LE BAM: 20-minute knit skirt

Yesterday, after many days with plans I put my foot down. I felt like my words enunciated and firm as my children bounced and asked if friends could come over for the fifth day in a row.

No playdates today. We are going home and hanging out. I pushed through the protests. Truth is, I am an introvert in that I recharge alone or with my immediate family and sometimes I short circuit over the number of children and continually hopping about in my kitchen. I love it and then I need quiet time.

It’s hard for me to admit that. Because I definitely, deeply appreciate that my kids and their pals love it here. And I love kids and loud-living-loving life and…I don’t need to justify this anymore. Every so often, I need a savasana in the middle of the asking and answering and dance parties and the snack making (holy shit I am pretty sure first grade girls are as hungry as 13 year old boys). What if I just busted out my yoga mat and corpse pose in the middle of a Katy Perry jump rope performance?

So, yesterday. Margot has been carrying around fabric, dreaming up a skirt in her head and we decided to go ahead and make it. One for Ruby too, of course. After snacks, of course.

I am all about simple lines, functional wear, no-fuss patterns and bonus if it is a quick make. My girls both prefer soft, stretchy knit fabrics. Margot likes capri leggings with tall socks, layers, tucking in and interesting accessories. Ruby likes very fitted leggings or tights, long sleeved shirts that end exactly at her wrist bone, a line skirts and changing her clothes every six minutes. They also prefer “slippery” skirts that don’t stick to cotton leggings.

This skirt meets every single one of the points in that paragraph up there!


Le Bam is our new phrase of choice, invented by Andy’s uncle because it is Mabel’s name backwards and it totally fits because she moves like a slinky, leaps like popcorn and does crazy things like jump off our second story deck (that really happened. she is fine.). 

The skirt. A simple knit skirt using a straight stitch on the sewing machine; any machine can sew this skirt. It’s only four pieces and only requires four straight stitchings. A raw edge at the bottom eliminates the need to finish with a turned hem.


* skirt to use as pattern.

Find a skirt in your closet that you like. The skirt is just the starting point. Do you wish it was longer or straighter cut? Do you wish the waist was larger? You can make these changes when you grab your scissors. If you want to recreate an exact shape, try it!

* knit fabric the amount depends on length, size and pattern.

Knit fabric is stretchy and doesn’t fray when cut. You can use a slippery knit like athletic knit or dance knit. You can use a soft knit like bamboo or rayon jersey. To determine how much you need: Fold your the skirt you are using as a patten in half. Measure widest part (the hem). Multiply by four. You need that much fabric but all going in the same direction (width-wise) from selvedge to selvedge. The stretch is important and knits stretch differently in different directions).

* 5″ x (waist measurement)” contrasting or coordinating knit fabric
* scissors
* rotary cutter + mat (optional)
* straight pins
* thread
* sewing machine

Cut the waistband fabric. I prefer to just use the fabric as a measurement instead of a tape. Every fabric stretches differently so using the fabric ensures the right length. For Ruby, I cut a piece of 5 x 25″ fabric and wrapped it around her waist until it was a comfortable fit for her. We trimmed excess and ended up with a 5 x 18″ piece (her waist is 20″). Cut waistband in half the short way. Now we have (2) 5 x 9″ pieces.

Fold your fabric right sides together and place folded skirt on fabric fold. Here is where you will adjust your pattern. Ruby wanted her skirt shorter and narrower than the one we had so I cut it shorter and narrower. The top of your folded skirt needs to be at least the width of one of your folded-in-half waistbands; best if it is an inch or so larger. In this case: the folded in half waistband is 4.5 x 5″ and I cut the top of the halved skirt to 5″. Be brave and cut! That is 1/2 your skirt.

Fold fabric again and place your folded, just-cut skirt half on the fabric fold. Cut. You are done cutting. Nice work!

Unfold one skirt piece, right side up. Fold one waistband piece in half, long sides together. Place all raw edges together, along skirt top. The skirt top is a bit wider than the waistband. Pin one side in place and then the other. Place a pin in the middle. Evenly stretch the waistband along the skirt and pin in place. Repeat on other half.

Open up your stitch length to about 6-8 stitches per inch. Sew waistband to skirt, backstitching at each end and firmly pulling the fabric as you sew. Place your left hand on the skirt and guide through machine like you usually do. With your right hand, pull away from machine, stretching the fabric. Don’t be shy. PULL. You must stretch the fabric as you sew so that the waistband and skirt match up and so that stitches retract a bit when released; this is the key to getting away without a stretch stitch (like a serger or zig zag). Repeat on other half of skirt.

Place right sides of skirt halves together and pin the heck out of each side. Make sure waistbands match up. Don’t worry if hems are a bit off; that’s an easy fix. Beginning at waistband, sew each side down to hem, backstitching at each end.

LA BAM. You just made a skirt.

Because we freecut the skirt pieces, one side might have a slightly different hem than the other. Or there might be a wonky wobble. Just trim it up so it’s even.

In the middle of sewing together my kids saw their friend outside, hiking the hill to see our neighbors horses. Can we mama? Of course. Let’s go.

That was all I needed: an quiet hour of just us chit chat and handwork. That, and the promise that we’d finish up what we started tomorrow.

We did finish them the following morning. And then I followed their wiggly, excited bodies in an effort to glean a photo showing this skirt I want to share with you. All I could grab was the skirt in everyday motion, which is absolutely how it is and will be.

And, of course the endless possibilities for styling their new frocks.

When I had some time to myself I, of course, took the opportunity to set up a self-timer and jump off their furniture to share my LE BAM skirt in motion, too. A different kind of savasana.

Happy Monday, Happy March friends. xoxo

Details about the fabric we used: Margot’s is heather teal athletic knit from JoAnns; waistband is a dance knit. Ruby’s is vintage polyester; waistband is bamboo knit. Mine is a lightweight heather sweater knit. If using a sweater knit or jersey knit you will notice it curls to one side. Be sure to have the curl on the right side of the skirt so the finished skirt doesn’t curl under.

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nervously, wistfully, thankfully

Everyone says

Last year at this time we were skiing in the streets.

Either nervously, wistfully or thankfully. We might not have the adverb in common but we do have the noticing in common: it’s unusually warm for February in western Montana. My garlic is coming up, my fruit trees budding. People are jogging in shorts. There are rumors of early bear activity in the hills.

There is a new space to our days that we don’t dare fill up. Our kids pick out their clothes and dress themselves, unload the dishwasher, feed the animals, remind me to return library books, argue and work it out.

We revel in the gloriousness of existing in this state of funky symbiosis, this new place on our life map. Things feels easy in ways they weren’t for years: we aren’t needed like we were; our offspring play together for hours in imaginary worlds and help themselves to snacks. And things feel hard in ways they weren’t for years: navigating this world where my daughters are further away than on my hip or further away than I can shout, bounding up the hillside deep into their own, bright self-discovery.

Margot: OK honey, and what would you like to eat?

Ruby: Oregano Soup

Margot, whispering and out of character: No Ruby, it has to be something I can spell. Like Lucy Soup or Phoebe Soup or…

Ruby: Oh ok. I’d like Ellie Soup please. And a side of Daddy Ice Cream.

There are still plenty of MAMAAAAAs singing from their bedroom as they sort out who gets to wear the tall green socks or sob over Ruby drawing a kitty in Margot’s secret diary without asking. Continue reading

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Essentially: on our sweet smelling medicine cabinet

One of my most frequently asked questions is about our use of essential oils. I am learning as I go here (and obviously not a medical professional) but thought I’d share a bit about our use of oils, particularly to treat the flu last week. There’s an epic giveawy down there too! Additional resource, a piece I wrote for eHow: 9 Ways to Use Essential Oils to Improve Family Health.

:: :: ::

Like most kids in the 8os I ate antibiotics with breakfast. Anytime I felt any way other than great I feel like I took antibiotics. Noticing that my kids have each had antibiotics one time and that medicine in general seems different than it was when I was a kid, I asked my mom about it. Because my mom knows everything.

Me: What was medicine like when you were a kid? Did you take prescription medicine preventatively like I did when I was a kid?

Mom: No. When we were sick, my mother started with humidifiers, mustard packs, Vick’s VapoRub. She pushed fluids. We rested and ate popsicles on the couch and she kissed our foreheads.

Me: What is a mustard pack?!

Mom: Oh they were wonderful! I don’t know why I never gave them to your brother and you. Your dad grew up with them too, to treat his allergies. Hold on. Let me google it. Here:

Mustard Plasters (also known as Mustard Packs) have been used for centuries throughout the world as a natural folk remedy. Although they have been used to treat maladies from gout to sciatica, today we will focus on its usefulness in treating chest & lung congestion. As we enter the cold and flu season, if you get sick and can feel or hear phlegm in your lungs when you cough and you are finding it hard to cough the phlegm up and out, the mustard plaster can help.

Mustard is a rubefacient, which means it stimulates blood circulation through dilation of the capillaries, which, when applied over the lungs will help open them up and encourage expectoration of mucous that may be trapped. One of the reasons you want to stimulate coughing and moving the phlegm is that it can help prevent infection in the lungs and conditions such as bacterial pneumonia & bronchitis.

You mix dry mustard and flour and warm water and apply to cheesecloth and wrap the torso.

Me: How did your experiences with treating illness when you were a kid translate into your mothering of Travis and me?

Mom: I think when I was little I was taught by my mother (who was an RN) and my dad (pharmaceutical rep) that doctors where to be revered, almost God-like. Not to be questioned, we just accepted one person’s knowledge as the only solution. When you were sick I took you to the doctor to fix it, to make you feel better. I took my childhood reverence of doctors into motherhood. I didn’t really ask about other possible treatments when I was handed a prescription. It’s just what we did. My mom also worked her magic with some holistic healing – which I believe in all of us deep down – and I also took this into motherhood. I believe modern medicine definitely has it’s place, but Mother Nature’s medicine is also very powerful!

Me: Would you have done things differently if you knew what you know now?

Mom: Yes, some. There is power in learning, in understanding how bodies work, how medicine – eastern, western and everywhere in between. I have had many changes in my thinking as I have grown older: I now question information and seek different opinions. I am bold now. I am not timid in my questions. Today, your generation has the benefit of easier access to information and different opinions which I think gives you greater access to your confidence and greater trust in your intuition.

Me: So it is different but mostly the same: we do the best we can with the information we have. Thanks mom. You’re the best.

Mom: Love you Burb. See you on Sunday!

(my mama is coming to town for my birthday)

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Ruby had influenza last week. Continue reading

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enough space / kitchen reno

We have been living in a kitchen remodel since we moved into our home three years ago. Little by little, as we cam swing it (punny!), we have knocked out tile, a wall, another wall. We installed a dishwasher, a range, a sink. Currently, our counters and cabinets are cut up pieces of the original counter and cabinets screwed together. The counter we installed after taking out the south wall is our old bedroom closet door. We have several holes in the floor. It’s a mockup version of what we want. It functions great. Sure, I wish we could afford to just bang it all out in a month like all those homes my husband works on. But I’ve grown to really appreciate living with the mockup, living with the daydream of what it will someday be.

A few of the benefits of living with the mockup:

  1. We have changed our minds. We are testing it out and have found that things should move a bit from our original ideas.
  2. Waiting has allowed us to score some pretty awesome things. Like, last summer, we were given some leftover (gorgeous, designer, sea glass-looking) tile from a job my husband worked on. Enough to tile one entire wall and a backsplash. Like the range and sink (click links above).
  3. We are good daydreamers.
  4. We feel lucky now. When it is all done, we will value it more than ever.

I’ve not shared much of our progress here because I wanted to share it when there is the big, fancy before and after. Because who doesn’t love a good DIY before and after?! Truth is, our home renovations are aren’t seamless and quick; they are not wave-a-wand-voila! There are a lot of guts between before and after. So, our before and during: Continue reading

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hump day nuggets: 2015 will be awesome

Yesterday, after many days with plans I put my foot down. I felt like my words enunciated and firm as my children bounced and asked if friends could come over for the fifth day in a row. No playdates today. We are … Continue reading

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