I have been remiss about blogging (and sewing)--mostly because I've been getting my new site set up and working on my marketing efforts for my copywriting business. I do have a fun new project that I'm going to be putting up here soon. (The tutorial is almost finished.) I also hope to bring you another Q&A and giveaway soon. (And, of course, I'm hard at work on Max's Batman costume for Halloween--pictures forthcoming!)

But, I do have an exciting announcement: I am now selling Sew Retro directly! I can't pretend that I'm even trying to compete with retailers. In order to not lose money, I have to charge the full cover price ($24.95), plus shipping ($5 to US; $10 to Canada; $20 international; I checked all the rates with the Post Office). So, if you're looking for the best price on the book, I can't give you that (although I may run discounts from time to time).

But, if you want to buy a signed copy--directly from me--then, this is a great option! It's more expensive, for sure. But there is a charm to buying directly from the author. And that's what I'm offering. I don't expect the books to start flying off the shelves. But I've got them, ready to personalize and ship, if anyone is interested! I still need to find a good place to promote it on this site, but for now, here is the link!

Thanks for your support!

The Books & Brunch event was yesterday, and I wanted to share a little bit about it. I’ve been looking forward to this event for the last few weeks. When the Assistance League of Greater Cincinnati contacted me about doing this fundraising event, way back in September, I was so, so pregnant and could only barely imagine not being pregnant. But it sounded like a great organization and a good opportunity, so I happily said yes.
Me with Arlene, my helper for the day. Thanks, Arlene!
First off, I was treated like royalty (though I probably didn’t look quite as glamorous as Will & Kate this morning). Everyone involved with this organization is really the tops; it’s a very gracious and giving group of women. I was one of four authors they brought in (they had our books set up for sale, and people got the chance to buy them and have us sign them), and I was in truly great company: Sharon Draper (former teacher, nationally recognized and honored, and all-around-amazing author of 30 books), children’s book author Heather Henson (Kentucky girl and teller of inspiring stories), and novelist Sena Jeter Naslund, whose books look so intriguing that they’ve all been added to my reading list.

We each had the opportunity to give a talk. I used to hate public speaking, but now, I actually like it (provided I’m talking about something I know well). Speaking on a topic you’re passionate about is a great way to connect to people, and I like to connect to people.

But the real challenge with this group was that I knew there was a good chance many of the women didn’t sew. How do you inspire a group of women who may not share the same passion for sewing as you?

So, I decided to talk about, well . . . changing the world. In fact, what was so fascinating is that all four of us talked about changing the world. We each came at it from different angles. It sounds so lofty, I know, but isn’t it what we all want to do? Seriously, whether you approach it from altruism or religion or karma or whatever, we each want to make some part of the world better, don’t we?

Sharon talked about how releasing judgment and helping others to have a voice can change the world.

Sena talked about how imagination and telling the untold and yet-to-be discovered stories has the potential to change the world.
 Heather talked about how getting books to children and reading to children can shape the rest of their lives, which changes their worlds, and helps them to create a better world.

For my part, I talked about how knowing the history of sewing can change the world, and that even if you don’t sew, the stories of women and sewing have the power to transform the way we think and act. I boiled it down to three reasons. (Hey, I’ve spent a lifetime writing women’s service magazine articles: I like, organized take-away messages.)

So, the three ways that knowing the history of sewing can change the world. Are you ready?

1. The history of sewing is the history of the domestic, and the domestic still largely gets ignored in most textbooks and traditional history classes. The domestic isn’t about big world events. It doesn’t get plotted on timelines and quizzed in school. It’s about day-to-day living at home. It’s about conversations and feeding and clothing the babies and rituals and paying bills and eating dinner. It’s all of the goods and meals and emotions produced in the home everyday. The domestic is about how people live. You can’t change anything about the world if you don’t understand how people live.

2. The history of sewing is a study in resourcefulness. It’s about re-using and re-purposing when needed, and then making thoughtful, deliberate decisions about what you need when you are buying new materials. To sew is to be deliberate. In today’s throw-away culture, that’s wisdom we all need in our everyday lives. Deliberate thinking is what will help change our world.

3. The history of sewing is inspirational, from both a creative perspective and an entrepreneurial perspective. It’s inspirational to see how women took the situations they had and made something from them. They bettered themselves by building home-based sewing businesses (such as through the Women’s Domestic Institute, which I’ve written about before). It’s also inspirational to see how generations of women took something that was expected of them—domesticity—and turned it into a creative outlet. Their creative talents affected change—whether it was raising money for various war efforts (Civil War and World Wars), clothing the poor, making their children feel loved and secure by giving them a quilt, or getting extra income for the family so that their kids could go to school, not the factory. Creative talents can always change the world, by changing people’s situation in life or their attitude and outlook on life.

So there you have it, my top three reasons why knowing the history of sewing can actually help us make our world a better place!

Have a great weekend everyone, and to my UK friends (still basking in the glow of the royal wedding), have a lovely holiday on Monday!

I've got about 10 more bags of mulch to spread, edges to be edged, weeds to be pulled, and any number of other pressing gardening chores. But the rain will not let up!
So, I guess all I can do is wait it out. The pansies are acting Zen about it, so I probably should too.

In other news, I'm very excited to be talking at the Books & Brunch event tomorrow! I love talking to people about Sew Retro and why sewing is, um, the coolest thing in the world to do. I'll share some of my speech (in which I try to make the history of sewing relevant for an audience of quite a few non-sewers) after it's over.

I'm also super excited for my friend, Caroline Tiger, who is going to be an expert commentator on the Fox network, bright and early Friday morning! She'll be talking all about the royal wedding. She is the author of the Newlywed's Instruction Manual and she is so smart and hip that I know she will have brilliant things to say.

I've booked my next guest for a Q&A giveaway, and I'm not saying who it is yet, but I know everyone is going to LOVE her. I certainly do.
I do my share of venting (whining), but I also like to celebrate the stuff I’m excited about. Here is what is jazzing me up this Friday morning.

1. After slogging through a few weeks of sickness, everyone is finally healthy again. The runny noses are (almost) gone. I was the last to get the awful cold from hell, and I think I am almost over it (even though the cough remains). Yay for good health! (Even if it only lasts a week.)

2. I’ll be talking about Sew Retro  next week at the 9th Annual Books & Brunch event here in Cincinnati, put on by the Cincinnati Assistance League, an organization that raises money for causes that are dear to me, like underprivileged kids and domestic violence survivors. It’s Thursday, April 28th at 10 a.m. (you can still sign up!). Sew Retro will be for sale (thanks to The Bookshelf bookstore) and I'll be signing copies. I’m so honored to be in the company of three other inspiring authors, including Sharon Draper.

3. Speaking of awesome events, my business coach is organizing a virtual retreat next week (you participate live for FREE, or can get the audios and listen at your convenience) called Rewire Your Wealth. She’s got all kinds of amazing experts to guide you through realizing your entrepreneurial dreams. If you are an entrepreneur, or want to be an entrepreneur (that includes you, fabulous Etsy shop owners), definitely check it out!

4. I’ve got my eye on a couple of new books. First is Signature Styles: 20 Stitchers Craft Their Look, which I read about on Bari J’s blog (she's one of the stitchers featured.) Doesn't this cover look delicious?
The other is Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes and Projects for Your Creative Child, from Meg McElwee (due out in June). If you haven't been following Meg's story of her second child (just born a few months ago with a heart defect), you definitely should. It's a wonderful (and uplifting) story, and I'm so happy that little Lachlan is doing so well.

Let me just pause for a minute to say that not even a craft book industry in crazy flux can keep a crafter down. Yes, the publishing industry pretty much stinks right now as the future of what publishing will look like confounds almost everyone, and sure advances are pitiful (unless you are a celeb), and yes, most of the promotional responsibility falls on the author. But it doesn’t matter. We soldier on and publish these beautiful, beautiful books anyway!

5. I got a gorgeous stack of fabrics in the mail yesterday for a project I’m doing for Quilts & More magazine. Granted, I’m only using a few of the pieces, but just seeing them all spread out on my work table makes me feel giddy. It’s that great moment before you decide on your fabrics and you let yourself just play with the possibilities.

6. The Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market is only a month away! This is the best show for awesome vintage finds (including vintage fabric and textiles) in this part of the country. It’s been written up in Country Living and Martha Stewart Living. Just get yourself there!

7. Today is the day I am cleaning my office (also my sewing space). It is bad. I mean bad. This picture doesn't even do justice to its current state of badness (that's because mostly it was taken so Max could show off the new haircut he had to come upstairs to tell me about). The last time I really cleaned this room where I spend 8 (or more) hours every weekday (and some weekends) was . . . um, before Georgia was born? Seriously.

8. I’m lining up the next batch of Q&A/giveaways. I hope to do some great ones this summer, so stay tuned!

Oh, and have a lovely Easter!

Assuming I don't go into labor (my standard caveat these days), I'll be at Creativities in Madeira this Saturday to sign books at 4:00 p.m. Even if you're not interested in buying Sew Retro, come anyway, because this is an awesome new space and resource for sewers! It's great to have one more independent fabric store here in Cincinnati!
  I sold and signed a few books at the CHA show in Chicago a few weeks ago. But the signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers last night was my first full-scale book signing, complete with a (short) reading from the book and a little talk about sewing and its history, plus audience questions. I admit, I was a little nervous, but seeing so many friends and family in the audience was lovely! In fact, it was thrilling to see such a good turnout—half were people I knew, but the other half were people I didn’t know who had heard about Sew Retro and were excited enough about it to come! Of course, my biggest problem is that the baby is absolutely crushing my diaphragm at this point, and I lose my breath really easy when I’m trying to read. So hopefully, I didn’t frighten anyone with my scary out-of-breath talking!  

I have to give props to Joseph-Beth for making me feel like sort of a big deal! That’s the benefit of working with a hometown bookstore: they take care of and support their local authors. And the great news is that after all was said and done, they only had one copy of Sew Retro left! I know there are many places to order the book online, but if you want to order through Joseph-Beth, you can, right here

  I wasn’t exactly sure how the evening was going to work itself out. But it turned out splendid. My sister, Laura, ran the make-and-take Fabric Flower Pin while I chatted with people and signed books. What would I do without her, seriously? (She has a job already, but I definitely feel she could launch a new career in publicity!) My niece, Rachel, was running around snapping pictures (I look enormous in most of them, but such is the state of being 36 weeks pregnant), and I’ll post those (the most flattering at least) soon! (Update: I've posted some now, but none are flattering!) Everyone was just so sweet and complimentary and excited about Sew Retro. I was also really excited to meet the ladies from the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. I hope to get involved with them after things settle a bit.

 Thanks to everyone who came out, and to everyone who has bought a copy of Sew Retro! Now go sew something fabulous!

With my adorable niece, Rachel. Oh, to be 21. And skinny. Sigh.
With my mom, the woman who taught me everything I know about sewing!
The Clifford quilt for my big boy!
Three things are on my mind today. First, my baby slept in a big boy bed for the first time last night! All went well, except he somehow fell out (even with side rails) around 7:15 this morning, and then didn’t go back to sleep. Though he did lie there and talk to himself and play with his animals for almost an hour while I tried to go back to sleep in my room. I’m counting it as a success that he didn’t get out! He’s been super excited about the bed because I made him this Clifford-themed quilt, and gave it to him for his 2-year birthday a few weeks ago. Clifford is a big deal at our house, and Max was completely giddy last night when he finally realized that the Clifford quilt was going on his very own big boy bed!
I used both raw-edge applique and embroidery to make the Cliffords and Clifford-themed stuff.
I hope to do a tutorial about the quilt (I did both appliqué and embroidery). I’ll definitely offer some how-to in some fashion though, either actual templates or an explanation of how to make templates and transfer them.

  Secondly, I’m working on Max’s backpack; he starts preschool in a month. How is it possible that my little boy is both sleeping in a regular bed and starting school?! We picked out the fabric for the backpack this weekend (he’s completely obsessed with saying “backpack” and every time he hears the word “school,” he shouts: “Backpack! Backpack!”).
   I’m using a free pattern from Indietutes  and doing a caterpillar appliqué from 100 Appliqué Motifs  by Deborah “Ismoyo” Green  (I can’t recommend this book enough for instant appliqué inspiration!). I'll post more on the backpack after I finish it.

And lastly, tonight at 7 p.m. is my book signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati! I have the feeling you have when you’re throwing a party and you think, “what if no one comes?” At least I know my family will be there! I’ve been so impressed by everything the wonderful people at Joseph-Beth have done to promote Sew Retro and the event tonight. I’ll be back with a full report on how it went!
CHA Supershow entrance
This past weekend, I was at the Craft & Hobby Association Supershow (a retail show of all-things-craft). My publisher had asked a while back if I wanted to come and do some make-and-takes and meet-and-greets (and sign whatever copies of Sew Retro sold). It seemed like a great opportunity, but since I’m ridiculously pregnant (and Chicago is about a six-hour drive from Cincinnati), I asked my sister, Laura, to come with me. Not that I thought I'd go into labor or anything, but I figured I could use the help (and company).
My sister, Laura, and me, at the Craftside booth
  It was great to meet some of the other authors, like Stefanie Girard (Sweater Surgery), Jennifer Worick (Simple Gifts: 50 Little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook, & Knit) and Geri Greenman (The Complete Photo Guide to Creative Painting).

Also, it was my first time running a make-and-take. It was so exciting to see such enthusiastic people cutting out the Fabric Flower Pin! Laura kept reminding me how un-crafty she was, but she totally embraced the project and was all about making them. In fact, I had originally just designed the flower to be two layers, cut at the same size, of the same fabric. And then she was like, um, let’s make two different layers and cut the top one smaller. Brilliant! I love this version of the flower, and I just added it as a bonus project here. Then, Laura was like, hey, I think I’ll make one with THREE layers! One of the women who sat down to do the make-and-take fell in love with Laura’s 3-layered flower. So Laura made a deal with the woman: buy my sister’s book, and I’ll give you the flower. And you know what? The woman bought my book—and Laura gave her the flower! In fact, all weekend long, Laura was talking up my book to any random stranger she came across (and then taking pictures of me signing each book that sold). Perhaps I should hire her as my publicist! Seriously though, I couldn’t have gotten through the weekend without her. All in all, it was a successful first CHA.
Doing make-and-takes