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Monday, October 20, 2014

Refashion - Doggie Raincoat

What started off as a cute toddler rain coat because the perfect doggie jacket for our sweet Daisy!


Raw material
This project began for me with a size 4T fleece lined raincoat from GoodWill.  I also happened to have a pattern for doggie coats.

This is the pattern I used
I've made several of these jackets in the past and I really like the fit.  I used the patten for view B -  That's the dog in the lower right hand side of the picture.

McCalls #M5778

This pattern is McCall's #M5778

hood and sleeves removed

I removed the hood and sleeves from the jacket and laid it out flat. 

Coat folded in half
Next I folded the coat in half and tried to identify how to make the pattern fit on the coat.

Pattern folded to fit on the coat fabric
It's hard to see in the picture, but I folded the pattern down to fit onto the coat.  This coat was size 4T and my dog in a 9 lb yorkie poo.  Next time I'll buy a larger coat.  (There should be a human size to dog size conversion chart somewhere - I should google). :)

I wish I'd taken more pictures of the sewing process.  Basically I followed the instructions from the pattern.  This coat has snap closures (but you could also use velcro.  There is a strap that fastens across her tummy to hold the coat in place.

Daisy enjoys a rainyday

At some point I'm going to modify this jacket so that is can be used with a leash but for now she can wear her new jacket in the yard in the pouring rain and come in dry.  What's a WIN!


PRO TIP:
I wanted this jacket to be long enough to cover her entire butt so I added a ruffle to make it longer.  You can easily skip that step, or all 2 ruffles if you have a long dog.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween Made Easy!

I LOVE most holidays but lack time (and lets face it - inclination) to make the holidays really special.  But alas, I have devised these really easy Halloween tips to make your fall days festive with little fuss.

Also - you should know that I HATE waste.  So everything I buy/do/use needs to be reusable or a multi-tasker (serve more than 1 purpose).

Last year just before Halloween I did a blog featuring lots of pumpkin tips.  You can find that here!

Here are the highlights:

Decorate your pumpkin WITHOUT carving it!

Thumb tacks!

Decorating tape

Construction Paper Face

Spooky pumpkin

Potato Head Pumpkin
When you're all done with your pumpkin, cook him down in your crockpot and make a pie!

Crock Pot Pumpkin!
I have a truly FAB pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin recipe here!  (It's at the bottom on the post).

My kids can't wear costumes to school - it's against the rules.  Instead I buy Halloween themed graphic tees

Super Hero teenager
My teenage son wears this shirt over and over again!  It works on Halloween but it also works for a regular school day!
Skeleton sweatsuit for toddlers
 When the kids were younger I always got Halloween themed sweatsuits.  They're cute and festive and are GREAT as winter pajamas.  Also - they're safe for Halloween since the face isn't covered!
Skeleton with a belly full of candy

Fun pumpkin

Spooky Skull
The Children's Place is my favorite resource for Halloween shirts but Target has them as well!

The other option is to make or buy a hat.  These easy Mario Brothers hats are SUPER easy to make and make a nice addition to the dress up pile!  Directions for sewing the hat are here!



Our dog Daisy likes to get in on the action too!  She has this cute daisy dress that I made from fabric scraps.  It also has a harness so I can use it with her leash.

Daisy napping in her harness dress
 Chilly mornings sometimes require her to wear her little jogging suit.  This looks cute, keeps her warm and works as a costume.
Jogging suit Daisy!

Last but certainly not least, what's Halloween without a little cake! You've GOT to have a little pumpkin cake.  Here's an easy recipe!

Pumpkin Cake


Pumpkin Cake Recipe

1 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 (15oz) can of pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix oil, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla. Then mix in remaining
ingredients. Bake approximately 35 minutes.
===========================

Cream cheese frosting

1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

Mix together thoroughly. Frost cooled cake.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Matching Family Pajamas - A Complete Shoppers Guide

This post was updated/expanded 10/1/2014.  Updates include updated prices and additional information.
======================

I love the idea of having matching family pajamas on Christmas morning.  The reality of finding them is an entirely different story!

This blog post of born out of my own research and frustration!

We are a family of 5 + 1 adorable pup.  My concerns are price and availability.  We need a lot of different sizes.

This is what I have found:

SHOP EARLY!!!!!  It's true what they say, you have to shop early for the best selection.  That's REALLY, REALLY true in this case.  Lots of people love these matching sets so if you don't shop early you might be out of luck!

Pricing:  The prices I quote are for 1 adult female set, 2 adult male sets, 2 boy (sizes 8 & 12) sets and 1 small dog set of pj's.
Style:  The price and availability I'm quoting are for NON-footed pajama pants (unless otherwise indicated) and a long sleeve t-shirt.  Nothing is personalized. 

The Children's Place has some amazing sales on matching family pajamas and their quality is good.  Though variety can be limited, most families will find a style they like.  Sign up to be on their emailing list and get 25% off your first order.  Regular price for my family of 5 (not including the dog) was $119.85 (free shipping).  Sale price was $71.50 (free shipping due to a sale)!!!!  In the end my husband didn't really go for the matching pj's idea so the cost (during the sale) for 3 kids' pj's is $35.00 (free shipping due to sale).

Snug as a Bug has a pretty good variety, but didn't seem to have all the sizes I needed in stock.  Price to outfit our family was $324.75 + shipping.  (FOOTED PAJAMAS)

Pajamagram has LOTS of colorful, fun options in a wide variety of sizes.  $279.94 + shipping

The Company Store/Company Kids  had about half a dozen styles plus a mother daughter set.  The pictures show pj's for pets but I didn't see any on the website.  Price to outfit my family $301.00 + shipping

Walmart.com has matching sets but nothing for the dog. Sets can be personalized with initials or names.  Price to outfit my family $219.88 free shipping to the store.

Hanna Anderson has a nice selection of sets.  There were several options for pets.  Price to outfit my entire family $390 + shipping

Sleepy PJs aka MatchingSleepware.com  has a limited selection and the options are not necessarily holiday themed.  Most sets are solid colors or stripes  There are options for pets and people of all sizes. Price to outfit the entire family $161.00 + flat rate shipping of $6.75.  No pet pj's.  PURCHASE THROUGH AMAZON.com.

Chasing Fireflies has a limited selection of very festive Christmas options in stock.  Price to out fit my entire family is $297.50 + shipping.

SleepHeads.com has nice looking sets and LOTS festive of styles.  For a family of 5 (no pet pj's available) the cost is $170.00 + tax.  Shipping if free for orders over $75.

FootSteps Clothing is a  great option for pjs that match but are not too holiday specific.  This site offers sets that you can wear all year!  Lots of solid colors that can be embellished with festive themes.  They have an amazing amount of variety and the prices are pretty good.  For a family of 5 (+ 1 small dog) the price is $205.00 + shipping.

Macy's says that they have family sets but is was too much of a chore for me to sort if all out.  You have to go to each section (men's, women's and children's) and find the right sets.  Their prices seemed ok, but frankly it was too much work!

Etsy has lots of people who make sets.  I received quotes from several crafters.  Specraftular was especially nice and helpful.  She quotes me a price of $440 + shipping for my family.



Sew Your Own:  Because I know how to sew, the final option for me is to sew them myself.  I'm sure that I have a pattern somewhere around the house for pajama pants.  If I don't have one i'd make a pattern, so there is not expense to purchase one.  In terms of sewing my own pants for the family, that is always an option.  Since i'm just looking for a plain long sleeve t-shirt i'd likely buy that and not sew it.

So the price to sew my own breaks down like this:  Assuming 11 yards of flannel @ $6.99/yard.  The cost for fabric is $76.89 (assuming I have no coupons).  Joann ALWAYS has 40% off coupon so, $46.13 with a coupon.  Another $15 for elastic and notions.  I could make everyone matching pants for $61.13 + $40 to buy long sleeve t shirts.  So approximately $101.13 to sew pajamas.

Sew Your Own Using Bed Sheets: I'm a hard core crafter been playing with the idea of making clothing items out of bed sheets.  The pros of bed sheets as fabric are that they're light weight, easy to find and fairly inexpensive.  If you tend to be hot/sweaty cotton sheets do a nice job of wicking moisture away from the body keeping you cool.  You can buy "seconds" (imperfect sheets) for greater savings.  The down sides:  finding enough matching sheets to make as many pj's as you want.  We have sons and they wear out the knees of pajama pants very quickly.  I worry that the sheets would be quickly worn out.

An alternative would be to make pajama pants out of sheets and custom embellish t-shirts that you buy from the craft store.

If you live in the NY tri-state area Marburn Curtain has MANY varieties of flat sheets on sale for EXCELLENT prices.  Go into the store - don't buy online.  You can pick up king size sheets for approximately $12/each.  They have shelves and shelves of them.  If you're outside of NY check your local curtain or bedding store.  Mom and Pop stores are a great resource for discounted sheets.  You can buy a sheet set or single sheets.  Sewing my own using sheets will cost me an estimated $70 for a family of 5.  I can use the remnants to make the dog a shirt!


Semi-Homemade Option:  I found sweatpants and sweat shirt "bundles" on walmart.com for $11/set.  I'm sure that you can find matching sweatshirt and sweat pants fairly cheaply anywhere.  Buy matching sets for the entire family.  Then embellish the shirts with an applique, family initial or something festive (like a holly sprig, menorah or Christmas tree).

Custom Embellished Shirt
The cost to outfit my entire family with this method is approximately $80.

PRO TIP:
If you are shopping online before to google the store name plus "coupon code."  I googled "children's place coupon code" and for a code for 20% off my entire order.

SUPER PRO TIP:
Retail Me Not is an excellent source of coupon codes (they did not pay me to say that).  I like them because you don't have to sign up or sign in.  I just jump on their site and poof, coupon code!

=======================

The Meanest Momma blog did blog post on this subject back in 2011.  Here are her findings:


Places to Buy Christmas PJs

Wednesday November 2, 2011
By
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to buy the kids matching Christmas jammies.   It’s the one present they get to open Christmas Eve, so that everyone can wake up Christmas morning looking all cute and photo-worthy :) .
Christmas PJs.jpg
So my photography skills may leave something to be desired, but the cute still comes through!
Finding the perfect jammies for my kids has always been challenging — I’m looking for a particular color, a style that works for boys and girls, and in a range of sizes.   Also, I don’t want to spend a fortune, I try to keep it under $20/pair, ideally under $15.
Gymboree is usually my go to place for Christmas PJs, but this year, I was looking around for some other options as well and decided to share a round-up with you.  If you have other suggestions, I’d love for you to share them in the comments!

Places to Buy Christmas Pajamas

Gymboree Baby Girls, Big Girls, Baby Boys, Big Boys
Gymbo rocks because they always have several Christmas styles (in Christmas colors), their sizes run from baby to tween, and the make matching styles for boys and girls (and parents too)!   Their initial prices can be high, but they usually feature PJs as a a “Jingle Deal” at some point in the fall, making them much more reasonable.  Prices run $21 – $32, but can be much less with sales.

Crazy 8Girls, Boys
Crazy 8 is to Gymboree what Old Navy is to Gap.  They had a few cute Christmas themed options that would work for boys or girls.   Prices run around $18/pair, but they are currently on sale for around $10/ea.
Hanna AnderssonSleepwear
HA has lots of Christmas PJs, and unisex options for both genders, and parents too.  They are well made, even organic — and priced accordingly.  HA is also one of the few places I have seen short-sleeved Christmas PJs.  Regular prices $38-42, currently 30% off.
Old Navy  — Toddler GirlsBig Girls, Toddler Boys, Big Boys
The little kid sizes have cute Christmas jammies, but nothing in the big kid selection coordinates.  Prices around $15/pair, or 2+ at $11/ea.

GAPToddler Girls, Big Girls, Toddler Boys, Big Boys
Adorable baby/toddler Christmas options (up to 5T), but sadly nothing coordinating with big kid sizes.  Prices around $25/ea

TargetGirls, Boys
Target usually has something, but it’s a pain to navigate their website.   Most of their stuff is character clothing and cheaply made.   I’ve seen cute jammie options in store in the past (I haven’t noticed anything yet this year).  Regular prices around $13-18.
Childrens PlaceBaby Girls, Big Girls, Baby Boys, Big Boys
A few boy options could also work for girls, but nothing specifically matching for both genders.   What I did see was cute, well made and reasonably priced.   Regular price around $15/pair.
L.L. BeanGirls, Boys
Very limited in Christmassy options, only one 2 piece flannel set that is very cute, but also very spendy at $40/ea.
Lands EndGirls, Boys
Some cute options for boys or girls, but nothing coordinating for both.  Also a higher price point, around $35-40/ea.
The Company Store/Company KidsFamily
TCS carries matching family pjs in a variety of styles. They are more expensive.  They also must sell out quickly because as of Halloween, many of the Christmas styles are almost sold out.  Regular prices run $20-49/ea.

Pajama GramFamily Sets
PG has a variety options and has coordinating sets for the whole family, including the dog.  I’ve never ordered from them so I can’t speak to the quality.  Prices run $35-40.
Pottery Barn KidsKid Pajamas
Cute, high quality, a few options for mixed gender.  Regular price is ~$42, currently on sale for $34/ea.
CartersPajama Shop
Carters has some cute options boys or girls, but I didn’t see much that would work for both. [10-1-12 Update:  Also, sizing only runs up to size 7.  Carter's now carries big kid sizes up to size 14!   Pricing around $16-18 $24-28.]
CWD KidsHoliday PJs
CWD has quite a few holiday pajama options, including a few for adults.   They are also quite spendy, ranging from $32-42.
Disney StoreGirls, Boys
I’m not a big Disney person, but someone mentioned to me they are running a deal right now and are offering free personalization.  They have a couple of cute Christmas-themed styles.  Prices seem reasonable, $16.50 – $19.50.
So… that’s what I’ve found out there this year.  I ended up buying my kids Christmas jammies from Crazy 8, taking advantage of the $10 sale price.   What other places have you looked for matching Christmas/Holiday pajamas?
Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I receive a small referral fee at no cost to you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pumpkin Pie from Fresh Pumpkin

Yes, it's just about that time of year again.  Batten down the hatches moms, it's time for the annual school trip to the pumpkin patch!

Don't worry dads!  This trip could be fun (theoretically).  :)  

Usually I give pro tips at the end of a post.  In this case i'll give it at the beginning.  If you have to, need to or want to go on the school field trip to the pumpkin patch here's the best tip of all :  DRIVE YOUR OWN CAR!  You can listen to the music you like, make phone calls or simply enjoy some much needed peace and quiet!

Tip #2 - Get the kids to pick small pumpkins!  They're cute and more easily portable!


Fresh Pumpkins

Cooking your pumpkin

I’ll be honest, the main reason I want the kids to choose a small pumpkin so that I can cook it later.   Smaller pumpkins are easier to cook! 

Cook small to medium pumpkins in the crock pot!

CROCK POT Method


Remove the stem.  Place your [uncut] small/medium pumpkin in the Crockpot with about ½ cup water.  With the lid in place, set the pot to high and cook for 3 hours (cook for 6 hours on low).  Once the pumpkin is fork tender it’s ready.

Removing the pumpkin can be tricky.  I usually stab it with 2 forks and pull it out.

Use 2 forks to lift pumpkin fro Crock Pot



OVEN Method

If the pumpkin is small/medium, rub it with oil and place it/them [uncut] in the oven.  Bake at 350 degrees until soft.

If the pumpkin is large you may need to cut it in half.  When it’s fork tender, it’s ready.


Once it cooked:

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and strings from the center.  Scoop out the flesh and mash with a potato masher.

Pumpkin flesh can be lumpy or stringy.  For making soup, pie or baby food run the pumpkin flesh through the food processor or blender to make it smooth.  

Cut cooked pumpkin in half
Scoop out seeds and strings
This is all that's left of the pumpkin once the flesh is removed!
Mash your pumpkin


Fresh Pumpkin Pie 

(adapted from Mrs. Sigg’s Fresh Pumpkin Pie recipe on allrecipes.com)
Fresh baked pie!

1 medium sugar pumpkin  
2 readymade pie crusts
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar OR (1 cup white sugar + 3 tablespoons molasses)
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 (12 oz can) evaporated milk

Cook pumpkin (in oven or slow cooker) until soft and puree in a blender or food processor.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix well.  Pour into 2 pie crusts. 

Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.

This recipe makes 2 pies!
I don't have time or patience for homemade crust.  
Tips:

  • The batter will be thin.  Don’t worry, it bakes up just fine!
  • If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, don’t panic.  You can make your own!
  • Pumpkin pie spice = (1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)


Super Pro Tip:
Add cooked (unmashed) pumpkin flesh and all other ingredients to blender (or food processor bowl).  Blend until smooth, pour into pie crusts.

Fresh from the blender!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Refashion - Dress Downsize

This is my dress downsize!



This dress went from a size 26/28 down to a size 16 (or so).

I started trying my hand at refashioning just a few months ago.  If someone had told me at that time that I'd be able to downsize a dress (and still have it look like) I would have thought they were CRAZY!

Here's how I did it:

Original size tag
 
The original size tag was cut out in the process of making this dress.  Here it is!

Before I started sewing
Uncut dress
I started this project by laying the dress out on my sewing room floor.

Cut taken apart at the seams
I divided the dress into its major sections.  That is: arms, bodice (top) and skirt.

Downsizing the bodice
I turned this dress pieces inside out and section by section worked on each one.  

For the bodice, took in the sides, shortened the strap that went over the shoulder.  

My edits to this dress
The skirt is made up of several large panels of fabric.  I removed one of the panels and stitched the skirt back together.

The original design of this dress had the waist line falling at my natural waist.  I shortened the bodice a bit so that it becomes an empire waist dress.  That means that the waist line is just below my breasts instead of at my waist.  (That's a more flattering style on my body).

New Dress Happy Dance!
Once the top and skirt were smaller, I simply sewed them back together!

Completed dress!
PRO TIPS:

First - this was an easy project!  BUT, I've also been sewing since I was 6 (my grandmother was a professional seamstress).  There are a BUNCH of things I wish I'd known before I started this project.

1.  Cut thoughtfully!  When cutting the dress apart, be careful to cut along the seam line.  Don't just lay the dress on the floor and cut across.  (I messed up the waist by simply cutting across. 

2.  Use a dress form if you have one!

3.  If you can, sew in your underwear!  I took this dress on and off a thousand times trying to get the fit right.  In the end I was just sitting around the sewing room in my underwear.

4.  BASTE FIRST!  Or sew using the largest stitch length on your machine  You may have to put stitches in and take them out more than once.  I attached this skirt 2-3 times before I had it just right.

SUPER PRO TIP:
Understand that you might ruin a dress trying to remake it.  The success  stories end up on blogs.  The mess ups are in a sad pile in my sewing room and you never hear about them.

SAVE YOUR MISTAKES!  You know how in cryogenics they freeze the body so that when/if a cure for whatever killed come along you can be brought back?  Ok, so even if you didn't know that - that's what they do.  Anyway - save your mistakes!  Someday you may have enough experience to fix what you messed up!  Alternatively, your mess ups may help you with another project later on. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Plus Size Refashion - Sweater to Skirt



This over sized mens' sweater was SUCH a bore, but is less than an hour it went from frumpy to totally FAB!

Here's how!

Cut off the arms.  Save them for other projects.  (You can use them to make a dog sweater!)

Remove the arms

Cut off the top of the sweater
Ok, so this next part is where things get a little tricky.  I used an XXL men's sweater.  Turns out that size is WAY too big for me.  Through a bunch of trial and error I ended up trimming the sweater down to a size that was just right.

The next time I make one of these (and I will make more) I'll start with a Medium or Large sweater.  That way I'll only have to add elastic and I'm all done!
Cut and sew to fit your body
 All you have to do now is add elastic.  (I'm not going to cover that part in detail because I'm assuming that you already know how to do it.)  
Turn down the top edge and add elastic.

PRO TIP:
My plus size sisters already know how annoying it is to make a cute dress or skirt only to have it be too short in the back.  I'm sure that this happens from time to time with all women, but as a big girl it happens to me A LOT!  I have come to call this annoying little problem Big Booty Ride Up.

Fixing Big Booty Ride Up
This problem is REALLY easy to fix!  Here's how:  Hem your skirt so that there is 3/4 -1 (or maybe even 2) inches of extra fabric at the back of the skirt.  You can adjust the elastic placement in the waist band to add an inch or 2 or you can make the adjustment at the hem of the skirt.  When laid flat the hem will look uneven.  When you wear the garment, the hem will be perfect!