Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mermaid Costume from 2 T-shirts

This costume is from last year as well as the Vintage muscle man costume -  my daughter wanted so badly to be Ariel from the Little Mermaid, but I really didn't like the ones I found in the store - mainly because of the price tag, and for some, the lack of modesty.  I decided to give it a go with 2 tshirts, which I found at Goodwill for less than $5.  I bought them in the men's section and got the largest ones I could find so that I'd have some extra fabric if I messed up.

For the top, I cut off the neckline ribbing and the sleeves, then put it on her inside out, pinning it to the correct size.   I also measured where her hipline was, so I knew where to attach the skirt portion.

After trimming it all down, I sewed the side seams and folded under the neckline and topstitched with a straight stretch stitch.  I didn't have to do any shaping to the neckline other than cutting and folding - it gave it a cute boatneck shape.  For the sleeves, I left the edges raw and gathered it right in the center, stretch stitching it in place for a cute little ruffle.

For the shells, I cut out a little shell shape on paper to use as a pattern, then cut 4 pieces out of the leftover purple tshirt and 2 pieces out of the quilt batting (the same kind I used in the muscle man onesie)  Layer 2 pieces of purple and put one piece of the batting on top.  Pin together.  Sew around the sides and top, leaving the bottom open for flipping.

View from the underside

View once it's been flipped.
 Sew three lines down the center and baste the bottom closed

Gather the bottom and repeat with the other side.

Take a piece of the neck ribbing that you cut off and sew it right sides together to one shell, then the other, so that the seams are on the back.  Wrap ends around to the back and hand sew shut.

Figure out placement on shirt and tack on (hand sew) at center and sides.

 Now for the skirt.  This part was the hardest, but mostly because I had to work around some writing that was on the back of the shirt and I didn't have as much fabric as I would have liked.  I therefore had to get VERY creative ;P

Here's what I came up with…bear with me - it's been almost a year and I'm trying to remember how I did this looking solely at these pictures ;P

Take your green tshirt and turn it so that the hem is facing you.  Measure your child and figure out where you want the point of the fin to be.  Cut the shirt off at that point:

Fold it in half and cut an angle from the bottom to the side where you want the side of the fins to start.

Put on your child inside out and fit it.

Now for the fins. 

Cut the rest of your shirt into usable strips about the same width and sew them all together, connecting them to make a tube.  If some are longer than others, that's okay.  Just trim them up so they're all even

Choose one of the seams as your center seam, and line up the point of the top of the skirt.  Trace along this part, and cut out the "V".  Gather the top of the bottom portion of the skirt, and attach to the bottom of the top part of the skirt.  Confused yet?  ;P  

I didn't take any pictures of this step because I came across some problems I had to fix.  At this point, the fins don't stand out very well.  What I did to fix it was cut off the t-shirt sleeves like this:

I gathered them along the straight side and sewed them into the top of the fin at the connector seam to give it some poof.  This is totally optional, but I feel like it made the fins stand out more.  Since I didn't take pictures of this part, here's where I mean:

Right where the arrows point, you can sew the gathered sleeves at the same time as when you attach the bottom of the skirt, or after.  Trial and error, people.  I had no idea what I was doing.

I then took 2 small strips of green fabric and sewed them to the "V"points in the front and back.  First I sewed inside, then wrapped it around to the front and attached it.  This, obviously, is a bit visible, so I added the ruffle along the seam line to hide it all.

To do this, I took some of the scrap fabric in strips, gathered it into ruffles, and sewed it to the top of the skirt along the "v" seam.  Sorry for the horrible pic, it's the best I've got.

Remember, tshirt fabric doesn't fray, so you don't have to hem or serge anything.  Just cut and go :D

Finally, sew the skirt to the top at the waist and you're done!

She LOVED it - still does, and wears it ALL.THE.TIME.  And I'm so glad, because I just about lost my mind figuring out how to make it ;P  Hope this saves you a little frustration by not having to start from scratch!

Vintage Muscle Man Costume Tutorial

Earlier, I posted a tutorial for the infant Muscle Man Onesie.  That was Part 1 of the vintage muscle man costume tutorial.  We still need to have the unitard, belt, and barbells :)  So here's that tutorial - some pictures I can't find (it's been almost a year since then, after all), so you'll have to bear with me and use your imagination :D

First up - the unitard.  At the time I made this, striped knit fabric was not readily available at the fabric stores near me (namely Joann and Hobby Lobby.)  Now, it's everywhere.  If you can't find it by the yard easily, do what I did and head on over to Goodwill or your closest second hand store.  I found a tshirt for I think a dollar and just cut it out of that.

For the patter, find a sleeper that fits your baby and lay it on a large piece of paper (I use this newsprint paper for my patterns) or tape a few pieces of computer paper together.  Either works.

Lay it flat and trace around the sleeper. This is the shape you want, so draw that in over your outline.

Since I cut mine out of a tshirt, I kept the bottom hem to save myself some time.  Pin right sides together at the crotch, on the sides and at the shoulders.  Sew using either a zig zag or straight stretch stitch (I prefer the stretch stitch - it's my favorite thing ever!!)  Turn right side out and you're done!  Don't worry about hemming the neckline or armholes - knit fabric typically doesn't fray, so I wouldn't take the time unless you really want to.

For the belt, get a buckle at the craft store and some black elastic that is the same width of the buckle.  Wrap the elastic around the center bar (if it has a tine, poke that through the elastic and then wrap around and sew closed.)  You don't need to bother putting grommets or anything on it, you can just poke the tine through the elastic easily when you put it on your baby.  To wear, wrap around your baby's waist and fasten buckle like any other belt, poking the tine through the elastic wherever you need to.  (I realize that there are not pictures of his belt here - I couldn't find it the next day when these pictures were taken and didn't get any really good pictures on Halloween of it - sorry!)

Yes, this really IS the best picture I could get that night - and daddy had already started changing him.  But you can sort of see the belt ;P

Let's see, what else.  Oh yes, the barbells :)  

This took some time to figure out how to do.  I ended up buying 2 toy balls and a fairy wand at the dollar store.  I ripped the top off the wand and just used the stick, taping it with black Gorilla tape to the 2 toy balls.  Once they were all attached, I spray painted the balls and stick black and painted on the number "500" with white craft paint and a brush.  It didn't work too well - I guess I could have gotten stickers, but I was trying to keep the cost down.  It sufficed ;P

As for the boots - they were MISERABLE to make.  I was dumb, cheap, and stubborn, and tried to tweak a pattern that I had bought forever ago on sale.  I don't even think they make it anymore.  Anyhoo, I tried to extend them up past the ankle and they never fit right.  These patterns (OneTwo) might work a little better, if you feel like tweaking them to your needs, or using them as is.  When you do make them, if you're going to use grommets (you can buy kits with instructions on how to do this at the craft store), be aware that felt will NOT hold up, so you will need to use pleather or vinyl.  Yeah, learned that one the hard way.

Last but not least, get some liquid eyeliner in black and draw a cute little mustache on his lip - vintage muscle man complete!

Okay, I think that's everything!!  Enjoy :D

DIY Infant Muscle Man Onesie

Well, it's only taken me almost a year to get this tutorial out.  So pathetic, I know, but this is part of the costume that I made for my son's first Halloween.  We got this onesie as a gift and it is the inspiration for this costume.

I don't know why, but once the idea for him to be a vintage muscle man popped in my head, I could. not. rest until it became a reality.  And that reality was every bit as adorable as I had imagined it would be :)

Here's how you can make one yourself.  I don't have the actual pattern pieces anymore, but if I ever get around to it, I'll draw some more up and put them up here.  Until then, you can see the basic shapes in the pictures to give you an idea.

First things first - get your onesie and dye it.  I like to use liquid RIT dye in tan and do it in the washing machine because, let's face it, I'm kinda lazy when it comes to this part of the process.  If I can save myself some time and effort somewhere, I'm going to do it.  Once it's all dyed, washed, and dried according to package instructions, you're going to want to break out your seam ripper and tear the side seams from right above the hip all the way to right above the wrists.  DO NOT seam rip through the ends, because you do NOT want to have to resew knit seam binding.  No fun.

Why bother with this step, you ask?  This makes it INFINITELY easier to sew and iron the "muscles" onto those little sleeves :)  I honestly think that the sleeves are so skinny that it would be impossible to do this without ripping the sides open.

Cut your muscle shapes out of quilt batting and fusible knit interfacing (cut the interfacing larger than the batting shapes and use the sheet batting - not the polyfil pillow stuffing.  It keeps its shape and is so much easier to work with)

Lay your batting pieces where you want them, lay the interfacing overtop and iron according to instructions to keep batting pieces in place.  Then sew around with your sewing machine's straight knit stitch (it gives you a straight line but also some stretch)

Resew your side seams and you're good to go!  Put that cute little onesie on your little man and get ready to ooooh and aaaah :D  Stay tuned for the tutorial for the rest of the vintage muscle man costume!

Monday, August 25, 2014

I send my kids to public school, and that's okay

Now that we're in the throws of back-to-school craziness, I have so many people asking me what my plans are for the kiddos.  Lots - I mean LOTS - of my friends homeschool their kiddos.  Y'all, this is an awesome thing if you can do it.  I also have LOTS of friends that send their kids to private school.  This is also an awesome thing if you can do it.

I can't do either of those things.  For starters, private school is WAY outside our budget.  So what about homeschooling, you ask?

Ummm, no thanks.

I mean, it's a great calling and an amazing thing if you can do it.  But I taught for a year at a private school and I learned something very, VERY important about myself:

Teaching is NOT one of my gifts.  I seriously do not have the patience to do it.  I get very frustrated when people don't understand what I'm trying to teach them and I don't want to do that to my kids.  Beyond that, I was never trained to be a teacher.  I got my job because my degree was in the 2 subjects I taught, but I had no idea how to actually TEACH.  I got a textbook and a "good luck."  I mean, I figured it out and think I did an okay job, but I never did a second year to work out the kinks.

I worked 12 hour days to come up with 2 preps.  TWO.  And it took me that long.  I thought about homeschooling and I started to cry a little bit.  How many subjects do kids learn in school?  At a bare minimum (younger grades), I was thinking about 3/grade - math, science, english/ELA.  That doesn't count any sort of extracurriculars, like music or foreign languages.  Okay, that there is 3 bare minimum preps/grade.

I have 4 kids, y'all.  Once they're all in school, that's a bare minimum of 12 preps each year.

I know, I know.  There are some AMAZING curriculums out there, so you just have to facilitate, answer questions, etc.  But the idea of being totally untrained in most of these subjects in addition to my total lack of patience just makes me feel completely inadequate for the task of homeschooling.

Plus, we live in a great school district with an AMAZING elementary school, where the principal is a believer.  We purposely picked our house because of that school.  So, there's not a whole lot of motivation for me to homeschool.  I have fantastic teachers who are trained, patient, loving, and kind who WANT to do it.  I'm totally willing to let them.

I recognize that not everyone lives in a good school district.  Some of them are downright terrible and overcrowded.  If this was our family, then I would consider homeschooling or finding a private school. But that's not where we're at now.

Part of me feels really guilty that I don't want to homeschool and spend all day long with my kids the entire year.  But I'm tired.  TIRED.  I don't think it makes me a bad mother to NOT want to homeschool.  I'm recognizing my weaknesses and strengths and doing what I think is best for my children.  I think every mother should do this.  If your weaknesses and strengths point toward homeschooling, then you should absolutely do that.  If they don't, then you should really reevaluate your motivation for doing so.  Same goes for public school and private school.  Only you know yourself and your family, and only you can make the right decisions for them, regardless of what other people think.

Pray about your situation, look at your options, and make an educated decision.  That really is the best thing we can all do for our kids.

Good luck as you begin the school year, wherever you may be :D

Friday, August 15, 2014

DIY Cake Stand for Under $20

For our vow renewal ceremony, I promised myself that I would make as much as I could by myself.  There was no budget for this, so I had to get creative.  The dress I wore?  I made it.  And I wanted to shoot something while I did it, because SATIN IS FROM THE DEVIL, I tell you!!  Satin - Satan…even it's name gives it away.  Anyhoo, this post is not about my dress.  It's about the cake stand.

I knew I wanted something for cupcakes, because let's be honest - I am NOT good at making those fancy decorated cakes.  They require a level of skill that I obviously have not mastered yet.  Royal icing cookies?  Sure!  Cookies are forgiving.  You screwed that one up?  Scrape it off and start again!  You jacked up that cake?  Well, you are out of luck, friend.  Too much stress for this girl…

What was I talking about?  Right.  Sorry.  It's late and I'm tired.  Cake stands.  I looked online, and all the ones I liked that would hold a decent amount of cupcakes were close to $100.  No budget, no thanks.  So I set my sights on Pinterest to find something that would work for us.  I found this idea.  Cover boxes in wrapping paper and stack for a cute cupcake stand!  BRILLIANT!

This proved to be a little more difficult than I thought it might be originally.  First hurdle to overcome - find the perfect size boxes.  This required a trip to the Container Store and some time spent stacking their display boxes in the aisles.  I think I made the clerk a little uncomfortable, because he kept asking if I needed help.  "No thanks, I'll be out of your hair in a second!"  My poor husband had to walk away with the kids - I think I was embarrassing him ;P

Turns out the closest I could get was a 24"x24"x6" box for the bottom (can't find a link for it - sorry!), a 16"x16"x10 1/2" box for the middle and an 8"x8"x7" box for the top.  This worked out GREAT because then I used an 8" brownie pan for the cake topper.  I think I paid about $10 total for all the boxes.  I ended up just measuring to the shortest height (6") and trimming all the boxes down with a pair of scissors because I couldn't find our box cutter :/

(On the cut-down boxes, you will have an open side.  Obviously, you will want this to be on the bottom so that you can securely stack things on top without worrying about them ripping through the paper and falling into the box.  It also makes it a little more difficult to wrap the boxes, but with a little finagling, you can work it all out.  Also, make sure that the ends of the wrapping paper are on the bottom and out of sight.)

The Container Store has THE CUTEST wrapping paper - and SO EXPENSIVE!  DEF not in my budget.  But you know what is?  Dollar Tree.  Yup, I'm classy like that.  They have big rolls of kraft paper for a dollar each in their shipping/mailing supplies section.  You know how many it took me to cover all three boxes?  ONE.  Seriously.  So I paid A DOLLAR to cover all those boxes.  Total up to $11, folks.

The edges were left looking a little funky, so I needed to cover it with something.  I found this burlap and lace table runner at Walmart for $6.  It was too wide for the depth of the boxes, so I cut it in half down the center, and it was enough to go around all three boxes and then some.  I just got out my trusty glue gun and glued one end down, then wrapped it around, (holding it very gracefully between my knees as I sat on the floor) gluing the sides as I went, folded the final edge over and glued it down.

Once they were all done, I stacked them on top of each other and put them on the table.  It turned out pretty well, I think :D

When we were done, I just ripped off the paper and burlap and tossed them.  I'm keeping the boxes for if I ever need a cupcake stand again - it could be used for birthday parties, Christmas get-togethers - I'm pretty excited about the possibilities!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vow Renewal Ceremony

Wow, it's been a whirlwind couple of weeks.  My hubby and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary on July 30th, and then he took me on a surprise trip to Key West the next day. I mean, I knew we were going somewhere, I just didn't know where.  Fortunately, my parents and in-laws were down with watching the four crazies, so we beat cheeks to the airport at 4:45 in the morning ;P

First, pics of the ceremony:

Cute little baby boutonniere :)
That face!!  He melts me :D

Love my three men :D

Can't you just tell he's trying to get into trouble??

My parents with my bookend babies :D

"Dad!!  Stop MESSING with it!!"

Me and Daddy

Someone was getting tired of all the commotion ;)

And someone else was getting tired of it all, too….D had to sit on daddy's lap during the whole thing!

My lovely tank top tan...

Our awesome pastor, who did our ceremony 

This.  This is sadly the best picture of our little family we could get ;P

Papa apparently telling D a big story.

Mmmm, Cupcakes :D

I bought these plastic wine glasses at the dollar store and this was by FAR the kids' favorite part of the whole thing!

Silly time with my baby J

And, he full on smacked me in the face, hence the goofy look I'm making.

And that's everything :D  Stay tuned for vacation pics and a tutorial on the cake stand :D

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