Well, that'll make anyone feel better!

Monday, January 30, 2012

First I just wanted to let you all know that the rest of the presser foot videos are on the way. I've been having a few technical difficulties with my editing program, but I think I've finally straightened all that out. 
Hopefully the next one will be ready for tomorrow.


Now, a totally random story that I figured some of you Mommies might sympathize with...
(Oh, and NO WAY is that my actual belly. My stretch marks will probably never be seeing the light of day!)

I was at the Dr.'s first thing this morning for my glucose test, and
everything was going fine until the Dr. got to the part about my weight. 

Evidently I have managed to gain more weight in the past 4 weeks than I have 
in the entire first 6 months of being pregnant!

How did that happen? Is he a mutant? 
I'm sorry, I know it is inevitable that I get LARGER, but that isn't something anyone wants to hear!
Especially when Ant will be the first to attest that I eat like a bird even when I'm pregnant.

She did say that she expects the monkey to make an early arrival, but until then I'm blaming it on my shoes!
They probably added an extra pound or two right? Right?

I think I need a cookie ; )
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Who needs a Silhouette?

Friday, January 27, 2012

When you've got a light-box!

I'm sure the majority of you have seen the hundreds of silhouette/cameo/go baby/
what-have-you cutter tutorials that have sprung up over the past few months.

Fish bowl with glass etched name

They are super cool. Right?
You think all the projects that they can make are adorable. Yes?
You are terribly jealous that your blog isn't popular enough to get a free one from the company. Absolutely!
You are planning to rush right out and buy one of these machines as soon as possible.

At least wrong for me.

Shilouette cameo and portrait

I don't deny that I wish Santa had decided to stuff one of those machines into my stocking for Christmas, but I'm also pretty realistic about the budget around here. Especially since the birthday fairy brought me an awesome DSLR, we got a new car, and then the old car had major problems! I'm super thankful for all the neat goodies that I received over the past year. It just so happens, that a cameo wasn't one of them.

I'm sure there are plenty of you out there who are in the same boat. For one reason or another we aren't going to be included into the Amazing Cutter Club anytime soon, and will have to make due some other way. 
Pink snowflake pajamas

Freezer Paper Stencils
I could take precious time to make up a tutorial for this, but why bother when there is a
perfectly awesome one right over at I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar! (complete with a video!)
I just traced one of the snowflakes from the pants fabric and free hand painted on the dark pink.

But, let's pretend that you have this great idea for a shirt design that it is WAY too complicated for your average exacto cut freezer paper stencil. This would be the perfect time to use some of that vinyl transfer stuff! Alas, we aren't in "that club" remember. So here is what I decided to do instead. 

Step 1 - Draw or Print out the image you'd like to use.
(I printed out lots of snowflakes)
painted snowflakes

Step 2 - Remove the glass from an appropriate sized picture frame.
(Cover the corners with masking tape to prevent injuries to yourself and the fabric!)

Step 3 - Scotch tape the image to the glass.
Snowflakes on glass

Step 4 - Slide the glass between the layers of your shirt.
(Use a few tape donuts to keep it from shifting around.)
making a snowflake shirt

Step 5 - Set the glass on your light-box.
using a light box to make a printed shirt

Step 6 - Paint.
Puffy paint would obviously be the easiest,
but I used a brush for everything except the glitter.
(The glitter later turned out to be glue and not paint! It washed off,
but I only needed it for that one day, so Oh well : / )

snowflake tshirt

Unfortunately this process will only work with light colored fabrics. I'll just have to stick
 to iron on transfer paper for darker things, but it's better than nothing for right now.
Maybe I should just have invested in one of these iron transfer pencils though ; )

Sulky iron on pens
What about you?
Do you have any tricks to get around not having the "fancy" equipment?
Not necessarily a Silhouette, but any crafting goodies at all.

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Even Feed / Walking Presser Foot

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Walking foot (also called the Even Feed or Dual Feed foot) uses a pair of feed dogs on the upper layer of your project in conjunction with the lower pair already on your sewing machine, to move layers of fabric at a steady rate. This prevents puckering and stretching caused when the pressure exerted by your normal foot pushes the top layer towards you while the lower layer is pulled through by the feed dogs from underneath.

It can be especially helpful when sewing...

Multiple layers . . . a quilt,
Matching patterns . . . stripes, plaids, etc.
A very long length of fabric . . . curtains, bedspreads,
Thick or Napped Fabrics . . . fleece, velvet, furs, or terry cloth,
Fabrics that stick, stretch or slip . . . leather, vinyl, knits, oilcloth, or satin.

And here is a little video to give you the basic idea of how this foot works. 

Am I the only one who thinks that is super cool? I mean the foot pretty much does all the work for you!
Here is the link to the twin needle that I mentioned in the video. If you haven't used one before, you should really check it out, because those are super cool too!

My walking foot was purchased from Amazon, but please remember that each machine is different and you will need to make sure the foot you choose fits your model sewing machine. Also, the feet themselves differ slightly in appearance, and the "white bar" I referred to in the video may be a bar with a crescent on the end on a different version. Yours may even come with a nifty guide bar like the one on the right.
Overall I found this foot super easy to work with, and definitely think that it is worth looking into if you
frequently use any of the fabrics listed above, or if you are a bit intimidated by sewing knits. 
Don't worry, I honestly find knits to be a bit temperamental too. : /  
But no more...Watch out thrifted T-shirts!

And just in case you missed it, I recently added videos about how to change presser feet,
and the free motion foot to my tutorials page. Plus I'll be adding a few more throughout the week.
Thanks for visiting, and happy sewing!
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Free Motion Presser Foot

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Have you ever come across a quilt that has been stitched with this type of pattern?

This is called free motion quilting, and is done with a presser foot that looks something like one of these...

If you happen to be searching for one, keep in mind that the foot (and projects sewn with it) can be referred to as Free Motion- Darning, Embroidery, or Quilting. It is usually a circular, crescent, or oval shaped foot that, when you lower the feed dogs, allows you to essentially draw or doodle any design on fabric. I have the Distinctive brand version pictured below, but if you are purchasing one, make sure that it is designed to fit your machine. Each foot normally lists the machine brands and model numbers that it can be attached to.

Now, I am only at the very very beginner stage when it comes to this kind of stitching, but I made a little video just to give you an idea of how the process works, and help you decide if this is something that you'd like to try. (I actually found it to be really fun!)

And here he is finished. You can see that my stitches are SUPER tiny because I'm so slow and scared to screw it up! Those little white dots are my bobbin thread peaking through because my tension was a bit off.

It does take a bit of practice to figure out the speed and motions that work best for you, 
but once you get the hang of it, the designs you can stitch are limitless!
So far I've only managed the fish in the video, and the writing on my draft stopper.

This is 3 rows of stitching layered on top of one another.

But if you REALLY have the knack for it, you can make AMAZING projects like these!
Ummm, WOW! 
And how adorable is this pillow from Clothwork?

A few tips that may help if you decide to give this a try...

  • Draw your design on with disappearing pen, or iron on a piece of freezer paper to "trace" around.
  • Start with a strong needle, so there is less worry about breaking it while stitching.
  • Slow down! Don't just stomp on the pedal. It will take time to match the speed of your hands and foot.
  • Always stop with the needle in the down position so you don't "lose your place".
  • Use some type of stabilizer if you are not already working with multiple layers of fabric.
  • Don't stop and turn the fabric while stitching. Just make directional changes by moving the fabric. 
  • (That one is hard to get used to if you have already been sewing for years!)
  • Use "sticky" gloves or rubber finger tips (from the office supply store) to help you grip your fabric.
  • Use the same color bobbin thread so that one color doesn't show if the tension is off. (like on my fish)
  • Practice, Practice, PRACTICE and Don't try to make it perfect in the beginning!

Have any of you already experimented with this foot? What did you use it to make?
It's going to take some time, but I'm super excited to come up with more projects to use it on!
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How to Change Presser Feet

Monday, January 23, 2012

I don't think I mentioned it before (5 or 6 times ; ) 
but Ant got me some really cool presser feet for Christmas, and I've been dying to try them out. 

And of course that means I also wanted to share with all of you guys just how awesome they are, so that you can get them for yourselves. I only just started playing around with them this weekend, and already I'm having major "Why didn't I know about this before?!?!" moments. (kinda like the pattern weights ordeal)

So this week I'd like to introduce you to my new friends...

the Free Motion, Walking, Ruffler, and Tape Binding feet!

I made a few videos and will be helping you get to know more about these guys over the course of the week, but before I do that I wanted to make sure that everyone knows how to actually CHANGE the presser feet on your machine. I'm sure this kind of information is covered in your sewing machine manual, but I'll be honest, I lost mine a looooong time ago. (thank goodness for internet downloads!) So just in case you lost your manual too, we can still all start on the same page. 

Please, Just remember that each machine is unique, and what I show you in the video may differ slightly from yours. However, of all the machines I've worked with, (even industrial) this is one of the most standard processes. And if you are already confident in your "foot changing" abilities, feel free to just skip the video below and come back tomorrow to learn more abut the Free Motion foot!

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Snapshot Sunday - Burst of Energy

Sunday, January 22, 2012

So, This is what my desk looked like on Thursday,
 with over a dozen things on my work in project list.
Since then, I've finished 7 projects, and taken photos of 3 more!

Then I spent this morning making videos.
I hope you guys are as interested in "special" presser feet as I am, 
cuz they are coming your way this week!

I'm not sure where all this energy has come from, but I'll take it.
Now it is finally time to kick up my feet and take a minute to cheer on my boys.


Hope you are all having productive weekends as well.
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Book-Worm Wednesday - Machine Accessory Bible

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

***Before I get started with today's book I wanted to let you all know about the website Goodreads.com
Ant brought it to my attention this week, and if you are an avid reader it is an awesome place to visit. I just signed up yesterday, but it is essentially a "Netflix" for books. You rate books that you've already read and they will give you recommendations about what you might like to read next. If you already have an account there, and would like to be friends, I think this link should get you to my page, or you can use sugar_tart@hotmail.com. I'd love to see what you guys are reading in your spare time!***

The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible:
Get the most out of your machine~
from using basic feet to mastering specialty feet
Wendy Gardiner and Lorna Knight

also the author of The Encyclopedia of Sewing Techniques that I reviewed over the summer.

I am in LOVE with this book and am adding it to my Birthday List right now!
(and at only $15 I better get it too ; )

If you are like me, you can never remember the difference between a 8/60 and a 14/90 needle. 
(Just as confusing to me as the blood pressure numbers!) Well, this book has a chart that tells you which size is which, what kind of fabric you should be using it with, AND what type of thread to use with each fabric. And don't even get me started on the presser feet! With a complete run down of 29 different feet (along with extra tips on ways that you never thought of using them,) you'll never be confused again! 

In the back is also a buyer's guide for picking out a sewing machine, a quick overview of sergers, and a troubleshooting chart to help you resolve common stitch problems. If you are new to sewing, or even if you just have trouble remembering the ins and outs of the tools you've used dozens of times, this is one reference guide you need to check out!

I know I said that I had to have The Sewing Book, but that one is large, a bit pricey, and has A LOT of information about "how to sew". This is a much more compact guide to the information you commonly forget once you already know how to sew.
☆☆stars - No Question.  I can absolutely see myself using this to double check my supplies before starting almost every new project. No more wonky seams or broken threads here. Yay!

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P.S. I got a few new presser feet for Christmas, and am hoping to have videos up next week about how to use them. Be sure to stop back if you are interested. They will be added to my tutorials page under the sewing techniques heading.

Tasty Tuesday - Garlic Cream Sauce

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I can't believe that I've never shared this recipe before!
 We make this sauce at least once a week and keep the extra in the fridge like most people keep ketchup.

During our last trip to Amsterdam we stopped for dinner one night at a steakhouse where I ordered a steak with garlic sauce. What they brought me was SO DELICIOUS that we went back and had it again 2 nights later!
I vowed that as soon as we got back to the states I would figure out how to make it at home.

Served with Honey Potatoes, another huge favorite of ours!

Turns out it is a ridiculously simple (and cheap) sauce to make, and the extra can be reheated reasonable well.
Plus it goes great with so many things! We constantly use it with steaks, sauteed chicken, and Ant even mixes it into his stir-fry once in awhile.

By now I've made it so many times that I just throw everything together, 
but this is the recipe that I started with originally.

Garlic Cream Sauce

2 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 cups Heavy Cream
1Tablespoon Parsley
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
Olive Oil

Saute the garlic in a small bit of oil in a large saucepan until softened.
(I know the garlic is browned in the picture, but I accidently left it go too long)

Stir in salt to taste. About 1/2 teaspoon.
(Trust me, if you add the salt now, you'll use MUCH less than doing it at the end!)

Add cream, parsley, and cornstarch and whisk well.
(mix the cornstarch with a tiny bit of water before adding to prevent lumps)

Bring mix to a simmer.
Cook whisking occasionally until thickened.
Taste and add garlic powder if necessary.
(Add small amounts at a time. A little goes a long way!)

This will make enough for almost a dozen people, so I do suggest halving the recipe for a smaller family.
Just store any leftovers in the fridge, and heat up the amount you need in the microwave. 
I will probably look like jelly, but you just have to stir it well with a fork to keep the oil combined with the cream.

Let me know what you think if you give it a try.

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Best laid plans...

Monday, January 16, 2012

I had today all planned out. 

- quick stop at the craft store
- get groceries
- lunch
- a little laundry
- write up the rest of this weeks posts (while Reli napped) 
- clean up the clutter that has overtaken my desk
- watch a movie with Reli (while folding laundry)
- make dinner
- spend the evening relaxing and trying to pick out a name for the monkey
(finding a boys name has been ridiculously hard!)

It was such a wickedly awesome plan!
And then this happened...


Why do I do these things to myself?
You and I both know that there are about a zillion other things that I should be doing!
Oh well, Hopefully I can at least get it all put back in time to execute my awesome plan tomorrow instead ; )

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Snapshot Sunday - Family Breakfast

Sunday, January 15, 2012

We don't get out to eat as a family nearly enough.
(That may have something to do with only wanting to wear pj's, but still ; )

I even tried to get a little fancy with the camera this week.
Really gotta figure out how to use this thing before the baby gets here!

Hope you're all having a great weekend!
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Memory game gone wrong...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Has there ever been a project that you just couldn't get right?

I started working on a memory game back around Thanksgiving, and really wanted to give it to Reli as a Christmas gift. I originally pinned the picture below, but didn't want to buy a bunch of stamps that I would only use once. So I figured I would just paint on little pictures with acrylics.
Did I honestly think I had that much time & energy?!

Pinned Image

Then Ashley from over at Lil Blue Boo posted a memory game tutorial that seemed perfect for me. 
Just print out your pictures and transfer it onto the wood with some orange cleaner. It looks so simple right? 

Well, after searching high and low for the citra-solv, and trying 5 different printers searching for the correct ink, 
I could still only manage a super faded version of my images. 

I thought I was going to have to go over every animal with a sharpie until I stumbled across this picture.

Pinned Image

We already have a regular picture memory game, and I've been wanting to find a fun way to teach Reli the lower case letters. Wouldn't this would be great for that? We can keep them right side up for now and match upper and lower case, then use them to spell out small words, and eventually make it a bit more difficult by flipping them upside down like a regular memory game.

First, it was no simple task for me to find the right alphabet stickers! 
I'm not in love with the ones I ended up using, but finding upper and lower case together, that aren't too wide for the circles, in a font that is toddler friendly, and aren't black or glitter covered was surprisingly difficult. At least this one doesn't shed glitter, and Reli can recognize all but 2 or 3 of the capital letters right away.

Then my next problem was painting the disks.
Why did they need to be painted? Your guess is as good as mine!
 I tried to spray paint the wood and realized that it needed to be primed. But of course we were fresh out of primer. So I got out the acrylics and a paint brush and got to work. That didn't look very pretty, so I ended up spray painting over the acrylic all over again. What the heck? Could I make it more difficult on myself?
 Why didn't I just go out and buy some darn primer?

Eventually I got the paint to an acceptable state and slapped the stickers on as quick as humanly possible. 
By now I'm so fed up with this project that I couldn't be bothered to find just the right paper to mod podge onto the backs, and maybe I never will. I just desperately needed this to be off my to do list!

There. Posted. DONE! 
I don't even wanna talk about it ; )
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