Category Archives: Instructions

The Blue Knit Dress

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I referenced this dress in my previous post, the thing I preferred to work on. I based it on this ‘Summer Shift Dress’ tutorial.

The tutorial basically instructs you to take a shirt that you like, make a pattern out of that and lengthen and widen to make a dress.

Something not mentioned in the instructions: making a pattern is not as easy as Ms. Barlow makes it seem.

2013-07-28 19.12.31I have a roll of tracing paper (sold as ‘sketch tracing paper’ in some places) and a fine Sharpie which I used to trace the shirt. Then I removed the shirt, and traced the pattern again, until the pieces lined up with straight lines.  I was really happy I’d reviewed  “How to Make a Pattern from an Original Garment” tutorial from Sense and Sensibility Patterns. I kept that article in mind when I was tracing the original shirt.

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It is almost that easy – there are (not counting the hem/trim) two seams. The neckline I lined with blue bias tape, and the hems I made by folding (two creases) and sewing about 2 inches of material. I made a long sleeved version (like the shirt I took it from) from a double knit (more folds) and store bought bias tape. It’s a rather thick, and very comfortable, so It’s my winter dress.

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Filed under Instructions, Links, Projects - Sewing

The Red Notebook — Making a Cheap Notebook

This sort of goes with my last post.

After I had finished covering the Moleskine notebooks, I decided a needed a cheaper version. Here is the cheapest sturdiest book I could come up with.

It's sort of plain, but it's the front cover.

It’s sort of plain, but it’s the front cover.

(FYI I’m editing this ’cause I finally retrieved the notebook from work… it’s still a bit rough, use your judgement with the measurements etc.)

Materials:

  • 8.5 by 11″ Copy paper, about 20 sheets
  • heavy thread
  • beesewax
  • thick needle (pointy, so not a tapestry needle)
  • A sheet of cardstock or a paper folder, bigger than 8.5 by 11″

And:

  • Glue (Elmer’s quick drying glue- stick is my favorite)
  • pen
  • ruler
  • Binder clips or bulldog clips
  • Thick folded towel (A couple of folded dishtowels work)

Carefully square up the paper and fold it in half. It’s going to bulge at the edge. Later you can cut it down with an X-acto knife if you want.

Clip the paper together with the binder clips to make sure it doesn’t slide around.

Hold the ruler against the interior crease and mark the center. Make 16 dots about 1 cm apart starting 1/2 cm from either side of the center mark  (I know — I’m mixing measuring systems!).

Put a thick folded towel or stiff foam on the tabletop and use the needle to a poke a hole at each of the dots. This is ideally done from the outside of the fold (where it forms a mountain) but is easier (and probably safer)  to position the needle in the valley of the fold. It will be somewhat difficult to punch through all that paper, but concentrate, be patient and don’t hurt yourself. If you have an awl, now would be a good time to use it.

Wax the thread by drawing through the beeswax.

Thread the needle, and tie the other end of the thread around the had of the book (through the first hole). Sew along the crease in and out of the holes you made. Loop it over the other end and back stitch through the holes, so it looks like the thread is continuous. Gently pull the thread snug. Don’t pull so hard you rip the paper, though. Tie it off the to trailing ends of the original knot.

You can remove the clip(s) now. Press on the signature so it lays flattish.

Lay the sewn paper on the cardstock. trace around it, then flip it over on it’s “spine” so it is laying next to the square you just traced. Trace it again, so it shares the spine side with the original rectangle. This is where you will glue. Add about 2 cm to each side of the large rectangle. Cut it out, then cut the corners off diagonally to the level of the original rectangle (this reduces bulk when you fold the corners over in the next step)

Carefully make some pre-folds on the originally drawn triangle. Check to make sure everything fits by placing the signature block in the folds. take the opportunity to bend the cardstock over the signature. This makes the spine. Rub glue all over the interior surface within the original rectangle of the cardstock, make sure the get the corners. Carefully line up the last page signature block and rub it down. Let the glue set before flipping the thing over and doing the other cover.

Carefully fold the flaps over the page and glue:

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At the spine, you will have to cut a small rectangle out where the cardstock can’t fold over the sewing.

Put binder clips on the edges and let them dry.

I put a pocket on the back inside cover by cutting out a rectangle and gluing it around the outer edge, but it’s a bit fiddly and entirely optional.

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Filed under Books, Instructions, Project - Papercrafts

The Final Resting Place of Maps and Other Ephemera (Covering a Journal)

I have spent too long away.

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Covered in the map. Before I added the puff paint, fern and title card.

While I was slacking off, I covered a couple journals.

I got a pack of three paper bound Moleskine notebooks. (about $18.00 at your local purveyor of fine notebooks).

I used an Elmer’s quick drying permanent glue stick. It works better than the all-purpose glue stick.

Before gluing anything, I removed the little pocket in the back before gluing on the cover.

My collage materials:

  • The Sticker that came with the notebooks,
  • Gold puff-paint
  • A blank artists trading card for the title
  • A map from Powell’s Books (They are in color and fold out).
  • A sheet of scrap-booking paper with ferns on it (I punched up the colors with some colored pencils).

I laid out the notebook and traced out the covers. I added about 1/2 inch on three sides before cutting. I glued it one cover at a time folded in the sides and corners:

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The corners.At the spines, I clipped off the bit that couldn’t be folded over.

After I’d finished with the cover, I clipped off about 1/2 cm off the very first and last page and gluing them to hide the edges of the covering material. I glued the pocket piece back on.

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Filed under Books, Colors and Images, Instructions, Materials and Tools, Project - Papercrafts

Tiny Almond-Apricot Bonbons

2013-05-31 20.09.14When I was a child, I had a cookbook published by Nitty Gritty books, Yum, I Eat It! (I think) that had a recipe for “No-Cook Candy”. All I remembered was that it had a lot of confectioner’s sugar in it. Searching for that led me to this recipe at cooks.com. I substituted honey for the corn syrup.

The first time, I made the recipe mostly as it’s written.

And then I got carried away.

Since I live around the corner from a craft store, I hiked over there and got some candy coating to melt in the microwave. My sister gave me some ginger flavored sugar, so I used that instead of sprinkles. I chilled the candy in a roughly rectangular slab wrapped in plastic wrap. When I was ready to coat it, I rolled half of the pieces in the sugar. Then I coated according to the instructions on the package. Crunchyness aside, I thought they were a bit bland.

So–

Enter the dried apricots and almond extract. Because I have those things lying about.Apricot Bonbon

In addition to the ingredients (using honey again), I chopped up 4 dried Turkish apricots (the brown kind, I found them in the bulk bins) very fine. Instead of the 1/2 tsp vanilla, I substituted 3/8 vanilla and 1/8 almond extract. You might have to eyeball it with the 1/4 tsp measure. These went in before the confectioners sugar.  This made a slightly wetter dough that previous, so I added confectioner’s sugar until it was the right consistency. I chilled for a couple hours, then I melted the chocolate coating and dipped each square. I left out the sprinkles/granulated sugar. I would recommend getting better chocolate than I did. It would make a huge difference.

The original recipe is a blank slate to add dried fruit nuts, extracts or other stuff. I would love to hear from people who have experimented with this recipe in the comments.

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Delicious Rhubarb

ImageThis is sort of an addendum to last week’s  post.

I love rhubarb.  It has an ‘H’ as the second letter. It requires sugar to eat and super easy to cook. It is is sweet-tart with a delicate flavor.  The stuff sold in stores is usually red, but it can be red or green (or pinkish, or speckled). Technically, it’s a vegetable, but if Wikipedia is to be believed, it’s classified as a fruit in the United States.
When buying, look for firm, thin stalks.

To cook:
Cut any leaf matter off the top. The leaves contain much more oxalic acid than the stalks so do this before you do anything else. Trim the bottoms too.
Chop stalks into thick slices: about a centimeter long.
Put the rhubarb in a saucepan with sugar to taste. (or another sweetener, I guess, I’ve never tried it with anything but granulated sugar) Use several tablespoons of sugar. I used four tablespoons for two thick stalks. Rhubarb is pretty tart and largely unpalatable without sweetener, so omit this at your own risk. If you don’t want to add sugar, strawberries are often added as a sweetener.

DO NOT add water.
Cover and cook on medium low heat until the rhubarb is uniformly soft and a syrup is bubbling up. The ‘stew’ is probably going to be pinkish.
Eat over ice cream, with cookies or tea, or just by itself.

Tasty!

Other sources besides my experience:

The Rhubarb Compendium
Wikipedia: Rhubarb
Martha Stewart (Includes recipes!)

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Filed under Instructions, Projects - Food, Uncategorized

Strawberries, Rhubarb and… Cheese?

RhubarbStrawberry QuicheI had a recipe from Mollie Katzen’s The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest, (p129) called “A Quiche Formula”.  I did a lot of summarizing when I copied it down. Essentially:

You need:

1 unbaked pie shell
cheese (1/4 -1/3 lb) cubed or grated (Swiss types, or cheddar or something semi-soft)
filling such as sauteed vegetables, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, or fresh herbs (or steamed veggies etc.)
3 eggs
1 C milk
sprinkling of paprika

Spread the cheese over bottom of the crust. Place the filling evenly over the cheese. Beat eggs and milk and pour this over the filling. Dust with paprika. Bake 35-40 minutes.

SUPER simple and very versatile. From that model I made up a rhubarb and strawberry custard pie.

There were  couple things I did to the recipe that might changed the outcome, but I’m pretty confident in Mollie Katzen’s quiche, so I used her methods and times.

I baked mine with a water bath (it’s a long story and probably unnecessary). It’s common to do this for custard things, but usually the quiche seems to come out fine without doing that so I skipped it in my instructions. Also I pre-cooked the filling. Again it might not be necessary, but I did not want to chance the filling coming up uncooked. Cook or no- cook, take your pick. My creation came out a bit runny, but not inedible.

I used “Arthur’s Italian Cuisine” Parmesan which is a strangely mild cheese I had on hand, but most Parmesan cheese might be too strong. Find something milky and only slightly sour tasting ( I originally thought I might use cream cheese or mascarpone as a crust sealer. It might work…).

This is on the tart side. I didn’t add any sweetener besides strawberries. You might want it sweeter, if so, feel free to add a couple tablespoons of sugar to the filling mix when you cook it or to the custard as you beat it.

If you make any of the changes I mentioned above let me know what you did! (And if anything is unclear or I left anything out, let me know that too).

Rhubarb and Strawberry Custard Pie

1 unbaked 9″ pie shell
Grated Mild Parmesan cheese (enough to cover bottom of pie crust)
a dusting of cinnamon

Filling
1 1/2 C chopped strawberries and rhubarb (about 1 1/2 stalks)
1 TBS butter (scant)

Custard
1 C milk
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375′ F. Keep crust in freezer until ready to use. Warm rhubarb and strawberries with butter, until butter is melted and fruit is wet.

Beat eggs and milk and add vanilla.

Pull crust out of freezer or fridge. Line the bottom of the crust with the grated cheese. Spread filling over cheese and pour custard over that. Dust with cinnamon.

Place the whole thing in the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes.

FYI, I’m not a professional baker, and I’ve never even taken a baking class. I make no guarantees beyond my own meager experience (and I even wonder about that sometimes). Apparently I have some strange tastes, so I guess what I’m saying, bake at your own risk.

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Filed under Inspiration, Instructions, Projects - Food

Clownfish Earrings (or, Toys on Wire)

Amongst my stable of crafty things to make are pendants and earrings out of toys. For Christmas, I made a My Little Pony pendant for my roommate’s daughter. (I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but she is actually in their demographic). What I made for her was from an Applejack figurine but it was similar in execution to this one:

MLP Pendant

You can use basically any small plastic toy, as long as you can poke a hole in it. Be careful that it isn’t too heavy, or it will pull on the wire or your ears.

I found the clownfish  toys at the toy store for about $0.50. The My Little Pony was in one of those foil packets which you can’t see what you are getting and cost more like $3 (They’ve moved on to glitter versions of the ponies, and I’m not sure how to prevent those from shedding glitter everywhere).

Here is more of a break-down.

  Clownfish Earrings

Clown Fish EarringsYou need:

  • 2 soft rubber clownfish toys
  • 2 lengths 24 gauge wire or slightly thicker (maybe 4.5 – 5 inches each, and that sounds generous, but you want more to work with rather than less)
  • 4 blue seed beads  (mine are in three different shades)
  • 2 jump rings (I wrapped mine around a wooden chopstick — apparently it was not round…)
  • 2 ear wire thingies

To keep the lower bead from falling off, make a little spiral in the end of the wire. Load a bead onto the wire.

With a thick needle, poke a hole through the fish where the wire should go. Carefully thread a length of wire with a bead on it through the hole in the fish. <—- this part can be quite frustrating, especially if the wire you are using is soft, as mine was. Be patient, and don’t try to force it.

Once the fish are threaded on their wires, load the other bead on top of the fish. Make a wrapped loop above the bead and trim the excess wire.

Attach the ear wire with the jump ring. Ta-da! Fish ears!

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Filed under Inspiration, Instructions, Materials and Tools, Projects-Beads