Sewing Swimwear

Sewing Swimwear

Sewing swimwear can be daunting. The fabric is slippery, making it harder to sew. For women, it means shelf bras and cups. There’s lining and elastic…. Ok, let’s just quit and go buy something already made.
But we get to the store and we see our options. “Look at this lovely 1 square foot of fabric for a steal at $49.99!” We try things on and we start to get incredibly depressed about our body image. We decide we will never go to the pool again and buy a box of Oreo’s instead. Ladies! Let’s not give in to the hype and bullying of the fashion industry.

I first started sewing swimwear when I was 16 or 17 years old and I could not find anything that I felt comfortable in at the stores. I was a skinny, tall girl who felt awkward most of the time and just wanted something cute and modest. My mom took me to the fabric store and helped me pick out fabric, a pattern, and all the supplies I would need. All I had was an old sewing machine; nothing fancy. I wore that swimming suit until it fell apart and then stopped sewing swimwear after that. The pattern choices were lame and fabric was hard to find.

Welcome the internet! The world of fabric and patterns is wide open now. There are choices galore. I started sewing swimwear again last year. And once the bug bit me it took over. Each of my 5 girls got a minimum of two suits each. They even got swim caps. I made myself 4 suits.

What I learned about sewing swimwear is that if you go slow and take your time you can do it. It’s not hard, I promise. Anything you can imagine is possible. Last year I even made myself swim legging shorts, lined with swim undies. (Imagine, no nerves over possible butt cheek slippage.) Go for it! Give it a try. The reward vastly outweighs the risk.

This spring I was able to participate in the testing of 2 separate swimwear patterns, both by the same designer. The Children’s Mairin Swimsuit I wrote a post about already. Here is the Women’s Mairin Swimsuit. Each suit has about a million combinations possible from the included options. (Ok, maybe I am exaggerating. But only a little.) It was a pleasure to test these patterns. My older girls have their designs picked out and we are just waiting on fabric. I love that I just need one pattern and we can all have something very different.

Enjoy some photos of my pasty white, winter legs. 🙂

Children’s Mairin Swimsuit

Children’s Mairin Swimsuit

Here I am again to share one of my new favorite sewing patterns. Say hello to the Children’s Mairin Swimsuit from Sew A Little Seam. This one will not disappoint, friends.

I got to participate in the testing of this pattern and I can tell you a lot of love went into the making of this one. It comes with just about every option you could ever want. Love ruffles? She’s got you covered. How about high waisted boy shorts? Done! One piece or two piece? It’s up to you. I chose to make the ruffled V-back bikini top with leg ruffled bikini bottom but my mind is churning with all of the options I want to make next.

If you have never made a swimsuit, I promise you can handle this one. It’s not too difficult and the instructions are easy to follow.

I LOVE making swimsuits. For little girls, it takes mere scraps of fabric. For myself, I get a custom made piece that is not too short (6′ tall girl here). I challenge you to give it a try. You can do it! But I must warn you, it gets to be addicting.

I will come back and edit this post once I’ve made some more options. In the meantime, check out the website for all the options.

Children’s Mairin Swimsuit

How I Feed My Family of 8

How I Feed My Family of 8

We are a one income family of eight. My little people eat a lot of food. Here in lies a potential problem.

If I had to guess, food purchases is one of the biggest problems for anyone’s budget. It’s so very easy to go over. An extra bag of oranges here, a drive-thru latte there, the unavoidable Girl Scout cookies… I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, but I do have some experience on this front and I’d like to share what works for my family. Here’s a short list of rules I live by.

Don’t Eat Out

I think this goes without saying but I’m gonna say it. Eating out is more expensive than cooking at home. Eating out is the biggest budget killer. Yes, it’s easier. Yes, it may even taste better. Some things just have to change when you have a large family. We know of all the “Kids Eat Free” deals in our neighborhood and, if we do eat out as a family, that is when are where we go.

Buy in bulk whenever possible.

We have a membership to Sam’s Club. I’d love to try Costco but it just isn’t worth the drive for me when there is a Sam’s close to my house. We buy quite a bit there but you really have to watch. Bulk prices aren’t always best. For example, my local Sam’s only sells brand name pasta sauces. I can buy 3 jars of sauce cheaper at Aldi because they are not brand name products.

Bulk shopping can also benefit you in that it can allow you to shop less often. I don’t know about you, but, for me, a trip to the store for milk always ends up with more than just milk bought. Obviously some things cannot be bought in bulk because they will spoil, but many can and every little bit helps.

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

In our house there is always a hot debate over the words to this rhyme. I always knew it to be, “Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat them the more you toot.” My husband says it’s, “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart. The more you eat them the more you…” You get the idea.

However you say it, beans are a great way to feed a large family. They are cheap, filling, and good for you too. Go search for some bean recipes and you’ll see how diverse they are. Our family favorite is a 5 bean chili with peppers.

Shredded Chicken Thighs are Amazing

We buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs in bulk. They are quite cheap and freeze great. I separate them into meal size portions before I freeze them. I throw them into my Instant Pot (my favorite thing of all time) still frozen for 20 minutes and then shred them. Shredded chicken goes so much farther than un-shredded. It can be served over rice, in a burrito, in a soup, or whatever sounds good that day.

Meal Plans

For this, I don’t necessarily have a schedule of meals planned for the week. I buy what I need to make a certain amount of dinners for the week and decide that day. What I mean when I say meal plans is that we have designated food for each meal of the day and designated meal times. No one in my house is grabbing food at random times of the day. For example, bread is meant for lunch and lunch only. Lunch is at a set time. Everyone eats at that time or they miss lunch. If you are hungry after that you have to wait until snack time. Sometimes I feel a bit like a food dictator but if I let these wild things eat whenever they wanted and whatever they wanted it would be anarchy and I’d be grocery shopping every other day. My kids know no other way of life so they don’t complain. They are pretty hard core about not missing that snack time though.

The Harvest Dress by Rad Patterns

The Harvest Dress by Rad Patterns

I recently discovered a pattern from Rad Patterns called the Harvest Dress. It’s a pretty unique design that is dressy and yet functional and comfy. It has a nice, drapey neckline.

…and extra large pockets! The waistband allows for pleating without a bulky look.

It comes with 4 sleeve lengths and 2 skirt lengths. It can be made in any light to medium weight knit fabric and is available in sizes  XXS to 4X.

Rad Patterns has many more amazing designs that you’ll want to try. I’ve made several and I love them all. Go check them out!

Lessons Learned On Our Family Vacation

Lessons Learned On Our Family Vacation

This fall we were able to take our first ever family vacation. I love to travel and experience nature and have wanted to share this with my kids for a long time. Jeremy and I have been able to go places together over the years, but we haven’t been able to make it happen with our kids before this year. Our kids are spread out, roughly, around 3 years apart, meaning we often had babies in the house. This made things challenging, seeing as how we never wanted to travel with them until they were old enough to remember and appreciate the trip. Then there is the expense of traveling with 8 people. That’s no small matter. Our oldest turned 15 this summer and our youngest is on her way to 3 and we decided it was now or never.

We wanted our kids to see something special and grand and awe-inspiring. We wanted them to see the ocean. Miramar Beach was the perfect fit.

 

We learned quite a few lessons along the way. Hopefully our adventure can save you from troubles in the future. 😉

 

1: If you leave at midnight for a 12 hour drive expecting excited kids to sleep the whole way, you are incredibly delusional. They will, in fact, end up staying awake for 36 hours straight.

4am gas stop in Kentucky somewhere, not a wink of sleep

2: Keep a close watch on your children at the beach. The ocean is wild and free and may inspire similar feelings in your children.

3: Stay away from sunblock sticks unless you learn how to use them.

4: Check to make sure your child isn’t sneaking home crabs that then die in your house and get dragged into your hallway by your puppy for you to accidentally find late at night in the dark. You don’t want this. Trust me.

5: There will be sand everywhere. Forever and ever.

6: If you build it they will come… and dance. All the world’s a stage, or something like that.

7: If you are going to take videos of your children, make sure the camera is not on selfie mode, especially when you get knocked down by a large wave. Your family may save and share the photos for the rest of your life.

8: Finally, enjoy each other’s company. Turn off distractions. Play and laugh together. This may mean the only family photo you have is a selfie you took at the last minute on the last day, but who cares. Kids grow quickly and your time is short. Whether it’s at the beach or in your backyard, kids become what you put in, not the picture perfect image you might wish to project.

My Four Little Ponies

My Four Little Ponies

Every year I try to talk my kids into doing theme costumes for Halloween. Every year they completely disregard my ideas. Until this year, that is. I couldn’t talk all 6 into going along but I got 4 of them and that still counts in my book. I found this amazing pattern from Rad Patterns, the Kid’s Cosplaysuit, showed some examples to my girls, and they were on board. (There’s also adult sizes available for this pattern. You know you want to check it out.) Each girl picked their pony and I went to work.

Maggie was anxious to get to the candy. Can you tell? 🙂

This photo cracks me up because it is an accurate representation of their individual personalities.

No one told me My Little Ponies only had cutie marks on one side of their bodies. I got much flack for this. Can’t win them all, I guess.

Weekly Projects: A Riding Hood

Weekly Projects: A Riding Hood

Guys! I found something awesome that you are going to want to check out. Winter is quickly upon us and it’s jacket and coat time again. If you have a little one that still needs are carseat you know how frustrating this time of year can be. Coats don’t fit in carseats. Last year, to solve this problem, I made my little one a fleece cape. It kept her warm but also allowed the seat belts to buckle under the cape, keeping her buckled in tightly. I self-drafted her cape using just her measurements. It worked fine but I found something better for this year. Stitch Upon a Time recently updated and made free a cape pattern with tons of options. You can find it here: Riding Hood Poncho. The favorite feature in our house is the pockets. It also has snaps to create faux sleeves. I used a zipper but you could use snaps instead. I think I missed a golden opportunity in not making a red one (Little Red Riding Hood). As easy as it was to make I may just need to make that a reality.

Weekly Projects: A Sneak Peak

Weekly Projects: A Sneak Peak

In case you didn’t see in my first post, I am the proud mother of 6 kids. I also happen to homeschool those kids. We went on vacation a few weeks ago and my calendar for the month of October has zero free days. My point? I’m a busy girl. I’ve been working on some pretty cool stuff though.

Here’s a couple sneak peaks of what’s to come. First, imagine a full body suit times 4, maybe 5, girls.

And here’s something that I’m creating to share with you. The magic is what’s on the inside. I don’t like the dimensions of this one and I only want you to have the best. Stay tuned.

Weekly Projects: Undies for Twinsies!

Weekly Projects: Undies for Twinsies!

Our family is gearing up for our first ever family vacation. It’s quite an ordeal when there are eight of you. We are all pretty excited and if you know us personally you have probably heard way too much about how excited we are. One of my first thoughts when I began thinking about what we would need was “Do my girls have unstained clothes? Do they have fresh underwear?” I’m hoping that’s a normal mom thought and not that I’m just crazy. Don’t tell me otherwise, please. 🙂

My twins have been a study in human behavior and interaction. (Stick with me, this correlates, I promise.) They are fraternal twins and basically only twins in birthdate. They have been different from day 1. One girl is a night owl. One girl is a morning person. Like, Disney princess, sings to greet the day, morning person. One loves math. One can’t, for the life of her, remember what a number 7 looks like. One loves clothes and fashion and cleanliness. One wears the same clothes for days and rolls in the mud. Until just this year they shared all their clothes. They have always been different sizes but the difference was not enough to mean different sized clothes. This year one has dramatically grown taller and the other has not. They finally need different sized clothes. The added benefit has been that the one who is naturally neater now doesn’t have to share stained clothes.

 

Old habits do die hard though. I rarely sew for these girls because the items would usually get destroyed. And now it’s the competition. If I sew for one I have to sew for the other. One thing I haven’t worried too much about is undies. It’s a small item that they think is special and I get to use scraps and old clothing repurposed. And here in lies the reference to vacation preparation. My Wednesday sewing night this week was spent on making a couple pairs of undies. I only got three pairs made because I also had to clean my basement. 🙁 But sewing is sewing, no matter how long, and I have a finished product to show for it. I used the Scrundlewear pattern from Stitch Upon a Time. I’ve used this pattern so many times I could probably make them with my eyes closed. They sew up so fast. It’s a humid, dreary, nasty day here in the midwest, so enjoy these dreary lighted pictures. 😛

Pattern Praise: The Ana Tee and Dress

Pattern Praise: The Ana Tee and Dress

I recently had the privilege of testing out the pattern for this adorable knit tee and dress from SUCO by Susana. The instructions are super easy to follow and full of pictures and it’s a pretty quick sew, even for a beginner. It is full of options, making it a pattern you can sew over and over and never get bored with.

For Clair, I made the straight dress version with short sleeves and cuffs. I used a size 12 but shortened the length to a size 9. The pattern comes with precise measurements and instructions on how to merge sizes so you can be sure to get the perfect size.

For Violet, I also made the straight dress version but with long sleeves and cuffs. Violet is a straight size 6. The Ana Tee and Dress comes in pdf form with layers, so I was able to click “size 6” and print only her size.

For Caroline, I made the short sleeve cuffed version just like Clair’s. She got a size 5 with a size 6 length. Of all the girls, Caroline is the one who loves dresses the most. She would wear one everyday if she had enough. I love the simple ease of this dress, which suits my rough and tumble girl perfectly.

And Maggie… She tends to be my test dummy the most for projects. She is small and her clothes require the least amount of fabric. The unfortunate side effect is that she has kind of become a diva. If you could only see the multitude of poses she gave me…

She is modeling the long sleeve tee version of this pattern. She is 2 1/2 but petite, and is sporting an 18 months. The length is right where you want it to be. It will also be great for layering in the winter, under sweaters and vests.

With this pattern you can make a tee, an A line dress, or a dress with a waist seam. It has cap sleeves, short sleeves, and long sleeves, and you can choose to hem the sleeves or use cuffs on the short and long sleeves. It covers sizes 12 months all the way up to size 14.

To find this adorable, easy pattern, go check out SUCO by Susana.