Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Sara and I live in Northern California with my husband and 3 young boys. All I ever really wanted was to raise a family, and I married my love when I was 19 years old and began doing just that! I’ve dabbled in so many creative outlets over the years, including quilting, gardening, canning, tatting, knitting, and baking.
I bought a used serger when I was pregnant with my first son, and after initially spending many frustrating hours and months figuring it out alone, I began to become confident with sewing knits. I still have the same trusty Bernina 9 years later! By the time my second son was born I was passionate about garment making. I launched my shop Earthen Nest, organic cotton and merino wool children’s wear. This remained very part time, as my husband and I intended to homeschool our children.
Then our eldest son was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 5. Our other boys were 4 years old and 2 weeks old. We moved, first to the hospital housing, then with my in-laws for most of the year, then back on our own again. My husband’s job changed, and I became primarily the caregiver as our whole focus was on getting our son through cancer treatment. After 2.5 years he is newly finished with treatment and thriving, and we are so thankful for that!
Why do you sew?
I sew because my mind and hands just constantly need to be creating something. So much of motherhood is repeating the same mundane tasks. When I carve out the time to make something beautiful and useful, it fuels my soul and brings me joy. Sometimes I feel like my hands are a decade older than the rest of me because of how much I use them. I squeeze in as many moments of creativity as I can during my days, knitting a few rows in between helping my boys with school subjects, making sourdough bread, or practising my photo editing. But as far as sewing, the bulk of it happens at night when my children are asleep. I’m a better mom when I make time to create.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
I often sew in silence, lost in my own thoughts and enjoying the quiet house after a busy day with three little boys. Sewing wovens still takes a lot of focus for me, but when I sew knits my hands work better when my mind is engaged. I enjoy various podcasts related to homeschooling: Read Aloud Revival, the Life Without School Podcast, Wild+Free. Other days I’ll listen to audiobooks or my new favorite band We the Kingdom.
As a child, what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
I loved books on drawing and watercolors when I was a child. I remember being captivated by beautiful realistic watercolor paintings, especially ones with backlight. All these years later, now as an aspiring photographer, I still find myself obsessed with beautiful light. Even my boys are noticing and pointing out beautiful light because they know how much I love it.
Where is home and how does it affect what you do?
Home in my mind may always be in the beautiful redwoods of Northern California. Though we moved closer to San Francisco for my son’s treatment, my heart still loves the wilder northern coastline and the smells of the beautiful forests. Growing up in that beauty inspired a deep love of being in nature. I enjoy taking my children out biking and hiking, carrying my youngest on my back and hitting the trails together with friends. But our journey these past few years has left me feeling less at home in any place and more convinced that home can be anywhere as long as I’m with my loved ones.
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
I recently listened to a book called “A Long Walk to Water”, based on the true story of one of the lost boys of Sudan. I was so inspired that after enduring so much suffering, and then being able to go to America and live with a family and start college, he chose to go back to serve and put in wells in remote villages where he was from.
Another book I enjoyed recently was “Adorning the Dark” by Andrew Peterson. The subtitle of the book is: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making. Isn’t that a fascinating line in and of itself? Though he is an author and songwriter, I found his story and ponderings interesting and applicable to any art form.
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
My mom didn’t sew, but she provided me with a couple of children’s books on sewing and a simple machine. I think my very first items were hand sewn needle books, and then I remember sewing round drawstring bags with pockets for my treasures. Then I started making clothing for my dolls, and I remember being so proud when I found the perfect fabric and recreated an outfit that I had seen in the American Doll magazine to gift to my sister for her doll. I worked hard and won my first sewing machine at our county fair when I was 13 or 14 years old. It was a beautiful basic Husqvarna that served me well for many years.
Who are your muses and inspiration?
Bonnie Christine inspires me to be intentional with my goals. Her own story has greatly encouraged me, and I appreciate her welcoming heart toward other creatives. When I discovered quality European knit fabric a few years ago, I also became aware of so many talented European seamstresses and designers. I am in awe of everything @Rabaukowitsch makes. Her attention to detail is incredible. I’ve enjoyed learning to sew German patterns and am currently working on a couple by @Lotteundludwig. I find a lot of inspiration from German and Nordic design. If you were to browse my saved folder on my Instagram the vast majority are Euro designers, knitters, seamstresses, and artists whose talent I only dream of emulating.
Do you have a community of crafters/ makers around you or do you find you are on your own?
Though I still feel late to the party as far as social media goes, I have found so many wonderful online communities! After plodding along being primarily self-taught, I discovered Facebook sewing groups when my middle son was a baby, and my skills began to skyrocket! Surrounding myself with so many talented makers had such a big impact. Instagram came even later for me, and now I have an overabundance of inspiration and I just love the community of makers on there. I hope to connect with more local makers as time goes on and as my boys get a little older.
How important is it to make something with your hands?
It has always been important to me to work with my hands. I think my dad had a part in that. He’d often say, “don’t buy that, you can learn to make it.” I still find myself with that same mindset. Though it began out of a desire to save money as a young mom (the first thing I made on my serger was all my son’s diapers), I now can probably admit that the joke which says, “why buy it for $7 when you can make it yourself for $92 in craft supplies?” rings true with my creative journey.
From there my mindset expanded into really appreciating the sustainability of it. When I take the time to make a garment myself, I start to think a little deeper about the consumer mindset in America. It makes me pause at that $7 garment in the store and suddenly wonder how it costs so little. Whose hands made it? What were they paid? Can they feed their family on that wage? Do they enjoy their work? It becomes harder to partake in that and I often choose to forgo the item in the store and instead go home and re-make an old garment or sew something from my fabric stash.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is in the things I would still have tomorrow if today I lost everything. Life is full of temporary successes and temporary hardships. A wonderful job could be lost tomorrow. One could have a beautiful home and tomorrow it could be destroyed. Tomorrow could bring a cancer diagnosis. For us it was our 5 year old being diagnosed with cancer. What would I still have tomorrow if I lost those things? The person I am on the inside is what I have, and my precious family. I am a Christian, and it is my faith in Jesus that is most important to me, and the reason that I am willing to forgo having a career in order to teach my children the hope and joy that I’ve found in Him. I have more ambitions now than ever. But I hold them with an open hand and would give them up all over again in order to raise my 3 boys to be men of good character. To be able to live with grace and gratitude no matter what I face in life would be a success.
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
I chose to make the Fringe Dress by Chalk + Notch patterns. The climate is so mild where I live, with a brief winter and most of the year sunny and warm. Even now in November we’re being teased with what feels like Spring. I love sewing staple pieces that can be layered in various ways.
Sewing linen was a brand-new venture for me this year! Moving to a warmer area left me a little less interested in the beautiful merino knits I had been sewing, and I decided it was time to dabble with linen. I’ve made a couple pairs of shorts, pants, and a jumpsuit for myself, as well as rompers and shirts for my boys. A linen dress was next and I’m in love.