Sweet Caroline

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My great-grandmother, Caroline, was Bohemian; so "boho" means a little something different to me because I think of her.  I remember her fierce hugs and the stories of her spunk and determination. Widowed, with three young children, she moved from the city to rural PA and married a bachelor farmer.  I have always thought she was brave, and I wouldn't be here if she hadn't taken a chance. Characteristic of her generation, she was very resourceful.  My baby quilt is pieced from flour sacks and her quilt templates were cut from old cereal boxes. One Christmas, we all got stuffed pigs made from polyester scraps.  She also worked hard and never gave up. She had to quit school to help at home, but got her GED in her 80s because it was something that she had always wanted to do. I still remember her showing us the certificate hanging proudly in the frame on her living room wall. She made the best out of any situation with creativity and determination. That is a bit of what I tried to do this week. We had 2 feet of snow and 3 snow days, so I had to "make do" with what I had on hand, although it meant a lot more work. In the end, both outfits cost less than $5 to make and all that I had to purchase when I finally was able to leave the house was some thread, embroidery floss, and buttons.

Boho week for Project Run and Play!

I still tried to incorporate the modern "boho" style in my designs. First, I made a tunic from an old shirt that was given to me. I loved the color (with a slightly uneven dye effect) and it was a thin, flowy fabric perfect for what I had in mind. I removed the bottom ruffle (the open part was badly torn) and the bottoms of the sleeves. Then, I carefully cut the rest of my pieces from what was left of the shirt. I drafted a bodice with a curved front and trimmed the front of the bottom skirt portion a bit to create a high-low effect. The original ruffle was resized and sewed onto the bottom of the tunic. I embroidered the neckline with some simple flowers and vines. It took awhile, but it was definitely worth it to add some lovely detail. The top is lined with remnants of a really soft sheet I used to line THIS dress and I understitched along the inside neckline. I reshaped the sleeves to create a loose, flutter sleeve with a bit of gathering at the top. Then, I sewed it to the bottom and added buttons on the back. I also made a pair of leggings from some olive green knit fabric that I found in a tote after digging a path to my storage shed.

Before...

before-picture-of-shirt

After...

hand embroidery and understitching

buttons on the back of a flowy, boho tunic

butterfly sleeve boho tunic

double needle hem leggings

hi-low hem tunic upcycled from a womens shirt

purple hi-low tunic refashioned from a womens shirt

Hand embroidered girls boho tunic

My other daughter wanted a maxi dress and I found a dusty coral sheet I had purchased years ago on clearance at Target and stuffed under my fabric table. I only used about half of the sheet to make this dress. I drafted the pattern to have a drop waist and long, gathered tiers. I was careful in my cutting and able to use the original sheet hem, too! Yay! This time, I put the buttons in the front and hand embroidered the button placket in the same intricate flowers and vines. Oh, and those buttons? My husband made them from a dowel rod! He sanded them on the belt sander to make them round and carefully sliced them off of the dowel. I sanded them by hand to smooth and even them out. After a last-minute trip for 1/16th inch drill bits, he drilled holes in them for me. The straps are made from braided strips folded like bias tape and sewn together. They cross in the back and I added an elastic casing so that it would fit well and not gap in the back.

Some more before pictures...

dowel-buttons     flat-sheet

After...

Girls boho maxi dress made from a sheet

embroidered flowers

braided crossing straps

boho style maxi dress from a sheet

braided straps

Elastic casing to keep the back of the dress from gapping!

handmade wooden button

We tried to do a farm themed photo shoot, but it is hard because our options right now are: a) snow or b) mud. At the end, I decided to try to take some pictures with our new chicks, but it was clearly a bad idea. Let's just say that this was the second week in a row that an outfit had to be washed right after the pictures. Ew!!!

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peep-pooping

You can vote for your favorite "boho" look HERE over at Project Run and Play!

Thank you again to all of those who have voted and shared and supported me!!! Thank you to Aunt Karen for the purple shirt. A very special thank you to my sisters this week! Loni, you did an awesome job as my hairstylist and ironer. (Also, thank you for returning my vintage crimping iron.) Thank you to my husband for those awesome buttons and for carrying girls over the mud for pictures! Thank you most of all to my grandmother and other family members who pass down stories and leave a legacy to inspire future generations.

Boho style outfits made from a sheet and an old shirt!

Regular to Maternity T-Shirt Refashion Tutorial

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Please excuse the photographer's finger in the top corner there. :)
Usually I do not sew many things for myself and I am not usually all that picky when it comes to clothing. BUT, I saw these T-shirts on sale at Target in CUTE colors and I just really, really wanted them! So I splurged. On myself.  That almost NEVER happens!  Here is how I mentally justified it: Maternity T-shirts are way more expensive (I got this shirt for $5 on sale in the Women's section, but I saw similar maternity ones online at Target.com for $15).  The maternity T-shirts I already have are in dark colors (plus everything is getting too short for my belly these days). I figured I could buy XL and XXL shirts for the length and alter them.  Ready to see how I did that? Let's go!
Start out with an XL or XXL shirt. For some reason, I didn't even take the tags or sticker off until I was done. It wasn't like I was going to return it.
You need to carefully trim off the side seams from the armpit down.
Fold the shirt in half.  Using a shirt that fits well as a pattern, mark where the arm scythe should be and cut off the sleeves and down the sides gently on an angle as shown. You can see that my arm scythe is higher and narrower in the shoulders vs the original shirt.
Trim up the sleeves to fit the arm scythe, plus a little seam allowance at the bottom. This pic shows the before and after so you can get an idea...
Now, here is the part I thought was so clever... Take the back of the shirt only (the front side is pushed away at the top there) and trim the sides to make them straight. (The shirt naturally flared out quite a bit towards the bottom, which I need in the front, but I didn't want a whole lot of extra bunching in the back.)

This is what you should have so far. These are all of the pieces and the back is actually on top so that you can see the difference between the front and back.
Sew up the side seams with a serger or using a stretch stitch on your sewing machine.  If you use a serger, make sure to tuck those tails of thread in when you are finished.  Sew the bottoms of the sleeves together, too.

Just pin the sleeve to the arm and reattach using a serger or stretch stitch. I suppose, if you wanted to, you could sew the sleeve on first and then sew all the way down the side from the edge of the sleeve to the bottom of the shirt.  This is just how I did it. Whatever works.

You can leave the shirt like this if you want (see all of the extra roominess in the front), but it was still too long in the back for my liking. I need the length for the front, though, so I decided to add ruching in the sides.

Decide how high you want the ruching to go, measure from there to the bottom of the shirt, then cut a piece of 1/4" elastic half of that length.  Pin the ends in place on the side seam allowance.

Just pull the elastic tight as you sew.  The elastic should be sewn to the side seam allowance only, so you won't see the stitching on the outside of the shirt when it is finished.

TADA! That is it!!  It really didn't take me long at all- maybe a half hour, and it theoretically saved me $10. Plus, it is a custom-fit shirt that actually covers my belly! Woohoo!
Here is the other shirt I altered. I didn't add the ruching because it was already on the short side, but I might go back and add some in later. We'll see. If I feel like it.
You can't tell by the super sunny pic my 5yo took for me, but this shirt is an awesome minty aqua color. Oh, and in case you are wondering, I am 29 weeks here. Yeah. 2 1/2 months to go. Yes, there is just one baby in there.  Feel free to laugh. I am used to it. 

 So, there you go! If you could snag some great thrift or clearance deals, this would be a great money-saver! It was easy and if I don't stain them up this summer (forget putting your napkin on your lap- my belly catches everything!) I will probably cut the sides open to take them in again post-baby. It would only take, like, 10 minutes. Maybe 15 if I hem the bottom to make it shorter. Yes, I am still justifying my splurging impulse buy here. :)

Linking up to:
Craftastic Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Made By You Monday, Take a Look Tuesday, Tasteful Tuesdays, Carolyn's Homework, The Winthrop Chronicles, Handmade TuesdaysInspiration Exchange, Sugar and Spice, Whatever Goes WednesdayMake Bake Create Party, We Did It Wednesday, What I Wore, Read, And Made, Show Me What Ya Got, Lil' Luna, Adorned From Above, Off the Hook, Your Whims Wednesday, Show Off Your Stuff Party, You Inspired, The 36th Party, Hookin Up with HoH, Link Love Thursday, Blog Stalking Thursday, The Homemaking Party, Creative Inspiration Party, Create It Thursday, Shine On Friday, Friday Favorites, Friday Favs Party, Think Pink Sundays, and ThreadingYourWay

Hello Kitty Ears

I am back-tracking a little bit here, since I finally got all of my Christmas pictures off of the camera card. :) Right before Christmas, we celebrated Isabelle's 7th birthday and she wanted Hello Kitty again.  Just for fun, I made a dozen or so of these Hello Kitty ear headbands.

 

They were super easy and cute! I got the idea on Pinterest and you can see more Hello Kitty party cuteness HERE. I got 6-packs of headbands at the Dollar Tree and used a coupon on the felt at Michael's, so they were cheap, too.
Isabelle even made the adults wear them. Doesn't Aunt Loni look cute?

To make things a little different, I went with cookies and cupcakes instead of the Hello Kitty cake like I made a few years ago (seen HERE).  I bent a metal cookie cutter in the shape of Hello Kitty's head and made cut-out sugar cookies.  I made lots of them for her to take into school, so these are the not-as-cute leftovers. If I had had more time, I would have made them all glazed over in white icing first, but the rest of the decorating is icing and melted chocolate for the eyes. It made them in the last-minute-right-before-Christmas-good-enough stage.

It made for a Happy Birthday for Isabelle, so that is what matters! :)

Backstitching Embroidery Tutorial

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About a year and a half ago, I figured out how to do hand embroidery and I have been selling "framed stitcheries" in my etsy shop.  A friend of mine asked me to teach her, so I snapped some pictures of a piece I am working on that will look the the one above when I am all done.  (If you find that my pictures are not phenomenal, I am blaming most of it on the dreary weather.  The rest I blame on rushing through it to get back to a cranky, teething baby.)
Materials:
~embroidery hoop
~fabric
~warm'n'natural batting
~DMC floss
~embroidery needle
Step 1:
I always trace my design by holding my paper and fabric up against a (clean) window so that I can see through the fabric to the design on the paper underneath.  You can also tape them on if it is something more detailed or you can't hold it still.
I use batting underneath my fabric when I can to give it more stability and so that you can't see the threads behind it.  Then I put them together and place it in an embroidery hoop.
For the floss, I separate out 2 strands (it comes in 6 strands twisted together if you but the little 35-cent DMC floss at your local craft store).  Then I just thread it through the needle and knot the end. 
Now you are ready to go!

Step 2:
This one was already started, so ignore the "bel" there. 
Poke your needle up through where you want to start.

Step 3:
To begin... JUST this time... take a regular stitch.

Step 4:
Pull that through all the way and then comes the tricky part.  Poke the needle back up through about the same distance ahead as your first stitch.  You want to keep them as even and as close in size as possible.  There will be a little gap between where you are pulling the thread back up and the first stitch.

Step 5:
Now, put the needle back in at the end of the first stitch you took.EXACTLY at the end of that stitch or else you will have gaps and it won't look as nice.

Step 6:
Pull the thread all the way through, and then come back up again a stitch-width in front of the one you just did.  Just keep going backwards like this, keep the stitches as close in size as you can, and don't leave gaps between your stitches.  Pretty easy once you get the hang of it!

I have also been using this technique to hand embroider Easter basket liners.  I love the way this one turned out (she chose great colors). 

I hope you found this tutorial at least a little helpful.  Now I have to get back to weaving.  Hippity hoppity, Easter's on its way!

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Chicken and Waffles

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Chicken and waffles is a very common meal around these parts. I can remember the first time I met someone who was not a "local" and had never had chicken and waffles. I was shocked and horrified! I thought everyone ate chicken and waffles.

It is really just good, homemade waffles topped with cooked chicken and gravy. You can figure out how to make the cooked chicken and gravy on your own, but here is my awesome recipe for homemade waffles (seriously, only the best of my recipes for you guys!):

Waffles
1 cup flour
3 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup milk
3 eggs (separated)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add milk and egg yolks (beaten).  Stir in oil and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold the egg whites into the batter.  Pour batter onto hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown.

I suppose that you can make these for breakfast as well.  I bet they would be great to freeze and pull out on busy mornings.  Sadly, not too long ago one of my kids said, "You mean you can eat these with syrup?"  Umm... I guess we eat chicken and waffles more than syrup and waffles.  =)