Friday, November 7, 2014

The jeans quilt: an update

Just a quick peak at the completed top of the jeans quilt. I'm absolutely in love with the weight and soft feel of it.

The plan is to get it pin-basted by the end of the month for my November goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes. I think it will be quite lovely all quilted up!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Teaching children to pray the rosary

One of the things we started doing this summer was working on our family prayer life. When my mom-in-law was scheduled to go in for surgery, I spotted the perfect opportunity to start family rosary time with the kids.

Sounds impressive, but I should tell you that it wasn't until just this year that I started praying the rosary every night. It took me my entire life to learn the rosary... and I'm a life-long Catholic!

It's never too late to get started, right? (How To Pray the Rosary Everyday is a great place to learn more if you're curious, even if you aren't Catholic.)

I thought we'd kick off our family rosary time with a special intention for my mom-in-law, who was scheduled to go in for surgery a few days later. After saying one decade each day, we'd make a tissue paper flower for each set of prayers we said for her. I had it all planned out, so everything would go perfectly:
  1. Line the children up at Miss C.'s bed, everyone kneeling quietly.
  2. Prayerfully say one decade of the rosary together each day.
  3. Pat myself on the back for being Super Mama.
Here's what really happened:
  1. Attempt to line up kids in a row at Miss C.'s bed. 
  2. Stress out internally (and try not to snap at the kids) as Miss C. does a kneel/flop combo over and over, Master W. squirms and whines about having to say even one Hail Mary, and Little Miss C. flops on the bed while snatching rosaries and swinging them wildly about.
  3. Pray every night for patience and grace, and thank God when each day gets a little bit easier.
In the end, it wasn't the perfect prayerful exercise I had envisioned in my head, but my two older kids were super proud of themselves when we finished. And now that we've been doing it daily for a few months, everyone is in the routine and morning rosary time goes quite smoothly most days. Now:
  1. Miss C. kneels quietly and starts us with an opening prayer.
  2. Master W. kneels quietly and proudly prays the entire decade.
  3. Little Miss C. still wildly swings the rosaries sometimes, but mostly seems content to take my extra rosary in and out of our little rosary bags.
Success! It's been a great way to help my children develop their relationship with Jesus and I just love that we start each day with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother.
As to our tissue paper flower bouquet, it turned out to be a great project! My original inspiration for the project came from Call Her Happy, where I found a link to some very easy tutorials. Miss C. wrote each set of prayers on the leaves, arranged the bouquet and picked a ribbon for the vase. My mom-in-law was very touched and still has the bouquet on display in her kitchen several months later.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Squirrelly!

This year, we had a little gray squirrel join us for trick-or-treating. Isn't she just the cutest?

Miss C. has a deep love for all things squirrel, so it was no surprise that she wanted to be one this year for Halloween. The costume was pretty easy to put together, thanks to a gray hooded sweatshirt and matching sweatpants found in the boys department at Wal Mart, and a yard of coordinating faux fur from JoAnn's.
Sewing the tail and ears mainly consisted of me winging it... and one evening later I had the perfect squirrel costume!

This was my only handmade costume this year, since Master W. found all the parts to his Batman costume in our dress-up box and Little Miss C. wore the honeybee costume worn by Miss C. several years back. Maybe next year!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Breathing new life into old jeans

I made a startling discovery a few weeks back: I'm a closet jeans hoarder. 

It all started when my husband needed new jeans for work. The jeans he'd been wearing every day were wearing thin and already had a few holes at the corners of the back pockets. So, we picked up a few new pairs and I promptly rotated the old ones into the closet as back-ups (I think I see now why I have a problem...) and too out the old back-up jeans (three pairs) thinking I should probably toss them since I couldn't imagine thrift stores wanting jeans with holes in them.

And then, since I'm easily distracted and can be rather lazy when it comes to cleaning, the old jeans sat in a pile in our bedroom for a week or so. Every day I saw them sitting there, and for some very odd reason I just couldn't bring myself to throw them away. 

Finally, it hit me: maaaayyyybe I could make a jeans quilt out of them! I knew I had a few more pairs of old jeans in the closet, so I started digging. 

I found two extremely worn and tattered pairs of mine that had holes in the knees and were completely unwearable. They were hiding on a shelf high up in my side of the closet.

Oh, and then there was that pair in my drawer that I never wear because they fit waaay too loosely in the waist.

A little more digging in the closet produced another mystery pair of jeans. What's going on here?

A quick check of my kids' closet revealed two very ratty pairs of little boy jeans, complete with patched knees, and a very old pair of little boy jean shorts. Also too ratty to wear.

So, final count (including the original three from my hubby's closet): nine pairs of jeans and one pair of jean shorts. Most completely unwearable.

What happened to me? When did I become the crazy jeans lady?

Yikes. Well, I figured this was as good a time as any to put my crazy jeans collection to work.
I spent about a week cutting each pair at the seams, then carefully rotary cutting denim rectangles to leave as little waste as possible. I even figured out that I could squeeze little more denim out of each pair if I cut up the back pockets (most of them had holes at the pockets, so I didn't want to incorporate the entire pocket into the quilt).
Now that every single pair of jeans has been sliced and diced, I'm left with a hefty stack of denim rectangles. What you see below is able half of what all of those jeans yielded. Next up, I need to pick up a denim needle so I can start piecing them into strips!
The plan is to make it into a twin-sized quilt, with a Lightning McQueen sheet that I have in our linen closet (washed, but never used) as the backing. Then, a some light straight line quilting and it will be off to our church's St. Vincent de Paul ministry so they can give it to whoever needs it most. Hopefully, it will help keep some sweet little guy warm this winter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nurturing Catholic culture in our home

Sometimes I think it's hard for adults to share our faith with friends and even family. We worry that we might offend or make someone feel uncomfortable. Heck, I've sat here at my computer for the last 10 minutes wondering how I should start this post.

Children, though, don't carry all of the worries and social filters that we do. They ask the tough questions without realizing how much they're making us squirm. They don't beat around the bush. And they aren't shy about sharing their faith and love for the Lord.
Watching Miss C. (and now Master W.) attend Catholic school these past few years has been an incredible experience for me. Intellectually, I understood the both the secular and spiritual value of a Catholic education. Heck, I attended Catholic school myself until we moved the summer before 6th grade, and eventually went on to graduate from a Catholic university. 

But it wasn't until my own children were attending Catholic school that I realized just how completely I had underestimated the true value of a Catholic education. Sure, we said prayers together at night and before meals. But in the last two years I've come to realize something about myself:

I've been running on a spiritual cruise-control for a looooong time. And it's time to get in gear.

So, here I am muddling along, trying to strengthen my own faith, teach my children about theirs, and create a home filled with Catholic culture. Here and there, I'll slip in a post about what we've been up to. I hope you enjoy a little peek into the Catholic side of my life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cars, trucks and arrow tails

I can't wait to put this cheerful little quilt in the mail! My cousin gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy nearly two weeks ago and we're all just so excited to have another little guy in the family. 
Master W. finally has a boy cousin! The two of them are still badly outnumbered with 10 girl cousins, but there's always still time to add more boys to the clan. 
This was such a fun quilt to make. I drew inspiration from the Arrow Tail quilt tutorial from Sing All You Want. I don't have a working printer so I used my Sidekick ruler, which makes the very same shape. I used up every large scrap I had, so I felt a little stricken after I sewed all of the rows together only to discover that the quilt was not quite long enough. I like my quilts to be longer than they are wide (or at least square-shaped), and I just couldn't stomach the idea of the arrows all facing the wrong way if someone held it up... so I added a strip of fabric to the top and one to the bottom to make the quilt a square. Crisis averted! At 45 x 45", it will be perfect for snuggling well into the preschool years. 
I just adore little boy prints, but never seem to know anyone having baby boys. I finally got to use up a bunch of the scraps left over from Master W.'s Traffic Cone Quilt, and I still have plenty left for another quilt down the road. 
As an added bonus, I pieced the back with large scraps and a few bigger pieces from my stash that I was at a complete loss as to how I should use them. I was never quite sure what to do with those red, blue and green prints, but I think they look perfectly at home on this quilt back.  Hooray for purging! (Have you heard about Rachel's Purge Along? This is my entry for this week's link-up.)

You can also find this quilt linked up at:




Monday, August 18, 2014

Pattern testing: Rae skirt

It's been many, many years since I've sewn an article of clothing for myself... since freshman year of high school to be exact. My mom and I wrestled a beastly teal knit into a long-sleeved princess-seamed dress. It was all very '90s, let me assure you. And no, there is no photographic evidence of said dress. 

Thank. Goodness.

I do not look back on that dress with any fondness, but every once in a while I get the urge to sew a dress or a skirt for myself. I have this fantasy wherein a design a gorgeous vintage-style dress with a fitted bodice and full skirt. You know, for everyday wear. It would be just perfect for a trip down the hall to change diapers, right?

Usually good sense ("Those women's patterns in JoAnn's are awful!" or "I hate fancy fabrics!") or budgetary constraints prevail, and I'm back to my scrappy quilts and bags and zippy pouches. A dress can be many yards of fabric... and fabric is expensive (read: I'm too thrifty to spend that kind of money on myself).

Recently, though, I had the opportunity to test the (now released) Rae skirt for Sewaholic Patterns. I've been following the Sewaholic blog for years now, and have been on the pattern testing list for quite some time but never saw the right pattern testing opportunity come up until just a few months back when Tasia put out a call for ladies who wanted to test out a beginner's skirt pattern.

I emailed her back right away with all of my info (size, sewing experience, etc.) and waited eagerly to see if I'd be one of the lucky few to be chosen. Of course, then reality set in and I realized that I'd just volunteered to test a skirt pattern designed for pear-shaped women. And I'm not pear-shaped. At all. Somehow or another, in my excitement I'd completely forgotten that all Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear-shaped ladies.

Hmmm...

I was excited, yet a little scared when I discovered that I'd been chosen as a pattern tester. Would it look terrible on me? Was I about to waste money on fabric only to make something that would look terrible on my figure?

I hauled myself out to JoAnn's, busted out my coupons and chose this pretty floral print from the apparel section. I'm not sure what it is... maybe some sort of faux-linen? It drapes well and is quite breathable, so I like it. Whatever it is.
I ended up sewing View C, which is a fuller, longer version of the skirt. The waistband is a simple elastic casing and the entire skirt only used two pattern pieces. The skirt came together in a couple of evenings (this would probably take less time to more experienced garment-sewists) and I have to admit that I was completely wrong to be afraid.

I love it! It may have been designed with pear-shaped ladies in mind, but I'm a little bit more straight-up-and-down and it works just fine on my shape. I really, really love it and can't wait to make another... when I can convince myself to splurge on fabric again. Maybe something for fall!