Project Life: What I learned

Last year I started off the year very excited about my Project Life album and my plans to keep it up through the whole year.  I mean, everything that I read about the Project Life system sounded way too easy, so of course it shouldn’t be a problem… right?

Well, the problem with something so simple is that it often gets over thought.  Especially if I am involved.  I mean, sure the original system of one Core kit plus an album, some page protectors and a pen can be very simple.  It’s basic… they really don’t lie to you.  It CAN be that simple.  However, like many of us who see all the beautiful albums that people put together and share online, it can be very overwhelming.  It’s nearly impossible for me to decide on a single Core kit that I’ll be happy with all year.  There are just too many kits available, and now with the mini kits and all sorts of other compatible products from other companies that I get sucked in to buying a bunch of supplies that I may eventually use.

My main challenge last year was with my photos.  I took tons!  Besides trying to decide which to use, there was figuring out how to print them (not just where, but what size, orientation, etc.)  I had overwhelmed myself with getting way too many styles of the page protectors and so I never really knew what to print or how.

Here is a list of lessons that I have learned and need to remember when working on my album this year…

  1. Stick to one layout of page protectors.  This year I will use the Design A pages, with the exception being adding some Design C or L when I have lots of additional photos I wish to include (this keeps my printing to horizontal 4×6 photos – unless I have a reason to have a bunch of vertical ones)
  2. Don’t get overwhelmed with the kit.  Yes, it would be easiest to use a single Core kit.  I get bored though.  Also, I have a decent stash of cards and such in different styles that need to be used.  I’m not going to be super worried about the entire album having a cohesive style, colors, etc.  The photos are really the star of the show – the inserts are for fun, filler and to have a place to write my journaling.
  3. Don’t try to embellish everything.  Sure, I’d love to be able to sit down and be super creative and make every page a work of art.  The simple truth is that I do not have the time, space, energy, etc. to be able to do that.  At this point in my life it’s about getting the story documented.  Later on in life – when the kids are older and I have more space to spread out, I can put the effort into being an artist.  Sure, I’ll have additional embellishments in my album – but only when I somehow find the time to.

I have finally gotten my 2013 album semi- caught up.  I printed a bunch of photos from Persnickety Prints in 3×4 and just finished sticking them in the page protectors.  I simply downloaded all the photos from my phone and picked out the ones to get printed, uploaded them, then pressed order.  A big problem with doing it this way is that some are horizontal, some are vertical, they are now somewhat out of order because of this or I have photos that go different directions on the same page.  I figure that there is something creative I could do to remedy this – but again, I just don’t have time for that right now.  Maybe it can be fixed later.

I plan on getting out my original Core kit (Amber, I think) and filling in some of the blanks with my journaling cards then adding some notes here and there.  Then, I will call the 2013 album complete.  I’m hoping to have this all done before I go back to work in early February so that I can begin to focus on getting my 2014 album worked on regularly.  We’ll see how that works out.



Happy New Year!

So yeah, I’m feeling like trying the whole blogging thing again for a bit.  Let’s see how this goes.

A lot has happened in the past 8 months since I posted anything.  The biggest thing, is that in November we welcomed our newest member to the family.  Charlotte Rose arrived the week before Thanksgiving.  She’s been such a wonderful baby, we love her so much.  Her big sisters are doing great with her.  They just wish she would grow up a bit so that they can play with her. 🙂


All is well in our household and we are looking forward to see what 2014 has in store for us.

I have a few projects that I’m going to attempt again this year.  Hopefully, I can finish at least one of them.  My big thing is to continue my Project Life album.  I’m currently working on going back and filling in the blanks from my 2013 album and coming up with my plan for how I can stay on track this year.  Today, I came across a post/video about an app that might help me keep things organized and on track.  It’s called Capture, and you can use it to organize your photos, take notes, set reminders, etc.  Learn about it here, where I did, in this blog post at This and That.  I downloaded it (and upgraded to the full version for only $1.99) and got myself caught up for this year.  I’m planning on keeping my photos organized on here then placing a monthly order at Persnickety Prints for my photos (they print 3×4!).  I’m currently uploading about 250 photos to print from last year.  Can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Other than my Project Life album, I’m also hoping to get the girls’ albums caught up and maintained.  This is a big project!  At least I’m getting my photos taken – even if I have been slow (bad) about printing and recording them.

Anyway, more to come soon!

Striped Butterfly Tunic

Recently I came across the Butterfly Sleeve Tunic tutorial at Make It Love It, and knew it was something I needed to try.

I found some great striped knit fabric on clearance at JoAnn that both my girls would like.

And fast forward a few weeks to today…

It’s a cold wet weekend here in Alabama (as opposed to last weekend’s bright sunny 70-80 degree weather), so what is there to do but hole up in the house in your pj’s all weekend and work on projects (and maybe some laundry and other chores in between)?

Out came the fabric and pattern tracing supplies and not long after, came this cute little top.

Striped Butterfly Tunic

I will admit, it turned out much better than I thought it would.

First of all, I was not sure how well I would do working with both knit fabric AND stripes.  I mean, knit is great and all, but it’s not the easiest to sew with since it’s so flimsy (especially this one) and it’s hard to move around and get things straightened up just right.  It takes a lot of patience to get it just right.  Also, with stripes you kind of have to cut your fabric just right and line everything up exactly to make sure that your stripes match up – which can be a big problem based off of the things I just said about knit fabric. 🙂

I surprisingly didn’t have a big problem with the stripes on this top – I was able to line up the stripes on the shoulders just fine.  And even though the stripes don’t line up front and back correctly, it’s not a major problem since there aren’t really any side seams.  You simply cannot tell unless you look really really hard.  And let’s face it, it’s a child’s top – and said child is really usually pretty fast and running around all over, so who is going to look that closely to see if the lines match up?

My biggest problem was doing the hem around the entire edge.  My machine gathered my fabric when I did the basting stitch (I couldn’t change the setting so that it wouldn’t gather – nothing seemed to work).  Then when folding up around the curved edges, it kept looking pretty weird and didn’t look perfect like it should have.

I just did what I could and went with it.  Again, it’s being worn by a pretty quick preschooler… who cares about the corners?

Striped Butterfly Tunic

I debated whether or not to put the elastic around the middle to gather, and settled on doing it only on the front of the shirt.  It looks good enough to give some definition and shape but keeps it from being uncomfortable and too tight.

Striped Butterfly Tunic

Overall, I am pleased with how this top came out.  Looks like it’s a bit big in the neckline – but that’s OK.  It just means that it will last awhile.  For now, I’ll probably make her put on a tank top underneath if she wears it out of the house, but as she grows then it should still fit just fine.

Little SQ seems quite happy with it as well.  She told me she wanted to wear it all day, which is about as good as it gets 🙂

My Schoolhouse Tunic – Finally

Last year sometime I came across the Schoolhouse Tunic pattern by Sew Liberated online and after looking at it for awhile I finally broke down and ordered it (it’s hard for me to pay $15 for a pattern unless I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it and use it multiple times).

I bought some beautiful dark grey linen fabric (which kind of reminded me of the fabric of the dress on the front of the pattern – yeah, I went super out of the box on that one…) and got to work. I made it as far as assembling the bodice and attaching the sleeves – but things didn’t line up quite right and so it sat around for awhile till I was ready to tackle fixing it. Awhile ended up being about a year.

Last night I picked it back up – ripped off the arms that I originally made and drafted some new ones – cap sleeve length since I was kind of running out of extra fabric. All was going well and my top was finally starting to look right.

But then after I got the skirt part attached, I realized how disproportionate the whole thing looked – so I tried it on. Turns out the thing about it being disproportionate was just because I had made it long though on the top to accommodate my large bust – which was a good thing. I just looks a bit funny on the hanger.

Schoolhouse Tunic

Of course, with trying it on I realized how the pleats in the skirt make me look a bit poofy and possibly pregnant. Which I’m not. I’ve read others notes about how they used gathers instead of pleats but somehow I don’t think that would help very much.

I’m trying now to decide what I should do with it.  I really don’t feel like taking apart the whole skirt to fix it though, so I might just let it go for now and make some adjustments for next time.

What I’m thinking for next time… cause I will make this again (even if it’s for someone else):

  • Cut the back part of the skirt to size – leaving out any room for pleats or gathers.
  • Maybe try gathers in the front – but possibly cut the front a little smaller so that they are just tiny gathers for camoflague rather than actually making a good bit of room in there.
  • Possibly try the longer length – I made the short version of the skirt part this time, and it’s ok but might be kinda cool to make it in the longer/dress version.
  • Depending on the fabric and season – I might just make a sleeveless version.  This was my first garment with real sleeves and even though they aren’t too bad, I’m not sure I’m a huge fan.
  • Possibly changing the neckline to have a bit of a crew neck curve instead of going all the way up.  This might look better on me.

My first “quilt”

Although it’s not got any piecing, Technically, it IS a quilt… because I quilted it 🙂

At a random visit to Hobby Lobby, I let the girls pick out some fabric to make a blanket out of.  The plan was simple… I’d get two different fabrics, sandwich some batting between them and do some stitching to keep them together, then bind the edges.  For once, a plan worked out the way it was supposed to.

first "quilt"

I bought 1/2 a yard of fabric and ended up cutting that in half length-wise to make it more of a square.  This is the perfect size for a little cuddle blanket or doll quilt.
Once I had all the layers cut, I planned the stitching. With the houndstooth fabric, there are practically already drawn diagonal lines, so I used them as a guide.  Using my machine, I stitched white lines at equal distances apart, starting from the center of the quilt.  Then, using some fun contrasting colors of DMC floss, I hand stitched in between the machine lines.

The hand stitching is my favorite part.  It’s really the reason I decided to do this project in the first place.  🙂

first "quilt"

My layers got off a bit as I was stitching – because I didn’t pin it all together like I should have.  Lesson learned for the next one.

Anyway, once I was finished with my stitching, I squared it up and attached the binding.  This is another step that I definitely need a bit more practice on.  I decided to make it easy and machine stitch it on – figured it would hold up better this way too.

So now, my first little “quilt” is complete.  SQ loves it and I can’t wait to wash it to give it that nice puckered look… which is my next favorite thing about quilts.

Weekend Sewing Fails, Turned Successes!

I guess this just isn’t my weekend for sewing…

I started off late Friday night with this brilliant idea to use up this jersey knit and create a basic boxy, comfy t-shirt for myself. I used measurements that were in my head (what I thought I remembered from the last time I measured). I had it all cut out, pinned up and stitched up then tried it on Saturday morning… Ummm Big NO.

Of course the measurements were wrong, the comfy shirt was skin tight and just wasn’t going to work.

So, I asked one of my beautiful daughters to play model for me. 🙂 Little SQ got in on the action this time and so I tried the top on her, made some marks and turned it into a play dress. Kinda… it’s boring and needs a little something extra but it does fit and will work for this spring to play around in. At least it wasn’t a complete waste.

Well, today I started going through patterns that I had bought and found one that was labeled Easy – looked pretty basic and so I figured I’d try it. I got my pattern all cut, ironed, and pinned. Then I made the mistake of cutting before I had all of my pattern pieces laid out on my available fabric and ended up not having enough room to lay all my pieces out.

I could have salvaged it if I knew anyone who could wear a size 8 – but I don’t, not anyone who would have liked the style top I was making anyway.

So bright idea hit and I figured I could salvage the material into a little top/dress for my girls. Got all the pieces cut, and of course since I was making it all up in my head, I messed up sewing the bodice together and it’s just one big mess right now. I could fix it if I wanted to rip a bunch of seams – and I might – but it’s not going to happen tonight.   I had an idea and it worked!  I have managed to salvage the bodice.  It’s required a bit of extra work, but it’s pretty and will mean that I haven’t completely ruined 2.5 yards of fabric.

I also tried the bodice on SQ and it fit – tightly, but I could still get it on her and she could wear it comfortably – just as long as she didn’t need to put on a long sleeved shirt with it… (umm, that’s your que warm weather…)

More on this tomorrow – or whenever I finish the entire dress.


I made a dress!

I’ve felt like sewing a little more lately than usual, so I was super excited when the girls at work got me a JoAnn’s Fabric gift card for my birthday. I went that very same day and spent it all on some cute new fabric to make some dresses/tops for my girls.

I know you are supposed to spend birthday gift cards on yourself, and I went and bought stuff to make for my children, but the fun in it for me is that enjoy making and that I get to see them wear the stuff I made.

Anyway, So now that I had some new fabric to play with (not that I don’t have a huge stash that could be used) I needed to decide on a pattern. What? did I do that in the wrong order? You aren’t supposed to choose the material then the pattern? Oops… hehe

But yeah, So I came across the Embroidered Denim Jumper pattern from the Purl Bee.  LOVE IT!

Not only is this pattern super simple and super cute, I figured out that I can easily make it with only 3 fat quarters!  And if you are like me and LOVE to buy small quantities of lots of cute fabrics, then you should have plenty of these little babies in your stash already.

While the focus on their original version is to showcase the beautiful embroidery on a simple fabric, I took this to a whole different level.  I used 2 different prints and no embroidery – not yet at least.

You see, I had just bought 3 new fat quarters… 2 of them the same busy, almost vintage 70’s-ish feel pattern and a coordinating yellow/while polka dot.  So instead of the original plan to make a  simple skirt with a yellow band on the bottom, I took the yellow up for the bodice, and used the pattern for the skirt of this dress/top.

Also, I took some of the scraps that I trimmed off the skirt and made a binding for the neckline.  I like how it brought it all together.  Although I must admit that my first thought when I had this dress assembled was that it looked like a smock – you know, the ones they throw over kids in school to keep their clothes clean… yeah.

I didn’t let that smock-like feeling deter me though, I kept going.  The original tutorial still kind of had that same feeling when it was laid flat, but it took on a bit more shape when you look at the photo of the girl wearing it.


What do you think?  NK picked out her tights and shoes to go with the dress… I wasn’t so sure at first, but you know, it kinda works.

I’m really liking the way this turned out. I am thinking it would be fun to add a bow or flower to dress it up and add a bit more interest.  Or even making this again and making the skirt panels even wider so that there’s more room in the skirt.

There are LOTS of possibilities with this simple pattern.  Shoot, I may even go back and do it as the original tutorial had it… hand stitching and all.

This little dress could easily be put together in an hour or less… if you do all stitching by machine.  Add in some time if you decide to do any hand stitching at all.

I machine stitched everything except for the part where you stitch up the inside seams.  That part I did by hand in order to make the stitches as invisible as possible.  It took some time, but was well worth it.

This is happening…

The Package Tour
Yes, this is happening. Silly me bought tickets yesterday for a friend and myself to go. I think it’s silly, and it will be lots of fun!

We are going to take a day or so off work to go to Nashville… go to the concert then stay the night. Which means that the next morning we can sleep in, and maybe do a little shopping on our way back home.

I’m super excited! Li and I haven’t been on a trip together since my 18th birthday, so this should be lots of fun!

My Little Crafter

The other day, my oldest daughter, NK, (she’s 4) came to me and asked if she could help me work on my book.  My book being my Project Life album.  “Well, of course!” I told her.  We didn’t get around to working on it that night (it was already almost bedtime) but we did finally get around to it today.

She likes to help with the corner punch on the photos and to put everything in the page protectors.

This morning when I was getting my photos printed out, I handed the girls each one of the blank 3×4 cards that I had and told them to draw something and it could go in my book this week.  Sadly, they did not take this opportunity to do one of their really creative drawings (maybe next time), but they did both want to add some glitter to their drawings, so I finally let them get out the messy glitter and sparkle up their drawings.  (Look for close ups of this when I finally get my project life layouts posted in the next day or so)

Of course, after we got a little bit done on my book, NK wanted to be creative and make something new for her walls.  I’ve got some stickers that I don’t mind her using, as well as lots of stamps so I let her have at it.  She’s surprisingly good with the stamps, and even tries to clean the ink off when she’s done (I’m teaching her well).

Me being me, couldn’t pass up this opportunity to snap a few photos of her working.

my little crafter
choosing her stamp, I believe she went with the crown shape

my little crafter
inking the stamp, a beautiful “lellow” of course – it is a crown

my little crafter
and stamping her paper

Here’s her finished artwork…
my little crafter
some random letters, chosen simply because she liked the colors, and she wanted some sparkle 🙂 LOVE it!

I absolutely LOVE how she’s enjoying getting crafty with me.  And as long as I can get her to understand how to take care of my supplies then I’ll happily share with her.  So far, so good.

Wonder what little sis was up to while all of this was going on?

IMG_9511 🙂

I plan to be back tomorrow with an update of my Project Life pages.


And Project Life Begins… my first few pages

I’ve done it!  I got my title page and first week’s spread completed – well, nearly… it’s waiting on a photo or two that is being picked up tomorrow.

Wanna see?  Of course you do…



Cover page above needs a quote or something on that dark block on the edge, just not sure what yet…


That top 4×6 block will be home to a group photo from NYE and the blank pink spot on the other page will have a small photo as well.


The little “This Week” journaling card is one of the folded cards where inside I wrote all about the week.  Not everything I document will be public knowledge, so I like having these little folded cards for the “secret” stuff I want to remember.




Nice huh?  I started realizing that I was printing too many photos and didn’t have a lot of space left over for writing.  I’ll probably NOT quit taking so many photos to include, but instead just not necessarily do only a week on a two page spread.  Or  I might add smaller pages (5×7, 8.5×11) in between the larger spread.  Either way, there is no way I will cut out all the photos – I will make room for them somehow.  They are what really makes the book for me.

I just want to be sure I make the space for the little notes as well, that is the part of the story that is often missing for me because I just don’t feel like writing – or wait too long and can’t remember.

Anyway, I’m totally loving this album so far (yeah, I know I only started).  I think it will be a lot of fun to keep up with, and my girls are already wanting to get involved, and they love looking at the photos and helping slide them into the pockets.  I really enjoy that they are enjoying it.  Now, It’s just up to me to keep it up.