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Monday, July 27, 2015

Planning My Fall Sewing Projects

by Tonya

Are you planning any projects to sew for fall yet? Sarai's recent post on Coletterie is all about planning ahead and sewing for fall. Already?! I still have things to sew for this summer. But I have to admit that it's a great idea to think ahead a few months, especially if you're a slow sewist, like I am. I put together some things that I'd like to sew for fall:

Things to sew for Fall

Upper left corner: I've already cut out the fabric for this Bettine dress. It's double gauze, which should stay cool in the summer and warm in fall. I can add a cardigan, tights, and boots for extra warmth. (See how I'm talking myself into believing that this isn't just a summer dress? It will work for cooler weather, too! Really!)

Upper right corner: Anna pants in a dark green french terry. Hopefully they would look good enough to go out running errands, and they should definitely be cozy and comfortable for around the house. 

Lower left corner: I love the look of and the reviews for this Linden sweatshirt pattern. I chose a turquoise french terry. A good-looking, comfy sweatshirt was seriously lacking from my wardrobe last year.

Lower right corner: Sailor Sue pants in drapey jersey. The taupe is probably more practical, because patterned wide-legged pants can easily be too much. But in theory, I like the dark blue with white squares. Maybe the pattern would be subtle enough for pants?

Four pieces might be a reasonable goal for me to sew before fall arrives, but it's fun to daydream. If I were to have time to sew a bunch, I'd love to make the following clothes, too:

More things to sew for Fall 2015

Upper left corner: the Oslo cardigan, possibly without buttons. A stripey blue would be nice.

Upper right corner: a v-neck Aberdeen in a black and white aztec print jersey would get a lot of use. I've only sewn a knit v-neck once before, and I didn't quite master the technique. This shirt would give me a reason to get more practice!

Center left: a cropped Astoria sweatshirt would be great with high-waisted skirts and pants. Avocado green french terry seems like a good match.

Center right: this easy-to-sew Danni dolman sleeved dress seems quick and simple. I couldn't decide what color I'd want. I think I'd go with a print, but I'm curious about that yellow-green colored jersey. According to some seasonal color analysis websites, that is one of my colors - but I've never tried it.

Lower left corner: an Italia shirt dress in two-toned chambray would be really fun! This dress would make me stretch my sewing skills, and would feel like a big accomplishment if it turned out well. 

Lower right corner: this Mesa shift dress could come in handy in so many colors! I'm imagining an off-white french terry to stay warm on a brisk day, and a messy plaid jersey print when I feel like I don't want to wear sweatshirt material (could that happen? I don't know if you noticed, but I have four different colors of french terry included in this round-up! I think it's a theme.)   

What do you think? Will you be sewing any sweatshirts and sweatpants this year? What are you planning for fall and winter?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Three Solid Lotion Bar Recipes: Karma, Serenity, and Ache Relief

One thing that Tonya and I both like is LOTION.  Well, any apothecary, really...from lotions to bath bombs to oils, perfumes, and makeup.

This time we got together, we made lotion bars.

I made three recipes.  Each quantity is by weight in ounces, and the process for melting and molding each one was the same.

"Karma" bars
2 oz beeswax
2 oz shea butter
2 oz almond oil
3/4 stick Karma solid perfume from LUSH

-melt all ingredients together in a double boiler and pour into molds.

Because I used a store-bought, proprietary fragrance, this isn't one that I could ever sell, but I really do enjoy it for personal use!

Chocolate and Rose bars
4 oz coconut oil
4 oz shea butter
2.5 oz beeswax
chocolate and rose essential oils

Peanut oil muscle aches bars
2 oz beeswax
2 oz shea butter
2 oz peanut oil
a few drops dōTerra "Serenity"

Peanut oil has been shown to reduce muscle and arthritis pain, as well as having a number of benefits for the skin.  I don't notice any peanutty smell in the lotion, and have seen improvement in my knee and lower back pain. If you have joint pain or even aches from working out (I have both!) give this one a try!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Elastic Waist A-Line Skirt Tutorial

I've been wanting a chambray skirt for my capsule wardrobe this summer. I can see so many times when it would be the perfect component to an outfit. Like a great pair of jeans, a chambray skirt could go with almost any top, casual or dressier. I found some great looking skirts, but they cost more than I'd like to spend. I already had some chambray fabric, so I decided to make the skirt myself.  

This simple A-line skirt could be made in an afternoon. It took me a couple of afternoons, since my daughter needed me about every 3 minutes while I was sewing. 

Here's how you can make a quick A-Line skirt of your own:

1. First, make the pattern piece. If you have an A-Line skirt that fits you well, you can use it to make the pattern. Just turn it inside out, fold it in half, and lay it on the paper you're using. I like to use Swedish tracing paper, which comes on a big roll. You can buy it through or other retailers. You could use any big sheet of paper.

If you don't already have a well-fitting A-Line skirt, you can easily make a pattern with a few measurements: your hips, waist, and desired skirt length. 

First measure your hips (or the widest part of your lower body - the skirt has to be pulled up over your hips, so it has to be wide enough to fit). Now divide by 4. The pattern piece will be 1/4 of the skirt. You'll cut it on a double layer of fabric, and cut two pieces to make the whole skirt. 

Start next to a straight edge of the paper and make a mark (A). Then measure your hip measurement divided by 4. Mark the paper (B). Now measure up 3/4 inch above mark B, and mark the paper (C). Connect marks A and C, making a curved waistline. 

Measure how long you want the skirt to be. Add 3 inches for the waistband and hem. Mark the paper D. Now to make the hemline flare out, use a measuring tape and marker. Using the distance between A and D, measure several times from the waistline, marking the paper. Follow the curve of the waistline to make a curved hem. On my pattern piece, the hem is about 5" wider than the waistline. Complete the line from the waistline down to the hemline. 

Cut out the pattern piece, making any notes that you might want the next time you use this pattern.

Fold the fabric in half, the long way. Place the pattern piece along the fold of the fabric. Cut out one piece of fabric, adding 1/2 inch seam allowance. Then repeat this step to cut out the second piece. 

Now sew together the side seams. I used a straight stitch, leaving about 1/2 inch of seam allowance. Backstitch at the top and the bottom of the seam. Do this on both sides of the skirt. I have a serger, so I also serged the seam edges to reinforce them. That step is totally optional! If you don't have a serger, it is not a problem. 


Now for the waistband, make a casing to hold the elastic. Fold down the top of the skirt 1/2 inch, toward the inside of the skirt, and press all the way around. 

Now fold it over again, toward the inside, wide enough to fit the elastic inside. Leave 1/4 inch - 1/2 inch of extra room, to make sure the elastic will fit inside. My elastic is 3/4" wide and I folded my fabric over 1 and 1/4 inches, so I had 1/2 inch of extra space for my casing. Measure often as you press all the way around. 

You can pin the casing down or sew it without pinning, depending on your comfort level with sewing. Since an A-line skirt is wider at the bottom, you will probably end up with a few gathers as you sew. That's no problem! This skirt is going to be a little gathered anyway, once you put in the elastic. 

Sew the casing, stitching close to the fold line. Sew carefully so the stitches will be straight - you'll be able to see them on the outside of the skirt. Leave an inch or two unsewn, so you can insert the elastic into the casing. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the stitching. 

Now measure the elastic. Place it around your waist - or wherever you want the skirt to sit - and measure how long it should be. Cut the elastic an inch longer than you want it to be, so you can overlap and sew the ends together. Now insert the elastic into the casing. An easy way to pull it through is to attach a safety pin to one end. You'll be able to feel the safety pin through the fabric and pull on it. Hold on to the other end of the elastic so it doesn't get pulled inside the casing. 

Once both ends are out, pin them together with the safety pin, overlapping 1 inch. Now try on the skirt (you can leave it inside out) and make sure the elastic is the right length. Is the waist sitting at the right point on your body? Now is the time to cut the elastic shorter or start over with a longer piece! 

When you're happy with the length, overlap the elastic 1 inch and sew the ends of the elastic together. Backstitch and sew a few lines of stitching to make sure the elastic won't pull loose. Now sew up the last inch or two of the casing, backstitching at the beginning and end. 

The next thing to do is to hem the skirt. Try it on and see how long you want it to be. Remember that we added an extra inch for the hem. If you want to cut it shorter, mark the length with pins. 

If your front and back pieces aren't the same length, get out your cutting mat and trim them to be the same length. This will really help you get a straight hem! 

Now you can fold up the hem 1/2 inch, toward the inside of the skirt, and press all the way around. Then fold it another 1/2 inch and press all the way around. Pin the hem and sew it down, top of the folded-over fabric. 

I used a double needle to sew my hem, so I sewed both these lines of stitching at the same time. If you don't have a double needle, you can sew two lines with a regular needle, or just sew one line. 

This is what the back looks like when you use a double needle:

Trim all your loose threads, press the skirt, and it's ready to wear! 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Homemade Carpet Freshener

This is a really simple recipe, but it came in so handy today that I think it's worth sharing. If your carpet or rug is smelling not-so-fresh, this two-ingredient powder could be the solution. 

The recipe:
1 cup baking soda
A few drops of essential oil or fragranced oil 

Mix the oil into the baking soda and let it sit for at least a few minutes. The baking soda will absorb the oil and take on its scent. 

Sprinkle the powder onto the carpet and let it sit for an hour. The baking soda absorbs unwanted odors in the carpet and the oil will add a subtle scent. Now just vacuum it up, and your room will smell great. 

Some essential oils have antibacterial properties, including lemon, lime, orange, basil, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon balm, peppermint, and thyme. If there is food or pet odor in the carpet, one of these oils - or a mixture - might be a good choice. In the winter, wouldn't cinnamon and cloves smell great? And maybe a sunny citrus mixture in the summertime?

If you aren't worrying about bacteria, and just want to freshen up your home, use any fragranced oil or perfume oil that you like! Today I used one called Champagne Sugar, which has a little sweet and fairly light scent. It smells so happy and pretty, and not at all overwhelming. 

If you have a tougher odor, you can mix up a bigger batch and sprinkle the powder on thicker. If you can, leave it to sit overnight before vacuuming. Repeat as necessary to have a fresh-smelling home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to Make Rose Water

Do you have rose bushes in your yard? I have several at my house, and I love to use the petals for anything I can think of. The bushes that I planted all have fragrant roses. I ordered mine from Antique Rose Emporium, where you can search by scent along with color. 

A great way to make use of your roses is to make rose water at home. I recommend using organic roses, since pesticides might not be healthy to use on your skin. Here's how to make rose water:

First, pick some roses. Go ahead and deadhead while you pick. This will encourage the bush to make more flowers. If you don't, the plant will put a lot of energy into making rose hips, which contain seeds. If you remove the heads, the bush will make more flowers to try to make more seeds. 

Watch out for bees! I got stung by a bee who was sleeping inside a flower. It really hurt for a couple hours.

You only want the petals, not the leaves or hips or stems. It should be easy to separate the petals from the rest of the flower as you are picking them. 

If you have time to make rose water now, you can use fresh petals. If not, lay out the petals to dry for later. 

What you'll need to make rose water:
3 cups of rose petals
4 cups of water

Place the petals (no leaves or stems) and water in a pot on the stove. 

Stir to get all the petals wet.

Cover and heat on a low to medium flame, simmering until the water has reduced, about 30 - 60 minutes. You'll see that the petals lose their color to the water. 

Remove from heat and let the water cool. Strain out the petals. Don't the colorless petals look weird? 

The water has taken the color and scent (and other beneficial properties) from the rose petals.

Now you can cover the rose water and keep it in the refrigerator for about a month. 

What should do with it during that month? You can put it in a spray bottle and spritz it on your face as a refreshing summer pick-me-up.

You can also use it as skin toner, after you wash your face. Just wet a cotton ball with rose water and apply it to your face. Rose water is hydrating, refreshing, energizing, cleansing, and comforting to skin. Plus it smells great!

You can pat it on under your eyes, to brighten them and make it look like you got enough sleep last night.

Take it into the shower with you and mix it with your hair conditioner to make your hair soft and shiny. 

I'll be back with some more ideas on how to use your homemade rosewater.