Shirred Pocket Skirt

I’m VERY excited to bring a new series of posts called “3 yards, 3 outfits” involving some awesome fabric that I found at JoAnn Fabrics.  This whole idea started when I was browsing through the store, trying to find an adult patterned fabric to make myself an outfit.  I don’t often buy myself clothes.  I overly obsess about my children’s wardrobe and all the cute things they get to wear.  Meanwhile, I still have shirts from my high school days.  I love looking on pinterest at the outfits people pin, and I know my wardrobe contains almost nothing in comparison.  I don’t have matching bracelets that go with my shoes or that cute pair of jeans with that slimming top that can go from office to party with just an added accessory or two.  I’m happy when I get out of the house with my hair brushed some days.

Anyways, I bought 3 yards of this very cute fabric, and I’m going to attempt to make 3 outfits (although, I am still a mom…so of course 2 of the outfits are for my girls).

I wanted to start this sewing series with something for me.  I promise for anyone who wants to make something for their child…it’s coming.  But today, momma wants a new skirt.  I love the clothing from Anthropologie.  They always seem to have flowy clothes that are really comfortable but at the same time beautiful.  I saw this skirt that has pockets and fell in love with the ease of it (although not a huge fan of the pattern or the prices from this place as most of their skirts are over $100.)  I’m a huge fan of pockets because I always carry my phone with me, but my littlest is in her “always wants to be held” phase, leaving me without a hand to do anything else.  It also has shirring at the waistband, which 1)makes it super comfortable and 2)I’ve always wanted to try on my sewing machine.  So this is my first uncharted territory project!  So let’s start!

me in my shirred skirt

This is what I used for this project:

– 1 1/2 yard of the fabric of your choice

-matching thread

-shirring thread

-elastic (either 3/8″ or 1/2″…I used 1/2″ because I have a ton of it)

*OPTIONAL* bias tape (double fold) in either matching or contrasting color (I personally LOVE this skirt with bias tape so I recommend it)

MEASUREMENT MATH:

To get the width of your skirt you have to do a little math, but I promise it won’t be hard:

Measure around your hip (mine was 28 inches) x 1.75 = the width of the skirt before it is shirred (I got 49 inches)

Now divide that number by two because you are going to cut out two pieces 49 / 2 = 24.5 inches

I’m going to make a skirt that’s approximately 19 inches finished, so I’m going to cut the length of the fabric to 21 inches.

Also, if I haven’t said this enough, I don’t like to buy patterns.  If it’s an easy outfit, I find it simple to eyeball a lot of it with a little extra fabric to play with if I didn’t quite get it right the first time, so here is what you do for the pockets (I’ll just label this Pattern Part A):

  • Get 2 pieces of paper and tape them together so that it’s longer not wider
  • put your hand on the paper up to almost your elbow with your thumb out (unless you are going for a much shorter skirt, in which you would measure to the middle of your arm)
  • trace around your hand  allowing a good inch or so for what will be a seam allowance – once you get to your thumb, just go across and don’t trace around your wrist (you really only need a half inch because you are using the thumb part in your side seam, but it’s okay if it’s more).

    Pattern Part A

CUTTING TIME:

  • Cut 2 rectangles 21″ (height of skirt) by 24.5″ (width of skirt)

    my awesome fabric cut in 2 pieces 22″ by 24.5″

  • 4 pocket pieces (I just folded my fabric in half and cut twice – this will give you both pocket sides)

So you have all the fabric you will need.  Now it’s time to get this skirt started!

Once I’ve cut my pockets, I take the same pocket “pattern” and do a little altering to it to give me a pattern for the holes of the pockets.  Take you hand on the corner of the pocket and trace your hand in a curved line.  You want to make sure your hand fits in your pocket, so this is why I don’t use a set pattern.  I called this Pattern Part B.  Cut out that piece of your pattern.

Cut out pocket opening pattern

Now make two cuts on one side of your rectangles (this will be the front of your skirt).

front fabric piece with pocket holes cut out

Next, cut the pocket holes out of two of the pocket pieces.  I make sure I have the pockets semi assembled (making sure the patterns are facing each other)  so I don’t cut the wrong pieces.

Pockets with Pattern Part B cut out of front for pocket hole

Cutting is done!

SEWING TIME:

  1. Pin then sew the pockets together first.  Make sure that the patterns are facing each other.  Sew along the edge like shown in the picture.  Finish with a zigzag stitch to make the pockets reinforced.
  2. Now pin and sew the pockets to the front of the dress.  I’m using bias tape, so I’m not worrying about the edge.  If you aren’t using bias tape, you need to flip the pockets and front of dress.  Here are pictures of both ways:

    pinned for bias tape

    pinned for without bias tape

  3. Then I pinned the bias tape and sewed the double fold bias tape around the pocket seams.

    finished pocket edge with bias tape

  4. Baste the pockets so that it lays flat and doesn’t come apart when you are doing next steps.
  5. I hemmed my dress on the bottom with bias tape for a little “decoration.”  I really like how this looks, and then I don’t have to deal with a rolled hem.  I did this before putting the two rectangles together.  It makes it a lot easier, believe me.
  6. Put the two rectangles together (nice sides facing in) and sew side seams with a 1/2″ seam allowance and then zigzag stitch for reinforcement.
  7. Sew top of skirt for your elastic.  Do this by creating a rolled hem (I’ve explained it in a previous tutorial for a pillowcase dress I made) large enough to fit your elastic band (mine is 1/2″ elastic so I created a 3/4″ space and then hem 1/4″ from the edge to create a 5/8″ hole for my elastic.  Make sure to leave a 1 to 2″ hole to thread the elastic through.
  8. Shirred waistband (I’m excited to try this part so I’m going to go into this more in depth)

SHIRRED WAISTBAND:

I was very interested in learning how to sew a shirred waistband (or just shirr in general).  I looked up a ton of tutorials, and it seems super easy.  So here are the steps:

  1. ELASTIC THREAD! This is the main “ingredient” in shirring.  You can find it in the notions section in a little package.

    elastic thread

  2. Wind the bobbin.  You have to do this by hand because…well, you do.  I am not sure why, but everyone said to do it.  I can assume one of two things.  Either your machine can’t do it because the thread is much thicker than normal thread or if your machine can wind it for you, it will be too stretched out and not work when you are sewing it.  So unfortunately, we do it by hand.  You want to wind it without stretching it a lot because when you are sewing, it will naturally stretch.
  3. Keep the normal thread on the top and use the elastic on the bottom (so you will only see the elastic on one side).  Make sure you sew with the the elastic on the back, though!

    elastic thread wound on bobbin in machine

    shirring fabric (note: elastic thread on underside of fabric with regular thread on top)

  4. Do not change the tension on your machine!  Step away from the tension!  It will be fine.
  5. I increased my stitch length up a bit.  I think it’d be a little easier to sew when it’s around a 3.0 or so.
  6. Shirr in a spiral for waistbands.  The nice thing about it being a skirt already is that you can keep going around and around without stopping and starting over and over again!  Start at the top, just below the elastic casing.  Use that edge as a guideline and keep each row about 1/4″ apart (I like to use the edge on my presser foot as my guide).
  7. Sew approximately 8-10 rows
  8. Finish sewing like normal (at a side seam preferably)

    nice side of shirred fabric with 8 rows 1/4″ apart

    wrong side of fabric with shirring (you can see elastic thread on this side)

Insert the elastic.  Measure elastic to what your waist measurement was from above (mine was 28).  Give yourself an extra inch for sewing them together.  So I cut my elastic to 29″.  I used a safety pin to thread my elastic through the whole in the top, above the shirred waistband, making sure that I held on to the end of the elastic so it didn’t get lost in the hole.  Once you’ve gotten through the hold and are holding both ends of the elastic, sew them together.  Now sew the hole shut.

elastic fed through hole with safety pin

DONE!  It seemed like a lot of instructions, but it didn’t take very long to make.  I have a feeling I will be making a lot of these.  If not for me, than for friends or family (or my little kiddos).  I had fun shirring as well!  I have a feeling there will be some more shirring tutorials in my future!  I hope you all found my instructions easy to understand because not only is this able to give you the freedom to pick a patterned fabric that you love, I saved about $90 making this myself!

“Fourth of July” Layered Cake

Another holiday is coming up…Independence Day!

We have always celebrated the fourth of July by going down to the lake at night and watching the fireworks and having a cookout with friends or family. This year, I wanted to do something special to celebrate. I saw this cake on a blog called 17 and Baking. I liked the original idea of the cake, but I wanted to change it up a bit.

**DISCLAIMER** I, by no means, am a professional baker. I know I said this when I made my Tangled Tower Cake, but I just want to make everyone aware that you don’t need to be a fancy baker to do what I’m going to do. I don’t have any fancy tools. I make do with what I have in my house.

Here is the finished product:

Finished Flag Cake

ITEMS NEEDED:

  • 9 inch baking pan (4 would be best, but if you don’t have that many, just reuse the ones you have…it’ll just take a little longer…that’s what I did)
  • 2 boxed packages of white cake
  • 3 standard tubs of white frosting
  • long piece of string/floss
  • food coloring

Time to bake! I mixed up the first box of white cake. I added red food coloring. I used TONS of food coloring, but it seemed to stay a little pink. I have never worked with red velvet cake, so I didn’t want to start now. Maybe this would provide a more red color, but I think my red turned out okay. I divided the batter into two 9 inch baking pans and baked as directed on the package. TIP: I spray the pans with cooking spray and dust with flour to make it easier on myself to get it out of the pan once cooked.

Once out of the oven, I cooled it and took it out of the pan.

In the second box I mixed, I split into two bowls, and mixed one with blue food coloring and and the other with red.

3 red pans, 1 blue

I then wrapped all of the cakes in saran wrap and put them in the fridge to really cool off. I left mine overnight because I didn’t have time to do this all in one sitting. Gotta love being a busy mom!

Once out of the refrigerator, I had to cut the red cakes in half (so I had a total of 6 red layers). Instead of spending money on a cake cutter that I would most likely never use again, I learned a little trick from my mother.

  • Take a piece of string or floss
  • Carefully wrap the string around the cake, making sure to be in the middle and even around the cake
  • Cross the string

    Crossing the string

  • Pull evenly as if you were tightening a knot (don’t worry if you feel like you are smushing the cake, you won’t)
  • Once it has gone through the whole cake, just pull the string out from one side
  • It’s cut evenly!

    cut layers

Now it’s time to cut the blue cake! For this I used one of my coffee mugs that happened to be about 4 inches in diameter. If you have a round cookie cutter that size, it would work as well. I put the cup on the edge of the cake so that I could get two circles out of one cake. I just cut around using the cup as a template.

cup for circle template

Next I needed to cut a hole in the red cakes to make room for the blue circle insert. I placed the cut blue cake in the middle of the top of the 3 layers that I needed to cut. I then just cut around the blue cake as a template, making sure to go through all 3 layers.

cutting 3 layers of red for blue insert

ICING TIME!

Do 3 layers of red cake with white frosting in between. The thicker the better to get more even looking “stripes,” but I used 3 regular tubs of frosting, and I didn’t put a super thick layer in between because I knew this thing was going to be sweet already.

red layers with white frosting in between

Once I finished 3 layers, I layered the next 3 with the hole in the middle. I put the blue cake in the middle so that I didn’t over frost and not leave enough space for the cake to be inserted later. I just put both blue circles together with a REALLY small amount of frosting to more or less “glue” them together.

layering with blue cake in middle

When I finished all 6 layers, there was a small amount of blue sticking out at the top. I just used the string again to even it all out.

all layers on with blue in middle

Then I just frosted the entire cake with the white frosting. Like the other blogger did with her cake, I just left it plain and white. I like the idea of not decorating the outside since the inside is what is special about the cake.

frosted cake

As far as difficulty in creating this cake, I think it was actually quite simple. The main thing to remember is to keep the cakes cool so frosting it is easier.

Cutting a piece of this cake is the best part!

cutting the cake!

piece of the flag cake

I hope this is as big of a hit at our holiday get together as it is to me. And if it isn’t…I get a 6 layer cake all to myself!

Just TRI it!

Over the weekend, I was not as active in my sewing adventures because I had an extremely busy weekend filled with everything TRIATHLON!  How and why would someone do a triathlon?  Well, I’m glad you asked…

Finishing my triathlon with my prima ballerina cheering me on at the bottom

After I had my first beautiful daughter, my sister and I started to embark on fun little activities as a sort of challenge to ourselves and a bonding experience.  We used to run in the Firecracker 5k every year as a tradition, but never really trained for anything beyond that.  I have no idea why, but I said one winter that I’d love to do a triathlon and my sister agreed (I’m not sure if it was reluctantly or not, but I don’t think she was mutually excited).  We joined the local YMCA and found a beginners triathlon class for the biking and the swimming.  We were going to take this course for 8 weeks and then go on our own.  Why would we need to keep taking classes?

We asked questions from the other attendants in the class and the instructor.  Then we started talking about everyone’s lives, every day activities, etc.  Something odd started happening…friendships!  I enjoyed going to class every week to talk with these people. 

They talked my sister into a half marathon.  I thought, well that’s silly.  Who would run 13.1 miles?  I went to cheer everyone on and had such a great time, admittedly a little jealous that she achieved this awesome goal while I sat and watched.  We were hooked into this group and stayed in the class.

Daily I went home, telling my hubby about the people in the classes, the next events, and the conversations that left a certain VERY UNDERSTANDING man biting his lip on several occassions in what I can only think of as embarassing to listen to (women – if you have ever cycled, you know what I’m talking about).  My hubby kept hearing about these people and decided to join in on the next Firecracker 5k that the group did.  All these people who only really knew him as my husband, now supported his journey from the sidelines to the finish line.

Then finally came my day.  My FIRST triathlon.  I was nervous.  Swimming half a mile, biking 12 miles, and running 3.1 miles.  My sister ended up unable to compete, but she came at the crack of dawn, along with my cheering section, to wish me luck.

some of my cheering section

I FINISHED! 

I ended up doing 3 triathlons that year, 1 last year, and will do 2 this year.

Triathlon Group-Kenosha

More than that, though, I made AMAZING friends in all of this.  2 1/2 years later, a great deal has changed in my life.  That triathlon class has turned into a terrific group that supports all sorts of activities called Triathlon Group-Kenosha. My husband has turned from a person that thought anyone doing more than a 5k was crazy, to running in marathons and completed his first triathlon last year!  I kept up exercising throughout my second pregnancy (which I definitely did not do with my first) and had my second child, got back into training, and completed the Chicago Marathon 5 months after having her.  Yes, me, who thought my sister was silly for running half of that only a year earlier…  And now someone that is a crafting machine that started her own little business.

I am so grateful for people in my life now.  They have pushed me to becoming someone I never thought I would be or COULD be.  Someone who can TRI!  If it’s a race or a sewing project, I’ve learned that anything in life is possible, if you just TRY.

Summer Fun

Summer is finally here! 

While I love the holidays (even my birthday is on a holiday in the fall – Halloween!), my favorite season is the summer.  Pools, fresh air, running outside, gardening, picnics…oh the list is endless. 

To celebrate my favorite season, I made an adorable “Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” onesie for my littlest lady bug.  Hopefully I’ll get some cute pictures of her in it this weekend.  I’m not holding out much hope, though, because she is quite the stinker when it comes to taking pictures.  She’s completely opposite of my prima ballerina, who like a moth to a flame when it comes to cameras.

Well here it is…

Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

Also, I wanted to share a little photo of my girls and I at a run this past weekend.  You can kinda see my little one in a minnie mouse inspired bikini onesie…but of course she is camera shy.  It was so amazing to be outside in the sun, running with so many of my friends, enjoying the great weather.  I seriously need to move to a warmer climate…

My girls and me relaxing in the sun

Happy Summer!  I’m going to get the most of out it, because in Wisconsin the saying goes, “don’t like the weather?  Wait a minute cuz it will change.”

Boy, Oh Boy!

At my little shop Bobbin’ Along, I had been getting many comments such as “Your stuff is so cute.  I have a boy, otherwise I’d be all over these tutus!”  I was starting to feel bad for my audience that felt that they couldn’t enjoy my shop because they had a boy.  I have my two girls, so it’s easy for me to overlook the boys.

One of my favorite thing about little boys is when they dress up for special occasions.  To see them in a little tie or vest makes me want to run to my hubby, asking him to agree to trying for a boy.  Luckily, some of my best friends have been having boys lately, so I’m able to get my fix of babies without our household getting more overwhelmed than it already has gotten.

I love ties and suspenders for boys, but I know how difficult it is to dress up little babies that either get too hot or take off all their layers.  That’s why you can have the best of both worlds with these tie shirts!  I have a lot of different variations, but I wanted to share a couple of shirts to give you a peek.  Hopefully this is the start of a bigger line of boys’ stuff!

Charitable Crafting

I love to craft to save money on things that I find online or in the stores that I know I could do just as well for less money.  I’ve crafted so many things from Halloween costumes to Christmas Stockings to Birthday Cakes and lots of things in between.  I do this because I’m not a millionaire, but I don’t want to live like a pauper.  I am even known to have my moments of “extreme couponing.”

One of the things that I always feel I could do more is giving to charity.  If I had the money, I would like to help so many causes.  I do donate used things to Goodwill throughout the year, but I’m always looking for new ways to give.

Then I found A Heart to Holdfrom ahearttohold.comA Heart to Hold is an amazing 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to “offer comfort to families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss by creating and sharing the gift of a weighted handmade heart.”  Losing a child is something that a parent should never have to experience.  The heart is to help those families find a little peace in such a difficult time.

I know many people who have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss.  Their Hearts from Afar program not only offers people like me the opportunity to give something meaningful without taking a huge chunk out of our bank accounts, but it also helps people heal from their loss.

Abi Crouch, founder of A Heart to Hold, says, “I believe that there is healing in helping, and our Hearts from Afar program and our local workshops were created to provide the opportunity for people who have been affected by pregnancy or infant loss to be a part of another family’s healing by sewing or filling a heart for them.  One of the things that allows A Heart to Hold to fulfill our mission is the help of our Hearts from Afar sewers.  Having the hearts that they have sewn allows us to fill and ship hearts to waiting families faster.  We are so grateful for their support and love getting packages of hearts made with fun fabrics from them.”

That being said, I’d like to share my experience in the simple tutorial of making a heart to show others that crafting can be charitable!

I received the pattern for various sized hearts to create from emailing heartsfromafar@ahearttohold.com

Abi stated that they have a large request for their extra small-sized hearts, so I decided to make that.  The instructions on specific fabric choices are well explained, and I went to the fabric store and decided on a neutral pattern in fleece to meet the need of any gender child. Note: They ask for specific washing instructions of the fabric prior to sewing of unscented detergent and dry without a dryer sheet.

I downloaded the PDF pattern, printed it out on regular printer paper, cut and taped it together.

Printed extra small heart template on 2 pieces of printer paper

heart pattern cut and taped together

When the fabric came out of the dryer, I pressed it and folded it in half, selvage to selvage (not the cut side). I folded it so the “nice side” faced in (a tip to finding the “nice” side is looking at the selvage.  If there are printed words on the selvage, you can read it on the “nice” side).

fabric folded, selvage to selvage

I then pinned the pattern to my fabric and cut, giving me 2 hearts.

heart pinned to fabric and cutting started

Keeping the nice sides facing each other, I sewed the two hearts together using a 1/4″ seam allowance, making sure to leave the part of the pattern that says “open” unstitched so that they are able to fill it later.

unstitched opening in heart

They ask to not flip the pillow so the nice sides face out to make it easier for them to store and fill.

Sewn heart

Now I’m done and ready to mail!  I made a couple of hearts since I had my sewing machine all set up and could quickly make many of them.  I feel so great about using my crafting for something bigger than myself.  I hope to do many of these to give to those dealing with the loss of their children.  I think this charity is a great example of a support system to help those in need that isn’t about how much money you give but rather how much heart.

I have also decided to donate one heart for every order that I receive in the month of June from my shop Bobbin’ Along.  This way, if crafting isn’t your skill, you can still give.  I urge you all to use your own skills to help others in need.  As you can see from my experience, just a little time and effort goes a long way to make a difference in a person’s life.

To find a workshop or request patterns to help this charity, go to http://www.aHearttoHold.com or find them on Facebook.

New Month, New Goals

It’s June 1st!  I am a person to make new years resolutions and stick to them for a whole 2 days before deciding that those resolutions aren’t smart.  If you want to do something like “get in shape” or “save more money,” you shouldn’t need to wait for January 1st to start.  Start now!  I was on an extremely strict “diet” during April in order to train for my first half marathon.  I felt amazing.  My friends and I actually ran in tutus from my shop Bobbin’ Along.

Then after my race, I didn’t have a huge goal to continue to strive to keep up the diet.

So earlier this week, I brought up to some people an idea to get back into a little healthier habits that I had lost in the month of May.  I am hoping others will join in on my fun experiment and start being healthier with me!  I do have a triathlon coming up in 3 weeks, so I’m hoping this will kick my butt into gear to start actively training for it.  The rules are SUPER simple.  There is no excuse to not do this.  So let’s do it!!

Here are the 2 (yes only 2!) rules:

Drink 8 glasses of water a day.  One simple tip would be to drink one glass (8 ounces) an hour during work.  If you don’t have a 9-5 job or on the weekends, go about your daily routines, but drink a glass of water before certain activities.  This weekend I will have to do my laundry.  I’m going to drink a glass of water before loading my washing machine (and since I have about 10 loads to do, I will quickly reach my 8 glasses goal!).

Now that you are drinking more water, more frequent trips to the bathroom are inevitable.  This is the only other rule!  Do a SHORT and EASY workout during each bathroom trip during the day.  I have a couple of easy “circuit” workouts to get your body moving in the right direction.  Please feel free to add/subtract different workouts.  If you have some to add, let me know!  I’d love to spice up my workout breaks.

  • 20 squats
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • lunges back to your desk (or from the bathroom to wherever you were coming from)
  • wall sits (count to 30)
  • 20 wall push ups (or real push ups, but I’m giving easy alternatives for those that don’t generally workout a lot)
  • 20 sit ups
  • balance on one leg for 30 seconds

Please note that these don’t have to be hard mini workouts.  If you can’t do that many, that’s fine.  Any amount is better than nothing!  The goal is to do this for the entire month of June.  If it goes past that, AWESOME!  It’s something so simple that should be easy to fit into anyone’s busy life, and believe me, I’m busy.  If I can do it, so can you!

Good luck, and let me know if you are doing it and what works or doesn’t work for you!