I Cook Better Than I Sew.

Because cooking encourages, forgives, even rewards improvisation.

No white sugar for the cookies? No problem. Throw in some honey or brown sugar or agave nectar. No fresh serrano pepper?  Okay. Toss in a bit of crushed red pepper and chili powder for that slow and spicy heat. Short on small egg noodles for the cabbage dish? No worries. You can cut up some of the big ones or use chopped spaghetti instead.

No recipe at all?

Step 1. Throw all your vegetables in a pot with some oil, onion, and garlic. Step 2. Heat and serve. Utterly simple.

Sewing is another matter all together. It mandates careful preparation, specific materials, and absolute precision. Which is a problem when all you have is a skirt that you’d like to be a dress, only half a good idea, and the wrong color thread. Then the process goes something like this:

1. Take body measurements. With a piece of ribbon because you discover that your tape measure has gone missing. Then estimate based on the only ruler you have: the MacBook that you know is only 13 inches long.

2. Use said ribbon to measure out fabric for top half of dress. Measure twice in fact. Cut once.

2. Test to make sure upper half will in fact fit around your upper half. Discover that you’ve either miraculously gained an extra six inches in circumference in the last ten minutes or your measurements were all wrong. Sigh with relief that it’s probably only the latter. Figure out how to patch on an extra six inches of fabric.

3. Measure body for bottom half, again with the handy ribbon. Try praying this time that your measurements are correct before you cut.

4. Check that this piece does fit around the waist (it does). Sew to upper half.

5. Remove the seam just sewn because you attached the upper half of the dress in such a way that the patched together portion (with white thread. on a purple dress) is facing outward.

6. Sew the blasted seam again.

7. Attempt to sew a single seam along the open side of the dress. Notice that this comes out in a nice zig-zag effect because you were over ambitious about the speed at which you should send the fabric through the needle.

8. Contemplate redoing the seam.

9. Decide that no one will see it on the inside. Good enough.

10. Attempt to sew two very small rectangles of fabric into straps for the dress.

11. After you’ve sewn the rectangles shut so they can’t be turned inside out like you’d hoped, give up and use some left over ribbon or the drawstring from the skirt.

12. Survey your work. Realize that you could have created exactly what you did in two steps instead of twelve had you just given up at the beginning and simply sew straps onto the skirt.

13. Go bake something. You’ll feel better about life.

Note: Pictures to follow of said dress. It isn’t a complete disaster and it’s worth showing off a little. Just experiencing some difficulties with the camera…

Did you remember your reusable bags?

Why yes. I did.

And not just for my groceries that come in boxes and cans and containers.  In an effort to continue winning my own personal war against plastic this spring/summer, I sewed up my very own cloth produce/bulk bags!  I made them in a variety of shapes and sizes and thus far they’ve proved to be wonderfully handy for loose fruits and vegetables (like apples and peppers) and for my favorite bulk items (like unsalted mixed nuts and couscous).  I usually reuse the bags for the same items multiple times, but if they get sticky or wet or dirty they’re easy enough to throw in the wash.

Take that plastic bags!

Of course, I can’t take too much credit.  Loads of other people have made similar bags before and, after a quick Google search, I based my own on Wendy’s instructions on Wisdom of the Moon. I’m not nearly so crafty as she is, so I simplified the seams (just pinned the two edges together really) and used a very basic stitch (I believe it’s called a “backstitch”).  I can testify that they were easy to make and didn’t even require a particularly straight hem.  The best part was that I was able to find the sheer fabric at a Salvation Army for only three dollars.  Fantastic, yes?

For those who might not be quite so keen on sewing, there are a variety out there for purchase.  Etsy is a good place to start and another quick Google Search turns up 200+ options in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors.  Have a look and think about replacing those plastic produce bags with reusable ones.

Oh the Cleverness of Me.

Yes, I did in fact originally contemplate that phrase for the title of this blog, partly because I have a soft spot for Peter Pan and his unabashed pride but mostly because I was working on this lovely rag rug at the time.  I’m not a particularly crafty person and I’m not entirely confident that I could sew a button back on to a shirt, so I was more than a little proud of myself for not only taking up this endeavour but actually completing it!  It was, in the end, a very satisfying project.  I actually rather enjoyed the steadiness and repetition of braiding, winding, and sewing–there was a certain discipline to it that was good for my soul this winter.  And it was the original inspiration for this blog which has also proved to be a very enjoyable occupation.

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