2.26.2011

DIY D-ring Belt

For our island vacations, I like to keep accessories simple. I hate looking too done up. This year, I decided to dress up my shorts with a few simple, classic d-ring belts. They are insanely easy and quick to make.

All you need is:
A length of canvas belting, long enough to encircle your waist, plus approximately 12" (I used 1" canvas from Hancock Fabrics)
2 d-rings slightly larger than your belting (I used 1 1/4")
Hot glue gun
Lighter or fray-stop

To create the loop for the d-rings, fold one end over about 1/2", twice. Slip both rings into the loop and secure closed with hot glue. Let the glue set. Next, test your belt with the largest (or lowest) pants or shorts with which you'll be wearing it. Trim if necessary. If you used a cotton-poly or nylon canvas, lightly pass a flame over the raw edge to melt it and keep it from fraying. If you used a cotton canvas, use fray-stop at the edge for the same effect. Voila! How easy is that!?

Experiment with different ring finishes and canvas patterns and widths to create a personalized look. My new pink, green, and white striped one is going to look great with my pink polo and khaki shorts! x



(For those of you who already read this blog, I apologize. My mobile app replaced this original post with my newer post about my swim cover-up so I had to rewrite it. I don't think I left anything out. Luckily, this was a 5 minute project so there weren't many instructions to remember! x)

Simplicity 2365 - Swim Cover-up Disaster

Last week, I decided to peruse the aisles of Hancock Fabrics, looking for a sheer material to be used as a swim cover-up for our vacation. Sheer fabrics aren't exactly abundant in February. I'm certain I must be the only person here creating summer garments, as the other customers shopping were still buying flannels, wool, and the like. So, when I stumbled upon a bright ocean blue chiffon, I thought I'd struck gold - forgetting, of course, how difficult chiffon can be to work with, (especially on a pattern that doesn't call for it).

Well, I brought it home and painstakingly cut out the delicate pieces, aspiring to view A of Simplicity 2365 - a nice long, flowy tunic. The instructions were simple enough and the pieces weren't complex so I dove head first into the pintucks. They went together very smoothly which was falsely encouraging. Then, I don't quite know what happened but, when I began sewing the pieces to each other, the fabric started snagging left and right. I was already using a size 9 ball point needle and had my machine threaded correctly so I started playing with sewing speed and tension, tried using a stablizer, nothing worked! No matter what I did, the garment developed snags and runs galore! Determined to finish at least, I spent yesterday afternoon powering through the mess. When I finished, I wanted the throw it in the trash but, as I had managed to smooth out most of the problems, leaving only a few scattered gathers, my darling fiance agreed it was not my usual quality work but, said that it would make a nice nightgown in the island heat. So, it goes in the bag anyway but shan't leave the room as I had intended.

I'll definately make at second attempt at this pattern. It has the comfort level I want and very easy instructions. If I can finish a chiffon version in a long afternoon, I know I can finish a cotton or linen in a matter of a few hours! The moral of the story? (One I have a difficult time remembering...) Stick to the suggested materials! Things go so much smoother when you do!

Happy Friday! x

2.24.2011

eBay Auctions Closing

Just a reminder - for anyone who is interested in the items I have on eBay, the current auctions close in a few hours.

Thanks for looking! x

2.23.2011

New Mobile Site!

For all of my mobile readers, I've set up a mobile site for easier viewing. I hope you enjoy it!  If you prefer the original, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "view web version."

For fellow blogspot bloggers, if you'd like to set up a mobile version of your own site, sign in at draft.blogspot.com, click "dashboard," then "settings," and "email and mobile." Next, select "yes" to enable mobile templates and save. Then, all your mobile followers can view a much friendlier version of your site! Don't forget, Google also now has Blogger apps for easier blog updating on the go! I'm posting this via the android app. Yay! x

McCall's M4440 - Spring Strapless Dress

(picture updated)
I finished! I had to put it off for a few days (busy, busy) but I worked a fair part of yesterday and sewed the whole dress together! I was actually hand-sewing the last stitches in the hook-and-eye when my fiance came home from work. Talk about good timing!

Now that I've used this pattern, M4440, twice, I think it's fair for me to review it. I did both the spaghetti-strap version and the strapless and the instructions for each for easy to follow. I actually didn't need the instructions very much, especially on the second one, but they did guide me along. This pattern worked well with both materials I used and would likely work well with several others.

There were a limited number of steps (compared to other dresses I've attempted) which was great. Cut, dart, sew bodice, sew skirt, sew bodice to skirt, trim, zipper, finish. There are 6 pieces for the bodice, it's self-lined, and three for the skirt plus trim, zipper, and a hook-and-eye closure. What I really liked about the pattern was the surprisingly good fit. I always cut my pattern based on the finished garment measurements rather than using the size guide but, even then I often have to tailor it. With this dress, it was slim fitting but not tight and the strapless one sat loose enough at the top of the bust that it didn't give an unflattering look but the boning and zipper keep it up. These dresses actually fit better than many store-bought dresses I've worn.

The only difficulty I encountered was attaching the invisible zipper. I had already sewn part of the back hem in the first dress before adding the zipper, which made it difficult. For the second dress, I followed the directions that came with the zipper and it went together quickly and beautifully. It did mean I was unable to do a French seam in the back but, it was worth it to not have to struggle with the zipper. I did do French seams on the side seams though, for polish.

Overall, these dresses were easy to put together, take only a day or two and look great! If you want to try your hand at making a summer dress, I highly recommend this pattern.

Now, on to a coverup! x
2.18.2011

Namaste Yoga on Discovery Fit & Health

Last week, I bought two pairs of shorts online. Same shorts, two different sizes. They arrived on Tuesday and I excitedly tried them on. Much to my displeasure, my fiance told me they looked horrible in both sizes and I should send them back immediately.

Then, I was on a mission. I was determined to get into one of the pairs before our vacation. So, the following morning, I got up, did an episode of Namaste Yoga, went for a brisk walk and came home to eat my muffin. That evening, I tried on the larger of the two pairs and the difference was like night and day. The shorts went on without any struggle! Now, he's considering them. But, I'm not done yet. I am determined to look my best for vacation, which is quickly approaching. So, I did another episode yesterday and one this morning. That's it. Three mornings straight. Today, I grabbed one of the shorts, not looking at the size, and put them on. No struggle. I, of course, thought to myself that it must be the larger pair. Nope! It was the smaller ones! After only three days of Namaste Yoga and one brisk walk, I appear to have shrunk two sizes! I've actually used this program in the past (I have the DVD) and it tones me quickly every time! I can't recommend it enough!

Namaste Yoga can be seen on Discovery Fit & Health (formerly FitTV) or you can order the DVDs at http://www.Namaste.tv/ . Each episode is about 30 minutes long and includes a warm up/stretching, a hatha vinyasa series, and a cool down/savasana. This type of yoga is great for people of all levels and moves through the poses following your breathes (rather than those that tell you to hold a difficult pose for x amount of time). The poses flow together beautifully and they help you relax as well as tone and stretch your muscles. The music used is very calming as are Kate Potter's gentle instructions and each episode is filmed in HD in beautiful locations in Canada. The music and serene scenery add to the quality of the practice and help to guide your slow, easy breathes. This show is certainly unlike any other yoga instruction I've seen.

So, if you have a bit of toning to do before summer or your interested in trying yoga but are afraid it's difficult, be sure to give this show a try!

Namaste x

2.17.2011

My Shameless Plug

Today's housekeeping chores included a bit of spring cleaning in my closet! With my no longer working in an office setting, I have quite a few shirts that can go. Please stop by my eBay page to check out what I currently have for sale! All items come from a clean, smoke-free home and once the auction is closed, I wrap them carefully and ship them out quickly. Just look at my feedback! More items may appear soon so keep checking back.

Back to cleaning! x
2.16.2011

Seersucker Dress - Done!

It took longer than I expected due to a faulty zipper but, here is my first spring dress! (picture updated) Finally, I have sewn something that I can actually wear out! I'm quite excited about it!

To test the pattern, I made the seersucker first and went with the spaghetti-strap option instead of strapless. If I had chosen strapless, not quite knowing how it would fit, there was a risk I'd have to take it in or out, which may have proven difficult with boning involved. Luckily, the dress fits perfectly so I can make my next one strapless.

I'm so proud of this one. It's a lovely little cotton seersucker with light lime and white and I trimmed under the (self-lined) bodice with a bright pastel pink grosgrain ribbon woven through white cotton eyelet beading. I chose to hem it to just above the knee but left enough length in the hem so that I can let it out later if I change my mind. I also went with a white invisible zipper for a finished look (the first one broke but the second one looks perfect). Overall, I'm rather pleased with the result! This dress is so light and comfortable and just polished enough (thanks to the fit and A-line shape) that it will be perfect for a nice, casual dinner at the resort.

Now that my confidence is up, it's on to the next one! x

What do you think?

2.15.2011

Early Morning Energy - Carrot Zucchini Muffins

Things around here have been busy busy! Good thing I keep plenty of healthy muffins around for morning energy! This Sunday, when I finally found a moment to do some baking, I whipped up a batch of carrot-zucchini muffins. I was attempting to trick my fiance into eating more veggies but he caught me grating the baby carrots. Luckily, he has been more open minded lately, gave them a try, and actually really liked them! Yay, vegetable victory #2!

I retrieved the recipe from: Fitness and Freebies http://t.co/rG6hpQ4 The worst part, of course, was grating the baby carrots and the zucchini, which took several minutes. Everything then went together very quickly with just a spoon. The juice from the veggies made the batter a bit soupy but it also insured that the muffins came out light and moist. Of course, you can also pat the gratings dry if you prefer a different texture.

These are a quick, easy way to get much needed nutrients and energy to start your day. I'll definitely keep these on the rotation. Happy baking! x


UPDATE: These muffins didn't hold as well as the others (even in the freezer) so I recommend baking a half batch if you're baking for two.
2.11.2011

30 Days!

Wow! I just realized I've been blogging for 30 days! Happy one month anniversary! Thanks so much to all of you who keep coming back. I hope something I've written has helped you.

Don't forget about the "follow" button on the right so I can see who all my wonderful readers are and don't hesitate to leave comments. Love a post, hate a post, tried a tip, let me know!

Here's to many more anniversaries! x

2.10.2011

DIY Nautical Bracelet

Today, I made the cutest little bracelet while watching tv! My fiance came home very early because of the heavy snow storm. So, I wanted to set my dresses aside and curl up with him and enjoy the extra time by the fire. But, being someone who can get a bit fidgety if I don't accomplish something for a while, I pulled up instructions on my phone for a Turk's Head Knot bracelet.

It was so easy! All it required was a small can and 8 feet of cotton cord. The thickness and color options are endless of course, but I chose white for a more classic, natural look. I braided the bracelet during the course of one tv episode and then, voila! A low-cost bracelet that will be a great addition to my summer dresses or sailor shorts!

The easy-to-follow instructions (with pictures) can be found here: http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/how-tuesday-sailors-knot-bracelets-9314/

So, if you're snowed in like we are, pull out some spare rope or cord and imagine a little summer sailing! x

2.09.2011

Spring dresses!

I have been searching for weeks for beach dresses for vacation but of course, stores are still selling sweaters and thermal underwear. They aren't yet thinking of spring, let alone summer! Luckily for me, the fabric stores are! With snow in the forecast (again!) for tomorrow, I decided I needed a new project. I haven't really sewn much since my uber-elaborate Tudor Halloween costume so I figured it's high time to get the machine back out.

I ventured out to get a bright, pink, maybe green print and simply fell in love with a paisley one from Hobby Lobby (that's a first at that store)! Then, I noticed the clearance section and seemingly smiling at me was an adorable bright pastel green seersucker for only $4 a yard! What's more beachy than seersucker? How could I resist!? (I have a serious thing for preppy dresses right now so these two fabrics were perfect!)


I chose McCalls pattern 4440. A classic, simple, strapless dress with pretty details, and (hopefully) easy to put together. I'll start with the seersucker since that's the cheaper fabric. I'm thinking of using hot pink thread as a contrast and I bought pretty little eyelet beading and bright pastel pink grosgrain ribbon to trim the bustline.

Pictures to come! x

2.04.2011

A "Diet" BLT

With any diet comes cravings. The other night, I absolutely *had* to have a BLT. Well, of course, in trying to be good, I had no bacon in the fridge. What I did have, by chance, was it's healthier cousin, Canadian bacon. Not expecting much, I decided to give it a go.

I heated just a dribble of extra-light olive oil in a non-stick Skillet over medium and threw in three slices of the Canadian bacon (one of which, my fiance stole). Meanwhile, I toasted two slices of potato bread until just golden, spread about a teaspoon of mayo on one slice, added about 8 leaves of baby spinach, and sliced two Campari tomatoes (they look like big cherry tomatoes on a vine) laying them on the spinach. Once my Canadian Bacon started browning, I flipped them and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds. Then, I threw the two slices he hadn't stolen onto the tomatoes. I'd say the process took about 5 or 6 minutes.

Again, not expecting much, I took a bite. Wow! Surprisingly, the sandwich tasted almost exactly like a classic BLT but less salty. It satisfied that annoying craving completely and in fact, I think this will be my preferred recipe from now on. It tastes so fresh and is much healthier than the classic. This is a new must on the lunch rotation!

Try it and let me know if you agree! Now, I'm hungry. Time to start on lunch! x

2.03.2011

Simple DIY Preppy Headband

I was perusing the internet today looking for a few nautical themed accessories. I came across several cute headbands (apparently Gossip Girl has caused a craze? I've never watched it...). Most of the ones I found were either ribbons with simple bows or ropes tied into sailor knots. Looking at how many girls were selling handmade ones on Etsy, I knew I should give it a try. Unfortunately, I didn't have any nautical inspired ribbon lying about the house so I used a pewter satin.


Materials:

4 pieces of ribbon (one the length of the desired band, minus the elastic, one 12", one 8", and one 3")
2 thin hair elastics
Threaded sewing machine or hand needle and thread
Scissors
Fabric glue (stick, hot, or bonding tape)
Iron
Pins

I started with the two hair elastics, laid them in a Venn diagram and pulled them tightly together.

Using a dress tape, I measured around my head where I wanted the headband to sit. I subtracted the length of the hair elastics to determine the length of ribbon. Then, I pressed a 1/2" hem with another 1/4" turned under on both ends. After slipping either end of the elastic under the hems, I sewed 5 straight stitches close to the fold, reversed, and then stitched 5 again. Next, I tried on the headband to ensure it fit and, with a dressmakers pencil, I marked where I wanted the bow. I then made the 12" and 8" pieces into two circles, overlapping 1/2" and sewing 5 stitches through each. I pinched both circles in the middle, flattening them, and stacked them on the headband where I had made the mark, then basted them together. Lastly, I wrapped the 3" ribbon around the middle of all layers, folded 1/4" under, and bonded it closed with heat tape.

(adapted from http://www.ehow.com/i/#article_6665289">eHow)

The whole process took about 20 minutes with distractions and I'm actually rather pleased with the result. My fiance actually thought it was store-bought! (Always a good sign for DIY projects. :) ) I'll definitely be buying a few new ribbons to make more!



Now, to learn a sailor knot.... x
2.01.2011

Satisfying a Dieting Sweet Tooth

In continued preparation for our upcoming Caribbean vacation, we're still dieting. Now, you know what happens when I diet? My generally little sweet tooth suddenly shifts into overdrive! It's horrible! Out of nowhere, snacks that normally couldn't dream of tempting me, become must-haves! Candy bars, cookies, you name it!

So, my lovely, encouraging fiance showed me a trick this weekend! When you get that insatiable craving for sweets, get one honey graham cracker and spread a little creamy peanut butter on it (we use Honey Maid and natural Jif). The result is a surprisingly good imitation of a Nutter Butter or peanut butter girl scout cookie! It's so much healthier than junk food but actually curbed my craving!

Now, if only I could find a cracker that can imitate French toast! x