Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Butterick B5019 - Girl's Apron Dress

Forgive me for these not so charming photos. It's late and there is zero natural light, so these will have to do. I just finished up this cute little apron dress for Sara Lynn - she's sleeping now, otherwise I'd have her model it for you.

These are fabrics I got on sale at Hobby Lobby (can you believe it?!) I'm absolutely loving the turquoise, pink, and green. Let me start by saying this was a very easy to sew pattern. What wasn't so easy was making my own bias tape for the first time. It took as long to make the tape as it did to sew the dress! But I think the results were worth it. I used this tutorial from Martha Stewart and a Dritz brand 1 in. bias tape maker.

I've shied away from patterns with bias tape in the past because I don't love the solid colored bias tapes that are commercially available. But when I stumbled across the tutorial above, I knew I must take the plunge. Really, it's as easy to finish seams as it is to create and use your own bias tape (in my humble opinion.) But every now and then, it's nice to try something different.

About the actual pattern... I feel I must disclose that it looks ENORMOUS for a size 2 (which is what I sewed.) I know that Butterick patterns run a bit on the large side, but I wonder if my sweetie will have to wait until next year to get any use out of this one. I'll let you know how her first "fitting" goes.

****Here's how the dress fits my little one... I think the length is okay...

But the neck hole is WAY too big for her right now. She's tall and thin. Usually a 2T fits her perfectly, but next time I will definitely cut the neck hole MUCH smaller. Hope this helps you!

Monday, May 26, 2008

ABC's about Me

I was tagged by Varenia to do the ABCs about me. Here are the rules. Tag the ABCs about you. Each player then tags 3 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

A- Attached or single: Attached

B- Best Friend: I know this is corny, but my husband really is my BEST friend!

C-Cake or Pie: Cake. But pie is good, too. I pretty much love all things sweet. Especially CHOCOLATE!

D-Day: Saturdays when we get to take the boat out. I love to be out on the water with my babies. They love it, too. Except the little one really doesn't like the boat motor when it's above idle speed! (We're hoping she'll get over it soon - this is her first "boating season")

E- Essential Item: A pacifier - for the little one, of coarse! Our pediatrician said that it's time to begin "weening" her off of it, but we all dread the process. She's quite attached to it, and quite fussy without it.

F- Favorite Color: Lately? Any shade of blue, especially turquoise. And pink, too. And brown... Oh, it's too hard to pick just one, isn't it?

G-Gummi Bears or Worms: Neither. However, I do like gummy peaches. Although I haven't had one in forever.

H-Home town: Montgomery, Alabama (Yes, I live in my hometown! We've lived other places before, but we love it here.)

I- Indulgences: COFFEE. Starbucks is my favorite, but I brew my own Dunkin' Donuts coffee at home. It's really good, too.

J- January or July?: July. Although, it was a little hard to choose. My son's birthday is in July, and my daughter's birthday is in January. Both months are pretty high on my list. July won out because we can do the boating thing.

K-Kids: Daniel - almost 7 years old, and Sara Lynn - 16 months old

L-Life is incomplete without: my family

M- Marriage Date: May 31st, 1997 (11 years this Saturday!!!)

N- Number of Siblings: one, a younger brother

O- Oranges or Apples: apples

P- Phobias or Fears: Bugs and snakes and rodents of any kind. My husband actually had to kill a snake in the backyard this afternoon. I've had goosebumps ever since!

Q- Quote: The Bible- "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

R- Reason To Smile: sunny days relaxing on my patio, laughing babies, digging in the dirt, cooking (but not the cleaning it up part), my husband coming home from work, a finished sewing project.

S- Season: Spring and Fall (but I REALLY do love them all! It's such a blessing to have the changing of the seasons. I can't imagine how boring it would be to have the climate remain a constant temperature!)

T- Tag Three: Aima, Lera, and Ann!

U- Unknown fact about me: I'm a sloppy seamstress... I just trim my threads and throw them down. I'll vacuum them up, eventually!

V- Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals: Just had grilled chicken and Italian sausage for dinner. Yummy! Love the veggies, too - ate roasted asparagus and new potatoes as well. I guess you could call me a foodie.

W- Worst Habit: Probably the whole messy seamstress thing. Nobody really knows this about me. I'm a total neat freak! I just hate to slow down while I'm in the rhythm of sewing. Needless to say, the door to my studio is usually closed!

Y-Your favorite food: Anything fresh. Asparagus, squash, mushrooms, pineapple, blueberries, baby spinach. I could go on and on.

Z: Zodiac Sign: Libra.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pink Oleander

My oleander is in full bloom - I wish you were here to see it! All I can smell is Spring when I walk out my door in the mornings. This is my favorite time of year. But then again, I say that every Autumn, too.

God sure new what He was doing when he made the seasons change. I think it keeps us in awe of His creation. How boring it would be if it were always hot or cold, or even in between! I just adore the first few buds of Spring, or the changing of the leaves in Fall. It never gets old, does it?

And on a sewing note, I just got a new ruffler foot that I'll be trying out on my Kenmore 19233 today. I'll let you know how it goes.

Fresh Produce

My dear sweet neighbor invited me to enjoy some of her garden's bounty. During Sara Lynn's nap yesterday, I was able to get my hands dirty picking these beauties: onions, radishes, yellow squash, and zucchini.

I've been contemplating planting a garden of my own this year. I finally talked my husband into helping me get the ground ready. I'm hoping we can get started this weekend - woohoo!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Britches and Bloomers: Cropped

As promised, I made some more of Jackie Clark's Britches and Bloomers. I'm loving this simple little pattern. This time I took a few inches off the length and made cropped pants for Sara Lynn.

I had the HARDEST time getting pictures of that girl today. She's lightening fast. Most pictures turned out blurry like the one above.

I realized I had to be resourceful if I was going to get good shots. All it took was a little ice cream.

Yummy! She just had to hold the spoon herself.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rolled Hem Presser Foot Review

I've had this rolled hem foot (aka hemmer foot) for a while now. Unfortunately, I have yet to master the art of the rolled hem. Try as I might, I can never seem to produce consistant hems with this foot. I end up with fabric peeking through, or either I don't roll enough fabric through and the hem comes loose.

I really want to be able to use this foot. It is MUCH faster than doing a narrow hem (so I'm told.) I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've spent a total of 90 minutes fidgeting with the fabric and the foot trying to figure out where I'm going wrong... and I still can't produce a consistant hem.

See what I mean? Sometimes it's beautiful, and sometimes it's not. I found a great tutorial here that explains how to use this foot. I hope you have better luck with it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Souper Supper

Not a day has gone by that I haven't had The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper in my hands since it arrived on my doorstep. This is the best cookbook I've ever read - and I have lots of them. It reads like a good book. Full of facts, tips, and stories, this book begs you to keep reading it. I sat down for 2 hours the first night I had it and made a grocery list a mile long.

Every recipe in this book makes my mouth water, and they're completely doable recipes. I mean normal, non-chef human beings can make these meals. Lynne and Sally put a modern twist on old recipes from around the world when creating this cookbook. I gotta say, it's a keeper! They encourage fresh, organic ingredients when possible, and use flavor boosters (they call it umami) that really bring out the flavors in these dishes.

Umm, Mmm... We're having Soup of Fresh Greens and Alphabets for dinner tonight. (I used tiny shells because I didn't have alphabet pasta, and I used baby spinach instead of escarole.) It's absolutely divine.

Whose kid is that?

Today was Sara Lynn's last day of preschool before the summer break begins. I was blessed to be able to spend the day with her and her little friends. But I gotta say, she acted so silly with me there! It's fun to see them and their reactions when their routine is a little off.

She must have pulled that stinkin' pony tail down 1000 times! At one point, I was so tired of putting it back in that I let her walk around looking like Cousin It (remember him from that old show The Adam's Family?) And if you'll notice, there's no diaper cover on her. She dirtied it as we were walking out the door this morning. It's always something, isn't it?

And as if she weren't already being silly enough, she claimed the blocks bucket and wore it as a helmet for the remainder of the morning. She had to have worn it for at least an hour. It was so funny! She walked, and talked (gibberish, of coarse), and played with the bucket over her head.

She even put blocks in it and then tried to wear it that way. I just love little ones... especially that silly little girl right there.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Old Alabama Town

I recently had the opportunity to join my son and his class on a fieldtrip to Old Alabama Town located in dowtown Montgomery, Alabama. This is the neatest place - it's like taking a step back in time. Old Alabama Town is actually a few blocks worth of fully restored homes and businesses from the 19th and 20th centuries.

There was a real blacksmith who showed us how his craft would have been practiced over 100 years ago. Everything was authentic: his tools, clothing, and shop were exactly as they would have been back in the late 1800's.

Our tour guide was particularly knowledgeable. He took us through the process of getting cotton from the fields and into the gin. He showed us how corn and wheat were milled, and we were able to see how wool was spun into yarn by a little old lady using a spindle. Very interesting stuff.

I've never seen a flower this color before. There's no telling how old it is... it was behind one of those big historic homes. I believe it is a camelia. It was so bright, it appeared to be glow-in-the-dark flourescent orange.

I think these boys experienced information overload. As soon as the tour ended, we hit the playground which is right behind the camera. I hate I didn't snap any pictures of the playground because it's really awesome. It's one of the best playgrounds in Montgomery, and I never knew it was there. We'll definitely be going back. If you're in the area, this place is definitely worth checking out.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Book Fair

I may be falling in love with my postman... just look at what he brought me today! I've been wanting these books for some time now, so I splurged and bought myself a little Mother's Day gift:

In Stitches by Amy Butler

Bend-the-Rules: Sewing by Amy Karol

The Splendid Table's: How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

I got these for 40% off at Books-A-Million online, and they shipped for free, too. All you have to do is purchase one of those $15 "millionaire's club" cards and you get an extra percentage off eveything you purchase. They even email you coupons for free shipping, coffee, and other discounts useable both online and in-store. I wasn't aware how much more expensive books are in the actual brick-and-mortar stores until I went in last week with my son. I had already priced these online, and I wondered how much they'd cost in the store (I didn't want to wait a week on shipping if I could help it.) Most of these books would have been full price. And because I'm a bargain hunter, I know that these books couldn't be purchase any cheaper on amazon or ebay (*at the time I purchased them.) I'll let you know what I think of these as I finish them. Do you own any of these titles? And if so, what did you think? I just love a good book review.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sweet Completion

I'm excited about the way this top turned out. Once I finally got a chance to sit at my machine, it went together easily and sewed up in a snap. In my vision, the top had a pretty ruffled bottom edge, but I was so stinkin' ready to finish at least one project this week, that I jumped the gun and put a straight hem at the bottom. I made the straps a little wider than the ones on the original top because they slipped off Sara Lynn's little shoulders too easily. I'm hoping this helps.

I did take the time to do the topstitching. It makes such a difference in the garment's appearance, and it makes it easier to launder. It only takes a minute or two, really. It takes longer to thread the bobbin and change the needle than it does to sew. I've learned to keep various colors of thread on hand (I use thick embroidery thread in a coordinating color for my topstitching) so it doesn't slow me down.

I'm wishing now that I'd added the pretty little ruffle to the bottom that I existed in my head. Oh, well. There's always next time, right? Now all I have to do is whip up some bloomers in that stripey coordinating fabric. I better get to it...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bed and Breakfast Muffins

These are my favorite muffins. They're really simple to make and they're good for you, too. Healthy and tasty, you can't go wrong with these! The best part about this recipe is that you can make the batter in advance and store it in your fridge for up to 6 weeks. No joke.

6 c. Raisin Bran cereal
2 3/4 c. sugar (or Splenda)
5 c. flour (see notes)
2 T. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
2 T. cinnamon
1 T. nutmeg
4 eggs, beaten (or 8 egg whites)
1 qt buttermilk (reg. or nonfat)
1 c. canola oil (vegetable oil works, too)
1/2 c. nuts (optional)

In a LARGE airtight container, mix dry ingredients including spices. Add eggs, milk, oil, and nuts. Mix well. Store in refrigerator at least overnight before first use, and then up to 6 weeks. Bake in well greased muffin pan (foil liners work, but not the paper ones!) filled 2/3 full, at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Notes: You can use any type of flour you desire. I like to use a combination of 2 1/2 c. white, 2 c. whole wheat, 1/2 wheat germ. My friend Billie Scroggins, who shared this recipe with me, likes to put 1 tsp. strawberry jam in the center: spoonful of batter, then spoonful of jam, then spoonful of batter into tins. I haven't tried it this way because I love the muffins as they are.

I really wish you were here to share a muffin and a cup of coffee with me...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sewing Inspiration

This top is the inspiration for a pattern I'm drafting this week. I didn't make this particular one, but it's one of my favorites. And it looks really simple to sew. So, I'm giving it my best shot and making a few modifications in the process. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Unfortunately, I've had MANY interruptions lately. All I've accomplished is the cutting, which is the part I love the least. On the bright side, I've gotten pieces cut for 2 tops, and I'll be able to get straight to sewing tomorrow. Have you ever had one of those weeks where nothing seems to be coming together? I'm hoping the rest of my week will be more productive.

Terrific T-ball

Getting ready...

Running like the wind...

He scores!!!

Victory speech... BLISS.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Happy Place

When I first started sewing, no one told me how important it was to have the "right" tools for the job. I was using my MIL's really old and really cheap brother sewing machine. It was such a pain to use - I would have random tension issues in the middle of every project and there was no variable speed - it was wide open every time I touched the foot pedal! Needless to say, I didn't sew much with it.

It wasn't until my aunt gave me her old Singer 6038 that I really began to fall in love with sewing. This wasn't a dream machine by any means (under $200 brand new and I never could sew a buttonhole with it), but it could sew beautiful seams. And more importantly, it would allow me to slow my speed as I sewed around curves. A love for sewing was born.

As I began to sew more, I realized there were a few things I really needed if I wanted to sew often:

1. A rotary cutter, mat, acrylic quilter's square and ruler - indispensable for quick and easy cutting of fabric. Get the largest mat you can afford, you'll use it. And get a good pair of scissors while your at it.

2. A great iron - I'm not talking about a $20 Walmart iron. You need a professional iron that will smooth through wrinkles like butter. There's nothing worse than spending 10 minutes pressing fabric only to realize those wrinkles aren't budging. I use a Rowenta D90 Professional Steam Iron, and I often wonder how I ever lived without it. It has cut my ironing time in half (happiness!).

3. The best sewing machine you can afford - this is where you really want to put the bulk of your sewing budget. If you don't love your machine, you won't love to sew. You can get a nice sewing machine for under $500. A small investment considering how long you'll be sewing with it. I've been extremely pleased with my Kenmore 19233 (which is actually made by Janome.) Do some research on Pattern Review, eBay and other sites with sewing machine reviews before you buy.

Let me introduce you to my happy place...

I could go on and on talking about sewing notions that make life easier. But this is a good place to start. These things have drastically improved my sewing experience.