Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year to the Readers of Stitching it Right!

Well, if you're reading this, you made it through 2013 with us.

Stitching it Right would like to wish you a healthy and prosperous 2014!

May the coming year be filled with blessings, peace, and joy for you and yours!

Check back often, sign up for email updates, or follow our RSS feed for updates as we have a lot of great information and changes coming for 2014.

and... once again... Happy New Year!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Christmas Potluck Side Dishes to Take to a Holiday Get-together

Consider this list of holiday potluck side dishes for inspiration when planning to attend a Christmas get-together.
Deciding what to take to a Christmas potluck can be a challenge. Do you take green bean casserole or baked beans made from the same recipe you have already used many times? While your favorite casserole may be delicious, maybe you do not want to take the same dish you take to every other get-together. You can either go with tried and true dishes, or you can get creative. Your creative new dish may even become a new annual favorite.

Traditional Christmas Side Dishes
  • Green bean casserole - This one has been popular at holiday get-togethers since the seventies. Toss a couple cans of green beans, a can of prepared mushroom soup, maybe some water chestnuts for texture, and some crumbled up fried onion sticks in the oven at 325 degrees for an hour and it's ready to go. This can be adapted for a crock-pot pretty simply; you just put everything except the fried onions in the crock-pot and set it on medium heat for about six hours. The fried onions go on right before serving if you are using a crock-pot.
  • Baked beans - This one has been a standing favorite in some families even longer than green bean casserole. It is easy to prepare, too; a few cans of pork and beans, a hand-full of brown sugar, a squirt of mustard, and a squirt of ketchup mixed together in a casserole dish with fried bacon crumbled on top for about an hour in a 325 degree oven is all you have to do. Slow cookers also work great for baked beans in case you need to keep them hot for a while. Add the crumbled bacon right before serving if using a slow cooker or it will get soggy.
  • Cheesy Potatoes - This variation on traditional scalloped potatoes is made in the crock pot or in a casserole dish in the oven. Put potato slices, your favorite cream soup, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon dried diced onion, 1/2 cup diced ham if desired, and a cup of milk in the crock-pot and let it cook on high for six to eight hours.
Non-Traditional Christmas Side Dishes
  • Egg rolls - Egg rolls are a cross-over dish to take to a potluck, because they are both appetizer and side dish depending on when they are eaten. You can buy pre-made egg rolls and heat them when you reach your destination, or you can heat them at home if you have an insulated dish to keep them hot.
  • Crockpot Kielbasa and sauerkraut - While this is a traditional New Year's Eve and New Years Day dish, Crockpot Kielbasa and Sauerkraut is easy to make, and easy to carry to a Christmas potluck.
  • Lasagna - Lasagna makes a hearty dish, and it is easy to take if you have an insulated carrier for your baking dish; or if you can make it ahead and heat it when you reach your destination.


Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Pack a Busy Bag for Children on a Thanksgiving Road Trip

Children can get restless and fidgety on a long drive. Packing a busy bag can make the drive to a distant relative's home on Thanskgiving day easier.

Imagine heading out on a long drive to a relative's house on Thanksgiving Day. You have to drive, oh, let's say, over an hour to get there. Your children are in the back seat. They don't have anything to do other than look out the window, fight with each other, and whine, "Are we there yet?" By the time you reach your holiday destination you are tired, annoyed, and would really rather just go home.

A Way to Make a Thanksgiving Road Trip With Children Easier

Now imagine a second scenario. You are heading out on the same drive, and it is going to take over an hour just to get there. Your children are in the back seat. This time they have their busy bags beside of them and are anxious to see what you packed for entertainment. Is there a chance the children will still fight and whine? Sure there is, sometimes they just do that, but overall, the trip should go more smoothly. In this scenario you reach your destination needing to stretch, but not nearly as tired and annoyed as you would have been otherwise.

Grocery Bag, Tote Bag, or Back Pack?

While any kind of bag will work, if you use a tote bag or back pack to contain the activities there is a good chance the children will think it is special. A bag that seals with either a zipper or hook and loop closure will work best. Open bags can dump and send contents sprawling if they tip over.

Things to Pack in a Thanksgiving Road Trip Busy Bag

Consider you child's age, personality, and interests when packing a busy bag. Also, consider how long each packed activity might take. If you only pack enough to entertain your child for 15 minutes and the trip will take over an hour, the busy bag will not be very much help with easing stress on the trip.
  • Coloring books
  • Puzzle books
  • Composition books
  • Sketch pads
  • Colored pencils and sharpener - Avoid packing basic crayons or markers because they can make a big mess in the car.
  • Picture books, chapter books, or magazines
  • Handheld electronics - A Leapster, Game Boy, DS, or any kind of handheld electronic will work.
  • Travel games - Travel games are miniature, usually magnetic, versions of board games, such as Travel Scrabble, Travel Battleship, and others. Sometimes you can even find a generic version of these tiny travel games when shopping at dollar stores.
  • Snacks - While you probably won't want to pack anything too filling if you are going somewhere for Thanksgiving dinner, having something to munch on can help keep a child calm. If you allow eating in your car, try packing one of your child's favorite snacks, a small pack of crackers, or a few carrot sticks.
While nothing can guarantee your trip will go smoothly, planning ahead and packing a busy bag can help take the stress out of a long road trip. While you are preparing a busy bag, you might also want to make sure your vehicle's emergency kit is well-stocked. You might also find ideas for main dishes and desserts that travel well helpful.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Potluck Dessert Ideas That Pack Well for Long Trips

When you have a long drive to get to a Thanksgiving get-together, some desserts will carry better than others.

A long car trip can wreak havoc on some desserts. You can either plan ahead by preparing desserts that travel well, or use a frozen dish and cooler to keep perishable desserts cold. Dishes that go in the freezer for several hours before use, such as the Pampered Chef Chillzanne line of dishes, can help to keep food cold and at a safe temperature for consumption for several hours.

Easy to Take Thanksgiving Desserts

Some tried-and-true holiday desserts are easy to take on a long trip, making them long-time holiday favorites.
  • Cookies - Cookies, while not the most exciting dessert, travel well. Just layer cookies on a decorative plate or tray, wrap them securely with cellophane, and stick them wherever they fit in the vehicle.
  • Sheet cake - Sheet cakes are long and low in shape. A layer cakecan end up tipping over or sliding apart during transport, but sheet cakes can stand up to a long drive.
  • Brownies - Brownies can be cut and placed on a tray like cookies, or left in the pan and transported flat, like a sheet cake.
  • Baked pies - Baked pies, think apple, cherry, and pumpkin, carry well on a long drive. Cream pies, however, only travel well on a long drive when something is provided to keep them cold. If you plan to serve whipped cream with the pies, that also needs to be kept cold.
Perishable Holiday Desserts and How to Pack them Safely

Some desserts can stand up to a long drive, but only when kept cold. Use both a cooler and a frozen container if possible.
  • Fluffy pink stuff - Fluffy pink stuff can travel well, but is has to be kept cold. (Fluffy pink stuff is a light dessert, similar to glorified rice but without rice, made from 1 can of cherry pie filling, 1 container whipped cream, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, and 1 can drained crushed pineapple all mixed together.)
  • Gelatin mixed with fruit - If you are taking gelatin with fruit, make sure it stays very cold so it keeps its shape. Runny gelatin might taste okay, but it's not pretty.
  • Fresh fruit chunks with yogurt dip - Mix a container of vanilla yogurt, whipped cream, and a can of sweetened condensed milk to make the dip. Either place the fresh fruit in an air-tight container, or take it with you and cut it when you reach your destination. If, however, everyone is waiting to eat, they might not like waiting longer for you to cut your fruit.
  • Cream pies and cheesecakes - Make sure cream pies and cheese cakes are kept cold during a long drive. A cooler, a frozen dish such as a Pampered Chef Chillzanne, or both will work.
  • Trifle - Trifles are usually pretty, with layers of cake, pudding, whipped cream, and sometimes fruit in a tall, glass bowl. Make sure, if you attempt a trifle, to wrap it carefully, secure the bowl inside of the cooler so it cannot tip, and keep plenty of ice in the cooler.
A little bit of extra preparation can make it easy to safely carry dessert to a Thanksgiving potluck. While you are busy planning ahead, you might also want to pack a busy bag to keep children entertained on the drive, and restock your emergency kit food. Main dish ideas that travel well might also be of interest to you.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner Potluck Entrees that Travel Well

Taking the main dish to a holiday dinner can be challenging but some potluck entrees carry better than others.

If you get elected, or if you volunteer, to take the main part of the Thanksgiving dinner to someone else's home, you need to consider two main things. The first thing you need to mull over is, which main dishes travel well. The second big consideration is, what kind of container or packaging will work best to make sure your entree gets to dinner without dumping all over your car.

Non-Traditional or Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu?

Some people do not especially like turkey, and the company is really what the day should be about. If you don't want to make a turkey, and the other Thanksgiving guests are not "into" turkey, consider another type of main dish. If the get-together you are attending is not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you have a lot of extra main dish options.
  • Lasagna - Lasagna travels well because it is made in a long, low baking dish. If you have one of the glass baking dishes with an insulated carrying case, it will most likely still be hot when you reach your destination. Another option is to prepare it and take it unbaked, and then bake it when you reach your destination.
  • Roast beef, ham, meat loaf - These are just a few alternative meat suggestions, you can really pick from anything you like, or even anything you find on sale. You can transport meats in a slow cooker or in a baking dish with an insulated case.
  • Hot dogs, shredded chicken, sloppy joes - Sandwich meat is easy to carry in a crock-pot, and easy to serve, too. Just don't forget the buns.
  • Tacos or fajitas - If you prepare the meat and take it in a slow cooker everyone else can chip in with vegetables, sour cream, and cheese. Then everyone can have fun putting their favorites together.
  • Chicken and noodles - Or any of your other favorite pasta dishes. Avoid tall casserole dishes, unless you have something to wedge tight against the sides to keep the food from spilling out. Pasta with meat makes a filling meal, and everyone else attending the pot-luck get-together can bring desserts and side dishes.
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner
If the get-together is traditional, and you have to make and transport a turkey, you might need to get creative in order to get it there. After all, those aluminum turkey roasters can be flimsy, and not everyone has a sturdy roaster that can be packed up in a vehicle and toted across the miles. You can:
  1. Get a big, sturdy roaster that won't tip over.
  2. Take your chances with a foil roaster. If the turkey gets there without dumping, you won't have to worry about retrieving your pan before you go home.
  3. Slice the turkey; fill a baking dish with a cover and an insulated carrying case to keep the sliced turkey warm.
If you have the pleasure, of preparing the main part of Thanksgiving dinner, but you are going to someone else's house, you need to figure out what you want to take, and how you are going to get it there safely. If you have any doubts about keeping the food at a safe temperature while making a long drive, either pick something else to take, or cook it and let it cool, pack it in an air-tight cooler with a lot of ice, and re-heat it when you reach your destination.
Some related articles you might find helpful are ideas for: desserts that travel well, busy bag ideas to keep the young ones entertained, and emergency kit food ideas.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How to Reuse Coat Fabric to Make a Dog Vest

Reusing fabric is such a nice way to keep old garments out of the landfill, and sewing a vest for your dog saves you money on warm dog clothes.

Not all dogs are into wearing clothes, but some are. If your dog enjoys an extra layer of warmth when it's cold, bring out your sewing skills and check out this tutorial on The Nest, about converting an old coat into a dog vest.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pattern Sale

Patterns are expensive, but once in  awhile JoAnn Fabrics has a great sale. You just have to watch and plan ahead a bit.

I found a great deal on patterns yesterday at the local JoAnn Fabrics store. McCalls patterns were 5 for $5, or a buck a piece.

I bought 5, and my total savings were over $87.

When I start stitching them up, I'll review them here and post any workarounds you can do to make them easier.

Now, one last question, this is for McCalls and the pattern companies... Why the heck is your selection of men's and boy's clothing patterns so stinking pathetic? Seriously, it's SUMMER WEATHER, why is there not a single pattern available from the big name companies for a pair of men's shorts with pockets. I don't even care if they're the zipper kind or elastic, but there's NOTHING. Boo... Hiss... Sewing pattern company FAIL!!!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My New Upholstery Website

I'm building a new upholstery website, Upholstery-Girl, and would like to share a link to it.

The site is about sharing information for do-it-yourselfers, people starting their own shops, and to also promote my own professional upholstery work as I prepare to reopen my own shop.

If you're interested, I would love to hear your opinions. While I'm hoping you'll think it's awesome, I'm open to criticism, too, because it can only help me make it better.

You can leave a comment there, here, or email me at info@upholstery-girl.com.

I'll add a link to it on my upholstery page here on this site, too, when I have a bit more time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Butterick B5152 Retro Robe Pattern Review

This pattern, Butterick's B5152 '48 Retro robe, is a doozy. It's labeled as easy, but as someone with a lot of sewing experience, I can tell you, it's NOT easy!

From the really strange cutting directions, right through to the last stitch, the directions for this pattern are just plain flawed.

Now, I'll be the first to say the design is beautiful, and if you just throw the directions away and put it together, it's doable, but I'll say it again, it's not easy.

I'm not going to give workarounds for this one, just because the directions that come with it are such a mess, I wouldn't recommend it, not even to an experienced seamstress.

Now, if you already have this retro robe pattern, and you're stuck, leave a comment and I'll do my best to talk you through it, otherwise, pull the directions out of the envelope and read them before you buy it. If you don't understand them in the store, well, it's not going to get better.

With some patience, the pattern does provide a sort of general guideline that you can turn into a beautiful robe, but it took a lot of guesswork to turn it into a wearable garment.


Short-Sleeved 40's Style Retro Robe
40's Style Retro Robe Belt
Draping skirt of 40's Style Retro Robe
Long, Draping Skirt of 40's Style Butterick Retro Robe

Have you ever tried this pattern? I would love to hear what you thought of it, or if you have encountered similar problems with any other pattern and would like to share, go for it in the comments section below.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Alterations to Make Strapless Dresses Look Modest

How to alter a strapless gown by using custom tailoring steps to add the top portion of a blouse bodice.

Strapless dresses are popular and often considered to be chic, but not everyone is comfortable in them. To alter a strapless dress to make it modest, find a blouse with a neckline, shoulders, and sleeves that are a similar style, a complementary color and a similar texture to that of the dress. Don't try to match a ribbed tank top with a satiny, strapless prom dress, it will look funny. It does not matter if the blouse fits through the body as long as the top third fits, because only the top portion of the blouse will be used for this alteration.

Supplies Needed to Alter a Strapless Dress for Modesty
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Yardstick or ruler
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Blouse that matches style, color, and fabric texture of strapless dress
Steps to Follow When Altering Strapless Dress
  1. Put on the blouse, then put the strapless dress over it. Make sure the blouse is tucked in tight and the dress is completely fastened.
  2. Turn the top edge of the dress down 1/2 inch, and make small tailor's chalk marks on the blouse every three inches, along the folded dress edge. Make small numbered marks on both the dress and blouse showing where side seams and the center front line up. An assistant to help with the marking will be needed for this step.
  3. Spread the blouse flat on the table, make marks one inch lower than your original marks, on only the front, to make a seam allowance, and line up the straight edge of the ruler or yardstick with the tailor's chalk marks to make a line across the new bottom edge of the blouse.
  4. Make a mark in the center of the back, four inches blow the original center back mark. Draw a curved line that goes from the side seam to center back. Fill in between the marks with tailor's chalk and use the scissors to cut along the line. The back will need extra fabric to tuck in because sewing right up to the closure on the dress will make it very hard to wear.
  5. Fold the newly cut bottom edge under 1/2 inch, then fold it a second time directly over the first fold. This will completely finish the raw edge by folding it in. Pin the folded edge with the straight pins. Finish the edge by running the sewing machine's stitching along the inner edge of the fold, 1/8 inch from the edge. Remove the pins.
  6. Line up the side seam marks and the center seam mark, and pin the blouse inside of the strapless dress, making a 1/2 inch overlap.
  7. Measure two inches out on each side of the dress closure, and pin the blouse along the original tailor's chalk line, up to this point. Place pins every two inches all the way around the top of the dress. If there are any noticeable puckers, divide the extra fabric evenly between the pins and pin it in place.
  8. Make sure the thread on the sewing machine matches the dress fabric, and sew all the way around the top of the dress, top-stitching 1/4 inch from the edge.. Start at the mark two inches from the back closure and stitching all the way to the mark on the other side of the back closure.
Altering a dress this way is a major tailoring project, and while it is possible for a beginner to get the job done, it will be easiest if the tailor has at least intermediate sewing skills.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Safely Packing and Storing Vintage Clothing to Prevent Damage

Cleaning and carefully packing vintage garments for air-tight storage will help keep them fresh and in good condition.

Vintage clothing is not worth much if it gets damaged in storage, but no rule exists saying it has to get damaged. You can protect the value of your vintage clothing through safe packing, storing, and careful handling. Also, when you clean vintage clothing before storing, moths will not find a welcoming nest and inviting food source. Some clothing items can be folded and safely packed away but others will need to be draped over a hanger and stored in a suspended state in a garment bag. Proper packing and storing of vintage clothing is vital to preservation of these items.

Things You will Need When Packing and Storing Vintage Garments
  • washing machine
  • dryer
  • steam iron
  • hanger (optional)
  • garment bag (optional)
  • white tissue paper (optional)
  • clothes box
  • airtight cedar-lined trunk
Steps to Follow When Packing and Storing Vintage Clothes

  1. Examine the vintage garment. Look for signs the garment may be too weak to withstand normal or hand washing. Check the care label for washing instructions.
  2. Wash and dry the garment using your regular laundering technique in the washing machine; if the garment is sturdy enough to withstand washing. If the fabric fibers are weak or you see pinholes do not attempt laundering. If the fabric will not stand up to washing because of condition or fiber content, dry clean the garment or press with a steam iron.
  3. Dry the vintage clothing completely in the dryer or on a clothesline. Make sure the garment is completely dry before packing to prevent mold growth.
  4. Drape the garment over a hanger. Close any zippers or button plackets so it hangs straight.
  5. Slide the vintage clothing into the garment bag, zip the bag shut, and hang the bag in a cool, dry closet. Garment bags are a good option for storing vintage garments, especially dresses.
  6. Zip up or close buttons, if you are storing the clothing in a trunk. Spread the vintage garment out flat on the table and fold neatly. Wrap the folded garment in white tissue paper.
  7. Place the tissue-wrapped vintage clothing in a clothes box, and then place the box inside a cedar-lined trunk. Cedar will help keep moths from eating and nesting in your vintage clothes.
Some debate exists over the value of packing textiles in cedar-lined trunks to prevent moths from dining on the fibers. Using an air-tight container appears to be as important as using cedar lining to keep moths away. For more information about clothes moths and cleaning molds, you can visit the resources listed below.

Resources:
Clothes Moths
Plant Oils Fact Sheet
Mold Resources
Facts about Mold and Dampness

Ways to Make a Zipper Work Easier

Zipper sliders stick when fabric gets caught and when zipper coils become corroded, but you can make a zipper work easier so you do not have to force it.

Almost everyone who has worn a garment with a zipper, or used a bag with a zipper, has had that moment when the zipper is closing but it’s awkward and stiff, and then it sticks. What you do after that moment when the zipper first sticks can determine if you are going to break the zipper or save it.

You can damage a zipper that does not quite work right by forcing it to open or close, but there are ways to make a zipper work easier. You can jam a zipper if the fabric surrounding the zipper is too floppy. You will need to sew the fabric down to get it out of the way for this problem. Your zippers can also be difficult to open if the teeth or coils get corroded. To fix this, you need to treat the teeth or coils to make the zipper work easier.

The Sewing Notions You Need to Make a Zipper Work Easier
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing thread
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Scissors
  • Toothbrush
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Candle wax or bar soap
The Sewing Steps to Follow in Order to to Free Up a Stuck Zipper
  1. Pull the zipper up and down slowly to see why it is sticking. If fabric is getting caught in the zipper pull, you need to sew the excess fabric down to make the zipper work easier. If the teeth or coils seem to be coated with something dry or sticky you need to treat or coat them to make the zipper work easier.
  2. Spread the zipper edge out flat on the table if the problem is excess fabric, so you can see the places where excess fabric is in the zipper's path. Fold the excess fabric under and pin it down using the straight pins.
  3. Thread the hand sewing needle and make a small knot, tying the thread ends together. Slide the needle's tip into the folded fabric, about 1/16 inch in, to hide the knot. Bring the needle tip out, catching about two strands of the fabric's fibers. Pull the thread snug.
  4. Move the needle's tip across to the zipper tape, about 1/16 inch forward and catch about two strands of fiber on the zipper tape. Pull until the thread is snug again, but not tight. Repeat the 1/16 inch stitching until you reach the end of the folded excess fabric.
The Steps to Unstick a Zipper by Cleaning Zipper Teeth or Coils
  1. Dip the toothbrush in distilled white vinegar if the zipper teeth or coils appear the be dry or sticky. Brush the vinegar into the zipper teeth. Let the vinegar soak in for about ten minutes, then dip the brush in vinegar and scrub again. Let the zipper teeth air dry.
  2. Rub the hard candle wax or bar soap against the zipper teeth. Use firm pressure when you rub, but do not rub so hard the wax or soap crumbles or gets on the fabric. Gently pull the zipper's slider up and down two or three times to spread the wax over the zipper teeth.

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