Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Confessions and {Realistic} 2014 Resolutions

Every year we make resolutions. This year, I'm confessing first. Confession is good for the soul. 

  1. I've gained weight. Yep, I said it. I did great before the Disney trip and lost 15 and almost got back to goal... then trying juggle teaching with family and a WAHM business combined with lots of fall allergies and sickness and having the house for sale did me in. I'm up 27 pounds from goal weight. I'm ashamed of it. I SHOULD do better. 
  2. I've often fed my family junk. There, I said it. Yes, I reached into the freezer section for chicken strips and fries. We've run through too many drive-thrus. Maybe that's another contributing factor to number 1? 
  3. I let my kids watch way too much tv. Part of the problem is working from home (I know, that's not a good excuse, but it is what it is). It's easier to turn on the tv and get a few uninterrupted minutes. Between sewing and grading papers, I needed a lot of minutes. I know, easy is not always best. I'm confessing. 
  4. I let deadlines and events sneak up on me. Yes, I have them in my calendar, but I just can't seem to get a handle on a working schedule for us. I often forget until the day of that I've got something scheduled. I've spent many nights up late sewing to get an order out by my shipping deadline. I need to get a better handle on this. 
  5. I haven't taken care of me. By this point, it should be obvious, right? But when I actually take time to get my hair cut and styled and take a relaxing bath or read a book for pleasure, I feel SO much better. I should really do it more often. I often forget to do those things for myself because I'm so busy catering to everyone else. 
So those are my confessions for 2013. I feel like a slacker. I feel like I've failed. With that in mind, 2014 is going to be a fresh start. Let's start over. Here are my REALISTIC goals. I've made goals in the past that I haven't kept, so I'm going to keep this year realistic. I'm also actually writing them down... I have no clue what my resolutions were last year (probably to not gain any weight...). 

  1. I will get active. Yes, I want to lose the weight I've gained. However, I've decided to try and not focus on the number and instead focus on my activity. I'm going to start out with 3 workouts a week plus some running. I loved the 5K I did in August. I want to get back into running. So I WILL get active!
  2. I will freezer cook once a month. Okay, that sounds nothing like eating healthy, but it is. When I do freezer cook, I use fresh ingredients bought in bulk to fix 6-8 meals. Then on those days that I have a sewing deadline, my oldest has an orthodontist appointment after school, then we have a band concert in the evening, I'll have dinner covered! Maybe we'll eat out less and I'll reach for the chicken strips and fries less often! See, it works! 
  3. I will do more family activities. Let's get real, we're probably not going to watch less tv. We can do more family activities. More family cooking. More family hikes. More family games. More family crafts. My goal will be one planned thing a week. That seems realistic to me. Then when some other mom shows me pictures of the salt dough ornaments she and her daughter spent a whole afternoon decorating, I won't feel as if I've failed because we haven't done salt dough ornaments. 
  4. I will get organized! This is a whopper! I probably need to research time management. I need an app or something to keep me organized. I don't need to look up at the calendar and go "Oops, Jenna has a birthday in two weeks! CRAP!" Yeah. That happened this year... 
  5. I will take care of me. Maybe part of the reason I've been so sick since August stems from this confession. When I don't get enough sleep and eat junk and don't work out, I get sick. When I don't take time to pamper me, I don't feel like getting active or staying on schedule or fixing something healthy, or doing anything extra. 
So I guess this is the biggie. I think maybe, just maybe, all the other resolutions will fall into place if I just take care of me. Taking care of me allows me to better care for my family and my business. Moms everywhere should take time for themselves. Maybe we could all be better moms if we did!  

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Season of Giving (Juicing for the Holidays)

There's nothing worse than being sick in bed with the flu or a nasty sinus infection, especially when you have young children. Since August, it feels like we've had one bout of illness after another. It's been exhausting. So when my husband started coughing and losing his voice last week and my ears started aching from pressure, we decided we had to do something different this time. That meant hitting natural remedies hard before we needed antibiotics. 

We started dosing up with B6 and L-Tyrosine supplements. Then we doubled up on probiotics and started drinking Emergen-C. Then Chris got a brilliant idea to look up juicing recipes for sinus congestion. We really wanted to avoid another trip to the walk-in clinic and round of antibiotics this time, so I started Googling recipes. I found this at It was one of the top recipes for congestion (we're not fans of the V-8 flavored juice recipes). So Chris headed out and bought supplies... 

This recipe calls for these ingredients.

  • Apples - 2 medium (3" dia) 
  • Celery - 3 stalk, large (11"-12" long) 
  • Cucumber - 1 cucumber (8-1/4") 
  • Ginger - 1/2 thumb (1" dia) 
  • Lemon (with rind) - 1/2 fruit (2-3/8" dia) 
  • Lime (with rind) - 1 fruit (2" dia) 
  • Parsley - 1 bunch 
  • Spinach - 2 cup 

We chop them up into about 1-2 sized chunks. Then we run them through our juicer. 

According to, "parsley helps to inhibit the body's release of histamines, which explains its use by naturopathic healers for allergies and sinus congestion." Combine that with the ginger ("Being a warming herb, ginger can help knock out a fever. ... The warming effects make it a natural decongestant as well as an antihistamine, making it the perfect remedy for colds."), celery ("Celery roots, fruits (seeds), and aerial parts, are used as ethno medically to treat mild anxiety and agitation, loss of appetite, fatigue & cough.") and lemon ("Lemon juice assists in curing respiratory problems, along with breathing problems and revives a person suffering from asthma.") for one awesome punch of healing power! 

But how does it taste? I won't lie, it's got a kick to it. That ginger and it's warming properties really add a bit of spicy flame to the drink. But it's not bad! Trust me, I've tried far worse pharmaceutical medicines! Here's my glass of goodness I drank. 

We've done a glass a day for 3 days and feel much better! My congestion is nearly gone. My ears no longer ache with pressure. My husband's cough was greatly reduced and his voice has returned. We've both had more energy that allowed for us to actually take care of our kids while we recovered! I'm calling this one a miracle cure this holiday season! Christmas Eve is tomorrow. We were worried we would have to stay home and cancel all family outings this Christmas, but I think we'll be plenty well enough to head out of town tomorrow! THAT is a Christmas miracle! Now cross your fingers none of us come down with the flu in the next 24hrs! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Calling all Knights! {Testing for Charming Doodle}

I was so lucky to see Elisa Clark's post announcing a Call for Testers last week. I saw the preview and was in awe! I knew immediately that my son would FLIP and love me to the moon and back if I made him that hoodie! (Okay, he loves me to the moon and back anyway... but I love making him happy!) Here was the pic from the Call for Testers on Charming Doodle's blog. (Keep reading... there's a coupon code buried in here...)

Imagine my surprise when I got the e-mail saying I was selected!!! I was THRILLED! Yay! My son wanted orange for his hoodie... then we settled on maybe a golden orange. I went to the store and found neon colors or team in stock... no orange or gold. So I grabbed the bright blue and went with it. I knew I had a stash of ribbed knit at home, so I decided to go with blue and grey. 


The construction took me several hours, but the end result is SO worth it! My son was so happy! He immediately declared it his favorite jacket and asked if he could wear it to school! 

The Knight Hoodie features two large front pockets to keep those hands warm! It's sized from 2T to 10 year but I heard a rumor that the designer is planning on sizing it up to adults!!! The zipper goes all the way and is very easy to attach! Do not let the zipper scare you away! 

The 'armor plating' is added throughout the construction. The pattern includes very good pics for the visual seamstress (like me!) and makes putting this jacket together very easy. 

The elbow and helmet armor plating really MAKE this look. It's unique and full of fun! Oh, and take a look at how it looks with the hood DOWN! Just unzip and the hood lays perfectly out of the way! I LOVE it! Be sure to go subscribe to her blog. She's got some great patterns planned for spring 2014! 

So if you're little Knight loves to dress the part, you will want to pick this pattern up from Charming Doodle! Use code DECEMBERKNIGHT at her store HERE  between now and Christmas to save $3 off the pattern! YAY!!! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and all those other greetings and salutations! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's ANNA! {New Pattern Release}

Once again, Megan of Made for Mermaids has out done herself! This time, she's tackled Disney's new movie, Frozen. The first of her Frozen patterns is Anna. I was LUCKY to get chosen to test this weekend! (Okay, I was little more than lucky, I was super excited and wanted to jump up and down when she said I was in! YAHOO!!!!!) A little birdy tells me Elsa is next on the list... Shh!!! Don't tell anyone!

One problem... I don't have an embroidery machine. IF you do, she gives you links to an awesome bodice design and the floral design for the skirt. She also provides some amazing templates if you want to paint your bodice. I suck at painting fabric. Really, it's bad. We're not even going to go there... I left my bodice blank. I still love it!

The dress has a zipper closure in the back. The bodice can be done in a variety of fabrics. I did mine in corduroy for the cooler weather we have right now. I trimmed my bodice in an iridescent ric rac for contrast, but many of the more true Anna dresses had gold trim.

The bodice is fully lined and directions for the zipper are very clear! If you've never done a zipper on a dress (writer raises her hand), don't let that stop you! I've done zippers on bags time and time again... but this was my first on a garment! (My second came the next day! But that's a post for later this week...)

The blouse underneath is a separate piece! This is great because you can use it for other outfits or change out multiple colors! The long sleeves are perfect for that winter theme! I love the elastic for easier dressing with little wriggly princesses.

I also made cotton velour leggings to keep her warm during this photo shoot... then you can barely see them in the pics! But it helped to keep her warm! I love the length of the dress! It's perfect for the Anna look!

So head on over to Made for Mermaids (on Facebook, Etsy, and Craftsy!) and grab your pattern! There's still time to get one of these sewn up and under the tree for your little Frozen fan! Hurry! Get $2 off if you buy before Monday! If you buy on Craftsy, use code ANNAFROZEN. If you buy from Etsy, the price is already adjusted! HURRY!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Candy Waltz Pattern Collection

Once again, Candy Castle Patterns got me all excited with her new patterns. Yes, that's right, patterns with an S!!!! This newest release is a 3 pack! It's ballet themed set with the names of the patterns all inspired by The Nutcracker play. The collection is The Candy Waltz Collection.

You're going to love these! I used chiffon (my first experience with this stuff) for my skirt. I should have practiced more and read up on it more. I ruined the first cut of fabric and had to re-cut... It's a good thing I buy more than I need! But you can make this skirt with voile, satin, silk, and even knit! I love that there is 2 styles of the waistband, using a separate knit or the doubled-over skirt fabric. This skirt is called the Sugar Plum Fairy Skirt and comes in sizes 3 months through 16yr PLUS Ladies (X)XS and SM/M!!!

The Candy Wrapper Vest is probably my favorite of the collection! This is a cropped sweater that wraps around the front and can tie in the back or around again and in the front. There are 3 options for the ties and you can use MANY types of fabric, including knit, stretch suede, faux fur, stretchy lace, or anything else you can dream up! This pattern includes the same children's sizes through 16yr but also adds ladies up to size large! I think I need one of these! I'm already planning a matching vest to go over Christmas dresses! This pattern is perfect for that!

Lastly is the Licorice Bits Legwarmers! Are these names fun or what!?!?! If you sew, you're going to LOVE these! They sew up so quickly!!! I did the regular version for Jenna. She loves them! She did not want to take them off! She spilled juice on the skirt but still wanted to wear the vest and legwarmers (she calls them warm leggers!) to big Sissy's concert band performance later that night! We got quite a few compliments are her ensemble! (And if you're wondering... the leggings she's wearing are LilyGiggle Petunia Petal Pants without the petals! I NEEDED black leggings and didn't have any!) Other options for the legwarmers include ruched and instructions for adding ribbon ties. I used regular polar fleece and then a lycra/cotton knit (for the bands) for mine. The legwarmers are perfect for babies! Think about those little legs this coming winter... you can't keep a blanket on the infant seat and those little legs just kick, kick, kick it off! Or if you're like me, you use a sling or wrap and their legs are usually out in most of the positions. These legwarmers are great for keeping those legs warm! These would be perfect stocking stuffers or quick gifts this holiday season! These have the same sizing as the Candy Wrapper Vest, so ladies get a size too!

Whether you buy the full collection or just one of the patterns, this one is sure to be a staple in your winter wardrobe! Head on over to Craftsy and check it out!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Rapunzel: The Everyday Princess Dress

Halloween is JUST around the corner... yes, despite all the Christmas stuff you see in stores,  we still have Halloween up first! My friend Megan, owner of Made for Mermaids, is coming out with her Everyday Princess Dress Collection. Minnie, Cinderella, and now Rapunzel are out in time for quick dresses before Halloween!

I had the pleasure of testing Rapunzel for my baby girl. She LOVES Rapunzel! Her bedding is Rapunzel! So I jumped when when I saw the testing call for this dress!

I attempted to sew it up late one night and totally screwed up the center bodice piece placement. I'm still scratching my head over why I thought it looked right before I serged and top stitched... but it was finished before I figured it out! So the bodice insert piece SHOULD be wider at the top and narrower at the bottom to give the illusion of a narrow waist, like the princess. ;)

I plan on making another dress, but I've got to finish up some orders first. It could be the 30th by the time I make her another dress...

This dress pattern prints out very easily! It went together easily and includes pattern pieces for several fabric flowers! The tutorial is full of pictures illustrating every step of the way! She even added extra wording to ensure that you won't make my mistake as easily as I did (meaning it's even more difficult to NOT recognize that you're putting a piece in upside down!).

The tutorial shows you exactly how to do those pretty little sleeve and bodice details. It also discusses elastic and how to judge what you're using and if you should make adjustments to the suggested lengths based on the type of elastic you're using.

Let's talk headbands... This one comes with tutorials for 2 types of flowers AND the measurements for headbands! SWEET! I add my flowers to a clip and add a loop to the headband so you can clip any hair bow to it.

This dress is constructed from 100% cotton fabrics so will last far longer than those store-bought costumes that are really only meant for a few hours of use on Halloween night before they fall apart. MY plan is to sew up all the Everyday Princess Dresses, add them to a trunk, and give it to her as a Christmas present. She LOVES to dress up! This way she can play dress up all year long and I don't have to continue replacing or repairing flimsy store-bought dresses!

So run over and grab the Rapunzel pattern before Tuesday while it's on sale for only $4!! Then favorite Made for Mermaids so you catch all her future Everyday Princess dresses as well! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Lacy Slope Hooded Shirt Pattern Add-on

I rarely get to sew for my oldest daughter. She's 14 and wears women's size XS/SM. When GreenStyle Creations started calling for testers for a hood and sleeve add-on to the Lacy Slope Tank, I jumped! This was exactly the style my oldest loves. She was very excited when I got selected to test!

This shirt can be sewn in many fabrics, but my daughter dove into my stash and came with this stripe from Riley Blake. Then I hit print on the pattern and started cutting out pieces. Everything but the cuff extensions is included in the printed pieces. There's a chart for the cuffs early in the pattern. These pieces went together very well. The hood can be constructed with a french seam or a regular seam. I chose a french seam. Confession: It was my first time! The directions are very easy to follow. This shirt was very quickly to assemble! I used a stretch stitch and my serger for everything except the top stitching. However, if using a knit with some spandex in it, you could construct this top without a serger! What a bonus for those without one (I didn't have one for years!).

Without further adieu...

Notice the wide neckline. My daughter LOVES that feature. The hood is very generous and works perfectly with her very thick hair. She even tried it on last night with a sock bun hair style and it still fit!

Now check out those thumb holes! My daughter LOVES her fingerless gloves but doesn't wear them until much later, like deep into winter! This style is perfect! Since the cuff is just two layers of knit, it's not too hot but still keeps palms warm for these cooler fall mornings when she's waiting to catch the bus. 

Check out that slope! This top, just like the tank since it is an add-on to the tank pattern, is higher in the front and lower in the back. Again, my daughter LOVES this feature! And yes, you can see her cami  peeking out underneath. She wears camis with everything. Everything. So that's why I made this just a little big. She could probably wear an XS in this pattern, but she wanted to layer it and she prefers looser fitting clothes. This pattern comes in 3 lengths. This is the shortest. 

So hood up or down, it's a cute top! I want one! Oh, and she had SO much fun with this photo shoot... she gives this top a thumbs up!

Now that you LOVE this top on my gorgeous little Morgan, go get yourself one! If you already have the tank pattern, grab the add-on to make this shirt. If you don't have the tank, this shirt is available by itself! Click HERE! There's no need to buy 2 patterns! YAY! 

The Lacy Slope Hooded T-Shirt is now Available on GreenStyle Creations's website. It's available in sizes XS through 3XL! The full pattern includes the Hooded T-Shirt and the original Tank Top. The Add-On Pack is just the Pattern pieces for the sleeve and hood and the instructions for the the T-Shirt. Get them now while they are on sale! HURRY! This just listed sale won't last long!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Re-purposing Feet

Let's talk about top stitching. It really helps finish off a garment and give it that professional look. If you're like me, you sweat over top stitching. You go really slow so you can keep everything lined up nicely. A few months ago, someone mentioned that they use an edge foot (or something like that, but that's what I remembered later when I was sewing) and it made things so much faster. So when I was working on top stitching later that week, I thought, "I bet something in that bag of feet that came with my machine is an edge foot!"

Did I LOOK at my book? Nope. I looked at my feet. The first one I picked up was my G foot. I have a Brother CS6000i machine. So this is the foot I found...

 I took one look at it and thought it would be perfect for staying next to that hem and top stitching... So I snapped it on and tried it out. This is now how I use it! I know, I know, I know... (Or more like I know NOW!) it's an overcasting foot! If I didn't have a serger, I might know that! But since I have a serger, I've never needed to know how to 'serge' the edges using my sewing machine. So this is how I use the G foot.
But sometimes, I need to top stitch fabrics that aren't always flat on both sides like the above piece. Ruffles are NOT flat. I was using my  foot for ruffles and it was going slower than it was when I was using my regular foot. The ruffles or gathers would bunch up and I would have to stop and straighten them out. So I went back to my little bag of sewing feet. Did I look at my book? Nope. I used my eyes. This is what I came up with.

This is the R Brother foot. It's a blind stitch foot. I can't find one on Amazon to link over here, but it came with my machine. Check your bag of goodies! Anyway, the blade sits in the ditch and keeps my nice ruffles from bunching up like it did on the end of that overcasting foot. This is what it looks like when I top stitch with gathers. This was the bodice of a full twirl top (Lazy Susan by Brownie Goose).
You can barely see the blade here, but it makes top stitching SO much faster and keeps my machine nicely in line. I like taking the stress out of my top stitching! I still sweat over it, but not nearly as much!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Candy Castle Princess Dress

I've been admiring Candy Castle Patterns for a while now. I love the looks with her Bubblegum Dress and Jelly Bean Skirt. So when I saw that she was looking for testers for her new PRINCESS dress, I jumped. Actually, I squealed with delight and then filled out the applicant form. I was extremely excited when I opened my e-mail and I was chosen as a tester. YIPPEE!!!

This dress has so many options. You could make it 4 different ways are still have a new look with each one. Sized 6 months through 10 years, this dress works for a long time! With the scalloped top skirt, you can easily replicate Sofia the First for Halloween! I decided to go with these holiday inspired fabrics instead...

The front bodice doesn't dip too low even for this little size 18mo princess. The back bodice mimics the front and has options for both button or snap closures.

The back has a large loose bow that tops off 2 layers of skirts. Now I was ahead of the game for once and my under skirt is longer than the finished pattern, but I think it looks great on this dress with a pettiskirt underneath.

The pattern comes with FOUR sleeve options!!! I chose elbow length for this dress. The other sleeve options include long, short puffed, and sleeveless.

The skirts also allow for multiple options. I chose to go all out with ruffles. You could use lace and do a hemmed under skirt with this pattern as well. I will be honest, there are a LOT of ruffles on even this size 18mo dress!

Here's the best part... $8! This pattern is now available for purchase! Go get it here.  

I very much enjoyed this pattern and would like to say a special thanks to Candy Castle Patterns for allowing me to test. I'd also like to send a special thanks to Amber Sycz Photography

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pressing Seams Eas{il}y

"Take the panels to the iron and press up a half-inch seam all along the bottom edge of both panels." HOW many times do you grown and grumble as you tote your ruler and project to the ironing board? When I use my ruler, I always end up with singed finger tips... but that's just me. No body else in the world ever has the same problem, right? But if you do, I've got a better way!

When I first made a pair of Easy Fit Pants, I was excited about the folding template that came with it! It made pressing those hems and waistbands SO much easier! At first, I only used the template for the Easy Fit Pants, but then I started making my own lines on it and using it for other patterns. I LOVE Brownie Goose patterns... so this is how I used the template with this pair of Lola Bells.
First, I pressed the serged bottom edge up a half inch to create my hem. I already have the .5 line on this template. 

Next, I want to press the waistband casing. This template doesn't yet have a two inch line, so I used my ruler than I despise for folding to create another line. 

Then it's back to the ironing board to press the waistband down two inches. If you're a BG pattern aficionado, you're probably wondering why in the world am I pressing the waistband down BEFORE joining the front and back panels. Well, I despise ironing in the 'round' about as much as pressing with my ruler. So I create memory creases before sewing and then I don't have to press it again! 

There you go. If you're looking for a good template, Carla from The Scientific Seamstress has a free downloadable one on her blog! Get it here

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Introducing... Brynn's Blue Bells

I love jeans. Next to yoga pants, they're my favorite things to wear. My little girl does not like them. I bought all these cute little jeans last year after she potty trained and she hated wearing them. This year, I vowed to not waste my money and stuff she wouldn't wear!

Then I found this pattern... lovely! Brownie Goose does amazing things with clothing design. The Sleepy Jeans feature gorgeously full ruffles and wide legs and a super comfy elastic waistband. Those are the things my daughter hates about standard jeans. She does NOT like when the front of the pants pushes in on her tummy (unlike us, she's not yet learned that beauty isn't painless) and she hates when she can't move as freely as she can when she's wearing leggings or a dress. These jeans solve that problem!

What makes this pattern different from every other ruffle pants pattern? Well, the fit for one. These do have a lower rise in the front and a better 'seat' in the back. They have nice, full ruffles. Finally, the details. It's all about the details that kick this pattern up to the next level.

So check them out below. Right now, they only go up to a size 5, but I've heard rumors that Amy may release extended sizes sometime in the future... cross your fingers! Get a pair like these on Etsy HERE or shoot me a message on Facebook to design a custom look for your little girl! These would be darling with back pockets and I love the button tab design from the pattern photo...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Outtakes

Okay, sorry for not posting in a while... life got extremely busy! Anyway, yesterday my Dad called to chat. He wanted to say how much he was enjoying seeing all the adorable pictures of little Miss Jenna. He then said something that cracked me up... "She must love getting all dressed up and smiling for the camera!"

Umm, no. She loves getting dressed up, but that's not usually the outfit I have planned for her... When I do a photo shoot, it consists of me chasing her around with the camera and trying to keep the dog and other children out of the shot. SHE chooses what shoes and sometimes what shirt she wears in the pics... So if you see an adorable little girl in a to-die-for dress but she's wearing Crocs... don't judge the mother! Maybe those Crocs were the only things getting the girl to stand still and smile for the camera!

So today, since apparently my Dad thinks she stands there and looks all cute every second of the day, I decided to share some of the outtakes... You know, the pics that generally never get uploaded to the internet if they make it off the camera? The 'captions' are below each pic! Enjoy!

The Stats: This 'photo shoot' lasted less than 10 minutes and I uploaded 46 images off the camera.

She looked down at the ground and saw a wilted flower... She threw a little fit... The camera caught it!

She saw what Mommy didn't... Colin was climbing into the back of Daddy's truck... This is all the camera caught once she decided to join him!

This was funny... I said, "Hold still just a sec, I want to get the buttons in the pic." SHE says, "OH! I have BUTTONS!" ... The camera caught her hand investigating those buttons!

Umm, big brother found a stick and then she decided to stick out her tongue... The camera caught more than enough for one night. This was the last image on the camera tonight... At this point, I herd everyone back inside and say a little prayer that I got one or two good images I can edit and use to list these jeans on Etsy!

Stay tuned for the GOOD pics tomorrow! You know, those pics that make it appear I have a gorgeously well-behaved model for a child. ;)