A shirt to DIY for…

Those of you who are new to our blog may not know about our 365 day repurposing challenge. Let us quickly get you up to speed. In 2010 we challenged ourselves to repurpose one item everyday and blog about it. It was a big undertaking…but we did it!
Repurposing isn’t just a thing of our past but is woven into the DNA of citymade. We adapted a new mindset in 2010 about “using what we have” and “making it work”.

One of the items we had a lot of fun re-purposing was a t-shirt.

Today we have two new projects made from repurposed t-shirts.

T-shirt scarves

And braided t-shirt headbands

These t-shirt projects require very little sewing which is nice because Jersey is not our favorite material to sew with. However, one of the nice qualities of jersey is that it does not fray.

These projects may make their debut appearance at our next craft fair November 10th and 11th (more info to come).

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When life gives you dragon spikes…make a tail

One of the phenomenons that happen at citymade is what we call a, “doomed project”.  This simply means that a project appears to be doomed from the beginning.  We seem to be powerless in these situations and the fabric usually wins when it decides it doesn’t want to be made into a _____ (fill in the blank).   In our last post we talked about how fun it is when a project comes together easily, well, this is one that did not turn out as planned.

Let me walk you through it,

Caroline will be celebrating her very first Halloween and I imagined her as a cute little flower…looking something like this

I know, so cute right?  And relatively simple sewing?

Not so much.

It all started with a simple pair of fleece pants.  Carol and I have made pants many times and are really quite good at it.  After several tries we were left with this

We weren’t sure what it was either but it looked more like a hat than a pair of pants.

It was off to the fabric store for more green fleece.  Not that we were too disappointed to have a good excuse to go to the fabric store.

With the new fleece I, very proudly, made a pair of pants successfully on the first try.  Bingo. Next came the jacket, another project that is not new to us.

I wish we would have taken pictures of this process because, at one point, Carol had the one arm of the jacket sewn on and sticking straight up out of the neck.  Like I said before…doomed project.  But wait, it gets worse.

I went to work on the petals carefully cutting out each one.  We decided to stuff the petals so that they would stay stiff and not flop over.  When I finished sewing them onto the hood we both just looked at each other and started laughing…hysterically.  My petals turned out enormous and stuck up so far that they looked like giant spikes.  “They look like dragon spikes,” I shrieked.

Carol, being very optimistic, said, “I have enough green fleece for a tail.”  And having two boys Carol is an expert in tail making.  I think that the tail was the only thing that wanted to actually be made because she whipped out this beautiful (can you call a tail beautiful?) elaborate tail in just a few minutes.  It really is the best part of the costume. I was very impressed.

Last, we moved the petals spikes to the middle of the hood, toned them down a little, and we had a dragon costume fit for a Caroline.



She really does look cute in her dragon costume and, somehow, I think it fits her better than the flower.

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Three Princesses and a Dragon

Halloween is less than a week away, normally this means that Carol and I are scrambling to fulfill the requests of our children’s costume ideas. This year, somehow, we are ahead of the game and are already enjoying the costumes.
We aren’t sure what has gotten into us, but we have let our girls succombe to the intense marketing of the Disney Princesses. This year we have a Jasmine, a Belle, and a Rapunzel.

Each costume varied in its degree of difficulty.

The Tangled dress was a Christmas present for Lauren last year so, thankfully,  it didn’t need much work. I did adjust the sleeves so that it fit better and added an extra ruffle to make it special for Halloween.

For Anna’s Belle dress, I started with a little yellow dress-up dress we had. I changed the sleeves, added some length, made tucks in the skirt and finished it off with some extra ruffles and pink roses.

Ava’s Jasmine costume was made from scratch (it is nearly impossible to find a modest Jamine costume). I just had a vision in my head and was able to make it work with the fabric; this doesn’t always happen so it is really fun when it does. (And Carol was oh-so-appreciatve that Melany did all the work. Best friends are awesome)

This week the three princesses went on a carriage ride so that they could enjoy their costumes a little more. It was a super fun time full of great conversations about princesses and horses and dragons.

Speaking of dragons, here is a little preview of Caroline’s costume…

It really deserves it own post so you will have to wait to see the rest.

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Swagger Wagon

If we haven’t said it a million times before, we love to sew! Not only do we love sewing as an activity, we love all of the nouns that surround the activity.

The beautiful and interesting textiles

the bold and vibrant thread colors

the buttons, zippers, and snaps that we incorporate

…we love it all.

However, when it comes to sewing for ourselves, we could do much better. Lately we have been busy with orders and building up our merchandise for the Farmer’s Market and craft shows. If we aren’t selling our products we are giving them away as gifts.

Today I decided to sew something for myself my kids.

The Spiehs family recently started driving a minivan. I know… we grew up. Here is the new hot ride

We actually really love our new van. The extra space is amazing and we even have room for some Burk kids now. Yeah for car pooling! The only hurdle, so far, is that the girls are not at arms reach anymore. When one child needs something in the back seat…too bad. Well, not anymore. Today I decided to take the design of the citymade wall tote and make three little van totes for the girls. They even have a little pocket in the front with their initial.

We loaded up Anna and Lauren’s tote with books, snacks, Chapstick, sunglasses, and a notebook with pen. Caroline’s tote was a little different, of course, with some toys, a board book, a pacifier, and some baby snacks.


The girls were super excited about their little van totes and mom is super excited to drive down the road a little less interrupted.

Even dad is getting into the whole mini-van thing now


He calls it his “swagger wagon”

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Our Latest Venture

This fall citymade is Charting new territories: the Craft Fair World. We usually shy away from the “C” word but we have recently decided to embrace this “crafting” world and try our hand at a craft fair booth.
To tell the truth, we are actually pretty excited about it. It should be a refreshing change to set up a booth indoors sans tent and not worry about wind or rain. We are also looking forward to seeing all of the other “crafters” and their handiwork. This Saturday marks our first fair. We would love for you to stop by and say hi. What a great opportunity to get a jump start on your holiday shopping!

When: Saturday, October 22 9 am to 4 pm.

Where: Lewis and Clark Middle School
6901 Burt St.

* There is a $1.00 entry fee per person.

Here are some city made products you can see at our booth:

Sandwich wrap/snack bag sets, fro the environmentally conscious person (and really, who isn’t?).

Fabric baskets (great for filling with someone’s favorite soaps and lotions).

For the coffee lover, coffee sleeves.

And of course, for the fan of Nebraska, the state.

See you on Saturday!

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A few weeks ago, half of citymade started a full-time job. Carol is now working as a kindergarten para at Liberty Elementary. This is our children’s elementary school, so it is really a “best case scenario” job for Carol. She is so good with children and the school is super lucky to have her.
What does this mean for citymade? It means that we are learning to be more creative in making time for sewing. It means that we are learning to be more intentional bloggers. It means that we are committed to citymade more than ever.

The beautiful thing about friendship is that when one is weak, the other is strong. Carol was amazing at keeping up with citymade the last 7 months while I was taking care of a newborn. Now it is my turn to pick up some slack during this season of citymade.
I miss my friend more than I can even describe but have peace knowing that she has a good job where she is happy and treated well.

As for me, I am tackling projects every opportunity I can.  I try to work during nap and quiet time or after the kids are asleep.  I almost always have a project in my head ready to jump out when it gets the chance.  The chevron purse that was in our latest post was a “burning the midnight oil” project the other night when I couldn’t sleep

and… of course, I am always dreaming our citymade dream of running a sewing lounge and teaching others to sew, with my best friend.

*photo drawn by Erin Human.  Check out her custom cards here.



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A Lesson in Chevron

Chevron seems to be everywhere right now.  Target’s Missoni Chevron line may be partially to blame for this Chevron Craze.  The funky zig-zag patterns and bright colors were erased from the shelves within an hour or two in most stores.

Now you see why?

For Carol and I, seeing this pattern brought back memories of the afghans that our grandmothers used to knit.


Chevron simply means “inverted v”.  There are actually some pretty sweet chevron patterns that occur naturally.  Check it out…

During our last trip to the fabric store we found some chevron for just $1.00/yard!  We love those kind of deals.  This is what we did with our chevron

An apron

A purse (That Carol is currently “product testing”)

A wristlet

A Nebraska coin purse




and a coffee sleeve

If you like some of our latest creations we are going to be at several craft shows this fall. Watch for upcoming information.

This will be an excellent opportunity to get started on your Christmas shopping while supporting local artists.


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What's with Nebraska?

There is no doubt about it…Omaha, Nebraska is a great place to live. We have four distinct seasons, plentiful agriculture, and a small town feel with the convenience of a city.
People we know are getting tattoos of the state (we won’t name any names …okay it’s Jeff Spiehs and Dan Cummings). Even Lady Ga Ga is singing about Nebraska

Here are some things that originated right here in Nebraska

And of course

Citymade loves Nebraska (mostly because it is our home and a little bit because it is such a nice simple outline*) and we are showing it by adding to our repitiour of Nebraska products.
Here are some of our new salutes to a great state

and our old faithfuls…



If you love the good life here is your chance to show it and sport something from our Nebraska line.
Be proud fellow Nebraskans, be proud.


*For those of you who sew, could you imagine sewing on an applique of a state like Louisiana?




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citymade is now pinning on pinterest

We recently discovered the awesomeness of online bulletin boards.  Carol and I thrive on organization which made pinterest so appealing to us.   Pinterest is a new website that allows the user to create bulletin boards, pin pictures from websites to these boards and organize them into visual categories.

If you are on pinterest, you can follow us to see: upcoming projects we will be trying, sewing inspiration, fabric we love and much more.

Follow us on pinterest or click on the link below to view our pins

City made pinterest

We hope to see you on pinterest!


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Textile Discount Outlet = YES!

Well, it was bound to happen. Christian and I had to come home. Luckily we were home just in time for Melany’s birthday!

One of the things I wanted to accomplish on our trip (besides relaxing and enjoying family ) was to pay a visit to the Textile Discount Outlet in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. This place was great. There were rooms and rooms of fabrics, many of them were silky and shiny.

My favorite were the raw silks.

I also loved all the zippers in all colors and sizes and laid out for me to admire.

Tons and tons of buttons. A little overwhelming.

The staff was friendly and helpful and I just loved being around all the fabric and notions. I suspect Christian even found it interesting, but he would probably never admit it.

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