Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chevron Easter Dress- The More Frugal Way

This Easter will be the first one that we have celebrated when I have known how to sew!  So, of course, I wanted to make the girls and myself dresses.  And what better dresses to make this year then ones made out of chevron fabric (since it is all the rave this year)!  My sister-in-law first inspired me by showing me these pictures and telling me that she would love to have dresses for her two girls just like this:

She had found this on Etsy for around $45!

And she also showed me this picture and said she would love to have a dress for herself just like it:

I think she found this picture on Etsy or Pinterest as well, but I don't know the price for it.

Well, these dresses really did not look that complicated to me. So, I decided to make her two girls and my two girls dresses similar to this child's dress and myself and my sister-in-law dresses similar to the adult dress.
And the search began!
  It has been a rather long process to find affordable chevron fabric, find affordable patterns to tweak and then figure out how to put it all together.  Not to mention figuring out how to make those cute little flowers on each of the dresses.  But, I have finally completed all 6 dresses!  And I guess I should really say "we" , because I could not have done any of it without my ever faithful sewing teacher and companion, Bonnie Skinner!  After all, I have just learned to sew with a regular sewing machine and she is the master surger!  She brought her surger over tons of days and we surged a lot of the dresses rather than just sew them.

So here they are:

My nieces dresses:
 My sister-in-law's dress:
 My girl's dresses:
 And my dress:

I am so excited about how they turned out!  And I must say that the dresses for my sister-in-law's family look pretty much just like the originals!  

Now to explain how we did it all!

We bought all of the chevron fabric at Hobby Lobby.  It is the cotton grey and white chevron and the yellow and white chevron.  We found it on sale for $4.30 per yard!  That is a great deal since every other place I found it online was at least $9.00 per yard plus shipping!  We also got the grey and white polk-a-dot for the same price at Hobby Lobby.  (Hobby Lobby often carries the DUC chevron fabric, but that is not what you want.  DUC is very stiff and is not good dress material.)  And just to mention- right now it is very hard to find the chevron fabric because it is in very high demand.  If you can't find it in your local store, you could always try Hobby Lobby on-line or check with them about pre-ordering to your local store.  Our local store told a friend of mine that the chevron fabric was being sold out the minute it hit the stores, so they have recommended pre-ordering.

I found most of the teal fabric for the girl's sashes and flowers at Wal-Mart for $4.44 per yard, but I ran out mid-project.  So, I found the rest of it at JoAnne's Fabric Store for around the same price.  The yellow fabric for the adult belts, flowers and trim, I found also at JoAnne's for $4.18 per yard.  

Next was the pattern search.  I found both of them at Wal-Mart.  One of the patterns was $2.97 and one was $.97, but I can't remember which one was which.  

For the girls' dresses: 

I used this pattern:

Pattern tweaking:   we took out the ruffled, pieced layers on the skirt and just used one piece of fabric.  We also used less fabric around for the skirt than the pattern called for.  We just wrapped the fabric around the girls and added enough extra for them to be able to move around.  The pattern called for a lot of fabric, but we felt like it was just too much.  We also left off the bow around the neckline and used elastic there and in the arm bands instead. On my dress, we also changed the fabric from the bodice to the skirt.  I wanted to make mine a little different.  And once we had it made, I tried it on and it was shorter than I had wanted.  So, we just added some yellow fabric to the bottom.  I actually loved the way that gave it an extra color punch!

For the sash- we didn't use a pattern.  We just cut the fabric in strips of around 10 inches because we wanted the belt to be around 4 inches wide.  We had to piece two strips together to get it to be long enough to tie a large bow in the back.  We cut the ends at an angle so that they would taper off when tied.  

For the flowers on the sash I used this blog tutorial:

Here was the process in pictures-

The circles of fabric I used for the flower petals.  I used various size cups to draw my circles, but everyone says they don't have to be perfect.  (I am just a perfectionist :) )

My felt circles that made the bases of each flower.

Folding it in half.

Making an "s" out of it after folding it.  Then I just put a dot of hot glue at the bottom of each of the folds.

The first layer. I used ten larger circles.

The second layer. I used eight medium sized circles.

Third layer. Almost finished! I used seven of the smallest circles.

Added button and done!
I plan to just use safety pins to attach all of the flowers so that they can be removed for washing and so that we can change them out with other colors if we want.  

For the adult dresses: 
For the adult dresses I used the "New Look 6891" pattern.  

Pattern Tweaking: this pattern is originally for a shirt.  So, we just extended the length of the shirt by whatever our measurements were.  We also used elastic in the neckline instead of the tie.  On one dress I also used elastic in the arm band, but on my dress, we did the fabric ties.   

For the belt of the adult dresses- we just cut strips for them a little more than twice the width that we wanted them to end up.  And then we made them a little longer than our waist measurements.  Right now I plan to either put a snap on them or just use safety pins to hold them on.  

The three flowers on each of the adult belts were created using this blog:

The only thing I changed was that I hot glued the last 3-4 petals on rather than hand stitching them.  So again, I will have to attach my flowers with safety pins so they can be removed for washing.  But, that also gives me the ability to move them around or only put one or two of the flowers on the belt.  I could always wear one in my hair as a clip or a head band or attach one to a little bracelet!  And I can make other flowers to change in and out on the belt to give the dress a different look as well.

Here is how my flowers and belt turned out:

I also found this website helpful for making what ever kind of fabric flower that most interests you:
This blogger has gathered lots of flower tutorials all in one place to make it easier on people like me who are searching for DIY flower tutorials!  Thank you!

In the end, with everything that I purchased, I made each of these dresses for around $16.  However, I was left with several yards of fabric, lots of elastic, both of the patterns and a giant bucket of colorful buttons to use on other projects. So really, I would estimate that my actual cost of supplies was only around $14 per dress.  But, I also have to admit that the research, looking for supplies, watching and finding the right flower tutorials, measuring and cutting fabric and sewing, surging and making flowers took quite a long time for 6 dresses!  

So, that $45 for that precious little girls dress is really not a bad price.  Although doing it myself taught me so much and saved me money in the long run.  And I can't wait to all wear and take pictures in our dresses on Easter day!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Grocery Lists and Christmas Cards

I am well aware that grocery lists and Christmas cards don't typically go together.  However, in my house, they kinda do!  Inside my pantry door, I have a dry erase board hanging with my grocery list and that is also where I keep all of my Christmas cards after the holiday is over.

The dry erase board is where I jot down anything that I run out of that needs to go on my grocery list.  I keep a dry erase marker on the top shelf of the pantry so I can grab it quickly.  Any time I use or eat the last of something, someone in the family thinks of something they would like me to have from the store or I just have a thought of something I need to buy- I just jot in down quickly. And then when it is time to go to the store- I can look at my list and make my grocery list from it.  This dry erase board had a natural wood frame on it that I didn't like very much, so I just painted it dark brown to match some of the colors in my kitchen. Then I attached it to the door with stick-on Velcro strips. This allows me the flexibility to take it on and off when I need to.

And since my kids often stand with the pantry door open staring- last year I decided to put all of our picture Christmas cards in there for us to look at all year long.  That way they are not out cluttering up my refrigerator or put away in a drawer somewhere, but they are in a place that allows us as a family to enjoy them!  The kids often stand and look at them while they are trying to decide what they would like to eat as a snack.  I used double sided tape to stick them to the door. When Christmas is over next year, I will just change them all out for the new ones!  

Walker Stops Sucking His Thumb

Several months back, Walker had a visit to the dentist.  As soon as they looked into his mouth, they said "Does he suck his thumb?"  Well, of course, the answer was yes.  They said that there was no permanent damage YET, but that he really needed to stop before he started losing baby teeth and gaining permanent ones.  The doctor gave several suggestions.  All of which were very expensive!  I told him that the only time that Walker sucked his thumb was when he had his "teddy" in his hand.  And that we only let him have that in his bed when he was going to sleep.  Guess what the doctor suggested?  That it was time to get rid of the teddy.  Walker of course heard this conversation, but didn't say very much.  And he didn't mention it until I started talking to him about it later that afternoon.  Then the tears came. And the begging followed.  He was saying "Please mommy, don't take away teddy.  I just don't think I can sleep without him!"  And he was very, very serious.  It broke my heart!  So, when Chris got home, we talked about it and talked to Walker.  We decided to ask him if he had any solutions.  In the sweetest little voice, he said "Well, could I just wear gloves?"  We thought that was a great idea!  At least one worth trying!  So, he got some of his little winter gloves and put them on that night when he went to sleep.  I checked on him several times and each time, there was no thumb in his mouth!  And he hasn't sucked his thumb since!  It worked!  Who would have ever thought that something so inexpensive and so simple would break his thumb sucking habit?  I told several people that I think I need to market some gloves as "break the thumb sucking habit" gloves!  I am sure someone would buy them!  We were so proud of our little guy for being so creative and so thankful that we didn't have to make him give up his teddy.  And when we shared our progress with the dentist office, they were thrilled!

Here is our little guy with his favorite pair of Angry Bird gloves.

As he has stopped the habit, he has moved to gloves without the tips in them that he got for Christmas. Lol.  And even though I don't think he still needs to wear them, every night he puts his gloves on before he goes to bed.  We may have to break that habit someday!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Happiness is organization- Even if it is just jewelry!

Getting my jewelry organized was something that I had wanted to do for years!  And last year, I finally did it!! Now all of my jewelry is in one spot and is well organized! And it is right in my closet along with my clothes.  So when I pick out my outfit for the day, I can pick out my jewelry too! I was so happy when I first got it up that I kept going in my closet to look at it. It is always the small things in life that make me happy. No more tangled necklaces, no more time wasted looking for the match to an earring, no more wondering where that bracelet ended up- it is all where I can see it and wad free!  And to me- being organized is happiness.

All I did to make it was buy pegboard from Lowe's.  When I bought this a year or so ago, they sold pegboard with holes in two sizes.  One with smaller holes and one with bigger holes (no matter how many times I have asked how they measured these boards, no one could tell me the what the two hole size differences were distinguished other than small and large).  Originally, I bought the ones with smaller holes and found screws from Lowe's that screwed perfectly into them.  I spray painted the pegboard white and then hung it up on my wall.  That simple!  And I can move the screws around wherever I want to fit my different necklaces, bracelets, rings and the kind of earrings that clasp closed.  For earrings with hooks, I just slip them into the holes like the picture below shows.  
 After I made mine, I decided that they would probably be much prettier if they were framed.  So, this year for Christmas, I decided to make my mom and both of my sisters jewelry pegboards as their Christmas gifts.  The problem was that Lowe's, and every other store that I have checked, does not sell the smaller hole pegboards anymore.  They have all been discontinued.  And I could not find an affordable screw that fit into the giant holes in the pegboards that are currently being sold. But while I was at Hobby Lobby one day, I came upon a fabulous find- wooden pegs that fit into these holes perfectly!  And they were very affordable!  And even better, I realized that lots of smaller hardware stores will sell smaller, left-over pieces of pegboard at great prices.  I bought a few small pieces for just a couple of dollars at one in my parent's home town!  My dad and I used a jig saw to cut the pegboard to fit an oak wood frame that he had made many years ago.  My mom did not want to get rid of it because it was pretty and he had made it.  But she also didn't have anything to put in it for her wall.  So, I decided to use the frame to make one for her.  The wooden pegs that I bought were natural wood color and so was the pegboard.  We spray painted them both white, but you can often get either white or natural wood colored peg board. To paint the pegs, I took an old cardboard box and poked holes in it with a screw driver.  Then I put the pegs in the holes and spray painted them.  We ended up having to glue the pegs into the pegboard with wood glue in order for them to be able to hold the jewelry up.  So, with the pegs, we lost the ability to move the jewelry around like you can with the screws. I might eventually come up with a solution for that, but for now- they are just glued.  Here is how my mom's turned out.  She loved it!

And I also made one for each of my sisters.  Here is the picture of one of them.  I did it in silver and white to match her closet.  And when I did hers, I still had some of the smaller pegboard and so I used the screws with it. The screws did not look very pretty being silver, so I used the same technique with the cardboard box to spray paint her screws white.  My other sister's was white with a chocolate brown frame.  On both of these, I used old frames that my mom had given me.  I just sanded them a little bit and then put a few coats of paint on.  And now all of us have very organized jewelry!

And I think the very best part of all is that working on these while we were visiting my parents gave me some very special time with my dad.  It took me back to my childhood. When I was growing up, we always had some kind of project going on.  My poor mother was wonderful to let us use the kitchen table as a work space! My dad was a great wood craftsman and he could build just about anything.  Along with that comes a lot of experience with cutting, painting and staining.  So, I was so thankful that I got to have some time with him to do some of those things.  And he even shared some great tips with me!  One thing I learned was that when it comes to spray paint- frugal is not better.  He laughed at my cheap spray paint.  And he showed me the difference between how well my cheap paint covered the picture frames compared to how the more expensive paint he had covered them.  His took two coats.  Mine would have taken about 5!  It just shows that we are never too old to learn from our parents!  And that cheap paint is not always the best deal. 

I love to organize and to create things that are pretty.  And even more, I love to do these things with other people who love it.  This time with my dad was very special, especially since he is the one who ingrained in me the love for creating things in the first place.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Laundry Organization

I have to admit that I have really been struggling to get my laundry done on time.  I am able to wash it and dry it, but getting it folded and put away seems to allude me.  I have felt like we have been digging through baskets of clean clothes trying to find that pair of white leggings or that particular pair of socks a few too many times.  I have been wanting to buy stack-able laundry baskets for about a year now, but would never break down and spend the money.  Well, I finally broke down!  And I am so excited!  (I know, most people do not get excited about such things.)  I have been price comparing for a while trying to find what I wanted at the cheapest price.  But, I found that most of the stack-able laundry baskets are about the same price everywhere.  They range from $5-$7 and most of the time the price is directly related to their sturdiness and/or their size.  I finally decided on ones that I found at Wal-Mart. They are both sturdy and spacious!

They cost $6.97 each (not cheap).  The great thing about them is that they each have handles that allow them to either stack (when the handles are turned completely inward) or be carried individually (when the handles are turned up).  One side of each bin is dipped down so that things can be placed inside of them or removed from them while they are in the stacked position.  Wal-Mart also carries other bins that are a little bit smaller, but still the same style that come in the colors navy, purple and pink that are $5.97. (That might allow you to assign each family member a color)

I am going to leave my bins stacked beside of my dryer. Every time I take a load of clothes out, I am going to go ahead and fold the clothes and place them in the proper basket.  The top one is for my bedroom- mine and my husband's clothes.  The middle one is for our oldest daughter's bedroom since she has her own room.  And the bottom one is for the two youngest kids, whom also share a bedroom.  So that way I can keep them stacked until time to put clothes away. And then I have a basket for each room that can be carried with it's own handles.  If I see that I have more clothes than will fit in the baskets, then I may buy one or two more and divide the baskets up into individual people.  But right now, I think this is going to help to keep me so much more organized!  Now when I don't have time to put clothes away, we can at least quickly locate whatever item we are looking for!  And since I plan to fold the clothes straight from the dryer- hopefully they will not be loaded with wrinkles from being waded up in piles like they have been recently.  Although these are a little pricey, I think that the time it is going to save me in putting clothes away and not having to iron is going to far outweigh the price!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Frugal Homemade Hand Print Decorations

I saw an idea on Pinterest that inspired this artwork that hangs in our kitchen.  After living in Paraguay for so long, I became one of those people who hates to throw anything away that could potentially have a purpose. Some of the ladies at church found that out about me and have "donated" random things to me that I might be able to give a new purpose.  One of those things was a bag full of greeting card boxes.  One of the ladies said that she had always kept everything and her husband was finally putting his foot down and not allowing her to keep them in the house anymore.  So, she was thrilled to know that I also liked to keep things that I might use in the future.  And I was very excited that she gave me these really great, sturdy greeting cards boxes.  It didn't take me long to have the perfect idea for them.  I took them apart and used all of the box top lids as mini canvases.  I painted them in colors that coordinated with my kitchen and dining room.  My kitchen has orange walls and my dining room has brown and yellow walls.  So, I took those three colors and used 6 box top lids and painted two of them in each of the three colors.  Then I had each person in our family dip their hand in a coordinating paint color and then put their hand print on the lids.  I love how it turned out!  Now we have personalized artwork in our kitchen and it even pulls my dining room colors in and helps coordinate the two rooms!

We hung them in order from oldest to youngest and even added our dog, Toby's paw print to the end.  That was an interesting project!  He was really not very happy about having his little paw painted.  But it was very much worth it, because I love my free homemade artwork!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sewing Day!

I just started learning to sew in September or October.  So, I haven't been at it long.  But, I am obsessed!  I have always wanted to learn to sew, but I didn't have much free time with the kids being so small. And I thought that it would be really hard to learn.  However, it has been so easy to pick up!  It is amazing what you can do with just simple sewing.  I am still at a very basic level, but I am able to make all kinds of things.  Today I hemmed 7 pair of pants that had been in a pile in my closet for almost a year.  Some were pants that had holes in them that I wanted to turn into capris.  And some were ones that I had either bought at consignment sales or inherited.  I kept meaning to find someone to hem them for me, but just never got around to it.  So, now that I can sew- I finally got around to it myself!  Today I also made heart appliques for the girls shirts (which I will blog about when I get them finished).  And I made a curtain for my bathroom!

It is just a simple straight stitch curtain, but it was exactly what I wanted to add a little color and decoration to our den bathroom.  (Not sure how much more color it really needed since it is already bright red :) )

I love being able to sew!  And the great thing is that I am able to do things myself that save me a ton of money!  Getting those pants hemmed by someone else would have cost me at least $35.00.  And I think I have about $3.00 invested in this little curtain.  Frugal and fun- just my style!