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brienne moody

why I sew on KCW

what makes me sew: brienne

Hello, readers. Brienne Moody here, one last time this season to talk about the why.

I spend as much time as I can making things. And even when I can’t, it consumes my thoughts. And kids things in particular. As I considered this post over the last few weeks, I couldn’t come up with exactly what it was that compels me to make. Compulsion is the nature of it, to be sure – but why?Feathered Vest By Brienne

There was a time when my marriage was new and my babies were both so little and unfamiliar that hand-making helped me to make sense of domesticity – a concept that I had always flailed hard against.

Feathered Vest 2

But that’s not why for me anymore.

Feather Vest Front By Brienne

As I worked on this leather-feathered vest (using this pattern), I finished listening to a novel, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. About midway through, the book’s writer answered this question for me and much more eloquently than I could have.

“In the evenings, she lit a lamp and unfolded the fabric on the table. Following the pattern offered a kind of comfort, a quiet balance [to her day’s work which was] coarse, exhausting [and unpredictable]. Sewing was different. She knew if she was patient and meticulous, if she carefully followed the lines, took each step as it came, and obeyed the rules, that in the end when it was turned right-side out, it would be just how it was meant to be (205-6).”


That passage about a woman sewing a coat for a child is one that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. Even though she’s musing there about stitching, the passage also contributes to the book’s persistent theme of impermanence. The stitching, it helps us to cope with the fleeting nature of things. Of kids and of youth and of thwarted meant-to-bes. And, I think, that’s why I do it.

Baby in the Hood Jacket By Brienne

What makes you sew?

kcw guest post by brienne from brienne moody

HOW TO make clothes that layer well

Making clothes that layer well is a practice that is near and dear to me. I love me a good garment made with a delicate voile and finished beautifully with hand stitching. I ogle French and Japanese patterns and I’m intrigued by their subtle details and runway shapes. But practicality is an important factor for me too. I need to make things that will straddle four very diverse seasons and that will be joyfully worn by my small and wiggly offspring.

For me, the easiest answer to what layers well is knitwear headed up by the ever-versatile flashback tee. There are so many ways to make it your own. You can paint it, peter pan and button it, slash and swing it or make it a dress. Flashback VariationsIt’s easily layered, one over another or peeking out from under a vest.

Panda Bimaa vest.001

This brings me to my next great layer love: the vest. I discovered this weekend that the beloved Bimaa can be made without sleeves, vest-style. The shoulders are already narrow enough, no need to re-draw. And it works great for layering! These Skinny Jeans in a stretch wool leave plenty of room for woolies underneath (we all wear two pairs of pants this time of year). And you can quickly make that layer for underneath using the Fancy Pants Leggings pattern.

Even though my little guy loves to be warm, he doesn’t like long sleeves so we stuck with a short sleeve version under his Bimaa. But wouldn’t a long sleeve version with these elbow patches from the Purl Bee look great under a vest for a little pop of color? This would be a fun way to re-vamp an earlier version of a Flashback too. Purl Bee Elbow Patches

I find that a Flip Vest layered over a Bimaa and lined with fleece makes an excellent cozy layer. And done up in a Heather Ross print it becomes a “Storybook Vest,” one that she is eager to read to anyone who will listen. A Sweet Pocket Pinafore lined with sherpa keeps the girl who loves dresses warm for a special event. It’s shown here worn over a  Geranium.

Winter Girl Layers.001

The Geranium Dress itself is an excellent option for layering. I find that the bodice is fitted enough to go easily under a sweater but still roomy enough to be layered over a Flashback Tee. I’ve been known to dress my daughter in two Geraniums. One at the tunic length over one made in a dress length. The dress looks great too over a Simple Skirt. It gives the look some depth and the dress some extra flounce.

Geranium and Simple Skirt.001This is the last post that I’ll be doing before the real deal takes place. I really hope that what I’ve shared here has helped with your planning. It’s been a dream to be here. And what an honor to be included along with SanaeLaura and Tara. I’ve loved hearing from those who’ve had time to leave comments. And I can’t wait to be inspired by the beautiful things that you’ll make!

My most sincere thanks for having me here. Take good care and please keep in touch, I’ll be over here. Thank you, Meg!!

kcw guest post by brienne from brienne moody

kcw plans: brienne

Hi again, Brienne here. How are you faring in this frigid cold? Are your holiday decorations stored? Have you swept up all of the pine needles and eased your children’s post-holiday illnesses? Well now that your home is in perfect, harmonious order; now that your sewing room has been professionally cleaned, the thread has been re-stocked and your fabric dream list has been ordered and processed, we can get down to business. Are you ready to make some art?

The title of this post, “KCW plans” does not have to mean:  “KCW list.” I’m not a stellar list-maker… I’m not a great planner. I am conscientious and punctual but when it comes to to-do style planning, I don’t know where to begin or where to end. Two ways that I have found to get around this are 1. a three dimensional inspiration collection and 2. diving in.

First, the inspiration “collection.”  Ideally, this could take the form of a board with fabric or knitted swatches, notions and other bits. Side note: have you heard of Felicia? She has a beautiful example of an inspiration board here.

I am a person who writes all over her wall in the sewing room and who curses hums quietly while her kids pour a whole jar of seed beads onto the floor while she’s sewing. The best I can do is to pile up some fabric to look at while I think. That will work too.

To get to figuring out what my littles need from KCW, I needed to see what they had and what they were already wearing. I pulled some of the pieces that they wear most frequently in order to get a visual picture of who they are in their clothes. Their Jam.001

1. Deer Mask (was a gift but here’s a link to something similar) 2.In Threes Cardigan 3.Upcylced Galaxy Flashback 4. Felt Pocket Necklace 5.Elf Hat 6. Goat Bimaa 7.Knit Skinnies

She lives in her bathing suit and tutu. She likes “warm sleevers,” pink and this humble little heart necklace that I made her last year. He is perpetually clad in a hat – sleeps in it, bathes in it, wears it all summer long. He likes to pull a hood up over the hat and wants to be warm. He’s craving some flashier duds. Both of them dig animal motifs or clothing that makes an interesting noise… I tied some bells onto their boots at Christmas and they’re still going strong:) From this three dimensional inspiration, I was able to better approach a more comprehensive list.

 KCW Plans 2

1. Bimaa 2. Flip Vest 3. Rae’s Button Placket Tutorial 4.Hosh Pants 5. Seraphic Pants (color blocking idea inspired by Noodlehead’s version) 6.Bandana Scarf Inspiration 7. Geranium 8. Flashback

The second way to plan that I have found works best for me is to – drumroll please…BEGIN. Yep, that’s it. I’m sorry, I wish that it were more poetic than that. But I find that so often I have excellent ideas in mind but out of fright or avoidance or some other phenomenon, the idea never comes to fruition. It’s the starting that’s the hard part. With that in mind, I’ve been testing out some ideas that I’ve had over the past couple of weeks.

Works in Progress.001

1. Seraphic Pant 2. Dress Pattern by Me 3. Ethereal Dress

Finally, it seems that I have a bad habit of guessing at their sizing. I would not recommend this. And I vow to do it no more! I measured my daughter recently and she spans like four different sizes. Her chest, one size, her height another. So in the spirit of getting organized, here is something that you can download and print.


If you can bear my humble sketch, you can tack the thing up in your sewing space for quick access to their measurements.

Please share what you’re planning. I’d love to know what you have up your sleeves and how you go about preparing for this rodeo.

Thanks for having me, Meg!