Update To my shampoo saga!

Hello, dear readers,

I’m writing to say that after a month of shampoo bar usage, I’ve decided a few things:

  1. Rinsing is extremely important when using shampoo bars. Cannot be overstated. Rinse, rinse, rinse more. I use a 1.5 cups of water, mixed with 1 TBSP of apple cider vinegar, to do an extra rinse after I rinse really well with the shower head, which helps detangle as well.
  2. On days when I don’t wash with the bar, I sometimes will rinse my hair out with water, and then another ACV rinse. This helps, again, with detangling, which is a major problem with my curls. The
  3. The Peppermint bar, while a huge improvement from the first bar I tried, is still not the Best. When I ordered it from Apple Valley Soap, I also purchased a Coconut Bar to try, because I liked the fact that it was only made from coconut oil (how is that even possible?) and essential oils for scent. I decided to try it on my hair, and see how I felt afterwards. The lather of this bar is FAR superior to any of the other shampoo bars I’ve found. Getting the bar to lather up is actually really important, or else you’ll end up with what is essentially soap scum residue in your hair. This also goes back to how important it is to rinse very well.

So, anyway, my hair washing journey is far from over, but I feel like I’m finally narrowing down my search for the ultimate eco-conscious and low-waste system. I’m also going to try using a henna/coconut milk conditioning treatment sometime soon, so I’ll let you know how that goes. Or, maybe you’ll know how it goes if you see me out and about with crazy hair, hahaha. I learned about this technique from a wonderful blog I discovered, Minimalist Beauty. Go check it out. You’ll lose an hour or two, if you find it as interesting as I did.

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Apple Valley Natural Soap Shampoo Bar Review

A while ago, on instagram, I began my saga of hair care, in which me and my hair went through a lot together. It started with the decision to switch from regular shampoo (of the cheapest variety… suave, to be exact) to an all natural shampoo bar, with apple cider vinegar to condition. I began my journey with a soap bar that came highly recommended by a friend, and which my husband still really loves! The bar in question was from The Cheeky Maiden Soap Company and I really wanted to love it. However, as I later learned, curly hair is finicky, and this bar did not work out for my hair. I ended up with the weirdest residue in my hair, and it felt quite waxy. I’m not sure what happened, but things weren’t going well. I wore a lot of hair scarves.

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After that, I decided to try a new bar. I searched high and low, from Etsy to Lush (by the way, all of Lush’s shampoo bars have sodium laureth/lauryl sulphate in them, so if you’re looking for all natural, don’t look there.) and finally came upon Apply Valley Natural Soap Company. Their website was chock full of good reviews, and they have over 30 different shampoo bars in stock. I ordered the peppermint tea tree oil bar (because… lice is a thing in the schools around here, lately) and waited anxiously for it to arrive, waxy hair and all.

After two weeks of use, I’m happy to say that my hair is A) no longer waxy and B) extra clean and conditioned. Exactly the results I was going for. I use 1 TBSP of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 oz of water to condition, after washing, and I only wash about every 4 days.

Curly hair stamp of approval!Apple Valley Natural Soap

DIY Baby Pajama Pants

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DIY Baby Pajamas Pants! For this project, you’ll need one pair of adult flannel pants, and one stretch (preferably including at least 2% spandex) knit tank or tshirt, and about 12 inches or so of 1/2 inch elastic — unless the pjs you’re using have 1/2 inch elastic. Mine used 1 inch, which was just too wide for baby pjs.

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I have had this pair of flannel pajama pants in my pile of fabric to be refashioned for quite some time. You can’t tell in this picture, but the tiny print is actually chihuahuas, wearing antlers and tiny sweaters. It’s perfection. Not for me, because I don’t actually wear pajama pants to bed (I prefer leggings… pants get all bunchy… I’m a delicate flower, you know.) but for their inherent value as a source of awesome fabric for other things. Once I cut them up, they yielded a full yard of fabric in two pieces. for 50 cents. OH YEAH.

Moving on. I wanted to make Lucy some new pj pants because the poor girl has only two sets of winter pajamas, and, since we just finished potty training, zip-up footies are not the best choice for her. I kind of hate drafting pants patterns because they’re pretty fussy to me. I was inspired by the harem pants style, with the dropped crotch, because A) COMFY1000 B) only one pattern piece to make, and only two to sew. 20150911_161108This is how you’ll want to cut the pants up. You’ll have one piece of fabric for each leg (cut down the center seam at the waist, to separate the legs, and then cut up the side seam to lay them out flat) and a nice piece of elastic to use for another project.

Next, you’ll need to grab a pair of your child’s baggiest woven pants, to make a pattern. I used Lucy’s jeans.

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Trace around the pants, rounding out the crotch about an inch or two below where the crotch is on your actual pants. Then, I cut out the two pieces of the pants, being careful to center the seam from the original pants on the center of my new pants, but you don’t necessarily have to do that. It just looks better. 🙂 I actually only used one pant leg for this whole pattern, so I can make another pair of pants from these babies. Again, for 50 cents! (or free, if you have some pj pants lying around, unused.)

All right, so, next, I sewed the right sides together, leaving the waist and leg openings open. I pinned first. I know it’s a lot of trouble and seems like a waste of time, but pinning is worth it. JUST DO IT!! (best Shia Lebeouf impression.)

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Here’s where things get real. Now, get out your tank top and cut some strips for the leg bands and waist band. I made mine 2 inches wide, and about 30% shorter than the actual waist and leg openings. I wanted them to cinch the openings by their natural elasticity. In the waist, I used elastic as well, but the legs don’t need it, although you could certainly add it if you wanted.

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After you’ve got those cut, you’ll want to sew the ends together, to form loops of knit fabric. Then, pin the waistband to the waist of the pants. Do this with the pants right side out, and face the right side of the waistband to the right side of the pants. Like this:

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Since the strip of knit fabric is smaller than the flannel, there will be some puckering, but when you sew it, you’ll stretch it out to match the flannel, so it’ll all work out. Just make sure you pin in evenly, accounting for the stretch.

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See, stretch out that fabric when you sew!

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Next, sew your elastic into a loop. Place it around the waistband on the inside, then fold the waistband over it, and pin. Make sure when you pin the waistband down on the inside that you cover the raw edges of the flannel and the knit where you sewed the first seam.

Now, when I sewed this seam, I chose to sew it from the outside of the waistband, so that there was a nice, even seam, and I could follow the guide of the fabric. This is not how I pinned it. That was  a mistake, and it was only after I’d taken the photos and finished the seam that I realized it. You can do it either way, but you’ll end up with a nicer looking pant if you sew on the outside of the pants, instead of from there inside, where I pinned them. 20150911_182325

Voila! I didn’t take photos of the process for the leg openings because it got dark, but also because it’s exactly the same as the waistband, except without the elastic.

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Lucy loved her new pants, and in fact, wore them to bed that night, and then all the next day. The plus side of refashioning is that the fabric is already at maximum softness and I appreciate that. Also, this is Lucy’s first selfie. She hasn’t found her most flattering angle yet, but I’m sure she will.

Let me know if you decide to DIY yourself some baby pj pants using this tutorial! I’d love to see your creations.

Lucy’s Gemini Tunic

A while back, I knitted myself a Gemini Pullover (by Jane Richmond) and pretty much loved it. I used Berocco Weekend yarn, and also loved that for its durability and drape. Cotton is king in Alabama, despite my love affair with wool. It’s only cold enough to wear a wool sweater for about 3 months a year, here, sadly.

Anyway, I had one whole skein of yarn left over after knitting my sweater, so of course, I cast on a little tunic for Lucy, in the same style as my Gemini.

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I love the mommy and me thing, and I really loved knitting this mini sweater. All the satisfaction of knitting a whole garment, without the whole months long time commitment. I decided to skip the lace yoke because I thought it was too grown up, and also… I hate lace. Although the lace in this pattern wasn’t difficult at all… I’m just really not great at it. I love a good garter yoke, too.

Lucy was less than thrilled about this photo shoot, unfortunately for me.

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These were the best I could get before she really lost her mind, trying to pose in front of the oscillating fan and computer processor, two of the most photogenic props she could find. I wanted the sweater to fit a little long, like a tunic, which you can’t see too well here, but I think it’ll look really sweet with skinny jeans if it ever gets cooler here. Of course it features pockets, made from fabric I actually ordered just for this purpose because I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect it was. Robert Kaufman London Calling in Medium Peach.

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I love how it turned out, and I’m so proud of myself for creating my own pattern. I’m working on writing it up to share here for fellow knitters. Maybe one day I’ll manage a mommy and me photo with Lucy, but don’t get your hopes up, nothing’s ever certain when it comes to Lucy!

Going to the beach, beach. Let’s go catch a wave, wave.

Well, last weekend, we went to the beach. It was just us four, and it was our first vacation all by ourselves. It was such a fun time! The kids behaved, and Andrew and I really enjoyed just relaxing and playing with the kids, without any work or cleaning, or school to deal with. wpid-img_20150813_152607.jpg

As is typical for me, I packed three knitting projects, one coloring book (Johanna Basford’s Enchanted Forest — such a fun coloring book for grown ups!), and only enough clothes for 2 days, although we stayed for 3. Oops. At least I had my knitting, though, AMIRITE??

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We took the kids out on the pier, which they loved, although my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest at the un-bidden images in my mind of them falling off it and into the water below. “Get away from the edge! What if you fall in!” never mind the fact that it would’ve been nearly impossible for this to happen. Mom fears know no bounds.

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I also took some pictures of them on the beach. Andrew really wanted to be in this picture, but I was mean and cut him out. Actually, I didn’t notice that he was trying to be in the picture until it was too late, and then the kids ran off, so I gave up. At least the side of his face is in it, which is more than I can say for myself, of whom there are zero pictures from this vacation. Maybe I wasn’t even there.

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The kids also really loved the side-loading washing machine. It was one of the highlights of the trip for them. Who needs tv when you can just watch the clothes wash? Well played, Samsung.

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Finally, no vacation would be complete without the consumption of copious amounts of junk food, which, in this case, was donuts. I think Lucy had the right idea… “STUFF IT IN THERE!”

Sometimes, after vacation, I’m tempted to say, “Well, it’s nice to be home.” But in this case, I had so much fun that I was a little sad to come home. I’m looking forward to vacationing again with my best buds, next year. I guess everyone’s more fun when there’s no chores, and french fries can be for dinner every night. HA ha.

Lucy’s Pinafore Romper

So, by this point, you may be wondering what I do with all my thrift store fabric. Well, to be very honest, I have piles of fabric everywhere. Or, to the untrained eye, it may just look like a bunch of clothes I never wear, because I don’t cut the fabric up until I get ready to use it. I do this because it’s my refashioning nightmare to need more of a certain fabric and then realize that I threw away what little I had left because I mistakenly thought I didn’t need it. The struggle is real, y’all.

Anyway, I’ve had this dress idea burning a hole in my mind for a few months, and today, I decided to just MAKE IT. I didn’t draw a sketch or even make a pattern, because I’m a rebel. I knew I wanted a cross strap back, (because I’m obsessed, y’all) with an elastic skirt, and a big pocket on the front of the bodice. One day, I aspire to be a legit designer instead of just a wing-it sewer, and when that day comes, maybe I’ll have a sketch or two to show you, but for now, all you get are the photos of the finished product, and promises to make more.

I call it Lucy’s pinafore romper.

DSC_0073There are a few changes I will make to my pattern, since this was the first draft. I think I’d like the pocket to be just a smidge smaller on all sides, and the bodice to be a little lower at the neck, but over all, I’m very pleased with this first attempt to create my vision.

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Lucy seems to like it, too. Especially the pocket. Pockets are her favorite thing about every article of clothing she owns. If there’s not a pocket on it, I better not even bother trying to get her to wear it. Not that she uses the pockets, but she NEEEDS them nonetheless.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to refining this pattern and making more. This one was a dream to sew because I made it from a gently used t-shirt from Lands End that I found at the thrift store. Whenever I run across t-shirts that are basically new, and originally from a nice store like Lands End (or LLBean, Eddie Bauer, etc) I buy them for their fabric. The bigger the better. When it comes to refashioning, you want a durable fabric, because there is literally no point in poring out your sewing soul over a garment that is already worn out by the time you finish it.

I think this pattern would work well in a nice sturdy woven, too, as a cute jumper for fall/winter. I’m excited to try it out. What colors would you guys like to see? Have you refashioned anything as of late?

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Thrift Store Thursday

If you follow me on facebook, you may have seen my post yesterday about my big score at the thrift store. I got a little giddy. Not only did I find a huge bag full of fabric to use for hair scarves and headbands galore, but I also stumbled upon a vintage silk pencil skirt. When I bought it, I thought it was just a cool poly blend in an awesome color. When I got home and started folding my now-clean purchases, I looked at the tag and discovered that not only was it a vintage size 6 (oh, for the days when a size 6 was actually my size. I was born in the wrong era. There should not be such a thing as size 0… what are you trying to say, clothing manufacturer? That I’m nothing? At least start the scale at 1! I digress.) but also it is 100% silk.

I tried to take a photo of the shimmery quality of the fabric, but it is difficult to photograph. I’m wearing it to a wedding this Sunday, so I’ll try to get a better photo then. Can I just also say that this skirt only cost me $1.50?

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I also got that cute striped t-shirt which I probably won’t wear with the skirt, but that matched for the purpose of the photo. Guys, when my husband got home from work, I probably gushed about this skirt for about 3 whole minutes. He had to tell me to shut up.

Moving on. I also got a lot of fabric for my shop.

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And, for my last find of the day, I got this cute vintage sheet with ideas of making a few cute dresses. Maybe with solid color trim and cute big pockets?

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It’s so delicate and cute. We’ll see what I end up making with it.

You guys had any good thrift store finds lately?