Hand Printing Canvas Totes

I found myself in great need of totes this summer. I needed one to take with me to church. I really needed one that could safely and properly contain the 2029 books we check out from the library every couple weeks. I needed one that would fit all our ridiculous swim junk .  So a few months ago I got some duck cloth at TwinkleAnn for pennies and whipped these bad boys up. Then I pulled out my fabric paints and did some mighty fine printing.

This tote I used a wood mounted lino block that I carved into this zinnia flower design.

Mad Mim printed canvas tote

mad mim wood mounted lino block carved like a zinnia for printing

This chevron striped beauty is my new library bag. I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but I basically just used my quilt ruler to mark the zig-zags, and then masking tape to mark it off and paint.

mad mim hand printed chevron striped canvas tote

And this last one my little gal helped me make.  I REALIZE that for a pool bag it looks an awful like there’s snowflakes on it, but it was an easy potato-stamp design, and  I’m a big fan of giving your children lots of opportunities to help make things we actually use. They feel so important!

Remember: not snowflakes. Cool/easy potato-stamp design.

mad mim potato stamped canvas tote

Mad mim potato stamp

I’m happy to say that our need for sturdy canvas totes has been filled. We can now travel to our destinations transferring the necessary junk with ease.

Nautical Elastic Waist Skirt

I joined the summer-skirt-bandwagon, and made one of these  pretties. It’s fun. Comfy. Has pockets. It fits the summer skirt bill. I used Susan’s Elastic Waist Skirt Tutorial, and I liked it. A lot.

I got this crazy nautical-ISH fabric at Twinkleann’s, surprisingly, in the red-tag section.  I’ve been meaning to whip up some more, but the summer has left me behind like a fat-kid in P.E.

Maybe it will be a warm Fall…

Mad Mim elastic waist skirt

Trash to Treasure: The Muumuu

Inspired by one of my favorite bloggers Melissa from IS-LY, who really knows what it means to breathe new life into the hopelessly unwearable, I had vision when I saw this colorful muumuu at DI. I straight up confess that I considered buying this as-is because my heart yearns for a long nightgown. But I’m a sucker for that ethnic-looking flower print, and quickly realized I wanted it to be a dress.

refashioning a muumuuOk, so this is probably the crappiest Before picture ever, but I couldn’t stop laughing, or get the Boy to move. It was ENORMOUS–I could have fit three of me in there with ease.

Refashioning a muumuu AFTER

And After.

refashioning a muumuu After shot, back

Check out that back design!

refashioning a muumuu after shot, side

I was just going to take it in and throw on a belt, but I discovered that because it was so gathered in the front and back, the belt solution was looking pretty poofy and bulky. I opted to sew ribbon down to the box pleats giving  it a waist as well as ties on the sides. In addition to the ribbon, I ended up taking the body in probably 6 inches on either side, the sleeves a good 3 as well as added a cuff, and then obviously shortened it.

A woman at church yesterday said that she loved the East Indonesian feel of the fabric as she discretely tucked in my tag that was flipped out on the back. The tag of this dress says it all: “The Woman Within.”

Summer Floral Dress

What do you think of this summery floral dress I made?

Making your own clothes - floral dress

I like the pockets, and I definitely like it better with few additions i.e. the belt, etc. I was unsure about the fabric when I bought it, and I’m still not completely decided, but I do like it better as a dress, than I did as just yardage…

Making Crayons (sort of)

You know all those dang crayon nubbins that you find ALL over the house, that drive you insane, and usually you just throw them away? I support you in that. But maybe if you’re feeling ambitious one day you can resurrect them like we did yesterday. This was a great activity for my older toddler (and kind of a nightmare for my younger one).  She loved peeling off the paper, and sorting all the crayons by color. And her mind was completely blown when I put them in the oven. I can only imagine what she may have thought….crayon muffins wha??!?!

We peeled the paper off, sorted by color, baked @ 350 for 10 minutes, and then let completely cool before we peeled the liner away. The liners make the crayons have corrugated edges which are really cool to color with! Try it! Or just throw them away. Both favorites.

making crayons-put them in a muffin tin making your own crayons making your own crayons

Sewing Summer T-shirts

My husband, bless his heart, did laundry the other day, and MAY or may not  have bleached two of my favorite  shirts. I told him his bad meant two new shirts for me. I was going to just buy some, but I never get to (loathe) the mall, and there I was in Hancock’s the other day, getting my swimsuit fabric, and I spied a couple tissue knits for cheap-99.

Some people ask me if it’s worth it to make my own clothes. Yep. First of all, it’s cheaper. But more than that, and most importantly, I like to sew. I enjoy it. And these were all fast, easy projects–just the kind I like.  I spent $9 on fabric for my two shirts, and J’s shirt and leggings.  The other day I noticed that I’ve sewn more than half the shirts in my closet. That feels good in a really nerd-crafty way. You can read ALL about t-shirts in my MANY posts about sewing, embellishing and designing t-shirts.

I got the idea for this shirt from my adorable sewing student Holly. She showed my a picture off her phone of a shirt that she’d seen in Nordstroms (I think?) for like a million dollars. Seriously. One. Million. Dollars.  I didn’t do as many hanging pleats, but the effect is the same. What do you think, Holly?

making an embellished t-shirt

making an embellished t-shirt-hanging pleats

making an embellished t-shirt hangin pleated shirt

And I may have gotten carried away with yo yos on this tee, but I was in the groove  (I made a pillow for my bed recently with a ton of yo yos–I’ll show ya’ll soon). Hoorah  yo-yos!!!

making an embellished t-shirt the yo yo t-shirt

making an embellished t-shirt the yo yo t-shirt

And I always have enough fabric left to squeak  a little something out  for J. She got a pair of leggins (a little on the short side).

using leftover fabric for child's leggings

And a shirt. I used one that her Grandma gave her for her birthday as a pattern.

Love that belly.

using leftover fabric for a child's t-shirt

using leftover fabric for a child's t-shirt

Sewing a swimsuit! I can check it off my life-goals list!

Sewing a swimsuit wasn’t that hard! It wasn’t the beast I thought it would be (a mere house cat I’d say) and I’m really happy with my suit.  There were a couple suits that I had been eyeballing (this Landsend suit, and this suit  from Urban Outfitters (LOVE those buttons!!)), but for one reason or another I was worried they wouldn’t fit like I wanted–maybe squeeze my thunder-thighs, or not have enough support for the chesties. You know, the usual bathing-suit heartache. We all suffer from it, with the exception maybe of Martha who enjoys a perfect body.  I’ve always wanted to know how to sew a swimsuit (it was an official lifegoal), and I decided it was do or die. After kicking around the web a little I found that Kwiksew is really the only company (that I could find) still producing swimsuit patterns, and apparently they’re true to size and good patterns. I would have bought one despite they’re hefty 15-17$ price tag, had I not scored three different vintage swimsuit patterns at DI.   I ended up BASING my suit off this beauty.   As you can see I altered the bejeezle out of it and made it a tankini (although there’s nothing “ini” about it–that sucker is LONG). It ended up fitting just like the above mentioned Landsend swimming suit. I bought my fabric from Hancock’s Fabrics— it is a spandex/lycra blend which I’m hoping but not holding my breath that it will hold up nicely.

I got my fabric, lining, elastic, bra cups and thread for about 25$, making this sewing endeavor MUCH cheaper than buying a new swimsuit.

simplicity swimsuit pattern 9210 homemade swimsuit, front view homemade swimsuit view back homemade swimsuit, ruched side view how to sew a swimsuit view buttons

Most of you will be extremely grateful that I haven’t posted pictures of myself IN the suit, and some of you are kinda disappointed because you’re curious to see how much cottage-cheese I have.  A LOT.  Which is precisely why there’s no chance in Holy Whoville that I’m getting in my swimsuit in front of ya’ll.  Sorry. Don’t even ask.


First of all, there’s a great rundown on swimsuit fabric and selection here at True Up.

Creative Chicks has some SUPER  informative tutorials that are a must read if you want to sew up your own suit.

Sew Forth Now has a really thorough podcast and article (or episode) about sewing swimswimwear that was for me, the most informative.

And Right Sides Together has a post about inserting a bra into your swimsuit for good support, and here’s another one I found on craftstylish.com.

The only thing I would add to the above wealth-of-knowledge on how to sew a swimsuit is my experience with inserting  bra cups. I sewed a shelf-bra from the lining, and inserted these bra cups from Twinkleann’s. (I actually pinned the cups on, then draped the lining over, pinned the lining to the cups, and then removed the whole thing, sewed the cups to the lining-bra,  and attached it to the suit) Because the shelf-bra has elastic on the bottom edge, I thought the back piece of the suit would counter the pull of the elastic from the bra, and stretch around me nicely (This was the method used in one of the very vintage patterns my sister gave me). The elastic pulled, but the bra cups couldn’t find me, and sort of just left me hangin’. So IMPORTANT ALTERATION, I inserted elastic around the back at the point where the bra enters the side seams, creating a bra. That did the trick, and really, it provides great support. Next time I’m going to try these swim cup inserts from Sew Sassy, which by the way, is a great place if you want to get all your stuff in one stop.

how to sew a swimsuit, shelf bra with swim bra inserts how to sew a swimsuit, elastic around the back of swim bra inserts

I also added ruching to the sides of my swimsuit, because I feel it covers and flatters my I’ve-had-two-kids-tummy. If ya’ll want to know how I did that I might post a legit tutorial, but here’s the basic method: You sew normal 5/8 seams down the side with a stretch stitch (no overlocking, I used a slight zigzag). Then secure two pieces of 1/4 inch swim elastic (the length you want you suit to end up) on either side of this seam, under the allowance on either side, on the top side edges. Press the seams open, and stitch both sides down, creating two little casings (make sure to leave a small opening at the top for your elastic to go through). Fish the elastic down, and then secure on the bottom edge. Finish the edges normally.  If your swimsuit is longer than your elastic, the elastic will gather the suit, and you’ll have some lovely ruched sides.

how to sew a swimsuit- ruching on the sides

So now you all want to try to sew a swimsuit, don’t you!? You should! Because you’re hot! And you’ll rock a homemade suit!  And show me when you do, eh?

Sewing for Sweet Sixteen

My lovely little sister just turned sixteen. And folks, of all the sixteenagers out there, she’s got to be the sweetest. For her birthday I wanted her to have a dress that she felt pretty and special in.  I gotta say in all seriousness, I myself was a pretty miserable sixteen-year-old.  I suffered from a low-self esteem and acne. Ughg. Don’t wanna think about it. Anyway.  Sixteen was a real rough year for me, and all I want for my sweet sister is the complete opposite. Sope, I think you’re real great. Really wonderful. Your dress turned out ALMOST as sweet and classic and lovely as you.

I used this Butterick pattern, although I raised the neckline a good three inches, extended the  darts, added different sleeves, changed and then embellished the waistband and added some flowery frippery to the neckline.

sewing a dress

sewing a dress-embellishment sewing a dress-embellishing waistband sewing a dress

Reduction and Project Finish-it

My life has been somewhat consumed these past few weeks with De-cluttering. De-cluttering, De-junking, not so much re-organizing as re-DUCING. For one of my church activities, I was asked to teach a small class on the subject, and was given a handful of books to draw from. After reading this book, I’ll never be the same again. Changed my life. Hopefully. I thought I knew how to dejunk–I always have a box of junk I’m filling up, and I drop stuff at DI every month at least. But there were principles in this book that were a complete revelation to me. You mean I can get rid of that?! It’s been completely liberating, and really, I haven’t felt this clean and happy since I was baptized! I went into maniac-dejunking mode for like two weeks (I threw out more than half my clothes and shoes, and have a mountain of stuff I’m getting rid of to prove it.  I got a little burnt out though, so I now I decided I’m just going to go through one small area at a time. Nothing huge or overwhelming, just one little bite of the fatty elephant each day.

In my de-cluttering travels I’ve come across more than a few unfinished projects. I decided that rather than put them off some more, I’m going to finish the projects NOW, or throw them out. And I’ve also decided I’m not going to spend a dime on new fabric or materials for ANY project until I finish everything I’ve already got. Man, that seems hard for me even to write. But I’m gonna give it my besty. Really.

Here is my fabric stash after I tossed three bags-full, and folded them all uniformly(using this method). My OCD friends (no names Rachel), will probably be bothered that they aren’t organized by color, and actually it bugs me too, but I didn’t think of til later, and I was too exhausted to go back through them at that point. So, just look away and take a deep breath.

My fabric collection My fabric collection nice and folded

Bored of non-crafty posts? Me too! Stay tuned for some PROjects!

Research as Art

So most of the time when my husband attempts to explain to me his research or something he’s learning, I valiantly attempt to understand generally, very generally, maybe marginally, what he’s getting at. So the other day when he wanted me to come look at some images of his research, I braced myself for more of this…internal struggle I have to understand his big fat math-head. But this time, I was like, COOL.  The images are so modern-looking, and before I attempted to understand what the images mean, I envisioned some cool, pertinent , modern art for my husband’s office space. But the pretty colors seduced me into earnestly trying to understand what he was explaining to me. It’s something about the fracture toughness (his research) and the different fragments within  steel, and the iron molecules are on different angles and so they show a different color. He was very clear on the fact that the variation within the images wasn’t caused by the way they cooled the iron (in oil, or slowly) but I think he really means it was INDIRECTLY caused my that. But…you know, I’m exhausted after my attempt to explain that to you, and I’m sure he’ll totally laugh me into scorn when he reads my pathetic interpretation, but whatever—aren’t they pretty?

Big fragments - high air temperature Scratched-Air-Low_Temp Oil-High_Temp

Fabric Soccer Ball

What’s more appealing to play with than a brightly colored soft fabric soccer ball if you’re a small little man? I can’t think of a single thing, truthfully.

This For Kicks Patchwork Ball from Anna Maria Horner‘s Seams to Me looked a little intimidating or at least annoying to make at first, but once I started it was quick work. It was a fun way to use some of my scraps, and really the most annoying part was just cutting out all the shapes (as is the case with any quilt project).  And my little guy loves it. He’s just at that stage where balls of any shape or size really rock his world.

File Aug 16, 3 40 56 PM

It makes a great chair, as the girl figured out…

The Jenny Skirt with Suspenders

So, I first saw this skirt at my new blogging friend Julie’s blog. She’s got some really juicy projects over there, and I’m pretty sure I looked at this post 83 times while I was making the skirt.  It’s this pattern from BurdaStyle, and PS have you been there lately? They’ve got some smokin’ patterns there for FREE or almost free. I recently rediscovered it’s exceptional merit as a resourceful website.

This pink fabric was a lucky thrift store find, that I originally made into this dress. I made up the pattern after a vintage designer maternity dress I saw in a book, but it just didn’t turn out. I wore it once or MAYBE twice, and felt like a 5 year old. I put in two different sleeves, and was unsatisfied with both;  I eventually gave it the ax, and put that pretty pink fabric to better use.

Jenny Skirt with Suspenders Jenny Skirt with Suspenders

(See my little man trying to catch up with me?)

Jenny Skirt with Suspenders