Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lacy Cookies

  I'm afraid I've been procrastinating. Yesterday, I was supposed to be setting the sleeves in on the sloper* I'm working on, but I made cookies instead.

  It might have been a distraction, but since it was something I've wanted to try for quite a while, it was a good one. I've never been fond of plain sugar cookies, but I love how they are so easy to decorate. These cookies are also easy to decorate, but are much tastier... lemon poppyseed cookies! I used this recipe from Sweet Sugar Belle. I happened across it by accident, possibly from Pinterest, and I'm so glad I found it! They are nice and soft, sweet but not too sweet, with a hint of lemon. I didn't have any lemon baker's emulsion, so I used 2 teaspoons lemon extract plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, which worked well.

  They were a lot of fun to decorate, in spite of my decorating imperfections. Considering that I haven't held an icing bag in years, and I have only decorated cookies once since I was a kid, I'm giving myself a pass this time. I used this recipe for icing, with a teaspoon of lemon extract added. I'm not fond of royal icing because it gets so hard, and this is a good substitute. It dries firm, but is still easy to bite through. It is a lot shinier than royal icing though, which I actually dislike.

  Now I want to go make cookies again, and we've hardly begun eating these ones!

  *A sloper is a basic pattern piece from which other designs can be made, usually perfectly fitting just the person for whom it was drafted... in this case, me. Mine is nowhere near perfectly fitting yet, although it hugely improves on my first attempt. I need to lengthen the center front, remove width from center front, lift the sleeve at the shoulder, remove ease from the sleeve front and add it to the back, and smooth the armscye. So much to do! I'd rather eat cookies! =)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crossover Nursing Dress

  It's been a while since I wore a dress... nursing and most dresses don't mix well. I've been trying for a while to design something that would work for nursing that would be easy to make. My first attempt didn't fit right, and the fabric didn't work well with the design I made. So here's my second attempt!
  This one has a ruffled crossover bodice with a nursing underlay... the underlay has openings to make things a little easier. There is a little bit of gathering under the bust, a waistband, and an ankle-length circle skirt.
  I used a queen-sized jersey sheet set from Walmart for the fabric on this one... If I was using yardage, I think it would have used about 5.5 yards, with lots of scraps.

 I didn't take pictures for a full tutorial on this one, but I can show you how I made the pattern pieces and tell you how I sewed them together.
  I started off with a plain t-shirt that fit me fairly well. I folded it in half, put the folded side against the edge of my paper, and traced around the other side. I also folded the lower portion of the shirt up, as I wanted the waistband to hit right under the bust.

  That gave me my bodice underlay piece and my back bodice piece, so I cut it out twice on the fold of my knit fabric. I also used this piece to create the crossover piece.

  I traced around the sleeve the same way, adding a tiny bit of length. I cut two of this piece, with the right (longer) straight side against the fold each time.

  For the crossover bodice, I placed my bodice underlay piece 2.5 inches from the edge of the paper, for a slight overlap, then drew a straight line from the lower edge to the shoulder.
  Since I also wanted a little gathering, I added 1.75 inches to the right side:

  I cut two of this piece, making sure they were mirror images:

  The waistband is the width of the bodice underlay times two, and is 2.5 inches tall. I cut 4 of the waistband. The ruffle is a really long strip cut 3 inches wide and folded in half along the length. For the skirt, I cut a circle skirt the same as I did for the ruffle on this skirt. Since it is so long, I couldn't fit the entire skirt on my fabric and had to cut it in two pieces. I added seam allowances to all of my pieces before cutting them out.

  Then to sew... I sewed each crossover piece to the back pieces just at the shoulder, then ruffled up my long strip, pinned it all the way around the new neckline, and sewed it down. I put some clear elastic in the seam allowance of the ruffle, stretching it slightly, and also topstitched around the neckline with a twin needle. I finished the edge on the bodice underlay neckline, pinned it under the shoulder seams, and stitched in the ditch to tack them down.
  I tacked the crossover and underlay pieces together along the armhole edges and pinned the sleeves in, then sewed them down, then sewed the side seam from the waist to the wrist all in one go.
  Next, I sewed two waistband pieces together to create a tube. I pinned the crossover pieces together at the overlap and gathered under the bust until the total crossover width was the same as the underlay width. Then, I pinned the waistband to the bodice all the way around and sewed it down.

  I sewed the two halves of the circle skirt together, then carefully pinned them to the lower side of the waistband and sewed them down. I added clear elastic in the lower and upper seam allowance of the waistband, stretching slightly, then sewed together the other two waistband pieces and pinned them in. I sewed the top portion along the same seam as the first waistband, then flipped it down, ironed the lower portion up along the seam allowance, and topstitched with a twin needle to tack it down. I hemmed the skirt and sleeves with the twin needle and topstitched on the upper side of the waistband with it, and I was done!

 Next time, I will make a few changes. The waistband width will be slightly smaller than the distance around my ribs, so I can leave the clear elastic out, and there won't be any rippling... the bodice and skirt will be tapered to the waistband to match. I will also cut the crossover pieces slightly shorter along the slanted edge, for the same reason. And, when I make the cutouts on the underlay, I will lightly interface the back before cutting to keep the edges from rolling and showing through the front.

  Overall, however, I'm happy with how this turned out. My husband really likes it, and I've received more compliments on it already than any other garment I've made myself. =)

   I just need a colored belt and shoes to wear with it.
  I love how full the skirt is. =)

  At some point in the future, when I try this again, I'll take pictures for a full tutorial, so I can explain things a little better.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baby Overalls

I can finally share what I've been working on! I gave you a peek of the pockets on Friday, and here is the rest:
  Two pairs of little boy overalls, and two shirts to match. =) These went to my sister-in-law at her baby shower yesterday... she is due with twins in a month and a half. These are size 0-3 months, but they look closer to '3' than '0' to me, especially since twins often start out smaller.

   I'm so pleased with the way these turned out! I used an existing pair of overalls as the base for a pattern, and added some room in the bum area, as the twins will be wearing cloth diapers. I also added back pockets, made all my pockets real instead of fake, and used snaps instead of buttons.

I made one pair with red topstitching, and a red envelope-neck shirt to go with it.

   And the other has orange topstitching, with an orange shirt.

  The shirts were originally going to be onesies, but I realized halfway through making them that you don't need to worry about tucking in so much with overalls, and having the onesie part of the shirt would just make changing diapers more difficult. Speaking of diaper-changing ease:

  I used snap tape in the inseam of the overalls, to make that a bit easier. Turns out snap tape is not so fun to work with. I couldn't get it in without wavy seams, and that was even when I used a zipper foot. Besides which, the stuff is $10/yard! Get 2 yards and you can afford a pair of snap pliers!

  I had a lot of trouble putting in the larger, western style snaps too. They were tricky to get in tight enough because I kept hitting my fingers with the hammer. I actually ended up buying a pair of heavy-duty snap pliers just for them, but that turned out to be a waste. Those pliers worked for about 2 snaps, but the internal springs were weak and they didn't do anything after that. I finally got smart and used a pair of pliers to hold the snap tool so I'd hit them instead of my fingers. It worked pretty well!

The lower set of snaps on the bib don't snap to anything, they are just for looks. I used the backing of those snaps on the straps though, so there are two lengths.

  As if the looseness and the broken pliers weren't enough complications, I accidentally put two of the snaps in backwards. =( They were REALLY hard to get out without ruining the fabric! I ended up smashing the post backing into as small a shape as I could with the pliers and gently wiggling it through the hole. It did weaken the fabric some, so I fused a tiny scrap of interfacing to both the back and front before putting in some new snaps.

  Here is what the back looks like:

  I was originally planning on embroidering the boys' names on the cuffs of the pants, but I was pretty burnt out by the time I got to that point, so I left it off.

  After spending over a week on the overalls alone, I was amazed when I was able to whip out both shirts in just one day, in spite of some seam ripping. Again, I created the pattern from some existing baby shirts, using an envelope neck style so they would be easier to pull over the head without fastenings.
  As you can see, I made the front neckline a little too high, as I forgot to factor in the added height the binding would give until I had sewn the binding, but it's not a major deal. Other than that, these came out just like I expected, which makes me happy.

  On the overalls all of the topstitching is done with a single needle in two parallel rows, but on the shirts I pulled out my twin needle so the hems and necklines would have some stretch to them. I also used the stretch stitch on my new machine everywhere else.

So! That was my latest big project! Here is another picture so you can admire all the time and effort that went into these one last time:

  Cute, huh? =) I already have dibs on these after the twins outgrow them... if I ever have a son to wear them. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Just A Peek

  It's been a lot of work, but I've finished what I was working on. Here's a peek:

  I am so, so happy to have these finished and packaged up, ready to gift! I didn't end up using any embroidery floss, as I ran out of enthusiasm long before I arrived at that part. All other supplies were used though, as well as some western-style snaps that I forgot to include in my supplies picture. And as usual, there were complications in the sewing and the snapping. After all, this is Say Grr Sewing. =) Thankfully, all complications were resolved before I tossed out the entire project.
Anyway, I should be able to show you the whole project in a few days. =)
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chili-Lime Tilapia

 Do you like fish? I don't. That is, I didn't until I found tilapia. It isn't nearly as strong-flavored as a lot of fish, and I actually enjoy it when prepared this way! This crispy-coated, tender fish topped with a rich, flavorful compound butter made me re-think fish. Even if you don't like seafood, give it a shot! It might just change your mind.

You start by mixing all the ingredients for the compound butter... garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, lime juice, salt, and of course butter. If you are using fresh limes you could also toss in some  lime zest. Actually, the whole recipe would be even better with all fresh ingredients, I just don't keep most of them on hand.
Sorry about the picture quality. I will get a nice camera someday!

Next you give your tilapia fillets a quick rinse and pat them dry. Sprinkle them on both sides with salt and pepper, then dip both sides in flour for a very light coating.

 Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high in a heavy skillet - I used non-stick but I'm not sure if it is entirely necessary. Cast iron would probably work just as well, if not better.

 When the oil starts shimmering slightly, or when a drop of water in it sizzles, add the fish.

 Cook for 3-5 five minutes on one side, till the underside is crispy. Flip and crisp the other side. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork, is opaque, and the coating is dark golden.
Slightly darker than what is pictured here is better.
  When the fish is done, plate it and top each fillet with a heaping teaspoon of the butter.

  I served mine with a spinach salad and oven-roasted potato chips. So delicious! I feel like a gourmet cook whenever I serve this up. =)

Update: I made this for dinner again recently, and snapped two prettier pictures while I was at it.

  Doesn't that look tastier? =)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 6, 2012

What I'm Working On

Now that I finished the outfits for my girls, I have another project that might take a while. I can't actually say what it is for a couple weeks, because it is a gift and the recipient MIGHT read my blog. I can, however, show you what I'm using to make it:
Red and orange knit, a pile of denim, snap tape and embroidery floss! This isn't what I originally had in mind, but after searching 3 stores with two kids for fine-wale grey corduroy that wasn't sun-damaged, and 2 other stores for plain solid-color ________ in the right size, I had to make do. If I ever make something like this again, I think I will invest in snap pliers, because snap tape is much more expensive than I had imagined it would be.

These denim will use these pattern pieces:

  I haven't created the pattern for the knits yet. =)

  I have a deadline for this project, we will see how that goes. So far I've washed all the fabrics and cut out all of the pieces that I needed in the denim (30, to be exact). I was surprised to find that I bought way too much denim. I'm not worried about it though, denim is a fabric that will definitely get used. I really hope I get this done in time!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Finished-edge Reverse Applique

  There are a lot of reverse appliques out in the blog world. Generally the applique fabric is sewn underneath the main fabric, and parts of the main fabric cut away. It's fast and easy, but it leaves a lot of raw edges. On knit, it's not so bad because they don't fray, but I'm still not fond of the way they look. Here's my take on reverse applique, with no raw edges.

  You start off with the garment or item that you want to applique, some lightweight fusible interfacing, and the fabric that you want to show through.

  Draw your shape(s) on the adhesive side of your interfacing, usually the side with the little bumps. If you have multiple shapes, it's best to leave at least 1/2 inch between them.

  Pin the interfacing to the right side of your garment wherever you want the applique, again with the adhesive side up.

  Sew on the lines you drew:

  Then trim around each shape, leaving about 1/2 inch on all sides... you can use as little as 1/4 inch, but it is a lot more fiddly. Also, cut through the interfacing and garment layers inside the shapes, cutting to about 1/8 inch on the inside of each line.

  Turn the interfacing through each hole to the inside of the garment and fuse it down. That is why you started adhesive side up... once you turn it, the adhesive will be touching the back of the fabric, and will help stabilize the hole as well as covering the raw edges.

  Now you have a nice, crisp cutout, no raw edges:

  Cut a piece of backing fabric slightly bigger than your cutout:

  And finish the edges however you please, I used my tiny serger.

  Pin your backing fabric piece under your cutouts:

  Sew it down close to the edge of the cutouts:

  And you are done! Or you can do what I did and hand-embroider around your shapes for a little bit extra fun. =)

  If your interfacing has a sticky back this method isn't going to work so well, but you could just use a scrap of fabric instead of the interfacing, and sew it down rather than fusing it. You would still have some raw edges that way, but at least they would be on the inside of the garment.

  Anyway, here it is on the little Gaiw, with the skort I showed you here:

Thanks for stopping by!