The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Renaissance, Part 2

Me: “Ren, do you want any kinds of decorations on your witch hat?”

Renaissance: “Maybe?”

Me: [buys an ungodly amount of fake fall foliage on my next trip to JoAnn Fabrics]

Renaissance, upon seeing the loot: “Wow, you sure bought a lot of that stuff.”

Me: [grinning maniacally] “You wanna watch YouTube videos with me about how to decorate witch hats?”

Renaissance: [hesitates] “Um…sure, why not?”

[We watch aforementioned videos]

Renaissance: “Awww man, now I wish I’d chosen a more complicated witch persona! Those hats were cool!”

[We fuss with her hat, trying to figure out how we want it to sit]

Renaissance: “It’s too floppy.”

Me: “We can try to add something to make it stand up more.”

Renaissance: “Like what?”

Me: [scans the craft room] “Corset boning?”



The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Rachel

Me: “What do you want to be for Halloween, Rachel?”

Rachel: “I don’t know.”

Me: “I honestly didn’t think I’d get that answer from you, of all people.”

Rachel: “Probably some sort of witch.”

Me: “OK, well, Ren’s going to be a 1950s witch; what kind of witch do you want to be?”

Rachel: “Maybe something along the lines of an Instagram influencer witch aesthetic?”

Me: [raises eyebrow] “Okaaaaay…and what does that look like?”

Rachel: [brow furrows] “It’s hard to explain.”

Me: “Well, let’s search a witch hashtag on Instagram and you tell me which ones look like what you’re thinking of.”

[We look at witch hashtags. Rachel says nothing.]

Me: “Any of these what you’re thinking?”

Rachel: “No. There’s too many crystals and too much eyeliner.”

Me: “Well, that’s kind of what the Instagram witch aesthetic is.”

Rachel: “…”

Me: “How about we look on Amazon for costume ideas?”

Rachel: [shrugs shoulders] “OK.”

[We pull up Amazon and start to scroll through costumes]

Rachel: “Ooooh, Katniss Everdeen!”

Me: [adds to cart]

The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Emms

Me: “Emms, what do you want to be for Halloween?”

Emms: “The same thing I always am.”

Me: “Do you want me to make any extra accessories for your costume?”

Emms: [left the room while I was talking]

The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Nathaniel

Me: “Nathaniel, what do you want to be for Halloween?”

Nathaniel: [flops onto ground and starts convulsing]

Me: [watches]

Nathaniel: [stops twitching]

Me: “An electrocuted dude?”

Nathaniel: [laughs] “Nope!”

Me: “…”

Nathaniel: [grins in anticipation]

Me: “…Kind of hard to guess off of what you’ve given me so far.”

Nathaniel: “A pig!”

Me: [stares blankly at the child that will carry on my husband’s family’s name] “Alright.”

The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Renaissance, Part 1

Me: “Ren, what do you want to be for Halloween?”

Renaissance: [shrugs shoulders] “Meh.”

Me: “Does that mean you don’t want to dress up for Halloween?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [inhales and exhales slowly] “Please use English words to convey what thoughts are going through your brain right now regarding this year’s Halloween costume.”

Renaissance: “I don’t know. Maybe a witch?”

Me: “I can do witch. What kind of witch?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [has an aneurysm explode in my brain] “I’m going to restate my request for actual words.”

Renaissance: “How about a 1950s witch?”

Me: [heart skips a beat as ears perk up] “That’s…oddly specific? What’s the vision?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [death glare]

Renaissance: “How about a cat or a pumpkin on a circle skirt?”

Me: “I can do that.”

Mini Charm Chiffon Quilt

I love how this one turned out! Fat Quarter Shop is releasing a new pattern called the Mini Charm Chiffon Quilt and it is PERFECT for quick little baby quilts. Just four Mini Charm packs and some background fabric and you’re good to go!

I chose to use the “Flowers for Freya” fabric collection by Linzee McCray because I absolutely love the color palette that she uses in her collections. It was a few little sewing sessions and then it was done! It finishes at 36.5 inches square, which is a great size for a new baby quilt. Excellent for baby shower gifting!

You can download the FREE quilt pattern by clicking here. It includes instructions for crib-, lap-, twin-, and queen-sized quilts.

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for inviting me to participate in this little sew along! You can subscribe to receive a notification when the quilt kit becomes available–shipping delays have impacted when the sample fabric will be available. (Also, they sent me the fabric to sew up in exchange for my time and posts–transparency and all.)

And thank you to Rachel for being my quilt model on this one:

There’s also a new video out about this pattern:

Embroidering my Historical Pocket

While my foot continues to heal, I’m limited in my crafting abilities to hand projects because it’s difficult to operate a sewing machine pedal in a boot. No worries, my desire to start assembling historical ensembles means that a lot of things I want to make are perfectly suited for hand sewing due to the fact that sewing machines either weren’t invented or not widely used in domestic spheres for the periods I’m interpreting.

I’ve decided to start working on a pair of pockets for my 1850s ensemble. Have you ever heard the nursery rhyme about Lucy Locket losing her pocket?

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
Not a penny was there in it,
Only ribbon ’round it.

I was always puzzled by it as a child, but it turns out that pockets used to be detachable items of clothing, tied around your waist under your skirts. And yes, sometimes those ties could come undone and your pocket could get lost.

Historical pocket embroidery transfer by Cara Brooke of That Crafty Cara. Pattern is from Godey's Lady's Book, October 1853.

There are many historical examples of pockets in museums, and a lot of them have beautiful embroidery. I love a chance to practice my embroidery skills, so I’m going to embroider my pockets as well.

I’ve chosen an embroidery pattern that was published in the October 1853 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book because my 1850s ensemble that I’m making is for a character that lived in Washington Territory in 1855 and would be a little behind on fashions due to slowness of mail delivery. (Let’s be honest here, though–a middle-aged mother of four in any era of history would probably not worry about pocket embroidery at all because yeesh, feeding and clothing your family was hard back then and I wouldn’t be using my time to make my invisible articles of clothing more pretty. Or, maybe it’d be a nice little thing I’d do for myself, finding snippets of time to embroider by candlelight? I like to think about that while I’m working on this.)

I’ve been slowly working on the embroidery, and this pocket has turned into a pocket embroidery “sampler” as I figure out my embroidery likes and dislikes. It’s a good piece to practice and experiment on, and I’m hopeful that my embroidery skills will be much improved by the end of this project. I started with Pinterest tutorials, but hated how they were looking, so I dug out a book on needlepainting by Trish Burr and started working according to her instructions. I like the needlepainting portions much more than the random Pinterest embroidery technique sections.

It seems that most people wore two pockets, so I’ll eventually have to make another. Extant examples of pocket pairs tend to match, but I don’t think I have enough interest in me to do this pattern again–I’m still trying to pump myself up to mirror the image on this particular pocket and stitch it again. Another two times after that?!?! It’s a no from me. Maybe I’ll do the other pocket in that grape vine pattern sharing the page? Or maybe I’ll get lost in researching more embroidery patterns from the era and choose from those! (Probably that last one…because I really enjoy reading through historical ladies’ magazines.)

The embroidery process thus far:

More embroidery awaits! This might be set aside for a little while, though; one of my kids wants a very specific look for their Halloween costume this year, and I’m going to have to sew some of it up myself.

More info on historical pockets:

On the Future of “That Crafty Cara”

My blogging experience began on a different blog where I chronicled daily life with my young children. It evolved into a homeschooling blog as they aged into homeschooling. Then the horrific back injury happened, my children started attending public school, and my homeschooling blog…didn’t fit anymore. I tried to force it to become a lifestyle blog, but I was in no shape for that sort of topic because I was basically bedridden and it’s hard to showcase your cooking and decorating skills when you’re mostly just watching Netflix in one of two locations in your home as you heal. Once I got strong enough to sit in a chair, I started piecing quilts because it was one of the few things that I liked enough to actually motivate me to get out of bed and push through the discomfort and pain of regaining those muscles.

I blogged about my quilting adventures on my dusty homeschooling/lifestyle blog for a bit before deciding to do a clean break and start a new blog devoted entirely to my creative pursuits. I got super lucky and Fat Quarter Shop sent me an email about six months into my “I’m going to be a legit craft blogger” experiment, asking me if I wanted to participate in a sew along series. I first saw the email while I was sitting my van in a Walmart parking lot, and I could not drive home for a few minutes because I was sobbing big, fat, excited tears. I was absolutely delighted! And I’ve done sew alongs with them off and on through the past six years. I am very proud of that partnership.

The ambassadorship for Blank Quilting last year was EPIC. So much fun in a much needed time–being stuck at home with nowhere to go and boxes of fabric showing up on my doorstep every other month? Um, yes please!

But, if you noticed, I stopped doing those collaborations after my (amazing) September quilt. There was a lot of other stuff going on behind the scenes in the Brooke home throughout 2020, and it just reached an all-out overwhelm by October, so I had to resign from the Blank Quilting ambassadorship, which absolutely broke my heart. And since then, I’ve been working on patching up all the things that went sideways. It’s been a long year since then, and I’ve been very busy with physical therapy and tending to other things that I don’t want to talk about in this space. AND I finally went all-out on a flower garden, which I enjoyed immensely. (But whew…gardens are intense!)

And I’ve been wondering throughout this entire past year what I should do with That Crafty Cara. Keep plugging along as a craft hobbyist and use this space to showcase my projects? Knuckle down and attempt to turn it into a moneymaking endeavor? Walk away?

While I was weeding and pondering, I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to walk away, but that my focus needed some adjusting because my focus as a crafter has shifted. I niched down hard on quilting in 2015, but I didn’t include “quilting” in my online handles because I knew that I wasn’t “just” a quilter. I am an all-around creative, and I knew that eventually I’d want to shift to something else and take a break from quilting. Hence the choice of “crafty” to describe myself, and not “quilty.”

But I’ve been afraid to lean into that shift because I’ve been afraid I’d lose followers and opportunities to do cool stuff with cool quilt-related brands. Quilts have been my thing for the past six years. So I’ve tried to force it this year, et voila, I haven’t been motivated to do anything creative. It could be the state of the world and all the burnout from dealing with that, it could be that we have a lot of quilt tops in our house that need quilting and I’m overwhelmed by them, it could be that I like to cycle through my interests, and it could be that, spoiler alert, I’m a human being who likes to explore new things.


…consider this my declaration to the world and myself/apology letter that I’m going to do a little bit of exploring in the next little while. There may be very little quilt content going on, or I might start working on them again in a month because I am relieving myself of the pressure to perform, and, by indulging in this act, it suddenly allows the quilty mojo to return. Who knows?

If the events of the last eighteen months have taught me anything, it’s that the only person’s happiness I have control over is my own. And if something is feeling “off,” that’s reason enough to pause and explore why that feeling is happening.


…let’s press pause and do that.

Where should I start first?