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Tee-Shirt Memory Pillow

Memory pillow made from a tee shirt

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.
Memory pillow made from a tee shirt

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 liked 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.

pillow made 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 https://www.facebook.com/elainesearersewing/ .

I’d be happy to work with you to make a memory pillow that you or a loved one will cherish.

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My Top Sewing Machine Buying Tip

Buying a sewing machine can be a challenge.  I’ve got some advice that can help with your decision.   Because I sew a lot and own several sewing machines, people ask me fairly often for advice in choosing a sewing machine for themselves.  Usually the questions are concerning the brand of sewing machine, the price of the sewing machine, and the features that I consider necessary.

I’m happy to offer my opinion on any or all of those questions, but my #1 word of advice for buying a new sewing machine has to do with WHERE to buy a sewing machine.  My advice is always that same.  Buy your new sewing machine from a sewing machine dealer.
Janome Magnolia 7330  

Recently, I decided to buy a new basic sewing machine so that I would have a back up machine for my “good” sewing machine that is getting older.  I wanted a Janome sewing machine so that all of the accessories would be interchangeable with the sewing machine I use most.  You might expect that since I knew what kind of machine I wanted and what features I would need, that I’d just log in to Amazon and have this machine on its way to me with that famous Amazon two-day free shipping.  That is NOT what I did!  Not only would I never buy a sewing machine from Amazon, but I also never recommend that you do that.

Instead of clicking that “buy now with one click” button, I drove to my local Janome sewing machine dealer.

Here are three reasons why I always recommend buying a sewing machine from a sewing machine dealer:

1.  At the dealership, I can see the sewing machine in person.  The dealer, who was trained by the sewing machine company will demonstrate how to use        the machine.  I can sew with the machine myself, just as I would test drive a potential new car.

2.  Sewing machine dealers offer repair and cleaning services to their customers.  Once a year when my sewing machine needs to be professionally                cleaned, I take it back to the dealer where I bought it.  I can also return to the dealer if my sewing machine should need to be repaired.

Last year, while working on a sewing project, I accidentally sewed over a straight pin.  My needle broke, and I could not get my machine to sew properly.  Because I depend on my sewing machine for my small business, this was a crisis.  I immediately called the dealer who is also known as The Sewing Machine Doctor.  He advised me of a few things I could try to get the machine working again. None of those suggestions worked, so he agreed to take a look at my sewing machine that same day!  Would I have gotten that kind of service from Amazon?  No way!

3.  I am supporting a small business in a nearby community.  As a small business owner myself, I know how important it is to support other small business       owners who can sometimes feel that we can’t compete with Amazon, Walmart, and other huge businesses.

Buying a sewing machine locally, just makes sense.  If you find yourself in the market for a new sewing machine, I hope you will consider shopping at a local sewing machine dealership.  I can guarantee you’ll be glad you did!
 . My Top Sewing Machine Buying Tip
Do you have a local sewing machine dealership in your area?

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A Trick for Too Tight Pants

denim blue jeans

I’m a little embarrassed about posting this hint on my blog.  For one thing, I don’t really like admitting to people that sometimes my pants are too tight.  For another thing, this hint is so well-known that it’s unlikely that many will find it useful.

This Trick Can Help You Breathe Easier

But on the outside chance that someone somewhere might breathe easier because of this hint, I’m going to go ahead and share it.  Recently, I shared this hint with someone in person, and she was impressed and appreciative.  So here goes!

If you’ve never wished for a little extra room around the waist of your pants, then I hate you you can skip this post.  For the rest of us, there is a way to gain a few extra inches around the waist of your zip and button pants. This works only if you are not planning to tuck your shirt in to your waist band.
blue jeans that fit but are too tight when I sit down

Here’s a regular pair of jeans that are quite comfortable when I’m walking or standing, but when I sit down, the waist feels too tight.  If you know of what I speak, then grab a rubber band or ponytail holder, and we’ll transform these pants from tight to comfy.

You can use a rubber band for this trick, but I prefer to use a soft ponytail holder.  If you need to use the one on the left in the picture below, you might want to buy new pants.  The smaller size will allow the waistband to stretch an additional inch or two. how to fix pants that are too tight around the waist

To complete our little “fix”, just thread the elastic band through the button hole in your pants, and then pull one end of the band through the loop so that it is secure in the buttonhole as pictured below.
how to fix jeans that are too tight around the waist
a quick fix for too tight jeans

Now, you can loop the elastic band over the button allowing the band to stretch as you move giving you a little extra room in the waistband.  Trust me, this works!  That little elastic band can mean the difference between being able to wear a particular pair of jeans or not.

While it’s probably true that those of us who need to use this trick probably already know about it.  But just maybe there’s one poor, sad soul out there who’s suffering through the day with her waistband digging into her muffin top.  This post is for her!

‘Fess up!  Have you ever used this nifty trick? 

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Working Hands Hand Cream Really Works!

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For the past few years, I spent a week or two in Florida with my sisters.  I can tell I’m up north this winter just by looking at my hands!  While I was in Florida, I noticed that I had no problem with dry, cracking skin on my fingers and thumbs, but here in Pennsylvania, I’m dealing with the perils of dry skin.

The biggest reason for dry skin is the cold, dry winter weather.  Working with fabric and frequent hand washing would also contribute to this problem, I’m sure.

A year or so ago, I saw an ad for a new hand cream called Working Hands.  I’m always looking for a miracle cure for the painful cracks that Jack and I both have on our fingers and thumbs during the winter months.  Those tiny little splits in the dry skin on the ends of my fingers and beside my thumb nails really hurt!  I think they might be more painful than childbirth, but someone who’s actually gone through childbirth would have to verify that.

I figured this Working Hands stuff would be just another hand cream, but I was so wrong!

This stuff is amazing!  First of all, it feels different from the way hand lotions feel on your hands.  It’s not greasy, and it doesn’t come off on things that you touch after you apply it.  The package says, “A little goes a long way”, and that’s true.  Jack and I both have been using just a few dabs of this stuff on our fingers and hands a couple times a day, and our cracked, dry skin is completely healed!

Just for the record, I’m passing this information along just because I like this product very much.  I did not receive any compensation for reviewing this product on my blog.  I’m reasonably sure that the makers of Working Hands don’t even know that I exist!  When I find a good product, I like to spread the word!

I have bought several containers of Working Hands hand cream.  I have found it at Target, Lowes, and Walmart stores.  Compared to bargain hand lotions, it’s a little pricier (about $6 for 3.4 oz.), but it’s so worth it!  It’s also available at Amazon.
O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream 3.4 oz, 2 Pack (affiliate link)
According to the Working Hands website, the company also makes a foot cream.  I seriously need to find some of that stuff, too!

I recommended Working Hands to my sisters, and they both agree that it is the best thing ever for healing and preventing those painful cracks on the tips of your fingers.  If you suffer from dry skin, I’d highly recommend Working Hands hand cream.  Or I suppose you could just move to Florida instead.

What do you use to keep your skin soft and smooth? 

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How to Fix a Split Zipper

One of the most common zipper malfunctions is a split zipper.  You’ve probably had this happen to you with a jacket or coat zipper.  After zipping your jacket, the zipper separates or splits open.  Most people think that a split zipper must be replaced, but that is not always the case.

I have fixed split or separating zippers many times without doing any sewing at all.  I’ll tell you how.

Here’s the most recent split zipper that I fixed in a matter of minutes without even picking up a needle or thread.  This particular zipper was on a work vest, and as soon as the owner zipped it, the zipper would split open every time.

Often the problem is not with the zipper, but with the zipper slide.  The zipper slide is the metal piece that slides up and down the zipper.  The zipper slide can stretch out of shape with use.  To fix the zipper and prevent it from separating, you may be able to tighten up the zipper slide by pinching it ever so slightly with a pair of pliers.  (If your zipper slide is plastic and not metal, then this technique will not work, and the zipper will have to be replaced.)

I have a pair of pliers specially made for zipper repair, but a regular pair of needle nose pliers should work for you.  You can see from this picture that I am using my pliers to squeeze the zipper slide just a tiny bit tighter.  Don’t squeeze too hard with the pliers or the slide won’t move up and down the zipper at all! 
I recommend tightening one side of the zipper slide and then trying the zipper out again.  If it still separates, then try tightening the other side of the slide, too.

After I tightened this zipper slide, I was able to zip the vest closed.  I pulled on it a few times trying to make it separate, but it wouldn’t.   Ah, I’m so happy that I was able to fix this one this way.  I certainly did not want to replace this zipper!

If you’ve got a jacket, coat, or any other item with a separating zipper, I hope you will give this technique a try.

I do not guarantee that a quick pinch of the zipper slide will fix your zipper.  Sometimes zippers really do need to be replaced, but I always recommend trying this method of repair first.

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How Much Should You Buy for Christmas?

Black Friday is less than a week away, and if you’re planning a big shopping day, you may be wondering just how much you should spend this year on Christmas gifts. I’m not going to tell you exactly how much money you should spend or how many gifts to buy, but I am going to encourage you to evaluate your spending by considering how much enjoyment the gifts will bring.

I’ve shared before things that I’ve learned from two of my favorite frugal books The Complete Tightwad Gazette and Your Money or Your LifeBoth of these books discuss a concept known as The Fulfillment Curve.

The idea behind the Fulfillment Curve is that money spent on our basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and the like, provide the biggest bang for our bucks.

We all know that spending money on things besides these basic necessities of life is still enjoyable, but to a lesser degree.  An example of this is buying a drink when you are so thirsty you can’t swallow (biggest payback on that money) and buying a drink so you have something to sip on in the car while you drive (still enjoyable, but not the same degree of enjoyment).

Spending on some luxuries can be fulfilling to a certain extent, but there is a point on the Fulfillment Curve where we actually receive LESS fulfillment for the dollars we are spending.   Most of us have seen this play out on past Christmases when a child loves the first toy he opens and would happily spend the rest of the day playing with that one new gift.  After his parents encourage him to open package after package, his enthusiasm for that first toy is diminished, and each new toy is greeted with a little less excitement.

It’s so very important for parents (and grandparents) to remember this when buying gifts for children.  Children and adults alike enjoy opening Christmas presents, but as the stack of gifts mount higher and higher, the enjoyment per dollar spent is proportionately less.

What do we do when it becomes more and more difficult to WOW people with a totally awesome gift?  We usually spend more money, but it doesn’t work.  What we need to do is find that sweet spot on the Fulfillment Curve for us and for our kids where enough is enough.  We must make a conscious effort to stop spending money beyond that point.

The bottom line is that is overspending on Christmas presents does not lead to a more enjoyable holiday.  It often leads to guilt, anger when the presents are not appreciated or cared for properly, and debt. Think about this when you are shopping for presents this year.

How do you keep the gift-giving and buying from getting out of hand at your house?

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What Customers Say About Extra Warm Car Seat Ponchos

I’ve been selling fleece car seat ponchos in my Etsy shop  since 2015.  The first year that I sold ponchos, I offered only one style of car seat poncho.  My regular car seat poncho was and still is made of two layers of anti-pill fleece.  Here in Pennsylvania, my grandchildren have found them to be cozy and warm.

Extra Warm Poncho

But what about those kiddos in extremely cold climates?  Would two layers of fleece be warm enough for a child in Minnesota or Wisconsin or Canada?  I wasn’t sure it would be.  That’s why, in my second year of poncho making and selling, I offered the option of choosing a layer of cotton quilt batting that I added between the two layers of anti-pill fleece.

Last year, one third of my poncho orders were for extra warm ponchos.  Most of those extra warm ponchos made their way north to colder states and to Canada.

This fall I asked some of those customers whose children used the extra warm ponchos last year to take a short survey.  The results were overwhelmingly positive, and every one who responded said that she would make the same choice to purchase the extra warm poncho again.

Survey Results

1.  In what state or province do you live? 

The women who answered my survey were from Nebraska, Michigan, New Jersey, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and New York.

2.  Did the extra warm poncho provide adequate warmth? 

Everyone agreed that the extra warm poncho provided adequate warmth.  One mom said that on the coldest days in Michigan, she would layer the poncho over a fleece jacket.

3.  Where there times when the poncho was too warm? 

Some responded that the poncho was too warm for fall and spring weather.  Another mom added that if the temperature were forty degrees or warmer, the poncho was not a good choice.  The others assured me that the poncho was not too warm in their winter climates.

4.  How would you describe the weight and feel of the extra warm poncho? 

I wanted to get some opinions on the feel and weight of the extra warm poncho since I’m often trying to describe it to potential customers.  My survey-takers described the extra warm poncho as a thicker fleece, not too heavy or thick, warm and cozy, substantial without feeling stiff or cumbersome.  One mom was concerned that the extra layer would make the poncho stiff, but it did not.

5.  If you were to purchase another poncho, would you choose the extra warm style? 

All of the survey participants agreed that if they purchased another poncho, they would, without hesitation, purchase the extra warm poncho again.

There was that one mom who said that since she already had an extra warm poncho, she might choose a regular poncho to use in spring and fall weather.  I like this idea!  Everyone should buy two ponchos:  a regular and an extra warm one.

Contact Me About a Poncho:

If  you’re interested in ordering a regular or extra warm car seat poncho, please contact me.  You can use the contact form here on this site, contact me in my Etsy shop, or visit my business page on Facebook.  I’d be happy to work with you to create a poncho for that special child in your life!

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Our Favorite Low Carb Breakfast

A low carb breakfast is essential for Type 2 Diabetics who control their blood sugar by limiting carbohydrate intake.  A low carb breakfast is also a great option for anyone who is trying to lose weight by restricting carbohydrate intake.  My husband Jack is the former, and I am the latter.  Therefore, a low carb breakfast is the perfect way to start our day.

Our new favorite low carb breakfast is called Early Rise Breakfast.  I first found the recipe here. Naturally, I made a few adaptations to the original recipe.  I am going to share with you my way of making this low carb breakfast casserole.

Ingredients:  

12 eggs
1 cup half & half
1 cup of shredded cheese
salt & pepper

Your choice of any of the following ingredients in any combination:

cooked crumbled bacon
browned crumbled sausage
diced ham
sliced mushrooms
chopped onions
chopped peppers

Instructions:

After the meats are cooked and the veggies chopped, sliced, or diced, the casserole is quite simple to put together.
First, spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick spray. Next, spread the meat and veggies in the bottom of the pan.  After that, sprinkle the cheese over the top of the meat and veggies.  

In a separate bowl, whisk the twelve eggs and add the half & half.  Pour that over the meat, cheese, and veggies.  Add salt and pepper, if desired.

Bake the casserole for 40-45 minutes until set.  

I cut this into twelve squares.  We love having this in the fridge for fast, low carb breakfasts!  If you’re not into low carb meals, add toast and orange juice for a quick high-protein start to your day.

I make one of these casseroles almost every week.  Not having to make a decision about what’s for breakfast is one of the best ways for us to make a wise choice in the morning.

What are your favorite go-to breakfast foods?   

 

 

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Licensed Fabrics Are Off Limits for My Business

Minnie Mouse full coverage bibLicensed fabrics that have favorite TV and movie characters on them are quite popular especially with children.  I often receive requests to make ponchos or bibs using licensed fabrics from Disney, John Deere, NFL teams and other companies.

The Facts About Licensed Fabrics:

If you’ve ever bought licensed fabrics, you may have noticed that the selvage (edge) of the fabric is usually printed with these words:  “For home use only. Not intended for commercial use”.

That warning means just what it says.  Those characters, phrases, and even color combinations may have been copyrighted by the original owner.  Using those words or images for business gain is not legal.  Some small business owners believe that a multi-million dollar corporation is not going to concern themselves with a small business’s infringement of their intellectual property.

The truth is that Disney, Marvel, and other companies HAVE filed suits against small business owners who have used their images, color combinations, and copyrighted phrases without first purchasing a license to do so.  

My Policy:

I have chosen not to sell items made from licensed fabrics.  It is so tempting to bend the rules to make a poncho with Ana and Elsa, Minions, or Minnie Mouse fabric.  But the bottom line is that I am not willing to jeopardize my business by infringing on the rights of other businesses.

It is perfectly legal to make gifts, donations, and personal items with licensed fabrics.  It is also legal to make items from licensed fabrics if my customer purchases the fabric and delivers it to me.  In that case, I’m performing a service, not selling a product.

Apron bib in paw patrol printJust this morning, I made this Paw Patrol bib for my sister’s granddaughter.  While I was happy to indulge little Brinley’s obsession with Paw Patrol characters, I can guarantee that you will never see licensed fabrics in my Etsy shop or in my Facebook group.  I’m playing it safe with my business, and I trust that my customers will understand my reasons for that.

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Fleece Fabric Scraps Become Beautiful Blankets

quilt top made from coordinating fleece scraps

Fleece fabric scraps sure can create a big mess!  After making more than 240 fleece ponchos in my Etsy shop in 2016, my small storage room was overrun with fleece scraps.  I had a huge mountain of mixed up fleece scraps that was threatening to flow out into my sewing area.

Many of the scraps were good-sized pieces of fleece, and I couldn’t bear the thought of wasting them.  My husband Jack urged me to just throw them away.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do that! Instead,  I turned to Facebook to offer my fleece scraps to any of my local friends who could come and pick them up.

A Perfect Match

One of my Facebook friends responded saying that her mom would be interested in making blankets from my fleece scraps.  The next morning, Amelia stopped by my house.  Jack and I loaded her car with boxes and bags of fleece scraps.  Her plan was to turn the scraps into blankets.  She would then donate the blankets to Christian Aid Ministries, a non-profit Amish-Mennonite organization that works to meet physical and spiritual needs around the world.

Just last week, Amelia stopped by again to show me what she was able to do with the fleece scraps that I had given her.  Jack and I were both impressed with the beautiful, colorful blankets that will soon be bringing comfort and warmth.
A fleece blanket made from scraps

 Thanks to Amelia’s hard work, those fleece scraps that just barely escaped the fire, are going to help someone in need.

Here’s one last picture of Amelia and me holding the blanket that I like best.  We are the poncho maker and the blanket maker who joined forces to help warm the world!  All of my customers who ordered ponchos have a share in this, too.

Which blanket do you like best?