Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fertilizer Affecting Our Water Quality

Nothing says Spring and Summer like the color green appearing everywhere.  The massive use of phosphorus fertilizers is a common  ritual and is currently drawing a lot of attention.  Phosphorus use worldwide is affecting our quality of life.  The countdown to Summer correlates with the smell of lawn fertilizers in many places.  Are they helpful, necessary and healthy?
The Feb. 14 edition of the journal Environmental Research Letters featured an article written by Stephen Carpenter of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Elena Bennett of McGill University.  They have discovered that the human use of phosphorous, primarily in the industrialized world, is causing the widespread eutrophication of fresh surface water. Add to that he discovery that global stocks of usable phosphorous are concentrated in just a few countries and are running out, posing the risk of global shortages within the next 20 years.  You can read the article here.

The overuse affects the quality of our water.  ”Phosphorous stimulates the growth of algae and weeds near shore and some of the algae can contain cyanobacteria, which are toxic. You lose fish. You lose water quality for drinking.” says Carpenter.  North American soils are already loaded with the mineral, yet more is added in what seems to be a waste of a mineral that could be put to better use somewhere where the soil is deficient, like Africa and Australia.
Deposits of phosphorus take millions of years to form.  Some statess have taken the water quality issue seriously enough to propose and or pass a ban on using lawn fertilizers for established lawns.  Read about it here and here.  So before you spread fertilizer this Spring, research this issue and consider using phosphorus free fertilizer to keep our water clean and healthy for ourselves and for future generations.

This article is reblogged from

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ginger  Hendrix from Wiener Dog Tricks shared this with Sew Mama Sew over a year ago.  I made using it up in no time using  voile from Anna Maria Horner.

This lovely little number flies together with just a few pieces and not all that much measuring.
TL10GSSN1.jpg title=
1. Gather the Goods.
spacer Nice soft cotton is wonderful for this nightie–you’ll want right around a yard and a half of fabric. In terms of extras, it’s begging for some trim and a few buttons to give it extra hoopla.
And then get to cutting:
  • Chest piece: Two strips.
    Width = Your Bra Size + 1 inch
    Height = 5 inches
    A note about piecing fabric together: If you need to scrap pieces together for these strips, just make sure you don’t have any funky seams running up the middle of the front. That’s just not pretty. Hide your piecing in the back. I’m just saying.
  • Body piece: One big chunk.
    Width = 1 ½ times the width of the chest piece (For example, if you use a Chest piece that’s 40 inches wide, your Body piece will be 40 + 20 = 60 inches wide.)
    Height = 30 inches X Your Hoochie Girl Factor (Take your willingness to show your backside and divide it by 12.)
    Just joking.
    The 30” number is a decent starting place, but hold up the fabric chunk right up to your chest and see what you think. Make it longer if you’re not that kind of girl; shorter if you are. Also—it’s always easier to hem than it is to add some weird trim to cover what you don’t want showing. Just a thought.
  • Straps: Two little strips
    Width = 1 inch
    Height = 18 inches
    (Throw a piece of fabric over your shoulder to get a sense of the length from the top of your shoulder blade over to the top of your, um, upper self. Again: better to start long and adjust.)
  • Trims
    You may want a few buttons, a length of ric rac and some hem tape if you’re inclined to fancify your nightie—but they’re not strictly necessary.
2. Ruffle your Body piece.
spacer Take your big Body piece and baste a nice, wide stitch with loose tension down the length of the fabric–about ¼ inch from the long edge. Then run another one along next to it. Make sure you let some thread hang loose from the ends—you’re going to skrinch the fabric up with that thread. (And before you start pulling, mark the center of the fabric—this will help you eyeball whether or not the gathers are mostly even and keep you from having a wonked nightie with 1000 gathers on one side and all flat on the other.)
spacer Take two threads and hold them lightly and pull so that the fabric gathers. Then skootch the gather toward the center. Keep doing this gently. (If you bust the thread you have to start over and that’s a mega-drag, so go slow here.)

Gather the fabric along the full length of the body piece so that it matches the width of your chest piece. (Just keep skrinching and un-skrinching until they match.)
3. Attach the Chest pieces.
spacer Start with a little handy ironing work: on one long side of each Chest piece, fold the edge over ½ inch and iron it down toward the backside of the fabric. (This will help later.) Like this…
Now put it all together: make a sandwich with your Body piece and your two Chest pieces (right-side-facing-in-with-ironed-edges-facing-down Chest pieces = bread; ruffled-edge-up Body piece = bologna).
spacer If you want to add in a little ric-racy trim, now’s your moment. I’m not a big fan of perfect pinning, so I like to sneak it in as I go. Line it up like this inside your sandwich on top of the right side of the chest piece– Just lay it along the bottom stitch…
spacer Your sandwich will look like this (with another chest piece hiding beneath and the ric rac hiding inside…).
spacer Now sew it all together along the pinned edge with a nice, sturdy stitch. (A note about the ric rac–shoot to sew right smack down the middle of the ric rac and it’ll give you a lovely little edging.) When you fold the chest pieces up, it’ll look like this.
spacer Now lay down a little topstitch. Lovely.
4. Add the straps.
spacer Before you start trying to sew up the dainty little straps, fold up the two chest pieces to meet at the top, and pin them together.
spacer Now to assemble your straps: take your one-inch strips and pretend like you’re making skinny little bias tape– Fold the edges to meet in the middle, then fold the whole thing in half longways. And sew it up…
spacer Your finished straps will be longer than you need them to be so that there’s room to adjust them to fit just right.
spacer Time to find the center point of your nightie and attach the straps, so find the middle and pin it.
spacer Measure 5 inches in both directions out from the center point to attach one end of each strap. Then measure 5 inches in from both outside edges to attach the remaining end of each strap.
Once you’ve got it all pinned in place, run a basting stitch along that top edge to hold your straps in place. Basting stitch? Yes. We’re working with fit-as-we-go here, so baste it and try it on like a painter’s smock; this is a crucial step, because if your straps are too long or in the wrong spot, you can accidentally look like you’re wearing a feedbag with pretty strings attached. This is not the look we’re going for.
Now it’s all just adjust-it-to-fit-you-honey and some gussying up and you’re done. Figure out how long your straps should be (you’ll be trimming your strap pieces–get that chest piece to sit right up under your armpits so that you can avoid the aforementioned feedsack/pretty strings scenario.) If you need to skootch the straps a little to the left or a little to the right, get that done too.
Once you’re sure of where the straps should live, run a nice, clean topstitch close to the top edge. Good work.
spacer 5. Sew it all up.
Once you close the main back seam together, you’re just about home. So do that. Fold the thing in half (with the wrong side facing out) and sew it up.
spacer 6. Give it a little hem.
My favorite way to do this is the old ‘The Iron It Over 1/4″ Then Fold It Over Again As You Sew’ method. You can’t beat it.
spacer 7. Fancy it up if you feel like it.
This is a completely optional step for Nightie Overachievers. Add a couple of little buttons and some hem tape to cover your inside seams to give your little number a truly finished look.
High five. You’re a Bona fide Nightie Maker. (Put it on your resume.)