Gluten Free Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

The other day our cabinets were bare. I of course still wanted something sweet, but what to do when you don’t have anything to make something sweet? I mixed several things together, put it in the oven and hoped for the best. I got the best. As I was pondering and tasting my creation I got to thinking, “hmm these are probably gluten-free.” So I did some research and it turns out I am right.

I do have to give a warning though. This recipe being gluten-free depends on where you get your ingredients from. Cocoa powder and oatmeal are both naturally gluten-free, but can be cross-contaminated with products that are gluten-free. Some companies also add hidden gluten to some items. The best bet to getting gluten-free cocoa powder is to go organic or at least find a cocoa powder that explicitly states gluten-free on the packaging. To get gluten-free oats, go for irish oats, steel-cut oats, or organic oats.

The recipe:

  • 3-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 egg
  • 6TBSPs butter or your choice of fat
  • 2-1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 6TBSPs cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar or to taste
  • some vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour

 

First boil the water. When the water is boiling take it off of the heat. Stir in the oatmeal. After the oatmeal is incorporated stir in the butter in pats.

You don’t have to use butter. You can use an alternate type of fat. It can be sunflower oil, coconut oil, or whatever oil you want. Just steer clear of canola, vegetable and olive oils. Canola is one of the most genetically modified crops there is. Vegetable oil contains partially hydrogenated junk. Olive oil has too strong of a taste for this dish. I recommend butter though, because of the taste.

The cocoa powder can now be stirred in as well as the vanilla.

Stir in the sugar. A note on the sugar. IF you want the recipe to be less sweet you can use less sugar. This is primarily an oatmeal food so if you want it to be a little more savory or you are watching your sugar go ahead and use less. Likewise, if you want this to be sweeter use more sugar.

Next stir in the coconut flour. Make sure it’s incorporated well, no need to sift it.

Lastly, stir in the egg.  This egg is to glue this batter together. You need the egg.

Using a 10×15 jelly roll pan spread parchment paper over the pan. Then spread the mixture in the pan. Make sure it is spread evenly and all the way into the corners.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Why now instead of earlier? We’re giving the batter time to thicken up. Coconut flour soaks up a lot of moisture and this period is kind of like marinating.

Once the oven is all fired up stick the pan in for 25 minutes.

Take it out and let it cool completely. Cut into 21 separate bars. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. They will be crackly-looking on top.

If you eat them warm you’re going to need a fork. They will be like warm baked pudding, but if you cool them off they will be solid. You can definitely get some picky kids to eat some oatmeal this way. I was surprised at how well they turned out for something I threw together.

You can do a lot to add onto this. You could use milk instead of water if you wanted more protein in this. You could also add in flaxseed and wheat germ if you wanted, but then your bars aren’t going to be gluten-free.  You could even add nuts, fruits, coconut flakes, or if you wanted to be devilish, chocolate chips.

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Celebrating Pi Day the Pie Way

First off, don’t laugh at my crusts. Second, March 14th is Pi day. Yes, Pi day, not pie day, but it’s traditional to celebrate with pie. It’s a holiday for all of the nerds and geeks out in the world, of which I happen to be one, so I celebrate Pi day.

As you know, Pi is a number. It’s a special number denoted by the symbol π.

The number is either numerically represented as 3.14159……… and it goes on, or the fraction 22/7. If you have ever taken geometry or trigonometry, you know that you need Pi to figure out the circumference of a circle and therefore the circumference of a pie.

I made two pies to celebrate Pi day. One is Apple and the other is chocolate cream pie.

The crust is not something I have perfected yet. I am still struggling between a crust that works and a crust that doesn’t. That is why my crusts aren’t that pretty, but I will mater pie crust making eventually.

The pie crust recipe is:

  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2tsps sugar
  • a little salt
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Stir the flour, sugar, and salt together. Then crumb your butter into the flour. Basically, you’re going to mush the flour and butter together until the mixture resembles crumbs. You  can do this with a pastry blender, which is not actually a blender, or your hands. Since I don’t have a pastry blender I usually use a combination of my hands and two forks.

Once it’s all crummy add little bits of the ice water and kind of knead it and bring it together until it forms a ball. You may not need to use all of the ice water. Then put this in the fridge for an  hour to chill.

Once it’s done chilling, roll the dough out onto a clean surface making sure your dough is 2 inches bigger all the way around that the pie pan you’re using.

Put your dough in the pie pan and dock the bottom(poke a bunch of holes in it with a fork), and make the edges pretty. As you can see I haven’t mastered “making the edges pretty.”

This is how making pie crust is supposed to work in theory, but I have had troubles with the dough, so don’t get discouraged, you can always do the next best thing and go and buy a ready-made pie crust, high fructose corn syrup free please.

Baking the pie crust depends on what kind of pie you are making.

For the apple pie:

I used canned pie filling for this. Oh the shame!!! I have an excuse though, apples are prohibitively expensive where I am currently at. I am talking sometimes way over 3.00 a pound expensive. So needless to say, I haven’t had too many apples since I’ve been here. Canned pie filling is only about 2.00 so canned pie filling wins, plus the brand I used doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup or any other nasties in it.

I just opened the can up and put the pie filling in an unbaked crust. I used a little of the extra dough to make the strips across the top called lattice. Again, not something I’ve mastered so don’t laugh at it. I also sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on top.

I then baked this pie 10 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit and 30 more at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, it turned out quite nicely.

For the Chocolate Cream Pie:

I did make this filling from scratch and it’s so easy there isn’t any reason not to.

Chocolate cream pie:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt(optional)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 2ozs unsweetened chocolate or 6 TBSPs cocoa powder + 2 TBSP butter

I am going to explain this recipe using the 6TBSPs cocoa powder and 2TBSP butter method. I find that it’s easier to make a pie chocolate that way than it is to use unsweetened chocolate bars.

Put the sugar, flour, salt(you’re not really going to need this if using salted butter), and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Stir it all together. Then add the milk. Bring it to medium heat, stirring frequently.

The original recipe advocates very low heat, but you will be cooking this forever if you cook it on low, it works just as well to use medium heat.

Your mixture will start to get warm, you will notice it thickens up some. That is good! You want it to thicken up.

Once the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon take it off of the heat. Beat the three egg yolks and beat a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. This is called tempering. I did read that if there is flour in the mixture that you don’t have to temper eggs, but I didn’t want to risk it.

Return the pot to the stove and cook for a couple more minutes stirring it the whole time. This is where those egg yolks are getting gently cooked.

Take it off the heat and strain this mixture through a sieve. You do not want chunks of whatever in your cream pie. There could be chunks of cocoa powder, you might have scaled the bottom of your mixture and scraped some off, and there is this little thing inside of eggs that keeps the yolk in place, you don’t want that in your custard. Always, strain custards!

Once it’s strained stir in the 2 TBSP butter plus an additional 2 TBSP for the chocolate. Add the vanilla. Your mixture should already be starting to firm up. It’s still hot, in fact it’s very hot, don’t burn yourself. Set it aside.

Using the same type of crust as I used on the apple pie. Put the crust in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes. It’s just going to bake lightly, it’s not really going to brown. Take it out of the oven. Let it cool a few minutes. Then add the chocolate custard to the pie crust. Smooth the top over.

Let it cool at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes, then you can put it in the fridge, to cool down more and firm up more, but if you want it faster, put it in the freezer! I actually kind of like chocolate cream pie semi-frozen, so I always put mine in the freezer, but it should firm up just fine with the fridge. If it’s runny, you didn’t cook the custard long enough.

The next Pi Day is almost a year away, but now you know and you can celebrate with pie!

 

 

 

 

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Kindle Cover Flip Top

I have this shirt that I really like. I have had it for five years. It goes great with pants and skirts. It has great colors and a great pattern, but it’s not really wearable anymore. The fabric has gotten thin, there are holes in a few places, and it’s just looking worn. I didn’t want to just throw it away, so I decided a Kindle cover would be the thing to do.

The necessary items are fabric, cardboard, batting, some elastic, some Iron-on Velcro and a little imagination.

The first thing I did was cut the shirt along the seams. This will give me a good idea of how much fabric that I have to work with.

I used a t-square to mark a cardboard piece just a little bigger than the Kindle all the way around. The piece ended up being 5 X 7-3/4 inches. This is the size you would need for a latest generation Kindle. Any other size and I wouldn’t know.

I cut the piece out using an exacto knife. Scissors will work, but your run the risk of damaging your cardboard trying to get the scissors all the way down the piece of cardboard. It is necessary for this piece to be square, meaning that all the corners are 90 degree angles.

You can use the 3-4-5 rule, AKA the pathagorean theorem to check your angles. Measure 3 inches down one side, measure 5 inches down the other, and the distance between the two spots should be 5 inches.

I cut out two pieces exactly alike. One for the front and one for the back.

Since I was making a flip-top design I needed a hinge piece for the top. To get the correct measurement I layered one piece of cardboard, a layer of batting, the Kindle, another layer of batting, and then the other piece of cardboard. This measurement turned out to be 3/4 inch. That makes the hinge piece 5 X 3/4 inches.

Here are the three cardboard pieces together.

Next, I cut some batting. I wanted to have batting on both sides of the cardboard pieces. I cut one long piece for each piece of cardboard and turned it over. I used a strip of scrap batting for the little piece. I attached it with staples, but hot glue would also work.

I laid out my fabric, in this case the back of what was my shirt. There was enough fabric there for the entire project.

I laid out the cardboard/batting pieces like they would be in the finished product. I left a little wiggle room in between the pieces. I then cut out around the entire thing leaving room for hemming. There need to be two pieces, one for the outside and one for the inside. If there is a piece that is prettier use that for the outside.

This shirt also had straps. I am going to use one of the straps for some decoration and function. I cut a small piece off of one of the straps to use as a closure for the case. I also cut several other pieces. I am going to use them to make a mock bow on the front of the cover. I cut one piece that went all the way across, another that I folded the ends under, and an even smaller piece to place in the middle of all of that.

I also cut another piece out of the fabric that was going to act like a little pocket for the bottom of the Kindle. The piece is about 5 inches wide and 3 inches high. This piece is going to be hemmed up and then used to hold the bottom of the Kindle.

Next, I laid out the piece that was going to be used for the inside of the case. I put a piece of the cardboard underneath. This step is to determine where I need to sew the elastic and little pocket on. I used a sharpie to make dots on either side of the Kindle where these things would be sewn on. The elastic needs to be tight enough that it holds the Kindle in place. It’s going to stretch across the top of the Kindle. There also needs to be enough elastic to hem it under on the ends.

I hemmed up the little piece for the pocket and now it was ready to be sewn onto the piece of fabric I marked. I am sewing it on beforehand because this cannot be attached later, it has to be attached before everything else is sewn up.

I sewed down each side and then across the bottom. I used the Kindle to check for a correct fit. I did need to tighten up the pocket a couple of times to make the kindle snugly fit inside.

I took the piece I cut for my mock bow and hemmed the ends under. I then used a decorative stitch to sew them all together.

After that I attached it to the part of the outside piece of fabric that was going to be the front. There was no need to hem the ends of this bow piece because it’s going to be sewn in when the case is put together.

Here is where I attached my mock bow to the fabric piece.

After I got the bow, pocket, and elastic sewn on, I then placed the inside and outside pieces good-side to good-side to sew them together. I sewed down each side and across one of the short ends. I wanted the hem to be on the bottom rather than on one of the sides.

I needed to try out the pieces inside of the cover several times. At first the cloth part was too loose, so I had to take it in several times. There shouldn’t be a lot of wiggle room when the cardboard pieces are inside of the fabric piece. The fabric should be pulled tight across the cardboard, otherwise the Kindle won’t be held properly. The cardboard will have to be wiggled in place, that is how tight the fabric should be.

I then got ready to hem up the bottom. I put my little piece I cut earlier from the sash to act as a closure. I pinned it inside of the hem and then sewed it up.

 

 

 

 

Once everything was sewn up I turned my attention to the hinge part. I pushed the small piece over and pushed one large piece of cardboard all the way down. There was some space in between which I wanted to sew through. I sewed this by hand, because it won’t fit in the sewing machine. Once that was sewn up I pushed the small piece of cardboard over to the opposite side, and then sewed in the space that was made.

Next I got my iron on Velcro and attached one side to the closure piece and another to the cover.

Here it is all finished! My Kindle fits inside of it. The bottom sits in the pocket that was made and the top is strapped down with a piece of elastic. The whole thing can be closed with the Velcro closure.

Here is the finished outside. My Kindle is inside being all snug, but also looking pretty in its new case.

This is a project that takes a little planning, but if you put your mind to it, it’s not hard to do. You could use any fabric you liked to create this. The materials are simple and you can put some personality into it.

It took me a while to post this post, not because the project took a while, but because WordPress has been having some issues. So I am sorry for the delay. WordPress was the subject of a distributed denial of service attack, you would know if you got WordPress e-mails. This basically means a bunch of jerks got together to access the website all at once to overload the websites servers. Ever since WordPress has been cooperating sometimes and other times it hasn’t. I tried to post this post at least five times.

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T-Shirt Laptop Sleeve

I know all you have this T-shirt you really like. You’ve worn it many times, it’s faded, it might have stains, it may be too big or too small now, but you just can’t bear to part with it. What do you do with it? You make it something you can use, that’s what!

“When there’s something weird, going on in your neighborhood…Who you gonna call?! Ghostbusters! “

That’s right I’m using a Ghostbusters shirt, which I love. It used to glow in the dark, but now it doesn’t anymore. I guess that glow in the dark stuff wears off after many washings. On the front of the shirt is the Ghostbusters logo and on the back it says:

“I ain’t afraid of no ghosts”

I am also going to use that part.

I am not only going to use this shirt, but an additional long-sleeved black shirt that is beyond its prime. It has stains of who knows what on it, and it’s just time to find another use for it.

The idea is to turn these two shirts into a laptop sleeve that’s awesome. It will be one of a kind.

I cut up the plain black t-shirt. I cut along all of the seam lines, I also cut off all of the hems. If you do this you end up with a front piece, a back piece and two sleeve pieces. T-shirts are made of only four pieces of fabric.

I then laid my laptop on top of the front piece of the plain black shirt. Why the front piece? You can use the front piece or the back piece, but I used the front piece because it was stained up and I didn’t want to use it on the front of my laptop sleeve. I am also going to turn it to use the wrong-side as my right-side, that way the stains will be on the inside rather than the outside of my laptop sleeve.

I cut a piece of fabric around the laptop. You don’t have to use your laptop for size you can take its measurements and use them, but I find it easier and more accurate to use the laptop while doing these types of projects. The piece of fabric needs to be bigger than the laptop because it needs a seam allowance.

This is going to be an “envelope” design so the front piece will be shorter than the back piece. I took what was the back piece of my plain black T-shirt and cut a piece that was the width of, but not the length of the laptop. It left about three inches from the top of the laptop. You can see my top piece here to the left.

 

 

 

 

I then cut the “flap” piece for the laptop sleeve. It needs to be the width of the laptop, but only about 3-4 inches long. You can see my piece to the left. The measurement of the shirt-side of this flap is going to depend on your laptop. It needs to be in proportions. Obviously if you have a netbook, the piece you cut for the “flap” is not going to be anywhere near the size of the piece I cut for my “flap.”

So, you may be thinking that I have neglected the Ghostbusters shirt. I haven’t it comes next.

I cut out the Ghostbusters logo leaving more than an inch around it on all sides. I also cut out the “I aint’ afraid of no ghost” words from the back, also leaving more than an inch around it. I then turned the edges under each piece and pinned them where I wanted them on my pieces of fabric. I decided the logo could be on the main piece of the front, and that the words could be on the flap. After these were pinned on, I took them to the sewing machine and sewed them on.

I know these two blacks are not the same color. One of my main reasons for turning the plain black shirt to the wrong-side was because that color was closer to the black of the Ghostbusters shirt than the right-side was. You may be thinking that black is black, right? Wrong. What is black is different to each person. Since these shirts were produced by two different companies, each color of black is different. One of the blacks was warmer and the other was cooler, it almost looked blue, but it was still black. If you have ever taken a color theory class you know all about how colors can be warm or cool versions of that color, so that is what is going on here. Let’s get back to the laptop sleeve.

Once I had the fabric pieces sewn on, it was time to do a little hemming. I pinned the top of the front piece to hem it, and I also hemmed the left, right, and bottom sides of the flap. These all need hemmed. They aren’t going to get hemmed, when this is put together.

Once the two pieces were hemmed up, it was time to actually start sewing the laptop sleeve. I pinned the back to the front, good-side to good-side. By good-side to good-side, I mean the sides I picked to be the good sides. I pinned up the left, right, and bottom sides. I then sewed them together using a zig-zag stitch because I wanted to take up more area.  Once this was sewn up I turned it right-side out.

This is the sleeve turned right-side out. The top of the back piece has already turned inward on the right and left side. It needs hemmed up. So I pinned it up and sewed it.

Next I pinned the flap to the main piece. It’s pinned good-side to good-side to the back of the sleeve. I sewed that up, also using a zig-zag stitch.

It was time for my laptop to try on its sleeve. I put the laptop inside of the sleeve and then turned the flap down. I pinned the flap to the side in such a way, that it wouldn’t cover any part of the logo and it was tight enough around the laptop. I then took the laptop out and sewed the flap to the side of the sleeve.

 

 

 

 

Here it is! My one of a kind laptop sleeve. You can really see what I was talking about concerning the two different colors of black, but I’m not worried about it. I found a use for two old t-shirts.

You know, that sweat stained concert t-shirt you have in the attic behind some boxes? You could do this to it.

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Retro-Fitted Backpack Laptop Compartment

I’m working on my backpack, yet again. It’s a regular run-of-the-mill back pack. I have had it for years and it’s lasted. It has a problem though, there isn’t a compartment for my laptop. I decided to change that. I am going to put a laptop compartment in the big compartment of my backpack and it’s relatively easy so you can do it too.

The first thing to do is make sure that your laptop actually fits inside your backpack. I know that my laptop fits inside of mine, but if you’re not sure just try it out.

Ultimately, for this project you’re going to need some foam, cloth, some wide elastic and of course your sewing machine and thread.

I cut a piece of foam, and yes, it’s part of a foam mattress pad. I cut the foam to the size of the laptop. It doesn’t need to be any bigger or any smaller.

Using my piece of foam as a guide, I  cut two pieces of fabric about an inch bigger than the foam all around. I am using nylon, but you could use whatever fabric you wanted.

I also cut four pieces of wide elastic. These need to be measured against your laptop. The length of each piece needs to be long enough that it stretches around the side of your laptop and there is room on each end to hem it up.

I put the two pieces of fabric together, good-side to good-side. I have trouble determining which side of this nylon is supposed to be the good-side so I just picked one. I pinned three sides. I also pinned the elastic pieces in the sides. Remember they’re pinned on the inside so they get sewn up into the whole thing when I sew up the sides. I placed two elastic pieces on each side and made sure they were directly across from the two pieces on the other side. I then sewed the three sides up.

I then turned the whole thing the right-side out and put the foam piece inside. It was a little tight, but as long as it’s flat inside it’s ok. I then pinned up the top to hem it up.

This is what it looks like with the foam inside and the top hemmed, but I’m not done yet.

One of the things about foam is that it’s really flexible. It can bend all around and if you don’t sew it to your fabric it can bunch up inside of the fabric. So it needs to be sewn into the fabric. First of all I sewed all the way around the edge of the piece. This keeps the foam in place and also keeps the edges of the fabric on the inside from fraying very much. I did use nylon and it frays terribly. So it’s a longevity measure. I also sewed across the piece several times in both directions. Why did I do this? Well believe it or not, the more you sew into this foam the more stable it gets. Whereas before the entire thing was very flexible and moved around everywhere, it’s now sturdier. It can still bend around, and it will still cushion the laptop, but it’s stronger, now that I’ve sewn through it.

It’s now time to sew this into the backpack and this is honestly the hardest part about this project.

I turned my backpack inside out. Some stuff may fall out of your backpack when you do this. Crumbs, little pieces of paper, etc., we all know if a backpack is well-used it’s going to have little bits of whatever in it.

I pinned one side of the piece to the backpack making sure the bottom was lined up with the bottom of the backpack. One side has to be sewn at a time. I sewed up the top piece of elastic first. It was fairly easy. The hard part was sewing the bottom piece of elastic in.

I had to first make sure all the straps and everything were out-of-the-way. Then I literally put my sewing machine in my backpack to get it to where I could sew the bottom piece on. I switched to a zig-zag stitch to get a little more sewing coverage while sewing the piece on.

It was time to sew the right side up. If you would have seen my struggle sewing on the bottom piece you probably would have laughed. Anyways, I pinned the other side a bit differently. I turned the edge of the elastic under then pinned it to my backpack. I then sewed through the bottom and top pieces of elastic in this manner. It was also very difficult to get the bottom piece sewn on this side as well, but I finally did it!

Here it is in use! It gives my laptop a place to be and some extra protection while it’s being bounced around in my backpack. There is no need to put foam on the backside because the backside of the backpack is already padded.

In addition to this simple compartment you can also sew the bottom in, but good luck with that! I can’t imagine how horrible it would be to sew the bottom in all the way across. You can also put a little Velcro strap across the top, but I thought mine was fine without one. Basically, I retro-fitted my backpack with a laptop compartment.

Here is the moral of the story: If you want a backpack with a laptop compartment don’t rush out to the nearest store and pay fifty bucks for a backpack with a laptop compartment when you can put a laptop compartment in the backpack you already have.

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Pants Turn Into a Skirt

Imagine this: you go clothes shopping and you find this pair of pants that is really cute. You buy that pair of pants in your size, thinking, “There’s no reason they shouldn’t fit.” Well, when you get them home and try them on, sure they kind of fit, but in all honesty you probably would have had to buy them around 2 sizes bigger than the size you actually wear and have them tailored, because the company who made them sized them a little small and also sized them weird. Don’t try to deny it, we’ve all come across weird fitting pants. That is the category this pair of pants is in.

I really like the design of this pair of pants and the color. That is why I haven’t parted with them yet. I have  had these probably eight years or so. I know a long time to have something that doesn’t fit right, but you always hope it fits right, but this pair of pants comes in the category of, “you’d practically have to be anorexic and shaped like  Olive Oyl for them to fit right.”

Well, I am going to turn them into a skirt. Pants that don’t fit right as pants, can fit just fine as skirts.

First thing is first, cut the pants across where you want the skirt to fall. Remember about seam allowance.

 

Next, get your handy-dandy seam ripper and rip the seams of the pants legs you cut off. You are going to need these. Here are my four pieces. The pieces may be more of less flared depending on what type of pants you are using.

“Now what is this tangled mass of fabric,” you ask? It’s the pants part with the inner leg seams ripped out. Yes, you need to do that. Rip the inner leg seams on both legs, but do not rip up the seam going up the front of your pants or the back of your pants, you need that to be there. Even though I checked multiple times, I still ended up ripping part of my seam that goes to my zipper, so check many, many times, to make sure you’re ripping the right seam. If you rip the wrong seam, you have to sew it back together and that just creates more work.

Lay the pants down flat, with the side facing up. The ripped seams will now be on the right and the left. You can see there is this weird fabric piece sticking out where your butt used to be. That needs to go.

That needs to be cut off in a straight line as shown here. Sorry, don’t know why the picture ended up sideways, but that weird piece isn’t there anymore.

With the pants in the same position take a straight edge and lay it across your pants. Put one end where the top of the ripped seam is on the back of the pants and the other where the ripped seam is on the front of the pants. The idea here is to determine how far the seam needs to be ripped up the side. Once you have this figured out, mark where you want to rip your seam up to. Repeat for the other side. Then rip the seams up to the marks.

You’ll need your handy-dandy iron. Turn all of the seams under and iron hem seam allowance. This is going to make the skirt much easier to work with.

Once you have all the hems ironed, place one of the leg panels under one of the ripped out areas. It can be the front, the back, or one of the sides. Place it as shown and pin it in. Repeat this for the other three seam-ripped areas. You can adjust those leg panels however you want to adjust them.

You now need to sew these panels in by sewing through the hems you created. Be careful now to sew through anything other than the area of the skirt you are working on. It’s good to use a color of thread similar to the fabric. Cut the excess fabric away inside once you’re sure it fits properly.

Here’s what it looks like. At this point the skirt can be done, if you want it to be done, but I don’t want mine to be done yet. I am going to add a little extra something.

I started the next phase by measuring, with my fabric tape, all the way across the bottom of the skirt. I doubled that measurement and added six inches to it. What am I going to do? I am going to add some inches to the bottom of this skirt in a cute way. I have actually seen skirts like this before and thought they were cute, so I wanted my own.

I was deciding whether to use white fabric or green fabric, when I decided to use both.

I cut two long strips of my white fabric about eight inches wide. The white fabric has little flower holes, so the green fabric I’m going to use as well, will peek through. I then cut two green pieces of fabric to match.

I then put the good-side to the good-side of one piece of white and one piece of green and sewed along to long edge. I repeated this for the other two strips of fabric. Then I turned the finished product inside out and sewed these two strips of fabric together on  the short end.

You can see the strip I ended up with. I pinned it to the bottom of my skirt making sure to flare it a bit. When I finally got all the way back around to the other end of the fabric strip. I pinned it together and sewed the ends together. This strip of fabric is now circular. After that I did and adjustments that were needed. Then I sewed the strip of fabric to the skirt where I had pinned it.

Then I decided a sash is really going to make the outfit this skirt goes with.  So I cut a very long strip of the green fabric seen here. I then folded it in half length-wise, good-side to good-side, and sewed the ends together. Now at this point my sewing machine decided to misbehave. I had to have words with it. It kept making knots and adjusting the tension on its own. It finally won so I had to switch thread. My sewing machine is prejudice against some types of thread.

After fighting with the sewing machine, I turned this piece right side out and edges of the long-unsewn-edge under to make a hem. I then sewed that together.

Here is everything all together!I decided the perfect thing for the top was a white shirt with my white lace cami on top. Then the sash tied around the waist, then the skirt underneath. I think my outfit turned out really cute. The sash goes with the skirt, and the skirt has one of those cute cloth extensions on the bottom.

So remember, that pair of pants which you never wear because they don’t fit right and you can’t part with them , can be turned into a cute skirt. You can do this with any pair of pants. You can use jeans, dress-pants, or casual pants. Heck, maybe even pajama pants, although I haven’t tried that one out.

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Taking in a Shirt and Fixing a Cami Strap

This is my shirt. I actually like this shirt. “So what’s wrong with it?” you ask. Well, it’s too big in the waist and as a result I used Safety pins to cinch it up and now there are these little holes on the back of it.

Since I would actually like to wear this shirt without the waist billowing out around me and without sticking safety pins in the back, I am finally going to take it in.

This is actually pretty easy, so if you would like to do this, go put your shirt on inside out, button all the buttons, it’s not as hard as you’re thinking it is to button buttons while wearing a shirt inside out, then pin where you would like to take it in at.

That’s exactly what I did. Here is one of the sides where I pinned it up. You need to pin on both sides not just one side. This is why it doesn’t look like I am going to be taking in that, much, but in reality I am taking it in a lot. The idea is to get it tight enough to wear it looks good, but not tight enough that it’s uncomfortable to wear.

I know my marks on this photo aren’t the most prominent. Those marking pencils just aren’t very strong against many colors. If you are doing this you should mark a line that you want to take in. Start in the armpit and arc it down the side.  This is the line you are going to sew down.

You could also take the seams apart and take it in that way, but you don’t really need to. I sewed up the little holes on the back made by my safety-pinning. They were small enough that I could sew them up and the shirt wouldn’t really suffer aesthetically. You can cut out the material you don’t need anymore or leave it in.

Taking in a shirt to suit your body is going to make you look better when you dress. Shirts and pants are made from one pattern, not the pattern that would suit our bodies. So if you have a shirt that you feel is really ill-fitting, just take it in yourself. It’s going to make you feel a lot better about wearing that shirt and a lot better when you’re dressed.

My cami I like to wear under this shirt also has a problem. That is right, the strap is broke 😦 . For over the past year it’s been this way. I just safety-pinned it and left it that way. I know, I know I am like the queen of safety-pin alteration, but that is going to change.

To fix a broken strap lay the good-side of the strap against the good-side of the shirt where it’s supposed to attach. By doing this we get rid of ugly frayed edges that would be showing in the front if it was done a different way. Arrange everything as shown in the picture. Then sew through it several times. This is made of modal and it’ stretchy. So make sure it’s sewn up nice and tight.

It’s a good idea to use a thread the same color as the cami you’re fixing.

Next, I laid the now fixed cami flat on the sewing machine. I am going to sew across it again. This time using a zig-zag stitch. I just wanted to give it a little extra strength since it’s been broken before. Sewing across the strap zig-zag several times is also going to tame some of those fraying ends that came about because the strap broke. Once I have done that it’s finished!

Here they are together! I admit, I am not really a fan of button up shirts. Most of the time they look sloppy because they don’t fit right. It makes a world of difference to have button-up shirts that fit correctly. I know there isn’t much of a difference in the photo, but it made a world of difference when I tried it on.

The killers of cami straps are the washing machine and dryer. The straps can get tangled up in other laundry and that is how they break. That is how all of my cami straps I have ever had destroyed have been broken. The laundry is a dangerous place for clothes. I don’t have any advice to prevent this other than suggesting that you put your camis in a mesh lingerie wash bag when doing the laundry. I don’t do that, but you could if you were really worried about the straps breaking. It’s a really good idea to put your underwear in a mesh bag though. Bras can be expensive and no one wants to open the dryer to a broken bra strap. Maybe I’ll do a wash bag later as a project.

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