Sewing for Fun

Sewing for Fun

On the 4th of July, I decided to take a break from sewing fleece car seat ponchos and do a little sewing for fun.  I already had a project in mind.  I wanted to make a swimsuit and beach bag for my granddaughter’s 18″ My Life doll.  Aaliyah is six years old, and she loves playing with My Life dolls!  I enjoy watching her change their clothes and create scenarios for them while she’s playing.  I knew that she didn’t have any swimwear for her dolls, so the project choice was an easy one.

This is Aaliyah with one of her dolls that looks a lot like her.  The doll is modeling her new swimsuit and swimming goggles.

Aaliyah is modeling her pink cast that she’s been wearing for the past three weeks.

 

 

Project Inspiration

 

My inspiration for the fabric selection for this project came from a kitchen towel that I found on clearance at Walmart.  When I saw the towel, it reminded me of a beach towel.  It was a little larger than most doll beach towels, but I knew Aaliyah wouldn’t mind.

I chose a yellow floral swimsuit fabric for the main part of the swimsuit.  I used a black and white polka dot fold over elastic for the edges of the swimsuit.  The polka dots in the elastic mimic the black and white pattern on the towel.

For the beach bag, I chose yellow with a black and white trim again.  But this time, I added a coral color print for the pocket to coordinate with the coral letters on the towel.  I chose blue jelly bracelets for the beach bag handles.

Swimsuit Details

Everyone’s favorite part of the swimsuit is the bum ruffles!  This detail on this particular pattern is just adorable!  The pattern is from Lee & Pearl.  It’s their Retro Ruffled Swimsuit Pattern.

I chose a black and white check swimsuit fabric for the bottom ruffle with a solid yellow for the top ruffle.  These particular fabrics were available from Lee & Pearl, too, and I’ve had them in my stash for a few years.

This project reminded me how much I enjoy making doll clothes.  I love the process of choosing a pattern and fabrics with no complicated fitting issues to work around.

It’s pretty awesome to hear Aaliyah tell me how amazing I am, too!

I hope you all had some holiday fun yesterday, too!

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Mesh Zipper Pouches

Mesh Zipper Pouches

I have a good friend whose mom is an accomplished seamstress and quilter.  I’m always admiring the things that my friend’s mom makes for her.  For a few years now, I’ve been admiring her collection of mesh zipper pouches in a wide variety of sizes.

The thing that makes these zipper pouches different from all other zipper pouches is, of course, the mesh.  I love being able to see what is inside the pouch without having to open it.  For someone who uses zipper pouches to carry and store all kinds of things, the mesh see-through property is a huge time-saver!

Most of the supplies needed to create these mesh zipper pouches are things that I have on hand:  cotton fabric, fusible fleece, zippers, and thread.  The only thing that I needed to buy was the mesh.

I really wanted white mesh, but I wasn’t able to find any.  I had to settle for mesh in black and red.
I have lots of cotton fabrics that coordinate with black and red, so this worked for me.

The vinyl mesh is available in some quilting shops.  Another name for it is “pet mesh” since its original use was to create breathable bags for small pets.

I decided to try out my red mesh by making a zipper pouch that measures approximately 6″x 9″.  I chose a simple black and white print that contrasts beautifully with the red mesh.  I also chose a red zipper.

I’m pleased with the way this zipper pouch turned out.  As you can see it’s large enough to hold a pair of sewing shears.

This pouch could be used to hold makeup, craft supplies, first aid items, a cell phone, office supplies, etc.

The second mesh zipper pouch I made is this almost square pouch.  I chose the black mesh this time and a cotton print with shades of pink and lime green.  The lime green zipper really pops on this one!

I will continue to use this one for charging cables and ear phones as I’m constantly searching for those things around the house.  While I keep them in a zipper pouch, I often forget which pouch holds which cords.  Gotta love that mesh!

I have ten more of these zipper pouches cut and ready to sew.  I’m planning to offer them as a collection of items for sale later this summer.  If you’d like to know when these will be available and how much they will cost, I recommend signing up for my email list so you won’t miss any announcements.  You can use this link to sign up right now:  http://eepurl.com/Qhi8b

Mesh zipper pouches make great gifts!  I don’t anyone who wouldn’t benefit from owning a few of these.  Even kids would love these! Imagine how great these would be for kids’ toys during a road trip.  They could keep things together yet know exactly where things are.

I’ve got some fun prints to put together for the mesh zipper pouches that are coming up soon!  Don’t miss ’em!

 

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Car Seat Ponchos Changes for 2018

Car Seat Ponchos Changes for 2018

Change can be scary!

In spite of our fear of change, sometimes change is good.  That’s certainly the case with the car seat poncho changes that I’m making for 2018.

Ever since I began sewing and selling car seat ponchos in 2015, I have used the same pattern.  That pattern has been well received by my customers.  On occasion, I have had customers tell me that they wish their poncho was just a bit longer.

That’s why, when late last year, my pattern designer made a few minor changes to her pattern, I knew I wanted to make the same changes to the car seat ponchos that I offer in my shop.

The new ponchos will be slightly longer in the front and back and slightly shorter at the sides.  The new ponchos have an elongated shape with the extra length where needed.

The photo on the left above is a “old” size 2T poncho that I made using the pattern that I’ve been using for the past few years.

The poncho on the right is a new size 2T in a beautiful gray and purple feather print.  You can see the slight difference in the shape of the ponchos.

For comparison, check out the photos below.

 

On the left, you can see the old poncho is approximately two inches shorter than the new poncho in the front and back.

In the photo on the right, notice that the new poncho is not as wide at the shoulders as the old poncho.  This allows for a better fit with less bunching at the hands when using the wrist snaps.

Admittedly, these changes are not earth-shattering, but both of the changes are positive improvements in the car seat ponchos that you can purchase in my Etsy shop.  Anyone who purchased a poncho after February 2018 already received this style.  The measurements in the listing descriptions in my shop will reflect these changes.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these changes to the car seat ponchos.  Rest assured that the features that set my ponchos apart from the rest — the two-way zipper, hand slits, and wrist snaps — will not change.  I will continue to make ponchos that you and your children can enjoy for years!

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Summer Sewing Challenge

Summer Sewing Challenge

This quote is one of my favorites from the book,  The How of Happiness.  I firmly believe in the premise of this quote: a challenging project can increase our happiness.

With that in mind, I have decided to embark on a sewing challenge for this summer.  My plan is to step away from the fleece periodically and work with some different fabrics from my fabric stash.  New projects and decreasing my fabric stash is a win-win for me!

To give you the opportunity for a win, I’ve decided to give away some of the items that I create for this challenge.

I’ve selected five different types of fabrics from my stash: outdoor fabric, quilting cotton, home dec fabric, cotton/lycra blends, and plastic mesh.  These represent some of the fabrics I’ve got in my stash.  I’m going to choose at least four of these over the summer to use for projects.  For the most part, I’ll be deciding what to make from these fabrics. In some cases, I may be asking members of my Facebook group to choose the project or the specific fabrics for me.  If you’re not a member of my Facebook group, I invite you to join today so you won’t miss a moment of the Summer Sewing Challenge!
I’ll be showing the projects in my Facebook group and blogging about them here.

The rules for the giveaways will also be found here and in my Facebook group. The winners for the giveaways will be notified by email.

If you haven’t yet signed up for free updates, you can do that below.

I hope you will enjoy this Summer Sewing Challenge. It will be an opportunity for you to see different kinds of projects using various fabrics.

Perhaps you will also consider a summer challenge of your own. Do you have a particular hobby that would lend itself to a summer challenge? Is there a new skill that you would like to learn or some old or new supplies or materials that you’d like to try out or use up?

Please share your ideas for a summer challenge in the comments below!  And don’t forget to sign up for email updates!

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Why I Became an Entrepreneur

When I was a child, I remember people asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I’m pretty sure I never once responded to that question by saying, “I want to be an entrepreneur.”  Yet, here I am, sole proprietor of Elaine Searer, Sewing & Alterations, and I’m loving it!

My top three reasons for becoming an entrepreneur are the opportunity to work in my own home, the privilege of setting my own schedule (except during my busy season), and the satisfaction of doing work that is appreciated by my customers.

It’s difficult to put into words the satisfaction that I experience when I take a garment that someone couldn’t use and turn it into something that fits and works for that person.  I feel the same joy when I take two pieces of fleece fabric and make a car seat poncho that will keep a child warm all winter long.

My husband and I have created a comfortable, practical sewing studio in the basement of our home.  It’s one of my favorite places to spend time, and I am very thankful that I can contribute financially in a way that is enjoyable and fulfilling.

Before I became an entrepreneur, I was a high school English teacher.  I liked that job, and especially enjoyed being in the classroom with my students.  I did find, however, that I was not well-suited to running my life by a system of bells, and I craved an opportunity to be more in charge of my own schedule.

Owning my own business doesn’t mean that I can work only when I feel like it, but my schedule is flexible.  My husband, Jack, and I start every day with coffee and a “business meeting” in our living room.  We both very much enjoy being involved in a small business.  We love our local customers whom we see face-to-face.  We also enjoy following our packages that are sold in my Etsy shop as they travel across the U.S.A. and Canada to customers who make our day with their orders and positive feedback for my products.

For right now, I’m fully convinced that I’m doing exactly what God created me to do right here in the space that He’s given me.  If anyone would ask me what I’d like to be doing with my life, I’d proudly tell them, “I’m already doing it!”

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How to Buy the Best Birthday Gift

How to Buy the Best Birthday Gift

Buying gifts for people can be hard work.  Pressure to find a gift that the recipient will like and can use can take the fun out of the whole gift-giving occasion for me. If gift-buying is as difficult for you as it is for me, you’re in the right place.  I’m going to give you some tips for buying gifts that I recently learned from a very special person.

On February 18th, I celebrated my sixtieth birthday.  I wasn’t expecting any gifts, but I have a six-year-old granddaughter who was not about to let my 60th birthday pass without giving me a special present.  Her gift for me was a yard of rainbow print fleece fabric.  She and her brother were very excited to celebrate with us!

My practical nature is an asset most of the time, but not so much when buying gifts.  I have a tendency to try to find a gift that the recipient needs.  For me, the process involves finding a gift that can be useful and avoiding gifts that are frivolous.

It turns out that my granddaughter Aaliyah, at the age of six, has a better way to choose birthday gifts for the people she loves.  Here’s her gift-buying technique:

  1. Spend time with people.  Get to know them.  Observe their environment to see what they like.  Aaliyah has done all of these things with me, and she knows that I like fabric.  I like fabric a lot!  I have a lot of fabric because I like it so much. Most people would be aware that I do not need any more fabric.  Not one more yard.  But not Aaliyah.
2. Make a decision to buy a gift that the recipient will like.  Do not concern yourself with whether or not the gift is practical or whether it is needed.  Just be sure that the gift will be loved and appreciated!

3. Have fun while shopping for the gift.  We all enjoyed hearing about Aaliyah’s fabric shopping adventure.  Apparently, she had a difficult time choosing between the rainbow fleece and the Shopkins fleece.  She chose well.  It was fun hearng about her dad’s impatience at the cutting counter at Walmart, too.

There you have it!  A sure fire method for choosing the perfect gift.  This is a lesson that I plan to take to heart.

 

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