When we were pregnant with Jeep, our last child, Lou really wanted a sister. However, a brother was born and the pinning began. Even now, some five years later, we hear the occasional request for a younger sister, not just be Lou, but by all the children. So this year we got them all what they wanted. A sister.
We welcomed Tula to our family shortly after the New Year. Adding a teenager has been an interesting experience, but completely wonderful and enlightening. Tula has been a fantastic sister so far and we couldn't be more pleased with her presence in our home. Tula is from Kuwait, but an ethnic Egyptian and she is also a practicing Muslim. Tula has been in the United States since August, but her first family wasn't a good fit, so we got her instead! There is so much to learn from Tula, she has taught us about how she worships, what kinds of foods she loves and what her life is like back in Kuwait. Kuwait is that tiny country between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The kids are fascinated by Arabic and Tula has taught them a couple of words. Much of what they learn turns into phrases for spells, so if my child curses you, it might just be the Arabic word for green beans.
Tula loves to draw and hopes to attend college in America. She wants to be an interior designer. She is bubbly and has a great sense of humor. We love this girl! She participates and supports our family in so many ways. She loves to watch Lou play basketball, nerf wars with Bug, reads books to Jeep and snuggles with Mr. E. While she is not really our daughter for the long haul, we are hoping that we can all be part of each other's lives for a very long time.
*** Jeep really had no desire to have his picture taken. His life is soo very hard...
****Yesterday, over dinner, we talked about President Trump's travel ban. While this ban doesn't directly affect our family or Tula, we all felt the sting. I know that past president's have issued similar bans and future presidents will so as well, however, this ban has been about bad politics and bad policy. Americans want to feel safe, but if the causalities are mercy and love, it's not safety we feel, it's loneliness. Two of the exchange students that came over with Tula were from Syria and she, rightly so, has been worried about them. While I don't think that they will be sent home and they will probably be able to get home just fine in June, I can't imagine what it would feel like to have sent your child to a foreign country only to have that country ban all travel and pinpoint your country as a hostile environment. It would be devastating and scary.
These zip top pouches are my go-to gift this year. I made about ten for the just in case I totally forgot that really sweet friend! Three of these are going to women I visit every month and to a lady who has some health problems that I have been getting to know better. Plus they are really fun to make and there is just something fun about a zip pouch. So many possibilities! Art supplies, make-up, a sandwich, socks (okay not socks) and all those really important things you want to keep in a cute little bag!
The pouches are made from scraps and take no more than an hour to make. Less if you apply Ford assembly line techniques and cut all the pieces out a once, ect.,ect.. I used the pattern found in the book Sewing Happiness but there are alot of really great tutorials for these all over the interwebs. HERE, HERE and HERE are good places to start. These are not my first foray into zippered pouches, I have sold a couple on etsy, but this was the first time I added that little scrap bit on the bottom. It was really fun trying to use even the smallest scraps. Plus the contrast turned out a really pretty product.
The best part about these little pouches was the ablity to use up some of my zipper stash. Years and years ago, my sweet nana gave me all her zippers. Which was awesome as I have been using them since. But there were always a couple that I just couldn't find a garment to use with. So when I started this project, I dug out those slightly rejected zippers and build the pouch around it!. I love the bright yellow one and the green one just pops. I also added a little leather cord for the zipper pull. For some reason the zipper pull finishes the whole look, like mascara.
What I love about these little pouches is that they are easy to fill with all kinds of goodies. One I filled with lip gloss and some earrings Lou created. Lou has been eyeing these babies for her own friends as well, which is how I got the earrings... we traded! What else could one put in these pouches? Any ideas?
I was flipping through the Ikea catalog and spotted a wooden bead necklace on one of the pages. I was stuck by the simplicty and beauty of the wood against the leather. It got my brain churning. While I didn't particurlly love the all raw wood necklace that was in the catalog, I did love the look of the leather and bead. The below necklaces are my personal interpretation.
Clearly these necklaces are not for everyone, they are a bit bohemian in nature, but I think you could pull these off with alot of different outfits and occasions.
I purchased the Leather at this etsy shop. The selection is wonderful and the products are top notch. Plus, is it just me who loves the smell of leather! If you end of purchasing the leather from here, I suggest you purchase it in 2 foot increments. Each necklace uses about 2 feet of leather. So if you purchase the 3 foot length, you will end of wasting a bit, which is a pet peave of mine!
The beads came from this shop and the prices were really good, even with the shipping. Most of the beads came pretty well sanded down, but I touched up a couple of ends with sandpaper, that way the paint goes on really smoothly.
I used Martha's paints from Michaels. The colors used were deep sea, vanilla bean, arrowhead, sandcastle, champagne, rose gold, and rose chrome. I wanted a mixture of metallic and satin finishes, which is why some of the beads shimmer. Picking out the colors was the hardest part as it can be hard to see what the colors will really look like on the beads and all together, but it worked out really well.
The above necklaces are my favorite, for some reason the pink bead just makes me smile. And the green bead adds alittle something to the whole look right? You can whip one of these out in an evening. Each bead was sanded and painted twice before stringing on the leather. I think I am going to add a protective layer over the paint. Probably a beeswax shine or something. Any suggestions?
***In an effort to motivate myself to finish all the gifts I have coming down the pipeline, I am sharing what I have been making here on the blog. Hopefully it will inspire you to branch out and create a little something for someone you love. Handmade items can be the best kind of love!***
Ever since I spotted Purl Soho's city gym shorts tutorial, I knew I wanted to make Lou some. Lou plays basketball in the winter, but is always bummed by the gross "boy" short choices and since I have little desire for her to be a walking billboard or spend that much on athletic shorts, making some was the perfect solution.
Luckily this gift cost me $ZERO$ additional dollars, as I already had all the supplies on hand. Mostly leftovers from other projects, which is the best kind of feeling. When you make something really special without needed to spend more money or waste more supplies. Looking at the picture below (left to right), silky-cotton fabric purchased from MOOD, leftover from a shirt project, blue chambray from the bottom half of a maxi skirt I shortened from Old Navy, and lastly, printed linen, left over from a summer dress I made. The bias strips (accents on the short legs) were also made from bits and pieces from my fabric stash.
After downloading and printing the pattern out, I made the bias tape. Making bias tape is not like riding a bicycle for me. I always have to go back and read up on how to make it. EVERY TIME! However, once I wrap my brain around it, it goes really fast and feels pretty easy peasy. I do own a bias tape maker like this one, which is helpful, but not a necessary tool. You could also purchase some bias tape at the store or get super cute bias tape from this etsy shop. I wanted to add a little pop with the bias tape, but subdued would look lovely too!
The pattern is really easy to make and Purl does such a great job with the instructions. The blue linen was the first one I made and I didn't cut the waistband the right width, so I had to modify that pair, but the pattern has wiggle room for those times when you fudge something. I don't own a serger, so I just overlocked all the exposed seams. I also added a tab in the back so that Lou would know which was the backside of the shorts.
I was a little bit worried that the short would come out too skimpy, but the length is really good for running, which is what Leah will be doing in them. But if you want to make the shorts a little longer, scroll down the pattern page on Purl Soho site because there are a lot of great suggestions about length modification and how to add pockets as well. Overall, high marks for the pattern and the shorts look great, don't they!
There are two places in Bluffton that you can purchase sewing items and fabric. Walmart and
Quilts n Gifts.
Walmart: This is the least expensive place to purchase fabric, but buyer beware, you get what you pay for. Cheap fabric is less durable, shrinks more and often bleeds when washed. So if your item is going to be used and laundered, best to purchase a better quality fabric. However, sometimes your item is seasonal and not something that will get played with, washed or touched a lot, then you might consider purchasing some fabric from Walmart. One more thing to remember, if that item you are sewing takes six hours of your time, don't use cheap fabric. Your time is worth better quality ingredients. You can purchase both pre-cut and by the bolt fabric at Walmart.
Quilts n Gifts: You can peruse there website HERE. This is a shop that is dedicated to quilting cottons, though they have a really nice selection of high end wool and felting supplies. The fabric selection is varied, though when I want something modern and funky, I go elsewhere. Quilts n Gifts has a large amount of retro print fabrics, every solid color you could need and a lots of basics like polka dots or quilting plaids. Expect to pay almost twice what you will pay at Walmart, however, the quality is top-notch and you are supporting a small business. Just things to think about.
Outside of Bluffton, your options open up.
Engine House Quilts: This quilt shop is located in Berne and is next to some really cute shops (I am a big fan of Nora Gray), so it is a little more fun to shop here, but I rarely find anything that I can't live without. Engine House Quilts has an entirely different line up of fabric than Quilts n Gifts, but the curator and I don't seem to have the same taste. Most of the products are quilting cottons, but they have a good selection of Minky and other quilt back fabrics. However, the shop is lovely and they keep their fabrics in matching families, so it is easier to find coordinating fabrics. Also, the owner is really helpful. All of their fabric is top quality, so expect to pay $$$.
Joann Fabric: There is one in Marion and one in Fort Wayne, so it's a bit of drive, but the selections are really modern and classical, plus they have a good line of medium quality fabrics. Joann's also has a large selection of non-cotton fabrics. This is the place to purchase bag canvas, lawns, denim and jersey knit. Joann's quilting cotton is reasonably priced between $4-7 per yard. That lands right between Walmart and small quilting shops. So it is a good medium ground to start on. Plus there are always tons and tons of sales and coupons. You should never pay "full" price at Joann's.
The October classes are some of my favorite things to sew. The Make and Take classes, the rice bag and headbands, are simple, useful and fun to sew. Both the Everything tote bag and the Basic Apron are great fundamental sewing projects that get used often. Plus they make the very best kind of gift. Each class will introduce specific sewing skills and help build confidence.
The best part of each project is that you can customize with your fabric selection. The make and take classes only need two fat quarters, which means you had an endless supply of options. Plus you will have some fabric left over to take home and make a couple more!
Dates and Times for Classes are:
Wednesday, October 5th @10-11am Make and Take Rice Bags $6
Wednesday, October 12th @10-11am Make and Take Headbands $6
Tuesday, October 18th @10-1pm Basic Apron $18
Saturday, October 22nd @9-11:30am Everything Tote-bag $24
If you want to take a class, but find that the scheduling doesn't work for you, send me a message using my comment box which you can find in the upper right hand of the website and we can figure out a time that works for you!
I hope that you have found something that sparks your inner maker and will join us for one of these great classes. Send a registration form in and I will send you all the information that you need to know! Can't wait to see you in class.
I still have one slot open for Monday's class. This is a great beginner class for any child (or adult). This skirt is basically the same set up for the Lazy Summer Skirt class, but on a smaller scale. I know that one of my very first forays into sewing was making clothes for my dolls. It was usually a skirt or cape of some sort and I was always very proud of my creations.
Each student will learn the basics about their machine and then learn how to measure and cut out a simple pattern. Once the skirt is made, the students will make a headband that matches.
Not quite a complete outfit, but something new and fun to dress their dolls in! Also, I am not a professional doll photographer!
So join in on the fun and register today! There will be no regrets!
Monday: Chicken Ramen Salad
Tuesday: Cold Cut Sandwiches
Thursday: Rice Bowls
Friday: Dinner with friends!
Saturday: Celebration Dinner w/Family: My brother is done with Residency!
Sunday: Stir Fry
What are you making for dinner? Are you eating out of your garden yet? All we have is lettuce, but that is good enough for me!
Lou sewed this skirt. All by herself. I helped by showing her what to do, but ultimately it was all her. She picked out the casing once, had to re-iron the hem once and struggled getting the elastic through. Totally normal stuff for the first time. Even the first time that adults make this skirt, they have the same struggles.
Lou picked the fabric out and I was really hesitant at the choice. Fabric with a one way direction can be a beast at lining up right. We talked a lot about keeping close watch over how she pinned. She did a great job. That hem looks great and you don't go crazy over trying to figure out what is wrong with the fabric.
In order to make this skirt, Lou had to measure her own body and make the skirt to her specifications. She had to measure the fullest part of her bottom half, which happened to be her hips. She then took that measurement and her outer seam measurement and make two rectangles of fabric. Sewed a big tube. Made the waistband. Hemmed the skirt and bam! An adorable-wear-every-where skirt. Its a great jumping off point on how to create clothes that work for your own body. While this particular exercise wouldn't work great for adult, because we have hips and a bunch of other inhibitions, it works great for the budding sewer.
What I love about this sewing project is how simple, quick and fun it is. Not to mention all the bonding time right!
For those living in the Fort Wayne Area, I am teaching a class on how to make this skirt in July. Just check out the home page for all the info!
Prior to purchasing our house, we put all of our "extra" expenses on hold. Buying a house is full of unforeseen costs and we wanted to be prepared should we feel nickeled and dimed to death. But that time has passed and each month I have been slowly replacing or updating items that we use everyday. Last month was bento boxes and the month before everyone got new sheets! (West Elm sheets are heavenly!) This month was towels. Because we have four children, I heavily considered the idea of purchasing different colored towels for each one. The idea seems to hold merit and I know a lot of people who use this technique to keep the towel situation stable. But I ultimately decided to go with all white because I really DON'T LIKE COLORED TOWELS. Isn't that a weird quirk? I guess it boils down to two things, laundry and aesthetic. I like doing large loads of towels, but hate having to separate them and white goes with so many things. I never even have to think about it. Shallow, perhaps, but I just like the look of white. And since all my current towels are a hodgepodge mess of chaos, gross and old, all white sounds lovely. (Who has just one orange towel?)
I looked at a couple of online options, but decided I really wanted to feel the towels. Costco had a great price/quality combo and since these towels are for the kiddos, I wasn't ready to invest in $25 dollars per towel. I bought two packs so that I could give each kid two towels, and then have four left over. The left over towels will be guest towels unless I decide that the kids really needed three a piece.
I then raided my ribbon. This project is a great way to get rid of all the bits and pieces. I used two ribbons from my vintage stash. There are a lot of really cool notions out there. So check out Etsy if you are looking for something eclectic.
I first tried using 7 inch pieces, but that proved too long, so I took off an inch and that worked perfect. I then cut all the rest of the ribbons to 6 inches long. Since I am making two towels per kid that made for a total of eight ribbons cut at six inch lengths.
I then sewed each ribbon, right sides (or pretty sides) together, with an approximate 1/2 inch seam allowance. It is important to stitch them right sides together, so that when you stitch the tag onto the towel, you cover and reinforce the "raw" ends. This helps to mitigate any fraying from the ribbon end, which will occur when you wash the towels.
I then turned them pretty sides out and trimmed any excess thread.
I pinned the ribbon to the middle of one of the long sides of the towel, not on one of the corners. If you sew the tab to the corner, the towel will hang too long and drag on the floor. So instead, just measure the middle of the longest side of the towel and pin the ribbon there. You can see how the towel had a fold indent already there!
I sewed the ribbon to the towel in two places. Once on the edge of the ribbon and once on the edge of the towel. The picture really shows what I am talking about. These two stitch lines also help to "seal" the raw ribbon edges in!
The two sets of stitches also adds strength to the ribbon as there will be much tugging. Kids can be really tough on this kind of stuff, so I heavily stitched those tags down.
It's that easy, that fast. Our kids keep their towels in the rooms because they like to shower in both bathrooms (it's totally weird, but having two options is still amazing to my kids...).
This is just one way to get a little more organized! The old towels will be downgraded to canning towels, which I store in the canning cabinet. That means they get used for all the messy stuff, like canning, animal cleaning, car cleaning and other stuff I don't want to cross contaminate with my body drying towels.
Other then driving to Costco to purchase the towels, the whole thing took only 45 minutes to complete. Which makes this project fast and easy way to add some order to your towels!