Sunday, January 31, 2010

We've got you covered - Recovering an Ottoman

I have been meaning to get this up onto the blog for awhile. Here is a pretty cool Before & After job that we did on a pair of chewed & scratched up Ottomans. A woman brought in these (at one point) cute ottomans that her cat had totally destroyed. Since simple upholstery jobs are totally something we do all the time, I said sure, we'll take care of it!

She chose some great chocolate brown microsuede fabric to recover the ottomans. At about $8 per yard and since we would only need about 3 yards to do the two ottomans, this was going to be a relatively inexpensive tune up. (Hooray, says the client!)

The photos speak for themselves.



Friday, January 15, 2010

Eco-Friendly Shopping Tote for Dog Lovers

Today I started my day, taking Antonio, my pooch, for a walk. We headed over to the nearby Pathmark cause he was completely out of dog good. I tied him up in a pretty secure place in the back that not too many people know about at the Back Entrance of the Patchmark. I only do this when I know I can run in and run out and since it was about 8am, I knew he would be okay for the 8 minutes it would take me to run in and grab dog food and pay.

We walked back home, with a big bag of dog food in hand & Antonio happily anticipating his breakfast. As he ate and I checked my email, I came across this great tutorial for how to turn that bag of dog food (after it's empty) into an eco-friendly grocery shopper. And here it is, courtesy of the Sewing Savvy Newsletter.


  • Dog-food bag -- 20 lbs or larger
  • 1 1/2 yards of nylon webbing
  • Four 1 1/2-inch buttons
  • Embroidery thread and needle
  • Rotary cutter, mat and ruler
  • Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies
  • Flower-shaped paper punch or die-cut machine and flower-shaped die (optional)
  • Washcloth and soapy water to wipe wrong side of bag
  1. Remove as many crumbs from the bag as possible. Cut off the top and bottom of the bag using the rotary cutter, mat and ruler.
  2. Turn the bag wrong side out and use the washcloth and soapy water to wipe the wrong side of the bag; let dry.
  3. Open the side folds of the bag and sew the bottom edge of the bag closed.
  4. Fold up the bottom edge of the bag, centering the seam line, and box the corners of the bag by measuring in 3 inches from the corner of each point and marking the sewing line with the ruler and pencil. Sew along the marked line.
  5. Turn over the top edge of the bag 2 inches, and then again 3 inches and press using a press cloth and an iron set on the cotton setting. Sew next to the folded edge through all layers of the bag.
  6. Cut the webbing in two equal lengths and zigzag-stitch across the ends to prevent fraying.
  7. Mark the placement of the webbing handles along the inside edge of the bag approximately 2 inches down from the top edge of the bag.
  8. Use a zigzag stitch to attach each of the handle ends to the bag.
  9. Turn the bag right side out, carefully pushing out each of the bottom corners of the bag.
  10. Use the embroidery thread and needle to sew buttons through the bag and webbing, covering the stitching lines of the handles.
  11. Cut out a flower using the punch or the die cut machine and attach to the front of the bag with a button. This step is optional.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Does Custom Lettering Work

With our new fancy shmancy sewing machine, we can now do custom lettering & monogramming on just about anything we can squeeze into an embroidery hoop. We are having lots of fun monogramming and personalizing anything and everything in site. It's adds such a nice personal touch to just about anything.

The other day, I took a little video of exactly how the lettering is done in the machine. It's pretty cool. And keep in mind that there is no one running the machine. You just type what you want on the item into the sewing machine and let it go. Take a look:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Great Deals on Private & Duet Sewing Lessons

As you most likely already know, we have a bunch of new, fabulous sewing classes for 2010. And some are in full swing! But what happens if you are interested in learning how to sew, but your schedule doesn't work with any of our classes???

Don't fret - Private & Duet Sewing Lessons are the way to go and this year they are more reasonable than ever!

We have adjusted our Duet Sewing Lessons to make it more affordable for you and a friend to take sewing lessons together.

Right now you can sign up for Duet Sewing Lessons with Megan for $30/Hour or for $90 for a set of four hour-long sessions.

Or take Duet Lessons with Devon for $25/Hour or $75 for a set of four hour-long sessions.

Not bad, eh?

So what if you don't think you are going to be able to find a friend to take lessons with you???  Do not sweat it!

Devon is offering private one-on-one sewing lessons for $40/hour or $128 for four sessions. 
You can't beat that!

Private & Duet Sewing Lessons can be schedule just about any time of day that we don't already have other things going on in the store. If you are interested, purchase the lessons online and then call us or  send us an email with your availability. We will get right back to you to set something up.

And don't be afraid to try us out. You don't have to commit to doing a whole package right away. If you buy one, take the lesson and love, we will apply what you paid for the one lesson to a package of four!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Make your Own Snuggie

A student of mine found this great "Snuggie" Tutorial online. It's been so cold here lately, I thought we have to make this!

So - we are going to be making the Snuggie in our next Meetup/Burda Style Sew Along on Wednesday. There are spots available for this meetup, if you would like to attend, here are the details:

Please note: This is not a sewing lesson. I ask that you have some sewing experience before attending the Meetup/Burday Style SewAlongs.

And if you can't make it, but are interested in making it at home, here is the great How-to Lauren found (thanks Lauren!):

The Snuglet
A comfy, cozy, easy-to-make fleece blanket
that lets you keep your arms free
without sacrificing warmth!

a project by Welmoed Sisson

You will need:
3 yards polar fleece, 60” wide

Cut 24” off one short end of the fleece and set it aside; this
piece will become the sleeves (fig. 1)
Fold the fleece in half longways.

Mark location of the armholes. (fig. 2) The armholes will be ovals
approximately 9” high and 6” wide. (fig. 3)

For the sleeves: take the 24” piece and cut in half to yield
two pieces, each 24” by 30”. Fold in half to make a tube
12” x 30”. Sew or serge the long edge. Finish one end of
the tube as desired to form a cuff.
Check sleeve for length; they’re supposed to be loose-
fitting but if you have very short arms you may want to
take a few inches off.
Pin the sleeve into the armhole, making sure to keep the
sleeve seam at the bottom of the armhole. Sew or serge.
Repeat for other sleeve.

Since fleece doesn’t ravel, you have many options for
finishing the edges. You can:
• leave the edge plain
• Trim the edge with a decorative rotary cutter (such as a
scalloped or pinked edge)
• Fringe the edge
• Band with a strip of lycra
• Fold over and topstitch for a quick self-banding

You’re finished! Just slip your arms into the sleeves and
relax; you can stay warm all the way up to your chin and
still be able to use your hands!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hem Your Own Pants Video

This Saturday we'll be offering the Hem Your Own Pants Workshop from 1-2 at the studio. I found this great Makezine Video illustrating the way we'll be doing it in the workshop:

DIY Fabric Owl Coasters

With the Home Decor Lab Starting tonight I thought I would share a project that we'll be working on in class tonight.

I found the most adorable Owl Coasters tutorial online at She makes them a similar way to the way we'll be making them in class tonight, and added an adorable owl applique, so I thought might share this easy how-to with you:

How to Sew a Fab Fabric Coaster!

By erinloechner

From Fat Orange Cat:
Jox at The Knitted Blog requested an appliqued coaster tutorial, and I’m happy to oblige. Keep in mind that I’m completely self-taught, so just because I do it a certain way, that does not necessarily mean it’s the “right” way to do it! But I’ve established a way that works well for me, which I’m happy to share.


1. Cut two pieces of 4.5″x4.5″ fabric and one piece of 4.5″x4.5″ batting. Set aside.

2. Draw or trace a pattern or shape in reverse onto the liner of your double stick fusible web. (First check to see which side of the liner you should draw on by peeling it apart slightly at the corner. You will draw on the side of the liner that’s still attached to the web.)

3. Peel off and discard the side of the tracing paper that you did not draw on. Stick the remaining side to the wrong side of a piece of fabric (it will not permanently stick until you iron it into place, so reposition as necessary).

4. Cut the fusible web and the fabric together along the line that you drew.
5. Peel off and discard the remaining side of the tracing paper, ensuring that the web stays stuck to the fabric.

6. Place the shape — web-side down — onto the right side of one of the pre-cut 4.5″x4.5″ pieces of fabric. Reposition as necessary. When you’re happy with the placement, iron it permanently into place by pressing for 10-15 seconds.

7. Repeat steps two through six as necessary until you’re done with your applique design.

8. Stack your three 4.5″x4.5″ pieces: batting on the bottom, one piece of fabric in the middle with the right side facing up, and one piece of fabric on top with the right side facing down. (This picture is set up just to show you which way each piece of fabric should face. When you’re ready to sew the three pieces together, they should be stacked one directly on top of the other and pinned together.)

9. Sew all three pieces together with a .25″ seam allowance, leaving a 1.5″ opening so you can turn the coaster inside-out. Trim the corners as shown.

10. Turn the coaster inside-out, ensuring that the layer of batting is on the inside, between the two layers of fabric. Gently push the corners out using a knitting needle or a chopstick. Hand stitch the 1.5″ opening.

11. Put something hot or cold on your new coaster. Repeat step 11 as neccessary.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Today Project of the Day - Sewing a Zipper into a Dress

The Fashion Lab Dress Lab starts this evening and I am very excited to be teaching this class! We will be working on the pattern for the dress to the left. It's a fairly straightforward pattern, but the two challenging aspects of it will be learning how to do darts & zippers.

I found a great series of videos on Youtube demonstrating a super easy way to insert a zipper into a dress. Take a look here to check it out.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

People get really bogged down in the thought of inserting a zipper while sewing anything. It's really not difficult at all if you take your time and use a zipper foot. I think this video from Expert Village does a really good job of showing you just how easy it really is.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Macaroni & Cheese - I kind of made up the recipe...

So I suppose we are going to need more to eat at my friend Heather's (sort of) baby shower/ informal dinner...

Heather is a super-fan of all comfort foods, so we decided homemade mac & cheese would be perfect for the menu.

Yes, I know that I probably have endless mac&cheese recipes in this apartment, not too mention all the kick-ass recipes I am sure to find online, but I figured, I had this one covered. I would come up with a little batch of delish mac & cheese based on the cheeses that I bought for the occasion, and supplement with what I have in the refrigerator right now.

Here is how the recipe went down:

I put about half a stick of unsalted butter in a large pan and melted it. I added about a 1/4 cup of unbleashed flower to that and browned it a bit. I added about 3/4 of a cup of 2% milk to this and brough everything to a boil. I would have much rather used half & half, but didn't have any...

To this concoction, I added what was left of a four cheese shredded blend from Trader Joe's (about 1/4 of a 12 oz. bag), I shredded what was left of a mozz log (from our NYE pre-dinner snack), I added about 1/3 of a fontina cheese wedge (shredded of course and then I added about 1/3 of a bag of shredded sharp cheddar.

I tasted the blend and whilte it was tasty, I was totally wishing that I had a little stronger of a cheese in there, but it is WAY too cold to make a grocery store run right now. These four cheeses are going to have to make due.

While all this was happening, I cooked about a pound of bow-tie pasta and when that was finished, add the cheesy goodness to the pasta. I mixed it all up, resisted the urge to get out a fork and just dig in right then and there, and put the macaroni into the dutch over. I sprinkled a handful of seasoned bread crumbs to the top of the pot and stuck it into the 350 degree oven.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Get a load of this - Salty sweet chocolate cake

Yesterdays project involved this great cookbook I checked out from the library. It's called Baked - New Frontiers in Baking and it's full of recipes from their Brooklyn Bakery.

Their signature creation, most requested recipe and most beloved cake at the bakery is the Sweet & Salty Cake and I couldn't wait to try it. Since today some friends and I are putting on a little informal baby shower for another friend I thought this would be the perfect excuse to try the cake and bring it over for the shower. And let me tell you I CANNOT wait to try this little cake!

Now, as you can imagine, their recipes are not simple. But I guess none of the recipes that I ever want to try, are simple. This one, actually really wasn't that bad, but I baked the cake layers a day ahead. I made the caramel and frosting yesterday and put the cake together. Since lately my apartment temperature hovers around 59 degrees, it was the perfect temperature to make a perfect buttercream and assembling the cake was a snap!

Here is the list of ingredient for the three components of this cake:

Classic Chocolate Cake Layers:
3/4 Cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (which I just realized I forgot to put in, uh oh)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla

For the salted caramel
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup sour cream

For the Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting
1 Pound Dark Chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups (four sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

And you need roughly 5 teaspoons of fleur de sel (sea salt), for the layers of the cake and for the garnish.

Now to make the cake, pre-heat the over to 325 degrees (thank god, this totally warmed up my apartment on this frigid weekend!) butter/oil three 8" round cake pans, cut out parchment paper rounds that fit in the bottom of the cake pans and oil them, as well.

To make the cake batter combine the cocoa powder, hot water and sour cream and set aside to cool.

Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside. (I will be honest, I amost never do this for cake recipes. I end up just adding all these dry ingredients to my wet ingredients at the end. I am a big fan of not dirtying as many bowls as most recipes suggest and most of the time, the recipe comes out just fine.)

Beat the butter and shortening in the kitchenaid with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at at time and beat between each addition. Add the vanilla and beat a little more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds.

Add your dry ingredients, alternating with your cocoa mixture. Divide the batter between all three cake pans and bake for about 40 minutes, until you can stick a fork in the middle of the cakes and the prongs come out clean.

Make the salted caramel by adding the cream and the sea salt. Heat until the salt is all dissolved.

Add 1/4 cup of water, the corn syrup and the granulated sugar to a different saucepan. Heat on high until the mixture reads 350 degrees (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool. Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture and let it cool. Put it in an airtight container and store in refrig until you are ready to assemble cake.

Making the caramel ganache frosting start out the same way as above.

Make the salted caramel by adding the cream and the sea salt. Heat until the salt is all dissolved.

Add 1/4 cup of water, the corn syrup and the granulated sugar to a different saucepan. Heat on high until the mixture reads 350 degrees (6-8 minutes). Pour the mixture over the dark chocolate in another heat-proof bowl. Let it sit for a minute until it starts to melt the chocolate.
Mix up this mixture until all the chocolate is completely melted. Let it cool and transfer to your mixer bowl. Beat this chocolate on low until it's completely cool.
Increase the speed to med-high and start adding the butter in small pieces until all is completely incorporated . Beat on high until the mixture is fluffy.

Assemble the cake

Place the first layer of the cake on a serving platter, add 1/3 of the salted caramel and spread it out. Add 1/4 of the ganache frosting and spread it out. Sprinkle some sea salt over this layer and add the second layer of cake. Add the caramel, frosting and sea salt in the same way. Add the third layer of cake and caramel. Crumb coat the cake with the ganache and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Frost the cake with the rest of the frosting and garnish with the remaining sea salt.

Phew - done - Finally!

I will let you know how it tastes after we sample it at the shower dinner tonight.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day one: I made pickles

Happy New Year!

Today is a New Day, a New Year and a New Decade

In 2010, I am going to make something new each and every day and blog about it here.

Today, when I woke up, I went upstairs to clean my kitchen from my NYE Homemade Ravioli mess last night. They were so delicious, but so messy!

The other day I picked up some small English cucumbers at the market. They were perfect for making dill pickles. They happened to have some great fresh dill at this same market, so I knew that pickles would definitely be in my future.

To make the pickles I used a recipe from a great old book, I found at the antique mall by my parents last weekend. It's called Mother Earth's Hassle-Free Vegetable Cookbook. This has been the first recipe I have used from the book, but based on how easy (and yes, hassle-free) the pickle recipe was, I will definitely be making more recipes from this book.

Here is the recipe:

30 Cucumbers
1/2 cup course salt
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons vinegar
4 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon mixed pickling spice
10 sprigs dill

Now - I had no idea what "pickling spice" was, so after googling it, I found this page and it had some great recipes for making your own pickling spice. But since I didn't have most of what was called for in the pickling spices, I kind of did my own thing.

I made the brine by adding the salt to the water and then letting it come to a boil. I then let it cool and added the vinegar. I had cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise so that I could fit them bettering into my small canning jars.

I washed and dried all the jars and lids really well. I was able to get 5-6 halves into each jar. I also put one bay leaf and one garlic clove in each jar. I placed one sprig of dill into each jar as well. I filled the jars with the salt/vinegar solution and put on the lids. It says to keep them in a cool place and test one after 5 days.

I will let you all know how they turned in about a week!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone