Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Stashalong

Well friends. Here we are.

As is always the case, I didn't intend to go as long as it's been without posting, but it happened. Of course it did. I have a baby for heaven's sake.

We have been doing some re-evaluating and a lot of praying. Once again, I have decided I need to cut back. So, for now we are going to pause the Stashalong.

I don't mean to be throwing a pity party here, but it has been rough on me to try to set up such a big project and feel like I am talking to the wall here. Maybe in the future, when I get things rolling along smoothly I will pick it back up again.

As I start into this new, unexpected, phase of life, I do hope to have more time to blog. Cutting out everything that I am cutting out is going to take a good solid month, since I have some obligations to fulfill before stopping various activities. But my whole family is very hopeful that where I am headed is going to be best for all of us because it's what's best for me is what's best for us.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


I set out the challenge for the stashalong this month to use your special item. The one that you are saving because, well... it's special.

But as I went through my stash, I realized I don't feel like I really have any special fabric that I'm saving. Same with yarn. So I plodded on and started using up some scraps for the 9-patch a day challenge ( check my Instagram to see them!).

As I finished up with scraps I dug out some jelly roll strips. I gazed at them a moment, and placed them back. Then I realized it. Those jelly roll strips are my Special. Not because I treasure them, but they needed the perfect project and 9-patch just wasn't going to cut it.

So I set out on a quest to use those jelly roll strips. I found two projects that I felt were executable, and went ahead with the first one.

The key here was I didn't hesitate. I didn't give myself a couple of days to decide if it really was the perfect project for them because that's what got them languishing in the stash in the first place. I picked the pattern and started cutting away. I don't even know if I have enough of the base fabric that I need to actually complete the project, but that's not important.

What's important is that I am using my stash.

How's it going with your stashalong projects? I'd love to hear what everyone is working on!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Our Bedtime Routine

We have a baby. A baby baby, not a fake baby. (I know  a lady who calls a two year old a baby, and another one who thinks an 8 year old is still a baby. She really means it too.)

We follow the on-demand, attachment parenting style. When she cries for food, I feed her, even if she ate half an hour ago. If she needs to be held, I hold her. All day. And all night (it can be rough). Because that's what she needs.

But this does not stop us from having a bedtime routine. And a very strict, solid bed time. You see, even with the attachment, and on demand stuff we've got going on, I still think it's important to get your kiddos on a schedule. How we did this was watching for cues as to when Monkey is tired. Babies will usually get tired around the same time every day, and we set our schedule accordingly. She let us know when she needs bedtime, so we ran with it.

The Routine

Pajamas and Disposable Diaper
Read from Chapter Book (we are currently reading Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, a favorite of mine)
Get in Sleep Sack 
Read, in the same order every night: 
Snuggle Puppy
The Going To Bed Book 
Night Night Forest Friends
Lie in crib- sing You Are My Sunshine (sometimes)
Go to sleep (hopefully) 

No Bath? 

You will probably notice that bath is not part of the bedtime routine for us. Babies have very sensitive skin, and having a bath every night can do more harm than good, especially when they are newborns (less than 4 weeks old) if you or your spouse have sensitive skin as well. Since Monkey is not mobile, she doesn't roll around in dirt or get food all over her, we have no reason to bathe her every single night. So we don't. 

If it's a bath night, we do it before pajamas and diaper. Side note: we cloth diaper most of the time, so her getting a disposable and a change of clothes lets her know it's time to sleep. 

A Chapter Book at 4 months Old? 

Yes. While I was pregnant, I read chapter books out loud to the kiddos in my class at summer camp. I decided to keep it going with her after summer camp ended, and kept reading out loud to her, still in-utero, to finish up the book. I read scriptures out loud to her in the mornings too. 

The key to reading a chapter book out loud to your infant, is to follow their cues. Some times I get a paragraph out before she's done. Sometimes, I get two whole pages done. It's just a matter of what kind of mood Monkey is in. 

What is a Sleep Sack? 

It's... a sleeping bag for babies. Basically, it's a sack that zips up the front and has arms. This way baby can be warm, since you should not use blankets in a crib, and still have freedom to self soothe because they can move their arms and hands to get a binkie or suck their thumb. We only use ours for night time sleeping, not naps. This is just another way to cue our baby that it's night time and we expect her to sleep longer. 

The Same Three Books... Every Night? 

Again, yes. They are bedtime based books, so when she gets older she will understand what bedtime is, and why we read those books at bedtime. The same exact books, in the same exact order make the routine just that, Routine. She knows that when we pull out Snuggle Puppy it's almost time to get in the crib and sleep. 

If you think a few months old is too young to notice things like this, well, give it a try. I can tell you that on nights when Monkey is not very tired, the bedtime books come out and she freaks out because she does not want to go to bed!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to Make Bias Binding

Working from stash is like a game to me. I love going through it and seeing what pops out and what suddenly goes with what.

I had some terrycloth in the stash, and I don't remember why I bought it or what I had in mind for it, if I even had a project in mind for it. But I found it around the time I realized we had no towels for Monkey to use, so I thought I would make it into a towel for her. I contemplated how to best do that when another fabric, some left over from a skirt I made, jumped out at me.

It MATCHED the towel perfectly. I decided to create some bias binding for the terrycloth, thus eliminating any hemming or serging.

I don't really remember where I learned to make bias binding, so I decided I'd go ahead and document the process for you all in the hopes that it will help at least one of you in the future.

The Benefits to Making Your Own Bias Binding

The biggest benefit I can think of is: You can make binding that is super cute and matches perfectly whatever project you are working on. I usually see just plain, solid color bindings in the store. While those have their purposes, sometimes you need a patterned binding because you have a solid item. 

You will never run out! As long as you have stash, you have a supply of binding. 

If the store is closed because it's super late at night and you're sewing because it's the only time you have to yourself, you can still finish a project because you have your own supply of binding. 

Here We GO!


A square of fabric- if you have a rectangle that's ok, just make it a square!
Scissors (or Rotary cutter)
Sewing machine

Now, I'm sure there's some math equation that we could use to determine how much binding you will end up with based on how much fabric you start out with, but math and I have a tolerable relationship. When it comes to sewing, I have a talent for looking at something and knowing if it will work or not, so I just plow ahead. If in doubt, make more than you think you will need! 

We start out with a square of fabric. If you have a rectangle, then measure and cut it to be a square. The bigger the square, the more binding you will end up with. I made two squares from this stash fabric and have a lot left over from the project I used it on. 

Cut diagonally across the fabric. You will end up with two triangles. 

Move one triangle to the other side of the square. Confusing right? You want to end up with a trapezoid. Look at the previous picture and note where the white selvedge  edge is. I moved that piece from left to right. So, the left side of the original square is now touching the right side of the square. 

Sew these together and press the seam open. 

Now is where some math comes in. I wanted a thicker binding. So, to get a 3/4 inch binding I cut 3 inch wide strips. Double the width you want, then double again. (1 inch binding: 1x2=2, 2x2=4. You will cut 4 inch strips) 

Measure the width of your binding and mark it on the fabric. You mark all the way across, lining up your ruler with the original top (or bottom) of your square. Do this down the entire piece of fabric. I ended up with five lines across mine. 

Next, line up one side of the first line with the top of the fabric. This will offset the top and bottom as pictured above. Sew the seam  and press open. 

Note that the lines will not perfectly line up. I've never gotten them to. This is where we kinda fudge it and hope for the best. 

At this point, you, if you've done it right, can trace your finger along the lines you  marked and not have to lift it off the fabric. They should make a spiral around the fabric. 

Grab your scissors and cut. Cut along the line you marked. You will end up with one long strip of fabric, cut on the bias. 

At this point, I pressed the entire strip, seams open. Just because. 

You may end up with little triangles hanging off the edge of the nice straight strip. Don't worry about them. 

You can cut them off. No harm done. 

Now, we get to do a lot of ironing. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together,  and iron. If you had a 4 inch strip, you now will have a 2 inch wide strip (double thickness).

Next, fold one of the raw edges up inside the fabric to the center line you just ironed. Iron it. 

Finally, take your other raw edge, fold it in to the center line, and iron it. 

If you unfold the center iron (the first one you did) the two raw edges should meet in the middle. The inside looks like this. And you will have bias tape!

Ta da!

Alternate Cutting

I don't know why, but I find this easier, even though it seems to take some more sewing. It really doesn't, and I don't have to mess with my scissors.
Marking lines to cut is optional here. I just take my ruler and rotary cutter, and measure and cut. Instead of ending up with one long strip, I have several small strips. 
I sew the edges of the strips together to get one long strip, and then proceed with the ironing. 

I think  I feel like it goes faster because you eliminate the marking step, and the scissors. I think the scissors just take longer than a rotary cutter does.

Finish Up

And there you have it! How I make bias binding. Stay tuned to see the finished item I used this binding on in a future post. 

Did you try this? How did it work out? Share you questions, comments, and PROJECTS with us! 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why I, a Mormon, Observe Lent

Lent is upon us again. Every year as this season comes around, I find myself examining my life and reflecting on what I should be giving up for Lent. And every year I do come up with something.

But, in our theology and practice, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints don't observe Lent. It's not a part of our religion at all. However, when I learned more about Lent, I decided that it was part of the good that could be brought, however informally, into our lives.

You see, Lent in it's most basic form is temporarily giving up something in order to draw closer to God.

In some cases you can use Lent as a kick start to give up a vice, such as smoking, that you would like to give up permanently. Or maybe you've noticed that you are spending too much time doing something that has potential to take over your life, so you want to break the habit before it gets out of control (such as playing video games).

I love the idea of taking some time to ponder my life (which I do a lot anyway). And take a specific focus on what I can do to become closer to God.

If you don't believe in God, you can take the opportunity to give up something or work on something to help you come closer to your true self, or be more in tune with nature, or to simplify your life. You can think of it as an update to New Year Resolutions as well. Only with Lent, you don't have to do it permanently, just for 40 days.

Need Ideas of What to Give Up?
Really it can be pretty much anything. One year I gave up naps, it nearly killed me too. Chocolate, sweets in general, is popular. I've known several people who give up their social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, as well. The nice thing is that it is personal! You pick whatever it is that you feel is holding you back personally, and give that up or work on improving it.

I hope that those of you out there who don't observe Lent have gained some insight into it, and will consider perhaps trying it out one year. You'd be surprised at the good it can do in your life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Stash Along March: Special

You Made IT!

February was a tough one, wasn't it? But you did it. You made it. You are amazing! If you want to, keep going with the Freeze. See if you can make it to 50 or 100 days. The longer you go, the more dependent you become on your stash, which in turn creates the habit of going to stash first instead of always heading to the store when you start a project. The more stash you use up the more space you will have in your house.

Now, the theme for March is Special. After having gone an entire month without adding to your stash, I hope that you are getting to know exactly what is in your stash, not just have a vague idea of what is in there. And this is part of the challenge this month.

You know you have it. A special skein, or special fabric, or special piece of paper. It's SPECIAL you have to have the perfect project for it. Or the 'right time' to use it.

Now is the time.

Take that Special piece, and use it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Jaq Rant: Co-Sleeping

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Recently a new mother asked for some advice online. Her baby is struggling to sleep and she received an abundance of advice. One thing I noticed was a recurring theme of people encouraging her to "Co-sleep" because it works miracles for their child.

Here's the deal, this mother is a friend of mine. And guess what? They already co-sleep!

But they don't bedshare. The advice she was receiving was to bedshare. And people were shaming her for not bedsharing. (I'm sure it was unintentional, but that's how it came across to me.)

What's the difference? Well, co-sleeping is, by current definition, sleeping in the same room as your child. Your child can be in their crib on the other side of the room, they can be in a co-sleeper, or when they get older they can be on a mat on the floor next to your bed. Doesn't matter, if they are in the same room you are co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is actually recommended by the American Acadamy of Pediatrics.

Bedsharing is exactly what it sounds like, sharing a bed with your child. It is a subset of co-sleeping, but it's not the type of co-sleeping I am comfortable with all of the time. And most of the mothers I know seem to agree, including my friend who asked for advice online.

Now, I'm not going to tell everyone to stop doing it because if it works for you then it works for you. However, this is the type of co-sleeping that most people, especially pediatricians and other professionals,  think of and advise against because it is dangerous for babies. This is because there are pillows and sheets and blankets on the bed and those are what pose a suffocation risk. Also, sometimes a parent will not wake up when they roll over onto a child, or the parent may rearrange pillows or blankets in their sleep in a way that is dangerous to the child in the bed with them.

If you don't bedshare, then what can you do? Besides just having the crib in your room there are co-sleepers. These are cribs that are designed to have a side drop down, and then the crib attaches to your bed. We used an Arm's Reach Mini Arc Co-Sleeper Bedside Bassinet, Natural, and I think it's wonderful. Why? Because Monkey was right there. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I could just stick my hand out and know that she is ok and breathing. I didn't have to get up and walk into another room when she cries, only to find out she's still dead asleep (and, yes, my child will scream-cry in her sleep) and I could have stayed in bed. And I don't think it's spoiling her for her to know that I am right there, that she falls asleep while staring at me. I think it's beneficial for her to know that Mommy is right there for her, and if for some reason Mommy isn't there, Daddy is there too.

Hard to see, but on the right side of the co-sleeper is our bed. Its right against it, so there is no gap between the two.
Also, Look at how little Monkey was! 
The moral of this story is to say what you mean, and make sure you know the actual meaning of the word you are using. (Princess Bride, anyone?)

To sum up:
Co-sleeping means the child is in the same room as you.
Bed Sharing means the child is in the same bed as you.


End of Jaq Rant