Friday, January 31, 2014

Small Business Spotlight - Belli Phat

This year I'm going to be sharing small businesses with you.  I want to take that spirit of "Small Business Saturday" and spread it out all year long.  So without further ado, let's peek over at Belli Phat.  Each photo will take you to the listing so you may purchase anything featured in this post.

Let's start with how Belli Phat's owner Bellatrix Ali describes her store.
When I started belly dancing, I noticed that there weren't a lot of costume options out there for plus-sized dancers (which is the category I squarely fell into). And the options that were out there still had to be heavily altered in order to fit my specific proportions well -- afterall, when you're onstage performing you want to look and FEEL your best! 

Very frustrated with the market, I decided to teach myself how to sew & started making my own costume pieces. Almost immediately, I had other dancers (esp plus-sized dancers) asking where I got my costume items. When I told them that I made them, they excitedly asked if I would make things for them. "Oh, no, I'm not a professional seamstress", I'd reply. In the meantime, I had started sewing for my other troupe members as well -- which was great, as they were all different body shapes, so I got to learn how to fit garments & make patterns/pattern alterations. I loved learning new techniques!

Finally, after a few years of people asking me to make costume items for them, I felt comfortable enough with my skills to be able to say YES! And that was over six years ago... Now, Belli Phat is a business that I am pleased helps dancers *around the world* find costume pieces that they cannot find anywhere else -- and that, at times, make them feel more beautiful than they have ever felt. I cherish being a part of someone else's dance journey.


Now the whole store isn't reserved to just belly dance costuming. Thanks to shows like Downton Abbey fascinators seem to be the must have hair accessory.  Since custom orders are available you could always commission one for a special occasion.  The ones shown below range from $20.00 - $25.00.  If you ask me that is a steal!  I've seen some of these in person and the pictures do not do them justice.




If you are looking for gift ideas, look no further.  What young woman doesn't need a make-up brush holder?  I also love the fact that she shows it as a crochet hook holder too!  Isn't that just genius?  
What about an insulated curling iron holder?  Where was this when I had hair long enough to curl?  

Now I can't feature a belly dance shop and not feature some belly dance stuff.  I've often debated taking up dancing just so I could have the pretties.  
How pretty is that orange bra?  It is covered in orange assuit.  I'm not finding anything that pretty when I go shop.
I wanted you to see the assuit fabric up close in case you hadn't seen this fabric before.  Assuit fabric has been around forever, it's mentioned in the Bible, but I hadn't heard of it until I started photographing belly dancers.  

Now that you've seen a little of what Belli Phat has to offer go check out the full Etsy Store.  Also be sure to check out the Facebook page.  Bellatrix shares in progress photos and other fun stuff on the Facebook page.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Make a Custom Pattern

So you made the dress form, you even ran out and purchased all the stuff you need to make your apron, so now all you need is the pattern for the top right?  Great!  This will be painless, because I already went through the pain for you.

What You'll Need:


  • Your dress form (if you didn't make one get a friend to help mark the fabric on your body)
  • Pins
  • Measuring Tape
  • Cheap fabric (I got mine at Goodwill for 2 bucks a bolt, muslin will work too)
  • A marking tool - dress maker's chalk or marking pen
  • Masking Tape

First, plan out your pattern with masking tape.  This way you can get the general feel of the shape your top is going to take.  You'll also be able to make sure that you are going to cover what you want to cover. The inside will be your final size, the width of your masking tape will be your seam allowance.

You can either measure or eyeball how much fabric you need.  I just eyeball it.

Now cut a piece of fabric big enough to cover the area you are working on.

Place the fold of the fabric down the middle of your dress form.  Pin it at the top and at the bottom.

Now you need to mark your cutting lines.  I kind of fold the fabric back to see the outside edge of the masking tape.  Move the pins as needed.

Cut your pattern out.  Pin it back on the dress form.

Now is when you do the finessing of your top.  Depending on your body shape this may be just cleaning up some lines or if you are like me figuring out where your darts go.  I had to put a dart in because of that excess on the side.  The widest part of my body is my bust line.

Dart placement tip: Find the tip of your breast and mark it.  Measure out 1/2 inch (towards armpit) and mark again.  This is where your dart should end.

All top patterns are made basically the same way.  You can now make custom top pattern!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Camo Apron - Custom Fit

As many of you know I live in a very rural area.  Part of the cultural here is hunting, not for sport but, to put food on the table.  It's not one of my favorite things, I'll be honest.  I do love my husband's deer jerky.  I think I could eat a whole deer by myself.  It's that good!  And no I won't share the recipe, he won't even tell me how to make it so I know he's not going to share with the world.  In an effort to embrace some of what my husband and his son enjoy so much. I had originally thought I could purchase the apron I wanted or more precisely could get it as Christmas present.  Sadly, there wasn't one to be purchased. They don't make an apron for a full figured woman who doesn't want flour all over the girls.



Remember that dress form from last week?  That's what I used to make the pattern.  I'll show you Monday how to make a pattern.   I wanted an apron that fully covered my breasts.  I always have half a breast hanging out on each side.  Those don't really work to keep your shirt clean.  So I made a pattern that covered everything up top.  The downside was I had to put a dart in it but that's OK.  Let's get this project started.

What You'll Need:

  • 1 yard of fabric (you don't have to use camo, but this is what I used )
  • 1/4 - 3/4 yard of contrast color (1/2 yard if purchasing bias binding)
  • 1 inch wide Bias Binding (Made from 1/4 of your contrast color or purchased)
  • Thread matching contrast color
  • Pattern Piece for Top
  • Sewing Notions - scissors, pins, rotary mat, rotary cutter, iron, ironing board, etc.

The first thing you'll want to do is make the bias binding.  I used the method featured here.  I used an 18" square instead of two smaller squares.  I also used one of my Christmas presents, a bias binding maker.  They are handy tools if you want to make perfectly coordinated bias binding.  Set it aside.

All seam allowances are 1/4" inch unless otherwise stated.

Next cut out your top and skirt.  The skirt will be a rectangle, the width equal to the width of your top, and the length is determined by the length from your waist to just above your knee.  If your top needs a dart, now is the time to sew it in.  Now, we pin the bias binding on to the top and the skirt. There is no need to put bias binding across the bottom of your top or the top of your skirt.


Now you need to cut your "waistband".  I cut mine two inches wide from my contrasting color.  Sew your top, right sides together, to your waist band.


Now sew the skirt to the waist band, right sides together.

It's time to make the straps now.  You'll need two for the top and two for the waist.  I measured the width of the arm straps, this includes the ends of the bias binding, 1 and 3/4 inches.  I cut my strap twice that plus half an inch.  DO NOT FORGET THE HALF INCH, that's your seam allowance.  So mine were 4" wide x the width of the fabric.  They can be trimmed later if need be.  Do the same for your waist. Fold each strap in half, right sides facing, and sew, forming a tube.  Press the seam open.

Turn the tube right side out and press flat with the seam centered.

Now attach the straps.  You'll need to turn the end of each strap in a 1/2" inside so you end up with a clean edge.  Attach to your top and waist band as pictured below.  This also makes all of your edges clean.



I did a criss cross, left to right side and right to left side, back with my top straps.  I attached each strap at the waistband as shown below.  Trim the straps if needed.


CAREFULLY, line your needle up so you are stitching over the same stitches you used to attach the binding, through the waistband, and ending in the stitches of the bias binding at the bottom.  Do this for both sides.


If your waistband straps are too long cut them to the right length , turn the ends in and sew along the end to close it.  I left mine long so I could tie it in the front.  That's it!  You now have yourself a cute camo apron, to impress the men in your life.


Friday, January 10, 2014

DIY Dress Form

Today we are going to look at how we can make our own dress forms.  I have wanted one forever but just couldn't justify the costs.  I make some clothing but I don't make them all the time.  I am also fairly narrow shouldered and busty.  I hadn't found any standard dress forms that fit me and a custom one runs a little over $400.  Certainly, not in my budget.  So what's a girl to do?  Make one!


You'll need one for one of my upcoming blog posts.  So if you don't have one, whip one of these up while you wait for the post to come out.

I had originally pinned this idea almost a year ago.  It's now a paid subscription video.  It's not the version I ended up using anyway.  The thought of being wrapped up in plastic wrap and then duck tape made me a little claustrophobic.  I had been sitting on this idea for almost a year when I came across another idea.  I was looking for some tips on tailoring my husbands shirts when at the end of the video was a dress form idea.  Start the video at 1:39 for the dress form.



So here are some first hand tips.


  • You need some help.  Make sure your help is someone you are comfortable having touch you. The girls get rubbed a lot.
  • Go to the bathroom before you start.
  • Buy lots of tape.  At least 3 rolls, I used 2 and half.  
  • Go around with the tape, then up and down, and then around again.  Three layers of tape at least.  
  • If you want it to be pretty use a role of the decorative tape for the top layer.
  • Start filling it as soon as you are done.  The tape will start to pull away from the t-shirt.
  • Put a piece of PVC in the middle so you can put it on a stand.
  • Be prepared to have to start over.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas Review and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

I'm so excited to be writing this post!  I along with about fifty other bloggers have teamed up with King of Christmas to give one of our readers a $300 Amazon Gift Card.  More details about that later.  Let's talk Christmas at my house first.

So this year we did a small Christmas Eve get together.  It was all snack food.  I know not the healthiest of things but it was fun.  I also had some helpers in the kitchen so I got to do a little teaching too.  I really do enjoy helping others learn in the kitchen.  It was all gluten free too and no one knew!

So the first thing we made was homemade potato chips.  Super simple to do with a mandolin.  Scrub up your potatoes, slice them on the mandolin, and put them in ice cold water.  I usually just fill the sink and let them soak for about an hour.  Then drain them and fry them in 375 oil until brown.  Lightly salt them when they come out of oil.  So much better than the ones you buy in the store.

I made this French Onion Dip from Will Cook For Smiles. It was so yummy!  Quick, easy, and I got to show that French Onion Dip doesn't come in a package at the store.

I know that this Kool-Aid Popcorn from Tasty Kitchen is geared more towards kids but our grown kids love it.  It also might have burst their bubbles to find out that my flavored popcorn was done with Kool-Aid.

I found a copycat recipe for Jose Pepper's dip.  I think it's a regional chain so you may not be familiar with it.  It's a white queso with spinach  Even if you don't like spinach give this dip a try.  You can't taste the spinach, I promise.

The King of Christmas is being very generous in sponsoring the $300 Amazon Gift Card but that's not all, the site is currently offering 25% any Cyprus Spruce or Scarlet Fir tree and free shipping using the COUPON CODE 25offtree.  The site offers trees from 5 foot to 12 foot.  There's even a section for giant trees if you need one bigger.  What I really love is  that the site offers unlit Christmas trees.  For those of us who want to put our own lights on this is becoming a rare find.  I so wish I had known about the site a few years ago when I purchased mine.  Be sure to come back daily to make sure you get all your entries for the giveaway.



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Friday, January 3, 2014

Fleece Blanket Tips & Tricks

Finally, all the Christmas gifts are to their new owners so I can share what I've been up to for awhile now.  Over Thanksgiving weekend. JoAnn's had an amazing sale on fleece fabric and I stocked up.  I bought enough for each of my girl's night out group and this fabric for the kid, who is grown.  He'd been hinting about a fleece blanket forever.  I realized he really wanted one when he willingly went to JoAnn's with me and kept pointing out all the different patterns and how soft it was.
He's a deer hunter, and I got a lesson on camo from his dad.

Five blankets later and I've learned somethings that I thought I would pass along to you.  Just in case you ever want to do some yourself.  Each blanket was two pieces of fleece and they are sewn together, not tied.

You have to use some sort of spray basting to hold the two pieces together.  Otherwise things get wonky quick.  I had no basting spray in the house though when I started.  So what did I do?  HAIRSPRAY!  That's right just good ol' hairspray that all of us have in the bathroom.  Spray one piece of fabric until you can see the hairspray, it will glisten in the the light.  Then lay the other piece on top, rub over the fabric to make sure it smooth and it adheres to the other piece.  Wait about 10 minutes and you are good to sew.  When you are done just toss it in the washer and the hairspray comes right out.

Even though the hairspray holds the fabric together pretty well I didn't feel safe just letting it hold the two pieces together.  I also didn't want to pin the whole thing either.  So what did I use?  BINDER CLIPS!  Holds the fabric together well and there is no chance of you running over it with the sewing machine.  Well, I guess you could run over it but they are pretty big you should see them. 

Sewing through four layers of the fleece after it had been turned right side out was about all my newer sewing machine could handle.  The older Necchi that is in the house had no problems at all.  You'll have to trim your fabric up before you start so take some of your scraps and test your machine.  If all else fails, hand stitch it shut.  

I don't know if I'll ever take on five blankets in such a short time again but the ones who got them are happy and warm.  That's what really matters right?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top 2013 Posts

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year Eve.  Now that we've sent 2013 out the door, let's see what the most popular posts were here at Home Ec. with Mel.

1. Crafter's Tool Bucket Organizer

2. Plastic Shelf Makeover


4. Mod Podge Shelf Makeover


6. Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole



8. The Best Gluten Free Brownies




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