Thursday, October 31, 2013

Yellow Rose Baby Dress

This is the first time I've made the Itty Bitty Baby dress by Made by Rae (see pattern here). My cousin is having a baby girl in a couple of months and since the little miss will be born a Texan I thought it would be fun to go with a handmade Texas themed gift. This is the "Yellow Rose of Texas" dress and I'll be finishing the "Stars at Night" dress soon to go along with it.
I don't know if I can go an entire project without adding piping!

Instead of using bias tape to finish the edge, I did a really narrow hem.

I used princes seams and hand stitched the bodice lining down.

This is the finished dress...The pattern doesn't take very long to sew up and is ridiculously cute when it's done. I just hope it fits!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Coming Soon!

We are excited to tell you we are working on opening an Etsy shop! As part of the new venture, we will be changing the name and address of our blog so that everything is coherent. The new blog will have the same content but with a new name and format. Stay tuned for details!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Closet Flashback: Cowboy Vest

I must admit that Rachel's flashback last week brought me way back. Exactly how far back, we will not divulge. Let's just say that might fall into the 'vintage' category pretty soon. This project does not harken back to the days of yore, but it has seen its fair share of use. The vest my son is wearing has been floating around for about 3 years, and it has been used and abused. It was made from some fake suede material I inherited from a friend's grandmother. There was yards and yard of the stuff, and I have made chaps, vests, Daniel Boone pants, and an Indian teepee out of it, among other things. Whatever the fiber content, it has held up amazingly well! It looks great paired with an Under Armour shirt and some flashy green shorts, don't you think?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Crafts To Give! Kids Craft Round Up

I am always on the lookout for quick and easy crafts to make for our shoeboxes. I have posted several craft ideas in the past, and here's a round up of great kids crafts that would be perfect for adding to a shoe box, giving to your favorite kids charity, or for gifting to the special little people in your life!

For more ideas, click here

Friday, October 25, 2013

Foodie Friday: Stuffed Jalapenos

OK, so I'm a little late on the stuffed jalapeno homefront. Despite my love for spicy food and all things Mexican/Tex Mex/Megzican, I had never partaken in this 8th wonder of the world. OK, maybe not the 8th wonder, but they are really good! I found a recipe here and used that as inspiration. And yes, I tried both variations. For my version, I sauteed a few strips of chopped bacon, along with half a small onion, finely diced. While the delicious smell of bacon wafts through your house, prepare the jalapenos. Mine were on the small size and I used about 12. Cut them in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins with a teaspoon.

***It is here that I shall insert a public service announcement: unless you prefer to live on the edge like me, wear gloves! Often I can get away with jalapenos, but you never know when you will get an especially spicy batch and then your hands will burn for hours. And for the record, none of the internet remedies work.***

When the bacon crisps up, throw in a little garlic, about a teaspoon of cumin and a big pinch of oregano. I also added a bit of red chile powder. Saute for another minute. Remove from heat and throw in a generous handful of chopped cilantro and about 1/2 C. of shredded cheese (cheddar, colby jack, whatever floats your boat...) Use mixture to stuff jalapenos and put on a baking sheet. The recipe calls for additional 'batons' of cheese to top each pepper, and as much as I love cheese, I left it off. I did sprinkle a small bit of shredded cheese over each because I had extra. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. The verdict: deeeelicious! The cream cheese version is also fabulous but when it comes to a choice involving bacon, is there really a choice? Its bacon all the way, baby!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Closet Flash Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay Back: Hand beaded, Velvet Bag

A very long time ago, probably circa the late 90s, I needed a fancy bag for some event and my sister lovingly made this for me. I just officially finished unpacking a few days ago and found this carefully tucked away.  
The outer layer is made from black velvet and the inside is lined with a rich, purple colored satin or taffeta (not 100% sure which).
 The fringe is all hand beaded with beautiful leaf and butterfly beads mixed with some tear drops, seed beads and tube beads.
 It has a simple, black, cross body strap and is closed with a loop that goes over a glass butterfly bead.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Foodie Friday (A Day Late): Red Chili with Adobo & Chipotle

I created this recipe when my husband was in grad school. One night I was feeling particularly lazy and only had a few things on hand that led to this combination.
Rachel's Red Chili
 1 29 oz can black beans (I use organic with no salt added)
1 29 oz kidney beans (I use organic with no salt added)
1 - 1 1/2 lbs turkey burger
2-3 minced garlic cloves
1 small red or white onion diced small
olive oil
1/2 - 1 bottle beer (I like to use Guiness or a Porter style)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I use organic)
1 TBS tomato paste (I use organic)
2-3 diced chiles (or whatever heat you can handle) in adobo sauce + extra adobo sauce
Brown the meat in olive oil. Add onions, garlic and chile to meat and cook until softened. Then add the tomato paste and cook slightly until it starts to darken in color. Add beans (in their liquid OR rinse them and add beef, veg or chicken stock instead) and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer then add the beer. Cook for another 15-20 minutes to let the flavors meld and serve with biscuits, corn bread or crackers.
**Note: Sometimes I add Mexican oregano to change up the flavor a little.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Whale Super Tote

I bought the Super Tote pattern from Noodlehead a couple of months ago with the idea that maybe someday Meg and I would open an Etsy shop. Last week I decided to get to work and make a prototype bag out of a Whale print, 21 wale, corduroy that I had banished to the back of my stash. 
I like to vigorously test out the end product myself to see if there are any quirks that need to be smoothed out in future versions. I'm a stickler for stability and I think the original pattern needs it's interfacing requirements to be beefed up significantly. That's really my only qualm though. Other  than that, the bag sewed up beautifully, I love the size and it has endless possibilities. I have at least 25 other versions dancing around in my head that need to be liberated so I better get sewing!
 This picture is just for scale purposes. The finished bag is deceptively huge and holds e v e r y t h i n g with space to spare.
The front of the bag has a large pocket trimmed with white piping.
There is a pretty, pleated gusset detail on the side.
I have to say that the recessed zipper is probably my favorite part. 
There are 4 large, internal pockets with elastic to keep everything in order.
I box stitched the handles for extra stability.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Closet Flashback: Christmas Necklace

Meg made me this necklace for Christmas a couple of years ago and I used to wear it to work a lot to remind me that there was life (and creativity) outside of my stuffy corporate job. When I moved, it was knocked into the depths of my jewelry box and I only recently found it again. I paired it with a long lost cowl neck top and some red lipstick! Yay to finding old treasures :)  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Foodie Friday: Vegan Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

Warning: These cookies are highly addicting.
My mom originally introduced me to the recipe and my husband has since taken up becoming the vegan cookie master. He pretty much has the recipe memorized and can whip up a batch in no time which is a great yet very dangerous thing!
Anyway, the recipe is from and was part of the Holiday Survival Guide.
Here is the recipe adapted from the original website.
 Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3 c organic white spelt flour
  • 1 10-oz package dairy free chocolate chips (the original recipe calls for 2-10oz bags which ends up being an overwhelming amount of chocolate)
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
  • 1 tsp organic sea salt
  • 1 c light-colored agave nectar
  • 1/4 c organic safflower oil (we've tried different types of oil and they've all turned out)
  • 1 tsp organic peppermint oil (*Note: not all peppermint oils are the same potency...less is generally more)
  • 1/2 tsp alcohol-free vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment or a silpat mat.

Mix flour, chocolate, baking soda and salt in one bowl. Then mix agave, oil, peppermint and vanilla in another bowl.

Add the flour mix to the agave mix and stir until well combined.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and the edges are set.

***You're supposed to let them cool to room temperature at this point but I like the gooey, molten chocolate chips right out of the oven. It's a bad habit but whatever!***

Cool on a wire rack and store at room temp for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months (they won't last that long!).

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hemming Jeans

The other day I scored a deal that I couldn't pass up. I was at the Gap and found a pair of 1969 jeans in my size for $6.80! The only problem was that they were extra long and while I'm tallish and wear high heels, they still dragged on the ground. I did some Googling and learned the secret to modifying your own jeans while keeping the original hemline.
It's almost preposterously easy and took me about 15 minutes. 
Here's a basic rundown of the procedure.
1) Find the shoes you'll be wearing with the jeans because they will be dictate how much to shorten them.
2) With your  trusty shoes and long jeans on, turn up the hem (the rights sides of denim will be facing each other) until you reach the proper length.
3) Measure the "cuff" that you've turned up from the bottom of the leg to right under the original hem (don't include the original hem in the measurement) and divide this number by two. For example, I turned mine up 2.5" so the new number I needed to work with was 1.25".
4) Take this new number and very accurately turn up, press and pin the cuff in place based on that measurement.
5) Using a zipper foot carefully stitch around the leg opening (the right sides of denim will be facing each other so you'll be stitching on the wrong side) as close to the original hem as possible.
6) Turn the freshly sewn line into the inside of the leg and press the new seam on the outside well. 
7) Once the new hemline is pressed you may want to tack down the extra material inside on each side seam (I did this so the extra fabric didn't flop around). If you took a lot of length out you may want to serge the extra material off instead. Either way, you're done!
 This is a before/after shot. On the left you can see how they drag on the ground and after they are the perfect length.
 This is what the hem looks like when it's all pressed and ready to go. You have to look really hard to see the line when they're actually on.
This is the inside shot after they are stitched and tacked down permanently.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Closet Flashbacks: Kindergarten Backpack

Twas over 2 years ago when I sent my oldest off to Kindergarten. *sniff, sniff* He had requested that I make him a backpack, and so I did. It ended up being the demise of my old sewing machine, but I finished it. The pattern is self-drafted, which is really just a fancy way of saying I busted out my meager math skills, drew it on some newsprint and hoped for the best. I have to say, it has held up to everything we've thrown at it, and that's a lot! My oldest used it for 2 years til he outgrew it, and it has been on many other little trips as well. Now it has been passed on to the little guy, who started preschool last week. He proudly stuffed his folder, his stuffed giraffe, a snack and a box of crayons in there and he was ready to go! This is one of those projects that was definately worth the work!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Foodie Friday: Tomatillo Green Chile Ketchup

You may be asking yourself: just what exactly is a tomatillo? If you are unfamiliar with this mysterious fruit, they look like this:

They are actually not related to tomatoes. Sometimes referred to as a husk tomato, they are cousins of the lowly ground cherry. Tomatillos are a bit tart and kind of lemony, except not. Boy, I'm destined to become a food writer aren't I? They are great fresh in salsas, in a stew, or made into ketchup. What!? Yes, it sounds weird but it is terribly delicious. I recently stumbled upon a recipe for Tomatillo Green Chile Ketchup, from Marissa McClellan. She writes a great canning blog called Food In Jars, and developed this recipe for Saveur magazine. I knew I had to try it. I doubled the batch (that's how optimistic I was) and it was really, really good! So good I have since made another double batch of it.

Tomatillo Green Chile Ketchup

  • 2 lb. tomatillos, chopped (I skip the chopping)
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup minced onion (or rough chop, if you're me...)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 (4-oz.) can roasted green chiles (I used fresh roasted green chiles, poblanos and anaheims to be exact)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
Put all ingredients in a large pot and simmer til softened. Use an immersion blender to puree til smooth (see...that's how you can skip all the chopping!). Simmer til thickened to your liking. Keep in mind it will thicken a bit more as it cools also. If you'd like, it can be processed in a water bath for 15 minutes, or just store in the refrigerator. Makes 3 cups. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quick and Easy Belt: Vintage Trim

All my kids are skinny little thangs. In fact, my youngest perpetually hikes up his pants even when they are not falling down. He's just used to his pants slowly creeping down. My daughter has the same problem and not all jeans have the wonder that is the adjustable waist. To solve the dilemma, I made her a super quick belt from a piece of vintage trim I found at the thrift store. I hemmed the end, sewed on some D rings and voila! The pants stay on! This technique would also work for an adult, but I think it would be best to stabilize it with a webbing or fabric base.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Yellow Rose of Texas Dress (B5748) - Part 1 (Hand-Picked Zipper Attempt)

I finally finished a project but spoiler alert: this post is only about the zipper installation.  
 This retro 60s Butterick pattern (5748) has an inset side zipper that calls for a center lapped installation. I don't like lapped-style but since it was a retro pattern I decided to give hand-picking  a whirl to keep in the spirit of the vintage style. It's actually a really easy and quick process that makes it possible to adjust as you go. When it was all stitched up it looked like the first picture on the inside and like the second picture on the outside. If you look really closely on the second picture you can see the little "nips" where the thread came through (it's supposed to look like that). 
 On the hanger the zipper looked perfect but gaped at the waist seam when it was actually on (one reason why I never used lapped). I ripped out the stitches and tried again to tweak it but had the same issue the second time. I didn't feel like giving it a third go and instead just installed my good 'ol usual invisible zip.
 All of this to say that, while hand-picking didn't work for this particular project, it was a good new process to learn (I found this tutorial from Sewaholic extremely helpful). A stiffer fabric would've worked really well and in the future I would definitely try this again. I LOVE vintage styles and am always looking to learn new ways to add "authentic" vintage-type details to the things I make. This style of zipper is definitely a way to do that and helps me get over my exclusiveness with invisible installation!