Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

They are home!  They are home!

Of course I didn’t realize how noisy they were until they left and then came back!

I’m pretty sure that I didn’t miss them a fraction as much as nate and jake missed them.

Trying to soak up every single bit of sun and warmth before winter sets in, I made the kids play outside until dinner.  How can I compete with these expert fort builders.

First Mike decided that he didn’t only need a fort, but he also needed a pvc support structure.  He went into the garage and dismantled the ridiculous  amount of marshmallow guns that we own.  It was rather comical watching them try to figure out how to make the fort.  First he made Nate and Jake hold everything up.

Nate:  This isn’t very fun.  I don’t get to play in it?  I just have to hold it?

Mike:  Be quite!  Hold it higher!fort building

Me:  Maybe instead of trying to balance the pvc pipes, you actually make a structure.

Mike:  What a great idea!

Me:  That’s why I’m the mom.   Wait!  Let me show you what I made while you were gone!

(and I went to go find my awesome tent)

Me:  Maybe you guys could go hang it on that rope in the driveway.

Marshall:  I don’t want to sit on the driveway.  (he starts looking all around for places to hang it.)

He spies a small hook above the front door.

Marshall:  I’m gonna hang it from there.

Me:  How?  We don’t even have a ladder that large.

Marshall:  Don’t worry.  It’s easier than you think.

He then proceeded to cannibalize Mike’s fort’s pvc pipes.  He tied a small rope to the end of the pipes and proceeded to attempt to hook the rope.  It was like reverse fishing.  extreme fort building

After a few minutes of trying unsuccessfully, he went back to the drawing board.  He went and got the binoculars, observed the hook from every angle.

extreme fort building

He added and subtracted some pvc pieces until he was satisfied with his new fishing pole and then amazingly, hooked it right away.
He hadn’t really gotten past the part of attaching the rope to the hook.  A good 15 minutes was spent trying to get the tent up.  fort building amazingness
After much kibitzing, a ladder was finally employed and the tent was raised.

Best brothers ever! We’re so glad they are home!


Of course, we couldn’t take down the tent after such hard fought efforts to put it up.  When I opened the door tonight to pick up Mckayla from youth group (because when your a teenager your social calendar doesn’t take a breather for silly things like first nights home and your mom has missed you like crazy), I nearly had a heart attack when there was this 10 foot tall blue thing in front of me.  For a second I thought I was under attack by a giant wearing a sky blue dress.  it was terrifying.  Needless to say, I won’t be using the front door anytime in the foreseeable future.

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a tentA few months ago Joann’s was having a 99 cent pattern sale.  I bought a ton of patterns that floated my boat at the time.  One of the patterns was for a children’s circus tent.  I thought it would be fun to sew in my boy’s sewing club.  When I looked at the yardage that it required I immediately nixed that idea.  This puppy requires 21 yards of fabric!  Even if you could find cheap $2 a yard fabric (which is never something cool like army men and transformers), it would cost $45 in material alone, not to count the endless amount of notions:  a hula hoop, velcro, bias tape, batting, ribbon and hooks.  Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy something rather than make it.

Last week Jacob was reaking havoc looking through the shelves in my sewing room and came across the tent.

Jacob:  I would really like this.  Can you please make it for me?

Me:  (How could I refuse that?)  I don’t know I’ll have to see if I have enough material for it.  If I don’t, I probably won’t make it anytime soon.

Jacob:  I know you will have it.

I found some blue and yellow star printed fabric, an old blue sheet and some leftover yellow fabric from a batman cape. It didn’t exactly match, but I didn’t have to spend $45 on something that may or may not turn out fun to play with.  I went to town cutting the massive amounts of material out.  I decided to leave off the bottom of the tent so that it would be able to fit inside my washing machine.  I figured that while the weather is warm I would hang the tent outside under a tree and when the rain comes back, I’d hang it inside in our game room.  I knew the twins would love this but I didn’t anticipate how quickly they thought I could put it together.

Nate:  Is my tent done yet?

Me:  No.  It’s not even done being cut out yet.

And then dave and marshall came home from camp and the project was shelved for a few days.

Yesterday, on our first day of being a family of three, I was rather lonely after I put the twins to bed.  I decided to work on the tent.  I finished cutting and brought out my sewing machine and started sewing.  I finished the top part and called it a night.

I would like to break here to tell all of you about what it’s like at my house when I decide to sew.  I forget the dishes.  We eat a non-stop barrage of snack foods instead of breaking for me to make a meal.  The boys get to watch lots of extra tv until the noise becomes too much for me to bear.  They then get to drag out every single toy that they own all over the house because I am busy finishing this stupid project.

Let me also tell you that my kids are slave drivers!  Every time the machine would stop a little boy would come running.

Jacob:  Mom!  Why are you stopping!

Me:  I am getting a cup of coffee.

Jacob:  Fine.


Jacob:  Why are you stopping now?

Me:  Look!  I’m cutting up my cool map table cloth to make you a window.  Don’t I love you so much!

Jacob:  Yeah.  You do.

Me:  Damn, skippy!


Nate:  What have you finished now?

Me:  I have one window done.

Nate:  Is that all?

Me:  This is very complicated.

Nate:  Are you going to add a lock?

Me: No.  I don’t think that’s possible.

Nate:  It will be okay.  Just make it out of sew.  (and he went into a 10 minute explanation of how I could make one “out of sew”).

Me:  I did put on flaps so that you could shut the windows.

Nate:  I guess that would be okay.

the shut window.

Finally, sometime around 1 I finished the tent.  We took it outside with the ladder.  I didn’t anticipate all of the branches that I could reach with the ladder wouldn’t be able to hold the tent.  Thankfully Dave had tied a drying line up in our basketball court after they went camping.  I tied up the tent.  The rope could have been a good 2 feet higher.  We spread it out with rocks to keep the tent extended and then the boys did what all kids do when they have a new tent.  They went to find lots of things in it.  Nate came with toys, stuffed animals, an armful of books, graham crackers, water bottles and a flashlight. Jake just ran in and out of the tent.

circus tent for a clown

Nate:  Can we sleep in here?

Me:  Sure, if you want to take a nap!

Nate:  YES!!!  Jake if we take a nap we can sleep in here!!!

Nate started organizing all of the stuff in his tent.  Immediately the rope began to sag under all of the weight of the necessities.

Me:  Nate, you need to take some of those things out of the pockets.  (Why did I put pockets in this thing?)

Nate:  No, I don’t.  I have lots of room in the pockets.  I think I need more toys.

Me:  Nate, you’re going to break it.  The pockets aren’t made for all of those things.  They are made for 1 stuffed animal or 1 book or 1 box of crackers not 15 books, and 10 beanie babies and a box of crackers and 2 bottles of water and a handful of apples (It’s important to not starve).

After lots of back and forth, I was finally able to convince him to lighten his load.

silly boys
Jake:  Can we bring this inside.

Me:  I don’t think so.

Jake: But I want to sleep in it!

I think it was a hit.

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When we lived in California, we were part of a homeschooling art class.  It met a friend’s house.  The kids learned how to use many different types of media in a very non-stressful, nonacademic format.  Well, McKayla did, the boys usually spent the whole time engaged in Nerf warfare. It was very informal but informative.  It was the highlight of our week.

Mike is my social butterfly.  More than anything he really misses the weekly get together with his best friend.  A few months ago he asked if we could start our own art class.  I can draw a pretty darn amazing stick girl, dress and pigtails included.  That is where my artistic ability ends.  We brainstormed all of the things that we knew how to do and people would be willing to learn.

Mike:  Cooking?

Me:  Sorry, I don’t think our kitchen is big enough to handle a brood of boys.

Mike:  Nerf warfare!

Me:  No. How about a book club?

Mike:  BORING!  How about crocheting?  You could teach us to make a stuffed animal.

Me:  I don’t think I could teach boys to crochet.

Mike:  cake decorating?  Then we could eat a whole cake every week!

Me:  Sorry, not my expertise.  How about a painting the treehouse club.  I could teach everyone to paint?

Mike:  NO!

Me:   How about sewing?

Mike:  Okay, we could try that.

I sent out an email on the various email groups we belong to. The first meeting we had 5 boys ages 6-9 and Marshall.  We made a pillow case.   Mike would like you to know that he did not choose a pink pillowcase for himself, but made it for his sister for her birthday.


The first class was a learning lesson.  I thought we could cut the pillow case out and sew the whole thing.  The attention span of a group of young boys is not that long.  Trying to direct a group of kids who have never sewn, was chaotic to say the least.  All I can say is, I am so thankful that my mom happened to be visiting during that first class.

Marshall made his brothers coordinating pillow cases.

After the class Mike and I talked about what we liked and what we didn’t.

Mike:  I want to play more! 

Following this lead, we decided to cut the sewing time down to 30-45 minutes and then the boys could play until everyone was ready to go home.  Honestly, I do very little teaching.  It’s more of a play date masked as a sewing club.  Everyone brings their moms, so the adult to kid ratio is 1:1.  Most moms have a basic knowledge of their sewing machine and can sew a straight line.

Week 2 we cut out a patchwork pillow.  I provided square templates and the boys cut out squares.  Then they played.

Week 3 We sewed together the front of the pillow.  What I really love about this project is how forgiving the patchwork was.  Yes, corners might not actually meet up, but if seams aren’t very straight, it’s hard to tell.  Even the boy whose material looked as if he gnawed it rather than cut it with scissors had a pillow that looked amazing at the end!

Week 4 we sewed the back and front together and stuffed them.  The hardest part of the whole project was the hand sewing to sew the stuffing closed.  Boys don’t particularly have the patience or fine hand eye coordination for a hidden stitch.  While the boys played this week, Jake and another sibling made tiny pillows.

Week 5 We lost a few families and gained some new ones.  We tried our hands at sewing a pattern.  The boys decided they’d like some new jammies. Actually, they’ve been coveting army and baseball fleece that they’ve spied at the fabric store and this was the best project we could think of to use it for.   I chose a Simplicity So Easy Pattern.  JoAnne’s only had ONE pattern so I ended up making my own patterns for the boys to cut.

This week we finished the jammies.  They turned out amazing!  I think my favorite part about the sewing class is seeing the individual boys.  I love seeing which fabric each boys chooses.

The twins have also been bitten by the sewing bug.  Jake was lucky enough to be given one of the boys extra pirate material and we whipped up a pair of jammies together today.  I pressed the pedal and Jake guided the material.

Nate also wanted a pair of Jammies.  We didn’t have enough pirate material, but I did have a pair of Dave’s pajamas which have been waiting far too long to have a hole repaired in a rather unfortunate spot.  He was very excited to have a pair of Daddy pants.  Nathaniel was not even remotely interested in guiding the material.  Instead he pressed the foot and I guided the material.  It was definitely an adventure.

Our next project will be a quillow (A quilt that turns into a pillow).  I think we will do this one.  I know there are much easier patterns, but I need something that will not only interest the 7 year-old but also challenge the 13-year-old.  Hopefully this isn’t something that will frustrate everyone.

Do you have any ideas for some sewing projects that a boy would love?  I’ve scourged the internet and have come to the conclusion that sewing is not only primarily done by girls, but also for girls. If we wanted to make tutus or dolls or an easy dress, I could find hundreds of patterns and ideas easily. Alas, I don’t think a pink tutu clad doll would be very appealing to these boys.   I’m thinking of designing some kind of nerf gun carrier, maybe a messenger bag.  Please give me some ideas.  I don’t want to reinvent the wheel.

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