Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jeans, Bucket Hat, and Skorts (with a baby cakes tutorial)

The more we talk about and think through what we're going to cram into the car when we move, the more I'm realizing that we're going to be leaving 99% of our stuff behind.  And included in that 99% will be a lot of the clothes in my stash for making other stuff out of.  I've gotten all this stuff for free, but I'd still like to use it if I can. 

So, in an effort to use up as much of it as possible and make some great summer clothes for Olivia, I've started cranking out some fun new things.  Yesterday's projects: jeans, bucket hat, skorts.  (Yes, spell check and Bryan, skorts is a real word.)

These basic little jeans are made from a much bigger pair of jeans (that I picked up for free--woot woot!) and Dana's Flat Front Pants tutorial and pattern.  I shortened the length a little, but left everything else the same.  I love the way these turned out.  Such a quick, simple sew.

And I added one of my little tags to the back.  I got out of the habit and I keep forgetting to do that lately.

You can find my tutorial for how to make your own stamps and printed labels HERE.

Next up, this sweet and simple bucket hat.  I used the pattern and directions in this awesome book(Which, by the way, cost me something like $16.50 when I bought it.  Not sure why it's up to $40 now.  I'm sure you can find it cheaper elsewhere.)  I basically want to make every single thing in the book.

This hat is made from an old pair of white denim shorts (that I somehow got a blue pen mark on) and lined with a (stained) pink skirt.  I wasn't kidding when I said I'm trying to use up the stash.

Despite all the impressive topstitching, this hat was super easy to make.  And I think it would be even easier if it was made of knit (i.e. old t-shirts).  There just may be another in the near future.  But how many hats does one little girl need?

And of course this little beauty got a tag slapped on it too.  How could I resist?

And lest you think I'm all-boring-all-the-time, the inside is bright pink.  :)  And since the hat is completely reversible, this means that Olivia now has a white hat and a bright pink hat.  Jawsome.

The lining of the crown was supposed to be hand-stitched in.  Uhh... like that was gonna happen.  I just skipped the hand stitching and went straight to the topstitching.  Then I went back and sewed another row of stitching right on the very edge to make it look a little more profi (that's my husband's family's word for "professional").  It came out a little on the crazy side, but I actually really like it.

One cute hat for the Bolivia?  Check.

Last up are these super-easy little skorts.

Skirt on top (inspired by this easy skirt)...

...shorts underneath!  

There's no way Olivia's going to keep her skirt nicely in place, so this will keep her from being inapropos all summer.

No, I'm not going to write a whole tutorial.  It's so easy.

Just do this:
  • Cut off the bottom of a shirt or tank top. (This will be your skirt piece.)
  • Fold the top (raw) edge over about an 1" and iron.
  • Use Rae's (free) Newborn Pants pattern and tutorial (but don't cut the full length of the pants--make them shorter so they'll be shorts) to make your little shorts, but DON'T finish off the top of the shorts.
  • Stuff the top (raw) edge of your shorts under the fold at the top of your skirt piece and pin in place.
  • Sew a zigzag stitch around the top to keep that folded edge (and the top of the shorts) in place, but leave an opening about an 1" wide.
  • Thread your elastic through the casing and sew the elastic ends together.
  • Sew the opening shut.
  • And you're done!  You now have skorts.  Ta-da!  Congratulations.  :)

They're so fast and easy (not to mention made of free materials) I think I might have to make twelve more.  And I think they should be pretty fun and comfy for Olivia.

So... that's what I made for Olivia yesterday!  
We'll see what today brings!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet Pincushion and Needle Book

After sharing yesterday about some of the products I've received from sponsors I just have to show you this sweet little pincushion and needle book set that my wonderful sponsor Resurrected Threads sent me. 

Resurrected Threads specializes in transforming reclaimed textiles into wonderful children's clothing and other fun items.  And this sweet set is no exception!

Made from recycled wool felt, this little set is durable and eco-friendly.  And unlike most needle books, because this wool felt is nice and thick you can store needles on both sides of each page!

And even though I'm not much of a pincushion girl myself, I am kind of ridiculously in love with this flower pincushion.  Do you think I could pull it off as a bracelet?  :)  Please say yes.

You can find these wonderful pincushion and needle book 
sets (as well as other great repurposed items) in the


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Basic Bag, Cute String, and A Question

This post may seem a little random, but--trust me--it will all come together.  At least in my head it does.  It's kind of another one of those "one thing leads to another" things.  Just bare with me...

So last week I had a fun customer order several buttons.  Yay!  But you know how I am about packing things up cute.  It's a fetish.  And because this customer ordered so many buttons (yay again!) I couldn't package them up like I usually do.  So I decided I'd make a quick and simple drawstring bag to keep her order together while it traveled through the mail.

Because I'm obsessed awesome I wanted the bag to coordinate with the buttons, so I went for this pretty solid blue.  But then I realized I didn't have any drawstrings or ribbon to match.  I was in a bit of a time crunch and wasn't in the mood to turn tiny, skinny little strips inside out, but I was at a loss for what else to do.

Well, that was until I spotted these little lovelies.  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

This sweet combination of mini toadstool spools and baker's twine 
came from my newest sponsor

When the package first arrived I was so excited about how wonderful they were packaged up and how cute each little spool was... that I was afraid to cut into any of it.  Doesn't that always seem to be the case with favorite supplies?  So it's been sitting on my window sill above my sewing machine looking pretty and making me happy while I worked up the courage to cut some off.

This bag was the perfect project to finally make the plunge!  Since the bag is so small it didn't require a lot of the twine, but I really think this sweet color combo really brings the little drawstring bag to a whole new level of coolness.

And the baker's twine turned out to be especially wonderful to use as drawstrings because it's such skinny string that I didn't have to make a very wide casing!  But--unlike a lot of string that's this skinny--I think it will still hold up well over time.

If you're looking for some of this sweet baker's twine (and the adorable spools they come on) you can purchase the full mini set HERE or you can purchase the individual mini ones HERE

And in case you're wondering, I used the tealish color for the drawstring on the little blue bag I made.

Aren't these spools just the sweetest? 

I love my Wee Toadstool Spool set, but if you're looking for a little more, you can also find the larger versions in the Wee Waldorf SHOP.

Best of luck resisting that temptation.  :)

Ok, back to the bag and on to my question...

I made this little blue drawstring bag similar to the way I made the Mittens & Cocoa Drawstring Bag.  And the main part of what makes these drawstring bags so quick and easy is the fact that the raw edges are just finished with a zigzag stitch.  (As opposed to lining the bag or using another method that would hide all of the raw edges.)

Now this method works fine with a zigzag stitch... but you know what it works even better with?  A serger.  I've been day dreaming about having a serger for some time now.  And it looks like it's still going to be quite a while until I actually have one, but I'm getting more serious about saving for one. 

Uhh... which has led me to realize all over again that I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to sergers.  I know that some styles and brands are better than others, but I don't really know what style or brand would be good for me.  I don't think I need one that's industrial strength since I would just be using it for myself and my little business.  So I feel like I don't need to buy one that's super duper expensive.  But, on the other hand, I don't want to waste my money on a cheap one that won't work very well either.

Do you have a serger?  Do you have suggestions for me? 

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Host a Successful Yard Sale (and free yard sale sign printable!)

Word has gotten out pretty quickly that Bryan and I have decided to move with only what will fit in our car.  Everybody has different reactions to this news, but a lot of you have asked about how exactly we plan to do this.  So I'll try and post about the process a little at a time, but today I thought I'd focus on how to successfully host a yard sale.

Edited to add: Be sure to check out the new post too!  Yard Sale Tips From A Seasoned Pro

I'm certainly no expert, but I have participated in several yard sales over the past few years and I've learned a lot along the way!  Ready?  Let's jump right in!

The best thing you can do to ensure yard sale success is to let people know you're having one! 

Like any kind of business, nobody is going to buy your stuff if they don't know it's available.  Where should you advertise?  Here are a few ideas...

Actual posters: 
  • around your neighborhood
  • community news boards (like at the grocery store or city buildings)
  • local laundry facilities
  • places you've seen other yard sale signs around town 
Of course, always be sure to get permission before putting up your posters.

  • Craigslist (they have a "yard sale" section you can post under)
  • online classifieds (the large news station in our area has free online classifieds that we've found useful)
  • Facebook (Don't be shy about telling your friends.  It's a great chance to visit and pass your stuff on to people you know and like!)
Of course, always be careful about posting your address online.  I personally feel okay about posting an address in the "yard sale" sections in online classifieds, but I wouldn't put my address on Facebook.  Just my personal preference.

Direct People to the Sale
Make sure the people who want to buy your stuff can get to it!

We've all had it happen.  You see a yard sale sign out on a main road and think, "Sweet!"  So you head off in the direction the arrow is pointing... only to find there are no more signs directing you there.  Bummer, right?

Make sure this doesn't happen to your potential customers by clearly directing them to your yard sale.  Put your address and the date and time of the yard sale on every sign and--if possible--put up a new sign at every turn so your customers don't get lost.

Then, when the sale is over, be sure to go around town and take down ALL of the signs you put up.  It's no fun to go looking for a yard sale that's already over.

Make Time for Price Tags
Yes, it does take a loooong time, but putting price tags on every item will be well worth your time.

Some people are great at haggling prices... but most aren't.  The majority of the people who come to yard sales love a good deal, but they're shy about asking how much something is and they don't want to make an offer without knowing how much you want for it first.  Not to mention the fact that it takes forever to have to walk up to the owner and ask, "How much for this?" about every single item.

So take a day (or two or three) before the big sale to tag every item with the price you'd hope to sell it for.  A lot of people will just pay sticker price which means both you and your customer are satisfied with the sale.  And if someone does want to negotiate prices, they at least have a starting point.

A note about the actual price tag sticker:
Be thoughtful about how you're marking your items.  I personally think that those typical circle florescent-colored "price tag" stickers you can buy at the grocery store are terrible.  They never come off!  It's not nice to sell stuff to people with a big ugly sticker permanently stuck to it.

I prefer using brightly-colored sticky notes, cut into smaller strips.  This method is cheap, sticks to the items, but still comes off without leaving a mark.  Be sure to use a black marker to write the prices on your sticky notes.  A regular ball point pen or pencil won't attract buyers to your items.

Sort Your Stuff
Looking through stuff at a yard sale can be a bit of a process.  Make it easy for your customers to find what they're looking for by organizing the things you're selling based on categories and price range.

Here's a list of categories to start from as you do your sorting:
  • kitchen
  • living room
  • bedroom
  • bathroom
  • kid stuff
  • books
  • clothes
  • camping supplies
  • hobby supplies
  • misc.
When you're setting up your yard sale, designate an area for each category.  Within categories, group like-items together.  Where applicable, you can save yourself a lot of time by labeling boxes something like, "Kitchen Utensils--50 cents per item unless otherwise marked."  This will save your shoppers from having to look at ten million price tags... and it will save you from having to write them!

This method also works well for clothes.  For instance, when pricing baby clothes I label the boxes by size and price by saying something like, "0-3 months--50 cents each unless otherwise marked."  This keeps the pricing simple and lets shoppers easily find the size of clothes that will actually fit their kid.  On the items you do feel are worth a little more, just write the price on a tag and keep it in place with a straight pin.

Be A Good Salesperson
The goal here is to be available, helpful, and friendly.

The majority of people who come to yard sales do it as much as a hobby or a fun shopping experience as a way to buy things at bargain prices.  So be sure to let your customers feel comfortable taking their time as they peruse your goods.

Help your customers feel welcome to browse by playing some fun background music and by keeping yourself busy.  I personally don't recommend reading a book while customers are actually there looking at things since this can deter customers from asking whatever questions they may have.  Greet your guests when they arrive and let them know if there are any general announcements you need to pass on (such as, "Feel free to make an offer if you see something you like!") and then back off and let them look.

Some good ways to keep yourself occupied are to re-sort items that other customers have mixed up, tidy up piles, or catch a quick drink of water.  Little "errands" like these will keep you available to your customers while giving them their space while they shop.  And--again--if you're feeling the weight of that awkward silence when there are only one or two customers around, remember to turn on some fun background music!

Oh, and I just have to add this last note about being a good salesperson: make sure to have change!  The amount of change you should have on hand depends on how much you're selling and what price you're selling things for, but it's generally a good idea to have lots of $5 and $1 bills as well as a roll of quarters.  And, when in doubt, go for having too much change rather than not enough.

Printable Yard Sale Posters (FREE!)
Download and print some of these fill-in-the-blank yard sale posters to help make your own yard sale a smashing success!

Just click on the image below to download the free Yard Sale posters!
  • Page 1 is a full-page poster
  • Page 2 is 4 smaller posters that are great for putting up around an apartment complex or handing out to family and friends.

Terms of use:  For personal use only.  Thanks!

Yard Sale Printable Copyright Katie Lewis Notes From a Very Red Kitchen 2011

Best of luck selling all of your treasures!

Have more great yard sale advice to add?  Leave it in the comments so everyone can see it!


Shapes Flashcards

are now available in THE SHOP

Sunday, March 27, 2011

As thy days may demand, So thy succor shall be

I know that not all who read my blog are mothers, but many of you are.  My heart goes out to you.  And I was thinking about you and of myself as a mother today at church when we sang the hymn "How Firm A Foundation."  This hymn always touches me.  But today as we sang it, a line that I have sung a hundred times before stood out to me differently. 

The line comes at the end of the second verse and it reads, "As thy days may demand, so they succor shall be."  I had never thought much about the line before, but today when I saw it my thoughts immediately turned to motherhood. 

I have a firm testimony that motherhood is a divine calling.  Since my daughter was born I have had countless experiences that have strengthened that testimony.  Perhaps of those experiences, the most easy to recall are all of times when she's been upset or fussy or on the verge of danger and the Spirit has whispered to me a word of counsel, advice, or warning. 

How many times I've held my crying daughter in my arms, utterly unsure of how to help her, and then had the Spirit whisper to me something like, "Maybe her teeth are hurting," I have no idea.  And then, of course, the moment we get the medicine to help her teeth feel better, the crying lessens and before long the peace and calm of a happy or sleeping daughter returns. 

Nor could I count the number of times I've been busy doing something in the kitchen, not worried about and not paying attention to what she was up to in the other room and then--always out of nowhere--the Spirit warns me, "Go to her."  On more than one occasion I've found my daughter standing on the ledge inside her closet or on top of the little table in her room, on the verge of danger and waiting to be rescued.

These experiences build my faith and encourage me to be a better mother.  But there are other encouraging, faith-building motherhood experiences which also touch my heart and bless my life.  I think they come most often on the days that seem the worst.  The days when Olivia has been crying or fussing constantly.  The days when I'm just too tired.  The days when everything I try to do fails.  The days when--if there were a way out--I'd take it.  Just hand my daughter off to a babysitter and take the rest of the day off.  But of course, as mothers, we rarely get the day off.  And so, somehow, we must find a way to make it through.

It is my quiet, simple testimony that Heavenly Father is always there to help us on those days.  When we feel like yelling he can soften our hearts and help us have peace.  When we're overly tired he can bless us with the energy to go on.  And when we truly can't go on he always has a way of sending relief. 

To every mother who has ever felt overwhelmed I say, hang in there.  You are doing the work of the Lord.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another 90 Min Shirt

Some people are great at trying new things.  They like the thrill, I guess.  Or maybe they just like the variety.  I am not really one of those people.  Especially when it comes to things I have to make my own pattern for.  So do I complain about the fact that I can still use the 12 month size pattern I made (back when Olivia wasn't even 12 months yet) and have the shirts still fit her?  Absolutely not.

Cooperative toddlers make for excellent photo shoots, no?

Since the pattern was already made (though, I admit, I should have lengthened the shirt a little--oh well), this shirt came together super quickly.  I love the soft, stretchy knit it's made of.  I've made a handful of these 90 Min Shirts using Dana's wonderful tutorial and I've learned a few things along the way. 

Uhh... just ignore all of our great junk props in the background.

One of the things I've learned is that they seem to turn out best when I use higher quality knits.  Girls Camp and sports team t-shirts found at the thrift store don't have quite the same wear to them.  And they don't do as well getting over Olivia's fatty head.  (Sorry kid, it's true.)  So I've learned that it's a better use of my time and materials to just use the higher-quality knits.  And, of course, this has the double bonus of meaning that the shirts are generally made from cooler, trendier fabric too.

Of course, it seems ridiculous to cut up a perfectly nice, high-quality, soft and stretchy t-shirt just to make another t-shirt for a little kid.  But that depends on where you get your materials from. 

  • Buying them brand new off the rack: Bad deal
  • Buying them cheap from the thrift store: Okay deal
  • Getting them free from your friends:  --Ding!  Ding!  Ding!--  Awesome deal 

Adorable bow from Wendy & Peter
Which is why I got so excited when my friend told me "I have a bunch of clothes I'm getting rid of.  I know you make stuff out of old clothes a lot, so if you want I'll let you look through them before I give them away to other people." 

This, my friends, is a great example of an awesome friend.  You had better believe I took her up on her offer in a heartbeat.  And then proceeded to hoard more than half of the stuff she brought over to make shirts (and panties) for Olivia. 

If you want to have awesome friends like that too, don't be shy about telling people you'd love to take old clothes off their hands when they get rid of them.  It's cool to be eco-friendly these days.  And even if your friends aren't super eco-friendly themselves, they'll probably feel good knowing that their clothes will continue to get some good use out of them.

Can't get enough of these pigtails.

Well, I'm out!  
Have a great day everyone!

Check out these posts to see more 90 Min Shirts I've made:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You asked for it: Alphabet Flashcards PDF

Recently one of you wonderful readers/customers slipped me a note asking if I'd be adding Alphabet Flashcards in the shop anytime soon.  So, after I won't tell you how many hours a few hours at the computer, I now present...

Alphabet Flashcards PDF
Available in THE SHOP

I'll spare you the post I was going to write entitled "The Anatomy of Great Alphabet Flashcards" since I think I beat that to death in THIS POST and just say a few quick things about why I as a mother and a former preschool teacher think these Alphabet Flashcards are great.

Lowercase Letters
Kids see uppercase letters all the time and, because they're easier to distinguish between (D, P, and Q are much easier to recognize than d, p, and q), they learn uppercase letters faster.  But most of what we read are lowercase letters and that's what kids need more exposure to.  This set includes a full set of uppercase letters as well as a full set of lowercase letters.

Uppercase and Lowercase Letters Match
I waffled back and forth a bit on whether to print all the letters in black or to give them some color.  In the end, I decided that if plain black letters were too boring for me, they'd probably be too boring for any kid I know.  So this alphabet is in full color and each letter has its own color.  But to help kids recognize that "A" has the same name and makes the same sound as "a," both the uppercase and the lowercase of each letter are printed in the same color.

Punctuation Included
Just as Number Flashcards can only take you so far without the symbols used in math equations, Alphabet Flashcards won't take you very far without punctuation symbols.  This set includes 13 common punctuation symbols (see the product listing for a complete list) to aide in beginning sentence structure.  This opens up a whole world of uses to you that regular store-bought alphabet flashcards don't offer.

Why Change A Great Thing?
This set of Alphabet Flashcards share the following wonderful qualities with the Number Flashcards you've all been loving:
  • Both the Number and Alphabet Flashcards feature clean, colorful, classic design that will help your kids focus on the actual letters or numbers.   The whole idea of "A is for apple, B is for bear, C is for cat," etc. is fun, but it's often too distracting for little minds.
  • A full LARGE set and a full MINI set of each uppercase and lowercase letters and all 13 common punctuation sign are included in the PDF
  • The LARGE and MINI Alphabet Flashcards are the exact same sizes as the Number Flashcards, so you can store them together easily
  • Because you can print off as many as you like (for personal use only), you can have multiples of the same letter in case one goes missing, or--you know--in case you want to actually spell a word with more than one of the same letter!
  • To help make sure there's always a set available in the shop, I've put up two listings.  But if you happen to visit the shop during one of those rare moments when I haven't re-listed the Alphabet Flashcards PDF fast enough, feel free to send me an e-mail or a convo on etsy to let me know you'd like to purchase a set and I'll contact you when it's up in the shop again so you don't have to keep checking back.
  • And, of course, they're the same great price!

Again, both the Number Flashcards and the new Alphabet Flashcards are available in THE SHOP 

Happy Learning Time to you all!


Find more fun and easy preschool ideas on the Preschool page.  You can also find them by clicking on the Preschool button in the header.  Enjoy!