How I’m teaching myself to sew

My Creation StationI’m very new to sewing, like 6 months new. Although I dabbled a bit when I was 10 and again in junior high in home ec (that Smurf Pillow was the bees knees), I would not call myself an intermediate seamstress. I’m more like a novice with the training wheels off. I have the skinned knees and bruises to prove it. To teach myself more about the craft of sewing, I solicited the help of many blogs, YouTube, books, Craftsy and DVD tutorials. Since I was determined to take my craft to the next level, I enrolled in Moore College of Art and Design Fashion Studies program this spring.

All that learning aside, there is one book in my arsenal that I swear is what inspires me and gives me really good guidance, Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp. This is a great little primer on all things sewing; from building a sewing kit and identifying the parts of a sewing machine to demonstrating various seam finishes and fabric choices for any project. Aside from her conversational writing style and the level of detail presented in this book, it comes with 10 paper patterns to get you on your way to sewing some new garments, home goods and crafts. So far I’ve made the Tokyo Bag, the wrap skirt and the naughty secretary skirt (it’s just an A-line skirt, nothing naughty about it). In addition to the great crafts and patterns, there is a wealth of information of techniques, step-by-step guides, and other very helpful information.

I’ve even written an Amazon review on the book. If I didn’t think the book was worth a look if you’re new to sewing, I wouldn’t recommend it.

In addition to this book, here are a list of books, blogs, YouTube channels, fabric and notions stores and classes I recommend if you too are teaching yourself to sew.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, just a few that I recommend to get you started. The more you dig around the Internet, they more information you stumble upon. As with all information you find on the web, use what you need and discard the rest.


More Fabric Savvy: A Quick Resource Guide to Selecting and Sewing Fabric by Sandra Betzina
The New Complete Guide to Sewing: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making Clothes and Home Accessories by Reader’s Digest
The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen

Blogs (where it all started!)

YouTube channels

FashionSewingBlogTV  (My GO TO!!!)

Fabric Stores
Fleishman Fabrics in Philadelphia (Very Knowledgeable- brick and mortar store)

And 30 more great online fabric stores to boot!

Classes (In Philadelphia)
Moore College of Art and Design- Fashion Studies ( I study here now!)

My latest class project

My latest class project

30 More (and Then Some) Great Places to Buy Fabric Online


I’m always on the lookout for great online fabric stores. This blogger, Christina has done all the work for us. If you know of some others, please comment below. I’m going to start checking these places out and hope for some great finds.

Originally posted on The Humble Nest:

By far the most popular post on this blog (I’ll be honest, it’s the one that brings in almost all of the traffic) was the post I did on great places to buy fabric online . I got dozens of responses from readers about other online sites they loved and felt should be included, so I decided to revisit the topic and post some of the reader favorites that I didn’t originally include on my rather limited list. If there are other sites that you think should make this newer list, let me know and I’ll add them! And here they are, in no particular order.

UPDATE: I do appreciate all the feedback, but many of the sites people suggest were covered in my original post. Please look there, too: 30 Great Places to Buy Fabric Online. Also, please keep the comments and suggestions civil. There’s no need to…

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Shrimp and Spicy Garlic Sauce

Aroma 10 cup Rice Cooker I have been coveting a larger rice cooker and a bamboo steamer for some time. Since I sold my old iPhone to Gazelle, they sent me an Amazon gift card in return. That was right on time, so I used it to purchase the Aroma 10 cup (uncooked) 20 cup (cooked) digital rice cooker and food steamer. The best of both worlds in one appliance.

You know when you have a jones for something particular, well, shrimp with garlic sauce was on my mind since the weekend. We ordered takeout Saturday night and I ordered Shrimp with Garlic sauce from the local Chinese restaurant, New Kin,  and it was DELECTABLE. Sadly, they only use white rice but, I usually keep brown rice in the fridge. I’d only ordered a pint and it wasn’t enough for a full second serving the next day.  That’s when I  began to scour my cookbooks and the Internet in search for the perfect recipe. The flavors were fresh in my mind, the chilli peppers, the slightly sweet tinge, the sesame oil, the perfectly steamed broccoli; I knew just what I was looking for. When I found the Appetite for China web site that listed the simple but potentially similar recipe, I knew I had to try it. shrimp-garlicsauce2

I took a few liberties with it as with all things I cook. Here is my take on AFC’s recipe.

  • 1 pound of shrimp. Uncooked, devein and tails off. (I used medium)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce (Mae Ploy is sweet but regular is perfect)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 2-3 Stevia packets
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic
  • cracked black pepper
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 dried chilies
  1. Prepare shrimp and set aside.
  2. Mix soy sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil, rice wine and stevia and set aside
  3. Heat wok on medium and EVOO, saute the garlic for 30 seconds or more. Add shrimp and saute for 4 minutes.
  4. Turn heat down to low, add dried chilies and sauce and mix to coat all the shrimp. Grind freshly cracked black pepper on top.
  5. Serve over brown rice and steamed broccoli. Top with 1-2 tablespoons of scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

For the broccoli, I used 2 heads, washed and cut. Followed the directions on the steamer by setting to 8 minutes, adding 3 cups of water, adding the broccoli and let it go. It was perfectly, did I SAY PERFECTLY steamed! I can eat this everyday for the rest of my life!!!

I cooked 2 cups of uncooked brown rice in my older, smaller rice cooker. I wasn’t making a large quantity so it was perfect for just this meal

Leg warmers, yes…it’s that cold

As I was walking my dog, Kima, my legs were freezing!! I have on workout capris under my pants (thermals are in the hamper) to keep warm, but the part that was exposed felt raw. I ran back in the house and got an idea. I had a cardigan that’s too large so I cut the arms off and used them for leg warmers. Problem solved!


I’ll even them up when I get home tonight & serge the edge.

DIY Shea Butter Hair and Body Souffle

Since beginning on that natural hair journey, I’ve read more on this topic than I’ve read for studying for the LSATs (sike). Well, pretty close to that much reading. I’ve been all over the Internets (yes, with an S); YouTube, Blogs, Amazon, Facebook, locker room chats, all of it. There is a lot of information about natural hair, but the common thread I found is, it depends.

It depends on your hair type, your hair needs, your hair length, your hair care regimen, your time, your skill, your patience, your diet, your fitness regimen, how you care for your natural hair all depends on YOU!

Now that we have that out of the way, I stumbled upon shea butter mix recipes several times on my journey. Since many naturalistas are also part-time chemists, making their own hair products seems like the norm. Well, I decided to give it a whirl.

For my first batch, I order a pound of shea butter from Amazon and raided my oil collection, then purchased some essential oils. Then I got to mixing. My first batch was half a tub and it was very stiff. I didn’t have enough supporting oils in it. I took the dud batch to the gym locker for after shower moisturizing. It’s too stiff for my hair as it leaves a thick haze in it. I took the other half of that batch and added some more oil. I was moving in the right direction. My huzzband even started using it and he liked how it felt on his shaved head and dry skin.

For the second batch, I purchased a pound from a Muslim stand near Broad and Girard Avenue and this time I made sure I added an ample amount of oil. This batch turned out PERFECT!

Here is my recipe for my second attempt at it:

  • 1 pound of shea butter
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2-4 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 2-4 tsp avocado oil
  • 1-2 tbsp jojoba oil
  • 2 tsp Vitamin E oil
  • Any essential oil 20+ drops

Mix with a hand blender until butter softens and blends. Add more oils to soften and mix until it’s light an airy. Add essential oils until you’ve reached your desired scent.

This will yield twice as much butter than you started with.

I keep some everywhere:

  • bathroom
  • car
  • purse
  • gym bag
  • nightstand
  • desk

It can be used in your hair, body, lips, hands, feet, elbows.. EVERYWHERE! This batch is like a fluffy heavenly balm. You can even by some really cute containers, make some awesome labels and gift some to your fellow curlfriend. She’ll love you for it.

Last Minute Jucing

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
― Hippocrates

I was literally running out the door this morning. I had a 6:00 AM personal training appointment with Char Biggs and I couldn’t miss it. I had a few minutes so I stopped to make some fresh juice for the day. I’d been juicing all weekend and I felt amazing. I didn’t want the great feeling to end so I filled up a bowl with vinegar water and started dumping in the goodies.

I made 2 juices today:

  • Carrot, Orange, Ginger, Spinach
  • Cucumber, Apple, Red Pepper, Spinach.

The carrot juice is so yummy! 5 carrots give it a really nice, smooth flavor. The cucumber juice is meh. I could have left out the half of red pepper, but I was just grabbing stuff & tossing it in.

All in all, I’m glad I stopped and took some time for my health and myself this morning. I know my body will thank me for it. Make it a great day.




After chilling in the fridge most of the day, the cucumber juice wasn’t half bad; dare I say, tasty, cool & refreshing!

Facebook’s Paper App for iPhone Is the Future of Facebook


I just downloaded the new Facebook app called, Paper on my iPhone and I love the look already. I’ll check it out for a bit and maybe even write a review.
So far, so cool!

   *note* There is aPaper for Facebookn app out there for iPad called Paper and it’s pretty sucky that Zuckerberg is squatting on an already established apps name.



Originally posted on Tech:

Last Thursday, Facebook announced that it was about to release an iPhone app called Paper. The app is now available from Apple’s App Store. If you use Facebook on an iPhone, you really need to try it.

That’s because the app — unlike other Facebook mobile efforts such as Messenger and the failed Snapchat knockoff Poke — isn’t a specialized tool or a side project. It’s Facebook — almost all of it, anyhow — rethought for a small screen, with 2014 aesthetics.

By calling it Paper and leaving the original Facebook app untouched in the App Store, the company smartly avoids leaving users feeling like radical, jarring change is being imposed upon them. But it’s hard to imagine that Mark Zuckerberg & Co. don’t see the ideas in this app as a first rough draft of Facebook’s future, period.

(Side note: For now, at least, I’m…

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Snowy Day Scrap Busters

We’ve had our share of snow on the east coast and today was no different. Since I’m snowed in, I decided to check out Pinterest and tackle some of the projects I’ve pinned.

Today I made 2 pin cushions. One that can be tied right to your machine the other out of a mason jar.


For the full tutorial on the Preferred Pin Cushion, visit Icandy Handmade.

I used tips from several different sites for the mason jar pin cushion. Visit Make it & love it for some good details.