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?


Nursebean Reads: February 2017

I have been doing more sewing, less reading but loved the new book from Laurie Frankel which I found through Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Anne Bogel-she is right- don’t read anything about it just pick up the book and read it. I loved the writing and the characters and the author’s very personal viewpoint on the subject matter. After reading the book, I read the Modern Love piece she wrote about her own experience which is worth a read but read the book first. I also really appreciated Deep Work-another MMD recommendation- and am currently working on implementing some of the suggestions into my life. I listened to a great audio version of Persuasion and finally finished Gilead which I had started and never finished many times. I loved it but I think I loved Lila more. A big goal for me this year is to read more classics and more books I already own so I am glad to be making progress on those fronts. What are you reading and loving?


Nursebean Reads: Summer Reading 2016

I had planned to spend August reading the classics. I started out with the best of intentions and as luck would have it, Audible had this amazing version of Anna Karenina on $2 sale right at the beginning of August so I snatched it up and started listening.  img_3414And I am still listening 5 weeks later. I am definitely enjoying it but am still only about 60% of the way through. What I found as I listened was that I needed something other than a classic to read when I wasn’t listening to Anna Karenina. And I also found that I needed something a bit lighter to alternate with Anna Karenina in my listening queue. So much for power reading the classics! I have read more this year than any before (94 books to date) and I think one of the reasons why I have been able to read so much is that I alternate different types of books so I don’t get bored. So while I have been working my way through AK, here are the other books I read in August. These newer books by some favorite authors:

Truly Madly Guilty was a bit tough going in the beginning. There is a lengthy foreshadowing of something that you don’t find out until well into the book and many of the characters were not initially very likable. I was becoming quite impatient with the author but eventually did like the book and the way the author resolved the story and was glad I stuck with it. The new Louise Penny was a fast read. I love her books for the setting and the characters as much as for the stories. She doesn’t disappoint. I started reading the Lucy Burdette light and fluffy murder mysteries set in Key West when my daughter lived briefly in Florida. They are fun to read, the protagonist is likable, the setting is fun and they don’t require any major thinking on my part. Just the thing! I also read two more books that are over 50 years old so I would count those as classics.

Although not fiction, I loved Travels with Charley which takes place in 1961, the year I was born, and is the story of a trip Steinbeck took across America accompanied by his poodle. It was eerie how Steinbeck’s reflections predict the future-his musings on the ways that the telephone is changing life as he knows it-amazing. Also interesting to read his first hand accounts on tensions in the South at that time and hard to think about how many things have not changed given all the tension in our country now. I also really liked reading this just after reading this book and this book which were also set in the early 1960’s. Both are set in small mill towns in Maine so it was interesting to read about Steinbeck traveling though mill towns that had been described in both the fictionalized world depicted by Stephen King and the wonderful memoir of Mexico, Maine by Monica Wood.  I really enjoyed both of those books this year and highly recommend them. I had never read The House of Mirth and I am glad I did although I was a bit disappointed by some aspects of the story. I won’t say more so as not to spoil it for those of you who may be planning to read it. It was a relatively fast read. The story and the writing were engaging. I alternated my listening with these two children’s classics.

Both were fabulous. The Wind in the Willows narrated by Michael Holdern is Sooo good. Again, I managed to get it for $2 I believe. Very much worth a listen if you have a chance. I had forgotten how wonderful the writing is and the narrator is wonderful. I have been slowly working my way through Harry Potter on audio and the third book came up in my library queue so I made time for it. Very fun. Finally, I read this sci-fi book. I enjoyed it but not as much as this one which I have recommended to everyone. I am not sure if I will go on to read the next books in the series but it was entertaining. and different from my typical reads. img_3407

Lastly, I finished this book of essays by Annie Dillard whose work I had never read prior to this year. I loved some of the essays and found others hard going but will return to her writing. Beautiful descriptions of the natural world.img_3409

I am going to plan to continue to alternate classics and contemporary fiction which seems to work better for me than a diet of all classics but right now I am loving this work of non-fiction by an amazing author. It will definitely keep me occupied for a while. What did you love this summer?