Sewing Projects

I briefly mentioned in my Christmas post that I had made M’s gift by hand.  I thought I would offer a bit more detail on the gift.

Ever since I got my Ergo baby carrier, M has been trying to carry her dolls around.  My Ergo was way too big for her, of course, but she made do as best she could.  I thought an M-sized carrier would be perfect for her.  I designed one based on my Ergo, and used JR, bless his heart, as my “model” for measurements as I went along.  He did a great job keeping the secret for weeks!  M absolutely loved it!  I made it reversible just like my Ergo, so she can wear her baby on her front or back. 

Once I got it all finished though, I had JR try it on with a doll in it.  It was then that I realized her plastic baby dolls weren’t gonna cut it.  Their little plastic feet jabbed into his back.  So I began trying to design a fabric doll. 

I won’t go into all the details for fear of boring you severely, but suffice it to say, a doll was no easy task for this beginner seamstress!  After much trial and error, I finally had something that remotely resembled a doll–complete with fake hair and a facial features.  But then another problem arose.  She was naked.  Well, it just so happened that I had been sorting through my baby clothes to find stuff to yard sale.  I remembered a tiny little dress I had seen.  I was able to alter that dress slightly to fit the doll.  VOILA!  It was complete!

I can’t believe how much M loved these 2 gifts!  I am impressed the doll has lasted this long, as the seams were starting to burst the day I made it.  Nonetheless, although she has already lost her nose, and the fake hair now resembles the worst bed-head you ever saw rather than the cute pig tails I originally gave her, she is M’s new best friend.  They keep each other company at nap time and bed time, and they are playmates when M is alone. 

Funny how the last minute, seemingly worthless gifts can be the most appreciated since they come from the heart!

Every week, I resolve to do better and try to post at least once a day, during the kids’ naptime.  However, ever week, after the first day or two, I find that I just get too busy.  Between homeschooling, baking bread and making snacks (a family does have to eat after all!), cleaning house, tending to the children, and handling other things that come up, I just find that blogging is kind of low on the list of priorities.  I figured, however, that the least I could do is tell about the latest project that has been keeping me busy.

We are always looking for new ways decrease our waste, recycle materials, be self-sufficient, and, if it happens to add speed and convenience to my day, so be it!  A while back, I found a website (sorry, I have no idea where) that had suggested using bags to “wrap” presents instead of wrapping paper.  I was intrigued by the idea, and after some discussion, we thought it could be fun to give it a try.

I’m not talking about re-using brown or plastic bags.  I mean actually sewing some bags together, adding a drawstring cord, and viola!  I have only made a few in small sizes, but so far I am loving it!  I tend to do most of our Christmas shopping earlier, before the Christmas season gets here, so I don’t get all caught up in the stress and commercialism of the holidays.  I love being able to take the time to really put thought and effort into our gifts.  The one part I always hated though was wrapping gifts.  Ever since I can remember, I was in charge of wrapping gifts.  Growing up, my parents hated to wrap, and I was the oldest child, so the responsibility fell to me.  Most years, my parents would even put my gifts into an obscure package and make me wrap it!  We laugh now, but I am finally a bit tired of the hours involved in wrapping.

Now, I take a bag, drop in the gift, pull the cord tight, tie a loop, and I’m done.  Now that the Christmas season is getting closer, gifts have started piling up.  I needed a way to hide them, but the kids play in every room (and closet) of our house.  The solution?  Bag it!  Now, I have all the gifts acquired so far bagged up neatly.  Unless they actually pick up the gift, they don’t have a clue what might be inside because of the standard shape of the bag.  Now, I do remember reading on the website that the biggest downside to using bags is that it is very easy for older children (or adults!) to untie the bag, take a peek, and retie, and you have no way of knowing.  Therefore, you may have to keep the bags tucked away until the night before Christmas, which could be a bit more inconvenient.  I guess I finally figured though, that, in our case, I store them for so many months anyway, what’s another 3 weeks? 

My goal now is to make several sizes of bags (sm, med, large, and a few extra large if needed).  For the most part, I am trying to do the bags in distinct colors so maybe I can decipher at a glance which gift belongs to which person.  I am not sure how that will work out in the end though.  We will also keep a roll of wrapping paper on hand for now for gifts being given away, or just any last minute things that don’t have a bag.  Of course, who knows, maybe I can eventually make enough bags that I can give gifts away in them, and introduce others to this concept! 

To start this off, I am going to give away one of these bags!  To participate and try to win, just leave a comment telling me your favorite Christmas tradition (past or present).  I will leave the comments open through Friday, and randomly draw a name from all the comments posted.  Consider it an early Christmas present!

S has been encouraging me to learn to sew. After the old Singer I had lasted through a few curtain experiments, he bought me a Bernina machine for my birthday last year. Using the instruction manual that came with it, I was able to glean enough information that I could attempt to get started. When I combined that little knowledge with a lot of creativity, I was able to sew a few little experimental clothing projects. Well, I have just completed my first official outfit!

M picked out the fabric, and I made her a little dress (not the pink shirt), then used the scraps to sew her a long-desired matching purse and a little hair scarf. She loves it.

So far I have focused on very simple creations, and have been experimenting with different stitches. This outfit has my first zipper on the back. I hope I will soon brave actually buying a pattern to sew something. Though that is yet to be determined.
And, in closing, I have to share my favorite photo of the day. When daddy came home tonight, M eagerly showed off her new outfit, and then insisted he try on the scarf and purse for good measure!

I love having a husband secure enough in his manhood to entertain his little princess!

I had a conversation with my mom recently which got me thinking about why we are heading in the direction that we are. Why are we seeking to go to the extreme of raising our produce and meat, and cooking our food from scratch? Why are trying to collect rainwater to drink and bathe in instead of using the more easily accessible tap or well water? Why do I want to homeschool my children instead of utilizing the schools that my tax dollars are paying for? Am I denying myself and my family by living the simple life? As I got to thinking, I reflected back on some of the reasons. I know exactly why, and it is not just a whim. It is a result of many factors, but, in an attempt to keep this post to a controllable length, here are a few:

  • I am an animal fanatic, and always wanted to live on a farm with lots of animals.
  • My husband is an environmental tree-hugger (to a point) who seeks to take care of the creation that God has given us.
  • As a diabetic, I used to drink a lot of diet soda, as it was about the only non-water drink I could have. Although I drank them in moderation, after years of this, I began to get headaches shortly after I drank more than about half of a diet soda. I reduced my intake, and shortly thereafter, the study was released in the news that linked the artificial phenylalanine chemical that was predominant in artificial sweeteners to many health issues due to its chemical nature. That’s when warnings began appearing on the can.
  • In 2004, my first son was born with many health problems. His non-stop screaming resulted in us being exhausted and frustrated. At just 3 weeks old, he screamed for 8 straight hours with no sleep. As a result of his condition, I was forced to supplement him with formulas. He was starving all the time, and I spent most of my day feeding him. His frequent and copious vomiting resulted in his classification as a failure to thrive, and we were on the hairy edge of being monitored for neglect. We were forced to medicate him to help control the vomiting so he could gain weight. Consults with multiple doctors and nurses left everyone baffled. When I realized he was having mild seizures, we convinced a doctor to refer us to a neurologist. By now, he was about 7 months old. Although he was on track developmentally, we were at our wits end with the screaming, vomiting, and seizures. No one would babysit, the church nursery always had me come and get him. We could hardly go anywhere. We were miserable. We knew there had to be a reason. While we were awaiting the referal, we continued to pray. After a great deal of prayer, God led S to some results from a recent water testing in the area in which we lived. While the results were within “normal” range, we saw that many of the toxins in our water were on the high end of normal. S began to do some research and found that some specific toxins in water caused a particular type of infant seizure. Symptoms of these seizures included abnormal vomiting and screaming. As an experiment, we decided to switch to bottled spring water. Just 3 days after switching water sources, it was like someone flipped a switch. EVERYTHING stopped…no screaming, no vomiting, no seizures. Just like that, he became a “normal” happy baby who began to thrive–the child that everyone knows and adores today.
  • When JR was about 18 months old, he had a severe allergic reaction to penicillin. The reaction was so severe, the doctor ordered that we remove every trace of penicillin from his environment for one week to get it completely out of his system. This involved switching to all organic dairy products (organic animals cannot be fed antibiotics). After a week or so, JR was fine, but this led me to begin researching the benefits of organic.
  • At the same time, I was having multiple infections. Although it was common for diabetics to have such infections, I didn’t have a history of it and I didn’t fit the profile of the diabetic who typically gets them. We were also working with service dogs and it seemed like every puppy that came into our house got sick. We watched one who almost died after being with me only 3 days. The only common denominator was the water. We switched the dogs to spring water, and I began to take brief showers instead of baths. The pups quit getting sick and my infections diminished significantly.
  • As a precaution, when we moved shortly thereafter, we purchased and installed special filters for our tap water and our showerheads. Amazingly, my infections were eliminated.
  • In 2006, I began to itch with no explanation. It started in my joints, and spread up and down my arms and legs. It was like my skin was crawling. If I scratched, I broke out in hives and left huge red welts. It was the strangest thing. I evaluated my diet and living conditions. We were in a new area, so I assumed I was having an allergic reaction to something. Since I had no history of allergies though, I was puzzled. I saw two doctors, one being an allergist, who, again, blamed it on my diabetes. I wouldn’t believe that. My sugars were good, I was healthy, and I had NEVER heard of itching and hives as a diabetic complication. They put me on an antihistamine and told me I would likely be on it the rest of my life. The meds controlled the itch and at least let me sleep, but everytime I tried to wean myself off, I started itching again. Remembering what I had learned with JR’s organic experience, we decided to experiment. We switched to a more natural, somewhat organic diet. Amazingly, the day we officially switched our diet was the last pill I had to take. I have never had another issue with itching and hives. We are convinced it was a build up of chemicals in my body.
  • I used to irritate S because I did not like drinking out of a plastic cup. I always used our glasses. Of course, with young children, this meant occasional breakage. When he would beg me to switch to plastic, I always told him, “I can’t really explain it, but my tea just tastes different in plastic. I don’t like it. I like it out of a glass.” We occasionally had this discussion until last year when the study results came out about the BPA contained in most plastics. Let’s just say that, not only does S not mind me drinking out of a glass anymore, he drinks out of a glass now too!! If it breaks, we get out the vaccuum! LOL
  • I put JR and M into preschool for one semester while I finished my degree. It was a great little private preschool, and certainly offered a great deal for them. However, within a week of attending, JR began having a serious attitude. Other mothers told me, “don’t worry, it is totally normal when they start school.” I had to ask why? Then JR began coming home and telling me about what some of the kids would do in class or how so-and-so didn’t listen to the teacher. After attending a couple of field trips with his class, it was quickly apparent that his attitude was deriving from his peers and the fact that the teacher was limited in her ability to discipline. I did not want my child to learn those negative lessons at such an impressionable age.

Well, there you have it. I don’t mean to scare anyone, but no one can deny we have encountered some pretty impressive situations and “coincidental” (try THANK GOD!) outcomes. A few other things worth mentioning….I have noticed since we began the changes in our diets and environments that I have not had a single migraine, rarely get so much as a cold, the kids seem healthier overall, we feel better and I have way more energy, and my blood sugars are actually easier to control. I will admit that I really have no “hard” black-and-white proof to my claims about our water and diet, however, I will never be convinced otherwise. My children, at least for now, seem to be heading down the path S and I desire for them, with a love for the Lord and a compassionate nature. I thank the Lord for showing us how to help ourselves in most cases, and for making it as simple a solution as just practicing what the Bible teaches! Are we denying them? Possibly. However, I can live with myself denying them material possessions and fun “things” if it will help them learn to keep a focus on Christ, develop a love for family and helping others, and an understanding that hard work and earning your keep is a Biblical and desirable trait. I do pray that I can have the wisdom to balance these lessons with fun and enjoyment, and that we provide them sufficient opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. But, I can confidently say that I feel comfortable and at peace with these principles as priorities.

So, in closing, I want to share two things with you. One is my most recent sewing machine creation. While nothing impressive to an experienced seamstress, I am pretty excited about it…….

My first cloth napkins, and to make it even sweeter, I used some extra fabric I had laying around!

And secondly, something I even more proud of, JR reading during today’s lesson. (If you can’t view now, try later. Processing is taking a while!)

I am proud to report that I have completed my first big clothing project! I learned to sew by practicing on my Grandmothers old sewing machine, but I just did a basic straight-line stitch to make some curtains and a pillow. That was several years back. The machine finally got to costing too much to maintain, so I got rid of it. This year, S bought me a refurbished Bernina machine (supposed to be one of the best available) for my birthday. However, due to the move, it took a while for me to pull it out. After reading the manual cover to cover and figuring out all the switches and settings, I had to take in the waist of one of my skirts and decided to add a little elastic while I was at it. It isn’t beautiful on close inspection, but from a distance, it looks great, and fits much better. Then I hemmed up S’s jeans, and they looked factory hemmed if I may brag! I am quite proud if I must tell the truth!