Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sewing...My New Hobby

I received a sewing machine as a gift two years ago. It was a Christmas gift from my in-laws. Cheryl is an amazing seamstress. She cans make anything. She gave me a sewing lesson and taught me how to use the machine.

 Sad to say, ever since it's been in the closet collecting dust. I finally pulled it out and dusted it off. I thought if I look at it long enough I will eventually learn to sew.

It has been the perfect time to learn to sew since I've been trapped inside the house by the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes. It has even been too hot to cook!

I decided to start with pillowcases as a quick and easy project. Simple rectangles seemed like a perfect beginner project. Of course, I had to take my machine to Cheryl to learn how to work it again and how to cut fabric. Before long I got the hang of it and  I had these beautiful pillowcases within a couple of hours.

Our bedroom really needed some color and these funky, colorful pillowcases really gives the room some style.

The fabric is from Amy Butler's Belle collection. I have fallen in love with all Amy Butler fabrics. They are gorgeous and have a vintage look!

I found a wonderful store in Atlanta, Intown Quilters, that carries a huge selection of Amy Butler fabrics as well as other designer quilting fabrics. The store is amazing! I could spend hours in there. It was really difficult to make a decision. Tons of inspiration!

 They also offer sewing classes and have quilting groups.  Visiting this store, of course, has piqued my interest in quilting.

I also bought  a couple of yards of this Amy Butler Midwest Modern 2 fabric.
I used this fabric to make the  Heather Ross Mendocino Sundress. You can download the pattern for free from her website. The pattern looked easy enough for a beginner, so, I thought I would give it a try on my own. I emailed the dress pattern to Kinko's. For about $6 they printed it to size and I  picked it up an hour later.

 The pattern had pockets but I decided to leave the pockets off of my dress. The top of the sundress has smocking which is  made by sewing rows of elastic thread. Once rows have been sewn, spraying the top of the dress with water and ironing the elastic thread causes it to shrink up giving it the elasticity. Washing the dress will also help it shrink up.

The finished dress:

I was going to make the dress strapless, but  it is not quite snug enough on top.  Eventually, I plan on adding some straps to secure the top, otherwise, the top of the dress will slide right down.

I'm digging the whole sewing thing. There is something very satisfying about creating something beautiful and learning a new skill. 

Next project: Amy Butler Lotus Quilt

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento cheese is a southern classic. My Aunt Betty gave me my first taste of pimento cheese as a child, an orange concoction spread between two pieces of white bread. My mom makes it when we are picknicking at the beach or camping. It's easy to make, it requires no cooking, and can fill up a bunch of hungry kids. Cheryl, my mother in law, makes it  too. They both have their own way, both equally good, but completely different. When we were in Atlanta a few weeks ago Cheryl had a huge bowl of pimento cheese in the refrigerator. It was a great afternoon snack spread on crackers, but also a delicious lunch on slices of homemade bread. You just can't beat that!

Since our visit I've been craving the stuff. I decided I wanted a big bowl of pimento cheese in the fridge too. I just like it being there. I can't get enough!

Pimento Cheese Spread, my way:

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
12 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, or pimento peppers
4 green onions

Shred the cheddar cheese in the food processor

Drain the pepper and then chop them up. I pulse them in the food processor.  

(Mom: I know it's not really pimento cheese if I'm using roasted red peppers and I should call it "Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Spread". This is the way I like it.)

Finely chop the green onions. I love the flavor of green onions, especially with cheddar cheese. And it gives some nice color to everything.

Now just add everything to the cheese.
I like a little fresh cracked pepper in there too.
Now just stir it all up. A fork works well.
Heavenly...it really is!

If you have never had homemade pimento cheese you are missing out. The stuff in the tub is just not the same.