Friday, September 21, 2012

Deep Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about anything of consequence and meaning to my heart.  I prefer to stay private and blog about food and fabric. That’s just how I roll these days (errr, years actually.)

Life has been kinda tough mentally, physically, and emotionally lately. But it has for you too I bet. Nobody has it easy, of that I am convinced. 

What’s been mentally tough is dealing with my children—particularly my son who is now in high school. He is flexing his teenage muscles of independence and that’s tough to deal with. I’ve always loved to work with teenagers—for years I worked with the young women ages 12-18 at my church and loved every minute of it. But when that teenager is your own…..well you don’t always love every minute of it. Yes the below photo is staged but everyday they re-enact this scene. For real.

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What’s been physically tough is getting back into the swing of things with school back in session for a month now. Paul and I get up early with Nathan and make him a hot breakfast and send him off with a huge sack lunch at 6:45am. He eats eggs and bacon in the dark and it’s mostly quiet, and I’m tired, but in 4 years he’ll be gone and then I’ll wish I had done more.  By the end of the day when I’m washing dishes once again in the dark, I’m even more tired, but that’s just life right now.

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(A lighter moment with Nathan—pretending we’re tough Mexicans. Well, we’re not pretending to be Mexican , that’s a fact, just pretending to be tough.)

Emotionally what’s tough is trying to figure out what I wanna be when I grow up. By that I just mean that I’m trying to have a bit of self-awareness—am I doing all I can for my kids who are growing up so fast? I feel the urgency of that everyday—they’re growing up so fast. Am I teaching them to be kind because they see me kind?  Do I give enough? Do I serve my fellow brothers and sisters enough? I’ve been given so much and it has to be for a reason—I have to reach out and help more and so often I feel so insular. That’s my prayer every day to my Father in Heaven—help me to reach out and help someone today. 90% of the time it’s my kids or hubby whom I help but I hope I can reach beyond my own little life and be a puller and not a pusher.

P.S. My sweet Ilene was given clearance from her orthopedic surgeon to live a normal life—she can now run, jump, and be a typical young girl. What a miracle. It makes me weep with gratitude. (Post here about her surgery.)


Friday, September 14, 2012

The Ruffled Tote Bag

This has to be the fastest tote bag I’ve ever made. No interfacing, just a simple rectangle and lots of gathers using my ruffler foot for the pink version. Or you can skip the ruffles as I did on the beige linen version. The pink is a 5oz linen and the beige is 7oz—both nice sturdy heavier linens for tote bags purchased at I love that website—they ship fast too and the prices are amazing.

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This tutorial isn’t very detailed, but if all you need are a little whipper-snapper and can figure things out on your own then all you need are the measurements anyway. If you need more details I suggest buying my “weekday tote bag” pattern for TONS of photos and directions to basic bag making.

First, draw up a pattern using these measurements:

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For the ruffled version, cut 2 of the lining using the full pattern, then fold on the 6.5” line and using just the upper piece, cut 2 out of the pink linen.  For the ruffled bottom cut 2 strips 6.5 tall by approximately double the length, or 32”.  (To eliminate the ruffles use the full pattern piece to cut 2 of the exterior, two of the lining.) For the straps, cut 2 pieces 3”x 23” or whatever your desired length would be.

To embroider a border,  hoop some stabilizer and spray with temporary adhesive spray. Place your upper bag piece so that the border will stitch 1/2”-1” above bottom raw edge. It doesn’t matter if the border stitches off of the fabric on the sides—in fact that’s preferable because you want the border to go all the way to the edge. I think stitching this design took 8 minutes. Nice and fast. I stitched in a pale pink.

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Now you’ll make the ruffle part using your ruffler foot. If you don’t have a ruffler foot, my apologies, you’ll have to gather with two long basting stitches and pull to form gathers. The ruffle on the bottom is what it will look like before ironing. The ruffle on top is after I ironed the ruffles/pleats in place with lots of steam. This is why using linen is soooo great for this project—holds creases really well.

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The ruffler foot is the best invention for sewers. Ever. I’d rather put a hot poker through my eyeball than gather ruffles with basting stitches.

ruffler foot

Attach ruffle to your embroidered top piece. Place your pattern back over and trim excess ruffled fabric away.

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Use the excess ruffle to make a cut pocket on the lining.


To make the straps, pretend you’re making double-fold bias tape—you’ll fold in the raw edges on the long side towards the middle, then fold in again, iron in place, stitch to bag front and back. You’re finished straps will be approximately 3/4” inch wide. Linen is sturdy enough that you don’t need any interfacing for straps this skinny. (Wider straps would need interfacing.)  Attach straps to your bag exterior in a pleasing manner, baste in place:

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Assemble the lining in same manner, leaving the bottom with 8” opening. Sew the bag to the lining, right sides together around top, pull lining through, topstitch the top of bag and don’t forget to sew the lining shut. I opted to have some pockets inside but you don’t have to:


Yummy, ain’t it?


scribbled marbles

The “scribbled marbles” embroidery design can be purchased by clicking here.

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The beige linen version is even faster without ruffles:

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The “tall grasses” design can be purchased clicking here.

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Happy stitching!

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Burda 7866

Easy pattern. Totally stylish. Made in one hour or less. Does it get better than that? Nope.

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There isn’t even a shoulder seam. You sew the sides, finish the neckline, and do some hemming. Done. 

Modifications: Other reviewers said the neckline was too high and was choking them. So I cut it a bit lower—maybe 1 inch lower. As you can see, it’s still pretty high so I’m glad I did. Also, I will say that the neckline is a little too “boatneck” for me. I already had it cut out and knew that by simply turning under the neckline and stitching with clear elastic to stabilize (see this post) that it would be even more off the shoulder. In the black-stripe version I decided to finish it with self-ribbing at the neckline. Love it. I also made the sleeves 3” shorter as it is still a blazing hot 90 degrees here in Utah. I LOOOOVE this stripey fabric, also used here on this skirt.

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I made another one the same day in this solid gray cotton lycra knit. It didn’t have the drape as the above rayon knit. It didn’t ‘drape’ very well around the neckline as you can see. It was looking a bit “drabby communist” so I opted to finish the hems in a hot pink stitching and also the neckline in pink ribbing. It’s fine, but the moral of the story is: only make this pattern with extra soft drapey knits. Unless you like the communist look.

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Oh and obviously I opted to omit the fabric belt called for in the pattern. Not necessary on the striped one as the stripes would just “camoflauge” another striped belt. And on the gray version, I opted to use my pink metallic belt and forgo even more gray.

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I love the ‘cinched’ waistline this pattern gives around the waist and hips. Very in style right now! I am going to make soooo many more of this shirt. Love it. Has to be in one of my top ten fave patterns. Both fabrics used here are from I’m still on the hunt for the perfect drapey solid knit though. This gray was just too heavy for this project. Any suggestions? I’d love to find Modal or Siltex knit somewhere.

burda 7866

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Cornflake Cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

Nothing is worse than wasting tons of ingredients not to mention precious time on a recipe that turns out meh. I saw these Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookies on Martha last week and the way Martha was raving you would’ve thought I had seen an infomercial at midnight promising me perfectly sliced tomatoes if I’d just call the 1-800 number and order that Ginsu knife. That’s how fast I printed the recipe off her website. They looked so promising.


First you gotta bake the cornflake crisp like a granola, then let it cool. Then you have to beat the butter for 10 minutes for maximum fluffiness, then chill the finished dough balls for an hour. The worst part is the recipe said to bake the cookies for 18 minutes which I thought was ridiculously long, but the dough was ice cold, so I set the timer for 18 minutes—telling myself to check them half way through—and then went off to my piano to play some Chopin. I guess I really got into the Chopin number because the next thing I knew the 18 minute timer was going off and my cookies were burnt. In went the final batch for just 10 minutes (pictured above) and guess what…….these cookies tasted like a crispy basic chocolate chip cookie. Too sweet as well. So stinking disappointed for all that work. Maybe the real thing from the real restaurant is better. Either way, not buying the cookbook now.


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