Monday, December 17, 2012

Axios! (If I do say so myself)

Matt was ordained a priest this past weekend. It is still rather surreal.

We appreciate your prayers in this new time of our lives!

Oh, and since it is a frequently asked question, in the Orthodox church, priests can be married. :)

*I made a nice trip to the fabric store, so I have some sewing posts planned!*

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Loathe cutting onions?

I learned this tip a long time ago.

It helps so much! I just keep a few tea lights in my kitchen to use when chopping onions. If your eyes burn a lot from cutting onions, please give it a try! Just be careful to not get onion peels in the flame (duh, but it is easy to do if you look closely at my picture. oops.).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Handmade dress for sale

I am about to list this dress on my Etsy shop, but I thought I would offer it to my readers first. If you are interested, send me an email.

Handmade dress, $20.00 

Now I will offer a story of how being cheap and innovative doesn't always work out for the better. My dressform does not have a base. I had the brilliant idea of using an old curtain rod to function as the base. What I didn't expect was that it had some rusty water in it that leaked on the dress as I put it on. Heart break. I scrubbed and scrubbed and managed to get most of it out. I have pictures of them if you would like to see what I am talking about. The stains are very faint. They will be included with the Etsy listing, but are still on my camera, *wink.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A one day special for Downton Abbey from Amazon

I was just pretty happy to find this deal this morning. I violated the don't-get-yourself-a-gift-just-before-Christmas rule, since I didn't think I would be getting this as a gift, and bought it.

  You can get the Bluray versions for season 1 & 2 (as a set) for $25.99! It is 60% off. The sale is only for today, so if it is something you want, keep it in mind. :) Also, I didn't know there was a difference between the UK and US version, but there is. The US version was cut by a couple of hours. This is for the UK version. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In which I put my new camera to work.

I have a lot to learn in the world of aperture, shutter speed and all of that, so for now I am using easy modes.

BUT now that I have a decent camera, I want to share the dress I made before our trip to Europe to wear while I was there. It is based on this pattern, which I shared a few weeks ago. It is marvelously simple as there are no closures. Sure, a zipper only costs a few dollars, but I never have them on hand. 
Note to self: Iron backdrop.

As a side note, I got this fabric for 1.50 a yard, so it was pretty cheap to make.

I love love love the floral print. The fabric is also very soft. It worked great in cold weather with thick tights, a cardigan and boots.

In case you forgot, you can get it here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hooray for my new DSLR!

I wanted to share a photo comparison of my two cameras. I can't believe how much of a difference there is between them. Well, I guess that is kind of a 'duh' statement, but I really do find it quite amazing. I've been taking quite a few comparison pictures and basking in the glory of the wonder that is a DSLR.

Isn't the difference crazy? 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Some sales

While I am beating my brain over and over trying to decide over what play kitchen to buy/make for Katherine and Daniel, you can look at these Cyber Monday sales.

One of my favorite stores- Modcloth is having a 20% off sale.


Shabby Apple is having a site-wide sale of 20% off with the code: JOYFULSEASON.

Dresses from Shabby Apple

And the question is, have I been sewing and not posting pictures? Yes. This will end. I just got an SLR Canon Rebel on a huge sale- it will be arriving this week- happy dance.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've been holding out on you all.

Ghent, Belgium

We are in Europe! Matt's sister lives there, so we are visiting her family. It has been splendid. We've been here for a few days and will be for a few more. We went to Brussels today.

...And tomorrow we are going to Paris.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Make your own Greek Yogurt


I wanted to share this recipe with you. I made it last night/tonight. It is so easy to make creamy Greek yogurt with a crock-pot! I am pretty excited about it. Also, for a starter you just use an ordinary tub of yogurt (small size).

I also referred to this recipe, from Kitchen Stewardship which was a little more informative.

This is pretty much how I looked eating it:

Seriously! It was so delicious. After it was finished, I added honey and vanilla extract. That's it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A new dress pattern for you

Would you like to make this dress? It isn't hard. I've put together step-by-step instructions so that you can make it with your own measurements. Why is it easy? It doesn't have a closure (i.e. buttons or zipper) and has makeshift darts, so there is nothing very technical about the construction.

Another dress made from the same pattern

As a side note: I designed this pattern. As always, it's free and you may use it for any purpose (i.e. selling a dress you made), except you can't reproduce the pattern to sell. If you want to use this pattern on your blog, just link back to me.

What do you need?
Note: This is designed for a size small/medium. If you are a larger size you may wish to make a mock-up before cutting your fabric as you will likely need to add a few inches to the width of the bodice and skirt. Someday when all of my dreams come true, I will get a adjustable dress form so I can try out patterns on larger sizes so that I can include additional measurements for you.

* About 2 yards of fabric. I would recommend something that is soft with a gentle drape.
* 1 yard of fabric to line the bodice.
* 7 inches of 1/4" elastic (you can use a thicker size if you wish)
* Though optional, The collar really makes this dress what it is. I got mine from Etsy for about $3.00. You could check at a local craft store or use a vintage doily/handkerchief. There are also a number of tutorials online (like this one) of how you could make your collar from the same fabric as your dress.
* Also optional, buttons for embellishment.

The pattern pieces in both of the pictures are a little longer than 15 inches. That is because I have these patterns to customize for other things.
I used a dinner plate to help make the curves in the neck. I would recommend cutting out your pattern with newspaper before cutting the fabric. This way you can mark it up and make changes without harming your fabric.

There isn't a picture, but cut out a long strip of fabric (you could use a contrasting color if you want). The total length is 68 inches. I like to divide mine up in three sections. Since the waistband will be sewn to the dress I like the front piece to match the seams on the sides of the bodice, with longer pieces in the back to tie. I cut two pieces that were 27 inches long and 3 inches (give or take to your preference) wide. The third piece was 14 inches long and 3 inches wide. A wider band makes it easier to hide the seam where the bodice attaches to the skirt, but it may be more bulky in the back.

Also, cut two rectangular pieces- 41 inches wide and 24 inches high for the front and back of the skirt.
I cheated and used the finished edge of the fabric along bottom of the skirt, so I didn't have to hem it.

Sew together the top of the shoulder pieces to connect the front and back bodice for both the main fabric and the lining. 

Then sew around the neck line (inside out) to connect the lining to the main fabric.

In case you noticed, this is not a picture of this dress. I had to borrow it from my other pattern because I missed getting a picture of this step. :)
Clip around the curves so that it lays flat when turned right side out.

Adding a side stitch beneath the arm hole (at a right angle) will make it a lot more durable.
Sew the sides of the bodice for the main fabric and lining. The lining will be loose inside the bodice- that is fine for now. I measured my arm hole to be 7 inches from the top of the shoulder. Test it by putting your arm through.

Turn right side out. Tuck in the raw edges of the arm hole, pin, then top stitch, making sure to back-stitch over the underarm area.

This is an easy time to hem the lining.

Press the seam around the neckline. You will notice that the neckline is absurdly large and hideous. It's ok! Now we are going to add a nice tuck to the back to give it more form.

Once your pins are in place, top stitch around the neckline. You could do a zig-zag stitch in a contrasting color if you are into that sort of thing.

If you know how to make darts (we will be improvising darts later on) and wish to, you can add them now.

Now it is time to make the skirt. I used a french seam to attach the side pieces. That way you won't have to worry about horrible hanging threads if you don't have a serger. French seams are extremely easy. If you don't know how to make one, you can read this article.

At first, I was going to pleat the skirt, but then I thought I would just baste it. Since my last projects I have learned that it is much better to baste three seams when you are making a ruffle. This gives the ruffles a much more uniformed look. I tell you, the time you spend in sewing two extra basted seams will be well worth it. So, baste and ruffle the part of the skirt that will connect to the bodice.

To go quickly, pull all three threads at the same time.

Pin to the bodice (but not the lining!) It might help to pull as much of the lining out of the neck hole at this time to avoid accidentally stitching it.

Sew a sturdy stitch to connect the pieces. Check for ruffles that fold over at the wrong angles into the seam- that will make an uneven looking drape in the skirt.

You are getting close! If you want to go to a homeschool prom you can just stop here.
JOKING. I was homeschooled and went to prom-like events and didn't wear clothes like this, haha.

Sew together the long strip of fabric for the waistband. Please, please, iron this. I skip ironing as much as possible, but this part is really important to iron.

I wanted the seam to be hidden, so I ironed it with the seam in the middle.

Now we are going to make our fake darts. Though the picture is taken on my dress form, if you do not have one, you can do it on yourself in front of a mirror (safety pins!). I tested the theory to make sure it would work, but took the photos with my dress form as it was easier. All that you have to do is pinch two folds of fabric along the waist seam. You will want these two folds to be equal on either side. Mine are three inches away from the side bodice seam. This part is mostly determined by bust size. Just do whatever looks the best on you.

This is another angle of the same thing. Doing this takes out the extra fabric in the sides which creates a more flattering/tailored bodice. 

If you have very good eyesight, you can see where it is pinned.

Now sew the tucks in place. Your stitches will be hidden beneath the waistband.

This is what it will look like.

This step is a little tedious, but not hard. Pin the waistband in place and hand stitch it. Yes, hand stitch. This way your stitches will be invisible. Use a slip stitch.

When you sew the waistband, make sure to not sew the lining. It might help to pull through the neck hole.

Stop sewing when you get to the side seams of the bodice. The sash will be tied in the back, so the rest of it can hang free. I used a machine stitch here to make it more durable.

Mine measure 5.5 inches from the side seams.
When you tie the sash in the back you will notice that the seam where the bodice connects to the skirt is hanging down, exposing those seams. That is because there is still to much fabric in the waist band. This extra fabric is needed to get in and out of the dress without a closure, but not very attractive to have hanging all over the place. It will also give the hemline an uneven look. To fix this we are going to add a strip of elastic to the back.

Mark the area beneath your tucks in the back of the neck (I did this with thread spools in the picture). You are going to sew a little channel for the elastic to go through by connecting the lining to the main fabric.

This is what it will look like. Make sure it is straight! This will also be hidden beneath the sash when it is tied.

Thread the elastic through. I would recommend pinning it in place (with safety pins) and trying it on before you sew so that it is not too big or small.

Next, turn your dress inside out. I added a few hand stitches to the lining to attach it to the main dress so that it is easier to put on and take off.

Now pin the collar in place. I hand stitched this as well. It looks a lot  better than machine stitching. You can also add an embellishment if you like. I used a vintage brass button.

*Sigh* It's not actually crooked in the shoulders, but it was very windy outside and my dress form kept tilting.
I hope you like making it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Old Ironsides

                 Source: via Rebekah on Pinterest

"Old Ironsides" is one of my favorite poems. Written by Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1830, it speaks against the destruction of the USS Consituition, a warship from the War of 1812.

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see

That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon's roar;--
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee;--
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

I memorized most of this in one sitting when I was watching my baby brother take a bath. It must have been a long one! I never forgot it, and for years, I have quoted it when I was trying to be patient about something. For example, when I used to be hauling buckets of water at my parents' farm, I would tell myself I could keep enduring until the end of the poem. Kind of dramatic, but it worked!

And now for a crazy picture from 2005!

                                     Source: via Rebekah on Pinterest

Isn't it crazy to see a glimpse of the 'old world' mixed with a modern city?
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