Baby Doll Sleeper Sewing Pattern

Get the pattern on Etsy. Makes three sizes of footed sleepers with hoods. See chart for sizes. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the video tutorial. Get the doll pattern here.

Get the pattern on Etsy and download (Having trouble downloading the pattern?) Assemble the pieces where required using tape.

Cut the pieces from fabric following printed guides.

Sew the Body:

Sew the back pieces together. Set Aside.

Lay out the front pieces. Sew the crotch to the right side where indicated below. If you are using a serger, overlock the edges of both front pieces.

Attach the zipper using a zipper foot. Allow adequate room between the neckline and the zipper top. Trim any excess zipper at the bottom, after securing with stitches to keep in place.

Pin the opposite side to the zipper and unfold to ensure the necklines are even. Sew the zipper into place.

Place the back on the front and sew the seams at the top of the arms. Unfold and press. Sew on the cuffs. Use a strip of knit fabric, folded in half. For micro: 2″; for XS and S: 2.5″ Place the cuff and sleeve into the machine and stretch the knit as the machine is sewing. Instead of a cuff, the sleeve can be hemmed with 1/4″ hem.

Fold the garment to match the side and crotch seams. Sew.

Sew the Hood:

Sew the hood sides to the hood center. TIP: Always sew with the head side on top and the hood center on the bottom. Fold in the hood front 1/2″ and press well. Top stitch into place.

Sew the Booties:

Sew the heels of the feet and attach them to the soles.

Turn the booties right side out.

Place the sleeper on the table with the zipper facing up. With the toe of the bootie facing down, and the opening toward the front, place the bootie in the leg of the sleeper. Center the front of the bootie with the front of the leg and pin.

Put the bootie into the leg hold and center the heel seam with the back center of the leg.

Sew the bootie into the leg of the sleeper. It’s a tight spot, so go slow.

Turn the sleeper right side out and attach the hood. Match the center back of the hood with the center back seam of the sleeper.

Pin the neckline edges to the zipper to secure.

Sew the hood to the sleeper.

The sleeper is done!

Baby Doll with Head Sewing Tutorial

Pattern includes six sizes. Scroll to the bottom for video tutorial. Click here for a pattern that is the body, without a head.

The doll can be filled with weighted materials for a posable effect, but regular stuffing works just fine, too.

Make a weighted doll body with head! For this tutorial, a king sized cotton sheet was used (from the thrift store for $3.99), along with a throw pillow (from the thrift store for $1) to make nine complete dolls. I recommend using 1/3 yard for the smaller sizes, up to 1.25 yards for the largest. I strongly recommend using upcycled materials! This includes the weighted filling.

There are many products on the market for weighted stuffing. Take into consideration how the doll will be used before choosing. My dolls will become dress forms for baby clothes, and will not be subject to hard play or other elements like water. That made rice a good choice for my project. Use discretion.

Print the pattern:

Once the pattern is downloaded (having trouble downloading?), use the chart to determine which pages are to be printed. Only print the pages you need when you need them. Save paper and ink!

Use the chart to target the page numbers for the size to be printed.

Assemble pattern pieces (if needed):

For the larger sizes, attach the pattern pieces at the shaded area using tape. Notches will match.

Cut the pattern pieces out of fabric and get ready to sew.

Arms:

Pin arms together with right sides facing. Sew the perimeter of the arm with 1/4″ seam allowance. Slash the curved seam areas, but not too close! Turn right side out and set aside.

Legs:

Unfold the leg and press flat. Sew the foot top to the ankle portion of the leg (the smaller side). Slash the seam, but not too close!

Fold the leg in half and sew the back seam. Trim the heel area for uniformity.

Open the foot area. Pin the notch on the foot sole to the seam on the heel. Sew the sole to the foot top. Slash the curves around the sole, but not too close!

Fill the limbs:

There are a variety of ways and materials to fill weighted limbs. For this tutorial, I am using rice. My dolls will be used as dress forms and will not be exposed to elements or abuse, so this way a cheap and natural way to fill my dolls. Also available are plastic and glass beads at a higher cost of both money and to the environment. Choose what works best for you. I also used a gravy boat as a pouring receptacle and it worked better than a funnel.

For the arms, begin by filling the hand. Follow the filling with a small wad of cotton batting. I used a throw pillow from the thrift store for a dollar, and it worked very well. The cotton should only be as big as the “wrist joint.” Follow with more filling up to the elbow joint, followed by cotton. Fill the arm again, until almost full, and pad with some cotton. Pin the arms with the seams together and set aside.

For the legs, begin by filling the foot area with the weighted filling. Follow with a small wad of cotton for the “ankle joint.” Fill again will weighted filling to the knee and top with cotton. Fill again with weighted filling to the upper thigh and top with cotton. Pin the leg with the seam centered on the back of the leg.

Sew the Body:

Sew the darts on the bum. Place pieces side by side and fold up the bottom at the dart, matching the edges. Sew with 1/4″ seam allowance.

Sew the belly of the front body piece.

Open the front body piece and pin the shoulders of the back body to the front body shoulders. Sew and slash the curves.

Sew the head:

Rather than pin the curved edges of the head, ease the pieces together in the machine. The notch is located around the area of the nose; be sure to match notches for proper placement.

TIP: Sew head on as follows – begin with the face on the front part of the head (front to back) and sew with the side head on top. Next, begin at the back of the head and sew on with the side head on top from back to front.

Slash the curved seams of the head- not too close!

Attach the head to the body:

Find the middle of the front neck and pin it to the belly seam, right sides facing.

Sew the side seams:

Pin and sew the neckline of the doll. Fold the doll with right sides facing and pin the side seams. Sew from the armpit to the hip. Slash the curved seam at the armpit.

Sew the bum from the bottom to the middle back. This will be the area where there is a tab on the pattern.

Attach the limbs:

Begin with the legs by placing the body on the table with the backside facing up. Place the legs in the body with the toes pointing down, toward the doll’s face. The heels of the doll will be poking through the neck hole.

Pin the crotch seam in the center, then position the legs. Make sure the leg seam is centered in the back of the leg. Pin and sew the legs into the body.

Turn the doll right side out and position the arms. Make sure the thumb is pointing up towards the doll’s face. Put the arm in the hole and pin and sew.

Sew the head dart:

Turn the head inside out again and match the neck seams. Sew the dart from the neck seam, up the back of the head.

Stuff the doll:

Create a couple of weighted pouches: one for the head and one for the bum. Put them into the doll torso and fill in with cotton batting or other filling. Shape the face, belly and bum as you fill. Pin up the hole in the back and hand sew it closed.

Keep scrolling for the video.

Doll Body Picture Tutorial

This cuddle body pattern includes six sizes. Not Jointed. To see the video, scroll to the bottom of the page.

One pattern includes all sizes.
This cuddle body can be weighted for a posable look. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a video about weighting doll limbs.

General Information:

*Get the pattern here.

*For this tutorial, I used natural, unbleached muslin. One yard, 90″ wide made all six of these dolls, with a small swatch left over. I recommend using 1/3 yard for the micro, up to 2/3 yard for the XLarge. I highly recommend using a walking foot.

*Sew all seams on all sizes with 1/4″ seam allowance; including the bottom darts.

*The doll bodies will require some type of stuffing. I bought a throw pillow from the thrift store, ran it through a hot wash and dry, then cut it open and used the stuffing. For all six of these dolls, I utilized 1/3 of the pillow stuffing.

*To make the doll posable, insert weighted pouches wrapped in batting. I recommend one for each jointed area, for example, one for the foot, one for the lower leg, one for the thigh, and so on with the arms.

Use weighted pouches for the jointed areas of the body for a posable doll. These dolls were stuffed only with upcycled poly-fil.

Print the pattern:

This pattern is a PDF and includes all sizes in one file. You can use the chart to determine which size to print and only print those pages. This will save paper, ink and time.

Cut the pieces of the pattern for the size you want to make. Each is marked with the size; there are seven pattern pieces for each doll.

This pattern doesn’t require any special treatment to print and use. Just find the size you want and print only those pages according to the size chart.

The zip tie casing:

Iron the strip in half, the long way. At this point, measure the yarn or zip tie intended to be used and trim the strip width as needed. Be sure to leave 1/4″ seam allowance, plus the width of the tie. Set aside.

Arms:

Place arms, right sides together and pin. Sew carefully around the perimeter with 1/4″ seam allowance. Slash the seam allowance around the curves of the hand.

Turn the arms right side out and stuff. To make the limbs posable, fill with weighted pouches wrapped in batting. I recommend using one for the hand, one for the forearm, and one for the bicep area. Set aside.

Body:

Sew the darts on the bottom, right sides facing. Sew with 1/4″ seam allowance.

Sew the belly with 1/4″ seam allowance, right sides facing.

Unfold and match with the back at the shoulders, right sides facing. Sew the shoulder area with 1/4″ seam allowance. Slash the curves in the neck/shoulder area.

Unfold the neckline and press.

Trim the width of the casing if needed. If it is too wide, it will create puckers around the neck.

Prepare the zip tie casing by folding in one end and pressing, to create a neat entrance for the zip tie. Pin to the neckline.

Attach the zip tie casing to the neckline, raw edges together. Right sides facing. Leave a 1/4″ space between the end of the casing the raw edge of the center back. This will allow the back seam to be sewn without sewing the casing closed.

Leave 1/4″ space between the raw edge of the center back and the casing opening.

Pin the casing to the neckline. Adjust the length and pin as before by folding the fabric and leaving 1/4″ gap at the center back edge. Press the casing flat.

Match the center back seam and sew with 1/4″ seam allowance.

Match the sides and sew from the armpits to the hips. Leave the arm holes open, and the bottom open for limb attachment. slash the underarms curves. Set aside.

Legs:

Press the legs flat. Attach the foot top to the ankle as shown:

Slash the curves at the ankles. Fold the leg in half with right sides facing and sew the back seam of the leg.

Attach the Sole:

Match the heel seam with the notch on the sole. Using 1/4″ seam allowance, ease the foot top and the sole together. Slash the curves of the sole.

Turn the leg right side out and stuff. For posable limbs, use weighted pouches wrapped in batting. I recommend using one for the foot, one for the lower leg and one for the thigh.

Attach the limbs:

Place the body belly side up. Insert the legs, poking the feet through the neck hole, toes pointing up. Pin the center seam at the crotch before adjusting legs.

Pin the legs to the bottom, making sure the leg seam is in the middle, as shown:

Sew the bottom of the doll with 1/4″ seam allowance and turn right side out.

Insert the arms to the armholes. Hold the arm up to the arm hole and make sure the thumb is facing upward.

The seams should be positioned as pictured:

Sew in the arms using 1/4″ seam allowance and turn right side out.

Stuff and attach head with zip tie or string closure.

Baby Cowboy Boots: A Tutorial

Make a pair of cowboy boots for a little one in a few easy steps. Get the pattern here. Scroll to bottom of the page for a video tutorial.

The pattern includes four sizes: XS-Large infant sizes

YeeHaw! These fun boots would make a great gift, or a prop for infant photography. They are simple to make from felt squares, and this pattern includes four sizes!

Approximate sizes of the finished baby boots.

What you will need:

Download and print the pattern. No special programs or directions are required for printing. Once printed, cut out the pieces.

2 squares of felt for each pair you decide to make, unless you decide to mix up the colors, then get more.

Pin the pattern pieces to the felt (or other fabric choice) and cut out.

Print and cut the pattern pieces.

Sew the contrast piece:

Place the contrast piece to the boot side and pin well. Using a zipper foot for visibility, top sew the contrast piece to the boot side. When sewn, trim where necessary front and back. Set Aside.

Add Embellishments:

If you would like to add any extra designs or trims, now is the time to do so. Here are some ideas:

Appliques:

Add a star or a cactus for a fun pop of color. Find black and white clipart online, and print it out for a template.

Boot Straps:

Add strips of felt to create boot straps. Be sure to measure their size and distance from one another for a consistent look.

Top Trim:

Use the pattern as a template to put a trim at the top of the boot for added structure and style.

Custom Stitching:

Use a fancy stitch on your machine to make a nice border on the pieces.

Sew the Toe Dart:

Match the sides of the “V” in the toe and sew them using a narrow seam allowance. I like to use 1/4″ for the toe dart.

Match the sides of the “V” in the toe and sew them together using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Attach the Foot and Side:

Sew the foot top to the boot side with right sides facing. Sew the non-dart side of the foot to the curved middle of the boot side.

Please be advised: the fabric used, and the angle of the cut, will determine how well these pieces fit together when sewn. Trim any non-matching seams before continuing with the next step.

Sew the foot top to the boot side. It is best to ease it through the machine rather than pin the pieces together in advance.

Sew the Boot Back:

Fold the boot in half and sew the back seam 5/8″

Sew on the Soles:

Set out the cut soles and place them left to right. Pin the heel seam of each boot to the center of the heel on the sole. Sew the sole to the boot side.

Turn right side out. Enjoy!

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Just Me is Just Fine.

This Valentine’s Day, I celebrate the love I have for myself, and the courage it takes to be alone.

I love my life as a single lady.

It was 1998 when my very short-lived marriage ended, and I was devastated. Not because my marriage failed, necessarily (because that was a train wreck from the start) but more from the collapse of my own image of what it meant to be married. More so, what it meant to be one half of a couple committed for life. Or, supposed to be anyway. I thought that through partnering, there would always be someone who had my back, someone who would work with me toward shared goals. The reality for me was the socially enforced stereotype, which was miserable.

I had been raised to believe all the stereotypes. Women stayed home and took care of children. Men worked outside the home and controlled the money. Women needed to be associated with a man to have any value. It was an idea pushed on me from a very young age, when a common question became, “Do you have a boyfriend?” By High School, it was expected that I would always be dating someone, and shamed when I wasn’t. When I announced my senior year that I would be going to prom alone, my folks absolutely forbade it. What would people think if they saw me without a date? My childhood is punctuated with lessons of how important it is to be defined as a man’s ball and chain. His old lady.

Because that’s totally flattering.

I was raised by people who speak in bumper sticker and have cliché ideas about what constitutes gender-appropriate behavior. No copyright infringement intended.

So, I got married at the age of 21, and the disappointment grew quickly. All of my marital experiences were like a wall of expectations crumbling around me, crushing my spirit with each falling stone. When I got my paycheck, we would agree to save for a house, and the next day the money would be gone. I’d come home from work at 10pm to a house full of people playing games and eating our groceries. We had to go to his parents house every weekend and spend the night. Everything was a battle, and there were no winners, especially me. It didn’t matter what was said, or what was agreed to, he always did whatever the hell he wanted to do anyway, and I was expected to dutifully go along. I had no control over my own life. There was no working toward shared goals. Most of the time it was as if I didn’t even exist.

I was the only person in the relationship working to keep it together. The only thing keeping me in that relationship was the terror of being alone. I had convinced myself that normal relationships were supposed to be about constant communication failures and struggles between partners. I convinced myself that the stereotype was just a fact of life to be tolerated. I was supposed to just have fun with the fact that I was cleaning up adult pee off the bathroom floor and putting another grown adult’s dirty laundry in the hamper. I had convinced myself that all the frustrations were a price to be paid for coupling. Eventually I made the conclusion for myself that if that’s what relationships are supposed to be about, I’ll pass.

If this is part of being married, no thank you. Just… no.

I spent the better part of three years asking for my needs to be met, listening to empty promises, and feeling like an after thought in the relationship. It was deeply saddening and utterly infuriating. The disappointment was crippling, and I often dreamed of running away in dramatic fashion. The fighting and constant struggle left permanent scars.

So when the fog lifted and I found myself alone for the first time, I realized that being alone wasn’t the worst thing in the world. After all, I had been going through the motions of two people for the past three years, now I could put that energy into myself. I was initially surprised by how much energy I had, now that I wasn’t in a constant state of marital chaos and disrespect. I forced myself to go out alone to restaurants and theaters. I went camping alone and took myself on vacations both near and far. And I had fun! I was able to do the things I couldn’t do while I was languishing in a one-sided relationship. I was ending each day feeling unburdened. I was fulfilling my own needs and it was glorious!

On one of my many solo adventures, I came across this historical site and caught a glimpse of my future. Dinosaur National Monument https://www.nps.gov/dino/learn/historyculture/josiebassettmorris.htm

That’s not to say that I did not occasionally date, because I did. Unfortunately, I saw the same irritating traits in nearly all the men I dated – I could easily identify their relationship issues in the stories they told about their exes. It was a Groundhog’s Day experience of poor communication and attempts at mind games for several years of short-term dating before I grew weary of it. Was there such a thing as a partner who had my back and worked with me toward shared goals? I wasn’t finding it, and from what I heard from my girlfriends in relationships, they hadn’t either. I lost hope. Like a balloon running out of air, I let the dating lifestyle wane, like my youth.

It isn’t deviant to be single. It’s delightful and fulfilling.

I’ve been on my own for 23 years now and my biggest regret in life is once believing that marriage and partnering is about constantly giving, with only receiving an occasional, obligatory gift of flowers or chocolate in return (on a holiday, or after an argument, of course). I regret ever believing that it was my responsibility to take care of a man, much like a mother cares for a child. I regret not putting myself first. I regret ever trusting that a partnership would help me achieve my financial goals. My experience was that relationships that adhered to the traditional stereotypes were simply not enough for me.

Being single has far more positives than negatives for me. I don’t have to clean up after another adult. I don’t have to financially support another adult. I don’t feel like an after thought. I don’t have to convince someone to love me. I don’t have to compromise on anything. I could have saved myself a lot of time and heartache if I had embraced when I was younger, what my heart has always known. I do not need a partner to have a happy relationship. I can always be in a happy relationship with myself.


Cuddle Body Picture Tutorial

This pattern is available for free. PLEASE SEE THE NEWEST VERSION HERE. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the video tutorial.

This cuddle body has attached arms and legs. Not Jointed.

I was in need of a new project, and it was suggested by my cousin that I try making a pattern for a doll body with jointed arms. I did some research and used up a twin size sheet practicing the pattern, but I have not yet mastered the jointed doll. Instead, I have developed this pattern for an infant doll body. The pattern features a wide neck with a casing for a zip tie, and 3D feet that will fit regular booties and shoes. This pattern also contains two options for hands: fingers or mittens.

General Information:

Sew with 1/4″ seam allowance.

Use a short stitch length (between 1.5 and 1.7 works best) and sew slowly, especially around fingers and thumbs.

You will need about 3/4yard of fabric. For this tutorial, I used flannel which can be sourced at fabric stores for around $4/yard and up. Alternatively, a flannel sheet or receiving blanket will also work just fine.

Stuffing – your choice. A bag of polyfil can be purchased at your local stores for around $10. A substitute could be an old throw pillow ($1 thrifted, washed and high-heat dry), or shredded fabric scraps.

To Begin:

Download and print the pattern. Depending on the size pattern, there may be assembly required. Simply tape the pieces together at the shaded area, matching notches. TIP: Trace the pattern pieces onto freezer paper. The shiny side of the paper can be ironed to the fabric, providing for a more accurate cut. Freezer paper patterns can be re-used indefinitely!

To assemble pattern:

Overlap matching pattern pieces at the shaded area. The triangle notches should relatively match up. Tap the pieces together.

Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric and cut. Be sure to cut the notches for the best fit. When all the pieces are cut, prepare to sew by threading the machine with a complimentary color thread. Sew all seams with 1/4″ seam allowance (eyeball it on the fingers) and a short stitch length between 1.5 and 1.7, if possible.

Next, it’s time to sew:

Begin with the legs. Pin two legs together with right sides facing. Sew only the shin area. That will be from the edge to the black dot indicated on the pattern.

Open the shin seam and press with steam. with right sides facing, sew the foot top to the ankle. Match the notch on the foot top to the shin center seam. Slash the curves of the ankle, but not too close! Fold the leg pieces with right sides facing.

Match the ankle seams and pin. Position the leg pieces and pin. Sew the sides of the legs, leaving the top open.

Slash the seams at the curve of the knee, front and back. Don’t snip too close!

Place the soles right side up. There should be a left and a right. Pin the notch of the heel to the heel of the foot and move to machine. Slowly sew the sole to the foot top, ease the fabric as it is stitched. Slash the seams around the edge of the foot. Turn the leg and foot right side out and stuff.

Match the leg seams and pin the thigh in place. Set aside.

Arm Option 1: The Mitten

Pin two arms together, right sides facing and sew around the outside. Sew slowly around the thumb, pivoting as needed. Stop the machine, lift up the presser foot and adjust the angle of the fabric with the needle in place. This will prevent the fabric puckering that can be caused by pulling the fabric under the presser foot. Pulling the fabric will also weaken the integrity, causing it to fray in the thumb area.

Slash the curves of the hand and the elbow, inside and out.

Turn the arm right side out, gently pressing out the thumb area with a blunt object: I recommend using a 5.5m crochet hook handle. Be very gentle, as the tip of the thumb is easily breached with force. If the area is torn, use a hand needle and thread to repair it later.

Match the arm seams and pin. Set aside.

Arm Option 2: The Hand

For the hand, cut around the fingers in a wide mitt. Cut more than you see in this photo… as it turns out, it wasn’t enough. Trace the handprint on the mitt of two pieces, on the wrong side. Make sure you have a left and a right. Pin two arms together, right sides facing and sew around the outside. Leave the top open. Be very careful sewing the fingers. Sew inside the pencil lines, but less than 1/4″ from from the lines. At the tops and bottoms of the fingers, stop the machine and lift the presser foot. Pivot the fabric underneath and continue sewing. Do this every 2-3 stitches to keep the rounded parts even.

Trim the fabric around the fingers, but not too close! If there is too much fabric, the finger will not turn. If there is too little, the fabric will split along the seam. Slash the seams along the curves of the elbow, inside and out. Be careful not to cut the seam!

Carefully turn the arm right side out using a blunt object on the fingers. I recommend using a 5.5m crochet hook handle. Press very gently, as the handle may poke through the fingertip. That’s a bummer, but it can be repaired with a hand needle later, if needed. It’s not ruined!

Match the arm seams and pin. Set aside.

Sew the Body

Sew the belly.

Open the seam and press. Place right side up and pin back to front at shoulders. Sew.

Open the neck hole and create a casing for a zip tie. You may want to adjust the length of the neck for the head you intend to use. I recommend folding down 1/2″ to start and baste. If the length needs adjusting later, it will be easier. to do.

Place a string our length of yarn under the folded casing. This will make it easier to install a zip tie. Just tie the string or yarn around the head of the zip tie and pull it through!

Line up the back pieces. Pin into place and sew. Do not sew the yarn or the casing at the top of the neck. Press the seam open.

Fold the front onto the back with right sides facing. You will notice the front is bigger than the back. It’s supposed to be like this. Line up the pieces on one side, then pin. Flip the piece over and match the other sides. Pin. The front is bigger to accommodate the tummy, but he pieces still fit nicely. Sew from the armpit to the hip, leaving the armholes, and bottom open.

Slash the curves.

Attach Limbs

Place the body with belly up.

Insert the arms into the armholes. Position the arm so the thumb is pointing to the neck, and the hand is raised upward. Make room for it by poking it through the neck hole. Sew the arms into place.

Examine the legs. Make sure the left and right soles are in the correct position. Place the legs into the body with the toes pointing up (the body should be belly up).

Pin the middle seam first, then position the thighs in place. Pin and sew.

Turn right side out.

Attach the head and it’s Playtime!

Get the pattern. See the video tutorial here:

The doll used for this tutorial has the following measurements:

Shoulders to feet 19″
Neck to Crotch 10″
Shoulder Width 6″
Inseam 6.5″
Foot length 3″, width 1 1/2″
Shoulder to Wrist 5″
Waist 14.5″
Wrist 4.25″
Ankle 4.5″
Thigh 7″
Upper Arm 5″
Neck Hole 12″ Casing size adjustable

My No Spend January Journey

It didn’t go as planned, and that’s ok.

After two weeks of being pretty good at the no spend January, week three was a wash. I lost my motivation and splurged beyond my set budget (but not by much) on some tasty foods and wine. It’s funny how it is easier to stay on the budget when everything else in my life is going well. The uncertainties of my job and financial future, along with some family arguments this week, sidelined my efforts. I just wasn’t strong enough under duress.

Unemployment ended for many on December 26 and while the new platform is created, those of us who rely on this income just have to make due. There is no ETA other than “in a few weeks or so.” In the meantime, the jobs claiming to be hiring, aren’t really hiring. It was another week of no callbacks.

In a fog of serious anxiety (sometimes dulled by wine), I paced the ~800 sq feet of my apartment, and mindlessly scrolled social media like a zombie. It’s scary when the simple things of life are out of control. The degree I worked hard to get is both the key to a good-paying job, and a detriment if good-paying jobs aren’t available. The grocery store doesn’t seem to be interested in a middle-aged cashier with a master’s degree. To make myself feel better, I broke down a shelf to throw away. The dismantling of a wobbly wooden piece of furniture was somehow satisfying. Once that was done, I filled a garbage bag with old student projects and various classroom supplies that I no longer needed. It was hard to let them go, but I don’t plan to return to teaching in a public school. The purging distracted my attention and felt like progress in a world where everything else seems to be standing still.

This is one of three projects I saved. There were stacks of old projects I had saved as examples for subsequent classes. I have decided my career as a public school teacher is over, so they no longer serve their purpose. Maybe I’ll teach in another capacity, but never again in a public school for adolescents.

The purging of old things started to snowball by the 21st. I got it in my head that I had to make up for the money that I spent over-budget in the last week. I had failed at the no spend in the third week, so maybe I could make it up to my psyche by offsetting the loss. There were plenty of things around me in the apartment that I didn’t need… perhaps I could sell them and maybe not beat myself up over my perceived failures. I listed an old guitar and some children’s books on marketplace, thinking that with any luck I may just sell them each for $10. I haven’t had a lot of luck selling things in the past, but I was determined to give it a try.

Within an hour they were both sold. It was the inspiration I needed to get out of my funk. I started scouring my apartment for what else could be sold. I came up with a desk, a chair, a mirror and a framed poster. All of these things have been lying around or displayed, but not necessarily used or appreciated. They were covered in a stubborn dust and begging for a useful purpose. I snapped a few pictures and waited for more people to take away my stuff.

Now, selling things on marketplace is a lot like internet dating: there are a lot of inquiries, few of them are quality, and most people just disappear after they express interest. It took a few days, but most of the items sold, and brought in $65. There are a few more things I’d like to list and sell, but I’ll wait a few days. In the search for things to sell, I also removed a few more bags of trash, which made me feel better despite my spending. One area that needed a lot of downsizing was my craft stash. I have a tendency to hold onto things with good intentions.

I drastically reduced the size of my craft stash.

So while the no-spend part of my journey did not go as planned, I did learn a few things along the way! It is difficult to not spend on comfort items during times of duress. The stress and anxiety of unemployment compounded by a pandemic has wrecked havoc on my self-control when it comes to the simple comforts of fatty foods and wine. My journey to save money will not end when the calendar flips into February, but this first month was definitely a learning experience in self-control. I wasn’t surprised to learn that is an area in which I need a lot more practice.

I did really well with my goal in the first two weeks, but the last two weeks were sidelined by overwhelming anxiety and the need for creature comforts.

Budget Snapshot: I have a lot of work to do on limiting my creature comforts. For the month of January, I budgeted up to $200 for groceries, and nothing else. While I did buy a few items from the thrift store for crafting purposes, the total between that and groceries was still under $200. I am ending the month with a small surplus… and a long way to go to achieve my goal.

It can be hard to keep the end goal in sight, but a vision board helps.

Learn to Sew Inexpensively

Sewing can be an expensive hobby, unless you know these tricks.

One of my earliest memories, around age two, is watching my mother sew. As little as I was, I remember being mesmerized by the whirring machine, the crinkling of pattern tissue, and the glinting of strategically placed pins as she guided fabric under the arm of her pale green Kenmore machine. I was always fascinated. She shooed me out of her way and was full of reasons why I couldn’t help. Fabric is expensive. We couldn’t afford for there to be any mistakes.

Very rarely, my mother would tire of my begging to learn, and hand me some scraps of fabric and a needle with thread. She showed me how to thread a needle and make a knot in the end. The rest I learned from watching, or failing, or through sheer imagination. I taught myself by sneaking the packets of pattern pieces from the off-limits sewing area, and secretly studying the diagrams; reading and re-reading the directions with intense interest. I was sewing in my imagination as I read through the steps of putting together my dream dress.