Slimming Neckline Makeover - Make it Sew!

Whoa!.. those glasses help me see and help you see my wrinkles!

As we enter the New Year one of my goals is to be more deliberate in what I wear and making sure it looks the best it possibly can on my particular body type.   While I am thrilled to now be wearing a size 10 jeans I still have a wide back and chest  that tends to make me look even bigger than I am in certain clothes.

The biggest offenders are  traditionally cut t-shirt and turtlenecks. Put either of these on me and I instantly look 15 pounds heavier.. and who wants that?

She looks great in this, I did not!
Now I should have known better but tend to loose my head in the face of a terrific sale and that is the case  when  I saw this J. Jill dress marked down from well over $100 to $25. I LOVE my clothing from J.Jill and  clicked the BUY button before my head did some serious thinking about this dress.  So like all great tales of woe the dress came, I danced around at my good luck and then I put it on.. it felt great, the knit fabric was hefty and soft and I looked like a well dressed block-chested prison matron - sigh.

Luckily my superpower is sewing so I knew what to do..

The first step was to pull the perfect t-shirt from my closet- the t-shirt with the perfect neckline for me.. a nice scoop that show some skin and a bit of cleavage but not so much that I risk looking like a homeschooling hussy.

The next step was to make a template of the neckline by tracing it onto a sheet of tag board ( you could also use paper)  I use one template for both the front and back scoop.

 I save the template ( thus using tag board) to remake the neck of many garments.  Just fold it in half and tuck away with your patterns for storage.

The next step was the cutting away of the excess neck material

Laying the template on the neck I used a chalk wheel to easily mark around the neck scoop for the front.

Then before cutting I took the dress to the sewing machine and I stitched a STRETCH STITCH on the line in order to stabilize the knit from stretching.

After that I cut very carefully just to the inside of the stitching so that the stabilized part stays as part of the garment.  ( and yes, even after all this time I still hold my breath making the first cuts :)

Same deal for the back, once the front of the neck is cut away lay on the template and mark in line for the back and then sew a stabilization stitch.

Seems that I really need to clean my cutting mat, the spray adhesive build up is taking over!
Ok!..  half way there! At this point I starch the neckline a bit to stabilize it further and let it dry.

At this point I was torn. I had originally intended to  finish the new neckline with some plum colored stretch velvet that is great for this but as luck would have it the turtleneck that I chopped off left me with enough fabric to use the same fabric on the neckline ( not usually an option!)

Oh I dithered, but in the end my mind was made up due to the fact that I did not have a perfectly matching thread color for the plum - how that is possible I have no idea given the amount of thread I have, but such is the deal so I went with the matching fabric and some nice heather gray thread.

After that it was just about sewing the trim on wrong side up.. then flipping it over and then using a tiny zig-zag to re-sew from the top to secure the fabric to the back side. NOTE: use a walking foot to minimize stretching of fabric!  Edit: I have been asked to expand on this rather sketchy bit about how I put the trim on the neckline. Seems that sometimes I do things that my head skips right over in the replay.  I have decided that it is a bit much to shoe-horn in here so will do another post on it.. but in the mean time offer up a similar techniques  Store Bought Look Neckline Treatment  and I will get right on an expanded tutorial to show you how I do it!

Of course as usual I missed a spot due to getting to hasty.. but no worries.. thus put it back on the machine and catch that spot.. no one will be the wiser .. well, with the exception of you all --shhhh! This is also the time to do any trimming and adjusting that needs to be done to make it took fantastic!

All done!.. but with all the manhandling the fabric might be looking a bit wonky.. so give it a good misting with water or Best Press and then a light steaming with the iron and let it dry.

This same technique of remaking can also be done with Fold Over Elastic and here is a great little article on how to do just that! Using Fold Over Elastic to Finish a Neckline 

So what do you think? Do you have clothing that could look better on you with just a bit of adjustment?Remember, it's about fitting clothes to your body, not your body to the clothes!

P.s. I would love to get this post out far and wide, would you mind sharing it or tweeting it out there for me?

30 Days- Rekindling the Sexy in Your Marriage

It is never too late to put your marriage first.

Well over 10 years ago I read an article in Redbook magazine that suggested that one of the keys to a very happy marriage was having sex every night. (Which by the way was the advice of a 85 year old woman who had been married longer than I have been alive!)  Given that I was reading this while laying on the exam table in the O.B.'s office very-very pregnant with our 6th child it gave me a chuckle  and made the O.B. blush when I read it to him. Never-the-less the sex advice stuck with me and putting my marriage and marriage bed first has been a really important part of my bond with my darling man. 

The author of the article (now long gone it seems, I have searched high and low for it online) went on to say how a 30 days of sex challenge was the jump-start her marriage was begging for and how other issues that had once been weighing so hard (sorry) and heavy on her marriage started to become mere blips on the radar of life. The flat out fact was that her "ok-nice husband" became the man of her dreams with just a few uncoaxed and unbegged for rolls in the hay. What it took was HER being the one to initiate sex.

As I remember she said her secret plan went something like this.. Night 1 he was thrilled and speechless, night 2 suspicious and grateful, night 3 he acted like some one had just given him a new golf cart and night 4 he got up and walked their teething baby for 3 hours letting his wife sleep and then he made her breakfast and took out the garbage without being asked.... and on  it went..   She fell in lust with her husband again and he remembered the hot woman he had married.

Now don't get me wrong.. great sex  even freely given will not solve serious problems but there is no doubt that daily sex and affection help smooth over a lot of the bumps and scrapes of marriage. Men want and need to be adored just as much as women want to these things.

The evidence is not just anecdotal, science is even on the side of regular sex showing that men who have sex on a regular basis live longer and have healthier lives ( they also deal with workplace stress better!). Women gain numerous benefits including surges in crucial hormones that keep us younger feeling and sexy. There are no downsides* to good sex.

I mean really.. not exactly brain surgery here.. after sex people sleep better, they glow and they have been even been known to send spicy text messages to each other in anticipation of the next chance to jump in the sack.(Ahem!)  Good sex begets more good sex and positive feelings towards each other.

So.. what would happen if you took up a 30 days of sex challenge.. your own little secret plan to see what your life would look like with more sizzle?... January first is Sunday- just sayin.

* OK, one down side, if you are doing it like bunnies after a long time of not even thinking of sex you can end up with Honeymoon Cystitis  a bladder infection caused by lots-o-sex.  Just remember to pee before and after and a little real cranberry juice each morning never hurts!

Orgasms Inc. - The Selling of Sexual Dysfunction

Due to an untimely ingestion of a Coke Zero at 10 pm I was not all that sleepy when it came time to hit the sheets with Doc last night ( and oh how I love to hit the sheets with that man.. even 15 years later- what a lucky girl I am!), so while he snoozed I took a bath and watched a movie. ( Yes, my life is decadent in small doses)

Searching through my Instant Que I noticed that I had not watched the documentary  Orgasm Inc.  which had been on my list for a while now. Ok.. here is your time to jump ship if you are the squeamish, easily offended or the prudish type.. if not read on about my reflections on this documentary.

Orgasm Inc is a 2009 documentary dealing with the time period when the major pharmaceutical  companies were in a billion dollar race to be the first to get a climatic female drug to market to deal with the newly named disease made up just for the occasion! - Female Sexual Dysfunction or as they like to call is  FSD, since that is shorter and cute! (gah)

FSD came to be after a small study found that 43% of the women who were in the study had some type of sexual issue in the past month of the study. Issues ranged from being too tired to have sex, lack of lubrication, to failure to  climax during intercourse.. and thus was born FSD.. after all if 43% of women had these issues it must be a billion dollar condition, or so said the brains of these huge pharmaceutical giants and " big medical". (Other reasons included, sexual taboo and abuse history)

You don't have to be a clinical researcher with all that much savvy to begin shooting holes in this study.

From the point of being tired - well yes raising kids is VERY tiring, add to that work and family stress and even the best libido will take a beating but this is not dysfunction this is exhaustion!

Lack of lubrication?- yep, it's true as we age natural lubrication can be harder to come by ( breastfeeding, and childbirth both which tend to dry up our natural ability as does menopause)  but with the wide range of sexual lubricants on the market this is not so much an issue of dysfunction as choosing the right product to make up for this very real but not dysfunctional fact of life.

And then to the "big one" - pardon the pun! - Inability to climax during intercourse -  This honestly is where I feel this issue firmly rests ( on very unsteady ground to be sure!) and where this documentary did a great job is  of pulling the issue to the surface by following the sub story of one woman who had spent many years and untold dollars to "figure out what was wrong with her".

Pills and creams, shots, funny suction devices and finally having an electrical probe (The Orgasmatron) fed up her spinal canal in order to to achieve this holy thing she thought she was unable to do like the "rest of the world" - and none of it worked.. not a one enabled her to climax during intercourse . And you know you what?.. she is not alone ( as she found out) nor is she defective in the least.. not even a bit ( as she also found out)

During the course of the filming it was reveled that she could indeed have  natural orgasms through manual stimulation, but as she thought.. "not in the regular or right way" i.e - intercourse. She is  like well over 70% of women need direct and continuous stimulation of the clitoris in order to achieve any orgasm. This sweet woman  and  oh so many like her had been beating herself up, suffering from depression and  going through medical procedures with possible dangerous side effects and more due to her lack of knowledge about basic sexual function.

To see her joy when it finally made sense to her that she was normal, and there was nothing wrong with her as a sexual being was a fantastic moment and points to where comprehensive sexual education is a must in our society, if only to help women ( and men!) understand how their bodies work so that when something that is REALLY wrong possibly crops up that they will be able to deal with it. Good gracious people know your parts, the vagina is not the be all end all of the sexual experience.

Don't get me wrong, the vagina is a great thing (some of the best women I know have them!), but the real action is north in location and centered on the clitoris.  This little jewel has well over 8000 never endings in an area the size of a pea.. so much from so little so to speak and yet there are still women who think that their big-bang should come from vaginal penetration ( missionary position only of course!) and a partner when this is actually only true for  a small percentage of women and yet here are huge companies trading on a false fact made to make us feel disfigured or dysfunctional and in need of their drug when what is really needed is frank education in many cases.

By now I was bit chilly and a lot pruney ( 60 minutes in a vat of hot water will do it to you) and needed to get out of the bath and into bed with my handsome Doc. I had a lot to reflect on.. expect more posts on this topic as the days go by. But until then I leave you with two resources and a question.

Women's Anatomy of Arousal - A sexual and anatomical  road map that helps you stop at all the good locations :)

Sex for one - Learning what does it for yourself so that you can then be able to share it with the one you love. I think of this one as learning to write your own owners manual.

What is the biggest bit of sexual misinformation that you think still lurks out there passing as fact?

Sewing is My Superpower

Flaunt your superpowers.. and sew on!  No more hiding your light under a barrel or being demure about your outrageously cool ability to sew.. time to be loud and proud about your skills!

I am hosting this for free download for those who want to use this image at home - Sewing is my Superpower

And for those who are too busy sewing .. for you I have sent the image to Domestic Anarchy Cafe for your click and go shopping pleasure!

As always thank you to the Graphics Fairy for the image and her time to post it up in some great colors!

P.s. -What is your Superpower?

Hair Tinsel - A Fast and Easy Teen Girl Gift!

Just popping in real quick to leave a little quick gift inspiration.  I have a couple of teen/pre-teen girls in my life that I wanted to gift with a little something so this year I have decided to make them each a packet of hair tinsel.

Do you know about hair tinsel and Hair Flair?  Well take a peek here at the HairTinsel page..  it's hot with this  pre- and teenage set and  better yet it is VERY easy to make. No salon trip involved no matter what they infer.

To make my packages of Tinsel I used multiple types of glitz and glitter threads from my collection of quilting embellishment threads.   I used small plastic zippy bags made for beading and some card stock.

I cut multiple pieces of each color to 48 inches long and neatly laid them out (ahem.. note - do not turn your back when your cat is in the room to help)

I cut the card stock to size to fit in the bags and then used a circle punch to cut out a nice scoop for the thread to rest in when wrapped around the card.

I slid the wrapped cards into the bags and tucked in the penguin gift tags.  On the backs of the packages I put the link to  Hair Flair Instructions   and Hair Tinsel video 

I figure that each small gift cost well under 50cents each.. and am thinking that a red/pink/silver combo might be just right for Valentines day!  And given how fast it was I was able to make quite a few in less than 30 minutes today.. hurrah! and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Holiday Pillows - Fast and Fun

You know.. right?... Graphics Fairy

I was not quite sure I was going to be pulling off a Graphics Fairy project this week. Been lots to do, some deep things to think about and then a very unexpected Kidney Stone ( OUCH!) on Saturday have put me a bit off track!

Miracle of miracles I woke up on Sunday not feeling all that bad, achy lower back, and sort of wrung out but itching to be out of bed for sure.  This is when a very good crafting and sewing stash comes in handy. Without even a trip to the store I was able to create this cheery little pillow as my very LAST project of the holiday season. ( Wish now I had done some piping.. such is life)

The elf and squirrel image is from the Graphics Fairy and I added the text.  I then used a piece of Artist Transfer Paper and ironed it to a piece of quilting cotton that was already over printed with text. I really love the way the text came up through the red image!

I sewed it up as a pillow cover that can then be easily stored away after the season, but  since it was quickly adopted by the king of the family ( Koko) you might be seeing it well into Spring... who knows.

So.. here is the deal.. I have not hosted this image for download  (all night kidney fun has left me more tired than I would want to admit)  but if you are wanting it for a quick project let me know and I will send you a file via email.. ok?

Things will be pretty quiet around here until the New Year..  no worries, just regrouping and getting set for a fantastic 2012. 

I wish each and every one of you a most joyous of holiday seasons.

Hear Buddies - Ready, Set, GO!

At less than 4 minutes stitching time per Ear Buddy, this IS a project that you can pull off before the Holidays arrive. I spoke about these the other day here on Domestic Anarchy  and I know I have folks waiting  for them so with no more fanfare  get yourself over to the Domestic Anarchy store so you can be stitching as soon as possible.  

As an added bonus I am thrilled to tell you that I was able to make a little time to design custom gift tags for this exclusive version.

The tags come in PDF file format for easy printing and are NOW included with the design files.

The normal price is $5, but through the end of this weekend the price is set at $3- you can't beat that!

Happy Stitching!

Picking a Pillow - So Many Choices

Such a happy pattern- Pillow Ticking

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you might remember that last week one our our cats went rogue and decided to pee all over a pile of laundry and then for good measure the offender graced my pillow... MY PILLOW. My just right, broken in, feels  felt perfect pillow.  

My pillow was is referred to as "The Weeny Girl pillow" due to it's lack of structure and body. The floppy feather factor hard to come by in new pillows for sure so I was VERY sad to dump it and go searching for a new one.

A bit like Goldi-Locks, there were ones that were too hard, too fluffy, too big, too bouncy and most all of them filled with foam or poly fil. I wanted a feather pillow that did not cost more than a nice dinner out but they seem to be hard to come by. 

On the upside I learned a lot about pillows:

Pillows are generally divided up based on what they are stuffed with.
  • Down/feathers- highest price, but lower priced ones tend to have lower quality down/feathers and COVERS
  • foam bits- tend to be lumpy but lowest price
  • wool- heavy, hold heat well, 
  • buckwheat- very malleable but can be heavy and a bit noisy
  • memory foam- HEAVY, but wide range of contour models
  • poly fill - inexpensive, varying density, long lasting
  • cotton- heavier than poly, old fashioned feeling but not very squishable
  • and even water- For those who sleep "hot" these are suppose to be great - I don't know.
 Each of these choices have their advantages and price points.

After that you have shaped or contoured pillows as well as choices about hypoallergenic covers and more.

As a tummy sleeper  a flatter malleable pillow was and is my best choice so that I don't get neck strain.  Side sleepers often do really well with contoured pillows to support the arch of the neck. Back sleepers seem to have the most choices  and can use those big fluffy pillows but I was interested to learn that if snoring or breathing is a problem that going with a flatter pillow can make a huge difference  so might be worth a try for those who snore like freight trains in the night :)

In the end I did find a down pillow that was pretty wimpy and just right for me but quickly  ( first night) encountered a problem that I should have guessed from the price point ($40). The cover of the pillow was made from a quilted cotton but not from ticking fabric.   {sigh}

Next time I will tell you all about my Pillow Ticking adventure!

Do you have a favorite pillow?

Hear Buddies - Embroidery Machine Goodness

The last couple of weeks have just FLOWN by and it had nothing to do with the holidays and everything to do with getting all my classes ready for the new year.   I have classes, on top of classes, on top of more classes for between January and April. Add to that a writing gig with Sew it All magazine and  it has been a recipe for CRAZY. Super duper excited about it can you tell???

 I feel really blessed that so many want to come learn from me.. it just happens to mean a very intense time of getting all the project samples done, instructions written,  and photos done.

But now comes the fun part.. sharing my projects with you over the next few weeks.

I spend a lot of my time working to come up with effective inexpensive gifts that can be made with the embroidery machine and am tickled pink with my new ~ Hear Buddies~ Ear Bud Wraps. With little more than 2 layers of Stiff Felt and thread you end up with a fun and functional little gift that most grads can use to keep their technology safe and sound. Bundle it up with an I-Tunes gift card and you have a gift that will move you into their top-40 for sure!  ( oh how I date myself!)

The Bear, Frog and Butterfly are exclusive to my upcoming class and will not be released for general sale until after that point but with small holiday gifts in mind the Gamers Edition will be released and up for sale the end of this week, just in time to whip up a couple for holiday giving. 

If you want to be ready to make these here is what you are going to need to have on hand:

  • Super Solvy or Badge Master
  • Easy Felt -Stiff felt ( kids crafting section) - regular felt will NOT work
  • Silver Book Rings ( Office supply store)
  • Black woven pony tail elastics ( the type they will not pop or break- but not the thick ones)
  • Heavy duty hole punch - Crop-a-dile Big Bite or similar model 
Wish me luck on getting a video done in time!

T-Shirts for Everyone

Thank you SO much for your warm words and sweet requests when it comes to the t-shirts I have been creating for my boys ( of all ages).

I am always thrilled to provide you with free printable graphics so you can make you own shirts at home and in addition to that I have now opened up a Cafe Press shop where you can purchase these same images already printed on t-shirts and such without the hassle of doing it yourself!

Currently the only stock is of the totally inappropriate SIZE MATTERS t-shirt but  some of the designs for younger (and more proper) guys will be uploaded very soon.

To be totally above board I make something like $1 per item ordered so needless to say that Aruba vacation will still be some time off, but if you need a sassy t-shirt I am happy to hook you up!

I would also like to give a HUGE shout out to the wonderful Karen at the Graphics Fairy for the hard work and care she puts in to preparing the images and hosting the graphics I choose to work with. I can't say enough good things about her and her site.  Having such a consistent quality of images to work with makes creating so much easier and more fun.

What To Do With A Plain White T Shirt

Let me start off by saying that I know this is REEAALLLYYY wrong, but it makes me laugh so hard ( pardon the pun) that I am going to do it anyway.

My #2 son is a college art student with a very sly sense on humor so I am thinking that he might really like the t-shirt I am making him for Christmas (he NEVER reads my blog, so you don't tell him OK?) 

When I saw the newest Graphics Fairy image of the artist paint brushes ( sans wording of course!) I just HAD TO DO THIS.. I am compelled by the forces of George Carlin and every other racy comedian I have ever listened to.

Please forgive me Karen!

I will be using Artist Transfer Paper and a white t-shirt to make this happen.  If you want to know more about using ATP check out this video.

And if you feel the need I have hosted the image for free download so you to can join in my obvious lapse in judgement by clicking on the file name.

Want one but are not crafty?..... look what I have for you!   Domestic Anarchy Cafe