Sewing With Toddlers Afoot

You may be wondering how I get any sewing done with two 3 year olds and an almost 2 year old? Well, I only just now figured it out. They may not have been mature enough for me to do it six months ago. I don’t know for sure because I didn’t try it then.  I suspect I would not have accomplished as much. However, I could have done something! If you think your kids are too young, give it a try. If it doesn’t work, then try again every few months. You will get there!

Here is how I do it:

1-      My downstairs (where I sew) looks like a preschool. There is no lack of toys, art supplies, and dress up clothes. They can access most of it by themselves.

2-      My sewing machine is on my kitchen table where I can see the entire floor and them at all times.

backyard3-      My sewing machine is also next to the back door. I have a small area accessed by this door fenced off just for the kids. It was only sod when we moved in so we made it toddler proof down to the plants. It looks like a preschool playground.

4-      I am lucky enough to have 10 hours to myself each week while my kids are at Mother’s Day Out.

toddler trashed house5-      I am willing to let my house look like a wreck during the day.

6-      I am learning that all my ducks don’t always have to be in a row and some projects actually can wait until tomorrow (the hardest part for me.)

M in costume

7-  I have started to realize that my kids don’t actually need my full attention constantly. I used to feel like I always had to be reading them a book or doing art projects. They are now learning to use their imaginations (and getting really good at it.) They don’t seem any less happy. In fact, they are probably happier because Mom is!

8-      Mickey Mouse Clubhouse


This is just what works for me. I know there are many ways to accomplish this. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few (or a lot of) false starts. Find what works for you. Remember, women have been sewing with kids at their feet for ages.


Sewing Pattern Virgin

Back in 2010, when I first bought my sewing machine, I also bought some fabric. I had dreams of making cute little matching outfits for my then one year old twin girls out of this fabric. Not having any idea how much fabric was needed to do this, I only bought one yard of each of them, seven different designs in all. They sat packed away for a couple of years until I pulled one of them out to put the ruffles on the girls’ jeans. See my very first post for this tutorial.

McCalls patternI still had six yards (of six different fabrics) left so I decided it was time to buy a pattern and finally put them to use. I chose the McCalls pattern M6387 (it was labeled as easy) from the Ruffles and Lace Treasured Collection and brought it home as my next project.
Well, as most of you have already guessed, I didn’t have near enough of any one fabric to make the clothes. So I packed the pattern away with the fabric and moved on. A few weeks ago I decided I was going to make some new outfits for my girls. Maya is really into tigers and Naomi loves Spider-Man. Do you know how hard it is to find girls’ clothes with tigers and Spider-Man on them? It is impossible. They don’t exist… anywhere. Until now!

spiderman and tigerI dug out that McCall’s pattern and got the fabric requirements for their size which is conveniently located on the back (Maybe I should have noticed that before, huh!) I got online and let my girls pick out which tiger and Spider-Man fabrics they liked best and placed the orders. The girls were so excited when it came in the mail. I knew this was going to be a fun project. That weekend, I went to the fabric store and chose some coordinating fabrics and got to work.

Alright, as promised in my Making Baby Blankets post, here is my attempt at a fabric list:

– “Tigers” (in long grass) designed for Exclusively Quilters

– “Tigers” (faces) designed for Exclusively Quilters  – Both tiger fabrics have the same name. Very confusing!

– I bought the rust colored fabric used on the Tiger outfit from JoAnn’s but I don’t know its name! So sorry!

– Red Spiderman Spider Sense Wall Crawler from Springs Creative

– Keepsake Calico Fabric – Tonal Swirled Stars Navy from JoAnn’s

The patterns were much more difficult than online photo tutorials. There was a steep learning curve with the new lingo but with the internet close at hand, I figured it out and finally finished the first set. The second one only took half the time! I am now no longer intimidated by store patterns though I am not sure it is going to be my favorite way to sew. I will make the other pieces that came in the package eventually. I can’t let them just sit there calling my name and not doing anything about it!

Overall, I think it took me about a week and a half of sewing. I completed most of it while the kids were either running around me or at Mother’s Day Out (Ahhh. My quiet time.) Occasionally, I sew at night but I usually find I am too tired once the kids are in bed (Yea! Even more quiet time.)girls sleeping

I may go back and redo the aprons. I haven’t decided if it’s worth it. They are not as full and “ruffly” as I would like.


I will wait and see how much it bothers me or if I can just let it go and move on. Or if I really want to do some sewing one day and don’t have any new projects available!

The best part of the whole process was the excitement of my girls when they tried them on, twirled around, and Naomi exclaimed that these were “the best dancing outfits ever!”


The Perfect Sewing Room

When I first daydreamed about learning to sew, I had this idea that I was going to need a sewing desk where my machine permanently sat and all my fabrics were neatly organized on shelves nearby. In fact, not having that sort of area actually deterred me from starting.

The only serious seamstress I know is my aunt (In fact, she has her own sewing blog. Check it out: Bibi Sews ) She has a cute little sewing room on the second floor of her house. It has been years since I have been there but I remember even as a kid, being fascinated by that room.  In my mind, it is the epitome of what a sewing room should be. It was only until I got a few projects completed that I realized if I had a sewing room I wouldn’t get ANYTHING done EVER! If I shut myself away to sew, I would only be able to do it after the kids were in bed and I would never get to spend any kid-free time with my husband. The only way I am able to accomplish anything is that I sew right there among 3 rambunctious kiddos.

kids at table

Because the kids are always around me, I have to be extra careful when I need to iron and I have to turn off and unplug my machine every time I need to potty (TMI?) but I worked out a system pretty quickly. It’s not pretty, but whose house is when you have a toddler or three around? I have a kitchen cabinet dedicated to storing (or stuffing in) my supplies and if someone is coming over, I put my machine away.

sewing storage cabinet

Otherwise, my machine pretty much lives on one end of our kitchen table and has family dinner with us every night.

dinner table

Another plus side to all of this is my little Naomi is already asking if she can sew like mommy! So don’t let your lack of space keep you from turning on that machine. If you think having to pack and unpack your project every day may be worth the joy you get from sewing, then get that machine back out and make something!

In the meantime, I keep saying to myself that I will set up a dedicated sewing area upstairs when the kids are all in kindergarten. That’s really only a few (seemingly long) years away and to fill in the time, I will keep drooling over all those beautiful sewing rooms on Pinterest and daydreaming away.

Where do you do your sewing?

Making Baby Blankets

M&NWe moved to San Antonio in 2009 when John got a job offer we couldn’t refuse. Our newborn twins were not only a lot of work but cost a lot of money as well! The change was necessary but it was hard to pick up and leave all those babysitters (grandma and our close friends). We love our new city but I also miss my hometown and my family and friends a whole bunch. One of our friends has since married and he and his wife are expecting their first baby. With Christmas approaching, I needed to come up with a gift for them and with my new found love of sewing and their new baby on the way, I couldn’t resist the chance to make their gift my new sewing project!

I searched for some baby projects and finally settled on baby blankets. I wanted something really simple that I couldn’t mess up. I was going to rely on the fabrics for the cuteness factor. I headed to Joann’s Fabrics and picked up some flannels and cottons I thought were cute but not too girly or boyish. The parents have had the sex of the baby sealed in an envelope for weeks now and haven’t even peeked themselves! I say that takes some serious restraint! I wouldn’t have lasted an hour. I don’t know the name of these fabrics but I am going to try in the future to document them and let you guys know. I hate it when I see cute fabrics online and don’t know how to get them!

Now for the tutorial. You knew this was coming right? This time I decided to use one I found at Ode to Inspiration. She claims to be a beginner and “has no business doing a sewing tutorial” but she did a fabulous job. It was very easy to follow and I made two blankets in just a few hours. I made mine without the batting but I thought a layer of cotton and flannel would be plenty warm enough for a springtime Alabama baby! Her presentation was so nice I copied her folding technique.

baby blankets

I finally found some ribbon after I took the photo and tied them the same way before I shipped them. I just love her label too. It is the perfect finishing touch and I hope one day I will be able to justify getting some of my own! Now I just have to come up with the perfect handmade gift to send them after the birth. Do any of you have favorite baby gifts you love to sew?

The Christmas (or any occasion) Pennant Banner

banner closeupAlright, I know Christmas is over but you can make pennant banners for all sorts of occasions! Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, bedroom decorations, anniversaries, you get the idea! In fact, I came up with the idea of making one by using a couple of different sources, neither of which was Christmas themed. I first saw the idea on  Hang To Dry . They create and sell really beautiful applique designs.  They also have several super cute applique pennant designs available. I have bought several of their designs since so you will probably see their stuff come up again. However, I did not buy one this time around. I was afraid to spend the money not knowing if I could really do this. Luckily I had a plan. I needed another free online tutorial! After a little searching, I found this tutorial at Sew In Harmony.  The embroidery aspect of the banner was not covered in the instructions so I decided to just go for it.

tear away sulkyMy applique savvy cousin had kindly informed me that I needed to buy stabilizer (yep, I am that much of a newbie) and although I couldn’t find the exact type she suggested, I bought a roll of tear-away and just followed the directions on the package (I am not going to go into detail here either but I plan on doing some embroidery/applique tutorials in the future for those who would like a little more info.)

I then went out and picked up some Christmas fabrics and red and green embroidery thread from Hobby Lobby and sat down and started playing with my machine.

For the applique…

frame selection

I ended up using this preset circular frame

and this font already included with my machine.

and this font already included with my machine.

I put them together and ended up with this!

I put them together and ended up with this!

After I finished embroidering all my frames and letters, I followed the tutorial and was pretty pleased with the way it turned out.


Creating the Rosettes :

button flowersOnce I looped the bias tape around the corners of my mirror I thought it looked a little unfinished so I came up with these rosettes using scraps. Originally I tried using the preset frames on my machine to attach them together and create the flower’s center. Once I decided to use the buttons for centers instead, I realized they could just as easily have been sewn together by hand. If you want to make some of your own its really simple.

-First cut your leftover fabrics into varying size circles.

-Find a coordinating button.

-Stack your circles largest on bottom to smallest on top.

-Sew the button on through all the layers (a thimble helps).

-To get the frayed ends, wet the edges of the fabric and run your fingernail along them.

You’re done. Now wasn’t that super easy!

I am still pretty proud of my first embroidery attempt. It went much smoother than anticipated. In fact, I only messed up a letter once! The fabric moved inside the frame somehow and the stitching was off. It did not go to waste. There is an “M” pennant floating around the house somewhere because my 3 year old daughter Maya recognized it as the first letter of her name and claimed it as her own!

I am so amazed how much awesome sewing information is out there for newbies like me. I finished this project feeling like I could accomplish anything armed with my machine! Now I only have to decide which project to do next? Hmmmmm…

My Sewing Machine

After the success of my first project, one would think I would have jumped right in and started a new project, right? Nope. Remember I have 3 toddlers at home. I had good intentions. I bought a pattern to make clothes for the girls and some fabrics to add to my stash of other still unused fabrics but never actually pulled my machine out until a few months later. I had a conversation with my cousin about her embroidery machine that made me want to figure out how my own worked.

Maybe this is a good time to introduce my machine.

sewing machine

I have the Brother Project Runway sewing/embroidery combo. I can’t decide if I am embarrassed or not that it has the PR name all over it. I actually like the show (and DVR every episode) but surely serious sewers wouldn’t have PR all over their machine?  However, it comes with this really handy rolling carry bag for the machine and parts which is well worth having that logo everywhere!

machine case

Besides until now, no one else has even seen it.

I can’t give you a lot of detail about the machine because I am still learning about it myself. I find it easy to use and have had no issues with it yet. Even the instruction book that came with it is very helpful! I have decided though that in the future I would like a machine with an embroidery area larger than 4×4. I would love to do larger embroidery on my kids’ shirts.

I also have dreams of one day owning a serger. I haven’t actually really needed one yet but I am sure I could find good reasons to use it!  So far all the tutorials and patterns I have completed say to serge the raw ends. They also all gave an alternate way to finish with your sewing machine if you don’t have one.

These options are usually:

-Cut raw edges with pinking shears. You know, those crazy scissors that look like they have teeth!

pinking shears

– Run a zigzag stitch along the edge. My machine does this with just a push of a button. I think I did this correctly in the photo below. Remember this is my first attempt!

zig zag edge

– or a combination of these.

Perhaps these options aren’t as efficient as using a serger but they do the job. I wonder if a serger is a time saver or not.

Is owning a serger the official moment you become a “real” seamstress? How cool would it be to have all those professional looking edges! Do any of you own a serger? Do you find it indispensable?