Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fashionably With The Times

I've seen a lot of decorative bed runners online lately.  They are basically table runners that people are laying across the foot of their beds for extra decor.

Since decor and making the bed isn't really my thing I have no interest in owning one of these bed runners.

But, just when I think my sewing career might be over, my friend who ordered me to make cushions and a dog bed this winter asked me if I could make "one of those throw things at the foot of the bed" for her slightly bland bedroom.  She just bought a khaki spread and had some red, blue and yellow pillows, but she needed something else, she said.

She bought the fabric in the colors she so desired and I got to work.

Since she comes from this strange land called "That Will Do", a place where another friend of mine named j-ster often resides and a where I can't imagine even walking, let alone living, she just wanted me to sew a top and bottom piece together and call it a day.  I suggested it should be quilted or the fabric would just shift and bunch and be obnoxious after it was washed.  I knew she'd like it better and I could sleep at night knowing she wasn't going to get a balled up piece of fabric every time she washed it.

I also suggested a contrasting binding.  She wanted piping but I quickly put a stop to that because I couldn't imagine piping around each of the corners.

It took two attempts because the fabric on the back shifted the first time and I didn't realize just how bad it was until I had finished all of the quilting.  Luckily they were big stitches and it's not a very big project.

I thought red quilting on one side and blue on the other would be good in case she was feeling super decorative one day and not so decorative another day.

And, as always, I did my wavy quilting stitch because it's all I can handle with my lack of patience and regular, not long arm, sewing machine.

It was a simple project because she didn't care big it was as long as it fit across the bed.  I had her get 3 yards of the blue which was just a couple of inches too long and I folded it in half lengthwise and that was about 24 inches.   The binding was about 1 yard and I just cut it for 1 inch binding.

I'm still not interested in one of my own for my bed, but she was thrilled and showed everyone that walked into the office.  Most reactions were just raised eyebrows.  Either because they thought she was advertising for the Boston Red Sox or because they aren't fashionistas and had no idea what a bed runner is.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Devil With the Red Dress On

Do you know this song?  I happen to think it's great because I love red and my prom dress was red.  Not because I think I am the devil.  Or wish to be.

Glad we got that clear.

In all of my haste to make knit tops and dresses lately, as the warmer weather has rolled in, I've been thinking of flowing clothing that might keep me cool through June 30th.  Why June 30th?  Because that's the last day of school.

I know.  I accept your condolences.

And I'm not supposed to complain because on every one of those 6 snow days we had, I savored every second of my freedom and swore up and down I would not complain when this happened.

Instead of complaining out loud (but there's plenty of muttering going on in my head), I found what I thought would be a great pattern for a tank dress or top.  The pattern offers both options.

I was tickled when I found this remnant for less than $3 in a color I love and a fabric I am pretty sure I will enjoy to the max.

I like how loose it is, but I futzed with it a little and might have made the top tighter than I want it to be.

The bottom of the back hangs lower, like a shirt tail and I haven't really decided if I like that look or not.  It has a really nice curve but I think it looks a little odd from the side.

I call this "where's my hoola hoop??"

The fabric is very soft and flowy, probably something rayon like.  Almost slippery but not so much that I couldn't keep track of it through my machine.

It was so windy the day k-ster took pictures, it's hard to see any of the lines flowing properly.  In one picture I love it, in another I feel like I look large.

The only part of this dress that I don't like is that the back goes up so high.  I need to find a pattern where the back scoops down a little, especially if I want to make a top.  You can't see it because my hair is in the way, but it almost goes up to my neck.

In these pictures, I hadn't hemmed it yet, so the white at the bottom is just the serged edge.  And as I write this, I have not hemmed it, so I haven't worn it for real yet.

I call this "I think I'm stepping in something gross!"

Due to the use of my ipad for photography and the light at the time of day when these were taken, you can't see that there are small white clusters, almost like flowers on the fabric.  It's really lovely.

And for $3, I'd like to wear it until I wear a hole right in it and then wear it to mow the grass and do work.  Because why should work clothes always be dirty jeans?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Little Gold and Cream Number

Now that my serger is back from the serger nursery for the SECOND time, I got right to work on a knit top I'd been planning for a few months.

Using the Lady Skater pattern from kitschycoo, I made one of my favorite dresses back in the winter.  Click to find that.  Too short on time?  Basically, I took the top of the Lady Skater and used the skirt as a guide but extended the lines  much longer and took out the sewn waist.

I love the look of no waistline, so I took that same revised pattern but shortened it to tunic length for this fabric.

I debated the dots vs. the stripes, but with the dots side out, you could almost see the lines and I felt like it looked dirty, not very clear.

I also thought about doing dots for the sleeves or for the bands, but I didn't end up liking the contrast so I went with stripes the whole way.

Because it was the perfect tunic length that I wanted, I just did a serged lettuce edge for the hem.

And then I realized I don't know what color leggings to wear.  The black seems like too much of a contrast but I don't dare try my white pair.  I think that would look almost obscene.

Sadly, the light at 6pm took away all of the stripes but I assure you, this is the same material.

The wind was ridiculous, so I thought I'd share the stick it to my butt look as well as the blowing away look.

This face is probably from when I realized it looks like that stick in the background is going right through my skull.

Or maybe it's when I realized that posing for pictures after sweating at the barn isn't the best way to get a modeling job.

But most likely, it was the face I made when I realized this top looks like I stole a child's dress and called it a top and decided to wear it.  I might have to rethink the whole tunic look....

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What A Little Rain Does For Plants

Until today, we hadn't had rain for about a month and in the spring, that's a really big deal.  Usually, we have pretty wet springs and everything is wet and damp and the grass is going crazy and I can't keep up with the mowing.  But not this spring.

I've been watering with the hose since we don't have water restrictions, but I really like a good rain every so often.  Rainwater just does something to plants that the hose cannot do, no matter how much water you give.

When it was over, the light was just right to take some pictures of my plants that I've had in for about a week.  The colors are truly as rich as what I was looking at!

For the past few  years, I've done a lot of hanging baskets.  I've learned that you have to make them full from the beginning or they look silly.  In the past, I would put a couple of plants, imagining that they would spread and fill out but they looked sparse for most of the summer.  Now, I spend a little more money, but I like the way they look early in the summer.

These are hanging beside the greenhouse.  The flowers are something called "scented flowers" with no explanation as to what they are.  They are pretty and I like the smell, but I have no idea what they are.  I put some vinca vine in with them.

Next, we have a few other hanging baskets that have some Sweet William, Lobelia (that amazing purple-blue stuff!) and maybe some of the scented flowers, depending on the basket.

I like the richness of these colors so much, I thought I'd share a close up!

The obsession with the purple/blue color came from a month I spent in Belgium a while back.  It seemed like every house had window boxes that were just falling over with what must have been Lobelia or something like it.  For a while, I couldn't find it when I came back and I was always on a quest for that color.  It's not something you find a lot of.  Last summer,, I found it and didn't get enough and when I wanted more, it was already gone!

I made sure to scoop it right up this time!

Then, we have the old stand bys that come back again and again.  This winter weather we had must have been perfect for the lilacs because they are all in bloom everywhere I go and you can actually smell them as you drive down the road!

Lilacs can take a serious beating and come right back.  This bush is older than I am and we've chopped it down a few times and it just pops right back up.

The crabapple looks fantastic this time of year and it smells even better.  The rain wasn't harsh enough to strip the flowers, so it still looks so nice.

The mint that mostly behaves itself is coming back.  People rant about mint being very invasive but in my yard, it isn't. I put it in this container and it's very happy.  Gwenstopher really liked to sit in this bucket and lose her mind in the mint, like I couldn't see her.

And, since my childhood, Buttercups have been the telltale sign of spring in this yard.  Most see them as a weed, like dandelions, but I don't mind them in the lawn.  Do you know the old adage they used to tell kids about Buttercups?  Hold one under your chin and if your chin glows yellow, you like butter.  Does anyone tell kids things like this anymore?

I'll leave you with one of my favorite views.  We replaced the boards that had rotted on the sides and put on these hangers last summer.  3 on each side.  I love them!!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

A Radish Inspired Meal

After the glorious bounty of pretty radishes I grew last month, I planted a new kind called "white icicle".  Somewhere, I read that they are also called Daikon and are Asian.  I don't know a lot about radishes, but I thought it would be fun to try.

They sprouted right away and went complete crazy.  Last week, I noticed some little white parts poking up, and I've found that radishes are ready when they push themselves to the surface of the soil, I decided to pick a few.  I expected them to be thin and small.

Imagine my shock when a few of them were far longer than any carrots I've grown! 

I was also fooled by the greens.  Some of them had short greens while a few were screaming LOOK AT ME, so I was really surprised when I pulled the one with the biggest greens and found it so much smaller than one with not a lot of greens.

As soon as I picked them, they started to get a little brown looking and I wondered what they'd be like after a day or so.

And what the heck was I going to do with them?  I can only use them so much before k-ster is like ENOUGH, and I don't want to smell like radishes every day.

The packet says "mild, crisp flavor" so I thought maybe I could sneak them in in more ways than the last round.  If mild means blowing your tongue right out of your mouth with the powerful spice that theses little babies contain then mild it is.  I couldn't eat more than a bite of the raw piece I took without thinking my esophagus would be ruined for the day.

Off to the interwebs I went, in search of what to do with white radishes.

I kept coming to pickled recipes and I thought that sounded pretty good.  I figured the vinegar would help remove the sharpness or at least the dirty radish taste that I often find with radishes.

When I was at my sister's house a few weeks ago, we had the traditional pulled pork sandwiches that I love the way she makes.  She added pickles as an option for the sandwich which I thought was nuts but she assured me I'd like it.  I LOVED IT!!

I thought maybe I'd make crockpot pork and then make a sort of radish coleslaw with the pickled flavor of the radishes as an option.  I had some Swiss chard to use up and I mixed in the radish greens from the radishes I used for the pickle.

I also found that if I peeled the radishes with a carrot peeler, it took off the outer layer which was slightly thicker than I expected.  Inside, they really were pure white.

So, here's what I did.  I had a recipe for the pickle/slaw but I had to change some things out of necessity.

Pickled Radish Slaw:

5 white radishes, peeled and sliced as you'd like.  I did thin "coins" but the recipes suggested matchsticks.
half of a bag of pre-cut cole slaw veggies (carrots, cabbage and broccoli) because I had it left over from the Chinese Egg Roll casserole.

Pour 1/4 cup of rice vinegar and 2 T. sugar over the veggies and sprinkle with a little salt.  Mix and let sit in the refrigerator for as long as you can.  I did the entire afternoon.

Mix together 1.5 T. olive oil, cayenne pepper to your liking, juice of one lime, 2 green onions (sliced thinly) about 2T. chopped parsley.

Pour out the vinegar mixture and pour in the new mixture with the green onions.  Let it sit a while.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches:

A large pork butt or shoulder
barbeque sauce of your choice

Put them together in the crockpot for the day, until the pork is easy to pull apart.  I added a little more barbeque sauce when I took out all of the pork because I hadn't put as much in the crockpot as I should have.


I slice the stalk of the chard, and the thicker parts of the radish greens and saute them with garlic in olive oil for about 5-8 minutes.  Then throw in all of the leafy part of the greens, chopped as you like.  Stir them around and put the cover on the pan until they wilt.  Add a little salt.   I sometimes add vinegar but I didn't want to ruin the effect of the pickle/slaw.

The rolls are courtesy of and they are the best "hamburger" style roll I've ever had. I haven't bought a nasty, white, store bought hamburger roll in the 2-3 years since I've know about her Light Brioche Buns recipe.

In the picture, I had the Radish Pickle/Slaw on the side but I put some in the sandwich and WOW.  Definitely amazing.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Making Chinese Egg Roll Casserole

I have my usual stand bys for making quick meals that don't take a lot of fancy preparing or weird ingredients, but every so often, I come across another one to add to the repertoire.  I give you:

Chinese Egg Roll Casserole

I found this idea on instagram the other day and it sounded so good I thought about it all day and decided to go home and make it.  It was really good but my version didn't taste as much like an egg roll as I expected.  Probably because I didn't use enough soy sauce but I don't like too much, so I was light handed with it.

My version:

A package of ground turkey
A package of cole slaw veggies ready to go (without the mayonnaise) (or slice up cabbage, carrots and broccoli)
a little soy sauce
1 green onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
rice or noodles for serving
spices that interest you

The original recipe called for using breakfast sausage all taken out of the casing and ground up.  I didn't think I'd like the spices in that, so I just used ground turkey and some spices that I thought would add good flavor, especially some cayenne pepper.

I browned the turkey in a little bit of olive oil and added the green onion and garlic.  When it was all browned, I tossed in the cole slaw mix and let it cook for 5 minutes.  Then I added some soy sauce.

I served it over brown rice.
We liked it but k-ster and I both said we wouldn't associate it with an egg roll.  I liked the vegetables and because they were only cooked for a few minutes, they still had some crispness.  We both added a little more soy sauce.

I had a really hard time finding the package of cole slaw mix this time! In my grocery store, it had always been over with the packages of spinach.  They've rearranged things and it was in the middle of weird produce, like leeks and chard and not with the prepackaged things.

I'll definitely make it again and maybe serve it over noodles or lo mein noodles next time.  I might even try it with breakfast sausage to see if that makes a difference in flavor.  It was super quick and different.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

The Creamsicle Top Dilemma

When I first started sewing knits last summer, I found this fabric that I thought would make a very trendy, awesome top that I would wear forever.  I loved the challenge of working with stripes and I thought the colors, pink and orange were fantastic.

It reminded me of a creamsicle.  I realize that would be orange and white, but it's my blog and I get to make things up if I so choose.

I wanted it in long sleeve, but I didn't have enough fabric.

Ok, let's be honest, whether I had enough fabric or not, I did one of my signature moves and would have screwed it up anyway.  I cut the top of the sleeve off the pattern because I thought it was just for the short sleeve and ALMOST cut the fabric too.

I figured it out just in time and that was when I realized that I didn't have enough fabric to do the long sleeves the right way!

I was kind of sad because I thought it would be my go to top for the fall, probably every Friday.  During the school year, I get into the habit of wearing the same "uniform" every Friday.  This would be great until it got really cold.

Alas, short sleeves it was.

I thought I had done a fabulous job, even using a double needle for the top stitching, but the neckline has the most annoying little wave in the middle.
To the untrained eye, it would probably pass as completely unnoticable, but to my over trained eye, it's unacceptable.  I couldn't be bothered ripping out the neckline, so I gave it to good will and decided to carry on with my life.

Without a creamsicle shirt to wear on Fridays.

And since I had a little fabric left over, I put a little skirt on a onesie for this little peanut.

She's thrilled.

Fast forward to a month ago or so.  I found a remnant of the very same fabric and I couldn't help but buy it!  I figured if I combined it with what I had left over from my first attempt, I could finally make the long sleeved version I was so excited about.

Since it was a remnant, I knew it was less than a yard but I was pretty sure it would be enough.

I was so very sad to discover that I didn't actually have anything but a few scraps left.  However, I laid out the fabric and the pattern and tried it several ways and determined it would juuuuuuust barely fit.

So, I cut out the sleeves (long sleeves!) And I cut out the back.

And even though I had already checked it all out, I didn't have enough fabric to cut the front.

I KNOW!!!!!!!

In a shocking twist of fate, this week, I found my original shirt. I hadn't sent it off to good will.  I packed it away for the spring, to deal with it in warmer weather.

And then I had a BRILLIANT idea.  Since I'm not happy with that wavy neckline or the short sleeves, I could rip out the neckline, take off the front and use it for the new one I'm cutting.  And do the neckline correctly on the long sleeve version.

But, will it really all match up?  Is it worth it?  Can I get away with a slightly loose neckline?

And really, what am I going to do with 2 sleeves and a back cut out of the fabric I have?


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Sunday, May 3, 2015

That Time I Was An Upholsterer

Here on Aunt Mildred's porch, I make a lot of things that surprise my friends and neighbors.  But I have a secret.  A lot of the time, I even surprise myself!

A teacher in my school got wind of my supposed sewing skills and asked if I could do an ottoman cover for her.  Before I even had a chance to look very worried and say I wasn't sure, she said she had a cover someone made a while back and I could use that as a template.

How could I say no?  Especially when she said it was rectangular and straightforward.  No round shape with tucks and scariness.

I said I'd give it a whirl.

I began by completely ripping apart her old one.  And as I did it, I kept wondering if I had told her I would be doing that.  And I took the piping from the old one, so there was no going back.

I loved the fabric choice.   She really scored a deal because this was from the same collection of fabric that someone brought to school back in the fall, so she only had to pay me to get this snazzy new cover.

I just bought Wonder Clips recently to use for binding quilts so I will stop stabbing myself with pins.  They worked BEAUTIFULLY with this fabric and even though they are really small, they held the thickness of this fabric really well.  And I like that they stay in place even as I move the fabric and bump the machine and stuff.

The hardest part for me was the top.  Getting the piping on there was a little tricky around the corners.  I don't remember ever doing piping before but it was pretty much a breeze.

The one thing that I know I did wrong was cut the strips to cover the piping a little too small for comfort so I cut another set of strips.  It would have worked but I would have been really frustrated.

I was pretty happy with the way I tucked the piping in at the top.  On the next layer, I did something funky and I don't have a picture.  I wasn't proud of that tuck but no one else will probably notice.

The pleats were really easy when I used the original as a template to fold them.  Each one is slightly different because this was the first time I did pleats, but now that I know how they work, I think they would be easy again.  There was a pleat on each corner only.  Again, to the untrained eye, the difference on each corner won't be noticeable.

I think this was my favorite pleat.  Just enough room at the top without overlap and not too much space.

This is just sitting on a box in my house to make sure it all looked right.  I did a nice, wide hem, like the original.

And here is it in its natural environment.  I think it looks fantastic, if I do say so myself!

When I brought it in to her, I said "oh, did you want the original?"  No one ever does, so I figured she'd say no.

When she said she would, I almost dropped dead.  "You realize it's in pieces, right?"

She said she'd still like to have it, so I bagged up all of the scraps and gave them to  her.  She later told me she had no idea why she said that and I could  keep the pieces if I'd like to use them for a future template.  Since each ottoman is really its own shape, it wouldn't work, so I told her to keep it.

So, while my serger is misbehaving yet again, I'm still making my sewing room a beehive of activity.

Do you ever take on random projects that you've never done and hope you can wing it?

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