Saturday, March 30, 2013

Simple Table Runner Tutorial

So the big family Easter is at the Wasson house this weekend, which means we will have 18 people in house on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the risen Christ with lots of food.  In honor of the occasion, Mom wanted new table runners.  Rather than spending a small fortune (because she needs three since our family cannot be accommodated at our dining room table alone), I decide to whip them up for her with my mad sewing skillz. For anyone who is in the same boat, I am giving you the directions on how to do the same thing.

Materials Needed: 

Heavy weight fusible interfacing (I used Pellon.  I used about 4.5 yards for my projects)

Note:  I made three runners of three different sizes.  1- 14.5" x 72"  1-14.5" x 60" and 1-24" x 24"  (it's a square but we'll call it a runner anyway).  For these three, I purchases 3.5 yards of fabric A  and 2.75 yards of fabric B.  I had a lot of scraps left over to make other things.  Unless you want a seam in the middle of your runner, purchase a length of fabric that is slightly longer than your finished length.  I.E.  If you want a 60" runner, go ahead and purchase 2 yards of fabric.  Between squaring the edges and seam allowances, you'll need the few extra inches.

Step One

Pre-wash, press, and square your fabric.  DO NOT SKIP THE PRE-WASHING.  This is going on your table.  During a meal.  If your family is anything like mine, there will be food splotches on the runner, even if you are serving PB&J for Easter.  You'll want to be able to wash your runner without it shrinking.  Prewash and you won't have to worry about your runner suddenly becoming a different shape in the wash.  

Most fabrics will come out of the drier crumpled, wrinkly, and possibly smaller than when they went in.  You will need to press the fabric, even if it looks okay.  Just take the time and do it right.  I am the queen of skipped steps and usually live to regret it.  Learn from my errors.  

You will also want to square up the ends of your fabric, as I doubt that it was cut absolutely perfectly in the store.  If you don't know how to do that, I recommend THIS tutorial for detailed instructions.  

Step Two

Cut your fabric and interfacing to the dimensions you want, plus seam allowances.  So for my big runner, I wanted to finished dimensions to be 15.5 x 72.  I used a generous .5" seam allowance on all sides so I cut my fabric to 16.5" x 73".  

Hint:  I did not want my edges and corners to be bulky.  In order to de-bulk the edges and corners, I made some adjustments in how I cut the interfacing.  I cut the interfacing to 16" x 72.5", giving myself an extra 1/4 inch all the way around on the fabric.  I also notched my corners on my interfacing so there would be less bulk when all is said and done.

See that notch in the corner?  Yeah, that's what you want.  

Step Three

Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of top fabric.  Interfacing comes with fusing instructions but I'll outline the basics for you here.  I greatly prefer fusible to sewn in because it is easier to use.  Press and go.  I like that.  

Lay fabric wrong-side up on ironing board

Lay interfacing dot side down over top of fabric, lining it up. Notice that my interfacing is slightly smaller.  This will de-bulk my side seams.   

Look at it all nice and lined up and stuff.  

Press firmly with the iron, using steam.  This will melt those little dots and fuse it to your fabric.  Fuse all the way down, making sure the edges aren't peeling up.  

Step Four (optional)

Realize you forgot to prewash your contrasting fabric.  Throw that in washer and decide you've had enough sewing for one evening.  Watch HGTV until brain melts.  Sleep and wake up ready to sew--well, after a few cups of coffee, of course.  Consider getting dressed.  Decide that your sewing machine doesn't care if you are in your pajamas.  Get back to work.  

Step Five

Make yourself a sandwich--a fabric sandwich, that is.  Line up your fabrics with the right sides together.  My sandwich was like this:  Interfacing/Fabric A with pattern up, Fabric B.  Pin fabric together.

I usually mark where the opening will be by positioning my pins like so.  I know it's hard to see in the image (sorry!) but two pins are placed parallel to the edge of the fabric where the opening will be.  

Step Six

Stitch the perimeter using half inch seam allowances, leaving a gap to turn right side out.  If you have far more patience than me, you can hand sew but I used my machine.  Before turning the fabric right side out, I do one more step to help make my corners sharp.

Sorry for the blurry but you can kind of see that instead of 45ing my corners off, I clipped them very close to the stitching and tapered them off toward the edge.  

Step Seven

Turn whole thing right side out.  It will look rather silly but you aren't done yet so don't fret!  

See?  What did I just say?  Very silly indeed.  

Step Eight

Press the bejeezuz out of that thing.  I start by sticking my arm all up in that thing and pushing out all of the corners.  I will often use a sharp stick to poke them out, if that makes sense.  Then press the living daylights out of it so it lays nice a flat with straight sides.  

That almost looks like something I would put on my table now.  

Step Nine 

Top stitch around the edges.  I used one of the decorative stitch options on my machine.  This step is technically optional but it will make it look nicer and come out better in the wash.  I wish I had pictures of this step but alas, they were all way out of focus.  

This is the point in my runner making where I decided it might be time to put on pants since it was past noon and I was going to take pictures in our dining room that has lots of windows and other reflective surfaces.  Ah well.  I suppose we all have to put on our big girl clothes at some point.  

And there you have it folks.  So quick and easy you could whip it up today for tomorrow's Easter dinner.  Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's Possible... Anything's Possible

Happy Friday blog-o-sphere!  And happy weekend eve to anyone who is actually reading this!

It is an exciting day for me.  Opening night for Seussical Jr. was last night.  This means several things for my life:

1.  I will no longer be at school until 5:30 most evenings (YES!!!!)
2.  When home, I will no longer be surgically attached to the glue gun and my sewing machine.  (My finger tips are thankful)
3.  I will actually be home to do more than just sleep.  I haven't had a sit down dinner with the family in a week but that won't change because...

...I'm missing almost all of the shows because I'm going to Lancaster with my mom and aunts.  We're going to see Sight and Sound.  We planned this trip long before I knew I would be teaching music for three and a half months and jumping into the production feet first.  Ah well.  The title of this post, for those of you who do not know Seussical, is a line from one of the songs.  A coworker and myself both got in the habit of saying "Anything's possible" after someone says "it's possible."

The musician side of me (hence songbird, in case you were wondering) has been active as well.  Vocal coaching for the musical, singing with the Southern Delaware Choral Society, singing with the church choir, playing handbells for church, and last but not least, playing my lovely French Horn in a community band.  I do love my music.  And I might have some voice students soon.  Now, if only I could find *myself* a voice teacher again.

I will have to catch up with the digital more later.  It is almost time to depart on my glorious vacation.  Love, peace, and chicken grease (I spend too much time with middle schoolers...)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Stressed Caitlin goes shopping

So people respond to stress by doing a variety of different of things, some of which are productive and some of which are destructive.  Me?  I wind up driving my own self crazy(er.  crazier.  I am already nuts) because I will inevitably distract myself by doing something else.  Like, I don't know, start sewing my Easter dress when I need to be making costumes.  (Eagle wings are the BANE of my existence.  Don't ask).  I also tend to respond by whining about about everything that's going on.  (Read:  my job.)

I really feel like a stereotypical old lady most days.  I belong on a porch in a rocking chair with granny glasses and a cane to wave at the smiling children passing by.  THEY HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG, DAG NAB IT!!!  GET OFF MY LAWN!!!  I can often be found shaking my head and saying "kids these days..."  I am a twenty-three-year-old grumpy old lady.  Maybe I should dye by hair retirement home gray?

All right, end rant.

So to wash away the stress of the pass week, I took a nice hot bath with a beverage and a romance novel.  The stress drips off into the water.  What else will I be doing?  trying to get things done.  And possibly having my hair cut.  Whatever.  Better than my old habit of baking every time I feel the pinch.  Seriously.  When I was in Oxford, this was my process.  "I have a huge essay due in less than 24 hours.  I have a huge pile of notes to compile into said 8 page paper...  I think I need to make a cheesecake to go with dinner tonight."  All of the walking is the only reason I did not become enormously fat while in Oxford.

So there you go.  You should maybe not live by my example.

Monday, March 11, 2013

To be responsible or not to be responsible, that is the question

So like a good citizen, I did my taxes this weekend.  It was not my easiest tax prep year as I worked in two states but thankfully I am so poor that I am eligible for free turbotax.  Very very poor, with the whole only working part time from January to May and then almost four months of unemployment.  Substitute teaching also doesn't pay super-duper well.  So I have about $500 coming down the pipeline from the federal and state governments.

Now, a financially responsible adult would have all of that money put directly into his or her savings account. Which I should probably do.  But I don't think that is the route I'm going.  I have plans, big plans... mwahahaha!

So, where do I plan on my tax refund going?

1.  Blog Design

By this guy:  Hubby Jack who is also pretty darn funny.  Go read his blog.  Anyway, I'm paying him to design me a blog that doesn't look like I threw it together in 15 minutes and slapped it up on my blog, using trial and error with the templates.  *ahem*  That may or may not have been what I did with this design which I have a love/hate relationship with.  

2.  A New Camera

So my digital camera has fallen off the planet.  Seriously.  I have no idea where in the world it went.  A real blogger would probably blow all of my tax refund on a DSLR.  I am not that girl though.  I do not want to be THAT person on vacation with the 20 pound camera strapped around her neck, fiddling with the zoom and focus before every image shot.  No thank you.  But I want something better than a regular point and shoot so I think I want this baby:  GE X50 package

Well it LOOKS fancy...
It comes with a case and a memory card.  Not a particularly exciting brand but I think it will work.  

3. My Ruffler Foot Package

This is where you all (all none of you) realize that I am a weird seamstress lady who drools over sewing paraphernalia.  I've wanted THIS set of sewing machine feet.  Look at that sexy ruffler foot, and oh yeah!  that is one gorgeous welting foot.  Just imagine the piping I will make with that baby.   

They're practically calling my name!
So if there is someone who was actually adding up the price tags, they could tell you that it equals about half of my return.  So where is the rest going?  The savings account of course!  We have to be responsible sometimes...  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Disney Days 5 and 6

All right, so I did not blog on days 5 and 6 because I got the sunburn of 2013.  I say first because I am about as pale as a bottle of skim milk.  Seriously.  On day 5, it was finally warm enough to bare my arms and legs.  When I stepped out in the sun, I swear the glow from my bare calves nearly blinded me.  I definitely needed my shades.

Me, my Mom, and my enormous sunglasses that guarded me from the glare off of my own pasty white skin.  
That being said, let me tell you about our last two full days in Disney (boo!  I didn't want to leave).  Now, in case the 0 people who read this blog want to know, the reason I have been listing off what I wore on each day is for two reasons:  1. to know which day of the week our pictures came from (because I will forget) and 2. to see what I actually wore of the big pile of clothes that I packed.  No, seriously.  I didn't wear the majority of the clothing I brought, mostly due to the weather.  So...

Sunny and 78
Parks Visited:  Epcot and Downtown Disney
What I wore:
-brown tank
-yellow sundress
-brown sandals
-brown cardi

So mom and I headed out to finish up Epcot before shopping and having dinner at the House of Blues.  We wanted to ride the newly redesigned Test Track.  The design process of the ride was broken down but honestly, we didn't care.  we wanted to ride a fast car around the track.  It was a lot of fun but honestly?  I think I liked the older version better.

After that, we took one of the boats to Italy in the world showcase section of Epcot.  We went shopping in the countries we had not hit up previously.  I found a ton of stuff that I liked but not a lot that I wanted to part with my hard earned cash for.  In "Japan" I found several purses I LOVED but they were so expensive. So I took pictures of them so I can duplicate the pattern.  Benefits of being a seamstress.  After shopping, we headed back to the hotel to drop off our things and then caught a boat from our hotel to downtown disney.  We enjoyed sundaes at Ghiradelli before shopping til we dropped into our seats at House of Blues, completely pooped out.

Sunny and 65
Parks visited:  Magic Kingdom
What I wore:
-khaki polka dot jeans
-snow white tee shirt
-EU sweat shirt
-slip on sneakers

Our last day.  Boo.  So we spent our last day at Disney in the Magic Kingdom.  I have read that most people go to the Magic Kingdom and go right, toward Tomorrowland and then on to Fanstasyland, going through the park counter clockwise.  So we took the opposite track.  I don't know if that's what did it or if we just beat the crowds but the entire time, we didn't wait for more than 20 minutes at an attraction.  Which is significant for anyone familiar with Disney world.

We took the jungle cruise with our cutie of a captain, then headed out on Pirates of the Caribbean.  We followed that up with a spin on Big Thunder Mountain, and a chaser of a river boat cruise on the the Liberty Belle.  Awesome.

I was DYING to see new fantasy land.  We rode 'It's a small world' before making our way over to all of my princess dreams.  Sadly, we did not get to eat at "Be Our Guest" because the line was out the door.  Not worth it.  We'll just have to go back.  Gaston's Tavern was a bust in terms of foods we wanted to eat.  We did go on "Journey of the Little Mermaid" which was a good ride, but there were OBNOXIOUS people in front of us in line.  They took pictures of absolutely everything, including on the ride itself.  We could hardly see for flashbulbs.  I wonder how many memory cards they brought on the trip because they must have taken 300 pictures on one ride.  Oi.  That aside, I enjoyed the ride.

They are still in the process of building a new roller coaster, themed after the seven dwarve's mine train.  I cannot wait.  I mean, it's combing princesses and roller coasters, both things that I absolutely adore.  It also is an excuse to return.  Better start pinching those pennies...

So we headed off from there to Tomorrowland, where we had a snack before going to the Monsters Inc laugh floor which was really cute.  Next, we went to Space Mountain.  We were going to get fast passes for an hour away, but then this guy offered us his for right then and there because they didn't need them!  So on we went, though we were a little delayed due to some kind of break down (we think someone dropped something).  Onto the rollercoaster.

Now, one thing (well, two things) I determined that I wanted that I didn't purchase when I first saw them was this pair of scarves, one with Cinderella and the other with my homegirl Belle.  So we went to track them down in Magic Kingdom and caught a parade on our way to shopping.  Scarves in hand, we headed back to our hotel to pack and prep for our dinner at our neighbor hotel.  And then I was sad because it meant we were leaving.  that vacation was not nearly long enough!  So there you have it.  I think I'll spare you all (well, you no one, actually...) the details of air travel and shuttle service from Baltimore to Salisbury.

So there you have it.  I'm going to craft this weekend so hopefully I'll actually take pictures to write up a tutorial.  I'm so bad about doing that because I get so into what I'm working on.  We'll see.  Have a good weekend people and do yourself a favor and feed your soul by going to church on Sunday.  I'll talk more about my good Christian girl side some other time.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Disney Day 4

Park(s) visited:  Animal Kingdom
Weather:  mostly sunny, 67 degrees

What I wore:
-polka dot jeans
-low back navy striped tee shirt
-brown cardigan

Today was a great day.  I kicked it off with a nice long walk around the resort before breakfast.  Mom and I then got breakfast before heading off to Animal Kingdom for the day.  Mom decided to not rent an ECV today which worked out well.  The walkways in Animal Kingdom are not quite as wide and it's a little harder to navigate through all of the trees.

Animal Kingdom is less intense when it comes to rides.  There are a number of great shows though.  The Lion King show is AMAZING with live performers and dancing and the Finding Nemo: the Musical is not to be missed.  As a musician/performer, I noticed that all of the music was sung live, as opposed to singing over background tracks like a lot of the shows we've seen.

We also went on the safari ride where we saw a lot of different animals.  It was great.  My favorite ride of the day was definitely Expedition Everest, which we rode twice because the lines weren't terribly long.  It's a really thrilling ride.  We had dinner at the Yak and Yeti and then headed back for an early evening.  A wonderful day.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Disney Day 3

Park(s) visited:  Hollywood Studios
Weather:  mostly sunny, 60 degrees

What I wore:
-bootcut jeans
-pink heart tee shirt
-polka dot cardigan
-slip on sneakers
-fleece jacket

The nice thing about today's weather is that it was not windy so even though it was technically colder, it felt nicer outside.  We ate breakfast in the dining hall and then headed off to the park.  I wanted to audition for the American Idol Experience, whih I did and then was very nicely rejected.  Mom was more disappointed than I was.  Honestly, I didn't do very well so I wasn't worried.  We headed out to explore the park.

There is a lot to see and do in Hollywood Studios.  While there are less rides, there are more shows and more opportunities to meet and see the characters.  The best rides, in my humble opinion, are the Rockin' Rollercoaster and The Tower of Terror.  So much detail has gone into crafting the entire park and these rides are no exception.

We stopped at a little bakery/cafe close to the magic hat for coffee and wound up splitting a huge and delicious cupcake.  It was a diabetic's nightmare/sugar addicts dream.  The icing was delicious but I seriously couldn't eat all of the buttercream.  We also saw both Beauty and the Beast and Voyage of Little Mermaid, shortened versions of the original stories.

One of the best things that we did was book ourselves for the Fantasmic dinner package.  Basically, if you book in advance, you can eat an early dinner and select restaurants and then get VIP seating for Fantasmic!  We had dinner at the Hollywood and Vine, which is buffet style with a large selection and huge dessert buffet.  The actual show comes after dusk and is one of the most spectacular things disney has to offer.  they combine so many amazing things.

We caught the resort us back and have collapsed into our beds to gear up for tomorrow's day at Animal Kingdom!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Disney Day 2

Park(s) visited:  Epcot
Weather:  mostly sunny, 60 degrees

What I wore:

-bootcut jeans
-long sleeve polka dot tee shirt
-slip on sneakers

FYI, if you manage to snag a deal with free dining, DO IT.  Seriously, it's wonderful.  We've been using it as an excuse to try places we had never gone before and it's fantastic.  Would I pay for it out of pocket?  Probably not but it's fantastic to have and makes life easier.

We went to EPCOT today after arising early.  I took a walk around our hotel which is lovely.  Very lovely.  Then breakfast and then off to the park.  Admittedly, it took some time to catch the bus but that is the price you pay to not have to worry about renting/parking a car.  Once at the park, there was a pretty severe bottle neck at security and then we were off to the races.  Mom rented an ECV (a scooter, basically) to help with her mobility.  Between cancer and chemo, she has sever neuropathy in her feet which makes walking all day difficult. The only downside to the ECV is how blissfully unaware people are that they should be cautious.  In a quest to not run of a stroller that had stopped in the middle of the HANDICAPPED LANE OF THE RAMP, mom ran over my foot.  It hurt but it's not like a car ran over it.

As it is a Saturday, the lines were predictably long and the wind made the 60 degree weather feel practically frigid but we had fun nonetheless.  We had dinner in Morocco, one of the advantages of our dining plan.  WHile I would love to tell you all more, between the long day and the margarita I had at the jazz club, I can hardly keep my eyes open.  Toodle oo!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Disney Day 1

Park(s) visited:  Magic Kingdom
Weather:  mostly sunny, 64 degrees

What I wore:
-khaki polka dot jeans
-doctor whooves tee shirt
-polka dot cardigan
-lavender fleece jacket
-slip on sneakers

Today started at 5am when I got up and took a shower.  By six fifteen, mom and I were out the door and on our way down to Salisbury to catch Bayrunner shuttle to BWI.  It was an uneventful trip down and then over to Baltimore which is a blessing.  I don't fancy navigating those parking lots.  We checked our bag, made it through security with nary a hitch and then we waited.  Taking the shuttle got us to the air port in PLENTY of time.  I had a very overpriced burger for lunch.  It was good but I still cannot believe I paid $15 for a burger, fries, and a soda.  Ridiculous and I wasn't even in Florida yet.  Our flight was very slightly delayed and lasted a little longer than originally quoted because of a strong headwind.  Oh well.

One of the advantages of taking Disney's Magical Express is that they handle your checked luggage.  Upon disembarking the plane, we skipped baggage claim and proceeded to get in line for the bus which showed up all of two minutes later.  Now that was nice.  Mom and I are staying at the Port Orleans:  French Quarter in the downtown disney area.  It is gorgeous.  Our room is in what is possibly the best location ever.  We are on the first floor in the building adjacent to the main building with the restaurants, arcade, etc. and very near the pool complex.  Score!  Check in also went very quickly because we took advantage of the online check in process so everything was ready when we got there.

We were prepared to head off to the Magic Kingdom without waiting for our checked bag but just as we were done unpacking our carry-on luggage, we heard a knock and there it was, not five minutes after we got to the room.  We quickly unpacked and then headed to the food court for coffee and beingets before hopping on the bus to the magic kingdom.

we took the train around the park to get a view of things before hopping off in Frontier land to go to Liberty Square, where we went to the Haunted Mansion before our 6:50 dinner reservations at the Tavern.  The food was good but I am glad we have the dining plan because whew wee was it pricey.  We finished dinner in just enough time to catch the fireworks before heading back to our hotel.  Maybe a slow start but hey, we gotta start some where.