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May 31, 2013

Scary and Al are moving today!

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Next week we will all live in the west again.  It will be so nice for us all to be within 8 hours of Grandmas house!
Al and her family are moving home from Chicago, and living with Grandma and Grandpa Shaffer this summer.  That lucky girl gets to see this all summer!

She is probably most excited about being home, among the friends and family she grew up with.


Scary is moving out of her in-laws house and in to a cute apartment in the Greater Salt Lake area.

image via wikipedia
She said she is most excited for the Salt Lake City Library, because she knows there are some pretty amazing sewing and cook books there.
image via
I am so excited for my sisters and this fun transition day.
Al and her family are all packed and ready to go.
This is our Dad and our Brother moving Scary's stuff from Idaho to Utah. 
May 30, 2013

Drop Waisted Maxi Skirt: Simple Simon and Co. {Make for Mom Series 2013}

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It's of the two Elizabeth's from over at Simple Simon and Company and I am so happy to be a guest over here today with the Shaffer Sisters.  (What a fantastic group of women they are...really.  They are the kind of ladies you want to have for neighbors aren't they?)
I love their idea of sewing for yourself for Mother's Day!
It's brilliant really.  Because #1.  I would like to get something new to wear for Mother's Day and #2.  Its another excuse to sew, which I really love to do.
Now when I got their invitation I have to admit I went a little crazy and cut out 5 (yes, 5) dresses for myself.  And one of them (sewn from a lovely 1960's pattern) only needs the skirt attached to the bodice and to be hemmed.  But alas, that project was not to be finished this month...
This month at our house we've had the flu, a series of high fevers, walking pneumonia and stitches.  And I would say it's been a rough month but I've decided that it is just par for the course with kids.  Every month is "rough" in it's own way.  Illness, accidents, setbacks----gallons of spilled milk.  It's all part of life...and being a woman...and a mother...and a wife...and a daughter...and a sister...and a friend...and a neighbor...and....sometimes it's a lot.
We wouldn't change it---no, not even for a minute---but it does make it easy to loose ourselves in the mix.  (I'm sure I'm not the only one...) 
So I appreciate projects like this that remind us to stop and remember ourselves every once in awhile.  I wouldn't call it "selfish sewing" sewing though...I'd call it "sewing for self preservation":).
This month as I realized my 60's dress wasn't going to be finished I was sad but determined to complete something that I really wanted for myself.  You see this month---aside from Mother's Day and everything else that went on, it was also my birthday and I wanted to make myself a gift.  (It is something I've never done before.  Make myself a gift...make myself a gift...why did that seem like such a foreign yet so obvious a concept?)
So one afternoon I put my husband on kid duty and I made myself something that I not only wanted but knew that I would use all summer.
A drop waisted maxi skirt.
Awhile ago I made Grace a drop waisted skirt for her Spring Look Book and thought to myself that I would sure like one of those in my size and in a maxi length.  So I followed the instructions that I made for Gracie's skirt and got to work making one for me.
And what do you know?  It worked!
And I was happy.
(The tutorial for the skirt is here:
if you want to make one too.)
It was fun to make something for me.
And it was the perfect gift---and something I needed.
And it wasn't just the skirt---it was the time I spent making something for myself---sewing for self preservation.
Thank you ladies for inviting me to join in your fabulous series.  I both appreciate and needed the invitation.  And let's not wait another year before we take the time to sew for ourselves again!
May 29, 2013

{Pleated Playsuit} Pattern Testing: Elegance and Elephants

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How many times have you wanted to make comments to the pattern makers?  Well this week Scary and I (Jo) got that chance.  This is our first time ever testing a pattern and my second time in 10 years using a pattern!  Scary is an amazing seamstress, and she sews with patterns all of the time.  It was really fun collaborating on this pattern testing with her.  I felt with her expertise, I was able to make more educated suggestions.
Heidi from Elegance and Elephants was really fun to work with and super sweet about our suggestions.  She even asked if we would consider testing for her in the future.  She is releasing this free pattern as a big giant thank you to all of her faithful fans and followers.  

Here is how our pattern testing turned out.
I made mine from two shirts so I was limited on fabric. Scary made her short pant out of $1/yrd fabric from Walmart last spring and straps from remnant fabric from another project. The other is quilters cotton from Home Fabric for $3 a yrd.
This took both of us about 3 hours, for sewing per playsuit.
I (Jo) made the 2T-3T size.  It fits her perfectly!

Scary made the shorts and pants 12-18 mo. size (18m length for the pants) and she felt like the back was just a tad tight with a diaper (she did 1/2" seams and missed the 3/8" seam instructions in the opening pages).

The leg bands gave it a little extra somethin' somethin'.

The ties were dainty and adorable.
Do you see the frosting on Boston's cheek? Yep food is a hidden secret for us Sisters to get our kids to cooperate in photo shoots and she was all out of pink marshmallows so this time it was Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

And the pockets were a big hit!

Heidi planned the pockets so the lining would give a pipping look. It is very cute but probably is one of the most time consuming parts of the pattern

Boston and Scary are suckers for the pleat detail that runs in the front of the shirt.

This is a really fun play suit.  I hope you head over to Elegance and Elephants on Friday TODAY (She released it early) and get the PDF for your free pattern.

With Love,
-Jo & Scary
May 28, 2013

Color-Block Summer Maternity/Non-Maternity Skirt: Jo {Make for Mom Series 2013}

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My sisters and I go shopping together on Google Chat from time to time.  (We need to do that again girls-I saw that they have a new line up) *Ahem* We especially love Amazon Dresses.  We dream about how we can remake them for a fraction of the cost and what fabrics we would use.
I personally lean toward the forgiving look that a color-block lends to any outfit.
this is a potato sack dress if I ever saw one, but it looks great because of the color blocking. 

In the summer time you can find me in shorts, comfy yoga pants, or skirts.  Mostly skirts, because they are comfortable and still acceptable to wear in public.
 I have had this color-blocked skirt in my mind for a few months.  I have had the fabric for a while to.  Make for Mom was the perfect opportunity for me to do a bit of selfish sewing, and I am super excited to have  a new summer skirt.

I hate these t-shirts and these maternity pants, which makes them the perfect candidates for a makeover.
The colors are a little brighter than I would normally pair, but, I threw caution to the wind it is color-blocking for goodness sake!

I am a fan of a little longer than knee length skirts. 

 I don't like the fullness of a circle skirt, because when the wind blows I blush!  So, a more fitted A-line works for me.  I cut the pattern from this skirt from Shade.  They cleared it out about 3 years ago and it has been a favorite staple of mine ever since.  However, it is covered in paint, oil stains, and I hate to say, there are even a few holes.

I like the look of light in the center and dark on the out sides.
I doubled the knits, because the navy blue was a little heavier polyester.

It went together really easy, and I even got to use a ready made hem and waist band, double score!
Here is the finished product.

And here is what I do in the finished product!

Its a rough job, but somebody has to do it, I am just glad its me.

With Love,
By the way, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to the women who were brave enough this month to add their pictures to our blog.  It is not easy being posted in living color!  You are my heros and because of you, I decided to bite the bullet and put my pictures up too, so thank you for being brave!
May 27, 2013

The Woman: Who Inspired the Wanda Gown

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Today we are contributing over at A Jennuine Life for their Lost Art of Sewing Series, head over there for all the technical stuff behind this project.

Lost Arts of Sewing at A Jennuine Life
Today I am just going to tell you about the woman who inspired the "Wanda Gown".

I really wanted to make Boston and Easter dress since I have not made a formal dress in almost a year,  I felt up to the challenge but all my patterns were 3 hours away in our storage unit. I asked my mom if she could send me some of hers. A few days later I received by media mail, 3 vintage patterns that she had borrowed from our home town neighbor, Wanda.

Wanda is a sweet lady that lives a couple miles down the dirt road from my parents. She is one of the warmest, most talented women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Her handwriting is like beautiful calligraphy, her food is awesome and her sewing is legendary. Her warmness penetrates the room and instantly makes the room comfortable.

She is in the same quilting group (a group of women who get together and tie quilts for newly married couples) as my Grandma Twila was. As a kid when we would go trick or treating she'd always have a grocery bag prepped for my family, filled with her delicious homemade popcorn balls (My Mom says she still sets some out for my parents, even though we are way beyond that stage).

Knowing and learning from women like her is one of the greatest rewards of growing up in a small town. When my grandfather passed away she and another golden woman brought us cinnamon rolls and a casserole, both were so appreciated and the tastes were certainly welcome.

Wanda and I share the love for fabrication, and she taught me my first invisible zipper.
Momma Shaffer is talented at sewing but is scared stiff by zippers, so often times when she was putting in a zipper for a special occasion and didn't have the time and/or patience it would go to Wanda. She would always return it with machine-like precision. For many of my 4-H projects, I went down to her house to get help with the zippers.  She was always so kind, patient, and comforting as I stressed about messing them up.  As I was stressing about the zipper for this project I remember sitting in her dining room and how her reassurance gave me calm.

Knowing that Wanda went through these three patterns having full faith that I could sew them gave me a real vote of confidence. I carefully looked them over and I decided on McCall 927, a dress pattern from the 1940's. There were times where I felt like I wanted to call this dress quits then I would remember that she told my mom that she knew I could handle the dress pattern.

The most amazing thing about one of my sewing foremothers is her talent is uplifting and encouraging. Is there some out there that you feel is a sewing foremother? If so tell me about her in the comments.
May 24, 2013

Ariadne Top {A.K.A. Not a Potato Sack} : Winter Wonderings and Whatnot {Make for Mom Series 2013}

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If you follow my blog you know that I sew a lot!  I sew for baby girl, I sew for my twin boys A&B, I've sewn Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews, I've even sewn for my mom.  You may have noticed that conspicuously missing from that list is sewing for ME.

I actually sewed for myself quite a bit in college and before I was married   I've made countless skirts, a few dresses, and some easy tops that are still hanging in my closet and get worn quite often.  But since having kids, my sewing for myself has gone the way of everything else post kids - to the END of the list.  And the end of my list is really never accomplished because the list just keeps growing and the things for me just keep getting bumped further and further down.

I was so excited to be contacted by the Shaffer Sisters to participate in this month's series, 'Sewing For Mom'.  The only way I was ever going to sew for me was to have a deadline and someone counting on me to submit my post on time - that is just the kinda gal I am .   And yet, my first deadline came and went with no post from me.... WHAT???  How could I do that, how could I let down these awesome bloggers who offered to let me be a part of this awesome series.  Well, I tried to meet that deadline.  I had a vision in my head of what I wanted, I had fabric on hand to create that vision. I cut it out, I sewed it up, I tried it on.... I almost cried!  It was a potato sack - worse than a potato sack - it was AWFUL!!!  I quickly sent off an e-mail to the sisters explaining my predicament and offering to do a post on a camera strap cover (ummm, can we say slightly boring).  They graciously offered me a later date if I wanted to try again.  I didn't really want to try again.  I mean my first attempt was a POTATO SACK!!!!  That does not exactly help ones' self esteem ;op
So,  I decide to pull on my big girl panties and give it one more try - I mean seriously you can't stop with defeat!
I scrapped my original idea - maybe that style is just all wrong for my 'MAMA' body.  I don't feel like I can really say' post pregnancy' body over a year after giving birth ;op  I searched though my pinterest boards and fell on a top I've had pinned forever.  The Ariadne Top by Tanit-Isis is not only a stylish top with forgiveness for my less than apparent abs, but it is also FREE!!!!  I then decided that rather than upcycling or trying to make something from my stash work, I was going to go BUY fabric - wait, stop, hold the presses!!!  I think this is the first time I've bought fabric for ME in over a decade, maybe not that long, but has to be over 5 years.  I went to Joanns with a coupon in hand and came up with ZILTCH, nothing, nada... anything I liked was $12-14 a yard or much much more, and that was too much sticker shock for this girl (especially when I would rather spend that money supporting small businesses that have better options at a lower cost!).  But, I had waited too long to order anything.  I decided to pop in a Walmart and just see if they had anything I was interested in.  20 minutes later, I walked out with over 15 yards of fabric for $25.  It is a gamble, but it was fun ;o)

So with my $1.50 a yard fabric from wally-world, I created this little gem.  I will be making plenty more.  I did shorten the neckline binding significantly in order to raise it up - this had the unforeseen effect of narrowing the chest/shoulders a bit more than I would have planned.  Next time I will just cut the neckline higher to avoid that problem.  I also made the key hole about an inch shorter (up from the bottom) I didn't want any chance of my bra showing in the back.  I love the keyhole though - it was what drew me to the pattern in the first place.

All in all I am so happy with this top.  I will be wearing it on date night with my hubby this week, and even he was impressed with the look of the top ;o)

The obligatory looking down shot ;op

Thanks for having me today - and remember to make time for you, and don't give up when life throws you a potato sack!  Hugs, Suzanne
May 23, 2013

Business Card Holder: KC Coake {Make for Mom Series 2013}

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I recently went to a blog conference and got myself all official by having business cards made. I couldn't just go with a boring or plain business card holder. I wanted something cute and pink. I decided to make my own business card holder.  
Business Card Holder
What do you think? I love how it turned out. I found a free pattern and have some tips for you on making your business card holder. 
May 22, 2013

Customizing a Tote: Fishsticks Designs {Make for Mom Series 2013}

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Hi, everyone! This is Bonnie from Fishsticks Designs. I have really enjoyed following along with this Make for Mom series so far, and I'm thrilled to join in the fun today!

My husband and I packed up our youngest four children several weeks ago and headed out on a two and half week whirlwind trip that took us to West Virginia, Tennessee, Washington DC and Virginia. With so many stops, I knew I needed to keep myself organized. I had a long list of projects to get done before we left, though, and I think I might have actually skipped sewing this bag for me if I hadn't known that I had this blog post coming up! Moms really have a tendency to do that, don't we?

I knew just what I wanted from this bag, so I designed it exactly to my own specifications. It's sort of huge at 16" wide by 17" tall by 4" deep, but it holds everything that I need it to hold, and it looks pretty doing it!

 I added decorative pockets to the front and a zippered pocket on the back.

But, what I really want to show you is the inside of the bag.

Without inside organization, the size of this bag would make everything disappear. Adding pockets and loops to the inside of any bag, though, is really simple. Once you know how to do it, you can grab your favorite tote bag pattern and customize it perfectly for you! You'll want to have your inner bag pieces cut and any interfacing added before starting on these little extras. Have a quilting ruler and a washable or disappearing marker handy. If you'll be making custom-sized pockets for anything (cell phone, notebook, etc.) then have those ready to be measured, too. I'm using a 1/2" seam allowance on everything and assuming a 1/2" seam allowance on your bag pattern.
Let's start with the loops. These little loops are really the most basic thing you can add to a bag, but you'll be so surprised at what a difference they make! With a bag this big, you simply must have a way to clip in your keys or anything else that you need to be able to access quickly. With a loop or two sewn into the side seams and a carabiner clip, you're good to go!


Fold your loop piece over to form a loop, matching up the raw edges. Pin in place as shown and baste it to one side of your unfinished bag inner.

Now, let's move on to the pockets. I designed this smaller pocket to hold a pen, a pencil and my little notebook.

To make your own custom-sized pocket you have to do a little math, but it's really simple, I promise! For pens or pencils, a 1" wide pocket is perfect. I usually make credit card or loyalty card pockets 3 1/2" wide. (That width works for my I-phone, too.) If you have something specific, like my notebook, measure it across and add 1" for your pocket width. My notebook is 5 1/2" wide, so its pocket needs to be 6 1/2" wide. With me so far? The height of your pocket should at least 3/4 of the height of the things you're putting in it. That will keep them tucked nicely in place. For a standard pen/pencil/card pocket, I usually go with 4 1/2" finished height. My notebook is taller, though, so I made this pocket with a finished height of 5 1/2". Now you should have all your measurements. Here are your formulas: pocket width + pocket width + pocket width + 1" seam allowance + 1/4" topstitching allowance = fabric width and pocket height x two + 1" = fabric height. Just keep in mind that you are limited by the width and height of your bag. Pretty easy, right?
Here are my formulas: 

I'm going to cut my pocket fabric 9 3/4" wide by 12" high (or long, I guess). Your pocket width and height may be different, though, based on what you're putting in it. (If you want to cheat a little, for two pen/pencil pockets and two card pockets, I generally go with 10" x 10".) Now that you've survived that math, sewing the pocket is super simple. Just fold your pocket piece in half with right sides facing and match up the edges that measure the width of your pocket. (In my case, I'm matching up the 9 3/4" edges.) Stitch along sides and bottom, leaving a 1 ½" opening in one side for turning.

Trim your corners and turn your pocket through the opening. Press it really well. Center your pocket with the folded edge facing the top of the bag on one of your inner bag pieces. You can place it at whatever height you'd like, but I usually go with about 3 ½" to 4" from the top edge. Topstitch around the sides and bottom 1/8" from the edge. Once your pocket is sewn onto your bag panel, just use a quilting ruler to measure your pocket widths, then draw lines with your disappearing marker. Stitch down each line, remove the marker and your pockets are done! (A little tip here: stitch from the bottom up to avoid any puckers!)

Whew! That wasn't too hard, right? Ready for one more set of pockets for the other side of your bag?

 For this set of pockets, you'll cut your fabric width the same as the width of your bag. You'll use the same formula that we used above for your fabric height. Since I wasn't exactly sure of what I'd be putting in these pockets but I wanted them to be pretty roomy, I went with 9" for my finished height. The width of my bag inner piece was 21", so I cut my pocket piece 21" wide by 19" (9x2+1) high. To sew this pocket, you'll only need to stitch across the bottom edge because the sides will be tucked inside your bag's seam allowance. Fold your fabric over with right sides together, the same way you did with the smaller pocket and stitch across the bottom edge.
Turn your pocket through one of the short ends and press it well. You can see in the photo above that I tucked another little pocket inside this big pocket. That's a designated spot for my cell phone. To determine the size of this pocket, simply follow those instructions for the small pocket above. Once you've sewn your cell phone pocket, turned and pressed it, you'll simply topstitch it to the inside of one of your large pockets. Let's decide on the width of your large pockets first. These pockets can be as wide as narrow as you want them. For mine, I just divided the width of my fabric into thirds. Since my fabric was 21", that made each pocket about 7" wide. Using this measurement to be sure my cell phone pocket didn't end up chopped in half between two pockets, I marked a spot and topstitched my cell phone pocket inside what would become one of the pockets closest to the edge of my bag.

Now you're ready to sew your large pockets to your bag. Position your pocket piece on your bag inner piece. The positioning with change depending on how tall your bag is, but I placed mine with the top edge 5 1/2" below the top of the bag. Topstitch the bottom edge at 1/8". Use a quilting ruler to measure your pocket widths, then draw lines with your disappearing marker. Stitch down each line, remove the marker and these pockets are done, too!

Now all that's left is to finish your bag according to your pattern instructions. Then fill it up and go!


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