Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sewing for Tween Girls

Girls seem so easy to sew for…until they become tweens.
My step daughter was invited to a birthday party. My husband requested that I make the birthday girl one of these hats. Great idea…for a winter birthday, not quite fitting for an April celebration.
However his mention of a hat did get my creative juices flowing…
Using fabric and notions from my stash I made a hat. Then I sewed a bag. After that I stitched up a notebook cover. And finally, about five minutes before the party, I whipped up a rolled flower hair clip.
DIY Tween Girl Gifts
I searched and searched for the perfect hat to sew. I found a few tutorials, but in the end decided to just dive in.
Girls Military Style Hat
After three failed attempts I smartened up, and followed this tutorial. This tutorial was one of the first I had found, and her hat was super cute. But I didn’t feel like doing the math.
Learn from my first three mistakes- and do the math!
The hair clip is just a basic rolled flower. The material is the same as the hat and purse linings.
When I asked my step daughter and the neighbor girls about popular purse styles, I was told (direct quotes from a group of eleven year old girls):
  • They go across your body.
  • They have a flap.
  • The flap has to close, so their stuff doesn’t flop out when they are running. *I decided I did not want to know why they might be running so fast that their stuff might fall out…
  • A pocket is necessary for little stuff like lip gloss.
Tween Crossbody Bag
This bag came together very quickly. (I was successful at ‘winging’ this project.)
Crossbody Inside Flap
The magnetic closure was salvaged from a purse in the refashion tote.
*Not pictured are two inside pockets.
Covered Notebook With Pen Pocket
Lastly I had decided to cover a notebook.
Again, I just did my own thing. In my opinion it looked like crap, but the girls loved it.
I was told, “eleven year olds do not even know what seams are, so we also don’t know if they look bad!”
Eleven year old logic won.
Do you have any tween girl gift ideas? Sewing for this age group is so different from sewing for the little guys.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 29, Cleaning Up The Cobwebs

I haven’t posted a 30 Day Cleaning update since last Wednesday. My negligence was disgustingly apparent by Sunday evening (in all honesty it was disgustingly apparent by Saturday morning).

I knew the boys and I would be gone all morning this morning (on laundry day). I resolved to get the house back in order before bed last night. Here’s what I did:

  • Washed, dried, folded, and put away most of the laundry.
  • Washed dishes.
  • Cleared table.
  • Cleaned (somewhat) the kitchen.
  • Picked up living room.
  • Vacuumed (I did ask permission to vacuum at 11:00 p.m., was hoping hubby would say “Nope, that will keep me awake.” Instead I got, “We can’t hear a thing upstairs, vacuum away.” Shucks.)

After all was said and done, it was almost midnight. I fell into bed exhausted, but at the same time relieved that we would wake up to a semi-clean home.

Today’s task was to clean one thing (area) that has been bugging you.

I choose the cobwebs. (Ha-ha, get it; bugging you…)

Day 29 Cleaning Up Cobwebs

Springtime not only brings us tulips, robins, and baseball; but also cobwebs. They have been creeping up everywhere. Today I took my duster, and wiped those boogers out.

It took about five minutes.

Afterwards I asked myself, “why in the world did you wait 29 days (possibly longer) to do this?” Oh well, its done now.

Here’s my challenge for you: Tackle that one thing that has been hanging over your head (in my case it was literally hanging). Chances are it will only take a few minutes. After you are done breath out a sigh of relief, and stop berating yourself for letting it go so long. Winking smile

What are you going to tackle?

Preppy Shorts Part Two

I apologize for not getting this post up Friday (like I had said I would). We ended up having a pretty full weekend.
The boys and I walked (I walked, they rode) our first 5K.
Walking For Ovarian Cancer
My brother ran (and came in fourth place). His girlfriend and my nephew walked with us. We were blessed with the most beautiful weather!
On to round two of the summer wardrobe.
Sewing for Summer, A Dress Shirt Refashion
(It is so hard to photograph these kids!)
This refashion started out as one of hubby’s discarded button-up shirts.
Men's Shirt to Toddler Shorts
Like the last refashion, I wanted to incorporate the back details.
Including the Back Detail
I cut the sleeves off, and lined up the pattern pieces to my liking. Then I sewed it together using this tutorial again. The elastic was leftover from the first pair of shorts (salvaged from a pair of leggings).
Men's Shirt to Boy's Shorts Refashion
Front view.
Incorporating the Shirt Details
Back view.
Total Cost: $0.00
I have had a blast sewing up these shorts. It seems to be easier to cut into clothes that are destined to leave the house than my fabric stash. (I tend to fear making mistakes and having to scrap the project.) Now I see so much potential in our unwanted clothing.
Next on my list are summer shirts to coordinate with the boy’s new shorts. I have one finished, and the second one cut out. (Hopefully I will be able to share with you this week.)
Your turn: Have you tried using unwanted clothing as a fabric source, or do you prefer sewing with new fabric? I love hearing your thoughts.
*On a side note, I have been cleaning, I promise. I hope to post an update later today.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sewing For Summer, Preppy Boy Shorts

After going through the boy’s clothes, I realized they need a few summer staples. Taking a quick mental inventory, I decided to try and supply their wardrobe for free. My goal is to sew their essentials using clothes from my refashion tote, and fabric and notions from my stash.
First up, Preppy Shorts:
Summer Boy Refashion
I started with a woman’s short-sleeved jacket.
Before; Ladies Jacket
I was in love with the pockets and stitching detail on the front.
All In The Details
I (loosely) used this pattern and tutorial. Fabric was a little short, so I pulled out my seam ripper. Ripping the seams yielded me enough extra fabric for the width.
*(I even pulled the elastic from a pair of my step-daughter’s well-loved leggings.)
Take Apart Seams For More Fabric
I had a hard time trying to decide how to work around the bottom pockets. I cut right above them. Then I had ripped the sleeve cuffs, and attach them to the bottom by encasing inside the cuffs (like binding).
Cut Out And Sew
These are the Preppy Mullet Shorts, Business in The Front:
After, Little Man Shorts
Party In The Back:
Sewing A Summer Wardrobe For Boys, Without Spending Money
I love Dana’s flat front pants tutorial. It is so easy to follow, and has a nice fit. Perfect for beginners.
These shorts were quick to sew, besides ripping the seams apart for extra fabric.
Have you taken inventory of your summer clothes? Are you planning on DIYing a couple of staples? As always, I love to hear your thoughts!
*Stop back tomorrow for another preppy short refashion.

Participating here:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Project 23 Update

We are 23 days into the 30 day Home Cleaning Challenge. Yippee!

Project #23 was to clean the floors. Mine need it bad….but I got distracted.

Our boys need summer clothes, so I spent a good portion of naptime sewing (hopefully I can post pictures later today, or tomorrow).

I did manage to sweep, scrub, and mop the stairs going to the basement. After having water in the basement, these stairs were disgusting! I cringed every time I walked down them. I am rather embarrassed to post pictures, but here they are anyways:

Scrubbing the Basement Stairs

  • I swept the stairs.
  • Sprayed with citrus vinegar
  • Folded laundry
  • Came back and scrubbed away the dirt and grime
  • Mopped

My plans were to vacuum and mop all the floors, but my seam ripper and I had a date.

Today’s challenge is the linen closet. Since most of our closets have been cleaned, purged, and organized I plan on finishing the floors and hopefully working on my dresser.

How is your home looking? Are you still following along, just starting, or just plain tired of reading about my adventures in a dirty home?

*Want a little humor? I started working on the boys’ summer wardrobe yesterday. Today, it is snowing. What the! (I think someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that it is April.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to Have Success With the 30 Day House Cleaning Challenge

First lets have a quick update of Projects #20-22.

Today’s project was an easy one (because I have been keeping up with the challenge). Surface clean living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.

I have been taking care of the kitchen and living room every most nights before bed. All I had to do today was mild dusting of the living room and bedroom, make our bed, put clothes away, a quick swipe of the bathroom counter, swish in the toilet, and spray of the shower. I was done. (I’ll spare you the before and after; mainly because they are exactly the same as the other surface cleaning days.)

Instead I want to share how I ‘m making this challenge work for me. Its actually a pretty simple concept.

How to keep up with 30 Day House Cleanng Challenge

I printed the challenge and put it in a plastic page protector. I keep a dry erase marker inside.

On the left side I marked the weekends. If I have extra time, I can work on these challenges. On the right side, I simply check off each challenge as I finish it. Easy, right? Lets flip the page over:

Keeping a List to Help With 30 Day House Cleaning Challenge

This side is the key to lining this challenge up with my goals of purging my home.

I keep a blank sheet of paper, and a pencil in the back of the page protector. When I come across an extra project that needs to be done, I add it to the list. Some things on this list are the individual closets and cupboards that need cleaning, projects I didn’t get to (like clean the garage), projects I want to do (like painting), and things that need gone through and decluttered.

Days when I have more time and energy, I flip to this page and pick out a project. Complete the project, and my favorite part- cross it off.

This method is working wonders for me. Writing tasks down helps me see where I need to spend some time. Most projects only take 10-15 minutes when broken down into individual tasks.

Sweet and simple.

How do you keep track of your miscellaneous projects?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrating Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!
I had a little time to sew this weekend. Knowing that the week started with Earth Day, I decided to sew for the boys. Yup, another t-shirt refashion.
The first shirt was a youth XL Earth Day shirt from a few years ago. This shirt was donated by their older brother.
Before Youth XL
I really wanted to keep the design, so that meant I wasn’t able to keep the original hem. I added 3/4 inch to the bottom to account for this.
Earth Day Refashion; Upcycling Big Brother's Tee
The second shirt was an adult medium I picked up from Goodwill (in our favorite color). This shirt has been sitting in my refashion bin for quite some time.
Before Adult Medium
*I had already picked the colors before pictures. (Sometimes I cannot wait to start a project.)
Camo Earth Applique Refashion
I used t-shirt scraps left over from a different refashion for the earth applique. (See, I am not crazy for saving those t-shirt bits.)
This was my first time freezer paper stenciling. This was so easy, and produces a very professional result. (Hubby thought I cut the earth from a screen printed t-shirt.) I searched ‘earth coloring printable’ for the image. If you are new to freezer paper stenciling, this is a good tutorial.
After the paint was dry, I ironed Heat’n’Bond to the applique. Then ironed the earth to the middle shirt front. Next I sewed around the circumference with a straight stitch.
I used Melissa’s pattern again.
A Few Tips:
  • After making a few shirts for the boys, I prefer picking off the collar vs. cutting it off. I find that having that little extra fabric makes for a more finished looking product. It truly doesn’t take very long to take off either.
  • It took a little fudging with the Youth shirt. It was doable, but took a little finagling. So try to use bigger shirts.
  • I used that newly discovered lever again. I turned the speed down a little to sew the applique. In the past my machine used to eat my t-shirts when I was trying to applique. Not anymore!
  • Save your t-shirt scraps. You can see from the earth shirt, dinosaur shirts, and long-sleeved refashion that scraps come in handy.
  • Measure the ribbing (neckband) to be sure it will fit over heads. I made the mistake of skipping this step with the baseball shirts, had to seam rip it out, and scrounge around for more red ribbing.
How are you celebrating Earth Day?

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

30 Day House Cleaning Challenge; Catching Up

Our basement is finally dry! I spent Saturday reorganizing my sewing room and putting it back together. Today I focused on catching up on the challenges I missed.

Light Switches and Door Knobs

First was cleaning light switches and door knobs. The picture doesn’t do much justice, this job hasn’t been done since last summer…

Next was the pantry.

Cleaning the Pantry

Then I tackled the back entrance. We have been using this door instead of the other backdoor. It becomes cluttered very quickly!

Picking up by the Back Entrance

I decided to clean the other back entrance too. This one wasn’t too bad; just a little picking up, sweeping and mopping.

Top of Stairs

I gave myself an hour to clean. After these projects were finished I had time to pick up the living room and kitchen.

It feels so good to be caught up with the challenge!

How was your weekend? Did you use your time to catch-up, relax, or enjoy the much appreciated sunshine? (I did all of the above.)

Stop back tomorrow, I have an Earth Day project to share.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Egg-Free Chicken Fried Rice in 15 Minutes

Wow, what a week! For those of you keeping tabs on my 30-Day House Cleaning Challenge progress, I haven't fallen off the bandwagon.
Two nights in a row my sweet little boys woke up around 3:30 in the morning, and decided to PARTY. (I think the thunderstorm was the cause the second night). So this mama was tired.
To top it off, yesterday I went downstairs, and discovered water! In my sewing dungeon! Luckily when I moved my sewing space down here I thought ahead and put my fabric in totes, off the floor. But the water was inching it's way toward my sewing machine cord and foot pedal. Thank goodness I got to it in time. All craft and sewing supplies are safe.
Needless to say, I have been bailing water from the basement. I plan to catch up on the cleaning challenge this weekend. In the meantime, I have a little post that has been hanging out in my draft folder waiting to be shared. (Perfect timing, because I needed a quick dinner for the family).

Quick, Egg-Free Chicken Fried Rice
Egg-Free Chicken Fried Rice in 15 Minutes @ Theresa's To-Dos

My husband loves when I make Chicken Fried Rice. I love to have a delicious and healthy dinner ready for my family. It is even better when dinner only takes minutes to make.

This meal can be made in less than 15 minutes because of my beloved freezer.

When chicken is on sale, we buy a bunch. I cut some of it up in bite sized pieces, season with Italian seasoning, and saute in a little olive oil. I put one cup of cooked chicken in individual freezer bags, and freeze for future dinners.

I try to use brown rice whenever possible, but it takes so long to cook. So I cook the whole box/bag at once. (Because it takes just as long to cook one serving or all the servings.) After the cooked rice is cooled, I portion it out in two cup servings into freezer bags and freeze.

Add frozen mixed veggies, and you have a delicious meal in no time!

Here's a loose recipe. Personally, I don't measure- just toss what I have in the pan. It has turned out wonderfully every time. Just use what you have.
I toss everything in frozen. If I thought ahead, and thawed everything, great. If not, it works just the same.

Chicken Fried Rice

2-3 eggs (more or less, depending on preference)
      *since being egg-free we omit the eggs. Nobody has even noticed.
1 Tablespoon or so of water
     *this is used to cook the eggs
butter or oil
     *Sesame seed oil gives the most authentic flavor!
chopped onion
spoonful of minced garlic
2-4 cups cold cooked rice
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of pepper
1-2 cups cooked chopped chicken
1-2 cups frozen mixed veggies, partially thawed

*Egg step, omit if making egg-free* Heat oil (or butter) in wok or pan, low-medium heat. Meanwhile, beat egg and water. Add to pan. Don't touch it for 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan. Shred egg with kitchen scissors (or method of your choice, I just think it's fun to use the kitchen scissors).

Heat another Tablespoon or so of oil in same pan. Sesame seed oil is great, but use whatever you have. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add cold rice (frozen works great), soy sauce, pepper, frozen veggies and chicken. Mix it all together, and cook for about 5 minutes, until it looks like fried rice. Taste, add more soy sauce if you want. Add eggs, and serve.
*I like to add sesame seeds if I have them on hand.

So simple, right?

Your turn, what is your families' favorite quick meal? Please share, I need ideas!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Refashion, and More Spring Cleaning

Remember the to-do pile in my sewing room I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? I finally started tackling it!
This refashion started out as a hugely too big skirt.
Refashion Before, Too Big Maxi
I picked this skirt up at Goodwill the same day I bought these shirts. It was too big, but the tags were still on, and the material was so comfy. At $1.49, I couldn’t leave it behind.
This was such a quick refashion.
Refashioning a Big Skirt to Flattering Dress
Here’s a breakdown:
  1. Try the skirt-soon-to-be-dress on, and pin the (top) sides to fit.
  2. Take the dress to the sewing machine and put under the needle at the pin mark.
  3. Line a piece of masking tape up with the side seam. This will be your sewing line. (I was too lazy to measure and pin the dress.)
  4. Sew from top to bottom. Make sure the side seam is lined up with the tape, and the ends are lined up. Sew using stitch appropriate for material.
  5. Try new dress on. If it fits, good, if not- make adjustments.
  6. When dress fits cut extra fabric from sides. This will be used for the straps.
  7. Sew the fabric pieces into tubes, turn right side out.
  8. Match the unfinished ends of tubes, and sew to the center top front of dress.
  9. Finished!
My favorite thing about this refashion? It’s a two-for-one! Pull the dress over your bust, and tie the straps halter-style around your neck for a cute, comfy dress.

Pull down to your hips, and tie the ties around your waist for a belt. Now you have a go-anywhere maxi skirt.
Refashion After, Dress or Skirt Options
What do you think?
On to Cleaning Business…Project #16 is deep cleaning the bathroom. Our bathrooms were in pretty good shape, but I still cleaned them. (Even though I tried talking myself out of it.)
When I tackled the bathroom closet last week, I didn’t have the chance to take care of the medicine cabinet, or under the sink cabinet. So that is where I poured my love today.
Cleaning the Medicine Cabinet and Under the Sink
The medicine cabinet (top): The top two shelves belong to the hubby, so I didn’t do much there. I cleared everything out, wiped down the shelves, and put hubby’s stuff back. I went through my stuff (bottom shelf), tossing items I didn’t need.
Under the sink (bottom): Same process, I pulled everything out, washed it down. Then I purged products that were almost gone, or that we didn’t use, and put everything back. (I also decided to store the toilet brush in here. I kept picturing a toddler sword fight. Winking smile)
It doesn’t look much different, but I know it is clean. All of the bathroom cabinets have been cleaned and purged!
Are you cleaning along? If so, are you finding that it is getting easier each day?

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Monday, April 15, 2013

One Year of Blogging, and Day 15 Update

Today marks a year since my first post. Has it really been a year?

I decided compiled a short list of lessons learned from this past year:

1. I used to have a problem. I would start projects, but never get around to finishing them. (Need proof? Look what I found when cleaning out the spare bedroom closet.) Knowing that there are a few people anxiously waiting to see something has helped me overcome this problem.

Found UFO!

Notice the size? 6-12 month! This was intended for the boys’ first Thanksgiving, two Thanksgivings ago…

2. Being a stay at home mama is hard work! Before children; I worked. A lot. I usually had a fulltime job, a part-time job, and was in school. Our house was pretty clean, life was organized, and dinner was a breeze.

When the boys made their appearance into my life, my organization and productivity skills went into hibernation. I can now say that those skills do return… eventually.

3. I need lists in my life. Enough said.

4. The posts I had the hardest time writing, were the ones that helped me the most (and were some of the more popular ones.) (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s one.)

5. I absolutely LOVE my readers! I could not even imagine life as a stay at home mama without this technology. I have been so fortunate to receive encourage, tips, and praise from this community. Thank you!

I have been tempted to go back to those earlier posts and start clicking delete (they are so embarrassing). But, looking at those posts helps me remember the season I was in and the desperation I felt. As I watch my little guys grow more each and everyday, I tend to forget that I am growing right next to them.

Enough sentimental rambling. Here’s an update on Project #15 (surface clean the living room and kitchen):

Day 15, Surface Clean Living Room

I know what you are thinking, “this looks like all of the other living room before pictures.” Sadly, this is what the living room looks like everyday before naptime.

Day 15, Surface Clean Kitchen

Lastly, I found more stuff to get rid of:

Our Home Is On A Diet

What posts would you like to see more of? I know this little space of mine is a hodge podge of topics. What do you enjoy reading the most? Or do you like the unpredictable variety?

Thanks again!