October 29, 2010

Easy Camera Case from Scraps


I always carry a camera with me, usually a small point and shoot.  However, on a recent trip to Texas I lost my camera case (along with my camera) and now my new camera doesn’t have any protection against my keys, phone and various other things it shares my purse with.

So, I decided to whip up a quick case to keep my camera a little safer. The whole thing took about 15 minutes to make (not counting the first case I made that was too small…errr!).


If you want to make one, you will need two scraps of fabric, fusible batting, some rickrack and a snap or a bit of Velcro.

1. Measure your camera.  You will need to cut strips of an outer fabric, lining fabric and batting all the same size.  To figure out what size you need, add the length of your camera to the thickness and double this number. Then add 1 1/2” for the flap and 1” for seam allowances.  This is the length of your three strips.  For the width, add the thickness of your camera to the width plus 1” for seam allowances.

My camera is 2 1/2” wide x 3” long x 3/4” thick so here’s how I figured out how big to cut my fabric:

2(length+thickness) + 2 1/2”  = length of fabric

2(3”+3/4”) + 2 1/2” = 10”

thickness + width + 1” = width of fabric

3/4” + 2 1/2” + 1” = 4 1/4”

I wanted my case to be pretty snug but you could certainly make yours looser.  I also used 1/4” seam allowances.  If you like to use larger seam allowances make sure you add that into your measurements.

2. Okay, enough math.  Cut a piece of your lining fabric, outer fabric and fusible batting according to the measurements you figured out in step 1.

3. Iron the outer fabric onto the fusible batting following the directions on the package.


4. Sew the outer piece with the batting to the lining, right sides together.  Leave one of the short ends open.  Turn the fabric right side out and push out the corners with a pencil eraser (or some other pokey but not sharp object).  Press your seams. This will also cause the batting to fuse to the lining fabric. Tuck the edges of the open end under 1/8“  (towards the inside) and press.  Top stitch the opening closed as close to the edge as possible.


5. Lay your fabric piece down, outer fabric facing up.  Place you camera on the fabric and fold the end up until the camera is covered.  This will be the pouch portion of your case.  You should still have one side hanging over for the flap.  Remove you camera and press the crease.

6. Sew the case side seams right sides together.

7. Cut a piece of rickrack long enough to go around your wrist plus 1/2”.  Fold it in half. Lay the ends of the rickrack on one side of the case opening.  Stitch it down.  Note: I think it would have worked better to angle the loop towards the middle of the flap so it would lay better when the fabric was turned.


8. Pinch the bottom corner of one side of the case and sew across 1/2” from the point.  Repeat with the other side.  This will give the case a rectangular shaped bottom.



Trim the corners and turn the case.  Press your seams.

9. Press the flap down and sew on a small piece of Velcro to keep it closed.


October 19, 2010

$10 DIY Light Box


It appears the sun has officially left Portland for a few months (like 8).  It’s too dark when I get home from work to take pictures with natural light and it has been too cloudy and rainy on the weekends.

So, I read a few tutorials on building your own light box.  Like this one and this one. It didn’t look too complicated.  I already had a stack of white foam core boards that I usually use to shoot pictures on.  I bought two clip-on lights at Target for $5 each, taped the boards together with packing tape and added a piece of tag board for a continuous back drop.  I used Reveal 40 watt bulbs. Update: I replaced the original lights with 2 clip-on fixtures with 120watt, full-spetrum flood lights from Home Depot. The fixtures were $8 each and the bulbs were about $10. They made a HUGE difference.

Here is a shot with the light box:


With light from a regular incandescent bulb on a piece of foam core (outside of the light box):


With flash:


Now, this light box is far from perfect but there is a blatant difference between pictures with and without it. It saves a ton of laborious editing time (More time for actual crafting!).

In the near future I will add some brighter lights and full spectrum light bulbs.  I also need to find a bigger sheet of tag board or fabric for the back drop.  I’ll keep you posted if anything works exceptionally well.

October 13, 2010

Gluten Free Carrot Cake


I picked the last of the carrots and beets from our garden today.


I’m sad that there won’t be any more fresh picked vegetables this year but happy to finally see some signs of fall.

beet leaves

What better way to celebrate this new season than with a carrot cake? We are trying to eat less gluten in our household and so this particular carrot cake uses gluten free flour. I have experimented with the recipe quite a bit and feel like the end product is good enough to serve to anyone, gluten free or not. 


1 cup raisins

1/3 cup rum

1 1/3 cups gluten free flour (see below)

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground clove

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained



Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8” round pans.

Heat rum and raisins in a small sauce pan until hot. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir in oil, eggs and vanilla.

Add carrots, nuts and pineapple. Drain raisins and add to the bowl. Mix gently until well combined.

Pour batter into pans and spread with a spatula.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until top springs back when touched or a tooth pick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.

Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove cakes from pans and place on cooling racks.  When cool frost with cream cheese frosting.  Sprinkle top with nuts.


Note: You can use commercial GF flour like Bob’s Red Mill.  It works just fine.  However, it’s quite expensive.  I buy flours in bulk from our farmer’s market and then make my own mix.  I like an oat based mix for this cake.  Keep in mind oat flour is a little nubby and probably wouldn’t work well for cakes with a fine crumb.

Gluten Free Flour Mix

(makes about 9 cups)

6 cups oat flour

1 cup tapioca flour

2 cups potato starch

6 tsp xanthan gum

October 11, 2010

Vintage Needle Books, Sterling Seam Gauge and Czech Buttons


A sewing box has been sitting on the dresser in our spare bedroom for a couple of years now.  It belonged to my boyfriend’s grandma.  In an attempt to procrastinate folding the laundry piled on the spare bedroom bed, I decided to have a look.  I wasn't disappointed. 


Not only did I put off my chores for an extra hour, but I found sewing lovelies from all across multiple continents and decades.  I thought I would share a few of them with you .


There was a couple of needle books from the 1950's.  This one still has all of the needles and the threader. 


I love the details in these needle books.  Each section is backed with colorful foil embossed with spider webs.  Yes, spider webs.  Behind the foil, the card is printed with an intricate white and blue design.  They are so, well, classy.  Especially compared to the needles I just bought that are wrapped in an impossible-to-open blister pack and prick my fingers every time I try to remove a needle.

There was also a sterling silver seam gauge and


metal, hand painted buttons from Czechoslovakia.  You know, from back when there was a Czechoslovakia.


I love the history behind each of these items and I can't wait to incorporate them into a project.

October 5, 2010

Sea Glass Necklace


I spent last weekend visiting my mom at the coast.  The weather was perfect, it was great to spend time with my family and I even got to squeeze in a little crafting.

beach glass 8

I wish I could say I found this sea glass on the beach but I didn’t. 

beach glass

I “borrowed” it from a dish on the coffee table.  Sorry mom.  It’s just a few pieces, right?

Anyway, along with my stolen sea glass, I used 28 gauge wire, some chain left over from this necklace, and a few jump rings.

beach glass 2

To make the necklace:

1. Cut a piece of wire approximately 12” long.  Wrap it around a piece of glass so that one end is about 1” and the other is about 10”.

beach glass 3

2. Using needle nose pliers, twist the ends together.

beach glass 13

3. Using round nose pliers, make a loop in the short end of the wire.  Wrap the long end of the wire around the loop a few times to secure it and trim the short end.

beach glass 11

beach glass 12

4. Wrap the remaining wire around the glass tightly, in different directions.

5. Tuck the end of the wire back through the last wrap and twist to form a second loop.  Twist the loop a few times and then wrap the remaining wire around it to secure it.  Trim the end.

beach glass 5

beach glass 6

6.  Once all of the glass is wrapped.  Connect the pieces with jump rings.

beachglass 7

beach glass 7

7. Add a 4”-6” piece of chain to each side of the necklace.  Add a clasp to one end.

beach glass 14

That’s it! Wear your sea glass necklace and enjoy a little bit of the beach even when you’re not there.

beach glass 10

October 1, 2010

Lentil and Collard Green Soup




4 strips of bacon

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, chopped

2  ribs of celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 cups green lentils

8 cups reduced sodium chicken stock or broth

1Tbs dried thyme

1Tbs dried oregano

1 bunch collard greens, thoroughly washed and chopped

pepper and salt

parmesan cheese, grated


In a large kettle or stock pot, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and starting to crisp.  Remove bacon to a paper towel.

Add vegetables, garlic and herbs to pot.  Cook in bacon fat until vegetables are softened, 7-10 minutes. 


Add broth and lentils to pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.  Cover with lid ajar.  Cook 30 minutes.

Stir in greens. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook an additional 15-20 minutes until lentils are tender.  Serve with parmesan and crumbled bacon sprinkled over the top.