8 Sewing Tools You Need to Have

Every seamstress needs the right tools to get the job done. Whether you’re cutting fabric, putting together patterns, or adding snaps, you’ll need at least a few tools to help you complete your projects. I’ve compiled a list of 8 sewing tools you need to have.8 Sewing Tools You Need to Have

This post contains affiliate links

1. Scissors: you can’t sew without scissors. From cutting fabric to snipping threads, the right scissors are important! I reach for my Gingher shears most often. So often, in fact, that I have two pairs on my cutting table. You also need a pair of sharp scissors for snipping threads close to the fabric. Embroidery scissors work great for this. There are lots of other scissors I use, but these are definitely the must-haves. Sidenote: don’t let anyone cut paper with your sewing scissors! They will dull very quickly.


2. Rotary cutters: If you want to cut your fabric out quickly or you’re cutting many pieces at once, a rotary cutter will help immensely! I have three different sizes of rotary cutters: 18mm, 28mm, and 45mm. I use my large rotary cutter most often, but the smaller ones are great for curves and notches, especially in kids’ clothing. I have the blue one because it’s blue… and pretty. Priorities. ;) If you’re using a rotary cutter, you’ll also need a cutting mat to cut on, so you don’t slice up your table. A clear ruler is also super helpful for making straight cuts.

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3. Magnetic pin holder: now some might argue with me about this one, but for me a magnetic pin holder is a must. It’s super easy to grab pins and also drop them while you’re sewing. Mine is made by a local artisan, but there are many different kinds available. I use a pincushion as well, but I keep this right by my sewing machine so that as I pull pins out, I can toss them on here and know they won’t end up on the floor for little feet to find.

magnetic pin holder

4. Seam rippers: As you sew, so shall you rip. Every seamstress makes mistakes or needs to re-fit a garment and a seam ripper is essential to taking out your seams without destroying your fabric. My seam ripper and I are good… friends ;) … so I have three with a comfy handle. I somehow always seem to misplace mine when I need it, so having multiples keeps me sane.

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5. Wonder Clips: some fabrics shouldn’t be pinned (like leather) and many layers of fabric can be bulky. Wonder Clips are wonderful (see what I did there?? ;) for holding fabric together when pinning isn’t a good option.

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6. Glue sticks: They’re more than just school supplies! Glue sticks are perfect for assembling patterns and even keeping hems or seams in place in a pinch. If you’re going to use it often for fabric and sewing over it, however, I’d get a glue that’s specifically designed for sewing. But regular glue stick is perfect for pattern piecing!

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7. Kam Snaps and Pliers: Buttonholes can be scary and time-consuming to a beginning seamstress, so snaps are a fantastic alternative! Kam Snaps are super easy to install and can be used for SO many things. Kids’ clothing, diapers, accessories, etc. Even experienced seamstresses know how useful a tool snaps can be!

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8. Sewing machines: The last tool (or tools) that a seamstress needs, obviously, is a sewing machine. You can, of course, sew by hand. But if you want to sew garments and bags, you’ll need a good machine. My main sewing machine is a Juki HZL-F400. I’ve had it for less than a year, but I couldn’t be happier with it. The knee pedal alone is a game-changer! This baby has sewn through multiple layers of thick fabric, handles denim no problem, and has even sewn through thick jute rope! Along with my main machine, I have a serger and a coverstitch machine. If you want to sew clothing, these are a great investment – especially if you want to sew knits! Not sure what they do? Look at the inside of a T-shirt you bought at the store: those seams and the hem are done with a serger and a coverstitch. If you don’t have either, start with a serger.


There are so many tools you can use as a seamstress – and trust me, I have many more ;) – but these are definitely tools that you need to have in your sewing room! What are your favorite sewing tools??

8 Sewing Tools You Need

Keeping the Kids Busy This Summer

Summer has officially begun, and you may be thinking of ways to keep your kiddos busy. We use screens really sparingly around here, but sometimes I just want something quick to occupy my boys. And if I don’t have something on hand, it’s super easy to fall back on iPads and Netflix. That’s why I’m so glad to have this Boredom Buster Kit from Andrea’s Notebook.

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This post contains affiliate links.

There are SO many different activities in this kit! Some of the activities require some additional craft supplies, but many of them are just print and go. And there’s such a wide variety of choices!boredom-busters-sales-image

After scrolling through the activities, I chose the Fill-in-the-Blank stories from the Creative Kit. I knew that my oldest would love this one, because it’s done MadLibs style.

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There are several stories to choose from, and the instructions are clear enough that your kids can do them on their own. One page is just for the words, so they fill it out without looking at the story. Adjectives, people, emotions, etc.

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Then they transfer the words over to the corresponding spot in the story. Sidenote: I love how bold and colorful these pages are! Fun and bright, just like summer!

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The giggles have begun!


Have your kiddos read the story aloud to you, and watch as they laugh at their silly story!! Seriously, we had SO much fun with these!

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And share it with siblings, of course. These two would not.stop.laughing! I remember how much I loved these things as a kid, and they haven’t lost their appeal even now! Each story also has an additional activity that goes along with it – this one has your kiddo draw the silly robot they wrote about in the story.

Check out all the different activities that come in the Boredom Buster Kit:


Use code BUSTERS10 for 10% off through July 31st

Buy Now!

You can buy the entire Boredom Buster Kit

or you can purchase only the Adventure Kit

Or you can purchase just the Creative Kit.

Personally, I’m glad to have both kits, because the Adventure Kit is more outdoor activities and the Creative is more indoor – so some are great for getting outside in the summer sun, others are perfect for some downtime inside when it’s hot or rainy. Plus, there’s a bonus Reading Kit you can add on. This is full of printable book review pages, reading logs, library lists, bookmarks to color, and more. My boys love to read, so we are definitely going to use these!

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Once he had completed the first fill-in-the-blank story, my son asked for another and wouldn’t stop until we had gone through them all! It will be super fun to print these out again to do another version of these silly stories. After we do some of the other activities in the kit, of course. I’ve already printed out the story cubes from the Creative Kit, and they’re ready to go when the boredom strikes!

Use code BUSTERS10 for 10% off through July 31st
Buy Now!
Buy Now!

Racerback Maxi Dress FREE pattern and tutorial

Today I’m so excited to be a part of 30 Days of Sundresses series at Melly Sews! I participated last year, and this year I’m bringing you a free pattern and tutorial for a racerback maxi dress that is super comfy and early maternity friendly! But if you aren’t pregnant, don’t worry – baby bellies are not required. ;)Free Racerback Maxi Dress Pattern

Knit dresses are easy to wear at this stage in pregnancy, because a maternity dress isn’t always necessary. I certainly won’t be able to wear this into my third trimester, but I’ll be able to wear it next summer when I’m not pregnant anymore!

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The racerback is so fun for summer!

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Notes on Size: This dress pattern comes in one size, and it is comparable to a ready-to-wear medium. The bust is between a 36-37in. But keep in mind that it’s a knit dress, so you may be able to fudge it a little with the right kind of fabric. I am 5’3 (and a half ;) and I made the dress an inch longer than is good for me, with a 1in. hem. So keep this in mind in case you are taller and want to lengthen your dress.

You will need to use knit fabric that has at least 30% stretch. This is super important. (If you’re a little smaller than a medium, though, you could probably get away with a knit with less stretch) I made one with about 10% stretch and it was a stretch (ha! pun intended!) to fit into it. This dress -without a baby belly- is intended to have a looser fit and not be skin tight, which is why you want more stretch.

Now let’s sew!

1.Download your FREE If Only Designs Racerback Maxi Dress pattern. Cut out your fabric. The pattern includes a 1/4in. seam allowance unless otherwise noted. *Make sure you download or export this pattern to your desktop so that you can print it from Adobe Reader*

2. Place your front and back pieces right sides together. Sew both the shoulders together.DSC_6927 copy

3. Sew down one side of the dress from armpit to bottom with a zig-zag stitch or using a serger. Then sew down the other side, stopping at around 26in. from the armpit. (This is where you are going to create the side slit – I put mine on the left side of my dress, but you can choose whichever you prefer – or both sides!) I used a serger, so I serged off the edge of my dress.

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4. Sew a straight stitch about three to four inches with a 3/8in. seam allowance.

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5. Serge or zig-zag the edges of the fabric from where you left off with your serging/zig-zag until slightly past your straight stitch. (If you choose not to do this, it will be fine, because knit does not fray. But it will look much nicer, especially with a serger) Press this open, all the way down to the hem.

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6. There are two ways you can finish this side slit. You can use a coverstitch (affiliate link – this is what I use and SO highly recommend!! :) Or you can use a double needle. If you don’t use a coverstitch, you may wish to serge the raw edge of the fabric all the way to the bottom.
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7. Fold the bottom up to your desired length and hem with a coverstitch or double needle. I use a 1in hem.

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8. Make your arm and neck bindings. Measure your neckline and armscyes – your bindings should be 85% of these lengths. The stretch of the fabric should go lengthwise. The width of these bindings can be between 1 and 1 1/4in. (I’ll explain which I prefer and why in step 11). Sew the short ends right sides together.

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9. With right sides together, pin the binding to the armscye/neckline. You will slightly stretch the binding.

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10. Serge or zig-zag the fabrics together.

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11. If you are not using a coverstitch, I recommend cutting your binding 1 1/4in. wide. You will bring the binding to the wrong side of the dress, folding the raw edge under. Use a double needle to stitch it in place.

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If you are using a coverstitch, I prefer to use a 1in. wide binding, because it’s not necessary to fold the raw edge under.

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Now you have a lovely racerback maxi to wear all summer long!

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I really think that I could wear knit maxis everyday, because it kind of feels like wearing your jammies all day in this dress! Quick note: I lowered the armscye slightly after taking these pictures.

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This dress is super quick to sew, but watch out – it’s addicting! I already made another and have a third partially sewn. I also included a cut line for making your racerback a shirt instead of a dress. I’ll share a tank top version hopefully later this week!

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Don’t forget to download your free If Only Designs Racerback Maxi Dress pattern, whether or not you’re sporting a baby belly. ;)

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Happy sewing! Make sure you check out the other lovely sundresses as part of the 30 Days of Sundresses series!


Something New is Coming….

Or rather, someone. ;)

Blog Baby Announcement

This October we will be welcoming baby number five into our home! We are so excited to bring this new little miracle into the world. We’ll be finding out the baby’s gender later this month, but I’ll refer you to this post if you’re wondering my thoughts on possibly having a fifth boy. ;)

So get ready for more teeny tiny baby sewing!

Essential Oil Travel Case Tutorial

I’m an essential oil girl. I love having a natural alternative for taking charge of my family’s health. But when I leave the house, I throw them in my purse, and they just end up rolling around at the bottom. I needed a way to safely carry them – and find them – when I’m on the go. So I sewed up this Essential Oil Travel Case, and they’re super easy to make!Essential Oil Travel Case Tutorial

This post contains some affiliate links. Purchases made won’t cost you any more, but make me a small commission to run this site and help my family. Thanks for your support!


  • Fat quarter of woven fabric
  • Scrap of quilt batting
  • KAM snaps
  • Sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc.

**This makes a travel case that perfectly fits 5ml bottles. If you want to make one for 15 ml bottles, you will need to alter the size by lengthening the short side of the fabric.

1.Cut two pieces of woven fabric 10in x 5 in. Also cut one piece of quilt batting the same size.

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2. Place the fabric right sides together, with the quilt batting against one wrong side. Zig-zag around all sides, leaving a small opening on one side. Clip the corners.

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3. Turn the fabric right side out. Press and topstitch around all four sides, closing the opening you left for turning.

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4. Fold the bottom of the fabric up about 3/4 of the way. This will create your pockets. Using your essential oil bottles as your guide, pin between the bottles and pin/clip the fabric together at each end. *You want to leave extra fabric at each end, as shown in the picture, for your snaps.

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5. Stitch down where you pinned, to make your pockets. Also stitch down the fabric ends.

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*You will have an extra “pocket” at each end that is too small for an oil bottle. This is important!

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6. Attach your snaps, one at each end, in that extra space. I use a KAM snap pliers to attach my snaps.

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Now slide your oils in, and you’re ready to go!

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Roll it up, snap it, and toss it in your purse.

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This case is a really fast sew (I think I made it in 30 minutes, including the time to take pictures), and so practical! The quilt batting gives your oils a little cushion, and the pockets keep them snugly in place.

Essential Oil Travel Case

No more digging around in the bottom of your purse (amongst the raisin boxes, old receipts, and baby wipes) to find the one you need!

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This really is the perfect travel accessory!

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At least there will be one aspect of my purse that’s organized. ;)

DIY Essential Oil Travel Case

purse: Better Than Basic Bag by Sew Fearless
wallet: Cozy Cameras
sunglasses: Target

*I use Young Living essential oils. If you’d like more information or are interested in purchasing, click here or email me at ifonlytheywouldnap@gmail.com*

Coconut Strawberry Chocolate Popsicles

We had our first taste of summer this week, so it’s got me thinking about cold treats. Ice cream, popsicles… mmmm, I’m hungry just thinking about it! Here’s my problem: as a mom of four little boys, I don’t like to give them a lot of sugary treats. So I came up with a super yummy popsicle that will satisfy your sweet tooth, but also leave you with a clean conscience.

Coconut Strawberry Chocolate Popsicles


  • handful of chocolate chips
  • 6-7 strawberries
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk vanilla yogurt
  • approx. 1TBSP chia seeds (optional)*This recipe makes 8 popsicles*

1. Chop up the chocolate chips and strawberries into small pieces.

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2. Mix the 1 1/4 c. of coconut milk and 1 1/4 c. of yogurt. Add in the chocolate chips and the strawberries.

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3. If desired, add in chia seeds. In case you haven’t used chia seeds before, they are super good for you! They won’t change the flavor at all, but they’ll make the pops even healthier. You can even add more than the recommended amount!

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4. Mix everything together and pour into your popsicle molds. If you don’t have popsicle molds, use paper cups and popsicle sticks.coconut popsicles_4

5. Wait at least four (torturous!) hours for your pops to freeze. Then slide them out of the molds and eat! If you’re having trouble getting them out of the molds, dip them in warm water to loosen.coconut popsicles_7

These popsicles are not super sweet, but they are incredibly delicious. If you like yours a little sweeter, here are some options: add more chocolate chips or fruit, drizzle chocolate over your popsicle, or use sweetened coconut milk. Change up the flavor of your pops by substituting a different berry, such as raspberries or strawberries. Use whichever is in season!coconut popsicles_8

The kiddos won’t realize they’re eating a healthy treat, and you can achieve super mom/aunt/grandma status by saying yes to these yummy pops!

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Or don’t give them to the kids at all. Keep them all for yourself without an ounce of guilt. I promise, I won’t tell. ;)Coconut Strawberry Chocolate Popsicles - easy to make, super yummy, and good for you!

Finding the Lovely in the Chaos

Motherhood is a chaotic business. Each day is filled with noise, lots of messes, and countless challenges. The days can be monotonous and exhausting. When faced with all the chaos, sometimes it can feel anything but lovely.

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Some days it’s easier just to focus on the challenges. To simply clean up the messes, change the diapers, and do the same things over again the next day.

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But every day has something lovely. Every moment. Even in the midst of a tantrum-throwing toddler, there is something lovely. The tear-stained hug when the crying stops, the laughter during the tickling that diffused the moment, the triumphant moment of standing your ground and not giving in to the kicking and screaming.

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“There is a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance. It feels like beauty might be knots in the rope you are climbing, gas stations along the cross-country journey, the water stations strategically set up on a racecourse. Beauty is what makes it possible to keep going. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things everyone sees, but it is what YOU see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments God gives you to collect up and hold and draw strength from.”
-Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
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Motherhood is a long-distance marathon. A test in endurance. An uphill climb. When you’re in the middle of the race, you feel tired. Your feet hurt. You can’t breathe. But as you keep going, you see the beauty in the persevering. You find your stride, you get your second wind, you drink some water and feel refreshed.

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Annie F. Downs recently released her latest book, Looking for Lovely. It is, in every sense of the word, lovely. I read it in two sittings, absolutely unable to put it down. This book reads a little like a memoir, as Annie shares her struggles and the loveliness she fought to find in the midst of them. Because sometimes you need to actively pursue the lovely. You have to ask the Father to show you all the good gifts He has put in your life, to open your eyes to what’s around you that you maybe haven’t noticed yet.DSC_6251-2 copy

That doesn’t mean that the chaos disappears or that suddenly life and motherhood become a walk in the park. Or that the messes are magically cleaned and the kids will never fight with each other. But looking for lovely can give you – give me – the change in perspective you need to embrace the chaos.

I don’t know about you, but I can always use more lovely in my life. Looking for Lovely is all about collecting the moments in your life that matter. In these days when I’m knee-deep in motherhood, I would much rather set my mind on what matters – the lovely, not the chaos. The snuggling on the couch, the basketball in the driveway, the “I love you” scrawled across the heart-shaped paper.

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Will you look for the lovely with me? Check out Annie F. Downs and her new book Looking for Lovely. I promise, you won’t regret it.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Duds for Dudes Tour

Today I’m joining up with the Duds for Dudes Tour with Mabel Madison fabric shop! If you’ve never purchased from Mabel Madison, you are truly missing out!Duds for Dudes If Only They Would Nap

Disclaimer: I was given a discount for my purchases for being part of this blog tour, but all opinions are my own.

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Sometimes finding boy-friendly fabrics can be tricky. But what I love about Mabel Madison is they have such a wide selection!DSC_6312 copyLet’s talk first about this knit. Sewing knits is my jam, and ohmygoodness I’m in love with this Adorable Animals Euroknit! It is luscious. The perfect thickness, and this print! I can’t even handle who much I love it.

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This print is available in a pink colorway too, and if I had a girl, I would totally buy them both. The tee is self-drafted, and is my favorite style of tee to make for my littles.

DSC_6295 copyNow onto the pants! I adore these pants. I used the same self-drafted pattern for the pants I made for Project Run and Play  (you can also see I made the same style shirt… see? I told you how much I love it!). I adore flared pants on little boys.

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The denim twill in fire red from Mabel Madison is absolutely amazing. I often find twill to be stiff, even after it’s been washed, but that is NOT the case with this twill. It’s soft – but not too soft – and sturdy.

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It’s perfect for pants! My little guy loves to run and jump and climb and play in the woods around our house, and these do not hold him back. They’ll definitely take awhile before the knees bust out (which is an inevitability in our house).

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Psst: the pockets have some Spiderman fabric from my stash in the pockets… that was a big hit. ;)DSC_6372 copy

The vintage piping is the perfect touch. I really do love piping on pants. :)

DSC_6380 copyBoth the shirt and pants will eventually be patterns – I have about five in my queue right now. Moving threw me off schedule a bit, but I have some coming soon. Make sure to join my Facebook group, because I’ll be looking for testers for my next patterns within the next few weeks!
DSC_6321 copyI’m so glad to have been a part of the Duds for Dudes tour! I love supporting indie fabric shops, and Mabel Madison carries such high quality fabrics and have such fabulous customer service that I can put my firm stamp of approval on their brand.


Make sure you check out all the other stops on the Mabel Madison week-long blog tour focused on sewing for BOYS!

Sew Happily Ever After

handcrafted by RED

If Only They Would Nap… (you’re here!)

Mabel Madison


A Portrait of my Everyday Hero {and win a trip for two to NYC!}

Everybody has someone in their life who has impacted them in an incredible way. That could be a teacher, a friend, an employer, or a parent. The amazing Annie Leibovitz is traveling the world, sharing her New Portraits of women, exploring the changes in the roles of women today while bringing to life one of the greatest art exhibitions of the 21st century. She and USB have asked bloggers to share their own portraits of the women in their lives who are their everyday heroes. And there’s no one else I could possibly choose as my hero but my mom.

Jessica Collier submission

My mom is one of those people who will drop everything to help you. She lives over four hours away from me, but she has driven countless hours back and forth to help me with babies, unpacking, when my husband is out of town, and everything in between.

All moms are heroes, but my mom is simply amazing. She has raised six (super awesome ;) kids, spends countless hours caring for her grandchildren, co-runs a weekly meal for local homeless, is always putting her family first, and is easily one of my favorite people to spend time with. When someone will drop what they’re doing and drive to be present at the birth of your kids, then do all your dishes and watch all your other kids while you sleep, that’s a hero.

When I think of all the many hours my mom has spent caring for me, my kids, and the rest of our family, I get overwhelmed. She has spent her whole life giving. Loving. Sharing of her time and talents. I’m so blessed to know that she is always there for me when I need help at home or a shoulder to cry on. She taught me how to sew and gave me a love for creative life. She values family and taught all of us that family is important and comes first. I will never take for granted all that she has done for me and how she has shaped me into the woman I am today.

Who is your hero?

Submit your own story by posting a picture of your hero on Instagram with the hashtag #ShareYourHero. By sharing your hero, you are entering yourself to win a trip for two to New York City to the opening of the Annie Leibovitz WOMEN: New Portraits exhibition in November.

Find details about how to enter to win here.

Tie T-Shirt Tutorial and FREE appliqué pattern!

If you ask me, there are few things cuter than brothers in matching shirts. For Valentine’s Day this year, I made my boys these super adorable tie t-shirts, but how great would these be for Easter as well?! You can whip one of these up with this free tie appliqué pattern!

Tie Tshirt TutorialThese t-shirt ties are easy to make and you can make them for any holiday – or even everyday wear!

tie shirt tutorial for boysSupplies:

  • t-shirt
  • woven (non-stretchy) fabric
  • sewing machine/thread
  • scissors
  • pins
  • optional: Wonder Under (affiliate link)

1. Download and print out the Tie Tshirt Pattern. Use it to trace and cut your tie(s).tie tutorial step 1

2. Pin the fabric onto the front of the t-shirt. The top of the tie pattern has a curve that follows the neckline, so you can pin it right underneath the neck. Optional: fuse your tie fabric to the front of the T-shirt using Wonder Under – this will help your tie to stay in place without shifting.tie tutorial step 2

3. Using a wide but short zig-zag stitch, sew along the outside of the tie. Keep the tie fabric flat. I like to go over my stitching a second time to make sure the fabric is secure in place.tie tutorial applique step 3

Tip: when stitching the tie, you’ll have to finagle your shirt a bit. I recommend beginning on one side, sewing down to the bottom. Then, start back at the top and sew to the bottom along the opposite side.tie tutorial step 3

I used the same pattern for both my two and four year olds, without changing the size, but you could easily scale the pattern up or down to make it suited for an older or younger child.boys valentine shirt

Then pop those shirts on your little cutie patooties! And share your photos with me on Instagram, so I can see your sweet boys in their tie tees.free pattern for boys tie tshirt

Brothers in matching shirts – seriously, is there nothing quite so adorable?!boy valentine tie shirt


Now go make your little men some adorable tie T-shirts!Tshirt Tie FREE pattern and tutorial

Happy sewing!