Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carved Creations

Today's non-sewing blog entry is all about our pumpkins.  Lauren and I carved our pumpkins before she headed off to a Halloween party last night.  We had a great time carving.  I'm really, really glad that she still enjoys hanging with her parents.  We have so many fun pumpkin carving and Halloween costume makin' memories.  I bet all of you do also - years of sewing costumes for your kids.

This year a costume was not requested, however, I got to do her hair and makeup - lots of fun for Mom.  ;)

So, without further ado, pictures of our carvings, with a few tips at the end.  Enjoy.

1)  For a more 3D effect, cut out a part of the design and reposition with toothpicks, such as the cat in the small pumpkin.
2)  Vaseline smeared on the cut edges help prevent wilting.
3)  Scraping off the skin to reveal the yellowish flesh underneath, as in the eyes and teeth of the large pumpkin, also add dimension to the pumpkin design.
4)  Small, serrated knives work best for carving the intricate parts of the design.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Epic Fail

Or, I shoulda known better.

McCalls 5695, a ladies glove pattern.

My daughter asked me to make a pair of long gloves from this pattern out of a poly satin fabric to wear with her Halloween costume Saturday night. Sure, I said, except it really needs to be a stretch fabric. Can't you make it work, Mom? In my defense, I was exhausted, and the fabric store was a literal zoo, kind of like the grocery the day before Thanksgiving or a hurricane.

We met the hubs for dinner, where I had a double shot of espresso for dessert, so I could stay awake to sew. Which is the reason I'm writing this at 1 am.

Upon reading thru the pattern instructions and inspecting the pattern pieces, I was slightly confused. The envelope indicates there are small, medium, and large sized patterns in the envelope. However, the only difference is sizing is in the length of the glove, ie, where it sits at the wrist. There were no cutting lines for small, med, and large with respect to hand width or finger width/length. So, you can have a longer hand with this pattern, but not a bigger hand in any other way. I can't imagine that using a stretch leather, as the pattern calls for, would provide enough stretch to fit very well for women with larger hands. However, there were shorten/lengthen lines on the fingers.

Other than that, the instructions were fine, as were the illustrations. Sewing gloves, even if one were to use a proper fabric, seems a bit tedious to me. The cutting out was even tedious. It's a challenge to get that thumb sewn to the palm, and the gussets in between the fingers, all in 1/8 in. seams. Perhaps with stretch leather it would be easier and less tedious. The fabric I used frayed terribly.

All in all, a PITA. I'll hit the costume store in the am an see if we can't grab a pair. No clue why I didn't do that to begin with...

I've mentioned before that we have a big fundraiser coming up. The work involved has been cutting into my sewing time, so there has been no sewing happening here. The event is next weekend, and when it's over, sewing will resume. It's a great event, and well worth the effort. I've got a number of patterns I'd like to get to in the ear future, mostly tops.

Since I have no fabulous sewing pics to post, how about a shot of my first ever Meyer lemons freshly picked off of my little tree. It's been a constant battle with the squirrels to keep my patio plants alive and well. The Meyer lemon tree initially had 7 little tiny lemons when it began to bear fruit. Luckily, these two survived the squirrel onslaught.

Even though there will be no sewing until after next weekend, I will continue to blog surf and enjoy everyone else's handiwork!

Have a wonderful weekend,


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday Night CLEAN In & a Trip to the Dog Hospital

I could not justify spending all evening in the studio when I'm soooo behind on a the stuff of life. However, I'm happy to report that I made really good progress today toward my self-imposed Fall cleaning & organizing schedule. I absolutely must regroup and get caught up on all the necessary stuff so I don't lose my mind during these next couple of very busy months.

This evening when I was all cleaned out for the night, winding down and getting ready to hang out and watch a movie with my family, DD discovered that Crystal was covered with hives.

Off to the Doggie ER - thankfully we have one just down the street. Crystal was a hivey mess, even though she had Benadryl for itching not 3 hours beforehand.

At the ER looking forlorn. Isn't she a sweetheart?

Hiding after getting her temperature taken. :-o

Crystal got IV steroids and is on the mend. We don't know what caused the hives, but we have a cople of theories. The steroids should get her through the night comfortably, which means we all get to sleep well.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone was sewing tonight, my vicarious pleasure when duty calls me away from the studio.

Have an amazing weekend!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Simplicity 2285 Cape

Since the weather is cooler, I thought I'd post about a cape I made at the end of last winter. I never actually wore it as our winters are short, and I didn't have good pictures. That happened to be my first ever review on Pattern Review, which I will update with better pics.

S2285 has been reviewed just a few times on PR:
Capes seem to be pretty popular right now in the stores.

Here are some pics from tonight after dinner. The upper right picture? We had just eaten the very best Mexican food in town! In taking these pics, I realized the cape is shorter in the front. I don't believe that was intended, but rather the effect of not doing an FBA. If you look at the picture of the back, you can see it comes to right below my bum. The shoulders are shaped, and fit nicely, but I did alter for that fit. This is unlined, and that's ok, but it would be so nice if it were lined.

The collage below are detail shots. I used snaps rather than buttons & buttonholes - the buttons are purely decorative. I have decided I dislike the buttons and intend to swap them out, or perhaps use a frog closure.

I don't think I will make this cape again, only because my next cape will be longer, closer to knee length, such as McCall's 5987, a sort of cape/wrap combo.

The pants I'm wearing are a grey Ponte from last year, Ann Taylor. They are comfortable and easy to wear. It's nice to pull out the cooler weather clothes and be comfortable in them. Ahhhh, love the cooler air.

My review of this cape on PR is here:. I will be updating the picture on my review.

Have a wonderful day,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stocking Up and Planning

No sewing going on, but here and there I've been stocking up both the pattern stash and fabric stash. Today I had 45 minutes free while waiting to pick up my daughter, so used that time Hancock's Fabrics.

I picked up several patterns that were on my wish list, as well as a couple pieces of fabric. They had a decent selection of Ponte - the poly/rayon/spandex type that I prefer. Of note, they had both embossed, printed, and solid. I picked up a cream colored solid. Exciting, I know, but I want to make a turtle/cowl neck top in off white.

Also in the off-whitish realm, I snagged an Ivory stretch lace, enough for a tee, but I have no immediate plans for it - I just liked it. I'm betting my daughter will have designs for that one.

Today's pattern purchases were all Butterick and Vogue. Butterick 5666 is a See & Sew pattern for a long sleeved, waterfall cardigan, the type that are so popular in RTW these days. I own a RTW cardi just like it in the yummiest fabric, and I'd love another. (And I'm pretty sure the one I have will soon be stolen by DD now that the weather is cooling off.)

Next is B5688, pretty jammies and nighties, specifically to use up some fabrics in the stash. Someday soon, hopefully.

B5695 is a glove pattern for costume purposes, for DD.

Vogue 1275 is a long sleeved, princess seamed T-shirt with ruching of the center panel. I am hoping the ruching works as camouflage in the Battle of the Bulge, if you know what I mean. The short sleeve version with shoulder ruffles does nothing for me.

Vogue 1279 made the cut, although I have no immediate plans for it, either. I like the princess lines of the jacket and skirt, which is the reason for the purchase. Looking at the pattern now, I realize there is no vent or slit in the back, which makes getting in and out of the car challenging. An easy fix, though, when I get around to working on this pattern.

Last night I couldn't sleep - all the things keeping me busy these days were whirling around my brain - so I shopped on my iPad until I fell asleep. So, I have more patterns coming...

Recently, Debbie Cook mentioned that she found stretch bengaline at JoAnn Fabrics, so I checked online and found it in some very nice colors. The packaging was very good, the shipping fast.
I have been hearing lots of positive reviews about the Style Arc Linda Pants pattern. SA recommends Stretch Bengaline for the Linda pants, and now that I have the fabric, I'll order the pattern. I'm looking forward to trying the Linda Pants.

As busy as the next few weeks are going to be, I am not expecting to have surplus time or energy left to sew. If I do, it'll be a bonus. :)

And before I turn in for the night, I just have to say I am so excited that a cold front is coming on through the area. It's sleep with the windows open kind of weather. It is supposed to be in the 50's at night and 70's during the day for the next few days. Glorious weather, and I love it!

Keep sewing, 'cause I'm living vicariously through you right now!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apple Love

Apples are a favorite food around here, and we get excited in the fall when the new apples start showing up in the market. I wanted to share some apple love and a couple of my recipes today.

Yesterday I met with my fellow committee members to work on baskets for our upcoming auction. I like to bring a snack for a mid morning energy boost. I had some homemade granola on hand, some organic Honeycrisp apples, and peanutbutter, so whipped up a snack for the group. They were delicious.

After slicing the apples, I spread one side with PB, then dipped the PB side into the granola. A really quick and nutritious snack. I know it's healthy because the granola is homemade - no unwanted stuff in it. Natural PB without added hydrogenated fats is my preference - there are several really good brands on the market.

**Look for the granola recipe at the end.

Last night I made mulled apple juice for movie night. I had picked up two huge jugs of organic apple juice - the murky kind with all the good stuff in it - for a really good price at Whole Foods, and some mulling spices. It's quick and easy - just simmer the apple juice or cider with mulling spices for a bit until the juice has nice color and aroma. Strain out the spices, or if you prefer, wrap them in cheesecloth to save on straining later. Mulling spices can be found in packets at the market in the spice aisle, or near the apples in the produce area. My house smelled wonderful!

This morning brought more apple love. I cut up some Granny Smith apples to make applesauce - we like the skins on.

These were simmered, covered, in a little apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and about a teaspoon of vanilla. I recommend tasting as your apples soften to adjust the sugar and cinnamon to your liking. Applesauce served warm is a family favorite, is so easy, and makes the house smell yummy.

But that's not all!

I pulled out a tube of crescent rolls. I like the Immaculate brand, which is organic also. Any brand will do just fine. I separated the triangles of dough and flattened them all. On half, I spooned a heap of the applesauce I'd just made. Then I topped with a triangle of dough, using a fork to crimp the edges. I used the pastry brush to fully cover the top with beaten egg to produce that nice olden appearance while baking. I'm sure you could also sprinkle coarse sugar on top, but I didn't have any.

Before baking.

Fresh out of the oven!

The result was fantastic. I wish there was such a thing as "scentiweb" so you could get a whiff of the wonderful appleicious odor wafting through my house.

As promised, here is my granola recipe.

Homemade Granola
⅓ cup real maple syrup
¼ cup honey
¼ - ⅓ cup of oil (canola, olice, grapeseed, safflower - whatever you have)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 - 5 cups rolled oats (not quick cook)
1 ½ cups unsweetend, shredded coconut (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shelled sunflowed seeds, raw
1 cup ground flax seed
[Improvise with any nuts or seeds you have on hand - just add them in.  I’ve used pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, etc.]
Dried cherries
Dried blueberries
Unsulfured dried apricots, chopped
Chopped dates
[Any dried fruit of your liking - I never make it the same!  I use whatever I have on hand. ]
The dried fruits will be added at the end.  I don’t measure, but rather add each until I’m happy with the amount of dried fruit in the granola.
Preheat oven to 350*
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and wisk until combined and warm.  
Combine all of your oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, and flax seed in a large mixing bowl. 
Add the warmed liquid mixture to the oat mixture.  Combine thoroughly.
Spread on baking sheets with rims like jellyroll pans, lined with parchment paper.
Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes if regular oven, about 20 minutes for convection oven.  Times vary, so cook until evenly golden brown. Every few minutes, stir the granola to prevent burning, and so the granola gets evenly browned.  Remove when done and allow to cool.  Add your dried fruits of choice and mix.  Store in an airtight glass or plastic container at room temp.
This granola is great on yogurt, as cereal with milk, with peanut butter, or just by the handful.  
**I prefer my granola on the not too sweet side, so add more sweetener if you prefer.

Enjoy!  If you decide to give the recipes a try, please let me know.  ;)


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Look 6083 Pants Muslin

NL 6083 is a pattern I am considering for a fundraiser coming up next month. I'm on the committee, which means I'll be on my feet all night. I mentioned previously that a heel fracture has kept me out of pretty shoes/ heels, hence the pants. I'm on the prowl for a nice crepe in a bottom weight for the pants. For the top, I have a pretty fabric in my stash.

Tuesday I made some alterations to the flat pattern. My voluptuous hips needed more wiggle room than this pattern allowed, and I needed to deepen the back crotch length as well. The crotch depth was right on.

Today I was able to spend a couple minutes in the studio sewing up a muslin. I have had a bunch of black satin in my stash forever - it frays like craaaazy, and isn't really good for much in the way of apparel. I have made shoe bags and such from the satin. Today it became a muslin.

I haven't put the waistband on, but don't really need to on the muslin. I didn't bother with darts either, but they will definitely be needed. I do intend to make one change at the waistband. The pattern calls for a side zip, but I'm planning a rear zip. I've got enough bulk at the hip as it is.

Here is a side shot - I was alone and it's the only shot I could get while holding up the undarted, no-waistband pants...

They feel like a good fit, and hang nicely, despite the icky fabric. I'll try them on one more time before I cut good fabric, as I just gave them a quick once over. While looking for the right fabric for the event, I may make a pair from a grey suiting fabric in the stash. I'm really loving gray lately. These are definitely a quickie, and nothing much to talk about with regards to the pattern. More on this one later.

In my world, as in most people with kids, once school starts, life goes by at a dizzying pace until after Christmas. Part of this busyness will settle down once our big fundraiser is over next month, just in time to gear up for the Holidays. Anyhow, my hubs threw me a monkey wrench the other day.. He emailed me (only because he doesn't text) to tell me we have a black tie shindig this weekend that we must attend. When I mentioned the short notice, he said, "What, I gave you a week." Yeah. I may have to hide some straight pins in his tux. Muhahahaha....

Not really having enough time to make an appropriate dress, I ran over to Nordstrom's yesterday and grabbed a LBD. I'm actually completely {shocked} that it fit with no alterations. It's a Ponte knit, one of my fave fabrics - wearing it now, actually (ponte, not the dress). The tradeoff is that it's a tad shorter than I like, but black hose will make it more comfortable for me. Other than being a basic LBD, it does have an interesting neckline. It is rare that I find a RTW dress appropriate for evening that 1) fits the girls, 2) doesn't need alterations, 3) can be worn with a bra, and last but not least, 4) covers my pacemaker scar and lump. I'm not particularly modest about the scar/bump combo (after all, it keeps me ticking!), but I do find that when I am in the company of people I haven't previously met or don't know well, it is a distraction. People tend to stare at it, or keep glancing at it, I'm sure just out of curiosity, but I find it distracting to conversation. It's about a cm below my clavicle and a few cm's to the left of center, so it's definitely hard to hide, and I'm glad I can hide it with this dress. All of the planets in the solar system must have been aligned to find this LBD on the first try. Seriously. I'll try to post a pic this weekend of the LBD. Shoe wise, I am going to suck it up and wear heels, since it's just for a few hours.

Also on the horizon, there's some strange magnetic energy passing through the studio that caused my new new Reliable V50 to most strangely malfunction. I posted a pic when it peed on my nice clean ironing board cover. All seems better now, but I'm holding my breath and treading carefully. I'll do a full review if it continues to behave, because it is a good iron.

Lastly, I also mentioned previously that for the November fundraising event, I am making a "sewing basket" for auction, complete with a sewing machine. I'll be putting it together Friday, so I'll post a picture of that this weekend as well. I think I've covered the basics, just need to grab some thread to toss in.

Just one more thing. If I suddenly disappear and stop blogging, it's only because I've gone away to recover from my addiction to candy corn. ;)

I hope your week has been amazing,


Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday in the Studio

How long have you had your ironing board? How often do you change the cover? Well, I've had my board since college days, and it's been over 20 years since I graduated from college. (Yes, I'm old. No, I have no idea how or when that happened.) I'm pretty sure it came from somewhere like K-Mart, because Target wasn't around back then, and I'm not sure about Wally World. Anyhow, the cover on my board had become really unsightly. The current cover had been on there for a couple of years at least, and I've had leaky iron issues lately. I had picked up actual ironing board cover fabric (the silver stuff) from Jo-Ann's, and a while back I purchased enough wool to use as padding.

Much to my surprise, there were a number of covers on the board: six, to be exact. Here are the first five. Ick.

And last but not least:

I remember each of these, including the folded up pink sheet that I added for extra padding, somewhere around the time when my 16 year old was a toddler....

It was a nice surprise to find that the top cover, which was still in good shape except for the stains on the top surface, was reversible, and clean on the reverse side. So after giving the board a good wipe down, I used my piece of wool (from as extra padding underneath the most recent pad, unstained and brand-spanking-new-looking side up. Ahh, so nice to have a fresh new ironing board cover. I tucked away my cover fabric for another day,and went about my business.

After dinner I went back up to the studio and placed the new V50 Reliable Iron on the pristine cover, and set it to the lowest temp. I was working on pattern alterations, and heard the iron's steam pump turn on. (I hadn't selected steam.) I turned around to find the iron leaking water like crazy from between the soleplate and the body of the iron, leaving the iron sitting in a puddle of water! I snapped a quick pic and tried to turn the steam off, but it would NOT shut off. I unplugged it and tried again a few minutes later. Same thing. I tried a third time, same thing again. It appears the steam pump is stuck on.

I'm really bummed, for two reasons. One, this was the replacement iron that Reliable sent me to replace the first one that leaked. I really want a Reliable that works, because it makes steam independent of temp setting. Two, the V50 gone crazy left a big water spot on my clean ironing board cover. :-( I'm hoping it dries without staining.

Also today I finished up another J. Stern Designs Tee that I had begun a week or two ago with fabric I wasn't loving. After putting on the sleeves and trying it on, I wadded it up and file thirteen'd it. The pattern is great, and I wear two that I made previously all the time. This was strictly a fabric issue. It was a lightweight poly stretch from Gorgeous Fabrics in a pretty shade of plum. I didn't care for the feel of the fabric, nor how lightweight it was, and it was not fun to work with, neither to cut or to sew. I went into it knowing I didn't like the fabric, but thought I could make it work. I hate to see things go to waste. I should have cut my losses - I ended up wasting my time instead. Lesson learned.

There was third project in the studio today, namely, pants pattern alteration on NL6083. I did a ton of alterations on this pattern (mostly because I need a bigger size) and hope to se up a muslin tomorrow. Hopefully it turns out better than the Tee wadder an the iron failure. Fingers crossed!

Hope your weekend was amazing!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday's Tea Bag Wisdom

"A gem cannot be polished without friction nor a man perfected without trials. "

- Chinese Proverb

Have a great day!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What's Making Me Tick This Week

Life is busy in the Fall. The kids are well into the school year, nearing the end of the first quarter, routines have fallen back into place. While I cherish the lazier, less structured days of summer, I don't mind the structure of the school year. But I miss the sewing time! The beginning of the school year also begins a season during which my time is divided amongst other commitments in addition to my family.

One of those commitments is a time consuming, albeit enjoyable task. I transpose church music for my daughter to play on her alto sax at church on Sundays. Church music is primarily written for piano, and must be transposed for any instrument which is in a different key than piano. While it takes a good chunk of time, it is both relaxing and a good exercise for my aging brain. I love church music - love to play it and love to sing it - and I really love to hear my daughter play it during the service. Her playing is beautiful, whether solo or with the rest of the musicians. As her Mother, hearing her play at Church warms my heart to know that she facilitates worship through her music. At her age I don't think she fully appreciates the impact the music has on the congregation, but I can't imagine a service without music. So each week I transpose several pieces of music, typically five or six. There are weeks I've been known to finish in the pew as the service is beginning, and sneak it onto her music stand just in time.

One of the other biggies time wise in the Fall is fundraising. There was an event Saturday and one a month from now. Saturday's event was the smaller time commitment of the two - it only involves one prep day and one day at the event, and was a lot of (tiring) fun. The event in November is a big one, and somehow has crept up so close it's making me a little nervous. Thank goodness we have a most capable committee! A big part of what makes this event fun is that we make themed baskets - some are huge - with primarily donated items, which are then raffled off. We do a silent auction as well. I try to donate a basket for the raffle each year with at least one home sewn item. Last year a woman close to the organization died of breast cancer, so in her memory I made a basket with items that all raised money for breast cancer research. I found fabric that was specific to the cause, and made an apron, a microwaveable hot pack filled with rice, along with a few other items. One of my dearest friends won the basket!
The apron was similar to this one:

This year my donated basket will have a sewing theme. My intention is to pick up an 'entry level', basic sewing machine and a few essential sewing tools [read = seam ripper] along with perhaps a sewing kit, i.e., an apron pattern and appropriate fabric. I have an extra copy of a sewing book with patterns included that will also go in. Tell me if I'm missing anything! I think that there are enough young women interested in sewing these days that it will be a popular basket. Last week I saw some decent looking, good brand name machines in the Walmart ad in the Sunday paper. I haven't had a chance to check on our new Walmart to see if the fabric and sewing area has returned, so I can do both things on that trip.

The cause we support is one that benefits children, with >99% of the proceeds of our event going directly to programs or physical facility improvements for the kids. It makes October ruthlessly busy, but it is completely worth all the effort and craziness.

I would LOVE to make an outfit for the event, preferably pants and a glitzy top. I fractured my foot, and primarily live in sneakers with orthotics these days (it was that or the dreaded 'boot'). By early November, I should be able to handle a normal flat shoe for an evening, but heels are out I'm afraid.

So I'm thinking something like this:

I like the wider pant leg, as it helps to even out my voluptuous hips. The top is the basic idea I'm looking for - simple, no frills, but I will probably change the sleeves. Not sure how, still have to play around with that. The goal is for the outfit to look dressy, but be practical. It is always a busy night.

I have a shimmery fabric in stash for the top that is described as plum, but the silver metallic threads running through it lighten it considerably. If I do go with this, I need to get some fabric for black pants. I'm thinking I need to pay Marisu (the local designer & fabric maven) a visit to see what she's got in store.

Also on my sewing radar, the Style Arc Linda pants have received lots of attention lately, and seem to fit almost everybody with little alteration.
I really want to make a pair for sporty wear (to go with my mandatory un-pretty footwear. Those may have to wait until post-event, though.

I have yet another J. Stern Designs Tee 90% completed, but in a fabric I'm not lovin'. It's a poly knit from Gorgeous Fabrics that seems to snag easily on the dry skin of my hands. It is very lightweight, and I may have to wear a cami under it, but it is a great color. I will post when I finish this tee, not to be redundant, but because I relaxed the fit of this tee below the bust while taking in the high chest area. I think it will be worth another post.

It's almost Monday already! Monday promises to bring with it lots of work that I must catch up on, yuck, but alas, it is a necessary evil. Since we are officially into Autumn, maybe I will take a few minutes to tuck away the summery decor and pull out a couple of autumn looking things. We had glorious weather this weekend to usher in the season, and we are actually sleeping with open windows, a real treat here. I truly hope your week is a wonderful one, filled with lots of sewing and other good stuff.