Jan 30 2015

Organized spice jars make finding spices easier

Published by under Cooking,Crafts

Spice jars

Here’s a post that I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Had the pictures, but got waylaid by life. Better late than never!

Spice jars are one of those items that always seem to end up a crazy mess. Partly it’s because the ones you get in the rotating ones never hold a full jar. So I end up with lots of half empty jars that sit in a pile. See picture below for evidence:

Old spice set

Old spice rack

And above is an example of the rotating spice rack. I really loved this rack — smooth turning, very pretty. But the jars just didn’t hold enough. And when the tops got too hot they exploded off (hence the empty spot you see).

Spice jars -- cleaned

So I researched jars and found these jars above, shown after cleaning them before pouring in the spices. Reasons I like them:

  • they’re made of Italian glass
  • they’re 5 oz and most store bought spice bottles are 4 oz, so they hold at least one spice jar (no extra jars floating around)
  • they’re just around 3 in tall which fit in the drawer which I wanted to put them in
  • they have nice wide mouths which is good for inserting measuring spoons
  • they have screw top lids to keep spices fresher
  • they are a super cute shape — kinda square so they line up nicely

Spice jars

I made up labels for the jars using my Silhouette. I measured how big I wanted the labels and put those as a cutting circle. Then I put a dashed circle in that, the name of the spice and cute little flower icon. I cut them out of some generic white full page sticker paper.

For those curious, the font is Apple Butter and the flower is also from a font, Floralia. I’ve put the files up on my Silhouette Designs page available for personal use in case you want to see how I did it or want to use them yourself if you buy the same type of jars. 

Spice jars

I placed my labels on jar lids and then filled the jars accordingly and put them in my drawer where they were the perfect height. Of course, they are alphabetized. And I love them. They make finding my spices so much easier and fun to to use!

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Jan 27 2015

New Year’s Eve Kransekake

Published by under Cooking

New Year's Eve Kransekake

Time for a food post. For New Year’s Eve I wanted to make a cake since my parents were coming to celebrate with me. I decided to make a Norwegian celebration cake known as a kransekake because we all love the almond-y flavor and it looks cool.

Kransekake molds

I had made one a while ago, but it had been some time so I didn’t really remember how to (in fact, the first time I wrote this post, I thought it was the first time until I found the old post). I used a recipe from a Norwegian cookbook I received a few years ago and used a slightly different technique from last time. Here’s the recipe:

Cake:

  • 500 g powdered sugar
  • 500 g powdered sugar
  • 4 egg whites

Frosting:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp lemon juice for flavor

I verified the basic idea and the techniques by watching some videos on YouTube. All in all it isn’t that difficult.

Kransekake ingredients

You basically weigh out the ingredients (the powdered sugar and almond flour are above). I had almond flour from making macarons on hand so I didn’t even need to grind almonds like last time although I suspect grinding my own would have given me more of the texture I’m accustomed to.

Kransekake dough

Then you add in the egg whites, pipe it into the molds (sorry I don’t have a picture of this — it was fun) and bake for 10 minutes or so. Let the tiers cool, and then glue them together with the frosting that’s drizzled on with each later. Last time I rolled out the dough but I think I prefer the piping method since the wreaths are more even.

Overall, I’m pretty proud with how mine turned out! My parents and husband and I enjoyed it. It was a little more marzipan-y than I like so maybe I’ll reduce the sugar next time.

It’s also traditional to add little flags. I printed those out on my printer, folded in half and put some sticky between them with a toothpick and voila. Happy new year! And, as they say in Norwegian, godt nytt år!

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Jan 25 2015

Collette Seamwork 3001: Oslo

Published by under Sewing

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I recently subscribed to the Collette patterns e-magazine Seamwork. For $6 per month, you get a digital magazine full of useful and informative articles (I’ve enjoyed both issues so far) and at least 2 patterns. The patterns are the type you should be able to do in a couple hours which is awesome. Because those are my favorites. I signed up for it because the patterns from the first issue looked interesting and I know Collette patterns has a reputation for quality patterns.

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I was excited to try out Oslo, a cardigan, because I’m always cold and looking for something to toss over my shoulders. I decided to make it out of a striped cotton/modal jersey I had. Super comfy fabric and I love the colors. I thought this would be something nice to keep my shoulders warm. Unfortunately the stripes were a BAD idea. They brought out every anal retentive tendency I have in trying to make the stripes line up. It drove me nuts. This would have been a super simple pattern if I hadn’t hemmed and hawed at each step trying to get things line up just so. OMG. Crazy-making.

However, look at those stripes lining up! I got a little better by the time I sewed the collar. Don’t look at the side seam.

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The other thing that I was silly about was the taping of the pattern together. Because I didn’t want to bother driving to a kinkos or pay them to print me a large format copy, I just printed the pages and taped them together. Well this was 46 pages to make the pattern. It took close to 3 episodes of Castle for me to finish taping it together and then trace because I wasn’t cutting up my handwork — what if I needed a different size?! (Which was good forethought on my part since I would use a different size next time.) The upshot is that next time I’m just going to print it on a large format unless it’s less than 10-12 sheets.

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Anyhow, moving along, I did get it done. There were a couple of bumps (the instructions weren’t as clear I would have liked about the cuffs), but overall it went smoothly and I’m mostly happy with how it came out. It’s very comfortable and I love the style, especially the collar. However, I think the pattern sizing is very much based on chunkier sweater knits and not the light ones. They recommend going with a larger size if you’re between sizes. I was between the XS and S so I went with the S (which is what I usually am in RTW anyhow) and it’s frankly a bit large. It works and I’ll use it if my mom doesn’t want it, but I’m going to offer it to her first.

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Other than the stripes, this was my first time using a twin needle and I love how it looked. So proud of myself for conquering that demon! I was previously kinda afraid to use it on something I really cared about.

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Another fun thing I did was the shoulder seam. The pattern calls for clear elastic which I didn’t have and JoAnn’s didn’t carry it and you know when you’re in the middle of a project and you just want to finish it now? Yeah, that’s how I was. I just wanted to get it done. So I remembered that when I made my Sewaholic Renfrew top, I used grosgrain ribbon in the shoulder seam. Okay, only sorta. I was actually wearing my Renfrew top while I was making this cardigan and so I just looked at the shoulder seam to see what I did. Anyhow, when I was at JoAnn’s I picked up some cute gray patterned grosgrain and used that. It’s one of those details that no one sees because not only is it inside, but it’s also on the side of the seam that’s hidden, but I know. Somehow I think that makes it even more special.

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I might make it again. We’ll see. I know the next time it would be super fast (and not just because I wouldn’t use stripes). But I just ordered another cardigan pattern that I want to try. Maybe I’ll do that one in a sweater knit. But this is a good basic to come back to. I leave with a view from the back.

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Jan 19 2015

UFO: Hemmed Jeans

Published by under Sewing

Hemmed Jeans

Posting to keep track of all the unfinished objects I’m actually finishing. These were a pair of jeans that were too long. They probably languished in my UFO pile for nearly a year. But now they’re hemmed! I’ve already worn them twice this week!

You might be able to see that my stitches look fine from the front, but are a little meh from the back (inside of pant leg). I think I might need to get my machine tuned up but I’m definitely a little wary after hearing horror stories of machines coming back worse than before they went in . . . so we’ll see.

Also a gratuitous shot of my pup looking adorable as she sleeps. Technically the bed is a completed UFO, too. One of the dogs had an “accident” on it. So I took out all the clothes that it was stuffed with, washed & folded them to be donated and filled with stuffing. It’s probably more comfortable for her now and certainly lighter and easier for me to toss in the wash.

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Jan 17 2015

McCall’s 3017: Flannel Pig Pajamas Pants

Published by under Sewing

Pigs in Pajamas in Pig Pajamas!!!

Yes. That is correct. This is Pigs In Pajamas in pig pajamas. So meta.

Although that picture makes me looked a little bloated and pasty. Oy. Phone cameras.

I’d had this fabric for well over a year. Maybe 2. I’d seen in the store and knew I need some pajama pants out of it. NEEDED.

But I didn’t know how much fabric I would need so I just grabbed 2 yards figuring that would be enough. Well, it was a little short for this pattern, but since I too am short, it worked out as you can see above. And I finally used both a pattern and fabric from my stash. Double win!

McCalls3017

I used McCall’s 3017 which I think may be out of print. Here’s my Pattern Review review:

Pattern Description:
Pajama pants, shorts and tops.

??Pattern Sizing:
?The one I bought had XS, S, and M. I made the Medium based on the back measurements. They’re definitely roomy.??

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it??
Yes.

??Were the instructions easy to follow?
?Very easy. But the pattern is so basic you don’t even really need them.??

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
?Super easy. Super fast.??

Fabric Used:?
Some super cute flannel I picked up maybe a year ago, maybe 2 years. I bought it with the intention of making pajama pants and it just took me forever to do so.??

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:?
Shortened — here’s why:?
So, I bought the fabric 1-2 years ago and when I saw it I loved it and had to have some PJs out of it. But I didn’t have any patterns on me though I knew I had at least 1 maybe 2 for pajama pants at home. I figured, eh, 2 yards should be enough. The pattern actually calls for 2.625 yards. But I was able to lay the two pattern pieces out and just fold over each evenly (so I didn’t even cut the pattern!). I ended up taking off about 4 inches. Fortunately, I’m short so this actually ended up making the pants the perfect length based on how I wear them (rolled down twice and around my low hip). I figured if they ended up too short, I could just make some cuffs out of the extra fabric.??

If I were to do it again, I would shorten it in the crotch area. It’s pretty long through there since I don’t wear them at my waist. Maybe. Like I said, I kinda like them how they are.??

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others??
Totally. It was super fast. I’ve gotten so much wear out of it already. Just need to find more perfect fabric.??

Conclusion:
?Great pattern. Great first project.

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Jan 15 2015

Hello, 2015

Published by under Sewing

Cutting jeans for a quilt

Well, we made it to another year. I hear this year is supposed to be quite the year (hopefully we actually get hover boards but I’m not going to hold my breath).

This year is all about making a clean slate. Clear out the old so I have time for the new. Get my unfinished project pile down to nothing. As you can see above, I’m chopping up some old jeans. I tend to wear out all my jeans in one place and at that point, they are obscene, unwearable and there’s a draft. I feel horribly guilty just throwing out perfectly good fabric, so I finally started chopping up the legs into 6” x 6” squares. When I have a enough, I’m going to make a quilt out of them. I’m actually getting pretty close. Just a couple more pairs. I get about 16 squares out of each pair. I figure with the all the denim it’ll probably be pretty manly so maybe I can give it to one of my brothers.

In the mean time, my focus on this blog has changed a bit. Blogging in general seems to have changed. Dare I say lost it’s popularity? At any rate, I plan on using this blog more as a repository for what I’m accomplishing that I can look back on than anything else.

Happy new year!

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Mar 10 2014

Birthday Tea Party

Published by under Cooking,Crafts

Goodie bag

For my birthday this year, I invited my friends to a tea party. Seeing as I was having a birthday party, I couldn’t very well not have goodie bags.

Goodie bags

The gold takeout boxes are actually leftover from the candy bar from my wedding over 5 years ago. I’ve kept them that long. I know. I kept thinking I’d have a use for them. Well, I still have a ton more so I’ll have to find something else. It’s really been too long. I used my Silhouette to cutout the labels after I’d printed them out. I used this cute little tea party graphic from the online store that I colored in the Silhouette software. I expanded then border of the outside line to make a scalloped cutting line. I love the way they came out and it was so simple!

Goodie bag filling

I wanted to fill the good bags with tea themed gifts. So I put a couple of tea bags (I used some by Tea Forté since they came in cool pyramid boxes). I made some charms for identifying your tea cup. I made some sugar gems for sweetening your tea. And since it was Valentine’s time, I picked up a bag of yummy chocolates and added a handful to each bag as well.

Tea charms

I made the tea charms using girly themed charms from Michael’s that include hairbrushes, shoes, purses, hearts, etc. I attached them to an earring hoop and just turned up the end so they were easy to take on and off. Then I made a little backing card for them that said “This tea is for me!”. I used an exacto knife to put two little slices in the backing card so I could slip the ring through it.

Sugar gem ingredients

For the sugar gems, I used the Martha Stewart recipe. I’ve actually had this mold since I first read about the recipe in Martha Stewart, but I never had a reason to make them. Now I finally did!

Making sugar gems

I made two different types: a plain one that I made pink and a lemon flavored one that I made yellow. They didn’t come out perfect — not quite as faceted as I would have liked because I my thermometer wasn’t a true candy thermometer — but they still came out sparkly and gem like. For my first time out, I was happy with them.

Sugar gems

I put them in little bags and made the labels on my Silhouette. These labels I designed myself.

Everyone loved the goodie bags and we had a great time! Wonder what I will do for next year . . . :)

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Mar 03 2014

Baby quilt for a baby shower

Published by under Sewing

Baby quilt wrapped up

My college roommate is having her first baby (yay!) and was having a surprise shower this weekend. I would have loved to attend, but by the time I found out about it, my parents had been scheduled to visit me for many months so that was a no-go. However, I still wanted to give her something special, not just something off the registry so I decided to make her a baby quilt.

Baby quilt fabric

As it turns out, I had the perfect set of 8 Sommerville Spring fat quarters (which was good since I’m still on my “only use stuff in my stash” kick). Cute and perfect for a little kid. Although it’s a girl, this would work for a boy or a girl which I figured was good in case they were trying to avoid gender stereotypes or something like that (not that she’s really the kind to worry about that sort of thing). I cut each fat quarter into 3 5.5″ x 20″ strip. Then I sewed them together into one long massive strip using the same repeating order of strips, an order which nicely separated the very green strips by less green strips. Then I cut the super long strip into 11 42″ wide strips, varying the starting and ending panel sizes, maybe adding an extra piece here and there so it was more random and organic looking.

Baby quilt on backing

I stitched all the strips together and then sliced down the sides to make them nice and even. The resulting width was about 40″. I laid it on the batting (I used Warm & Natural batting in baby quilt size, also from my stash) and then laid that on the backing which I pieced together using two pieces. For the backing I used a bright pink tie dyed fuchsia snuggle flannel. It was super cozy and I hope the little lady likes it. I was pretty happy with how it brought out the bits of pink in the quilt.

Baby quilt pinning

For the actual quilting, I used large pins to pin the layers together, trying to keep the pins no more than 6″ apart. I stitched across, parallel to the strips, doing 1/4″ on either side of each seam and one down the center of each strip. I switched directions on each line of stitching to prevent the quilt from starting to drift in either direction.

Baby quilt binding

For the binding I used the method from Made by Rae which just folds over the backing. I liked this because I would have made the binding the backing color anyways and it was super easy and clean looking! I was really happy with how it turned out and would definitely use this method again.

Baby quilt

This is before i washed it. Before sending it off, I washed it because it had some stitch markings on it and also because I think quilts always look better after a washing. This is technically only the 3rd quilt I’ve ever finished (if you don’t count my tester long arm quilts — 5th in that case — but those are tiny) and I’m definitely inspired to do more since it was both satisfying and fun to make. The 2nd one was another baby quilt for our other college roommate when she had her first baby a couple years ago. Coincidentally that quilt was also a similar shade of green but my quilting skills have increased considerably since then. :)

Baby quilt

For the actual packaging, I took the strips of backing fabric that I had cut off and made a long sash of it by folding it in half and then folding the raw edges in and stitching down the both sides. Then I used that as a ribbon to wrap up the quilt, put that in a bag with a card and mailed it off. Can’t wait to hear what she thinks of it!

Baby quilt wrapped up

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Jan 26 2014

Purple and Pink Pettiskirt

Published by under Sewing

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I finally made a pettiskirt! First, I love ruffles. Ruffles are amazing. So naturally I wanted needed a pettiskirt because they are ruffley and wonderful. I think the first time I found out about pettiskirts was this post on Make It Love It. However, she recommended AFC Express for nylon chiffon and on there I found their tutorial which starts here. They’ve got some great videos that really explain it.

This isn’t the best tutorial because I really wanted to get this done and so forgot to take some photos during some of the more important parts. I will definitely be making another pettiskirt so I will try to take more photos then.

More ruffles

Before I explain how I did it, a couple of shout outs:

AFC Express — This is where I got my nylon chiffon (I listed my colors below in case you want similar ones). They have a great selection (you can mail them via their website to get a sample of their colors). But even more importantly they have amazing customer service. I accidentally put the wrong shipping address on my order so it was returned to them. A dude with a cool NY accent called me, got the right address and shipped it out that day — and they didn’t even charge me for the error when it was my fault! These people are amazing. I can’t wait to pick out my next selection for my next skirt (after I finish my current UFOs of course . . .)

Sewing Parts Online — I had had a ruffler like this one that I had gotten for $12 on ebay. It never sat right and would always skip stitches when ruffling so that the ruffles were not truly gathered. Just sorta gathered. It made me sad. I looked at videos. I read tutorials. I seemed to be doing everything right although I noticed that the ruffler never really sat flat on my feed dogs. I thought I had the right one since it said it was for Singer. Finally, I posted in one of my G+ communities asking if anyone had any tips on a ruffler and I linked to the one I had. Sewing Parts Online chimed in and told me that I should try a higher quality one. I gave her my Singer model number and they also informed me that I was using the wrong ruffler! I never knew, but my Singer has a slant shank, not a low shank as I thought it did. Sewing Parts Online recommended a high quality slant shank ruffler and it worked amazingly. With my first ruffles I totally freaked out — I was so excited to finally have something I had been trying to get for literally a few years. So many thanks go to Sewing Parts Online for sorting out my ruffler issues and making the pettiskirt possible.

Finally, if you love the look of pettiskirts but can’t be bothered to take the time to make your own (trust me, I get you), then I recommend Pettiskirt Style for purchasing them. I needed a pettiskirt for a photoshoot and they shipped me what I needed so I had it within a week. Great service and responsive on e-mail. They have a great selection or can custom make your skirt and pretty decent prices.

So here’s what I did . . .

Materials:

  • 1 90 yd roll of 2″ chiffon (magic pink glo)
  • 1 60 yd roll of 8″ chiffon (purple)
  • 1 yd of 1″ non roll elastic

Directions:

Using your ruffler foot turn your entire 90 yd roll of chiffon into a pile of ruffles but simply stitching down the middle of the 2″ chiffon. To make this faster, I put a pole through the roll of chiffon and rested that on my legs so I could just let the ruffler do it’s work.

Making bottom ruffles

This will be result:

Ruffles!!!

OMG RUFFLES!! This pile made me so happy. For so long I had wanted ruffles. Now I had oodles.

Next you’ll want to attach the ruffles to your 8″ chiffon. I did this just by sewing down the center seam of my ruffles and attaching it about 1/2″ from the edge of the 8″ chiffon. Sadly I don’t have a photo. This probably took the longest since I had to unwind the 2″ ruffles as I went and they have a tendency to be twisted.

Once you’ve attached that, cut your 8″. I think I had about 60 ft of ruffles-attached-to-8″-chiffon. Next it’s time to attach the 8″ chiffon that you just sewed the ruffles to to another piece of 8″ chiffon, but this time you’ll want to ruffle the first 8″ piece of chiffon as you attach it. Fortunately the ruffler is set up to do this. I think on the AFC videos they recommend against this, but I’m lazy and didn’t want to sew it twice. Was it always even? No. But you can’t really see it with all the ruffles so no biggie.

After that I had about 20 ft of 8″ chiffon. Now cut this in half. Yes, you want two parts.

Cut a piece of solid fabric (to hide the skivvies) that’s 10″ wide and as long as your widest hip measurement with a couple inches buffer.

Next you’ll want to attach each half of your chiffon in the same fashion as you did chiffon to chiffon (ruffling the part you just sewed, but not the new part) to each side of your solid fabric. After you’ve done that, you’ll be folding them over to make a casing for your elastic. You can choose to have the seams all face each other or all face in.

Once you’ve sewn both long sides, make a tube by matching seams of the chiffon and short edges of the solid fabric. I cleaned up this edge after sewing it by just going down with a pair of scissors and making the edge nice and even.

Next, fold over the solid fabric, right down the middle and stitch a line about 1.5″ from the fold, leaving a 2″ gap. Insert the elastic, fit it to your waist, sew the ends together and stitch up your casing.

And that’s it!

What I plan to do differently

I will definitely be making another pettiskirt but there are a couple of things that I will do differently.

  1. I want more ruffles. I’m a total ruffle addict. I think the skirt should be up to my hips in ruffles. Therefore next time I plan to use TWO 90 yd rolls of 2″ chiffon for my bottom ruffle. This will make it take much longer but I think I will be much more pleased with the result.
  2. I want it shorter. This skirt is nice and will look great under a skirt, but I want something more sassy. So my next skirt will probably use 4″ or 5″ for the middle tiers.
  3. It was a bit sheer. This may be because I didn’t have enough ruffles. But if I want to wear my pettiskirt as just a skirt, I need to find some way to make it decent.

 

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Jan 23 2014

Silver Picture Frame

Published by under Crafts

Painted frame

So this is off my UFO list, but it was still working at cleaning stuff up so I allowed it. Also, the only thing that it required buying was some spray paint.

Materials

I started with this little frame that my Bubba gave me. I had it in my kitchen at the old house, but the frame didn’t really match the new house. I am a huge fan of the Virginia at LiveLoveDIY who manages to transform the ugliest things into works of art using spray paint. And I’ve been wanting to try myself. This was the perfect small starter project. So I picked up her recommended silver — Rustoleum Titanium Silver — since we were making multiple trips to Home Depot anyhow.

I took out the picture and glass and wiped down with frame with an alcohol wipe to make sure the surface was clean so the paint would adhere well.

Ready to spray

I used one of the many boxes I had unpacked and dropped the frame in there and began to spray.

Letting the frame dry

I soon realized that I needed to lay the box on it’s side so I could get in there better to get the sides. This took two coats. I let it dry overnight.

Finished frame hanging

And voila! I’m quite happy with how it turned out and it’s now hanging in my kitchen.

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