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July 31, 2014

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

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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?
July 23, 2014

Hiking Pine Mountain: Insights on the mountains of life

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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,
-Jo
July 22, 2014

Dear Boston

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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.
July 21, 2014

Betty Skirt Coloring Page/Paperdoll {Free printable}

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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.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6htjNanvhFrajhhWmxSWW9rM0k/edit?usp=sharing

July 18, 2014

itty bitty betty skirt pattern {Free Pattern}

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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. 


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