Friday, September 4, 2009

Labor Day Weekend crafting

Since Chris and I aren't heading to West Virginia for some camping, rafting and visiting a friend this weekend, I'm going to take the opportunity to finish up my last summer project -- a skirt.

My grandma gave me a bunch of fabric from her stash lately, and besides the shorts I completed earlier this summer, I had plans to make a skirt.

I'm also in the process of teaching myself how to draft patterns. I'm excited to embark on this adventure and can't wait to see how the ideas in my head translate onto paper.

I'm using Rene Bergh's "How to make your own patterns: An easy step-by-step guide to making over 60 patterns." You can buy a copy here, although I have a different edition.

I haven't picked up a pencil and paper yet, but reading through the instructions gives me hope. I didn't realize how easy patterns can be made, just using various measurements of your body. I figured it would be much more complicated.

Besides basic skirt, shirt and trouser patterns, the book also gives you instructions on how to make different bodice details, such as tucking, darts, gathers and cowl, boat and v-necks.

I'll let you know how my new adventure goes into creating my own creations. The theme for my first designs is wild columbine . . . a beautiful wildflower you can find growing in rocks and crevices here in the mountains and elsewhere.

My favorite is the red columbine with a yellow center. Here's a good photo that shows you the color. It's so striking! I'm surprised such a color combination exists in real life.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garden bounty no more

Chris and I planted two types of tomatoes (12 plants in all), green pepper, cayenne pepper, cabbage, cantaloupe, basil and oregano in our garden this year.

Everything has been taking off and looking wonderful. There were several dozen little green tomatoes and I couldn't wait until they ripened.

But, unfortunately, in one night deer ate every single on of the tomato plants, little tomatoes and green peppers. This was in despite of the fishing line strung with plastic bags that was supposed to scare the hoofed nuisances away from our 8' by 8' garden.

Man, I was looking forward to tomato sandwiches, homemade salsa and pasta sauce!

Luckily, we still have three green pepper plants we placed in pots inside. So we should still get some peppers.

For next year, Chris and I are planning fences that, hopefully, will be deer resistant. It's gonna have to be tall enough so the deer can't jump over it or reach over.

Although we've had some setbacks with the veggie garden, most of our other plants are doing fine, including this gladiola (left) and these purple cone flowers (right), shown here growing among Maximilian sunflowers.

Sweet goodness

Several years ago I had a subscription service to Easy Everyday Cooking, a service that mailed recipe cards to subscribers every few weeks. After a few months I cancelled the service, but I had already built up quite a collection.

Every once in awhile I get in the mood to flip through the various categories, 19 in all, including from "Snacks and Appetizers," "Soups and Stews," "Chicken from the Oven," "Beef from the Stove," "Pasta" and "Cookies for all Occasions."

This weekend the mood striked and I picked "Crumb-Topped Peach Pie" from "Pies, Cakes and Tarts" and "Thumbprint Cookies" from "Cookies for all Occasions."

I made the pie from six juicy peaches my dad bought from a local produce stand. He left them for Chris and I when he and my mom visited last weekend. I liked making this recipe because I didn't need to make or buy pie dough and it was a quick and easy way to use up fresh fruit.

The flavors were perfect. The use of almond extract complemented the peaches. The recipe also calls for brown sugar instead of regular granulated sugar in the crumb topping. It was an interesting and delicious change.

The filling, however, was a little runny. I don't know if I used too many peaches or not enough cornstarch. But, overall, the pie was wonderful, especially with ice cream.

The cookies were by far my favorite. I used real butter and almond extract and vanilla flavoring. Mmmmmmm, I was in dessert heaven!

Although the recipe called for raspberry preserves for the filling, I used a blackberry jelly a local woman gave Chris and I and blackberry jam that my grandmother gave us. Nothing like homemade jellies and jams. Much better than those store bought fruits loaded with sugar!

I can't wait to eat those cookies with a new hot mug of tea.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Crafty vacation week

My husband, Chris, and I couldn't quite agree on what to do for our vacation the week of June 29.

Chris wanted to go camping and give our new tent and supplies, which we received as Christmas gifts last year, a second time out of their bags. And, boy, was it beautiful weather! Perfect for camping. Chris imagined sleeping under the stars somewhere in the North Carolina mountains.

Although I like to camp, I really wanted to spend a week at home relaxing and crafting. With all the commuting I do on a weekly basis, I really longed to stay at home and enjoy the homestead.
Understanding of my feelings, Chris agreed to take a staycation. He worked in the yard, planting new shrubs and flowers while I happily got busy completing projects I've had laying around for weeks.

One of those projects was a pair of shorts I had cut out of a thin blue, yellow and pink plaid material my grandmother had given to me. Double lined with the same print, the project taught me the new skills of pocket making and belt carriers, or loops.

I quickly whipped them up, wanting to wear them for the upcoming July 4th weekend. Unfortunately, the waistband was too short. But, impatient me, I tucked and pulled at the shorts to make them fit, causing a pucker in the front right of the shorts. Pretty unsightly.

I also had trouble with the hems. I couldn't figure out what made the material pucker. With both problems, I couldn't bring myself to wear the shorts as is.

Consulting with Janice Saunders Maresh's "Sewing for Dummies," my trusty sewing Bible, I learned how to expand the waistband to make it fit better and learned to taper the leg seams so that the hems to prevent puckering. I haven't tackled either technique yet but am happy that the shorts aren't a total loss.

Another techinque I've been wanting to learn is knitting socks. The idea of knitting with five double-pointed needles scared me. How in the world would I be able to keep stitches from slipping off of the needles. That seemed like it would be a pretty common problem with a sock project. Using a size 4 set of double-pointed needles and Cindy Guggemos' "I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks," a Christmas gift from my mom, I decided to give it a go.

I was certain I'd be all thumbs, but so far it's been fairly easy. I've got a couple of holes here and there, but that's most likely from dropped or stretched stitches. I hope to soon graduate from the basic sock pattern to the basic chevron pattern, which I think is by far the prettiest pattern in the whole book.

I can't wait to get good enough to knit some socks for my mom and sister for Christmas. I'm thinking the little arrowhead socks in pink for Mom and the crest o' the waves, my second favorite pattern in the book, in a purple, red or black for my sister. Or maybe knitting them up with some verigated yarn would be nice.

So, lots of progress this week. There's nothing like getting some creative time in and catching up on some projects.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cute Hoosier designer

Found this on Etsy's blog today and thought I'd share it.

Here's a young fashion designer from my husband's home state, Indiana.

Crocheted coral reefs

This is an amazing video sent to me by a friend via Facebook. Check it out!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thank you, BurdaStyle!

It's not often I win anything, but today Alden Davis of BurdaStyle emailed me to say I'd won a year subscription to "Sew News" in a recent drawing.

I am so psyched! You have no idea!

I entered the drawing only halfheartedly. I mean, there are so many users on BurdaStyle, so what's the chance my name would be drawn. Plus there are many more users who are more active than I on the site. So, in my opinion, many other people could be considered more deserving. (Yes, this was a random drawing, so activity has no bearing, but still.)

Oh, but I actually won! And I'm so excited.

I can't wait to receive each issue and lovingly flip through the pages, taking in new sewing techniques, ideas and more.

After this, I've just got to make more time for my sewing machine. Damp basement or not.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cool video

Science Channel's "How It's Made" has a cool segment on how to make a dress form.

A dress form is a tool that is shaped like the human body. Seamstresses and tailors use it to construct a garment. This helps eliminate the number of times a client needs to come in for fittings.

I found a link to the video from social network BurdaStyle. Thanks to BurdaStyle member wzrdreams for sharing it on the social network's Facebook page.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another go at baking bread

I've been attempting to make wheat bread for sandwiches, but haven't had much luck. This time I took the bread out of the oven a few minutes sooner and I let it cool longer before slicing. This is what I got:

The bread turned out much better and made a great salami-cheddar sandwich for lunch today.

Once I started slicing the bread, I noticed it was still a little warm in the middle and some slices still crumbled some. Mom told me to think of it like cookies . . . the bread sets more the longer it cools. It just takes much longer than cookies because it's so much thicker.

So next time I'll try to be patient and find something else to occupy my time instead of hovering over the loaves, waiting to slice into them. I'm bad about that with cake, either removing it from the pan or waiting for the cake to totally cool before icing it. Just can't make myself wait that long! I'm ready to eat it then! That's why I love cookies. I eat them as soon as them come out of the oven, it all their mushy, warm goodness. :)

Pictured with the bread is some yummy pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins. My friend, Adria, loves these and we have lunch plans later this week. She's also has a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks so I thought she'd enjoy some of these to celebrate. I won't share her age as she may hurt me. She's already said she's not celebrating with big plans this year. I feel the same way with my birthday coming up in five months.

I also made my first batch of corn bread from scratch yesterday and it turned out really good. I made some honey butter to sweeten 'em up. Next time, I may add honey or more sugar to the recipe to make the bread taste better. I'm a big fan of Jiffy corn muffin mix, which is really sweet and delicious. Hope I can come close to Jiffy's yumminess!

I also made chocolate pudding pie for my hubby. With some Vanilla Wafers, butter and sugar, I made a vanilla crust to went really well with the chocolate. I normally use graham crackes, since that's what Chris' mom uses, but we didn't have any so I had to substitute.

And with another furlough day today, I was able to enjoy a three-day weekend that allowed me time to finish this project:

This is a crocheted shirt pattern from Debbie Stoller's "Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker." As I've said before, this is a great book for novice hookers and a great resource with cool patterns for even more mature hook welders.
I have some sweet tank tops and long sleeved shirts that'll look great with this shirt. The pattern also suggests tying a ribbon along the neckline.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Weekend delights

Since I had a three day weekend, I was delighted to spend a couple days sewing and finishing some projects.

I finally finished hand-hemming this skirt.

I made this skirt during a sewing class I attended with my mom last October.

I also took an old, torn pillow case and turned it into something useful.

Kerchiefs. I was able to make three, although only two are pictured here:

I used a kerchief that is the size I liked as a pattern.

I also figured out how to make button holes with my Singer Zig-Zag machine. They're not perfect, but they are functional. Yay!

I was, finally, able to finish this wrap skirt I started before Christmas. I had to put it down so I could get some Christmas projects out of the way before the man in the red suit slid down the chimney.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Greensboro company makes recycled fabric and other materials

I was excited to learn that Unifi, Greensboro, N.C., will be featured on the T.V. series "How It's Made?"

Unifi makes Repreve, a yarn made from 100% recycled materials. Companies use this yarn to make all kinds of materials. Products include home and office furnishings, apparel, socks and hosiery and sewing thread. Industries that use the product include hospitality, industrial, automotive, military and medical.

On the Repreve site, Unifi also lists some brand names that use the the yarn: Perry Ellis, Kohler Baby, Covington, Patagonia, REI, Turtle Fur and Performance Bike.