Hello My Name Is!

I recently made a video on my Facebook group introducing myself and introducing the group. Here it is in text form (not word for word, of course):

Hello! My name is Leigha. You may know me from this blog, or maybe from another way – Facebook, Instagram, church, or some other way. If you followed along at all in 2017, you probably know that I challenged myself to a year of purchasing no ready-to-wear clothing from the store, but instead make anything I needed or wanted. Long story short, I did it! And the experience gave me a new appreciation for the environment, being frugal, valuing quality (over quantity, in most cases), finding that personal stress is decreased when you own fewer things, health, and self-esteem/self-love. Not the kind of self-love that says “I’m so great. I’m better than everyone else,” but the kind of self-love that gives a person confidence, the kind that allows you to encourage others.

As I was learning these types of things along the way, I tried to incorporate some new changes to my lifestyle. I knew these things would be best for me and best for me to be a good steward of the Earth God put in our care. However, I’m a super practical and pragmatic, so I knew I would never stick with the changes if they were too complicated or too involved – the changes had to be easy to implement if I was going to do any of them long term.

But to clarify, I’m not talking about cheap cop out changes. I mean, in some cases the changes were cheaper than what I had been doing previously, but in no way were they cop outs, and in many cases they weren’t significantly cheaper.

So I created my Facebook group as another way for me to share the products I’ve found or created along the way, ideas, tips and tricks, recipes, and more to help you all on whatever journey you may find yourself on.

Thanks for taking the time to hangout here – I’m excited to get to know you all better!

Enjoy your day!

Pattern Review: 5 out of 4 Ninja Leggings

ATTENTION!!! FIRST PATTERN

REVIEW POST!!

(so if I could do better or I missed something, let me know)

5 out of 4 (affiliate link throughout) Ninja leggings are AWESOME!

Honestly, they are so easy. Cut. Leg seams. Gusset/font and back seams. DONE. An entire pair of leggings completed in no time!

On our recent trip to San Diego, California.

Sewing in the gusset is the hardest part, but the wonderful people at 5oo4 save the day and have created a video to help us all out.

Sorry, my leggings aren’t actually different lengths, my legs are (real story) – I forgot to adjust the bottoms before I took the photo.

I sewed up a size M without any modifications. The only thing I did a little differently than typical was to make my own bottom ankle line between the regular and the long – I like my leggings a little bit longer on me.

When your leggings match the statue…

This pattern would be so easy if you had to grade between sizes or something.

Cost: $9.95 from the website without a code. However, if you join their Facebook group you can get a code for a SUPER discount (one that you cannot refuse)! Hint Hint!

On our recent trip to San Diego, California.

I hemmed up the bottom of my leggings per the pattern. I know that there are lots of people who don’t bother – I might not for the next pair(s).

Let’s see – I think that might be it. If you have questions let me know!

On our recent trip to San Diego, California.

Unpaper Towels

So I’ve been dreaming of this project for a while now – I have many versions of this pinned on my Pinterest page (go check it out here, to see for yourself).

People who have done these before me and posted it on the internet have done a variety of things:

  • terry cloth on one side, cotton/knit on the other
  • diaper cloth (birdseye cotton) on one side, cotton/knit on the other
  • knit for both sides – one even used old t-shirts
  • diaper cloth for both sides
  • end to end hook and loop to attach the towels together in a roll
  • end to end snaps to attach the towels together in a roll
  • button hole to hang the towels on a hook
  • throw all the towels in a drawer to decrease the tedious feeling that comes with some of the other options

So anyway, don’t think that the way I did this project is the ONLY way. And I didn’t make this up myself – crediting every blog I’ve read about projects similar to this would take me all day (you and I don’t have that kind of time), just know that I encourage you to see what other people have done before deciding what would work best for you and your family.

I chose the cotton/diaper cloth option with a button hole for hanging – I knew that if I put them in a drawer I’d never use them (out of sight out of mind), and if I snapped or hook/looped them, I’d never roll the things back up, even if it looked pretty. I DEFINITELY don’t have that kind of time!

This is a super easy project. Here goes:

Step One: Choose Fabric and Size

Decide if you will buy new fabric for this project, or if you will use up small pieces you have in your stash. I chose to use up some of the stash. That way there was no pressure to color match if I decided to make more later. Also decide how big you want them. I decided I’d cut at 7 inches by 11 inches. (but don’t cut yet!)

Step 2: Fabric Preparation

Prep your fabric. Find my post on that here. Make sure you do this ESPECIALLY with the diaper cloth – it shrinks A LOT! The last thing you want is to make something nice and have the diaper cloth shrink and make the towel look goofy. Also take shrinkage into consideration when you buy the fabric in case you are hoping to make a certain number of towels.

Step 3: Measure and Cut

If you have a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat it will save you a lot of time in the cutting stage. If not, get out your scissors.

Find more information on using a rotary cutter in this post.

Step 4: Sew Edges

Once all of your pieces have been cut, you want to align 2 pieces wrong sides OUT (you should not see the designs). I guessed and said the the diamond pattern was the “right side” of the diaper cloth.

Using about a 1/4 inch seam allowance (your sewing line should be about 1/4 inch in from the edge of the fabric). If you have a serger, you can certainly use that for this step – I don’t, so I can’t speak much to how that would work here. HOWEVER!!! Don’t sew all the way around – you want to leave about 2 inches open to be able to turn it right side out.

Step 5: Trim

Cut the corners on 45° angles. This will help make your corners even more crisp when you flip them.

This is also the step to trim edges with pinking shears if you feel the need. Pinking shears help decrease fraying, and since I don’t have a serger and didn’t use a zig-zag stitch for this project, I chose to use them. It also helped to even out a couple of the edges that didn’t end up lining up quite right.

Pinking Shears.jpg

Step 6: Flip

Time to turn your unpaper towels right-side-out. Use the bit that you didn’t sew around to turn them. I use a chopstick to help me. I have also heard of using a crochet hook. Basically use whatever you have around. As you are turning out the corners, make sure you use your chopstick to get the corners as pointy as you can.

Turn RSO.jpg

Step 7: Iron

To be honest, this is NOT my favorite step. However, it’s a really important step if you want your towels to look as good as possible. Basically, you want to iron it in such a way that the side seams of the towels are flat. You can use your chopstick to help you with this step.

Iron.jpg

Step 8: Finishing Seam

Sew another seam with about a 1/8 to 1/4 inch seam allowance – although this is more of a “choose your own” based on how you want your napkins to look. This would be a good time to use any sort of fancy stitches you may want to add or practice (they are just towels, so this may be the best time to practice anything fancy your machine might have). Add the seam all of the way around being careful to close the opening appropriately and get the edges of the opening folded in enough to get sewn by the seam.

unpaper towels

Step 9: Button Hole for Hanging

Whatever you decided as far as hanging/buttoning/snapping/etc. Now’s the time to do that. I had never done a button hole before this project, so I thought it would be super hard – it wasn’t. You can even do button holes by hand if you want (it will take longer, of course, but you do you!).

Voila! Unpaper towels! Start using them for all of your kitchen and household needs!

unpaper towels 2.jpg

PS: check out our super 70’s backsplash…

Aspen Fleece Vest

So the last few weeks have been bonkers. After this, I’m pretty sure I could take on almost anything.

A while back, Mr. Canada and I had jokingly gone to a Sunday afternoon real estate open house. Fast forward to a few Saturdays later – we now own a fixer upper house. Not the house we looked through that sunny Sunday, but another very promising house nearby to our current home. While all of that is for another post, it was all happening WHILE testing this vest pattern.

I just accidentally stumbled upon the 5 out of 4 website and Facebook group one day sometime back. I’m so glad I did. One day Jessica posted that she needed volunteers to test a new fleece vest pattern she was creating. I thought “I’ve never sewn from a pattern in my adult sewing life, I’ve never sewn a zipper (let alone 4), and I’ve definitely never sewn a binding (if we’re honest, I didn’t even know what a binding was).”

Without thinking much more, “let’s do it!” Nothing like jumping straight in the deep end to learn some new skills.

So I took Mr. Canada to the craft store for some really soft fleece. He’s so much better at color matching and knowing which prints would be nice.

Photo by EWP

I got to work on my vest. First came the muslin. Two actually. Because when you test patterns sometimes the pattern needs tweaking for the best fit on the most people.

Photo by EWP

On to the final. Time to learn how to put in zippers, bindings, and the like. And it totally worked. The final product is wonderful. Most of the fleece vests sold in stores are boring colors and plain prints, if any. But with this, I could choose different pocket options, different color blocking options and of course, I could choose what color and print was most fun.

Photo by EWP

Photo by EWP

The pattern instructions were SO easy to follow – even for me as a very beginner as far as clothing was concerned. I got through the zips and bindings in a cinch.

Photo by EWP

I can’t wait to try out the other 5 out of 4 patterns I have! Stay tuned for those!

DIY Dog Puzzle

Last December, Mrs. Canada and I considered what get our pup for Christmas.  We were hoping to get him some sort of a puzzle.  On doing some research, we found that these types of toys are typically sold for $40 to $80; pretty steep for something that would likely be forgotten or chewed to bits in a matter of weeks.

But nothing was stopping us from trying to make one ourselves.  Based on some other examples, here’s what we made:

The overall idea is to suspend plastic bottles from a rod so that they can spin.  Put food in the bottles, and your precious pupper gets to figure out how to get it.  Simple enough!

 

Why a Puzzle Toy?

They’re good for your dog: they relieve anxiety, help in healing from injuries, and help teach good eating habits (source).

 

Why This Puzzle Toy?

It’s cheap, it’s fairly easy, and it uses a lot of recycled or scrap materials.  When one set of bottles gets worn out, you can easily replace them with more.

This toy allows for a wide range of difficulty.  You can change the difficulty by using different types of bottles, and by mounting the bottles higher or lower.  This means your dog won’t get tired of it after a few days.

It’s also a great project to do with the kids, as you don’t have to get everything perfect.  Your dog certainly isn’t going to mind.

 

What You’ll Need

  • 2″ x 4″ – three 8′ boards, or several pieces (between 2′ and 3′)
  • Deck screws
  • Some sort of rod, between 1/8″ and 3/8″ in diameter.  Mrs. Canada found a fiberglass driveway marker at Home Depot for about $3.  It had just a little flex to it.
    • You’ll also need some way to cut the rod.  I used an angle grinder.
  • Empty plastic bottles.
  • Some sort of saw, and a drill.

 

Step 1: Make the Legs

Start by cutting the legs.  For each leg, one end is flat while the other is cut twice on an angle.

I used a piece of scrap to draw angled lines on each piece.

Once the angled end is cut, cut each piece to 24″ (from the tip of the angled end).  You’ll need four of these total.

With this done, attach two legs together (using a piece of scrap to level out one of the legs).  Be sure that the longer angled edges are facing away from each other.

Make two sets of these, and be sure to layer the pieces in the same way for both sets (i.e. left-on-top or right-on-top for both sets).  Then, measure the distance between the longer angled edges.  Both of mine measured 31″.  You’ll need this measurement to create the base.

On one of the two sets, drill a hole so that the rod fits through snugly (we’ll drill the other one later).

 

Step 2: Make the Base

Take the length you measured from the legs and subtract 3″.  You’ll need to cut two new pieces at this length.  Finally, cut two more pieces; I cut mine at 25 1/2″, but you can cut them based on how long you want the toy to be (as long as they’re the same length).

Use these four pieces to create the base of the toy.  Here’s what we’re aiming for:

The 28″ pieces are running the length, and the two 25 1/2″ pieces are running the width (with 1 1/2″ hanging off of opposite sides).  Use a piece of scrap to space it out when attaching them.

 

Step 3: Attach and Sand the Frame

Here’s why we made that weird overhang on the base: our legs should fit up against the end of the base.  If the offset is going the wrong way, don’t panic: just flip over the base.

Attach one set of legs on each side of the base.  At this point, you’ll want to sand the entire frame.  You could always finish it somehow as well; I left mine raw.  If you decide to apply a finish, be mindful of anything that would be harmful for your pup to chew on.

 

Step 4: Drill a Second Hole for the Rod

Try a dry fit of the rod through the set of legs with the hole:

On the set of legs you didn’t drill, mark where the rod touches.  Then, remove the rod and flip the base on its side.  Drill a hole on your mark, but only 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through.

Try another dry fit with your rod.  Make a mark 1/2″ from where the rod enters the first set of legs.  Remove the rod, and cut off the excess at the mark.

Try a last dry fit with the rod.  It should fit snugly, but you’ll want to be able to remove it.  My fiberglass rod had a small rubber cap on the end, and I was able to replace it on the end of the cut piece.  Otherwise, be sure to sand off any rough parts on the end.

 

Step 5: Add the Bottles

Grab your plastic bottles and drill two holes across from each other near the top.  The closer you drill them to the top of the bottle, the more difficult the puzzle will be.

Once the two holes are drilled, the rod should fit through them, allowing the bottles to spin around them freely (these holes will need to be slightly larger than the holes in the legs).

Now put it all together, and you have a new puzzle toy!

 

Step 6: Market Research

Needless to say, Moose enjoyed his first Christmas with us.

How Do I Use My Rotary Cutter?

So in my posts about making napkins and coasters I mentioned that types of projects like those would be a lot easier if you had a rotary cutter and self-healing mat. Then I put something to the effect of “dear Santa” as a joke.

Since it was never something I had specifically told Mr. Canada that I wanted for Christmas, I didn’t think anything about those tools when I was eyeing my wrapped presents and brainstorming what they could be.

But to my surprise and great joy (I might have squealed little bit), there was a rotary cutter and self-healing mat under the tree for me from Mr. Canada!

What to make first!? And maybe more importantly, how do I use this thing!?

It seemed pretty simple, based on what I had read, but it seemed too good to be true.

IT WASN’T. It was wonderful.

And really, it’s just as easy as it seems.

Lay your mat out on a hard surface. I use the dining room table (who am I kidding… It’s a craft table now).

Lay your fabric out flat lining it up at the corner where the ruler starts (be careful to set the corner of the fabric at 0 and not 1 – I seem to have that problem).

Decide what your fabric measurements need to be, find that number on the ruler of the mat. Line your straight edge up on those lines being careful to get it straight.

Use the hand that isn’t holding the cutter to hold the straight edge VERY still. Roll your rotary cutter along the straight edge, moving your “holding” hand as you go so that your edge doesn’t accidentally get tilted.

Turn fabric, lining it up as before, in order to cut the other side.

This will be all you need to cut a square/rectangle.

I have also used the rotary cutter to cut around a pattern. Basically use the pattern in leiu of a straight edge that we used above. You can either use a fabric pencil to trace the pattern then cut, or just hold the pattern while you cut.

Depending on the size of the pattern, you may want to have someone help hold it still – especially if you have a Moose that thinks he wants to help you with your sewing.

The rotary cutter isn’t the best on curves, but in my experience, it does the job. Ultimately, it’s your sewing project – you decide.

I think the rotary cutter was one of the best investments as far as sewing tools is concerned.

Note: please know that rotary cutters are VERY sharp. It seems like an obvious reminder, but one that I think needs to be emphasized. This is even more important it you have children or pets who may not be able to  understand what you are doing.

Be careful, also, because some mats have certain storage instructions. The particular one I have says not to roll it or get it wet.

Happy Sewing!

Easy DIY Skirt

So on one of my trips to the craft store before Christmas I found this great fabric. It has corduroy type fabric for the main section and a strip of elastic on one of the long sides. PERFECT for a skirt.

Even better: it was half-off the day I was there! I bought both colors available. You can’t get 2 skirts for $10 at a clothing store!

The problem was that I just wasn’t getting around to making my great skirts. But today is the day! Here is how I did it:

Step 1: Fabric Preparation

You can find instructions on that here. I chose not the zig zag the edges before washing, thinking it would be fine… I was wrong… Fray city!

Step 2: Cut

Measure around the part of your waist that you want the skirt to sit when it is finished. Divide your waist measurement by two and cut two pieces of fabric (measuring the elastic side) each to the “half” number. After cutting I zig-zagged up the sides to reduce fraying once I start wearing it.

Step 3: The pocket

Grab a piece of paper to trace your pocket “pattern” on. Basically, trace your hand or a pocket that you have in another article of clothing, remembering that pockets are usually angled down and curved at the bottom. Make sure you make the top straight, but on an angle. Here’s how mine were shaped, just for comparison.

Step 4: Cut Out The Pocket

Fold your pocket fabric so that you can cut through two layers, lay the “pattern” on the fabric and cut – leaving a seam allowance (.25 inch is usually the preference). I eyeballed my seam allowance and it worked fine. If you prefer, you can add the seam allowance to the pattern before you cut out your piece of paper. This should give you the back and front of one pocket. Do this again for the other pocket. (Shown above)

Step 5: Pin The Pocket

Decide where you want your pocket to sit. I wanted mine three inches below the elastic. You may want to take the seam allowance of the pockets when doing this – otherwise you may end up with your pockets to far down. Measure accordingly and pin the patterned side on the pocket to the patterned side of each skirt.

Step 6: Attach The Pocket

Sew each side of the pocket to the corresponding side of the skirt. Use the same amount of seam allowance you will use for the side seams. Double check to make sure that your fabric is facing the right direction BEFORE you start sewing.

Step 7: Create Your Skirt!

Fold the pocket flaps out. Each half of your skirt will look like it has wings. I found it helpful to in in this position. Then pin the two sides of the skirt together (pockets too!) with wrong sides out. Sew a 1/4 inch seam up each side, sewing around the pockets as you go.

Make sure the seam that runs up your elastic is secure – go over it again if you think you need to.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Fold the elastic seam toward the front and sew flat. Iron the rest of the seam going down the skirt.

Voila! A new skirt!

I will post some pictures once Mr. Canada gets a free minute to take some pictures of me wearing the new skirts! So check back on this post in the next few days!

ALSO!

Don’t forget to add a tag if you’d like one!

Make Your Own Coasters

This is a project I’ve done before. In fact it was one of my first projects I did, along with cloth napkins (here) once I got into sewing. We have used the coasters in our living room for over a year and they are still going strong – even with occasional washes. When Mr. Canada and I decided to host our college “family” Christmas dinner, I decided I needed festive coasters and napkins for the occasion.

Coasters can really be whatever size you prefer. I start out with a 5×5 inch square, so they end up being about 4.5×4.5 inches in the end. Perfect for mugs and cups of all sizes.

Step 1: Fabric

Decide which fabric you want. I have always used cotton fabric for this type of project, but I don’t know that you necessarily have to use cotton. Really, deciding on one pattern or two matching patterns is what hangs me up. Don’t forget to get batting for inside your coasters! Otherwise you will have marks on your coffee tables from the heat of your mugs. When I bought my batting, way back when, I knew nothing about batting (although I can’t say I know much more now), and guessed which batting to get and use. I ended up going with cotton needled batting, luckily I have used it for two sets of coasters and it has seemed to work out both times.

Step 2: Fabric Preparation

Prep your fabric. Find my post on that here.

Step 3: Measure and Cut

Decide your size and start cutting! You may actually want to decide your size before you buy a length of fabric to ensure you have the right amount, but you get the point. I start with a 5×5 inch square for my coasters. Cut your fabric pieces as well as the same size square in the batting material. If you have a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat it will save you a lot of time in the cutting stage. I don’t (dear Santa…) so I use a square piece of card stock to measure my fabric squares. You could also use a ruler or yardstick. Whatever is easiest for you. I use chalk (it washes off with water) or regular pencil, depending on the color of the fabric to make my cutting line and go from there with my scissors.

Step 4: Sew Edges

Once all of your pieces of fabric and batting have been cut, you want to align 2 pieces of fabric wrong sides OUT (you should not see the designs) with 1 piece of batting on either side. The batting should be covering up one of the wrong sides that was showing.

Using about a 1/4 inch seam allowance (your sewing line should be about 1/4 inch in from the edge of the fabric). If you have a serger, you can certainly use that for this step – I don’t, so I can’t speak much to how that would work here. HOWEVER!!! Don’t sew all of the way around – you want to leave about 2 inches open to be able to turn it right side out.

Step 5: Trim

Cut the corners on 45° angles. This will help make your corners even more crisp when you flip them.

This is also the step to trim edges with pinking shears if you feel the need. I did on just some of my edges. Pinking shears help decrease fraying, and since I don’t have a serger and didn’t use a zig zag stitch for this project, I chose to trim. It also helped to even out a couple of the edges that didn’t end up lining up quite right.

Step 6: Flip

Time to turn your coasters right-side-out. Use the bit that you didn’t sew around to turn them. I use a chopstick to help me you could also use a knitting needle or crochet hook. As you are turning out the corners, make sure you use your chopstick to get the corners as pointy as you can.

Step 7: Iron

To be honest, this is NOT my favorite step. However, it’s a really important step if you want your finished product to look as good as possible. Basically, you want to iron it in such a way that the side seams of the coasters are flat. You can use your chopstick to help you with this step too, if you find it helpful.

Step 8: Finishing Seam

Sew another seam with about a 1/4 seam allowance – although this is more of a “choose your own” based on how you want your finished product to look. This would be a good time to use any sort of fancy stitches you may want to add. Add the seam all of the way around being careful to close the opening appropriately – making sure to get the edges of the opening folded in enough to be closed by the seam.

Your coasters are now finished. Time for drinks!