7 Best Soil Preparation Pins

7 Best Soil Preparation Pins for the Garden

Spring is just around the corner!

If you live anywhere in the northern United States, that might seem like wishful thinking this year – here at my house, it’s the third of March and we’re having an icestorm with school canceled.

But despite the seemingly endless winter (which is actually completely explainable and on schedule, it just always feels this way at the end of winter), it’s true that Spring is quickly approaching. In fact, daylight savings time begins on Sunday!

As we’re approaching Spring, the flurry of gardening catalogs and magazines hitting my mailbox has been so exciting. It’s one of my very favorite times of year – if I were pressed to pick just one time that it is my favorite, it would be a warm, sunny, spring day. Not hot like in summer, not rainy and muddy, just a perfectly warm, sunny day with puffy little white clouds slowly moving across the bright blue sky. What a dreamer I am, right?

But the reason I love this time of year is because it is the perfect time to prepare for the garden. Growing plants are such a thrill, and preparing their beds will make a difference for the entire growing season – and improve the quality and taste of the food they produce!

So what is the most important part of preparing for the spring garden? Why, preparing the soil, of course! As such, I’ve curated a list of my top 10 pins on Pinterest with soil preparation pins for the garden.

7 Best Soil Preparation Pins

7 Best Soil Preparation Pins

This pin includes a link to an article on The Herbangardener on Spring Soil Preparation for the Organic Vegetable Garden. Different soil amendments are discussed, but my favorite part is the recipe for the organic fertilizer – I can never remember the ratios quite right, so this is an awesome resource!

This pin includes a link to an article on Weed Em and Reap on How to Get Superpowered Garden Soil. I love that the article starts out with an image from Homesteady that describes how to test your soil – with the mason jar and 24 hours method. Once you know your soil type, the article walks you through what you can use to prepare your soil. It’s very helpful!

Of course, no gardening list of tips would be complete without a link to Mother Earth News – this publication has been and remains my very favorite resource for all things growing. And who doesn’t love the price of FREE? Organic fertilizers are really hot right now – and really overpriced. There’s no reason to spend all that money on organic fertilizers when there are plenty of free options available. Will one of these work for you? Might as well check for ideas before you assume they won’t! This article was reviewed and updated in January 2015 too – so don’t worry about it being outdated.

Planning to use raised vegetable gardens this year? Great! Just don’t forget that you can achieve better results when you prepare the soil beneath the raised bed and plan for the right soil height for the plants you’ll be growing. This article from EarthEasy.com will point you in the right direction. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of information covered – just pin or bookmark so you can refer to it later, it will be useful for quite a bit of your garden planning!

EarthEasy received the distinguished honor of being recognized twice on this list – they also have an excellent article on how to build rich soil for your raised garden beds, including the one amendment that most gardeners forget – adding a source of phosphorus. Great instructions on how to maintain the soil of your raised garden bed too, if you already have them built.

While we’re all excited to get out into the garden, it’s important to note that there IS such a thing as TOO SOON to go out and work the soil. If you work the soil too soon, you could run into difficulties. This article from Organic Gardening lays out some great information about when to work the soil to make sure that you’re not starting too early.

Have you used cover corps before? If not, you’re missing an excellent way to replenish your soil. I recently read an article about using white radishes as a cover crop – especially with clay soil – because the tap roots are so deep and can really help to break up the soil and bring the needed nutrients up a higher level. If you’ve not worked with cover crops before, Old World Garden Farms makes it easy with their article on breathing new life into your tired garden through the use of cover crops.

That’s my roundup for today – the 7 Best Soil Preparation Pins to help you get your spring garden off to a fantastic start!

Do you use any of these tips already? Which is your favorite? What will you be trying new this year? Did I miss a wonderful soil preparation pin? If so, let me know!

Stream workouts from Beachbody On Demand

Beachbody On Demand – Streaming Beachbody Workout Programs

One of my first serious workout programs that I’ve tried to lose weight and gain muscle was ChaLEAN Extreme – I absolutely adore that program. In fact, I love it so much that I’ve purchased another workout program by Chalene – her PiYo workout to help strengthen my core and get me back on track with running since my hip has been not behaving.

Even with the workouts I have selected, there have always been a list of other Beachbody programs that I wanted to try – like TurboFire, Brazil Butt Lift, and Hip Hop Abs. We’ve purchased P90X and Body Beast for my husband, but he might also have more programs he would like to try. I’ve also really loved having my workouts on DVD, but when you’re away from home it can be difficult to bring the workouts with you. I used to do ChaLEAN Extreme at the gym at work, but it was just not the same. There is an exciting new part of Beachbody that just launched yesterday that is the perfect solution – Beachbody On Demand!

Beachbody On Demand

Beachbody On Demand is a new feature of the Team Beachbody Club membership that allows you to stream workouts – wherever you are!

Starting March 25, 2015, they will also be adding on the Beachbody packages that you’ve already purchased to streaming, so you’ll be able to stream the programs that you already have on DVD. This is so exciting!

The programs now available on Beachbody On Demand include:

– P90X Base and Deluxe Kits
– P90X2® Base and Deluxe Kits
– P90X3® Base and Deluxe Kits© 2015 Beachbody, LLC. All rights reserved.
Team Beachbody Club Talking Points 3
– P90X ONE on ONE® Volume 1
– INSANITY Base and Deluxe Kits
– INSANITY: THE ASYLUM® Volume 1
– TurboFire®
– Brazil Butt Lift® Base and Deluxe Kits
– ChaLEAN Extreme®
– 10-Minute Trainer®
– Hip Hop Abs®

That means you can stream EVERY WORKOUT from those programs with your Team Beachbody Club membership.

You also will have access to these individual workouts as a sneak peek on other programs – so you can try before you buy –

– 21 Day Fix® ”Total Body Cardio Fix”
– 21 Day Fix EXTREME® ”Plyo Fix Extreme”
– PiYo® ”Sweat”
– FOCUS T25® ”ALPHA Cardio”
– INSANITY MAX:30TM ”Sweat Intervals”
– Body Beast® ”Build: Chest & Tris”
– P90® ”Sculpt A”

The very best part though is the price – it is VERY reasonable! Club membership costs $2.99 a week, billed $38.87 quarterly in advance to the credit card you use at sign-up. That’s only 44¢ per day!


CLICK. STREAM. SWEAT.

Let Me Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

If you do not already have a Beachbody Coach, I would LOVE to help you reach your workout goals! Even if you’re not a Beachbody customer, you can join my general health and fitness group Team McSlim on Facebook here.

Ready to try Beachbody on Demand? Join Team Beachbody Club with me as your coach here!

YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids App Launch

YouTube Kids

My kids and I love to have dance parties – and we generally find our songs to dance to from YouTube. But I never let them do any of the navigating – I’m always worried that they might stumble on a video that is not safe for children. To be fair, my paranoia isn’t completely unfounded.

Back when my oldest son was around 2, my husband was watching SpongeBob videos with him on YouTube. If you’ve been around the Internet much, you know that SpongeBob is a favorite show of children and adults alike. Unfortunately, some of the humor in it is more geared toward the adults – which inspires people to make adult-humor video compilations or clips. Actually, it doesn’t really matter if the humor is geared toward adults, there are people on the internet who will make adult-humor videos out of ANYTHING. And that’s fine – I totally don’t mind if that’s what they’re into, I just don’t want my son to be exposed to that at a young age.

So while I will watch YouTube with my kids every now and then, I don’t really give them freedom to find videos that they like. I do let them watch videos in the PBS Kids app, which I know has their favorite shows and is made from PBS Kids shows – they’re safe to watch, and I’m fairly confident that nothing raunchy will pop up.

But today I received an email that might just change my ideas about letting my kids surf YouTube – the YouTube Kids App is launching today on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.

YouTube Kids

After I saw the email, I installed the YouTube Kids app on my phone to check it out. When I opened it, the recommended channels included Sesame Street, Thomas & Friends, Pocoyo – English (we seriously LOVE this show!), The Official Peppa Pig (my 3-year old loves Peppa!) and more. So far so good!

In addition to shows, there is also a button for music so you can flip through music channels like Mother Goose Club, KIDZ BOP Kids, Super Simple Songs, and ThePianoGuys – we’ve listened to several of these channels on our own, but having them readily available is really neat!

The next button is the Learning button, which shows us channels like PBS Kids, TED-Ed, WhizKidScience, and IncredibleScience – love these! I do some simple preschool lessons at home with my 3-year old, and more in-depth lessons with my 6-year old who has interested that just aren’t covered in public school. We often turn to YouTube channels for this information, so I know the learning button will be well-used with us!

The fourth option is the Explore button which shows channels like LEGO, twentytrucks, simplekidscrafts, and Cosmic Kids Yoga. We adore Cosmic Kids Yoga – actually, we found out about it because it is one of the indoor recess activities that the kids do at school in my son’s Kindergarten class. It’s a great movement activity that doesn’t leave the kids bouncing off the walls and it is super fun!

But that’s not all – you are also able to change Parental Settings on the app. To access the settings section, you will need to enter the numbers shown as written words on the screen. For an older child who is able to read, this won’t really be a barrier, but for a little one, it works. In the Parental Controls, you’re able to set up a time limit so that your kid isn’t watching too long. You can turn on or off background music, sound effects, and even the ability to search – which is handy if you’re not sure you want your kid exploring too far. It will limit the app to just the channels on the homescreen.

SciShow KidsOverall, I really love the app! I am so excited to see it! I’m also excited because there are some new shows like SciShowKids that are launching with the launch of the app. This show will have science experiments to help answer those never-ending “why” questions every child seems to be innately able to come up with incessantly. Their curiosity is awesome, and this show helps the adults who are guiding them answer those questions!

And I’m not the only one! Common Sense Media reviewed the app prior to launch and said this:

“An exceptionally fun way for kids to browse online videos and for adults to guide their viewing.”
“A serious contender as a family’s go-to way for kids to watch videos online.”
“There’s something for everyone on YouTube Kids. Toddlers to big kids will be able to find a show, some music, or some educational content that fits their
interests.”
— Common Sense Media

Check out the video with the introduction to the app here:

Tip the Hat Award Voting

Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana – Finalist for “Tip the Hat Award” 2015

Make A Wish Foundation

Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana

One of the organizations that I have held in high esteem is Make-A-Wish. If you’re not familiar with Make-A-Wish, the organization grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. My area is covered by the Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana chapter, which also happens to be the largest chapter in the country. The chapter was started in 1983, and since then has granted over 13,000 wishes to children in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. In fact, 823 wishes were granted in the last fiscal year alone.

823 wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions granted in 1 year by Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana!

Whenever discussing charitable organizations, it is always important – as with any other investment – that you fully research the group that you are or are considering supporting. In addition to granting wishes for children, I also like Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana because a very high percentage (reported at 74%) of the donations received by the organization are used for wish-granting activities.

When considering a charitable organization, how they use the donations is very important! 

In addition to fully disclosing how their funds are used and using a very high percentage for wish-granting activities, I also like another financial aspect of Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana – they do not ask for any donations through telemarketing. Everyone has received those phone calls that come at the most inopportune times, and I’ve even worked as a telemarketer (for a day when I was a teenager!), but it is very difficult to trust that someone on the phone is really who they say they are anymore.

If any telemarketer calls you seeking donations for Make-A-Wish, report the call to 1-877-574-WISH (9474).

What wishes are granted?

To say that an organization grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions is easy – but to actually put it into practice is much harder. Make-A-Wish has had 32 years of practice with it, however, and they have a very easy to understand process:

  1. Referral: Children with a life-threatening medical condition from 2.5 to 17 years of age may be eligible for a wish. Make-A-Wish accepts referrals from children themselves, parents, and medical professionals to start the wish process.
  2. Eligibility: The child’s eligibility of a life-threatening medical condition is evaluated, and the child’s physician is involved in this process.
  3. The Wish: Once the child’s eligibility is confirmed after being referred to Make-A-Wish, the organization sends out a “Wish Team” of volunteers who will help the child to “envision an experience with the power to change lives” (Make-A-Wish OKI).
  4. Wish Granted: Make-A-Wish grants a wish for the child, based on what the child imagined as a life-changing experience.

Why grant wishes?

The experiences that are granted for children with life-threatening medical conditions are more than just something nice that people came together to do. Starting back in 1980 with a 7-year old named Chris Greicius who was diagnosed with leukemia, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has brought together people who can help children have a dream fulfilled – these children who are fighting for their lives with a bravery that is beyond their years. It benefits the community of people who come together to fulfill the dream of the child, boosting the morale of the parents who are watching their child suffer, with the knowledge that they will likely have to face every parent’s worst nightmare of burying a child.

whatever the odds

These children are so strong, so courageous – not because they want to be, but because that is the path their life has taken. To grant a single wish, to fulfill a simple dream, we all learn so much from the smiles of the children whose wishes are granted. As the Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana website says, “Whatever the odds, whatever the obstacles… wishes find a way to make the world better.”  (Make-A-Wish Mission)

Recent wish granted in Indiana

Recently, Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana granted a wish for a 6-year old boy in Indiana. Levi has a best friend who has offered him support and encouragement through his illness with a rare genetic disorder. He is too sick to travel, but his wish was for his friend Emma to travel. She took a “Flat Levi” around with her on her trip to Florida and snapped pictures for him to see. Read more about Levi and his wish.

You Can Help – Vote Now

Now that I’ve told you what an awesome organization Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana is, how they grant wishes, and shown you an example of one of the wishes granted by this chapter, I want to strongly urge you to vote for this chapter in a contest that is happening now through February 15, 2015.

Tip the Hat Award Voting

The LIDS Foundation has an annual “Tip the Hat Award” in which $300,000 is awarded to the top 5 finalists in a search for charitable organizations that support healthy and active youth programs. The first place winner is awarded $125,000, second place winner is awarded $75,000, third place winner is awarded $50,000, and the fourth and fifth place winners are each awarded $25,000.

The LIDS Foundation Board of Directors have narrowed down the list of organizations to the top 5 finalists – and Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana is one of those finalists! From here, the organizations are rallying supporters to cast a vote on lidsfoundation.org to decide the “Tip the Hat Award” grand prize winner, and I would LOVE for it to be my local chapter of Make-A-Wish!

To see more about the award, watch this video:

And don’t forget to vote at lidsfoundation.org!

how to make a first birthday scrapbook

How to Make a First Birthday Scrapbook

Scrapbooking can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first timer. But, putting together a first-birthday scrapbook is a fun way to create an attractive keepsake with the hundreds of photos you took during their first year and at the birthday party. There are several ways to get organized before you start the scrapbook that will make the process much easier and faster. Here are a few things you should think about before you start cutting and pasting:

Digital or Physical:

first birthday photosThe first decision you have to make is whether you’d rather do a digital scrapbook or a physical scrapbook. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options. For example: a digital scrapbook can be much easier to put together, especially if you’re not particularly crafty. Many programs allow you to create pages quickly and easily, and you can simply drop in your photos. Additionally, digital scrapbooks don’t require all of the fancy tools, paper and scissors that you’ll likely end up purchasing if you go physical.

If you opt for a digital scrapbook, this website is a great, easy-to-use option. What I love is that it allows you to purchase digital kits to add to your collection. The kits typically include paper/backgrounds, cutouts, fonts, etc.

Conversely, if being able to cut and design, insert photos and actually hold the scrapbook in your hands is important, then opt for a physical scrapbook. Physical scrapbooks are a great option if you want to have full control over the layout of the photos. They also provide the ability to add dimension to your design by layering photos, adding textured or 3D objects, and experimenting with luster. Traditional scrapbooks aren’t going to be lost if your computer crashes either.

Whether you decide to go physical or digital you should also consider making use of favorite outfits, blankets and other items. As these things can be difficult to scrapbook, a good option is a time capsule. The first birthday time capsule found here can be personalized to include your little one’s name and birthday. It’s a cute way to store items that are a little too big or awkward for a traditional style scrapbook.

There are a lot of fun things you can do with both physical and digital scrapbooks; it really comes down to personal preference.

Layout:

No matter what type of scrapbook you choose, you need to make a few choices about page sizes and such. The size and shape of the book you choose will determine how you can layout your pages. While narrower books (think something like a regular journal or 8×7) may be familiar to hold, they can be more difficult to design and work with. Consider larger, square books for more versatility.

scrapbooking can be fun Now the fun part: there are a million and one things you can do to each page. A fun idea to consider is to choose an overarching theme for the book. This will help narrow down your choices for paper styles, designs, fonts and colors. For example, you could choose a theme based on colors or events (the beach, the circus, etc.). Pinterest has a lot of pages with tips and steps to get the look you want.

Pro Tip: It’s often easier for people to break books up by year, so think about using other themes and colors for different years as well.

Photos:

The most important part of your scrapbook is the photos and keepsakes. Before you start scrapbooking, sort through all of your photos and pick out your favorites. The number of photos you decide to incorporate will impact how large the book will be. However, don’t feel like you have to narrow your choices down to only a few, you can cut or add photos later on if you feel like it.

This may sound counterintuitive, but be prepared to cut your photos. As in chop them with scissors. There are a lot of fun designs you can incorporate which look better with round photos, diamond shaped photos etc.

Add words:

A fun detail you can add to pages is a journal entry, such as adding a journal type page to the beginning of your little one’s first year scrapbook. Tell the story of how you chose their name, or how much they weighed when they were born. You can either hand write it (with permanent marker or another ink that won’t fade) or print it out and paste it in. Printing can be fun as it lets you choose different fonts and font colors; however, handwritten notes certainly have a more personal feel to them.

Including notes is a great way to add extra personality to the book and can be used throughout the scrapbook for pictures that require a little more reference or photos that have a fun story behind them.

Scrapbooking can be a fun, relaxing way to preserve memories. Take your time, do a little planning and most of all, choose designs that fit your family.

Sweater Stocking Tutorial

Tutorial: Sweater Stockings with Cuff and Coordinating Loop

This year we found the cutest stockings at the store, but I wasn’t willing to p art with the money for them. They were knit stockings with beautiful designs on them, so soft and warm. But when we started putting up our Christmas decorations and I took out our old boring stockings (you know, the kind with the iron-on transfer names), they just didn’t have quite the same feel. Plus, I’ve still not gotten around to doing the iron-on transfer name for our youngest, who is now 3. It might have something to do with me not knowing the location of my iron, but that’s a story for another day.

At any rate, I kept thinking about the gorgeous stockings and how much cooler they would be in our living room. At first, I thought maybe we weren’t going to DO stockings this year. We’re still working on establishing our Christmas traditions to some extent – our oldest son is 6 now, but for the first few years we could just wing it and he wouldn’t notice. But the kids were very excited about stockings and kept asking me when I was going to put ours up, so it occurred to me that I do have another option – my oft-neglected sewing machine!

After scoping out Pinterest for a while (solely for research, not because I was sucked in after trying to search for extra cool gag gifts that would top the tin foil hat, box of tinsel, and hand drawn flip book cartoon (I can’t draw to save my life) that I gave my sister last year…

box dance

Box dance

tin foil hat

Tin foil hat

box of tinsel

Box of tinsel

 

Actually, you can read more of my craziness with gag gifts and wrapping over here on last year’s wrap wars post. Since it’s not yet Christmas and I haven’t quite finished all my devious wrapping, I don’t have one for this year yet…

But the point is – while I was on Pinterest, I happened to see some super adorable sweater stockings. Easy DIY stockings that are made of recycled sweaters (upcycled?) that you either don’t want anymore or purchased at a thrift store. I thought it was a win win win winwinwinwinwin!

So the boys and I headed out on an errand day and stopped at the Goodwill in our town to shop for sweaters. My kids had a blast trying to find the just right sweater for their stocking. I was looking for sweaters that had some visually interesting knitting, but my kids were looking for cool colors. My youngest (he’s 3), fond a blue sweater with metallic thread in it that is very shiny. My oldest first picked up a sweater that he thought would be perfect for my husband, only to change his mind and say that he wanted it to be his. I found a very pretty sweater with pink and silver stripes in it, and we can always use more pink in our house. For my husband, we found a red sweater that had very nice knit stitches on it. We tried to stay away from sweaters that were too bulky, had too loose of stitches, or were too plain. I also picked up a white sweater – just a plain white ribbed turtleneck sweater – to use as a cuff for all four stockings, partly so that they would match, and partly because my other idea for the top was cotton balls and I didn’t think that would really jive with the beautiful sweaters.

So we took our sweaters home, I cut them up and sewed them together (it took me a little over 2 hours for the sewing of all 4, and I’m not the best seamstress, so I’m sure it doesn’t take too long. I broke two needles and ran myself out of bobbin thread without realizing it in the process – I’m quite accomplished). But, at the end, we had four beautiful stockings and my children could not be happier. Here’s the results:

Sweater Stockings

 

We have mine with pink and silver stripes, my husband’s which is a solid red that has very pretty knitting, a very patriotic stocking for my oldest son (we love this theme, especially with the last name Liberty!), and the shiny solid blue stocking with interesting knitting that is my youngest son’s. I posted this quick sneak peek of the stockings last night after I had finished them  on Instagram and shared it on Facebook as well.

I don’t have a mantle, so today we rounded up some Command hooks (that hold 5lbs, these are pretty hefty stockings with the sweater bulk), and shared a quick picture of the finished, hanging stockings:

diy sweater stockings

My friends and family love them! That’s an added bonus to the kids loving them, because let’s be honest, they’re the real judge of Christmas worthiness for stockings. My husband thinks that they look very  much like socks and would have preferred for the body of the stocking to be larger, especially in the foot area. That’s definitely doable, but it all depends on the pattern you start with. Which reminds me of the purpose for writing this post – a few of my friends asked for a tutorial for it. I love to share links to patterns and tutorials I find online, but the problem today is that I sort of mashed a few different ones together. See, I don’t have buckets of ribbon to pick a coordinating one for each stocking, but I wanted to use more of the sweater, so I made the loops out of the sweaters so they would match. And the cuff is not something that you see on most of the sweater stockings I found.  I didn’t line it, but it’s definitely possible for you to line them, and easy as well. So let’s get to it, time for the…

Sweater Stocking Tutorial

DIY Sweater Stocking Tutorial with Cuff and Coordinating Loop

What you need:

  • Sweater (find at thrift store, or in your own closet)
  • White sweater for cuff
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needles
  • Scissors
  • Pattern (more about this next)
  • Lining fabric (totally optional, but you could do just a cotton, and scrap fabrics work fine)

About the Pattern:

Most of the sweater stocking tutorials or posts that I’ve seen suggest that you start with a pattern of a stocking that you already love. I wasn’t able to find my old ones at the time, so I scoured the Interwebs to find one that I liked. I didn’t want to have to take the pattern to a copy shop to make it bigger, so I was abundantly happy when I found a tutorial online from FabricWorm that includes a pattern you print out on 3 pages and tape together. If you do have a stocking that you already like the shape of, trace it on to some paper (like a brown paper bag or newspaper), and then make sure you add an additional inch or so and cut around that extra line for seam allowance. Otherwise you’ll wind up with a skinny sock and not the beautiful one you’d imagined.

Preparing the pieces:

You need to have 4 pieces cut before you start sewing – 2 sides of your stocking, 1 cuff, and 1 loop.

To cut your stocking sides, I laid my pattern out on top of my sweaters to find a pretty spot to put it. For example, on my youngest son’s blue stocking, that interesting knit pattern only ran down the middle of the sweater, so I centered the stocking body (not foot) there. On my husband’s, it was the opposite with the middle being plain and the interesting knit pattern on the two sides of the front panel, so I centered the stocking body on one of the most interesting parts. I traced my pattern with a Sharpie, although normal people would probably use a fabric pen.

trace pattern for sweater stocking

Next you’ll need to cut out two layers of the stocking. I cut through two layers at one time. Again, normal people may do this differently – for example, they may trace the stocking pattern, cut one, trace and cut the other one. I just make shortcuts. As you can see, I’m using a different sweater here because when I made the original four, I didn’t take any pictures, so I had to make an extra stocking for my dog today.

Once you have your stocking cut, you’ll need to cut a small piece (about 3″x8″ or so) from your sweater. For two of our sweaters I used sleeve cuffs, I think I used at least one hem, and maybe even a neckline on one. It doesn’t matter where you pick it from, but the sleeves and hem generally have more ribbed areas rather than fancy stitches that could be hard to work with on a small piece.

stocking loop fabric

 

The final piece you’ll need to cut out is the cuff. For our stockings, I cut up the sides of the white sweater, to about the armpit area and then cut each piece in half where the breastbone would be if you were wearing the sweater, right down the middle. I did this for the front and the back, so I ended up with 4 pieces that were the same size rectangle – about 6″x16″. You can also open a sleeve and cut a similar sized rectangle, which is what I did for this fifth stocking:

sweater stocking cuff piece

And now that our pieces are cut, we are ready for assembly! This part will go fast, I  promise.

Assembling the Sweater Stocking:

I started with the loop first when I did my stockings, something about it being the smallest piece. I also have a hard time turning them inside out (yes, even with tricks to do it), so it actually took me the longest of the entire process. If it’s taking too long, you can always cut a wider piece and start over. So basically, for the loop, all you do is take your fabric piece  – it’s about 3″x8″ – and fold it in half lengthwise so that it’s now about 1.5″x8″, right sides together. You might want to pin, or you can live radically and just use your hands to keep it together. I’ll be honest – I only pin when I’m taking pictures. Seriously, I did one whole stocking without pinning anything when I did these, but I would totally not recommend that shortcut.

sewing the loop

You’ll want to use at least 1/4 – 1/2″ seam allowance on the side, depending on how bulky your sweater is and how much it looks like it’s about to fray on you. For the big chunky blue one I made for my youngest son, I used the about 1/2″ and that was the biggest. Use a zigzag stitch for strength. So after you sew it, you’ll have a tube. Turn it inside out – I use a crochet hook to help flip it, but you can  use whatever method you’ve got that works.

sewn loop

stocking loop

 

Yay, good job! Now the next part is to prepare the cuff. You don’t have to do them in this order, but I apparently went smallest to largest, so that’s what I’m telling you in this tutorial. So next is the cuff. You should have a piece of fabric (if you’re choosing to use a cuff) that is about 6″x16″. Place it in front of you so that the longest way is running from right to left. Fold in half, right sides together so you have a piece that is 6″x8″. Now you’ll want to sew this together with a zigzag stitch on the edge so that you have a tube. 1″ seam allowance will help with even the bulkiest of fabrics.

stocking cuff

 

Next for the cuff, you’ll flip if halfway down so that right sides are now out and wrong sides are in. It’s important to note at this stage, that you can press the seams or since we’re using a sweater, open up the seams like you would if you had pressed them so that it’ll be easier to sew through later and lays nice and flat.

Cuff seams flat

 

At this point, you’ll want to pin your loop into your cuff at the cuff seam. This will be going on the back of the body of your stocking. You want the loop part pointing down, so the raw edges of the loop and the cuff are aligned. Pin so that they stay together. You may want to leave your loop a little extra long so that it doesn’t get lost when you’re sewing up the cuff into the body of the stocking.

attach loop to cuff

 

So now we have our cuff and loop assembled. Time to move on to the stocking!

First, make sure you have your two pieces of stocking with right sides together. Sew with a zigzag stitch around the outside of the stocking, leaving about 1″ seam allowance (you can trim later, but this allows for any sweater fabric, even bulky ones). Be careful if you have a sweater with a very loopy pattern, because your sewing machine foot could get stuck in the stitches. This happened  with a couple of my stockings, and can be totally annoying.

sewing stocking pieces

 

After you have your stocking pieces sewn together, you can trim the seam allowance –  make sure to pay special attention to curved areas so that when you flip it right side out they won’t look weird. If they look weird, flip it back wrong side out and cut a triangle out of the seam allowance where it looked weird, this will help it lay more smoothly. Once you have it trimmed, flip your stocking right side out.

Stocking right side out

 

If you wanted to use a lining for the stocking, this is the time to prepare that. Simply cut 2 copies of your stocking pattern out on your lining fabric and sew with right sides together. Here’s the important difference though – DO NOT FLIP LINING RIGHT SIDE OUT. If you’re using a lining, it stays wrong side out and goes into the stocking at this point, after the stocking is flipped right side out and before the cuff assembly has been added. So if you’re adding a lining, do it now. If not, continue on.

The cuff assembly is the tricky part to explain, it will make sense when you do it. Place the cuff and loop with the folded edge pointing down toward the heel of the stocking into the the open stocking, aligning the raw edges of the stocking, cuff, and loop. The loop and cuff seam should be on the back seam of the stocking, the seam that goes down to the heel not the toes. Pin the cuff assembly into the stocking opening, raw edges together.

Pin cuff to stocking

 

In this picture, I am showing you if you align the loop raw edges on one side, and the other side I left the loop extra long so that it wouldn’t get lost when I was sewing up the cuff. It’s totally possible for layers to get lost in a big sweater sandwich.

Now that you have it pinned, you just sew up the side with a zigzag stitch so the cuff is sewing to the stocking. Use the 1″ seam allowance again. I went over the loop pieces with forward and back stitches a couple of times to make sure there was a tight hold.

sew cuff on stocking

 

All sewn up? Trim off loop/thread ends and flip cuff out – your loop will pop up with it!

trim loop end

flip cuff

And voila! You’ve made a stocking from a sweater!

sweater stocking

 

I would love to see any sweater stockings that you create, even if they’re not following this tutorial – heck, I rarely follow tutorials completely. Feel free to tag me on Facebook (@JustJoannaBlog or @Joanna Liberty) or Instagram/Twitter (@way2gomom) so I can see! And finally, I hope you have a beautiful and GREEN Christmas! So many times people mention that green is either expensive or shabby, but here’s proof that it doesn’t have to be either!

melancholy

YouTube Playlist: Melancholy

Do you remember making mix tapes? Recording songs off the radio with your super awesome stereo? Man, those were the days. You had to catch the song at just the right time, making top 40 countdown an amazing source for music and something to which you absolutely had to listen. And then when you didn’t get it quite right, you’d have to rewind and it could take a few tries before you absolutely had it correct – with no DJ talk, unless you wanted to include the name of the song, not too  long of an awkward pause, filling up the rest of the tape with the appropriate amount of songs, and the list goes on.

And after that there were mix CDs. It wasn’t as fun as mix tapes because you had less of a chance of discovering completely new music when you were taking music you already (legally, right?) acquired and putting it in a super awesome order with a specific theme. But there was the benefit of being able to have both the completely beginning AND ending of a song. And no weird comments from a DJ making an awkward spot in your mix. The sound was more clear, more crisp, and you could spend even more time on perfecting the exact right combination of songs.

But then there was YouTube. And all of the listening online with radio channels like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and all the rest. But there is still a way for you to get your creative music collections out of your head and into your ears – or the ears of those who love you enough to listen to the mixes that you make. I enjoy making YouTube playlists for the purpose of entertainment – mostly my own, but to recapture in a way the enchantment that happened from the days before online radio when mix CDs and, even better, mix tapes were an option. Sure,  you could make a mix tape now, but who has a tape deck on which to  listen? Or you could make a mix CD, but who uses a CD player anymore? They are far too easily damaged, as well.

Perhaps you’re a loyal reader and remember that collection I shared a while back with The History of Me in which I shared a playlist of songs that inspired me in different points of my life. Or perhaps you’re simply an awesome person who wants to know what crazy I’m talking about today – either way works for me.

Today is a horrible, miserable, rainy, not so good day. And windy. Did I forget to say windy? Because honestly, I’d be amazed if my outdoor decor was still there tomorrow. I’d go out and save it now, but there are only so many places to put things that are blowing away. And they blew away from the last places I put them so they may be on their own at this point. What is better for a terrible, horrible, windy day than a nice Melancholy playlist? Sure, you could listen to music that will perk up your spirit, but having a good down and grungy day every now and then makes those happy days that much brighter. Or maybe it’s just me, which could totally be the case. Click on the image listen to the playlist on YouTube, or check it out in the player below.

melancholy a youtube playlist

Song List:

Johnny Cash – Hurt
Metallica – One
Gordon Lightfoot – The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Nine Inch Nails – That’s What I Get
Treble Charger – Ever She Flows
Toad and the Wet Sprocket – Always Changing Probably
Modest Mouse – It Always Rains on a Picnic
Incubus – In the Company of Wolves
Pavement – Here
Neutral Milk Hotel – Two-Headed Boy, Pt. 2
Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
Elliot Smith – A Fond Farewell
Pixies – Where Is My Mind
Radiohead – Creep
Harry Chapin – Cats in the Cradle
Gary Jules – Mad World

Up for a challenge? Create your own melancholy playlist and send me the link so I can hear!