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Monday, November 25, 2013

Don't Cut These Apron Strings

If you follow my blog, you probably get an idea that I adore aprons.  I have an earlier post that gives details of National Tie One On Day, which is the day before Thanksgiving.  I've made a few aprons and can't decide which will be the one to give away.  They are all so pretty, I think whomever receives it will be happy to get any of them.

I am not a professional seamstress.   I am learning to sew via YouTube and asking anyone who will listen a whole lot of questions.  Apron kits really appeal to me because I don't have to worry about a pattern or buying and matching materials.  They also seem to be less expensive than buying a pattern plus the material.  Each "kit" can be a different pattern.  I have also started tracing the cut out apron onto paper.  Doing this allows me to make another one by using the first one that I cut out as a pattern (but I still have to buy and match material).

The more I make, the more I learn.  I'm learning to hide some of my seams by not following the directions exactly. 

The very first apron I made, was one I gave to my sister for her birthday.  I didn't have my dress form at the time and my husband refused to let me take a picture of him while he modeled it.  He's a manly man ;)

Here's what it (mostly) looked like.  The printing at the top was a little off, so the collar didn't quite look like a collar.  Nonetheless, it was still pretty.  The flounce at the bottom gave it feminine details that I like.

Domestic Diva by Daily Kingdom
Then, I made this one.  I ended up giving it to a friend of mine who just raved at how pretty it was.  I would like to make another to wear for myself, if I can find another kit.  Apparently, this one is discontinued.  Sometimes the joy we bring to others outweighs discontinued items.

Domestic Diva by Daily Kingdom

If you want to start simple (like no flounce to frustrate you), this next apron is what I would recommend.  I love Emily Taylor designs.  The fabric colors are beautiful.

On this one, I folded the ties in half before I sewed them, as the directions stated.  It made them small, so I decided to try a little something different on the second one.

Verona by Emily Taylor Designs
 On the teal apron, I just sewed a hem around the ties, leaving them wide.  The back of the ties are not printed, so I had to fold it pretty to make sure it didn't show in the photo, but I like them wider.
Teal Verona by Emily Taylor Designs
I am not sure who makes this apron.  I purchased it from a shop on Etsy.  It came with a liner for just the top.  I think it looks more like a dress instead of an apron.  It is too cute, but if you wear it as a dress, you'd need to back out of the room ;) I think a hospital johnny would cover up more ;)

Hospital Johnny
Yeah, I think I'm right.

I got a little creative with this one.  I used my rolled hem foot to hem the edges of the bottom and sides (below the ties), which stretched the fabric just a little and gave it some ruffle (only a wee little bit).  It isn't a whole lot at all.  Maybe ruffle isn't the word.  Hrmmm.  That is debatable.  I also decided to line the top with a little muslin.  It is above the waist.   To do that, I used the cut out fabric for the apron as a pattern and just cut it straight across at the waist, just below where the ties go.  I finished the bottom edge of the liner with the rolled hem presser foot (I am getting a 1/4" presser foot the next time I see one).  I then put the two right sides together and sewed around the top of the apron, leaving gaps where the ties go (neck and waist).  I then folded in the seams in the gaps and inserted the finished ties.  I then top stitched around the edges to finish and hold in the straps.  VOILA!
Daisy Kingdom by Springs Creative
If you look closely at the bottom, you can see how the edge flounces just a little due to using the rolled hem foot.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these kits online, I have learned that you have to search several things.  Try these search words:
Fabric Apron Panel
Apron Craft kit
Apron Kit
Cut and Sew Apron Kit

Please let me know what you find and what works for you.  I love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What do ramekins and cupcake pan liners have to do with starting a fire? Here's a DIY recipe for fire starters.

I'm a typical mom, wife, and fellow crafter.  I love my house to smell wonderful and freshly mopped, however, that doesn't always happen.  So what do I do?  I fake it!  Yes, that clean breeze isn't coming from across the floor; it is coming from my wax warmer. 

I change them out a lot.  Usually a few times a week, which leads to a lot of wax being thrown away.  This made me feel wasteful.  So, the first thing I did to attempt to reuse this wax was to grab a jar and make an emergency candle.  

First, I took some candle wick from a roll and cut it the height of my jar.  Then I took some regular sewing thread and tied it to the top of the wick to hold it up and keep it in the center of the jar.  I taped the thread ends to the outside of the jar using clear tape.

The easy part is to just pour the used, melted wax into the jar instead of the trash.  Be careful as the wax is warm, even though Scentsy warmers never seem to get the wax hot enough to burn.  The bottom of the dish is really hot though.  Just don't touch it!  

Pouring the wax into the jar each time I change my warmer scent out causes the wax to layer in the jar.  You can tell I get stuck on certain scents for a while and other times I change the scents out frequently.  

When the jar is as full as you want it, you just clip the thread and trim the wick to about 1/4" from the top of the wax and you have an emergency candle.  

However, you only need so many emergency candles, so now what?
Layered emergency candle

You make fire starters!  Tada!

Look close and you can see leaves, little twigs, chips of charcoal, and pine cones.

We have a wood insert for our fireplace.  It puts out some heat, if you can get the logs to light. :)  That seems to be the hard part.  I have gathered kindling until I am tired of it.  Do you know when you need it the most?  When the fire goes out at 2 o'clock in the morning and it is 30 degrees out.  I had to find a better way (besides buying fire starters).

Here's my disclaimer: I am not a chimney professional and I do not know if the wax in the fireplace will "gunk" your chimney up.  All I know is, I started using these last year and we have not had any problems.  We do have our chimney cleaned regularly.

Grab a ramekin and put a PAPER (not foil) cupcake pan liner in it.  Then, just take a quick trip outside and gather a few supplies.  I use little twigs, crispy leaves, a few pieces of charcoal (my son's puppy got into our charcoal for the grill and chewed a brick, so I used little pieces of it), pine cones that the squirrels have chewed, little pieces of bark, etc.  Anything that will burn will do.  I've even used shredded paper and pine straw.  I'm sure you can get creative and use dried flowers on the top if you want to display them or give them as a gift.

Fill up the liner that is in the ramekin and you'll get something that looks like the picture below, depending on what materials you use.  I use normal size cupcake liners.  The pine cone end that I have in it is tiny and makes my dish look big.  I really like the squirrel chewed ones because they light easily.

This is what it looks like before the liner is full of wax.

Once you fill up your liner, you just pour the warm, melted wax over the contents, being careful not to cause the wax to overflow to the outside of the paper liner.  Depending on how many cubes of wax you use in your warmer at the time and how often you change it will determine how long it takes for you to finish your fire starter.

I keep filling it up until the wax gets to the top of the paper liner.

When you get the paper liner full of wax, just pop it out of the ramekin and store it until you get ready to use it.  I have all mine in a basket next to our firewood holder so they are handy.

To use it, you just stack your wood like you would if you were to start a fire using kindling, but use your wax cake instead of the kindling.  Then, just light it, paper and all!  I usually just strike a match and set the lit match on top of the wax cake.  All the pieces sticking up catch fire and it burns for about 15 minutes or longer, depending on the wax and other stuff you have added.

As the wax melts and all the little goodies you put in there burn, some of the wax will melt out and run onto the wood and even into the bottom of the fireplace (note this if your fireplace is open because you don't want it to run on the floor).  It seems to get caught in ashes in my fireplace and usually doesn't go far.  When I scoop the ashes out, I never see any of the wax, so I just assume it burns up.  The wax that runs onto the wood helps the wood catch on fire too. 

If you are worried about putting this in your fireplace inside your home, you can always use them for camp fires outside.

Let me know what you think and your experiences or ideas.  I love to hear from you!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Spinach Pineapple Salad

I saw a recipe for a salad that I thought looked interesting, however, I didn't have the ingredients or dressing so I just made up my own and it is delicious!

Here is the simple recipe...

Fresh pineapple - cubed
Bacon bits - I used the real bacon bits
Balsamic vinegar

You didn't read that wrong.  I am not talking about vinaigrette.  I used plain balsamic vinegar. It is delicious!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Snapazoo - How cool!

I just ordered 100 KAM snaps and the snap tool.  I've been using metal snaps (the kind with metal prongs that bend into the snap to secure it to the fabric) and I absolutely hate the pliers that came with them to put them together.  I have tried to set them using my Crop-a-dile, which only sets the female (receiving) end.  It works really well for that.  The male end requires me to use the tool that looks like pliers because of the prong that sticks up.  I have been tempted to drill a hole in the flat block of my Crop-a-dile (Yikes!).

While searching for snaps and alternative tools, I came across this cool little toy made from material and, you guessed it, snaps.  Apparently, you can make an entire zoo out of one toy.  I can see this being handy on a road trip.  I think older children would like to use it for the challenge and young children could use it for dexterity training.

Apparently, it isn't sold anymore, but there is a tutorial on how to make it.   It looks easy enough to sew, but getting all the snaps, male side v. female side, in the right order might just make me cross-eyed!  I do think this is awesome and if I try it, I will post pictures.  If you try it, let me know how it works for you.

Follow this link to see a cool tutorial on the Snapazoo toy. 

Don't Pretend Like You Haven't Been In My Shoes

I've been called a Jack Jill of all Trades...

I have done a little bit of everything.  Besides earning my living by being a member of the medical field, I have hobbies from kayaking, to fly fishing and from oil painting to quilting.  I scrapbook; I sew.  I teach; I garden; I feed worms.  See, I think I have to try everything.  Once, I was asked why I try my hand at so much.  My reply was a simple one that leads back to the way I was raised... "I've never been told I can't."

I am not talking about "you can't eat that whole box of candy" or "you can't hit your brother" or "you can't watch that on T.V."  Believe me; I grew up thinking "No" was my name.  I have never been told I couldn't paint, draw, sew, cook, etc.  If things didn't turn out the way it needed to, I was told to TRY HARDER.

This brings me to a quote by my father, "My girls can do anything boys can do, except stand to pee."  Well, I have now proven him wrong.  I want to share with you my experience with a nifty little product called a pStyle.  It is a life changing device.

Here's how I found it.  I'm a nurse.  I have worked in the ER (boy do I have some stories), academia, private duty, and in Hospice (more stories, but heartwarming and heart-wrenching).  The latter being the one that allowed me to discover this handy little device I now believe I can't live without (at least not comfortably).

Driving hundreds of miles in a week is conducive to learning where all the good, and the bad, public restrooms are.  While using public toilets, there are several rules you must follow 1) Never EVER stop at a station that has bars on the windows 2) Always have toilet paper (TP) in your bag  3) Sometimes the woods is a better option (but really inconvenient).

Sometimes, rule #3 is all you have.  I frequently visited a group of 5 patients who lived 18 miles from the nearest public restroom.  The company I worked for had a policy against using a patient's bathroom so I knew I better not drink much.  Patient visits are typically 30 minutes to an hour or so, depending on individual needs, so when I got to patient #1, I already knew I was in trouble.

Patient #2 couldn't find her pill bottle so, I had to call the pharmacist and wait on hold, and wait, and wait, and wait.  I was calculating the drive to the restroom and the time I would need at the other patients' homes while I was on hold.

Patient #3 talked about her cat.  The litter box was looking like an option.

Patient #4 had to sing me a song.  It almost had to be "Row Row Row Your Boat."

Patient #5 was on a whole lot of medication (Can you say polypharmacy?).  A whole lot.  EVERY SINGLE ONE had to be REFILLED.  Oh. My. Word.  At least I could sit cross-legged while on hold and talking to the pharmacist.  At this point, my back teeth are floating and I'm praying nobody turns on the water in the kitchen. 

Finally, when I get to the car, my seat belt across my bladder was just about all I could take.  I speed the 18 miles to the gas station, praying I don't see a trooper or get behind a tractor that would go 7 mph.  Arriving at the gas station, sliding in on two wheels, I run in.  LOCKED!  The stupid door is locked!  Who is going to steal a toilet?  There is a line at the cash register where the key is located.  I guess my pee pee dance tipped off the cashier, because he did hand me the key (attached to a long metal pipe) before checking the next person out.  After frantically opening the door (at least it is unoccupied) I find RELIEF.  Sheer, relief.  And, wouldn't you know, no toilet paper, except for the wad on the floor.  Luckily, I follow rule #2 and had TP in my bag.

Exiting the restroom, I am promptly yelled at by the cashier (and apparently owner)...  RESTROOM FOR PAYING CUSTOMERS ONLY!  Do you know how much that would cost me a week??

($5 for every bathroom trip per day x 5) x 52 = way too much money, there has to be a solution

Finding a solution became my goal for the evening.  I thought about the camping toilet that we have with the disposable baggies, but have you seen what a hospice nurse has to carry in the car?  Nope, no more room.  I thought about female urinals, but that would require me to drop trou.

I then found websites and blogs that were referring to something called a "stand to pee device."  Oh boy, was I educated real quick... I don't want to look like a boy!  I just want to PEE!  aka: Drain the dew off my lily. :)

Then, like a gift from above, I find it!  The thing I wish I'd had years ago...

Ta Da!  Simple, easy to clean, discreet, and no need to drop trou!

This device has changed my life!  I can camp, fish, hike, bike, travel, and do anything I want and not have to worry about my tush being exposed to the elements.  No poison ivy on my derriere.  No warm rush of wetness into my shoe.  Just unadulterated relief.

I don't go anywhere without it.  I have introduced it to most of my friends, one of who has her 3 year old daughter using one.  It is easy to clean (I use antibacterial wipes) and if you practice, you don't even need toilet paper!! WOO HOO!

I made a simple draw string bag to put mine in. See how to make yours here:  How to Make a Drawstring Bag

My dad has since changed his saying,
"I used to say my girls could do anything a boy could do, but stand to pee.  Wonk proved me wrong." (Wonka is a nickname he gave me and has shortened it to Wonk)

One more video for the brave...
Don't worry, you can't see anything.  That's another reason why I think this product is so life changing!  It makes it so easy to use rule #3!

How to Make a Drawstring Bag

Ever wonder what you can do with fabric scraps or fat quarters?  Ever need a bag to put something in?  Well, here's a really easy solution for you.  Make a drawstring bag.  They are handy and make a nice little re-usable pouch to wrap presents in.  If I can do it, so can you.

Go through your scraps and recycle them into something new.  I used a (cheap) liner, such as muslin, and two complimentary colors for the outside.  You'll also need ribbon or cording for the drawstring.

I put beads on the ribbon ends on this one.
You can customize these bags to any size you like.  Make them special for whatever you want to carry in it.
I didn't need my bags to be an exact size so I just cut everything out bigger than than what I wanted the finished bag to be.  I cut the  body out (this is the orange butterfly printed fabric) 7" x 16" ( 7" x  8" if you fold it to cut it) and the top (white with multicolor butterflies) 7"x3" (you will need two of these).

At this point, your bag is laid out open, so the tops (where the drawstring goes) will be on each end.
I sewed both tops to each end of the body using a 1/4" seam.

Using the outside of the bag for a pattern, I cut out the liner out of some inexpensive cotton, such as muslin.  I just pinned the fabric to the liner and cut around it. 

When I got it cut out, I put the wrong sides together, pinned it in place, and sewed down each length using a 1/4" seam, folded twice to hide the raw edge.
1/4" hem on each side

I used a 1/4" presser foot
After sewing a hem down the edges, I sewed a 1/4" hem on the top of the bag (the white with multicolor butterflies fabric).  You do not have to turn your seam twice because it will be hidden.

Next, fold over the top so it lines up just below your seam on the front (it is about half way if you are not using two different fabrics).  You will use the seam on the front to stitch in the ditch.
This pictures shows the right side (bottom) and the wrong side (top) of the seam for the draw string.
Now, just sew across to make the pocket for your drawstring.  If you are using one fabric, you can use a decorative stitch instead of the stitch in the ditch method.

Stitch in the ditch hides your thread... presto!

This picture shows the "pocket" sewn down.  You can see the rows of stitches.  The first row is where it was hemmed, the second row is where I sewed it down to make the "pocket" for the drawstring.
If you are an experienced seamstress, I am sure you can hem it and sew it down at the same time.  I am not, so I do it my easy way. :)

Next, fold the bag in half, right sides together, matching up the "pockets" on the top.
I just sewed right up the hemmed stitches I had previously made.
Don't sew through the pocket!  It has to be open to put your drawstring in.
STOP HERE! - pretend like you didn't see my little birds nest... that takes a special kind of talent ;)

When I got to my pocket, I turned my fabric and sewed back and forth to tack it.  This gives it a little extra strength and durability.
Cut your ribbon or string about 24".  You will need 2 of these.

Next, I put my draw string on a large safety pin and ran it from one opening, out the back and in the other side to make it end on the same side I started on.

Just go out and back in for one side.  Sorry, this picture is a little blurry.
For the next drawstring, start on the other side and do the same.  Go out and right back in the other side so you will end up on the same side you started.  You have to be able to cinch it up.
Your second draw string goes in the other side.

Now, tie knots in your strings on each side in order to hold them in.
You may also use decorative cord locks.
cord lock

Now, just PULL!  Yay! Bag complete!   Now, what to fill it with?  I made bags for my pStyles.  (See my blog page on that too!)  But you can put whatever you want in them.  Customize the size for your needs. 
My pStyle with this bag.

If you have any questions, please ask!  I enjoy reading your comments and the tips and tricks you have to make sewing easier.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Aprons, Aprons, and More Aprons

I admit it. I'm a junkie. An apron junkie, that is.

When I was a little girl, I spent a whole lot of time with my grandmother, who was also an apron junkie.  I get it honestly.  Instead of dressing up in her clothes, she gave me full access to her apron drawer.  I was in heaven!  She had aprons for cleaning, cooking, and hosting.  Aprons for "everyday wear" and aprons that I couldn't figure out how to wear; they had way too many ties for my little hands.

I have recently discovered (I know, I have been living under a rock.) pre-printed apron panels.  They are not your every day, run of the mill, man style, flat apron.  They are PRETTY! Feminine touches with flounces and ruffles make them my favorite things to wear.  I am totally amazed.  I love the designs by Emily Taylor, and Daisy Kingdom Aprons by Springs Creative.  They are so easy to make! If I can do it, I am sure you can too! I'm not an expert by any means!

With that being said, what's better than wearing an apron? Sharing an apron. National Tie One on Day (also on Facebook) is on November 27th; the day before Thanksgiving.

To participate, you make an apron, bake something, write a note and put it in the apron's pocket, and wrap the baked good in the apron.  Then, you deliver it to someone in need.

Here's a picture of an apron I made.  Although, it isn't the one I am using for Tie One On Day. I couldn't make an apron post without a picture of an apron.  I did give it to a super sweet person.  I think it made her day, which made mine too!  It was so much fun to make.  The directions were printed right on the fabric.

I still can't say enough about my Janome 3160 QDC sewing machine too!  It's like Sewing for Dummies!  My old Brother machine intimidated me because it had too many dials and knobs.  This one, you just press buttons to tell it what stitch to use, and it tells you what foot to use.  There's two dials; one for the tension of the presser foot and one for the tension of the thread. (but enough of that and back to the Tie One On Day)

Springs Creative/Daisy Kingdom Completed Apron Kit

I am a little OCD and tend to get caught up in exactly the right thing to say.  Don't stress over this part.  Just a simple "Love, (and your name)" will be just fine.  But, if you want to write a little note and need some inspiration, how about start it off with some Bible scripture?

Maybe these will give you an idea...

Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (I like this one because of the baked good)

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." 

Proverbs 18:10
The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.

Psalm 86:17
Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. 

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:31
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 

Romans 8:38-39
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (This is one of my favorites too.  There is nothing better than the promise of eternal life with our Lord and Savior.)

Thanksgiving is a time for just that... Giving Thanks.  I know the simple kindness of a little gift, such as an apron and a baked good, can do a lot for someone.  If you want to participate, but don't want to make an apron, our local Fred's Super Dollar Store has Christmas aprons for only $5 and others for $10, maybe yours does too.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Free Motion Quilting Ideas

I am working on free motion quilting for the first quilt I have ever made.  I had no pattern; I just kept adding squares until I got it the right size.  In hopes of finding information on how to do this on my home machine, I found the most awesome quilting blog!!  Thank you so much Leah Day for your helpful tutorials!!

This blog has patterns and videos and everything in between. 

Here's the link:

The Free Motion Quilting Project: START HERE!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Virtual Quilting Bee

I was a little surprised I was chosen to be a participant in Springs Creative's Virtual Quilting Guild.  I was extremely happy that I could have this opportunity to learn.  I made a quilt. Well, I am working on a quilt.  The top is pinned to the backing and ready for the quilting.  It is simply squares of material.  I didn't have a pattern; I just kept putting squares together until I got it the size I wanted.  Currently, I have been practicing free motion quilting so I can actually put it together myself.  That is for another day.

I received my blocks and instructions in the mail, but I wouldn't even open it until I could sit down and work.  I'm a little OCD, so I knew I would try to tackle it all in one sitting.  I was almost right.

Springs Creative fabric and quilt instructions
I read the instructions many times before I even thought about cutting it.  I cheated on my square when I was cutting.  I put clear tape (with a little medical paper tape on the edge for easy removal) on my square so I wouldn't misread it and cut it wrong.

After cutting them out, I started on the half square triangles.  These were easier than I thought.
I have a Janome 3160 QDC
I put the two faces together and pinned them.  Then, I drew a line down the diagonal with my disappearing ink pen.  That thing still amazes me. :)  I stitched a 1/4" seam on each side of the line.  After that, I cut them apart on the line (that was trying to disappear on me so I had to work fast).

Sewing them made little dog ears on each side so I had to trim them off after pressing it open.

This is what my half square triangles looked like when I finished them.
 I then laid out my pattern.  I actually have two blocks stacked on top of each other in this picture, since I was doing two, it was easier to lay the second one out on top of my first, instead of having to refer back to the picture each time.
 Here's my first block sewn together and the second block with only the rows sewn together.
 Here's where I completed both blocks.  I am excited about getting the next fabric in!
I need to say again... This is the first time I have done a project like this.  I am a newbie.  Springs Creative has made this easy!  Using my Janome is like "Sewing for Dummies" too.  You tell it what stitch to use and it tells you what foot to put on. :)  I think one of my favorite features is that it will cut your thread... PRESTO!