Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Dress for Every Girl Around the World

Dress A Girl Around The World is an organization that I was glad to learn about, and I wanted to make sure that you all know about it, too.  The flyer above says "Imagine a world where every little girl owned at least one dress."  It is a sad thought that there are little girls who don't own a single dress, and this is something that we CAN do something about!  I am so happy to make pillowcase dresses to send to this organization, and I bet you all would like to do the same.

Pillowcase dresses are SUPER EASY to sew, as I have recently discovered.  You don't have to start with a pillowcase, but if you do they make up in about ten minutes.  You can make them in the traditional way, using bias strips under the arms and casings at the top:

Or you can use elastic across the top, and put casings under the arms, instead:

This didn't work that well for me, and I will never try to put casings under the arms again!  It would be better to use bias here, too; here are easy instructions at Rostitchery for a "safer pillowcase dress."
I will make the next ones this way, for sure.

As I said, you don't have to start with a pillowcase; you could start with a yard (or a bit less) of fabric, or even make one from a skirt:

So, I am sending these off to Dress a Girl Around the World now (after I clip those threads), but I plan to make more and better dresses soon, and send more again later.  I hope some of you will sew some pretty dresses to send for other little girls, too.  Please and thank you.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Gardening

It's March already, and as we live on the warm Gulf Coast, our garden is already planted.  We are still waiting to see our zucchini and squash seeds break through the ground, but most everything else is up.  I planted a lot of heirloom tomatoes and pepper seeds, as well as quite a few hybrid peppers, too, in pots in the garden, but we also bought some seedlings from the garden center.

Here is the hot pepper patch so far:

There are Cayenne, Hot Bananas, Mammoth Jalapenos, and something known as "world's hottest," I think those are Habaneros.

And here are the sweet peppers so far, 3 each of green. yellow, and red:

There is space in between them for the seedlings I am growing, mostly a carnival mix of many colors of bells, along with my favorite heirloom, Chinese Giant.

And the tomatoes are on the other side in this garden.

So the back 10x12 garden will be full of tomatoes and peppers this year (and basil), and what was the pepper and tomato garden last year now has zucchini and squash, zinnias, black beans, garlic, sunflowers, chard, sequoia beans, and will have corn and eggplant (and more zinnias).  I am not showing pictures of that garden because it is just coming up (except for the garlic, which is a foot tall already).  It also is littered with leaves.  There is a Live Oak tree in my side yard that sheds its leaves in spring right onto that garden.  Since we planted the seeds we are having to hand pick the leaves frequently so that the seedlings do not get smothered.  This little garden is fenced in, though, so we are about to run a screen over the top and eliminate this problem.

I haven't planted luffa or pole beans yet, as we want to build a new trellis for these.

I did take some pictures in the herb bed.  The echinacea is up.

And here is a comfrey emerging:

This other comfrey is hardier and leafed out already:

The bee balm sure has spread and is looking nice.  I hope it will finally flower this year; I have had lovely flowers from bee balms in other yards, but it has not flowered at this address yet.  Bee balm is also known as Oswego Tea, by the way, and the strangely shaped flowers are really interesting.  I think it likes more shade than it gets in my yard.

The stevia is up and growing; it grows really tall and flowers; I want to better about using this herb (for sweetening tea) this year.

Oregano, one of a couple clumps in the perennial bed:

Lemon balm, aka Melissa:

The pineapple sage has not yet come back!

Pineapple Sage is my favorite herb in this garden, and we have been growing it here for 4 years; last year it was a huge bush with at least a 5 foot diameter all around, including tall.  It is the last thing to flower in the winter, and so I am thinking it is late to come back...but I read last year on the internet that sometimes they just don't come back, and so we are worried.  We bought a new one just in case:

Look how much blueberry flowers look like blueberries!

Here are my zinnias.  I planted a ton of them in pots to put in the garden later.  They are also springing up as volunteers in 2 of the three gardens and I haven't pulled any yet.  I love zinnias :)

And here is a surprise.  We have been shocked by this Gerber Daisy, which has not seemed very happy since we bought it a couple or more years ago.  It seems happy now:

That looks like summertime to me, but I took the photo today!
What are you planting in your garden this spring?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's In Style for Spring/ Summer 2011: Women's Fashion Top Trends

Are you inspired to sew your wardrobe? I sure am, and many of the trends this Spring are great and easy styles for sewing yourself.  So what are the top trends for the season?  To find out, read my new article at Yahoo! Contributor Network, What's In Style for Spring 2011: Women's Fashion.  I appreciate you reading my work at Y!CN.

I am doing a lot of Spring wardrobe sewing myself, and I hope to show you a lot of the pieces.  The top trend this Spring is the jumpsuit, and I am definitely making a few for myself.  I started with McCall's Pattern 6083.

This pattern includes 2 different bodice styles and three lengths of pants.  I have learned to make a test garment first, and so I made a sunsuit, using the shorts length and the bandeau style bodice.  My Dolly can't wear pants, and so I have no model to show you, and I cannot photograph myself.  I took a picture of my short jumpsuit hanging on a hanger, and then laid out on my table, and these photos don't look good!  So I am going to have think about how to show off my jumpsuits; maybe I will get brave and model them myself, if Mr. Green will shoot the pictures.

Anyway, the short suit is cute and comfortable (and very easy to sew), and I will wear it in my backyard, not out and about.  I also will not make another with the same bodice, as I don't love it for me.  I do really like the fit of the shorts.  They have nice front pockets and are very comfortable with a great fit. I have just cut out another pair in the capri length, in black.  I am going to try the other bodice style with this, and make the top in white.  I will let you know how that bodice works out, for sure.

I am excited about making a different jumpsuit today, though.  The most recent issue of SewStylish magazine has instructions for combining the bodice and pants from Simplicity 2227 to make an "ultra-elegant jumpsuit."  I will be making mine with some flowing chambray colored cotton.  Once I do that, I want to work with the pattern I used for this nightgown to make a version in gauze, inspired by Ferragamo's lovely jumpsuit for this season. 

That Sew Stylish magazine had another great project, a knit wrap dress, which I made yesterday.  I still have to finish the belt ends....I have hesitated on this step, because I am thinking I might like mine to tie, instead of using a vintage wooden buckle as I had planned.  Once I decide and finish this dress, I will show you that as well.  Amazon does not appear to have the latest issue of this magazine, but I found mine at the fabric store; if you see it in line, you ought to pick it up.  I think there were about 6 different garment sewing patterns that I will definitely try, and there are many more than that in the whole issue.  This is not a sponsored post, by the way, and there has never been a sponsored post here at Sewing and Growing, just so you know.  I recommend things because I like them and think you will too. 

If you didn't click the link above, please click now to read my article What's In Style for Spring, please and thank you!  Happy Sewing!

P.S. I am adding this photo, because it felt like cheating to have nothing to show in this post!  Plus, as I said, I will wear this only in the privacy of my back yard, as it is short and I certainly will never be photographed wearing this!  It's cute though and I hope I will enjoy wearing it for gardening this summer, sorry the photo doesn't look good!  I left off the belt in the photo because it wouldn't hang right, it is the same as the neck ties, but wider.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rosemary Flowers

Our Rosemary is flowering now. 

If you don't have Rosemary growing at your house yet, it should be easy to find young plants at your local garden center right now.  Rosemary is one of my favorite plants to grow, as well as a favorite herb; we love it so much we named our dog Rosemary! 

They are easy to grow and thrive in full sun.  They tolerate humidity better than many other herbs, as they are used to growing near the sea.  A Rosemary bush will grow as tall as man, but not taller, according to a legend that centers around Christ.  This particular bush has been growing for us for four years now, and it was a couple or more years old when we bought it in a large pot; this is the first year that it has completely flowered.  We had small smatterings of blooms over the last two years, but this year it has blooms covering the whole bush.  Even if you don't have a garden, you ought to grow a Rosemary.  They will do well in pots outdoors, as long as they have plenty of room for their roots.  If your temps go down below 0, not just freezing, then you will want to grow it in a pot and bring it inside or somewhere protected to overwinter.  On the Gulf Coast, where we live, they are hardy and stay green all year.
Once you get some, besides cooking with it (it's particularly good with chicken, green beans, or potatoes), you can also use it to make things like flea dip for your dog, hair rinses for extra shine, and skin cleansing products.  Here is my recipe for facial toner/ astringent made with this herb and strawberry leaves.