29 December, 2010

Sewing Trends

SewMamaSew has posted in their blog a chance to be a soothsayer in the sewing world.
Having two days off in a row for two weekends in a row has created a positively bored mood here with time to contemplate what's in store for sewer's.

                  *** For the year 2011;  I have some answers:

Looking back on the sewing scene of 2010, what trends stand out in your mind?

Owls and Japanese fabrics & trims.

What were some of your favorite things? (Trends, fabric collections, patterns, blogs? Whatever you really loved.)
I loved continuing to discover some very creative blogs, and fine-tuning what I want to read about. i.e. The Selfish Seamstress declaring war on hemming for others.

What was your very favorite fabric collection or print? (If not listed above.)
I am drawn to the clean esthetic of the current Japanese fabrics out there, reminiscent of prints from the 50's. I am partial to any fabric with airplanes in it and I was definitely able to hoard more of these. I continue to have fun with garage sale fabrics (church rummage sales are where it is at). However, I cannot seem to overcome my huge dislike of 100% polyester stretch from the 1970's.

What was the best thing you made in 2010? (Be sure to share a photo!)
I think the best thing I made in 2010 was the Chalk Bag for my son. Made a day or so before Christmas 2009, it still counts. I enjoy figuring out how to make something turn out like retail, but better sewn and much cheaper.
Chalk bags are used in rock climbing - to chalk your hands for a drier grip. 
The bag is designed to keep the chalk contained without spilling.

What is one of the best things you saw that was made by someone else?
This bunny is still bookmarked as something I will make.  Alluring in it's simplicity.

And this Anthropology-knock-off necklace is still calling for me to make it. I have all of the materials too.

What do you think 2011 has in store? (Again, trends, fabric, patterns, etc.)
More sewers, more blogs, more sergers.  I believe sewing will continue to bloom in it's excitement amongst newbies as well as those rediscovering the joy of sewing. I also predict  fabric stores will stock MORE than just quilting cottons, such as damasks, silks, & pant-weight fabrics.  I truly hope to predict that bloggers who claim as their own designs - designs that have been around for fifty years if not a hundred years - will get over themselves.
Anything you’re ready for the sewing world to get over?
Owls were cute...
What’s on your sewing agenda for 2011? What are you excited about? What would you like to learn more about?
I just learned how simple sewing with elastic thread in my bobbin is. Wow.
I recently bought my first serger and I am loving how fast it makes the seams disappear.
I want to recreate a polar-fleece jacket that has worn out plus some athletic t-shirts with seam details I can now re-create with my new serger.

I want to not only sew more often but work on fitting issues. My work schedule is still crazy enough to preclude taking a class or two but if it is possible, I will work a couple of classes in.
And of course, the usual - I will attempt to use up more of my stash before buying more. I solemnly promise...   

26 December, 2010

Post-Christmas Boredom

Boredom is what happens when you suddenly get two days off in a row instead of the usual paltry one laundry day off a week I normally manage with. And -- I get two of these weekends this year because of the way the Christmas and New Years holidays fall.

Here's what I made. It took just over an hour and it's kinda cool.

The necklace is a knock-off from Anthropology.  I saw it here.
It looked entertaining for a nice boring afternoon -  plus - I had all of the materials.

23 December, 2010

Hair Shampoo and Rinse

 I've been meaning to put together this post for months but now it seems to be a good time to maybe shake up your hair care for the new year. For the new decade. For the new you.

This is a post letting you know how to wash your hair with plain old baking soda and rinse with apple cider vinegar. Skip the commercial shampoos containing chemicals.
I've been using this concoction for over two years now. Back in 2007, I was diagnosed with severe food allergies and I have always had a problem with chemical reactions. Staying away from many of the food problems pretty much cured my chronic headaches. Soybeans being my number one allergen, it was distressing to find soy in not only food, but cosmetics, hair care products, you name it. Even Burt's Bee's which has enjoyed a good reputation as a careful manufacturer got sold and they now put the cheaper soybean oils in their products.

 I have long, wavy hair prone to the frizzies and tangling. Washing it often is not good as traditional shampoos and conditioners stress it out.

Why do I use Baking soda and apple cider vinegar in my hair?

1. My hairs curls more and for a longer time before the weight starts staightening it.
2. Way less frizz. Seriously.
3. Shinier.
4. Healthier.
5. Less tangles. Yes.
6. This is great after a work-out to de-sweat the hair. (Sweat left on dulls the hair).
7. My hair color/highlights stay longer without dulling.
8. Less chemicals coming in contact with my body.

It takes a while to get used to no foamy lather (none at all). Other than no lather, I've made this as easy to do as I could.   I even took my kit to Ireland when I traveled there last fall for a week. I washed my hair three times, easily.

I think this all started either with  reading Angry Chicken's blog or I wandered by myself over to this site.
Either way, I was researching the internet after reading shampoo bottles and getting mildly sick to my stomach at the amount of chemicals in direct contact with my skin.

This post really explains in detail why you should switch over and also troubleshoots some of the minor problems in application.
And, if you want to read about Amy's experiences, she has really wandered into Make-your-Own-Personal-Products Land. She has produced "Mail Order 11:   16 Recipes for Health & Beauty" that you can order from her.

Okay - this is how I do it:
I start the shower to get the water warm. I take my two containers out from under the sink and pour about 1 Tbsp. of Baking soda in the smaller (1 cup hummus) container and 2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar (splash) in the larger (2 cup butter) container.
I take these into the shower with me where I do have a shelf to place them on and wet my hair. Then I dilute the baking soda, stirring with my finger and pour carefully around my scalp at the base of my hair - all around.
I do some finger massaging and work the 'grittiness' through. Most of your excess oil and scuz is at the base of your hair.
I rinse the baking soda solution out and dilute the apple cider vinegar with water and pour that carefully around the base of my hair and cascade it down throughout.

Containers: I had these on hand. The post about the proportions suggested 1 Tbsp Baking soda to one cup of water. And for the rinse; 2 Tbsp of ACV to 2 cups of water. These containers were the right size. And I don't measure the baking soda or the ACV. It's a small dollop/splash.
I think the oddest item to get used to is the no foam and bubbles. The ACV isn't as creamy as a conditioner either. But it does slick down your hair.
If my hair gets past my shoulder blades and I start getting a rat's nest back there, occasionally, I might use a dollop of conditioner back there to help in detangling without ripping out one's hair.
I love that I am not exposing myself to numerous carcinogens anymore. And,  what's more, I love my hair. I love that is curls more (not vain here) and is way less frizzy.

How I took this to Ireland? Well, they let you on the airplane with 3 oz bottles. So I figured on 3 oz of ACV, utilizing 1 oz per shampoo. And I keep the baking soda in a Nancy's yogurt container (about 1 cup with tight-fitting lid) so I packed my four containers (two for mixing, 3oz bottle and yogurt container) in a ziploc. The containers stack within each other so they don't take up much space.

 Reason # 8; avoiding unnecessary chemicals was my main reason for doing this. It isn't much more difficult to change over and now my number one reason is the way my hair looks and feels.

I haven't reached the level of Amy's dedication but I may try her deodorant recipe this year.

February 2012 update: Still using this. The ACV really keeps the frizzies at bay and I usually run around with my hair past my shoulder blades now with very little tangling.

My hairdresser totally compliments me on the shape my hair is in.
I do use a curl reactant on my damp hair to help set the curl.

I am going to be 49 this year and my hair - for all of my auto-immune illness and terrible food sensitivities - continues to look lush and beautiful.

There are other natural shampoos out there if you still desire the foaming action - with less chemicals.
Angry Chicken has some great hair and facial oils that are all natural.

April 2013 update:  Still using this method.  I cut my hair above my shoulders in January and I have had to learn to use less baking soda and ACV. Really - less is more!
I occasionally get some white build-up on my scalp and I think it's because of too much baking soda and ACV. I will have to go back to original post and see if there is something else I can do. I went to Europe last summer for 2 1/2 weeks and also took my kit with me. Two 3 oz. bottles of ACV - which they hardly check at all as long as you bundle your liquids together at the airport. I did have a little airport fun with my yogurt container as I was stupid coming home and threw it in my carry-on. Yogurt containers were on the 'hit' list.
This shampoo method is not only less costly to your pocketbook but good for the environment.
Oh - and I still have not made Amy's deodorant.

February 2014 updateStill using this method. Growing out my hair. Seeing if I have enough gray to go gray. I believe we use too many chemicals without thinking about where products come from. This method of washing my hair is part of my overall health regimen.
I understand no foam and bubbles is weird but please think about what you are putting on your skin and scalp.  Be mindful.

February 2016 update: Still using this method. My hair remains curlier, less frizzy. I continue to keep it longer as there are less tangles.  My only problem is the white stuff on the scalp. I might be using too much baking soda and too much ACV - I need to re-visit the original post above troubleshooting this problem. I was thinking of trying a commercial no-poo shampoo but none have jumped into my vicinity - I also need to research these. I continue to monitor my auto-immune with a diagnosis in 2014 of SIBO - small Intestine bacteria overgrowth.

21 December, 2010

Unforgettable Kisses

Well- I nearly forgot about this recipe. And it is a cookie that I can eat!

These are very, very easy. You just whip those egg whites to stiff and add some sugar and food coloring and fold in some chocolate chips and then place in a warm oven overnight to set the meringue. They took me about 12 minutes to mix up and next morning, when I got up for work - there they were - all finished.

Our family has made these forever. I have no clue who to credit the recipe to.

Unforgettable Kisses

Preheat oven to 350'
Mix and beat stiff:
2 Egg Whites
1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar

Add 3/4 cup Sugar - 1 Tbsp. at a time.
Beat stiff after each addition.

Add 2 -3 drops Food Coloring.
Fold in 2 - 3 cups Chocolate Chips (I added less than 2 cups)

Spoon onto cookie sheet, lined with wax paper or parchment paper.
Let sit overnight in oven. TURN-OFF-OVEN.

Makes ~ 3 dozen.

About the only thing I react to is the chocolate chips. You can substitute dark choc. chips for less dairy and soy.

I found a video on youtube if you still don't see how easy these are to make.
Tawnya is kind of a dweeb but in all probability, very famous. She also makes her Unforgettable Cookies slightly different than we do.

19 December, 2010

Dog Beds & Christmas Presents

The dogs have been banished to the garage since the new wood floors went in. I not only love the new wood floors but I absolutely adore the NO DOG HAIR ZONE. Still - it is a hardship for Rocket & Rusty.
 We had a couch reupholstered and I am re-purposing the tired old cushions.
 Recovering a basic cushion isn't too difficult. All you need are two rectangles for the top and bottom. And one long strip for the sides. 

Since these are doggy beds, I am rough cutting. My rectangles were 22" and 24" on a side. I used a barely 1/2" seam as I planned to utilize my serger to whip these up super fast. 'Cuz you know, there are only five more days until Christmas. 
Anyway - this is how I cut the side piece. I needed this (sash) 4.5" wide and actually cut it 5" wide by laying my tape measure on the fabric and cutting to the tape measure. Then I would move the tape measure up and cut again to the tape.  I purposely cut the sash with less than 1/2" seam allowances so it would pull the fabric tight, --so there would not be any loose fabric for the dogs to worry on. (hope & pray)
 For two cushions, I needed three strips. I pieced two together to make one long sash but I did not cut it to length yet. I wanted to wait until I got all around the cushion. Now if this was a chair cushion that someone would actually critique, you would want to place this pieced seam on the back side of the cushion and possibly centered. Thankfully, in the name of last-minute projects, these are dog beds that the dogs will probably run around with their heads cut off and chew up in delight - so You Have To Get Real Here.

 In this photo, I have sewn one rectangle to the sash - all around. Where the sash seam is, I serged off about 1/2" beforehand. Then I pinched the fabric together to meet and serged up the sash seam. Then I stuck the fabric back under the serger foot and finished meeting the rectangle to the sash. Hope that made sense since I was doing it instead of taking photos with my left hand.
Just to help me in the next step of joining the second rectangle to all this, I stuck a pin in to mark the 'corners'.    Caution: Sergers and pins are bad.
 In my first cushion, my pieced seam and my corner ended up being almost in the same spot. The serger handled it all beautifully.
 I am about to turn a corner here.
 Don't (Do Not) forget to leave an opening to turn AND stuff your big old foam cushion in. I serged around the corners to the fourth side but left most of that  side seam open to hand-sew after I wrestled the cushion in. I love how the serger can finish off those single edges that will be hand-sewn closed.
 Wrestling. Groaning. Grunting. Foam cushions are quite dense and too-big-to-fit.

 To finish: I stuffed the cushion in and manually moved it into position, then I hand-sewed the opening closed

Rocket on the right had to be coaxed up to come lie on the cushion. He had already settled in for the night.
As you can see the dogs are much bigger than the cushions. Both of them rather like pillows and are always pawing up their rugs to make a head rest. If I get time, I have some four inch foam  I could make a Deluxe bed out of with an attached pillow. I am still getting used  to my serger and seeing what it can do.

18 December, 2010

Dinosaurs & Eight Year Olds

My nephew had the serious misfortune to be born in December.

But luckily for him, he has the best aunt in the whole wide world.

 An aunt who can smell an estate sale from miles away.
 Who was having trouble thinking of a cool eight-year-old gift when she spied 
a gazillion dinosaurs.

The unfortunate nephew has some very cool items on his wish list. 
Which the aunty wanted to get but the poor aunt knew in a few short days, 
she would also have to spring for a Christmas present as well.

 So the aunt, now cool, went home with her gazillion dinosaurs and amazingly, FOUND, the dinosaur curtains she had sewed for her own son when he was eight.
 In a matter of moments, utilizing the rod pocket for the drawstring and her brand new serger and some lanyards lying around, she had made a bag worthy of those gazillion dinosaurs.
 Happy Birthday Eric!

17 December, 2010

And the Angel Winner Is...

Wow - deciding  on who wins the giveaway was interesting. As someone who owns and plays a lot of Christmas piano music, the angel giveaway commenters covered just about every song. Although I must say, Australia's   Christmas Where The Gum Trees Grow is a new one for me.

So - on to the giveaway.

The most popular carol was O Holy Night. Closely followed by Jingle Bells, Silent Night and Elvis!
Making me choose one, and only ONE carol depends on the time of day, where I am at and who I am with. I like them all.

I have been collecting O Holy Night versions these last few years so I am going with that carol   This nicely narrows my choices down to a handful -- and I choose:

TaDa: (Tiny fireworks here)
Skooks   who wrote;

"O Holy Night is my favorite . . . especially sung by a choir. I don't know why exactly, but it always touches my heart when I hear it and I can't help but get teary eyed listening."

Thanks to everyone who left a comment. I very much enjoyed reading some of your blogs and profiles.

And a big shout out to the special people at SewMamaSew who pulled all of these giveaways out of their magic hat.

09 December, 2010

Angel Giveaway

 Since I only managed one bazaar this year, I am left with some bazaar (or is that bizarre? ) items.
When I got home the other night I read that SewMamaSew is hosting a Giveaway Day. How cool.

So here is what I am giving away.

This is a handmade angel, made by me, to hang on the tree or from a doorknob or from your bedpost.  It will arrive with some special angel goodies inside.

The cornet/cone is made from a discarded damask tablecloth in the free box at a garage sale. The previous owners tried to bleach a stain out and they didn't quite like the  resulting 'tie-dye' effect.
Anyway the blue damask is lined with a waffle-weave scrap of fabric. The angel wings are made with some more damask scraps - this time in a heavier white. I took these photos outside and I notice she's a tad wind-blown in the hair-do department. Missy Angel is wearing a halo of small red berries over her curly hair.

If you want it, just leave me a comment telling me your absolute favorite Christmas carol and explain why.   
*** I am on Blogger so you might want to figure out how to leave your e-mail so I can contact you if you win - something like name at something dot com.

I will decide either by agreeing with you 100% or figuring out how to post a random number generator.
Contest opens Dec. 13, 2010 and closes December 17th, 2010. I think the idea is for all of us givers to ship it so the winner receives it by Christmas.
I will ship internationally as well as domestically.

(You do not have to wait until Dec.13 to enter)

There are a ton of Giveaways on the SewMamaSew blog.   Take time to visit the other blogs and enter their giveaways. Don't forget SewMamaSew ships extremely fast if you need something from their shop. I recently ordered some fabric and had it the next day.

08 December, 2010

How To Sell Handmade Stuff and Play Video Poker

I only participated in one Christmas bazaar this year. It was this last Sunday afternoon, held at the American Legion Post #1 over on 122nd ave. (Portland).
I want to do it again.
The bazaar had good sales but downstairs is where the real fun starts with the lounge, the video poker and other subterranean fun. 
Can you play?

You can read their newsletter but it seems to leave out all of the 'fun' things you can do at the legion hall.
The bazaar was organized for postal employees to sell their gifty things they make in their spare time.

I almost forgot to show off  what I bought at the bazaar. 
A friend of mine made it.

 She hand-sewed a bazillion buttons onto a thick toweling (re-purposed). There is a backing fabric sewn to cover the stitches and it fastens with velcro.

03 December, 2010

Even in the Gray Light

 Photographed in the gray light of a November Oregon - inside, no less. A friend said I should post about these newly recovered pieces of furniture. I want to show some of the finished remodeling we have done but the photo light available right now makes all the pictures turn out slightly dreary. It doesn't convey the rich colors like sunlight might. So - even though...

A quick recap: I found a trio of furniture while out garage sale shopping with friends. The lady wanted $100 for the sofa, the loveseat and this chair above. We poked at them, turned them over - looking for cat claws, stinky fabric, sprung springs, etc and these were solid. Solid maple frames to be exact. Probably from late 60's/early 70's.  I even talked her down to $75.
I was going to recover them but couldn't carve out the time to learn and besides, this was a huge project. You know - if you don't get the fabric right, you are doomed!

So we turned to the guy who upholstered the seats in our plane and he did a grand job. This was the third fabric picked out. While expensive, everyone agreed to like it and it was in stock!

This is what it looked like before with the ubiquitous freckles on the legs and worn fabric.

 It's very  comfortable. Looks great on the new wood floors. Eventually, we want an area rug in this room with furniture on the rug - more comfy for the feet on a cold morning.
After furniture shopping looking for another new couch for our other room, we are fans now of older furniture because of the solid construction. My upholsterer just had  a guy bring in a new LaZBoy recliner for some repair work. It's one of the new pillow pieces of furniture and it had  absolutely nothing underneath all the pillows. The guy would sink in but eventually he had to work his way out of it. The upholsterer was installing post-construction stays underneath all of the cushiony 'crap'.

 Here's the before and after photos of the love seat.