Saturday, July 30, 2016

Part 1 to My Fun Mom Swimsuit: Swim & Surf Shorts from Gracious Threads

I want to tell you about an awesome pattern but first I think I should tell you the back story to this sewing project. A few weeks ago Al was here for a short visit and we decided to take the oldest 4 of our kids swimming at the local lake...

I guess I should rewind for a second....I have a Tankini that was gifted to me by Jo, because she didn't like it but I am cheap and that hasn't kept me from using it for the last several years. First it isn't tight enough in the waist on the top so as soon as I hit the water it floats up and then there is the part about the plunging neckline that requires that I wear a camisole so I don't expose myself in more ways than one. The redeeming quality about the tankini used to be the bottoms but since I was gifted the suit they have gotten embarrassingly thin. I thought no worries there is a detached swim skirt that can pretty well cover that up especially for swimming in an algae infested lake, no one can see anything under that water. So for our evening swim I choose the tankini bottoms with swim skirt and a sports bra, camisole and work out shirt. I knew that with taking so many little kids I couldn't navigate the halter grab.

Everything was going fine the kids were having a great time in the lake until all the sudden I realize the elastic on the skirt completely gave way. I think no big deal I will just take the dumb swim skirt off then I realize I can't do that remember embarrassingly thin fabric. So I end up having to tie the skirt tight enough that it can get me back to the car without over exposure.

I am a big proponent of going out and playing with your kids in the water no matter what your shape is or what you look like, because your kids are not going to remember what you looked like just how much fun you had together. I love this article and try and keep it in mind when it is time to have fun with my kiddos.  I realized at that moment where I didn't have a swimsuit that allowed me to be the mom I wanted to that I needed to change that and really look for my ideal "Fun Mom Swimsuit". Al and I talked about it and I told her 1 would be a longish board short with built in underwear so I could walk confidently and comfortably into any pool. It might be a kick back to my basketball days but there is something so comforting about a longer looser short.


I figured this would be the hardest thing to find because I know not everyone is me and some women really want to look sexy pool side. I couldn't believe it when days later Ajaire contacted me about being part of the Summer Swimwear Tour that was going to have Classic Maillot from Call AjaireThe Just Keep Swimming Rash Guard, Briefs and Shorts from The Wolf and the Tree and Swim and Surf Shorts from Gracious Threads. I was ecstatic that the Swim and Surf Shorts even came in a mom size! I knew that it was kismet and that I really needed a deadline to make sure I did this self care sewing.

I am going to be honest I had a couple small problems sewing this pattern. The problems were mine, I forgot to mark where the shorts overlap (and forgot there was an overlap mark) until I got done fretting over where that line was. I blame this on the mix of cutting out early morning so I could avoid slicing the crazy toddler that loves to sit right in the middle of the cutting mat and sewing it with 3 crazy kids around with their little friends. I also was a little confused with how to put on the bias tape but again I am pretty sure that is because of Ryder's constant stream of, "So mom.....(insert ridiculous hypothetical question)?" or looking to see what toddling Wayne has put in his mouth that I have to dig out.


I made 2 adjustments I took out the fly and replaced the waistband with a tall yoga waistband. I took out the fly because I have become too lazy too busy for details lately. I replaced the waistband with a yoga waistband for two reasons: 1. I need a junk in the trunk adjustment for my pants and shorts and I didn't have the brain power to think about this adjustment so with a tall yoga waistband my junk is going to stay un-embarressingly covered and the thought of putting in grommets sounded hard.

It was really fun to see my kids reaction when I put them on. Boston's went something like this, "Mom, I like your shorts. Their really pretty. Now we can go swimming!" and Ryder's went something like this, "So Mom, your shorts are really cool! Can we go swimming tomorrow?"

If you are a comfort queen who just wants to have some awesome board shorts to go have fun with your kids I couldn't recommend this pattern enough.

I have to apologize for no swim pictures in this post, I had my period come this week and that make swimming a total no go. But next week I am sure Fun Mom will be back and we can hit up one of the pools with Dad. And maybe when that happens I will have my perfect top done as well...here's to wishful thinking.

Monday, May 16, 2016

I am a Dreamer

For as long as I can rembember I have been a dreamer. I dream at night and wake up in the morning typically remembering my dream and when I can't usually some little reminder throughout the day spurs it back. It used to be that most my dreams felt like they came out of a fiction book with time travel, aliens,  secret agents, magic wands, ect. This may have something to do with my choice of books.


Lately my dreams have expressed the thoughts and concerns of my heart. A couple days ago I had a dream that my mom showed up on my door step wanting to make gobs and gobs of strawberry jam. In reality 14 hours is too long of a drive just for strawberry jam, but I do wish she could just surprise us with a visit like that.

The dream that brings me back to you. I was at some kind of quilting guild and they were preparing a group quilt to present at a national quilting show. I'm not sure if this sort of thing even exists, but it did in my dream. I was new to the club and didn't know anyone, but eagerly listened and observed. The leader was telling a story about how we needed to never abandon our projects. She referenced a blog that she had once been following and collaborating with when they suddenly disappeared. What would you know, the blog was called Shaffer Sisters. I raised my hand and admitted that I was one of those Shaffer Sisters. I tried to explain that often times we just overdid it and we finally hit a brick wall. In my dream I felt so determined to fix the blog and bring back, but the right way this time. When my little one awoke me to cuddle with me in bed, I felt that same resolve and tried to reason through it.


Here's a dose of honestly. It wasn't hard turning our back on the blog last year. We were at a breaking point. Scary had some very scary moments as her new little baby who should've been perfectly healthy struggled to breathe and thrive. Jo was raising 6 kids, working in a retirement home at nights, and growing a sweet baby inside her that didn't make it. I was dealing with fear from a fugitive break in, facing the prospect of life with my newly graduated husband which would involve moving far from my family. 


On top of all these things I think we were just tired. When I thought of the deadlines, I just wanted to make time disappear and watch my baby take her first steps. I wanted to treasure the last few visits with Scary without any stress or outside pressures. There's a reason we were sewing the Jalie Mens shirt on moving boxes. A big part of it was that I was becoming apathetic and bittter toward the blog. It had felt like blogging would be the death of us. 

When I was pregnant with Sally I remember a week where as soon as the kids were asleep I would get to work sewing until the early hours of sunlight were streaming through the window and I would pass out on the couch only to wake up mothering in a house of disaster. I am pretty sure I put on 8 lbs that week and had my midwife concerned. My only explaination was, I've been doing a LOT of sewing. 


At the end of the week I went to visit Scary and have the projects photographed. I remember as I was driving home that night nodding off multiple times and doing all I could to stay awake and make it home. The moment of salvation came in the form of a cup of ice from a fastfood resturant along the way. Not only was I putting my life on the line and that of others on the road, I was driving with 2 snoozing little ones in the back seat and one in my tummy. I know this wasn't the only time I over did it and drove super tired, but it was the moment my body couldn't take it any more.


But now after a much needed sabatical, I'm ready to tear down the wall brick by brick. Hopefully what is rebuilt is beautiful and the experiences that have been gained can be walking stones for the future. That the same mistakes aren't made again. At the moment it is going to be just one Shaffer Sister sharing real life thoughts and experiences. It's easy right now to sneak in a few moments on the computer as I'm working on lesson ideas for school.


My dream helped clarify my feelings. I still want to have a place where people can be encouraged and uplifted. And if no one reads at least it can be a place where I express the thoughs of my heart and on darker days I can be uplifted and remimded of dragons slayed. 

With Love,
Al

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sew Yourself Some {Cozy} Love

Life has kept me engaged in my family, but there hasn't been very many opportunities to dust off the sewing machine and make something satifying. When I heard about the Sew Yourself Some Love Series I knew I had to join. There are so many talented designers participating in this series, but the two big patterns on my homebody wish list were the Going Rogue Socks from Wolf and Tree and the Drop Pocket Cardigan from Jalie. From start to finish I had them both cut out and sewn by lunch time with three little ones destroying the house.


Since having children (or maybe it's because I rarely wear shoes) my body's circulation isn't as great and my feet are always so cold. Now when I get into bed I don't have to chase my husband out the otherside with my icy toes. The big bonus is they sew up so fast and don't require much fabric. I must add a huge collection to my everyday wardrobe.


The cardigan is perfect and oh so cozy. plus the huge fully lined pockets are perfect. When my three year-old saw it he said, "Mom, you have purse pockets?! ... I can even put my hands in here too." The instructions are amazing for a beautifuly constructed sweater with so many great seams finishes. I was so amazed that I had my husband take a look, but unfortunately he doesn't know how to appreciate those finer things in life. From start to finish I had both pieces cut out and sewn by lunch time with three little ones destroying the house.


Join us through the whole blog tour and don't miss a day!!!

Feb 1     Sew Thrifty
Feb 2     Feather's Flights
Feb 3     The Wholesome Mama
Feb 4     Sprouting Jube Jube        
             Sugarplum Cuties
Feb 5     Shaffer Sisters
Feb 8     Mabey She Made It
Feb 9     Rebel and Malice
Feb 11   Sugarplum Cuties
Feb 12   Hibbadoray
Feb 15   Bee Quilted Beauties       
             Mabel Madison
Feb 16   Sew Starly
Feb 17   All Things Katy            
             Handmade Boy
             Lady And The Gents
             Sew Like My Mom

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Finding greatness

It probably seems like the Shaffer Sisters have dropped off the face of the Earth, but we're still here I promise. Mostly we're just trying to get through the everyday, keep life in the right perspective, and enjoy the journey.

Jo is immersed in raising her six kids and also in the works of starting an afterschool program for the children of her city. Scary is carpooling her kindergartener to school, homeschooling her preschooler, and trying to keep a mobile baby safe. I am spending a lot of the time home with my 3 kids (teaching, cleaning, organizing, and even sometimes cooking).


There was so much that we learned and accomplished when we were most active with our blog, but there were parts of life that were lacking. Balance and simplicity being one of the biggest parts. Through the chaos, our true purposes were facing interference.


Right now we're just searching out what it is that He wants us to become, but little by little you may find us back a little more as we try to find equilibrium.

With Love,
Al

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sew Ready to Play: Hopscotch Skirt {Guest Post}

Ty with her Hopscotch Skirt and Sally with her butterfly tunic and polka-dot leggings
It seems like when it rains, it pours. This final drizzle of inspiration brings us back to Sew Ready to Play. In an effort to KISS it, I tried to make my major accident a happy one. If you're curious and want a flashback to childhood, come check out my Hop-Scotch skirt over at Feelin' Crafty.
These kids love to play.  Heber has finally grown into Ryder's sailor suit pants


Here's a reminder of what years past projects have brought.
Cash Cab Inspired Dress
Hi Lo Cherry-O Dress
With Love,
Al

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I LOVE Dresses (laundry not so much)

Gwen Neckband option, I like a neckband that lays flatter so I later folded it over and hand stitched it down.
I am a hoarder of really cool knit fabrics. Okay, maybe not quite a hoarder, but a collector and when I can find them for a really good price like maybe $4/yard or less then I get a few yards and save them for an ambitious day. The projects I'm sharing today all come from the hoarded fabric box.

At the beach with the kids in Gwen Dress
Three months ago our little family moved from Utah to southern California. Now I am just a couple of hours away from the LA fashion district! Scary and I have plotted many times over the last couple of years to go there and now I find myself just a hop, skip, and a jump away. The only problem I face now is the fabric stash. How can I convince Samson to let me go on a mini trip exclusively for fabric shopping when I have enough fabric already? The solution is simple, I need to stop daydreaming of using those fabrics and start sewing with them. I haven't been fabric shopping for almost 6 months.

Gwen Skirt option with performance knit
It may not be common knowledge in the blogging world, but I love dresses. 90% of my wardrobe is a spit of either workout clothes or dresses.

Gwen Dress with neckband option using lightweight cotton/jersey knit
Funny side story for you. A few years ago when laundry wasn't my strong suit (and I put my son in a pumpkin). Haha. I had went to the store in a nice dress. While I was there a little girl asked her mom, "Mom, why is she wearing a dress!?" I immediately responded, "because I need to do laundry and dresses are the only thing I have left." The mom probably dying from humiliation, tried recover from her child's remark by telling me that she thought she looked very nice.

Uptown/Downtown Dress with modified neckband, Sally is in her Otium Shirt
In coping with the new adjustments of family far away and trying to adorn the part of homemaker that has it together, I've been doing some self care sewing. It has made getting ready for date nights (that are too few and far between) and church a lot less stressful and emotional. I also recently started homeschooling and I think it's important to approach it professionally. Each day we get dressed up for the day. I find that it helps me get more mentally geared to teach.

Gwen Skirt option is perfect for school
To start off my fall wardrobe I turned to the Gwen; I love this dress! I can honestly say that because I've sewn up every version of this dress out of completely different fabrics, and each time I have loved the outcome. If you are pear shaped (not much on top with plenty of curves on bottom) this dress could be great for you as well. It's a great way to cast aside the workout clothes of the mom world and not lose the comfort.

Gwen Dress with placket option using interlock knit; super comfy!
The length is perfect! As a kid I remember going to a school presentation where a writer came and told us that a well writ story needs to be like a skirt. Long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to make it interesting. I feel like the Gwen fits this description. Each time I sewed it I did the half length sleeve because I won't have much need for long sleeves here and don't love any sleeve shorter than that.

Gwen Dress with placket option and nautical buttons made using puffy paint
In addition to the various Gwen dresses, I have also pulled out the Willow Wrap dress from this last winter. It is still a great dress and the extra flowyness is great on the days where fitted isn't necessarily best.

Willow Wrap Dress has been waiting to be pulled out for fall
To cap off my fall wardrobe I decided I needed one classically romantic style dress. The Uptown/Downtown Maxi Dress was the perfect pattern to turn to.

Uptown/Downtown Dress Maxi option using burnout jersey knit
You may be thinking that this fabric looks a little bit familiar, and you would be right. When we found this fabric almost a year and a half ago we fell in love with it, bought 8 yards, cut it down the middle, and saved it for the perfect project. When the Uptown/Downtown pattern came out I knew I finally had found the perfect pattern for this highly hoarded fabric.

My favorite accessory is my kids. They make me feel full of joy and complete. My smiles are always bigger with them around.
As far a blogging goes, life is no longer going to step aside for the blog. I'm going to sneak in pictures with my kids in the last few minutes of light in the comfort of my backyard; put my full energy of heart into trying to master the crazy hard job of home-school teacher, and focus on my family. When I share, it will be raw feelings, learning experiences, and things that can make others feel empowered instead of inadequate. Because the reality is that life is hard; there need to be more opportunities to be lifted and find joy in the simple things.

Uptown/Downtown Dress with modified neckband and pockets
With love,
Al

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Favorite Dress

You know those clothing items that it doesn't matter what time of the month that as soon as you slip into them you instantly feel like a million bucks? This is the single most favorite item in my wardrobe. Often time in the sewing blogging world we sew something up and almost simultaneously post about it. We try our best to objectively review but it is hard to know really how something will hold up to everyday use, week after week.

I originally sewed the Everyday Day Maxi for See Kate Sew as part of her testing team. I am just short of 6' with all of the height being in my legs. I usually add 4" to the skirt of any dress that I sew, but with this one I really wanted it to be truly maxi so I laid on the ground on top of my fabric and marked from my under bust line where the heel of my foot landed.
I like the way the neckline is designed, where initially match the raw edges of the neckline and neckband from the inside. Then folded over to the seam allowance enclose the raw edge and have a clean finish inside and out. The directions instructed that you top stitch the neckline with but with the unique texture of the fabric I decided to hand stitch this using a blind stitch binding method. I also hand stitched the hem with a blind hem. 

I had purchased 4 yards of this peach fabric when I found it. I didn't know what I would make with it but I knew that I wanted to have enough to give me the flexibility to sew want ever it was. This ended up being a heaven send for this project, because maxi dresses require such large cuts of fabric (I only ended up using 3 of the 4 yards for this project). 
From the time that I sewed this dress has been my go to dress. I sewed it right before I got pregnant and wore it through the whole pregnancy. For my pear shape the amount of gather in the skirt has been the perfect amount to skim over my bumps without looking frumpy.  I usually show quite early but because of the silhouette of this dress I had people in my congregation that didn't know I was pregnant (because I wore this dress every week) until one week when I decided to change it up with a dress made from Motherhood Maternity.
When Slim Jim broke his foot their was several weeks where I had to wrangle those crazy kids fairly pregnant. Though I had to worry about keeping up with them; I didn't have to worry about whether my dress was riding up or if I was exposed in some way.

I have cared for this fabric by hand washing it or throwing it in a lingerie bag and hanging it to dry. After a year it is showing some wear but it still is the item that I know that always has my back. There is something so important in a Mom-inform about having the thing that makes you feel the part of lady. I love how this dress makes me feel like I am in a knit version of a Jane Austin Era dress.

I would love to hear about your favorite pattern that you have ever sewn for yourself? If you had one fantasy about who you are and what you are doing in that pattern who would you be?

Now how would you like to win some prizes?
Momiform MAKEover
REMEMBER: Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter the two separate Rafflecopters! 50+ winners will be selected! Get 10% off your fabric order from now through October 1 at Michael Levine/LowPriceFabric.com with code: Makeover10
Get 20% off your pattern order now through October 1 at UpCraft Club with code: MOMIFORM Are you MAKE-ing over your Momiform? Join the fun on Instagram with hashtag #momiformmakeover
 

 
Be sure to check out all the awesome series participants to get lots of momiform inspiration!
 

Sponsors
 
momiform major sponsors
Special thanks to these major sponsors who generously donated the following items for the giveaway:
(There will a different winner for each line item so we can spread the love around!)
Janome - One Skyline S5 Sewing Machine* Indiesew - Four $50 gift certificates (four separate winners) Michael Levine / Low Price Fabric - Four $25 gift certificates (four separate winners) and 10% discount for readers through October 1 - code: Makeover10 UpCraft Club - Two $25 gift certificates (two separate winners) and 20% discount on patterns through October 1 - code: MOMIFORM
And the following pattern designers who graciously provided patterns for the series participants and/or contributed the following items for the giveaway:
Grainline Studio - Two patterns of your choice True Bias - Hudson Pants & Southport Dress patterns Colette -Two patterns of your choice Closet Case Files -Two patterns of your choice Sew Much Ado -Two patterns of your choice Sew Straight & Gather - Three patterns of your choice Golden Rippy - Two patterns of your choice 110 Creations: A Sewist's Notebook Patterns for Pirates - Two patterns of your choice Itch to Stitch - Two patterns of your choice Mouse House Creations - Two patterns of your choice Hey June Handmade -Two patterns of your choice Peekaboo Pattern Shop - Three patterns of your choice Go-to Patterns - One women's pattern of your choice GreenStyleCreations -Two patterns of your choice Puperita - One pattern of your choice Sofilantjes - Two patterns of your choice Charlotte Kan - One pattern of your choice So Sew Easy - Two patterns or one bundle of your choice OUSM Designs - Women's Thumbs-Up Tee pattern E-Beth Designs - Two patterns of your choice Muffin Head Patterns - Any pattern of your choice up to $10 GrayDay Patterns - Sandpoint Top or Athena Top pattern (your choice) Scientific Seamstress - One pattern of your choice Stitch Upon a Time - $20 gift card 5 out of 4 - Two patterns of your choice Frianki Patterns - Two patterns of your choice KZ Jo Studio - Two patterns of your choice Straight Stitch Designs - Full collection of patterns Sewing Patterns by Aivilo Charlotte - Two patterns of your choice Striped Swallow Designs - Two patterns of your choice Rose and Lee Designs - Two patterns of your choice Sewing Geek Patterns - One pattern of your choice Filles a Maman - One pattern of your choice Bella Sunshine Designs - One pattern of your choice Liola Designs - One pattern of your choice Cali Faye Collection - One pattern of your choice Tinman Patterns - Orbit Skirt pattern Felicity Sewing Patterns - Two patterns of your choice Winter Wear Designs - Two patterns of your choice Ellie Inspired - Three patterns of your choice Love Notions - One pattern of your choice a Sparkly Baby - Two patterns of your choice Terra's Treasures Designs - Two patterns of your choice
*Janome giveaway winner must be located in U.S.A. and is therefore on a separate Rafflecopter below. Machine must be picked up at a local dealer; it cannot be shipped.
This second Rafflecopter includes all the other sponsor items since they can be awarded internationally! You must enter both Rafflecopters in order to be entered to win both the sewing machine and the rest of the giveaway items. All patterns awarded will be in PDF format. Enjoy!


Now for a special announcement: Obviously the pictures for this post was taken a year ago and this isn't as ground breaking as many of the other posts that are part of this series (Lauren seriously put together a great group of ladies and please go check out their posts because they are amazing). Life has been a little crazy around these parts and I have really only tried to participate in blog tours I feel strongly passionate about to contain the craziness a bit. But this cutting down hasn't been enough, for the time being I need to cut out all blogging deadlines out of my life. My kids and my husband need me to be me the mom and wife who is all in emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. Blogging doesn't leave me with enough in my reservoir to be who they need me to be.

When our baby was born he had to spend a week in the NICU due to several complications. One of these complications was with his oxygen saturation. One day while I was there I went to fed him from a bottle and the nurse had given me the regular flow instead of the slower flow that we usually used for him. The milk came to fast and he began to choke on it. His saturation level went down to the 73% almost instantly and in my hands I had a purple baby. It was the most scary moment of my life. Instantly everything in my life was in perfect clarity the things that mattered (my husband, my kids, our extended family, our families goals) and the things that didn't. Luckily, I few seconds later I  was able to get his oxygen levels to get back up by startling him awake and since he has been home he has been very healthy.

I wrote later that week about that experience so that I could remember what I had decided and have my thoughts prepared to you about why I was doing this, but I didn't finish it. In fact I put it away and thought someday it will be the right day to share this or maybe it won't. I so love the supportiveness and sisterhood that is in the sewing blogging world that it has really been hard for me to admit defeat. This last deadline was the nail in the coffin that sewing blogging isn't working in my life right now and it will be healthier for my family for me to say goodbye. I will share with you an excerpt of what I wrote several months ago because they might provide further clarity as to the year long journey of letting go.
This last week I had an experience that cemented so firmly a decision that I have been mulling over for months. It all happened in one split scary second everything was clear and I knew what I needed to do.
Since we competed in PR&P and my legs swelled and bruised from foot to mid calf I began to we question whether this blogging thing was best for me (both for my health and my ability to be a good mother). I rested and came back to it several weeks later feeling renewed and ready to sew.
I committed to myself that I would only be working on sewing projects that excited me and that I believed in (like the dressage outfit for Boston's birthday, the brother/sister outfit from sew a tune, girls bundle up, the extraordinary girl, boys wear pink outfit and finally the top stitchers). For each of these projects right around the each deadline either me and/or the kids got very sick.
Some of them hit durning our cold apocalypse, others had stomach bugs but each one had something big enough for me to need exceptions and/or additional help from family (I really hate doing both of these). I wasn't keeping my head above water and I knew I was putting out people right and left. All this was my mellow version of blogging where I was only taking on commitments I was passionate about.
I will probably stop by every once in a while to show you something I have sewn for kicks and giggles. Pictures of the kids. Or maybe share a new favorite recipe. To be honest I don't know how often or how amazing it will be. I love you and I so apperciate each and everyone of our readers we know many of you by name.

This is only my journey and I trust that my sisters will make their own paths through life.

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