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June 25, 2014


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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.
June 24, 2014

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

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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
June 20, 2014

The Orpha Romper: Pattern Mashup

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Today we are happy to be joining in the fun of Romper Week with Sewing Mama RaeAnna (details of prizes at the end of the post).

Warm summer days bring flashbacks of my childhood mixed with pulling weeds and cream soda. Mom taught us to serve those near us for almost nothing and to be there for family. I was pushed the hardest to be my best when serving my Aunt Orpha. I remember her home was always warm and she had a clock that every hour a different bird would sing. I would sit on her soft white carpet staring at paintings for what seemed like hours as she shared stories from the past.

She was sure she wasn't going to be around for long so she never invested in a hearing aid. It seemed I never talked loud or slow enough for her to hear me clearly, but that never stopped the stories. Quite frequently Mom would drop us off and Aunt Orpha would put us to work on her beautiful flowers outside. When the weeding was done Aunt Orpha always rewarded us with a can of cold Cream Soda straight from the fridge. After the sweat and heat, nothing could have ever tasted better.

There was something beautiful about Aunt Orpha that makes me smile just thinking about her. Although she was sure she wouldn't live to be that old, she was resilient, faithful, creative, opinionated, occasionally ornery, and kind.

Something about making this romper brought back memories of all the elder ladies we served in our town. I'm not sure if it's the color scheme or the feeling of youth and summer that it brings when I see Ty in it, but it makes me look forward to a summer full of cream soda and teaching Ty to serve those around us that are less able.

We've already begun to teach the process of patience a little by trying to grow our own little wild flower garden out in front of our apartment. We don't get much sunlight (maybe a few hours) so all the little baby plants that are popping up feel like a miracle. Each day we water and are amazed by the transformation. By the time Ty's new sibling comes, we are expecting flowers.

Serving those in need is a lot like loving these baby plants and seeds. They need help little by little, and one big effort is not going to cut it. Some people don't actually need work done, just someone to visit with and young children to be around.

Enough with the stories, here's the details about the romper.
Sorry, I got a little caught up in my though process. But if you really just want to know how to duplicate the look, I used Elegance & Elephant's Bubble Pocket Shorts Pattern on bottom and Violet Field Thread's Josephine Blouse Pattern on top. The Bubble Pocket Shorts were such a quick sew and I think I will need to make a pile of them. I love the fit on them as well. The Josephine Blouse has such nice instructions to give a really professional finish. Since it had pin tucking and a ruffle tab, I wouldn't consider it a quick sew, but now that I've done it, I could easily get through it much faster in the future.

The pockets were only cut the width of the 12M size and I used the 12M amount of elastic there as well (for a slimmer fit). The tie at the waist was made from the Josephine pattern and I used scraps to make the belt loops (placing them on the seams of the bubble shorts). I ended up taking in the blouse part of the romper along the side seams for a better fit.

Since my machine always boycotts button holes, I decided to save time and seam ripping multiple times by using KAM snaps. I originally got the KAM snaps for the baby suite tour this week (and to make bodysuits for my baby) and I was amazed at their ease of application and versatility. Just in the last week I have used them for the bodysuit, Ty's romper, and a satin bolero for friend's little girl. I know also from experience that they are really tough to break. I was in a hurry and put one of the snaps on backward on the bolero. It took a good twenty minutes of trying to get it off before I was successful and at that point it was multiple attempts with my teeth eventually breaking the plastic on the front of the snap that allowed me to get it off.

I hope you loved this look as much as I did.

If you haven't entered the drawing or the link-up party yet you should because there are some great prizes.

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Link-up code:
June 19, 2014

Our Promise to You: Pattern Reviews, Pattern Tests, Blog Tours & Affiliate Links

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We have meant to talk to you ladies (and gents?) about Pattern Reviews, Pattern Tests, Blog Tours & Affiliate Links for sometime, but have always been preoccupied by sewing projects or family life. But with the number we have done lately it seemed like the right time for us to write about it and make some promises to you. And explain why you have never seen a scathing review of any pattern. This post will explain why; along with information as far as our processes for reviews, tests, blog tours & affiliate links. 
We are throwing in a few random pictures because a blog post is LAME without something pretty to look at. They are all my own pictures that I took before I became a sewing blogger.

Pattern Reviews
We are currently working with a few designers to review their pattern. These reviews are not part of a blog tour, a pattern test or have affiliate links. We loved the design and it is something we were already looking into purchasing. We ask them if we could review their pattern and our only compensation be a complimentary pattern. We will disclose these specifically when the review is published.

We promise to maintain honesty and will illustrate or describe any changes we made to make it work for us.

Pattern Tests
When we first started testing a year ago, we decided as sisters that we would only share those tests where we felt like they went well. A lot can go wrong in the testing process and we knew it was not fair to the designers to give an unfair evaluation & illustration of their work. Now sometimes it is our fault (with fabrics that we chose or just plain missing steps) & other times it is theirs (sizing issues that need to be adjusted or techniques that weren't up to par). We work with the designers to get these fixed. At times we don't feel like the issues have been addressed and for that we won't post about it.  When it is our fault we don't share because we feel like our mistakes might keep someone from buying the pattern. We really only want to showcase the best of ours, paired with the best of theirs.

Blog Tours
We are coming up on our 1 year mark for our first blog tour. With most blog tours the designer provides the pattern free of charge post testing for review. We have been very lucky in the blog tours we have been invited to because almost all of them were patterns we would have purchased anyway. It has been nice to be able to save a few dollars by being part of the tour. That said there have been Blog Tours that we have declined because it didn't work for for us (not a need, a design that didn't work for us, or just bad timing).

Often times in Blog Tours we do make adaptions to personalize the pattern to our needs. We will describe these changes in our posts so that if you are wanting to replicate the results you will know how to. Often times you will see small suggestions that we would have in making the pattern easier for yourself. Often times this is just a simple change in step from how the designer put it together. This does not mean that the designer has done anything wrong, just we have found a different way to skin a cat so to speak.

We have also dropped out of tours because we didn't have much positive to say about pattern. When this has happened, it has been in private conversation with the designer to tell them why we can not represent their pattern. We feel like this gives them an opportunity to make their pattern better but without the public discussion that might sink their business.

Affiliate Links
We participate in several affiliate programs, with these we make a small percentage (ranging from 10% to 30% depending on the designers specifications) of the sale. Which usually we can make anywhere from a $1 a pattern to $2. If they are doing a sale then our commission amount will decrease because the total price of the pattern is down. Not all designers have these or have the ability to have these depending on how their shopping cart is set up. We give equal priority to all patterns with or without an affiliate program.

As sisters we have decided that some pattern companies that we will only participate on a pattern by pattern basis. This is either because we have not sewn a majority of their patterns to know if we can stand by them or we have loved some and disliked other of their patterns. Either way we don't want you to waste your money on a pattern that you won't love.
For a very select few pattern designers we have chosen to affiliate with all of their patterns. This is not because they have the highest paying commissions, it is because we have worked with these ladies enough to know their standards are of the highest level and that our design tastes are complimentary to theirs. This position is not bought, it is earned by these ladies dedication to their craft.

Our Promise To You
When we first started sewing/blogging for our kids we owned very few PDF patterns. My husband and I were selling plasma twice a week to be able to buy toilet paper & pay car insurance. I am sad to think how much I fabric=money I wasted in sewing by not using patterns. Not even to mention the days that were spent trying to get it right. Sewing from PDF designers that I trust has helped me waist less fabric and time.

We are just like you. There are weeks where we are anxiously waiting around for payday so we can buy groceries. We get that your money and resources are limited; we would never want to waste your precious money on a pattern and materials for a pattern that we believed not to be up to snuff.

Even though our blog has been around for a while we have yet to make enough money or pattern compensation in one single month to balance out the amount we spend in fabric (this is with no accounting for amount of time). Even if we receive an $10 pattern for free, most of the time we have at least that in supplies. When we do a project we usually have a minimum of 3 hours in sewing/cutting time, 1 hour in photography time, 1 hour in photo editing & 1-3 hours into writing a post. So for our "free pattern" $10 pattern we are paid at the most $1.66/hr. Once we account for fabric, we are left in the hole. Simply we are still here nearly 2 years later because we love sewing, not because we are living high on the hog.

We know from our own experience and the experience shared to us by our designer friends that when a pattern designer sits down to write a pattern then they are spending their precious time trying their best. They spend weeks in designing, writing & testing these patterns until they get them ready for release. We try to honor this time spent by the designers who allow us to work with them by giving our best efforts to show the potential of their pattern.

For this reason I would never want to publicly defame their name or their design. We feel like if we were to drag a designers name through the mud it would be in direct opposition to our mission statement.

It has been a delicate balance for us to come to, through some kind of tough personal experiences. We hope you will continue to respect & trust our opinions. This course is what feels most right and honest to us.  Thank you for your readership & most of all your friendships. We are so grateful for the positive influence you are in our lives.

With Love,
Al, Jo & Scary
June 18, 2014

See You Later Alligator: 'Gator Quilt Pattern designed by I'm Feelin' Crafty {Pattern Review}

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Today I have the privilege of sharing one of my favorite projects EVER! This was made for my sweet little 2 year old boy. Sadly I don't sew for him quite as often as I probably should, but this time I more than made up for the time I've invested in sewing beautiful things for Ty. 

Snapshot of the insanity and the love a mother can have for her sweet boy (did you notice the growing baby bump).
Louise at I'm Feelin' Crafty created this incredible design of the 'Gator Quilt (purchase pattern here) and I was lucky enough to get to pattern test. The alligators are made using a method called paper piecing (which is such a cool process). Paper piecing makes for really exact blocks since you sew your fabric right onto the paper. 

I've had never paper pieced before, but I've spent many hours watching youtube videos and pouring my attention into books so this was an extra special experience. There aren't instructions for paper piecing, but if even me as a beginner can make it work, I'm sure you could too. 

The great thing is that if the big quilt seems too daunting, you can always choose one of the individual alligators to work on. Using that alligator block you could always build a quilt around that one alligator or you could make a cute pillow. 

There were diagrams throughout the pattern so you knew how pieces were supposed to be arranged. After I printed off the patterns, I cut them out and put them in a ziplock bag according to the size of alligator (large, medium, and small). Once I was done cutting out, I used the diagram and went through with a colored pencil and did an outline on every little piece so that as I was working I wouldn't have to constantly refer to the diagram. This worked really well for me considering how many pieces there are. 

 I was so nervous that since I was a beginner, I would be dumb about my consumption of fabric, but Louise wrote the pattern so that you won't be tight on your supply. After I had put the top of the quilt together, I was able to use some of the extra aqua to do the binding on the quilt. There is still enough between all of the fabrics to make a striped pillowcase (I cut about 3x as much fabric as I needed for the binding).

Since the quilt is only 54 wide I was able to get the backing fabric from IKEA and not have to piece it (that meant I only needed 2 yards). I used the stripes on the back as a guide to quilting the whole thing together.

I basically kept to the exact architectural design of the quilt, except that I moved the small alligator on top from the left side to the right side. This made for better use of the white space to add the words "See you later alligator, in a while crocodile." I mapped out the exact pattern blocks dimensions and locations in my silhouette program, and then I got to work designing and moving the fonts around until I got my desired look. The design was cut onto freezer paper and once that was done, I could iron it on and fabric paint. 

Instead of using a paint brush, I used the rag method to apply my paint so that it wouldn't go on too thick and my paper wouldn't shift. This made for even application of paint and actually a pretty quick dry. So that I could get it all done fairly quickly, I sped up the drying process by using my blow dryer (it seems like that's about all I ever use it for). The worst part of the whole thing was heat setting the paint. It felt monotonous after all the other exciting things I'd done on it.

I've learned so much and tried so many new things through blogging, and I'm grateful for blogging so that I have deadlines to actually get things done and I don't just dream my way through unfinished projects and excess crafting supplies. After almost two years, I've gone through 2 bottles of textile medium (used to make fabric paint) and one huge roll of freezer paper. If you like fun stuff like customizing looks through paint, the textile medium and freezer paper are well worth the investment (which is minimal in comparison to output).

June 11th- A Quilter's Table
June 13th- Marci Girl Designs
June 14th- I'm Feelin' Crafty- showing off other Testers work!
June 16th- Wombat Quilts
June 18th- Shaffer Sisters
June 19th- Crafty Shenanigans
June 20th- I'm Feelin' Crafty

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