My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Yards and yards February 26, 2013






I just finished buying fabric for my churches upcoming Good Friday and Easter service plays.  As I “speak”, 140+ yards of quilting cotton are being washed and ready to be ironed….. I hate ironing, but it’s for a good cause dang it!
























Let’s see here, that would be….

  • 12 Apostles
  • 8 men
  • 5 women
  • 2 angels
  • 1 Pilate


…… in about 3 weeks.


That’s…. like a town.  I think I’ve actually been to that one?


So I’m setting my sparkly costume aside to work on some more “spiritual” work.  I’ll be praying I finish in time!






This also means schoolwork in mom’s sewing room and breaks only for sleep, soccer and arguing with the insurance company (yes, we’re still trying to get a floor).






Is all the work worth it?  Of course!  Free sewing project – always worth it!  Oh and you know, a good message to boot.


Our bit of a miracle February 19, 2013





Our first-born turns 18 this week.  It’s a shock for us – let’s face it, we’re not old enough to have a kid that age.  HA!

Ok, let’s be honest, my first-born was a high school graduation “surprise” (as though we really didn’t know how it happened).  Not everyone likes surprises as much as others apparently?


All I could think of that first day we found out was my career counselor in high school telling me loudly “With grades like this, you might as well just start having babies.  You’ll never be able to do anything worth while.”  As though being a mom was the worst thing you could be?






Over the objections of a lot of people, my boyfriend of two years and I decided that this little one wasn’t a choice.  I offered to let him head for the hills and not tell anyone who the baby belonged to, but not a chance, he was in it for the long hall.

After we let people know, a lot of friends walked away, and even my church asked me to stop coming.  I was ignored, talked about, told off and called names.  Boxes filled with very used baby items with notes attached telling me that “this is what you get when you have a baby before you’re married” arrived, even though I worked and could afford to buy them myself.

We had people offer our baby to others without our permission, handing us couples numbers telling us that “they would really love a baby and they’ve already talked with them.”  I had the nurse who was supposed to give me information on how to take care of myself while pregnant attempt to threaten me into an appointment to “get rid of it”.

Rude comments, whispers and dirty looks from strangers, co-workers, checkers, nurses and anyone else who felt the need to chime in, as though their opinion mattered, came rolling in to “encourage” us.


My boyfriend and I visited almost every weekend while he was up north working on his first year of college.  You’d be amazed how caring and protective frat boys can be when it comes to one of their “brothers” baby’s!  Leaving me in the care of our wonderful midwife who protected and encouraged me and a few friends who were amazing to me, while I stayed behind to finish up work.  

9 months later, he came down for a surprise visit that must have been a little too exciting for me – that Sunday, our first-born arrived on his exact due date.  7 lbs 14 oz – 19 inches.  5:03 am.



Picture 374



We got married 6 months later right before he left for basic training and we’re still happily married today!


This “thing” that was supposed to ruin our lives and should never be born has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to us.  He was supposed to keep us from succeeding, from having a life and from doing anything important.  Instead – he was a reason to work harder, be better and to love him, and each other that much more.  I wish everyone could have someone to work that hard for!

Not only has my husband become dentist, but has worked his way up from enlisted to an officer in both the Air Force and the Navy.

I have opened my own business that allows me to have full control over my work and how I take care of my family.


What you view as “having a life” depends on what you think having a life is.  A party every weekend or waking up next to a husband and cookie breathed baby IS a life – it’s an excellent, wonderful, crazy life that would have been robbed from me if I had listened to all the people who told me – that this isn’t a life.

And what makes a job important?  Is teaching a child his ABC’s important, or being there to scare the monsters away?  Is teaching your sons that girls are to be honored, something to be proud of?  If it weren’t for people who give up their lives for others…. if it weren’t for parents, people who do “something important” wouldn’t exist.  THIS…. is important!


Honestly – it wasn’t easy.  My guess is that’s why God said to do it the other way around!  But please, can someone show me something in life, that is worth while, that is easy?


Didn’t think so!


He is graduating from high school and college with honors.  He’ll have a 2 year degree when he walks out of our house in a few months.  He’s already run his own baking business, traveled several states, helped me with his brothers while his dad is serving his country, shown amazing leadership skills at home, work, school and church.  He has shown us that he’ll be an amazing man, husband, father and Christian.  He’s been one of my best friends and biggest challenges from the first day I learned about him.  I can’t imagine our life or the world without him.






I am so glad we didn’t believe anyone when they told us that he was the worst choice we could make or didn’t believe that he was something to “take care of”.  We didn’t believe that he was a cause for sadness.  He was ours, from the first moment we knew about him!


It did take a while for the reality to set in though….


I say to all of you –

– who profess to say you are “pro-life” and then give the stink eye of shame to the 16-year-old who keeps her baby – you are hypocrites!  Instead encourage her, walk beside her – trust me, she already knows all the things she’s done wrong and doesn’t need your help to feel any worse.  She needs your encouragement and loving guidance.  God doesn’t make mistakes, even if we can’t see the reason.


I say to all of you –

– who say you are “pro-choice” and then chastise the girl for keeping her baby, telling her that her life is over, she’s ruining everything you or she’s got planned for life – this is her *choice*!  Back her up, help her.  Don’t tell her that her life is over and all she can do is nothing and welfare is her only option.  She is an amazing person, with an amazing person in the making.


Better yet – tell her AND the father!


Thank you to everyone who believed in us, backed us up, helped us, talked with us, stayed with us and didn’t remind us.  You helped us make an amazing man.  I hope to be able to pass this gift on someday.


I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him!


A little perspective here folks! February 16, 2013

Filed under: Boys,Broken/Repaired,Family,Hubby,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 12:08 am
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Sometimes it’s nice, and necessary, to think back to times in your life when you really did think you weren’t going to make it through – and obviously you did, since you’re able to think back to that time!


I’ve had plenty of these moments and sometimes I’m even thankful.  Now that I look back on most of those moments they seem so small and not worth worrying about, but each one was a bit harder than the last, almost like a building block.  There are some that were more than minor and were actual life and death situations, so the worry was actually warranted, most however were not if I could have just kept it in perspective of what really matters.







Earlier this week, after a very long day, I was seriously wondering how much longer I could keep this pace, keep juggling all the chaos, keep arguing with the insurance company?  I ended up purging my entire long day to some poor, random woman at the third-born’s practice… that was until he came limping off the field injured and in a tears.

I thought my head was going to explode.  That would have been messy – and I really didn’t feel like cleaning that up!


You know you’ve completely lost it when you’re talking to yourself…. AND answering!  But hey – in the end, Me, Myself and I managed to muster up some perspective on the things that were happening and we’ve decided that we can handle it!


Me: “How exactly will we feel about this situation in 10 or even 20 years from now?  Will we still be upset?

Myself: “Of course not!’

I:  “Panty-waist!  Get over it!  (Sheesh – I is harsh!)

Me:  “So in several years, the fact that the third-born runs like Quasimodo, that the second-born refuses to wear his headgear and we may need to glue it to his face, that the fourth-born has used the ENTIRE case of the months worth of chicken broth and then left it out on the counter over night and that the first-born has only a few months left in the house and has no idea what he’ll be doing when he leaves, won’t matter?  Is it really that easy?

Myself:  “Yup!  Think about it – are we still panicking over our two-year-old climbing out the second story window?  Or about how we’re going to pay for the next car payment?  How about the hubby graduating?  Nope – we’re not!  It’s over with, and this will soon be too!”

Me: “You’re right?  Hmm – I like this!”

I: “And yes, we still may own “that house” in 20 years and yes, it *still* may not have a first floor.  But hey – we have two homes, don’t be a cry baby!”  (Wow – I is really mean!)

Me: “Hmm – again right.  But now I don’t seem so stressed about it?”





Oh – you know you do it too!


Yup – I’ve completely lost my mind.  But at least I’m in a good mood and putting things in perspective.  I’ll see you in 10-20 years!






Seams to me…. February 3, 2013

Filed under: Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 12:33 am
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… it’s time to start sewing!



I’m going to use a pair of pajama pants I recently made to show you the basics of putting an item together.  This is a step above a pillow, dog bed or pencil skirt, but still very, very basic.


(This will be a long one. Click on any picture for more detail)


I showed you last time the “notches” you need to cut out to make sure you have matching pieces and have the pieces put together the correct way.  Here you can see them matched up.


Then pin.  Pin every few inches.  The more slippery and difficult the fabric, the more pins you’ll want.  I have mine set here about every 2 1/2 or 3 inches.  I could have gone closer, but the fabric tended to stick to itself.  This will be the inside seam line of the bottoms, down the leg.









Click to see the spacing.




Once you have it pinned, place the fabric under your machine, laying it next to the seam allowance line you want (usually 3/4″) and lower the foot.  Only AFTER you’ve lowered the foot do you want to remove the pin, but do NOT sew over the pin!





See those numbers next to the foot? Those are the lines that help you measure your seam allowance – how much fabric will be on the inside of where you have just sewn. If you’re not sure which line is which, take a ruler and measure with the needle down, from the needle to the allowance line you need. You can mark it with tape if you want to remember the line you need. *Don’t forget, if you change the needle position, it will change the seam allowance measurement lines.



Sew this piece together, slowly going down the leg, removing the pins as you go before you reach them, but getting close.  Don’t push, pull or yank the fabric.  You most likely won’t even need to hold the back of the fabric for this type of project.  Just gently guide it through the front, letting the feed dogs (the jagged little bars under the presser foot) do their job.  (Turn the handle a few times with out fabric and you’ll see them move)

*Do NOT throw your pins randomly to the side, there’s no hurry and you can stop the machine to look where you’re putting them.  Have your pin cushion, magnet or box next to your machine to place them in.

You say “Well duh!  Of course, that’s what I bought this cute little pin cushion for!”  I spend a lot of my teaching time “catching” needles shot off by nervous first timers.  I promise, stopping the machine to place the needles back where they belong will pay off when you *don’t* step on your needles!













PRESS, Press, press!  You will most likely spend more time at your iron, than you will actually sewing – trust me.  It will pay off!

Flat seam, open seam wrong side, open seam right side.









Before pressing.                                                                                          After pressing.




Now pin the inside…. crotch for a lack of a better term.  Tucking one leg into the other, outsides touching each other.  One leg should be inside-out, the other right side-out, tucking the right side-out into the inside-out leg.  Pin together matching notches again.

Also, at this point, the notches showing where the back is may not show up as well (especially if you use a serger).  Make sure to mark it, however you choose to mark it.











PRESS, Press, press, again.  First the seam flat to sink the stitches in.  Then, with the seam open on the wrong side.  Then, with the seam open on the right side.
























Now that it’s all sewn together and looks like a pair of bottoms, we need to hem them.  That is, make the bottom look nice and protect the raw edges.

Measure, using either a slide ruler like I have here, or a ruler, tucking 1/4″ inside and then 3/4″.  Pin about every 1 1/2″ – 2″.  After you’ve pinned, sew it down using the measurements to the side as before OR using the edge of your presser foot to keep your line steady.  Again making sure to remove the pins as you sew and to not push, pull or yank on the fabric.  You’ll distort your hem.  You may need to hold it a bit taught at this point, but there should be very little tension on it.  (Just enough to make the seam straight, not enough to make the pins shift)




The presser foot is only there to hold the fabric for me while I pin.







Sewing very close to the open edge as possible while still catching it.




PRESS, Press, press, again.  Make sure to press the hem down.  Once on the wrong side,  once on the right side.



Now – for the hardest part.  The waist band.

After measuring out how much elastic you need, either by using what the pattern calls for, or by bringing it around yourself and taking about 3 inches off, depending on how tight you like your britches.

I usually like to use 1″ elastic or larger for my waistband, I think this is also what was suggested by the pattern.  This means you need to make your seam at the waist about 1/4″ larger than your elastic.  1″ elastic = 1 1/4″ hem allowance.  1 1/2″ elastic = 1 3/4″ hem allowance.

Start pinning.




Notice the pin at the back seam. This is to make sure I can find the back easily while I’m working with the bottoms and to remind me not to sew up the hole I’m leaving for later.



Sew all the way around, leaving about a 1″ – 2″ opening to put the elastic inside.  Use the same technique as you did with the hem.  Either measuring by the lines on the side or using the edge of your foot.






PRESS, Press, press, again.



To insert the elastic you don’t have to have any fancy tools.  If you have one, use it.  If not – a safety-pin works perfectly.  Make sure it doesn’t easily open though or you’ll drive yourself nuts.  I really like to use diaper pins because they’re made to be stiffer and less likely to pop open.

Make sure to pin the opposite end to the bottoms so you won’t lose the elastic in the waistband as you’re feeding it through – did it twice once.  ONCE!  Now I know better!  Pin it.







Push the safety-pin through the pocket.  Pulling the fabric, pushing the pin, until the pin makes it all the way around and comes back out.  If your pin opens inside, back the elastic up a bit and you should be able to close it again while it’s still inside, being careful not to pin the fabric as well.  If it’s too stubborn, you may have to pull it back out and restart.












You can pick which way you want to sew the elastic together.  It won’t really matter once it’s inside the waistband pocket.


No need to make the joining pretty, it will be inside and you’ll (hopefully) never see it again.  I prefer zig-zag.  Make sure to get both edges of the elastic to make sure it doesn’t unravel and go over it several times to make sure your pants won’t *POP* and fall off later – never good!  Unless that’s what you’re going for?





Tuck the elastic back in and sew it up just like the rest of the seam.


No pressing.



You now have a pair of pajama bottoms.






What ever your beginning project, these steps should cover most of what you’ll be working on.  Points to remember –


  • Make sure to keep your eye on the seam line, keeping it straight.  If you start to go crooked, slowly come back to the correct allowance.  If necessary, go back to where it started to curve and start again.
  • Don’t sew over your pins, or fling them randomly.
  • Go slowly for your first projects.
  • No one started out doing this perfectly and just about anything can be fixed!
  • PRESS, Press, press!  You’ll thank me for it.

Distractions February 1, 2013

Filed under: Boys,Knitting,Sewing — blankenmom @ 9:37 pm
Tags: , , , ,



It appears as though I haven’t been doing much sewing lately.  That my complaining has eclipsed my abilities to function.

I swear – I’ve been busy!  A girl’s got to have some sort of distraction from life you know.


Let’s start with the last Christmas present I made.  I sent it off to my brother a few weeks after Christmas, but hey, it made it didn’t it!

It’s made with Fisherman’s Wool (still has the lanolin) in our family’s pattern.  It’s an Irish thing.







My MIL bought some different yarns for me to work with, in whatever patterns I choose.  I began with some hand-dyed linen she found on discount.  I think she’ll like what I did with it?






When I got my treadle sewing machine, I wanted to practice at it.  You may not know this, but it does take a bit of practice and patience to get the cadence down to go with the beauty.  So I started to make a “thread scarf”.  A scarf you sew on water solvent stabilizer.  Between moves however, I never hooked the belt back up.  On a night when my brain wasn’t functioning enough to work on any patterns, I pulled it back out.  Back and forth I could handle!  This is what I got – I love it in my hair now that it’s less stiff.  I’ll definitely be making another one.






My son had been asking for flannel backed satin p.j.’s (don’t knock him – guys love silky!) and since he got a pair, I thought it was only fair I finally got some too.  However, I got the amount of fabric suggested and as usual, between me conserving fabric in the layout and my… uh … lack of height, I managed to get several items out of the yardage I bought.














It was my turn to have something knitted for myself.  I went through my stocking stash and out came the yummiest, mouth-wateringest, softest yarn EVER!  I’m just in love!






Ok, I need to give a disclaimer before you see this next one…… it’s not pink.  I swear it!  Ok, it’s slightly pink – it’s coral.  The actual color is Coral pink.  But it’s very obnoxious, so I’m good with it!   The color that shows up in the picture however, is NOT the color that it is!!  Evil camera.

These are fingerless gloves I made for when I’m sitting out at soccer games.  Frankly, for when I’m sitting in at soccer games too.  The indoor arena has been COLD lately!





I’m almost embarrassed to post that one.  Those look SO gag me pink.  *bleck*


And lastly, I promise, with all my heart to never, ever, ever post a picture of myself in these!  At least that you’ll be able to tell.  HA!

After several attempts at making a scarf out of this ribbon yarn that I absolutely love (I mean, the color is perfect, the glitter is perfect.  The yarn is perfect!).  It finally dawned on me to stop attempting a scarf – it’s not like I wear them anyway!  I came up with these, extremely awesome shorts!  Bloomers if you will.  Perfect for under costumes that are just a bit too short for decency as a mom and just weird enough to hang on my sewing room wall to freak my boys out!