Saturday, August 13, 2011

Maxi Dress Mama D Style

Well now one of the latest trends in women's dresses are Maxi the way just so you know I really don't like this name....makes me think of Maxi Pads...UGH! Back on track...I do however like these dresses and like the fact that I can now wear them without embarrassment! I have been seeing several tutorials on how to make these dresses from scratch! And although I love to sew...I don't like patterns or trying to fit clothing onto a real person from a pattern that doesn't exactly fit! That is not where my talents lie. However I have discovered that remaking clothes is one of my here is my unique twist on the Maxi Dress!

First I visited my local Goodwill...I was in the mood to sew today and didn't want to have to search garage Goodwill here I came. I started out in the tank top section looking for something that would fit nicely across my shoulders and chest...but not necessarily my pregnant belly! I found a nice black tank with ribbon and lace embellishments!
My next step was to find the skirt material. Now I went to the dresses first in hunt of the right material..I didn't have any luck so I hit the tee shirt just can't beat $1 each....I started with the largest shirts first. I couldn't find 3 black shirts that weren't all faded I ended up with a light gray, dark gray and black....all about the same size.
I considered putting the skirt together this way....but after the cute black outfit I made Bear earlier this week with the light color in the middle I decided to try that instead!

Now the first thing I did was try on my tank and mark where I wanted it to be cut my case....just above my belly...

I marked where I wanted it to be cut off with a pin and then added an inch seam allowance and cut off with my rotary cutter!

Next step is deciding how long you want your dress. Measure from your armpit down to the length that you want your dress. Mine was 46"...and my tank top measured about 7" I had about 39" to play with for the skirt.
Since I got 2XL shirts and had plenty of room to play with ...I cut each off right under the arm pits. You want to measure each layer and subtract 2" for the seam allowances and add them all together to find out how long your finished dress will be. At this point it is easy to take off what you don't need on each layer.

This one had a design on the front and after some careful measuring I was able to cut it off below the design...thought it might look a little funny if I left it on???

My next step was running a double basting stitch around the top edges of all my layers.

I didn't really end up with a whole lot of gathering....just really used it to get the fit would all depend on what sizes of tee shirts that you used and how much extra material you had!

To accomplish this step pin right sides together, matching the sides and center front and center back. Pin and straight stitch all the way around with a 5/8" or 1/2" seam. I normally go back and zig zag to finish my seams...but considering tee shirt knit doesn't ravel...I just skipped this step. Repeat this on all three layers! Now I got smart and left the hem in my bottom tee shirt...eliminating the need to hem the bottom of the dress! Am I smart or just lazy???

Me in my new Maxi dress....and showing off my baby bump! Can you believe that is a 7 month pregnant picture????

If I left anything out or you have questions...just leave me a comment!

God Bless,
Mama D

Reverse Applique

Well folks I am sure you have heard me talk about a new sewing technique I have found....reverse applique! I just love it! Now I have appliqued many things in the past and have gotten so frustrated when my machine or I mess up...and I refuse to applique on tee shirt or knit material! However when I ran across this technique in one of my Internet searches....I fell in love...and just knew that I could make some cute stuff for my little girl and teenagers!

OK  original idea that I located on the Internet said to use two tee shirts. One smaller than the other and layer together to make this work...I have found out that scraps of tee shirt material and cotton work just as well and don't create such a heavy shirt. I am hot natured so this is important!

Now first you need to decide on a design...for the tee shirt that I am showing you I choose a butterfly! I then choose my material...for this shirt I used three different colors.
The tee itself is an eggplant I choose a purple and white print and green for the wings with a kinda medium purple for the body of the butterfly.

Turn your tee shirt inside out and lay out your material. Pin as needed to hold it to the front of your shirt. Just make sure you only pin through one layer of tee shirt material!

Now if you are confident and artistic enough to sew your chosen pattern onto your shirt free hand...then by all means go for it! I have to have a pattern to go by or everything looks whooper-jawed to me!
I started with the body of my bug....then did the outside and inside of my wings. Just use a straight stitch around your pattern...nothing complecated!
Last but not least using a pair of pointy ended sharp scissors carefully cut out the inside of each pattern...showing the layer of fabric that you want to be seen. I then go back and trim the excess material from the inside of the shirt! The only thing I added to this was my butterflies antenna with glitter paint!

Happy Sewing!
God Bless,
Mama D

Friday, August 12, 2011

School Sewing Projects

Well....let's little girl is not so little anymore! <pout!> And as school is coming up soon (10 days at last count)....I have been trying to get my VERY hard to fit child some clothes put together for the school year.

At the beginning of the summer I expected this problem to I started hunting for tee shirts and material that could be used or repurposed for my daughter. I also began looking for ideas that I could use or adapt with my gathered materials.

What I have come up with is a combination of Twirly Dresses, Tunics and decorated Tee shirts. All using basically the same methods in different manners.

We call this one our Lady Bug shirt! I was only able to get 1 yard of this material...and really wasn't satisfied with any other fabrics...they just didn't coordinate like I wanted them too! So I ended up just making one gathered layer and cutting the teir of material a little longer. It ended up being a really cute tunic length shirt. I embellished the front with a reverse appliqued lady bug...and yes I know it looks like a watermelon...I just haven't found a good head for it yet!

Now this is a recycled pair of my husbands jeans!!! I have had a HUGE box full of jeans in the back of my husbands closet for the last 6 or 7 years....all too small for him...but he is gonna get back in some point in the future. (Yeah right!) Anyways during a cleaning spree I come across this box and decide to repurpose some of these jeans for crafts! And much to my surprise they just nearly fit my little girl around her tummy! So me in my craftiness, cut off the legs, sewed a piece of elastic along the back waistline and added a nice little gathered strip of material...and you have a super cute skirt!

This is one of my favorites. Just an embellished tee shirt. I used the reverse Applique method with two layers of fabric, turquoise is an scrap of tee shirt material and pink is just cotton. I sewed my desired shape onto the tee shirt and then cut out the layers that I wanted to show the material underneath! Then I embellished with a little sparkle...gems glued all the way around the cross and "Grace" written with glitter paint!

This is called a handkerchief shirt if I am not mistaken! So simple really. You take two large squares of material (the pattern I found recommended 16"....I used 24" so that shirt would be a little longer). Cut you squares in half creating 4 large triangles. Hem the short sides and sew the long side around the base of your cropped tee shirt. Because I made mine bigger than I was supposed to it made a really neat looking layered effect in the back of the shirt. If I make another one like this I will put that layering towards the front of the shirt. I also embellished the front with small pieces of the bottom material with the reverse applique technique.

This is just one of my Twirly Girly dresses....I was gonna embellish the front of this tee shirt...but Tool Man likes things plain and asked me to make this "without all that stuff on her chest!" So I made her another shirt with all the stuff he didn't like!

A little bit of ruffles down the front of this tee with the leftover material from above dress and you have yourself a super cute shirt!
Now this is the last I have a picture of....I have another reverse applique tee shirt and another dress in a different style....but can't seem to find the pictures at this time! The black shirt turned out to be my favorite! I really wanted it to be a dress but didn't have enough print is actually an Women's Plus size border skirt that I found at Goodwill for 99 cents! And I cut it up to make the tiers of this skirt.

I found the pics....and happend to find pics on reverse applique so that I can do a tutorial! Yeah me!
My version of the popular maxi dresses.

Butterfly reverse applique..torturial coming later today!

Just so you know...none of these outfits or tops cost more than a few dollars a piece. So of the material was given to me...the rest I picked up at garage sales and Goodwill over the course of 2 or 3 months. All of the tees were picked up at garage sales for a quarter a piece.

As to the rest of her wardrobe....we have lots of basic colored shorts and leggings. I did get her a new pair of shoes...and had budgeted in the cost of a new pair....however luck found me a pair of brand new Nike's at a garage sale for $3. The only things that I have actually had to go buy are her bras, panties and socks!

Now I am looking for Juniors Size 13/14 Jeans and Capri...because I found out by accident that size fits her in the waist and she will have pants to wear this winter! And the search goes on!

How do you save money on your kids clothes for school???

God Bless
Mama D

Crafty Letters

Crafty Letters...super easy...can be made any way you want....mmm...oh the possibilities!

Now me...I was looking for letters to spell out my baby's name to hang over his crib. I didn't want to use the paper mache ones that you can paint or decoupage...I don't live close to a craft store and didn't want to order them online. I didn't want the wooden ones...for the same reason...I suppose I could have gotten one of my menfolk to cut the letters out for's not like we don't have the supplies or tools to do so...however since getting one of the to take out the trash for me is a chore...I chose not to fight that battle!

Out of all my options I chose to use fabric as my medium! I have scraps from various projects running out my ears. I also knew that if Little Boy decided to grab one later in life and it went in his mouth...then no harm done! I also wanted to create something that could be used throughout his childhood if need be..I don't like things that I can't use for more than one just seems wasteful to me! As our child will be sharing the bedroom with my husband and myself for the first year or so I also wanted his "corner" to at least coordinate with the current decor. Our bedroom is done in navy blues, maroons, and creams. So that is not really a difficult task!

I choose scraps of homespun cotton and denim for accents. When I originally made these letters I use an old pair of Tool Man's jeans...thinking that the faded and worn denim would rag the way I wanted it to....unfortunately I made two the denim was too heavy weighted and I got too happy with the sewing machine making my project overly complicated!
SEE! The one on the right was my first attempt at making these can't even see the cute fabric underneath the denim! However the letter on the left has just enough texture and contrast to be cute!

Now to start this project I got on my favorite Print Shop program and found a font that I liked and printed out each letter on a piece of card stock. I then cut each letter out...and made sure they looked "right".  I didn't care for the J on the font that I used so ended up adjusting it a bit and making it look more J-like.

Next I assembled my supplies....I used scrap material, homespun cotton and denim. (on my first set I put a layer of batting in there two but later decided that it really wasn't needed!)

Next lay out each letter on your fabric and cut out three layers...two of your denim and one of cotton.

Now this is of my first attempt and shows the layer of batting....however you get the idea...just make sure when you cut out the denim you have right sides together....or vice versa...that way everything looks nice on the back to!

OK once everything is cut out...put your layers together and pin!

See you want a denim layer, cotton, unneeded batting and denim. Once everything is pinned you want to sew. I used a straight stitch and sewed a 1/4" seam all around each letter. This will hold your material together and allow you to cut out the inside.

See you want a denim layer, cotton, unneeded batting and denim. Once everything is pinned you want to sew. I used a straight stitch and sewed a 1/4" seam all around each letter. This will hold your material together and allow you to cut out the inside.

Now for the tedious want to get a very pointy sharp pair of scissors and carefully but out the inside top layer of denim from each letter. Try to leave an equal amount of material on either side of your stitching.
Now for the fun want to go around the outside of each letter, cutting through all layers and clip about every 1/4" to 1/2" and go around the top inside layer of denim only and clip. Just don't clip that seam...get close but not close enough to clip through.

To finish you want to get these wet...if it were a blanket or something big I would tell you to wash it... but considering the size I just ran mine under the tap water in the sink and then threw them in the dryer for about 15 minutes! This will cause all that clipped material to "rag"! Making your letters super dimensional! I went back over all of mine when they were dry and trimmed up anything that looked too messy. Then all I had to do was attach them to the walls...I used thumb tacks temporarily...but will come up with something baby proof later on!
I just love them....and they look so cute over crib! The original idea came from another blogger who made these out of just cotton material....and used them to teach their toddler the ABC's ....unfortunately I have misplaced the original site! But there are many ways to modify this idea for many different applications!

God Bless,
Mama D

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chicken Coop!

Well my wonderful Tool Man has also been busy this summer! One of the things that we had to do was build a chicken coop for my flock of chickens. We started out with 25 chicks and have 18 hens and one rooster left. Unfortunately a hungry Mama Cat found a way to get in our holding pen and had herself a little feast with 6 of my chickens! So the plans to move the chickens became a priority!

My hubby had already begun cleaning an area on one of the buildings around our house....luckily it already had a good roof and back wall! All he had to do was create side walls and front wall and door of course!
Lucky for us my granddaddy doesn't believe in throwing anything away...and he was able to use the sides of and old cotton trailer to build the remaining sides of the coop. Between the Tool Man and my Daddy I had a chicken coop in a couple of days! It amazed me what they accomplished with scrap tin sheets, wire to repair the chicken wire on the sides of the trailer and some old wood! I think the only thing they bought were the hinges and handle for the door!

My hard working Tool Man!!! And an inside view of the back wall of the coop!

After research and much advice to give my girls a perch up off the ground! So the Tool man put together this perch for me! The top and bottom is reinforce with a piece of sucker rod...and the rest is just 1"X6" boards and     1 1/2" dowel rods. He suspended this from the ceiling with heavy grade wire then secured it the the back wall with screws so that it wouldn't sway as the chickens got up and down!

The Tool Man also rigged this gravity feeder for me! When the chickens were little we had the traditional feeders...little tray with the holes in it...but they were always filling it up with their bedding and covering up their feed...and considering the floor of this coop is sand...I didn't want that! So Tool Man took a 5 gallon bucket (that he got for free!) and cut a hole in the bottom of it...suspend it from the ceiling over a tray...and now I have a feeder that I only have to fill up about every two weeks! The 5 gallon bucket holds about a 25 lb. bag of feed! Tool Man set it up on an old tire to try to keep the sand outta the feed. And this works really well. All I have to do is move the bucket forward to fill the tray everyday! That makes it so much easier on this pregnant woman!

Now there is nothing special about my waterer...other than the fact that I LOVE it and my Daddy got it for me! I tried to use the 1 gallon waterers. I had two of them and my poor chickens kept running out of water...I was going out there twice a day to keep them going! And with over 100 degree heat daily...water is very important for them! Besides all that the waterers that I had were the type that you filled from the bottom...which means I was taking them off the hooks, taking them outside the coop filling them up, carrying them back into the coop and rehanging them...sigh...cumbersome prego, with bad balance, uneven ground and heavy waterers...not a good combo. So with a plea to my Daddy (who helps take care of the's a joint venture!) He went an bought me this wonderful 3 gallon waterer! The lid lifts right off and all I have to do is stick a water hose down in there and fill it up! Now I do rinse out the bottom of the tray daily...but it is still super easy! And my Tool Man even ran a hose inside the coop with a cut off valve on it so I didn't have to walk over the uneven ground to get to the faucet!

This is our latest addition! Nesting boxes! My Daddy already had these...all they needed was a little repair work and we were ready to go! I got the pleasure of helping Tool Man hang it on the wall of the coop this afternoon! We had some leftover bedding from when they were little it is ready for the eggs! Just hoping some of my girls decide to start laying soon!

All in all I have a good looking flock of chickens! By the way red buckets were put in so that the chickens didn't have a far to jump to the ground from the perch....was advised that it might crack their eggs...would rather be safe than sorry! And thanks to my Tool Man and my Daddy...taking care of them is easy! I am just ready for some eggs....bring on the fresh eggs please!

God Bless,
Mama D

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm Still Here!

Well's been a while since I last posted! I am simply got in the way! Down here in Texas we have been having record break heat on a daily basis...very few days have we seen without going over the century mark. And we are also suffering with a drought! We actually got just a little rain about 10 days ago...and were very grateful. They cut our hay last night and we got a little over a bale an acre...which was excellent considering the weather conditions.

I am so sorry folks....being Texan and part of a cattle operation...the weather conditions are rather important...and not just an inconvenience in our household! I'll quit rambling now.

As most of you know I am pregnant! We found out the first part of June that it is a little boy and we have named him Elijah! I have been busy at the sewing machine trying to get ready for his arrival!
This is my first set of cloth diapers...tutorial to come soon. I made 24 to get us started! And intend to make that many more in the next size up, for later on. These are supposed to go up to 20 pounds. I had fun collecting my supplies at various garage sales and Goodwill! These were all made out of used receiving blankets, tee shirts and old cloth diapers! And to save money and keep the versatile I left off the speciality Velcro and snaps that are recommended...and will be using old fashioned diaper pins and vinyl covers.

I also convinced my darling Tool Man to set up his crib a little early so that I could have fun nesting and decorating! I was inspired to make some kind of wall decoration for my son....but I didn't want anything that cost money or could be pulled down and hurt him when he gets to that stage in life!

The letters of his name were made from scrap material leftover from projects of days gone by. And the cross stitch piece was made by yours truly several years ago...simply because I loved the pattern....never did give it away like I normally do my I know why I saved it!

I have also had time to make Bear a new tee shirt dress since Easter. However I did learn a very important lesson! Dresses with very full skirts on little girls inspire twirling....which is really cute...however it can get rather embarrassing when said girl does it during church front of the entire congregation! So when I made the new dress it wasn't quite as twirly!
But still fun to wear!

I also had time to make a little something for me too! I have enjoyed this pregnancy more than I thought I would....being over 100 pounds lighter makes a HUGE difference! And when I started showing I wanted a "Baby Bump" shirt...but me being me didn't want to pay for one...and since Baby is due in October I fell in love with the ones that say "Momma's Lil' Pumkin' Coming Soon!"

I used a technique called reverse applique...and thought my "Lil' Pumpkin" Shirt turned out rather cute! I had so much fun with the reverse applique technique that I have my teen age sister gathering up her plain tees to make cool new shirts for school! Also have several plans for Bear as well. And with school starting a month from today...I need to get busy!

Have you noticed yet the lack of cooking mentioned??? Well refer to my first paragraph as to how hot it is outside! I have been doing as little as possible in the kitchen the last couple of months! I generally hit it in spurts! And do as much as possible during that time! Considering the fact that my feet and legs are now swelling due to my pregnancy ... this will probably become the norm for a while! I am hoping to get my freezer well stock with freezer meals for the month of October and November! That way neither Tool Man or I have much to do kitchen wise!

Oh and we also had several birthdays at the beginning of this month! I had more fun making cakes!! I think I ended up making three in one week and a double batch of fried pies! I will have a post on the homemade fried pies, too!

Well the top picture is my version of an Over The Hill cake! We had three cousins at our family reunion...all born a month apart...all turning 40 this year! With a little help from my Tool Man and the Dollar Store this was an easy cake to decorate! The second is of course my Bear's 7th birthday cake! I realized that I had made all my girls a Barbie Doll cake at some point through out the years...and since Bear is into seemed like a good choice! She sure did love it! By the way the dolls arms are in the air because she held a banner that said Happy Birthday! My teenager also celebrated her Sweet 16 this year...but she is not into the decorated cakes. Why? When she can pick some kind of decadent dessert! So she got Homemade Hot Fudge Cake! Which I failed to get a picture of except with my phone!

Add a weeks worth of crafts at VBS and two 16 hour car trips to all of that and it has been a busy summer! Right now, except for getting ready for school, it has calmed down a bit, so I will have a little more time to get my thoughts together and get all these post written that I have picture for! You will be hearing from me again really soon!
God Bless,
Mama D

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice Baked Potatoes are one of my families "special" treats! However they can be a really cool freezer side dish or meal! I particularly like this recipe because it can be prepared ahead of time for as many or a few as you need. And IF you have extras they can be wrapped, frozen and reheated for a later meal!

Now this is one of those recipe that I watched a cooking show on how to make our favorite comfort foods healthier but still taste the same! And this is actually one of those recipes that can be altered in that manner and they still taste great!!! I have long since altered the recipe to suit my families taste and it is similar to the original...but has some of the good stuff added back in!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Now I normally use the 'regular' sized potatoes for this dish because we eat them as a side...however if you are using it as a meal use the larger bakers or plan on cutting the larger potatoes in half and counting as two portions!

You will need:
Jelly Roll pan or Cookie Sheet
# of potatoes (1 per person)

Thoroughly wash and scrub all potatoes. Dry with a paper towel. Puncture potatoes with a fork or knife a couple of times and bake uncovered in a 350 or 400 degree oven until soft. You want them uncovered so that the skins get a little on the crispy side! I have also rubbed mine with oil and kosher salt for added flavor.

Remove from oven and allow to cool until you can easily handle without burning yourself.

For smaller potatoes slice the top of the potato off...discard top...for larger potatoes cut in half lengthwise.

Scoop out insides, leaving enough around the edges for the shells to hold their shape. Place insides in a separate bowl.

Place shells back onto baking sheet. I normally line mine with foil and spray with oil to make the clean up process faster. And it's okay if they are a little crowded...won't hurt them a bit!
Now to deal with the insides!
This is where I am gonna tell you what I put in and any variations that I have used in the past.....but you put what YOU and your family like into the pot....this recipe is really about the process not the ingredients.

The first thing I do is add plenty of salt and pepper! This dish can be totally ruined if you don't season properly! Bland is not a good thing here! You want a really good combination of flavors!

Now this recipe was made for about 15 I have some big amounts of the following ingredients....if you are only making for a family of 4...adjust accordingly!

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk (and this can actually replace your butter altogether...for a more low fat version...omit the butter)
1 cup sour cream (I was out when I made this so I used plain yogurt and not one person....especially my overly "I don't eat yogurt!" Daddy couldn't tell the difference...snicker snicker!)
1 cup of grated cheese (flavor of your choice cheddar makes a really good addition...but all I had was mild cheddar)
3 or 4 slices of crisp bacon, crumbled (adjust this to taste as well! I have also been know to use turkey bacon (again Daddy never knew) or those soft bacon bits when I forgot to make my bacon ahead of time)

Mix all these ingredients with the potato insides. It should be kinda goopey! You don't want it too dry (just add a little extra buttermilk or sour cream) or to need to hold it shape. To avoid it being to goopey/soupy I add the buttermilk a little at a time toward the end of my mixing.

Stuff each shell with your not so goopey potato with all the added ingredients you are gonna have plenty of filling....I normally end up with don't be afraid to heap it up!!!! this point you can do one of several things.

1. You can wrap these in plastic wrap separately, place in Ziploc freezer bag...and freeze. When you get ready to serve them, merely take out the desired number of potatoes, thaw, top with grated cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate over night. Set out on counter about 30 minutes before topping with grated cheese and baking at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Immediately top with grated cheese and bake in a 350 degree over for 25 to 30 minutes while snacking on your left over filling and beating the kids off with a wooden spoon!

Regardless of the option you choose....

This is what it should look like when all baked and yummy! And don't forget IF you have leftovers...wrap well...freeze...thaw and reheat in the microwave!
I made these for Mother's Day....and as I was determined to do as little cooking as possible that day I made mine on Saturday and all I had to do Sunday was let them come to room temp. and bake!!!

Praying that you have a blessed week!
Mama D