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was about bread making. First of all, I want to thank you for all your comments yesterday, negative or positive. I hope my choice of the word failure wasn’t misconstrued. I think failure is a good thing and as one commenter wrote on my Facebook page, “How can you succeed without failure.” In any case, your feedback was encouraging and I thank you a thousand times over and over. Okay, now back to bread making. I didn’t make bread (I’m a horrible baker) this week but I read about “the cult prince of American bread making” – Chad Robertson and his eateries, Tartine Bakery & Cafe and Bar Tartine. Featured in this month’s Vogue magazine, Tartine, which is located in San Francisco, churns out 240 loaves a day and within an hour, they’re all gone. Yeh, the bread’s that gooey and good.

It wasn’t a typical article for the magazine and it definitely wasn’t a typical read for me but I was feeling different on the Saturday morning that I read it. His philosophies for making bread – how to prepare the dough and how to work it with your hands – was something that I could apply to sewing. The paragraph that caught me went like this, “His movements are so fluid and measured that you hardly notice how many intricate steps it takes to get a loaf from a banneton, a stiff straw basket lined with Belgian linen, into the oven.” Then the author of the article quotes Chad as saying, “I’m trying to steer it, not manhandle it. I know what I want the dough to do, and I’m trying to help it get there.” The paragraph ends with a description of how he treats each loaf of bread differently – incising one with a pattern, slicing another with double edged razor blade, and cutting snips into another with sewing scissors.

“Steering” the dough to where he wants it to be – isn’t that interesting? Rather than taking the driver’s seat, he sits as a passenger and points the dough in the right direction and to its final destination. I have always believed that a good seamstress has a “hand” with fabric. You can often notice it when they lay chiffon fabric on a flat surface before cutting – they pat, shake, and shuffle the fabric into place with ease and without force. Instead of “manhandling” a 2D piece of fabric into a 3D garment, what if we took a passive role and “steered” it in the right direction. The fabric is going to do it’s thing and we need to know its properties in order to shape it correctly, but we’re not the ones shaping it, we’re the ones helping the fabric shape itself with stitches, steam, iron, etc.

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  1. Reply


    Great post Maddie! I’m sure anyone who crafts things with their hands can relate.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Absolutely – every artist must steer their medium to what it should become

  2. Reply


    Bread and sewing – Who would have know? I really like how well the analogy fits to sewing — or to crafting anything for that matter, like Sallie said.
    Happy weekend!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Bread and sewing, who knew? You’re right on that one. I love making connections between hobbies and this one was definitely perfectly suited to sewing

  3. Reply

    Carlee McTavish

    Love the analogy. If you can sew, you can follow directions. And if you can follow directions, you can bake. Do you have a mixer with a dough hook at all? The hardest part to get down is kneading. If you’re brave enough I have a great recipe to start with 🙂

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I am a horrible baker. No joke. I handle fabric and other artistic mediums well and I’m sticking to that. Good for creativity and my waistline!

      • Reply

        Carlee McTavish

        Well if you ever change your mind, let me know! 🙂

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