Bring your own machine or use one of ours here at the shop. Rotary cutters, mats, rulers and irons will be available to use, but feel free to bring your own tools, too.  We'll be serving refreshments, and it's also the last day of Alewives' 20% off Midsummer Clearance Sale. See you there!
 PS...  Don't forget that we'll be doing show and tell, too!  Bring your latest project, a favorite fabric, a handy tool... anything you'd like to share with your fellow sewing enthusiasts and artists of Maine! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Quick post while he's napping...

Bert has just recently (and I mean "within the last two weeks recently") begun to sleep and nap on his own, in his crib, without being held.

It's a whole new ball game and it does mean I have a bit more time for internet endeavors and sewing.

I've *almost* got not one, but TWO washi dresses ready to share with you, but I also wanted to show you something I managed to sew in those first few months when Bert was literally a handful.

It's a pincushion that was given away at the Pincushion Swap we held a few weeks back...

Don't cry for me, Argentina, but I was up until 3 o'clock in the morning finishing this pincushion the night before the swap.

It's made up of 1/2" hexies and completely sewn by hand.

It's not that I'm a glutton for punishment, it's just that I do love to sew hexies... and I do love a bit of hand-sewing and some late night TV.

That's a vintage Bakelite button in the center.

Gotta love the Bakelite. 

And this one little block was another late night endeavor.

Just five stolen minutes of sewing and a bit of finger pressing and it was done.

Maybe it will become something some day, but it felt good just to sew something without an agenda... just making for the sake of making.

I don't know how other Moms out there do it.

(Get things done, I mean)

I can barely keep up with the dishes, but it is getting easier all the time.

And it's so, so much fun to be Bert's mom.

He's still the best thing I ever made.

Gotta go... hope you had a happy 4th!



Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I am back in the saddle again.
Spent the last two days making a muslin and studying up on the Washi Dress for my class this weekend.
The options for customizing the fit and look of this dress are insane, and Rae's tutorials and videos and the sheer volume of information available to help you do this right, it's all just plain amazin'.

I have missed sewing and I'm enjoying taking my time with this.

(I used washi on my washi... did you catch that?)

(Make mine a maxi, please!)

...This post brought to you courtesy of hands-free time, made possible by...

...Monsieur le Bouncy-Seat!

Thank you , Deb, for hooking me up with Monsieur le Bouncy-Seat.

He has changed my life.

I've got three being shipped to me as we speak:

One for the kitchen, one for Grandma Baba's house and one that will have a permanent place of honor hanging in my sewing room door.

It's good to be back :-)



Friday, June 7, 2013

Baby Jane

Love, love, love this new collection of pre-cuts that has arrived at the shop from Moda...

The collection is called "Baby Jane" and it's designed by Eric and Julie Comstock (the couple behind Cosmo Cricket).

Our yardage should be arriving soon, but in the meantime we have Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, Charms and Mini Charms, all listed on the website right here.

They remind me of a grandmother's kitchen in Sweden, at the base of the Alps.

She has a large meadow full of buttercups and a picket fence in front of her house and a couple of cows.

During the day she churns butter for the neighbors and at night she does cross-stitch by candle light.

Not what you see when you see this collection?

Just me and my crazy imagination, you say?

Probably true.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Fish Ladder Festival!

What are you and the family doing this weekend?

Me and my family will be at the Fish Ladder Festival...

Stop by the shop to have your face painted, buy a soda and an ice cream, and watch the alewife documentary (and yes, you can use our bathroom, too!).

The forecast looks a bit dicey, but our end of the deal is rain or shine.

See you this weekend and have a great Memorial Day!



Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrate Spring with a Pincushion Swap this Sunday!

A couple of no-sew beauties! These pincushions were made by my friend Dawn, from a set of vintage egg-cups.  

 I can't think of anything more fun than a celebratory Spring Pincushion Swap, can you?

So, let's pounce on the moment and have one this Sunday at the shop!

I've set up a Pinterest board with tons of "Pinspiration" to get you going...

There are so many different ways to make a pincushion and the beauty of a pincushion is that they don't take very long to make at all.

The hardest part will be deciding which type of pincushion you'd like to make!

Here are the details:

The Pincushion Swap will be this coming Sunday afternoon, April 28th at 1:00 pm here at Alewives Fabrics.

You don't need to sign up to attend: just show up.

You need to make your pincushion yourself: the more creative the better (here's where you should sneak a peek at our Pincushion Love board on Pinterest to get your creative juices flowing!)

Wrap your pincushion so no one can see it: make it look like a fabulous little present that anyone would want to open.

The Swap will work like a Yankee Swap: we'll all draw numbers and swap and steal from each other until the last pincushion standing is gone.

Swapping and stealing are highly encouraged: that's part of the fun!

No matter what number you get, everyone goes home with a handmade pincushion, so everybody wins.

The Pincushion Swap will also serve as our spring SEAM meeting: you'll get to meet lots of people who enjoy sewing just as much as you do.

(Don't know about SEAM yet?  Check out the official SEAM website here!)

So, I guess that's it...  we hope to see you at the shop this Sunday afternoon.

(And please forgive me if I steal your pincushion from you!)



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rekindling the romance...

(The culprit)
 There is another relationship besides my relationship with this blog that has suffered a bit since Bert came along.

Allow me to elaborate...

I'm someone who's always trying to figure out the whole "time management" thing.

I'm sure most of you can relate, right?

Even before having Bert, I spent most days feeling like I was constantly playing catch-up, constantly trying to keep all the balls up in the air, constantly letting go of one thing or another in order to end the day in a semi-organized state.

Between my duties at the store and my (completely lame) attempts at keeping the house neat and my time spent visiting friends & family and my (also completely lame) attempts at physical fitness (the occasional walk and/ or yoga class), there was always still just enough time left over for a date with...

the sewing machine.

(Did you think I was going to say something else?)

But now that I have a baby...

Oh my, time management has been brought to a whole different level.

To be clear, it is a wonderful state of un-organizedness I now find myself in.


Lately I can't deny that we're drifting apart.

Over the course of the last few weeks I can tell the sewing machine is getting jealous of the baby, growing resentful of my time away.

 I've come to the conclusion that I've got to crank everything up a notch if I am ever going to have time with my sewing machine again and I do NOT want to neglect that relationship.

So, in an effort to patch things up, I have a date with my sewing machine this Saturday night.

I've lined up a babysitter and picked out a special outfit and everything.

I just hope it's not too late to rekindle some of the romance we used to share.
 We're going to have to work hard in order to make time for each other in the coming years, but I think we just might be able to do it.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Still here...

Has it been a super-long time since my last post? Yes.

But I'm still here...

Just up to my eyeballs in renovations (and keeping up with the internet orders) over at the shop.


Also not a lot of "hands-free" time these days because someone likes to be held all. the. time. and I have to admit I am only too happy to oblige. 

I will be back to a more regular posting schedule when things settle back into their normal-ish routine.

I can't wait to share with you all the changes to the shop.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Feather Bed Quilt Class this Weekend

I am furiously typing away while Bert snoozes in his little swing.

Seems he will only sleep if someone is holding him, which is fine by me, but makes it very difficult to get anything done in those moments when he is asleep.

But, however hard it might be to tear myself away, the fact is I am coming back to work at the shop again starting this Thursday... sniff, sniff.

I'm happy to be coming back but of course a bit sad to not be spending all day every day with Bert.
But, one of the things I am most excited to come back to work for is teaching! 
I'm teaching a class this Saturday on Anna Maria Horner's Feather Bed Quilt and there is still time to sign up.

If you are local and want to take advantage of the fact that there is NOT a major snowstorm scheduled for this weekend I would love to have you join me.

Over the course of my maternity leave I did begin making my own version of the Feather Bed Quilt for the shop and I can tell you this quilt is MUCH, MUCH easier than it looks... that Anna Maria Horner know a thing or two, let me tell ya!

It's quite fun to work on and goes together fairly quickly.

I'd say a "confident" beginner (someone who knows how to use their sewing machine and has made a project or two before) could take this quilt on with amazing results.

If you'd like to join me we would love to have you in the class: there's a bit more info on our classes page.

Call the shop at 563 5002 to sign up and I will see you all back at the shop this Thursday morning!



Monday, February 18, 2013

Tappy, tappy, tappy

Do you watch Duck Dynasty?

Confession: I totally watch (and love) it!

I like it when Phil says "Happy, happy, happy."

This post is not about Duck Dynasty, but it is about something that makes me happy, happy, happy...

Maple-syruping time!

Ollie has got the market cornered in our neighborhood and he has tapped almost all of our neighbor's trees in exchange for a bottle of precious, precious maple syrup.

We took Bert out this weekend on a snowy day and put the first taps in for this year.

I felt like I was in a Phoebe Wahl illustration: the happy family, tapping the neighborhood trees on your picture perfect Maine winter day.

I'll let you know how much syrup we get and you can come over for flapjacks!



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New fabrics from Denyse Schmidt: "Shelburn Falls"

I am bummed I won't be going to the very first ever Quilt Con... maybe next year (and I have a very wonderful excuse!).

But in the meantime, a new collection from Quilt Con's keynote speaker and the "Mother of Modern Quilting" herself has arrived at the shop.

30 new prints in all... we have them listed in our online shop as yardage and in bundles.

I love this collection and to quote myself: "It's very usable."

Let the snip, snip, snip begin!



Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Handmades: Blue Bert Baby

Of course, being that Bert is a baby boy (and he is such a boy, let me assure you), of course he got lots of cute blue things....

So I thought an "all blue" post was in order.

 We received a sweet, sweet, sweater from Cindy (Miss Fussy Cutter herself) knit from Rowan Denim yarn in one of my favorite stitches.

I can already picture him wearing this sweater on a cool spring night: it suits his personality perfectly.


This is technically a gift for me, I suppose, but Bert has benefited from it at many a midnight feeding.

Of course, every breastfeeding mother knows a "boppy" pillow when she sees one: this one is from the Lotta Jansdotter book Simple Sewing for Baby and my friend Susanne made it for me.

I love the neutral palette with just a touch of baby blue, and this boppy is a bit smaller than a traditional boppy which suits me perfectly.

And, it must be noted, the crocheted blanket in the background of both these last two photos was made for Bert by my Godmother, Millie, whom I have always called "God Millie" ever since I was a little baby myself.  

It is the softest, sweetest, palest baby blue you ever saw and I just love it.

Here is Bert snuggled up in his blanket from God Millie, with an owl softie my business associate (Mom) made for him from a re-purposed cable knit sweater.

Last but not least is this gorgeous blue patchwork quilt from our good friend Ginnie.

This little quilt is so timeless I just had to use it as the background in my "month by month" photos of Bert... see the "1 month" on his little tee shirt?

This is part of a set of onesies I bought on Etsy from Culpeper General, each with a month silk-screened onto the front so you can make a collage of your child's first year.

Even though these onesies came in a "Blue for Boy" set, I opted for the "Modern Neutral" colorway.

I think Ginnie's quilt makes the perfect backdrop... what do you think?

Bert's personality is emerging every day.  

He really is a "boy" and he really is a "Bert" if that makes any sense.
If he could talk, he would want me to thank Cindy, Susanne, God Millie, Grandma Ba Ba and Ginnie for their wonderful handmade gifts.
But since he can't quite talk yet, I will say it for him...
Thank You, ladies!!!