Socialite Skirt, and a funk

June 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm (crafting, pictures)

I’m in a funk this week. Just feeling out of sorts about life and careers and my perspective on it all, which is making me ponder pursuing some new things. I’ve been feeling like I need to think, and walking dogs or sewing are the best “thinking activities” for me. Sadly, I have no dogs to walk, so sewing it was. 🙂

I finished most of my Socialite Skirt from Elle Apparel, except for the hem. I LOVE the inverted box pleats, which are supposed to be the back of the skirt: (ignore my bathroom towels, sorry)
box pleats

But the front is supposed to have a box pleat and knife pleats, and it just looks weird. See what I mean:
skirt front

Too bubbly on the back? Too poofy? Not sure. It just doesn’t lie right on me. It looks lovely on the original website, but on me? Meh. I’m debating tearing it out, and doing both sides like the back, with inverted box pleats. In general, I LOVE sewing with elastic thread. So glad I tried that, and now I want to make dozens of knit skirts, once I narrow down this bubbly butt problem.

As an aside, a danger of sewing while thinking through your funk:
selvedge oops
That would be the selvedge edge, that I was supposed to sew into the side seam. Whoops.

Before I forget, here’s a picture of my finished fruit leather:
fruit leather
If you attempt, make sure that you can poke it and not leave finger marks. Don’t let your fruit leather be mushy!!

So today, while still thinking through my funk, I decided to quilt instead. A long time ago, my mom and I joined a block of the month club through Meissner Sewing Center. I have no idea if they still do this, but you used to be able to pay $5 and get the fabric plus directions for your first block, and you could watch them make the block and give hints/tips at a monthly class. Then if you brought your block back completed to the next class, you got another set of fabric and directions for a new block. We did this for two years, and because I was a busy high school student at the time, sometimes my blocks didn’t get finished. It’s been six years since I graduated high school, seven since I started attending these quilt block classes, and I still have unfinished blocks.

I pulled one out today, and finished it:
quilt block
It’s not perfect, (my points don’t match) but it certainly turned out better than the skirt… 🙂

I’m not through my funk yet, we’ll see how the weekend goes, but for now I am feeling at least a little more productive. And, a little closer to a finished quilt!

What’s your favorite pondering activity?

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Fruit leather update, and another new recipe: focaccia

June 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

So boy, that fruit leather. It turned out to be a 12+ hour project! I opted for the “275 degrees for 35 minutes, then shut off your oven and let it sit for 8 hours” method. I jumped out of bed this morning, so excited to cut up the fruit leather so Tyler could take some for his lunch.

And… it was still soupy. Just like it’d looked last night when I poured it from the blender. Well, shoot. So I turned the oven back on, to 175 this time, and let it bake. And bake, and bake. I believe I turned the oven off around 11 – it needed an extra four hours of baking!! But, I am impressed with how it turned out. It’s a little crunchier than store bought fruit leather, but it tastes awesome!! Very strawberry, very good. Will be trying again. Just make sure to get an even layer of puree, and make sure to bake until you can touch it and not leave indents. It doesn’t taste good mushy, in my opinion.

And, miracle of miracles, tried another new recipe today in the effort to branch out my yeast skills: focaccia from Tyler Florence of the Food Network. It was indeed as fabulous as the recipe title claims. I didn’t add all the extra toppings, just salt/pepper/rosemary. I also didn’t use cornmeal on the cookie sheet, just olive oil.

I need some more new recipes… what are you all eating this week?

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New recipe: homemade fruit leather

June 12, 2011 at 9:28 pm (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

I got strawberries for $1.25/lb the other day for the sole purpose of making this recipe… it’s in my oven right now, so we’ll see how it goes! So far, so good. I’ll post a picture later if I remember.

Seriously, I’m so spoiled by California produce. If/when we leave this state, I’ll cry!

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Links: crafty and otherwise

June 6, 2011 at 11:11 am (links)

A few of my favorite links this week:

Socialite Skirt at Elle Apparel – I bought all the material/notions for this last week, I just need to sit down and make it! I have high hopes for this pattern.

Basic Machine Maintenance: Tension and Skipped Stitches
– my mom and I were just fighting with her machine over this when I visited her last week. Then I came home and found this link, and then my sewing machine started doing the same thing. It’s an epidemic, I think.

Wave at the bus – this is one creative and loving dad! Also, I read a news article about him, and I love that he says his reward is his son’s embarrassment. 🙂

Pear and spinach salad with poppyseed dressing – from one of my favorite blogs, hoping to try this sometime this week. I’m on a salad kick lately after having a superb one at Catal.

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Crafty tutorial: child’s apron

June 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm (crafting, family)

My husband’s cousin turns 5 next week, so I decided to whip up something crafty yesterday for our gift. She LOVES princesses, which I fully indulge, so I found some fabric and got to work. My photos aren’t the greatest, but I thought I’d share how I made an apron for her.

To start:
-get some sort of cotton fabric for the body of the apron. I bought 3/4 of a yard, and had a little leftover. You might be able to get away with 1/2 a yard but don’t quote me on that.
-I also bought two yards of purple ribbon, and two yards of tulle. I used a little ribbon for the neck of the apron (you don’t need it, it’s just fun) and the rest of the ribbon plus the tulle was for a tutu.

Pattern Piece
I made a dress for her birthday last year using a Simplicity pattern, and I knew it still fit her, so I used the bodice pattern piece as a guideline for the apron pattern.

Cut Fabric
I ended up with two pieces like this, and pinned them right sides together. I should have made the side ties now, and pinned them in, but I didn’t because I’m a goober. Scroll down and see how I fixed it, then when you make your apron, put your side ties in here.

Turned inside out
I sewed the sides and bottom together, then turned it inside out through the open top seam (near the neck). I ironed it, and poked all the corners out so it looked nice and crisp.

Bias tape
Make your own bias tape for the neck straps and ties. I cut a 3 inch strip, about 15 inches long (make it as long as you want your neck strap or ties) and ironed it in half. Then open it up, and fold each side in to the crease from the first ironing you did. Then fold it in half, and iron that original crease one more time. It’s really easy, and very worth it.

Pinned ribbon/straps
I pinned some purple ribbon across the top seam, which was open from when I turned it inside out. I didn’t bother sewing it closed before I put the ribbon on – sewing down the ribbon will close the opening. (If you don’t have/don’t want ribbon, you can make a bias tape strip to go on the neck, or just fold under the raw edges and sew it closed when you top stitch.) I then pinned my bias tape strap on one side and then the other end on the other side to make the neck loop. Make sure you fold in the end on your bias tape, so that no raw edges are sewing. Use a lot of pins, it helps.

Sewn straps
All sewn!! Make sure you keep sewing all the way down the strap. I can’t imagine you’d stop, but just in case, I’m putting that info out there.

Top finished
A look at the top of the apron, all finished.

Apron straps pinned
Make two more bias tape strips, to the length that you want the ties to be (that go around your child’s stomach). I have no idea how long mine were, let’s say they’re 15 inches, like the neck strap. Sometimes I just wing it. Pin these to the sides, at the right angle where the armhole curve meets the side seam. Really, I should have made these bias tape straps in the beginning and sewed them in then. But I didn’t. See the next picture.

Topstitch straps
I wanted to topstich all the way around the apron, to make it look more finished, so I sewed the straps on when I top stitched. Meh, it works. I sewed a seam starting just where the neck strap ended, about 1/4 inch in from the edge, and went all the way around.

Pretty topstitching
Yay, pretty topstitching!

Finished apron
And that’s it! Finished apron!

Tutu
Then I whipped up a matching tutu with the rest of the purple ribbon, some pink tulle, and some white ribbon I already had. This was super simple – just sew with a long length stitch, then gather, then sew on the ribbon with a zig zag stitch. I then sewed the white ribbon on top of the zig zag with a straight stitch, just to hide the zig zag stitches. Plus it’s fancy.

If you make one, or both, share your results with me!

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New Recipe: Lentil Feta Salad and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

June 2, 2011 at 10:30 am (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

I got creative for dinner last night and made this recipe, Lentil Feta Salad, that I saw on an episode of From Martha’s Kitchen (I think?) a few weeks ago. My only change was that I didn’t mix in the feta, because if we didn’t like it, I didn’t want to waste the feta, or if we had a lot of leftovers, I didn’t want the feta to get mushy.

I also whipped up some of this Roasted Red Pepper Hummus to go with it. We put lettuce inside pitas, then spread on some hummus, poured in some of the lentil salad, and added feta on top. Verdict? We really liked it! And it felt very healthy. My hummus is still too bland (Fresh and Easy, your hummus kicks mine’s butt) but overall, the meal was a success. I’d put it in the category of summer dinners – it’s not hearty enough for winter, but it doesn’t heat up the kitchen aside from roasting the red peppers, which you could probably skip.

Do you have a favorite Greek recipe? I’d love to be able to make gyro wraps at home…

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