Thursday, March 25, 2010

While the kids are away.. the Mommy will play!

A good friend of mine has wanted a sewing lesson for quite some time now. Two of her three kiddos are spending time with their Grandma this week, thus we found a chunk of time for that overdue sewing lesson! She has a daughter the same age as Miss E. They are great friends. So what does she need??? A TWIRLY SKIRT!!

This was a great first project for my friend. She got A LOT of practice sewing and making gathers. I know what you are thinking ... gathers.....her first time out.. that is a little ambitious! But she did a great job and we finished it in one day!

I can't wait to see her daughter twirling away in this adorable skirt! I'm sure this is just the beginning of her sewing adventures.

Next project: embellishing a t-shirt to match the twirly skirt.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dinner at 6: Fish Tacos

Since I started this blog, I began reading more blogs. It is amazing what is out there in cyberspace! I wonder how many blogs there are on the web. The answer would probably astound me. Oh well, I am very inspired by the ones I currently read and that is great fun!

I haven't talked about cooking yet. I really enjoy cooking for my family and anyone else who shows up at our home. A great friend of mine, whose husband is a farmer, came to visit last weekend. It seemed like we talked about food a lot while they were here. We also had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant in White Bear Lake called Manitou Station. We all had dishes that we wouldn't normally prepare at home. It was wonderful! I tried scallops in brown butter and sage. VERY GOOD! Our friend had halibut (which happened to be "in season") with a carrot coulis. I didn't know what that was (coulis), but it is basically a puree. The word sounds like "coolee". So if you see that on a menu, don't be afraid. It is great!

So here at home, I have been cooking some of our favorites lately. One of those being fish tacos. Yes.. we are Midwesterners... but we love fish tacos!!

Rachel Ray's Fish Tacos

This is a recipe that used as a reference when I began making fish tacos. I do my own variation now, as I know how the kids like them. Fish tacos are pretty basic. Here is what you need:

Mild white fish (halibut, cod, tilapia, etc)
Coleslaw mix (or a whole cabbage if you like to make your own slaw. The purple variety makes for a very pretty slaw!!)
Sour cream
Lemon or lemon juice
Shredded cheese (I typically use a med. cheddar, but you can mix it up with whatever your prefer)

Heat the tortillas in the skillet OR you can wrap several in foil and warm in the oven. Smear onto the warmed tortilla the "magic green sauce" as my kids call it, (blended avocado, sour cream, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste).

Add the fish (prepared how you like: broiled, grilled, pan fried) You can season the fish to your liking. Simply with salt, pepper and lemon juice or kick it up a notch with other seasonings. Another note about fish: I struggle at times finding good fresh fish. Fresh fish should never smell... well... fishy!! I tend to have the best luck buying vacuum sealed frozen fish.

Add the cheese and slaw. DONE!! I also serve Spanish rice with this dish, because the hubby and I like it!

I'm sure Rachel's recipe is fancier than mine with more veggies, seasonings etc. When looking for recipes, you will find that some fish is breaded and fried. Also some are called "Baja fish tacos". This is a recipe that you can truly make your own way and should have a great result.

I tried taking some of my own photos when preparing my tacos, but my photography skills are a little lacking at this point. Ah well... I will learn as I go.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Twirly Skirt

I bought a pattern last fall for a patchwork twirly skirt. It is really a cute pattern by Pink Fig. I collected some cute fabrics from JoAnn fabrics and the great quilt shop downtown here in Hudson called St. Croix County Dry Goods. They have really FUN fabrics.

After making Miss E's Easter dress I decided I was ready to tackle this skirt.
Actually, it is pretty simple. It just takes more time because you have to "finish" all the seams with a serger-like or zigzag stitch, which takes a bit longer.

In this photo, I have the top waist piece and the 1st row of patchwork.
This project does require gathers. My Mom and Mother-in-Law have helped me with gathering projects before and have given me great tips. The manual for my sewing machine also has information on gathering.

This skirt does not contain any type of "pattern" pieces. Is is written more like a quilt pattern, telling you the size of pieces to cut and not making you use a pattern or a template.

I must say as I read the pattern I was thinking.... "Golly this little skirt has ALOT of fabric in it!" The bottom striped piece is 3, 39" x 6" strips sewn together. But it makes for quite a twirly skirt and Miss E LOVES it. I'm sure I'll be making many more. She enjoyed choosing and laying out the blocks in an order that she liked.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Easter Dress

As I was shopping for Miss E's Easter dress, I was disappointed with the selection. I am not one to buy a foofy Easter dress that is impractical and rarely worn again. Of course the thought popped into my head..."hmmmm.. I guess I could make her dress." Which lead me straight to JoAnn fabrics to see if I could find a pattern that, A) I thought would look cute on her and B) that I could complete without pulling my hair out.

This is the pattern I found.

During this project, I relearned many things about following a pattern that I had forgotten.

1) Read the pattern CAREFULLY!! Closely examine how you should lay the fabrics and pattern pieces on the fabric BEFORE cutting. I didn't do this... but thankfully remembered before I got too far down the road. If you don't lay out fabrics correctly and pattern pieces right side down or right side up, you will be short of fabric OR your pieces will NOT FIT!!

2) Making clothing is an exercise in PATIENCE!! Read directions very carefully and be willing to laugh at yourself while tearing out seams! I kept trying to rush through it and at one point sewing the lining instead of the bodice etc. etc. I ended up with the zipper in backwards. HA HA!! At least I can laugh about it now.

3) When a pattern says to use a 5/8" seam, DO IT!! Or else your garment will not fit correctly. Sewing seams when making clothing is so much different than making quilts. With some practice I am getting the hang of it. I also use the serger stitch on my sewing machine quite a bit.

Making the Dress:

I sewed the bodice first. I have done this before, so it wasn't too bad.

As it was time to make the skirt of the dress,I learned a new term, stay.. This is what you sew tiers to... a stay. I was confused at first, but it made sense after I read the directions more carefully.

This dress has 3 tiers and really is a cute pattern. You can see the stay underneath the tiers.

And finally after battling with the zipper way more than necessary!! (God really thought I needed to work on my patience with this project.) The dress is finished.

Miss E really loves it and is excited to wear it for Easter and more.

Domestic Engineer

Since I am a stay at home Mom (Domestic Engineer) I get recruited by my children to complete a variety of projects. Well, Mr. G's project for me a week or so ago was a Chinook Helicopter made from K'nex. Of course it is the final and most difficult project in the book. I thought, "I am a Mommy, I can do this!!" And thus the task began.

Mr. G helped me quite a bit, finding parts and encouraging me to finish. He was having fun creating space ships of his own. By the time we were done.. there were not many pieces left in the box!

This project even has a motor in it so that the blades can move. Pretty cool!!

Mr. G's Star Wars lego dude, even decided to go for a ride. It was a fun project and I am glad to say that Mommies can build cool stuff too!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Something new

I'm not a seamstress. I am a quilter. I don't know much about making or repairing clothing, but I try my best. So, today I tackled putting a new zipper in my spring jacket. I really love this jacket, but it didn't have a separating zipper. So when I'd get in my car with it zipped up, it was putting too much stress on the zipper and of course.. it busted. SIGH!!! Of course.. I am a handy person. I can put in a new one! RIGHT??? RIGHT!!! However, you don't usually find zippers that perfectly match the one you are taking out. At least not at Jo Ann fabrics. But I have a dark grey/blue coat and black will have to do.

I did conquer this project today and am pleased with the results. Sorry, no photos. I just wanted to encourage people to try to fix something that is broken before throwing it out. Reduce.. reuse...recycle. Have a great day!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What is old has become new.

Miss E had these adorable jeans with stitched appliques on them. Just so cute! However, they were falling apart. Holes in the knees and getting too short to boot. So I thought.. hmmm... they still fit her in the waist.. let's see if we can transform these into a skirt.

I did some searching on the web and came across a few sites. Site 1 and Site 2 have you adding a little panel of fabric in the center. Well, Miss E is itty bitty, so I just cut open the seams and used these sites for reference and did it my way.

These jeans have stretch in them, which helps. When I sewed them, I used a serger-like stitch to help with strength and to finish the edge I just turned it up and stitched it down with varigated thread and a cute little flower stitch that I seldom use on my machine. There was also a butterfly farther down on the leg of the jeans that I cut around and just stitched down with a small zig zag.

Miss E loves her new skirt! I'm glad that I was able to reuse some jeans that were beyond patching. So now her cousins will get a cute skirt handed down instead of holey jeans!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Best Bag Around

Camille's Bag is a wonderful pattern that I really have enjoyed sewing as a gift. As you can see I have made it in a variety of colors and styles. You can even make the outside pieced to add some variety (notice the green and turq. bag). Level of difficulty is moderate. I taught this pattern to a group of ladies at my church that have a wide variety of skills. Everyone was able to finish this project with a little guidance.

My variations: In the pattern, the top contrasting strip is only 3/4" finished. It looks silly. Not enough of the contrast fabric showing to make an impact. I prefer to cut the top strip 2 1/2" and adjust the bottom section accordingly. I think you'll be pleased with the outcome.

Pockets: When I have a bag, I don't like 1 little piddly 5" square pocket. NO SIR! I want lots of pockets to I have places to lose... I mean PUT my stuff!!
No really, I think more pockets are better, especially if you are making this as a diaper bag. So after a little trial and error, I cut 4, 8 1/2" x 11 1/2" rectangles. I back 2 of them with the pellon fusible fleece or interfacing to make them more substantial. Following directions in the pattern, you sew right sides together and leave space to turn. You position this pocket 4" down from the top edge of the lining piece OR 12" from the top edge of the lining to the bottom of the pocket. Now you can create a variety of pockets to fit your needs. Short pocket for cell phone, skinny ones for that favorite pen, perfect pocket for your sunglasses etc.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sewing with Miss E

Miss E is ready to learn to sew. Thankfully, my Mom came across a great pattern that allows kids to practice sewing and have a great end product they can use! She loved sewing this project with me, her Grandma and her cousin. We all had a great time using up scraps and sewing away! This pattern is free at I tried to add a link, but no such luck. You can join this site for free and there are quite a few free patterns to download with simple instructions. This project is called the "scrappy strips bag". Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Well.... today I am beginning my adventure with blogging. Not sure how this will go. But I'll give it a try. I really love to share and teach the fun sewing and crafting things that I have tried. Unfortunately since moving up North, I don't have a shop to teach at. So, we'll see if I can make it work via the web instead!