Strumming Along

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I’ve long been a musician and a crafter, but I haven’t been able to combine these skills for quite some time! This lovely Cordoba ukulele was my Christmas gift from my husband – I’ve played guitar for years and I’ve recently discovered the wonderful ways ukuleles can be used in the elementary music classroom – the instrument is small for small hands, nylon strings don’t hurt nearly as badly as steel, a soprano uke is pitched at the same level as their treble voices, and ukuleles perfect for the classroom run around $50! I’m pursuing some grants to secure some for my classroom, but in the meantime, I felt that getting one in my hands would be a great way to get comfortable before the kids get theirs.

We traveled to my mother-in-law’s in Wichita for the holidays, and when we weren’t playing Resident Evil 4 with Evan’s cousin I often had my ukulele in my hand. I even tossed it in the car when we went to his dad and stepmom’s house! All that travel made me start to worry, though – I ought to get a case to keep it safe from nicks and dings!

A quick check at a local guitar store (the day after Christmas, naturally) and they proved to be fresh out of cases. Then I had the idea – why not sew my own?

Now, let’s pause for a moment – I’m sure anybody who reads this who has a sewing machine collecting dust just rolled their eyes at the seemingly-tedious and difficult idea. Not so, my friend! I found a fantastic pattern from Pinterest that did not let my amateur skills down!

My sewing skills are as follows:

  1. Pin fabric
  2. Turn on and use iron
  3. Turn on and thread sewing machine, including bobbin
  4. Back-stitch
  5. Change the stitch setting from straight to zig-zag
  6. Rip out stitches
  7. Not being obsessed with perfect seams and lines

As you can see from my skills, I need some pretty simple patterns that set me up for success. Ashley at Mommy by day, Crafter by night made this beautiful pattern tutorial that has you create your own pattern by tracing your ukulele onto a piece of paper and adding inches here and there to fit everything snugly.

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Yes, you spotted my sewing companion: Lady Grantham from Downton Abbey!

This pattern took me 3 or 4 days while putting in approximately 4 or 5 hours total (allowing for errors, of course).

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I spent around $20 at JoAnn’s on fabric and the zipper!

I did make some changes and errors:

  1. The tutorial calls for duck cloth to strengthen the case – I skipped this to make it easier to sew (thinner material with fusible fleece and cotton fabric only) and because I didn’t mind a softer case.
  2. I ironed my fusible fleece to my pattern pieces instead of quilting them – my machine is simpler and doesn’t have the quilting ability, but I don’t mind!
  3. I skipped the steps about the piping – keeping it simple for some of my first projects.
  4. I also messed up and did not leave enough long fabric for the sides of my ukulele case – I had to adjust and sew some scraps together and use extra fabric scraps I had lying around (the original plan was to make it all birds on the front and all mint-green patterned on the inside with the coral for the case handle)
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Halfway done…

The seams aren’t perfect and my edges were rough, but I am so proud of the result – and my husband is, too! I wish you the best of luck on this project – I hope you will enjoy it as much as I!

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My finished project!
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Click here to visit Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night and her lovely ukulele tutorial!

Welcome!

Welcome! This, I suppose, is now my online journal for all the world to see – I’ve started this a few days after New Years and hopefully all the world will get to see my adventures through teaching and gardening, and not just for the end of the January. (Ha!)

Welcome! This is now my online journal for all the world to see – I’ve started this a few days after New Years and hopefully all the world will get to see my adventures through teaching and gardening, and not just for the end of the January. (Ha!)

My name is Megan, and my husband, Evan, and I were married on a stunningly-beautiful day in April of 2016. Even though this was our first Christmas married, six years has brought us together so closely and made us the best of friends! This year, we embark on the adventure of buying our homestead – in 2017, I turn 25, continue my third year of teaching elementary music, and begin the trying and thrilling process of establishing our homestead! We begin the house-shopping process this spring, looking for our own slice of (likely DIY and fixer-upper) heaven.

This blog has two purposes – to journal and connect others to my life as an elementary music teacher, and to document our work and branch out as homesteaders. Now, a music teacher seems simple enough (though I think we’ll soon see that there are so many avenues and opportunities to explore through blogging!), but what does “homesteading” for us entail? In short – providing for ourselves. 

  • The biggest thing: growing our own food!
  • Canning, preserving, and storage of our food
  • Reusing & recycling items
  • Crafting & creating our own goods (I sewed a ukulele case this weekend, and I am very much a novice sewer!)
  • Eating sustainably and humanely (we are quasi-vegetarian for ethical reasons)
  • Providing our own energy (very much a homestead goal & future investment)
  • Sourcing food & goods locally whenever possible (you can find us at our local co-op every weekend!)

Now, I know that the immediate picture that most of you have of my husband and I fit quite the stereotype of a “hippie” or “farmer” – coveralls and ponytails, a sheepdog, Foxfire books, messy sheds, very little hot water, and no internet. Well, we don’t fit into a category easily – I often pair Payless flats with my professional attire & pearls to work and carry a vegan designer bag, but I just as easily cuddle up in my organic socks and Pinterest with a glass of organic wine while watching Downton Abbey. Evan loves to show off his collection of sport coats, ties, and boots while at work and is always more comfortable in a shirt and tie than he is in pajamas! (That being said, I picked up his belated Christmas present from the post office today – natural, handmade, sheepskin slippers!) We love baking our own bread, hand-grinding our own coffee, mixology, sewing simple projects, turning the compost bin, up-cycling furniture, watching documentaries or BBC comedies, or simply cuddling our fur babies (don’t worry, there will be plenty of posts on them to come). I think you’ll find that neither Evan nor I, nor even this blog, will fit the stereotype – and I hope that means even more people can come to know and learn from our home and my teachings.

Read, smile, enjoy, and (hopefully) learn from us – and don’t forget to sing to your plants! (Even if it is for your enjoyment rather than theirs…)

Happy New Years,

Megan