Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Make a Little Girl's Dress From a T-Shirt

 As you  know, we are planning a family trip to Disneyland.  When you have five young children, keeping track of everyone is a real issue.  My parents took our family to Disneyland when we were young and one of the tactics they used was matching shirts.  If we are all wearing the same shirt, we can train our eye to watch out for that shirt in the sea of people.  I have been on the lookout for matching shirts for several months with no success.  I could find shirts for all of the girls, but none for our teenage son or for my husband and I.  We're also trying to avoid using our entire Disney budget on shirts before we even leave (we're getting the five day pass).

Solution Part A: Vistaprint.  It was hard to beat the $4.50 price tag!  I uploaded a free Mickey picture and had the shirts printed and shipped for free.  To get the deal, I had to order all men's sizes.

Solution Part B:  Make the Men's T-shirt into a little dress (for the small girls) or a tunic (for the big girls).

It was so easy and could be made out of any adult tee.  Here is the tutorial!

Materials needed:  T-Shirt (this is an adult small), 7/8" ribbon, cord, and matching thread.

Lay out your t-shirt and measure a length of 7/8" ribbon--enough to wrap all of the way around the shirt plus a little extra.

To avoid fraying ends, fold over the ends of the ribbon and pin it in place.

Then, pin the whole ribbon on the shirt.  I left a gap between the ends of the ribbon because you will have a draw string tied there.  Make sure that you don't pin the front of the shirt to the back!

View from the back, pinned loosely in place.

Stitch one side in place, being careful to stay close to the edge of the ribbon.

Now, stitch the other side of the ribbon in the same way.  

You've just made a casing for your draw string.  Good job!  

On the ends of each ribbon, I stitched the opening so it was a little smaller.  This way, I can tie a knot on the ends of my draw string and it won't pull out as easily.  

Here is another view from inside the t-shirt.

Next up, pulling the t-shirt inside-out, put it on the cutest little girl you can find.  The neckline of the t-shirt was too big, so I put a couple of simple darts in the back.  Measure and pin . . .

and stitch it.  Try to make them the same.  If they don't end up same, fix her hair down when she wears this dress.

Okay, now that we have a waist and a collar that fits, lets do something about those ginormous sleeves.  Go pick a shirt that fits nicely from your daughter's drawer.  None of the seams are going to be the same.  Don't worry.  Line up the collar as closely as you can.

Here is another view.  Smooth out the two shirts so the tops of the sleeves are flush.

Use a crayon to trace the shirt that fits onto the soon-to-be dress.  Bump the crayon markings out just a bit for a seam allowance.

If your niece bought your daughter Minnie Mouse crayons for Christmas, use one of those.

Now, take a deep breath and cut.  I wanted the fullness of the shirt so the skirt could be full, but I didn't want baggy armpits.  That is so 1995.  I know 'cause that was when I graduated.  We were all about huge t-shirts in those days.  And waistbands that went around our waist.  But, I digress.  My point is that I took off much of the sleeve, then angled the bodice a bit.

Fold the shirt in half and cut it the exact same way on the other side.  Hem the sleeve and sew up the sides.  Do it in that order so you don't have to fight with trying to sew a super small arm hole in knit without stretching it.

This is what your garment should look like at this point.

Does it look like that?  I know there are a few things are aren't exactly perfect, but the waist will be cinched so you won't be able to see the little wobbles.

Finally, thread the cord through your ribbon casing and knot the ends.

Here it is on the little girl.  We will probably add leggings for our trip.

And here it is on the big girl.  The biggest difference between the tunic and the dress is how far down you put your draw string.

I still need a couple more matching shirts for the whole family and I have a couple more ideas on how to alter them.  The Michael's ad that came in Sunday's paper advertised t-shirts for $2.50 each.  I'll post the altered designs soon!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Paying Attention

I noticed my little girl making hash marks while the speaker was at the podium at church today.  I didn't think much about it.  I know I need to repent, but I do have to admit that I laughed out loud when she explained the reason for the marks.

She was keeping track of every time the speaker said, "Uh."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Still Happy Home Schooling

We were a lot late getting started with school after Christmas Vacation.  I have some good excuses, but the long and short of it is that I just didn't get it done.  One night, after I finally felt like I had my feet back under me, I proclaimed to the girls, "We are having school tomorrow!"

They cheered.

Preschool Cutting Practice

Sometimes I get really sick of teaching my kids.  There are some days when they do not want to learn.  There are days when the pressure from some people outside of my home feels too great.  There are days when I want to have only one child at home and let someone else take care of educating the older ones.  There are days when I would like my house to stay clean for a few minutes together.  Public school sounds really nice on those days.

But then, something will happen that will remind me how lucky I am (and how lucky the kids are) that I home school my children.

A few days ago, I was talking with the mother of an eight year old boy.  He hates to read.  He hates school. He fights homework.  He grumbles about everything school-related except recess.  Once you account for riding the bus, sitting at his desk, doing his homework, eating, and completing his required at-home reading, he has precious little time to play.  Why don't we let our children play anymore?  Isn't that one of the great benefits of our age?

The "big" girls were at the table, too, but the house behind them was too messy to show their picture.

Our one-room school leaves plenty of time to play--the whole afternoon, in fact.  (Of course they have their family work as well.)  So, even if we do someday opt for public education, I am glad that my children get to have the best of both worlds right now.

And I'm still happy to be home schooling so they can play.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Someday House Computer Nook

In my attempt to make sure I have a place for everything (so everything can be in its place), my next focus is on the computer/office area.  

As you know, the internet can be a dangerous place so the computer must be in plain site and in a busy area of the house.  I can't have a desk in my kitchen because I know me--it would be stacked shoulder high at all times with who-knows-what.  Our library will have outlets and a large table for research and study, but the nature of a library is not conducive to the scream-inducing activities of bill paying and website maintenance.  

My favorite solution is a nook in the living room.  

Since I will have a mail center in another part of the house and plan to have an organized office area, I am hopeful that I can make this a tidy, manageable place.  I'll have the filing cabinets there as well as all of the necessary "parts." 

It is for this reason that I like the idea of a curtain or closet doors that can be closed when the area is not in use.

Because, let's face it, computers have a lot of ugly parts (printer, blinking routers, and wires upon wires that never show up in magazine photos) that attract dust like a moth to the flame.  It would be lovely to be able to shut that away when needed.

As a woman of the computer age, I know this must be a planned space.  As much as it will be used, it can't be left to happenstance.  


Sunday, January 22, 2012

First Tooth

She lost her first tooth.  Is there anything cuter?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Don't Be Fooled

Generally, I like Newt.  Maybe not all of his ideas are great, but at least he has ideas.  However, I have a beef with precisely the thing his supporters are praising.

A few days ago, his second wife gave an interview with a news outlet.  She said many salacious things and all were timed to derail Newt's campaign.  I won't give total credence to the comments of a disgruntled ex.  One fact, however, is certain:  Newt is an adulterer.  And it was not just once, though that is enough to deserve the title.

Soon after the interview, there was a debate.  The moderator asked Newt if he would like to address the topic.  What he said may have been thought politically slick smart, but I'm afraid I saw right through his fiery response.  Here is the clip, if you care to watch.

So what is my beef?

It was not the moderator's fault that Newt committed adultery.  It is not the moderator's fault that Newt is running on a "family values" platform.

It is Newt's fault.

Maybe the media should stay out of the private life of politicians (I do partially agree with that).

Maybe the presidential debates should contain more of the issues of the state (I think the disintegration of the family is our most important national issue).

Maybe if more of the good people Newt claims won't run for office because of the blood-thirsty media really led the lives they claim to live, they couldn't be caught in scandals (I do believe our leaders should be held to a higher standard than the general population--at least up to the standards I have for myself).

Do people make mistakes?  Yes.  Is there such a thing as repentance?  Yes.  Do we still have to deal with the consequences of our sins even after we repent of them?  Yes.

Dear Mr. Gingrich,

Do not blame the consequences of your actions on someone else.


A Voter

Friday, January 20, 2012


I can't give you details.  Too many people read my blog (namely, my children) and it is meant to be a surprise.  But, I can tell you a bit without giving it away.  

We are doing a spy thing in Primary for the next few months.  We wanted to have our bulletin board reflect the activity.  Since it involves all of our Primary Children, we decided to take pictures of them spying.

Don't worry, it doesn't involve being a creepy spy!  It is church, after all!  I had a small pile of props and told the children to use them and to pose like they thought a spy would pose.  I really want to show you all of the children, but I didn't ask anyone's parents.  SO, I am showing you mine!  The kids were very inventive and the pictures turned out so cute.

Wouldn't you love to be caught choosing the right by these little spies?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

For Ariel

Today I am going to write a post about having an empty fridge right on the heels of a post about dream vacations all over the world.  Why?  Because that is the way life works.  When you have an empty fridge, you dream.  It is a survival mechanism.  Besides, this post is not for you, it is for my niece.  (Background:  she and her husband are newly-wed students, expecting their first baby.)

My Dear Ariel, 

You told me the other day that you were washing clothes in your bathtub because you didn't have any money for the laundromat.  My first reaction was that I wished I had $50 to stick in an envelope.  My second reaction was probably better:  I was grateful that you were washing your clothes in your bathtub.  

My husband has been in school for over six years now.  Last year, we didn't earn enough money to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (and that has a VERY low bar).  This was my fridge a couple of weeks ago--a few days before our student loan disbursement.

That is a lemon, jam, garlic (nearly gone), mayonnaise (nearly gone), yeast, one cube of margarine, a brick of cream cheese and condiments.
Don't you dare pity me.  I took this picture because I thought it was funny.  It looks like this for at least a couple of weeks before the end of every semester.  HOWEVER, not only did we not starve, we had good meals.  How is that possible?  Over the years, I have learned skills I never even could have thought up B.S. (before school).  And, even though I am sick to death of not having enough money, I would never trade these lean times.

That is the temporal tale.  The spiritual tale is more profound.

We have seen miracles.  I can tell you true stories, the likes of which you only read in the back of the Ensign.  I have witnessed fellow mortals respond to messages from heaven in angelic ways.  I've been humbled . . . again and again.  I have learned to value the command to pay a full tithe, I've learned how sincere prayer looks, and I have learned what it means to rely on my Savior.

So, while the mother in me would like to save you from your current fiscal crisis, the person I've become wouldn't think of stealing away this to-be-treasured part of your character.  While you are eating rice and beans that are still crunchy, don't think, "These are gross.  I can't live like this." Instead, think, "Next time I'll need to soak these a little longer."  Because during this time of without, you are becoming a woman with.

With all my love,

Aunt Emily

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Traveling with My Little Friends

One of my new friends in my new neck of the woods took her eleven year old daughter to France last year.  Just the two of them.  Amazing, right?  What is the story?  I have been wondering about this for a while and finally had the chance to ask her.

Here is a picture of the two of them.

She didn't post many pictures on her blog (probably because of creeps like me).  But as I was looking through them, don't laugh at me, I teared up.  What a beautiful experience to have together!  What a lasting memory, one of love and time alone.  No little sisters allowed.

Now, here again, writing about it and I'm crying.

Here's how it worked.  She and her husband had decided long before that they wanted to have an individualized vacation like this with each child and wanted to have the added bonus of an amazing cultural experience.  (Kind of like the Passport to Purity Weekend on steroids.)  They were supposed to go when her daughter was twelve, but when they discovered another baby was on his way (and knowing baby's can't be away from Mom for many months after the baby comes) they decided to go early.  She explained how they carefully build up airline miles and how she cuts out many other luxuries so she can afford to travel.  Good tips for another post.  Suffice it to say, they work hard to make travel a priority in their budget.

Guess what I did for much of the morning.

My oldest girl wants to go to Italy.  Okay by me!  Let's look into Italy!

Costco has these amazing packages.  I'll need a few years to save up, but she is still only ten.

My next daughter wants to go to Brazil.

South America?  :et's do it!  I'm so excited!

The reality is that we'll probably be following Isaac around the globe.  If I can take just one child with me each adventure, that will be amazing enough.  Got a Summer Intensive in Romania?

Well do a tour of the castles before we pick you up.  What about Vienna.

Twist my arm.

I know you have a great opportunity with the Danish Ballet.

I could possibly swing that, 

but only if I can bring one of your sisters.

Naughty, Funny Three

On her first day of Primary.
This child is currently making me crazy and delighting my soul.  What is it about the age of three that they can accomplish such a seemingly opposing feats?  She is a flurry of destruction:  If I've just carefully placed the books on their shelf with the spines flush, she will hurry over and toss the books haphazardly over her shoulder.  "Hmmm, not this one, not this one . . ."

If I give her a pile of folded socks to put away, she will undo all the sock balls and put them on to make a beefy layered cotton boot.  With her eyes rolled back, she sighs, "Oh, I these are so soft!"

Yesterday, she fell while doing something she shouldn't have been doing and was crying the hold-your-breath cry.  I ran to her and picked her up telling her quietly, "Breathe, honey.  You are turning blue."  Once she got control of herself, she opened her eyes really wide, trying to see around the tears, to inspect her hands.  "I'm not blue!"  Then, she laughed and laughed while the tears of hurt turned to tears of delight.

I don't know the mind of the Lord and she may be my last child.  She comes in to my bed during the night just about every night and it makes me so happy.  I love her warm, soft skin and the way she sandwiches her cold behind into my lower back.  I love her waking up in the morning with her cooing, "G'morning, mama."  I  know I can't let her get away with bad behavior, but I also know that I can't get too uptight about things that she'll grow out of.  She will eventually be four and many of the naughty things that make me pull out my hair now are things that I will miss.

When I am someday coloring with a box of unbroken crayons, I will long for my little trouble-maker to come and break them in two.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Someday House Game Room

I have lately been thinking about our Someday House Game Room and thought I would share my ideas with you.  

There has been an insurgence of Home Theaters in the past few years.  They usually have a huge TV (or projector), a popcorn machine, and rows of chairs--on risers.  Like this:

I am tempted by such a room.  It would be super cool to have such a set-up.  Seating would be comfortable, everyone would be able to see, and the audio/visual would be fantastic.  The problem with such a room is its lack of versatility.  You would use it to watch movies.  Period.  There isn't enough room in front of the chairs to play video games, you can't easily rearrange furniture for some other activity and you probably wouldn't even end up watch "regular" television in here because you wouldn't want to use up expensive projector bulb time.  So, I have decided to branch out.

Our game room would have two distinct areas:  TV and Gaming.

First, the viewing area.  I don't really know anything about televisions, so I'm not super passionate about what kind of this or that to buy.  I know I'd like a good sound system (but not a million dollar system), a rather large screen, and plentiful, comfortable seating.  I also want the windows to be carefully placed so we aren't fighting the glare, since summer afternoons are the best time to sit in the cool basement to watch a movie.  

As for seating, the stadium seats aren't the best idea for our family.  I think I'd go with something like this:

or this:

Room to lay down and cuddle up or sufficient space for many behinds.  I especially love the round, though I'd take out a couple of those sections so we could "Just Dance" in front of it.  

The other side of the room would house one of these:
because I can't play pool, foosball, or air hockey.  We would get (make) a folding version so we could do other things with that space--tape out hopscotch or spread out Twister, for example.  

We love board games and card games, but the kitchen table isn't always the best place to play.  A square table is usually best so I'd go with card tables.  BUT, card tables aren't quite big enough.  If you have your Monopoly board spread out, there is barely room for your money and forget trying to spread out your properties for easy viewing.  I would custom make card tables that add about four inches to each side.  Two of them, so if we wanted to play a game involving more than four people, we could push the tables together and lay down a felt tablecloth to cover the crack between.

How about storage for those scores of games and movies and blankets?

I propose two closets that are the size of mini-pantries.  Double doors open up to carefully placed shelves.  The most important feature?  These closets will be locked.

Carpeted floor.  NO wet bar, though the popcorn machine (or better yet, a microwave with a case of popcorn next to it) would be welcome.  Most of the room will be bright and fun, but the viewing  area will be a darker corner.

What else?  What would you have in your basement game room?