Saturday, June 24, 2017

Making Clothes Unique with Fun Details

Boys clothes can be really boring, but its easy to add fun details to make something unique and interesting.    I've noticed that most sewing patterns are overall the same thing with variations on details, so instead of buying pattern after pattern to get different looks, I choose a well fitting pattern that already comes with a few variations, and then add all kinds of details to get different looks.    For this pair of shorts, I added several details to make a boring basic pair of red shorts into something special that you will never see in stores.    You don't have to add all of these different details on one piece of clothing, sometimes I just pick one or two and that is enough to make it more interesting!

For these shorts, I used the Linden Shorts by Sew a Little Seam.    This is a shorts and skirt pattern that I tested a while back.  I like it for its multiple finishing options, 2 lengths, multiple waistband options, and recently a new set of "extras" came out like cargo pockets, a real fly, and a board shorts option!
I made size 8, which is a bit big on Levi, so these should last him a while if he doesn't destroy them.   Fabric is corduroy, some cotton woven scraps, and I did a simple knit waistband.  



The details:

Fun stitching:   For the pockets, instead of a simple straight stitch, I chose this uneven wave stitch.   My machine has lots of different stitches so why not play around with them!

This is something I almost always add -  on back pockets of shorts/pants, button down shirt front pockets, side seams of shorts and shirts (on t-shirts put it near the bottom of the shirt), etc.     I cut a small scrap of one or two ribbons, fold in half, and tuck into the seam or like in this example, under the edge of the pocket.   This gives a little pop of color and another fun detail.     Sometimes I use twill tape instead of ribbon and sew a tiny little button onto the tab, I love buttons too!
Another fun one is to cut a small strip of ribbon, turn the ends under and stitch the short ends down, I most often do this one at the bottom of the back yolk on button down shirts, or at the bottom of a pocket.  

I like to topstitch everything!  Not only does it make clothing more durable, but it can add a bit of fun color as well.    If you match your fabric, it hides the stitching, so I prefer to use contrasting colors.   I also sew up some of the project and then switch to another color.    You can see here that I used yellow first and then switched to green to finish.  

Speaking of buttons...    On this pair I added buttons to the back pockets, if your machine is cooperative with button holes (which my new machine thankfully is), then adding buttons is a quick easy add on.     I often let the kid choose a button or two to add.    On this pair I added one to the front as well.   Sometimes I put them on the bottom corner of a pocket as a little detail.   A group of buttons placed somewhere can be fun as well.  

Also shown here are patches.   For these, I sometimes do raw edges, sometimes applique them on (a tight zigzag stitch around the edge, and sometimes use a quilters applique technique like I did here.   For this method, take 2 squares (or circles, triangle, rectangles, etc) and sew them right sides together, all the way around with no gap.    Then, clip the corners, and cut a generous snip through the middle of ONE layer and turn everything inside out.   The snip will be hidden underneath when you sew the patch down, use any stitch you want to sew on the patch!

Stitching as detail: 
On pockets in particular, but sometimes randomly across a leg of shorts or some other random place, I do a line of stitching.   Here I used the same "wave" stitch to do a line across the back pocket before turning the edges under and attaching it.     I also added TLSS (The Little Sewing Shop) on the pocket (branding!)

Fun pockets: 
The Linden shorts have a bunch of pocket options, but not zips.   I saw these on a pair of mini boeden shorts and used that as inspiration.   Experiment with different pocket shapes and mix it up!   You can do can do different pockets on each side, like a patch pocket on the right and a regular pocket on the left.  Or a square back pocket and a pointed one, or one with a flap and another without....  
Try unusual shapes too, Max California has a tutorial for a fun dripping pocket for example.   I save inspiration for fun pockets on my pinterest like this and this.    There are tons of ideas out there!

This is another example of Fun Stitching, I used an "x" shaped stitch to topstitch the pocket shape.  

Hope that gives you some inspiration to add fun details!  

Here are the finished shorts:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Swimwear sewing!


Levi needed new swimwear (again) and I found a good deal on fabric so bought a bunch.  I was also offered the opportunity to test a couple sewing patterns from Made By Jack's Mum, one of my favorite pattern designers.   I used the Sunshine Romper for the one-piece suits and the Reef Beach Rashie  for the tops.    For the jammers, I used a pattern from Ottobre, from the Summer 2016 issue.  And lastly, for the speedos, I used a free pattern from Boo! Designs.

This is the Sunshine Romper with some modifications as requested by Levi.   First I chopped off the sleeves and hemmed the arm opening, making it sleeveless.   I used the regular neck band piece to make the neck band and brought the zip right up to the top of it.   I used a fold over method on the zip guard to protect his chin from the toggle.   I like this method best because it gives full coverage and a nice looking finish, and its not difficult or fiddly to do.

This is the basic version of the Reef Beach Rashie and Ottobre jammers.   I appliqued "swim" and added a freezer paper stencil for the shadow, because I can't leave anything plain! 

Super basic ottobre jammers, I got rid of the side stripe here and made them extra tight "so they don't fall off when I dive mom".    

This is the Sunshine romper with a little bit of modification for the zipper.  I added a chin guard at the top of the zip guard by lengthening it a little bit and folding it over the top of the zipper.  This keeps the "stopper" from rubbing his chin.   I also used the pattern piece for the non-zip style giving it square edges at the opening of the zip.     He picked this fabric, and its awfully crazy but I will easily be able to spot him on the beach!     I love that its full coverage for minimal sunscreen use, but the pattern also comes in 3/4 and short lengths for sleeves and legs.

These are the Boo! Design speedos, perfect for swim team (and using scraps) 

This is the Reef Beach Rashie and Ottobre jammers.   Here I mostly stuck with the pattern for the construction of the neckline, but did add the fold over zip guard.    The patterns curved neck piece makes it a bit tricky to get things even.   This is my favorite fabric, but not great for the ocean because blue is hard to see in the water!  

I still have more fabric to use, but this should keep him swimming for a while!  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Winter Wear Designs, Amuse Boho

We have been getting rid of a lot of "stuff" from our home lately, and one of the things that I have been doing is going through my wardrobe.   I found lots of things that were too old, too small, too worn, or that are just not flattering.    I also seem to have lots that is not really my style.    Recently, I got a couple new dresses and a top from a company called "Angie" which has a bohemian vibe that suits me perfectly.   

When I saw a request from Winter Wear Designs for the Amuse Boho Homecoming Tour, I knew I wanted to participate!   

I get fabric from thrift stores on occasion, and while I was there, I saw a stack of doilies that I thought would be a perfect detail to use for the front panel of the Amuse, to add to the bohemian vibe of my dress.   

This is what I started with.   

I cut out the front panel from the pattern and laid it over my doily, which was a little challenging because this particular doily does not lay flat!   

Pin it, and stitch all the way around.   I used pink thread because I am too lazy to switch thread colors so you can see it better.

This is what it looks like on the other side sewn.

Cut it out:

Use it as the outer fabric for the front panel

And here is what it looks like finished!     Not bad for $1 worth of materials!

This pattern is on sale through the 14th!    Get your Amuse Boho here and use code "AMUSEME" to get 20% off!   There are lots of options - optional back yoke, 2 sleeve lengths, 3 dress lengths, top and tunic lengths, and a straight or shirttail hem for all!  Best yet its super comfy for hot Florida summer.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fermenting adventures: Kimchi and Kraut - Easy recipes!

James and I attended a fermentation class at the Florida Earthskills Gathering.   It was our last class of the week but one of the best.   We sat on the floor under the "dining tent" and passed around jar after jar of tasty goodness while learning that sanitation is not always advantageous, rotten fish mixed with sugar is good for the garden, and kraut is actually really easy to make and tastes amazing compared to store bought.   We came away inspired, and sense then our kitchen has been a regular science lab with new things brewing, bubbling, fermenting and sprouting on every surface, even the tiki bar.    People walk into our house for a visit and we shove forkfuls of new kraut in their mouth and pour samples of water kefir and kombucha for them to sample.    I bring jars and bottles to friends houses, violin practice and easter egg hunts eager to share our latest creations.    Jars are hoarded and beer is purchased with flip-tops so they can be used again.    The kid runs out of the room when a bottle is about to be opened because of the ONE time I sprayed the entire kitchen with an overly fizzy explosion of kifer.     Its a lot of fun, and no one has been poisoned yet by our creations - they just ask for recipes because they are so good!     Here I share a couple of my favorites, quick, easy and tasty!

First, is a kraut recipe.    Naked Kraut was one of the first jars passed around in our class, consisting of just 2 ingredients - cabbage and salt.    One bite of that stuff and we decided we would never need to buy store kraut again, there was such a big difference in flavor....and so much flavor for something so simple!  

Sense making basic kraut I've experimented with several other variations - its easy enough to mess with and change based on whatever you have on hand, the technique is the same either way.

- Cabbage
- Salt*

-Clean jars
- smooth rocks (I use river rocks bought at the dollar store, boiled in water to sanitize)

*use sea salt, pink salt, kosher salt  - pretty much anything that is not standard table salt.
  1.  Remove some of the big outer leaves of the cabbage and save them. 
  2. Cut up the cabbage - I slice it up thin, you want it into little pieces but the shape is up to you.  
  3. Put it into a big bowl and sprinkle with salt.   Smush the cabbage with your hands squeezing and turning it.    Taste a piece, if it tastes good, its got enough salt.  If you can't taste the salt add a bit more.   
  4. Smash and squeeze and turn the cabbage until you get bored.    Then leave it alone for 20-60min and do it again.    You may need to do this just once if you have a juicy cabbage, or multiple times.   You are looking for a little puddle of water at the bottom of the bowl. 
  5. At this point, if you want to add other things to the mixture, do that now.    Shredded carrot, shredded apple, cranberries, ginger, onion chopped small, cilantro, mustard seeds, any veggies you have chopped up leftover, etc.    Toss it on in.   
  6.  Pack the cabbage into jars.   Put a handful into a jar, then smash it down with something (your fist, a wood spoon, the end of a rolling pin...).    Add another handful and repeat until you have around 3 of space to the top of the jar.    Fill up remaining jars the same way.  
  7. Pour any additional liquid you have over the cabbage - basically everything should be under the brine you've created.      
  8. Take one of the cabbage leaves you saved and tear it into a circle the size of the jar opening.   Pack it over the cabbage and press it under the brine.   Top it with the rocks to hold everything down.   Its very important that all of the "bits" are under the liquid.   
  9. Put the lid on the jar and leave it on the counter.   Every day open the lid a tiny bit to "burp" it.  In around 4 days you can eat it, but its even better if you leave it 2-3 weeks or longer.   Just taste it and see how you like it best!   
  10. Put it in the fridge once you start using it - at that point you can remove the rocks and big cabbage leaf and even pour off the brine if you want.   

Kimchi - vegan and not too spicy! 

- Cabbage
- additional veggies, if you want them (carrot and daikon are our favorites) 

- 2 TBS soy sauce
- 2TBS sugar (whatever kind you like)
- chunk of pineapple (maybe 1/3 cup size)
- thumb size chunk of ginger (peel it)
-  4-5 cloves of garlic (peel)
- 1/2 onion
- 1/4 cup red chili flakes (the kind you put on pizza)

  1. Chop up the cabbage and any other veggies you choose. 
  2. Take the rest of the ingredients and dump them into a blender or food processor.   Chop them a bit first if you need to.     Blend them up into a paste, if it seems super thick you can throw in a little water.   
  3. Dump the sauce onto the kraut and toss it up - if you have sensitive skin you may want gloves, my hands burned for days.   DO NOT touch your eyeball (you can guess how I figured that one out).    
  4. Press into jars, and using the same technique as for kraut.   
  5. Leave on the counter for a while, its good after about a week but can sit longer too!   Start tasting it and decide what you like.   

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Vegan Savory Muffins

This recipe is adapted from the I Love Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook, which we got from the library but might end up buying, there are so many good looking recipes and every one of them has a vegan option.  

This muffin recipe is so good (and quick and easy!) that we have made it 3 times now in the last couple weeks!

Vegan Savory Muffins


2 Cups of white whole wheat flour*
2 TBS organic sugar (optional, but adds a tiny bit of sweet to counter the savory)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup mild oil (I use coconut, but any oil works, even good olive oil)
1/4 tsp vinegar (again, whatever you have on hand, I use ACV)
1 and 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I use whatever I have on hand)

Seasoning/Add ins, add whatever you like here, but add something, this is where the flavor comes from!
This is the blend I use:

2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp dried garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1-2 TBS herbs from the garden washed and cut up (chives, basil, thyme, etc)
Handful of shredded cheese (we use non-dairy "Follow your heart" brand)
1/4 cup chopped up sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup (ish) of chopped up breakfast sausage (we use vegan field roast apple maple)

*We use King Arthur's Flour, which is GMO free, I have not tried this with alternative flours, GF flour, etc., but it might just work!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Line or grease muffin pans.    Dump all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix.   Dump all of the wet ingredients on top and mix.   It should be pretty thick and lumpy, just mix enough to get rid of any dry spots.  
Fill muffin cups, its ok to fill them all the way up.    This fills up a dozen to the top.
Bake 14-16min

Cool.   Eat!

Cookbook can be found here: 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Yeti Village Gingerbread house

Inspired by my yeti stuffies that I have been making and selling in my etsy shop (which is back open!), I made a yeti gingerbread village.