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21  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / Seam Allowance for quilting? on: May 10, 2013 10:59:27 AM
I've heard that most people use 1/4 seam allowances for piecing quilts.  Is this true?  What do you use?  How does your machine handle small seam allowances (mine likes to chew them...)?  Any tips?     
22  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Discussion and Questions / How do you use inks? on: April 14, 2013 12:08:28 PM
I'm currently following a project tutorial in Somerset apprentice and it includes using ink at the end, but I have do idea how to use ink.

I bought a little bottle of ink (I think it has a dropper in it), and realized I have to idea how to apply it, what it will look like when I try to use it, or even where on my project I should consider putting it.

Can anyone help me with this?
23  IMAGE REPRODUCTION TECHNIQUES / Stenciling: Completed Projects / Stenciling with Office Supplies or How to Craft at Work* on: April 03, 2013 05:13:20 PM

*Note for all former, current, and future employers, I do not condone the use of work time or office supplies for personal projects, this is merely a turn of phrase to emphasize how common the supplies are. 

Computer and Printer (or another source of images to stencil)
Scotch Tape
Scissors and exacto knife
Acrylic Paint
Paint Brush
Something to put your image on (in my case cotton fabric)
Toddler for stealing craft supplies is optional (and not typically found at work)

I bet all these things are currently in/on your computer desk (Ill wait while you round them up so we can begin).

Step 1:  Decide what you want to stencil and steal find some online images that suit your desires (please only do this for personal use, I do not condone stealing others images for selling or anything like that). 

Remember that simple images (ones without a lot of small details or interior parts) stencil better.

Using some fancy photo editing software (like Paint and MS Word) prepare your images for printing by making sure they are the size you want the image to be, and by ensuring you arent wasting a lot of ink printing things you dont need (we don't want to be wasteful of office supplies...). 

Step 2: Gather Supplies (and if a toddler is present, make sure to keep your eyes on the acrylic paint at all timesdont say I didnt warn you)

Step 3: Cut a rectangle around the image leaving a border.

Step 4: Cover both sides with a layer of scotch tape.

Step 5: Cut out the area you want to stencil.  An exacto knife is handy for this but you could use scissors (keep in mind whatever you cut out is where the paint will go).  If your image has interior pieces cut them out careful and keep them for when you stencil. 

Step 6: Place stencil in desired location and apply paint using a stamping sort of motion.  Note: you need to make sure you are holding the edges of the image while painting or it may bleed beyond the edges of your stencil. 

If your image has interior pieces, use your original image (I printed it out a second time) as a guide for placing them on your printing surface.  Use your fingers to hold the pieces in place as you apply the paint (this was awkward and messy, and to be honest didnt turn out all that great). 

Now you not only have unique stencils but a great way to craft while at work, but I didnt tell you to do that. 
24  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Crockpot Guinness Stew--Image Heavy on: March 24, 2013 06:25:30 PM
I forget exactly how the idea for this came about, but it has become a favourite special winter meal around here, and tastes great over mashed potatoes. 

The recipe is based off of this one with some very obvious changes. 


Note: The mix of vegetables and amounts vary every time I make it, use things in the quantities you will enjoy and base amounts on what will fit in your Crockpot or pot)
Sweet Onion
White Mushrooms (a lot)
Portobello Mushrooms (3-4)
Sweet Potatos
Potatoes (a few for in the stew and more for mashing (ones for mashing are not in this photo))
Water (not pictured)

McCormicks All Vegetable Beef Bouillon (typically 2 cubes)
1 Large Can of Guinness (other beers might work but I dont drink the stuff so I cannot offer any advice in this area)
Thickener such as easy blend flour (pictured above) or Veloutine (pictured below... oops)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Thyme (a few shakes...)
Rosemary (a few shakes)
Malt Vinegar (1Tbs) (not pictured because I forgot it...)

Chop Onion and Celery and Fry in a bit of oil with minced garlic until softened.

Chop the rest of the veg into approximately cube-like pieces and put in crockpot.

Add onion mixture to crockpot and fill with water
Add Guinness and bouillon cubes and stir

Cook for 3-4 hours on High or 6-8 on Low

Add thickener to give the gravy base your desired consistency (like a thin-medium gravy)

Add Seasonings to taste and let cook a little bit longer.

As it is finishing make mashed potatoes

Serve Stew over Mashed potatoes with some nice Red Wine

Or milled up in a food mill with a side of avocado and crackers if you prefer
25  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Bolero made from a Scarf--with Pattern and Instructions on: March 24, 2013 04:47:39 PM

I volunteer at a fair-trade store and always love all the scarves that we sell, but have always been nervous about trying to wear them.  I figure I am not coordinated enough to make it work.  So I was very excited when in the February issue of Marie Claire there was a short article on Lemlem and was inspired by how they used scarves to make simple clothing articles.

To be honest, I didnt think this would turn out to be anything special, but I love it.  It was the fastest thing I have ever made, and I think it turned out pretty well.  Now I just need summer to come so I can wear it and not freeze.

Pattern and Instructions:
1 Rectangular Scarf (mine measured 13 by 60)  The width needs to be greater than the circumference of your arm, and the length determines the length of your sleeves (for reference I am 53/4 tall). 
Note you could probably also use fabric but would need to finish the edges.
A sewing machine (unless you love hand sewingit probably wouldnt be that bad to hand sew)
A measuring tape
Thread and pins
Up to 1 hour of time (seriously this took less than 1 hour from start to finish) 

Step 1: Take some measurements:
Measurement A: From Armpit to armpit (can be done across your front or back)
   For me this was 16
Measurement B: From Armpit to Elbow
   For me this was 8

Step 2: A little bit of Math
Divide Measurement A by 2 (for me this is 8) (well call this number C)
Divide Measurement B by 2 (for me this is 4) (well call this number D)

Step 3: Mark the Centre Point on the long sides of the scarf

Step 4: Fold the Scarf with wrong sides together such that you have a long narrow rectangle

Step 5: On each side of the Centre Mark Measure (C+D+1) (this is where your seam will start)

Step 6: Pin the fabric together along the length of your seams

Step 7: Sew both seams with a half inch or less seam allowance

Step 8: Cut threads, turn right side out.

Step 9: Put on your awesome new bolero and show it off.   

26  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Discussion and Questions / Art Journalling Starter kit for a young teen--ideas for contents? on: March 21, 2013 11:13:51 AM
I want to put together an art journalling started kit for a 14 year old family friend and would love some thoughts on what to put in it.  I can't spend a fortune, and am not certain the recipient would have ever been exposed to art journalling before.  I was looking at a couple of books to possibly include ( this one and this one )  would these be a good teen friendly introduction?  Are there better ones? 

What supplies would be essential to include?

Thanks everyone for your help.     
27  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Discussion and Questions / Alterations for a skinny kid on: March 14, 2013 05:18:51 PM
So I bought some Ottobre magazines and was very excited to start sewing for my two year old until I realized what a pain it was going to be to sew for her...

She has an 18 inch chest and is 32 inches tall (so in Ottobre sizing that is about size 62 around and 86 tall). 
I know I can adapt things that include those two sizes, but my question is about all the pretty dresses that only start at size 92 or 98 (so 1 or 2 sizes 2 big) is there any easy (ish) way to alter those to fit my tiny kid.   
28  COOKING / Dessert / Farmtastic Second Birthday Cake--image heavy on: February 18, 2013 11:43:48 AM
My daughter loves farms and tractors, so I decided to make her a farm birthday cake.  My husband had the great idea to make it a Smartie Farm since she also loves smarties candies (they are very similar to M&Ms).  All the recipes came from Edna Stabler's book Food that Really Schmecks (it's my go-to book for baking recipes) except for the marshmallow fondant, I found that recipe on a blog somewhere.

Both cakes were 2 layers with icing for the filling.  This was my first time layering cakes, filling cakes, decorating a cake, and trying to make tiers.  All in all I think it was a success. 

The bottom layer was chocolate cake with a chocolate icing that was intended to keep the cake moist (it ended up taking over an hour of fiddling with it to get it to thicken so I'm not so sure about it, but it tasted fantastic and 2 days later the cake was still moist so maybe it was worth it).  It was covered in marshmallow fondant.  It was my first time ever working with or making fondant.  I found it really elastic and therefor hard to roll out, and it shrunk up after I cut around the edges.  This layer was supposed to look like a red barn. 

On top of that I put the white cake, I used a bit of buttercream icing to hold it in place (I did not use any supports for the tiers). 

After icing the white cake green I added the farmer's field.  The dirt was oreo cookie crumbs mixed with whipped cream, which I placed on the cake (it looked gross while I was doing it), and after I planted the Smarties I added some more loose crumbs.  I then added some coconut that I tried to dye green around the edges. 

Then I added a little replica John Deere tractor we had, and some farm animals that I bought to finish the decorating. 

The birthday girl loved her cake...

but was only interested in eating the Smarties...

Next year we will skip the cake I think...
29  COOKING / Dessert / What do I need to know?--First time making a layered and tiered cake on: February 07, 2013 05:31:04 PM
So I want to make a 2 tiered cake and I want each tier to consist of 2 layers (because cake tastes better that way).

What do I need to know so I don't royally screw it up?  When should I bake the cakes (they are for a Saturday Dinner)?  When should I decorate them?  Do I need dowels to support the second tier?  What else should I be asking that I don't even know about?

I should add that I do have lots of experience baking cakes, just never with decorating or assembling them with any success (typically things I make taste great but look like a 4 year old did the decorating (no offense intended to 4 year olds Smiley )).

Thanks so much.  
30  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Resource about Feet, Stitches, and Tension? on: February 01, 2013 12:46:14 PM
So I've been sewing for basically forever, but have never really ventured beyond my zigzag and zipper feet and pretty much just use the zigzag and straight stitches.  I'm wondering if there are any good and easy to understand resources out there to help me understand when and how to change things up.

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