Friday, December 31, 2010

Handmade Christmas revealed!

When I first flipped through Wenlan Chia's book Twinkle Sews, one of the first projects on my to-do list was the On The Sidelines sweatshirt.  I basically copied the version from the book, making the sweatshirt up in a nice beige colour and adding some studs I found at Dressew in Vancouver ($0.25 for a package of 35!).  I ended up making 2 versions of this project, with the intent of giving both of them away to my sisters-in-law for Christmas.

For J's version, I added a self-drafted hood since she prefers hoodies over sweatshirts.  I also increased the length of the sleeves to full-length (as opposed to the 3/4 length sleeves in the pattern).  I'm not sure what the deal is with the waistband at the bottom of the top, but I shorted it by several inches and it was still WAAAAY too big, so I ended up adding a drawstring so it could be cinched up.

Bunnyhug / Hoodie version for Jana
I plan to give the sweatshirt version to my other sister-in-law, but since she lives in England I won't be able to give it to her until next summer when she comes home for her wedding.  I haven't had a chance to sew the buttons on it yet, but now that I have my fancy new Janome sewing machine, button-holes are no longer a problem for me.  Woot woot!
Sweatshirt version for Caleigh - try and act surprised!
I also made a nice wrap dress for my mom using the Crepe pattern from Colette.  My mom's favorite colour is royal blue, so I found this fabric (in the clearance centre, funny enough) that I knew would be just perfect.  Sorry the photos aren't that great of quality.  She also just threw it on over what she was already wearing so it's kind of hard to see the dress.  But I promise it's really nice!  She was so happy and is excited to wear it in the spring.
My mom showing off the front of the dress, plus my in-laws' dog says hello!

Back view of the dress, plus my mother-in-law with some turkey action in the background

I also made a purse for my husband's nana, as well as a hot water bottle cover for his great-aunt.  I can't seem to find photos of either of them at the moment, but I know I did take some!  Anyways, it's New Year's Eve tonight (not typically one of my favourite nights, it always seems to be a let-down), but it should be alright.  We're going to some friends' place for a house party, so I'd better scoot and get ready.  Hope all 5 of you that might possibly read this have a safe, healthy and happy 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Wrap Up

We've just arrived back home after spending nearly a week at my husband's parents house in the North Okanagan.  We had a lovely Christmas, filled with FAR too much food and drink.  To help detox our bodies I made my favourite lentil soup and a big spinach salad for dinner.  I can't quite remember where the recipe came from, but I think it might've been a Moroccan-style cookbook I borrowed from the library a few years ago.  I will share it here anyways, but please let me know if you know where the recipe came from so I can give proper credit:

Lentil Soup with Lemon (serves 4)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp chili powder
1 32-ounce carton chicken broth
1 cup dried red lentils
1 large carrot, diced
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (optional - I never add it b/c I'm not a big cilantro fan)
1 pinch chili powder

  • Put first 8 ingredients in large pot over medium heat for 2 minutes
  • Stir in next 3 ingredients, bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  • Add the lemon juice, cilantro and chili powder.  Serve!  Yum yum!
  • I usually add an extra tbsp of lemon juice at the end because I like it quite lemony, and I often throw in a bit more garlic.
I was very lucky this Christmas since my husband surprised me with a brand new sewing machine!!!  He did a whole bunch of research online and talked to several knowledgeable sources (i.e., his nana, aunt, mother, and my dad and step-mother) and they ALL recommended the Janome brand.  I am now the proud owner of the Janome 3160 QDC!!!!  I haven't had much of a chance to use it yet (since we just arrived home a few hours ago) but I did practice threading the machine and tried out a few of the embroidery stitches on some scrap fabric.  I am positively drooling thinking of all the fun embellishments I can add on projects now.

I accidentally forgot my camera in Vernon, but will post later about my Handmade Christmas since all my photos are on said camera :-(  I made the Colette Crepe dress for my mom, a modified On The Sidelines sweatshirt for my sister-in-law from the fabulous Twinkle Sews book, and a cozy fleece cloche hat for my other sister-in-law and my mother-in-law.  Everyone liked their gifts and I had lots of fun (and tears - on the sweatshirt) making them!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Turban Headbands!

I'd been thinking for awhile now about making a turban-style headband... lo and behold Burdastyle read my mind and posted this article last week!  That's it!  I finally went for it on Friday!  They were so quick and easy that I ended up making two of them in one evening!

Originally I started following this video by New York Design Shop, using the 8" x 24" measurements in the video, but quickly found the turban to be WAY too tight.  I suppose the fabric I chose wasn't stretchy enough...  But it is a great project anyways!

For my version you will need:

  • Stretchy-knit fabric like a t-shirt, etc. (I found a royal blue velour zip-up bunnyhug at Value Village for $4!)
  • Thread (duh)
  • Sewing machine that can do a stretch-stitch, or you can hand-sew it...  (I'm impatient and HATE hand-sewing)

Step 1.  Measure out two 8" by 24" rectangles.  I used fabric from the back of the jacket.

Step 2.  Fold each rectangle in half lengthwise, right sides together (read: "right side" means the part of the fabric that you want to show on the outside of the finished headband). Sew a straight line down the long side so you create a tube.  Turn the fabric tube inside out so that your raw ends are on the inside.

Step 3 (Optional).  On one of my turban-style headbands I decided to add some embellishment.  I found these round studs at Dressew in Vancouver.  I simply pushed them through the top layer of the tube and then folded the little teeth to secure them.  It was pretty easy to reach inside the tube and add the studs since I placed them near the opening on both ends of the tube.  Since there is another layer of fabric underneath the studs (between the outside and the part sitting against the head) it should be nice and comfy!

Step 4.  Since my fabric had a finished edge along what used to be the bottom hem of the jacket, I simply tucked the raw edges end of the tube inside the finished edge.  Sew a straight line to join the two ends together.  You will now have a circular tube, and it will look like a headband!
Step 5.  I made another (smaller) tube using the same method as Step 2 and then wrapped it over the joined ends (as per Step 4) to hide the joined ends so it looks like a continuous headband with a "knot" in the front.  I secured the smaller "wrap" tube in the same way as Step 4 by tucking the raw edges inside the hemmed edge.  To keep the "knot" from sliding around, I hand-tacked (read: hand-sewed) a few stitches on the back.

Headband #1 all finished!

Headband #2 all finished!
Lovin' the studs!
Easy peasy!  I love the look of the headbands, they look so chic and the studs add just the right amount of bling!

A Belated November Update...

Aaarg!  I am still trying to get the hang of this blogging thing (geez I sound like an old lady sometimes, ha ha ha)...  I wrote the LONGEST post last week, complete with lovely photos and hyperlinks galore when the entire thing crashed on me and deleted all my hard work!  Grrr....  So I had to give my temper some time to cool off before trying to write another post!

Back in November on Remembrance Day long weekend, N and I drove down to the coast to visit some friends in Squamish.  We also took a day trip into Vancouver where I experienced my sewing / crafty nirvana... Dressew!!!  I read the reviews online so I sort of knew what to expect; many cheap fabrics, lots of costume stuff, and SOOOO much notions (which are all in the basement).  Most of the online reviews said the staff was super unfriendly, but I didn't find that at all!  The lady who worked in the clearance section of the basement was HILARIOUS and showed me some ridiculous upholstery fabric that had Jesus images all over it - perfect to reupholster your furniture with (lol)!  N and I found meter parking nearby so the clock was literally ticking.  I didn't have much time (only 30 minutes) luckily I had made a list beforehand complete with fabric swatches and fabric amount requirements for my various upcoming projects.  I ended up mostly buying some notions, but did find some fab chocolate brown ultra-suede fabric that I plan to use to (finally!) make a bed-skirt for our king-sized bed.

I ended up finding lilac bias-tape and a lilac zipper with which I was able to complete my entry project for Burdastyle's Bernina 3 Series contest (obviously I didn't win, nor did I expect to considering the amazing talent that is out there!) but it was fun and a good learning experience.  I used Burdatyle's Marie skirt pattern in a grey wool fabric I found at a thrift store, and made the top part of the dress from a combination of a few different bodice patterns.  The lilac cotton fabric was also a thrift store score for just a few dollars.  I wanted to make a cool, layered collar but unfortunately didn't have enough fabric.  I was inspired by the Blakely dress by J. Crew, and added a ruffle around the neckline.  I love the result!  N snapped this photo of me just after the first snowfall here in the Southern Interior, and it's actually just water in my martini glass (it's also like 10am in the pic, lol).

We also went with a group of friends to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows one Tightwad Tuesday back in mid-November.  (I am not sure if this is just a Canadian thing, but most theatres offer reduced admission prices on Tuesday evenings across Canada...)  I am a HUGE fan of the novels, and therefore a big fan of the films as well.  I was very pleased with the film version of Deathly Hallows, mostly because they are presenting the story in two films.  I've heard lots of people complaining and saying "it's just a money grab to make two parts".  Obviously these folks have not read the books, because if they had, they would know that there really isn't anything that can be left out.  Otherwise the story wouldn't make sense at all!   This is definitely a dark film (obviously, considering the storyline) but they did an amazing job of injecting humour into the film via the Weasley twins, Ron, and Luna.  Bravo!

I am back to work part-time now (which is nice), and I'm using my spare time to get started on my Handmade Christmas!  Like many people out there, I'm part of a "blended family" so not only do I have my blood-relatives, I also have a step-family, and now in-laws as well!  Not that big of a deal if you're not close with your family, but I am!  I'm also very fortunate to have gained sisters over the years...  I have one younger brother (who I adore) but I've ALWAYS wanted a sister, especially now that I am older and see my friends' amazing friendships with their sisters.  Luckily my husband's sister is totally amazing and she, like me, did not have any sisters growing up.  So now I finally have a sister - yippee!!!  My husband's brother is also engaged to an amazing woman who I am also proud to call my sister, AND my brother is also dating a fantastic girl who I completely adore.  I have been frantically sewing away for all 3 of my sisters and am soooo excited about what I've made for them!  I will be posting more about my Handmade Christmas later since I don't want to ruin any surprises!

I love Christmas (and I also believe in it as well), but I can't stand the mass-consumerism that is associated with it these days...  I like to handmake gifts for friends and family, not only because I can't afford to buy lots of things for people I also find that a handmade gift is much more personal.  What sorts of things do you like to do to show people you love them around the holidays?