Monday, January 28, 2013

Nook Tablet Case

So, I think that, with everything in life, it is just as important - perhaps MORE important - to talk about our "failures" as well as our successes. Today's post is about one of those failures. Though this was not a complete disaster (complete with cussing, hair pulling, frustrated moping or anything), it didn't turn out the way I envisioned in my head, probably because I am just learning to use a sewing machine and I don't know a whole lot about seam styles, techniques, or even how to adjust thread tension, which has been a constant sore spot with this sewing machine.

Anyway, I have wanted a case for the Nook Tablet that my Tommy Lee bought me for my birthday last year for quite a while now. But I couldn't find a case that I really liked and I knew that I could make one if I put my mind to it and ever found the time. After spending the last two weeks armpit deep in a graphic design project for a joke writer in Las Vegas and prepping to go into full-on production mode on a friend's book project, I decided to take a day off. So, this lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided that I would finally make the Nook case I had been planning in my head for almost a year. 

Lately, I have really been into recycling cardboard boxes that have been building up since Christmas. I don't want to haul them to the dump or burn them since most of them are sturdy shipping boxes, so I have been making things out of them, like a set of three toy boxes out of diaper boxes, a project that took a few hours a couple weeks back:

From This....
...To This!

But I digress. Anyway, so this project, too, started with a cardboard shipping box:

I just put the Nook on it and drew around it to make a template, and then cut out the cardboard I needed.

I had a couple bundles of quilting fabric in awesome Atomic Age, retro prints, so my baby girl and I chose what pieces we'd be using:

After deciding what pieces went where and for what purpose, I figured out my measurements, which are as follows:

  • 4 pieces, 6"X9" (cover fabric and lining fabric; I used two different prints, so, two of each for me, but if you're using the same fabric, then you'd still need four, just all four the same fabric, obviously)
  • 2 pieces 5.5"x3" (pockets)
  • 2 pieces 5.5"x1" (pocket trim)
  • 1 piece 3"x9" (spine)
  • 8 pieces 1"x6" (cover and lining trim pieces for top and bottom)
  • 4 pieces 1"x9" (cover and lining trim pieces for side edges)
  • 2 pieces 1.25"x3" (pieces to hold the Nook in place)

A side note here: my spine was a little too wide. if I were doing this again, I would cut it at 2.5" x 9".

So, anyway, I started cutting fabric, just using my cardboard templates as a guide and giving my self about half an inch on all sides for seam allowances:

Then, I started laying out the pieces, starting with the cover fabric and spine:

And then laying the lining fabric and pockets on top, just mocking everything up:

And then mocked out the trim pieces:

And then cut out the fabric for the straps that would hold the Nook into the case:

Though these are bright orange, in the end, when it came time to sew them in, I swapped them for the brown patterned fabric, as I liked it better than the orange.

Anyway, next, I started sewing the trim pieces on first, folding the trim pieces in half and sewing from the outside (showing) side:

 I just folded the trim pieces over so the seams wouldn't show. Then, I trimmed the pockets:

And hemmed the raw pocket edges:

While doing this, it occurred to me that just the cardboard inside the fabric might be a little hard, so I grabbed a piece of thin packing foam I had saved and cut out pieces to put on both sides of the cardboard:

Next, I sewed the pockets onto the left-hand lining piece using a zigzag stitch:

With all the pockets and trim sewed to the lining, I started assembling the thing, and this is where, dear readers, you're going to get fewer pictures of the process, as I realized that this project wasn't going to look quite the way I envisioned. Anyway, before sewing, I ironed the pieces so that there wouldn't be any wrinkles and so the the trim would lay flat while I stitched it together:

And then I started sewing the outside to the inside:

Once I had two pockets fully assembled and the holders for the Nook sewed on to the right-hand lining, I stuffed the insides with the foam and cardboard, making a cardboard sandwich between the two layers of foam:

And then I started sewing the thing together, and it was then that I realized several things, all at once:

  1. I had cut the spine too wide;
  2. I had allowed too much for seam allowances on the edges of the cover and lining fabric;
  3. The way I did the trim around the outside was COMPLETELY wrong;
  4. I wasn't sure I liked the contrasting orange thread showing.

So, I stopped taking pictures of the process and just focused on getting the thing put together. After sewing the two covers to the spine, I hand stitched a brown ribbon closure to the outside edges and stuck the Nook inside:

In all honesty, outside of the fact that it is a little larger than I anticipated, and it looks handmade and not professional - what can you expect from a beginning seamstress making something without a pattern while learning to use a sewing machine - it's actually not all that bad. I actually really like it - still like it a lot better than the covers you can buy - and I am pretty proud of myself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup
A favorite dish around my household is my Baked Potato Soup. This is a dish that, i would suppose, a lot of people make, but I had to try my hand at it with my own recipe after hearing about a version a restaurant made, but didn't have at the time I visited.

Much of this recipe is just common sense - such as parboiling the potatoes before starting the soup - but it has a few twists, too. I've kept it simple in the recipe here, but, as you can tell from the picture, I like to top mine with green onions, if I can.

Now, to keep my family from bogarting all the bacon bits, I put them in the soup prior to serving, but you can certainly put the bacon bits into a bowl and let people self serve, or just sprinkle some on top with the cheese and sour cream. To really amp up the flavor you could substitute a few cubes of chicken bouillon for the chicken broth. I've had it both ways, and it's equally tasty, but if you're avoiding salt, stick to the broth method.

I've put the recipe on one of my recipe cards that I made recently, and made it into a PDF file for easy downloading and printing onto card stock. Enjoy! Here's a preview image, though the quality looks horrible here, it's a lot nicer in the PDF, I promise!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Retro Style Recipe Cards - Free Printables

So, ever since I moved into the new place, I have wanted to organize my recipes, which are currently just clipped together pieces of magazines, printer paper, notecards and labels. Alas, I have not yet managed to do this particular task, but I have managed to create some nice recipe cards if I ever get to the point in life where I don't have to make appointments to use the restroom.

So, I thought I would share these recipe cards with y'all. They're all retro styled cards with stripes, circles, and rounded rectangles in modern colors. Feel free to share away, too. I've put them all into sets: 6 cards with retro circles; six cards of retro stripes; and three cards of retro rectangles. They're available as 300 DPI PDF files, below.

Each card is 4" x 6" when printed out and trimmed to size.

Download the Retro Circles Recipe Card Collection (PDF)
Download the Retro Rectangles Recipe Card Collection (PDF)
Down load the Retro Stripes Recipe Card Collection (PDF)