weekend links: erica edition

Liesl is taking this week off from writing her usual Friday Weekend Links post. But don’t fear. Our Liesl + Co. Advisors Circle member Erica is here again to fill up your tank with some good reading material for the weekend.

Hello, friends of Liesl. What a pleasure and honor to say hello to you again!

As an American now living in Canada, I’m still adjusting to a summer break for my children which is shorter than what I am used to from my own childhood in California. This year I set aside the fabric and had plans to make several summer outfits for my school-age children, but the nine weeks flew by too quickly. I only made School Bus and Field Trip Raglan t-shirts, a pair of Art Museum shorts for my eldest son (when he needed a pair of golf shorts and I couldn’t find one to purchase in his size), Girl on the Go and Hopscotch knit dresses for nieces, and I’m still working on a first day of school outfit for my daughter—only one more weekend left to finish it!

Have you started to think about Halloween costumes, yet? We’re not the most festive family on the block for this particular holiday, but I try to participate. It is always a compromise with my kids deciding between what can be homemade vs. store-bought vs. re-worn, or just plain foregone, as well as what would be practical for a potentially chilly and rainy night. To my disappointment, some of what I think have been my best ideas were not well received by my kids, so they never came to fruition. I still hold out hope that one year they might come around to a few previously vetoed ideas! The Building Block Dress Book can be so useful for costume dresses, but this is still the most memorable transformation I’ve seen from an O + S pattern:

And, who can forget this impressive one?

I’m looking forward to sewing with wool and wool-blends in the coming months. I’m planning to make an Extra-Sharp Pencil Skirt in a lightweight wool coating, and either a Recital Shirt or Gallery Tunic (or both, I hope!) from my favorite wool-cotton blends. I find this type of shirting fabric is lovely to work with and even more enjoyable to wear.

Pinterest Picks

Last fall I purchased half a cow with a neighbor from our local butcher. If only I could have as much success whittling down my fabric stash as I have my freezer stash of beef! We enjoyed the taste and quality of grass-fed beef all year long. But what should I do with a large bag of frozen suet fat? I’ve started to research homemade soap recipes. Who was the genius who figured out that combining fat and lye into a solid bar can clean stuff? These bars of homemade soap would be wonderful gifts.


link and link

This photo of a shoe popped into my e-mail inbox recently. It made me wonder if I like shirring more than I thought, and my head started swirling with visions of solid-colored tulle, underlining, and Lisette for Butterick B6598.

link and link

My tween daughter, too, would probably enjoy some gathers in her wardrobe. This would be a quick modification to a long-sleeve Field Trip Raglan t-shirt and a great use for a remnant panel of cotton lawn.

Weekend Reading

  • Does anyone else have an overflowing container of plastic bags under the kitchen sink?
  • Can we agree that regular, sustained devotion to sewing or any other kind of “making” might be a better idea than a mid-life crisis?
  • For those with tightly scheduled lives, or those who like to pull in a passion project’s completion time, this might be an alternative to the slow and steady approach to a hobby.
  • On color.
  • A reminder that I can try harder to make better shopping choices for the people and places I might never encounter.
  • Did you watch the TV series, The Great British Sewing Bee? One of the show’s judges recently launched a new clothing line. I applaud his efforts.

Fall (transitional weather) and the start of a new school year is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. I hope you are planning some wonderful sewing projects for the season. I am looking forward also to Liesl’s new fall patterns!




  1. Ha ha, well that was a blast from the past! My son was riding his first bicycle – he is now on his sixth! We still have the costume and I’ve no idea what to do with it….
    Liesl’s costume was mind blowing and the best dressed IKEA dog ever! 🙂
    I’ve been using tote bags at the market and supermarket for more than 15 years now and the occasional plastic bag would be used to line my kitchen bin. Many supermarkets are now phasing out single use plastic bags altogether, which is long overdue, and great, but there’s no way on earth I’m going to purchase single use plastic bags just to line the bin…. We’re all wondering what to do when the stash of bags under the kitchen sink is depleted…..(newspaper is the winning choice at the moment as I still love a physical broadsheet paper with my weekend breakfast)

    1. Erica

      I surely have some plastic bags that are older than my tween child, as that container under the sink has moved to at least 2 different homes with us!
      My husband can’t understand why we still receive a hard copy of the Sunday New York Times when we subscribe to it digitally. (“Can’t you just read it on a device?”) But, Sunday broadsheet + morning coffee = bliss!

      1. liz n.

        I will never give up the Sundy NYT crossword in all its newsprint glory.


  2. J Scott

    Suet = puddings surely? Christmas pud for sure, but maybe suet pastry ones too?

    1. Erica

      hmmm… suet pastry. That’s a good idea! Thank you!

  3. Erica, I dabbled in soap-making a few years ago and loved it! Very exciting to experiment with all the possible essential oils and colors that can be added. My favorite was a recreation of Lush’s Sea Vegetable soap (lime + lavender). Have fun with it! And thanks for the great post. xo

    1. frances

      If soap doesn’t work out, there’s suet in many of Paul Hollywood’s pastry recipes, if that’s your cup of short’ning.

      Still more glamxploitation: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/sep/02/academic-exposing-ugly-reality-high-fashion-giulia-mensitieri

      1. Erica

        Thank you, Frances. I will look up those recipes!

        And, thank you for sharing the article. Straight out of university, I too worked in an industry which at quick glance seemed glamorous and exciting, but the financial reality was generally untenable. I didn’t stay long… but I learned life lessons and had the most expertly tailored clothes of my life during those years. I wish that anthropologist well in her quest to make her studies relevant.

    2. Erica

      Thank you, Liesl! It was a joy to pull together some thoughts and articles in an organized but casual way! I really do not need another hobby, but the more I look into soap-making, the more I want to try different recipes. Lime and lavender sound wonderful. I’d also like to know more about “stain-removing” soaps. I’ve purchased some quite effective “natural” laundry bar soaps in the past that are just as effective in removing stains as commercial sprays/gels. If I already have the ingredients at home, I wonder if I can make them while I’m dabbling in more fun bath soaps…

  4. Holly Dumont

    Love the clothing that you can buy over and over again. It is like sewing my favorite patterns. My spouse and I take make cations. In August we did a Japanese textile class with John Marshall of Covelo. We followed it up with a shibori class in San Jose. So much fun. And it became instantly useful when the dye ran on my DMC silk embroidered shirt. Now it’s indigo, and the running dye doesn’t spoil it. I am looking forward to dyeing some of my out of date fabric to something more aesthetically pleasing.

  5. Erica

    I can imagine that you are using natural fibers, so the colors must be wonderfully saturated. How beautiful to continue to use (and uplift) materials that you already love.

  6. Jenny

    We struggle with Halloween here. We can get a balmy 65 degree night, or freezing rain, or snow. We live on the US -Canadian border. The October weather is the most predictable. The problem for us is we can’t plan too far in advance, which is why we often do some last minute combo of found and purchased items. Also, we would need two costumes- one for a heated school and one for a freezing evening.

    I always envy you that can predict your weather well enough to plan and make a costume.

    Although that cartwheel dress with appliques can become an easy Ms. Frizzle dress.

    1. Erica

      I like your Ms. Frizzle idea!

      I can’t rely on our weather forecast even 24 hours in advance. I plan for all Halloween costumes to have enough ease that we can squeeze a thin coat or at least thermals underneath. It’s too disappointing to spend hours making a costume just to have it covered by a rain parka!

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