Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shorts that Make You Fly - E+M No. 2 Pants Pattern {Pattern Review}

I started out the year wanting to sew equally for both kids but I have kinda failed miserably. I am trying to repent of my ways, it is honestly that we get asked to do more girl stuff than boy stuff. I wish this wasn't the case (though I love the girly stuff) Ryder totally notices and gets a bit bummed when Boston gets yet another pretty dress. He is in need of more clothes immediately so behind the scenes I am working on evening the score.
For the 4th of July I took the opportunity to give him a momma made he was so yearning for. I used E+M Children Pant Pattern No. 2. I tested this pattern early this spring because of mistakes I made when stitching them up they because I goofed on a few things (a good example of two many irons in the fire) even with my mistakes the tester pair of pants have been worn everywhere and I knew I needed to make another pair.
I love the seam finishes on this pattern, you don't need a serger. Honestly with the directions included in the pattern the seams will be stronger than simple serge and they look stinking awesome. Look at that durability of the flat felt inseam!
The pattern have both a short and pants length which is great when you fall in love with a pattern like this one to have it accessible all year long. Allison has even included a boy and girl line on the shorts so you don't have to worry about your husband teasing him about short shorts (not that we have ever had anything like that happen right after I spent all day working on some awesome euro inspired swim trunks).
You also don't have to have any special fabrics for these I did some Joann's exclusive quilters cotton and the last pair I made I used seersucker for the pants and cheap broadcloth for the pockets and six months later they are still going strong.
Another great feature of this pattern is the different pocket options, for the boys plain front and pleated back & for the girls ruffled front and gathered back. I love a good unisex pattern that has details that totally sell it as the right gender because I am the type of mom that I don't really want someone questioning whether or not it was meant to be a boy or a girl sew.
I opted to do color blocking on the pleated pockets I initially planned to do them all out of red and had picked up less of the star (accent) fabric than what the pattern called for because of my plan but then when I fell in love with the star fabric I knew I wanted to put it on the back too.
When I finally finished them (not a quick sew for suck a slow sewist like myself but totally worth it) and Ryder put them on he was so happy. He loved all the pockets in them and instantly started finding treasures to fill them.
I had told Ryder that he could choose the fabric with in reason. I was a bit nervous when he chose the red but soon I fell in love with the texture that was printed on it. I wish it showed more in the pictures but there are tiny itty bitty circles with every 4th one is a bit distressed and darker printed on the fabric (it is the grainy texture in the pictures). This print has been very forgiving for all the playground playing and the water fights these shorts have been involved in. In the future I will not be shying away from bright colors for pants for him because they are so easy to find even though he is constantly dashing from one end of the playground to the other.
Another favorite part of these shorts is the back waistband on them. With the way that the instructions are written you end up with two great casings for running 1/2" elastic through. I really like having two strands of elastic because if one fails than you won't have an instant wardrobe malfunction. I also think it makes it more comfortable than just the single strand.
I love the flat waistband on the front of the pants. Pretty cool detail for such a cool kid. I love as a mom that he can get the pants on and off by himself, they look nice and there are no fixtures to worry about. I think he loves that too, he always seems to be annoyed when he has to button something up.
The pattern is labelled confident beginner or intermediate sewist. Don't be scared if your not sure if you are at that level because the instructions and pictures are clear and the techniques are sound. Anyone could sew this pattern just make sure you take enough time (3 to 4 hours) and you will have a pair of pants/shorts that you will love.
Just so you know I have no reason to right this post except that I love this pattern. I think it is a great pattern to own. I know how over night a kid can grow out of their pants and it usually doesn't coinside with a pay day but with the recommended fabrics (light to midweight quilters cotton) you are sure to have a fabric in your stash that will tie you over.

What is your favorite unisex pattern? And why?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hiking Pine Mountain: Insights on the mountains of life

When I was a second grader we moved "out of town" .  Living life in the country is the ideal way to grow up.  Our closest neighbor was about 1 mile away, and in most directions all you could see was nature.  We spent every spare moment exploring, hiking, blowing in the wind, camping, swimming and painting in nature.  
My job for most of my growing up years, was the kitchen.  There was a big window above the sink, and that window had the best view in the house!  On the north east side of the house, there is a huge mountain.  I can see it from a town about 30 minutes away.  It has a few visible ever-green trees, and because we live in a dessert, where normally only sage brush grows it was named Pine Mountain.   Every day, as I did the dishes, I looked out the window at Pine Mountain and tried to decide the best trail to climb to the top.  I imagined myself sitting on the top ridge looking out at the valley, 100's of times.   I rarely remained in the kitchen mentally.  Physically I was doing dishes.  Mentally I was hurdling sage brush and scaling rock walls on pine mountain.  Lovingly I renamed it "dishes mountain"

This is Indian Paint brush and Sage Brush on the trail.  (when I was little I called it Indian tooth brush)
Scary called me last year, and as we discussed hikes for the summer, we decided to make Pine Mountain a priority.  Why was it essential to climb this mountain, this ugly, barren, trail-less mountain?  It was just one of those things.  You understand, right?

We left at about 6 in the morning, with tons of anticipation and full water bottles.  We had scouted out the trail with Papa Shaffer the night before.  By about 7 we were feeling pretty good and about 100 yards from the top with some ominous looking rock ahead.  I think often in peoples life, they get about 100 yards from the top of their challenges, and think, "that's far enough, this is much to hard, if I would have known it was going to be this hard I never would have even tried".  For that reason, I make it a point never to quit before the job is done.   My kids and I even have a quote that we remind each other of.  "Shaffers never go back".
This means, you can encourage some one to get to where you are.  You can teach them the path, but never stoop or lower your standards to bring them up.  Never give up your footing.  Lift don't push.
Also, never go back on your word.  If you say you will, you will.  If you tell yourself you will, you will.
One day about 5 years ago, I decided I would train for a marathon.  I had 4 little boys (one a new born)  Many people reminded me that it was crazy.  I reminded myself that it was crazy.  It took a little over a year to train.  But, I didn't want to let myself down.  I didn't want to run a 12 mile run and give up.  I had to know that I could do it.
Hiking is the same way.  You get up to the last hill, the one that you think is the top, and then uh-oh, its not.  But, if you turn back, you can never say you conquered that mountain. Conquer the mountain!
Scary and I got almost to the top, and then we saw it.  The face of the mountain was covered with 50 lb. boulders.  They were not secure.  Every step was unsure footing.  At one point I loosed a boulder that could have ended Scary's life.  But, we continued on.  Another 100 yards at a time.  We got to the final rocky ledge, and began scaling it.  We called out what we saw, helping each-other as we went.
Each one of us sisters have had trials in our lives, that have left us feeling scared or stuck, unsure what to do next.  We have reached out, sought companionship, encouragement, and a hand up from those who have been there before us.  The encouragement that we have received, has gotten us through many of our challenges.  People who have been where you want to be are always looking to give advice, a hand up, or knowledge.  Take it, use it.  Don't try to go it alone.
Finally we both reached the summit. Our knees were shaking, and we realized we could not go back the way we had come.  We had committed ourselves to a very difficult hike, and there was no turning back.  At this point it was about 10 AM.  Hiking down was going to be much harder than hiking up had been.
Sometimes in life we face challenges.  We don't know what lies ahead.  We can only rely on our knowledge, and those who have gone before us.  We can only take one step at a time, waiting to be certain that our footing is sure, before taking another step.  Resting on our Laurels does us no good.  We must continue on.
This was the case with this hike.  The view was beautiful, I was grateful to be sharing the experience with my sister.  But, I was scared that any step could be our last.   Soon we began to pray, and wait for confirmation that the path we followed would end well.  We relied heavily on the spirit, as we descended the mountain.  We sang church hymns, made jokes, and tried to encourage each-other down. Most of our descent was covered in boulders that slipped and slid with every step.  The rest of our trip down was covered with grassy dirt at about an 80 degree incline, interspersed with trees that could help to break our fall or sage brush a craggy bushes that would scratch and tear at our exposed skin.  It was a miserable climb down the mountain.  I was reminded of hikes from my youth, where some of the girls from our church group would sit down and say, "I am sorry I just can't go any farther"  Inevitably some one would say, "Well you can't just stay here, and I can't carry you, so you will have to keep going."  At the end of those hikes, the girls that complained, completed the hikes, and enjoyed the completion just as much as the rest of us.  I learned that complaining about the hike did them no good.  It just made it harder for those around them.  How like life is that?  What good does it do for us to complain?  The end of the trial is no closer, the complaint does not make the trial easier, and it effects everyone around us.  Singing has really made not complaining easier for me.  When I start to feel a complaint coming on I start to think of a song to help the trial along.  Whistle while you work. 
We were roughly 1 mile from the car, almost at the end of the descent at about a 60 degree incline, wading through craggy bushes, loose boulders, sage brush, and fallen limbs of old trees.  A rock gave way and Scary went down.  Our legs were scraped and bleading we were exhausted.  We were nervous about possibly seeing rattle snakes or moose.  We thought Scary may have had her knee go out.  Scary had prepared her self much better than I had for this trip.  She had gone on several hiking trips in Utah this spring and summer.  She had built up a stamina that I did not have.  The only advantage I had on her, was some amazing hiking boots.  My Dads hiking boots.  They laced up past my ankles.  The toes were firm, and I had a sure footing.  We started calling my boots the "Paul Bunyan Clod Stompers"  I led the way in my Dad's boots, and we both made it back down the mountain.
As I thought about our shoes, I couldn't help but think of the scripture in Ephesians 6:15.  "Your feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace"    If we rely on him Our Heavenly Father, we can climb any mountain, his footing is sure, with out him we will fall.  With God all things are possible.
with love,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dear Boston

To vote for this look in the Knit Fabric Swap click here.
Dear Boston,
The other day I happened upon this video and I thought of you. I want you to know you are beautiful without even trying.
I know in about 20ish years you will be a momma, with little kids that will keep you just as busy as Ryder & you do. I hope you don't think that life for me was super easy. That simultaneously I was able to keep every ball up in the air. That my house is pristine, my hair and makeup done perfectly and we just lived the Pinterestic (or whatever the big thing is 2 decades later) life. The truth is that you and your brother are my whole life. Every choice I make is dedicated to trying to better things for you.
I know I haven't lost my spark because you smile in the mirror, point to yourself and say pretty princess. Then turn to me and say, "Mommy, Queen?" It doesn't matter that my hair is pulled back in a greasy ponytail for the 3rd day straight or that I have jiggly middle. You help me remind me that none of that matters, my nature is divine.  You remind me that this calling of motherhood is an eternal position of love and that makes me want to parent with patience.
I have wanted for a long time wanted to make a mother daughter outfit to remind me of this, but hadn't taken the chance. Skirt Fixation's Challenge Create was a perfect opportunity to do this. The pictures weren't Pinterest perfect but they were real. You marked all over yourself with eyeliner & your brother spent the day having tantrums. My hair is clean, but not anything more than pulled back in a simple pony tail and I have my simple makeup job. It was too close to your bed time for you want to cooperate, but we have pictures of the two us.
I love you sweetheart. I will try my best to help you keep the confidence that you have. I will try to protect you from the lies that the world would tell you. One day when you are a mommy you have a day when everything is going wrong just give me a call and I will tell you that this is normal. You are strong, beautiful and courageous.
For the technical details of this sewing project head over to Skirt Fixation's Challenge Create: Fabric Swap Knit Week.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Betty Skirt Coloring Page/Paperdoll {Free printable}

We are getting very excited for our re-release of the Betty Skirt this week. There are just a few more i's to dot and t's to cross in anticipation for the re-release we are offering a free printable where you and your daughter/niece/granddaughter/neighbor can plan the Betty Skirt of her dreams.

One of my favorite parts about sewing for my kids is letting them get in on the design process. This free download will let you do this and while your sewing away the special girl in your life can have something to keep her busy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

itty bitty betty skirt pattern {Free Pattern}

Today you can see the newest addition to the Shaffer Sisters Team over at mama says sew. As part of our post we decided to do a free pattern for the newest of new babies. This will only work for babies less than 8 lbs.
Click here, or on the image above to download. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


We were supposed to publish our post yesterday, but life got the better of us. And the heat got the better of our kids. Thank you to the great bloggers that helped organize it and thank you for letting us participate. We had originally planned to write this all together as a blog but then after talking we realized we all had different reasons for sewing so we decided on each one of us sharing a little blurp.

From Al:

Sewing is so much more than just creating. It is a way of connecting to those that have come before. It is passing on the traditions of my mother and grandmothers and their mothers before them back through the generations. It is a spiritual connection with those who I desire to know and emulate. There are so many arts that are lost through time. Sewing is just one little way of keeping a treasure alive. Some things I learn are new skills, but others are old skills with modern spins on them.

One of my favorite parts of sewing comes at the end when the project is completed. Pictures are taken to capture that moment in time and personality of those that are sewn for. I treasure these pictures of my kids more than anything else. I often times feel nostalgic and find myself skimming through the pictures over the years and being amazed at the transformation. It is encouraging as a mother to see these beautiful children that you have created and are trying to raise in goodness and righteousness.

Sewing is a way for me to make something for my family that shows how much I love them. Most things made could not be purchased. Or if they could be purchased, they wont stand the test of time that something made with the love of my hands could. Some things take weeks to finish, but knowing that gift of time makes the item that much more valued.

From Scary:
For me sewing is spiritual. I know that may seem a little deep for just putting thread to fabric, it is more than that to me. I am sort of hyperactive bouncing all around trying to get everything done. Sewing requires me to be calm as I plan, research, work, tweak & finish. (Sewing blogging has really helped with the last one :) before blogging I had more UFOs then I could count on one hand...or was that on both hands and both feet?) Sewing hasn't always been this but we don't have a piano and playing basketball is hard with two kids running around. There have been moments where I didn't know how I was going to wake up the next morning but then I dove straight into a project and some how I had the courage to make it through.
I sewed up the waves of summer collection when I was freaking out about a change in employment for my husband. And the fact that I was going to be moving/parenting two very young kids by myself for whole month.

When I approach a project I usually try to sew things that go beyond utility, items that each have a unique story. When I look at garments made with/by my mom and grandmas I feel their love. It is like a hug that lasts. There was a dress that was made by Grandma Twila nearly two decades ago that I can't wait to put on Boston. Boston will have never have had the chance to meet Grandma but she will have the chance to wear a garment made by the skilled fingers of her Great Grandma. How many "things" really have that sort of value. It is a value that can't be purchased.
Bohemian Baby Doll was made from my Grandma's Vintage Cotton and my MIL wedding dress
If you asked my kids what their favorite item that I ever made they would say without a doubt their double sided minky blankets. Which kinda makes me giggle because I had no idea what I was getting into when I started it. I had never sewn on minky before. I really wasn't highly proficient in knits.
To say I struggled would be an understatement. I sewed and seam ripped until it was "right". Looking at those blankets they may not be perfect (especially my terrible binding job around Ryder's) but my kids have loved the heck out of them. They have been dragged through the mud, washed, thrown up on, washed, spilled up on, washed and reloved each time. My kids travel with them, cuddle with them daily and build forts with them. The fact that I didn't know how to make a minky blanket and they both blankets have multiple flaws mean absolutely nothing to them. They know when they cuddle with their blanket that their Mom loves them. And that I am willing to wade through a new and strange concept for them.
I made these blankets the for Christmas for Ryder only weeks before Boston arrived. Which means when I made the blankets I had only recently got back into sewing.

My favorite reason for sewing might be the most unexpected at least for me it was. It is the relationships & community. I love people but I do not have a magnetic personality. I am pretty awkward and bit shy. I have the desire to be outgoing, but when I do I usually find myself falling flat on my social face. Sewing has become the vehicle for the beginning of many important friendships in my life.  Just yesterday, I was over whelmed by the kind words said by many of you. I thought about how blessed I was to have such encouraging friends. I came into sewing/blogging thinking that I would be able to help others; instead I have found that the benefits to me have been exponential and the friendships are among some of my dearest.

From Jo:
Why do I sew?
I started to sew, because Momma Shaffer did.  She had me on a Friday, and by that Sunday, my blessing day, she had made me a blessing gown and bonnet.  She helped me through about 10 years of Sewing 4-H.  It was a labor of love, and I am really grateful to her.  My Grandma Betty would help me with all of the zippers and hems.  I owe my quick hand-stitching to her.  
Now I sewout of necessity.  My kids need long sleeve shirts in the winter.  I sew them.  I need a new summer skirt.  I sew it.  My little girl needs a princess dress.  I sew it.
Snow pants I made for my oldest for Frances Suzanne Flip this Pattern Series
Why do I sew?  I sew as a creative outlet.  My nursing chair faces my sewing stash.  I stare at it, and try to think of things to make, things that will beautify my home, or make my family smile.
I made this shirt right after my sewing machine got fixed. It was a happy day because I got to sew and he got a snowboarder sweatshirt that he loved.
Why do I sew?  because my sisters thought I could.  "Oh, Jo, they said, you forgot how fun it is.  Start sewing again."  Scary made all of her projects look so fun, I had to jump back on the "bandwagon".
Why do I sew, because my darn sewing machine calls my name.
That is why I sew.

No matter the Reason we are grateful for the outcome.
We are so grateful for sewing and we all have a closer emotional connection than we first starte. Often time we will call for advice, encouragement or direction on an element of a sewing project. Once we call and get our question off we don't get off the phone. We talk for hours later getting a lot of emotional baggage off our chest.

Sometimes we are tired from working very hard on project(s) but in the end is worth it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Embroidering Your Pants Pocket With a Custom Design & Ladies Bundle Up Sale

I just adore the ladies over at Pattern Revolution so I was excited when they finally gave into my pleadings and asked me to join in the fun of participating in Ladies Bundle Up Sale Blog Tour. When I found out the Skinny Jeans from Jocole Patterns I rushed at the chance sew them up. I have been eyeing them ever since seeing Becca's, as part of her nature inspired look (which we were judges for). And jeans have been on my sewing bucket list for too long! I knew that yoga band skinny jeans were a good place to start.
I instantly fell in love with the Hip Hop Tank & Top from Love Notions Patterns (to be honest I didn't know what the name of it was but I emailed Robin immediately to find out the name). I love how the two patterns work together & without a doubt the two patterns if I could pick something off the rack it would be something just like this, but being almost 6' 
Before I go into the details of how I customized the skinny pants pattern (which might be helpful if you have a long back rise aka a long butt like me), I want to tell you about the shirt.

I have been saving this fabric for over 6 months because it is my VERY FAVORITE color and it is nearly impossible to find this color. When I did I purchased ever last bit of it, which was only 3 yards. I am so glad that I decided to use a portion of it on this top. It is perfect! I was right on the edge of the Large/XL and per Tami's direction I went for the Large and I am glad that I did.

This pattern has a lot of great options in it. For sleeve lengths it has 3: tank, sleeveless & cap sleeve options & it has 4 different back options: basic, tulip, button placket, and color blocked. One of my favorite things about this pattern is the neckband. The installation is different than others that I have done in the past and seems to be more forgiving than the usual ribbing neckband. Since this color is unique I knew I wouldn't be able to find ribbing the right color but with Tami's instructions I was easily able to use the same fabric.  
A part of the pattern that I am looking forward to using in the future is the button placket, the instructions have instructions on how to create it from scratch along with how to refashion a button up shirt! I really want to go to the thrift store some day and find a button up I can't live without and do the bottom placket option. This pattern really is really a quick sew & oh so comfortable!

I appreciate the modesty that is built into this pattern, with how the neckband is done it seems to stay tight to the skin even when I needed to bend down and pick up two kids from the playground.When you build your bundle, let this one be a contender for Bundling Up. You won't regret it!

For all the speed that the Hip Hop Top was I knew that the Skinny Jeans would be another matter all together. I think going into it with that mind set helped me keep working until it was perfect. I was a little thrown off my intial goal for project completion. But I am so glad that I took the time to get it right and make them mine! I think that the Skinny Pants are a great beginning pants pattern but you must start with the mindset that you might have to customize to get it right. I sewed the size 22W out of stretch denim and I spent 2 days just getting the sizing right.
I have a high rise (the measurement from my waistband) the exact amount was 2 3/8". I found it by measuring from my crotch up to my waistband while wearing my favorite pair of yoga pants. My front rise on the other end was absolutely perfect. That meant while the front & sides would be perfect to sew while the back would be too short and when I sat I would suffer from plummers crack.

I solved this by cutting the back lengthen/shorten line and reposition it to match the illustration above. This did make it so that I had to smooth out the outer area. Once the pants were assembled I put back darts to suck it in at the waist, I determined the right amount by putting them on pinning, sewing & readjusting. At the top of the pants tapering down I took in 1" from each side seam to get a better fit.
I had Al take a picture so you could see the darts and the pocket placement, but I was a little embarrassed to be standing in a busy park with my shirt hiked up with her shooting pictures of my butt so I actually turned around to ask her if she was done and that is why it looks twisted at the top.
Another fit adjustment I made was to move my pockets around from where the pattern stated I used my favorite commercially produced jeans as a guide. I positioned the inside top corner of my pockets 5 1/2" below the bottom of the waistband & 2 1/2" from the center mark. The outside top corner I positioned at 5 inches below the waistband.
I also added 5 inches to the inseam because I am almost 6' instead of the 5'5" average that the pattern is designed for. I made my inseam longer than it needed to be because I am such a sucker for a wide hem on a pair of jeans, a wider hem reminds me of dress pants. I think it is probably because it feels luxurious to the girl who almost always suffers from high waters. The hem allowance on my pants is 2 1/2" inches (vs the 5/8" on the pattern). 

My favorite detail that I put into these jeans was the custom embroidery. I sliced part of our logo and resized it fit perfectly on pockets. Used a chain stitch with 2 strand embroidery floss. I also used the embriodery floss to add the stablizing X's to the back pockets, bar tack (satin stitch) on the front pocket & a faux placket.
I initially printed off the design then I traced it on to Water soluble stabilizer. Using an embroidery hoop and some scotch tape I positioned them accordingly on the pocket using the outer part of the design as a guide so that they would both positioned perfectly even. Many of the tutorial I have read said to used sharpie marker for tracing because it is supposed to go with the stabilizer. I did not find this to be true because I used red sharpie and my stitching has a slight red to it. In the future I will transfer my image onto the stabilizer using a fabric marker instead of the sharpie. 
This is about 1/2 through the first pocket.

I am so glad to be able to participate in this tour. And from that I was able to make two wonderful pieces that are sure to be staples long after this summer is done. I am already planning a different take on a the outfit. When I told my husband I wanted to make another pair of jeans he asked me how much they cost to make, I told him a bunch of time but I only spent 20 dollars (19 on stretch denim, 33 cents on embroidery floss & probably about 66 in knit scraps from other projects) & he was shocked.
In the past I have really struggled with wearing jeans and other pants with a firmer waistband because most of them ride right on my C-section scar which is really sensitive (better now than it was 2 years ago but still more sensitive than it used to be). I love the yoga pant waistband because it would work for all the mommy stages; pregnancy, post baby & chasing kids around. The only thing I will say about this is that I did the narrowest band and I took mine in a bit. Even though I did I still had a little problem keeping them in the right spot so I would suggest if you are doing the 2" waistband you might think about adding in waistband elastic for extra support & ump for keeping your pants up.

I might be addicted to making things for myself. Even though our house was a disaster as a result of a mommy sewing marathon, I felt like a million bucks in this outfit. Feeling like a million bucks > than doing dishes. Run over to Pattern Revolution to snatch up these patterns and so many more. Sale runs through the 27th so hurry over there before the sale is gone. You shouldn't wait until the last day to purchase because they have sweetened the deal by Hosting a Sewing Bee with a great giveaway!
And if you are needing a bit more convincing check out the other blogs on the tour.

June 20
June 21 
June 22
June 23
June 24
June 25
June 26
June 27
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