Monday, August 31, 2009

A wrap for your sandwich

I found this pattern for a reusable sandwich wrapper and it calls for polyurethane laminated fabric that they didn't carry at my Hancock Fabrics. Buying it online seemed like an additional expense that I didn't need to incur, just to make a reusable product. At the same time I had also been fusing plastic bags with an iron, for some strange reason, not really knowing what I would do with the fabric it creates.

It hit me while I was at the fabric store, sew the plastic "fabric" as the interior lining of the sandwich wrapper. I found that I had some scraps of fabric that I could use. It takes about 1/6 of a yard, but you may like them so much you need a new yard for 6 of them, like I apparently do.

You have to enlarge the pattern to 200% which is kind of hard to do, even on a commercial copier beacuse you need 11"x17" paper and then you have to line it up right, so I just cut and pasted some of the pieces together. Then there's the fusing. It is recommended you use the number 2 plastic bags and about 2 layers of a nice clear or plain white bag fused together is the right thickness. So it takes one big bag, not just a grocery bag, to cut all the pieces. My favorite was a large Macy's bag that I cut all the white parts from. Target bags would work well too, but I just don't like the patterns on the inside of my creation. Plus you have to fuse the bag inside out so the ink side fuses on itself, you don't want it touching your sandwich. Place the bag between two sheets of parchment paper, or just regular paper, set the iron on a medium setting (you will have to experiment to get it right though) and iron over the bag, moving the iron constantly.

Zig zag stitch the plastic to the fabric around the edges and continue to sew as the pattern describes. I actually have not tried it yet, but tomorrow it will be in the field.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Teacup Candles

So a while ago I got obsessed with the idea of teacup candles, I must have seen them at a store or something. So I researched them on Etsy and decided I could make them myself. Isn't that always the way you get embroiled in some project, "I could make that, I'm not going to buy it." And then you end up spending tons of money to make like one thing. You should have just bought it for the $20 or whatever.
Well, I bought the supplies from this Etsy supplier, and practiced a little in an espresso cup, and then I poured two of these tea cups. My God mother gave me these small china tea cups and saucers several years ago and I never used them, so I thought they would make a good gift for someone. I'm actually not really into candles, there's a family history of big fires, so candles are a non-issue in my house.
In any case, you melt the wax in a pot measuring the temp with a candy thermometer, add the scent and color, if so desired, and pour into the cup with the wick that you have already coated in wax. The wick is held in place with a stabilizing base which is a small metal disk that you thread the wick through and then hot glue to the bottom of the cup. Then you have to stabilize the top of the wick by wrapping it around something like a kitchen skewer (that was the tricky part for me). The wax is soy wax that comes in flakes so it melts quickly, and cleans up with soap and water so you can actually re-use the cup. The wax burns slower and cleaner, it's the new thing in candles apparently. I am planning to give the candles as a hostess gift or something like that. I think it would be a really nice bridal shower favor too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Best Raspberry Bars - ever

At the recent Craft Social that we put on I made raspberry bars, thanks to attendee Tasha for prompting me to post this. I have been making these lately every time I have to bring something. It is simply the best recipe ever, from Cooks Illustrated, October 2005.

Recipe can be made in a standing mixer or food processor. Frozen raspberries can be substituted for frewsh, be sure to defrost before combining with raspberry jam, Bars best eaten they day they are made but will keep in airtight container for up to 3 days.

2 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

16 tablespoons (2 sticks butter) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 pieces softened to room temperature

1/4 packed brown sugar (light or dark)

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cup raspberry jam (Smucker's is the best, says Cooks Illustrated)

1/2 pint raspberries (about 1 cup)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1) Pre-heat 350 degrees. Fold aluminum foil in half so it fits lenth-wise into a 13x9 inch pan, double up more foil to go width-wise in the pan. Spray with non-stick spray.

2) In mixer with flat beater, mix flour, sugar, salt, and 16 tablespoons butter, slowly, until mixture resembles damp sand.

3) Reserve 1 1/2 cups mixture in another bowl. Pat remaining mixture on the bottom of the pan with fingers to make crust layer. Bake 14 - 18 minutes.

4) While crust is baking, add brown sugar, oats, and nuts to reserved flour mix; toss to combine. Work in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Pinch mixture with fingers to create hazlenut-sized clumps, set aside.

5) Combine, jam, berries, and lemon juice. Mash with fork until combined, but some berry pieces remain.

6) Spread filling over hot crust, sprinkle streusel topping evenly over filling (do not press into filling). Return pan to oven and bake until topping is deep golden brown and filling is bubbling, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, 1-2 hours, maybe more. Remove from baking pan by lifting the aluminum foil extensions. Use knife to cut into squares.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Newest Sewing Project

I started taking sewing lessons at the Singer store, 6 two-hour semi-private lessons for $60, fantastic! The Singer store is on Irving Park just west of Cicero/Milwaukee in Portage Park, Chicago. The teacher, Nancy, lets you do one of two projects and helps you along, and then you can do your own project for the second three weeks of class, with her help. My first project was these lounge/PJ pants from Simplicity. They look a little like clown pants in the photo but they're really madras plaid and super comfortable. I had to take them off to take this picture, I wear them all the time at home now. Off to finish my second proroject.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Glass Etching - Casserole Dishes

As part of my newest gift idea, I have etched the new names of the brides to be on the side of a glass casserole dish. This is the practice one I made for myself.

It's super easy but looks very customized.

First you print the name or word you want etched on your computer, best to use sans serif fonts, less to cut around.

Tape the printout to the inside of the dish.

Apply clear contact paper on the outside of the dish.

Use craft knife to trace around word or image through the contact paper. Peel positive image off leaving the negative.

Apply Armour glass etching cream, available at craft stores, with a foam brush on top of cut out letters, careful not to get any on you, it's toxic.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes as directed.

Wash off in sink. Remove contact paper and taped paper.

Wash and rinse well and you're done!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Casserole Carriers

My newest thing, or the thing I was into making last, was casserole carriers. If you're like me, someone asks you to bring some food item at least twice a month, and sometimes it can be difficult to hold or carry in the car. I looked around on the internet quite a bit for something very functional and cute, that I could make. I finally found a pattern and bought it.
It makes an oblong carrier like the ones I've made plus a round one for smaller dishes. The oblong carrier works best for smaller rectangular dishes like a 2 quart dish, a 3 quart dish is a squeeze, and you really can't be squeezing a hot dish into the carrier, not convenient. So I think I will modify the pattern to accommodate the larger dish with a lid, comfortably. If I figure out how to create a pdf of the pattern I'll post it, because I have modified a few other aspects, like handle length. I have also used upcycled bedsheets instead of fabric from the store, it makes the materials very reasonable and then the gift is in the labor of quilting and assembling.

Here is another one I did, tied with a buffet spoon, if was a big hit for bridal showers.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gingerbread House

Check out this cute after-Christmas gingerbread house I put together the other day. The kit included everything so all I had to do was assemble, now that's my kind of building. Plus I got the whole thing on sale for $5, and it was delicious when demolished.