Category Archives: sewing

When the sewing machine comes out

I actually leave it out, trying to inspire myself. That just doesn’t happen as often as I would like. However, with Halloween quickly approaching, I have been sewing. And ripping seams and resewing. And readjusting the idea and resewing.

After the kiddos hit the hay tonight, though, I took an hour to whip out a set of Christmas presents – shhh! Pretty pillowcases made out of their favorite colors with fabric I found on 70% off clearance and paid for with a gift card that I found the other day. So excited! They came out pretty.

I used the hot dog pillowcase plan, where you end up with all of the raw edges sewn inside. Nice and clean. I used a set of instructions that I just googled and printed off a few years ago. It is the top hit when I googled “hot dog pillowcase” tonight. But here is one of several YouTube videos that show it, as well.

At Home.

Needle Work is Finished – Middle School Monday

She did it! She finished her cross stitch and decided to gift it to her best friend for a birthday gift. She finished the stitching and then chose fabric to turn it into a pillow. She cut and sewed the pillow herself and it turned out really sweet.

The finished product:



At Home.

Making gifts – Middle School Monday

Making Gifts

One thing that I love about the process of home education is that so much falls under the heading of education. We can do something in the evening and it will fall under schooling. Take, for example, making dinner and/or cleaning it up. All part of what a home economics class would be. So is sewing. But sewing also includes design, textiles, and the actual construction of the product. That was what we did today. And, it was a project for a baby shower. How perfect! Learn and then bless someone else.

All of us did some sewing for the baby shower but I am going to start with Miss E, since she is the middle schooler AND she did the project all on her own with only a little bit of input here and there or instruction when something didn’t happen quite like she expected. Her project was a personalized, light-weight baby blanket with a decorative border.Making gifts Miss E with blanket

Making gifts by Miss E


She did a fancy zigzag stitch on the top of the blanket for hemming the edges. Then, she decided where she wanted the name, positioned the fabric, programmed the machine, and made sure it went right. It came out so sweet. I just know that it will be loved!



Making gifts by Miss L



Miss L decided that she wanted to make some baby washcloths. So she picked a super soft flannel and planned them double sided. She stitched the edges and then turned the square right side out. After pinning the opening closed, she then top stitched around the edges of the entire piece. They came out real cute! This baby is gonna enjoy the soft washcloths.

Making gifts by Miss J






Miss J made a burp cloth for the baby. She chose a soft flannel, as well, and added a ribbon embellishment to it. She then sewed the piece with the right sides together, turning it out and topstitching it to close and finish the piece. It came out just like she wanted it to, she says.




So, we are ready for the baby shower now. A life of education that can couple with service or blessing others is definitely one that I hope the girls learn. And we are certainly on our way.

At Home.

It’s Done – the Sewing Space

Sewing Space before and afterA month ago, I determined that I HAD to do something about the sewing area. It was driving me bananas and I had to work to clear it all out and off before I could do anything, even a simple mending. Since then I have been pondering and thinking and looking. I have gone from place to place in town looking for just the right things to help create this space and turn it into the creative area I want it to be.
Turns out, I needed to think outside the box. Literally.
I had been looking for box-style storage. You know, those 9×9 or 12×12 squares in shelves. I thought that was exactly it. But, every time I looked at them, it just didn’t seem right.
Sewing Area before
Today, I hit my boiling point, so-to-speak. That space was getting cleared. TODAY. So, without having bought anything or found anything, I decided that I would just clear it out and throw some stuff away and get it useable. Then, I remembered something.
We had a box we had built to go in a particular place a while back and it just didn’t work. I determined that it would help in this space. When I went to get it, I saw the drawer that we used to have under the crib and then under a bed. We had taken the casters off it and suddenly, it looked exactly like a shelf for my sewing desk. Armed with those two things and everything but the desk out of the area, I set to work.
I swept and purged and combined and came up with:
Sewing Area after
This cost me a couple of hours and some scrounging around the house. I didn’t spend a penny on this makeover/repurpose/reorganize. And it works. I am happy with the cheerfulness of the space and the fact that I have a light in the space now. (That had been in one of the girls’ rooms but she got a new lamp for Christmas so this was just sitting around.) I also have a couple of bright bins to hold some of my smaller projects that are waiting to be done or finished. (These were just sitting empty since Halloween. I had gotten them for a quarter each and we used them at trunk-or-treat.)Sewing Area after 2
I don’t think I even had to repurpose anything else. But I like it. One of these days, I may get around to painting the desk. Or not. Who knows. But I have a useable sewing area now and I think I will be sewing this afternoon.
At Home.

Made By Me – July Blogging Challenge

This summer, J got to attend “Princess Camp” at her dance studio. She had fun dressing as a different princess each day. I made her Cinderella and Belle dresses 2 and 3 years ago, respectively. So, they needed a little tweaking to still fit. I cut a triangular piece of matching material, added the Velcro in the correct places to line up with what was there, and – viola – an extender for the costume. This makes it possible for her to wear them for a while longer and yet, when she passes them down to someone else, they can take out the extender and it will fit them well.

Belle Cinderella

She also dressed as Jasmine one day, which I made last Halloween. Her first costume was actually pjs that have Ariel on them.


The last one, for her performance, I whipped up from a costume leotard that my middle giggly girl designed about 4 years ago. I cut off part of it, added some details, added a skirt, and she was thrilled with her Sleeping Beauty/Aurora costume. J did all the designing for this one and I did the sewing. It was a fun collaboration and she learned a bit more about what can and cannot be done with altering already created items.

Sleeping Beauty

Sewing is fun for me and I am glad when the girls want something for themselves since it is mostly doll sewing these days.

At Home.


I am linking up for the July Blogging Challenge with A Glimpse of Our Life and This Day Has Great Potential.


FIAR: The Rag Coat

Rag Coat FIAR

I loved the book The Rag Coat. We didn’t spend nearly the time with it that I wanted to. Things just worked out that way. The good part of that is we will be able to revisit it and do so much more with it than we did. I had planned it for the beginning of January, when it would somewhat fit the weather. With all that happened, we ended up stranded by weather for a bit and then At Home Dad did the teaching for about a week so this book ended up by the wayside. We did read it but we didn’t manage to get to many of the activities that I am going to share.

These are the plans that I had made for the book. Hopefully, you can get some use out of the plans. When we get back to the book, hopefully I will keep track and share what we end up doing with you.

As always, I had planned to use the Five In A Row guide for some of the activities.

Geography: We were going to place the icon circle at the Appalachian Mountains. We were going to talk about how the mountains are different in the eastern and western US, as well as a discussion about what makes mountains, how they are formed, what they are made of, and more.

Geography: We were going to work some more on map reading with a US map. I had planned to add a world map and work on finding mountain ranges from around the world. I also planned to pull out a topographical map to discuss elevation changes and see that in relation to the mountain ranges we identify. I was going to create a compass challenge, as well, to help the girls learn to use and navigate with a compass.

History/Culture: We had planned to study the culture of the Appalachian Mountains. The culture is quite different than what the girls have grown up around, especially when we dig back in history. We were going to take a look at the 1930 and what the Great Depression was like, what caused it, how it affected people in the US. We were planning to look at the various relationships shown in the Rag Coat and how those change and develop in the story. We were also going to speculate about how those relationships were affected by the culture in which they lived and how they might be different if we changed some of the variables in their lives.

History: Coal mining had a large impact on the Appalachian Mountains and that area of the country. We were going to study coal mining and what life was like in a coal mining town. We were going to study the jobs related to coal mining and what it did to family structures, communities, and friendships.

Art: We planned to take a deep look at quilting and sewing. Quilting is such an art form and we generally have a local quilt show in January, so we had planned to visit that. We also have some ladies at church that make a quilt for each of the graduating seniors so I had planned to ask one or more of them to discuss quilting, decision making, color scheme, fabric choices, etc. with the giggly girls. I had planned to have the girls make a 9 patch quilt of their own for one of their dolls. I had also planned to have the girls design a quilt on paper and then cut it into a puzzle.

Art: We were going to take a look at color palettes, especially warm vs. cool. The book shows a warm color palette so we were going to create a picture using chalk pastels in a warm color palette.

Art: We were going to look at viewpoint and size. Each of these has a huge impact on the art of quilting so we were going to visit an art museum that had quilts on display that were a pictures (waterfalls, houses, etc). We were going to use those to discuss the viewpoint and size choices the artist made.

Science: We planned to study coal. Its formation, uses, and chemical makeup were all on the books to study. We planned to study its extraction, as well.

Science: We had planned to study textiles and fabrics. We were going to look at cotton and wool. We have a friend who was going to let us see her shear a sheep but that didn’t work out. I have some wool from when I was younger and we were going to look at it under a microscope and study the fibers. We were going to study the process of making a fiber into a textile or fabric that can be used to create clothing with. We were going to take a look at the process of picking cotton and use a memory from my great-grandmother (I was hoping to be able to play the recording of her remembering her youth cotton-picking in Texas.). We were also planning to take a look at the cotton-gin and Eli Whitney.

Literature Connections: Other books I had around for us to look at and discuss included The Patchwork Quilt, Foxfire, Christy,  Ballet for Martha, The Keeping Quilt, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, The Quilt, and Mandie. These run the gamut of reading levels, including some chapter books for oldest.

Music: Listen to Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland. This piece of ballet music is beautiful and will capture the imagination of children. You could use it in conjunction with the book Ballet for Martha and YouTube has some videos of some of the early ballet to go with this piece. Other options for music would include a study of banjos and/or bluegrass music.

Music: There are many beautiful folk songs that originated in the Appalachians, such as “Cumberland Gap,”  “Ida Red,” “Shady Grove,” and “Paw Paw Patch.” There are lots and lots of songs that have Appalachian roots and a large number of them having singing games to go along with them.

Music/Biography: Jean Ritchie is one of the foremost authorities on authentic Appalachian music. She has a beautiful voice and is a talented instrument player. Studying the lap dulcimer and Jean Ritchie would provide a rich, unique study. While writing this, I saw that Jean Ritchie passed away at the beginning of June. Such an amazing person will be missed.


That is the gist of what was planned. Unfortunately, very little of it got done so I am looking forward to tackling it again at some point. There is a lot of rich learning to be done when you dig into books about Appalachia.

At Home.



Doll Leg Warmers

socks to leg warmers on dollMy girls love their 18″ dolls and they love to come up with new things to make for them. Recently, we took some socks that were WAY TOO SMALL for E and she wanted to make them into leg warmers for her doll. So, we used a similar technique to what we did for the stockings and socks.

sock to leg warmersock cut upsock piece neededsock top and bottom sewnsock seamsock finished as leg warmersocks as leg warmers done

Sewing lessons are not boring at all when it involves something the girls come up with on their own and want to make. I love their ingenuity and the growth they are making. Sewing with them is fun! At Home.
Make It Work Monday Title

Make It Work Monday – doll stockings

stockings 10This week is going to be bringing you a couple more reviews so I will make an effort to sandwich them between some other posts. Today, I’m sharing with you the stockings we made recently for the girls’ American Girl dolls.


We have been going through the mending piles and pulling out the things that are actually not repairable but that have some good material to them. I have saved several pairs of stockings the girls have put holes or runs in. Most of them are microfiber stockings so they are pretty durable and don’t actually run. Unfortunately, they do tear. So, we have several that had big holes in the knees. I kept them and we made them into doll socks and stockings the other day. Here, in pictures, is the process for the stockings.stockings 1

stockings 2stockings 3stockings 4stockings 5stockings 6

If you have questions about how we did this, please ask in the comments. It makes sense to me but I often sew by instinct. That makes it a bit harder to share information sometimes. If you don’t understand something, I will try to clarify. Thanks for stopping by.

stockings 9

At Home.
Crafts / Handiwork Ideas and Tutorials

From Tee to Tee

Tee to TeeIt has been a bit since I have gotten a Make It Work Monday post up but I did get one ready for today. And it is cute! A while back I got a free T-shirt pattern from Liberty Jane. It was a freebie they were offering on their website. I hadn’t done anything with it.

tee to tee skirts

Back in December, I was lengthening a BUNCH of the girls’ skirts. I think I did 13 between the three girls. And since I was working with knits, I had to figure out how to match the fabric type. I decided to recycle the old T-shirts that were in really good shape but either didn’t fit anymore or weren’t getting worn. I just cut the bottom section off of the tees and added it to the bottom of the skirts/dresses. Here’s the results of a couple of them.




Well, that left me with a couple of tops of tees that were really cute. So, I decided to hold onto them so I could recycle that part into T-shirts for the dolls. I did that today with the pattern from Liberty Jane. And, here’s the final product of that one.

tee to tee 2

Have you recycled anything lately? At Home.


Make It Work Monday Title

Make It Work Monday – doll robe

Make It Work Monday Title

Today’s Make It Work Monday is a simple, easy one. At least, for me it was.

The girls had these sweet, long-sleeve PJs for winter. The problem: it is so warm here that they never, ever wore these. The material is so sweet: colorful hearts, some of which are glittery. So, I decided it was time to do something with the fabric. P1120571I picked up a bunch of doll patterns at the fabric store a while back when they were on sale for $1. This one is Simplicity 2303. It only took me about an hour and that included making the bias tape for the edging. It was a very easy pattern and it made a cute little doll robe. All it needs now is some ribbon for a tie, which I imagine I have tucked away somewhere. P1120572One done; three to go. Christmas is coming so I’d better get working. At Home.


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