25 February 2014


Lest anyone think that we have only achievements and success around here ...

1. I had bread rising in the oven yesterday - I turn on just the light of the oven and it warms up the box enough to let the bread rise fairly quickly, rather than have it sitting on the counter in a fairly cold kitchen. I forgot about it when I turned on the oven to preheat for baking a dinner casserole. At 400. I remembered the bread when I opened the oven to put the casserole in. It was crusty on the top and mucked up dough in the middle so there went my 3 loaves of bread for the week. I have to start over today because we're out of bread, and my children eat very little beyond peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

2. Dinner also didn't turn out. I tried a new recipe - a chicken pot pie type of thing, except it was pork and zucchini with Tex-Mex spicing, and cornbread on the top. It tasted okay but didn't look particularly appetizing. I'll finish eating the leftovers but this is definitely not something I will repeat or share the recipe.

3. Adam was baking a lemon torte cake to take to work - I took it out of the oven too early and it was doughy in the middle. Sorry, honey.

4. I'm still working on more flannel nightgowns. On TA's, I was putting the facing on the neckline but it didn't line up at all. I had to take the whole thing apart and do it again. This is still in midstream - I've picked out all the necessary seams, but haven't put it back together again.

23 February 2014

maxi skirt

Just a simple maxi skirt I made this week.  I've been wanting one for a while, and had the perfect amount of this fabric.  It would be better if it were made of a knit (this stuff has zero stretch), but I really liked the colors and the silky feel of this fabric.  Small slit up the back for ease of movement, and an elastic waist.  There will be more of these in my future.

18 February 2014

Nothing Says Love Like Practicality

I wanted to join the challenge of sewing for seasons and holidays.  I really did.  I made a Pinterest board and had all these cute ideas for Valentine's decor and gifts, and we were going to set a sweet table with a well-planned, fancy dinner.  And then life happened.  Late nights, papers to grade, long hours for my hubby, school concerts...etc., etc.  So I decided that, rather than kill myself trying to make something that was PURELY seasonal, I'd go along with (what I interpreted to be) the "spirit" of the challenge and do something FOR a holiday.  And that led me to focus on sewing my Valentine's gifts, rather than the decorations (which were essentially nonexistent, by the way...a candle on the table and red placemats).

Our family follows the Dave Ramsey financial plan, and we are working our oldest kids into it; the little one doesn't care yet, but loves money!  Anyway, the girls have been using -- for a year -- envelopes that we write "Give", "Save", and "Spend" on to keep up with their money.  The envelopes rip, get wet, and get lost, and we have replaced them often; they also weren't great for holding coins.  Last week, though, I found a seller on Etsy who made three-pocket zip wallets for just this purpose.  They were a little pricey, but I was able to dash off two of my own in about an hour.

They are really easy to make.  You need:
-2 pieces each of exterior and lining fabric (mine were 9" x 4.5")
-1 zipper (mine was 7")
-ribbon or twill tape for the labels (I used ribbon and wrote with a Sharpie; it bled a little on the satin but was great on the grosgrain.  Next time, I might try using printable iron-on transfers because I think they would look neater.)
-matching thread

First, measure where you want your tags; I folded the fabric in half longways, pinned on there, and then divided the remaining distance equally for the other two.  Baste the tags into place.  Then lay one lining fabric face-up, place the zipper face-down on it, and lay one exterior fabric face-down, then sew them together along the zipper.  Iron both pieces of fabric out away from the zipper.  Then do the same thing on the OTHER side of the zipper.  When you iron the pieces out again, the two lining fabrics will be on one side (facing up); if you flip the whole thing over, the two exterior fabrics will be on one side facing up.  Next, unzip the zipper about halfway (to help with turning later).  Pin the two matching fabrics together, right sides in.  Sew from the middle of the bottom of the lining, around one side, across the bottom of the exterior, down the other side, and back to about 2 inches from your start.  Reach inside, unzip the zipper all the way, and turn the fabric.  Then close your seam, put the lining back inside, and iron the whole thing.  Finally, zip the zipper and mark where you want your dividers to be.  (Each of mine was a hair over 2 inches wide.)  Sew from the bottom up almost to the zipper, but don't sew the zipper shut!

Overall, I was really happy with how these turned out, especially since I was just using scrap fabric.  If I was going to do it again, I would say to make the whole thing a bit longer; the pockets are a tad narrow, but little fingers can handle it.  Also, if it gets too long, you need to worry about maybe folding or rolling the whole thing (and having a closure for it) so that it doesn't get too unwieldy.

My husband laughed (in the most good-natured way) when I told him what I was making the kids for their Valentine's Day gifts; I assured him that they would love these.  And they DID...there was so much excitement over giving and saving money!  Which, really, is what this whole thing is about.

16 February 2014


Holiday project 1! On a whim the day before Valentine's Day, I made these little pillows. The white fabric for the letters is all fuzzy (and was a pain in the neck because it shed all over when I cut it). I went a little crazy with the ribbons and all on the backs. I'm gearing up for the Independence Day skirts I have planned - they'll be in the same red fabric as the pillows (I got a ton of it from my mom when she was clearing out her stash), with a crazy amount of white and blue ribbons and trims for decoration.

11 February 2014

sleeveless blouse

In preparation for Cupcake's St. Patrick's dress, I decided to tackle the bodice.  I found a free pattern online and tried it out.  It was huge.  I cut down on the length, squared the neckline and tried again.  A better fit, but still too wide across the top.  I trimmed down the pattern a final time and added the opening in the back.  As I put it together I was worried that it would be too small (and it is a little snug), so I'll adjust it once again just a touch for the dress.
After all of that, I still haven't gotten sleeves figured out.  I followed three different tutorials, but different sleeves require different timing, so it didn't work out.  I made a quick strip of (un)bias tape to finish things off and make it a wearable top.  After making all the skirts the bottom was done in no time flat.  I'm proud of this top, and learned lots, and look forward to learning more. 
Before I tackle the dress I'm going to do a round of instant-gratification, mindless baby blankets.  A friend's mother was getting rid of a whole bunch of fabric and trims, so my stash just doubled.  A majority of that fabric is for baby blankets anyway (flannel and baby-print cottons, along with satin bindings), so might as well start using it up.  We've got seven babies on the way at church, so it's good to be prepared!

08 February 2014

potato soup in the crockpot

And in the middle of all the sewing, I'm also trying new recipes. Since the beginning of the year, I've made 7 new recipes already and 3 just this week. Here is one of them. (And I'll get the rest on here eventually - lots of muffins. I've been baking because it's COLD.) The original recipe was from allthecooks.com which I can't find to link here because I used an app on my tablet.

Put into the crockpot:
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups water
1 chicken bullion cube (for these 3 things, I did 3 cups of water and 3 1/2 tsp of loose powdered bullion)
1 tbl. parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp pepper (I measured the parsley and thyme, didn't the pepper. And I added a little salt.)
1 cup cubed ham
1 chopped onion
6 small potatoes (original recipe said red, I used white/russet. I measured about 3 cups of large-diced potatoes, but it could have used another cup.)

This will be watery because of the broth, which looks odd because potato soup is supposed to be creamy, but that will come later.

Cook on low for about 4 hours or until the potatoes are soft. It may be shorter, depending on how small you chop the potato chunks. So keep checking it every hour or so.

When the potatoes are mostly, but not all the way done, put in a saucepan on the stove:
5 tbl butter
5 tbl flour
2 cups evaporated milk (1 12-oz can)

Whisk together in the saucepan on med/low heat until it thickens, then add to the crockpot for the last bit of cooking.

The original recipe said it needed to cook for 5-6 hours, and the roux is added the last hour. WAY too long - I checked my soup at 4 hours and the potatoes were about to turn to mush. I added the roux for only the last few minutes because I needed to turn it off, and at first it was watery but it was thickened up really well for leftovers the next day.

07 February 2014

five skirts

Five skirts for five of my nieces.  I'm not completely sold on the green, but I figure the two girls that get those skirts are the more out-going personalities anyway.  Hope you like them Trina!  Now I can move on to other projects.

03 February 2014

Kids Clothes Week 2014 winter edition

Yeah, okay, so that sewing 1 hour per day totally did not happen here. A couple of days this week, I didn't even get into the sewing room at all. Sigh. I'll try again in the spring at the next go-around (I think this is supposed to be 4 times a year), and in the meantime, I'm shooting for 15 minutes a day. Maybe I can get that?

I did get JE's nightgown done tonight - hooray! I do have a contribution to the project list of KCW 2014! I totally nailed it on the length. It's right to the top of her feet, just where I wanted it. That surprised me. The buttons are uneven on the back - 2 are really close together with the 3rd one a distance away. Adam asked if I was going for some kind of asymmetrical look. No, I just messed up on spacing the buttonholes. I didn't put any ribbon on it, but I did a flower stitch on the neckline, wrists, and hem. I mixed in a bunch of hearts on the hem, so she has a little bit of the trademark. One heart for every letter in her name.

TA was very upset that she did not also have a new nightgown to wear to bed, so hers needs to be made pronto. I put the baby's on her to check the sizing - she can wear the 12-18 month size with it lengthened a bit (she's 2 1/2 but REALLY tiny - she apparently has the metabolism of a hummingbird because she eats more than any of our other girls). But I'm going to trace off the next size up on the pattern for her, because the armholes are more tight than I'd like. There wasn't much growing room in the smaller size.


I'm hooked.  After finishing Cupcake's pajamas yesterday I decided to take a break from sewing for the evening.  I'd recently checked out some books from the library and wanted to start reading some of them.  And I had the hardest time.  My brain kept wandering to the upcoming St. Patrick's Day dress.  I have my material and love it and want to show it off.  Nothing I've found is quite what I want, so I've been focusing on bits and pieces and imagining how they'll all work together.  I'm getting to the point where I have to remind myself that this isn't the last thing I'll make, and I can save details for future projects.  I'm fairly certain that I'm going to dive in and attempt a full dress (bodices and sleeves and button holes intimidate me), but if I start soon I can practice a bit before doing the final thing.  It feels so good to be motivated and excited about something again!!

And to sum up my KCW - two pairs of pants and two skirts.  I'll probably start on the other three skirts tonight, getting all the strips ready, but I won't really consider them part of the official count.  And it isn't like I need the hours because I know I spent a lot more than an hour sewing on most days.

02 February 2014

challenge 2014: HOLIDAYS

I've seen blogs with lots of different sewing challenges that I'd like to try - specific colors, sewing something for every letter of the alphabet, sewing for boys (poor guys get left off the sewing lists a lot, but we have no boys at our house), sew specific patterns, etc ...

We're going to have a sewing challenge for 2014:


We don't really have it nailed down to one thing per month, or these particular holidays, or whatever. Your sewing item does not have to be clothes - it can be anything you want. You can sew as many things as you want for each holiday. No guidelines except ...


Mindy and I have both started with Valentine's Day. She made pajama pants for Cupcake, and I worked with my girls on making little heart-shaped pillows for their beds or their friends or their dolls. TA is already very possessive of her little pink pillow that I made from some fleece scraps and edged with embroidery floss. So far, we have 3 done with more cut out. One was sewn on the regular sewing machine, and the other 2 were handstitched around the edge. (I'll take pictures later.)

For the next holiday after that in March, I'm going with Read Across America on March 2, Dr. Seuss's birthday. I have some Dr. Seuss prints that I'm making into skirts and dresses for my girls, and we're plotting a trip up to Springfield MA (about 25 miles from where we live) to the Dr. Seuss Memorial - he grew up in Springfield and at the local museum complex, there's a courtyard with a number of statues of his characters. We're waiting for some good weather, and for me to finish their awesome outfits. Mindy has something in mind for St. Patrick's Day. Then of course Easter in April, and on we go.

If anyone wants to join us, we'd love to see what you come up with, both for which holidays you intend to memorialize in fabric, and what you do with it!

pajama pants

While waiting to get the last of the measurements from Trina, I did my February project and made Cupcake's flannel pajama pants.  Same pattern as the first pair, but I added a quarter inch up each side and half an inch across the top.  Just that little bit made them perfectly baggy. 

And in case you were wondering, these totally count for Valentine's Day because they say "I love Mommy I love Daddy" all over them.  That, and pajama pants are cuddly.