Monday, November 30, 2009

DIY ruffle skirt or dress

Well, I found this amazing dress from JCrew for $40 bucks! It is normally $200. There was just one in the store so I quickly grabbed it. Upon bringing it home I discovered that I just could not make it work - the tube top was a problem, it was the wrong size and too complicated for me to alter myself, etc. So I took a lot of photos, returned it and made a skirt similar to it using a basic skirt pattern I had for the base, and adding the ruffle and layers based on the dress. I had to use this beautiful fabric I bought from the quilt festival that has just been starring at me ever since, pleading with me to use it on something. So, though the end product is a bit flashy in color, I really love my skirt.

Remember if you live near me, I never cut the patterns I buy. If you would like to borrow, please let me know. You are welcome to them.
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DIY ribbon cardigan

I went to JCrew for the special prices on Black Friday and found a plain black cardigan for $20. I love their Jackie cardigans and own a few, but they are way pricey, especially the more frill they have. I generally buy them at the outlet, but they are never that cheap & usually they only carry the plain ones.

I bought the black one and about 2 yards of grosgrain ribbon and embelished mine to resemble the grosgrain ribbon cardigan they have for sale right now for $90 (the tan one above). I am really happy with it. Just a bunch of folds and knots pinned in place, and a few stitches later, voila!

I promise it looks much cuter on than in the pictures.

What kind of deals did y'all get?

Sorry about my photos - that's not an area that I can brag about.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How to sew an invisible zipper

Here is a great step-by-step tutorial on how to sew an invisible zipper. It has plenty of photos to help one on one's way. Just thought I'd share it :)

Free Sewing Patterns

Hi everyone. I hope you all had a very restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. I tried a new pie recipe that I won't be trying again. But, I still managed to have a great time with my family, cooking and listening to Christmas music - our Thanksgiving tradition.

I have also been sick, so I spent a lot of time on couch surfing the internet in my wetsuit. My time-wasting took a turn for the productive when I found Burda Style. Have you already heard of it? It is a website that sales beautiful and cool patterns for cheap, but best of all it has FREE patterns, too. And these ones aren't hokey, indefinite, and the same ol' patterns that you can find everywhere, like the bajillion apron patterns out there. One of my favorite free ones is this bathing suit pattern.

It also has great how-to's, like a tutorial for creating a "leaf pleated bodice." I didn't even know what that was, but it sounds fun!

Anyway, if you are interested in a clothing project, you should check this website out. There is a lot more than just patterns and techniques. I think any sewer would want to save this site in their bookmarks.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sewing Group #5 blooms

Here is the tutorial we used. The top pic is the one I was basing mine on, just not that big, and white. The bottom photo is my finished blossom. Julia and Haylee finished theirs that night (in just 2 hours) - and I must say that they were quite coveted. Both turned out really lovely. Can't wait for the next group! Good job girlies!
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Easy Unicorn Quilt

Hi everyone! I made this quilt from the book that Jen suggested, Patchwork & Quilted Gifts.
The quilt is called "Super Quick and Easy Baby Quilt," (I made mine a throw size) under the 2-4-hour gifts. The idea is that you take your front fabric, back fabric, and batting, layer then in this order, from top to bottom: front fabric, right side up; back fabric wrong side up; batting. Pin and sew all the way around leaving a 6" opening for turning. Turn and lay flat. To quilt all you do is make a mark every 4" (check your batting and see the limit for how far the quilting can be spaced apart) and use one of the fun and tight stitches on your sewing machine and do one on every mark. I used orange: you can see them on the princess and the pea side, but what is nice is that on the unicorn side it blends in sew ;) well with the print that you do not notice the quilting. It was a cinch!

It is the same idea as tying, just a hip, new twist. And you feel pretty cool that you just made a quilt in only a few hours. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 19, 2009

oh felt

I know all of you are probably getting sick of me, but i promise this is the last one for a little while.

I've been getting a lot of free reusable tote bags for some reason, so instead of letting them sit around (because there's only so many bags you need for groceries, supplies, etc.) I decided to change them a bit and use them as gift bags for christmas. I used a couple of red bags, made little holiday scenes with about $1 worth of felt and hot glue, and zig-zag stitched them on top of the printed words. They came out a lot better than I thought they would. Is it rude to ask for the bags back?

If you don't have any tote bags on hand, you can get them for $1 at Hobby Lobby or Michaels and it's so much more personal, reusable, and about the same price as buying those glossy, already printed gift bags. You can also use them for birthdays, baby showers, or any occasion!

And yes I know, there is no santa because he seemed too hard and there are no reins because they cluttered up the scene. Does that make it look off?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Scrappy Alphabet

Last month was Sew, Mama, Sew's Scrapbuster month and there were soooooooo many good ideas for how to use up all your scraps to make something cute/practical. Check it out if you get a chance. That is where I got this idea for the alphabet.

These are easy but they kind of take a while to finish the whole set. So if you're giving this as a gift, don't try to make it last minute. It's 2 layers of fabric with two layers of cotton batting in the middle. Trace the printed out letter on the fabric and sew along the mark. The person who made this tutorial says to cut out the small holes on letters like B or Q or R first and then sew around the edge, but I sewed first and cut them out later and it worked fine. Just do both and find which way is easier for you.

I got the reversible drawstring bag tutorial from Yarnmonster. I love these bags. They are so easy and quick. The ABC is one layer of felt sewed on.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Play Dough

This play dough recipe is from my mom who calls it, "the definitive recipe for play dough". She won't have anything to do with store bought play dough because she likes this recipe so much better. I have to agree with her. When I made this recipe for my boys this week I was swimming in feelings of nostalgia and appreciation for my mom. I remember well getting to choose my color, stir the mixture as it thickened, and then massage the warm dough with my little hands. I also remember licking the salty residue off my fingers after playing with my dough. I caught Luke doing the exact same thing.

I could go on and on about the benefits of these types of real life and tactile activities for little ones. They need to use their hands to experience things, develop their fine motor skills, learn some basic chemistry, and enjoy open ended creative outlets. The most important thing, however, is that play dough is really fun. It spans all ages and abilities.

Gather ingredients:

1 cup water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
food coloring

Combine in saucepan and stir well.
Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture becomes thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about two or three minutes.

Cool slightly and knead until smooth.
Proceed to make ninja turtles.

This recipe will keep a very long time in an airtight container.

P.S. I tried (and failed) to post my bio in the about us post. So here goes:

I am Carrie. I just turned 31 and live in the Washington DC metro area with my husband and our three boys. Luke is five and a half, Noah just turned three and Isaac will be a year old next week. I am not sure when my love of crafting started. I was well into college before I started to see myself as creative. I had many an epiphany about my creative abilities while taking my required art class. I try and find ways to spend more time sewing, scrapbooking, cooking, and taking pictures than I spend running errands, cleaning or picking up Legos. I will admit though, sometimes the Legos win.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Felt gift for kids #2

These headbands were inspired by Talane's sweet baby Lily. She has some like these and I thought they were so cute. So I made some of my own for my 2 nieces (and one on the way!). The flower looks so misshapen because I sewed it with no template, but I kind of like the asymmetry. I made a template for the bird and the wing to make it a little easier. The LSU tiger stripes had to be hot glued on because it looked really messy when i was trying to sew them on. I also glued together the two felt layers (I was getting lazy). When sewing onto the elastic band, make sure you don't go through both layers of the felt so the stitches will not show on the front side.

I got the elastic at Jo-Ann's for $0.80 a yard, but they only had black, white, or cream. If you know where I can get some colored elastic, I would love you forever.

Monday, November 9, 2009

La Pastina

So, there was supposed to be a picture with this post. But, I got so excited about eating it that I totally forgot to take a picture. Then, I went to look online for a photo and came across this recipe that not only looks amazing, but is totally going to overshadow my simple recipe here. Still, the basic recipe is great to know because it's a starting place for a whole lot of yummy variety.

For those of you who don't know, I was a missionary in Italy for a year and a half. I'm no Italian, but I like to think I know my way around pasta if only slightly better than the average American. Pastina literally means little pasta. It's mostly a kid's meal, but adults eat it too. It is soooo good when it's cold outside. And it's even better when you're sick. The ingredients are simple and easy on the body and still a bit nutritious.

You can find pastina in the pasta isle, in baggies usually, or little boxes. My favorite shape is stars, but you'll also find orzo and little ditalini (tiny circle tubes).

To make pastina, you want 1 part pasta, 2 parts water. If you're making it for yourself, use 1/2 cup pastina and 1 cup water. Bring the water to a boil, adding a bouillon cube and a healthy drizzle of olive oil while the water is heating up. When boiling, add the pasta. Stir, stir, stir until the pasta is cooked. These little guys are really good at sticking to the bottom of the pot. If it's getting toward the end, and the water is almost gone (it will look like the pasta itself is boiling, there won't be excess water) but the pasta isn't quite cooked, feel free to add more water a bit at a time until the noodles are done. Taste it towards the end and add a little salt if it needs it, but it usually doesn't. Pour it into a bowl, add as much parmesan cheese as you like, and enjoy! It's good, easy comfort food.

And there's a lot you can do with this basic recipe. There's really no limit, as the link above so effectively demonstrates. A few other simple ideas:
- when you add the pasta, drop in some frozen peas.
- if you want more of a soup, use less pasta or more water...duh.
- when it's done, add diced tomato, fresh mozzarella, and a little basil.
- add a little bit of canned diced tomato with juice and some white beans and whatever italian herbs you like (I'm always partial to basil).

This is so simple and easy, I really kind of feel silly posting it here. But, it tasted so good tonight (I'm feeling a little under the weather) and it's something I always come back to...Hope you like!

Felt gift for kids #1

There are quite a few babies in my family right now and I wanted to make something that was original and just for the twins birthday. So, this is what came out, felt bracelets. If you want a quick, cute and inexpensive gift, this is great.

For the girls, I drew the flower outline on paper and cut it out as a template. Then I used the template to cut two felt flowers, sewed them together by just following the edge of the flower (that was kind of tedious and difficult). Then I did the same thing with another layer of the flower, the leaf, and band. I arranged the flowers how i liked them, cut a tiny hole in the middle, put the ring on the back of button through, and then sewed everything together nice and tight (because it will probably be roughed up a little). Then I arranged the leaf and sewed it on. I had to make sure that I wasn't going through both layers of the felt with the needle so thread wouldn't show on the front. With the band, I couldn't measure the kids wrist until I got to the party, so I had to guess how long it should be. When we got to the party and they opened the gift, I then measured and hammered snaps in the right spot.

I found that sewing a flower straight on to two layers of felt with no template is wayyyyy easier, but it doesn't come out as neat. But I kind of like the asymmetrical look (as you'll see in my next post).

The only thing I don't like about these is that when the kids opened them, they didn't jump up and down with excitement (like I did when I saw the end product of these). But, that's 2 year-olds for you. I hope they like them and want to wear them at least sometime. Oh well, I love them anyway.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

One more thing from the Halloween party

I made this by taking a photo we took of this painting, cropping it so that it was just the girl, developed it at Costco for just a few dollars, then splattered it with blood (acrilic paint) to make it look evil. I painted a knife in her hand, slit her throat, and put blood dripping everywhere. This was a fun decoration to make for my party and really cheap.

I also made this bunting on the cheap. I took colors that went with the season and cut out equal sized triangles. Then I just sewed them together with a zigzag stitch. It can be reused for any party. The rats on the wall are the martha stewart rats.
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Just in time for the holidays

Let me warn you now, this tutorial is extremely detailed with lots of pictures to explain even further the steps and tricks. These candy apples are kind of my husband’s thing and he threatened to never make them again if I didn’t write this up thoroughly.

4 apples (granny smith preferably)

1 14 oz. bag of Caramels

2 tbsp milk

6 oz chocolate (milk or white)

2 tbsp unflavored shortening

Whatever toppings you want!

First, wash the apples and dry them completely. The wax on store bought apples will keep the caramel from sticking. Once washed and dried, place them in the refrigerator so that they are cold when you dip them.

We like using Kraft brand caramels since they taste great and popsicle sticks come in the bag. Push the popsicle sticks in the apples making sure you don’t break through the bottom (1) and place them on a large plate that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

In a double boiler, start melting the caramels and add 2 tbsp of milk (2). Make sure to keep stirring until all the candies are melted smooth(3).

When all of the candies are melted, remove from heat, tilt to the side, dip your apple, and roll all the sides in the caramel (4). You must be quick about this as the cold apples will help the caramels stick to the apple but if you leave the apple in too long it will re-melt the caramel off of the apple.

When most of the apple is covered, let the excess drip off and scrape the caramel off of the bottom of the apple with a spoon to make it flat (so it sits upright on the plate). They should be so shiny that you can see yourself in them (5). If you have extra, just pour it on top of the apples to totally cover them with caramel (6). You don’t have to worry about it not being smooth because it will be covered up with chocolate and toppings!

We use Ghirardelli melting chocolate because we got a good deal on them, but you can use whatever chocolate you want (7). In a double boiler, start melting the chocolate and add 2 tbsp of shortening. When the chocolate is melted smooth, take it off the heat and let it cool to about room temperature.

You can use anything you want for toppings. Prepare your toppings by chopping them into small chunks. We use a food mill which is like a small food processor. We like this because it doesn’t turn our toppings into a powder. Spread whatever toppings you want on large plates (8).

When the chocolate is cool, dip and roll the apples in the chocolate (9), allow the excess chocolate to drip off and re-dip if you like. You must wait for chocolate to go from shiny to a dull matte and then roll them in the toppings (10).

Refrigerate them for 15 minutes and they’re ready to eat (11)! We found that a tic tac toe cut works best for serving (12).

These are combinations that we found we really liked:

-White chocolate/Oreo

-White chocolate/Brown sugar and cinnamon

-Milk chocolate/Butterfinger

-Milk chocolate/pecans

-or you can mix them all together!

Sorry this tutorial was so long, but these are just so tasty and I wanted to share it with everyone!

A Hoot!

Sorry it's been awhile since I've posted anything...we've been so busy!!! A tiny sliver of that busy-ness was making my baby girl's first Halloween costume. I used this pattern from Martha Stewart. The pattern calls for regular white felt for the front "feathers" but there was some fuzzy white felt on the shelf with the regular stuff and I thought fuzzy would be more fun. Also, if you go to the link and look at the picture of the baby wearing the costume, you'll see that that baby seems perfectly happy wearing those goggles. Marian resisted them at all costs. There was screaming, pushing, and even tears. So I didn't push it.

My husband and I wanted to keep our costumes low key, so we figured we'd go thematic. A few felt leaves stitched to headbands and gloves, a little bird's nest with a few eggs in it, color-appropriate clothing, and we were all set. Easy, and nothing spectacular.

Disclaimer: the lighting wasn't working for us when we were taking these pictures, and so they suck.

Apple Crumble

I took my favorite recipe from Jen and used apples instead. I took 3 apples, pealed cored and chopped and put them in a skillet with 4 T butter and about 1/4 c water. I heated them over medium until the apples were almost like applesauce (with some just a little thick or tough). I made the incredibly easy crumble topping, placed them in the ramekins and baked them according to the recipe. Top with vanilla ice cream. There you have it, another hit.
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Sew Serendipity

I bought a few patterns from Serendipity Studios and this shirt and skirt are what I have made so far. If any of you live in the area (Houston) I will gladly lend my patterns to you. The shirt is made from her Olivia Dress pattern, and the skirt from her Emaline Skirt pattern. These are great patterns to have because they are easy to follow and manipulate or change to create something unique. They are a good base to go off of.
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Sewing Group #4

I made the Katiedid quilt. I think I might embroidery my nephews name on it. What d oyou think?
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Halloween Party - Malone Style!

Adam and I (above) hosted a Halloween party at our house this year. I wanted to share the costumes and some of the ideas. We got our pictures from the favorite children's book Where the Wild Things Are. I am Max in my wolf suit and Adam is a wild thing! I got the tutorials for our headdresses (i coulsn't think of a better word! hats?) here: Max, Wild Thing
Chris Brown (above)won a prize for most creative costume. He was a bacon eating robot. Kallan and Joseph (she has already posted their costumes) won best couple. Adam won best overall. It was really hard to vote because there were such great costumes.

Steve and Kalina Broadbent pulled this off nicely!
This is my little nephew - what a charming and short vampire!
My bushy tail and my witchy-witch of a sister Candace!
Megan looks Awesome!

Bosc pears with skull name tags for guests to take on their way out.
Megan Hicks made this pumpkin look easy to make - I don't know how she did it but it was AWESOME!

I did not take any photos, so I am at the mercy of Kalina (the official photographer of the evening) to share hers. She is posting them little by little as she has time to work on them here, if you want to check them out.