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I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 and 2014 to make at least one new recipe from some of our newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2015.”

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Recipe:  All-Purpose Corn Bread from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (pages 550-551)

ATK all-purpose cornbread.

  • when did we make this? Saturday, May 16, 2015, for supper with friends.
  • did we change anything? Not really, though I substituted powdered buttermilk for the regular buttermilk.
  • what did we like?  Tender crumb, and savory while being sweet!  Surprisingly (and delightfully) moist.  A great combination.  
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing :)
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?   Yes.  No changes necessary!

So, I wasn’t 100% pleased with my first top for round one of the SOSM Community Match. So, being me, I made another.  I didn’t have time to tweak my previous top‘s pattern within the time limits for the first round, so I decided to make a different top altogether.

It’s a simpler top, in terms of construction, but I am very pleased with how it turned out!

click on photos to see them larger

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My black jersey tie top is inspired by THIS one, which I’d pinned a few years ago.

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I challenged myself to make it entirely with my serger.  The only time I used my sewing machine was to baste new side seams to produce a more flattering fit.  Once I’d determined the proper shape, I serged those puppies up!

I started out with two 30″ wide by 28″ long rectangles of jersey (the same 95% rayon, 5% spandex as the green top).  I finished the top 9″ or so on each side by using a cover stitch.  I folded down the top edge by 2″ to form a channel, again using a cover stitch, for the tie.  At first, I sewed the side seams straight, and after trying it on and seeing that it looked terrible, I went through a couple iterations of curving the side seams inward with a basting stitch until I liked the look.  Like I mentioned before, I then serged the side seams at the final seam line.  The hem is a 1/2″ cover stitch (I LOVE that function on my serger!  Cover stitched everything! :))

To make the tie, I cut a 3″-wide strip of the whole 60″ width of the fabric.  I folded it in half, serged the long edge (leaving a small gap for turning) and added angled ends.  Turn, press, hand-stitch the gap, and done!

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it is unfortunate that the shorts that I’m wearing have back pockets with flaps that make odd bulges near the bottom… the shirt truly does hang nicely!

I think it would be fun to have a contrasting color for the tie, maybe one made of silky fabric (like the inspiration top’s), or even a chiffon.

I was so excited to hear that the Sew Mama Sew blog was going to host another Super Online Sewing Match (SOSM) this year!  I just love the Great British Sewing Bee (so inspiring), and I dream of being able to participate in the SOSM as a contestant.  I realized how little sewing (and making things in general) I’ve been doing purely for myself, especially garment-making.  So I’m dubbing this the “Summer of Selfish Sewing” and I’m going to make myself some garments.  And a bag.

I did apply for this year’s SOSM, but I didn’t get picked as a contestant. However, I decided that I am going to follow along with the SOSM, as if I were one of the contestants in the “real thing” anyway! Even though the official rules for the community match don’t require the same timing as the main competition, I’m going to see how well I can follow along.

The first challenge is to sew a top.  I know that I prefer jersey knit for my casual tops (let’s face it, for all my tops :-P), and so while I have some blouse patterns in my stash, I decided to work on a casual top design.  I’ve been wanting to duplicate some cross-front, empire-waist tank tops I have–they are actually nursing tops that I got when my oldest was born!  Amazingly, they are cute enough to wear even when not nursing.  They were very inexpensive, and they are starting to fall apart a bit.  So this first garment is my attempt to recreate these tops.  I drew my own own pattern by measuring and tracing one of the original tops (I couldn’t quite bring myself to take it apart, though!)

The bodice top is double-layered.  For each layer, I serged the front panels to each side of the back panel, then I attached the layers together (again with my serger), inserting the narrow portion of the strap into the back panel.  After understitching as far as I could, I attached the bodice top, crossing the front panels, to the single-layer bodice bottom, on which I’d sewn the side seams with my serger.  I tried on the top to determine where to attach the wide front part of the straps to the narrow back part of the straps.  It is hemmed with a cover stitch (also courtesy of my serger).

click photos to enlarge

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I used a stretchier knit that has more fluid drape (95% rayon, 5% spandex), because I liked the way it feels.  I purchased 3/4 yd, which was cutting it pretty close (haha, pun intended)- but it is wonderful to not have huge amounts of excess fabric to stuff into my scrap bin!

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The finished garment looks pretty good, and it is very comfortable.  But it has flaws.  Here is my self-critique:

The armholes gape.  In future editions of this top, if I make them, I will need to adjust the curve of the top bodice pieces to correct and cover.

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There is a puckered section in the back.  I added clear elastic in an attempt to stabilize the seam between the bodice top and bottom, and I inadvertently stretched it as I fed it through my serger.

The original shirt used little metal adjusters (similar to those you’d find on a bra) to allow for strap lengthening and shortening.  I couldn’t find them at the store, so in the end, I decided to just stitch the straps at the correct length for myself.  I don’t care for the differential between the two strap pieces.  If I make this style of shirt again, I’ll do it differently.

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I think that I will most likely use this as a pajama top–it certainly is comfortable!– and hopefully I will have a chance to revise my pattern in the future to make something that is more wearable out and about!

On Mother’s Day, I spent the afternoon taking this:

Garden: before.  All that grassy looking stuff was an awful weed that literally sprayed seeds when you brushed against it (or tried to grab it to pull it out...).

to this:

hand-tilled garden!  All ready for compost and planting.

I encountered a most vile species of weed– this grassy stuff actually fired tiny little seeds everywhere whenever it was brushed!  I literally had seeds stuck to my skin and caught in my eyes.  Yuck.  Instead of throwing it into my compost bin, I actually bagged it up to put into the trash. I don’t want that stuff propogating, as much as I can help it!

Garden: before.  All that grassy looking stuff was an awful weed that literally sprayed seeds when you brushed against it (or tried to grab it to pull it out...).

After I got out as many of the weeds as I could, I used our tiller tool to loosen the soil.

hand-tilled garden!  All ready for compost and planting.

I opened up our compost bin and spread the new soil on top of the garden.

We weren’t able to get to a store to get plants that day, so on Tuesday evening, we took a family field trip to Home Depot to get our plants.  I decided during the course of last year’s garden that starting tomatoes from seed isn’t quite working for me right now, so I planned to buy seedlings this year.  We got four varieties– three for the in-ground garden and one for our kids’ container on the deck.

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The garden layout is essentially the same as previous years’, in which the cucumbers and zucchini are on the left, and we have six tomato plants (two of each variety) are on the right.

After the jungle that was last year’s garden, we decided to lay down weed-preventing black fabric.  The day after we bought our plants, I went out and spent an hour or two getting the cloth laid, the tomatoes installed, and the zucchini and cucumber seeds planted.

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After our experience with last year's weeds, and dealing with those awful seed-spraying weeds to prepare the garden, I decided that we should use the black weed-blocking cloth this year.  Hopefully it helps tame them!

After our experience with last year's weeds, and dealing with those awful seed-spraying weeds to prepare the garden, I decided that we should use the black weed-blocking cloth this year.  Hopefully it helps tame them!

…and then I added mulch.

Garden planted and mulched!  Tomatoes from left to right: Tami G (grape), Golden Jubilee (heirloom), and Red Beefsteak (heirloom)

Garden planted and mulched! Tomatoes from left to right: Tami G (grape), Golden Jubilee (heirloom), and Red Beefsteak (heirloom)

Garden planted and mulched!  Cucumber seeds (background) and zucchini seeds (foreground) planted.

Cucumber seeds (background) and zucchini seeds (foreground) planted.  I cut small holes in the weed-blocking cloth for them.

Garden planted and mulched!

 

My daughter and I took a quick few minutes to plant a tomato in a pot on the porch an evening or two later. V helped me to move the soil around the plant and water it.

Vivian and I took a quick few minutes to plant a tomato in a pot on the porch before we headed to small group this evening.  Vivian helped me to move the soil around the plant and water it.

 

I was delighted to find, just a week later, that all of my seeds had sprouted.  I had been pretty worried, since we got a couple big rains, that the seeds may have washed under the weed-blocking cloth… but thankfully, everything seems to be in place!

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zucchini sprouts

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cucumber sprouts

My tomato plants were looking healthy, happy and growing, too!

The tomatoes are looking happy :)

 

One of my main goals with the garden this year is to make sure to prune my tomatoes regularly to keep them under control.  I really don’t want a buggy jungle this year!

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The quilt is finished!

Since I finished the binding late at night, I had to wait until the next day to put the quilt onto V’s bed!  But oh, doesn’t it look pretty?!

 

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This was a huge project for me, and so I indulged myself and took a LOT of “beauty shots.”

Finished quilt.

 

Finished quilt.

 

Finished quilt.

 

The pieced strip with the dedication block is placed so that it is off-center in the quilt back.  However, it still runs along the top of the bed if the quilt is flipped over.

 

 

Finished quilt.

 

…and it shows when the quilt is turned down.

Finished quilt.

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Total time to complete quilt (not including the fabric shopping or design):
3,274 minutes = 54.57 hours

See all the posts about V’s quilt HERE.

This whole project started with a joke, but once the idea had entered my head, I just had to do it!

I made six superhero capes: two for my children, three more for the children of people in a game group of ours, and one as a birthday gift (I was already making 5, what was one more? Haha!)

superhero capes!

Pinterest is full of links to kids’ superhero cape tutorials, so I combined the best features of the ones I looked at to draft my pattern.

The capes are made from polyester crepe: I thought about using cotton, but this felt more cape-y!  It is shifty and doesn’t hold a press, which made it difficult to work with at times, but it was worth it for the flowy movement, I think.

superhero capes!

On one side of each cape, I appliquéd a star and the child’s first initial.  I used iron-on interfacing on the fabric plus tear-away stabilizer as I satin-stitched the edges.

superhero capes!

superhero capes!

superhero capes!

superhero capes!

superhero capes!

 

superhero capes!

I made my daughter’s cape from the first incarnation of my pattern.  It is a bit long right now, but she’ll grow into it!

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Vivian models her superhero cape--made from the first incarnation of my pattern.  It is a bit long right now, but she'll grow into it!

The shape was good, so I shortened the length and made the rest with my new pattern. Here, V is modeling her brother’s cape.

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A much better length for a preschooler… though my just-about-one-year-old will still needs to grow into it! ;-)

See all the posts about V’s quilt HERE.

Almost from the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to do a scrappy binding for this quilt.  I ended up using some leftover 2″ strips from the front and back–as well as cutting more!– to prepare the yards and yards I needed.

I machine-stitched it to the front of the quilt…

…then spent hours hand-finishing it on the back.

I FINISHED THE QUILT TONIGHT!

 

I couldn’t help myself: I had to take a photo of the finished binding the moment the last stitch was sewn and the thread was cut.  It was pretty late at night!

I think the scrappy binding looks so fun!

Finished quilt.

Finished quilt.

I will admit that the hand-finishing was my least favorite part of the process, by far.  It was hard for me to justify sitting down to stitch when I had so many other things (both personal projects and just regular household management) to do, but I got a lot done at a church craft day and also while I joined in playing a game online with some friends!
Binding preparation : 2.17 hours
Attaching binding by machine : 1.83 hours
Hand-finishing binding : 10.98 hours

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Total time to bind quilt: 14.98 hours
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