Thursday, November 17, 2011

Project #32 The A-Line Skirt

Challenge: Pattern drafting/invisible zipper
Project: A-line Skirt Class
I have been trying to take the A-line Skirt class at my local(ish) boutique fabric store, Mama Said Sew, for the last nine months.
It is always sold out with in days of the class registration opening. I finally got my chance last night and it was totally worth the wait.
I meant to bring my camera with me and take pictures of the process, but I forgot. As such, these are all "after" shots. 
No pattern included in this class, just measurements, math and rulers.
We drafted our own patterns from our measurements and we even tested our skirts half way through and made adjustments to make them fit better.
Jenny, our amazing instructor, also taught us how to install an invisible zipper. Zippers fall under the same heading for me as button holes, something I tried to avoid for as long as possible. I used two different kinds of zipper feet. Awesome. I can totally do this again.
I forgot to buy fabric specifically for the project, so I ran home on my lunch hour and raided my stash. I have had this fabric in my stash for 15 years. 
A dear friend of mine, Julia, lived in American Samoa for about a year and she sent me this fabric as a gift. I have held onto it for so long because I could never figure out what t do with it.
I think it makes a pretty good skirt don't you? 

I honestly would have taken a picture of myself in the skirt, but I was pressed for time. I am actually wearing the skirt today and I took it off to take a picture so I could get this post done. Sigh, standing in my dining room without a skirt on taking pictures, what I won't do for my blog. 

I am feeling very confidant that I can make this again and even make some for the many girls in our household, that is if I can get them to slow down enough to get measurements.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Project #31 The Scrap Catcher

Challenge: Create item from a picture
Project: Scrap Catcher
As the handmade Christmas continues, I have been asking for input on the receivers of said handmade gifts. It is especially hard to come-up with something for my cousin, Mimi, who is a sewing diva herself. You can find her blog here. She asked for something she has been wanting for a while, but hasn't gotten around to make for herself: a scrap catcher for her serger. Her machine didn't come with one and she sent me this picture as an idea for what she wanted. 
The one thing she specifically requested was that I use a non-skid material for the bottom of the pad. I found the material at Jo-Ann's, it is the same stuff that is on the bottom of footie pajamas. 
Lily Bear in footie pjs. Great excuse for a cutie picture. 
In trying to "use what we've got" for my Christmas sewing projects, I went through my fabric stash and found a valance I bought in the scratch and dent section of IKEA. I can find really fun fabric items there. 
Here is the finished product:
I think the scrap bag might be a little big, but I am really lazy when it come to emptying these things out while I am sewing. The good thing about giving this to Mimi, who can sew way better than I can, is that she can modify it if she really wants to. I also used Velcro on the bag, so it is removable for easy emptying, and included the corresponding Velcro strip that still needs to be sewn on to the mat, so Mimi can place the bag where it will work best for her. 
One more Christmas present DONE. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Temperamental Model and Project #30 Reversible Cape with Buttonhole

Challenge: Buttonhole (and a cranky model)
Project: Whimsy Couture Reversible Cape
I am pattern testing yet again for Whimsy Couture
This time I tested a reversible cape in Lily Bear's size. I took on the pattern before I realized that "gasp" I was going to have to make a buttonhole.
 I have not made a buttonhole on a sewing machine for about 20 years. Seriously.
I have modified patterns and even simply avoided patterns with buttonhole requirements because I am honestly terrified of them. 
I think the scariest part is that I can spend a lot of time creating a great garment and then at the very end mess it up completely by putting the buttonhole in incorrectly. 
Picture of the reverse side of the cape, since I could barely get a picture of the one side on the model.

I almost modified this pattern to put in a frog closure, but instead I broke out the button hole foot and my sewing machine instruction manual. 
Success. . . sort of. It is not exactly as straight as I would like it to be, but it works. Also, I think velvet was not the easiest choice of fabric to work with, especially for my first time. 
The cape is darling, however I am having some problems with my model. She is becoming a little bit of a diva and is extremely demanding and temperamental, as both models and toddlers are wont to be. 
She is still a keeper though. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oh My: Yo Gabba Gabba Live

I have a dear friend Rebecca who I met through my days in theater, she was our costumer extraordinaire with many shows I worked on. This year she took an exciting opportunity and went on tour with Yo Gabba Gabba Live as their costumer. I had never heard of the show before so I watched an episode on Netflix with Lily Bear just to see what it was. . . my life has never been the same. It is Lily's favorite show. She has even come up with a sign (she is still not using a lot of words) to let us know that she wants to watch it. She gives the sign every time anyone picks up the remote control.
The show came through Colorado last night and Rebecca hooked us up with tickets and VIP passes to the after party. How awesome is that?
It was just me, Lily Bear and Elle Bean. Lily had no idea where we were going and in the beginning really just enjoyed eating the popcorn we bought. 
Taken with my cellphone.
Then the character's came out and you could see her mind trying to process how her TV friends were now on stage in front of her. 
Highlights of the evening:
Catching Elle Bean singing along to the songs.
The Fray coming out as the special guests to teach everyone the "Dancy Dance".
Meeting Brobee.
Lily Bear escaped and ran into someone else's picture to get one more hug!
(Brobee asked Rebecca if she could get copies of the pictures I took.) 

Story Time with DJ Lance Rock
Getting a picture with the actual DJ Lance Rock. 
I was really impressed with the fact that this live show had the actual actors from the television show. I was not expecting that at all. They made it so clear that the kids were extremely important to all of them. 

Funniest part of the evening: The two twenty-something hipsters sitting in front of us without any kids who came to rock out at the show. 
Rebecca told me the show's demographic is pre-schoolers and hipsters. Hilarious. 

Thank you Rebecca for the best night that Lily Bear has had in her 1 1/2 years so far. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Project #29 The Stamped Washer Necklace Tutorial

Challenge: Crafty project with household items
Project: Stamped washer necklace
Hooray for my first non-sewing project this year.
We (and when I say we I really mean I) made a commitment this Christmas to try to make at least 90% of our gifts this year. So far we are on track and I will be sharing our progress through the next two months (kind of cheating as I have to make at least 22 more projects before the end of the year to make my 52 project goal). To make things even more interesting, I am trying to use what I already have to make all of these gifts. 
One of the challenges is that I have to try and make gifts that even teenagers will want. This is my attempt at a homemade teen gift. I have seen a lot of really great hand stamped jewelry around lately and I decided to give it a try. 
It does not require a lot of equipment:
Black Permanent Marker
Rubbing Alcohol
Letter Stamping Kit (I got my 36 piece 1/8" steel letter/number stamping kit from Harbor Freight tools.)

After some struggling with spacing, I decided to mark the washer for each letter.
Position letter on washer and hit with hammer two or three times keeping letter steady. 
ALERT: Most important part of this whole tutorial. Make sure you are doing this on a hard surface, like cement or marble. A table will not work. I tried to use a table and could hardly make an impression on the washer after 20 consecutive strikes with the hammer. 
After the all the letters are on your washer, color over them with a permanent marker (I use Sharpie).
To wipe away the excess, use some rubbing alcohol with a paper towel.
I made one for each of my girls for Christmas. On the front I put their names.
On the back I put a virtue that I wished for them in their lives right now.
A mother's wish for her daughters that they can wear. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

What can you make from a pumpkin Part 2 (Recipes)

Now that all of these:
 Have been made into these:
I thought I would share our favorite pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Bread
I made 4 loaves this weekend, and had nothing left to photograph they were gone so fast.

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin
1/3 cup milk

Optional mix-ins:
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 chocolate chips

Mix together dry ingredients in bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl beat butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients in three parts alternating with milk, beat until well mixed. Fold in your chosen optional mix-ins.
Pour batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 about 1 hour.

Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin Seeds
I told you not to throw these away!
Toasted pumpkin seeds are a favorite in my house, this is a nice variation to the seriously salty ones we usually make.

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (rinsed and dried)
1/3 cup sugar (divided)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbs butter

1. Place seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet, toast in 250 degree oven for 30 min or so stirring occasionally until toasted to a light brown.
2. While seeds are toasting, mix together 3 tbs sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice and set aside.
3. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat add seeds and remaining sugar. Stir with a spoon until the sugar melts and seeds are well coated (around 1 minute).
4. Pour seeds in to a bowl and sprinkle with sugar/spice mixture. Toss until coated.

Pumpkin Smoothie
This is a new recipe that Elle Bean and I came up with.

1 cup frozen puree
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp sugar (brown or white)
6 to 9 ice cubes

Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What can you make from a pumpkin?

Many, many moons ago, I wanted to be thrifty and make pumpkin puree out of our jack-o-lanterns. I read somewhere that you should cut it into 2 inch pieces, peel it and then steam until soft. It turned out to be such a huge mess and the pumpkin puree turned out really runny. Bleech.

I have now found a much easier way to get great pumpkin puree.

I like re-using our jack-o-lanterns, (we carve ours the day before Halloween so they stay fresh) but I also buy a few just to make into breads, pies and other pumpkin goodies.

There are several varieties of pie pumpkins that I like to grow, but I did not get my garden planted this year so I went with some of our pumpkin patch pickings.

I first cut the pumpkins in half and clean them out, make sure you wash the outside of the pumpkin. Don't you dare throw away the seeds!!!

You don't have to be perfect in cleaning out the innards. Just get the big globs out.
Next place both halves cut side down in a baking dish with about a cup of water.

Bake at 350 for about an hour or until the pumpkin is soft. Really soft. Touch the side and it caves in soft.

Let it cool for a little bit until you can handle the pumpkin and either scrape out the flesh or peel off the skin.

You can use the pumpkin as is, but I like to puree it until smooth. It is a matter of texture more than anything else.
I either use it right away or bag it, label it and put it in the freezer for later use. I can get a little more than 4 cups of puree from one small pumpkin.

Lily Bear apparently doesn't like to wait and has to eat her pumpkin right away!