Thursday, March 29, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I have been awarded the Liebster Blog Award by Alisha at Crafty Brooklyn Army Wife.  I was a little slow accepting this award, and I was awarded it again by Shanni Loves.  Go check their blogs out!  Thanks ladies!  You are so sweet!

This award is given to bloggers who inspire you and have less than 200 followers.  The purpose of this award is to bring attention to these blogs.  The Liebster Award takes its name from the German word meaning ‘Beloved, Dearest or Favorite’.  I’m humbled and honored to receive this award.

As part of the tradition it is passed along to 5 bloggers that have motivated and inspired.
To accept the award you must:

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.
2. Post the award to your blog.
3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.

I am giving this award to:

Mikhaela at Polka Dot Overload who posts about her sewing adventures and living in NYC.  I love her pattern reviews, vintage-inspired clothing, and catchy graphic design art of herself as a pattern envelope model.  I wish I had her graphic skills!

Jessica and Curt at Dancing Carrots who post about tasty, healthy food they make with awesome, colorful pictures.  This blog reminds me that eating healthy can be fun, delicious and have LOTS of variety!  Jessica was my roommate in college and I so admire her as a person and as a dietician.  I am actually not sure how many followers Jessica and Curt have, but this blog was started last year and if you've never heard of it (or even if you have) you should check it out!

Mallory at Split Ends and New Beginnings, a hairstylist, mom and wife who blogs about hair and family.  I really like her how-to hair tutorials.  She introduced me to Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, which my nephews and I got a real kick out of!

Jessie at Reel Mormon Housewife who provides witty reviews of obscure documentaries streaming on Netflix.  This is not your average mommy blog, and that is why I like it.  A hacker recently broke into her blog, so it is now a private blog, so you may need to get permission to view her content.

Carrie at Saving 4 Six is a thrifty gal who enjoys home improvement, getting organized and crafts.  I learned how to clean my microfiber couch from her.  Just from that, she deserves an award!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How to Sew a Yoga Strap

Hello, readers!  Today I'm going to show you....

It is super easy and only takes about 5 minutes.
First, you will need to go to the store and buy 2 yards of cotton webbing, 1 1/2 inches wide.  Webbing is commonly used for bag straps and belts.  You may want to tape the ends, as they will fray a bit.  Also pick up a strap adjuster, metal or plastic.  (Two D-rings would also work just fine.)  You will need thread and a sewing machine for the next steps.

 Finish one of the edges with a zig-zag stitch set to the widest zig-zag possible and a stitch length of 0.5.  Make sure you backstitch well on the ends.

Pull the other end through the strap adjuster.  I found this one on an old shoulder bag.  (If you had two D-rings, you'd pull the strap through both of them at the same time.)

 Loop the end back and secure it about 3/4" from the metal with a zig-zag stitch.  I also reinforced with a straight line of stitching just inside my zig-zag.  

 The loop should look like the picture, above.

Now, take the free zig-zagged end of the strap and pull it through the strap adjuster.

Your yoga strap is all ready to go!  I actually don't do yoga on a regular basis, but I'm going to use this baby to stretch out my hamstring, V-Mo and IT band leg muscles.  I had been using a robe tie, so this is a nice step up and only cost me $5 for the webbing.  Yay!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Garden and Summer Dress Plans

Sorry for my silence last week.  I had a lovely Spring Break with my husband planning our garden.  We've been collecting seed packets, starting seeds indoors and preparing the ground outside for cool weather crops.  This is the first year we've really had a garden and our new grow light has enabled us to start everything from seed.  

Exciting, huh?  Some of our tomatoes were even big enough to transplant last night!  Maybe we started them a bit too early.  Oh well.  We have to deal with the deer tramping about our garden so Scott fixed the makeshift fence around the raised beds and is also trying to ward off any four-legged creatures with super concentrated Predator Pee!  Anyone with a nose will testify to its horrible stench, thus its effectiveness!

As for my current sewing adventures....

I am making a yellow summer shirt dress out of a pretty seersucker I found at the local fabric store.  I love cotton dresses for spring and summer because they are soft and comfortable.  This is the seersucker I'll be using...

Sew into Spring Seersucker

...using Butterick 5315

I made View A last summer and liked the pattern so much I'm going to give it another go, with a twist.  This time, I'll be using the shortened flared skirt from View B and will draft my own shawl collar to go along with the bodice.  I saw a picture of a shawl collar shirt dress in my new book, The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook and fell in love!  This book is chalked full of inspiration!

I'll be using Principles of Flat Pattern Design by Nora M. MacDonald to draft the collar.  It's like the bible of pattern design.  I learned everything I know about drafting from this book!

Other sewing plans over the last few weeks have included finding and purchasing more swimsuit fabric for my two-piece outfit.  I ordered some swatches from Spandex World and decided on
a black nylon/spandex with white polka dots for the top and black milliskin matte for the shorts.

I'll let you know when it comes to my door and I get to work!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Easy Peasy Burp Cloths Tutorial

 The ladies at my church are doing a service project for Mary's Choice, an organization that provides pregnant young women an alternative to abortion.  Mary's Choice is a home for these young women and also provides counseling, birth and parenting classes.  They need baby items like blankets, hats and burp cloths.  I received some fabric this week to make some burp cloths and got right to work.

This tutorial requires a serger.  If you don't have a serger, you can still use my pattern but you will need to use this tutorial instead. 

Get your pattern ready:

Cut two burp cloth pieces in flannel. 

Put your pieces WRONG sides together and pin.

Okay, now you will need to put your serger/ overlock machine on the rolled hem setting.  Use your instruction manual to see if your machine will do a rolled hem.  It should have a diagram showing you which nobs to change to get the right look.

The settings I put my serger on are as follows:
(This setting requires 3 cones of thread, not 4)

Stitch Length: R
Differential Feed Ratio: 1.0
Needle Thread Tension L: none = no thread through this needle
Needle Thread Tension R: 4
Upper looper thread tension: 3.5
Lower looper thread tension: 4

It may be different for your machine, so again, check your instruction manual and follow it.

Start feeding the burp cloth through the serger, allowing the knife to cut off about 1/4" on the edge. 

 If you decide to use pins remove them BEFORE they go past the presser foot.

When you're done it should look like this:

 The serger quickly and professionally finishes the edges, no ironing and no turning out required. Ta-da!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Online Fabric Shopping Tips

I'm sure most of us would prefer to shop for fabric in person.  I love going to the store and feeling fabrics, seeing colors, checking drape or how stretchy a fabric is.  However, not all of us have a fabric store a mile away and not every fabrics store has just what we want.  Sometimes I want a specific designer print that I can only find online.  Other times I need a specific kind of fabric that is out of season in retail stores.  These are reasons why ordering fabric online can be great!  I've had both good and bad experiences ordering fabric online, and have learned a bit along the way that I'd like to share with you.

Anna Maria Horner print from Modern Fabric Studio

Tip #1 - Know Your Fabrics
Know what kind of fabric you are looking for and what the fabric contains.  Do you want an nylon/spandex ITY knit for a dress, or a jacquard cotton for a blouse?  Do you want your fabric to have stretch?  Can it be washed and dried in a dryer? 
There are many times I have to head to my fabric swatch book (a book with samples of hundreds of different types of fabrics) to understand what it is I'm looking at online.  

This is my swatch kit from college:

 Pages of swatches were painstakingly taped in place:

A tiny picture looks vastly different in person!  An interlock knit is different from a raschel knit or a jersey knit and has different applications.  If you know what you're shopping for, and what you're buying, you're on your way to a successful project.

Tip #2 - Order Swatches Before You Buy
Most companies have a place on their website for you to order a sample of their fabric before you buy it.  Recently, I ordered some nylon/lycra spandex for some swimsuits in 'peacock' and 'crimson'.  I was over-zealous to begin my project, so I didn't bother with swatches.  When the fabric arrived, it looked completely different than I expected --- the actual colors were atrocious and looked awful with my skin.  

I spent part of a night awake wishing I could go back in time and order swatches.  The fabric was non-returnable so it is still sitting in my sewing room, never to be made into those garments.  

So, learn from my mistake and order swatches!  Some companies, like charge for their swatches and for shipping them.  The upside is they send larger swatches (6x6) so you could test them in the washer/dryer.  Other companies, like Spandex World let you order swatches completely free, including shipping.  Boo-yah!!

I paid $5 for these swatches, including shipping.

These swatches were FREE!

Tip #3 - Check the Scale of Prints
How wide are those stripes you're looking at?  Is that floral print scaled to look nice on a toddler or a plus-size model?  As a petite woman, this is something I always watch for, because I am picky, picky, picky about the scale of my prints.  They make a world of difference.

A pretty print from Pat Bravo....but how do I know how big it is?

Hey, look!  It's a ruler, so I know the scale of this Premier Prints Zig Zag print.

Tip #4 - Check the Return Policy
Some companies won't accept returns unless they've made an error, so buyer beware.  If they do accept returns, be prepared to pay return shipping and a restocking fee of 10-15%.  Most companies will not accept returns on clearance items.

Tip #5 - Mailing Lists and Coupon Codes
To find great deals on fabric, join a fabric site's mailing list which will alert you to their upcoming sales.  I always check or similar sites for a coupon code to save me a little more on my fabric.


I hope these tips help and if you've not ordered fabric online, give it a try!  You will love the feeling of finding fabric on your doorstep!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Review: The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

I was happy to find my copy of The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook on the porch on Wednesday.  I had been thinking of purchasing a copy ever since I read about it earlier in the year.  It's a newly published book, written by Nora Abousteit with Alison Kelly, full of tons of sewing information and great ideas. 

The book includes five adaptable sewing patterns for a skirt, blouse, dress, coat, and bag.  Each project has a finished picture and step-by step instructions to sew the look. 

BurdaStyle's Skirt:
 1st Variation:
 2nd Variation:
(These three looks originate from the same pattern.)

Talk about gorgeous pictures!  In addition to that, two variations to the patterns with instructions and pictures are included.  At the very end of each section, 13-14 more variations are provided with pictures, but not instructions. 

The patterns are located in an envelope in the inside back cover of the book:

In addition to the patterns, the first part of the book goes over the basics of sewing clothing.  There are sections on how to set up your sewing space, supplies you'll need, how to use a pattern, how to cut out your fabric, and different sewing techniques. 

The information contained in these sections is very appropriate for beginning sewers.  I think that everyone attempting to sew clothing should first understand the basics.  That being said, I would caution beginning clothing sewers using this book.  First, because Burda patterns do not include seam allowances.  Second, because there aren't as many pictures in the instructions as one would expect to find in a Simplicity or McCall's pattern.

As a more seasoned sewer, I love this book for helping me to see beyond the pattern.  I love all of the variations included.  Even though a lot of the variations don't come with patterns, I feel confident that I could use my knowledge of pattern drafting to tweak the pattern to get the right look.  Sometimes I have the perfect pattern in mind but am at a loss when it comes to choosing fabrics and coordinating notions.  This book has already given me tons of inspiration for future projects.

On, readers of this book have expressed a desire to have access to the patterns used to make the additional designs.  The writers want to make them available, but I guess we will have to wait and see what happens!

Overall, I'd give this book a 5/5 for intermediate sewers.  It is my new go-to sewing book for inspiration and ideas.  I hope you'll give it a try!