My Favorite Sis Boom Dress Patterns

I’ve made probably close to one hundred dresses in my life, and hands-down, Sis Boom Pattern Co.’s are my favorite. The pattern sizes really correspond well to the wearer’s measurements. I’ve had to do almost no tweaking at all to get things to fit. Above, you can see the Jenny dress, both made from Sis Boom fabric. There’s a side zipper that isn’t really visible in the photos. The dress can be made sleeveless or with cap sleeves. These took me about 3 hours to sew, from start to finish.

The blue dress, I went off the wearer’s measurements that I’d taken a few months prior. She’d lost weight and forgotten to tell me, so the dress was about a size two large. An elasticized belt gave it more of the fitted look I was originally going for. The pink dress was made going from the wearer’s recently taken measurements, and fit her like a glove. I’d never sewn for her before, and all I had to do was cut out the pattern pieces from her corresponding size. It all worked perfectly. The only adjustment I made was to cut the waistline pattern piece so it sloped in half an inch.

The dresses above were made from the Carolina Mae pattern. It comes with sleeve variations, but I think it looks best without any. It can also be made with a plain bodice instead of a ruched bodice, but I really don’t like the way it looks plain. There’s also a sweet little bow in the pattern. The girls’ version is the Gabriella Fae, below.


Sis Boom’s “Gabriella Fae” dress in “Jenny Eliza”

My favorite of the Sis Boom patterns in the Angie, because I can make it in an hour flat. There are no zippers or buttons to fuss with. It pulls right over your head. I’ve easily made half a dozen of these. It also comes with pockets!14572607_10153979508571245_2055295651_o

There are several more Sis Boom dress patterns for women that are really, really cute, but these three are my absolute favorite!

You can buy them here:


Or here:


Women’s March

Zee and I enjoyed attending the Women’s March rally in the nearby town of Greenfield. I had never been to a rally of any kind and was slightly apprehensive. I didn’t want to be around a bunch of angry people, no matter how much I might agree with them. She begged to come along, and I conceded, prepared to leave early if things didn’t go well. (Note: pictures lousy because little daughter was bopping around like a balloon without a string).


I’m guessing there were over 300 people there. Not everyone could fit on the little town common, and the surrounding street corners and sidewalks were filled to overflowing. The tone of the event was friendly and uplifting. Of the 100+ signs people were carrying, only 3 or 4 came across as overly angry or bitter. Most signs did not mention Trump directly. Many signs affirmed acceptance for minorities, concern about climate change, health care, and equal rights. I was surprised to see only 1 or 2 signs that even alluded to abortion. I was also surprised (and impressed) by the amount of men of all ages there. The whole event had a very peaceful tone. Everyone was very respectful of each other. Even though the small town common couldn’t adequately hold everybody, people were saying “excuse me” and taking care not to step on the small children that seemed to be underfoot everywhere. A small handful of policemen were politely directing the flow of foot traffic, and pedestrians were cooperating and thanking them. dsc00280

The emphasis was clearly on love, kindness, and a recommitment to stand up for the rights and well-being of others. It wasn’t a “bash the opposition, blame the Republicans, hate the President” fest. I didn’t hear or read a single word criticizing Republicans or people who voted for Trump. To be strictly honest, I couldn’t hear everything that the speakers were saying because the microphones weren’t very loud, so if someone else attending heard otherwise, I stand corrected. However, from what I could hear, the words and the tone were meant to be uplifting. I didn’t hear any whining or anyone working themselves into a frenzy. I felt surprised that the speakers came across as kind, calm, and encouraging at a time when emotions were so high. After the rally ended, the crowds dispersed. Cheerful people flooded the nearby shops and restaurants.dsc00287

Being surrounded by people committed to looking out for others left me feeling very grateful for our community, and hopeful about the future.dsc00288

I’m so glad I brought my daughter.


Focus on Photography

DSC00089 4.jpgI got a new camera a few days ago, and I’m super excited! My old one was giving me some trouble. My photos lacked the clarity they once had, and the ability to record sound was broken. My camera also began taking really washed-out looking pictures in optimal light conditions. I’m a rather klutzy person and I dropped it a few times. And forgot it in the car overnight during subzero temperatures. And kept carelessly leaving it next to the microwave. And accidentally left it lying next to a package of powerful magnets. The more I think about this, the more I think I should give my new camera to someone more deserving…so I’ll stop thinking about it and resolve to not be an idiot with my favorite toy this time.

My husband got me a green screen backdrop and a beginner’s light kit for Christmas (he is seriously the world’s most thoughtful man), and I want nothing more than to play with my new equipment all day. Unfortunately, though, this past month I’ve been fairly incapacitated. I’ve been having  painful gallbladder issues since early December, and had three procedures to remedy the problem, ending with having my gallbladder removed laparoscopically just two weeks ago. Even though I’m still a bit sore, I’ve gained a lot more mobility over the past three days and have been delighting in taking pictures. The above photo is of my six-year-old son. He was recovering from a slight stomach bug, and looked a bit paler and had darker rings under his eyes than usual. But I assure you that his blue-green eyes really are that big and beautiful. I didn’t edit this much. I minimized the spaghetti sauce stain on the edge of his mouth, and, when I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, I converted the photo to black and white, played with the levels a tiny bit, and sharpened the photo slightly. Oh, and I removed evidence of his runny nose.


Here’s a photograph of my son and four-year-old daughter, playing in the woods by our house. They fight like normal siblings, but are very affectionate with each other.


Here’s a photo of my lovely little daughter. She looks a little anxious in this picture, because she was trying to build a house of twigs and straw (a la the Three Little Pigs), and it wasn’t coming together to her liking.

Here are two photos of my children hanging out in my room. The pictures are cluttered (like my room), but I love them they were taken when we were having so much fun together. Zee confiscated my glasses, and proceeded to wear them while putting on an impromptu ballet. Bubsy had the giggles and was extra cuddly. My husband (not pictured) was playing guitar in the background.

I’ve enrolled in two photography classes (non accredited)  at a nearby community college, and they start very soon. I’ve always loved photography, but have never really know my way around a camera, especially the manual settings. I also know shamefully little about lighting. I’m quite excited about the chance to learn more!

Novel To Do List

  1. Organize book by events into three parts. The first events in the book should go into the first part. The middle events should go into the second part. The events toward the end of the book should go into the third part. You don’t have to have finished writing for each event, but you do need to decide which scenes and events go into each part, in chronological order (more or less). List these. Then cut and paste what you have written into each part.
  2. Finish writing (this is a rough draft—it doesn’t have to be comprehensive or perfect) the unfinished scenes.
  3. Tie the scenes together with segways. I.e.: “The next time Caitlyn saw so-and-so, she was cheerful as a cricket”, or “Several weeks passed by with little change”. Doesn’t have to be brilliant–just get the job done.
  4. Look over everything. Make sure everything is in the right spot. Does everything make sense? Is there anything you need to add to make it more coherent?
  5. Sort into chapters.
  6. Add descriptions to your basic text. Set the scene. I.e.: “The palm trees cast long shadows over the lawn…”, “The air had grown cool and crisp…”, “A breeze brought Caitlyn a whiff of the neighbor’s barbecue…”, “He stood too long in one place and the fire ants found him, sending tiny pinpricks of pain shooting all over his bare feet,” etc.. Don’t obsess over making the descriptions perfect. Write down the general gist. You can go back and fine tune the descriptions to your heart’s content when working on a later draft. Do not allow yourself to be bogged down now.
  7. Re-read and re-write the novel, one chapter at a time. Do not skip ahead. Do not go back and edit a previous chapter. Fine tune descriptions. When done with each chapter, run it through Grammarly to check for spelling and grammatical errors.
  8. Once a week (or as often as you can), send “finished” chapter to one or two objective friends who will provide feedback about what works and what doesn’t work. Make necessary changes. Run through Grammarly.
  9. When you have fine-tuned the last chapter, send the book to a professional editor. Listen to his or her advice and make necessary changes.
  10. Find an agent.

Seasonal Sewing

I just love sewing for my little daughter, who is almost 5. She recently went through a terrible (for me) phase in which she didn’t want to wear anything I made. She’d pick out the fabric and the pattern, and when I gave it to her, she’d say “No thanks, Mommy. Maybe one of my cousins will want this.” So, I backed off and didn’t make her anything for a few weeks. Eventually, she forgot I wasn’t cool and started asking me to make her things again. I played it coy and pretended I was too busy to make her anything at the moment, which worked like a dream. Soon, she was begging me to make her clothes again! I made her this dress to wear to an upcoming Christmas concert at her school. It can be worn in any season, simply by adding a shirt or cardigan.

She loves the roses! I love the vivid blue against the white, and the pale blue dainty lace-like pattern that covers it. The fabric is from the Hotel Frederiksted line, and is called “Krysta” in white. The sewing pattern is Sis Boom’s Gabriella Fae, and there are multiple sleeve and bodice options available.

I thought Zee could use some more Christmassy items in her wardrobe, so I made her a Leighanna Peasant Top in some more fabric from the Hotel Frederiksted line: “Sophia” in pink. I just love the Sophia with it’s birds, nests, and leaves. As you can see, my daughter is delighted with it, too! I went with the ruffled sleeve option, and added some pretty pointed lace to the sleeves and hem. It looks pretty and casual with her blue jeans, but would look really dressy with her stretch velvet leggings. The Leighanna is a really fast pattern to whip up. It can be completed in half an hour, if your children are napping or absorbed in a television show.


Leighanna Peasant Top and Easy Fit Pants.

I made her some cute flannel pajamas using the Leighanna top and Scientific Seamstress’s “Easy-Fit” pants pattern. These pants are the quickest sew ever, and can be completed in as few as fifteen minutes, if your children are properly distracted. There are multiple options for the pants pattern, too. I was going to give the pajamas to her for Christmas, but I felt like taking pictures, and Zee needed something non-stained and non-pilly to wear to her preschool’s pajama party next week, anyway.

The patterns I used can be found here:

Thanks for following along on my sewing adventures, and Happy Holidays!


Wearing Homemade Through Europe

This past summer, I had the incredible pleasure of visiting our exchange student, Reinhilde, in France and Belgium! Reinhilde spent the 2012-2013 school year with us and truly became part of our family. This fun, adventurous young woman has returned several times to visit us over the years, and it was high time one of us went to visit her! She and her family were so hospitable and made sure I had an unforgettable time! I spent eight days there and loved every single minute of it, even the ones I spent regretting climbing the Arc de Triomphe in high-heeled espadrilles!

Choosing a wardrobe for the trip was oh-so-fun and a little stressful, because I didn’t have a huge clothing budget and, judging from the photos I’d seen, Europeans seemed to be much better dressed than Americans. Finally, I decided not to worry about it and just wear things I felt most attractive in. I did buy a couple outfits for the trip, but mostly went with what I had. I must not have looked too out of place there, because a German couple asked me for directions and several people spoke to me in French, before my horrible pronunciation informed them I was an American.

I’d love to write and write and write about all the fun things we saw and did, but I just don’t have time (or space for all the photos), so I’m going to just focus on the clothes I made.

The insanely photogenic Reinhilde even agreed to model a dress I made for her. So, without further ado, the pictures!

I made this top from the Sis Boom “Devon” pattern, in Sis Boom’s “Rachel” print from the Color Brigade line. (Here I must pause to brag–Jennifer Paganelli often names fabric after her fans, and this gorgeous floral is named after me!). The top is so cute and comfy, I wore it all over Paris–to The Louvre, Eiffel Tower (much higher than I realized), Napolean’s tomb, and more–and on my last evening in Brussels. Here’s a picture of Reinhilde in front of the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t make her outfit, but I just love this picture of her and had to share it: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I also wore this blue tunic during my travels. It’s made from soft voile using Sis Boom’s Patricia Tunic pattern. I ended up wearing a scarf over it the whole time, because I got a grease stain on it while (perhaps too enthusiastically) enjoying French cuisine. Here I am my last evening in Paris, in front of the Eiffel Tower (again) and the Notre Dame. I was crushed that the cathedral had closed before I got there and I couldn’t go inside! I had really wanted to see those famous gargoyles.

Here I am in front of Castle Gravensteen in Ghent and with Reinhilde in Bruges. I picked up that pretty blue and white scarf while shopping on the Champs-Élysées.



And here’s a picture of Reinhilde with her sweet and lovely mom, Simonne. The Laans were so hospitable! Reinhilde majored in tourism in college and was the perfect travel buddy. Simonne joined us for the last three days and was a lot of fun to see the Flanders region of Belgium with her! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s hard to pick a favorite day, because every day was absolutely magical, but the place I most enjoyed visiting was Versailles. I’m interested in French history, particularly the Revolution. It was enthralling to see first-hand the excessive opulence of the kings and queens, especially the tragic and beautiful Marie Antoinette. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wore a sundress I had made earlier that summer from Violette Fields Threads Ginger pattern. I had to do a bit of finagling to get that pattern to fit me, but I really like the end results. I used the same “Rachel” fabric as I did in the peasant top.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okay, so the above picture was taken in my yard, not at Versailles, but I like the way it turned out better than the ones taken in France, so pardon my vanity! Here I am waiting in front of the Arc du Triomphe for the bus to take us to Versailles, and here I am in front of Versailles. Holy monkey, but the palace and its grounds were breathtaking!


I made Reinhilde a dress from Sis Boom’s Jenny pattern. I love the way it turned out, even though Reinhilde had dropped a couple dress sizes since I last measured her and she had to wear a belt. The fabric is from Sis Boom’s latest line, Hotel Frederiksted. I just love the blue! Someone commented “Tres jolie”on Reinhilde’s dress (which means “very pretty/sweet”) as she passed, and another person told me the fabric of my dress fit in perfectly with the surroundings. I would call that a sewing win!


I swear this beautiful Belgian should take up modeling!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was the trip of a lifetime, and I feel so blessed that I got to see some of Belgium and France with one of my favorite people!

The Patricia Tunic

I’m Rachel, and I’m super excited to take part in the Sew for the Holidays blog tour with Sis Boom Patterns! 14992016_10154736038224532_4809584453422002730_nI offered to write a post about The Patricia Tunic, because it’s one of my favorite patterns. (Okay, I say that about every Sis Boom pattern. I honestly don’t know which one is my favorite). I love it because, as a tall, broad-shouldered woman, it is really, really hard to find made-to-wear tops that fit. I’ve tried to make tops for myself with patterns from other companies, but even when I go by the measurements, they pull at the armpits and are too tight around the ribcage. I find this pattern to be very true to size, and it only needs the most minor of adjustments to fit my big-boned frame. I simply add a quarter of an inch length to the top of the shoulder seams, and make sure to mark the same adjustment to the facings. Even without that little adjustment, the blouse still fits me pretty well, but I’m a perfectionist! This pattern is super quick and easy to stitch up–it took me about 3 hours from start to finish (including cutting out the pattern). It would probably have taken less time if it hadn’t been for frequent interruptions from my two young children. I really like how the princess seams kind of smooth over my “problem areas”. There are also a lot of different things you can do with this one patten. You can put the facings on the outside for contrast, and there are different sleeve options. The tunic can be a shorter length or can go to your knees, if you want it to. I keep intending to make a breezy beach coverup from crinkled cotton gauze, and a nightgown from soft flannel. I made myself another tunic in blue, and one from the little girl’s version, the Sophie.


Here I am with my little daughter, in our matching tops!

The girls’ pattern ranges from size 6 months to 12 years. The women’s pattern ranges from size 0 to 26. Here’s one I made in a cotton batiste with 3/4 sleeves. I love how using different fabric changes this pattern up. The batiste was nice and breezy, while the cotton ones were crisper and more structured. 13886307_10153822686241245_9111147400852053029_n
 And here’s one I made with contrasting collar and cuffs. Sadly, it got caught on a jagged edge and tore irreparably before I could get a clear picture of it. Such a shame–it was such a great top: 10502131_10152307691391245_5274180507655581464_n

So fun to get to take part in the “Sew or the Holidays with Sis Boom” blog tour! I would recommend this company to anyone! Here are some more pics in my latest tunic in Sis Boom’s most recent line, Hotel Frederiksted. I am LOVING the birds.


I think Santa approves of this pattern, too! Check out the links below for some great crafting blogs that will be featuring more Sis Boom patterns. Happy Holidays, and happy sewing!
Here are the links to buying the patterns online:“>Nov 15 – MrsPodge.…“>Nov 17 – Anna’s Heirloom.“>Nov 22 – Handmade Boy.“>Nov 29 –  Seam of my Pants.   Dec 1 – Shanna’s Blog.…“>Dec 6 – Sunflower Seams.“>Dec 8 – A Crazt Craft Lady.“>Dec 13 – Glitter in My Coffee .…“>Dec 15 – Troop to Tots.“>Dec 17 – Cookie n’ Bees.