Lemon Layer Cake

comments: 90


PATTERN: McCall's M5693
VIEW: D (modified with hand-smocking)
FABRIC: Poly-cotton gingham, from Fabric Depot

There is so much that feels absolutely heavenly about sewing for me right now. Aside from the obvious joy that I always feel when making things for any of the precious little ones in my life, I am particularly happy right now because, concurrent with the start of The Wait has been the end (well, almost the end — it actually feels like it's never going to end) of my work on The Book. The second round of proofs was here last week, and the third (and final) round should come next week. Since I've been working on one book or another in the background for pretty much three straight years, the freedom of moving forward creatively — of kissing each book good-bye and sending it off on its own to the printer — is one that really can't be understated. It fills my entire body with such palpable relief that just doesn't feel like anything else. Maybe graduating college felt like that. The day you turn that final paper in, and take your last exam? Nothing ever feels quite so freeing, psychologically speaking, as those particular days, and I remember wearing a dress and riding my bike through campus afterward, joyously thinking, "What should I dooooooooo? I have nothing to dooooooooooooooo [smile smile smile smile]!!!"

So, while I'm not quite there yet, somewhere toward the end of 2nd-round proofing, as you're reading the book for the 45th time and the directions are starting to swim in front of your eyes, and you can't tell anymore if an illustration is right-side-up or -down, and you have to call your mom to come over and read some stuff because you're not sure anymore if even the simplest instructions make sense, you think, "BUT. But it's almost all together now. And you've done your very best, such as that is." And the minute you get home from dropping the proofs back in the FedEx box to be over-nighted to NYC, you go flying through the house and straight into your studio and start gleefully tearing through patterns and fabric and ribbons and notions [buttons flying through the air, fabric unfurling in great waves across workspaces], so anxious are you to follow someone else's directions for once. Oh! the sweet relief of (mostly) following someone else's directions for once!!! It's a freedom, dear reader, that cannot be overstated.

And so it is that you come to the sewing machine with a pile of pink calico, or oatmeal linen, or blue flowers, or salmon dots. With smocking plates and gray eyelet and Japanese craft books and a stack of someone's vintage patterns. With lavender bullion roses and bias tape makers and a pile of yellow gingham. And as the machine hums and sparkles start flying out of the chimney, rising high into the spring-blooming trees, you see that you've created a little lemon layer cake of a dress (today; tomorrow it will be something else) and you think, Oh yes. And tomorrow I'll make tomato soup, and the next day watermelon sugar, and the day after that tiny oak trees, just because I can!



So beautiful!

Just simply lovely. Both the dress and your description.

Oh My, this is just so copletely perfect. Your life must have this very same sunshine hue at the moment. Loving it with you Alicia x x

Darn, my "m" is playing up!

How lovely! I love smocking on gingham...it is so sweet!

That is such a pretty dress and this post is just so filled with excitment. It makes me want to do something...there has got to be something I can do when I get home from work. You are an inspiration!

Gorgeous smoking! You'd think you'd been doing it your own life. BTW I'm looking forward to that free feeling a week from Saturday when this round of exams/papers is over and I'm on "march break." The next classes have already started but I like the sense that I'll be my own girl for a week.

What beautiful words - and what a beautiful piece - coming from such a beautiful place

I didn't have a chance to comment when you announced your wonderful news~but I would like to say how happy I am for you and Andy~I know you don't know me, but I feel as if we are kindred spirits!
I was adopted at birth (in Portland) and I have always felt that it was a great blessing in my life-it's how I ended up where I should have been. My parents lost their first child almost 20 years earlier and then were blessed to welcome my brother and I (separate adoptions)~what joy they felt. It's great to read of your joy and how you are spending the time while you wait-I can imagine that is how my Mom felt as well. She was also a seamstress and did so many beautiful things with her hands. She is gone now, so this has been so nice for me to read and remember~Thanks, and I wish you the best!

such a delightful post! filled to the brim with all the things that life is bubbling over... thanks for sharing your joy!

I am giddy with all your goodness! Books, babies and blouses, yes, yes, yes!

I can completly understand about following someone elses directions. I work as a clothing pattern designer, and the last thing I ever feel like doing is drafting my own (personal) patterns.... no thank you to that.

I will galdly trust other's patterns and directions for making things, recipes and crafts included.

ps - I am VERY excited for your new book. I love embroidery.

Not that I would ever expect anything less from you, but that smocking is impecable! Gorgeous work.

You will be a fantastic parent! The joy you will feel following your child's lead and nurturing her needs will overwhelm you in the greatest way. Every day 3 kids and 8 years later I still am in love with being their mom. Good luck and really take in each day it goes by so fast.

What a gorgeous dress.

Ah, yes, completion! It's such a wonderful feeling, isn't it? When you've worked so hard and then you can actually hand it off to someone else and be done... Congratulations on being nearly there with the book!

And this dress is so darling.

The wonderful thing about this little dress, is that whenever you are pulling it over your little one's head, you'll remember the joy and anticipation you felt with each step of it's creation. It's such a happy dress! x

You're really inspiring me to try smocking. I've always wanted to. I also went over to Amazon and saw that your new book is up for pre-order. It looks like it will also be inspiring. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful talents.

I adore gingham, and that blouse is beautiful!!

and you should!!!! lucky you...lucky us to be a "part" of the crafty goodness and yummy deliciousness of lemon layer cake...

Beautiful work. I can hear the excitement and joy you're feeling. The wait will only serve to prepare you for the new life coming into your home. I believe that when she comes she will embrace all of the adorable smocked dresses, lovely crocheted blankets and adorable room. Who wouldn't. Heck, I want to be adopted by both of you.

Sparkles start flying out of the chimney!!!LOLOLOL You are wonderful:)

Oh, I just love this! I love your fabric choice. So darling!

Troy Louise says: March 03, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Your little dress is just precious. And, yes to complete something is so wonderful. Thanks for the cheery words on this gray morning.

Lovely, lovely work!

Julie G. in Iowa says: March 03, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Your happiness and excitement seem to ooze from this post. So lovely! Looks and feels just like spring - something new and exciting are just around the corner. -Julie G.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com