Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

by Kimberlee

A  Spring day in Minnesota?

Not at all, right now, in fact.  This Spring has been ghastly!  For months, the weather has been mostly colorless...  OK, rewind.

Last Autumn, I discovered a community garden on the outskirts of our apartment complex.  I visited it several times, hoping someone would be there at some point, but whomever was responsible for it came and went, and I wasn't quite sure if the garden belonged to my complex, or whomever.  But it was a gorgeous little plot of land in the back of an open and unused field here on the edge of town, and I wanted a part of it!

last year's garden

We found out that the patch was, in fact, run by our landlord, so all we had to do was sign up.  My husband got completely on board, and offered to take care of all of the veggies, which is great, as I've been out of the growing stuff market for a while.  I grew up on a small farm in The Country, but lived in New York City, the Hartford since I was 20 years old, and think I've developed something of a Black Thumb over that time.  In that, I managed to kill an aloe plant.  OK, several aloe plants.  And a fern. Several Spider Plants, etc etc.  ANYWAYS, I haven't had my hands in the ground in a while, and wanted to focus on the things that I knew I had a better chance of not killing, like the herbs and flowers.  In any case, my husband studies things meticulously before he does them, and I tend to be much more of a Learn as I Go, so I knew our veggies would be in much better hands.

He set up a pretty nice seedling area in our guest bedroom using a shelf unit and heating/UV lights:

And as you can see, it's doing really well:

We've started on the tomatoes and peppers, as well as my lavender and thyme. 

Minnesota had a really looooonnnggg Winter, like the rest of the country only much, much worse.  So when it finally broke 50 for a few days in a row a couple of weeks ago, I decided to get started on planting the patio.

I had a fairly nice patio going on last year:

And I was even more excited this year, as I was going to do herbs and whatnot.  Of course, after seeding my hanging planters and putting my annual container back out, Winter came back, and it has snowed several times since then!  So I pulled the containers back off the patio and put them into the guest bedroom with their friends.  I've been researching some ways to container garden for the patio, and stumbled upon this AWESOME and low cost space-saver:

How to Turn A Pallet into A Garden

How cool is this?  My patio is tiny, so this would be perfect.

So what this means is that once it gets warm, we're going to have to GO.  We're not late yet, but I'd like to have some time to prepare the dirt!  I hope it warms up soon, for the sake of the veggies & herbs, but also for my sanity!  I hope you all join me as I learn about growing veggies, herbs & flowers.  I also plan on blogging some nice recipes with our crop, herb drying & usage (I want to make soap, sachets, etc) and pretty floral arrangements (maybe make some candles, too).

If you want to know the whole truth, I'm really just trying to impress the cat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

AND the winner is...

nicoandzoe! who wrote

Congrats on reaching 50. I find it always good to see that other folks like what I have to say too. :) And, those little mice you found, made of recycled sweaters, love! 

Thank you to everyone who entered, and for all of your nice comments, and I appreciate gaining so many new followers this last week, and also am thrilled I got introduced to so many great new blogs! 

Scrabble loves you, too!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Please enter our knitted bag giveaway! You have until Midnight tonight, and I have decided to include a special, secret sparkly nested inside.

I'll accept comments on the original post or on this post.

After that, go on to check out the Ralphy Fan Tutorial below this post - it's another AMAZING one!!!!

Please sign up for the giveaway, as Scrabble has threatened to systematically EAT my craft supplies if you do not

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tutorial: D-I-Y Costume Shoes

So, the final dance of the school year rolls around later this week, and it's on a Disney theme. Working up a quick Tinkerbell dress was a cinch, but the shoes proved to be a dilemma. I tried creating "slipcovers" for daughter's existing flats, with dismal results. Undaunted, I decided I would continue the experiment and venture into the brave new world of shoemaking.

Step one: use tracings of the sole and upper of the existing shoe to create a pattern.

Brown vinyl that I've had forever makes a good choice for the sole. I trace out the shape of the sole but cut a rough 1/2" seam allowance around the traced line.

For the insole, I want something that will cushion slightly but still hold the shape. This extra-heavy fusible I got at the Victoria sewing show this year is just the thing.

I cut two soles from the fusible as well, this time with no seam allowance. Two lightweight cardboard soles (not shown) are also cut.

For the lining of the insole and upper, I hit my stash for a cotton print that will complement the Tinkerbell green of the upper. I cut these out from both pattern pieces, adding seam allowances.

And, finally, I cut out uppers with seam allowance of the primary fabric...

...and attach to the wrong side a much lighter-weight fusible web, just to add some body.

A quick check on the original shoe suggests that everything is just about right.

I sew the heel seams of both the lining and the main fabric uppers.

Pressing the seams open reduces bulk in the heel.

Next I peel off the paper backing and fuse the lining and the upper together, wrong sides together.

Pinning the upper to the sole should start from the heel and move forward evenly on both sides to keep as smooth a finish as possible. I ended up having to slightly gather the toe of the upper for a better fit.

Moment of truth - stitching it down!

To make the turning process cleaner, I grade the seam allowance, trimming the sole a little more closely to the seam, and clipping curves.

The turned result? Not runway- or even ready-to-wear-ready, but OK for its destination.

Getting the seam allowance to face toward the sole (so that the insole will hide the raw edges) isn't something I can do with pressing, thanks not just to the construction of the shoe but also to the fact that ironing will just melt the vinyl. I end up doing this step by hand, using an upholstery needle and a double thickness of strong thread. I'm not too fussy about perfectly straight lines or anything - just getting it tacked down appropriately.

By the time I finish them both, I'm glad I started with the difficult toe sections first, to get them out of the way.

Now for the insoles! I test the cardboard templates I first cut and trim them as needed to fit.

They're positioned on top of the heavy-weight fusible, which is in turn centered on the WRONG side of the insole lining. Press thoroughly following manufacturer's directions on both sides to firmly adhere both the cardboard and the lining to the fusible.

Using scraps of the lightweight fusible used on the uppers, I cut bits to fit the entire seam allowance of each insole and fuse them.

Peeling off the paper backing, I clip curves roughly every inch or so around the entire insole.

These bits can then be fused to the wrong side of the cardboard. On the shallow curves you may be able to do up to 3-4 at once; on the deeper ones, in some cases, one at a time.

Voila! The insoles slip right in and cover up the raw edges of the sole, just as in a "real" shoe.

Now I trim down the seam allowance of the main edge of the uppers, using the fusible as a guide. A quick pressing from the inside helps ensure the upper and lining stay together and keep a clean edge.

A compatible color of single-fold bias tape is used to cover this edge. (If I had this project to do over again, I would complete this step before attaching the upper to the sole: even with the insoles removed, this was kind of a pain to maneuver at the sewing machine. But I wanted that "almost-done" moment that a finishing touch like a binding adds...)

Using extra bias, I create casings for elastic to act as straps, since these are not as "constructed" as real shoes and might otherwise have a tendency to slip off.

And the final Tinkerbell touch - pompoms I made ahead yesterday with white yarn and a touch of some lime green lame thread I happened to have around.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

HELP ME with the Prettiest Grab Bag Fabric Ever

by Kimberlee

One of my best friends and blog mate Eileen (Ralphy Fan) has an uncanny ability to find beautiful and unique fabrics, notions and other doodads.  As you've seen from her posts here, she has an amazing eye and talent, and works in that wonderful space where art and craft marry.  And, a few year ago, she made me a She-Ra costume for Halloween!

Oh yes, I DO have the power!

She is also an amazing quilter, and knows that I want to learn how to quilt, though I'd rather go for something free-form and less precise, and I also get the hot sweats when trying to pick out coordinating fabric. 

So she sent me this lovely Grab Bag from Mostly Silk, operating out of Vancouver.  Here's my package

Aren't the fabrics and notions gorgeous?  I love laying them out and looking at them.  But I have no idea what to do from here - I can't just start cutting.  I want to do something that relies less on precision cutting and more on some sort of quilt impressonism.

So what I wanted to know from you, my lovely readers, is if you have any suggestions, preferably with links, for what I can do.  I need a LOT of handholding on this one.  Eileen, this would be MUCH EASIER if you were here helping me with this, I bet we'd have something gorgeous knocked out and be halfway done with my clothing projects, too.  I've never sewed with anyone else, that sounds so fun!

So thank you in advance for ANY suggestions, sites, links, patterns, etcs you have.  Remember that my experience is exactly zero, though I do know how to sew, which is a plus I hope?

OH!  And I just wanted to remind you that we STILL HAVE A GIVEAWAY, so please enter.  You don't even have to Fan Up to do it!  Please come on over and leave a comment.

No thumbs, and I'm STILL better at French Knots...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Fifty! (Plus Giveaway)

Wow, FIFTY followers!  Thank you soooooo much for believing in me enough to befriend my new, little blog.  Ever since we've started, we've explored Ren Faire Wear, low-sugar cooking, Anthro knock-offs, first dress forms, first dresses, upycles, remakes, and more, and I appreciate you being there with me every step of the way.

Especially through some of the darker, sadder parts, like crafter's block and listening to me talk about my long, ongoing fight with breast cancer.  Thank you, all.

So one of the new things I have learned is how to knit!  I can still only do squares and rectangles, but I have gotten pretty good at patterns, and am currently knitting cables.  I think I am going to go with my original plan, and knit a bunch of squares with different textures, patterns and colors, then sew them together to make an afghan.  A sampler, of sorts.

So for a giveaway, I am giving this knitted pocketbook, made by me!

To Win:

Just leave a nice comment, either about me or my blog!  I want you to be my Google Friends because you like my blog, so following isn't necessary for this giveaway.

for an extra entry:

Mention this contest on your blog, then come back and tell me, and you get another entry.  If you don't have a blog, or want another entry, mention this contest on Facebook (and come back to tell me about it).

This Giveaway ends Tuesday the 19th.

So that's it!  Once again, THANK YOU to my first, special 50.

Scrabble, thinking fondly of all of her wonderful Google Friends....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

by Kimberlee

 Do you recall the Anthropologie Knock-Off post of a few days ago?  We all fell in love with this Bow Bag AKO made by The Little Apple Seed:
Isn't it an amazing replica?  And so versatile!

As luck would have it, I had some toile I had just purchased from the Jo Ann's scrap bin, and some denim scraps from the many times I have chickened out from making shorts.  Wanna see?

I'm pretty pleased with it!  My bow is larger for some reason, but that's ok.  I had no problems making the bag from the instructions, but they are for someone who has made purses before, and the pictures from the tutorial are excellent.

My father is visiting now, so I'm going to take this baby out for a spin today.  Now I just need to find an outfit that coordinates with my purse...

Scrabble stalking the birds

Wishin' and Hopin' and Dreamin'