Friday, December 12, 2014

Travel Pillows

DIY Travel Pillows

Josh and I have a trip coming up soon, so I decided to make travel pillows for our flight! It was actually really easy and fast. I had leftover stuffing from when I made my Halloween Log and I used fabric from my stash, so I didn't have to buy anything for this project!

To start out, I drew a rough draft of the pillow on tracing paper. Then I cut the tracing paper pattern out, and tried it around my neck for size. The first draft seemed a little small and I had forgotten a seam allowance, so I altered the pattern and drew it larger.

Travel Pillow Pattern

Next, I pinned the pattern to my fabric (I made sure to choose extra soft fabric) and cut out two pieces of fabric. Then I pinned the two pieces of fabric together with the right sides facing each other.

Pinning the pattern to the fabric

After the fabric was pinned together, I sewed the two pieces together - leaving a 3 inch opening. Then I turned the pillow right side out and filled it with stuffing.

Stuffing the pillow

Finally, I hand stitched the opening shut. Can't wait to use these on our trip!

Yay for comfort!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Grey Cat Mask

Wool cat mask

For Halloween, I made this wool cat mask - similar to the fox mask I made a few years ago. Josh and I went to the All the Saints Parade in Richmond. It was amazing - anyone how wants to can join in, there was a marching band, and people made really cool giant paper-mache puppets that they paraded through the streets. After that, we went on a haunted hayride with some friends and ran (& screamed) our way through a haunted forest. The mask was a perfect/casual costume for the night.

Adding whiskers!

I started the project by sketching out my mask on tracing paper. Then I cut it out and tried it on. The eyes weren't positioned exactly right, so I moved them and tried it again. When I got the shape correct, I started cutting my materials. The grey wool is from a felted wool sweater, the back is the same shape cut out of black felt, and hidden between the layers is a thin plastic layer (cut from an old plastic folder) to add support.

My mask  :)

For the fox mask, I used paint to add details to the mask. This time around, I decided to needle-felt all my details on. It worked really well! I needle-felted all the black and pink areas, except for the whiskers - which are a thin black yarn. Finally, I hand-stitched the front to the back, sandwiching in my ric-rac ties. And it was that easy!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My Log Saw Something That Night

The Log Ladies

Welcome to Twin Peaks!

Happy Halloween!! Josh and I celebrated last weekend as Twin Peaks characters  :) I was the Log Lady and he was Dr. Jacoby.

My costume was pretty simple, but I had fun with it. I already had all the wool and plaid cloths and even the glasses, so I just had to make my log. I bought woodgrain fabric at Jo-Ann's and light tan twill tape for the strap. I decided to make a log purse, so I could carry all my stuff in it. I filled the log with poly stuffing and lined the inside purse area, to avoid digging through the stuffing to find my stuff  :)

Log purse!

Spooky Sweet

Here are the measurements for my log purse:
1 - 19" x 19 1/2" woodgrain fabric
2 - 6" wide circles
1 - 20"+ zipper
1 - 32" twill tape (for strap)
1 - 19" x 10" lining fabric
1 - bag of stuffing

My log saw something...

The log was pretty easy to sew up. I started by sewing the zipper to both ends of the ~19" square fabric piece, to make a tube. Then I flipped it inside out and sewed a circle to each end. When you sew on the circles, put right sides of the fabric together and sandwiched the strap in-between the right sides of the fabric on both sides. The strap should line up with the end of the zipper on each side. Don't zipper the zipper up all the way when you sew the ends on, or it will be more difficult to flip the rightsides back to the outsides  :)  

Then I just stuffed the whole thing with poly-stuffing and I hand-stitched a lining to the underside of the zipper (after folding the lining in half, into a 19" x 5" rectangle, and sewing the ends shut on my sewing machine. I know it's not the best way to line something, but it was the easiest way since I was also stuffing it. And you see the finished product! A puffy log that could double as a pillow - if the Halloween party you attend gets boring ;)

For real Halloween, last night, I made a felted wool cat mask. Pictures of that will be coming soon!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cheese Please

Delicious paneer

Josh and I have been making cheese lately. It's such a fun process and the outcome is amazing - hot & fresh cheese! What more could you want? It all started a few years ago when I was hungry for paneer and had no place to buy it in the small town we were living in. I found a recipe online and realized that paneer is not hard to make at home.

Cheese makin' ingredients

Last Christmas I gave Josh a DIY cheese kit, with instructions and tools for making mozzarella, chevre, queso blanco, ricotta, and of course paneer. The kit has been really fun and helpful. So far we have made mozzarella once, and paneer several times. Here's an online recipe for making paneer with 1/2 gallon of milk and lemon juice to curdle the milk:  Or you can get a cheese kit like we did. Basically you boil the milk until it hits 190 degrees fahrenheit. Then you lower the heat and add in your citric acid or lemon juice. As you stir in the acidic liquid, the milk magically starts to curdle. It is so fun to watch!

The boiling milk starts to curdle after you add lemon juice or citric acid

After the curds are completely separated from the whey, the whey will look watery and yellow, then you can strain out the whey with a colander and cheesecloth.

Draining the whey from the curds

The curds will still have some water in them, so next (after they cool slightly) you can squeeze the water out of the cheesecloth. After you squeeze out as much water as you can, you place a heavy weight on top of the curds to help them firm up and stick together. The curds need to sit with the weight on them for about one hour.

The big squeeze!

Weighing down the curds with flour and sugar!

Freshly wheyless weighed-down cheese

After the weight is over, your cheese is ready! I suggest you try some right away because it is sooo good warm. Last time I made paneer I made a bread dough while the milk was boiling. Later that night I ate my fresh bread with a slab of fresh cheese on top and dipped it in rosemary/lavender olive oil. Oh my goodness - it was amazing!

Fresh bread - recipe in The Joy of Cooking

Fresh bread with fresh cheese - this is what heaven tastes like!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Midnight Myrtle

Midnight black Myrtle

My lovely Myrtle

I finished my black textured Myrtle, and I love, love, LOVE it! The fabric is so luxuriously soft and drapes so beautifully. It is a joy to wear, wearing it literally feels like I am wrapped up in the world's softest blanket. I will say, this fabric was stretchier than the fabric on my test Myrtle. At first the stretchiness was a real problem - when I sewed the back neckline hem, it got a little stretched out. To remedy this problem, I sewed Stay Tape to most of my seams to keep them from stretching out of shape. It helped a lot with keeping the shape of the dress from getting all wonky-tonk.

Myrtle back

Myrtle emotions!

 My silky textured fabric

Aside from the stretching fabric, I really enjoyed sewing the dress. There aren't many pattern pieces and they come together very quickly. If you do decide to try the Stay Tape, always keep in mind that using it will keep that fabric from stretching (seems obvious, but it's easy to forget). If you really need the fabric to be able to stretch in a certain area, be careful about using the tape. I was hesitant to use it on the waistline, but it ended up being fine - especially since the waist is so gathered. I used my dressform again to help pin the elastic around the waist, just as I did with my practice Myrtle. It worked really well to help stretch the elastic while I pinned.

Pinning the waistline

Josh and I walked around Richmond Sunday morning and took pictures of my dress. We found lots of great photo-ops on the walk from our apartment to breakfast. Earlier in the week I was starting to feel the coming of fall in the air and I wanted to incorporate that into the photos, but when Sunday morning came along, a heat-wave came with it. There was a high of 90 degrees! So I kept the sweater + Myrtle photos to a minimum (but I did include them  :) because I love fall and I can't wait to celebrate it!).

Our neighborhood is blessed with many cats

Breakfast time!

Czeching out the menu

Lots of photos to share this time, but that's what happens when you have a lovely dress and a lovely morning walk  :)  And as promised the ode to fall...

Mixing it up with a striped sweater and vintage cap!

Then I saw the book I was grabbing was about graphic design - awesome :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Skillet Lickers

My Dad loves tees! For gifts, I often look for fun tee-shirts for him, but I'm sometimes conflicted because I like the idea of making most of my gifts. This year for Christmas, I designed my own tee! My Dad and I are both fans of the band Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, a bluegrassy folky band from the 20s - perfect fun tee idea. I took an old sketch I did of a banjo and mandolin (my Dad plays the banjo & I play the mando) and I updated it to put on the shirt. First I scanned the sketch and brought it into Adobe Illustrator, then I just added more to the sketch and added the circle and text around it.

Skillet Licker style

After I was happy with the Illustrator file, I saved it as a jpeg and uploaded it to an online tee-shirt company. They had a nifty program that allowed me to see the jpeg on the shirt and adjust the image size to my liking. I gave my Dad the shirt for Christmas, and forgot to post it till now  :)

In other news, my beautiful black Myrtle is almost done! I finished the waistband two nights ago, so now I just need to hem it. I'm planning on having pictures up by Sunday night  :D

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Historic Jamestowne + Myrtle beginnings

Model of historic Jamestown

Ever since I found out I would be moving to Virginia, I've wanted to visit the Jamestowne historic site. After months of living here, we finally made it out to this amazing place. I loved it. Living in Richmond I'm surrounded by history everyday, but standing in the same place John Smith and Pocahontas stood hundreds of years ago was thrilling!

Statue of Pocahontas

Recreation of the original palisades

Pretending to be John Smith.

The area inside the fort is fairly small, it's crazy to think about all the struggles and pain those early English settlers went through. Archaeologists are still excavating the site and making new discoveries about what all happened there. They have an archaearium on site, where we were able to view many of the artifacts they have found thus far.

Dig site

Screens for sifting out archaeological finds!

Burial sites inside Jamestowne

For more info on historic Jamestowne, you can check out the museum's website. There website isn't very pretty, but it's pretty informative  :) 

I also started sewing my new Myrtle this weekend!! I was mostly happy with the fit of my practice version and ready for the real deal. My only change to the fit was making the bodice 1" shorter. The fabric on my new version is stretchier than the practice dress, so it's a bit of a pain to sew. I've started using "Stay Tape" to keep the fabric from constantly stretching as I sew (which it really wants to do).

Stay Tape on shoulder seam.

The tape is helping a lot, I would have probably lost my mind by now without it. As you can see, I'm using a beautiful black textured fabric  :)  :)  :)  It's soooo pretty and soft! I hope I can get the the waistband to work because I really want to wear it (the waistband is the trickiest part of the Colette Myrtle). I'm hoping to have finished pictures up later this week!