Regular Tee to Maternity Tee: Easiest Ever Maternity Shirt Refashion

A few weeks ago, I grabbed some Men’s shirts off the clearance rack at Old Navy, determined to  refashion them into maternity shirts.

And I did. And they turned out great. And I might blog about them later.

But it wasn’t exactly what you would call a quick project.

It required a lot of steps-cutting, unpicking, measuring, sewing, hemming, etc.

I figured there had to be an easier way. And there is!!!! And not only is it easier (like, literally will take you 5 minutes kind of easy), it was actually cheaper too, so it’s a win-win-win kind of project.

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{sorry for the crappy pics!}

So, as you can see, all I did was add some ruching to the sides of a large tee shirt so that the shirt fits nicely around my belly.

I guess if DIY Maternity Tees aren’t in your needed repertoire, you can just use this little tutorial to learn how to ruche…which is seriously so, so easy. No need to be intimidated!

Here’s what you need in addition to your regular sewing stuff:

  • A tee shirt (I found this tee at Walmart for only $2.88. Remember that ruching scrunches your fabric up, so just make sure your tee is long enough to spare losing a few inches. I chose an XL because it fits my belly and had some extra length)
  • 1/4 inch elastic
  • safety pins (although, you really could manage without)

 

First, try your tee shirt on to get an idea of where you want your ruching to hit you.

I kind of go by where my belly starts and stops. So (for this shirt) I decided to have my ruching start 3 1/2 inches below the armpit seam. And I wanted the ruched portion to be about 6 1/2 inches long, so I cut two pieces of elastic, each 6 1/2 inches (full disclosure-the bottom of my shirt was a little looser than I like, so if I did this same project again, I think I’d cut my elastic to 8 inches to get more shape at the very bottom).

So, cut your 2 pieces of elastic…

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Then, with your shirt inside out, measure down to where you want your ruching to start (again, in my case, it was 3 1/2 inches down from the armpit), and pin your elastic in place.

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Next, stretch your elastic right along that side seam. You will be pulling your elastic totally taught, but don’t pull your shirt at all. Pin the end of the elastic in place. You can kind of tell from the picture above how the ruching will play out once it’s sewn.

Do the same thing to the other side seam.

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When everything is pinned into place, you can pull out your sewing machine. Using your zig zag stitch, stitch the top of your elastic directly onto the side seam of your tee shirt. Once that top part is secure, stretch your elastic while sewing it to the seam of your tee. Be careful that your elastic stays on the seam and that you are stretching the elastic the whole time. I go slow and readjust every couple of inches.

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This is how it looks when the elastic is all sewn into place. You just have to repeat with the other side and you’re done!

If you need some maternity tees, I highly recommend making your own! This project literally took me 10 minutes (and only so long because I was taking pictures of the process) and I feel like I saved $20 by doing it myself. Win-win!

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Books Lately

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Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

This book: takes a look at a wide range of people who have achieved success throughout history and what exactly made them so successful. Not so much a self-help book as a fascinating exploration of circumstances, culture, and determination. Gladwell delves into the lives of Bill Gates, the Beatles and several others who have obtained success (as well as those who might have…but didn’t).

What I thought:

  • Gladwell has a way of looking at the world from a different perspective that turns his writing into something unique and intriguing (his writing, to me, is very reminiscent of what you find in Freakonomics). He tells stories of true events and then ties them to the theory he’s exploring-in this case success. It reads surprisingly easily so I finished the book in no time.
  • Each of the stories he shares really sucked me in. History is so interesting and most of the stories are ones you probably have never heard before. My favorite chapter is the one about airplane crashes!
  • I love books where I’m learning stuff that I just want to share! This book is full of interesting little snippets that Ben probably got sick of hearing about.
  • My only complaint with the book is that the last couple chapters weren’t quite as exciting as the rest of the book…but still worthwhile.

Should you read it? I honestly give full recommendations. It was excellent.

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Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

This book: has been on my To-Read list for quite some time, having been heavily recommended by several people. It’s all about habits-why they’re beneficial, tips for creating new ones or squelching old ones, and information about how your personality impacts your habit making process.

What I Thought: I truthfully vacillated between loving this book and hating this book. Here’s what I loved:

  • The first few chapters of this book were pure gold for me. She explains 4 different types of people and how they respond to making goals, creating habits or responding to authority. Of course, I love anything psychology related, and the information in those few chapters is so insightful and really helped me to understand more about people. I honestly think everyone should read those chapters. It’s info that’s applicable to everyone-bosses, coworkers, parents-pretty much anyone who interacts with others…ever.
  • The book is jam packed with valuable little tidbits about making habits. If you’ve got some goals, I’ve no doubt this book would help inspire change, as well as give you some ideas of how to go about it.
  • So Rubin has a blog and she intersperses readers’ comments throughout her book, which I really love.

Here’s what I didn’t like as much:

  • This is a crazed rant, for sure. BUT. Personal background: I feel like every mother has a “catch all cure” that will fix 99% of whatever is ailing you. For my mom, the cure is to drink more water. Headache? Drink More Water. Tired? Drink More Water. Broken arm? Drink More Water (just kidding, Mom would’ve taken us to the hospital, but you get my point). I don’t think Mom’s totally crazy-lots of the times it works. Not to mention basically every health care professional will tell you that there are many benefits to drinking more water. So, back to the book, when Rubin went off on this huge tangent about how making a habit to drink more water is totally unnecessary and won’t really benefit you in any way, you can imagine how I kind of cocked my head and went, “HUH????” Much later we find out that Rubin is an avid (and from the sounds of it, exclusive) diet soda drinker. Not only that, but she won’t even claim that it’s a bad habit. She seems to have scrounged up the 2 articles that aren’t in favor of water, mounted them in gold, and said that they are the end all on the matter. Unfortunately, this made me skeptical through the rest of the book.
  • Rubin really contradicts herself several times throughout the book, and it always seems to be leaning in her favor. First, she explains that we should set goals while catering to our specific personalities and tendencies. For example, you should determine if you are an early bird or a night owl and then create your new goal during a time when you’ll be feeling the most energetic (this is, honestly, great advice!). BUT through the rest of the book she says several times that everyone should develop the habit of going to bed early and waking up early. Wanna guess whether she’s an early bird or a night owl? Yeah, pretty inconsistent.
  • I didn’t have goals in mind when I started this book and most of the goal ideas that Rubin presents are things that I’m currently comfortable with…so I didn’t really get inspired to change (which is mostly my fault).
  • Rubin sounds annoying…there, I said it! She tells about so many instances where she (unsolicited, of course) blatantly points out others’ bad habits, tells the person how to change, and then checks up on them regularly to see how it’s going. As a fellow Upholder, I think, “Am I this annoying???”

Should you read it? When I finished reading this book, I think I hated it more than I loved it. After giving it some time to simmer, I can see that it definitely has some powerful insights. I would recommend you read it if you’ve got some goals in mind, but need some extra momentum to get going. (Ha! Maybe this book should’ve had its own post because this is the longest review ever).

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Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody

This book: was highly recommended to me by my mother-in-law. It’s an autobiographical account of Ralph, who was just a boy when his family moved across the country to settle in Colorado and try their hand at ranching.

What I Thought:

  • First, let me say that this is a gem of a book. It’s the kind of book that can reach any age and that would be excellent for reading together as a family.
  • The writing style was the slightest bit difficult for me to get into (but really just barely). Also, the setting is over a hundred years old, so there are some references and terminology that were totally unfamiliar to me. Even so, it was easy to understand what was going on.
  • Books set in earlier time periods always make me think about what a lazy butt I get to be. It’s so crazy to think of what had to happen in a day to get dinner on the table. And if you didn’t do it, you didn’t eat. Now, if I don’t feel like cooking, I just call Pizza Hut and call it a day. Makes me feel a bit like an L-7 Weenie…but that’s probably a good thing every once in awhile.
  • The dad in this book is so amazing. He gives the best lessons in the best ways. The book could probably be renamed “Kick-A Parenting 101.” There are a billion great quotes in this book that I just L.O.V.E.D. A classic is:
    • “A man’s character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn’t do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin. A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth.”   (Ben actually tells his classes the story behind this quote every semester…cheating isn’t worth it!)
  • No surprises here, but the book made me cry.

Should you read it? Again, I confidently give it my full recommendation. It’s wonderful for every age.

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Peek-a Who? By Nina Laden

Every once in awhile, I throw in a book that Wendy has been loving for anyone who’s looking for baby/toddler books and this one has been a total winner. It’s insanely short so it’s not awful if I have to read it 50 times in a day and it seriously cracks Wendy up every time we read it. She loves it so much that even when we were at the library, she somehow found this one on the shelf and pulled it down as her choice of reading.

Sequin Heart Pillow

I was going to ask if you guys have seen reversible sequins but then I realized what a dumb question that is. If you’ve gone into pretty much any store in the last few months you are bound to have seen the stuff. And since it is everywhere, we have to assume that everyone (okay, every preteen girl) loves it as much as I do.

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But did you know that you can buy reversible sequin fabric???

Yes, you can, and it might just be my favorite thing ever.

I bought a little of it awhile ago, and finally decided that a heart pillow would be the perfect way to use it.

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I just did the sequins for the front. No matter what I say or do, in Ben’s eyes a pillow is a pillow. There’s no such thing as a “decorative” pillow. Luckily, I found the perfect fabric to use for the back: a white “Luxe Fleece” with gold speckles (although I was reeeeeeaaaallllly close to getting this fabulous pink velvet for the back), so that it can still fulfill its destiny of comfortably cradling someone’s head.

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I really need to make more pillows because they are the easiest thing ever.

I always put it off because there’s like 3 inches of hand sewing and I always dread doing it. But it never takes more than 5 minutes so I need to just suck it up and crank out some more pillows.

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Because pillows are a SUPER easy way to be a little more festive and fun for not a bad price. I probably spent about $15 on the fabric, but I could easily make at least 2 more pillows with what’s left over. After that, I just had to stuff it (over a year ago, I bought 10 pounds of polyfil on Amazon for only $20 (you can find the same deal at Walmart, often in stores as well). I’ve used it for numerous projects and still probably have almost half the box. It was such a good buy-if you’re into crafting at all, I highly recommend getting the big box because it’s sooooo much cheaper that way and it lasts forever!).

Anyhow, DIY pillows for the win!

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And this picture didn’t even require any coercion.

January 2018

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Good

  • Ben didn’t start school until after MLK Jr. Day so we had a few weeks to just kind of relax and spend time more time with each other than normal. We took advantage by going to the Out of Africa Park and on hikes and just taking it easy. It was really nice.
  • We also had the opportunity to go to the temple. Our closest temple is 2 hours away so, with Wendy, we don’t get to go very often and normally try to take advantage when we’re visiting family so that they can watch her. But it slipped our minds over this last trip and the day after we got home, Ben said, “Let’s take a trip to the temple!” I, truthfully, wasn’t very excited to spend so much more time in the car, but we went and I’m really glad we did!
  • Although Ben didn’t have classes those first couple weeks of the month, he did have his comprehensive exams. So he spent plenty of time going to study groups and studying on his own. But he took them and passed all of them…so with that and his thesis out of the way, it really should be smooth sailing until graduation.
  • Bay Girl #2 is doing well! We had a couple appointments this month and she was breech for the first one but had boogied around by the time of my next appointment. She’s measuring right on and I’m doing well.
  • Wendy finally started walking! She definitely took her sweet time but when she finally got brave enough to get going, she took off without reserve. It’s so funny to see her little body waddling around. And now I need to remember to put shoes on her when we go out! She’s also just been learning and understanding on a new level. Her favorite thing is to pick a book and bring it to me or Ben so we can read it to her. She’ll bring 10 books in a row-she LOVES reading! (Now that I’m going, I just want to tell you ALL THE THINGS Wendy’s been doing.) If we say “Awwwwe” Wendy will get a toy out and snuggle it (or snuggle whoever is holding her). When she gets her hands on a wipe, she’ll scrub it around on her belly. And, for whatever reason, when we’re in the car, she just sits and laughs these fake laughs. Sorry, I got carried away. We love our little weirdo!
  • I know there have been mixed reviews about the mild weather that seems to be going on (almost) everywhere…but I have been loving it! We’ve had snow a couple times this month (and it always gets Christmas songs stuck in my head…despite the fact that Christmas is definitely over), but for the most part we’ve enjoyed mild, sunny days, some where we don’t even need jackets. It’s beautiful.

Blah

  • Wendy’s sleep schedule has been seriously whack since we got back from visiting family. It’s almost like she’s trying to just do everything opposite of how we had been doing it??? It is so weird. It has been a big old reminder to not get used to any set schedule in parenting because it’s bound to go changing on you (which I guess works in my favor too-this weird sleep phase won’t last forever either).
  • I’ve kept you guys updated with Wendy’s visits to her specialists and we had another visit this week. We actually first had a check up with Wendy’s regular doctor, who was very pleased with Wendy’s growth and said that she’s doing great. So you can imagine my frustration when the specialists said (later that SAME day) that they were disappointed with Wendy’s weight gain and that they’d been hoping to see more progress. Aghhhrblgh!!!! It goes without saying that I want the best for Wendy. It just gets me all sorts of grumpy when I’m getting different opinions…especially when I side with her doctor-I think she’s doing great! Bleh. Maybe we need to send Wendy up to her grandparents’ house where she can eat as much ice cream as she wants…surely that would fatten her up…;)

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On My Brain

  • With a baby coming and a probable impending move, I’ve been aching to get some things organized and boxed up. BUT since we don’t know when we’d be moving or where we’d be moving, I feel like I can’t really get anything done. Looks like I’ll be facing the brunt of it after the baby comes…
  • I was sad to find out that President Monson had passed away. I’m also really happy for him to have “graduated” and to be able to be with his wife again. I’ve been reading his biography, and, while I’ve always been impressed with the kind of person President Monson was, this book has just got me amazed at his dedication and love and service. Most recently I read about how, in the 60s, President (then Elder) Monson was in charge of East Germany, which was behind the Iron Curtain at the time. Since supplies were hard to come by for people over there, President Monson started giving away his suits on his visits. His secretary estimated he gave away 10 suits every single year since that time. Such an incredible man. I sure love him.

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Extras

  • Ha! I’m adding this section just so I can ask you guys questions and/or give some personal recommendations for my new faves.
  • First-do any of you guys have a favorite place to buy men’s white button up shirts (I know-most boring thing to give opinions on)??? We’ve bought like 3 this year for Ben and they’ve all been awful. So, recommendations? (I’m asking everyone but Heather because I know Matt will only wear white button ups that have been hand stitched by blind nuns and imported from rural caves in Germany).
  • Also, while visiting, my mother-in-law introduced us to Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt and we have been loving it. It is ONLY sweetened with stevia (which is a totally natural herb). So it’s naturally low in sugar but it still tastes great. Since it’s Greek yogurt, it has a good amount of protein and they also add chicory root to it, so it’s a good source of fiber as well. I love it (and Wendy loves it…and I don’t feel bad giving it to her regularly since it’s not jacked up with a buttload of processed sugar) and highly recommend it if cutting out unnecessary sugar is something you’re trying to do. We’ve found it in bulk at Sam’s Club, but you can get lots of different flavors if you just buy it individually.
  • We’ve been signed up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for about a year now and it’s been so awesome, I feel like everyone should take advantage. Basically, if you sign up for the program, your child is sent a free book every month. And, unlike other “free” programs, this one is actually 100% free-there are no fees for registering or anything. Some of the books they send are so-so but many of the ones we’ve received have become Wendy’s favorites. Oh-and they’re NEW books too. The only downfall is that the program is only available in specific towns, but it’s definitely worth checking the map to see if your town is one of the areas.

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DIY Wrap Dress: Sewing

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Here’s the rest of the information about sewing your own wrap dress! (Click here for info on how to draft your own wrap dress pattern:).

I mentioned it in my last post, but I just feel the need to say it again: I am no professional in sewing, pattern drafting or teaching! I dabble and hope for the best, ha! So I will share very basic instructions for how to sew your wrap dress. BUT it’s not a step by step and there aren’t any photos of the process, so I would recommend sewing this dress only if you’ve done a little sewing before. In any case, YouTube is awesome and it’s a source I use all the time when I run into something I’m unsure about.

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For my dress, I was hoping to use some sort of knit fabric. I made the mistake of buying the sequined fabric first, so I had a really hard time finding a shade of green that worked for the rest of the dress that was also stretchy (I wish there were more stores with apparel fabric!).

But I ended up finding this emerald stretch satin. It’s mostly polyester with a bit of rayon and the stretch is very minimal. But there is a stretch, it’s very lightweight but it’s not sheer at all. So it really fit all of my requirements.

I think there are plenty of fabrics that would work for this project, but I would recommend choosing something that’s not too bulky, and something that has a bit of a stretch (that way, you don’t have to worry about adding darts to your pattern).

I got 1/2 yard of the sequined fabric for my sleeves, and 4 yards of the stretch satin for the rest of the dress. I might’ve been okay with a little less, but I think it’s best to err on the side of too much, right? Adjust those measurements as needed (like if you’re making longer sleeves or if you’re not a total shorty like me:).

 

All right! Let’s get on to sewing! Remember, I don’t give any information on finishing edges (including necklines!), so plan your project accordingly (sorry, I’m just not very good at necklines yet, so I don’t feel at all qualified telling someone else how to do them. I will say that it’s probably best to finish your neckline BEFORE adding sleeves).

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Gosh, this is the 21st century but I still prefer hand drawing. Ha!

Here are the general steps to sewing your wrap dress:

  1. Sew the back bodice piece to the front bodice pieces at the shoulder.
  2. Sew on both sleeves.
  3. Make your sashes by ironing your sash pieces in half. Sew (for the sashes you can just sew at a 1/4 inch) along the length of your raw edges. Leave one width edge unsewn, and sew the other width edge at an angle (and trim to 1/4 inch). Turn the sash right side out and press again.
  4. Sew each sash to one of your bodice fronts.
  5. Sew your skirt pieces on to each corresponding bodice piece at the waist.
  6. Sew the side seams of bodices and skirts to each other. NOTE: One of your sashes needs a hole to come through in your bodice to be able to wrap around your. So, as you are sewing the side seams, leave about 2 inches (although this will vary depending on how big your sashes are) unsewn right above your waist.

(Hopefully you can kind of see how I did it…it’s a little hard since it’s all the same color.)

The last step is to just hem everywhere that needs it!

Feel free to ask any questions! And if anyone actually ends up making this dress, send me a picture! I’d love to see how it turns out!

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DIY Wrap Dress: Pattern Drafting

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This post has been a long time coming.

And it will probably be a long one.

And please remember that I am not a professional…in anything. Okay, deal.

 

I’ve wanted to make a wrap dress for a reeealllly long time. Have you guys seen those cute floral wrap dresses that every woman seems to have? Well, I want to join the masses in owning one but they are pretty expensive and I figured making one would be cheaper and it’d be FUN! The problem is that I have a phobia of buying fabric online (I want to FEEL it!) and I haven’t seen what I want at the local fabric store yet. Bleh.

When Christmas got close, I started thinking about doing matching Christmas outfits for the fam (in the style of our Easter outfits) and I decided to finally do the wrap dress, although not in floral.

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The dress definitely ended up being more special occasion than I had been planning…but, even so, I was seriously so excited with how it turned out. Lots of the time, when I make something for myself, I wear it once-out of obligation-and then never again. This dress is one I could see myself wearing again and again. I’m holding onto the pattern I made in hopes that someday I DO find the perfect floral knit so that I can make the same dress, but a little more casual.

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Speaking of patterns…I think that the success of this dress was due to lots of research, careful measuring and making my own pattern! There are lots of sources online explaining how to SEW a wrap dress…but none that shared how to create a pattern for a wrap dress. So I ended up making my own pattern. I realize that a more practical person would’ve just bought a pattern…but clearly that’s not me. Here, I’m going to share how I made the pattern for my dress, so that if you get bit by the exciting (albeit slightly reckless) sewing bug, you can make your own wrap dress too!

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For the pattern drafting, you will need:

  • Ruler
  • Sewing Tape Measure (to take your own measurements-not pictured)
  • Pencil
  • Paper (You can really use anything, although if it’s smaller, like printer paper, you’ll have to tape pieces together. I use a long roll of freezer paper, but just use what you have on hand: newspaper, parchment paper, paper bags, etc.)
  • Craft scissors (not your fabric scissors)
  • A shirt that fits similarly to how you want the bodice of your dress to fit (no worries-the shirt will remain completely in tact).

 

I’ve found it’s easiest to take all my measurements, write them down and then start on the drafting. To measure, put on the shirt that you’ll be using to make your pattern. (If your shirt is different than how you want your dress to be, make note of it while it’s on you and measure how you want your dress to be. For example, if your shirt has short sleeves, but you want long sleeves, measure for the long sleeves). Here are the measurements you’ll want to take:

  • Shoulder to waist (the waist is wherever you want your sash to hit. Since I’m pregnant and don’t really have a waist, I measured to right below my boobs. If I wasn’t pregnant, I’d definitely go more toward my natural waist)
  • Front waist measurement
  • Back waist measurement (you could also just measure your waist and divide it by two. I chose to use two separate measurements because I measured from seam to seam on both the front and back of my shirt and the front measurement was slightly bigger…but that might just be a pregnancy thing)
  • Neckline to sleeve seam
  • Sleeve length
  • Armpit (not really your armpit-but where the bottom of your sleeve is) to your waist

Now that we have our supplies and measurements, we can get to drafting. For the wrap dress, we’ll end up needing 3 different pattern pieces: Bodice back, bodice front and sleeves. This is what I did: (also, this video was a helpful guide to how to use clothes to make patterns)

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I made the bodice back first. Since the back is the same on one side as the other side, we only have to draw half of it. Turn your shirt inside out, fold it in half exposing the back, and lay it on your paper so that you have extra space on all sides.

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Trace the shirt along the back, the neckline and the shoulder.

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When you come to the sleeve, you’ll have to carefully feel where the seam is…

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Then (again, being very careful that your shirt doesn’t slide around as you do this), lift the sleeve-still holding your finger where the seam is-and draw a mark where your pencil is. You’ll do this the entire length of the sleeve-feeling the seam and flipping to mark.

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Until you have dots along the entire sleeve. No worries if it’s a little crooked (like mine).

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Just use your pencil to connect the dots and kind of straighten things out.

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You can set your shirt aside at this point. Use your ruler to measure from the bottom of the sleeve to your waist and draw a line (which is your side seam). Also measure from your shoulder to your waist and draw another line (which is your waist).

The pattern is looking pretty good at this point! Now we need to add a seam allowance.

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Standard U.S. seam allowance for clothing is 5/8 of an inch. But lots of people use 1/2 inch because it’s close enough but easier to measure. Choose whichever you want (don’t go any shorter, though).

Be mindful that not every line needs a seam allowance. Depending on how you are finishing your neckline (and I am not a pro at necklines so I offer no insight on this matter), you might not want a seam allowance there.

I made a mistake on the picture below…see if you can catch it…

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Yep, I drew a seam allowance line where my fabric is supposed to be folded…which is a place that obviously doesn’t need a seam allowance. But everyone can rest a little easier knowing that my error wasn’t on the original pattern (just the one I did to take pictures).

Drawing your seam allowance on the straight lines is super easy. Around the curves, just measure and make a tick mark every half inch or so and then connect the dots.

An important thing to remember to do when making your own pattern is to LABEL! I always write what the pattern is for (i.e. wrap dress), what pattern piece it is (i.e. bodice back) and any other relevant information (i.e. cut on fold, what my seam allowance is, etc.).

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Here’s my bodice back finished, with correct seam allowances. It’s cut out along the seam allowance line and ready to be used to cut fabric. (I didn’t note it on the picture, but that straight line at the very top is the measurement of your neckline to where your sleeve starts.)

The bodice front is created in a similar way (I didn’t take pictures of the step by step, but it’s the same concept).

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Here’s my finished bodice front. Note that since the neckline is so different, I really only used my shirt to draft the shoulder seam and the sleeve. Don’t forget to add seam allowances and to label!

For some reason, sleeves have always seemed so foreign and scary to me! But using a shirt to make your pattern, can really help side step that fear and help you feel confident that your sleeves will turn out great!

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To make your sleeve pattern, lay your shirt down on the pattern paper with your sleeve folded in half. This piece will NOT be cut on a fold, so make sure you have room to flip the sleeve and continue tracing.

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Mark the bottom of your sleeve, as well as that portion you can see between my thumb and index finger.

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Then use that same method we used on the bodice-feel where the sleeve’s seam is, carefully lift and mark.

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When you get to the top of the sleeve, carefully flip your shirt to continue the curve (make sure the fold stays in the same place).

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Oh, wow, that’s an ugly picture. Ha! But that is roughly how your finished sleeve pattern should look. Note that there’s a seam allowance all the way around. Also, remember that the bottom of the sleeve will be hemmed. Anywhere that is going to be hemmed, I always leave an extra couple of inches so I can play with the length AND so that I can do a rolled hem if I want. The point is: give hemlines some extra length just to be safe, and to give you some options (you won’t regret it!).

Okay, so you should have three pattern pieces at this point:

You could definitely make patterns for your skirt pieces and your sashes…but I chose not to because they just consist of straight lines.  Here’s a general idea of what you want your skirt pieces to look like:

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Sorry, again, for not the best picture. But. The middle skirt is what you want your back skirt to look like. And the ones one the side are how you want your side pieces to look (the angled edges being the side seams). I wish I had the angle degree or a formula for how much of an angle you want, but I don’t (and I’m really sorry!). I just kind of winged it! Do angle it, though, and make sure that the bottom of your skirt piece is wider than the waist (mine was 8 inches longer on the side pieces and 15 inches longer in the back, if that helps!). Don’t forget to include seam allowances and add a couple extra inches at the bottom for hemming!

I wanted my sashes to be long (long enough to wrap around me an extra time) and to be thick so I cut my 2 sashes at 5 inches by 60 inches (yes, 5 feet!). This can vary, though, if you want a different look.

 

This post is already huge so I’m going to post the (very general) sewing instructions later this week! I’ll talk about the kind of fabric I used, how much I used, and stuff like that. Let me know if anything needs clarification!

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{P.S. Happy Birthday, Neil Diamond!!! I guess it’s appropriate I’m posting a project with sequins😂}

Italian Sausage Tortellini

Having a baby has made me 100 times more appreciative of quick meals. If I can make a tasty dinner with less than 30 minutes of hands-on prep, that recipe will have a place in my recipe box (and busy mom heart) for life. (Also, when am I supposed to stop calling Wendy a baby? She’s older than a year….but younger than 2…Buuuuut then again she’s always going to be MY baby, you know? Hm…).

BUT quick meals=the best.

In fact, if you have any faves in your repertoire, please send them my way, thank you very much, because I don’t think there’s such a thing as having too many delicious, quick, easy recipes.

Which is why I’m sharing one of our favorites with you today!

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I got this recipe from Kevin and Amanda which, if you haven’t, you really should check out that blog (but, then again, maybe you shouldn’t because (for me, anyway) it can easily turn into a webosphere black hole of gorgeous photos, luxurious vacations, and tantalizing recipes). But every recipe I’ve tried of theirs is totally spot on.

This particular recipe is incredible and a total fave in our house because:

  • It’s all made in one pan
  • I usually have everything on hand to make it
  • It’s totally delicious
  • It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish
  • It has tomatoes and spinach which, you know, make it full meal, right?

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The sauce is really just a light coating but that’s perfectly fine (even by me, who is wild for sauces) because there are so many other delicious flavors going on. Everyone I’ve made this for has loved it. It’s one of those meals that gives me rage blackout when Ben takes all the leftovers for lunch the next day so I end up having to eat a quesadilla. Whomp, whomp.

Make it soon! Your stomach won’t regret it and you’ll love how quick it is! Here’s the recipe:

Italian Sausage Tortellini

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cups diced onions
1 lb mild Italian sausage
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup regular or heavy cream
9 ounces tortellini (fresh or frozen)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, sausage and garlic. Cook (and crumble sausage as you stir) until the sausage is cooked through. Add the broth, tomatoes, cream and tortellini and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer about 15 minutes (or until the tortellini is tender and heated through). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and let cook until it’s wilted. Turn off heat and serve.

Note: This recipe is only slightly modified (I’ve reduced the onions) from the original. The only change I occasionally make is to add some red pepper flakes if you like a little bit of heat.

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Second Trimester: 27 Weeks

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The first pic Ben took of me lead me to say, “Ugh! I look so fat in this! Take another one!” As he was snapping this one he said, “I’ll take as many pictures as you want, but you’re not getting any skinnier.” Haha! Such is the life of a pregnant woman. (Rest assured that his comment made me laugh and I don’t think he’s a monster…just for the record). 

Somehow I’m already 27 weeks which means that, come Saturday, I will officially be in the third trimester! Super crazy! Here’s how Trimester Two went:

Belly? I mentioned it last time, but I seriously feel super huge this time around (which I think is directly related to my lack of belly pics this trimester). On instagram I see pics of friends/family who are due in only a couple of weeks and I think, “I’m the same size as them!” May or may not be true, but that’s how I’ve been feeling. Although lately I feel like my number of weeks is catching up with my belly size (in other words, I don’t feel quite AS huge). I stopped looking at the scale when we go to the doctor, and the doctor says that I’m totally within the normal range for weight gain. So really there’s nothing for me to be worrying about.

Exercise? The start of this trimester came with a vengeance on my running and I wondered if I was going to have to stop pretty early (I just had a lot of pelvic pain). So I slowed it down, walked when I needed and the pain went away after several weeks. So I’m still running (which is really more of a waddle/jog) most days, but it’s rare that I do more than 2 miles. If I don’t run, it’s simply because Ben can’t watch Wendy, and so I’ll just do a YouTube workout video. I’ve been doing videos from BodyFit by Amy (I really like her). She has pregnancy specific workouts, and I’m happy to say that I’m still sticking with her regular (not prenatal) workouts and feeling good (although I moderate some moves occasionally). And we go for walks. We always go for walks.

Cravings/Food Aversions? So glad that food aversions haven’t been a thing this time around! Food is food is food. I’m eating, craving, and avoiding things as per normal.

Not-so-Awesomeness:

  • I feel like the whole “feeling pregnant” thing has come so much earlier than with Wendy. Last time it came on during like the last four weeks of pregnancy. But right around the time I started having the pelvic pain, I also just felt totally drained, exhausted and like I could only move around by waddling! Luckily, all of that was a phase, and I have felt more energetic and “normal” the past little bit (although, some days I still have to resort to waddling-one of the many attractive sides of pregnancy;).
  • Only within the last week or so I’ve started to have those aches come on from sleeping. I’m sure everyone feels it differently, but I get these huge aches in my hips when I wake up in the morning that only getting out of bed will cure. I need to pull out the pregnancy pillow I made (but it’s stored in Wendy’s room and I only ever think about getting it out when Wendy’s already fast asleep) because that really helps so much.
  • Do you guys all get sick of hearing how much gas I have when I’m pregnant? Because I definitely get sick of it.
  • When Ben felt Wendy move for the first time, she delivered a powerful kick right to his hand so he couldn’t deny she was in there. This baby, however, has been moving plenty but she’s quick to retreat any time a hand is pressed to the belly. Which means that Ben still hasn’t felt her move. Sad! But she’ll run out of places to hide here pretty soon…
  • I had to take that darn gestational diabetes test. Blech! All I remember from before is that the drink isn’t as gross as everyone makes it out to be (not that it’d ever be my bev of choice). But I did forget about how gross it makes me feel! Ugh! I feel like half of my day consisted of feeling junky because of that stupid drink.

Awesomeness:

  • As mentioned above, I’ve been feeling this baby move which is honestly one of my favorite parts of being pregnant. It’s funny to me how her movements have been so different than Wendy’s-I feel this baby so much lower! But the doctor said she’s currently breech (i.e. constantly kicking my bladder) which explains why I often have to pee every 30 minutes…
  • I mentioned before, but we found out this baby is a GIRL! Again, I was so surprised but we are so excited! I know personally that sisters are the best, so I’m so grateful that Wendy will have a little sister to play with! Ben only has sisters so he’s very comfortable with girls. And having another little girl means that we already have everything we need-no need to get a new wardrobe!
  • We’ve had two ultrasounds this trimester which means we’ve been able to see baby girl 3 times already. We had the gender reveal after Thanksgiving and then I had another ultrasound just this Monday (they just wanted a better look at a couple of things they weren’t able to see very well in the last ultrasound) so I got to see her again. She was measuring about 2 1/2 pounds. It’s amazing to me that she’s so tiny but so well developed.
  • This pregnancy has just been flying by. I really can hardly wrap my brain around the fact that I’m almost to the third trimester. I think the first time being pregnant was such a novelty that it was always on my mind. This time around I have literally been forgetting which week I’m on because I just haven’t been keeping track and because, whether I’m feeling great or not, I’ve got a babe I need to take care of. In any case, I’m grateful for the distractions because things seem to be moving along quickly and I can’t complain about that!
  • Oh! I should just mention to everyone that being pregnant during Thanksgiving (but not in the first trimester, because that would be the worst) was the BEST. It’s already my favorite holiday, but pair that with the whole perma-stretchy pants status and the ever constant hunger, and you have got yourself one of the best days imaginable. It. Was. Great.  Plan your next pregnancy accordingly 😉

December in Review

Sorry, guys, about the hiatus in posting! It seems like I’m most consistent with posting when Ben is in school…but when he has breaks, I just can’t be trusted to post regularly! In any case, here’s how our December went:

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Good

  • Ben presented/defended his thesis at the beginning of the month which means that he is officially DONE with his thesis. He’s put so much work into it and I’m so excited that he doesn’t have to worry about it during his final semester of classes.
  • We try to take advantage of Ben’s breaks by visiting family, and after classes got out around the middle of the month, we boogied up to Idaho and then Utah to spend time with family. I’m always grateful for the people we’re able to see on these trips and the time we can spend with family/friends. Obviously, we were able to celebrate Christmas and New Years with some of our favorite peeps! I love the holidays and I love that some of my favorite traditions have become some of Ben’s favorites too.
  • My dad’s family has, for a few years now, done a big cousin game night a couple times every year. We’ve actually never been able to attend, BUT we took a page out of their book and planned a game night for Ben’s family while we were in town. We kept it pretty low-key and just did a handful of minute-to-win-it games but it was a total hit! I think everyone had a great time!
  • Speaking of, Wendy got some much appreciated cousin time on this trip! Ben’s sisters have older kids and all of them just smother Wendy with so much love and snuggles! It seriously warmed my heart a billion times over to see even the cool, older boy cousins get in on the Wendy love. And my side of the family has lots of kiddos (who am I kidding, they’re all girls:) around Wendy’s age which is also fun (and highly amusing) to watch them all interact. They are all a little bit naughty and sassy and hilarious!
  • In Idaho, we went for a quick visit to Grandma Brown and she was able to show us a ton of stuff from Ben’s dad’s mission in Italy. We looked at pictures, read letters and even held the nametag he wore! It was so cool and it made me want to go back when we have more time to read/see more.

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Blah

  • Man, ’tis the season, but Wendy, Ben and I all got hit with a stomach bug before Christmas. Bleh. Luckily, it was short lived. Unfortunately, I’m sure we passed it on to others. Ben and I also got hit with some pretty epic colds.
  • I feel like sometimes little stressors just pile up into a mountain of anxiety. There was the sickness going around, plus Wendy had some rough nights, plus traveling is stressful in and of itself, plus, plus, plus. Basically, when we headed home, I was ready to be home (don’t be offended, family! Let’s just blame the pregnancy!).
  • Just because of weirdo circumstances, Ben knew every stinking thing he was getting for Christmas. He had zero surprises.  So, so lame, but at least he was excited about everything anyway.
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We did slippers instead of pajamas this year!

On My Brain

  • I have been thinking so much about Christmas and what I want Christmas to be for my little family. Gosh, I feel like I have so many thoughts about this, I’m sorry if this ends up being a huge bullet point. BUT, CHRISTMAS, right? Anyway, now that I’m a parent, I’m realizing just how huge Christmas is and how my parents busted their butts every year to make Christmastime extra special (and they didn’t even have Amazon!) but also extra meaningful. I felt like this year was probably my last year of being non-commital to certain aspects of the holiday, specifically Santa. Honestly, the Santa role is one that wasn’t even on my mind until I read an article asking people to talk about the role they had Santa play in their homes. It was surprising to see how strong opinions can get surrounding that tradition. And it definitely made me wonder where Ben and I will stand in the coming years. The holidays also made me consider what other traditions we want to start, which ones we want to keep, and which ones we’re okay with tossing. Also, why do I only think of the best gift ideas AFTER Christmas?
  • I used to be super good at setting goals (and decently okay at keeping most) but for the last two New Years, I’ve been so “Eh, whatever” about goal-setting. I mean, I definitely think self-improvement is important, but there’s something about being a mom that makes me think less about the entire year and more about the day to day. Maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe I’m just lazy. In any case, I have made a few small goals and becoming a better wife and mom are always top of my list (and almost never actually happening. If that’s not a successful New Year Resolution, I don’t know what is;).
  • In just a couple of weeks, Ben will be getting into his final semester of his Masters program, which just absolutely blows my mind. It also totally blows my mind that here we are again-sitting in a place where there’s an end but not a clue as to what is beyond that. So much is contingent on Ben being accepted…BUT we are hopeful and we do know that everything will work out somehow. Anyhow. One semester. Crazy.

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Five Things Friday: Pregnancy Gift Guide

Since I’m currently pregnant, I decided it was totally appropriate of me to put together a list of gift ideas specifically for pregnant women. Now, pregnant women are still women! I’m sure they’d still like to get regular people stuff too! But sometimes it’s nice to cater to pregnancy since pregnancy can be rather uncomfortable at times.

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Items Under $20

  • Belly Butter: I’ve never actually used this stuff because it costs money and it’s no guarantee…but if somebody bought it for me I’d be slathering that stuff on every day. Even if a woman already has stretch marks (ahem, like me), it’s nice to have something to rub on your belly because that stretching skin can get quite uncomfortable (and sometimes itchy). There are a billion brands out there, so go with your gut. I’m currently using coconut oil and Vitamin E oil. And my sister used Rosehip Seed oil every day and has never gotten stretch marks (I hope I didn’t just jinx you…).
  • Magazine Subscription: At first I was thinking mom-ish magazines (like Parents or Family Circle) but then I realized that with all the hanging out time a new mom has (babies eat a lot), any magazine would be a welcome change to those around-the-clock feedings. So just choose one that your girl would be into, whether that’s a food magazine or Vogue.
  • Massage Oil or Cream: I know this seems the same as the Belly Butter but it’s not. The oil is more for soothing rather than helping with stretch marks. And any bit of relief from aches and pains can be so helpful.
  • Snacks: With how hungry I’ve been, I don’t think I’d turn my nose up at anything lately! Ha! So buy two of your favorite snack and give one to your pregnant bestie (obviously keep the other one for yourself). Sweet treats are usually what come to my mind first, but there are tons of healthy snacks available too. Think Babybel cheeses with some crackers, a bag of Cuties, Veggie Straws or some popcorn (BoomChickaPop is my personal fave).
  • Comfy Anything: Ha! I know, so specific! But really, getting comfortable is an everyday struggle. So pick up some comfy socks or slippers, a nice plush robe or something maternity specific and you are good to go. I feel like comfy pants are my current struggle, but just yesterday I put on a pair of leggings (similar found here-they are NOT maternity leggings-just one size fits all) and they were SO comfortable! I know of a store downtown here that sells something similar and I’ve got plans to go pick up a couple more pairs (the fact that they aren’t labeled maternity makes them cheap too!).

 

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Items Over $20

  • Pregnancy Pillow: I’d always thought pregnancy pillows were super expensive until I actually used one. Now I see the $60 price tag and I think, “What a bargain!” Because, seriously, a pregnancy pillow can change a pregnant lady’s life.
  • Comfortable Shoes: With my back hurting this time around, a pair of comfortable shoes has been key to minimizing the pain. I think there are tons of options out there but my current favorite has been my pair of Nike Frees. Truthfully, Nike has never been my go-to workout shoe (and I wouldn’t use them for running). But I was given a pair a couple of years ago and it was only recently that I started wearing them whenever we go out walking. And they’re so comfortable that the end of the day will come and I’ll realize I never took them off, I love them so.
  • Clothes/Gift Card: How grateful am I (please, how grateful is everyone) that baggy, ugly maternity clothes are a thing of the past! And now there are all sorts of boutiques that deal solely in maternity clothes. Craziness! I think any pregnant lady would love a gift card to one of these places (I personally want everything at Pink Blush). But if you think you know your friend’s style, I don’t think you’d go wrong just picking out something you know she’d love, especially if it’s seasonal, like this cute maternity sweater (at least, I think it’s cute:). If it’s a first pregnancy, or your friend is just really good at documenting her pregnancy, this countdown shirt is another cute, fun option for gifting.
  • Personalized Beauty Box: So I wouldn’t be the best person to give this gift, but I would be so excited to get this box from anyone who knows more about beauty products than I do (which is exactly everyone:). Just fill a box or basket with a handful of your faves (whether it’s nail polish, face wash, lipstick…whatever!). My makeup routine has always been pretty minimal, but when I’m pregnant I become a lot more thorough. There’s just something about taking extra time on the things I CAN control since so much of my appearance these days are things I can’t control.
  • Downtime Activities: Being pregnant doesn’t take away the fact that I still have lots to get done in the day. However, I need times to just SIT and relax. So start thinking of your favorite things that promote sitting and relaxing and you’ve got a gift that’s guaranteed to be a hit with your preggo pal. Some ideas to get your gears turning: *An adult coloring book with colored pencils *Your favorite “fluff” book along with a mug and some hot cocoa mix or a tumbler and ingredients for Dirty Diet Coke (if she’s drinking caffeine; some True Lemon packets if she’s not) *a movie and some popcorn *Gift Card to a favorite restaurant so she doesn’t have to cook