Sunday, September 29, 2013

I want my kid to be able to make or fix EVERYTHING

Little hands helping Mommy tape together her sewing pattern. #isew #mytoddlersews

Little hands helping me tape together my sewing pattern

I want my daughter to be able to make, fix and understand EVERYTHING.

I don't want her to think she has to SHOP her way out of problems or challenges: I want her to know she can DIY, not BUY. I want her to know she can produce, not just consume.

I want to teach her self-reliance and self-confidence, not helplessness.

I want her to know that she is capable of making it or doing it or solving it herself.

When I was growing up, my parents made and fixed almost EVERYTHING themselves: they constructed and upholstered furniture, put in flooring and wiring, built a porch and installed skylights, gardened vegetables and fruits and canned them, fixed and customized computers ... my mom did photography and painted and sculpted and sewed and knit and quilted and baked elaborate amazing cakes, my dad built beds and tables and chairs and bookcases. (All while both working full-time as public school computer teachers).

And helping Mommy cut the pattern too. #isew #mytoddlersews

And always, always they tried to teach us.

Nowadays, I find myself wishing I had paid as much attention to my dad's teachings as my mom's — he would try to teach me how to build a bookshelf or install drywall or safely handle electrical wiring, but I really didn't listen. So I can paint, sew, knit, quilt and bake, but I can't repair a bicycle or fix a small appliance or design a computer network. Maybe next time I visit my dad I should ask for some lessons?

Little Z cut out the envelope all by herself. #mytoddlersews

Z cut out my Red Velvet Clutch pdf envelope all by herself!

Myself, whenever I am doing ANYTHING that is safe enough for Z to participate in, I let her if she is interested. She can't go near the pins and shears, but she can help me tape together sewing patterns and wind my yarn.


No, I won't get things done as quickly as if I did them myself and let her play with her blocks a few feet away. Yes, she sometimes unravels my knitting projects or puts too many chocolate chips in the cookies. Who cares? The pride on her face makes it all worth it:


Some of the things my husband and I are teaching her (or will teach her when she's ready) Sewing, knitting, quilting, baking, cooking, biking, painting, photography, cartooning, writing, graphic design, using a graphics tablet in PhotoShop — seriously:

Z using the Wacom tablet

Some of the things my parents (and my brother and sister-in-law) are teaching her: Gardening, carpentry, boating, fishing, farming (my brother has a farm in Maine)... spackling:


Here she is helping my dad (her Zadie) build a custom wall-to-wall bookshelf in her bedroom:


I think all of this is already having a big effect. Half the time when I try to help her with anything because I'm in a rush (like putting on her clothes or shoes) she says "No thank you Mommy, I can do it myself!" She also stomps around the house in her boots proclaiming "I am so brave and so strong, I can climb really tall ladders!"

Me Made May 23: Green and purple

Love you more than I can describe, my brave, strong, smart little girl!

P.S. The bookshelf in the above photo was built by my amazing dad, the sculpture of me and Masheka is by my amazing mom, and the skirt I'm wearing is by me.

So: What did your parents teach you to make? And if you have kids or plan to—what are you teaching them/will you teach them?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Red Velvet Collection Presale is on!

Oh hello... you know you want to sew me! I'm only $15.91 USD for a limited time or you can download me as a PDF right away for $14.47!

Red Velvet Collection—now on presale! 

And I just know you want to make all of my friends too... get all five of us as paper patterns for just $46.29 USD or download us right away as PDFs for $36.26.

Phew! I am so excited for the launch of these babies I can't even stand it. My husband Masheka and I are really proud of our work on the art and illustrations, and personally, I just can't wait to sew every one of these lovelies... maybe twice or three times, too!

Three of the PDFs from the Cake Patterns Red Velvet collection are already available for download, and the paper patterns will all be shipping in 2-3 weeks—at which time this lovely presale will be over.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dear Burda Style back issues: stop mocking me!

"Someday you might sew me... I looked really awesome on your friends!"

Dear Burda Style 2010 back issues falling off my bookshelves and spilling into my pattern drawer,

STOP MOCKING ME. I know I don't sew as often as some of your other lady friends, but it's not that I'm afraid of tracing or anything. 

It's just that well, you showed up EVERY SINGLE MONTH that I subscribed to you and some months I can't even pull out my sewing machine, never mind dive into a sea of criss-crossing colored lines and extract a stylish colorblocked knit dress.

And sometimes I leaf through you and circle ideas for things I might make someday, but then I don't, and I think you're laughing at me.

By the time you sent me the maternity-themed-issue above, I was already in labor (for FIVE days I might add, not that that's your fault or anything). What's up with that?

To be honest I've only ever sewn one Burda Style magazine pattern and it was awesome, but the experience of altering it for maternity and deciphering the binding instructions left me a little exhausted.

Please stop pretending that somehow, someday I am going to stand on the beach with the wind in my hair and say "oh, you know... I just traced up this Burda Style pattern last night and threw it together on my serger without making any mistakes. No big."

I just can't take it anymore. I know you are awesome and economical and have cool trench coats and unusual blouse construction and smarter, better fit than the Big Four and if I was a lot cooler, I would find the time to hang out with you.

But I just don't think we belong together anymore.

So yeah. I'm selling you all on eBay starting at $1 each. I hope you can find a faster friend who will trace you like there's no tomorrow.


P.S. Please don't be offended that I'm keeping my Ottobres.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A (Toddler) Dress a Day + Yummy Discount Fabric

 An improvisational pleated toddler dress in wax print fabric, designed and sewn by my amazing mom Beryl

A little while back I mentioned my mom had gotten into the habit of sewing a baby dress (or other garment) every day. After sewing up a fantastic wardrobe for my not-yet-born niece, I'm happy to report that she has now moved on to making some awesome custom clothes for my toddler Z.

Improvisational toddler dress by my amazing mom

The coolest thing is that these are all no-pattern—just self-drafted or copied from ready-to-wear. My mom is way less obsessive and perfectionist than me, and it doesn't bother her at all to just draw out a pattern, sew it up, and tweak it to fit. (Me, I'm too busy smoothing out my fabric so it is PERFECTLY ON GRAIN).

Toddler PJs by my amazing mom

I couldn't wait til they arrive in the mail and I can have Z model them... which is why I am showing you pictures of them now.

Improvisational toddler dress by my amazing mom

As for fabric, my mom was getting sick of the weak selection at her local Jo-Ann's, so she took a trip to the fantastic Sew Fisticated Discount Fabric shop in Dochester, Mass (see my review). She was rewarded with a huge pile of lovely fabrics at some very low prices (many $1-3 per yard), including some really gorgeous wax prints.

Aren't those yummy? Thanks Mom!

As for me, I've been working on a bunch of things behind the scenes I can't actually show you yet (I'm a woman of mystery, right?) but ... I promise they'll be worth the wait!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sewing pattern fun at the Small Press Expo!

Selling Cake sewing patterns and comics at SPX

With my cartoonist husband Masheka Wood at the Small Press Expo last weekend, selling sewing patterns, comics and my new children's book, Susan's Mess. (Note: Wearing the Tiramisu knit dress was a good sales move!)

Ok, I'm not sure if FUN is exactly the right way to describe sitting behind a table at a comics convention worrying that no one there will actually be vaguely interested in either children's books or sewing patterns and randomly yelling out "Hi there! Do you sew?" or "Hi there, are you interested in children's comics?" with a perky smile.

Luckily it turned out that many comics and cartooning enthusiasts DO sew, including a number who sew costumes for cosplay, and some of them were interested in learning to sew everyday clothes. They loved that I was wearing a dress that matched the Tiramisu pattern envelope, too.

As I suspected, the Bonny sailor knit top was the hottest seller. Here's Rachel, an illustrator who loves sewing and hockey (hence her hockey-fabric dress, made from a Simplicity Project Runway pattern):

Rachel, a happy @sewingcake customer @spxcomics. Love her hockey dress (Simplicity Project Runway pattern).

And there were a decent amount of small children about who were interested in my new children's book (more on that later when I have it properly and available for sale on Amazon!)

So despite all my nervousness, we had an amazing day at the convention, bringing in twice as many sales as I'd ever made in all my years of cartooning conventions, and actually more than covering the cost of the table and bus fare. And in the evening, I had the honor of presenting the Ignatz for Outstanding Series at the awards ceremony.

And it was great to hang with cartooning pals from way back like Matt Bors and Robert Kirby.

I even got a little time to finish sleeve one of my Delancey cardigan... the cartoonists around me found it very amusing ("That woman is knitting a sweater WHILE SHE IS WEARING IT!")

#knitting while selling comics and sewing patterns at @spxcomics with @whatmashekadid

Monday, September 9, 2013

In DC area Sept. 14/15: Selling Cake & Comics at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD

Family cartooning convention

Selling comics and soft stuffed doodles back in 2011, the last time we tabled at a cartooning convention as a family

Just a heads up if you're in the DC area: Masheka and I (and the little one) are going to be tabling at the 2013 Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland this coming weekend on September 14 and 15.

I'll probably be doing a lot of toddler chasing, but I also plan to have a children's comic book to sell... and I'll be wearing some Cake and selling a selection of Cake as well, including a few that are currently out of stock in the US and waiting to be reprinted. (Plus: if you come by my table and mention you're a regular Polka Dot Overload reader, I'll give you a 10% discount!).

Here's the official poster for the event. I have no idea if anyone else attending this thing will be of the sewing persuasion, but we'll see!

Please come by and say hello!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Finished (At Last): Vintage Pattern Illustration Giveaway

"You on a Vintage Pattern Envelope" Giveaway drawing by Polka Dot Overload featuring Simplicity 3471

Cosmo on her bicycle in a 1960s dress made with a 1970s print and an orange ranunculus flower in her dreads

Eons and ages and eras upon a time ago (otherwise known as June 2012), I hosted a giveaway for a custom illustration of a reader on the vintage pattern envelope of her/his choice. I had originally promised 6-8 weeks for completion...

And then things got a little stressed around here and then much more stressed and me and the little one were sick for eight months and we had hospital trips and I had surgery and... then we got better and I realized I needed to dig up the giveaway art and finally get it done.

Luckily Cosmo, the giveaway winner (who blogs at Just Too Much and Los Angeles Cycle Chic), was very patient and still loved her final artwork, one year plus late as it was!

She had requested a drawing of herself in Simplicity 3471, an early 1960s pattern (which I see you can get on eBay for about $26):

Made up in this wild 70s-esque fabric:

With an orange ranunculus flower pinned in her hair.

I also chose to draw her on her bicycle, as I always love vintage pattern illustrations featuring props and I thought it would suit her style.

Better late than never.

P.S. Meg the Grand, your promised bonus TARDIS giveaway artwork is next even though you told me not to worry about it!


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