Me Made May 2018 Week 1: Sewing with Knits

img_0476May is off to a great start in the Northeast. The weather is finally beautiful after a winter that just wouldn’t quit and with spring, my sewjo has returned. I spent some time the last few weeks testing a new knit top for Made By Rae and this has gotten me back into sewing knits. I finished 4 (!) garments the first week in May and I love all four. Rae’s new pattern Jade, soon to be released, is a knit top with four sleeve options. The best part for me is that the sleeves are designed to work with the Isla knit dress. I have made many versions of this dress, which you can see here, here and here. I couldn’t wait to try one with sleeves. This is Art Gallery fabric that I originally bought planning to make a maxi dress, thinking that it would be navy, but is more of a teal. img_0515When the fabric came in the mail, I decided that it was too similar to a teal maxi dress I made last year and cut out an Isla. And there it sat for months until the Jade pattern testing. Since I had bought a bit more yardage than I typically do since I had planned a maxi dress, I had enough for sleeves and was even able to match stripes. I finished it this weekend and wore it to work today. The fit is perfect and adding sleeves is actually quicker than finishing the armholes with binding. I have two more versions of Isla’s with sleeves cut and ready to go. I can’t recommend these patterns more highly. I mean check out the fit. Spot on! img_0588I was given this beautiful striped cotton knit by Cloud 9 Fabrics to sew my tester version of the Jade pattern. img_9987I sewed a couple of versions using scraps of knits I had on hand to make sure that I had the fit down but it was pretty perfect from the start. I added one inch to the length and one inch to the 3/4 length sleeves. I would add one more inch to the length the next time I make the pattern but it was otherwise perfect.  img_0088The fabric sews up beautifully and it is lovely to wear. So soft and comfortable. I used my regular sewing machine with a walking foot and used a stretch stitch. img_9986All the tips I use to sew knits can be found in this post.  I had to re-learn how to sew cuffs since it had been so long. Here is a visual. You turn it inside out and sew it on the inside.  img_9990I was really happy with the finished shirt and have worn it several times already. The fit is so good! img_0084Back view:img_0081-1Sewing the Jade inspired me to finally sew a pattern I bought last year and that I have been meaning to sew for so long: the Blackbird Cardigan by Helen’s Closet.img_0119 I had bought some sweater knits on sale from Rachael at Imagine Gnats last fall (word to the wise: her sales are amazing and you should be on her email list). I had an afternoon of cutting out various patterns and had the pieces ready to go Saturday morning when the weather cooled off (we had a brief 85 degree temp heat wave for a day or two) and it was only a couple of hours of sewing. img_0173I basically haven’t taken it off since. SOOOOO GOOD!! Here it is with a double gauze Gemma Tank and Luna pants that I sewed during last year’s Me Made May.

img_0154Here it is with the Jade striped top and jeans. img_0200I have a couple of other versions planned, one in the same grey and white striped Cloud 9 knit that I used for the Jade top. Stay tuned. I also sewed up an Isla in awesome Cotton and Steel octopus fabric which I finally found at Alewives Fabrics after searching the internet (I think it was so popular that it is sold out at many stores). I am glad I persevered because I love it as an Isla. I didn’t have enough for sleeves but I like it as is. Sleeves might be too many octopi; although is that a thing?


Note: I was gifted the Cloud 9 striped fabric to help test the Jade pattern. All of the opinions expressed in my blog are my own. This blog is not monetized. I provide links to resources that I have found useful but I do not earn any money if you click on the links. The Jade Pattern will be available soon from Made By Rae Patterns.


Nursebean Sews a bit and Reads a lot: March 2018

I have done a bit of sewing since the new year began. I finished some long-standing works-in-process in time to mail them to my daughter for her birthday. See Exhibit A below. I love making Ruby Blouses with a patterned yoke and white double gauze for the rest. I finished two and mailed them off. The Ruby yoke can be made with a single fat quarter of quilting cotton so it is a great stash-buster.I also have spent a lot of time planning sewing projects and some time shopping for fabric with the lovely Christmas gift from my husband who is also quite the artist as can be seen in Exhibit’s B and C below. I am not sure what I will use it all for but I love both the In the Folds Peplum top and Rae’s Gemma Tank peplum-ized with this tutorial. I think I will try them both.img_9176I also bought this knit (couldn’t resist) for another Isla dressimg_9149 and some double gauze because when I imagine my ideal fabric stash, it is basically all double gauze. I don’t know what I am going to use it for but I do like the Hadley Blouse in double gauze (check out Teri’s version here) and I like the juxtaposition of a more tailored look with fun fabric, hence the teal below which I bought with the Hadley in mind.img_9115-1I also spent some time and money on finding some new PDF patterns with which to sew up some of the many yards of fabric that I already own. I was inspired by the #makeyourstash instagram challenge and am looking forward to learning new techniques from pattern designers who are new to me: Closet Case Patterns, True Bias Patterns and Tessuti Patterns in Australia (word to the wise, the exchange rate with Australia is very favorable if you live in the US. The two bottom rows are Tessuti patterns.)img_9088-1But with all that being said, I have done very little sewing and have just been reading, reading, reading all the month long. So many good books, most of them recommendations from this podcast and this bookstore.

I loved Heating and Cooling which is prose written by a poet. Beautiful, funny, spare. So good.

Educated is going to be the book everyone is reading, mark my words. It reminded me of The Glass Castle. I couldn’t put it down. Just read it.

I read Frances and Bernard, a beautifully written story told in letters that I learned about when it was recommended as a comp title to Fire Sermon, my January shelf subscription book. I loved Fire Sermon and really enjoyed listening to the Love it or Loathe It discussion  on the From the Front Porch podcast after I read it.

I read Prairie Fires, an extensively researched history of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. It was well written and compelling. The Little House books were the first chapter books I read to myself as a child and this brought all the details back to me and filled in many parts of her story.

Text Me When You Get Home was my February Shelf Subscription book.  I loved this exploration of female friendship. It is a book I might not have found on my own and I am so glad I read it.

I had never read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro and I found The Remains of the Day to be a beautifully written, understated, hauntingly sad book.

I found Forty Rooms again from the From the Front Porch podcast, (notice a theme?) where I find many of my books these days. It was the story of a woman’s life told as a series of stories and memories that take place in each of the rooms in which she has experienced significant events. It was an interesting premise and a good read. Another novel written by a poet, beautifully told.

I read this collection of short stories because I really enjoyed the writing in Fire Sermon and I liked these even better. The writing is beautiful and compelling and sometimes a little weird. I expect to read these again. I love Jamie Quatro’s writing. She also made me miss running which was a big part of my life up until a few years ago.

Stay with Me was beautifully written, gripping, drew me in, made me cry. Read it!

Priestdaddy. I didn’t know what to expect but I loved it. A poet writing a memoir. Hysterically funny, beautifully written, such a command of words. I will read this again. Not for everyone. A bit crass. But so good. Another great book recommended by From the Front Porch and another great Love it or Loathe it discussion.

Far from the Tree: a young adult novel that drew me in and kept me reading. I read it in a sitting. Loved it and highly recommend.img_9074

I had fun going to the new Brooklyn location of this independent bookstore this past  weekend where I picked up two new-to-me titles by Ali Smith, whose recent book Winter was really excellent. I also picked up 4321 which I had heard about and haven’t yet read, figuring that it is so long, I would never be able to read a library copy, and The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch, whose memoir The Chronology of Water was incredibly compelling and beautifully written and I am also (slowly) working my way through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci.

I read this cozy mystery which takes place in Maine.  I have enjoyed Sarah Graves’ mysteries for many years since Maine is basically my favorite place. It is a light read and I enjoyed the characters and the sense of place. img_9178

I am working my way through this collection of short stories which is my March short story collection (I am reading one each month in 2018.)img_9180

I read this novella which has sat on my book shelf for years. I am trying to work my way through the inventory of books I own but have not yet read. I enjoyed it and plan to read more of Michael Chabon’s books, one of which I already happen to own.img_9179

And I am listening to this mystery on audio book. The narrator for this series is spot on. So much fun, though a bit gory for anyone with a weak stomach. img_9181

Yesterday, I got my March Shelf Subscription book in the mail. I had hoped this would be the one because I loved Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty. So one of these days I will switch back to a bit more sewing and a bit less reading but I am loving reading all the books these days.

I will be linking up to Anne Bogel‘s Quick Lit, a wonderful monthly summary of new reads. Her podcast What Should I Read Next is a must-listen for me every Tuesday. So many fun guests and book suggestions. Highly recommended.

What are you reading and sewing these days? Only one more week until spring. I can’t wait!


Sewing with Knits for Little Ones

img_7799I went back to school in my 40’s to become a nurse practitioner. It was a long journey that included many detours, the most significant of which was taking a job as an inpatient oncology nurse. I started working as an RN  when I needed to support my family while still in school in my Masters’ program and have worked at the same hospital first part-time, then full-time, then part time for over ten and a half years.

There is much I could say and write about and may some day but one of the best things about working as a nurse in the inpatient setting was the opportunity to work so closely with and become friends with so many amazing women (and men, but mostly women) who do this incredibly hard work with so much love. I have had a lot of jobs but none with this level of camaraderie. The work is so intense and you rely on each other to such a great extent that you become family.

Emily and I started our nursing careers together. When I found out that she was having her first child, I got busy sewing.

I have made baby quilts as gifts but this little one already had several so I decided to try sewing a knit outfit. I was inspired by this one by Erin.  The pattern, by Rachel of Stitched Together is a free download. It is a straightforward pattern with clear instructions. I made a hat to go with it from the Green Bee Patterns Modern Baby Set. I want to sew the rest of the Green Bee layette garments when I have more time. They are so cute! But I thought the sleep sack would be great for easy diaper changes in those first few months when it feels as though that is all you are doing. I also hoped it would fit this little guy for a while. The fabric is from the Blake collection by Carolyn Friedlander. It is nice and soft and easy to work with. This was such a fun little sew. I am not yet a grandmother but plan to be ready when the time comes. This was entirely sewn on my regular sewing machine. One of my sewing resolutions is to spend some time getting acquainted and actually using my serger. I took a great class last year at The Cloth Pocket which I highly recommend but haven’t had the time to practice what I learned. This will be the year.

Some pictures of the project in process. img_7794

img_7793I love the knot at the top of the Green Bee hat.

And now for the baby pictures. I mean seriously can you stand how cute this little guy is?img_8451 Hat close-up.img_8449Working on baby planks here.img_8450 I am not yet a grandmother, but I plan to be ready when the day comes. img_8453Happy baby! img_8448 One yard of fabric. One afternoon. Go make some baby clothes friends. Instant happiness!


Nursebeansews 2017: Year-End Round Up

It is harder than usual for me to write my year end round up post because I have barely sewn since August and I miss it! But inspired by Helen to join Gillian’s #SewingTop5 post challenge, I am looking back over 2017 and seeing a lot of garments I sewed and wore and love. Five of my #BestNine Instagram posts this year were garments I sewed in 2017: A pair of Luna Pants made with a lightweight woven Ikat fabric and a Gemma Tank in white double gauze which are perfect together: Close-up of top below: The other three top five posts were dresses made with the Isla Pattern which is one of my most-sewn and is definitely my most-worn pattern this year. I made 9 versions this year! It was so exciting to have mastered sewing with knits.

Here are two favorites, the first with fabric by Maureen Cracknell: and this version in fabric by April Rhodes:and here is the Maxi version which is lovely to wear in the summer with sandals and in the fall with boots. If I had to choose, this would be my favorite make of 2017.I also made new versions of favorite TNT (tried and true) patterns. I made a new version of the Bianca Tunic in beautiful Loominous fabric: a new version of the Ruby blouse in a teal double gauze which became one of my most-worn garments, a new version of the Washi dress with a bow, using the Washi XP expansion pattern,  and some tunic length Gemma tanks which were perfect for summer. I sewed the Rumi tank, seen here with another Cleo skirt and then maxified it, which turned out to be a great success. The maxi dress was a surprise hit that I wore many times over the summer. It was the perfect traveling dress. I was a pattern tester for the first time and participated in a blog tour and Instagram showcase for the Made by Rae Cleo skirt and sewed many, many skirts. It was really fun to experiment with different colors and fabrics. Here is a favorite. All told, I sewed 40 garments, most of them, like this MBRx2 garment (pattern and fabric by Rae) I will continue to wear and enjoy.

It is really amazing to me that less than three years into my garment sewing journey, I have basically replaced most of my wardrobe with hand-sewn garments. I participated in Me Made May again this year and was able to post every day without repeating any outfits which is really amazing to me.

My biggest sewing accomplishment for 2017, however,  wasn’t a garment. Link here to read about the sewing project that took 20 years.

I am looking forward to sewing some new- to-me patterns in 2018 and plan to start off the year with the Blackwood Cardigan  and the Lander Pants which I think will be perfect together. I have seen so many great versions of both on Instagram where, by the way, you can now follow hashtags. The perfect way to get inspired. I also plan to finally sew the Hudson Pants and the Ogden Cami. I have a feeling that I won’t be able to sew just one.

Link here to my 2016 and 2015 year end posts and head over to Gillian’s blog to see all the other great SewingTop5 posts!

Wishing a wonderful new year and happy sewing to all in 2018!



Nursebean Reads 2017

This year I read a lot of books (76 to date) and many were really great but nothing touched this one which I read at the beginning of the year. I read it in a day and was so impressed by the writing and moved by the narrative. I understand it is also great on audio. I plan to re-read it soon. Just stunning.


I have tried to group the rest in order of awesomeness. These next six were beautifully written books that touched me emotionally, made me think and in some cases, made me laugh out loud. These were the books that really rose to the top for me. Goodbye Vitamin was probably my favorite but I loved them all.


This next group of nine were also really enjoyabe novels that ranged in themes and writing styles but all were stories I lost myself in and became very engaged by. Highly recommended.

More terrific reads below.  I enjoyed them all. My taste ranges from more literary fiction to smart chick-lit and all of these were good reads for me.

Memoir is one of my favorite genres and I read a wide variety this year, all of which I enjoyed. I re-read Travels with Charlie which I think is going to be a book I will return to again and again. 

I listened to All the Pretty Horses on audio and plan to re-read it this year. The writing is beautiful.

I read this book by Michael Lewis which I found fascinating.

And this excellent book of essays.


And I read some classics. These two stood out for me. I really enjoyed my first Henry James novel and I listened to Emma narrated by Juliet Stevenson. She is an excellent narrator and is helping me make my way through the classics. I am partway through Middlemarch which is also terrific but LONG. Finishing it will be a goal for 2018.



Right now I am 100 pages into this classic which I had never read but was inspired to read by one of our children who is reading it for school.

So far it is really enjoyable. Especially in this beautiful edition which I bought years ago at a bookstore in Maine.



There were several highly hyped books that I didn’t love. I think reading is so personal. I listened to fewer audio books this year than last as work was busier, although I highly recommend the Joshilyn Jackson books on audio. She is an actress as well as a writer and they were terrific.  I listened to more podcasts than books this year. I am loving From the Front Porch which is produced by The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia. Episode (#143) about the short story has inspired me to set a goal of reading one collection of short stories a month in 2018. It goes along with a goal I have to be a bit less rushed in my life.  We will see how I do with that one!

Here are the short story collections I plan to read.

I love that this came with the books I ordered for my 2018 reading challenge.


I find when I read short stories, there are more sentences that I want to underline so decided to buy the books in paperback (I usually read library books or buy them inexpensively when they are on sale for my kindle) but there is something so nice about talking to real people and getting a box of new books in the mail. I also bought myself a Shelf Subscription and am looking forward to a monthly surprise in the mail.

What did you read and love this year?




Summer Reads and Sews 2017

If there is anything better than a week at a cabin in Maine with a stack of books, I don’t know what it is. img_7448This September, I was lucky to be able to do just that. img_7392I did a bit of hiking and a bit of swimming and a lot of reading. img_7362After a crazy summer with a lot of weekends working, it was just what I needed. img_7420So beautiful! img_7407My happy place. img_7387Now I am in the thick of my crazy fall schedule during which I continue my 5 day a week full time Nurse Practitioner job, teach nursing students all day Saturday (6:30 AM to 6 PM) for the 12 week fall term and work a couple a of 12 hour shifts a month (on Sundays) at my second job as an inpatient oncology nurse. Phew. I am tired just writing this. So no sewing is happening now. But I find that reading for fun is the one thing I have energy for during this busy season and quiet reading is the perfect antidote to stressful days. I have not read as many books as last year (this time last year I had read almost 100 books) but I have read some really good ones in the last few months so am sharing those and a late summer sewing project that I really enjoyed.

Here are the books.

The Interpreter of Maladies. I was late to the party reading this. I got it as an inexpensive kindle deal (I subscribe the MMD daily email and have gotten tons of great books very inexpensively, highly recommend.) The characters were well-drawn and the stories engaging. The writing is beautiful. Loved it.

The Bright Hour is amazing. Beautiful, beautifully written, funny, heartbreaking. One of my favorite reads this year not to be missed.


I am a huge fan of Catherine Newman’s books, blog and recipes. This is a middle school reader kids’ book that this middle aged mom loved. I read it on a plane ride home from Denver and it was perfect. Highly recommend for all ages and especially for fans of Ikea and this book (which was one of my favorite childhood books given to me by one of my favorite Aunts; lucky me I have 6: Aunts not books).

I really enjoyed the next book which takes place in New York City during the 2008 financial crisis and shows the impact of that event on an Upper East side family and the  immigrant family  that depend on them for their livelihood. I lived in New York for many years and so really enjoyed the setting and came to care for the characters. Well written, compelling. Highly recommend.

The Enchanted April is an older book that I had heard about and I am pretty sure that there is at least one movie based on the book. I also got this from the MMD kindle deal email quite a while ago but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. It was delightful. The setting (Italy) was lovely, I enjoyed the characters and the writing. A perfect escapist, gentle book. Highly recommend.

I read The Age of Miracles because of a WSIRN recommendation. I happened upon it at the library and really enjoyed it. It is set in the future and describes an environmental crisis and repercussions that play out over time as told through a teenage girl and boy’s experiences. It was compelling. The story and the writing drew me in. Highly recommend.


Dreamland Burning was also a MMD recommendation. Though technically a young adult book, I really enjoyed the story, characters and setting. Both of these books were quick reads that drew me into the narrative which is often just what I need.


I love Jan Karon’s Milford series. I read all of them years ago and recently dipped back in to some of the newer titles when I saw this one last year at the library. Like meeting up with an old friend. I love escaping into her stories.


This has been on my to read list for several years. I have been a big fan of Roz Chast’s cartoons for years and this didn’t disappoint. Just read it.


I loved Hourglass. The writing was so beautifully crafted. The way she wove the story. Loved it. I now want to go back and read her other work. Highly recommend.


This was our book club’s book for October and it was fantastic. It is a satire, it deals in such an interesting way with issues of race and culture and it had me looking up tons of cultural references so that I could really understand it. It will make you laugh and cringe and think really hard about some tough issues. Such a creative piece of writing. Highly recommend.


I listened to this classic on audio and will definitely go back and re-read it for all of the beautiful writing. I have plans to read the rest of his books in the new year when my schedule eases up.

I am a big Louise Penny fan so I downloaded her latest book the day it came out. Enough said. If you don’t know this series, check them out. They are terrific.

I learned about this one from Tsh whose podcast The Simple Show is one of the four I never miss (the other three are this one, this one and this one.) I really enjoyed reading this book by a British author who moves to Denmark for a year when her husband gets a job at Lego. So much fun to read and really interesting to learn more about what living in a Scandinavian country is like. ( I have never been to Scandinavia but it is on my list of places I would love to go.) A lot of fun and the perfect cozy winter read.

Again an inexpensive kindle purchase, I got this title from the MMD Summer Reading Guide. I know that there are mixed reviews but I enjoyed it more than I expected to. It is not great literature but it is a good escapist book with a bit of a mystery and a twist. It kept me reading.

And this is what I am reading now in these crazy stressful days. It is perfect. Small doses of quiet, intelligent, thoughtful observations. I know I will come back to them again and again.


I did sew one thing in August which ended being the perfect thing for my travels: a maxified version of the Christine Haynes Rumi tank that I cut out pretty much free form by extending the line of the tank top pattern piece down the full length of the two yard piece of teal knit fabric that I learned about from Erin. Here is my tank version in the same terrific knit in black. I cut a straight 10 but then shortened the straps so that it wouldn’t be too low cut.img_6468

Back view: img_6471You can see the tank as worn in my Cleo post. I will be making it again and have navy fabric already purchased and ready to go for next summer. It is also the perfect handmade yoga top.

After cutting and sewing I ended up trimming the width of the maxi version a bit here and there because it was wider than it needed to be. It was not a very scientific process, I just sewed a second seam inside the first side seam that I sewed and then cut off the excess. img_7287I didn’t hem it and I like it better un-hemmed. I was happy enough with the dress but wasn’t in love with it until I went shopping in my closet and found this orangey cardigan which goes perfectly with the teal. img_7280Amiright? Now I love it.img_7279I wore this combination all through the month of September and I can’t wait to make more versions but they will have to wait for spring. I do have plans to sew one project later this month though. A dear friend had a much waited for baby boy so I have a couple of knits washed and ready to go to sew this (I am linking again to Erin whose projects always inspire me.) I can’t wait to have  a free day to sew them up. Meanwhile I am enjoying wearing the many garments I have sewn over the past almost three years and planning spring sewing projects and more Maine getaways.img_7435

What are you sewing and reading lately?


Nursebean Reads: March 2017

Still sewing more and reading less but I loved Jayber Crow (Modern Mrs. Darcy recommendation,) Paradise Lodge (Ben and Birdy recommendation,) Emma on audiobook with a great narrator (a kindle deal again today-thanks @annebogel !) and The Dry (WSIRN podcast recommendation) which was a fast read. I listened to The Things They Carried. An important book but oh so tough to listen to.  

What have you been reading and loving?