Archive for August, 2009

076: Spring Shredding, originally uploaded by william couch.

I’ve been a little absent lately. My husband recently accepted a new job that includes a pay cut and a relocation so… I’ve been worn a bit thin lately trying to prepare for the move and rework our budget. It will all work out but in the meantime not much crafting is happening. Instead I spent over an hour today shredding documents from the past year. I’m not certain what you should shred but I shred everything with a name and address including offers for insurance, credit cards, requests from charitable donations, and loan offers.

You can actually learn quite a bit from shredding. For instance I learned-

1) Despite having signed up for electronic billing and notification from my credit card company and bank I get more “junk mail” from them then anyone else.

2) National Geographic REALLY wants my husband and I to subscribe again I think I shredded at least five “one more chance” offers from them to get a reduced rate.

3) I “don’t have” enough insurance, the right insurance, and I’m “paying too much” for my insurance

4) The Geico googly eyes are funny the first time and darn right annoying the tenth and eleventh.

5) American Express really wants my husband’s business (there were at least ten offers for him) but not mine. They have apparently figured out he does the spending and I do the saving 😉

6) The little prescription bottle stickers that have my SSN are a PAIN to shred

7) A year’s worth of shredding takes up a large garbage bag and it’s not recyclable (what’s up with that?)

8) As soon as you shred everything something will come in the mail that needs to shredded and the pile begins anew

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Sew What Skirts- Straight Skirt, originally uploaded by Indie House.

I was so excited to create this skirt, so empowered by the idea of drafting my own pattern custom fit for me and now that it’s done…. I feel slightly let down. See how the skirt flares out by the side slits? It isn’t supposed to do that! It should fall straight the way it did here.

Self Drafted Skirt Pattern

It didn’t start flaring out until I sewed the seams on the slits so that must be what is causing it except I followed the directions exactly so it shouldn’t do this. I don’t know if it’s the material or if I should draft it differently next time… The skirt fits well at the waist follows my hips but isn’t skin tight and then it flares. It’s perfect except for the flare and I don’t know how to fix it.

Flare aside the directions were concise, informative and easy to follow. I drafted my pattern using the back of christmas paper (a neat tip from the book) and didn’t have to tape copy paper together. My only “complaint” is that the book teaches you how to put in a regular zipper and attempt to disguise it instead of teaching you how to put in a hidden zipper. While hidden zippers are a bit harder, especially for beginners, they are a necessary skill and create a more polished look.

I will definitely make more skirts from this book, including straight skirts but without the side slits, and I totally recommend it if you are looking to try out pattern drafting and skirt making.

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Self Drafted Skirt Pattern, originally uploaded by Indie House.

When I reviewed Amy Butler’s Barcelona Skirt I said your money would be better spent buying Sew What! Skirts because it teaches you to make a variety of skirts including an A-line like the Barcelona. But I said that never having attempted to draft my own pattern and I will admit the idea of doing so was a bit intimidating. After all people spend whole semesters or even years learning the art of pattern drafting- how much could I learn from a book?

The answer is quite a lot. Of course it helps that skirts are relatively easy to make in their simplest form and as your skill and confidence grow you can build on the basics taught in the book. My first attempt was the “Polka Dotty,” a simple straight skirt with side zipper and two side slits. I made mine in a nice, slightly stretchy dark denim.

The glory of drafting your own skirt pattern is that you are creating a skirt that will be ideal for your body so accurate measurements are key. I suggest having a friend do the measurements.

You will need:

A tape measure
pen and paper

Step 1:

You will need to measure your “waist,” hips, and the distance from waist to hips. Where you put your waist is entirely up to you, I placed mine about an inch below my belly button. Since this is arbitrary I suggest making a small mark on your skin with the marker.

Step 2:

Measure your hips. This measurement should be taken at the fullest point of your hips, usually indicated by where your buttocks protrude the most. Again place a small mark on your skin indicating where you took this measurement directly below where you placed the mark for your waist measurement.

Step 3:

Measure the distance between your waist and hips. If you decide not to use the marks it may be hard to get an accurate measurement because you may have forgotten where exactly you defined your “waist.”

Step 4:

These measurements will become the building blocks of all you future skirt patterns so accuracy is key. To these measurement you will add your seam allowance and ease.

Most commercial patterns use a 5/8 in seam allowance but you may find it simpler to use 1/2 in. If you find the skirt is to tight you could reduce the seam allowance but be careful there is a reason most seamtresses use 1/2- 5/8 in allowance.

The amount of ease is entirely up to you, your body shape and the type of skirt you are drafting. For my straight skirt I wanted it fairly form fitting but not skin tight.

To recap:

Waist = waist measurement + seam allowance (SA)+ ease then divide by four (for fabric cut from a folded fabric)

Hip = hip measurement + SA+ ease then divide by four

Waist to Hip = waist to hip measurement + SA at waist

Length= desired length + hem + SA at waist

Step 5:

Draft pattern using these measurements.

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canonjuly09 002, originally uploaded by Indie House.

I can’t help myself, I NEED them! I’m still on the hunt for the bicycles so if you see them please let me know.

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Front and Back of Mixtape Quilt, originally uploaded by Indie House.

Please excuse the wrinkles! As you can probably guess this quilt has sat in my “to be completed” pile for awhile.

The top was completed around the 14th of May.

Mixtape Quilt Top

I started piecing the back two days later.

Beginning to piece the back of Mixtape

But stalled when I ran out of fabric. To be completely honest I don’t love the back. I like the idea of using every piece of fabric to avoid waste and odd sized scrap but it seems a little jumbled. I don’t have any desire to start over though! Today I need to figure out how to elongate the bottom by about four inches and then the back will be done.

I need to get this sandwiched and quilted before a friend’s birthday at the end of the month. Wish me luck!

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If you aren’t in my bee you may feel a bit like this about all my quilt posts

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And I’m truly sorry but I’ve been very inspired to work on this quilt recently and I couldn’t resist (despite a number of birthday projects that NEED to get done!)

The “front” of the quilt is officially done.

Bee Modern- June

The blocks were done by these lovely ladies and the sashing and borders were all pieced by me. There are five different “navy blue” solids and five white on white fabrics used throughout the quilt. I’ve thought about naming this quilt “A Thousand Different Pieces” because there is A LOT of piecing in this quilt. I was very inspired by the Gees Bend Quilts and used every last scrap of fabric.

Here is the “back,” I don’t want the quilt to have a front or a back in the traditional sense. Instead I want it to be reversible with the sides evoking different feelings using the same elements.

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Seeing it laid out I think I need to add some blue to separate the three predominantly white sections. I plan on adding a wide dark blue pieced border on the outside. I’m thinking about a disappearing 9 patch but I’m not sure…

I do love the middle.

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I just need to balance out all that white. Unfortunately I’m going to have to put this project aside for awhile. I’m still waiting on one more quilt block and I’m out of the blue fabrics.

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Stay tuned I have a couple more free tutorials coming up and my thoughts on drafting my own skirt pattern.

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canonjuly09 021, originally uploaded by Indie House.

I you asked me where I’m from I would tell you I’m an Army brat and therefore have no home but if you forced me to pick a region of the US that I most associate with I would say the northeast. I love the big cities, the vibrant history, and the cool ocean breezes. I you asked my husband he would say the pacific northwest for it’s temperate weather and indie atmosphere. The reality, however, is that we both spent a large portion of our lives in the southeastern US. And nothing is more iconic to the southern baker than the red velvet cake.

If you’ve seen Steel Magnolias then you will remember the red velvet armadillo groom’s cake.

Armadillo Cake, originally uploaded by crystalernst.

J. and I weren’t feeling quite that ambitious but having been in Philly for over a year we were start to missing a few things from the south. Since we finally had a free weekend together we decided to indulge in one of our favorite past times- baking.

We actually bought Southern Cakes while living in Colorado and while the cakes were tasty, they didn’t adapt to high altitude baking very well and the book got shelved until this weekend. Now with the unique chocolate/vanilla taste of red velvet on my tongue I’m itching to make more of the recipes from this book.

Southern Velvet Cake

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake

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  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • 2 Tbs Cocoa
  • One 1 oz bottle Red Food Coloring (we used 1/4 oz)
  • 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbs Cider (or White) Vinegar

Preheat Oven to 350 F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans generously (we used Crisco), and line them with waxed paper or kitchen parchment. Grease the paper and flour the pans.

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and use a fork to mix them together well. Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk. Combine the cocoa and the red food coloring in a small bowl, mashing and stirring them together to make a thick, smooth paste.

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In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer at low speed for 1 minute, until creamy and soft. Add the sugar, and then beat well for 3 to 4 minutes, stoppig to scrape down the bowl now and then. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each one, until the mixture is creamy, fluffy, and smooth. Scrape the cocoa- food coloring paste into the batter and beat to mix it in evenly.

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Add about a third of the flour mixture, and then about half the milk, beating the batter with a mixer at low speeed, and mixing only enough to make the flour or liquid disappear into the batter. Mix in another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and then the last of the flour in the same way.

In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar and stir well. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to quickly mix this last mixture into the red batter, folding it in gently by hand. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, until the layers spring back when touched lightly in the center and are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans.

Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks or folded kitchen towels for 15 minutes. Then turn them out on the racks or on plates, remove the paper, and turn top side up to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • One 8 oz package Cream Chese Softened (1 Cup)
  • 1/2 Stick Butter, softened
  • 3 2/3 Cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

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In a medium bowl,, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat with a mixer on medium speed to mix well. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat at high speed until the frosting is fluffy and smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl and mix everything well. Spread the frosting on a cooled cake, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Despite being full from dinner we did manage to share a piece of cake last night.

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canonjuly09 010, originally uploaded by Indie House.

Is it just me or is space always at a premium in your sewing/crafting area? It doesn’t matter if you have a temporary space you set up in your dining room or a dedicated room, stuff just seems to multiply and conquer any area.

In order to try and maintain order in the face of chaos I’ve come up with a couple tips. One is using a prescription bottle to hold my seam ripper and embroidery scissors. These two little tools are the two most reached for items while sewing (although I’m slowly using the seam ripper less and less).

All I did was take an old prescription bottle and decorate it with a little Japanese tape to dress it up a bit.

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Then I added a bit of double sided poster tape. The poster tape is thick and a bit foamy which is neccessary to attach the curved prescription bottle to the curved sewing machine.

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Add viola- instant handy holder!

I keep all of my sewing feet and extra needles in this case that came with my sewing machine and although the spaces for the feet are labeled I can’t always remember which is which.

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So I created a cheat sheet and taped it to the inside of the plastic case.

The case and instruction manual are usually tucked under the extension table of my sewing machine for easy access.

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Do you have any cool space saving tips to share?

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Kona Cotton, originally uploaded by Indie House.

The second shop up in my review of online fabric shops is the Fabric Shack. I’m planning on making a new quilt for my bedroom but when I started pricing it out I realized it was far to expensive to make a queen sized quilt from patterned fabric. Instead of going to create this quilt using a variety of solid fabrics. It won’t pop as much but it will still be beautiful and I think compliment our room more.


One of the two main reasons I decided to purchase from the Fabric Shack was their extensive selection of Kona Cotton Solids. They carry 191 different colors to be exact. They also carry quite a few of the Moda lines as well as precuts.

Their selection seems to be a little bit of everything. They have some Timeless Treasures, some Michael Miller, Valori Wells, Lizzy House, and Prints Charming. But they also have batiks and very traditional prints.

A cool feature of the shop is their design wall which allows you to put fabrics side by side and see how they look.

Price by the Yard:

For Kona Cotton $3.99 and this is the second major reason I purchased from here. The quilt I’m making requires over 10 yards of fabric.

For patterned fabric the prices vary but are usually around $8.00 a yard.


“When your pre-shipping total to is up to $75 – Shipping will be $5.00
When your pre-shipping total to is $75.01 – $150 – Shipping will be $10.00
When your pre-shipping to is total $150.01 – $300 – Shipping will be $15.00”

I consider this a pretty good deal. In most Etsy shops you can get 8 yards shipped for $5.00 but it comes in an over stuffed priority envelope. My fabric from Fabric Shack came in wrapped in plastic and tissue paper in a priority box. It took about a week to get my fabric, part of that was probably “processing” time and part was shipping.

Fat Quarters:

You can buy 1/4 of a yard but that’s different than a fat quarter.


So this is what I don’t like about this shop. They don’t keep track of their inventory online so you could order something and then a day later get a notice that they don’t have that in stock. In fact when you order you choose an option if you want them to send part of your order or cancel it if they don’t have everything in stock. They do have an email address and phone number to contact them at but I’ve never used it so I can’t tell you how responsive they are to inquiries.

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What happened to June and July? I can’t believe that it is already August and I need to get working on my fall wardrobe.

First up is the straight skirt with side slits from Sew What Skirts. I tried to find a picture to show everyone what it will look like but I couldn’t find one on Flickr. There is a Flickr Group for the book, most people made the A-line or wrap skirt. Eventually I’d like to make a wrap skirt, I’m thinking cotton plaid but I’m not sure.

First I need to make this skirt! It will be my first project from this book and I have high hopes.

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