Thursday, March 29, 2012

What is Healthy??

So I think we've established that I read a lot of blogs. I also have a serious addiction to Pinterest. And you know what I've found? Another pet peeve. Some of you are not surprised.

But this one is at least a good one, you know, for the good of others. At least half of it.

Yes there are two parts.

The first part has to do with the language of something. I DETEST when people use the word "Healthy" to describe a meal. "This chicken salsa is so Healthy for you."

I know language changes, and maybe healthy has, but for me it hasn't. Think about the opposite of healthy. Sick (and not in a "that's sick man! You blew that out of the water. You're amazing" kind of American Idol way.). I mean pukey sick. So would you ever refer to the meal as sick (not disgusting, but as in not-well)? If food can't get sick, then food can't be healthy. The word you're ACTUALLY looking for is nutritious. And good nutrition keeps a person healthy (because a PERSON can get sick...).

Okay that's the first part.

Here's the second. It bugs me that in North America we don't know what constitutes a nutritious meal. I read so many recipes where the person will say "it's healthy (ahh!) for you. Well, except for the cheese." Cheese is not non-nutritious people! Milk, and butter, and sour cream does not make a recipe terrible for you. In fact, all the low-fat substitutes you're eating are so full of chemicals, they're doing your body way more harm than good.

But then there is the other side of it. People also seem to think that if a recipe has lettuce or any form of veggies it's automatically nutritious. Who cares that it's full of pre-produced packaged "food" or that the sodium or sugar levels are crazy? It has a cucumber so now it's guaranteed to be "healthy!" I notice this one on Pinterest the most. The tag will say "a really healthy meal" (which makes me think that they must be referring to the portion size because that's a really wrong statement...) and then when I click I realize there is grated carrot on top of a bunch of canned and boxed slop. Which, hey, I eat it too, but I don't kid myself that it's good for me.

So for the record:
-The more "from the natural source" your food is (think fresh, non-packaged) the more nutritious it is.
-The less processing it endures (this includes things like decaffeinating, and taking out some of the fat) the better it is for you.
-Milk fat does not equal fat on you. It's good fat. I know you heard for years that saturated fat (butter!) is bad for you. There has been new research and really, trans-fat (margarine) is bad for you. We have to change our thinking. Everything in moderation people. A spoonful of 14% sour cream isn't going to kill you. Sure, don't eat the whole 1 liter carton, but the spoonful is probably better for the than the processed spoonful of "alternative" you're eating.
-Fruits and veggies ARE good for you. In their most natural state. But adding one to a dish doesn't cancel out all other non-nutritious ingredients.

Does this bother anyone else?? Let's learn a bit more about our food, shall we?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another Dress...(Polky Nots Dress from Sew Easy Being Green)

Are you sick of me making dresses yet? I hope not because I still have a couple to show you and a few more I HAVE to make.

This is one of my favourites (I think I say that about all of them). But this one really is. I love this fabric, it just makes me smile. It's so fresh and happy. And this dress has shirring (my new favourite thing) and pockets.

I know. I might die. It's amazing.

I thought up this dress in my head. And then put off making it. Good thing because that afternoon the tutorial came up on my Google reader. I love when someone else has the same idea and does all the work.

Anyway, I followed the pattern and tutorial found here.

I think Mady feels awkward when I take her picture. So to try to get her to loosen up I told her to make silly faces. This is what I ended up with. Oh dear.

(I think she was going for cross eyed here)

Surely by now you think this dress is just as cute as I do. So now I think you should go whip one up!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dance Recital Day

On Saturday was Mady's last dance class of the year. This is the day when all the parents get to sit in on the class and watch the girls in action. Mady took the class with her cousin Claire and I must say, they're always fun to watch! They spent the entire class glued to each others side. I thought we had outgrown that since the first class, but it seems that not too much changes.

(opening name game  - Mady)
(opening name game - Claire. This girl knows how to ham it up for cameras!)
(Waiting to get started. Claire is totally excited. Mady nervously sucks her thumb.)
(Doing a ballerina walk. Together. Of course.)
(and finish with a pointy toe. Claire got distracted with all the cameras.)
(very excited to have matching scarves)
(they're supposed to be standing with their "heels kissing." Claire missed this...)
(I'm no ballet expert, but does Mady have good feet posture or what? We'll work on the shoulders next year!)
(Final song)
(and end with a pointy toe. Or your skirt over your head. There's one in every class.)
(So proud of their little certificates)
Thanks Miss Lindsey for a great year. Madelyn LOVED being in your classes!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Circle Neck Dress Tutorial

Ready for my first ever tutorial? Me too! I present: The Circle Neck Dress Tutorial. Or the Round Neck Dress Tutorial. Or the Donut Neck Dress Tutorial. I have no idea what to call this thing. Is there an official name for this type of collar/neck line?

Alright, so officially this dress is around size 4T-5, but I think 2-3T wouldn't have much of a different neck size and you would only have to do a shorter dress.

I'm going to attach the pieces that I used and you can adjust them as necessary if you need a smaller size.

The pattern I made and used for this dress is here. But here's the problem. When I scanned it, my scanner shrunk it by about 5/8 of an inch. So, to get it to the correct size, you have to print it bigger. Or adjust it slightly. Anyone know how to fix this??? I'm SO not a computer person.

To make sure you have it sized correctly:

The collar piece should measure 9-3/4 inches from outer corner to outer corner across the straight part on the fold.
The collar is 3 inches wide all the way through the "rainbow"
The inner line of the "rainbow has two straight edges before it curves, these should measure 2 inches.

The dress should measure 8-7/8 inches along the dotted line.
The top of the dress (when all but "fold" is written the correct way) should measure 6-1/2 inches
From the dotted line up to the top of the dress along the fold line should measure 3-1/4 inch
The curve of the arm hole is 4 inches corner to corner measured on the diagonal.
Use the pattern that you CAN print as a guide for the angle of the side A-line.

How is that for explaining??

Let's make a dress!

Begin by washing, drying and ironing your fabric. This is important so that it preshrinks it and you should iron it so your pieces are actually straight. I used quilting cotton for this one. I made another with seersucker (which worked great, but was a bit more slippery).

Then on the fold, where marked, cut out two of each pattern piece. Extend the length of the main body piece to the desired length (make sure when you measure that you take into account the seam allowance for the hem. Add 1/2 inch for that). I did Mady's dress 18 inches from the dotted line. Follow the same shape so it's still straight across the bottom at the 18 inch mark and then the side seam will flare slightly since it is technically an A-line.

All seam allowances are 1/2 inch unless otherwise noted. Make sure you back stitch to lock your seams.

Let's begin with the main part of the dress. Match the sides, right sides together. Sew up the sides, serge or zigzag the edges and press the seams (this keeps things looking nice and less, home-made like).

Turn under the under-arms 1/4 inch and press and then another 1/4 inch and press, all the way around up to the neck. You might have to ease the fabric a little bit to get it to sit straight. Pins will help keep it in place before you stitch. Top stitch close to the edge of the seam.

Across the top of the dress sew a straight, long stitch, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Set your machine to the longest stitch it can do. DO NOT BACK STITCH. Do this on both the front and back of the dress. Mark the centre of the dress with a pin (just don't pin into the stitches or they won't gather) on both the front and back. Pulling on the bobbin threads, gather the material into a ruffle evenly on both sides of the middle on both the front and back. Set it aside for now. You'll match it up onto the neck in the next step.

(you'll notice I forgot to mark the middle. Don't forget to do this!)
Now take your donut pieces.
Wait, here's a disclaimer. This fits over my 3.5 year olds head just fine, but before you get this too finished, try it on the child. If your child has a larger head, you may need to make the centre of the donut a bit bigger. Right now it's tighter than it will be when we're done, just so you know.

Now, here's where it gets a bit tricky. I don't know if there is an easier way to do this (someone tell me if there is!), but I found it simplest to sew a basting stitch for this next part and then take it out at the end.

So, take your donut, right sides together, and sew around the outside and the inside with a basting stitch. DO NOT BACKSTITCH as you'll be taking it out anyway. Make sure you don't overlap your stitches as you go around. Go slowly and lift your presser foot as much as necessary to get a nice curve, especially on the inner ring.

Now clip the curves and press the seams open. Using lots of steam will help you later. This will make the neck actually lie flat. This would also be a good time to try it on your child to make sure it's going to fit.

Pin the pieces together in a few spots so you don't miss-align them and take out the basting stitch of the outer ring ONLY.

Set your machine back to a normal stitch! Sew along the straight outer edges of the donut and only on the straight parts. Once it starts to curve you're going to need to stop. See where it starts to curve on the inner edge? Draw an imaginary horizontal line straight out from there and stop at that point.
(see those red lines? That's where you sew between. Click to enlarge. Ignore the fact that my seam allowances aren't clipped in this picture. I may have done things backwards the first time.)
Make sure you don't catch any of those little flaps from your clipped seam allowances.

Now that the straight parts are stitched, take out the basting of the inner edge (you'll notice mine is missing from the picture above. That's because this was one of the attempts in which I did it the wrong way).

Turn the neck piece right side out. Now carefully tuck in all those clipped curve pieces (I find it easiest to use lots of pins) and sew a top stitch (as close to the edge as possible) around the inner ring of the donut.

So now you should be left with just the bottom parts of the donut open. This is where you're going to tuck in the dress piece. Mark the middle of the neck piece on both ends. Line it up with the middle of the dress piece.
(since i didn't mark the middle, this part was tricky for me)

Place the dress piece between the layers of the neck piece (I put mine right up to the top) and pin in place. Then adjust your ruffles so that they fit evenly within the neck piece and are wide enough to cover all the bits that need covering. If your child will stand still, this might be a good thing to do right on them. Pin in place.  Make sure that you allow those wrinkle in the fabric to be there and don't smooth them off to the sides. Otherwise it won't hang nice.

Make sure all the clipped corner pieces are tucked in out of sight. Use lots of pins! Do this to both the front and back pieces.

Top stitch as close to the edge as possible, all the way around the donut.

Just a note: The first time I did this I started on the straight shoulder part with the rest of the dress off to the side, but that made for quite the tricky parts later. So make sure half your dress is through to the other side of your presser foot when you start sewing this part (if you have a free arm like I don't, it will be much easier!).

If you want to do another set of top stitching another 1/8inch in from these lines feel free. I think it would look nice and would help hold the dress piece in place after washing so there isn't bunching in the collar.

Turn up the hem 1/4 inch and press, then another 1/4 inch and press. Make sure that your side seam allowance "flap" isn't twisted and is going the same direction as under the arm. Sew a top stitch along the edge and you're done!         


Enjoy your dress!

If you have any questions, if anything doesn't make sense, or if you find a much more brilliant way of doing (or explaining!) things, please let me know. If you make a dress from this tutorial I would love to see it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Circle Neck Dress

So this week I made Mady a dress.

Actually I made her 3 dresses.

And a skirt.

( I'll post pictures as soon as I can coax a smile out of her each time she's wearing these suckers. She is a moody 3 year old after all).

But this dress I made the pattern too. And unlike my last attempt, it actually worked.

You see, I had been looking for ideas for dresses online one night and I kept seeing the ones that have the round neck/straps (where the neckline is part of the straps in kind of a donut shape). And then I got it stuck in my head that this was the style of dress I wanted to make next.

So I looked for a tutorial. I couldn't find one.

I could find patterns I would have to pay for, but I could tell it was literally 4 pieces. Actually 2 pieces cut 2 times. I just didn't want to spend money on a pattern for that. I figured I could do it myself.

So I thought about it and studied pictures and eventually I did figure it out!

And here is the end result:

Cute huh?

I can think of all sorts of ways to make it more fun:
-A contrasting neck piece
-ric rac
-little fabric flower or bows
-ruffles at the bottom (I'm kind of obsessed with ruffles...)
-Ribbon (doesn't ribbon just make everything better?)

Mady's favourite part are the little purple polka dots right here:

I won't tell you how many times I had to rip things out. Logic doesn't always come naturally to my creative brain and I may have assumed that fabric could pass through itself in an attempt to turn it right side out. So that explains why I didn't add the embellishments on this exact dress, but now that I have the pattern, I will be making variations!

I'll get a tutorial to you soon so that you can make your own too.

Edited to add: You can now find the tutorial here.

Linking up to some of the parties in my Place I Like to Party tab.