Welcome to my blog! I hope to make your visit worthwhile and reward you with some new inspirations, sewing and recycling, crafts tutorials and recipes. Please add yourself as a follower, so that you will automatically be updated when I post something new! Please comment, I appreciate sharing mutual interests, like sewing, crafting, cooking and of course eating well! I am a former Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, I sub in 3 school systems and moonlight at a retail ladies clothing store. which sometimes allows me to indulge my creative energies. A wife, a mom through adoption, Christian, boomer and a member of the sandwich generation I hope to share my unique perspectives and help you with some of yours!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Doily Tote Bag Tutorial

Heart Doily Tote Tutorial - how I made mine, hoping to inspire you to create yours!

Here is a pic of what you'll need, besides a sewing machine and iron.

Bag Gusset: Two 18"x 4-1/2" pieces of fabric, and also of lining

One 16 1/2" x 3" stiff fusible fleece, two 16 1/2 x 3" plether or sturdy fabric that matches or contrasts bag sides, that you will seam to make one long 32" piece. Optional, piece of plastic canvas, 16" x 3"

Bag Front and Back: Two 14" x 16" Solid color sturdy fabric, I used an upholstery weight linen, two 14" x 16" calico or cotton blend for lining, line the bag fabric pieces with fusible fleece or heavy sew in- interfacing

Straps: two 30" x 2"of plether or matching bag fabric and also two 30" x 2"pieces of lining fabric

Here are 2 finished bags, my two doily inspired totes.

My Heart Cat Tote with black linen and plether, is lined with black and white polka dot and different colored cat printed fabric. My household includes 4 cats now, so they are all represented here!

First choose your doily or embellishment. I picked a heart shaped doily, placed it one of the bag sides and created a pocket by stitching around the sides, but leaving the top open. I used a little bit of my lining fabric, here pictured with a cats motif, in a circular shape to tie in the doily element with the lining.
Then decide what pockets and interior features you want. I took a piece of the plether and edged a rectangle pocket with it, after I applied a stiff interfacing to the back sides of the pocket pieces.

I made pockets, half as tall as the bag sides, interfaced the backs with a stiff fusible and took a piece of plether the same width and sewed it right sides together and then turned the edge and stitched it down. Straps: I like to also make my straps, right sides together, but I put a string inside and stitch it down at one end so I can pull on it after stitching the sides. Make sure the string is longer than the straps, so it is easy to locate it. Pull through so strap is right side out. Top stitch and put aside to attach to the body of the bag.

Stitch your lining sides together. Pictured here are two different prints, the shiny polka dot is a layer of clear vinyl pocket for cell phones or accessories. Leave a 2 inch opening in one of the bottom seams of the lining.

Not shown, take your bondable fleece and apply to your outside body fabric. Stitch sides and gusset together. Right sides together and through the fleece layer too. This can be a work out depending on your machine. My 1960's Elna managed it, but some tugging is involved. (My gusset piece, bottom and sides of the bag, was not one continued piece so you see it seamed here, right in the middle )

Sew all 3 sides of bag, to gusset piece, then sew the other side of bag in the same way. You should have a box shape when the pieces are stitched together. Picture on left is of my scissors clipping corners, so that the corner makes a nice rounded right angle.

Here you can see the bag stands on it's own, and the lining and bag shell are constructed. Trim the bulk from seams. Pin your straps in place with the straps pointing down into the interior of the bag and the raw edges of straps lined up with the top edge of the bag. The outside of the bag is left turned inside out, and the opening in the lining, is shown here after the lining was turned to the right side.I used plastic canvas to give the sides additional structure. If you use real thick interfacing or fleece, you could skip this step. The fuzzy second pic on this row shows me sewing it to the bag sides. I whipped stitched the plastic canvas into the bottom and sides, but later decided to take the sides out, the bag was sturdy without it.

After both bag and lining pieces are constructed, turn the bag inside out, and with the lining inside out, place the lining inside the bag, and stitch all the way around the top of the bag, being careful to stitch and secure straps that are pinned in place. (Take pins out before you sew over the straps.) My plether pieces were pretty tough to stitch through, your machine may handle thicker fabrics better.

If you left enough of an opening in the lining, you can easily pull the bag through. Smooth the lining in place, locate the opening, then use a whip stitch to close. Like magic, you have a completed bag, that looks professionally made and ready to take on the world! My doily bag has been my companion for over 8 months now, and I am planning a spring and summer one, to take me through the rest of the year. I do like dark fabrics as they hide all the stains and dirt you come across. The plether bottom panels and sides protect the bag and have worked well.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for clarification, I am a sewer, and sometimes it is hard for me to know what you might not know as a novice. This bag is so easy and a great canvas for needlework, photo patches, kids artwork etc. I use this tote as my main purse, a green alternative to plastic bags, and way more classy! Visit my etsy shop to see my latest totes, http://the4rs.etsy.com/

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Let the sunshine in!

Just a quick post after a whirlwind week, of subbing, working for hubby and showing real estate. The selling season has finally come to our little town, and I can't keep up! No paychecks for us yet, but I know that it won't be long now. Seems like we have been waiting for such a long time for the sun, and for the joy it brings. I keep gathering up daffodils from my yard to decorate the house with, they are so cheerful!

Just took these pics, soon my perennials will take the stage. Love this time of year, though 88 degree heat, before the tulips arrive seems kind of out of place...

Today my darling grand niece Zora was christened in Greenville SC, where her grandma, my sister threw a little shindig. (party) to you younger readers. I am so sad to miss it, car and $ issues kept me home this time. But I got some cute pics from my niece, here she is:

Give her a hug for us all, family if you are reading this!
Okay, I promised a tutorial, and I am going to follow this post with one, hopefully later today, so tune back in. I will show how I put a Doily Tote together, here is a pic so you can decide to return. Can be purchased in my etsy shop too, check it out!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm Famous, and Easter Staycation Wrapup

News and last weekends Staycation, lots to share! I am so excited to be the guest chef on Lolly's Blog, click the link to see it! She is a fabulous graphic designer, crafter, chef, and blogger that I have been following for some months now. She has great insights on so many topics, and always has exciting giveaways. If you are not using a RSS Blog reader, I recommend you try Google Reader. Every day, it is like opening up a treasure box of great ideas, from the bloggers I have selected to follow. She has generously included me and provides a recipe card for the featured dish that you can collect like trading cards! Check out her past issues, she has some real gems.

Thank you Lolly, I hope to have you guest star on this site soon, to introduce yourself to my small circle of friends.

Pictured here is Son and Daughter having some Easter Fun with rice krispies, and of course dyeing eggs, mom and dad are written on two of them, thanks Kate!

Easter came and went and I wanted to share details of our 24 hour "Staycation" here in Cleveland. We bought a club membership to the Wyndham Hotel, downtown, last fall, that for a small fee, provided us with a free nights stay, and 50% off of meals. We decided to stay and play, taking my 12 year old daughter and a friend for swimming, and later, after a fancy meal, to attend a play. We opted out of the play, swimming again instead. The following morning after a nice brunch, we attended an Episcopal Service at Trinity Cathedral, a majestic building that hosts brown bag concerts, and traveling choirs. My favorite group Anuna even recorded some of a recent album there, the acoustics are amazing. Link takes you to a processional as they performed there a year or two ago. Hauntingly beautiful! This church is a real beauty, it still has it's original towering pipe organ, and the worn marble floors testify to it's continued use over 100 years. We witnessed a diverse crowd of all races and I presume faiths, for the Easter Service that featured trumpet fanfares and latin choral pieces. I could see my daughters' face and eyes wide with wonder at the majesty of the setting and sounds. Being tourists in our city, gave us a new perspective, and we so enjoyed the smiling faces of the skeleton staff that presided on our hotel visit. For our vacant store fronts, and failing businesses, there are still a hardy few that live and work in our city, and if not for staycationers, or tourists from neighboring cities taking in our sports venues, there wouldn't be income for many.

Picture of my daughters back, to show the easter dress I made her, blurred as she avoids my camera and angrily tries to get away!
At least our weather is shining again, and the daffodils and robins are leading the way to a bright new season of spring and summer on the North Coast. We hope to tour more of our attractions in the coming months, The Rock Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center, our revamped Museums in University Circle. If you are within driving distance of our city, consider a trip to take it all in. We have public beaches, and a beautiful Metro Parks with bike trails for miles, all so accesible and hasstle free. A great value, that goes overlooked.

Clean shaven, (as promised) hubby and I at brunch. Pic reminds me to get back on my diet and exercise routine, and pronto!

Watch for a tote bag tutorial, on my next post, just had too much preaching to do on this issue. Comment and tell me your thoughts, I love to hear from folks who lurk out there...:)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday, a day for reflection and for new beginnings

For me, this week is especially poignant. Christians all over the world commemorate the events that make up the cornerstones of our faith. But for me personally, I have felt my faith restored, as I have moved through a long period of hopelessness to a week filled with promise that my employment situation is turning around; I went to a job interview at a local vocational school for the culinary arts teacher position. Wow, would it be fun to teach kids how to run a restaurant. Haven't I watched every episode of Hell's Kitchen, just so I know how to express myself when angry?

Before this week, I have been dutifully substitute teaching, just finishing a 2 week stint teaching at my alma mater in Home Arts. I so enjoyed the sense of purpose, and being with the kids was very healing. And we finally have an offer on our one and only real estate listing, so I just got back showing homes to the seller, and am optimistic that we will find her something with the hundreds to choose from. And I picked up 2 more buyers who missed on the opportunity of my listing, but are now looking with me. My son is finally starting a job in PA next week that he has been negotiating for for over 2 months. I look at my previous postings and can read my fear and longing as we all have been praying for miracles.
Jesus life, death and resurrection, the concept of Easter, is what gives us hope and restores our lives from the junk that we are weighed down with. I feel lighter and freer than I have for a while, it is no coincidence. Even Hubby, is will be shedding his winter fur for a fresher look, it really must be spring! This pic is to document this year's growth, next blog post will show him looking more civilized.

On a previous blog post, I mentioned our pastor challenging us to tithe, and looking at the list of miracles above for our family, I do believe we have been blessed as a result. (The only downside to tithing last week, was the $30.00 overdraft fee I incurred when I bounced my checking account as a result of miscalculating the balance.) At least the bank gets their percentage, right?

One more small miracle, my son is coming for Easter, and he wants to make Rice Krispie eggs with my daughter to celebrate. He hasn't been involved with her much these past few years, but he seems to be maturing, and has been sincere in his gratitude for all the help we have been providing him, for over a year of unemployment. Click on the pic to visit the site for more ideas.
Spring is springing! Happy Easter to you all, I"ll try to blog a tutorial on my next go around.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Brunch Bunch?

Thought I'd post one of my favorite recipe and tutorials on how to make it, Ham and Cheese Strata. It has been making the rounds in my family for years, my mom's recipe is my favorite. Her's always was flavorful and chock full of good stuff. I decided to share this with the world, both here on my blog and I was asked to guest star on April 19th on one of my favorite blogs, http://lollychops.com/. Her blog combines all of my favorites, crafting, sewing, and cooking! She features weekly guest chef's and I am thrilled to debut on her's in 2 weeks. Here is my contribution:
Ham and Cheese StrataAn easy but “fancy” brunch dish for holidays, showers, and special occasions. A great way to use up leftover ham, or substitute with cooked sausage or bacon. My mother made this dish often for brunch and showers, it makes up ahead of time, and holds its temperature well while guest serve themselves buffet style.

10-12 slices of white or wheat bread
¾ lb. grated cheddar cheese
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped broccoli, or steamed fresh (cooked and drained)
2 cups cooked lean ham (or leftover holiday ham, cooked sausage or bacon)
6 slightly beaten eggs
3 ½ c milk
2 Tablespoon instant minced onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
Optional, dry herbs like basil or parsley

Here are the steps:

Cut 10-12 circles or flowers out of bread
with cookie cutter. Set aside

Rip up remaining scraps of bread and layer in bottom of 9x13 pan.

Combine eggs, milk, onion, salt and mustard (herbs) and stir well.

Place cheese in a layer over bread, add a layer of broccoli, then a layer of ham. Pour egg mixture over bread.
Arrange bread cutouts on top.

Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 55 minutes.
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 10-12. We made this every Easter, or for baby and bridal shower brunches, you can cut shapes for the specific occasion!

Enjoy! Great reheated too!

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