Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Altering a too tight waistband

Okay, I'm about to expose a flaw. I think I'm a little thicker around the waist than most people my size, because I often run into the too-tight-waistband-but-fits-great-everywhere-else type of problem with store bought pants. And, since nobody likes a muffin top, I have finally mastered the way to fix this issue.

I recently bought some pants at Old Navy that I loved. They were on super clearance--I paid $4 (the original price was $42!) and they fit so great except for that waistband! I bought them anyway, determined to find a solution because I really do need some dress pants in my wardrobe.

Here's what I did. The back of the pants had darts sewn in below the waistband, so I just cut those babies open. (Please excuse the terrible pictures!)
Then, I bought some of the widest black elastic I could find. I think it's about 3" wide, but if you need wider, you could do this same thing with a knit fabric. I spread the darts out about and inch and a half each and sewed the elastic behind it, first with a straight stitch, then with a satin stitch to cover the raw edges. It looks like this:
Trim the elastic on the back:
And do the other dart! Here's what mine look like now:
Some super comfortable dress pants! For four bucks. Score.

I hope this helps some of my thick-waisted friends out there :)  I know a lot of women have the opposite problem--many pear shaped gals I know really hate the huge gap they get in the back of their waistband. The solution there is to simply sew two darts into the back, centered over the pockets.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Collaborative Quilting

Jenn and I have been working on a quilt. Or, I should say, two quilts! Almost identical, but not quite. These blocks are starting to look pretty awesome together, so it's time to share!

Here's how it works. We will each make 12 wonky log cabin blocks, but we make two of each one. So we're making 6 different blocks, but two at a time. Does that make sense? Because we decided on 16" blocks and we are using only scraps, it's difficult to make them exactly the same, but the small differences add to the fun! Then, we mail one of each set to the other person, as we finish them. When we each have 12, we'll each be able to make an awesome quilt, made by both of us! So fun!!!

Here's a few of what I have so far:
That was before I made some more last month. Here's one of two that I meant to put in Jenn's birthday box and just realized yesterday that I forgot. Whoops.
See? Almost the same, but not quite.

The process is such a fun mess :)
Ah, yes, that huge tub is completely crammed with my small scraps. I'm working on it, though! I started a quilt for Kelby that will hopefully help make a dent in it :)

So, there ya go, our version of collaborative quilting. Find a sewing buddy and hop to it! ... if you want ;)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More Jenn

No fancy intro here, but CHECK OUT WHAT JENN MADE ME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!!
ACK! Isn't it beautiful?????  Does she get me, or what? The linen. Those colors. The yellow polka dot binding. *sigh*
The kids already know, this is "Mommy's special quilt". Ha! I let them use it too ... under my watchful eye ;)

I dug around and found the picture of the quilt I made Jenn a long time ago. Three Christmases ago? Or four? Can't remember.
Just this past week, Jenn thought they might have to evacuate their home because of a fire headed their way. She texted me a pic of her pile of stuff to take with them and this quilt was in that pile, right along with her sewing machines and other most special things. Made me happy.

One more day of Jenn week!! See ya tomorrow :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Time for Tea

So, this week, all the blog posts I have to write happen to be about my friend, Jenn. Ha! I didn't plan to dedicate a whole blogging week to her, but many of the crafty/sewy things going in and out of here lately involve her, so there ya go.

I know I've written a little about our friendship in the past, but in case you missed it, Jenn and I met while living in Georgia, just before both our husbands deployed to the war in Iraq in 2003. There is no doubt in either of our minds, that God orchestrated this friendship. As a 20-year-old new wife, I don't know how I would have gotten through that deployment without her!

At the time, Jenn found out I was a sewer and she knew the basics and had a machine and really wanted to learn more. So, we got busy. We spent hours, days even, sewing together, working on sooooo many projects, from copying designer skirts to slipcovering her furniture (while her AC was out! In the Summer! In GEORGIA!) Good times. Anyway, sewing is a HUGE part of the history of our friendship. We've lived in different states for many years now, but still sew for each other a lot and talk about sewing a lot!

Without further ado, let Jenn week commence!! (Haha! I can hear you laughing at this, Jenn!)

Jenn has recently gotten into tea. I love tea too, but even more so since I got one of these before Christmas:
It's an Oster electric kettle (Target, 40 bucks) and I use it constantly, no exaggeration! I boil water in the morning, use it for my french press coffee, maybe for the kids' oatmeal and for tea throughout the day. It's awesome. I told Jenn about it and she got one too :)

So, for her birthday, I bought her this:
It's from Anthropologie, of course :)

AND, I made her this!
It's  a little mini quilt/tea mat. The tea cup and letters are from the book, Out of the Box with Easy Blocks 
It was soooo much fun to free piece all of that! (even though my tea cup handle needs work, I know). I can't wait to make more from this book. There's a princess cow that's calling my name ;)

While I was dwelling on the tea subject, I started noticing how many tea sets and tea pots I have. Should I be embarrassed that it's a lot??

My parents brought me this one last time my Dad was in the states!! I love it. The kids and I use it and feel very fancy :)
That tea cup tray in the background is from IKEA, in case you're wondering.

Stay tuned, because tomorrow I'm going to show you what Jenn made me for Christmas!!!! It's AMAZING!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


January. Blah. I always get the blues in January! It's dumb. But, sewing perks me up :) So does cleaning. But, I'm going to blog about sewing, then I'll go clean, okie doke?

Like I said before, I needed more tops in my winter wardrobe, since I'm forced to wear pants more. In the Summer I wear dresses almost every day! When's groundhog day again? I'm ready! But, anyway, I made this top last week and have already worn it twice. I wore it under a cardigan because it's chilly, but still, I love it!
I've had this knit fabric for awhile, but I have to be in the mood to sew knits, so when I get in the knit groove, I make several things at once! In fact, I've made three knit tops and two knit dresses over the last several weeks!

This pattern is Butterick 5237 and you can read my review here.
As you can see, mine looks a little different. I was too lazy busy to sew all those little pleats in the neckline by hand in three places, so I gathered it up and sewed a ribbon to the underside instead. But, I love ruffles, so it works for me! This is an easy going top, quick to make, fun to wear and I'd recommend this pattern. I don't love the other views though.

Then, I made this top:
It's actually the same fabric as the purple top, but in brown. Looking at this picture, I'm not sure this is a flattering as I thought it was, but maybe after I wash it, that bias hem will ruffle less. I dunno.

This is Simplicity 2369 and I'm not going to bother reviewing it because it's already been reviewed a bazillion times on patternreview.com.
I still need to share those two dresses! One of these days, I'll dress up and get on it, but today...it's too cold outside :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Remember how I said that whenever Casey goes out of town, something dramatic happens?? Last time it was the heater. The time Kelby puked on my computer? He was out of town then too. This time (he's been gone all week), Kelby shoved a play tent poll down his throat and punctured a tonsil.  I loaded all three kids up to go to the ER, only to spend the night there with Kelby while my blessed family members picked up my girls and stayed with them at home. Kelby's fine now, but it was really painful for him for a few days.

That night, though, I kept thinking how blessed I am to have healthy children. My heart goes out to the few moms in my acquaintance for whom hospital stays are simply a part of life. I've been saying extra prayers for those parents and their precious children since Monday.

In other news, I have some good homeschooling books and ideas to share with you today! The first is a book I picked up at a thrift store for about a dollar and it's turned out to be a good one!
We do one lesson a week. We read the story during circle time in the morning then talk about the discussion questions. Then, there are activities and drawing activities you can do too. The girls each have a notebook to draw in.

Next, and probably the most brilliant, is the Mom Bucks Store!!! This was in no way my idea. I got it from my sister, who I think may have gotten it from someone else, so credit does not belong here, but boy do I have to pass this idea along! The kids get Mom Bucks for a number of things throughout the week. I give out lots. Especially for things that it is usually difficult to motivate Natalie to do. Like putting on her glasses for school without complaining, doing her best at handwriting, etc... Even Kelby gets Mom Bucks for things like going potty, being a good boy during school and helping with little jobs. I found this printable and printed a bunch.

THEN, on Friday, after school and after we clean the kids' rooms (for which they get more Mom Bucks for helping with a happy heart), they get to go shopping at my Mom Bucks Store!
It's loaded with stuff from the Dollar Spot at Target, and several little treats. Hot chocolate packets, Pop Tarts, erasers, pencils, silly straws. And also, coupons for 30 minutes of computer time or time on my Nook. The girls love the dress up games on Barbie.com. I don't take Mom Bucks away for "bad behavior". That's no fun.

This has been a huge hit and highly motivating for all the kids. It's something to work towards, which is very important to Natalie especially :)

Third, I discovered this book recently:
It's kinda funny because I had ordered it before going to visit my sister in December, but for some reason my order never went through. Then, my sister pulled it out and said, "here, I thought you might like this". Ha! We LOVE it! Natalie actually asks to do more activities from this book and the girls continue the activities even after school time is over. There are all kinds of games and activities for all ages and all areas of math. We are loving it. We can all do it together (even Kelby!) and it takes little to no preparation for most things. It makes math fun!

Lastly, I got this idea from somewhere online, but I can't remember where, so I can't take credit for this either. We have prayer time before we start school each day, but Natalie was reluctant to pray and Layla prayed for the same basic things every day. So, we got a pail and some big popsicle sticks and created a Prayer Pail.
Since these are the kids' own ideas of what to pray for, they really enjoy choosing three each day and praying out loud for them. Their prayers are basic and adorable. I think God must just love prayers from little ones :)

Well, Casey's on his way home from Nebraska, so my single parenting will end until next time. Can't wait to see what adventures await the next time he leaves town, ha!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

knits and picks

I've made some things this week that happen to all be knits! I made a really fabulous dress (maybe the best dress I've ever made for myself!) but I don't have a picture of me in it yet, so that will have to wait a few days.

BUT, I did try a knit top pattern! I think it turned out pretty well:
It may not be the best shape on me, but I love the fabric and tops are seriously lacking in my wardrobe, while I have a lot of dresses (which just don't get worn as much in the Winter because I find tights so uncomfortable. If you can recommend and brand of tights that doesn't feel like a rubber band is around your waist, I will love you forever). But, anyway, the pattern for this is Butterick 5709 and you can read my review here.

While I had a stretch needle in my machine, I refashioned a top that I didn't like so much. I didn't take a before picture, but this was a top I got at Kohl's awhile back, but only wore a few times because I felt a little matronly in it. It was too floaty for my taste and the sleeves were seriously full flutter sleeves. Not my favorite, I felt like they widened my shoulders a lot. But, I like the print and it's very soft, so I thought I'd try to fix it. Here's how it looks now:
Nothin' like a headless photo to show you what you really look like in skinny jeans, huh? I think the jury's still out for me--my fashion consultant moved across the country. But, back to the shirt.  I took in the side seams and added gathers and elastic to the sleeves. I really like it now! Glad I could give it a second life :)  

The new Spring lines are out for both McCall's and Simplicity! I'm excited about a few of them. Here are my picks:
M5603. I like both the views with ruffles. Surprise, surprise ;)

M6507. I don't usually go for cowls, but the rest of the bodice is fitted enough and the back is really pretty, so I'll give this one a try. I love that print on the model too!

M6518. This is just cute. Although, I don't know how many occasions I would have to wear it. We'll see. 

M6514. I don't even have close to the body type to pull these off, but don't they look comfy!? I like the view on the model on the right, but I would have to seriously start kicking my butt with my kettlebell to even attempt wearing these, hahahaha!

M6498. For the girls, of course. But not those funky pants. The rest of it is super cute, though. 

I like this jacket and the pants. I think a lightweight denim for that jacket would make it less businessy and more fitting for my lifestyle. 

That's it for Simplicity, actually, but McCall's is a winner this time around! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Layla's FIVE!!

That's right, my sweet Layla Jane turned 5 today!!! At 7:45 this morning, to be exact :)  As is my custom, I took some special birthday pictures of her. This one's my favorite:
I made her a special dress (with matching purse) for her birthday. She really loves it and looks adorable!
This girl is turning into to such a wonderful person. She is already so sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, she's generous beyond her years (tonight, just before taking the last piece of cheese pizza, her favorite, she stopped and said she wanted to Daddy to have that piece, because it's his favorite too) and is a budding peacemaker for sure. Most importantly, she is so eager to please God and truly sensitive to things of the Lord. What a gal! I'm so thankful for her.

By the way, the dress and purse pattern is this one and I recommend it, but only with a shirt underneath. It's a little too gapey to go shirtless, I'm afraid. Great pattern, though, I love the apron!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year Ponderings

It is SO much fun reading everyone's thoughts and goals for the new year on blogs and Facebook! So now, It's my turn :)

I have some practical intentions too, but I've really been praying about what God wants for me in this new year and since I really like the "one word" idea, I was trying to seek out a word from Him. I tossed a few around and then yesterday it came to me clearly--faithfulness. I need to strive for faithfulness in my day-to-day. To have joy in the mundane and persevere through what seems tough right now (homeschooling two very different learners while dealing with an, ahem, busy three-year-old, all while Casey is out of town more often than I would like.) To not strive for something big, meaningful and spectacular that will get me noticed, but to be faithful and happily content with the tasks God has given me, even if no one notices but Him.

Some more encouragement along these lines came from Nancy Wilson's post on contentment here.

And the lyrics to Andrew Peterson's song, All the Way Home were SO inspiring to me yesterday:

By the grace of God 
I'll walk in the rain of His mercy 
Let it soak me down to the bone 
And splash in its puddles 
And dance in its streams as I go 
And, Lord, I'll walk in the rain of Your mercy 
All the way home.

SO, on to my practical intentions (isn't that a nicer world than resolutions??)

There are a couple of quilts I want to finish in the coming months. One is Kelby's. This is the pattern and I've done exactly one block.
They're time consuming! But, it will be worth it :)

Another is my birdie stitches quilt, which was a 2011 block of the month from this lovely lady. I got to April, but May is on the hoop now! It's going to be cute!

Also, in the fitness department, I bought a kettlebell! I'm excited to try it.

Annnnnd, I printed off a chronological Bible reading plan and started that yesterday. I'm excited about that too! It's not essential to me that I finish in a year. It might take two :)

I'd love to hear your intentions for the new year!!