Sewing Success 101

Are you learning how to sew but are just a little bit terrified of your first clothing project? Have no fear! Follow these few tips and you should be a bit more confident to take on your first project!

First: Pre-wash and iron your fabric.  I know, it’s annoying,  but you want to do this because it will soften up your fabric, and help you avoid making a garment that ends up being too small. 

After that (or while your fabric is being washed), iron out your pattern.  Low heat, no steam. 



Now there’s a hot mess.  How do you think your pattern will be accurate cutting from that? Yuck. 

Here’s another tricky part about your pattern (well, tricky for me anyway): I never really know what size to cut.  I made a pair of pants and cut the size according to the measurements on the back of the envelope. Wayyyyy too big.  So I open up the pattern and see what the finished measurements are and cut the size closest to that.  I’m not sure if that’s right, but that’s how I do it, and it’s worked for me so far. 

Now note that the little creases will never come out completely, but it will be much better.  When you get ready to cut, pay attention to the notches on almost every piece of your pattern.  Those are used to match multiple pieces.  When I took my first-ever sewing class in ninth grade, my teacher told me to cut triangles out from those notches instead of in, as the pattern suggests.  Why? This helps you notice where they’re at, and helps avoid cutting too close to the seam line accidentally. 

Once your fabric is washed and dried, iron that too.  Then lay it out on an open area:


My only space large enough for this project isn’t really big enough.  But it works.  And Yellow Dog loves it. 

So you’re all ironed out and your pattern pieces are cut to size, and you’re ready to cut your pattern pieces.  Yikes!

See how that fabric is all nice and flat? That’s how yours should look.  Then you will arranged your pieces according to the cutting layout in your instructions. 


Don’t ignore these cute little arrows on your pattern pieces! They tell you how to lay out your pieces on the fabric to make sure it doesn’t go all wonky on you.  These lines should be parallel to the salvage edge, or the edge that doesn’t ravel.  Make sure they are traveling the right direction!

You can be stingy in every other area of your life, don’t be stingy with your pins.  Pin your pattern pieces down.  the more pins the better.  More pins help with greater accuracy. 


Before you unpin your pattern pieces from the fabric, trace any marking lines on the wrong (ugly) side of the fabric.  If there’s not a wrong side, man up and pick one, then stick with it the whole time.  This is a photo of what you’ll need to trace.  I use the tracing wheel for lines, and the pencil for circles and dots and things.  But, as we’ve discussed before, you can be stingy, not buy the tracing wheel, and use the pencil the whole time…on your tracing paper of course!

Now you’re ready to sew!

Read and re-read the directions.  Say them out loud if they don’t quite make sense, that may help.  Or, get a piece of scrap fabric and practice. 

Baste.  Baste.  Baste. 

If you are not sure how something should look, baste first (long stitch, no back stitch).  If it looks good, then sew your seam line. 

Measure a lot, cut once. 

If you have to trim a seam line, clip a corner, or alter your fabric, make sure you are cutting in the right place!

Don’t lose your temper…or your patience. 

Stick with it! With enough patience, you can make anything.  My RA in college decided she was going to learn how to sew.  Her first project was her WEDDING DRESS.  And it turned out pretty awesome.  So there you go! Follow your pattern instructions and these few tips and you will have an awesome garment that is tailored to fit you!



Extreme Makeover: Spaghetti Sauce Edition

We had Italian a couple days ago.  I made a really lovely tomato-basil dipping sauce to go with my mozzarella stuffed rice and mushroom balls (very good) for lunch, then we had cauliflower pizza for dinner.  It was quite the theme day. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love Italian.  But the problem with cooking like my dad with only two people in the house is that Italian night turns into Italian nights, which last all week.  Or more. 

Then I discovered a secret:


Bet you would never guess this is actually spaghetti sauce in disguise, would you? Well it is.  It’s my Magical Mexican Makeover Dinner.  And it’s awesome. 

Here’s what you need:

1-2 c. spaghetti sauce

1 can sweet corn, drained

2 T canned jalepenos or can green chiles, chopped fine

1 batch of rice

3 T taco seasoning

1 t red pepper (or chili powder)

2 t cumin (more for spicier)

dash each of onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika

cheese and sour cream, for garnish

The thing I recently learned about Mexican and Italian cuisine is that they both have a lot of the same ingredients: tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, and on and on.  So it’s really quite easy to go from Italian to Mexican (but not the other way around).  To make this, cook your rice in your handy-dandy rice cooker you’ve all come to know and love (if you’re making recipes from this blog anyway.  While the rice is cooking, pour your sauce in a large bowl.  Add all your spices and stir well.  Add more cumin or pepper for a spicier dish.  Throw your peppers in, then add your corn.  Once the rice is done, add enough to your large bowl so the sauce nicely coats the rice.  The hot rice should heat everything up so it’s warm enough to eat straight away.  Top with cheese and sour cream, and there you have it! A fabulous 20-minute dinner–and no one will know it was last night’s leftovers!

Spring’s Here Popcorn

With all the snowfall lately, you’d think we’re still in the dead of winter.  Don’t worry, I checked the weather forecast, and spring is definitely coming.  Here’s a little something to help you celebrate!


Oh Nelly.  Lightly sweet, delightfully colorful, this popcorn is grade-A amazing.  And it’s super easy.  You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Touch of canola oil (like a Tbsp maybe)
  • Food coloring
  • Whirley-pop

A Whirley-pop is a great little device you can buy for about $25 if you don’t have one.  Anywho, pour your oil and kernels in.  I usually put enough oil in to cover the bottom a bit.  Crank that handle on your Whirley-pop every once in a while.  Measure out your food coloring and pour about 8-10 drops in the sugar. Once the first kernels start popping, pour the sugar in and stir and stir and stir.  It’s just like microwave popcorn–once the kernels stop popping, it’s all done.  Yahoo! Perfect little spring treat. 

Now, I would imagine this would work in a Crazy Stir, but I don’t know.  I’ve never tried it.  If you don’t mind risking your Crazy Stir and it works, let everyone know!


Bow ties are cool.

Ohmigodohmigod I have DYING to post this project for so long but couldn’t…until now!

The Hud-dub’s cousin is having a baby. 

I love babies–because anything you make them takes no time at all and is super cute, all the time.  For girls, anyway.  But what do you do for baby boys? Nothing is fun for baby boys. 

So I thought.  I scoured Pinterest for ideas and found a really adorable idea for snap-on bow ties on a little onesie.  I didn’t know how to make bow ties so I looked for a tutorial and found a great one here.

Remember those fun men’s shirt aprons from awhile back?  Hopefully you didn’t throw away the sleeves because you can use them now! 


Any little boy would look adorable in these! And the best part is that they’re super easy to make.  Let me show you how:

First, you are going to cut your fabric into two different-sized strips: one, 9″ x 4″, and another, 1.5″ x 2.5″.  

Then, with the right sides together, sew one short edge and one long edge.  I used a 3/8″ seam allowance.  


Then, trim the seam allowance and clip the corner.  Turn right side out and top stitch the other edge.  How do you top stitch? Take your fabric and fold it into the hole a bit–about 3/8-5/8″.  Then you just stitch over it, like this!


It doesn’t matter what color thread you use, because you won’t see this piece at all.  

Here’s an optional bit for your smaller piece: serge the ends to prevent fraying.  You won’t see that part either.  

Once you’re all sewn up, plug in your iron for the next bit.  Take your longer piece, fold it in half, press, unfold, then fold each end to meet in the middle.  


It will end up looking like this.  

Simply fold your smaller piece into thirds (hot-dog style) and press that too:


You’ll need some glue for the next bit.  One Young Love used hot glue, but I splurged and purchased washable, permanent fabric glue.  It was $5 for a small bottle, but it was totally worth it–especially if you are going to make a lot of these, like I did.  

Back to assembly.  Lay your bow tie right-side down, unfold it, put a line of glue at the ends, and fold it back up.  Then, turn your bow-tie right-side toward you and give it a little pinch, like so: 


Put a little dab of glue on either side of the middle so that cute little scrunch stays there.  Next, put a dab of glue right on the front.  Have your short piece on your work surface so it is easily stickable.  Place the bow tie face down on your short strip.  Put a dab of glue at either end, and roll the edges over to secure the middle of the bow.  


Sew your snaps on–I used 1/0, but those may be a bit excessive AND they’re pricey.  Remember, these bows are meant to be interchangeable so remember to space your snaps the same on each bow! When you are done mass-producing them like I did, you will have a collection in several colors.Image


Finally, sew your snaps to the onesie–I ironed on some fusible interfacing to the inside of the onesie for extra reinforcement:


Man, my little cousin is going to look sooooo dapper!

The most important thing to remember (besides the fact that cheap fat quarters don’t work particularly well, but they’re ok) is that bow ties are not just for babies.  You can make some and have a great costume for a St. Patty’s Day costume run:


Because bow ties are cool. 

In it to Win it

Doesn’t this cake look amazing?

I didn’t make it.  Fatgirltrappedinaskinnybody did.  The photo is hers too. 

You see, there’s a bake-off tomorrow at work.  If you win, there’s a sweet traveling trophy you get.  Now I love to bake, plus I wanted to beat my Baking Arch-nemesis who always wins with her amazing recipes (and, being friends with her means I get to taste all her awesome stuff).  I’ve made this cake (it’s called a 7-layer S’mores cake) before and it. was. awesome.  I cut the recipe in half though, and made it like a 4-layer cake. 

And everybody loved it.  So I thought, this is my chance! I will finally beat Baking Arch-nemesis and get the trophy!




You ever get that feeling that some days you are just destined to fail?


This is my brownie layer.  Notice how it looks like it was smooshed  back together after an unfortunate incident? Well, that’s exactly what happened. 

I flipped my brownie onto the rack too soon, it came all apart, and I burned my hands trying to get it back together.  I should have known this was not going to be a good day when I kicked my potholder for dramatic effect (I had an audience) and my shoe came off too and hit me in the face. 

I should have thrown in the towel then. 

But, I forged ahead and made the cookie layer next.  Here’s the thing about the original recipes: they are AMAZING.  You don’t need to adjust anything.  So religiously, I follow the recipe, except cut everything in half. 

The full cookie recipe calls for 1 egg. 

I do not take notes when I bake, so near as I can tell, the last time I made this recipe, I must have just thrown in a whole egg and halved everything else or something, because my cookie was PERFECT last time and this is what the “dough” looked like this time:


Dear.  Barbara. 

you know what this reminds me of? Easy-Bake packets.  They were always grainy and nasty.  I’ve turned this amazing cookie into an Easy-Bake monstrosity. 

I baked it anyway, though, because after I patted the dough down it ALMOST looked like a cookie. 


It turned out just about as bad as I figured. 

I’m calling it a day.  I’m giving up.  Throwing in the towel.  And I’m actually terrified to do anything that requires thinking or effort–my dress-in-progress may end up with three sleeves, the sweater I’m knitting could turn into a poncho–even the butter I tried to gently soften by putting in the micro on defrost for less than 1 minute failed!


What the heck does one do with a melted saucer of butter?! I have no cat, so feeding it to him/her is out.  I should have known, ever since the shoe-flying incident, this was not going to be my day. 

After the terrible, horrible failure, I decided to make lunch:


If you’re thinking to yourself, “well, that just looks like noodles covered in Ranch sauce,” you’re correct.  I didn’t even boil the noodles–they were leftovers that I microwaved. 

Thank God there’s leftovers in the fridge for dinner, otherwise the Hub-duns and I may have starved today. 

So, congratulations to Baking Arch-nemesis, you win.  And, for all of you who think this cake looks amazing, head on over to the recipe and make it–you can do it!