Saturday, August 30, 2008

Basic Straight-Line Sewing

I hope you didn't run in the other direction when you heard sewing. Sewing is really a forgiving craft. You can easily tear out stitches and start all over, which- believe me I have done a million times- and often, you can't even see your mistakes when you turn the piece right-side-out. You really can do this!

I thought I'd begin my weekly craft and sewing posts with the very basic of basic stitches, the straight-line stitch. Easy to master, straight-line sewing opens the door to a multitude of projects such as pillows, tote bags and placemats.
We'll be tackling those projects and more in future posts, so I hope you'll subscribe to Make it from Scratch using the buttons in the left-hand column and visit often. Here we go!
For starters, you'll want to make sure your machine is plugged in. I have a bad habit of sitting down only to get right back up and plug it in since I leave it unplugged for safety. You never know when one of my boys might decide to go all "Martha" on me and whip out a potholder or something (wink). Seriously, though, kids like buttons and levers and they will press them!
On to the sewing! For contrast, I've used off-white muslin and black thread.

Place your fabric pieces together with the right-sides (the sides you want to look at when it is all finished) laying together. This will ensure that your seams aren't seen when its done.

Place the fabric under the presser foot, lower the presser foot lever and, using the wheel on the right side of the machine, sink the needle into the fabric. Push down on the foot pedal and sew a few stitches forward- about 1/2 an inch or so. At this point, you'll want to stop and without lifting the presser foot, press down (depending on your machine, you may have to turn a knob) on the reverse lever and 'back stitch' to your starting point. Let go of the reverse lever and begin stitching forward right over the two layers of stitching you've just made.

After a couple of tries at this, you'll be able to back stitch without stopping. Just press the lever and release while you continue to push the foot pedal. Back stitching reinforces the ends of your stitches and keeps them from coming undone. Its kind of like putting a staple in the end of your line.
To keep your line of stitches straight while you sew, line the edge of the fabric up with one of the marks on the plate next to the presser foot (shown in the first photo). This will keep your line straight along the outer edge of the fabric and give you the same 'seam allowance' the entire length of your fabric. This is important when sewing with a pattern, especially when making a clothing.
When you reach the end of the line you want to sew, you'll need to back stitch all over again to hold that end together.
There you have a simple, straight-line stitch! You did it!!!
This is what it will look like when you turn it right-side-out.
Heather is a wife, mom, school cafeteria worker,
councilwoman and babysitter from Ohio.
She also blogs at Its All for the Best
and The Fat Bottomed Girl.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

To Make Syrup

Big home cooked breakfasts are always a favorite. I spent my elementary school days living on a farm. Eggs and potatoes were standard breakfast fare then, but special breakfasts were pancakes. Sometimes we had store bought syrup, but most of the time homemade syrup was made to top our pancakes.

Syrup is very simple to make. In its most basic form, it is only sugar and water boiled. It takes a lot of time to get homemade syrup as thick as what we've become accustomed to from the commercial variety, but often I actually prefer a thin syrup, especially for fruit syrups. The flavor just soaks into the pancake better.

What we made most when I was young was brown sugar syrup. Different flavors can be made by adding fruit or flavorings. Here are a few recipes to get you started, but don't be afraid to create your own syrups using different ingredients.

Brown Sugar Syrup
2 C brown sugar
1 C water

Bring to a boil, stirring until clear. Boil longer to thicken.

Berry Syrup
4 C berries (blackberry, raspberry, strawberry or cherry)
4 C sugar
3 C water

Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain. If you'd like it thicker, return to the stove to boil more. I usually just use it without additional boiling.

Chocolate Syrup
2 C sugar
1 quart water
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB cornstarch
2 TB cold water
2 tsp vanilla

Boil sugar and water 5 minutes. Mix the cornstarch and cold water together. Then add chocolate, salt and dissolved cornstarch to the sugar water. Stir until smooth and cook for three minutes. Cool and add the vanilla.

Sumac Syrup
2 C sumac concentrate
2 C white sugar

Heat to a boil and cook for three minutes.
Make your own syrup all the time, or just in a pinch to save yourself a trip to the store. Use the syrup on pancakes or mix into milk, pop, or other beverages. A bottle of homemade syrup added to a basket filled with pancake mix and other breakfast items makes a lovely gift too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Guest Post Guidelines

Our posting schedule allows plenty of room to include guests posts. We welcome you to share your made from scratch ideas. Here are a few guidelines.

1. Keep it simple.
We are looking for basic projects or recipes, things a beginner could do.

2. Pick a good topic.
While all how to, made from scratch, do it yourself, articles are welcome, priority will be given to those on topics that we do not cover as frequently. We cover food and crafts on a regular basis.

3. Include a short bio.
Tell us a bit about yourself. If you have a blog, or other website, please link to it!

4. Submit.
Send your article to makeitfromscratch at

We will let you know when your article will be published.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

MIFS #78

It is party time for Make it from Scratch. The festivities are at Learning the Ropes. Some posts that I will be checking out for sure include: pita bread, ice-cream pie, t-shirt bags, and cute gifts for the holidays.

Enjoy this week's carnival.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

When Blog Carnival is down

This site has not been officially launched yet, but just in case you end up here trying to figure out how to submit a post to the carnival this week, I am putting this post up. Blog Carnival, the site we use to submit posts, has been down for several days. Please email a link to the post you wish to submit to makeitfromscratch at
The carnival will still be posted Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Join the Blogroll, See the Complete List, Get Buttons

Joining the blogroll is easy! If you are a member of the blogroll from Stop the Ride, please update your code with the new Make it from Scratch code!

1. Your blog must contain posts about making items from scratch. (cooking, sewing, crafts or others.)

2. Add the following blogroll code or one of the buttons below to your sidebar.

Then email makeitfromscratch at yahoo dot com with the words join blogroll in the subject line. Please include a link to the site you would like to add to the blogroll.

3. If the blogroll or a button is there you will be added to the blogroll!



Feel free to use these buttons on your page:

Thanks to Joanie at Nini Makes for making these graphics!

The Complete Blogroll

Participating in the Carnival

It is easy as 1-2-3! Here is what to do.

1. Post about something you've made from scratch. (cooking, crafts, sewing, or anything else.)

2. Submit your post using the blogcarnival form. You can post and submit anytime, but submit by Sunday to be included in the carnival to be posted Tuesday. Late posts will be bumped to the next week. Only one post per blog per week please! If the Blog Carnival site is down, please email a link to your post to makeitfromscratch at

3. Entries will be posted by the Carnival Host Tuesday mornings. The carnival host has the discretion to leave out posts that do not fit the carnival or that are not family friendly.

The host will email you the location of the carnival. Help thank the host and promote the carnival by linking back to the carnival and submitting it to social bookmarking sites. THANKS!

If you would like to receive notice of the carnival even when you don't participate, please subscribe to our feed via email or your favorite feed reader.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to Host the Carnival

Interested in Hosting?
It isn't hard, but it does take some time. Here are a few guidelines:

1. Anyone who has participated in Make it From Scratch is eligible to host.
2. Please announce at your blog that you will be hosting, and where readers can send their posts to be included.
3. Entries will be sent to a yahoo account. Details will be given to you the week before you host.
4. The host is the judge of whether a post is appropriate for the carnival.
5. Organize the posts anyway you like. Be creative and have fun with it!
6. Post "Make it From Scratch" Tuesday, and email everyone who has been included in the carnival.
The schedule can be found at the Blog Carnival page. Click on the "future hosts" tab. If you would like to host please email makeitfromscratch at with the url you will be hosting at and a date if you have a specific one in mind.

Header designed by Crystal. Thanks!