black and white fabrics by jennifer sampou

I made a realization recently. For the past few years (OK, more than a few years–pretty much since I started this little company) I’ve been wishing I could slow things down a bit and not have so many projects going all the time. Sometimes I’ve gotten frustrated because there are so many things I want to do, so many ideas Todd and I have, and there just is not enough time to do them all. I say no to a lot of opportunities and ideas and still often feel like I’m torn in multiple directions. Part of me wishes I could work on just one project at a time the way most people think that creative people work. The way I had always dreamed of working.

My realization had a few components. First, I finally recognized that very few creative people actually have the luxury of time. There will always be a deadline–or, more realistically, multiple deadlines–putting stress on you. Especially if you’re supporting a family like our business does. I also realized that this is very much a life stage. Before I started this business, back when Todd and I were working for other companies and before we had a child, we were busy. But certainly not this busy. Being a wife, a mother, part of a community, and a business owner takes a lot of energy and time. My life is incredibly scheduled and will probably get busier (can it possibly?!) as S gets older and as our parents start to age. But it won’t last forever. I have a feeling you know exactly what I’m talking about, especially if you have kids.

But more importantly, I realized that I don’t want it to slow down right now. Yes, I could take on fewer projects at work. I could design just one line of sewing patterns instead of designing for four different brands. I could stop doing fabric design. I could say no to projects I love, like teaching. But that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun! I really enjoy dreaming up all these styles and designs, I love bringing them to life and working with our little team to make them. And I love wearing different hats.

So instead of feeling overwhelmed, I’m changing my perspective and focusing on embracing the chaos in all its forms. I’ll still have to say no to a lot of things. And sometimes I’ll still wish I could slow things down a bit. S is almost 10, and I often wish I could just stop time and keep her this age.

But since I can’t stop time, I’m taking a different approach. This year S and I started taking violin lessons together. And we’re both taking ballet (but not together) and spending a lot of time at the ballet: New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, whatever strikes our fancy. And we love it! I’ve decided to work on building memories and cramming as much into our time together as I possibly can.

And I’m going to approach the rest of my time the same way: put as much energy as I have into everything I do, because I love what I do. I love my work, I love my hobbies, I love doing things with my family and friends and squeezing just as much into the calendar as possible. There will be days when I’ll crash and not have the energy to do anything at all, but the rest of the time I’m going to give it everything I have.






These photos were taken during one of our very full Saturdays: ballet class, a quick lunch, and a matinee at the ballet with a stop at the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center before the afternoon’s performance. I had never been to this library before, and it’s amazing! Rows and rows of music CDs, more rows and rows of sheet music (we found sheet music by Barry Gibb, heavy metal, you name it), biographies about every performer you could imagine. What a treat!

The dress that S is wearing in these photos (this is what this blog post is actually about, for those of you who are still with me) is made with fabric from Jennifer Sampou’s black and white fabric collection for Robert Kaufman. When I met Jennifer at Quilt Market last fall we immediately hit it off. We have lots in common (including both being FIT graduates as well as both being really, really busy), and it instantly felt to me as though we had known each other for ages.

At Market, Jennifer was embroidering the feathers on one of the fabrics from her collection, and I was so smitten by her work that I decided to do a little embroidery myself. I chose the printed prism from her collection and did some colorful satin stitches on a few facets of the prisms. S chose the floss colors, and we agreed I would make her a Hide-and-Seek Dress. I also selected one of the yarn dyed fabrics from Jennifer’s Studio Stash yarn dye collection, and after I cut out the pieces for the dress I machine stitched rows of colorful threads along some of the grid lines of the fabric. So while this dress is still black and white, it also has some brilliant color if you look closely.






I suppose I could draw some nice conclusion about black and white and brilliant color here, but I think I’ll just leave it at that and let you look at the photos. After all, you’ve read enough already!

The fabric itself? You can see the entire collection here and here. I love the hand. The yarn dye, in particular, is wonderful. It’s substantial in a way that’s difficult to describe. I love a good black and white palette. In the fashion world, black and white is called a palette cleanser because it looks great with everything. And the fabrics are in stores now.

Jennifer is giving away a fat quarter tower of the complete collection on her blog (enter before February 8th). If you’d like to see what other people have done with Jennifer’s fabrics, you can check these posts from her blog tour.

By the way, if you’d like to try satin stitch for yourself, I like to backstitch around the shape first and then satin stitch over it like this illustration from Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book.
satin stitch




  1. Michele Timms

    Ooooh! I love S’s dress and the pop of colour in the black & white fabric is so cool!!

  2. Nancy

    This is a wonderful little dress. I like the way you added subtle color to the palette in very simple ways. Gives me ideas to use in my own garment making. I once had a copy of Erica Wilson’s book and must excavate some bookcases to see if I still have it. Thanks so much for the ideas.

  3. Kathie L

    I love the design and the zing of colored embroidery.

  4. Allison

    The dress and the model are very cute!!!

  5. LINDA

    HI, just a lovely outfit! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Debby E

    This dress is adorable – and I love the little splashes of color – perfect! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. What a fantastic, insightful, and very honest post. I can relate to everything here. My kid’s been taking Tae Kwon Do and we’ve been struggling to make it to class 3x a week, especially in the face of very little motivation and very little communication from her school. We decided last week that she’s given it a really good shot, switching to a different physical activity like dance would be very little trouble, and it might be more fun for all of us. Do you wish there were parent/child classes for older kids? I feel it’s so good for both of us when we learn together.

  8. Lisa Marie

    Love the pops of color on the black and white!

  9. MoeWest

    Adding the pops of colour looks wonderful on this dress!

  10. Mary Wilson

    Keep this attitude the rest of your life. As S transitions to adulthood you both will likely continue to seek out time to be who you are and provide that spark of color we all need in a black and white world.

  11. I thought the colored lines in the fabric came printed on it, but you sewed them – very clever!

  12. Rosalind Gutierrez

    Adorable daughter and dress by mom.

  13. Janet T

    Cute dress (and young lady wearing it.)

  14. Balance is so hard! I just had a moment of frustration when I was inputting my middle child’s volleyball schedule onto our calendar. Multiple weekend days are now double and triple booked….and my kids don’t do a huge amount of activities! I don’t know how people do it, with kids in more than one sport or art.

    Love the pops of colour on those black and whites. Sounds like you and S are having a great time doing fun things together.

  15. Joyce Carter

    Not only do I love the pattern you used for the dress, but I love the pop of color you added. It is so beautiful and you have a gorgeous model to go with it. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Linda Webster

    I love the addition of the bright colours in the dress!

  17. Pam S

    What a beautiful use of this fabric! And a beautiful model for the dress! Thanks for sharing. And thanks for your great post. I love the idea of embracing chaos.

  18. mc

    Goodness, she is so wonderful in every way a girl her age should be! I have a real affection for neutrals with pops of color. I must dust off my factory creased copy of this pattern!

    As much as I think I would like it otherwise, aren’t we all really most productive and most happy when days are full and minds are challenged.

  19. Debbie Rogowski

    I love love what you have done with a simple dress. She’s gorgeous too 🙂

  20. I love your story and your own change in attitude about your schedule – isn’t it fun to realize our kids are now the age where doing these sorts of things together is really great? It’s so easy to get stuck in “take care of them” mode. For me anyway. But getting out and experiencing a new thing together seems like the best.

    And I love this dress!!

  21. Chris

    I really like it. It made the dress!

  22. The splashes of color makes this dress perfect!

  23. María San Román

    Mmmm…. Embracing chaos… I have to think about it! I DO have chaos, now all I have to do is embrace it!!!

  24. patty

    Cute dress!

  25. Very nice dress looks like she can run jump play …….love the color ty for shatring

  26. Deb

    Great pictures and cutest little girl!

  27. I can relate to most of your busy life thoughts on your post. One definitely needs to take advantage of everything that is going on around her before it is too late.
    S looks lovely in her fashionable version of the hide and seek.

  28. Diane Beavers

    Hi Liesl:)
    Like you I love a great black and white collection, so classy and Jennifer’s is definitely IT!
    Thanks for the satin stitch embroidery tute…It’s been ages since I’ve done any so I needed that:) Embroidery over the feathers print is my goal, making a Peplum style top for me. Thank you for your inspiration, it’s contagious!

  29. Mary Ann Wilson

    So true! Sometimes I need a reminder of how much the little bits of hand embroidery can make a fabric and /or creation pop! Keep Creative

  30. Lee

    Pretty! I love the dress!

  31. Nicole Sender

    I love the dress!

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