The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

A Simple Skirt

Even though we had no real plans for the weekend, Caden’s complete meltdown Friday night cemented the fact that we would be staying close to home in order to facilitate SLEEP. I wanted to get naps in both days, or at least the opportunity for them. Saturday it was Delaney’s turn to stomp and grumble. A two hour nap and I had a completely different girl on my hands! Sunday we headed to church, and that’s when things went downhill for Caden. She always complains that her stomach hurts. She hadn’t eaten much, so I just made a mental note. When I picked her up from Sunday School she looked tired. We very quickly hit Target and got her home, by which time she had a 101 fever.

caden sick

The problem with watching Project Runway with your kids is that then they want to sew. Both girls had been asking to sew something all morning Sunday. With Caden down for a nap, Delaney pressed her case. I was tired, I had a million things to do, but I also knew we could probably knock out a simple skirt in an hour or so and she would be incredibly happy. So that’s what we did.

We looked through my stash of fabric. I had some plaid cotton that I had intended to use to make cute summer tops. I also had some cute knits. The knit was cute, but I knew of a simple skirt tutorial that was made for cotton, so we went with that.

delaney sew 1

Sewing is stressful for me because I’m horrible at keeping straight lines. You know what is awesome about plaid? It comes with lines! That you can follow! A skirt like this is so simple to make. Measure their waist, take that number times two. Measure the length, add enough for a waistband and hem. Sew up the side, sew the waistband, hem. Even I can’t screw this up.

delaney sew 2

Delaney wasn’t content to just be with me while I did this, she wanted to run the pedal. It took us a little while to find a groove, but she did a great job with slow and steady, and it allowed me to just feed the fabric in and keep my lines straight. Perhaps this is how I should have been sewing all along?

delaney sew 3

It turned out super cute! Unfortunately it’s September and she’ll only be able to wear it with leggings, but she’s happy and that’s what counts. I’m so glad we did this little project. There were a few times when I was sweating bullets (mostly when I was trying to iron, why is that so hard for me?) but I’m actually kind of proud of this one!

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Birthday Dresses

A few weeks ago I took a look around the internets to see if any of the online retailers had cute dresses out yet. No one did. But of course, I saw cute dresses on a ton of sewing websites. Once again I convinced myself – I can make their birthday dresses! I pinned a few different ideas, showed them to them and both picked this dress –

Source: made-by-rae.com via Erin on Pinterest

They loved the rainbow effect. I loved the fact that I was pretty sure I could make it, having done the whole gathered tier thing before. My mom and I headed to the fabric store on Saturday to find some cute coordinating fabrics. We found some alright, but they were all $9.99 per yard. I needed a yard of each color, so suddenly I was looking at $40 for two dresses. Pretty sure I could hit up Gap and get some amazing dresses that I would not have to sew for that kind of cash.

And so, I ditched that plan and we headed to the bargain table where fabric was $2 per yard. Much more in my price range. They didn’t have four coordinating fabrics, but I found a bunch of madras plaid that I loved that will make super cute summer tops, and two prints that I fell in love with, that will coordinate perfectly for dresses. We hit the pattern books, found the patterns we needed and now I need to get sewing!

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Go Deep

Last week I read an article on one of my favorite personal finance blogs. It was about learning life lessons from a sushi master chef. One of the lines in the article resonated with me and every day since, I keep coming back to it. It seems to me that Jiro increases his creativity by going deep, rather than wide.

I’ve talked before about narrowing my focus and realizing I don’t have to do everything. As I continue to slog through that journey, go deep kept coming back to me. I love photography, but I’m not making an effort to go deep. I love sewing, but I’m fumbling around most of the time. I want to go deep! I want to stop being jack of all trades, master of none.

Oddly enough, cooking is the one thing I’ve gone deep with. I narrowed our meal choices by removing gluten and most grains. That was the single best thing I could have done for my cooking, and my body. Narrowing our choices means I’m cooking the same things over and over again. Slowly tweaking them, perfecting some, but ultimately realizing what works for our family and what doesn’t, and then sticking to what works.

And so, it’s time to go deep elsewhere. I want to flex my creative muscles and to do that, I’m going to need to learn more about photography, more about sewing. No more flailing on my own, that isn’t getting me anywhere.

First up, a sewing class. The winter has less light, so it makes sense to concentrate on sewing first. I found a local place that offers sewing classes. I’m familiar with the basics, so I’ve decided on the tunic class to start off with. Maybe in January?

Next, a ClickinMoms class. Finally! I’ve been contemplating taking one of these classes forever. But they aren’t cheap and I could never commit. Our trip to Florida in March generally relights my photography bug, so maybe April when we’re outside a bit more? I waffled, but I think I want to start with Shooting 101. I’ve been shooting in manual for almost two years now, so maybe it’s overkill but I feel like if I’m going to do this, I should go back to the beginning.

I do wonder if I shouldn’t just pick one and go with that. What’s the point of going deep if you’re spread too thin? If only one can win, it will be photography. We shall see.

ps – anyone want to do these classes with me?

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Costume Breakdown – Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck

First off, let’s be clear. I am a beginner sewer. Anything I’ve done for these costumes, you could do with a sewing machine and next to no experience.

Second, sewing isn’t really necessary for diy costumes. There are tons of costumes out there that you can pull together without doing a lick of sewing. For instance, here was the inspiration for Caden’s Minnie Mouse costume:

Source: squidoo.com via Erin on Pinterest

 

The plan was to make ears, buy a tutu, and go with black shirt and black pants. Except instead we found pink ears online and bought those, which meant we needed a pink tutu. I just didn’t feel like you could do just a black shirt with the pink tutu, so I went in search of a pink sweatshirt. Turned out, I didn’t need to look farther than our own closet! Caden had a pink fleece pullover that was the perfect color. I found the tutu on Etsy, with the intent to stick white dots on it. But, when Caden tried everything on at home, she just didn’t look like Minnie. I knew we needed the polka dot fabric.

We hit up Joann’s for supplies, and I found the perfect pink polka dot fabric! I knew even I could sew a gathered skirt to go over the tutu.

To sew the skirt, I measured the height of the tutu, and added an inch for seam allowance. Then I (kind of) measured the circumference of the tutu, and doubled that for the length of my rectangle. Hem the bottom, sew a gather stitch at the top, and then gather. The gathering is far and away the hardest part. Once it was the right size, I fit it over the top of the tutu and sewed that bad boy on. Ta da! Easy peasy. Took less than half an hour, and that was with ‘easy gathered skirt’ google research.

I loved it because the tutu underneath gave it a nice poof. Black leggings, black socks, and pink shoes complete the outfit. I searched high and low for white gloves for her, but couldn’t find any. Oh well! She asked for a black nose for school (a little moisturizer to give the eyeshadow something to adhere to, and MAC carbon eyeshadow), but asked me to take it off when we got home. She loved the costume, and aside from the ears falling off nonstop, it was warm and comfortable. And totally cute!

My plan for Daisy Duck was to also incorporate a tutu, this time white with feathers sewn (glued?) onto it. My mom found a white tutu and feathers, but when it came time to get them on there, google research brought me to this feather skirt tutorial:

Source: simplesimonandco.com via Erin on Pinterest

 

Come to mama! I loved it! And it looked super easy to do. I bought some basic white cotton fabric. I measured from her waist to her knees for the length, then added 2 inches for seam and waist allowance. I measured around her waist for the length of my rectangle. I veered from her directions a bit and hemmed the bottom immediately, and also did my waist band right away. You turn it under 1/4″, iron, under 1 1/4″, iron, then sew. The only con of doing this right away was that when I stitched on my first feather boa, I had to be careful not to stitch in the waistband. But, it was much better than trying to sew the waistband with feathers on it.

Okay, so then I cut lengths of the feather boa, leaving a little extra on each end, and hand stitched them on. Pin first! You only need a few pins, but it makes all the difference in how long it takes. I think I did five rows of feather boa? I made them as close together as I could so that there would be lots of feathers.

Once all of the feathers were on, I turned the right sides together and sewed up the side seam, just to the waistband. I turned it right side out and threaded the elastic through, overlapping that a bit and sewing it together. Good thing I didn’t sew the waistband shut, because it was too loose and I had to go back and take it in a bit. Easy enough to do, although I should have taken it in more since her skirt fell off all night.

My mom found the purple fleece at Children’s Place, and the white sweater leggings are from Target. The headband bow was a bit of a nightmare. The first two ribbons I bought were too floppy. I finally found one that would hold its shape, and made a big bow out of that, sewing it onto a dollar bin black headband. Again, no white gloves for her! But we did have purple gloves that she wore.

Again, warm and comfortable costume! You had to squint a bit to know she was Daisy Duck, but everyone oohed and ahhed over the skirt (as they should, it was adorable!). Delaney *loved* her costume which made me so happy.  Caden picked Minnie Mouse and I had to talk Laney into Daisy Duck, so I was so happy she loved it in the end.

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Sewing 101

Delaney is long waisted. Finding shirts for her can be an adventure. So many brands have been hit or miss, or once they’re washed a few times they shrink and no longer fit well. I buy her longer tops or dresses for the most part, but I also thought it would be a good idea to sew her some tops so I could guarantee they would be long enough. I had found some tutorials on the web and pinned them, but knew I would need some motivation to actually get sewing. My mom agreed to a sewing weekend! But she was not in for just winging it with only web tutorials to go by, so she bought an old school pattern for us to use.

This is where I apologize for the lack of pictures. You would think I would have snapped shots along the way right? Wrong. The girls were rather demanding this weekend and my mom and I wanted to sew as many of these shirts as possible, so I failed at taking pictures.

First things first. I have not had good luck finding fun knit fabrics at the fabric stores. They’re expensive and plain, so I went online to Girl Charlee and ordered from there. Love them! And love their prices.

My mom made a test shirt before we got there. This was good because we could try it on the girls and make adjustments. We needed the longer length, but the bodice was too big, so we cut back on that. I think we made adjustments with each shirt that we sewed. Adding interfacing to make the collar stronger, skipping the zig zag in places, adding a double hem. It was good, because neither of us are the rip it out and redo types, we just move on and fix it in the next shirt.

In the middle, I did a tiered jersey dress for Delaney. I had bought $1 adult t-shirts years ago for this project, and just now actually put it together! You start out with a t-shirt that fits, cut rectangles out from old t-shirts, and then sew it all together! I have more old t-shirts in mind for another dress. Next time I think I’ll make the tiers smaller so the dress isn’t so long, and move them up a bit closer to the arm pits. On, this looks more like a nightgown, but Laney loved it so that’s what matters!

I like to sew even though I’m not particularly good at it. I have a tendency to forge ahead without always thinking through what really needs to happen. I’m not mechanically inclined, so it can be hard for me to figure out how things are supposed to go together if I can’t talk it through with someone else. But, I like to create things. At my job? I review, I plan, I motivate, I track, but I don’t create anything. My team does, but I don’t. This weekend? It felt *really* good to create things and then see the girls want to put them on immediately. When Laney tried this shirt on and then came running at me with a huge grin on her face? It made all the sweat, frustration, and swearing worth it! Also, a huge thank you to my mom for doing this with me! I couldn’t have done it without her sewing expertise.

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Upcycle

I bought a few new t-shirts before our vacation and when I was unpacking, not everything really fit back into my t-shirt drawer. I went through everything and pulled out the ones I don’t wear often, or that don’t fit well. My intention was to start a Goodwill pile, but the more I looked at them, the more I knew I could use them to make dresses for the girls. I tried one of the t-shirts on Caden tonight and it’s the perfect length! I just need to cut it apart and sew it back up. Not the easiest task for someone who doesn’t think like that!

I found this tutorial which I’m going to try to follow. Not everything there makes sense, but that’s usually the case with me and sewing instructions. Once I’m in it, I’m hoping it will all become crystal clear.

I have a few plain t-shirts that maybe wouldn’t make interesting dresses. I was thinking of … adding in some embellishments? But then I remembered this tutorial on leggings! If I can figure out elastic thread and actually do the ruching those will be perfect for this summer.

Now to find the time, and energy, to sew.

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