Monday, February 16, 2015

Crafting Con Guest Post: Mario

Have you heard of Crafting Con? It's a series hosted by Mae&K and Friends Stitched Together that celebrates all things nerdy. Each month there's a different theme like Star Wars or Harry Potter or Dr. Who -- and guests create tutorials and four bloggers compete with a complete outfit inspired by the theme.

This month it's my turn, and our theme was Mario Brothers! The boys got a Wii for Christmas and have been getting to know Mario and his friends. Daniel's favorite character is Mario - and he's the one who needed one more winter shirt - so, he got a Mario outfit!

Whenever I sew for Daniel, especially if it's something soft and comfortable, he is so grateful. It warms a sewing mama's heart to see him so happy. He wore these pants three days in a row until I convinced him they were stained and needed to be washed!

I wanted the outfit to be a nod to Mario - the converse shoes, slim-fitting pants reminiscent of the '80s, and pageboy hat. The appliquéd Mario silhouette is for fun!

The hat is the Newsboy Hat Sewing pattern from Butterfly Tree on Etsy. It's fully reversible and made with fabric from an upcycled robe my grandmother gave me. The pattern was super easy to follow, and I took my time and am pleased with the outcome.

The pants are the Clean Slate Pants from Blank Slate Patterns. I've made the pants a couple of times before, so they went together easily, too. I do have one recommendation: if you know yours is a slim kid and you'll be cinching the elastic quite a bit, anchor down the elastic closer to the pockets rather than the side seams. All that gathering makes the welt pockets distorted otherwise. I did widen the legs of the pants a tad for a more relaxed fit, and I'm glad. Melissa's directions for a zip fly are still my favorites.

The first time I sewed these pants was a couple of years ago (at least). I remember how difficult they were for me -- the welt pockets, the zip fly, everything. The fact that things were so much easier this time made me realize just how much all that hard work has paid off! Look -- it's even got a bar tack!

My love for the Bimaa knows no bounds! The hooded version is just as great as the others. Daniel loooooves hooded shirts. This is what? my fourth Bimaa? I won the pattern from Call Ajaire and will end up investing in the updated version that has more sizes.

That's it! There's more nerdy goodness over at Mae&K, and there are some photos I didn't share here, so go check them out if you're interested!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Free for All: A Bevy of Bows

Today I'm talking hair.

Over at Frances Suzanne the lovely sisters are sharing all kinds of free goodness. There's a link-up for sharing free patterns, a link-up for sharing things we've made from free patterns, and guests sharing some of their favorite freebies. Today it's my turn, and I'm changing up my usual M.O. to delve into accessories!

Eliza's a fan of hair bows in theory, and she loves to point out awesome hair bows on other little girls, but we have yet to find one that she actually wants to wear herself. We've tried the big, boutique style. We've tried small barrettes. We've tried headbands and fancy ponytail holders. She keeps them in for a while, and then I find them lingering behind the couch or beside her plate at the kitchen table.

Maybe if she watched me make them, she'd be more inclined to wear them, I thought.

There are a MASSIVE number of hair bow tutorials on the Internet. Most of them are for ribbon hair bows, but since this is a sewing blog, I figured I'd concentrate on those made with felt and regular old fabric.

First I used the Oliver+S free pattern and tutorial for felt bows. It was a cinch! The hardest part (for me) was finding cute felt fabric. Hobby Lobby had some neat squares of felt at a great price, so I picked up my favorites. Each square would make four bows (at least).

Oliver+S also has a free pattern for a Bow Hair Tie if you like more subtle hair accessories. I made one, but Eliza's hair is so fine (and mine's so short) that it just didn't work for us. Maybe someday.

Sew Bon also has a great tutorial for fabric hair bows that I tried. I shrank Erin's recommended measurements roughly in half to fit a small alligator clip barrette. How cute are these?

The best part is all of these bows are super easy to make. Disney from Ruffles and Stuff and Jess from Craftiness is not Optional both have felt bow tutorials that are a tad different and don't even require sewing!

This tutorial from The Ribbon Retreat shows how to cover snap barrettes with ribbon and add a bow -- so unique and adorable! The tutorial is detailed with great photos, too.

I hope this gives you a nice place to start with FREE felt and fabric hair bow tutorials and patterns! If you've got any to add, please share them in the comments. They're satisfying to make, that's for sure. Wish me luck on getting Eliza to wear one!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

KCW: Chemistry Kit T-Shirts

Here are my final two makes for Kids Clothes Week. My goal this week was to embellish the t-shirts I made earlier this winter, and WOOHOO! Check it off the list!

The boys each have two mama-made t-shirts this year. (Daniel has another on the way to replace one I goofed up.) 

These are my favorites! I pinned a Boden appliquéd t-shirt a while back (so far back that it's not online anymore), and it's the one the boys picked for me to make.

They love how they turned out.

(Details on fabric and such are at the bottom of the post.)

Funny story: I was trying to make them laugh and started imitating a toothless moonshiner. I'm a southerner who's lived in East TN, KY, and NC. I can NAIL a toothless moonshiner imitation. They were in stitches.

These kids are so fun, and they're so grateful when I sew something for them. Also, Daniel looks just like my mom in this next photo. 

Pattern: Flashback Skinny Tee from Made by Rae. Size 6 for Daniel; size 8 for Lee. (They're slim fitting, so I size up. Next time I'll add a little width to Lee's. Next time I'll shorten the sleeves, too.)

I forgot to mention last time that I always disregard the pattern's measurements for the neckband and estimate my own length.

Fabric: More Robert Kaufman Laguna knit from Let's Sew in Evansville. It's got a bit of spandex. I cannot say enough good things about this fabric.

The rest of the fabric came from scraps.

Thoughts: These shirts were SUPER labor intensive. The appliqué took time, of course, and so did the hand-stitching. But the most time was spent trying to figure out how to make that atom.

That's it! Happy Kids Clothes Week, y'all! I'm working on an entry for Crafting Con and a post for Frances Suzanne's February Free for All. And somewhere in there I'm finishing our master bedroom. Because I'm ready for some curtains. 

See you next week!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

KCW: Star Wars T-Shirts

This winter's theme for Kids Clothes Week is "upcyled." I'm working on a full ensemble for Daniel that's 90% upcycled, but it likely won't be finished (and photographed and blogged) this week.

Instead I'll share some t-shirts that I've finished. A couple of months ago I loaded up on Robert Kaufman Laguna knits. I let the boys pick the colors and embellishments.

Daniel requested Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1, and this bleaching tutorial published on Sew Country Chick suited it perfectly. It's supposed to look like it's flying through a starry sky. I was excited and went a little heavy on the bleach.

The second t-shirt is made using freezer paper, too, but instead of doing a traditional stencil version I did it in a negative-space way. I mixed blue and brown paint and intentionally thinly coated it so some of the light gray would peek through. It's an AT-AT Walker. 

I made Lee a navy shirt with a ET-AT Walker on it, too, but didn't blog it or photograph it. And now it's in the dirty clothes hamper.

There are lots of projects and deadlines this week, so I'll wrap this post up with stats.

Pattern: Flashback Skinny Tee from Made by Rae
Size: 6 (this one's designed to be slim-fitting, so I always size up
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Laguna knit bought at Let's Sew in Evansville//Ribbing is from my stash

I HIGHLY recommend this fabric! I made the boys six shirts in this fabric, and they've been wearing them plain and patiently waiting for me to embellish them. They haven't stretched, shrunk, faded, or pilled.

For a few years I've been waffling on the logic of making their long-sleeved t-shirts and whether it's cost-effective. This fabric convinced me it's worth it. They love the softness of the fabric, and I love the quality.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Homeschool Day in the Life with a 3, 5, and 7 year old

Every year Jamie at Simple Homeschool hosts a series titled A Day in the Life of Homeschoolers. She invites dozens of families to share what their days look like -- from what curricula they use to how they organize meal times to how they squeeze in housekeeping and what challenges they face. Folks with all different philosophies, situations, and kids' ages and abilities share a peek into the workings of their home.

I've come across great resources and gleaned lots of useful ideas from these posts.

The neat thing about homeschooling is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach. I've never met another homeschooling family whose day looks like ours. That flexibility is one of the things that appeals to us, of course. 

No one day looks like another, but there is a simple rhythm to our days. There are a few things that have been consistent for at least three months and look to be consistent for the next three, so I'll include those. 

Around 5:30 I wake up and prepare to run. If it's speed work and it's still dark outside, I drive to the gym for the treadmill. If it's an easy run, I head right out our front door.

The kids get up anywhere between 6:45 - 7:30. Ryan eats breakfast and gets coffee somewhere in there, and he puts breakfast out on the kitchen table for them. 

I arrive home about 7:30, and Ryan leaves for work shortly after. I shower and encourage (haha) the kids to make beds, brush teeth, and get dressed (if it's a co-op day). (If it's an at-home day they make beds, brush teeth, and stay in their skivvies or PJs.)

We leave for Classical Conversations and our Fine Arts Co-op two days a week at 8:30. Those days we do co-op until noon-ish and that's it for school. 

Assembling their bodies at CC. This was guest day, so their dad and local grandparents came.
The other days we camp out somewhere in the house. We've done school in just about every room except the bathroom. And actually, knowing us and knowing our bathroom has a space heater, it's shocking we haven't whipped out the math books and used the toilet lid as a desk.

Homeschooling, y'all.

One of the most frequent questions I get is, "What do the younger ones do while you're doing school with Lee?" The answer is, "Anything and everything."

I don't do anything formal with Daniel or Eliza (outside of co-ops). (We didn't start formal instruction with Lee until he was six, and don't plan to start Daniel until at least then.) Daniel has math and handwriting books if he's interested (he's not usually), but most likely they're simply playing around us. They're very good at entertaining themselves, and I'm amazed at what they absorb simply by being in the same room. 

Lots of times I just let them play -- in our opinions, relationships are as important as (or more important than) academics at this age.

There's no set schedule for our schooling. We try to get all the subjects covered. Some days we double up, and some days we skip school and head to a playground. Some days - like today - they spend an hour at the kitchen table counting their savings. Indiana requires we have 180 days of instruction, but we get to determine what constitutes a "day."

Here is our curricula and such. Lee chooses the order, which means we always start with CC memory work songs or The Hardy Boys -- his favorites. Lee doesn't work independently yet, except on math worksheets. Most all of these lessons are teacher-led.

Classical Conversations memory work -- includes memorizing facts (to music) in math, science, geography, English grammar, Latin, history, and a historical world timeline from creation to the present. Often the memory work leads into other things. For example, we watched a video of Mount St. Helens erupting after learning about its location in geography. 
Phonics Pathways -- Lee's finished with this, and it was great for him. We'll likely use it with the others, too.
All About Spelling -- We're starting Level 1 in a couple of weeks. 
First Language Lessons Level 1 -- English grammar
Writing with Ease Level 1-- We LOVE this writing curriculum. It teaches them to write from examples in classic literature.
Bible Study Guide for All Ages -- This isn't a devotional; it's a structured study to learn the content of the Bible. We're starting it in a week or so, and I'm super pumped. Daniel will be in on it, too.
Horizons Math -- Love this one, too. We're finishing K and starting on Level 1 soon. 
Various books from our collection and the library
Handwriting Without Tears (when Daniel feels like writing) 

They do a science experiment and art project at CC. They take an art class and violin class at the fine-arts co-op. (Both boys participate in CC and the fine-art co-op.)

On non-co-op days, we do school until 11:30ish, then eat lunch. After lunch we watch a show or two and head upstairs for "rest time." They rest for an hour -- Eliza naps and the boys play quietly, separately, while listening to an audiobook. (I've discovered the best way for us to do audios is to download books from the library onto our iPods and hook those up to speakers. It eliminates the whole, "MOM THE DISC IS SKIPPING!" dilemma.) 

While they rest, I either rest, read, waste time online, research, write, or sew.

Once a week or so we skip rest time and have an arranged play date. Or we may do a field trip in the afternoons, like a homeschool class at the nature center or roller skating.

On days when we're at home, after rest time they file downstairs, play a little Mine Craft or watch a little Odd Squad for 30 minutes, and then head outside. The neighbor boys get home about 3:00, and if we don't have karate, they'll play outside straight through until dinnertime. Their favorite spot is the ditch behind our house -- it's like a suburban version of a mountain stream, complete with rocks and mud and abandoned plastic jugs and other "finds." I cross my fingers that nothing's a biohazard. Eliza usually hangs inside with me, but sometimes I'll brave the elements and sit on the front porch with her. I spend this time cleaning the kitchen and preparing dinner. Or sewing if there's a deadline. I'd rather be sewing.

Two days a week we go to martial arts from 5 - 7. All three of them are in different classes. Oy. I LOVE to watch them. LOVE IT. And they love doing it, which is important too, I guess. 

Eliza on her first day of class. She'd been watching her brothers do karate for 6+ months at this point, so she picked things up really quickly. 

This isn't his instructor; this guy's a former power ranger who came to visit
Lee and Ryan are also involved in Cub Scouts, which meets an average of once a week. Ryan leads a weekly Bible study, and sometimes he's out of pocket for several-evening-stretches with work-related stuff. But generally our nightly rhythm is the same whoever's here.

We eat at 6 on non-karate nights. Sometimes I've been a Rock Star and prepared something. Sometimes I've been sewing or otherwise lollygagging, so I let Little Caesar's be the Rock Star and drive through for $5 pizza.

After dinner we pick up the house. Then we play (if Daddy's here) or get ready for bed (if Mommy's alone and in charge). I like to get them ready for bed and have plenty of time for reading. 

The kids are in bed by 8 most nights.

After they're in bed, Ryan and I do some light housekeeping. (Read: he cleans the kitchen if I've been too lazy.) I start a load of laundry, fold the load that's waiting in the dryer, pick up and . . . yeah, that's about it these days. We save the deep cleaning for the weekends.  

Then we either sit on the couch and watch TV together, sit on the couch and read together, sit on the couch while he reads and I waste time online, or I sew and he does something else besides sewing. (If Ryan's not here, I sew.) Before bed, I transfer the clothes to the dryer, and we try to head up to bed together to read around 9:30 - 10:00.

This post is a nuts-and-bolts kind of thing, so I won't share All The Feelings about homeschooling here. Suffice it to say it's 100 times harder than I imagined. And we're digging it big time.

Thanks for sharing our (virtual) day! I'm linking up at Simple Homeschool with all the other homeschoolers sharing their day-in-the-life posts. If you're curious about homeschooling or what other families' versions look like, it'd be a great place to start!
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