Monday, November 29, 2010

Craft update: more socks, baby booties, and a new sewing machine!

I haven't had much time to post but I still have had quite a lot going on on the craft front.  In knitting news, I finished these socks...

and then I quickly made a pair of fetching mitts (to match this hat which I had previously made) - they have been great for fall weather.

And I have started the L'illo sweater for my nephew (who is 2 1/2 months old) - making it in the 12 month size since he is already wearing 6 month size clothes and I want them to get some good use out of it.  I didn't take a pic yet but will at some point. 

Finally, my sad knitting news is that halfway through the second sock, I left the dragonfly socks I was making on the metro :(.  I put in a missing items report and was hoping they would turn up, but it was several months ago and no word, so I am out of luck.  They were my first lace socks, too... I already have the yarn picked out for another lace pair, though.  Oh well.

In sewing news, I made a few pairs of booties for my nephew, in larger sizes since he has mostly outgrown the original ones I made him.  I made them using the same pattern that I used before, but I enlarged it 5% and 10% to make larger booties.  I initially enlarged it more but it turned out to be too much... hopefully these sizes will work well and fit him for a while (the larger ones will probably not fit him for a few months).

I also made some monkey booties to match the monkey bibs I had made earlier, for a gift for friends who are expecting.  I am sad that the scraps from this monkey fabric I got for a baby quilt about 3 years ago are almost all used up... they have been so fun to use!  I have decided this means that I should get other fun kid/baby fabrics that I can have just to play around with.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Finally, my most exciting news is that I got a NEW SEWING MACHINE!  Wahoo!!  I will probably post more about it later, but the short story is that my old sewing machine was given/loaned to me by an old family friend, and it is a 1950's singer featherweight... which is lovely and solid as a rock, but can also be frustrating because it often has issues with tension, and only goes forward and backwards... no zigzag, no buttonholes, no nothing.  I had been thinking I would save up and get a Bernina, but then I saw this Brother machine reviewed on Amazon and it sounded too good to be true... I figured, at this price even if it doesn't last forever, it's worth a shot. 

Brother CS6000I Sew Advance Sew Affordable 60-Stitch Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine

Brother CS6000I Sew Advance Sew Affordable 60-Stitch Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine

Amazingly it even came with a walking foot and a free-motion quilting foot, in addition to all the normally-included feet.  I am super excited but also a bit overwhelmed... I am used to working out projects within a very constrained universe of sewing options (as I said, forwards and backwards), so all these stitches and feet are giving me so many ideas that I'm not sure where to start.  So far, all I've done is read the instruction manual, but tomorrow I am planning to get set up and give her a try!  Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roll-up Shopping Bag Sewing Tutorial

I made this roll-up shopping bag earlier in the fall and had been meaning to make a tutorial for it, so the Sew Mama Sew Green Grocery Bag Challenge was a good excuse to finally get around to it.   This bag is inspired by one my very talented friend Mandy made a year or two ago... I love the roll-up shopping bags that you take with you in your purse, so the idea of making my own was very exciting!

The bag is made with a single layer of quilting weight cotton (unlined).  This helps to keep it lightweight and small enough to roll up easily.  I have gotten a ton of use out of the first one I made (on the right in the photos) so I am excited to have another one!  You can't see it in the top photo but you can sort of see in the photo below, the bag is constructed similarly to the plastic bags you get at the grocery store, with side gussets.  This little bag can hold quite a good bit of stuff!  Since it is only a single layer of fabric, I wouldn't advise using it to carry 2 gallons of milk home, but it has proven to be more sturdy than I expected and can carry quite a bit of weight.   You can use the ties at the top of the bag to tie it closed when it is full to keep it secure.

So here is the tutorial - enjoy!  Oh, and I will be posting more fun sewing tutorials over the next month or so, so be sure to come back and check them out - you can subscribe to or follow my blog using the links in the sidebar if you like.  And if you make a bag with this tutorial I would love to see how it turned out - you can share a photo in the Needle and Spatula Flickr group.

TERMS OF USE:  For personal, non-commercial use only.  If you are interested in making these bags for small-scale commercial sales (eg craft fairs, etsy), please contact me and we can discuss a licensing agreement.

DONATE TO SUPPORT THIS TUTORIAL - this tutorial is provided free of charge, if you would like to show your appreciation and support the free patterns I provide here, you can donate here (or it helps if you click through to any of the amazon links on this site, whether you purchase that particular product or not!).  Thanks for your support!

What you will need:
  • 32"x13" piece of main fabric color (for bottom part of bag body)
  • Two 30"x3" pieces of main fabric color (for straps)
  • 32"x5" piece of contrasting fabric color (for top part of bag body)
  • Two 3/4"x30" pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Two 10" long pieces of coordinating narrow ribbon or bias tape
  • Thread in a color that looks nice with your fabrics
If you use two colors as above, a half yard of the main color and a quarter yard (regular cut, not fat quarter) of the second color, will be sufficient.  If you prefer to have just a single colored body, you will just need one 32"x17.5" panel for the body, and you will probably need 3/4 of a yard for the whole bag.  You could also have a larger top panel, or have three stripes, etc, if you prefer a different design...

The bag construction uses french seams to keep things neat inside the bag (since it is unlined) and to add strength.  If you have never done french seams before, don't worry, they aren't hard... it can be a bit counter-intuitive at first, but follow the directions and you will be fine!

First, take the fabric for the bottom of the bag and the top of the bag and pin them together along the long edge, wrong sides facing.  If your fabric has a directional pattern, make sure that it is facing up (the top of lower fabric is the pinned edge, and the top of the upper fabric is the unpinned edge).

Sew along the pinned edge with a 3/16" seam.  Snip any frayed edges along the seam and then fold the fabric along the seam so that the right sides face, and iron it flat.  Pin this edge and sew with a 1/4"-5/16" seam (enclosing the first seam within this second seam).

Iron the seam to one side (I ironed mine down), and then top stitch along the edge - this is easier to do from the wrong side where the seam is showing.

Now, fold the bag body wrong sides together - you are taking the long rectangle and folding it in the middle to make the bag shape.  Pin the side of the bag together, taking care to line up the seam you just sewed.  Sew a 3/16" seam along just that one edge, then trim any loose threads or unevenness.  After you sew the seam you will basically have a tube which is open on both the top and the bottom.

Turn this tube inside out so that the right sides face, and iron the side seam you just sewed flat.  Pin and sew a 1/4"-5/16" seam, again enclosing the first seam inside the second seam.

Now, put aside the bag body.  Before the next step you need to make the the handles and ties.  You could also make these first if you prefer.

Iron each long handle strip in half lengthwise (wrong sides facing) to create a crease down the length of the strip.  Open the strip and put interfacing on one side of the crease, then iron to fuse it to the fabric (see top strip in photo below).  Then, iron the fabric edge below the interfacing up and over the interfacing strip (see bottom strip in photo below).

As shown in photo below, fold up on the original crease and iron in place (top strip shown), then fold one more time and iron again.  You will basically have a roll of fabric ironed in place.

Open up the roll (as shown in the bottom strip below) and then tuck the last edge inside the fold (as shown in the top strip below).

Top stitch along both edges of the strips.

To make the ties, either use narrow ribbon, or sew a piece of bias tape shut to make a tie.  Fold the ends under as shown below and sew them in place to make a neat end.

Back to the bag... with the bag still inside out, fold the top edge down 3/4" all the way around and iron in place.

Fold the edge over again (another 3/4") and iron in place.  Measure 3 3/4" in from each side of the bag and mark with a pin.  Turn over and place pins on the other side to match.  Place the ends of your handles just inside these marker pins, tucked under the folded over edge, and pin in place, making sure to keep them perpendicular (at right angles) with the folded edge and making sure that handle is not twisted (see the two photos below).  Pin the tie in place between the handles, and repeat for the other side.  Then pin the rest of the edge in place.

Top stitch the bottom of the folded over edge (closer to the handles etc) all the way around the bag, and remove pins.

Iron the handles and ties to face up and pin them in place on the edging, as shown below, again making sure to keep them at right angles with the edge.

Top stitch the top edge of the bag, securing handles and ties as you sew all around the bag.  I recommend sewing this seam on the right side of the bag as it will be easier to make it look nice that way.

Now, to make the bottom of the bag.  First, you need to fold the fabric to create the gussets.  Iron the bag flat so that you will have a clear crease on the side which doesn't have a seam to indicate where the side is.  Starting on the side with a seam, fold the fabric in towards the middle of the bag until the gusset is 2.5" deep.  Use a ruler to measure as shown below to ensure that you are not including the additional depth of the french seam.  Make sure that the top and bottom folds are even and that the sides are straight, then iron in place.  Repeat with the other side, making sure that the crease you ironed in place is correctly aligned at the back of the gusset.

Now, pin across the bottom edge of your bag, pinning the gussets into place.  Don't worry if your bottom edge is frayed or isn't totally even, we will clean it up in a sec.  Sew a 1/4" seam across the bottom (or more if needed to be sure you are catching all the layers), then trim off any frayed or uneven edges.

Turn the bag inside out.  You will have to turn the gussets to one side or another, but it doesn't matter which, just pick one.  Poke the corners all the way out, then pin in place and sew across the bottom with a 5/16" or greater seam.

Turn the bag rightside out, you are done!!

Here are quick instructions on how to fold the bag:

Lay the bag flat, lining up the edges and making sure the gussets are tucked in, then fold the handles down.

Fold the bag into thirds lengthwise, leaving the ties hanging out loose at the top.

Roll the bag up from the bottom, keeping it as tight as possible.

Wrap the ties around the bag and tie with a knot or a bow to secure!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Delicious fall pizza with butternut squash and goat cheese

To celebrate delicious fall foods and our 6 month wedding anniversary, tonight I made one of my favorite pizzas for dinner.  This takes a bit more prep time than other pizzas, but it is so delicious it is definitely worth it.  Try it out for a special fall meal of your own!

Butternut squash, carmelized onion, and goat cheese pizza
Adapted from Entertaining for a Veggie Planet
  • 1 batch pizza dough from recipe of your choice (as mentioned in a previous pizza post, I recommend the recipe from Animal Vegetable Miracle).
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 -1/4" thick cubes
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (optional - I didn't include in mine)
  • olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 5-10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 3-6 ounces goat cheese/chevre
  • parmesan to grate
Coat butternut squash with plenty of olive oil, mix in the garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 400 degree oven on a baking sheet or in a pan until tender.  At the same time, carmelize the onions in a large skillet over medium heat - heat up 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onions and cook until carmelized (will take 20-30 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add a small amount of water if it starts to stick too much.

Roll out the pizza dough, and either put on a pizza peel covered with cornmeal (if using a baking stone in your oven) or in a baking sheet covered with cornmeal.  Spread butternut squash in an even layer on top, then spread carmelized onions over the squash and sprinkle sage over the top.  Finally, crumble the goat cheese over the top and then grate parmesan on top of that.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes or so - until crust is lightly browned and cheese is appropriately melty.  Let cool slightly then slice and enjoy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quick baby blanket

We were so excited when we found out our friends Laurel and Jen are expecting a baby girl next spring!  I had this cute fabric in my stash (Alexander Henry Teeny Tiny Zoo) and thought it would be great for a quick baby blanket.  I got the green flannel for the back from JoAnn's... I looked around online to try to find a polka dot or other pattern that would coordinate and didn't find anything to my liking, so this worked out well (I am glad it doesn't clash since I bought it without a swatch of the other fabric to compare).

I made a similar blanket for my new nephew which I forgot to take a photo of and it has been a big hit!  For the other blanket, the front was Michael Miller Zoology in brown and the back was Amy Butler Love Flannel Sunspot in Turquoise.  For both blankets, I was inspired by this post at purl bee, but I used a quilting weight cotton not jersey for the front (and so omitted the steam a seam).  I added an extra layer of flannel (from a light colored bed sheet) to give the blanket a bit more heft, and for this blanket I also made the corners a bit rounded, using an empty quart yogurt container as a guide.  I am very happy with how it turned out, it is great to have a baby gift that I can produce in a few hours that feels really substantial and will be well used.

Congrats again Laurel and Jen!  I hope the blanket brings you and the baby lots of good snuggles :).

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

More Halloween Treats

We had a small halloween gathering, and in addition to the spider treats, I made a few other desserts.  I may in fact have gone a bit overboard.  Here is a quick rundown of what I made.

Iced gingerbread cookies... I love making iced cookies.  Iced sugar cookies are a big Christmas tradition in our family, and we have made them more and more elaborate over the years.  I have expanded into making gingerbread cookies with simple piped icing (see blog header for an example from last christmas) and thought they would be very fun for halloween.  I was especially proud when I realized that I could also make spider cookies with the bat cookie cutter (I got bored of making bats).  I don't have the recipe with me to post but may post it later...

Red velvet cupcakes.  These are Lawson's favorite kind of cake/cupcake and I thought the red color was appropriately spooky/bloodlike.  I used this recipe for the cupcakes, and a half batch of cream cheese icing from this recipe.  I still had a lot of icing left over and Lawson was very excited to hear that this may mean a carrot cake or carrot cupcakes in our future.  I had never made red velvet anything before and thought they turned out very well!  They do use really a ton of red food coloring.  You can see in the photo that I put the family heirloom cake stand my aunt Linda gave me as a gift to good use.

Finally, the coup de grace, I made a disturbingly realistic brain jello.  I more or less used this recipe but started with green jello and added red food coloring.  Also instead of using 2 packets of jello I used 1 packet of jello and then added plain gelatin.  The evaporated milk really does give it an opaque brainy look.  I tried some and it wasn't that delicious but definitely made up for what it lacked in taste with gross realistic-ness.  Thanks to Davis and Lauren for lending us the brain mold! 
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