Upcycling: Make a Girl’s Dress from a Men’s Dress Shirt

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I have the Martha Stewart Sewing Crafts book and one of the first projects I wanted to try was making a dress for girls from a man’s dress shirt. You can also find the instructions for this project on the Martha Stewart website. That is one thing I like about Martha Stewart projects is that you can buy the book collection of crafts and recipes, but you can find the same projects on the site.

I used the Martha pattern on a first try at this dress.

I didn’t like the way the sleeves and body were all one piece. I also found that the pattern was sized small, the dress according to the description is for size 4-8. When you download the pattern it is a one size pattern. When I finished the dress it was more like a size 3 not great for my 5 nearly 6 year old. I finished the neck and collar with a contrasting bias tape and embroidered a G on the dress (a la Laverne and Shirley), to hide a small hole made when removing the pocket. I think it was cute, just to small.

So I decided to give the dress another try changing some of the problems from the first attempt. First I made the pattern larger. I had traced the pattern on to Swedish tracing paper and added an inch to the body. I also wanted to sew the sleeves on seperately so I marked a cutting line along the sleeves. I cut the shirt apart along the seams removing the arms and separating front from back.

I then made a a pattern for the sleeve and cut them out of the sleeves.

I began putting the dress together starting by placing right sides of the body together and stitching along the shoulders and sides. Don’t forget to iron the seams.

I wanted to gather the sleeves that I wanted to attach. So I adjusted the serger and did the gathering on the machine. I adjusted the tension on the needles and changed the settings on the differential feed. You can also do quick gathering on a regular sewing machine by increasing the thread tension to the highest number. It is so much easier than sewing to rows of stitches and pulling the threads to get the gather.

Match the seams on the side and the bottom of the sleeve and match the top of the sleeve with the seam at the shoulders with sleeve inside armhole, right sides together. I serged the raw edges of the sleeve and neck, and then I then folded, ironed and sewed the stitch under to finish the neck and sleeve.

To finish the hem I could have done the same as at the neck and sleeve, but I wanted to make the dress a little longer and add a little extra style. I thought about adding a piece of gathered white fabric a couple of inches long. I remembered I had some ribbon that went well with the pink of the dress so I added it. I gathered it in a tighter gather than the sleeves by increasing the tension the thread tension more than I had on the sleeve.

I attached the ribbon to the bottom of the dress with right sides together and then I turned it right side out and top stitched close to the ribbon to keep the hem in place.

Here is the finished dress.

The shirt cost $3.35 at the local second hand shop. I already had the ribbon and it took about 2 hours to make a new spring dress. My daughter was happy with the dress as you can tell from the modelling of the dress.


The Day the Scooba Died: An Experience with Great Customer Service

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My Scooba died unexpectedly last month.

I turned it on to do a quick wash of the front hall and it sounded funny, like the vacuum wasn’t working. It ran for about 5 minutes and then quit and the red service me light was flashing. I took it apart to make sure there wasn’t anything blocking the vacuum, removed the battery, and then put it back together. It started again and this time it sounded right with the vacuum working but it only lasted 5 minutes before it died again.

Since I had purchased it from eBay, I was concerned if iRobot would honour the warranty. I had registered it when it first arrived with no problem, but I wasn’t sure if they might give me trouble because it wasn’t bought at retail outlet and I didn’t have a receipt other than my PayPal transaction.

The customer service rep immediately knew what the problem was and sent out a replacement battery, free of charge. Apparently, the Scooba batteries are sensitive to heat and she recommended that we keep the top open when charging and to keep it away from heating vents while charging.

The new battery arrived within 2 weeks from the US to Canada. The Scooba is back to its old self keeping my floors clean while I do something else.

Don’t forget to check out my original post about my Scooba if you haven’t read it.


Baby Pictures – One Mom’s Tips on Taking, Editing, and Sending Digital Photos

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Thanksgiving Dinner 2006

One thing is certain with a new baby: you are going to be taking lots of baby pictures. Digital Cameras are great for capturing every moment. I love our digital camera, I bought it for Jay a couple of Christmas’ ago, but I seem to be the one who uses it the most.

The Hardware

We have a Canon A85—I highly recommend their cameras if you are thinking about buying one—the optics are great and the model we have has a tonne of options. I will admit, I prefer the “auto” setting—just point and click.There are lots of great buying guide websites around if you are looking for reviews of cameras like DP review.

The Canon A85 is 4 mega-pixels—most cameras available now have at least that many mega-pixels. One thing I would recommend looking for in a camera is an optical zoom vs digital zoom. Optical zoom is the zoom using the lens, a physical magnification of the object vs digital which is just a magnification of a portion of the picture. With a digital zoom you can end up with a pixelly image.

The other important factor with digital photography is the memory card. The bigger the memory card the more pictures it can hold. Speed is also important. The memory cards come in different speeds the faster the card, the faster the recycle time which means more pictures. I didn’t realize how important it was until I used my sister’s camera last month, she had a slow memory card and it seemed to take forever until I could take another picture.

To Print or Not to Print

When it comes to printing off the pictures a film camera does not compare. You can pick the images you want fix them with your photo software and print them at home or send them to your local photo store. When ink-jet printers first came out I loved the idea that you could print the pictures at home. The problem I have found with printing at home is that it often takes 2 or 3 tries before I get a decent quality print and with the cost of ink-jet ink and photo paper it is kind of expensive.

Now I send all my pictures to a photo-lab to be printed. There are so many choices and you can get the pictures for such a good price. I use Blacks Photography. They are more expensive but I think the pictures look great! We usually pick them up so they are printed in the store and I think that the store that we use, at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth, is far superior to other Black’s stores. In my opinion, if you find a spot that does excellent prints stick with them, because good quality prints are often because the staff in the photo lab are good at their job.

The Software

As well as printing pictures, I find that with a baby I am e-mailing a lot of pictures to people. I had been using Adobe Photoshop to prepare my images for e-mail. I would colour correct, I would use the dodge tool to fix red eye (a very common problem with babies) a very tedious way to fix it, then resize the images for mail. There is nothing worse than getting an email of a picture and all you can see is a giant eye.

I started using Picasa, Google’s photo software, which I downloaded for free. It has a very easy to use red eye fix and when you want to e-mail the picture you just click the e-mail button and it resizes it for you! Now Picasa also has a web album so you can resize your images and people can look at them online and download images suitable for printing—something that e-mailed photos not always great for. The free online album offers 250MB of space but you can buy more if you need too ($25 for 6GB).

If you are Mac user iphoto has similar software with an easy to fix red eye and the one click e-mail.

What tips do you have for digital photography?


My 4 Best eBay Buys–Part 2—Baby Items—The Baby Bjorn, Boppy, and Crib Duvet

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If you missed Part 1 you can read it here.

My next 3 best eBay buys are all baby items, a Boppy, Baby Bjorn, and a crib duvet.

The Boppy is a must have for any Mother who plans on breastfeeding. Unfortunately they are not easy to find in Canada. Ebay has a large number of Boppies for sale and many of them are new. I bought my first one for $12USD, lower than retail. I bought a second Boppy so I could have one upstairs and another downstairs. The second was also a great price at $9.

If you are looking for a baby carrier, especially a Baby Bjorn, I would definitely recommend checking out a used one on eBay. Baby Bjorns retail for more than $99CAD. I bought mine for $9.99USD. I must admit that it was an amazing price, most Baby Bjorn on eBay sell for about $35-$45USD, still much cheaper than in the store.

If you are looking for one I would recommend buying a newer model. They have the blue and red coloured clasps, and adjustable straps at the head rest. I would stay away from the snap models, they are more difficult to move a sleeping baby without waking them from the carrier to a crib.

The fourth best buy was a down duvet for Georgia’s crib. I found a shop on eBay that sells very nice quality down crib duvet. They have a number of different sizes and qualities. I bought a medium level duvet for $38USD, a very good deal.

As you see I have found a number of great buys on eBay and it is one of the first places I look for deals. What are your best eBay buys.

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My 4 Best Buys on eBay—Part One—The Scooba

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If you have read any of my other posts you may have surmised that I am a fan of eBay. Almost all of my experiences buying from eBay have been positive, see my post on the crib set if you want to know about my one bad experience. There are some buys that stand out as the best.

The first was my Scooba, you may have heard of it’s brother the Roomba the robotic vacuum, Oprah gave it away on one of her favourite things show. The company that makes the Roomba, iRobot, now make a floor washing robot the Scooba. I received the Roomba for my Mother’s Day gift, yes I did ask for it, and as their commercial says I love my robot.

When I heard about the floor washing robot I was definitely interested in it. The Scooba in Canada retails for more than $500 CAD from the dealer in Canada or $349USD from the iRobot store, more than I was willing to spend, a lot more. So I checked on eBay there the Scooba’s were going for under $250USD, I had even seen a few go for under $170USD, a much more palatable price. I decided I didn’t want to pay more than $190USD.

There seemed to be a number of sellers who repeatedly listed Scoobas. After researching their feedback and their shipping rates I narrowed it down to 3 sellers to buy it from. These sellers tended to list a Scooba weekly, after two and a half months of bidding and being outbid I finally won the auction for less than my limit $187.50 USD plus shipping. Now all I had to do was wait for it to arrive.

Two weeks later it was at my door and was just as described new in box. It took about 8 hours to charge up the battery and then it was ready to roll. It uses a cleaner by Clorox that is specially formulated to work with the Scooba. It doesn’t smell to strongly and most importantly is safe around pets and kids.

The Scooba moves slower than the Roomba and does a light vacuum, squirts out the clean water, scrubs the floor and squeegees it clean in a single movement. It took about 30 minutes to make its way around the kitchen floor. When I dumped the water it was very dirty and the floor had been mopped the day before, so I set it up for a second go and the water was much cleaner the second time. It does a very nice job of cleaning the floor and the best thing is that it frees you up to do something else while you are mopping the floor.

The downfalls of the Scooba are that in Canada—at least where I live—you can not pick the cleaning solution up at the grocery store. I ordered about a years supply from the iRobot store, they give you a 15% discount when you register the Scooba. The other con is the time it takes to recharge the battery is about 3-4 hours so you can’t do your whole house in one day, which requires some planning. I will be watching eBay for a second battery at a good price!

Overall, I’m very happy with the Scooba it does a great job cleaning the floors and frees me up to do other things. With a baby crawling around the house it is very nice to know the floors are squeaky clean.

Check back for Part 2—Baby Items—The Baby Bjorn, Boppy, and Crib Duvet

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RSS Feed –What Is It and What Can It Do for Me?

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You probably have seen an RSS, (Real Simple Syndication) link on many web sites, and like me until recently, probably never thought twice about what it was and what it does. You are not alone only about 2% of web user use RSS feeds.

What is it?

The definition from Wikipedia is RSS is a type of web feed. What that means is when you sign up for a RSS feed from a web site you will get an alert from your feed reader anytime their is a new post or announcement on the site. Feed readers come in a number of forms. There are web based readers and can be accessed via your browser, desktop based and require that you download and install a program onto your computer, integrated readers which may be added on to certain Internet software or as part of the standard program. This page has a concise definition with links to different readers.

My First Time

I was first introduced to RSS when I ordered my new Macbook. It was shipping from China and I wanted to keep up to date with its progress to Bridgewater. Checking the Fed ex site every few hours, (yes I know it sounds obsessive but I couldn’t wait for it to come), and logging in the tracking # got old fast. I found isnoop.net they had a universal package tracker with a RSS feed. Once I downloaded a feed reader and subscribed to the feed, every time my Macbook moved closer to be my feed updated.

What It Does for Me

After the success with the package tracking I signed up with CBC to get regular updates from their news site. You can get updates from eBay, your favourite blog posts, and from Etsy stores without actually logging on to their site.

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