Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book Recommendation: February

Book Recommendation for February:
Book Recommendation.jpg
This book has special meaning to my family, besides being about love during the month of love. While my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, we found out we were pregnant with our first child. Though he couldn’t physically be present during my pregnancy, I wanted him to be involved as much as possible. I sent him the Hallmark recordable version of this book. He recorded his voice reading the story. I was able to hold the book to my belly so that our first born would be able to hear and know his Daddy’s voice even from afar.
It is a very cute story, perfect for newborns and older. You do not have to buy the recordable version; they have paperback versions available too. However, if you are ever separated from your family and they need to hear your voice, these recordable books are perfect for those little ears!

Written by: Angela

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Girl's Heart Applique Shirt for Valentine's Day

I’m pretty excited to share this project with you! I was thinking of making my children a Valentine’s outfit this year, but I also wanted something that could be worn past the 14th. The Martha Pullen Company came to the rescue when they sent their weekly newsletter with the little gem pictured below. Here is a link to the tutorial on their website for the “Sew an Adorable Heart Applique”.

The instructions are simple and the heart template is provided on the website. This applique can even be done with a store-bought shirt. I didn’t have all the supplies on hand to make this exact cutie and I had no desire to drag my two children to the fabric store, so I  decided to improvise with some of the details. Here is a list of the materials I used:
  1. Butterick Pattern B5877, View A - The great thing about this pattern is the lining, which allowed me to hide the stitches of the heart ribbon between the two pieces of fabric. Any pattern with a flat bodice should work, or a store-bought/already-owned shirt.
  2. Fabric - The amount needed will depend on the size and width. I used fabric from my stash; a light blue chambray for the bodice, top ruffle, and straps for hearts and pink cotton for the bottom ruffle and heart appliques. The ruffles in the pattern are highly, highly and did I mention highly gathered. If you are short on length, no worries there is plenty of wiggle room.
  3. Lace/Ribbon - Martha Pullen’s tutorial calls for Ric-Rac Trim to be used, however I didn’t have anything that coordinated with the fabrics I chose. Instead I swapped the mini Ric-Rac that holds the hearts with self-made straps. I swapped the large Ric-Rac that goes around the bodice with white ribbon that I already owned.
  4. Four ½ inch buttons - Again I used buttons from my stash. These particular buttons I had removed from a shirt that was stained. In general, I remove all hardware (buttons, zipper, D-rings) from clothing and save.
  5. Fusible web - Another stash item. I don’t know the brand or type of product I used, the box has long been gone, but it is probably something similar to this.
  6. Stabilizer - All I own is a tear-away stabilizer by Sulky. It says it is iron-on, in my experience the only thing it sticks to is my iron if I accidentally touch it. I have never gotten this product to temporarily adhere to the fabric, but it still works great, tears away nicely and I am not wasting a whole roll to find something better.
  7. Marking tool - I use these Pilot pens. As I have said before, these pens are not designed for fabric, but the markings disappear when steam is applied. With that said, there is still invisible ink left behind that can become visible at cold temperatures so use caution. In my experience the ink has always disappeared with steam and never reappeared in New Jersey cold weather. Until I find something better, these are my favorite.
  8. Heart applique template - This can be found on the Martha Pullen website here.
  9. The usual sewing items - Sewing machine, scissors, thread, iron, etc.

For the most part I followed the tutorial on Martha Pullen’s website here, with some modifications.

  1. I needed to make my straps for the hearts since I didn’t own Ric-Rac. I cut a 10 inch by 1 inch strip from the chambray. I folded the strap in half and created a crease with an iron. Then  I folded the raw edges inside the strap and ironed again. The result is a ¼ inch wide strap. I sewed the long open end of the strap along the edge, but I did not sew the short edges. I cut the strap into three pieces, two 2 ½ inch and one 3 inch.  Lesson learned: I wish I would have sewed both long edges to make the stitch lines symmetrical.

I used a special foot to sew close to the edge


  1. I printed 3 heart templates and traced them onto the pink fabric. I sandwiched the fusible webbing between the two pink fabric layers. I deviated from the tutorial here and did not fuse everything together before cutting out the appliques. Instead, I put a pin in the middle of each heart and cut out all 3 layers.

The order of items from bottom to top is pressing cloth, pink fabric, fusible web, pink fabric, heart templates and pattern weights


  1. I placed a strap between the pink fabric layers and fused following the manufacturer's instructions. I placed the longer strap in the heart that would be in the middle. Lesson learned: Since my straps are a darker color than my hearts, you can see them. I would suggest trimming the end that is going to be put inside the heart to a point, and ensuring that the straps go in evenly, in the middle and at the same depth. I imagine you could use interfacing or a third layer of pink fabric but that is a lot of additional work and more layers to fuse.


  1. I used a satin stitch around the raw edges of the heart, encompassing the straps when I was at the center.  For the bottom point of the heart, when I was about 2 stitches away from the point I reduced my stitch length, did 2 stitches, picked up the presser foot (while needle is down) and rotated the fabric a little and repeated the 2 stitches until I came around the point, then I returned to the previous stitch length and continued sewing. Be careful not to do too many stitches at the point since you are using the same spot for the needle to go into the fabric. This  could create a lot of bulk or put a large hole in the fabric. For the indent of the heart I went into the fabric 3 stitches (it may be different for you depending on your stitch length), then pivoted the fabric.
  2. Moving on from the applique I started working on my pattern. I trace all my patterns now which is a huge extra step but for me it works. I traced the 5 pattern pieces onto pattern paper and cut them out. Then I cut out my pattern pieces from my fabric, the bodice and upper ruffle from the chambray and lower ruffle from the pink cotton.
  3. On the bodice pieces I measured 1 inch down from the armscye and drew a straight line across, ensuring it was level across all three bodice pieces (this will be the sewing line for the ribbon). Be careful that you consider your seam allowances when deciding where the trim will go. Lesson learned: I should have placed the trim all the way to the edge of the back center pieces, but instead I stopped about ½ after the fold line for the facing. This misstep did not interfere with the look of the outfit, the only thing it would have done is make the inside look pretty too.

  1. Next I sewed the top of the white ribbon onto my front bodice piece (not the lining), leaving the bottom free to insert the straps. PLEASE NOTE if you are using Ric-Rac or thin ribbon you will skip the top row of stitching. I then measured where I wanted the hearts to go and ensured they did not have an awkward placement on my daughter. I pinned the hearts into place and sewed the bottom of the ribbon down, going over the straps. The tutorial mentioned bar tacks to better secure the straps. Instead, once I sewed over a strap I went into reverse and sewed it again. I  think this worked for me because of the ribbon I was using.
  2. I then sewed the ribbon to the back bodice pieces, ensuring everything was level all the way around.
  3. That’s it for the applique! From here I sewed the pattern together as written. There were two things that tripped me up while sewing this. The first was the wording “sew invisibly” in step 13. I found this blog post by Sew Essentially Sew to be helpful. The next problem which was my fault, was ensuring that the center backs were matched up and that I had enough room to sew on the buttons. On the shirt I made, the last button is barely on the back piece, so be careful.

This outfit came out super cute, and the best part is I have my own skirt I made myself that matches this shirt, if I feel inclined to have us match. To style this shirt for cold weather I placed a long sleeve shirt underneath. Happy Sewing!!

View of inside front

View of inside back

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Inspirational Board

Written by Angela
My Inspirational Board

 I’m going to give total credit for this idea to my friend Cali! Her soul screams inspiration through and through. She got me through so many rough times in college and kept me positive as much as possible!

Now that I am a mom who stays at home with her kids, I need inspiration more than ever! Sometimes I find it a struggle to get out of bed and find meaning in my life…and I’m sure I’m not the only one! It becomes even harder when the crying and tantrums of your kids morph your day into a complete blur. I need a constant reminder of who I am and why I do what I do. For me, this reminder needs to be visual.

Cali always had an inspirational or an “I love me” board hanging in her room in college. She had cut outs from magazines, books, and anything she could find that brought about positive thoughts and her goals. This could include quotes or photos of places to visit, workouts, foods, family, basically anything that helps you remind yourself of who you are and what you get true happiness from.
I used several magazines that I like to make the collage.

All you really need is a board, this could be a bulletin board, poster board, anything you can find. Get some old magazines and find some photos that bring you happiness. Grab some photos of your family and kids. Find some postcards of places you want to see. Assemble everything into a collage and hang it somewhere you will see it every day.
God is in the top corner as the first thing I look at from left to right.
I have a photo of my husband and I to remind me that our relationship is a top priority.
I've always wanted to travel to Manchu Picchu in Peru!
I have a piece of cloth to represent my love for sewing and being creative. I also have a theme of fitness scattered through out. I love to work out; it makes me feel happy and positive.
I have photos of my kids to remind me of how my life has changed forever, in a good way, because of them. "Look Great" is next to them to remind me to never "let myself go" by being too overwhelmed with the kids' needs.

Hopefully this little reminder helps you stick to your goals for the new year and beyond!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Felt Play Cookie Dough and Cutouts

Felt Cookies on Ikea kid's baking sheet

  For Christmas this year my kids' "BIG" present was a Ikea play kitchen. I wanted to make some extra special food items for them to play with. My daughter is always asking me if she can help out in the kitchen, and our son just wants to make loud noises with the pots. In addition to the kitchen we got them the baking set from Ikea. I used this as my template to create the play cookie dough and cutouts. I was able to finish this project in about two hours, or in parent language - one nap time.

A little back story, I got into felt sewing about three years ago because of a blog called Imagine Our Life. She has some pretty amazing tutorials and way too good to be free but are patterns. My first big project was a quiet book with a Firehouse theme. That particular quiet book took me a year to make, but all the things I learned in the process really helped me to be more fearless in my crafting adventures.

Materials Needed:
+ Felt - 2 pieces of 9 x 12 dough color felt (or any size as long as they match). I purchased my felt from American Felt and Craft, and used the color Buttercream.
+ Fusible Fleece - 1 piece of 9 x 12 (or whatever size to match your felt pieces). I used Pellon's TP971F and that seems to be holding very well. However I am sure other types would work just as well.
+ Scissors  - They need to be sharp since the cutting has to be very precise.
+ Pins - I like glass head pins because you can iron over them!
+ Ink marking tool - I use these pens by Pilot. They disappear with the steam of the iron. With that said please do some research into these before you use them on anything nice (expensive), they aren't specifically designed for fabric and technically leave a invisible ink mark behind that can magically reappear at the right cold temperature.
+ Cookie cutters - I used the ones that came in the Ikea baking set linked above.
+ Iron
+ Pressing cloth
+ Wash clothes - ones that aren't important
+ Sewing Machine - I used a zigzag stitch throughout this project. This can also be done by hand, but probably not in one nap session. You could use a blanket stitch to join and finish the edges. If you are new to hand sewing and want a book for reference try the library before buying anything, I borrowed “Handsewn: The Essential Techniques for Tailoring and Embellishment” by Margaret Rowan many times before I finally purchased it. Your library might also give you access to different databases that offer free video subscriptions, such as to "Films on Demand". This particular database offers very basic hand sewing videos made in 1991, but free is free if your library offers it!
+ Matching Thread
+ New needle - If needed, I used the denim needle that was already in my machine. A universal needle would work also.

+ While sewing this the layers of fabric shifted some and I would have to realign them, and in some places you can see the fleece on my cookies. If this is something that you think will bother you it might help to fuse all layers together (either with a temporary adhesive or a paper backed fusible webbing) before cutting out the cookie pieces. As I said I didn't do this, so I am not sure if this extra step would have improved the final product.


1)  Ensure that your two pieces of felt are the same size, or cut them to the same size. ** When choosing what size you want this to be consider two things:  1) the size of the baking pan and how many cookies will fit on it and does that match up to how many cookies cutouts the dough can accommodate 2) consider where this will be stored, will the dough fit on the kitchen shelf **

2) Trace one piece of felt onto the fusible fleece, and cut along traced line.

3) Fuse the fleece to one side of felt following the manufacturer's instructions. If you have lost the instructions and it is Pellon, the instructions can be found on their website in a PDF format on that particular item's page. In the picture below the order from bottom to top is: press cloth, fleece, felt, and wet wash clothes.

Pellon, fleece, felt

4) Now would be the time to fuse all the pieces together if you want. I pinned the second piece of felt to the felt/fleece combo with the fleece in the middle. I wanted to round the edges of the dough, so I used the cookie sheet and traced that onto the felt and cut along the drawn line.

Before rounding the edges

After rounding the edge

5) Time to get that sewing machine ready (or hand needle) and use it very briefly. Checklist: Matching thread, bobbin wound, new needle, right presser foot (for zigzag), right settings (for zigzag), do a test run of the material to ensure stitching is good (I used a leftover scrap from when I rounded my edges), and lastly are kids still napping or safely entertaining themselves. If all systems are a go, or as good as it is going to get, time to sew briefly! Zigzag stitch around the entire perimeter of the cookie dough. Once done it is time to go back to the drawing/cutting table.

6) Plan how you want the cookies to layout on the dough and ensure the amount you want fit. Trace the outside edge of the cookie dough cutters and cut along the drawn lines. Put a pin in the middle of each traced cookie, this will help the layers stay together. Be very careful when cutting, I used a rotary cutter to do the first cut through all the layers then switched to a pair of small sharp scissors to do the trace cutting.

7) Yeah! Time to go back to the sewing machine. First, double check the settings and the kids though. I started with the dough first since there is more room for error with this piece. Zigzag all the edges where the cookies were cutout. For the points on the stars and bottom of the heart, go past the point by a stitch or two, than lift up the pressure foot and rotate the fabric. In regards to the opposite points, I have nothing - I literally just went with it, trying to keep the thread in line with the edge and did a lot of hoping. For the most part this worked, however there are a few minor missed sections on mine. It does help to reduce your stitch length around the tight turns though. Once you are done with the dough it is time to test your skills with the cookies.

8) Check your bobbin, do you have enough thread! Check the kids! Time to zigzag the edges of the cookies. These sweet things kept me on my toes. The fabric layers shifted, especially around the tight corners and points. I had to lift my pressure foot and readjust the layers many times. I also tried not to tug or force my fabric around the corners and curves to aggressively, I noticed if I forced it too much it would shift the layers more. Again reducing the stitch length on the tight corners and curves can be helpful, but it is also an additional step you need to remember. With things in reverse, the parts that were easier to sew with the dough are now the hard parts, oh those star points. Go slow and try to think a few stitches ahead, you will make it through.  Can you smell the sweet victory of cookies yet?! Lastly remove any tracing marks left on the fabric, with my pens I used the steam from the iron.

This project was well loved by the time I took this picture.
The cookies had actually been hand washed once already due
to the typical drama of having children.

9) Show off your amazing work to the kids!

My youngest posed like he had put the cookies in the oven!
All this baking is making me hungry, there has got to be
something to eat in here.
Smell those sweet felt cookies!

Time to get them on the cooling floor
My work here is complete!

I hope you enjoy this tutorial. My kids have already enjoyed these cookies for about a month now and they are holding up extremely well. Besides some wrinkling from the hand washing, and a small stain or two that won't come out, they look great and no stitching has come undone!

Written by: Shawna

Monday, January 25, 2016

Inaugural Blog Post- New Year Resolutions

Angela and I have been discussing starting a joint blog about our chaotic “mom” adventures for some time now. However, for me it was the fear of the unknown and the ability to find balance in my current life that made me hesitant about starting something so out of my realm of expertise. All I was familiar with was reading blogs and pinning the pretty pictures. After nearly talking myself out of it, I realized that most of my proudest accomplishments in life were a result of overcoming fear. We decided that this was a risk worth taking and running with! Lo and behold! Here is our first post! Though we still face many challenges ahead, we are excited for what our new blogging future brings!  To find out more about us check click here or our link on the homepage.

With the beginning of a new year comes new “resolutions.” It is so easy to fall into the trap of TV advertisements or mall vendors trying to sell you that perfect product that will ultimately shape the “old you” into the “new and improved you!” This year, we are choosing to shape ourselves a little different. We present to you our individual new year’s resolutions!

What are your resolutions this year? Are you going to let fear hold you back?

Shawna’s Resolutions

  • Finances , my big thing I want to work on is building my personal savings account. My husband and I each get an allowance and I am very good at spending every last cent, so I have started to put a set amount away each time I get paid.
  • Fitness, checking the box of generic here. Let me state this first though, I love my body. I carried two babies, ran 50 miles in one day (many years ago), and am healthy, yep I love my body. It has taken a long time to not want to continuously weigh myself and to just love. However I am not as strong as I was in the Army and I am not sure I could run two miles anymore. I also want my children to see me strong so I need to work on strengthening my body. My biggest culprit is time, I like spending my small amount of quiet time messing around on the internet or sewing, not hanging out with my TV and the “exercise of the day” video. This one is going to be tough.
  • Sewing is something that I taught myself about three years ago and haven’t stopped since. Another one of those things where fear slowed me down, but I’m so glad I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve really enjoyed the ability to create things and solve problems. I almost feel like a superhero when my husband asks me to fix something; it is one of the few things that I can do for him. My resolution is in regards to an online sewing magazine subscription I currently have called Seamwork. The subscription provides two patterns every month, but unfortunately, I haven’t sewn even one yet. My goal is to sew at least 4 pieces from the subscription this year. In case you are wondering, the magazine itself is free to read and is full of many wonderful articles. This month they discuss making active wear!
  • Being in the moment with my children is something I really want to work on. I love to make things for them, but I think I use it as an escape from sitting with them. This year I want to cherish real memories with them and enjoy them.   
  • Grow meaningful friendships. I enjoy having good friends, but I feel like I took a break in maintaining them after my son was born because of fatigue. As part of my resolution, I want to identify those friends that I cherish and work on improving those relationships.
  • Deciding on degree plan has brought about the most fear in me in my life right now. Being a military veteran, one of the benefits we earned is an education scholarship. It pays for the tuition, fees, books and rent/mortgage. My husband is currently in a Master’s program taking advantage of his GI Bill, but once he graduates, I would like to go back to school. However, there is one big obstacle in the way, ME. I don’t know what I want to do. I enjoy the flexibility of being home with my kids, but I would like to have a career again. I am also afraid that I won’t get into school. Crazy... but I’ve been home with my kids for 4 years; that is a tremendous lag in my resume. I keep going around in circles about different careers based upon the hours they work and their perceived stress level. I will have to make a decision before the summer and need to apply myself to answering the “what’s next” question.
  • Take a shower before kids wake up in morning is my last resolution. Yep, pretty simple but so hard. This would make my mornings go a little smoother, however like I said before, I enjoy surfing around on the internet, sewing, or make things in the little extra time I have.

Angela’s Resolutions

We did family goals which are below:

  • Read the Bible/pray together
    • our goal is to finish the whole Bible
    • pray together every night
  • Eat healthier (more fruit and veggies)
    • Angela- lose 15 lbs
      • My weight loss would be a mix of various exercises (running, yoga, biking) as well as balancing my food intake with healthier options
  • Community service once a quarter
    • We are working with our church to become more involved with the “Children’s Church.” I would like to teach the 1-3 year old group through interactive activities and stories, rather than just see them play with toys while their parents are in the service.
  • Date Nights- Unbox Love (once a month)
    • Unbox Love is an online service for couples who do not have time to plan dates. It is a monthly subscription where they send you everything you and your spouse need to have an ideal date night at home. Will be featured in an upcoming blog!
  • Couple bible study once a quarter using ordered book
    • My husband and I have couples bible study books that we have ordered that provide guided lessons and questions for you and your spouse to learn more about each other and grow your relationship with God.
  • 2016 2000K Challenge
    • The 2016 2000k Challenge is something I started with family members. Our goal is to run 2000k in 2016, or roughly 24 miles a week.
  • Improve communication
    • Tell each other our problems before they boil over.
    • Turn off the TV more and spend quality time together.
  • Decide on 3rd kid by March
    • We have come up with this as a deadline for multiple reasons. We have been debating for a long time and continue to go back and forth on it. We finally just decided that March would be our deadline for deciding.
  • Work on being more in the moment with the kids
    • Appreciate them and realize this time with them is going to fly by. I can read them one more story, they can sit in my lap a little longer...
  • Read at least 1 book per quarter
    • I’ve been given several books over the holidays and I would like to actually make time to read them.

Written by: Shawna and Angela