Sewing Roundup: A Week of Saturdays

Sewing Roundup: A Week of Saturdays

Darling Sister:

I’ve had the week off from work, and have been house-bound with a cold. This means I’ve given myself a pass on housework and socializing, and have spent a great deal of time lazing around, and finally getting to sew some things that had been languishing on my sewing wish list. Since I’m on house arrest and can’t see you, either, here’s a roundup!

First and most importantly, I made you a Mommy Bag. I’m not going to call it a diaper bag, because it’s really more for you than for the baby. I found this fantastic navy woven fabric at Joann, and salvaged the colorful interior fabric from a treasured yard of fabric you bought last summer at Stonemountain and Daughter. The external zipper is a navy separating jacket zipper, the internal one is red nylon. I bought a leather belt and split it in two vertically to make the handles. I hope you love it – it’s super roomy! This fantastic pattern is from the book Handmade Style by Anna Graham.

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Runner-up to a Mommy Bag is a comfy cocoon dress for you to wear. I saw a gal on Instagram had made an Inari Tee Dress, a Named Clothing pattern made for a woven fabric, out of a knit fabric for a maternity dress. Hers was super cute, and I think this one will be darling on you! To make sure you have plenty of room in there, I went up one size from your measured size (also shown here is one of the 1,000 Stowe Bags I made for Christmas gifts…I kept one for meeee).

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Since I had enough leftover fabric from your Inari dress, I made myself an Inari Tee with the scraps! It’s comfy and squishy but looks smart – I’m wearing it right now and feeling fantastic! Since I am NOT hatching a baby, and this pattern is made for wovens, I went DOWN a size to compensate for using a stretchy knit here instead of an ungiving woven. The neck band stretches to fit perfectly as written in the pattern, and I love love love the result. Also note I made a to-sew list by backing an old frameless picture frame (remember when I had a zillion of these hung in my room?) with a favorite fabric scrap, perfect surface for a whiteboard marker.

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For Christmas, I asked our darling momma for some flannel fabric and coordinating piping, with which to make some Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas. This well-written pattern came together quickly – my only regret was choosing flannel for a first try at the pattern – this fabric sticks to itself and made for a frustrating experience at all of the fiddly parts. However, after ripping and reworking almost every seam, I love the result and have been cuddled up in them as often as possible.

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Last, but not least, I’ve been eager to try bra-making. Ladies on the internet are turning out beautiful, useful garments using a variety of  downloadable patterns. I chose the Cloth Habit Watson Bra, a soft cup with a longline option, for my first attempt. I ordered two kits from The Tailor Made Shop – one in black and burgundy to make a trial run, and one in navy for the real deal. The bra kits from Tailor Made come with all the findings and elastic you’ll need, plus elastic options for modifying your bra to have an all-lace upper edge. Here’s the trial run – I’m very happy wit the result! The pattern was clear, and the sewalong that accompanies it was helpful for any tricky part. There are lots of modifications available, and I’m looking forward to refining my results with a second attempt!

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It’s Sunday, which means back to work and the world and stress tomorrow, but I’m feeling so accomplished!

Craftily yours,

Sister

 

Edible Gold Nuggets! (you know how we love gold)

Edible Gold Nuggets! (you know how we love gold)

My Darling Sister,

I attempted a Pinterest craft…and succeeded! For a moment I lost faith, and thought this was going to a Pinterest fail. My motivation was to make cupcakes with gold nuggets for a gold panning theme.

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I purchased black Wilton cupcake papers from Michaels. I like how ripply the edges are. Purchased two cans of Wilton edible gold spray, and blue rock candy from the checkout line. I would have purchased clear if they had it, but the choices were red, purple and blue.

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I lined a vans shoe box with tin foil and parchment paper, to handle all the overspray. 

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I took a wooden spoon and broke the rock candy off the stick and into large pieces while still in plastic package. Then I poured the contents onto a tupperware lid. The spray is very liquid and pools, so I took advantage of that.

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The original poster added lustre dust to the rock candy while wet to add a more yellow-golden hue, but I was too lazy to drive back to Michaels.

The first coat was disappointing. Once it dried, then the second coat really stuck and restored my faith in this Pinterest project.

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It took two cans to coat three packages of rock candy.

I frosted the cupcakes with my trusty recipe for buttercream frosting:

3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 of a stick of softened butter
1  teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 teaspoons of milk (I don’t actually measure that I just add little bits at a time till I like the consistency)
a pinch of salt

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GOLD!

I pushed the gold nuggets into the frosting right after piping onto the tops of the cupcakes, because if you wait too long the frosting gets a nice crust.

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Check out my new super-sweet cupcake carrier/display stand. I couldn’t resist – it collapses down to one tier for storage! Also purchased at Michaels – wish I had one of those coupons I always allow to expire.

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We will have to think of more edible things to gild, sister!

 

Finally, Focus

Finally, Focus

Darling Sister:

Since we moved into this house just before our wedding, we’ve been stumped with what to do with the untamed, sloping, clay-riddled backyard.

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Up to now, our best approach was to pull the clover in the spring, pull the foxtails in the early summer, and wage slow war on the mallows that took over in the fall. This resulted in a heck of a lot of compost, but not a lot of pride in the backyard department.

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I browsed the internet and read gardening magazines, waiting for the perfect plan to hit me; it just never did.

A wise colleague suggested that a perfect yard plan was too precious – that room to riff and try new things was key to being happy with a landscape in the longer term.  That piece of advice, along with an inspirational trip to a friend’s garden – all planter boxes and greenhouses and cheerful clay pots (see header image!)- and I was inspired!

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Fortunately, our darling friend Nicky is a handyman extraordinaire – he’s on the job and texting me lovely photos of our yard-in-progress! I can’t wait to share it with you!

XOXO

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Off the Wall!

Off the Wall!

Darling Sister,

When I left you, we had managed to en-golden the edges of my bookshelves, our fingers, your teeth, and most of my bathroom.  While I considered just leaving them in a pile and admiring them, I figured I needed to get them on the wall, and quick! Thank goodness track shelving was invented for mopes like me.

With a few easy-to-locate items from the hardware store, I had the tracks leveled and aligned, and the shelves fastened down in just over an hour. If you’re the sort who likes to follow directions (I am most certainly in that camp), everything you might need to know is here: Decorative Shelving – Single and Twin Track

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Handily yours, XOXO.

P.S. Just because I never could resist a before-and-after:

 

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That Midas Touch

That Midas Touch

Darling Sister,

I don’t know why you indulge me like you do, but when I decided I must have a bookcase in our upstairs hallway, you were game for a trip to the lumber yard.  Once there, we agonized (well, I agonized, you enabled) over all the beautiful woods that I could never justify buying for a humble bookshelf and settled on a pre-finished maple: deep enough for generous bookshelves and already sanded and sealed. Except! Except the cut ends – hideous!  Somehow, we decided that gilding the cut ends was far preferable to actually…you know…sealing them.  And so, I bring you Gold Everywhere: Winter 2015.

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If you were so inclined, you could similarly en-golden anything in your own home with a few ingredients:

  • gold leaf (or in our case, imitation gold leaf),
  • sizing (sold here with the leaf, but also available at your art supply store where canvas treatments are kept),
  • a stiff brush for applying the sizing (here a stenciling brush), and
  • a soft brush for easing the leaf onto your sticky surface (here a small foam brush).

To begin, brush a moderate amount of sizing on the desired surface.  I’d suggest paying attention to where you’ve applied sizing and cleaning up the edges with a damp rag – everywhere the sizing dries, your gold is going to want to stick.  The sizing dries 15-30 minutes, until tacky but not wet.

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With the patience of a saint, liberate individual leaves of foil from the static-riddled packaging in pieces as large as you possibly can – you’ll get the most pleasing results from large swaths of unbroken leaf.  Ease the leaf onto the tacky surface and gently adhere with your soft brush using a pressing (not wiping!) motion. Once you’ve done the entire piece, you can sweep stray bits off with a gentle touch using your soft brush.

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For maximum bling, repeat the process to create two layers of gold (this enables a slightly smoother result, and also compensates for any gaps you may have missed along the first pass).  Seal to prevent tarnishing or flaking – I used a water-based urethane in a single coat.

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Sit back and enjoy the gorgeous work of an afternoon! A week later, receive a thrill as you vacuum up gold flecks, and feel like Daddy Warbucks.

Next post: the actual bookcase!

XOXO, your partner in crime.

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