sewing

Leather Bottom Tote Bag Tutorial

I recently realized I was in need of another tote. I mean, can a girl ever really have too many tote bags?? I needed something that would fit my computer easily, plus a few other essentials for heading out to a coffee shop or on a road trip. But I wanted something sturdy enough (and cute enough!) that I could even carry it with me on everyday outings. I found a scrap of leather large enough that I could make a leather bottom tote bag, and I love how it turned out!

I designed this tote with a few specific features in mind, but you can easily customize it to your needs. Here’s what I wanted: sturdy fabric, wide straps, lined inside with one small and one large inner pocket, leather tabs on the straps, and long enough that it would fit my computer comfortably.
The bag came together quickly and easily (I cut the fabric out one afternoon and sporadically sewed it over the next two afternoons, because #momlife). I can already see this becoming one of my favorite tote bags!

Here’s what you need:

  • denim or other sturdy fabric (I recommend that your denim not be very heavy)
  • lining fabric (I used quilting cotton)
  • leather scraps (you could also use fake leather or suede)
  • sewing machine (serger optional), scissors, etc.
  • I highly recommend a leather needle

Cut your fabric pieces:

pockets: 17in x 18in (1), 13in x 5.5in (1)
inner lining: 19in x 14in (2)
outer fabric: 19in x 14in (2)
leather for bottom: 6in x 14in (2)
leather for tabs: 2in x 3.5in (4)
straps: 26in x 7.5in

1. Sew the pockets: you can choose the size that fits your needs (I made my smaller pocket so that it would easily fit my phone and maybe a few other small items). Fold them in half, right sides together. Sew the two sides and the bottom, leaving an opening at the bottom to turn them.

2. Turn the pockets right side out. Press the seams and press the opening closed. Pin the pockets in your desired location on the lining – the folded edge should be on the top. Topstitch the three edges, attaching the pocket to the lining. (Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your sewing!) Repeat with the second pocket on the second lining piece.

3. Cut the straps – If you want narrower straps, cut them smaller than 7.5in wide. Fold the straps in half, right sides together (you should have a long narrow strip). Sew the raw edges of only the long side together.

4. Turn the strap right side out. The seam should be in the center of the back of the strap – press this seam open so that it lays flat. Press the whole strap down and topstitch the long ends together. This is an optional step, but will help keep your straps from twisting, especially if they are wider straps like mine.

5. Take the two lining pieces and sew them right sides together. Sew three sides together, leaving the top open.

6. Pin and clip the straps and leather tabs in place on the outer lining (note that ONE strap goes on ONE side of the bag – be sure your strap doesn’t get twisted as you lay it in place). Pin the strap in place. DO NOT pin the leather (this will leave permanent holes in your leather). Clip them to the strap. I like these clips (affiliate link), but if you don’t have them, you could use binder clips. My strap ended about halfway down the leather tab.

I recommend pressing the top edge of the denim down 1/2in at this point. You will open it back up later, but this helps you with you strap placement. **You should test out the length of your strap at this point to see if it’s in the most comfortable spot.**

7. Carefully topstitch the leather tabs on top of the strap. I recommend using a leather needle and lengthening your stitch a little. Go slowly so that your leather tabs don’t shift out of place. Repeat for all four tabs.

**If you prefer not to have leather tabs, you could attach your straps like I did in this tote tutorial.

8. Clip the larger leather pieces to the bottom of the tote (the bottom of my tote fabric lined up with the bottom of the leather).  Carefully topstitch the leather to the denim. Repeat for the second piece.

9. Place both denim pieces right sides together (make sure you unfold the top before you sew!) – make sure the straps are carefully tucked inside, out of the way of where you will be sewing. Sew the two sides and the bottom together – leave the top open. I used my serger, but my serger does not like leather, so I went back over all that with a tight zig zag stitch.

10. Fold down and press the top of both the lining and the denim 1/2in.

11. Turn the denim layer right side out. Use a chopstick or something similar to poke the corners out as much as you can.

12. Keep the lining fabric inside out. Put the lining inside the denim. Pin together.

13. Topstitch all around the top of the bag. You can also sew the straps down as you topstitch. I didn’t do this at first, but I went back and added it, because I found that when I put my computer inside the bag, the top edge flopped down. I didn’t like how that looked, so this was a good fix.

Now you have a brand new, sturdy tote to take around with you!

I really love how this turned out, and it is the perfect size for exactly what I needed!

 

Isn’t this the perfect tote bag for taking to the coffee shop on a Saturday morning to read?? Hmm, I think I need to make that happen soon…

I really love the combo of leather/denim/graphic print lining! There are so many fabric combination possibilities, too! What fabrics would you use to make this tote??

Happy sewing, friends!

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Flowy Tank Top and Me Made May

Do you follow along with Me Made May at all? It’s a challenge to wear something handmade everyday for the month of May. I’ve done it before, but honestly, I’ve rarely committed to wearing solely handmade the rest of the year. My body has changed a lot over the years (hello, five kids will do that to a girl ;) and I’ve gotten rid of many handmade that just didn’t fit my body well anymore. This year, I shared in my Instagram Stories about how I decided to wear almost completely handmade this May, so that I can really see the holes in my wardrobe and finally commit to a handmade wardrobe. 

Of course, there are a few caveats: I only have one or two pairs of handmade pants that fit my body well now. That’s on the list of things to sew, but obviously they’re a little more time consuming, and this season of my life has been all about quick sews. I also don’t currently have any handmade pajamas.

Since I’m home with my boys all day, homeschooling and doing all the mom things, I wear a lot of knit shirts. I’ve already discovered that I need to sew a few more short sleeved T-shirts, since that’s what I tend to wear the most.

This tank top and cardigan have been in regular rotation for awhile. The cardigan is a free pattern here on the blog from awhile back, and I wear it several times a week.

The tank top is a modified version of this free dress pattern from last summer. I cut the back yoke on the fold instead of adding the keyhole to the back, and I actually love it even more than the keyhole version! Plus, it’s really fast.

I had a remnant from Joann’s that I absolutely loved and have been hoarding for awhile now, and it was the perfect size for this top.

The fabric is flowy and super comfy, though the color hasn’t held up incredibly through many washes, which is a bummer. I think I made this one at the end of last summer, but never blogged about it, so it’s been worn quite a lot already.

The thing I love the most about Me Made May is that it challenges me to look closely at my wardrobe. Even though I’ve been making myself clothes for years, all the body changes have made it difficult to fully commit to a mostly handmade wardrobe. But maybe this is the year?? You can follow me on Instagram to see all my handmades this month.

If you make your own clothes, how’s your handmade wardrobe coming along? Happy sewing, friends!

Five Tips for Sewing with Young Kids Underfoot

I’ve been in a season of slow, simple sewing. Have you been in a season like this? I’m a homeschool mama with five young kids, including a toddler whose favorite pastime is coloring on the walls and climbing onto everything he shouldn’t.. some days I barely have time to go to the bathroom, let alone sew an entire handmade wardrobe. Most of the projects I’m sewing lately are things I can complete in one sitting, generally a pattern I’ve sewn a dozen times, with slight variations here and there. I’ve sewn a bunch of garments recently that haven’t made it to the blog, for myself and the kids. None of them earth shattering in their execution, but all of them well-loved and well-worn.

I’m learning a lot these days about taking seasons as they come. I’ve had years and months where my sewing machine has been in constant use, and others where carving out time seems a bit trickier. Recently I was talking with some friends about how disappointed I was that I hadn’t been able to find the time to sew myself jeans, so I had to buy them instead. At first, it felt a little like a failure. I know how to sew jeans – I’ve done it several times, and before I got pregnant with my youngest, I had drafted and sewn a pair that I’ve been dying to tweak to the point of perfection. But my jean-sewing season will come back, I just need to give it time.

If you’re in a season like this, here are my best tips and encouragement for you:

1. Find a way to sew alongside your kiddos: For me right now, this means a shared space. I have my sewing tables set up in a corner of the room, the kiddos have an art table on the other side, and there are toys for my toddler and younger kids to play with as well. This could mean that you have a special bin of toys for your kids to play with only while you sew or that you give them a bucket or art supplies and let them create something alongside you. There’s something beautiful about creating together!

2. Use pockets of time: five minutes here and there to put a pattern together, cut it out, and prepare your fabric. When you need longer stretches of time, sew during nap time or after they’ve gone to bed. During some seasons, late night sewing isn’t an option, though (hello middle of the night feedings and teething toddler, I’m looking at you!), so make use of times when your kiddos are content to play.

3. Keep it simple when needed: What I’ve found is that small, simple sews can be deeply satisfying in a season where it’s hard to accomplish much. Pillow covers, simple tees, and pajamas are the way to go if you need to keep it simple, but still feel accomplished. When you start sleeping through the night or your toddler is more content to play alone and not demand every second of your attention, more complicated projects will return to your table.

4. Babywear, Pack ‘n Play, or highchair: find a way to safely contain your baby or toddler nearby. I’ve definitely worn my babies and toddlers in a sling or Ergo while sewing or put up a Pack ‘n Play next to my sewing machine. I had a “duh” moment recently when my friend Jodi shared an Instagram story with her toddler eating in a high chair while she sewed – brilliant!

5. Give yourself grace and remember it’s a season: this has been a constant mantra in my mind lately, and I’ve been so encouraged by friends reminding me of this. It won’t always be like this, and I don’t want to wish away these years when my kids are at home with me. Whether you’re a homeschool mama like me or you volunteer daily in your kids classroom or you work in or outside of the home, it can be hard to fit in time for hobbies and passions when you have littles! Embrace the season you’re in and prioritize the things you love, even for just a few minutes at a time.

Whatever season you’re in, whether you’re cranking out projects or looking longingly at your serger when you pass it by, remind yourself that each season has it’s time. Be present. Remind yourself that seasons change and kids get older. Let yourself be okay with whatever sewing time life has for you right now. And be intentional to carve out more time when you can.

Some nitty gritty sewing notes: this is my go-to sewing pattern (quick and easy!) – the Alex and Anna pajamas from Peekaboo Pattern Shop. I did make a matching pair for my six-year-old (mostly because he desperately needed pajamas, and I found a pattern in that size already cut and ready to go), but he refused to comply with my adorable matching jammie photo shoot that I had in mind, so I have proof of his pajamas over on Instagram too. These are jammies are the ultimate in comfort, since they’re sewn with jersey from Raspberry Creek Fabrics. All the RCF love and heart eyes over here, y’all.

Speaking of heart eyes….

Gah!! I can’t handle the cuteness of this age, even if he does color on all my walls.

Happy slow sewing, friends. :)

 

FREE Women’s Beanie Hat Pattern

Hey friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted! Life has gotten busy, with homeschooling, the craziness of having five kids (and a climbing toddler – oy!), and all the things of life. I meant to share this women’s beanie pattern months ago, but blogging and sewing took a back seat to life. So I’m back with this free knit hat pattern to help you forget my long absence. ;) This one is great for upcycling an old or thrifted sweater (like the one in the photo!) or using any knit or french terry fabric.

All you need is a scrap of knit or french terry fabric that has good stretch and a sewing machine/serger. A sweater headed for the donation bin is a great way to make this hat look hand knit, even when it isn’t.

Let’s get started!

1. Print out the Free Pattern. Cut on the fold. If you are using a sweater, line the pattern up to the bottom edge of the sweater. Instead of cutting on the fold, cut two (one from the front of the sweater, one from the back).

2. Unfold the fabric and re-fold as shown below.  Sew along the long, curved edge (the new fold should be on the left). Use a serger or a zig zag stitch.

3. Fold in half, so your seam is inside.

4. Your enclosed seam will be inside now (you can see it in this photo below on the left). Your hat will be laying flat so that each triangle lines up. Sew the longest outer edge together as seen below. You’ll have four layers to sew together (unless you are upcycling a sweater).  If you’re sewing with a zig zag stitch, make sure that you sew backwards a bit at the ends of your stitches, to secure them in place.

5. Now you will turn the hat and sew the next set of raw edges together.

6. Continue turning the hat and sewing the raw edges together as shown below.

7. Do this until all raw edges have been sewn together. It should look kind of like a star inside your hat (as seen below).

8. Sew across the top and trim to avoid having a point at the top of your hat. Tie or otherwise secure and serger threads and trim them.

Tah-dah! You have a cozy new hat! It goes great with this free cardigan pattern too. ;)

This is a great pattern for using up knit scraps! You could also match with your itty bitty and make a matching newborn baby hat!

Make sure you download your FREE pattern!

 Download your FREE Women’s Beanie Pattern

Happy sewing!

 

FREE Raglan Cardigan Pattern and Cozy Layers for Fall!

 

It’s finally starting to feel like fall in Wisconsin, which means it’s time to bust out my favorite kind of clothes: cozy layers! Seriously, I love wrapping up in cozy cardigans, flannel scarves, and knit hats. Plus can we talk about my love for slippers? It is deep. And of course, it’s just going to get colder, so I’ve been digging out the wool socks and blankets. If you’re going to stay warm this fall and winter, the best way to do it is with lots of layers. I’ve got a free pattern for a cute and cozy raglan cardigan, plus some tips on staying warm as the weather gets colder.
I’ve professed my love of cardigans over and over here on my blog, and I’ve made this particular one a number of times. After so many tweaks, this pattern is exactly what I want, and I’ve made it in so many different fabrics, I can basically wear one everyday if I want!

We live in an old farmhouse that’s a little drafty in some rooms, so layers are important inside the house too. I like to wear things that can double as cozy at home clothes or cute outfits for when I’m actually going to see someone other than my kids. ;) Anything that I can wear at home with sweatpants but then change my look completely when I throw on some jeans and cute boots is a win.

When I pull out our bins of winter clothes every year, I love that I get to wear my Cuddlduds again. If you live where it gets cold, you probably have a pair or two (or three) of Cuddlduds. I’ve worn them for as long as I can remember, and they are a must-have to surviving the Frozen Tundra winter! This shirt? Cuddlduds! It’s been awhile since I’ve purchased any new ones (because they last forever!), so I got so excited when I saw all the new styles.

This shirt is the perfect layering tee. It’s a modal fabric – sooo soft, thin and warm, but not so warm that you’re not going to want to wear your cute cardi. ;)

Did I mention that I made this cardigan in lots of different fabrics? Yes? Well, I did. And I’m not even a little sorry.

This shirt is my go-to for layering under cardigans. And this french terry from Raspberry Creek Fabrics is divine.

But let’s not forget… Saturday lounging! Pair this shirt with these amazing knit leggings, and a great cup of coffee – obviously, and this is where you’ll find me all winter.

I’m not even kidding you when I say that I want to LIVE in these leggings! They are quite possibly the softest things I’ve ever worn, and they look a little like joggers which is super cute. Sleep in them… wear them under your jeans when it’s really cold (hello, fifty below Wisconsin winter, I’m looking at you!)… or wear them under a tunic or sweater as leggings.

Another cardigan sweater? Yes, please. :) I made this one in fleece. It wasn’t the best choice for this pattern, because it didn’t have quite enough stretch (I recommend using a drapey sweater knit or french terry), but it sure does feel warm and cozy. Paired with these fleece leggings, I’m pretty sure I won’t feel the farmhouse drafts at.all.

Do you think my kids will be on board with cozying up in our Cuddlduds and reading all winter? I really might have to make this a thing.

I found some adorable Cuddlduds for my one year old a couple months ago at a local store, and I’ve been dying for cold weather just to see him wear them. I love that there are so many cute options for everyone in the family!

This fabric also happens to be almost exactly the same as the fabric I used to make one of my cardigans – and that wasn’t even intentional. It really is the epitome of cozy!

If you’re not going to DIY your own cardigans like me, Cuddlduds has some ADORABLE hoodies and cardi’s, so check them out if you’re not ready to make your own. Plus I saw a free shipping promo when you snag yours from Bon-Ton.. if everything could come straight to my door and I didn’t have to shop in a store, I’d be a happy girl. ;)

But if your fabric stash is begging for a little cozy sewing, let’s make a cardigan!

Download your FREE Raglan Cardigan Pattern

1. Sew the back piece to the back side of the sleeve, right sides together.

2. Sew the front piece to the front side of the sleeve, right sides together.

3. Repeat steps one and two with the other sleeve piece.

4. Fold the sleeve right sides together and sew down the sleeve, continuing all the way down the side of the cardigan, sewing the back and front piece together.

5. Option one: with a band –  cut a strip of fabric 41in. x 7in. (or narrower if you prefer). Fold in half, wrong sides together, and sew along the top of the cardigan. (see the purple cardigan for how this looks)

Option two: no band – use a double needle or coverstitch to hem the top of the cardigan (see the grey cardigan for how this looks)

7. Use a double needle or coverstitch to hem down the front of the cardigan with a 1/4 to 1/2in hem, starting at the top.

8. Hem the bottom of the cardigan in the same way.

9. Hem the sleeves with a half inch hem.

Make sure you download your FREE Raglan Cardigan Pattern!

How do you layer for cold weather? Don’t forget to snag your Cuddlduds before it gets cold and grab the free shipping promo from Bon-Ton. Then come back for more layering fun to come later this week.. a free pattern for this adorable hat will hit the blog later this week!

FREE Summer Breezy Shorts Pattern for Boys!

For many of you, summer is starting to wind down. Here in Wisconsin, though, this is the time of year that keeps us going all winter long. So we are living it up outside as much as we can! My boys have been pretty rough on their wardrobes this summer – and have grown a LOT. So they were in need of some new play and sleep shorts. This FREE pattern, The Summer Breeze Shorts, is perfect for both! It’s a really quick sew (those are kind of my jam, in case you’re new here), and it’s also great for upcycling old pants!
My boys love to wear comfortable pants that they can move around in when they’re playing outside. They want to be able to jump, play basketball, and climb trees. But they’re also at the age where they don’t want little kid pajamas anymore (I can’t talk about it… I’m in denial that they’re that old). They love pants and shorts that double as lounge wear or pajamas, and these shorts fit the bill. Depending on the fabric you use, they can easily be sleep shorts, play shorts, athletic shorts… whatever your kiddos need!

These shorts are drafted for boys, but you may find them appropriate for your girls as well. For the pants above, the black pair is upcycled from a pair of my husband’s old athletic pants (I reused the waistband and pockets) and the grey pair is made from sweatshirt fleece. They are made to be a little more relaxed fit, longer shorts.

Materials:

  • knit, athletic fabric, sweatshirt fleece, french terry
  • 1inch non-roll elastic
  • sewing machine, thread, etc.

You can download your FREE copy of the Summer Breeze Shorts in my Facebook Group. The instructions will remain here on my blog. The layout of the pattern pieces is shown below:

Let’s Sew!

1. Cut out two front and two back pieces of your fabric. Put one front and one back piece right sides together. Sew down the long side and sew up the inseam (as shown by the pink lines). Repeat with the second leg.

2. Put one leg inside the other, right sides together. Sew along the crotch seam (shown in the picture not sewn).

3. Measure your child’s waist to determine elastic length. I used 1in. elastic, but if yours is slightly bigger, you will be just fine. Sew the ends together so it forms a circle.

4. I use a coverstitch for my waistbands, so I simply fold the waistband down over the elastic circle and sew the raw edge down. Do not sew over the elastic. You could also serge the edge of your fabric and sew it down with a stretch stitch for a similar effect. See the next photo for what to do if you don’t have a coverstitch.

If you don’t have a coverstitch, you could use a double needle or simply fold the raw edge under, pin in place, and sew the fabric in place. Do not sew over the elastic.

*You could also create a casing in the fabric and insert your elastic, but I much prefer to sew waistbands like this.

5. Hem your cuffs with about an inch hem (I recommend trying them on your child first).
So easy and Summer Breezy!!

Like I said, these are perfect for jumping. Ready, set…

…GO!

Don’t forget to head over to my Facebook Group to download the free pattern! This pattern would pair perfectly with the free Surfer Tank pattern, so grab that one if you don’t have it yet. 

This post was part of the Summer Fun series hosted by Emily of Life Sew Savory. I love this series, and it was so fun to be a part of it again! You can see the fun pool noodle boats I made for this series two years ago here!

Be sure to check out all the other summer fun posts over at Life Sew Savory!

Handmade Fish Toss Game by Patchwork Posse

Kids Hat Pattern/Tutorial Round Up – Made by Sara

Cute Dolls – Sprouting Jube Jube

Ruffle Knit Play Dress – Bonnie and Blithe

Cactus Cross Stitch by Story Piece

Free Boys Shorts Pattern by If Only They Would Nap

Travel Tic Tac Toe – Straight Stitch Designs

Dollhouse Rag Rug – Once Upon a Sewing Machine

 

10 Skirt Refashion Tutorials for Skirting the Issue

July is such a great month for wearing skirts! They’re perfect for summer, easy to throw on after a day at the beach, and they can take you from the pool to date night with a quick accessory change. The lovely ladies at Simple Simon and Co. have an amazing series that they put together every July called Skirting the Issue. You can read all about it over on their site, but they spend the month gathering tutorials for skirts, pillowcases, and quilts. Then everyone who participates sews something to donate to kids in foster care! I love this idea so, SO much. This year I’ve collected 10 tutorials for refashioning skirts out of other materials, everything from shirts to dresses to pants! Most of these are super easy to sew and would be great for re-using materials that have gone unloved or even some of those XXL garments you find on the super clearance racks!

1.Dress to Skirt

This is one of my favorite upcycles that I did a long time ago! I took a thrifted dress that never fit on top and turned it into a skirt in just a few minutes.

2. T-Shirt to Skirt

This awesome tutorial from my girl Melissa at Sew Like My Mom is quick and can be for girls or women. The best part is that it’s so comfy because it doesn’t have an elastic waistband!

3. Jeans to Mini Skirt

Emily from Life Sew Savory turned a pair of jeans into this adorable mini skirt! It looks super easy, and I could imagine wearing this one at an outdoor summer concert!

4. Shirt to Baby Circle Skirt

How adorable is this little circle skirt?? My friend Dana at Sew Thrifty made this one from a t-shirt:  simple and comfy for little ones! You can use this same idea to make a circle skirt for yourself too.

5. Prom Dress to Skirt

I adore this super fun refashion from Fleece Fun! What a great way to use an old prom dress or even a bridesmaid dress that you normally wouldn’t get to wear again.

6. Shirt to Skirt

Here’s a different way to take a T-shirt and make it into a skirt from Make It and Love It. Re-using the existing hem makes it so fast!

7. Flannel Shirt to Skirt

How fun is this cozy upcycle from Randomly Happy Blog? Take a flannel shirt and turn it into a fall or winter skirt! Perfect for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere right now.

8. Sweats to Skirt

Here’s another comfy skirt from It’s Always Autumn. Take a pair of sweatpants and transform them into a skirt! She also has a tutorial for a kid’s version on her blog.

9. Sweater to Skirt

Since we’re talking cozy skirts, this refashion from Pearls and Scissors takes a sweater and turns it into a warm winter skirt. I’m imagining this with tights and tall boots – so cute, right?!

10. Vintage Sheet to Skirt

Here’s another one of mine that I loved – a favorite vintage sheet turned skirt! I added some doilies as pockets for a functional accent. :)

I love taking a garment that’s lost its luster and using it to create something brand new. It’s a great way to breathe new life into something that would otherwise be bound for a landfill! Search through thrift shops and clearance racks (or the back of your closets!) to find your fabric. With so many skirt tutorials to choose from, you should be set! Now get sewing – for yourself and also for Skirting the Issue! Make sure you pop over to Simple Simon and Co to get all the details on what to do with your skirt and to check out all the awesome ideas and inspiration. Love these ladies and their generous hearts!!

Happy sewing, friends!

When Motherhood Isn’t What You Expected 

Anytime you bring a new baby home, your life is going to change. Most of those changes are so, so good. And many are just as difficult. But babies grow and (eventually) sleep through the night, and what was hard yesterday isn’t so hard today.

So when we brought home baby boy five, I expected certain challenges. I knew there would be countless sleepless nights ahead of me. I knew there would be crying – from both baby and mama. I knew there could be some rocky days as his brothers transitioned to this new person in our home. I knew that I should expect the unexpected.

photo credit: Brooke Collier Photography

But this most recent season of motherhood has been more exhausting and more challenging than I was prepared for. In the nine plus years since I became a parent, I’ve been a proud breastfeeding mama. Not in an “I’m better than you if you don’t breastfeed” kind of way, but in an “I’m willing to work as hard as I can to make this work, because this is what I believe is best for my baby.” And it has been hard work.

So of course, I expected the same for our newest babe. After all, fifth babies come at least with the blessing of experience – every little thing isn’t new and confusing, as it was with my first.

photo credit: Brooke Collier Photography

In the beginning, it was easy. He nursed like a champ, and we had very few problems. We settled into a groove and everything was going well. Until it wasn’t.

At a well-check, we discovered he wasn’t gaining weight. Even though I thought he had been nursing so well, he wasn’t growing like he should have been.

This felt personal. I’m the one responsible for this little life. I’m his sole source of nourishment. I’m the reason he’s not growing.

It took awhile to find the cause of his lack of weight gain, and in the process, we began to supplement. I cried when my husband gave him his first bottle. Not because formula was going to ruin my baby, but because I felt like I had failed him. I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do – what I was made to do.

Through my own persistence and refusing to simply believe that my milk wasn’t “enough” we discovered our little one had a significant lip and tongue tie that had been over looked for months. Once we began down the road of supplementing (which was necessary, even if it was heart wrenching), baby decided he didn’t want to nurse anymore. Who could blame him, really. He hadn’t been physically capable of getting all the milk he needed when nursing, so when we introduced a bottle, he didn’t have to work so hard to fill his little belly anymore.

So my life revolved around feedings – pumping, attempting to nurse only to be met with screams and tears – his and mine, and bottle feeding. I felt like all I did was feed and pump, feed and pump.

My free moments were few and far between. When the baby was sleeping, I was pumping and homeschooling and trying to keep up with the daily tasks of mothering a small army of children. I was spending every second of the day – and throughout the night – caring for a child. I put all other things on the back burner – sewing, exercising, self-care. It was a hard and difficult season.

But because this was my fifth baby and not my first, I knew that it was just that – a season. Sometimes I would pump in my sewing room and look at my stacks of fabric, and my mind would fill with ideas for what to sew next. I would spot the half finished projects sitting on my sewing table, and wonder how long it would be before I could get to them. And then I would remind myself that it wasn’t always like this – and one day, it would get better. I would dust off my sewing machine and we’d pick back up like the old friends we are. This season was hard, but it wasn’t going to last forever.

About a month ago, I chose to stop pumping. Instead of feeling guilty for not nursing a full year or more like I had with my other kiddos, I knew that it was the right choice for me. I needed to step out of that hard season and create a little more margin in my days. My milk supply had been dwindling, and I knew that my body and my soul needed some restoration.

I’ve since returned to my trusty sewing machine and finished projects that I had begun months ago. My brain made space to create something new. I still have days or weeks where my sewing machine sits untouched. The dishes pile up and must be washed. The baby learns to crawl, gets into everything he shouldn’t, and suddenly I’m trading sleepy snuggles for chasing him around the house. Summer comes and we spend hours at the park.

Motherhood always brings the unexpected: joys, tears, adventures, and challenges. But I always come back to sewing, even if it comes in 15 minute increments, because this is my self-care. When life throws something at you that you weren’t expecting, the small moments of taking care of yourself become even more important. I know that if I don’t take care of myself, there’s no way I can take care of these littles of mine. When the season changes, I’ll have a renewed appreciation for an uninterrupted hour spent with my sewing machine. Here in this season of sleepless nights and countless bottle feedings, though, I’m okay with slow sewing with a side of baby snuggles.

Thanks, Jodi, for inviting me to be a part of the Ease Into Motherhood series.

Party in the Back Dress FREE pattern

It’s finally summer, so that means it’s time to wear dresses! I’m joining up again with Melissa at Melly Sews for her 30 Days of Sundresses series! You can check out my last year’s post with free pattern here and the previous year’s tutorial here. This year I decided to stick with my knit dress theme (because knits are my jam) and make a cute little sleeveless dress with a slightly gathered yoke and a super fun cut out back. So I had to name it the Party in the Back dress! :) Keep reading for the full tutorial and to download your own FREE pattern!This dress is really simple to sew and SO comfy to wear. The slightly gathered yoke gives it a little bit of interest while still letting the fabric be the focus.

Unless, of course, you’re looking at the back, and then this fun cut out is the focus!

And hopefully the fun cut out in the back is enough to distract you from the weird short hairs that are growing… I blame the baby. ;)

I have a one-size pattern (size medium) free for download. If this size doesn’t work for you, you can use this tutorial to use a pattern you have on-hand to make your own cut-out back dress.

Download Your Party In The Back Dress FREE Pattern

Quick note on fabric: you want a stable knit with good stretch. Really drapey knits will not work well for this dress.

1.Print out and tape/glue together the pattern pieces. The pattern is tiled four across.

2. Gather the front and back pieces. They are very slightly gathered until they match the front and back yoke pieces. Sew the back yoke to the back gathered piece, right sides together, and repeat with the front.

3. Cut out a strip 14.5in x 1.25in for the binding for the back cut out. Sew the binding onto the cut out, the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the cut out opening. 

4. Fold over the seam, folding the raw edge under.

5. Sew the binding down. You can do this with a double needle or a coverstitch. I used a coverstitch with a single needle.

6. Overlap the ends of the cut out about an inch to form the circle. Pin or clip together.

7. Sew the shoulders together, right sides together.

8. Sew the sides together, right sides together.

9. Cut a 24.5in x 1.25in strip for the neckline binding. Sew the short ends together, right sides together.

10. Sew to the neckline as you did with the cut-out binding. *only here, use a 1/2in seam allowance. Make sure you secure the ends of the cut-out binding in your seam.

11. You can hem the armscye with a double needle or coverstitch as I did. Or you can cut a 16.5in x 1.25in binding and sew it like the previous bindings.

12. Hem the dress to your desired length. I took a couple inches off the pattern, because I am short (5’3″) and I wanted the dress to be a fun above the knee summer length.

13. Press the bindings and hems really well.

Download Your Party In The Back Dress FREE Pattern

 This dress is super comfy and is going to be a staple in my wardrobe this summer!

To check out more sundresses, make sure you pop over to Melly Sews to see what everyone else has been sewing.

Happy sewing, friends!

 

 

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Must-have Cardigan Patterns for Women

I love cardigans. I mean, I really, really love cardigans. I wear a cardigan nearly everyday in the fall, winter, and spring. And probably a lot of days in the summer too! I love to have a variety, and I’ve been itching to add a few more to my handmade wardrobe. It probably helps that cardigans are a bit more accommodating to a postpartum mama’s body! There are some awesome cardigan patterns out there right now, and they each have their own unique style. I’ve gathered up some of these must-have cardigan patterns for women, so hopefully you can find one that you like as well!

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1. The Esme Cardigan from Named Clothing is first on my to-make list. I purchased some awesome thick sweater knit that I’m hoping to use for it. I’m planning to make this one a little bit shorter, but I love the pockets and plan on wearing it kind of like a coat!

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2. The Phinney Ridge Cardi from Straight Stitch Designs is such a classic style. I own a bunch of ready-to-wear cardigans in this style, but I wear them so often that some of them are wearing thin and need to be replaced. I might make this cardigan a touch longer. I also really love the elbow patches!

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3. The Driftless Cardigan from Grainline Studio is similar to the Phinney Ridge, but longer and with super fun pockets! I think the big pockets are so unique, and I think this would be so cozy.

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4. The Carrie Cardigan from Delia Creates is the perfect cocoon cardigan! I actually don’t own any cardigans in this style, and I’ve heard that it’s a super quick sew. There are a couple different views of this cardi – long or short length, plus long or short sleeves.

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5. The Ficus Cardigan from Sew Like My Mom is definitely out of the box for me. I usually don’t like peplums, but I feel like as a cardigan, it wouldn’t be quite as overwhelming. I think with the peplum, it could make a casual outfit feel a little dressier!

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6. The Laurelhurst from Straight Stitch Designs has been out for awhile, and this is one of my favorite cardigan styles as well. I have a couple similar ready-to-wear already, but they’re all funky patterns, and I want some solids. Plus, I’m never disappointed with Melissa’s patterns, so I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone on this one. :)

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Clearly I have some lofty sewing goals! And the freakishly spring-like weather we’re having in the middle of February makes me want to sew really quickly, so that I can get to wearing these before spring actually arrives! Wisconsin surely has some winter left, so I need to bust out the sweater knits and french terry while I can.

Happy sewing!