Our featured mama today is none other than Meg Spaeth, the wonder-mama behind the blog Elsie Marley and creator of the Kids Clothes Week Challenge (KCWC). Meg lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and is a wife and mama of three--a 5 1/2 year old girl, a 4 year old boy, and a 1 1/2 year old boy. I first came across Meg through the KCWC last spring--I was completely inspired by her challenge, and the awesome designs and tutorials she rounded up to get us all itching to sew. (I finally took her up on the challenge last fall.) And not only does she host this awesome week of sewing mania each fall and spring, but she has some pretty inspiring projects and designs of her own. Her distinct simple and modern aesthetic is always innovative, and she has a keen eye for bringing thrifted items to life again. Elsie Marley is a must-read on my blog roll, so it suffices to say I was thrilled when Meg joined in for the Month of Mamas. Here she is:
I’ve read that you were a chocolatier before you became a mother, but took up crafting once you had your first daughter. What were your biggest challenges as you began sewing and crafting? Did you have help along the way, or were you self-taught?
The biggest impediment to me as I was learning to sew was myself. When my mom taught me the basics in high school I was incredibly impatient and fought constantly with the sewing machine. When I started again, I had to overcome the urge to act like a teenager and yell and swear at the machine. I wasn't always successful (I still call it names) but I acted like a grown up and read the entire manual. That coupled with the crafty community online helped me learn to sew.
How has your work as a chocolatier inspired your crafting?
Working with chocolate is quiet and slow and very detail oriented. Sewing is pretty much the same, but less delicious.
What does a typical weekday look like for you?
My wonderful husband usually gets up with the kids and packs them off to school, while I catch up on my email. Then it's just me and the baby. I try to sneak in some sewing and blogging here and there, but he has no interest in either and we usually end up playing together. After lunch, I pick up my kids from school and put the baby down for a nap. I try to take this time with my older kids to do a project with them or read. After a while they go off and play some insane game they dream up and I clean the house/do the dishes/laundry/housey tasks. The baby wakes up and one-- or sometimes all--of the kids help me make dinner. Then it''s family time, bath, and bed. I wish I could say I dig out my sewing machine and work after they are asleep, but normally I find a small project I can do while lying down on the couch.
What are your biggest challenges as a crafty mama?
It's not so much finding the time to sew, because I know I can carve out bits here and there if I need to, it's finding the energy. From the outside, looking after children seems like such a simple job, but it is incredibly draining. I think I'm probably preaching to the choir on this one.
How do you “find the balance” between blogging, crafting, and spending time with your family?
I don't. Things are always out of balance. But I try to accept the craziness and just go with it. Creativity comes and goes, so I try to make something when the urge strikes. Family life has a mind of it's own too--sometimes I'm in sync with my kids, sometimes they do better left alone. So it's not so much balance I try to find, but a rhythm I try to tune into.
KCWC has really taken off since it first began. What inspired you to start it and what are you most excited about with the new challenge coming up?
The challenge started as a way for me to get my butt off the couch and sew the things I had been dreaming about. The posts I did on that first challenge to myself were so popular I decided to put the challenge to everyone.
As mothers it never feels like we have extra time, but forcing yourself to put aside one hour a day to work on your own projects is incredibly important. The day seems to get longer because of it. And you feel renewed and refreshed. This spring I'm excited about all the new faces we have participating. And all the cute summertime clothes that are going to get sewn!
What advice would you give to other crafty mamas out there looking to find their own creative outlet?
Stop telling yourself you can't do something and just do it already.
What are you working on now?
I just finished making May Day crowns for my kids. Now I'm planning all the clothes I'm going to make for my kids during KCWC. The list is already way too long.
Thanks again to Meg for giving us a glimpse into her life as a creative mama! If you're interested in joining in on this spring's Kids Clothes Week Challenge it starts today! Hop on over to Meg's blog or visit her on Flickr to sign up and get started! I have my own much-too-long list of clothes I'd like to whip up for the kiddos this week, so hopefully I'll have a thing or two to share with you by the end of the challenge. Happy sewing!