Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Super-sized snack sacks

Somebody in our house started kindergarten today! 

She now has to bring snack to school. 
What's a crafty momma to do but make up a super-sized snack bag?

Big enough to fit a few items and have it all packed neatly in one spot.  With so many new routines to learn, who needs to be fumbling for snack every day?

Of course, little sis got her own too.  Even if it was just to sit in the living room and snack!
Hope your little ones are as enthusiastic and excited for school as that crazy girl up there!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nautical Adventures Tote Tutorial

This summer, we bought a new boat.  We have been enjoying dinner cruises after work, weekend island camping and now a week on beautiful Lake George.  Along with the new boat came new ideas for sewing - one of which was this Nautical Adventures Tote - a simple, catch-all tote to gather all our bulky items and carry them onto the boat.
This is a great beginner project - there are only eight straight seams to sew, but you will end up with a polished, sporty tote...
...with nautical-esque grommets...
...neatly-boxed corners...

...and a contrasting binding to finish off interior seams.
Ready to try?
You'll need
  • one 24" x 44" piece of home dec./canvas fabric
  • 4 extra large grommets and setting tool
  • 6 feet rope (make sure the width is smaller than grommet width)
  • one package contrasting 1/2" extra wide double fold bias tape

Fold the fabric in half along the 44" measurement, right sides together (so that the fabric now is 24" x 22").  Sew down each side with a 3/8" seam (or just less than 1/2").

Take one end of your bias tape and unfold it.
Fold the end in about a 1/4".
Refold the bias tape along the fold lines - see how the end is now enclosed?
Now take the bias tape and sandwich your side seam inside it - make sure the folded end is lined up with the fold of the fabric.
Pin in place.
Just about 3" from the top of the fabric, cut the bias tape.  You do not need to fold this end because it will be enclosed in the top seam.  Cutting here will reduce bulk when you sew the top seam later on.
If you can, set your stitch width slightly smaller than regular (see what my machine looks like?).  This will move the needle over to the left and help you sew right up against the bias edge.
Sew down the bias tape.  You will be sewing through all layers - bias tape, bag, bias tape - in one seam here. (Look carefully and you'll see my needle - usually lined up with that little gap in the presser foot, but now moved to the left to get right up close to that bias edge.)  Repeat for other side seam.
Now you are going to box the corner.  This takes the flat tote body and turns it into a bag with a flat bottom.  There are two ways to do this, and I actually usually prefer the other method if I am going to line a bag.  Because this is a beginner project and we want the seams intact, we'll do it this way.  Hard to photograph - easy to do! 
Mark 3" from side seam...
...and 3" from the bottom fold.
You are going to pinch the corner so that those two marks match up.  When you do, make sure the side seam lines up neatly with the bottom fold (do this by peeking inside the bag).  Flatten out each side and pin in place.
Mark a line across the corner at the 3" mark, making sure the line is at a right angle to the seam.
Sew this line, making sure to backstitch/lockstitch at either end.  Repeat for other corner. 
Now for the top edge.  Fold over 1 1/2" from the top, and press in place all the way around the top.
When you get to the side seams, make sure to lay them flat and then fold the top over - much less bulk this way.
Fold over the top 1 1/2" again and press.  This enclosed the raw edge of the fabric top (and should cover the side bias tape edge, too).
Pin in place all the way around the top...
...and pin on each side of the side seams to hold in place.
Sew around the top with a 1/2" seam from the top of the bag (sorry for the blurry photo!).  Then, sew another seam 1/2" from the bottom edge of the top (or 1" from the top).
Turn your bag right side out and it will look something like this!
Now for the handles.  Find the center of the front and back of the bag (you can measure or simply fold in half, matching side seams).  From that center mark, measure 5 3/4" to each side and mark.  This will be where you insert your grommets.
Follow the directions on the grommet package to insert grommets at your 5 3/4" marks.
Insert one end of the rope and tie a sturdy knot.  You may need to melt the ends if you rope is not 100% cotton - some polyester is more slippery than others!  Insert the other end into the other grommet on the same side.  I like my handles long for this type of bag, but try it on and see what length feels good to you at this point.  Tie the second knot accordingly.  Repeat for other side of bag, matching up handle length.
That's it! 

Now, pack up that bag and head out on a last-hurrah-before-school-starts kind of adventure!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Accidental Sushi Salad

Sometimes the best things come from mistakes, right?  I definitely think so in the case of this salad.  An error in rice to water ratio yielded WAY more rice than intended one night.  I then had the brilliant idea that I would make avocado rolls with the remaining rice (notice there are no photos of those - I just can't get them to look pretty!).  But, not daunted yet, I decided the taste of the rolls was good, just not the presentation, so why not just throw the ingredients in a bowl and call it salad?  Hence, the Accidental Sushi Salad.*

For mine, I used left over rice, cubed avocado, cubed cucumber, sesame seeds, and one sheet nori (found in Asian section of grocery store).  For the dressing, I mixed 1/4 cup soy and one minced garlic clove. 

Using water, stick the nori down to your bowl.  Scoop in your rice.

Place your vegetables on top (you can add whatever you like, including proteins here).

Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
 Drizzle with dressing and enjoy a surprisingly delicious kitchen blunder!

*After making my accidental sushi salad,  I got curious and researched a bit about sushi.  The common factor of all forms of sushi is vinegared rice (oops! mine is not) and there is actually a form called "chirashizushi", which means "scattered sushi".  I wonder if some Japanese chef years ago couldn't master rolling maki, either! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Peach Basil Mozzarella Salad

This week's (belated) recipe is a rendition of Heather Ross's Peach and Basil Salad, published in Weekend Sewing: More Than 40 Projects and Ideas for Inspired Stitching .

While she stacks the fruit, cheese and basil, I simply chop mine and toss with the dressing.  Also, I use golden balsamic vinegar so that the vibrant oranges and reds retain their gorgeous color.

Seems fitting to make this salad - look at my camera strap!  I've been taking photos of salads for weeks with Heather Ross's fabric around my neck.  It's about time I featured her salad too.

I have had this fabric in my stash for years.  It is one of those treasured cuts that doesn't often get used in my sewing room because I don't want to run out!  It is a special project, a bit of pampering, to use this fabric. 

In case you love her fabric too, here's a hostess apron in my etsy shop made out of her adorable "Lightning Bugs and Other Mysteries" fabric.
Hostess apron in orange

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do - just like the fabric, it is such a treat!


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