Author Archives: Christine Eclavea Mercer

Christine wearing cooling scarf

How to make a cooling scarf

The heat is dreadful in Georgia this summer. I can’t stand it. And I don’t wish to wear a goofy looking scarf or pay a fortune for a slightly less goofy one. So I made  one myself. As requested, here’s how you can make one too:

Christine wearing cooling scarf

Christine wearing cooling scarf

You need a rectangular piece of fabric. I used one left over from another project. It should be at least 42 by 12 inches. That will make a pocket large enough to accommodate a grocery or drugstore cooling pack. The hard ones stay cold longer. The soft ones, like shown below are slightly more comfortable.

Rectangular piece of fabric, folded in half lengthwise

Rectangular piece of fabric, folded in half lengthwise

Cut the fabric into a long rectangle 42 inches or more long, and 12 inches wide. Fold in half. Cut ends at an angle. I used a 45 degree angle.

Rectangular fabric, ready to cut ends

Rectangular fabric, ready to cut ends

 

Sew one side to form a tube, using a half inch seam allowance. Stitch one end closed. Grade the seams or you’ll have a lump instead of  point. Turn your tube right side out and press.

Closed end of cooling scarf before turning right side out

Closed end of cooling scarf before turning right side out

Hem the other side so that it is open, stitch and press. Grade the ends as necessary. I folded in the hem once, not twice to avoid bulk. If you want to machine wash, fold twice.

Open end of cooling scarf

Open end of cooling scarf

Sew a line of stitching across your scarf to form a pocket. This should be just towards the end that is closed, off center. Stitch across it again so the pocket is strong. I used a water soluble marker to draw a straight line.

Marking the placement of the sewing line to form a pocket

Marking the placement of the sewing line to form a pocket

Hand wash your scarf to remove the marker line. Your scarf is finished.

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Closet Cleaning

Now that the children are in school I endeavor to purge the house of unnecessary items. And to catch up on all the maintenance. I had planned to go to Home Depot and buy paint supplies, then spot paint to make the house more presentable; until I have time to paint the entire house properly.

But instead, I feel sick. So I have stayed home to clean out the closet. Here is my reward.

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Oh, I love when I get to have new shoes. It’s like they are new anyway. Because they have been in my closet waiting for my youngest child to be old enough that I do not need to carry her cranky self, fireman style over my shoulder out of a public place while she flails in full tantrum mode. I am finding that my desire to wear cute shoes is not working out very well, however. (The four year old does not cooperate. But, she is finally tall enough that I can reach her hand while wear heels.)

The other bonus to returning these shoes to the wearing rotation, is that I have broken them in already. I used to wear them out an about, and to work sometimes. So I don’t have to do the ridiculous walk around the house doing ordinary chores in heels routine. I realize that some people always wear heels, even while walking around at home doing chores. But I find myself needing to climb a ladder to clean the top of the cabinets and other activities which are unsuitable to heels.

I purchased two pairs of Rockport heels on clearance a month or two ago. And I have yet to break them in properly. One pair is booties, so they are more for Fall. But the other pair are cute crocodile stamped pumps. I took them to the dry cleaner and asked for rubber heel stops. And she gave them back to me the following week, unchanged, and said that the cobbler only had plastic. I am mystified by this. I have had many a plastic heel replaced with a grip-y rubber type of heel tip. And walking around my house in them without any traction is not going to work. We have laminate floors that are very slick.

I wore them to the T. J. Maxx, a store that seriously needs to rearrange the shoe department. Because if there is more than one person shopping in an aisle, it’s crowded and annoying. And this woman was glaring at me in a disdainful way, which is always somewhat amusing when the glaring person is wearing running shorts and a fake tan. Anyway, I’ve decided the main difference between nineteen dollar Rockport heels on clearance and the full priced ones that rarely go on sale is the rubber stopper. I need to find a cobbler. I am not coordinated enough to replace the heel tip without destroying my shoes, so no online ordering followed by do it yourself for this item.

I am using my own modification of the Fly Lady plan for the household cleaning. I love the Fly Lady. When I first moved into my house, I could not understand why when other people clean, the room sparkles. But when I cleaned, it looked better, but never perfect. So I checked out books from the library, purchased books and eventually downloaded the Fly Lady detailed cleaning lists. Finally, when I have to time to really clean every little bit of the house, it will actually sparkle. Blah, blah, blah. I am not affiliated with her site in any way – just a fan.

And now, I’m going back to cleaning the closet. There are treasures in there!

When Decorating Goes Wrong

I had this plan to finally hang a curtain in the half bath, cafe style. So that light would come in. But there would be privacy. Rather than anyone who happened to be on the deck being able to see you pee.

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Clearly that is not what happened. My ill conceived plan was that I would just get out this curtain rod, some hooks and a table runner that were languishing in the closet and make them into something useful. In ten minutes. While my children were sleeping.

But instead I realized the first curtain rod was actually not the mate for the brackets, but one of those that is supposed to hold a curtain that covers a glass door. But as it turns out, the curtain on the door that would use such a device mysteriously has no bottom sleeve and is hanging free. But it has the bottom brackets screwed into the door. The correct curtain rod, shown above, seems better suited to sheers. But I don’t have those. And I don’t have the lacy long runner thing that I thought I had that might look cute. I have this piece of canvas printed with a beef bourguignon recipe – this bull who represents dinner. And who is not long enough to act as a full length curtain, since I didn’t move the brackets. And who is in fact not giving a cool burlap, French General sort of look at all.

Also, bad lighting, and a swiffer contributing to my bad photography.

But hey, I found time to post! And tomorrow, I will have to locate something like an actual curtain, or maybe the missing table runner. Or just something not ridiculous.

Frozen Costume

How to Make a Frozen Costume out of stuff laying around your house.

Frozen Costume

Gather the following items:

  • A tutu dress. Blue if you can find it. Or any blue dress really. A tutu is just good because it’s ethereal looking.
  • Something to wear under the tutu dress. We own tights. But I prefer leggings, because why run your dance tights when you can be barefoot?
  • A cape. I made two of them, several months ago, when the theme was Red Riding Hood. We also had blue velveteen. Also, towels, scrap fabric or a tee shirt tied or safety pinned in front.
  • A tiara or crown. You can make one out of aluminum foil, cardboard, pipe cleaners or a headband. Mix it up with antennas.
  • A wand or sword. A spatula or other object that cannot be used as a weapon against the other princess.

Put all of it on your Frozen fan. Declare her Elsa or Anna (whatever color you used).

You can see that our costume is not anything like an exact movie replica. But it got the job done.

Zipper Replacement Raincoat

I found a great raincoat on clearance. It was obvious why it was on clearance. The zipper jams. However, some quick math suggested that I should buy it anyway. The math being 5 to 7 yards of windstop fabric, lining, and notions including a zipper would exceed the $60 for the coat. It would be cheaper to replace the zipper than to make a new coat from scratch.

how to replace a zipper

Two weeks later I found the same style coat, same lousy zipper, different color for $40. I bought it too.

That was about five years ago. And I just got around to replacing the zippers.
This was an intimidating project. In brief,

  • Baste layers together
  • Mark zipper placement
  • Remove old zipper
  • Baste new zipper in place, by hand
  • Sew in new zipper
  • Finish ends, by hand
  • Remove basting

It took me about four days with constant interruption to get the first coat done. I used a plastic zipper because the metal ones scratch my hands too much. And if you look very closely at the khaki coat you can see the old holes where I wasn’t able to line up the stitches exactly. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s obvious that the zipper was replaced. On the black coat, I couldn’t get a good picture showing that there are tiny holes running parallel to the new stitching.

stitching on eddie bauer raincoat

I used this tutorial from Simply Homemaking. But I didn’t have success with the zipper foot. The fabric bunched and puckered under it. So I used a walking foot. Using the walking foot, I could not get the stitches as close to the zipper. But I was still able to get the needle close enough to catch the zipper tape.

Since I really like to see a person in a garment on blogs, I had my nine year old take a few pictures. Unfortunately, I looked horrible in them, like someone looking up at a scary giant, me being the giant. I will try again, with a taller photographer. Seriously, bloggers, who is doing your photo shoots?

Delicious Ugly Soup

This soup tastes better than it looks. Sort of like split-pea’s tropical cousin.

Almost Tropical Soup

I have a 1 1/2 Quart Slow Cooker that I dearly love; because I can fill it up with soup ingredients in the morning, then head out to the gym or to run errands and return to hot soup for lunch.

Sometimes the recipe is tried and true. But often, it’s what’s in the house. Like my Almost Tropical soup. Does butternut squash grow in the tropics? I’m thinking no. But here’s the soup.

Ingredients:

  • 2 plantains, sliced
  • 1/2 butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 10 oz can of coconut milk or crushed pineapple

Directions:

Put first three ingredients into the slow cooker, set to low.  Leave for about six hours. Add coconut or pineapple. Puree with an immersion blender. Reheat if necessary.

Add any spice you like. I’m partial to ginger. But cumin and garlic work too.

Return with a Velveteen Doll Dress

After my long, unplanned blogging break I’m back. Around April, I became frustrated with my dysfunctional camera. And I realized that combined with all of the absolutely mandatory things I need to do, blogging became too much. But, I missed it – missed sharing and communicating with fellow sewing bloggers. And, I have a new camera.

I have been sewing in my absence (not as much as I would like). So, to catch up, here’s my latest labor of love, another velveteen doll dress for DD3.

DD3 was obsessed with the purple fabric. And I didn’t have enough of it to make a dress for her. So her doll was the next best thing. (The dress looks very blue in the pictures. But it is a vivid purple.)

I used a zigzag stitch to attach the ribbon belt.

American Girl Doll in Velveteen Dress

The lining is bagged toward the center. A lot of hand sewing went into this doll dress. If you look closely, you’ll see the slip stitch in the middle.

Slip Stitch Dress Lining Velvet Doll Dress

Instead of wrestling with a traditional hem, I bagged the lining to the waist.

The velveteen and lining (from a re-purposed shirt) kept slipping around. So I basted them at the armscyce, sleeve cap and top and bottom waist.

AG Doll Dress with Bagged Lining Hem

The fastening is velcro.

18 Inch Doll Dress with Velcro Fasteners