Why I Don’t Wear Skirts

A few years ago, I would have never thought twice about slipping on jeans to go to town or even slacks for church. I didn’t even know that it mattered to anyone else, except maybe those of Amish or Mennonite beliefs. But here lately, it seems that the subject is being debated everywhere. Should we, or shouldn’t we, wear skirts?

A Little Background

I didn’t grow up being modest. Far from it. My parents were hippies of the seventies and growing up, I really didn’t have many restrictions placed on me. I remember getting a leather mini-skirt for Christmas my 7th grade year and I thought I was hot stuff. Most all of my clothing decisions were made based on whether I thought the clothes made me look good.

As I got older and gave my life over to Jesus, He began to work on my heart in this area. Slowly I began to see that I needed to be more modest, both in my actions and in my dress. And I did {do} dress modestly, according to my standards.

When my oldest daughter was 15, she began to only wear skirts. We were living in Spain at the time, and there just weren’t very many options for finding modest skirts for a 15 year old. At first she bought many of them at the thrift store on base, but you can imagine the modge podge she found.

I will be honest here and let you know that there were times that I wished she wouldn’t wear skirts. Many of them were hideous. But as I prayed about it, I realized that I was focusing on her looking stylish instead of focusing on her desire to be dressed modestly before the Lord. As she kept searching for more skirts, she slowly accumulated a handful of skirts that were both modest and flattering.

I have stood by and watched her grow both in her faith and in her convictions. It is not always easy for her, but she has made a commitment to the Lord and she continues to find ways to honor her commitment. For instance, it gets pretty cold here in Wichita, but she has prepared for this by making sure she has leggings to wear under her skirts or warm knitted socks on her feet.

So what about me? Where do I stand?

I have thought about wearing skirts very often. And my answer was always, “not yet.” I am not ready yet. I knew in my heart that it was a very conscious decision I was making. I was saying, “I am not ready to yield.” And here are the reasons I gave myself…

1) They are not comfortable.

I know many people say the opposite, but they just don’t feel comfy to me. I have sensory issues, and little things bother me. For instance, I don’t like feeling my legs touch each other, especially when I am walking.

2) They change up the way I do things.

I am not very graceful. I like to sit on the ground cross-legged. I like to sit in the rocker with my knees pulled up to my chest. I don’t like to think about sitting properly or getting in and out of the van without my skirt flying up.

3) I don’t want to look frumpy.

I know this doesn’t make sense. I don’t have any problem wearing sweats all day, but in my mind I associate skirts with someone who “has to” be home with her kids. Like Ma Kettle. When I ponder my deepest thoughts, I realize how much of the world is still in me. How much I still have that desire to look good and be a women of the world. I don’t want to be that way. I want to be a happy homemaker who is content being where God has me. I just haven’t arrived yet.

4) Wearing skirts is hard work.

First, I have to either buy or make myself more skirts. Then I have to plan ahead and make sure they are pressed. And shoes. I need to make sure that I have shoes to wear with the skirts.

5) I don’t want to submit.

I think this is the heart of the matter. I just don’t want to be told that I should do something. Shouldn’t I be able to wear what I want. After all, I don’t wear tight jeans or short shorts. Doesn’t God want me to be beautiful and comfortable and …well, me.

Does It Really Matter?

As I read through my list of “why’s” something really sticks out. Do you notice it? It reminds me of the old Toby Keith song, “I Wanna Talk About Me”. That’s right, I am so concerned about me. About my wants. About my desires.

The entire focus of the skirt issue is me.

I have read all the reasons that I should wear skirts. And I know them well. God doesn’t want me dress like a man. He wants me to dress modestly, distinctly feminine. And I have argued in my heart that I can do this while wearing what I want. And truthfully, I have seen women with a very meek and quiet spirit wearing pants.

I love the Lord greatly and I am a woman who wears pants.

{As I sit here and write this, I am reminded of a saying that was popular not so long ago. When a woman tried to usurp the authority of her husband, it was asked of her, “Who wears the pants in this family?” The one who wore the pants was the one in charge. Maybe that is why, deep in my heart, I want to wear pants. I want to be in charge. Hmmm, need to do some more heart examination.}

But I really feel like the Lord calls us to be sanctified–set apart. When non-believers see us, there shouldn’t be a question in their minds as to whether or not we are believers. Our outward adornment should portray someone who is meek and quiet, wholly feminine, completely submitted, clothed in righteousness.

And some might argue that a skirt doesn’t mean all these things. But I would argue that if those of us who are completely honest with ourselves would search deeeeep in our hearts, we would agree that wearing a modest skirt is more glorifying to the Lord than what we usually wear (at least most of the time, anyway).

So, Where Do I Go From Here?

I am not sure.

I know that is not the answer you were looking for. It’s not the answer I want to give. I would like to say that “from now on, I will only wear skirts!” I don’t think it would be an honest answer though. I am praying that the Lord would give me strength over my flesh. I am praying that He would give me a heart that desires to love Him more than my own desires. I am hoping that I can lay this all down at His feet and follow only Him.

In the meantime, I am preparing for obedience. What does that mean?

Right now, I couldn’t realistically wear skirts everyday.  I simply do not own enough skirts to wear everyday of the week (unless I washed them every other day — again, not very realistic).  So I am taking a class on designing and making your own skirts.  I figured that if I made the skirts to my liking, there would be a greater chance that I would actually wear them.

I am also going to read through some some posts that will encourage my efforts.  Amy at Raising Arrows has a series she wrote a while back (as in, back when my heart was saying I didn’t want to think about wearing skirts) called She Wears Skirts.  She shares a ton of great information, tips, and really just a heart for helping other women who are going through–the change.

For the most part, I will be seeking the Lord and asking for grace in this area of my life.  And for help in being obedient.

What about you?  Anyone else going through–the change?

Learning Display Frames

I was over at a friend’s house, taking my little one to the bathroom, when I noticed she had taken a memory verse card and clipped it to a picture hanging on the wall. I loved the idea of having my memory verse, or any learning aid, displayed in various places in the house. This makes it so easy to spend a minute or two working on memorizing a verse, or learning a bit of information, as you go about your daily task.

Today I am sharing a tutorial on how to make these cute frames over at The Happy Housewife. Why don’t you join me there!

Upcycled Desk = Boy’s Tool Bench

After ending up at the wrong museum for a blogger meet-up, my little man could not be pulled away from the tool bench. It was then that I came up with the idea to somehow make him his own tool bench. I tried making one from scratch. After having the guy at the home store cut out the wood for me, my hammering skills proved inadequate and the project was a bust. I continued to have hope, thinking up an easier way to accomplish my goal. I scavenged the thrift stores in our area hoping to find a solid wood sofa table or hall table. I didn’t have any luck finding one, but I knew immediately when I saw this little white computer desk for $15 that I had struck gold.

After having my son stand next to the desk, I realized it was a bit too tall for him to work at comfortably. My husband took the desk apart and cut off 5 inches from each of the “legs”.

After putting it back together, I sprayed the desk with 1 can of primer. I was told it wasn’t necessary to prime it, but because I was painting the desk red, priming it first would make it nice and bright. My goal in choosing red was to match my husband’s Snap-On toolbox, so I wanted it really shiny. After the desk was primed, I sprayed on 2 coats (2 cans) of red paint.

To create a divider drawer for all the bolts, screws, and nails, I bought an office supply plastic tray. The tray was a bit too wide for the keyboard pull-out, so I sawed off the back portion of the tray. I had to take a bit of sand paper and smooth out the rough edges after cutting it apart. I had my older son screw the plastic tray to the keyboard pull-out before attaching it back to the desk.

For the pegboard on top of the desk, I used a portion of a crate we had left over from our move. However, to replicate this, just measure the top of your desk or table to find the length of wood you would need. Then decide how tall it needs to be. Have the guy at the home store cut 2 pieces the desired length and 2 pieces of the desired height minus 2 inches (see illustration) from a 3×1 board. Then have him cut a piece of pegboard the total length and height.

Nail the boards together as pictured in the illustration. Place the pegboard over the frame and nail it down to the board. Place it upright on the edge of the desk. Drill holes through both the frame of the pegboard and the desk. Bolt frame in place.

For a finishing touch, I laid down a ribbed shelf liner to protect the surface of the work bench. I also picked up several small hand tools to complete our bench including small screwdrivers, a leveler, a measuring tape, and lots of screws and nails. I also added in a tub full of small pieces of wood so that he can practice hammering. I have also found that small cardboard boxes are easier to get a nail or screw through. This lets them practice without getting too frustrated.

Shared with A Delightful Home

Tutorial: English Paper Piecing – Hexagon Flowers

Here is a little project I have been working on for at least a year. I pull it out ever so often and work on a few blocks at a time. I am hoping to create enough flowers for at least a baby quilt.

Recently, my younger girls wanted to learn to sew by hand. This was a nice project for them because it uses paper templates. Even with uneven sewing, their blocks turned out very sharp. Maddie turned hers into a pot holder and Hannah is going to make a doll quilt when hers is completed.

What You Will Need:

Hexagon Template – I find it best to print these out on card stock. Make sure that they are cut out exactly on the lines. Also, when printing, make sure the “scaling” setting is set to NONE. If you prefer a larger hexagon template, please see my downloads page.

Fabric scraps – Cut your scraps into 2 inch blocks

Getting Started: Making the Flower

1. Cut out paper templates.

2. Take one hexagon template and lay it on a fabric block. Trim edges to leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance (or more) around the edge of the template.

3. Folding over one side of the fabric, baste the fabric to the template. Work your way around the hexagon, turning down each side and basting it to the template as you move around.

4. Continue creating hexagons until you have 7 of them. I like to use printed fabrics for the six petals, then a solid fabric for the middle.

5. Taking two hexagons, place them right sides together. Whip stitch a pair of edges together, being careful not to stitch the paper template (we will remove it later).

6. Pick up another hexagon and sew it to the next edge.

7. Sew side seam together. You will have to fold the middle hexagon in half so that the two side pieces can be placed right sides together.

8. Continue until all the hexagons are sewn together.

Creating the Quilt Block

Now that you have a flower sewn together, it is time to create a quilt block with it. There are two different methods for sewing the flower. This method removes the paper templates before the flower is sewn to the fabric.

1. Press the flower using a steam iron. Make sure to press the back side, holding the iron in one place for several seconds. You want to make sure the edges of the flower are set before taking the paper out. You can even use starch on them if you prefer.

2. Carefully cut out the basting stitches, then remove the paper templates.

3. Take a block of fabric (I am using 8 1/2 inch blocks here) and press it flat.

4. Fold the fabric into fourths. Align the flower with the folds of the block of fabric. Pin the flower to the fabric.

5. Unfold the block and pin the entire flower to it.

6. Place block in an embroidery hoop. Sew the flower to the fabric using a blind hem stitch. This is the same stitch I use for my quilt binding.

7. Remove block from hoop. Press (I still need to do this) and use in a block setting of your choice. I plan on turning the blocks into snowball blocks (triangles in each corner) and then using sashing between all sixteen blocks. Hopefully it won’t take me another year to finish!

Ideas

Just a few ideas to use these hexagon flowers…

of course, many different quilt settings including Grandmother’s Flower Garden
pot holders
baby bibs
Christmas stockings
table runner

FREE Online Sewing Class

UFO Sighting (Unfinished Objects)

The weather is getting cooler here in Kansas and for the ladies of the house, this means we are working on projects. Kendra and the girls have started their Christmas knitting and I am working on several “just because” projects. And my list is growing.

I recently discovered Craftsy. Do you know about Craftsy? Craftsy is an online plethora of crafting goodness. There are classes of all sorts (quilting, sewing, knitting, baking, cheesemaking, beading, and soooo many more), some are free and some you pay for. There are tons of patterns, both free and for sale. And then there are the crafting supplies…fabric, yarn, and all kinds of goodies at a really discounted price.

So these yummies just arrived in my mailbox today! I haven’t bought any fabric in a really long time. But when I browsing the Crafty classes, I noticed they had a Civil War Block of the Month (BOM). For those not familiar with BOM’s, basically you work on one quilt block per month and at the end of the year you put them all together to form one large quilt. The Civil War BOM class is on sale right now for $29.99. Once you sign up, you have indefinite access to the videos for the class, so you can work at your own pace and go back over it as many times as you like.

I have always wanted to make a Civil War quilt. I love the reproduction fabrics and learning all the history behind the block patterns. Kendra has been wanting to learn to quilt so we may work on this one together.

Online Quilting Class

If you are just learning to quilt (or would like to), there is another Block of the Month that is geared toward beginners and it is FREE! This is a great way to learn a little at a time. This is also a great project for younger girls…a free home-ec class.

And one more little project…

I am making a wall hanging quilt pattern. I have had this pattern in my mind for over three years but have never been able to complete it. I finally drew out the embroidery design on illustrator (it will have a middle block with embroidery). Actually the entire pattern is drawn out in illustrator, I just need to find time to quilt the sample piece for it.

Here are the sweet fabrics I will be using for it. Can’t wait to finish everything so that I can share it with you all!

Disclosure: The above links are affiliate links.

Schoolhouse Review: Golden Prairie Press — Costumes with Character

Over the last year, my oldest daughter has attended two different ladies’ tea parties–one for a Sense and Sensibility book chat and one for the Turn of the Century tea party at the Vision Forum Reformation of Food and the Family conference. Both times she had hoped to find a period dress to wear, but in each instance we were pressed for time and weren’t able to make a dress in time. Most of the patterns we had looked at were very elaborate and would have taken quite a bit of skill to make.

The Book

Both my daughter and I were very pleased to be able to review a copy of Costumes with Character by Amy Puetz. At first, I thought that this was simply a book of historical dress patterns. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was so much more. The book contains chapters from eleven different time periods. Each chapter gives a historical synopsis of the the time period, as well as information about the clothing of the time period. There are relevant quotes scattered throughout the book, along with a questions to spur further historical study. I was also glad to see a resource section to add to our studies. After homeschooling for 12 years, I am familiar with most homeschooling books, but Amy includes other books to shed light on the clothing during each time period.

Amy has included excerpts from several historical documents, helping the reader to better understand the people in each time period. This struck a chord in me as I realized that although there are general patterns of dress during each period, each specific person was much like we are today. They each had their own tastes and were limited by availability of materials, skill level, time, and money. Many of the women had to be very frugal and make do with what they had available. Most of the time, their daily clothing might have been very plain with an apron covering it to help prevent spoiling it as they did their work. Fancier clothing, worn only on special occasions, would have been carefully stored and passed down from one generation to the next.

The Patterns

As I mentioned before, most of the patterns I have seen in the past have been very complex. Amy has greatly simplified her patterns by first starting with a simple “base” dress, then build upon it for each costume. Some of the costumes are created by simply adding an apron, collar, and head covering. Others are more elaborate and require more skill level to make.

As first I was a bit disappointed that some of the costumes were so simple. But after I thought about it a bit, I realized that this is really a great thing for our family. For instance, my younger girls would be able to help with the simple pilgrim costumes, where as my oldest daughter would like to make a Civil War era dress, complete with hoop skirts. And just because the patterns are simple, doesn’t mean we can’t add to them and make them our own.

I am not seamstress, but I do sew quite a bit. Amy has written out her pattern instruction in a very clear, step-by-step manner. She has included illustrations and images to further explain the instructions. The patterns in the book are on a grid and must be enlarged. This can prove to be cumbersome as you print our several sheets of paper then try to piece them together. I was so thankful to get an email from Amy saying that she recently added full size patterns to her website!

Age Range

As far as the historical information in the book, this would be a great history supplement for anyone 8 and up. However, children this young would definitely need help sewing the costumes.

Price

Costumes with Character comes in both the e-book version for $21.95 or the printed version for $37.00.

Through the end of August, Golden Prairie Press is having a back-to-school sale and offering 20% off all of their books, e-books, and patterns.

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To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Costumes with Character, click the banner here:

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Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Magazine Holder Cozy

We homeschool year round at our house, but usually mid-summer I get the itch to start planning for the next school year. I think about how things worked out the previous year, and if there are any changes that I would like to make for the upcoming year.

One of the things that has been on my mind is the accessibility of “my stuff”. I usually keep all of our current books in a large basket on the bookshelf. But once I sit down to start reading to the kids, I have to either bring several books with me or get up between books to get the next one. I don’t mind getting up and getting the next book, but I have noticed that when mama gets up, even for a second, the kids scatter like ants. And their focus is completely gone.

To remedy the situation, I decided to place several books in a magazine holder at the side of my seat. I can now keep my books, worksheets, maps, pens…all at my fingertips as we move from one lesson to the next.

And because I didn’t like the look of black plastic, I came up with a cute magazine holder cozy to jazz it up a bit. I was so pleased with the results!

Head on over to The Happy Housewife where I am sharing my magazine cozy tutorial!

Zippered Pocket Tutorial

I have been working on a notebook cover for a friend of my daughter. I decided to add a zippered pocket to the inside flap so that she could carry her banjo picks with her. I guess not everyone needs to carry around their picks with them, but this would also be great for pens/pencils, change, or any small objects.

1. Measure you zipper and add 1 inch to this measurement. Take this measurement and cut out a piece of fabric that is the length and width of this measurement. For instance, if your zipper measures 9 inches long, add 1 inch, bringing your measurement to 10 inches. Cut out your fabric 10 inches long and 10 inches wide.

2. Unzip the zipper and place it right side down on the right side of the fabric, making sure to center it along the edge. Sew down the side of the zipper.

Note: I used a zipper foot on my machine to sew close to the zipper.

3. Fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Pin the un-sewn side of the zipper to the right side of the fabric and sew.

4.  Zip the zipper closed (I left mine partially opened so that I could easily open it when I finished).  Press the fabric flat, making sure that the zipper is centered.  Sew across the top and bottom leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

5. Turn inside out. When I sewed it onto my notebook cover, I simply chose a matching color thread and sewed around the very edge of the zippered pocket.

Puppet Theater Tutorial

Last month my niece turned 7, and I was at a loss for what to get her. I wanted to give her something fun that would also promote creativity. My sister doesn’t have ample space in her house, so it needed to be something that didn’t take up too much room. After some brainstorming, my daughter and I were able to create a Big Top Puppet Theater.

Head on over to The Happy Housewife where I am sharing my tutorial on How to Make a Puppet Theater!

Knitted Sock Puppet Tutorial

Today’s post is a guest post from my daughter, Kendra. You can visit her at her blog, Sanka Pup Designs or at her etsy shop.

For my cousin’s birthday, my mom asked me if I could knit a couple of puppets to match a puppet theaters she was making for them. The colors: rainbow. I needed a pattern that was quick and simple, because her birthday was very soon (not that I take an extremely long time for just a pair of puppets, but between graduating and finishing working at the yarn store, I’ve been kept busy!). So I started my first idea. If you’re looking to make a pair of puppets, take a look at both of the different ways I made each of them, and then choose the one you want!

Note, these are more of general “how to’s” rather than patterns. Plus, what may fit my cousins may not fit the recipient of your handmade puppets! What I will do is tell you the construction, and you can play around with the size. If you did a gauge swatch before to figure out how many stitches you get per inch, then you could measure your hand, and multiply your stitches per inch times the width of your hand/wrist (depending on how snug you would like it). For these how to’s, we’ll call this amount of stitches (your gauge x recipient’s hand measurement) “X”. The nice thing about these how to’s is that you can use it for any weight of yarn! Well, enough chit-chat, let’s get started!

Toe Up Puppet

For my toe-ups, I like to use Judy’s Magic Cast On (follow the link to a video on how to do it). My only problem with it is that it’s not very DPN friendly, and I’m a huge fan of double pointed needles! But for this cast on, I would highly recommend the magic loop technique. It saves your project from being thrown across the room, and it saves you the frustration.

Top Portion of the Puppet’s Mouth

Step One:
Using Judy’s Magic Cast On, cast on roughly 1/7 of X stitches. Make sure that you round it to the nearest even number. For example, I did mine in sock weight, and cast on 8 stitches or so. If you cast on fewer, it’s going to be more pointed, whereas if you cast on a few more, it’s going to be a little more rounded. Note, casting on *too* many stitches will result in a flat “toe”, so try to stick close to the 1/7 of X stitches!

Step Two:
Place two markers. One at the beginning of your round, and one at the half way mark, then proceed, working in the round.

Step Three:
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: K1, M1, knit to one stitch before first marker, M1, K2, M1, knit to one stitch before second marker, M1, K1

Step Four:
Repeat these two rounds until you have X amount of stitches. This starts the top portion of the mouth of the sock puppet. Knit in stockinette stitch until you reach the desired length you would like it to be.

Step Five:
Once it is desired length, put all the stitches on waste yarn unless you have another set of the same needles to use for the next part.

Bottom Portion of the Puppet’s Mouth

Repeat the instructions of the top portion, only changing the length of the stockinette stitch in step four.

Joining the mouth

For this, you definitely want to know the kitchener stitch (grafting stitch) well. We will call the top part of the mouth of the puppet part A, and the bottom part of the mouth part B.

Step One: Put half of the stitches from part A on one needle (use the markers to help guide where “half” is). If you’re using magic loop, you won’t have to worry about this, they’ll already be evenly splitter.

Step Two: Repeat step one for part B of the mouth, putting half the stitches on one needle (note: this is not the same one needle as part A)

Step Three: Graft the stitches from both A and B off of the two needles (part A’s needle and part B’s needle).

Step Four: Make a new round by joining the other half of part A and the other half of part B together. Be sure to pick up two stitches from each corner of the mouth and knit them as part of the new round. This will increase your number of stitches, and will help to close up any gaps between the two joined pieces.

Knitting the body

Knit for as long as you would like the straight stockinette portion to be, then switch to “k2, p2” ribbing for as long as you’d like ribbing.

Finishing

Cast off and weave in all ends

Sew on eyes, maybe a mane, a couple ears, a nose if needed, or whatever accessories strike your fancy.

Top Down Puppet

Knitting the body

Cast on X amount of stitches, do a “k2, p2” ribbing for as long as desired, and then straight stockinette as long as desired.

Bottom of Mouth

Step One: Knitting on only half of the stitches, knit in stockinette until desired length minus short row toe length (I did a slip 1 at the beginning of each of my rows)

Step Two: Do a short row toe.

Step Three: Knit back up the stockinette you made in Step One, picking up one of its side stitches each row and knitting (or purling) it together with the first stitch of each row.

Top of Mouth

Step One: Now that you have knitted back to where you left the rest of the stitches, join back in the round, and knit for desired length minus length of toe.

Step Two: Make a toe by decreasing two stitches at each side every second row until you get to about 1/7th of X stitches.

Step Three: Graft remaining stitches together using kitchener stitch.

Finishing

Weave in ends

Add desired embelishments

Have fun with your puppets!