If you sew, you know that September is National Sewing Month - for me, probably the most inspirational month of the year! My personal schedule has become so hectic over the past few years that it's very hard to find time to sew. However, during September, I always manage to squeak out a few garments.

House of Pinheiro is hosting this month's #sewphotohop on Instagram and I've been trying to follow along as faithfully as possible. It's awesome to connect with other talented women (and men!) who love to sew as much as I do. Here is an overview of the daily photo challenge:

So, in a fit of inspired creative energy, I plopped down last weekend and set to work on Simplicity 1104. This is a perfect dress for spring and summer. Pair it with a jacket and pair of boots and it's perfect for fall and winter, too!!

This wins the award for the easiest, most drama-free sewing project I've ever undertaken. It came together beautifully from cutting out the pattern pieces to adding the finishing touches. Good for me - maybe not so good for blogging... the disasters make for much better stories!

I chose a graphic scuba knit for this project and it proved to be the perfect fabric for this garment, especially considering the alterations that I made.

Because I was using the heavy knit, I eliminated the lining and the zipper. Or, maybe I did that because I'm just lazy... Either way, it worked out great!

There's always a downside, though, right? Despite the ease of the process, my personal measurements were WAY off. Despite taking it all in a few inches on either side, the finished garment is still too big. Not bad enough to scrap. Thank goodness.

The best part about finishing this project was having just enough fabric to make a rockin' pair of leggings, too. I have NEVER made pants, but these came out beautifully!! I didn't have them ready in time to take photos, so I'll catch you up on those later.

By the way, my oldest son was sweet enough to take these photos for me - and he did a pretty good job!! There were a lot of distractions to contend with...


Life with boys... gotta love it!

Oh my goodness, y'all. I put my midriff out there for you and held my breath. Thank you so much for the questions and comments that you've forwarded my way! I've had lot of questions about the food plan, which is also the #1 topic that my friends have approached me with.

So, there is no great secret here. Portion control and clean eating are key. The advantage of this plan is that the authors have laid out a solid 28-day schedule of food and exercise for you. You don't have to think about a thing! And the recipes are really, really delicious. Here are a few of my family's favorites (no time for food styling!):

Doughettes... just like eating cookie dough. Peanut butter, dark chocolate, oatmeal... gah!!! I want to eat them all.

Fitnana Split, plus dark chocolate granola...

Brunch for dinner...

Sushi Undressed...

So, you may be thinking, "That's a lot of kale, Rachel. Um, no, thank you!"

Three-fourths of my family happens to like kale, but you could sub it out for whatever green works for you. All of the recipes are customizable based on your preferences. Don't let ingredients hold you back.

This is where the Instagram community shines. It's inspiring to see how the women in my "tribe" customize their menus to their tastes. I have a lot of "ah-ha" moments.

One major advantage to clean eating is the amount of time you save in the grocery store. You spend so much less time on the aisles because your best food comes from the perimeter of the store - dairy, meats, produce... I'd never thought about before. I've always hated grocery shopping, but I find that I don't mind it as much anymore. I feel good about what I'm loading up my cart with.

One more accolade - the food is so good that my parents wanted in. So, I prep their lunches with my own 5 days a week. They were grabbing takeout most of the time and this one small change has made a huge difference. My mother told me recently that she's lost 8 pounds! Just from eating the lunch I'm packing her... how crazy is that?

Fit Girls Guide offers a free app that includes their entire 28-day exercise plan and sample recipes for you to check out. No reason not to download that immediately.

Again, I'm not affiliated with Fit Girls Guide. I have nothing to gain by sharing my experience. I just hope that the right person might be inspired at the right time to take control of their health and that he or she will have the same awesome experience that I've had so far.

Next, I want to tell you about the running. Ahhhhh!!!! The running story is awesome!!!

Like the genre of this blog, I've always considered myself a work in progress. Never satisfied my current state. Be kinder. More attentive. Less distracted. Healthier...

My health has declined in unexpected ways over the past few years. Nothing life threatening, but in ways that have affected my outlook and spirit. The doctors blame it all on stress.


Well, that's not going away anytime soon so... what's a gal to do?

I decided last summer that I really, really needed to start taking better care of my body. Garbage in, garbage out. Laziness yields more laziness. I could go on forever.

I thought I was watching what I ate. I joined a gym. I began **trying** to run with my husband a few times a week. We'd head down to our neighborhood track. I'd run a lap, then walk a lap, run, then walk. It was pretty monotonous and I felt like I was just as lethargic as ever. I just wasn't getting anywhere.

(Running is an important part of this story, but I'll return to that in a following post.)

In January, I was introduced by a small, targeted Instagram post to Fit Girls Guide. I didn't know that in that moment, my life would change. I spent some time exploring the online Fit Girls community and I was so inspired. I felt so hopeful that real health change could happen in my own life.

I took the $20 plunge and downloaded their 28-Day Jumpstart book and prepared to join in the next group challenge. But I really had no high expectations.

Before I tell you more about this amazing, life-changing plan, let me be clear - I am not selling anything... I have absolutely nothing to gain from sharing this story. I am not affiliated with Fit Girls Guide at all.

I am simply a girl who has come face-to-face with her rock bottom and has finally taken control of her health. I'm inspired!! I'm healthy!! And, I hope that the right person reads this and leaves inspired, too.

Here was my monthly progress over the course of five months:

And a side-by-side comparison:

The 28-Day Jumpstart is a guide, delivered as an e-book, that lays out an entire eating and exercise plan for four weeks. Fit Girls Guide encourages its participants to start each 28-day challenge with the international community that they have cultivated via Instagram. This helps to provide daily support from among other women (and men) who are going through this shared experience. It's actually more effective and inspirational than you could imagine.

The plan is easy. It's fun. It's silly. Obviously, it's rewarding. The hardest part is mustering your personal commitment to see it through. You definitely get out of it what you put in.

I knew I could stick to any personal commitment for 28 days. Beyond that, I was unsure.

That was 205 days ago. And, I'm still feelin' the love.

Beyond the physical transformation, I have a mental clarity that had been missing for some time. My relationship with food and exercise has changed. Between all of my work and life demands, I'm busier than ever, but the stress has not impacted my well-being.

It's kinda awesome.

So. I have a few more health-related posts that I'd like to share with you, but - never fear - this will not turn into a health-focused blog. Please bear with me as I fill a few pages with my overflowing enthusiasm.

And, then a return to all things creative. Hopefully a little bit more than you've seen from me in the past few months.

Maybe a sprinkle of healthy nuggets here and there... but mostly sewing, knitting, crafting, DIY home projects, etc... promise.

Have a great weekend ahead!!

This pattern holds a special place in my heart. When I was pregnant with my second child, I desperately wanted to sew maternity clothes, but my options at that time were so limited! I was thinking about the different shapes of the patterns that I owned and how awesome it would be if pattern makers would throw in an option to convert their patterns for maternity wear.

Seems simple enough, right?

In a fit of hormonal confidence, I took my idea to Amy Butler Design. Rather than ignoring my suggestion, someone actually took the time to respond! I was bowled over! Not only that, the sweet girl thanked me for my suggestion by sending me a new pattern of my choice.

I chose the Liverpool.

That was more than 6 years ago and this pattern has been patiently waiting for my attention. After pinning this great dress from LL Bean, I had my inspiration to make it all happen.

And here's the end result!

All in all, this was a super easy pattern to make. No drama. No tantrums. Just a few sessions of really enjoyable sewing.

And, cotton is such a dream to work with, isn't it? 

My only trouble came with the collar (I sewed it on backward) and the collar stand, which was just tough to finish cleanly. I kept trimming bulk from the seams and eventually made it work.

One major bonus with the gingham print is its amazing ability to disguise errors. There are plenty among those tiny little checks. But that's okay! Have you ever closely examined your ready-to-wear, off-the-rack garments? They have errors, too!

I really, really love this dress. Clearly, I need to do a little better with my styling, but that's not going to stop me from wearing it. I also plan to make this one again. It's such a great wardrobe addition! I highly recommend this pattern.

Can I just say how awkward it is to take photos of yourself? I'm just plain embarrassed to set up my camera and make goofy poses in hopes that SOMETHING works. Geez.

Bonus! I had enough of the buffalo check left over to make a sweet little pair of shorts. I chose Simplicity 1373 for those. 

Not quit ready to model them, though. Another post for another day... maybe...


As always, it feels amazing to start and complete a project like this. Let me know if you have any questions about this pattern. I'm happy to help.

Happy sewing!!

I don't think I will ever understand the game of football. Other than the really important plays, like running the field, kicking a goal, or scoring a touchdown, the rest is just confusing noise. My apathy for the game has always bothered my husband (as someone who takes every-single-play very personally). Imagine his delight when I began my most recent major knitting project - Michelle Hunter's Scoreboard Scarf.

Participating in this nationwide "knit along" meant that I had to stay on top of the weekly scores for my team, which also meant multiple conversations about football - or "teaching" moments - with my husband. Seriously. He was giddy.

The idea behind this scarf was just plain fun - for every point that your team scored, you knit a row in one spirit color. For every point the opposing team scored, you knit a row in a contrasting spirit color. For example:

1 touchdown + good kick = 7 rows
1 field goal  = 3 rows
1 kick-their-butts-no-one-else-even-came-close-to-scoring game = 52 rows

I divided each game with a row of purling and alternated between black and gray for the opposing teams to break up the Halloween vibe.

By the end of the season, you have a wearable document of the scoring plays.

I knew I had to make this for my best friend, Kellie, for Christmas. We both bleed orange and black for our Mercer Bears, but she's the one dedicated to sitting through cruddy weather to cheer them on. Not me. I've had my lifetime's share of bad weather in the past 3 years. Reserve for me a permanent seat in a warm, dry environment.

So, I started this scarf at the beginning of football season and wrapped it up at the 11th hour, just before Christmas. There was A LOT of knitting, knitting, knitting... and with game scores of 52-0, there was a lot of monotonous knitting.

Look at all of that orange! Go Bears!!

I'm so pleased with the outcome (not so much with these pictures), but I'm not anxious to do this again for a long time. In the words of Squints from "The Sandlot," this project took...

It's not too late to knit your own scoreboard scarf! Just head over to the Scoreboard Knit Along site for the pattern and your team's website for the season's scores and knit away! If you need help deciphering those box score summaries, just give me a holler. I'm an expert now.