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Now is about the time on the calendar when we collectively push off on a slip-and-slide through the holidays and hurtle towards the year’s end. Everywhere you look there’s advice on how to cook the moistest, look the sparkliest, and give the shiniest. Expectations are set very high. We’re reminded to be thankful for one Thursday in November and then it’s off to the races or rather the shopping center.

Sonya is wearing: Margot by Linden Down (modified) in Ashford Tekapo 8 Ply; 100 Acts of Sewing Dress no. 2; denim pants (own pattern).

Gratitude shouldn’t be an isolated blip. It’s a personal subject and essentially introspective. For me, it’s a means of pressing pause on how you wish things could be or questioning why they are a certain way. This might be different from the brassier and hashtaggier form of gratitude that’s a close cousin to the humble brag. It doesn’t have to read like a top ten list of achievements, complete with brushstroke calligraphy. I am thankful for the things that made me struggle and helped me find out who I am.

Icing Swirl Hat by Ysolda Teague in Misti Alpaca Chunky; Knitting Pure & Simple pattern #9724  in Pigeon Roof Studio Superwash Merino Worsted; Simple Skirt; and 100 Acts of Sewing Pants no. 2.

When I was a teenager, I longed to fit in and wanted to emulate what I saw portrayed on television and in movies. My freckles, my hair color, and my weight were just some of the things I didn’t like about myself. All attributes which younger me perceived as impediments to acquiring the “right” look. It’s quite natural to desire what you don’t have, so much so that a large degree of marketing depends on exploiting this very human foible.

Gold Rush Shawl by Amy Christoffers in Rowanspun DK; modified Featherweight by Hannah Fettig in A Verb for Keeping Warm Farm Series Alpaca Corriedale; long sleeve shirt (own pattern); Dress no. 1; and Pants no. 1.

Anyone who has freckles finds themselves, at one time or another at the receiving end of taunts like Freckle Face, much like the way a kid wearing glasses must endure the label Four Eyes. I didn’t like the smattering of dots, but nor did I like the unrecognizable face in the mirror after a coat of foundation snuck from my mother’s makeup bag. Clearly, I was not someone who would wear full makeup everyday. I learned to live with my freckles, as I’ve also come to value what makes me different.

 Scoop Neck Cardigan by Debbie Bliss in Noro Silk Garden; Tunic no. 1; modified Dress no. 2; and Pants no. 2.

Accepting my life and growing older are both very much intertwined. I decided ten years ago to embrace my body size and stop hiding in my clothes until I lost weight, opting instead to have fun, and choosing colors and prints as a way to broadcast this. Wearing combinations of my hand knit scarves and sweaters with thrift store finds eventually led to sewing garments. I am truly thankful for these crafts that bring so much to my life, in both functionality as well as creative expression.

Springtime Bandit by Kate Gagnon Osborn in Clara Yarn Great White Bale 3; modified Dress no. 2; Pants no. 1; and socks (own pattern) in Nimbus Self Striping Sock Yarn by Trailing Clouds.

Would I have started knitting and sewing if I weighed less and didn’t have freckles? Maybe, but I’m glad for them all the same.


P.S. from Kay and Ann: Holiday shopping list interfering with your hot chocolate sipping? We’ve got some suggestions, including things that don’t need a stitch of knitting, over at the MDK Holiday Shop.

About The Author

Sonya Philip is an artist, designer, teacher, and the author of The Act of Sewing. She has made it her mission to convince people to make their own clothes, by teaching classes and selling patterns. When not covered in bits of thread, she can be found knitting another shawl or cardigan. Sonya lives in San Francisco with her family and their scruffy terrier duo, Willie and Hazel.


  • Every time I see “Wear What You Make” in my e-mail I get excited to see what the heck Sonya is wearing now. These are the best yet. The third picture is my favorite; that long sleeved shirt is amazing and the whole thing just sings. Go Sonya!

    • Thank you so much, that makes me so happy to hear! And YES for long sleeve stripes.

  • Sonya, I am certain that whatever your body size and shape, you would have found your way to a self created wardrobe because the clothes that make you feel, and look, happy are one of a kind. Your unique gift has been to know yourself and find a way to create a wardrobe which is in harmony with who you are. And isn’t that what we should all aim for?

    • You’re very kind Ellen, thank you. And knowing myself, so true. It is indeed a gift.

  • Love, love! Everyone gets ridiculed in middle school. You could be “perfect”– whatever that is– and certain people find something to pick at. It’s really more about them and their insecurities than you, anyway, but can take a lifetime living with the scars to realize that. I love your style and thankful to MDK for showing it off. Especially the handknits!

    • Thank you Melanie. That’s really true, insecurities can be so isolating – then you find out you’re not alone and everyone has their hang ups.

  • I absolutely love your style, your styling of outfits, your individual pieces and patterns and fabric… all of it! What a wonderful thing to have found what makes your heart sing. I am still a work in progress…. but you are inspiring me with every article you write!!

    • Thank you, so happy to hear you enjoy it!

  • Sonya: Thank you for the gift of insight. I am going to take this statement forward: “I am thankful for the things that made me struggle and helped me find out who I am.” At a minimum I will add it to my list of quotes – – but to do it real justice I might want to embroider it on a pillow that I can see every day!

    • Thank you Beth! I have a list of quotes too and it makes me absolutely beam that you find my words inspiring.

  • Feeling comfortable in one’s skin is an achievement and a blessing. I love how you are your own canvas. You are an artist, through and through. And the bonus for all of us is that you write beautifully as well. XOClare

    • Thank you so much Clare ❤️

  • From one freckleface to another…I finally found my “style” and myself. Love how you put all your wonderful clothes together. I have always tried to have as much fun with my clothes as you do, but only lately, as I grow older, am I really just letting go and doing,
    Thanks for all you do, and all your great patterns, and all the sweaters you wear that I didn’t know about but now do.

    • Frecklefaces of the world unite! Thank you so much Jane.

  • I also grew up with freckles, and with glasses. And I moved to a new school in the fourth grade. So I understand about teasing and more so bullying. It takes a while to accept yourself for who you are and to find content and happiness. I am grateful that at 54 I have found that place.

    For what it’s worth, I also love seeing your blog and when I find emails or articles from and about you. I plan on making some clothing from your patterns after the first of the year and I’m grateful that you have taken the time to share this with everyone else!

    • Thank you Kym, that’s so sweet of you. I’m happy to hear you’re going to make some clothes – it’s a great plan for the new year. And hurrah for accepting ourselves!

  • You know the Irish say that freckles are angel kisses.

    • Yes! Angels kisses were what my family would tell me when I would come home upset from school! As an adult I was standing and a grocery store one time and an elderly white-haired man said my God you have a lot of freckles, the angels must have given you a lot of kisses! I replied yes they did the Angels love me! He shocked me because he grabbed each arm by the shoulder and gave me a kiss on each cheek and said so do I sweetheart!

  • Wonderful, Sonya! My childhood insecurity was all about my extreme pallor. My skin resolutely resisted any tan, in an age where “suntan oil” was a thing and “laying out” (it was the South) was what you did as long as you could stand it. Even my sister could get a glow going better than I could. I can’t tell you how often I was embarrassed by my blueish skin, how often I would get comments on it at the beach or pool.

    It was only after college and a couple of killer sunburns that I realized a) nothing was going to get me to be a different color and b) I got religion about sun exposure. We’re the Addams Family now, at peace with our pallor, laying out in the moonlight at the beach!

    • Oh Ann! I was the palest in my family. More freckles and sunburn is what I would get while my family would tan. At peace with our pallor, Amen.

  • Love your style!

    • Thank you!

  • Love the red and your bright smile to go with. All the outfits are terrific and the boots are pretty cool too. You’re such a beautiful inspiration, Sonya!

    • Thank you Annie! You’re so sweet, I do love happy colors like red and pink.

  • I love your style! You inspire me to wear what makes me happiest☆!

    • Thank you Cathy! And hurrah for wearing what makes you happy

  • Freckles are a suntan through a screen door.

    • That’s a new one, clever!

  • You inspired me to start to start making my own clothes! Thank you for your designs and fierce style! Just bought fabric yesterday, and plan to take your classes on Creativebug.

    • I _L O V E_ that Nicole! ❤️

  • The Wear What You Make posts make me so happy! I love seeing your outfits! You say that “wearing combinations of my hand knit scarves and sweaters with thrift store finds eventually led to sewing garments.” I am so with you on the “thrift store plus hand knits” part, but don’t currently have a working sewing machine, which would be so handy, even if only to modify already-sewn garments. Also, I am both big and tall, so it would be nice to have garments that were actually tailored to my long-torsoed, narrow-hipped frame.

    • Thank you Laura, im so glad you enjoy the posts. I’m a big believer in modifying clothes, not only for making them fit our unique bodies, but also as a way to make them last longer. Hope you can get a machine can be up and running soon!

  • Another AWESOME article, Sonya!!!! You always inspire and delight me!! 🙂

    • Thank you so much Gina!

  • Meghan Markle said recently in an interview that her dad used to tell her: “A face without freckles is a night without stars”.

    • Oh, my heart! I love that.

  • My dear Uncle Bob would tease me about my freckles saying I stood too close to the back of a cow! all the while giving one of my pigtails a playful tug! He was ornery and I loved him so.
    Those No. 2 pants are sure intriguing. I need to know how!

    • Oh my goodness! Too close to the back of a cow? I’d never heard of that one! LOL

  • Another winner! I look forward to every post you do here and for the courage you inspire in me. Just within the past year, I decided to embrace my body as it is and started to really have fun with my clothes. I’ve made several of your dresses and have paired them up with my own hand knits. I didn’t use to wear them, as no one in my circle wore “hand knits”. Bah, now I don’t even care because it makes me happy to publicly embrace my creativeness. Now I “wear to be different” with you as my role model. Thank you for sharing with all of us. You are a treasure!

    • Thank you so much Dawn’l, you are so kind. I love that you’ve made my patterns and are pairing them with your hand knits. Embracing your creativity is the way to go and I bet you’re inspiring those people in your circle to wear more color!

  • You are inspiring! I look forward and love reading Wear What You Make – makes me happy reading it.

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