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183 In Life/ Sewing


Good Tuesday morning!

I’ve had about 3 sips of coffee, slept longer than I wanted too, need to shower and need get the girls to preschool sooner than later which means this will be short.

A few weeks ago I spotted Emerson’s Seersucker & Brass Dress online & loved it… even pinned it on Pinterest. The stripes, the buttons, the pockets… just a wonderful combination. But there was one slight problem… $218 + shipping. Not exactly a budget-friendly dress, not exactly a purchase that I could justify in any way, shape or form.

Then I found this one online… at by my long-standing favorite Walmart designer, Norma Kamali. It was $18 when I bought it {with $.97 shipping} a little more justifiable. I bought it in the color “Mattress Tick” and when it arrived, I loved it. The color of the ticking stripe is very nondescript, kind of grayish black. I’ve spoken highly in the past of Norma Kamali and her clothing {and swimwear} line at Walmart. I have a skirt by her that it is the softest cotton I’ve ever felt… I’d put money on it being pima… and I’d put money on this dress being pima cotton too, if it’s not, it sure feels like it.

Ok, so I loved everything about it… the pockets, the fit, the color, the feel but there was one thing that needed a little switch-er-oo in my opinion. The buttons…


… they left much to be desire and most certainly made it very average… very $18.

So I hopped on the trusty internet and bought some brass buttons {like Emersons} from Benno’s Buttons in Dallas, TX.


I sat outside with my scissors & thread while the kids played and sewed 7 new buttons to my $18 dress and it took me about 5 minutes to realize it was going to be a good thing.


And when I was all finished up…


And then on Friday the kids and I went to the lake for the day with friends. I sprayed sunscreen on my face & hair, came home, looking very sweaty and nasty and decided it would be a good idea to take a picture of myself in my renovated dress, which is why I am simply a headless woman in these photographs. Justin called in the middle of this, asking if I could order some Mexican food for dinner and made the comment that I seemed a little distracted. I didn’t have the heart to explain that I was posing in front of the mirror photographing myself while Eufaby {our beloved dog} looked on in complete confusion. So for the sake of taking a really good bargain and making it look better here are pictures of me in the dress all finished up…



I think I may even like it better than Emerson’s because it is cleavage free and I don’t feel like I need a cardigan to wear it in public. 🙂

51 In Recipes/ Sewing

A Few Ideas from the Archives

Are you in the mood to create a few Christmas presents? If you’ve been around for a few years, this may very well be “old material” but if you’re new, or forgetful, hopefully this will be helpful for you in your last minute attempt to pull together some gift ideas for Christmas! Click on the recipe/tutorial names to be linked to posts about each! {Some of these tutorials are my own, others are ones that I tried & loved… all sources noted or linked to!}

First a few ideas from the kitchen…


Was a big hit last year…


And, if you really love the person you’re giving it to, you may want to include a loaf of…


So they can toast it and lather it up with Cinnamon Honey Butter!

finished loaves

This isn’t necessarily something you may want to do for Christmas, but consider it a reminder to buy little candy canes now {in December} to put away {in a place your kids can’t find} until February because you can’t find them in February!

choc cup7

::Icebox Cake::

This one is from WAY back but a super simple and DELICIOUS cake that you can make for a gathering or to give away. It’s a brainless, no-bake, really delicious cake that will make your guests/recipients ask you for the recipe!! The Nabisco Famous Chocolate wafers can be hard to find {Publix sells them with the ice cream toppings/cones} but worth the search. The cookies become soft and spongy when they absorb the whipped cream and the combination is dangerous!

Icebox Cake

Now, if you’d rather sit behind a sewing machine… here are few ideas for you!!

::Coffee Cozy by Erin Harris::

Last year I tucked gift cards in to-go coffee cups wrapped in a cozy! I also wrapped cookbooks in dishmats…



This little gem is a permanent fixture on the counter above my dishwasher. It is basically a little quilt for dishes that are drying {because my dishes rarely come out of the dishwasher completely dry}. The top side is pieced & top stitched with fun fabrics and the back is terrycloth for absorption. There may just be a dozen of these headed to the t-shirt shop so stay tuned!


::Pleated Apron::

For a while this link was down {my apologies} but now it’s up and running and an easy sewing project!



This little rice bag is my best friend. I use it every night in the winter! Three minutes in the microwave and then I tuck it in the bed before I crawl in. It’s  also wonderful to use for aches and pains! And… easy & inexpensive to make using rice & fabric scraps!!



This is an easy, no-sew project, for the little ones in your life. Using stamps {from the $1 rack at Michael’s} and a little fabric paint you can create cute & easy little onesies for the rovers in your life!



Super easy, super fun…



Last year I gave Sloane the sock rabbit above and did a little hand stitching on a soft gown… another easy way to transform something basic! I don’t have a tutorial for this one, I used a washable fabric marker to draw my design then stitched it out by hand using basic stitches and a back stitch for the grass! This is a great site for the wide variety of hand stitches!


This is another oldie…


This is my Community Bible Study bag and I love it; super sturdy with gusseted bottom, cute, and easy to make!



This is the tutorial I did last month for Edie. It’s recent and you probably remember it but I thought it would be helpful to include it in this post!



Ok rovers, hope that was helpful! Happy making! See you real soon with one more idea!

76 In Life/ Sewing

Some Stuff & a Picnic Blanket {tutorial}

Hello rovers! I’m back for the 3rd time this week with a few randoms and a tutorial for a picnic blanket! The Rover was my faithful assistant throughout the project below and was told numerous times, “Do not step on Mommy’s blanket… please!” He looks so innocent doesn’t he?


Can I tell you how excited I am that Help Wad is coming up  today and together we are road tripping it up to our old stomping grounds for the BIG Auburn/Georgia game this weekend… War Eagle! my Auburn friends! We are hoping to cheer the tigers on to another BIG win. We are also meeting up with a whole slew of our pledge sisters that we haven’t seen in almost 9 years a long time! I was going to print us some really cool shirts that said, “We’re older than we think we are!” but decided not to because who wants to give away the fact that we really are older than we think we are. We all  graduated last semester, right girls?! We may be reminded of just how old we are when we see the young co-eds running around campus in their game-day dresses. Anyway, I cannot wait to see my sweet friends and catch up. I seriously could almost tear up because my time at Auburn was so wonderful and they are all so precious to me… I used to be a baby hoot and now I’m blogging about how to make picnic blankets… maybe I really am older than I think I am! At least I don’t own “mom jeans”… yet!

A few matters to discuss before jumping into the picnic blanket tutorial…

A couple of you asked about Paige’s fuzzy fleece pullover… we love it! It’s from Land’s End and you can find it here on BIG TIME SALE For $14.99  in this year’s colors.

Next I’ve updated the inventory in the shop. I always set aside a handful of tees in the event of exchanges or for locals and I’ve now added those to the online inventory. The new CHRISTMAS designs and more long sleeved options should be in no later than NEXT WEDNESDAY! Anything ordered today through the weekend will ship priority mail on Monday!


As I mentioned a couple days ago, I’m taking part in Edie’s 12 days of Handmade Tutorials TODAY… and posting my tutorial for a PICNIC BLANKET both here & THERE! She’s had 11 wonderful days of great handmade Christmas ideas, be sure to check them out! If you don’t read Edie’s blog, you should. She’s sweet, smart, humble, and such an encouragement to me. If I lived anywhere near her I’d love for her to  mentor me, as we are theologically like-minded and I imagine we can throw down some coffee and crank out some crafts… all while her sweet girls watch my rovers! 🙂  Since I unfortunately live far from Edie, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to check in with her via her blog and glean what I can from her Life in Grace.

Copy of darbydoll2
When Edie asked me to contribute I knew I wanted to make something using the vintage Marimekko curtain panels that I found at a thrift store over a year ago {for $4} I just wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with them. First I planned to make a “Santa Bag” out of them to put the kids Christmas presents in, but it saddened me to think about seeing the bright colored trains only once a year… so something more “useful” was definitely in order, and that is how I came up with this. It would make a perfect gift for your own family or for loved ones!


Here’s a little disclaimer before I begin. I had a friend here while I worked one day {and I just might have put her to work too,  trimming selvages and fusing the fleece to the fabric} and she asked, “Darby, please tell me you are not going to tell your blog readers this is easy?” Well, because she’ll call me out if I tell y’all this is easy… I better say it’s an intermediate sewing project that might require a babysitter or helpful husband to watch the kids. There are really no difficult sewing techniques required, it is just a little involved time wise. That way no one cusses me when they think they can crank out a picnic blanket in 30 minutes! Ok, good.

The finished blanket is really BIG {88″ wide x 63″ tall} and perfect for picnics. It has a top layer {trains for me}, a layer of fusible fleece in the middle, and a sturdy layer of {fun & blue} ticking stripe on the bottom and is complete with coordinating ties so it’s easy to transport to and from your favorite picnic spot. You may choose what ever fabric you like but I do suggest something a little more stable {like a lightweight canvas, ticking stripe, or upholstery weight for the bottom}. Be sure to watch sales at your fabric stores because the ticking stripe was 1/2 off and I bought nearly 4 yards for just $16!


Before I start: PINS ladies PINS… they make your sewing neater and easier {especially with layers}… so please don’t omit them! 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

3.5 yards of 44″ wide fabric for the top of the blanket {I used trains}

3.5 yards of 44″ wide fabric for the bottom of the blanket {I used blue ticking stripe}

1/4 yard of 44″ wide fabric for coordinating ties {I used red gingham}

3.5 yards of 44″ wide fusible fleece

1: prewash and dry all fabric and trim off selvages
2: Measure down 63 inches on the top piece of fabric and cut all the way across the width. This will leave you with 2 pieces of fabric 63″ x 44″. Do the same with the bottom piece of fabric.
3: Take the two top pieces of fabric and place them on top of each other with right sides together {doing your best to match up any pattern that might be on your fabric, which also might require you to trim the tops and bottoms once you’re all lined up}. Using straight pins pin down one of the {63″} sides {right or left side it doesn’t matter, just don’t stitch along the top or bottom} and straight stitch. Press seam open.
top panel
4: Repeat step 3 for the bottom piece of fabric, doing your best to line up any pattern the fabric may have.
5: Now you should have two pieces of fabric that measure 63″ x 88″, one will be your top and one will be your bottom.
6: Following the instructions on the fusible fleece, iron the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the bottom fabric.
fusible fleece1
7: Lay the fused bottom fabric and top fabric right sides together– don’t pin and stitch yet… you need to make and insert your ties!

rightsides together

8: To make your ties: First, trim off the selvages on the end. Cut 2 pieces of fabric 4″ x 44″. Fold in half and press. Fold the top down towards your center crease about 3/4″ and press and then press the bottom up 3/4″ and then fold in half again and press. Tuck both ends under and pin all the way down the length of the tie and stitch completely around… both ends should be finished because you will fold your long ties in half when tucked into the blanket seam.
end of ties
9: Place your ties {folded in half} between the layers of the blanket on the top right hand corner of your fabric measuring down 4.5″ and then place the second folded ties 10.5″ down from the top.

10: Pin the ties in place {they should be lying inside the blanket and the folded edges lined up with the outer edge of the blanket layers}.

11: Pin all the way around the entire blanket, leaving a 5 inch space {for an opening to pull the blanket through on one side} on one side.

12: Using a straight stitch and 1/2″ seam allowance {and a WALKING FOOT if you have one} stitch around the entire blanket {don’t forget to leave an opening to pull it through!!}

13: Trim off corners and cut seam allowances down to 1/4″, pull through opening in side. Now that you’re right side out press all the way around, pinning as you go.

14: Using about a 3/8″ seam allowance top stitch around the entire blanket.

15: Hand or machine stitch the opening where you pulled through because it will gape a little at the edge.

16: Now you will need to tack or tie your layers together. You cannot quilt it at this point so do not attempt to sew straight line stitches through the layers… even with a lot of pins and a walking foot… it is nearly impossible. You will want to place LOTS of safety pins {safety, not straight… they’ll poke you to death, I know because I tried} all over your blanket {being sure to pin all 3 layers together}.

17:  Next, before tacking/tying the quilt together I stitched in the ditch down the center seam, this gives you good stability before you tack/tie the rest.
stitch in center ditch

18: My machine has a little “eyelet” stitch that is perfect for tacking layers together. You can also tie your blanket layers together at this point if you do not wish to machine tack it together. I put an eyelet stitch in each wheel on the trains {and yes, it took a long time but I am very pleased with how it came out}. If you use a floral fabric or something with a pattern you might can outline random flowers with a straight stitch or use a stitch similar to the eyelet to tack the layers together. Once it’s all tacked together you are complete and ready for your picnic!


Here are more images of how to fold/roll the blanket up!






Happy Weekend!!!!! And War Eagle!!!!