Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Re-purposing Sweatshirts Idea April 10, 2013

Filed under: green living,sewing,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 6:14 am
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One of the challenges that we run into with our son is keeping him clean when eating or drinking. He is 5 years old, has Classic Autism, and is considered low functioning. He is unable to feed himself, but as we feed him, he constantly wipes his mouth across his shoulders. Doesn’t matter how fast we try to be with a napkin, he walks away from a meal with a messy shirt. When drinking from a cup, he often dribbles is drink down the front of himself. This is in large part due to him not holding his mouth correctly as he drinks. At his age, it is difficult to find a bib large enough to keep him clean. So, I did a bit of brainstorming.

What I came up with is a nearly no-sew bib using an old sweatshirt. The fabric is very absorbant and soft. By re-purposing the sweatshirt, it elimnates a lot of time and work put into sewing a large bib. Total amount of time it took for me to make this bob was about 20 minutes. The following are 2 different bib options, depending on your needs.

Bib Option #1 – Full Coverage

I took an old sweatshirt and cut it straight up the back. This allows it to be fast & easy to put on and remove.

Next, cut the sleeves to be about short sleeve length. This will provide coverage over the shoulders and upper arm where he tends to wipe his face.

Using 2 lengths of ribbon, hand-stitch a ribbon to each side of the neckline in back to make a tie for securing the bib on.

If you want a pocket for the bottom of the bib, turn up the bottom hem to make the pocket. With needle and thread, use a few stitches to tack the hem in place, leaving the entire shirt front open.

That’s it! The project is very fast and easy. You can use sweat shirts that have recently been out-grown or get a couple from a thrift store.

Bib Option #2 – More traditional style bib

For this bib, there is no sewing. Lay the sweatshirt onto a table and spread smooth to remove any folds. Carefully, draw alarge “U” shape going from one shoulder, down the front to just above the bottom hem ribbing and back up to the opposite shoulder. I would start the tracing at the seam where the sleeves attach to the shoulders.

Flip the shirt over and repeat the tracing but only going about 1/3 of the way down the shirt back.

Carefully cut on the traced lines, front and back. That’s it! A very easy pullover bib. If the sweatshirt neck is a little on the snug side when putting the bib on, use your scissors to make a straight cut down the back. To maintain the pullover style, only cut about 3-4 inches down from the neckline. This will give extra room when putting the bib on or taking it off. Or you can cut straight down the entire length of the back and add a ribbon at the neckline to hold the bib secure when used.

Save any excess sweatshirt fabric or the ribbing from the bottom hem. The fabric scraps make great baby wipes or cleaning rags. The ribbing can be used for making mittins.

To make mittins from sweatshirts, trace your child’s hand with thumb extended and fingers loosely together. Add 1/4 inch around the tracing for seam allowance. Cut a double layer of the sweatshirt fabric for each mittin. Sew around the mittins, leaving the bottom open. Measure the wrist of the child. Add a 1/2 inch to the measurement. Cut 2 lengths of ribbing using the wrist measurement. Fold one ribbing in half and sew short ends togehter to make a tube. Pin into place on a mittin and sew. Repeat with remaining ribbon on 2nd mittin. Voila! You have a new pair of mittins to help keep little hands warm.



Super Easy & Quick Crochet Hat Pattern December 30, 2012

Filed under: family,sewing,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 3:41 am
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I fell in love with this pattern during the holiday. I was looking for a fast & easy pattern to work up for my youngest kids and 2 of my grandsons. Maggie’s Crochet has a wonderful YouTube tutorial of her pattern at

I made the first hat in a couple of hours. It was a very fast and easy project. I love her directions and the size chart provided on the above link. Well worth printing out for later reference.


My “Little House” Daughter December 14, 2011

Filed under: sewing,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 12:36 am

I am not one for buying fancy or expensive things for the holiday gifts. It makes no sense to me. I can think of so many ways that the money can go towards pantry building or other family needs instead of a toy or other gift that will be a temporary source of entertainment. We prefer giving gifts that are useful or family oriented. This year, our young daughter asked for only 1 special gift. She asked me to make her a doll. So, I am looking through my fabrics and choosing the materials I will use to make it for her. I have an old McCalls doll pattern and a pattern pack of dresses for the doll. I have been waiting to make this one. I knew that she would want one eventually. She is nearly 6 years old and love the Little House books. I found a pattern for a dress & pinafore similar to that worn by the little girls on the Little House television show. That will be a surprise for her. She has asked for a dress like Laura wore in the books. The doll dress pattern pack has a similar dress/pinafore set also. I am going to be able to make a matching dress and pinafore for our daughter and her doll.

We are doing Little House themed unit studies based on the books. I found them at Homeschoolshare. Instead of making lapbooks, I have used a comb binding machine to bind a book of nearly 35 pages. Each page is a different activity based upon a passage we have read in the book that day. We started with the “Little House in the Big Woods” story and will take the series of books in the order.


Re-Purposing Kids Tank Tops December 4, 2011

Filed under: green living,sewing,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 7:20 pm

If you have extra sleeveless tops from summer for your kids, there is a fun way to re-purpose them into something they (or you) can use year round. Lay the shirt flat on a surface and pin the bottom closed with straight pins. Sew the shirt bottom closed about 1/4 inch from the edge. Remove the pins.

Turn the shirt inside out and smooth out flat again. Pin the bottom once again. This time, sew a seam about 1/2 inch from the bottom. This will completely encase the first seam. This makes a very secure french seam of double stitching. Turn the shirt to the right side again. Voila’ You have a fun tote bag!