Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sewing = Upcycling

On a recent trip to the Salvation Army, I picked up this men's gap sweater.  Purple was the color of the week, so I paid a whopping 95 cents for this sweater (color of the week items are half off).  It was a size medium which is obviously not going to fit anyone in my household, but I loved the colors and the way the sweater felt, and for the price I knew I could find something to make with it.

At first I figured maybe I would use it for some cute pillows, or even to make a cuddly stuffed animal.  The material is so soft!  It almost has an angora feel to it.

Then I decided to make it in to a few things for Marcus instead.  Marcus is the most appreciative child of anything that I make him.  I have a special gift in the making for his birthday too, but more on that at another time.

First thing I made was a v-neck sweater vest for him.  I took another v-neck sweater out of his sweater, and laid it on my rotary mat matching the bottom of the two sweaters so that the finished piece would have the lower band already in place.  I simply cut around it using a rotary cutter allowing an extra 1/2 inch all the way around  This yielded two pieces: a front and a back, because I cut through both layers of the sweater.  I then cut the V in to the front of the sweater.  I cut the neck out of the original sweater, and then hand basted it to the new sweater in two pieces (one for the front piece and one for the back piece).

I then used my sewing machine to sew the shoulder seams and side seams of the sweater.  Once that was finished, I decided that I wanted to cut one of the runs of blue and white striping out of the original sweater and use that to cap the sleeves on the v-neck.  I hand basted these in because I knew it would be easier that trying to sew these small round holes on the machine.

All in all in took me about an hour from start to finish on this project.  I also put some of the scrap pieces together to make a matching scarf for it.

Here is the finished product on the hanger.

And on the Monkey.

As I sat looking at the remaining scraps, it occurred to me that I had these two long sleeves and I should make something from them.  Then it hit me, that they were dead on fit for Marcus's legs.  So, I made a pair of pajama bottoms for Marcus using the sleeves, and two triangles of the material from the sweater, and I used what was left of the lower band of the sweater to form a waist band for the jammies.  I simply sewed the two triangles together at the angle across from their widest side.  I then sewed each of the other two corners together as to form the upper side of the pants.  Next I hand basted the legs to the triangles, and then I machine sewed the waistband to the top of it all.

This project took me about 25 minutes start to finish.

Jammies on the hanger.

Jammies on the kiddo.

Marcus LOVES these jammy bottoms.  If he looks in the drawer and they are clean, they are what he is wearing to bed that night.  Who could blame him though, they feel luxurious!

So to recap, I took a 95 cent Salvation Army sweater, and with another 50 cents of thread plus an hour and a half of my time, turned it in to a stylish sweater vest and matching scarf, and the most comfortable pair of pajama bottoms a little boy could ever wish for, with only a tiny handful of slivers of scrap.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Someone's in the Kitchen with Momma

Someone's in the kitchen, I kno-o-ow.  Someone's in the kitchen with Mom-ma, chopping and he's 5 years old!

Okay, he will be 6 year's old this month, but still I know that many reading this are thinking, "Eek, you are letting your little kid use a knife!"

Cooking is a fundamental life skill that so many adults kids lack these days.  My husband came to me with VERY little cooking skills and no knowledge of proper nutrition, and I am determined that my son will leave my nest knowing how to make a healthy and nutritious meal for himself and others.

Marcus's has been in the kitchen stirring things with me for quite a while (literally years).  When daddy is feeling particularly patient, he let's Marcus crack the eggs for Saturday breakfast.  He uses a butter knife to cut the softer items on his plate.  So, as far as I was concerned starting to chop was naturally the next skill for him to learn.

We started a few weeks ago with mushrooms.  I have him cut them in to quarters (think pie cut in to 4 pieces).  This week I decided that since he has been doing such a good job of cutting the mushrooms, I would let him move on to some tougher veggies.  Squash, zucchini, and peppers were the order of the day.

Showing him how to put the tip of the knife on the board and use the knife like a lever.

Chopping on his own.  He chopped all the veggies on the sheet pan.  The knife sitting on the counter is the paring knife he used to chop the mushrooms, and the knife in his hand is the small chef's knife that I refer to.

He has been doing great with chopping.  So far, all of his fingers are cut free, and I have enjoyed having an extra hand in the kitchen.  He is also eating his veggies even better than before, because he is invested in them.  He can take pride in them.

If/when you are brave enough to allow your child to start using a real knife I offer these tips:

1.  A sharp knife is a safe knife.  I know that this is hard for some of you to understand, but your child will have to push harder with a dull knife, making it more likely for an accident to happen because the knife slips.

2.  Use the appropriate knife for the job.  If you are chopping something softer, let your child use a small paring knife.  It will be more than sufficient.  If you decide to let them chop more resilient veggies and fruits, invest in a small/short chef's knife.  It is important that they learn which knives to use for what jobs and why.  And, they get a science lesson when you explain how leverage works as you are using the knife.

3.  Make sure that your child is at the proper height for chopping.  Marcus stands on a very stable step stool as he chops, and he has to have shoes on. Not something you would necessarily think about, but knowing that a knife could fall off the counter and pierce his foot (something my dear hubby experienced as a young boy) it makes me feel better.  Plus, I would hate for him to slip off of the stool in socked feet with a sharp knife in hand.

4.  Last, but not least.  You have to establish some ground rules.  Marcus knows that he is not allowed to handle a knife without a parent in the kitchen with him.  He knows that we don't run with knives in our hands, and that there is a proper way to walk with a knife.  He knows that when we are not chopping, the knife sits on the counter instead of the cutting board so that we don't pick up the cutting board and send the knife flying.  You have to decide what the rules in your kitchen are.  These are just mine.  I am sure that there are others that I am forgetting, but like I said...you have to establish your own rules.

One other word of advice, save your glass of wine until after the chopping is done! ;)