Category Archives: Sewing

skirting the issue

Today I decided I wanted to sew. I don’t know why today. Honestly, it was a poor choice of a day considering that Drew was at the office and I had, like, a zillion things to do. That point notwithstanding, I originally intended to sew myself up a new tank top using one of the patterns I bought a couple weeks ago. I unfolded it. And I looked at it. And something didn’t seem quite right. As it turned out, the pattern was for size 14 and up. (Same with another pattern I’d purchased — boo!) Currently I’m about an 8 top and a 10 bottom (thank you, three children, for spreading out my hips to ridiculous proportions). A size 14 would not fit no matter how I tried to make it.

So. Onto Plan B. Amy Karol’s 5 minute skirt. I’d purchased some wicked cheap clearance fabric ($1/yard) to try this out, that way if things didn’t go well, I wasn’t out that much. The pattern was easy to figure out, and after taping together four sections of newspaper I had it ready to trace onto my fabric. It seemed a little wide. Am I really that wide? Maybe I should seriously investigate curvatrim reviews. I was feeling rather… er… hourglass. But in the end it all came together quite nicely!

5 min. (no wait, 5 hr.) skirt

5 min. (no wait, 5 hr.) skirt

Of course, when you look at the head-on shot in my dirty closet mirror, you can see that the A-line does indeed make me look a bit wide.

5 min. (no wait, 5 hr.) skirt

Next time I make this (and yes, oh yes there will be a next time), I won’t make the angle quite so obtuse. And just for the record, when you set down to make a 5 minute skirt with a 10 month old and a 4 year old and some errands to run, it will take you closer to 5 hours. But hey — any project I can finish in a day is a good one in my book!

weekend sewing: coupon organizer

I’ve been on the lookout for a new coupon organizer. I hate using the plastic and paper ones because they never last and most of them are kind of ugly. For a while I used the binder system, but found it difficult to maintain. I just couldn’t be bothered slipping each coupon into its own individual slot. I do use coupons pretty much every time I shop, though, and pulling them out of a mailing envelope just wasn’t working for me.

I thought I could find a pattern for a coupon organizer that folds over the handle of the cart, but I didn’t have a lot of luck. I found this pattern, which I used as a starting point and I eventually came up with this design.

This is the front. As you can see I opted for a rounded flap. I used the curve of a dinner plate for my template. I sewed in a short length of elastic to use as a organizer

And here’s the back. I hand-sewed the button onto the organizer. To close it, bring the elastic around from the bottom. To attach it to the handle of your shopping cart, just bring it around from the organizer

Another front view (image my dining room chair was a shopping cart): coupon organizer

And from the back:coupon organizer

I had a chance to try it out over the weekend. I used it once at CVS and once at Stop & Shop and I have to say that not only did I feel quite frugal and organized, but I also felt pretty stylish because I really like this fabric. Oh, one other thing. Instead of using fusible interfacing, I sandwiched a piece of cotton flannel between the inner and outer fabric. Because my bag tends to contain things like sippy cups and snacks, I wanted the organizer to be washable in case when it gets stained. This was a very quick and easy project.

taking matters into my own hands

Who is designing clothes out there and really… what are they thinking? Yesterday I was shopping for some new spring tops and a dress (or skirt and blouse) I can wear for Jake’s 1st Communion. Everything out there is either super ugly or the fit doesn’t even make sense. The fabrics are all really clingy. (Note to designers: in case you haven’t noticed, clingy fabrics do not flatter most of the American population. Please choose other material.) After throwing up my hands in disgust in the Kohl’s dressing room, I decided it was time I stopped complaining and did something about it.

I have a sewing machine. I have reasonable sewing skills. Maybe it’s time I just start making my own clothes. I doubt it will save me money, but at least I get to choose the fabrics and if something is made poorly, I can blame myself and probably fix it. And wouldn’t you know? Jo-Ann’s was having a three-day sale: Simplicity patterns were just 99 cents! So I picked out a few to start with:


Hopefully it won’t be too complicated. I’m also thinking of refashioning some of my jeans into capris. A have a bunch that are torn, ripped, frayed, and generally embarrassing to wear in public. I think I might lop them off of the bottom and hem them to calf-length.

Something has to be done because my t-shirts are threadbare and the (affordable) selections out there are pretty awful.

I also picked up a few toddler-sized patterns to make some cute outfits for Laura:


And the best part of it all was how much I saved:


Seven sewing patterns and a divided container for the boys’ Perler beads (also on sale) cost me only about $10 and I saved over $90! I figure that even if I make only one article of clothing from these patterns, they will have more than paid for themselves.

sewing 2009

After several years of wanting a sewing machine, this year I used some of our tax refund to purchase one. Little did I know how much I would enjoy using it! I’ve used it for practical purposes as well as making some fun crafts. It was packed away during the months when we put on the addition to our house and I’ve not had a lot of time lately to sew, but it’s calling me and I have a file folder full of projects to try in 2010! In the meantime, here are a few things I made this year:

Noah really likes it :-)

fabric easter eggs

clothes pin bag

clothes pin bag #2

baby bibs

scalloped baby blanket - front

baby legwarmers

scalloped baby blanket & matching bibs

baby shower gift set

Did you know that September is National Sewing Month? Well, it is! And, fittingly, I’ve been sewing a lot lately. My latest projects came from my favorite book, “Bend the Rules Sewing” by Amy Karol (of Angry Chicken). After borrowing this book from the library a couple times, I deemed it a worthy purchase for my craft library. There are so many cute and easy projects in it. I decided to make the Scalloped Baby Blanket for my sister-in-law’s baby shower.

I originally bought this paisley fabric during the summer, intending to make myself a skirt. But I decided that, paired with a charming polka-dot print, it would be a great baby quilt that wasn’t “cutesy.” The pattern was very clear and overall it was not too difficult. Sewing all those scallops took patience, but it was worth it.

scalloped baby blanket folded up

The worst part was sewing shut the two scallops left open to turn the blanket inside-out. You’re supposed to just top-stitch them closed, but I clipped the fabric too close for that and ended up hand-sewing them. It didn’t come out exactly as perfect as I wanted for a gift, but I was very proud of the end result. I just reminded myself that it’s not perfect, it’s handmade. All told, the project probably took me about 6 hours (including the bibs). I did it when I had chunks of time, though, so it’s hard to tell. I worked slowly because I didn’t want to rush my way around all those corners. I imagine the next one would go faster.

scalloped baby blanket - front

scalloped baby blanket - back

scalloped baby blanket detail

I made a couple matching baby bibs to round out the gift set. I love making bibs! Quick, easy, and fun. Plus I really am not fond of all the character bibs or babyish bibs that you always end up getting. They don’t take much fabric and they’re about as stylish as a bib can get!

baby bibs

get a leg up

baby legwarmers

baby legwarmersI fell in love with Babylegs long before I had a baby girl of my own. When I was doing 365 Days on Flickr, they’d occasionally show up in people’s photos. There are so many cute patterns and I think they’re all-around great. Except for the price. So I decided to look online (of course) for a tutorial to make homemade babylegs. Most of the instructions basically called for cutting off the foot of a sock and either leaving the edges raw or just sewing under the raw edge. That’s OK, but I really wanted a cuff at both ends. A couple days ago I found this baby legwarmer tutorial on Nannygoat and decided I just had to make some.

That also meant that I had to set up my sewing area, a task I’d been wanting to cross off my to-do list, but really hadn’t had the time. Well, I made the time. Over the weekend I’d purchased a few pairs of women’s socks. Not knee socks, not anklets… those in-between sock. Crew socks, maybe? Anyway, they were cute and it’s never to early to introduce babies to fun socks! Not wanting to ruin the new socks, however, I first tried out the tutorial on a stray to make sure I understood the steps. (I’d suggest you do this too, though the instructions are quite simple). In less than 15 minutes, with barely over one-dollar’s worth of materials, I’d made this pair of baby legwarmers! I’m going to sew up a bunch for the fall and winter. Lulu seems indifferent to them in this photo, but I think she likes them 🙂

Clothespin Bags

When my dad put up my new clothesline earlier this week, I knew I had to make a cute clothespin bag to go along with it. The first one I made came out great! I was really happy with it and sent it home with Dad to give to my mom. I wanted to use a little funkier fabric for the one I’d make for myself. Unfortunately, mine did not come out perfect 🙁

clothes pin bag #2

I have been having a crappy day since the second I woke up was woken up by a small child this morning and should have held off on this project until I was in a better state of mind, but oh well. The top is obviously not cut right, the fabric is upside down where the bag folds up, and although you can’t tell, the sides of the opening hang really awful. I’ve fixed this with some safety pins, so it’s fine, but… really, I consider this project a total FAIL. I can’t justify redoing it because it does serve its intended purpose, but it’s such a disappointment. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Miscellaneous, in Bullet Form

  • Yesterday was D’s birthday! We had cupcakes and presents on Sunday night and then last night we went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner (because he got a birthday coupon for a free appetizer!). We had no idea, though, that they’d drag out this saddle on a sawhorse, make him sit on it, while everyone in the restaurant yelled “Yee-haw!” at him. I would have been mortified, but he was a great sport and we all had a really good time (and a good dinner!)
  • I feel a little guilty about one of Drew’s presents, because… really, it was more for me rather than him: the Compost Crock. Last year we used a big plastic bowl (with a lid, at least) for our food scraps for the compost bin. However, the shape took up a lot of room and it got gross and smelly. This is much more attractive on the counter, will clean easier, and it has a charcoal filter! I think it’ll work much better than the old garbage bowl.
  • While Drew is in Virginia for a couple days (hopefully the last of these business trips for a few months), my dad is coming down to hang out with us. And he’s going to put up a clothesline for me! We attempted to make one last year with a kit from the hardware store, but it didn’t work very well. I’m so happy he’s doing this for me. I look forward to not having to run the dryer for every single load of wash. Growing up, my mom always hung up the laundry so to me it just makes sense. Plus, it’s one more thing I can do to be more eco-conscious.
  • I think I want to see about trying the Dove Skin Vitalizer deal that is reported at CVS. Even if I can’t get the coupon, $4 isn’t bad — and certainly much cheaper than heading to the spa for a microdermabrasion treatment. Supposedly the Dove product is quite comparable, though obviously not the same thing.
  • I still have a cold. I felt great for about a week, and then Saturday I started to feel crappy. Poor Noah woke up with a cough this morning, too. Hopefully it’ll be short-lived. The fluctuations in temperature and weather can’t be helping!
  • Otherwise, things are just moving right along. I have one more repeat on my ripple afghan and that will be finished. And I plan on sewing up a few more bibs and burp cloths this week, as well as some nursing pads. I’d rather not buy the disposable ones and I have plenty of cotton flannel, so we’ll give it a try! I’ll let you know how it goes.

patchwork eggs

fabric easter eggs

When I saw the tutorial at Retro Mama for these adorable Easter eggs, I knew I just had to make a few! They are super simple and make a quick and easy decoration. There have been a few snow flurries off and on today, so it seems strange making Easter crafts, but it’s just around the corner. The boys colored eggs this afternoon and I think they’re dry now. Good thing because they are begging to decorate them with stickers and such!

First Sewing Project: A Crayon Roll!

Noah really likes it :-)As I mentioned a few posts ago, my sewing machine arrived late last week and I was really looking forward to setting it up over the weekend. I practiced a few stitches but didn’t dive into any projects. However, I did bookmark a couple dozen ideas for future use! For my first project, I decided to make a crayon roll. Currently I keep crayons in a baggie in my purse for when we are out with the kids. Utilitarian? Yes. Cute? No. So this was something I could use, and basically it’s all sewing straight lines. I’m a real learn-by-doing person. I don’t bother with classes because even when I take them, I usually have to re-learn everything by myself when I make mistakes. So this project took me all afternoon, but I think in the future it would be much faster! It was made simple by the fantastic tutorial at Chocolate on my Cranium It’s not perfect, of course, but considering I had never done any kind of sewing before, I’m happy with it and encouraged to try more projects! The tutorial spells out everything really well. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in making one of these crayon rolls! And now, on to the pictures!

All rolled up! Jake picked out the pirate fabric the other day, but didn’t know my plans:
crayon roll, all rolled up!

The outside, opened flat:
outside of crayon roll

The inside, with crayons:
inside of crayon roll

These would make adorable (and frugal!) last-minute gifts or stocking stuffers. I’ve also been thinking that I’d like some labels for when I do my crafts. Ordering personalized labels can be expensive. I suppose I could buy sheets of iron-on paper and print out my own, but then I thought that maybe I could order a custom rubber stamp. Then I could stamp on twill tape with Staz-On ink in whatever color I want and not have extra labels that are just bound to get lost. I might look into that.

For some future projects I have been thinking about bibs, a changing pad, and burp cloths. With three babies in my family this year (me, my cousin, and my sister-in-law!), I’ll have plenty of opportunity to make stuff!