life. in pleats.

photo of pattern drafting with pencil and rulerOn to the bodice. I need to find the best way to re-create the pleats in this gown, first in the bodice, and, later, in the skirt. I have traveled this path before. And I gave up. I want to give up again because I keep trying and the solution is just not coming. Draft. Fit. Redraw. Fit. Take a break. Rework. Consider. Think.

Instead of sewing in little spaces of time that present themselves, I turn my attention to finding a pet sitter for Chloë and rearranging all the files in my office. I watch hair styling tutorials on YouTube.

Now it has been several days since I had the fabric in my hands. Resistance is strong, trying to win.

So, before I start work today I do two things. I procrastinate. And then I call a couple of friends who understand. I announce to them that Resistance will not win. Not today.

I set aside drafting and move on to draping the bodice fabric. If I could cross my fingers, I would. But that makes it really hard to sew.

Finally, progress!

And a text from a friend: “Sloth doesn’t sound as elegant as procrastination. Just saying…”

O, dear. So true! I just want everything to fall into place. Pleats as a metaphor for life! Things don’t just fall into place, not without action. I’m grateful I fought resistance and sloth last week and made a phone call. I love our new pet sitter! The files are another story. But my husband says my hair looks great and I actually made some progress today with my sewing project. Without action, there could be no progress, however slight. Just saying…

xo, Nancy

photo of under bodice

photo of fabric draped on model


another photo of draping fabric on model

photo of draped and basted bodice


photo of front and back bodice pieces ready to sew


what matters most.

I continue to devote myself to recreating the fancy ball gown. When I am not in the studio, I am thinking about it. On BART, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system, I pull out my tablet and read The War of Art. In Book Three, Beyond Resistance, Steven Pressfield stresses professionalism. He describes the qualities to bring to my work that Resistance will not be able to overcome. And then he says the one thing that keeps me going back to the studio: “Because the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

So, I re-enter the studio, armed with a knowing smile. For the time being, I will devote myself to just the underskirt. Here is a peek at my process.

photo of fabric on ironing board 1. Draft the pattern.

2. Cut out the pattern.

photo of paper pattern

photo of prototype on model

3. Cut out and fit the prototype.

4. Review the underpinnings.

photo of model in petticoat and bodice

photo of pattern with hand-written notes

5. Re-draft the pattern.

6. Adjust the prototype.

7. Wait overnight for fabric to settle.

photo of paper pattern with scissors on drafting board

8. Check the length. (too long.)



9. Adjust the pattern.

photo of pinning pattern to fabric

photo of cutting out the prototype











11. Let the whole thing settle again.

12. Start thinking about the next of prototype on model

xo, Nancy

ballerina. priceless.

tiny ballerina before

A friend of mine asked if I could sew a very, very tiny skirt. Her question led to a new project. Her friend needed someone to provide TLC for a precious ballerina music box. Thus ensued a grand adventure of learning and problem-solving.

photo of vintage ballerina music box

For a music box that may have been around since the 1940s, it looks really good and I feel honored to have been invited to help with its renewal.

  • Replacement ballerina from a music box found on eBay
  • Replacement fabric for the stage from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco
  • Replacement paper flowers from my very own collection of trims

My client’s reaction when she saw the finished piece? Priceless.

I created this video, tiny ballerina, to share the story from beginning to end in 30 seconds. (The time frame for this project was much longer. I encountered Resistance, especially when it came to taking the music box apart. A clever friend helped me with that part of the project, right in the middle of his work day.)

The part of the story that is so wonderful is this: Once again I am made aware of how Angels arrive in my life to help me through fear and resistance and feeling unsure and I rejoice!

xo, Nancy

(You can make a video of your own at Animoto)


one little petticoat

photo of tulle layers basted together

It has been a month since I last spoke about the woes of tulle.

To add to my woes, lurking self-doubt and a wicked sore throat slowed my pace.

photo of doll-size petticoat on work surface

Now I’m happy to say that the plan to baste the layers of tulle together worked! Even with that preparation, the tulle still shifted. Next time, I might cut the pieces of tulle larger to account for the shifting during the process of basting and the required trimming afterward.

With the help of some of my favorite tools ~ in this case the rotary cutter aligned with a T-square ~ I trimmed the tulle. With a nice, even edge, I was able to stitch the tulle to the organdy yoke.

photo of doll-size petticoat

The result pleases me. I’m still reflecting on the delays that hold me back from moving forward with creative projects. Most of all, it is Resistance. I know about it, what brings it up.

I found two books on the subject that are really good. One is Creative Thursday; the other The War of Art. I wish my courage to work through Resistance wouldn’t take quite so long.

Maybe next time.

photo of doll-size petticoat on doll