Monday, September 27, 2010

three birds and a turtle....

~Last week I made these three custom pieces, that I wanted to share. I had a lot of fun working each pieces design and building on my color palette and design elements through each one . These are humming birds #4 and 5. The twins was a subconscious ode to the recipient : she has two twin munchkins of her own.

~Humming bird #6 was easy and the skirt came together easily as well, but I struggled with the floral aspect of this design. I really wanted that white fabric with the tiny mustard polka dots as the main body of the flowers but the stark whited overpowered the rest of the skirt so I used a gold sheer to mute and tone the white. I must say I a happy with the final decisions I made.

~This little turtle tote was a gift for a lovely lady who happens to fancy the all mighty Tortuga. I really liked the way he came out. It was a super quick bag. It took less than an hour and half; from my first inclination to make a turtle shell from the scrap of brown fabric to the final pressing.
I love it when it all falls into place. speaking of fall , we are having one in central Texas and I am feeling the thrill of the chill, Burger and I made lovely leaf print lanterns...more on those later this week.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bertie's Pickled Okra recipe

~I have been wanting to make okra pickles all season and my plants are finally producing enough to get a good batch. I looked at a lot of recipes but Kg's mom makes the best; they are simple and yummy. When I was ready I got Ma Me to give me her okra pickle recipe. She told me it was Bertie's recipe. Bertie is Burger's Great, Great grandmother; that just made my day. The first batch I actually made with a combination of vegetables because I had not yielded quite enough okra for the recipe. I used cauliflower, carrots, pearl onions, and celery. Those jars are almost all gone now. I also added the onions to Bertie's original recipe below. Onions are hit around here and I like to play to the crowd. Ma Me says you can eat then as soon as they look done. We cracked our first jar about 2 weeks after I made them. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.


4 pint jars
8-12 garlic cloves
8 serrano peppers

1 sm onion sliced in ringsor 12-16 pearl onions(optional)

mess O' Okra( approx 2 lbs)
4c white vinegar
2c H2O
1/3c salt

Load 4 pint size jars. Each with 2-3 garlics and 2 serrano and stuff with okra.
Boil vinegar water and salt. As soon as it is rolling hard you can pour it in the jars. Seal immediately. I was told Bertie did not process them further; the heat from the liquid helps seal the jars. They never last too long
'round here anyway.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

a new dress for me...linen thrifting tips for you

~This weekend was a wedding weekend for us, so I decided I needed a new dress. I had bought this sheet a few weeks back and had a vision of it as a wrap style dress for fall. I remembered mid week that Heather Ross had a sweet simple looking Kimono dress in her book Weekend sewing. At first I thought it was a wrap dress but actually it has a slight elastic waist that is hidden under the obi tie. ...I did make quite a few adjustments to get a good comfortable fit including slip stitching the flaps on the front just to stabilize and limit the amount of flashing that might take place. All in all it was fun and a pleasing result although I think I am gonna revamp the pattern maybe turning it into a true wrap.

~I thought I would leave you with some tips on purchasing and re purposing linens.
1. Most thrifts have a certain day when their linens are on sale. be aware and take advantage of these days. Also yard sales are particularly good places to pick up linens.

2. Use flats sheets over fitted, generally they have far less wear and you get more fabric.

3. Let your fingers decide. You want to choose sheets that do not have pills on them or are super scratchy. Check the fabric content and try to get a least 50% cotton.

4. Buy nice solids they are great in a pinch also buys some just to use as muslin. sheets are perfect for testing a pattern. also they are nice to use as a soft interface.

5. if you find a fitted sheet that is a must have, trim it down as follows before you use it. Closely trim out elastic . cut the for corner seams so it will lay flat. This way you get the most from your sheet.

6. Take some risks. The sheet above I bought on a whim. I looked at it and thought" wow that is hideous, wow that is soft , wow I am gonna make a dress out of it".*Remember... It is just a sheet, it couldn't have cost you more than $7, usually less ( for almost 4-6 yds of fabric sometimes)Buy ones that are funky or totally off from what you might usually be inclined to buy from a bolt.

7. Don't forget all the linens, table cloths ( great for skirts, aprons, and napkins and tea towels). Curtains, pillow cases and tea towels and kerchiefs.They can all become just the right piece in a fabric puzzle, and really help you make special one of a kind pieces.

8. Don't sweat the stains or holes, if it is something you really like you can usually get a better price if it is " imperfect" and then you can just work around the imperfections.

~Linens give you a chance to try new things not just new prints but new patterns too. They are a low risk high returns fabric investment in my opinion. The first place I hit at a yard sell or the thrift is the linen pile or stack. My fabric stash would be very lean without all my glorious linens not to mention all the inspiration the bring me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

my sweet peach muffin top

~I have mentioned already that I recently checked out Martha's Baking handbook from our lovely new library. It is really a great book to learn from cause Martha really sweats the details and I am learning that baking is really about the details. I made the Plum Coffee Cake muffins last week and they were a huge hit. This weekend Mame gave us a mess of peaches and I decided that making these peachy muffins instead of plum might bring down the house 'round here. So here is the recipe I adapted from Martha's. I just changed a few tid bits. First I used butter milk for the milk portion. I used peaches instead of plums and I peeled them. I also made the recipe as a dozen instead of 10.

Sweet Peach Muffins

1 plug of unsalted butter+ enough for the pan( or you can line it)
3/4c sugar +2tb
3/4tsp cinnmon
2 c of all-purpose flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs room temp
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c butter milk

Preheat the oven to 375oF.

Prepare your cups of a muffin pan with butter or use liners. I really like liners with these cause the fruit gets all gooey (and yummy). Make sure if you use liners to still butter or spray the top of the pan in between the muffins cause these babies make lovely muffin tops.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, 3/4c sugar, 1/2tsp cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk eggs, vanilla, and butter milk. Whisk in the butter. Fold the wet mixture into the flour mixture just until blended.

Put a small scoop of batter in each tin ( Martha says half but tried the second batch with slightly leas than half for each and liked that better). Spoon your peaches evenly into the tins use it all! Then dollop the rest of the batter on to they are full and it is perfect.

Sprinkle the muffins with the all of the sugar-cinnamon mixture. It seems like a lot but it makes the tops super fantastic. and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan for about 10 minutes then remove them and place on a wire rack. or you can just pull them out and burn your tongue as you enjoy them straight out of the oven me.

~I cannot get this song outta my head today.....I am gonna leave you with it, for your head

* sorry it is a photo montage instead of the real clip. It seems NBC will not allow for the real clip

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Shy Seahorse

~Burger has been way into ocean themes lately and while he is obsessing over sharks, I have been quite taken with seahorses and jelly fish( still working those). We even recently took a trip to the aquarium in Houston. Let me just say "shark Train" it was quite thrilling for all. So on the heels of that trip we have been mining our lovely new library for sea related tales and I came across this sweet inspirational book, " Seahorse the Shyest fish in the sea". John Lawrence illustrates this enchanted under water tale with brilliant woodcuts. ~The end papers have lovely detailed woodcuts depicting the different species of seahorses. I just had to put a lovely shy seahorse on this new dress I was making for myself. .....The fin is the last bit of lace from the sweater remake.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fabric Collage Tote Class this Sunday

~What better way to spend Sunday afternoon than exchanging your creative fervor with a gaggle of gals, across a table strewn with fabric thread and needles. This class will combine two of my tutorials into one sass~a~ frass new bag for you or someone you love. We will make Fabric collages and attach them to a sweet and easy tote. The cost is $20 and I will have, patterns, loads of lovable fabric scraps and machines. There is a short list of other supplies that I will email you. There are still 2 spots open so sign up! or you can e-mail me if your are not on FB ~bellesouthgirl at yahoo dot com~

Sunday, September 5, 2010

sweater remake and tea staining tutorial

~Tea staining is a fun, non toxic, cheap, and easy way to dye fabric and paper. I have actually been tea staining paper since I took my first printmaking class many years ago. I just recently decided to try tea staining fabric,
with very pleasant results. I think it is best to do small batches; like I did one sweater in one 5 quart container.
(the onesieI link to was done in half as much water and used half the tea)

for Tea staining
white sweater
8 family size black tea bags( cheap ones)
5 quart pot

Tea Staining Process

1. prep garment or fabric . Clean your garment and remove any buttons if need be.
2.Make your Tea bath. Bring H2O to a boil. Steep tea for at least 30 min up to 1 hour. A longer steep gives you a darker stain. remove tea bags.
3. Stain your fabric.Put fabric in pot using tongs agitate fabric making sure it is soaking evenly. I soaked mine for 2-3 hours checking on it every so often and moving it about with the tongs. If you are having trouble keeping your garment submerged use a pot top that is smaller than your pot to weight it down.* be aware that tea staining is somewhat irratic and will create and uneven stain .. but that is part of the magic and part of what I love. You can see what I mean here in the back view of this sweater

4. Wash your fabric. I put mine in the wash alone without soap but on a warm cycle.

....and then I kept having fun
optional materials for embellishment
lace for collar
trim for front
eye hook closure

~Tea staining to me is whimsical in itself so when embellishing this sweater I decide to go for a romantic vintage look. I had this beautiful lace collar I took off an incredible dress that was gifted to me as scrap.

I was told the dress dates the very late 1890's. Since it was also a collar for the dress and I simply winged it sort of pinning it into place ruffling it here and there. I trimmed it in the back to fit the sweater and hid the trim in one of my rufflings. I hand stitched/tacked the collar in place. I was not worried about being to fussy because I wanted that romantical disheveled look for the sweater. I used new cotton lace trim in a very pale blue to cover the button holes and mirrored it on the button side; machine stitching them in place. I am not super thrilled with new lace trim and may change it out for some other more weathered trim. I did actually wear it on Saturday night with my new sea horse dress but more on tat one is very romantical too

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fabric, family, and food

~I wanted to share a few new custom pieces. Recently I have been in bag mode; kicking it off with the humming bird tote I shared a few weeks back. I had someone ask me to make one similar which I believe came out just swell. The fabric behind the bird and the wings is from a dress that is supposed date back to the very late 1800's. It is pretty much in shreads but really incredible. I really live for those kind of details. This was my second image of a humming bird and I must say I love working with it. I love that the silhouette of the bird is balanced with a flower that i can really have fun layering and abstraction the flower design. I am planning a few of these as framed pieces, maybe even a small book.

I had been mentally designing another bag when a lovely college freshmen asked if I might make her a school bag. This bag design is sort of a hobo /messenger. I have made 2 sizes and I really loved the way it turned out. I used very stiff interface just on the side and bottom panels and softer facing on the rest. I think it gives it the perfect slouch. First I made a smaller one . It is more like a large purse or day bag.
The larger pattern I drafted from the smaller by just adding a few inches. It has a tie closure and can be worn across the chest or over the shoulder. This design lends very well to a bag of patched together fabrics. Also it is perfect for applique's

Dresses have also been in my brain even though I have yet to do anything but read the intro and drool over all the designs in this book. I have been tweaking the design from a dress I made earlier in the spring. I have made 2 and a half new variations on the design and am thrilled with the progression. The first one has all reclaimed and vintage fabrics. The bodice is knit and the rest woven. I replaced the woven fabric straps with fold over elastic(very comfy). The skirt is a table cloth with silk screened flowers,lalalallove it!( it needs to be visited my Mr iron in this photo) The second was a custom order. The skirt panels are made from a sheet that sang to me at the thrift. I really wanted to keep but ..she is the one with the brown and pink boots to match it.This dress also has FOE as straps they really are perfect as straps
...On a side note ;If you do not already do sheets to pad your stash or just use as muslin. Try and get the flat sheets because they usually have far less wear. Also find out when your thrift does half off on linens.

~ Other stuff that makes me happy right now...
my garden is giving tons of zinnias,basil and okra

~Kg putting burger on the board
~and finally, practicing my new found hobby; baking I just got this book from the library and I have made four recipes so far from it. they were all terrific. We will be adding this book to our kitchen shelf soon I am sure.

This book is a great instruction guide. I actually had go to recipes for all the things I made from her book this week but each of the recipes had some sort of improvement.