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A Blustery Halloween

A Blustery Halloween

Preschool We kicked off Halloween with Cooper’s first ever school Halloween Party. I was slightly appalled at how much sugar the kids got at the party and realized that I may become that mom who is suggesting we have carrot sticks for the kids to eat. I was, however, the only mom at the party that dressed up so I could still potentially be in the running for coolest mom, right?

Car CartBefore heading home we picked up a few items at the grocery store for our Halloween celebration. Our festive attire earned us several compliments as well as a few strange conversations with crazy people.

PumpkinWe’ve had our pumpkin since going to Utah in September, but didn’t get around to carving it until the afternoon of Halloween. Cooper “helped” me clean it out and then we all carved it when Noel got home.

Bat PumpkinIt was so windy that the pumpkin actually got blown off the porch and cracked a bit.

PebblesIn case you haven’t guessed it already, we dressed up as the Flintstones for Halloween. I haven’t been able to convince Noel to dress up since the Flamboyant Matador Incident of 2010, but when I suggested Cooper and Ellen be Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles Noel got very excited about us being Fred and Wilma. (Maybe it’s because there’s something more manly about a caveman than a guy that dresses in yellow and hangs out with a monkey.) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have always lived places where it’s cooler in October and not out of the ordinary for it to snow on Halloween, and I’ve long thought it was ridiculous that people would wear such ridiculously weather inappropriate costumes. Even when I was a teenager, I thought this and I distinctly remember helping with a city Halloween event my Senior year and dressing up as an Eskimo because it seemed practical. Because of this, my goal was to create warm costumes that still stayed true to the Flintstone’s vibe.

Flintstone's Family 2I think I did a pretty good job staying true to the spirit of the characters and we were all so warm and cozy in our fleece costumes. I also think Noel was grateful he didn’t have to wear a dress. (It should be noted that Noel switched his short sleeves for long sleeves when he took the kids out trick-or-treating, but does have a much higher tolerance for the cold as was exhibited when he spent 10 minutes outside in a t-shirt in the whipping wind helping some trick-or-treaters look for their lost phone.)

Car CartBy the end of the night everyone was pretty tired, so we gave everyone carrot sticks and warm baths. Both kids fell asleep immediately, even Ellen who typically spends at least 30 minutes babbling to her stuffed animals. If that doesn’t represent a successful Halloween, I don’t know what does.

Repurposing Adult Clothes into Kid Clothes

Repurposing Adult Clothes into Kid Clothes

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a fan of repurposing. It gives me kind of a weird thrill to turn something that has lost its use into something really useful for hardly any money. I also like to sew, but the majority of my sewing is either for profit or personal use. This is partly because I’m selfish, but also partly because sewing clothes for little people can be really frustrating since everything is so tiny and they often don’t wear it for very long. (I’m not going to go into the myriad of reasons why I don’t make Noel clothes.) I do however make kid clothes for special occasions and have started making pants for the boy-whose-pants-fall-off-even-though-he-wears-gigantic-cloth-diapers. When I take on these tasks I like to go through my stash of clothes set aside for future unnamed projects. Turning adult clothes into kid clothes not only saves money and reduces waste, but it also can make the finished product look more professional. Allow me to explain.

A pair of shorts with a hole in the crotch turn nicely into a smart looking pinstriped pants for the boy.
A pair of shorts with a hole in the crotch turn nicely into a smart looking pinstriped pant for the boy.

As often as possible I try to keep original hems. This produces a cleaner look in the finished garment and also saves you time. This is often easier to do with capris, shorts, or skirts since pants sometimes drag on the ground. I’m lucky that my husband is super tall so his old shirts currently are perfect for making cute pants for our skinny kid. In case you were wondering, I typically use this basic kid pant tutorial. If there’s enough fabric, I make the pants extra long and hem them using this technique so the professional hem is still visible, but the life of the pants has been extended.

Top
A sequined top of mine transitions nicely into a warm weather tunic for Miss Ellen.

Store bought items often have fun embellishments that I like to work into the new item. Once again, you’ve saved yourself some time and the item doesn’t look homemade to the naked eye.

An old sweater shirt into an asymmetrical cardigan and an old dress into a special occasion toddler dress.
An old favorite sweater shirt into an asymmetrical cardigan and a fancy dress I wore on the first date a boy asked me on turned into a special occasion toddler dress.

Reusing items often means I’m using a higher quality fabric than I probably would have bought, which also doesn’t tip most people off that the item is homemade.  Of course I can’t neglect the added sentimental bonus repurposing can bring. I often hold onto articles of clothing because of the memories they hold even though I have absolutely no intent of wearing them. By turning them into something else, you free up space in your house and the memories can live on.

P.S. Today’s the last day to enter the giveaway. If you haven’t done so yet, hurry over to Monday’s post and leave a comment before I wake up tomorrow morning and choose a winner!
DownEast Remix

DownEast Remix

Dress Without JacketDo you ever have one of those moments when you discover a hole in an article of clothing, start angrily muttering under your breath about how you can’t believe this item you just bought is already falling apart, but then almost have a heart attack when you start counting in your mind and realize that you’ve owned this item for 5+ years? Happens to me all the time. Where does the time go? What to do with these pieces is always a bit of a conundrum for me. I’m a huge fan of second-hand shops (for both donating and purchasing), but I feel bad donating clothes that aren’t in bad enough shape to be recycled (for those shops that participate in those programs), but also aren’t in great enough shape for someone to really want to wear them. Often, I just stash them in my sewing room and wait for brilliance to strike. Which is what happened with my “new” dress I’m posting about today.

Don't we have the best pictures?
Don’t we have the best pictures?

I had a dress I bought from DownEast several years ago that I loved. It was such an amazing dress that three other women in our church congregation also owned it and we each unofficially adopted a week of the month that was our “turn” to wear it. Over the years it somehow got stretched out though.

Yes, we are hot and tired.
Yes, we are hot and tired. But isn’t Mini Coop adorable?

I also had a basic pink tee from DownEast that had an unraveling hem. When both items had landed in my sewing room pile, I knew it was time for a DownEast Remix. I cut a few strips off the bottom of the shirt and used this tutorial to make the “braided” neckline. (I did two rows of the “braid.”)  Then I cut the original top off the dress, did a basting stitch around the raw edge and cinched it till it was the same size as the bottom of the t-shirt, and sewed them together using regular thread on top and elastic thread in my bobbin. (I based a lot of the dress assembly off of this t-shirt dress tutorial.) I added a belt and voila, as good as new.

Dress w/ Jacket And just for fun, look how cute this little girl looks with her tiny ponytail.

2-IMG_0783

Sometimes . . .

Sometimes . . .

  • I think I’ve blogged because I composed beautiful posts in my head while running or doing housework, but then I realize I haven’t posted in over a week.
  • I feel sad that the world misses out on these beautiful posts on the minutia of our lives.  Like how now that I have a Brother sewing machine and serger I like to imagine I’m on Project Runway working in the Brother sewing room and Tim Gunn is encouraging me to “make it work.”  You guys are really missing out.Brother Sewing Room
  • Cooper drives me crazy with his scavenging. Nutella Boy
  • Ellen drives me crazy with her fascination with toilets and garbage.

Full Toilet

  • That baby refuses to nap and things like this happen.

Sleepy Baby

  • I do whatever I can to placate the kids so I can make dinner.

Yum

  • I have a million things I need to do, but decide to dig around in our yard instead because I’d just rather spend time outdoors getting dirty.

Girls love dirt!

Giant Plane Bag

Giant Plane Bag

On our recent trip we didn’t check any bags. It was kind of pain to haul three carry-on bags, two car seats, two strollers, and three personal items through the airport; I guess that just shows how cheap crazy we are.* Because we wanted to get the most out of our allotted free items, I decided I needed to make myself a giant plane bag for my personal item. I used some home decor fabric leftover from another project (and originally purchased on clearance), a pair of Noel’s old pants, and the bottom of the bag I upcycled into snack bags. I loosely followed this tutorial, but for the most part I kind of just made up my own thing. (Are you starting to notice a trend?) I thought about writing my own tutorial, but sometimes when you’re making stuff up as you go that gets a bit complicated . . . look, I’m just glad the thing didn’t turn out to be a giant mess 🙂

I did not end up using the zipper pictured.

I cut the pockets out of Noel’s pants to use inside the bag and cut the legs into long strips for the ties. I also paired the drawstring with an old carabiner for my “key tether.”

View of the interior

Three interior pockets, a place for my water bottle and a giant side compartment where I stash diaper stuff. The bottom piece even pulls out so you can throw this in the washing machine. Oh, this bag has everything. But because it has everything it is HUGE. So, it might not be the most practical thing in everyday life, but at the airport: complete lifesaver.

*On the way home we asked kindly if they couldn’t just check our carry-ons for free since they would take up the same amount of space no matter where they were and if we didn’t have to carry them on the plane we could board faster and irritate less people. They kindly obliged. I guess it never hurts to ask.

Ruffle Fabric Pencil Skirt

Ruffle Fabric Pencil Skirt

I love the look of pre-ruffled fabric and how easy it is to use. I got a good deal on some red ruffle fabric, but since red isn’t exactly my color I saved it for a special birthday present for my sister. As with most of the things I do, I read several tutorials and after not finding any one in particular that fit my needs, I kind of did my own thing. My approach wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s so simple and has a flattering result that I thought I’d share. You’ll want to make seven or eight for yourself I’m sure.

Supplies

  • 1/2-3/4 yard pre-ruffled fabric (Your yardage will depend on your height.)
  • 1/2-3/4 yard matching/coordinating knit (Since this is a lining the look of the fabric isn’t quite as important. I used an old t-shirt to line the skirt I made for myself.)
  • Matching Thread
  • Wide Elastic (2″+ preferably)

 

Fold a pencil skirt you own in half and trace. Add 1/4″-1/2″ to the edges depending on how big of a seam allowance you will be using. I used 1/4.” Cut two pieces on the fold of both the ruffle fabric and the knit. (To achieve this with only 1/2-3/4 yd I laid my fabric out, found the center, and brought each edge to the center to create two folds.) Make sure you line the top of the pattern up against the top of a ruffle so the ruffles on the front and back of the skirt will line up.

Match the right sides of the ruffle fabric up and the right sides of the knit fabric up.

I’m usually not too pin crazy, but with the ruffle fabric I put a pin in each ruffle to make sure everything stayed in place. You don’t want to catch any of the ruffles up because then you have to unpick stitches which is one of my least favorite things in the world.

Once you’ve sewed the sides of the ruffle fabric and the knit lining, put the knit inside the ruffle skirt and match up the side seams. You can sew the two layers together at this point if you want, but I was lazy and didn’t. The easiest way to do the waistband is to take the elastic, wrap it around your waist, pull it just a little bit so the elastic can properly do its job, and make a cut that leaves a little extra for a seam allowance. Sew the two ends together and then pin over the top of the skirt. Sew around the top. Give the skirt a final once over to make sure none of the ruffles were caught weird in the seams and trim any fabric that may pop out from underneath your bottom ruffle. You can hem the knit lining if you want, but you can also skip that since the knit won’t fray and hopefully no one will be examining the lining of your skirt.

 

Too Big Tank to Just Right Tee

Too Big Tank to Just Right Tee

The other day we were at the mall walking around and enjoying their A/C. I stepped into a Motherhood Maternity Outlet to check out their nursing wares. I’d heard really good things about their pull-down tanks and figured I’d check and see if they had any for a good price. (Honestly, I was mostly looking for things to prolong my stay in the overly air conditioned building.) The selection in my size was slim, unimpressive, and not any sort of deal. I was looking at some of the fun prints available in larger sizes and saw an XL tank at a severely discounted price. I thought to myself, “Man, it’s not fair that something made out of so much more fabric costs so much less.” So much more fabric. So much less. A light bulb went off in my brain. If I bought a tank top in my size I’d have to wear something with it for the sake of modesty, which would mean one more layer which is something I’m really not looking for at the moment. If I bought a tank top that was too big, It would cost less and I could use the extra fabric to make sleeves and avoid adding an additional sweaty layer. Brilliant.

The first thing I did was take up the neckline a little bit. I turned the tank inside out, pinned the shoulder straps together and took about 1/4″ seam. I then tried it on and decided the cut was satisfactory.

Next I turned the tank inside out and took a little off the side, making sure not to cut too much into the armpit since I still wanted to be able to get the thing on.

Then I folded the shirt in half so I could take the same amount off the other side. After that I pinned the sides together and sewed them from armpit to hem.

To make the sleeves I measured my arm and cut a rectangle that was the Width of My Arm X the Height of My Desired Sleeve. I rounded the edges off, folded the sleeve in half, matched it up right sides together to the shoulder seam on the shirt, pinned it and stitched it together. (Here’s a pretty good explanation of how to do a cap sleeve, although I didn’t ruffle mine and attached it a little different.) Voila, nursing tee!

I wore it to the park today and it was perfect for the 90 degree temperature. When it came time to feed Ellen I whipped out one of my swaddle blankets and tugged down my top. One of the other moms told me she’d never seen anyone look so elegant while breastfeeding. A true compliment indeed.

What We Wore

What We Wore

Save The Trees Shirt: gift, rue21 Shorts: circa 2003 – no idea on the price, Timex Ironman Watch: gift, Chacos: REI Outlet Circa 2006 – $45

 

Brown Ballet Flats: Totsy – $4.75, Skinny Cords: gift circa 2005, upcycled 2012, Pink Shirt: Down East – free, Polka Dot Shirt: Deseret Industries – $2.50, Earrings: gift

Since we are obviously trendsetters we thought we’d document these outfits we just threw together so we could inspire all of you. Seriously though, I remember when my college newspaper started featuring random students’ outfits. I thought it was a weird thing to do. Now this type of thing is ALL OVER the internet. These days I mostly find these types of posts amusing (Holy crap, people really pay that much for belts!?!?), but every once in awhile they make me feel ever so slightly covetous.  One of the sewing bloggers I follow regularly documents her outfits. I generally don’t pay these posts much attention, but right after Ellen was born she had a post where she was wearing a pair of burnt orange skinny cords that the irrational part of my brain told me I had to have.  My grandma had just given me some money intended for a “new mom” outfit, so I did some investigation and found that the pants cost a mere $150 at Anthropolgie. I guess that’s not too much for some people, but just thinking about paying that much for a pair of pants hurts every cheap bone in my body. (Don’t worry grandma, I bought something much more sensible.) So the dream of the burnt orange skinny cords got laid to rest. Then one day I was sitting at the kitchen table looking at an old pair of cords hanging on the line and inspiration struck. With a little help from a bootcut to skinny jean tutorial I had myself a new pair of pants by the end of naptime.

(Do you like how I dressed up for the after picture, but not the before? That’s a little trick I learned from weight loss ads.)

Before you get started, check the seams on your pants. The inside of my pants had a decorative overlay, so taking in the plain, outside seam was a better option. I actually still stuck with the  inside seam though and just took in the entire inner leg seam, crotch and all, to make the pants a little more low rise.  And here’s a little tip, if you turn the pants inside out when you pin them, you save yourself a step.

And you can take awesome pictures.

Oh, and don’t worry. We won’t be doing what we wore posts on a regular basis. That was just for kicks.

Open For Business

Open For Business

After sewing up a frenzy, taking a million photos, and anguishing over pricing, my shop is officially open for business. Right now I am testing the market/waters, so if there’s anything that you don’t see that you want to see or something you’d be willing to pay more for, let me know. Also, if there are typos anywhere in the shop, let me know ASAP. I hate typos. (How embarrassing.) Any other feedback is welcomed as well. If you like what you see, spread the word. Tweet, pin, mail a letter to a friend, use that Facebook thingy, whatever gets your social mojo going.

A Marvelous Modern Momma | Etsy

The Audrey Top

The Audrey Top

I bought some discounted fabric with the intentions of making a Dolman style top. The top was great, the fabric was wrong. It was way too heavy for a Dolman top, instead of looking light and airy, it looked like I was being weighed down.  Then I tried to make it into a more fitted top that seemed more appropriate for the fabric, but since I didn’t really have a vision and was just making stuff up as I went the end result was less than desirable. Next, I opted to try and remake the thing into a pencil skirt, but at this point I was frazzled and trying to sew too quickly during nap time which was a bad idea. The skirt was a flop. Complete disaster. I realized at this point that I’d lost my sewing mojo, so I needed to make something I could be sure of. Remember this yellow this top? (Also above and below.) I wanted to make another one like it, but by this time my fabric had been downsized so much that I didn’t have enough fabric to make a top that would actually fit me. (Although I still tried to squeeze into it when it was finished, which was another type of disaster.) While this was sad news for me, I decided to try and make some good come out of the situation and attempt my first ever tutorial. If you  give this tutorial a try I’d love to hear about it. If you have any questions or need clarification leave a comment about that as well so I can hone my explanation skills. Enjoy!

I call it the Audrey top, not out of sheer narcissism, but because I patterned it after a little black dress I own that reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. (One time when I was wearing it I was actually complimented for it’s “Hepburn class,” no joke.)

The Audrey Top

Materials:

1+ yard of knit fabric
Matching thread
Pattern making materials (pen and something to trace on)
Sewing stuff (sewing machine, measuring tape, scissors, etc)

First we need to create the main pattern. Take a tank top (can also use a shirt, you’ll just have to eyeball the armpit curve), fold it in half, and lay it on your pattern making material. (I save the brown paper that often comes in packages for this purpose. I’ve also seen people use grocery bags, so get creative. If all else fails you can just tape 8 1/2 X 11 sheets of paper.) Since the top is slightly flowy I moved my tank top 1 1/4″ from the edge. If you want your top to be even more flowy move the top you’re tracing even further over. Keep in mind that your piece will be cut on the fold, so the added width will be doubled. (By adding 1 1/4″ to the pattern piece I’m adding 2″ to the width of the final product and 1/2″ for my two 1/4″ seam allowances.)

Trace around the bottom and side of the tank top. When you get to the top just make a straight line from the shoulder seam to the edge of your pattern instead of tracing the dip for the neck hole. If you want your finished top to be longer than the one you are tracing simply extend the line to your desired length.

Finished pattern piece should look like this. Cut two pieces out of your fabric using this pattern piece.

 

Next we’ll make the band and tie. These pieces are much more straightforward.  Measure your waist and add 1/2″ for your seam allowance. Cut a rectangle that is 10″ by the width you just determined (My measurements were 34″X10.”).  For the tie, cut a piece 5″X60.” (Can add more to length if you want a longer tie.) Right now your collection of pieces should look like this.

Take your main front and back piece and with the right sides together pin them together along the sides from the armpit notch to the bottom edge . Sew each side with 1/4″ seam allowance. Most knits won’t fray, but if you want a finished look serge or zigzag the edges. (Side note: I don’t have a serger yet, but if you zigzag along the seam and then do a straight stitch on the other side of the zigzag and it doesn’t look too shabby. Ignore the fact that my zigzag sometimes gets wonky. Cursed machine.)

Take the band piece. Match up the short ends with right sides together. Sew 1/4″ seam.

You now have a tube of fabric. This is a great time to slip the band around your waist and check the fit. Adjust if needed. Turn right side out and match up raw edges to fold in half. Iron.

At this point your main piece should be wider than the band. Do a basting stitch. (Put machine on longest stitch length, back-stitch ONLY at the beginning and sew ALMOST all the way around. Leave a tail when you cut the thread.) Take the band and insert inside the main piece (main piece is still inside out). Take the tail on the basting stitch and pull it until the piece bunches up enough to be the same size as the band. Make sure to evenly distribute the gathers this creates.

With the band still inside of the main piece, line up the raw edges and pin together.

Sew the pieces together. (Can use elastic thread in your bobbin for added stretch. I didn’t do this with my yellow top which was a very stretchy knit, but did do this with the blue knit that was less stretchy.) I used a 1/2″ seam allowance here so my basting stitches wouldn’t be seen on the outside. Zig-zag or serge if desired.

Serge or zig-zag the armpit curve if desired. Fold in 1/4″ (or more if you serged/zig-zagged and the threads show), pin in place, and sew. (Sorry no picture of this.)

Serge or zig-zag the top of the front piece if desired. Fold the piece down 1 1/4.” Iron and/or pin in place. Sew 1/4″ seam allowance from the raw edge you folded down or 1″ from the edge the fold made. This makes the casing you’ll thread the tie through. (Sorry no picture of this either, I think I was getting lazy about picture taking.)

Fold the tie piece in half the long way. Sew one short edge and all along the long edge. Trim corners and flip inside out. (Using a pencil or chopstick can make this a lot easier.) Fold the raw edge inside the tie, pin, and hand sew shut. I used a really lightweight knit for the yellow top, but if you used a heavier fabric like I did for the blue top it’s a good idea to at least top stitch along each short end, although if you go this route I’d advise top stitching around the entire piece since it produces a more finished look.

Zig-zag or serge the top of the back piece if desired. Take the finished tie and pin to the back piece w/ right sides together. You want to pin the tie slightly off-center with one side being several inches longer (this one will thread through the front). Sew the pieces together with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Now we’re to the final step! Take the longer side and thread it through the casing in the front of the top. (I use a safety pin to make this easier.)

Now the top is ready to wear. Put it on and tie the two ends together in a bow or not, whichever suits your fancy.

Ingnore the fact that my band is gathered and not the top, as you may recall I was having fabric issues . . . Now I just needed to find a beanpole pre-teen who this might fit 🙂