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Three Reasons Why Kids Should Wear Bibs

Bibs.  Either you like them or you don’t.  Allow me to share three good reasons why I think kids should wear bibs for all messy activities.

No bib kid

Toddler Bib Bibs save you time. 

Foods like peaches, apples, and chocolate can permanently stain fabrics.  The best way to prevent these and other foods from landing on your kid’s clothing is to use a bib that covers all or most of his shirt.  Granted, it can take a few seconds to tie a bib on your hungry little one, but it can take minutes to treat stains before laundering clothing.  It can take hours to work long enough to buy new clothes to replace the ones that are ruined by food stains.

Bibs keep your kids comfortable. 

Soggy clothing is not comfortable!  Would you want to spend the afternoon wearing a wet, sticky shirt?  I know I wouldn’t want to, but I’ve seen plenty of kids walking around with shirts that are soaked with drool or milk or juice or food.  Yuck!

Save your kid the aggravation of a soggy shirt by tying a bib on her before she starts to eat or drink.

Bibs are cute!

Bibs come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of pictures and cute sayings on them.  Some bibs, like the ones I sell in my Etsy shop, are cute enough to be considered clothing.

If you’ve got young children or grandchildren, I urge you to make a habit of tying on a bib at mealtimes.  You’ll be surprised how much better your child will look and feel with clothes that are clean and dry!  You’ll feel better, too!

What’s your opinion on bibs and kids?


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What’s in a Name?


What’s in a name?  If the extent of my agonizing over whether or not to change my online business name is any gauge, then a name is pretty darn important!

Last month, I made a big change in my online business.  I made the decision to re-brand my business using my own name, and I hired a graphic designer to make a logo that suited my business.  I’m very pleased with the work my designer did for me, and I’m pleased that my business name is consistent locally and online.

I have three main reasons for changing my business name, and here they are:

  1.  My official business name, the one that I use on my tax return and on any official paperwork is “Elaine Searer Sewing & Alterations”.  I chose that name, not because it’s cute or catchy, but because it’s free.  In Pennsylvania, I do not have to pay a fee to use my own name as my business name.  If I choose a fictitious name (like My Grandma Sews), then I have to pay to file that fictitious name with my state.
  2. Because I never paid to use the name My Grandma Sews, it wasn’t really mine.  I had no legal claim to it, and if another businessperson wanted to go into business using that name, I would have no recourse to stop them or to protect my use of that name.  I considered it highly unlikely that I would ever get into a business fight with anyone wanting to use that name, but just the same, the possibility was there that I could work to build a brand and then have it snatched from me.Some people might ask why I didn’t just register that name.  I could have done that, but I’m already operating a successful local sewing and alterations business under a different name…you guessed it!  Elaine Searer Sewing & Alterations.  What are the chances that my local customers would ever begin to refer to my business by a fictitious name?  Slim to none.
  3. The last reason is just that the word “grandma” was not the image I wanted to portray to my online customers.  I like being a grandma, but I was concerned that the using the word “grandma” would make potential customers think “old-fashioned”.  While I do consider my choice of patterns and projects to be classics, I do not consider them old-fashioned!

    My other concern is that while the word “grandma” seemed cute to use for a business that makes children’s items, it would not suit me if I decided to list items in my shop that are not for children.With the help of my graphic designer, I made the decision to brand myself with the business name that I already own and use:  Elaine Searer Sewing & Alterations.

    Some people have mentioned that they miss My Grandma Sews, and I miss that name a bit myself.  I am, however, convinced that I made the right decision for me and my growing business.

    If you’d like to see the rest of my new graphics, please visit me on Facebook at and  and my Etsy shop at .

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Car Seat Ponchos Available Now

Now that you know that a car seat poncho could help to keep your child warm and safe this winter, I want to share some details about the fleece car seat ponchos hand-crafted by me, Elaine Searer. fleece car seat poncho

First of all, the name “car seat poncho” doesn’t tell the whole story.  These ponchos are great for traveling, but they are also warm, comfy, and easy to wear for other cold weather activities.  The ponchos are made from two layers of anti-pill fleece, making them a soft, warm alternative to a winter coat.  They can be layered over sweatshirts or sweaters or other jackets.  These ponchos are especially convenient for those kids who don’t like to wear coats.
car seat poncho A car seat poncho is perfect for children of all ages who travel in car seats.  You can see in the photo above that the snap-front poncho is just right for this eight-month-old.   car seat poncho with chest harness The poncho goes over the car seat buckles so nothing interferes with the child’s safety.  Hand slits make it possible for children to hold a book, snack, or toy in the car, too.  car seat poncho with hand slits My handcrafted car seat ponchos are not just for girls.  The style is gender neutral, and the fabric choices allow for customization to anyone’s preferences.  Here’s a snap front infant sized poncho in a print that would be suitable for boys or girls. The snap front ponchos close with color coordinated plastic snaps from KAMsnaps.   car seat poncho with snap front The fleece ponchos that I make are great for those moms who like to carry  or wear their babies close to them.  The poncho does not interfere with the carrier, but still provides warmth for the baby.  baby wearing poncho My ponchos are carefully handcrafted using only anti-pill fleece, and the generous size range can allow you to purchase one poncho that can be worn for two or more years by your favorite little one.

The zipper front ponchos are made with a sturdy nylon coil jacket zipper and include a zipper tab cover at the top to prevent the zipper from rubbing sensitive chins.  zipper with tab cover

The ponchos come in a wide range of sizes and are priced accordingly:
3-6 months     $35.99
12 months         35.99
2T                       39.99
4T                       42.99
6                          46.99
8                          46.99

To place a custom order. view my inventory, or get more information, please contact me by using the form on this site, by emailing me at mygrandmasews@gmail(dot)com, or by visiting my Facebook page at .

I also have a Facebook group, My Grandma Sews, where I post individual listings or take custom orders.  I’d love to have you join us there!

Keep your little one warm and safe this winter with a hand-crafted fleece poncho.  All of my children’s items meet CPSC safety requirements.  




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Car Seat Ponchos for Safety and Warmth

Here in Pennsylvania, we’re still enjoying summer weather with temperatures in the high 80s, but these warm summer days will soon be a memory.  When the temperatures start to fall, how can you keep your little ones warm and safe for fall and winter traveling?

You may need to swap out that heavy winter coat for a cozy car seat poncho.
Car Seat Poncho

Until a few years ago, I had no idea that buckling an infant or child into a car seat while he is wearing a winter coat is not safe.  A puffy winter coat will prevent the car seat straps from fastening tightly enough to keep a little one safe.  Here’s an article from Consumer Reports that explains exactly what can happen when a child is buckled into his car seat while wearing his winter coat.  (Consumer Reports article) 

Car Seat poncho

A car seat poncho can be worn on a child over the car seat buckles rather than under them.  The poncho drapes over the back of the car seat, and the front of the poncho covers the child keeping him or her warm and cozy while in the car.
car seat poncho Last winter when I found this pattern designed by Stitch Upon a Time, I knew I needed to make one for my granddaughter Aaliyah.  Her parents were already putting safety first and buckling her into her car seat without her coat.  They used a common technique which was to remove her jacket when she got in the car and then cover her over with it.  The problem with that was that the coat would often slip off onto the floor.

I made her a car seat poncho, and she and her parents loved it!  I used two layers of anti-pill fleece for comfort and warmth.  The poncho zips up the front and includes a hood.  I added hand slits so that Aaliyah can hold a book or toy.  She liked it so much that I decided to offer these for sale on my Facebook page and in my Etsy shop this fall.

car seat poncho

I’ve got lots of beautiful fleece fabric, and I’ll be listing the ponchos on Facebook and Etsy in the next couple of weeks.  The ponchos that I’m making range in size from 3-6 months to size 8, and they aren’t just for traveling in the car.  They are perfect for other fall and winter activities.  If you’d like more information on prices and fabrics and how to place an order, please “like” my Facebook page so you won’t miss their debut.

The ponchos meet CPCS safety requirements for children.

I want to send a special thank you to my grandchildren, Aaliyah and Jayden who modeled the ponchos last Sunday when it was ninety degrees here in Pennsylvania.  Don’t worry, we didn’t keep them on them for more than a few minutes!

Enjoy the rest of summer because Old Man Winter’s on his way! 


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Making Children’s Wear Safe

Being a small business owner can be rewarding and challenging.  My sewing business provides me both rewards and challenges.  One of my most recent challenges involved compliance with regulations concerning making children’s wear safe.

My sewing business consists of alterations (but NOT prom or bridal alterations!), some custom sewing, and some handmade products that I sell.  For a few years, the bulk of my sewing projects were bags and purses.  Over a year ago, I ventured into doll clothes and had a great time sewing clothing for 18″ dolls like the American Girl dolls. My Grandma Sews

It was around that time that I heard or saw something about safety regulations for children’s wear and toys.  My first response was to pretend I didn’t see it!  I care about children’s safety, but the whole idea of bringing my business into compliance with CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) regulations was overwhelming.

I joined a Facebook group dedicated to helping artisans become compliant, and the amount of information there was mind-boggling.  My inclination was to stop producing any items for children.  I would continue to make bags and aprons and pillow covers and whatever else my customers wanted for themselves, but I was going to avoid this whole compliance issue by never sewing another item for a child.

No-Tie Apron
No-Tie Apron

That was fine until I saw some awesome patterns that I wanted to sew up for my granddaughter.  I had a feeling that others might ask to buy some of these designs, so I crept back into the Facebook Compliance group, took a deep breath, and started the process.  Step-by-step instructions helped tremendously, and I completed the process in a little over one month.

I am now pleased to say that all children’s products made and sold by me will meet the CPSC safety requirements. That means that all fabrics and notions used in my handmade treasures will have proper certifications stating that they meet safety standards for flammability, lead, BPA and phthalates.

All children’s items must be tagged to make tracking possible in the event of a product recall.  Ordering and receiving my own products tags was really exciting for me.  Having the tags in my hand-made my compliance journey complete, that and the ongoing paperwork that is necessary to keep track of all of this stuff.  Geesh!  I’d never have guessed sewing would involve so many numbers and codes and inventory lists and letters of certification and all of that jazz.
Seamstress doing paperwork

Here’s a stack of one of my tags that I bought to use on a new line of children’s wear for winter.  I’ll be posting more about that specific item very soon here on my sewing website and on my Facebook page.  Other children’s products that I make and sell include aprons and undies.   Compliance tags

If you buy handmade children’s wear, you might notice that not all sellers are compliant with the CPSC regulations.  Most who are will note that on their websites or Etsy store front.  We can’t assume that those who are not compliant are just ignoring the regulations.  Some may not even be aware of them which was the case for me for several years.

Now that I know about these pesky CPSC regulations, I would be careful to purchase children’s items from reputable business people who do make the effort to ensure that the products they sell are as safe as possible for the children who will use and wear them.

Does it make a difference to you if products you buy comply with federal safety standards?  Why or why not? 

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My Pinterest-Inspired Pedal Mats

I have tons of ideas pinned at Pinterest.  Every once in a while, one of those pins actually results in a project.  My most recent Pinterest-inspired project was a set of four pedal mats to keep my sewing machine foot pedals from sliding on my new laminate floor.
non-skid pedal mat

 Even on my carpeted floor, the sewing machine pedals had a tendency to move when I’m sewing.  Once I began using them on my new laminate flooring, I was constantly chasing the foot pedals across the floor.  Sewing was quite uncomfortable, and I knew I had to do something.  I tried putting a non-skid fabric under the foot pedal.  That didn’t work.  The fabric stayed put, but the pedal slid off of the fabric.

I tuned to Pinterest to search for a solution, and I found one!   non-skid sewing machine foot pedal

I followed the instructions in this blog post to make myself one of these non-skid mats for each of my four sewing machine pedals.  For less than a dollar, I bought a roll of non-skid cabinet shelf liner stuff to use for the non-skid part of these pedal mats.

I chose a small cut of fabric from my stash, and cut the binding and the pedal stoppers.  I spent about two hours on a Saturday afternoon making these pedal mats, and it was time well spent.  The mat itself is great, but the small roll of fabric and batting at the top of each mat is positively genius!  I never would have thought to add that little roll of fabric and batting to prevent the foot pedal from sliding off of the top of the pedal mat.   non-skid sewing machine foot pedal mat

I wasn’t all that careful about the actual sewing on these.  I did an average job of binding the edges and securing that bumper on the top.  If anyone wants to crawl under my sewing table to inspect my work, he or she might find a few imperfections. non-skid pedal mat

Ain’t Pinterest grand?  I’m so thankful for the original poster of this idea for sharing her creativity and expertise with the rest of us on Pinterest.  This project sure made my sewing room more comfortable for me!

What great ideas have you found on Pinterest? 

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Frog Novelty Fabric Purse

I love novelty fabrics, and I make no apologies for that!  Novelty fabrics are a sub-category of 100% cotton quilting fabrics that are printed with conversational themes that make them popular for a shorter period of time than most classic cotton quilting fabrics.  Here’s a few of the novelty fabrics that I have on my fabric shelf right now:  Novelty fabric collage

Fabrics that feature certain animals, hobby tools, foods, sports team logos, and the like are considered novelty prints.  Naturally, I’m drawn to novelty prints with sewing tools on them.  I also have some novelty prints with lemons, oranges, and apples.  Right now novelty prints with owls, cats, and birds are quite popular.  Almost anyone with a certain interest can find a novelty print to correspond.
For instance, I was recently approached by a customer who wanted me to make a bag for her daughter who loves frogs.  This customer was pretty specific:  green frogs on a dark background.  No problem!  I searched online until I found several prints that fit that description and purchased the one I liked best, which just happened to be this leaping frog print from Timeless Treasures.

I used a Veranda Tote pattern from Quilts Illustrated changing the outside pocket to a zippered one.  I like the way it turned out, and the recipient sent me a message saying she liked it, too.   Frog purse

There’s nothing like a novelty print to share your passion with the world!

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Tee-Shirt Memory Pillow

I’ve been making some memory pillow covers from clothing since December.  Until last week, all of the memory pillows I’ve made were fashioned from men’s button up shirts.

On more than one occasion, I’ve had someone ask if I could make a memory pillow cover from a tee shirt or a sweatshirt.  My answer to that question was affirmative, and last week, I finally gave it a try.

tee-shirt memory pillow
Tee-shirt Memory Pillow

My sister, whose husband passed away two years ago, gave me one of his tee shirts so that I could make a pillow cover for her granddaughter.  The shirt she gave me held sentimental value for this particular granddaughter who like to tease her pap when he wore this shirt.  I think she’s going to enjoy having this special reminder of her beloved grandfather.

The shirt had the same line “Old Guys Rule” on the back, and I was able to incorporate that into the back of the pillow.  memory pillow from tee shirt

A covered zipper on the back of the pillow cover allows easy removal for laundering.  This pillow cover was made to fit a 16″x 16″ pillow form.   memory pillow with zippered cover Here’s one last picture of my sister with the pillow made from one of her husband’s favorite tees.   memory pillow from tee shirt

If you’d like to have a memory pillow cover made from a clothing item, please contact me.  You can use the contact form here on this website or you can find me on Facebook at .

My price for turning a tee shirt or sweatshirt into a memory pillow cover is $20.

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My Little Pony Bedroom Makeover

My granddaughter Aaliyah just had a new baby brother!  In anticipation of the little guy’s arrival, his parents painted and furnished his nursery with a Lion King theme.

They thought this would be a good time to make a few changes in Aaliyah’s room, too.  At age 3.5, she is ready to transition from nursery to little girl’s room.  What better way to do that than with a My Little Pony bedroom makeover?

One of the things I love about Aaliyah’s parents is their commitment to save money when they can.  One way they could save money on this makeover was to pitch the idea of some MLP room accessories to Grammy who loves to sew.  I happily agreed to do a little sewing to make the My Little Pony room everything that Aaliyah would want it to be.

My Little Pony pillowcase

The first phase of the makeover was to sew up two My Little Pony pillowcases from this bright and cheery fabric that I purchased at Joanns.  The two coordinating fabrics were pulled from my scrap drawer, and I love the way these turned out!
My Little Pony fleece blanket

My next project was a My Little Pony fleece blanket, made from this soft and colorful anti-pill fleece also purchased at Joanns.  I wanted this to have an actual blanket look, so I mitered the corners and did a twin needle hem on this blanket.  Aaliyah loves it!  So does her dog Lily.   MLPstuff Justine (Aaliyah’s mom) wisely steered Aaliyah toward a theme that would work with her already pink walls and pink sheets.  Doesn’t her little toddler bed look adorable?

I bought an extra cut of My Little Pony fabric at Joanns, and my plan was to make a few throw pillows for on her bed.  I realized that decorative pillows for a toddler was a ridiculous idea.  With the addition of some plain fabric, I was able to turn that extra MLP yardage into two valances for Aaliyah’s windows.

This was a much better use of the fabric than more pillows, and I think the valances do a great job of making the Pony theme carry over into the rest of the room.   MLPstuff2

Thanks to a good sale at Joanns, this room makeover was pretty frugal and fun!

What kind of frugal room makeovers have you done? 

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Bluebell Dress in Microfleece

I’ve recently been buying and using more and more pdf sewing patterns.  On Black Friday last November many designers were having great sales with deep discounts on their pdf patterns.  One of the patterns that I bought that day was the Bluebell dress pattern from My Childhood Treasures.

Bluebell dress

Here’s my first run with this pattern, and I’m very happy with the results.  I chose a microfleece fabric that I bought at Joanns.

My favorite things about this pattern are the raglan sleeves (because they are super easy and super fast) and the circle skirt that is great for twirling.
Bluebell dress

Here she is on Christmas morning trying the dress on with her red pants.  I’m pretty sure she wears the dress (which is a little short on her) with black or gray leggings, NOT red pants.

I’m not a huge fan of hoods on inside clothing, but they seem to be popular right now.  I opted to put a pink hood on this dress, and it turned out okay.
bluebell dress with contrast hood

I’ve been sewing more and more with knit fabrics, and I love it!  The finished garments are soft and comfy, and the sewing is fast especially with a serger.  I sewed up this dress in under an hour.

If you’re looking for a quick sewing project with knit fabric for a little girl, I’d recommend this Bluebell dress pattern.  I’m planning to make a summer version in a mid-weight knit with a shawl collar and short sleeves.  I’ll be sure to let you know how that one turns out!

Bluebell dress




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