Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Other Crafts: "Make Your Own Damn Lunch" Back to School Printables & Garden Tour

Something free today!  My Etsy shop, Starbee Designs, is going on an autumn sabbatical for the upcoming wine grape Harvest.  I looked over my priorities and I just won't have the time for the next couple of months.  My current listings will expire soon and obviously any orders placed before then will be honored, but I'm not going to take on any custom work for the time being which is about 90% of all my orders. 

Cabernet Sauvignon.  Coming to a wine bottle near you... in two to three years. 

I was going to list a set of jar labels and a fun lunch checklist before school started and never got around to it (see! too busy!) so I thought I'd just share the labels here as a free printable.

2 inch label on an Elite Ball jar.  My sister wanted me to say "jamn" instead of "damn" which I thought was brilliant, but wanted to use these for more then just jam.  I like them filled out with pencil.

You can write in any flavor of jam, hummus, pickles, etc. and practice you penmanship. I was super bummed when I realized that my son's new school is nut-free.  No more PB&J on the days I can't figure out what to make him!  And we have sooo much jam from our garden..  My mother-in- law raided our garden and her own and made more then 300 jars of jam this summer (for my sister-in-law's wedding next year to give as favors), plus the dozens of jars we made for ourselves... and we still have berries!

Here for a PDF sized to fit  2.5 inch round labels (Avery 5294 or OL 350)
Here for a PDF sized to fit 1.67 inch round labels (Avery 5293 or OL 325)
Here for a PDF sized to fit 2 inch round labels (OL 5375 or print on a full sheet label or copy paper and glue to use with a 2" round punch)

Back to School Garden Tour!  Please note that I LOVE my garden, but am in no way responsible for it's glory or yummy output.  I have a single house plant named Harvey.  No tips or tricks from me.  We (obviously) can't eat all this.  We give a lot of it to friends and co-workers and take everything leftover to the Food Bank.  To keep myself from looking foolish I only took pictures of things I recognized;  there was an embarrassing amount I didn't.  Mostly trees. 

Never ending Raspberries.  Delightful!

The Green Bean Tunnel.  Abby plays here a lot and I can't blame her.  Great fresh and so many ways to pickle them.

Pumpkins!  Told you Halloween was coming up fast.  Expect carvings on the blog.

Artichokes.  I had no idea these were in our garden.  Not really lunchbox-able.

Apples- these are great baking, not so good for school lunch.  Not sweet.  Might be Gravensteins??  I don't know my apples.
*** I've been informed this is a rare quince tree, not an apple at all which would explain why you can't just eat them.***

Mulberry TREE, not bush, people.  Make as a chunky jam-chutney and use on meats, like duck.

Some sort of lettuce...  I think.  Embarrassing.
***My mom emailed me to say that this is in fact Swiss Chard and that she has served it to me multiple times in my life.***

Row of cherry tomatoes, I like to take these as snack to the preschool with mini whole wheat bagels and cream cheese.  The kids love it.

Strawberry wine barrels.  Jackrabbits will devour them if you plant them in the ground.

Cutting flowers for arrangements that I constantly forget to go cut and arrange.

A huge pile of garlic, dusted with redwood needles.  Who needs a root cellar when you have trees?   My husband roasts and pickles these.  They kind of freak me out like this.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Sewing Project: Circle Neck Dress Disaster

Subtitle:  Who needs patterns anyway?  Me.

Preface:  Winston Churchill once said, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."  So, let's just say I'm VERY enthusiastic about this project. 

It looks so simple and cute!  Although, seeing it with the distance of a camera I could work at Hot Dog on Stick in it.  Lemonade anyone? 
A circle neck is an almost universally flattering neckline.  I can't wear a scoop neck without looking like a hooker and a v-neck isn't always appropriate and can be difficult to find in dresses that aren't a wrap style (Diane Von Furstenberg's empire has never produced a dress that looked right on me despite claims that they look good on everyone). 
There are some pitfalls to the circle neck- it can look "maternity" very easily and I really do not wish to be mistaken for pregnant.  That would not do good things for my self-esteem.  And while it looks fresh and modern in some fabrics, in others it can just look dated and dowdy.  For instance, in Nancy-Reagan-red polyester gabardine. 

Pinning the back.  The shape of the collar is about the only thing I did well.
Notes about this collar:
-No, that center seam is NOT supposed to be visible.  But I sewed the front and back together the wrong way.  Mistake number two after fabric choice.

-Let's talk about the fabric choice; it is god-awful.  It frayed, a lot, and even with a hot iron I couldn't get it to lie flat at the (poorly) curved seams.  In turn this made the top stitching wonky.  If I'd edge stitched it I would have been in better shape, possibly, though it still wouldn't have been great. 

-My clear failure to cut on the grain properly just made me feel worse for that girl who got sent home on Project Runway last week for failing at the same thing and not being able to produce anything on the model other then a hot-glued feathered hat. 

-The front and back do not line up as perfectly as they should, though really with all the issues this dress has that is minor.

-Only good idea on display here is making the back collar a bit more square and the front rounder.  A totally circular circle collar would look costumey I think (frankly, a little Cleopatra-ey).

-I did use a pattern I drew on copy paper for the collar, however I thought for some reason I needed to have it in four sections (front/back in left/right) instead of just two (front/back whole curve).  I have no idea why I thought this.  It would have been much easier to have just two whole, self-lined pieces.  Also, I forgot a seam allowance when I made the pattern so the collar is not as wide as I'd envisioned. 

-Finished the collar before attaching the dress, which was lame.  I should have left the bottom of the collar open and inserted the dress portion into the seam.  This would have made the collar lie flatter and hid some of the imperfections in my cutting and I wouldn't have that weird seam of fabric across the back on the inside.

Pinning the pleat before I sew the front to the collar.
Arm holes actually turned out exceedingly well.

Finished you can see the pleat looks awesome and the collar looks frumpy.

Thick seams= ugly seams.
 Notes on the dress portion:
-Fabric choice is a very thin, light voile with yellow fuzzy polka dots.  It is totally see-through so I had to double up and make each side two layers.  But I didn't account for that in my cutting.    Nor did I account for seam allowances.  Again.  Surprise, surprise it ended up being too tight across my hips.  The double layers also made the side seams thick and noticeable.  Four layers of voile is still 4 layers.

-The arm holes are actually perfect and fit nicely, covering my bra and everything.  The little pleats I included to make it fit the collar better were actually pretty cute and added a bit of shape to the top.  I'd do that part again.  Maybe some gathering in the middle too.

-The rest of the dress has no shape.  For reasons unknown I cut the fabric straight instead of giving it any sort of line.  I wasn't thinking!  Plus it turned out really short and I didn't even bother hemming it.  I had my sister try it on yesterday since I don't have a dress form and since it's hard to see it well when on me and it was shockingly short (and too big for her).  I should have taken a photo.  Oh well!

Cost:  Mercifully, the cost was incidental.  The low quality gabardine was a remnant I purchased back in Feburary and the voile was $2.75/yard on clearnace.  This took me an afternoon/evening with many breaks to do other things.
Verdict:  Fail.  Insert enthusiasm here!  Why in the world am I trying to design a dress on my own??  Hopefully this is helping me learn or something.
I will probably try this again with many, MANY changes.  Just not today.  I need to recover. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Halloween 2011: Cleopatra Costume Ideas & Inspiration

Where do the fashions of the 20s & 60s awesomely meet? Cleopatra!

Theda Bara and Elizabeth Taylor- bohemian and refined at the same time.   

My choice for a not-lame, not-slutty Halloween costume is the last of Ptolemaic rulers herself.  She'd be scary enough, she had both her siblings murdered after all.  I've decided to make the costume which is pretty bold of me since I haven't made anything adult sized yet. But what to make?

I purchased both these patterns, but they are pretty costumey. Which is fine, don't get me wrong, I just know how long sewing takes me and I'd like to maybe be able to wear it more then once. The floor length is not good for me no matter what and a chiton made of cheap charmeuse is kind of a one time deal. And not historically accurate, but I'm going to have to let that go since it's not like I'm going to be hand dyeing linen in order to have a proper Egyptian dress.

I have yet to figure out how to fold these back up to look like this. 

I opened one of the patterns and was overwhelmed. The sizing is totally jacked as it is a vintage, out of print pattern which I was prepared for- I read that a size 12 in a pattern is like a size 2/4 at the mall so I bought the "EE" set for 14,16,18,20, assuming I'd be making a combination of the patterns given my slight height and major boobage. The measurements look on target, but then look at these finished sizes for the actual garments! They are huuuuuge! Even for my generous bust line. 

A quick check on PatternReview.com confirms that these are WAY oversized and everyone who has made it has taken out several inches once they started to do fittings. So, I may have purchased the wrong set of patterns. Gumdrops!

I then started second guessing my decision to make the dress myself.  I could just buy one, I mean, a vaguely Grecian looking dress is pretty standard fair for women's formal wear and then I'd be able, for sure, to wear it again (all I own are jeans and cocktail dresses anyway, I don't have any in-between wear). I poked around on the Internet and found a bunch of things that might work with the right wig and makeup:

Might be my favorite.  Vivienne Westwood, $370.

My least favorite of those that were more literal.  Alexander McQueen, $1335.  It just feels like something my Aunt Carol would have hot glued and puff painted.  All due love and respect to Mr. McQueen's corpse.  Plus, the length would be terrible on me.

A tad formal, you'd have to imagine it with an embellished belt and a headdress for effect, I think.  LA PETITE S*****, $1600.  Far too difficult to knock off at my skill level and way too expensive for traipsing around with sticky fingered kids in the dark, but easy for me to wear again.

A more 1920s Cleopatra look, much prettier in detail.  Rue de Mail dress, $990.  Sexy!

I could never wear this.  It must be lovelier in person.  I'd hope.  Robert Rodriguez, $1160.
One I could buy and not feel bad not wearing again.  With a big collar necklace and a wig?  Instant Cleo.  And it's linen.  And it's cheap!  On Etsy, $56.00.  I do hate strapless bras though.

I still think I'm going to try and make one and buy only if I totally fail.  I bought the wig and these scarab earrings I already own.

Off topic rambling:  The earrings are fascinating as the setting is from the late 1890s/early 1900s, before the discovery of King Tut's tomb, so they belonged to a  fashion trend time traveller!  It would be like finding someone wearing Levi's in a photos from the 1860s-- sure they were around, but not popular yet.  The stone scarabs themselves are ancient so it's likely that they were custom made for a woman with a personal interest in Egyptology, just like the guy in the Levi's would probably have been a San Francisco gold miner. I once x-rayed a mummified cat that was actually a stork inside. There was a scarab in there too.

Back to sewing:  Maybe I should try this pattern?  The shorter length would be way better on me.  Instead of the tied shoulder I could tack it with thread and pin it with something gaudy.  Maybe embroider something on the other strap?  I'm open to any and all suggestions!

Cynthia Rowley designed. Might not be as cool when sewn by me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Halloween 2011: Indiana Jones Costume Ideas

**Update:  Indiana Jones satchel making here**

I love Halloween!  But does my sewing machine?

It may seem a bit early to be thinking about this, but, trust me, it is not.  One of my first thoughts when I opened my sewing machine was Halloween costumes!  I'd rather start early in case I screw something up or really can't pull it together.  October is just around the corner. 

Lookin' mighty fine, Dr. Jones.  Mighty fine.

My son made his decision quickly.  This year Henry wants to be Indiana Jones which is a great choice in part because it is so easy. Henry likes to specify that he wants to be Lego Indiana Jones, but doesn't want his face painted yellow, so... you'll just have to take the Lego part at his word.

I poked around on the Internet and found that there are commercially available Indiana Jones costumes, they just suck.  Trying to find a handmade costume for sale is not much easier, although I did find these awesome, related items:

I love this quote, even on a tacky t-shirt.  Purchase here.
I'm sure these taste terrible, but wow do they look good! 

Anytime you can condense a film into an inequality statement you have a blockbuster. Nerd city here.

We already found the perfect hat at Mill Street Antiques. 

Isn't Indiana's real name Henry?  Funny, since Henry's real name is not Henry.

How cute is that?  Excuse the terrible photo quality, he squirms.  It is an actual 1940s fur felt hat so it's super soft and holds its shape really well.  On the downside, it is not readily replaced so I've got to keep an eye on it for the next two months and make sure it doesn't go on any premature "adventures".  The woman at the antique shop impressed upon Henry that it was not a toy, (she may have been insulted that I was giving a 75 year old hat to a kid), so he's been careful with it so far.  He did get into a water fight with his sister wearing it, but it dried.  Technically, the band is supposed to be black or at least a darker shade of brown, but I'll make sure not to go trick or treating at Skywalker Ranch. I'm going to buy the jacket, pants and shirt since they are all easily purchased and can be used in real life.  That leaves me Indy's whip, satchel, and a map or purloined idol to make for him. 

Ideas for the whip:
-Obviously, I have to make it so it can't be used to really injure anyone.  Yarn?  Felt?  Ribbon?  It'll need a handle of some sort... maybe from a jump rope?  Maybe I could just spray paint a chopped up jump rope...a really soft jump rope.
-pants will need belt loops to hang the whip from.  How does Harrison Ford keep it on him in the movies?  Is it wrapped into his belt?  He won't have the revolver or the machete, that is for sure.
-maybe I could braid some black t-shirt scraps like this:

Ashley over at Make It and Love It has a whole awesome step by step tutorial on 5 strand weaving.  I imagine if I'd been a Girl Scout I'd already know how to do this.

Ideas for the satchel:
-The Internet tells me Indiana Jones satchel is actually a British gas mask bag from WWII, so I won't be picking that up on clearance at Claire's.  However, it looks like I could sew up an easy replica sized for Henry with simple rectangles.   
I could do top-stitching that shoddily, with ease!  And no ironing!
-will have to learn to do snaps and the strap will not be real leather
-can double as his candy tote! I imagine I could stamp the inside of it like the real one too.

Ideas for map/idol:
-these bits I'm not as concerned about coming up with before October.  Some gold spray paint and a tacky figurine and you have an antiquity! A folded up road map I have from Costa Rica that I leave in the sun for a couple of days and voila! Adventure map!  If anything, this will be the fun part.

Updates as they are made. 

P.S.  Someone needs to send me this for Valentine's Day:

Upcoming Projects: Not Yet Blogged

a rundown of what I've been up to: DIY wedding dress, "Back to School Night" decor, Flower Arranging for the Incomptent, more jam labels, a dog bed solution, paper embroidery, flying pig needlework, attempting to scrapbook, make your own board game kit, Link from Zelda costume, organinzing for homework, and how to build an afterschooling program!

how to declutter after a death... and how not to do it

what do you do with all your fat clothes? Make doll clothes!