Warning- this is a long post. If you want to skip over my experiences with COVID-19 isolation and get right to the sewing, I won’t blame you- but I couldn’t keep this blog real without sharing how we have been doing personally during this crisis.
Its been a few weeks since my last post, and though I’ve been sewing in spurts here and there, I haven’t had the time, energy or ability to put my thoughts and efforts into words in this place. At a time when everyone seemed to be turning to social media to “socialize” while adhering to social distancing guidelines, I felt the strong need to turn to the concrete, the tangible- and to cope with the pandemic by focusing on what should (but doesn’t always) come first- family.
Since I can’t really separate my sewing life from my “real” life, here’s a brief summary of how that’s gone down over the past 3 weeks that we’ve been in total isolation. By total isolation, I mean that I don’t even go out for groceries, medications or work- and that we have no face to face, in person contact with anyone outside of our little family of 5 for 24 days at this point.
Social Distancing: Extreme Edition
This was an exceedingly hard decision, but one that we felt very strongly about, having several underlying conditions in our family that warrant extra consideration. Long before our Governor announced the “shelter in place” order, we were pulling kids from activities, bringing our work home, and learning how to shop virtually at Costco. This was especially challenging given the fact that our home was about to close escrow, and we had not created firm plans for where we were going to live after our “rent back” period was up.
The first few days felt a little like a vacation- we let school go a bit, we went for a picnic, and relaxed into a new perspective on the flow of time throughout the day. By the end of the first week though, I was really, really missing my little moments of social interaction, and I realized I needed to step up my game in terms of reaching out to people. I started using Marco Polo, phone calls and texts to reach out to friends and family on a daily basis, and this helped a great deal.
When the second week started, I realized we needed to get back into a school routine, so we added that back in. This was a huge challenge in and of itself, in part because I was not accustomed to having a preschooler around 24/7- we usually did the bulk of our schoolwork when she was away at Grandma’s, or at an activity.
By the end of the second week, I was pulling my hair out with the kids, they were melting down in puddles around the house, and we were all wondering how in the heck we were going to make it another hour, let alone another month or two. I also started back to work, which made homeschooling even more challenging- two working parents, two “working” kids, and one very active preschooler made for some very stressful times, to say the least.
By the end of the third week, we had finally started to normalize again- turns out the kids really just needed to get outside (it rained throughout the second week), I needed some “me time”, and we finally worked ourselves into a schedule that checked everybody’s boxes- school/play/work/self-care, etc. Or at least as close as we could come given the circumstances.
We also got the very happy news that our plans to purchase another home were going to go through, so now we have a direction forward, even if it’s going to be crazy to add moving into the already mind-boggling mix of things we are dealing with.
But wait, I thought you were going to move into your RV?!
If you’re wondering about RV travel the answer is that yes, we absolutely plan to continue to travel- once it feels safe. I’m not sure when that is, and having a new home that’s more affordable for us to “hunker down” in seems like a very wise move at the moment. RV parks are unfortunately NOT considered an essential business, and many of our traveling friends are having a very difficult time finding a safe place to ride out the storm given all the state and private park closures. We did NOT want to be in that boat if we could help it, and the purchase of this new home will be a huge blessing for us.
So, while it might seem like I’ve been quiet on social media, I’ve actually felt like life has been busier than ever. Someone recently told me that life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain, and so, with that perspective, here are a few of the things I’m grateful for, that have come out of this mess:
- More time connecting with family. I call all my parents almost daily, and have more contact with my husband’s extended family and network of cousins than ever before. Just at home, my husband and I have had more time to invest in each other, taking time to encourage each other and do little things, like play games (current favorite: Dragonswood and Ticket to Ride). We are also having more time to connect with the kids, rather than just shuttling them to and from x or y activity/event- I hadn’t realized how much stress this was putting on our family until it was lifted.
- Working from home: Now that we are both working and parenting from home 24/7, we have a unique opportunity to appreciate each other’s occupational challenges and strengths. Despite the stress of having to learn and navigate an entirely new online system at work, I’m really enjoying the fresh perspective this brings to my job, as well as the opportunity to give a hug or play a quick game with the kids during my “lunch break”.
- More outdoor play time: We’ve always been an “ourdoorsy” family, but we have been taking even more time than usual to go for hikes, take a long bike ride, or catch tadpoles in the canal. Without all the pressure to “be here or there”, we have much more time to enjoy nature and free play. As a homeschooler, I’ve always believed that the idea that kids need a peer group of 30 other kids on a daily basis to thrive is preposterous, but now I really see hard evidence that without all these “socialization” opportunities, my kids are thriving and taking their relationships with each other (and us) deeper.
If this seems to paint a rosy picture, and you feel stressed by the idea that we are all sitting around a campfire every afternoon singing kum-by-yah, don’t. It’s still minute by minute, and I think we will all have much less stress if we keep it real with each other, and admit our stressful moments as much as the fun Insta-worthy ones. I think a “hey, I see your struggle and I have it too” message is worth 10 pretty pictures.
That said, I don’t usually have my phone out to snap a pic of me at 1PM with bedhead, unbrushed teeth, a sink full of dishes, and a screaming 4 year old on my hip, so while I’m sharing some nice photos here (that we took just before things went sideways), please know that these smiles are NOT always present.
Ooookkkayyy, now that I’ve got that off my chest, how’s about some sewing news?
Now for some Sewing News!
Ya know those patterns that you buy, because they look cool, but assume you’ll only make once? I totally put the Dia in that category. It was too “unique” looking for me to imagine sewing more than one version….but then I sewed two very different versions all in one week, and I don’t feel like I’m repeating myself, even when I wear them back to back.
My first Dia was from a navy bamboo french terry from the Fabric Fairy. I used the hi-low hem, and kept things pretty simple, using the full diamond piece for the middle. Because I was using a solid color, I emphasized the piecing with ample topstitching using my coverstitch machine. The majority of the actual sewing was done with my standard machine, though I did serge each of the edges before I pieced them together for a more professional finish inside (this step is not necessary, since knits won’t fray, but I just like how it looks).
I wasn’t sure if I would like the fit, but it turned out to be just right- loose, but not sloppy, and really cute with a pair of dark classic jeans.
Full disclosure: I’ve never made a quilt before, and I tend to “sew by the seat of my pants”, so I was a bit anxious about whether I’d be able to sew with enough patience and accuracy to make everything line up the way it should. Happily, this was a great opportunity to slow down and focus on the process (I tend to get caught up in the product), and I was really proud of myself for my diligent work, when everything fit together perfectly. This is also an impressive testament to the high quality drafting and instructions- it even makes me want to try out a quilt someday (any pattern recommendations for quilt newbie?)
The weather turned cooler before I cut out my second Dia, so I decided my next version needed a hood.
Adding it was a simple matter of finding another pattern with a high neckline and slapping the hood pattern piece on (hoods are easy to interchange between patterns with similar necklines, because any small differences can be absorbed by the overlap at the front). This second Dia is made from Super Plush from So Sew English, and is incredibly cozy and warm.
The center diamond was a scrap leftover from a new pair of Inspires (textured athletic knit from Surge fabrics), so before I knew it, I had a second completed outfit.
I’ve been stashing some Super Plush for ages, but this was my first time finally sewing it. I worried it might get too thick for my serger to cut through, but nothing bad happened, other than a little extra fuzz around my sewing area- well worth it for the coziness of this fabric!
I also feel like these leggings (Inspires with back zipper pocket hack- tutorial HERE) are nicely work appropriate, and though I don’t have to go into the office these days, I do feel better when I’ve taken the time to put some effort into my appearance in the mornings- both above and below the webcam.
Though this is my second Dia, I doubt its my last- I think a plain front version would find a nice place in my closet, and I have some small athletic scraps that would be adorable in a version for my daughter. That’s a pretty impressive number of sews for a pattern I thought would go in the “one and done” category!
After this photo shoot, we walked around downtown and did a little family shopping.
We stopped in a little boutique, and Sophia proceeded to pick out the highest pair of high-heels one could possibly imagine, and insisted on trying them on.
And then she totally shocked me by actually being able to walk in them- much better than I ever could.
We snapped some pictures, and now looking back- its dizzying how quickly things can change.
But ultimately, this is what I’m grateful for- this family, their health, and safety. Finding joy in the little moments. Someday, we will get back to a new “normal”, but hopefully we will be able to take some of the good things we’ve learned (like how not to use a bizillion paper towels, and why overscheduling didn’t make us happy) into that new world. If you’re in need of a little positive inspiration- check out the little nest the birds made in our (very fake) front door wreath! Seeing this little nest reminded me that good things can come of really challenging situations- and that there’s beauty and new life to be found admist even the worst moments.
I’d love to hear how this situation has changed your habits/thoughts, and any tips for managing working at home with three kids (and moving!) are always welcome!