Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Serger Success!

There's a new baby at our house - a Baby Lock Imagine serger - and I am having a blast getting to know her.  I bought a used serger years ago but could never figure out how to thread the blessed thing.  After several years of moving it only to dust, I finally sold it.  About a year ago, I had the urge to try again.  I've been doing more garment sewing for the kidlets plus I've tackled a few things for myself with some success.

So, I researched and then visited sewing stores to try them out.  Not surprisingly, I leaned towards the more expensive Baby Locks with their jet air threading ease.  I managed to locate exactly what I wanted through the yahoo site, SewItsForSale, and made my purchase a few weeks ago.  Probably paid a bit more than I should have, but you can't take it with you, right?

Serger project completed - yippee!
Here is a picture of my first completed project.  I used Butterick 5948 and made view E.  I made no alterations at all.  In the garment sewing world, I guess you would call this my muslin.  If I make this pattern again (and I will), I think I'll lengthen it a bit to hide more of my hips.  Lordy, lordy ....

The fabric is from the stash I inherited from my mother-in-law so cost basis is zero.  I learned a lot and even wore the top out into the world today with DH.  That's always a good test - are you willing to actually be seen in the garment that you made?

This was a good choice for a beginning serger project, in my opinion.  Simple design and construction, but I had to think about how to put it together using a serger.  Construction is not quite the same as using a regular sewing machine.  This was a combo project - I did the neck facing with my Bernina and topstitched the hems on both the sleeves and bottom of the garment on the Bernina as well.  (My serger does not have a coverstitch.  A stand-alone coverstitch is next on my list but don't tell DH!)

I had lots of good advice about the order of construction from another favorite yahoo group, the Creative Machine Newsletter.  Those wonderful ladies gave me detailed instructions so I didn't mess up!

I love, love, love the way the inside of the garment is finished.  Just makes the whole project more professional even if done by a fair-to-middling sewist with hand-me-down fabric!

By the way, if you are not familiar with yahoo groups, check them out.  There is a wealth of information out there.  Fair warning - the SewItsForSale group can get expensive!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well, it's been a long, been a long, been a long time ....

.... since I blogged.  No excuses here.  (I hate those bloggers who tell you all their reasons for not blogging - I just had other things on my mind.)

Anyway, Happy St. Patrick's Day!  DH absolutely loves corned beef, so there is no reason at all that I only make it once per year.  Well, maybe one reason - the kids hated it!  They would tease me unmercifully in hopes that I would forego the annual ritual.  No way.  I was raised by a mom who celebrated every holiday imaginable regardless of ethnicity.  (We were probably the only pseudo-Protestant family who ate fish every Friday, pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and latkes during Hannukah.  Mom's goal was to celebrate every day.)

Over the years, I've gone from the traditional stove-top corned beef, to the crockpot version, to the Dutch oven version, etc., etc., etc.  Here is my tried and true, never fail, would even serve it to company version.  It was a success again tonight with DH.  Enjoy!


4 pounds center cut corned beef brisket
1 lemon -- ends trimmed
1 onion -- peeled
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
6 whole cloves
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar

Trim and discard most of the surface fat from brisket. Rinse meat well under cool running water, rubbing gently to release its corning salt. Lay meat, fattiest side up, in a 2-inch deep, 11 by 15 inch roasting pan. Thinly slice lemon and onion and lay slices over meat. Sprinkle with peppercorns, allspice, and cloves. Set pan on middle rack in a 325 degree oven. Pour about 8 cups boiling water around brisket, seal the pan with foil, and bake until meat is very tender when pierced, about 4 hours. Uncover and drain off all but about 1 cup of the liquid. If desired, reserve the lemon and onion slices and rearrange them on top of the meat. In a small bowl, mix the mustard and brown sugar; spread evenly over meat, on top of the onion-lemon mixture. Broil about 8 inches from heat until the mustard mixture begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a platter. Serve hot, warm, or cold; slice meat across the grain.

The only problem with this recipe in our house is that there aren't enough leftovers.  DH had thirds ... oh, my.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Success followed by failure ... oh, my!

As usual, I put too many projects on my plate to finish before Christmas.  I saw a fun project on one of the blogs that I read and thought I could just whip up a couple prior to the holidays.  Will I never learn?

Snowflake Pillow Cover
Wisely, I put all the makings of these pillows away -- and out of sight -- until the January calm returned.  I finished three this week.  So, can I say that I am ahead for Christmas 2011?

The tutorial can be found here.  Noodleheads is one of the blogs that I read consistently.  Anna comes up with some great, simple projects and wonderful tutorials.

The pillow covers, which are in the envelope style and designed for an 18" square pillow insert, are made of felt.  I just bought the cheap felt by the yard when it was on sale at JoAnns.  The only problem I had with the project was that you could see the red color through the white snowflake a bit more than I would have liked.  For the second and third pillows, I fused a lightweight interfacing to the white felt before cutting out the snowflake.  That helped a bit.  If I make any more of these, I'll use a higher grade of felt or a different kind of fabric entirely.  Also, it takes a bit of time to cut all those angles of the snowflake.  I tried the Xacto knife as the tutorial instructs.  I found that I had better luck with the Fiskars snips that I bought a few years ago for making rag quilts.  The inner cuts, however, definitely required the Xacto knife.  I used one of my favorite Bernina feet, the #10C, to sew around the snowflake 1/8" from the edges.  I love that foot!

Alas, not all sewing projects go so smoothly.  I made both of my granddaughters skirts for the holidays and had some leftover fabric.  I found a cute little purse tutorial (you can find it here - scroll down to Lezette Thomason) and decided to make matching purses for each of the girls.  I've had the #62 foot for several years and have never attempted to use it.  Well, I do not love this foot!  I watched the Bernina video, checked out my Feetures book, and even used Google to find a lesson that would help me.  After 45 very frustrating minutes, I just gave up and did it the old-fashioned way turning a narrow hem and ironing it carefully before stitching.  I think I need a personal demonstration about how to get the fabric into the slot of the foot!

Now that the frustrating part is over, I should be able to finish the purses today and post a picture tomorrow.  It feels good to get back to sewing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In the aftermath of Tucson

Warning - political commentary ahead!

The most powerful weapon we have as American citizens, and the ONLY one that can effect change in our government:

As a responsible adult, I am ashamed of those on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of the airways, for the state of our political "discussion."  I am as tired of indignation and righteousness as I am of slime and fear-mongering.  The art of political debate is dead.  Compromise is now a 4-letter word.  When I see a beacon of hope, they disappoint.

Henceforth, I will be searching for moderates, regardless of their political party, who are willing to discuss, debate, compromise and who value decency, kindness, and respect.  Where are you?  Please, please, please .... step up to the plate.  We need you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's a comfort food kinda night ....

I've been wrestling with what I want to say about the events in Tucson.  I've gone from shock, to anger, to reflection, to political commentary, to sadness, and back to anger.  I realize that I'm not yet ready to translate my thoughts and feelings into words.  So tonight, I made "comfort" food for me and my DH.  This is the simplest of recipes, a characteristic that most comfort foods enjoy.  Tonight, I served it with bacon and steamed green beans.  It was perfect!


2 cups dry macaroni -- cooked and drained
3/4 stick butter
1 pound Velveeta
1 cup whole milk

Cook macaroni as directed. Drain and set aside.  Melt butter in small pan. Add Velveeta and milk and cook until cheese is melted.  Mix into cooked macaroni and serve immediately.
Of course, it was also a martini night.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How to tell the holidays are over ... Part 3

The urge to cleanup, cleanout, and organize is as strong as the urge to push in the last minutes of labor!  Well ....... almost!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How to tell the holidays are over ... Part 2

You no longer sprint to the mailbox in hopes of receiving a holiday card from an old friend.  You stroll to the mailbox knowing that it will only contain bills!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How to tell the holidays are over ...

No one will eat the remaining Christmas cookies.