creative habit · Home · Sewing

On Washing Fabric + Just Getting Started


gray buffalo check curtains

I hit a slump a few weeks ago.

My motivation has been low.

My to-do list is multiplying like rabbits.

My neck and back got tweaked after dragging a treadmill down the street and then trying to carry a giant bag of potting soil by myself. (Why do I think I still have the strength of a 20 year old??)

I just wasn’t getting much done.

I thought back to a few bigger projects I’ve worked on recently, trying to figure out what I did exactly to get started.

For my recent PTA audit, I started by sharpening my pencils and printing out spreadsheets.

For a bunch of mending projects I needed to get done, I made a pile of things and placed them next to my sewing box.

Even for writing a blog post, just adding a title to a post and listing a few ideas is often enough to get me started.

Right after I started thinking about big projects in tiny steps, I came across this article about the Ivy Lee Method. It struck me, not because any single project is the most important thing I could do on a particular day (one of the big ideas behind this method), but because of the idea of overcoming the “friction of starting” by focusing on just one single step.

So, for my project today – curtains for BB’s room, something that’s been on my list for TWO YEARS – I started small.

I washed the fabric.

(And yes, I actually wrote “wash fabric” on my to-do list.)

You may recall that we did a few projects in his room a couple of summers ago. I ordered gray buffalo check fabric then to make him some coordinating curtains.

But I just haven’t gotten around to it. It’s shown up on my to-do list every couple of months, but I knew it was going to take a long time (I’m not a very fast seamstress). The thought of making these curtains start-to-finish was overwhelming.

gray buffalo check curtains

But just getting started with the smallest possible step – washing the fabric – was easy.

gray buffalo check curtains

After that, I broke it down into tiny steps that I could do in little bits of time – measure and pin the panels, iron the hems, sew the hems, install the curtain rods, attach the clips, hang the curtains.

gray buffalo check curtains

And then, just like that, it was finished!gray buffalo check curtains


BB got this awesome microscope for his birthday from the Fake Adopted California Grandparents. It’s been SO much fun to look at anything and everything we’ve come across over the last few weeks!

(Confession: Our kids clean their own rooms, but I did some deep cleaning for these photos. It NEVER, I mean NEVER EVER looks like this. He came home and said, “Whoa, Mom! What happened to my room? It looks amazing!” Yeah, don’t get used to it, buddy.)

gray buffalo check curtains

gray buffalo check curtains

Every time I walk by his door, I smile. (Even with the piles of LEGOs back on the floor.)

I LOVE how much brighter and put-together his room looks with the curtains, and I appreciate the daily reminder to break big projects into the next tiny step.

(Next on my list? “Fix finials” – because these mismatched ones on BB’s curtain rods are driving me bonkers!)





DIY · Sewing · Style

DIY Modern Patched Denim

DIY Patched Denim

Last week, I showed you my top 5 things to do with thrifted jeans.

One of my favorite things to do with thrifted (or just old) jeans is to cut them up to use for patches.

Last year, I did a tutorial on DIY distressed denim and how to use patches on the inside of the jeans to reinforce the holes. You can check out that tutorial here.

Today, I’m showing you how to add patches to the outside of your jeans. I was inspired by these images I found on Pinterest:

take aim patched denim
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Here’s what I used for this project:

  • a pair of jeans to patch
  • another pair of jeans or denim scraps to make patches
  • scissors
  • needle and thread (I used white)
  • pins to hold patches in place
  • sewing machine (optional)

DIY Patched Denim

This is what the jeans looked like before – saggy knees that have lost some of the elasticity of the spandex threads that give the jeans stretch.

DIY Patched Denim

I wanted the patches to be different colors, so I cut one patch from a thrifted pair of jeans, and I cut the other patch from an old pair of jeans that I had already repaired. I thought the ripped and resewn part would add some fun texture.

DIY Patched Denim

Place the patches where you want them to be sewn.

DIY Patched Denim

Pin patches in place. Now you will begin to stitch the patches to the jeans. For the top and bottom of the patch, I used my machine, but I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to do the left and right side stitches that way, so I used needle and thread to finish.

DIY Patched Denim

I used back stitching for this part. (Here’s a great illustration of how back stitch works.) Start with the needle and thread inside the leg of the jeans. Poke the needle through at least 1/4″ away from the side of the patch and about 1/2″ from the bottom. Pull thread through to the knot.

DIY Patched Denim

Insert needle about 1/4″ toward the bottom edge of patch and guide it to about 1/4″ past where the thread is sticking out.


Pull thread tight and insert needle at the end of the previous stitch.

DIY Patched Denim

Guide needle through the inside of the jeans and poke out about 1/4″ past where thread is sticking out. Repeat until you have a full line of stitches, stopping at about 1/4″ from the opposite edge of the patch. Tie off the thread on the inside of the jeans.

I made a little video (my first on the blog!) to show you what this looks like in action:

And there you have it, how to add patches to your jeans.

DIY Patched Denim

I had forgotten how much I love hand-stitching. I find it super relaxing. Maybe it takes me back to my childhood cross-stitching days, or maybe it just makes me slow down and focus only on what I’m doing. Either way, I think I need to find some things to embroider, or at least find some more things to patch. I’m sure BB and BG have some holey jeans that need fixing!

DIY · Sewing · Style

DIY Blanket Scarf


As I type, it was 63 degrees here today. It was the first day I’ve been out of the house since Thursday. (We’ve all been sick, and we’re not all better yet.) It was so nice to go outside for a bit and see some sunshine. You know I love rain, but days and days and days of clouds make you start miss the warmth and the light. Something in the air today reminded me that spring is coming.

But winter’s not over yet. Rain and snow and blizzards are still in the forecast for much of the US.

On a cool, rainy day, there’s nothing I love more than some warm, cozy layers – puffy vests, wool cardigans, warm scarves. Today, I’m going to show you how to make your own warm flannel scarf.

(You might have been around that other time I made a scarf – out of pajama pants. Yep, that was a thing I did. You know me, always up for a DIY challenge!)

This time, I’m making a scarf from “scratch” – if “scratch” is buying flannel at Jo-Ann and cutting it and making a quick running stitch and calling it done. I’m gonna go ahead and call that “from scratch”.

It’s simple.

Here’s what you’ll need:


  • A couple of yards of flannel
  • Seam ripper (a large needlepoint needle will work, too)
  • Sewing machine and coordinating thread

Start by cutting your fabric into a square. My flannel was 54″ wide, so I cut it to 54″ in length as well.


Use your sewing machine to run a straight stitch down the sides of the square to keep threads in place. (We are going to fray the edges a little, but you don’t want it to all unravel on its own.) I found a stripe of black in the plaid – about 1/2 inch from the edge – and used that as a guideline.


After stitching, tie off your thread. I do this by pulling up on the top thread, which pulls the bottom (bobbin) thread up, too. Pull the bottom thread all the way through to the top of the fabric and tie it off with the top sewing thread. Trim loose ends.

Now, flannel is a woven fabric with warp and weft. (See more posts about warp and weft here and here.) You can create a little bit of fringe on the ends of the scarf by removing a few of these threads.


Use a seam ripper (or large needlepoint needle) to pull some of the flannel threads loose.


Pull these threads out the length of the scarf.


Continue to remove flannel threads until you have a desired length of fringe. (I did just under half an inch.)


Tie it around your neck, and off you go. Ready for a winter’s day.


I have worn these rain boots WAY more days than not this winter. I see in this picture they are still filthy even though I tried to wipe them down before taking photos. Here’s why:

One day, on the way to school, the storm drain was clogged with lots of leaves, so the kids and I used our boot-clad feet to clear the drain so the water could flow down the street better. Now, every single time it’s raining and we walk by a drain, both kids start cleaning, and BB says, “Mom, you better use your big boots.” Even if the water is flowing fine. Even if there are only 4 leaves.  Even if it’s barely sprinkling. Afterward, BB and BG act like we’re superheroes, saving the neighborhood from enormous puddles. I love it.

Better keep my superhero cape scarf out and ready – there’s more rain coming!