Archive for July, 2009

Vacation

I’m going on vacation for 2 weeks with the family – no internet access for 2 weeks, so I’ll be out of touch for a while.  Of course I’ll bring my camera, though, so you’ll get a big old post when I get back.

Happy Summer!

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American Girl Doll Clothes

Kit got a new outfit for Ryland’s birthday! Surely you all know about the American Girl dolls, at least if you have girls or know any girls.  Our girls have one each, and Declan wishes they made American Boy dolls.  Wouldn’t that be cute? I love making them new clothes, it doesn’t take much fabric, and you can be as creative as you want.  Kit is the historical doll who grew up in the depression, but she comes with the most stuff, ironically.  She has a million things you can purchase, or you can make your own.  I have seen in fabric stores that you can buy patterns for these dolls as well, they sell them as 18″ doll clothes.

Here are Kit’s new duds:

DSC_0010It’s a little sundress just like the ones I make for Hazel Anne, but super shrunken!  It has a little ribbon tie for the shoulder straps – and made in my current line of fabrics. She also has little shorts underneath – have a peek!

DSC_0011

close up - nice legs, Kit!

close up - nice legs, Kit!

Back view

Back view

So cute!

Today I made nightgowns

The other day, my neighbor, Karen, gave me this soft cotton sheet that she had batik-ed and dyed years ago.  It was getting worn in spots, and she had repaired it, but decided it was time to retire it from her bed.  So lucky me! You know I can’t pass up free fabric – my closets are stuffed with this type of thing that sits for years and years.

So this time I decided to not let it even get to the closet, and make it into something right away, and with hand batik-ed fabric this heavy and soft, it was time to make the girls new nightgowns.

I used a simple sundress pattern that I made up a while ago – really, it’s just an a-line style with hemmed curves under the arms, a higher back than front, and a drawstring in place of shoulder straps.  One sheet easily made 2 long nightgowns, with some to spare.

Holt and Ryland sport their new gowns in front of the matching butterfly bush.

Holt and Ryland sport their new gowns in front of the matching butterfly bush.

see? they're for sleeping!

see? they're for sleeping!

close up of the top - I made a casing in back and front, then made a drawstring and ran it through and over the shoulders for straps.  Normally I leave the tie unfastened so they can adjust it, but since you don't want to fuss with your nightie, I stitched up the drawstring.  It still slides freely through the casings, but the girls don't have to worry about the tie coming undone in the night.

close up of the top - I made a casing in back and front, then made a drawstring and ran it through and over the shoulders for straps. Normally I leave the tie unfastened so they can adjust it, but since you don't want to fuss with your nightie, I stitched up the drawstring. It still slides freely through the casings, but the girls don't have to worry about the tie coming undone in the night.

In order to tell the 2 apart (since they both hate tags) I cut Ryland's with the stripes as a hem boarder, and Holt's with the stripes running up the side.  Also, Holt's is 2 inches longer.  We're sure Dad will wind up putting them in the wrong laundry pile, but us girls can tell them apart!

In order to tell the 2 apart (since they both hate tags) I cut Ryland's with the stripes as a hem boarder, and Holt's with the stripes running up the side. Also, Holt's is 2 inches longer. We're sure Dad will still wind up putting them in the wrong laundry pile, but us girls can tell them apart!

I love making things into other things.  Sometimes I think stuff like this is my most favorite stuff to make, because you get to be super creative, it costs basically nothing so there are no worries if you screw up, and in an hour or so, you have something new to wear right away.

The girls are sleeping soundly in their new gowns right now.  Zzzzzzzzzz.

Making a pie

Look what we made! A gluten free, wild blackberry/wineberry pie for dessert.  If you’ve never made a gluten free pie crust, don’t worry – it really isn’t very hard.  Here is what I used yesterday:

DSC_0006this Gluten Free Pantry mix is pretty easy, light and flaky.  It tends to be a bit crumbly, though, and of course expensive.  The box says it makes 4 crusts, but I find it works better if you divide it into 3 parts – I make one double crust pie, then throw the other one in the freezer for a quick quiche some evening.

The only trick is rolling it out, because it doesn’t act like wheat crust, but if you know the trick, it really is simple! Have a look:

after chilling the dough to firm it up (a very important step) roll the portion of dough out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, then peel the top layer off, lay the crust into the pie plate, smooth the dough out, then peel the last layer of plastic off - perfect!

after chilling the dough to firm it up (a very important step) roll the portion of dough out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, then peel the top layer off, lay the crust into the pie plate, smooth the dough out, then peel the last layer of plastic off - perfect!

If you want to make your pie crust from scratch, then this is my favorite recipe, from Gluten Free Girl.  It holds up really well, and you can actually shape the crust into pretty scallop edges.

So once I had the crust, here’s the fun part.  Jeff woke up and went out to the woods first thing – blackberries are in season, so he picked a bucket full, along with some wild wineberries that were growing, too.

I mixed them with about a cup of sugar ( I usually use less, but these berries were on the tart side) and about 1/4 cup rice flour.  Then put on the top crust, sprinkle with raw turbinado sugar, cut some vent slits, and bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Here it is!:

DSC_0009Tastes like summer, and it was almost free…

A Fourth of July Birthday

Just a few images to share from Ryland’s 8th birthday – there are many more of our cookout, games, sparklers and friends, but today I feel like sharing just a few sweet ones:

Look at this sweet card from Holt!  Just a piece of cardboard from the recycle bin, and she cut up some pretty paper and glued on the flowers.  I love the time that she put into this.  She and I collaborated on the mini tote bag made from sewing room floor scraps to hold the 2 packs of gum that Holt bought (with her own money!) from the Korean market.

Look at this sweet card from Holt! Just a piece of cardboard from the recycle bin, and she cut up some pretty paper and glued on the flowers. I love the time that she put into this. She and I collaborated on the mini tote bag made from sewing room floor scraps to hold the 2 packs of gum that Holt bought (with her own money!) from the Korean market.

Here is her little pile of gifts - a very cool coloring/activity book that I need to show you sometime, a felted purple fairy that she longed for at the last Howard Street Handmade (I was so sneaky and traded a girl's sundress for this, then hid it for a month!), a whole pack of roasted seaweed for herself (she loves the stuff), an outfit I made her for her American girl doll, and best of all, the pink parasol that she's always wanted.

Here is her little pile of gifts - a very cool coloring/activity book that I need to show you sometime, a felted purple fairy that she longed for at the last Howard Street Handmade (I was so sneaky and traded one of my Hazel Anne sundress for this, then hid it for a month!), a whole pack of roasted seaweed for herself (she loves the stuff), an outfit I made her for her American girl doll, and best of all, the pink parasol that she's always wanted.

In all its glory, here is the longed for Pink Parasol!  (only 10 bucks at the Korean Market - shhhhh!)

In all its glory, here is the longed for Pink Parasol! (only 10 bucks at the Korean Market - shhhhh!)

and of course, gluten free cupcakes.  I made 4 batches of these - 2 white cake and 2 chocolate, with this amazing chocolate ganache on top, and then we sprinkled on toasted coconut, mini chocolate chips, and slivers of almonds.  oh, I wish there were leftovers still...

and of course, gluten free cupcakes. I made 4 batches of these - 2 white cake and 2 chocolate, with this amazing chocolate ganache on top, and then we sprinkled on toasted coconut, mini chocolate chips, and slivers of almonds. oh, I wish there were leftovers still...

Here’s to pretty, simple birthdays…

Making cloth napkins

We have lots of July birthdays around here, and as we were gearing up for the July 4th party (the first of our July birthdays, as well as the country’s birthday!) I realized that our cloth napkins were looking pretty sad these days.

My mom had made us some for our wedding, but it occurred to me that that was almost 14 years ago! No wonder they look so crummy.  So, up to the sewing room I went.

I have saved over the years lots of samples of fabrics, and these are great sized swatches for napkins.  Some were on the small size, but some of us have little hands and cheeks, so that’s ok.

Here’s what I did:

1.  Cut rectangles of fabric of any size (100% cotton).

2.  Sit down with your serger.  Set your machine on the rolled hem setting.  With mine, a Bernette for Bernina home machine that I bought in 1994 and is still my favorite machine (better even than my industrial serger), this is only a few steps.  I do it with only 3 needles, so I take out the 4th, and change the tension, etc (check your manual).  If you have wooley nylon thread, that gives a great smooth hem, but I didn’t have enough, so I just used all purpose white serger thread.

3. Run the machine around all 4 sides! A little production trick I learned when I worked in a handbag workroom is to keep all the napkins attached as you hem – so sew one side, then put the next napkin on and sew that side, etc, until you have a whole train of napkins with one side serged, then turn the whole string and do it on the other side, etc. until all 4 sides are serged.  This just increases your speed a lot because you aren’t stopping and starting and clipping.

4.  Of course the girls wanted to help, so then I threw the whole mess across the room to Ryland, who cut the little thread tails off, then she threw them to Holt who folded them and Voila! 30 new cloth napkins.  Many colors, many sizes, lots less dead trees! Here’s some photos:

Holt laid them all out in a circle

Holt laid them all out in a circle

lots of colors

lots of colors

Here's my favorite picture - so summery

Here's my favorite picture - so summery

The whole project didn’t take much more than an hour, and now I can get rid of the grungy old napkins.

Go for it yourself! It’s a simple, green and rewarding project.

An (new) Old Washboard

Presumably I got the grammar wrong on that title, it looks wrong either way I type it (an? a?),  but that’s not the point of this post, so let’s look beyond my English frailties and move onto more exciting thoughts…

The other day we went out to some antique stores/ flea market type places in our town to look for kitchen chairs.  We’ve got loads of these places in our town, but my current favorite is Oddfellows, because the owners are so nice (and they have hired me in the past to recover old couch cushions – a pretty fun gig!).

(Ok, here is where I was going to give you a link to them, but I can’t find a website URL so I’ll just tell you that they are on 124 Swannanoa River Rd in Asheville. Big brick building, loads of fun stuff.)

Anyways… of all the fantastic bits of history in that place, this is what I could not leave there without:

a weathered old washboard, of course! HAD TO HAVE IT.

a weathered old washboard, of course! HAD TO HAVE IT.

Because not only is the wood super soft and smooth after all that scrubbing of dirties over the years, but:

Honestly! Who dipped their brush into this glorious paint and embellished such a utilitarian piece?

Honestly! Who dipped their brush into this glorious paint and embellished such a utilitarian piece?

That little bit of neon orange? Just perfect.  I look at it and see this image printed onto fabric over and over.  It’s worth a try, but no way will my efforts with screen printing ever look as good as this crooked old washboard.

I don’t know what I’ll do with it yet.  Declan honestly thought I’d be trading in my Whirlpool for this lovely, but I think I’ll just find a way to hang it in my studio for days when I need inspiration.