Sewing our Sanity

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tutorial: Daddy's t-shirt to Baby's romper

Dear Monica,

Sam had a Curious George t-shirt that he used to wear quite often.

Then it got a hole in the arm seam and landed in my repair pile.  A quick and easy fix but some how I never got around to it and it got pushed to the bottom of the pile and forgotten.  I was tidying up me sewing shelves and found it and knew it would be perfect for a project I had seen on Pinterest.

Heather from Feather's Flights up-cycled some t-shirts into shortalls.  They are super cute and she has a free pattern.  I wanted to do something similar for Mikey, but with a few changes.  I could have used her pattern but opted to make my own and made Mikey this super cute romper.

First, let's cut the pieces.  

1.  Using one of Mikey's rompers (one of my favorite for fit and cuteness...and one that has been worn by all the boys) I laid it on the front of the t-shirt placing it just where I wanted the Curious George graphic to be.  Then I cut around the edges giving myself about a 1/2" seam allowance.  I chose to use the t-shirts existing neckline but you don't have to do that.

2.  The back is two pieces, so I laid the existing romper on the folded back of the fabric and cut both pieces at the same time.

3.  I wanted this to be short sleeved, instead of long sleeved like the brown romper so I used another shirt to get the right length and cut two sleeves using the existing hem of the t-shirt's sleeves.

4.  Then I cut this funny "U" shaped piece that reinforces the crotch. I also cut two straight pieces the length of the back pant leg from hem to crotch.  These will reinforce the back crotch.

5.  And two pieces for the hood.  I think hoods are so cute on kid's clothes.

Now that all the pieces are cut, let's start the fun.  Sewing!!

6.  I started with the hood.  I sewed the back curved edge and serged the finished seam (not necessary but gives it a finished look). Then I serged the front and folded the edge over and stitched it in place.  

7.  Next, sew the back seam.  Marked with a white line. And serge the edges.

8.  With right sides facing, sew the front and back together at shoulder seams. Serge the seams. 

9.  Sew the hood on, lining the seams up. Serge the seams.

I top stitched close the edge to make the seam allowance lay flat.

10.  With right sides together, pin the middle of the sleeve to the shoulder seams.  Pin the sleeve in place and sew.  Finish edges.  

11.  Right sides together, sew the bottom arm and side seams.  Finish edges.  

12.  Pin the "U" shaped piece, right sides together to the front crotch area.  Sew seam, turn to back, and press with an iron.  Sew the piece in place.

13.  Sew the two straight pieces right sides together.  Match the seam with the back crotch seam and sew in place.  Turn it to the back and press with and iron.  Sew in place.  

14.  Add snaps or buttons to the legs and done!  

Cutie Pie!  



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Burlap embroidered pictures

Dear Emily,

When I wrote the other day about the peanut butter "s'mores," I meant to add that saltines can be substituted for Ritz crackers. You are right, it is the combination of the sweet and salty that makes them extra tasty.

I promised I'd write you about some projects I did last week with the kids so I am sending one today. Not long ago I pinned this idea on one of my Pinterest boards.

It is a coffee table with the top removed so that what is left is a frame on legs. Burlap is stapled on the frame and it becomes a giant sewing hoop. Genius! While it would be neat to have one of these, I definitely don't have the room. Seeing this sparked an idea for a smaller version.

I had a couple of unfinished Ikea frames and some burlap on hand. I bought a $5 package of embroidery floss in a bunch of colors. While I do have lots of DMC floss in several boxes, they are neatly arranged in numerical order and I did not want the kids rummaging through the boxes. I wanted them to choose and cut their own colors (and I wanted them to work somewhat independently). So, the list of supplies is...floss or yarn, burlap - any color will do, an empty picture frame - any size, and plastic needles.

I stapled a piece of burlap to the inside of the back of each frame. The kids each came up with an idea for their image. I showed them how to stitch and off they went. Anthony mastered threading a needle and starting and ending a thread. Caroline needed help with that but she did a fantastic job with her sewing.

Caroline has been drawing cars lately for Gabe so that was her subject. She did great for an almost 5 year old. She was patient and stuck with it until she was finished.

Anthony's is an eagle for his new bedroom. The new bedroom that is still in progress. I love the way he made his stitches on the body and the wings.

I am going to need to get more cheap frames. I see handmade Christmas presents in the future.




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peanut butter "S'mores"

Dear Emily,

I love, love, love the kids paintings! What a terrific idea! The possibilities are endless!

We had a fun last-weekend-before school starts...bowling, camping out in the backyard, a sewing craft for the kids, and bows and arrows. Those last last two I'll share with you later this week. And yes, I did say camping out. Anthony got a tent from Grandma and Grandpa for his birthday and we finally had a chance to sleep in it. I started out with all three kids in the tent at 8. Within 5 minutes Caroline wanted to go in the house. By 9:30 I called Paul to come get Gabe because he would not go to sleep. Anthony then thought he saw lightening and wanted to go in. Why didn't I say the heck with it and go inside? Because I like sleeping on a too small mattress in a tent in the backyard? No. I didn't want him to give up and regret it and want to try again the next night.

Before we headed out to the tent, Caroline requested s'mores. We did not have chocolate bars but we did have three ingredients that make a marshmallow snack that is better, I think, than traditional s'mores. And not so sickening sweet. All you need is peanut butter, Ritz crackers, and marshmallows. And a toaster oven.

First, place desired number of crackers on a cookie sheet.

Spread peanut butter on the crackers.

Then top with a marshmallow.
These marshmallows look odd. They are the new stacker ones by Kraft. Not necessary, any marshmallow will do, I just happened to have these. Mini marshmallows are fine but if I use the regular size, I cut them in half since so the are easier to eat.

Toast but be sure to keep an eye on the, because once they start to brown they get dark fast. Cool a little before eating.

Remember our mom often made these on snow days, sometimes right after we came inside from playing in the snow. They make a great rainy day treat, too. Caroline requested them for a snack on Sunday, a rainy and dreary day.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Painting with the kids

Dear Monica,

This past week I have been busy painting my china hutch and every day some small person asked if they could help paint.  They love to paint and to help but this is just one of those projects that I had to do myself.  So on one of the MANY rainy days we had last week I decided to give into their need to paint and do a project.

I had purchased some canvases from Michael's a while ago, planning to use them for a different project that just didn't work out.  So I pulled them out of the craft closet and had each of the kids pick an animal from the Silhouette.  Liam chose an alligator, Jack a lion, and Natalie a hippo.  I cut each of their animals out on card stock and trimmed the edges to fit the canvas to make a stencil.  I taped the edges and under any pieces that were sticking up.

Then had them each choose 4 colors of paint and I cut a sponge into four pieces, one for each color.

I showed them how to use the sponge to pounce the paint onto the canvas. They all had tendency to want to use the sponges like brushes, but I wanted them to do something new and different.

Liam was very methodical and had a picture in his head of how he wanted his alligator to look.

Jack started off by color blocking his.

And Natalie had to be encouraged to use all of her colors, not just the pink.

The finished pictures turned out AMAZING!!  The kids had a great time and were really happy with their finished pieces.  

Natalie's pink and purple hippo.

Jack's lion. By the time he was done all his colors had blended but you can still see some of the color blocking under the top layer.

Liam's alligator reminds me so much of something out of an Eric Carle book.

After they were dried I added eyes to everyone's with a sharpie and had Jack and Liam sign their names on the back.  Then I hung them proudly on our playroom wall.  

They are so excited to have their art work displayed in the house and proudly showed them to our dinner guests the next evening.  



Thursday, August 23, 2012

To chalk paint or not...that is the question

Dear Emily,

Since writing about Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint [ASCP] and my kitchen cabinet, I have had lots of questions about the paint. Our cousin Carole sent me some questions the other day..

Dear Monica,

Ever since I saw your chalk paint post, I've been dreaming of all the places I could use it in my house. When I looked at the ASCP web site, Lynchburg was the closest retailer, so I sort of put those dreams on hold until I could make a trip there and see it in action. I did get a page of hand-painted chips from the Lynchburg retailer. None of colors are ideal for what I envisioned, but I was resigned to using whatever would come closest to my mental images of finished projects.

Then yesterday I looked again for a retailer, and found one much closer, in Covesville. I contacted them, and about fell out of my chair at the price. So I started looking for make-your-own chalk paint ideas.

I think I'm going to try it with some unfinished furniture I bought at that place in Madison on the way to the farm. Ethan and Blake each have had an unfinished dresser for about a year - bad Mommy! We even had some purple paint mixed at Lowe's, but I just never got around to the actual painting part - mostly because I didn't know how much or what type of prep work was involved (and was afraid to find out). Chalk paint seems to have solved that problem for me, so now I can't wait for school to start so I have uninterrupted painting time!
My current conundrum is whether to make the chalk paint using plaster of paris or unsanded grout. I'll probably try a batch of each. And I'm curious to know whether my paint color will be muted once it's mixed. I figure I'll test this out with the boys' dressers and then decide about doing my kitchen cabinets. My kitchen has too much wood - there's the original hardwood in the dining area, newer laminate wood in the actual kitchen, and all the cabinets are the original 1950s stained pine. I thought about painting the lower cabinets black, but Megan suggested espresso instead, or matching the darkest knotholes. I can't wait to mix a custom color and get at least the bottom cabinets painted dark, to break up all that mediocre brown!
Have you ever made your own chalk paint? Any suggestions?!


For anyone who has done any furniture repainting, even a little, Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint [ASCP] is a miracle paint. Yes, the price of ASCP can make one fall out of one's chair. But, there are several other factors to consider...the time you save stripping and/or priming. The drying time is shorter. Not having to buy a separate primer. Little odor so it is easy to use inside. On a drop cloth, of course. All that being said, it is not the end-all-be-all to furniture paint. It is a wonderful choice for a piece that would look good distressed, or "shabby chic." It can completely change the look of an outdated piece. It all depends on how much time you have to spend, or want to spend, painting something. When you have a bunch of little kids and are trying to squeeze painting in between naps, time is of the essence. it is pricey but sometimes there is no price on your time. And you save on needing to buy primer and paint.

As for making it, no, I haven't tried it but I am planning on it. With something small. I would go with plaster of Paris.

For unfinished furniture, I would probably go with a latex-primer-all in one, like Behr's Plus Ultra paint at Home Depot. Probably in a semigloss, especially for a kid's room. The color choices are endless and the price is about the same, maybe a couple of dollars cheaper, for a gallon as the price for a quart of ASCP. I have used the Behr over furniture that I have stripped or just sanded and have been pleased. I did leave the furniture out in the garage to cure for at least a week before bringing it inside.

As for the kitchen cabinets. My first thought is ugh! Seriously, though, it is a daunting task. Lets say you need 4 quarts of ASCP to do the top cabinets. if you used another kind of paint, you would need a primer as well as the paint for the color of your choice. Really good primer is close to $60 for a gallon. And the value of your time should be considered, too.I saw these yellow kitchen cabinets the other day...what do you think?



In ASCP's yellow?

I have had more than a few people ask questions about ASCP. And I have sung its praises. I found a great post by Jami of Freckled Laundry that answers many of those questions. Including one I have about painting on top of chalk paint with latex. (yes, a project in the works for the boys room. I'll fill you in on that later...)



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Project Run and Play

Dear Emily,

I was going to write more about painting furniture but I am too tired and have a headache. I took the kids to the zoo today with a friend and now have zero energy left. And I think a storm is coming, thus the headache. It's one of those. I am not responsible for any I corrected typos.

I stumbled on this post last night. I say stumbled because I can not, for the life of me, remember what I was doing a search for. Oh, wait, maybe it was somehow related to looking up the Project Run and Play sew along you mentioned when we talked on the phone yesterday. I am excited for the sew along and the ideas are slowly popping into my head for each week's theme.


Back to the first post I mentioned from Make it and Love it. I love the shirt and can't wait to try it. I happen to have a lightweight knit that will be perfect. Having knit fabric is often a problem. Joann's selection of knits isn't all that great. Solids, they have plenty, prints, not so much. Unless you are looking for something for a baby.

Make it and Love it

So, I have a bunch of things to do, finish slipcovering an ottoman, slipcover a chair, finish a dress for Caroline, and the list goes on. And on. I think sometimes I ought to make a list but that would be just too depressing. And I haven't forgotten that I was going to make Liam a marble game for his birthday. That was in February. This is all just making my headache worse. I am going to sign off, read and go to bed.




Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Painting Furniture

Dear Emily,

Seems like several people I know are stuck with what kind of paint to use for repainting furniture. Or what color, or in your case, how to incorporate two colors. I love your china cabinet - it has so much potential.

I can see why you are stuck. I know you want to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Duck Egg Blue and Old White as an accent. And that you don't want it to be distressed. I scoured the internet for ideas.

Finding Silver Pennies
Hartwood Roses
Restore Interiors
(I love the frame in the photo above, too. Might just have to make one, too.)

I suggest you do some colored sketches first. I know you want the Duck Egg to be the primary color. Maybe accent the bamboo trim on the doors, the inner most trim on the lower doors and hardware in the Old White. At first I thought to just paint the hardware the blue, but the more I think about it, the more I think you should paint it in Old White to contrast with the blue. It would give the cabinet a great Wedgewood look. ASCP needs to be waxed with clear wax and a dark wax can be added to give an antiqued look. If you go for the Wedgewood look, I suggest you use just the clear and skip the dark. But then again, the piece in the first picture has dark wax on it. I can't wait to see the final results!

Tomorrow, more furniture painting ideas...making your own chalk paint, painting unfinished furniture, painting kitchen cabinets.


Sailor pants

Dear Monica,

A while ago I posted about this outfit I made for Natalie.

But I wanted to show you the pants.  They are my favorite thing I have made in a long time and she wears them a lot.  And they are super cute.

I used a pattern I had for a pair of pants that have an elastic waste.  I made them in a capri length and then I did something very special with the waste band.  Instead of a full elastic I only added elastic in the back.  I folded the front of the waste band over to make two 1in pleats about 2.5in from the front seam.  Then I made 4 fake button holes (2 on each side) and sewed buttons on top.  This gave them the appearance of having a button flap on the front without all the work of buttoning them up.  

I love the look and the comfort of these pants so much I will just have to make her a pair for winter.  Maybe in a denim or a corduroy.