Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lady Skater 3 Part Series, Part 1

As I mention in this post, I discovered kitschycoo and her fabulous Lady Skater dress pattern this summer.  This was after I found her Comino Cap pattern and made one shirt but didn't especially like the pattern on me.

I love the top of the Lady Skater but I knew it wasn't long enough to make a t-shirt out of it.  So, I combined with the length of the Comino Cap and love what I came up with.  Go look here.

Since the Lady Skater has 3 sleeve lengths, and my first one was the short sleeve, I decided it was time to try this wild print with the 3 quarter sleeve and my Lady Skater/Comino Cap pattern.

I see the animal prints and the crazy prints that some women are using for these patterns on Instagram and wonder what I can get away with.  As a teacher, I have to think that a kid has to stare at me for 50 minutes, and if the fabric is way too wild or silly, they could possibly lose their minds.

And so could my colleagues if they have to see me in it ALL.DAY.

Something about this fabric spoke to me and made me think I could pull it off in a shirt.  My sister thinks it looks like a pretzel exploded.  I think it looks like leopard print meets carpet meets some Disney ride at Animal Kingdom.

I don't usually go for off the wall prints, but I think this is just enough.  A whole dress would be ridiculous.

 I love the 3 quarter length sleeve, but my favorite part is the neckline.  I love the shape of it and how it magically actually holds its shape.

My one sadness is the hem.  I had a really hard time with the double needle on knits and only just figured out what I must have been doing wrong.  I ended up giving up on the double needle entirely on this and went with the triple stitch.  I don't like it because it restricts the stretch of the hem.

No one else would ever notice but it bothers me.

I guess I must have been trying to show the lack of stretch in this picture.  Or perhaps  I was getting ready to do an old fashioned jig.

Come back tomorrow and see my second installment in this 3 part series using the mashup of the Lady Skater and Comino Cap.

Maybe I will call it the Lady Cap?  Lady Comino?  El Comino?  

Linking up here:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Visit Me On Aunt Mildred's Porch

 If you visit my etsy on a regular basis, you might have noticed that the name changed.

As with the name of my blog, I hadn't thought out the name for my etsy shop and I needed something when I signed up, so I chose sparkling74, which is what I used when I set up my blog.  It's always irritated me that it's so random and I've been wanting to change it for a while.

So, after all this time, my etsy shop is now called On Aunt Mildred's Porch.  Go see but you have to promise to come back and see where the name came from.

Aunt Mildred's porch was where I trained to be an old lady.

Aunt Mildred was my great-great aunt who came to stay in the campground every summer.  She came for all of my mother's childhood and she came until I was in high school.  In my mind, she was always really old because, well she was really old for the whole time I knew her!  She lived to 103 and I was in my 20s when she died, so that means she was in her 80s and 90s for all the time I knew her.

In my earliest memories, she drove a big, old car that was banana yellow.  It had little crank out triangular windows in the front door as well as the regular crank down windows.  I thought those little triangle windows were the coolest.  I remember her driving me somewhere.  Probably to the grocery store because she didn't go too far.

Later, she got a smaller, but still big, car that didn't have cool windows.

And eventually, she didn't have a car at all, so my mother would take her where she needed to go.

Her trailer served as the office during daytime hours during the summer months. We grew up on that porch.  We played, we read, we ate hot dogs and beans every Saturday, we got in trouble and coulnd't leave the porch and pretty much lived our summer time lives from that porch.  If my mother wasn't in the house, it was likely she was on Aunt Mildred's porch.

Conveniently, Aunt Mildred's trailer was right in the middle of the campground so people passed by a million times a day.  The dumpster was right nearby, so every time someone went to the trash, they'd stop and say hi.  Pretty much anything that went on was seen or heard from Aunt Mildred's porch and if we missed it, someone was sure to come right by and tattle on whoever was doing something suspicious.

In those days, there were lots of ladies who were always crafting.  Aunt Mildred was crafty until her
eyes got too bad and my mother was always knitting or crocheting something on that porch.  People stopped by to show the latest crafting fad they were making or to see what my mother was working on. 

So, it was only natural that I should learn how to knit, crochet, cross stitch, latch hook and who knows what else on Aunt Mildred's porch.  I had a small laundry basket where I kept my craft of the moment and I'd stop and work on it for about 3.5 minutes and then hop on my bike to do whatever I did before returning a little while later to sit for about 3.5 minutes and do it all again.

I made a lot of stuff back then!  Mostly cross stitch  but I gave crocheting and knitting a whirl.  My problem with knitting was that I couldn't start a project without someone's help, so I quickly abandoned all hope of knitting.  Plus,  my mother was always making baby booties or little sweaters (who was having all those babies back then?) but I wasn't really interested in that. 

We didn't have the internet back then, so my family was the lucky recipient of all of my crafting.  I had nowhere to sell them and didn't know what else to do with all of those treasures!

Luckily, I have a way to promote my creative skills online and refrain from filling my friends' and relatives' closets with all of my handmade goods.  Go visit On Aunt Mildred's Porch while I'm throwing a sale during this week of turkey eating and black Friday nonsense.

Linking here:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Leftover Meal

I'm sure this is all over the internet this week because Thanksgiving is fast approaching and everyone wants to use up all of their turkey right away.

I'm positive this didn't all come together on my drive home, but my brain would like me to think I'm that creative.  I think I've seen versions of this on the web.

And as usual, I don't have any specific measurements!

Oh, and I made it with chicken but turkey would be marvelous.

As you can see, it was a hit.

I made crockpot chicken yesterday, so today, I took it all apart and used about half on the bottom of my favorite piece of stoneware from the Pampered Chef:  the Deep Covered Baker!

I've never made gravy before, but I thought real gravy was necessary for this, so I used the leftover drippings that were in the crockpot and was pretty happy with it.

This mini whipper is amazing and I'm really glad I just bought it in my last order.  It doesn't fall out of the pan when you rest it to the side. It's  also small enough to use right in a mug if you're making hot chocolate.

And if you're really creative, you can buy a bunch of them and tie them to hot chocolate mix packets and write a cute note that says "we whisk you a merry christmas".

I poured the gravy over the chicken and then layered whipped potatoes on top. I also put in some onions but they didn't cook all the way.  I like that, but you  might not like crunchy onions in this, so you could pre cook them.

On top of the potatoes went my home canned cranberry sauce.  And then a layer of stuffing.

I put it in the over at 375 for about 20 minutes to heat it all through.

When I envisioned this, it was a more solid block, like lasagna on the plate.  That's because I'm pretty sure I've actually seen it plated like that on the internet. 

This meal would be sooooo easy if everything were already made and just leftover, like after a big holiday meal.  I had to make the potatoes, stuffing and gravy.

And you'd probably have some green beans leftover as a side to serve.  I served cooked spinach because I'm all healthy like that.  Gotta have something green to go with it!

If you're sick of the Thanksgiving meal after Thanksgiving, you could layer it all up in a freeze it and surprise yourself mid winter when you remember that you have that stored away!  I get so excited when I have no ideas for supper and then I remember that I put something away for later like that!

Linking up here:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Making Polo Wraps

Polo wraps.  The biggest gimmick in horse tack!

Sorry, did you think you were going to learn about some swanky wraps they serve at polo matches?

At the beginning of the summer, r-ster had me start wrapping polo wraps around the lower part of Jackson's legs.  The green things on the bottom of his legs here.

Do you see a panda on his saddle?  My niece beanster thought that was sooooooo funny to give her panda a ride!  I don't think Jackson is huge but when I see how little beanster looks near him, I realize he is pretty big!

Originally, the wraps were to keep him from kicking himself  as we do a lot of lateral movements, but then it was also to sort of protect them when we jumped.

And over time, I've started to think of them as a little bit supportive, like an ace bandage would be for me, so I used them every time I ride.

I borrowed some from r-ster and I wash them when they get really nasty, but I've noticed one is starting to tear.  They are close to $20 for a set of 4 through most tack stores and that really bugs me because they are just 4 strips of fleece.  They don't have anything sewn except the velcro.

And people usually get carried away and buy lots of sets of them and they just lay around in the tack room getting dirty.

You can get them in any color imaginable and lots of prints too.  But, the fancier the name, the more you pay.

Highway robbery!

So, I decided to make some myself.

The first dilemma is that they are each 108 inches long.  Do you know how long that is?  3 yards!  Do you know how much that costs when buying fleece?  Well over $20.

Hmm, maybe that's why they are so pricey.

But, I knew if I could catch fleece on a good sale, I could probably do it for less than $20, so I've waited and waited.

And the other night, I hit the jackpot.  Fleece was on super sale at Joann, so I bought 3 yards and some velcro.

They are 5 inches wide which means I should be able to get 2 sets out of what I bought, but I didn't think about that, so I only bought enough velcro for one set.
The hardest part was cutting nice, straight lines because it's so thick when it's doubled.  It took a lot of moving around and rearranging but I finally got into a groove and cut them pretty well.

Then it's a simple triangle at the top with the first piece of velcro.

I sewed the velcro and the triangle all at one time and did two rows just to reinforce it.  The one I used for a model only had one row of stitches but I want these to last.

Then, flip it over and put the opposing velcro in the center a little ways down.

Be sure to drop it on the floor of your sewing room so you can pick up every stray piece of thread, material and batting, like I did.

And that's it!


Way overpriced for the amount of work it  is.

My total was about $15.  Still not super cheap but less than the $20 plus shipping I would have paid one of the big tack stores.  Plus, if I get around to buying the velcro for the other set, I will have 2 sets for $15 which is definitely a big bargain!

Now that I've seen the Black Friday flier from Joann, I might drag myself up there on Saturday because there's a 70% off fleece sale which would make these around $10 to make 2 sets.  I like that it's on Saturday and not Friday and I especially like the 70% off deal!

The fleece I bought was actually kind of thin and not really of the quality of the set I've been using.  I'm hoping the 70% off fleece on Saturday will be a thicker fleece that feels more high quality.

Then I'll be the girl with 50 sets of polo wraps getting dirty in the tackroom!

Linking up here:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Learning How To Play Cricut

A few years ago, I found out about the device called Cricut and I've been wetting my pants with excitement to get one ever since.  It's a die cutting machine that lets you make so many things, it would impossible for me to even touch the tip of the Cricut iceberg in just one post.  Google if it you don't know what it is.

The biggest drawback has always been the price.  It's sooooooo not cheap.  And the first models required that you buy cartridges of images that you would plug into the cricut, kind of like the original Nintendo.  You couldn't play without the cartridges.  But the cartridges cost as much as a small island.  Another deterrent.

Fast forward to 2014 and today's model has no need for cartridges thanks to the internet and the cloud.  But it has a slot to put cartridges in case you've upgraded.

And apparently with these newfangled times in which we live, there is no need to include instruction manuals.  There are a few quick tip guides and then you're pretty much on your own.

The price hasn't gone down because the machine has gotten fancier, but now the possibilities are so limitless, your head would spin right off if you started thinking  Paper, leather, plastic, vinyl, fabric- just about anything you can slide into the machine can be cut!

I got the Cricut Explore for school, through a fabulous website called so I didn't acutally have to cough up the million dollars it would otherwise have cost.  I have grand plans for using this in my classroom.

Rather than fight with it at school until I know how it works, I brought it home to try to figure out all of the ins and outs so that when I bring it back to school to use, it will work like a dream.  Plus, when the gremlins my students are hounding me to hurry and print something, it can be kind of nervewracking.

The first thing I discovered is that it really requires a lot of space.

It connects to any computer, but since I have a laptop which should make things easier, that means two things that have to sit on this small, round table.  Add the papers and materials to my already overcrowded kitchen and it was a little wild at one point.

Like so many techy things these days, no CDs are necessary, so I had to go to the website and download the software.

I guess a software update was created in the 3.5 minutes it took to download the first set because I was immediately told to update.

So I did.  But it didn't like what I did.  There was a lot of waiting.  And a lot of these faces.  And more downloading until it was eventually satisfied enough.

I'd been putting off actually opening the box and getting started because I imagined it would take a lot of time to get going with it and I don't have a space where it can sit out all the time right now.

Just as I suspected the first evening was rough.

Eventually, I got into the software and started playing with things.  And then I realized, I had so many things I wanted to do, I didn't even know where to begin.

They give this packet of introductory materials to cut, but they don't give any suggestions about what to do.

This was good and bad because it let me make decisions and be creative, but it also left me wondering what the heck to do!

I somehow decided making snowflakes was a good first project.  Snowflakes have nothing to do with my classroom, but nothing French was coming to mind in those first hours.

I was really impressed at the quality of the cuts.  I quickly discovered that my card stock isn't really heavy duty, so when I started transforming these into gift tags, they curled and weren't as awesome as I wanted.

They are fine but not as firm as I'd like.  The package came with a silver marker and after googling and watching a video about what to do with it, I finally figured out how to make it write, as you can see with the black one.

Oh good, now I can go buy markers to do even more things.  I'm a tad overwhelmed with all of the possibilities...

I'm not sure why, but this package came with A LOT of vinyl.

It didn't come with the handy tools like the super slim spatula that would help get the cut material off the sticky mat, but I have vinyl up the wazoo.

How surprised was I when I went through the effort of cutting some vinyl snowflakes and discovered this isn't window cling vinyl, it's sticky vinyl to make stickers.

So, these snowflakes are now stuck to the slider and might need to be scraped off at a later date.  I had grand plans of them just peeling off to use again next year.  They make window cling vinyl which I actually think will stick to my walls at school and I would be able to reuse it, so that's next on the investigation list.

I also quickly learned that the material you are cutting really needs to start in the upper left corner at all times.

Otherwise, it just cuts into the mat and your item isn't complete on the material.

This is one of the things I'm shocked about.  There was no kind of guide that said "don't do this, don't EVER do this, it won't do this if you do this..." etc.  I've literally just winged the entire thing.   Being a child of the technology generation, this hasn't been too difficult but trying to imagine someone over the age of 40 just  winging it and making it work is really surprising to me.

That goes for the images too.  There's a lot you can do with making backgrounds disappear and deciding what to include in the cutting, but I only figured it out because my hours spent playing with the Microsoft office suite and knowing how to manipulate things in word, powerpoint and publisher.

I always go back to trying to imagine my grandmother trying to understand a contraption like this.  My family is rolling on the floor gasping as they imagine that because she never could understand the VCR, let alone a Cricut that's actually attached to the computer.   A computer!  It is easy to use but not as innate as some pieces of technology are in this century.

One thing I didn't quite figure out last night is the new thing you can do with your own images.  You can upload something of your own, manipulate it just as you want and then teach it how to cut out right around your image.  My issue was my image, not the machine.

But, the calibration process is pretty cool.  It prints this to your regular printer.

Then you put it on the sticky mat and put it in the Cricut and it starts cutting on lines and you tell the computer which lines it cut well on so it knows how to cut future images that you put in.

Forget my grandmother, I'm not sure I can comprehend the scope of what this can do!

I picked a less than awesome picture of the Eiffel Tower and by the time I was done editing, it didn't look good at all, so I didn't save it and will work on it another day.

K-ster is pretty fascinated with the idea of the Cricut but he wasn't home when I started playing.  He's only seen the aftermath of my first attempts.  I know if he sits down, he will be equally hooked and we'll have piles and piles of strange things that we've cut and glued.

My initial plan was to make stencils so I could paint the names of French speaking countries on the mats that we use in every class.

Then I thought I'd customize some great materials that would be ideal for my specific classroom.

Then I thought when we have our silent auction fundraiser, I could make some cool cards and things to auction off for our PTO.

Then I thought I might just plaster my entire classroom with amazing vinyl stickers.

Pandora's box is wide open so watch out!

One thing I love is how neatly it packs away in its own bag.

*all comments and opinions about the Cricut are my own and I am not affiliated in anyway with the Provo craft company or any of its subsidiaries.  I am madly in love with the Cricut and would be happy to demo anything that Provo would like to send my way.*

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Green Tomato Pie Adventure

When we had a near freeze about 2 weeks ago, I decided to go out and pick all of the tomatoes.  Those that were starting to turn red came to the window sill and we ate about 30 of them as they ripened. 

Those that were completely green went into the freezer for my future plans of green tomato pies.

I'd never had green tomato pie, so I thought this would be interesting.  It's made just like apple pie, but with green tomatoes and it's supposed to taste like apple pie.

So, I cut up a bunch of tomatoes and put them in the pie crusts.
 I was so excited about it, I imagined we'd love it and it would become the new Thanksgiving pie.  Since I always have some green tomatoes that never ripen, I'd freeze them and make green tomato pies all the time. 

In fact, it made more sense to me as I was making it that this should be a Thanksgiving pie since it's a very timely harvest.

It smelled and look great.  I didn't tell k-ster what kind it was.  The tomatoes came out a little darker than green apples (I always leave apple skins on when I make pies), so he was alerted right away that something was different.

And then we each took a bite. 

We won't be doing that again.  The rest of the green tomatoes went right into the compost and the pie went right into the trash.  It was like eating something sort of rotten.  The tomatoes didn't taste like tomatoes, but they didn't taste like apples either.

They were really yucky.

It wasn't pleasant.

I followed the recipe to the letter.

No more green tomato anything for us!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Winter Means Ponyhats

The temperature went from 60 degrees on Wednesday to 30 something last night, with no hopes of seeing 60 degrees outside for a while.

This means it might be late fall and looking like winter.

We've had a great fall.  Very mild and surprisingly warm.

And we had a really nice summer.  Very little humidity and not many days with temps that were over 80.  We didn't even put the AC in the window and there were less than a week's worth of nights that we regretted that decision.

I fear that two mild seasons in a row means we are due for a winter from hell.  Everyone's proclaiming how cold it will be but I wasn't believing them until I saw the forecast for next week.

Lots of 30 something degree days.

That can only means it's time for these.


There's a stretchy hole at the top for your ponytail to come out so:
a) it's not so itchy under there (I'm not the only one that finds winter hats to be sooooo itchy, am I?) b) it looks like you're ready to have fun with that perky ponytail bopping around
c) it makes you look a little more feminine (I'm not the only female that looks like a 12 year old boy when I put on a winter hat, am I?)

I've been making and selling them in my etsy store for years, and this year, I've embellished them a little.
 Instead of just a plain hat, I've made some with some fun noodles coming out the top so it's a little more feminine (I'm not the only one that looks like a 12 year old boy... did I say that already?  I have a serious complex about it, can you tell?)

And then I got all sassy and made one with two colors to make it even more fun!

The darker colors that don't have the noodles can easily be worn by men because the ponytail hole isn't that big.  Anyone could wear it without a ponytail.

I have a lot of different colors on my etsy right now with some plain and some with the fun noodles poking out.  I can also make them in a color and yarn of your choice.  Go check them out and tell me what you think!

Linking up  here: 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

How I Hit the Jackpot

I walked into the teacher's room at school one day and happened upon two stacks of fabric that said free.  I couldn't believe my eyes and walked out with this.

 I sent a picture to my sister and the first thing she said was "are you sure it was free?" which  made me totally stop and check.

Who gives away fabric like this?

Yes it really said to take it.  And I didn't like all of it so I left about half of what was there.

What caught my eye first was this.
I immediately thought I should use it to make a new bag for my clothespins.  But now I feel like I would be wasting it when there has to be something amazing! 

I can't figure out what to do with any of this material.  It's mostly home dec fabric or that weight so it's not really wearable fabric. 

And someone must have used them in pairs for something because they seem to go together in pairs complementing each other.

So, your job, internet, is to tell me what I need to make with these.  Give me some ideas!!

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Keeping the Factory Hem When Shortening Jeans- A Tutorial

I've spent my life hemming pants and while I'm pretty happy with the way I do a blind hem, I don't like that look on jeans.  I want the hem to have the yellow thread that jeans have when they are hemmed at the factory.  Otherwise, it looks like you hemmed them and that's cheesy.

I've tried buying thread that looks like the special jeans hemming thread, but nothing works.  Everything's too thin and doesn't quite look right.

Somewhere on the web, I read someone's tutorial for hemming jeans while keeping the factory hem and I'm really happy with how it works, so I will share my version here.

Since I already had a pair of jeans that I had hemmed to the right length, I just took the new jeans and matched them in the exact places (these are the same exact jeans, so it worked) and got to work.  If they were a different style or brand, or if I hadn't made a pair to the right length, I would have tried them on, pinned them, tried them on, pinned them, tried them on, pinned them about 40 times.

You might have to do that too.

Then I like to cut them right where the factory hem is going to go, where I put the red arrow.
I always just do one leg and then try it on to make sure it's right before I cut the other one.

You're left with this.
You'd think I bought LONG jeans but they are just regular!  Cut the extra fabric to just a half inch above the factory hem.

Now, if you cut one leg and hem it and then do the other, you will be less likely to mess up the next part.  I don't know if you can see it in the above picture, but there is a direction to the fold of that outside stitching on the leg.  If you cut both legs at the same time, you might mix them up and put them going the wrong way.

Also, these particular jeans have one style of topstitching on the outside of the leg and a different one on the inside.  If you're trying to keep this looking original, make sure you get the right one in the right place.  Not that I'd know anything about putting the wrong part on the wrong side...

Next, put the right sides of the cuff and the jeans together so you can sew on the hem.  It's really important that you line up the seams on the legs and the cuff so that it remains looking factory made.    I always pin the entire thing.  These jeans are stretchy, so they work well for matching everything up.

Usually, I have this at my machine to help me sew, but for this project, you actually want to take it away, unless you have a machine that's recessed into the table.  It will still work, but I like to put the leg opening right over that part of the machine to keep everything from shifting.

For this hem, you don't have to worry about getting an exact color.  Something in the ball park is fine because unless the cuff gets really stretching, you wouldn't see it. I wouldn't recommend white, but any dark color works.

I put that line of my presser foot right on the edge of the original hem so that the needle falls just to the right of the hem as I sew.  Since this is not really denim, because no jeans made of actual denim exist anymore, I didn't use a special jeans foot.  Even this big seam here isn't too hard to go over because it's a thin, stretchy denim.  If you were doing "real" jeans made of thicker denim, you might want to hand roll it through or use a jeans foot if you have one.

When you're done, flip it around and tug on it to make sure everything is as you want it.  If you look very closely, you can see the line where the jeans meet the cuff but if anyone is every that close to your hem, you've got bigger problems than I can help you with.

Since I'm a professional tailor in my mind, I like to run the work through the serger so it doesn't unravel and looks nicer.  You could do a zigzag on your machine if you don't have a serger.  It's a bonus that I happened to have dark thread in the serger because I've been known to use any color for this part.

One pair of jeans that I hemmed this way insisted on flipping up, so I've devised a way to sort of prevent that.

Once you've serged or zigzagged, flip it up so that it's inside your pantleg.  Where my thumbnail is, I sew about an inch back and forth a couple of time to secure it.  I "stitch in the ditch" which means my needle goes right into the factory made seam on the pantleg and that helps to secure the flap so it doesn't peek out.  I do it on both sides.

One word of caution.  Since you are only securing that flap on each side, that leaves a lovely amount of fold to get your toes stuck in if you are trying to throw on a pair of jeans really quickly and you might take a tumble.  Not  that I'd know anything about that firsthand....

I haven't done this on any other kind of pants but if you wanted to do it on something like a pair of chinos, I would say you should only do it on darker colors.  I think it might be more obvious on a pair of khakis.

I did this same technique recently when I hemmed the sleeves on a jacket for someone and it came out fine.  The original cuff is still there and I attached it just like this and loved how it came out.

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