Mending, Making, and Motherhood

I go back and forth with whether to include photos of my kids (often just their extremities) on my Reclaimed for Good posts.  I don’t want to use them for “likes”, and I definitely don’t want to give the impression that I’m such an awesome mom with the best kiddos ever because, “Look!  My kids are super crafty and I love letting them help and we’re just amazing over here.  I handle all of the things so well!”

Here’s the thing, though. These kids are a huge part of my life, so they end up in a lot of my pictures. In fact, as stay at home mom, they’re.always.around. Trying to shove them out of the way to get the perfect picture wouldn’t work even if I tried!

But I decided a long time ago that if I was going to make a go of a home-based sewing business, I had to prioritize people first. My family foremost. I can’t allow myself to consider my (five!) kids as a distraction from the life I’d rather be living. They are the life I’m living.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I sew with kids on my lap all of the time.  Or I can simultaneously make supper, finish up an order, and help the middle schooler with complicated math homework, all while rocking the baby to sleep.  It doesn’t even mean that I always respond with grace and a smile when I’m trying to get work done and a kid needs something.  Or that I never feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of responsibility and expectations in my life and text my husband mid-day with, “WHY WON’T THE BABY SLEEP??”

It means that I do my best (and often fail) to only take on a reasonable amount of commissions each year. It means I generally only have time to sew up orders when the baby is sleeping and the big kids are at school (or resting then having screen time on non-school days). It means I need to humble myself and ask for forgiveness a lot. It means that the kids often help me with the aspects of Reclaimed for Good that they can. Trimming threads, organizing scraps, hand sewing next to me, and, yes, jumping into as many photos as possible.

To be quite honest, I didn’t consider myself remotely creative until I had kids.  I didn’t even start sewing until I was 30 and my oldest daughter taught me the basics on her Hello Kitty ¾ sized Janome!  I’m incredibly thankful for my kids unleashing my creative juices and ushering me into the world of “making”.  

So as far as my social media posts go, they’re not the whole, messy story of our life. I don’t want them to be. Some moments are meant to be shared and pondered just within a family or circle of friends. But I do want my posts to reflect the joy that can be found in mending, making, and motherhood. There’s so much joy in this space. Even in the hard bits.

Finding contentment and joy where you are while still striving to do better. As a maker and as a mom. That’s what I hope to communicate.


Full of holes, ripped to shreds in places, barely held together.

This is us.  Riddled with sin.

God sees us right where we are – sinful, worn, falling apart – and he loves us.  He love us so dearly that He sent His own Son to suffer death in our place.

He didn’t send His Son so that we might stay in our tattered condition, but that we would be renewed and restored through His love, mercy, and grace.

Our selves are carefully taken apart.  The sin in us, sifted out.  The pieces that remain, slowly brought to new life.  Sometimes with a gentle hand.  Sometimes under heat and pressure.  Always with love.

We are carefully stitched together into a new life.

A life as God’s masterpiece.  A life with Christ.  A life walking in new purpose.  A life of hope for the future.    

Project Notes on Grandma’s Clothing Quilt Remade:

  • Original Piece
    • Large quilt made many years ago out of a friend’s grandma’s clothing as she passed away (each of the grandkids received one- how sweet is that??).
    • After much use and washing, there was too much damage to mend on the original quilt.
  • My Process
    • My kids helped me cut out all of the yarn ties to isolate just the quilt top made with the clothing.
    • I carefully ripped out the stitches in each of the seams to try to preserve as much fabric as possible.
    • After sorting out the unusable pieces, I ironed and interfaced (as necessary) the pieces that were durable enough for more use.
    • I trimmed these pieces down to a uniform 5 inches, keeping the holes made from the yarn ties in the middle of the blocks.
    • There were enough blocks for a baby sized quilt in the same pattern (patchwork) as the original quilt, so I made a small quilt top.
    • I put a narrow border around the blocks before quilting for two purposes. First, to imitate the style of the original quilt which had a thick binding. Second, to help stabilize the top for quilting since there were a lot of stretchy fabrics included.
    • The old mesh backing was replaced with a durable broadcloth.
    • I stitched in the ditch to quilt the rows for added durability and also tied it with the same color yarn that was originally used. This covered back up the holes left from the ties.
  • Additional Projects
    • I really wanted to be able to include all of the clothing fabrics that were in the original quilt in some form, so I ended up taking some of the very thin cotton pieces, interfacing them, and pairing each one next to a more durable polyester to create a small patchwork pillow.
    • The pillow has a zipped backing is stuffed the rest of the pieces that were too worn to include in the projects. It also holds a bag of bigger pieces that can be used for mending down the road and a small ball of yarn in case any ties need to be replaced.

Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our days.

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Quilting Memories

This past month, I had the bittersweet joy of working on three memory quilts for a family. A small quilt for a little girl who had lost her dad, and two lap sized quilts for boys who had lost their dad and their dear grandpa, too.

I’ve found that memory quilts work a little differently than regular quilts- not that any handmade quilt could ever be called “regular”!

A lot of quilts start with a fabric pull, meaning the quilter chooses the best fabrics for a specific quilt or idea. Color, shade, volume, pattern size, fabric type, and probably some things I’m missing, all go into deciding which fabrics to “pull” to use in a quilt.

Memory quilts, on the other hand, often start with textile treasures found in the homes of loved ones. A quilt pattern is then chosen based on what will work best both for those fabrics and for the people that will be using the quilt.

Often times, we’re tempted to just remember the good parts of a person that has passed away. I wanted these memory quilts I was working on to show that even where there is darkness in life, love and light can still be found. Much sketching (and quilt math!) later, I came up with three patterns to use.

**Note, the dimensions in the pictures above are not the final dimensions! If you’d like block sizes and assembly directions for these quilts, contact me and I’m happy to share!**

Now came the tricky business of prepping and cutting the material for a memory quilt.

Tricky because the clothes can be all different types and weights.

Sometimes a few layers of spray starch will be enough to help stretchy materials stiffen up, but often the lighter and stretchier fabrics need to be interfaced before piecing the quilt top.⁣

Hems, seams, and belt loops need to be unpicked if there’s a pocket or particular piece of fabric you need.⁣

Sizes of the quilt blocks you’ve planned may need to be readjusted if there’s not enough of one fabric. ⁣

Patterns may not line up exactly because of fabric warping with time and because you don’t have the luxury of always fussy cutting when there’s only so much of one shirt or pants.⁣

Quilting memories takes a minute. But it’s always worth it!⁣ 

A special touch for these quilts was to add embroidery stitches with the actual handwriting from Dad and Grandpa. So thankful for printable and water soluble hand embroidery products from Sulky that make this possible!

A super soft minky backing was used to help make these quilts snuggly so the kids can feel wrapped in warmth and love.

I was able to snap a few pictures before sending these out. It was a cold and windy day, so extra thanks to my mom for holding the quilts up!!

The smallest quilt used fabric from “baby girl’s” dad. I wanted her to have a big heart to know that she is hugely loved, even when times are sad. Using her dad’s jeans for the border gives a plain backdrop to make the heart really stand out. I’m hoping she will use the pockets to hide treasures and notes over the years.

The second quilt I gave the name “pocket path”. It’s for a pre-teen boy and has 11 usable pockets. Quilting around the pockets so I didn’t sew them shut was tricky, but it was important to me that they weren’t just for show! The idea behind this quilt is to serve as a reminder that there are tough times in the walk of life, but love can light the path to walk on. I cut a path through the dark fabrics, by using light colored squares to highlight this. It warmed by heart hearing how much this boy was loved by his grandpa and dad.

The last quilt was a little bit bigger and a gift for a teenage boy heading off to college soon. Like with his brothers, I wanted to accent that love brings light to the darkness that sometimes hovers around us in this life. I put a light colored heart in the midst of dark fabrics, because love can shine through and refuses to be snuffed out.

I hope these quilts bring a tad comfort and warmth in such a difficult time. It’s so meaningful for me to be able to work with the clothes of special people, creating something that will serve as a tactile reminder of how much those left behind are loved.

Adventure Bag Update (plus a duffel!)

I have this idea about a line of “build your own adventure bags”.

Kids could choose different sizes, closure options, strap types, and all sorts of embellishments. Ranging from simple, inexpensive options, to larger, more complex bags. How neat would that be??

Not happening any time remotely soon in this one-woman show, but it’s fun to think about!

In the meantime, here’s a look at at how the original “adventure bag” has evolved over the past 2 1/2 years and a peek at the latest version designed by my 9 year old.

As a certain toddler of mine put it when we made our first adventure bag together, “I need a bag for adventures and rocks.” And, evidently, a bag for his puppy to ride in. He picked the fabric and helped me sew it up while the baby slept one afternoon. This simple bag has gotten a lot of use (carrying a lot of rocks and other treasures) over the past couple of years!

A while later I wanted to try to add a flap to the front. Big deal for this novice sewist. I guess I could have probably found a pattern for these bags, but winging it is my specialty, so on went a flap and adjustable strap.

After a few goes with the updated bag, I thought it would be a good idea to try the flap pocket in the middle instead and attempt some other closure options. I didn’t have velcro or anything holding the flap down, and the way kids toss things about, I was worried about their “adventure finds” falling out. So I cut the buckle off of an old strap I found (because it was faster and cheaper than heading the the store) and gave it a go.

Two years after his original bag, toddler had grown up and requested a roomier bag for his adventures. This big kid version was born!

Older sister decided she needed a bag too. But not only should it be roomy, she also wanted it to have a long adjustable strap, be convertible from backpack to crossbody bag to bike handlebar bag, have a hook closure, and have as many pockets as possible.

Oh, and with camo fabric so she can blend into the forest on hikes.

We got out our sketchpad and dreamed up a pattern together then waited a few months for the perfect fabric. I supposed we could have gone to the store to buy some, but she really wanted a pants pocket for the front flap. Plus, upcycling.

Garage sale season rolled around a friend gave us a stack of pants from her sale. Including the perfect camo cargo pants for this bag! We finally got it sewn up just in time for a spring hike and summer adventures.

Not only is it a backpack, crossbody, and bike handlebar bag (I’ll grab a picture of it on her bike next time she’s on a ride), it also acts as a pulley so her siblings can send water and snacks up to her while she reads in the tree. Ha!

Also, I don’t think any of us will ever outgrow the love of throwing rocks into water.

Oh, and the duffel bag! The same kiddo was going to horse camp for the first time this summer and had asked for a bag to use. Gave me an excuse to use the scraps from her adventure bag project and try a new pattern- the Wanderlust Duffel. Yes, this time I actually used a pattern. And only modified it a tad to be able to fit our reclaimed fabric and pockets on it. If you’re in the market for a new sewing project, Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop patterns are great!

Adventures in Mending- Leggings Edition

Our girls wear a lot of leggings. And, the way the three of them play…there are a lot of knee holes in those thin, stretchy pants. Once the holes get to a certain point, I usually cut them off into shorts and we get another season or two of wear out of the deal.

I’ve never tried mending the holes in their leggings because I thought it would be a huge pain. I mean, putting a walking foot on my machine and changing out to a ballpoint needle? Eh, I’ll stick with denim. Plus it’s so easy to lop them down to shorts!

Today, however, my sweet preschooler came downstairs in her favorite leggings – so favorite she even wore them for our family Christmas picture – and asked if we could fix the holes. “No shorts, Momma.”

She refused my attempts at persuading her to turn them into shorts and use the resulting scraps for a scrunchie. After all, my wise four year old pointed out, it’s going to be too cold for shorts soon.

So we hit the knit scrap bin and went to work. Turns out she’s pretty good at clipping and managing the start/stop button while I bounce baby on my lap.

I approached this pair like I did my son’s sweat pants last winter. We cut out the entire middle section that had the hole in it. After cutting it open to lay flat, we laid the hole filled section on our t-shirt scrap and eyeballed it to add seam allowances. *I actually added another inch to the height since the original leggings were on the shorter side.*

After adding the “inseam” to our scrap piece by sewing the short edges right sides together, It was time to sew the leggings back into one piece. I slid the scrap piece over the upper thigh section and sewed those two right sides together, lining up the inseams. Then did the same for the bottom shin section.

Miss Preschooler tried them on halfway through to make sure we were on the right track. Success!

She was so pleased with the end result that she ran to grab another pair of knee hole leggings. Back to the scrap bin we went.

Bolstered by the success from our first foray into leggings mending, I decided to try a different approach for this next one.

We took the seam ripper and *gently* tore open the knee section of the leg with the offending hole. After placing our chosen patch over the hole (right side of the patch to the wrong side of the legging), I zig-zag stitched down the three sides that were not on the inseam. Luckily we had perfectly matching thread! I made a little pleat on the long side of the patch so there would be a little extra “give” on the knee. Finally we sewed up the inseam, catching the unsewn side of the patch.

We turned the leggings right side out again to examine our ten minutes of improv sewing and did a happy dance! It worked!

Not sure how long these patches will last, but less than an hour or get another month or two out of my kids’ clothes?

Worth it.

Plus, it would have been even less time without juggling two kiddos on my lap for most of the process!

Maybe I shouldn’t have waited so long to attempt mending leggings after all.

Though, at the rate these girls blow through their knees, I’m sure this won’t be my last patching adventure.

Reclaimed Baptism Bonnet

A reclaimed Baptism bonnet has been in the back corner of my mind for several months now (along with a lot of other project ideas!). I was happy to have an excuse to sew one up for the annual Lutheran School Association Auction Fundraiser in Cole Camp, MO.

Because I can’t help myself, this bonnet is layered with different meanings from the types of materials used, to the hand embroidery embellishment, to the quilted lining.

I added a the card below explaining the hidden meanings in the bonnet construction, complete with the Bible verses that inspired each facet. My hope is that this bonnet will serve as a remind of the covering we have in Christ. In Him, we are all new creations.

Project Notes on Reclaimed Baptism Bonnet:

  • Pattern
  • Materials
    • Linen exterior and ties from upcycled skirt
    • Lining from upcycled alb
  • Adaptations
    • Hand embroidery added to the exterior middle panel at the base
    • Bonnet bottom edges sewn right sides together, stopping just past the curve
    • 1/2″ homemade bias tape (34″ long) used to complete the unfinished edge and create the ties- all one piece
  • Future thoughts
    • Need to find a sustainable and affordable source for white linen
    • Square off the rounded edges of the bonnet before sewing together

No Wasted Memories – Part 2

There was quite a bit of fabric left over from the original six shirts and two pairs of pants we used to create a keepsake memory quilt. I had been diligently storing away even the smallest piece so there would be nothing left to discard at the end.

The family asked me to also make a zippered pillow case for another family member, so I got to work organizing and trimming the remaining fabric.

The late owner of these special clothes was an avid fisherman and hunter, so we added small buck and walleye applique pieces to the pillow.

I used the rest of the fabric to make three simpler memory pillows. It took some creative piecing, but there was enough for decent sized throw pillows.

But what’s left after a small quilt, pillowcase, baby booties, and three throw pillows waiting to be stuffed? A box of trimmings and six shirt cuffs.

I used the trimmings as extra filling (along with Poly-Fil) for the throw pillows. Now all that was left were the cuffs from the shirts. There were lots of different ideas for how to use these guys (thanks IG/FB friends!). I dug through the scraps before using them as stuffing and found just enough fabric to end up with a zip pouch.

Truly no piece went to waste. A small portion of a cherished man’s closet became a baby quilt, baby booties, full sized pillow case, three throw pillows, and a zip pouch. I always wish none of these projects were necessary, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to take special textiles and turn them into tactile, functional memories for family and friends. Thank you to this family for trusting me with your treasures.

No Wasted Memories

Several months ago I had the honor of being able to work with the favorite clothes of a person who had passed away. These projects are incredibly special to me. I love hearing stories about the person’s life and keep them in the forefront of my mind as I cut and sew, doing my best to incorporate bits and pieces of who they were into the design. My goal is always to create a piece (or in this case, multiple pieces) that can be a tangible reminder of a beautiful person whose memory lives on in the hearts of those who loved him or her.

Here’s a peak into the process of this recent, zero-waste memory project.

We added two more brown shirts and a pair of camo pants to this pile, and used them all down to the smallest scrap.

Part of working with old clothing is letting go of the perfection that usually accompanies quilting and letting the material lead the way instead.

Stains and tears are signs of clothes well loved, a plaid that isn’t straight both ways anymore means the fabric has been stretched and worn numerous times. ⁣

Often, the more imperfections there are, the more sentimental value the piece holds, because it was a favorite piece worn over and over. ⁣

Clothing bears witness to the life of the wearer, and each grease spot, food stain, worn out patch, frayed hem, is a testament to part of that person’s story. ⁣

My first project with this group of clothing was a baby quilt and booties for a grandbaby the wearer was not able to meet before he passed. Hopefully his grandson will feel the warmth of his grandpa’s love while snuggling in his memory quilt.

⁣This baby quilt is jam packed with meaning and was such an honor to make.

All of the materials for the front, back, and the binding came from the soon-to-be-born baby’s late Grandpa.⁣ The only piece not from clothing was the quilt batting layer in the center.

⁣⁣I used scraps left over from the piecing process to stitch together the binding material. A bit more time consuming, but so much more meaningful!⁣

An oversized Celtic Twist design is a reminder of how interwoven this grandpa’s life was (and still is) with his family.⁣

The back of the quilt utilized 3 different brown jersey shirts which will, hopefully, provide a soft snuggle for baby.

This machine appliquéd and hand embroidered buck head in the center represents his love for hunting.⁣

Grandpa Mark’s signature is hand embroidered in the bottom right block. ⁣And this sweet pair of baby booties was made entirely with left over fabric from the quilt.

Believe it or not, there was still quite a bit of fabric from those two pairs of pants and six shirts. I’ll share how we used the remainder in my next “Project Notes” post!

⁣Project Notes on No Wasted Memories Baby Quilt:

  • Pattern- Celtic Twist Block
    • Specific pattern from The Quilting Company – find it free here
    • Buck applique pattern from Shannon Brinkely – find it here
    • Self drafted pattern using scraps to make a 40″ x 40″ quilt backing
  • Materials
    • Quilt top-
      • 3 button down shirts (interfaced) and 1 pair of pants for the accent blocks
      • 1 jersey t-shirt (interfaced) for the background blocks
      • 1 square from denim jeans and scrap from background fabric for the center block
    • Quilt back-
      • 3 brown jersey shirts (starched) and scraps from quilt top
      • Binding- scraps from accent fabrics of quilt top
  • Adaptations
    • Celtic twist block dimensions enlarged to make a finished block size of 36″ x 36″
    • To make this adaptation yourself, use the specific pattern above and enlarge pieces to the following (seam allowance included):
      • Background fabric
        • 4 rectangles 9 1/2″ x 18 1/2″
        • 1 square 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″
        • 4 squares 5″ x 5″
      • Accent fabric (4 different fabrics, cut the following from each)
        • 1 strip 5″ x 14″
        • 1 rectangle 5″ x 9 1/2″
        • 3 squares 5″ x 5″
      • Size preferred applique as needed to fit center block
  • Future thoughts
    • Try with different fabric values and types

Project Notes on No Wasted Memories Baby Booties:

  • Pattern
    • Beautiful Pie Shoe’s Soft Soled Baby Shoe
    • Find pattern here
    • 0-3 month size
  • Materials
    • Outer fabric and inner fabric from quilt top scraps
  • Adaptations
    • Enclosed seams
    • Modified casing method

Looking Up by Looking Around

Who do you hope your kids look up to?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last couple of weeks. About how we focus on showing our children heros in the past and present and encouraging them that, one day, they can be world changers too.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Not at all.

Heros are incredibly important. We could make a long list of why we need exceptional leaders, innovators, and role models for our children and for the world. I doubt anyone would disagree.

It’s just that our kids also need to be surrounded daily by people who work hard, rest well, and are satisfied with their lives.

That doesn’t mean to not strive to “be your best self” or to dream smaller. It just means that not everyone is destined to do great things. At least by the world’s standard of what a great thing is. Often, the greatest thing a person is destined to do is loving the people in their lives by walking the path in front of them, and walking it in contentment.

Sometimes that path has huge, world changing opportunities and, of course, I want my kids to look up to people who work hard to make those opportunities a reality.

But most of the time paths in life are full of small, unnoticed, mundane tasks. It’s more important to me that my kids are able to approach these monotonous daily tasks as faithfully and contentedly as the big, exciting ones.

So today I’m thankful for the many people in our lives who are consistent, loving examples of working hard, resting well, and finding deep satisfaction exactly where they are.

We don’t need to look far to find someone to look up to. In fact, we just need to look around right where we are.

Blue Birds for Mom

While I’m trying to make a decision on which sewing machine to get to replace my irreparably broken companion for the last three and a half years, I thought it would be fun to share some of my Spring and Summer makes.

I’ll miss this wonderful machine!

Scrolling through my picture reel brought the realization that I haven’t shared over half of my projects from the past several months. Probably because I always feel a little tension when posting to social media. Is it necessary to share this picture? Should I just be sewing for the enjoyment of it instead of feeling the need to post the end result? What role do I want social media to play in my day to day? If I post something, will I get distracted from more important things? Am I looking to social media for positive reinforcement?

You get the picture.

So to speak.

*insert winky face*

At any rate, I took a bit of a break this summer to get my brain back on track, enjoy school-free time with our kids, and catch up on sewing projects for the family. I had promised my mom a wall hanging for Mother’s Day this year, but only got the top done before May.

Half way done is better than nothing, I guess!

This summer I finally got it finished and hung up (thanks, Dad!). I loved this project for a few reasons. First, I got to surprise her by using materials that had actually come from my mom in the first place- an old tablecloth, a pair of jeans, and a shirt of my dad’s. Second, it taught me about working within limitations. Trying to use only the materials I had on hand, I discovered the creativity that blooms when choices are restricted. The process strengthened my resolve to always start with what I have instead of running to the store (even if it’s just the thrift store) when I hit a snag.

The best part about this wall hanging, though, is that I get to see scenes like this one beside it: My mom teaching my salsa-obsessed daughter how she makes her favorite recipe. ❤️

Salsa making in the works!

Project Notes on Blue Birds for Mom:

  • Pattern and method from Shannon Brinkley
    • Find specific pattern here
    • Wall hanging size
    • Scrappy applique, raw edges method
  • Materials
    • Tablecloth from Mom’s basement
    • Light denim shirt and denim jeans discarded by Dad
    • Blue flower fabric scraps left over from previous projects
  • Adaptations
    • Working around stains on the tablecloth to cover them but still create an aesthetically pleasing design
    • Created a reversible wall hanging, using scraps on the opposite side (will take a picture soon!)
  • Future thoughts
    • Seal some of the more easily fraying raw edges with fray check
    • Play around with hanging options
    • Work within limitations more often
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