Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Did you see that I won the contest??!! (not the grand prize, but 12 fat quarters -woot woot!!)

I made a few shirts in honor of Rae's Spring Top Sew-along. There are a ton of great submissions! It's so inspiring to see them all.
The first one (aside from the last one) is Simplicity 3835. If you're wanting to try sewing clothes for you, this shirt one is a fantastic one to start on. It's super easy. And is actually a good foundation to experiment with. Instead of inserting elastic into the neckline I shirred it. It pulls a little under my arms, but I think that's because I shirred too many rows (5). I wonder if I just did 3 if it wouldn't pull so tight (but I don't REALLY know). I love the look anyway. For the arms the pattern calls for elastic, but i don't think I'd like to have something that tight around my arms. I found some vintage buttons in my stash and just pulled the sleeve over into a small tuck. Originally I thought it was a little too big around the waist so I shirred a few rows just under my bust line. It was a little too maternity looking, and unless you're prego, not always a very flattering look.

The next one. . . I can't decide. What do you think? I had been wanting this Madras Plaid fabric for a couple of years and saw it on sale at Joanns for only $1.50/yd. I don't know. . . it's a lot of . . . plaid. I won't be offended if you don't like it. I just don't want to be that lady in the store that people are thinking "what the H is she wearing?"
It too is Simplicity 3835. I've made this dress once before and really liked it. This is the "mini dress" version. I count it as a shirt even though it's technically a dress. I would never wear it as a dress as it is too short for me. And I am a big fan of pants with dresses. Skinny jeans maybe? It calls for a zipper. I'm lazy (I think I could write a book called Bend The Rules Sewing. Too bad it's already taken. . .) I sewed up the back until about 4 inches from the top and just put in a hook-and-eye. I'd show you, but the plaid doesn't match up so great. Another reason I'm hesitant to wear it out in public. . . BUT - I love the neck and would definitely make this dress again.

The last one is from a shirt I meant to give away but found in a bag up in the attic with a bunch of other shirts. It was like a goldmine finding all of those shirts. I can't believe I was going to get rid of them. So. . . how can I make them wearable again.

For this shirt I cut up the middle, cut off the bottom edge, arms (edge) and neckband. Took another shirt, cut two strips, layered and gathered. Sewed them on sort of eye-balling-it-like (so if the strips aren't even. . . that's why). And viola. New wearable shirt. My husband thinks it looks homemade, but I asked him if I'd paid $50 for it at Anthro if he'd feel differently about it. He didn't say anything.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

flower power entry

Sew Mama Sew is having a Flower Power contest. You can read about the deets here. This is my entry.I'm low on funds this year and high in plain t-shirts so I thought I'd have a little fun with stuff I already have. Tracy was so sweet and sent me the Alabama Stitch book. Isn't she the best!? It is probably the coolest craft book I've ever read. It inspired me to do a little reverse applique for the leaves (and about a million other things). I used a plain white tee and cut up a cream one that. . . shrank. I also cut the edges of the arm sleeve and the hem. It's curled up in the wash. I really like how it turned out. I hope I win something. There are a lot of colorful and cute submissions. Mine is a little plainish. I like that it's subtle though.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

home ec-y

We had ham for Easter dinner. While cutting the rest of the meat up to save for sandwiches the next day I discovered the bone. Now, this may seem obvious to you, but I decided I should make some kind of soup with it. It seemed very exciting and new. It also reminded me of that book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. At some point in the book the mom is making soup with the bone from a ham and she's used it to cook so many times there is hardly any taste left in it. At least that's what I remember. I could be thinking of something totally different. Anyway, the soup was divine. Tasty. I made the Challa bread from that book Tracy (and just about everyone I know) was talking about. I even braided it and put poppy seeds on it. Soup made from a left over ham bone and home made braided bread -- how's that for domestic! The house smelled so good all day long and when the bread was baking. . . mmmm. . . there was something comforting about it.

Here's the recipe to the soup I made. (Made in a crock pot)

-Ham bone left over from a yummy spiral ham dinner
-2 cups chopped potato
-2 cups chopped carrots
-1 chopped onion
-1/2 cup celery
-1 clove minced garlic
-1 can kidney beans
-1 can stewed (or diced) tomatoes
-4 cups water
-4-6 tsp (cubes) chicken bullion. It was a wee bit salty, but I'm not sure if cutting back here would make the difference.

I put it in the crock pot for 6 1/2 hours on medium heat. The bits of ham that was left on the bone was falling off. Wow! This soup was great!

... after dinner we took the bone to a neighbor's dog. Waste not want not, right!?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tiny Cakes

When I went to visit Liz we met up with my sister-in-law and her family in Los Gatos and went to the best bakery ever. Liz mentioned it right here. Ever since then I have been craving bake goods like no other. When my sister in law came out to visit me the following week we even went on a bakery tour of Salt lake.  Nothing we found has even begun to satisfy the craving I have for Icing on The Cake. So I have taken it upon myself  and against my better judgment I have been baking  all most every other day. Today I tried these beauties and they where wonderful just light and delicate and just what I needed. Thank you little Madeleines you made this dreary rainy day a bit more bearable!    

Friday, April 10, 2009

what's a girl to wear??

Anna's "spring collection" has 3 dresses in it. I made all 3 (over the past couple of weeks) and let her decide which one we would call her "Easter Dress".

I LOVE this fabric. It is Sugar Snap by Free Spirit. It turns out though that I didn't pay very good attention to how much fabric was needed to complete many of my projects so I've had to make a few alterations. I made view D of this Portabello Pixie Dress (instead of the mix of A and D - I was a little skeptical of the shirred waste in D). It turns out though - I love how it turned out and will make it again. As a side note: the pattern calls for a serged rolled hem, but shows you how to extend certain parts of the pattern to just do a normal hem. . . so don't let not having a serger discourage you from getting the pattern.

I had high hopes for this dress. It's ginorm on her. Huge. I cut a size 4, but she probably won't wear it until she is 6. If she will wear it. She told me she hates it. As I have now discovered with Butterick patterns in particular - they are HUGE. The sizing is so. . . huge. In the adult patterns too.

I didn't put in a zipper. I sewed up all the way to the bottom of the yoke and did two covered buttons instead
. Easier.

It's too bad. I had embroidery plans for this one. Maybe in another year or two.
Last, but not least, the Bubble Dress. At first I wasn't crazy about this dress - especially with the wavy sides (omited here), but I saw that it could be made without the wavy sides and loved the little "cap" sleeve. It's really easy to sew, and is fully lined so all of the seams are encased. I had some issues with the back placket/button area/gaping hole, but I think that it is more me not following the directions than it was the actual pattern.

I bought the turquoise vintage buttons from this etsy shop. Great prices and a lot of cute buttons! I got 24 of these buttons for only $4. Seriously. You can't even buy 24 plain white ones from Joanns for that price!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Monkey Bread

My oldest daughter adores cinnamon rolls and like the rest of us her favorite part is the center. A couple of days ago I came along a recipe for monkey bread and thought how perfect this would be for my little Grace because she love monkeys as well. I just used the Challah recipe from the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. I rolled the dough into balls Grace dipped them in butter and Ava sprinkled on the cinnamon and brown sugar.  We left the dough to rise for an hour then put it in the oven. Soon enough our house was filled with the amazing sent of cinnamon and freshly baked bread. After it had cooled we glazed the top with an orange powered sugar glaze. I have to say this was so easy and so perfectly yum. I really enjoyed watching the girls giggle as they sticky fingered pulled the bread apart, and devoured it. I can’t say enough about this book I have used it so much. There most defiantly is a part of me that feels like I am being a good homemaker if I can supply my family with fresh baked things. Maybe thats a little “Leave it to Beaver” But I guess I am a little old fashioned.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

how does your garden grow?

Chances are it's too cold outside for you to start your garden, but luckily living in California has some advantages for me. If you can't plant yet it's always fun to plan. And if you don't have a garden, or think you don't have the space then I have a GREAT book to recommend. It's called: All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Aside from living in a condo with only a patio, you can't possibly have a smaller backyard than I do. I think from house to fence at the widest part is 9 feet. It's more of a side yard really. Anyway, the book is fantastic! It tells you exactly what to do if you want to plant a garden using raise beds. They are so easy to construct (I went to the lumber store and told them what I needed and the sizes and they cut it for me) and I think they make a garden look nice and organized. My plan is too put pea gravel around my bed. My bed is 4' x 12'. It's then divided into square foot sections. Instead of having tons of space that wastefully gets watered and weeded he's told you how to maximize your space. So, in a square foot of space I can have 4 corn plants growing or one bell pepper. Make sense? I also have soaker lines that come on when the other sprinklers do. This may be cheating a bit, but I'm not so great at remembering to water...

Buy the book. He goes through so many things - especially if you live in a cooler climate (I think he's from Utah). He goes over a lot of plants, when to plant them, harvest, what you can do with them, how to extend your seasons, etc. The only thing I wish he added was more on pest control. But other than that, the book is invaluable to me.

If you can't imagine carving out a space in your back yard for a garden, but love a garden tomato, then plant a tomato plant in your flower bed where a sprinkler will water it. I gave my SIL a tomato plant last year and she just stuck it in her flowerbed. It was huge and had tons of tomatoes on it! You can buy fun bamboo stakes to keep the tomato upright and it looks nice in your yard.

Gardening can be as difficult or as easy as you make it.