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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sew adorable

I got a sewing machine last year, on the logic "I'm out of needles for hand sewing Girl Scout patches and machines come with needles, so I should just buy a machine". Since I managed to slide that one by RF,  I decided I should probably actually learn to sew. I've gotten fairly decent at it, though by no  means any kind of professional. Several weeks ago, a friend mentioned that she wanted to convert her step son's baseball jersey into a dress for her preschooler's birthday. I told her it would be super easy and I see stuff on Pinterest like that all the time.  She decided that I should probably go ahead and handle that, so I did. She brought me the jersey and I made THE CUTEST DRESS EVER!

Step one: get a large shirt. Depending on the size of the child, you can use anything from a youth medium, up through adult sizes. Fit the shirt to make sure the neck line isn't too large.  If it is, you'll need to refit the neck, which will add a lot more fiddling to your project. Fortunately, I didn't need to, so I don't have a tutorial for it.

Shirt photo image-5.jpg

Step 2: get a shirt that currently fits the child. If you can get on with straight sleeves and sides, this is best. Ruffles will mess up your cutting and the shape the of the final product. Lay the larger shirt out smooth,ironing if needed with the smaller shirt on top. Match up the necklines and shoulder seams. Trace around the smaller shirt with your tailor's chalk or fabric marker, leaving about a half inch for seam allowances. (You notice in my pictures that I left more than that and that is because the template shirt I used was getting a little short and I wanted to lengthen it slightly).  

Fit shirt photo image-6.jpg

Step 3: take your rotary cutter and zip around the lines you just drew.

Rotary cutter photo image-4.jpg

Cut shirt photo image-2.jpg

Step 4: toss the sleeves and the sides and set the bottom aside. Then turn the shirt inside out, so the right sides are together and sew from the bottom up, turning carefully and sewing along the bottom of the arm. If you are doing a short sleeve shirt, hem your sleeve, then turn your shirt and do the same on the other side.   If you are doing a long sleeved shirt, you might be able to preserve your cuffs and can avoid having to hem the sleeves. 

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(I didn't get pictures of the next several steps, because I was busy sewing! :) )

Step 5: now is your chance to adjust the length of the skirt. If it too long, trim from the cut edge until it is the proper length. Leave the finished edge alone or you will have to re-hem it and no one wants that.  Once your skirt is the desired length, stitch all the way around the top of the skirt with a loose basting stitch. Don't back stitch on this step!

Step 6: once your skirt is basted, scrunch the fabric of the skirt until it is the same size as the bottom of the shirt. If you are making major size changes, it will be very scrunchy. Minor changes will produce less scrunches. 

Step 7: attach your skirt to your shirt. Start by turning the skirt inside out and the shirt right side out.  Put the shirt inside the skirt and match the seams.  Pin the skirt to the shirt and begin sewing.  You will want to sew over the scrunchies, to create a ruffled effect.  

Step 8: Trim excess fabric at seams and admire your cool new dress!

Shirt photo image-3.jpg

Step 9: Have the adorable birthday girl model her new present!

Dress front photo image.jpg

Dress back photo image-1.jpg

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just Quilt It

If you are anything like me, your kids have t-shirts from EVERYTHING they've been in!  School activities, events and activities they've participated in, etc.  And sometimes you want to hang on to those t-shirts, even if they are too small or start to wear out.  The best way I've come up with to save those shirts, without having them clutter up the closest is make a t-shirt quilt out of them.

First you need to gather up your shirts and figure out how many you have.  For my quilt, most of our shirts had stuff front and back so I got two squares out of each shirt and ended up with 15 squares, or 8 shirts, in my quilt.  It didn't end up being a regular sized blanket, but it is perfect for the kid that is using it.  

The other things you are going to need are batting (I bought twin size at Joann's and didn't use all of it for my quilt), a backing material (I used flannel, 42 inches wide, which was wide enough to cover all my squares without additional sewing and I way over bought on yardage.  2 yards is plenty), binding material (3/4-1 yard of a woven material should be sufficient), and most importantly, interfacing, this is what makes the whole project possible (I used a lightweight fusible interfacing and I got 6 yards of it, which was more than enough) as well as your thread.  

General sewing materials, like a mat large enough to lay the whole shirt on, a rotary cutter and guide to make sure your lines are straight will make the project much simpler, as well.

mat and cutter photo matandcutter.jpg

For me, I was far too cheap to buy the standard suggested acrylic ruler, so I used a 12x12 floor tile left over from a previous bathroom remodel.  Because it was too thick to cut over, it made my squares just a little bigger than the recommended 12.5x12.5, which was totally fine.  

floor tile photo Floortile.jpg

If your shirt is blank on the back, you don't have to cut it apart at all before you cut out your square.  You just lay it out, lay your guide centered over your design and cut away.  Most of mine had things on the back I wanted to keep so I had to cut it in half.

cut apart shirt photo cutapartshirt.jpg

Basically, I just cut up the side, up the arm, up the shoulder and across the neck and down the other shoulder, so it opened up completely.  

 photo walksquare.jpg

Your squares should all be exactly the same size and shape and you will use the same guide to cut your interfacing as well.  Interfacing is thin and I folded mine into several layers and cut out a bunch at once, because cutting gets tedious, after awhile.  

Once all of your squares are cut out, you will need to iron on your interfacing.  Interfacing has a smooth side and a bumpy side.  The bumpy side goes against the wrong side of the fabric and you iron the smooth side of until it sticks to the back of the t-shirt squares.  

interface photo interface.jpg

Next, you'll need some space to lay out all of your squares.  I did a 3x5 arrangement, because 3 squares wide perfectly fits that flannel I knew I was using.  Play with the arrangement until you are happy with how it looks.  

Squares photo squareslaidout.jpg

The most important part of this process is make sure you have a dedicated "helper" joining you in your project.  How would I ever get anything done without her?

 photo helper.jpg

Once you are happy with the layout, you'll fold the left hand square onto the middle square and pin the sides securely, right sides together.  Sew the joining seam with a straight stitch.  Then lay it back on the floor and pin the right to the middle and repeat.  Do the same thing for all the rows, then repeat with the columns that you created from sewing the rows together.  After you have all the squares joined, iron your seams open so they lay flat inside your blanket.  

Next you are going to create a blanket "sandwich" with all of your layers.  Start by laying your backing fabric right side down, followed by your batting and your quilt top, right side up.  Pin the edges securely and sew a straight stitch around the outside edge of the quilt.  I sewed very close to the edge and then cut next to that line, to make all the layers exactly even.

sandwich photo sandwich.jpg

Next, you'll want to sew around each square to hold the materials in place and make it more decorative.  My machine is very basic and only has about 10 stitches, so I just used the coolest one I had, even though none of them are particularly decorative, like they would be on a quilting machine.  This is the part that took the longest and was the most tedious.  It required a lot of maneuvering, with trying to shove large portions of the blanket through my machine.  I also noticed the material wasn't pulling well because it was so thick, so I had to make sure I pushing it through carefully.  

Finally, you need to bind it all off, so your not so pretty raw edges don't show.  Start by cutting your binding material into 3 inch wide strips.  

3 in binding photo bindingstrip3in.jpg

Then you'll fold those strips in half and finger press a crease in the material.  

binding half photo bindingstriphalf.jpg

Reopen the strip and fold the sides into the middle crease.  Pin the sides and sew the edges down 

binding quarter photo bindingstripfoldedinhalf.jpg

bindings to sew photo bindingstrip.jpg

After that, you need to seam two binding strips together (which for my 5 rows was a little long, but I just cut off the extra.  If you do more rows, you might need more binding strips).

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For the short side, one binding strip was just almost long enough, so I just used a small piece that I cut off the long side and seamed that together as well.

Once you have your binding strips long enough, start at the corner and fold the strip over your not so pretty edges and pin the whole length.  Once you've got a whole side pinned, sew the binding strip to the quilt.  I used a 3/8 seam allowance to make sure I got all the pieces and the seam wasn't too close to the edges.  Repeat this around the quilt until you've completed all four sides.

binding corner photo pinnedbinding.jpg

Stand back and admire your lovely quilt! 

done photo done.jpg

Here, I flipped over the corner, so you could see the backing material as well.

Done flipped corner photo doneflippedcorner.jpg

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pahk the cah in the yahd

When we bought our house, we knew it was a little small but it had an attached garage.  In the "grand plan" we had planned to remodel it, take out the door, raise the floor, add ventilation, etc, etc, etc and turn it into a family room.  In the mean time, we put carpet out there and a couch and TV and all the kids' toys and video games.  Then we decided it is just a garage and we weren't going to work that hard on it.  For heat, we've been using a small electric heater, disguised as a fire place.  It never gets very warm but it was always ok.  For the last few months, the kids just haven't been using the space, electing to play in their rooms most of the time instead.  I don't know if it is because of the litter box that it out there or the cold or that they just prefer the stuff in their rooms but it has basically become a junk room, full of toys no one plays with and electronics no one uses.  RF started talking about how he wanted to change it and talk about it and talk about it.  Finally, he called his dad and they decided since he was off on spring break, they'd knock it out and get it finished.

They started Saturday the 16th by ripping out the nasty old wall board and building a new wall.  I didn't get an actual before picture because I was running errands with MF when they started out.

Here is the new wall they built

new wall photo newwall.jpg

On the back side of the wall, they built storage shelves to move all the toys and stuff out of the rest of the room to make it less cluttered looking.

shelves photo shelves.jpg

MF decided she didn't like how long it was taking and felt compelled to write a motivational message to the crew.

message photo motivationalmessage.jpg

Too bad it was written in redneck :) (It says Git it dun)

Once they got the wall board down (which you can see behind the shelves, since they recycled it to back that up), they found that insulation was a nasty mess.  Shredded, moldy, full of mouse droppings, etc.

old insulation photo oldinsulation.jpg

Set back number one was  changing that for better stuff that would actually work and let us heat that space in a reasonable amount of time.

new insulation photo newinsulation.jpg

Set back number two happened when we started hanging the drywall and figured out the room wasn't quite square.

corner photo corner.jpg

For reference, this piece is touching top and bottom, with that much gap in the middle!

Set back number three happened when I started to mud the existing drywall (The West wall had always had drywall on it, but it was unfinished and unpainted) and found several large holes and rips in the drywall that were going to be a beast to patch.  We had some leftover drywall, so we decided to almost completely replace that wall as well.

mudded wall photo muddedwall.jpg

While the guys were working on the drywall, I set to work cleaning the garage door.  I scrubbed it with the Mr. Clean and I don't know if you can tell from the picture but this is one side cleaned and one side left!  We did find out that we can probably paint the panels, so that is the plan for when it warms up a bit.

clean door photo Cleandoor.jpg

We also decided to mud the ceiling joints, but basically, it is particle board that we painted so it is pretty textured.

mudded ceiling photo muddedceiling.jpg

Then we painted the ceiling.  That sucked.  I did the whole thing, all the cutting in, all the painting etc.  It took about 3 1/2 hours and I felt like I'd been beaten when I was done.  But it was 100% worth it in the dramatic change it made in the room.

painted ceiling photo Paintedceiling.jpg

WF got home from his jet setting vacation while we were working, so I decided now was the time for him to learn how to mud.

c mud photo Cmudding.jpg

Once the millions coats of mud was dry, we sponged the edges (sooo much easier than sanding and so much less messy) and started painting.  My paint crew decided tie dye was the uniform of the painters.

paint crew photo paintcrew.jpg

WF even helped paint.  After begging to help for hours, he worked for about 20 minutes before he said he was done.

c paint photo Cpainting.jpg

We trimmed the ceiling and the new door and still need to trim the window and the floor but other than that, we are basically done.  At some point, we need to do something to the floor but concrete epoxy paint is super expensive and that just isn't something we are going to do right now.

The room now gets super warm.  We were running two heaters trying to get the paint dry and I asked RF to turn them off because I was roasting.  About an hour later, I looked over and there was condensation RUNNING down the window because it was so warm in there!  All the toys are out of it and in the storage room.  All the shovels and brooms and mops are hanging in the storage room and most importantly, the cat's litter box is in the storage room.

This is the after of the door to the house and garage door.

after front photo AfterTV.jpg

This is the after of the new wall and door.

after back photo Afterdoor.jpg

Of course, this all means that I will never end up parking my car in the garage, even after the kids are gone.  It's way too nice to put a car in now!  It is, however, perfectly nice for a gathering.  Who is ready to have a welcome spring party, once we survive snow-pocalypse tomorrow?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Overheard: Weekend edition

RF: Little girls are made of sugar, and spice, and everything nice.
MF: Not me, I'm made of black holes, unending pits of doom and bombs. Cause I'm mean.

Me: I don't know, I'm a little annoyed right now, so we'll see once we get home.
WF: Mom, how can you be annoyed at Meatheads? It is happiness between two buns!

 MF: I don't have an ear infection yet but it's coming. It's like the ear infection train, next stop MF's ear *choo choo*

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Too school for cool

Last year, I spent a lot of time yelling at the kids about all their "stuff" and how they could never find anything and neither could I. Lunch boxes weren't getting washed, forms were getting lost and no one could ever find their jacket as we ran out of the house each morning. In short, it was OBNOXIOUS and I decided I wasn't doing that anymore. I browsed around Pinterest looking for something that would work for us. I found several "command centers" that would work, sort of. Eventually, I cobbled something together which is going to be great. All it took was getting rid of a bunch of stuff and completely re-arranging the garage/family to accommodate it. I hit up Walmart for hooks to hang the coats and back packs on.
They have a ton, ranging from about $5 to over $50! Pick the one you like. Then I picked up some cheap dry erase boards to mount above the hooks. This will let us write down things for each kid, like PE Days (since they change from week to week because of the rotation schedule) so they know when to wear tennis shoes. We can also put things like snack days and field trips so everybody know what is going on.
Then, in my biggest stroke of genius, I bought paper trays to manage all the paper that comes home. Staples sells the kind that are specifically designed to mount to the wall but at $10 a piece, they were out of my budget, since I needed 4. I bought some of the regular desk top kind and convinced RF to make them work. :)
Each kid has one for papers that come home and one for papers to go back. The plan is when they get home, lunch boxes go on the counter by the sink, homework goes on the table. Everything else gets taken to the organization center. Coats and back packs are hung up, and any papers that came home from school that day go in their "from school" tray. Once snacks and homework are done, I can go through their "from school" boxes and sign forms and throw the rest away (Side note, I sure wish we could go paperless but with a low SES school, too many parents don't have access to email so it isn't feasible). Anything that needs to go back gets put in the "to school" box. Each morning, the kids can look in their "to school" box and pick up anything that needs to go back.
You'll note in the picture that no backpacks are hung up there yet. We have them, they are just packed full of school supplies and even though the hooks are in the studs, I'm afraid they are too heavy to hang without pulling them out (they are almost too heavy to lift), so we are waiting until after school starts to get them out there. This should keep things more organized, so stuff isn't getting lost and it puts them in charge of their stuff. I know that it will take some time to get in the habit but once they get it, it should make my life easier, and their's too!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Earlier this week, I stumbled on a fab DIY blog where she made a really cool neon bracelet. I'm a fan of anything neon so I figured I needed to make this. It was wrapping thread around a band, it couldn't be that hard, right? Well, the actual construction wasn't hard, but finding the materials proved more difficult that it should have. After visiting 2 of the 3 craft stores in town, plus Walmart, I was still empty handed. Fortunately, I'm married to a genius and he suggested that we stop at Claire's for the cuff at least. I found a couple that were ok but nothing that really grabbed me. Then RF knocked it out of the park again and found these.
Yes, those are giant hoop earrings and they were perfect! I used wire cutters to snip off the posts, so I wasn't stabbing myself all the time.
We went back to Hobby Lobby and looked at several different types of threads. None fo them were quite right. Some were too thin, meaning it would take a million wraps and a ton of thread where others were too thick and scratchy (I can't do scratchy). Then we found this. It is a nylon thread, but it is thicker than regular thread.
I put a dab of Aleene's Tacky Glue on the inside of the hoop and held the thread in it until it dried. Then I wrapped the thread around the hoop. The key is to wrap it tight and pull it so there are no gaps between the wraps. I wrapped it all the way to the end and glued it down. Then I put another small dab over the 4-5 rows at the beginning and the end, just to add some stability to the wraps. Ta-da, fab neon cuff bracelets
And because anything neon needs to ready to wear to the see the Brat Pack, I bought some cheap letter pins and pinned them to the bracelets, to show my BP love!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dumpster Diving

Several weeks ago, we went to a school event at our new building (our school is moving buildings this year while our current building is upgraded and expanded). The school that was in the new building before is getting a brand new building, with all brand new furniture, so they didn't want the stuff that was in this building. Our school didn't really need any of the furniture, since we had our own stuff as well, so the district decided to toss most of it and it happened to be outside, in and around a huge dumpster, the night of our event. Several of us snagged various pieces of furniture, including wooden teacher desks, 6 foot long solid wooden tables, teacher chairs, student desks, bookshelves, etc. I grabbed a small wooden desk, which was pretty beat up. However, it was solid as the day is long and I figured I could refinish it fairly easily, since it was all straight pieces. RF wanted to use it as a game table, but I decided I wanted to use it as a TV table in the living room. Here is the picture before I started working on it. You can see the scratches, gouges, and paint splatters all over it.
I took it all apart and sanded it all down and put poly on it. I don't like painted wood and I'm not a huge fan of stain on wood either, so I kept the natural color and used a clear coat. It was about as easy as I expected it to be, except for the fact that it has been a thousand degrees recently and I wasn't interested in working on it in the heat, so it has just been sitting in the garage. But I've decided to do some redecorating in other parts of the house and it all hinged on getting this table done, so I can repurpose, and get rid of, other furniture. Since the weather was nice on Friday, I hauled everything outside and hit it hard. We bought some new hardware (the bolts were all mis-matched and different sizes) and got it set up this afternoon
We are using the drawer for loose games and things and Xbox and controllers are perfect on the shelf. For a total cost of less than $4, for all new hardware, this is one of my better dumpster diving finds!