Thursday, July 21, 2016

Favorite Children's Sewing Patterns

Summer vacation means lots of time for sewing! Some of my favorite items to sew are for kids as they usually take no time at all to whip up and can be made with the most adorable and fun fabrics! Today I thought I'd share a few of my favorite free and/or inexpensive children's sewing patterns!

Children's Clothing Patterns

One of my favorite sources for kid's patterns is Sew Sweet Patterns (not sponsored in any way, I just like their patterns). The patterns are for beginner/moderate sewers and they often have sales. I've made two adorable patterns including my most recent project, a dress for my friend's daughter which could quite possibly be the cutest darn thing I've ever made! I used the Collette Dress pattern and coordinating fabric purchased from Hobby Lobby. I fell in love with the ruffle details on the front and on the sleeves!

I also made a sweet little girl's romper using another Sew Sweet pattern. The original pattern isn't listed on their page anymore but they have several other romper options.

One of my favorite free patterns for little boys is this toddler/baby necktie pattern from Kinzie's Kreations! It can easily be put on and taken off thanks to the velcro closure on the neck loop! The pattern comes with a few different size options, too.

For the babies, I've made a couple sets of knit leggings, bibs, and hats, all using free patterns. Knit fabric can be tricky to sew but there are lots of tutorials on Pinterest that explain how best to sew with knits! If knits are too intimidating, the bandana bib can be sewn using cotton fabric which is easier to work with.

The knotted hat pattern can be found here, the bandana bib pattern can be found here, and the baby leggings pattern can be found here. In addition to being free, I love these patterns because they are unisex (depending on the fabric choice), and can be whipped up really quickly. I've attended a few baby showers recently and have given these sets as gifts!

I'm always on the hunt for new patterns and projects to sew and have quite the collection of ideas on my Sew Cute Pinterest page! Come on over and find me there, too! Now, I'm off to start my next project!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

DIY Closet Jewelry Organizer

I have A LOT of statement necklaces and scarves and was finding it difficult to locate and choose the pieces I was looking for when getting dressed for the day or for an evening out. The necklaces were in a pile on my dresser and would sometimes get tangled with one another. I decided to use the space on the inside of my closet door more efficiently by adding some wood and cup hooks! Today I'm sharing an easy and inexpensive way to turn any unused door space into a jewelry and accessory organizer for under $25!
jewelry organization
-5 pieces of primed 1.5"x3/4" pine board (really any inexpensive wood will do and the size is a matter of personal preference). I had my boards cut at Home Depot into 24" lengths. If I wanted to be fancy, I could have painted the boards but the primer was good enough for me!

-Package of 40 plastic coated cup hooks

-Drill and drill bits

-Long Screws (make sure your screws are shorter than the combined width of your door and your piece of wood so you don't drill through your door...I used 1.5" screws)


-Measuring tape or ruler

Step 1:
Using your screw gun and appropriate size drill bit, drill a hole about in inch in on each end of your pieces of wood. This will be where you will screw the wood into the back of your door. The holes should be large enough for your screws to fit through, without the screw head going through the hole.

Step 2:
Screw the cup hooks into each piece of wood. I laid out all 5 pieces of wood so I could use a pencil to mark where I wanted each hook. I staggered the hooks so that when the jewelry hangs, there is space for each necklace without falling on top of each other. It may be necessary to drill small starter holes into the wood to make it easier to screw in each hook by hand. I also had a pair of pliers ready to help with any stubborn twisting! I used 7-8 hooks on each piece of wood.

Step 3:
Decide where you want your pieces of wood to be placed on your door. I used 5 pieces of wood on the top portion of my door as I also hung a towel rod on the lower portion for scarves. I marked where I wanted my top piece of wood to go as well as where I wanted to bottom piece to go, then divided the space in between evenly and marked where my remaining three pieces would go. Use your level and a pencil to mark where to drill your pilot holes. Then use your long screws to drill each piece of wood into your door. Be sure to stagger your pieces in correspondence with your hooks and make sure the screws you are using are not too don't want them to drill straight through to the other side of your door!

I left some space between the last piece of wood and the towel bar so that my necklaces have room to hang without being hidden. The towel bar was purchased for $10 at WalMart and is a great space to hang scarves and belts. Some hooks could even be added to hang purses, too! In total, the project cost less than $25, including the towel bar, which makes it really economical as well as practical!

For more daily glimpses into the projects I'm working on, come find me on Instagram

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Things to Consider During Your Invisalign Treatment

It's been over six months since I've finished my Invisalign treatment and I thought I'd share a follow up post specifically addressing some considerations to keep in mine in order to make the experience a little easier for anyone just starting their journey to a straighter smile! A comfortable, removable, and virtually invisible method of aligning teeth, Invisalign offers a unique way for orthodontic patients everywhere to straighten their smiles. In order to achieve the best outcome, there are some things to avoid while in treatment.

“The clear aligners are removable,” says Dr. Robert Gire of Gire Orthodontics, an orthodontist and Invisalign provider. “But that doesn’t mean you can take them out whenever you want. To stay on track, the aligners must be worn 22 hours per day. They work by eliciting gentle, constant force on the teeth – and they can only do that when they are in your mouth.” My orthodontist was sure to emphasize that the success of the treatment really depended on how dedicated I was to wearing the trays, so I became very diligent about doing so!

So what are other considerations to keep in mind while wearing your aligners?

1) Avoid eating with the aligners in. One of the biggest advantages of Invisalign is that the aligners are removable, meaning you don’t have to alter your diet while in treatment. But it is important to remember to always remove the aligners before eating. Chewing places too much pressure on the aligners, which can distort them and alter the fit.

2) Do not drink anything but water while wearing the aligners. Dark drinks, such as coffee, tea, or red wine can stain the aligners, making them more visible in your mouth than you’d like. Hot drinks can distort the shape of the plastic, affecting how they fit and therefore how effective they are at moving your teeth. Drinking sodas, juice, and other drinks with sugar may cause cavities since the liquid sugar sits close to your teeth under the aligners and the buffering capacity of your saliva isn’t as effective.

3) Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush. It’s important that you brush your teeth after every meal or snack prior to placing the aligners back in the mouth. Not doing so can increase the chance of developing cavities because the aligner can trap food particles and bacteria under them, keeping them in constant contact with the teeth. I kept a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in my desk at school to keep up with brushing!

4) Don’t change aligners early unless indicated by your orthodontist. You may be itching to speed up your treatment time, but every move your teeth are making has been precisely planned out by your doctor. Moving to a new set of aligners too soon may damage the roots and/or the supporting structures of your teeth. Dr. Gire advises "To be safe, follow the recommendations of your orthodontist. If you use Acceledent (the accelerated treatment option at Gire Orthodontics), we’ll guide you on the proper frequency of changing the aligners."

5) Every time you brush your teeth, be sure to brush the aligners as well. Brush the inside and outside thoroughly. You can also use a simple antibacterial soap rather than toothpaste to ensure they get clean and stay fresh if you prefer. If they develop some build-up and brushing alone doesn’t remove it, soak them in clear white vinegar while you’re having dinner, for example. Soak them for 20-30 minutes, remove them from the vinegar, brush them normally, and they’ll shine like a brand new aligner.

6) Don’t be afraid of attachments. Some patients have more complex orthodontic issues that will require attachments and/or rubber bands to correct using Invisalign. These have opened up the kinds of cases Invisalign can treat, allowing more people to reap the benefits of the technology. I did have several 'buttons' as I called them on my teeth but they were still less noticeable than regular braces.

7) After treatment ends, don’t forget your retainer. You took the time to get your perfect smile, so don’t let that hard work go to waste by forgetting to wear your retainer. At some Orthodontics, your set of retainers are included with your treatment. I wear my retainers virtually every night, which doesn't seem very difficult after having to wear the trays all day every day for almost a year!

“Invisalign is a wonderful treatment option for many patients,” says Dr. Gire. “But it does require more work on the part of the patient than other treatments. It’s up to the patient to remember to wear the aligners and to properly care for them throughout treatment. But with following all directions properly, patients can enjoy their beautiful new smiles in no time.”

For more insight into my decision to get Invisalign, please check out my previous post detailing my experience as an adult with braces! If you have further questions, please feel free to email or leave a comment!

*This post was written in collaboration with Gire Orthodontics. All opinions and thoughts are my own, however!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Planning a DIY Circus Party

It's May and that means PROM time! I'm advisor for the Class of 2017 and it was our turn to plan this year's prom. I've been thinking about this event for over a year and even started a Pinterest board to gather lots of ideas. We decided on a circus/carnival theme and had lots of fun crafting and getting creative with a tight budget! Below are some ideas and resources to create your own 'Night Under the Big Top' event!

DIY Carnival Party Ideas

We hold our prom each year in a spacious waterfront venue with gorgeous views. The room has sloped cathedral ceilings and is pretty much a blank canvas, which can be a bit overwhelming to try and fill. My initial thought was to try and create a circus tent of sorts on one end of the room under which would be the DJ and dance floor. After doing some research to find something affordable, I purchased several red and white plastic tablecloth rolls from Oriental Trading Company. These long rolls of tablecloth, along with some rope and duct tape, became the basis of our tent! It really defined the space and added that 'wow' factor as kids walked into the room! They had a blast dancing under the big top!

Thinking about our limited budget, we got creative and crafty with our centerpieces. For the larger tables, we purchased some striped fabric from WalMart to drape over our rented white linens. We looked all over for affordable 'cake dummies' as they are called to create tiered centerpieces, but they were all far to expensive. So, one day over February vacation I played around with some poster board sheets and was able to create my own by cutting long strips for the sides and using some kitchen mixing bowls to trace three different sized circles for the tops! The circles were taped to the strips with clear packing tape (but any tape will work) with a little overlapping to help stabilize each layer.

The prom committee students decorated the cakes by using gold spray paint and painters tape to add stripes to the poster board. Then they glued on strips of tickets and ribbon to add some color. We used wooden skewers and scrapbook paper to create the flags for the cake tops. I found lion and elephant toys at WalMart for $1 each and spray painted them gold for a playful nod to our circus theme!

For the smaller tables, we decorated large mason jars with ribbon and paper rosettes then added cotton candy bouquets (we rented a cotton candy machine and a popcorn machine and had a table with food, too). Large gold stars were cut out of wrapping paper and fabric pennants were made by cutting out several triangles then sewing them together with a simple straight stitch! We used sewing pins to secure the flag banners to the table cloths. The candles were purchased in bulk from Amazon.

In addition to the cotton candy & popcorn tables, we rented a photo booth, had a caricature artist, and built a kissing booth, mostly just for fun pictures and to add to our carnival theme (no making out allowed...ha ha)! We filled a large jar with Hersey's kisses and had attendees guess how many chocolates were in the jar...the winning guess took home the jar!

We also built a large ticket booth for the entryway into the event. Both booths were built out of inexpensive wood paneling and 2x3 boards from Home Depot (I actually found the wood paneling 75% off in the 'damaged' section). We used red and white spray paint to fancy up the booths!

 (Me...hanging out in my backyard with the unpainted kissing booth)

To create the lettering for both the booths, we used our projector at school to trace the letters onto foam board from the Dollar Store and cut out them out with an Exacto knife. Then the letters were spray painted and stuck to the booths using Velco (Command strips or duct tape would work, too)!

Our kids eat dinner before they come to prom, however, we did have a table with some finger foods and drinks. We created a fun vignette using several plastic table cloths ($1 each at WalMart), some more fabric pennant banners (I sewed these at home), and some paper fans. The red striped tablecloth and the paper fans shown here were all purchased from Oriental Trading Company. We used Command strips and painters tape to secure everything in place without damaging the walls.

The paper rosettes in the image below were actually handmade using a combination of scrapbook and wrapping papers. Here are some tutorials to make your own if you don't want to buy them!

Instead of paying to have tickets to the event printed, I actually found an inexpensive digital design via Etsy and printed out the tickets onto card stock at school. The Etsy shop owner was really easy to work with and customized the design for our event. We used the same design and turned it into a giant poster to put on the wall at the event using an Adobe program which takes the design and prints it out onto several pieces of regular sized printer paper. Then you cut and glue each piece of paper together like a puzzle to create a giant poster. You can also use this free site to create posters using the same process.

I designed the small 'circus' signs in Photoshop then printed them on 11x17 regular printer paper (two signs per sheet). The students glued the paper to foam board to make them sturdy then we taped them to a wooden coat rack I keep in my classroom (the spokes to hang coats can be unscrewed leaving just the stand). You could probably design your own signs using Powerpoint since that program allows you to layer images on top of one another. I used free digital scrapbook papers for the patterned backdrops found on Pinterest.

No prom would be complete without a little treat and reminder for the students to take with them as they leave! These were designed in Word and glued to Dum-Dums lollipops! The kids got a kick out of it anda little reminder to make safe choices! These could easily be made with any variety of sayings to correspond with your own event and make fun favors for party guests!

(For more daily pics of my crazy teacher life, find me on Instagram)!

Organizing an event like this for 450 students was no easy task while also juggling my normal teacher work load, but having students come up to me during and after prom to tell me 'thank you' and that this was 'the best prom EVER' certainly made all the hours spent planning and creating and emailing and decorating and cleaning up TOTALLY worth it!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

DIY Rustic Wood Sign Tutorial

Slowly but surely I've been adding a little character to my dining room, which includes hanging some drapes. Although I love the look of the curtains, I was left with an awkward space above the sliders. So, I decided to try my hand at creating a rustic 'barn wood' hand painted sign to fill that space and I am sharing the tutorial here today!

DIY Rustic Wood Sign

Although the finished product looks weathered and old, it's deceptively simple to make! I do own a Silhouette cutting machine that can create stencils in vinyl, which can also be used as a template for creating a sign, however, I prefer the simplicity of a hand-painted sign and wanted to offer an alternative for those who don't own a fancy machine!

Supplies Needed
-Pine board: You can use whatever size you want...the kind folks at Home Depot/Lowes will cut a longer board down to the size you want which allows you to get a couple signs out of one board. I purchased an 8'x5.5" board and had them cut it in half to make two 4' signs.
-Sand paper/sanding block
-1 large paint brush
-1 small art paint brush
-Rag from old tee shirt
-Ball point pen
-Painter's tape
-1 or 2 saw tooth hangers
-Tape measure or ruler
-Stain (I used Minwax 'Classic Gray' stain for the aged barn wood look)
-Acrylic paint or flat white paint
-Paper template: Use any word processing program to print out whatever phrase you'd like to paint on your sign. Depending on the size, you may have to print out your phrase on more than one sheet of paper and tape it together.

Step 1:
Prep your board by sanding down the edges and the corners. You can choose to skip this step, however you may find that some of the board edges are rough where they were cut. I like to round my corners for a more 'worn' look.

Step 2:
Use the larger paint brush to apply a thin layer of stain. Make sure to stain all four edges and check for drip marks. The longer you leave the stain on the board, the darker the color will be. I used the cloth (just a cut up old cotton t-shirt) to wipe off the stain almost immediately after applying.
*You may want to wear gloves and old clothes and should definitely use a drop cloth as the stain tends to make a mess!

Step 3:
After the stain has had time to dry (usually about 20-30 minutes) you are ready to trace your template. I like to leave about 1" border on all sides of the template and take my time to ensure that my template is evenly spaced on my board. Use painter's tape to secure your paper template onto your board.

Step 4:
It's time to trace your lettering! For both templates featured in this tutorial (Hello Sunshine & Welcome) I've used this free font. Using a ball point pen, trace each letter on your template using a fair amount of pressure. The objective is that you are essentially etching your letters into your wood since the pine board is soft enough to make an impression.

Step 5:
Now that your template has been traced into the wood, use your small craft/art brush and acrylic craft paint (I used a tester sample of flat white Behr paint from Home Depot and it worked great) to carefully start filling in your letters. When it comes to this detail work, less paint is better. Take your time and be careful not to smudge any areas that you've already painted as your hand moves across your board. It's OK if the lettering doesn't look perfect as we are going for the 'rustic' look and anything hand painted isn't going to be perfect. Also keep in mind that from farther away, slight imperfections won't be noticed! I only painted one coat, but that's really personal preference! It took me about an hour to trace and paint my smaller 'Welcome' sign. The larger 'Hello Sunshine' sign took me almost 2 hours (but it was the first sign I did and I'm a bit faster now)!

hand painted sign tutorial

Step 6:
Once your letters are finished drying, secure your saw-tooth hangers to the back for hanging. For my 2' sign, I only used one hanger in the center, but for my 4' sign, I used two, one on either end. I really like Ook brand hangers (not sponsored, just think they are well designed)! 

Step 7:
Sit back and admire your work! I've since made several of these signs, both for personal home decor and as gifts for family and friends! An optional last step would be to take some sand paper and rough up the surface of your board to give your lettering an even more worn/rustic look! I'd love to see your finished products! Find me on Instagram and on Facebook and let me know what you've been up to!

hand painted wood rustic sign

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gratitude Cards

A few years ago I designed a set of gratitude cards that I use with my students in the days leading up to Thanksgiving break. I ask them each to take a moment to stop and reflect on all they have for which to be grateful...

They always surprise me with how thoughtful and reflective they can be! I tell them not to sign the cards (they tend to be more genuine when the cards are anonymous) and then I create a 'gratitude wall' in the hallway outside of my classroom. Passersby can stop and read all of the lovely sentiments!
If you'd like to print your own gratitude cards, I've created a set of six on a page which can be downloaded here! Use them with your own students or at your Thanksgiving celebration!

I'm grateful for...

-The fact that I've been able to accomplish many of my life goals thus far
-My lovely little home...a dream come true
-My extremely generous family
-Parks and Recreation...laughter really is the best medicine
-Lifelong friends who know the 'real' me
-A career in which I get to make a difference in people's lives, every single day