Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Clothespin Pocket Apron Tutorial

Or more realistically, A What Not To Do Tutorial, otherwise known as a Comedy of Errors.

I use tutorials quite a bit in my career and am immensely grateful for them. I decided, since I have been planning to make this apron anyway, why not make a tutorial at the same time? Sure! Great idea!

First, have your husband take a couple of the kids to the vet and to buy a two row sweet corn planter. Then get the baby down for her nap. Have the biggest sister read to the little brother.

Gather your materials. You'll need

An iced coffee.


Depending on if you contrast fabrics or make it out of the same one, you'll need about a 1/2 of a yard of fabric. I used leftovers from other projects. A couple of fat quarters would be perfect for the apron, but you'll need a standard 45" width for the apron ties.

You'll also need several inches of double fold bias tape. I happened to have some that came in my sewing machine table drawer from when I bought it at an auction several years ago, so that was handy. I have never used store bought bias tape before this project. This should be fun! 

So 
what you really want is your fabric to be about 12 inches long in the end. You need a few inches for seam allowance and sticking the apron up into the waistband. I did 17 because I wasn't sure how much room I'd need for the clothespins. (mistake #1).

I ended up folding up a few inches because after I used it the first time, it was too long for my hands to easily reach the clothespins. I made it 16 inches wide, because that was all I had left of the bird fabric and I really wanted to use it. (mistake #2) And of course, I didn't want sideways birds while I'm here hanging up clothes, on the farm, with no one to look at me but the cats and kiddles, because that would just have driven me nuts every single time I used it. But if I were you I'd make it at least 20 inches wide. Fat quarters are 22" and that would be just perfect!

To reiterate, ideal cutting measurements are 22" wide by 14" long. To make the pockets, nip off a corner of the top fabric while it's folded. I went down about seven inches and curved in almost a right angle. This plan worked out!

Pin your bias tape to the top fabric pockets. Sew.
If you miss some of your bias tape (mistake #3), make sure you go back over it. This is easier to do before your apron's all assembled (mistake #4).

Now you're going to sew your apron pieces together and flip it right side out.
Normally, when you do this procedure you put right sides together. Thusly. 

DO NOT DO THIS! (mistake #5)
You want the right side of the  bottom piece to be facing the inside of the top piece when you flip them right side out. You should layer them with the right side of your top piece facing the wrong side of your bottom piece.

If you don't listen to my advice, you're going to have to sew another panel onto your bottom piece, like so. 
Sew the wrong sides together, flip that right side out and carry on as if nothing happened.

Also, double check you didn't miss any edges and have a hole in your new apron already. (mistake #6). If you do, sew it up!
photo by three year old assistant

Now you're (finally) ready for your waistband. What you really should do is measure across your middle and that is how wide you should make your waistband. Or, you could just really want to use this fabric in your apron, because it's all you have left from when you made a dear friend her apron for her birthday, so you make it as wide as you can with the fabric you have. In my case that was 14 inches. I made the little bump just to be fancy. 

You know aprons are fancy.

Then you'll sew wrong sides together (mistake #7) along the top only. 

Know what's a good idea? Making sure you flip BOTH pieces to wrong sides, not just the one you see. I could blame a husband or miscellaneous children, because I know I started to get interrupted about now, but as this was not my first error...probably I won't.

Know what else is a good idea? Not using a really tiny stitch when you sew them wrong. (mistake #8) I decided to just leave it. Even though it will annoy me, I just zigzagged the raw edges. I couldn't flip them so I didn't have raw edges, you see, because I had frugally used the selvage edge of my fabric, planning for it to be on the back of the band where no one would see it.(mistake #9) I decided the raw edge was the lesser of the two annoyances. 




When you're done with correcting all your mistakes---no scratch that, YOU won't make any mistakes, because I've already done them for you---, you'll insert your apron into the waistband. You'll need to turn up the edges of your fabric so you don't have any raw edges showing. I usually fold down about a 1/2 ", iron, fold my raw edge into that crease, and iron again. If you know of a faster way, please tell me.

Insert your apron into the bottom of your waistband, taking care to not catch and cut your thumb on the needle for the first time ever (mistake #10).

If you misplace (somehow) both of your pairs of sewing scissors, even though you just had them, do not think that your son's school scissors will actually cut thread, even though they will cut into the upholstery of the dining room chairs given enough tenaciousness. 

Moving on to the apron ties. I like wide ties. So I cut two 45" lengths of six inch wide fabric. The only one I had enough of was the blue. So I picked that. 

Fold it in half and sew along the long end. If you want to get fancy (again) cut a 45 degree triangle off the end of it. Turn it right side out. It doesn't take long if you like wide ties like me.

If you need to turn narrower strips, I highly recommend a tube turner. (Those are the ones I have, but I didn't get them there; I don't usually shop at Walmart). Once you figure out the directions, you will thank me. (There are also youtube videos, if the directions still don't make sense.)


Gather the end of your apron tie a bit, fold your raw edges in on the sides of your waistband and insert. I made sure I inserted it at least 3/4", because I have been known to be a bit skosh (pronounced with a long O) and had to re-do the entire thing. (I'm sure this comes as a big surprise to you.)







 Sew it well.

VoilĂ ! You're done! And all before the baby woke up from her nap, despite all the mistakes, which proves if you do it right the first time, this is a very quick project.

Now go hang some clothes!

My photographer is short, and was trying very hard to
get the apron in the photos. I promise, I really do have a head.

The first time my bum was ever on my blog.
(at least to my knowledge)

as it looks hanging in the laundry room



Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Death Obsession, or, In Which a Soapbox is Climbed

It is very hard to find used clothing for a six year old boy. Boys are notoriously hard on their clothes. At one of the second hand stores we frequent, there are rows and rows of size six girls clothes. There were exactly TWO pairs of pants for Cadrian. And one was a pair of capris, so I'm pretty sure it should have been in the girls' section.

I had to resort to eBay for his fall school clothes. I prefer to not do that if I don't have to, as the auctions plus shipping are usually a little more expensive than I like.

Also, I'm picky.

I like to buy in lots to save money, as you can usually get a better deal per item, but every item in the lot has to be one he'll wear, else what is the point? Money would not have been saved.

I don't really like that many of the boys clothes have sports on them. What if the boy isn't sporty? Or, what if he's athletic and doesn't really like to play organized sports? Why are there so many options for sports for boys clothes, but none for little girls?

I don't really like that so many of the clothes have a brand or a store emblazoned on them. WHY should I pay good money to have my child be a walking advertisement? Shouldn't they be paying me?

I don't really like that so many of the clothes are from video games, TV shows or movies. In my book, six year old boys should be outside climbing trees and rolling in sand and making things out of rocks and not be inside playing video games. I don't think playing a bit of video game is necessarily bad in and of itself. I don't have a problem with a movie now and again. I do think plastering a video game or movie character across my son's chest is like saying, "This. This is what is important to me. This is where my priorities lie."

I don't like how there are so many boys clothes with sassy sayings on them. A few I saw: A dog tooting, with a fallen tree "Who cut one?". "I can give a headache to an aspirin". "For Sale...Little Brother...Cheap" "Underachiever"  "My parents are exhausted"    THIS is the best we can do for our boys? Our boys we are raising to be men? We make them wear self deprecating tee shirts, give them put downs and undermine their precious (and true) exhausting energy and put these low opinions across their chests. What messages are we trying to send?

I once had an adorable red onesie for my 15 month old son that said "Heartbreaker" in white letters. I put it on him for Valentine's Day and we took him to a party. When I was looking back at the pictures, I thought how appalling that it was that I did that! Do I want my son to grow up and plow through girls like a stereotypical stud? Or do I want my son to be a man of integrity, who waits for the woman he can spend his life with, and then who he sticks by in thick or thin? Do I want him to treat women like throwaway possessions and leave a trail of broken hearts behind him or do I want him to treat a woman's heart like gold?

I got rid of that onesie and promised myself that I would be more discerning about what messages I put on my children, and what representations we put out into the world.

And the thing I really really don't like about boys clothing right now is all the skulls! A skull, for almost all of time, has represented death. It still does. Even if we put it on our babies' sleep and plays, it still represents death. Even if we see a skull almost every time we leave the house because it is on so many kinds of clothing, it still represents death. I don't think it's cute. I don't think it's for children. Pirates used skulls to intimidate. Skull and crossbones still are used to indicate poison. In Tarot cards, skulls are on the death card. Skulls were part of the Nazi SS uniform as well as many other military insignia, partly to be representative of loyalty until death, and partly as a warning: "I will kill you".  Skulls might be fashionable right now, but I think they still represent a culture obsessed with death.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

We've been busy

July is usually pretty busy for us, but this July has been even more so.

We had three weeks of swimming lessons. We had Kevin, Cadrian and Aviana's birthdays. I was on call for a couple of births, one of which was a totally and completely amazing. I went to a city a few hours away with three of the children for a training for a new phase of our home school journey. I've read a few books. We painted our "new" family room. We got a puppy. I wrote a song, recruited a friend to sing it, and am in the process of making a video.

Aaand a bunch of other stuff..






I've missed blogging. My goal for August is to plan better and post at least once a week.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

"Luckiest" Girl in the World


I really hate the expression "he made me the luckiest girl in the world". This man, this birthday man of mine, this good man, he works hard at loving me. I work hard at loving him. We work hard at loving our family. Of course there are easy moments, there are beautiful moments, there are hilarious moments. There are also, buckets and buckets of work.

This good man, this birthday man is celebrating his birthday today by hanging out with his family. That is hard for him to do. Being still is hard. Not getting jobs out on the farm done is hard. Being around the founts of energy that are our children, on a rainy day is hard. Prioritizing what is best, not what is easiest is hard.

It's not luck. Our marriage, our 13 years together is not made up of luck. We challenge each other, we bring out the best --and the worst--in each other. We love each other madly, and sometimes, we love each other mad. This man, this good man, and I stay together because we choose to stay together.

I am so thankful for this man, this good man who chooses each day to carry on loving us in the best ways he can. This man has been by me through five pregnancies, and five births, and ten years of breastfeeding and diaper changing. He was there for me the times I had to be on bedrest. He stands by me when I'm sick, when I'm tired, when I doubt myself.

He comes along slowly, warily but surely, when I decide we're not going to spank anymore. He tries. He supports when I start new ventures, when I try new things, when I dare.

This man, this good man, is celebrating his birthday today by going to Menard's to buy things like brackets and bathtub plugs. He's celebrating by corralling small children at the steak house. He's celebrating by doing art with younglings. He's celebrating by heating up leftovers, selling a mattress, getting a candle in his ice cream, and brushing teeth.

He could choose to be out with buddies, drinking at a bar, or flying thousand dollar remote controlled helicopters, or playing golf. He could choose to be at work and not be home for dinner.He could choose to look at other women, or flirt with them, or more. He could choose to be emotionally unavailable to me and our children because facing your feelings is a hard thing. He could choose dishonesty. He could choose distance. He could choose solitude. He could choose an easy peacefulness that doesn't include five rambunctious children and a sometimes contentious wife.

But he doesn't. He chooses me. Every day. He chooses us.
I am the luckiest girl in the world, but then again, it's not luck. 
Happy birthday, my loving man.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Absolutely Amazing Home Birth of Babe E



I'm sharing this video for several reasons.

One:  Because it's awesome.

Two: I want to educate people on natural birth. Women were created to do this! (Not just this, but you know what I mean). I want people to know that even though it's hard, and even though it can hurt, women CAN do this!

Three: My first birth was a Cesarean. That means I've had four VBACs, three out of hospital. VBACs are safe and should be encouraged.

Four: After Elivette was born, I had uterine clotting and bleeding. I lost a lot of blood and fainted. My midwife gently removed the clots, and administered oral Cytotec to clamp down my uterus. My midwife called 911 and I went to the hospital in the ambulance about two hours after the birth. My blood pressure was almost non-existent upon arrival. The ER doctor on call flipped out on me. At one point, he panickedly yelled at me "Do you just want me to take you back and do a hysterectomy right now?!" What kind of question is that for a medical professional to ask; especially to a woman in my weakened state? I knew my midwife had given me medicine at home, but I was unclear at the time exactly what it was. All I wanted was for him to wait until she arrived so I didn't end up with some sort of drug reaction.

After my midwife arrived at the ER, we got the OB on call to come down. She removed (NOT GENTLY) still more clots from my uterus. I remember screaming and writhing. It was much worse than anything I'd ever been through. I had been loud during the birth, but now I was really screaming! Then, after she got down off of me, they gave me morphine for the pain. A little late, I'd say. I was also hooked up to Pitocin.

I was thankful at least I got to nurse my baby in the ER.



They wouldn't let me eat. Once I got admitted, they made me stay awake and answer all these ridiculous questions for their intake forms. They wouldn't let me eat! I just had a baby and they wouldn't let me eat! I had to be on the surgical floor (I think) because since my baby was born at home, apparently she's contaminated and can't be in the Mother/Baby unit. The nurses were as kind as could be and very curious about home birth. I didn't really want to talk though; I just wanted to sleep! And eat!

The next morning, the OB came back to check on me. She told me that my midwife did everything right. My home birth midwife saved my life. She told me that while it was good we transferred, in case I needed a blood transfusion, the her actions and the actions of the ER doctor and the hospital staff are not what saved my life. My home birth midwife saved my life.

I reiterate this because I want it known that home birth is safe. Home birth, even when there's an emergency, is safe.

I want people to know that moving birth out of homes and into the hospital in the 21st century is much less about safety as they are led to believe, and more about money. Absolutely, there are instances where you need to be in the hospital--my first birth was one of those. But in the vast majority of cases, for the vast majority of women, it's unnecessary.

Welcome Home banner the girls made for me.

Meeting biggest brother

Meeting big brother


Five: I want to encourage other expectant moms out there with this video. I loved watching youtube videos of birth while expecting because I felt it helped me be more prepared. It could happen this way, or that way, or some way I'd never anticipated. I loved watching the miracle of mamas bringing their little ones into the world. My baby was malpositioned, and it was difficult, but the euphoria of being able to bring her earthside is unparalleled.

Six: Our birth stories matter. Birth matters. Helping women have a "good story" or even, the story they want is important to me. I hope that this video encourages someone to have a natural birth and to be able to say "I did it!"

Because you can!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Greetings from the Farm Fresh Family


We were all dressed up and looking dapper. So I had my mom snap a few pictures of us in the yard. That went well. (Depending on your definition of well)

 I love looking at pictures of my sweet family. No one is talking. Still a lot of movement though. ;)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Allergies and Farming

Yesterday when I was mowing the lawn, dandelion fluff blowing in my face, the smell of freshly mown grass filling my nose, I was thinking to myself all smug-like, "I should really let people know how awesome this is. I used to get allergy shots. I used to have to take medicine on a regular basis. I used to be non-functional until my allergy medicine kicked in, and even then I was moderately miserable. I used to not even be able to BE in the yard when someone was mowing, let alone mow it myself." 


"Now look at me," I inwardly bragged, "I'm treating my allergies on a strictly as needed basis, with essential oils, and I can be outside whenever I want, and I can even mow the grass!"

I had mown a couple of times last year with no ill effects.

I certainly wasn't expecting to be bedridden today!

I woke up feeling stuffier than usual, but I felt a little better after a couple of "allergy bombs" --2 drops each of lemon, peppermint and lavender essential oils. 

But as the day wore on, I got sicker and sicker. Now my nose is running like a faucet and I'm sneezing 10 times at a go. My face hurts. My body aches. My head hurts. My throat hurts and my palate itches. I'm a mess. 

I went for the prescription strength meds and the over the counter meds. Still no improvement. 

I am seriously never mowing again.

I just wanted to help my incredibly busy and amazing husband who, right now, took all the kids, who have been fairly owly today, and a pizza down to play on the riverfront. 

Guess I'll have to think of indoor ways of assistance.