Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Puppies and Pictures

Ho Hey!

 Got some fun news of new pups and random pics to share with you today!

So, this little pile of adorable-ness happened...

 And yes, it was planned...

 The direct result of this:

A visit from a handsome doggy, Huey. 
Purebred English Shepherd, like our Kady... Thanks to our friend SteveyJ (Huey's owner), this guy showed up during Kady's prime window of being in heat.
 And two months later.... :)
 Eight puppies, 6 boys and 2 girls. 
3 black and white like Mom, 1 fat little version of Dad, and 4 good mixes of Mom and Dad.

 We also had two beautiful kittens born a few days before the puppies, so we have two kinds of adorableness mixing in here...

Puppy and kitten.

The light gold and the stripey blobs are the 2 sister kittens, snuggled in and sleeping with the puppies (cool and very opposite colors for kittens, huh?).

So, these squeaky and snuggly, soft blobs are a fun distraction from the never ending winter.

Some other randomness...

 In this quiet season, other little projects around the house are finally addressed, such as these rustic cabinet doors that Steve made down the hallway. 

Some of you saw that I recovered our couch with this scrappy denim throw before Christmas. I also (just finally) got around to recovering our smaller couch cushions. 

We've had several birthdays recently. Theresa and Lizzy made some beeeautiful pies for Annie's 22nd, using up some of our berries in the freezer from last summer, including our own strawberries and wild blackberries. Yummy! 

 The recent buzz was the sighting of a black bear crossing our back pasture. No camera was produced quickly enough (frankly, I think we dropped everything we were holding at the time), but the kids had fun looking at its prints in the snow the next day.

It's unusually early for them to be out of their dens--there's certainly nothing fresh to eat.

 They noted that its prints made detours to visit every pine tree in the premise, but it didn't appear to be eating anything (or even remaining long) at any of the pines. Maybe it was just looking for open ground under the pine branches? 

It was a fun uneventful adventure anyway, one that had Donna thoroughly geeking out! She was a mixture of haphazard giddiness and trepidation over the fact that her older siblings went out to look at bear tracks--omg!

Finally, some of you saw this cute upside down snowman that Donna and I made on facebook the other day...

Well, just wanted to report that it's still up, but leaning dangerously this morning. lol!

I'm eagerly awaiting his toppling cartwheel. I think it will be the first sign of spring we've had! :)

 That's all for now. Kisses!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quickie Kids Shirt from Recycled Tutorial DIY

For those readers who aren't beginner seamstresses, I promise this is my last post on this topic...

For those readers who are beginner seamstresses, let's go!! :)

 If you haven't yet seen my tips for recycling and sewing kids clothes, you should check that out.

 (Blanket apologies for the poor quality of my pictures on this post before we begin. There, got that out of the way...)

Alright, so, just like with my kids pants tutorial, I nabbed a shirt that I know fits my toddler well to use as a pattern. This shirt happens to be a bit long though, so I took that into consideration when placing it on the shirt I intended to recycle into a new shirt.

 Make sure to lay everything out super flat and fold in the sleeves of your 'pattern' shirt, before carefully cutting around your pattern shirt.

Also, if the inside of your recycled shirt looks like it has more life left in it than the outside... yes, I'm guilty of doing the 'turn it around and use the wrong side of the old shirt for the right side of the new shirt' trick. *gasp* ;)
Next fold your new shirt piece in half and check that the arched notches for the sleeves are the same (trim if not).

Now fold two pieces of material in half for your sleeves. I lay my shirt piece over the two folded piece so that I can trace the same arch onto the top of the sleeves (see white chalk line).

I wanted a long sleeve shirt (summer is a long way off here!) but without enough material, I dug up some black and extended the sleeves. I also cut the neckline off of a discarded tshirt because it was still stretchy and new looking.

So, my first step was to sew the extra black length onto the sleeves. If you had enough material to make your sleeves full sized right away, obviously this step wouldn't apply.

The first thing you sew are the two shoulder seams on either sides of the neck hole (where the red lines are). Don't forget to zig zag or serge! These seams get a lot of stress.

Next, I lift what will be the front of my shirt neckline away from the back and fold it together.

And cut the neckline down a little deeper in front. This is just by guesstimate. I cut about where I have my scissors laid. (This is just the front shirt piece not the back.)

Deeper neck in front (why is this picture upside down? I don't know...)

Cut your stretchy neckline band to size (should be a bit smaller than your opening, but again, I just guesstimate)<--love that word!). 

Sew neckline together in a band. If you're re-using one from a Tshirt (as I am) you will need to open the stitching first.

Fold in half for a nice looking neckline!! Yay!!! (I'm using lots of exclamation points and grinning because I hate necklines! Yay!!) :D

And pin. No really, do it. 
And don't forget to stick a tag inside the fold of your neckline in the back of your shirt (you do remember which side was the back? Because if you forgot, your toddler will never forgive you!)

Sew around and zig zag or serge.

Try it on. If it doesn't fit easily over the crown of your toddler's head now, then there's no point in finishing the shirt. If it's way too big and falls down over the shoulders of your toddler now, then there's no point in finishing the shirt. Just toss it out and try again, you failure. Haha, just kidding. But seriously, try again. It's easier than anything else you could do, and you're recycling clothes anyway. It's not like there's wasted money here...

But it should fit and if it does fit (oh joy!) then top stitch around the collar to keep the seam from popping up. If you have a double needle option for your sewing machine, you could use it here for a nice finished look (I broke mine... both of them).
Please ignore the seam in my neckline in front there--naturally you should put that in back with your tag--but I ended up with two seams so it was unavoidable. Gasp! * *Mistake alert!** ;)

And it's on to sleeves! 
Fold your sleeve in half and match up the fold to the shoulder seam on your shirt, right sides together. 

Put a pin there.

Then go nutso and put pins all over!! No, actually, just on that curved shoulder seam. This seam can give you a bit of trickery (that's why pinning is a must) but it really is surprisingly easy.

Sew and zig zag around that bend. Repeat for other sleeve.

Lay your shirt, right sides together and sew the sides and under arm seams (where the red lines are).
 And, if you positioned your pattern pieces on existing hemlines from the garments you were recycling, (as I did) then you would be done (as I am! Yay!), if not, then you now have to hem your sleeves and the bottom of your shirt... poor you. ;)

Done! My toddler thinks she is a model...

 ... bless her little heart.

 Anyway, doesn't the shirt look nice?

 Today, Donna and Annie went out and Annie dressed Donna in one of the handmade outfits I've made her recently because (as Annie said) they're way cuter than anything else she has in her drawers. That's a really good feeling, but I confess: my early attempts certainly were not the nicest things in her drawers... But I realized that little kids don't care. They wore them all the time anyway and they were so appreciative that it was good motivation for me to keep trying.

Just keep trying!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

5 Minute Recycled Toddler Pants Tutorial

Eh-llo Peeps!

If you haven't yet seen my tips for recycling and sewing kids clothes, you should check that out.

Today, as promised, you're getting a peek into my method of sewing toddler pants. In the beginning, I followed a pattern with moderate success and got locked into that singular mindset of how to construct a pair of pants. Turns out, there are lots of different ways and by letting go of that method and trying some others, I landed on one that's easier and I use most often for kids pants.
Moral of the story: don't be afraid to try new stuff! :-P


First, I grab a pair of pants (in this case leggings, because that's what I'm making) that I know fit my tot well to use as a pattern. I've measured and made paper patterns for Donna before, but she's changing sizes so often now, I've found it's easier to just nab something that I know fits and cut around it.

Fold your material in half, one fold for each leg, paying attention to were the stretch is (red arrow) because these are leggings and they're going to be fitted. I'm using blue and grey for each leg so you can clearly see my two folded layers. Fold your pants (pattern) in half and line up the outside length of the leg on the folded edges.
Cut around the pants eyeballing a guesstimated seam allowance. Don't be super picky here. If I'm making something amazing (haha), I'll pin and measure my seam allowance, maybe mark it out with chalk, yaddi, yaddi, ya. For kids clothes, it's snip, snip, snip!

Make sure you leave 2-3 inches (depending on the width of the elastic you're using) at the top of the pants for folding down the waistline. (If you're short on fabric and can't swing that, you can always add a waistband later, but it's more time consuming.) Also note that for this one, I enlarged the legging pants pattern (again by eyeballing) because these are jeans and needed to be roomier.

Fold open, right sides together,  and sew along the red lines.

Put the legs right sides together and sew up the red line.

Inside out and try on (note the extra tall waist at this point).
Fits good!

Measure a piece of elastic. It should be slightly stretched without causing any discomfort.

Sew elastic into a closed loop.

Fit them into the top of the waist so that the material just overlaps the elastic by a seam allowance. 
Stretch the elastic to fit and stick four pins in.

Zig zag (for stretch) around.

Fold the elastic down into the pants twice so it is completely hidden and run around with a straight stitch. Remember to quick add a tag in the back before sewing this closed!

I do a boring double folded hem on the bottom of the leggings, and done!! 
Now look at your clock for me. If it was more than 5 minutes, I apologize. I actually never timed this (muahaha!). But it feels about that long to me. ;)

A word about recycling toddlers jeans from adult jeans....
Your pattern is going to be quite low on the pants in order to avoid the back pockets and still have a tall waist line to fold down. This means that you won't have a perfectly straight edge to line your pattern against because it will be flaring for our womanly hips right about there...

 ..making an extra wide waist area. I ignore this and proceed as usual to the fitting stage.

 Here I can guesstimate how much needs to be taken off those edges. Looks like an inch or so taken in on both hip seams should do it.

Much better.

 Finish it off...

 And whalla!

That's all for now! Hope this is a confidence booster for anyone starting out. I'll be back shortly with my 8 minute (or so--who knows!) shirt tutorial. :o)

 Also, I still have to get around to sharing our windowsill aquaponics system with you all. Don't worry--I haven't forgotten! :)