Archive | August 2017

A Laundry Bag, a Boy Apron, and Napkins: More No-Pattern Sewing Fun

After I spent three months learning to draft a skirt pattern and then sewing it, I said that my next garment project would be from a commercial pattern. I have bought some fabric and some patterns but haven’t started yet. Instead, I’ve been whipping up a few easy no-pattern projects.

My old nylon laundry bag was coming apart at the seams. I keep this bag inside the laundry hamper and tote it to the laundry room across the courtyard, so it takes a lot of abuse.


I didn’t even bother trying to repair because the fabric was dissolving.

I didn’t feel like spending five hard-earned dollars on a replacement, so instead I cut up an old sheet. I find straightforward sewing to be quite relaxing, so it was a satisfying evening. Didn’t even measure. Just hacked at it with the pinking shears and stitched it up.


This looks close enough.


A couple of Christmases ago, I let the boys pick out fabric (not telling them what it was for) and made them these great Montessori aprons (I got the pattern from Sew Liberated.) Well, Big Brother’s was always a big small and it has become quite unwearable. Time to upsize.

I had to do more measuring here because I could not readily find a pattern for a children’s apron in a larger size. So I measured the proportions of the little one, and the proportions of my adult apron made by Grandma FP, took my best guess, drew up a pattern, and cut up some old muslin to make a sample. It seemed about right. I used freezer paper to draw the pattern and my flexible curve ruler to make the curved sides. I kept the kid-friendly features of the original and just increased the size.

Walmart didn’t have any boy Justice League fabric when I was there, so he had to settle for Avengers. The workmanship isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty happy with it. I lined it in something approximating Hulk green.


Friends, I LOVE sewing things that I can’t buy. Elastic-neck, ¬†hook and loop-closure, licensed character aprons are just not a readily available thing. Plus, now BB knows I think he is worth the time.

Besides, everyone should have an apron, because cooking and eating are for everyone.

When I had made the old aprons, BB hacked up some of the leftover fabric and taped it and said he had made “a napkin.” I persuaded him to let me remove the tape and zigzag around the sides so it could be washed. The result was not lovely, but it does function as a napkin. Little Brother wanted one, too.


When I bought the Avengers fabric, they were very clear that they wanted Avengers napkins. So I thought, maybe I will learn to make REAL napkins. Since I was working from scraps, the result is small but usable.

Apparently napkins have something called “mitered corners.” I had a little trouble learning this skill. I used this tutorial and then also this one, but my first two results, though usable, were clearly not “mitered.”

I practiced with a piece of paper–easier to fold–and realized that I was not folding the corners far enough down before folding the sides. Though still imperfect, the third one has rather nicely mitered corners. Now I know this trick in case I ever want to make specialty linens or whatever.


Of the four corners, this was the most beautiful.

Next, I need to once again mend the edge of my spare bath towel and then get started sewing garments! Stay tuned!

What have you been making lately? How did it come out?


July Spending: Red Months Happen

This was one of those months during which I bled money for causes both anticipated (taking the children to an amusement park with the free tickets they got for summer reading) and unanticipated (replacing my laptop). Well, sometimes that happens. I was in the red this month BUT did not have to draw down any emergency savings categories. I covered it all out of normal float and my “spendable savings.” Here’s how it looked:


Library take-home pay: $1456.61

Support: $575

Total income: $2031.61


Rent and included utilities: $1082.77

ATM fees: $6.00

Bike tubes and patch kit: $24.17

Laundry: $20

XCel: $18.34

Ting: $33.75

Internet: $9.95

Groceries: $266.94

Wine and a beer at the bar: $18.86

Gas: $30.42

Kids’ allowances: $27.54

School uniform pants: $129.36 (Ouch! Growing boys! But Costco will refund my money if they rip them.)

Restaurants: $57.23

Amazon music: $4.30

Coffee shops: $11.07

Movie snacks: $15.46

Using boys’ “free” tickets to amusement park: $96.98 (That’s my ticket, parking, Dippin’ Dots, and lunch.)

Gifts: $70

Buying things: $307.48 (Including a refurbished laptop for $150, a years’ supply of razor cartridges, some Target things, and $50 of exercise equipment for which I am owed a refund–I got the wrong thing.)

Travel: $39.59 (On family vacation. I spent more like $140 but this is net–I received an advance on future family travel expenses.)

Child care punch card at gym: $15

Vet checkup for Kitty Paragon: $55

Cat food: $15.06 (Minor achievement–I discovered that PetSmart has a subscription service; I don’t have to go to the store any more and they had a 30% off signup discount.)

Total Expenses: $2355.23


Eh, it’s fine. One of the points that the book¬†Your Money or Your Life makes is that there is no “typical” month. I could say, I would have spent so much less this month if I hadn’t had the amusement park, a replacement laptop, and back-to-school clothes. But this is not unusually high spending for me. Another month it might be car insurance or registration renewal or a major bike repair or any number of things.

I had enough money to cover it and I’m not going any deeper into the red month-to-month; my long-term savings are untouched and even growing. So, again, “I still need a full-time job” but there’s no cause for alarm. My monthly income should be higher during the school year anyway as I have more time to work.