Friday, May 31, 2013

The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge - Week #22

Welcome to Week #22 of The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge.  This week we save twenty-two dollars, which gives us a total saved to date of two hundred fifty-three dollars.

Wow, our savings is really starting to add up!  I am so proud of everyone doing the challenge! Here is a quote I wanted to share from Ben Franklin:  There are three faithful friends - an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.

For weekly challenge updates, subscribe to this blog via blogger, google, or email.  If you prefer, follow me on Pinterest or Facebook.  Check out the icon buttons in the right-hand column of this page.  If you're new to the challenge, welcome aboard.  You can start with twenty-two dollars and add a little extra each week if you want to catch up with us.  Alternatively, you could begin this week as Week #1 with one dollar.  Whatever works best for you is fine.  For a free printable chart, check out Stuck At Home Mom's 52 Week Money Challenge.  Happy saving!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge - Week #21


Welcome to Week #21 of The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge.  This week we save twenty-one dollars.  The total saved to date is two hundred thirty-one dollars.

FYI, for those of you that are following the challenge, the next post is less than a week away.  Thank you for your patience!  

For weekly challenge updates, subscribe to this blog via blogger, google, or email.  If you prefer, follow me on Pinterest or Facebook.  Check out the icon buttons in the right-hand column of this page.  If you're new to the challenge, welcome aboard.  You can start with twenty-one dollars and add a little extra each week if you want to catch up with us.  Alternatively, you could begin this week as Week #1 with one dollar.  Whatever works best for you is fine.  For a free printable chart, check out Stuck At Home Mom's 52 Week Money Challenge.  Happy saving!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge - Week #20

Welcome to Week #20 of the 52 Week Money Saving Challenge.  This week we save twenty dollars.  Our total saved to date is currently two hundred and ten dollars.

What a week we have had in Texas.  Literally, a tornado went RIGHT over our house (without touching down on us) Wednesday night.  We heard it, felt the pressure change, and huddled together in the laundry room until it passed.  The power has been off for nearly 48 hours.  FYI, more tornadoes are spawned in our county than any other county in Texas.  But, we are very blessed.  Family and friends are safe.  Early this morning, I took a very cold and super-fast shower before sunrise in the semi-darkness.  Brought the blow dryer to work, re-wet the hair, blew it dry, and marveled at the events of the week.  Let me say it again.  We are truly blessed.  Having no electricity in a total-electric home is a bit like camping out, but with a much softer bed.  On top of all that, we love grilling.  Hot dogs that we had for supper tasted almost as good as the ones you make on a camp out.

/ CBS News/Google Maps

I'm not sharing such personal information to get y'all to feel sorry for us.  We don't need any sympathy or assistance, but our neighbors in Granbury got hit pretty hard.  Look at the photo.  It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you want to help, you can make a $10 donation to Red Cross by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. The area called DeCordova near Granbury, Texas, was devastated.  Habitat for Humanity had worked hard to build that place up.  Over 50 of the 61 homes built by Habitat were destroyed.  If you are unable to  donate but want to help, please pray for them.  They need all the prayers they can get.

For weekly challenge updates, subscribe to this blog via blogger, google, or email.  If you prefer, follow me on Pinterest or Facebook.  Check out the icon buttons in the right-hand column of this page.  If you're new to the challenge, welcome aboard.  You can start this week with twenty dollars and add a little extra to the challenge amount each week until you catch up with us, or  simply begin this week as Week #1.  Whatever works best for you is fine.  For a free printable chart, check out Stuck At Home Mom's 52 Week Money Challenge.  Happy saving!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dish Towel Tutorial - May Edition: Ribbon and Ruffles - 12 Months of Pretty Kitchen Towels

Recently I updated my kitchen by making some lovely new Kitchen Curtains.  They look so pretty!  In fact, they are much too attractive to be seen with our sad old mismatched collection of dish towels.  So, I made some fresh new kitchen towels to coordinate with the new curtains.   The desire was to have decorative towels that were inexpensive to make, so I chose muslin instead of the blank flour sack towels that were available.  Muslin is not as absorbent as flour sack towels, but it is so much more affordable! JoAnn's has lovely 44" width muslin fabric in bleached (white) and unbleached (natural) shades.  I got two yards of bleached muslin and two yards of unbleached muslin.  This is enough fabric to make a dozen dish towels.

I will be posting one new kitchen towel each month for the next 12 months.  Since we're already well into May, let's start with the May edition. The design for May is very simple.  This unbleached muslin kitchen towel is trimmed with red grosgrain ribbon, machine embroidery, and a blue broadcloth ruffle at the bottom.  PUMPKIN says it's too pretty to be a kitchen towel.  She thinks it looks more like a curtain.  It matches my Kitchen Curtains quite nicely.


Want to make some for yourself? I'm sharing the tutorial for this one.  It is very simple.


2/3 yard of 44" width muslin
Measuring tape
Sewing Machine


Step 1

Wash, dry, and iron muslin fabric.  (Trust me, it shrinks!)

NOTE:  Step 2 is for people making more than two dish towels.  If you are making only two towels, skip Step 2 and go to Step 3.

Step 2

Rip fabric horizontally at 23" intervals from selvage to selvage.  New to Ripping Cotton?  It is easy and fun.  Click on the link for a brief tutorial.

2/3 yard = 2 dish towels

1 and 1/3 yard = 4 dish towels

2 yards = 6 dish towels

NOTE: My muslin was 44" wide and 72" long before laundering.  After being machine washed and dried, it shrunk to 69" x 43". If a miracle happens and you have NO shrinkage after the muslin is machine washed and dried, you should rip fabric at 24" intervals.

NOTE:  Now you will have 2 or 3 pieces of fabric that are approximately 23" inches wide and 43" long.

Step 3

 Fold fabric once across the center so that it is half as long as it was before folding.  With an iron, press the fold, making a crease directly on the center of the fabric. This is your cutting guideline.

Step 4

Make one cut all the way down the crease.  Now you will have equal sections of muslin that are (approximately) 22" x 23".  If you're making two dish towels, you now have two equal pieces of fabric that are the correct size for dish towels. If you are making more than two dish towels, repeat Step 4 for each strip of fabric.

Step 5

Serge all the way around four edges of the fabric (or machine stitch close to the edges all the way around the fabric.  Use your stitches as a pressing line, and press under all the way around the fabric.)

Step 6

Press under machine serged edges just enough to make a narrow hem as shown. If you are using a traditional sewing machine, you've already straight stitched and pressed in Step 5.  Fold under once more the same width as before and press.

Step 7

Clip corners.

Step 8

With traditional sewing machine, straight stitch through the center of the fold, going all the way around the four sides to create your hem.

NOTE: Repeat these steps for each dish towel you make up to this point.  Experienced sewers may want to skip hemming until it is time to attach trim and do embroidery. Starting with Step 9, we are just adding embellishments.  You can trim your towels any way you wish.  If you'd like to know how I trimmed this one, read on!

 Step 9

Pin grosgrain ribbon along the hem on top edge as shown in the photo.

Step 10 

Machine stitch the edge of the ribbon nearest the edge of the towel.

NOTE:  I waited until I pinned on the ribbon to hem this edge.


Step 11

Machine stitch straight down the other edge of the ribbon.

Step 12

Machine stitch ribbon vertically near left and right edge of towel and clip the end of the ribbon off close to edge.

Step 13

Pin ruffle to bottom edge of towel, right sides together, and serge (or machine stitch with 1/4 seam allowance).

Step 14

Machine (or hand) embroider left and right edges.  For this towel, the left and right sides have identical embroidery.  I added the word "MAY" with some fanciful flower stitches using gold thread.  Have fun with it!

I hope you enjoy making some fun and fanciful new kitchen towels.  If you follow this tutorial and make your own new towels, please share some photos of them with me.  I might be able to include some in an upcoming post.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge - Week #19

Welcome to Week #19 of The 52 Week Money Saving Challenge.  This week we save nineteen dollars.  Our total saved now stands at one hundred ninety dollars. 


How are you doing with the challenge?  Is everyone saving the exact same amount?  Anyone putting away a little bit more here and there?  What can nineteen dollars buy today?  Oh, well lets see.  How about: eighteen items at the dollar store, a big jug of liquid Tide laundry detergent, a few packs of diapers and wipes, a pair of jeans from Walmart, dinner for two at Denny's,  a tube of eye cream, five gallons of gas, or movie tickets and popcorn.  

But what about Mother's Day?  Save your nineteen dollars and make something for your Mom.  She'll be proud of you!  Allow me to make a DIY Mother's Day gift suggestion. Actually, I have twenty-five suggestions that are all very low cost or free to make.  Check out my Mother's Day Gift Tutorials - 25 Quick Easy Affordable Last Minute Suggestions for Gifts Mom Will Adore

Here are a few of the photos from that post that are practically FREE to make and give:

Flower Box Vase (Kleenex box+newspaper!)

Framed Sentiment(free printable+dollar store frame)

101 Reasons Why I Love You Mom! Jar

Painted Flower Pot (upcycled painted metal can + petunias)

Book Page Jar Light

FYI, I'm fifty-something with grown children and grandchildren.  I personally chose all these gift tutorials for Mother's Day because almost any mom or grandmother I know would love at least one of them.  Especially if it was hand made by YOU.

For weekly challenge updates, subscribe to this blog via blogger, google, or email.  If you prefer, follow me on Pinterest or Facebook.  Check out the icon buttons in the right-hand column of this page.  If you're new to the challenge, welcome aboard.  You can start with nineteen dollars this week and add a bit extra weekly to catch up with us, or simply begin this week as Week #1 with one dollar.  Whatever works best for you is fine.  For a free printable chart, check out Stuck At Home Mom's 52 Week Money Challenge.  Happy saving!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mother's Day Dress Up - Matching Clothes for Mom and the Kids

Do you ever think about Mother's Day when you were a child?  Did you make some precious Mother's Day memories?  I wanted to share a special memory I have with my own Mother and something special that happened almost 50 years ago for Mother's Day.

My Mom didn't sew.  She knew how to sew but it just was not something she enjoyed.  She said it was because her own Mom (my Grandmother whom I called NANNY) sewed all her clothes as a kid growing up.  By the time she was in her teens, Mom just wanted store-bought clothes. Can you imagine that?  I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
I don't remember the exact year. During the early spring of either 1964 or 1965 Mom decided that she and I should have matching dresses for Mother's Day.  Fabric and patterns in hand, she took me to a local dressmaker.  The dressmaker got our measurements and made us some lovely, matching dresses in spring pastel colors.  That is what we wore to church for Mother's Day that year.  I remember that I really loved wearing a dress that matched my Mom.

How does all that fit into this post?  Well, when I was sewing the Nursery Rhyme Dress for my granddaughter TINKERBELL, her brother GERONIMO wanted me to make him something too.  After all, his birthday was approaching.  I found some cute guitar print fabric and some light beige twill and decided to make him a shirt and shorts set.  I had plenty of patterns at home already.  The patterns also had smaller sizes for infants, so I made his little brother a matching set.  The post is here: Free Pattern for Baby Shorts and Pants - Matching Sets for Brothers.

After I finished the boy's matching outfits, I ran across the CUTEST fabric.  For those of you that sew, you know the feeling.  I looked at it.  The wheels started turning.  I thought to myself, "Hey, that kinda sorta has some of the same colors in TINKERBELL's Nursery Rhyme Dress and in GERONIMO's Guitar Print Shirt and twill shorts."  Then I thought to myself, "No way, it won't match."  Then I showed HUBBY.  He has a very good sense of color and style.  He verified that it actually didn't clash and he thought it would coordinate well.

Some old memories are buried deep in the back of your mind.  You don't actually dwell on them, yet they are there.  Some are even more present in your mind than you realize, right?  Well, that is the evolution of the San Antonio Stroll Skirt Tutorial.  


I don't think I realized it until I started trying to coordinate the fabrics.  Maybe it was even after I bought the bright pink, marigold, off-white, red, spring green,  turquoise, and black print that it happened.  Somewhere, somehow, that sweet and precious memory of Mom and I wearing our matching dresses to church on Mother's Day surfaced.  I knew then I had to include elements of all the fabrics used on the kids clothes to finish the San Antonio Stroll Skirt so that my daughter and her children would have matching outfits for Mother's Day just like my own Mom and I had so many years ago.

In a perfect world, I'd show you all of them in their matching outfits together.  In the real world, the boys wore their outfits to the zoo on Saturday when we celebrated GERONIMO's birthday.  TINKERBELL didn't want to wear her dress till Sunday when she saw her Mommy put on her own new skirt.

Hence, the photos on Saturday have the boys together in matching outfits.  The photos on Sunday have Mommy and daughter together in matching outfits.  I had so much fun making these clothes for my family and taking the photographs.

Dressing to match Mom for Mother's Day was a wonderful memory for me.   Why not make your own matching outfits?  It is a lot of fun!

FYI:  My kids were all in band from sixth grade until high school graduation.  When PEPSI was drum major, I was band booster president.  The waistband and top tier of the skirt is made from my old band booster shirt.

The balloons in the photos are GERONIMO's Happy Birthday balloons. 


Thanks for letting me share with you.  God bless and have a Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The San Antonio Stroll Skirt Tutorial

I'm so happy to present my sewing creation, the San Antonio Stroll Skirt.  It has been so much fun to design and construct.  I made this one for my daughter, PEPSI.

She is a busy momma with three little children at home.  The San Antonio Stroll Skirt is feminine, comfy, and easy to wear and care for. 

The skirt is made in three tiers.  The top tier fits snugly and is constructed using a durable single knit fabric with an elastic waist.

My dear friend BINGO first taught me the formula for creating tiered, ruffled skirts.  I'll share the basic formula she taught me in another post, because this one is a bit different.  


Knit Polo Shirt (used) To make this skirt, you'll need an old (but still nice) knit polo shirt.  You could use a tee shirt if needed.  The important thing is quality.  This old Band Booster shirt has not been heavily worn, and it is made from a very nice, sturdy, soft single knit fabric.  As I said earlier, the top tier, including elastic waistband, is made from this shirt.

Quilted Cotton Print Fabrics - The middle and bottom tiers are made from coordinated cotton prints that are commonly referred to as quilting cotton.



Measuring Tape

1/2" or 3/4" Elastic


A. Waistband and Top Tier

1. Measure the circumference of the waist as shown in the drawing.

2. Measure vertically from the top of the point where the waistband will be down to a point just above the hip line.

3. Measure vertically from the top of waistband to the center of the calf or shin. 

NOTE:  At the end of these measurement steps, I'll be showing you the measurements of this skirt as an example. Your own measurements may be different.

NOTE: For this skirt, the waistband circumference measurement is 30". The waistband to hip measurement is 5".   The overall length of the skirt (waistband to mid-calf measurement) is 25". The waistband fits nicely between the navel and the upper hip bone.  It is in the same location as the waistband of the shorts in this drawing.

4. Add about an extra 2" length to the Waistband to hip measurement. You need enough extra length for the elastic waistband casing at the top and the seam allowance at the bottom. Cut your knit polo shirt as shown in the photo. 

NOTE:  For this skirt:  5" measurement + 2" extra = 7" total length needed.  The shirt is cut 7" from the bottom of the hem.

5. Measure width of shirt at bottom hem and multiply by 2.  

For this shirt, the width was about 17" x 2 = 34" total circumference.  

6. Deduct your waistline measurement (from #1 above) from the shirt circumference measurement (#5 above). 

For this shirt, 34" shirt circumference measurement - 30" waistline circumference measurement = 4".

This means we need to reduce the circumference of the piece we cut from the bottom of the shirt by 4".

7. Divide the total found in #6 by 2.

For this shirt, 4" divided by 2 = 2".

8. Turn the piece inside out and lay it flat.  Measure the number of inches (#) from one edge of the shirt and pin all the way down the side, top to bottom.

For this shirt, we pin 2" from one edge, top (hem) to bottom (cut edge).

9. Machine sew or serge along pinned edge. 

Now your shirt circumference should match your waist measurement.

10. Fold under hem of shirt approximately one inch, pin, and press.  

11.  Machine sew along edge of hem to create elastic casing.  Be sure to leave 2" or 3" inches open for insertion of elastic.

12. Wrap elastic around your waist.  You'll need less elastic than the circumference of your waist.  The waistband should be tight enough to stay up, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable.  Tighten it until you feel it is the right fit and mark the length of the elastic.  Most likely it will be 2" or 3" less than the actual waistline measurement. Cut elastic to length needed.

13. Insert elastic into casing.  If you like, pin a safety pin to one end of the elastic and use it to guide the elastic through the casing.  Once it is inserted, check to see if it is twisted up. Untwist if needed and machine stitch the two ends of the elastic together.  Be careful not to stitch the skirt when doing this.

14. Once elastic is stitched together, finish sewing up the 2" or 3" previously left open in the casing.

15. Put aside this piece (top tier and waistband) for now.

B. Middle Tier 

The middle tier is made from pieces of your coordinating quilted fabric sewn together.  

1. Take each coordinating fabric and rip the cut edges to get uniform length of top and bottom.  Please refer to Ripping Cotton Tutorial if needed. 

2. When the cut edges are ripped and even, rip a 7" strip across each one, selvage to selvage.  Now decide how you want it to fit together to form the middle tier.  I suggest simple rectangles of differing sizes.  

NOTE: For this skirt, there are 5 coordinating fabrics in the center tier.  The guitar print and the sewing machine/flower print are the boldest fabrics.  The other prints are pink gingham, pink mother goose print, and a creamy solid cotton twill.  For proper balance and symmetry, a small section of the cream colored cotton was pieced between each long rectangle of print fabric. The order is:  guitar print, cream, sewing machine/flower print, cream, nursery rhyme print, cream, pink gingham, cream, and then it starts over with guitar print, etc.  You certainly don't need 5 coordinating prints, but you can use that many if you like.  I suggest at least 3 coordinating prints.


3. Fold each strip into half, and then fold in half again.  Cut strips along folds.  Now you will have 4 pieces of each strip of fabric.  The total number of sections will vary. If you are using 3 coordinating prints, you'll have 12 pieces of fabric total, That is 4 per print x 3 coordinating prints = 12 total.

4. Now pin each piece together to form the layout you have chosen.  Pin the first two and serge or machine stitch together.

NOTE: Use as small of a seam allowance as possible so as not to waste your pretty fabric.  There will be a lot of seams here.

5. Pin the next one to the end of the two you've stitched together and serge or machine stitch.

6. Repeat this process until the middle tier is approximately 110" in length.  A little more or a little less is okay.

NOTE:  Some fabrics have a definite "THIS WAY UP" print such as the guitar print, the sewing machine/flower print, and the nursery rhyme print.  For others, such as the solid color cream and the gingham print, it doesn't really matter.  Make sure you don't sew your "THIS WAY UP" prints together upside down or some up and others down.

7.  Serge (or zig zag stitch or straight stitch and trim with pinking shears) all the way down the top and bottom of the middle tier. If you zig zag stitch, make sure you trim the tier to make it even all the way down if needed.  I got in a bit of a hurry with mine.  Luckily the serger trims it perfectly even as it stitches.


8. Now iron your beautiful center tier.

9. To create your ruffle, machine baste two rows along the top of your middle tier.

10. Fold the tier in half and place a straight pin to mark the center of the middle tier.  Fold end of tier to center pin and place a pin to mark midway points halfway between center and edges on the left and right side of center pin.

Center tier during ruffling process

C. Attach the top tier with waistband to the middle tier 

1. Take the top tier with waistband and place a pin in the 12:00, 3:00, and 9:00 positions on the elastic casing.  Place another identical set of pins along the cut edge directly below the first set of pins at the same clock positions.  The seam is in the 6:00 position, so you won't need a pin there.

2. Locate the center pin of middle tier. Match center pin at bottom of top tier to center pin at top of middle tier and pin, right sides together.  Match 3:00 pin of top tier to midpoint pin of middle tier and pin, right sides together.  Repeat with 9:00 pin of top tier and remaining midpoint pin of middle tier.


3. Take one end of top of loose basting threads. Pull gently and evenly, stopping to redistribute gathers of ruffle as needed.  

NOTE:  DO NOT do what I did and break your basting thread, or you may have to repair a section of your ruffle.  If you do have a broken thread and don't know how to fix it without starting over, quickly refer to Ruffle Repair 101 - Quick Fix For Broken Basting Thread

Ruffle Repair 101

4. After ruffle is evenly gathered, finish pinning top tier to middle tier and machine stitch together.

NOTE:  Use about 1/2" seam allowance for stitching tiers together.  Before stitching, sew the two loose ends of the ruffle together.

D. Bottom Tier

1. Along your previously ripped edge of the fabric you're using for the bottom tier, measure an additional 14" from the top and rip.  Repeat three more times.  You now have four 14" lengths of fabric to form the bottom tier.

NOTE:  The bottom tier is made from the same fabric all the way around.  

2. Pin the short edges of four of the tiers and serge or machine stitch together.

3. See Section B above and repeat step B number 7 to edge finish bottom tier.

4. Iron your beautiful bottom tier.

5. Machine baste two or three rows along top edge of bottom tier.  Refer to Section B number 9 if needed.

6. Find center and midway points of bottom tier and pin.Refer to Section B number 10 above if needed.

E. Attach middle tier to bottom tier

1. On the middle tier, locate and pin the same clock positions as shown above in Section C number 1 on the bottom edge.

2. Match those pins to the bottom tier center and midway point pins and pin.  Refer to Section C number 2 if needed.

3. Gently gather your bottom tier ruffle.  Refer to Section C number 3 if needed.

4. After ruffle is evenly gathered, finish pinning middle tier to bottom tier.

5. Sew two loose ends of ruffle together.

6. Machine stitch middle tier to bottom tier.

F. Finish the skirt

1. Press bottom of bottom tier under about 1/2", pin, and machine stitch to form the skirt hem.

2. Hand stitch an accent color grosgrain ribbon bow between the top tier and the center tier at the front, but not exactly in the center:)

If you read a few recent tutorials posted, you may recognize some of the fabric used to create the middle tier.  This is actually a Mother's Day version of the San Antonio Stroll Skirt.  The fabrics used to create the Girls Nursery Rhyme Dress and the Matching Guitar Print Shirts and Free Baby Shorts/Pants Pattern are incorporated into the middle tier.  Why?  So they could all have matching outfits for Mother's Day!  I included photos of each together in Mother's Day Dress Up - Matching Outfits for Mom and the Kids.

Brother's matching shorts and shirts, Nursery Rhyme Dress, and San Antonio Stroll Skirt fabric

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