Category Archives: Sewing

13 in 15: New Year, New Skills

The year is coming to a close. I’ve taken a look back at the skills I’d set out to master in 2014 and made a new list for 2015.

A few of my proposed skills smack of New Year’s resolutions, but I think it takes some skill to stick to a resolution so fitness and meal planning made the list.

1. Publishing
I’ve been encouraged by family and friends to attempt to publish some of the stories I’ve written over the past year. I admit, I would love to see some (or all) of my stories in print. I of coursethink they are great (she says modestly), but I’m not so sure I’m up for the rejection that comes with sending them out to publishers.

I worry about criticism. Constructive criticism is welcome and I look forward to it, but mean-spirited criticism, without any attempt at civility? Am I ready for that? Can I handle it?

I sure hope so.

2. Seed Saving
We’ve been saying for a few years now that we are going to start saving seeds. We mean well at the beginning of the season but somehow, whether it is because we are tired or lazy, we barely even try. We tell each other that we will just do it next year, when we’ve really had time to research it.

Well, just like we plan to get to all of those indoor projects in the cold months, we plan to actually research seed save this year.

No, really.

3. Concealed Carry
I am so much more comfortable around handguns since taking the Women on Target class. This year, my husband and I are going to start the concealed carry permit process.

We’ll need 16 hours of instruction, class work and live fire, in order to qualify. I’m looking forward to learning more about the laws surrounding concealed carry and to getting more target practice in.

4. Reloading
This one has been on our list for several years now. Since we are going to apply for our concealed carry permits…it’s high time we get going on reloading as well.

5. Auto maintenance
In November, my husband asked me if I wanted to learn how to change my oil. Even though auto maintenance was on the list for 2014, I told him no. Why? Oh, laziness was part of it and…nope, it was all just laziness.

I’m a fair-weather-learn-to-change-my-oil kind of gal, so in the spring or summer, I’ll master this skill (or at least try it once).

6. Sewing
Now that I’ve mastered, ok, attempted to master…fine, now that I’ve sewed one hem (and rather poorly), I’m going to try sewing a simple pattern such as an apron or a pillowcase. Should be easy enough, right?

7. Essential Oils
I’ve taken the plunge and bought an essential oil starter kit from Young Living. It came with a 450 page quick start guide and, I’m told, that there is a bigger guide for more detailed info on each oil. Yikes.

I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my mood and health since I’ve started diffusing essential oils in my home. It may all be in my head, but I do feel better so…doesn’t that mean it is working? Even if it is all a figment of my imagination?

8. Back to “prepping”
We’ve been lax on our prepping skills and I’m not sure why. Sure we garden, raise chickens and have been working hard building up our homestead, but we’ve let many of the other parts of prepping slide.


We need to get better at food and water storage, home defense, 72 hour kits in the vehicles and the list goes on. We will slowly get back up on track, and it’s not just a matter of checking things off the list…it’s keeping those boxes checked and making preparedness a habit.

9. Curriculum Planning
Now here is one I keep pushing back. I keep saying, “Oh, I’ll get on that next month” and then the month comes and goes with no progress on curriculum planning.

This winter, I will start researching and planning in earnest and we will get back to a routine of sorts.

10. Meal Planning
I firmly believe that this is a skill. It takes a great deal of organization to plan meals and stick to it every month. It takes skill to make the grocery list and determine which store has the best price…and it’s not always Aldi.

Pinterest is an excellent resource for both the meals and the organization. The skill will be sticking to it.

11. Stocks and Investing
We’ve been meeting with a financial adviser and have become more interested in making our money “work for us”. Since we plan to invest, I’m going to do the responsible thing and learn more about the ins and outs of investing, mutual funds, bonds…all of that other scary financial jargon.

12. Fitness
I know, I know. Everyone has the fitness goal at the start of every new year, and it’s not so much a skill as it is a resolution. I’m putting it here, on my whiteboard, on a sticky note on my bathroom mirror, in my car and pretty much anywhere I can see it in order to keep myself motivated.

Right now, I’m participating in a 30-day arm challenge and at the first of the year I’m going to start a 30-day ab challenge. I’m also going to join a fitness club, both to meet people and to get fit.

13. Blogging
This year, I really am going to focus on this skill. I’ve been blogging for two years now and have 200+ followers so it is high time to start networking and learning how to make the most of the blogging world. I’m going to start with Five Minutes with Jack and see where that leads me.

So there is the list
The daunting and scary list
Challenge accepted

Sewing Lessons

Last year, in an effort to cram something in my “sewing” skill goal, I created a seat sack. I found the idea on Pinterest. It looked easy enough.

After a few attempts and considerable frustration, the “seat sack” was finished and quickly downgraded to a plastic grocery sack holder. Sadly, it was not even sturdy enough to remain in that role for very long.

This year, I am determined to add sewing (at least basic sewing) to my list of skills. Yesterday, my grandma took a look at my handiwork to see where it had all gone wrong.

We looked at the seams and I showed her the tutorial for the seat sack. She helped me re-do it so that it is sturdy and useful.  It took awhile because every time I would sit at the machine to follow Grandma’s instructions, the thread would tangle in the machine or the perfect seam I was sewing would suddenly become a ridiculous curve on the fabric. Obviously, the sewing machine did not like me.

Eventually, it was finished, and while not perfect, it is sturdy enough to hold file folders and other papers…keeping the desk area (somewhat) cleared.


After finishing the project I discovered a few things about myself.

1. I can’t sew a straight line.
2. I am impatient with things I do not fully understand.
3. I am intimidated by inanimate objects.

Fortunately, all three of these hurdles can be overcome through practice, patience and sewing lessons from Grandma.

I have plenty of scrap fabric to practice my stitching on, and I hope to master (or at least get better at) threading the bobbin and sewing a seam. But, getting comfortable and familiar with my machine is my top priority.

Sewing a Seat Sack: A So-So Result

My first sewing project. It was supposed to be a seat sack for quickly storing magazines, coloring books and other odds and ends when clearing the dining room table for dinner. I saw the idea on Pinterest and thought, “Oh, that looks like an easy first sewing project for me!”


And it would have been…had I bothered to check my enthusiasm and actually read through the directions a few times before starting. Perhaps a seasoned veteran in sewing could have whipped this together without a problem, but I am not seasoned in the art of sewing so I should have known better than to try and “wing it” on my first go.

The first part was easy enough. Ok, it was easy enough after my grandma showed me how to sew a seam correctly. Apparently, when you are sewing a seam, the pretty sides of the fabric you are working with should face each other. I had just folded the fabric in half and started sewing which resulted in a frayed and sad looking seam.

There are several videos on YouTube that are helpful to watch before you start sewing your seam. This is the one that I found to be helpful.

image image

After watching the video a few times and reading the section on seams in Sewing for Dummies, I was ready to try again. When I finished my seam was very uneven and not quite as beautiful as I had hoped, but after flipping the fabric around I let out a little giggle because at least it slightly resembled a seam!



Then I went back and sewed the top. In hindsight, I should have done this step before sewing the seam. Not only would it have made it look prettier than it does, but it would have made the whole thing a lot sturdier. (Alright, so I only realized this after going back and fully reading the instructions.)

I’m not really sure how much weight this pocket will be able to hold so I may end up using it to store plastic grocery sacks instead of heavy books and magazines. But, I am considering this a success in that I learned how to (correctly) sew a seam, which I’m told is the most basic of sewing techniques. Boy do I have a long way to go!