Desert Poppy Collection

Make

Patterns

Tool Roll by Arounna Khounnoraj for BOOKHOU, pattern originally appeared in Making No. 7/DESERT

Rainbow Clutch by Anna Graham of Noodlehead, from her book Handmade Style

Mash-up of The Essential Pouch by Svetlana Sotak of SotakCo and the Bow Clutch by Whitney Newby of Elm Street Life

Supplies

California Poppies Linen, purchased from Maker’s Fabric

Essex Yarn Dyed Linen Blend in colors Nutmeg, Olive, and Speckled Cream, purchased from Needles Studio

Cotton Linen Grosgrain Ribbon, purchased from Isee Fabric

Notes

  • The Poppy Linen is so lightweight and soft with amazing drape for a linen. Probably because of these lovely properties, its shape tends to distort easily. If I were sewing a garment with this linen, I would want to use stay stitching.
  • Svetlana Sotak has a YouTube channel with very helpful sewing videos. For this project I watched her video on adding fabric tabs to a zipper – as a bonus, she also walks through the construction of The Essential Pouch in this video.

Lessons Learned

  • I made 2 versions of The Essential Pouch, one with interfacing and one without. I would definitely use interfacing again, unless the main fabrics were more structured like a canvas.
  • More zipper practice, hooray! Third try was a charm on this set of projects as you can see in the pictures below. I need to go slowly and try to sew as close to the zipper ends as possible. The fabric tabs on the end of a zipper are definitely a nice touch, but only when they are sewn in as intended.


Reflect

I live in a place that is only widely known for one thing, if it is known at all – a springtime bloom of orange poppies, made so spectacular by the contrast to the surrounding ecosystem: the edge of the Mojave Desert. I label the seasons here as “hot and windy”, “windy”, or “cold and windy”, and most of the plants that naturally grow here are as tough and mean as the climate. The poppy is tough too, no doubt, but the shimmering and shockingly bright orange petals are incongruous in the best possible way. In the fall of 2019 and early 2020, there were an extra handful of rain events timed just right to produce a fantastic crop of poppies.

Also growing during that same time period: fear and uncertainty due to COVID-19. At the time I took these pictures, our world had been largely locked down for a month. A poppy bloom like this would have normally drawn thousands from nearby cities, but us locals got to witness the sight in relative quiet.

Just a few months earlier, I had joined a group of local women in a book club. This turned out to be so fortunate, as I developed meaningful connections with these women during a time when I would have easily defaulted to isolation. As the pandemic took hold and our world was shut down, we switched to virtual book club meetings, and then to weekly Zoom check-ins. Some of my favorite books we read last year were Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú, and Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr.

The books we read were mind-opening, and the conversations and connections we made during that uncertain time were so good for my well-being. When I came across a remnant piece of the California Poppies Linen on the Maker’s Fabric website, I knew that I wanted to make something for the women in the book club to show my gratitude for their friendship. Also, this location is just a temporary stop for all of us, and I thought it would be nice to have something to remember this unique place and time.

I really enjoyed the process of searching for projects to utilize the less-than-a-yard scrap of precious linen. I am still very new to sewing, and each of these projects were great practice and stretched my skills. They are far from perfect, and in a previous life I would have been so uncomfortable giving away something with obvious imperfections. But I have declared myself a recovering perfectionist, and small steps like this help me break away from needing to present an unblemished version of myself. And anyway, I hope it’s the thought that counts!

It made my day (twice!) to receive pictures of the tool rolls being put to use by my creative and talented friends. As our journeys naturally diverge, I hope we can look back at our shared experience with gratitude that our paths all crossed during a time more rare than a desert poppy superbloom.

Baby Bundle #1

Make

Patterns

Divided Basket by Anna Graham of Noodlehead

Maya and Harper Travel Changing Set by Cristy Stuhldreher of Love You Sew

Little Giraffe by Susan B. Anderson, pattern first appeared in Making No. 3/DOTS

Supplies

Quilting cotton, Scattered Geometric on Cream, part of the Forme collection from Lewis & Irene, purchased at Fancy Tiger Crafts

Japanese Stretch Cotton Ripstop in Mustard, purchased from Maker’s Fabric

Wool Felt in Hunter, purchased from Purl Soho

A precious scrap of seemakrish fabric from a rare quilting bundle

ProSoft 2 mil Waterproof PUL from Wazoodle Fabrics

Sprout Worsted yarn in Birch and The Bee’s Knees from Fiber Seed

Stash fabric: denim fat quarter, Essex cotton/linen, and a cotton Ikea curtain panel

Notes

  • The Divided Basket is a great pattern and the instructions were clear enough for me to create something that looks like the intended item(!) even though I am relatively new to sewing. This will be my go-to baby shower make.
  • The Sprout Worsted yarn from Fiber Seed is great for stranded colorwork – the yarn is smooth and round, making it pleasant to work with even in the fiddly sections of the Little Giraffe. (I am not a sock knitter, so using double pointed needles in small rounds is always fiddly for me!) I think the Little Giraffe turned out to be pretty darn cute. As an added bonus, Fiber Seed yarn is made from American Wool.
  • My first zipper insertion – it is pretty terrible, but still functional. I’m looking forward to more practice!

Lessons Learned

  • Take care when using Fray Check! I managed to lose control of it during the snap insertion on the Maya diaper clutch, and I got a few errant drops on the cotton ripstop fabric that WOULD NOT COME OUT. I tried using rubbing alcohol and letting it dry thoroughly, but I was still left with splotches on the front of the Maya clutch.
  • Be flexible – instead of scrapping the stained fabric from the Maya clutch, I decided to add a patch of hunter green wool felt. I think the end result is more interesting than what I originally planned.
  • Working with the PUL was tricky. Next time I’ll try using a non-stick presser foot, and experiment with different needle types. I used a ballpoint needle due to the PUL, but the other fabric was the woven ripstop…maybe not a good combo.

Reflect

I am happy that the first set of makes on this blog are for my new – and first – nephew! I would have loved to deliver these gifts in person, and to have met the little guy when he arrived…but, pandemic. When I first learned that I would get to become an auntie, I could almost feel myself tremble with excitement about all the things I wanted to make for the baby. I had often found myself daydreaming about what I would make for my own future child someday, but you know what they say about best laid plans. Never mind that many of the things I imagined making were things I had neither made before nor had the complete skill set to do so. But what better way to become motivated to try new things?

One of my favorite ways to express love to another person is by making them something. This is especially true if we are separated by distance. I get a cozy contented feeling imagining that an item I have touched/constructed/crafted somehow transfers the warmth of my intention to the other person. This is what I was thinking about while making these things for the baby and his parents – I hoped the gifts would convey my feelings of love and support for them. I may have even whispered sweet messages to the Little Giraffe so that he could pass them on to the new baby.

My sweet little nephew had an eventful entry into the world and needed some extra help in the NICU for his first few weeks. Time becomes strangely distorted during events like this; the days crept by as we waited for any news on his condition. I’m sure it was infinitely worse for his parents. One evening my brother sent a picture of the Little Giraffe lying next to my nephew in his NICU bed, and my heart felt like it could burst from experiencing so many different emotions at once.

I am happy to report that my nephew has been home for a few months now, and he is doing great. I finally got to meet him in person as well. 🙂 I am already plotting my next projects for him. I think he will be getting auntie-made gifts for a long time to come.

A Beginning

I started this blog to keep track of the things I make. I want to log the materials and patterns used, and also to note lessons learned during the making process. In addition to these pragmatic motives, I want to capture the thoughts and feelings that surround the project. For me, making doesn’t happen in a vacuum – there are intentions, motivations, hopes and reflections filling the space around me as I work. Documenting these things feels as important to me as recording where I sourced yarn or noting that I should check thread tension after I change a bobbin.

Thanks for stopping by.

Three sunlit skeins of yarn are displayed on a stone surface.  They hold the promise of all the things they could become.