Tutorial: Turning Regular Jeans Into Maternity Jeans

I don’t know about you, but I hate maternity jeans. With a passion. I went through two entire pregnancies never finding a pair of jeans that actually fit well. Somewhere was always saggy and baggy and just looked awful! I would get so frustrated because I was already as big as a boat, and now I had to look like a sloppy boat!

My husband and I just found out that we are expecting baby number three, and this time I was determined to fix all that I found wrong with maternity pants. Here was my criteria:

1. They needed to fit. I am really petite with narrow hips and I’m really short, smalls never fit me.

2. They needed to have a better belly panel. Commercial maternity jeans have this terrible polyester elastic type panel that is hot and sweaty and itchy. I hate it!

3. The panel could not be dark. The dark blue panel makes it impossible to wear light colored shirts without looking silly because it shows through.

4. They had to last through the pregnancy. Every brand I have ever boughten have worn thin to the point where I could see through them in just one pregnancy! I hate having to buy a whole new wardrobe every pregnancy.

Set with all my guidlines, I searched the web for what to do. I first came upon REALLY nice maternity pants that looked great! They, however, cost $115…yeah right. Somehow in my searches I ran across a few tutorials explaining how to turn regular jeans into maternity pants. I had NO idea that was even possible!!

Finally a solution!! I could find the perfect pair of pants, and make them exactly how I wanted them!!

All right, now to explain the the process. This will be detailed, so bare with me.

The first step is to find a pair of jeans that you love. My goal was to save money, and I also didn’t want to cut up a perfeclty new pair of pants, so off to the thrift store I went. You want to look for a pair of jeans that fit through the hips and thighs without being buttoned. Make sure you love them and can move well in them, the further along you get, the more range of movement you’ll want! I found an awesome pair of Ann Taylor jeans for $8! They were petite so the length already fit, no hemming needed!

Second step is to find fabric for the waist band. This I also did at the thrift store. You’ll want to look for a stretch tank top that is tight around your waist. This part is very important, which I learned making my first pair of pants. I wear an xs shirt size, but all I could find were smalls. I figured it would work fine since my tummy was expanding, IT DIDN’T! Buy a shirt at least one size smaller than you wore pre-pregnancy, two sizes smaller if you want your pants really tight, not what you currently wear. It needs to be tight enough to hold up your pants.

All right, now for the cutting! First, go ahead and cut out the zipper in your jeans, being careful not to knick the fabric. Sew closed the opening. Now lay your jeans flat on a table, and draw a cirved line cutting the front of the jeans about halway down the zipper, angling up towards the waistband.

This was the first pair that I made, and they did not turn well. So to make it actually work, do not cut your jeans this low! Right below the belt loops is perfect.

You will not be cutting the waistband in the back at all, you just need to angle the line up to the top in the front. Now go ahead and cut along your line, making sure to cut the rivets off since sewing machines can’t sew through metal.

This is what your pants should look like now, EXCEPT the waistband in the back should still be intact. Your pants need that stability to stay up! Learn from me and avoid cuttig it off 🙂

Now for the elastic waist. Cut your tank top right underneath the armpits straight across. Now you should be left with a tube.

This is what you should be left with

Turn the tube inside out so the seams are on the outside, then fold in half so the seams are now encased on the inside. The top and bottom hems should be touching, with the seams on the inside.

Your waistband should now look like this. The raw edges of the seams are inside, the top of the band is where it is folded over, and ther bottom is where the two edges meet. I’m probably not explainig it well, but think of the waistband on yoga pants. It should look like that.

Now you need to find the middle of the front and back, and of the two sides of your waistband. It’s easiest to fold it in half and put a pin there. When all your pins are in, they should be evenly spaced around the waistband. Now we need to pin the waistband to the pants.

Turn the waistband upside down, so the raw edges are facing up, and slide it onto the jeans. I’m going to post a picture right after this so it will make sense, but bare with me. The waistband should be on the outside of the jeans, and the raw edges of the waistband should be meeting the raw edge of the jeans. Line up your front pin with the zipper, your back pin with the belt loop in the middle of the back of the jeans, and the side pins with the side seams of the jeans. All you need is these four pins in, and we can start sewing!

This is what your jeans should look like after they are pinned. All the raw edges are pinned together, and the top of the waistband is actually pointed downwards. Your waistband should be much tighter than this one.

Now to sew! With 1/2in seam allowance, sew the waistband to the jeans all the way around. You need to strech the waistband to match up with the jeans. I find it easiest to start sewing just 1/4in or so, right after you back track, and then stop with the needle INSERTED in the fabric through ALL layers. This is key! Then place your right hand at the next pin, your left hand pulling the fabric behind where the needle feeds the fabric through the back of the machine, and strech the fabric out. Sew until you reach your right hand and repeat, all the way around the jeans.

And your done! You just made your very own maternity jeans in less than 20min!

This is what your jeans should look like! No, I don’t actually tuck my shirt into my maternity pants, I just wanted to show you the waistband 🙂

You can fold the waistband down earlier in pregnancy, or towards the end if you don’t like waistbands on your gigantic belly (like me)

And now for how I ACTUALLY wear them 🙂

Seems pretty easy right? And these are SO much more comfortable than anything you can find in the store!

Now I’ll post some close ups so you can see what the band should look like after you’re finished sewing.

The front should be slightly curved to accomodate your growing belly

The waistband should be left intact in the back for more stability. Without it, your pants will fall down.

And the back should look like regular jeans!

 

Feel free to get creative with this! Find fun patterns for the waistband or bright colors. You can use capris, shorts, jeans, skirts…whatever you want! These will also be great right after you have the  baby, because, let’s face it, we still need the elastic!

 

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Sweet Summertime

I don’t know where you live, but it is HOT here in Colorado….and I mean REALLY hot. We had the longest streak of days over 100 degrees last week, and our days continue to be in the high 90s.

Now, cooking with oven is just painful in the summertime. We don’t like to use our AC, both to save money and energy, so our house is usually in the 80s. Add our ancient oven into the mix, and we can quickly bump up the temperature by 5 degrees.

This is my ancient oven. It makes my house REALLY hot, is hardly ever the correct temperature, and uses a ton electricity, which means it costs me a boatload to use

Here’s my problem: I love homemade bread. A lot. I am a terrible bread maker, I find it almost impossible to get my bread to rise. Out the 15 or so loaves I’ve made (yes I’m still a newbie) I think maybe 3 have risen. But even my dense hockey pucks taste delicious. Add a little honey butter and I am in heaven! So what’s a girl to do when it’s too hot to bake yet she’s craving homemade bread?

Make it in a crockpot of course!

Crockpot bread! SO delicious!

All right, here are the directions:

Follow the recipe (posted at the end) to mix the ingredients, and leave the dough covered in an oiled bowl for an hour to rise. Turn the crockpot to warm, then get out your dough, punch it down and shape it into an oiled loaf pan. Inside the crockpot, place some kind of rack on the bottom. This can be a cooking rack if you have one that fits, a canning jar lid, an aluminum foil snake, etc. This part is VERY important so that the air circulates correctly and will bake your bread nice and evenly! Place the loaf pan with your dough in it on top of your rack, place the lid on the crockpot and leave it on warm to rise for an hour. When the hour is up, turn the crockpot to high and bake for an hour and a half. That’s it! You’re simply replacing the oven with the crockpot, everything else in the recipe stays the same!

As you can tell, it didn’t quite rise. But it was delicious! We finished this loaf in a day!

Here is the recipe that I used:http://www.hansenchristiancenter.com/2012/06/11/classic-sandwich-bread/ The only thing I did differently was replaced the white flour with whole wheat flour.

What do you do to beat the summertime heat?

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Ah, a fish!!

Did you know that goldfish crackers were invented in 1962? What in the world did mothers do before then!?! As a mom of a 2 year old and a soon to be one year old, we like our goldfish. Let’s face it, if I was willing to buy that big box more often, we would probably never stop eating them.

In an effort to create a healthier life for my little ones, I have been revamping their snacks lately. Our ancestors didn’t have prepackaged convenience foods, and they did pretty well for themselves. And since my goal is to live a more old fashioned, simple life, I will also start transitioning to life without prepackaged snacks. Not to mention the fact that they are full of chemicals and additives and preservatives that I really don’t want my children eating.

This is Thing One saying “Ah, a bird!” Well, when she sees goldfish she says, “Ah, a fish!” with this exact expression…..what a cutie pie 🙂

So, without further ado, healthy homemade goldfish crackers!

Instead of a fish cookie cutter, which I didn’t feel like buying, I just cut them into little squares with a pizza cutter. It worked great!

1 1/2c shredded cheddar cheese

4 T butter

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/4 c brown rice flour

1/8  t garlic powder

1/8 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until a ball of dough forms. (I used a blender. Can it be done, yes. Is it easy? No. Go with the food processor.) Roll out the dough on a floured surface, and cut however you want. They do sell a mini fish cookie cutter, I’m assuming just for this reason, but I didn’t want to buy one. I just cut squares with a pizza cutter and it worked great. Bake for 12-15 min until slightly brown at the edges.

Thing One helping mommy stir…Thing Two was napping 🙂

If the dough is too soft, wrap it in wax paper and place it in the fridge for 15-30 min. Too long, and it will be hard as a rock, so check it often!

I got the original recipe from here:http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/03/whole-wheat-goldfish-crackers/ and only slightly altered it. I don’t use all purpose flour, so I replaced it with brown rice flour. I’m sure you can do all whole wheat flour if you wanted, or only all purpose flour, it’s up to you! Also, I had just ran out of onion powder, so I subbed garlic and it was great!

I think I might have to call them cheese crackers….they really aren’t fish

These turned out delicious! My daughters love them, I love them, and they are so much cheaper and healthier than the kind you can buy at the store.

 

 

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Okinawa Dressing

My husband was an active duty Marine for 4 ½ years, and he is currently in the Reserves. I love the fact that he serves our country: he protects our way of life, loves what he does, and looks SO handsome in a uniform…how awesome is that?!?!

The Marine Corps sent him to Okinawa, Japan in 2008 and off we went!  The Japanese culture is so different from ours that there was a little culture shock when we first moved there: everything is super tiny, they only have chopsticks in restaurants (that one took me a while to master), you can’t wear shoes inside, and you drive on the opposite side of the road.

One of the beautiful ocean views that surround the island...

Also, they have some of the most delicious restaurants I have ever eaten in.  I’m convinced it was because all of their ingredients are so fresh. With an island 67 miles long and 14 miles wide, you pretty much have access to fresh fish wherever you are. And there are tons of farms scattered in the country side (can an island THAT small have countryside?!?! You better believe it!) They have farmers markets all over the place…fresh ingredients are bountiful in Okinawa.

After living there for 3 ½ years, you start to get attached to some of those restaurants. Coco Curry Ichibana still haunts my dreams, and who doesn’t love Yakiniku’s? But my favorite restaurant was Four Seasons Steakhouse (not to be confused by Four Seasons Resort)….and considering the fact that I have yet to come close to topping it; I would still consider it my favorite restaurant, even though I now live in Colorado. It’s a teppanyaki style restaurant, where there are 4-8 seats surrounding a grill where your personal chef creates dinner in front of you….and boy is it delicious. Salad, pasta, bread, rice, chicken, steak, shrimp, lobster, potatoes, bean sprouts, sushi, cheese sticks, soup….they have it all!

My favorite part of the meal was always the salad. It’s a beautiful mix of shredded cabbage and carrots, topped with corn and tomatoes tossed in some kind of soy/ vinegar dressing. I have no idea what the dressing was, all the people who work there spoke Japanese, so there was no one to ask. Every time we went I would always finish mine quickly, and then trade my soup for my husband’s salad. This stuff was seriously amazing. The dressing was my favorite part, I would literally use my spoon to get ALL of it off the plate, it was so good.

After moving back to the states, I started having withdrawals. I googled Four Seasons, hoping and praying there would be one SOMEWHERE in the United States…and there was! It’s in New York, but nope, it is not a teppanyaki grill. I NEEDED this salad dressing, so off to the grocery store I went. I tried every Asian dressing in the condiments aisle: one was too ginger-y, one too sesame-y, one too vinegar-y…there was nothing that matched.

So, in desperation, I turned to the internet, searching for a recipe that could even come close to that Okinawa goodness. I tried many, but none filled the void that had been created by Four Seasons….so off to the kitchen I went to experiment. After many trials and errors, I am proud to bring you

All the ingredients you need!!

 

Okinawa Dressing

1 T olive oil

1T rice vinegar

2T soy sauce

1t minced garlic

1t onion powder

 

Place in bowl, whisk together, and toss with your favorite salad!

Lunch!! It was SO good my husband wanted it again for dinner!

 

Now I know you’re wondering, “Now Alix, how could it be SO easy and taste THAT delicious??” Ahhhh, I’m glad you ask J Here is my reasoning: all those salad dressings at the store, all the recipes I tried on my own, they all had one thing in common….tons and tons of ingredients. While the commercial dressings were filled with dyes and preservatives, the homemade dressings were full of spices and sauces, things you don’t normally keep in your pantry. They were complicated and convoluted and…..not EASY needless to say. This dressing is simple…understated…refreshing….quick and easy. All things that remind me of when life was easy. So go ahead, make your life easier. Put down that bottle of commercial dressing and make some of your own.

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Remember the good ol’ days?

Remember the good ol’ days when Granny would call in you from playing in the street for a plate of fresh baked cookies? Remember the good ol’ days when Mom made EVERYTHING you used…toothpaste, shampoo, soap…? Remember the good ol’ days when you needed a new dress, Mom would make one for you?

Well the fact is, most of us probably don’t remember the good ol’ days. We probably remember shopping at J.C. Penny’s for our new school clothes every August. We probably remember that nice blue tube of Crest toothpaste always sitting on the bathroom counter, with a back up in the linen closet. We probably remember Oreos and Chips Ahoy arranged on a plate for us when we got home from school….Our lives have become so commercialized, it would be unrecognizable to those who lived in the good ol’ days. We buy everything we need, usually without giving a second thought to what goes into making it, what goes into getting it to the store, what goes into our bodies….Well, I have decided to change that. I am on a crusade to create the good ol’ days for me and my family. No processed food here, no shampoo, no toothpaste, no diapers from the store.

As I delve deeper and deeper into the world of homemade, I’d like to share my journey with you. There have been a lot of experiments, failed recipes, and interesting stories, but there have also been a lot of successes, triumphs, and awesome smelling deoderants (which I’ll cover in another post….stay tuned). Mostly, there’s been a lot of fun….so come join me!!

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