Babies, books, and going on dates!

Natalie Maxwell maggie whitley

Where in the world have the last two years and four months GONE? Max and Natalie are growing like adorable weeds (comparison photo from last month) and more & more often at night I find myself choking up while putting them to bed. They are so precious and fun to be around, I am loving their current ages so much. I don’t know what’s better, seeing Max walk over to Natalie so he can cup her cheeks and coo in her face, or watching her eyes light up as Max talks to her. They are both absolutely amazing.

Natalie Maxwell maggie whitley

We’ve been going to the park in the morning nearly every day, which I’m all HELLO, three hour naps — for both of them! (#momwin) Their long naps mean I can sit down with a book and basically watch the clock tick by, a dream! I put together a list of recent books I’ve read, but I’d love to know in the comments below any suggestions you have for me to read next. For our August book club read we’re reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I started listening to this via audio book and it’s pretty darn great. I can’t wait to go through our apartment and make some changes ;) Watch out Zack.

date zack maggie whitley

And speaking of Zack, he took me on a super fun date last weekend. We stopped for burgers & beer before grabbing an order of ice-cream and eating it on the beach. And you guys, what a treat it was to be alone with him for three hours! (We do babysitting/date swaps with friends.) During that time there were no diaper changes, no one ate sand, and no one fought over beach toys. But we did laugh a lot, and it felt like we were 18 again ;) I loved our date so much, SO MUCH HAPPY!

This weekend we’re heading to the beach as a family (any bets on who’ll eat sand first?), and I’m going on a solo run Saturday morning, which I’ve been looking forward to all week. How about you?

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The difference between Gussy Sews & Caroline-made.

caroline made gussy sews maggie whitley

I received a really great question on Instagram the other day about my two shops, and I thought it was so good that I’m going to answer it here on my blog.

What is the difference between Gussy Sews & Caroline-made?

Gussy Sews is my original handmade shop, the one I started almost seven years ago when we were living in Detroit. Nearly all of the products under this name include our signature ruffle, something I added back in the early stages as a way to set my handmade products apart from other shops/designs. I love the softness the ruffle adds to each product and that they are hand-ruffled (meaning I don’t use a Ruffle Foot on my machine to gather the material). Gussy Sews is an outward example of “you can learn and do hard things” inspiration. The fabrics I use are mostly quilting cotton, are full of color & vibrancy, and carry a cheerful vibe. Gussy Sews’ tagline: bright, colorful tote bags & accessories.

Caroline-made is the “big sister” shop to Gussy Sews and began in 2014. I had a vision for this shop for years prior to launching early last year, so it was a real dream to bring it to fruition while still living in Los Angeles. My goal with CM is to create a product that carries sophistication in it’s designs, while continuing to embrace my love for color. Simple differences, like stitching a suede label to the front side of each product and using (gorgeous) metal YKK zippers have been so fun. I use exclusive designer fabrics, something I absolutely love offering. Caroline-made’s tagline: pretty accessories for the modern, sophisticated gal. By the way, Caroline is my middle name and holds much of my inspiration for opening this shop.

caroline made gussy sews maggie whitley

The differences between the shop are small but mighty, for sure. I’m so glad a reader asked for more information because I totally agree, what sets Gussy Sews apart from Caroline-made may be unclear at first glance, but the overall aesthetic is hugely different.

Here are two more Cliff Notes differences: Gussy Sews features ruffles and a crazy (fun) amount of color, Caroline-made is a gorgeous mix of sophistication and style.

And in case you’re curious, I’ve written even more about my handmade story here, including how I learned how to sew, the moves my family has experienced (MI, MN, CA), and traveling to Tanzania, Africa with Compassion International in 2012.

PS. One of the products featured in this post will be released exclusively to my email newsletter community — exciting! To learn WHEN and HOW to buy, along with general Gussy Sews & Caroline-made shop updates, join here:

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MAKE IT: hand-painted lyric art

MAKE IT: hand-painted lyric art | Maggie Whitley Designs

Having personalized artwork in our home is where the, “I really love our home” magic happens. When we moved to Los Angeles in 2012 from Minneapolis we brought with us a tiny selection of home decorating favorites. We didn’t have room in our Jeep for much, so what we brought here either rode with us across the country or fit into a shipped box. Next time we move across the country, I’m totally making sure we have room for this hand-painted lyric art ;) I love it so much, mostly because the lyrics are from my very favorite song, Insomniac by Billy Pilgram. (Back when we were in college and dating, Zack sang in a male a capella group, and this song quickly became my favorite.)

hand-painted lyric art maggie whitley

It was super easy to make this lyric art, and took a couple of hours from start to finish.

SUPPLIES NEEDED: firm paint brush, black acrylic paint, plate & aluminum foil (or paint palette), painters tape, tape measure, a large wooden board or canvas (ours measures 4 feet x 3 feet).

OPTIONAL: a drill, hanging rope, and a heavy-duty picture frame hanger for hanging the sign (double check weight/strength before hanging).

I started by creating horizontal lines across the board with the painters tape. Beginning at the top, I spaced each line out about 5″ and continued all the way down to the bottom. To help keep the lines straight, I measured 5″ on the left and right sides, making sure the measurements (and my tape lines) matched. Then I quickly practiced “air” writing the lyrics to get a general idea of how much spacing was needed, and how many words I could fit on each line. I decided I wanted to end each line with a full word, but you could add a dash at the syllable break if you want the words to flow endlessly from line to line.

I then practiced writing a couple of letters on my plate covered in aluminum foil to get a feel for the brush strokes. I did not hand draw the lyrics on the wood before painting. I thought about doing this, but then decided the letters wouldn’t look like my natural handwriting if they were pre-drawn, so I decided to opt out.

Next up: start painting! I dipped my brush in the paint, and hoped for the best as I worked on the first line :) The entire process of this project was so fun & easy, and I think “Y”s and “G”s were my favorite letters to paint on the wood. There are a couple of letters that didn’t turn out how I had hoped, but that was OK — I wasn’t looking for perfection.

hand-painted lyric art maggie whitley

I wrote more and more and more words, dipping my brush into the paint often and thinking back on the years Zack and I spent together prior to getting married. Working on this project flooded my mind with so many happy events, that may have been the best part of this entire project!

hand-painted lyric art maggie whitley

The song lyrics were pulled up on my computer, and as I was painting I was checking them constantly to make sure I was copying them over correctly :) I noticed the first few letters had the best saturation of paint, and the longer I painted the lighter the letters became. At first I was constantly re-dipping my brush into the paint, but soon decided my words looked the best like my handwriting when I kept going. I made sure the second coat of paint over the letters covered up any gaps. Some letters even needed a third look-over.

hand-painted lyric art maggie whitley

After the first draft was painted on I went over everything a second time, like I mentioned above, focusing on the starting points of each letter and filling in any weak areas. Once everything was completely dry (which took a couple of hours), I pulled the painters tape off — I was done!

hand-painted lyric art maggie whitley

Zack drilled two holes at the top so I could loop a hanging rope through, then my hand-painted lyric art was ready to hang.

hand-painted lyric art maggie whitley

Right now it faces our bed, but in months past it’s been a part of Maxwell’s nursery collection. It’s a great lullaby, and admittedly the kids hear it ofter at bedtime :)

hand-painted lyric art maggie whitley

I think if I did this project over I’d find a skinnier roll of painters tape so the line spacing wasn’t so large (it’s about 1″). The words also feel a little big, but I think they are the right size considering the project as a whole.

Instead of hand-painting lyrics, what if you wrote a monologue about a memory or feelings towards someone? Much inspiration can be drawn from this simple DIY, and I love so much all of the imperfections of this sign. It’s a natural reflection of our relationship; for life in general. True perfection is hard to find, but there is beauty throughout and it deserves to be noticed.

hand-painted lyric art maggie whitley

And in case you’re interested, here is the a capella version of the song that inspired this project…

Let me know if you make a hand-painted sign for your home? Happy painting!

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New products inside the Gussy Sews shop!

gussy sews maggie whitley

There are three new medium zip pouches inside the Gussy Sews shop! All are ready-to-ship, and all feature our signature ruffle :)

gussy sews maggie whitley

I found some great colors to work with: midnight blue, mustard, coral; cherry red, blush pink, lavender; vintage flowers of blue, pink, green & yellow.

gussy sews maggie whitley

But, this one might be my very favorite.

Gussy Sews products are handmade in Los Angeles in small batches. Click here to shop >>

PS. A few weeks ago I decided it was time to start sewing again, and this one small (big?) change has been just what I needed as a creative mama. I’m so glad I listened to my intuition and re-joined the handmade community.

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