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Making the move.

Sometimes I need a good swift kick in the pants and now seems to be one of those times. To be honest, I’ve had a somewhat rough go of it the last eight months, wondering just what the point was if I couldn’t have the things that made me happy. Then I saw this on Instagram and clung to it:

I knew what wasn’t making me happy but wasn’t quite sure what would. I re-started the Sewing for Orphans campaign and got some sponsors, made more dresses, cheered on other sewists and sent more clothes. That whole project can only make me smile, really, so it is a great thing for me to do and I’m just gonna keep on doing it as long as there are orphans to clothe and I can get the help to ship the dresses, shorts, tees and more to them.

But I needed more. A good shake-up at life. So with a little impetus, I decided to move to southern California to be near my little sister. The whole thing took about a month to figure out and then it was a done deal.

I asked my dad to fix up my little car enough to get us there. Instead he found me a new(er) car and loaned me the money to get it now.


The little white Escort, affectionately known as Ooben thanks to its license plate, has gotten me through a lot over the past nine years, but it was time to retire. So now I have this cute little silver Focus. Totally basic, but I love it.

Then I quit my job at the trade magazine and instead spend the next week teaching these sweethearts to sew in the morning …


and packing everything I own into a storage unit in the evening …


By the time I closed up the storage unit yesterday morning, there wasn’t an inch to spare. It’s stacked high and all the way to the door.And there was still stuff I couldn’t fit in–my desk, our TV, dressers, couch. We’ll be replacing all of it except the TV, which we managed to fit into the back of our car. :)

Then we hit the road, my daughter and I, for a three-day drive to Los Angeles, first along the Oregon Coast, through Sacramento and down I-5 until we reach my sister’s home sometime on Saturday evening.

20130628-071238.jpgIt’s an adventure and it makes me hopeful and happy.


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Let’s Sew!

sewcialIf you live in the Portland/Vancouver area, I hope you can join me tomorrow night, June 7th, to sew-sew-sew for the orphans in Vietnam. I will be bringing along patterns for bucket hats for adults and toddlers, the lovely Popover Sundress (that’s the dresses they’re sporting so sweetly in the pic above), and some generic shorts.

Thomas Knauer kindly donated twenty (!) pounds of fabric and we’ll be cutting into that. Modern Domestic has offered the space, machine and tools. All I need from you is a little time and a spool of neutral (grey, cream) thread.

Sew Em Be Charity Sew-cial 
Modern Domestic – 1408 NE Alberta St. 
June 7    5-8 p.m.

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Dresses for all!

Lyn shared this adorable picture from one of her last days at the Tam Ky orphanage. Can you pick out the boy hidden in a dress?20130429-071941.jpg
I only have my guess, but I know his name is Khang and no one batted an eye about putting him in one of the dresses we made. This delights me and is just one of the things I love about Vietnam. It’s definitely a patriarchy, don’t get me wrong, but some of the ideas that are so deeply entrenched in American culture (Boys don’t wear dresses, ever!) simply don’t exist there.

Before I get lost on a tangent, I wanted to publicly thank Lyn for her help in Tam Ky. Honestly, it couldn’t have happened this go-round without her. She was the one that let me know boxes had gone missing. She took photos for me and paid for the import tax on the last two boxes. While the tax was less than $30, it was more than Mrs. Hanh could have possibly paid (that’s about half of her monthly income!). Lyn re-connected me with kids we’d worked with in Tam Ky who are now at orphanages in Hoi An and Phu Ninh. She reignited my passion to do more there and get back to Vietnam as soon as I can.

A new volunteer is coming in June, staying and helping like the Quiltys did, without a volunteer organization to back her. Like many of us who have volunteered in Tam Ky, she is driven to do more. She’ll be my contact for at least one shipment there.

Up in Hanoi, I’ve made contact with Blue Dragon, an NGO that has been around for years helping street kids get an education and training. They’ll be getting more school bags and pencil pouches, along with some clothes. I am not quite sure how all of it will work, but I am sure we can figure it out. Together.

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Happy children because of YOU

Thanks to each and every person who helped out with my sewing drive last fall. I think we may have lost one box along the way, but I realized with this last shipment that if I forked over the extra for Express Mail, it really does get there faster. I mailed two boxes last Friday (28 lbs of clothes!) and they arrived six days later.

There were some issues with import taxes and such, but nothing to prevent the kids from getting what they needed. Lucky for us, Lyn Quilty is there and was able to get the stuff to the kids. And the best part are the picture because seriously, could she look any prouder to have a new bag? Girls_shoulderbags

And this one is thrilled to show off her pencil case. So freakin’ cute, I just want to scoop her up and dance around with her. Gai_pencilbag photo by Lyn Quilty

Then there’s this young girl, happy in her lovely Popover dress. Adorable, eh?


I’ve been talking with Lyn a bit and looking into getting back over there myself sooner rather than later. I don’t know exactly how, though it will likely involve selling  a good deal of my belongings again, but I’m sure I will make it happen. One way or another. I miss their sweet faces and with several orphanages to help out, I might as well go myself to hand out what is needed and where. Right? :)

If you are interested in helping make items for more orphaned kids or sponsoring a shipment, read this.

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Thank you, Thomas.

peartreeI first heard of Thomas Knauer back in 2011 when he was releasing his first line with Andover. It was a lovely collection called “Pear Tree” and I remember seeing him in Houston at Quilt Market carrying a bag he had made out of this lovely large-scale partridge-in-a-pear-tree print. I was too shy to say anything, but seeing the fabric in-person sealed the deal.

I was sold on his designs.

The colors are what really get me and I wish I had the art background to explain what it is that makes them so appealing to me. The yellows aren’t bright yellow, the oranges are just slightly different than one would expect and the greens make me swoon. I adore his use of simplicity and repetition while not making the fabrics basic and boring. I bought bits of Pear Tree and Savanna Bop, and Thesaurus has been on my t0-buy list since he posted that he was doing a word-themed fabric.

Not only is Thomas a wonderful fabric designer, he also does quilt patterns and does an astounding job at it. And not only that, he is one of the most honest people you’ll meet. So when he promised he’d send me fabric to make clothes for the Tam Ky orphans, I knew he would.

And on Monday, he did.

20130501-071806.jpgStacked on my couch it measured 39 inches high, more fabric than I could have imagined he would send. I was, and am still, awed.

So now I am planning a sewing day at Modern Domestic and hopefully one or two more. There’s no way I can do this alone, I need my sewing and quilting friends more than ever. [Portland peeps–I’m looking at you!] But I cannot wait. I am already planning which fabric for shorts, which for dresses and pulling others to make coverlets for the beds.

Thank you, Thomas, for your support and generosity. I owe you one.

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Another shipment

Thanks to the support of Gen Q mag and Teri (craktpot on Flickr) I was able to pay for a second box of items. I paid for this first one, filled with pants and dresses.


And they paid for this box, double the size and cost, but filled with 40 Popover dresses, 12 pairs of knit pants, 8 pairs of socks, 5 messenger bags, 5 pencil pouches and a whole lotta love.


According to the post office, they should be there in a week, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll make it there soon and intact. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything, I promise!



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Support “Sew Em Be”

Sewists , crafters and quilters are always willing to lend a hand and thanks to the help of dozen, in 2012 I was able to gather more than 200 items for the children in Tam Ky.

Since then I have sent package to the Quang Nam Baby Orphanage as my own budget afforded. As more items come in, I am asking for help in getting the items to the kids.


By sponsoring a box of clothes for the orphans, you’ll be the last and critical part of the process in making sure that clothes that have been so lovingly made get to the kids they were destined for.

With your support, I can extend my effort to other orphanages that I have worked with, as well as those I have connections with through other volunteers. I am hoping to expand to include the Hoi An orphanage (where many of the children we worked with in 2007 were transferred to when the Home of Affection closed) and Thanh Hoa (where we lived when I taught English at Hong Duc University).

In return, I will post about the contribution on this blog, my personal blog and via social media, in addition to adding your logo to the sidebar of this blog and announcing the support via social media.

To discuss how you can help out, email me: Teresa AT

Sponsor a box now.


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Update on orphans and dresses

Thanks to a lovely woman named Lyn, I get to share these wonderful pictures of the kids in Tam Ky wearing some of the dresses made for our sewing drive last fall. How cute are they?!20130401-230428.jpg

I recently had the chance to talk with the folks at Generation Q magazine and they were so encouraging. Instead of trying to mail a box every month or two, on my own dime, I’ve decided I’ll offer box sponsorship. That way, I can get help with the shipping costs, mail boxes out more frequently and ramp up the sewing once again!


If you’re interested in donating cash for the shipping costs, you can do that through the sponsor button to the left. And if you want to sew or donate materials, send me an email at teresa AT

I really can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has supported this effort and encouraged me to keep on keeping on.