Thursday, December 22, 2011

Finally Some Sewing For Us!

Poor Caleb has been after me to make him some footies of his own for oh, at least a year (he is now 7 1/2). I had the greatest intentions of getting right on that project. After all, I make footies all the time so what was one more for my son? I even went so far as to purchase fabric just for him.... adorable Corduroy the Bear fabric. I had the perfect piece of wool to use too. I had received an ankle length fine merino wool skirt that was the perfect material for him since it was light weight, soft, and had plenty of length that I could use to get his footies. I pulled everything out and had Caleb here so I could tailor them to fit him perfectly and I was ready to go. Caleb had decided though that the oh so perfect bear fabric was no longer so perfect. My little boy had decided I think that it was a bit on the babyish side. Now he is into "cool" things like cars and pirates and he dug through my fabric stash and decided that the pirate skulls was the most awesome material ever so I obliged. I wondered how I could have allowed this planned project to go on as long as I did and kind of sniffled at the sewing machine as I realized just how fast he was growing up. I got the footies done and was rewarded with the most awesome hug and kiss as Caleb stripped down as fast as he could to put them on. That was worth more than sewing up 100 pairs. Why don't I do this more often?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More T-Shirt Recycling!

It has been a VERY busy fall this year with sewing. We have had so many new retailers and we barely have time to breathe in between orders. I decided to carve out some time this weekend to tackle my laundry room. The laundry room has become the abyss of all things forgotten, unwanted or dirty. It really is a great room to throw things in. So I decided to jump in with both feet and found some cool things and some not so cool including some garlic bulbs I had intention of growing and they dried completely out into some kind of petrified hard to recognize thing. I found a big package of playsilks I had bought to dye up and a pile of old T-shirts James had put together for me to donate. Usually whatever James decides he can't wear anymore is in really sad shape and I would be ashamed to donate to anyone (OK, so the hummingbird shirt was NOT his :) ) I hated to just throw them away though. I also came across some yardage of great cotton terry toweling fabric that someone had graciously sent me along with some sweaters probably over a year ago. So, I cut rectangles out of the old shirts, cut a layer of toweling, and simply serged them together to make hand towels. Some of them I just serged together 2 layers of T-shirt. They turned out wonderfully and they work so well! We use hand towels in all of the offices and kitchen at work so these made great additions to our stash. Plus Caleb especially enjoys seeing his daddy's shirts turned into a towel and it seems like I don't have to remind him as often lately to wash his hands :) This is a great way to recycle and only takes a few minutes to do. Don't worry if you don't have toweling material! Putting 2 layers of T-shirt together makes a really absorbent and sturdy towel. Another idea is to use those flannel receiving blankets as a backing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The End of a Season

School officially starts again for Sarah and Caleb tomorrow morning. Where has the summer gone? As a working mom, it has been a real trial to balance work with helping to create a magical time with the kids. We had the BIG "planned" trip but the kids seemed to have just as much fun with a spur of the moment trip to the lake, fish hatchery, or Collin's Creek... all just minutes away. It has been fun to watch the kids grow and learn this summer. We have ended our summer with memories of our first views of the Rocky Mountains at sunrise, feeding Stumpy the mallard off the back of the boat, Caleb finding the courage to jump off of the top of a houseboat, Sarah learning to ride a dirt bike, and so much more.

One thing I have just started doing this summer is carrying my camera EVERYWHERE. For the past couple of months, it has been as important as my phone or wallet. I could have kicked myself when I forgot it yesterday. Sarah had been feeding a red ear water turtle off the back of the boat and then actually picked it up out of the water. The thing was not small and I would have loved to get that on camera as it fondly reminded me of myself at that age. I can not encourage everyone enough to keep the camera handy at all times. While it is sad to see the end of summer, I know fall will bring many more wonderful memories.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Awesomeness in Arkansas

We are finally enjoying some cooler temperatures after what has seemed like endless weeks of extreme heat. Not just heat.... heat plus super high humidity. Give me a dessert out west any day compared to this weather. Everything green has pretty much died outside and swimming in the lake feels more like taking a warm bath. As we headed home from work today, we ran into some serious rain. The kind of rain where you are driving and really can't see anything. To my shock, we got several inches of rain within probably an hour. As soon as the rain and lightning show ended, I sent the kids out to play and let the chickens out to free range. I was so happy I had the camera home today because what came after the storm was sheer awesomeness. First we had a rainbow in a dark sky in the backyard. Then a few minutes later the show moved to the front yard with these mammatus clouds. God's handiwork is truly awesome.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Throw Your Sweater Shaver Away...

Or run over it with the car or bury it. I hate those obnoxiously loud things that can't suck up a lint ball or hair if its life depended on it. Believe me... I have threatened them and it doesn't work. Working with wool every single day I tried many things. Each Woollybottom that we ship out must look like new wool when it leaves here free of lint, fuzz, and those matted pill balls. We have received some pretty nasty wool. When we get a shipment of sweaters, we have no idea what kind of life it had previously. Everything goes into a hot wash to remove any impurities and to gently felt the wool (felting helps a diaper cover be more effective). While this cleans the wool it doesn't take off the pill balls and fuzz. In a time of desperation and sore fingers, I picked up a pumice stone in the beauty department of a local store and took it back to the shop. I found that it worked better than I could have imagined. Just lay the wool flat and "brush" it with the stone and everything collects in a ball at the bottom of the wool. The stone is gentle and even putting a lot of pressure on the wool, there has never been any damage to the wool. I have this piece of gnarly lambswool and did half of it as you can see here. It took about a minute to completely clean the left side of the wool and it looked brand new! If your woolies are looking kind of shabby (as they will from normal use) brush them with a pumice stone, gather up the fuzz and you will have a brand new looking pair of woolies again. If you have black wool, you can take a piece of packing tape and press it on the wool to remove any lint. Hopefully these tips will make life a bit easier on caring for your wool. And if you are wondering how long that pumice stone will last, well we haven't been able to wear one out yet. We have used a single stone literally on several thousand pieces of wool. If you buy a new stone, you may want to pre-rinse it in water to remove any dust or loose particles. You may see some small particles come off with the first time you clean your wool. If that happens, just shake the wool out and with further use, the stone will not do that after the initial use.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Recycled T-Shirt Market Bags Results

So, I had hoped to finish these bags last week and it didn't happen until today actually. They were so time consuming and all ;) Seriously it took me less than 10 minutes to finish 4 of them. I found that the small t-shirts work the best and are actually more close to the size bag I wanted. I wasn't really thinking when I bought a couple of XL shirts and started cutting them and realized these bags were going to be BIG. Not really what I will reach for to use with groceries but I realized these will be great for hauling towels and blankets back and forth to the boat this summer. I usually load everyone's arms up with towels and blankets to try to make one trip from the car to the boat and then I hold my breath that nothing ends up into the water on the walk across the dock. These big bags will really help and we can carry back the dirty laundry easily.

So, do you want to know why I was a slacker last week and didn't finish the bags? Well, we moved.... again. Many of you that have been around since we started back in 2004 have followed my nomadic trek through the years. We started off here at the house in the kitchen and had the infamous wall of wool that actually insulated the east side of the house. Then we bought a small cabin and put it in the back yard (you can scroll down to some older posts to see that). Then my husband and I bought a building in town and shared it. It is divided into 3 spaces and I moved into one and he moved into another. We had someone come by that wanted to rent the space I was in so I packed up and scooted to another office. Not really easy with tons of wool and machines and things. This past week our tenant moved out and I really wanted that space again so we moved again. Here is where we are now. I thought I better take some pictures while it is fairly clean and I have had several people ask what my setup looks like. I am not done with it yet obviously. I am going to add some things to the walls and the kiddo section is kind of temporary. I want to put in a table and chairs so they can have a fun space to craft, do homework, or play. The long table is the packing/shipping area and the big L-shaped area is where all the constructing goes down. You can sort of see through the doorway to the room with the green walls... that is my husband's office. I often help him through the day so I can easily move from one space to the other and keep my space closed off with the door. The kids can also easily visit with both of us at any time. You can also see the doorway to a room with beige walls... that is where the cutting, wool washing, and storage happens. I am so NOT taking you in there with me right now. I have just kind of thrown everything in there until I can go through and organize and it is scary.... really scary. The space back there is about the same size as the sewing/packing/kiddo area so it is really going to be a great space with all my materials close at hand.

Have you all been making your t-shirt bags? If you haven't, get to it! This is a great summer day project to do with the kids as well.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Recycled T-Shirt Market Bags

James and I have settled into a Sunday afternoon routine of going to Goodwill, heading over to Zaxby's to share a Zalad, then doing our grocery shopping for the week. We are blessed to have parents that love taking our kiddos home with them after church to spend the afternoon so Sunday afternoon has become our designated "just us" time. It is summer vacation so the kids are with us most days at work so they enjoy the time away from us as well :) It all started with this white t-shirt on the end.... a cool Maine t-shirt with this big lobster claw on it. James has lost a lot of weight over the past several months, but sometimes he thinks he is smaller than he actually is. I told him when we got home there was no way he could wear this thing to which he replied he thought it would be cool if I wore it. Um, no thanks.... cool shirt, but I am not wearing it. I have never been to Maine and I don't care to have a big claw across my chest. So there it sat on the back of a chair in the bedroom for oh, about 3 weeks now.

Rewind a couple of years.... I bought several of those recycled grocery totes (I can't even remember the brand now) and was super proud of my perfect rainbow of bags. Kind of when they first started to become "the thing". I kept them neatly in a bowl on the counter so I could grab some to take to the store when I went out. I really used them but eventually they have been lost or misplaced one by one and I have fallen back into my plastic bag ways. Then came my light bulb moment. While making bags from t-shirts is not my original idea and not the light bulb moment, deciding I would recycle that shirt so I could get some use out of it was. The whole project takes less than 5 minutes and I can sit back and smile that I have accomplished something. I went to the local thrift store last week to pick up a few more t-shirts for the project. I love fun shirts that feature places or have cool pictures in general. I think I am going to make a couple of super simple ones that don't even bother with finished edges and I may make a couple that are actually lined with another layer for a more finished bag. I need to figure out a way to have them roll up easily for better storage and I am going to plan on keeping them in a basket on the counter. You can find tutorials all over the internet for making grocery bags and you can spend days looking at Tipnut's site.

So, pull out those old cotton t-shirts from that concert back in the day (um, you don't have a New Kids on the Block shirt lurking around do you?) that you won't dare wear in public but just can't bare to part with and whip a few up. Come on, I know you have some. Every time you reach for that bag for groceries (or hauling around whatever) you can re-live the fun memories. We will share our finished bags later this week :)

(Pictured: T-shirt grocery bag by

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Super Simple Onesie Conversion Tutorial

We get asked often, "What kind of tops do you pair with your woolies?" I have found the best thing to pair with woolies is just a simple t-shirt. There is nothing extra to unsnap and getting down to business with a diaper change couldn't be faster with the combination of our pull on diaper covers and a t-shirt. If you are like me, you probably got about a billion onesies as baby shower gifts. Onesies are the best thing ever for keeping tummies covered, but they just don't work so well with cloth diapered babies. With the extra bulk of a cloth diaper, it is difficult to get the onesie over that extra bulk and often times the pressure from the onesie on the diaper area will force your wool cover to wick moisture through. They soon become the least treasured item of clothing and you end up with a big pile in the drawer and they are never reached for. So, you have onesies but need shirts like yesterday, so get your scissors out. Onesies are usually made from a great cotton interlock. Just cut straight across as you can see in the photo. Try to leave as much length as possible on the shirt. The cotton will not fray so you can actually stop here and say Voila! With washing, the hem may naturally curl which actually seems to now be "the thing" in many clothing items. If you are handy with a serger, you can set your machine to a rolled hem and run it along the bottom to give a ruffly edge (great for girly tops!). On this one, I went ahead and did a straight serged edge with navy blue thread to finish it off. If you are handy with a sewing machine and don't care for the "raw hem" look, you can always add a finished hem. As for the extra that I cut off, I am trying to decide how to recycle that piece. I may be saving that for another tutorial :).

I picked up this little onesie at a thrift store for today's tutorial. My daughter was appalled that I was looking through the baby clothes and wanted to know why with a raised eyebrow since no one is here that small. I haven't looked at baby clothes in oh.... almost 7 years now so I do admit the ovaries twitched just a little as I handled the little bitty clothes. But I am over it now.... don't get any ideas people. We are giving away this outfit to one of our readers (free shipping too!). The shirt is a Circo brand 18 month size and the shorties are a size medium. The shorties are made from a soft lambswool and have a rise of about 18 and an inseam of 3. Just post a comment here... something you like about wool, or if you haven't tried wool, just post something interesting. If you could post your first name and last initial or just some way that you can recognize yourself when I announce the random winner on Saturday.

And the winner is...... Julie S./The Dullmore Family! Congratulations! I will try to contact you but if you don't receive anything, please contact me at woollybottoms @

Friday, July 15, 2011

If I Wasn't Sewing....

If I wasn't sewing, I would be raising rare breed chickens full time. Seriously, I enjoy them that much. What is not to love about chickens? They are incredibly fun animals and have individual personalities. Our chickens get a lot of loving from everyone in the family. James was more than happy to build them a chicken mansion since these pets actually give something back in return.... tasty eggs (unlike Miss Kitty, the 20 pound cat that gives back the occasional hair ball). I didn't even have to whine to get him to build the space for me. The kids love to play with them and caring for them is a task that even small children can do and help instill responsibility. It is baby time around here and we had 2 newbies hatch yesterday. I am pretty sure we will have at least one more within the next day. Our hens are as tame as dogs, so they really don't mind us doting over their babies. I think they are actually proud to show them off. We kind of had an experiment this time putting one of our small eggs from RC (the black and white small bantam breed) under our setting hen. Bud, the big red rooster, is our daddy. I could not believe that the little egg hatched! What hatched was this adorable little brown fur ball. I can't wait to watch it grow and see exactly what it is going to be. It is kind of like breeding a chihuahua and a lab :) The chickens stay in a large, secure lot during the day. They have plenty of running space, shade, and sun. Nest boxes are set up inside the roost so they can go in and out as they please and have a space where they can get out of the rain. After we get home in the evenings, we let them out in the yard so they can have plenty of free range time. Free range eggs from happy chickens can not be beat!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Disguising Brussels Sprouts

Since we have started eating a "primal diet" back in April, we have been eating a lot of foods that we normally didn't eat. James and I had been vegetarian for about 12 years and we were just not feeling as healthy as we should. This has been the BEST lifestyle change for our family... more about that coming in a later post. So, I was all fired up to make pork chops and shredded brussel sprouts the other night. I shredded the sprouts in my food processor and then cooked them in a pan of oil to lightly brown. Boy did they look good, but the unmistakable bitter tasted was there just the same. The kiddos were troopers and cleaned their plates. We had LOTS of leftovers though and I said we will be finishing them later in the week. They smiled and nodded figuring they would end up in the back of the refrigerator and never be seen again until they were a fuzzy mass of unrecognizable green. Fast forward to this evening. After we got home, I gathered the day's fresh eggs from our pet chickens. Cracked a dozen in a bowl, added just a bit of milk and coconut oil and whisked it all together, poured it into a hot pan and then threw some of the sprouts in and cooked it all up. Then I added a touch of soy sauce and gave everyone the option of garden salsa or ketchup. It was really quite good. I warmed up some leftover steak from the night before and had a tall glass of orange juice and it was a filling meal. The poor kids skeptically eyeball everything I cook now... they know I always have some kind of a "healthy surprise" hiding but they are always willing to try out new foods. One of our favorite meal time games is "Guess What's In the Smoothie" :)

Sarah is thinking.... umm, mom WHAT is this??? What did you hide in my eggs this time???