Small Town Summertime Sewing Link-Up!

I am so excited to be linking up with one of my blogging friends today!

As soon as I saw that Tami from SewSophieLynn was hosting a Small Town Summertime Sewing Link-Up I knew it would be my cup of tea…. Or should I say “tall glass of ice cold strawberry lemonade served in a mason jar with a red and white striped straw?” We’ll stick with cup of tea. That’s shorter.





I haven’t always been a small town girl. In fact I grew up in one of the largest cities in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong – even when you grow up in a large city, you have your own local culture to appreciate. I love city and suburban life – I really do- but there just is something special about a small town on a hot summer day, isn’t there?

I still remember right after our honeymoon, we drove from my parents’ house on the West coast to the Upper Midwest. We stopped in a small town in Nebraska so we would have space to park our U-Haul. I stepped out of the cab, and I literally felt a small town for the first time.

The heavy, humid Midwestern air that filled my lungs that night. The sound of firecrackers and children’s laughter reminded us that 4th of July was near. The local main street quiet because business hours were long over. We walked around town holding hands hearing no noises except the crickets, sprinklers, and the occasional panting of dogs being walked by their owners. We saw people smiling and nodding as we passed by and everyone turning to look when we walked into a diner for supper. We were unfamiliar faces in a friendly town.

Just a day or two later, we would pull up into our own small town of just under 5,000 souls. My home for the last 10 years and 19 days.

Wait, I thought this was a Summertime Sewing Link-Up  – is she ever going to talk about sewing?

YES. Yes, I am.

My journey to small-town living brought me to sewing. It’s not because we small-town folk run around in aprons, gossiping, and trading recipes. It’s because I was newly-married, very-soon-pregnant, and I needed a hobby to take my mind off of being incredibly just a little bit homesick at times. My husband remembered that I had one night mentioned that I would like a sewing machine. To this day, I do not remember this conversation but I am so glad that he did!

He walked into our house on my 23rd birthday. I was nursing my 7-week-old baby daughter. He had an enormous box and a big grin. My parents had taken his suggestion and surprised me with a sewing machine and he had managed to keep it hidden in his office so I wouldn’t find out. When my parents came to town a few days later for my daughter’s baptism, my mom showed me how to thread it.

And guess what: I still remember going with my mom to our small town department store to buy fabric because I had NONE to test the machine on. ::CRICKETS CHIRPING::

Yes, there was a time I had no fabric.

The sewing bug kicked in slowly with me. Very slowly. I did simple utilitarian projects mainly using online tutorials. When my little daughters started getting bigger, I remember buying my first PDF pattern off of etsy in 2010 or so. I still remember waiting for my files to be e-mailed to me! Even with the wait, this was amazing as I lived 40 miles from any store that sold paper patterns. I could stay in my small town and have more time to sew during naptime.

Over the next several years, my love for sewing would grow. In 2014, after the birth of my 4th baby, it became part of my every day life as I slowly moved to making most of my children’s clothing and much of mine. It is my outlet in the chaos.

I am so appreciate of Tami for giving me this opportunity to reflect a bit on “Small Town Sewing.” Her intention was that we would feature and event and the outfits we wear to them. However, our summer has been a bit crazy, so this is my recap of a few projects I made for small town events the past two years.


You’ve already seen this years’ 4th of July outfits during the Sew Americana Blog Tour. I have made their outfits for several years and I look forward to it annually!

My girls also participated in a new activity this summer and entered our 4H Fashion Revue. They both sewed Little Miss Sunshine tee shirts and Big Miss also made a Spunky Skater Skirt. Both patterns are from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop.

4H Fashion Revue

4H Fashion Revue 2016


Little man was a bit jealous while they were being interviewed, so he demanded his own picture on the stage, too.

Classic Ringer PAB


I do want to share one of my older posts with you. Unfortunately, summer flew by and we can’t go back this year, but we had a blast last year at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Family Festival in Walnut Grove, MN. I made my daughters Laura costumes and my oldest won Laura Look-a-like! You can read all about this special trip here, and the costumes I made here.

Middle Miss Big Miss Laura-contest-2015-102
You might be wondering at this point why I included a little personal back story to this post as well as posted a few Small Town Summer Time Sewing related projects from the past. I had originally planned to share a different project with you, but summer storms, special events, and lots of running around with the kids this summer meant it is not finished.

I am going to leave you with a little teaser though. Sewing children’s clothing will always be my first sewing love, but I decided to truly embrace one of the time-honored crafts of my small town, and work on my first “real” quilt this summer. We have a very lovely and friendly local quilt shop and quilters’ guilds in the area. While quilting may not be my crafting love language, I have many talented friends who make beautiful quilts. I decided I wanted to give one a go to see if I liked it, too. Summer is the perfect time to try something new, isn’t it?

I did not quite get it done – I am slow with new things and apparently “quick quilts” are not so quick when they are your first one. I can’t wait to show the finished one for you in a few weeks! One of my daughters has already laid claim to it and her birthday is just around the corner!




Thank you for stopping by today and be sure to visit the other bloggers linking up!

Tami at SewSophieLynn

Cassy at Pearberry Lane

Melissa at Made by Melli

Karly at Paisley Roots







  1. mary | 22nd Jul 16

    Wow – what a beautiful quilt! That is going to be gorgeous. Looking forward to seeing it finished too.

  2. Tami | 22nd Jul 16

    Oh Eleri! I loved this post! Such a treat to read about your sewing journey and your small town life. If only I could come join you for a glass of lemonade!

    • MadebyEleri | 22nd Jul 16

      Thank you!

      I still have days where I miss the city, but I mostly love our more relaxed lifestyle here. And time for sewing!

  3. Felicia | 22nd Jul 16

    I love that you’re making a quilt! I keep chicken ing out!

    • MadebyEleri | 22nd Jul 16

      Thank you, Felicia! It’s been really fun and challenging. All those seams!

  4. Karly Nelson | 22nd Jul 16

    This is an awesome post. Your costumes are amazing and I can see why your daughter won! I can’t wait to see your blanket all finished!

  5. Small Town Summer Sewing | 22nd Jul 16

    […] Sew and Tell Project […]

  6. Cassy Gobin | 22nd Jul 16

    “apparently “quick quilts” are not so quick when they are your first one”…..Hahahaha! Probably the exact reason I have never tried one! Good luck and I do so love your fabric choices. It’s going to be lovely when you get it finished.

    • MadebyEleri | 22nd Jul 16

      Yup! Although I’m learning as I go how to get more cut at once, how to do more work assembly style…. Part of me wasn’t committed to the size and design I chose so I didn’t do things in the most logical order!

  7. Amy | 25th Jul 16

    I love it! I was born in Missoula (400+K), lived in Turrialba, Costa Rica, and finally settled in a small (12K) town in Eastern Oregon growing up. With the exception of college in Spokane, I have never, as an adult, lived in a town with more than 20K people. There’s just something different about being able to walk down the street and run into someone you know. I grew up sewing with my mom and then 4H . . . so many fashion reviews . . . I love that your daughters are 4H-ers! It’s something that I think is so very beneficial, and all three of my girls participate, as well! Thank you for sharing!

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