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Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I have been sewing again lately and taking a break from book writing!

I made 4 skirts so far, with one more to do before the end of today.

These are super easy once you get the hang of it.  If you have never sewn before, you will need to familiarize yourself with your machine, tools, and know how to sew a straight seam.

If you know that already, this skirt should take about 2 hours, if that!


I'm going to take you through creating your own simple skirt, based on the book "Sew What! Skirts". If you like to sew or think you'll like to sew, this book is a great resource.

Start by choosing your fabric. I buy on sale whenever possible. You will need 1 yard if petite.  If you are not petite, you will need about 2 yards or so.  If you want a length longer than the knee, add more fabric (about 2 1/2 yards).  If you are larger than size 24, get 3 yards just to be sure. You can also make a longer skirt using the 3 yards.

In this instance, I've chosen a simple, pretty cotton fabric, the type usually found in the quilting areas of fabric stores. When learning how to sew, I recommend that you start with cotton fabric and make sure there is a good design on it, as it will help hide mistakes! ;)  Be sure to get a matching thread.

Take the cotton fabric home and wash it in hot water; then dry on hot as well. This is to ensure that the fabric is well shrunk (if it would tend to shrink at all), prior to your cutting it into a pattern.  Never skip that step!

Iron the fabric with right sides together, lengthwise, so the selvage is on one side and the fold on the other. (The selvage is the "finished edge" of the fabric. You can look up the word on the internet if you need more help).

At this point you may either make the skirt pattern piece on a 3' x 3' piece of pattern cloth or paper, or you may also mark the pattern directly on the fabric with a washable fabric ink pen.

Because we are making an elastic waist skirt, we will go by the hip measurement.  If your hips are smaller than your waist, do the opposite and use your waist measurement.

*Measure your hips. Add 4 1/2 inches for ease and seam allowances.  Write down the number.  Divide it by 4. This number is called "A".

*Figure out your desired length of the skirt. From your waist to your thighs or knees or calves or whatever you like. Add 2 inches for the hem and waist casing. This number is called "B"

Here is an example:

If my hips measure at 40 inches, I would add 4 inches for ease/seam allowance and write down 44 inches.  Divide it by 4 = 11 inches for "A".  I would then  use a ruler to measure from the fold edge of the pattern/fabric toward the selvage 11 inches.

I want my skirt length to be 30 inches, so I add 2 inches and measure down from the waist with a ruler down 32 inches for “B”, which equals the length of my skirt.


1.     Place fabric on the work table, with the fold closest to you.

2.     A little below the top edge of the fabric (or on pattern paper), close to the fold, using a washable fabric ink pen, mark a dot.  See the diagram. 

3.     Mark another dot an inch above that (to plot the waistline curve).  The top dot on the diagram is that dot.

4.     From the waistline curve dot, (shown as the second one down) use a ruler to mark the “A” dot (in the example, this is when I would measure from the fold line out 11 inches out to my hip line).  Mark the dot for the hip measurement ("A") as shown.

5.     For the skirt length, mark the "B" measurement dot at the fold line.

6.     With a yardstick, mark from waistline curve to the hem at several points then joint the points.

Cut out two of these pattern pieces on the fold.  You’ll end up with two half skirt pieces.

Get out your elastic to get it ready.  Pull it around your waistline and measure, pulling just a little bit (now is not the time to pull it tightly!).  Cut off extra elastic as needed.

Place the two fabric pieces, one on top of the other, right sides together.

Pin and sew side seams.  I use a serger, as you can tell in the photo, but I'm also showing using pinking shears for the waistline, which you may do at the side seams or hem too.

This photo shows sewing the side seams with a regular seam stitch.

This shows sewing the side seams using a serger.

At the waistline, fold over fabric, right sides together, 1 inch (one inch) wide.  Iron.  Pin every few inches.  Allow 2 inches to remain open so you can put in the elastic. My elastic piece is shown.

Stitch all around the waistline, making sure your needle is no more than ¼ inch from the edge.  This will create the casing for the elastic.  Don’t forget to keep 2 inches open for the elastic.

Put a safety pin on the end of the elastic. Force it through the casing.  Go all the way around your skirt.

TIP: using another pin, tack the end of the elastic to the opening of the casing so it won’t accidently get pulled in its entirety.

Try on the skirt.

If it fits well, carefully attach the two ends of the elastic together and stitch them together, making sure the elastic isn’t crimped or turned funny in the casing.

Turn up the hem about a half inch.  Iron.  If you wish, you can use double sided fusible tape, such as Stitch Witchery: to tack down every five inches or so.  Follow directions.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


When your harvest your tomato crop, there is nothing more wonderful than fresh tomato, right out of your garden, warm from the sun.  Delicious!

To preserve these tomatoes, you can either freeze them, can them, or dry them.

I prefer drying, as it takes up less space, plus I can add them to my Soups in a Bag.

Here is my method: (notice the tomato juice appears pink more than red!)

Take your fresh tomatoes.  Cut out the centers.  Cut in half or so.  Put into a blender or food processor and blend until reasonably smooth.  Pour onto your flex sheets in the dehydrator.  Dry for 8 hours or until brittle all the way through.  Peel off (it will break up, but this is fine)  Freeze the tomato leather in a plastic bag for 48 hours in case bugs laid eggs inside the fruit.  Remove from the freezer, and while still frozen, crush.  Let come to room temperature, then pour into mason jars.  Add oxygen absorber packet, and store for up to 2 years (or use as part of a dried foods recipe).