Can’t believe Christmas is right around the corner! Here’s a few things to make for the holidays!
I love this method to making stockings! How clever!
What a quick and easy project. All you have do is be able to sew a straight line.
With an embroidery machine, you can personalize it~
These socks are simple to sew. I’ve made dozens over the years.
Need a gift for your favorite Shutterbug? How about this neat Patchwork Camera Strap?
Love this easy Laptop Sleeve tutorial! I really need to make one of these for Marielle.
Hope everyone is doing well!
I’ve just got to share another awesome recipe from my buddy, Diana…the sweetest eggplant you’ll ever eat!
Let’s get started…
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Peel Eggplant. Slice Eggplant lengthwise.
Add Milk to Eggs. Set aside Egg mixture.
Mix 1 handful of grated cheese, a few handfuls of bread crumbs, salt and pepper together.
Dip Eggplant in Egg mixture.
NOW PAY ATTENTION.
POUND Eggplant while covering both sides in Bread Crumb mixture. This rids Eggplant of bitterness.
Fry Eggplant in Vegetable Oil.
Place finished Eggplant on dish covered with paper towels between each layer (to absorb excess olive oil).
Now layer everything in a disposable aluminum tray (less clean-up!). Layer starting from the bottom (of course):
Now put it in the oven for 30 minutes or until top layer of mozzarella is completely melted.
Remove from oven and let sit on counter at least 3 hours. This helps it all firm up. Otherwise it’s too gooey.
Note: Tomato Sauce Recipe can be found HERE.
Choosing the Right Ingredients
When selecting Eggplant, choose large firm ripe ones. Use regular Eggplant, not Italian Eggplant.
Don’t skimp on cheese. Use Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheese. People are serious about the types of cheeses we use here in NYC. There’s no excuse…just order it online either here or here. It has a brown rind with the Locatelli name on it. Buy it ungrated if not purchased locally and grate it yourself.
Hopefully, you have access to Fresh Mozzarella at your local Italian specialty store or grocer. You can cut slices of it or shred it. I prefer it shredded as it melts quicker. If you’re lucky, you can buy it already shredded locally. If not, you can buy it on the Internet. If you can’t you can use Polly-O Whole Milk Mozzarella (about 2 16 ounces packages) and shred it yourself.
I’ve tasted so many different meatballs growing up here in NYC. Some are too spicy while others are made with too much bread and/or breadcrumbs.
My friend, Diana (aka Diana Bagels), spent an afternoon teaching me how to make the best meatballs I’ve ever tasted. And how could I not share the recipe with all my friends?
So let’s get started…
In a big mixing bowl, soak white bread in milk to moisten.
Add all other ingredients.
Mix well with hands. Oh, the gooey mess…LOL!
Form big meatballs. If you make the meatballs too small, they will fall apart in your sauce.
In a skillet, fry all sides of meatballs in Olive Oil over a medium flame.
Add 1/2 of them to the Italian Tomato Sauce recipe here. We eat the other 1/2 of the meatballs while we’re cooking the sauce!
* Making fresh Bread Crumbs is easy peasy. Just take day old Semolina Italian bread and put it in the food processor or blender until it’s fine.
First let me say, I’m an Irish gal married to an Italian guy. My mother never taught me how to make tomato sauce, so I’ve had to learn from different strangers and friends over the years.
There are a million ways to make Italian Tomato Sauce. I’ve tried so many different recipes. Things changed when I tasted my friend, Diana’s (Diana Bagels) sauce. It was by far the best one I’ve ever had and think you will agree. I’ve changed the recipe slightly to make it my own.
Now, before we get started, let’s talk about ingredients. If you want great sauce, you need to use top-quality ingredients. Everything needs to be fresh. Let’s face it, canned chopped garlic isn’t the same as fresh garlic. Same goes for basil.
Don’t be using Hunt’s or another cheap tomato puree. Go for the good stuff. If your local supermarket doesn’t have Tuttorusso, order it online, or substitute Progresso or another quality brand.
Now I realize Amore™ Italian Tomato Paste costs about $2.99 a tube. However, you only need 1/2 a tube and can refrigerate the other half. Figure a regular can of tomato paste costs $1.29, but you can’t save the other half and end up throwing it in the trash. Plus, the Amore is easily squeezed out of the tube. No more tiny cans!
Another important ingredient is your grated cheese. Here in NYC, we only use Locatelli™ Pecorino Romano Cheese. We don’t even call it Romano cheese. We just ask for Locatelli as if it’s the ONLY Romano cheese…LOL! If you can’t find it locally, order it online. It’s worth it!
And finally, let’s discuss meat. This sauce is delicious because of the high-quality meats that are cooked for hours in the sauce. It’s what gives it such a great taste. Don’t settle for supermarket pre-cut meats. Instead, go to a real butcher and splurge.
If you want, you can make your own braciole or get it already prepared from your local butcher.
Now let’s get started…
* Meatball recipe is HERE.
In a 8 quart stock pot, add enough Olive Oil to lightly coat bottom of pan.
Add fresh Garlic and Onion. Heat over a high flame until soft.
Add a splash or two of Red Wine. Lower flame on stove to medium.
Add Tomato Puree. Rinse 1 Puree can with a 1/2 can of Water to remove excess Puree from can. Poor into next Puree can and so on until the 6th can is full. Now add remaining Puree/Water mixture to stock pot. By doing this you get all the tomato puree and waste none.
Add Grated Cheese.
Add Sugar, Salt, Pepper, Basil, Oregano and Tomato Paste.
Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a low to medium flame.
Add lots of Fried Meat including meatballs, Italian sweet and hot sausage, braciole and steak.
Do not cover.
Cook for at least 3 hours stirring every 20 minutes to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the stock pot. Depending on how thick you want your tomato sauce, you can cook it for up to 5 hours.
Now that you’ve made fantastic tomato sauce, why not make some Eggplant Parmigiana? The recipe is HERE!
EDITED: WE HAVE A WINNER
True Random Number Generator Result: #19
Erica is the winner of the Silk Spider Web Rose Kit. Please email me at email@example.com with your full name and mailing address!
I’ve made dozens of tiny silk ribbon spider web roses, but I needed something BIG for the front of a Christening gown. And they say, bigger IS better, so I made these simple roses and thought you, too, would like to make them. As an incentive to get you to try this easy tutorial, I’m giving away a kit with all the supplies you need to make these roses yourself.
Ok…so let’s get started!
First let me say, you can make your silk rose as big or small as you want. It all depends on:
I made a quick video tutorial to help. Written instructions can be found below.
Laying the Foundation
Hoop some background fabric in your embroidery hoop.
Now decide how big you want your rose to be. Take any circular item such as a can, cup or small container. Trace it onto the hooped fabric using a pencil or disappearing ink pen. Mark 5 points in the shape of an upside-down star and your center point like this:
Thread your needle with matching thread. Come up at point A. Go down at point B. Come up at the center point (pictured below)catching the A-B thread:
Go down at point C creating a fly stitch:
Now come up at point D and down at the center point. Then come up at point E and down and the center point. Now tie a knot on the underside (don’t cut the thread off just yet). You’ll now have 5 spokes.
Creating the Rose
To make a fabric strip, cut into the selvage edge of the fabric and tear it to the other selvage edge. You want frayed fabric strips…adds more character…LOL. Take your fabric strip and secure one short end to the center of the star using the needle and thread. Leave your needle and thread on the underside of the hoop. You’ll need it at the end to secure your rose to the foundation fabric.
Now attach a safety pin to the other side of your fabric strip. This will enable you to easily thread the fabric strip through your spokes.
Start weaving your fabric strip over and under the spokes in a circular motion. Keep twisting your fabric strip as you create the rose.
Once you have covered all of your spokes, complete the rose by tucking the end of the fabric strip under the rose and removing the safety pin.
Using the needle and thread that is attached to the underside of your hoop, secure the rose with a few stitches.
Cut out your finished rose making sure NOT to cut your foundation spokes. Sew it to a garment, glue it to a hair clip or use it to decorate a tote. The options are endless. You can even create these roses directly onto your items.
Now, don’t think you can only make these roses with silk fabric. Try quilter’s cotton, chiffon, organza, cotton knit, velvet, beaded satin, spandex or even tulle.
Various Uses for Silk Spider Web Roses
Silk Spider Web Rose Kit Giveaway
To win the supplies you’ll need to make these roses, post a comment and I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner on Friday!
I’d love to see the roses you make, so please post a link and share your pics!
With Easter just one short week away, I thought I’d share some Easter Basket sewing tutorials found around the web:
Speaking of Easter Baskets…I received an awesome Easter SWAP from Heather of Little E Designs!
OMG! I love the zebra basket!
Filled with all my favorite sweets…DOTS, Milk Duds, Yellow Bunnies PEEPS, caramel eggs and lots more!
Heather even made me an adorable bookmark! Thanks Heather!
Back to the Encyclopedia of ME…we’re up to letter I…
Besides all the sewing blogs listed on my sidebar, thought I’d suggest a few others. If you haven’t check out the new Sewing.org web site, I suggest you do!
After the Home Sewing Association (creators of sewing.org) closed their doors on December 31, 2007, we thought all was lost. But guess what? Sewing.org is now a part of the Sewing & Craft Alliance (SCA)! SCA provides education and creative resources to the sewing and craft enthusiast. You can visit their complete line-up of web sites at:
Be sure to sign-up for their monthly newsletter . (can’t get their link for the newsletter to work…sorry!) Happy Sewing!
Oh and don’t forget to check out my FREE CANDY GIVEAWAY!
Another successful Diva BBQ is behind us. But oh my–the clean-up is overwhelming.
It will literally take me WEEKS!
DIVA’S NYC CARAMEL APPLES
Lots of people have asked about my delicious caramel apples at the BBQ…so I’ll spill:
Next, tip your local produce guy a $20 bill at the supermarket and instruct him to hand select 100 big red delicious apples which MUST fit inside the provided apple bubble trays and stand straight (no lop-sided apples) or else…LOL.
Then go your friend’s Bagel Store (Diana has the BEST bagels in town). Tell her you are swamped with BBQ preparations. She’ll then ask you what she can do to help and it’s at that moment you hand over all the apples and supplies.
Next, have her employees wash and dry the apples. Then put the sticks in. Use their huge metal trays and line each tray with wax paper.
Since we didn’t have a electric candy apple stove or an awesome gas apple cooker, Diana (not to be confused with Diana from Louisiana) used a huge stock pot (much bigger than I have at home) filled with water. She then set the opened can of Midway’s Finest Caramel Apple Dip in the water to boil. Something tells me we should have used the Quick Serve Apple Dip. It took no less than 3 hours to melt each huge can of caramel..ugh! Lesson learned. There’s always next year.
Anyway, just dip the apple, swirl and set it on the wax paper. When the caramel apples firm up, just put them in the bubble trays. Let’s hope Diana is still my friend! Seriously, a HUGE thank you to my buddy!
Yesterday I was able to order a particular of a fabric I’m dying to use in my upcoming boys’ clothing line. I’d seen a preview of the fabric at TALA (LA Fabric Show), but didn’t think the first printing would be ready in time for my salesman’s samples. I wasn’t going to show you, but I just can’t help myself:
Not sure if I’ll incorporate this colorway, but I ordered it anyway:
Last month the fabric manufacturer showed it to me in these colorways, too. But they aren’t sure if they are going to get enough orders to go into production. Keep your fingers crossed:
Got lots done yesterday in the sewing room (Lady M™ and I are some team…LOL). Spend most of yesterday finishing up an order for 15 personalized tote bags for Kacey‘s new students.
In the world of garment manufacturing, G.O.A.T.S. (graphics on a t-shirt manufacturers) are at the bottom of the fashion feeding pool. Lots of people say they are “fashion designers” when all they are really doing is slapping some graphics or wording on a pre-made t-shirt.
When I set out to design my first season of boys’ clothing, it was important to me not to take any shortcuts on t-shirts. I
hate cheap t-shirts prefer a medium-weight cotton interlock over jersey knit. I feel interlock is more substantial and holds up nicely to repeated washings. Another reason I decided to create my t-shirts from scratch is fit. I wanted a comfortable fit and a rib knit neckline which laid around the neck nicely…not all wonky.
My patternmaker is in town, so we’re going to meet up in Manhattan tomorrow morning. It will be nice to put a name to a face.
Ok…I had better get back to work! Have a great day!
A PLACE TO CREATE
Nothing is more frustrating than having to drag out your sewing machine and supplies every time the creative bug strikes.
ROOM PLANNING SOFTWARE
Start with a plan by first accessing your needs. Sewing rooms are as individual as the sewers who use them. One who sews ladies’ garments will have different sewing needs than one who quilts or sews home decor.
Selecting the perfect color for your sewing room is a personal choice. I chose Pink accented with Black and White. I had originally planned on using Brown to accent the Pink, but decided against it as it is much easier to find Black and White items to coordinate.
Sewing Room Color Ideas
Whatever you do, don’t install carpeting if you can help it. Carpets hide pins, needles and other little sewing notions. Use flooring that is easy to care for such as concrete, hardwood, vinyl or tile.
Consider an anti-fatigue mat next to your cutting table:
There are dozens of ways to set up your sewing machines. I use an L-shaped desk and a sturdy folding table for sewing machines and sergers. Figure out what fits your budget and go from there.
Depending if you have one sewing machine or several, you could set your workstation up against one wall, in a U-shaped or L-shaped configuration. Here’s some sewing workstation ideas:
OMG…is this the ULTIMATE Craft Armoire:
Adjustable Height Folding Table adjusts from 22″ to 32″
My current cutting table is an old conference room table I acquired from my husband’s old office. It was a little too low, so I raised the table legs using adjustable bed risers (see below).
Minimum Width – 23 inches. Ideally, 36 inches would be sufficient as it equals the length of folded decorator fabric. However, 60 inches would be even better as you could spread most fabrics open.
Minimum Length – 36 inches (1 yard). 72 inches would be ideal for most. However, if you work with larger lengths of fabric, purchase the longest cutting table you can fit in your space. My new cutting table (pictured above) is 4 feet wide by 16 feet long–the big industrial type table I need to transition from home sewing into apparel manufacturing.
Minimum Height – 34 to 36 inches. Ideal height would be the at 2 to 4 inches below your waist. If you’re under 5′ 3″, you might be comfortable with a table height of 32 inches while if you’re closer to 6′ tall, a 38 inch height would be great. If you need to raise your cutting surface, use:
Adjustable bed risers which raise the cutting table 3.2 to 5.2 inches more or
Kathy of Pink Chalk Studio used PVC pipes to raise her folding table from 28 inches to 36 inches…how clever!
What about that big freezer chest? Surely it would make a great cutting table. You could add a sheet of plywood to the wall mounted with piano hinges…and add a latch hook to keep it from knocking you in the head when digging in the freezer. Or if you’re not that handy, you could just put a large cutting mat on top of it. LOL!
If you have a handyman around the house, enlist them to build a custom cutting table for you:
Here’s a bunch of iron board cover tutorials:
For lots of ideas on how to organize and store your supplies, check out:
Wall cabinets are available in several heights and widths. The height(s) you choose depends on your ceiling and whether your design includes a soffit. Wall cabinet widths range from 9″ to 48″ with adjustable shelving.
Standard base cabinets are 34-1/2″ high and 24″ deep, and range in width from 9″ to 48″, increasing in 3″ increments. Base cabinets are available with full-height drawers, door and drawer combinations or full stacks of drawers.
Tall cabinets are 84″, 90″ or 96″ high, range from 9″ to 36″ wide, are 12″ to 24″ deep and include a toe kick area. They’re available with doors or a door and drawer combination.
Prices vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, type, hardware and installation. Consider shopping home improvement stores for the best prices on cabinets and countertops.
Don’t skimp when it comes to your sewing room chair. Your back will thank you!
Lighting in a sewing room is one of those things which is constantly overlooked. Yet, it is one of the most important elements in designing a sewing room. Although there are several different types of lighting, the two most important types in a sewing room are:
Ambient Lighting, also known as General Lighting, provides overall illumination. This type of lighting is created by using recessed lighting in the ceiling, table lamps, chandeliers, track lights, and other ceiling fixtures. Ambient lighting radiates an even amount of light in the room. If you are using fluorescent bulbs in your overhead lighting, check out the “sunlight” replacement bulbs to give a more natural light.
Task Lighting directs light just where you need it. Desk lamps, ceiling pendant fixtures and track lighting are considered task lighting fixtures. Task lighting performs a specific activity. Consider an Ott Light in your sewing room for true color.
DESIGN WALLS AND INSPIRATION BOARDS
A Design Wall is a wall in your sewing room or work area with a felt, flannel, or similar fabric to which your quilt pieces will stick. Sometimes this will be permanent; other times it consists of this fabric tacked to the wall.
You can easily make a wall to plan your next quilt or garment. Here’s some great ideas:
If you don’t want to make your own, you could just buy one:
You can also make an Inspiration Board (aka Idea Board) like mine above. Simple use some spray adhesive to attach fabric to a cord board and use some decorative trim to cover the fabric’s raw edges. Here’s some other tutorials:
DRESSFORMS AND MANNEQUINS
Consider adding a dressform or mannequin to your sewing room. Not only can you use it to size garments, but it can be a decorative element for you to display your unique trims and lace.
Dressforms are available in canvas, wire, wicker and even paper mache.
THE LITTLE THINGS
It’s the little things that make your sewing space your own. Don’t be afraid to re-purpose household items and antiques to decorate your sewing room.
Bowls, baskets and other containers make great organizers and add your personal touch to your room.
Have fun with wall art, paintings and other items to hang on your walls. You could even use decoupage letters to spell SEW or CREATE. What about a huge pair of scissors? Check out these neat sewing room silhouettes. Or what about a vinyl zipper, a humorous saying, or some vinyl dressforms?
Be sure to shop flea markets for vintage items to complete your sewing room. The possibilities are ENDLESS!
REAL SEWING ROOMS
Now get moving! Although it’s a work in progress, you can create the sewing room of your dreams!