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August 29, 2014

links i love // fat-ass friday



Summer is drawing to a close, which means we can all start caring less about what we look like & start packing on the pounds for winter warmth. Let's look at some food porn.


// Top Links of the Week // 

  • Blueberry French Toast Sandwich // Starting with breakfast (the most important meal of the day), let's drool over this blueberry & cream cheese sandwich. I attempted to make this the other day, & it is as delicious as it promises to be. 
  • Homemade Iced Latte // While we're on the topic of breakfast, let's chat over coffee. I love this recipe  for making iced lattes because the recipe doesn't call for an espresso maker! I've always wanted to try my hand at cold-brewing. Have any of you ever tried it before? 
  • Cheese Tortellini with Spinach Feta Alfredo Sauce // Lunch time! Spinach is my favorite vegetable. Cheese is just a general favorite around the house. & who doesn't love carbs? Don't judge me, I'm only looking (for now). 
  • Classic Lentil Burger // Let's focus on something healthier for dinner (I'm sort of joking myself by claiming a burger is healthy, but let's run with it, it's Friday). I've been a vegetarian for a while now, & am always on the prowl for a burger that isn't made from soy. No offense to you, soy, but you are so ten years ago. This recipe looks like a winner, & Sarah over at Making Thyme for Health promises this burger to be the best version she's made yet.
  • Salted Caramel Brownies // You guys ready for dessert? I know I sure am. These salted caramel brownies look dee-lish. 
  • What the F**k Should I Make for Dinner? // Are you not sure what to cook for dinner tonight? Do you enjoy being aggressively told your options? Don't worry. There's a website for that. Lots of recipes based on your dietary habits, & even drink recipes. Don't like what you see? Skip ahead by clicking "I don't f**king like that."
  • Thug Kitchen // While we're being aggressively domestic, check out Thug Kitchen for more yelling, cursing, & delicious food. Their cooking is healthy & involves lots of delicious vegetables that you can pair with their amazing drink recipes. Plus it's hilarious. 



Well now I'm hungry. Happy Friday, everyone! 

xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // While you're looking at food, check out some cheesecake or some apple pie

August 26, 2014

touring through blogland


Whoops, I'm getting pretty terrible at this blogging-in-a-timely-fashion business. Don't fret - I've made my ritual sacrifice of acrylic yarn & tacky glue to the craft goddesses, so all is hopefully forgiven. 

Today I am participating in Touring through Blogland, & want to give a hearty shout-out to RaChil over at The Cwafty Blog. Please visit her blog if you like all things nerdy, crafty, catty, & generally awesome. Following in her footsteps, let the tour begin. 




WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON

Right now we're working on some home decor projects - there's a patchwork quilt in it's beginning stages, a collection of photographs & artwork that we're framing in unique ways for a gallery wall, & several other fixer-uppers for the house. We like to focus on projects that are realistic & doable, but also strive to present ideas that our readers may not have seen or considered before. We're also broadening our focus to everyday needs, like recipes, tips, tricks, & life-hacks.



HOW OUR WORK DIFFERS FROM OTHERS FROM ITS GENRE

Our work focuses on a wide variety of skills & problem-solving. Our motto is "We Can Make Anything," & we try to reflect that in the tutorials we create. Our projects differ from other crafting blogs in that we are on a tight budget, so we try & use what we have on hand when creating. We want to show that doing it yourself does not require going out & buying a variety of tools & resources, but that you can make do with what you already have in your house. 



WHY WE CREATE WHAT WE DO

Most of our projects are created out of necessity - if our home, wardrobe, or everyday life could benefit from a change or a new addition, we attempt to create it. We figure that if our project is helpful to us, it will be helpful to others. We also create as a means of sharing skills. Both Heather & I have a background in art-making, so we've been fortunate enough to gather some tips & techniques over the years. We like to share, so we share our know-how with our readers in the form of tutorials. 



HOW OUR CREATIVE PROCESS WORKS

Time management is not our strong suit (we're both artists, what can I say), so most of the time projects are conceived & executed all in the same day. Our creative process usually starts with a need for something: like when Heather's mom needed new rocking chairs, or when our fridge desperately required a makeover. We problem-solve the need based on the easiest & most long-lasting methods of fixing that need, & create tutorials based on our solution.  

Ideally I am supposed to nominate a few others blogs to continue on with the tour, but my life has been a mess lately, so I don't have that part of the post ready yet. Stay tuned, folks.

xoxo, 
-m.e. & Heather


Related // Nomination-domination

August 19, 2014

apron tutorial



Do you guys remember this fabric? It's the same Spoonflower fabric I used in the oven mitt tutorial. Somehow I ended up getting double the fabric that I originally needed (it's a long story that I won't bore you with). Upon learning about the excess fabric, Heather immediately requested I make her an apron to match her oven mitt. 




Aprons are one of my favorite things to sew. I've made quite a few different versions over the years, & this tutorial I'm sharing with you today is a culmination of all of my past efforts & successes. This is a great sewing project for those of you who have tried your hand at sewing & are looking for something a bit harder than a pillowcase or a set of curtains. Plus it's fantastic as a homemade gift. 




One of the reasons I like making aprons so much is because they're totally customizable. The fabric combinations obviously lend themselves to variety, but you can also change up the trim (use ruffles or lace instead of bias tape) & the pockets (can be made in any size or shape!). To jazz this apron up, I put a patch on one of the pockets. 

Also, as a side note - yes, that's me in the pictures even though this is Heather's new apron. She's just such a whizz with that camera of hers I figured I'd better let her handle the pictures. 




To make an apron, you'll need:


  • 1 yard of patterned fabric (I'm using the leftover fabric from my oven mitt tutorial)
  • 1 yard solid-colored fabric
  • 6 yards double-fold bias tape (important - keep 3 yards uncut)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine & notions (not pictured)
  • Iron & ironing board (not pictured)
  • Apron for reference (not pictured)



Instead of using a pattern, I used an existing apron as a reference. Place your reference apron on your patterned fabric, & pin in place. Cut out the shape of the reference apron, leaving 1/2" on all sides for the hemline. After your shape is cut, place the patterned fabric shape on your solid-colored fabric & cut a duplicate shape. Lay the solid-colored shape aside.




Now you'll cut the pocket. Cut a piece of fabric as long as your apron is wide, & twice as tall as your pockets are deep (for example - my apron is 27" wide, & I wanted pockets that were 8" deep. I cut my fabric 27x16"). Fold your fabric in half to form the pocket shape.




Pin bias tape along the raw edges of your pocket. This is the point where I added a patch to the pocket. Using a straight stitch, sew the bias tape onto your apron. The bias tape edge is the top of your pocket.




Pin your pocket in place on the patterned fabric shape. The placement will depend on the length of your arms. I put mine starting about 17" from the top. Sew along the sides & the bottom of the pocket.

You'll also want to mark your pocket dividers with pins. To create three pockets, sew a vertical line at the 1/3rd & 2/3rd mark of the pocket (for instance - my pocket is 27" wide, so my 1/3 & 2/3 marks were at 9 & 18"). 




With your patterned-fabric shape right side up, lay your solid-colored fabric on top & pin both pieces together. Using a straight stitch, sew both pieces together on all sides, but leave a gap at the bottom. When you've finished sewing, turn your apron right-side out through the gap.

Take your apron to the ironing board, & iron your seams flat. Don't skip this step, it is important!! 

Finish off the gap at the bottom by sewing it shut with a straight stitch, turning the hem inwards as you sew.




Pin strips of bias tape to the bottom & top of your apron. Cut your bottom strip about an inch longer than the width of your apron, & fold the ends inward so they lie flush with the side of the apron. This is not necessary for the top as you will be covering it in the next step. Sew with a straight stitch along both sections of bias tape.




Now to attach the neck strap & back ties. Use your uncut 3 yard piece of bias tape for this step. Fold the bias tape in half. This halfway point (or the point at 4 1/2') is what will sit at the nape of your neck when wearing the apron. Pin the bias tape 10" down from each side of the halfway point to the top of your apron. Pin the bias tape down the sides of the apron until they reach the (for lack of a better term) "armpit place," & let the rest of the bias tape hang free.

Now you are going to sew the entirety of the bias tape, starting at one end, & ending at the other. Where the bias tape hangs free (on the back ties & the neck strap), sew along the open end of the bias tape. Where the bias tape is pinned to the apron, sew through the bias tape & the apron, securing it in place. 

Whew! Done! 




This was so much fun to make. What's your favorite handmade gift to give?

xoxo,
-m.e.

P.s. Thanks for the shoutout, Spoonflower!

Related // Make matching oven mitts, or if you're new to sewing, learn about some basic tools.  

August 18, 2014

how-to // sewing stitches


I hope you have been enjoying my how-to posts, because here's another one! I have been fortunate enough in my life to learn about many different crafting techniques, & I like sharing what I know. My combined know-how comes from my mom, my short stint working at the craft store, & through experimenting. Today we're going to look at different types of stitches that are used in sewing. Most of these stitches are created with a sewing machine, but I will indicate whether or not they can be done by hand. 
Straight stitch (machine & hand) // I use a straight stitch for the majority of my sewing projects. It works on fabric without much give (cotton, polyester, satin, etc.). When sewn by hand, the straight stitch is a continuous line using one thread. By machine, it's a continuous line using two threads. You can lengthen your machine's stitches by turning the stitch length dial. 
Zig zag stitch (machine) // If you adjust the width of the straight stitch, you get the zig zag stitch. The zig zag is great for fabrics that stretch (i.e. knit). When sewing stretchy fabric, pull your fabric taut as you sew. The zig zag stitch will allow the seam to move along with the fabric as it stretches. You could also use the zig zag stitch to reinforce seams that will get a lot of wear, or as a decorative stitch. 
Overlock or serger stitch (machine) // This is the stitch you see on hemlines of store-bought clothing. It is only possible to create this stitch with an overlock machine. The machine typically cuts the fabric as it stitches. I've never used an overlock machine, but I felt it was worth mentioning for curiosities' sake. 
Basting stitch (machine or hand) // When a pattern calls for a basting stitch, it is referring to a loose stitch that will be sewn over later. The basting stitch acts similarly to a line of pins that is holding your fabric in place. If you are basting by hand, sew a loose straight stitch. If you are basting by machine, use a straight stitch with greater length, & do not tie off on the ends. 
Blanket stitch (hand) // The blanket stitch is a decorative stitch that prevents fraying, like the overlock stitch, but it can be done by hand. It is used on raw edges of fabric in place of a hem, or for decoration. 


What is your go-to stitch for a sewing project? 

xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // Use the zig zag stitch to make an infinity scarf, or to decoratively sew some bunting

August 15, 2014

links i love // tell-a-joke day

Normally I would post links on a Friday, but today I thought I'd leave you with a clip. In honor of National Tell-a-Joke Day (which is tomorrow) I share with you my terribly awkward sense of humor. This is an animation I made in college. Upon its presentation, it got about two laughs tops. Enjoy.




xoxo, 
-m.e.


Related // Another terrible joke

August 14, 2014

how-to // sewing tools

So you're learning how to sew. You've got your fabric, your sewing machine is finally threaded properly, & you're ready to crank out your first project. Before you start, you need to know that sewing is so much more than a needle & thread. Sure, the act of sewing is at the core of this activity, but there are tools you'll want to use to take your sewing from amateur to professional. I'm going to share with you some of the tools in my sewing arsenal that allow me to sew proficiently & with ease. 

NEEDLE & THREAD

This is your jumping off point. I would highly recommend that when you begin learning how to sew, you put your sewing machine to the side until you have mastered sewing by hand. Even when you advance to using your machine, you will still need to fall back on this skill (i.e. sewing buttons, finishing pillows, etc.). 

Thread comes in different strengths & weights. Heavy-duty thread should be used for projects that will get a lot of wear (re-seaming your denim jeans, for example). Cotton thread is strong & durable, but is also easier to rip out if you make a mistake. Polyester thread is the strongest, but will sometimes damage a project in the long run.

Needles also comes in different shapes & sizes. Embroidery needles are larger & thicker. They often have a dull point, & as such are better for needlepoint projects. Shorter, thinner needles are better for buttons. Needles for your machine also come an array of options & are numbered by strength. Smaller numbered needles, like an #8, are for delicate fabrics, while a #18 needle should be used with denim.
SCISSORS

You may think you need to purchase expensive dressmaker scissors to get the best results, but I'm going to share a secret with you. If you want a smooth cut every time, buy a pair of designated fabric scissors. I have been using the same pair of scissors to cut fabric for going on a decade now, & they still cut like a dream. There's nothing special about these scissors except that they have never touched anything other than fabric, especially not paper. Cutting paper is the fastest way to dull your scissors. Invest in a second pair of scissors just for fabric to bump up your sewer's game. 
MEASURING TAPE

Confession: I don't use this tool as much as I should. I am a professional "guesstimator." After starting this blog & realizing I needed to measure so I could share with you all the actual measurements I use, I saw a change in my projects. They were neater. The ends of fabric actually met in the correct place. I wasn't wasting as much fabric as before. Learn from my mistakes & use your measuring tape. 

It's important that you utilize measuring tape as opposed to a tape measure or a ruler. These other tools can come in handy in a pinch, but measuring tape more accurately measures surfaces which are covered in fabric (i.e. the roundness of your waist or a fluffy pillow). 
PINS

Here's another tool that I could use more of. Pins are like a set of extra arms. Okay, like twenty extra arms. You can't hold all of the corners of your project together at the same time. Plus, as you're sewing, the dogs on your machine will pull your fabric pieces into all kinds of different directions. Use your pins. They are your friends. 

Pins are also useful as markers. If there is an area of your project that you need to remember (i.e. a dart seam on a shirt), mark it with a pin. Pins work well with your sewing machine, as you can sew over your pins as you go, & remove them when you finish your seam. 
SEAM RIPPER

For the safety of your sewing projects, invest in a seam ripper. We all make mistakes, & sometimes we need to remove a misplaced seam. You will save yourself time & frustration by using a seam ripper. Scissors will do the job, but there is always the possibility of accidentally snipping your fabric if you go this route. 
IRON & IRONING BOARD

Last but certainly not least comes the iron. This is a tool that will greatly increase the precision of your sewing work. When a pattern asks you to iron your seams, don't ignore this step. Ironing allows for fabric to be sewn at its true, flattest state, ensuring proper seam placement.

If you do not have room to set up an ironing board near your sewing machine, a folded towel on the ground or on a table can take its place. 
Hope these tips have helped. Are there any other tools that you cannot go without when working on a sewing project? 

xoxo,
-m.e.

Related // How to sew vinyl

August 12, 2014

doggy bow tie

Doggy Bow Tie Tutorial

Ever since seeing this kitty bow tie, I've been thinking of ways to DIY this idea to life. I made the executive decision not to involve my cat in this project to save her from certain frustration (& to save myself from the wrath that comes when I dress her up - don't judge me). Instead, I made a bow tie for our dog, Doria. She was very excited to pose for this photo shoot. Or maybe it was the dog treats that were involved. 

Bow-Wow-Bow-Tie DIY

I made Doria's bow tie from vinyl (because she is allergic to cotton & about everything else in the world), but any kind of fabric will do. This project only takes a couple of minutes, & there's no sewing involved! Because it's held together with hot glue, I wouldn't recommend this as an everyday fashion accessory. It does the job for an adorable photo shoot, though. My favorite feature of this bow tie is that it slides right onto your dog's existing collar!

What you'll need to make a vinyl dog's bow tie

To make your own doggy bow tie, you'll only need:
  • Vinyl fabric
  • Scissors
  • Elastic
  • Hot glue & glue gun (use the highest heat setting)
  • Binder clip or clamp (not pictured)
Doggy Bow Tie: Cut vinyl

Cut your vinyl into two pieces. You'll want one long piece for the bow (mine was 13" x 3") & one small piece for the middle of the bow (mine was 4" x 3"). If you're making your bow tie for a smaller dog (or a cat if you're brave enough), cut your pieces smaller. 

Doggy Bow Tie: Fold

Fold your smaller piece into thirds height wise, with the sides meeting in the middle. Glue strip in place with hot glue. Be careful! The highest heat setting is needed, but it's super hot.

Doggy Bow Tie: Fold

Fold your larger piece into thirds lengthwise, folding the ends of the fabric inward. 

Dog's Bow Tie: Pinch

Flip your bow over, & pinch in the middle. 

Hot glue!

Wrap your smaller piece of fabric around the middle of the bow, & glue in place. 

Make a bow tie for your furry friend

Cut a small piece of elastic (the length of your elastic depends on the width of your pet's collar - I cut my elastic 4" long). Wrap your elastic in a loop & glue in place. 

Puppy Bow Tie: Let dry

Glue your elastic on the back of your bow tie. Use a binder clip to hold everything in place while it dries.

When the glue had dried, feed your dog's collar through the elastic loop. Now you're ready for a doggy photo shoot!

Dapper Dogs - Lab/Spaniel Mix

Doria is quite the dapper dog, don't you think?

xoxo,
-m.e.

Donut-bomb


P.S. Donut could sense that we were making something for the dog, & immediately tried to sabotage our tutorial. She may or may not be a princess.


P.P.S. Links for dogs, or make yourself a matching bow tie!  
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