Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Youtube famous & other funny things kids say

popular on youtube shannonsews
The kids at school in our after-school program make me laugh every day, but lately have been even funnier than usual. Sometimes I wish I had a secret recording device on so I could remember every silly thing they say. But alas, my memory will have to suffice.

Youtube Famous

A few days ago one of the kids was telling me she made videos and posted them on youtube. I told her I did too. So of course, the kids were dying to see one of my videos.

I pulled up the one where I used Crayola Markers to make DIY watercolor paints. I don't show my face in the video, but it shows my hands as I paint the card. One of them noticed the ring I was wearing in the video, and then grabbed my hand and screamed when she recognized it was the same ring. They jumped up and down yelling, "Oh my gosh! You're Youtube famous!"


Two of my favorite 3rd grade girls talk a lot about popularity. They even dreamed up a popularity rating scale, called CCP, which stands for Cool, Cute and Popular.

A few days ago, one of the girls told me her friends call her the Popularity Scientist because she knows the tricks of helping people move up their ranking. For example, she said about herself and her friend, "In kindergarten we were both CCP, but last year they thought we were nerds, now she's a 3 and I'm a 6."

Me: You both are cool and cute so I don't understand why you think you're a 3 and a 6.
Her: No offense, but adults always say that.
Me: In 3rd grade I don't remember worrying about things like that.
Her: Well, this is modern 3rd grade and you were in 3rd grade...well...
Me: It wasn't that long ago!
Her: [Giggles] Well, I know but...

Me: What makes people popular?
Her: Playing tetherball
Her: Oh, and I got these shoes so I would be more popular [shows me her new shoes].
Me: Do they help you to be popluar?
Her: Totes
Her: You know what that means, right? Totes? Totally?

Meanwhile, a bunch of the kids were running through the field flying a kite.
Me: Don't you want to join them?
Her: No, that's not the way to get popular.

We could seriously have had an all-day conversation about popularity, but I guess since I'm "so old" I don't get it. J


3rd grade boy: How many kids do we have today?
Me: Well, right now we have 51.
Him: Was I the 51th?

Mrs. Sorensen

1st grade boy: Ms Shannon, are you spoken for?
Me: Yes, I'm married.
Him: Then why do we call you Ms Shannon?
Me: Because that's my first name. If you called me by my last name, I would be Mrs. Sorensen.
Him: Oh. I don't like that.

I seriously love these kids! They crack me up every day. I'm so lucky to work with such great kids. They keep each day much more interesting, for sure!

Other posts with the funny things kids say:
Out of the Mouth of Babes 1
Out of the Mouth of Babes 2
Out of the Mouth of Babes 3
Out of the Mouth of Babes 4
Out of the Mouth of Babes 5

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sew your own T-shirt: Stripes for Spring

how to sew your own easy t-shirt
Saturday I made the royal mistake of going clothes shopping.
I really don't enjoy shopping. It takes me hours upon hours to find anything, and 99.999% of the time I walk out of the store empty handed.
As was the case Saturday.

I started wondering, how, out of the thousands of clothes I've tried on in my lifetime, do only about 2% of them fit? And by fit, I mean are acceptable to wear. I have so many "acceptables" in my closet....ho hum.

How do companies come up with patterns that are supposed to fit all shapes and sizes? I don't know who's body they're using, but I'm guessing they don't eat Twinkies.

After all the depressing hoopla, I decided that if I was going to have anything to wear, I'd have to make it myself. And I would make it fit ME, not Millie the Mannequin.


The easiest t-shirt to make, in my opinion, is a style with body and sleeves all in one. They call it Dolman.

t-shirt with dolman sleeves or in-set sleeves

T-Shirt Style

Dolman sleeves are cut as part of the body of the t-shirt. There are no separate sleeves to cut-out and sew in place. And although not as form fitting, dolman style t-shirts are as simple as it gets.

In-set sleeves create a more natural fit but raise the difficulty level, as compared to dolman sleeves. In-set sleeves aren't incredibly difficult, they just require a bit more time, detail and measurement. I'm not a huge fan of sewing in-set sleeves, but maybe that's just me.

T-shirt Fabric

T-shirts are made with knit fabric. Since knit is soft and stretchy, be sure to use a ballpoint needle. It's much less likely to suck down into your machine and won't leave permanent holes in your fabric.

I found this cute royal and light-blue striped soft knit on clearance a while back; perfect for a spring t-shirt.

how to sew a t-shirt with knit fabric

T-shirt Pattern

Make your own t-shirt pattern by tracing a t-shirt
Sew your own t-shirt using an existing shirt for a patternOne of the easiest ways to create your own t-shirt pattern is to use an existing t-shirt as a guide.

Fold your fabric in half; fold your t-shirt in half and lay it down on the fold of your fabric. Make extra room for seam allowances and cut, or trace and then cut.

*Make sure to account for both necklines, which are different cuts for front and back.

Once cut, lay your pieces right sides together, and sew all the way around, except for the neck opening. Hem the bottom edge and sleeves. Some people opt to leave them raw, but since knit can stretch out of place, I usually hem them.

For the neckline, I decided to make it a thicker boat neck shape. Here's a good tutorial on how to sew a classic t-shirt neckline.

sew diy t-shirt completed

I decided to add bands to the sleeves to follow the style of the neckline.

Due to the shape of the dolman sleeves, the bands ended up flaring out a bit. To fix it, I folded the excess fabric over and top stitched, which kept the sleeves nice and round and ended up being a cute detail.

Easy dolman sleeve t-shirt make your own

For this particular t-shirt, I decided to use two pieces for the back because I like the look of a back seam. I didn't line the lines up. Oops. But I'm totally okay with it.

make your own t-shirt for spring

The t-shirt turned out to be a little on the roomy side, my husband called it "loose". I may do a few alterations or just leave it as-is. I'll take loose over tight any day.

Do you have a stash of cute knit calling out for you to make a t-shirt?  Making your own t-shirt is easier than you think. AND best of all? Instead of making it to fit some random percent of the population, you'll make it to fit YOU! J

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Dip Dyed Flour Sack Towels

dip dye towel tutorial or diy
There's just something about Flour Sack Towels. The look and feel takes me back to an earlier era.

My mom and grandma always used this type of light-weight towel for drying dishes after a big family meal.

Now they are my first choice for drying dishes since they are lint free, light-weight and dry quickly. And since they come in white, they are the perfect craft project (paint, fabric or embroidery)!

Where did the idea of using Flour Sacks Towels come from?

More than 80 years ago, during the 1930's and 40's when times were tight due to the Great Depression, our frugal female ancestors transformed the large, plain cotton sacks in which they received their flour, sugar, cornmeal and chicken feed, into clothing, curtains, dish towels, pillow cases and toys.

But these large cotton sacks didn't stay plain for long. Seizing a great marketing opportunity, flour and feed companies began producing cotton sacks with decorative patterns, borders and colored designs. If women liked the pattern on the sack, they'd buy that brand of product, and use the fabric to sew whatever they needed. Those fabulously thrifty women!
Photos from the 1930's show people wearing up-cycled flour sack clothing. 
Flour sacks were used to sew clothing back in the great depression
{photo credit}

But I digress. I'm a sucker for the history, stories and fashion from the 20's, 30's & 40's. Back to the tutorial!

To Dip Dye your White Flour Sack Towel, here's what you'll need:

Dip Dye Tutorial for dying cotton kitchen towels

(*affiliate links included)

Dip Dye supplies

Dip Dye Instructions and Tips

  • Protect your working surface by laying down newspaper.
  • Don't stain your porcelain sink, bathtub, counter top, or linoleum! Use a stainless steel sink or large bucket. Work outside if possible.
  • Have a water supply close by.
  • Read the instructions on the Rit Dye package.
  • I used 3 gallons of hot water in a stainless steel sink with 1 Tbsp detergent (to evenly disperse the dye) & 1 cup salt (helps intensify dye color)
  • Use disposable rubber gloves! Or your hands will be a lovely shade of whatever you're making.
  • First dissolve the dye in 2 cups of hot water in a disposable container (before adding it to the rest of the water, detergent and salt in the sink). I used 1 box blue with 1/2 box green.
  • Wet your towel first, wring it out, and smooth it out before immersing it in the dye
  • Immerse your towel in the dye to the level you want it, swishing it back and forth so there's no distinct line mark.
  • Keep dye off the white part of the towel.
  • To get the color gradient effect, hold your towel in the dye for a shorter amount of time on each section from the top down, as seen in the photo. Start at the top and gradually increase the time each section is immersed in the dye as you go down. (The bottom of the towel was held in the dye much longer than the top.)
  • The longer you immerse your towel in the dye, the darker it will be. *For all-over color, keep your towel immersed for about 30 minutes, stirring often to distribute the color evenly.
  • When ready, lift your towel from the dye and carefully ring out the excess dye.
  • Using hot water 1st, begin rinsing your towel from the dye line down (to keep the top white); then change to cold water and rinse until water runs clear.

Dip Dyed Kitchen Flour Sack Towels

  • Hang your towel to dry OR toss it in the washing machine with detergent, on cold (like I did).
  • Hang or machine dry (I threw mine in the dryer).

And it's ready to use!

It's the same batch of dye, and the same process I used for my Dip Dye T-shirt.
{WATCH} the Dip Dye T-shirt Instructional Video to see how it's done!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Sew Inspirational: Great British Sewing Bee Review

I was introduced to the most fantastic sewing show, The Great British Sewing Bee, from one of my dear reader's blogs, Janlynn- Sew More and I just had to share it with all of you!


A bit similar to shows like Project Runway or Fashion Star, but a little closer to "home", the Great British Sewing Bee features home seamstresses / sewers (hobbyists, grandmothers, mothers, every day men and women), competing with one another to see who sews each project the best. And oh my, if you adore English accents (and maybe I'm also hearing Scottish?) you'll love watching the show just for the conversations!


I've watched Great British Sewing Bee Season 1 Episode 1; Great British Sewing Bee Season 1 Episode 2 on youtube, and so far, projects have included refashioning a neckline, sewing men's trousers, making an A-line skirt, creating pockets, blouses and dresses. I love the fact that the show highlights details and the process of creating through completion, with helpful tips, instead of just showing the idea and end result.


The coolest part about it, for me, is that these are real people you can identify with. Headline: Talented People Make Mistakes. What?! Even these amazing home seamstresses over-think things, overshoot simple projects, choose the wrong fabric, get stressed out, sew things on backwards and have to unpick seams. It helps remind me that to make mistakes is part of the process to success


Watching these every day people rise to the challenge of sewing their first pair of pants, or sewing a custom fit top in just 4 hours, makes me think, "If they can do it, I can do it!" Even the greatest designers started somewhere.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch Great British Sewing Bee Season 1 Episode 3!
Three cheers for handmade!! 

Won't leave you hanging...here's Great British Sewing Bee Season 1 Episode 4 (finale)!

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Nightmares from a tortured soul: the artist within

artistans overcoming fear and doubt
Do you ever have re-occurring dreams? Or nightmares?
I do.

When I was a kid I used to have the same nightmare several times a year, one where someone was chasing me down the street to my house and I couldn't get the front door open (of course).

Then I hit a phase where I would dream I couldn't remember my locker combination from middle school. Much less violent, but stressful, nonetheless.

Then it morphed into dreaming it was time for college finals but I hadn't ever gone to class. Why had I NEVER gone to class?!!! All year long!?! Seriously??

Lately, it has become a repetitious nightmare about somewhere I used to work many years ago. But the twisted part is, I dream that I began working there again, but since starting 4 months prior, hadn't ever done any work. Every day I had arrived thinking, I really should do something, but since I didn't really know how to do it, I just never did a thing. Feeling horribly guilty and afraid that my boss would find out, I contemplated whether to just get started and try to catch up or let the door smack me in the pants on the way out. And for all that is holy, why did I NOT do any work for the entire 4 months I was there?!!!?! Aaaaahhh!!

Ugh. It's an exhausting dream / nightmare.
Had it again last night.

You know how dreams are your mind's way of trying to work through things? I'm guessing this re-occurring nightmare is my brain's way of working through a few of my "issues", thank you very much. We all have them, you know.

That's when this came to mind.

Tortured artist:
A tortured soul with too many ideas, too many big dreams, too many projects, too many thoughts to unscramble and organize, too much reassurance to find, too many doubts to overcome, too many fears to subside, too much possible rejection to avoid, too many what-if's to face and conquer.

I've decided I am a tortured artist.

When I stopped to really think about it, my re-occurring nightmare pointed directly at things I'm struggling with right now, and it's clearly time to take action.

In my quest to meet my goals for 2013, my brain often goes into whirling mode when I think of how to accomplish all that I have set out for this year.

To recap:
ONE  -Grow my Etsy Business
TWO - Bring more of Myself to my Blog
THREE - Get Organized
FOUR - Learn to play the Ukulele
FIVE - Take better care of myself

Here's how my tortured thought process goes, like a mouse through a maze...

Huh hem.
In order to grow my etsy business (#1) I need to think of new ideas, buy more materials, sew more products, sell more products, grow my brand, tweet, facebook, pin, make videos, and blog...which brings me to goal #2, bring more of myself to my blog, write more blog posts, write meaningful tutorials, write personal thoughtful posts, reach out to other readers, share projects on link parties...Screech! 

But if I'm blogging more, how will I have time to sew the things I need to sew and sell the things I need to sell and grow my brand and tweet, facebook, pin and stumble upon?! Maybe I just need to get more organized (#3)...but if I take the time to get organized, when will I have the time to blog, sew, sell, tweet, pin, share...Screech!

Maybe I need more energy, so focus on #5 to take better care of myself, so I should be eating a more plant-based, whole grain diet, so that means I need to plan ahead to have good foods so I don't just grab the bad stuff, so I need to look through healthy recipes, make menus, cook healthy food, grind my own flour...Screech!

But if I'm doing all of that, when do I have time to grow my etsy business, sew more products, sell more products, grow my brand, blog, pin, tweet, post, get organized, forget learning to play the ukulele (#4)...Screech!

and then I explode.

Yes, I have made progress on my goals, but it is clear that my psyche is in need of a tune-up!

I tend to hold back, thus not moving forward if I have too many what-if's, too many unknowns. I doubt myself and end up standing still instead of moving forward. If there is too much to be done, sometimes it stops me from doing anything, instead of taking it one step at a time. If I don't know how to do something, it can sometimes feel overwhelming and impossible to learn. Projects sit on shelves, ideas sit in notebooks, guilt builds, worries mount, and confidence fades. It's like being at a job for 4 months but never doing any work, feeling guilty for it, feeling overwhelmed and afraid you'll be found out. Aha! Mystery solved.

I am re-committing myself to action!
I will be open to the possibilitites.
I will make achievable goals.
I will move forward every day, even if only a few steps at a time.

Whew! Who knew all of that could come from a nightmare. Or dream. I guess it depends on the way you look at it.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

How to Applique a baby bib: two ways

How to Applique TutorialWhen I decided to make a personalized baby bib for my new nephew Henry, I wanted to try something different.

I had never done an applique and thought it would be a fun new technique to try.

I "just knew" I had all the right materials to get started.

{Bubble deflates.}
What I had was Fusible Interfacing.
What I needed was Fusible Web.

HOWEVER, NEVER FEAR!  It turns out there are actually 2 ways to do applique. Hallelujah! I don't have to go back to the store!

APPLIQUE METHOD 1: Iron-on with Fusible Adhesive or Web

The most traditional method of applique seems to be the iron-on method. I'm sure you've seen it a million times. A cute little applique, ironed down flat, with zig zag stitches around it to secure it in place. This method produces an applique with a stiffer feel than method 2. Here are a couple tutorials if this is your preferred method: How To Applique; & Applique Tutorial.

APPLIQUE METHOD 2: Applique using Fusible Interfacing

It turns out, I prefer this method for applique because it produces a softer feel than the regular iron-on applique.

Embroider baby name on bib using machine toolBefore I began with the applique, I added his name to the sailboat using my sewing machine's embroidery tool. I attached cut-away stabilizer to the back of the fabric to give it some stability, selected the letters, and let my machine do the rest.

And now it's just for him. Oh sweet Henry-boy!

On with the applique...
Fusible Interfacing has two sides, a smooth side and a dotted side (glue dots).

applique tutorial using fusible interfacingAs seen (left - top right photo), after tracing your shape on the smooth side of the interfacing, lay the dotted side facing the right side of your fabric and stitch directly on your line.

Cut away excess fabric and interfacing around your shape.

Next, cut a small slit in the interfacing so you can turn it right-side out. Be sure not to cut through your fabric. 

Once right side out, your shape will be ready to iron-on to your project.

Lay your applique pieces in place and iron them down using a damp cloth (follow the instructions on the fusible interfacing package).

Appliques with fusible interfacing are softer than iron-on appliquesIn this image all my applique pieces have been ironed in place. Unlike Method 1, the applique fabric is not actually glued to anything. It is held in place from the backing, which has been glued down to the bib.


To secure the edges, zig zag stitch all the way around each piece. Test your machine and decide on which length and width you prefer. The zig zag should just catch the outer edge.

Finish applique with close zig zag stitches

The applique didn't turn out perfectly, it was my first time and all, but I didn't think Henry would mind. I attached the dark blue sail boat bib (a.k.a. the S.S. Henry) to a soft creamy terrycloth.

Sewn applique baby bib with flannel front and terry cloth back

I added a piece of matching light blue and white striped seer sucker fabric, with navy ribbon, to a heavy cloth diaper for a coordinating burp cloth.

My sister-in-law said how much she loved it and that it was just Henry's style. 
Hugs and Kisses to Henry xo

Applique baby bib with matching seer sucker burp cloth

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