10 September 2012

I Need More... than SEVEN folds [Sette Neckwear]

Get out of town.  Seriously, only SEVEN folds?  My sewing/crafty brain cannot get over how these gorgeous, Italian-crafted neckties have ONLY seven folds.  I am in awe and totally salivating.  Which one probably should not do around high-end, silk ties... 

Sette Neckwear pays homage to old world craftsmanship and attention to detail.  (And I'm not just saying that.  If you know me, you know how persnickety I am about fabrics and construction.)  I love the history and tradition of this kind of production:

"A Sette seven-fold necktie is constructed from one beautiful piece of silk asymmetrically folded seven times onto itself.  This process give Sette its name, as "sette" means "seven" in Italian.

"Recently, many high-end neckwear companies have offered a version of a seven-fold necktie.  While these ties may appear elegant on the surface, they lack the traditional craftsmanship and quality of a true seven-fold necktie made the traditional way, as a Sette is made.

"After the Great Depression, the high cost of silk and struggling economy led to cutbacks in quality, and the seven-fold, made in the traditional way, disappeared.  Sette's world-class designer brought this traditional style back to life in the 1980s and has perfected it anew with the Sette seven-fold.

"Is our way more difficult?  yes.  Does it make for a finer product?  Most certainly.

"A Sette is the absolute finest necktie in the world thanks to its exquisite finish and pure silk interior, classically crafted."

And if you act quickly, YOU have a chance to win a Sette necktie!  Like them on Facebook and share their giveaway post, tweet about it, or spread the word on Instagram for a chance to win a political Sette of your choice.  This is a golden opportunity and won't you be sad if you didn't throw your hat in the ring for a chance like this?

Well, if you must know... my favorite Sette (non-election) tie is the delicious Golden Tossed Dots.  Do you have a favorite?

Big love to our friends, the Watkins, for launching an amazing company with fashion flashes from the likes of Mike Allen of Politico, Piers Morgan of CNN, George Stephanopoulos of Good Morning America, and John Dickerson of Face the Nation.  And glossy mentions in Washingtonian Magazine and StyleForum.net.  Not to mention, Sette Neckwear is on The Fancy.  TheFancy.com deserves another post all it's own because I love it so much.  It's like Pinterest in the fast lane.

01 September 2012

I Need More... Lunchtime Entertainment [Lunch Box Re-do]

We are lucky enough to have friends/neighbors who own a booming business.  Maybe you've heard of it - DownEast Outfitters.  They sell super fashionable, modest clothing.  But what you might not know, is that they also have clearance centers that re-sell treasures from stores like Pottery Barn and the like at killer prices.

Last summer someone tipped me off to DownEast's sale on Pottery Barn Kids beach towels at just $2.50 each!  I seriously bought about twenty and then another twenty to pass out like tissues at the pool.  This year the hot tip was lunch boxes.  With my daughter starting kindergarten, we were in need of a serious lunch box.

There is just one little hitch when it comes to things like beach towels and lunch boxes at the DownEast clearance center... they are there because they are factory seconds or returns.  So, the lunch boxes that we found, at 2/$5 by the way, originally looked like this:

Now, I don't have a clue who "Mrj. Reese" or "Zoe R." are, but I am more than happy to make lemonade out of their lemon lunch boxes!  And it was easy, I just cut some fabric labels and ironed them on with no-sew ultrahold Heat-N-Bond.  My favorite kindergartener is over the moon to have not one, but two lunch boxes to choose from each morning and I'm trilled that it only set me back five bucks!  Easiest (and maybe cheapest) craft ever.

Do you have any "easiest craft ever" stories to share?  I'd love to hear them!

21 August 2012

I Need More... No.2 Pencils [Back to School]

Who's ready to head back to school?  I'm going to guess that the majority of hands that shot up are from the mothers who are busy packing lunches into shiny new lunch boxes, settling into carpool routines, and delirious with excitement about the possibility of new-found moments of free time.  The collective groan must have come from the under-18 set.  Stop it.  What are you groaning about?

I loved the first day of school as a kid.  Remember how your clothes were new and starchy and way too warm for the summer heat that clearly didn't get the memo that autumn had arrived?  Remember seating charts that sat you right next to the cutest boy in school who - when he was in a good mood - asked you, yes, you to help him fill in the holes on his unfinished homework?  Remember the little notes of encouragement from your parents tucked into your book bag that made riding the school bus bearable?  Yeah.  Me, too.

Parents!  Don't miss the chance to make your little scholar's day!  Tuck a love note into a lunch, a book, or inside a sneaker.  Who knows... they might even forget to roll their eyes at you as you shout, "I love you, sweetheart!" in front of their friends.

Download the FREE "Hey Smartie Pants!" printable here.

I made my custom Back to School seals by printing the pdf document on full sheet label paper (available at any office supply retailer) and then cut to size.  (I started with a scalloped circle paper punch that was just shy of 2-inches, but decided that I liked the look of a square better.  It made the label look more like a miniature piece of binder paper.  You can see both in the photo above.)  Stick them on a teeny paper bag full of Smarties candies and enjoy!

10 July 2012

I Need More... Singing in the Rain [Tray6]

I love rain.  Alas, living in a desert clime doesn't satisfy my desire to don wellies and splash around in puddles as often as I would like.  But it doesn't mean that a girl shouldn't be prepared for when the thunder rolls!  Speaking of... have you seen the new umbrellas by Tray6?  These are not the umbrellas of yesteryear, that were "plain black and boring plaid... with shoddy spokes and sharp metal parts".  Oh no!  These are beautifully designed and an accessory that you want to have at the ready.  
(I think I might want need the Pixel Plaid Orange Stick Umbrella and Rain-Resistant Raspberry Crossbody Bag, if you're wondering.)


Check out Tray6's web site and like them on Facebook.  I am so proud of my old school buddy, Peggy Hsu, on the launch of her fabulous new company!  J'espere que il pleut!  (We took French together...)

26 June 2012

I Need More... Pinpricks [Clover Wonder Clips]

My mother send me these little gems recently and holy cow have they changed the way I sew!  Well, not actually the way I sew, but definitely how I hold things together as I sew.  The Clover Wonder Clip replaces the straight pins that have, for years, pricked my fingers.  
Use them just as you would regular sewing pins.  They stay put and won't snag your delicate fabrics!  Plus, when you accidentally drop one on the floor, you aren't panicking to find the lost pin before someone steps on it!  Ouch!

REVIEW PROS: They hold like a pin without puncturing your fabric.  They come in a hinged storage box.
REVIEW CONS: They are much pricier than old fashioned pins at $6.99/10 or $32.99/50.  (Be sure to use a coupon when purchasing these little beauties!)

21 June 2012

I Need More... Cute Kid Clothing [dolman sleeve shirt]

Why is it that little girl clothing in stores for four to five year olds is still designed as if they are either: 1) still 2 years old, splattered with unnecessary glittered butterflies (I so hate butterflies) or 2) way overpriced for just how quickly little kids grow of their clothing (Crewcuts... I'm looking at you)?

Why is it that I hoard ideas for fashionable childrens' clothing, am a fairly experienced seamstress, and yet my daughter's wardrobe still comes from the store?

Okay.  Thanks for playing therapist for a moment.  Now back to the creation at hand.  Let's start with just about the easiest piece of clothing to sew.  Ever.  Kindergarden - meet the dolman sleeve tshirt - because my daughter will be wearing one of these babies every day.

A basic tshirt that your kid wears now as a rough pattern
Jersey knit fabric (unwanted adult tshirts work beautifully for this)
Sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc.


1. Lay your child's tshirt on top of your new shirt's fabric as a guide.  Cut around the existing shirt, allowing some breathing room.  A dolman shirt should be a bit roomy.  HINT: To get a perfectly symmetrical shirt, cut half of the shirt and then fold your fabric in half to cut the remaining half.  Wildly helpful!

Cut out an accompanying waistband, 4-inches wide and a few inches shy of the bottom of your shirt's measurement.  This will rely mostly on how stretchy your fabric is.

2. Serge (or zigzag) the necklines and sleeve openings, fold under about 1/4-inch, and hem.  Be gentle here, you're working with knit.  Too much tug and you have a ripply mess; too little and every time Janie puts on this shirt your likely to have a seam pop.

3. With right sides together, serge the shoulder and side seams.

4. Sew waistband fabric into a tube and then fold in half.  Turn your shirt right side out and pin waistband piece to main shirt.  Serge.

5. Pat yourself on the back.  You are so done!

19 June 2012

I Need More... Words [What Doctors CANNOT Tell You]

Over dinner not too long ago, our friend casually mentioned, "I now have 5,000 copies of my book in the garage." Hold on.  Rewind.  "5,000 copies of what book?"  

Turns out, Kevin is one of those rare people who do what they say they are going to do.  (Oh, to have that feather in my cap.)  In his case, it was "write a book".  He handed me a copy, right off of the aforementioned stack, to read in advance of it's official launch date - 26 June 2012.
Let me introduce you to a brilliant doctor turned author, Dr. Kevin Jones.  Kevin is a orthopaedic surgeon and researcher at the Hunstman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, UT and a mighty fine musician, I might add.  Following an undergraduate degree in English Literature at Harvard University and medical school at Johns Hopkins, he pursued orthopaedic surgical residency at the University of Iowa then fellowship training in musculoskeletal oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital and the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.

And his book?  Well, I plowed through it.  And now I'm here to shout it from the rooftops!  If you've ever visited a doctor, if you've ever worried about needing a second opinion, if you've ever headed to the internet or library to dig a little deeper into a diagnosis, if you've ever struggled with a medical decision, or if you just want a deeper, better educated view of your personal health but have no idea how to get meaningful conversations with your physician started... then you NEED to read this book!  Read more about it at www.doctorscannottellyou.com.

Or better yet, buy a copy for yourself.  What Doctors Cannot Tell You is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition, Barnes & Noble in paperback and Nook book, and from Kevin's garage.  :)

REVIEW PROS: Following each chapter of the book, you'll find 67 questions that patients should be asking their doctors at different stages of treatment in order to become as knowledgeable as possible about their own health.

REVIEW CONS: Your initial thought might be that your doctor is withholding information from you.  Ever thought that maybe your doctor cannot tell you more because you're not asking the right questions?  Put those conversation-starting questions to work for you!  Yep, the ball's in your court.


09 June 2012

I Need More... Hacking [IKEA Overlays]

First of all, do you say 'dresser' or 'chest of drawers'?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way...

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Have you seen these?  Brilliant is all I can say.  They are called O'verlays (www.myoverlays.com) and two friends envisioned potential in inexpensive fretwork panels designed to give basic IKEA chests of drawers a stunning custom look.  And through their custom department, it doesn't stop there!  You can "O'verlay" just about anything.  (end tables, windows, etc.)  Take a look at their blog.  Brilliant!

The O'verlays are made of a lightweight composite material that allows greater flexibility and less splintering (thank you for thinking of that, ladies) and come in multiple sizes and patterns.  They are also paintable.  Brilliant!

I am ridiculously excited about ordering some of these babies because just last month we purchased two IKEA Malm dressers.  We chose them for their price (affordable) but I hesitated at the register because they seemed almost too simple (blah).  Don't get me wrong.  I love simple and clean.  But dressers are such focal pieces in a bedroom that I wanted to make a statement with mine.  Thank you, O'verlays, mission accomplished!  (Well, once I order and install them.)  Brilliant!  (I told you that was all I could say.  One more time... brilliant!)

05 June 2012

I Need More... Pinterest

Actually, I probably don't need more Pinterest.  I spend way too much time on that site as it stands.  But it's such a fabulous place to search for inspiration that it certainly deserves mentioning here.  

But I have a pet peeve when it comes to this wonder of the web... THAT PEOPLE DON'T SITE THEIR SOURCES.  Yes, I just yelled that.  And yes, sometimes, a photo will serve to remind me of the perfect, secluded Balinese bungalow perched in the ocean that I'd someday love to visit, but what about the clever crafts that need bit more explanation than just one photo or the to-die-for stilettos that I want to drop the cash on but haven't a clue who sells them (or what their brand is, for that matter).  Grrr...

So, I'd like to re-post section three from the official "Pin Etiquette" from the Pinterest website.  Please to enjoy...  (and then I'll shut up)

3. Credit Your Sources
Pins are the most useful when they have links back to the original source.  If you notice that a pin is not sourced correctly, leave a comment so the original pinner can update the source. Finding the original source is always preferable to a secondary source such as Image Search or a blog entry.

01 June 2012

I Need More... Reasons to Celebrate [National Donut Day!]

I am not ashamed that I LOVE DONUTS (or doughnuts, whatever).  And that makes today a day to celebrate!  Did you know that way back in 1938, the Salvation Army set aside the first Friday of June to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I?  Lucky for us, historians record noteworthy events like this so that we, in 2012, can forget our silly diets for a day and cram our faces with deep-fried glazed goodness.  I may have gotten a little overexcited with that last sentence there...  No matter.  How will you celebrate National Donut Day?

In honor of this momentous day, I give you a darling (April Fool's Day) craft idea - Donut Seeds.

16 February 2012

I Need More... Clothing [Skinny Jeans for All!]

So, we are just a few months away from welcoming our second little bundle of joy into the family (a boy this time - and unless I can ruffle everything he wears, sewing for him is going to be a BIG metal shift from his big sister's wardrobe...).  With a good five years between the pregnancies, I am finding that - no real surprise here - styles have changed!  [gasp]  "Boysley", as my daughter calls her new little brother, is going to be our last kiddo and I just couldn't bring myself to spend a fortune on maternity clothing that will only see the light of day for a few months.  Time to get creative.  Time to turn bootcut jeans into skinny jeans.  And it couldn't be easier, folks.  I actually did this technique back when I wasn't expecting, too.
 1. Find your bootcut jeans (to be skinny-ified) and a pair of already skinny jeans that you like the fit of.

 2. Turn your bootcut jeans inside-out and un-pick the inseam hem and about two inches into the hem on either side of the side seam (giving you a little room to unfold the hem and work more easily).

 3. Lay your existing skinny jeans on top of the now inside-out bootcut jeans and measure the difference in fabric.  Remember, you are working with the INSIDE seam of the pants here.  If you take a look at the seam on the outside of your leg, you'll notice that it is much more complicated, what with topstitching, etc.  Let's stick with the easy-to-hide-any-mistakes area of the inside seam, shall we?

 4. With a Mark-B-Gone or disappearing ink pen, mark your sewing line.  Using my existing skinny jeans as a guide, I add about an inch to an inch and a half to the skinny jeans which should leave plenty of seam allowance.  I would suggest that you try on your bootleg jeans before cutting to see where a natural spot would be to start tapering your pant leg.  For me, I started my tapering about 19 inches up the pant leg.

 5. Serge or sew along your marked sewing line.  Trim your new seam and discard any excess fabric to remove any unnecessary bulk.  These are skinny jeans not bulky, right?

 6. Flip those jeans right-side-out and try them on.  How does the taper look?  Does it look natural or like you're wearing riding pants at the pony show?  This is your chance to adjust.

After you are happy with the new seams, flip back to the inside and, with heavy-duty denim thread, stitch just inside your tapering seam.  This will not only reinforce the seam, but should your seam pull a little - as seams do - from the outside, all you will see is a hint the denim thread that matches all of the other thread on your jeans.  No one will know that you've been doctoring your pants!

 7.  Refold and iron into place the hem.  With heavy duty denim thread, re-sew the length of hem that you unpicked at the start of the project.

8. Flip to the right-side and give the new seams a quick press with the iron (maybe even a spin in the washing machine).  You did it!  Bootcut jeans to skinny in a snap.  Nice work, pal.  Wear them with pride and pray that the trend toward bootcut and flare jeans stays at bay just a little bit longer.

02 January 2012

I Need More... Ice Cream [The Most Memorable Place Mats]

Oh man, I love food.  And some of my best memories are thanks to the special places that serve me great food.  One of those places is in my hometown, Hanford, CA.  It's a little ice cream shop called Superior Dairy, opened in 1929.  
I am proud to say that I was raised on the best ice cream ever made!  Rocky Road (I painted my current dining room in the exact brown of this flavor), Chocolate Chip (the best for milkshakes), and during the summer months (oh yes, I wait for it) Fresh Peach.  
Now that I'm all grown up and living two states away from Superior Dairy, I miss it terribly.  But on my last visit as I gorged myself on Strawberry (sent from heaven, I swear), I took home a few paper menus with a very simple craft in mind.  Place mats!  If I can't live near Superior, I'll at least pretend.  Do you have a favorite eatery like me?  Grab some menus and grab the laminator.  Life's too short not to make meals memorable!